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Always Be Prepared

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Natasha examined the device, measuring it between her fingers. She shook her head. “It’s too big for me to reliably swallow.”

Tony waved a dismissive hand. “They would check the back of your mouth for a string, and no way these assholes aren’t going to perform a body cavity search on you.” He gave her an apologetic look. She shrugged with an alarming lack of concern that made Steve’s blood boil. He wanted to track down every single person who’d ever made her unconcerned about the possibility of being so thoroughly violated, and do a whole host of things that wouldn’t look very good on his Captain America jacket. He took a moment to calm the reaction down enough that he could trust his voice.

Clint fiddled with an arrowhead. “Maybe I could— No.” He shook his head. “Never mind, they’ll run a scan of my quiver, for sure.”

Steve let out a heavy breath, straightened his shoulders and said, “I’ll take it.”

“No offense, Cap,” Tony responded, “But they’re going to go through your pockets. I mean, maybe you can get it through with a smile and some good ol’ fashioned All-American charm, but I kind of doubt it.”

Rolling his eyes, Steve said, “No one is going to perform a body cavity search on Captain America.”

All three of them stopped and turned to stare at him. Steve could feel his cheeks growing warm under their eyes. Natasha recovered the quickest, holding the device up against her fingers — wider than two of them, almost as long as her index finger. She shrugged again. “You could take it,” she agreed.

Tony made a soft noise against the back of his throat. If Steve had thought it was laughter, he might have had something to say about it, but it sounded smaller than that, more vulnerable. Recovering, Tony reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He thumbed through bills in a few different denominations, and then pulled out a condom and a thin rectangle with a slick substance inside. For one embarrassing moment, Steve thought it was some kind of candy syrup, but he saw that the label read Slick! Water based personal lubricant just in time to stop himself from noting that it was no time for snacks.

Seriously?” Clint asked, his voice caught somewhere between incredulous and impressed.

“I was a boyscout,” Tony said with unexpected honestly. Steve and Clint gave him uncertain looks and he rolled his eyes before he amended, “Only for a day. But I learned the motto and how to tie twenty-seven knots, so it counts.”

Shaking his head, Steve held out his hand for the items. Natasha handed the device over without so much as a batted eyelash, but Tony held onto the supplies. He jerked his head to the large bolder behind them, and just walked away, obviously expecting Steve to follow. Steve cleared his throat, but Natasha hiked an eyebrow at him.

“It will be faster and safer if you have help,” she said. “I can do it if you prefer.”

Steve firmed his jaw and shook his head, following Tony around the rock. It wouldn’t be the first time. During the War, he had occasionally smuggled papers and small items out of enemy territory this way, when it was too important to risk, when they were trying go for stealth and speed rather than blowing through enemy lines. They’d been caught twice, and in the brief span before they’d broken out of custody, Steve had found that even his enemies were unwilling to perform a body search on him, though they didn’t hesitate with the rest of the guys. He’d never gotten a satisfactory answer for why, but Bucky had teased that it was because his asshole was obviously so tight that they thought he’d snap their fingers off if they’d tried.  

Steve didn’t tell Tony any of that, just handed him the device and faced the rock. He heard the splash of water on the hard ground, Tony doing his best to wash his hands with limited supplies, and turned his face away from his friend, braced his chest on the rock, and reached down to unbuckle his belt. Tony remained silent while Steve eased his pants down to his ankles and spread his legs as far as he could without having to take off his shoes. He tilted his hips and waited. Even expecting it, Tony’s calloused hand on his ass made him jump. Tony didn’t say anything or jerk his hand away, but held it there with a firm, clinical pressure. Steve let his breath out like a sniper, slow and even, breathed back in, let it out.

