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Might Have Cherished You More Wisely

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Tony choked, and his shoulders jerked back, one of them flinching down, away from Steve’s hand and jittery.  He was breathing hard.  Steve stopped, immediately, let go, raised his hand.  “Tony?” he asked in some concern.  “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I was hurting you—”


Tony’s response was immediate.  “No,” he said.  “Don’t stop.  Keep going.”  He was panting; the words sounded gritted out between his teeth.


Steve frowned, looking at Tony.  The fingers of one hand were tight against the cuff on his other wrist, biting in against the leather, his jaw clenched and shoulders knotted up as he kept his head down, panted for air, hair beginning to curl sweatily over his forehead, over the blindfold over his eyes.


“But you don’t like it when I hurt you,” Steve said, helplessly, after a moment of silence that only led to Tony’s breathing speeding up, hitching and tripping quickly in his throat.


“I want it,” Tony said, quick and rough, licking his lips and turning his face up toward Steve even without being able to see him.  “Please.  Do it, Steve.”


“We didn’t talk about this,” Steve said.


“That’s fine,” Tony’s voice was rough, still hoarse.  He smiled a little, mouth quirking wryly on one side under the blindfold.  “We didn’t talk about much of anything.  I’m telling you now.”


Steve felt the sting of guilt at that.  They should have negotiated more.  Obviously, not just leapt into this with both feet because they’d done it before.  If they had, Tony might have mentioned this beforehand, and they could have talked about it, figured it out then.  He sighed, got down on his knees in front of Tony and reached for him with both hands.  He laid both of them on Tony’s shoulders, and Tony let him, shuddering, head dropping back down, but when Steve moved to pull him in against his body, skimming his hands up along his shoulders, Tony froze, flinched back again, and Steve let him go with a horrible wrench in his stomach.


“You’re flinching away from me,” he said.  “Is it bad?”  He tried to be gentle as he took Tony’s shoulder, turning him slightly to get a look at the places his hand had dug in earlier, places that would bruise.


“No,” Tony said shortly.  He shifted on his knees.  “Come on, choke me on your cock again,” he said, leaned in, nuzzled his face against Steve’s shoulder, gently, laying soft wet kisses along his neck.  Steve’s hand came up to stroke through his hair in an automatic response, despite the sick twist of guilt in his stomach at those words.  He hadn’t meant to—was that what Tony had thought he wanted?  He’d been too rough, he thought, sick at himself.  “I want it, Steve, please.  I’ll beg, do you want me to do that?  Is there some other way you’d rather do it?”  He scooted back, turned on his knees, clasped his hands over the back of his neck, presenting his bare back, the arch of his spine.  “Would you rather mark me?” he panted.  “Anything you want.”


Steve stared at him.  He had never seen Tony act like this before, never.  “Come back, sweetheart,” he said, finally.  His throat felt thick, but he did his best to keep his voice steady, hoping that would steady Tony in turn.  “C’mere.”


Tony hesitated.  Goddamnit.


“Tony,” Steve said, keeping his voice calm and even.  “Come back over here.”


Tony turned around again, shifted back, more hesitantly, still on his knees.  Steve took his elbow, gently, and he shuddered, his breathing coming unsteadily, looked away, off to one side.  Steve swallowed the lump that formed in his throat at that.


“What’s up?” he said.


Nothing,” Tony said, explosively, after a moment.  He didn’t look back at Steve.  “Except that you said you would use me and now you’re not—”


“You don’t like it like that,” Steve said, confident of that much. “What’s going on?”


Tony just shook his head.


“Can I touch you?” Steve asked, his hands aching to hold, to try and soothe some of that tension knotting Tony up away.


Tony looked like he wanted to say no, but he blew his breath out and then nodded, dropping his head down again.  He didn’t flinch away this time as Steve curved his hand around his hip, the other gently against the back of his neck, and brought him in against his body, but he tensed up, and his breath wavered, going uneven.  He let Steve curl his fingers gently against his hair, tilt his forehead down against Steve’s own shoulder.  He was afraid to move too quickly, to push Tony too much, but all he wanted to do was make this up to him, make it better, soothe the tension out of him.  Make amends for all this.


“Let me decide what I like,” Tony mumbled after a moment.


“Not once we’ve already started,” Steve said, his throat still tight and thick, but not willing to move on that point.  When Tony had been blowing him, he’d been so gone Steve wasn’t even sure he’d known his own name.  He seemed more aware now, but the simple fact that he’d let Steve get this far hurting him, marking him, and only flinched back when he couldn’t physically help it, didn’t exactly speak to his rational state of mind.  “I’m sorry,” Steve said.  “I shouldn’t have been so rough.”


