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If Steve had thought dating in the 40's was hard, it was nothing compared to dating in the twenty-first century. He could hardly recognize the institution. Men and women had changed and it was enough to make his head spin.

It was the change in women that really made his head spin. He had never been one of those men that thought a woman's place was in the kitchen. He never looked down on one in the workplace, he never thought it was their duty to have children. He knew many women were capable, intelligent, individuals, and he was glad that women had more opportunity to advance, in all aspects of their life.

What he couldn't understand was the extremes some of them went to. Calling someone "ma'am" when they were only 37, thank you very much, could nearly end in blood. Holding the door open for a woman could imply she wasn't able to do it herself. Steve, never one to belittle, was floored that his actions could be taken as such.

On the positive side, the attitude towards homosexuality had improved by leaps and bounds, for civilians and military personnel both. Steve was more than pleased at that. He'd always hated hiding a part of himself, and hated seeing some of his friends do the same. Eric, from school, hiding his relationship with man he was deeply committed to and in love with out of fear. Kieran, one of his brother-in-arms, hiding the fact that he found more beauty in the male form than any woman he'd ever seen in order to serve his country.

It was a brave new world, and Steve was only just starting to understand it. That being said, all these changed attitudes had made the dating world a frightening place. While some were good, most were intimidating, and none of them helped him make heads or tails of Tony Stark.

A rich playboy was nothing new—he'd lived in the 40's, not the dark ages—but his teammate was an infuriating mass of contradictions.

When he'd first met the brilliant man, he had been disappointed and angry. The sting of losing an entire lifetime of experiences of with the people he cared about, Tony's father included, had weighed heavily on his mind. After meeting the abrasive, arrogant genius, he couldn't help but lash out. He'd made assumptions that were almost immediately proven wrong.

Tony was much more than a suit. He had made the conscious decision to change his entire life, everything he had ever known, in order to pursue what he knew was right—and his closest friend had tried to kill him for it. And Steve and spat on that without even knowing it.

Since then he had apologized, but his feelings towards the man in Iron has changed and strengthened into something greater than he ever could have anticipated. He'd seen Tony be brave, be funny, be thoughtful, and be strong. He'd also seen Tony date.

As much as it hurt to see Tony with someone else, it went beyond that. There was nothing wrong with dating. Heck, there was nothing wrong with dating a lot. He'd heard Bruce once say that sometimes you had to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince or princess, but it appeared that Tony was more likely to go for people that were just plain toads (that terrible reporter woman) or ones that were more likely tadpoles, if you catch his drift.

He'd seen a parade of both women and men appear with Tony at this event or that event and then never see them again. He felt sad for himself and Tony.

Sure, Steve wanted to be with the charismatic billionaire for reasons that had nothing to do with his fortune, but he also wanted Tony to be happy. It was clear that Tony wasn't finding happiness with any other the people he had dated, evident by the fact that none of them stuck, but Steve wasn't willing to try to change that if the other man wasn't willing to settle down. He wasn't going to be another pretty face that had occupied Tony's time and bed, only to be tossed to the side for someone new.

Instead, he resigned himself to watching Tony with his catch of the day and quietly pining, though he should have known it wouldn't be that simple.

The Avengers were an observant bunch, but terribly set in their ways. All the Avengers had known Tony or known of Tony for long enough to have formulated an opinion about him that wasn't likely to change. All of them except one. Surprisingly, it had been Thor that was the one to confront him about his feelings for Tony.

He and the thunderer had been in the kitchen for quite some time before the other Avengers would even contemplate rising, a good hour before first light. Steve had been awoken by the beginnings of a thunderstorm and decided it wasn't worth trying for another hour of sleep when he would just wake up groggy and useless to the team.

He'd left his room and gone to the kitchen for a cup of tea, only to discover the God of Thunder himself. "Captain!" he beamed. "Good morning!"

Steve grinned sleepily and padded into the kitchen. "Good morning. You're up early."

Thor nodded eagerly. "Indeed, my friend. It is the weather. It has been too long since we have had a proper storm!"

"Is this you?" he asked curiously, putting a kettle on the stove.

Thor shook his head. "No, Captain. It is nature herself. I believe it shall be a magnificent gale, I can feel it!"

Steve just smiled in the face of Thor's exuberance. It was clear the Asgardian was invigorated by the mess of thunder and lightning outside, and Steve found it a refreshing change for someone to take heart at such bleak weather.

He had always liked the rain. It was perfect for contemplation, for hours spent with his canvas or drawing pad, with a good book, and the best comfort food.

The kettle shrieked and Steve quickly moved to take it off the burner, not wanting to disturb the sleeping members of his team. He poured it over a bag of an herbal blend Natasha had gotten him, something to soothe the mind, apparently. All he knew was that it tasted like black licorice candies he used to eat by the handful and that was soothing all on its own.

He took his place at the table, smiling as Thor pushed a plate of muffins towards him, no doubt laid out by one of the countless housekeepers that truly ran this place. He took an apple cinnamon one and slowly peeled back the wrapper, content to sit in companionable silence with Thor and listen to the rumble of thunder.

Their peace was broken by a familiar throaty chuckle, accompanied by a delighted giggle. Steve felt his hands tighten on the mug he was holding and had to consciously force himself to relax in order to keep from shattering the ceramic.

He could see as Tony and his latest conquest waited in front of the elevator that would take her downstairs and out of the Tower forever. Tony draped an arm over her shoulder and they kissed heatedly, bringing a flush to Steve's cheeks out of secondhand embarrassment. It was another reporter, just as terrible as the woman from Vanity Fair.

He's watched this woman approach Tony at the event they attended last night for some kind of cleanup project the Avengers were supporting. The only upside to destroy so much was the movement to replace it with more eco-friendly alternatives.

She had zeroed in on Tony like a bloodhound and was so abrasive and unrelenting in her "interview" that Natasha actually moved for the small handgun Steve knew she kept hidden under her dress. Apparently, that wasn't a deterrent in Tony's eyes.

Steve saw Thor's eyes look from him to Tony and back again. He nearly groaned in misery at being caught and knew as soon as Tony and his latest date disappeared there was going to be a supremely uncomfortable conversation.

The elevator dinged and Tony pressed one last kiss to the admittedly gorgeous woman's lips, as well as a lingering grope to her backside, and gave her a saucy wave as the door closed. He turned and sauntered toward his lab, giving him and Thor and rakish wink as he passed.

When they could no longer hear his footsteps, the god (alien?) turned to him with an expectant look on his face. Steve was shaking his head before the other man could even speak.

"You are jealous, Captain."

"No," he said, voice thick. "It's not—it doesn't matter."

Thor looked unconvinced. "Come, Captain. Your feelings for our friend are clear."

Steve felt his stomach turn to lead. "He knows?" he asked desperately, mentally smacking himself when he realized he had confirmed what he had attempted to deny.

Thor's eyes softened. "I have not told him," he assured. "That is not my place."

Steve nearly melted in relief. "Well, thanks, I guess."

