May 4, 2012
"There's someone I'd like you to meet."
Steve closed the book, keeping his finger between the pages to mark his place in A Recent History of The United States: World War II to Present. Nick Fury was leaning against the cinder-block wall of Steve's sub-basement living quarters, staring at him with a half-hitch to his mouth that might have been a smirk or a grimace of pain. He could never tell with Fury.
"If you tell me you've managed to bring back Jesus Christ, I'm done. Meeting one god was damaging enough to my ego."
"Oh, this one's not a god. He only thinks he is. But you'll want to meet him. I have a feeling you'll have... a lot to talk about."
Steve tore a corner off the sheet of paper on which he'd been making notes and tucked it into the book. "Well, it'll be nice to get out of here. After all, how bad can it be? It's not like I'm about to meet Superman." He smiled, amazed that even after all the decades that had passed, there was still one thing he could use to find common ground with the people from this strange new world.
Comics were ageless.
Steve had felt on edge the instant they left SHIELD headquarters; the feeling only increased in intensity when he stepped into the apartment. Everything looked so... alien and uncomfortable. Just the thought of sitting on the furniture made his back ache in protest. "Someone actually lives here?" he muttered, keeping his voice low enough that Fury wouldn't be able to hear him.
"Welcome, Captain Rogers," a pleasant voice said, seeming to come at him from every corner. "In answer to your query, the apartment is currently home to two individuals, Pepper Potts and Tony St--"
"Thank you, JARVIS, I'll take over from here," Fury said, speaking smoothly over the voice.
"Who--?" Steve whirled in a circle, looking for the person who belonged to the voice. All he could see was the dull reflection of himself and Fury in polished steel, mirrors, and glass.
Fury made a gesture that encompassed the entire room. "Captain Rogers, JARVIS is... ah. Hmm. I think we'll wait a bit on that. For now, just think of JARVIS as a butler of sorts. JARVIS, we're going down to the lab. Please inform Mr... Tony."
"As you wish, Director Fury."
Again, Steve looked around the room, trying to pinpoint where JARVIS was. It made the hair on the back of Steve's neck stand up to know that there was someone in the room he could only hear and not see. He followed Fury to the steps, but couldn't quite bring himself to turn his back on the invisible JARVIS while descending them. He turned and went down sideways, keeping his back to the wall.
A snort of laughter caused his hackles to rise again, until he looked and realized that Fury wasn't paying him the least bit of attention. Instead, he was looking through a glass wall and shaking his head. Steve followed his gaze and felt his stomach clench in horror.
Through the transparent wall, Steve watched as a man was pulled limb from limb by giant robotic arms. He didn't wait to see more; the handle on the glass door stuck for less than a second before Steve simply turned it with all his strength. Twisted metal and live wires ripped free of the door and fell to the floor when Steve yanked it open. Three quick steps had him at eye-level with the man under torture, and Steve took a moment to assess the situation. He didn't want to do any more damage to the poor guy, but he had no idea where to start.
"How badly are you injured?" Steve asked, barely sparing a glance at the man's face as he tried to find some way to dismantle the murderous robots.
"Uh, hello? How'd you get down here? JARVIS?!"
The joints. He would just need to pull the robots apart at their joints, and he'd be able to get the man to a doctor. "Sir, just hold on one minute. I'll get you free, I just need to..." Something clicked in Steve's brain, and his eyes snapped up to the man dangling in front of him.
"Stark?!" But it couldn't be. Howard Stark couldn't be alive. Hope wasn't so easy to kill, however, and it flared so brightly in Steve that he almost went to his knees under the power of it.
"Yeah, that's me, in the flesh and Mark IV suit. Who are y—son of a bitch! Did you break my door? Pepper! This asshole broke my lab door!"
Steve's body half-turned toward Director Fury, but he couldn't quite take his eyes off the man in front of him. The guy looked so much like Howard Stark that reality felt like it was shifting under Steve's feet, but there was something about this man. Something that was just different.
"I'd like to introduce you to Tony Stark."
And that's when Steve saw it. The eyes were all wrong. Brown, not blue, and under the spark of his current anger was a world-weary sort of intelligence that bore little resemblance to the eager adventurer Steve remembered.
Reality was a bitch, and Steve felt slapped by it.
"Tony? What on earth...?"
Steve turned automatically toward the clear, feminine sound of that voice. A tall, elegant woman stood just on the other side of the destroyed door, surveying the damage with a look of incredulity.
"How did this happen? What did you do?"
"Pepper, you can't stay. I need you to get JARVIS to pull up the schematics for the security door. I won't be able to get any work done until I know I won't be interrupted."
"Oh please," Pepper said—and who named their daughter Pepper, for Pete's sake?—before turning toward the three men in the room. "Director Fury. How good of SHIELD to pay Stark Enterprises another visit. Tony, really? You're stuck in the suit? Again?" Turning toward Steve, the woman smiled warmly and held out her hand. "Honestly, I can't take him anywhere. You must be Captain Rogers. JARVIS informed me of your arrival."
Tony was still surveying the damage to his laboratory door with disgust when he heard Pepper introduce herself to their uninvited guest. His head snapped up and he stared for a moment, his mouth dropping open in shock. "Captain Rogers?" he asked, looking to Fury for an answer.
"The Star Spangled Man With a Plan, in the flesh." Fury spread his hands, looking far too pleased with himself.
Tony shook his head slowly, watching as his ex-fiancé chatted amiably with a real life super hero. "Project Rebirth? That Captain Rogers? Captain fucking America? But... there's no way. He's younger than me. Even with the effects of the serum, he should have aged to the equivalent of … forty-five or so. How does he still look like ordering a beer would get him thrown in jail?"
Fury scratched one hand over his bald head, somehow avoiding the band that kept his eye-patch in place. "That's an excellent question, Stark. One I'd like an answer to. And since you're the one with access to all your old man's files, I'd like you to find that answer for us. My people believe it has something to do with the fact that Captain Rogers has been encased in ice for the past seventy years."
