Steve has grown used to sleeping in a room that is virtually never fully dark.
In a way, it's actually nice to have a source of light visible. His body adjusts easily to stresses that would throw most people off, and the blue glow of the arc reactor does little to interrupt his general sleep patterns, or to keep him from sinking into REM sleep. And on the nights where he jolts awake, pursued back into consciousness by memories and what-ifs that make up his nightmares, it's that light that usually lets him orient himself quickly, assures him of where and when he is. He's read that blue light is the most likely to disrupt sleep, to keep the brain active and alert; he appears to be somewhat of an anomaly, in that it seems to be the light that's quickest to soothe him, to make him feel at ease.
It's just past one in the morning as Steve lies here silently, the arc reactor visible even through the sheet tugged up to Tony's shoulders. Tony's bed is massive, big enough that Steve can lie like this, with the top of his head at Tony's shoulder and his body stretched out completely, without his feet even hitting the bottom edge of the mattress. It's sort of ridiculous and overdone, really, but a lot of things about Tony and what he surrounds himself with are. Steve stretches, then moves the arm he has slung over Tony's waist a little higher, his hand resting lightly on Tony's chest, just next to the arc reactor.
He can't help the urge to touch it.
Steve knows Tony hates the thing, a not-quite-secret that he's voiced once or twice in the time they've known each other, have become close. He can understand it in a clinical way. But he himself feels quite the opposite. Maybe it stems from that one moment, seeing Tony laid out in the rubble-strewn street, the spot in his suit of armor – that's always so bright – only a dull grey, no light shining at all, no power cycling through the device. That light equals life, a sign that Tony is there with him, alive and breathing and okay. It's a symbol of many things, but that's what Steve thinks of when he looks at it. He's sure Tony will never understand just how beautiful he looks with that light radiating out from him, especially in the quiet moments like this, when it lights up the angles of his face.
Well, the bit of his face that's visible, under the black sleep mask.
Steve grins against Tony's shoulder, then runs his finger lightly around the rim of it, tracing the circle with the pad of his index finger. The edge is always cooler than he expects, as if resistant to being entirely warmed by the flesh that surrounds it. It's a very slight difference, but Steve can feel it all the same. He rests his cupped hand lightly over the reactor, darkening the room for a moment before he splays his fingers, manipulating how the light falls for a moment or two before Tony speaks, startling him.
"You're playing with the light and shadows again, aren't you?"
Steve can feel himself blushing. He drops his hand back down to Tony's stomach and rolls over a little, propping himself up. The eye mask is still firmly in place over Tony's eyes. "Maybe."
"Maybe my ass," Tony says with a soft snort. "I've told you before, if that damned thing keeps you awake, you can just use a sleep mask like mine. You don't have to cover it up, just to get some sleep."
Steve lifts the mask off Tony's eyes and looks at him. "And I've told you, it doesn't keep me awake."
"And yet, here we are." Tony reaches down for the thick comforter that's been kicked down around their hips as they've both moved throughout the night, pulls it up until it covers his chest and blacks out the light in the room. It only takes a couple of seconds for Steve's eyes to adjust. He can see the disgusted look on Tony's face, even if Tony can't see anything that isn't half an inch from his eyes just yet.
"It doesn't bother me," Steve says softly. He's said it before, but Tony never seems to believe him. He moves his hand again, taps the bottom of the reactor's rim lightly with his index finger. "It never bothers me."
Tony flinches slightly. It's a vast improvement over the first time Steve had touched it without Tony expecting it. That had ended in a panic attack (Tony), lots of deep breathing (both of them), an unpleasant story (Tony again), and a desire to go dig up a dead man's corpse, just for the purpose of beating the shit out of him for the past action of trying to kill the body harboring the technology (Steve). It's been months since that event, and Steve's more careful now. Most of the time, Tony doesn't even seem startled when it's Steve's hands instead of his own that touch the arc reactor. "You'll never understand how weird that feels," Tony mutters, but he doesn't reach out to remove Steve's hand.
"I may not understand how it feels, but I don't think you'll ever understand what I feel about it, either."
Tony just stares at him for a moment in the dark. "It's not like touching someone's skin, you know. It's not a superficial sensation. This fucking... thing ... is embedded deep into my chest. So when you tap it, or run your finger around it, I feel it all the way down, straight into the core of me. It isn't physically painful, but it's... intimate." He sighs, looking away.
Steve pauses for a moment. Tony's never mentioned it before, never commented on the physical sensation. "You know what I feel, when I touch it?" he asks quietly, when Tony doesn't appear to want to say anything else.
