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THE IRON NIGHTMARE

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“Thank you again for the ride.”

“My pleasure, Cap’n. Anytime.”

Steve smiled sheepishly at Happy as he got out of the car. “I’ll try not to make it so late next time.” This was the third night this week he had tried not to make it late, yet it was already past 0300. Technically, I guess it’s early.

“You’re doing good work. I’m proud to help out.” Happy gave him a wave as he locked up the car. Steve walked towards the garage stairwell, grateful he had finally convinced Happy to stop picking him up in the limo. He wasn’t comfortable riding around in the huge, fancy car by himself. A regular car was fine—not that any of Tony’s cars were regular—but Happy had gotten adept at picking the most inconspicuous vehicle when he drove Steve.

Inconspicuous?

Steve laughed at the term his mind had chosen. Every single one of Tony’s cars was not only expensive and classy, but they each carried the name Stark emblazoned across their license plate. That particular detail was pleasing to Steve. He was proud to ride in Tony’s car, especially since he understood the love implicit in the gesture. Despite having put in a long day—and night—on the Veteran’s project, Steve was perfectly capable of riding his bike or taking the subway home, but being able to relax completely and not have to think about anything on the trip home felt wonderful. He also knew it gave Tony peace of mind when he let Happy pick him up in one of the Stark cars, and Steve was glad to oblige. Tony liked sending his car for his man, and Steve was getting more comfortable with the realization he enjoyed being spoiled in Tony’s unique way.

“Captain Rogers.” JARVIS’ clipped tone rang out in the stairwell, immediately arousing concern. This was not the way JARVIS usually greeted him.

“What’s wrong?” Steve demanded as he started to take the stairs two and three at a time.

“Despite half a dozen attempts, I have been unable to rouse Mister Stark from his present nightmare. The duration of this particular REM cycle has exceeded—”

“Where is he? Apartment or penthouse?”

“Neither. Sir is in the lab.”

“The lab?” Steve grew more distressed, reaching the stairwell for floor fifteen of the tower and doubling his speed as he climbed higher. “I thought we had a protocol, JARVIS?”

After one manic, locked-in-the-lab-four-straight-days-without-sleep episode, Steve put his foot down. He understood Tony’s devotion to his work, and the way he could become obsessed with a particular project, but he also insisted moderation measures be put in place for the sake of Tony’s health. Tony had protested vehemently, but there wasn’t much he could do since he had given Steve full reign concerning JARVIS, instructing the AI to follow Captain Rogers’ commands as if they were his own. If Tony’s ratio of work hours to sleep hours exceeded a predetermined number, or if his vital signs moved into an unacceptable range, JARVIS would save and shut down all open projects immediately, denying access until such time as Tony met the acceptable criteria—or Steve overrode the command.

“Sir has a propensity for maneuvering around protocols,” JARVIS informed, “as do you.” JARVIS’ tone was tsking, which didn’t come as a surprise to Steve. He’d been drawing outside the lines quite a bit lately himself, especially this week. Tony had set a few protocols of his own to discourage Captain America from consuming Steve Rogers’ entire life. Steve had difficulty differentiating between “the suit and the man,” as Tony put it, and he had a valid point. This week was a perfect example.

“Message received,” Steve huffed as he finally reached the floor for Tony’s lab. He knew the access code for the wall panel, but it wasn’t necessary as JARVIS had already opened the door when he exited the stairwell.

Tony was slumped over his worktable, face buried in a stack of paper designs and  hand-sketched blueprints, indicating JARVIS had stopped cooperating with his efforts to keep working long before. Steve had to step over the forest of paper littering the floor to get to him as JARVIS briefed him on Tony’s vitals and how long he’d been in sleep distress. Dummy was standing at Tony’s side, making a mournful noise, trying to gently poke his creator to consciousness. Steve set a comforting hand on the mechanical helper, shooing him back. “It’s okay, Dummy, I’ve got him.”

