He's heavier, much heavier, but his feet instinctively find the quiet places on the stairs, and he drifts through the darkened Mansion toward the light of the kitchen. Wanda Maximoff is sitting at the kitchen table, laying out a vast and elaborate jigsaw puzzle. He hovers in the shadow beyond the door for a long moment, before some sense alerts her, and she looks up.
He takes a swift step forward, so she doesn't think he's spying on her.
"Good evening, Steve," Wanda says, her voice soft. He likes her; she's got a gentle manner, and doesn't seem quite so violently alien as the other women he's seen. In a deep red robe, with her hair loosely piled, she could almost be a woman of his time.
"Good evening," he says, and seeks for a polite nothing. "Couldn't sleep?"
She looks down at the scattered pieces.
"Bad dreams," she murmurs. "When I dream of things coming apart, it helps me to... put things together again." She looks up at him, offers a little smile. "Sometimes when you have bad dreams, you come and sit with me, and we do puzzles together."
"I have bad dreams?" he says, and and her smile dims. That was probably an invitation, he realises, to sit and keep her company. He looks at the chair across from her, but doesn't move to take it.
"You fought four years in the heart of one of mankind's greatest conflicts," she says. "You sometimes have bad dreams. But you didn't dream tonight?"
"No, I couldn't sleep." He hesitates, but her eyes are kind and he's been assured that everyone here is his friend. "Do you know... is Tony likely to be awake?"
She looks up at the clock on the wall. Past two in the morning, but Steve was feeling impatient.
"He'll be in his workshop," she says. "He didn't have dinner; it would often be your habit to take him a sandwich."
"Right," he says, and moves to the refrigerator. He seems to be a considerate man, then, along with all the other qualities. A war hero, a costumed superhero, a national icon. A leader of men, Thor had told him. A good friend, Hank had said. They'd all looked at him with worry and kindness, and he'd felt a fool, sitting there in a body some eighty pounds too heavy and several inches taller, trying to remember anything past the day he'd stepped into the laboratory at Dr Erskine's side.
He decides on cheese and ham; everyone likes that. The cheese is delicious, sharp and crumbling. Everything he's seen in the future has been luxurious, ridiculously fine. He's not sure if it's like that everywhere in the future, or if it's just that everything Tony Stark owns is the best.
His hand hovers over the sodas, and he looks back at Wanda.
"You usually take milk," she says, and he fetches two glasses, and arranges it all on a tray. Then he looks down at it for a while, listens to the soft patter of puzzle pieces as she sorts them into groups.
"Are Tony and I close?" he says finally, and she makes a soft humming noise.
"He's your closest friend, apart perhaps from Sam. Sam's the Falcon."
"A Negro?" he says. He'd been a little startled by the picture on his dresser, him in his bright costume, standing next to a coloured man with wings. They'd been laughing, the other man's hand resting familiarly on his shoulder. As the silence stretches on, he looks over his shoulder at Wanda. She's frowning at her puzzle, and for a second he thinks she didn't hear him. Then she looks up, and smiles again, although the crease in her brow suggests she's worried about something.
"Yes, that's - Sam. We've called him, but he's hard to get hold of sometimes. You're the only one who can reliably contact him, and..." she shrugs.
"Right," he says. Another friend he can't remember. He wants to ask about Tony again, but looking into Wanda's guileless dark eyes, he can't think of a way. He picks up the tray, and turns towards the door.
He can balance the tray on one hand, easily, and the darkness on the stairs doesn't trouble him much. He'd had his doubts about Project Rebirth, but he'd hidden them, and apparently they'd been completely unfounded; the body moves with its own assurance. Muscle memory, Hank had told him, and he'd laughed in sheer relief when Steve had juggled for him, adept as long as he didn't think about it too hard. Steve had watched his hands pass and shower the balls, as if some other force was controlling them, and when he'd tried to work out how he was doing it, he'd fumbled and scattered them, and Hank had laughed again. Steve'd learned to juggle during the time he's lost, and the fact he still can means that his memories haven't been destroyed, just buried. Steve's going to be fine.
The workshop door is open, but the orange light that spills out doesn't illuminate much. He can hear a faint roaring sound.
