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You've Built Your Wall So High (That No-One Can Climb It)

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This Steve with That Tony

 

 

Anthony Edward Stark is a brat.  

Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, brat.  

Everyone knows this. The entire world knows. Tony Stark is the world’s richest, most well connected, unbonded submissive, and the brattiest brat to ever brat. The term ‘topping from the bottom’ could have been written to wax lyrical about him. It could be why, surprisingly, his queue of suitors is actually pretty small.  No Dom wants a pushy bottom, no matter how rich they are, how well connected. It would look bad at public functions to have a sub who wouldn’t do as they were told and ran their mouth and got drunk. It wasn’t proper. Submissives are to be seen but not heard unless expressly told to by their Master. And Tony…..well Tony has never been about what is right and proper.

His father has given up despairing about what might happen to his son and moved straight to quiet, seething resignation. Howard used to try to make Tony see that his behaviour was wrong and obscene, but as frustration grew at his son’s increasingly outlandish actions, he got nasty. Drunken beatings became the norm, but still Tony wouldn’t listen. His mother, Maria, tried a different approach, and Tony seemed to listen for a while, always keen to make his mother’s life a little easier, but it hadn’t lasted of course.  Even Howard threatening Tony with being forcibly bonded to Obie, the Stark Industries ‘Right Hand’ didn’t seem to put a dent in Tony’s lifestyle. So now, Howard just ignores his son, only interacting when absolutely necessary. And it was pretty easy to ignore someone when you lived in the Stark mansion: four floors of rooms plus a basement to get lost in.  

There had been talk when Tony was little about promising him to a Dom when he turned 21, but Maria had put her foot down over that. Her only son, only child in fact, was not to be paired off with a stranger. She would absolutely not see her precious Anthony go through what she had with Howard. Tony would be free to find his own bondmate, or for his bondmate to find him, but he would not be forced into something that he had no choice in, she would not allow it.

So Tony does pretty much whatever he wants, whenever he wants and with whomever he wants.  It's a luxury that being so disgustingly wealthy affords. When you’re in the 1% of the world’s richest, most successful and most feared people, you can do pretty much do whatever the fuck you want and no-one says shit. Of course, he has to show his face at a lot of fancy functions and dinners, as well as hold press conferences and TV interviews - that’s just part of being the face of Stark Industries now that Howard has taken a back seat and semi-retired. But he’ll put up with that if it means he can spend nearly all his free time either in his basement workshop building and creating, or out on the town fucking the latest hot young thing (or things, plural) without a single fuck given about his reputation or how it looks to the wider public.  His striking looks means that there is never a shortage of hot young things to play with, and Tony has no shame in using his looks to get what he wants. Doms salivate over him whenever he turns his chocolate brown eyes on them, or looks up through his lashes. His unkempt rich, deep chestnut hair frames his face, and his pink, full lips polish off his look of just-rolled-out-of-bed-and-sucked-a-dick-please-fuck-me look. Doms fall over themselves , switches can’t get enough, and other subs fawn over him. Tony fucking loves it.

Right now he’s stuck at yet another dreadfully dull industry function that his father had told him (by fucking email) that he had to make an appearance at because there are lots of military bigwigs here and he had to to the schmoozing on behalf of SI. Urgh, all these assholes are the same: bloated, preening Doms in dress uniforms with too much meaningless metalwork gleaming on their chests, all butting heads for Tony’s attention with wandering hands and scotch on their breath. Tony hates it.

And Tony is bored, which is always a dangerous thing because hello? Genius. And when geniuses get bored (see: when Tony gets bored), bad things happen. Well, bad is all a matter of perspective really. Tony would argue that what people consider bad are all in a day’s entertainment for a bored 20-year old genius. Shenanigans is what Jarvis would say:  “You’ve got your shenanigans face on.” That always spelt trouble whenever Tony got That Look. Last time it had involved Tony shamelessly flirting with a very high up army Dom, and then slipping away with one of the waiters whilst said Dom had gone to relieve himself. He returned to find no Tony and his Bentley plus chauffeur gone. Howard had been so furious that he’d beaten Tony so badly he couldn’t leave the house for a week. Usually Howard kept the bruising to body parts that could be hidden. That time it had been his face.

Tony mentally shook the image from his mind as he forced his thoughts back into the stifling hot room and the drone of the Dom talking to him. This one was ...Master Sergeant? First Sergeant? Fucked if Tony can remember. Fist Master Boring McFuckwit is what Tony keeps calling him in his head and he giggles to himself, hiding his smirk behind his tumbler of really rather excellent single malt whisky. Smoky, with a hint of peat, rich and delicious.  Tony doesn’t drink like his father, not to get drunk. He drinks because it helps with his somewhat crippling social anxiety, which no-one except Jarvis and Rhodey know about. Plus, it all fits in with the outward public image that he’s been so carefully cultivating over the years. Oh, the copious amounts of sex with a neverending string of beautiful people is definitely not a cover. Tony loves sex. And he loves very pretty people, so the sex is just…..for pure pleasure. But everything else that the public sees?  Yeah, that’s all a carefully placed mask. The Tony Stark Media Face, Rhodey named it, and he’s not wrong. But its a wall of armour that Tony uses to keep people out, the people that don’t matter anyway. There are those who know him for his true self, and he can count them on one hand: Rhodey, Pepper and Happy. And J.A.R.V.I.S. of course and yes, his AI absolutely counts as a person. Not even Howard and Maria know him, not really. Obie thinks he does, but that’s just because Tony lets him believe it.  

Tony is bored and tired and he wants to go home to his workshop and his AI and his ‘Bots, so he starts to think about just getting the fuck outta dodge without saying his goodbyes, when he sees a flash of colour out the corner of his eye that doesn’t fit in with the surroundings. He turns to look as he’s heading for the door and it’s like he hits a brick wall, stopping in his tracks when he sees who it is.

That’s…holy shit , that’s...

Tony’s breath catches in his throat and everything narrows down to just him, the man leaning casually against the bar. He’s breathtaking . He’s also very much, 100% Captain America. 

Steve Rogers in the flesh. 

Leader of the Avengers, symbol of freedom and purity and justice blah, blah, yada, yada.  And also the most Alpha Dom to ever have existed. In fact, Tony is pretty sure that the term Alpha Dom has been coined just for Captain Rogers.  It was like they felt they needed to make him ...more, like Dom just wasn’t enough. But then, Captain Rogers has always been more . Tony has grown up with the legend as an ever present force thanks to Howard. He never stopped banging on about how perfect Rogers was, and how it was going to be Stark Industries that found him, which they had in the end. After years of Howard ploughing funds into exploring the Arctic for the Valkyrie wreckage, it had been found.  Tony remembers the day that they pulled Rogers from the ocean and discovered that he was still alive. The world had held its breath to see if Captain America would survive the reanimation process, and Tony had held his own breath right along with them.

Howard hasn’t allowed Tony to go and see Rogers, despite the fact that he was being rehabilitated in an SI facility.  He didn’t deserve to be around a Dominant like Captain America, wasn’t worthy of being in the presence of an Alpha. The perfect Alpha.  He would spit insults at Toy about how he would never be good enough for someone like Rogers, never be enough, for any Dominant really, but especially not Rogers. Someone like Captain America deserved someone pure, obedient, quiet, not a sub who ran his mouth constantly, and had ideas above his station.  Not that Tony fucking cared. Captain America was dead, a legend passed down through history.

Except he wasn’t, not any more. Just frozen in time and ice until he’d been found and thawed, thrown 70 plus years into a future he didn’t know surrounded by strangers. About eight years ago, the Captain’s breakdown had been public knowledge the world over, it wasn’t a secret. He’d been public and raw about it, spoke about how he’d been broken because everything he knew was gone. His friends, his family, his submissive. He’d been bereft, alone, unanchored.  Tony had remembered being stunned as a young teen that a Dominant, an Alpha Dom , had been so public about his situation. It just wasn’t done. Dominant’s didn’t just....put all that out there, they just didn’t. Baring your soul like that was for your sub only, not the whole world. Tony had remembered being drawn to Rogers, his willingness to be completely unconventional and tell tradition to just fuck off struck a chord in Tony. He saw some of himself in the Captain, some of the same middle finger salute to the world so bent on tradition and formality. 

Seeing the man in the flesh is ...well it’s quite something.  The man is huge , but somehow manages to not be imposing. He doesn’t loom like the other Dominants in the room, doesn’t need to. He exudes an aura that just screams Dominant without actually having to prove it. He just... is . Tony suspects that it’s the Alpha part of him, a trait that doesn’t have to posture or preen to make his presence known.  Tony notes that not only is Rogers not in his dress uniform, he also isn’t wearing a tie. His cornflower blue three-piece has very obviously been made to measure, because it accentuates every angle of pure, raw muscle, every curve, to perfection. The pale lilac shirt is open at the neck and Tony can see the top of a tattoo just peeking out at the edges of the collar, and that just makes Tony’s eyes widen a fraction. He has a thing for very pretty people with very pretty tattoos and the fact that the peak of fucking human perfection has what looks like a huge chest tattoo is just…. Yeah. Fuck.   The whole look has been finished off with a matching pale lilac pocket square and a pair of light tan dress shoes.  The colours are all surprisingly soft considering who happens to be wearing them, but Tony likes the way it makes him stand out like a beacon in a sea of harsh military greens and blues.  Rogers is sporting a full beard, which makes his gorgeous jaw look even more chiselled, and his dark blond hair is longer than usual and swept back off his face to fall in waves. Tony doesn’t want to use the word “Daddy” to describe the sight Rogers is projecting, but it’s difficult not to when he’s stood there looking like exactly that. Its... doing things for Tony that he didn’t realise were a thing for him.  He watches Rogers from the other side of room tracking every movement, every smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. His hands look massive wrapped around the crystal tumbler in his hand and Tony is suddenly struck by the image in his mind of one of those hands wrapped around his neck. Rogers could snap him in half with his little finger, there’s no doubt. But because Tony is a brat, he thinks it would look very lovely around his neck, the paleness of Roger’s hand would look striking against the olive of Tony’s skin. 

Tony is totally going to go over and get all up in Rogers’ space, because of fucking course he is, but is surprised that his feet are already one step (ha!) ahead of him, taking him towards the Captain before he’s even finished his thought. He zones in on Rogers and walks straight towards him, head up, eyes on target. It’s not the proper way to approach a Dominant, let alone an Alpha, but Tony has never been one for self preservation or protocol.  What he should be doing is waiting for a Dominant to introduce him, and then keep his eyes down, head bowed and no touching. What Tony actually does is walk straight into the space currently occupied by three military Dominants plus the Captain, looks straight at Rogers’ face and extends his hand to shake.

“Anthony Stark, CEO of Stark Industries. But you can just call me Tony.”

The three Generals, or whatever the fuck they are, all make a sharp intake of breath at the sheer nerve of the submissive in front of them, even if he is the head of the company who is currently supplying them with top of the line, cutting-edge weaponry. Tony’s own molten brown eyes are met by the piercing blue of Captain America’s, and he sucks in a breath of his own because jesus fucking h. christ , it’s like the Alpha is looking right through him and into his goddamn soul.  Tony has never met an Alpha Dom before and hoo boy, this is new.  Rogers doesn’t say anything, doesn’t break eye contact, but he does extend his own hand to shake Tony’s, and he’s firm and warm and huge.  Seriously, his hand is literally the size of Tony’s face.

“Captain Rogers, leader of the Avengers but please, just call me Steve.” There’s a tiny twitch at the side of Rogers’ lips, and a twinkle in his eyes that Tony thinks might be the start of a smile.  He knows he’s got balls of fucking steel walking up to an Alpha Dom like he just did, but Rogers... Steve doesn’t seem about to force Tony to his knees and bare his neck as punishment.  In fact, he sees to be amused by it.

“Nice to meet you Cap,” Tony grins, still not breaking eye contact.  Not that he thinks he’d be able to look away if he wanted to, because his eyes seem to have locked on to Steve’s and don’t seem to want to let go.  

“Steve.”

“Sure, whatever Cap,” Tony is challenging, he knows he is, but he can’t seem to help himself.  One of things about Tony is that he won’t submit, not properly, to anyone. Especially to Dominants who think they’re owed something by a submissive, whether they know them or not. And Steve is an Alpha, the Alpha, which is just making Tony’s Fuck Propriety reflex go into overdrive. What he’s doing is asserting his own form of dominance and sending Steve a message that says Tony Stark is his own person, no matter how star spangled your ass is, Alpha or not.  

Steve tilts his head to one side as he considers Tony, the twitch of his lips slowly becoming a smirk as he takes in the fire on Tony’s eyes, the jut of his defiant chin.  He’s young, very early twenties he thinks, and very, very pretty.  

“So you’re the famous Tony Stark,” Steve says,  eventually letting Tony’s hand go. The brunette notices the loss of heat.  

“Whatever you may have heard Captain, it’s all true,” Tony leers, waving  the hand that Steve just dropped in the air as a vague dismissal of whatever Steve might be thinking.

“I don’t doubt it,” Steve says, and he does smile now, the mirth stretching from his mouth up to his eyes, which now seem to sparkle. “You’re not at all what I expected from Howard’s son.”

“I’m not sure what you expected Capsicle, but I am nothing like my father,” Tony says harshly, his eyes hardening.  Always in Howard’s fucking shadow, never seen for himself or what he can do.  He’s the fucking CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world for fuck’s sake, not just Howard’s wayward submissive child.

“Oh, that much is obvious,” Steve shoots back, but his smile is still genuine which is, huh? Tony didn’t expect that. Usually when he’s compared to Howard he only sees disdain on other’s faces. And then Steve adds:  “You’re much more fun.”

OK, wow . Um….

Tony blinks at the Captain, his brain desperately trying to keep up.  

Steve just keeps leaning on the bar, his gaze on Tony never wavering. It’s not quite appraising, but it’s not entirely innocent either, and it’s making Tony’s skin itch, like his whole body is suddenly too tight. His brain supplies that maybe this is what it’s like to be in the space of an Alpha, to feel that sort of power, and Tony feels the fight just drain right out of him. Huh? How about that?

“Now that I can confirm is wholly true,”Tony says, wiggling his eyebrows at Rogers because fuck it, why not?  Flirting dangerously? Yeah, Tony knows how to do that, it’s second nature. “You should swing by my office at SI, let me show you just how much fun I can be.”

The 3 other Dominants standing with the Captain literally stop breathing. Who does this kid think he is speaking to a Dominant like that? And to Captain Fucking America of all people. Tony thinks that maybe he’s pushed it too far as he gets pinned under Rogers’ blue gaze, something flashing across his face that Tony can’t get a read on. Then he throws his head back and laughs, a real, genuine laugh that comes from deep in his chest, and Tony feels a warmth spread through him, because he was the cause of that.

“Oh boy,” Rogers huffs out when his laughter subsides, and shakes his head pointing a finger at Tony.  “You’re trouble kid, I like it.”

“That’s not a no.”

“That’s not a no,” Rogers nods, blue eyes assessing Tony from over the top of his glass as he brings the scotch to his lips.  This kid is something alright, and he’s reminded a little of another brunette with a defiant jaw and an attitude to match.  

Tony watches the Captain, feels the warmth spreading through him further as those blue eyes drink him in, cataloging and gauging.  He thinks that he should feel unsettled, a little scared, but what he feels is pleased. It’s an unusual feeling for Tony, to feel as pleased as he does in the company of such an obviously powerful Dominant. It’s actually a little disconcerting, and Tony thinks it’s time he left.

“Well, this has been a delight,” Tony lies as he looks around at the other Dominants, all still speechless. He gives Steve a lingering look from under his lashes  and, in return, receives an eyebrow raise and a hint of a smile.  “Captain, you know where my office is so don’t be a stranger. Office hours are 8 to 6. Good evening gentlemen.” 

Tony then turns on his heel and heads for the door to leave, all the while feeling the weight of Rogers’ eyes on his back as he walks away. Spurred on by how it feels to be watched, he adds a little more sway than usual into his hips as he walks.  What? He’s got a great ass and he’s not afraid to use it.

Chapter Text

Steven Grant Rogers, Captain America, is an unbonded Alpha Dom, leader of the Avengers and all round good egg, or so people say. 

He’s still not entirely sure why they gave him the Alpha Dom designation, he just thinks of himself as Steve. But the powers that be seemed to think the serum made him “more” in all ways, including his Dominant side. Not that he’s really had much of a chance to figure out how the whole Alpha thing makes him any different from just being a normal Dominant. Sure, he’s had lovers since he came out of the ice - it’s been a decade, he has needs. It’s just that he’s not felt completely connected to anyone on that level yet, not since ...since Bucky. The pain is still there, and Steve knows that it always will be. Bucky was his, and he always will be. It will always feel like there’s a part of him missing, he knows this. Any bonded pair feels like he does when one of them...when one of them passes. It's a void that won’t ever fade, always there.  It is possible to bond again, Steve knows that, but it’s extremely rare. There are only a handful of recorded rebonds, and because that's over centuries, Steve knows just how rare they are. And he thinks he’s ok with that, truly. He’s made peace with the fact that he won’t find another bond. But somehow, since he came out of the ice and found himself thrown 70 year in the future, he’s had a few brief and fleeting hopes that being in the future might mean he stands a better chance of finding someone. 

Dwelling on all this would mean going back to a place that he doesn’t want to be in. Steve remembers his breakdown and the public fallout it caused. But he’d wanted the world to know, to see how much he was hurting. He wanted to show the world how raw his pain was, and how broken he felt. Steve has never been one for convention, or following what the formalities that being a Dominant meant, so he had bared his soul to the world. Before the serum, no-one had ever taken him seriously as a Dominant, how could they? He’d been 90 pounds soaking wet with a seemingly never ending list of health issues, a joke, a cruel twist of evolution. But people listened to Captain America, and Steve used this to show the world that even Dominants can show pain and have flaws. And if his actions helped just one person then that was what all that mattered. He’d always found the strict protocols of life stifling, and being the leader of the Avengers gave him the perfect opportunity to try and make changes. As he watched the world get more relaxed about traditions, Steve wants to be at the forefront of helping changes along, and there is still such a long way to go. 

So he goes about his business of leading the world’s only team of superheroes, but at the same time, he also speaks to government officials, sits in on legislation committees and speaks at activist rallies. And on top of that, he advises the military and lectures on weapon safety. It's a pretty full schedule, but then Steve has never been one to sit idle, not even when he was skinny and under doctor’s orders to stay in bed.  He’s always been a stubborn asshole and that’s never going to change.

It’s why he’s stuck here at another in a long line of military dinners where big deals are done, and fat, old men who have never served in the field get together to talk about things they know nothing about. Most of them have been handed their positions, a perk often afforded to sons of high ranking military men. The practice, equivalent to having heirs, but for military ranks, always makes Steve’s blood boil. None of these people know what it’s like to be on the front line, to be shot at, blown up, to sit in a foxhole in a freezing winter whilst the world goes to shit around you. They don’t know how it feels when one of your own dies in your arms, bleeding out into the snow. They don’t know how it feels when...No, he’s not doing this now, not here. These pompous fucks don’t deserve it. He just has to make nice for another couple of hours before he can politely leave and head back to Brooklyn and the sanctity of his apartment.  Just a few more hours...Maybe he could text Clint and Nat so they can come and rescue him under the pretence of an Avengers matter. He snorts a little at how ridiculous that sounds, even in his own head. He’s Captain America for fuck’s sake, he can handle another shitty military dinner.  

He lets his eyes wander over the crowd by the bar and in the room, and it's the same people as always. They’re all Dominants, all puffed out chests and overly red cheeks. A fog of cigar smoke hangs in the air above their heads, and the smell of expensive liquors and oak panelling fills the rest of the space. The white noise of separate conversations are a background hum and Steve really is trying to look and sound interested in the conversation he’s supposed to be taking part in with the three Generals standing with him, but he just doesn’t give a fuck. He’s bored out of his mind and he wants to go home. He might swing by Sam’s place on the way back, see if he wants to order a pizza and have a few beers. The food they serve at these functions is the type that's all show and no substance, and Steve has a supersoldier’s metabolism.  He made sure he ate a Steve size portion of food before he left for the function, but he’s going to need to eat again before he goes to bed. He gets his phone out to shoot Sam a text and ignores the disapproving looks of the men around him.  

"Apologies gentlemen, Avengers business,” Steve says, trying to look sheepish as Sam replies almost straight away with a yes. ”Never off duty.”

"My dear boy, no need to apologise,” General No.1 says on his right, his cheeks bright red from the amount of port he’s drunk this evening.  “Duty comes first. We know that better than most.”

Steve has to stifle a snort of laughter at that because this man has never put duty before anything before, none of them have. God he wants to get out of here. Just a few more hours...