Thor nodded and continued. "I merely noticed how you look at the Iron Man, and how his dalliances seem to hurt you so."

Steve just bit his lip and stared into his now-cold tea. He picked at the muffin, appetite gone, and wanted to be anywhere but here, wishing he could be rude for once and just walk away. He heard Thor sigh gustily and reluctantly looked up.

"Captain, if his amorous activity upsets you so, why do you not speak with him about your feelings? Claim his attention for your own?"

He sighed. He wasn't sure how to explain Tony's playboy nature to Thor. "Tony is…I don't think he's looking to settle down. He's…he has a lot of lovers."

Thor looked confused. "Is this frowned upon in Midgard?"

"I…don't know," Steve replied honestly. "Not anymore. Maybe, in my time. Now, I'm not so sure."

"In Asgard, one often seeks an experienced partner, especially if they are not."

Steve winced. He hadn't realized he was being so obvious, about his feelings or his lack of experience. "Do you never settle down?" he asked.

"Of course," he replied. "But how can one be sure if they have not experienced all that love has to offer?"

Back to the frog thing again. He sighed. "I don't think I'm what Tony's looking for."

The men and women Tony dated were young and beautiful and grew up in this modern world. Steve was still just that skinny kid from Brooklyn that didn't get asked to the Sadie Hawkins dance and never had hopes of going steady. Only now, he was just as awkward, twice as big, and painfully out of date. There was no place for him in this world, and definitely not the brilliant, futuristic world of Tony Stark.

Thor just looked at him intensely. For once, he looked every inch an otherworldly being, eyes filled with knowledge and secrets Steve would never know. He shook his head at Steve sadly. "You do yourself a disservice, friend," he intoned. "Do not belittle your worth."

A stripe of lightning lit up the sky, breaking the tension in the room. Thor smiled and reluctantly pushed away from the table. He clapped Steve on the shoulder. "Think on what I have said, Captain Steve," he suggested. He smiled as another web of light flashed across the sky. "I believe I will go for a fly."

Steve just sighed and took a sip of his tea, grimacing at the temperature. What Thor said was encouraging, but would only lead to heartbreak. He had no more hopes of holding Tony's attention any than he had of figuring out how to use the coffee machine.

The first time Steve's opinion of Tony was shaken was during another early morning meet and greet with Tony's latest dame. Booty call. Lady friend. .

He'd practically been living at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters since that fateful morning with Thor. Though thunder god seemed to be the only one that noticed his unfortunate feelings for Tony, he wasn't willing to risk anyone else finding out and taking it upon themselves to "fix" their situation. He had been testing all manner of weapons and armor, sitting through countless meetings he wasn't really required to attend, and even volunteering to do assist in the massive amount of paperwork saving the world managed to incur.

If anyone found his actions suspicious, no one said anything. He knew Agents Hill and Coulson were glad for the help and Fury loved that he was more involved and visible in the company.

"It makes it look less shady," he'd said, clapping him companionably on the shoulder.

That may be the case, but Steve was doing it for less than altruistic purposes. He couldn't stand to be around Tony and not be with Tony. He could stand the sad, knowing look in Thor's blue eyes. He couldn't stand seeing all the men and women Tony deemed worthy enough of his time and affection, especially when none of them were him.

Unfortunately, the unforeseeable effect of Steve spending so much time at headquarters was the way he always seemed to come home when Tony was either entertaining yet another guest or sitting up alone in the living room, fiddling with some gadget or ultra-thin tablet computer.

On those days, Steve would step off the elevator into the living area and have to suppress a grimace. Tony would smile at him, gesture to the space next to him, and then Steve would have his undivided attention.

While he wouldn't deny that this was something he craved, it was also very dangerous. Sitting next to him, listening to Tony share his concerns about this project or that gadget, or even sometimes something to do with his Ironman suit, only made him want to be with the man more. It was becoming harder and harder not to do something reckless, like telling him about his feelings, or kissing him. Or crying.

In order to avoid that, this time Steve had decided to stay at HQ exceptionally late, helping them clean up a mess of epic proportions. A giant tank of mildly corrosive liquid had inexplicably burst in one of the most crowded labs, causing countless minor injuries and damaging a great deal of equipment,

Having some medical training from his days in the field, Steve was more than happy to fetch and carry medical supplies to patch up the injured and then help salvage whatever they could in the ruined lab.

He'd ended up stumbling into the elevator at the Tower around 5:30 in the morning, bleary eyed and agitated. Steve made a beeline for the kitchen, wanting to have a cup of hot chocolate before collapsing into bed for the rest of his life.

He walked into the kitchen and immediately froze. Tony had his back to the door, leaning against the island in the middle of the kitchen as his lady friend leaning against the counter opposite him, a cup of coffee in her hand. She was wearing what were surely yesterday's clothes and had wet hair, but what's more, they were both leaning forward and kissing rather deeply. It was slow and affectionate and Steve felt like an intruder. A very emotionally wounded intruder.

Steve made a choked sound and jammed his eyes closed. "Sorry!" he said, clapping a hand over his eyes for good measure. He heard Tony's throaty chuckle and felt his stomach jump in arousal, grateful he was too embarrassed to have an inappropriate reaction to his friend.

"Our bad, Cap," Tony said, amusement coloring his tone. He laughed again. "You can open your eyes."

Steve hesitantly lowered his hands and saw the pair of them smiling at him at him, not unkindly. Tony gently took the woman's hand and led her over to the table. "We'll get out of your way. Hot chocolate, right?"

Steve bit his lip, nodding, and moved to busy himself at the stove. He knew most of the other Avengers just microwaved water and mixed in the little packets of cocoa in to the warm water, but it just wasn't the same as slowly heating milk over a stove and whisking in real chocolate.

Behind him he could hear the quiet murmurs of Tony and his friend speaking lowly and found himself confused. This went against what he expected of the other man. The few other times he had seen one of Tony's overnight guests they had been swiftly ushered out the door with a kiss and wink.

This was different. They were lingering over a drink and talking to one another and laughing and Steve spared a moment to think this is it. This is the time that Tony decides to settle down. With a gorgeous woman that Steve could never hope to compare to and would have to watch, everyday, as she took that place he longed to fill.

Finally, he couldn't dally anymore and he poured his drink into an oversized mug and made to sneak out of the kitchen. Tony, of course, noticed, and made a tsking sound.

"You don't have to sneak off on my account," the lady said.

Steve, unable to think of a way to bow out gracefully, simply flashed his best Captain America smile and took a seat on the opposite side of the table. Tony gestured to the woman with his free hand. "Steve, this is Margot. Margot, meet Steve, our very own Captain America."

She smiled and held her hand out. "Nice to meet you."

Steve gently took her hand and gave it a light shake. "Nice to meet you, too."

Tony grinned, and turned to Margot. "I'm going to make an omelet. Want one?"

She nodded and he squeezed her shoulder as he moved around her to the stove. Margot smiled indulgently and then turned to Steve, eyes fixing on him curiously. Steve searched for something to say, not knowing what suitable conversation matter in this instance was.