It's a welding torch; Tony Stark is doing something to his armour, something he stops doing as soon as Steve crosses the threshold. He snaps off the torch, and for a second it's very dark.
"Lights," he says, and panels in the ceiling light up, a white light that casts sharp shadows. He stares at Steve, at the tray he's carrying, and there's a sudden hope in his eyes that discomfits Steve.
"Wanda said - " he began, and Tony nods curtly.
"Of course. Put it - " he looks around, vaguely, and Steve finds space on a table to place the tray. He perches awkwardly on a stool, and Tony comes and stands beside him, stripping off his heavy gloves. He grabs up a sandwich and takes a huge bite, makes a muffled noise which might be a thank you, and Steve nods.
Tony Stark's apparently a millionaire, a multi-millionaire. He doesn't look the part, stripped down to a grubby white vest stained with grease. He's gleaming with sweat, and he's muscled in a way Steve would have been privately envious of, once. Before he opened his eyes and found himself here, in a body he didn't recognise.
At least his face hasn't changed much. He thinks he would have panicked if he'd looked in the mirror and seen a stranger.
He drinks his milk, and Tony wolfs down the sandwich, seeming not to notice the greasy prints he left on the bread. Then he stares down into his glass, scowling. He doesn't look at Steve, but it seems a reasonable guess what he's thinking. Steve had retired to his neat, huge bedroom at ten o'clock, assuring everyone that he was fine and just wanted to sleep.
Steve reaches into his back pocket, and slides out the photograph. He lays it down on the tray, and watches Tony's supicious hesitation before he picks it up. A quick smile, and then he gives Steve a puzzled look.
"You have lots of pictures of the Avengers," he says. "All of us."
The picture shows Tony, sitting on a stool in front of a blurred red mass that's probably his armour, dressed very much as he is now. The Tony in the picture, however, is smiling as if it's Christmas, looking fondly at whoever's wielding the camera. Steve almost hadn't associated the picture with the tense, worried man in the armour.
"It's not the picture," he says, and Tony flips it, examines it. "I found it in my box."
"Your box," says Tony.
"With my... treasures." There had been a whole drawer full of souvenirs and photographs, but this one had been in a box on the floor of his closet. A signed baseball, a picture of his mother, a few ageing documents. Scraps of a life from Steve's time, and right at the bottom, this photograph.
There's a faint pink showing on Tony's cheek, but he shrugs nonchalantly and puts down the photograph.
"And?" he says.
"How close are we?" says Steve, and the pink deepens.
"We're close," Tony says, and Steve raises his eyebrows.
"How close?" he asks again, and when Tony doesn't say anything, Steve forces the words out. "Are we... together? Seeing each other?" There's another, longer pause, and that's answer enough, really. He'd seen them quietly shuffling away newspapers and turning off radios, and he'd taken the first opportunity to grab a paper and page through it. He'd resolutely ignored the date, and concentrated on the articles, which sank easily into his mind with alarming speed - another side effect of the Project, no doubt - and among the parade of terrifying facts, the pleasing news that men with men is legal, now. When he'd found the photograph of Tony with his most treasured possessions, and looked at the sweet smile, the bright eyes, it had been only a small step to conclusions.
"Sometimes," Tony says, finally, and that is a surprise. Sleeping with a man, he can imagine, has imagined. Sleeping with someone sometimes doesn't seem like him. But then, he's heard war changes people. No telling what it did to him. Tony's looking at him, frowning. "Does that upset you?" he says, and his posture's very tense, as if he's afraid Steve will lash out. No one's ever really been afraid of Steve, he's so clearly harmless, but now - he looks down at his hands, sees the whiteness around his knuckles, the veins standing out beneath the skin. He unlocks his fists, and rests his fingertips on the edge of the table, gives Tony a small smile and watches the tension drain out of him.
"Uh, not really," he says. "Why only sometimes, though? Are we not..." he looks down at the photograph. It had been the only new thing in the box; everything else had been aged and worn.
"You're Captain America," says Tony. "You have a reputation to uphold. And I'm an arms dealer."
"An ex-arms dealer," says Steve, and Tony laughs. "What? Hank said - "
"No, just - that's what you always say." His smile's not the easy warmth of the one in the picture, but it's a great smile, an infectious smile, it invites Steve to share the joke, and he smiles back even while he tries to puzzle this out.
