Tony Stark was destined to be alone forever.
Depressing right? But Tony’s known this fact since he was 17 years old. His most guarded secret that anyone with a library card could figure out. No matter how many dates he went on, how many people he slept with, or how long they stayed, in the end Tony knew it was always temporary. To really understand, he’d have to go back to the beginning…
…Back to when he presented, and the universe gave him a huge fuck you.
Tony had been a smart child from a very young age. As soon as he was old enough to realize what his father meant when he said his mother was a Sub and he was a Dom, he began to want to know why this was. Like playing with the mechanics in his father’s workshop, Tony had a deep desire to understand the mechanics of people’s orientations as much as he did the mechanics of a car engine.
By the age of 11, he had devoured a wealth of knowledge, thought he had a good enough foundation of what he’d be in store for when he turned 16. That was the age when everyone’s orientation always made itself known. You’d begin to feel the effects almost immediately on the day of your birth, but would be tested the day after to verify and document what you presented as.
Subs almost always fell into one of 3 categories, they were usually a Perpetual Sub, Nesting Sub, or Gratified Sub. Perpetual Subs were your level 1-3 partners, craving full control from who they were with. They loved being a slave to their partners or having a relationship of full time power exchange. Level 4-6 Nesting Subs were the usually your homemaker types, craving rules and schedules. Like his mother who was a 5, they are balanced by always knowing what’s happening around them and keeping things in order.
The first two Sub types were the most common and almost 75% of the Sub population fell into those categories. The smaller group of level 7-9 Gratified Subs were the ‘Diva’s’ of the Sub world. They craved attention and recognition. Most Dom’s labeled this group as ‘Bratty’ Subs due to their constant need for approval and their startling tempers when they didn’t get their way. The higher your level, the harder it was for Dom’s to exert control or put you into Subspace. Most Subs at this level liked being independent, only subservient or respectful to their Dom and maybe a handful of others that gained their admiration.
Dom’s were categorized along the same lines as a Codependent Dom, Service Dom, or Authoritative Dom. Codependent Dom’s lived off their Sub’s approval, adjusting themselves to whatever their partner needed. Because of this where often called the chameleon’s of the Dom world, able to service pretty much all the Sub types. Service Dom’s needed to have someone to take care of; giving them the love and stable environment they need to feel safe and cherished. Authoritative Dom’s loved being in control and exerting that control on their partners as well as others. These were the Dom’s that could make a Sub fall to their knees with just a look.
Other than that, there were 2 Orientations that were so rare they were actually called Rare Dom and Rare Sub. These were your level 10’s and were so unique only 0.5% of the world fell into that category. The odds of actually meeting one in person were 1:900,000 chances. When the books he read didn’t give much detail about them, Tony waved it off thinking it didn’t matter.
That was before his 16th birthday… Before he presented as a level 10 Rare Sub.
To say that Tony was avoiding Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, would be a gross exaggeration in his book. He wasn’t avoiding the other man per se, he was just…
… Oh who the hell was Tony kidding, he was hiding from Steve Rogers as if the man was Jason and Tony was slutty cheerleader number 3.
The first time he had come eye to eye with Cap, Tony had felt the urge to do something he’d never done in his life for any Dom, lower his eyes. It was a sign of respect from most Subs to any Dom in their presence, but Tony being Tony hated doing what was expected and hated bowing to societal standards even more. So when the urge hit him in the chest so hard it took his breath away, Tony’s fingers dug into his palms to fight the impulse. After jumping that hurdle, he did what he did best, taking his anger at being a slave to genetics out on the person causing it.
Suffice to say, that fight on the Hellicarrier with Steve had less to do with the man himself and more to do with Tony needing to gain control the only way he knew how, by being an asshole. After the battle when they all their separate ways, he was a little grateful. Fighting beside Steve had been too much of a bonding moment and Tony knew if he got to know him he could actually probably like the guy. Then came Tony nearly dying at the hands of AIM and Thor’s arrival to the newly built Avenger’s Tower, asking for the team to assemble and help him find Loki’s staff.
