From under the Corvette, Tony can see a set of feet emerging from behind the main table, strong work boots and sensible jeans. A moment later, a warm hand settles on his knee and squeezes.
"Brought you pastrami on rye and coffee."
"Just set it on the work table. I'm up to my elbows in sludge here."
"JARVIS, when was the last time Tony ate?"
"Sir consumed one protein shake at 10:45AM. At the behest of Ms. Potts."
Steve squeezes his knee again, grip a little tighter, more commanding. "Come out on the count of three or I will yank you out."
"Seven hours is not that long," Tony grumbles, but the wheels of the creeper rattle over the cement flooring and he slides out, smudged face and flyaway hair. "I could go another five."
"Not on my watch you're not." Steve offers a hand, helps Tony up, and then pulls him in for a quick kiss. "Besides, we've got a team meeting in an hour. You'd have to emerge whether you liked it or not."
"You know, before we started having sex, I felt much less guilty about skipping meetings."
"So sorry to be destroying your irresponsible ways."
"Captain Sassy," Tony says, but his voice is fond and he's smirking. He scrubs his arms down at the sink, but a stubborn coat of grease remains from fingertip to elbow. Together, they settle at the table and Steve unpacks sandwiches, slaw, and coffee. "No doughnuts?"
"Be glad you're getting pastrami. Bruce told me your cholesterol levels the last time he drew blood. I should put you on an all-chicken diet."
"You wouldn't take away my burgers, would you Steve?"
"I don't think I could take the whining."
They grin at each other and Tony resists the urge to lean in and lick slaw off Steve's chin. After all, he's got something serious to talk about. He schools his expression into something more neutral, chews thoughtfully on a bite of pastrami, and then leans forward.
"You know that algorithm I put together to find Bucky?"
Steve's face sobers and he sits up straighter, ever the soldier. "What about it?"
"I got a ping today. In Azerbaijan. 67%."
The Captain frowns and looks down at his hands. The muscles in his jaw clench and loosen once, twice, tendons in his neck standing at sharp contrast. His fingers curl into fists before he forces them flat again. "70%. That's what we agreed on. I wasted enough time and money the first time around. I want to be sure this time."
Tony hates himself for what he feels compelled to say next, but Barnes is so much to Steve. So much more than Tony's dared to ask. "Are you sure, Cap? It's..."
"3%. I know. But I don't want to be dangling on a shoestring anymore. When I move, I want to be sure."
Relief washes through Tony from head to toe because he doesn't have to find out just yet whether gaining Barnes will mean he loses Steve. He can hold onto this just a bit longer. They polish off the food in silence and rise as one to head for the elevator. Steve presses a warm palm to his back, pulling Tony just a little closer, and his doubts recede, if only for a moment.
Steve's in dreamland, but Tony is awake, propped against the headboard, tablet set off to the side. He runs his fingers through dandelion fluff hair, studies pale Irish skin, washed silver, black, and blue by the New York skyline. This had all been unexpected, in every sense. He'd never imagined America's posterboy would be bisexual, let alone interested in an eccentric asshole more than ten years his senior, and yet somehow, on New Year's Eve with the countdown echoing up from Time's Square, they'd fallen into each other. Of course, the problem with falling was that there wasn't a lot of time for speaking. And now four months into sleeping together, Tony's still not entirely sure how serious Steve is about them. As a unit. As a couple. He doesn't think Steve is the type to lead a man on, but when the Captain talks about Bucky, he shines with an inner light, sad and hopeful at the same time. And Tony is terrified by what that light might mean.
He traces an ear, runs the tips of his fingers along Steve's jaw, and hisses through his teeth when a hand clenches around his thigh. "Go'o sleep," Steve says, sleep-slurred mouth pressed to Tony's hip.
"Can't. New energy plant specs are due first thing tomorrow morning."
One cornflower eye slits open before Steve presses further into Tony's skin, like some sort of overgrown cat. "'N how come y'r tabl't's off?"
"It's not off. I'm resting my eyes."
"M'hm." And before Tony quite registers what's happening, he's dragged down the bed and pressed against some All-American pectorals. "Sleep now." And damned if Steve hasn't wrapped around him like an amorous octopus. Tony hasn't quite got it in him to resist warm skin, so he slips one arm around Steve's waist and curls the other between them, palm pressed over Steve's heart.
Sleep is just on the edge of Tony's awareness when the tablet beeps and JARVIS' voice comes on, soft and apologetic. "I'm sorry, sir, Captain, but the Buck Rogers Algorithm has registered an 83% probability ping in Azerbaijan."
