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Ball and Chain (of Fools)

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It may not have been Tony’s best day – losing all the letters but the ‘A’ on his tower – but it ends up working perfectly.

 

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Not long after everyone went their own way, tied up their loose ends, visited family – all the normal things in one’s life – they returned to S.H.I.E.L.D. in search of any task to do. Except there was no bad guy to fight anymore. Not now that Loki was safely paying for his crimes in another world.

So what could six reckless people do with all their extra time and energy? They had a meeting – a very short one, because Tony hates them – and Steve came up with something a little unorthodox.

 

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“We could use Stark Tower as our base,” Steve suggests, looking around the board table for reactions.

Clint looks over at Natasha, who tilts her head almost imperceptibly. Tony rolls his eyes, chewing harder on his gum, and tilting his sunglasses down. Thor’s eyebrows crease as he considers it, scraping his beard. And Fury seems… a bit too enthusiastic. Coulson isn’t looking at his Captain America cards because he’s too busy beaming at them – so excited to finally have a chance to ask for a signature. He’s mostly oblivious to the entire meeting (or maybe just an expert at pretending he isn’t listening).

“I have to hand it to you, Rogers,” Fury says, patting Steve on the back, “I think there’s a reason you’re the leader of The Avengers.”

“Now wait a second,” Tony cuts in, yanking his sunglasses off. “This is my tower, and he doesn’t even like it – I remember something about it being ‘big and ugly’. And if anyone should be the leader, it should be me because this is my tower. Did I mention that part already?”

Pepper clears her throat, her clipboard at her side, not entirely ignoring Tony, but it’s a close thing. “I think we should just vote – for both things.” Tony’s mouth falls open in disbelief; his own girlfriend turning on him.

“That is a formidable idea Lady Pepper,” Thor exclaims. “Let us be democratic just as we are on Asgard!”

Fury crosses his arms. “All in favour of Steve being the leader of The Avengers, and using Stark tower as your headquarters?”

Everyone, save for Tony of course, raises their hand. Coulson raises both arms

Tony pushes out of his seat, jabbing a finger in Coulson’s face threateningly. (Who else is he capable of threatening, really?) “You’re not staying here, agent,” Tony grinds out.

Fury fixes Tony with his non-patched eye and says, “I need to have someone here to keep you in line just in case Rogers is away or can’t handle you alone. Agent Coulson stays.”

“Do I get any say? Because, honestly, how is this even a democracy?” Tony looks to Thor who just blinks in confusion.

“It’s a democracy because there’s been a vote, and the majority agreed,” Steve answers, finally partaking in the discussion again.

“Yeah, sure, Cap here is all for it because it was his idea in the first place. You know what? Whatever.” Tony grabs Pepper’s arm. “I’ll be in the penthouse if anyone cares about my opinion.”

 

~*~*~

 

Less than a week later, all six of the world’s recent saviours are living in the renovated Stark tower (referred to as The Avengers tower behind Tony’s back).

Tony has the penthouse – which he shares with Pepper whenever she has time away from being his fantastic CEO – and he doesn’t spend much time outside of there, except to go into the R&D department. The two floors below used to be lofts, but have since been modified into bedrooms for the remaining members. Giant bedrooms. The kind of bedroom that could make anyone wish they had a mate to share it with. Maybe that was Tony’s goal when he designed them.

Steve, Natasha and Bruce live on the floor just below Tony’s suite, while Coulson, Thor and Clint live on the floor under them. It was the best arrangement Fury could come up with to avoid any late night brawls due to Tony’s often inconsiderate and noisy habits.

The tower is huge, even big enough to handle one of Hulk’s appearances, but it doesn’t stop them from bumping into each other. It takes time for everyone to come to terms with sharing as if they live in a dorm; they’d all mostly been living alone previous to Loki’s arrival.

Sometimes they meet in the kitchen for breakfast or late night snacks, they use one another’s bathrooms when their own is backed up, they fight over which rented movie they want to watch on a Friday evening, and they spar or work out together in Tony’s gym.

As odd as it sounds, once Coulson has the signatures he’d been wanting from Steve, he lets the ‘children’ run rampant and doesn’t intervene in the slightest. If Tony weren’t the one most often destroying things and walking around naked accidentally – he’s not used to sharing his home as of yet – then Fury would have had a piece of his mind a while ago.

It’s been a month, and, besides Tony’s childish antics and Thor’s impatience with human technology, there hasn’t been much trouble in the tower. It doesn’t stop Steve from holding his breath and expecting the inevitable to happen – sooner or later.

 

~*~*~

 

It takes everyone else five days to notice Natasha’s increased withdrawal. Steve already began to worry on the second day. It’s his job as their leader to make sure his teammates – he’d like to think of them as his friends, too– are mentally and physically well.

Steve waits until their scheduled sparring session to bring it up.

Natasha has him trapped like a vice grip; her thighs wrapped around his head, tugging on his right arm just hard enough to hurt and force Steve into submission. If he doesn’t stop her, his shoulder will pop out of his socket. And he’s been in this position before, so he knows there’s no point flailing about or trying to kick her off.

“I give,” Steve rasps out, tapping with his free hand against the mat.

Natasha immediately lets go, and stands, grabbing her towel from the corner of the mat. “What is it, Captain?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” Steve replies, clambering to his feet a bit more slowly than he hoped. She really went all-out this time.

“You’re a super soldier, I’m sure you can take it,” she answers dryly. She won’t look at Steve as she dabs the sweat from her brow.

“Doesn’t make it hurt any less,” Steve adds, chuckling and slightly winded.

He steps towards Natasha, and she whips her head around, throwing her towel back where it was. There’s a renewed fire in her eyes. It takes Steve a second, but he realizes round two is about to begin.

Natasha’s using the elasticity of the mat to project herself at Steve, and he can’t do anything but raise his arms to avoid getting kicked in the face and ribs – those are her favourite places to aim for. She huffs, more vocal than she would be any day, and crouches down, sweeping Steve’s legs out from under him.

He lands in an awkward way, and lets out a yelp from the pain coursing through his elbow. It’s really not a funny bone. Natasha’s relentless as she straddles his waist, using his injury to her advantage, successfully blocking Steve’s airway with his own bulked up arm.

This time Steve manages to buck her off, and pins her with his weight. She tries to get her legs out from under Steve to kick him away, or at least wrap around his shoulders and neck, but he’s seated too heavily on her. Natasha growls and scratches at Steve’s arms until he’s forced to hold her wrists above her head.

“Are we going to talk about it calmly, Natasha?” Steve says, his face reddening from exertion. She’s really not an easy opponent to beat.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Natasha retorts, her even tone at odds with the scowl on her face.

Steve laughs softly. “Then why did you consider gouging my eyes out for a second there? I’m pretty sure that’s not nothing.”

Natasha’s eyes widen and she opens her mouth to protest, but quickly changes tactics. “What are your terms?”

“Terms?” Steve quirks a brow, a lazy smile on his face.

“I’m already compromised. What will it take for you to keep this between us?” She explains, visibly stiffening against the mat. She’s not good at admitting defeat, and probably never will be.

“Nothing, Natasha,” Steve replies softly, taken aback by her defensive tone. “You can trust me. I wouldn’t tell anyone.” He considers letting her wrists go, but thinks better of it. She could still decide to pluck his eyes out. “I just want to know what’s bothering you.”

“Do I have to tell you everything?” She sighs, looking away.

Steve does let go of her wrists then, but keeps her trapped with his body. “Of course not. Whatever you want to.”

Natasha rubs her wrist, eyeing Steve like she can’t trust him as far as she can spit. “I’ve just been having trouble sleeping.” She pushes at Steve’s chest gently, trying to get him off her.

“No, I don’t think so. You’ll just run away or knock me unconscious and then run,” Steve says sternly, crossing his arms. “Go on.”

“That’s all I want to say,” she replies firmly, trying to push Steve off again with a palm to his shoulder.

Steve catches her wrist; he wants to help with what’s keeping her up at night, but he doesn’t persist. He told her she could say what she wanted and that’d be the end of it, so he’ll keep to his word. He lets her go and starts to climb off, but she grabs his arm abruptly, making him lose his balance.

For all of a second, Steve’s afraid round three is on its way until Natasha’s eyes flutter closed, and she leans up to take his lips between her own. It’s rough and precise like everything else Natasha does, but there’s a delicacy to it that only a woman can provide. It’s only the second time Steve’s ever kissed a woman, but he’s starting to wonder if they’re all pros at tearing him apart.

She pulls away, breathing deeply. “You really don’t want to know anything else?”

Natasha has always been told what to do and how to think. And when that wasn’t the case, she’d be ordered to keep her mouth shut and bury her feelings under years of assassination experience. There was never someone like Captain America around – strong and humane – giving her the option to put on a brave face or to let someone in.

He steadies himself by resting an arm against the mat. “Of course I do. But I won’t force you to--”

Kindness like his is not something you acquire in Natasha’s line of work; it’s something you are born with, it’s a gift. And often a curse as well. Natasha can see that he means what he says, that he truly cares about her pain, her past, her as a person rather than simply as a weapon to be wielded.

It’s enough for her. That’s all she needs to know. Soon she’ll be able to tell him, but for now--

Natasha drags Steve in for another kiss, this time wrapping her legs around him, forcing his body closer to hers. She scrapes her nails down Steve’s back and laughs darkly when Steve lets out a sound a tad bit high for a man his size. Then there are lips on his neck, on his chest, fingers clawing at his shirt, a writhing body beneath him, and it’s really going too fast. Steve needs to soak it all in.

Steve moves away reluctantly, not wanting to end up a drooling mess on the mat for saying the wrong thing. “Is this what you need? I want to help you, Natasha.” Natasha looks softer, content, even offering the leader a small smile. Steve cups her cheek. “If you’d rather talk, I’m here for that.”

Steve’s trying to make sense of this situation, but he has no experience to draw from. Peggy was it, and even that didn’t go far beyond a professional relationship. This is the closest he’s ever been to a woman since, and Natasha knows what she’s doing. But this isn’t what he was offering. He wants to be her friend, her shoulder to lean on. Wasn’t that what women always wanted? Companionship rather than sexuality? Has he got it all wrong, and all that has changed in the 70 years he’s been asleep? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Natasha kisses the fingers close to her mouth, sliding her tongue along Steve’s thumb. She seems intent on driving him mad with desire, but he just needs to be sure this isn’t an act. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather go out for some coffee?”

If he were any other person and it were any other day, she’d be convinced he was just as skilled as Tony at getting into women’s pants. But as it stands, this is the super soldier who puts his life on the line day in and day out, fighting for all the things that have long since disappeared in the world. And, if anyone deserves to get into someone’s pants, it’s definitely Steve.

“I’m not much for talking, but thanks, Steve.” Natasha bites her lip when she sees the flush across Steve’s face from finally being called by his first name. He’s almost too sweet to be a superhero. “I feel much better now.” And it’s not a lie for once.

Okay’ would have been his response, but instead it’s ‘oof’ when she switches their positions and drops on top of him like deadweight. Her hips roll at a languid, maddeningly slow pace with just enough friction for Steve’s erection to catch between her spread thighs. Natasha grins when she dives in for another kiss, dragging her fingers across Steve’s scalp and relishing in every little, embarrassing sound she can squeeze out of the first Avenger.

But come on, who else could say they’ve ridden Captain America like a horse?

Natasha takes off her shirt and bra, and then tugs at Steve’s t-shirt. Steve freezes, grabbing her fingers gently.

“What? We don’t have much time. Someone else could come down, Steve.”

Steve bodily shudders and Natasha smirks, dragging his shirt all the way off when he nods in approval. She doesn’t waste any time tugging off his gray jogging pants, and shimmying out of her own black ones.

That’s when time slows to a halt.

Natasha is beautiful, absolutely stunning inside and out. Steve wants to admire her, feel every inch of skin, and have the taste of this woman on his tongue for days. He wants to make her feel special because she is, and she deserves to know that she’s a good person. If nothing else, he wants to distract her from her sadness, and let her know through touch that he’ll always be around for her.

Pressing soft kisses to her jaw, neck and collarbone, Steve explores the body laid above him as Natasha sighs quietly. Steve continues to lavish her skin with attention, printing patterns across her shoulders, down her chest, reaching up to cup her breasts tentatively. She sucks in a breath, but rocks her hips against him when his digits circle and press against her nipples. That’s more than enough incentive for her to even up the game. She snakes a hand between their bodies while he leans in to kiss each of her breasts.

Although Steve is trying to enjoy the sight of a real, live naked woman, she’s making it hard for him since said woman is suddenly stroking his cock. She bends in a way that is completely unknown to Steve’s world, and licks a wet stripe along the underside of his length. And that’s when his skin starts vibrating with want.

“Think you can last a few minutes?” Natasha teases, standing just long enough for Steve to melt at the sight of her perky breasts and hardened pink nipples, then slides off her underwear, and puts it with her pants. “Ready?”

Steve hasn’t even answered the first question. He isn’t sure if he was meant to, but surely he can answer this one--

Natasha lowers herself onto Steve’s cock, nothing but her earlier saliva to ease the way at first. It’s so tight, so warm, and it’s getting wet. And slick. All language is abruptly lost to him.

Steve’s eyes roll back in his head because the pressure around him is amazing and ten million times better than using his hand and some lotion. She presses both palms to his chest, raising her hips up and down his shaft, her head tipping forward every time Steve feels like he can’t be any deeper inside her. Steve struggles to make his limbs move, but when he finally does, her reaction alone is worth the amount of effort it took.

His fingers trace her hips slowly and he meets her down movement with a thrust upwards, causing a sharp moan to stutter out of Natasha’s parted lips. He chews on his lip, squeezing her waist tight with each thrust until she collapses forward, letting Steve do all the work.

“Come on, Steve, harder. I can take it. Harder!” If that’s what’ll make Natasha happy, then that’s what he’ll do.

Steve rolls them over, taking this chance to admire her further as she writhes below him, whining for him to go faster, fuck harder, go deeper, and then, you won’t hurt me. Steve leans in, holding her face, kissing her, driving his hips in as far as he can. His skin is chafing from the friction on the mat, probably going to leave behind some nasty red marks. It doesn’t matter though because his stomach is tightening, his balls are pulling, moving in close to his body, his head is spinning and he’s spilling into Natasha – into another human being – for the first time in his life.

Steve’s sad for a moment when he considers he never had a chance to try this with Peggy. Natasha is like her in more ways than one, and reminds him of her at the strangest of times.

The last thrust must have been particularly hard because Natasha flings her head back, a cry forming on her lips but never making it out of her throat, her whole body tensing. And then she’s completely limp, satisfied.

Now that they’re spent, she clings to Steve for a moment, limbs trembling and sweaty, and Steve hums, not wanting to move, enjoying the intimacy. After the moment’s passed and Steve starts kissing her neck, she reaches down to pull Steve’s length out of her, and ends up with sticky, white strings between her fingers.

“You want my shirt?” Steve whispers, memorizing Natasha’s surprisingly open expression (and, secretly, the taste of her).

Natasha shakes her head but doesn’t tear her eyes away. She licks her lips to get his attention drawn there, and dips her fingers in her mouth, sucking them clean. “Wanna go again, Steve?”

And Steve isn’t about to say no to seeing more of this Natasha.

 

~*~*~

 

They have a conversation while breathless, and more or less clothed, still lying on the mat together.

Steve pets Natasha’s hair as she explains that her father was a high placed criminal boss who had her trained as an infant to murder their competition. She explains how she had to learn to slit people’s throats and break limbs efficiently when she was only fifteen, with an almost disturbing detachedness to her tone. Steve knows it isn’t her fault she’s as unaffected as she is, but he wishes he could make her understand that it will never be like that again.

She reaches for Steve’s free hand, lacing their fingers, looking up at him with a lopsided smile and an innocence he didn’t even know she could have. It’s heartbreaking to imagine what a ten year old Natasha would have looked like, waiting against a wall for her target, when she should have been playing hide and seek.

“I hope you know this doesn’t mean we’re dating or anything,” Natasha says suddenly, jolting Steve out of the thought.

“It doesn’t?” Steve had a feeling it didn’t, but he could always hope he was wrong.

Natasha’s expression turns very serious. “I’m sorry if you thought it did. I just wanted to give you something fun.” She traces Steve’s bottom lip gently. “I don’t want to get attached to anyone like that, Steve. It has nothing to do with you. I want to concentrate on our work, on my career.”

“I understand, Natasha,” Steve replies, one side of his mouth raising. “Don’t worry.”

“We can still be friends, right?” Natasha smiles, squeezing his hand once. “If we are friends?”

“Of course,” he says without apprehension. “I’d love that. I haven’t had a friend in a while.”

Natasha shifts onto Steve’s chest, letting him stroke her hair a while longer. Steve doesn’t regret what they’ve done together because, despite them not being in love, they’ve shared something and acquired a new part to their bond. She is very much like Peggy, more than Steve originally thought, and he loves Natasha for that – even if perhaps it’s too soon to say.

 

~*~*~

 

Natasha spends more time socializing in the entertainment room after the intense ‘workout’ with Steve. It allows Clint and her to discuss weird, deadly fight moves they’ve used on enemies in past missions. The kind of thing you would expect in a video game like Mortal Kombat, not in real life.

Thor listens with a bit too much attention for someone who can conjure lightning as easily as flicking a switch. Tony passes by, grimaces, and goes straight into the kitchen for some coffee. Bruce is already in the kitchen when he arrives and hands him a cup, following him out as they go to the R&D floor – as usual.

Steve notices all this because he draws it, paints it early in the morning when he has time to himself. But one thing he doesn’t see is Coulson joining in.

 

~*~*~

 

Later that evening, Steve is heading back to his room when he hears someone clear his throat behind him. Coulson is shifting his weight from either foot, smiling up at Steve like he’s the idol he has been worshipping for years. It makes Steve’s head hurt; he’s nothing more than a kid from Brooklyn.

“Hey Coulson,” Steve says. “Didn’t see you around all day.”

“I was… around.” Phil smiles, coughing to cover up his embarrassment. “I just wanted to thank you for signing my cards.”

“It was no problem--”

Coulson steps forward, pulling them out of his pocket and showing them to Steve. Pointing to them as he says, “I mean it. You’re a real hero, Cap.” He laughs, pushing his cards back in his pants. “I was so happy when Fury let me live under the same roof as you.”

“Come on, Coulson.” Steve claps Coulson on the back. “I’m just a regular guy. You should be impressed with Tony or Thor or Bruce, not me.”

“No!” Coulson looks down, shuffling his feet. “They’re not like you. You’re special. You care about people. You even care about me, and I don’t think most of them do.”

“That’s not true,” Steve replies sternly, “I’m sure the whole team is happy to have you around.”

Coulson smiles when he looks up at Steve, but his gaze never quite reaches eye-level. Steve watches him lick his lips subconsciously, and can practically hear what Coulson’s thinking. Coulson’s face colours with red when he realizes how obvious he’s being, but Steve really doesn’t see the harm in giving this man – his biggest fan – something he’s probably too afraid to ask for. He can consider it a token of Captain America’s gratitude.

Steve leans down, curling his fingers at the back of Coulson’s neck, and leading him in for a slow, gentle kiss. Probably too gentle for two men to be, but what does Steve know about sex (besides what Natasha taught him)? And besides, it’s just a kiss. What’s the worst that could happen?

Coulson’s face is crimson when Steve pulls away, his eyes wide and almost frightened. His body goes limp as he faints right then and there, crumpling against his most beloved hero.

Well, that’s most likely the worst that could have happened.

 

~*~*~

 

Two things bother Steve for the following week.

The first is that Steve actually kissed a man, a fan of his no less, and didn’t quite dislike it as much as he expected to. He had just wanted to give Coulson something back for making him feel worth something. And when Coulson displayed the need for physical attention, Steve lunged at the opportunity. Maybe spending so much time in Natasha’s company wasn’t the best choice of action – what with her never voicing things, and Steve having to guess the right thing to do each time.

Considering he had only kissed one woman in his time, Steve really didn’t understand the norms of society nowadays, especially involving sex. Natasha had barely given Steve more than an inkling as to why she wanted to copulate (do people use that term?) in the gym, and even then, he didn’t quite understand what ‘corrupting an innocent’ meant.

And although Tony made it blatantly clear that his tower was a judgment-free, loving place to reside, Steve didn’t quite believe that the rest of New York was so open to homosexual relations. When Tony and Natasha both admitted to being bisexual as their argument, Steve nearly fell off the kitchen stool.

Things like that weren’t uttered so casually, nor usually mentioned at all in his day. But times have changed, and Steve has always been a bit more adventurous than the people he knew, so maybe it’s not such a big deal that he kissed Coulson.

Everyone is basically the same deep down.

The second thing that bothers Steve is that everyone – and that includes Fury who doesn’t even live in the tower – knows about the incident with Coulson, and refers to it as Captain America’s finishing move.

Steve isn’t very up-to-date on many things (see: all) technological, but Clint had explained that it was a reference to combative video games – with an unnecessary amount of giggling. It’s bad enough that Steve’s body decided things before his mind caught up with it, but for everyone to constantly pucker their lips when they see him in the kitchen, in the hall, in the gym, on the field, in his room – everywhere! – is just adding insult to injury.

When Tony slips in to Steve’s room one night, and hands him a box with a gold bow, Steve’s immediate reaction is to throw it away. But no, Steve is the designated martyr of the house, the victim of the month (even though he wasn’t the one who fainted).  And he opens it like the fool he is, only to find condoms of every shape and size – and flavour – waiting for him. And just in case that wouldn’t ruin Steve’s libido for eternity, Tony wrote a note.

“Read it,” Tony chides, picking lint off his shirt, face perfectly unreadable thanks to his shades.

Steve does, but only because he’s come this far already. He makes sure to glare extra hard at the same time, just so Tony knows he’s on to him. No point on holding on to the last of his dignity. Tony certainly doesn’t bother with nonsense like that.

 

 

Now that you’re all grown up, you might need to wrap up your junk.

You don’t want to get Natasha pregnant, do you?

And I’m pretty sure Coulson has a vagina as well.

Anal sex can get kinda messy, so use the reinforced ones.

 

From your sexual mentor,

Tony Stark

 

 

Steve’s skin is scorching hot, and he knows how that must look. Tony’s face seems like it’s going to crack from the sheer intensity of his guileless smirk. “You can thank me later when you don’t have herpes, Cap.”

Steve scowls and throws the box at Tony who moves out of the way just in time, but he runs out of Steve’s room when he sees Steve stand. When Tony is laughing down the hall, Jarvis congratulates Steve on scaring him away, but ruins the moment by also saying that Tony is right.

Too bad Steve can’t throw something at Jarvis.

 

~*~*~

 

At the very least, Steve can count on Coulson – might as well call him Phil after what happened – doing his job finally, and putting the Avengers in their place, while keeping them from constantly dogging Steve about that kiss. (Steve is almost 100% sure Phil is the one that told Fury. That’s most likely why he feels responsible, and is, consequently, helping out now.)

Steve’s goal had been to make the entire team feel comfortable, and in a way they really do, but only when it comes to mocking their leader. They still aren’t very good with deeper interaction and cooperation. Not as good as they should be. Not how a team would require it on the field.

Natasha only ever opens up to Clint (or Steve, after sex oddly) when she has nightmares about her past and the family she left behind in Russia. She allows Tony to get inside her mind at times, only because she knows he doesn’t really do the whole emotions and caring thing, and he won’t prod further than a stranger would; they have that in common.