“I want it,” Tony said again.  His voice hitched.  “I’ll beg you, Steve.  Steve.”  He pressed his lips in against Steve’s shoulder, trailed them down over his skin, mouthed softly at his nipple, clearly aware of the heat that sent shooting through Steve’s body, curling his tongue against it, opening his mouth and sucking.  “Please,” he mumbled against Steve’s skin, “please, please, please.  Hurt me.  Use me.  Use me up.  I want it.  I need it.”  His voice broke.  “I’ll feel so much better.  I—break me.  Lay me out on the floor.  Take me apart.  Hurt me until I can’t stand up.  I want to be yours, Steve.  Just do it.  Don’t worry about me.  I—I—I want you to.  I want you to hurt me.”


Steve had to steel himself not to flinch away, horrified at those words in Tony’s pleading, husky voice, the same tone he’d have used to suggest anything to Steve, like having sex in the shower, or a quick blowjob before Steve left in the morning, maybe a little more trembling, a little rougher, but the same; half because of the thrill they sent through him—him saying it like that, hot and husky and wanting, the images that popped into Steve’s mind, pressing bruises into Tony’s skin, the arch of his back when Steve gripped him, held him tightly, let his fingers dig in, the wet look of his mouth swollen with Steve’s kisses, but it would be even puffier with bites, the idea of Tony gasping in front of him covered in marks Steve laid down across his back—but Tony had never asked before, never, had been skittish of pain, seemed to dread the possibility of Steve wanting to hurt him, like it was a real punishment for him, and this had come out of nowhere.  It felt wrong, and Steve was even more horrified at the heat that it sent through him, sparking in his head, coiling in his belly and groin, because if there ever was a time for it, this wasn’t it, not when he had no idea what was going on, or why Tony had asked, not when Tony was already down and seemed so torn, emotional over it, somehow desperate.   He sounded—he sounded like he thought he deserved it, really deserved it, and there was nothing—nothing right about that.  He wasn’t going to do it if Tony thought like that about it.  Not ever.  But Steve didn’t want Tony to think he was disgusted by him, either, by anything he said when he was like this.  It was the thought of doing it to him now that horrified him, not the fact that Tony had asked; he’d asked Tony for similar things before, he’d have been happy to give it, if he thought Tony really wanted it.  He ducked his head down, pressed a soft kiss into the black, soft tangle of Tony’s hair, just above the blindfold, where it curled out from under it.  Tony choked, dropped his head down further against Steve’s shoulder, trembling.  “You’ve never wanted it before,” Steve said.


“Please,” Tony almost cried out, his voice cracked and breaking.  He was breathing hard.


This isn’t what I wanted, Steve thought, but didn’t let himself say.  Not at all what he’d wanted, or why he’d started this.  He’d wanted Tony to relax, to feel loved, safe, to go soft in his arms and let Steve take care of him.  The very last thing he’d wanted was to hurt him, and he still felt sick over how carried away he’d gotten with him earlier, when he’d had no intention of doing it.  But he was starting to suspect that Tony had no way to get there right now.  Whatever was going on with him . . . Tony had agreed, but this was still, all of it, Steve’s fault.


He sighed.  He felt so badly for this, what he was going to do, knew he had to do, now.  Tony was so lost in it, had gone down so easily, so easily for him this time, but this . . . this was bad.  This was really bad, something was desperately wrong, and he wasn’t going to hurt Tony just to preserve the space he was in. 


“Red,” he said, heavily.  Tony flinched back, slipped a little, and ended up on his rear.  He looked at Steve in obvious surprise, shock even, despite not being able to see though the blindfold.  “It’s over,” Steve said, took a deep breath, swallowed.  “I can’t do that.”


“I’m sorry,” Tony said immediately, as Steve had known he would.  He was shaking, his hands clenching into fists.  “I’m so so sorry—I failed, I fucked up, I screwed up, I’m sorry, I’ll be good for you, Steve, so good.”  He opened his hands again, spreading them out with an effort, turned his face toward Steve again, breaths heaving.  “I—I’ll—”


“It’s not your fault,” Steve said.  “It’s not.”  He took a deep breath, forced his eyes clear, swallowed hard, straightened up to move forward, kneel down beside Tony.  I was the one who did something wrong, he wanted to say.  I screwed it up for you.  Somehow.  I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out.  I shouldn’t have been so rough.  “You’re always so good,” he said, instead.  “The best.”


Tony choked, curled forward, pressed his face into his hands, his jaw clenching.  “I’m not,” he gasped.  “Oh, God, Steve, I’m not.  You have no idea.”  He gave a wrenching noise that was almost a laugh, painful and twisted.  “You have no idea.  I’m not, I’m really not.”


