Steve knows before he even opens his eyes that he's not in his own bed. The mattress is soft, and he sinks into it like the proverbial cloud. The pillowcases are satin. The sheets are smooth, something with an extremely high thread count, something bought by someone who can afford to care about something like thread count. There's more than enough room; he can stretch out all he wants and his feet still aren't hanging off the end of the bed. It's-- well, luxurious is a cliché, but it really is.
And, of course, there's the matter of the person in bed with him, the person whose bed it is. He can hear Tony's breathing, quiet and shallow, the soft susurrations of sleep.
He opens his eyes and studies Tony. Steve's narrow bed back in Brooklyn wouldn't have had room for both of them, but Tony sprawls out, as free in sleep as he is in his waking hours. Tony looks-- Tony looks happy.
Steve likes to think that he has something to do with that.
Oh, it's far from the first time that he's slept with Tony. But it is the first time that he's stayed the night. Regardless of what the rest of the world may think of Captain America and his image, Steve's no innocent, and his life has been harsh enough and full of enough missed opportunities that he knows now that he should take a little happiness where he finds it. He already lost one future. He's going to make the most of this one. So it was easy to say yes to Tony, the first time. It's been easy to keep saying yes.
He's tried to keep a boundary between them, though. Maybe it isn't one that anyone else would understand, but it's his. He's always gone home every time. It's not that he doesn't like Tony, because he does, but he's lost too much to let himself get used to this. He can't expect this. He can't get lazy. Complacent. Soft.
But last night Tony had asked him to stay and he'd said yes. He didn't know what had been different this time. The sex had been good, but then, the sex was always good. Tony had asked, and he'd thought about his lonely apartment, and he'd thought about Tony's warm soft bed with Tony in it, and he thought-- well, maybe one time.
This is dangerous. He could get used to this.
Tony's eyes slit open, narrow in the morning sunshine, but his smile is wide. "Aren't you a lovely sight to wake up to, darling?" he murmurs, and the compliment and endearment combined make Steve go twice as hot. If anyone could break a man with kindness, it would be Tony.
"Thank you," Steve says. He doesn't know what else to say. He starts to edge toward the side of the bed. "I should--" he begins.
He's not sure what he's going to say he should do. Get up. Shower. Get dressed. Go on a run. Get started with his day.
Tony's hand lands firmly on his shoulder. "No, sweetheart," he says. "You shouldn't."
Steve blinks. "I shouldn't what?"
"Whatever you're going to do. You shouldn't."
Steve frowns. "Why not?"
Tony rubs at Steve's shoulder with his thumb. It feels nice. "Have you ever slept in?" he asks. "Have you ever had a lazy morning, just because you could? Have you ever just indulged yourself?" He makes the last two words throaty. Steve flushes again.
"Uh," Steve says. He gestures between them. "You mean, uh, like last night?"
"It's a start," Tony says, with that smile he has that makes Steve feel like Tony is looking at every inch of him at once. "But I don't just mean sex, as nice as that is. I mean everything."
What else is there?
"Darling," Tony says. "Please let me spoil you."
Steve's braced to say no. He knows how to deny himself, how to push it all back, how not to want. He's good at it. Maybe on a different day he would have, but then Tony smiles at him again and he just-- and he just--
"Yeah," Steve says. "Yeah, okay."
It starts with the clothes.
Steve thought, perhaps naively, that Tony was going to start off with sex. That Tony was going to keep him in bed, roll him over, and coax more pleasure out of his body. Steve would have understood that. He knows how desire works. He knows how to feel that.
But Tony gets up, pads naked over to his walk-in closet, and puts on one of his robes. This one is scarlet. And he's coming back with another robe in his hands, a shining bolt of royal blue, and that's when Steve understands -- this one is for him.
Tony motions him upward, and Steve stands and holds his arms out. He can't resist. He doesn't really want to. Tony slides Steve's hands through the sleeves. Steve expects to feel demeaned, being dressed by someone else. Instead, he feels like he's standing in the focus of a spotlight, bathed in all of Tony's caring and regard, and he's warm with something that isn't exactly shame, something that makes him feel hot and needy and open, like Tony is going to take him apart and fix him everywhere he's worn and sore and hurting inside, everywhere secret that he doesn't let anyone see.