"But you don't think so."
"I like to base my conclusions on hard evidence. Since SHIELD has been unable to find anything definitive, I'm not satisfied."
"God forbid. But if it's hard evidence you want..." Tony disengaged himself from Dummy and, trailing bits of his Mark IV suit, walked over to Rogers—Captain fucking America!—and held out one hand, subtly stepping between Rogers and Pepper until Pepper took the hint and retreated from the room. "Tony Stark, Captain Rogers. If I'm going to experiment with anyone, I'm very glad to know it's you." Tony ran his eyes down Roger's body, lingering purposefully on the wide chest and the bulge at his groin before returning to direct eye contact.
Rogers' eyes went wide, then wider still when he raised his own hand to shake Tony's. "You're Howard Stark's son."
"Well, I did have a mother too. I didn't spring fully-formed from the head of Zeus." If there was a small bite in Tony's tone, it obviously went right over Rogers' head, because his lips started twitching.
"I actually wouldn't be surprised to know that you had."
Tony rolled his eyes. "I see you've met our resident demi-god."
"Now, Stark," Fury said, breaking smoothly into their conversation, "you know Thor resents the 'demi' part."
"Of course he does." Tony turned toward Fury, noting the aura of impatience that surrounded him. "I take it you didn't just stop by to introduce the two of us?"
"No. Agent Coulson could have taken care of the introductions. I need that tracking chip you promised me."
Steve felt the shift in the atmosphere of the room with that seemingly insignificant announcement from Director Fury. Tony Stark's eyes lit up and he literally bounced on the balls of his feet.
"Oh, you want something from me. Well, I want something from you too."
Steve watched as Stark waggled his eyebrows at the Director and found himself in awe of the man's irreverence.
"Say it. Come on." Stark grinned and stepped toward Fury, invading the hell out of his personal space. He crossed his arms over his chest, pressing his forearms into the SHIELD director's abdomen. "No more super secret yet impossibly brilliant inventions from me until you say it."
Steve glanced back and forth between Fury and Stark, not sure exactly what the dynamic was here, or whether he'd be better off waiting outside. Stark was a loose cannon, but he was almost certain Fury could take him in a one-on-one battle. Almost.
"Oh, Fists of Fury knows what I want. Come onnnnn. Just say it."
Rolling his eyes—or rather, his eye; Steve had no idea what was really under the patch—Fury said, "Fine. I'm tired of these mother fucking snakes on this mother fucking plane. Now, can I pretty please have my five-and-a-half-million-dollar, one-of-a-kind computer chip?"
Stark picked up a clear cylinder and shook his head. "You make a really shitty Sam Jackson. I didn't believe that performance at all." Tossing the cylinder to Fury, Stark turned to Steve with a wide grin on his face. "But it was worth it."
"Sam Jackson?" Steve had never before felt so far out of his element, which, considering all he'd been through in his life, was saying quite a bit.
"Oh, big guy, we have got to get you out more often. I tell you what. You let me pour the best of the last thirty years of action flicks into your head, and we'll forget about the multi-million dollar security system you just ripped to shreds."
"Actually, Stark, that'll have to wait. I don't want him out in public until we know what spending the last seventy years tanning on the deck of the Titanic has done to him."
Stark shook his head, making a noise that sounded vaguely disapproving. "Come on, St Nick. Do you really have such little faith in me? We'll be watching all the movies here, of course. Besides, if he's going to become a part of your Avengers Initiative, Cap needs to catch up on modern warfare, wouldn't you say? And what better way to do that than with some shitty Michael Bay stuff?"
Steve held his hands up. "Stop. Please. You're making my head spin."
Eyes lighting up with humor, Stark said, "I generally have that effect on people."
A loud cough drew Steve's attention to Director Fury, who was stepping around the mess Steve had made of the door. "I'm leaving now, ladies. Stark, don't forget to run those tests. I want the results emailed to me first thing in the morning."
"I don't do anything first thing in the morning. You should know that."
"Then I guess you'd better run those tests tonight, huh?"
Steve watched as Fury disappeared up the stairs then turned back to Stark, who was staring at him oddly. Raising his eyebrows, Steve rocked back and forth on his toes, holding eye contact for as long as he could before looking away. "Uh. Nice place you have here?"
"Well, the lab is slightly more welcoming than the apartment, but Pepper insists that playboy billionaires have images to maintain."
"And Pepper is your… wife?"
A light laugh interrupted them. "Almost, but I managed to escape disaster by the skin of my teeth."
Steve started, whirling to see that Miss Potts had reappeared just behind him. "How did you do that?"
"Do what?" she asked.
"You're wearing high-heels. And you just came down metal stairs in them without making any sound. So how did you… sneak up on us? "
Stark stepped up beside him, tossing a consolatory arm across Steve's shoulders. "When you figure it out, let me know. I've got a million dollars riding on it."
Pepper's lips curved into an expression that was far too satisfied. "An efficient executive never reveals her secrets."
"What? I always revealed my secrets," Stark protested.
"Yes, and that's why I'm the executive now, and you're just a glorified computer technician. When you have time, Tony, there are some shareholder documents for you to sign. And Director Fury asked me to remind you that he's expecting those results within the hour."
Stark made a low noise. "Within the hour?! He said he wanted them first thing in the morning."
"Yes, but he knows all about your attention deficit issues. If you don't do it right away, you'll start tinkering with something else and forget all about it. Now," Pepper made a shooing motion with the hand not holding a thick folder, "go make yourself useful."
"Yes, mother." Sliding his arm down from Steve's shoulders and slipping it into the crook of Steve's elbow, Stark tugged until Steve followed him over to a desk piled high with blueprints and… wire-y things. "We'd better get this done."
Steve automatically started rolling up his sleeve, having had enough tests in the week he'd been living in this new world to know that nothing had really changed in the last seventy years so far as drawing blood was concerned.
"No, no," Stark said, stopping him. "I'll need you to take off all your clothes."