“A little cold,” Tony warned, but it wasn’t really, the lubricant had been kept so close to Tony’s body that it was skin temperature. There was a blunt pressure at his anus and Steve tensed up without meaning to, body going tight from his shoulders to his thighs. Tony’s hand moved up to his low back, a comforting weight that helped Steve keep track of him. He relaxed slowly, and it pushed through the ring of muscle, a deep, stretching burn, but a familiar burn, too small to be the device. Steve wasn’t sure if he was more mortified or grateful when he realized it was Tony’s finger. He let his breath out in a short pant and rode through the stretch of it, letting Tony open him up, becoming accustomed to the pressure and weight. There was nothing sensual about his touch, but when Tony pushed a second finger in to join the first, he ghosted over Steve’s prostate. The unexpected zing of pleasure made him gasp and tighten around Tony’s fingers. Tony went still, not the frozen panic of a cornered animal, but just a lack of motion, waiting. Steve relaxed slowly, his muscles fluttering around Tony’s fingers, and Tony resumed the clinical process, twisting his fingers, scissoring them open, making an effort to avoid Steve’s prostate, even when Steve unconsciously tilted his hips to direct him toward that tiny hub of pleasure.

Closing his eyes tightly, Steve measured his breaths, counted his heartbeats, and reminded himself in a litany that this wasn’t sex, it was no more personal than a prostate exam, except that Tony’s hand was warm and heavy on his low back, his thumb rubbing circles on Steve’s tailbone, interrupting his concentration with every pass. Steve felt himself reacting to it, because it was Tony and he’d wanted it for so long, but there was also a mission to consider, and two of their sharp-eared teammates on the other side of the rock. Not to mention the hundred bad guys just two hundred yards down range. Steve muscled his body under control, and then Tony’s fingers withdrew and Steve heard the distinctive sound of a condom package ripping open. The sound was tied so closely to his pleasure center that Steve found himself shifting position and leaning back before he even consciously identified it, remembering a dozen such encounters, pressed to the nearest convenient surface and —

Get yourself together, Rogers, he chided himself sharply. This is not the time.

He turned his mind back to the mission, focusing on it in that single-minded way that made it easier to forget being tired, hungry, in pain, worried for his men, worried about Peggy, missing home so badly it made his ribs ache. All of that faded away and Steve’s mind turned to comfortable fog. He was relaxed and loose-limbed when Tony’s hand returned to his spine.

“Ready?” Tony asked, all the usual banter and quick jokes gone from his tone, his voice mellow and flat like Steve had never heard it before.

Steve nodded. When Tony didn’t move, he said, “Yes. Just do it.”

The shifting of gravel beneath Tony’s designer shoes — ruined now, after days of marching through the desert — and then the blunt pressure of Tony’s finger once more, the irregular shape of the device just below. Tony opened him up again with a fingertip, and then pushed the condom-wrapped device in just behind. The rectangular shape was instantly, bitingly uncomfortable, a sharp contrast to Tony’s clever fingers. Tony pressed the device up as far as he safely could, just far enough that Steve almost lost the sensation of it, and then withdrew his fingers. Steve shifted to bring himself upright once more, but Tony’s hand held him still. He was both surprised and grateful at the press of cloth wiping away excess lubricant, and relaxed back to the rock to let Tony clean him up. It was surprisingly intimate, the only moment in the experience when Tony’s touch was not simply clinical.

Patting him companionably on the ass, Tony stepped away and joked, “Guess I can scratch that off the bucket list.”

Steve was unexpectedly at ease as he pulled his pants back up and secured his belt. He turned to Tony with one eyebrow lifted. “Smuggling technology in my ass was on your to-do list?”

Tony just hummed. “Ass,” he said, and then winked, dispelling the odd, frustrating sense of hovering on a knife’s edge between strictly professional and blindingly erotic.

“Happy I could oblige,” Steve deadpanned. Tony snorted a short laugh, splashing more water on his fingers and using a strip of what Steve guessed was his undershirt to clean his hand off.

“Are we planning on leaving any time in the next month?” Natasha asked over the rock, and Steve flushed, remembering finally that he and Tony weren’t alone in this hostile wilderness. He ran his hands over his face to disguise the color and followed Tony back around the bolder.


