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Pyrrhic Victories

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"You should eat."

Without looking up from his magnification scope, Tony waved a hand in the air towards Steve's voice, which was coming from somewhere near the stairwell. When Steve didn't reply, he tried rolling his wrist in circles to indicate that he'd both heard and didn't care. After another long moment of hesitation, Tony was rewarded with the sound of footsteps. Unfortunately, they were the wrong way, coming instead of going. Just in case Steve got any ideas, he sprawled to take up as much space as he could on his bench. The table he was working at wouldn't be appropriated easily; it was covered in bits and pieces of metal and circuits that had broken off of their enemy from all of a half hour ago.

They still hadn't figured out what to call them, but Tony was gunning for Garage Sale Geeks. How they'd gotten such primitive tech to slice through his armor was going to bother him for weeks if he couldn’t figure it out. Some of their equipment was from the nineties.

Just the thought made him shudder in delicious horror.

"I said," Steve repeated slowly from directly over his shoulder, "you should eat."

"Yeah, I'll get to that." A third round of magnification showed minute stress fractures in the metal plating. That would be more interesting once he got back the results on the alloy's composition. He was pretty sure it wasn't ferrous, but pretty sure and four-fifty would get him a coffee at Starbucks.

"Tony." Steve's voice stressed the first syllable in a way that had strong overtones, undertones and midtones of frazzled parent. "Your hands are shaking. Eat."

That made Tony look away from his work. He glanced down at his hands, just to verify that Steve was pulling his chain. But no, there was a fine tremble in his fingertips, the first sign of adrenalin crash. "Only a little shaky."

"Shaky enough." Steve's hand dropped down over Tony's shoulder, holding a plate loaded with pizza under his nose. Carbs and protein, just what the doctor ordered after going toe to toe will evil doers and the users of outdated tech, which were one and the same in Tony's view.

"I'm really not hungry," Tony insisted, pushing the plate out of the way. It bounced back immediately. "Do you have a spring in that arm?" Curiously, Tony pushed it again, only to have the same result. It smelled delicious, all hot gooey cheese and the sharp spice of meat. His stomach snarled, but at this point it was all about the principle of the thing.

"I've seen what happens when you don't eat after a fight." Steve maneuvered around the end of the bench, keeping the plate under Tony's nose the whole time. "You get cranky. And erratic."

"I do not get cranky," Tony snapped, glaring. "Or erratic."

Blond eyebrows rose pointedly. Sometime during the fight Steve had been thrown and gotten some road rash on his cheek. It was strange, seeing it cut off in a neat line right where his cowl had protected him. He'd scrubbed it, and the healing factor Steve would never admit to having had reduced it to a yellowing line of bruises and a few scabs. In a few hours it would be gone completely.

Tony was hit with the inexplicable urge to lick it.

"... Okay, I'll give you erratic. But if I'm cranky, it's only because you interrupted me." Grudgingly, Tony cleared a spot on the table and took the plate. Someone had loaded it down with three huge slices of New York's best. The toppings were piled so high that the cheese was just a pale glimmer underneath a thick layer of meat. "I'm busy. I get cranky when I'm busy and people interrupt me. Like you're doing right now."

Wood creaked as Steve straddled the bench next to Tony. He wasn't Hulk-sized, but two hundred and forty pounds of muscle had a tendency to make itself known. "You didn't mind being interrupted last night," Steve practically purred.

His eyes were really, really blue, and intent.

Heat crawled up Tony's cheeks. He coughed and poked his pizza. Some heathen had put a fork on the plate. "Yeah, well—you were kind of insistent."

"I can be insistent again, if you want." Steve's tone, low and rough, didn't need much translation.

"Why, Captain, are you seducing me?" Tony peered up at Steve through his eyelashes, a move he'd taught himself after the third woman used it successfully on him. It seemed to work on Steve just as well as it had on him. Steve's cheeks were pink, which showed much better on his complexion than Tony's. "I've heard about you Army types."

"Have you?" Red sauce smeared on Steve's fingers as he picked up one of the pieces and tore off a chunk. "What have you heard?"

Tony watched the pizza, and Steve's fingers. "Oh, you know. Military types have a reputation for loving and then shipping out the next day. I'd hate to be a notch on your belt."

"My belt, huh? I don't seem to be wearing one." Steve glanced down, and damn it if Tony didn't find his eyes dragged down too. Not only was Steve not wearing a belt, he was barely wearing his jeans. Tight denim ought to be a crime, Tony decided.

When he managed to yank his eyes back up, it was just in time to watch Steve finish off the bite of pizza. Tony's mouth went dry when he licked the sauce from his fingers. "Hey," he protested, slipping along the bench until he was practically in Steve's lap. Their legs locked together under them, so Steve would have to actually work to get free. "That's mine."

Steve finished cleaning up, and if he didn't know what swallowing did to his throat muscles, Tony would donate his next year of income to charity. "I thought you didn't want it."

"Maybe I do." Using Steve's legs as the rock-solid leverage they were, Tony pulled himself closer with his calves and opened his mouth expectantly.

More sauce coated is fingers as Steve broke off another piece of pizza and popped it between Tony's lips. "This means I win, you know," he murmured, voice dropping low when Tony scraped his teeth over Steve's fingertips.

Tony suckled a bit of sauce free from Steve's fingers and smiled. "Want to win again?"