"You do this on purpose."
"Of course I do this on purpose. Mind-blowing sex isn't exactly automatic, even for me. It takes skill and expertise." Tony thought maybe he should have his eyes open for this conversation, but he and Steve were both sprawled over Steve’s too-firm bed, his heart had just started to slow down, and he didn’t think five minutes of post-coital boneless relaxation was too much to ask before they got back to arguing.
"I mean you pick fights on purpose. With me. So we'll do this." Steve was still getting his breath back, which was always flattering; Tony could match supersoldier stamina in the sack, at least, if not in the sparring room. That had been one of the excuses for their latest shouting match, actually, with Tony accusing Steve of holding back in practice matches like he thought Tony was a delicate flower and Steve accusing him of being on a massive ego trip if he thought his unenhanced body could take full-strength serum-enhanced punches, blah blah so much for respect between teammates, Cap blah blah I will not enable your death wish, Tony, nothing they hadn’t been over before. It was hard to remember the details, much less care about them, when Tony was floating in a blissed-out haze.
"That's ridiculous. Also accurate," Tony said, because clearly he was busted and most of the higher brain functions that would've let him think of a really convincing deflection were still offline. "Are you complaining?"
"Not about the result." Steve rolled his head to look at Tony, the movement slow and relaxed. He always got sleepy after sex, like it was the one form of exercise that could actually tire him out. "The method could use some work."
"What would you suggest?"
"You could just ask me."
Tony snorted. "Oh, sure. I should just ask you if you feel like having hate sex?"
"It's not hate sex," Steve objected. "I don't hate you."
That actually made Tony feel a little warm and fuzzy inside, which he knew was pathetic. He talked louder and faster to cover it. "Angry sex, then, whatever. I should just walk up to you and say 'Hey, Rogers, I was looking to blow off some steam, wanna have loud, animalistic sex all over the Tower?' That's what does it for you?"
A flush was creeping up his neck--God, Tony loved Steve's blushes, the Victorian-maiden-modesty veneer over the built-like-a-brick-shithouse physique drove him wild--but Steve's eyes were steady on his. "Try it and see."
Tony looked away first, turning his head to stare at the ceiling. "I'd rather just attack your mouth with my mouth."
A few minutes later, Steve started to snore. Tony let himself enjoy lying there, Steve stretched out and peacefully asleep within arm’s reach, for longer than he probably should have before dragging himself out of Steve’s bed and back to his own floor.
One week later, Tony had been up for thirty hours straight on an engineering binge that resolved, suddenly and brilliantly, in a flash of insight that came while he was chasing Dummy around the lab trying to retrieve a stolen screwdriver (Tony could have gotten another, he had literally hundreds of screwdrivers just in his main lab, but that was his favorite screwdriver and no tin-can bot was going to separate them for long).
The excitement of finding a solution left him too wound up to sleep, even after he spent another half hour triumphantly building a working prototype. Fortunately, Tony knew of one sure-fire way to dispel the adrenaline. Well, okay, he knew of a few ways, but Barton was on a mission and thus unavailable for an all-night Super Mario Smash Brothers marathon, and Tony had gone four months now without drinking himself to sleep and if he held out for three more weeks he'd set a new record, so athletic super-soldier sex was really his best option. It was the responsible thing to do.
Also he hadn't seen Steve in three days, and maybe, just maybe, Tony missed his stupidly handsome face. And his voice. And his smile. Nobody could blame him, Steve’s smile was toothpaste commercial-worthy, seriously, Crest and Colgate marketing reps would fight to the death gladiator-style for the right to plaster Captain America’s pearly whites over their packaging.
And wow, Tony really needed to sleep if his mind was wandering to toothpaste death fights. Time to put Exhaustion Protocol (subtype C, designation Capsicle) into effect.