Thor is oblivious, completely and without a doubt, so there’s no hope of him ever noticing her mood shifts. And even if he does, he seems to have been raised not to try and initiate help unless the woman asks for it. He doesn’t seem to have a problem with any of the members, but there are constant misunderstands as to Midgardian customs that Thor shouldn’t ignore. Steve isn’t so sure arguing with a god is a good idea, so he’ll let it slip for a while longer.

Bruce spends far too much time in his personal lab to notice much of anything, unfortunately. That in itself is a problem; the team can’t get close to him even when he’s not slaving away on a formula to control his transformation into the Hulk. Tony was the first to make contact with Bruce, but he’s not made much progress since – mainly because of his not wanting to deal with feelings issue again. Natasha won’t approach unless asked, and Thor breaks too many beakers when he goes into the lab, so he’s been banished.

Clint is always up somewhere. At times he’s sitting on the antique chandelier – until Tony screams bloody murder, and Clint zip-lines down – other times he’s at the top of the staircase that leads from the bedrooms to the entertainment room, just watching. He only comes down when he notices Natasha’s a bit shaken up from a dream she had, if there’s a movie he likes on TV, or when he needs to eat. Steve suspects he often sleeps on the roof of the tower, but he can’t be sure (and doesn’t want to check because, frankly, heights scare him since Bucky).

So where does Steve start? There are so many people, so many problems, so many different masks, and not enough hours in one day for him to build all these bridges alone. He’ll just have to pick the next person to approach him and go from there.

 

~*~*~

 

Steve looks over at his clock the next morning and it tells him it’s 5am. In other words, the alarm’s not due to ring for another three hours. He should be tired, having only slept four hours, but he’s not. Thank you once again fantastic serum? Not that the cause matters when Steve doesn’t need any more sleep.

It’s Saturday and Steve really doesn’t feel like showering and getting dressed yet. Coffee seems like a much better idea, especially since he can spend the extra hours contemplating his course of action on the Avengers dilemma.

When Steve steps out of his room in his sleepwear (thin jogging pants and a T-shirt), he doesn’t expect Clint to be awake at the top of the stairs – which happen to be across from Steve’s room, and the only way to the kitchen – looking more serious than called for at this time of day.

“Morning,” Steve says softly, not wanting to startle him or wake everyone up.

“Hey, Cap.” Clint grins, the earlier expression disappearing so quickly Steve wonders if it was ever there.

Steve closes his bedroom door, and puts a hand on Clint’s shoulder. “Something wake you up? Wanna talk about it over breakfast?”

Clint shakes his head, smiling at least. “Nah. Don’t worry your pretty little head, Cap. But I could do with some grub.”

 

~*~*~

 

Steve learns a few things that morning.

Sometimes the world makes decisions for you – as in the case of Clint being the next person that Steve will build a relationship with and try to understand. And the other thing Steve finds out is that Clint has a filthy, disturbing mouth and sense of humour once he gets started. And clearly the time of day has no effect on it whatsoever.

Perhaps Steve is considered a prude for the year 2012, and that could be part of why he ends up sputtering milk down his chin during breakfast, but something about what Clint is saying convinces Steve he wouldn’t be the only one startled by the rude comments.

“So I heard ‘Tasha made use of your dick, Cap,” Clint says, slurping on a spoonful of milk noisily. He looks up after a moment. “What was that like? I’ve always wondered how she is in the sack.”

Steve probably shouldn’t be surprised Natasha told her closest friend that she’d slept with him, but he expected a bit more discretion at least. “I don’t feel comfortable discussing my sex life, Clint. Besides, it wouldn’t be very nice to Natasha.”

Clint snorts, dipping his spoon in the milk. “I already know all the details, man. I just wanted to know if you liked it as much as she did.”

No answer may be the best answer in this case. Besides, Steve can’t seem to get saliva back in his mouth.

Laughing and tapping a hand on the table, Clint breaks the awkward silence. “I’m just busting your balls, Cap. She’s not that kinda girl. Plus, she knows I couldn’t keep it secret long.” He brings his bowl up to his mouth, finishing the milk. “She was walking weird for a few hours, though. Did the serum affect your dick, too, or something?”

Burning with heat spreading across his cheekbones, Steve clears his throat and says, “I don’t think it did. It just made it proportionate to the rest of me.”

Clint tilts his head in a way that reminds Steve too much of how Natasha had looked before she’d ravished his mouth, and it makes Steve suddenly very nervous of it happening out in the open this time. Instead, Clint just drops his bowl in the dishwasher, and steps out of the kitchen without uttering another word.

What just happened?

 

~*~*~

 

Steve is returning late from volunteering at a nearby animal shelter, humming an old tune under his breath, when the elevator dings open and leaves him beyond speechless. The tower is in shambles.

There are empty bottles of beer and hard liquor littering every flat surface, including every step of the stairway leading to Steve’s bedroom door. The living room table is flipped over. There’s smoke coming from the kitchen. Thor is wrestling with the Hulk – not Bruce Banner – and smashing through the surviving furniture. Tony’s suit is flying around on its own with no one inside while Clint tries to shoot modified rubber bands at it. Natasha is trying to keep Tony from sliding his hands under her shirt as they make out on the stairs next to a half empty bottle of rum. Phil steps out of the kitchen with burnt Poptarts and Thor calls ‘temporary battle withdrawal’ so he can eat them without the Hulk pummeling him.

This, Steve decides, is definitely all Tony’s doing. How he even persuaded Phil to join in on this debauchery is beyond his knowledge, but it needs to stop before they burn down the entirety of the Avengers tower.

Where is Pepper when Steve needs someone to keep Tony on a leash?

The elevator dings behind Steve, and the small gasp from the person behind him is the biggest relief for all the wrong reasons. (Steve couldn’t imagine having to wrangle up the wild bunch of so-called humans he lives with on his own.) Pepper taps Steve on the shoulder, clipboard in her other hand.

“Did you just get back?”

“Yeah.” Steve feels almost bad for having left.

“Tony?”

“I’m guessing. But I don’t want to assu—”

“It’s Tony’s doing. I know his style.” She grumbles, eyeing the mess with disbelief.

Steve nods, serious. “Can you take care of him?”

“Where is he—Oh. Of course,” Pepper says, gritting her teeth.

“I’m sorry,” Steve offers, touching her hand softly. He’d been so wrapped up in the mess he forgot who Tony was with. Pepper smiles at him, but her eyes tell him not to get involved in her affairs.

“He’s always been interested in Natasha, even when she was my assistant. I should have seen it coming.” She straightens up, clipboard pressed tightly to her chest. “But I’m still his goddamn CEO, and he is destroying the Avengers headquarters. Time to get to work, Steve.” She forces a smile.

Steve tips his head, and rushes into the kitchen before the fire alarm goes off because of the smoke.

The toaster is balancing dangerously close to a sink full of water, clogged by who knows what. He’s not dealing with that, nope; there could be a large number of things floating in there that Steve doesn’t want to think about. He unplugs the toaster, wraps the wire, and tucks it away in a cupboard.

When Steve steps out of the kitchen, Bruce is now naked and no longer green, sitting with Thor on a half-couch. At some point they found time between fighting, eating burnt food and being drunk, to slice the sofa perfectly down the middle. Steve will never quite understand this new world he’s found himself in. They’re leaning against each other, looking drowsy – seemingly coming down from their sugar rush – so Steve moves on to more pressing matters.

“Jarvis, stop the Iron Man suit, please,” Steve instructs sternly.

“Are you certain you wouldn’t like me to open a window and allow it to fly out instead?” Jarvis replies.

Steve sighs. “Yes, I’m sure.”

The suit falls straight down from the center of the room, and Steve has to catch it before it lands on Phil – who’s passed out in front of the halved sofa. Steve rests it underneath the overturned table, which he places back on its legs, and picks up Phil afterward. He carries him to his room and tucks him in, shutting the light on the way out.

Natasha is rubbing her face when Steve returns, a handprint across her cheek – Pepper’s logically – with Tony nowhere to be found. Pepper must have managed to drag him away and up to the penthouse so they could deal with their issues privately.

Clint trips over a beer bottle on the way to where Natasha is seated on a step, but she steadies him with an arm on his hip. He then shoots a specialty rubber band at Thor’s head, but Thor does little more than grunt, pulling clothing-free Bruce closer to his chest.

They’ll be fine for a bit longer, Steve decides.

Steve collects all the empty, and unfortunately not-so-empty, bottles around the floor in a garbage bag, and leaves it in the kitchen. As soon as Steve steps out of the kitchen, a rumbling sound startles him and ends his internal rant of why do I associate with these people again? Oh yeah, to save the world.

Natasha is gone, and Clint is slumped against the bannister, snoring silently, a band between his thumb and index. Thor is carrying Bruce away like a prized maiden, and Steve realizes that the rumbling sound came from Bruce when Thor smacks his ass (again) to make sure he doesn’t fall asleep. Clint wakes up just in time to see the two men pass near him, reaching out to pinch the naked skin but failing.

Everything else seems to be in order, so Steve dashes up the steps, takes the increasingly saucy archer by the arm, and carries him down to his bedroom.

 

---

 

Originally intending to drop Clint off like he did with Phil, Steve is hit with a sudden intriguing thought: he’s never been in Clint’s bedroom, and he may not get a chance to again (since it’s usually locked and empty).

Steve puts Clint atop his blanket, and takes in the surroundings while Clint settles in.

It’s inordinately clean, even for Steve who was complimented in the army for his tidy room. There’s not a single speck of dust, there’s nothing out of place in the shelves, the clothing in his closet is almost colour coordinated, and his weapons are all safely hidden behind a glass door requiring a pin to gain access. It’s shockingly organized, almost as though no-one lives here. And, all things considered, Steve really doesn’t think Clint ever stays in his bedroom.

“Do you want me to take out some things for you to sleep in?”

Clint grunts in response, and it vaguely sounds like ‘yeah’.

There’s a wooden dresser next to Clint’s closet, and Steve slides open the first drawer to find….arrows? Usually the top drawer is for socks and underwear, but okay. The next drawer has socks and underwear – still in their packaging – so Steve knows he’s getting closer. Bending and pulling the bottom drawer out, Steve isn’t aware of the silent assassin’s movements until Clint’s reaching out to touch Steve’s ass.

“Whoa.” Steve pushes Clint back with one arm, holding a t-shirt and pants in the other. “I think you’ve had a bit too much to drink.”

“You’re the one showing off your goods like a tease and not letting anyone touch.” Clint chuckles, his gaze raking down Steve’s torso and stopping at his crotch. “Except maybe Natasha.”

“My eyes are up here, Clint,” Steve says firmly, but still blushing.

“I always wondered how you fit into that suit. The old one was already tight, but this new one is pretty much painted on.” Clint sways on his feet, so Steve holds him by his shoulder. “How do you get in it?”

“Do I have to answer?” Steve utters, lips curling at one side. Clint may be a lot of things, but he’s also amusing.

“We can play the question game if you want it to be fair,” Clint slurs. “I just need to sit down first.”

Steve helps Clint back over to the bed, and puts the change of clothes on his lap. “I use a lot of powder.”

Clint barks out a laugh that makes Steve’s shoulders jump. “I wasn’t serious about that, but thanks for answering. Your turn.”

“Why do you spend so much time high up?” Steve rubs his knees nervously. He didn’t mean to end up sitting on Clint’s bed, let alone be in his room for so long.

“So I can see everything.” Clint closes an eye, scrunching up his nose like he’s tasted something bitter. “Don’t ever trust Thor to make you a mixed drink by the way.”  He clicks his tongue. “Okay, my turn. Have you ever done it with a man?”

Steve frowns; does everything have to be about sex with Clint? “No. And before you ask, yes Phil was the first man I kissed.” He crosses his arms. “How often do you sleep on the roof?”

Sighing, Clint rubs his head. “I don’t like your questions, Cap.” He turns to look at the wall. “Maybe four or five times per week.”

“You’re going to get sick from it one day. You should take better care of yours--”

“Yeah, yeah. Okay. Would you have sex with a man?” Clint raises a brow, crossing his arms to mirror Steve.

“Why are your questions always about that? Are you trying to hint at something?” Steve’s brow creases.

“You need to answer before you can ask a question, Cap.”

“Fine. Yes, if I liked the person I would.” Steve looks down at his feet on the floor, wondering how he can still feel so small despite the strength the serum has granted him.  “Are you trying to say that I’m in denial about being gay?”

Clint laughs, throwing his head back. “Oh, man. You old time guys were really oblivious.” Clint bumps Steve’s shoulder with his own. “No, Cap, I’m not trying to make you realize you’re in the closet. I’m trying to make you see that I want to get in your pants that are way too tight to be fair.”

Steve sucks in a breath when Clint’s hand finds his crotch and squeezes. “Oh,” Steve croaks, the word coming out ten octaves too high. “But you’re not gay, are you?”

Rolling his eyes, Clint leans in close. “I’m the straightest one in this tower, Cap. I just like to touch pretty things. Now, are you going to let me or do I have to answer 21 more questions?”

“Can’t we…do both?” Steve murmurs coyly in reply. It’s the best smartass answer he can come up with while a hand is stroking him through his pants.

“Sure,” Clint whispers in Steve’s ear. “But all of this stays between us. Okay?”

Steve bites his lip, nodding. “You have my word.” And how Steve ended up in a situation like this again, he’ll never know.

“Good, ‘cause the whole house doesn’t need to know about Captain America topping me.” He grumbles in frustration. “I probably should have deactivated Jarvis in this room, huh?”

“Yeah.”

“Fuck, I’m too drunk for this.”

“Then we can just--”

“No way! You’re in my bed, you’re hot, and I can feel your dick getting hard in my hand. Three great things at once. Jarvis, shut off temporarily.”

“I was so looking forward to telling Tony all the details, but as you wish,” is Jarvis’s witty retort.

“He’s way too human for his own good,” Clint snaps.

 

---

 

Nothing is really happening. Not in the sense of let’s pretend it didn’t happen, but in the actual not occurring kind of way.

Clint is too tired, too drunk, seeing double and groping air when he can’t find the real Steve. Steve tries to help by giving him directions, but most of the time Clint is yawning too loud to hear them. Eventually, Clint is naked, and so is Steve – no thanks to the sleepy archer – but his eyes keep closing when Steve tries to ask what he has to do next. How could Steve do it by himself? He hardly even knows what he’s doing with women yet.

Steve feels bad after one of Clint’s many jaw-breaking yawns, and decides to give sleazy Clint a present: a blowjob. (Or is it called fellating someone? Steve will never be good with all the sex terms.) Maybe that could kick Clint’s body back into sobriety.

Clint’s stretched out on his back, Steve seated between his spread legs, rubbing up and down the surprisingly soft, bare thighs. Clint grunts, cracking an eye open long enough to see Steve’s nerves getting the best of him.

“Are you actually gonna do what I think you are?” he says, voice deep with long-needed sleep. “’Cause if you are, I would like to say this before I pass out: I fuckin’ love you.”

Flushing as easily as ever, Steve just nods in response, bending down, and breathing hot against the stiffening erection. Clint’s hips jerk at that, automatically searching for the source of pleasure. Steve looks up at Clint; he’s stretching out, his arms folded behind his head smugly. He’s definitely aware of what he’s doing.

A lick to start is what Steve does, Clint showing his approval in the form of a hungry growl. It’s a nice sound. It’s sexy and just loud enough for Steve to enjoy. Steve licks again, this time peering into Clint’s hazy eyes for his reaction. Clint reaches behind himself, grabbing at the headboard of his bed, thrusting his hips closer to Steve’s tongue.

“Keep going, Cap.” He rumbles out, eyes screwing shut when Steve obliges, tongue swirling over the head of Clint’s length with purpose.

“Like that?” Steve asks, lapping his tongue across the slit at the top, something bitter covering his taste buds.

Clint gasps, the muscles in his chest, arms, shoulders flexing all in tandem, so perfectly tense and defined that Steve has to do it again, so he can sear the image into his mind and draw it later. Clint’s toes curl when Steve decides to add some pressure with his tongue, curling it into the slit, and continuing to watch in case he does something wrong.

If Steve can’t be the best, he’s going to avoid being the worst at least.

Rubbing the inside of Clint’s thighs with his thumbs, Steve starts to get courageous – at least according to his standards – and takes the head of Clint’s erection between his lips, sucking just enough to feel for a response. Hands soar from the headboard to Steve’s hair in a second, tugging and tangling in blond strands, hips shooting up to push through the warm heat of Steve’s mouth.

Well, that’s one way of saying you like something.

Steve pulls back to lick his lips, stealing the taste of salt and bitterness. Not a bad combination. Clint’s lids are drooping – he’s clearly fighting to stay conscious at this point – and Steve really wants him to have this before he passes out, so he gets to work.

He sucks, and swallows as much of Clint as he can, choking on it at one point, but that only seems to make Clint’s experience better, his thighs spreading wider to accommodate Steve’s large frame. Steve grips the base of Clint’s length, rubbing up and down while swallowing a bit less than previously. His throat’s burning from that last attempt.

Clint’s body is covered in a sheen of sweat when Steve gingerly touches his sac. It interested him because the rest of Clint is so hairy, and down there everything is as bare as a newborn baby. Perhaps he planned to seduce Steve and wanted it to look appealing – which it is.

In fact, Steve is so distracted by wanting to remember how thick Clint’s shaft is, how swollen the head is, how much slick is dripping from the top and onto his tongue, and how his balls are recoiling and tightening that Clint’s orgasm takes him by surprise.

Shouting his one-word praise of Captain, Clint sputters white across Steve’s lips, over his chin and down the hand still gripping the base of Clint’s cock. As much as Steve intended to keep it all a secret, the whole house probably knows what’s going on now. So much for a little discretion.

Steve tastes the bit of come on his lips, but it’s a bit too foreign for his liking. He looks up to ask Clint for a tissue, but he’s already passed out, his shoulders hunched and his mouth wide open.

Sneaking out like an adulterer, which isn’t what he’d hoped for himself, Steve rushes down the hall and up the stairs to his room before one of his drunken (and possibly still conscious) roommates catch him looking unraveled in the worst kind of way.

Steve is in front of his door when Natasha says, “I see he finally got to you. How was it?”

He rushes into his bedroom, pretending he didn’t hear a thing.

 

~*~*~

 

Luckily for Steve – and unluckily for everyone else – the house is filled with people who have hangovers, and they can’t remember exactly what happened the day before. Clint is included in the group of people who kind-of-sort-of-almost-remember-something-but-not-quite. Luckily for Steve, again, Clint had turned off Jarvis in his room before…well, before Steve did that thing to him. There’d be no security footage for Clint to watch.

Steve is on an armchair, enjoying a fresh cup of coffee, internally laughing at the bewildered looks on both Thor and Bruce’s faces; they very clearly can’t remember what happened the night before. Steve finds it fascinating that the Hulk can’t get drunk, but once Bruce changes back, all the alcohol seems to attack his smaller body.

Clint is walking around, pacing actually, a dish of French toast in his palm, and wearing black sunglasses that could block out the sun at close range. Natasha is standing with her back against the wall, watching Clint pace, a knowing grin on her lips when she glances over at Steve.

Steve’s eyes widen, and she shakes her head ever so slightly, putting a finger up to her lips. Seems his secret is still safe for a while.

Phil shuffles up the stairs, ignores everyone while holding his head, makes a strong, black coffee, and goes back down to his floor.

“I see everyone is drinking coffee this morning. Shall I make another pot?” Jarvis offers. And if Steve didn’t know any better, he’d think the AI was trying to piss everyone off with his gleeful tone. Then again, he was made by Tony…

Tony doesn’t make an appearance, but from the lack of screaming and items being thrown, Steve predicts they’ve already settled on a decision. No-one goes up to ask if everything’s all right, not wanting to disturb in case they’re still arguing or angry. Natasha seems somewhat guilt-ridden when she goes down to the gym, so Clint follows her. Steve puts on a silent film, and Thor and Bruce watch it with him, needing some of the peaceful atmosphere.

The penthouse elevator dings, and all three men stop breathing at the same time.

“Pepper, come on,” Tony begs. “I was drunk. I didn’t know what I was doing. I need you, Pep.”

“No, you need a CEO,” Pepper snaps. “We’ve been through this. You don’t love me, and I haven’t been in love with you for a while. I’ve been trying, but this is it Tony. This is where we end.”

Tony grabs her suitcase, at the top of the stairs, not letting her go any further.  “You can’t go. I don’t function without you. The company will crumble, and the Avengers here will be on the street begging for money like homeless people. Is that what you want?”

Pepper shoots him a glare.

“Okay, I’m sorry. I’ll be serious.” Tony lets go of her suitcase. “Just, will you reconsider? At least stay in the tower with us. You don’t have to talk to me if you don’t want to.”

She seems contemplative at that. She looks down at the three heads staring straight through the television, trying to make themselves invisible to the current situation. They may still need protection from Tony yet.

“Fine. I’m staying in the room next to Steve’s. But you better not send me anything. And especially not strawberries, Tony!”

 

~*~*~

 

Most of the Avengers avoid Pepper, especially Tony and Natasha who seem to avoid the very air surrounding her. Steve, on the other hand, never knows what’s good for him. And, he feels partly to blame for letting her find out the way she did. He could have taken Pepper aside or broken up Tony and Natasha before she saw. Steve’s never experienced what Pepper has – catching your partner in the act with someone else – but he can sympathize all the same.

It’s while returning from a nightly jog that he hears Pepper sniffling in her room. When he knocks softly to see if she’s all right, she shouts Get away from my door, Tony before she even knows who it is, and it eviscerates what little courage Steve had built up.

He manages to squeak out, “Sorry. I’ll be next door if you need me, Pepper.”

Pepper grumbles when something heavy falls and rolls across the carpet. “Steve? No, it’s okay. You can come in.”

So he does. And boy does he wish he hadn’t.

Pepper is seated crossed-legged on her bed in a pinstripe skirt and white blouse, a new bottle of tequila in her hand and a half-empty one lying on her carpeted floor. She smiles when Steve shuts the door behind himself, leaning against it.

“Have a seat, Cap. Sorry, I mean Steve. I can call you Steve, right? Sorry, rambling.” Pepper snorts, twisting the bottle of tequila open and taking a long gulp.

Steve looks around, noticing there aren’t any chairs. He’s about to sit on the floor when she taps the bed twice, so he sits next to her, facing the door where he came from (wishing he hadn’t come in while she’s drunk). Does everyone in the tower use alcohol to deal with their problems?

Pepper nudges him with the bottle, and he turns to look at her. She’s smiling, but it doesn’t quite make it to her eyes. Steve gives her one in return, taking a small swig from the tequila; it’s not like he can even get drunk anymore.

“How are you doing, Pepper?” Steve hands her back the bottle, trying to keep his concerned look reined in. A lot of people seem to think it means he pities them rather than what it’s meant to be: worry.

“I’ve been better. Glad that I’m not alone anymore, though.”

Pepper’s smile does reach her eyes this time, and it makes some of the tension ease out of Steve’s shoulders. It’s always easier to help someone when they allow you to. She takes a longer gulp of tequila and seals the bottle.

“You’re sweaty. Been jogging again?”

“Oh, sorry,” Steve replies, looking down at his t-shirt sticking to his chest.

He tries to stand to avoid ruining her clean bedding, but she stops him with a hand on his shoulder.