In an instant, both Steve and Tony are sitting upright as JARVIS brings up a map on the far wall, the ping circled in red. CCTV footage opens in another window, grainy grayscale in a dingy grocer. The camera pauses on a face and Tony feels Steve stiffen next to him. It's Barnes. There's no question in his mind.
"Prep the jet," Steve says, and he's already climbing out of bed, leaving Tony a lonely island in a sea of blankets. "Did you alert Nat and Sam?"
"Agent Romanov is ready to leave at your earliest convenience. Lt. Wilson is currently in the shower, but says he'll be ready within the hour."
Steve nods decisively as he pulls on a pair of his uniform pants, stutters to a stop, and then yanks them off again. "Jeans?" he says, frowning questioningly at Tony.
The billionaire swallows around the lump in his throat and forces a wry grin. "If you're going for subtlety, you might want to avoid the stars and stripes."
"Right. Right. Jeans." He disappears into the walk-in closet and comes back out, zipper done up, but button loose. Tony watches as he runs hands through his hair, turns in a full circle, and comes to a halt. "Where did I put my..."
Tony leans across Steve's side of the bed and reaches down, coming back with the shield, metal cool and smooth under his fingers. The Captain huffs out a blustery sigh and leans in to take it. "Ok. We're gonna go to Azerbaijan, but then we might go dark when we touch down. I don't know if he's listening in on any of the networks. I don't know what tech he's got. Hell, I don't even know if..."
"Are you planning to stun him with your fabulous musculature, because if not, you might want a kevlar vest and a shirt."
Steve looks down at himself, back up at Tony, and then gives a nervous choking laugh. He sits heavily on the bed, shield slipping from his grip to clatter to the floor, where it rings softly for a moment before going silent. "Oh God. I don't know if I can do this again."
Tony rises to his knees and crawls over to his lover, wrapping arms around him from behind, squeezing for all he's worth. "You can do this. You're the star-spangled man with a plan. You can do this."
"But that's the thing. I don't have a plan, Tony."
Steve places a hand over Tony's wrist, squeezing tightly and leaning ever so slightly back. Tony swallows hard, and he knows it's now or never. But he's not quite sure how to put it. So instead he blurts the first thing that comes to mind.
"Promise me one thing."
Steve turns in his grip, forehead wrinkled in worry and lips pursed. "Anything."
"Promise me you'll come back to me."
Between them, the air seems to disappear, as though they've been thrust into a vacuum, or perhaps as though they're underwater. Then Steve's face smooths and his mouth firms. He reaches up and lifts the chain from around his neck, his dog tags clinking in the still air. "Hold on to these for me," he says, pressing the warm metal against Tony's heart.
For a brief moment, Tony thinks he's having a heart attack, because he can't feel it beating in his chest, he can't feel blood pumping through his veins, but then he sucks a sharp breath in and shudders. "I can't take these, Steve. I..."
"Keep them," Steve insists, free hand sliding up Tony's ribs. "I'll be back for them. I promise."
"But...but they're your..." Everything. To Steve, they're a symbol just as much as the shield. Proof that a little skinny punk from Brooklyn could still make something of himself in the army. Tony's never seen him without the tags, even in the shower. He can't. Not when he's about to maybe lose Steve forever. "Please, you don't have to..."
"I promise," Steve says again, and loops the chain over Tony's neck without so much as a "by your leave." The tags settle over his reactor scar, clinking once before stilling entirely.
And what else could Tony say? A promise from Captain America is probably the most trust-worthy promise on the planet. So he leans into Steve's space and kisses him, no finesse, no buildup, just a fierce desire to show Steve how much he cares. The Captain answers with equal fervor, teeth a sharp burn on Tony's lips.
The room tips sideways and the mattress creaks as Tony lands on his back, Steve above him, body shaking and shuddering and Tony's not entirely sure why until he feels hot liquid drip on his cheek. "I promise," Steve says again, fierce against his lips, and Tony digs fingers into his shoulder blades, holding on tighter than he'd ever imagined possible.
One of Steve's arms is looped around Tony's back, but his other slides between them and wanders south, plays over the crease between Tony's hip and thigh. The scratch of nails on flesh sends Tony bucking up, pressing into Steve's jeans, whimpering against his mouth. "I promise."
Strong fingers close over Tony's half-hard dick, stroking with fervor, almost too rough against skin already made sensitive from one bout of sex before bed. "Steve," he murmurs and presses his teeth to the muscle between shoulder and neck, arches up again as Steve's hand twists with need. "Let me...I want..."