Surprised, Steve stopped fiddling with his shirt and stared at Stark. "What sort of tests are you planning to run?"
"Oh, I was just going to prick your finger for some blood for this first one, but I do like to enjoy the scenery while I work. You, old man, are what I consider top shelf scenery." Stark waggled his eyebrows, clearly enjoying how uncomfortable he was making Steve.
"You do know I could kill you with my bare hands, right?" Steve asked, almost ashamed of himself for the threat but not entirely sure how else to respond to Stark's blatant flirting.
"But you won't," Stark said, puffed up and proud of himself. "You are a classic good guy. I bet you stop fighting long enough to escort little old ladies across the street."
"That problem hasn't cropped up in any of my fights. They either took place in Brooklyn's darkest alleyways or in the war. There weren't a lot of little old ladies running around Hydra."
"Hydra… that was Johann Schmidt's organization, wasn't it? The Red Skull?"
Steve just nodded and held out his hand when Stark gestured for it. A small device was placed against his finger, and within seconds, a sharp pain raced up Steve's arm before dissipating into a tiny, throbbing ache. "What…?" He went to draw his arm back and without thinking pulled Stark—who hadn't released his hand—over the desk and into his lap.
"Well, hello there. That's usually my move, but I have no complaints." Stark wriggled his ass against Steve while batting his eyelashes.
"Be serious, Stark—"
"I just heard that you were almost married to Miss Potts—"
"So this game you're playing with me is pointless."
Stark went still for a moment, then began to smile; it was the first real smile Steve had seen on the man since they'd met. It completely transformed Stark, and that made Steve far more uncomfortable than anything else that had transpired.
"What you're implying is that, because Pepper and I were engaged for just over seventy-two hours, I can't be attracted to you? You really are from a forgotten age, aren't you? Let me give you your first lesson of the twenty-first century. Most people call it bisexuality; I call it equal opportunity. Why limit yourself to the pleasures to be found in one gender when there are wholly different—and still just as enjoyable—pleasures to be found in the other?" Stark slid easily off Steve's lap and went back around the desk, tapping his fingers in some random pattern over the glowing glass surface. "And when it comes to pleasure, my dear Captain Rogers, I have all the best toys."
Highly uncomfortable, and unsure how to respond to Stark's comments, Steve simply brought his finger to his mouth and sucked the drop of blood from it. The skin under the blood had already healed—his body could recover in mere minutes from gunshot wounds; the prick of a needle was nothing to him—but he needed something to do.
A groan drew his attention back to Stark, and he looked up, right into eyes gone nearly black with lust. Steve slowly lowered his hand, watching as Stark's eyes followed it.
He was in so much trouble.
"I'm in so much trouble," Tony said, pouring himself a whiskey. Almost immediately, Pepper snatched the drink out of his hand and placed a smoothie in it. Tony scowled at her, but tipped up the glass and took a long drink of the thick concoction. Mmm. Bananas.
"You're not allowed to seduce Captain Rogers, Tony. So just… go find someone else to spend your time with."
"Why can't I seduce him?"
Pepper stopped what she was doing and looked up at him, her eyebrows drawn almost into one line by the depth of her frown. "Tony, he's… not like you. The poor guy has been sleeping at the bottom of the Atlantic for seventy years. Do you have any idea how much things have changed in that time? I don't mean just… television and radio and rockets to the moon. I'm talking about everything. When he went into the ocean, schools were still segregated. Women, in general, didn't work outside the home in anything other than a secretarial capacity." Pepper paused and tilted her head to the side. "And maybe not even that?" She opened her iPad and began to type on it.
Tony scowled in reaction. "You know, my offer to build you a more efficient tablet is still on the table. You don't have to use that just because it's got a fruity little picture on it."
"But the fruity little picture reminds me of you, Tony." Pepper flashed him a smile which turned sheepish. "Besides. I couldn't bear to lose my Angry Birds progress."
Laughter burst from Tony. "I knew it! You like to pretend you're all work and no play, but Ms Pepper Potts actually does put her feet up on her executive desk every day, doesn't she?"
"Ms Pepper Potts doesn't talk about herself in third person. And… no, I never put my feet up. The desk is too high for it to be comfortable. Now, stop trying to think of ways to get Captain Rogers into your bed, and put your beautiful mind to the task of finding out what's wrong with him."
"There's nothing wrong with him." At Pepper's look, Tony shrugged. "Fury's people were right, to an extent. Actually, between the preservative effects of the freezing water and the regenerative processes built into the super soldier serum, he's… younger. By almost a year." At the look on Pepper's face, Tony smiled. "What's wrong, pretty lady? Are you, as the hipsters say, 'jelly'?"
"I'm so far beyond jelly that I'm jam. But actually," Pepper shook her head, "as much as I'd like to grow younger, I don't think I'd enjoy the Rip Van Winkle-esque nap it requires. Besides. Thirty is utterly fabulous on me."
"Thirty?" Tony hooted. "I guess you don't need that nap if you've got selective memory. Need another glance at your birth certificate?"
"Please. I happen to know you've already fixed the trifling matter of my year of birth. For which I never thanked you , so…" Pepper leaned over and planted a loud, smacking kiss on Tony's cheek. "Now, get back to work. Or whatever you consider work. I have a company to run."
Tony watched her walk away, fondness and a deep gratitude that their aborted relationship hadn't affected the ease of their friendship overwhelming him for a moment. "My company," he said, and received a less than ladylike gesture in return.
May 10, 2012
The top floor of a building exploded on the television and Steve watched in awe as a man leapt from it with no other safeguard than a firehose hastily secured around his waist.
"And this is... real? Did this happen?" Steve looked across the room at Tony, who was tinkering with something on a long bench. Tony glanced up and watched a few seconds of the movie before he shook his head.
"Nakatomi Plaza?" Tony laughed, but there was no mockery in it. "No, unfortunately. Just an action flick. If this were real, the world wouldn't need Iron Man or Captain America. We'd just call up John McClane and have him save the world for us."
