“Tony!” someone shouts.
It’s bright. Everything is very bright.
Other people are shouting too, calling out.
It’s very loud.
His eyes are open. He’s staring up at the sky, from the ground. He’s lying flat on the ground, and there are people around him staring back at him, frowning nervously. Kneeling beside him is a man he’s never seen before; he would have remembered a face like that. He’s covered in dirt and sweat, and still looks like a model for high-end cologne. His face is perfection – all-American, sun-kissed perfection, with big, plump, berry-red lips and amazing cheekbones and an incredible jawline, and soft blond hair, and beautiful, long eyelashes around eyes that sparkle and are even bluer than the sky above him. Azure.
“Hello,” he manages. His voice is hoarse and he’s lying on the floor. It seems he was probably unconscious. Or maybe dead. Was this heaven? It sure didn’t smell like heaven. “Please tell me you just kissed me.”
The man laughs nervously. “Well, he’s awake at least,” he announces, worrying his lip. Damn, what a sight. Of course his teeth are whiter and straighter than a picket fence.
“Hi, gorgeous,” he says. “What’s your name?”
The man frowns. “Tony, don’t you recognise me? It’s – I’m Steve. Steve Rogers.”
“I know you?” Tony asks delightedly.
Steve just looks at him in concern. “Stark, do you know what just happened to you?”
“I fell,” Tony says, “for you.”
Steve is staring at him. “Half-right,” he murmurs. “Tony - you’re Iron Man.”
“I thought you just said I was Tony.” He tries to sit up.
“Easy, now-“ Steve steadies him. “Are you okay? Nothing broken?”
“I don’t think…a bit sore, but…” And his head is swimming, and it’s still too bright. Everything is ringing, shimmering a little, but it’s hard to focus on that. To say Steve’s arms were strong would be a supermassive understatement. He’s in some sort of superhero costume, too, which is ridiculously unfair. Now he’s had a better look, Tony’s inclined to switch ‘cologne model’ for ‘underwear model’.
“Do you know where you are?”
He manages to crane his neck a little. He can move okay. He can see okay. “Looks like it used to be New York.”
Another man shoulders his way through the little crowd. He’s shirtless, but one of them is a silent, red-haired woman in a catsuit and another is wearing a cape, so what was new there.
“Alright, let’s have a look at him.” This new brunet kneels at his side, and Steve moves back to let him in. “Tony? Do you know what day it is today?”
“Steve’s sticking around, right?”
“Tony? Today’s date?”
“No clue. Thursday? It feels like a Thursday. Can you ask Steve if he wants to go get shawarma with me?”
The man nods at him distractedly. “Do you know my name?”
“I’m Bruce. Dr. Banner. You remember? Okay, how are you feeling?”
“Dizzy,” he answers. “Dizzy. Kind of a sore head too. Yeah – just really hungover. Where did Steve go?”
“Okay, don’t shoot yourself in the face or anything, just – can I just shine the light from this on you? Okay, that’s great…”
Tony realizes the light is coming from his own hand. That’s kind of odd.
“Yep,” Bruce says, “you’re concussed.”
“Thank you,” Tony says. “So are you.”
Bruce stands up. “Grade 2, at least. We should get him to a hospital, let them check his head over.”
“No ambulances will get through at this rate,” Steve says. Oh good, he’s still there. Tony was hoping he wouldn’t have to throw a tantrum. He can see him thinking it over. “But it’s not too far. I know a route that should be fairly quiet. We can go on foot – it’ll be faster.”
“I’ll go if you’re taking me,” Tony agrees, holding tight onto Steve as he hauls him to his feet, staggering a little against his strong form, and a thick pain strikes through his head. “Ouch. Wow.”
The silent, pretty lady shoots a look at Steve. “Are you sure about this?” She asks.
“It’ll be fine,” he assures her. “I know the way, and I can carry him if needs be.” He looks around. “I can be back soon, but it looks like you guys have it covered.”
Tony has all the butterflies. All of them in the world, all at once. It’s not too easy to walk, but Steve’s arm around his waist makes a world of difference. He wonders if he ever knew that the small of his back was an erogenous zone. He smiles at Steve as they round the corner. “Hey,” he breathes. “Anyone ever tell you how unbelievably hot you are?”
Steve flushes all over his face. “Tony, you’re not in your right mind,” he says, looking straight ahead of them.
