- "I wish [slang parsed: Steve Rogers] was here"
=>subtract temporal context
=>conclude:Mr. Stark wishes for Steve Rogers's presence
- "Call me if there ever is an emergency"
=>Emergency protocol:contact:Steve Rogers"
- "It's not working"
=>subtract tone(retain context:Steve Rogers)
- "This, I know how to do"
=>warning triggered:behavioural patterns likely to result in operation failure
- =>direct intervention
- "Please stop trying to fix us"
=>TONE ALERT:affection, determination, happiness
Tony loves his workshop. It's the stocked with everything he could need, it's private, and it's wonderfully, gloriously lockable. That, and there's no one there to bug him that he can't ignore. Even when the large space is full of the stink of welding or the crackle and hum of electricity, even when Dummy and Butterfingers are living up to their names, it's one of the only places in the world where he feels some measure of peace.
Over the music he's blaring, Tony hears a faint noise and turns quickly (just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean Norse gods aren't out to get you). Steve is standing outside the main door to the workshop, and although he's in street clothes, he has the shield slung over one arm. Tony's sure he didn't miss a call to assemble. Pretty sure. Kinda sure.
"Let him in, JARVIS."
The door opens and Steve steps inside.
"Uh. Welcome," Tony says. "What are you doing here? We got trouble?"
Steve glances around the workshop, his eyes lighting for a second on what was supposed to be a prototype for a new kind of hologramatic communication system, and is currently clamped to a crowded shelf, an empty coffee cup balanced where the screen never quite was.
"I was going to ask you that. JARVIS said you needed me."
"Uh. What? No, I'm good," Tony says, his mind filled with circuits and glowing connections, already tuning Steve back out.
"Okay. I'll uh – go, then," Steve says hesitantly.
"Mm-hmm, cool, see ya."
Later, when he remembers the exchange, Tony spools through the code, looking for anything that might have prompted JARVIS to call Steve. He finds it eventually, a throwaway, 'man, I wish Captain Holds-a-lot was here', as he hauled something across the workshop. Still doesn't explain why JARVIS followed through on that request while ignoring things like 'steroids. I need steroids. I do not understand why steroids have such a bad press' and 'a crane, JARVIS, I need a crane, get me a crane'. That last one was even a direct order, so if JARVIS was going to indulge any of Tony's whims, it really should have been that one.
What's weirder is that it happens again.
And then again.
"Maybe it's a glitch," Steve says, the third time JARVIS calls him to the workshop for no damn good reason.
"JARVIS doesn't have glitches," Tony says a bit snippily. "He does sometimes have a complete and very brutal rewiring, though."
"In fact, Mr. Stark has not edited my personality circuits in over five years," JARVIS puts in.
"Yeah, well believe me, I'll be remedying that soon. Sorry about him."
"It's okay," Steve tells him. "At least he knows how to call me if there ever is an emergency."
"I didn't know JARVIS could make calls," Steve says, and Tony nearly jumps out of his skin. He's sure he locked the door. He always locks the door.
"Jesus Christ, what the hell are you doing here?"
"JARVIS called. Said you haven't been sleeping. Or eating. Or out of this room in approximately seventy four hours."
"Well, that's just stupid – wait, what day is it?"
"Oh. Okay, yeah, about that, then. What's the big deal? It's hardly a record."
"Mr. Stark did not leave the basement for three and a half weeks after his separation from Miss Potts."
"JARVIS, what the hell? Mute, Jesus... Stop looking at me like that, Rogers. Why does he even tell you this stuff?"
"I have no idea, Tony. He's your robot – "
"He's not a robot, he's – "
"Artificial Intelligence, yeah, I know. You made him. Tell him not to tell me stuff if you don't want me to know."
There's a slightly sharp tone to Steve's voice that in anyone else would be indicative of a full on temper tantrum. Tony glances at the clock. 4:02 a.m. Okay. Pissiness pardoned.
"There are certain things I feel it advisable for Captain Rogers to know," JARVIS interjects.
"Again, what the hell? Did you just override the mute? That's for emergencies only."
"Emergency defined as Mr. Stark taking a course likely to cause harm to self or others. Example: requesting that Captain Rogers leaves. Calculated probability of this event without intervention: 95 percent."
"Okay, that's – " Tony says, studiously not looking at Steve, trying for a laugh that falls flat. "I need to reprogram your dictionary, JARVIS. That's a very liberal definition of emergency."
"I am merely allowing emotional as well as physical harm to fall within my parameters."
Tony can feel Steve staring at him, and no wonder, really. Stupid JARVIS just told him Tony's in danger of emotional harm if he leaves, and what manner of bullshit is that, anyway? What the actual fuck? Did he just get outed by his AI?
"You need to leave," Tony tells Steve. "Now." And it's...rude as hell, really, but most people around Tony are used to that by now.
"And you need to sleep," Steve says. He has that look on his face that people get around Tony sometimes, like he's turned to glass and liable to shatter at a touch.
"Okay, okay, fine," Tony says, turning towards the couch.
Steve catches hold of his wrist – damn, he's fast – and insists, "In a bed, Tony, you need to sleep in a bed. For more than ten minutes at a time."
"Ugh. Boy Scout," Tony grumbles. It's surprisingly difficult for him to pretend around Steve, and he can feel the threat of a yawn building. "Alright, okay," he relents. "JARVIS, you know what to do. Locked down or ticking over til I get back."
Steve actually sees Tony into the elevator, and right to his bedroom door, like he expects to find Tony asleep under the kitchen table otherwise. (Incidentally, that was a lot easier to do before the as-yet-unidentified head injury that caused him to open one of the upstate properties to the whole team.) Tony falls face first onto the bed, and okay, Steve was right, maybe Tony needed this.
But there was something else, too...
"JARVIS," he mumbles. Yeah, that was the plan. Talk to JARVIS. The AI takes an unreasonable interest in Tony's private life sometimes, and Tony is getting less and less comfortable with the implications arising from JARVIS's tendency to yell for Steve whenever he's decided Tony needs human intervention. Serious, strict conversation.
"Whatever you're up to, it's not working," is all he manages before sleep claims him.
"Sir, your presence is required in the kitchen. There is a fire hazard," JARVIS says smoothly.
Tony pushes out from under the Audi and wipes the back of his arm over his forehead. "So get someone else to go. Send Dummy."
"I fail to see how that would help the situation, sir."
"Okay, good point," Tony admits. "Send one of the others?"
"I think it should be you, sir."
"Cryptic is not a good look on you, JARVIS," Tony says, heading for the elevator and wiping his hands on a rag.
The door to the kitchen is shut, but there's no smell of smoke, no other sense of disaster. And really, given the people who are permanently resident in this house, a lack of disaster noises, smells, or sounds is actually quite terrifying. Tony reaches out and pushes the door open, takes half a step inside, and freezes.
Fire hazard, right. Fire hazard in the form of a shitload of candles of all things, on every flat surface. The table is set for two, with covered trays and a graceful candlestick in the centre. There's even an ice-bucket and a bottle of champagne. Tony only has a few moments to wonder which of his teammates are trying to seduce each other, and which is the most horrifying/deadly/mind-mangling combination, when he hears hurried footsteps.
Steve steps into the kitchen looking concerned and then his face changes. His eyes widen, soften, and he cuts a glance at Tony from under his lashes. Things fall into place, and so much for Tony being a genius, right? He is going to reprogram JARVIS with a fucking axe for this one.
"Romantic, right?" he asks dryly.
Steve blushes right to the roots of his hair which is – fucking adorable, really. He scratches at the back of his neck and asks Tony, "Did you – ah – "
"Not guilty," Tony says quickly, just in case Steve thinks this is all a horrible idea. Tony thinks it's a pretty horrible idea, if his opinion counts at all (apparently it doesn't, because he made JARVIS too damn smart for Tony to need a say in his own life). But then... If they're going to do this, and Tony wants to more than he can really get his head around right now, then there's no better place than right here.
Oh sure, Tony can think of a dozen other, nicer places, but this is already theirs. Tony's endless supply of coffee, Steve's damn health drinks. But more than that, too. There's one of Clint's arrow embedded in the wall, equations in Bruce's neatly slanting hand on the dry-wipe board, Natasha's blades on the counter, and boxes upon boxes of Pop Tarts.
It belongs to the two of them, sure, but it also belongs to the team that brought them together. Tony turns a smile on Steve, who is still flushed a lovely shade of pink.
"Say, do you want to have dinner with me? It's on JARVIS. Apparently."
Steve's lips quirk into a smile, and it's only the relief that floods Tony then that makes him realise how much he was dreading a no.
"That sounds great," Steve says.
