It should have been a nice team dinner.
That was all. That was the plan. It had been a long time since most of the team was in the same building, and Steve had thought, foolishly, that they could eat together and maybe watch a movie after if everyone decided to stick around that long.
They were civilized people. Sure, after Ultron, things had gotten fairly tense: Thor spent most of his time in Asgard, Bruce was nowhere to be found, Wanda was grieving, Vision was still getting used to this world, Clint only stayed in touch by talking to Natasha, and Tony… Tony barely showed up once a week, and only to throw a flat ‘Hello’ at them before locking himself up inside the facility’s workshop. So yes, Steve’s teammates weren’t exactly on good terms with each other, but surely they could manage to spend a nice, easy evening together, right?
Oh, most definitely wrong.
“This is all your fault,” Steve pointed out before he flopped down onto the couch.
Tony snorted as he glanced up at him. “No, it isn’t.”
It definitely was. At some point last night, Tony had called for a drinking contest, and the rest, as they said, was history.
Which meant: They were drunk. Very very drunk. And with ‘they’, he meant everyone. The whole team.
Everyone including Steve.
His head was thrumming, the room was spinning all around him, and Steve really had forgotten what being truly drunk felt like.
There wasn’t much he could do about it now. And anyway, he’d thought that one night wouldn’t hurt. Just one little night of not brooding about Sokovia and the constant absence of four of his team members, and the burden of leading the New Avengers all on his own.
Of course, he hadn’t meant to get drunk, but one thing had led to another—mostly because Tony could be really darn persuasive… and charming… and likeable… if he wanted to be—and now, here he was.
“Uh,” Steve said, when he noticed Tony staring at him. “What?”
“You’re drunk,” Tony stated, sounding more than a little awed.
Steve chuckled, taking in the spinning living room. It was true. He was indeed drunk. And he couldn’t bring himself to feel too bad about it. Not when Tony and Clint and Natasha and Thor were all here, almost like old times.
So instead of arguing, he just nudged Tony’s shoulder with his own. “You’re just as drunk.”
“Let’s have one more, friend,” Thor suggested, offering another small glass full of a golden liquid. Thor’s mead was lethal—and yet, Steve took it, clinked glasses with Thor, and downed the whole thing in one go. It burned down all the way to his stomach, hot and sharp, leaving a taste of honey in his mouth.
“Look how happy he looks,” Tony said, almost giggling. “That’s not very Captainish of you. You’re slipping, Rogers.”
Steve couldn’t help it. He smiled broadly. Tony, with his little jabs and crooked grins and… Steve vaguely remembered how much the guy’s eccentric behavior had annoyed him once, but he couldn’t bring himself to go back there. Not after everything.
“Thor’s mead,” he said, as if that explained anything.
Eventually, though, Steve had enough and tried to raise himself to his feet. Which was a bad decision. Body swaying, he let himself flop back down onto the couch. He blinked a few times as the room grew hazier. “I should probably go to bed.”
“Oh, come on! You’re a spoilsport,” Tony whined and his hand gripped Steve’s sleeve. Their fingers were touching, lightly at first, before Steve closed his fingers around Tony’s palm.
A warm fuzzy feeling gripped Steve’s heart. Ever since the mess with Ultron, he and Tony had been sort of… politely distanced whenever they talked. This—here, even though it was only a result of drinking too much, was oddly nice.
“You should call it a night, too,” Steve told him, casting Tony an easy smile.
“No,” Tony murmured, looking for a moment as if he was really gonna argue with Steve. On the next beat, however, he yawned and sagged forward a little. Then, a little more. Eventually, his eyes closed. “Don’t want to,” he added with a slurred voice and as he spoke, he somehow leaned sideways even further, until his head was basically lying in Steve’s lap.
“Uh,” Steve said, hands withdrawn. He looked over to the others. “Help?”
Clint rolled his eyes, and gave Tony a quick prod with his outstretched hand. “C’mon, rise and shine, Stark.”
“Five more minutes,” Tony mumbled, nuzzling even deeper into Steve’s crotch.
Oh heck. Steve felt heat rising to his cheeks.
Natasha snorted, looking at Steve as she stood up. She only swayed slightly on her feet, which was terribly unfair since she had certainly drank the most, winning three out of three of Tony’s contests. “Well, we’ll leave you two to it.”
What? Steve stared at them owlishly. “Guys—”
“Sleep well, my friends. It truly was a memorable evening,” Thor told Steve, clapping his shoulder as he walked by. On his way out, he picked up a sleeping Sam, steadying Clint with his other hand.
“Five more,” Tony murmured, “then I’ll…”
Then he snored softly, drooling a little on Steve’s pants.
Steve shook his head as he looked down at Tony. “And that’s the man that counters my every word on a regular basis.”
A soft sigh, and Steve let his fingertips move through Tony’s already mussed up hair. It was very soft, and slightly curled in Tony’s nape. A haircut was clearly due soon, and… this really wasn’t any of his business.
Drawing his hand back, Steve shook his head at himself. Being around Tony Stark was often maddening, in very different ways. The man got under his skin, and now, being as drunk as he was, Steve could admit to himself that he’d really missed him in those last weeks.
Tony mumbled something in his sleep, and Steve thought, He has a real pretty mouth, too.
As soon as the thought registered, Steve’s eyes widened and he shook his head to get the accompanying images out. “Goddarn mead,” he murmured.
He reached for a blanket that was draped over the backrest of the couch, feeling light and weightless. “You owe me,” he whispered, face scrunched. He pulled the blanket around them both and pressed up against Tony’s side. “Just a little shut-eye, then we’ll go to our rooms,” he said.
