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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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“- and it got me thinking, y'know? If I can't trust Elton John with my taco, who can I trust?”

“Okay, is that some sort of weird, gross euphemism, or -”

“Chatter on the comms,” Steve warned, slinging his shield in a wide arc as two Doombots appeared in front of him. In the sky, Iron Man rocketed past with Hawkeye plastered along his back, clinging on for life.

“You are just no fun at all, Cap,” Tony griped, followed by a grunt as Steve watched him take down five Bots almost simultaneously. “This is child's play. Even Hammer-Tech stuff is more sturdy than this.”

“Yo, Tony, dude, slow down unless you want puke all over the back of your head -”

“When you have quite finished,” Natasha cut in strategically, and Steve could hear a number of alarming sounds in the background of her comm, “Thor and I have located Doom, and he's just let another estimated hundred Bots out of the back of a truck.”

“Verily, some assistance would be most useful!” Thor chipped in a few seconds later.

“Where's Hulk?” Steve asked hurriedly, already making his way to their location now this part of town seemed to be Doombot free.

“Oh, wait, I see him,” Tony called triumphantly. “He's a couple of blocks over, smashing his way through a bunch of stragglers.”

Steve just sighed. “All right. Iron Man, deposit Hawkeye down on a rooftop near Hulk, then double back and pick me up. Thor, Widow, ETA is three minutes. See if you can't keep Doom there until we can join you.”

A general chiming of agreement buzzed in his ear as he skidded to a stop to await Iron Man's arrival and, not thirty seconds later, the familiar whooshing he had come to associate with Tony's thrusters propelling him through the air filled his ears. He instinctively braced himself before the billionaire could even tell him to, because he knew Tony's game by now – having spent the months since the battle with Loki getting to know all of his team's quirks and go-tos in the battlefield – so he knew that the man wouldn't actually land on Steve's account.

“Incoming, Cap,” he chirped, before – just as Steve had suspected – swooping in and plucking him right off the ground without so much as touching down himself.

But Steve trusted Tony. He liked Tony – probably a little more than he should have – and they were now at a place in their fragile, fledgling friendship where he could confidently believe that Tony wasn't thinking about dropping him to his death every time they flew together like this.

They touched down without incident, and Tony placed Steve back on the ground with such gentleness that it made something weird flutter about in his chest. But, instead of focusing on that (and, indeed, panicking himself with what it meant), he got his head back in the game and assessed the situation.

Natasha hadn't been exaggerating when she'd estimated a hundred new Doombots – they marched down the street like a crude imitation of a Thanksgiving parade – and the amount of property damage already done in the ensuing fights with the Avengers was catastrophic.

A few metres away from them, Thor was swinging Mjolnir around like a man possessed – cutting through the metal Bots like they were made of cardboard – and Natasha was a little further away, round-housing her way through the crowd and towards Doom, who was stood atop the van from which he had set his creations free. When Steve listened a little closer, he realised the villain was... monologuing.

Of course he was.

“All right, Iron Man,” he instructed, springing into action, “get Doom off that truck – we need him without the tactical advantage. Think you can take him?”

“With pleasure, Cap,” Tony replied, already jetting off over the Doombots and towards Doom himself.

“Widow, Thor, good job on detainment,” he continued, slinging his shield at a Bot that got a little too close for his liking. “Widow, fall back a little keep taking these things down. I'm going to push forward – offer support to Iron Man, should he need it.”

He launched himself into the masses, then, and quickly took up Natasha's position as she backed off to join Thor, as instructed. Honestly, the Doombots were annoying, but relatively harmless, he thought to himself as he took three down with a single swipe of his shield. It was almost as though they were a distraction, really, and -

Then the full force of his thoughts hit him, and his heart clenched painfully in his chest. The Doombots were a distraction.

“Iron Man, status?” he called, already propelling himself through the Bots like a football player trying for a touchdown, and unable to see even a glint of red and gold through the hordes.

“He's -” Tony grunted, and the strain in his voice just made Steve push harder, move faster, “- a little stronger than he looks. Nothing I can't handle, though, Cap.”

“It's too easy!” Steve yelled, knocking the head right off a Doombot as he passed. “Tony, you were right – these things are shoddy quality.”

“Wait, hold up, did you just admit I was right?”

“Iron Man, this is serious! They're a distraction!” Steve cried, bursting through the last of the Doombots just in time to see their namesake toss Iron Man onto his back – where he went skidding across the street – and then pulled some sort of foreign gun out from under his cape.

Steve didn't think. He just put all the energy he had into his super serum enhanced muscles, and sprinted for the unmoving Iron Man suit before his brain had even had a chance to catch up.

“Tony!” he cried, but it was too late – he was in the way – as Doom fired what looked like a blue laser from the end of his gun. In one, last ditch effort, Steve swerved and tackled him, causing the villain to cry out in surprise and the grip he had on the gun to loosen. Only, in doing that, Steve received the full force of the laser in his face.

One flash of blue, a blinding pain, and then he was gone.


“Tony!” was the first word on Steve's lips as he dropped like a stone onto the ground, before the babbling of hundreds of voices assaulted his ears. His brain throbbed terribly against his skull, and he could barely get his limbs to behave for long enough to get himself back to his feet. Once he was stood, of course, he wished he had just stayed on the floor.

Anxiety began to churn in the pit of his gut as he looked around, because he wasn't where he had fallen. Strange, colourfully dressed people milled about in small groups, laughing and drinking like there weren't hundreds of Doombots stampeding around the city, and that terrified Steve in ways he couldn't even express. How had he gotten here? What had Doom done to him?

“Tony?” he tried again, over the tops of the crowd – which he now realised were in fancy dress – and earned a few glares for his trouble, which only furthered the sick bubbling of panic in his stomach.