As he subtly looked at her from behind the fringe of his blond bangs, he realized something was off. There was no vapid giggling. There was not besotted eyelash fluttering, no hair flips or suggestive remarks.

Margot was quiet and held herself with an intelligent grace that he wouldn't assume a woman willing to have a one night stand with Tony Stark would have. Upon further examination, he realized that while the woman was striking, she was not beautiful.

She was a bit older than he, probably her early 30's. Her straight hair was a deep auburn color and framed her face attractively, stopping just below her ears. He skin tone didn't quite work with her hair but she had an attractive sprinkling of freckles over her tiny, straight nose. He eyes were wide and brown with long lashes and her mouth was a tad too full to balance out her round jaw but impeccably shaped; a perfect cupid's bow.

She noticed his gaze and smiled invitingly, putting an alluring light in her eyes. He could certainly see what drew Tony to this woman, but was still surprised. He supposed he should feel ashamed, thinking Tony was so shallow, but all he could feel was surprised.

He smiled in return, embarrassed at being caught staring, and valiantly searched for a topic of conversation. "So," he began lamely. "What do you do?"

She smiled and laughed melodically. "Nothing as exciting as either of you," she said. "I'm a Shakespeare scholar. Just got my doctorate in May."

Steve's eyes widened in surprise. "Wow," he said. "That's amazing. Congratulations!"

Back before he was frozen, one of the men he had been deployed with—Jim—had carried around a copy of Henry V with him. Steve was familiar with some of the Bard's work, but not that one. Jim had read an act aloud each night, and Steve devoured it.

He'd sit and think over the passages while on watch, making sense of the oftentimes-confusing language. It was beautiful to hear, and hours later, it resonated with him. He made a mental note to add Shakespeare to the ever-growing list of things to catch up one.

"So, do you…teach?" he guessed.

Margot nodded. "At NYU," she confirmed. "I was out celebrating the fact that one of my papers has been accepted for presentation at the Shakespeare conference in 's when I ran into Tony."

"Literally," Tony interjected. "She literally ran into me."

She winked. "It's my pickup tactic," she confided in a conspiratorial mock-whisper.

Steve had to laugh, charmed despite himself. This woman went against everything he knew about Tony. She wasn't stupid. She didn't have low self esteem. She wasn't a gold digger. He could see why Tony chose to take her home in place of all the blonde beauties he was sure had swarmed over him.

He felt out of balance and he was grateful for Tony's appearance at the table, two plated omelets in his hands. He set one in front of Margot and she grinned before digging in heartily. Upon further examination he realized that Tony's companion could use about five omelets. She was rail thin.

He remembered Darcy saying something about how college students had this starved look about them, and if Margot has just gotten her doctorate, she hadn't stopped being a student long enough to recover.

He finished his hot chocolate and didn't have to feign tiredness to get away from the table. Tony had laughed at Steve's massive yawn and waved him off. "You're falling asleep into your cup, Cap. Why don't you hit the hay?"

Steve nodded. He washed his cup out in the sink and rubbed his eyes tiredly as he made his way out of the kitchen. "It was nice to meet you, Margot," he said.

She smiled and swallowed the last bite of her omelet. "Nice you meet you too, Captain Rogers."

Tony just smiled at him over his coffee cup, make Steve want to cry and laugh at the same time. He trudged to his room and peeled off his clothes, collapsing into bed.

He thought about Tony, and about Margot, and how this new knowledge flew in the face of everything he knew about the other man. Tony would always be a snarky, arrogant, son of a gun, but perhaps he'd misjudged him when it came to the men and women that occupied his time.

Steve snorted in derision about his wishful thinking. Not likely.

The second time Steve met one of Tony's paramours it was harder to deny the truth that Tony wasn't some common playboy.

Staying late at the office hadn't been working the way Steve had intended. His new tactic was to spend as much time around the Tower as possible, hopefully desensitizing himself to the intoxicating presence that was Tony Stark.

It still wasn't working.

He had taken to going for morning runs to clear his head, different in that he now ran outside instead on the treadmill. The changing scenery and throngs of people forced him to pay attention to the task at hand, rather than fantasizing about a relationship that might never be.

After a rigorous run he'd come back to the Towers and decided to go for a swim in the underground pool he had yet to utilize. He changed his swim trunks from his locker (star spangled shorts, wonder who was responsible for this?) and made his way to the pool.

It was softly light, the furniture and buoys casting eerie shadows into the water. He felt a tingle of apprehension flow through him. He never should have let Clint show him Are You Afraid of the Dark. He knew it was a show for children, but some of the things were downright frightening, especially in his line of work. He was in the business of defeat things that went bump in the night (and during the bright light of day), so he wasn't too keen to dismiss things out of hand.

He tossed his towel onto a bench and dove into the deep end without preamble. He came up with a gasp and shook the water from his hair. He loved swimming. He grinned and tipped onto his back, floating. He made his way to the shallow end and stood, water barely reaching his hips.

He was startled to hear a noise coming from the direction of the locker room and his nearly groaned when he saw Tony come of out the lockers, pulling a young man with glasses behind him. Steve seriously considered drowning himself as a logical course of action, if only so he wouldn't have to face the sight of a topless Tony.

The man Tony was towing paused when he saw Steve in the pool, stopping short. He blushed and gave him a bashful smile.

Tony looked back at his companion in confusion before realizing they were not alone. "Steve!" he said genially. "Fancy seeing you here."

Steve chuckled uncomfortably, sinking deeper into the water, feeling exposed. "Hey."

Tony tugged his friend toward the pool, stepping into the shallow end and, oh, wasn't this perfect. The two of them sat on the underwater bench, Tony slinging an affectionate arm over the young man's shoulder.

"Meet Gordon," Tony said, jostling the man in question by the shoulders. "Gordon, Steve."

Steve nodded. "Nice to meet you."

The young man gave him a subdued smile. "And you, as well."

Tony leaned back, content to soak in the water with his companion quietly, but Steve once again felt the need to play conversationalist in lieu of Tony's lack of playing a proper host, even to a one night flame.

"No work on Mondays?" he asked finally, settling on something relatively safe.

Gordon shook his head. "I dislike Monday's on principle, so I requested to work Tuesday through Saturday."

"Gordon works for a S.H.I.E.L.D. sister company," Tony explained. "We met at the mixer last night."

Steve was floored. The party Tony attended last night was for the leading heads in the medical field, hoping to be snatched up by S.H.I.E.L.D. for a research position. "Really?"

Gordon nodded. "Yes," he said quietly. Soft spoken wasn't a quality he thought Tony would go for. "I'm technically a botanist, focusing on research in medicinal plants."

Tony chuckled. "S.H.I.E.L.D. snapped him right up," he said. "And then I did."

Gordon laughed and elbowed Tony in the stomach. "Hush."

Steve ducked under the water to give himself something to do. Once again, he found himself caught between a rock and a hard place. Running away would be rude and suspicious, but staying made him was to crawl into a hole and die as he watched Tony with someone else. Again. Made worse by the fact that it was a man.