“It’s okay, Steve. I was just making small talk. Sit back down,” Pepper explains, reopening the bottle and chuckling softly around the next gulp of alcohol. She tips the bottle towards Steve, her arm brushing against his slightly. Her skin is surprisingly cool.

“So…” Steve grasps for something to talk about, but all they really have in common is Tony. He really needs to find out more about Pepper.

Pepper huffs, bumping Steve gently. “Let’s not talk about him, okay? People pay him enough attention as it is.”

She uncrosses her legs and hangs them off the bed, curling her painted toenails in the carpet. Steve finds himself focusing on them; the crimson nail polish is such a bright, charming colour.

“You like my feet?” Pepper snorts, tilting her head back with a longer drink of tequila. “I don’t like them that much, that’s why I paint my nails.”

“They’re nice feet. I’m sure they work swell, too,” Steve says, smiling.

Pepper laughs at that, loud and fulfilling for both of them. “I like you, Steve.”

Steve chuckles, looking down at his pants to hide his never-ending blush from her. “I like you, too.”

Finally putting the cap back on, Steve looks over at Pepper, gripping his pants when he sees the way she’s watching him. She tilts her head, dragging her eyes from Steve’s face down to his chest where he feels sweat cooling and making his skin feel chilled, down to his jogging pants that he’s holding onto for dear life.

“You shouldn’t be so nervous. Me and him are already broken up,” she murmurs, eyes trailing back up. “He got to test out his crush, shouldn’t I get to try out mine?”

Steve’s brows raise, his mouth drier than desert sand. “W-what?”

“For someone so attractive, you sure have a hard time thinking anyone would like you.”

Pepper cuts off Steve’s next words with a tongue in his mouth, her hands wrapping around his shoulders, climbing onto his lap with a bit less finesse than she would have sober. Steve lets her tongue curl against his, his hands on her hips to keep her from falling over, red hair tickling his cheeks when she turns her face to lick further inside his mouth. She moans when Steve finally responds to her advances, a strong hand stroking up and down her back slowly.

“Pepper—”

“Mmm. Not now, Steve. Wanna—”

Sucking on Steve’s tongue, Pepper makes him moan heartily. Steve’s already feeling himself harden in his pants. This is going down a road he’s been on a few times now, but he knows what this is really about.

“Wait, Pepper—”

“Why!? Why can’t I have a piece of my cake, too? You know he would love to get in your pants the way I’m about to. He would just make sure he’s drunk when it happens so that he couldn’t be blamed for it the next day.”

Steve blinks, pulling back to let the words seep in. Tony’s actually the one who has a crush on him? Or did they both have a crush on him?

“I said we weren’t going to talk about Tony, didn’t I? Broke my own promise.” Pepper reaches for the bottle of tequila, but Steve takes it away, moving her out of his lap at the same time.

“We need to talk about you, Pepper,” Steve says, his brow creasing. “I’m worried. You’re usually a strong, level-headed woman.”

Pepper sighs, nodding. “You’re right.” She laughs, a tinge of irony to it. “I guess this is how Tony feels whenever I bring him back down to earth.”

Steve chuckles softly. “Probably.”

“There I go talking about Tony again.”

Steve rubs her arm, pulling her to lean against his side. “It’s okay to miss him, you know. I’m sure he misses you even more. Just don’t do anything because you think it will hurt him. That’ll only hurt you in the end.”

Pepper frowns, putting her head under his chin, curling her arms around his broad chest. “Why are you so good with people?” She yawns. “I wasn’t lying about having a crush on you, Steve.”

Steve feels her arms squeezing him, needing to be closer than they are, but not attaining that perfect level. “I’m sorry, Pepper,” he whispers, knowing he’s not the one she wants to be holding right now.

“Thanks, Cap,” she mutters, rubbing her forehead against Steve’s chest, drifting off to sleep moments later.

Steve tucks her in, takes all the bottles away, and shuts the lights before wishing her sweet dreams in a quiet whisper.

 

~*~*~

 

Needing a change of scenery – he’s always in his room, being harassed by Tony, in the gym or in the common room – and wanting to find out a bit more about the soft-spoken Dr. Banner, Steve follows him to his lab one day – with permission of course.

Bruce is mixing a strange purple liquid with a clear one in a test tube, and that is the full extent of Steve’s understanding. He lost track of which chemical was which, and has what reaction to what, ten minutes ago. When Bruce looks up from measuring each liquid, he laughs. He combs his fingers through his hair when the tube is securely placed over a flickering blue flame.

“Sorry, sometimes I forget that not everyone is a scientist.” If he were Tony that would be condescending, but knowing Bruce, and how much of a humanitarian he is, Steve can tell he’s being genuine.

“Don’t worry, Dr. Banner,” Steve replies. “I was never very good at chemistry.”

“Bruce,” Bruce says, leaning an arm on his desk. “Just because I have a Ph.D. doesn’t mean I want to be reminded of the years I lost earning it.” He smirks.

Steve finds himself grinning in turn. The doctor – Bruce – is a funny man; he’s really witty, and not in a put-everyone-down kind of way either.

A timer goes off and Bruce looks down at his, now red, concoction swirling in the tube. Steve frowns at the experiment, not sure if observers are meant to watch so closely, and if he’s distracting Bruce by being in his personal lab.

“Should I go? I mean—”

“No, no. Actually, I think it’s safer for everyone if you stay here.” He continues with an almost deathly serious tone. “If I start to change, there’s a trap door Tony built for me that’s strong enough to keep the Hulk – or whatever else I may turn into – contained.” He points to a switch on the desk. “Just press this and the place under where I’m standing now will slide open. Okay?”

Steve swallows, but nods once. “I understand.”

“Okay.”

Bruce takes the tube away from the fire, pouring it into a small container surrounded by ice. Once he’s satisfied that the liquid is chilled enough, he takes a syringe and draws some of it inside. He looks around the lab, and points next to where Steve, frozen with fear, is standing. (The Hulk really isn’t a creature Steve ever, ever feels prepared to face.)

“Hand me that rubber strip, please.”

“Sure.” Steve subconsciously moves away again once Bruce has what he needed.

“That scared already? We should really spend more time together, Steve.”

Steve sighs. “Yeah.”

“Don’t worry. Tony’s not good at much, but I guarantee this trap door will work.” He smiles, as he injects the liquid into his arm.

“What is this supposed to do again?”

Bruce winces when it reaches his blood stream. “Make the other guy easier to handle, more human.”

“I see.” Steve is already bracing himself, and he feels bad about it because Bruce looks like he’s in serious pain. “Are you okay? Bruce?”

Bruce falls forward, leaning his elbows on the table, shouting, and Steve is struck with two choices: he can either wait a bit longer and try to help Bruce or he can press the button, assuming that Hulk is trying to break free. Either way, Steve is risking something, and the odds seem to be against him.

“Bruce? Bruce, are you all right? What should I do?”

“Something’s wrong…” Bruce grits out, gripping the table so tight his knuckles whiten.

“Do I have to press the button?” Steve asks, but Bruce screams in agony, falling to the floor.

Steve rushes around to his side, forgetting about Hulk, his safety and the Avengers’ as well. He kneels down beside Bruce. He’s curled in on himself, shaking like a leaf, and Steve really is at a loss for what to do next. This is an unexpected result for both of them. What is he supposed to do if Bruce is dying?

Bruce whimpers, his eyes opening slowly. He uncurls himself, sitting up best he can. Steve keeps a hand on his back, holding him upright. “Are you okay? What happened?”

“I don’t think it worked.” Bruce holds his head, his body swaying to one side. “I feel dizzy, and…the anger is gone.”

“Gone? What do you mean gone?” Steve says, incredulous.

Bruce looks up at Steve, eyes wide. “I can’t feel the Hulk anywhere. Maybe he’s been subdued. Maybe I expelled him. I’m not sure.” He looks broken up over the confusion, more than Steve ever expected he would, considering the beast had made Bruce suicidal at one point.

“Can you stand? Should I get Tony?”

“No, it’s okay. I’m okay,” Bruce reassures Steve. He tries to stand but his legs are shaky and he falls against Steve. “Okay, maybe I need help standing.”

“I should call Tony,” Steve says, authoritative tone back.

“Please don’t. We both know he’s still upset about Pepper. This would just worry him more,” Bruce pleads. “Besides, this was just a small dose. Maybe the effects are only temporary. I just need to wait until it’s out of my system.”

Steve frowns, sighing. “Fine. But if I see you getting worse, Tony is going to have to get involved.”

“Fair enough.” Bruce nods. “Help me up now?”

 

---

 

Once out of the lab, the tower is surprisingly quiet. Bruce has an arm around Steve’s waist, and he squeezes to get his attention.

“Where’s everyone? Did a fire alarm go off or something while we were down there?”

Steve thinks about it for a moment, but Jarvis answers instead.

“The other Avengers have all gone on personal errands and the like. Would you like me to request their return?


Steve chuckles softly, shaking his head. “No, that’s fine. Thanks.” Bruce startles when something crashes in a room nearby, but Steve has an idea of who it is.

“Thor, however, is in his bedroom if you wish to speak with him,” Jarvis adds helpfully.

“I think he’s been avoiding me recently,” Bruce whispers to Steve.

A flashback of Thor smacking Bruce’s ass comes to mind. Yeah, Steve would be feeling pretty pathetic if he acted like that, too. Thor is a respectable god, most of the time, but it seems alcohol can bring out the worst in practically anyone.

“Maybe he’s just trying to figure out a way to approach you. You’re not the easiest guy to be friends with.” There, Steve’s said it, and it’s come out all wrong. “I mean – that’s not what I meant – ”

“I’m always hiding. I know what you mean, Steve.” Bruce smiles wryly, looking down. “I’m just worried that one day a switch inside me will turn on, and I won’t be able to stop the Hulk from coming out. I want to control it, keep you all away from the risk.”

Steve never thought Bruce was just as afraid of Hulk as he is. The only ones in the tower who seem completely unafraid of a sudden transformation is Thor, because he can handle Hulk, and Tony, because he’s batshit crazy. (And possibly has a death wish, but Steve needs to further investigate that.)

“Well you could use this chance to do something positive,” Steve utters while helping Bruce over to the living room couch. “You said that it blocks your changing, right? So you don’t have to worry about hurting anyone. And it’s better if you stay around while you’re still recovering.”

One side of Bruce’s mouth lifts, a knowing look in his eyes. “Aren’t you afraid of the big guy? I mean I don’t blame you, but you don’t usually suggest I stay in the common areas.”

“You’re not usually dizzy and falling over either,” Steve retorts. He can’t let Bruce feel unwelcome when, in fact, Steve has been spending much of his time considering how to overcome his fear. The perfect opportunity has just presented itself.

“That is true.” Bruce smiles, crossing his hands on his lap. “So deep down I guess you’re a mother hen.”

Steve shrugs a shoulder, taking a seat next to Bruce. “I just want to make sure you’re going to be okay.”

“I’ll be fine, Steve.” Bruce pats Steve’s knee gently. “After some rest.”

“Should I have brought you to your room?”

Bruce tips his head, considering if he’d rather watch TV or take a nap. “No, I’m good. There’s a movie I’ve been wanting to watch. Are you free?”

“To watch it with you?” Steve smiles. “I have to keep an eye on you, anyway.”

“That’s right. I almost forgot.” Bruce grins, reaching for the remote. “I hope you have your thinking cap on. I heard Inception is a challenging film to understand.”

“Always do.” Steve stretches out his legs. “Should I make us popcorn or something? Do you need something to drink?”

Bruce laughs, tucking his glasses in his pocket. “No thanks, mom. Just get comfortable. I’m not going to explode or anything.”

 

---

 

“So…what did we just watch?” Steve says at the end of the film. “Was it all a dream the entire time? Or did he wake up and have a happy ending? I’m lost.”

Bruce laughs louder than Steve’s ever heard him, and takes offense at knowing it’s because of his confusion. He frowns and Bruce puts an arm around his shoulder.

“Don’t get upset, Steve. I’m laughing because I got lost somewhere around the third level of dreams. You did better than me.” Bruce glances at his watch. “Hungry? I could make us some supper.”

“Are you all right to stand now? I can help if you like, though I’m not very good at cooking.”

“An assistant doesn’t need to do much, so sure you can help.”

Bruce gets up slowly, humming contentedly when he realizes that the world isn’t spinning out of control anymore. That’s definitely a plus, even if he still can’t feel the green guy under his skin anymore.

 

---

 

After considering how much to make, they decided three portions – Thor’s being the largest, evidently – would be enough since they didn’t know when the team would be returning. They sometimes leave on solo missions for days at a time.

Steve chops the carrots, peels the potatoes, and passes Bruce the seasonings for their homemade stew, but the rest is all in the scientist-turned-chef’s care. He looks just as much a scientist when measuring chicken broth as he did measuring gene-modifying solutions back in the lab.

When it’s done, Steve makes them each a plate and Bruce sets the table. And then they eat, comfortable enough with each other and with how the day went to stay in congenial silence. Thor, on the other hand, is never as quiet as them. Or maybe just never quiet, full-stop.

“Which of you has prepared this feast tonight?” His voice booms as he sniffs inside the pot.

Bruce grins. “It was all Steve over here, Thor.”

Steve chokes on the potato he’s chewing. He shakes his head, flailing his arms when Thor offers to dislodge the food by means of pounding his back.

“But I’ve seen many Midgardians doing the same to their children, why do you refuse me the honour Steven?”

Bruce laughs, not looking up at Steve for fear of being scolded like the rebellious child he’s being. “It was actually me, Thor. And help yourself, the rest is for you.”

Thor’s face lights up, all crinkled skin around his eyes and laugh lines around his mouth. “Are you certain it is all right? I did not mean to impose on your time together.”

Before Steve can stand and place a mat down for Thor, a heavy hand lands on his shoulder. “Bannerson is a fine choice, Steven. May the rest of your meal be pleasant and fulfilling!”

Steve doesn’t realize he’s gaping until Bruce leans over and pushes his jaw up for him. Taking the pot and a large spoon, Thor leaves the kitchen and returns to his room after giving Bruce a polite nod. They really need to talk about what happened when they were drunk, Steve thinks.

“Apparently you’re courting me,” Bruce states, laughing into his bowl. “I thought maybe the one cooking would be, but I guess I was wrong.”

Steve’s eyebrows shoot to outer space. Is there something he missed? “Are you – are we – is this – ”

“I’m just bugging you, Steve. Don’t worry. Breathe or you might be the one who turns green one day.” Bruce laughs when Steve’s face is burning with embarrassment. “Or red. It seems to suit you better.”

Steve shakes his head. “For someone who doesn’t talk a lot, you sure have some surprising things to say when you do.”

“Thanks?” Bruce chuckles, leaning back in his chair. “So what are we doin—”

“Eye of Hawk, Lady Widow and Philippe! You are looking well. I take it your personal errands have been completed without difficulty. Where is Starkson?”

“Guess the team’s back,” Steve mutters as he leaves the table to put his bowl in the dishwasher. “We should probably clean up before –”

“Hey! What gives, guys?” Clint says, crossing his arms. “We leave on a teeny, tiny mission and you two are already going domestic on us?”

Bruce looks over at Steve, who refuses to show them how flushed his face is, pretending to wash his hands in the sink.

Natasha shoves Clint out of the doorway, stepping into the kitchen. “And you didn’t bother leaving any for us. That’s cold, Steve.”

A shudder runs down Steve’s spine at the accusation, making Clint and Natasha laugh at their forever innocent leader. It’s hard enough to face Natasha when she’s alone, but with Clint at her side they’re like an unstoppable force. He sighs. The evening was going so well, too.

Bruce stands, bumping Steve’s shoulder with his own before putting his utensils with Steve’s.

“We didn’t know when you’d be coming back. Right, Steve?”

Steve looks over at Bruce; Bruce’s eyes show nothing but compassion, something about him almost painfully similar to Bucky. Why do the Avengers remind him of so many people from his past? Steve nods, looking over his shoulder at the terrible two.

“Sometimes you leave for a week without so much as a note,” Steve explains. “We didn’t want this to go to waste.”

Natasha rolls her eyes. “Way to ruin our fun, Captain.”

Clint snorts. “Seriously, you had to get all stern on us and stop the roll we were on.”

Steve’s brow creases. Natasha shoves Clint again, calling out as she leaves, “We’re just teasing you, Captain. It’s so fun to see you blush.” Clint waves as he follows her out, discussing their take-out options as he goes.

Bruce pats Steve’s shoulder before saying, “I’ll be in my room if you need me.”

Steve watches Bruce saunter out, dragging his feet slightly, and Steve can’t help but worry about leaving him alone. Phil creeps into the kitchen for a snack, but rushes back out when he notices Steve’s by himself.

“Wait—” Steve calls after Phil.

It’s going to be a long, restless night.

 

---

 

Steve falls asleep in Bruce’s room during the night, and wakes up with a crick in his neck. When he leaves to shower and make some breakfast, Clint is at the top of the stairs, narrowing his eyes like something disturbing just happened.

“You’re really doing the dirty with him? Him?! Of all the people in the tower, you pick the one who could literally rip you apart?” Clint laughs, but it’s dry, harsh. He sounds somehow…jealous.

“We didn’t do anything, I was looking after him. He wasn’t feeling well yesterday. I just happened to fall asleep.” Steve sighs when Clint raises an eyebrow in disbelief. “I’m serious, Clint. Ask Jarvis if you don’t believe me.”

“He is correct, sir. I can pull up the video and audio recording from last night if you need further proof,” Jarvis chimes in.

“Okay, fine.” Clint flicks a rubber band that Steve dodges easily. “But I’m watching you, Cap. We can’t have you becoming all sleazy like Stark. It’s bad enough he’s always around you. Your our American poster boy, no-one will support us if they think we’re all like bad boy Tony upstairs.”

“I’m sure that’s why this is bothering you,” Steve mutters.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Steve answers quickly. “I’m going to take a shower now.”

“And wash away the evidence,” Clint murmurs, shaking his head.

“Hmm?”

“Nothing at all, Cap. See you later.”

 

~*~*~

 

Bruce doesn’t seem himself that night or the next, so Steve continues to stay by his side in case any of the effects worsen or change. Fully capable of monitoring his own heart rate, his breathing, his temperature, Bruce insists that Steve go do something fun and stop worrying so much. But as the leader of the Avengers, that’s just not how Steve is programmed. He’s worried, more than he expected he would be, and he doesn’t care if Hulk suddenly shows up during the night and smashes him, because at least that would be normal, expected.

The drowsiness and perpetual calmness surrounding Bruce is more disturbing than the monster he hides deep down. Steve has a feeling Bruce misses his alter ego as well.

“You should at least do something productive. Watching me sleep isn’t going to get me better, Steve.” Bruce fixes the pillow behind him, tugging his blanket up to his chest.

“What if-” Steve takes a breath, for courage. “-I ask you about some medical things?”

Bruce smirks, folding his hands on his lap. “Is this what I think it is?”

“Depends on what you think it is?” Steve’s brow furrows, already regretting having mentioned that.

“Is this about the box of tricks Tony got you? Cause if it is, yes I can help.” Bruce smiles, genuine and charming, and all the things that make people forget the Hulk even exists.

“It may be,” Steve says, clenching and unclenching his fists. “I don’t know what most those things are…”

“That’s normal. Most people don’t. Tony isn’t exactly a regular guy, I’m sure you know.” Bruce sits up, taking his glasses from the night stand. “Do you have them with you or do you know what you want to ask by memory?”

“I have it with me,” Steve replies, reaching for the box. “You’re okay with this? I’m not going to make you uncomfortable?”

“I’m certainly not a general practitioner, but I know a few things about the human anatomy. Sex is a normal part of life. This could be good practice for if I have kids one day.” Bruce smirks and Steve nearly crushes the box unconsciously. “I think you’re the one who might be uncomfortable with this situation.”

Steve nods, lips fighting off a smile and losing. “Yeah. Might as well learn from someone I trust at least.”

And that’s how their nightly intercourse conversations start. It’s the beginning of something shockingly…entertaining.

 

~*~*~

 

“This one says it’s ribbed,” Steve reads aloud. “Does that mean it’s more pleasurable for the woman?”

“Show me the box,” Bruce says, gesturing for it from his bed. His legs are stretched out and Steve is at the end of the bed, right next to Bruce’s socked feet. He hands him the yellow box. “It says it’s ribbed at the base and tip. That means you both – uh – feel it.” Bruce knows how nervous Steve gets with explicit descriptions.

“I’ll use my imagination, I guess.” Steve reaches for another set. “What’s the difference between ribbed and studded?”

“More pleasure with studded.” Bruce clears his throat. “I mean it’s more upraised, and usually it’s pre-lubricated.”

Steve frowns, but takes out another packet. “Climax control? That sounds painful.”

“It’s not. There’s an anaesthetic agent at the tip that seeps into the erection during intercourse and, well, you can’t climax as quickly.”

Reading the packet carefully, Steve turns to look at Bruce. “You almost quoted it word for word.”

“I was bored in med school,” Bruce answers simply. “After studying eighteen hours straight, your mind goes to odd places. The internet is a treasure chest of useless facts. But right now, you’re proving that my knowledge isn’t that useless after all.”

“Guess not.” Steve chuckles. “That doesn’t make me want to use the Mac Tony bought me, though.”

“I’ll show you the good stuff online one day. So, what’s next?” Bruce grins, leaning closer to peek inside the box.

 

~*~*~

 

And the next night—

 

“This is the last one.” Steve’s eyes widen. “Why does it say it’s flavoured? Do I want to know?”

Bruce, having spent hours the previous night explaining ways to please a partner, how to delay orgasms, the types of sexual relations and even some basic positions, really isn’t afraid to say anything at this point.

“That would be for oral sex. If a woman or man is performing fellatio on their partner, and if they are using a condom, then flavoured is usually a better choice. The taste of regular condoms is god-awful and I really don’t suggest you try it.” He pauses then adds, “There are a ton of flavours available: bubble-gum, lollipop, fruit, chocolate, you name it.”

Steve swallows around his nerves, trying to process all that. He nods slowly. “I’ll take your word for it, doctor.”

“I guess I’ll let that slide since we’re talking about sex.” Bruce smirks. “So anything else you wanna know? Or are you an expert now?”

“I’m far from being an expert, and I’m sure there’s a lot more I may need to know, but I wouldn’t know where to start.” Steve feels his skin burning up at the thought of the ‘new world’ and how prominent sex is in society nowadays. He really needs to catch up so he doesn’t seem so much like a man out of time, which he is.

“Pick a topic, and we’ll go from there. Unless you want to stop?” Bruce watches him with intensity, looking for any sign of discomfort. Maybe he’s pushed too far? Steve isn’t from this decade; this isn’t how they behaved back then.

“P-positions,” Steve stutters out promptly. “You mentioned something about Karma sutra?”

Kama sutra – good choice. I’d say that’s the classier side of sex.” Bruce beams at Steve, taking his glasses off. “We might need the internet for this one. I don’t have a book on hand about that. Do you mind handing me my iPad?”

Steve tilts his head.

“The touch screen that Tony gave to all of us on his birthday, and that Thor broke five minutes later.”

“Oh.” Steve reaches for it. “That’s what it’s called? Strange.”

Bruce laughs softly. “Okay. So there are 36 chapters, and despite people thinking it’s a book strictly about positions, there’s actually a lot more to it. It’s about mutual understanding of pleasure, love and family. It’s kind of like a guide to having really good sex with the person you love the most in the world.”