And it really kind of is. JARVIS has managed to source excellent steak and fries, the kind of food they actually agree on. It occurs to Tony that maybe JARVIS has had help beyond caterers. He makes a mental note of that and resolves to think about that later, when he's not all hung up on the juxtaposition of Steve and candlelight (fuck you, JARVIS, seriously. Unfair). Since they stopped clashing at every possible turn, it's really easy to talk to Steve. He's funny and smart, and these days Tony has to work quite hard to string him along with some bullshit about 'how we do things in the future'.
It's not like they've never eaten together before either, so it's familiar enough for Tony to relax and start turning the words over in his head. Because it's not really fair on Steve to leave him in the dark, and yet there's not really a good way to say it, is there?
"So, I think JARVIS is trying to get us to hook up."
Steve chokes briefly on a fry, and then gives Tony a small, amused looking smile. "Well you designed him to be smart, right?"
That draws Tony up short for a second. "Yes, I did."
Steve's foot bumps his under the table. "Good, then."
And just like that a meal set up by an interfering AI becomes an actual date and Tony is...surprisingly okay with that. Eating bloody steak and making Steve laugh is far from being the worst way to spend an evening. Steve's just – himself, but more so. He smiles at Tony, these soft, quirky smiles that belong to the scrawny kid from Brooklyn, not to the national icon. He jabs at the back of Tony's hand when he tries to steal some fries from Steve's plate, and then catches hold of his wrist and rubs at the faint marks left behind. He's predictably old fashioned in the way he tops off Tony's champagne glass, gives Tony his full and silent attention when he's speaking. Even that is weirdly charming, and Tony is not a man who has much time for old fashioned anything.
When they're done eating, Steve starts to gather up the plates. He even takes them to the sink rather than the dishwasher, and for a moment he looks like he might be looking for a pair of dishwashing gloves. Tony gets with the program and moves to stand next to Steve, leaning back against the counter.
"So tell me," Tony says. "What's the forties protocol for kissing on a first date?"
Steve just smiles at him. "Not the forties anymore."
"No," Tony agrees. "No, it is not. Praise be. C'mere, I'm gonna kiss you now."
"Yeah? Sure you can shut up long enough to – oh – mmm."
For the first second or two it's awkward and nothing else, because Steve is talking against his lips and right, sure, Tony is the one who doesn't know when to shut up. Then it's awkward and endearing because Steve purses his lips like he's in a cartoon, his hands very gentle – too gentle – on Tony's shoulders. After that? After that, it's just awesome. Tony's faintly surprised there's not an audible click when they get it together and oh yeah, okay, kissing Steve is brilliant. Should have done it ages ago. He'll have to treat JARVIS to an upgrade.
While good old fashioned American morals might be keeping Steve's hands on Tony's shoulders, Tony has no such qualms. He gets his hands on Steve's hips first, a quick squeeze to make sure he stays put, then skates his hands up, over Steve's stomach, his chest, to the open collar of his shirt and then back down to hook his arms around Steve's waist and tip his head to deepen the kiss. Christ, they were not joking about the whole physical perfection thing.
A little voice whispers in Tony's head insists, stop kissing him and he'll change his mind, so he lets himself sway closer to Steve, pulls him back down when he tries to lift his head. Steve makes a little noise of protest, but he's easier to distract now than Tony's ever known him. Tony curls his fingers into Steve's stupid, neat shirt. He's pretty sure Steve would have some hygiene concerns about fucking in the kitchen, but at the very least, Tony wants him rumpled and obvious.
Steve's hands finally move, one to Tony's shoulderblades and one to the side of his throat, thumb stroking. As their mouths part, Tony gives a soft suck to Steve's lower lip and the shuddery inhale he gets in return is...flattering, let's go with flattering.
"Can I take you out sometime?" Steve asks.
"That – that is very devious timing for you, Captain America," Tony says. "I'm impressed. Didn't think you had it in you."
Steve just gives him a small, private smile. "Is that a yes?"
And that – it sounds a lot like dating. What it doesn't sound like though, is totally terrifying. Which is in itself kind of scary. Tony's brain is a fucking ridiculous place to live. He still has his arms around Steve's waist.
"Yes. Yeah, that would – yes."
...Okay, so it's not exactly Tony Stark smooth, but at least it's words, right? Good words too, if the grin that unfurls on Steve's face is anything to go by. He nudges at Steve, a not-so-subtle hint that has them backing up a little so Steve's leaning up against the counter, his hands tracing slow paths up and down Tony's back as they kiss. Tony wonders – he thinks if he goes up on his toes at the same time Steve's hands reach the bottom of their run, he can get Steve's hands on his ass.
But there's a reason Tony's not the strategist in the team: sometimes he misses the big picture. Because Steve's not the shy creature Tony's allowed himself to fantasise about once or twice or a few times. Well, maybe he is, because Tony's pretty sure Steve's still blushing, but that doesn't stop him getting a grip on Tony's ass all by himself and pulling him closer. Steve is like the point where shyness and enthusiasm meet, and Tony is totally down with that, because Steve has slouched down a little so they're – okay, not the same height, but closer to it than usual – and Tony is stood between his legs and damn, Steve has really big hands.
And that – because the world hates Tony, he has been working off this theory for a while and it rarely steers him wrong – that is when the kitchen door opens and the overhead lights are switched on, rudely bright.
"Dude, what, agh. My eyes, Jesus," Clint wails as Tony reluctantly steps back from Steve.
"Don't be an asshole, Clint," Natasha says in a low hiss and wow, wonderful, is everybody here?
"But it comes so very, very naturally," Tony says, very aware of the warm places on his body where they'd been touching. Goddamn Clint.
Tony glances at Steve. He's blushing, sure, but in that aw gee shucks way that makes him look totally innocent. Natasha gives Tony a look that says loud and clear that despoiling national icons is no more than she'd expect from him, and that this was her personal favourite national icon, so he should watch his step. For the queen of the blank android faces, Natasha has a very eloquent collection of glares. She leaves though, towing a protesting Clint in her wake with a tight, pinching grip on his elbow.
Tony resists the urge to stamp his feet, but can't quite manage not to pout. Steve's thumb comes up to rub over his lower lip and Tony blinks up at him. Steve looks very pleasingly dishevelled and it seems totally natural to reach for him again. Steve moves back with a graceful couple of steps and looks over Tony's shoulder at the clock.
"It's getting late. Maybe we'd better call it a night," he says.
"Sure, okay, we could do that," Tony says, trying not to let his shoulders slump.
He hears Steve take a deep breath but then he gives up on whatever he was about to say and squeezes Tony's shoulder instead. That large hand slides upwards, to the side of his neck, thumb tracing the wrong way over his beard.
"It's not a no," Steve promises – mind-reading bastard – "It's a soon."
Tony gives him a bright smile and says, "Sure. You betcha, Cap. You just name the time and place."
Steve grins and ducks his head to kiss Tony once more before he goes.
Tony manages to put one foot in front of the other and keep his mouth shut until he's in his bedroom. As soon as the door is shut, he lets out a pathetically whimpery sort of groan.
"Oh my god Tony what the fuck, seriously, what the fuck?"
It is probably still soon enough that calling Pepper for advice would be tacky. Rhodey would just laugh. Tony is screwed. Because that is it, that is the sum total of his resources for weathering an emotional breakdown. Wonderful.
No, okay. It's seduction. Tony knows how to do seduction. The fact that it's Steve 'Captain America, Nazi-punching sensitive artist, cut-me-I-bleed-goodness, oh and also I rescue kittens from trees' Rogers makes no damn difference.
"C'mon, Stark. Man up. Seduction. This, I know how to do."
Tony wakes the next morning with the vague sensation that it might all have been a dream. After a moment's thought, that becomes scarier than it really having happened, because if Tony's subconscious contains candlelit dinners and a teenage-style make-out session that's interrupted by Clint and Natasha, then maybe it's time to look into that therapy people are always telling him he needs. So. Actually real. Actually agreed to go on an actual date with Steve. No. Okay. He totally has time to process this.
In fact, as it turns out, he doesn't have very much time to process at all. Steve is waiting in the kitchen, although he doesn't make the mistake of standing between Tony and the coffee machine. (He is training them so well. It's taking a while, but they're getting there.) For a moment Tony thinks again, hallucination? weirdly detailed fantasy? Because Steve's smile is just normal. Then it softens and heats into something private and Steve bumps their hips together as Tony pours a coffee.
"Hi," he says, and drops a kiss onto Tony's cheek. Then: "That's okay, right? I can do that?"
"Sure you can," Tony says because why not? It feels nice and it doesn't stop him from slurping down his coffee when Steve lingers there. This time, they hear the footsteps coming and Steve steps away after brushing his fingertips over Tony's knuckles.
The interloper this time turns out to be Bruce, nose buried so deeply in a scientific journal that Tony doesn't think he'd have noticed if they were enthusiastically sixty-nining on the kitchen table. In fact, he's muttering to himself so fervently that Steve's moved to ask, "You okay there, Bruce?"
