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Sheriff's Watch

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The night was hot and still. He should be sticking to his bed sheets, sweat sticking his hair to the back of his neck. Instead, an improbable cool breeze flowed through, keeping the room temperate. Steve scrubbed at the back of his neck, hairs standing on end. Someone was watching him.

"What are you doing? Come back to bed."

Steve turned to the source of the mumbled words, smiling faintly at the sight that greeted him. Mr. Stark--Tony--was sprawled out on his bed, hair mussed every which way. Even his usually tidy mustache was akimbo, hairs split and twisted.

Steve crossed his arms over his bare chest, hands holding lightly at his forearms. "What's keeping the house so cool? I don't hear a fan running."

Tony smiled the way he always did when Steve noticed one of his inventions: too pleased, but trying not to show the extent of it. Steve saw, though. Tony closed his eyes and relaxed back against his pillow, still smiling.

"That's because there isn't. It's the design of the house. I based it off termite mounds."

"Termite mounds?" Steve's eyes drifted up, taking in the vaulted ceilings of the first floor, the position of the windows. It wasn't obvious just to look at it.

"'Stark climate control'," Tony declared, gesturing with one hand like he was headlining a marquee.

"'Home air management," Steve shot back. Tony scowled, eyes still closed, and dropped his hand.

Pacing leisurely around the home, Steve examined the various contraptions and wonders. A clock that ticked away the orbit of the planets was tucked away on a middle shelf. A wheel suspended by nothing between two arms--no axles touching it--sat shoved between a chair and a chifferobe. Beneath a pile of books, a toy box with a tin soldier raising and lowering his hand in salute, over and over again, in perpetuity. Steve could spend days, weeks in Tony's house, pouring over his scrapped inventions and distracted oddities. And Steve was just some Sheriff, a dumb kid from back east who'd done enough in the war to merit something like respect. He couldn't imagine what Tony's house must look like to someone with more learning than he.

Steve drew in front of one of Tony's windows. It was made of glass thinner and clearer than Steve had ever seen in person. It almost looked like stained glass his mother had told him about when he was a boy, back in the Cathedrals in Ireland. At least, this was how Steve had pictured stained glass to be, minus the colors: thin as an angel's breath, clear as the night sky in the country. Steve looked through the glass, out at the gas lamp glowing steady just at the end of Tony's drive. Steve knew those lamps lit the way straight back to town, a beacon for anyone to follow. Announcing that all were welcome. Frowning, Steve tried to spot the second and third lamp in the train. He couldn't. Must be a tree or bush overgrown on the sight line. He'd check it out in the morning, when he walked back to town.

Having looked his fill--though never enough, enough would take years of careful scrutiny and classification--Steve stepped back over to the bed. As his thighs brushed against the mattress, Tony smiled and rolled to the side, making space for him. Steve took a moment to watch him: take in the scruff on his chin that he would shave away in the morning, the tangle of his mustache that he would comb and wax to careful neatness. Bending down, Steve brushed a hand through Tony's nest of hair on his head and pressed a kiss to his lips. Tony's mustache tickled as he smiled into the kiss. One hand came up to drag Steve down, back onto the mattress with him.

Steve bounced lightly, marveling not for the first time at Tony's bed. This time, however, his arousal was lazy enough, his body sated enough that he felt he had the time to ask. "What is your mattress stuffed with?" Steve wondered, as he ran a hand down Tony's arm. He would have to ask Mr. Barton to order some proper paints for him. So he could paint Tony like this. Smiling and relaxed, dark with hair going every which-way. Still, for once: just about the only time he went still. Wasn't a blur of movement racing from one thought to the next.

"The 'Stark-bed'-"

"No."

"-isn't 'stuffed' with anything. It's a series of coiled springs screwed into a sheet of wood. "

Steve frowned, bouncing his hips experimentally. "Metal springs?"

"Yup."

"Why doesn't it hurt?"

Tony smiled, mustache curling up. "Surface area."

Steve considered that. "Math."

"Math," Tony confirmed.

Unable to help himself, Steve leaned in and kissed Tony again. Their tongues slid over each other lazily, lips sucking lightly at each other. Steve hummed into the kiss, his hand stroking more firmly at Tony's thigh. Tony broke the kiss only so he could nuzzle significantly at Steve's cheek, his neck.

"You're insatiable, Sheriff." His voice was a rumble, deep with arousal. Steve's breath hitched in his throat at the sound, own body quickly growing to meet the situation at hand.