"I swear to all gods, earthly, Asgardian, or otherwise, if you're going to say something straight out of a romance novel or some Hollywood date night piece of garbage, I am going to sleep on the couch in the lab," Tony warns, but Steve sits up and pulls the comforter and sheet down, exposing the arc reactor and spilling soft blue light over both of them.
"I feel the difference in temperature between the metal and your skin," Steve says, switching tactics. Maybe later, another time, he'll be able to slip in how fucking grateful and relieved he feels when he sees that light in the dark bedroom, or glinting off the wet walls of the shower when they're getting ready in the morning or after some time at the gym, or through whatever oil-stained, tattered T-shirt Tony's wearing when he's tinkering down in the lab. There are other things he can tell Tony about his perception of the arc reactor that won't make Tony mime gagging or dying, or even send him down to the lab to escape an outpouring of honesty and emotion.
Tony raises one eyebrow, the expression the epitome of the sarcastic bastard he'll be until he dies. Into the afterlife, too, Steve's actually sure. "You can feel that? Because it's less than two degrees, on average, I know, I've taken probably a hundred readings, and—"
"That's not all, either," Steve continues, knowing that if he doesn't keep going, this will evolve into a lecture on the science behind why the device doesn't warm up to body temperature, unlike other metal in contact with the human body for long enough. He's not in the mood for a lecture from Professor Stark tonight. Half the time, Steve has to ask Bruce for a rundown of whatever the hell Tony's actually rambled on about, though he's getting better with the terminology and concepts.
"It's not?" Tony actually looks intrigued. He's probably going to catalogue everything, use the information to play around with experimental... whatever... in the lab later. "What other details do you notice about it?"
Steve leans closer. "The way it thrums when we're pressed together, skin-to-skin. I can hear it sometimes, if it's quiet enough. Just a background noise to your heartbeat, but it's there."
"Super-soldier hearing. It probably sounds like there's a mosquito hovering around me, to you," Tony huffs, but there's a different look on his face now. Steve can read it well enough. The mention of skin-on-skin contact has already half-swayed his attention. Steve's not above using that to his advantage right now. Besides, he hasn't told Tony everything yet.
"It doesn't sound anything like a mosquito," Steve informs him. "It's like... a soft hum. White noise. It's actually kind of relaxing sometimes. Helps put me to sleep, if my head's on your chest." It does, too. The combination of that noise and Tony's heartbeat can override everything else swirling around in his head a lot of nights, helps him wind down after a bad day, lulls him into a place where everything's soft and quiet and he can fucking rest. "But there are other things, too. Like the way it tingles when I run my tongue along the skin that's close to it, or kiss your chest. It's like... like a low-powered transistor battery." It's the closest analogy he has.
Tony makes an amused noise. "They didn't even have nine-volts back in your day. How do you even think to lick a damned battery, with your technological background?"
Steve shrugs. He'd seen Clint do it, had gotten an explanation of the purpose when Clint caught him giving a disbelieving look once he'd pronounced the battery dead and no good for the remote to the toy radio-powered car he'd dug out of one of Tony's old boxes. So of course he'd tried it for himself later, with the new battery, when no one was around to judge him. "Doesn't matter," he murmurs, dropping his voice low and grinning when Tony's eyes go wide. He leans over, bent over Tony's chest, and mouths lightly at a spot just to the left of the arc reactor. "You know, it even has its own taste."
"And just what does a vibranium-powered arc reactor taste like?" Tony asks, shivering in a way Steve is familiar with. "Short answer, please. And feel free to do that again if you need to, to get an accurate reading. So you can give an educated response."
Steve grins again, this time letting his tongue just lightly touch the rim of the reactor. His mouth is filled with the same taste he's always noticed, familiar and yet so very strange, given the source. He kisses Tony's skin again, gets a soft moan in response. "Like coconut, actually."
Tony's chest and abdomen jump, go still, and then he's laughing, loud and deep in the bedroom, a truly amused sound that somehow manages not to seem judgmental. "Coconut. Oh God, it tastes like that to you, too?" He reaches up and grabs Steve by the back of the neck, shifts himself and pulls Steve down so that Steve is forced to straddle Tony's thighs in order to keep from flattening him. "I said the same thing the first time I put it in. Thought my brain was going to explode or it had activated a latent sort of brain tumor or something." He sits up just enough so that he can kiss Steve, press their mouths together with some force, still grinning. He's still laughing, right up until Steve rocks forward, still straddling his legs, finally sliding up enough to be over Tony's hips, and then he stops abruptly with a small gasp.
That he's already half-hard is no big surprise. That look in his eyes hadn't been hard to read at all, not after being together for more than a couple of weeks, really. And that shiver a moment ago had only cemented Steve's intent.
"It's coconut," Steve confirms, dipping his head again and mouthing at the skin around the arc reactor as Tony moans underneath him, his hands now starting to roam over Steve's back and hips. "With a slight metallic tinge to it."