“Hey, dude, your costume is awesome!” came the all too familiar voice of James Rhodes from somewhere behind him, and he could have cried with relief at hearing it. Only, as he whipped around to ask his acquaintance what the hell had happened, he felt his heart drop right out of his body at what he was met with.

He had only met Rhodes a grand total of three times, but he was good with faces, and the logical part of his mind was telling him that the man in front of him was, indeed, the same guy (albeit with a Mohawk and numerous gold chains hanging against his bared chest), whereas the irrational part of his brain was screaming that something was terribly, terribly wrong. Because yes, there was definitely a resemblance in the man's features, but this James Rhodes looked so much younger than Steve had ever seen him, and there was absolutely no recognition in his warm brown eyes.

“I – where am I?” he gasped, palms suddenly sweaty and cold as he curled them into fists. Then, because he needed to know, “What year is it?”

The Rhodes lookalike just laughed, and took a swig of the bottle in his hand. “Wow, how much have you had to drink? You're at Stark Mansion's annual New Year's party, but don't worry – the ball hasn't dropped yet.”

New Years? Steve's heartbeat was ramping up by the second, and he found he couldn't quite take a full breath. Which New Years? It had been the middle of July the last time he had checked, and, suddenly, the same, irrational little niggling at the back of his mind was taunting him with whispers of it's happened again, they're all gone, you're all alone.

He couldn't breathe. Distantly, he felt Rhodey grabbing for him as his knees buckled and he dropped back to the floor while his vision swam dangerously. Doom had sent him back in time with that laser – he had to have; it was the only reasonable explanation for Rhodey looking so young, and the fact it was now New Years Eve.

The grief was different this time, as it set – heavy and all encompassing – in his gut. His friends weren't dead, he kept telling himself as he tried to heave air into his spasming lungs, they just didn't know him yet, and, in some ways, that was worse – so, so much worse. His mind spun at the mere thought and, no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't get enough air inside him as his heart pounded against his chest.

What was wrong with him? Had Doom's laser (time ray, the taunting whisper in the back of his mind cackled) broken him somehow? Why couldn't he breathe?

“Tony,” he choked out again, this time as a half sob. He could hear more voices around him, but they sounded distant and stilted, as though he was hearing them down a long tunnel.

“- just help me get him up, all right? No, he's fine; he just wants to talk to Tony.”

Hands were grabbing at him – hauling him up from the floor – and he was grateful for the contact, because it anchored him to the Earth. It meant he couldn't float away into nothingness, which he was more than willing to believe was possibly in his current state of mind.

“Hey, you gotta be able to stand by yourself if you want to talk to Tony,” Rhodey called, dragging him back from the brink just a little with the mention of the genius' name.

Steve took a stuttered breath, then another, and felt the arms around him retract again, leaving him to fend for himself. He could stand on his own, though – even though he could feel his body physically shaking – and he could just about drag in breath, so that was enough for Rhodes, apparently.

“Okay, odd ball, follow me,” the young man sighed, grabbing Steve's wrist to lead him through the crowd.

Once Steve realised that the throngs of guests weren't – as he had originally thought – dancing, but, sort of... grinding against each other, he felt very uncomfortable, and made sure to keep his eyes studiously on the back of Rhodey's head. Soon enough, though, his arms were grazing bare skin as they brushed past, and he wondered (in a voice that sounded suspiciously like Clint this time) whether he could say he'd been part of an orgy now. Because that's what this was, he recognised dully – an orgy of scantily costumed drunks.

It was sort of funny, in a surreal kind of way. To his left, Indiana Jones was pressing a half-naked Princess Leia against a wall, and, to his right, Marty McFly was straddling the Terminator on a suspiciously damp looking couch. He even would have been proud of the fact that he got the references, if not for the fact that he couldn't see any costumes from characters that succeeded anything past the late eighties, and that just caused an aftershock of anxiety to churn in his gut.

“Hey, Tony, dude, don't tell me I never do anything for you,” Rhodes called, as they made it through the last of the party guests and out into a sort of sitting area. When what – on first glance – appeared to just be a couple of passed out girls on one of the couches moved to reveal Steve's worst nightmare, all he could do was stare, and try not to pass out.

Tony was a baby. If Rhodes hadn't specifically called him by name, he wouldn't have recognised the youth at all. Bruce had made him sit through the whole of Star Trek: The Next Generation, so Steve knew that the boy was dressed as Riker, with his maroon and black shirt with the insignia on the front, and his hair quaffed casually up and back. But Steve's eyes were immediately drawn to his chin, where the... the beard was drawn on. His skin was a little pale, and covered in smeared lipstick and hickeys, but distressingly void of facial hair.

“Well, hello, handsome,” baby Tony purred, sliding out from the pile of limbs to sit and properly address him – lewd, appreciative gaze lingering up and down Steve's body. “The costume's not quite right, of course – too squeaky clean, not enough pouches and straps – but ten out of ten for overall effect.”

And that was... so the last thing on Steve's mind. He was staring at a de-aged version of his team-mate and friend, in a room filled with hideously perverse people, and he had gone back in time. Suddenly, the world tilted around him again, but it was okay, because Tony was up and out of his seat in time to catch him.

“Woah there, baby blues,” he laughed, taking a great deal more of Steve's weight than he thought he'd be able to. “Had a little too much?”

This close, Steve could see the fogginess in Tony's eyes that came with excessive drinking, and, beyond that, anger and suffering that hadn't quite been drowned yet. It felt strangely soothing, though – to be held by him like this, even if this Tony wasn't Steve's Tony. He still smelled the same, under the faint reek of body odour and various women's perfume – like sandalwood and oil, with just a hint of something a little metallic – and it was enough of a familiarity to both harm and heal.

“Hey, the ball's about to drop!” someone called from across the room, drawing Steve out of his head a little. Around them, everyone began to count down from ten.