“There are so many things about the last week that I could have done without,” Tony said on a long groan as they stepped out of the elevator onto the Avengers’ floor of the tower. “So many.”

Steve, feeling bruised and delicate inside, made a vague noise of agreement. “I can think of a couple to add to that list.”

“Bet you can,” Clint muttered.  

“Need any help?” Natasha asked in the same tone she would have used to offer him water.

Steve winced. “I think I can manage.” He would have been happier if they hadn’t spent six hours in an unfriendly holding cell, and then another five hours at a SHIELD facility, where Natasha had silently indicated that he wasn’t to reveal his cargo, followed by another three hours on a SHIELD transport home trying to pretend like he wasn’t squirming in his seat. It had gotten a lot more difficult the closer they were to home.

Sliding around Tony, Steve made a break for his bathroom. It was the worst part of the process, far more frustrating and embarrassing than having the item put in the first place. His body healed so fast that he’d already healed around it, and he ended up stretched out on a towel on the bathroom floor with one foot on the lip of the bathtub, hips spread out in what would have been a decadent position if he’d been having any fun with it. He cursed, bearing down on his own fingers, trying not to snap the condom, getting more frustrated and tense as the minutes passed.

A single knock sounded at the door. Steve bit off a string of curses that his mother would have washed his mouth out for, and collapsed back to the towel, panting and desperately unhappy with his body. He wanted the thing out, but he was horrified at the idea of breaking it when he’d gone through such horrible trouble to get it out of enemy territory in the first place.

“Okay in there, Cap?” Tony called through the door when Steve said nothing.

Steve considered telling him to just leave, or not saying anything at all – even Tony would eventually get the hint – but the silence on the other side of the door took on an anxious quality. He imagined Tony breaking down the door to find him sprawled on the floor with his fingers up his ass, and it wasn’t as pleasant an image as it would have been normally.

“Still alive,” he responded finally.

“Need some help?”

If he’d sounded at all uncertain or embarrassed, Steve would have sent him away, but Tony sounded just as casual as Natasha had, just as profession as he had at the rock. Steve sighed deeply, briefly covered his face with hands, and folded his knees back together.

He took a second to wipe the sweat off his forehead, and said, “Come in.”

The door opened immediately and Tony paused in the doorway, pulling in a short breath. Steve wondered what he looked like to Tony, naked and sprawled in such a vulnerable position, flushed red and damp with sweat, arms splayed out by his head. He could imagine what he’d be feeling if he walked in on Tony in a similar position, every guilty fantasy he’d ever entertained about his friend boiling to the surface, driving his pulse up, sending a shudder rippling down his spine.

They stared uncertainly at each other for several long seconds, Steve shifting uncomfortably on the towel, Tony seemingly stuck in place like a bot that had lost its connection to Jarvis. The moment hovered in that gray area stretching between familiar and unknown, Steve waiting for Tony to crack a joke that would break the tension, Tony unsettlingly quiet, his eyes like fire on Steve’s skin. The seconds stretched to an increasingly uncomfortable minute, and Steve realized that Tony wasn’t going to speak first. It would have been easier to just ask him to leave, but the last fifteen minutes of fruitless struggling made it clear that he needed help if the device was going to come out in one piece.

“Guess you did put it in. Only fair,” Steve said into the thick stillness to get him moving. Tony unfroze, expression shutting down immediately, taking on the aspect of professional politeness. He set a bottle of whiskey on the floor, dropped a bottle of lubricant next to it, and knelt by Steve’s hip. His hair was damp and he was dressed in a pair of gray sweatpants and a black tank top, looking ludicrously attractive under the muted golden glow of the bathroom lights.

“You know I can’t get drunk, right?” Steve asked, hiking an eyebrow at the bottle.