And you’ll go back to ignoring me as best as you can, Steve thought to himself, then drifted into unconsciousness.
* * *
The alarm blared, loud and harsh and… very very loud. The noise didn’t just echo within the room, but also inside Tony’s head.
“What,” someone said, and Tony jerked upwards, wild eyed. It was still dark outside, pitch-black, and the clock on the television read 4 a.m. Which meant he had barely slept two or maybe three hours.
Curiouser still, there was someone lying underneath him, and after the blinding light of absolute torment had lifted slightly, Tony realized that it was Steve. Steve—who was, by every sense of the word, wrapped up around Tony. His legs were tangled up with his, his arms curled around Tony’s waist, his face positioned against the crook of Tony’s neck.
“Uh,” Tony said, leaning back a bit as he stared down at Steve. Steve was staring back, his eyes equally large.
After a very confused moment, the previous night came rushing back to him.
He’d visited the new team at the facility, wanting to work on a few of their weapons and uniforms. Initially, he’d planned to go down to his workshop, come back up a few hours later, and drive back to Manhattan in peace, but Steve—Steve with his huge blue Disney eyes—had asked him to stay a little, and Tony had always been unable to say no to him.
So they’d had dinner together, and even Clint and Thor had been there. The latter had brought two barrels of mead from Asgard, and for some reason, Steve had agreed to have ‘one drink before he’d go to bed’.
One drink had turned into… a whole lot. And Tony, well… he’d had a hard time remembering when he’d had that much fun in the last months. The answer probably was: Not. Even Steve had laughed, loud and carefree, had made jokes that were far too dirty for Captain America, had even talked to Tony like Ultron hadn’t driven a sky-high wedge between them.
It had been a nice evening. And apparently, he’d fallen asleep here, on the couch, and more importantly: on Steve.
And now, the goddamn Avengers alarm was echoing all across the room, reminding him how very much he wasn’t a part of Steve’s life anymore.
“Cut it, FRIDAY,” Tony yelled, and on the next beat, the shrill sounds stopped.
“Oh thank God,” Steve exhaled, closing his eyes as he pressed two fingers each against his temple. He looked pained, like he had the world’s worst headache, which… well, he probably had. “I—I have to go.”
Right, alarm meant mission. Avengers mission. Superheroes to the rescue.
“HYDRA?” Tony suggested.
Steve cast him a look that spelled, When is it ever not HYDRA?
“There appear to be several attacks in Lower Manhattan, sir. Several men have breached the science division of Oscorp Industries,” FRIDAY supplied.
“Right,” Tony amended. “Aren’t you still drunk?” He sure did still feel lightheaded.
“I...” Steve’s nose scrunched up adorably. “I don’t think so. Serum’s quick, but I’d have to go no matter what.”
“Well then, do your thing,” Tony said with a clipped voice. God, he really hated this.
Steve glanced up at him again, staring as if he tried to read Tony’s mind. “I never asked you to quit,” he said after a beat. “This was your decision, remember?”
Tony’s jaw clenched. “Yes, and I stand by it.”
There was another beat of contemplation, something heavy in Steve’s eyes that Tony wasn’t quite getting, then Steve nodded.
Realizing that Tony was still very much plastered to Steve’s chest, he sat up, giving Steve the room to stand up.
“Be safe, honey,” he called after Steve, forcing a broad grin to his lips when Steve stopped, stiffening. He cast him an unimpressed look over his shoulder.
“Very funny,” Steve murmured and Tony watched him reach for his shield, before he ran out of the room to be Captain America.
* * *
It was indeed HYDRA. And after about half an hour, Tony got his emergency call.
They had this… agreement. Tony didn’t usually go out and fight with them, but whenever it got really bad, Steve would ping him, and he’d suit up and follow them onto the battlefield.
Today, it was bad.
As far as they knew, the remaining groups of HYDRA scientists weren’t all that clever or powerful, but half of the Avengers were still utterly wasted, and HYDRA was about to launch an attack that might very well destroy half of Lower Manhattan. So Tony stepped into his newest Iron Man suit that he might or might not have stared at for the last twenty-nine minutes, and rushed to the scene.
He divided his time between scouting the area and making sure that none of his teammates got fried by HYDRA’s laser guns. Circling right above Steve, Tony caught movement at one of Oscorp’s smaller labs, on the outskirts of the compound. A few dozen men were running out of the building, shouting at each other with frantic movements. From what Tony could see, most of them were wearing the typical HYDRA ensemble.
“Cap,” Tony called. “On your six.”
Below, Steve turned around. He followed Tony’s line of sight, and on the next beat, he started running.
Tony directed the suit down to him, and quickly scooped Steve up with a grip around his middle, and flew him over the last remaining buildings.
“A bomb?” Steve asked, slightly out of breath.
“My thoughts exactly,” Tony agreed. Blowing up Oscorp’s labs might be huge disaster. Even Tony didn’t know what the guy was cooking up in there.
Once they stood in front of the now deserted labs, Tony followed Steve through the entry hall to bring all of this to a close. Tony pried the steel door that led to the laboratories open and raised his gauntlet. “So much for a quiet, normal night,” he told Steve with a casual tone. “Not if you’re me. Thanks guys for respecting my retirement wishes.”
He didn’t miss the flash of exasperation that colored Steve’s features. “Says the man who hollered ‘Take this, HYDRA scum’ about ten minutes ago.”
“I…” Tony huffed. “I get carried away.”
“You were having fun,” Steve told him. “You always do whenever you fight with us.”
Tony bit his lips and said nothing. His headache was still very much killing him, but apart from that… Steve might be right. He was having fun.