Jesus, Steve thought.  He didn’t know what to do, felt like anything he did was going to hurt Tony worse, suddenly, but he’d gotten them into this.  He had to finish it, had to get them back out.  Both of them.  “It’s going to be all right,” he said, instead.  “I’ve got you, sweetheart.  It’s really, really going to be all right.”  He reached up, unclasped the collar around Tony’s neck, rubbed his fingers gently along the path of it, where it had rested, even though Tony’s skin wasn’t marked by it, setting it aside.  Tony choked, pressed himself forward, startling Steve when he offered his neck, tilted his head back and pushing it into Steve’s palm, against his fingers, like he wanted the pressure, wanted it harder than that, wanted to . . . to be choked by it.


Hell, Steve had never seen him like this.  Tony normally hated anything that was even remotely suggestive of choking; Steve had to be careful even tugging on a collar, anything around his neck, even his shirt.  “Easy,” he murmured, curling his fingers gently around Tony’s neck, but not hard enough to squeeze, even, rubbing his thumb along the pulse, jumping and fluttering, in the side of it.


Tony gave a hoarse, rough, wet gasp.  His shoulders twitched, muscles working under the skin.  Steve had no idea what to do.


“Easy,” he said again.  He reached for the cuffs on Tony’s wrists, unbuckled them as gently as he could, then did his ankles.  He laid a hand on the top of Tony’s head when he was done, but didn’t move to release the blindfold.  He took a deep breath.  Tony lowered his hands, let them rest clasped loosely in his lap.  He stared straight ahead, mouth working, and said nothing.  It was that that convinced Steve that he was crying, and he couldn’t help his own sharp inward breath at that, the thickness of his own throat.


Losing it with guilt now would really get them nowhere, Steve knew that, but it was hard not to.  He curled one hand around Tony’s elbow, instead.  “Get up to your feet for me,” he said, low, even though it was as loudly as he could speak and still sound even anyway.  He wasn’t surprised by how quickly Tony moved to obey, despite the blindfold.  “That’s it,” Steve said, quietly, evenly, when he was up.  He laid his other hand on Tony’s hip, holding him in a loose half-circle.  He noticed with a bit of surprise that Tony was still half hard.  He’d had so much trouble getting into it, feeling it, even sustaining an erection lately, that of course it had to happen now.  Steve wanted to offer to suck him off, but he didn’t think that would be a good idea.  He wished he could have done something for him, had just started with that.


He wanted to take him into the shower, wash the scene off him, relax him, and take the blindfold off in there, hold him, rock him as he washed his hair, until Tony was boneless and limp and blissed out.  But he didn’t think that would happen, and wasn’t certain that he should even try.  But he didn’t want to leave him alone.  Everything in him cried out against the idea of leaving Tony alone like this.  He was in no state.  It would be abandoning him, and Steve knew, knew, Tony had had too many experiences where the top had walked away while he was scared and spaced out.  Helpless.  Except that it was Tony, and he was so strong, and never really helpless.  But close enough.  Close enough to leave scars.  Close enough to be a crime.


But Steve didn’t want to hurt him.  And he was.  He was certain he was.  His very presence seemed to burn him right now.


Tony’s breathing was wet and thick.  Steve thought he was still crying a little, the blindfold looked damp and patchy.  He was never, ever going to mention that.  Tony’s lips trembled, but then he firmed them again.  He was probably getting that under control even now.  Steve had to let him preserve his dignity.


He was so far under, though.  “I’m going to put you on the sofa,” he said softly, and then turned Tony, led him there, chest against his back, nudged him down onto the cushions.  He let his hand cup his jaw, gently, linger there briefly.  Tony’s breath caught, but he still leaned into the touch, almost despite himself, it seemed.  “I’ll be right back,” Steve told him.


Tony nodded.  His breathing was evening out now.  Steve had known it would, known the tears wouldn’t last, not even as far down as he was.  He pulled his own clothes back on, his hands shaking, then grabbed Tony’s favorite robe, came back to him.  Tony had curled up, his legs under him, one hand across his chest, gripping the leather arm of the sofa, his head turned into it.  It was such a vulnerable position that Steve felt like someone had socked him in the gut.  “I’m here,” he said, swallowing hard so he didn’t fumble the words.  “I brought you a robe.”


Tony nodded, struggled up, one hand on the arm of the sofa, getting his legs down and reaching for it.  Steve let him take it, but helped him drape it around his shoulders, get his arms into it, pulling it around behind him.  Tony tied the belt himself and sank back down.  He didn’t curl up again.  He must have realized that Steve would see it—had already seen it.  Which must have meant that he’d thought Steve had left, earlier, despite what Steve had told him, or he would never have let himself look so vulnerable.