“Better run off and find your girlfriend for the midnight kiss,” Tony called over the countdown, and Steve could only shake his head, because what?

“I – I don't -”

“Oh, really?” Tony purred, looking at him oddly.

“Three, two, one -”

As cheers and shouts of celebration filled the room, Tony grabbed Steve by the chin, pulled his head down, and kissed him. “Happy 1990,” he whispered against his lips.


Steve didn't know how they got here, staggering through one of Stark Mansion's many bedroom doors in a flurry of huffed breath and skewed clothing. Downstairs had been the first time he had ever been kissed by another man, and he... he should probably think about what that meant – what that -

All thought was suddenly derailed from his mind as Tony got a hand on his dick through his suit, and Steve couldn't help how he groaned into the smaller man's mouth at the touch.

This was wrong. They shouldn't be doing this; not when Steve still felt so jittery with shock, and Tony was drunk. He must be drunk – his breath smelled and tasted like a brewery – but he was still so lucid, so highly functioning, and Steve... Steve needed this – to touch bare skin and feel the life underneath it; to know that, at least here, with him, some version of Tony was safe.

“Got such a nice dick,” the man in question panted as he continued groping Steve through the suit, all the while tugging him backwards towards the old, four-poster bed. “Gonna let me see it, big boy?”

“Yes, yes,” Steve replied quickly, because how could he not? He was still a little confused by the mess of feelings screaming for attention in his head, but his heart was telling him... this felt right. This felt good, and he shouldn't have to feel bad about it. He couldn't deny that his cock was hard in his suit, so obviously his body wasn't confused in the slightest.

Tony tugged his own shirt off as he fell backwards onto the bed, and Steve followed him down without another thought. Carefully, he ran his fingers across Tony's sparsely haired chest, because there was no arc reactor sitting in it. Of course, he had only ever seen one image of the thing – in Tony's file, where there was a brief description of the reasons why it was there – and had never seen it before in person, but he couldn't help but pine a little for the familiar blue glow that usually shone through Tony's clothes.

Slowly – because he really didn't know what Tony would and wouldn't allow – he leaned over and placed a light kiss right in the centre of his chest. When he got a shiver from the brunet, he figured he was on the right track. Of course, Steve had had sex before – he had been in the army, for Christ's sake; he'd seen the inside of more than one brothel, and more than one prostitute – he had just never, necessarily, done it with another man before. He had a pretty good idea of where everything had to go, though, so he was fairly sure he could do this with at least some varying degree of success.

“I'm not saying that what you're doing isn't great,” Tony drawled, chest rumbling under Steve's lips, “but I'm going to actually die if you don't give me a little more soon. Could you at least give the nips some love, or something?”

Despite everything, that startled a little laugh out of Steve. It just sounded exactly like something his Tony would say. Smile turning a little wistful, he dragged his lips sideways and did as Tony had asked – licking across the younger man's nipple, before taking it into his mouth to suck and play with.

“There you go,” Tony sighed, head thumping back against the mattress even as his hands moved to take Steve's helmet off, and then bury themselves unashamedly in his hair. The fresh air felt heavenly against his sweaty forehead.

He continued playing with Tony's nipples for a while – rolling them with his tongue and teeth, and just generally getting used to the fact that they weren't breasts – until, apparently, Tony decided that just wasn't good enough any more, and, without warning, rolled them both over so he was laid out completely on top of Steve. They kissed again – this time heated and with definite intention – while Tony snaked a hand down Steve's sides and rolled their hips enticingly together.

“As hot as it would undoubtedly be, fucking you in a Captain America suit,” the younger man purred, while all Steve could do was gasp and roll his hips in time, “I need to see you naked, like, yesterday.”

With a little grunt, Steve got his hands between them and pawed at the front of his suit, before finding the hidden zipper and opening it quickly. On top of him, Tony leaned back to sit in his lap, and he tried to ignore the heated stare being aimed at him as he pulled his arms out of the sleeves. A few seconds later it didn't even matter, though, because Tony was rolling sideways, onto the bed, so he could get his pants off.

When they reconvened, moments later, they were both gloriously naked, and the slide of skin on skin as Steve guided Tony onto his back was nothing short of phenomenal. He leaned down to kiss him again – because he couldn't help it, because he needed the contact, because he wanted to – and revelled in the groan he drew out of Tony's mouth when he slid his tongue past his lips. His hips were rocking absent-mindedly all the while, rubbing his cock against the crease behind Tony's balls, and, when the other man groaned again and threw his head back against the pillows, he took the opportunity and attacked his neck.

“Are you going to let me fuck you, or what?” Tony muttered against Steve's mouth, and when Steve shook his head, he frowned deeply.

“No,” he replied softly, kissing slack lips again. “Tonight, I'm going to take care of you.”

Because the anger and suffering were still bubbling away in Tony's eyes – it had never really left since he'd first noticed it back at the party – and Steve instantly had a pathological need to make it better. He had never seen his Tony look like this one did, and, while he was here, he might as well try to help.

“Um...” Tony didn't seem to be able to comprehend his words, and it was a little devastating. “Well, I mean, you're sure you wouldn't rather me suck you off? You can fuck my face, or -”

Shaking his head, Steve captured his lips again, and made sure to pour every little bit of protection into the kiss. Tony grunted a little, but eventually settled down and melted under the attention – obviously resolved to letting Steve have his way. He gave a particularly hard roll of his hips, and his dick slipped – sweat slick – between Tony's cheeks, forcing a groan out of them both.

“Okay, yeah, fine, whatever,” Tony rambled, breathless, as they parted for air. “You can totally be on top – just fucking get on with it.”

Things were a bit of a blur from there. Tony reached out and rummaged through a drawer in the bedside cabinet (and Steve saw glimpses of things in there that would give him nightmares for a while), before flicking a rubber at him and resettling on his back again with a bottle of lube. Steve was entranced, condom forgotten in his hand, as he watched Tony work himself open – first with a single digit disappearing inside himself, and working up to three whole fingers spreading himself wide.