Dummy made a relieved sound and rolled back to let Steve get closer to Tony’s side. He was soaked with sweat, moaning despairingly, his entire body twitching. Even without JARVIS’ input, Steve would have recognized Tony was in the throes of a nightmare. The puzzling aspect was how little his condition resembled his usual pattern. When Tony was distressed in his sleep, the two main causes were Afghanistan and Obadiah Stane. In both cases, Tony would be fighting, a fact Steve learned the hard way after several bloody noses and a few black eyes. This was distress of a different kind, but whatever the cause, it needed to cease.

Now.

“Tony,” Steve set a hand on Tony’s back, leaning nearer to his ear. “Tony, you need to wake up. Come on.”

Tony shook harder, his breathing becoming more desperate. Steve realized he had to be firmer. Tony hadn’t heeded either JARVIS’ warnings, which were set specifically by Tony to rouse him from nightmares, or Dummy’s poking, which always annoyed him no matter how tired he was. Steve took solid hold of both Tony’s arms, lifting his upper body off the table, setting him into a sitting position, shaking as he called. “Tony, wake up. Come on, sweetheart, it’s Steve. I need you wake up.” Steve began patting each cheek in turn.

“No, no, no,” Tony started babbling. “My suits! My suits!”

“Tony!”

Tony’s eyes flew open, casting about wildly, not focusing on anything. “My suits. They’re gone. They’re all gone.”

“Nothing’s gone,” Steve consoled, giving him another shake before kissing his sweaty forehead. “You’re having a bad dream. Come back, now, sweetie. I’ve got you.”

“Steve?”

“I’m right here.”

“Where’ve you been?” Tony clutched Steve’s arms desperately, nails digging through his jacket and shirt, into his flesh. “Where has everybody been? They blew up my house. All the Iron Man suits. They’re gone. Why didn’t you guys come?”

Steve wasn’t sure what to say. Tony had never had this dream before. He was clearly still distraught, not fully awake despite open eyes and recognition of Steve. Hopping up on the work table, Steve pulled Tony to his feet, jostling him some to help him snap out of whatever was still clawing at him before he settled him between his spread legs and held him there, looking straight into his eyes. “Your Iron Man suits are fine. Your house is fine. We’re in it. The tower. We’re both here. The only place anyone has gone is probably to bed. It’s very late. You should be in bed, but instead you fell asleep in your lab working too hard.” Steve glanced at the scattered designs, seeing several sketches of new suit proposals. Could be why Tony’s suits are on his mind.

“You don’t understand.” Tony’s expression was still wild as he started sputtering words without pause. “They’re going to try and pull out the arc reactor. I’ll die. They kept saying I wouldn’t, but I will. Some damn giant magnet can’t get this shrapnel out. A giant magnet! Can you imagine? Like it wouldn’t suck up every instrument in an operating room and wouldn’t I have tried that if it could work? I almost died of palladium poisoning. Why wouldn’t I have taken this thing out then if I could? And what’s supposed to happen if it’s out? Do I walk around with a huge gaping hole in my chest?”

“Your arc reactor is right here.” Steve placed a palm over Tony’s chest. “You’re fine. I wouldn’t let anybody try to take it out.” At Dummy’s concerned whine, Steve nodded toward him. “Get him some water, Dummy. It’ll help.”

“Dummy?” Tony pulled back from Steve, head twisting frantically. “Where?”

“He’s right there.”

Dummy rolled closer and poked Tony’s leg. Tony gasped, looking at the robot that had been his most stalwart companion since childhood, an expression of relief washing over him so rapidly that Steve thought Tony would have collapsed had he not still been holding his arms. “Dummy’s here! He’s not in the ocean.”

“He’s been right here trying to wake you up.”

“Wake me up?” Confusion practically swallowed him as he dragged his hands over his face before turning back to Steve. “You didn’t leave me?” The quiet fear echoing in the words tore Steve’s heart.

“Leave you? Never.” Steve grabbed hold and pulled Tony to his chest, smothering him with his hug. “I’ve been working a lot on the Veteran’s project and I’m sorry. But leave you? Not in this lifetime. Or the next. I love you, Tony.”

