It’s been a while, sure, but it’s far from his first rodeo and he knows exactly what’s about to happen when the door of the black van in front of him rolls back to reveal four armed men in black ski masks.
So yeah, not the best way to kick off the week.
He’d had a great weekend. After months of toying with it, scrapping the idea only to circle back around, he’d finally committed and built the mechanized suit he’s envisioned since the “Avengers” first appeared on the scene a few months ago. Part of the reason he’d tried to scrap it so many times was how nervous he’d been to tell Steve. Steve didn’t like to talk much about the mysterious team of superheroes running around their city these days, so Tony had sort of assumed that expressing his desire to join them might make things tense to say the least, if not start an outright fight. To Tony’s pleasant surprise, Steve had instead been weirdly over the moon about it all. Told him to go for it. Went on and on about how the Avengers would be lucky as hell to have him. Practically rewarded him, jumped his bones no less than five minutes after he announced his intentions. So that had been great.
He supposes if he wants to be a superhero this might only become more common. The kinds of things the Avengers deal with tend to be far stranger, but still, not a bad idea to have a practice run of sorts.
He takes stock of what he knows. They’ve got his head covered with some kind of cloth sack and his hands are bound pretty tight, but he isn’t tied to the chair they’ve shoved him into so that’s something. They separated him from his suitcase, though he’s fairly sure they don’t know what’s inside. They took him in broad daylight, two blocks from SI headquarters and smack dab in the middle of Manhattan, which means they’re serious but not particularly smart. Smart would be kidnapping him somewhere out of view, giving themselves more of a headstart—the news of his capture is probably on every screen in the state by now. Those guns aren’t for show though, which means they likely don’t care. Probably plan on disposing of him quickly once they get what they came after him for.
It’s always ransom or building something when people kidnap him. The past decade or so it’s leaned towards the latter, though Tony supposes ransom is a possibility given that his relationship with Steve is public knowledge nowadays. Steve himself doesn’t know yet that he could access Tony’s accounts should he need to, and Tony has no reason to suspect his account manager of blabbing, but it’s a possibility nonetheless. Rhodey and Pepper have also had access for a number of years now.
They’ve been driving for less than an hour when the car jolts to a stop.
There’s some scattered bickering—“what the hell was that?”, “don’t stop, moron, we have to keep going” “it won’t fucking move!”—and eventually some are sent out to investigate. He thinks two of the four. There’s a couple of thumps, a short yelp, then silence. The sound of movement follows, presumably as the remaining kidnappers ready themselves for further attack.
Tony hears something above him—slicing or cutting, something to do with the roof—then a loud thud as someone lands in the car, he thinks on top of one of the kidnappers. He tenses at the sound of gunshots but there’s a couple of forceful slams and it’s all over in under ten seconds. He forces himself to take a steady breath as he runs possible outcomes in his mind. Maybe the kidnappers shot the intruder. Maybe the intruder won, but who knows what they’re here for. Set him free, steal him for themselves, it’s all a gamble at this point. He readies himself for anything as the bag is lifted from his head.
He’s unprepared for his first sight to be a very concerned Captain America.
“Hey, it’s okay, you’re okay, aren’t you?” Captain America touches his face, brushes his hair back gently. Tony blinks a bit. “They didn’t hurt you, right? Tony?”
“Uh.” Tony shakes his head. “No, I’m not—I’m fine, really.”
Captain America still looks exceedingly concerned. Not to mention how close he is, the way he called him “Tony” instead of the standard “Mr. Stark”, touching him a bit too affectionately…not that Tony hasn’t ever fantasized a little about being rescued by a strapping hero, but getting hit on ten seconds after a kidnapping is somewhat less romantic in real life. To be entirely honest, all he really wants right now is to go home and see Steve’s face. The adrenaline is probably making him hallucinate about it a little, because if he’s being honest the Captain’s face actually looks a lot like Steve’s right now. A lot. Even his voice sounds like Steve’s, and his eyes…yeah, Tony’s definitely hallucinating at this point.
Despite his hallucinations, just about the last thing he wants right now is for Captain America to suddenly go in for a kiss, and yet that’s apparently the kind of day Tony’s having. He’s surprised enough that his reflexes kick in and he startles backwards, which unfortunately ends with his chair toppling over.