His eye catches movement to his left because it’s something that feels out of place, that doesn’t fit with where he is and what’s going on. It’s a flash of deep scarlet, and when he turns to find the source, everything seems to slow to a halt. The scarlet belongs to an excellently tailored tuxedo, the owner of which nearly takes Steve’s breath away. He’s gorgeous . Unruly brunette hair, big, sleepy chocolate brown eyes and lips that...well, lips that look like they just sucked someone’s dick for twenty bucks in the alley behind the kitchens: shiny, pink and plump. Steve thinks the boy might be wearing lip gloss, and that’s definitely eyeliner. It makes him look delicious.  He’s definitely a sub, that much is obvious. The little head tilts, the lowered lashes, and the flirtatious but fleeting arm touches all scream submissive, and Steve is enchanted. The men talking to him melt into the background and Steve can’t help but watch the boy on the other side of the room. He’s bold, much bolder than any of the subs Steve has met since he was unfrozen. Except maybe Clint, but Hawkeye is an Avenger so that technically doesn’t count. None of the team fit the traditional societal molds, and why would they? They’re superheroes, they were always going to be different. But this kid? This kid is something else. He doesn’t seem to care about rank or manners, and there’s something so fluid about him. He’s always moving: hand gestures, facial expressions, shifting from foot to foot. It’s not a nervousness Steve thinks, but a raw kinetic energy, like his whole being can’t be contained or sit still for more than a few seconds, it’s intoxicating.  Steve thinks about what it might be like to be the one to quiet all that energy, to be the one to calm the whirlwind of motion. He starts to think about how his heavy leather cuffs would look against that olive skin, just stunning. And Steve then has to startle himself out of that thought because he’s out in public damn it.  He tears his eyes away from the kid and tries to focus back in to what the Generals are saying, but he can’t because there’s a blur of scarlet in his peripheral vision that's getting closer and closer and when Steve looks up, the kid is looking right at him as he walks, or rather saunters over, and extends his hand directly to Steve.

"Anthony Stark, CEO of Stark Industries. But you can just call me Tony.”

Steve notices all three Generals suck in a breath at the blatant audacity of the kid in front of him, and his lips twitch in amusement. The only other person this century to treat Steve in such a way was Natasha. Not really surprising considering that she’s the Black Widow and even Captain America finds her terrifying.  Steve meets Tony’s eyes with his own and fuck they’re even prettier now that he can see them close up. A deep, molten brown with tiny flecks of gold. He notices them dart briefly down to the opening of his shirt where Steve knows that the top of his tattoo is visible, but the kid’s eyes don’t linger, and he goes right back to looking Steve in the eye. Steve reaches out his hand to take Tony’s  in a handshake, and finds the hand offered is surprisingly calloused, a little rough. So he works with his hands, clearly. Steve likes that.

"Captain Rogers, leader of the Avengers but please, just call me Steve.” Steve returns warmly, a tiny twitch at the side of his mouth giving away how amused he is.

“Nice to meet you Cap,” Tony  grins, still not breaking eye contact and oh yeah, this kid is a whole lotta fun, Steve can already tell.

“Steve.”

“Sure, whatever Cap,” Tony challenges and Steve’s lips quirk upwards into more of a smile. He likes subs who break with tradition, who challange the norm, and this kid is just oozing with that Fuck You mentality that Steve likes so much.  He glances down at Tony’s neck where his shirt is open and notices that there’s no collar there, or jewellery of any kind. So he’s unbonded, which makes his behaviour even more enticing, because it means that there’s no Dominant watching out for him in a room full of them. The kid has got balls of fucking steel, Steve will give him that.  He also thinks that his collar would look rather lovely nestled there on Tony’s collarbone.

Steve tilts his head to one side as he considers Tony, the twitch of his lips slowly becoming more of a smirk as he takes in the fire in Tony’s eyes, the jut of his defiant chin.  He’s young, very early twenties he thinks, and very, very pretty. He does remind Steve a little of Howard, but he’s definitely inherited Maria’s stunning looks.

“So you’re the famous Tony Stark,” Steve says,  eventually letting Tony’s hand go, and he’s a little sad at the loss of contact.  

“Whatever you may have heard Captain, it’s all true,” Tony leers, waving the hand that Steve just dropped in the air as a vague dismissal of whatever he thinks that Steve might be thinking.

“I don’t doubt it,” Steve says, and he does smile now, soft and genuine.  “You’re not at all what I expected from Howard’s son.”

“I’m not sure what you expected Capsicle, but I am nothing like my father,” Tony says harshly, his eyes hardening, and Steve is a little taken aback at the thinly veiled venom in his voice.  Steve knows about Howard’s reputation, about the rumours of how he treats Tony. He doesn’t want to believe them, but he’s gotten to know Howard a little over the last decade, and he hasn’t liked what he’s seen or heard.  And it would certainly explain Tony’s forthright behaviour and obvious dislike of his father.

“Oh, that much is obvious,” Steve shoots back, and he keeps his smile soft. This kid is…well, he’s someone that Steve thinks he could form something with. A friend, or maybe...  “You’re much more fun.”

That...Steve hadn’t meant to say that bit out loud but fuck it, it’s out there. And it’s the truth.

Tony blinks at the Captain, those beautiful brown eyes looking confused for a split second.  Steve just keeps leaning on the bar, making sure that his gaze on Tony never wavers as he drinks him all in.  The mess of brunette hair, the big, round eyes and those lips...Steve tries very, very hard not to picture those lips doing something that he shouldn’t be thinking about in a room full of people.

“Now that I can confirm is wholly true,”Tony says, wiggling his eyebrows at him and Steve’s smirk gets bigger. “You should swing by my office at SI, let me show you just how much fun I can be.”

Steve almost forgets to breathe for a moment because fucking hell, this kid has got some fucking brass tacks saying something like that in a room full of Dominants.  WANTWANTWANT Steve’s brain supplies and he has to school his face into something other than the blatant lust he knows just flashed across his features. Instead he throws his head back and laughs, a real, genuine laugh that comes from deep in his chest, because Tony really is quite something.

“Oh boy,” Steve huffs out as his laughter subsides, and shakes his head pointing a finger at Tony.  “You’re trouble kid, I like it.”

“That’s not a no.”

“That’s not a no,” He nods, eyes assessing Tony from over the top of his glass as he brings the scotch to his lips.  This kid is just delightful, and he’s reminded a little of another brunette with a defiant jaw and an attitude to match.  

Steve watches Tony for a few moments longer, watches as he sees as very faint flush start to creep over his skin under the weight of Steve’s appraising eyes.  He really is just about the prettiest thing that Steve has seen in a very long time.

“Well, this has been a delight,” Tony visibly shakes himself and breaks the moment as he looks around at the other Dominants, all still speechless. He gives Steve what he thinks is a lingering look from under his lashes and in return, Steve gives him an eyebrow raise and a hint of a smile. “Captain, you know where my office is so don’t be a stranger. Office hours are 8 to 6. Good evening gentlemen.” 

Steve watches as Tony saunters away, a swing in his hips that wasn’t there when he walked over. The little shit is doing that purely for his benefit, and Steve’s smile gets broader as his eyes follow the young sub across the room. He takes in the beautiful curve of Tony’s back as it narrows a little at the waist just before the swell of his ass. And boy, that ass is...it’s fucking perfect is what it is. 

Steve will definitely be paying a visit to Stark Industries in the next few days, or a perfectly valid discussion about Avengers equipment of course.  After all, he’s sure that Clint could do with some new, state of the art arrows. Yes, strictly a business visit, nothing more.

Chapter Text

Steve heads to Sam’s when he finally manages to leave the function. It’s about 6 miles, give or take, but he likes to see the city and note all of its changes, so he thanks his S.H.I.E.L.D-appointed driver and took off on foot. Wistful for the New York that he remembers from before, he’s also fascinated by the city that he’s in now.  Plus he’s a supersoldier, so 6 miles is nothing, and his walking pace would be a jog for most people. He stops to get pizza around the corner from Sam’s apartment, then heads over.

“Well look at you all fancy!” Sam grins warmly when he opens the door to Steve’s knock. 

“Yeah, yeah,” Steve grins back as he walks into the apartment and flops down on Sam’s couch, dropping the pizza on the coffee table.  “Beer me.”

Sam snorts but goes to the refrigerator, and Steve can hear the bottles chink as the other man opens them. He lets his head fall back against the couch, and a bottle of beer appears over the top of his head.  He takes it with a big sigh and Sam joins him at the other end of the couch, elbow propped up on the arm.

“Wow, that good huh?”

Steve just groans and Sam huffs out a laugh. He knows how much Steve hates going to military dinners, knows how angry it makes him to see all those Dominants wearing uniforms that they don’t deserve, haven’t earned.  But Steve does it because he feels that he should be there to represent the people that do wear the uniform, who live it.  It also means that he can usually get some good information out of Generals who are too drunk to be out in public when they can’t keep their mouths shut. Tonight he hadn’t got much more intel than who was fucking who, so it was basically almost a total waste of time. Except for one thing.

“What do you know about Tony Stark?” Steve asks leaning forward to take a slice of pizza from the box before having a swig of beer.

“Howard’s son?” Sam asks as he goes in for his own slice then shrugs. “Not much. Kid genius, CEO of Stark Industries. Designs weapons in his sleep. Built an A.I. at the age of 15. Why?”

“He was at the dinner tonight,” Steve says around a mouthful of pizza.  “Just surprised that it’s taken until now to meet him considering that S.I. are the ones who funded the search team that found me.”

“You’ve got a point. Huh. Now that you mention it, that is a bit…”

“Yeah.”

“Is that the only reason?” Sam asks, his eyebrow raising in question.  He knows his friend, and he knows exactly what catches his eye.

“Yup,” Steve replies then shoves an entire slice of pizza in his mouth at once and grins around it at Sam, grease starting to dribble out the corner of his mouth.

“Uh-huh, sure it is,” Sam laughs, because Steve may be Captain America and an Alpha Dom, but he’s also a huge dork.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

Tony doesn’t think about Steve Rogers on the drive back to the mansion, nor does he think about him when he goes to bed. And he definitely doesn’t think about him in the shower the next morning. Twice.  What? He’s 20 years old. And let’s face it, it’s not the first time he’s jerked off thinking about Captain America. It’s just that this time, he’s actually met him in the flesh, up close and not nearly as personal as he would have liked.

The thing is though, Tony feels a little off balance, like he’s stumbled across something that he didn’t know he was looking for. Well, not looking for as such, but definitely something that has interrupted his routine. He’s no stranger to gorgeous, strong Dominants, but Steve is...yeah. It’s actually worrying how much time Tony has spent already this morning thinking about piercing blue eyes and big, warm hands. He dismisses it as purely a physical reaction to perfection in human form, it’s to be expected. Also, Steve is an Alpha, so he gives off more enhanced pheromones than other Dominants. It’s a chemical reaction Tony determines because dammit, he’s a scientist.

Sure Tony, whatever….

Anyway, he absolutely doesn’t spend longer than he cares to admit thinking about the huge blond, and he definitely doesn’t spend all day the following day down in his basement workshop at Stark mansion taking apart the engine of the 1962 Ferrari 250 GT he managed to buy a week ago. 

“Hey Jarvis?”

Yes sir.

“Is there anything that we don’t know about Captain Rogers?”

There are some S.H.I.E.L.D. files that are classified and I am unable to access given my current parameters.

“You’re still just a baby Jarvis, relax,” Tony says to his A.I. He’s still evolving, and Tony is still building him. His heart is down in the workshop in Tony’s most private and personal space, so he’s only really fully automated here. He’s in a few places in Stark Tower, like the elevator to the penthouse floor and Tony’s office, but that’s it for now.  He has so many plans for J.A.R.V.I.S, but fabricating parts and production methods as fast as Tony’s mind works is proving to be a hindrance.

“Hmm….”

Indeed sir.

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

Steve runs his idea about an exclusive Avengers contract with S.I. past Fury a few days after the dinner, and the Director is surprisingly open to it.

“Makes sense Cap,” Fury nods as he paces behind his desk.  “You need a very specialised set of equipment and Stark is the only one who can make it.”

“I think it could be mutually beneficial Sir,” Steve states, watching the other Dominant thinking as he paces.  Fury is usually about 4 steps ahead of everyone else, so Steve is counting his agreement so far as a win. “The Avengers get access to the cutting edge of technology, also making sure that S.I. can’t provide that tech to anyone else, and S.H.I.E.L.D gets a more pared down version after we’ve tested it in the field. It also keeps Stark on side.”

“Are you sure that’s the only reason for this idea Captain?”

“Y’know, you’re the second person to ask me that in the last 48 hours.”

“Am I now?”

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

Tony is trying to concentrate on the meeting he’s in, he really is, but he’s only human and he’s watching news footage on silent on his phone and Captain America’s suit is really tight.  

“Tony,” Pepper hisses in his ear as subtly as she can, kicking him under the table as she does so. He startles, then hisses back. Fine. He can concentrate for the next hour, he can. Then his phone vibrates with a message.

>>Would you PLEASE pay attention???!!!!

<<how dare you, i’m multitasking

>>Uh-huh, sure Jan

<<did...did you just jan me via txt Miss Potts?!

>>Stop looking at Captain America’s junk and pay attention

<<RUDE



* * * * * * * * * *

 

Steve is exhausted.

It had been a long fight, nearly all day, and he’s only just returned to the S.H.I.E.L.D. compound with the rest of the team.  He aches, he’s fucking starving , and he needs a shower.  

“We’re ordering in, right?” Clint groans as he kicks off his boots in the changing room.  “I could literally eat a fucking horse.”

“Already ordered on the way back,” Phil Coulson sighs as he strips off his wrecked suit jacket and throws it across the room.

“I knew there was a reason we loved you Phil,” Steve grins, blood on his teeth.

“Yeah, you only want me for my take out menus,” Phil grouses.

Steve looks around the room at his teammates, his chest swelling with pride as well as relief that they’d all made it back in one piece. They’re his family, his pack, and he always feels personally responsible for every bruise, every scratch, every bullet wound. The team’s kept him going in his darkest moments, helped to tether him when he felt lost, floating away. He doesn’t have a submissive, but he has the Avengers, and they fill the void left in his chest by Bucky. It’s a different kind of care, and he finds that he’s more than OK with having that if he can’t find a sub to care for. 

Please tell me that you ordered the basil chicken,” Natasha says and Steve knows she’s beyond tired because she’s let it creep into her voice. The Black Window doesn’t let anything show, but when it’s just the team she sometimes lets the mask slide.

“Do I look like a fucking amateur?” Phil frowns at Nat and Steve huffs a laugh. Nat grins back and then strips off her suit without a care and heads off to the showers naked.  The rest follow suit and there’s no pretense, no shame. Half of them are soldiers so are used to nakedness after a mission, and Nat just doesn’t give a fuck. 



* * * * * * * * *

 

Tony and Pepper are sprawled on the couch in his workshop eating Chinese, Pepper’s feet in Tony’s lap while he massages them. He loves these moments, just the two of them doing nothing.  He doesn’t love her like that , but she’s pretty much the most important person in his life. She’s a switch, but she Doms him when he needs it, and usually because he’s asked her to. It’s nice, familiar. He thinks that if he wasn’t so...Tony that they could have bonded and been happy, could have made it work. She puts up with all his shit, reprimands him when he needs it and coddles him if she thinks he’s stretched too thin.  She’s not into the whips and chains side of being a Dom, but she’ll put him on his knees if she thinks that's what he needs. When he does need harsher treatment, he has people he goes to, trusted establishments that cater to his level of wealth and privacy. But mostly, Pepper is his friend, his wingman. She knows him better than anyone else and he loves her for it.

“So…” Pepper says, then groans when Tony digs his thumbs into the arch of her foot.

“So,” Tony parrots, and he knows that tone.

“Gonna tell me what happened at the dinner the other night or….?”

“Nothing to tell Pep.”

“Tony, you met Captain America ,” Pepper rolls her eyes at her boss and friend.  “You’ve only been obsessed for like, forever.”

“I take offence at obsessed,” Tony gripes and digs his knuckles into Pepper’s foot, making her flinch.

“Ok, so used to be obsessed. I’ve seen the pictures of little you running around in a Cap costume,” Pepper smirks.  “It’s adorable.”

“I was like… 6 Pep!” Tony flails his hands and tries not to look flustered.  “And where did you even see pictures like that?!”

“Tony, you’ve grown up in the public eye, everyone’s seen those pictures,” Pepper laughs when Tony tickles her feet in retaliation.  “Seriously though, what’s he like in person? Is he huge? Does he smell nice? What did he say?”

“Jeez Pep, chill...” Tony snorts.  “And yes, he’s huge, and yes he smells nice.”

“That’s it? C’mon Tony, you have to give me more than that,” Pepper absolutely does not whine.

“What? I introduced myself, he introduced himself, he mentioned Howard, I told him to come see me in my office for some fun,” Tony shrugs and Pepper just groans and slaps her hand to her forehead.  “Oh, like you’d expect me to do anything respectable. He’s an Alpha Pep. Like, the Alpha,  of fucking course I was going to press a few buttons to see what happened?”

“And what happened?”

“He laughed and told me I was trouble.”

“Well, he’s not wrong…”

 

* * * * * * * * *

 

Steve leaves it 3 days before he calls Tony’s office to make an appointment to see him.

It was actually surprisingly easy to do considering Tony’s position as CEO and Steve suspects that Fury tipped them off somehow, but he’s pleased that he’s only going to have to wait another seven days to see Tony again.  He was expecting to have to wait at least a month, so a week is a pleasant surprise. The lady at the other end of the telephone asks what the meeting is for, so he tells her a rough outline, not giving too much away. As soon as he gives her his name, she can’t do enough for him. Steve knows that it should please him to be catered to so easily, but it still makes him a little uncomfortable. He has to remember these days that he isn’t the skinny, asthmatic kid from Brooklyn that people paid no attention to anymore, he’s Captain fucking America, Alpha Dom. But it’s hard to get used to. He’s never run from a fight, but life was easier when no-one knew who he was.  Still, it means he’ll get to see Tony sooner rather than later, so he’ll take it.

He has seven days to figure out how to deal with Tony, but also to address why he feels so...invested in getting to know the young sub. It’s been an age (literally) since he’s been so intrigued by someone, so enchanted. When he’d got home from Sam’s the night of the dinner, he’d reached straight for his sketch pad, itching to capture Tony’s energy. One thing the serum has given him is an almost eidetic memory, but he still wanted to get Tony’s image down in charcoal on paper as quickly as possible. He’s never met someone with such a chaotic energy, like he’s vibrating with it. He knows that Tony is a genius, Howard had mentioned it a few times, but seeing it in person has left Steve utterly captivated. It’s almost as if he could see Tony’s brain working on about a dozen different things at once, but still completely and utterly focused on Steve in front of him that night. 

Half a sketchbook later, Steve had fallen asleep on his couch still fully dressed in his three piece.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

“Guess who phoned today and asked for an appointment with you,” Pepper says when she walks into Tony’s office the next morning.

“Don't care. Coffee.”

“One Captain Steve Rogers,” Pepper continues as she puts a large cup of take out coffee on the desk in front of Tony.

“Cooofffffeeeeee, my one true love..” Tony cups the drink with both hands and downs half of it in one go before nearly choking on it when the caffeine fires up his brain and he registers what Pepper just said.  “Wh...what?! Why?”

“Avengers business,” Pepper shrugs and sits on the couch in front of Tony’s desk with her own coffee, flipping the cover off her Stark Tab.  “Now, you’ve got an hour before your first meeting, so you’ve got time to go over th…..”

Tony just groans and slumps over his desk.











Chapter Text

Steve has been to Stark Industries many times before, but this is the first time he’s actually been looking forward to it.  The tower dwarfs the buildings around it, a gleaming shard of glass and chrome soaring upwards to the sky. Steve used to think of it as grotesque, a sharp reminder of a New York that he no longer felt part of. But he has an artists eye and he’s come to appreciate the different architecture of the city, how the history of New York can been seen from building to building, old nestled against new, somewhat like himself. Stark Tower is a shimmering behemoth, a monolith of the Stark empire. 

He walks through the enormous entrance hall, shoes clipping against the marble floor, and strides over to the reception desk. It spans almost the entire back wall and is manned by no less than six people, all dressed in smart black suit jackets and ties.  As he approaches, the man at the desk smiles the same, bland smile that most receptionists have until he realises who Steve is. Then the smile turns excited, as it so often does. He’s a switch Steve thinks, because he doesn’t lower his eyes  and incline his head like a sub would, and nor does he straighten up like a Dominant would.  Steve discovered fairly quickly that most businesses employed switches for front desk duties as they were more or less neutral and non-threatening. This particular switch has pretty eyes Steve thinks, and his smile is warm and genuine. His name tag tells Steve that his name is Todd.

“Captain Rogers,” Todd says, his smile wider now that Steve has reached the desk, and he points at small electronic box on the counter in front of him.  “If you would please sign in using the scanner here. Mr Stark is expecting you.”

Steve presses his thumb to the glass pad on the device and it scans his thumb print.  A small rectangle of card comes out of the back, and Todd takes it to slip it into a plastic card holder that has a clip at the top and hands it to Steve.

