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"It's not that I'm feeling guilty, you know that?" Tony said as he walked along with Steve's left hand, his big, warm hand, resting on Tony's shoulder.
"Not your fault," Steve said. His voice had no expression in it. Tony couldn't tell what that meant at all.
"That Godzilla-wannabe was heading straight for a school bus. I had to stop it. I suppose I could have tried punching it."
"No, there wasn't any time. It was the right choice," Steve said flatly. "How could you know it would go up like fireworks?"
Tony winced. The explosion had been not that powerful on the physical level, but the light had been searing blue-white. The armor's automatic compensation had saved Tony from suffering any more than a glaring headache, but Steve had been totally unprotected, and of course, he'd been looking right at the creature, backing Tony's attack. "It had a magnesium infused cell-structure. I should have known."
"Well, you'll know better next time," Steve said. "Are we there?"
"Nearly. Another ten feet or so." Tony kept walking at the same slow pace. He had wanted to give Steve a floor in the tower for months now, but Steve had preferred his own place, somewhere else. Tony didn't know where, he hadn't been invited. He tried to be sensible about it. Steve wanted a life separate from the Avengers, so having an Avenger visit would be pretty stupid. He suspected Nat and Clint had been over there, wherever it was, but, hey, they were spies and totally invisible. He'd bet no one had their faces tattooed on their bodies. Yeah, Tony would have brought an entourage of paparazzi down on Cap's shining golden head. There wasn't anything personal in the omission. Steve liked him well enough in the field.
Tony waved his hand over the door sensor, and it opened. "We're here. There's not a lot of furniture to trip over, but there is a balcony."
"Not gonna be doing much strolling about until this wears off," Steve said, waving his hand in front of his face. "I just want to shower, change, and lie down."
"Right. Right. It's only temporary. You'll be fine in the morning, the doctors said."
"Uh huh." Steve took his hand from Tony's shoulder and walked forward, shuffling his feet, and with his hands outstretched. It was pretty damn pathetic, and the blankly stoic look on Steve's face made Tony's stomach clench in sympathy.
Tony couldn't stand it; he reached out and put his arm under Steve's left hand, letting him latch on. "Look, I've got Jarvis's readings on the creature to analyze. I could do it here just as well as in the penthouse. Make sure you don't walk into a door, and get me accused of hero-abuse."
Steve finally made an expression at that. He scowled. "I'm a big boy, Tony. I can take care of myself, even like this."
"I know. I just... it would make me feel better, knowing you weren't alone right now."
Steve sighed. "Fine. I can't stop you. It's your tower."
"Maybe I should put my name back on it." Tony started moving towards the bathroom and Steve moved smoothly with him, as in sync as they were on the battlefield.
Steve huffed something like a poor attempt at a laugh. "I think Iron Man returning to his roost makes it clear whose tower it is."
"You make me sound like a pigeon," Tony tried to put annoyance into his tone, but he was relieved that Steve was willing to accept his help.
"Don't knock pigeons. Used to know a guy who raised racing homers. Crazy about those birds." Steve paused when they went from plush carpet to tile underfoot. "Can you get me some clothes?"
"Sure thing." Tony reluctantly moved away from Steve and headed for the lone dresser on the other side of the room. "Should be some basics in the drawers. Hey, tell me about your pigeon-loving friend," Tony said, wanting to hear Steve's voice while he was in the other room
"He went on about how smart they were, and how fast."
There was a rustling sound, which Tony took to be Steve undressing. He did not turn to look. Tony was... well, not a gentleman, but he wasn't a Peeping Tony, either. "They were brave birds, too. He told me about Mon Cheri, who was a genuine war hero, with a medal to prove it."
"A pigeon?" Tony mildly regretted the impulse that had made him stock various patriotic t-shirts. The next morning Steve was going to be annoyed if he thought Tony was making fun of him. Ah, ok, there's a plain blue shirt with a single white star on it. Not too bad. Loose sweatpants and blue slippers, plain underwear, ok, that's it.
"Yeah. Not the only one, either. He had lots of stories about pigeons carrying messages back to the roost even though they'd been shot. Tough little guys. They saved a lot of lives in both Great Wars."
"Huh." Tony bundled up the clothes and carried them to the bathroom. He tried not to look in, but there was so much glorious pale skin, it was impossible to miss. "I guess I don't mind being compared to a hero pigeon. Here." He held out the clothes at arms' length, then changed his mind and put them down. "I... I'll just leave the clothes on the hamper."
Steve stepped into the shower after cautiously adjusting and testing the temperature with his hand. Tony watched but really, only because of safety issues. Steve found the soap and began washing himself. "You're watching me, aren't you?"