Steve’s throat ached, and he couldn’t see straight, his vision was so stinging and blurry.  He’d really screwed this up.  He should never have left him, not even for two seconds; he knew, and he’d still done it, still—


“I’m really okay,” Tony said, low, mumbling, his voice a broken wreck.  “You don’t have to fuss.”


Steve wanted to snap at him, wanted to throw the truth of his tears in his face despite the vow he’d already made to himself never to mention it, wanted to bark at him that he always had to fuss, and—this was awful, he had to stop, had to calm down.  He dropped his own head into his hands, took a deep, shaking breath, then scrubbed one back over his face, over his hair.  He wasn’t going to take this out on Tony.  “I still need to give you aftercare,” he said instead.


Tony’s lips went wry again.  “It wasn’t even a whole scene,” he said.  “And I fucked it up before it got anywhere.  I’m good.”


You’re so far down you can’t see sunlight, Steve thought.  His whole chest felt like it was one big, aching, awful bruise inside.


“You didn’t fuck it up,” he said, again, keeping his voice even, steady, with an effort of will.  “I was the one who redded out.”


“I was the one who made you,” Tony said.  “Let’s not play around.”


“I’m not,” Steve said, shortly.  That was the last thing he was doing.  Tony was still so pliant, unresisting.  Sitting on the couch where Steve had put him.  Barely arguing.  Not saying a word about the blindfold.  Steve didn't want to take it off just yet, didn’t want to jolt him too much.  That kind of thing, having his eyes covered, any kind of sensory deprivation, was always so intense for Tony; pulling him out of it too fast would only make things worse, Steve knew, make him feel raw and overwhelmed, and that seemed like the last thing he needed now—Steve had to do it right.  He wanted to tell him he loved him, but he remembered Tony flinching back from his touch.  He sat down beside him, instead.  “It’s all right,” he said.  “I’m never going to hold it against you.”


Tony let his head hang down again.  He was silent for a moment, and then he said on a slight, thick laugh, “Okay, you’re right.  I’m a mess.”


“Yeah,” Steve said, with a slight smile that felt sad and awful.  “Little bit.  Just a little.”


“I’m sorry,” Tony said.  His hand clenched in the arm of the couch.


“Don’t be,” Steve told him.  He reached out, let his hand settle over his knee, couldn’t help himself, squeezed a little.


Tony sighed, but his hand came up, moved over, covered Steve’s and squeezed back.  “I think I need a minute,” he said, and then he moved his hand away.


“I’m going to stay,” Steve said.  There was no way in hell he was leaving him now.  “I’m sorry.  I want to keep an eye on you.”


“Okay,” Tony said, sighing a little.


“Lie down,” Steve said.  “Put your feet in my lap.  Put your head on the sofa arm.”  Tony obeyed, wordlessly, easily.  Steve had a feeling his eyes had slid closed, even though he couldn’t see them behind the blindfold; something about the set of his shoulders.  He reached up behind them for the blanket over the back of the couch, shook it out, draped it over Tony.  Tony sighed again, but it sounded a little bit better this time.  His fingers clenched, twisted in the blanket.  Steve scooted down, slid one hand under the blanket and began to rub at the bare soles of Tony’s feet.  “You’re gonna be all right,” he said, and swallowed.


“Yeah,” Tony said, smiled a little.  “’Course.  Worrywart.”


Steve laughed a little.  His throat and chest felt tight.  “Okay, that’s fair,” he said, forced himself to, because it was.  He was worrying, he sure as hell was.  And he did worry over Tony.  So he couldn’t say it wasn’t fair.  “Maybe a little.  You lie there a while, we’ll call in some Italian.  Get that ice cream fruit salad you like for dessert.”


“Mm,” Tony said.  “That sounds good.”  He shifted over to lie on his back, but he didn’t pull his feet away from Steve’s hands.  Steve stroked his thumbs gently along Tony’s slender ankles, held his palms gently against the arches of his feet, cupping them in his hands, because Tony was letting him do it.  “You’re good to me,” Tony said, after a moment.  “I—I can’t always . . . respond, like you deserve.  I’m sorry for that.”


Steve swallowed, looking down at Tony’s feet under the blanket as he rubbed them, slowly.  “It’s all right,” he said.  “I don’t think our relationship needs to be about what we deserve.”


Tony sucked in his breath, then let it out, slowly.  His toes curled, clenched, then released, and he turned his head to the side, took another long, slow breath and let it out, easy and slow, braced one hand behind his head.  They stayed like that for a while, before they took the blindfold off, and Steve called the food in while Tony got up to shower.