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Drive Me Wild (You’re The First)

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“I knew your father,” Steve tells him, following Tony’s hands as they repair his suit.

“Good for you.” Tony doesn’t look up. “At least one of us did.”

“Don’t. Just—he was a good man. You know he was.”

“Of course he was. He was brilliant.”

“Brilliant isn’t the same as good, Tony.”

“Obviously not,” Tony says, and Steve can’t figure out whether that’s an insult or not, and if it is, whether it’s directed at him, or the beyond-caring Howard Stark, or at Tony himself.

He doesn’t say anything, for a few complicatedly silent minutes. Just watches those talented hands move, weaving renewed strength into the fabric meant to fit around his body. Protection. Defense. Armor. Tony is a genius at armor. And now he’s making armor for Steve.

“Here,” Tony says, “done, try this on,” and while Steve is shrugging out of and into clothing and trying not to glance over to see if darkly cynical eyes are watching, Tony adds, tone unhelpfully undecipherable, “He never stopped looking for you, you know. Right until the end.”

“I’m not surprised.” He isn’t. He’d’ve looked for Howard, if things had been different. If all those turning points had turned out the other way.

“You’re not? Hang on, there’s a gap in the back, I missed a spot, don’t move while I fix it.”

“I told you he was a good man.” Tony’s hand feels warm against his back. Amazing, how that heat can travel through all the layers of protection. Right down to his heart.

“So then would you be surprised,” Tony mutters, apparently talking to the suit, or maybe Steve’s back, “if I was the one looking for you?”

Steve’s heart actually skips a beat, unbidden. But of course Tony doesn’t mean it that way; he means physically, no doubt, continuing his father’s quest. Not emotionally. Not in the sappy romantic I’ve-been-looking-for-you-all-my-life way that Steve would mean it, if he turned around and said those words to Tony, right now.

“I’d…be confused. Because Howard asked you to? I would’ve thought you’d stop looking, then.”

“You really think I hate him that much? I don’t hate him. I try not to hate people; it’s depressing.”


“I was looking,” Tony says, and he’s still on his knees on the floor, at Steve’s back, but the warm hands have stopped moving, clearly done with their task, and they’ve settled into place like Tony’s forgotten he’s left them there. Those fingerprints will be seared into Steve’s skin forever.

“I was looking out of curiosity, at first. You know, wondering why you were so important to him, what was so special about an Army grunt from Brooklyn with no scientific background at all—”


“I never said you weren’t bright. Just not exactly his usual obsessions. Anyway, so I was reading up on you, on the project, on everything that happened. All his notes. He thought you must still be alive. He was convinced of it. And I thought, if I could find you, I’d like to talk to you.”

“You…wanted to talk to me?”

“Well, mostly I wanted to find out what kind of person would be so stupidly selfless as to voluntarily turn himself into an iceberg, but yes.”

Steve isn’t quite sure how to respond to that, so he doesn’t, for a second, which turns out to be a second too long. “Right,” Tony decides, and the hand at his back moves away, “you’re done. How does it feel?”

“Um. Good.” He flexes shoulders. Swings arms. Appreciates mobility. Pretends he’s not feeling the absence of warmth. “Regenerative, you said?”

“Yep. Your suit will literally heal itself. If there’s enough of the nanotech intact, of course. But, since they’re not going to be damaged by much short of a nuclear explosion, at that point you’d probably have bigger things to worry about.”

“That’s…not as comforting as you think it is.”

“Don’t get yourself blown up, then. You know, I’m still not a fan of your helmet, no offense, and maybe if I reconceptualize the—”

“Tony—” Steve puts out a hand. Catches one mobile wrist, as Tony steps in the direction of his computers and displays, glittering glimpses into that quicksilver mind. “You nearly did. You did. For us.”

“Someone had to be the hero.” Tony shrugs, grins. Doesn’t try to take his hand away, though. “Might as well be me. Fame, glory, name in lights, monuments to the fallen hero…”

“Stop,” Steve says. “You—I know that’s you, too, I know you laugh when you’re serious, I love that, but please. Right now, with me, stop.”

Tony blinks at him. “Did you just use the word love?”


“You used the word love. About me. You find my lack of seriousness charming. You find me charming.”

“I do not.”

“I thought Captain America didn’t lie. Truth, justice, and earnest puppy-dog eyes.”

“I’m leaving,” Steve says. Now. Please. Before either one of them can say anything else that might end the world any faster. “Thank you for the suit. I appreciate it.”

“So polite,” Tony says back, and he sounds almost angry, “you’re not disproving my point here, about you being everything I need,” and Steve has his mouth open to argue but then the words register and he just stands there gaping like a goldfish. In regenerative armor.

“I mean,” Tony says, now sounding slightly uncertain, underneath all the flippancy, “you just said it, about me, I laugh when I’m serious, you know that about me, you do know that about me, and this is me. Being serious. About you.”

“I love you,” Steve says.

“Of course you want me, everyone wants me, I’m a hero—”

“No. I love you. Hear the difference?”

“Since when are you the sarcastic one of us?”

“Since you need me to be. I want to be what you need. You care about everyone, even when you pretend you don’t. You said you wanted to talk to me. I like talking to you. I like you, Tony. Because you are a good man. I know you are. And…you just said us. Did you mean to say us? Because—oh.”

“…why do you taste like coffee?”

“I—mmm—there’s an incredible place called Starbucks down the street from—oh, god, Tony—wait, we’re still in your office and those’re glass windows—”

“I can see we have some catching up to do still in the area of hot beverages. Not now. Later. Steve?”

“What? Don’t stop!”

“I do like this redesigned suit on you. I do good work. Before I get you out of the suit—”

“Yes please.”

“—I did want to say something, you know. You said it and I didn’t and that’s not fair, so I’m going to feel horribly uncomfortable until we even things out again—”

“What?” The suit’s on the floor in a happy puddle of high-tech abandon, now. Steve nearly trips over it, catches his balance with both hands on Tony’s shoulders, then just holds on, and doesn’t let go. “Oh—you don’t—don’t say it just because you think I want to hear—” No matter how badly he does want to hear. If Tony’s not ready, then he’s not, and Steve can manage a lot of amazing feats, but not that one. That one has to come on its own.

He holds his breath anyway.

And Tony grins, that familiar satisfied expression that Steve always wants to kiss into breathless oblivion, but under that, something new, honest and open and entirely real. Says, cheerfully, “Jokes, seriousness, me. Okay? Good, then. I love you, too.”