"So we... it's a secret?"
"We're kind of on and off," says Tony, and the shift of balance, the way he looks away, tells Steve he's evading. Steve studies the line of his shoulders, the flow of muscle under his skin. Tony fidgets under his gaze, but he doesn't look away. If this man is his... well, his sweetheart, he's surely allowed to at least look. "What?" says Tony, finally.
"I'd like to draw you," he says, and Tony's eyes turn wicked, a little smile shaping his mouth.
"You haven't gone through all the sketchbooks, then. There's one in there that's mostly very dull pictures of fruit, which were apparently designed to bore snoopers to tears before they found the naked pictures of me."
"If it's art, they're nudes," he says in a prim tone, and Tony's grin widens.
"Then I guess there's some nudes... and some naked pictures," he says, and Steve mentally resolves to go through every last sketchbook, because the glint in Tony's eye says he doesn't mind Steve looking at those pictures, and Steve does really want - he wants to see Tony naked. Steve and Tony have been naked together, have been lovers, have been close enough that Tony poses for dirty drawings and laughs about them.
There's a strip of bare skin visible between Tony's vest and his jeans. He puts his hand on Tony's hip, brushes his thumb over the patch of skin, and Tony twitches.
"Are we... on or off right now?" he ventures, and Tony bites his lip. He's movie-star good looking. Steve's had fantasies about guys who look like him, dark hair and teasing eyes and a mouth - Steve wants to kiss that mouth. He leans his forehead against Tony's chest instead, and breathes in, smelling sweat, grease and metal. Tony's hand comes up, and rests at the back of his neck.
"I guess... we're on," he says, and Steve sits up, and tugs Tony in close between his thighs.
Tony's mouth feels strange; he'd hoped to find something familiar here, but instead it's new and exciting. The scratch of his beard, the knowledge he's kissing a man, is a thrill all on its own, and the feel of thick muscle shifting under his palms, sweat-slick skin - he yanks desperately at Tony's belt, suddenly afraid Tony will think again. There's a couch in the corner of the room, and once he's marked it he can find his way to it without opening his eyes, steering Tony round the obstacles. Tony's pliant, apparently trusting Steve's ability to find the way, or just not caring about any bruises he might acquire. Either way, it's good, to feel him submit to Steve's insistent hands.
"God, Steve," Tony pants against his mouth. "Slow down, we - aaaah," and Steve's never touched another man's cock before, but he can extrapolate from what he likes, and it seems to be enough. Tony bucks into his hand, and grunts, and scrabbles at Steve's pants; it's weirdly easy for Steve to do three things at once, jacking off Tony while undoing his own belt and kicking off his shoes. He pulls Tony down on top of him, and there's a moment's clumsiness as they both remove their shirts. There's a moment's surprise at the sight of the knotted scarring over Tony's breastbone, but he decides to ignore it. He's sure he usually knows the story, and Tony doesn't need to re-tell it. He grabs for Tony's cock again, fastens his mouth onto that enticing sweep of muscle from shoulder to neck, and Tony groans.
"No hurry," he says, grabbing Steve's wrist. "Why are you - " Steve looks up in time to see the thoughts flit over his face. "Oh, you - " Tony pulls away, and looks at him. "You lost your virginity during the war," he says, and Steve grins.
"I did? Good for me," he says, and Tony laughs and shakes his head.
"So you're - I shouldn't - " he looks down at Steve, and his eyes unfocus a little as he runs a hand down Steve's body. "Although it's not like you're really - we have done this before, a lot."
"Sure we have," says Steve encouragingly. "I've just lost my memory, after all."
"Sure," says Tony, and then he slides down to his knees on the floor, and puts his mouth on Steve's cock.
Tony's very good at this, as far as Steve can tell; not that he's got much to compare it to, but it makes his head swim with pleasure. He manages to keep the noise down at first, but he gets loud when Tony's fingers twist inside him, and Tony laughs and urges him on, tells him to let go, give it up, his voice full of affection.
