There’s a soft light coming from under the door, a small sliver on the darkened carpet. Steve leans his forehead against the wood, closing his eyes tight. The flash of battle plays behind his eyelids: the deafening explosions, the screams, the screech of metal being torn, and Tony’s body being thrown, practically lifeless, down at Steve’s feet. Steve doesn’t remember what happened to the villain of the week. He thinks he broke his neck with the shield.
He breathes out, sharp, tastes the remembered metal on his tongue, and carefully pushes open the door. The room is dark save for the shine of moonlight, muted against the carpet and playful on the sheets. Tony is curled up in the middle of the bed, pooled blankets of red and black cocooning his form. Steve can make out the large swatch that covers the damage he took to his shoulder. He moves silently into the room, listening for a change in Tony’s breath.
“Didn’t think you’d come tonight,” Tony whispers, his voice practically shattering the silence, and Steve closes his eyes. It’s a mistake, because now he can see smoke rising from the suit, the half crushed faceplate, and Tony’s shoulder, shattered red and gold, some of it liquid and most of it metal, and Steve opens his eyes again. Tony watches him from the bed. “I’m okay.”
“I know,” Steve says, moving closer. “I know.” He sits down on the bed, drawing his fingers over the sheet and Tony’s still body. Tony shifts into him, sighing out a pleased breath, and Steve curls his fingers light over the bandage. “I know.”
Tony smiles at him, all soft edges and forgotten façades. “No, you don’t. You’re replaying it in your head; I can see it behind your eyes. Come on.”
Pushing himself up, Tony catches at the hem of Steve’s shirt, peeling it off him. Steve lets him, tries to ignore the images flashing behind his eyes, and Tony traces threes over his shoulders. He presses a soft kiss to Steve’s chin, curling a hand around his arm, and dragging him down. He pulls and shifts Steve until they’re pressed together, chest to chest, forehead to forehead. Steve can feel himself shaking. Tony breathes out against his mouth, eyes fluttering closed.
Steve laughs, a bitter noise. “Shouldn’t I be saying that?”
Humming, Tony tucks his nose into Steve’s throat. “Probably. But we both know how bad you are at the whole internalizing thing. Better to get it out of the way.” He presses his mouth against Steve’s skin, just breathing. “I’m still here.”
“What was that, before, whenever you talked about me being imaginary?” Steve leans his head back, allows Tony more access, and skims fingers down Tony’s side. Tony shifts against him and bites at his shoulder.
“Then I’m the best damn illusion you’ve ever come up with.” Tony slides up him, one sinuous movement, and smiles. “I’m still here.”
Steve moves them both, as careful of Tony’s shoulder as he can be, setting Tony astride him. Tony grins down at him, fingers chasing numbers over Steve’s chest. There’s that familiar calculating gaze that slides over Tony’s eyes and Steve presses his hands against Tony’s ribs, feeling the rise and fall of his breath, catching the faint pulse of his heart and the hum of the arc reactor against his fingers. He matches his breath to Tony’s, a familiar calm washing over him.
“There you go,” Tony says, leaning down for a kiss. It’s nothing like their usual; it’s soft around the edges, simple and slow, and Steve loses himself in the slide of their lips, the sharp threat of teeth, and the easy glide of tongue. He lets his hands smooth over Tony’s hips, chasing the shadows along the dip of Tony’s spine and finding comfort in the smooth, untouched skin. His fingers brush over the bandage and he doesn’t flinch away, just traces up and around it, drawing a moan from Tony when he starts rocking them together.
Pulling back, Tony peppers kisses down his neck and over his chest, arching his back into Steve’s sure hands. Steve lets him, just continues to explore, wiping the image of Tony’s lifeless form from his mind’s eye and replacing it with this one, this vibrant, ever-shifting collage that is Tony Stark. Tony settles against his chest, lips still restless over Steve’s skin, but he doesn’t move. He watches Steve with understanding eyes, tapping out a staccato rhythm over Steve’s heart.
Steve finishes his exploration of Tony’s back and slides his hands up and into Tony’s hair, tugging at him until they’re lined up again, mouths just barely touching. Steve doesn’t move, just lets Tony’s weight, Tony’s breath, wash over him. And then they meet in the middle, with that same leisure encompassing Steve as they kiss. It’s not rushed. It’s not hurried. Steve sighs against Tony’s mouth, planting his feet on the bed and creating a cradle for Tony to sit in, his ass snug against Steve’s half-hard cock. Tony chokes, a simple stutter of breath, and Steve keeps up the rocking motion of his hips, hating that he’s still wearing his sweats, but knowing that barrier is helping with this unhurried pace.
“You don’t have to fuck me tonight,” Tony breathes when they pull apart. Steve can’t help it, raises an eyebrow, and Tony laughs. “Okay, well, I would like you to fuck me tonight, but if that’s not what you want, I’m willing to kind of just, you know, rock against you. That’s perfectly fine with me.”
“Liar,” Steve says affectionately. He lets his hands slide down and over Tony’s ass, and Tony rises up with a small moan.
“Yup, lying, but still.” Tony moves with his hands, shifting around until Steve’s fingers slide gentle over his hole. He shudders. “Okay, no, I really, really, want it.”