When he seemed satisfied with the amount of prep, the brunet rolled himself over and presented his ass to Steve, shooting a smirk over his shoulder. “You going to sit there admiring the view, or are you going to do something about this?” He reinforced his words by shaking his ass a little.

It was a very nice ass.

With fumbling fingers, Steve just about managed to get the condom into place and – it really was a little hole – smothered his dick with lube for good measure. The only thing to do then was to position himself between Tony's legs and, taking just a second to appreciate the man's lean, olive back, he bent forwards and slipped the head of his dick inside. It was a smooth glide from there – that felt absolutely incredible – but Tony hissed in discomfort underneath him, so he came to an immediate stop, fully seated.

“You okay?” he whispered, kissing the side of Tony's neck so he could indulge himself and take in the other man's scent again. “Do you need me to -”

“No, no, fine,” Tony gasped, squirming a little. “Jesus, just... fuck, feels like you rammed your goddamn arm inside me.”

“We can stop -” Steve suggested, already preparing himself to pull slowly out again.

“No!” Tony snapped, seemingly angry all of a sudden. “No, just give me a second, shit.”

“All right,” Steve agreed good naturedly. Things like this didn't happen to him often, and that was excluding the whole time travel thing, so he was going to make sure this was perfect. “Just say the word. I can wait.”

He didn't think there was anything particularly funny in what he said, but his words made Tony shake with laughter underneath him. He moaned against his shoulder as the smaller man tightened unintentionally around him, but forced himself not to just grind his cock infinitesimally further up inside him in retaliation.

“What's – ah – so funny?” he panted, shifting his arms a little so they wrapped around each of Tony's shoulders.

“Nothing, nothing, it's just... you're nothing like any of the other people I've slept with recently,” Tony replied, settling down again with his head resting against his folded arms, and giving another tentative squirm.

Steve frowned. From Tony's file, he knew that the man had been born in May 1970, and if it had only just turned 1990 (he still quivered a little at the thought), that made him... nineteen years old. How many other people could he have slept with?

But, before he could ask – or stop himself from asking, because he was pretty sure that would be bad bedroom etiquette – Tony muttered, “I'm okay now. You can go.”

Steve just nodded, then, tentatively, pulled out a bit, before sliding back in. Tony hissed a little again, but he didn't say stop, so Steve did it again – out and in – and then again, hoping it would get better. A few, slow grinds later, and Tony let out a sharp little gasp, before moaning loudly and pushing his ass back a bit to meet Steve's thrusts.

“Fuck, there,” he gasped, and Steve did as he was told, angling the head of his dick for whatever place in Tony he had just hit, because – apparently – it was a winner. “God, yes, right there, bitch, come on!”

After a little start at the derogatory term (because he had never heard his Tony use that word at someone directly, never mind himself), Steve really got into it. He shifted a little to wrap one arm around Tony's chest, while the other went beneath them both as he finally bit the bullet and grabbed the other man's cock. It was only half hard, but getting harder by the minute as he kept up his rhythm – the sound of skin on skin and their alternating moans quickly filling the room. He jerked Tony in time with his thrusts, and, if the way he quivered underneath him was anything to go by, he was doing a good job.

“Ah, fuck, go faster,” Tony panted bossily, snapping his hips forwards and back to meet Steve. “Harder.”

“I – if you're sure that's -”

Pound my tight ass,” Tony groaned, breath hitching as Steve, apparently, grazed that special spot again. “Please, please, I'll beg, I'll -”

With a grunt, Steve pressed his chest more firmly against Tony's back and ratcheted up his thrusts – using his grip on the other man as leverage for his pounding hips. Tony wailed underneath him, back bowing a little, and gasped for breath. He was getting close; Steve could tell in the way his hole started clenching sporadically around him, but it was fine, because heat was pooling in Steve's belly, too.

“Come on, baby,” Tony moaned, forcing his hips back to meet Steve, thrust for thrust. “You gonna come? Your dick gonna blow in my tight ass?”

Steve whined helplessly, and he was going to come if Tony didn't stop. He buried his face in the young genius' neck again – dick beginning to tingle with the stimulation – and, timing himself just right, bit down into smooth flesh as he angled his hips for the other man's prostate, and gave his dick a firm tug for good measure.

Tony screamed into the pillows at his head – hands white-knuckled in the sheets – as his whole body tensed, before, with a little cry, Steve felt him release over his hand. Of course, the tightening of Tony's body around him was his undoing, too. He managed maybe three more thrusts – jerking Tony softly through his orgasm – before his own hit him like a freight train and he was groaning into the flesh of the other man's shoulder as he came, trembling and breathless.

He took maybe a second to process the fact that that had actually just happened, before, with a little groan, he reached down to slowly pull himself free – soiled condom and all. Beneath him, Tony hissed in discomfort again, before his arms gave out and he collapsed onto the bed, spent.

“That was... that...” the genius mumbled into his pillow, as Steve got up to discard the condom. “I've never been the one to... first. That was – how did you...” he trailed off into a little mumble, and, when Steve padded back over to the bed, he realised – with a start – that the guy was already asleep.


He shuffled around at the side of the bed for a moment – not totally sure what the protocol was in this situation – before, throwing caution to the wind, he pulled the covers out from under Tony, then climbed in and threw them back over them both. The brunet gave a little grunt, but just rolled over and went back to sleep.

After a few moments of just watching the rise and fall of Tony's naked back, Steve did the same.


Steve was decidedly unrepentant of his actions in the morning that followed. He had left Tony – still sleeping like the dead – back in the room they had shared as he rose with the sun (finding himself still wanting to kiss the man, even after the shock and horror of the previous day had passed, and choosing to ignore what that might mean) to find some breakfast. He spotted Rhodey, equally as passed out, in a room not too far down the corridor, but decided to let the man sleep off his hangover.

