When he first meets Tony Stark, Steve thinks that he is everything that is wrong with the modern world. Tony is loud, and crass, and has no respect for authority or for anything else.
He drinks too much. His personal life is a mess. He lounges around wearing the kind of silk robes that would be indecent on a woman, let alone a man. He constantly smells of vodka, or sex, or both, and Steve has to swallow down a feeling of disgust whenever he gets close enough to pick up on his scent.
Steve is unsurprised when he hears rumors that Tony is a queer. Any man who flaunts himself like that is clearly some kind of sexual deviant.
Despite his disdain for Tony’s personal life, Steve has to admit that he is a boon to the Ultimates. Tony has a quick mind and good instincts which still seem to operate under the blanket of booze that he covers himself with. After a while they even develop a rapport on the battlefield, Tony knowing where to be to support Steve, or give him a lift, or to protect his back.
They’d been sparring together this morning, and Tony had pulled a few maneuvers which genuinely impressed Steve. Even in the armor, he’s not as strong as Steve is, but he’s fast and creative and unpredictable. It makes him a fun sparring partner, and there had been a moment when Tony had landed a solid blow to his sternum and he’d had to take Tony’s wrists in one hand and pin him bodily to the floor.
Tony had slid the faceplate up and winked at him as he left, telling Steve that he’d enjoyed his moves. Steve had no idea what to make of that. It was probably just some modern sarcasm that Tony was using to make him feel stupid.
Steve is feeling on edge. He has been getting persistently getting hard all day, and it’s an irritation. He has bigger problems to think about right now, and he doesn’t need to be distracted by his damn libido. He stalks off towards the shower, hoping to wash away the filth of the day.
When he steps under the spray of the shower, he feels some of the tension ease off. His shoulders come down from around his ears, the steady thrum of the water on his skin bleeding some of the anger out of him.
He takes himself in hand, a feeling of relief spreading through his body. For a moment, Gail’s face flashes before him, smiling at him with her pretty red hair and her ample bosom. But thinking of Gail makes him sad, and then lost, and then resentful. He pushes the thought of her aside.
He thinks about Jan, her hip cocked in her tight uniform. He strokes himself, thinking about her short dark hair, clever eyes, confident smile. The way she would move against him, so comfortable in her body. But that memory is tainted now too, a burst of anger rippling through him when he recalls how things ended between them.
Unbidden, a different image enters his mind: Tony, on his knees before him. That infuriating mouth wrapping around his cock, sucking him down hungrily. Steve imagines pulling back, splattering his release across Tony’s face, the streaks of white dripping down his cheek and through his goatee like a brand of ownership.
Steve gasps and grabs at the wall of the shower as he comes, self-disgust coursing through him. The shame stays with him long after the pleasure has worn off.
After the tsunami hits New York, after they have have held back the chaos for another day and saved as many as they can, it is time to count their dead. Jan and Thor and Peter, Stephen Strange, so many of the X-Men, even Hank Pym, damn the sneaky little bastard. All dead. All gone.
Steve has seen plenty of death before, but he has never felt so powerless. His impotence in the face of disaster feeds his fury. He remembers the first moments of the attack, when the water closed in over his head and he was sinking into the depths. He remembers thinking that this was a pathetic way to die, but now at least he could be free.
And then he remembers seeing a flash of red and silver, and strong metal fingers closing around his wrist. He is shocked that, of all people, Tony is the one who saves him, who pulls him close and drags him back into the light.
Now the fighting is over, and only the emptiness remains. He’s been running on adrenaline since the attack, his anger condensing into a solid lump in the pit of his stomach. Tony has found him once again.
Tony’s hand is on his leg, stroking at the inside of his thigh. “You want to relax, is that it?” he asks, voice sultry and smooth. “I can help you with that.”
Steve grunts and balls his hands into fists.
On the next stroke, Tony’s finger brushes up against his cock, and Steve can’t suppress the full-body shiver that goes through him.
Tony grins lasciviously, as if this were fun. As if it were some kind of damn game. “You’re real sensitive, huh darling?” he purrs. “That’s nice.”
“Will you shut up, Stark,” Steve snaps.
Tony jerks back like he’s been shocked and pulls his hand away.
Steve grits his teeth. “I didn’t say you should stop,” he says carefully. “I said to not to talk so damn much.”
Tony’s eyes narrow, like he’s considering him, and Steve tries not to squirm under the observation. Steve takes Tony’s hand and places it back on his thigh without meeting his eye.
“We’re going army-style, is that it? A quick hand in the dark and no looking at each other’s faces?” Tony’s lips curl into something that could have been a mocking smile.
Steve is about to launch into a defense of the brave men who fight for this country and deserve more respect than Tony is showing them, when Tony cups him through his uniform and Steve’s breath catches in his throat.
Steve leans back and lets Tony unzip his pants. He closes his eyes while Tony jerks him off, slow and leisurely like they have all the time in the world.
He scrunches his eyes tight when he comes, Tony’s fingers playing along his cock and squeezing out the last of his orgasm.
He doesn’t look at Tony as he cleans himself up and walks out.
When he’s elected president, there is a moment when Steve thinks that this could be his chance. To prove himself, to make the world how it should be - in spite of all the chaos and the fear, and the broken mess that is their country. The people have called on him to serve, and he will do his best to protect them.
