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He's a candle (burning in my room)

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A/N: So before you read this, you should know that while I tried to write this for Kinktober, as it stands right now, this is not remotely kinky. Or smutty. (Sigh.) I need an I Failed at Kinktober shirt.

Also, this isn't AoU or Civil War compliant because even though I failed spectacularly, I was still just trying to write smut. (Maybe one day I'll write a story to fix the hot mess that is Captain America: Civil War, but not today, Satan.) Last thing, I swear: the fic title's borrowed and tweaked from U2's Desire.

“It’s just sex. You scratch my itch; I’ll...nibble on that gorgeous, star-spangled booty of yours. Oooh, Cap, just how far down’s that pretty blush go—?”

“Don’t call me that.”

“What? Cap? Why the hell not? You are him; he is you, Captain, my captain.”

“Call me that again and I’m leaving.”

“OK, big guy. Let’s not be so hasty. Will you just tell me why?”

“In here, I don’t want to be...him. I don’t want to be Captain America. That’s not who I am, Tony. He’s just a, a, a, uniform I wear. A job I do. A job I want to do. But still a job. Not me. Does that make sense?”

“Yeah, it does. I understand, OK? Didn’t mean to upset you. So who do you want to be in here?”

“Steve. Just Steve.”

“Hi, Steve. I’m Tony, and I’d like to kiss you. Is that OK?”

“That was pretty awful, Stark. But yeah, that’s—”

“I’m saving all my best lines as back-up, Rogers.”

“—more than OK.”

“Then get over here already.”

They haven’t been doing it, this, each other, for very long. It’s, um, a recent development.

(A couple weeks, tops. OK, fine, three weeks and two days. Tony knows exactly how long it’s been, and yes, it’s, it’s embarrassing, frankly, is what it is. But Steve doesn’t know he knows, so that’s just going to have to be enough.)

And never in Steve’s room. This—sex in Steve’s room—had been a first. Tony shivers, thinking. The idea that the next time Steve sleeps in his bed, he might smell Tony on his sheets, or at least remember they’d laid there, the two of them, breath synchronized and palms and fingers tangled together like vines while Tony curled in Steve’s lap and split himself on Steve’s cock, rocking, rocking, rocking...

It’s just sex.

The city drips through the slitted window to the right of the bed. They’re both city boys, but of course, Steve would leave his bedroom window open. He probably believes in the value of fresh air—such as it is—even in New York. Or something.

Far below, car horns bleat, their mechanical bluster dulled by the hushed-thrum pat pat pat of cleansing rain. Cool afternoon air washes over Tony’s body, a soothing counterpoint to the heat that so recently simmered there.

He sighs. Shifts on the pillow, and throws an arm, careless, over his eyes. He feels...relaxed. Inhabiting his body but also not trapped in it. Warm and fucked out. Loose-limbed and vaguely floaty. Like a helium balloon that’s come untethered and drifted off into the sky, held aloft on an easy breeze, wandering further and further, headed for an unknown destination, until it’s nothing but a pinprick on a distant horizon.

A potent mix of sweat and come cover his stomach and chest; if he doesn’t clean up soon, it’ll dry and start to pull unpleasantly. Still, Tony can’t muster the energy to care—or do anything at all about it. Oh well.

Several heartbeats after that thought appears, Tony’s awareness rolls back to Steve, or rather Steve and his tongue. They lick a wide ribbon through the mess on Tony’s front. “Don’t even try to tell me that tastes good, apple pie,” Tony says, sliding his arm from over his eyes and tucking it under his head, so he can watch Steve. Sure, Steve might not want Tony to call him any variation of Cap; he never said anything about all the non-captain-y nicknames that tumble out of Tony’s mouth with disturbing ease, though. He probably wouldn’t be able to stop those even if Steve wanted him to. Tony quirks an eyebrow. “We both know it doesn’t.”

“Nah.” Steve shakes his head. “Good might be a stretch,” he replies, deadpan, but a definite twinkle gleams in those ocean eyes. “It’s not like a chocolate shake or anything.”

“Oh, you think?” Tony rolls his eyes, amused in spite of himself.

“Tastes bitter.” Steve drags his index finger through the wetness and lifts it to his mouth, sucks it in with a tiny pop , which, hmmm, if refractory periods weren’t an issue for non-super-soldier men, Tony’s dick would find pretty interesting. “Maybe a little salty.” A cute crinkle forms between Steve’s eyebrows, his expression thoughtful and considering. “But that’s OK. Cause it came from you, and I like you.”