Steve considers that a moment. “That actually sounds like a really interesting book. Would the library have it?”

“I’m thinking yes, but I could save you time by sending you this website.” Bruce smiles. “But let’s get to your question: positions.”

Steve gulps, but manages not to flush for once.

“According to this source, there are 64 positions. I’m not sure if you want to go through all of them, since most of them are similar, but you can tell me to stop if it’s too much.” Bruce looks over his glasses at Steve.

“Okay,” Steve breathes out, fiddling with the strings of his jogging pants.

“Just scream if you have to,” Bruce teases. “I won’t take offence.”

Steve scratches at the nape of his neck, looking away. “I’m fine. I like how you explain things. It would probably be worse with someone else.”

“Glad to be of help.” Bruce dips his head. “Okay. Number one is called Greyhound. And it requires the person being penetrated to be on all fours while their partner is kneeling behind them…”

 

 

~*~*~

 

It’s been a week, and Bruce is doing much better – the complications having long faded and Hulk’s presence returned – but their nightly discussions of a sexual nature haven’t stopped. They’ve simply changed their meeting place.

Bruce is working on his previous formula, lowering the dosage of this solvent, tweaking the amount of that chemical, and Steve is seated nearby, out of the way. They’re on position 35 of the Kama sutra – getting off track a few times in the past week by Bruce’s personal anecdotes that Steve enjoyed perhaps too much – and eating Indian food because Bruce said Steve had to try some.

“Can I say something before you start?” Steve asks, dipping the last of his naan bread into his curry.

For some reason he brought along the condoms. He’s probably become accustomed to having it around when Bruce mentions which type would work best with which position. Steve’s a hands-on type of person; visual aids always help him learn.

“Shoot.” Bruce’s plate has been finished for an hour; he practically inhaled the food as soon as they sat down.

“Have you tried any of these things? Is that what people do now? Or do you just remember everything you learn about?” Personally, Steve has a notepad. He draws what he imagines the positions would look like with a description of it below each.

Bruce blushes, like really blushes. And Steve is so relieved he isn’t the only person in the house who’s plagued by this happening.

“I just like reading up on interesting topics. Sex happens to be one of them. I tried a few things in my youth, back before…you know. But I never got very far in the Kama sutra department.”

Moving the condoms from his lap to the table, Steve stands and throws his container away. It’s certainly better than the shawarma Tony made them try after they were too exhausted to even speak. Or maybe that’s why Steve couldn’t enjoy it. Note to self: try shawarma again on a good day.

Bruce sees Steve’s intense expression, and wrongly assumes it’s related to what he just said. He feels horrible for all of the personal comments, opinions and, most of all, stories he’s shared with him; Steve’s more or less a virgin, and it must be freaking him out to know  how sexually adventurous his teammate is.

“I’m sorry,” Bruce says suddenly.

Steve glances up from wiping a stain on his pants. “For what?”

Bruce is pouring a liquid into a large beaker when he notices Steve grabbing the box of condoms on his table. He’s only distracted for a moment, but it’s enough for him to drop the – luckily – empty glass tube, and cut himself in the process.

“Ow, fuck.”

Rushing over and looking ready to fight an army, Steve grabs Bruce’s hand. “This is my fault. Wait a second.”

“No, it’s me. I wasn’t paying attention,” Bruce corrects.

There’s nothing at hand that could be used as a bandage or temporary gauze for the cut in Bruce’s palm. Steve decides his gym shirt has seen better days, and should be used for a worthy cause. He rips a strip from the bottom of it, smiling proudly when he looks up at Bruce.

“I was going to throw this out soon anyway.” Steve wraps Bruce’s hand carefully, apologizing each time that he hisses. Sadly, the makeshift bandage doesn’t look secure or comfortable in the least. “Maybe we should go upstairs and find something better—”

Maybe it’s the Hulk’s return that inspires it. Maybe it’s through knowing how little experience this man has. Maybe it’s the effect that wonderful, kind, reliable Steve Rogers has on everyone he meets. Or maybe it’s a combination of all those things that drives him to do it. But all Bruce knows is that Steve makes the taste of curry much, much more appealing.

Steve is moaning into Bruce’s mouth without meaning to, and that seems to stir him up even more. He fists his hands in blond hair, dragging Steve down to his height, licking into Steve’s mouth like he needs every bit of the flavour there.

This isn’t exactly what Steve thought would happen, but perhaps he secretly wished he could have someone with so much experience show him how things are done. Steve hunches over, wrapping his arms around Bruce, stroking his dark hair gently, pressing his body closer with each new kiss. When Steve’s hand drags languidly down Bruce’s back, he pulls away, eyes darker than night, and sweeps whatever he had on his table onto the floor.

“Bruce—”

“I’ll make more!” Bruce somehow lifts Steve right off the ground, dropping him onto the now bare surface.

“W-what are you doing?” Steve asks, more turned on than he’s been in a while. Bruce is strong, even without turning green, and the lust in his eyes is almost intoxicating to see.

“I—” Bruce taps the side of Steve’s thigh, urging his hips up, “—am—” he drags down Steve’s pants, then his white briefs, “—sucking—” Bruce kneels down, licking his lips, “—your cock.”

Steve gasps when lips wraps around the head of his erection with just enough pressure, making the air stutter painfully out of his lungs. “Or, if you prefer, the more scientific expression is ‘making you blow your load down my throat’ I think.”

A very high-pitched sound - a cute one - is all Steve utters before Bruce forces more of the length between his spit-shiny lips. Bruce hums, smirking around Steve’s cock when he arches off the table, grabbing the edges so hard he could be leaving handprints. Keeping both palms flat to Steve’s thighs, Bruce bobs up and down, lathering Steve’s cock as he goes, fluttering his eyes as he makes eye contact with Steve. When the table creaks dangerously, Bruce pulls off, panting warm air against the head.

“You can touch me, you know.” Bruce bites his lip; Steve’s cheeks are bright red, his hair sticking to his forehead where a trail of sweat has started to collect. “I want you to touch me, Steve. Makes this a lot more interesting.”

Taking Steve as far as he can, he sucks messily at the Steve’s straining cock, darting his tongue out to collect the pre-come spilling out in bursts. Steve bucks up into the heat, but the hands pressed to his thighs are steady, keeping him down against the cold table. Bruce adds a bit of teeth, just a graze, and Steve’s hands fist into the dark hair instantly, needing the contact, the connection before he loses his mind entirely.

Bruce drops one hand, trailing it along the inside of Steve’s thigh, pulling a full-bodied shiver from him. His blunt nails scrape gently, following along Steve’s short, light pubic hair, stopping right between the base of Steve’s cock and his neglected entrance.

“Tell me if you don’t like it,” Bruce murmurs, mouthing at the head of Steve’s cock. “Otherwise I’ll just make you come, and come, and come…”

Steve whimpers, pulling his bottom lip between his teeth. “P-please,” he chokes out.

“Oh, you like that?” Bruce grins. “God, I’ve missed this.”

Bruce swallows Steve’s cock all the way to the base, his finger circling Steve’s entrance gently. There’s something about a doctor, a good friend, someone with a lot of sexual experience, taking pleasure in Steve’s arousal that is bordering on too much to handle. Dragging his finger in the saliva dripping along Steve’s cock, Bruce presses in with his middle finger, slowly, until the tightness eases up.

“Oh. My God. Yes,” Steve mewls, nearly falling back against the table when his elbows give way.

Bruce drags his mouth away, wrapping a hand at the base of Steve’s cock. “I’d say you enjoyed that. But just in case—”

Warmth and slick covers Steve’s pucker, when Bruce leans in, lapping his tongue between Steve’s thighs. There’s not much fight left in Steve at this point; he can’t deny he’s close, so close, that he needs to come or he’s going to very well die.

“Please,” he begs. “Please. Just—"

Bruce’s tongue slides in at the same time as he strokes Steve’s cock, not worrying about the death-grip in his hair dragging him closer, forcing his tongue deeper inside the ring of muscle. Steve rolls his hips, grinding his ass on Bruce’s face, and he knows how this would look from the outside, but he can’t be bothered when there’s warmth, and pressure, and a hand twisting at the head of his cock and oh

Steve spills over Bruce’s skilled hand, crying out as the tongue continues to impale him through the aftershocks. And this time Steve does lean all the way back when his limbs give out, his legs falling apart as Bruce shifts to standing between them.

“Good?” Bruce whispers, running his clean hand across the bare patch of skin where Steve’s shirt was ripped.

“Very good,” Steve replies, feeling spectacularly sexed out. The tension between them must have been building for so long, right under his nose. “Thank you for showing me that.”

Bruce moves closer, rubbing circles along Steve’s abdomen softly. “The pleasure was all mine.”

Steve grins when a kiss is pressed to his stomach. “My lips are here.” He points, pushing himself up to get within reach.

“So they are,” Bruce answers coyly. “But I don’t think you want to—”

“Shut up, doctor,” Steve cuts in, dragging Bruce in so roughly the wind is knocked out of him when their lips finally connect again. “And teach me how to do what you just did, okay?” He pats the front of Bruce’s pants playfully.

 

~*~*~

 

Eventually Steve is good enough at blowjobs that he can use his mouth and fingers to tear Bruce’s maddeningly collected mask away, bringing him to climax within five minutes each time. And Bruce, on the other hand, challenges himself. Each time Steve visits, Bruce is drawn away from his work – not by the younger man, but by his craving for the sounds and scent that are purely Steve – and he attempts to beat his previous record.

On a particularly messy, raunchy encounter, Steve brings Bruce to climax on his fingers alone, but he swears he sees green in the doctor’s eyes when Bruce comes apart. Bruce seems to pick up on this, and doesn’t want to put Steve in danger, so he asks him to visit less often.

(Besides, Bruce was getting nowhere with his new formula.)

Tony replaces Steve in the lab – not sexually, but as company – and aids Bruce with his research, keeping an eye out for any more mishaps (at Steve’s stern request).

They drift apart in a natural way, still being friends – just not needing the physical aspect as much. Instead, they go for walks together, they cook together, and they take each other’s side when the Great Friday Movie Debate comes around each week.

Steve is okay with them just being friends because at least now Bruce is spending more time out of his lab, and Steve isn’t afraid to be in Bruce’s vicinity for long periods of time.

 

~*~*~

 

There’s something wrong with Tony, more than usual that is.

 

When he isn’t watching over Bruce, he’s hiding away in the R&D department or in his personal workshop, constantly building, or he’s lying in bed for often days at a time, drinking scotch straight from the bottle. (Steve knows because Jarvis told him as much.)

Pepper has been his friend, or at least she was, for a very long time. And before that she was his confidant, his assistant that he could always count on to keep him stable. But now that Pepper herself is having a hard time getting over the break-up, she can’t be around to hold Tony’s hand. And that aside, she’s his CEO; she doesn’t have time to mope in bed, and reminisce over all the good times she shared with Tony. There’s a company to run, and Tony is in no state to do it – not that he ever was.

For a week, Steve asks the other Avengers what to do, and they tell him to just give Tony time and space, and he’ll be right as rain in no time. (Phil says he sees nothing out of the ordinary, but that Steve can borrow his taser if he’d like to.) But what if he isn’t? What if this time is actually different? Steve takes their advice, though his uncertainty makes him anxious, and he concentrates on other things.

 

~*~*~

 

It never seemed like a possibility to Steve, but Clint and Natasha are socializing with the rest of the household at long last.

Natasha likes to spar with Tony – when he isn’t busy drinking himself into an early grave – and helps Thor with his hair when he breaks the mirror in his room for the hundredth time. She continues to flirt with Steve, but she doesn’t act upon it anymore. Pepper and Natasha start speaking again when Natasha explains that she never meant to hurt Pepper. (Her goal was to seduce Tony, to make him hard as a rock, and then leave him high and dry and in pain. Pepper really likes that; laughs about it with Natasha until her jaw hurts.) They bond by pointing out Tony’s flaws, and sharing the new ones they discover as time passes. They become so close that they reserve Saturdays for a girls’ night out, picking an unfamiliar restaurant or lounge to check out each week.

Clint eats with everyone, teases Bruce about ‘coming out of his green shell’ while stuffing his face with the Bruce’s amazing cooking, and teaches Phil how to shoot moving targets while falling through the air.

(That leaves quite a few arrows through the ceiling, but Tony doesn’t mind so long as they don’t hit the chandelier.)

Steve and Clint chat, often during movie night, and the leader finds out he actually sleeps in his bed most nights now. Natasha pulls Steve aside and explains that it has to do with ‘wanting to smell Steve’s scent’. Steve could have done without that little bit of information, not that he’s even sure she’s telling the truth. It wouldn’t be the first time she made Steve believe something false.

(Like that time when she said there was a weeping ghost in the basement, and it turned out to be Phil crying over The Lion King.

“There was some dust in my eye,” Phil said, defensively.

“Were you trying to get it out by deafening it?” Natasha asked, smirking.

“I’m going back upstairs,” Steve announced to no-one in particular.

“Wait!” Phil wiped his eye quickly. “Can you bring me some tissues?”)

 

Overall, Steve is impressed with everyone’s attitudes – Tony would come around surely – and he couldn’t even take the credit if he wanted to.

 

~*~*~

 

There’s never been a time where Steve worried about Thor; he’s always so easygoing, so bright and cheery. He makes living in the tower better for everyone around, when he isn’t destroying appliances and furniture. But when he’s upset, the whole team feels it – Steve most of all.

Steve approaches Thor when he isn’t his usual happy-go-lucky self.

“What’s wrong, Thor?”

“My home calls to me. I miss my people, my family. I miss Asgard,” he answers solemnly.

“You’ve been on Earth for a long time. You should take some time off and go back. I’m sure Fury would—”

“I cannot!” Thor interjects. He sighs, looking dejected. “I know myself. If I were to return, I would beg for Loki to be released. And that is not the right decision for my world or yours.”

Steve joins Thor on his bed, rubbing his back gently. “I know how it feels to miss family, trust me. And my home looks nothing like it used to so I don’t even have that.” He smiles when Thor looks at him questioningly. “I think we should make a second home for ourselves, here, in New York.”

“How can we?”

“Well, do you know much about the city? I don’t. We can go explore, get our mind off things.” Steve stands, placing both hands on his hips. “What do you say, pal?”

Thor’s nostrils flare for a moment, and then he’s smiling so wide Steve wonders what he’s done to merit such a reward. “I will follow you, Captain Steven. Let us create an adventure of our own!”

 

~*~*~

 

Somewhere between browsing bookstores, trying to understand fashion – what is hipster, Steven? I think it’s a colour, maybe – and sampling too much ice cream for a normal person to handle, they end up stopping a bank robbery.

Well, Thor and Steve just happen to be passing by, Thor’s ice cream gets knocked out of his hand by one of the criminals, and he throws a tantrum of godly proportions. Lightning shoots from the sky, wind gusts and blows some of the men across the street, rain starts falling in a torrential way and…you get the idea.

And since everyone is frightened off (or unconscious), Steve is left to calm his teammate alone, explaining that they can just buy some more. After Steve treats Thor, the authorities show up and praise them both for their good work. Someone, somewhere – where do these people and their picture-taking telephones come from? – snaps a photo of them shaking hands with the police, and all hell breaks loose.

Rumours of a sub-group featuring only two of the six Avengers start spreading like wildfire.

Surprisingly, the Avengers don’t really care what Steve and Thor do in their free time, and most of them even encourage it. Thor likes this distraction and how positive it is, so he requests Steve join him on a ‘formidable crusade in Midgard’.

The next time they’re out together, having an unplanned picnic – Thor is always hungry – an old lady has her bag stolen, and it’s Steve’s turn to leap to her rescue. It takes him all of ten seconds to catch up to the thief, and when the man recognizes him, he passes out.

This time, a news reporter asks them about their reasoning and what their team is called.

“We’ll get back to you on that,” Steve answers promptly, pulling Thor away before he explains how his love for ice cream is what brought this on.

 

~*~*~

 

“If we’re going to take this seriously,” Steve can’t believe he’s saying it himself, “we should make it obvious that we are not representing the Avengers. We need a name and a different costume.”

“Indeed! Steven, you are as intelligent as you are brave!” Thor exclaims, banging Steve on the back just this side of too hard.

 

~*~*~

 

It’s all Thor’s fault, Steve complains to himself.

 

They’re in a Halloween shop going through masks, trying to find some that are as far from their usual outfits as they can. Steve picks a black mask with gold tips that covers the top half of his face, and then he finds a black cape and buys that as well. Ever since he was a kid, he’s wanted a cape.

Thor, on the other hand, can’t decide between a Pierrot mask and a pink one that he says matches his red cape splendidly. Steve can’t make eye contact with the cashier when Thor picks the pink – or light red, as Thor deems it - one with sparkles and white feathers at the top.

And if that isn’t bad enough – oh yes, it gets worse – Thor is flipping through channels one day (without crushing the remote for once) and comes across a pretty, cheery weatherwoman.

“Steven!”

Steve is in his room, lacing up running shoes for the jog they planned to take. He cracks his door open to answer, “Yes, Thor?”

“Weather forecast!” Thor shouts, hardly containing his excitement.

Raising a brow, Steve steps out of his room. “What about the weather?”

“No, no. You misunderstand. That will be our sub-group’s appellation!” Thor crushes the remote then, accidentally, when he intends to clasp his palms together. “We will be called Weather Forecast!”

It makes sense considering Thor’s powers, but how does that represent Steve in any way. “And how does that include my abilities?” he asks out of genuine interest. Maybe Thor has a logical explanation.

“That is true. I had forgotten.” Thor clicks his fingers. “We can be Weather Forecast Shield!”

Steve blinks a few times, leaning on the bannister. “No, Weather Forecast is fine. Are you ready?”

“I could battle without garments! All I require is Mjolnir by my side.” Thor beams.

As Steve takes out his keys to lock the door behind them, Thor grunts and startles them both.

“I’ve forgotten my mask and cape!”

Says the man who could fight naked.

 

~*~*~

 

After another week of stopping petty crimes, Steve wants to call it quits. He’d like to be able to say it has everything to do with wanting the rest of the team to be included, but he knows it’s mostly because people are recognizing them, and Thor’s costume is getting them teased from every possible angle.

“Rain clouds,” Clint calls from where he’s perched on the edge of the couch. “I hear you guys are doing well with saving kittens from trees and walking people’s dogs.”

“We are Weather Forecast, Eye of Hawk. You would do well to remember our name correctly for we have done much good!”

That’s Thor; ever-ready to defend their sub-group’s honour. Steve just slinks down into the couch, munching on popcorn Bruce made him.

Phil says from the kitchen, “Does Thor know people think he’s a Barbie princess?”

“I don’t understand that reference,” Steve utters.

Thor nods in agreement, but assumes it’s a compliment because Coulson isn’t usually mean-spirited. “Thank you, Philippe. But I would prefer to be akin a prince!”

Clint falls off the couch laughing, and doesn’t stop when Natasha drags him away.

 

~*~*~

 

The next day, there’s a Barbie princess DVD waiting for them in the shared entertainment room. Thor watches it and enjoys it so much he forgets that he’s meant to be insulted. Steve leaves half-way to try and plan a way to break the news of their disbanding to Thor.

It turns out he doesn’t need to because Thor has other things on his mind.

“I would like to learn of the technology Midgard possesses. It is something you do not comprehend as well, yes?”

“So you want to learn about cellphones, video games and the internet?” Steve asks, raising a brow. “And what happens with our crime-fighting duo?”

“We are merely taking a well-deserved vacation. A Peter Parker informed me of his return to New York, and thanked us for helping during his leave. Do you know of him?”

“Peter Parker…Not a clue,” Steve replies, scratching his chin.

“Spiderman! Spiderman contacted Thor?! I’ve been trying to get him over here for months!” Tony wails from the penthouse elevator.

“He said he does not intend to join the Avengers at this time,” Jarvis informs the room. “And he believes Tony will try to seduce him if he were to move in.”

“Thank you very much, Jarvis,” Tony says dryly. “Remind me to ease up on your sass levels, will ya?” He turns to Thor, saying, “So what was that about technology?”

 

~*~*~

 

They decide that Tony is a bad teacher when he hacks into a dating site, uploads pictures of them during their Weather Forecast days, and leaves them with hundreds of emails to sift through. Steve just shuts the computer down and doesn’t reopen it until Bruce explains how to delete messages.

Thor likes Google search most. He types in strange keywords that he expects people on Earth wouldn’t have thought of, but he’s surprised each time to find out he’s wrong. After a week, Steve shows Thor an old picture of himself that someone ‘scanned’ onto the ‘web’, and they are both blown away.

“That is you, Steven! But why does this photograph appear so aged?”

“I guess it’s from before I was frozen.”

“This internet hides many secrets. We need to discover them,” Thor murmurs as though conspiring against the government.

 

~*~*~

 

Thor spends too much time stomping – more like trampling – through the tower, excitedly rushing up to Steve’s room to show him images and videos of animals, so Tony teaches them about Skype.

(Clint and Natasha thank Tony by sneaking up to his bedroom one night for some ‘adult entertainment’. Pepper thought Thor’s excitement was cute, but promptly changed her mind when it happened at one, two, and then three in the morning. Phil sleeps like the dead, and was too busy stuffing his face with Bruce’s home recipes to notice. )

It’s 2am when Steve gets his first Skype call from Thor.

“Good evening, Steven!”

Steve can hear his voice through the walls, all the way upstairs in his room. How is this solving the noise factor exactly? “Thor, can you – uh – keep your voice down?”

“I don’t understand. Are we plotting some attack on one of our allies?” Thor’s voice booms again, and Steve sighs exaggeratedly.

“No, it’s just late and—”

“They are not asleep, you have my word! I saw Philippe going into Bartonson’s quarters but minutes ago, and Lady Widow is out with Pepper on their hebdomadal expedition. And –”

“Okay, I get it,” Steve chuckles. “So what did you want to show me?”

 

---

 

Thor almost seems to feel bad for the bloodshot eyes his roommates are sporting the next day, except he finds another picture of a cat sleeping on its back, and that occupies his thoughts instead. Steve wants to jump out of a tall building which – lucky for him – he just happens to be in. If they’re all exhausted (Steve included because Thor had so much to share) then they can’t be ready to fight when the time comes. There have to be boundaries of some sort.

 

---

 

Another call comes in on Skype that night, and Steve decides to go to Thor’s room instead. If anyone has to be exhausted the next day, it should just be him – not the entire Avengers tower.

“Steven! Why had you not simply answered my transmission?” Thor asks, frowning.

“I wanted to come in person so we could talk more privately. I think the team will appreciate it if we keep our voices down,” Steve replies, patting Thor’s arm.

“I see.” And idea comes to Thor’s mind, and his brow shoots up. “Tony has taught me a fine game to entertain us. I am glad you are here.”

Thor pulls out a deck of cards, shuffling them then passing some out.

“What are we playing?” Steve takes his cards slowly. Cards he can handle; that’s what everyone used to pass the time during the war.

“Poker…Wait. I am forgetting a word.” Thor looks up at the ceiling, scrubbing through his bristly, blond beard. “Allow me a moment of thought, Steven. I will recall the name soon enough.”

“Well, I know how to play poker—”

“Ah, yes!” Thor cuts in. “Strip Poker. Starkson taught me how to play it earlier.” Thor’s brow furrows. “Why is your skin the colour of an apple?”