Never meet your heroes, kids.
“What—Tony!” Captain America sounds startled, which sure, maybe the guy isn’t used to being turned down, but honestly. Tony groans a little. The whole falling out of a chair part hurt more than he would’ve expected. Captain America shoots forward, this time quickly going for the rope around his wrists. “Here, are you alright? What was that about?”
“What was—? Really?” Tony shakes his head irritably, gives the Captain a wary look as he rubs his freed wrists. Those eyes are really far too much like Steve’s for anyone’s good. “Look, not that I don’t appreciate the rescue and all, but I’ve been in a very public, very monogamous relationship for a while now so I feel like you probably know what that was about.”
And now Captain America is laughing. That’s…not the best sign.
“You wouldn’t make an exception?” The Captain asks, sounding genuinely curious. “Not even for Captain America?”
“Maybe don’t refer to yourself in third person?” Tony suggests. “Just a thought. Also, kissing strangers you just met while they’re still tied up from an only recently thwarted kidnapping really isn’t as romantic as the media would lead you to believe.”
“It’s honestly unbelievable how much I love you sometimes,” Captain America says breathlessly, and wow, that is just a whole new level of creepy. Tony’s about to make a break for the side door when Captain Stalker tugs off his mask and—
Tony freezes in place.
“So can I kiss you now?” A messy-haired, amused-looking Steve asks, and Tony just stares because—
“What the fuck?”
“Is that a no?”
“What the fuck?”
“It’s not that crazy—”
“I’ve been dating Captain America?” Tony’s steadily lowering opinion of the hero skyrockets once again. “I’ve been having sex with—”
“My communicator is super sensitive, maybe don’t—”
“—Captain America, why haven’t you brought this home?” Tony punctuates his demand by grabbing the front of Steve’s uniform. Solid, as it damn well better be if it’s all that separates Steve from maniacs with guns and superpowers, but not particularly rough or scratchy. Definitely bedroom acceptable.
“Again, sensitive communicator, everything you’re saying is being relayed—”
“To the super secret boyband you’re a part of and didn’t think to mention to me, right, got it. Huh. Right.” Tony processed that. Cycled quickly from ridiculously turned on to confused. Possibly bordering on upset. “The boyband I specifically told you I wanted to join—”
“I was going to tell you—”
“Were you really though? Because it seems to me maybe the perfect time for that would’ve been when I told you about the suit—
“You’re upset and I get that, sweetheart, I do, but we kind of—”
“I mean, it seems like a great response to that would’ve been ‘hey Tony, seeing as you want to be a superhero too I should probably mention that’s what I’ve been doing in my free—”
“Honey, AIM is ten minutes out, we should really—”
“Wait, when the fuck have you been doing this? We live together and I’ve visited you at the work, the only things you do in your spare time are read and paint and—holy shit, you don’t actually bowl, do you? Oh my god, Bucky and Sam are—”
“Take a deep breath, okay, I was going to tell you—”
“—secret superheroes, how is that even—”
“—I just didn’t want to make this weekend about me! You had—”
“—possible, they’re fucking idiots! I mean I like them, obviously, but come on—”
“—the whole suit thing, but I was going to cook for you tonight, remember, I told you—”
“—Sam talks to birds when he thinks no one’s looking, like he’s Snow White or some shit, and Bucky—”
“—not to pick up takeout, and if you took it well then I could finally—”
“—just generally looks shifty as hell, I think it’s the hair—” Tony pauses. Steve’s clammed up. He replays Steve’s half of the conversation over again in his head. “Wait, you could finally what?”
“Not nothing, ‘if I took it well’, you could finally do something, what, let me meet your bandmates?”
But that doesn’t make sense, because from the sound of it Tony’s already met some of them—albeit in a costume-free setting—and Steve never seemed to have a problem with them all getting together. So what else would have to come after the “I’m a secret superhero” talk?
