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Flying Colors

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Steve’s fingers, coated in pink, orange and purple chalk dust, spread carefully apart as he smooths the pad of his middle finger across the page in front of him, blending the three colors to resemble the streaks of color currently arcing over the horizon just beyond the windows of the Stark Tower penthouse. He’s deeply absorbed in the spread of the color, the feel of the coarse paper against his fingertips, and he starts when someone drops onto the couch next to him.

“You’re a mess,” Tony says, slouched deeply into the couch. Steve’s eyes are drawn to his mouth, wondering if the faint slur he heard was just his imagination.

He glances down and blushes, realizing that the color isn’t limited to his hands—he’s gotten streaks on his white t-shirt in several places, and a multicolored hand print on the left knee of his jeans. “It’s a messy medium.”

When he looks back up, Tony is smiling at him, eyes half-lidded. He waves one hand near the corner of his mouth, the movement loose and lazy and Steve realizes: he’s drunk. “Y'got a little something…”

Steve blushes. It’s on his face, too? Jeez, he really is a mess.

After checking to make sure there’s no color, he scrubs at the side of his mouth for a moment before turning back to Tony. “Now?”

Tony’s mouth curls into a grin, his eyes crinkling at the corners, and he lets his head drop to the side to rest on the couch back. “Made it worse,” he says, and giggles.

Steve’s stomach clenches. He looks so happy. What happened today that led to this point?

Steve glances down at Tony’s clothes and his stomach gives another unpleasant swoop when he realizes how nice they are. It’s not a suit—these are Tony’s date clothes. Steve swallows thickly.

“You, uh… Did you have a date?”

“Not yet,” Tony replies and looks fascinated by the movement of his own mouth. Steve frowns.

“But you’re drunk.” Then he immediately covers his mouth with one hand, hot embarrassment flooding up the back of his neck. If Ma heard him say something that rude—

“Yep!” Tony says cheerfully, and sways a little toward Steve. His eyes land on Steve’s face again. “I sh'ld help you with that.”

He shifts onto his knees, wobbling back and forth enough that Steve lifts his hands so he’ll be ready to catch him if he winds up taking a header off the edge. Then Tony is looming over him, still wavering slightly with his intense gaze focused on Steve’s face. A riot of butterflies bursts to life inside him. “Uh, Tony—”

“Shhhhh,” Tony says, and clumsily places his fingers over Steve’s mouth to quiet him. “’M working.” He rubs roughly at Steve’s cheek, his whole being focused on that one spot. It’s rare that Tony focuses his full attention on Steve and it makes something inside him turn hot and liquid. God, just a half a foot or so and he could kiss Tony, find out exactly what his mouth feels like.

And then Steve flushes. He’s gotta stop thinking things like that. Whatever he wants, whatever he feels, the Avengers are too important—Tony is too important. He can’t mess this up. Not when he isn’t even sure Tony likes men.

“There,” Tony says, and Steve suppresses a wince as he pats his cheek a little too hard.

“Thanks,” he mutters and Tony smiles at him again, makes his heart twist around in his chest.

“No problem.” Then Tony swings his legs around and flops down right next to Steve, leaning into him.

“Um,” Steve says, every nerve on red alert. “Tony, what are you doing?”

“Sitting.” Tony nuzzles up against Steve, one knee crawling up to fold over Steve’s lap, his hair tickling the side of Steve’s neck. “I like you, Steve.”

Steve’s throat works, struggling to produce moisture. Finally, he rasps, “I like you, too, Tony.”

“Yeah?” Tony breathes, and noses at the side of Steve’s neck, which, it turns out, is sensitive and Steve bites down on a strangled noise as his body begins to show interest in the proceedings. Tony’s breath is hot and warm over his skin and it’s lighting up like electricity. Then Tony murmurs, “How much?”

Steve can’t remember what they were talking about. “Uh,” he says, “um. How—how much do I… Do I what?”

God, God, Tony’s so warm and Steve’s wanted to feel him like this, up against him for so long. He’s a terrible friend, thinking about it when they’re sparring in the gym, what it would be like just to pin Tony down with his body and feel him, every inch of him. What is wrong with him?

He shouldn’t be here, he shouldn’t be doing this, not when Tony’s drunk and has no idea what he's—

Tony’s fingers trail down Steve’s side, and a sharp bolt of arousal lances through him, taking his breath away. “How much d'you like me?” Tony murmurs, lips grazing Steve’s ear.

Steve shivers. “Too much,” he whispers.

One of Tony’s hands slides down his arm, tendrils of sensation spiraling up the length of it, fizzing under Steve’s skin. His callused fingers curl around Steve’s and draw his hand up, wrapping it around Tony’s waist, guiding his fingers under his shirt to smooth skin. “Show me,” Tony says, eyes dark and intent.

Then Tony kisses him.

Steve shudders, fingers kneading the skin at Tony’s waist, his head spinning. Tony shifts, rolling his hips and Steve’s mouth opens on a groan.

Tony’s tongue slips into his mouth. He tastes like—

The blood freezes in Steve’s veins.

He jerks back, horrified. He holds on to Tony just long enough to shift him onto the couch, then he’s scrambling to his feet, the taste of bourbon clinging to his mouth. He scrubs at it, feeling sick to his stomach. Tony is drunk and he’d almost—


He jerks and looks up to see Tony watching him, half-risen, his head tilted to the side. Steve can’t breathe, his chest tight with panic. He can’t keep doing this, he can’t be around Tony like—like this. He wants him too much, it’s dangerous.