Oh. Oh. I like you. Tony rolls the words around in his head, tasting them. Steve just says stuff like that sometimes, sincere and real, and it never fails to leave Tony a little stunned, a little breathless, and a lot charmed. Steve often catches him off-guard with his straightforward words. Tony’s used to people who wield words like weapons or bait—sometimes both—because they want things from him. Things like money, tech, or influence. But not him. Not really. He’s not entirely sure he can even blame anyone for that. Steve, though, Steve usually means what he says; Tony believes that even if he isn’t naive enough to think Steve says everything that ticks through his mind. The man does still have a filter.

Several beats. Then: “I like you, too, sunshine.” Tony’s voice is supposed to sound light, steady, slightly teasing. But it doesn’t; it comes out surprisingly rough. The endearment wasn’t supposed to be there, but when it comes to Steve, Tony’s a weak, weak man.

Clearing his throat, Tony brushes his knuckles over the front of Steve’s shoulder and watches his lips part and his eyes slip shut. In the next moment, they blink open, and a smile flirts with the edges of Steve’s mouth as he moves. One hand planted firmly on the bed by Tony’s shoulder, Steve uses the other to raise a wet cloth and smooth it down the center of Tony’s body, through the sticky mess and the skein of scars on his chest, his expression calm and matter of fact. Tony knows this because he can’t bring himself to stop staring at Steve’s face.

Though Tony’s breath catches when Steve dabs the cloth on his arc reactor, his body stiffening involuntarily, Steve’s touch gentles noticeably there; Tony exhales and doesn’t pull away. From there Steve swipes down his stomach, making Tony wiggle and smile just a little at the ticklish sensation, and moves slow, so slow, and so careful, over his softened, spent cock, his balls, and his hole, where Tony had held Steve inside him not long ago. He still feels him there.

Steve’s strong. Tony’s seen him throw cars like they weighed the same as a child’s ball. All that leashed strength makes Tony's breath come faster, but Steve’s hands on him have never been anything but unfailingly gentle.

Tony pulls himself to sitting and lets his back kiss the cool wood of the headboard.

He glances down and notices how the change in position makes his stomach pooch out. Not a lot, thankfully, but enough that his ego pings sharply. Vanity hisses in his ear and convinces him he should suck in his gut. Steve leans over and drops the cloth on the nightstand before he settles close to Tony again and pinches an inch or fine, maybe an inch and a half of skin and fat around Tony’s belly button, then moves to poke his belly outright, wiggling his fingers until Tony squeaks. “Stop that,” he says, trying to sound indignant and not embarrassed, despite the definite flare of heat in his cheeks, “I work out, but I’m not twenty anymore. And anyway, not all of us have sixteen packs, Mr. My Abs Have Little Baby Abs.”

“You don’t need to do that with me. Stop sucking in your stomach.”

Whoa. That right there’s Steve’s command voice, and that’s his don’t you fuck with me, Mr. frown; he recognizes both because he’s intimately familiar with them, and as usual, they make Tony’s skin itch somewhere he can’t scratch, awakening duel and conflicting impulses in him: 1) To obey. Like, yesterday. 2) To stick out his tongue and do whatever Steve just told him not to do.

With a small shrug, Tony slouches back, and after a deep breath, lets his stomach relax. Whatever. He knows a lost cause when he sees it.

“That’s much better,” Steve murmurs, warm and approving, and something inside Tony that had gone taut and tense when Steve pinched his belly fat, loosens. Just a touch. It’s hard not to; when Steve sounds like that, Tony wants nothing more than to wrap himself in his velvet voice and roll around in it.

Steve cups his palm to Tony’s stomach, concentrated heat, long, elegant fingers spread wide over the trail of hair that begins below his navel, and it feels so good that Tony makes a small, helpless sound in the back of his throat. He draws closer and closer still, until the smooth, hot skin of his cheek is pressed to Tony’s, his lips a revelation next to Tony’s ear. “I think,” Steve says, drawing a full-body shiver from Tony, “I think you’re beautiful, Tony.”

Tony ducks his head. “Come on, Steve.” He’s not fishing for compliments. He has a realistic sense of his own appearance; does his best to work with what he’s got. He’s not hideous, no, of course, he knows that. Good hair, thankfully, but on the short side for a man, and between the avenging and the gym, he’s in decent shape. But beautiful? Yeah, that’s not a word he associates with himself.

“No.” Steve sits back on his heels and peers into Tony’s face, tips his chin up with a single finger, so Tony has no choice but to look back. His quiet regard leaves Tony the tiniest bit unnerved because while he's used to people staring at him, it's an entirely new and different thing to feel like he's actually being seen.

“Listen to me. You use your hands”—Steve traces his thumbs along the veins on the backs of Tony’s hands, then turns them both over and shapes kisses on the sensitive skin of his palms, and god, it does things to Tony—“to create amazing things. And that brain of yours is absolutely gorgeous. The things you imagine. The things you make. Your whole body, you use it to, to protect people. Why wouldn’t I think you’re beautiful?”