“That’s for me,” Tony told him, and illustrated by taking a sip. It was just a sip, Steve noted, barely enough to do more than moisten his lips, not the healthy swallow that it might have been a year before. He set the bottle back down and tapped Steve’s thigh. “Shift around.”

Steve obligingly lifted his leg and moved to put Tony between his knees. Tony gave him a clinical once-over and then twisted and pulled a second towel down from the rack, rolling it into a neat bundle to slip under Steve’s hips.

“What were you using to get this out?” he asked with the same curiosity he would have applied to an engineering problem. It was almost unsettling how comfortable Steve felt with Tony between his legs, looking down at him like he was one of the bots on the fritz, a piece of technology that needed repair. He did feel comfortable, but also exposed, his skin a sensitive mess of shivers, heat flushing across his chest and stomach in irregular patches.

“Petroleum jelly,” Steve admitted, gesturing to the tub sitting open at his shoulder.

Tony gave him an affronted look. “If I had lube to use on you out in the middle of the goddamned desert, you didn’t think to ask for more at home?”

“Didn’t really occur to me until I was already in here. Seemed like too much effort to get dressed again.” Steve shrugged, but he felt a flush of heat across his chest and neck. It actually hadn’t occurred to him at all, though it should have.

Tony snorted, stood to wet a soft towel, and then gently wiped away the greasy petroleum jelly. He winced in sympathy as Steve’s body tensed against the discomfort of the raw skin being further irritated, giving Steve an apologetic look under his lashes. Popping the cap on the lubricant, he poured a generous amount on his fingers and let it warm to body temperature. “I’m leaving this here with you,” he said, reaching down to run two fingers over Steve’s irritated skin. He flinched at the first touch of Tony’s fingers, but the slick lubricant soothed the abused flesh, and he relaxed all at once. It felt, admittedly, like heaven.

“I doubt this is something I’ll be doing often enough to need my own supply,” Steve said, pleased with how even his voice stayed, “But thanks.”

“There are plenty of useful things you can do with lube, Steve.” Tony glanced up, a hint of something dark flaring briefly through his professional mask that sucked the air of Steve’s lungs. The expression was banished and Tony looked away, focusing down on his hand. “Being ninety, you really should be giving yourself regular prostate exams,” he added with a mischievous look that startled a short laugh out of Steve.

Laying on his back with Tony gently easing his fingers into Steve’s battered body was not how he would have pictured a companionable scene, but it was an odd mix of the same relaxed friendship they’d fallen into over the last year, and the detached professionalism of earlier in the field. Steve couldn’t remember why he didn’t just ask for help in the first place, except that he’d never had help for this before. He winced as Tony got two fingers around the device and tugged.

“Jesus,” Tony muttered, frowning.

“Yeah…” Steve let his breath out slowly. “Been a while since I’ve done this.”

Darting a look at him, Tony asked, “How long?”

“Oh… seventy some years now, at least.”

Tony rolled his eyes, but his lips quirked up at one corner. He withdrew his fingers, squeezed more lube onto them and pushed back in, finding the device – and Steve’s prostate- immediately. Steve sucked in a breath and closed his eyes, blushing as his cock gave an interested twitch. That was different, Tony’s eyes on him while tried to keep his body under control. He clutched his hands in the towel to keep from hiding his face in his arms.

“Nothing to be ashamed of, you know,” Tony noted after a moment of tugging on the device, fingers unintentional nudging Steve’s prostate with every shift. “You’re built to feel pleasure there.”

Steve opened his eyes to look up at Tony, realizing that it must look like he was ashamed of taking pleasure from a man’s fingers up his ass. He laughed, a warm sound that felt good in his chest, and had a secondary effect of pushing just the right muscles. The device slid free and Steve groaned in heartfelt relief.