But Steve is having none of it. He eases off of Tony's erection, only to take both wrists in hand and press them down next to his head. "I promise," he says again, and grinds his hips down, moving with a sharp, desperate rhythm that has Tony whimpering with need, answering as best he can with 220 pounds of muscle and bone pinning him. They move against each other, friction disappearing as they both run slick with sweat, lips locked in a fierce kiss.
At last, Steve eases off, looking down at Tony with red, swollen lips and frenzied eyes. "Please, babe," Tony says, glancing down to where he can see the head of Steve's erection poking out from his jeans. The super soldier's expression darkens with purpose and he lets go of one wrist, reaching to the nightstand for lube and a condom. Tony takes advantage of his freed hand by reaching down and palming Steve's dick, sliding the zipper down for better access. He squeezes and pumps determined to make this moment last because he suspects it'll have to tide him over for quite a while.
Above him, Steve shudders and shakes, spine curling until his forehead presses to Tony's shoulder. The plastic cap on the lube pops and a moment later, Steve is stretching him, rhythm frenetic with want. The billionaire moans, muscles clenching, free hand fumbling as he loses control. He's already loose from before and Steve jumps from one to three fingers in next to no time, curling against Tony's prostate until he cries out into the room. "Steve. Come on. I need, I need you. Just fuck me already. I'm good. I can...come on."
With barely a break in rhythm, Steve removes his fingers and slams home and when had he even put the condom on, but then Tony doesn't have room to think anymore. His lover takes him apart at the seams, pace desperate and wild. "I promise," he says, sweat dripping down his nose onto Tony's cheek. He's got both wrists pinned again, and he watches with eyes blown wide with desire, taking in every detail.
Tony arches into it, trying to match Steve, but the rhythm is beyond him. The best he can manage is counter-point, rising and clenching around Steve with hips alone. "Babe, so good, come on, let me just...I want to touch you, ah, I could..." The Captain bends at the waist to kiss him, swallowing his words with lips and tongue, breath hot in his lungs and teeth sharp on his skin. "I promise," he breathes against Tony's mouth, and then shifts, sitting upright and pulling Tony into his lap, and oh God, right there, in exactly the right spot.
If anything, Steve's pace grows more frantic, his fingers tight against Tony's back, face pressed into his throat. They're both panting, breath rattling from their lungs in moans and gasps, and Tony bows over Steve's head, pulling him closer. Steve is taking him apart systematically, cell by cell, atom by atom, until all Tony can think about is Steve's chest against his, Steve's hips slamming upward, Steve's dick inside him. Between them the dog tags rattle suddenly, strangely loud against the sounds of their love-making, and it's Tony's undoing. He shouts, muscles seizing around Steve, bearing down and curling in until his vision goes black. Steve groans, slides a hand to the small of Tony's back and impossibly goes faster. As Tony melts against him, he continues on with nearly frightful determination, fingers clenching against sweat-slick skin.
"Babe," Tony whispers, lips against his ear. "Let go."
And Steve does, Tony's name on his lips as he presses up and in, tendons and muscles in sharp relief as he spirals out of control. He holds them upright for another moment and then folds backward, Tony sprawled across his chest. The air around them cools as the desperation from before dissipates. After a moment, the billionaire stretches up and kisses Steve, slow and languorous, using his lips to say what his tongue cannot. Steve leans into the kiss and then falls back with a long exhale. For a few endless minutes, they simply enjoy the silence, Steve's hand sliding up and down Tony's back, fingers warm against the cooling sweat.
"I have to go," he says finally, voice soft and apologetic. Tony nods, but carefully eases off Steve, ignoring the pang when his softening dick slips free. He watches from a boneless sprawl as Steve rises and disappears into the bathroom. He returns with a damp washcloth and wipes them both down, lingering over Tony's chest, where the dog tags glint against the scars. Then, with business-like movement, he dresses. Kevlar under a button-down, the jeans he just fucked Tony in, his boots and bomber jacket. The shield is last, slung on his back, secured with a special harness Tony designed himself.
The super soldier returns to the bed, and leans over Tony. He gives him a long, lingering look, going from head to toe to head again. Their eyes meet, and Steve bends down for a kiss, taking his time, tongue soft and warm over Tony's lips. He pulls back a bare inch, waits until he has Tony's eyes, and then nods once. "I promise." His fingers run the length of Tony's ribs as he pulls away and then he's walking out the door.
Tony closes his eyes, and holds the image of Steve in his mind, blonde hair askew, shoulders straight and wide, shield glinting on his back. It'll have to tide him over. It'll have to be enough. He sighs and turns into the covers, burying his nose in Steve's side. As he moves, the dog tags clink again, sliding against his chest as though to echo Steve.
"I promise," they say. And he believes them.