The kitchen had been relatively easy to find, and an elderly man who – after a moment of obvious shock at seeing a stranger in an old bathrobe staggering though the door – had introduced himself as Edwin Jarvis (something that made Steve's heart pang a little for no apparent reason) and then immediately set about starting to cook.

“I didn't see Master Stark retire the party last night,” Jarvis mused by way of a conversation starter as he cracked eggs into a frying pan. Steve couldn't help the way he almost choked on his orange juice.

“Oh, I, uh... made sure he got to bed safe.”

“If I may, Sir,” the butler replied with just a hint of a smirk, “I rather think you did a little more than that.”

For a moment, Steve was confused, and embarrassed, before noting the way the man's eyes traced over his chest and, looking down, realised there was a series of nearly-healed hickeys splattered across the sliver of revealed skin. Tony must have done them at some point last night without him even realising.

Clearing his throat a little to distract the other man, he pulled his borrowed robe more tightly around himself to cover the incriminating evidence splashed across his body. He was, actually, about to try and summon some form of apology (though, for what, he wasn't sure – they were both consenting adults, after all), but needn't have bothered, because Tony chose that moment to make his entrance.

The man came limping into the room, looking absolutely wrecked, in less clothes than even Steve wore. His eyes were barely open and bloodshot; his hair was a complete bird's nest, and his body was littered in little bruises and hickeys.

He was perfect.

“Oh,” the genius came to a laboured stop in the doorway, staring at Steve with an unreadable expression on his face, before, “so you're the reason my ass is sore,” he continued his hobble to the table.

That was... a little hurtful. Okay, more than a little hurtful; Steve felt his heart drop out of his feet upon the realisation that Tony didn't remember a single second of what they had shared last night. It was silly, he knew – he was more than aware of Tony's past exploitations with bed partners, thanks to the internet (which, he belatedly realised, wasn't really a thing yet, was it?) - and he knew that he shouldn't have expected anything more, but... he had kind of been expecting something a little more.

“Your coffee, Sir,” Jarvis announced rather loudly as Tony took his seat at the table, and, if Steve didn't know better, he would have assumed the man did it for his benefit. “Breakfast will be along shortly. Also, Mister Stane has already left three messages for you – one concerning the funeral, and the other two... concerning your choice of bed partners.”

Tony scowled, and Steve felt like he should feel a little offended. He knew little of Stane – only that he had eventually been responsible for Tony's stint in Afghanistan, and had been killed after trying to recreate one of the Iron Man suits – but he immediately took a disliking to the man.

“It's New Years day. It's a Monday, for fuck's sake. Can't he just let me be for one day?” the young brunet whined, squirming a little uncomfortably in his seat, and Steve realised it was because his ass felt tender.

He didn't know how he felt about that.

“Sir, the funeral is in two days,” Jarvis replied, surprisingly gentle, as he placed a steaming hot plate of food in front of both Tony and Steve.

Tony looked at his food as though, suddenly, the very thought of eggs and toast offended him. “It is?”

“Funeral?” Steve asked, and it took both Tony and Jarvis' heads snapping up sharply for him to realise he had said it out loud. Dread bubbled up inside him, and he didn't even know why, but Tony's face had immediately closed off, and he was left feeling terrified for reasons he couldn't quite explain.

“Why the fuck is he even still here?” the genius spat at Jarvis, before shooting to his feet and knocking his chair over in the process. “We have rules, Jarvis. Get him out of here.”

Steve had no idea what was going on – only that Tony looked like he was on the verge of tears, and Jarvis didn't look much better. As the young man stormed past where he sat, rooted to his seat, he thought he heard him mutter, “Thought you might actually have been different to the others this time,” under his breath, before disappearing from sight.

What came next was, quite possibly, the most awkward silence of Steve's life. Both he and Jarvis stared after where Tony had just disappeared, before the old man cleared his throat and leaned down to put the felled chair back to rights.

“I – I don't understand what I did,” Steve sighed miserably, and got another sharp look for his troubles, before Jarvis' expression was schooled into something a little kinder.

“You'll have to excuse his behaviour,” the butler sighed, himself, taking the seat that Tony had just vacated. “Considering his recent troubles, I'd say he actually behaved quite admirably. Storming out is certainly a step up from breaking the windows, in any case.”

“I still don't understand,” Steve all but whined, because this Tony was obviously self destructive, and hurting, and he didn't know why, or how to make it better. He still wasn't quite sure why he felt so strongly about making it better.

Instead of saying anything else, Jarvis just sighed again and reached out to pick up the morning paper sitting on the other side of the table, which he then handed to Steve. Reading the headline, the world began to spin a little once more, because it said Stark funeral two days away: still no statement from young heir, and he suddenly understood, with glistening clarity, just exactly what he had done wrong.

Tony's parents had just died – nearly everyone in the world must have been aware – and Steve had come bumbling in, asking painful questions to a boy who had been left completely on his own. Steve was dirt. He was less than dirt – he was a piece of shit – and he felt sick with empathy and regret.

“You seem like a nice fellow,” Jarvis said, out of nowhere, and Steve managed to look up at him, “and what you do with Mister Stark is none of my business, but... you don't seem like any of his usual bed partners, and – pardon me, if it is not my place – I rather think that means something.”

“I – I don't even know him,” Steve whispered past the lump in his throat. He didn't know this Tony, after all – obviously, if he had so willingly hopped into bed with him without stopping to wonder why. His Tony, as far as he could tell, had never had a one night stand so long as he had known him.

“I don't think anybody does,” Jarvis sighed, before getting to his feet again, “but let me ask you this: did you wake up next to him this morning?”

“I – yes?”