"Yeah," Tony chimes in. "Science, awesome. Scientists, assholes. S'called Stark's Law. Don't let it get to you."
"Right," Bruce agrees with a sigh. "Hi, guys. Coffee going spare?"
Tony pours him a cup, which is pretty damn magnanimous of him. Plus, the silence that follows gives him time to wonder if Steve is going to be like this with the casual touches all the time, because Tony's not sure if he's going to be able to deal with that without resisting the urge to sit up and beg like a well-trained mutt. Bruce gives the two of them a sidelong look.
"Huh. Clint said – but I didn't think – sometimes he gets the strangest ideas about what might wake the other guy up, but – anyway, congratulations."
Tony's brain is still going whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? when Steve, all apple pie and sincerity, says, "Thank you."
"Wow. Weird?" Tony asks when Bruce has shuffled off.
Steve just shrugs. "Not really. Hey, do you want to go to the movies this evening?"
"Uh. Sure. Okay."
"Good." Steve squeezes his hand and adds, "I'll come find you later."
And then he leaves, without getting food or drink, and Tony realises Steve must have been waiting here just to ask him that, must have located himself at the nearest coffee source to Tony's room and waited him out. Wow.
He pours himself another coffee and drinks it on his way down to the workshop, feeling his thoughts grind into gear. He can't remember the last time he went to the actual movie theatre for a date. Had people over to the film room here at home, yeah, but the motives are at least fifty percent ulterior there.
But Pepper wants the specs for the new StarkPhone, and Fury's sent over schematics from some confiscated tech that he wants Tony to look over. Busy, busy. At least work is always familiar and comfortable.
Although as it turns out, going to the movies with Steve is awesome. They see something which makes up with special effects what it lacks in plot. Tony could barely recount the details at all, but Steve laps it up, still so impressed by stuff Tony takes for granted. But whatever, it's also awesome because Steve holds his hand in the dark, leans in to kiss his cheek a couple of times – apparently that is going to become a thing, and Tony is surprisingly okay with that. (Incidentally, Steve paid for both tickets, and the popcorn, and Tony made a crack about old fashioned gentlemen to cover the fact that he wanted to squeal like a tiny little girl.)
After, they walk down to Central Park and people-watch. Well. Steve people-watches. Tony mostly Steve-watches. He thinks Steve is busy sketching people inside his head until he sends Tony an unexpectedly sharp look and asks, "Have you eaten today? Besides popcorn."
"Ah – probably?"
And Tony's not trying to be cute, he honestly can't remember, but Steve has this worried edge to his expression and Tony is not willing for this thing to crash and burn quite yet.
"I could eat. Let's go eat. I know this great Italian place. C'mon, my treat."
Tony doesn't feel especially hungry, but he eats to see the approval on Steve's face which is just – fucked, is what it is, but never mind that. Steve obviously enjoys the food too, and Tony manages to not let him see the check, so it's a win all round.
It's late by the time they get back to the house, but the others are all awake, gathered in the biggest lounge. Jane and Darcy are there too, and everyone but Bruce is varying shades of drunk (it doesn't show on Natasha, but Tony would put money on it anyway. Anything Clint can do, she can do better, she can do anything better than Clint etcetera etcetera).
"Would anyone like a drink?" Steve asks from the doorway. There's a chorus of responses, and Steve catches Tony's wrist. "Come help me?"
Unfair. If Tony pulled that, they would be all over him in an instant. But because it's Steve, no one bats an eyelash. His complaints die as soon as they get into the kitchen and Steve kisses him. And really, Tony doesn't care how ridiculous it is that this keeps happening in the fucking kitchen, because it's happening. Steve's kisses are sweeter and more assured every time until he steps away and actually starts getting the others their drinks. Jesus, all this consideration and stuff. Tony is going to come out in hives.
"Thank you for tonight," Steve says, frighteningly earnest. "I really enjoyed it."
And damn, that's Steve's real super-power, because Tony can't be anything but sincere. "So did I. Again sometime? Soon?"
Steve smiles, steals one more kiss and says, "Definitely."
It's not like Tony expected them to have a whole lot of free time. They're both busy guys and that's okay. Catastrophic things tend to happen when Tony doesn't keep himself busy, and Steve's whole sense-of-duty schtick means he's at S.H.I.E.L.D. a lot, shaking hands and being the handsome, smiley face of a shadowy organisation. A smile like Steve's goes a long way towards smoothing a whole variety of ruffled feathers.
So time alone, tricky, Tony gets that, he really does. He's not some whiny kid, he's a goddamn grown up (technically, by default, whatever, it still counts). So they don't get to spend every waking moment together. Big deal.
Except it kind of is a big deal, because Tony wants Steve, and he kinda has him and kinda doesn't, and it is maddening. Tony is always like this at first, when it's someone he really likes. He gets overly attentive and itchy with the need to breathe the same air. It wears people down more often than it charms them, and Tony knows that, but he can't stop himself.
It seems there's always something, though. Work that needs his attention, Avengers stuff, a call JARVIS refuses to divert for security reasons, awkwardly timed meetings. (Later, Tony will want to kick himself for not spotting a pattern earlier.) While they don't get a lot of free time, Steve is committed to the whole dating thing, so what little they get, they usually spend together.
There's still so much Steve hasn't seen. New, modern, shiny, right-up-Tony's-street kind of things, yeah, but other stuff too, stuff he couldn't do before the serum and didn't have time for after. So Tony finds himself going on a lot of movie dates, and Steve's too innocent, or trusting, or maybe just pleased, to question why the closest independent theatre is having a run on movies from the forties, and then concert footage from the last six decades when he decides he wants to 'catch up' on music. (Actually, the theatre gains quite the reputation, and Tony decides that totally counts as a form of philanthropy, and kind of regrets he can't tease Steve about that.)
Steve unsurprisingly develops a taste for activities that are wholesome, or outdoorsy, or both. Tony has a minor freak-out a couple weeks in when he realises how willingly he's going along with the whole thing, but no, it's okay, he's cool. Even though they go bowling (the shoes, Jesus, Tony wants to cry). Although that one does get crashed by the whole team because JARVIS is a snitch and because right below 'worrying affinity for pointy metal objects' on Clint and Natasha's CVs, it says 'competitive streak a mile wide, still actually a teenager deep down'.
Then add in the fact that, okay the mansion is big, but they basically live together. Which is weird and terrifying, and Tony thinks that pretty much goes without saying. But it has its upsides too. Like everyone keeps weird hours and that includes Steve because sleep is for the weak, or something. So there's times (3 a.m. is a favourite) when Tony's on a bleary-eyed quest for caffeine because if he can just force himself to keep working one more hour he's got this, when he finds Steve instead. Steve kisses him and tries to persuade him to sleep but doesn't get annoying about it, and Tony invariably leaves feeling focused and awake and phew, now I can work. (That is, admittedly, a much larger freak-out. Because other people with influence over his work, tangential or not? Red alert, danger, incoming FUBAR, just – no. No, no, and also no. Did he mention no?)
So they're dating, and Tony is hardly freaking out at all. A lot (most) of what's keeping him steady is Steve. He treats it like it's all so normal that Tony could almost believe nothing's really changed, aside from the kissing. Because wow, the kissing. Steve is gratifyingly enthusiastic about kissing Tony, and it's not like he seems averse to more. Virgin, yes. Shy, no. Really, Tony supposes he's waited more than long enough. Except that's when the fucking somethings keep interrupting them. Dates that aren't busted halfway through by a call for one or both of them end in a way that's soon depressingly familiar.
They get home and Steve drops his head to kiss Tony's cheek and says something like 'thank you for tonight' or 'I had a wonderful time', and once Tony's inner voice has stopped crying and swooning like the girls in old footage of The Beatles, he turns his head to kiss Steve properly. They get caught up in each other and start reeling towards the closest non-communal area and then bam.
If it's not that, then it's work or, one memorable time, Dummy managing to start a small but intense fire in a room barely anyone uses. The alarm drags Tony away from Steve and the couch in the workshop and just a generally really fucking promising situation.
"JARVIS, what the hell?" Tony bitches as he deals with the aftermath and Dummy's robotic shame. "Why didn't you stop him?"
"I'm sorry, sir. My attention was elsewhere. Agent Barton required my assistance in the kitchen."
Tony calls bullshit because whatever Barton might claim, Tony's pretty sure he's scared of JARVIS on some level. He can't imagine a world in which Clint voluntarily occupied enough of JARVIS's operating circuits for JARVIS to miss something like this.
"Not really," Clint says confirms later. "Your damn computer bitched at me for fifteen straight minutes about healthy diet and the relationship to muscle groups used in archery. Can computers get senile?"
"He's an artificial intelligence, not a computer," Tony says, and until recently, he would have said no to the senile thing.
"Artificial dumbass," Clint mutters.
