The suitcase armour (MkV.0.XII) didn't have an onboard air supply. Tony got the entire dose of Spiderwoman's suppression pheromones. Add in the solid flow of Steve's voice in his ear, sending him left, or down or "missiles free! Get the damn truck!" and Tony was compromised, so very very screwed.
It wasn't Spiderwoman's fault, she didn't know he'd sacrificed air filtration for speed, but he was going down all the same. His reactions were slowing right down, his brain losing the will to make his own decisions. He just wanted Steve to tell him what to do and that was a long, long way from what Steve actually expected from him. He was going to fuck up, and soon. The fucking serpent society were not big-timers, this should have been a cakewalk, but they all moved so fast, and it was two on one until the jet arrived.
"Iron Man, respond!"
Tony jerked out of a slow calculation of trajectories, too slow, and jetted upwards to try and give himself some space, he just needed a minute, let the fog clear. Something wrapped around his torso, light and familiar, marked green on the HUD, and scuttled around onto his back. She rested her feet on the jut of the suit's hip, where the servomotors for the legs were, and gripped his shoulders tight. She could hold on up to 100mph in that unlikely position. He checked his speed as they got out of range, and hovered at roof level. She smelled amazing, like the Amazon jungle and waterfalls and engines. He popped the faceplate and turned his head over his shoulder, to tell her she was amazing and a perfect teammate, and how good he felt, but her eyes went wide and she tried to close the faceplate with her hands, which she should be using to hold on.
"T-there are rules. Both h-hands, hold on. Please," he said.
She was babbling at him too fast to understand, but he caught distress and ...fear? On the edges of her voice, and the lovely smell was gone. He coughed the shake out of his voice, and tried to shake the fluff out of his head, too. He'd been...worried about...
His head cleared abruptly and he shot Jessica a sharp glare. Steve's ETA count started coming through loud and clear; time to get back in the fight.
"We are gonna have words about this later, Spiderwoman. Words!"
"I'm sorry, I didn't think--"
"Later!" He snapped, furious at the soup of hormones in his head, and her interference with it, and just her in general.
"Sorry! Yes sir!" she squeaked, and he felt the distinctive push as she went into a glide using him as a kickoff.
With the arrival of the rest of the team (Janet, Steve, and Nat, today) the fight was over quickly, and Tony landed near the jet to get out of the armour. On a hot day, the mkV, even version 12, tended to get up to broiler temperatures; he had a nice cool jet to ride in, he wasn't sticking around in ninety pounds of 100 degree titanium when there was any other option. He was sticky with sweat and the cool air in the draft of the jet's rotors was just perfect. He shook his hair out of its damp helmet-shape, and boy did that feel better. The last of the cloying subby feeling that'd been triggered by the pheromones dissipated in the cold air and left the usual slightly hollow feeling in its wake.
"Tony! You all right?" Steve asked, jogging up with bits of shed snake skin still clinging to his shield.
"Bit woozy; got a whole dose at her finest. Thanks for the orders while I was out."
Steve's hand landed on his shoulder, apparently not caring about the rapidly cooling, sticky sweat saturating his clothes. "You pulled through for us, good job, Iron Man."
Tony nodded, feeling distant from the thanks, and not up to making the usual banter. Steve picked up the suitcase armour for him, and tugged him into the jet. It wasn't just cool, it was cold inside; they had the air con on full and Tony started to shiver. But it wasn't far to the tower, he could manage. He strapped the mobile armour into a cubby so it wouldn't brain anyone if they had turbulence, and clipped into a flight harness himself. You never knew, even when Clint was flying, and Jan wasn't quite that good. She said it was the wings; she had to keep /two/ methods of flight in her head, rather than just one. He should improve the automatic functions; they were all tired, his arms felt like lead, the jet should be able to get them home on its own. Why hadn't he done that already?
In the corner of his hearing, he caught Steve and Nat talking to J, but couldn't quite hear what they were saying from his seat; too close to the port wing strut, which transmitted the harmonics of the corresponding engine. Right into his damn ship. He should sort that out, that was bullshit, why'd he ever let this stupid thing fly with a resonance like that? He was gonna get a team killed when the metal fatigued in a couple of years, unexpectedly, and dumped Cap right back in the ocean.