Jarvis nodded, as though that information was the most interesting thing he had ever heard. “I only ask, because the young Sir usually takes to immediately leaving his guests for his workshop, but he chose to stay with you.”

“He kinda just... passed out, to be honest,” Steve muttered, a little bit ashamed of himself. Now he thought about it, that seemed like something only a drunk person would do, which meant – at least on some level – he had taken advantage.

“He felt comfortable enough with you to sleep next to you,” Jarvis corrected. “That isn't nothing. Maybe you would do well to remember that.”

And, obviously done with the conversation, the butler pushed Tony's plate at Steve, and gestured for him to scram. After a few moments of trying to gather his spiralling thoughts, he took the plate and went after him.


It took Steve half an hour to find Tony – the mansion was a big place, after all, and he was used to the tower. In his search, he had time to think properly – for the first time – about everything that had transpired in the last twelve or so hours. He had travelled back in time, met (and subsequently fallen into bed with) a younger member of his team, only to then come to the realisation that said team member was obviously grieving over the recent death of his parents.

It was a lot to take in.

What seemed to be the more pressing matter, however (and one he rather stupidly had neglected to think about) was how on earth he was going to get back to his Tony. He also had to stop referring to Tony as his, because there was obviously nothing going on between them, and there probably never would be, now he had ruined everything by sleeping with and pissing off this younger version of the man.

But how was he going to get home? He had assumed that the team would be working on something to get him back, but what if they couldn't? Anxiety flared in his chest at the thought of having to start from scratch in another new world – one without even the Avengers to give him purpose.

“- you think I care about what the stocks are doing? I can sleep with whoever I want, Obie! I – what? I've always liked men, too! It's not – no, it's not a phase, for god's sake! If I want someone's dick in my ass, I -”

The sound of Tony's distress immediately drew Steve's attention, and – thanks to the super soldier serum – he could follow his ears to a door at the end of the corridor that stood ajar. He paused before entering, though – some sense of courtesy and civility stopping him from interrupting the conversation.

“Well, what if I actually like him? Did you ever think about that? Don't laugh at me – I know what you're doing -” The voice paused, then a heavy sigh filtered through the crack in the door. “I know it is. Yes, I'm going to be there, I – speech? What would I say, 'they were both much too occupied with their respective careers to even acknowledge I existed'? Because it's true, that's why! No, I... fine, I'll figure something out. Yes, okay. Bye, Obie.”

Steve heard the phone being placed down, and then another audible sigh, followed by a loud thunk of some kind. Deciding now was probably his best shot, he knocked on the door and pushed his way inside.

“I'm not going to apologise, Jarvis – you know the rules about one night stands,” Tony muttered from his place behind a large, leather covered desk where he sat with his head on his crossed arms. Looking around him, at the books and filing cabinets, as well as photos on the walls, Steve realised – with a pang of sympathy – that this must have been Howard's study.

“I just wanted to, uh... apologise,” he replied, stepping further into the room. Tony jerked in surprise at the sound of his voice, and immediately sat up.

“What the hell are you still doing here?” he bit, eyes cold and distrusting. “I told Jarvis to -”

“Jarvis is the one that sent me,” Steve cut in quickly, holding out the – by now – cold plate of food. “He wanted me to give you this, and I wanted to apologise for earlier.”

“Why?” Tony asked, and Steve could have cried at the genuine confusion working its way across his face.

“Because I spoke without thinking about the consequences, and I... didn't realise. About your parents -”

“It's fine,” Tony cut him off, this time – probably a little too quickly. “Whatever, it doesn't matter. Just put the food down, and go.”

It was only then that Steve realised he had nowhere to go, or he would have left this Tony to grieve in peace. “I can't,” he stuttered, more than aware of how pathetic that sounded. Tony's eyes immediately narrowed.

“Why not?”

Great, Steve, fantastic. What are you supposed to tell him now, genius? That you're the real Captain America, sent from the future, where you're his future self's friend? Ha.

“Wait, are you a hooker? I paid you, didn't I -”

“I'm not a hooker!” Steve protested, equal parts offended and relieved that Tony seemed to have moved on from his reason for staying on his own. “Why would you think I'm a hooker?”

“Tall, handsome, Captain America look-alike,” Tony mused to himself, taking a sip out of a glass that Steve – with a bubble of worry – realised was scotch. “What was I supposed to think?”

“Do you sleep with a lot of hookers?” Steve asked instead, unable to keep all the judgement out of his voice, it seemed, because Tony slammed his glass down on the desk – expression suddenly livid.

“Is that really any of your damn business?” he spat. “You're just some guy I let fuck me. You're not my damn boyfriend, or my father -”

Silence rang through the room as Tony skidded to a complete stop, having seemed to have shocked even himself with his words. As quickly as the young man's anger had come, it disappeared again and left him looking small and fragile behind that big desk.

“I'm sorry,” Steve apologised softly. “It isn't my place to judge you; I don't even know you.”

“Yeah, well,” Tony laughed, and it was a bitter, miserable thing. “I'm sure the press will psychoanalyse the shit out of that when you go running.”

Frustrated did not even cover how Steve felt in that moment. “Why, why, would I go to the press?” he asked exasperatedly. “I like you, Tony. I wouldn't -”

“Nobody likes me. My own damn parents didn't like me.” Tony froze again. “I don't understand why I keep saying these things to you.”

Steve, to his credit, had finally been shocked into silence, because he didn't understand, either. The phone rang again before he had a chance to answer, though, so it didn't even really matter. With a sigh, Tony picked it up off the hook.