“Your visitor’s pass will give you access to most of the building, including the top floor where Mr Stark’s office is. Please make sure it’s visible at all times,” He hands Steve the pass, which he quickly clips to the pocket lip of his suit jacket.  “The elevator to the left behind me will take you directly to the penthouse level.”

Steve glances over Todd’s shoulder and suspects that the elevator is the Stark’s own private access as it’s set away from the main elevator banks and behind the reception desk.

“Thank you Todd, I appreciate it,” Steve smiles.  “Have a good day.”

“And you Captain Rogers,” Todd is positively beaming now as Steve moves off towards the elevator.  

Good afternoon Captain Rogers

Steve remembers jumping out of his skin the first time he’d been to the tower when the disembodied voice spoke to him in the elevator. He’s used to it now, but it still makes him smile. J.A.R.V.I.S. greets everyone when they step into the elevator, and his smooth British voice is soothing to Steve. It’s also one of the (many)  reasons why Steve is keen to get to know Tony a little more as he knows that J.A.R.V.I.S. is his creation and built the A.I. at M.I.T. when he was still a teen.

“Good afternoon Jarvis,” Steve smiles at the roof of the elevator. Fury had told him that J.A.R.V.I.S. was an A.I. (and hadn’t that been quite the talk when he defrosted), not a real person, but Steve has always been told that manners cost nothing so always addresses the ceiling whenever he speaks to the A.I.  “Are you well?”

Quite well Captain Rogers, thank you. I believe that you have an appointment with Master Stark. This elevator will take you directly to the executive floor of the building.

“Thank you Jarvis.”

You are most welcome Captain. 

When Steve reaches the penthouse floor, the doors slide open to reveal a plush reception area with a deep, scarlet carpet, a couch in a rich, dark brown leather with matching chairs all with throw pillows that match the carpet, and lots of glass and chrome. It reflects the outside of the building, but the carpet and the splashes of colour from the seating area all make it feel less harsh, less clinical. A brief moment of comfort before the storm of a board meeting.  There is another reception area, but this time it’s an elegant chrome and glass desk topped with two computer screens and a keyboard with one person sat behind it. There is a wall of glass to the right of the seating area and Steve can see the boardroom behind it, the high backed leather chairs empty now and the three enormous flat screen televisions black. Behind the receptionist there is a well lit corridor with the same scarlet carpeting and several doors along its length.  It’s all quite sedate compared to the lobby downstairs, and Steve suspects that only a select few get to see this floor. He knows that a floor or so down from where he is is a whole section of meeting rooms and boardrooms, which is as far up in the building that he’s been until today. R&D are on the bottom 5 floors, as well as 3 floors of basement. S.H.I.E.L.D. has its own floor above R&D so that they can work directly with S.I. on specialist weaponry, and the rest of the tower is for all the other departments of Stark Industries. 

“Captain Rogers,” The blonde switch behind the glass desk says warmly as she stands. She has no name tag like the people in the main lobby downstairs, which means that most people  who make it up to this floor have probably already met her previously. She extends her hand to Steve and he takes it. “I’m Katherine, i’m the administrator on this floor. Mr Stark is currently running a little late so please, make yourself comfortable while you wait.  Can I get you anything to drink? We have excellent coffee up here.”

“Thank you Katherine, i’d love one,” Steve smiles as Katherine comes around her desk and gestures to the enormous couch.  “A Doppio please, no sugar or cream.”

Katherine nods with a smile and then disappears towards the corridor, presumably towards a kitchen area that Steve can’t see as he settles himself in one of the leather chairs.  She returns shortly with Steve’s coffee in a glass cup and saucer and places it on the squat table in front of him before going back to her desk. A comfortable silence settles over them both, Katherine tapping away on her keyboard as she works.  Steve reaches for his coffee and Katherine is right: it really is amazing coffee. But then, this is Stark Industries, why would the coffee be any less than perfect.

Steve uses the time to think about how he intends the meeting to go. He knows that his reason for being here is flimsy at best, but he’s been thinking about Tony since they’d met at the function two weeks ago.  There’s something about him that Steve feels naturally drawn to. There’s so much he wants to know about the sub, so much to discover. He’s not naive enough to think that Tony will want to get to know him in return, but Steve thinks he’s fascinating and he wants to know more. S.H.I.E.L.D. already has a contract with Stark Industries to supply weaponry and tech, but Steve thinks that a contract exclusively with the Avengers would be extremely beneficial.  S.H.I.E.L.D has a lot of red tape, but the Avengers are pretty much an independant team. Yes, they work closely with S.H.I.E.L.D., but that’s only because they’re the only agency out there currently equipped to deal with what the Avengers do. Steve really can’t see the army rocking up to a fire fight with beings from another dimension and being able to handle it with the same level as S.H.I.E.I.L.D. Those guys know what they’re doing and they don’t hesitate. Perhaps Steve can approach this from the point of view that Stark Industries would make some serious money from a deal with the Avengers, and in turn the team get the latest in defensive tech.

Steve had taken longer that he would like to admit getting ready this morning. He wanted to appear relaxed, non-threatening, but also faintly authoritative and only the tiniest bit dominating.  Nat had scoffed at him when he said that. “Have you seen you Steve?” and yeah, she’s right. Kind of hard to look anodyne when you’re a supersoldier. In the end he’d settled for a pair of pale grey slacks with a matching jacket, and a pale blue button down, open far enough that his tattoo shows a little. Smart, but relaxed. And according to Clint, the blue compliments his eyes, but whatever.

Steve hears a door open and a stunning red headed switch strides into view. He stands, because that’s what you do whenever a lady enters a room, and she beams at him, walking over and holding out a hand.

“Captain Rogers, hi!” Her hand is warm and firm, and she’s dressed impeccably. Steve isn’t entirely sure how she’s managing to walk in those heels, let alone stand (he thinks that she’d get on famously with Nat), and he takes her hand with a warm smile of his own.  “I’m Pepper Potts, Tony’s executive assistant, personal wrangler and exasperated right hand.”

“Miss Potts,” Steve chuckles a little, and from what little he’d seen of Tony at the dinner, he doesn’t doubt that she’s right.  “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you. Your reputation precedes you.”

“Pepper, please. And I can assure you it’s not all true.  If you’d like to follow me? Tony is just wrapping up his call, but you can wait in my office,” Pepper turns and heads back towards the corridor and Steve follows, but stops next to Katherine’s desk.

“Thank you for the coffee Katherine, it was delicious,” Steve says with a warm smile, because manners cost nothing and the Alpha in him likes it if people flush a little when he praises them and hey, he never said he wasn’t a little bit of an asshole.  

Pepper is waiting by one of the last doors along the corridor and Steve walks past her and into the office to find himself in large, airy open space.  There’s another wall of glass, this time behind a huge desk with no less than four computer screens. Beyond it isn’t a boardroom, but New York herself sprawling out beneath them and it takes Steve’s breath away.

“Wow,” He breaths and steps over to the huge glass panes.

“Isn’t it?” Pepper smiles as she follows him to stand beside him.  

“It sure is,” Steve hasn’t been up this high much since he came out of the ice. Something about height not sitting right with him since… since he lost him.  But this view is nothing short of spectacular.

“Can I get you something to drink Captain Rogers?” Pepper asks eventually.

“Steve, and no thank you, I'm good,” Pepper gives him a nod and goes back to her desk, leaving Steve with the view while he waits.  She sneaks little looks at him as she gets back to work, but he pays it no mind. It’s not the usual staring he gets, this is much more calculating, like she’s assessing a threat. Which he thinks is fair considering that she seems to essentially run Tony’s life.  He’s torn from the view when he hears a door swing open with a bang to his left and Tony comes striding out, apparently still on his call.

“No Ben, unacceptable,” Steve can see an earpiece in Tony’s ear as he gesticulates wildly with his hands. He comes to a stop at Pepper’s desk and starts fiddling with the intricate desk ornament there.  Pepper instinctively reaches out a hand to take it from him without looking away from her screen, and puts it on the other side of her out of Tony’s reach. Steve tries to cover a smirk with his hand. “You tell them that they can stick their 12% up their ass. And DON’T come back to me until they’ve agreed to at least 17%.”

Tony rips the ear piece out and throws in on Pepper’s desk, clearly angry at whoever he’d been speaking to. He doesn’t seem to have even noticed Steve yet, so he takes the opportunity to look before he’s seen.  Tony is wearing black pinstripe slacks with a matching waistcoat, and a white shirt open at the collar, just like he had at the dinner. This time though, there’s a scarlet and gold striped tie at his neck that Steve assumes was tightened properly and straight when he started his day, but has clearly been tugged at and loosened as the day has gone on.  Tony’s hair is wilder than when Steve had first met him, and he’s clearly been running his hands through it, probably out of frustration. His eyes are flashing with an angry energy and Steve wants to reach out a hand and put Tony on his knees to calm down and wow , where did that come from?

“Pep, if Ben calls back today, tell him I'm not available. For the next decade. At least.” Tony instructs Pepper and Steve sees her roll her eyes.  Clearly this is nothing new. “And see if Sodi’s has a table for tonight.”

“Boss,” Pepper nods and goes back to her computer.  Steve watches Tony close his eyes and breath in deeply, blowing it out and giving himself a shake.  When he opens his eyes again, he startles when he finally sees Steve standing at the window.

“Cap, hi,” Tony blinks, then his face slides back into what Steve suspects is his Media Face and walks over to shake his hand. 

“Tony,” Steve smiles and takes the hand offered. They hold each others gaze for a few moments before Toy drops his hand and moves away towards the door he just came through.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?” Steve assumes that Tony means for him to follow, so he does and finds himself in Tony’s office and it’s not what he expected at all. There’s none of the glass and chrome in here, it’s more like the library of a large stately home. There’s wood paneling along two of the walls with built in shelves lined with books about engineering, mechanics, programming and physics as well as a whole host of other books that Steve can’t even wrap his mind around. Tony’s desk is huge and made of oak Steve thinks. It looks old. There’s an aged leather couch on one side and two matching chairs the other. Steve is reminded of the layout of the Oval Office, just on a more excessive scale. At the opposite end of the room however, there’s two metal and wood work benches scattered with bits of circuitry, metal parts and tools. That would explain the callouses on Tony’s hands then.

“I’m here on behalf of the Avengers actually, but i’m sure that Miss Potts has already told you,” Steve stops in front of Tony’s desk as he walks behind it and sprawls in his chair.  He waves a hand in the direction of the couch and chairs and Steve settles in one of the chairs. It gives him a direct line of sight to the door and it’s an old habit that will never fade.  He’s a soldier after all.

“Don’t S.H.I.E.L.D. usually handle all that shit?” Tony asks.  “I mean, aren’t you guys like, their super sexy superhero branch?”

“We work closely with S.H.I.E.L.D yes, but only because they’re the only agency currently equipped to help if we need them,” Steve says and he raises an eyebrow slightly at Tony’s swearing.  “But I thought it would be more beneficial to work directly with S.I. on Avengers business.”

“Don’t trust the one eyed wonder huh?” Tony asks.

“It’s not that I don’t trust Fury,” Steve continues, his lips twitching slightly.  “The Avengers are have a highly specific skill set so require highly specific equipment. For example, I've been through 6 punching bags in the last two days alone.”

Tony’s eyebrows disappear into his hairline at that because holy fuck. ..He knows that Steve is a supersolider, but six punching bags in 48 hours? That’s...that’s actually really hot. He also makes a mental note to look into designing a punching bag that will stand up to a supersoldier sulk. 

“I get it Cap, don’t worry. Genius, remember?” Tony smirks and gets up to walk over to a cabinet that Steve can see is filled with very expensive looking liquor.  Tony raises an eyebrow in question and Steve nods so he pours two glasses of scotch. He walks back over and passes Steve one of the glasses, fingers brushing briefly,  and then walks over to sit on the coach opposite, crossing his legs and lounging back with an arm up on the back.  “What you’re saying is that you want to use my brain and my company to make bespoke equipment for the Avengers without S.H.I.E.L.D. getting to play with any of them. To start with anyway.”

“More or less,” Steve replies with a nod and takes a sip of his scotch.  It’s excellent, of course. He watches Tony as he mulls it all over.  

“I think you might have a deal Cap,” Tony says eventually and leans forward.  “Now indulge my curiosity a little. Is that the only reason you’re here?”

“People keep asking me that,” Steve tilts his head as he watches Tony’s body language.  He’s open and engaged, but he’s also very clearly ready to run or fight if he perceives Steve to be any kind of threat.

“And why would that be I wonder?” Tony mimics Steve’s head tilt.

“Good question. Probably because we’re both unbonded, both hot, and both known the world over,” Steve states very matter-of-factly and Tony nearly chokes on his own tongue.  "People are nosy like that."

“Well, there’s that,” Tony replies when he can breathe again.  “But are they right?”

“Considering that we’re all of the above, yes they are,” Steve quirks his lips. “But that’s not what you meant, is it?”

“Very perceptive Captain,” Tony thinks that this is starting to get very interesting, and leaves his comment hanging in the air between them. 

The moment stretches on and Tony can’t seem to look away from the blue of Steve’s eyes, glued to his seat under his gaze. Then he thinks: what the hell, in for a penny, in for a pound and does something that Steve will most definitely not be expecting.  He puts his class down on the coffee table between them before very slowly unbuttoning the cuffs of his shirt and rolling back the sleeves to just below his elbow. He then rests his elbows on his knees and steeples his fingers, and he does it all without breaking eye contact with Steve. Tony knows it’s a massive risk, but when has he ever been one not to flirt with danger?  An unbonded sub rolling up their sleeves in the presence of a Dominant, any Dominant, is an invitation. It’s akin to a dog rolling over and showing you its belly. It’s exposing a part of the body where a Dominant puts symbols of ownership, things like cuffs and rope. Tony wants to see what Steve’s reaction is, how he’ll handle it.  Not only is the Captain a Dominant, he’s an Alpha. Showing Steve his forearms and wrists is a test, a challenge, and he wants to figure out what his motives truly are. It’s also a test of whether or not Tony can trust him. He watches as the blue of Steve’s eyes are swallowed by his pupils and his throat bobs as he swallows. Tony notices a twitch of fingers and thinks that maybe Steve’s body is telling him to reach out, to take, to claim, but he doesn’t.  He stays perfectly still in his chair and calmly brings the glass in his hand up to his lips for another sip, hands completely steady, his tongue chasing the amber liquid on his lips. He lets the silence between them stretch on as the air in Tony’s office starts to feel heavy, starts to close in. Steve can wait him out and he can already see Tony second guessing himself. It’s delicious. One of Steve’s favourite skills as a Dominant is his love of making a sub wait, of stretching out the anticipation as long as he can and letting the atmosphere around them fizz with it. And he’s thus far never been the one to give in first.  He can make it last for days if he wants to.

“That’s great Tony,” Steve says eventually, his voice rich and low and Tony shivers because oh, that’s so not fair, Steve using his Alpha voice like that.  “Shall I liaise with Pepper about it?”

Tony has to mentally shake himself and blink hard a few times to break the spell.  Fuck , all Steve did was look at him, what the hell?! That’s the Alpha in him, clearly.  It’s like he made the entire room fold in around them by just his presence and one look.  

“Sounds good,” Fuck, his voice sound ruined.  

“Great, I’ll speak with her on the way out,” Steve sits forward to put his glass down then stands and heads to the door.  He stops next to Tony and puts a hand very lightly on his shoulder and it feels like a searing brand to Tony. Then Steve leans down, using a little of his weight on Tony’s shoulder to make his point as he gets level with the side of Tony’s head, and being sure to enunciate every word he purrs in Tony’s ear “It’s been a pleasure, Anthony .”  He revels in the full body shudder and sharp intake of breath that his words and the tone of his voice get him. 

And then he’s gone.

Tony is frozen to the couch.  He knows that he should get up and see Steve out but he can’t seem to get his body to move.  He feels...he actually feels like he’s about ten seconds away from coming in his pants completely untouched and that's….

“What the fuck…

Chapter Text

Tony hides in his workshop for the next 4 days. 

He tells Pepper that he isn’t hiding, he says he’s geniusing thank you very much, but Pepper knows him better than that.  She’d noted Steve’s face when he’d walked out of Tony’s office, saw the blown eyes and the air of WANTWANTMINEMINE as he made arrangements with her for organising the contracts on the Avengers deal.  She also noted the look on Tony’s face when she went into his office to ask him how the meeting had gone.  He was still frozen on the couch, breathing heavy, dick tenting his dress pants and eyes hazy and heavy lidded. 

Pepper just knows.

Yeah, Tony is totally hiding. But hiding means inventing, and he’s been doing that almost non-stop for the whole four days.  Food appears as if by magic (Pepper or Happy more than likely), and he passes out for cat naps on the couch whenever J.A.R.V.I.S deems him too exhausted to carry on and shuts down all his computers.  He’s actually got a lot done, and the R&D department of S.I. have now got more than enough to keep them occupied for the next five years at least, but he still feels like he has an itch under his skin that he just can’t seem to scratch. He’s jerked off more times than he wants to admit, but it just seems to make it worse. A near constant four day hard-on is a painful and frustrating thing.

Sir, Colonel Rhodes is requesting entry

“Let him in J,” Tony sighs and slumps against his workbench.

“Smells like something died in here,” Rhodey screws his nose up as he walks into the workshop.  

“Love you too honey bear,” Tony huffs and lets Rhodey hug him from behind. 

“Seriously Tones, you fuckin’ stink,” Rhodey kisses the top of Tony’s head and then hops up to sit on the edge of the bench that Tony is sat at.  

“Yeah, well…”

“Pepper called me.”

“Ah.”

“Yeah, ah,” Rhodey replies.  “She’s worried about you. You need to me to go kick Captain America’s ass?”

“No,” Tony sighs and gives up trying to solder the wires in front of him to finally meet his best friend’s eyes.  “Although, I'd pay good money to see that.”

“Pervert,” Rhodey laughs, then his face turns serious.  “You OK Tones?”

“I’m always OK,” Tony pastes a smile on his face, but knows that Rhodey can see the dark circles under his eyes, the sag of his shoulders, and knows that he’s lying.  

“Uh-huh,” Rhodey’s brow creases in worry, but he knows that Tony will tell him when he’s good and ready.  “You still need a shower though.”

“Tell you what, I’ll go shower IF you say yes to going out tonight,” Tony points a wrench at Rhodey, who rolls his eyes.  “Let’s go out, find some company, get wasted and be thoroughly debauched?”

“Tony…” Rhodey warns. He hates is when his best friend gets like this. Hyper, sleep deprived and horny. It always means nothing but trouble.

Please Rhodey, I need it,” Tony tries not to plead, but fails miserably.  “I just...I need…”

“Yeah, OK,” Rhodey sighs in defeat.  “If it means it gets you in the shower, I’m down.”

“You’re a doll!”

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

Rhodey is currently regretting every single one of his life choices.

Tony has dragged him to one of New York’s most exclusive clubs and is now watching his best friend being sandwiched between no less than three pretty young things that are grinding all over him. Tony is well on his way to being blind drunk and he doesn’t seem to have a care in the world right now as he joins the writhing bodies on the dance floor. The only reason that Rhodey had said yes to this was to get Tony out of his basement workshop and back to reality. He knows how Tony gets if he hides for too long, knows how hard it is for him to adjust back to work and life. He also knows that what he really needs is a firm hand to take him down and apart with cuffs and a whip, then piece him back together with praise and soft touches. He knows that he’ll offer that later when they get home, because he always does when Tony gets like this. And Tony will say no, like he always does, because he refuses to put Rhodey in that position. Then he’ll go to one of his preferred places tomorrow and have a stranger do it instead because that means he doesn’t have to burden his friends with having to take care of him. Again. 

There’s a commotion over by the bar and Rhodey’s head snaps around to seek out the source of the noise.

It’s the Avengers.

Or rather, Hawkeye doing his best to hold The Black Widow back from trying to shiv someone with a broken glass.  Rhodey watches as Falcon gets himself in between his teammates and the guy that has really just fucked with the wrong people and yup, there’s Captain America.

Great. This is just fan-fucking- tastic.

Rhodey looks back at Tony who hasn’t yet seen what’s going on at the bar, thank fuck. Maybe he can get Tony out of here before he sets eyes on the Captain because fuck, Rhodey really doesn’t want to have to deal with this shit right now.  He starts to make his way to the dance floor so that he can drag Tony out of the crowd and away, but all the writhing bodies are making it difficult. He gets there eventually, wedging himself in between Tony and a very young looking sub.

RHOOOODDDEEEEEEE ,” Tony grins maniacally and grabs hold of his friend to try and get him to join in.  

“Time to go Tones,” Rhodey says in his ear and tries to stop Tony from climbing him like a tree.  His best friend has always been tactile, but when he’s drunk he will try and fuck literally anyone.  He's used to it.

“Nooooooo,” Tony complains while trying to grind his hips against Rhodey.  

Yes Tony, c’mon,” Rhodey takes Tony by the wrist and starts to drag him away from the dancefloor and out to the club lobby.  He knows that Happy will be waiting outside with the car, and the mansion is only about 30 minutes away. Tony is trying to pull away, not getting far, and then he hears:

“OH MY GOD! CAPTAIN AMERICA!”