"As if you are not in kind," Steve shot back. But it lacked the heat of accusation, thanks in large part to Tony's skilled hand slipping between them. Steve squirmed, feeling something high-pitched and needy tickling at the back of his throat. He tamped down on the noise.

"Do you want me to use my mouth on you again?" Tony asked. Steve lost the battle against his own vocal chords, an affirming whine bubbling out of him before he could stop it. His face burned, he slapped his arm over it.

Tony only smiled against Steve's throat, pressing little kisses there. His hand was working Steve's body steadily, relentlessly, not giving Steve a chance to catch his breath and compose himself.

"I know you liked that." With one last quick kiss (that Steve was barely able to return, caught off-guard), he slid his way down Steve's body. He gave Steve's nipples a quick bite, making Steve hiss and buck. They were still sore from earlier. Tony rubbed his hand soothingly over Steve's chest, blunt fingernails scraping through Steve's chest hair.

"So much like a woman," Tony teased him.

"You stop telling lies, Mr. Stark," Steve bit out.

"Why, is that a bad thing?" Tony stopped over Steve's hips. Steve peeked out from under his arm just long enough to confirm that Tong was laughing at him. "Feel like your friend Ms. Danvers would take issue with you on that."

Steve groaned and dropped his arm back over his eyes. "My apologies."

Tony was playing with Steve's arousal in earnest now, rolling it between his hands and pulling the foreskin back to expose the bulbous head. Steve shivered. Tony bent his head down and lapped absently at it, like this wasn't something strange and new and... debasing, if not wholly appreciated. Steve gripped Tony's bedsheets with one hand and clenched his other into a fist. "You can tell her yourself," Tony commented, lifting his head from Steve but keeping his hands moving. "After all, it's Ms. Danvers you should make your apologies to. I'll explain the situation to her tomorrow, give her some context-"

"Would you just-" In a fit of exasperation, Steve finally lifted his arm from his face so he could grab at Tony's hair, pushing him back down on Steve's member.

The action caused Tony to gasp and grin. His eyes flickered up to meet Steve's, something dangerous glimmering in them. Steve swallowed against a hard wave of arousal. Tony kept his head up, just enough pressure back on Steve's hand. Tony quirked an eyebrow, his mustache twitched. Steve's mouth went dry.

Forcefully, Steve pushed down on Tony's head, dragging his mouth level with Steve's groin. Tony grunted, and the sound of it shot through Steve like a bullet through a doe. He twitched, hips coming up to press his arousal against Tony's face. Tony's eyes fluttered closed as Steve's hard length wiped across his cheek, leaving a trial of moisture behind. Steve and Tony both groaned in unison.

"Take me in your mouth," Steve growled, growing into his role.

"Make me," Tony told him, even though his mouth was already open with desire, his eyes closed against it.

Bringing both hands up to bear on Tony's head, Steve tugged him more firmly, pulling him onto his hard flesh. Tony's mouth wrapped around him, low moan working its way up as Tony bobbed over Steve's hardness. Steve's hands held him in place, forearms flexing as he guided Tony up and down. Tony went like a professional, like one of the girls at Ms. van Dyne's brothel, but he put up just enough resistance to make Steve work at it, make Steve force his head down every time. Steve groaned, body responding enthusiastically.

Steve was ready to spill before long, too aroused by such a new act, and such a... this damned mock-fight with Tony, whatever on earth that was. Steve's hands stopped tugging at Tony's head and started tapping, warning him.

"Tony, Tony..."

But Tony shook his head and kept going, kept sucking at him. Steve's face reddened as he tamped down on the urge to spill.

"Tony, hurry, Tony..."

Tony acted like he was struck deaf and dumb. He just kept going, and short of hauling Tony bodily off him, Steve would have to spill in his mouth. Steve felt every inch of his skin heat as it turned red, caught between an instinctive disgust and shocking desire to go through with the act, to give Tony exactly what he wanted.

Steve spilled with a shout, hand one hand tightening in Tony's hair as his body, unburdened by the conflict in his mind, pushed himself deep inside the wet warmth of Tony's mouth and held there. Steve's hips ground up against Tony's face, eyes securely closed as he held there against the last waves of his release.

As he came back to himself Steve found himself shaking. He pulled out of Tony's mouth and wiped gentle hands over his face.

"Sorry, Tony, I..."

Tony, just like Steve should have figured, licked his lips and sighed with a smile. "Sorry for what? Come here..."

Steve's twitched as Tony crawled up his body for a kiss. Tony smirked at him, bushy eyebrows raised. "What? Suddenly unattracted to me?"