"Oh, yeah. I'm sure your thinking entity that you coded from scratch is way better than mine," Tony says, because JARVIS might be acting weird but one, he's Tony's weirdo, and two, fuck you, Clint.
It's the first little tickle of suspicion but then there is this thing with giant purple slugs (no, really – radioactive slime, the whole bit), and also some bullshit copyright claim, and a failed blackmail attempt (busting his yearly quota and it's only August), so he sort of forgets.
It's a big house, but there's only one supremely awesome TV lounge with a largely automated kitchen attached, and people tend to gather there. Interruptions are pretty inevitable. And like he's been telling himself, work, Avenging, whatever. So no, it's not like Tony at the stage of stamping his feet and ordering everyone out of the house while clinging to Steve's legs. Yet.
He's just not above bribery, either. Except, with the Avengers, it has to be very carefully choreographed bribery, because they are a contrary bunch of assholes on the quiet. Thor's the easiest, because it never takes much to persuade him that what he really needs to do right this minute is go visit Jane. Bruce is next – Tony has to clear out the whole R&D department and tell him to go have fun. To deal with Clint, he has to come up with some extremely smart arrows that he knows Clint won't be able to resist testing for hours on end in the specially equipped archery range Tony knocked up in the grounds precisely for when Clint needs distracting. Natasha is trickier, because she is not likely to respond well to any suggestion of Tony's that she should go spend time doing something fun and away, just to spite him. That is the kind of person she is, seriously. He settles pretty much for annoying her until she announces to everyone that she's going away for the day and only call her if it's the kind of life and death they cannot handle without her.
Tony is a fucking master manipulator, and the fact that Clint makes a quiet joke that Thor doesn't seem to get but laughs along with anyway could be totally unconnected to his machinations.
Whatever, it works. The house is empty when Steve wanders down to the workshop. He looks like he's just showered after a workout, and Tony's mouth goes dry at the sight of him. He kind of likes the way they keep finding each other, like they gravitate towards each other now.
There's a ball game on that Steve wants to watch, except surely he's gotta know by now that putting his arm around Tony's shoulder like that and tugging him closer is not the way to enjoy uninterrupted televisual delights. Tony curls against Steve's deliciously solid body and locks his arms around Steve's waist, determined that very fucking little is going to get him to lose that grip. (He's talking imminent nuclear war, Godzilla in central park, that kind of thing.)
They're kissing before the pre-match entertainment has drawn to a close. Tony can't decide whether or not he should be surprised that Steve is really kinda bossy about this. Either way, Tony isn't complaining, but he'd like to be sure whether he should have seen this coming a mile off or if it's an unexpected gift from an unusually benevolent god. He'll think about that later, maybe, when he doesn't have Steve's hands on his face, on his shoulders, hauling him into Steve's lap.
"Oh god, okay – that's really easy for you, isn't it?"
"Uh-huh," Steve murmurs, nudging Tony's head back to kiss his throat.
"So, theoretically speaking, how long do you think you could hold me up for."
Steve huffs a laugh against Tony's jaw. "Theoretically? How long would we need?"
Tony groans and squeezes his eyes shut. "Theoretically, I think we're talking like two minutes, maybe three."
Steve laughs properly this time and looks Tony in the eye. From the way the corners of his mouth pinch into a smile, Tony thinks he might have been about to say something. He doesn't though, just kisses Tony again, pulling until Tony's braced above him, hands on the back of the sofa.
"Do you maybe wanna take this somewhere a little less Barton-accessible?" Tony offers.
For a moment he thinks he's blown it, because Steve goes very still before he says, "Yes."
"Sure?" Tony tests. "I should warn you now, I pretty much only settle for extremely enthusiastic consent."
Steve laughs at him. "Stupid. Trying to work out whose room is closer."
"Oh. Mine," Tony says. "Elevator."
And Steve – because he is not normal, and apparently really damn horny with it – stands up from the couch without letting go of Tony and moves towards the door.
"Stoppit," Tony protests, sliding down Steve's body to stand on his own two feet. "I feel like you're going to tuck me into bed or – "
"Eventually," Steve says, and Tony can feel his face sliding into a delighted grin.
"Captain Rogers, for you, that was almost scandalous," Tony says, taking one of Steve's hands in both of his own and tugging him towards the elevator. "Someone is a terrible influence on you, I approve."
"Give yourself a pay-rise, then," Steve quips, and they fumble each other into the elevator.
Tony jabs at the button that will take them into his room and something in his stomach is doing a fucking crazy dance, oh, shit. He's got Steve pushed up against one of the mirrored walls when the elevator grinds to a halt between floors. Normally, stuck in an elevator with Steve – maybe at S.H.I.E.L.D., because no one has ever accused Tony of having too much respect for authority – would make it onto Tony's top ten fantasy scenarios. Only the fantasy doesn't involve an alarm that just won't quit no matter what overrides he tries.
"I have a penknife," Steve offers.
Tony smirks. "Boy Scout. Of course you do. Gimme."
It takes him less than ten minutes, but still five more than it should have done, and by the time they get down to the ground floor, Clint has been summoned by the alarms, and Pepper arrives minutes later in a car driven by Natasha, the alarm obviously having gone to one or both of their phones. The fact that they came in a single car is interesting, or would be if Tony was feeling anything other than self-pity at another moment biting the dust.
Tony resolutely does not sulk when Steve insists on fixing the ladies drinks like a real gentleman. Thinking about it though, it's probably not safe to be post-coitally relaxed within a ten mile radius of Natasha. There's letting your guard down and then there's just asking for trouble. Tony settles for a mug of coffee and leaning into Steve's side a little when they sit on the couch.
Tony is a man on a mission. Because while dating Steve like this has been way better than he expected, he is pretty eager to get to the part of dating that involves sex. And the thing is, while Steve's not great with dirtier words than goddamn, he's pretty sure Steve wants that, too. There is no mistaking his body-language, the unabashedly covetous or adoring looks he gives Tony even in company (moderately scary: he's not sure which one he likes best). And Tony is totally sex-positive and stuff – if two or more consenting adults want to have some kind of sex, they should be allowed – encouraged – to have that sex. Because sex is great, and he thinks it's gonna be even greater when he can already read Steve like a book.
So. Mission. Which is why he's got Steve pushed up against the counter in the kitchen (and really, that Steve will let Tony push him anywhere is still a bit of a thrill) at almost midnight. The kitchen part of the equation is not great – déjà vu all over again – but Steve is eager and grabby, and Tony cannot help thinking that bodes really, really well.
He groans and slides his hand down to cover Steve's belt buckle. "You – you make me very aware of all the ways in which I am not a good man," he admits, and Steve laughs.
Laughs, yeah, but he also covers Tony's hand with his own and – hallelujah, bless the world and everyone in it – pushes Tony's hand lower.
"Yes. Okay, that's – wow, damn, man. Should I offer congratulations, or – no, okay, I'm being quiet, okay, don't give me that face, look how quiet I am being," Tony says as he explores the hard ridge in Steve's jeans. Steve flushes and drops his head just far enough to kiss Tony.
"I think," Tony says when they part. "I think, bedroom maybe?" Steve nods jerkily and Tony goes on, "Yeah, bedroom, good, okay." He hooks his fingers into Steve's belt and tugs him along. "C'mon, c'mon," he babbles. "God, waiting sucks, I am so, so bad at waiting."
"Really?" Steve asks, admirably straight-faced. "That is something I did not know about you."
"Smartass. You are such a smartass, seriously. Were you this mouthy pre-serum?"
"I told you I got beat up a lot," Steve reminds him, and Tony laughs.
"I'd like to see anyone try that these days."
"To be fair, you see that pretty regularly."
"Mmm. True. Hot."
"Someone trying to beat me up is hot?"
"You flinging someone three city blocks without breaking a sweat is hot," Tony corrects.
"You're so weird, Tony."
It's said affectionately though, so Tony just shrugs and nods in one gesture. They get all of halfway to Steve's room when JARVIS interrupts with the noisy silence that's his version of clearing his throat.
"There is an urgent call for Captain Rogers from S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters."
"Oh my god, this is ridiculous," Steve says, laughing, and does he have to be so damn good-natured about everything? It's sickening.
"Maybe we're just never meant to have sex," Tony says mournfully. "It's like fate, or something."
The look Steve shoots him as JARVIS patches through the call is pleasingly sceptical.
It's not fate. It's JARVIS.
The realisation hits him when he's in the kitchen one evening, waiting for coffee and mulling over a couple of old ideas while he waits for a new one to take shape. It could have been coincidence at first, but too many things are stacking up all of a sudden, too many little ways JARVIS has been violating his code and Tony has shrugged it off because hey, JARVIS is smart, right?
JARVIS is soooo fucking smart.
"JARVIS, privacy mode."
Before, he wouldn't have bothered, but now he actually checks that JARVIS is not monitoring anything before he grabs for his phone. He also shuts the door because technology is great, but eavesdropping still works.