“I’m not blind. What, if I were in my right mind would I be acting like a total jerk to you? If so, I’m staying like this,” he argues. “Do you want to go out with me?”
There’s a pause of near-silence as they trudge through the back streets. “Do you even remember who you are? Where you live?”
“I don’t care. I just want to take you out to dinner.”
“Oh, boy,” Steve sighs. “You hit your head real hard, didn’t you?”
“We know each other, right?” He urges. “Tell me. Remind me. Where did you grow up?”
Steve snuffles with laughter. “Right here in New York,” he says, “In a sense. Brooklyn.”
“But you’ve been away for a long time,” Tony says.
Steve looks at him, blue eyes wide. “You remember?”
“You know the way,” Tony points out, “But you’re rusty. It’s taking you some time to orient yourself, since all the storefronts have changed.”
Steve shakes his head, looking down, smiling. “Still a genius.”
“I’m a genius? Awesome. Want to date a genius?”
Steve laughs aloud. It’s a beautiful sound, and Tony’s already addicted.
“What do you do, Steve?” He presses on.
It’s a few more long strides before he answers. “It seems I’m a costumed vigilante who got hired.”
“Like me?” He looks down at his costume. It’s a lot thicker and heavier than Steve’s. “How do I take this off? I just…” He touches something and his metal hand unfolds into his sleeve. “Woah.”
It doesn’t hold his attention very long, though. “You believe in soulmates? It’s just that I feel like I’ve known you longer than I have. I mean, not just longer than the ten minutes I’ve been conscious. I mean like in other lives. Hey, if there are infinite universes, there must be one where we’re married. Is that a terrible pick-up line? My brain’s addled - you have to tell me if that’s a terrible pick-up line.”
Steve’s cheeks are pink and he shakes his head like he’s trying to prove he’s not interested, but Tony hasn’t lost his basic human intuition. “Tony. You’re rambling. Cool down.”
“You run hot,” he argues. “What am I supposed to do?”
Steve sighs. “I’ve half a mind to just drop you in the street.”
“You’re too good a man to do that.”
“Oh, yeah?” He says sharply. “And how would you know?”
Tony’s silent for a moment, because of course he doesn’t know, and yet he still does. “Because opposites attract,” he settles finally, stroking Steve’s neck and whispering against it. “And I’m a bad, bad man…”
Steve snorts, but the skin Tony’s breathing into turns red as well. “No: that, that was terrible.”
“It’s still turning you on.”
Steve sighs. “I’m looking forward to watching you get sedated.”
“You know me,” Steve jokes, pausing; swallowing. His eyes don’t leave the ground.
Tony gets the feeling grabbing his ass wouldn’t land well, but being nice doesn’t seem to be getting him anywhere. “I knew it. I am an asshole, right? I’m getting major ‘you’re an asshole’ vibes. Am I an asshole? If so, seriously, let’s just start afresh - whatever baggage I have right now, I’m not carrying it. In fact, I’m pretty sure you are. You know - literally.”
Steve’s smiling again. “Good thing, too. It kind of seemed like whatever that baggage was made you hate me.”
“What?” Tony gapes. “Outrageous. How could I hate you? I clearly just didn’t know you well enough. Come on - open up to me. What do you like doing?”
Steve looks horribly indecisive. Tony wonders if he’s normally a complete jackass to everyone – they all seem positively alarmed at what he thought was polite small talk – but there’s no time to think about that now. “I like to draw.”
“I bet you’re great.”
“I’m alright, I guess,” Steve admits with a smile. “And you like to make things, remember? You made your suit.”
“This thing? Holy hell, I’m good. Now I just need to remember how it works.”
“You remember JARVIS?”
Tony shakes his head at him. “Jarvis?”
Steve looks crestfallen at his blank face. “We need to get you back to normal.”
Tony tries to think, very hard, about what ‘normal’ actually is for him; and when he can’t, he thinks about what he’d like it to be. “Will you still be there?”
Steve studies him carefully. “Yeah,” he says softly. “Yeah, Tony, ‘course I’ll still be there.”
“And then you’ll go out with me.”
He looks away, doesn’t speak for a moment. Tony wonders how far ‘not far’ is. He hopes it’s far. “You don’t know what you’re saying, Tony. You don’t even like men.”
He almost stops walking. Awkward. “Hooooo, boy. I’m not sure who this Tony guy is, but I hope I haven’t just wrecked his life by accidentally outing him.”