Steve pushed the button on the remote to stop the movie and walked over to where Tony was sitting. "What are you working on?"
"Hmm? Oh, I'm trying to rework the flight stabilizers on the Mark VII suit. The Mark IV had the smoothest in-flight turning capability, but I think the reason for that is because the reactions were slower. With the Mark VII, I'm getting jerked around every time I want to turn. I want to incorporate the smooth turning of the Mark IV with the quick reaction of the Mark VII."
"What if you can't?"
Tony's hands went still, then he turned and speared Steve with a pseudo-haughty look. "I'm sorry, have we met? I'm Tony Stark, and I invented everything worth inventing for the last twenty years."
Rolling his eyes, Steve looked at the mechanism in Tony's hand. "If you take the stabilizers from the Mark IV suit and put them in the Mark VII suit, will it affect the reaction time?"
"Wow, pretty and smart. I had planned on rebuilding the stabilizers, but there's no reason not to try that first."
Steve grinned and was about to comment when he looked over at Tony and forgot what he'd been about to say. The way Tony was looking at him was far too intense for the nature of their conversation. "What?"
"Want to get out of here?"
Slumping against the work bench, Steve crossed his arms over his chest and shrugged, feeling every muscle in his body tighten at the thought of returning to the chaos that was the modern world outside these walls. "I thought we were going to watch movie reels. To catch me up, I mean."
Tony stood, continuing to stare at Steve, who did his best to avoid eye contact. "JARVIS, electronics off."
"Very good, sir. Shall I inform Mr. Hogan that you require his services?"
"Not tonight." Tony slapped Steve on the shoulder and said, "Come on. Time for you to stop hiding from the world. Besides, I've got a treat for you."
Steve raised his eyebrows, intrigued despite himself. "What kind of treat?"
Tony grasped the edge of the cloth that covered the car and watched Steve's face as he gave it a massive yank. The way Steve's jaw dropped and his eyes flared wide was far too satisfying. For a man who had absolutely no idea of the intense beauty of his own body, he clearly appreciated the elegant lines of the car.
Despite its history.
"Where did you get this?" Steve asked, his voice barely above a whisper as his hand hovered over the gleaming black surface. The vehicle that had only belonged to two people—Johann Schmidt and Howard Stark—growled throatily in return as it idled in Tony's garage, waiting to carry them all the way to hell if Tony was up for the drive.
"My dad brought it back from the war. It was the only car of his I never took for a joyride; even as a rebellious teenager, I knew it was too special to him. He used to talk about you, you know. I don't think he ever got over your disappearance. It was like he knew you weren't dead."
Steve's Adam's apple bobbed when he swallowed. "He was... a lot like you."
A harsh laugh ripped itself from Tony's throat. "Howard Stark? I doubt it."
"I just saw him two weeks ago; I think I'd remember," Steve said, his eyes pinning Tony in place. "He was a bit younger than you are now and he was... so much like you."
"Slightly more than two weeks ago, old man."
"Yeah. The hell of it is, I have to keep reminding myself of that. As far as I can tell, I lost Bucky three weeks ago and crash-landed a week later. Do you have any idea what that's like? They say I slept for seventy years. But I wasn't asleep. I watched the frozen seas coming at me at five hundred miles an hour and then I blinked and it was 2012. Seventy years gone in literally the blink of an eye. I didn't dream, I didn't feel any passage of time. Hell, I didn't even grow a beard. At least, if I did, I don't know it." Steve's hands wrapped around the top of the car door. He stared off into space for a long moment, emotions flickering over his face that Tony couldn't identify. Or didn't want to identify.
As with anything that rode too close to the edge of discomfort, Tony deflected. "When'd you meet my old man? Was it when you went in for Project Rebirth?"
"The first time I saw your father, he was introducing the first flying car to the world."
"Ah. I remember reading through his notes on that. It wasn't exactly a success."
Steve shot him a surprised look. "But it was. The car lifted off. It flew. For five seconds, the world had a flying car. What happened to that?"
"Cars were too heavy back then. Made of heavier metals than are used today, with bigger, heavier engines. And by the time automobile manufacturers began to use lighter materials, the focus had shifted. Flying cars are an awesome concept, but the logistics of them in reality are a bitch. For instance, do you need both a driver's license and a pilot's license?"
"You mean like the pilot's license you need to make flying in your suit legal?"
Tony smirked. "I've had a pilot's license since I was fifteen. Get in the car, Captain. We're going for a drive."
Steve stared around him at the neighborhood where he'd grown up. It wasn't exactly the same; there were signs of progress everywhere, but between the group of boys playing a game of stickball and the brownstones, nostalgia overwhelmed him until the still-familiar panic of suffocating hit him. Crouching, he put his hands on his knees and closed his eyes, drawing slow, deep breaths until the feeling went away.
Something hit his foot and he opened his eyes to see a ball resting against it. He reached down and picked it up, staring at it for so long that the boys across the lane shouted at him to throw it. Weighing the ball in his hand for another moment, he drew back and lobbed it at them, shrugging apologetically when it went over the head of the closest boy.
"It's not exactly your shield, is it?"
"No, but… would it be weird if I said I missed this more?"
Tony gestured around them. "Which was yours?"
Steve looked closer at the buildings, needing the numbers on the houses to orient himself. 1208. That had been Bucky's, which meant his was… Steve didn't even notice he was pointing at his childhood home until he realized Tony was staring at it with him.
"Is it really the same house?"
"There's only one way to find out," Steve said, and started toward it. The exterior of the house was completely different—not the red bricks, but the trim, the porch, the windows. Everything that might make it instantly recognizable. But there was one thing that should still be there, if it really was Steve's old house.
Feeling like a thief, Steve slipped through the gate into the tiny backyard. A few feet from the corner of the house, he dropped to his knees and crawled around a bush, peering intently at the cement foundation where it showed above the black dirt of the flowerbed. Frowning, he reached out and dug at the ground, pulling earth and debris away until he'd uncovered another few inches of dirt-stained cement.