A very smart man, at that.

He emerged to see Tony pull away from a lingering kiss, plucking the thick glasses from Gordon's face and setting them on the ledge.

Steve moved to the bench perpendicular to theirs, once again observing Tony with a man that defied all preconceptions about him. Gordon had dark, unruly hair, messy from more than just a tumble in the hay. His eyes were big and green and framed by brows that were just a tad disorderly.

Overall, the young man could be described as soft, carrying around just a few extra pounds with a round face and button nose. His skin was pale, Steve guessed from spending hours in the lab. He was a little on the short side, but he was inexplicably intriguing.

From his unassuming demeanor and bashful smiles, he wasn't surprised Tony focused all his considerable attention on this (very) young man.

He was shocked to find that Tony was being, well, sweet. He'd always thought Tony would be casual and crass with his lovers, another deterrent, but he was being anything but with Gordon, making his chest ache.

Discovering all his assumptions about Tony were wrong was as much of a relief as they were a burden. Apparently, he wasn't the careless playboy Steve thought he was. He wasn't all about the looks or the social status or the thrill, but about intelligence and personality.

He felt terrible, for misjudging Tony. And he also felt like an idiot, because Thor had been right. His misery was his own fault. Granted, there was no guarantee that just because Tony wasn't the notorious playboy the world saw him to be that he would be interested in Steve, but at least this gave him hope that he might have a chance.

With this revelation fresh in his mind, Steve smiled at the two of them and moved to exit the pool. "It was nice meeting you," he said. "But I should get to work. Agent Hill requested my help today."

And then he was gone before waiting for a reply. He needed time to think.

Steve never went to S.H. .D. that day. Instead, he stayed in his room and weighed the benefits over the consequences of pursuing Tony. They were from two different worlds—literally. Steve had been old-fashioned in the 40's, and Tony was ahead of this most modern of times.

No matter what he came up with, the thought of not even trying weighed more heavily on him than being rejected outright, making his decision quite easy in the end.

He pulled on a pair of well worn jeans and a grey t-shirt, opting to go without shoes, when he finally crept out of his room. Steve hoped that Tony would be in the kitchen or living room, as he usually was unless at some critical juncture during a project.

He peered around the end of the hall and heaved a quiet sigh of relief when he saw Tony curled up on the couch, hair messy and beard untrimmed. The usually fashion-conscious man was in a threadbare MIT shirt and ill-fitting bottoms, too loose on his frame.

Steve felt a jab of desire stab through him at his disheveled appearance, cutting through the constant state of anxiety he had been feeling since he had resolved to approach Tony hours earlier.

He took a deep breath and aimed for casual as he strolled into the living room. Tony looked up from the book he was reading and gave Steve a relaxed smile, curling his legs underneath him and gesturing for the blond man to join him.

Steve took the offer and sat down as close as he could without being suspicious. Or forward.

"Hey," Tony said, flipping his book closed. Steve glanced at the title. Frankenstein. He wasn't the least bit surprised.

Steve grinned by way of a response and burrowed further into the plush cushions on the couch.

Tony just looked at him in amusement and reached out to nudge him with a socked foot. "You know, a little birdie told me Captain America never made it into S.H.I.E.L.D. today."

Steve laughed ruefully. Of course he'd heard. "Was this bird's name 'Hawkeye' by any chance?" he deadpanned.

Tony faked surprise. "You know, I think I have heard people call him that."

"See if I ever let him ride my motorcycle again," he muttered.

Tony tried to stifle a laugh and looked to him seriously, resting his head on his hand. "What's up, Cap? Getting tired of being the poster boy?"

Normally this would rile him, but coming from Tony, he knew it wasn't meant as the barb others did, and wasn't it something that he could finally make that distinction. Or that Tony cared at all.

Steve just shrugged in what he hoped was a noncommittal way. "Maybe I decided Gordon had the right idea about Mondays."

"And maybe I'll call Loki and ask if he's free for dinner," Tony countered. "You love Mondays, Steve. It's unnatural. Wanna try again?"

Steve just sighed, not ready to admit it yet. He still had more questions. "Just had some stuff on my mind."

It was clear Tony wanted to push, but Steve was glad when he let it go. He got more comfortable on the couch and threw an afghan over himself before asking what he really wanted to.

"No Gordon?" he asked, looking around as if he'd pop out from the kitchen. "You seemed pretty taken by him."

Tony smiled softly and Steve's stomach dropped. "He was something, wasn't he?"

Steve just nodded and waited for him to continue on bated breath.

"But no," he said, and Steve nearly wilted in relief. "He had to go home and pack. Like I said, S.H.I.E.L.D. snapped him up in a second. He's off to the Amazon to live amongst nature for God knows how long. People are pretty eager to see medicine advance."

Steve nodded in understanding. "Would you have seen him again," and he hoped that Tony didn't read this as a dig about his sexual proclivities. Prowess. Whatever, he wasn't trying to call him a slut!

Tony was quiet for a minute before answering. "Maybe," he said, and that was all.

Steve bit his lip and fidgeting with his hands nervously. "Looking to settle down?"

Tony snorted, nearly dashing his hopes until he spoke. "Who isn't looking to settle down?"

That floored him, and it must have showed. Tony nodded knowingly and continued. "I know. You wouldn't know it, from the way I act."

Steve tried to backpedal, but Tony interrupted him. "I've dated a lot of people. I've done a lot of things." And here Tony leered. "A lot of things." Steve was horrified to find himself blushing. "But a lot of the people I've been with aren't in a place to settle down. It's the downfall of being a genius billionaire. And being attracted to the smart, career minded set. Job first."

And Tony just sounded so sad. "Pepper?" he ventured cautiously.

Tony just gave him a regretful smile and shook his head. Steve knew better than to push at that particular bruise. The dark haired man leaned forward and grabbed a tumbler full of dark liquid he hadn't noticed, taking a long sip. "What about you?" Tony asked unexpectedly.

Steve looked at Tony, at his relaxed posture and handsome, attentive face. "Yeah," he said. "I'd like to settle down."

Tony smiled, and Steve thought maybe it was wishful thinking that he looked a little jealous. "Why, Cap, have you been holding out on us? Someone caught your eye?"

Steve nodded slowly. "For a while," he admitted.

Tony stretched out and kicked him lightly. "What are you waiting for?" And there was definitely a little jealously this time, maybe even a little shine to his eyes.

Steve rolled his eyes and let Tony settle his legs over his lap. "The right time?"

"Psh," Tony said dismissively. "No such thing. A yes is a yes, regardless of time. Just ask them."

Steve wanted to ask when he had figured that out, but decided to take Tony's advice instead. "Hey, Tony?" he asked wrapping a hand around his ankle lightly, softly rubbing the sharp point of an ankle.

Tony made a questioning sound, sinking into the couch contentedly. Steve stared at his closed eyes. "Will you go out to dinner with me?" he asked softly.

Tony's eyes flew open and his body went still. "Are you asking me on a date?"