The march through the corridors was slow. They checked every door for some lead on what HYDRA had done in here, but there was nothing to be found. When they reached the last doorway, there was a loud humming sound, followed by a steady beeping.
A sigh rolled off Tony’s shoulders. “There we go.”
Steve nodded, then disappeared inside.
Tony shuddered slightly as he crossed the threshold into pure darkness. With his gauntlet’s lights, his eyes adjusted quickly, even if there was nothing to see. Only line after line of server racks. There was no members of HYDRA—nothing to suggest someone had been wreaking havoc in here. And no bomb.
It took a few minutes, but they ultimately conceded the fact that they weren’t going to catch anyone here, and instead of creeping around and pretending to be stealthy, they decided to throw all their cards on the table. Tony took off his helmet and looked around. One of the server racks was blinking rapidly, and when they neared it, there was no doubt that someone had recently uploaded a few files here.
“A virus, then?” Steve asked, frowning.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Tony said.
He knelt in front of the ceiling-high rack and went to work. He downloaded all the files to his suit, forwarding them to FRIDAY’s servers at the same time.
His head was still killing him, and every inch of him felt off balance and slightly wobbly. If Steve was still drunk, he surely didn’t show it. He stood guard next to Tony, switching between staring down at the rack in front of them and letting his eyes wander across the room.
And the walls betrayed nothing.
“They’re retreating, guys,” Natasha said via the comm-line.
An instinctive twist in his gut told Tony that HYDRA’s game was nearing its end. He tensed slightly; aware that every hair on his arm was sticking up.
“Means they got what they wanted,” he said eventually and heard Steve sigh next to him.
“Yeah, I know. Any ideas?”
The download was finished, and FRIDAY’s analysis came in seconds later. Tony huffed. “The newest files are garbage. All of it. Maybe they just wanted to distract us with this?”
There was a rustle above them.
“Or it’s a trap,” they both said at the same time, and Steve was about to raise his shield above them, stepping closer to Tony, but it was already too late.
It happened so fast. So freaking fast. And Tony purely blamed their recent drink-fest on the fact that neither of them was quick enough to dodge those tasers shooting towards them. Something hit Tony’s neck, right above the suit, and a surge of electrocution went through his limbs. He heard Steve grunting next to him, but couldn’t check if he’d been hit, too. The sensation of being dragged off his feet commenced a dizzy spell… then the room went spinning. In a fury of quick movements his body twitched on the ground.
Suddenly, he could see nothing, but his other senses were going haywire. Someone had stepped up next to him, pressing some sort of cloth onto his face. The smell of wafting chloroform tickled his taste buds and the harsh breath at his ear smelled of foul teeth.
“Tony!” he heard Steve yell, and when the cloth was removed, Tony had a brief moment when he saw Steve thrashing against someone furiously. There were six electrode darts sticking in his chest and neck, and Tony could see him losing the control over his body. Their eyes met and Tony felt something hard fall within the pit of his stomach.
That might be it. And for some reason he couldn’t grasp, he felt a deep sort of regret wash over him as he stared at Steve.
The impression was brief and the thought never quite registered in his mind. He was only aware of Steve trying to grasp his wrist as someone pulled Tony roughly to the door. Then everything went black.
* * *
“Hey, super-soldier!” There was a voice. “Cap! Wake up!”
A groan left Steve’s lips and he turned around somewhat, trying to get away from whoever was yelling at him.
“Really?” the voice gritted out. “Hey, come on. Steve!”
Steve. Blinking, Steve tried to will the fog around his mind to clear. The voice belong to Tony, didn’t it? Why was Tony calling for him? And where was he? What had happened?
As soon as Steve managed to open his eyes, however, there was a surge of pain—a throbbing in his head, and for a moment, he felt as if he couldn’t breathe. The room around him was white all over. Walls, floor, everything. And when he tried to sit up, something around his wrists was keeping him down.
“What…” he asked when he realized there were shackles. Really big shackles around his hands, tying him to the wall in front of him. “What’s going on?”
“That’s the one-hundred dollar question,” Tony said, sighing. “Hate to say it, but I think someone kidnapped us.”
Steve turned around to him, then, twisting his arms even more painfully. Once he got a good look at Tony, however, he was confronted with a very very unexpected sight.
“Tony?” Steve asked.
Tony raised a brow. “Yes?”
“Where are your clothes?” Once the words were out, Steve’s eyes darted down to his own body, seeing what he already knew he’d be seeing. It wasn’t just Tony—Steve was naked as well.
“What the hell’s going on?”
“As I said: We were obviously kidnapped,” Tony explained. “It’s not my fault.”
Steve groaned. This was going to be one of those days, then. “I know it’s not your fault, just… What do you remember?”
“Well, not much.” Tony shrugged—at least he tried to, because his hands were bound to the wall as well. “We fought HYDRA, then I woke up, tied to you.”
It was true. The chains weren’t only connected to the wall—they were also connected to each other. Once Steve moved, Tony had to move as well and vice versa.
“Do you know this place?” Steve asked, and turned his back to Tony, trying to shield at least some of his nudity. There wasn’t much to see in this room, though, only a few shelves with several containers that were far out of reach. “We’re not in the Oscorp lab anymore, are we? Any of the registered HYDRA hideouts?”
“Maybe, can’t really tell from here.”
Impatient, Steve said, “We should get out.”
Tony snorted. “Really? Well, now that you’ve come up with that very great plan of yours, all will be fine.”
Casting a glare at Tony, Steve nodded towards the chains. “How about we start with opening these.
“Now that’s more like it,” Tony said. “Let’s go. You should be able to break it easily.”
“Yeah,” Steve said, and resigned himself to the sheer humiliation that’d be following from here on out. The shackles looked sturdy enough, so he’d need to give it his all—while being butt-naked.