Tony stops pulling and they both turn to see most of the crowd on the dancefloor looking towards the bar, some of them pointing.

Rhodey is way too fucking sober for this…

Tony’s eyes light up and starts to try and pull Rhodey over to the bar where the Avengers are all standing.  He can see security and Falcon pulling the guy who had started the whole thing towards one of the emergency exits.  

“Tony c’mon, lets go,” Rhodey knows he’s going to lose this fight, but at least he can say he tried. He gives up and lets himself be dragged through the excited crowd to where the Avengers are, bracing  himself for whatever Drunk Tony is about to do or say. At least he’s sober so he’ll be able to step in when he needs to.

“Steeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeve ,” Tony almost squeals (yes, Tony Stark squeals) with excitement and delight as he makes a beeline for Captain America, Rhodey forgotten because fuck , Steve looks good enough to eat. He’s wearing tight black jeans and a royal blue Henley with a deep V-neck that looks at least two sizes too small, showing off more of his chest tattoo. And god , he’s cut the hair around the sides of his head short and left it longer on the top and Tony needs.   “Heeeeeeeey!”

Steve turns and is stunned to find Tony standing, swaying a little. And god, he looks amazing : all tousled hair and pink, swollen lips and Steve wants.                     

“Tony, what are you doing here?” Smooth Steve, real smooth. He pointedly ignores Clint’s sniggering.

“It’s a free country Steeeeeve , thanks to you,” Tony’s grin is a little lopsided as he jabs  Steve on the chest, which he tries not to find adorable because the sub is pretty drunk.

“Yeah, Steve, ” Nat agrees as she steps forward around Steve.  “Natasha, hi.”

“HOLY SHIT!” Tony’s eyes go wide and he slaps a hand over his mouth as he realises who Steve is standing with. “BLACK WIDOW! AND HAWKEYE!” Clint waves at him with a lopsided smile.

“I apologise for my friend the fanboy here,” Rhodey steps forward looking exasperated and offers his hand to Steve.  “Colonel James Rhodes Sir, nice to meet you.”

“Colonel, a pleasure,” Steve smiles and takes the proffered hand to shake.  “And don’t worry, we get it a lot. Just not from the CEO of Stark Industries.”

“Hey, Rhodes!” Sam is back from helping out Security and the two men embrace each other for a moment.  “Good to see you buddy!”

“Likewise Wilson,” Rhodey hugs back.  “Long time no see.”

“Yeah, been busy with these idiots,” Sam jerks his head towards the other Avengers, which gets a snort of laughter from Steve.

“Aww, are you guys having a moment?” Tony interrupts and a look of realisation crosses Sam’s face.

“Wait, the Tony you talk about is Tony Stark?” Sam asks Rhodey. 

“One and the same,” Rhodey sighs wearily. He’s not ashamed of his friendship with Tony, far from it. But Tony is the CEO of the biggest supplier of weaponry to the military, and given his own position in the ranks, he’s never wanted  his friendship with Tony to be taken advantage of.  

“Oh man….”Sam laughs as he looks at Tony, who looks confused and a little hurt to be laughed at.  “Don’t worry, he never says anything bad about you Tony, I swear.”

“Then you’re definitely not getting the whole truth,” Tony waggles his finger at Rhodey, narrowing his eyes.  “And I can assure you that i’m way more fun that he says.”  Steve snorts at that and Tony turns to look at him.  “What’s so funny, Spangles?”

“Nothing Tony,” Steve grins and god, Tony is feeling some kinda way about Captain America’s predatory look.  Tony can’t help sneaking glances at the bits of the tattoo he can see, too drunk to care if Steve notices. It looks like a collection of roses, all intertwined with thorns and Tony wonders what it’s going to take to convince Steve to let him see the whole thing.  Steve catches him looking and raises an eyebrow at the drunk genius, and he can see Tony thinking about what he’d purred in his ear a week ago.

“So Captain Tight Pants, what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” Tony is a shameless flirt when he’s sober, but when drunk? Yeah, absolutely no filter at all.  He’s vaguely aware of Natasaha laughing, but he’s more focused on Steve’s eyes widening a fraction, his pupils slowly expanding. He remembers what Steve said to him just before he left his office last week and he’s never one to back down from a challenge. Plus, he’s horny as fuck and Steve just so happens to be the owner of the most perfect body in existence, and he’s standing there looking less of a snack and more like a whole goddamn meal. 

“Well believe it or not Tony, I actually like to go out and have fun with my friends,” Steve smirks and Natasha laughs even more.  “Or did you expect me to be the kind of fella who stays at home wearing khakis with a crease ironed down the middle while he listens to the wireless every night? I may be 98 sweetheart, but I'm not dead.”

“Whoever taught you sarcasm should be fired,” Tony narrows his eyes and jabs a finger at Steve again.  

The evening goes on much in the same way: Tony making jibes at Steve and the blond batting them right back him. He knows that Tony is testing the water, seeing how far he can push before Steve’s had enough. He isn’t counting on Steve’s endless patience, though, which means the Avenger is just thoroughly enjoying watching Tony try to push all his buttons. They’ve moved from the bar to one of the VIP booths, which is a lot more comfortable and a little quieter. As it’s on a raised platform at the side of the club, it affords them a view of the entire cavernous room, which settles Steve and his teammates more than standing by the bar does. This way, they can see all the exits and pretty much the whole club. There’s an intricate chrome railing that runs the length of the booth and Steve is leaning back against it, both elbows propped up behind him and a bottle of beer hanging between his fingers as he watches his team have fun with Tony and Rhodey. It makes a nice change and it calms something deep in his chest as he watches Clint, Nat and Sam relax and let loose. Feeling soft and affectionate, clambers over Sam to make his way over to Steve.

“Having fun Capsicle?” Tony grins as he mimics Steve stance against the railings.  

“Very much so,” Steve replies and takes a swig of his beer. He can’t get drunk: the serum processes the alcohol too fast for that, but he likes the taste.  “It’s good to see them kick back, y’know? They needed this.”

“Who would have thought that Captain America is just a big softie?” Tony jokes and shoulder bumps Steve who just rolls his eyes.

“They’re my teammates. It’s part of my job to make sure that they’re happy,” Steve bumps back, maybe with a little more force just to see Tony drop to his left a bit and scowl at him.

“And are you? Happy?” Tony asks. He has to tilt his head up a little to look at Steve’s face. The Captain scratches his beard thoughtfully for a moment and Tony watches several emotions pass over his face.

“I am,” He says eventually and gives Tony a warm smile, blue eyes lingering on the sub’s plump lips for a moment before flitting back to his eyes.  “Although sometimes I wonder if there’s something missing.”

“Oh?”

Steve just hums and keeps looking into Tony’s eyes, delighted as he watches the brown being swallowed by black. Leaning as they both are, they’re touching almost all the way down one side and Steve inches the pinky on his hand next to Tony towards the other, brushing the side of his hand. He watches as Tony’s lips part a little then as his bottom lip get caught in his teeth.

“Sometimes I think I'd be happier if I had someone to cherish,” Steve drops his voice into his Alpha tone and Tony’s eyes flutter closed briefly.  He leans over a little so that his mouth is closer to Tony’s ear. “I’d treat them so good, Anthony , like they're the most precious thing in this world.”

Tony can feel his knees weakening with every word Steve says, the  deep, rich tone that seeming to trickle down his spine like treacle. He can’t stop the shiver that ripples through his entire body at the use of his full name and since when was that even a thing for him? Maybe it’s just when Steve says it that way.

“Yeah?” Is all he manages to breathe out when Steve’s mouth gets close enough to his ear that he can feel warm breath against his skin, sending a wave of goosebumps skittering across his flesh.

“Mm-hmm,” Steve rumbles and turns his body towards Tony so that he’s leaning on one elbow and pressed even closer. God, he’s beautiful, Steve thinks as he takes in the flush rushing up Tony’s whole body.  He brings his other hand up to push a wave of Tony’s hair back from his face, fingers skimming across his ear and settling at the base of his skull, huge and warm. He lowers his head even further until they’re almost nose to nose.  “I always take care of what’s mine.”

Tony can’t stop his eyes sliding shut, or the moan that escapes the back of his throat, he really can’t. His body has taken over and it sways towards Steve’s solid body. The hand cradling his head is so gentle, completely belying the strength that he knows sits coiled in every muscle. He can hear the blood rushing in his ears as he feels Steve’s words ghost over his lips and he suddenly wonders what Steve tastes like.  He throws all caution to the wind and angles his head a little as he leans forward and….

“AHEM.”

The moment is broken and Steve pulls away leaving Tony a little bereft of all that warmth and promise.

“Oh I’m sorry, did I step on your moment?” Natasha’s grin is far from innocent as she passes Steve a fresh beer.  Tony sees Steve roll his eyes at her and then exchange what looks to be an entire conversation in a just series of wordless looks.  

“Gotta piss,” is all Tony manages to force out before he’s heading for the bathroom at an almost jog. He’s relieved to find it empty for the moment and goes to one of the basins so that he can splash cold water on his face and get a fucking grip on his libido before he has to go back out to his friends.  He leans his forehead against the cool surface of the mirror over the basins and tries to remember how to breathe. Tony Stark does not submit, to anyone, ever. And right now, he wants to do exactly that with Steve and it’s fucking terrifying. His knees actually feel weak, wanting to betray him and finally give out so that he can sink to the floor in front of Steve leaving himself pliant and open. His body wants it so much that it feels like an actual physical burning  under his skin. He wants Steve to tell him how good he is, how perfect as he fucks Tony’s throat. He wants to see Steve’s intricate web of knotted rope against his skin as he’s spread open, laid bare. He wants to feel the exquisite, white hot sting of Steve’s whip across his back as he holds still like he’s been told to. He wants Steve’s plug, nestled in his ass all day to keep him open and ready to be taken whenever Steve wants him. Fuck, he wants it all, but his brain is keeping him in check, reminding him that he’s not a possession, a trinket to be owned, that’s not who he is. Submitting to Steve, to anyone, would mean that he’s no longer free to work, to run Stark Industries. That would all pass to Steve if they bonded, and Steve doesn’t strike Tony as the kind of Dominant that would let him carry on doing what he does. He’s Captain America, Mr Apple Pie Life. He’d expect Tony to take a back seat, stay at home, do the dishes. Well fuck that, never happening. Maybe he can get Steve to fuck him tonight just so that he can say he’s fucked the Star Spangled Man once. A sparkly new notch on his bedpost, something to tell the grandkids about.  Yeah, Tony can do that, and that’s exactly how he’d like tonight to end. He pushes off the mirror and takes a look at himself. He looks wrecked, which is actually OK if he’s honest. Hopefully it’ll make Steve want to fuck him up even more.

“Well, well, what do we have here?” A drawl comes from the entrance to the bathroom and Tony’s eyes flick up in the mirror to see a wiry looking Dominant with short cropped dark hair and predatory eyes raking Tony up and down. He’s well built but not overly so, definitely bigger than Tony (who isn’t?) and the tight shirt isn’t doing anything to hide well muscled arms that Tony eyes warily.

“Beat it Fonzie,” Tony fires a warning shot as his eyes go back to his reflection and he tries to make his hair look less like someone grabbed hold of it.

“What did you say slut?” The Dom says and starts to stalk towards Tony, anger flaring in his eyes and Tony is rapidly sobering up and looking for an escape route.

“You heard me,” Tony never backs down from a fight, and he’s not about to start now with this douchebag. He sticks his chin out in defiance and turns away from the mirror to face his approaching potential attacker and squares his shoulders.  “I said fuck off.”

“Quite the mouth you’ve got on you,” The man sneers and stops a few steps away, eyeing Tony hungrily.  “I've got something much more fun you can use it for.”

“Pretty sure I’d have a job finding it,” Tony leers back, dragging his eyes down to the man’s crotch then back up again.  The man’s eyes have gone dark, dangerous and Tony makes a mental note to have a harsh word with his brain-to-mouth filter later if he makes it out unscathed.  This is getting scary really fucking quickly and he prays that someone is going to need to piss soon because there’s no way he’s going to be able to keep this guy off him if he has to fight. The atmosphere in the bathroom changes in an instant and Tony doesn’t know he’s been punched until he feels the searing pain across his cheek as his head snaps to the side from the impact. Time stands still for a few seconds, then everything starts to happen as if it’s in slow motion. He sees another blow coming but can’t dodge it in time and he feels the world tilt to the right before the white, blinding pain of the side of his head meets the solid mass of the basin. He doesn’t have time to try and right himself or to scramble away before another punch lands, smashing his face against the basin a second time. Then he’s being dragged up upwards by his hair and thrown towards one of the bathroom stalls. Tony stops himself from going face first into the toilet bowl by putting his arms out in front of him, but he feels the jarring of muscle and bone as he catches himself. The man follows him in, hauls him up by the back of his shirt and slams him into the cold tile of the toilet wall face first and locks the stall door with his other hand.

“Gonna teach you a lesson you little sub bitch,” He hisses in Tony’s ear, a hand against his head pushing the side of his face that he hit on the basin into the tile making him cry out as blazing pain shoots across his skull.  “Pretty thing like you with that mouth and no collar acting like a whore. You want it. You need it.”

Please ...d..don’t…” Tony is sobbing and he doesn’t care. He can’t see out of one eye and he can feel it swelling rapidly, the cheekbone underneath shifting around where it’s pressed against the cold tile like it definitely shouldn’t. He’s pretty sure that his skull is cracked too and he knows exactly what’s about to happen if he doesn’t try to stop it. But his head is getting foggier by the second and he can feel himself getting pulled closer and closer to blacking out completely. Maybe that would be better he thinks, to be out cold while it happens. But he’s got to at least try. He takes a second to try and clear the cotton wool in his head then makes a sharp jab backwards with his elbow into the man’s ribs, taking him by surprise so that he stumbles back a bit. It gives Tony enough room to make a lunge towards the stall door and he gets his hand on the lock but the man grabs his wrist and twists his arm up and back towards his shoulders making Tony scream in pain. He’s shoved back against the wall face first, cheekbone grinding on the porcelain.

“I’m gonna make sure this fucking hurts slut,” The man growls and Tony screws his eyes closed, wishing for unconsciousness to pull him under, drown him so that he doesn’t have to be awake for this. He hears his pants rip and feels air against the naked skin of his ass and the top of his thighs. Then he hears the belt followed by the zipper of the man’s jeans being undone before a dry finger is shoved into his opening making Tony scream and struggle. It burns, and the shoulder of the arm still being held behind his back feels like it’s about to pop out of its socket as he tries to break free. “Fight all you want you little cunt, this is happening.”

Another finger is shoved in and Tony screams again as he feels something tear. The pain is blinding and there’s nothing he can do about it. He thinks he might be sick as he feels his asshole get wet not with lube, but with blood. His head swims as he fights down the bile and the panic, trying to get the hand that’s trapped between his hip and the wall out so that he can flail behind him, but the man sees it coming and stops shoving his finger inside Tony to grab his wrist before he can try and claw his face. That arm joins the first in being twisted behind him, and how fucking big are this guy’s hands that he can hold both of Tony’s arms behind him with just one hand?

Tony is finally, finally being pulled into the abyss as three fingers are shoved back inside him, that blinding pain shooting up his spine again, and he’s grateful for the blackness closing in around his vision. Suddenly he hears a bang and the weight against his back and the fingers in his ass are gone and he slithers to the floor of the stall. His ruined pants pool around him, mixed with his blood and he presses himself back to curl around the toilet bowl and make himself as small as possible. He hears shouting, then a shattering noise - glass Tony thinks groggily, then dull thuds and more shouting and the sound of more smashing noises.  He flinches when he feels hands on him, but they’re not cruel, they don’t want to hurt him. There’s a hand in his hair and one on the side of his face that isn’t ground to a pulp. He feels something being wrapped around him, then he’s being lifted and held against a warm, solid mass that’s rumbling under his cheek. He smells hints of sandalwood, soap and cinnamon and his brain supplies safehomesleep and he goes boneless. He burrows deeper into the warmth and keeps his eyes closed. There are hands on him again, but they’re gentle, kind. He thinks he’s moving but it could be because his head is swimming again, and his innards suddenly try to crawl out of his throat. He lurches to the side, not wanting to throw up on the safe, warm mass underneath him and empties the contents of his stomach onto the floor of the bathroom. He hears it splatter on the tiled floor and tries to say sorry but his voice sounds strange in his head, slurred and mumbled. The arms around him tighten a little, holding him closer as he feels his mouth being wiped with something and then he’s moving again.

He doesn’t remember anything after that.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

The swim back up to consciousness is long and tough, like he’s moving through jello, never quite making it to the surface. He dreams of dark eyes, bathroom tiles and blood as he screams into an echo like chamber of nothingness. He dreams of bright blue eyes and roses bathed in sunlight. Those are the nights that his sleep is long and dreamless, when he hears voices, murmurs in the dark that sound familiar and comforting, but he can’t place them, not yet. He dreams of calm, cloudless skies the colour of blue that reminds him of something else that he can’t quite remember. He watches as equations take the place of the stars in the night sky, laying out neverending wonders before him, stretching out forever as he runs after them.  

He only sees flashes when he manages to break the surface, snapshots in time. Sometimes it’s dark and he sees only shadows. Sometimes it’s too bright and he falls back again, shying away from the light. He remembers soft touches to his hands and face, gentle murmurs. There are times when the hands are firmer and they roll him, shifting him around. He feels sharp stinging pain and the wetness on his cheeks as he cries. He hears the sounds of machines beeping, muffled and syrupy. He remembers the smell of clinical things, alcohol and metal. Then that smell of sandalwood and cinnamon again and he tries to chase after it, tries to reach for it and the warmth and safety he associates with it. The smell of summer rain and lilies is there more often than not, as is the aroma of metal and autumn fires. He knows those smells he thinks and knows they’re safe. There are new smells too mingled with the familiar: vanilla and spice as well as citrus and gunpowder and then coconut and engine oil. He finds them all comforting: safehomesleep.

Tony eventually claws his way up through the darkness to the light and when he blinks awake he finds himself in his bed at the mansion. The curtains are drawn, the bedside lamps throwing a soft light across his bedroom. He can’t tell what time of day it is, but he doesn’t think he cares right now. He’s home, safe.  He’s propped up, angled to one side against a wedge of pillows behind him and he lies still as he takes stock of his body. His toes, feet and legs seem fine, but there’s a dull, stabbing ache in his ass and his breath stutters when his brain supplies fragments of why. Moving up, his stomach and chest feel a little sore, the sheets a little lumpy from bandages he thinks, but nothing too bad. His shoulders are aching and sore, but his face feels the worst. He brings a hand up to feel and notices a cannula in the back of it and follows the tube up to a drip hanging by his bed.  He skims his fingers as gently as he can over his face and winces when he feels stitches and swelling. He flops his hand back down and blinks at the ceiling. How long has be been out? What happened? Who found him? 

He freezes when he feels movement to his right and turns his head slowly before he lets out a breath when he sees Rhodey.

“Hey honey bear,” Tony croaks and fuck he needs a drink. Rhodey’s eyes blink open, taking a moment to register what he just heard, then he’s wide awake and sitting up, hand hovering over Tony.

“Tony,” Rhodey breaths, his eyes full of concern.  “What’s wrong? What do you need?”

“Water,” Tony manages to croak out before a coughing fit takes over. Rhodey quickly climbs off the bed and hurries round to Tony’s side of the bed to get the bottle of water there and helps Tony sit up enough to be able to drink. He takes it with both hands, shaking a little but downs half the bottle in one go.  Rhodey perches on the edge of the bed by Tony’s hip and watches his friend slump back against the pillows.

“How long have I been out?”

“Five days,” Rhodey answers and rubs his face.  Tony hums in reply and then a silence falls over them.

“Did they get him?”

“They did,” Rhodey answers and reaches for his friend’s hand to lace their fingers together.  “He’s locked up waiting for his case to go to court. Attempted rape and assaulting an unbonded submissive is a serious charge Tones. Brock Rumlow is gonna be put away for at least ten years, maybe more. Turns out this isn’t the first time he’s tried this..”

“How...what…?”

“Steve tried to put him through a wall,” Rhodey replies with a genuine smile. That would have been the shattering sound that Tony remembers hearing then.  “It was awesome Tones, you should have seen it. You were taking a while in the bathroom so we went to see if you were OK. Steve walked into the bathroom first and when he heard you scream, he didn’t even blink, he just fuckin’ snapped. He threw Rumlow across the room then tried to use him as a wrecking ball. I’ve never seen an Alpha in action before, dude didn’t stand a fucking chance. “

Tony’s chest does a weird fluttery thing and if smiling didn’t hurt so much, he thinks his smile would be wider than his face right now. Steve did that, for him.

“And no-one thought to record any of it for me?” Tony jokes.

“Clint tried but…. Tasha,” Rhodey chuckles and yeah, he wouldn’t fuck with the Black Widow either.  