And there it was. SR 1929. He ran his fingers over the impression he'd made in the cement more than eighty years earlier, awe filling him at the fact that his childish need to leave his mark on the world had done exactly that.
"I did this the day they buried my father," he said, not even needing to turn to know that Tony had followed him. The sound of Tony's breathing blended into the background noise of the neighborhood, but if Steve concentrated, he could isolate each sound and know to a general degree where each noise originated.
"I wrecked my first car the day they buried my mom. I'd say you were slightly less destructive."
Steve glanced up over his shoulder at Tony, trying to gauge the truth of that statement in his face. It was there in the closed-off expression, the sorrow that was too deep to hide behind a devil-may-care grin.
Tony turned away, slipping on a pair of sunglasses. "We should get out of here before the current owners come back and find us. I'd rather eat dinner at that deli on the corner than in jail."
Steve took one last look at the initials carved into the cement before covering them over once more and pushed himself to his feet. "Buy me dinner, and I'll tell you everything I remember about the man Howard Stark was before he became your dad."
Tony watched Steve eat a massive slice of chocolate cake, marvelling at the way Steve's dinner had disappeared without regard for trivialities like cholesterol and fat content.
"…and then we showed up back at camp, this massive army of prisoners of war, the worst of the injured riding on some kind of super-advanced tanks even Colonel Phillips had never seen, and—" Steve stopped speaking all at once, looking up at Tony with an embarrassed expression. "And I just sat here talking all night. I'm sorry."
"Don't be ridiculous. It was fascinating." Tony said the comforting words by rote and was startled to realize he meant them. "One day you should write all of this down. If you can't find a publisher for it, let me know. I'll buy a publishing house for you."
Running the tines of his fork along his empty plate, Steve shrugged. "I don't know about writing a book, but I used to draw comics." Steve looked at Tony and laughed at what Tony was sure was an expression that few people ever got to see. Tony couldn't remember the last time he'd been so surprised. "Once upon a time, I was a fine arts student."
Tony arched an eyebrow, attempting to rein in his shock. "Fine arts?"
"Illustration, actually," Steve said. Picking up the pen the waitress had left for Tony to sign the bill, Steve began to draw on a paper napkin. With a few deft strokes, the rough outline of a body began to take shape. Tony tilted his head, fascinated despite himself, and watched as Steve sketched out… himself. "This was the uniform idea I proposed when they first started parading me around the country."
Tony took the napkin, staring at the design. "It looks like an American flag threw up on you. Could you be more annoyingly patriotic?"
"I'm sorry, have we met?" Steve asked, in obvious imitation of Tony. "I'm Captain America."
Snorting, Tony shook his head. "Let's get out of here, Captain. This date is incomplete."
Steve tilted his head, his eyebrows drawing together in confusion.
"Well, it's not a real date without making out in the back of a car."
Steve just rolled his eyes, immune by then to Tony's teasing. "Too bad I don't neck on the first date."
May 15, 2012
"And the material has a reactive field that will keep anything from entering at the eyeholes, so you won't have to worry about debris," Tony said, fitting the mask over his hands and demonstrating the stretchiness of the material. "It shouldn't react to your skin, but let's try on the whole uniform anyway. Take off those rags you're wearing and put it on—" At the look on Steve's face, Tony chuckled. "Think of it as a super-material. It's meant to be light but impenetrable, breathable and still impervious to liquid. You could deep sea dive in it if you wanted."
"How do you make these things?"
"Oh, I'm sorry. Did I not mention that I'm a genius?"
Steve rolled his eyes and turned away to strip down, presenting Tony with an unobstructed view of an ass that would make the world's greatest sculptors weep and put down their chisels. Stretching his legs out in front of him, Tony linked his fingers behind his head and sat back to enjoy the view for however long it lasted.
Which was about ten seconds. Tony damned himself for the efficiency of his design even while standing to closer examine the fit. The uniform was in three pieces for quick dressing, but the edges of each piece came together seamlessly. Tony ran his hand along the place where the top and bottoms of the uniform met and was satisfied when the material required a solid tug to pull apart.
"Taking it off will require a bit more effort than putting it on, but that's to keep you safe, so enjoy it."
"It's comfortable," Steve said, sounding surprised as he flexed and moved in the uniform.
"It should be. It was made to your exact specifications."
"I wish I'd had this in the war. The costume I had then was bulky and restricted my movements."
Tony walked over to where Dummy was patiently waiting. "Put on your mask. I'm going to suit up and we'll practice throwing you around. I might even hit you with a few repulsor blasts to see if the uniform can withstand it."
"You couldn't have done that before I got in it?"
"Of course I could have; it's just more fun with you."
Steve groaned but slipped the mask over his face and smoothed the material down his throat until it met the neckline of the uniform top. The entire effect was still a bit kitschy for Tony's taste, but Steve wouldn't be Captain freaking America without the 4th of July accessories.
"Oh, by the way," Tony said while the Iron Man suit snapped into place around him. "Director Fury brought something around for you." Tony tilted his chin toward his desk and watched as Steve looked toward it curiously before breaking into a bright smile.
"My shield!" Steve bounded across the room and grabbed the large shield, sliding it into place over his arm with a loving familiarity that made the hair on the back of Tony's neck stand up.
"Apparently vibranium is the other thing that looks better after seventy years at the bottom of the Atlantic. Who knew?"
Without further ado, Tony lifted his hand and shot Steve with a thirty percent blast. Though Steve got the shield up in time for the vibranium to take the brunt of the hit, the force of it still sent Steve flying through the air. Steve hit the far wall, but landed on his feet, jumping into a rolling leap to avoid Tony's next hit. Coming up on his knees, he sent his shield flying, clipping Tony right below the knee with it and catching the huge disk when he rebounded toward him.
"Ten percent damage to the left leg thruster," JARVIS murmured in Tony's ear.
"Nice shot," Tony acknowledged, just before taking the metaphorical gloves off.
The fight turned dirty, brutal. The kid from Brooklyn didn't pull his punches, and Tony had never met a challenge he could resist. Within minutes, the workshop was almost completely destroyed, and Tony felt more alive than ever before.