“Thought you disappeared,” Tony was muttering into Steve’s jacket. “Made no sense. You were just gone. And Happy. Happy almost died!” Tony was still shaking and Steve hugged him harder.

“Happy is fine. He drove me home. He’s probably in bed now.”

“Drove you home? He’s not head of security? Head of security? What the fuck am I saying? Why would anybody make Happy head of security? He’s a great guy, but really?”

Steve was trying to follow the crazy ramblings, but the plot of this nightmare was convoluted even for someone with Tony’s complex brain. He recalled the level of his own vivid, terrifying nightmares that plagued him in the aftermath of the Asgardian moonshine incident, and grew worried. He pressed the back of his hand to Tony’s forehead, which was clammy but not feverishly hot. Thankfully, Tony didn’t appear to be sick. He was still really shook up, though. Steve did his best to reassure. “You pay a highly skilled, efficiently trained security team. Plus you have a tower full of Avengers for protection. We’re safe. You can let this go.”

Tony shuddered hard, burying his face in Steve’s shoulder, clinging to him. He sounded lost and confused and Steve burned with an irrational urge to punch a nightmare. “It was a dream?” Tony still didn’t sound convinced. “The whole thing?”

“JARVIS has been trying to wake you, but he couldn’t. You had an awful nightmare.”

“Nightmare? Not like any dream I ever had. You have no idea. Steve, I was a complete and utter moron. Every single thing I did was stupider than the last.”

“See. Right there you should have known it wasn’t real.” Steve cupped the back of Tony’s head in his palm, rubbing gently. “You don’t have a stupid cell in your body, sweetie.”

“There was this super villain. Only he wasn’t super. He was an actor. He was acting like the leader of the Ten Rings, but the person pulling the strings was really this schmuck who said I’d dissed him years ago. As if me being rude to someone is enough cause for them to want to destroy the world. Hell, we’d really be in trouble then.”

“Tony, it’s over now—”

Tony pulled back, eyes wild, his hair standing on ends. “He was like Syndrome! Like in the movie The Incredibles. The whole elaborate scheme was to get back at Mister Incredible for dissing him and not living up to his expectations.”

“And you would be Mister Incredible?” Steve smiled. He understood the reference. Tony had shown him the movie last week, which may have played into this nightmare somehow.

“I know. Crazy, right? He was turning soldiers into fire, I think. There was definitely fire bursting from their skin.”

“Tony, I’ve been working with the soldiers who’ve had a hard time adjusting when they get back home,” Steve said reasonably, trying his best to help Tony make sense of this so he could let it go. “I can see how afflicted soldiers would be on your mind.”

“Maybe. But my suit didn’t work. JARVIS was gone. There was a kid, you know, like one of those target-demographic characters in a cheesy action movie, the one who’s there to tug on the heartstrings of the hero? He had to plug in my suit, like, into wall outlet, can you believe? A plug? Hello. What the hell do you think this thing in my chest is for?” He punched his arc reactor. “Do you see any plugs here?”

“I thought you said they took the arc reactor out of your chest?”

“Later. Not 'til later. First I had to fight the bad guys.” Tony scrubbed his still shaking hands back and forth through his hair, leaving his mane even wilder. “Only I had no suits. But I really did. There was this secret Bat-Cave place full of suits, but I didn’t use any, even when I stood there and let them bomb my house to shit because I was a douche.”

“Your house? The one in Malibu?”

“Yeah.”

“But you haven’t been there in—how long?”

