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Death of the Dream

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Tony woke, and stared blankly up at the ceiling. His mouth was dry; his body ached. He could smell antiseptic and hear soft hums and beeps, probably a hospital. He remembered - he remembered flying, getting in the suit - he hadn't been thinking straight.

He hadn't really been thinking at all. He'd been trying to fly a high-tech piece of precision engineering with an IQ of eighty and dropping. And now - he tried to sit up, and found his arms were cuffed to the headboard.

That was rarely a good sign.

He seemed to be thinking fine now; he could remember everything, nice and clear. Someone had collected all the pieces of his brain he'd scattered about the world, and uploaded them into his skull again.

That might or might not be a good sign.

The room was not a hospital; it was someone's bedroom, someone who wore army boots and a heavy leather jacket and had a picture of the original Avengers hanging on the wall. Could be anyone from Carol to Clint. There was a machine by the bed displaying what Tony assumed were his vital signs. He was dressed in grey sweats and T-shirt, and didn't smell bad; when he rubbed his cheek against his arm he could feel smooth cheek and the scrape of his goatee. They'd been taking care of him, at least. He was testing the handcuffs, carefully, checking out the lock, when the door opened.

"Oh God." Steve gave him a blank, not quite hostile look. "Who - where - who are you?" A Skrull, an LMD, a clone - so many things it could be -

"Don't give me that," he said. "Reed confirmed your memory uploads went fine."

Reed, of course.

"I remember you dying," Tony said. "You don't look dead to me."

"I didn't die." Steve sat down on the bed next to him.

"I saw you - "

"Shut up!" said Steve, loud, and Tony shut his mouth. "I didn't die. I - I went away. I went back in time, I was lost, I - " he stopped, breathing harshly, and put a hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose. "Sharon, Sam, Bucky, they found me. Brought me back."

"Of course they did." Tony felt a ridiculous stab of jealousy. "Good for them." Steve glared at him, and he sighed. "Steve, I - "

"Shut up," Steve said, more gently. "I've about got things sorted out, now. Reed promised he'd fix you if I fixed everything, and I have, and here you are." He put his hand on the centre of Tony's chest. "You look - it was horrible before, they let me see you, but you were like an animal, you just smiled at me when I spoke to you, and when I got angry at you, you hid, and once you cried - " Steve turned away from him. "Reed didn't want to fix you. He said you were too dangerous. That everything that went wrong was because of you."

"That is not - " Steve's hand over his mouth silenced him, and he glared at Steve, trying to convey all the unpleasant things he was thinking about Reed.

"You and your futurist thing." Tony made a muffled noise, and Steve - Steve growled, under his breath. Tony felt his eyes widen.

"If you don't shut up," Steve said, enunciating each word very carefully, "I'm going to gag you."

Tony shut up.

"I was lost in time. I kept reliving it all, again and again, and the things we lost, all the people, and do you know what, I couldn't even console myself that it turned out all right in the end, because of what you did. And I thought, did I even make a difference to the world? If it's like you say - if the future's so set and limited - did it even matter what I did?" Steve lifted his hand from Tony's mouth, wiped it absently on his jeans. "And all the things I've done since I got back - did they make a difference?"

"Steve - " Tony wanted to say something, anything, to drive that lost helpless look out of his eyes, but Steve's hand snapped out and caught his chin, fingers digging in. He yelped, more in surprise than pain, and something soft was forced into his mouth, and Steve's other hand cupped his head for a second. He choked and struggled for a moment against Steve's implacable grip, and then realised, to his bewilderment, that he was wearing a ball-gag. He made a questioning noise, and Steve shook his head. He looked... sad.

"Why can't you ever do what you're told?" he said. "Why are you so - it always has to be your way, doesn't it? You get an idea in your head, and you won't discuss it, you won't tell anyone about it - " Tony shook his head urgently, and Steve scowled. "All right," he said, conceding. "You told Hank, you told Reed. You told Peter some of it, and you told him not to tell me. You didn't tell me." His hand slipped down, closed round Tony's throat, and shook him a little. "You didn't tell me.You didn't tell anyone with the will to stand up to you, to question you. You didn't tell me! I'm your best friend, Tony, and the first I heard of it was Maria fucking Hill trying to shoot me down on the Helicarrier!"

The grip on his throat tightened unbearably, and Tony gargled and choked around the gag. Steve let go, suddenly, and then stroked him lightly with his fingertips.

"I'm sorry," he murmured. "I'm sorry. I get so angry, now. I can't - don't upset me, Tony." He turned away, and Tony lay there and breathed, slowly, trying to look small and harmless. What the hell had happened to Steve? He brought up his knee and nudged Steve gently, and Steve looked at him. Tony raised his eyebrows, and Steve sighed and touched his throat again.

"I strangled Osborn," he said bluntly. "Reed's gone all... well, he said the science," and he spat the word like it was dirty, "Proved the Dark Avengers had to die, but really? I think I just felt like killing someone. Carol helped. Sentry and Ares are back on the right side - Reed said he wasn't sure how to kill them anyway - but the rest of them are dead. I killed Osborn because Peter wanted to, I wouldn't let him." He shook his head. "The idiot thought he could use the armour against me... you should have seen his face when I used my armour override."