The team never actually had planned to move in to the Tower, it just sort of happened. At first they’d just crash after coming home staff-less, needing to go back to the drawing board and regroup. Then they were staying over whenever they were nearby or crashing a few days since they knew at least one other Avenger would be there for company. Before they knew it, all their clothes and belongings were in the Tower. When Tony mentioned it to them, most just shrugged it off, Clint’s being the funniest as he gave a stunned look saying, “Fuck… Didn’t even realize… The hell am I payin’ rent for? Tash remind me to get rid of my apartment. I haven’t even been there in like, months.”
So, almost overnight, Tony had gained a houseful of superhero roommates. He didn’t mind at all, the team had grown on him, had become his family in most ways. It would have been perfect if not for one thing…
…Steve fucking Rogers.
Tony’s world being flipped upside down didn’t happen immediately. The year and a half the team spent drifting in and out of Tony’s space had been a lot of fun. He’d learned a lot about everyone in that time period, all of them growing closer.
NaTasha was the Dom older sister Tony never knew he wanted. Being a level 7 Dom, she had traits of both Service and Authoritative Dom levels. She liked to massage Tony’s neck when he was tired on movie nights, lulling him to sleep, but also wouldn’t hesitate to lightly slap the man’s arm in annoyance when he was being difficult.
Clint was the bratty Sub brother he never wanted, but was stuck with so had to love him anyway. He was a level 9 Sub, a highly uncommon type, who was constantly saying ‘Look at me, I’m awesome’ with all his pranks and annoyingly funny shenanigan’s. Tony’s slaps to the back of the head from Nat and Bruce were usually because the archer had roped Tony into trying one stupid thing or another.
Bruce was a switch, having overlapping traits between his level 6 Sub and level 5 Dom orientations. This made him the perfect friend for Tony. He could sympathize with some of the trials Tony faced as a Sub running a company, as well as give him guidance as a Dom when he felt unbalanced. With Rhodey gone off with the military most of the time, when he and Pepper broke up, Bruce had been there to give him the support he needed without trying to assert influence over him like other Dom’s would.
Thor didn’t have orientation and was like a hilarious old uncle to Tony. He loved to see the other man coming, knew without a doubt what Thor would say was sure to be hysterical. Thor would always come to him with questions about ‘Midguardian’ things that confused him. Obviously, when he first tried to ask Steve these questions he’d get a mirroring look of consternation. His day to day inquiries would range from “Who is this Maury Povich Midguardian’s speak of and why is he telling men if they are fathers? Does he have magic of some kind to know these things?” to “I wish to use my StarkPhone and call my fair Jane but cannot seem guess the correct code to unlock it,” or Tony’s personal favorite so far, “Darcy spoke of some felching attraction and how Jane should take part, what is this amusement and how can I assist Jane in doing so?”. Thor ended up having to ask Natasha the last one because Tony couldn’t stop laughing long enough to answer him.
The team all filled Tony’s life in different ways, making the house he always had into a home finally. Those four never failed to bring Tony out of his slumps or his lab for that matter, except when he had noise in his head and the world became too much, then…
… Then of course, they sent in Steve.
Since the beginning, Tony had successfully made sure all of his and Steve’s interactions were limited and only with others there as well. This was easy enough being that they were all pretty busy, Steve and Tony more than the others, and usually only congregated to do things like movie night. It wasn’t until Tony went through his first noisy period with the team there his record was unfortunately broken. While they usually came at least once a month, fueling a week of creative binges, Tony didn’t realize how much his constant contact with dominants would affected him. It was nearly 3 months after the team moved in officially that Tony even noticed he hadn’t had a noisy spell in months, and it would be another 6 before they started again.
He got lucky the first couple of times. Only Thor had been in the Tower that first instance and Tony had been able to shew him away quickly saying he was working on something important. The second time, Tony had been at a conference in Berlin. He’d told the team he was staying a few more days to wrap things up, staying away from them until he was back to normal.
The third time however, all of the team had been in residence as Tony began to feel the shaking start in his hands. Locking down the lab, he had been there for 2 days. Jarvis was continually telling him about Natasha and Clint asking if he was okay and Bruce had been constantly tapping at his door. On the third day, when Tony ignored Thor banging loudly on his lab door saying, “Stark, I need assistance with sending electronic mail to Jane. Is this some message sent with electricity, can I just use my powers?”, that the four of them had enough of Tony’s disappearing act and called in reinforcements.