JARVIS cut through a triumphant shout from Tony with, "Ms Potts and a guest are coming down the stairs."
"Time out," Tony said, holding his hands up in the universal T shape.
But Steve either didn't hear him or didn't know the time out rule, because he leapt through the air, tackling Tony, suit and all, and was lifting his shield to bash Tony with it when a stern voice cut across them both.
"Captain Rogers, attention!"
Steve blinked down at Tony, then looked up. Tony followed his gaze to see an all-too-familiar figure standing in the rubble of his workshop with Pepper. And Pepper didn't look very happy at all.
"General Ross, as I told you just now, Tony and Steve are—"
"He is a Captain in the United States Army, Ms. Potts. You will address him as such," General Ross said, his voice cold and cutting. He swept a dismissive gaze over Pepper before turning back to Tony and Steve, who were both climbing to their feet.
"What brings you to my home, General Ross?" Tony asked, flipping up the face shield on his helmet and automatically moving forward to protect Ross from Pepper's wrath. Not that the idiot deserved it, but Tony didn't have time to fill out the paperwork involved in covering up the righteous killing of a high ranking military official.
"I've come to collect my property, Mr. Stark," Ross said, and a feeling of déjà vu swept over Tony. The man looked and sounded so much like Obadiah Stane in that moment that Tony almost reacted with a lethal force repulsor blast.
"As I tried to tell you when you arrived, General Ross," Pepper said through clenched teeth, "Stark Industries doesn't have any current contracts with the Army. Our military contracts at this time are all with the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division."
"I know all about SHIELD, Ms. Potts. However, the property I've come for is standing in this room with us. Captain Rogers, you are hereby ordered to surrender yourself to the Military Police at Ft. Drum. Court martial proceedings will be started promptly during which you will answer for the crime of desertion during war time."
"Desertion?" Steve asked, his voice sounding faint. "I didn't…"
"Per our records, you've been stateside for twenty two days, prior to which you were AWOL for sixty nine years, three hundred and forty one days. The United States Army doesn’t look favourably on men who abandon it in a time of national crisis." The General passed a look over Steve that was far too proprietary as far as Tony was concerned. "As the only successful test subject for Project Rebirth, it was your duty to present yourself for testing immediately upon arrival. Instead, you've turned over government property to a civilian contractor."
That's when it all clicked for Tony. Ross had been attempting to recreate the Super Soldier Project for over a decade, to rather astonishing failure. He didn't want Steve; he wanted what Steve represented.
"It isn't going to work, General. The serum used on St—Captain Rogers was destroyed that day. All attempts to recreate it have failed."
The amused look on General Ross' face sent cold chills through Tony. "I have it on good authority that distilling Captain Rogers' blood will provide us with enough data to recreate the exact formula used on him."
"Distilling that much blood would kill him," Pepper said, sounding shocked.
"The greatest sacrifice a man can make for his country is to die for it. All soldiers know the risk when they enlist. And Captain Rogers enlisted no fewer than seven times, didn't you son?"
Shaking with anger, Tony lunged at General Ross, but was jerked to a halt by Steve. "How would you like your 'fuck you' delivered, General? Via concise statement or illustrative hand gesture?"
"Why limit yourself, Tony?" Pepper asked, sounding as furious as Tony felt. "JARVIS, please ensure the General leaves the premises immediately. His services are no longer required."
"As you wish, Ms. Potts. General, I have calculated that you will require one minute and forty-five seconds to vacate the premises. At that time, if you have not exited the building, painful yet non-fatal electric shocks will be delivered every ten seconds until you are gone. Your time starts now."
Ross smiled coldly at them all before nodding once. "You win for now, Stark, but Captain Rogers belongs to the United States government. We will get him back."
As soon as Ross was halfway up the stairs, Tony turned to Pepper. "Get the video from JARVIS and take it to SHIELD. Go directly to Fury with it."
"I'm already on it," Pepper said, her face still flushed red. "And I'm sure the Senate Armed Forces Committee will enjoy watching that as well." Pepper was in such a foul mood when she left that Tony could actually hear her heels clicking an angry pattern.
"I have to go."
Tony turned toward Steve, who looked completely shell shocked. "Don't be an idiot. You're staying here until we've got orders from someone other than Ross."
"He's right, though. I should have presented myself to military authority immediately upon waking."
Slashing a hand through the air to cut through Steve's words, Tony said, "SHIELD is an arm of the federal government. Director Fury already cleared your release to them through the proper channels."
"Because he's insane. Ross attempted to restart Project Rebirth about twenty years ago. The only person who survived his mad experiments was a nuclear physicist. And I don't know that you can actually call what happened to him 'survival.'"
"But still, I should—"
Tony had never been so glad of the extra height and strength his suit gave him as he was in that moment. Compelled by the need to shut Steve up as well as to have a taste of the man he'd been lusting after for far too long, Tony turned to Steve and pulled him into an open-mouthed kiss. It was short, completely unsatisfying from a sexual perspective, but it did shock Steve into silence.
For a minute.
"Okay, fine," Steve said, pulling away from Tony and running a thumb over his bottom lip. "But when I'm spending the next seventy years in Leavenworth, I expect you to at least attempt a jail break."
"You're not going to Leavenworth," Tony said, rolling his eyes as he disengaged his suit. Stepping free, he said, "JARVIS, run diagnostics and fix anything that needs fixing."
"As you wish, sir."
Steve was already upstairs by the time Tony finished. He didn't think Steve would do anything stupid, but Tony still felt compelled to follow him. Entering the living room, he looked around, spotting Steve sitting on the couch, looking far too serious.
Tony walked over to Steve and then kept going, straddling his lap and settling onto his thighs. "Have I ever told you how much I like a man in uniform?"
"I'll be sure to inform Colonel Rhodes," JARVIS said, his voice cutting smoothly into the surround sound and causing Steve to burst into laughter.
