Tony had been awake for hours, but instead of getting up, he curled around Steve’s back, letting his chin rest on Steve’s shoulder. Steve slept like the dead until Tony got up, then he’d spring awake like a Tigger on speed. Tony only needed four or five hours; Steve needed seven. So, Tony stayed and watched him sleep.
It was a year since they’d returned from Ashting, and Tony no longer felt like he was missing a piece of himself. Steve had taken over leading the Avengers again only a few weeks after Tony had caught him with a freshly written name on his skin. For Tony, it turned out that thing he had left behind in that world had been Steve, and as soon as he had him back, everything was right. He hadn’t realized until he’d seen his own name, so tenderly kept alive, that the pain of his return had been entirely locked up in losing the closeness they’d shared.
Until that night, Tony had thought that the idea of having his name stuck on someone’s skin - being stuck with him - was a stomach-churning one. But, seeing what Steve had done, seeing that, given a choice, Steve chose him, wanted to own him and belong to him in turn, wanted to share a connection that no one else could ever come close to, had turned nausea into euphoria. The people of Anna’s world had no choice who they were bound to, but Steve had chosen him, and he chose Steve - every day, he would choose Steve all over again.
Steve lay on his side, turned away from Tony with his arms stretched out in front of him. Tony snugged one of his arms up under Steve’s elbow, then stretched it out alongside Steve’s so their hands met on the edge of the mattress. Tony prodded Steve’s hand gently until it flopped open revealing the dark, curving lines of ink there. Tony remembered the day they had gone to get their tattoos with a smile. The artist had snapped her gum and arched a perfectly groomed brow when Tony and Steve had held out their wrists and indicated that they wanted a copy of what was already there.
“We don’t recommend getting people’s names,” she’d said to Tony, looking wholly unimpressed. “I know you love your boyfriend and all, but this is permanent.”
Tony flashed his most charming grin over the counter at the woman. “He’s not my boyfriend.” He shot Steve a cheeky look, up from under his eyelashes, and got a brilliant smile in return. “He’s my soulmate.”
“Whatever.” The woman had rolled her eyes through Steve’s laughter and shoved the waiver across the counter for them to sign. Steve had to get his redone four times before the serum stopped healing it.
Everyone had reacted much in the same way, thinking they were crazy. But they hadn’t done it for the same reason that most people got a name permanently etched onto their skin. It wasn’t a promise to a lover that they would be together forever. Sure, they were happy now - incredibly happy - but neither of them was crazy enough to ignore the fact that it might not last. Sometimes relationships ended, even the most wonderful ones, they both knew that.
No, it wasn’t about predicting the future, the tattoos were about their thankfulness for the past, and that would never change. Those words had saved their lives. They’d saved each other, countless times, and they wouldn’t have made it through without the ritual of drawing on each other’s skin every morning. Before the permanent ink, they’d both struggled whenever the sharpie faded. Tony knew the healthy thing might have been to push through it, get over it, forget it, move past it. But something like what they’d gone through in Ashting made a lasting impression, no matter how hard you tried to forget, and they both wanted a reminder of what they’d survived. Together.
Even when they were fighting, even when Tony was so mad at Steve he felt like chucking him off the roof, he looked at those five letters and they made him feel safe.
Like right now.
He sighed and looked down at the sprawl of muscle and limbs beside him. Three hours they’d gone at it last night. Three hours of talking in circles and raising their voices and pacing around the penthouse. Three hours until they’d packed it in, curled up in a warm tangle, and gone to sleep. Because, while they completely ignored the advice that you should never go to bed angry, no matter how hard it got, the one thing neither of them would ever do again was walk away.
Steve stirred, his eyes fluttering open. He reached out with his left hand to where their rights were clasped together and ran a finger over Tony’s tattoo.
“You’re still wrong,” Tony said, a little more bite than he intended leaking into his words.
Steve rolled his eyes and frowned, tipping on his back to look up at Tony. “Really? We’re starting in on this and I haven’t even had my coffee yet?”
“Why do you even drink coffee? The caffeine doesn’t affect you.”
Steve tugged Tony down into a hard kiss. “Because you drink coffee every morning and I like doing things with you.”
Tony slammed his forehead into his favourite spot on Steve’s chest and groaned. “Oh my god, that was so sappy I forgot what we were fighting about.”
“Moving the team to your compound upstate.”
Tony frowned against Steve’s skin. “Oh yeah.” He pulled back to glare at him. “Well, if you’d just get your beautiful head out of your perfectly sculpted ass and admit that -” he cut off with a yelp as Steve held him tight and twisted, spinning them until Tony lay on his back. Steve loomed over him, intense eyes fixed on his.