"Would you say I'm electrifying?" Tony gasps as Steve rocks forward again, then curls one hand around Tony's growing erection.
"Puns? Really, Stark?" Steve scoffs softly. He strokes slowly, enjoying the look on Tony's face, the way he shivers and moves, the way his breathing speeds up.
"I've heard your jokes; you're one to talk," Tony retorts, and then he stops speaking in favor of making very rewarding noises instead.
It's fun feeling Tony writhe beneath him for a few minutes, until he somehow squirms into the right position to nearly flip Steve over. Steve's pretty sure that on a good day, Tony wouldn't have a chance of that without his suit, but he's got the excuse of being a little too caught up in what they're doing to have seen the move coming. They lie next to each other, tangled in the sheets, the comforter once again kicked to the foot of the bed, and Steve knows it's only his imagination that the arc reactor seems to glow brighter as he brings Tony closer to orgasm. He's hard himself, Tony's hand doing its best to completely undo him with its dexterity and finesse so often used for working on small, complex parts that need precision manipulation. And just when he thinks he might not be able to hold on any longer, ready to go before Tony is, Steve pushes away, sits up, ignoring Tony's protests, and slides down the bed.
"What are you doing, you are not allowed to just get up and leave in the middle of this, that's not — oh, okay, never mind, I approve," Tony babbles at him as Steve settles between Tony's legs, looking up at him from where he's stretched out. "Holy shit, do I approve," he moans, his hips arching just a little as Steve takes him slowly into his mouth. "You know what, remind me to applaud myself later for getting you from blushing virgin to expert administerer of oral pleasure all on my own. And you. We'll get you a medal. Shinier than any of the military's, because you, Steve, are an excellent student, fuck."
Steve can't help but chuckle, which actually makes giving Tony a blowjob a bit of a challenge. This is something he's warmed up to, a skill he's only developed recently. It lacks a bit of the fun of being able to banter back and forth with Tony as they have sex, but it has yielded some memorably quotable lines. And maybe Steve is a quick study, because he's able to get Tony off in rather short order tonight.
He gives Tony a moment to recover, but Tony doesn't seem to want the time tonight. "No, nuh-uh, you get your turn, too, soldier," he says, still panting. "Get the fuck over here. Tony Stark is not a lover who takes without giving." He gestures for Steve to get back into place, half pulls Steve on top of him again, and then takes him into hand. "You ever wonder what it would feel like to come while I let you do whatever you wanted with the arc reactor?"
Steve lets out a noise that might almost be classified as a whimper. Well, he has now.
"Yeah, I thought you might like that, you kinky bastard," Tony murmurs, as if he's not the one who's spent obscene amounts of money on toys and other things that get brought into the bedroom. "Come here. Touch, lick, kiss, whatever you want. Free rein tonight, okay? Holy shit, Rogers, you've earned it."
They're almost overwhelming, the sensations he's experiencing. Tony's stroking him in a steady rhythm, his grip firm and perfect, and every lap of Steve's tongue over Tony's skin gives him a small, tingling jolt that seems to go straight to his dick, like the nerves are directly connected. It's like the electricity on his tongue flows throughout his body only to come back up and scramble his brain. When he does come, it's hard and fast, every muscle contracting like he's victim to some whole-body current of electricity, his muscles tensing more than ever before, and he can't even breathe for a moment, only able to groan for a quick second before his orgasm slams through him and he comes in Tony's hand, all over Tony's stomach, the blue glow of the arc reactor practically burned into his retinas.
"At ease, soldier," Tony laughs softly when Steve's done, shoving him off and onto the mattress and pillows.
"Fuck," Steve slurs, practically unable to move. The sheets are cool on his skin, and all he can do is lie there as Tony gets up and moves away for a moment.
"Yep, that counts," Tony says from above him before a towel lands next to him. "Get cleaned up and come join me in the shower?"
"I'm not sure I can move," Steve tells him, still trying to catch his breath. It was the sensation of the arc reactor under his tongue, the thrumming energy of it on top of what Tony's hands had been doing, but he thinks it might also have been what Tony had said earlier, about the touch being intimate, and being allowed to touch like that, that has him feeling so wrecked. Mind-blowing. That's the best term he can come up with for it, modern or otherwise.
"You sure?" Tony asks, already crossing the bedroom and heading for the bathroom. Steve cracks his eyes open. There's a playful, teasing tone to his voice. "I was thinking about showering in the dark, just this one time. You know, with just my built-in night light to guide things?" He smirks over his shoulder and steps out of sight. From his place on the bed, Steve can hear the water start to run in the shower.
It turns out he has the energy for a shower, after all.