Groaning in exasperation, Tony tilted his head back and shouted at the ceiling. "JARVIS, turn yourself off."
A low beep acknowledged the command, and Tony looked back down at Steve. "Camouflage is so last year. I like this, though."
Steve lifted one eyebrow, his hands settling on Tony's thighs. "That's kind of conceited, isn't it? Considering you designed it."
"Since I gave it to you, I can take it back. Right?" Lowering his head, Tony brushed his lips over Steve's, not pulling back until Steve's stiff response broke through his lust. "What's wrong?"
"I, ah. Should tell you. I've never…"
Tony huffed a small laugh. "I didn't think you had. It wasn't exactly the done thing in 1940, was it?" Dipping his head again, Tony met resistance in the form of Steve's hands on his shoulders, pushing gently against him. Steve licked his lips and stared at the glowing spot on Tony's chest where his shirt hid the arc reactor until a cold feeling of rejection began to creep up Tony's spine. "You...? Fuck, I've read this wrong, haven't I?" Tony started to move off Steve, only to have Steve's hands clamp almost painfully on his thighs.
"Stop, wait. I don't…" Steve blew out a breath, his cheeks ruddy with color, still not looking directly at Tony. "You haven't read anything wrong," he said, mumbling the words. "But when I say I've never done this, I mean… ever. With, uh. Anyone."
Tony blinked several times in rapid succession. "Ever." Pursing his lips, he waited for each of his preconceived notions to reconfigure themselves before he tipped Steve's chin up. Once eye contact was firmly established, Tony asked, "Were people in the forties really that stupid?"
Steve jerked his chin from Tony's hand, darkness shuttering his normally open expression. "If you knew what I used to look like—"
"It has nothing to do with your physical appearance," Tony said, though honesty compelled him to add, "delicious as that is. You're just…" He shook his head. How was it possible to put everything that was so very Steve into words? "You're brave and selfless and smart. Do you have any idea how sexy those qualities are?"
Steve snorted. "Do you have any idea what a skinny runt I was? No one cared about any of my other qualities when I was wheezing asthmatically all over them. Or gushing blood from my nose because some random bully decided I was an easy target. Which I was."
"I think I have some idea." When Steve rolled his eyes, a thread of anger began to pulse through Tony. "Look at me. No, seriously. I wear shoes with two-inch heels on them and I'm still half a foot shorter than you! I was a child prodigy. A genius. You think that won me any friends? I got the shit beat out of me on a regular basis until I convinced my dad to enroll me in martial arts classes. Even then, I got pounded on. Because no one likes a smart ass. And brilliant as I was, I was too stupid to keep my damn mouth shut."
Steve stared up at him for a moment that stretched out long enough for Tony to begin feeling antsy. Then, just when Tony was expecting a handshake and a, "Sorry, but I'm not interested," Steve put a hesitant hand on the back of his neck. Tugging gently, Steve whispered, "I'm probably not going to be very good at this. I've only ever done this part a handful of times."
And then their lips met.
It should have been a kiss to write sonnets about. As much as Tony had fantasized about this moment, though, he'd never once imagined that the reality would be so… painful. Their noses bumped, teeth clashed, and Steve's hand tightened so painfully that Tony feared for his spinal cord.
"Stop!" Tony said, his lips mushing the words against Steve's mouth.
Steve released him immediately, and Tony sat up, rubbing at the back of his neck. When he was assured that he'd still be able to walk in the morning, Tony picked up Steve's hands, placed them on his hips, and said, "Keep them there for a minute." Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, Tony leaned down and started over.
He rubbed their swollen lips together—though it was mostly his lips that were swollen; Steve's had already gone back to normal—and only gradually introduced his tongue into play. Quick, light licks that glanced playfully over the corner of Steve's mouth, then dipped shallowly into the place where they parted in the middle. Only when he felt Steve relaxing into the kiss did he deepen it, opening his mouth and using his thumb to tug at Steve's bottom lip.
Tony had perfected the art of seduction years ago, which was fortunate for him because his body took over without any input from his mind. His hips started slowly rocking against Steve, and his fingers drew random patterns over Steve's throat and chest. Though only half-hard himself—age hadn't stopped its forward march for him, after all—he was deeply encouraged by the rapidly hardening length of Steve's dick.
Breaking the kiss, Tony looked down and released a ragged breath. The thin, stretchy material of Steve's uniform hid nothing of Steve's reaction. And it was… more than Tony had expected. Licking his lips, he glanced back up at Steve. "Were you always that big?"
Steve's blush was adorable and entirely irresistible. Tony was a sucker for blushing virgins.
Tipping Steve's head to the side, Tony began to lick and suck at his neck, tugging the hem of his uniform top up until Steve's chest was bared to him and the material was bunched under Steve's arms. The nipples he'd been so entranced with earlier called to him, and Tony climbed off Steve's lap to kneel between his legs, a position that put his mouth at a perfect level to nibble on those flat, brown disks.
He wasn't prepared for the way Steve reacted.
Steve's entire body came off the couch with a low, guttural shout, and a ripping sound told Tony that he'd be replacing his couch sooner than he'd planned. Unable to stop his grin from forming, Tony simply pushed against Steve until he collapsed back onto the couch, babbling broken phrases of approval.
A wicked idea began to form in Tony's head, and he kept up the attack on Steve's nipples with his fingers while licking his way down Steve's stomach. Tony didn't even need to stop touching Steve long enough to pull down his uniform pants; Steve's dick was so hard it peeked out of the waistband of the uniform. Just seeing that reaction was enough to cause Tony's dick to reach full hardness.
Without warning, Tony wrapped his lips around the head of it and sucked, his tongue flicking languidly at the slit where come was already beading up. It took only a handful of seconds before Steve was coming, and Tony sucked him through every pulse of his orgasm. When Steve collapsed in a heap, gibbering, Tony sat back on his heels and licked his lips, his fingers plucking one last time at Steve's hard nipples.
Satisfaction had never felt so good.