Steve’s eyebrows are raised. “Are you telling me you do like men?”
“Well, I have just spent the entirety of my consciousness trying to make out with you, hot-stuff, but you seem smart enough, so I’ll let this one slide…”
Steve rolled his eyes. “You thought ‘concussed’ was a compliment - I’m reluctant to listen to what you have to say.”
“I may have hit my head, and I may be babbling, but you, sir, are damn fine. Steve.” He stops walking again; turns to face him. He’s still in his arms, and he’s in no way complaining. “If I’ve known you for anything longer than a day and I’ve been pretending you’re not attractive, or pretending that I don’t already know how I feel about you - God knows how I know it - then I’m a complete idiot.”
“Keep talking,” Steve laughs.
“An absolute fool,” he affirms, to Steve’s glee. “I know I don’t know you, but I do know you, really – and something is telling me that you’re smart, and funny, and quick-witted, and dedicated, and you have an old soul…I don’t know why I know, I just know I do. And you – you are the hottest guy I’ve ever seen, including that capey one who looked like some sort of Norse god.”
Steve’s mouth curls up at the corner, and Tony hopes he hasn’t had another lucky guess, because he can’t deal with gods right now. Right now there’s Steve, and that’s more than enough to occupy his senses. He lets him do so, leaning in close, hands on his sides, and for a second Steve looks dizzy too, like it’s Tony holding him up instead of Steve enveloping him, intoxicating him entirely. He looks like he’s never been this close to another human, and judging by the way he’s looking at Tony, he’s glad that human is him.
“I mean it,” Tony says, and even to him, it sounds like his brand-new voice just changed.
Steve’s breath catches. “Tony.” Only Tony was close enough notice his arms shaking, this lightest of tremors in Steve’s hands. He only looks uncertain that he’s feeling such certainty, exactly the same way Tony is, and Tony can see he’s balanced on the tipping point of believing him, for better or worse for the pair of them. He clears his throat, but all he can say is, “I…Tony.”
Tony’s voice is quiet and serious, to-the-point. “I have no idea, really, what’s going on, or who I am, or where I am, and so it feels like all of this is just a dream. And I don’t want it to finish – if I’m dreaming, I want to…” He raises his hand, curves his fingertips around Steve’s cheek. Steve is holding his breath; his eyes are dark and flickering between Tony’s eyeline and his lips. “You are perfect,” Tony whispers, and Steve shivers, takes hold of his wrist and kisses him.
And Tony kisses him back, a matching shiver sliding down his spine. Whoever this body belonged to, he clearly hadn’t used it in a while. From the way he’s reacting, it’s been even longer since he did anything with a man, if that had ever happened. Oh, boy. He hopes he’s doing this guy a favor. Himself a favor. Whatever.
Steve pulls back. “Tony.”
Something about that sound breaks his heart. The word is full of hesitation, and Tony doesn’t want to hear the rest. It’s like without any tangible memories, he can suddenly see right into the future.
In a panic, he blurts, “Something’s telling me I’m in love with you,” and Steve stops looking pained and looks like he just took a hit to the head, too.
“This guy. Tony. He. He’s going to kill me for saying this, isn’t he? I mean, I’m going to kill myself. Look, I don’t know how we met, or what we did the last time we hung out even, I just know it’s true. Or at least, that it’s going to be.” He strokes Steve’s neck, looking right into his eyes. “That’s funny, right?” He whispers.
Steve looks like he’s about to cry. “Tony,” there it is, that sound again. “You have a girlfriend.”
Tony hears his own feet taking half a step back.
It feels like his guts just disappeared. There are no lungs, no vocal chords, no diaphragm to speak with, and when they do come back, his stomach is still a gaping hole. “Oh.” Steve’s eyes are on the floor again, heavy. “Is it serious?”
“Pretty serious,” he says hollowly.
“I don’t even know her name-“
“I don’t want to know her name,” he interrupts, shaking. “So that’s why I haven’t asked you out, huh?”
“You also kind of dislike me. And we all thought you were straight. And you probably thought I was straight, too.”
“No way. Have you seen what you’re wearing? You couldn’t look gayer.”
“Well, I’m not gay, either,” he says, giving a little smile that looks like it could bubble into laughter.
Tony has a thought that's been a long time coming. “Are we famous?”