“Ok,” Tony exhales slowly.  “What’s the damage then sweetcheeks?”

“Tony…”

“Tell me, please? I...I need to know,” Tony pleads.

“You sure Tones? Cos it ain’t pretty.”

“Please?”

“OK,” Rhodey sucks in the breath. “Cracked skull, but nothing serious. Broken eye socket and cheek, dislocated shoulder and torn rotator cuff. And….”

“Tell me.”

“He...Tony….he tore you and they had to stitch it. It took them awhile to get the bleeding under control enough to fix it. It… it was messy Tones, real bad,” Rhodey doesn’t look at his friend, but he squeezes their hands together tighter.  “But it’s gonna be OK. Doc says there’ll be no permanent damage and you’re already halfway there. It’s gonna itch like a bitch though.”

Tony can feel the panic rising and he concentrates on his breathing and Rhodey’s reassuring presence, filling his senses with the Dominant. Then he notices Rhodey’s scent: metal and autumn fires.

“Who carried me?”

“Huh?”

“I remember being picked up and carried, who was it?”

“Steve,” Rhodey looks a little puzzled for a moment before he catches on. “Didn’t let go until he handed you over to the ER doctors.”

Tony’s chest does that thing again and this time he really does smile, stitches and swelling be damned.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

It’s another week before Tony can get out of bed and get down to his workshop. His legal team come to see him in bed along with Pepper and the police.  Pepper’s eyes are red-rimmed and bloodshot and she never lets go of his hand when he has to recount every last detail that he can recall to the police. He sobs silently into her shoulder when the others have left and she strokes his hair and holds him close.

Clint, Sam and Natasha come to see him too and they play poker, all sat cross-legged on his enormous bed. They bring donuts with them and they tease him -  it’s nice Tony thinks. They make him laugh and they don’t treat him like he’s made of glass.

Steve doesn’t visit.

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

Welcome back Sir

“Hey buddy,” Tony winces as he walks gingerly into the workshop.  His ass goes from itchy to stinging a hundred times a day and he’s so fucking done with it. Still, the nurse who comes to clean the dressing twice a day says it’s healing well and that it won’t be long before she won’t need to visit. He makes sure to pay her triple because he may be Tony Stark, but who the fuck wants to clean his asshole twice a day? He tried to pay her rent for a year too, but she refused. Eh, he tried.

Now that he’s back in workshop he thinks he could use the enforced downtime to get some work done, but he can’t seem to focus on anything. His mind keeps dragging him back to how defenceless he felt in that bathroom, how useless. He should have been able to put up more of a fight. He sends an email to Pepper asking her to start finding the best personal trainers and self-defence teachers that New York has to offer.  Then he remembers a project that he’d shelved years ago, something that was a passing fancy when he was at M.I.T. but had dismissed in favor of J.A.R.V.I.S. and his two ‘bots DUM-E and Y.O.U.

“Jarvis, do you still have all my M.I.T. files locked down in your auxiliary memory banks?” Tony asks and waves his hands in a very specific way in front of him so that blue, floating numbers and shapes appear out of thin air in front of him.

Of course Sir, I store everything. Is there something in particular that you would like me to bring up?

Yes J-Man, there is,” Tony smiles then because yeah, this is gonna be awesome.  “Show me all the files you have stored on the Iron Man project.”



Chapter Text

Steve is beating the shit out of yet another punchbag, trying not to think about the fact that he hasn’t been to visit Tony since he’d left the hospital and gone home to his mansion with round-the-clock medical care. He also tries not to remember what Tony looked like when he’d thrown open the door to the toilet stall and found Rumlow knuckles deep in Tony’s bleeding ass while the sub was screaming himself hoarse. Instead, he tries to concentrate on how it felt to shove Rumlow through the tiles of the bathroom before Rhodey and his teammates had held him back. It had taken all four of them, and the only reason Steve had let go of Tony’s attacker was because he didn’t want to have a murder on his hands. But fuck, he’d wanted to snap Rumlow’s fucking neck for what he’d done to Tony, to keep grinding that snarling face into the broken tiles until there was no face left. His Alpha side had completely taken over, and it was only the voices of his friends that brought him back to a semblance of sanity and made him step away. The cops and the courts can deal with Rumlow… and Tony has the best lawyers in New York.

Steve remembers Clint wrapping his jacket around Tony to cover as much of him as possible, and then moving to slide his arms gently around the bleeding sub, pulling him in close to lift him up  and get him the fuck out of there. Happy had been waiting in the car outside and he’d driven to the hospital as fast as he could, while Steve and Rhodey both tried to soothe Tony with quiet voices and gentle touches.  Both of the Dominants had realised that they had to keep Tony awake, keep him calm before he could spiral into a head space that no sub wants to go to. It’s an extremely dangerous place to be, and there are recorded cases of subs who have never come back from that experience. Once at the hospital, Steve hadn’t let go of Tony until the ER doctors prised their patient away from his arms with gentle reassurances.  After that, Steve never left Tony’s side the entire time he was in the hospital, watching over him while he was being kept in a medically-induced coma to stop his brain from swelling further after the impact with the basin.  

Steve had watched as Pepper came bursting into the room and climbed into bed to wrap herself around Tony’s body, sobbing into into the skin of his neck. She hadn’t left until Rhodey had managed to coax her into going home to at least shower and get a change of clothes. She was back within the hour.

Rhodey and Steve kept a bedside vigil, sleeping upright in the hard plastic chairs supplied with the room.  Rhodey had gone back to the mansion a couple of times to shower and change, but, like Pepper, he’d been right back as quickly as he could. 

Clint, Natasha and Sam came by a few times a day to bring Steve food and to keep watch over Tony when Steve had to take calls from Fury out in the hallway. They would talk to each other over Tony’s bed, laughing and bickering quietly as they always did.  Steve knew it was because each one of them had had to watch one of the others in the same situation countless times, knew that although Tony was unconscious, he could still hear them to a degree. They did it because they weren’t sure how else to offer comfort so they just went with what they knew.

Steve was eventually convinced by Sam to go home and get some decent sleep and food as well as clean himself up. He’d lasted three hours before he was back at the hospital. He couldn’t understand why he was so drawn to the young sub lying motionless in a hospital bed, but he knew wanted to be there, and close. It made no sense as they barely knew each other, having only seen each other three brief times, but he felt the pull like a deep-rooted longing right to his very core. 

After nearly three days, Pepper arranged for Tony to be moved to the mansion as she knew he’d be more comfortable there, efficiently organising round-the-clock medical care  and transport. She’d asked Steve if he’d wanted to come with them, but he’d declined. The mansion was Tony’s home, and he didn’t have the sub’s express permission to be there, to be in his personal space. Pepper said she understood, and that her asking was essentially as good as Tony asking, but she couldn’t change his mind. He didn’t want Tony to wake up and discover that an unbonded Dominant, and an Alpha at that, had been in the space of an unbonded submissive without that sub’s direct permission.  Pepper had hugged him and thanked him again, and then made him promise to visit the mansion when Tony was awake and able to proffer the invitation himself. 

So he’s stayed away, and he feels like the worst fucking coward for not going to see Tony. He desperately wants to, but he’s actually scared about his feelings towards the gorgeous young sub. The draw he feels towards him, the longing that seems to have settled over him. Steve hasn’t felt this pull of want since...since Bucky. It fucking terrifies him.  

Pepper calls him regularly to keep him updated on Tony’s recovery, even though he hasn’t asked her to, and he appreciates it more than she knows.

“Tony has asked me to find him someone to help get him in better shape,” Pepper says one afternoon, after she’s updated him on Tony’s healing.  “And someone to teach him some basic self defence moves. Wouldn’t happen to know where I could find someone like that, would you?”

Steve can see what she’s doing, and smiles into his phone because she’s sneaky as hell. And he knows that he’s not the best person to do what she’s asking, not while he’s still trying to work through how he’s feeling.

“As a matter of fact, I do.”

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

Pepper has ordered Tony to stay away from the office for as long as he needs, which suits him perfectly because he’s always preferred to be in his workshop anyway. He does the whole boardroom and meetings thing when he has to, but he’s always been better when he’s elbow deep in metalwork or computer parts. It calms his mind to be able to build things, to shape things. After dusting off the Iron Man plans, Tony dived head first into building the thing. The project was something he had thought about since he was a child, but he’d never had the means to do it until now. So he spends his recovery time crafting and shaping, bringing the exo-armour to life. Each part is a shield, made to measure to the curves and angles of his body. Each section is an extension of himself just stronger, better. He has to build the machines to help him build it first, and that means that he has to upgrade J.A.R.V.I.S. to do it, pride blooming in his chest as he watches his finest creation evolving and learning. It makes him feel powerful and useful. It helps him to push the feeling of weakness that Rumlow’s attack has left him with to the back of his mind. It feels good. And if he’s drinking a little more than he usually does, he tries not to think about that either.

Sir, Agent Romanoff and Agent Barton are requesting entry

Tony looks up from what he’s doing with a puzzled look on his face. Clint and Natasha? Huh. He waves his hands over the floating images of the Iron Man armour and it disappears before he throws a tarp over the already fabricated parts on another of the workbenches. He’s not sure he wants S.H.I.E.L.D. finding out about what he’s doing. At least, not yet.

“Let ‘em in J,” He pushes the welding mask up as the door to the workshop slides open and the pair walk in.  “Not that I don’t love seeing both your pretty faces, but to what do I owe the pleasure.”

“Pepper said you needed a trainer,” Natasha says succinctly as she approaches Tony to give him a hug. 

“I told her I needed a personal trainer, not assassination lessons,” Tony’s lips curve into a smirk. 

“She also said that you wanted to learn some self defence,” Clint hugs Tony as Natasha moves away. 

“So she called in the Murder Twins?” Tony shakes his head because of course Pepper would get the best. “Don’t you guys have like, super secret spy stuff to do?”

“We do,” Clint shrugs, hopping up to crouch on the edge of the workbench next to Tony. “But there’s not much doing right now so…”

Tony suspects that this is not just Pepper’s doing, and he stamps down the disappointment he can feel in his chest that it’s not Steve currently standing in his workshop. He spends the next couple of hours with Clint and Nat  putting together a plan to help him up his stamina and build some muscle. He’s secretly pleased because the Iron Man suit is going to require more muscle mass than he currently has. They laugh and joke, then order pizza and Tony feels more relaxed than he has in weeks. By the time Clint and Nat leave, they have a plan for the next few months and Tony is actually looking forward to starting to train with the pair of them.

He very quickly revises that thought.

“You’re not paying attention Stark,” Natasha sounds frustrated as she pulls Tony back up off the mat in the mansion gym again.  He resolutely ignores Clint’s snickering from his perch on the window ledge. “And you’re getting frustrated which is making you sloppy.”

Yeah I'm getting frustrated,” Tony grunts as he gets his feet under him. And he is, it’s fucking irritating. He’s a fucking genius, why can’t he get this?  “You keep putting me on my ass and it’s pissing me the fuck off.”

“The more pissy you get, the more Tasha is gonna kick your ass,” Clint says as he drops down from the window to join them on the mat.  “It clouds your judgement. Y’gotta let it go man.”

“And how do you propose I do that birdie?” Tony tries really hard to keep his rising anger out of his tone but fails miserably, but Clint just shrugs it off like he usually does.

“I can show you a few things to help you centre yourself, help clear your mind,” Clint smiles putting a hand on Tony’s shoulder.  “I spend a lot of my job having to sit still when I'm out in the field. It’s a skill I had to learn, but it really helps.”

“You? Sitting still?” Tony snorts.

“He’s surprisingly good at it when he has to be,” Nat smirks, and Tony feels the tension he was holding in his shoulders start to ease.

“Ok Legolas, I'm in.”

And that’s how Tony starts to learn about yoga and meditation, something that he would never have tried before but which he is extremely glad to have discovered now. Gradually, he learns how to push his frustration when he’s sparring with Natasha into a box so that it doesn’t cloud his judgement. He even manages to land a few kicks on occasion, which surprises all three of them.  He feels his body getting stronger as the weeks go on and it feels good. He’s even sleeping better and eating properly rather than just surviving on coffee and cat naps.

What he can’t help getting frustrated about though is the fact that it’s been nearly two months since Rumlow, and he hasn’t heard from Steve once. It grates at him and he tries not to pick at it, but on the days when he’s alone working on the Iron Man suit, his mind strays to the Captain and his anger then gets the better of him. Why hasn’t Steve come to see him? Sure, Tony could get his number from Pepper, but why should he be the one to reach out first? Does he see Tony as tainted now, after seeing him at his most vulnerable? Is he disgusted by him because he’d been violated? But... Steve had been the one who had cradled him to his chest and not let go until they got to the ER. Maybe he was staying away because he felt overly protective about a sub that wasn’t his, Tony thought. Whatever the reason, the thoughts and fears continued to fester in Tony’s mind like a disease.

“Why hasn’t Steve been to visit?” Tony blurts out one afternoon while Clint shows him some new yoga poses, instantly regretting his outburst and blushing a violent shade of red “And why did he send you and Nat rather than come himself?” 

Clint’s sigh is heavy and it tells Tony that he’s been expecting this line of questioning.

“Steve is...look, he’s come a long way since they defrosted him, but he’s still kinda old fashioned when it comes to interacting with subs, especially if they’re unbonded,” Clint plonks himself down on his yoga mat. “He won’t enter a sub’s personal space unless he has express permission from said sub,” He raises his hand when Tony goes to protest. “And no, permission from Pepper isn’t the same, not to Steve.”

Tony feels something unclench in his stomach because yeah, that actually makes sense.  Steve may have been out of the ice for nearly a decade, but it’s pretty logical that he would hold on to some of the values he had from his past. 

“Huh.”

“He’s not ignoring you Tony,” Clint says softly, and Tony isn’t sure he likes the glint in the archer’s eyes as he says it, like he knows.  He’s just being Steve.”

Tony just hums in reply, his mind thinking everything over and deciding that he should just stop being a dick about everything and reach out.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

Steve is enjoying some rare downtime at his place in Brooklyn with his sketchbook and pyjamas when his phone buzzes a few times. He frowns when he doesn’t recognise the number, then sucks in a breath when he reads the messages, of which there are several in quick succession:

 

>> what kind of prince charming rescues the damsel and then just fucks off?

>> RUDE steven

>> pep gave me your number

>> also, you have my permission to come visit capsicle so you can stop with all the  40s values.

>> it’s tony btw

>> hi

Steve does one of those weird snort giggles that makes him very glad that he’s alone, and he can’t help the grin that spreads across his face when he sees that it’s Tony.  Then a wave of guilt hits him because this is the first contact he’s had with Tony since the hospital, and it’s the sub that reached out for contact, not himself. Shame is not something that he feels much these days, but he’s feeling it now, his cheeks burning a little as he feels himself blushing. He hasn’t done that in years. 

It takes him the rest of the morning to compose a reply.

<< My apologies Tony, I should have come to see you. SHIELD has been keeping me busy.  How are you feeling?  Steve

OK, so it’s a teeny, tiny lie, but it’s the best he’s been able to come up with without having to say that he’s been a coward because he’s trying to figure out his feelings. He’s Captain America, it’s a likely story, and he hopes that Tony doesn’t see straight through him.

 

>> ur a terrible liar spangles

>> but i forgive you

Well, fuck.

His phone starts ringing as he stares at Tony’s text, desperately trying to think of a reply. 

It’s Tony.

Shit.

“Hi Tony,” Steve tries to sound calm and not as though his pulse has just jumped.

“I can hear you thinking Cap so chill, it’s all good. And I get it, I do.”

“Get what?”

“The whole avoiding me thing. Like, you’ve seen some shit, so seeing me all banged up and bleeding probably brought back some bad memories, right? So I don’t blame you for staying away.”

Steve’s cheeks are burning again because how can Tony be so forgiving when he’s just been through so much? God, he feels like the worst person in the world right now.

“Tony, I….” Steve sucks in the breath.  “I’m sorry.”

“Pfft, what are you apologising for? I told you, we’re good.”

“I’m still sorry. I should have come to see you and I haven’t, which is wrong of me,” Steve is determined to try and put it right, no matter how much Tony says it’s OK.

“Eh, you can just make it up to me Cap. Dinner. Next Friday. I choose where, you pay.”

Steve can’t help barking out a laugh because how can he not?

“Has anyone ever told you what a brat you are Tony?” Steve is grinning now.

“Only when I’m getting spanked, Cap.”

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

Tony is relieved that he bit the bullet and texted Steve, because now they seem to have this nice, comfortable thing going on. They text back and forth and Steve calls him sometimes just to chat and to see how he’s doing. It’s sweet. Tony sends Steve random pictures of stuff wherever he happens to be, and Steve will often send something sarcastic and witty back that makes Tony snort with laughter. He loves it.  Behind the constant back and forth, there is definitely an underlying current of sexual tension and Tony loves that even more. Being a flirt is what he does, be it in person, or by text, doesn’t matter. And Tony is laying it on nice and thick because he wants to make sure he can cut the atmosphere with a knife when they finally get to dinner. Steve had called him a brat and that is exactly what he is, so he’s working that to his advantage.  It’s also the sub in him that just loves to wind up a Dominant to the point of snapping and punishing him. He’s been trying to think about which methods would prefer in that department and the possibilities that his brain supplies him with are endless and get him hard within seconds. 

When he’s not thinking about Steve, he’s working on the Iron Man suit, but he’s come to a frustrating impasse. Nearly all the parts of the armour have now been fabricated and are slowly being put together by himself, J.A.R.V.I.S. and his ‘bots, but there’s one major thing that he can’t make work.

“Jarvis, there must be something because I'm reeeeeally not a fan of the very real possibility of having to strap actually batteries to my back,” Tony throws a piece of scrap metal across the workshop in deep frustration and watches when DUM-E rolls off after it.  

Sir, I may have an alternative, but it will require your father’s permission to utilise some equipment and raw materials at Stark Industries.

“Urgh….”

Indeed sir, but having run some simulations and cross-referenced them with the suit, I believe that the arc reactor project will give the suit more than enough energy. 

“But that project is just for show,” Tony knows that he sounds bitter, but it’s to be expected. The arc reactor is one of the ideas that he’s most proud of: self-sustaining, renewable energy with zero impact to the environment. One hundred percent clean energy, and it already powers one of the SI labs outside the city, but Howard had decided that he liked money more than saving the planet, so it was sidelined and labelled a vanity project.  “And anyway, it’s the size of several trucks, and i’m not hauling that around behind the suit.”

That may be sir, but i have come up with a few ideas that would work.

J.A.R.V.IS. throws up the display of three possible ideas, all floating in blue shapes in front of Tony who immediately hones in on one of them after glancing them over.

“This one J,” Tony waves his hands through the other two plans so that they disappear and enlarges the remaining image.  He taps the fingers of one hand against his lips for a few moments as he watches the projections slowly rotate, taking in everything.  “And you’re sure this will work?”

I have calculated the success of this model as 99.896%.

“Hmm…,” Tony hums. This is actually pretty damn near perfect. The only snag is that he really will have to go to R&D to get a few of the necessary elements, which means having to get Howard to sign off on it. Not ideal, but he thinks it’s possible.  Maybe his father will just be happy that he’s applying himself to something. Doubtful, as Howard’s view of renewable and self sustaining energy is piss poor at best.

“OK Jarvis, let's do this.”

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

As Tony suspected, getting Howard to sign off on the things he needs from R&D is a pain in the ass. He gets interrogated about why he needs all the items he’s asked for, and what he intends to do with them, and Tony only just manages to convince his father to sign the forms. It’s fucking ridiculous that he has to get his father to give him permission when it’s Tony that’s the CEO of the whole fucking company, but R&D is still mainly under Howard’s remit despite him being semi-retired, so everything has to go through him first. Add to the fact that for some reason, certain items on the list require a Dominant’s permission to be used, especially by a submissive, and Tony is in a fucking foul mood when Steve next calls him.

“Tony, what’s wrong?” Steve can literally hear Tony grinding his teeth through the phone.

“Just my dad being a fucking prick, as per usual.”

“Did something happen?” Steve can’t help the concern in his voice then because he knows what Howard’s temper is like, and he now knows what he’s capable of doing to Tony when he’s been drinking.

“Nah Cap, it’s OK, stand down. Just fucking sucks being a sub in a world led by Dominants sometimes."

Steve can’t help but agree because he knows that subs still have a shitty time when it comes to all things official or legal. It’s one of the reasons that he stays as involved as he can with the Submissives Rights movement, to lend his voice and his standing as not only an Alpha, but as Captain America to try and get laws changed. Submissives still don’t have anywhere near equal standing with Dominants, something that Steve has abhorred since he was a child.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Steve asks eventually ,when he realises that he’s been lost in thought a little too long.

“Nope.”

“Then how about you tell me how your project is going?” He may not understand everything that Tony tells him when he gets into the details of what he’s doing but he likes to hear him talk about things he loves and that excite him. It makes him feel warm and pleased whenever a sub is happy, and that feeling seems to have dramatically magnify when it comes to Tony.