“This isn’t how I want to have this conversation, I really think we should focus on the fact that AIM is now coming in less than three minutes—”
“This isn’t exactly what I wanted to do today either—”
“And see, that’s why I don’t want to get into this, Tony, you were kidnapped. Less than an hour ago.” Steve’s expression goes a bit fragile, and it clicks for Tony that this is his first kidnapping since they’ve been together. It tends to freak civilians out a bit. As it turns out Steve’s not exactly a civilian, but still. He doesn’t look like he loves the idea. “So pretty much the only damn thing I want to do right now is get you home safe, and AIM is not nearly as interested in that goal as I am.”
“Okay, fine.” Tony threw his hands up, maneuvering around Steve—Captain America, his boyfriend—to grab his suitcase. “Safety first, defeat AIM, whatever. But then we’re definitely going to talk about—”
There’s a burst of sound from the vicinity of Steve’s ear, someone yelling.
“Jesus Christ, Hawkeye!” Steve recoils from the sound, reaches to snatch it out of his ear before stopping himself. “Superhearing, I’ve told you a thousand—”
“Goddamn it,” Steve mutters, grabbing Tony by the arm and hauling him bodily behind him before bringing up the shield. “Superstrength too, so get behind me. AIM incoming in—”
“Wanna bet gold-titanium alloy beats superstrength?” Tony grins as he unlocks the suitcase. This is gonna be fun.
Steve glances over his shoulder then does a double take as the suit crawls over Tony’s body and locks into place. Tony would like to think Steve looks amazed, but it’s possible he’s seeing what he wants to see. It’ll kill him a little if Steve isn’t actually okay with this.
“You finished it,” Steve breathes, then the HUD goes crazy as AIM crashes into the van.
Tony takes off and hauls them both out through the roof in the nick of time. From the sky they have a better view on the scene. Nothing major, two small units for a total of about a dozen agents, and the Avengers’ quinjet is already visible on the horizon.
“So…” Tony can’t help himself. Steve’s watching him, eyes a little wild as he takes in the suit. “Still think the whole ‘mechanized crime-fighting suit’ thing is a good idea?”
“A good idea?” Steve blinks, taken aback, then his expression lights up with clear glee and Tony can’t deny the rush of relief. “You gotta be—this is amazing, I can’t even—is it weird that I’m proud? Cause I’m so damn proud, Tony, god, look at this, look at you!”
He’s grateful for the helmet. The sting in his eyes is nothing he wants to talk about.
“Sounding a little biased there, honey,” he says and it’s ten kinds of inadequate, but Steve knows him all too well so he just smiles, small and kind, and presses a kiss to the helmet’s forehead.
“Damn right I am. Come on, let’s take your new toy for a spin.”
It takes less than half an hour to hand AIM their asses, and only even that because Tony’s blatantly showing off.
They finish tying AIM up nice and tight right as SHIELD lands on the scene, sending everything into chaos. They get split from the team but Steve doesn’t seem overly concerned, tells him everyone’s in touch through the comm and this is a pretty standard occurrence so they’ve got a system in place. They’ve ditched SHIELD, so Tony touches down to give Steve a moment to catch his breath and sort out the plan.
“So do we all meet up somewhere after, or—” Steve grabs his arm and manhandles him around the corner, which is actually pretty damn impressive considering the weight of the suit Tony’s wearing.
“Going offline,” Steve blurts and shuts off his comm before anyone can respond.
“Shit, did SHIELD catch up? Should I be quiet? What’s—” Steve practically tears the faceplate off, and wow— “That’s definitely not meant to come up manually, how strong are you exact—”
Steve cuts him off with a passionate kiss, and yeah, okay, Tony definitely should’ve seen that coming given whole ‘manhandling into a back alley’ and ‘shutting off the comm’ bits.
It takes him much longer than it should to remember they’re technically in public and getting caught with a hand down Captain America’s pants isn’t really the best way to kick off his superhero career. He reluctantly removes the hand and valiantly fights the urge to give in when Steve makes the plaintive little noise Tony’s always been ridiculously weak for. He went camping in actual mountains once because of that noise.
“Secret identities and public indecency charges probably don’t mix well,” Tony reminds him. Steve looks as put out about it as Tony feels, but reluctantly puts a little space between them and gives a curt nod.