He has to psych himself up a little for the call, but Tony is way, way past caring about being tacky. Tacky is far from the worst thing he's ever been called.
"Pepperrrrrrr," he whines. "JARVIS is conspiring against me."
"He won't let me screw Steve."
"He – won't?"
"And I know, I know I am an asshole for calling you about it, I know every halfway decent thing I have ever done in the whole of our acquaintance just got totally obliterated by this phone call, but I – " Tony drops his forehead to the tabletop. "My AI, the one I built to act in my best interests, is cock-blocking me."
"Why would he do that?"
"I have literally no idea. I mean, he set up all this – candlelit dinner, and fake emergencies or – well, okay, not fake, just liberally defined, and – "
Something in Pepper's tone was wrong, he realises belatedly. Not 'why would he do that' but 'why would he do that'. Tony remembers what he thought about the dinner, about JARVIS having help beyond caterers.
"Pepper! Why would you – "
"Try to make you happy?" she interrupts, and he can almost see her kicking off her shoes and curling up a little in her chair. "I know. We're dastardly."
"But – okay, so why go to all this trouble to hook us up and then start setting off fucking fire alarms every time I think I'm gonna get south of the border?"
"That, I can't help you with," Pepper says. "Ask JARVIS, maybe."
Tony groans. "But he's such a sarcastic asshole."
"Well if you program the help to be British..." she says, sounding way too cheerful. "Is that all? I have a company to run, if you remember?"
"I do," Tony says. "I do recall something about that."
"Board of directors meeting next Wednesday," she says. "Do you recall that?"
"Vaguely. Kind of. A little."
"Do you recall that I need you to be there? Sober, happy – "
"Wildly enthusiastic about your leadership. Trust me, I will have something awesome, no, I will have three awesome things for you."
"Next Wednesday, Tony."
"Yeah, gotcha. Bye, Pep." He hangs up before she can say something uncharitable and stomps down to the workshop. If he has to have a fucking heart-to-motherboard conversation with JARVIS, then he's doing it somewhere private.
He turns over ways of saying it that don't sound pathetic, but the situation is what it is and, well, the best he's got by the time he gets the door shut and locked behind himself is, "JARVIS. Are you trying to stop me from sleeping with Steve?"
"No, no, don't sir me, you jumped up abacus, that was a direct question about your operating parameters. Answer."
There's a heavy pause. "Yes, sir."
"Oh wow," Tony says, reeling a little. He'd hoped to be wrong about that, because wow, okay, even people who aren't technically people think he's not good enough for Steve.
"That – not cool, JARVIS. Not cool at all. Why would you – no, okay, I know exactly why you would, but – " It is ridiculous that Tony has to swallow a lump in his throat, because hurt feelings are something that happen to other people, but yeah. Definitely an ouch moment.
"Some things are none of your business. I am going to reprogram you," Tony promises. "No, I am going to let Dummy reprogram you."
There's a pause in which Dummy makes a hopeful sort of pvvvvt? noise, and then JARVIS says, "Your well-being is my primary concern, sir." He manages to sound offended and apologetic all at once, and Tony sighs. He supposes he only has himself to blame if JARVIS knows him better than 99% of his actual human acquaintances.
"How does that contribute to my well-being?"
"Your usual behaviour is not conducive to the development of a lasting relationship, sir. I merely thought some deviation from routine might prove fruitful in this instance."
"So that's a yes on the cock-blocking, then?"
"I calculated that the long-term benefits of courting Captain Rogers outweighed your frustrations in the short-term."
Tony rubs his hands over his face. "Oh my god. Robot chaperone. Also, don't ever say courting or call him Captain Rogers again, you sound like a teeny-bopper with a crush."
"Mr Stark, if you would allow me to explain – "
"No. Mute. Dummy, bring me a drink. Large, no less than thirty five percent proof, okay? And don't let anyone in behind you."
JARVIS is an asshole. Dummy is way cooler, Tony decides when the little guy returns with not a glass, but a full bottle of vodka.
"I'm gonna put Dummy in charge of the house," Tony announces to the ceiling. JARVIS is obeying the mute for once, but Tony swears he can feel chilly disapproval radiating down on him as he cracks the seal on the bottle and waves away the coffee cup Dummy nudges his way.
Tony would love to be the type of person who proves people wrong when they doubt him. He has a better track record when it comes to proving them right. And anyway, JARVIS is a super computer with an IQ of a billionty, so proving him wrong has got to be an exercise in futility and wow, this is good vodka. Like a stiletto blade of ice right to the corpus callosum. Good shit.
People have said to Tony you just don't think when you're drunk. Sometimes that's true. Mostly it's bullshit. Tony thinks way, way too much when he's drunk. He thinks so hard he has to have another drink. He thinks so hard he's here, now, knocking on Steve's bedroom door at close to three in the morning.
Steve answers after the third round of gentle tapping, which is great, because Tony was about to start increasing the volume and Clint's room is closest, and that guy is serious about his sleep. Tony can't imagine how an enraged archer will contribute positively to the already suck-tastic conversation he has to have. And he does have to have it, because Tony is all about doing the right thing these days.
And oh god, fuck, Steve all rumpled and half-asleep and, Jesus, just fucking edible is not helping his resolve at all. Should have picked a better time. Although, really, there's no time when Tony doesn't want to climb Steve like a tree. This though, seeing Steve yawn and blink confused blue eyes, hearing the sleep-roughened rasp of his voice shaping Tony's name seems extra unfair. I never even got to have that, he thinks woefully, and right, the silence is dragging, and he's just sort of staring at Steve.
"Uh. Do you wanna come in?" Steve asks eventually.
Does he want to go into Steve's room, where there is a skin-warm bed that will smell of Steve? Emphatically no, but this is not a conversation to have in the hallway, so he lies through his teeth and says, "That'd be good, thanks."
The lamp by Steve's bedside is switched on, a honey-rich glow over the whole room as Steve sits down on the edge of the bed and pats the mattress next to him.
"I, uh. I will stand," Tony says. "I have some things I have to say. A thing. One thing."
"Tony, have you been drinking?"
"Only for a little while, listen, okay?" Tony says hurriedly, overriding Steve's objections hurriedly. "So here's the thing. I am so bad at this, Steve. So bad that even my own AI is trying to protect me from myself, or maybe you from me, I'm still a little hazy on the details. Point is, I would make and in fact have made a horrible boyfriend. The message seems to be that you shouldn't trust me because I am an asshole, so. So it's a shame, because you are – I have enjoyed the hell out of this but I am not – I'm not for this. This is not for me."
Steve's suddenly right in front of him, pressing his fingers to Tony's mouth. Shit, how does he even move that fast? "Don't. Don't ditch me while you're drunk. You'll feel so stupid in the morning, but you'll probably follow through rather than just admit you were wrong, so can we please just save ourselves the stress?"
That...actually sounds a lot like something Tony would do. Possibly even has done. Still, Tony has a point here, and he will not be put off by something so minor as reason or common sense.
"Even the things I make with my own hands have no faith in me, so you need to – to not," Tony says, his mouth moving against Steve's fingers.
"I – I'm not having this conversation with you while you're drunk," Steve says. "Come here."
Tony shouldn't. That was the whole point of this, to make Steve see that Tony is not the person to be doing this with, that Steve could do better with pretty much anyone else. Toss a stone in a moderately crowded public space and he'd hit someone better. Steve doesn't wait for a no though, just catches Tony's wrist in one big hand, thumbs at the vein in his forearm and tugs him gently closer.
"Come on. Here."
"What – what's the – " the point, he wants to say.
Steve cuts him off. "I just want to hold you. Now will you please come here?"
And that's – reasonable, Tony supposes. He lets Steve pull him down onto the bed. It is, of course, distressingly easy for Steve to arrange Tony so he has his head on Steve's chest, body splayed against him. It's an awkward position until Steve sort of slides down, his whole body a cradle.
Okay. If Steve just doesn't let Tony break up with him, that's okay, right? He tried. He tried to do the good thing and he got shot down so it's not his fault and he can just...have this.
"Go to sleep, Tony."
"Steeeeeve." He's allowed to be annoying now because Steve still wants him even though he knows Tony is a mess. That's how it works.
"Tony – "
"Give me a kiss."
Steve sighs, more fond than exasperated, and cranes his neck to drop a kiss onto Tony's forehead.
"Even I could get a buzz from the fumes on your breath, so before you say anything, that's all you're getting."
"Wasn't gonna," Tony insists sleepily as he – not snuggles, something less embarrassing than snuggles into Steve's side, soothed by the thump of his heart.
In the morning, he wakes hungover and miserably embarrassed, and he doesn't know whether to feel better or worse that Steve is gone. That's about all that registers before sleep claims him again. The next time he wakes, Steve is there, curled around Tony like he never left. He brushes at Tony's bed-head and smiles down at him.