"Hey there, Stark. Look at me."
Tony blinked and swiveled his head obediently, though his eyes stayed fixed on the strut opposite, resisting the shift.
"Come on, Tony, eyes on me."
He blinked, maybe that would unstick him, and the world went and stayed dark. That wasn't right, he was too cold to sleep, and he needed to reinforce the strut before it killed someone. He blinked them arduously back open, and managed to look at Nat, Steve at her shoulder.
"There you are. How are you feeling?"
His mouth felt dry and his chest tight. "Lambda equals two-point-four-nine, vee in Papa Victor X-ray one-five approximates Mach one-point-zero-two-- harmonics approach stress-strain limit when lambda over vee approaches--"
"Right, you tell J what needs to happen with that, okay? I'm just going to get you warmed up." Natasha's voice filtered through on a different level to the running calculation and he looked up at her with too-wide eyes. She had thermal goggles hanging around her neck, and Steve handed her a blanket. Tony eyed it mistrustfully (orange, why, whhhhyyy) as she tucked it around his legs. There was a draft, under the seat though, and he was coldcoldcold.
Steve pushed a headset onto his ear, and JARVIS' voice came through loud and clear, running the equations he'd been struggling with, so he didn't have to.
"Check the, that constant. The one that varies."
"Collating parameters J through Z, for corresponding Young's modulus. I was reading increased oxytocin and cortisol before you unsuited, please cooperate with the Captain and Ms. Romanov."
"Mkay." He was quiet for a second, while Natasha fiddled with something. "Make sure Cap gets at least double rations, and the spidergang-- more protein, it's-...important." He couldn't remember why, but JARVIS would take his word for it anyway.
"Great minds think alike. Drink." Nat put something in his hand, her other hand cupping the back of his and curling his fingers around it. 'It' was squishy and warm, a foil bag of something liquid.
JARVIS' instruction in mind, he sipped out of the corner of the ration pack. Hot, salty soup, with beef for protein. It was one of Steve's emergency rations, self heating, stocked in case of unexpected long haul missions. Tony made a distressed noise and tried to push to food towards Steve; that wasn't right, he shouldn't be eating Steve's food, the guy had depression era food issues, and a metabolism to match, and he should eat first—
Steve took the pouch and sipped -to Tony's relief- but then handed it back. Expectantly! Tony drank, perplexed, and then tried again, but Steve wouldn't take it.
"I want you to drink it, I don't mind sharing. You know what me an Buck were like, all stealing bites off each others' forks. I ain't gonna fuss when you-- when I already have dinner waiting for me at home." His hands were warm around Tony's, kept smooth by his gloves, but hard with callouses. "Drink."
Tony drank. It slid, warm and satisfying, into his stomach and eased off some of the sickly cold feeling. Natasha climbed into the seat next to him with a snack of her own and his shaky hands started behaving themselves. Her shoulder bumped against his when she lifted the...chocolate? to nibble and that felt good too. Steve was turned towards the cockpit, talking to Jessica and frowning. Not a good frown, all worried and crinkled and too tight around the mouth. Tony felt a little sad noise start in the back of his throat and he bit his tongue to keep it down. The food was helping just enough; he recognised this feeling from...other circumstances. He hadn't really cottoned on to how similar Jess' pheromones were to...that sort of encounter.
He didn't have a Dom to 'keep in contact with'; he certainly didn't feel that way about Jessica right now-- Steve's voice took on an angry edge and Tony flinched down; he should put air filters in all the suits, this shouldn't happen! He couldn't think, wouldn't be able to debrief for hours; what use was he when his teammate's primary weapon knocked him out of the running like this?! He could have gotten Jess killed, or Steve.
The thought shook him up even worse than he already was and he lost his sense of objectivity in one long tumble down the self-recrimination rabbit hole. There were sounds in his mouth, and he dropped the empty soup packet, and Natasha's closeness felt raw and toomuchnotenough-- He reached for Steve, to apologise or just to touch, and his fingers closed on a belt loop, that was safe, he was allowed. Steve's expression softened all at once and Tony tugged on the belt loop plaintively.
"Sorry, shellhead, 's alright, I'm fine. We'll get it sorted."