“T-that’s what we’re playing? You know that means we’ll both eventually be…” Steve can’t say it, even after his sex education with Dr. Bruce.

“Nude, yes I am aware. We are both fine, young men. I see nothing wrong with it.” Thor slaps Steve’s knee, definitely leaving a handprint behind. “I am not ashamed of my body, nor should you be. Now come, let us enjoy this new game!”

If only Steve could get drunk, this would be a lot easier to deal with.

 

---

 

It just so happens, Thor is terrible at poker; he can’t hide his emotions to save his life, and Steve can always tell when he’s bluffing. It also turns out, not so surprisingly, that Thor enjoys being naked, regardless of who is in the room with him.

Thor has one sock left – why he chose to remove his underwear before his socks, Steve will never understand – and if he loses again, Steve will be declared the winner. But anyone who knows Thor knows that he has the attention span of a two year old on a good day. And today is not a good day.

Steve is deciding whether to bluff or not when Thor stands, bending over right in front of Steve, clenching his butt cheeks for some unknown reason. Then he twists his body one way, the other, flexing his biceps and back muscles as he goes. And really, whose fault is it if Steve’s mouth is hanging open when Thor turns to look at him?

“I can read your thoughts perfectly, Steven!” Thor exclaims, grappling forward to wrestle Steve to his carpet. “I did not know Midgardians enjoyed such practices!”

“W-what practices?” Steve croaks out, trying to slip out from under a very, very naked Thor.

“Wrestling, I believe it is called here.” Thor grabs for Steve’s shirt, and you’d swear they were having two separate conversations.

“Thor. Thor. What are you doing?”

“Men in Asgard practice this without any body armour. You have an unfair advantage over me, Steven!”

Apparently wearing a t-shirt is an advantage. “Okay, I guess.” His shirt is stripped off faster than he can blink.

“Now the fun begins!”

Thor really wasn’t kidding about wanting to wrestle.

Steve is on his back the next second, parts of Thor’s anatomy pressing in places he wishes wouldn’t, so he struggles, wiggles, and switches their positions, straddling Thor’s hips. Thor cries out with joy, twisting Steve’s arm and forcing him back where he was, face flat against the carpet. Something dangling hits him between his shoulder blades, and he doesn’t know how to feel about that, so he leaps up, unintentionally bringing Thor with him.

Thor bares his teeth, slamming Steve’s back against the wall, pressing his palm right below Steve’s throat. The god chuckles when he feels Steve’s pulse quicken and his throat bobbing beneath his fingertips.

“Play fair, Captain. That is ticklish.”

Ticklish? There may be hope yet. Steve thrusts an arm free of Thor’s hold, and reaches out to Thor’s waist, gently sliding his fingers up and down and—

“No! For the love of Odin!” Thor tries to stifle his laughter, but can’t. “I should not have mentioned my weakness so soon!”

Thor continues laughing as he drags Steve with him atop his bed, pinning his hands down roughly. “That is enough of that. I thought you a real warrior, Steven.”

Steve tries for nonchalance, but fails when his voice cracks mid-way. “I am a s-soldier, just not at three in the morning, Thor.”

“Are you ill? Why is your temperature elevated so?” Thor narrows his eyes. “Have I injured you?” He shifts, and his hips brush against Steve’s in a way that is just plain evil.

Steve gasps Thor’s name. “Sorry. I should go n—”

Thor palms Steve’s bulge through his pants before he has a chance to stand. “I am not ashamed of my sexuality. You should take what you wish to! I will gladly give myself over to a mortal such as you.”

“I can’t just make you…do things with me, Thor,” Steve tries to explain, but Thor insists on palming him.

“Is it not normal to fulfill your needs on this planet? If I am hungry, I eat. If I am dirty, I bathe. If I am aroused, I fuck.”

The word sounds so filthy rolling off of a god’s tongue that it makes Steve impossibly harder, and he’s agreeing to anything and everything Thor will offer before his mind even catches up with it. “Wait, wait. You’re not even turned on. I don’t want this to only be about me.”

Thor tilts his head, eyes shining with admiration. “Such beautiful words, Steven. But fear not, I can feel the heat building in my loins as we speak. You are a very alluring man.”

Steve flushes, but can’t even thank Thor because his pants are being ripped off and thrown across the room. He opens his mouth to protest one last time, and Thor silences him with a palm over his lips, dipping down to breathe in the smell of sex and pre-come on Steve’s cock.

“Your scent is potent. I will enjoy this very much.” Thor dabs some of it on his fingers, shoving them into his mouth without hesitation. “Oh. Why have you been hiding this for so long?”

Steve’s hands tangle in Thor’s hair, pulling gently when Thor tongues across and beneath his balls, humming so loud it feels like a vibrator (Bruce is an efficient teacher). Tugging a bit more on Thor’s hair, Steve hopes he gets the message through; he’s not worked on his stamina enough to survive this kind of teasing.

Thor moves his hand from Steve’s mouth and grabs his waist instead, flipping him over with one swoop. He leans over Steve’s body; his cock fitting between Steve’s spread legs easily. Steve’s socks suffer the same fate as his pants, and Thor’s hand finds Steve’s cock hanging heavy between his thighs.

“I believe you are mostly untouched, are you not?” Compared to Asgardian royalty, most people would seem like virgins.

Thor’s breath is dizzyingly warm against his bare neck, and when Steve looks down between their bodies, he sees the single socked foot and it makes him oddly at ease.

“I’ve had some experience lately.”

“I shall provide you with more,” Thor murmurs (as much as Thor can), tracing Steve’s ear with his tongue.

Hips shift, and Thor’s cock is rubbing slick between Steve’s ass, catching on his entrance with each thrust. Thor nibbles over Steve’s shoulder as his hand wraps firmly around Steve’s length, easing him into the pace. His strokes are rough and tight around Steve, his palm secure and mostly dry. It burns deep all across Steve’s skin, and his chest heaves with each forward movement of Thor’s hips.

Thor is sweating onto Steve’s back, his hair tickling his shoulders, and Steve nearly collapses when Thor’s cock prods his entrance accidentally. Thor leans forward, holding Steve up and stroking faster, swiping his fingers over the head with each tug.

“You are intoxicating, Steven,” Thor growls out, spreading Steve’s ass wide to watch as his cock presses in teasingly, leaving a mess of pre-come behind. “I feel you are close to climax. Do not hold back. I would like to hear you.”

Steve arches, pushing his ass closer to the thick length stretching him slightly. Thor presses lazy, open-mouthed kisses on Steve’s lower back, squeezing at the head of Steve’s throbbing cock.

“Thor,” Steve whimpers. “Faster.”

A seductive laugh rumbles out of Thor, and he sinks his teeth into the reddening flesh of Steve’s ass. “Anything for my leader.”

Thor edges closer, as close as he can, and the tip of his cock slides inside Steve, barely, just enough to make Steve buck into Thor’s tight grip.

Yes.” Steve leans his head against his arm, biting the skin of his bicep to keep from screaming.

Thor slaps Steve’s ass, pulling his other hand away for a moment to spit in his palm. Steve makes the mistake of looking down at what Thor’s doing exactly to catch his cock slipping in and out of vision within Thor’s large hand. His whole body tenses, squeezing around Thor’s massive length, and he comes for what feels like an hour, all over the bedding and Thor’s hand.

Thor falls forward and against Steve’s back when he comes; the pressure having broken the last of his restraint. He gnaws on Steve’s shoulder until he’s moaning louder and louder, his cock no doubt filling up with blood again.

“May I clean you up?” Thor drags his lips across the marks he’s left on Steve’s skin.

Steve pants noisily, looking back at Thor over his shoulder. “What do you—”

Thor forces Steve upright, kissing him over his shoulder, sucking at his tongue. “I would like to clean you. Follow me to the bathing area.”

There’s no room for refusal, it seems. Not that Steve would; he has zero energy to move right away. He nods, starting to turn to face Thor, but the god lifts him easily, throwing him over his shoulder and scurrying out of his bedroom. He smacks Steve’s ass as he did Bruce not that long ago.

So it’s not just a drunken thing, Steve thinks idly. Thor tastes each of his fingers that were soiled by Steve, and he has to cover his eyes to keep from spontaneously combusting over that.

Everyone in this tower is so bad, but so good at the same time; it’s a paradox Steve doesn’t care to correct.

“Shall I prepare the water for you in the shower,” Jarvis butts in nosily.

Steve mentally kicks himself for forgetting to turn off that untrustworthy robot – again.

 

~*~*~

 

It was definitely the shower of a lifetime, but Steve’s gotten used to not expecting more than sex from his fellow superheroes. There’s just too much responsibility on their shoulders without having to consider a serious relationship. It may have taken Steve more than once to figure it out, but he gets that now. So when Thor doesn’t change the way he treats Steve at all for the following week, Steve’s oddly…accepting of it.

It was fun, but that’s it. It’s much easier to stay friends and teammates; they can still count on each other’s support, and that’s what matters. Steve can appreciate having more than a handful of companions to spend time with.

 

~*~*~

 

Tony.

 

Tony’s been at the back of Steve’s mind for weeks. He’s done what his friends have asked and not bothered him, given him space, but it’s only seemed to worsen while Steve wasn’t around to keep him sane and sober.

Pepper is a good reason for anyone to fall off the bandwagon; she’s smart and confident, and entirely too amazing for her own good. And Tony made a mistake – a drunken one no less – that ruined what he had with her, what they’d built over the years from working together. She seems more or less able to cope, especially now that she’s an extended part of the Avengers, but Tony…

Falling down the stairs in an Iron Man suit is the final straw for Steve. He’s had enough of sitting back and watching his best friend drink his life away. Someone has to put a stop to it, and since Steve’s the Captain, their leader, the one they can always rely one, it’ll have to be him.

 

~*~*~

 

If you know Tony Stark, the last thing he’d ever want to do is admit something is wrong. Now more than ever, Steve is finding that out. But they’re both stubborn in their ways, intent on making the other fold.

“I don’t like what I saw the other day, Tony,” Steve says, stepping into the penthouse.

Tony is fixing himself a scotch, without ice. “Oh, you mean Thor’s hammer? Yeah, I thought it would be bigger, too.”

Steve forgot about that whole Jarvis tells Tony everything problem. “No, I meant you. Your suits are your children, and you almost scrapped it by having too much to drink.”

“I’ve had more. I just tripped over my laces, Cap. Lighten up.” Tony swishes the brown liquid in his glass, not making eye contact.

The blonde steps closer, sitting in a round, metal chair, crossing his arms. He refuses to budge this time; Tony is going to kill himself.

“I gave you time, Tony. I’ve left you alone. I ignored what I saw. But it’s too much now. I’m worried.”

Tony winces at the last part, throwing back the contents of his glass in one gulp. “When aren’t you worried? I could have a splinter and you’d be here with the same puppy-eyed expression. I’m fine, mom. I’m a big boy.”

“This isn’t funny,” Steve states flatly.

“No one’s laughing. Except maybe people who have a sense of humour.” Tony grins in that way he knows rubs Steve the wrong way. “I’m fucking hilarious, Cap.”

“The sad ones always are,” Steve replies, his gaze softening, but Tony still hasn’t looked at him.

“Oh, okay. That’s – that’s not playing nice.” Tony pours himself another glass, muttering about stupid, old-fashioned Capsicle ruining his buzz. “You know what? I don’t want your help. I want to be left alone, drink my scotch that’s younger than you, and work when the time comes.”

“What happens if I do that -” Steve stands, walking towards Tony at his mini-bar. “- and another alien army attacks, and you’re too drunk to even walk down the stairs in your suit?”

“That was one time—”

“It doesn’t matter, Tony. It happened.” Steve puts his hand on Tony’s shoulder. “And I’m your friend. I consider you my closest friend. So why not let me help you through this?”

“When did you decide I needed friends? I didn’t invite you guys to live here, you volunteered my tower. Fury forced my hand.”

“So you don’t want me here? You don’t want the Avengers around?”

“Why do you think I stay in the penthouse so fuckin’ much now, Cap?” Tony snaps, pushing Steve’s hand off his shoulder.

“Because you miss Pepper and she lives with us, not just with you anymore,” Steve says softly, trying to make Tony look at him.

“Shut up,” Tony grinds out, already feeling his head spinning. “You have no idea what you’re talking about. You’ve never been in a relationship, and you certainly haven’t dated Pepper.”

“I’ve loved someone though,” Steve murmurs, reaching out to rub Tony’s shoulder.

Tony shoves Steve back, away from him, far enough that Tony doesn’t need to look up to see his face when he says, “Peggy? Get over it! You only kissed her. And that was decades ago.”

And that hurts. Steve’s hand drops to his side, his shoulders slumping. He knows this is Tony’s defence mechanism, but it’s hard to ignore a jab like that when Tony knows how much Steve thinks about her. This isn’t about Steve though; this is about getting Tony better. He can be upset some other time when alcohol isn’t coursing through Tony’s veins, poisoning him.

“Fine. If you’re not going to help yourself, I’ll help you,” Steve says, sternly. He grabs the biggest bottles in front of him, filled with 40 proof alcohol, and strides toward Tony’s sink.

“Hey. Hey! What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Tony chases after Steve. “Give me those. Those are things Pep—” He swallows the rest of the sentence down.

“What were you saying?” Steve wouldn’t waste them if they were gifts; that’s not his goal.

“They’re from her,” Tony mutters. “And even if you pour my entire stash down the drain, what will that accomplish? I’ll just have someone bring me more or get it myself.”

Steve frowns, putting the bottles down. “Then talk to me!” Tony rolls his eyes, and makes his hand talk to mimic Steve’s whining. “Pepper is moving on, Tony. And she’s running this company without you.”

“Don’t talk about her. Don’t do it,” Tony warns, sipping his scotch.

“You know she was a mess not long ago. Almost as bad as you are now, but she let me in. She let me talk her out of the destructive behaviour.”

“Stop. I don’t want to hear it. Good for her. The one who breaks up with the other always gets better first!”

Steve feels sad for Tony; he’s lashing out more than usual. She must have really been a big part of him. “You loved her, didn’t you? Are you angry because she kissed me?”

“That’s it! Get the fuck out. Leave!” Tony spits. “I don’t want to hear your time-travelling, Back to the Future advice that doesn’t apply to my day and age.” When Steve just watches Tony, crossing his arms, Tony rushes out of sight. “Then I’m leaving because you are a terrible so-called friend, and I don’t want to see your pretty blond head anymore.”

In moments, Steve is watching Tony suit up and fly away, not bothering to wait for the door to slide completely open when he smashes through it.

That went well.

 

---

 

After a few hours, Steve can’t wait anymore.

“Jarvis, where’s Tony?”

“I believe he returned to his previous flat. I can provide you with coordinates if you like,” Jarvis replies.

“Thank you.”

 

---

 

Somewhere along the way, Tony grabbed some more to drink. When Steve arrives – thanks to Phil pulling some strings and getting him a lift there – Tony is half-sitting, half lying on his balcony, the face of his suit removed, clutching onto a bottle like a life line.

“Cap!” Tony slurs, a grim smile on his face. “So glad you could join me. Take a seat, strip off your clothes. Let’s fuck around like you’ve done with everyone else.”

Steve’s brow furrows, but he bends down next to Tony. “Are you saying you’re jealous?”

“Pfft. What? Of an innocent, old man? What are you like ninety now?”

“I’m twenty-five, Tony,” Steve says, smiling in spite of the situation. “The years I was frozen don’t count.”

“They count to most people,” Tony mumbles, taking a swig straight from the bottle.

“Okay, I think you’ve had enough.” Steve takes the bottle away easily; Tony can’t figure out which of the three Steve’s is the real one.

“I don’t think so,” Tony sing-songs. “The party’s just starting. Wooooo!” Tony flails his arms, accidentally hitting the back of Steve’s perfectly coiffed head.

“Definitely had enough,” Steve says, rubbing his head.

Steve flings Tony’s arm around his shoulders, but he can’t lift him. Tony’s limbs are heavy and limp, and the suit reacts to his physical state – that’s something he added recently in case he ever plummets from outer space again – making it very hard for someone to just throw him over their shoulder. Steve’s going to need help.

“Thor.” Tony was nice enough in his drunken stupor to tell Steve where his laptop was. “I need your help. Can you find me through Jarvis?”

“I will ask the robotic being and be there shortly, Steven!”

 

---

 

Thor leaves them alone, since Steve asked, but mostly because he wants to watch the Lion King 1 ½ with Clint and Bruce.

Steve knows there’s no point in asking questions when Tony’s like this, so he busies himself with trying to get the suit off. “How do I—”

“There’s a button around somewhere, I don’t usually take it off manually, so you’re gonna have to search.” Tony flicks a strand of Steve’s hair out of his eyes. “How do you get it so perfect? I think bed-hair suits me better, personally.”

Steve just nods, turning Tony from one side to the next, sliding his hand across the metal with clinical intensity. Tony realizes Steve probably isn’t going to share the secrets of his hair the universe.


“I think she is the first woman I ever loved,” Tony mumbles, leaning on an elbow as Steve’s fingers search deftly for a button he’s beginning to think doesn’t exist.

Steve considers saying something, but he decides on letting Tony say whatever he feels instead.

“She could always fix whatever I broke. I don’t mean robots or systems; that’s my job. She could fix everything else, the little stuff – the important stuff.” Steve watches Tony’s eyes close, wondering if he’s about to drift off into sleep, but he continues. “And now I’ve broken her, and the only thing that could fix it is her. Or maybe I’ve just broken myself.”

Tony sighs, cracking an eye open. “Feel free to chime in any time, Cap. I’m just baring my heart here, leaving it out on a metal slab, waiting for you to tenderize it.”

“I didn’t know if you wanted me to say anything. You said before—”

Leaning up too fast, Tony holds his head; the room is spinning at warp speed. “I know what I said. And I’m – I’m sorry.” He turns his palm over, pointing to a small, silver button. Steve laughs, shaking his head. “Consider this my way of making it up to you?”

“Were you going to let me search all night?” Steve asks, cocking a brow, smiling all the same.

Tony lets himself fall limp in Steve’s arms, taking great pleasure in seeing Steve try to hold him up. “I may have considered it for a moment. But you’re just so freakin’ nice. It’s hard to stay mad at you.” Tony pokes Steve in the chest. “Maybe that’s your superpower. Niceness. Kindness? No, niceness sounds better.”

Steve presses the button and the suit retracts instantly, climbing away from Tony’s limbs, and leaving him in a t-shirt and jogging pants. It collects itself into a compact metal square that Tony leaves on the floor next to his bed.

Tony lets out a jaw-breaking yawn, and Steve figures that’s his cue. “I’ll just let you rest—”

“No. Cap, you have to stay a bit. We haven’t hung out, just us two, in a while.”

“I think in weeks is the better description,” Steve corrects, grinning.

“Even worse! Don’t worry, I won’t pull out my big seduction moves on you. That stuff is only for people with adequate experience.”

“I have some experience,” Steve admits, rubbing the nape of his neck.

“There you go. Now you have to stay and chat a while.” Tony goes onto all fours, crawling over to his bed, and lifting himself just long enough to fall on top of it. He pats the space next to him, Pepper’s side, his mind adds mercilessly, waiting for Steve to run away like a blushing bride.

“I’ll only keep you company if it’s a two-way street, Tony.” Steve brushes off his pants and walks around the bed, carefully taking off his shoes and sitting down.

“Stretch out, man. Relax. And yep, definitely. Two-way. Three-way even.” Tony groans. “That’s not what I meant.” Tony digs the heels of his hands in his eyes. His head is going to explode during the night (or tomorrow if he’s lucky) isn’t it?

Steve laughs at the awkward, inebriated version of his best friend. Maybe alcohol can have a plus side.

 

~*~*~

 

It’s not the first time Steve’s woken up in a bed that isn’t his own – and the number of times has only increased since meeting the Avengers – but it’s the first time he’s slept in the same bed as one Tony Stark.

Tony is a cuddler.

Steve usually gets up around the same time as the sun, but he’s up slightly earlier this day because Tony is wound around him so tightly, Steve has no choice but to take in large gulps of air through dark strands. Pushing the hair out of his eyes, Steve moves over slightly, trying to untangle Tony’s limbs wrapped around him like an octopus.

“No. Pepper,” Tony mumbles in a sleepy voice. Steve feels bad until: “Oh. It’s just you.” Tony smiles sheepishly and stretches a mostly bare leg in the air when Steve narrows his eyes.

Something about how much more content Tony seems makes a chill skitter down Steve’s spine. And now that he’s not covered in a cloak of Stark, he can see that his shirt is missing. He doesn’t remember having taken it off, though.

“D-did we have intercourse?” Steve stutters, staring at the ceiling, trying to draw on what he remembers from last night.

Tony pauses for a very long time. Deliberately. “I don’t think so.” He smirks when Steve sighs with relief. “Your box ‘o’ condoms is still in your room, gramps.” Tony messes up Steve’s hair before rolling onto his back. “Besides, you could not forget if we had knocked boots, or shield and suit in this case.”

Steve sighs, throwing his legs over the side of the bed. Nonchalance is tolerable once in a while, but Tony uses it as a second skin; he pretends nothing fazes him, and when something does he uses every means he can to avoid thinking about it.

It was good last night; Steve had made a breakthrough with his best friend. Tony had honestly opened up. Now, however, the quips are back, and getting under Steve’s skin for obvious reasons.

Steve quickly grabs his shirt from the ground and pulls it over his head, moving away when he feels Tony lift it back up for a peek at his back. “Stop, Tony.” He’s not in the mood for the jokes and the play-flirting.

“Wait, don’t be mad,” Tony says softly, uncharacteristically so. Steve turns to look at Tony, and his face is right there. Tony grips Steve’s chin with one hand and kisses him softly on the lips. “Thanks, Cap.” Tony lies back down as if that was the most logical thing he could have done, perhaps, for him, it was.

Steve wipes the wrinkles out of his shirt and stands to leave. “You’re welcome.” But I still don’t understand this world where people kiss their best friend.

 

~*~*~

 

Steve goes out for ice cream with Pepper and Thor, and when he returns to his room to change his shirt – Thor still isn’t very good at aiming for his mouth – he finds a package from Tony waiting for him.

Opening it doesn’t really explain its purpose, and Tony wasn’t kind enough to write up instructions. Steve rolls his eyes, tucking it under his arm, running up the stairs to the penthouse.

Tony is banging a wrench against a malfunctioning arm when Steve walks in. It’s not something he ever thought he’d see in his lifetime. But this is his world now, apparently.

“Yeah, Cap? Oh, you found it. Great.” Tony bangs the arm when it wiggles back to life again.

“I – uh – don’t understand what this is.” Steve opens the package, and takes it out carefully. “What is it?”

“It’s a cape. Well, a mechanical one. You can switch its density if ever someone is standing behind you and they shoot –” Tony puts down his wrench when Steve raises a brow. He gestures for Steve to hand it over. “Let me show you.”

Tony clips the cape onto the collar of his shirt and it springs to life, a series of long metal strips covering the length of Tony’s back all the way down to his calves. It’s like Steve’s shield, but in the form of a silver cape, protecting the most vulnerable part of him.

“When did you even have time to make that?” Steve gapes. “That’s amazing.”

“Oh, this was nothing. You should see what else I have in mind for you.” Tony grins, removing the cape and waiting for it to shrink back enough to hand it over to Steve. “Enjoy old man. I just want to make sure you’re always the oldest around – after Thor obviously.”