The question hits him sideways. “If we weren’t already, I guess we are now…”
“I am being a total prize idiot, aren’t I.” He shakes his head. “We should get to the hospital…” Girlfriend. Who did this guy think he was kidding? Apart from himself, apparently. Okay, he doesn’t feel very much like an out-and-out homosexual, but…Steve. How could anyone else compare?
Steve’s eyes are very, very deep when he finally looks up, and Tony can’t look away. It’s no lucky guess to say he has an old soul; he can see it right there, like he has decades more pain etched into him than any other man his age. It’s like if Dorian Gray were a nice guy! Tony would have to be mad not to take him, surely? It’s a good thing he’s seeing straight, he thinks, now his head’s been hit.
He clutches at Steve’s wrists and clings on. “No.”
Steve’s eyebrows twitch. “No?” his voice barely vibrates past his vocal chords. The word doesn’t sound like a word.
“I guess there’ll be consequences to deal with if I get my memory back,” Tony says, and the words feel strange on his tongue; my memory, when right now it feels like someone else’s; someone else’s burden to take on, his memory. It feels like he’s been living in a foreign country for so long that when he tries to speak his native tongue, all that comes out are these new words; but he can express himself just fine, so why try to find his way back to the old ones? “But right now, I’m not…I’m not that guy that everyone thinks they know. I don’t know who he is. All I know right now is the streets of New York, the blue sky, and you. And it would be perfect if life were that simple,” he mutters. “But what I’m trying to say is, until I’m that other person again, if that happens –“ Oh, god. A whole life. A whole life is going to come back to him. Or isn’t. He isn’t sure which is scarier. “Until then, I’m me. I have no girlfriend. I have no home. I have nothing. I just want you.”
Steve’s lips are so close to his. “Sure – I mean, are you? Are you sure about this?”
“Positive.” He looks around. “I mean, we might not have much time, anyway – I forgot to ask if the world was ending?”
He smiles at him. “Nah; I’m pretty sure you saved it.”
Tony smirks. “I must be awesome.” His hands slide up Steve’s arms. “Okay; maybe not today, maybe not this month even – but I’m going to take you out to dinner,” he promises.
And Steve kisses him again. It’s slow. Time melts around him, and now his hands start to explore Steve’s endless shoulders - until he pulls away again, voice quick and warm and low. “No backsies,” he warns, as he backs him out of the road.
They’re against a wall, and Steve’s mouth’s on his neck. Tony has one hand working on various parts of his metal suit, and the other on Steve. His body is sculpted to perfection; Tony can’t help but wonder if it’s real.
“We shouldn’t be…” Steve is muttering. “We can’t – I just want to…”
“I will have you right here if you want me,” Tony answers into his mouth. “I already won’t be able to walk tomorrow.”
Steve laughs softly, voice strained, thighs grinding against him. He’s so well-muscled that Tony has to pull him in close, his own thighs all but wrapped right around him, just to feel his hardness, and he’s whispering in Tony’s ear that he thinks about him when he touches himself…
That has Tony tuned in like a lightning rod and his hands at Steve’s flies, working him free, and Steve gasps at him, or maybe to himself: “Just this – I can’t – she – I just want to remember this. Just let me have this.” And enough of Tony is exposed now that Steve’s hands can find him, too, so they’re both gasping, both writhing together. The street is shadowy and deserted, but the jerk of Steve’s hips is frantic, his kisses desperate, like at any minute Tony will wake up or someone will walk by or the sky will fall in again. Until then, his body and mind are nothing but Steve, America, and that wide, wide blue sky. He wonders if he’ll ever have something this perfect again. He wonders if any memories this perfect will come back to him. A jolt of nerves flashes through him and he clings to Steve, finding his mouth moving without his permission, moaning his name, whispering to go faster, and suddenly he can see the heavens – literal, expansive galaxies, new realms roaming above his eyes, full of stars and distant life, and the blinding rim of the earth closing around it, and the endless blank of the sky, the roaring pleasure, the rushing wind of a fall from another world, the shudder of force as he hits the ground, and Steve calling out his name.
He might be unconscious again. This time, he can’t breathe. He feels his lungs trying to fill his body again. Gradually, he starts to feel Steve’s arms, Steve’s body around him. His hands are wet with sweat and more, and his whole body is shaking.
“I fell from the sky,” he says suddenly, voice thick and rough with acute orgasm.