"Ahh, you're okay not to be verbal right now, that's fine. We're nearly home."
He could feel the jet banking, and shedding velocity. Home. Good.
He felt someone tug on his seatbelt, then Natasha's small hands on the side of his face. He turned obediently into the pressure and she scrutinised his face.
"Were you injured during the contact?"
Tony didn't know, he felt...bad, all over. Cold and shivery and numb. "J. Was I--"
JARVIS made a soft sound, and Tony knew he understood and stopped trying to ask. Natasha's earpiece activated, he could see it in the way she cocked her head. Must be deliberate, to let him know; she wouldn't have a habit like that, nope. Not a chance.
"Okay, wheels down! Steve, you're good," Jan called from the front.
Tony hadn't heard from Jess since they finished the fighting. They were going to have...words? Tony felt like that was a terrible idea, he didn't want 'words', he would just...filters. Carbon and poret.
"He's got a sprained ankle and bruised ribs on the left side, probably. A bit of suit-rattle; he lost mass over that business trip--"
Natasha was talkingtalking with Steve, about him, and Tony didn't want to hear. His foot hurt, now, and he didn't want to hear any more in case it made other bits hurt too. He hummed tunelessly to fill his ears with static, and JARVIS started piping him something orchestral.
"Tony? Hey buddy, we're gonna get you inside, yeah? Stevie Wonder's gonna keep the weight off that ankle, an' I got the suit."
Tony nodded to Clint -where did you come from are those your pyjamas? I didn't know they did Hawkeye pjs- and obeyed the hand on his upper arm as it pulled him to his feet. Steve tucked him up against his side, so his weight was half on Steve, and took him at a comfortable hobble down the ramp. He followed Clint's progress with the suitcase suit just in case, but Clint was actually Clint, and gave it to JARVIS first thing.
He tugged on Steve at the elevator; he needed to see everyone come off the jet, make sure it hadn't dropped anyone into the ocean-- but they hadn't been flying over the water, what?
Jess, Jan, Nat, Steve... Who else...no, Clint met them in his PJs, not-mission. He watched Jan walk the wings, and Jessica did the chassis post-flight checks. He nodded and let Steve pull him into the elevator once Clint and Nat were both inside.
"I'll handle the interrogations; I think they'll be members of the serpent society,--" they were; Tony had heard them talking but...he couldn't get the agreement to come out of his mouth. "--and I know Cobra well enough to make a good old fashioned mess out of their heads."
"Nat, you don't even need that, why you lie?" Clint asked, bumping up against her companionably. His PJs looked really soft and warm. He looked all soft and warm, all over, like he'd been asleep when they got back.
Tony reached for him, selfishly, and Steve made an 'ohup' noise as he started to slip. Tony's ankle yelled at him as his weight shifted, and then went silent as Steve picked up all the way up.
Oooh Steve hickeys. Tony put his head down on Steve's shoulder, ignoring creaky ribs to twist and put his arms around his neck so he could hide his face, and his envy of Clint's sleepy, pyjama'd morning, in Steve's neck, where the hickeys he'd left the day before had been.
"What do you need, Tony? We're gonna get clean, then have the pizza you ordered and do paperwork in front of the TV, that sound good?"
He nodded, tucking close to Steve's warmth. That sounded just perfect to him.
The blanket Nat had put over him was passed from Nat to Clint, with some kind of significance, and she stayed in the elevator when they hit the communal floor. Tony watched the door close in front of her over Steve’s shoulder, then tucked his face away from the chilly air again. Steve wouldn’t mind his cold nose.
There were words again, but they went over his head because he was distracted by the shivering. It made his ankle hurt, which was...unexpected. It was unpleasant enough to make him long for the broiler-suit again, though the sweat was horrible. But hey, showering.
The bathroom was already warm and steamy when they arrived and Steve helped him sit on the bench, out of the spray.
"Alright, get clean, I'm just going to get out of the monkey suit."
Tony nodded muzzily and gave him a thumbs up, flexing his sore ankle and sticking it under the water. The medic would say ice, so he was getting in there first with the heat.