Steve couldn't resist. "Yeah, genius."

Tony's mouth pulled into a slow grin. He settled more comfortably against Steve. "How's Friday sound for you?"

Steve felt his heart trip. "Sounds great."

He'd imagined some lighthearted teasing, or some leering or even some sassy remark, so he was pleasantly surprised when Tony just cuddled deeper into the couch and grabbed his book. Steve smiled and continued to rub at Tony's ankles, content to just stay there for a while.

A week had never gone by so slowly. Steve was sure that, had he been conscious during the time he was frozen, the 70 years he spent in suspended animation would have felt like a blink compared to his torturous wait.

Though he and Tony had made a date for Friday—a real, legitimate date—Steve had half expected Tony to continue as he always had, bringing home some (apparently) brilliant, unique person with which to pass the time.

This week, however, their halls were free of strangers. Steve didn't encounter a single physicist or small business owner while he was enjoying his breakfast. Tony showed up to social obligations alone and came home that way, giving Steve hope that this just might work.

Despite this heartening change of events, Steve found himself worried about something he hadn't thought to anticipate: the date itself. He'd never planned a date and hadn't really put much thought into planning one. His fantasies were either always past the initial wooing phase of dating, when couples were comfortable with one another, or just downright steamy.

After making himself sick with worry for nearly the entire week, Steve decided to go for his gut instinct. He was sure anyone that had tried to date Tony Stark in the past had attempted to impress him with gestures of grandeur, or maybe even try to impress him with their minds, but Steve wasn't going to be anything but himself.

When Friday rolled around he was a nervous wreck. He went into S.H.I.E.L.D. bright and early in hopes that there was something there that needed his desperate attention for the next eight hours so he didn't think if all the ways his date could go wrong.

He spared a moment around lunch to send Tony a text to let him know he was looking forward to the night and telling him to dress casual. As casual as Tony Stark was able, anyway. Steve had no doubt he'd feel underdressed next to Tony, no matter what he wore.

Steve did end up getting distracted by his work, leaving him just enough time to rush back to the Tower, rinse off, and throw on some clothes. He breezed into the living room just in time to see Tony self-consciously fiddling with his collar.

Tony Stark cleaned up nice, but the man could wear the hell out of a pair of jeans. He was wearing a red shirt with a graphic pattern that made him think of his lab's digital interface and black button up shirt, all the buttons left undone. To finish the look he wore a structured jacket and black shoes that probably cost more that Steve's entire outfit. Maybe more than all the clothes in his closet.

They both stared at each other for a long, awkward before Tony's rolled his eyes and pushed them toward the elevator leading to the garage. The shorter man looked at him in amusement.

"I'll have you know that Happy and JARVIS refused to tell me where we were going tonight, no matter how much I begged. Or threatened."

Steve smiled. "I'm glad to hear that. You ruin far too many surprises."

Tony looked almost affronted at that. "That's not true! Name one."

"Your birthday party," he said.

"That was different."

"When Bruce tried to do that algorithm thing for you."

"That was a misunderstanding."

"All of our Christmas gifts."

"That was an accident."

Steve just smiled. "Mhmm."

By this time, Tony was pouting, making Steve want to lean forward and nibble at his protruding bottom lip. Instead he settles for putting a hand at the small of his back and leading him toward the car, Happy holding the door open for them.

They quickly slid inside and Steve's anxiety begins to wear off in favor of excitement. He feels the car begin to creep forward and reaches over to take Tony's hand as they drive. "I think you'll like it."

Tony makes an inquisitive sound. "Do I get to know yet?"

"Soon," he replies.

Tony huffs. It's adorable. "Is it close?"

Steve shrugs, enjoying being the one in the know. For once. "It's about 20 minutes away."

Tony yanks on the hand he's holding in retaliation. "Give me a hint!"

"You like them."

The dark haired man huffs again and Steve has to suppressed a pleased grin. Not one to be deterred, Tony barrages him with questions about their date, only succeeding in aggravating himself further when he can't seem to guess what they're doing.

Finally, Steve's sees them approaching. He nudges Tony. "We're here."

Tony looks around curiously. "Where, where the hell is 'here'?"

Steve chuckles and before he can reply, Tony sees it. "Car show!" he says excitedly. "Antique car show!"

He nods and looks out the window as well. He would be lying if he said this wasn't for his enjoyment as much as Tony's. He'd loved cars when he was, well, it really wasn't that long ago to him. This gave him an opportunity to see his favorites as well as the stuff he missed out on and gave Tony a willing petrol head to share his knowledge with.

He only hoped Tony didn't come away from the evening with any new additions to his garage. Pepper would kill him and had made him promise to keep Tony purchase free.

Tony interrupted his thoughts with a smack to the chest. "You devious bastard. You even got Rhodey in on it. I wondered why he suddenly lost interest in hot rods. I asked him if he wanted to go this weekend and he was 'way too damn busy'."

"Is that really what he said?" Steve asked. He would have thought the other man could come up with a more plausible excuse when he'd gone to him to make sure Tony couldn't find out about their date prematurely.

Tony shook his head."Nah. He actually said he was too old for Hot Wheels, but I should have seen that as a damn lie. Rhodey loves cars."

Steve bit his lip, feeling his confidence slip. "So, this is all right?"

Tony looked back, incredulous. "I'm not even going to answer that."

And with that he grabbed Steve's arm and pulled him forward into the crowd, more carefree than he'd seen him in a long time.

They spent the better part of two hours wandering in and out of the aisles of cars, all arranged by decade. Steve couldn't help but taking a special shine to the cars from the 30's and 40's, with their grace and elegance, but he had to admit, the muscle cars Tony seemed to drool over were something to behold.

Steve dragged Tony to a real diner, conveniently located at the near the show. It was filled with folks from the car show filling up on deliciously greasy food before heading back out to look at America's automotive history.

They both ordered cheeseburgers and fries, but Steve was unable to risk the lure of a chocolate milkshake. He listened to Tony babble excitedly about this engine and that horsepower and had never been happier to just sit quietly and listen while he enjoyed good food and even better company.

Soon they finished, Tony wolfing down his food like he hadn't eaten in days, which may have well been the case for the workaholic.

They stepped back outside into the throng of people and before Steve could speak Tony was dragging him towards the old Morgan he'd been eyeing all night long. Steve would have been worried that he wouldn't be able to keep his promise to Pepper, but the gentleman that owned the car was quite unwilling to part with it, no matter what the offer.

Tony had to be dragged away pouting, Steve not even bothering to hide his grin. Happy was waiting for them where they had been dropped off and he quickly bundled Tony into the car before he saw something else he just had to have.

Tony continued pouting until they were out of sight of the show before abruptly kicking his shoes off and flopping his feet into Steve's lap. He reflexively wrapped a large hand around Tony's ankle. He felt his heart catch at the open look on Tony's face.

"I had a good time, Cap," he said, making Steve smile.

"Me too."

Tony settled further into the seat. "So, where are you taking me tomorrow?"