“I don’t fucking know. I was there because I had a freak-out after the Battle of New York. Yeah, like I’m going to survive Afghanistan and Stane and Vanko only to lose my shit now. Then. I don’t know. I know all you guys were gone. No Avengers. Not even Fury, which makes no sense since Fury is up my dick with a microscope if I piss into the wrong side of the urinal. The president was kidnapped and the world was threatened and nobody cared. Just me. And Rhodey, who apparently now represents the extent of our military support when the fucking president’s life is in danger and the country is about to fall into the hands of Syndrome. But Rhodey was a bigger asswipe than I was. He fucked-up another one of my suits, not that it mattered because Dream Tony aka Mister Incredible aka the wuss could make new suits at a rate of like one a week for a year or some crazy bullshit. Like even I could go from a Mark 7 to a Mark 42 in a year? If I was that much of a genius, why was I such a dumbass? I as much as sent an engraved invitation to a terrorist group to come get me, then employed zero security systems, not even my Bat-Cave of secret super suits, while they blew my house to shit. They kept telling me I had PTSD or something and nobody would listen to me. And then, for my ultimate moronic move, I blew up all my suits—suits I didn’t bother to use to fight the bad guys until it was almost too late. Suits that popped like soda cans, they were so crappily made. Billions of dollars’ worth of suit tech was suddenly nothing more than target practice in a video game and I was holding the controller. Christ, Steve, it was the craziest bullshit.”

Steve was listening to Tony’s breathless recounting, his own eyes wide, jaw dropped. This wasn’t like any other nightmare Tony had ever had, and the level of detail—insane detail—was astounding. No wonder Tony was so shook up. He found himself checking Tony’s forehead again for fever, finding none.

“Sounds really crazy,” Steve agreed. “Which might have something to do with you overriding protocols and stressing yourself into a manic place.”

“Manic! Yes. You’re right. Who dreams like this? My brain needs a fucking off switch. I don’t think—hey! What the fuck!”

Steve tried not to laugh as Dummy doused Tony with the water spritzer bottle in his metal arm. “Sorry. My fault. I told him to get you water. I should have specified. He’s just worried about you. Dummy, enough. Stop.”

Dummy ceased, rolling back. Tony pulled away from Steve and glared at the robot, his face and clothing now dripping. The anticipated string of curse words usually reserved for the dotty robot never came forth. Instead, Tony smiled. Then laughed. The laugh sounded a little frenzied at first, but clearly relief was washing over him. Reaching a wet hand outward, he patted his robot on the claw-like head. “Thanks, I needed that. And thanks for not being at the bottom of the ocean. I would have missed you.”

Dummy let out a funny shriek and spun in a circle before rolling off towards the stash of mops.

Steve was grateful Tony had started to calm down. He was no longer shaking and out of breath, but it was evident he was still unnerved by the unsettling dream. “Come on, sweetie. Let’s get you dried off and into bed.”

Panic drained the color from his face as Tony shook his head. “Um, probably not a good idea. I can’t sleep. I don’t want to sleep. Not now. Steve, please, you have to understand—”

Shhh,” Steve hushed, drawing Tony back to his arms. “Who said anything about sleeping?”

“But you . . . I thought . . . ohhhh, I get it.” Tony immediately relaxed in his embrace.

“Clearly, smart Tony is back.”

“You have no idea how relieved I am about that.” Tony’s arms went around Steve’s neck, hugging hard. “Gimme a ride, okay?”

“My pleasure.” Steve bent and slid his hands behind Tony’s knees, lifting. Usually, Tony eagerly locked his legs around Steve’s torso, but his limbs had gone liquid, indicating how much the nightmare had drained him. Steve kept his forearms under Tony’s dangling thighs, bearing his weight as he carried him from the lab. “You know I would never leave you, right?” he said softly. “I need you to know that, because dreams have a sneaky way of feeling real, even when they’re not.”

Tony tucked his head on Steve’s shoulder, resting there. “That was the worst part . . . I didn’t have you. No wonder I was such a mess. Maybe I would crack like that if there wasn’t a Steve in my life?”

“There’s one theory you’re never going to get to test, genius.” 

 

~0~0~0~

 

Tony’s fingers splayed over the metal circle on his chest, comforted by its presence. He’d had a love/hate relationship with his arc reactor over the years, but it was part of him now. Losing it would be like losing a limb or a few thousand brain cells. He wouldn’t be the same. He wouldn’t be Tony Stark. He carried it as both a badge of honor and a scar, every day reminded of the wrong roads he had traveled, but also the second chance he had been given.