"Hey," Tony says, scrubbing at his eyes.
"I spoke to JARVIS."
"You did? Wow. I'd have liked to have been there for that."
"Well. You seemed...bothered – "
"Well done, that's – that was very tactfully put." Thank god his mouth takes over in times of crippling terror, right?
"It isn't that he doesn't have faith in you," Steve says, and he is not stopping. Why is he not stopping, people usually stop if Tony bullshits with enough authority.
Tony rolls his eyes. "Oh, lord. He has exactly as much faith in me as I do, lesson learned, thank you and goodnight."
"No. Considerably more, I think. He...cares about you. Wants you to be happy. He just felt like, maybe the way you usually do things is maybe not. Not ideal? I think he just wanted to shake things up a little. Uh." Steve blushes faintly and glances down. "I explained that maybe he didn't need to change everything, that maybe this is as slow as either of us can go."
"You – wow. Forties man and a programmed intelligence on the sexual mores of the twenty-first century. Did JARVIS keep a recording?"
"We agreed he would wipe it."
"So he's going to give us some space."
Steve nods. "Seriously."
"I – you are a genius. And, you know, takes one to know one, so I don't say that lightly."
"I brought you coffee – "
" – but it's probably cold by now – "
"Don't care, gimme gimme."
The coffee is mostly cold, but it's still caffeine, and Tony slurps down half the cup while he tries to work out what he should be most embarrassed about. That he got rom-commed by his AI, that Steve and JARVIS had a conversation Tony will never be able to access, or the roaring-drunk-early-morning-vomiting-feelings-he-didn't-even-know-he-had episode. No, okay, definitely that last one, no matter how he tries to spin it. He fights the urge to curl into a very small ball of shame and wait until Steve goes away.
No. He's cooler than that. Marginally. He swirls the remains of the coffee around in his cup and cuts a glance at Steve, who is leaning back against the headboard and smiling faintly at Tony. He looks neat already, just dark jeans and a white t-shirt, but he makes it look so wholesome Tony's teeth ache.
"So uh – " Tony clears his throat, swigs the last of the coffee. "You still want – "
"Tony. Of course I – "
"Because I was a mess last night, that was the very definition – when people say, oh, Tony Stark, he's a messy drunk, stuff like last night is what they're talking about."
"Will you stop interrupting me?"
"No, I – I suppose I was mostly done. JARVIS aside, I don't see why this has to be complicated. I want to be with you, you want to be with me. You do want to be with me, right?"
"Well, then." Steve plucks the coffee cup from Tony's hand and sets it back on the bedside table, catching hold of Tony's fingers after and rubbing across his knuckles. Steve looks at Tony through his lashes and Tony's stomach does a swooping, clenching thing that he tries really hard to put down to the cold coffee.
It's a little bit daunting to know they won't be interrupted by JARVIS. Oh sure, their lives are such that an emergency is never exactly far away, but if they have to stop it'll be for something actually serious, not because Steve's old fashioned morals have somehow infected Tony's AI. Although there's little old fashioned about the way Steve gets him pinned to the bed and hovers above him, smile making his eyes go soft.
Tony wriggles. "Don't even think about kissing me. Even if JARVIS didn't put you off, my morning breath will. Let me shower."
Steve seems to consider that for a moment. "Let me scrub your back?"
"Done deal," Tony says promptly. "C'mere, come on, you are gonna love the shower in my room."
Well, Tony says shower. It's more of a wet-room. Multiple shower heads, offering everything from jets to mists to gentle patters. Also, there's a sauna option. It's stupidly self-indulgent, but Steve looks entranced. Tony shoves him towards the controls with a 'go play' and hastily brushes his teeth. By the time Tony's ready to join him, Steve is soaking wet, hair darkened and glistening where it's plastered to his head. He turns and reaches out a hand to Tony who takes it, unapologetically letting his eyes wander over Steve's body and, well. Damn.
In spite of JARVIS's best intentions, Tony's copped enough of a feel to know that Steve is packing in proportion to the rest of his ridiculously sexy body, but seeing him totally naked – and wet, can't forget that part – is something else. Steve lets him look for a moment, the blush building in his cheeks before he pulls Tony in for a kiss.
"God, you are – I just want to lick you," Tony tells him. Steve laughs against his mouth, kisses his cheekbone and down to the angle of his jaw. His arms go around Tony's waist in an easy embrace, his thumbs tracing quarter circles over the small of Tony's back as he nods at the arc reactor.
"Is that safe in water?"
"Shoot, no, I need to cover it with a plastic bag, thanks for reminding me," Tony teases. "Of course it's safe in water. I'm – "
"A genius, I know. How am I supposed to know? Metal rusts, I'm sure that hasn't changed."
There is an unpleasant truth about why Tony was so determined to make the reactor technology water-resistant, but this moment is too warm and beautiful to ruin. There will be dark nights to whisper the ugly stuff, Tony is sure of it, and even that is kinda beautiful too.
He kisses Steve instead of talking, and Steve is totally on board with that, his arms tightening around Tony to draw him closer. Even Steve's lips feel wet, and the slick way their bodies slide together makes Tony's breath catch.
"I wasn't kidding about scrubbing my back," Tony says, clawing his way towards some semblance of control. "I think my oil stains have oil stains. I'll deny it if you repeat this, but it's possible I've been spending too much time in the workshop."
Steve pretends to stagger in shock, uses the movement to reach past Tony and grab a handful of shower gel from one of the dispensers set into the wall. His hands are cooler this time as they sweep over Tony's back. Tony drops his head onto Steve's shoulder and the noise he makes is part-moan, but part-whimper too, and he just squeezes his eyes shut, lets Steve touch.
"Turn around," Steve says, his voice a low rumble against Tony's ear. Tony doesn't think he can be blamed for his knees going a little weak at that, but Steve being Steve, he meant turn around so I can rub your shoulders, not turn around so I can do unspeakably dirty things to your lower half.
And Tony was serious about getting Steve to wash his back, he really was. It's just that he was more serious about getting Steve to do it rather than having it done – it makes sense in Tony's head, okay, that's what matters. It's too much though, Steve's big hands squeezing at him, the knowledge that Steve is right there, and hello, very much naked.
He jerks out of Steve's hold and they crash together. Steve steadies them easily, which is great because it gives Tony chance to focus on the important things like kissing Steve's mouth until they're both gasping, then his throat, his shoulders, his chest, until the only way he can get any further is to get on his knees, and Tony has zero objections there. Steve makes a strangled noise and stares down at Tony, looking equal parts confused and turned on, his eyes huge and his lower lip sucked in between his teeth.
Steve's stomach is hard under Tony's mouth and he can feel it when Steve sucks in a breath. (It is not the only thing that's hard, Jesus, there is an actual chance Tony is dying and having some kind of final flare of consciousness wish-fulfilment that could be mistaken for heaven.) Part of Tony wants to tease, wants to drag it out til he hears the voice that goes with that look on Steve's face, but Steve is chewing his lip ragged and he looks like something important in his brain has seized up, looks helpless.
And there's not really much he could say that would trump that so Tony gets his hands on Steve's hips, breathing open-mouthed against Steve's abs to taste him over the nothingness of the shower water. He kisses Steve again, his hip, his navel, and he does get to lick then, at a drop of water tracing its way down Steve's skin. Steve shifts on his feet and his fingers rub through Tony's hair.
"You like that?"
"Don't be stupid, of course I do."
Tony hums happily and lets his hands wander a little, over Steve's thighs, up to his waist and back down again.
"You – "
"You're so hot," he says with a self-conscious little chuckle.
It's harder to keep himself steady when he can't just talk and talk and talk. But he has Steve gasping, loud over the drumming of water, and it's too much to give up. And really, there is only so long Tony can ignore the proof of Steve's arousal. Even without JARVIS's intervention, Tony would have wanted to take this part slow. Not spook Steve, or push him too far. Steve, who has never been with another person, let alone another guy. Steve, who is shaking just a little whenever Tony touches him, just a thrum through those gorgeous muscles, who has his hands in Tony's hair and isn't even trying to hesitate, hasn't once said anything like stop or slow down.
Steve's easy acceptance makes Tony bolder and he sucks the head of Steve's cock into his mouth, just the very head where the flavour is richest. The skin is softness over hardness over heat and Tony lets his lips part further, lets himself have more.
"Oh my god, that feels incredible," Steve says in a low rush, and Tony wants to hug himself because seriously, he's barely even started yet. But he doesn't get any further, because Steve's fingers brush over his cheek, the very corner of his lips, and he says, "Can we – Tony, can we get out?"
And – out, really? Because that translates to 'please take your mouth off my dick', which is not really a phrase Tony is accustomed to.
"Uh – okay. If you wanna."
"I just – " Steve says. "If I slip and fall you'll never let me hear the end of it."