“Well, seeing as you’re asking…”

Steve just smiles into his phone contentedly.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

It’s taken a couple of days, but Tony is staring at the creation in front of him.

“We did it Jarvis, we really fucking did it!” Tony breaths in wonder, eyes wide and hair wild.  “A mini arc reactor. It’s perfect, you’re perfect.”

Sir, you flatter me.

“Let's get this hooked up to the gauntlets and boots Jarvis. Daddy wants to fly.”

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

“What about that girl in accounting? Rebecca is it?” Nat says while they’re fighting back-to-back with what can only be described as baby octopi in Times Square.

“The brunette with the purple glasses?” Steve grunts as he smashes another group of the tentacled menaces.  “She’s cute, but she’s not really my type.”

“And what exactly is your type Steve?” Clint asks through the comm from his perch, picking off another couple of the babies with one arrow. “ I mean, y’gotta give us something to work with here.”

“As much as I appreciate the fact that you’ve all been my personal matchmakers for the last decade” Steve complains,  “last time a checked, I didn’t need any help in that department.”

“Can you please save it for after we get this shit sorted out?”  Coulson barks, and Steve can hear gunshots from his end of the comm. 

“Sorry, Dad, Sam laughs as he swoops down to street level to take out some more of the weird octopus creatures.  “Where did these things even come from anyway?”

“Reed managed to open up yet another portal,” Nat almost slips on the goo left behind by one of the creatures after Sam shot it.  “Eeww.”

“Reed and his fucking portals man,” Sam grouses.  

“Tell me about it,” Steve sigh heavily.  “This is the third one this month.”

“Don’t worry, Fury’s on it,” Coulson says, more gunfire sounding.

“Oh shit, ” Clint says gleefully.  “Then I wouldn't wanna be Reed right now.”

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

“OK, let's do this right,” Tony says to the workshop at large. “Start mark, half a metre and to the right. DUM-E, you’re on standby for fire safety. U, roll it.” Tony takes a deep breath and gets into a stance he feels will be best.  “Activate hand controls. OK, we’re gonna start off nice and easy. See if 10% thrust capacity achieves lift. In three...two...one…”

Tony is catapulted upwards, slams into the ceiling of the workshop and ends up in a crumpled heap on the floor, where DUM-E rather belatedly sprays him liberally with the fire extinguisher.

OK, so 10% was wildly optimistic.  Good to know. 

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

“Let’s try this again,” Tony gets himself ready for another attempt with the boot thrusters.  “Day 11, Test 37, configuration 2.0. For lack of a better option, DUM-E is still on fire safety. But if you douse me again, and I'm not on fire, I'm donating you to a city college. And please don’t follow me around with that buddy, because it makes me feel like I'm gonna catch on fire spontaneously. Just stand down,” Tony says to the ‘bot, and DUM-E makes a sad little noise and lowers his arm. Tony’s face softens at that. “Hey, if something happens, then come in.” DUM-E makes a much happier sound at that. “OK, we’re gonna start off with just 1% thrust capacity. And three...two...one…”

Tony pushes off lightly from the ground, careful not to have a repeat performance of the last couple of times he’s tried the thrusters: he’s still bruised from head to toe. The thrusters kick in and he starts to hover a few inches off the ground.  OK, this is good, he thinks, this is working. He tries for a little more but using the gauntlet stabilisers to try and give him some control is a fuck of a lot harder than the theory, and he ends up shooting off in a couple of wrong directions. But then he gets the hang of it, using the stabilisers to balance out the thrust from the boots and he’s finally doing it. He lets out a whoop and then  brings himself back down to land.

“Yeah, I can fly.”

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

“Have you considered Sarah from weapons tech? She’s cute,” Clint suggests while they’re eating dinner at the Avengers compound. Steve rolls his eyes because apparently, they’re still doing this.

“Can you guys please just stop ?” He almost begs. Not that he doesn’t appreciate his teammates and friends trying to help, but right now Steve only has one sub on his mind.

“We’ll stop when you tell us why you’re suddenly not seeing anyone,” Nat puts down her fork to cross her arms and fix Steve with a look at would make lesser men squirm in their seats.  “Although, we pretty much already know.”

“Tasha…” Steve warns,  but she just raises an eyebrow at him.  “Just drop it, OK?”

“Am I missing something here?” Sam asks in confusion as he looks at Steve then Natasha.

“No,” Steve says and the tone in his voice brooks no argument.

Natasha shoots Steve a knowing look and goes back to her lasagne without saying another word.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

Now that he knows the thrusters and stabilisers work, Tony sets about putting together the whole Iron Man suit. As the parts each slot into their places, the suit starts to take shape and Tony’s excitement builds. It takes him almost 36 hours and a fuck ton of coffee to finish, but when he’s done, the suit is standing in the middle of the workshop looking sleek and gorgeous and Tony thinks he’ll never love anything like he loves what’s standing in front of him. It takes his breath away.  He doesn’t know how long he stands there, DUM-E and U either side of him, but he eventually gives himself a shake and decides that now is as good a time as any to see not only if the suit fits, but if it works. He steps forward and starts the complicated task of actually getting into it. It takes a little time, and he’s pretty sure he’ll have even more bruises than normal after he’s pinched his skin a few times closing and locking various parts together, but he gets there with the help of J.A.R.V.I.S and the ‘bots.

He looks fucking awesome.

“OK Jarvis, let’s see what it’s like to try the flying thing again, but with the whole suit this time,” Tony says, and kicks off from the floor. It’s completely different than with just the boots and the gauntlets, but it feels fucking amazing. He tries a couple of simple moves to get the feel of it, then touches back down to the workshop floor.

Test complete. Preparing to power down and begin diagnostics.

“Yeah, no. Tell you what Jay, do a weather and ATC check, start listening in on the ground control.”

Sir, there are still terabytes of calculations required before an actual flight is…

“Jarvis,” Tony interrupts and gets into a crouch.  “Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk.”

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

Steve has been looking forward to tonight for days, but now that Friday has finally arrived, he’s nervous as hell. Talking to someone on the telephone is totally different to speaking in person, and he wants tonight to go well and to not say or do the wrong thing. Tony has been through so much recently and he wants to make sure that the sub is relaxed and comfortable with him, so much so that he’ll be receptive to what Steve would like to suggest to him. He’s been battling with his feelings and thoughts since Tony had told him they were going out for dinner, but he’s made the decision that he’d like to court Tony. Maybe he should say date instead of court?  He hasn’t stopped thinking about Tony since they first met all those months ago at the military dinner, and his feelings have only increased since the incident with Rumlow. He thought that perhaps the feelings would fade, but even without seeing Tony, they’ve gotten stronger the more he’s spoken to the sub.

So he’s going to try and put all his nerves and doubts to one side and be Steve Rogers, Alpha Dominant tonight. He’s choosing to wear the same blue three -piece suit that he was wearing the night he first met Tony, but with a very pale pink shirt that has fine silver pinstripe shot through it.  Clint said that the whole ensemble makes him look softer and more approachable, which is exactly the kind of image he wants to convey to Tony.  

He looks in the mirror as he buttons up his shirt, watching as his and Bucky’s dog tags slowly disappear under the material. They never found a body, so Steve had a new tag made so that he could hang it next to his own around his neck.  Bucky would want him to try and find happiness, he knows that, but his loss is still a pain he will never lose. It’s gotten easier over time, though, and Bucky wouldn’t hesitate to kick his ass if he ever caught him moping around. He’d like Tony he thinks, would like his take no bullshit approach to life, and that’s what had made the decision easy in the end for Steve, knowing that Bucky would approve of his choice.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

Tony is nursing a sore shoulder and an even sorer ass after crashing through the roof of the garage when he got back from the suit’s maiden voyage (Howard is going to go fucking ape when he gets home later), but he’s so high on the feeling of flying, and the suit actually working that he doesn’t care. He knows he needs to go and get himself ready for dinner with Steve, but there’s just one more thing he wants to do. The shining silver of the suit isn’t really...him.

“Jarvis, surprise me with some renders.”

Yes sir.

After a few moments, J.A.R.V.I.S. brings up some different colour combinations, all of which he screws his nose up at, especially the all gold version.

“Tell you what, throw in a whole lot of hot rod red to the gold one, lemme see that. A lot less...ostentatious, don’t you think?”

Yes, that should help you keep a low profile.

“Don’t sass me Jarvis.”

The render is complete.

It’s even more gorgeous in red and gold and Tony is definitely deeply in love.

“I like it. Fabricate it. Paint it,” He looks at his watch and shit, he needs to get his ass moving if he wants to go and make himself look good enough to eat before Steve comes to pick him up.

Commencing automated assembly. Estimated completion time is five hours.

“Don’t wait up for me honey,” Tony sing-songs as he leaves J.A.R.V.I.S in charge and heads upstairs to start getting ready.








Chapter Text

Tony surveys himself in the mirror of his walk-in closet and thinks he’s done a pretty good job at looking irresistible.  He’s gone for dark grey slacks with a scarlet shirt that he’s rolled the sleeves up on so that his forearms and wrists are exposed. He’s trying to look as enticing as possible by showing off the parts of him that a Dominant would want to lay claim to. He’s just going to pretend that the numerous solder burns and bruises aren’t there.  He’s even left the shirt open a few buttons at the top so that his slender neck is on show, and he’s teamed it all with a matching dark grey jacket purely for wearing to and from the car and a pair of baseball boots in the same scarlet as his shirt. And yes, the boots have been custom embossed with red and gold crystals. What? He’s Tony Stark.  He’s spent long enough on his hair to make it look like he hasn’t spent any time at all but just rolled out of bed, and set the whole look off with some eyeliner and subtly tinted lip gloss. He’ll chew on his lips a bit before Steve arrives so that they look a little swollen. He’s going for a twink gigolo who just sucked dick for twenty dollars in a back alley look, and he thinks he’s more than managed to pull it off.  

He’s done and downstairs in the lobby of the mansion with about five minutes to spare, a miracle for him. He’s pretty sure that he’s never been on time for anything in his life, and that fact that he is now must be a testament to just how much he’s been looking forward to seeing Steve again.  He tries not to think about the fact that it could be more to do with not wanting to disappoint an Alpha, especially not Captain America, because Tony does things on his own terms thank you very much. This has nothing to do with wanting to please Steve, nope, not at all.  And he is absolutely not currently dissecting that possibility in his mind as he paces the lobby. Thank fuck his parents are out for the evening. He hasn’t told them about his dinner date with Steve tonight, and they won’t find out if he can help it. He can just picture Howard’s face when he finds out that his son has gone to dinner with Captain America.  

Before he has time to dwell on that too much, he hears the tell-tale crunch of tyres on the gravel of the drive outside, bang on time too, because of course Steve is on time.  Tony has to resist running to the door and flinging it open like an excited child and instead waits as he hears the muffled closing of a car door and footsteps across the gravel before the chimes of the doorbell ring deep in the back of the mansion. Then he takes a deep breath and walks calmly to the door and opens it to find two hundred pounds of dark blond perfection encased in impeccable tailoring standing on his doorstep holding a single red rose and a warm smile.

I am so screwed, Tony thinks to himself as he rakes his eyes up and down Steve’s body. So completely and utterly screwed.

“Hi,” Steve says eventually, when he’s sure that Tony has looked his fill, offering him the rose.

“Hi yourself,” Tony manages to say, taking the flower and trying desperately not to blush like a teenager on prom night.  “I wasn’t aware that this was a date.”

“Uh-huh, of course you weren’t,” Steve chuckles and Tony’s blush threatens to deepen so he turns to put the rose carefully on the side table by the front door before stepping outside and closing the door behind him.  “Ready?”

“Lead the way Cap,” And to Tony’s delight, the blond turns and offers him an arm to walk him to the car, which is almost as beautiful as Steve. Almost.

“That’s a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500, Steven,” Tony just stands and stares because holy fucking shit , the car is perfection. He has his own GT350, as well a California, but this? This is the Shelby that he’s always wanted and never had. 

“Yes, I'm aware,” Steve laughs because he’s never seen Tony so speechless as he walks around the car with his mouth open in wonder. 

“Gorgeous,” Tony breathes reverently to the gleaming pearlescent grey bodywork, and he can’t help reaching out a hand to run his fingers along the cool metal.  “Where did you find her? I’ve been looking for one for ages, but no-one ever wants to sell.”

“Phil,” Steve says, like that explains it. Tony shoots him a confused look.  “Agent Coulson. He introduced me to the back catalogue of American muscle cars after he saw my bike. He helped me track her down. Tony, this is Eleanor. Eleanor, this is Tony.”

“Eleanor is the 1971 model,” Tony scoffs. 

“Not in the 2000 remake,” Steve says smugly as he opens the passenger door for Tony.  “Besides, the 1967 chassis is so much prettier.”

“I love it when you talk dirty Steven,” Tony looks up Steve through his lashes as he puts one foot inside the car.

“Get in the car Anthony,” Steve jests, but he says it in that voice and Tony does exactly what he’s told.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

“Wanna tell me where we’re heading?” Steve asks as they head deeper into the city, dusk starting to settle and the lights of New York burning brighter for it.

“Daniel on 65th,” Tony answers. It’s one of his favourites because it’s intimate and exclusive, which means no paparazzi.  

“I hear that their swordfish is delicious,” Steve gives a small smile as he negotiates the early evening traffic.  Tony hums in agreement and watches New York go by out of the window. He sneaks looks at Steve, taking in the jaw that could cut glass, the smooth slope of his nose and those goddamn lips. He’s trimmed his beard back so that it’s not as full, but still looks soft and seems to accentuate his jaw line.  His hair is still short around the sides and longer on top and Tony wants to know if it’s as soft as it looks. He sweeps his eyes down Steve’s body, his dark green peacoat doing nothing to hide what’s underneath which makes Tony shiver a little because he knows what’s under the layers of custom tailoring. Then there’s Steve’s hands, one on the polished wood of the steering wheel and the other cradling the stick shift, long fingers curled almost lovingly around the metal, thumb absently stroking across the top of the gear knob.  Tony knows what those hands are capable of, knows they can kill, which really shouldn’t be a turn on. But those hands are gentle right now, his touch almost a caress and Tony has never wanted to be a car so much in his whole life. Steve catches him looking a few times and Tony just gives him a raised eyebrow each time because yeah, he’s staring and he doesn’t care. Steve is beyond beautiful and Tony thinks he’d be quite happy to just sit and stare at him from now until the end of time. 

They get to the restaurant and Steve opens the car door for Tony before handing the keys to the valet in exchange for a ticket, and then, with a warm hand at the small of Tony’s back, guides him into the building. It’s warm and welcoming and they’re greeted by a smiling hostess.

“Mr Stark, welcome back! It’s been too long,” She says and Tony smiles at her.

“Jess, I missed you,” Tony grins and leans forward to give her a hello kiss on the cheek.  

“Sweet talker,” Jess giggles and it’s obvious to Steve that they know each other well.  “Your usual table?”

“Please,” Tony says and Steve moves to take off the jacket that Tony is trying to shrug out of before taking off his own coat, which Jess takes. She hurries off to the server standing at the coat check and when she comes back, nods at Tony who starts to follow her through the main lounge of the restaurant to one of the tables tucked away at the far end. It’s quieter here and Steve can see that it gives them a view of the whole place, for which he’s silently grateful.  It’s also not surrounded by many other tables, so it’s a lot more private than any of the other tables. It’s a table for two with a wide, booth like seat against the wall on one side, and a large leather chair the other. The seats are some of the most comfortable Steve’s has ever sat in, and he can tell that they’ve been designed to make you want to spend as long as possible in the establishment. Steve takes the booth seat so that he can see as much of the room as possible, and Tony falls into the chair opposite, not so far away that they can’t bump knees under the table if they wanted to.

“What can I get you to drink?” Jess asks once they’re settled and gives them each a drinks menu that’s six pages long and none of them with any prices because it’s that kind of place.

“Two glasses of champagne to start with, I think the Dom Perignon,” Steve says as he eyes sweep over the menu. He gives Jess one of his warm smiles and Tony feels a little stab of jealousy that it isn’t aimed at him.  

“Coming right up,” Jess says merrily, and then she’s weaving expertly around the tables to the bar.

“Champagne Captain? You spoil me,” Tony leans his elbows on the table and links his fingers together to lean his chin on them. It exposes his forearms and wrists which doesn’t go unnoticed by Steve.

“And if I want to spoil you?” Steve’s lips quirk, sapphire eyes flashing.

“I’m a brat, I expect nothing less,” Tony shoots back and the low light of the room is making the gold in his eyes dance. 

“What shall we do about that, I wonder…” Steve slips some Alpha into his tone just to watch Tony shiver, something he is getting a little addicted to. He loves to see Tony’s reaction to just the change in his voice, it’s entrancing. He lets the charged moment linger on until Jess comes back with their champagne and the menu. She reels off a list of the specials that they have and then leaves them to decide.

“I was thinking that the tasting menu with the wine pairings could be fun,” Tony doesn’t even bother to look at the menu. He’s been here enough times, he knows what’s there. Also, a submissive taking charge by ordering the food while out with a Dominant isn’t the done thing. “A little bit of everything to try.”

“I’d like that,” Steve answers with that little smile he reserves only for Tony.  When Jess comes back a few minutes later, Tony orders for them which would have shocked most people, but Jess doesn’t show any surprise so Steve assumes that this isn’t the first time this has happened.

The evening is delightful as it slowly stretches out and Steve is captivated by Tony’s energy as he talks about anything and everything, watching as he ventures wildly with his arms.  He can’t keep up with a lot of the complicated technological things he mentions, but seeing Tony so passionate about things that he clearly loves far outweighs what Steve doesn’t understand.  Tony, of course, manages to slip some innuendos into whatever he talks about which makes Steve snort with laughter and it’s nice he thinks. Wonderful company, amazing food and sexual tension that you could cut with a knife, what more could he ask for?  

“So Captain,” Tony says as he leans back in his chair after finishing off course five of seven, an excellent plate of sweetbreads.  He eyes Steve over the table, wanting to ask about Bucky, but not sure if it’s the right time.

“So..,” Steve outs his elbows on the table and steeples his fingers as he watches Tony.  

“I want to ask you something, but i’m not sure you’ll want to talk about it,” Tony admits and he knows he looks a little sheepish.

“Ask whatever you want, I'm an open book,” Steve replies, and he thinks he knows what, or who, Tony is going to ask about.

“Bucky,” Tony blurts out and immediately snaps his mouth shut because shit, he hadn’t meant to say it like that.

“What do you want to know about Bucky?” Steve says softly. He’s been expecting this, and he’s prepared. Talking about Bucky doesn’t hurt as much any more, and Tony deserves to know.

“You were bonded, right?” Tony asks, leaning forwards again.  “It must have hurt when… when…”

“It did,” Steve answers and drops a hand to the table, resting his chin on the other. “I’ve been shot, stabbed, blown up, grown this body in a matter of seconds, nearly had a leg severed and been frozen in the ice for seventy years but nothing, nothing compares to the pain I felt when Bucky fell. I watched him fall and there was nothing I could do. All that I am, all that the serum made me, and I couldn’t save him.”

Tony is stunned into silence and feels tears prickling his eyes as he listens to Steve, listens to the sadness and the pain in his voice. He can’t imagine how it must have felt to watch your bonded fall to their death, can’t even start to think about it. 

“Steve...I….” Tony reaches across the small table to put his hand over the one Steve has on the table.  “I’m so sorry.”

“It happened, there’s nothing I can do to change it,” Steve shrugs, his blue eyes shining and dammit, he wasn’t going to get emotional tonight. He turns his hand so that Tony’s slips into his and he gives it a squeeze.  “But thank you.”

“Were you together before the serum?” Tony asks, trying to steer the moment away to something easier.  

“We were,” Steve gives himself a shake and that little, soft smile is back.  “We gotta lot of stick too. I was about ninety pounds soaking wet and Bucky was this tall, handsome fella, we looked ridiculous. Everyone thought he was the Dominant.”

“I’ve seen pictures of skinny you. You may have been small, but your eyes have always been the same,” Tony smiles back. Steve’s eyes are the only thing that the serum didn’t change and he was looking at the same eyes he’d seen so many times in Howard’s pictures right now.   “It was obvious who the Dom was if they’d bothered to look in your eyes.”

“Yeah, I've never been able to keep how I'm feeling outta my eyes,” Steve huffs a laugh. He turns Tony’s hand over on the table so that he can trace little circles across the inside of his wrist.  “Ma always said they gave me away, made me a terrible liar.”

“Captain America doesn’t lie!” Tony gasps in mock shock, his other hand clutching imaginary pearls at his neck. 

“Me and Buck were always in trouble,” Steve chuckles, and the sadness creeps away as he thinks back to the scrapes they used to get into.  

“I can’t say I'm surprised,” Tony grins.  “I’ve heard all the stories from training camp.”

“Oh god, did Howard tell you?” Steve groans, rubbing a hand down his face.  

“Aunt Peggy,” Tony keeps grinning.  “They were my favourite bedtime stories.”