Well, dignity was a foreign concept in this business, Steve had learned that early on.
For the next several minutes, Steve used every ounce of his strength to get them free. Tony had to move to the middle of the room, right to the point where the chains were connected to the wall, so Steve would have full scope to get them out of here. And still—it was no use. The metal remained stubbornly intact—and decidedly unbent.
Steve sighed. “Whatever they injected me with, I think it messed with my strength.”
“Okay, let’s see.” Tony twisted around and inspected the chain. “It doesn’t look very strong, all things considered. But I don’t know what’s in that wall. I don’t know—maybe we should try and pool our strength at the center—”
“Our?” Steve raised a brow. “No offense, Stark, but—”
“I’m not sure you’ll make much of a difference.”
Tony scoffed. “Thanks very much.”
“I don’t mean to be insensitive, if you had the suit with you—”
“Yeah, I get it okay? I’m nothing without the suit. I heard you loud and clear the first time.”
Steve groaned. “That’s not what I meant at all. Do you always have to do that? Twisting my words however you want?”
“Just let me try, okay?” Tony asked. “The faster we get out of here the faster we can forget this ever happened.”
Steve sighed. “Sure. And you can go back to hiding in your tower.”
Tony huffed, staring at Steve. “Is there something you want to say to me?”
“Nothing that would matter to you.”
“Fine,” Tony spat, and turned around to face him. Unintentionally, Steve’s gaze dropped, taking in Tony’s lean body, the scars on his chest, and his…
Okay. Get it together, Rogers.
“Alright, here’s my plan,” Tony announced, pointing towards his current position. “It’s all a matter of the angle we’re using. If we both pull from the same point, right here, I’m sure it’ll break.”
It took a moment until Tony’s words made any sense to him. He wanted… he wanted Steve to lie down on top of him?
Tony sighed, probably reading his expression correctly. “I know, okay? Let’s just… go about this like adults.”
Steve answered with an eye roll. He watched as Tony lay down on his back and glided his chain around Steve’s. Carefully, Steve positioned himself on top of Tony, keeping contact at a minimum.
He leaned toward him. “Alright. On your mark.”
Scowling, Tony started to pull. Within minutes, both of them were breathing heavily and it didn’t take much for Steve to realize that this was… bad. Really bad. They were basically grinding into each other, writhing and pushing and pulling and…
God, Steve was getting hard.
He couldn’t figure it out. Tony’s attractiveness wasn’t anything new to him—but now, his writhing, sweat-sheened body did things to Steve’s heart he couldn’t quite believe himself.
This whole situation more humiliating than anything Steve had ever experienced and his body was reacting in all the wrong ways. Steve tried to calm down, but it was damned hard with Tony breathing against his skin, and the way he was grunting with each move he made.
“Come on,” Tony said, as he pulled at the chain once more. “Are you even trying?”
Steve nodded, pressing even further down with the effort. Tony groaned as he pulled, his chest arching against Steve’s, and that was just—
It was too much. And apparently, Tony had felt it, too. His erection stabbed Steve’s thighs, and both of them froze, staring at each other awkwardly.
“Could you please stop moving like that?” Tony murmured.
Steve huffed. “If I don’t move, none of us will get out of here.”
He noticed Tony was blushing. Swallowing, he nodded. “Come on, one more time. The thing has to budge at some point.”
Steve frowned at the utter despair in Tony’s words, but nodded. Together, they pulled, muscles tensing, grinding into each other even more. And it was futile—had been from the start. Once Tony arched into him again, once their erections aligned fully, rubbing against each other, Steve’s grunt turned into a drawn-out moan.
The sound had both of them stop, and Steve could only stare down at Tony, knowing there was no excuse for this—no way to pretend this wasn’t exactly what Tony thought it was.
Because—God, he wanted Tony. And it seemed, for some reason, Tony wanted him, too.
Held in thrall by those piercing brown eyes, Steve found himself saying, “We… shouldn’t.”
Tony just stared up at him. And Steve knew, then, that the look in Tony’s eyes would likely remain with him for a very long time. It was so singular—so completely Tony in a way that rattled Steve’s insides. The blanket of want that veiled his eyes was so open, so vulnerable and naked that Steve couldn’t keep himself from trembling.
Tony swallowed thickly. “No… we shouldn’t,” he agreed quietly. After a beat, however, something in his eyes shifted, and he leaned further up.
And Steve knew—knew without fault that this was going to change everything. I should stop this, his mind reasoned, but his body didn’t comply. So he slowly began to rub against Tony’s middle, and bit his lips when he felt Tony’s legs slowly curl around Steve, urging him closer.
Soon enough, they were moving with deliberate strokes, both of their bodies tense and shaking. And during it all, they just stared at each other. The sheer panic was obvious in Tony’s gaze, but there was also obvious arousal and curiosity and a stubborn will to see this through.
And this was… Steve had never felt anything like this. He half expected to wake up and find himself either at the beginning of the day or a universe away from a version of Tony Stark that would let near like this. But Tony wasn’t going away, and neither was Steve.
This was more real than anything Steve had ever experienced in his entire life.
“Steve,” Tony exhaled as they clung to each other. “What—what the fuck are we doing?”
“I don’t know,” Steve confessed. And it shouldn’t feel this good, Steve knew. Nothing should feel this good. “Don’t stop.”
“Won’t,” Tony promised and pulled at his chains again to get closer to Steve. “Come on.”
Steve nodded, pulling his arms around Tony as best as he could. And suddenly it maddened him that he couldn’t touch Tony, couldn’t run his fingers along his skin, couldn’t feel his every curve. So he flexed his muscles, pushing his feet into the cold floor and—pushed. He pushed against the chain with everything he had, leaning into it, and at last, the shackles broke free, crushing down on the floor next to them.