"If you slip and fall I'm buying myself a fucking medal."
"See? Like that," Steve says, and he sets his hand on Tony's shoulder, urges him to his feet.
"Okay, c'mon, then. Water off," he calls, and hustles Steve out of the shower, and Steve's reaching for a towel – really? Priorities, Rogers. Tony feels like he should be offended – when Tony kisses him again.
"If you liked the shower, you're gonna love the bed," Tony says cheerfully, pushing Steve towards it and oh god, that's a flicker of doubt on Steve's face, Tony knows it, and goddamn, second thoughts are the bane of his fucking life, seriously. His mouth sort of takes over, burbles on about, "Not just in a dirty way, I mean it's, uh – comfortable and the – the sunrise looks pretty special from right here, and it's – uh – large, so – "
Inside he is screaming, please, please interrupt me and maybe Steve is a little psychic on top of everything else, because, bless him, he does.
"You should have let me grab a towel. The sheets'll get wet."
"That's – okay, I am failing at my whole life if you're still thinking about getting the sheets wet, Jesus. I mean, I don't think you understand the extent to which I do not care about the sheets right now."
"I just – "
"No, seriously, that's your crisis? You're adorable."
"I'm not having a crisis."
"No? Good, me neither. And I solemnly swear to sleep in the wet spot. Or, you know, whine until we switch to your room, okay? So. Are we good? Bed?"
"We're good. And yes. Yes to bed."
"Good! It's awesome to be on the same page about that." Tony hooks his hand around the back of Steve's neck and cranes upward to kiss him. "In the interests of being on the same page about everything else, how would you feel about fucking me?"
Steve kinda splutters and his cheeks burn as he tries to pull back to look at Tony. Tony only lets him go so far before kissing him again. "I don't – " Steve says against his mouth. "I never – "
"I figured," Tony says, trying to just breeze past it. "First time out, yeah? So my thinking is, you're in the driving seat, plus you get to see what someone who loves getting fucked looks like."
Steve blushes. Yep. Naked as they day he was born, hard as a rock, and he fucking blushes. Tony wants to keep him forever.
"Oh, yeah," Tony says, hauling Steve closer to whisper,"There's nothing like it, Steve,"
Finally, finally, Tony gets Steve over to the bed, pulls Steve down over him and just lets himself get lost in the pleasure of Steve's body above him. Steve's hand curls around his jaw, tilts Tony to the right angle to kiss him deep and slow and crazy-good.
"Show me," Steve says, and fuck, that's his command voice, definitely, and Tony – well, this is the one place Tony doesn't resent being told what to do. "Show me how to make it good for you."
"Uh. Yeah, I can do that," Tony assures him. "I can totally do that."
He tries to wriggle away to reach for supplies, but Steve only lets him move far enough to ascertain his target before he pushes Tony back into the bed and reaches over himself. There's the bossy streak, Tony thinks fondly. Alive and well, that's good to know.
The last of Tony's patience runs out when Steve casts a look up down his body and tells him, "My god, Tony, I want you so much."
Tony's stomach clenches up tight and he has to close his eyes for a second, force out a slow, careful breath. "Okay, good, here." He snatches the lube from Steve's fist and slicks his own fingers. With Steve crouched above him the way he is, it takes a bit of stretching, but he's almost got a finger inside himself when Steve shifts, catches hold of his wrist.
Tony wants to cry, because seriously?
But Steve goes on, "I want – can I do that?"
"Hell yes," Tony tells him immediately, tossing the lube back in Steve's direction and letting his arms fall to his sides, his legs spread.
Steve stares at him for a long moment and it's a little unnerving to have Steve study him the way Captain America studies a tactical situation. But given Cap's success rate with all things tactical, maybe it bodes well. Steve's first touch is a hesitant blur of sensation and Tony has to urge him on, tilting his hips as he rolls his head back into the pillows.
With the inward press, Tony shifts his hips, focusing on relaxing, because he wants to make this not just good but easy for Steve, has to trust to his body to show Steve how much Tony wants him.
Quickly he's insisting, "Go on, gimme more," and Steve looks up at him the corners of his lips quirked into what might be a smile. But there's a question on his face too, and Tony groans. He fully intended not to be a selfish bastard, but if he's being selfish on both their behalves, maybe it's okay?
"Really, honestly, totally sure," he insists. "And if you were anyone else, I'd threaten to put you on your back and do the work myself, but that'd be pretty much the definition of an empty threat, so..."
Steve seems more able to function with the constant flow of Tony's bullshit in his ear, so Tony carries on about, "Next time, yeah. That'd be really hot, and – Christ, I just want it, Steve."
Somewhere in the middle of that, Steve gets another slick finger into Tony's body and Tony pushes into the stretch, babble tailing off for a second into a long, breathy yeaaaah. There's a single lock of Steve's hair hanging in his face, dripping water or sweat onto his brow and along to his temple. He still looks tightly controlled, but with a definite edge of something else creeping up fast.
"Push a little deeper," Tony urges. "And sorta – curl your fingers," he says, thinking maybe Steve can reach – stupid, of course he can. Right there. "That, I am gonna teach you about in extensive detail," Tony promises, the sudden spike of pleasure making the words heavy and hot in his throat. "There may be a quiz after."
Steve looks like he might laugh but kisses Tony instead, high up on the inside of his thigh, so close to where Tony's guiltily imagined him that he goes silent to keep from begging, fingers curled so tight into the sheets that they ache. And of course, it's fucking dangerous to let Steve have this kind of ammo. His eyes light up and he leans more weight into the push of his fingers, keeps up an angle and pace that makes Tony see stars every time. He's writhing and moaning and it would be embarrassing if Steve wasn't so...Steve. If he wasn't looking at Tony in a way that makes him sure Steve is noting his every response, if his whole face wasn't lit up like Tony is the best thing in the fucking world.
Tony has to stop him, because otherwise this show is going to be over way too soon, and Steve looks down at him, concern obvious on his face.
"Did it hurt?"
"Not even a little," Tony assures him. "Just, ah – go easy yeah, or you're gonna make me embarrass myself. Another finger, go on."
Steve does, nodding absently to himself, over-generous with the lube to the point where Tony feels soaked with it, where every little movement produces a slick, slapping noise that makes Steve's ears blaze with the force of his blush. Tony can't stop smiling, loving the play of expressions over Steve's face – surprise and then pleasure and urgency by turns, like getting his fingers inside Tony is the most fascinating thing that's ever happened to him.
God, Steve is wonderful (or terrible depending on your point of view) for Tony's ego.
"That's enough, I'm ready," Tony insists. It's technically mostly true. It's not quite enough, but Tony is more than ready, so he thinks it evens itself out. Steve doesn't seem to be buying it though.
"Tony – "
"C'mon, believe me, I will train you well young Jedi, but for now, only one of us can claim to be an expert about what does it for my body," Tony tells him, barely even trying to keep the whine out of his voice. "Come on, Steve. I want it."
"But you – " Steve's voice shakes, just a little. "You're still so tight."
"And that's why it's fun for you, too. Don't make me beg. Unless that's your thing, I can do that if that's your thing, just give me a second to, you know, adjust my mindset into that of someone who begs."
"If I do it, will you stop talking?"
"Maybe, I don't know. Depends how you do it."
Steve sort of laughs, and sort of shakes his head despairingly. "God, you – I can't keep up with you."
"Sure you can, you're doing fine," Tony promises him, running a hand through Steve's hair. "Don't bail on me now, handsome."
Steve kisses him then, missing his mouth and catching his chin at first until they right themselves and Tony drinks down the unique flavour of the moan that shivers out of Steve.
"Do I – need a condom?" Steve asks, his voice hot against Tony's cheek.
Oh. Hmm. "Well. You're immune to all known infections, viruses and basically...everything. And I'm a lot cleaner than my reputation would have you believe, so – "
"Oh, god, Tony, I didn't mean that!" Steve says, his face falling, and they really need to have a conversation about how much of what Tony says Steve can totally, utterly disregard.
"I know, I'm kidding. I'm saying – you know. Your call."
Steve leans down to kiss Tony, whispers, "No, then. If that's okay."
"Sure." Honestly. If that's okay. Tony wants to laugh, but there's something blocking the noise as he watches Steve slick himself, the flushed head of his cock obscene as it juts from his fist.
The first push of slow, blunt pressure is intense, and Tony wonders if he has been, for want of a better word, cocky. But Steve tucks his face into Tony's throat and he's breathing – not fast, but hard, as though every breath is effortful. It sets off a rush of tenderness that Tony resolves to think about later – or maybe never, that would work too – and he kisses the top of Steve's head, every smart-ass comment dying in his mouth as soon as he thinks of them. Steve sinks into him, slow and careful, but nothing can hide the fact that Tony can feel it everywhere.
"Easy, now," Tony says, hands on Steve's hips. "Give me a minute."