“I know it’s okay,” he said when Tony stood immediately and stepped over Steve’s leg to the sink, the line of his shoulders betraying tension, maybe believing that Steve was laughing at him, “I’ve known it was okay since before the serum.” He propped himself up on his elbows, catching Tony’s eye when the other man glanced over his shoulder down at Steve. Swallowing hard, pulse catching in his throat, Steve casually continued, “Give me about an hour and maybe I’ll show you how okay I know it is.”

Tony didn’t answer his terribly awkward line. He tore the device out of the condom and set it carefully aside before tossing the latex away and picking up the soap. Steve stayed where he was, waiting for Tony to process his words, to decide that he wasn’t joking. It might have been completely on purpose that he let his knee fall back to the floor, exposing himself in a way that made him feel so wanton, but it was exciting and wonderful too.  Tony’s breath came out in a slow, shuddering stream as he wet a clean washcloth and knelt once more between Steve’s knees. He didn’t look up at Steve’s face, but he was lovingly gentle as he cleaned away the mess of lubricant and Vaseline.

“Let me grab you some clothes.” He shifted back to stand up, but Steve caught his wrist and pulled himself up to a sitting position. The slight twinge at the shift was easily hidden, and Steve watched Tony carefully as he leaned forward and set a kiss on the side of Tony’s mouth.

“I was going to take a shower,” he said softly, “You could join me.”

A fine shiver passed through Tony’s frame. “I thought you said to give you an hour?”

“I think we’re both more creative than that, Tony.”  Steve’s smile felt fragile on his face, but it felt good there too, lighter and easier than most of his smiles. He reeled Tony back into his chest, slanting his mouth across his friend’s, and whimpered low in his throat as hands that had been so sure and firm on Steve’s body earlier settled uncertainly on his hips. Tony’s fingers twitched on his skin and then tightened to a needy grip as he pushed into Steve’s mouth.

Steve pulled away reluctantly, leaving them both flushed and panting. He would have stayed there all night, but he was sore, aching in unpleasant ways, and carrying half the desert on his skin. “Shower,” he prompted.

“Shower,” Tony agreed, mouth curling into a smile.


Steve felt warm and loose as he followed Tony out of his bedroom almost an hour later. He was amazed at the change in Tony’s body language, the way his shoulders relaxed, his arms swinging free at his side, knees and hips loose to give him a gliding sort of swagger. It was fascinating to watch him move with such a newly intimate understanding of his body – the slight difference in the arch of his feet making his left foot fall heavier, the knot of muscle under his left shoulder blade that Steve had massaged into putty ten minutes before making his shoulders even, the dip at the base of his spine that was perfectly shaped for Steve’s lips. It made him realize how much tension Tony normally carried in his shoulders and back, and he had to fight away the smug smile at the thought that he put that wonderful relaxation in Tony’s limbs.  

They found Natasha and Clint in the communal kitchen, Clint standing at the stove in a purple-and-white polka dot apron, Natasha idly cleaning her favorite Beretta at the kitchen counter. She looked up, saw Steve, and casually closed her box of cleaning supplies as if he hadn’t seen them.

“No gun oil at the counter,” Steve said anyway. She snorted, rolled her eyes, but folded the cloth around the gun and took it to couch. Steve pulled the device out of his pocket and held it out to her. “I cleaned it with rubbing alcohol — best I could do without putting it under water.” She took it without hesitation, turning it over to examine it more closely. Steve had examined the device himself, curious about the thing he’d carried in his body for most of the day, but it didn’t have any secrets to give him.

“So that’s what you two were doing in there for an hour?” Clint guessed slyly from the kitchen, giving them a knowing look as he stirred a pot of spaghetti sauce.

Steve smiled benignly back. “Oh, no,” he corrected, “We were having sex in the shower.”

“Good sex in the shower,” Tony added without even a blink of hesitation over the announcement.

Clint stared at them for several seconds, wide-eyed, a blush staining his cheeks. Steve could sympathize – fair skin showed color so easily, betraying every emotion on flesh. Clint wasn’t as fair as Steve, but he still made a good showing of it.

“So many more details than I needed,” he said finally.

