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a selfish kind of love

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Contrary to popular belief, Steve knew he had fucked up. He knew he should have told Tony about his parents, but who could blame him for not after seeing how Tony reacted? He was protecting his friend, surely Tony could understand that? If Tony wouldn’t do the same for Rhodes, were they actually best friends? Steve did what any good friend would do.

 

Steve didn’t understand, then, why Tony couldn't forgive him. They both fucked up; Tony brought his Accords to the table to collar them all to corrupt governments. For a self-proclaimed genius (and sometimes Steve had his doubts about the man’s supposed genius), Tony was remarkably stupid during the Accords situation.

 

Especially after what they had been to each other. Steve had thought Tony loved him. They had been dating for almost two years when the “Civil War” happened, and Steve had hoped that Tony would remember those days and realize he was being petty. Sure, their relationship wasn’t perfect. Tony still spent too much time in the lab, was confrontational and rude sometimes, and refused to follow orders. But Steve had thought he could fix that, fix Tony , so he stayed with the genius even when he drove Steve up the wall. They had it good, then Tony had to go ruin everything with his Accords.

 

When they had come back, Steve was willing to let bygones be bygones. Eager for it, actually. Tony needed a guiding influence like him and his team, not the enablers he found in the New Avengers. But apparently, their time away wasn’t enough to make Tony see his mistakes or stop being petty. No matter, Steve could wait. Now that Bucky was back in cryo (which saddened Steve; he knew Tony could help with the triggers, but for some reason the man refused), he had time for Tony that he didn't before. He could wait.

 

However, Tony sank to newer and newer lows, going so far as to fake a relationship with the pretentious Sorcerer Supreme to make Steve jealous. He remembered Stephen Strange from when he was a rich genius like Tony, but in the medical field. He hadn’t liked Strange much, had found the man’s arrogance and ego irritating (and the way that Strange had thought Iron Man was the leader of the Avengers set him on edge. Tony simply didn’t have the leadership skills). But Strange and Tony had gotten on like old friends, which maybe they were. Tony knew Steve didn’t like the man, which was probably why he of all people was chosen for Tony’s lie.

 

Tony didn't even show up when he and his team came home. At the airport, there was a group of assorted suits, but none of the New Avengers or Tony (later, CNN would run stills of where they were; eating pizza in downtown New York for “team bonding”). If Steve was angry, that was nothing compared to the rest of his team.

 

“What an asshole,” Clint seethed. “Couldn’t even send us a car.” They had to take a shuttle to the Compound, surrounded by armed agents. It was… uncomfortable , to say the least, to be treated like dangerous criminals.

 

Wanda was incandescent with rage, red mist collecting to the point where she was threatened with power suppression cuffs. Sam and Lang were sitting there quietly disappointed, but Steve could tell how angry they were.

 

“He can’t let go of his ego and admit he was wrong,” Natasha said plainly. “Steve will set him straight, though.”

 

Steve nodded firmly. “Yes, I will,” he said. “This kind of behavior is unacceptable from a teammate.”

 

“I don't want to be on a team he’s on,” Wanda hissed. “He killed my parents! Pietro!”

 

“We’ll get him relegated to funding and maintenance, like he was meant to,” Steve soothed. “We can find a new Iron Man pilot.”

 

One of the agents scoffed softly. “You know he is Iron Man, right?” he asked. “He built that suit in a cave with a box of scraps. It’s death on legs; Stark could decimate entire countries with it but he’s still willing to submit to accountability. I sure as hell wouldn’t trust another pilot with that kind of power.”

 

“You don’t know him like we know him,” Steve swore darkly. “He’s a good man, deep down, but he’s rash, reckless, and impulsive. He shouldn’t have a suit capable of that much destruction.”

 

“Then who should?” Another agent chimed in.

 

Steve was getting annoyed; who were these people to barge into his private conversation with his team? “I don’t know yet,” he said tersely, ending the conversation.