Steve's trying to drag his scattered thoughts back together when Tony tugs his hips forward, then spreads him wide and eases in. It's not painful, not like he expected, but then this a trick his body already knows. He slouches down further on the couch, tilting his hips, and Tony makes a soft approving sound. Watching the expressions pass over Tony's face is almost as good as the slick slide in his body, and Steve's fully hard again before Tony's even all the way in. The smirk on Tony's face is smug but not surprised; Steve's starting to really like this body.
He begs without an ounce of shame, Tony's seen him like this lots of times, and he chokes and whimpers when Tony teases him, the roll of his hips hitting Steve in not quite the right places.
"Please, please," he says, and when he tries to touch himself, Tony grabs his hands and holds them down on the edge of the couch. Steve could break free, of course, but the heat in Tony's eyes convinces him to just lie back and take it, let Tony string him along until he's shaking and gasping and when he comes for the second time, it's the most intense thing he's ever felt.
Tony drapes himself on top of Steve, and though he's heavy it's not at all uncomfortable. Tony strokes his hair and kisses him, and Steve makes happy noises and explores the curve of Tony's spine, the lovely swell of his ass. He's always wanted this, to have someone to hold and touch, who'll laugh at his jokes and only smile when he's foolish.
"I'm a very lucky man," Steve concludes aloud, and kisses Tony's neck.
"Most people would say I'm the lucky one," says Tony, and Steve grins, because somehow in the future he's hooked a smart, funny, gorgeous millionaire and people think Tony's lucky. He says as much, and Tony makes a weird face at him, like he can't decide whether to laugh or frown.
"I'm kind of an asshole sometimes," he says, and settles on smiling as Steve's hands trail up his back and hold his head for a kiss.
"You're my best friend," says Steve. "And everyone says I'm clever and have excellent judgement, right?"
"Your logic is unassailable," and Tony's laughing at him, but he's still stroking Steve's hair, so that's all right.
He dozes on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, while Tony welds and occasionally flips up his visor to grin at Steve, who grins back. At some point he sleeps, and wakes up to kisses. He tries to pull Tony down on to the couch with him, but Tony slips free before he can bring his new strength to bear.
"You should go up to bed," he says, and Steve pouts.
"You'll come too?"
"We don't sleep together in the Mansion," Tony says, and Steve frowns.
"I thought everyone here was our friends?"
"Yes, yes, but - some of the Avengers are incapable of not gossiping."
Steve stands up, letting the blanket fall away. He can feel himself blushing, but Tony's eyes track down his body and he steps closer, within grabbing range. Steve folds him close, resting his chin on Tony's shoulder.
"Please?" he says, and feels the rough texture of the protective gloves on his hips. "I'd really like company." He tries to keep the plea out of his voice, but Tony's grip tightens anyway.
"You go on up," he says. "I have to shower; I'll be along in a bit."
Clean, damp Tony is all kinds of enjoyable. He doesn't say anything about needing sleep when Steve rolls him onto his back, and sliding inside him, feeling the way his body arches and tightens, the repressed moans vibrating through his chest, Steve can't think of anything better. Tony sighs and purrs and curls round him and whispers extravagant praise, and Steve tries to figure out why he'd pass up having this every night of his life. Tony clearly adores him, and Steve wouldn't keep a picture of him tucked away with his mother's picture if Tony wasn't very important to him.
"Do I love you?" he says, and Tony stiffens. "I can't see - I'm already half in love with you. Does the other me have brain damage or something?"
"No," says Tony irritably, and tries to turn away, but Steve's got him locked tight in place. "The other you realises you have to be sensible about things."
"I'm sensible about things?" says Steve dubiously. Thor had told him a couple of stories about his wilder exploits, and they seemed closer to rampant insanity than sense.
"Just... go to sleep," says Tony. "Hank said we might be able to restore your memory as soon as tomorrow, and then it'll all make sense again."
"Will I remember today?" he asks, a little worried, and Tony kisses him lightly.
"No reason why not."
"Good," he says, and tucks Tony closer. They fit together well, and Tony's skin is smooth and warm. He's looking forward to waking up with Tony, and he's hoping, just a little, that Hank won't have figured it out, and he can coax Tony into his bed for a second night.
He's thinking of leaving a note for himself, in the box; are you an idiot and perhaps this is what you always wanted.
He doesn't know much about the other Steve, but he's clearly not as smart as he's made out to be.