“Don’t lie,” Tony replied with a snort. “You want to know every filthy detail with pictures if you can get them.”

Clint gave him a dirty look, but his flush stained a deeper red before he turned back to the stove. Making a lot of noise, he grabbed plates out of the cupboard and loaded them with pasta, ladling a thick meat sauce over the piles before bringing them back to the counter. Steve took his plate with a smile and slid gingerly into the seat next to Tony, brushing his hand over the back of Tony’s neck as he sat down. Tony shivered and leaned subtly into the touch, instantly drawing Clint’s attention. Steve took his hand away and turned his attention to his dinner. He could already tell that it was going to be difficult to keep his hands to himself, and he didn’t know how it could be so simple to fall into a place where putting his hands on Tony’s body with witnesses was easy. It was strange how not strange it was, the leap from best friends to something that was exactly the same, just with more orgasms. It should have been such a monumental step, but it felt natural.

Tony and Natasha tossed tech-speak back and forth, Steve listening with half an ear as he applied himself to his dinner with gusto, relaxing into the familiar sounds of Clint cleaning the kitchen. Before he’d even realized it, he’d finished the plate of spaghetti, while Tony still had half of his pile to go. Steve nudged Tony with his elbow to remind him to eat, which he did distractedly while Natasha theorized on who could have smuggled the device out of Russia.

Clint reach across the island with a damp hand and took Steve’s plate away from him before he got the last noodle off the plate. He refilled the plate, poured a glass of milk, and asked, “Need anything else?”

“No, thanks, I think that will do it.” Steve smiled appreciatively, cognizant that Clint and Natasha were going out of their way to mother him and Tony. It had made him uncomfortable at first, coming back from a mission and trying to retreat to his room to lick his wounds and miss his Commandos, only to be dragged out to the collective caretaking of his team. Over the last year, it had become soothingly normal.  

Clint dumped the rest of the pasta in a Bruce-sized Tupperware, put a sticky note on it with the message, Bruce – eat it or else. <3 Clint.  He added a stick figure drawing of himself with his tongue sticking out and showed it to Steve for his approval. Steve nodded, grinning around his fork.

“When is Bruce supposed to be back?” he asked, twisting up another mouthful of spaghetti. Clint leaned around the fridge door and looked at the encoded notes. They would be nonsense to anyone who did the near-impossible and broke into the Avengers’ home, but Clint only took a moment to glance through them.

“Sometime later tonight, probably.”  

“I’m turning on The Croods,” Natasha called from the couch, and Steve glanced over as the opening music blasted from the speakers. Normally, Steve made it a point not to watch the television while he ate – food was something that he appreciated, and he liked to take the time to actually enjoy it – but it was one of his favorite movies, and he saw no reason not to indulge in being taken care of when his team was going out of their way to comfort him.

Tony leaned over to nudge him with one shoulder. “Eat faster,” he suggested.

Steve took his time winding up another bite and Tony rolled his eyes at him. He gobbled down the rest of his food and took his plate to the sink to wash it out while Steve finished his pasta. He’d barely set the plate down when Tony appropriated it to add to the dishwasher, waiting for Steve to finish his milk to put the glass away as well. Steve watched Tony rinsing out and putting the dishes away. He wanted to ask if Tony was really alright after the ordeal, but Tony seemed genuinely relaxed and happy in a way that made Steve reluctant to break the spell. He decided he could at least wait until they were alone to test those particular waters.

Tony flipped out the lights in the kitchen and they joined Natasha and Clint on the couch, Tony moving into his space as if they cuddled on the couch every night, as if it was part of their normal post-mission routine. Clint tucked in close to his other side and Steve realized that it was normal – so normal that he’d missed it happening for months.

“Thank you,” he said softly into a lull in the music. A round of dismissive humming was his only response, but it was more than enough. He pulled Tony closer to his side, leaning his head over to rest on Tony’s hair, and was asleep within the hour.