“Thanks. I appreciate it,” Steve utters genuinely. Tony clears his throat and waves a hand dismissively.

 

~*~*~

 

It’s the first of many new gadgets, it seems.

The next time Steve steps out – he goes with Bruce to an Italian restaurant and Clint tags along, having invited himself – there are knee-level, sky blue boots in front of his door with a red bow attached to them.

Steve doesn’t even bother trying to work out what they do, taking the stairs straight up to Tony’s workshop.

“Are these just for appeal or comfort? Or do they do something that I should be careful of?”

“Hi, Cap. I’m glad to see you, too. Oh, and don’t worry about thanking me, that only took three days out of my life,” Tony rambles out, fixing a loose wire of his Iron Man suit. He peers at Steve across the room and Stve looks back at him with his arms crossed, unimpressed. “They complement your abilities.”

“Really?” Steve says, slightly more curious.

Tony nods, clipping the end of the wire and taking off his safety glasses. “Come ‘ere, I’ll show you.” The older man makes grabby hands at chest-level to (successfully) disturb his old-fashioned leader – who doesn’t even have breast.

They enhance Steve’s strengths, as it turns out. Although the serum made him able to jump farther, higher, to run faster, these boots provide him with an extra boost of power right at the end to increase it. Steve spends most of the day in the gym, bouncing off walls – not on purpose – and running across the ceiling – on purpose – trying to get the hang of them.

And then there are more gifts.

 

Tony redesigns Captain America’s shield quite a few times, but Steve can’t seem to control them as well as the first one Tony made, or maybe he just can’t part with it when it’s been so faithful to him.

Then there are pads that are big and clunky and hard to get on. (“Hold still or my hand’s going to end up somewhere very unpleasant. For you,” Tony teases.)

Steve becomes a running joke soon after. Natasha and Clint ask him what his weekly wardrobe malfunction is this time. He doesn’t miss the way Bruce and Phil are eavesdropping, and that Natasha keeps Pepper up-to-date during their outings. But, worst of all, is how interested in each suit change Thor is.

The fabrics interest him, the complexity of them, even the designs. He’s the cause of many gift-deaths, as Clint dubs it, and Steve is always too guilty to tell Tony why he isn’t using a specific one anymore. (He really liked those boots; they made him feel like he was on the moon.)

The mad scientist – not to be confused with the green giant, who is Bruce – decides to take on much larger scale modifications. He researches through old Captain America videos, ransacks (and crashes) the internet for sources of fabric, sends Bruce drawings of designs to get his opinion on, and adds in a little modern flair to them.

“Just pretend you’re a runway model,” Tony suggests, “then you won’t feel so bad about me touching you in your private areas.” Steve sighs, but Tony’s not finished. “Not that you should worry about that anymore, considering just about everyone in this tower has seen your family jewels.”

Steve sighs again, a long winded sound that Tony seems to bring out of him. “Thanks Tony, that really makes me want to try on the new suits.”

“Hey, don’t be ungrateful.” Tony zips up Steve’s ‘improved’ Captain America costume, patting Steve’s butt and rubbing his shoulders for no other reason than to bother Steve further. “Once you try these ones, you won’t ever go back to the old one.”

“Let’s hope you’re right,” Steve snaps, moving away when Tony cups his behind. “Is that necessary?”

“No, but don’t I deserve a reward for all my sweat, blood and tears?” Tony purses his lips, and Steve shifts further away. “Geez you’re a stick in the mud today.”

“Do you have a mirror?” Steve says, not bothering with the pointless provocation.

“Am I not good enough? Do you not trust my fantastic judgment?”

Steve doesn’t even falter. “No.”

“That’s harsh, Steve. I thought you were better than this. And besides, I’ll have you know I’ve won best dressed billionaire of the year quite a few times in a row.” Tony crinkles his nose.

“Fine.” Steve stretches out his arms. “How does it look?”  He smooths out the creases in the fabric, feeling uncomfortable about the tightness of it in certain areas, but overall it’s easy to move in. He leans forward, kicks out one leg then the other, stretches his arms above his head and rolls his shoulders. It feels good, not stiff at all.

Tony makes a ‘turn around’ gesture with a finger, and Steve complies, albeit not without frowning beforehand.

“Nice,” Tony says under his breath. “Looking good, Cap.” He tilts his head, making an appraising noise in his throat.

“That’s – that’s uncomfortable,” Steve admits, crossing his arms.

“I agree. Did your arms get bigger? I should have measured you again.” Tony smirks when Steve scowls at him. “Next one!”

There are so many clasps on some, too many buckles on others, weird fabric that bunches up in Steve’s groin area, and Tony just uses all of those factors as an excuse to squeeze this part, rub that part, lean in close against Steve’s back and breathe filth into his ear. Steve is only human, an adaptable one at that, so he can’t help ignoring it after a while to save his energy. Tony, on the other hand, thinks that’s a step forward in their bonding process, and his touches linger, become bolder and more consistent until Steve really can’t remember why he protested so much in the first place.

With his magical seduction skills, Tony has Steve against the wall, grinding into him as he laps his tongue over Steve’s collarbone roughly. His hands encircle Steve’s body, kneading his ass, and Steve leans in, taking Tony’s lips between his own. His stubble scratches at first, not as soft as Thor’s was, but not as unkempt as Bruce’s, and it creates a sultry kind of friction that Steve decides he wants more of. He deepens the kiss, rolling his tongue against Tony’s, huffing out a laugh when Tony growls his approval and forces their hips flush together.

Something must be in Tony’s water supply because Steve feels hungry, and the only way to satisfy it is to be filled or to fill someone. Tony seems to approve either way when they land on the carpet in a mess of limbs and slippery kisses. Steve moans when Tony’s fingers rub between his ass, teasing him through the strong but paper-thin fabric of the newest design. He throws his head back, rocking into Tony’s knowing hands, and Tony chants how fucking gorgeous Steve is, gnawing on his neck, and purposely laying his claim in the form of bright red bite marks.

They’re rolling around on Tony’s plush, white carpet, whimpering and writhing, Tony cursing himself for having such a hard time taking off the costume – that was the part of the plan he didn’t think through – and Steve laughs, breathless, moving his hips in slow grinds against Tony, urging him on.

“Fuck this,” Tony grinds out. He reaches for scissors on the table nearby and cuts through the suit, too eager to even care that this was probably the best one he’d made.

Steve bites his lip, stretching out like a painter’s dream, waiting for Tony to finally, finally, show him what all his talk has been about. And even if they can’t stay friends after this, maybe they can be something more.

Tony pounces, humming as he bites into the pale skin at Steve’s throat, and Steve just writhes beneath him, mewling with the sole purpose of making Tony move it the hell along. Steve’s hard, he’s tired, and his best friend kisses like he’s made of carnal things; sex needs to be happening and soon. He’s only had teasing and foreplay up to this point, so it seems only natural Tony would have the privilege of bringing him all the way.

They kiss for a lot longer than Steve thought they would, perhaps because Tony is worried this will ruin things like it did with Pepper, but Steve accepts this challenge. He rolls his clothed erection against Tony’s jeans, hissing when the fabric catches in unexpected, interesting places. Tony sucks on Steve’s bottom lip, bruising it when he finally starts meeting each of Steve’s movements with one of his own.

“Sir,” Jarvis says flatly.

“Not. Now,” Tony grits out. He’s been waiting to get this superhero in his bed, to pry him open like a clam, to steal his pearl away and harbour it for the rest of his miserable life. That is all he wants to accomplish, and Steve is irrefutably on board with this plan, so Jarvis needs to butt the fuck out.

“But sir, someone is—”

“I said not now!”

Steve’s eyes flutter open, cupping Tony’s face with that look. The one that tells Tony he needs to pay attention to something other than his own needs. But he is! He’s going to make Steve come so hard he’ll feel it—

“Oh dear god,” Phil says weakly from the doorway.

“Dammit, Jarvis. I thought I told you to keep everyone out!”

“I did, sir, but Agent Coulson has overridden the panels as usual,” the AI announces calmly.

“I – uh,” Phil wheezes in a breath when he notices who’s below Tony on the floor. “Cap.” He swallows thickly, cutting the eye contact he previously had. “Fury needs to speak to you, Tony. He’s on the landline downstairs.”

Phil rushes out as quickly as he came in.

“Guess we should…” Steve starts, feeling sick about the whole thing suddenly. Phil just saw his childhood hero being manhandled by the man he likes the least in this tower.

Tony runs his fingers through his hair, sighing. “Yeah. He seems pretty devastated that I touched his crush.” He straightens his clothes, and gives Steve a wry smile before leaving to find out what Fury needs this time.

Steve collects what’s left of the suit, and slips on his gym outfit. Some training would do him good (and hopefully make the blood in his dick circulate elsewhere).

 

~*~*~

 

Tony and Steve don’t really discuss that whole intense make-out session, even if Tony continues his flirty remarks when they cross each other’s paths. Steve plans household activities with Phil to make up for what happened – although it isn’t the first time he’s been with someone else – and the team seems to like them.

Poker games – which Thor pleaded for – are played on Tuesdays, the biggest loser having to do an embarrassing dare that everyone agrees on. Movie nights continue to be on Fridays, but they start sooner, last for longer, and have themes to choose from. Tony builds a pool in the gym for Natasha, and Clint suggests they have tournaments once per month to see everyone’s improvements.

When they have missions or if they go out and happen to stop a crime, they write it on the ‘badass scoreboard’ Tony set up to prove that he is – in fact – the most productive superhero.  Unsurprisingly, he’s not; it’s a tie between Clint and Phil because they spend the most time outdoors, and happen to be at the right place at the right time.

Thor starts giving the Avengers random piggy back rides on Wednesdays – which used to be their collectively most despised day of the week – and Bruce decides to test his new formula by doing the same as the Hulk.

Steve is glad to see Phil smiling again, enjoying his turn on Hulk’s back as they run around the entertainment area. If there’s anything he doesn’t want, it’s to hurt someone’s feelings with his careless actions. He’s not like this, he’s reliable and faithful. He doesn’t want to go from bed to bed in search of an accepting partner. He wants to be happy and stable.

Is there even such a thing for people like them?  That’s the question that stays in Steve’s mind during the next week.

 

~*~*~

 

Steve and Thor are flexing their biceps while watching 300 when something unexpected happens.

A silence hangs in the room, acrid and intense, begging to be shattered before one of their hearts stops beating. Thor is typically the man for the job.

 

“Brother?”

“Thor.” Loki smiles tightly, not moving from his spot next to the couch.

“Loki, what are you doing here? Have you escaped? Why have you do—”

“I have not. Calm down.” Loki sighs, pushing one of his coat sleeves up slowly.

There’s a metallic bracelet on his wrist, pulsing with a pale green light. When he approaches Thor, the green intensifies, and the pulsing morphs into a steady beam of colour.

“They have allowed you leave? But why? I was told you had another millennia in prison,” Thor’s voice softens the way Steve imagines it would with his children – if he decides to have any.

Loki is his brother no matter what he’s done to his family and the planet, and nothing seems to change that fact. Steve wonders if he could be as forgiving of his siblings if they turned on him so fiercely.

“The why is of no importance. I am here because I have been told to stay under your care,” Loki states dryly. He gazes over at Steve who frowns, his brow creased. “I assure you this is not of my choosing. I would rather not be in the home of people who captured me in the first place.”

Steve stands, pulling Thor aside to whisper to him. “I don’t want Loki here. We need to find a way to get him back to Asgard.”

“Steven! He is my brother!”

Steve nods, leaning closer. “I know. I know how much you’ve missed him. But what if he starts another war? What if he uses you? What if another city is destroyed because of him?” He rests his hand on Thor’s shoulder. “We can’t risk the lives of everyone here. You need to bring him—”

“No!” Thor shouts. “I refuse to send him back to that prison when I know all too well what fate awaits him there. They will assume he has betrayed me once more, that I care not what happens to him, and the torment will be more severe than you can possibly imagine, Steven.”

Steve’s eyes widen, never having been defied so strongly by Thor. Thor always follows his orders without protest – except wherever Loki is concerned. “And if he kills again? Then what?”

“If that time comes to pass, I will deal with my brother. On my own,” Thor snarls. “He does not deserve the treatment he will receive in Asgard, especially now that they know the truth of his origins.”

Steve tries to explain that he doesn’t mean to upset Thor, but he continues. “If even a single hair on Loki’s head is touched, by Odin I swear to you, you will not only have him to worry about.”

There’s no room for disagreement. This is where Steve and Thor will never see eye to eye, but Thor is powerful, and Steve doesn’t want to make the mistake of turning him to the wrong side.

“Fine, but he’s staying in your room.” Steve gives Loki one last long look, hardly containing his disgust.

He wouldn’t be surprised if this was all part of a ploy the Trickster set up to return to his playground on Earth. And if that’s the case, and Thor loses control of his brother, all of the blame will fall to Captain America’s shoulders for allowing it. Let’s hope Thor is right.

 

~*~*~

 

Steve spends the next hour or two (or three) explaining to the Avengers what’s happened, and asks them not to freak out when they arrive to find Loki lounging in Thor’s bedroom. Fury calls Steve the moment Phil receives the news, and, for a second, Steve wishes he could punch the agent for being so loyal.

“What’s this about Loki being in your care? And why wasn’t I the first to be informed?”

This is starting well. “I’m sorry, sir. It happened so quickly, and I had a dispute with Thor over it. It won’t happen again.”

“It damn well won’t. I don’t intend to ever keep a criminal from an alien planet in our midst again.”

“Yes, sir. I understand, but this has been approved by the authorities in Asgard. They apparently sent him here for Thor to take care of.”

“How is him being here with one Asgardian god better than him being surrounded by them?”

“I don’t know yet, but as soon as I find out, I will tell you.”

“If this can’t be helped, which it sounds like it can’t, make sure Thor keeps him on a tight leash. You got that, Captain?”

“Yes, sir. I’ll inform Thor of your orders.”

“Good.” Fury promptly hangs up, but not before Steve hears the beginning of a very colourful swear word.

 

~*~*~

 

Steve is lying face down on the living room couch when Thor picks up his feet, and places them gently on his lap.

“I have spoken with my brother. He has told me the reasoning behind his appearance. I assume you would like to know, yes?”

Steve nods his head, turning so he can almost see Thor’s expression. Thor strokes Steve’s thigh as he speaks, an unspoken pact they’ve made to never deny each other physical attention, so long as it isn’t sexual in nature anymore.

“The guards of my world were being, well, tricked by my brother. He fooled them into believing he had escaped on an almost daily basis. They could no longer handle his games, and they decided being in my care would ensure he remain on his best behaviour.” Thor laughs, shaking his blond hair. “They believe I am best at handling Loki. Is that not mad? He stabbed me between my armour with a hidden blade not one year ago.”

Steve moves his legs up to his body, shifting until his knees bump against the side of Thor’s thigh as he sits up next to him. “You don’t think he’ll listen to you?”

Thor’s shoulders slouch, his hair falling into his eyes. “I believe he is angry. With me most of all. And I cannot leave things as they are, Steven.”

Steve pets Thor’s hair, and strong arms pull him in instantly. “What must I do, Captain?” Thor hides his face in Steve’s neck, and Steve rubs his scalp slowly, hushing him when he feels a tear fall onto his skin.

Loki better realize how much he’s hurting his brother; this isn’t how Steve wants to see a god ever. That was a promise he’d made a long time ago.

 

~*~*~

 

Tony, Steve realizes, is not the worst behaved person in the tower anymore.

 

Loki is completely unpredictable, selfish, unfriendly, and a general bother for the Avengers. It makes sense that he would want to drive his captors crazy, but while trying to annoy them to death, he’s also creating weird, unexpected bonds. However, Phil and Pepper stay at least a hundred feet away from Loki at all times; they’ve heard too many horror stories from the Avengers.

Loki turns Thor’s face into unmoving cement during poker nights, making him impossible to beat. He thinks up the absolute worst dares when the time comes for the loser to suffer. (Shaving cream tastes nothing like cotton candy by the way.)  And if anyone asks him to put the same spell on them, to even the odds, he pretends not to have heard their request.

Natasha’s favourite time of the month is ruined by him. Loki enjoys filling the pool with mud or freezing it over with the ice of his parentage, to make the swimming tournaments more ‘appealing’. She comes close to begging after she swallows some of it, but his smirk only makes her want to trudge on.

Then, he changes the numbers on the scoreboard so often the team has to start keeping track of who beat up the most criminals by taking pictures of it beforehand. Tony is always happy because Loki has a penchant for giving him the biggest number each week.

On hump day, Loki refuses to make an appearance, forcing his brother to bring him meals to their shared bedroom. (Which is what he does every day anyhow, insisting that ‘mortals reek of lives poorly spent’.) Thor would give him the longest, most irritating piggyback ride if Loki ever decided to participate. But Loki is far above such infantile games, as he repeats each week.

(Secretly, Loki wishes he could get a ride from Hulk, but he’s afraid he’ll be smashed into the floor again.)

The only day that Loki behaves is on Fridays. He enjoys the themed film nights so much he offers Steve suggestions of his own during the third week of his arrival. Steve writes them down, putting them into a hat and drawing one randomly, but it always ends up being one of Loki’s ideas. That may be due to Loki’s magic, but there haven’t been any complaints so far, so Steve lets it slide.

When he isn’t wreaking harmless havoc, Loki is in Thor’s room reading books he takes from Bruce’s library (when he’s not looking). Most are about genetics and chemistry, but he finds a small pile of fiction novels which he takes a liking to. Or so Thor says; Loki doesn’t speak to anyone in the tower except to insult them.

During supper, Thor always fills a plate with extra food so he can share with Loki, but Thor’s unwelcome sibling refuses to eat most things they make. The exception to this – and there is always an exception with Loki – is the rare times Thor tries his hand at cooking. It’s not terrible, but it isn’t as sophisticated or as skilled as what Bruce or Natasha can make.

Thor can slow-cook a boar he found who-knows-where with mediocre seasoning accompanied by mead he’s learned to make himself, and Loki will eat it every time. Steve begins to wonder if it has something to do with feeling like he’s back at home, with everything just as it used to be.

Thor seems happier when he recognizes that as well.

 

~*~*~

 

Thor is completely smashed one night when he stumbles into the common room. The only people still awake are Steve (as usual, his duty keeping him up) and Phil.

There’s no filter between a god’s mind and his mouth when he drinks, which is odd because they’d always assumed that was only a human thing.

“My brother has rejected my advances,” he slurs, holding a pitcher of mead in his large hand.

Phil closes his eyes like that was hard to hear, and is still physically causing him harm. Steve squints trying to figure out if that meant what he thinks it means. He turns to look at Phil who shakes his head, eyes screwed shut.

“I’m going to bed,” Phil says flatly. “Goodnight.”

Steve is left gaping – it’s what he does best – and Thor replaces Phil on the couch, staring down into his half empty drink. Maybe Steve doesn’t want to know if he’s right. Maybe it’s best he doesn’t ask.

“I told him of my interest, and he said that I could not touch him in that way even if I were the last Asgardian in existence.” Thor hiccups, taking a long gulp of mead. “Am I repulsive so?”

Well that clears things up.

“Of course not, Thor.” Steve winces when Thor belches in his face, forgetting his manners.

“Then why does my own brother not want to share his flesh with me?”

Maybe because he’s your brother? “I can’t really answer that,” Steve says, repentant. “I don’t ever know what Loki is thinking.”

Thor chuckles, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “That is true. Perhaps he is playing ‘hard to get’ as Tony says.”

“Maybe,” Steve replies. But probably not. Loki seems to be sure of what he wants, and when he doesn’t want something he won’t waste time telling it straight.

“You are a good friend, Steven.” Thor wraps Steve in a rough embrace. “And an even better leader. What would we do without you in our lives?”

Steve smiles, his flushed skin making an appearance after a long absence. “You’d be fine. I’m just here to guide you.”

Thor’s reply is a roaring noise that sounds suspiciously like snoring. And, when Thor’s head tips back and he spills mead all down the front of Steve’s shirt, he realizes it was. Steve frowns and strips out of his shirt, grabbing a blanket from the linen closet to cover Thor with.

A voice startles him as he turns to bring it to Thor. “I will take care of that babbling buffoon,” Loki declares, sounding off-put.

The blanket disappears from Steve’s grasp, and his head starts hurting when a clean shirt appears on his body. This is more help than Steve would have liked. He can still feel the buzz of Loki’s magic against the skin of his back when he lies down in bed that night.

 

~*~*~

 

After that, Steve takes it upon himself to avoid Loki. It’s bad enough that he has to share his living space with a pompous murderer, but to have him leave traces on Steve’s skin makes him feel…strange. He doesn’t like it; he won’t let himself.

Loki, on the other hand, likes a challenge. And a challenge the unrelenting Steve Rogers is.

It has nothing to do with Captain America and his righteous battle, his miraculous comeback. It has everything to do with Steve’s stubborn yet caring duality, his anger and craving for pacifying all situations, even most that are completely out of his realm – literally.

Loki feeds off of challenges, and he’s stumbled upon the greatest one yet.

Thor is quite the opposite. He’s easy to crack open. It helps that they have history together, too. Loki simply mentions Steve’s name, and all of the leader’s habits, characteristics, deeds, flaws, hopes, dreams, experiences come pouring out like the splendid waterfall Loki expected it would.

Now he has facts from which he can draw from to pick at Steve’s scabs until Steve can’t help scraping himself raw.

 

~*~*~

 

Loki breaks into Tony’s computer feed one night, taking with him the months of footage he’s missed while he was in Asgard, busy tormenting lesser beings.

At first he expects what he sees; Tony being a child, Bruce hiding away in his lab, Clint watching them all from above, Natasha fighting non-stop, Thor being oblivious, and Steve frantically trying to fix it all. But as minutes pass and Loki fast-forwards the videos (after nearly breaking the device a few times), skipping days and weeks, he falls on some interesting events.

Natasha convinces Steve to sleep with her, and he accepts. Then Steve steps out of his comfortable boundaries and indulges a subservient fan. And the demeaning behaviour doesn’t end there. He gives his attention to a man who most definitely took advantage of Steve once they reached his bedroom, he consoles a woman who would never love him back, and he helps the doctor feel again, only to be cast aside when the doctor is afraid to go any further. The worst part, Loki seethes as he watches, is how quickly he allows Thor – the son of Odin who always, without exception, receives what he wishes to have – to take advantage of him. Thor knows not of love, of service to the person you would die for. And Steve offered himself willingly to a man so spoiled as Thor.

It almost makes Loki stop watching.

Tony’s unabashed flirting was a constant, but it reaches an irritating level, and then Loki does put an end to his self-inflicted torment.

Steve is a coward, afraid to wait, afraid to forever be alone, so he settles for whoever will have him. And evidently everyone will because he is noble and brave and…Loki destroys the video recordings with a snap of his fingers.

That is enough of that nonsense.

 

~*~*~

 

The next day it is still bothering Loki, and if he cannot erase the damage, he will have to make the source of it suffer instead.

Steve is reading a newspaper, trying to catch up on the news from when he was frozen, as he eats a toast point. Loki suddenly appears, green fog wrapped around him like a cloak. He pulls out a chair and doesn’t allow Steve’s obvious attempt at avoiding him to ruin his plan. He’s going to make the human angry, and it’s going to make Loki’s day.