It’s just sex.

Tony blinks rapidly. Oh, this man is so fucking earnest and honest it kills him. “Why would you?” he blurts out, a question for a question, not really thinking before he speaks. “That’s the real question. I’m just a big man in a suit of armor, right?” Tony says, without much bite, throwing Steve’s old words back at him without understanding exactly why. Story of his life, ha ha ha.

(Maybe because Steve’s pressing on something tender, the echoes of a bruise that should have faded already.

Why can’t he just be normal? Why does his mouth qualify as a loaded weapon?

This is why we can’t have nice things, Anthony.

And it’s his old man’s voice in his head and well, doesn’t that just fucking suck?

Maybe because throwing a verbal punch feels easier than acknowledging how much he wants to believe Steve right now.)

Steve inhales sharply, Tony’s hands falling from his grasp, and oh, Tony did that; it’s his fault for making a big deal about a dumb, offhand comment from a long time ago. People say stupid shit, himself more than most. Instantly, he misses Steve’s warmth. “Oh,” says Steve, and his lips draw tight and thin. “Been carrying that around for a while, huh?” and there’s hurt, or maybe regret, Tony can’t quite tell which, threaded through his words and coiled in the planes of his face.

For once, Tony has nothing to say, so he just makes a noncommittal noise, shrugs, and shrinks against the headboard, tucking his arms in front of his chest and looking across the room at the bookshelf filled with Steve’s books. Looking anywhere but at Steve.

“I’m sorry, Tony,” Steve finally says.

It’s just sex.

“Don’t worry about it.” He flaps his hand in a careless gesture, waving away Steve’s apology. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” Tony quips, and there is something quiet and unaccountably sad in Steve’s eyes as they look at each other. Its claws hook in the tender flesh of Tony’s belly and tug, hard.

“Don’t lie to me.” Tony lets his glance slide away, but Steve leans in, chases it until Tony’s ensnared once again. "You think I don’t know words can hurt? Before the serum, I was maybe 5’7” on a good day. About a hundred pounds. A little guy. As if that wasn’t enough, I was always sick. If it wasn’t my heart it was my lungs. Or my ears. I was always tired. Always poor.”

None of this is news to Tony, since he’s read all of Steve’s files and had learned everything about him from his father when he was a kid. But somehow, hearing the words from Steve’s mouth, sitting in his bed and watching the old pain creep across his face in the warm glow of the lamplight, it’s different. Harder than he might’ve expected it to be if he’d ever thought about it, which he hasn’t. It just is.

Steve sits back, legs crisscrossed, and his chest expands on a big exhale, contracts on a sigh. “People were cruel. They still are; that’s one thing that isn’t different here in the future, Tony. They said― They said...things. To me. About me. I’d tell myself it didn’t matter, but we both know that’s not true.”

Steve’s right; Tony does know. His hands fist, nails biting into his palms at the thought of the casual cruelty Steve endured. He wants to hit something―wants to hit someone―on Steve’s behalf.

“I’m sorry I did that to you, Tony. It was wrong.”

“Thanks,” says Tony, and lets that sit and breathe in the space between him and Steve.

“You ever said something you didn’t mean? Or maybe you meant it at the time, but it turned out you were wrong?”

Tony shoots Steve an incredulous look, eyes wide. “Uh, yeah. Hello, have you even met me?”

“Everything special about me came out of a bottle,” Steve murmurs, parroting Tony’s words from what feels like a lifetime ago. Steve’s head tilts to the side, and his lips twist in a smile that’s small, maybe a little broken, but utterly without malice. It stings, though, bright and sharp as a paper cut.

Tony winces. “See what I mean?” He scrubs hard at his hair. Pulls until it hurts. “I’m a dick, Steve. Everybody knows this.” He reaches a hand toward Steve but lets it drop to the bed with a thump , the sound harsh in the quiet room. Face downcast, he watches his own useless hand pluck at the sheets. “What I said back then, it was stupid—and a lie. You are special, and, and, and… GAH! Why can’t I just say this?”

Big man in a suit of armor? Ha. More like little man with no armor—zip, zero, zilch—and tons of soft, squishy, vulnerable bits. He hates it. So much.

“Tony, it’s OK.”