Washing was easy, he could do that. There wasn't any oil or grease for once, so he just covered himself in bubbles, and used the showerhead like a metal detector wand. Swish swish... He idly let the water pressure drum against the glass door, then jet vertically while he used the parabola generated by the sequential droplets to calculate the speed the water left the showerhead.
--in the vertical plane, V(start)=-1V(end) no. Wrong approach. Acceleration=-9.81m/s/s displacement=370mm=0.37m V(init.)= x V(top)=0
Fuck. He needed t; mixing s and V(init.) was a fucking travesty. Three more iterations, trying to calculate the missing variable and he was furious with himself.
How could he be so stupid? Everyone knew, don't get too close to Jess, everybody knew, except him, because he couldn't keep one fucking variable in his head long enough to remember that he wasn't safe.
"Steve! Fucking get in here!" he yelled, smacking off the water valve hard enough to make the pipes complain.
Steve appeared obligingly, one fluffy sock on, one still in hand.
“Towel.” He held his hand out imperiously and Steve’s face went wry as he left his sock on the counter to comply.
Steve left him to dry himself, and sat on the closed toilet to finish dressing. “So where are you, right now?”
Tony grumbled, head covered in the towel and scrubbing vigorously at his hair. “I’ve got about five minutes of furious indignation in me, then it’s back down the rabbit hole.” He pulled the towel back down and hauled himself up onto his good foot to dry his ass.
“Furious?” Steve asked, and Tony wasn’t sure if he was laughing at him, or sympathising, because his face was stupid.
“Fucking pheromones, Steve! No more bloody BDSM games until we sort this shit out, because apparently it's training my brain to sub out at the most fucking inopportune moments!”
Steve visibly winced, and offered Tony his arm so he could hobble angrily into the bedroom. “Sure thing, Tony. You know I don’t mind.”
“I do! That is mine, no Avengers business allowed!” The frothing anger started to feel brittle, and Tony figured his five minute estimate was a little optimistic. “I just... It's supposed to be safe, and small and quiet and undemanding and this is just not how it’s supposed to go--”
“Hey, hush there, you’re fine, you completed the fight, pizza and a movie, you’ll be alright.”
“So much for five minutes. Fuck,” he swore, leaning into Steve as the chill of subdrop-like hormones swept back over him. Steve obliged, of course, and had already put together some clothes, so Tony didn’t have to root about the closet for his favorites. Plus, wearing stuff Steve had chosen was always good. While he was sitting on the edge of the bed, hands starting to go clumsy and exhausted, Steve palpated his ribs, just in case there was something worse than a bruise forming around the reactor. He didn’t look disappointed, so Tony figured he was fine. He didn’t like to disappoint Steve, and injuries were the worst thing.
By the time they were back in the living room, there was pizza on the coffee table and Tony was back to being carried. Clint waved with a half smile, from one end of the couch, as Steve settled Tony in the middle.
Clint spread the blanket back over him (orange) and put a heat pad on his stomach, which only barely mitigated the horrible, nasty, mean icepack he stole Tony’s ankle to apply.
“‘s not too swollen, reckon it’ll be alright. Bruce might want to do the laser thing though. I’ll find out.”
“Thanks Clint, could you grab some water on your way past?”
There was a vague agreeable grunt in the distance, but Tony was busy carefully stretching his ankle so the cold sank into the injury. It felt good, begrudgingly.
Steve offered up a piece of pizza, with mushrooms and peppers and cheese and BBQ sauce and bacon bits all over it. Tony deigned to take a bite and struggled to keep the bliss off his face, still feeling ornery. Holy hell, cheese was good. He chewed through the cheese layer to some bacon, and moaned aloud. Salt burst across his tongue, along with delicious protein-y savoury flavours. He gripped Steve’s wrist to keep it hostage while he chewed, stopping the pizza from leaving the vicinity.
“At least three slices, alright? You want any other flavours?”
Tony shook his head, mouth full. This was good. Steve’s heartbeat thrummed against Tony’s fingers and his body radiated warmth into the spaces between them, though it didn’t seem to thaw much of his skin. He felt grizzly, like the bear; happy while there was food and warmth, but he had the rumbling disquiet still, hiding in his ribcage.