“I noticed you’ve been quite the busy soldier,” Loki says, face perfectly expressionless.

Steve looks up from the newspaper, chewing slower. He doesn’t know where this is going, and, as usual, doesn’t think he wants to.

Loki waits until Steve is drinking from his glass and says, “Copulating with most of your teammates. I must say, I didn’t expect that from a man of your - what shall I say? Morals?”  Loki grins when Steve struggles to wipe the orange juice he spit onto his newspaper.

Steve is not going to stoop to a murderer’s level, not this one and not any other one. Loki is going to have this conversation all on his own, and Steve is going to pretend the Trickster isn’t there. He bites into his toast point, reading around the blotch of liquid staining an article.

“Ah. Ignoring me now? I see. I am not worth speaking to, but someone as insignificant as agent Coulson, you will proffer your lips to.” He leans over and steals the last piece of toast from Steve’s plate. “That makes perfect sense.”

Steve glares at Loki, the lines around his mouth deepening as he feels his emotions begin to stir. What is Loki to Steve? He’s nothing. He means nothing. So why is Steve letting the words get to him? He’s letting Thor’s brother get too far beneath his skin.

Loki finishes up the toast, dabbing the crumbs away elegantly with one long, finger. “Well. This was undeniably entertaining. We must do this again.” Loki laughs, low and dangerous, when Steve tears his newspaper accidentally. “And may I say, although I don’t see the appeal, I’m happy your little team likes to take advantage of you.”

 

~*~*~

 

Tony and Steve have a conversation on Skype one night that only reminds Steve of the insults he had to endure from Loki.

“Let’s see. You were with ‘Tasha in the gym, quite a few times, but she initiated that. You initiated with both Coulson and Clint, though. At least, I think you did with Clint because you shut the footage so I can’t say for sure. But Coulson is more of a prude than you, so I expected you to have to do all the work.”

Steve grumbles, but Tony just rambles on.

“Actually, I think you’re still just very shy, and see yourself like that scrawny kid deep down. You think you’re not good enough for us. Is that it?”

“No, Tony—”

“Bruce got you in the lab. Your talks were fascinating by the way. And I can see why you didn’t ask me to explain instead. I would have jumped your old bones way before the doc got the balls to.”

Steve scrolls his mouse across the screen, trying to find the ‘end call’ button, but in the meantime—

“Thor, well. Thor’s a warrior – like a Viking – and that couldn’t be helped. I’d definitely hit that if he offered. It did surprise me that you stopped Pep, though. I always thought you’d choose her over me any day. I guess a revenge fuck isn’t much of a turn-on for a man with such high morals as yourself.”

And there’s that jab again. Morals. It’s always about morals.

Steve knows what his morals are, he knows how he thinks, but people’s minds can change, they evolve. It isn’t fair to always be lumped in with people from his time when he never felt he fit in that era to begin with. Steve holds his head, hoping the end of this conversation is coming soon. Or at least for there to be a point somewhere.

“There’s still me, Cap,” Tony says, crossing his arms.

Of course Tony’s point would be about him. “There’s still you what, Tony?”

“Are you going to initiate? Or do I have to waste time and energy seducing you a second time?”

Steve finds ‘shut down’ instead of just the window closing button, and he figures that should get his point across. He’s had enough with feeling bad over wanting to make other people happy. If he knew being ignored, insulted and feeling left out would be the result, he wouldn’t have bothered. Except he knows he would have because that’s what he does – designated martyr of the house, remember?

He tries to sleep and finds that he can’t, so he goes downstairs. He ends up staring at the back of a long-haired criminal when he reaches the living room. Apparently, some murderers can’t sleep at night.

 

“Can’t sleep?” Steve asks, sitting on the far end of the couch and leaving enough space for two people between them.

Loki doesn’t answer, wanting to give the same treatment he received at breakfast days ago. Besides, he quite likes this animated program, this anime, and Steve is disturbing him.

Steve sighs, glancing at the screen for a bit longer before standing. If he’s going to be ignored by Loki, he might as well do it elsewhere. A lean, black haired character on the screen swings a giant blade, his coat hanging loose on his lithe frame.

“He kind of looks like you,” Steve says under his breath as he goes down to the gym.

Steve doesn’t see it, but Loki smiles at that. Steve couldn’t know after only watching for a moment, but that character is the hero. Loki would like to be the hero for once. Maybe he can be this time.

 

~*~*~

 

Phil is a big help with the disobedient ‘children’ now that he’s come out of his shell. Steve can even concentrate on sketching again because he has time to himself. He stays nearby, always, to make sure they don’t pick on the serious agent, and also in case Thor and Hulk decide to have another extreme thumb war. (No one leaves the room unscathed when they do.)

Steve has a dozen unused sketchbooks in his room that he’s dying to get his hands on, so he doesn’t wait for something interesting to happen. He draws what’s already marked him. He draws moments in time, like snapshots, all from memory.

The way Natasha’s smile grew when she realized she could finally trust someone; Bruce’s skilled hands and the concentration on his features when he cooked for the entire team; Phil’s uninhibited moments of appreciation for a particularly good movie (usually animated); Thor’s quiet, wistful moments when he thought he wouldn’t be able to see his brother again; Clint’s happiness once he discovered family wasn’t only linked by blood; Tony’s obvious concern for the people he never expected to need around. All of it is important, and therefore worthy of being leaked onto sheets of paper. He doesn’t leave out the harder times – the experiences he sometimes wishes he could have rewound and erased – because struggle is also a part of life after all.

Life isn’t something that’s easy to cram into one sketchbook, so eventually Steve fills the dozen with all of the drawings he’s been dying to let out. Running out of paper to draw on doesn’t mean occupying the walls – as Tony unhelpfully suggests – but buying more sketchbooks to use.

 

---

 

While Steve is out doing just that, and most of the household is gone on personal errands, Loki sneaks around the tower.

Clint’s room is barren, clean, almost too clean. They say the people with the most secrets tend to hide them the best. Phil’s room isn’t much better, but his ‘fake’ collection of DVDs makes Loki chuckle since they all know he hides his real one – any and all Pixar and Disney films – behind.

Bruce lives in his lab basically, considering he brings back giant, scientific encyclopaedias with him as his nightly reading material. (Loki assumes that must be the case since they’re on his night table.)

Tony’s penthouse is as luxurious and grand as the man believes himself to be, but Loki finds the hidden area with the videos of Howard Stark, and spends some time watching them instead.

Thor, well, Loki shares his room so that’s uninteresting (and messy). And contains no human technology for Loki to tamper with either.

Natasha has strange Russian dolls that fit into each other, one slightly smaller than the next, spread all around her bedroom. Pepper is in her room, so Loki just smirks as he passes by, to create a sense of unease in her.

Steve’s room isn’t very strange or barren, or anything besides normal, save for the stack of books piled neatly to one corner. And those are strangely intriguing in their simplicity.

Loki hasn’t missed how often Steve’s been lost in his own world, scribbling away in these books, but he never thought he would be so talented. He’s captured details that even the most experienced fighter of Asgard would miss, things Loki hadn’t noticed despite having watched so much of the security footage Stark hoards. Most are of Steve’s teammates - fighting, eating, sleeping, and roughhousing like children – but one drawing captures Loki’s full attention.

Thor is enjoying a film, probably during their weekly movie nights, and Steve is squashed between him and Tony – who insists on holding Steve’s thigh – while Natasha and Pepper share popcorn further down on the couch. Phil is in the sofa on his own with Clint seated in front of his legs on the carpeted floor. And Bruce is in the kitchen preparing another batch of popcorn. Up until there, nothing is special, really. But Loki is next to Thor, his head tilted and leaned against his brother’s shoulder, with Thor’s hand petting through the dark locks gently as Loki sleeps.

Loki doesn’t remember that happening, having consciously tried to keep his distance, to keep contact as unfriendly as possible with Thor when he’s awake. But this, with the entire Avengers team around, and even the two who shouldn’t belong but somehow do, this makes Loki feel like he needs to stop fighting against what he’s been yearning for: belonging.

 

---

 

Steve returns to find Loki seated on his bed, still admiring that drawing, his fingers tracing it lightly. He doesn’t even look up at Steve when he murmurs, “Can I keep this one? I will make a copy if you insist on preserving the original.”

Brow furrowing, Steve leans over to see which one Loki’s referring to. “I wasn’t finished yet. Can you wait?”

“I don’t see what could be missing from it,” Loki replies quickly. He looks up to find the mighty Captain America looking somewhat bewildered by that statement.

“It’s…I didn’t add the colour in yet,” Steve admits. “I was going to make a larger version of it and frame it actually,” he says, tucking his hands in his pockets.

Loki blinks slowly, and grins up at Steve when he has to break eye contact. “How long will that take?”

Steve is absolutely adorable – in a mortal, illogically embarrassed kind of way – when he’s trying not to blush. It’s hard to resist trying to rouse that reaction all the time.

“At least a few weeks.” Steve shuffles his feet.

“Pity, but very well.” Loki stands, handing the Captain his sketch and patting his chest as he goes. “I will look forward to the finished product.” He winks, just to see Steve force his eyes away, no doubt fighting to keep his skin from becoming visibly red.

Steve falls onto his bed when Loki disappears. He stares up at the ceiling for a long time, minutes passing by in seconds. He can’t decide whether it’s more shocking that Loki found his drawings and liked them or that he didn’t say a single insulting comment. Steve continues to ponder that, gazing up at the ceiling, the conversation replaying over and over, until he hears Bruce call him down for supper.

Maybe there is hope yet for Loki to change his ways.

 

~*~*~

 

“I know your ways, brother,” Thor tries to say in a low voice. “You must not corrupt precious Captain of America. He is not like us. He is not like most creatures in fact. He is pure and innocent to a degree I thought only existed in tales for children.”

“Are you telling me what to do? Because, dear Thor, you know how well that works,” Loki replies, turning the page of his book soundlessly. “Besides, if I were scheming as you are so inclined to believe, how could I corrupt him if he is as untainted and innocent as you say?”

Thor frowns, tying the last of his armour in place. He picks up Mjolnir, pointing it at Loki. “Do not attempt it, Loki. He is needed on this planet. You know what would happen if you defied me.”

“Yes, yes.” Loki waves a hand dismissively, licking his index finger to turn the page. “I don’t much want to return to Asgard’s custody.” That would prevent him from continuously making Steve blush, wouldn’t it?

Thor grunts, giving Loki one last, stern look before shutting the door.

Loki sneaks a copy of Steve’s drawing out from in between the pages of his book – he may or may not have used his magic to ease his impatience - gazing at it with the same interest he had the first time. Too bad Thor can’t see the beauty in cerebral pastimes; he wouldn’t question Loki’s newfound fascination otherwise.

 

~*~*~

 

Steve is looking at the same drawing (the original) when Thor says they have matters to discuss.

“What’s up? You seem serious today.” Steve closes his sketchbook, putting it on his dresser.

Thor squeezes the handle of Mjolnir, looking at Steve like the world is crashing around him. “My brother is going to attempt something. And I think he may try to use your kindness as a downfall.”

Steve’s brow furrows; did he miss something? “What?”

Thor stalks towards Steve, a severe crease to his brow. “Loki is dangerous, Steven. For reasons that are still unclear, he has taken interest in you. I believe he will attempt to seduce you. I have yet to find out the logic, but you must be wary of my brother. It pains me to say such things of him, but I know it to be true. He has used my own caring for him against me before.”

Someone needs to invent an Asgardian-Earthian dictionary so Steve can translate these poetic speeches. It’s bad enough he doesn’t know the lingo from this decade. “So if I understood right, you think Loki is going to try and—”

“Bed you, yes.” Thor nods once, curt.

Really?” Steve doesn’t see how hatred can skip straight over to sex, but this world is certainly nothing else if unpredictable.

“You must believe me, Steven. I wish only for your safety.” Thor grabs Steve’s shoulder, peering into his eyes with a fierceness he reserves for battle.

“Okay,” Steve breathes out, overwhelmed, “I believe you.” But that doesn’t mean he thinks it will happen. Loki is many things, but interested in Steve would be the last to come to mind. “I’ll watch out for him,” Steve adds for emphasis.

It seems to do the trick because Thor’s fun-loving smile returns, and he dashes out with a skip to his step.

 

~*~*~

 

One day, Steve sees a commercial about a body spray that makes people want to rip their clothes off when they’re around you – Axe something or other; he’s not good with product names – and it reminds him of exactly what goes on for the following weeks after he spoke to Thor. Everyone except Loki seems to be throwing themselves at Steve with renewed vigor.

Worse yet? That isn’t even the weirdest part about it all.

It’s more or less Steve’s fault – probably. He felt bad for having become a recluse – in favour of drawing and pondering his recent sexual awakening – and not spending much time with his many roommates. And so he sought to correct that by visiting them, at random, like he had before an alien prisoner showed up.

 

~*~*~

 

Tony is obsessed with finishing what he started. Steve tries to explain that he just wants to hang out, and Tony pretends like he agrees, but then he leans in extra close to whisper things, he brings Steve to fancy restaurants he could never afford, and he offers to dress (and undress) Steve on numerous occasions. And none of that qualifies as ‘friendly’ behaviour in Steve’s book.

When at last Steve feels their friendship stabilizing again, Tony trails kisses down Steve’s neck during a movie. Steve isn’t exactly against where this is going, but he would have preferred not to take this course of action. He gets into it after a moment, but apparently Tony’s suits have a mind of their own because three of them start flying around at once.

It takes the two long enough to catch them that Tony falls asleep once his body settles back into the couch. Steve doesn’t wake him; this could be a sign after all.

Steve passes the least time in Phil’s presence, so he ends up in the kitchen with him one evening. The stove catches fire, completely inexplicably, while they try to cook their favourite dishes for each other. Three times. That’s the kind of happening you pay attention to. Or, that’s what Steve tells himself when he avoids the kitchen altogether for the next few days.

Luckily Bruce can still be found outside of his lab, but the reason is because he and sneaky Clint have taken a liking to each other. Romantically one could say. And who is Steve to come between a blossoming love between fellow teammates?  They end up in ten pages of his sketchbook because of it, though.

Natasha is without her other half, and seeks out Steve’s attention. He gives it gladly, wanting to know more about the fiery redhead with the ability to turn your blood to ice with a simple look. With that said, that expression tends to shift when in Steve’s presence to something of baser human need. Arousal.

She had made it perfectly clear what she expected and why, but sometimes Steve can’t connect the threads of his mind and body, and he ends up in situations he wishes he wouldn’t be in. Like the one he’s in now, in her room watching her strip out of her skin-tight leather. He’s human, no matter what anyone says, and he has desires like anyone else. But usually he’s able to keep them restrained.

In this case, however, she is very nearly in her birthday suit when a phone call from Fury comes in for her. She stomps out of the room in a bathrobe, expecting to return, but after an hour of waiting, Steve decides she most likely isn’t.

(It turned out to be a prank call – believe it or not – someone mimicked the man’s voice and had her fly in only to be told she was mistaken. Imagine the suffering her team had to endure when she was deprived of her needs.)

Going back to drawing, Steve sketches his extended family until he’s stumped with one of Pepper’s poses. He asks her if she can model for him, for one afternoon, and she frees up her schedule just for Steve.

The robe should have been a hint. The grin on her face should have been another. The knowledge that she used to date one Tony Stark should have set off fire alarms. In retrospect, it all should have been an obvious plan.

Pepper is naked and standing in the middle of Steve’s room, holding a bottle of champagne. And, before she can even open it, it…explodes in her hands. Steve could not have made that up if he tried, regardless of his vivid imagination.

Her schedule is magically filled up for the next month.

Thor is a nuisance to most of the Avengers, but a loveable one. To Steve he is a companion, a man of honour, and out of his depth just as Steve is. They are similar in the ways that matter, but that only makes their differences seem like errors of creation.

Steve isn’t as affectionate as he could be, as Thor is, but he’s slowly getting to that comfort level. In Thor’s world though, slow does not exist. And that’s one thing that sometimes pushes them apart.

It’s awkward enough to be visiting Thor in his bedroom, but now that Loki shares it, it’s the worst.

Steve feels the back of his head being burned through with a laser-strength glare that Thor insists is only in Steve’s imagination. Thor drags Steve in by his collar to prove some point – Steve lost track somewhere around Thor’s lips touching his own – and then Thor pulls away like he’s just touched the surface of the goddamn sun. The pain across the god’s face is so striking that Steve knows he’ll have nightmares about it while he’s awake. Loki laughs softly from where he’s seated cross-legged further back on the bed.

 

And that’s when all the pieces snap into place.

 

~*~*~

 

Steve waits until Loki is preparing a snack on movie night to confront him.

“Loki,” Steve says, taking in a deep breath before continuing. “Are you the one who’s been…” Steve grasps at straws. It’s not exactly interfering. Preventing their roommates from having sex with him? But that sounds ridiculous. There must be a better way to phrase it.

“—waiting for your finished piece? Yes.”  Loki puts a quarter of butter on a plate, putting it in the microwave for a few seconds to melt.  He looks at Steve when he sighs. “Is what I’ve said fallacious?”

“No. But that’s not what I was going to ask.” Steve crosses his arms, looking down at the kitchen tiles. “Have you been doing all those strange things around the tower?”

“Define strange. Our delineations can be quite dissimilar.” Loki turns away when the microwave pings. Steve can swear he sees a smirk on Loki’s face before he does.

“I don’t know if I bother you, or if anyone else does, but you can’t do things like that.” Steve tries for an authoritative tone that only ends up sounding petty to his ears. It’s not the easiest thing to scold a god when you’re only human. When you’ve fought them before.

“If I did not know better, I would think you were accusing me of being an obstruction to you,” Loki retorts. “And that seems unlike the Captain America I’ve heard so much about.” He narrows his eyes at Steve who stands his ground, arms still firmly pressed to his chest.

“I know you’re the one doing it. But I wish you’d at least admit you’re the one behind it all.” Steve sighs, rubbing his hands together. “I was just going to ask you why my relationship with everyone bothers you so much.”

Bothers me?” Loki snaps, tearing his gaze away from Steve’s questioning look. “This planet bothers me. This country bothers me.” He grips the side of the counter, angry with himself for letting this ignorant man get under his skin. “Your team of pests could not bother me even if they tried. You, however, are a thorn that I cannot remove from my side.”

Steve’s brow furrows. Loki’s words are tinged with sadness rather than the fury he’s trying to project. His sob in the next sentence only confirms this to Steve.

“I cannot bear witness to your happiness with others while I am banished to this vile world filled with nonsense creatures and insignificant worries.”

Loki swipes a hand underneath his eye, wiping away the warm tear he couldn’t stop. It’s been a long time since anyone has made him enraged to the point of tears. Thor is usually best at that.

Steve approaches Loki carefully, but the Trickster turns around, mask of lies replacing the vulnerability. He stops in his tracks, taking in the stony look Loki insists on wearing. But it’s too late; Steve’s seen the truth.

Steve leans in to murmur, just low enough for Loki to hear, “I’m sorry. I thought you didn’t care about us…any of us.” Obviously, Steve was wrong.

“I do not,” Loki states flatly. Lies don’t devastate you, they protect you. “I cannot stand to be in the presence of two lumbering fools, constantly cheerful and blind to everyone’s feelings.” He slaps Steve’s hand away when he tries to pat Loki’s shoulder. “Do not touch me, you heartless being. Your imperfections will only seep through.”

“I don’t understand, Loki. You’re mad because I’m happy? Because they can make me happy?” Steve watches Loki intently, worrying his lip, trying to understand.

“Why must I explain everything?!” Loki shouts, shoving Steve back until he’s against the counter. “Can you not see what pains me? If I am unworthy of your attention then tell me, don’t force me to watch as everyone else claims it.”

“But you hate me,” Steve mumbles, uncertain of the truth in that once Loki’s fingers wrap tighter around his arms.

Loki shakes his head, pushing away from Steve. “So be it.” He disappears from the kitchen, and from the tower altogether.

Steve is left wide-eyed, back pressing too hard against the counter, with blue prints on his wrists where Loki’s fingers were moments ago. How could Steve know Loki was jealous? He’s always hiding behind Thor, behind books, behind stinging words that keep people at bay.

It’s true that lately he’s been less verbally abusive, but Steve couldn’t treat Loki like the others even if he wanted to. He’s not the same; he hasn’t been around for a year. He’s the one who committed the crimes that brought them together in the first place. How could Loki expect to be taken in with open arms when there is so much history following him?

Thor may be able to accept Loki lovingly, but Steve Rogers needs time to forgive someone.

 

---

 

Loki is nowhere to be found that evening. If he were too far from Thor his bracelet would change to red, and he would be immediately transported to Thor’s side. That may not be the case, but he’s far enough that Thor spends the night locked in his bedroom, pacing.

Surprisingly, Thor isn’t the only one affected by Loki’s absence. They miss the mud in the pool, his cynical laugh, his snooty expression when they tease him about liking junk food, Thor’s racing around the house when they play a magic version of tag, his smirks and grins, his insults that they have to look up in dictionaries, and his otherworldly attire that sometimes puts Thor’s to shame.

The hardest part is trying to cheer Thor up after it’s been days since Loki disappeared.

(Steve didn’t tell the god of thunder that he’s certainly the cause; he would be fried before he even finished explaining.)

Instead, Steve offers him drawings he made of Loki, half his portion of food, and brings him on quite a few ice cream runs. After a week, Thor gains some weight, but he’s still not the same. He won’t be until he knows Loki is around, that he’s safe.

 

---

 

Between the time Loki fell from the bridge and returned to Earth, he picked up a few tricks. The most useful and used of these is the ability to open up a dimension between worlds where he can be alone with himself and his thoughts.

All it takes is a flick of his wrist and he transports to that spot, that sanctuary, he created when his mind was constantly in turmoil. That’s what he did when he couldn’t deal with naïve Steve Rogers any longer.

Loki is chewing on greasy french fries, making copies of Steve’s drawing he liked so much, and ruining each of them. Sometimes by fire, sometimes by acid, other times the old fashioned way – with his bare hands. There aren’t many people who can surprise Loki, but one person seems to be the exception.

A man with shoulder length brown hair drifts into Loki’s hiding place, wearing a helmet much like Loki’s. His armour shines, the cracks and dents of usage doing nothing to the elegance and regality of it. Loki isn’t too dumbstruck to recognize an important person when he sees one.

“Loki,” the stranger calls, his armour clinking with each step he takes. “Do you know who I am?”

Loki sighs, waving a hand to make his meal and mess of paper disappear. “Should I?”

“I suppose I have been on my quests for too long. I am Balder,” he answers.

Loki tilts his head; the name sounds familiar.

The stranger stops in front of Loki. “Balder Odinson.”

Loki blinks, his lips parting into an ‘o’. “Thor’s half-brother?” Loki and Thor aren’t related, so Balder isn’t their half-brother.

“I see they told you of me. I left when you were still too young to remember.” Balder replies, expressionless. He’s almost as severe as Heimdall, and it reminds Loki of dark times. “I am your external guardian. You have strayed too far outside your boundaries. Either respect the laws of our world or I will be forced to return you there myself.”

“Although I have yet to break any rules, I am being warned?” Loki scoffs, turning his back on Balder.

“Do not belittle the judgment that has been passed. You have committed grave crimes. You have only been saved because of your relation—”

“They are not my family!” Loki snaps, his natural blue colour suddenly returning in an instance. “And if you knew anything, Balder, you would know that.”