He snuggled closer to Steve’s sturdy side, anchored by his strength. He was calm now, even his mind had gone quiet—a state of quiescence he was only ever able to achieve around Steve. It was one of the billion things he loved about Steve Rogers. “What are you reading?” Steve had taken the dust jacket off the book, so the only thing visible from Tony’s angle was a plain, red hardcover.

Patriot Games,” Steve answered.

Coulson, Tony thought, knowing Phil was usually responsible for suggested readings for Steve, since they shared a similar taste in literature. There were plenty of hours in the day Steve was pouring over historic or cultural tomes, always striving to catch up, but in bed, Tony had finally broken him of the ‘study habit,’ reminding him he was still allowed to read for pure pleasure the way he used to so many years ago.

Letting the book fall to his chest, Steve crooked his head to look at Tony. “Need me to stop?”

“I love watching you read.” Tony knew what he should have been doing was watching Steve sleep. Had to be nearly dawn and Steve hadn’t been to bed yet. Well, technically he was in bed. What they had been doing sure didn’t constitute sleep, though. Tony kissed Steve’s bare ribcage, continuing to smooth his foot over the length of Steve’s long legs underneath their Iron Man red comforter that Steve treasured. Tony needed the contact; needed to feel Steve, watch him, remind himself he was here. In their bed.

“Thinking about your nightmare again?” Steve asked, his usual kindness and concern shining from those oh-so-blue eyes.

“Nope. I think you fucked it out of me.” Tony waited for the endearing blush to paint Steve’s face. He wasn’t disappointed. “I’m only thinking about you.”

Tony’s entire body thrummed, replete from Steve’s thorough loving. Dream shadows, no matter how bleak, didn’t stand a chance against the power of Captain America’s love, a fact Tony was grateful for. He was no stranger to disconcerting nightmares, but this most recent one had sent him spiraling. It was too real. No. Not really. Nothing about it jibed with reality. Could have, though. Maybe that was the scariest part. If he had made different choices, would his world have ended up like the nightmare? It all felt like a freaky, upside-down version of It’s A Wonderful Life—Tony Stark style. Could that shit have really happened to him if things had been different after The Battle? Interesting, how that was the catalyst in the nightmare, that crossroad where his life changed. Post-Battle of New York—only without Steve by his side.

No fucking thanks.

“You’re thinking about more than me.” Steve’s thumb smoothed over the creases in his forehead.

“You’re good for me, you know?” Tony swatted Steve’s book off his chest. He was being selfish. He should have let Steve read. Should have let him sleep, actually, though Steve wouldn’t. Not as long as Tony was awake. Tony climbed atop him, flattening their chests together, nudging Steve’s legs wider until his were tucked between them. In the face of Steve’s devoted love, guilt got the better of him and he knew he had to confess. “I didn’t tell you everything. About the dream. Nightmare.”

Steve didn’t bat even one lovely, long eyelash, always ready to hear whatever Tony needed to say. “Tell me now.”

Tony folded his arms atop Steve’s chest, resting his chin on them. Steve was fucking handsome. Not like a model or a statue or a painting. Okay, maybe like those, too, but more. If adjectives like good and virtuous and kindhearted could take human form, they’d look like Steve Rogers. The most gorgeous aspects radiated from the core, shining through the pretty packaging. Even now, he wasn’t merely listening with half an ear, humoring Tony about the nightmare he had to be sick of hearing about. Nope. Not Steve. He was all in. Totally present.

Tony hesitated. Hurting Steve was like kicking a puppy. No. More like running a litter of puppies over with an SUV and then tossing the remains in the garbage truck to be mangled and crushed. Ewwww. Gross imagery there, Stark. Get a grip. Okay, okay. Tell him. Tony took a deep breath before spitting it out. “Pepper was in the dream. We were together. Together-together.”

“I see.” Steve was stoic, but Tony wasn’t blind.