“Hello?” he asked, wearily. “Oh, hi, Aunt Peg -”

The rest of the conversation was cut off by a loud rushing in Steve's ears, and he had to cling at the edge of the desk to stop himself from falling over. Tony knew Peggy. Tony knew Peggy. She was right there, on the other end of that phone, and he could speak to her – he could -

“Yes, I swear, he looks just like him! My own Captain America,” Tony grinned, and that brought Steve back to reality a little. “What? No, why would I -? I am not keeping a stranger in my house so you can gawk at him at the funeral. No! What – fine! Whatever, yes, so be it... Yeah, love you, too. Bye, aunt Peggy.”

Steve was very quickly developing the, potentially, worst headache he had ever had.

“You really do look like him, though,” Tony continued after he had put the phone down, as though none of the conversation had ever happened, and Steve just couldn't keep up any more. “Captain America. You look like him. The hair's a little wrong, but not a bad effort.”

“Yeah, I, uh... get that a lot,” was all he could think to reply, and it just seemed to make Tony sigh.

“Listen, you seem to want to stay, and my aunt, apparently, is desperate to meet you,” he shrugged, taking another huge gulp of his scotch, “so do what you want, okay? Just... I don't do clingy.”

Steve knew that was the best he was going to get at the moment – and he couldn't exactly form a coherent sentence after what he had just witnessed – so, with a nod as a thank you, he turn-tailed and left.


Jarvis managed to find him some clothes that fit (and Steve had a sneaking suspicion they had been Howard's, which made him feel dirty and strange in all kinds of ways), and he spent the rest of the day reacquainting himself with an era that he had only finished reading about a few weeks ago – at least, a few weeks to him.

By the time Jarvis directed him into a bed that evening – with a pleasantly surprised look on his face upon realising that Steve was still there – he was absolutely exhausted, but buzzing with ideas to help his situation. His first thought was that he could go out and find a younger version of Doom – probably not yet evil – and ask him to try and build another ray gun that would send him back to the future. It was a long shot, but it could work.

His second idea (one which he was more loathe to do) was to tell Tony that he was, indeed, from the future, but not give his identity away, and see if he could help. So far, he was fairly sure the brunet didn't even know his name, so that was fine, but he didn't want to dump so much on him with his parents' funeral so close. That, and this Tony's temper actually scared him a little bit.

He was on the verge of sleep when his door swung open and a figure came staggering in. Tony flopped down onto the spare side of his bed with all the grace of a one legged duck – smelling like a brewery, and clearly not in his right mind – before proceeding to try and take his shirt off. Try, because he really wasn't getting very far with it.

“Jarvis tol' me y'were still here,” he grinned, slurring helplessly. “My turn t'fuck you t'night -”

“No, Tony,” Steve disagreed immediately, holding a hand out to stop the boy as he leaned down for a sloppy kiss. Immediately – despite the drink – his eyes turned to ice.

“Why not?”

“Because you're very drunk, so you can't give consent to anything right now,” he explained patiently, even though Tony was still struggling with his shirt buttons. “Why don't you just lie down with me for a little while, instead?”

Tony looked completely offended when, gently, Steve pulled his hands away from his shirt and tried to lead him down into a lying position. “Don' wanna,” he whined pitifully, but went without too much trouble.

“There, see,” Steve breathed softly once Tony was laid next to him. “Doesn't that feel better?”

Tony hummed non-committally, but his eyes flickered shut all the same. “M'tired,” he sighed. “Do wha' y'want; jus' don' wake me up.”

It took Steve a moment to catch onto what the other man was saying, but – when he did – he felt absolutely mortified. Immediately, he scooped Tony up and drew him into his chest, where he held him there.

“Whar're y'doin'?” Tony mumbled, but gave no protest.

“I just... needed a hug,” Steve replied, and hated how his voice shook. “I would never do that to you, Tony. I would never do anything without your permission.”

“Oh. Okay,” Tony nodded, but he sounded confused, and there really was nothing worse that could happen, Steve thought. “You can keep huggin' me, though. Like it.”

Steve said nothing – just held the boy that much closer – and continued to do so until they both fell asleep.


Holding Tony up against the toilet bowl as the boy puked up all the alcohol in his stomach was probably not the best time to realise you were in love, Steve thought. But, as he whispered soothing words and ran a gentle hand across the young man's heaving back, he realised there was really nothing else that the warm, elated bubbling in his chest could be.

He was screwed.


Steve would never have dreamed of telling Tony about his revelation, but, even if he had wanted to, he wouldn't have found the time, what with the whole of the next day being taken up by visitors traipsing in and out of the mansion to discuss funeral matters with the new Stark figurehead. He and Tony were currently in a strange place, anyway: Tony had woken up that morning with Steve wrapped protectively around him on the bathroom floor, and had freaked out a little.

Now, all Steve could do was watch and sympathise from afar as person after person swept into Howard's office to talk about flowers, music, whatever, and Tony looked decidedly more hagged as the day went on. Steve just wanted to take him into his arms and protect him from all the bad things in the world – even the inside of his own head – but he knew Tony wouldn't allow it. Moreover, he had to stop getting so attached, and find a way back to his Tony, anyway.

That thought was at the forefront of his mind, until Tony stormed into the library where he had tucked himself to read up on 'new' theories about the existence of time travel. The boy looked an absolute mess, as he stomped across the room and – without a word – threw himself down on top of Steve like a dead starfish.

“Uh -” was all he managed, before he was shushed.

“Why are you still here?” Tony asked quietly, but this time the question didn't sound accusatory like all the times before.

“Because I... care about you?” Steve replied uncertainly.


At that question, he sighed, and put his book down. “Because you're a good person, Tony,” he explained, reaching out to run a gentle hand through the other man's hair. “Whether you think so, or not. You're clever, and funny, and you have a good heart. You're going to do so many amazing things – I can just tell – and you're going to find someone, some day, who's going to love you for exactly who you are – good and bad.”

Tony let out a quiet, shaky breath, and tucked his face into Steve's neck. “You make me feel safe, and I don't know why,” he whispered, instead of addressing anything Steve had just said. “I feel safer, right here, right now, than at any other time in my life.”