Steve was in one of the larger gyms, a room with a padded floor and walls where the Spy Assassin Twins practiced tumbles and falls and Thor practiced wrestling with whoever had most recently lost a bet. Steve was repeatedly running up a wall and doing back-flips before landing on his feet, weight perfectly centered.
Tony watched the show for a few appreciative moments, then knocked on the door frame to announce his arrival. "Barton been showing you parkour clips on YouTube again?"
Steve twisted mid-air like a cat to land facing Tony, sticking the landing perfectly, the show-off. "Hey, Tony." He grabbed a towel, the movement easy and relaxed. Good, this wasn’t one of his punch-the-feelings-away nights. On those nights it was better to wait until Steve exhausted himself, then wander in with an extra cup of coffee, babbling on autopilot about whatever engineering projects he was working on until Steve’s shoulders came down from around his ears and he lost his thousand-yard stare. Tony thought--hoped--those nights were getting fewer and farther between.
"Hey," Tony said.
"What is it?" Steve looked alert, like he was expecting a mission report even though it was past 3:00am and Tony was wearing grease-covered jeans and an old band shirt.
"So this is me attacking your mouth with my mouth," Tony said, and stretched up on his toes for a kiss.
He had meant to open with the same kind of clashing, bruising kiss that had always signaled the turning point between fighting and fucking in their previous encounters, but this was Steve, all exertion-flushed and rumpled and adorable, and Tony couldn't resist taking his time, going slow, savoring the glide of Steve's plump bottom lip between his own. It was new for Tony, being this close to Steve when neither of them was naked or glaring or both. It was...nice, he thought, firmly suppressing sappier adjectives. Very nice.
"Attacking, huh?" Steve murmured, when they finally broke apart for air.
"Yep." This was getting uncomfortably tender, so after an indulgent squeeze of Steve's ass, Tony shifted gears and bit the meat of Steve's left shoulder, hard.
Steve groaned, grabbed Tony by the hips, and slammed him up against the padded wall. Tony's vision whited out briefly as all the blood in his body rushed to his cock, but that was cool, that was fine, that was an acceptable loss. Who needed sight anyway when mind-shattering lust was available as an alternative?
When his vision cleared Steve was still pinning him against the wall, but now looking a little concerned, possibly because Tony had groaned like he was dying. "Tony?"
"Green," he said immediately. "So green," and reached out to rip Steve's tank top right off his perfect, sweaty chest. The fabric was worn--and practically translucent, thank the saints above and all their heavenly trumpets--and it tore easily under Tony's eager hands.
Steve grinned and grabbed the collar of Tony's Iron Maiden shirt, clearly planning to retaliate in kind. Tony smirked, because this was one of the shirts he had treated with an experimental armor enhancement solution, so even though the fabric looked worn out and fragile, its strength and resilience were closer to layered kevlar than cotton. Steve could pull all he wanted, there was no way that--
The shirt ripped cleanly down the middle with only a small grunt of effort from Steve. Huh. Well. That was--he was going to have to update his research notes, for one, and for another--
"Let me down so I can blow you."
“C’mon,” Tony whined, drumming his heels against the backs of Steve’s thighs while Steve mouthed at his collarbones. “I can’t believe you’re turning down a blowjob, that’s like turning down a puppy, or a Picasso, or ice-cream in July--”
“Stop talking.” Steve followed the command with another slow, melting kiss, because it had only taken one encounter for Steve to learn that the only way to shut Tony up was to offer his mouth something more interesting to do. Steve’s top-notch strategic mind was one of the sexiest things about him. Tony hadn’t been keeping a rank-ordered list--well, not officially, he hadn’t written anything down and he was pretty sure JARVIS disregarded at least 90% of Tony’s instructions if they were about Steve--but it was definitely in the top fifteen.