Sliding his hands onto Steve's thighs, Tony traced soothing circles on them until the dazed look on Steve's face began to disappear. "Hello, sunshine," he said, and nearly laughed out loud at the huskiness he heard in his own voice. It had been a while since anyone had affected him the way this man did.
Steve pushed himself into a better position and blinked several times before focusing on Tony's face. Then, he groaned, and the sound was so sensual that it took all of Tony's willpower to stay where he was. But he needn't have worried about it because Steve reached down and pulled him back onto the couch, settling Tony over his lap again. His very pointy lap.
Tony would have smiled, but Steve's tongue was in the way.
Sparks were still randomly exploding in Steve's peripheral vision when he pushed himself a bit more vertical and looked down at Tony. He was trying to think of an appropriate way to thank Tony when he noticed the small drop of semen at the corner of his mouth.
The groan that burst from him was embarrassing in its neediness, and Steve went light-headed with how fast the blood returned to his prick. "Tony," he whispered, reaching down and pulling Tony back into his lap without even thinking about asking permission.
Their kiss this time wasn't romantic in the least; Steve licked his own come from Tony's lips and whimpered pathetically into his mouth. "I want to…"
"Fuck yeah," Tony said, as if it didn't matter what it was Steve wanted. And perhaps it didn't, but still….
"I don't know what—" Tony's tongue in his mouth stopped Steve's confession, and they stayed like that, kissing in ways that Steve hadn't even known were possible, until Tony pulled back, a smile on his face and naked from the waist down. He held a tube of something in his hand.
Tony tossed his head back and laughed. "No. No, this is lube. Now, listen to me because this is important." Lightly tapping Steve on the head with the tube, he said, "Lube. Use a lot of it, on yourself and your partner. This time, I'm going to stretch myself—" Steve frowned, confused, and Tony stopped his instructions long enough to explain. "You're very big, very thick. If you don't spend some time stretching your partner's ass, you'll hurt him in not-fun ways." Tony uncapped the tube and squeezed some of the clear liquid onto his fingers. "Be generous with the lube."
Handing the tube to Steve, Tony held out his other hand and said, "Give me more." Steve squeezed a bit too hard, and nearly half the tube squirted into Tony's hand. "Whoa, tiger," Tony said, a half-grin tipping the corner of his mouth.
Steve was about to ask about the stretching part, but just when he opened his mouth, Tony's hand wrapped around his prick, and all thought vanished. "Nnngh!"
"Just… a minute," Tony grunted, his expression dark with concentration as he did something to himself with one hand. Though obviously distracted, Tony continued to lightly stroke the lube over Steve's prick until he could feel the excess slipping down over his balls and dripping onto the seat of the couch. "There." Tony shifted forward, pressing his groin into Steve's abdomen, and reached behind himself to grip Steve's prick.
"Later. For now, just sit there and try not to shoot your load too soon."
Steve opened his mouth to protest, only to have the words emerge as a gurgle when he felt something warm and slick press firmly against the head of his prick. He focused on Tony's face, watched as Tony's teeth bit down on his lower lip and his eyes squeezed closed in an expression that almost looked like pain.
The squeezing heat enveloped him inch by slow inch, and Steve knew Tony had been right; he needed a distraction. The dim glow that shone through the thin cloth of Tony's shirt drew his attention and Steve reached up, slipping his hands under the shirt and lifting until he could see the device that kept Tony alive.
He traced his fingers along the skin that edged it, not sure if touching it directly would harm it. Idly he wondered if it worked harder in times like this, pounded in Tony's chest the way Steve's heart was hammering an erratic rhythm in his own.
Tony's hands clutched at his and Steve looked up, an apology on his lips. But the look on Tony's face was so passionate, so lustful that Steve knew no apology was necessary. Instead, he pulled his hands from the grip of Tony's and massaged the edges of the glowing circle while giving an experimental thrust of his hips.
The shout that echoed through the apartment that time came from Tony, and it flooded Steve with a satisfaction so intense it overwhelmed him. One hand went to Tony's hip, helping him move; the other continued to play with Tony's chest.
But Tony recovered quickly; a wild, desperate look came over him and he reached down, pinching and pulling at Steve's nipples. Steve had no defence against the pleasure that sent spiking through him.
The next few minutes were a blur of sensation: Tony's hands on his chest, his ass squeezing so deliciously around Steve's prick, his knees squeezing Steve's sides as his thighs flexed, lifting and lowering him. Tony's prick bobbed in time with his movements, occasionally slapping against Steve's stomach, and some part of his mind resurfaced enough that Steve reached down and wrapped his hand around it, twisting and pulling in time with Tony's movements.
Tony's fingers on his nipples spasmed, and it was only another stroke or two before the prick in Steve's hand swelled and began to pulse, spurting come onto Steve's chest. Tony's ass clenched in time to the pulsing of his prick, and Steve lost whatever control he'd found. With a muffled shout, he snapped his hips up, coming for a second time that night into the hot squeeze of Tony's ass.
They collapsed together onto the couch, Tony only stirring himself long enough to pull some of the stuffing out of the ripped places in the seat and using that to wipe the come from them both.
"Never moving again," Tony mumbled into Steve's chest, randomly shivering in the aftermath of his orgasm.
"I regret to interrupt at such an inopportune moment—"
For a wild second, Steve thought Tony had said that—until JARVIS' voice rolled around them.
"Tony, I apologize, but Mr. Odinson bypassed my security protocols—"
"The Earth is under attack, gentlemen."
Steve peeled one eyelid open to see Thor standing in the center of the room, staring rather pointedly at the wall opposite Steve and Tony.
"I'm going to kill someone," Tony groaned.
"Excellent! That's the spirit!" Thor said before twirling his hammer in his hand and rocking back on his heels, eager as only a Viking god could be at the thought of war.
Steve shut his eye, sighed, and mentally prepared himself for battle. Then his eyes popped open. He looked down at a very grumpy Tony and smiled. "Post-battle sex?"
"Hey, of course. As long as you understand that this time, it's your ass on the line."