Hearing his name, Tony looked up from his work for the first time in days. Blinking his eyes to clear the blurring of his vision from moving so quickly, he took in Steve staring worriedly back at him. It was then his brain began to clear and let him know it wasn’t the first time his name was called. Tony had been too clouded to acknowledged and comprehend the numerous others prior to the last.
“Cap, what are you doing here? Actually, how are you here… The lab’s still in lockdown… Did I lift the lockdown? I don’t remember lifting the lockdown…” Mind drifting as he scratched his head in confusion, noise still fogging his brain making intelligent deductions hard, he looked up asking, “Jarvis did I lift the lockdown?”
Steve looked even more worried and opened his mouth to answer, but Tony’s A.I. beat him to the punch. “No sir, lockdown protocols are still in place. Captain Rogers has used Miss Potts override code to obtain entrance.”
“Ah ok, that makes more sense,” Tony said nodding his head before he stopped and began blinking his eyes up at Steve, “Wait no… Actually it really doesn’t, how did you get ahold of Pepper… Why did you get ahold of Pepper? Oh God, the world’s ending isn’t it? Zombies are everywhere outside and trying to get in to eat us aren’t they?”
“What!? Tony… No, the team was worried, we haven’t seen you in days and…” Steve shook his head while he spoke, looking at Tony in mild shock, “Do I even want to know why the first emergency your brain went to is a zombie apocalypse happening?”
Tony snorted as he rolled his eyes. “Because I know what’s really going on at Area 51. Hacked them in the 7th grade after watching Roswell, can bet your ass it’s not fucking aliens there, that’s for sure.” Turning back to his work, Tony started to dismiss Steve. “As you can see I’m fine so shew, I’m on to something.”
“I don’t think fine is the word I’d use to describe you right now. Manic yes, borderline crazy maybe, but definitely not fine. When’s the last time you even ate anything? When’s the last time you slept?”
Tony’s hand began to play with the screw drivers he had near, trying to keep himself grounded enough to talk to Steve. He didn’t even get a chance to answer when Jarvis began spouting his secrets through the lab. “It’s been 3 days, 7 hours, and 36 minutes since Mr. Stark has eaten anything substantial or slept. He did however have a protein shake 26 hours ago.”
Tony heard Steve behind him saying, “Jesus Christ Tony,” as he dropped his head down to his desk groaning loudly. “You are the biggest snitch in the world J, why have I not decommissioned you yet? Your treachery knows no bounds Brutus…”
If Tony’s A.I. could smirk, he knew it would be wearing one now. “I believe you keep me around for sentimental reasons sir… There doesn’t seem to be anyone or anything else qualified to handle your particular brand of theatrics.”
Tony scoffed through a laugh before his expression changed to one of surprise when Steve turned Tony’s chair around to face him. He’d obviously not thought of what to do after that since he just stared at Tony for a moment, as if trying to work out a puzzle. Once he seemed to finally come to a plan in his head, Tony watched as Steve straightened to his full height. His gaze was still worried but now exuding that confidence Tony knew so well from the battlefield. Tony had to clench his fist, digging his fingernails into the skin of his palm to distract himself; the urge of wanting to melt at the other man’s feet was nearly overwhelming.
“It’s not safe for you to work down here like this. We’re going to go upstairs, I’m going to fix you something to eat, and then you’re going straight to bed. Whatever you’re working on can wait and isn’t worth you accidently killing yourself to finish.” Steve reached out his hand for Tony to take, looking as if he wouldn’t budge on any of those things.
Tony eyebrows rose as he gave Steve a mocking glare attached to a condescending smile. “I’d only obey someone’s orders for two reasons Cap and this doesn’t apply to either. This isn’t the battlefield and you’re definitely not my Dom so fuck off, you can’t tell me what to do. If you’ll kindly see yourself to the door,” Tony said stretching out his hand towards it, “I was in the middle of something.”