In an instant, Steve had his hands on Tony’s face, cupping his cheeks. He stared down into Tony’s eyes, and in that moment, something inside him shifted. A fog cleared. And Steve finally understood.
He understood why he’d always felt so uncomfortable whenever Tony was near. Why his heart sped up whenever he cast him a smile. Why no other person could ever hurt and frustrate and move him as much as Tony had. Because he’d known, deep down, that this was something he wanted but could never have.
“Tony,” he said aloud, and moved in to press his lips against Tony’s.
Tony’s eyes widened, as if he hadn’t expected them to kiss at all. But this wasn’t just about sex. Not for Steve.
Because this was Tony—complicated, amazing Tony—and Steve pushed his tongue into Tony’s mouth, kissing him with everything he had.
Amazingly, Tony didn’t fight him—he kissed back. His lips were forming words against him, as if trying to urge him on. Their tongues were brushing against each other, and a low, throaty moan rumbled through Tony when Steve pressed against him again. On the next beat, Tony’s arms were around him, holding Steve’s body to him with a fierce kind of strength.
“Come on,” Tony gasped. They grunted and moaned, pushed and pulled, and Steve pulled back to stare into Tony’s eyes when he felt it. It was a sensation unlike anything he’d known, something that had him surge forward, digging his fingers into Tony’s hips, gulping as he came on a trembling breath.
Tony tensed beneath him only seconds later, and his lips pressed against Steve’s shoulder as he let loose a choked cry.
When it was over, Steve collapsed onto him. Coming down from his high, he suddenly felt the pain in his arms, the wetness between them and a small voice inside his head telling him how stupid they were for doing this—here.
So he rolled off of Tony, staring at the ceiling instead. Slowly, he became sticky in very interesting places, and somehow, he felt even more on display than before.
“Well,” Steve said, breaking the silence, “No one’s come yet.”
Tony huffed and looked at him, raising a brow.
“To kill us, I mean.”
Tony sat up slowly. “Whoever did this,” he looked down at himself, and back at the walls surrounding them, “wanted us to go into Oscorp, look at that exact server, then bring us here.”
“Lucky for us, we’re free now.”
“We’re still tied to each other.”
“But not to the wall.”
“You really want to leave here?” Tony asked, pointing towards himself. “Like this?”
Steve nodded. “There’s a door, and I don’t hear voices outside. We should try our luck.”
When Tony didn’t answer, Steve added, “Do you really want to stay here and wait for our captor?.”
“Steve…” Tony started.
“Tony. Come on. We can get through that, too. We just—” He paused, unable to say the word.
“Fucked?” Tony supplied.
Tony raised a brow, his expression suddenly very serious. “You want to pretend that didn’t happen, don’t you?”
“No, I…” I just don’t know how to deal with you. This—this had only complicated things even further.
“No, I agree. We should do that. It wasn’t a big thing, anyway,” Tony said, his voice subdued, and he pulled his knees closer to his body. With the leverage, he tried to pull on those chains. It was clearly of no use, but the only thing about Tony that had ever rivaled his genius had always been his stubbornness.
“Tony,” Steve said, sighing. “Come on, that’s—”
“You’re right. We should try the door,” Tony interrupted him. He pulled himself to his feet, waiting until Steve did the same. The chains clanked between them as they started walking, and they couldn’t get further away from each other than a few inches.
Steve closed his hands around the door handle, once they’d reached the door, pulling at it—then pulling some more. “It’s locked,” he said.
“You’re not up to full strength, remember?” Without waiting for his reply, Tony closed his hands around one of Steve’s upper arms and pushed him to the side. He leaned against the door, gripped the handle, pushing, then pulling, then beating against it.
He did that for three whole minutes before he stopped.
Steve shrugged. “I told you.”
“The door’s locked.”
“And we’re still stuck.”
“I know that must be hard for you,” Steve said, trying not to let too much spite dribble into his voice. “Not being able to run away from your problems.”
Tony scoffed, casting him a hard look. “Very funny.”
“I wasn’t aiming for funny.”
Tony met his eyes again and Steve was overwhelmed by his confused expression. It was clear that Tony didn’t like him much. He would probably never even call him a true friend. Their relationship had always been a fragile thing, often overcome by fierce disagreements. But here, in this sterile storage room, Tony had given him something that no one else had. And for some reason, there was now an ache in Steve’s heart at the thought that… once this was over, they would go back to not talking to each other.
Steve swallowed, noticing that Tony had stepped slightly closer. There was a hand on his forearm, and brown eyes were staring at him with great wariness.
Tony wet his lips, shivering slightly. “I—”
A loud bang at the door cut him off, and they had half a second to take a step backwards, before it barged open. Both Steve and Tony fumbled into battle stance, only to come to a skidding halt in the middle of the room.
“Friends,” Thor announced. He held Mjolnir in his right hand, regarding them both with an amused smile. “It’s a relief to see you… in such good health.”
Natasha laughed as she stepped up next to Thor. “Well. That’s something you don’t get to see every day,” she drawled.
They both let loose a half-relieved, half-embarrassed breath.
“It’s good to see you,” Steve eventually said, covering himself as best as he could.
Which wasn’t much.
Five minutes later, they were standing in the corridor of an unknown hospital basement. Tony didn’t say anything as he zipped up his jeans, then pulled a sweater over his head.
“Thanks for the clothes,” Steve told Natasha, putting on a shirt and pants as well. “How did you find us?”
“They sent us a few clips of you,” Natasha explained.