He wants to tell Tony that the robe isn't going to fit. Tony's robes, like all his clothing, are exquisitely tailored to flatter his figure. Steve pictures his clumsy, broad shoulders ripping the fine seams of one of Tony's beautiful robes. But Tony pulls the robe up Steve's arms in a whisper of silk, and it settles perfectly across his shoulders, settles and clings, not too tight, but like it was made to fit him, and that's when Steve understands: it was.
Tony has been preparing for this.
He thinks about Tony learning his measurements from his uniform, calling his tailor, having someone make this for him. They'd have known it wasn't for Tony. What had Tony told them? A gift, maybe, for a friend?
Everything Steve has owned that has been made to fit him has been uniforms and body armor. It hasn't been his, not really. Growing up, everything he had was patched, darned, secondhand. He thinks if he asks Tony, Tony would buy him more clothes, clothes that fit only him, clothes that have only ever fit him. A luxury.
The silk rustles obscenely against Steve's skin, catching on the calluses where he's hardened himself for the world. It's the softest thing he's ever worn. Steve understands now why Tony wears robes like these. Steve can already imagine never wanting to take this off. He wants to just rub it all over his body and feel how it slides.
That's weird. He can't say that. He can't do that. That would be weird.
He's standing there with his mouth half-open as Tony walks around him and ties the robe in the front for him.
"Good?" Tony asks. His hands smooth up Steve's sides, pressing the fabric against his body and, oh, that's heavenly.
Steve just nods. He's sure he looks like an idiot. He can't think.
Tony leans in and kisses his open, slack mouth. "I can't wait until you find out about silk underwear," he murmurs.
The noise that comes out of Steve's mouth is hideously embarrassing, but Tony just smiles wider.
Steve doesn't know what Tony's turning him into, but he thinks he's enjoying it. He thinks they both are.
"Oh, sweetheart," Tony says, his face suffused with joy. "This is the most fun I've had in my life."
And then there's breakfast. Steve thought he was prepared for breakfast. The serum forced Steve to redefine his relationship to food, all right, but he thought that by now he and basic nutrition had come to, if not an understanding, at least a détente.
When he was young, food had been something there wasn't much of; his parents had struggled to feed themselves and him and Doug, and there was never enough to go around. Steve couldn't count the number of nights he'd gone to bed with his stomach twisting itself up in hunger. He'd never had all he wanted. And then, after the serum, it became a matter of needing all he could. It didn't matter if he wanted it, and it didn't matter what it was; he was eating all of it whether he liked it or not. To do his job, he needed thousands of calories a day, and that was just the way it was. That's the way it is now.
So when Steve eats, these days, it's about brutal satiety, about making sure he gets enough. At least there's always enough. Breakfast for Steve is a huge meal, a meal that would feed several men. He eats until he's full, until he can get up and do whatever it is that he needs to do, and that's the purpose of breakfast. Food tastes better than it used to, sure, but as long as it's not spam, he's grateful. He doesn't have what you might call a discriminating palate.
Steve stops dead in the entrance to Tony's dining room.
The table is piled high with all sorts of-- Steve doesn't even know what to call them. Delicacies is wrong. It's not the champagne-and-caviar style of lavish excess that Steve might have expected. It's not food that's there to show how rich Tony is. There's fresh fruit, cut and piled high into bowls. There are half a dozen different kinds of flaky little pastries. There's coffee -- Tony always has good coffee -- and a carafe of juice. It's not the utilitarian breakfast of protein, protein and more protein that Steve is used to. This is food you eat for the pleasure of eating, to enjoy eating it.
"Sit," Tony says.
Shakily, Steve does.
Tony pours him a glass of orange juice. "Here," he says. "You should try this."
Sometimes Steve buys orange juice at the store. He likes orange juice. It still comes frozen in cans, and you add water to it, just like you used to do. He likes that. It's convenient. It reminds him that some things haven't changed. It tastes better than it used to, which is nice. He read an article in a magazine that told him that they'd learned the secret of making better frozen orange juice in 1945, and his first thought had been I just missed that. His second thought had been no, I didn't.