When Steve held up a plate, after the first slice was finished, Tony looked at the mess of... red and white and yellow and made a face. He knew it would taste just the same as what he’d just had, but it didn’t look like food. Or, it did, but it looked inedible, insurmountable. He buried his hands in the blanket, twisting it around his fists, and turned into the couch cushions.
“I hate this. This is the worst. I’m hungry,” he complained, ribs finally starting to ache appreciably.
“Hey man. Pizza no good?” Clint asked, handing a bottle of water over the back of the couch to Steve, along with a pair of blisterpacks and a tube of something equally medicinal.
“Pizza’s fine, I love pizza. My brain doesn’t think it deserves food. Nauseous.”
Clint made a low hum of understanding. “Yeah, I get you. Probably hurts worse than you can feel right now, reckon thats not helping.”
Gah, brain chemistry.
“Bruce says to gel up your ankle, and keep alternating heat and ice. Sent up some painkillers and anti-inflammatories too. Promise it’ll help.”
Tony gave Clint a long, suspiciously assessing look over the back of the couch, waiting for his heart to decide if it was okay with this idea or not. He could feel Steve hovering at his back, and smell the icyhot gel. He knew the right answer, he should just say it. Out loud... now. He could make words. Yep.
A low whining moan escaped his closed throat and he hid his face in the couch.
“Green,” he choked out, but only once he couldn’t see Clint.
Steve shifted behind him, a hot-lovely-comfort hand on his shoulder rubbing circles into his twisted up muscles. “Alright, I’ve got you, Tony. Just stay where you are and we’ll look after you for a bit.”
Tony nodded, going limp and letting Steve arrange him how he wanted. Tony found himself half curled on his back, a squashy Natasha-scented pillow under his head and his painful ankle on Steve’s lap. Clint was sitting on the coffee table, with some bitesized pieces of pizza on a napkin. Tony looked at them suspiciously; they only looked like food for as long as they stayed in Clint’s hands. His brain dismissed them as soon as they hit the plate and it turned his stomach to think about putting that in his mouth. Clint had his problem solving face on, and tony hoped he figured it out, because Tony was genuinely hungry, and the slice Cap had shoved in his face had only whet his appetite.
Steve was peeling back the icepack and replacing it with his hands, ridiculously hot even through a pair of sticky latex gloves, all slick with numbing gel. It felt cool, then hot going on, and the rubbing it in hurt in a good way. Tony’s eyes closed in relief, and he pressed the heat pad to his chest.
“Hey, SiC, eyes on me for a sec,” Clint asked.
Obediently, and dopily, Tony blinked up at him with his head loose on the pillow.
“You’re lookin’ good, man, real good.” His eyes were warm and comfy and Tony felt a bit more tension ease up. “Open your mouth; pills, then water.”
Clint held up a cupped palm, and Tony nodded, opening his mouth even though it made his hands burrow into the blanket and press hard against his belly. He couldn’t reach out and take them, and Clint didn’t make him. They were caps, they didn’t have a flavour, and Tony swallowed them dry before accepting the water Clint held for him.
“Great, thanks. You wanna try this, now?” Clint held up a piece of pizza, just mouth sized, in his bare fingers. It looked delicious and Tony could have teared up right there. He didn’t of course, and Clint didn’t quietly put a clean handkerchief over his eyes to soak it up.
Tony could feel his face going slack and relaxed under the blindfold, easy and soft enough to nom gently at Clint’s fingers as he took the food off them.
He ate until he was full, bread and tomato and bacon all delicious and perfect now he didn’t have to pick it up or look at it. His issues with food weren’t exactly a feeding kink so much as the exact opposite with feeding himself. Clint knew about food stuff, Clint was safe.
Steve’s hands never left his legs, even when the icepack made its dreaded return, and the only way Tony knew time had passed was that they swapped between a heatpack and a fresh icepack, twice. Which meant it had been twenty minutes. Probably, if he hadn’t missed one. It didn’t matter if he had, anyway; it was time for post-mission conking out on couches.
If the way Steve’s hands had gone still, he wouldn't even be the first to go. He leant his head against the pillow, smelling Natasha’s shampoo, and finally managed to reach a hand out of the blanket to find Clint’s... forearm, though he’d half expected a knee. He squeezed gently in thanks, then curled back under the blanket and let himself drop off.