Balder doesn’t react, but observes Loki as though what he’s said is irrelevant. “Will I be returning you to the holding cell now?”

Loki curses their family under his breath. “I will go to Thor on my own.”

“Wise choice, Loki. You’ve always been the smartest of us,” Balder says before slipping back through to the place he came from.

Finishing up his fries, Loki calms himself before leaving the safety he longs to stay in forever.

 

---

 

Before going straight to the tower, Loki searches for the one who caused this situation, and finds Steve in an art store.

“I’ve returned,” Loki says dryly, brushing the end of a paintbrush against his palm. It’s surprisingly soft.

Steve’s frame jumps at the sudden appearance, and he drops the canvas he was inspecting. Thankfully Loki uses his magic to stop it from falling to the floor and ripping.

“Thank you.” Steve picks up the canvas and puts it away. He narrows his eyes at Loki, grabbing his shoulder. He knows he can’t actually keep Loki from escaping, but he can damn well try. “Thor is worried sick about you, we’re going back now.”

“No,” Loki replies simply. He teleports across the store, looking through watercolour and oil-based paints.

“What do you mean no? Why are you here then? So I can feel worse?” Steve rushes over to where Loki is standing; people are starting to take notice of the ex-villain and leader of the Avengers having a spat.

Loki sighs, putting down the paint set. “I wanted to apologize in private before I returned to my brother. He will be insufferable once I am within reach you realize, Captain.”

“Steve,” he says automatically. Loki quirks a brow. “My name is Steve right now.” He offers Loki a sincere smile.

Loki licks his lips, suddenly feeling parched in spite of the milkshake he just ingested. “Very well,” he starts, but Steve grabs one of his long sleeves, dragging him out of the store before he can continue.

Steve stops once they’re in front of the store. “I don’t want you to apologize to me. Tell Thor instead and I’ll forgive you.” Loki’s eyebrows shoot up, and Steve laughs embarrassedly. “I feel bad enough not telling him it’s my fault you left.”

Loki shifts away, eyeing Steve in disbelief. Forgiveness? So soon? Can anyone be this good? “But I wanted to—”

“Save it for Thor,” Steve interjects, clasping Loki on the shoulder. Loki looks down at the foreign hand, feeling the same warmth Thor’s touch usually brings him.  “Can we go back now?” Steve glances at his watch to avoid Loki’s incessant stare.

“As you wish.” Loki snaps his fingers and they return to the tower.

Thor must have smelled his brother or something because he is jumping over furniture and rushing over to him, crushing Loki against him in a brutal hug. Steve slips away in the commotion, and doesn’t speak to anyone for the rest of the evening. (Except Bruce when he pleads for Steve to try his new recipe.)

Steve can’t sleep that night, and he has a feeling Loki is restless as well.

 

~*~*~

 

Tony is something else.

The other people living in the tower – that includes pesky, sleazy Clint – give Steve the space he requires to settle back into living with the god of mischief (and their awkward relationship). If Thor notices the two acting weird around each other, he’s too busy doting on his brother to pay it mind.

But Tony…he is definitely something else. That’s no doubt why Steve likes having him as a close friend, but sometimes he’s a bit trying of people’s patience.

They end up on the balcony of Tony’s penthouse after a few drinks Tony insisted Steve have (even if the effect is lost on him), and Steve enjoys the view. There’s a beautiful, navy blue sky over them, the city lights replace the stars Steve can’t see up above, and the air is warm and nice. He keeps this in his mind for later, when he can have a moment to draw once again.

“Why don’t you lie back, Cap? You can almost see stars if you do,” Tony slurs, pouring himself more scotch.

Steve decides that he likes that advice, and so he lies back, resting on his folded arms. There are tiny, sparkling dots peppered throughout the canvas of blue, but the view is obstructed when suddenly Tony is hovering over him, blowing heat and the scent of alcohol on Steve’s face.

“What are you—”

Tony presses in the rest of the way, cupping Steve’s face while he kisses him with the obvious intent of someone who wants to get laid – and fast. Steve mumbles protests against the kiss, but Tony is having none of it, draping himself more on top of Steve to silence him. Steve holds on to Tony’s back after a beat, stroking gently, decided on taking things as they come.

Can you not see what pains me?

Loki’s voice bounces in each corner of Steve’s mind when he tries to enjoy the moment.

I can’t stand to be in the presence of two lumbering fools, constantly cheerful and blind to everyone’s feelings.

Tony’s tongue swirls playfully, his hand fisting in Steve’s hair, unaware of the thoughts filling Steve’s mind. Loki couldn’t have meant those things. He lies. He always lies. That’s what he’s known for. Steve rolls them over, kissing Tony back with a bit more zest.

If I am unworthy of your attention then tell me, don’t force me to watch as everyone else claims it.

Steve pulls away, face flushed, and breathing heavier than he has in months. It’s not the kiss, it’s the discovery. Loki wants this – what he’s been doing for months, trying to find the right match – and he wants it only with Steve.

 

“I have to go,” Steve mutters, running off before Tony can convince him to spend the night. What are friends for if not understanding?

 

---

 

Loki is in the living room, plagued by insomnia again, but for another reason this time.

He didn’t think Earth had anything to offer, no matter how often Thor praised the humans and their creations. They seemed like children, infants, too young in their history to be taken seriously. But Steve, the man who is out of his depth, a stranger to the world he was born of, somehow Loki can relate to him.

Newspapers and websites don’t speak of the man behind Captain America, so Loki thought he didn’t exist. How mad must a Frost Giant traitor, an Asgardian adoptee, be to fall for the man who could arguably have anyone he chose to pursue? Loki does not appreciate celebrity or fame; family and recognition have been his values of choice. And when they could not be attained, revenge would have had to suffice.

Unbelievably though, Steve has shown Loki the strength of family – related or not by blood – and how having one important person recognize your worth could be fulfilling enough to last your existence. Sadly, Steve’s one person was far in the past now. And, selfishly, because no one has spoiled Loki or even tried to, he believed himself worthy of filling that gap in Steve’s life. He wanted to be a reason for Steve to wake in the morning.

How wrong he was.

 

---

 

Steve sits next to Loki on the couch, hair disheveled and shirt twisted and wrinkled, but otherwise wearing his usual serious expression. Loki glances at him momentarily, then away to the television, trying not to imagine what could have caused this state. It’s not his place to be jealous; he is nothing to Steve and his tricks will only amount to a more difficult living situation. It’s torture enough to have to spend the next thousand years by Thor’s side, day and night.

“Hey,” Steve whispers, crossing and uncrossing his legs. He fiddles with his shirt collar afterward, waiting impatiently for Loki to respond.

“Evening,” Loki murmurs, watching Steve from the corner of his eye. Steve hasn’t been able to stop fidgeting for a moment. “Have you insects in your trousers?”

“What? Oh, no. Just—” Steve scratches his cheek nervously. “—can we talk?”

“I believe we already are,” Loki replies smoothly, a small curl to his lips. Steve is still as adorable as ever.

“Right. Well, tell me if I got this wrong but you – you seem to like me.” Steve swallows, eyes darting over to Loki then back to his hands, wringing them together. “Am I wrong?”

Loki considers lying; it’s never failed in the past. It’s also never brought him much happiness, if his current predicament is any indication. Steve looks about ready to scrape off his own skin when Loki mutters, “That is correct.”

Steve’s mouth falls open. He suspected this may the reason they’d become so unfriendly, but he didn’t actually believe its truth – until this moment. “Really?”

“Why do you have so little faith in yourself and so much in others?” Loki replies, avoiding the question in ways only he can.

“I don’t see myself the way people on the outside do,” Steve says, running a hand though his hair to smooth it back. “But you really – you like me? You? A god?”

Loki shuts off the television, sighing. Incredulity is only appealing for so long. Loki faces Steve, green eyes trying to convey his genuine feelings for the first time in his life. Steve’s blue eyes search Loki’s visage for hints of a lie, a trick, and finds nothing but apprehension. Steve smiles approvingly, and it hurts as much as it heals Loki.

Then Loki is shifting closer, pulling Steve in for a kiss that they’ve both been waiting a lifetime for. Steve wraps his fingers around Loki’s neck, stroking his nape as Loki ventures in, tilting his head to deepen the kiss, and allow Steve’s tongue access. The moan that one of them makes (or both perhaps) startles them out of dreamland, and Loki moves away first, straightening his clothes and hair.

“Has my answer appeased your disbelief?” Loki says, voice low and filled with promises his words can’t hide.

“Yes. But I just want to know one thing.” Steve reaches for Loki’s hand, lacing their fingers together. “Is this serious? You only want to be with me? Or will you be with others, too?” This time, Steve doesn’t think he wants to share.

“I don’t appreciate the insinuation, but I will allow it this time.” Loki grins when Steve frowns at the pseudo-threat. “I am teasing as you would say. My interest lies solely in you, and I expect you to offer me the same.”

“Of course.” Steve squeezes Loki’s hand gently. “I’m an old man inside, you know. I just preserved well.”

Loki brings Steve’s hand up to his mouth, kissing the back softly. “In that case we are the same.” His skin turns to blue, and Steve watches in awe as a creature that is already so exceptional becomes even more so.

“Beautiful,” Steve mumbles without meaning to. Why would a man want to be called beautiful? “I mean - uh –”

“No, that is,” Loki hums, slowly switching back to pale skin, “pleasing. I’ve never been complimented on my natural form before.”

“I don’t see why not.” Steve smiles, a hint of red crawling across his cheeks.

Loki could write a thesis on ‘why not’, but it would ruin the moment. “Yes, well. I am glad you feel that way.”

 

And that’s it.

 

As easily as that, Steve and Loki fall asleep wrapped together in a blanket on the couch. The fire of that passionate kiss was enough to soothe the desire in both men, their insomnia merely a thing of the past.

But Steve gets the feeling they forgot something…

 

---

 

“What have you done?” Thor bellows loud enough to make the frames on the walls shake.

Steve’s eyes snap open, and then he remembers who he’s currently cuddled with on the couch. Loki peers at Steve, seemingly just as sleepy and unsure as Steve is. They can’t tell which of them he’s yelling at (more).

“Loki,” Thor continues. “Have you forgotten what we discussed? You have taken advantage of him, have you not?”

Loki sighs, burying his head in the place where Steve’s neck and shoulders connect to calm himself. He breathes in the scent he looks forward to learning intimately before biting down. Steve yelps, and Thor glares at the head of hair with no visible eyes.

He is the one who has offered me the pleasure of his company, Thor,” Loki corrects. Thor’s eyes dart to his leader’s face, eyeing him warily.

Steve rubs at his neck, looking anywhere but at Thor’s face. He is going to get murdered any second now, isn’t he? Loki laughs, face tucked too close to Steve’s skin for anyone but Steve to hear it.

Steve clears his throat. “Thor, I – I meant to tell—”

Thor is coming closer, and Steve is considering jumping over the back of the couch and running away to avoid a thundergod-style execution, but Loki is still laughing. That’s a good sign, right?

“We have already shared a kiss,” Loki adds, delighted.

Thor roars, and Steve’s face blanches at the monstrous sound. The hand reaching out must be to choke the life out of him—

Thor ruffles Steve’s bedhead. “Steven! How I am proud of you. You’ve succeeded where I have failed countless times. Loki indeed seems like a changed man.”

Thor looks over at Loki with a softened expression, a smile small enough to be missed. He cups Loki’s face, and nods, walking away with a spring in his step.

“I must share this fine news with the people who inhabit our home!”

Steve grumbles, and Loki giggles, kissing Steve’s neck where he’d bitten. “You see? You’re still among the living. He has not called for Mjolnir yet.”

Yet?” Steve croaks, going cross-eyed when he tries to look down into green eyes.

Loki smirks, untangling himself from Steve, and sauntering away to follow his brother.

“What do you mean yet?” Steve calls after the Trickster. A bowl of fresh fruit appears next to him on the couch where Loki was seated. The apple has the word ‘yet’ carved into it.

Steve’s head falls back against the couch as he bemoans his previous outcast state, wondering if he’s going to regret dating Loki for the rest of his life.

 

~*~*~

 

There are a lot of inappropriate comments and questions at first (mostly from Clint).

Clint, and secretly Natasha, are curious about Frost Giants. What does he taste like?

Does he change into a girl so it’s easier to have sex? Clint, again, curious, but this time about Loki specifically.

Phil making sure his idol is well taken care of.  Does he ever compliment you?

Is this why he disappeared for a week? Bruce, ever the perceptive scientist.

Were humans and Asgardians not good enough for Captain America? Tony, of course feeling rejected, using guilt and humour.

And the insanity continued for many more days until Thor threatened to eradicate the next person to utter a question involving ‘Loki and Steven’s destined joining’.

 

Loki still spends most of his time in Thor’s room or in common areas, but at night he creeps into Steve’s room, and they share his queen size bed. It’s the only way they’ve found to ensure they get eight, uninterrupted hours of sleep.

Sometimes Loki can’t sleep until he asks Steve what he feels, if he misses being with the members, if they were better company. It was different with each of them, but it wasn’t better. And even if Steve wanted to go back to that strange game of musical rooms he was playing, they’ve moved on.

Clint and Natasha start dealing with their sexual tension, and it makes for many noise-filled evenings in the tower. How two people can break a bed once per week will never make sense to Steve. Even Thor doesn’t manage that.

Tony convinces Bruce that sex won’t make him Hulk out, and then proceeds to scream for help when it actually does (that one time). Nothing keeps Tony from good sex though; he installs an emergency button that alerts the team of his imminent demise, and brings it with him every time they have sex – just to be safe.

Thor takes affection where he can get it (now that the two he’d take it from are involved). Phil seems to like the big, manly types, and Thor…takes where he can get. They end up in the same bed a lot, but no one asks if they’re getting serious because it doesn’t matter either way.

Pepper is all over the place, sometimes with Natasha and Clint, other times with Thor and Phil, but unfortunately never back with Tony unless she’s drunk.  Mostly she’s too busy being the best CEO in the world to have sex in the Avengers tower. (There are rumours about her and a certain god’s half-brother though.)

And when any of them need a bit of variety, they have no qualms with exchanging partners once in a while.

The strangest part of all these couples, the swapping, and family meetings in between crime fighting is that it makes sense to them.

And another oddity? The fact that Steve and Loki haven’t had sex yet. The team seems to be waiting for them to, so they can eavesdrop (and possibly film it), and it’s only making Steve push it further and further down on his list of things to do with Loki.

The drawing that brought them together in the first place is finally completed, and hanging in Steve’s bedroom where Loki admires it every night before curling up and snoring softly. Maybe they don’t need to move quickly; they can just kiss and sleep in the same bed.

That could work, right? Loki is an understanding guy…sometimes.

 

~*~*~

 

Steve kisses Loki’s forehead when he wakes up one morning. Loki hums, shifting impossibly closer, his hips moving in slow circles against Steve’s thigh. Steve blinks the sleep from his eyes, trying to focus enough to see if Loki is awake or doing it in his sleep.

“Steve,” Loki breathes, batting his eyes in a feline manner.

Steve stretches, lifting the blanket to see what his mischief maker is up to. Loki nudges a leg between Steve’s thighs, continuing to roll his hips against Steve’s hip until he feels Loki hardening. Steve sucks in a breath – anxious, nervous and excited all at once – when Loki rolls his body on top of Steve’s, holding his face in his hands.

“I have been patient long enough,” Loki explains, grinding harder now, each movement making Steve’s length have to follow along Loki’s path. “You are going to give me this because I know you crave it as well.”

Steve moans, trying to slip out from under Loki – that sound is probably enough for ten ears to already be glued to the door – but Loki continues to pin him easily, with a little help from his magic. Loki grins, scraping down Steve’s chest as he claims his mouth, tongue lapping hungrily over swelling lips.

“Loki,” Steve pleads, but the rest turns into sporadic breathing patterns when Loki dips his hand in Steve’s boxers, stroking him to full hardness.

“You were saying?”

He can’t just give in. “Loki, we can’t—”

“I beg to differ. We will, in fact,” Loki chides, gripping Steve’s erection tighter on each up stroke.

Steve bucks into Loki’s hand, gasping when long fingers press into the slit at the head of his cock. “I don’t - I don’t want to--”

“Use your words, darling,” Loki teases, sealing his lips over Steve’s, and concealing Steve’s cries with some of his own.

Loki’s magic fades, and Steve shifts away to say, “I don’t want them to hear, Loki.”

“Is that what you have been concerned about?” Loki chuckles, relieved. “I thought you were afraid I could not satisfy you.”

“Of course not,” Steve pants out. Loki’s fingers continue stroking, but with less urgency.

Pressing a kiss to Steve’s brow, Loki slides his fingers away, parting his lips and swirling his tongue around his digits obscenely. “Well, I have just the solution for our predicament then.”

They appear somewhere else, in a bigger bed with fancier blankets and softer pillows, but in the same position.

“Better?” Loki smirks, throwing the blanket over his head, sliding down Steve’s body.

A tongue traces the head of Steve’s cock, around and around, and Steve’s brain feels like it’s going to slowly ooze out through his ears. And he can’t even see Loki. Or maybe that would be worse. But it’s not fair anyhow that he’s so good at – whatever he’s doing.

“Wait – wait – where are we?” Steve manages after many painful breaths, drawing the blanket down enough to at least see hair.

Loki hums, lips stretching around the head of Steve’s cock, tongue darting out to collect pre-come. Steve mewls, abandoning the blanket in favour of gripping Loki’s hair, patting it in an attempt to distract himself from bursting at the seams.

“We are in not place they could hear us,” Loki mumbles, slurping along Steve’s cock messily, saliva trailing down his mouth. Steve reaches out to wipe it and Loki sucks Steve’s fingers instead. “You are going to enter me, Steve. I have been prepared since last night.”

Steve bites his lip, each pad of his fingers wet and sensitive. “When you say prepared…”

“I have inserted an item of considerable girth, Steve. Do not disappoint,” Loki explains, smirking when Steve’s face reddens in record time.

“I’ll t-try,” Steve fumbles out. He sits up, bringing Loki in to sit in his lap. “Did you really put something—”

Loki guides Steve’s fingers down to his boxers, slipping in the back right against his entrance filled with a rubber object. Steve mouths at Loki’s shoulder, shivering when Loki forces him to push it in further. Loki throws his head back, crying out when Steve eases it out and then in a moment later.

“Can you get on with it now?” Loki urges, hair falling in his eyes when he gnaws at Steve’s throat.

Steve pushes Loki’s bangs away, holding him just below his mouth, thumbs resting on his chin. “How do you want to do it?”

It’s insanely hot for a submissive man to finally take control, Loki decides. “Like this. I cannot bear to wait.” Loki puts his hands on Steve’s shoulders, standing with trembling legs. “Take them off. Now.”

Sliding off Loki’s boxers, Steve lifts his hips to strip off his own while Loki kicks the blanket into…nothingness. It just disappears. Steve is distracted by the, well, magic of it all, and Loki uses that to shove Steve back against the headboard.

“Remove it for me,” Loki orders, spreading his thighs. “Slowly, if you are able.”

“Okay,” Steve mutters. He doesn’t follow the lines of pale skin like he wants to; he knows how angry Loki will be if he isn’t obeyed immediately. He spreads Loki’s ass, holding the object with two fingers as he gently drags it out.

“Ah. Keep going,” Loki encourages. His nails dig into Steve’s shoulders as he pulls it out completely. “I don’t need lubricant, thankfully,” Loki jokes. “I hope you appreciate all the work I’ve done.”

“Yes,” Steve answers. “I always am.”

“Emotional during intercourse, are we?” Loki smirks, lining himself up with Steve’s cock. “Let us see if I can’t adjust that.”

He lowers his hips little by little, leaving a cluster of bruises in Steve’s skin where he’s digging in deep, fighting to not sit down faster. Steve holds Loki’s hips, tracing the bones there gently, pressing soft kisses to Loki’s bare chest. Loki’s face contorts with the need to just be filled.

“Does it hurt?” Steve asks, worrying more because he isn’t in control.

Loki looks at Steve through lowered lashes, smirking. “Not until tomorrow.”

Loki sensually drops his hips all the way down, impaling himself harshly. Steve holds in a swear word, biting his lip so hard he tastes metal on his tongue. He squeezes Loki’s hips, concentrating on the tightness around his cock, on the weight of the man in his lap, on what this means.

“This is,” Steve begins, his hips jolting up without his consent, forcing Loki to wind himself around Steve not to be bucked off.

After nipping Steve’s ear for being a naughty mortal, Loki finishes for him, “Amazing. I agree.”  He gasps with each thrust, meeting them with a grind of his hips so rough it leaves him feeling raw and achy down to the soles of his feet. He’s definitely going to hurt tomorrow, but Steve is more than worth it.

“Faster,” Loki pants, running his fingers through Steve’s hair, their chests pressed together and rubbing with each uncoordinated, powerful thrust.

Steve moves his hands down to Loki’s ass, spreading him wider to slip in and out just how he wants. Then he finally finds his rhythm, and Loki is thanking the heavens his lover is a fast learner because Steve’s hitting something inside him that makes him want to weep with joy.

“Is it good?” Steve asks. Loki cries out, nodding.

Forget words when Steve is thrusting in harder, his cock opening Loki up, sliding in and out slicker with each desperate stutter of his hips. Loki wraps his palm around his cock, tugging it at the maddening pace Steve’s set. The rough slapping sounds Loki’s ass makes when it lands in Steve’s lap is enough to make Steve come, but he wants to share this with his lover.

“Close,” Steve grinds out, fucking into Loki mercilessly, banging against Loki’s prostate on each try. Loki hides his face in Steve’s neck, sinking his teeth into Steve’s flesh when he finally comes with a startling shout. It drips over Loki’s knuckles, sticking to their stomachs as well. Steve lets himself release when he feels the clench inside Loki. He pushes in deep one last time, and stays there. Steve’s body shakes as he tumbles from the ladder he’s been steadily climbing, Loki clinging to him with similarly trembling limbs.

Steve leans back against the headboard, his eyes falling shut with the excitement of it all. Loki purrs, leaning into Steve’s strong hold, floating back down to earth while Steve pets his hair.

“When are we repeating this experience?” Loki utters, grinning against Steve’s shoulder. Steve looks at Loki, incredulous. Loki rolls his eyes and strokes Steve’s cheek, following the shape of his cheekbones and chin. “I did not mean today.”

Steve laughs, kissing the end of Loki’s nose. “Whenever you want.”

Loki quirks a brow; Steve doesn’t actually mean that. He can’t be serious.

Steve watches Loki happily, his eyes drooping with sleep. He smiles, grateful to have someone like Loki to keep him entertained. Loki chuckles when he sees the romantic side of Steve returning.

Steve clearly does mean what he said, and Loki settles in against Steve’s chest, not sure he can ever move if this is what it’s going to feel like each time.

 

Circumstances, however, always get in the way.

 

“Loki,” Balder says, unamused.

Steve gasps, reaching for something to cover them, and Loki frowns at Balder standing in his armour. Thor’s irritating brother is ruining his post-coital bliss with his precious mortal.

“I thought we agreed,” Balder continues, stern and unaffected by their nudity.

“This is Steve. He and I are intimate,” Loki explains, trying to avoid the scolding he’s about to receive. Steve hides behind his hands.

“I saw,” Balder deadpans, unimpressed.

Steve whimpers. Maybe it would have been better to just stay in the tower where Steve knows the people who watch him have sex.