They worked their way through about half of the unofficial Sexiest Things About Steve list over the next hour, including but by no means limited to: the noises Steve made when Tony raked his fingernails along his back just hard enough to sting; the way Steve’s huge hands cupped Tony’s head like it was something unimaginably precious, even while Tony was doing his level best to drive Steve out of his mind with his mouth; Steve’s abs (enough said); and the look of shocked awe Steve always got when he came, as though he couldn’t believe anything could feel so good. Tony loved that look, even though it made his chest ache every time he saw it. Steve was Steve , honorable and kind and honest in a way Tony had only seen before in Jarvis, Pepper, and Rhodey, and it was incredibly unfair that just feeling pleasure was enough to astonish him. He deserved better. He deserved--
“JARVIS,” Tony wheezed, rolling onto one elbow. “Remind me to buy Steve a pony.”
“Tony.” Steve was still lying face-down, his stern tone undercut somewhat by the way the wrestling mat muffled his voice. “I do not need a pony.”
“Fine.” A pony was a ridiculous idea anyway, Tony realized; there was no way a pony could support Steve’s weight. He clearly needed a stallion. Tony’s excellent imagination conjured up an image of Steve dressed in a riding habit like some Austen hero, trotting around the moors looking noble and crisp and unapproachable, and the rest of his mind short-circuited briefly.
Unavoidably, though, he came back to himself enough to realize he was sticky, naked, and rapidly heading towards uncomfortably chilly. He should put on clothes, except that would involve moving, and also his shirt was dead. Tony looked at the tattered remains of his beloved shirt with more satisfaction than regret. It had died the way Tony himself wanted to go someday: sacrificed in the name of sexy, sexy science.
Eventually Steve stirred, rolling to his feet and stretching his tree-trunk arms above his head. He shuffled out of sight, picking clothing up off the floor.
Tony’s boxers landed on his face, which he took as a hint. Standing was still out of the question, so he pulled them on without getting up. Steve stood over him while he did, hands on his hips, then squatted and scooped Tony into his arms.
Tony absolutely did not yelp and cling to Steve’s shoulders at the unexpected movement, although it was possible he gave a manly grunt of surprise, like a startled lumberjack. "What are you doing?"
"You need a shower." Steve walked out of the gym and carried Tony to the elevator.
"You coming in with me?" he leered on reflex.
Oh. Well, all right then. Tony looped his arms around Steve's neck and rested his cheek against the solid muscle of his chest, content to be carried to Steve's apartment.
They exchanged lazy hand-jobs in the shower. Tony rubbed shampoo into Steve’s hair, Steve soaped his back, and Tony was a little alarmed by how domestic it felt to trade easy touches and rinse off in comfortable silence. This wasn’t part of any script Tony knew, but Mr. Star Spangled Man with a Plan seemed to know what he was doing, and Tony wasn’t averse to going with the flow when that meant extra time in close proximity with a naked, dripping Steve.
After they got out of the shower and toweled off, Steve handed Tony a t-shirt and clean sweatpants before pulling on his own. Tony put them on, because they were soft and smelled like Steve and self-restraint had never been one of his virtues, but he did squawk indignantly when Steve tripped him neatly onto the bed and rolled down after him, yanking a quilt over them both.
"Now what are you doing?" Tony asked, edging to the other side of the bed.
"We are going to sleep." Steve sounded exasperated, which was familiar, and fond, which was not. One of his ridiculously long arms snaked out and caught Tony’s shoulder, pulling him closer.
"Is this cuddling?” Tony demanded. “Are we cuddling right now? Rogers--"
"Steve, you don't cuddle after hate sex--"
"Not hate sex."
Tony threw up his hands and winced when his knuckles smacked the wooden headboard. "Angry sex. Whichever. Either or. The sexy, sexy semantics are not the point. The point is, whatever we’re doing, you don't cuddle after it."
"Yeah?" Steve slung a leg over Tony's hip and tucked him more snugly against his side. "Watch me."
And so Tony fell asleep with Steve's chest under his ear, Steve's steady heartbeat sounding a lot like home, safe, home.