“Scandal! Lies!” Steve grins back.  

“Uh-huh…” Tony smiles into his wine and lets his eyes drift down to Steve’s finger against his pulse.  

“Bucky would have really liked you,” Steve says softly, a slightly sad little smile pulling at his lips.  

“Yeah?” Tony’s heart beats a little faster because this is Steve being so honest and open that it’s almost painful.

“Yeah,” Steve chuckles quietly.  He doesn’t say that Tony is like Bucky in a lot of ways because he isn’t, not really. He does remind him of Bucky though, his attitude and his defiance.  “God, you two would have been a nightmare together!”

“I wish I could have met him,” Tony finds that he genuinely means that. He’s heard the stories about Bucky, and Steve’s right: they would have been a literal tornado of trouble.

“Me too,” Steve looks at Tony then, rather than at the shapes he’s tracing into his wrist, and he looks wistful. Not sad exactly, but fond and nostalgic.  “May I ask you something?”

“Sure,” Tony takes a sip of his wine to hide the nervous look on his face. He knows what Steve is going to ask him, and he’s practiced hundreds of answers in his head over the past couple of weeks.

“Who was it that hurt you so badly?” 

Tony was not expecting that. He’d planned for so many questions, but this one has totally blindsided him.  

“You don’t have to tell me,” Steve laces their fingers back together and gives Tony’s a gentle squeeze. “But I know a hurt sub when I meet one.”

“Tiberius Stone,” Tony breathes out.  He hasn’t spoken that name out loud in a long time.  He squeezes Steve’s hand back and uses the contact to calm himself.  “Howard set it up. He’s another rich society kid. Dumb as fuck but extremely well connected, so a wet dream for Howard. Turns out he’s also a complete fucking bastard.”

“I’m sorry Tony,” Steve can feel his anger rising as the Alpha in him growls at the person who hurt the sub in front of him. He makes a quiet note to see what Natasha can find out.

“Eh, don’t worry about it. Shit happens, it happened to me, whatever. Ancient history,” Tony flaps his free hand around in front of him to dismiss whatever Steve was about to say.  “I used to slip into subspace really fast and really easily. Stone used that to his advantage. I mean, I love a lot of kinky shit, but Stone is the worst kind of sadist. So now I stop myself from going all the way under, and from truly submitting. So sorry Cap, but you picked probably the most broken, fucked up sub this side of the Atlantic.” 

“You’re none of those things Anthony,” Steve’s heart feels heavy as he listens to Tony talk about himself like that.  “You’re not broken, you just haven’t met a Dominant that treats you like the gift that you are.”

“Gift?” Tony scoffs, his eyes flashing and he pulls his hand away from Steve’s. “Nobody owns me Steven, I’m not someone’s property to give away. Howard already tried that and I’ve got the scars to prove it.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Steve tries to soothe, but he’s not sure how he can get Tony back from behind the wall he just threw up between them.  “You’re amazing Tony, any Dominant would be privileged to have you as their submissive.”

“Yeah, until they tried to break me,” Tony’s eyes are cold.  “And when they find that I won’t go down without a fight it won’t be a privilege, it’ll be a chore.  I won’t do it again Steve, I can’t.”

“I would never force a sub like that Tony,” Steve’s skin crawls at the image of Tony being forcibly put down into subspace, fighting all the way but being pushed until he can’t fight it anymore. God, he hates Dominants like that, hates the way they feel entitled.  “I never have done and I never will. There’s always a choice, always.”

“You would say that though,” Tony mumbles, turning his wine glass slowly between two fingers.

“What makes you say that?” Steve questions. He suspects that he’s about to get to the root of what makes Tony so resistant to truly submitting.

“Because you’re a Dominant!” Tony bursts out, throwing his hands up in the air and fixing a look at Steve that speaks volumes. His eyes are wide, and Steve can see real fear there. It breaks his heart. “That’s what you do, isn’t it? You want to break a sub to your will, mold them into something that suits you until there’s nothing left of who the sub was before. And if they won’t go willingly, you make them because it’s all about you , and what you want. It’s what Dominants do. And you being an Alpha means that all that is probably dialled up to eleven.”

Steve is stunned because that is absolutely not what being a Dominant means to him, not even close. He actually feels tears stinging his eyes when he considers all the Dominants that have treated Tony like he was some kind of toy, something to be played with then discarded when it was broken. His heart breaks to think of all the hands and harsh words that must have driven Tony into believing that Dominants are like that.

“Tony…” Steve starts, not caring that his voice breaks a little.

“No Steve, don’t,” Tony sighs, slumping back in his chair again with a resigned look on his face.  “I’ve dealt with it my whole adult life. I’m Tony Stark, everyone wants a slice of me. The only two Dominants who have ever treated me with any kind of respect in the bedroom are Pepper and Rhodey, and they don’t count because they were my friends long before I ever presented as sub officially. And you I guess, you’ve been...nice.  You have to try and understand, Steve that Dominants don’t want me for me, they want me for my money and for Stark Industries. And if they can break me to the point of taking their collar, they get it all. Everything, it’s theirs. It’s written in law that the company and the money is mine until I choose to submit to someone and be collared.  That’s why Dominants want me, so forgive me for being more than a little fucking resistant to putting out.”

Steve looks at Tony for a few long moments, anger rising in his chest at all the greedy fucks that have come before him, all the selfish assholes that have treated Tony as nothing but a ticket to getting rich and a high social standing. He wants to put his fist through every fucking one of their smug faces. Tony just looks so utterly defeated, picking at the tablecloth and muttering something under his breath that Steve can’t quite hear, even with his serum enhanced hearing. Steve needs to try and make him see, make him understand.

“Anthony,” Steve says softly, but in his Alpha voice so that Tony will know that he means business. Tony’s eyes snap up to his when he hears the Alpha tone, hesitation and nervousness flitting across his face.  “I’m going to explain something to you, and I want you to try and hear me, OK? And I mean, really hear me because I need you understand what my beliefs as a Dominant are. Can you do that for me?”

Tony nods, and sits up straighter in his chair to show that he’s paying attention.  Steve smiles softly at him as he sees Tony’s shoulders relax. He then turns himself on the wide booth seat so that he’s sideways on to the table.

“I’d very much like for you to come and sit in my lap for this, if you think that’s something you can do,” Steve keeps his voice low and gentle, but still in that smooth and rich Alpha tone, so that Tony will know that this is not something to be scared of.  He watches as several different conflicting emotions pass across Tony’s face. “You don’t have to, but I think that you’d like the body contact whilst I explain.” 

Tony sucks in a breath as he stands and walks the few steps around the table to stand in front of Steve, who has to look up to see his face.  He keeps the soft smile on his face, which gets wider when he sees Tony running through a million and one scenarios. He eventually seems to settle on one and sits down in the small space to the side of Steve in the booth instead, his thigh pressed against Steve’s. He didn’t actually expect Tony to sit in his lap, so this compromise is just as good. It’s also Tony making sure that Steve knows he still has control of what he does and when he does it. He’s showing Steve that he wants to hear what he has to say, does actually want to be closer, but still wants to protect himself, and Steve can more than appreciate that. He leans forward a little so that he can put a hand on Tony’s knee that’s next to his own..  Tony can still pull back and leave if he wants to, Steve isn’t hemming him in, but he wants the gentle contact.

“OK?” Steve asks gently and Tony just nods again, looking down at where Steve’s hand is on  his knee as if he can’t quite meet Steve’s eyes just yet. “All the Dominants you’ve been with thus far are assholes,” Tony snorts out a surprised giggle and finally meets Steve’s eyes.  “Seriously, all assholes.”

That’s what you wanted to tell me?” Tony can’t help grinning because Steve? Steve is such a doofus.

“Not even close,” Steve chuckles and Tony likes the low, smooth sound.  “But I wanted to get you to relax a bit.”

“OK, point taken,” Tony does relax, feeling a lot more at ease than he usually does around a Dom who’s giving him the undivided attention that he both craves and is terrified of. He feels his eyes soften as he looks into the blue of Steve’s, and something starts to bloom in his chest, something warm and comforting. “Please, continue.”

“Thank you, I will,” Steve smiles warmly and then chooses his words carefully. What he says next is either going to convince Tony that he’s serious about how he feels, or absolutely terrify him.  “None of those assholes know what being a Dominant truly means, not even close. None of them had any idea who truly holds the power, or none of them cared.”

“What do you mean?” Tony asks because, come again? “Dominants have the power Steve, everyone knows that.”

“No Anthony, we don’t,” Steve feels Tony shiver at the use of his full name, which is good because he needs to hear what he’s about to say.  “Submission is a gift sweetheart, something that must be freely given. It’s a privilege Tony, not a right. True submission is the most precious and beautiful thing in this world because it is a submissive handing over all of their trust to another person, laying themselves raw and bare at the feet of someone that they trust so completely that they feel able to give up all control.  The sole purpose of a Dominant is to keep that trust safe and unbroken, to prove that the submissive chose the right person to help guide them on their journey of discovery. I’m here to be strong when you can’t, to help you push your boundaries knowing that I’ll always catch you if you fall. I’m here to provide you with all the ecstasy and the agony you need as you discover who you truly are, and to guide you back down from the euphoria.  Submission is the brightest gift Anthony, and without it a Dominant is nothing. That’s why it is the submissive who truly holds all the power, because that gift can be taken away when and if the submissive sees fit. You’re the powerful one Anthony, and you’re the one that holds all the cards.”

Tony feels like he can’t breathe, like he’s been punched in the gut because fuck , Steve is looking at him like he’s the most precious thing in the world, like he hung the moon. And his words, jesus fucking christ , the words he just said… He’s never considered it, not even for a split second that it could be the submissive who is the powerful one.  But fucking hell, he’s right. So completely and utterly right, and Tony realises that he’d let every Dominant he’s ever been with slice a piece of him off and run away with it.

“Steve…” Tony croaks out, lifting his hands up to try and hold onto something, anything, and Steve gently guides both his hands to his massive chest and Tony curls his hands into the open sides of his shirt so that he can try and ground himself.  “ Steve , god…”  

“Sshh, it’s OK sweetheart, “Steve brings up the hand on Tony’s knee to brush a flop of dark hair back from Tony’s face, then starts to card his fingers through the thick strands to try and sooth him, placing his other hand over both of Tony’s that he has fisted in his shirt.  “Did that make sense to you? I know it’s a lot, but that’s how I feel, it’s what I believe being a Dominant is.”

“I...I’ve never...it’s…. Steve …” Tony can’t seem to get his words out and Steve doesn’t say anything, just keeps carding his fingers through Tony’s hair, while keeping his other hand over both of Tony’s.  After a few moments, he pulls his hand out of Tony’s hair and slides it down to gently place his fingers under Tony’s chin so that he can tip his head up enough to meet his eyes.  There’s fear there, but also hope and a little bit of something else too. He brings his thumb into play and with the lightest of touches, runs the pad of the digit over Tony’s bottom lip, relishing when the sub’s eyes slip close for the briefest of moments.

“If you’re willing, I would very much like to be the Dominant to show you just how truly spectacular I know you can be,” Steve’s voice is whisper soft now, and he slides his hand from under Tony’s chin and up to cup his face.  “I know how beautiful you’d be Anthony, and I would be honoured to be the one to show you that.”

Tony feels time stop as he looks into Steve’s eyes, the blue flecked with silver and green looking deeper than anyone ever has, searching silently for an answer to what he’s offering. Tony feels himself teetering on the edge of the scariest fall of his life, but he finds himself leaning forward over the precipice for once rather than backing away from it. He’s so very close to putting himself in Steve’s hands completely, and he finds that he wants to. He wants to be beautiful for Steve, wants him to see it all, to see him.  He has the fleeting thought that he should be beyond terrified, but as he looks at Steve, he feels nothing but calm. It feels right somehow, like Steve is the shelter that he’s been waiting for, that he’s been trying to find this whole time.  And now he’s right here, huge and warm and safe, and offering Tony everything he’s ever wanted, as well as things he never knew be needed.

Tony breathes in as deep as he can, holds it, closes his eyes and jumps.

“Yes please,” Tony rushes out with his breath and he feels a weight lift that he didn’t even know he was carrying.  He feels lightheaded, giddy even, and he can’t help surging forwards at the same time as he tugs on Steve’s shirt with both hands to press his lips to Steve’s.  The blond startles a little, but then he’s using the hand on Tony’s cheek to slide into his hair to cradle his head at the base of his skull, his other hand still covering the sub’s hands at his chest. He takes charge of the kiss, and Tony doesn’t even try and fight him for dominance, going pliant as soon as Steve starts to kiss back. It’s not the first kiss that Steve had planned, but he goes with it and it’s perfect: soft, gentle and full of promise.  Tony’s lips are smooth and soft and just how Steve imagined they would be. He squeezes the back of Tony’s neck a little and greedily swallows the moan that gets him. The kiss is brief and Steve won’t deepen it as they’re out in public, so he indulges Tony for a few moments more before pulling back to rest his forehead against Tony’s.

“Thank you,” Steve murmurs against Tony’s lips with a small, secret smile. “I’m going to make it so good for you Anthony, I promise. You’re going to be magnificent.”

Tony can’t help the whimper that escapes the back of his throat and he can feel his face burning, so he lets his head flops forward towards Steve  pressing his face against the bigger man’s neck. He noses at the spot just under Steve’s jaw and inhales deeply so that his senses are filled with him: cinnamon, soap and lingering sandalwood, as well as leather and what Tony can only assume is Alpha. It’s perfect and Tony thinks that he’ll never get tired of that. He stays like that, leaning against Steve as he listens to the strong heartbeat underneath him, pressing a small kiss against the pulse under the skin of Steve’s neck and grounds himself after taking the biggest leap of faith in his life.

“Are you still hungry sweetheart?” Steve asks eventually,  stirring Tony out of the easy silence. And, because leaning forwards at the angle Tony’s currently in isn’t exactly comfortable, he draws back reluctantly from the warmth of Steve’s huge chest.  When he looks up at Steve’s face again, the blond has the softest look he’s ever seen on the Alpha and Tony preens a little at being the one who put it there.

“Yeah, I could probably eat more,” Tony actually feels ravenous all of a sudden, now that all the awkwardness and nerves of before have dissipated.  “Wanna get outta here?”

Steve grins then because yes, as lovely as the restaurant is, he’s done with being out in public. Or at least, done with being somewhere so full of the upper crust of New York’s elite.

“I know a place that does the best pizza slices,” Steve catches the eye of Jess who has been walking around other tables and motions that he wants the check so that they can leave.  “If you don’t mind being seen in Brooklyn.”

“Wait… don’t you live in Brooklyn?” Tony asks and his heart skips a couple of beats because shit, is Steve taking him home with him?  

“Relax,” Steve soothes when he sees Tony starting to get anxious again.  “Just pizza. An’ maybe some good ol’ fashioned hand holding and a lil’ kissin’. Maybe. Probably.”

“Is that a little Brooklyn I can hear Captain?” Tony teases and feels his shoulders relax again. The Jess comes back with the check on a silver plate, and Steve slides a wad of fifties underneath it as well as sliding Jess a hundred. Tony gives him a questioning look.

“Sure is,” Steve guides Tony to the front of the restaurant with a big hand on the small of his back so that they can retrieve their coats.  “As for the money, I’ve got more back pay from the army than I know what to do with. Seventy years is a long time, and Peggy made sure it was invested wisely. I don’t think she ever thought I’d be found, but she also never lost that tiny bit of hope so...Plus, I’m nearly a hundred, so I get a pension too.”

“Wow, OK,” Tony is kinda speechless at that because doing math on the fly is one of his specialities so he’s worked it out and yeah, Steve is pretty fucking rich. “Does that make you my sugar daddy then?”

“Last time I checked I wasn’t a billionaire Tony,” Steve admonishes as he shrugs into his coat then holds out Tony’s for him, smoothing across the shoulders of the material when he does before dropping a quick kiss to the top of the brunet head just because he can.  Tony makes a happy little surprised sound as he turns around. “Ready?”

Tony just nods and Steve guides him out to the front of the restaurant to wait for the car to be brought round after he gives the valet his ticket.  Tony shivers a little in the cooler air of the evening and wishes he’d brought a coat rather than just his jacket, but then he finds himself being folded into Steve’s peacoat and holy shit, supersoldiers run hot.  He wraps his arms around Steve’s waist and presses his cheek against the enormous chest on offer, a contented sigh leaving his lips. He feels the warm mass under him chuckle and then big arms wrapping a little tighter around him. The top of his head barely reaches Steve’s chin and usually he hates feeling smaller than everyone else, especially being a sub, but it’s Steve and apparently this is his life now so he just enjoys the closeness and all that warmth whilst they wait for the car.  When it arrives, Tony grumbles at having to step out of his rather lovely cocoon, but then Steve is taking off his coat and draping it over his shoulders, which looks ridiculous because it’s huge, but it’s still warm with Steve’s body heat and it smells of him so he pulls it tighter around him and gets in the car when Steve opens the door for him.  When Steve gets in, he turns the heater up, gives Tony one of his soft smiles and then they’re off into the night heading towards the promise of the best pizza in Brooklyn.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

“Holy fuck Steve, this pizza is….”Tony is talking with his mouth full but he doesn’t care  because he thinks he might actually marry a pizza. 

“Told you,” Steve grins around own mouthful and it should be gross but Tony thinks it’s adorable. They’re both completely overdressed for the hole-in-the-wall pizzeria, but it’s cozy and mostly empty and the pizza is heavenly so neither of them care.  Plus, they’re used to Steve dropping in dressed in his best after he’s been to galas and dinners. He’s even been in wearing his Cap uniform. He thinks they’d be more shocked if he walked in wearing jeans and a t-shirt at this point. Steve notices when a little of the oil from Tony’s slice start to make its way down his chin so he reaches out across the standing room only table and swipes it with his thumb. Tony jumps slightly, not expecting it, but before Steve can take his hand away, he wraps his spare hand around Steve’s wrist to hold his hand steady, looks him straight in the eye and draws the thumb into his mouth to suck the droplet of oil from Steve’s digit. The atmosphere suddenly and palpably changes around them, and the air is now alight with something heavy and electric as Tony swirls his tongue around Steve’s thumb, rubbing his bottom lip against it a little before pulling away with a soft but lewd pop. He uncurls his fingers from around Steve’s wrist, but Steve doesn’t move his hand when Tony lets go. And Tony watches as the blue of Steve’s eyes is swallowed by his pupils, the look heated and heavy lidded.

“Very nice, Anthony,” Steve’s almost purrs in his Alpha voice and Tony doesn’t think he’s ever got so hard so fast in his entire life. It’s like his dick has been rewired to respond to that tone whenever he hears it. “See, you’re being so good for me already.”

“Can we leave now please ?” Tony absolutely does not whine.  

“Patience Anthony,” Steve gives Tony’s bottom lip a swipe with his thumb then pulls away and he definitely hears a whine then.  “And patience is clearly something you need to learn.”

Tony just scowls and shoves more pizza in his mouth, which makes Steve laugh and then the heaviness in the air is suddenly gone, leaving only a few background sparks. If Steve makes him wait he’s going to die of blue balls, Tony’s sure of it.

“You’re gonna take me home, kiss me goodnight then leave because you’re a gentleman , aren’t you?” Tony sighs. 

“Something like that,” Steve replies so Tony throws a balled up napkin at him.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

They sit in comfortable silence most of the way home, but Steve’s hand is on Tony’s knee this time instead of the gear stick, and Tony puts his own hand over the top. Whenever Steve has to change gears, he takes Tony’s hand with him so that he doesn’t have to break contact and Tony thinks he’s going to die because it’s so adorably cheesy.

As Steve drives the car round the last bend of the driveway of the mansion, Tony can see a police car parked outside and his stomach drops so fast he thinks he’s going to be sick.  He doesn’t wait for Steve to open his door, he’s out of the car before it’s even stopped. Two men get out of the police car as he crunches across the gravel towards them, both of them looking solemn and he just knows .

“Tony Stark?” Cop One asks as Tony comes to stop in front of them.

“Yes,” He can’t breathe. He hears Steve closing the driver’s side door and then his footsteps that stop behind him, a hand coming up to rest on his shoulder.

“Detective Brandt.  I’m afraid there’s been an accident,” Cop Two says and Tony can feel his knees start to give.

“What happened?” Steve asks, although he knows exactly what’s coming.

“Your parent’s car seems to have swerved, and your father lost control,” Cop One starts to say and there’s a ringing in Tony’s ears that’s starts to get louder.  “He couldn’t have avoided the tree. The car was banged up real bad.”

“Both of them?” Tony is gasping now, trying to swallow in air and feels Steve move closer to hold both his shoulders. He just wants them to tell him, to say out loud what he already knows because why else would there be two cops on his doorstep at nearly midnight? 

“Can we go inside?” Cop One says.

TELL ME!” Tony screams at them.

“Tony…” Steve’s voice is calm, so calm.