Even though he tried to tamp down on the reaction Steve still ended up wrinkling his nose. He sighed at himself. "I'd never even heard of this before you. Forgive me if some of the finer details take some getting used to."

Tony licked his lips. "Can't even taste it any more," he reassured Steve. "And it doesn't taste that bad to begin with."

Trusting Tony, Steve allowed himself to be dragged into a kiss. The kiss deepened until Steve found himself panting beneath Tony, clinging to him in post-coital lassitude.

Once he caught his breath, Steve reached down between Tony's legs. The other man shook his head and shrugged when Steve's hands found a flaccid length.

"More than once isn't really an option for me anymore," he told Steve. He winced, smile not meeting his eyes. "Whiskey took care of that for me."

Steve considered that, hand still rubbing gently over the soft skin. "I could still put my mouth on you. Even if nothing happens."

Tony's self-deprecating smile softened to something more genuine. After a moment he shook his head, moving his hips closer to Steve. "Don't worry about it. This, what you're doing: that's enough. Save your mouth for a time when I can appreciate it."

Keeping his hand on Tony, Steve leaned in and pressed a kiss to Tony's lips. "I'll have to keep this in mind," Steve mused. "For future reference. Make the first one count." Squeezing Tony's member more firmly, Steve murmured "or make you hold off until I'm on my second."

Tony snorted, whiskers flying out to tickle Steve's nose. "Sounds like the sort of well thought-out plan of action I'd expect from a man with your history."

Steve sighed and didn't address that. Lifting his arm, Steve wrapped it around Tony to pull him close. And thought about how Tony's house was temperate enough to allow them to hold each other like this, even in the middle if summer.


Steve closed the door on Mr. Barton, gut cold with warning. Turning back into the station, Steve's steps were measured, spurs clinking out a slow beat as he considered the evidence before him.

"Who was that?"

Steve retook his seat across from Deputy Wilson, picking up his hand. He shook his head and set them back down. "Deal again. You peeked."

Deputy Wilson laughed and didn't deny it. He took the cards from Steve and shuffled the deck.

"So? Who was it? Or was it our handsy blacksmith and I'm better off not knowing?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Steve grumbled. They hadn't talked about whether or not they were publicly stepping-out yet or not, and Steve wasn't about to gossip with Deputy Wilson without discussing it with Tony first. Even if it seemed like everyone had known practically before he himself had.

Deputy Wilson hummed. "Yeah, and you gave yourself that beard-burn you're sporting."

"It was Barton," Steve answered as Deputy Wilson dealt the cards.

"Mr. Barton? What's he want? A marriage license for that girl tagging after him?"

"You know he wouldn't." Steve drummed his fingers on the desk as Deputy Wilson dealt. "Him and Ms. Bishop think they saw something this morning. Out on the plains."

Deputy Wilson snorted as he peered at his hand. "When isn't there something out there?"

Steve thought about how Mr. Barton had said it wasn't something, but nothing. Then he thought about Tony's gas lamps and how two were missing, last night. How he'd walked that road this morning and no trees or bushes blocked that sight line. He thought about how Ms. Danvers had been on edge lately, how Mr. Maximoff's runs were somehow faster but longer than ever. He thought about the smell in the air in the morning, before the sun came up. The silence as the sun set. And he thought about where he'd caught that scent before. Heard that brand of silence.

"Deputy... are we at war?"

Deputy Wilson frowned at him. "Not unless you received some telegraph I haven't." After a moment, Deputy Wilson set down his cards and gave Steve his full attention, expression serious. "We won the war, Sheriff. You thinking we have another to fight?"

Steve licked his lips, tasting the air. Not really looking at Deputy Wilson as he considered. "I don't know, Deputy. Last time we were at war, we knew it was war. We were told. This time... There's this feeling, like wartime. Only, nobody told me to saddle up."

Deputy Wilson shook his head, picked up his cards. "I sure hope you're wrong."

Steve turned and glanced out the window of the station, watching the heat of the day start to rise over the plains. Tony's gas lamps were dark in the morning light. "I do too, Deputy Wilson." Steve's fingers drummed, drummed, drummed on the desk between them. He looked back at Deputy Wilson. "But I think maybe we should take to arming ourselves. And investigating."

"Arm ourselves how? Investigate what?"

Steve rubbed his fingerpads over the smooth wood of his desk. "Mr. Stark'll take care of the how. You know he can." Sam didn't deny that. Tony had armed most the damned town, whatever weapons they didn't have themselves when they washed up in Rescue. "And as for the what: we're investigating nothing, Deputy Wilson." Steve scowled. "Nothing."