Steve surprised him when he didn’t get angry, keeping the same stoic expression on his face. Most other Dom’s would have been blotchy and red faced, seething angrily at him for the disrespect. But not Steve, he was completely calm, if anything his eyes sparkled with laughter he didn’t emit. “You’re right Tony, we’re not on the battlefield, and I’m not your Dom. If I was, you wouldn’t have missed one meal before I turned over my knee. None of that changes the fact that you are going to follow me upstairs to do everything I just said.”
Steve’s expression then changed to something searching as he crossed his arms. It was as if regarded Tony’s barked out laughter laced with overconfidence as a problem he couldn’t wait to solve. Tony settled back in his chair raising his elbows to rest on the worktable behind him, conveying a false look of comfort at Steve’s perusal. “You’re not dominant enough to order me around, no one is Cap. I do what I want when I want, and there isn’t fuck all anyone, especially you, can do about that.”
Head cocking to the side for a second as he took Tony in, Steve looked as if he’d finally unraveled the last piece of a mystery. He leaned down into Tony’s space, hands bracing his weight on the table behind Tony. Though light in wrapping around his upper arms, they were firmly holding them in place. He really hoped the Dom didn’t feel the small shiver of arousal that raced through him at the action.
Steve’s eyes bore straight into Tony’s, blazing in confidence and complete self-assurance. “I’m a level 10 Dom Tony, there’s not a Sub on this planet I’m not dominant enough for. What you fail to understand, is even though I’ve left you in peace, that doesn’t mean I can’t put you on your knees for me anytime I please. I’ve seen the parade of one night stands you go through, I’ve watched the Dom’s that hit on you when we’re all out, and I’ve read your file Tony. You’ve never dated or slept with anyone other than a switch or another sub besides Rhodey, and that was years ago. You cut every Dom that comes across your path to pieces before you send them back to where they came from, angry and ashamed with their tail between their legs.”
He drew forward even more, bringing his face so close to Tony’s; he could now feel the breath of each word that Steve spoke. “I’m... Not… Them… We actually learned about level 10 Sub’s in my day, about their wants and desires, about what it takes for them to submit. But know this,” Steve paused in his speech as his eyes bore into Tony’s. “Even if I hadn’t, I was born with the knowledge drilled into every fiber of who I am. I know all the ways you want to give in, all the ways to get you there, and more importantly, all the reasons why you fight so hard against it. So go ahead, continue sitting here being the bratty asshole Sub you always pretend to be, I’ll enjoy proving every word I’ve said to you is true. Or, you can do as I’ve asked. Either way staying here is not an option, I’m not leaving without you.”
When Steve finished he stepped back, giving Tony room to breathe again though each puff now shook slightly. There was no doubt in Tony’s mind that Steve would follow through on every word he’d just said. The façade he’d been holding on to for too long already began to crumble to pieces, Steve’s words and the noise in his head making it too hard to keep up anymore. His leg began to bounce in anxiety as his fingers drummed against the work table for the same reason. “I… I can’t… I mean, I can eat but… I won’t be able to sleep. Not right now, it’s… It’s too hard.”
Steve’s expression didn’t give an inch, but his words did soften as he replied, “Tell me why Tony.”
He couldn’t stop the way he fired back angrily as he usually would, “I don’t have to tell you…” But he silenced himself quickly when Steve raised his eyebrows in challenge. He tamped down his typical emotions, stumbling around answer he didn’t want to admit to. “I… My mind is… I can’t stop thinking long enough to sleep.”
Steve nodded his head, “White noise.” When Tony gave him a confused stare he continued on explaining, “You have white noise syndrome. Your mind gets to the point it won’t stop going, even when you want it to. Usually happens when you haven’t been dropped in a while. When was the last time you were and how long has this been going on?”
Tony gave an anxious chuckle as he responded back sarcastically. “The last time I was ‘dropped’, was never, and this has been happening since I was 19… Give or take a few months of dry spells every now and then.”
Only Steve’s eyes showed the surprise he felt at Tony’s words, it was there for just a second before Tony saw it disappear. “Alright, I’ll handle it.” Holding his hand out to Tony again, he gave him a challenging stare. “You gonna trust me to take care of you Tony?”
Tony was momentarily annoyed with himself for wanting to shout out his agreement before he just shook his head. He was too tired to even try to argue anymore and knew how to pick his battles. Standing slowly, he took the hand Steve offered to him. “Fine, whatever. I could use the nap anyway.”