“No-no-no-no-no, you don’t see.” Tony lifted his head, tapping the end of Steve’s nose with his fingertip. “No seeing. Like everything else in my convoluted dream world, it was wrong. Off. Not right. Okay, wait. I didn’t mean I’m lumping her in with Syndrome and breakable suits and Tony Brain-light. I love Pepper. I always will. I’ve never lied about that. What I mean is, it wasn’t us. Pepper and me. Pepper left me long before the Battle. And a big part of it was the Iron Man thing. Makes sense, then, the stuff about blowing the suits up for her, for me, whatever. Pulling out the arc reactor. Trying to be what I’m not, you know?” Yeah, actually, it did kind of make sense now that he analyzed  it. “There was a time I thought who I was was wrong. Okay, correction, most of my life I thought who I was sucked. When Pepper left, I thought it more. I’m trying to say I see, now. The wrong thinking. Iron Man isn’t another way to hide from Tony Stark. You know that, right? Iron Man saved Tony Stark. Iron Man brought out the best in Tony Stark. Yinsen told me not to waste it, and I didn’t.”

“Sweetie, you’re so tired.” Steve cupped his cheek, his eyes filled with love, shaded by confusion.

“I know I’m babbling, but hear me out. Please. Iron Man is Tony Stark. And Tony Stark is Iron Man. I can’t blow him up or rip metal out of my chest to change that truth. You get it. You get me. You’ve always gotten me, Steve. Do I tell you that enough? Do I ever really say thank you, not just for loving me, but for making it okay for me to love me, the me I am, not a me anyone else thinks I should be? Tony Stark: The good, the bad, and the fucked up. Scarred and eccentric and infuriating and utterly imperfect. You hang in there with all of them.”

Steve’s smile was mushy and sweet, the one only Tony ever got to see. “There’s only one Tony Stark. And he’s mine. Dreams be damned.”

The cursing was a dead give-away, so Tony wasn’t surprised when Steve surged, neatly flipping them, depositing Tony on his back where a fully awake Captain America-size erection tried to drill a hole in his stomach. Tony was more than ready. Steve had already loved him tenderly and thoroughly earlier, but he needed more.

“Yours,” he agreed, reaching his hand behind Steve’s head to grab a fistful of hair and yank. “Show me.”

“Sure?” Steve asked breathlessly against his ear, his cock sliding downward to brush against Tony’s, which was eager and waiting. “Doesn’t have to be that. You know I’ll do anything you want.”

“And you know what I want,” Tony grinned wickedly. “So stop stalling.” He slapped Steve’s ass, the sound echoing around them as Steve’s head jerked back and he glared at Tony. His eyes were dark with need, his body bristling at the challenge, but he didn’t make a move, hesitation writ clearly on features that were as easy for Tony to read as the discarded book on the floor. Tony did his best to wipe the lust from his face, wanting his words to sound sincere. “I’m sure.”

Tony had taken a little time earlier to clean up, and he knew everything was copacetic in the ass region. Steve had been really gentle in the aftermath of his fright-mare–and Tony had been too depleted to ratchet anything up to wild-animal-level on the sex-o-meter scale. He was way better than good-to-go right now, but Steve looked dubious. Reaching for the tube that was still open on the nightstand, he extended it towards Steve. “Check for yourself.”

Steve had never truly hurt him and Tony knew he never would, but Steve didn’t have as much blind faith on that score. Being bigger and a gazillion times stronger, he was always triple-extra careful. Took a bit of time for the genius to realize the best way around Steve’s conscience was not to cajole his lover into uncensored abandon, but to actually be trustworthy. When Steve trusted Tony not to do stupid shit to hurt himself (which, okay, maybe he was known to do once in a while) the whole thing became a win-win proposition for all concerned. Tony got what he wanted. Steve didn’t feel like a shit. Tony didn’t feel like a bigger shit for making Steve feel like shit. And his odds of getting what he wanted next time increased exponentially. Yup. Simple math.

Stoked with righteousness, Tony bent his knees, spread his legs, and rested his head upon his palms, interlocking his fingers behind his neck.

“Okay,” Steve grinned, squeezing out a huge dollop of lube as he repositioned onto his knees.