Simultaneously, Steve’s and Tony’s eyes widened. “Clips?” Tony asked.
Natasha’s eyebrows rose slightly before she schooled her expression. “Of you sleeping in here. They got you with one of the good tranquilizers, huh?”
“Ah,” Steve said, and looked at Tony briefly. “I guess so.”
“They also sent us a ransom note.”
“So they wanted money?” Tony asked, a bit disbelieving. And sure—that didn’t really fit into HYDRA’s usual evil schemes. He took the red and gold suitcase Natasha offered him, visibly relieved that they'd recovered the armor.
“No, they wanted us to let you die, otherwise they publicly threatened to blow up a children’s hospital.”
A strangled breath left Steve’s lips. “And you—”
“Solved the situation by not letting either of the two happen,” Natasha said, rolling her eyes. “Vision helped track them down. We got rid of the bomb before they even noticed.”
“And then we got rid of HYDRA,” Thor added, grinning broadly. “All is well my friends. Do not worry.”
“So they wanted to kill the two of us,” Steve mused.
“Or let you save us and have the whole team be responsible for hundreds of dead kids,” Tony supplied with a subdued voice. “Either way. It was a win win scenario for them.”
He was right, Steve realized. It had never been about them. They wanted to ruin the whole team. By killing innocent children.
The thought was as disgusting as it was horrifying.
They were halfway outside the building, when Steve spotted Clint, Sam, Vision and Wanda standing at the exit door.
“So,” Natasha said. “How’d you lose your clothes anyways?”
“It’s a—” Steve halted, not wanting to anger Tony even more. “Long story.”
Natasha looked them over. “Right.” She held her hands up. “Got it. I won’t pry.”
“It’s not—I mean, there’s nothing to pry.”
“Sure, Steve,” she said, as if it didn’t matter to her in the least. And Steve knew her well enough by now that this likely meant the gears in her head were turning, and at the end of the day, she’d subtly but very insistently bring Steve to tell her every last detail.
Inwardly groaning, Steve followed the others towards the door. He regarded Tony’s hunched posture, the stiff set of his shoulders and knew in his heart that his previous thought was very true.
This had made everything even more complicated.
* * *
“So, how was it?”
Steve jumped slightly at Natasha’s voice. He sat in the facility’s living room, drawing pointless things on a piece of paper. It was late, almost midnight, so he hadn’t exactly expected any visitors.
The kidnapping had been three days ago, but Steve didn’t have to think long to know what she was talking about.
“We were captured and tied together naked, I think you can guess how it was.”
“And what’s the deal with Tony? Pepper said he arrived at the tower, stormed down to his workshop, and hasn’t come up since.”
“Can’t you guess? We were tied up to a person we can’t stand on a good day, that’s the deal with Tony.”
“‘Can’t stand’, huh?” Natasha grinned. “Didn’t keep you from getting a bit up and personal.”
Steve groaned. “How did figure it out?” It was a wonder she’d waited this long to grill him about it.
“Hate to break it to you, but it didn’t exactly take super-soldier senses to smell what you two were cooking in there.”
Steve blushed. Fiercely. Breaths speeding up, he put the paper and the pen down. “It was just a stupid thing, it didn’t mean anything. Tony said so.”
With an echoing scoff, Natasha sat down on the couch next to Steve.
“And for you? Did it mean something for you?”
“That’s irrelevant when Tony—”
“Oh God, you can be really dense sometimes,” she told him, not unkindly. “You know Tony. Maybe better than any of us. You two—you always pretend like you don’t get along but the reason for that is that you’ve grown so close that it got really easy for you to hurt each other. Did it never occur to you how sad Tony looked since he decided to step down from the team?”
“It was his own decision,” Steve said, and he knew he sounded embittered, but Tony had just left him after Ultron, he had the right to be angry about that.
“It was guilt. Guilt and a whole lot of other insecurities. After Sokovia, leaving the team probably felt a lot like his only option.”
“I told him he didn’t need to go!” Steve said, his voice rising. “I needed him—I wanted him by my side, but he wouldn't listen!”
Natasha hummed, and when Steve looked at her, she had one of those slightly crooked, slightly amused smiles on her lips.
Steve groaned, burying his face in one hand. “I just…” He sighed. “I miss him.”
“So I’ve noticed,” Natasha said. She put a hand on Steve’s back, petting him gently. “Maybe you should tell him that,” she suggested.
Behind them, new steps resounded. Steve and Natasha both turned around to see Sam walking into the adjoining kitchen.
He looked like he’d slept for a few hours and only blinked at them owlishly when he returned with a soda in hand.
“Can’t sleep?” he asked, and Steve hummed in agreement.
Sam sat down, taking a sip. “I still can’t believe you were held hostage with Stark. Naked,” Sam said, disbelief creasing his forehead. “That’s bound to leave you unsettled.”
“We were saved,” Steve assured him. “It’s all good.”
Sam didn’t look too convinced. “But still. That had to be weird, man.”
Steve closed his eyes tightly, wishing they’d just move on already.
“I bet it brought him and Tony a lot closer together,” Natasha said.
Steve’s eyes popped open as he stared at Natasha. Don’t you dare.
“You think?” Sam asked, frowning. “Stark didn’t look too happy when he left.”
“Oh, I’m sure,” Natasha said, “it was a bonding experience for everyone.”
Tight-lipped, Steve glared up at her, then caught a glimpse of Sam, nose wrinkled in confusion. “I think I want a soda, too.” He took Natasha’s arm. “Why don’t you join me.”
“I don’t need—”
“Then keep me company,” he gritted, dragging Natasha to the kitchen.