After that day, things changed and evolved around Tony so fast he felt as if he was hit with it by a train. Steve had taken Tony upstairs to his floor, correctly assuming the only thing in Tony’s pantry was dust. He hadn’t wanted to take him to the communal floor since he didn’t want the team interrupting them and knew Tony wouldn’t want them to see him like this.
After asking a few questions, Steve deemed him skilled enough to handle cutting up the vegetables. He placed one in front of Tony, explaining exactly how he wanted them sliced before leaving him to his work. Steve moved around him, gathering and putting together ingredients as he mixed them into the pot on his stove.
Once Tony finished with the first, Steve handed him another to work with giving the same exact instructions as before. This continued until Tony had finished with everything he needed and was told to set the table. Steve outlined exactly how he wanted each of the plates, cups, napkins, and cutlery to be situated. Tony wanted to laugh at how much a control freak Steve was, wondering how he’d never seen it before.
Even as they ate, Steve made him cut his food into pieces, specifying the exact size he wanted each item to be. Tony couldn’t manage to not roll his eyes when Steve started to feed him those pieces while asking him to explain how Jarvis worked. Before he knew it, he’d told Steve that and about building his other bots as they finished up their meal.
When he was led to lie down on Steve’s couch, feet in Steve’s lap as he gently massaged them, Tony continued on. He didn’t even know where he was in his story when his eyes closed; sleep finally overtaking him before he awoke in his own bed 16 hours later.
After waking, he made his way down to the communal kitchen. The team looked to be finishing up breakfast, laughing and talking above empty plates. He settled a heavy glare Steve’s way saying, “What the hell did you do to me Rogers.”
Steve glanced up from where he stood in the kitchen talking to NaTasha over a cup of coffee. Putting his cup down he began to open one of the cabinets while smiling at Tony. “Good morning to you to… I’d ask you how you slept, but seeing as you’ve been out of it since 6 O’clock yesterday I’ll assume it was ok.”
Turning to Clint he leveled him with the same angry gaze. “You… You helped him didn’t you? You gave him sleeping pills or, or something, and helped him knock me out.” Tony gasped loudly as he gave Clint a look of disbelief. “Was this so you could beat my score in Mario Kart you Hawk-assed cheater?”
Clint gave him an incredulous expression saying, “I would never…” before he couldn’t hold back his laughter, “Ok yeah, I totally would, thanks for the idea.” When Tony took a menacing step forward the archer threw up his hands in innocence. “But I didn’t, I swear… I am just an innocent bystander to whatever Steve did… You should totally be mad at him, not me, I’ll be mad to… Steve, we’re mad at you, not sure why but we are very angry.”
Tony’s looked at him doubtfully as he turned his anger back to who it landed on initially. He was gearing up to toss more accusations through the room when Steve interrupted him before he could say a word. “Quiet Tony, we both know I didn’t do any of what you’re saying and you’re angry for other reasons.” Lifting his eyes from where he was pouring more coffee into a mug, Steve leveled Tony with a look that promised consequences he didn’t want should his directions not be followed. “Now sit down while I bring you some breakfast.”
He thought of balking at the command, then of why he really shouldn’t, face turning pink as he sat down angrily. He didn’t want to repeat in front of the team what happened when he disobeyed Steve’s wishes in his lab; Clint would never let him live it down. He kicked Clint’s chair in childish aggravation, making Nat giggle as she sat down rolling her eyes at Clint whispering, “The fuck man… Innocent bystander… Thought we agreed you’d be mad at Steve.”
“He’s over there, you’re right here, and I’m pissed off now.” Tony whispered back as Steve sat a plate of food in front of him. Placing a cup of coffee down as well, he sat beside Tony pulling his chair close.
Conversation had already sparked back up from Tony’s initial intrusion as Steve leaned in, voice low as he said, “Stop it, settle down, and eat your food.”
Tony couldn’t help it, he really couldn’t, the words just wouldn’t be contained. “Or what Captain?”
Steve settled back in his chair, smiling arrogantly. “Or I guess I’ll get to prove some things after all.”
Safe to say, Tony found it in his best interest to hold himself in check until he finished.