“No, it’s not. Just— Shut up and let me finish.” Grimacing, Tony cracks his knuckles. “I’m sorry, too. You are special,” Tony says, hushed, and to his complete and total mortification, his voice cracks. To me, he thinks but doesn’t say, rubbing at the dull ache in his chest with the heel of his hand. Somebody please just kill me now. But he flew a nuke into space once; maybe he can be a little brave if he absolutely has to be. Breathing’s hard, and his face, god, his face feels like a five-alarm fire, but— “It has nothing to do with the serum and everything to do with who you are and I know who you are.” The words tumble out at high speed, clunky and graceless. But he says them; he means them. “I know who you are.” If will can make a thing so, maybe Steve even believes him.

Luckily, Steve doesn’t seem to expect more than that. For that morsel of grace, Tony’s thankful. Steve doesn’t push him to say anything else. Which is good because Tony’s got nothing else. His throat’s dry and tight.

Steve merely nods, eyes kind and soft, and unfolds his naked body, which is a beautiful collection of lines, curves, angles, and dark-smudge shadowed hollows, moving down the bed, pushing the rumpled blue sheets out of his way as he goes, with no hesitation, only an assured grace that goes straight to Tony’s head―and his battered heart. When he gets where he wants to go, Steve pauses and glances up at Tony. “Can I touch you?” he asks, his voice impossibly small and uncertain in a way that deepens the sweet pain behind Tony’s breastbone.

“Do you still want to?”

“More than anything, sweetheart.” The unexpected endearment, spoken in that throaty rasp, as if Steve’s sharing a secret, swoops through Tony and settles low in his belly, warm and comforting, a pleasure separate from all the others he’s experienced with Steve. Tony smuggles it away for later. Mine, he thinks, and he knows that isn’t true, but he can pretend if he wants. No one else will know; no one else will get hurt.

“Then touch me.” Saying the words feels like flying, like being in his suit and getting those first few feet of air and realizing he won’t fall. Not unless he wants to.

Tony’s breath hitches as Steve strokes his thumbs in small, barely-there circles along the insides of his thighs, heating his skin and the blood that pulses beneath it. Gradually he increases the pressure of his hands, slow and deliberate, to make space for himself between Tony’s spread legs.

Sharp teeth nip, playful, at Tony’s hip bone; Steve growls low, his breath a hot puff of air against Tony, who huffs a soft laugh as their gazes mesh. Tony can’t resist reaching down and petting the silky-slip-glide tangles of Steve’s hair; can’t help the hot surge of satisfaction that flashes in him when Steve sighs and turns his face into Tony’s hand, gorgeous and so responsive to his touch.

Part of him wants to look away—the part that knows with a terrible certainty that nothing and no one gold or good ever stays. He’s never been enough to make anyone stay. Or maybe it’s just that he’s never deserved to have anyone stay. He’s— He’s a goddamn mess. More trouble than he’s worth. People, good people, have died because of him. Because of Stark tech and Stark selfishness and Stark ignorance, and he wants to try, Tony is trying: to be better; to do better; to do more. It’s not enough. He’s not enough. Maybe someday. For now, he hasn’t earned the right to—

It’s just sex.

A smaller part of Tony keeps looking at Steve. A part that wants, so very many things, with an ancient, yawning hunger that’s still unsated, despite his recent orgasm. Because it has nothing to do with that. Steve with his cheek nuzzled to Tony’s naked thigh, fair Irish skin against Tony’s olive hints, watching Tony while his soft, pink mouth flickers into a sweet smile tinged with melancholy. The sweetest smile. And it hurts, even as Tony arches into it. Hurts to look at it, like staring directly into the sun, burning the afterimage onto Tony’s dark eyelids. It hurts, needle-thin glass in Tony’s lungs with each breath he takes, and it hurts in his stomach, and it aches, thick and heavy, in the backs of his eyes. Still, he doesn’t turn away—can’t turn away—because he wants to take that smile, press it between the pages of one of his old MechE textbooks, and when it’s flattened and preserved, tuck it safely in his chest, beneath the arc reactor.

So he can keep it with him, always, let it warm him when winter returns, and take it out and look at it sometimes when Steve’s gone, and he’s alone. Again.

Nothing gold can stay.

It’s just sex.

Reluctantly, Tony lifts his hand from Steve’s hair and moves, slowly pulling his legs back so he doesn’t accidentally kick Steve. “I should go.”

Steve’s big, but he also moves fast. In two blinks, he pulls himself up on his knees and straddles Tony, one hand at Tony’s hip, the other warm at his shoulder. Tony has to tip his head back to be able to make out his face. Tony hates even the idea of magic, but Steve’s sweat-soap-sex scent weaves a spell around him, making him want to close his eyes and just breathe Steve in.

“Stay,” Steve says, his voice deepening, seducing the word into a caress, not a command, as he draws a hand from Tony’s shoulder up his throat, to the back of his head, where he curves it through his hair and against his scalp, gently cupping his skull. Tony shudders once and melts into his touch. “Please stay.”