“Home. Uh, one minute.” Steve fiddles with the comm in his ear. Tony does the same with his faceplate, tries to get it to go back down. Auto isn’t working, probably because one or both of the hinges are bent to hell. Worth it. “Team?”
There’s a burst of concerned chatter, but Steve cuts through it with an authoritative voice that definitely doesn’t help the situation in Tony’s pants. “I told you I’d be offline for a minute, settle down. Debrief in two hours back at HQ with our new teammate. We’ll talk it all out then.”
His final words might as well have been don’t call me, I’ll call you. He clicks the comm off again and Tony extends a hand with a grin.
“Want a ride?”
“Damn right I do,” Steve grins back, the look in his eyes leaving no doubt he means it as lewdly as Tony thinks.
“Such a menace,” Tony mutters fondly as he tries to get the faceplate back in place.
“Need some help?”
“Yeah.” Tony gives up on getting it down on his own. “You’ll have to kinda jam it back in there, some brute went and yanked on it so hard he just about tore it off.”
“My boyfriend is literally a knight in shining armor, forgive me if I’m a little enamored,” Steve says in that way he does sometimes, like he’s not really joking at all.
Tony rolls his eyes, but he’s in too good of a mood for even misuse of the word ‘literally’ to bring him down right now. Steve snaps the faceplate back into place with all the effort someone else might use to flip down a piece of paper, and Tony feels the electric urgency from before returning with a vengeance.
“Yeah, okay.” He swallows. God, the things they could do with strength like that… “Let’s get you home.”
They don’t make it to the team meeting.
“Wow,” Tony huffs out much later, when they’re both sweaty and exhausted and ready to not move another muscle for the rest of the day. Or week. Hell, make it a month. They could play superhero next month. This month was for bed and takeout and maybe the shower, if they were feeling ambitious.
“Wow,” Steve agrees with a grin.
“I’ve decided we live here now,” Tony tells him.
“That’s probably good, considering our names are on the lease,” Steve agrees.
“No, here.” Just for Steve, Tony decides to put in the effort to lift his hand and pat the bed. It’s exhausting and he’s never doing it again. “These exact spots. We’re never moving again. I thought you should know.”
Steve laughs. “Not sure I could move if I wanted to.”
“Are you saying I’ve felled the great Captain America?”
“I’d say you brought him to his knees.” Steve winks.
“Cheesy,” Tony accuses.
“But true,” Steve counters.
“But true,” Tony admits with a wistful little shiver at the memory. He can’t help a snicker. “I feel like a teenager again. Sneaking off to get laid? How high school.”
“Very.” Steve hums his agreement, then laughs. “Way better sex though.”
“Oh, significantly. All of the passion, none of the fumbling. Well…” Tony turns enough to shoot a sideways grin at Steve. “Less fumbling.”
“I was excited.” Steve shrugs unapologetically, goofy smile fully intact. He studies Tony a beat, propping himself up with one arm to get a better angle. “You still have no idea how amazing you are, do you?”
“I’ve heard some mixed reviews,” Tony jokes, because he’s selfish and revels a little too much in Steve’s sweet-talk. He’s given up trying to help it.
For once though, Steve doesn’t rush to tell him how great he is. He traces his thumb over the corner of Tony’s eye thoughtfully instead. Just as Tony’s about to crack another joke, lighten the mood and change the subject, Steve leans in to kiss him. It’s slow and sweet and everything Tony wanted, albeit in a kiss instead of words. It’s better.
“You didn’t have laugh lines when I met you,” Steve tells him.
“No?” Tony laughs. “Well, it’s been a while.”
“You think you’re the only selfish one in this relationship.” Steve hums, tracing the corner of his eye again, then down to his mouth. “I like to pretend I made those. That I made you happy enough, made you laugh enough, to actually form those lines.”
“That’s hardly selfish.” Tony squeezed Steve’s free hand. “Honestly, all the good times we’ve had? You’re probably not too far off.”
“Maybe not,” Steve says mildly. “But I’ve also been lying to you for months because I was terrified you’d leave me if you knew, so.”
He’s not talking about laugh lines anymore. Tony brings their linked hands up, presses a kiss to the back of Steve’s hand.