Thanks to the ever-present reel of incredibly-inept-but-still-annoying-super-villains, their proposed date for Saturday never took place. Or Sunday. Or Monday. In fact the Avengers would be up to their necks in villain shenanigans until Thursday, cleaning up mess after mess in between fending off the latest evil-doer.

Steve was uncomfortably reminded of the date that never was from his former life. It was easier to think about it that way. He had to constantly reminded himself that things has changed, that the Iron Man suit was nearly indestructible, and Tony would be around for their next date, just as soon as this influx of baddies was dealt with.

The closest he had been to Tony these past days had been when he was thrown from his place atop the head of a particularly enraged (and giant) snake, compliments of Loki. Iron Man had swooped down to catch him, preventing him from becoming intimately acquainted with the unforgiving concrete roads of Manhattan. That was on Sunday.

Tuesday dawned bright and early and roused them from their beds with the threat of robot invasion. Again. This time it was thanks to Dr. Doom and Tony had fielded the brunt of the defense with his plasma weaponry, barely making it back to the Tower before literally collapsing onto the couch, still in his armor, slumping against Steve's shoulder.

Tony had remained asleep while Steve hesitantly removed the armor, under JARVIS's instructions, and draped a blanket over his exhausted form.

Now it was Thursday evening and it had been ten blissful hours without signs of a giant insect invasion or mind-controlled law enforcement. Steve had taken the longest shower of his life and was hopeful that his luck would hold long enough to be around Tony in a non-Avenger's capacity.

The rest of the team had scampered off to wherever they went when they wanted privacy. He was fairly certain the Clint and Natasha were together, doing terrifying spy things, and Bruce was off somewhere berating himself for the city block he had destroyed when taking down a horde of Doombots. Thor was MIA, but he had it on good authority (gossip from Natasha and Coulson, of all people) that he and Jane were back on an upswing in their on-again off-again relationship. For now.

He knew Tony was in the Tower but he didn't want to disturb his much deserved rest after this week of hell. He picked up the tablet he had been given and opened the ereader application. All the other Avengers had loaded it with books they thought were absolutely essential for him to read since he had been frozen and he was actually surprised that his favorites had been some of Clint's selections, followed closely by Tony's.

He was engrossed in Wuthering Heights (Natasha) and was wondering why these people were so terrible to one another, why was this one of her favorite books, when there was a quiet knock on his door, starling him nonetheless.

"Come in," he called, knowing it was Tony. He felt a tendril of that jittery feeling he had whenever he was around the other man, a precursor to something much more serious.

The other man peeked into his room before swinging the door open, a few boxes of pizza in his arms. "Hungry?" he asked knowingly.

Steve nodded eagerly and followed after Tony into the living room. There was already a movie loaded on the screen, Blade Runner, and a few glass bottles of the cream soda he had loved, well, before he was frozen. He had wondered aloud if they were still around and suddenly they had appeared in the fridge and been a permanent fixture since. He's had a feeling Tony had something to do with it, and now he was even more certain.

Despite the elation that nearly overwhelmed him, he felt a pang of guilt. Tony wasn't the shallow, self-absorbed jerk he'd accused him of being. He noticed the small things, went out of his way to do things and create things for the people he loved.

The evidence had been right in front of his face, from his own armor, Natasha's constantly evolving guns, and Clint's bows, to simpler things, like the soda, and the tea that Bruce drank like water, claiming it helped keep him calm.

He felt like a royal ass. He'd been fooled, just like everyone else. Just like Tony wanted. He shook his head at his own idiocy and took a seat in the middle of the couch. Tony promptly sat next to him, pressing a plate into his hand and telling JARVIS to start the movie.

In between stuffing their faces and Tony having to explain every three seconds of the movie they had gotten closer and closer on the couch until Tony was tucked under Steve's arm, head resting on his shoulder.

The movie ended and the credits rolled but Steve was reluctant to move, finally having Tony close after months of being an idiot and this latest bout of villain tomfoolery. "So," he began quietly. "That was one hell of a week."

Tony chuckled and pressed closer. "No kidding."

"We never did get to go out again."

"And you never told me your plans.

Steve grinned and dared to press a kiss to Tony's messy head. "That's going to drive you crazy, huh?"

"You have no idea."

"I have maybe some idea."

"I hate surprises," Tony said, nudging against Steve to look up at him.

Steve shrugged. "I love surprises."

"Good," Tony said, and threaded his fingers through Steve's hair and pulled him into a surprisingly chaste kiss.

Steve hummed his surprise against Tony's lips, gently curling a hand around his sculpted jaw. He moved his lips against Tony's lightly, heart hammering in his chest, constantly having to remind himself not to clutch at Tony too tightly for fear of hurting him.

The smaller man pulled back with a final peck to the corner of Steve's lips and sighed lightly. Steve kept his hand cupped around Tony's jaw and idly caressed the warm skin with his fingers.

Despite having his idea of Tony forcibly corrected, for the first time he felt like he stood a chance with the brilliant man. He looked relaxed and happy, and that was more than Steve had ever hoped for when the genius's eyes were trained on him.

"So," Tony finally whispered. "How about that date?"

In the coming weeks Steve found himself on date after date with America's favorite hero. Sure, people loved Captain America, but they worshipped Iron Man. He was all flash, and rock and roll, and in your face, a hero for the modern America. Where Steve was duty and honor, Tony was enthusiasm and recklessness. Tony was perfect.

While Steve gave Tony a taste of the world he grew up in, Tony showcased his. Steve took him to places like Coney Island and special places in Central Park that meant something to him, places filled with memories of a lifetime ago.

Tony took him to super-exclusive restaurants where he'd booked a private room for an intimate occasion. Steve felt like he was eating his way across the world, Tony introducing him to every type of restaurant imaginable. He took him to plays, even though Steve knew the other man was nearly bored to tears, just because it made Steve feel nostalgic in the best way.

They attempted to replicate their favorite meals from their dates at home, often failing, but always enjoying it. Tony shared his most secret plans and gave him an override code for his lab. Steve took him to see his mother, buried in a tiny, quiet graveyard. He told him about Bucky, and before the serum.

Tony had been quiet and contemplative and didn't say a single unkind thing about his tears, about his voice, thick with emotion. In return, Tony told him about Howard. About Maria. About the man he fell in love with at MIT that broke his heart.

While Steve loved going out with Tony, baffling the media with his constant presence on the infamous playboy's arm, he loved staying in even more. They didn't have to smile for cameras or fans as they hurried in and out of restaurants and shows or movie theatres.

Since the rest of the Avengers had learned about their blossoming romance, they had made themselves scare, at least from the places he and Tony frequented.

He had discovered Natasha was seeing Nick Fury, of all people, and was more than happy to stay wherever he called his home. Probably some elegant bomb shelter. Clint and Bruce had always been relatively private people, and Thor, after giving Steve a smug look of epic proportions, disappeared, presumably with Jane.

Steve blushed for a week.

Now it was Sunday and their traditional stay at home date. This week they were attempting to duplicate the pizza they had in Little Italy earlier that week and they both had no delusions that they were going to come close.