“I love you.”
Despite his poor history with making these kinds of judgements, Tony sensed that this was not one of those moments where you crack a joke. He brought a hand up to cup Steve’s jaw, rubbing idle circles across his cheek with his thumb. “I love you too.” Steve didn’t move. His brow was twisted painfully, and Tony reached up to smooth it out with the pad of his finger. “Dream?” Tony prodded gently.
Steve let out a shaky breath then nodded, sinking down to bury his face in Tony’s neck.
“The wire or the croc?”
“Lula and Rick’s. Only, you didn’t wake up this time.”
“I’m here.” Tony pressed soft kisses against the side of Steve’s face and ran light fingers down either side of his spine.
“I know.” Steve nuzzled further into Tony’s neck, his breath hot against the bare skin there. They lay that way for a long time, Steve’s weight holding Tony safe against the sheets. Steve shifted his hips and their bare skin brushed together. Blood rushed south, and Tony gave a needy little moan, arching his hips up, searching for a little more friction. Steve obliged, rolling against Tony, letting their now hard cocks slide together. Steve’s hand dropped to Tony’s thigh, curved around it and urged Tony to lift his knee and let Steve settle deeper into the space between his legs.
“Tony -” Steve gasped. “Please.”
“What do you want, love?” Tony’s voice was hardly any stronger than Steve’s, the rocking of their bodies together enough to tease but not to satisfy.
“I want to feel you.” The hand on Tony’s thigh slid higher, hiking Tony’s leg up with it. Steve’s fingers brushed over the curve of his ass. “I want to be inside you.” The words were whispered into the sensitive skin of Tony’s neck, and he shivered at the puff of air, and at the sentiment. Steve didn’t ask for things very often, preferring to let Tony’s expansive imagination steer their sex life, which made it all the more erotic when there was something he wanted.
“Yes.” Tony arched his hips up, letting Steve’s fingers slip higher, find his hole and tease it. “Please.”
Steve’s weight remained pressed over Tony. He felt warm, and safe, and trapped, held in the cage of Steve’s arms, and he knew Steve would protect him from anything that threatened them. Steve braced himself with one elbow beside Tony’s head, keeping their chests close. He scrambled beside the bed and came back with a bottle of lube. Slick fingers returned to Tony’s ass, and he bit out a gasp when one pushed past his rim. When Steve got like this - needy and wild and a little broken - he got pushy too, bringing Tony to the edge of his limits before pulling back. He canted Tony’s leg up even higher, hooked over his waist and slid his finger deep inside Tony’s body, curling it until he found the magic spot.
A burst of white-hot pleasure broke in Tony’s core, and he arched up into it, letting every whimper, groan and cry that pushed up his throat out against the skin of Steve’s shoulder. Tony’s hands slid up Steve’s sides, his fingers unerringly finding the places where Larry had ripped him to shreds, though the scars had long since faded. Ever so softly, Tony brushed his fingers up those lines, as if he could put back together what had been taken apart. Steve shuddered under his touch, his lips finding Tony’s neck again and sucking what would be a dark bruise into the soft skin.
Tony always felt electrified in this moment, wired up and ready to shock. The static between them crackled and charged, every brush of lips and press of fingers bursting into fractal patterns on their skin. Another finger pressed in beside the first, and Tony’s breath abandoned him. “Steve…” he whined, twisting into the touch, needing more, but not ready for it yet.
“I love you,” Steve whispered again. He rocked against Tony’s hip, sliding his cock along the smooth skin on the inside of Tony’s thigh and leaving a teasing wet line in its wake. Tony wanted the stretch and drive of that cock inside him. He wanted to bring Steve to the edge and hear the broken noises he made when he was tipping into paradise. Tony wanted to make Steve cry out a thousand times in pleasure for every time he had cried out in pain in Ashting.
When two fingers slid in easily, and Steve had tortured Tony into incomprehensible babbling, Steve shifted, lined up and pressed inside. It was - god - it was too much, but Tony didn’t care, he needed it. He fisted one hand in the sheets and held Steve’s neck in a death grip with the other. When Steve’s cock brushed against his prostate, Tony keened, lightning crackling up his spine until his hair was on end and his skin broke out in goosebumps.