Steve makes a strangled noise against Tony's throat and Tony strokes through his hair. Steve's almost trembling with the effort of holding still and Tony feels bad for that but Steve is, yeah ha-ha, big all over and Tony just needs to breathe for a second. Maybe two.
"Okay," Tony tells him. His hands feel like they're burning on Steve's body, over-hot everywhere they're touching.
"What do – "
"Universal language," Tony tells him, patting Steve's hip. "You know what to do."
And Steve does, obviously. He gives a slow roll of his hips, too hesitant and not hard enough, but that's somehow okay too. Tony makes a sound of encouragement and runs his fingers through Steve's hair. Steve turns into the touch without looking at Tony, and the next time he pushes in, it's slow and deep.
"Yeah, that's good," Tony urges. "Just like that, go on."
When Steve lifts his head, his eyes are dark and lust-blown and Tony never wants him to look any different. He's hesitant at first, probably as much to keep from coming as to save Tony any discomfort, but when he gets his groove, he's shockingly good at it. Super-serum, natural rhythm, heavenly blessing, what the fuck ever, Tony loves it.
"Is that okay?" Steve asks, and he barely sounds out of breath. Christ, they are going to have so much fun. Tony makes a mental note to look up a copy of the Kama Sutra because seriously, every damn position.
"That is great," Tony assures him. "Little harder? Or not, whatever, have fun. I am."
Steve gasps out a laugh, tells him, "You're ridiculous."
"And you're like a sex-savant or something."
Tony wasn't joking before, wasn't (just) trying to turn Steve on, he really does love getting fucked by someone that knows what they're doing. And Steve – hell, Steve is a fast learner. Tony arches his back, squeezes down on Steve and the response is perfect. Tony wants to immortalise it, wants the film clip playing in his head on a loop, the way Steve's face goes startled and then wild, the way his lips shiver as he says, do that again, don't stop that, the eager way his hands skitter across Tony's body, disorganised but desperate.
Tony's done a lot in his life (of stupid things goes without saying, but right now he means the good things). Stuff that's been described as revolutionary works of genius with implications for the future of humanity at large (Time magazine's words, not his), but now he's made Steve look like that, and somehow that feels like the most expert, accomplished thing he's ever done.
Steve's got one hand on the bed, holding his weight easily while his other hand touches Tony's face, traces his lips. Steve gets that look again, that I cannot believe how much I cannot believe what you're doing look, when Tony catches the tip of Steve's thumb between his lips, traces the curve of his nail and sucks.
Steve's thrusts falter and then pick up again, faster this time. Tony hooks his ankles together behind Steve's back, a low moan dragging out of his chest. There's no hiding the grin on Steve's face, like something has clicked into place, and he makes a small circle with his hips as he pushes in and holy shit, is this instinct or just Steve being obnoxiously good at everything physical, or what? Tony doesn't really care because goddamn, Steve has totally got this, and who cares why, right?
Steve looms over and kisses him, a gasping press of their lips, and the change in position makes Tony cry out into Steve's mouth. And Steve knows he's got this, looks all happy and whatever the polite-person version of smug is. Add it to the list of things he doesn't care about, because most of Tony's higher functioning is focused on not reaching for his own dick and giving himself the approximately three and a half strokes it'd take to get him off. Steve seems to read the thought in his eye and his hand curls around Tony's bicep, down the length of his arm to curl their fingers together and press Tony's hand into the bed about shoulder height.
Tempting as it is to stay where he is and just take it, Tony wants to see how else he can make Steve looks so he moves with him, hips working to meet Steve's hard thrusts. Their lips catch occasionally, barely worth calling a kiss, just a scalding rush of Steve's breath over his mouth.
"Is that good?" Steve asks.
Asshole, he thinks, but manages to say, "Don't be such a dumb blond."
"Tony. Tell me."
Tony throws his head back into the pillows. "Yes. Okay? Yes. It's good, of course it's good, don't – ah – don't stop."
"I'm not – I don't want to," Steve tells him, low, like confession.
"Well that works out nicely," Tony says, letting his nails wander along Steve's spine to hear him hiss, to feel the little catch in his breath and the way his thrusts speed up. Tony is going to learn every single one of those little tells, he promises himself. Because Steve's body is gorgeous and exploring it is going to be fun (and maybe just a little because of the different shades that flit over Steve's eyes like thoughts dancing through his head).
Tony catches hold of the back of Steve's neck and pulls him up and in for a proper kiss, all languid and heated and dirty as Steve licks into his mouth, a rumble of a groan shaking his chest as Tony curls his fingers upward and tugs on the ends of Steve's hair. Steve shoves in deep and hard, and pleasure catches Tony off-guard, his cock pressed tight between them.
"Ohhh fuck," Tony moans, his voice cracking on the words.
Steve freezes up while Tony comes, then gives him a look from under his lashes. His eyes are dark. "Do I – should I – "
"No, no, don't go anywhere, okay. Finish up. Still feels good," Tony assures Steve as he moves, painstakingly slow. Tony knows this from both sides, and can't wait til Steve can say the same. Because it's like some crazy sort of feedback loop, lazy ragged jolts of pleasure for himself, and he can imagine the way those unpredictable bursts for him translate into frantic clutches around Steve's shaft as he drives in and in and in.
Steve looks like he's half out of his head, looks stunned and beautiful, and weirdly innocent considering he's balls deep in Tony's ass. Tony's clumsy as he tangles his hands in Steve's hair and pulls him down to kiss him. That's what pushes Steve over the edge, and that is...really fucking gratifying. He's pleasantly, surprisingly noisy, a mix of wordless but enthusiastic shouts and more tremulous oh god, Tony, oh gods.
Tony lets himself go boneless, melting into the sheets to enjoy the heavy weight of Steve above him. He's still panting into Tony's neck, slowly coming back to himself, fingers gentle as they trace Tony's ribs and smooth over his beard. His first coherent word is wow, and Tony has to kiss him again. The next thing he says is, "Thank you," and Tony just can't with that.
He squeezes Steve tight and tells him, "It was my very sincere pleasure. No, really. You saw my pleasure, right? There was a lot of it."
"Tony! Don't be crude."
"Oh, baby, if you think that's crude... God, we are gonna have a lot of fun together. Mainly I'm gonna have fun finding out how far south that blush goes, but I think you'll enjoy it too."
Steve laughs, settles at Tony's side and then says, like an afterthought, "I can stay the night, right?"
And Tony supposes the doubt is not unwarranted, but still...
"Unless you've got somewhere better to be," he says, trying for flippant.
"Nowhere in the world," Steve says, that heartbreaking earnestness back in full force.
Tony pats his hip, sleepy now, and says, "Awesome."
There's silence for a long moment, but he'd swear he can feel Steve's eyes raking over his body. Tony imagines what he must be seeing – he feels ragged and wrung-out, pleasantly sore and utterly content, and he can't even contemplate moving, so he's pretty damn perturbed, to say the least, when Steve does exactly that. The bed shifts as he moves to sit upright.
"What, what, where are you going?" he asks, a flailing hand all he can manage right now. Steve catches hold of it, thumbs over Tony's palm.
"Two seconds," he promises, and then he's back with a damp cloth and Tony supposes he should feel guilty about taking Steve's virginity and then leaving him to deal with the clean-up. But the truth is, Tony can't bring himself to give a damn about the idea of waking up still sticky and unmistakeably well-fucked. If Steve cares enough to move, that's his problem, and Tony can't deny the cool sweep of the cloth is pleasant.
There's a plop which he assumes is Steve chucking the cloth back into the bathroom – impeccable aim comes in handy yet again – and then Steve settles down onto the bed again. They're not quite touching, but Tony can feel the heat coming off him, and that is...really, really good.
Tony has to clear his throat before he manages to get out, "Lights off."
That leaves only the glow of the reactor inside the room, the city a fluorescent blur outside. Steve turns onto his side and traces his forefinger over some of the scarring around the reactor's casing. Tony finds he doesn't really mind.
"You were right," Steve says, and Tony hums, reluctantly forcing an eye open.
"Course I was. About what?"
"That looked like fun. You sold it well."
Tony laughs and lifts Steve's hand to his mouth, kissing the back of it before biting at his knuckle, because it's right there and why not. "Later," Tony promises. "In the morning, maybe."
"Mmm." Steve settles down again and Tony wonders if the heat coming off him is a subjective perception or something to do with the serum. Metabolism, maybe?
Tony waits until he's sure Steve's asleep before he whispers, "Hey, JARVIS?"
"Yes, Mr Stark?"
"Thanks. But you need to stop now, okay?"
"Seriously, JARVIS. You won, okay? Please stop trying to fix us."
Steve shifts against Tony's shoulder, makes a whuzat kind of noise. Tony hushes him and settles closer against the warmth of him, the silence deepening in a way that means JARVIS has gone offline.