“I don’t love that you lied about it,” Tony tells him honestly. He hasn’t exactly had a lot of time to dwell on it, but Captain America’s been on the scene for something like three or four months now. It’s been a while. “But you at least wanted to tell me, right?”
“Of course I did.” Steve squeezes his hand. His grip is a little tight, but it doesn’t hurt and Tony’s starting to realize just how much Steve must be restraining himself to keep it that way. “It killed me not to, I just…I wanted your approval so badly. This means so much to me and I can do so much good, but I know it’s dangerous, too, so I couldn’t help the little fear that maybe you wouldn’t be okay with it, that I’d have to quit, but—I mean, that’s no excuse, I still should’ve—”
“Wait, hold on. Quit?” Tony interrupts. “You would’ve given it up, just like that?”
“If it was you or Captain America?” Steve gave him a confused sort of look. “If it was you or anything? My choice is you, Tony. Always. You know that.”
“Well, yeah.” In theory. But… “Over other people, sure. Over a great job even, maybe. But over being a literal superhero? Really?”
Steve watches him closely now. “Would you choose me?”
Tony stubbornly doesn’t answer. That’s not a fair question and Steve knows it. Of course Tony would choose him, but historically speaking, people don’t always choose Tony back. Steve’s been a hell of a statistical anomaly so far but he’s not a saint. Everyone has a line.
Steve expression goes thoughtful for moment, then he scoots up and swings a leg over Tony’s hips to straddle him again. Tony snorts a laugh.
“Honey, if you want another ride we’re going to have to call in reinforcements.”
Steve doesn’t answer immediately. For a long few moments he just stays there, smile soft and sincere in the way that always does strange things to Tony’s heart. After a beat he splays his hands wide on Tony’s chest, fingertips stretching over the scars there like if he tries hard enough he can hold Tony together all by himself.
“You probably don’t remember, but you cooked dinner for me a couple months ago. Three, maybe four. You’ve cooked since, but I…this time in particular, I’d had just…the worst day. Completely awful. Terrible from a work standpoint alone, but then the Avengers got a call and there were casualties and Red Skull got away and it was just—god, the absolute worst. SHIELD was calling for my head on a stick by the end of it all.”
He’s not exactly sure where Steve’s going with this, but he rubs a hand up Steve’s back soothingly anyway. “Glad I could help a little?”
“I love you, but you definitely didn’t. You cooking meant the apartment was a disaster zone and I’d have to apologize to the neighbors about the fire alarms again and then gag down some half-burnt, unidentifiable porridge-looking thing for dinner—”
“Okay, asshole, first of all—”
Steve interrupts him with a laugh. “I promise I have a point.”
“See if I ever cook for your sorry ass again.”
“My point is that I took a look around at all the mess and hassle and not-food waiting for me at the end of one of the longest days of my life—”
“—and I wouldn’t have changed a single thing,” Steve finishes earnestly. Damn him. “Because you were standing there in the middle of it all, with your singed apron and food-streaked hair and proud smile, and it was just so—perfect isn’t the right word because you’re not, I’m not, nobody is, but you’re perfect for me, and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t give to keep you.”
“Well shit, Steve.” He can either laugh or cry, so he cracks a joke. “Save something for the proposal, why don’t you?”
Steve freezes, and that’s when he knows.
“I, um.” Steve takes a deep breath, and oh shit— “That’s…kind of what I was doing, actually.”
“Yes,” Tony blurts. Then, because he’s not sure if he actually got the word out or if he just screamed it really loudly in his head, he repeats himself firmly, “Yes, the answer is yes, I want—yes.”
Steve brightens like it’s his personal job to outshine the sun and Tony pulls him down for a kiss. Neither of them have recovered enough to get particularly frisky again any time soon, but it’s enough to share the moment. Steve’s laughing a little into the kiss and Tony already knows what he's going to say when they part.
“You know, I don’t think I actually asked you anyth—”
“Then I am.” Tony feels bold now, giddy and brave in ways even a flying metal battle suit can’t quite match. “Want to eat my shitty cooking and delete all my favorite shows and bicker about whose turn it is to do the laundry for the rest of our lives?”
Steve laughs and beams down at him, handsome and kind and better than anything Tony could’ve dreamed. “Sounds perfect.”