 

The agents snickered, but didn’t say anything for the rest of the ride. They pulled into the Compound fairly quickly after that, Steve grimacing when the turn onto the driveway seemed unnecessarily sharp and Wanda hit the window.

 

“Welcome to Avengers’ Compound,” a tired-looking Maria Hill was waiting to greet them. “Unfortunately, the New Avengers are out and about today, so you can meet them all later. Maps and rules of the Compound were in your introduction packets, which I’m sure you’ve read fully. FRIDAY will assist you if you need it.” She walked off towards the building, muttering angrily about drawing the short straw.

 

Steve stepped forward, adopting his leader persona despite being angry and Tony and his new team’s pettiness. “Come on,” he urged. “Let’s get settled in.”

 

---

 

It took the better part of a week before Steve was able to get time alone with Tony. The man was wily, slipping out of meeting and disappearing into elevators before Steve could even leave the room. He knew FRIDAY had to be helping him, as the AI clearly was programmed to hate them. It was always cold and impolite, unlike how it was when it was first activated. Yet another thing to add to the list to talk to Tony about, Steve figured.

 

Eventually, though, Tony had to stop avoiding him. Steve enlisted Clint and Sam to block the exits to the conference room they were in while Natasha took care of FRIDAY. At the end of the meeting when Tony went to make his escape, he was stopped by Clint and Sam. He spun around to face Steve with a scowl.

 

“Make them move or I will,” he threatened.

 

“Tony,” Steve said placatingly. “I just want to talk.”

 

“And I just want to leave the fucking room, but I suppose we’re going to ignore that?”

 

“Tony,” Now Steve’s voice held an undercurrent of disapproval. “Language.”

 

“Shut your fucking mouth, you motherfucking shithead.”

 

Steve sighed. “Sit down. We have a lot to talk about.” He used the commanding tone that so often had Tony obeying, but the man held firm this time.

 

“Not going to fucking happen,” he snarled. He looked like he was weighing his chances in a fight against the three.

 

“I know you still love me,” Steve said, playing his trump card early if only to stop Tony’s scheming mind.

 

Tony’s jaw dropped open. “I’m sorry, what?” he said incredulously. “Rogers, I don’t even like you. Whatever love I had for you froze in that bunker.”

 

Steve flinched minutely. “You’re lying,” he said gently. “I know the thing with Strange is just a ploy to make me jealous. Don’t be petty, Tony. I thought you were better than this.”

 

“Better than what?” Stephen Strange appeared in a hoop of golden sparks. “You? Yes.” He moved over to Tony, standing protectively in front of him. “You okay, love?”

 

“Peachy,” Tony replied, his only tell the slight shaking of his hands. “What took you so long? Fri called you ages ago.”

 

“Natasha shut FRIDAY down,” Steve interjected, almost apologetically. He knew how attached Tony got to his programs, even if it wasn’t healthy.

 

Tony snorted loudly. “You think Romanoff can shut down my tech?” Steve winced at the display of arrogance. “FRIDAY just muted herself when she felt Romanoff poking around in her code. She’s not an idiot, unlike some people.”

 

“Tony, please,” Steve didn’t know how to respond to Tony’s aggression. When they were together, he would kiss Tony to make him stop, which always worked. He stepped forward to try it, only to be stopped both by Tony’s flinch and Strange’s golden magic.

 

“Back off,” Strange hissed. He looked at the lightly trembling engineer. “Lab?” he asked.

 

Tony nodded, shooting a death glare at Steve and his team. “Anywhere but here,” the venom was clear in his tone.

 

“You love me,” Steve called as the pair disappeared through the portal.

 

“Fuck off,” he shot back. The portal didn’t quite close fast enough, letting Steve see Strange catching Tony in a passionate kiss while the both flipped Steve off. The ruse (and Tony’s dedication to it) was enough to make Steve sick.

 

No matter, he thought. He’d make Tony see sense, somehow. After all, Tony loved him.