Tony had to take over dough duty since Steve couldn't quite get a handle on how much pressure to use when he attempted to make the dough a circle and kept ripping holes in the fragile pastry. Tony laughed and pushed him out of the way.

"Easy, muscles. Why don't you put those biceps to good use and handle the cheese?" he said, directing Steve toward the mozzarella that needed to be grated.

By the time the pizzas came out of the oven they were both covered in flour and Steve had dried oregano in his hair, forcing them to eat in the kitchen instead of the living room to avoid flour-related mess.

Steve picked up their plates to bring them to the sink but dipped down to press a kiss to Tonys' mouth, tongue darting out to lick at the tiny tomato sauce speck at the corner of Tony's lips. "You're a mess," he laughed.

Tony scoffed incredulously. "I'm a mess? Which one of us has herbs in his hair?"

Steve nodded in admission and rinsed the plates. "We should probably take showers before we do anything else."

Tony nodded in agreement before knocking back the rest of his beer. "Good idea," he replied. "Meet me in my room in twenty?"

Steve felt the familiar lurching in his stomach that he always felt when Tony invited him into his room, into any private aspect of his life.

Things hadn't gone much further than heated kisses and furtive groping, but they were getting there. Steve knew Tony was doing his best to take things slow, and he really appreciated it. His desire to take things slow had very little to do with his inexperience and more to do with a desire for intimacy—emotional intimacy—with his partner, before taking the next step.

And they were there. They were so there. They'd cried in front of each other, bled in front of each other, been vulnerable and strong. Just because Steve never had sex didn't mean he didn't know what he wanted. He wasn't scared, he wasn't nervous; he just didn't know how to bring it up.

Strangely enough, sex wasn't a huge topic of conversation between them after the initial "talk". It wasn't like Steve was going to toss in So, sex? between Did you fix your comm system today? or Why the hell are giant rabbits inhabiting Central Park? He had a little more tact than that.

Just a little.

While he was in the shower he thought of potential topics of conversation he could steer toward the topic of sex, thought of what he would say and what Tony's responses could be. He turned off the water and chuckled. Who would have thought he would be the one to over think things in their relationship.

He pulled on a pair of grey sweatpants and towel dried his hair before making his way to Tony's room, not bothering with a shirt. He knocked on the door that was left ajar before stepping inside. He could hear the shower running and firmly shut the door behind him.

"Tony," he called.

"Be out in a minute," he got in reply, followed by a muffled curse and the sound of many plastic bottles falling to the floor.

Steve chuckled and made himself at home on Tony's supremely comfortable bed. The first time he had been invited to Tony's room he had honestly been surprised that his bed wasn't some decadent monstrosity that took up the majority of his room and was covered in red silk.

Instead he found a king sized bed with soft, cotton sheets. He was right about the color, but instead of being Iron Man red they were the color of merlot and just looked warm.

Steve snagged the magazine that was carelessly tossed on the other side of the bed and thumbed through the glossy pages filled with the hottest cars for the next year.

He heard the water cut off and moments later Tony emerged, still dripping, with only a towel draped around his waist. Steve felt a faint flush on his cheeks and politely averted his eyes while Tony changed, the other man leering all the while. He nearly burst out don't but bit his lip, mentally berating himself for letting a perfect opportunity go, but he felt like he would be much more able to have an adult conversation when he wasn't distracted by the subtle lines of Tony's hip bones.

He felt the bed bounce as Tony leapt into bed and stretched out. Steve put the magazine on the nightstand and looked to Tony in amusement as the other man yanked him into the center of the bed and curled up on his chest.

"Comfortable?" he asked wryly.

"Very," Tony replied. "Thanks for asking."

Steve rolled his eyes and wrapped an arm around him. "What are we watching?"

"The Rocky Horror Picture Show," he said. "Cult classic."

Steve had no idea what that meant but he just nodded and settled in. Twenty minutes later he was torn between being scandalized and laughing so hard that Tony to move his head to a real pillow and not Steve's chest because he was being jostled so much.

Tony split his time between watching the movie and watching Steve. He finally got hold of himself and kept his laughing to a smothered giggle, prompting Tony to resume his place on Steve's chest. And then things became supremely awkward when Scott was visited by the good doctor in the guise of Janet.

Steve felt his eyebrows climb skyward and swore he could feel Tony cling to him even more, fingers rubbing in slow circles on his bare stomach. The scene was over in a flash but tension thrummed between them for the rest of the movie, Steve's skin tingling everywhere they touched.

The credits rolled and Steve let out a shivery breath making Tony look up at him with an uncharacteristically sheepish look on his face. "Too obvious?" he asked.

Steve looked down on him, bewildered. "Uh, no?"

"Look, it was this or Brokeback Mountain, but I figured that was, you know, in poor taste since it doesn't end well for anyone and that's sort of the opposite of what I'm going for."

Steve couldn't help but laughing. He had, in fact, seen Brokeback Mountain with Clint, who'd shown it to both he and Thor, hoping it would make them uncomfortable and he could laugh at their unease. Instead, Clint found himself the uncomfortable (and guilty) one as neither of them were offended, but deeply depressed and holding back tears, making Clint apologize profusely under the disappointed gaze of Bruce.

"Wise decision," Steve replied, a bit belatedly. He smiled at Tony expectantly. "Was there something you wanted to talk about?" he asked pointedly.

"Talking wasn't exactly what I had in mind," Tony hedged.

Steve felt a slow grin pull at his lips. Maybe that's where he was going wrong; talking. Communication was the key to a good relationship, but there was always too much of a good thing.

"What did you have in mind?" he asked slyly.

Tony immediately straddled his lap and leaned forward for a surprisingly gentle kiss. Steve wove his fingers through his messy hair and pulled him even closer with an encouraging murmur. His hands crept up the back of Tony's shirt, sliding over the smooth expanse of his back and shoulders.

Tony broke their kiss to pull off his shirt, tossing it onto the floor before surging forward once more. Steve kissed him back with equal fervor, his hands now focusing on the slight trail of hair disappearing into Tony's pajama bottoms, causing the other man to rock against him encouragingly.

The dark haired man kissed a meandering path down Steve's neck and chest, pausing to nip at prominent collarbones. Steve hummed in appreciation and watched Tony through hooded eyes. His hands cupped Tony's jaw and played with the coarse hairs there, fascinated with the contrast between the meticulously groomed scruff and his soft skin.

Tony press upwards again and caught his lips in a searing kiss, breaking it to whisper against his mouth heatedly. "God, Steve, you gotta let me take off your pants."

Steve huffed out an aroused breath. "You first."

Tony rolled off him immediately and pushed at the thin bottoms, kicking them off with his foot before turning back to Steve expectantly. He smiled and Tony's fingers went for the waistband on his sweats, sweeping under the elastic for a few tantalizing seconds before Steve lifted his hips and Tony eagerly pulled them down and left them crumpled at the end of the bed.