“Chill. I’m just playing around,” Natasha said to an incensed Steve, once they were on the safer side of the kitchen’s swinging doors. “He got no clue, and never will as long as you don’t man up about it.”
“This isn’t a joke, Natasha. This is my life.”
“Well, maybe you take that to heart and do something to finally live it.”
“Will you stop with that?” Steve nervously glanced to the door, then broke away from Natasha and leaned on the kitchen counter with outstretched arms. “He wouldn’t… he wouldn’t want this. Me. It was a… spur of the moment thing. Nothing more. He was very clear about it.”
“So it was bad,” Natasha prompted, stepping up next to him. She’d raised a questioning brow.
Steve was jolted with the sensory memory of Tony holding the chains behind his back, of him thrusting up against Steve, sending sharp tingles up his body, moaning into his ear.
He’d never felt as close to another human being as in that very moment.
“No,” Steve whispered, looking down at his hands. “It was amazing.”
Natasha hummed. “You know… Tony’s tried to shield his emotions since the day I met him,” Natasha said. “He’s usually very good with it, but there are times when he slips, and then it’s as if… his feelings are all leaking out of him.”
Steve nodded. “When we… well, when we did what we did, he was all open.” Grimacing, he added. “Figuratively speaking.”
He glanced at Natasha, who had that knowing smirk on her lips. “What?”
“You do like him. And I’d bet good money on Tony liking you back. The real question is, will you do anything about it?”
Steve rubbed a hand over his face. “I’m being a coward, aren’t I.”
“Kinda.” Natasha smiled, nudging Steve’s foot with hers. “I bet he’s still awake. You should go to him. Put both of you out of your misery.”
Steve had his doubts that it’d be that easy. Tony was unpredictable on a good day, and this was… unknown territory.
He hadn’t always considered Tony as someone he’d actually want to be with, but looking back, Steve could admit to himself that he’d been drawn like a moth to the flame for a long time.
And maybe Natasha was right. Maybe they only fought so much because they were both too afraid to admit to what was developing between them.
And there was something. Steve could feel it now. Something that might be fragile, and yet had the potential to become something glorious.
And he’d never been someone to back down from a challenge. Even if its name was Tony Stark.
* * *
Alone in his workshop, Tony sighed. He’d been working all day. Or days, probably. On the prototype of a new arc reactor model, on Nat’s Widow Bites, and the transistors on Steve’s shield. The latter had his thoughts going into very different directions, however, and eventually, Tony went to prod a little at DUM-E’s new coding.
Thinking about Steve was maddening. He was a very straight-to-the-point kind of person, but to Tony, he was a mystery—a mystery wrapped up in an enigma stuffed inside a… a burrito, or something.
Spending time with Steve had always strangely felt like he was both falling apart and also piecing his heart back together. After Ultron, and the following break-up with Pepper, Tony had felt truly lost, maybe for the first time in his life. Not just because he didn’t know who he was when he wasn’t an Avenger, but because resigning from the team had made him realize how much he actually missed being around those people.
How much he missed Steve.
He had no idea what to feel whenever he was around him, or why the feelings he did feel were as strong as they were. Ever since he meet Steve, the guy had taken down all the barriers Tony had thought he had so carefully constructed around his heart.
Tony was skimming the code lines, when his eyes started losing focus. How long had it been? And once again, his thoughts lingered in places they shouldn’t… Like Steve, on top of him, eyelashes low, fingers gripping his hips, the particular tickle that crept up Tony’s neck as he moved with him. Maybe he should go back to drinking. Or maybe he could fly to some Caribbean island and hide there for the rest of his life.
He knew what Rhodey thought, the annoying little muckraker. He knew it just by his expression earlier, when Tony’d quietly told him what had transpired during his short kidnapping.
Talk to him. If you don’t get it out of your head, it’ll drive you nuts.
It’d drive him nuts, no matter what. And talking to Steve just… Tony didn’t know how to go about that. What should he say?
‘So, Steve. Our little humping-session wasn’t so out of the blue as you might think.’
‘Steven, it might sound weird, but being chained to you kinda was one of the best experiences I’ve had in the last year.’
‘Yo, Cap, if you ever want to bang on a cold floor again, I wouldn’t say no.’
‘Hey, Caperoo, funny thing: Whenever I gave you the impression that I didn’t like you, I was actually trying to keep myself from kissing you.’
Tony groaned. Yeah. Not happening.
“Just forget about him,” he murmured as he leaned his head against DUM-E’s main strut. “He doesn’t want this.”
“Would you let me decide on that?” Tony heard in his ear.
Tony whipped around, fists first, acting on instinct.
Steve caught his wrists and held them tightly, soul-searching his eyes.
Flustered, Tony said, “How.”
“FRIDAY likes me.”
Not about to clue him in on the reason for that, Tony forced a stern expression on his face.
“You mind?” Steve asked.
“That depends on why you’re here.”
“Not to fight, if that’s what you mean.”
Steve let go of his hands and Tony stood up to face him—more or less—, fighting the urge to smooth his hair, make sure he looked all right.
Yeah, he was pathetic.
“Natasha said you locked yourself up here for a long time,” Steve said after a moment of awkward silence.
“And Natasha knows that because…” Tony started, then huffed at himself for even asking. “Pepper,” he conceded.
“Pepper,” Steve agreed. “She still cares about you.”
“Yeah,” Tony agreed. “But this is more about her prying into stuff that’s none of her business.”
“So she knows?” Steve asked, visibly surprised. “That we…?” He trailed off, obviously once again unable to say it out loud.
“No,” Tony said. “There’s nothing to know, anyway.”
“Nothing,” Steve echoed, eyes boring into Tony’s, “Are you sure?”