He takes a sip of the juice, and for one perfect moment he thinks that this is what ambrosia tastes like. It's tart and sweet and amazing and he's never had anything like this before. Where did this come from? Has the future been hiding this? Orange juice doesn't taste like this. Greedy for more, he takes another sip, and it's just as wonderful. Little bits of pulp burst with flavor on his tongue.
Tony is grinning at him, eager, excited, like Steve's delight is a gift just for him.
Steve licks his lips, messily, not caring about manners, because he doesn't want to waste a single drop.
"Tony?" he says, and he feels stupid for asking because for God's sake of course he's had orange juice before but maybe Tony will tell him where he can get more of whatever this is. "What-- what is this? I've never had orange juice that tasted as good as this."
Tony just smiles. "Fresh-squeezed, darling. Only the best for you."
Apparently there's a whole world out there that Steve didn't know about.
Tony's agenda for breakfast is not to fill Steve all the way up, he says, but to feed him enough that he's comfortable. He tells Steve not to focus on pure calories. He tells him to slow down. To enjoy himself. He tells him there can be more food later, as much as he needs.
Steve picks his way through flaky, buttery pastries and lets them melt on his tongue.
When he's done, he pushes his plate away. That's when Tony gets up, walks around the table, stands behind him, and puts his hands on Steve's shoulders.
Steve tips his head back. "What are you doing?"
"I was thinking," Tony says, "that you looked like you could use a shoulder massage."
Steve frowns up at him. "Why? I'm not in pain."
Steve understands massages. SHIELD prescribes them, these days, if you get injured; the serum heals Steve fast enough that physiotherapy isn't likely to be something he'll need. He's familiar with stretching before runs, with working the knots out of his back himself after battle if he gets impatient waiting for the serum to take care of it. He considers that an indulgence, really. It's awkward to reach. He doesn't usually bother.
Tony's smile is, oddly, downcast. "I think that's the saddest thing I've ever heard in my life, darling," he says. "Let me?"
"Sure," he says. "If you want." It'll make Tony happy. Whatever. It's fine.
Tony rubs his thumbs into Steve's shoulders and then Steve isn't sure what happens but his entire brain short-circuits with pleasure. He didn't even realize how much he needed Tony to touch him but suddenly he needs Tony to touch him everywhere, all at once. Tony presses his hands into the muscles of Steve's shoulders, pushing in a mirror image down the sides of his spine, back up again, over to his shoulder blades, and it is exactly how Steve needs to be touched. How has he never known this?
Steve is dimly aware that his mouth is hanging open and he's groaning, he's making noises that aren't even words and are definitely extremely embarrassing but he absolutely does not care as long as Tony keeps touching him.
Tony's fingers dig into that exact spot under his shoulder blade, the one he can never reach himself, and Steve hears himself moan, because, yes, oh, yes, that's exactly it, right there--
Then Tony's hands slow, just resting gently on his back, and Steve wants him to never, ever stop. He tries not to whimper. He thinks he might be pouting. At least Tony can't see his face from where he's standing.
"Good lord," Tony says. "You don't even make noises like that when I blow you."
He sounds impressed rather than judgmental, somehow, but Steve's face is on fire anyway.
"I'm sorry," he mutters.
"Don't be, darling. I'm going to do that every day. I hadn't realized that no one ever touches you. It's criminal."
"People-- people touch me," Steve says. He has the suspicion that this may not be true.
"Not enough, they don't."
He thinks about what it would be like if Tony touched him like this every day, and a fervent longing wells up in him. He wants this. He wants all of this.
"I--" Steve says, and he can't say it. He can't get any of it out. "I-- I--"
Tony crouches next to him. He puts one arm on the table to balance himself and then tilts Steve's face toward him with a gentle touch. "I'm giving you this, sweetheart. Let me give you this."
It's okay to like these things. Tony likes these things. He can be like Tony. Tony isn't any less of a man because he likes to feel nice, Steve tells himself. Tony is just as good on the Ultimates as he is. It won't hurt him.
"Yes," Steve says. "Please."