He feels Steve look at him through heavy lids. He sounds more than breathless, like he’s talking from that other dimension. “You.” He swallows, gasping for air. “You remember?”
“I…” Okay, he needs to give himself a minute. “That was incredible.”
Steve’s hands slide over his body again, wet and slick, and he gives a whimper and kisses Tony’s neck. Tony will never stop being grateful for the intensity of arousal after battle - one of the most brilliant inconveniences of human nature: they’re both clothed, except for their spent cocks, still standing straight, dusky and resting against each other. “What else do you remember?” Steve murmurs against his neck.
Tony shakes his head. “Just that.”
Steve cocks his head. “You mean…” he lets Tony clamber down to the ground from around him, slowly, gently. “Are you telling me that we just…and now you…and that made you remember falling to the earth from another dimension?”
“Closest analogy I can think of,” he affirms.
Steve’s smile bubbles into laughter. He kisses him softly, wipes him clean, licks his hand, tucks them away, and Tony’s still in a stupor. “I’m going to an even worse corner of hell if I don’t get you to hospital right this second,” he says weakly. “Mind if I carry you?”
Tony raises his eyebrows. “Well. If you insist…”
Steve sweeps him up, shaking his head. “I can think of a dozen reasons I shouldn’t have done that,” he tells Tony in a concessionary voice. Tony’s about to speak when he adds, “It’s just I’m in love with you.”
This is much better.
It’s still a bit too bright, but it’s blissfully silent. He’s not covered in heavy metal, and he’s clean and cool. Actually, his ears are still ringing a little, and there’s beeping, but everything else is fine. There’s no pain. He should probably open his eyes soon. He hears breathing beside him, and opens them right away.
Steve looks at him, eyes startlingly bright as ever. “Tony-“ he reaches for his hand. “Tony. How do you feel?”
“I’m…fine. Fine.” He searches himself for pain. “I’m all good. How long was I out?”
Steve looks like a deer in the headlights, a first-timer on the stage, floodlights just having hit him, and he’s forgotten his lines. “Uh, about sixteen hours. The doctors said you’d make a full recovery, but…but I…” He’s shaking, too; nervous. “Tony – I’m so glad you’re okay, I…“
“How much do you remember?”
“I remember fighting…I remember totally kicking Loki’s butt, I remember that much. Little punk. Did we win?”
He smiles. “We won. How much else do you remember?”
“I’m pretty sure I fell.”
He smiles harder. “Oh, yeah. And after?”
“After?” He asks.
Steve looks at him blankly.
“He’s awake?” Pepper says from the door. “Oh, thank god, thank…” She rushes to his side. “Tony, are you okay?”
“Hey, Pep,” he smiles. “Good to see you. I’m…fine. Really fine. We can probably get out of here now.” His face falls. “I tried to call you before – did you get-“
“I know,” she says. Steve can’t see her face, but it sounds like she’s crying. “I know, I saw the missed calls, and I’m sorry, I’m so sorry – but Steve carried you to hospital, and you’re okay now, you’re okay…”
Her hands are on his face. She loves him, and he loves her.
Steve feels like a hollow bell, with something being drawn around the rim inside to sound it, grinding slowly, round and round, the echo of the sound building louder and louder inside of it and dulling the outside world, shaking the body of it with the thick, rich resonance of a cutting minor note.
Tony is only looking at Pepper.
He steps away, tries to back out of the room even if he can’t stop staring.
Tony notices and looks up. “Hey, Steve?” He says. His voice is…Tony. It’s full of nothing. It’s full of time spent on the helicarrier, ignoring each other or bumping into each other or antagonising each other or arguing about nothing just to talk to each other. It’s empty of their walk to the hospital, the words he said to Steve, the things he did to him, the way his climax gave him back his only memory, the way all he had and all he wanted was Steve. It’s full of absolutely nothing.
Steve’s voice cracks as he says, “Yeah?”
“We should celebrate,” he says. Pepper is right beside him, holding his hands just how Steve was. “Get the crew together. We should all go get shawarma. I don’t know what it is, but I want it.”
Steve can’t even breathe. His voice is stuck in his heart. Like it’s someone else speaking for him, he says, “Are you sure?” with a glance to Pepper, like he’s asking her instead, but she’s just nodding, beaming. Nothing could bother her. She has Tony back.
“Positive,” Tony says.
Not-Steve smiles. “No backsies,” he says, as he backs out of the room.
Tony smiles back and says “I swear.”