Steve guides him back down again and Tony arches into the kiss, fingers groping under the pillows above Steve’s head. He hums against Steve’s mouth, smacks him light on the cheek with the found lube, and Steve pulls back with a snort. Tony grabs for his hands, and Steve catches his wrist, slowing him down.
“We have all night, Tony. Settle,” Steve says, and Tony pouts down at him. His eyes are soft though, that wild calculating hum still flickering behind the brown of his irises, and Steve taps him on the thigh. “Up.”
Tony rises on steady knees, bracing his hands on Steve’s chest and rubbing one of Steve’s nipples between his fingers. Steve smears far too much lube over his hand, gets even more on Tony’s ass, and doesn’t really care. He slides his fingers back and forth over Tony’s hole, keeping the pressure just this side of teasing, and Tony pinches his nipple, hard.
Steve retaliates by lightening the pressure until Tony is trying to rock back against him, the jerk and shift of his hips almost hypnotizing. But Tony doesn’t seek revenge again, just hangs his head and pants, trying to gain even a fraction of the friction from before.
“Please,” Tony manages, just that one word, and Steve’s honestly surprised. Tony begging is usually something that always happens, but Tony begging with only one word? Steve relents.
He teases in one finger first, and Tony shoves back, greedy, a moan slipping free. He bites down on his bottom lip, shaking as he waits for Steve to add another, and he twitches when Steve gives him what he wants.
“I’m good,” Tony says, and Steve shakes his head.
“You’re lying,” Steve says, curling up. He shifts the speed of his fingers, finding Tony’s prostate, and Tony whimpers against his shoulder. His hips are working frantic now, cock leaving a thin trail of precome over Steve’s stomach.
“I am, I always am, but I just –” And Tony bites his lip again, squeezing his eyes shut as his body tries to slow down. Tony breathes out, “Please.”
Steve slips in a third finger, working him quickly open, and Tony mouths at his skin, fingers skimming up and over Steve’s shoulders. Steve grabs around Tony’s waist, hoisting him up enough that he can work his sweats down over his cock, groaning when he’s finally free, and Tony catches his mouth in a sloppy but deliberate kiss.
Slicking himself up, Steve moans, griping Tony’s waist tight. As he eases in, Tony fights him, eager to shove back, fingers clumsy against his chest and mouth going lust-stupid. When Steve is in, Tony hot and tight around him, he breaks the kiss and breathes. Tony whimpers against his lips but he doesn’t say anything; there is no long string of words and no messy phrases that clang around in Steve’s head and make him want to pin Tony and take him. There is nothing but the shift of sheets and their heavy breathing that permeates the air. Steve’s skin pebbles with stimulation, and he starts to move.
Choking, Tony tries to move with him, eyes closed tight as he shifts in Steve’s grip. And this is where Steve is used to Tony talking, muttering words and numbers and equations, but it’s all silent. Steve catches Tony up in another kiss and increases the force of his thrusts. Tony keens against his mouth, eager tongue tangling with Steve’s. His fingers dig into Tony’s hips, lifting and bringing him back down hard, and Tony shakes with it.
They don’t speed up. They don’t move past the initial pace that Steve sets. Tony learns, catches Steve’s rhythm and mutters formulas into the slick skin of his neck. Steve slides a hand down over Tony’s back, ignoring the bandage, and glides his fingers over Tony’s hipbones. When he reaches Tony’s cock, Tony is practically delirious from touch alone, hips twitching with every thrust Steve makes. And then Steve touches him, finally, gets a hand on him and jerks, once-twice-thrice, and Tony arches with a barely repressed whine. Steve groans, tries not to shove in but it’s so difficult, with Tony clenching around him, hot muscle shifting and forcing Steve deeper. Steve presses his face against Tony’s shoulder, moaning as he comes.
Tony comes down first, slumping heavy against Steve’s chest and forcing Steve to lie down. Steve pulls out, rearranging Tony so he’s comfortably draped over Steve’s chest, face tucked into Steve’s shoulder. He caresses Tony’s back, up-down, side to side, and ignores the fact that they really need to clean up before Tony sticks to something again.
“I told you,” Tony murmurs. Steve slides a hand into Tony’s hair, scratching light against his scalp and Tony hums.
“And what did you tell me?”
“That I’m still here.”
The words stir the panic inside him, just a little, but it’s easy to smother. Steve breathes out, staring up at the ceiling. The moonlight has shifted, sending silvery shadows dancing over the ceiling, and Tony pushes up and out of the bed, wandering over to the bathroom on unsteady legs. Steve can’t help but smile as Tony all but collapses back on top of him, wet washcloth cold against his side. Steve takes it from him and cleans them both, tucking Tony under the covers and joining him, curling around his back, hand pressed over the arc reactor. The hum is reassuring, as is the uncomfortable scratch of the bandage against Steve’s chest. They’re all indicators that Tony is alive. That Tony is still here.
Steve closes his eyes and he doesn’t see the battlefield, but soft curves of moonlight, the familiar wash of black and red sheets, and unbroken skin.
They’re both still here.