"NO! Well, yes, but, you know, not like that."
"Yeah, I know." Steve sighed again.
"You almost sound disappointed I'm not perving on you."
"It's just unnatural. Tony Stark without the smart mouth." Steve fumbled putting the soap back on the dish. "Makes me wonder if it's really you." Steve closed his mouth tight, as if regretting what he'd said.
Steve must have been really shook up. "Who else would I be?"
"I know. It's stupid. But voices can be faked."
"You think someone kidnapped you during the few seconds you were knocked out by the blast? And had a Tony Stark voice-double handy just in case you were flash-blinded?"
"No. No, I don't think that, of course not. It's stupid, like I said." Steve stood there, water dripping down his perfect body and all Tony felt was protective. That was weird.
"Come out of the shower, and I'll prove I'm me."
Steve shook his head. "I just. I'm tired, Tony."
"I just need to rest." Steve got out of the shower, and located a towel. "Really."
Tony backed further away before he spoke. "Fine. The clothes are to your right. I'll be in the other room. Being Tony Stark." Since footsteps on carpet made very little noise, Tony kept talking until he reached a chaise lounge and sat. He pulled out his StarkPad, glanced at it and set it aside. "Hey, do you want something to eat? Room service is included, no extra charge."
"Nah." Steve stepped out of the bathroom, dressed, but still damp. He was toweling his head. "Think I'll just grab some shut-eye."
That was a warning sign Tony had come to learn, starting with the Avengers first after battle meal. When Steve didn't eat after fighting, something was wrong. "I know a place delivers pastrami on rye. They make a mean egg cream soda, too."
Steve shook his head. "Maybe later. Which way's the bed?"
Tony got up. "Directly in front of you, about twenty feet ahead." He put his arm under Steve's hand again. "Wow, you're cold." Tony realized that Steve had felt chilled before but he hadn't noticed it until now when he was expecting the shower to have warmed him.
Steve made a noncommittal grunt and began shuffling forward. Tony led him to the bed where Steve released him and felt around, pulling back the duvet without a comment on the feel of the eiderdown or the silk sheets. He turned and sat down to pull off his slippers, setting them down neatly next to the bed. "You don't need to stay."
"Need to, no. Going to, yes."
Steve gave Tony an eye-roll. "Suit yourself." He lay down and pulled the covers up, turning on his side and pulling up his knees to make a smaller than expected lump under the linens. He was shivering enough to make the sheets tremble.
"I could get a heating blanket? Turn up the room temperature?" Wasn't being cold a sign of shock? What the hell were the doctors thinking, to let Steve walk out of there with only Tony Stark to look after him? Clearly, SHIELD needed new doctors.
Steve sighed again. "Look, I know you're just trying to be nice, but I've been through this before. It's not a big deal, no need to fuss over it."
"So, that's it? You just lie there and shiver?"
"Well, yeah." For the first time Steve sounded like himself, annoyed with Tony. "They're gone, all right? I'm alone in the dark, and..." Steve bit his lip. "Go away, Stark."
"Uh uh." Tony kicked off his shoes, wriggled his toes in his red socks, and climbed into the bed behind Steve. He got into Big Spoon position and tried to decide what to do with his lower arm. "You're not alone. Now go to sleep."
"You're sure you're Tony Stark?" Steve asked, but there was humor in it.
Tony rubbed his beard against the back of Steve's neck, making him jump. "Yep. Wanna feel my arc reactor?"
"Not on a first date," Steve said, sleepily. He relaxed and pushed back against Tony. And that was it, affection, attraction, proximity, Steve's unprecedented vulnerability- whatever the cause, Tony's body was suddenly extremely enthusiastic. Tony let go of Steve and leaped out of bed.
"Sorry! I'll just... go get a heating blanket!"
"Tony." Steve sat up. He leaned down and found his slippers. "You make me tired."
"Sorry!" Tony's mind raced, looking for excuses, explanations, anything. And came up blank. He turned away from Steve. "It has a mind of its own," was what came out of his mouth. Smooth. Really smooth.
"And what was it thinking?" Steve asked. He was standing right behind Tony.
Tony glanced over his shoulder. Steve was smiling. Smiling. And holding out his arms.
"It... it was thinking how much it likes you. Really. Really likes you."
Steve's smile widened. His eyes didn't quite meet Tony's, but they tried. "Tony. I really like you too. Really."
Tony glanced down at Steve's crotch. "Oh. You really like me."
"Uh huh. Come to bed and keep me warm."
Tony turned to take Steve's hands. "So, you think Tony Stark is hot."
Steve snickered. "Now I know it's really you."