“Oh my god,” he breathed out, half words, half choked-off groan. Steve was beyond words, his face bent to Tony’s chest, licking a hot line across his collarbone and pushing deeper, impossibly deeper. When he was fully seated, they both hung there for a moment, panting into each other’s mouths, eyes locked together. Those blue eyes on his were all Tony needed. No matter where he ended up now, he knew where home was.
Steve pulled back a little then pressed in again, and they moaned in unison. Steve’s free hand snapped to Tony’s thigh again, drawing his body up to meet every thrust. It would never fail to send a jolt of arousal through Tony’s gut when Steve manhandled him, pulled him into position, and moved his body the way he wanted. It was a heady, room-spinning kind of trust to be moved in that way. And Steve moved him. He slid his hand even lower and pulled Tony up more fiercely with every thrust of his hips, and that angle was slamming the head of his cock against Tony’s prostate.
Tony moaned, dropping his hands to Steve’s biceps, arching his back up to match the rhythm of their bodies. Abruptly, Steve stilled. Tony was about to protest, when Steve’s strong hands wrapped around his middle and they moved, Steve gripping Tony close and spinning until he was on top.
Tony settled onto Steve’s lap, sitting up with his bent knees on either side of Steve’s ribs, and his hands braced on his chest. The new position pushed Steve even deeper, stretching Tony open. He could feel Steve’s balls pressed against his ass and fuck every inch of him. He rolled his hips forward, testing, and felt the electric charge start low in his spine and crackle up.
“God, you feel so good.” Tony’s eyes had drifted closed, but he opened them now, and fixed them on Steve’s. Steve’s hands spread wide over Tony’s knees and slid up, covering his thighs. His right twisted so his fingers could dance over the shiny burn that still marred Tony’s skin. It felt like a trophy now; he won it on the way out of hell. Tony wrapped his fingers around Steve’s forearm, brushing his tattoo against the invisible lines where he’d ripped wire out of his skin. He used his grip to brace himself and rocked up on his knees until the head of Steve’s cock caught his rim, then sunk down again.
He was gloriously full, awash in the sensation of Steve inside him, so much that he had forgotten about his own cock until Steve’s hand wrapped around it with a firm grip. Tony stuttered forward, half-thrusting into the grip, hunching forward in surprise. One touch and he was two seconds from coming already. “Harder,” he croaked out, voice wrecked.
“Tony -” Steve broke off, unable to resist pushing up with his hips as his grip tightened. And Tony knew what Steve wanted. He rocked his hips forward, finding the perfect pace to thrust his cock through the slick ring of Steve’s fingers, then push his prostate back against Steve’s cock. He knew it was too shallow for Steve, but desperate need built with every movement until he was panting and begging and losing his rhythm, only to have Steve brace his feet on the mattress and pump up into him. And Tony was gone. He tumbled over the edge, pulsing over Steve’s fist and dripping onto his chest. And fuck if that wasn’t the most beautiful sight in the world.
Steve gave him no time to recover, locking both hands - one still slick with Tony’s come - around Tony’s hips and holding him up so he could pound up into him relentlessly. It was an earthquake tearing through Tony’s body. He was still shaking and wild from his orgasm, his cock leaking, while Steve took him and used him, not trying to hit Tony’s prostate anymore, but hitting it anyway, until Tony saw stars. Tony’s body folded into Steve’s grip, hands slipping forward on his chest, unable to find purchase. He was gone, it was so much, Steve was so much.
“I love you so much,” Tony choked out, each word broken off by a wild thrust from Steve. Steve’s hands clenched - his body clenched - and he pulled Tony to him, holding him too tight against his chest. His free hand dropped to where they were joined, brushing his finger along Tony’s fucked out hole. When Tony cried out and clenched down, Steve broke into a litany of filthy words, squeezed Tony to him and came. He pulsed, deep in Tony’s ass, the throbbing of his cock inside him making Tony grind down into the sensation, breath abandoned, thought abandoned, caught on a live wire whiteout.
It felt like another year passed before either could move again. Tony was flushed and sweaty and high on Steve. Their mouths found each other and met in a sloppy kiss that was more panting against each other than anything else. Steve pulled free gently, then cuddled Tony close, snugging him in against his chest and pressing a series of kisses into his hair.
“Love you,” Tony said, burrowing his nose into Steve’s shoulder.
“Love you too.”
“You’re still wrong about the compound, though,” Tony reminded him lightly.
Steve laughed and rolled off the bed, pulling Tony up with him, then pressed a brief kiss to his lips, ruined by the adoring smile he couldn’t seem to contain. Tony melted against him, drawing warmth and safety and rightness into his chest. Steve held him tight. “Coffee first. Fight after.”