For a moment, Tony was hushed by the question. Then, he clenched his hands into fists, walking away. He stopped in the middle of the room, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
“What’s with you all of a sudden?” he asked Steve, because he—for the life of him—couldn’t figure out what he wanted from him. “I’m still me. You’re still you. And you and I—we couldn’t be much more different. What happened was… we were naked, and we obviously both hadn’t had any in a long time, so it was…”
“Two guys helping each other out?” Steve supplied, “That’s really what you want to say to me?”
Tony waved a hand at him. “You don’t want this.”
Steve stopped. Then he released a long, and very dramatic sigh. “And he’s back to telling me how I feel.”
“Well, how do you feel?” Tony asked a bit harshly. “Why are you here?”
The corner of Steve’s mouth curled up. Head tilting, he said, “To talk about what happened. That’s what adults usually do.” He cleared his throat, looking very small all of a sudden. “I can’t say that what happened didn’t throw me for a loop completely. But now that it did happen, I… I have to admit that I…” Steve trailed off, his brows furrowing as he visibly searched for words.
And even though words weren’t forthcoming, it slowly dawned on Tony what was happening here. And more importantly: What Steve was trying to say.
“Are you serious,” Tony blurted, and shook his head at himself. He needed to get his act together, but what Steve was hinting at was ridiculous. Just because Tony had, somewhere along the way, developed a crush on his teammate, this stupid thing they’d done couldn’t have changed Steve’s opinion on him so completely.
“Steve, I just… I know stuff like that has a habit of messing up your mind somewhat, but… I mean, you don’t really like me. It’s alright to have enjoyed what we did on a physical level without—”
“I like you,” Steve said, interrupting him. His formerly confused expression changed to something that could only be called ‘mortally offended’. “I never did not like you.”
Tony huffed. “Right.”
Steve sent him an unimpressed glare. “I might not have exactly worshiped the grounds you have walked on from day one, I admit that. Mostly because you have been rude and arrogant and completely disregarding of my situation. But after we had fought the Chitauri together, and after everything that followed, you were my friend. And I do like you, Tony.”
Before his brain could catch up, Tony’s feet had already made the first steps in Steve’s direction. Moth to the flame, and all that. It certainly felt like Steve had some kind of magnetic pull on him. And ho boy, his heart hadn’t beat that fast since he’d confessed his feelings for Jean Graham in second grade.
And Jean Graham had been far less intimidating than the man in front of him.
Tony swallowed. “As a friend, you mean.” He didn’t dare phrase it as a question but Steve answered either way.
Too. Tony took a deep breath. There were only so many ways in which he could tell himself that Steve wasn’t making a move on him—right here, right now.
“So what happened…”
“…is a result of me liking you,” Steve finished, almost matter-of-factly, as he, too, stepped closer. For some reason that was utterly beyond Tony, he looked far calmer now. How could he be calm about this? This was a moment to make or break them—this was the Moon Landing, this was the Berlin Wall coming down, this was the Olympians fighting the Titans.
With a last step, Steve now stood right in front of Tony, and never in his life had he felt that small—that out of his game.
“Oh,” Tony said once more, staring up at Steve. “I… didn’t expect that.”
“Yeah, I noticed.” Steve smiled, and oh… that smile was kind of beautiful. Whenever he smiled, Steve’s whole face lit up. It wasn’t a symmetrical smile, Tony realized, which made it all the more beautiful. The left corner of Steve’s mouth was a tiny bit higher, and when it got broad enough—like right now—there were two tiny dimples forming on his cheeks.
“What’s going through that head of yours?” Steve whispered.
“I was trying to figure out why your smile is so pretty,” Tony said before he could stop himself, wincing at his own words. He’d really just said that, hadn’t he?
“Ah.” Steve chuckled, and wow, he was really close. He raised his hands slowly and framed Tony’s cheeks. And then, he was leaning down, and…
“Me?” Tony asked once more, just to be sure.
Steve bent forward, mouth on a collision course with Tony’s. “Yes, Tony. You.”
Tony’s skin trembled against Steve’s lips when he ghosted soft kisses on his left cheek, moving closer to his mouth, millimeter by millimeter.
Cautiously, Tony coasted a hand over Steve’s shirt, drawing him in until their bodies touched. “What would you think about some… re-enactment,” he whispered. “Last time, the setting left much to be desired.”
Steve smiled. “I’d like that.”
Tony nodded, and then, Steve didn’t waste another moment. Kissing him again, finally—God how he missed those lips, that tongue, and oh, okay, Steve was kind of taking him into his arms, raising him into the air and putting him on the table…
“Hot,” Tony mouthed against his lips, and they both grinned into their kiss.
Leaning him against the wall behind the table, Steve drew him in, arms around his shoulders. He slipped his tongue into Tony’s mouth as he hugged him close.
“Best kidnapping I ever had,” Tony managed between kisses.
Dazedly, Steve laughed.
“Fair warning, though. I’m horrible at relationships. This might be a real disaster, you know that, right?”
“Might be,” Steve replied, but Tony saw something flash through his eyes, something he’d seen before; the last time. Something strong, something fierce. Something like...
Okay. Maybe Steve did like him. More than a friend.
And fine… he was Steve’s, too. Forever at his side.
Tied to him.
“It’s our disaster,” Steve told him, and pulled him down by the nape of his neck. “So let’s be horrible together.”
Tony smiled and tore away from him to promise, “I’ll be monstrous.”
There was a fire sparkling in Steve’s irises that Tony had never seen on him before. “I’ll take your word for it.”
Tony grinned. He shrugged off Steve’s jacket, yanked his shirt over his head, and swooped down to tend to this very new, very exciting thing between them properly.