The last thing Tony expected was a jelled finger thrust practically to his brain stem in one swift move, though, in hindsight, it was a wicked-smart test. If he had been sore or torn, he still could have braced and played himself through some sweet, tentative, exploratory touches, but there was no defense to his super soldier’s full-out, sneak attack. Thankfully, he didn’t need one. There was no pain to writhe from, no aching squawk to conceal. He did gasp, his every organ, sexual and otherwise, coming to complete attention, his hunger jumping from a 3.9 to a full-out 10 on the Richter scale.

“Holy fuck!” he groaned, hands flying from behind his head, reaching for Steve. “Kiss me, you sexy son-of-a-bitch!”

Steve eagerly leaned in to kiss him, his own mouth wet and hot. Tony was happy to be swallowed whole while he rode that finger, only whimpering when it was no longer enough. Steve obliged with a second finger, but no amount of fingers was going to cut it as far as Tony was concerned. Still, he was patient—oh, for at least a minute, two, tops. Then he was biting Steve’s lower lip in between pleas as he reached for Steve’s weeping cock.

“Please . . . come on, baby-blue. It’s you I need. All of you. Said you’d never leave me, remember? Show me. Remind me who I belong to.”

“To-nee.” Tony’s name was moaned over, like, thirteen syllables as Steve’s voice shattered. Tony didn’t have to do a thing after that, surrendering to this amazing man who, because of some astounding fluke in the universe, was brought here to love him.

He only had to endure the agony of emptiness for about ten seconds while fingers were removed, and replaced by something way fucking better. His body opened, yielding eagerly, already primed from their earlier loving. And when he was teeming with the fullness he never wanted to lose, Steve took possession of his hips and rocked back on his knees, lifting Tony onto his lap. Perfect position. Face to face. Able to kiss; able to see the damp pools of love reflected in the most stunning blue eyes.

Tony wrapped his arms around Steve’s neck, and Steve pulled Tony’s legs around his torso. Locked. Yes. He needed to be locked against Steve, an embrace too powerful to be broken. Steve was his anchor, the solid presence that kept him from spinning off into the frenzy of his own mind. But Steve was also the strong wind that allowed him to fly higher and farther than he ever had, never trying to stifle who he really was.

“Love you, cutie,” Steve moaned into his mouth as he lifted Tony up, then pressed him down onto that sweet meat, filling him, opening his body and his soul. Tony went boneless, surrendering blissfully to the firm hands on his hips controlling his every movement. Up and down, filled to the brim, then released, only to be consumed again a second later, Tony’s mind went as quiet as his body, a state of ultimate, inner peace he had never known before Steve. His head fell back, Tony letting out a long, luxurious groan as he breathed the only words that mattered, the only thought coherent enough to express.

“You’re not allowed to stop loving me. Ever.”

Steve’s muscled pelvis only broke the pounding rhythm for a split second as he muttered, “Deal.” 

 

~0~0~0~

 

Steve was the one who came first, almost apologetically, but it was fine. Tony was pretty freaking spent by the time they reached that point, though he would have never admitted it. Something that felt like a junior orgasm sputtered out of his wasted body as Steve laid him back against the pillows, still inside, not fully soft yet. Good. If Tony was debilitated enough to have to succumb to sleep, he felt safer doing it with Steve inside him.

His eyes were fully closed when he felt Steve’s lips upon his forehead, heard his ragged whisper in his ear. “Going to get a towel and clean you up.”

“No,” Tony protested with what energy he had left, locking his fingers around Steve’s wrist. “Don’t go away.”

“All right, sweetheart. Whatever you want.”

Which was Steve-speak for ‘I’ll just wait until you fall asleep and then I’ll clean you up because that’s what’s best for you,’ but Tony didn’t mind. He kind of liked it, actually. The way Steve took care of him. The way he took care of Steve. It all worked real well. Made sense. The fucked-up dream hadn’t made any sense. Maybe in different world, one where Tony Stark hadn’t been smart enough to recognize a good thing when he found one.

A world he had no fucking desire to live in.

It is a wonderful life, Tony Stark.

 

~0~0~0~