And Steve wanted to curse and throttle Howard for what he had done to this poor, innocent, beautiful young man, but he just settled for wrapping his arms around him, instead. “I'm glad,” he sighed.

“I -” Tony faltered, and it was enough of a shock that Steve glanced down at him. “Will you come, tomorrow? To the funeral? Not because Aunt Peggy wants to meet you... I just – I don't want to do it on my own, and you keep me calm, even though I can't figure out why, and I just -”

“Of course I will,” Steve grinned, because this felt like the biggest breakthrough he had ever had with another human being. “I will absolutely be there, if that's what you want.”

Instead of any more words, Tony just let out a deep breath and sagged against him contentedly.


Never, in a million years, did Steve expect to be faced with this choice. They were leaving in fifteen minutes, for Christ's sake – he was already in his hastily tailored funeral garb – so why, now, did a portal decide to appear on his bedroom wall? He knew it must be the others, giving him a chance to get back to the future – it was the same blue colour as the ray had been, after all – but, somehow, he was glued to the spot.

This Tony needed him – today more than ever – so how could he possibly think about abandoning him to go back home? He could stay here – grow old, and live out his days with this Tony, and know, somewhere along the lines, he would be his Tony again, anyway.

“Hey, you ready in there?” came a knock at the door and Tony's voice, and Steve instantly made up his mind.

“Yeah, nearly done,” he called back, finishing up the knot on his tie and taking a step towards the door. “Just a sec -”


And that was... that was his Tony's voice, calling to him from the portal. He froze.

Steve, please don't be dead, please -”

He was striding back to the blue light without really consciously deciding to do so, because Tony sounded distraught – sounded heartbroken – and he couldn't -

He stopped, just shy of the anomaly's glittering surface, and stared into the abyss. He didn't know what to do – he didn't know who -

Before he could make his mind up, a hand shot out of the portal, and he was hurled into the light.


He hit the ground, gasping and sobbing, because he hadn't even said goodbye – hadn't had the chance to tell Tony how proud he was of him, even if his parents hadn't been, and -

“Steve, buddy, speak to me, please? Tell me you're okay, because if you're not -”

And then he saw him – his Tony, hunched over him with nothing short of panic written into every line on his face – and he had his beard, and he just looked so happy, and -

He was kissing him within an inch of his life before he even finished tugging him down onto the floor with him, and Tony let out a surprised noise – as did the other Avengers stood somewhere close, Steve recognised distantly – but didn't pull away. If anything, he was... he was kissing back.

“Shit, okay, you had us worried sick, you asshole!” he panted when they finally pulled away long enough to get a breath in. “Why the hell did you take that laser for me? I was in the suit -”

Steve didn't let him finish – just tugged his face forwards and devoured his lips and tongue again like he would never get to again, like he couldn't breathe without Tony there, entwined with him.

“I love you,” he whispered, over and over again, into the brunet's mouth, and then wouldn't let him pull away with a startled sound. “I do, I love you, and I know you don't feel the same way – it's fine – I just -”

“Like hell he doesn't feel the same way,” Clint snapped from somewhere above them. “He's been crying and throwing things for the past three days – of course he fucking loves you, idiot.”

“Shut up, Clint,” Steve and Tony both snapped at the same time, and then grinned at each other.

“I, uh, yeah,” Tony muttered, reaching up to scratch the back of his head. “I might love you, and stuff.”

Instead of saying anything else, Steve grabbed Tony by the waist, hefted him up over his shoulder (much to the genius' surprise and disgust) and then carried him past their team-mates, out of the workshop, and towards the nearest bedroom.


“I thought you were dead,” Tony whispered against Steve's naked chest as they laid, entwined, on top of soiled sheets. “The laser hit, and you screamed, and then you were just... gone. I thought it was my fault.”

Steve gave a little discontented hum, and hugged Tony closer to him so he could place a loving kiss amongst his dark hair. “Couldn't help myself,” he mumbled, eyes closed. “Saw you in trouble and had to help.”

Tony scoffed against his neck, before placing a little kiss there. “Trust me to bag the world's nicest guy.”

“Well, I disagree, but thank you,” Steve replied, beginning to rub a soothing hand up and down his lover's toned back.

“I think I have a type when it comes to guys,” Tony continued as though Steve hadn't spoken at all. “The only other guy I ever slept with was nice, too. Or, I thought he was, but he kind of bailed on me when things got tough. I expected it, I suppose, though, so whatever.”

Steve stilled completely, and his mind went blank, before hundreds of questions hit him as once. Did Tony mean him? Had he been Tony's... first? Did Tony remember him at all – could he, because it had been time travel?

“I know, not the best pillow talk,” Tony went on, oblivious to Steve's turmoil, “but he even kind of looked like you, y'know? Which, I suppose, was a good thing, because I think he was a Captain America look-alike, or something, but his hair wasn't right -”

“I get that a lot,” Steve whispered before he could stop himself, and then desperately hoped Tony hadn't heard him. If the way the genius froze in his arms was anything to go by, he, sadly, had.

“It... it was you?” Tony whispered, turning ever so slowly to look up at him. “You were -”

“You pulled me though,” Steve began before Tony could finish, “before I could even say goodbye. I was going to stay – I was, I swear – at least until after the funeral, because I made you a promise, and -”

Tony cut him off with a desperate kiss. “I thought,” he gasped, kissing Steve again and again. “All these years, I thought you didn't -”

“But look what you did, Tony!” Steve insisted, because the other man didn't even need to finish his sentence for him to understand. “All by yourself – look what you built, created. Look how far you've come. I couldn't be more proud of you if I tried.”

For a second, Steve thought Tony might cry. Instead, the genius leaned forwards and pressed one last, lingering kiss to his lips.

“Thank you,” he whispered.