There is a moment when he thinks that he may have found a place in the future after all.
After his inauguration and pulling together a tentative peace with his bare hands, he returns to the ugly underground bunker which is serving as his temporary headquarters. There is, as always, paperwork to do.
He pushes open the door to his private office to find Tony sitting in his chair, feet propped up on the desk.
“What is it, Tony?” he asks, not quite able to keep the weariness out of his voice. The last thing he wants right now is another crisis to deal with.
“Nothing bad,” Tony reassures him, and Steve hates that he sees his weakness. “I thought we could celebrate your recent success.”
Tony waves a bottle of what he is sure is both very expensive and very rare liquor at him.
“I don’t want a drink,” Steve says, feeling more tired than ever.
Tony puts the bottle down and regards him quizzically. “What is it that you do want, then?”
Steve looks at Tony, the amused glint in his eye, the slight part of his lips. A kind of restless anger burns under his skin at the thought that he is now probably the most powerful man in the world, and yet Tony sees straight through him and can disarm his with a handful of words. He says nothing.
Tony kicks his feet off the desk and stands up, stretching the long lines of his limbs provocatively. He rounds the desk and moves towards Steve, placing a hand on his chest. Steve’s breath quickens.
“I’m here to… what’s the phrase? Serve at the pleasure of the president,” Tony says, running his hand down Steve’s chest. “Does that sound good to you?” he asks, very close to Steve’s ear.
Steve doesn’t trust his voice not to betray him. He gives a jerky nod.
Tony smiles and drops to his knees, unzipping Steve’s uniform pants with what seems to be practiced efficiency. Steve wonders how many men Tony has offered himself to in this way, whether he has any standards at all, whether he will get down on his knees for any man walking by.
He wonders whether the other men Tony has been with were comfortable with themselves, and kind, and if they treated Tony better than he has.
When Tony bends forward and takes Steve’s cock into his mouth, Steve stops thinking altogether.
They know that Galactus is coming. The world eater. A force as ancient and powerful as the universe itself. Some people have called it a god, but Steve won’t stand for that kind of talk. There is only one God, and this beast is certainly not him.
Still, it is a danger utterly unlike anything they have faced before. The sheer scale of the threat makes Steve feel tiny and insignificant. It occurs to him, perhaps for the first time, that there might not be a way to win this fight. That they might all die, here and now.
The thought is less distressing than he would have imagined. If this is to be his last week on earth, he can accept that. But there is something he must do first.
He walks calmly down the corridor and knocks on Tony’s door. Tony opens it, bags under his eyes, hair in uncharacteristic disarray. Still, he smiles when he sees Steve.
“To what do I owe the pleasure, Cap?” he asks.
Steve opens his mouth, tries to find a way to say what he means, and fails. He has never been one for speeches - always better as a man of action. He reaches out, cradles the back of Tony’s head, running his fingers ever so gently over the scar tissue there. He thinks about how close he came to losing Tony, and of how hollow and terrified that made him feel.
He leans forward, not caring that they are standing in a corridor where anyone could walk by. Softly, delicately, he kisses him.
Tony freezes, pulling back and regarding Steve with eyes wide with shock. “Not that I’m complaining,” he says, “But what brought this on?”
“Didn’t you hear?” Steve says with a lopsided smile. “It’s the end of the world.”
He doesn’t have the words to say more. Instead, he wraps his arms around Tony’s waist, pulls him close, and kisses him like it’s his last chance. It may well be.
As they fall into bed together, Steve doesn’t feel guilt, or disgust, or anger. He feels like he has finally arrived to where he was always supposed to be.
On the Helicarrier, the Ultimates scramble to defend the planet as Galactus appears overhead. They’ve pulled in every reserve they have, and every favor, called on every hero and even a few villains to mount their last line of defense.
“We need more time,” Tony says, and his face is grim. Steve doesn’t stop to think, running to one of the SHIELD planes and launching himself into the stratosphere. His team, his people, his planet - they need his help. Tony needs his help. There is no question of what he should do.
His plane rounds on Galactus, the impossibly large monster looming over the city. Steve knows that he cannot create the technology needed to fight this beast, that the powers of a soldier out of time are useless in the face of something so vast.
What was it Lincoln said? “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.” He is inadequate, but the others will find a way. He just needs to buy them a few minutes.
He zips around Galactus, aiming weapons at the eyes and ears, which he assumes to be weak spots. The beast seems to barely notice him. He rounds the plane for a final attack run, throwing everything he has into the fore weapons array.
The monster flinches back and roars in pain. Fire ignites the atmosphere as the weapons hit their target.
“Steve-” a voice crackles over the comms.
“Tony,” Steve says, a swell of warmth and gratitude bubbling through him. “You’ve got this, Tony. You’re going to save the world.” He doesn’t know how he is so certain, but he knows this is true.
“I can’t do this without you.”
“You can,” Steve says with surety. “There’s no one I trust more than you.”
Steve hears something that could have been a sob over the line.
“Be good to yourself, Tony,” he says. “You deserve to be happy.”
Steve feels an explosion rip through his plane, and the air around him bursts into flame. For a moment, there is pain, and then the light fades and everything seems distant. As his life drifts away, Steve's last thought is that he is glad he got to speak with Tony one last time.