“I’m sorry,” he chokes. “God, Tony, I’m so sorry. I should never have—”

“Steve, it’s okay,” Tony says, holding a hand out cautiously. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I was going to,” Steve says miserably, burying one hand in his hair. “I wanted to.”

“But you didn’t. You stopped, and I was really egging you on.”

“You were—” Steve manages to pay attention long enough to realize that Tony suddenly seems a lot less drunk. His words are clear and enunciated, his eyes open, his back straight. “Tony?”

Shame comes over Tony’s face like a cloud over the sun. He hunches his shoulders, hands slipping into his pockets. “I— Uh. I was…” He grimaces. “This is going to sound terrible, all right? Of the two of us, you are definitely not the one in the moral wrong here.” Steve stares as he shifts on his feet. “I’m not—I was never drunk. Well, not never, obviously I’ve been drunk a lot, but I mean tonight. I haven’t had anything to drink.”

“But you tasted like—”

Steve flushes.

“Yeah, well, I was pretending to be drunk and getting in your face, Steve, if my breath didn’t smell like alcohol you’d have realized. I gargled. I wasted two ounces of primo bourbon to do this.”

“So, what,” Steve says, lost. “You were— You were testing me?”

Tony takes an unsteady breath and rubs at his forehead. “Yeah. I’m sorry, god. I—look, I like you, Steve. A hell of a lot. But the last time I was in a relationship with a guy he used to—”

The rest doesn’t come, but Steve can guess what’s missing. Anger rolls through him. “He took advantage of you when you were drunk and you wanted to know if I’d do the same.”

Tony winces. “I know, this is fucked up, but I—I had to be sure, Steve. That you wouldn't—”

Steve’s heart sinks, sitting like a rock in his stomach. “I’m sorry I’m not—better.”

“What?” Tony says and then steps forward. “Steve, no. You were—god, you were perfect.”

“Tony, I was going to—”

“The second you tasted the alcohol, bam. You were out of there, Steve. I was coming at you with every trick I know and you still pulled back.”

“I should have never—”

“You did everything right,” Tony says firmly.

Steve eyes him, dubious. “You think you can trust me, after that?” He waves a hand, eyes closing as he replays it.

“Absolutely,” Tony says, fervent. “I do. I’m sorry I had to do this—trick you. I knew you wouldn’t, I just, I had to make sure.”

“So…so we’re good?” Steve says, uncertain.

Tony swallows, eyes bright. “If you’re good, I’m good. And I’d love to pick up where we—”

“Yes,” Steve breathes. “God, yes, Tony.”

~ * ~

Two months later, Steve times his entrance just right, slipping into the building behind an employee. He knows exactly where he’s going, so it only takes him five minutes to find the right office.

He causes a ruckus in the hall and then sneaks past while the receptionist is trying to figure out what the hell happened.

Tiberius Stone is blond and broad-shouldered and Steve feels a wave of sick fury at the sight of him. No wonder Tony had wanted to make sure. He looks up and frowns.

“Who the hell are you? How did you get in here?”

“Your security needs work,” Steve replies, and before Stone can get to his feet, he’s across the room. Stone lifts a hand and Steve grabs him by the wrist, twists it sharply around behind his back. It pops out of socket as he forces him to his feet, and Stone yells, thrashes.

Steve pushes him down onto the ground, plants his knee in the small of his back. He leans forward, putting further pressure on the dislocated arm and Stone lets out another strangled yell.

“You listen to me, you son of a bitch,” Steve says, voice low and silky. “If you ever touch another living person with a single drop of alcohol in them, I will make sure you never touch anyone ever again.” He lifts Stone, slams him down against the floor, hears something snap, a noise that’s probably supposed to be a scream. “Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Stone wheezes.

Steve rolls him over with a jerk and leans over him, pressing the heel of his hand down into the dislocated joint. Stone writhes, eyes wide and wild. “And if I ever see you near Tony Stark again, you’ll wish you’d never been born.”

A very carefully placed punch breaks another two ribs, Stone’s scream muffled by the leather covering Steve’s palm.

“Look up ‘consent’ in the dictionary,” Steve tosses over his shoulder as he leaves.

He drives the bike around for a few hours coming down from the adrenaline and the fury. When he finally makes it back to the Tower, he gets rid of the clothes with JARVIS’ help, and washes up. Tony is in the living room when he emerges.

He lights up, eyes crinkling around the edges. “Steve, where’ve you been all day, I’ve been texting you.”

“You were supposed to be working,” Steve says, fond in spite of himself. He brushes his thumb over Tony’s cheek, chest clenching up at the thought of that man forcing himself—

Tony notices. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Steve says, and shakes himself. “I was just thinking about you.”

“With that face?” Tony says, eyebrows raising. “What did I do this time? The company needs me, you can’t kill me.”

“I would never,” Steve says, and only realizes how harsh it sounds when he sees the startled look on Tony’s face. He pulls back, swallows. He squeezes Tony’s hand, gently. Says, more calmly, “I would never do anything to hurt you, Tony.”

“Yeah,” Tony says, still eyeing him with interest. “I know.”

Steve kisses him, presses the knowledge into his skin, cups his face gingerly between his hands. Tony pulls back, a little flushed, and his expression curious. “What’s going on with you today?”

“I want to take you to bed,” Steve says, rather than reply. “Can I do that?”

Tony huffs a laugh. “By all means, Captain, take me away.”

Steve smiles and sweeps him off his feet. Tony laughs the whole way to the bedroom.