Tony choked, tried not to laugh, made a sequence of horrible noises around the gag at the thought of Osborn's reaction. Before Steve had - his laughter died abruptly. Steve was touching his throat again.

"He was just a guy in a suit, really," said Steve. "Apparently he had enhanced strength... I didn't really notice. Spam in a can, isn't that what you used to call it?" His other hand came up, and with no effort at all he ripped Tony's T-shirt apart, tore it along the seams, pulled it off him entirely and threw it aside, staring at Tony's chest. "All those scars you used to have," he said softly. Tony stayed very still, breathing shallowly. Steve put his hand over Tony's heart, and smiled slightly. "It's so strange. I always used to think of touching you, wonder what your heartbeat would be like. But it's just... normal." He leaned over, and touched his lips down in the space between fingers and thumb. Tony could feel the slight tickle of his hair, a little too long - Steve didn't move, and Tony nudged him with his knee again, very carefully. When Steve looked up at him, his eyes were damp.

"It's going to be all right." Steve spoke quiet and intense. "Bucky's got the shield. You and I are going to retire. Reed said I could have you, that he'd fix you, as long as I kept you safe, quiet, out of trouble. And I will. I won't let you do anything like that again, Tony." Steve's hands slipped down his body, hooked into the waist of his sweats, and peeled them down. Tony was frozen for a second, disbelieving, and then as Steve's hands slid back up his bare legs he tried to twist away, kicked out at Steve.

No use, of course. Steve just caught his ankles and held them down, studying Tony carefully as he struggled.

"I've wanted you for so long," he said. "When I was lost, I wanted - I wanted to get back to you, to patch it up with you, and then I found out what you'd done to yourself - " his grip tightened, and Tony whimpered. "No more. I'm done."

He put his knee on one of Tony's thighs, held him open while he used his free hand to scrabble lubricant out of his pocket and probe between Tony's thighs. Tony could barely twitch, making helpless noises of denial around the gag, shaking his head, but Steve didn't look up, gaze intent on his fingers as they worked into Tony's body. The careful stroking on his prostate got him hard embarrassingly fast, and Steve's crooked happy smile made him close his eyes.

"It's all right." Steve's fingers went deeper, painfully deep, Tony had never been touched like this before and it hurt. "Shh, now," and Tony realised he was whimpering, a high animal sound. "Shh, it won't hurt for long, it'll feel good. I'll make you feel good." Deep inside, and Tony had no defence against this, as the aching burn slowly eased, became something that made him groan. He didn't want to like it, but Steve was crooning praise and Tony's body was not on the same side as Tony anymore, it had gone over to the enemy and was gripping and flexing eagerly around those long thick fingers, and God Tony wished he wasn't such a slut.

"You're so sweet like this," Steve said, almost dreamily. "Just like I imagined, so - so responsive." He moved his fingers sharply, and Tony's hips tried to buck, that was - that was - he did it again, and again, and Tony wanted, he wanted so much - he heard the sound of a zipper, and then Steve was moving again, pinning him down with the weight of his body, thighs spread wide under him with no leverage to kick or struggle. Only the steady press that blossomed into pain, and he could feel tears running down his face, feel the soft dabs of Steve's tongue on his cheek as he cleaned them up. "You haven't done this before," said Steve suddenly. "Have you?" Tony kept his eyes shut, turned his face further away, and Steve pressed kisses into his cheek. "I was sure - I was jealous so many times - it doesn't matter now, you're mine now, it's nothing." He moved in Tony, long slow drag of his hard cock, leaving Tony achingly empty. Then the fast rush in and Tony wanted to arch and writhe but Steve was holding him still, heavy, and between the weight and the gag, black spots were starting to speckle his vision. The steady roll of Steve's hips was driving thought out of him, his cock was trapped against Steve's belly and he was going to get off, soon, it was too much.

"Tony," Steve mumbled against his skin. "Oh, God, Tony, I love you, I've missed you so much - " he sounded broken, hurt and helpless, and Tony turned his head, nuzzled blindly into Steve's hair, tried to make a comforting noise but mostly just made noise. Steve pressed back against him eagerly, rubbing his cheek against Tony's. "Yes, yes - " He bit at Tony's neck, dug his fingers into Tony's ass and ground in deeper, too deep, oh God that hurt - so good, hurt - Tony's vision greyed out as he came, and stayed blurry and strange as Steve moaned and thrust and bit and came in him, a weird twitching feeling deep in Tony's body.

Tony just lay there while Steve cleaned them up, while he freed his hands and took the gag out. The first great gasp of air was even better than the orgasm, and he just lay there and luxuriated in breathing, trying to ignore the deep ache.

"Don't talk," Steve said softly. "Don't annoy me. I'm so tired. I just can't, tonight. We'll talk in the morning." He ran his palm over Tony's throat, frowning down at must be an impressive set of bruises. "In the morning," he said again, and Tony shut his eyes again, let Steve arrange him, hold him, press little kisses into his neck and tell him how everything was going to be.