Steve lay still while Tony stared at him for a long, breathless moment before he groaned quietly and crawled up his body to press their lips together again. Steve let his hands wander and explore, feeling all the places he had thought about touching during his late night fantasies.

His hand wrapped around Tony's length, making him grunt and thrust his hips forward in surprise. "Okay?" he asked.

"God, so okay," Tony replied, mimicking Steve's actions and moaning throatily.

For a few minutes the only sounds to be heard was the panting of their breath and the slick sounds of their kisses mixing with the soft rasp of cotton on bare skin. Steve finally let out a breathy moan when Tony paid special attention to the head of his erection, teeth worrying the sensitive skin under his jaw.

"Guh," Tony began, lips moving against his chest. "I don't know what I want more: you to fuck me or me to fuck you."

Steve shivered and the base of Tony's cock firmly, relishing the feverish squeak he got in return. "Either way is fine," he managed. "Whatever you want."

"God, please let me fuck you. I promise you can go next time, just let me have you first."

Steve grabbed at Tony's face and pulled him into a kiss, a clash of teeth and tongue. "Of course you can. It doesn't matter which way, I just want to be with you so bad."

Tony groaned and pulled away, dashing across the room before Steve knew what was happening. He stared after him in confusion. "Tony, I swear, if you don't get back here in five seconds I am going to—"

But then he was back, ripping at the plastic covering on a cap of lube with his teeth. "Under the sink," he explained. "I meant to grab it earlier but you finished your shower faster than I thought. I didn't want to bring it out while you were in here and look like a presumptuous ass. Kind of a dick move."

Steve chuckled and snagged the bottle from Tony. "Give me that before your break your teeth."

Tony grinned cheekily. "Would you still love me?"

He tossed the plastic to the side and looked to the smaller man, brushing his knuckles across his cheek. "So much."

Tony pressed a kiss to his callused fingers before snatching the lube back and rolling into place between Steve's legs. He pressed steamy kisses down from his knee, along the inside of his thigh before his mouth ghosted over the length of him. He pressed a feather light kiss to the shaft before continuing to kiss up the opposite thigh, stopping at his other knee.

Steve was ready to beg by this point, for something, anything, but he didn't have to. Tony opened the bottle of lube with a definitive snick and drizzled a fair amount over his hand before wrapping his hand around Steve's impressive erection and stroking in slow, firm pulls.

Steve groaned and closed his eyes, slowing rocking his hips in time with Tony's hand before it slipped lower to cup his balls, and the even lower. He teased around the quivering skin of his entrance, making Steve clench up with anticipation.

"Tony," he pleaded darkly. "Remember, turnabout is fair play."

Tony responded with a soft kiss to his stomach before pouring more lube onto his finger and slowly pressing in a lone digit. Steve felt like his skin was electrified, centered on the motions of Tony's hands.

Despite his impatience, he was glad for Tony's reluctance to speed things up. He felt the strain as Tony pressed a second finger inside him, and he felt twinges of discomfort even as his body relaxed to accommodate them.

His fingers scissored briefly before curling and rubbing gently. Tony was biting his lip and resting his head against Steve's bent knee, staring into his face earnestly, searching for something. Steve's body jolted when Tony's fingers brushed against pure ecstasy, making him fist the sheets and pillow in a viselike grip.

"Jesus," he stuttered. "Again."

He could feel Tony smile against his knee as he brushed over that spot again and again, stopping only when he was on the brink of release, making Steve growl in frustration. Tony pulled his finger out and pressed back in with three, making Steve grunt with tension before relaxing when they brushed against his prostate once more.

He heard Tony release a shaky breath before he removed his fingers and leaned over him for a kiss. Steve responded desperately, making Tony's fingers fumble as they reached for the discarded bottle of lube. He pulled back to look into Steve's eyes.

"Do you want me to use a condom?"

Steve bit his lip, feeling himself flush. "This time," he said. "Until we—"

Tony nodded. "I know," he said, already reaching over to pull the nightstand open with shaking fingers.

Steve ran his hands along Tony's arms. "It's not because I don't trust you," he rushed to say, feeling he needed to clarify.

Tony just kissed him. "I know," he replied, smiling. "Safety first, Captain. I'll get Bruce to play vampire tomorrow, and then you can fuck me."

And then he was rolling the latex down the length of him and Steve felt a zing of anticipation go through him, for what was about to happen and Tony's promise for later. Tony braced a hand by Steve's waist and used the other to guide himself forward, pressing against his stretched opening.

Steve bent his legs and pulled at Tony eagerly. "C'mon," he slurred, fingers scrabbling for purchase against the sheets, against Tony's skin. Tony closed his eyes and his mouth hung open in pleasure as he slowly inched forward.

"God, Steve," he groaned. "Tell me."

"Good," Steve replied. "It's good. Don't stop, it's okay."

Tony eagerly pressed in the last inch, pausing once fully seated. "Fuck," he said. "Just—guh. Fuck."

Steve wanted to laugh but he was too busy trying to frantically stave off his orgasm, hand gripping the base of his erection. "Move," he begged, thighs cramping from clenching in pleasure.

Tony was all too happy to comply, rutting into him fervently. "So good, so good."

Steve couldn't reply, just braced his feet on the bed and rocked back as much as he was able. Their rhythm was a bit off and Steve felt a moment of self consciousness when he thought of what he must look like but wrote it off when Tony keened softly and gripped one of his legs in an unforgiving grip, hips stuttering against him quickly and he cried out his release.

Tony's fingers dug into the sheets with enough force to pull the fitted sheet off the corner of the bed, body shaking. "Jesus Christ," he whispered. "God, you're perfect. I swear I'm not usually like that, you're just so—"

Steve reached up and pressed his hand to Tony's mouth, effectively quieting. "Shh," he whispered urgently, still rocking back against him. "So close, please, just—"

And he nearly wept when Tony pulled out, hands grasping after him only to realize he was curling forward to take him in his mouth. Steve cried out when he felt the heat of Tony's mouth around him as two of his fingers slid back inside.

It only took a few white hot seconds before Steve was shouting his release to the ceiling, finishing what Tony started and ripping the other half of the sheet from the bed. He distantly registered Tony tossing the condom into the bin near his bed before crawling up Steve's flushed body to collapse on his chest.

"Shit," he said, causing Tony to laugh weakly.

"I'll take that as a compliment, Cap."

Steve smiled. "I meant it as one." He looked around at the tangled mess of sheets, now stained with lube and sweat and come. "We really did a number on your bed."

Tony hummed in agreement and snuggled closer. "I'll have Dummy changed them when we take a bath."

"We're taking a bath?" he asked in amusement.

"God yes. We're taking a bath and soaking away all this lube and then you're going to let me suck you again while I shamelessly rub against your leg."

Steve barely managed to suppress a moan. He slowly turned onto his side, facing Tony's happily sated face. He ran a long finger down the perfect bridge of his nose and over his kiss-swollen lips. He felt his heart lurch. He looked at Tony and brought a nimble hand to his mouth to press a kiss to the battered knuckles.

"If you insist."