“They did everything they could Mr Stark, but…” Cop One starts saying, but Tony doesn’t hear the rest because the ringing in his ears is deafening now and he can feel Steve holding him up because his knees have given out. Then he’s being lifted and carried into the house, or he thinks he is because he’s moving.  Then he can feel something soft underneath him and he thinks that Steve is speaking but he doesn’t know if he should answer. He can hear someone sobbing, gut wrenching shouts and sobs and he realises that it’s him making those sounds. He doesn’t give a fuck about Howard, but Maria? His beautiful, kind, sweet mother...

“You can come back tomorrow,” Steve says as he stands, and he uses the Captain America voice to show that it’s not negotiable. “Tony needs time to process it all.”

“Yes sir,” Cop One says and they see themselves out so that Steve doesn’t have to leave Tony. He stays standing and watches both detectives leave, then he’s scooping Tony up in his arms and cradling him to his chest.

“I’m so sorry sweetheart, so sorry,” Steve tries to stop his own tears and he knows that his words sound hollow, knows that they’re of little comfort, but he doesn’t know what else to say. He’s seen so much death in his life that he knows there’s nothing anyone can say to make it better, no words are enough. So he just holds Tony against him whilst he sobs, holds him close so that he knows he isn’t alone. Steve will take the weight of anything Tony needs him to. Howard wasn’t a good friend, but he was the last person that Steve knew  from before the ice, so it still slices him deeply. But Tony needs him so he’ll be strong. He’s Captain America: strong is what he does.

Tony doesn’t know how long he sobs, how long he spends curled up against Steve, but eventually he can’t cry anymore, there’s nothing left. Instead, his breaths are harsh and stuttering, and still Steve holds him.  He hasn’t even taken his coat off yet, and it must have been hours since they got back to the mansion. He slowly starts to try and uncurl himself, but he doesn’t want to leave the warmth of Steve’s arms, so he manages to lift his head a little to be able to see Steve’s face.

“Hey,” Steve whispers and god, Tony looks so broken. His eyes are all puffy and red, tears still sticking to his lashes. His nose is red too, and wet, and he can feel the very wet patch soaking through his shirt and waistcoat from where Tony has been pressing his face.  He’s still doing that stuttered breathing and Steve’s heart aches for him. His whole world has just come crashing down around him and he looks so small and fragile. “I’m going to take you upstairs sweetheart, get you into bed and more comfortable.”

Tony doesn’t say anything, just curls up in Steve’s arms again, hands still fisted in the front of the blond’s shirt and Steve lifts him easily as he gets up from the massive couch.  They cross the lobby and start up the stairs. At the top, Steve stops and Tony just points at the only door down a corridor to the right, so Steve heads towards it. The door is already open so he carries Tony through it and the room is huge. But he’s not interested in looking around, he just wants to get Tony as comfortable as he can, so he crosses over to the enormous bed and, with a gentleness that belies his size and strength, lowers Tony to the bed.  When he goes to straighten up, Tony whimpers and clings tighter to Steve’s shirt so he covers the brunet’s hands with his own.

“I’m right here baby, i’m just going to take my coat off, OK?” Steve says gently and it takes a couple of moments, but Tony does eventually get his hands to work and he slowly uncurls them from the shirt. Steve quickly shrugs out of his coat then his waistcoat, and toes off his shoes. When he turns to Tony, the sub is watching him through red eyes, seemingly terrified that he’s going to leave.  “I’m going to get you out of your some of your clothes and your shoes, OK sweetheart?”

Tony doesn’t answer but lets Steve get a knee onto the bed as he starts to delicately remove his jacket, his slacks and shoes, before scooping Tony up so that he can peel back the bedsheets. Then he lowers Tony back down and pulls the covers up. He startles a little when Tony’s hand shoots out from under the sheets to grip his wrist.

“Stay,” Tony croaks, and his eyes are shining again.  “Please?”

Steve’s face crumples a little when he realises that Tony thinks he’s going to put him to bed and then just leave. He feels a stab in his chest at the thought that it must be because everyone has always left him.  He takes a steadying breath to stop his own tears then takes off his trousers and slides into bed next to the sub. Tony immediately burrows as close to Steve has he can get, trying to make himself as small as possible, clinging to him so that he can’t leave.

“I’m not going anywhere Tony, I promise,” Steve wraps his arms around Tony a little tighter and kisses the messy waves of hair at the top of his head.  “I’ll be here when you wake up, and for as long as you need me to be, OK?.”

“Promise?”

“I promise baby, I’m here.”















Chapter Text

Tony spends his 21st birthday at his parents’ funeral.

He didn’t want to celebrate his birthday, not after what happened. Besides, most of New York’s elite turned out for the funeral, all of whom would have been at his birthday bash anyway. It poured with rain all day, and he stood by the graveside with Steve an ever-steady presence at his back, watching all the fake tears falling around him. None of these people gave a fuck about his parents, only their money. He doesn’t even know most of them. He hates them all. Obie stands at Tony’s side now that he’s essentially the right hand of Stark Industries. While Howard dying means that Tony is officially the head of the company, and the biggest shareholder at 61%, Obie is second in command and Tony knows he angling for the top job. He’s a Dominant and he’s always hated the fact that Howard put a submissive in charge.  But Howard only had one child, Tony, and submissive or not the company was always going to pass to his son. It's probably the only thing his father has ever done for him that he appreciates. It also means that Obie will be working on a plan to have Tony take his collar and that makes his skin crawl. The man stands too close, puts his hand on him too much, but he never does it when Steve is around. They’re not officially a ‘thing’ yet, so, as far as Obie is concerned, Tony is still fair game. And now he’s 21 as well as the majority shareholder of SI, he’s even more of a prize than before.  

Pepper and Rhodey are there too, standing either side of Tony and Steve. Clint, Natasha and Sam all came too, and Tony is pathetically grateful for them all. He’s never had many friends, only Rhodey and Pepper really, and he realises that the others are there for him because they want to be, not because Steve asked them.  For the first time in a very long time, he feels safe and protected. He thinks it might be the first time ever in actual fact, which is disturbing. Something ugly twists in his stomach because he knows they’re all too good for him, knows that he’ll eventually drive them away.

Steve is with him whenever he doesn’t have Avengers business to do, and Tony tries to get his hand down Steve’s pants two nights after the news about his parents. The only three  things he knows how to do when he feels out of control is drink, fuck or run, so he starts with trying to get Steve to fuck him after he’s downed half a bottle of scotch. And because Steve is a fucking saint, he gently extricates himself from Tony’s groping hands and puts him to bed again with soothing words. 

“Why won’t you fuck me?” Tony says when he’s lying in bed after Steve put him there. “Don’t you want me?”

“More than you know sweetheart,” Steve sits at the edge of the bed holding one of Tony’s hands and stroking his hair back from his face with the other, that sad look on his face.  “But I’m not going to take you when you’re in the wrong head space, it’s not safe. I do want you Anthony, so much. And I want you to be in a place to be able to truly enjoy it.”

Tony grunts in reply, being pulled towards sleep by Steve’s hand in his hair and the scotch in his body. 

When he wakes up, all the alcohol in the mansion is gone.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

Because Tony seems to be a fucking magnet for bullfuckery, about three weeks after his parents’ funeral, Natasha comes to him with something that makes his blood run cold. 

Obadiah Stane has been making it very obvious since his parents died that he wants Tony to take his collar, something that makes his stomach turn. The press has been speculating, no doubt thanks to some strategically ‘leaked’ information on Obie’s part, about how the bonding of the two of them would be a match made in financial heaven. The fact that Obie has known Tony since he was born doesn’t even seem to come into play as far as the press is concerned. It’s disgusting. Obie is overbearing, handsy and one of the slipperiest mutherfuckers he has ever known. Howard hired him for his negotiation skills and penchant for bending the rules to almost breaking point to get shit done. He has politicians in his pocket that he has dirt on which means he can often get legislation pushed through Congress, and Tony is pretty convinced that he has more than a few high-up Dominants on side within the CIA, FBI and various other nefarious organisations that he shouldn’t know exist. 

Natasha comes to Tony in his office one day, her face carefully schooled into a blank expression that Tony now knows means nothing good. Pepper follows her in, closing and locking the door behind her with her own thumb print, and the look on her face just confirms what Tony already thinks.

“Jarvis, black out,” Nat says, looking determined. 

“OK, let’s hear it,” Tony sighs heavily from his chair behind his desk.  “What is it and how bad? May as well heap another layer of shit on what is currently my life.”

“It’s bad,” Nat says quietly and when the Black Widow says that something is bad, well… She pulls a USB stick out of her pocket and puts it on Tony’s desk.  “I did some digging. If the Avengers are about to do a deal with SI, I wanted to make sure that I had all the bases covered. It's nothing personal. I’m a spy, it’s what I do.”

“And?”

“Obie has been dealing arms under the table,” Pepper continues, her eyes wide.  “And not to anyone on the level.”

Tony pinches the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger and finds that he’s not surprised, which should shock him more than it does.

“Of course he has….” Tony’s statement is barely a whisper. He needs a fucking drink.  “I take it you already know where, who and how much?”

“It’s all there,” Natasha points to the memory stick on the desk.  “I told Fury that you needed to know first. This is your watch Tony, you get to decide on how to handle it.”

“Does Steve know?” Tony has to ask. 

“No,” Nat states bluntly.  “Only the three of us in this room plus Coulson and Fury. But we’ll need to move fast.”

“What’s the plan?”

“S.H.I.E.L.D. will be briefed, and a few other agencies on a need-to-know basis, then we take down what we can, as quietly as we can and as fast as we can,” Nat lays it out like it’s just another day in the office, which Tony figures it is for her.  “The team will be on this too. Banner is back from New Mexico and happy to let the Hulk out if we need him.”

“And Obie?” Tony asks. He actually finds himself torn because he’s grown up with Obie, he’s part of the family. But that’s the child in him thinking. He’s been wary of the man since he turned 16 and became aware of the change in how Obie looked at him, like he was being eyed up as prey.

“Will be locked away for the rest of his natural life,” Pepper replies, her eyes taking in the warring emotions crossing Tony’s face.  “You and I both had our suspicions Tony, you know that. Now we have all the proof we need. I’ll do whatever you need me to do to get it done.”

“I know Pep, and I love you for that,” Tony manages a weak smile, his heart swelling at the determination on the face of one of his best friends.  “But I won’t put you in harm's way, not for any reason.”

“And you won’t have to be,” Nat says softly as she turns towards Pepper, the soft smile directed at his PA something that Tony files away to ask about when this clusterfuck is over with.  “All we need you to do is to keep doing exactly what you’re doing so that Stane suspects nothing”

“I can do that,” Pepper smiles back and exhaling loudly, visibly soothed by Natasha’s words.

Tony picks up the memory stick, mind already thinking about the Iron Man suit and how he can retrofit it with some of the SI armoury. He built the suit to be a part of him and to make him feel safe, and he’s damn well going to use it to keep other people safe. 

“Stark,” Nat’s voice is sharp and startles Tony out of his thoughts, and her eyes are glinting with a warning which he knows means that she can see his brain going a million miles a minute.  “The same goes for you when it comes to staying out of harm's way.”

“Tell Fury he has the green light,” Tony sets his jaw and stands, pocketing the memory stick. They exchange a look that tells Tony she doesn’t for one second believe that he’s going to sit on his ass and wait for everyone else to clear up his mess, but that she knows he’s going to do what he feels he has to anyway. Then she nods and leaves with Pepper.

“Jarvis,”

I’ve already made a list of all the appropriate hardware that will fit the suit sir and am having it sent to the mansion.

What would I do without you Jay man?”

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

“...the fuck….?”

“Hawkeye, report,” Steve barks into the comm as he runs full pelt towards the concrete bunker in front of him, deflecting bullets with the shield as he goes.

“Possible airborne hostile at three o’clock,” Clint replies from his perch up in one of the trees that surround the bunker, picking off anyone who tries to make a run for it.  “Need to get higher to get a better look.”

“Do it,” Steve grunts when the shield takes the blast of an RPG.  “If they’ve managed to get anything up in the air, the village 2 miles out is vulnerable.”

“On it.”

Clint shimmies higher up the tree until he breaks the thin canopy just in time for a blur of red and gold streaks past him and downwards towards the fray.

“CAP! ON YOUR LEFT!” Clint manages to shout before whatever it was that just flew past him stops, hovers and then raises its arms to shoot out some sort of bluish white beam that takes out three of the hostiles outside the bunker.  Clint watches as Steve ducks down behind the shield, about to take a flying leap towards the new arrivals, but stopping mid-crouch when he sees it take out the people they’re fighting.

“Um, guys?” Sam’s voice comes through the comm.  “Who the fuck is that?”

“No idea,” Phil’s voice interjects.  “But he’s shooting the bad guys so let’s get back on mission. Hawkeye, get back in position.  Widow, Cap - eyes on target. Falcon, provide air support. Banner, you’re on standby unless we need something smashed.”

“Jarvis, patch me into their comm link,” Tony says, landing on the ground and using the HUD to calculate how many more people he needs to take out. He can hear bullets ricocheting off the armour, but they’re barely making a dent.  “Hey guys, need a hand?”

“Tony?!” Steve, Clint and Natasha’s voices sound in Tony’s ear. 

“Iron Man actually, but whatever,” Tony grins behind the faceplate of the suit.  “Figured I’d come and help out after I got done with the group in Afghanistan.”

“Oh man, Pepper is gonna fucking kill you,” Clint huffs a laugh as he lets lose three arrows in quick succession.  “I mean, if Cap doesn’t kill you first.”

“Children, please ,” Phil says, exasperated.

“Sorry boss,” Sam chimes in as he flies in, guns firing.

“When this is done…” Steve stalks over to the Iron Man suit and he looks pissed.

“Yeah, yeah, you can spank me later Cap,” Tony says as he kicks off the ground.  “Right now kinda busy wiping all my illegally sold arms off the face of the earth.”

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Tony is standing in the ruins of what was the village two miles away from the bunker he just helped the Avengers take down, and he’s just thrown up everything in his stomach.  The buildings are still smoldering, all completely levelled, and there are body parts strewn everywhere. The stench of death and blood clings to the air around him, cloying and foul.  He’s already taken out two stashes of Stark weapons and there were no civilian casualties but this? He designed the weapons that did this. It’s his fault that there's the severed hand of a fucking child at the feet of the Iron Man suit. How can he have never thought about the end result of what he did? How can he have been so blind to what his company was doing? He’s only ever seen the results of remote field testing in a controlled, unpopulated area. This...this is the reality of what he’s done, what he’s helped to build with his father. 

“I would say that it gets easier to deal with the more you see,” Steve says to his left, jaw set in a grim line as he takes in the scene.  “But it doesn’t. It sticks with you, every mission, every body. You just learn how to shut them out and stop them from breaking you when you can’t.”

“Steve, I ...,” Tony makes a choked off sobbing noise, closing his eyes against the devastation in front of him and trying to breathe past the bile in his throat.

“You were reckless flying in like that, you could have put us all at risk. Dammit, we could have shot you out of the sky,” Steve turns towards Tony then, eyes resigned.  “But I know why you did it Tony, I do.”

Tony doesn’t know how to answer, so he doesn’t. Steve looks disappointed which feels worse than if he was angry. Rage Tony knows how to handle, he’s had enough practice with Howard, but disappointment cuts so much deeper.  He watches as Steve’s shoulders sag, all the fight going out of him as he hangs his head.

“You felt you couldn’t tell me,” Steve’s voice is so quiet that Tony can barely hear him.  Then his lifts his head and takes a step towards the armour, hand coming to rest on the red and gold metal. “And I’m sorry that you felt you couldn’t trust me enough. It’s beautiful Tony.”

Something twists in Tony’s stomach because he knows that Steve is mad at him and that he fucked up, but Steve is still trying to be so goddamn understanding. He doesn’t deserve it, he really doesn’t. The Avengers are out here clearing up a mess that he made, he put the whole team at risk by swooping in and Steve is just...he’s being so fucking good about it all. He almost wishes for anger rather than understanding. He can’t stay here, he can’t look into Steve’s face and know that he doesn’t deserve what he sees, he just can’t.  He flicks the faceplate of the suit down and shoots off into the sky, away from the blood and the death and the man that he isn’t worthy of.

He needs a drink and then he needs to make some changes.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *

 

“I never got to say goodbye to my father. There's questions I would've asked him. I would've asked him how he felt about what his company did, if he was conflicted, if he ever had doubts. Or maybe he was every inch of man we remember from the newsreels,” Tony says to the tightly packed group of reporters that are currently squeezed into the lobby of Stark Tower. “I saw an entire village of innocent people wiped out by the very weapons I created to defend them and protect them. And I saw that I had become part of a system that is comfortable with zero-accountability.”

“Mr. Stark! What happened over there?” A reporter in the middle of the media scrum shouts.

“I had my eyes opened. I came to realise that I had more to offer this world than just making things that blow up,” Tony takes a deep breath, aware that Obie is standing beside him positively vibrating with anger.  “And that is why, effective immediately, I am shutting down the weapons manufacturing division of Stark Industries.”

Tony leaves the podium and heads straight for the elevator for the penthouse floor. He can hear Obie shouting after him and he catches movement to both sides of him and flash of black leather.

“Obadiah Stane.”

Tony stops in front of the elevator doors and turns to see Obie surrounded by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Agent Coulson and Nick Fury himself. The Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. has personally come to take Obie away and Tony gets a small kick out of that.

“Tony,” Obie practically growls, trying to walk towards him but being stopped by Phil putting a hand on his chest.  “You’ll regret this Tony, all of it. I’m not done with you, not by a long way.”

“You’re going away for a long fuckin’ time Stane,” Fury grins at Stane.  “Your ride to The Raft is waiting asshole.”

Phil nods and Obie is being dragged away by four agents towards the main door to the tower, the reporters all swarming and camera flashes going off. Tony feels his whole body go slack in relief that it’s over, looking up only when Fury walks over to him and puts a hand on his shoulder.

“We’ve got it from here kiddo,” Fury is going to reassuring but he’s not sure it lands how he meant it.  “You did good.”

“Thanks, I think,” Tony tries to smile but he just feels empty.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself Tony,” Fury’s face softens a little, his one eye taking in the dark circles under Tony’s eyes, the exhaustion.  “You’re so much more than your father you know. You have heart. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

Tony doesn’t answer, just sags a little more and puts a hand over Fury’s on his shoulder for a brief moment before the elevator opens. Fury takes his hand away, gives Tony a nod then watches with his one eye as the doors close and Tony is gone.

 

* * * * * * * * * * *



Trying to fuck and drink away his troubles isn’t working so Tony does the only thing left that he knows how to do: he runs.  He runs and hides and he drinks himself to the point possibly requiring medical attention. Drinking he knows how to do. He knows how it numbs everything else until he’s left with nothing but his own self loathing. He doesn’t run far this time, only to his office in Stark Tower rather than the other side of the world like he would usually do, but he makes sure to lock it down with biometrics and J.A.R.V.I.S. to keep watch.  He knows he should feel bad for running and for not telling Steve, but he can’t be around someone so good and noble. He can’t taint that and he’s too much of a hateful coward to tell Steve to his face so he runs. He wants what Steve is offering him so badly that it’s a physical ache, but he knows he doesn’t deserve it, doesn’t deserve Steve. He doesn’t deserve any of them.

He doesn’t know how long he manages to stay under the radar in his office, but he knows that he’s gone through all three of the scotch bottles in his drinks cabinet and he’s already started on the brandy. He’s thrown up down himself twice so he’s down to his boxer briefs and socks, suit discarded somewhere.  He thinks he may have pissed himself at some point, but he can’t be sure at this point. He’s sprawled in his desk chair facing the huge window looking out over the lights of the city at night, and he wonders if he threw something at the glass hard enough it would break and he could jump. Or maybe he could go up to the roof instead, but that would require moving so meh…

Sir, Miss Potts, Colonel Rhodes and Captain Rogers are requesting entry.

Tony doesn’t answer. J.A.R.V.I.S. has his orders so unless Steve brought the shield, no-one is getting in. Besides, he’s not sure he can make his mouth form any words if he tried.  Why won’t they just leave him alone? Can’t they see that he’s better off without him? He wants them to be happy, and they can be exactly that without him. They’ll be so much better off. He’s going to end up being just like Howard and no-one will want to be around him when he’s like that, so they should all just leave.

“ANTHONY EDWARD STARK, YOU OPEN THIS DOOR RIGHT THE FUCK NOW!” Pepper swears from the other side of the door and Pepper never swears. Someone is banging on the door too, so hard that it’s shaking on its hinges.

Sir, they’re really quite insistent. And Captain Rogers is threatening to rip the door out of its frame.

“Tell them to fuck off Jarvis,” Tony slurs, bringing the bottle of brandy up to his lips and missing entirely so that it sloshes down his chest. 

“Or you could just let them in because believe it or not Stark, they care about you. We all do.” Tony thinks he’s going to have a heart attack at the sound of Clint’s voice to his right, and how the fuck did he get in?  “You also need to up the security on your ventilation system because it was easy as fuck to get in here.”

Tony knows he should be ashamed of his friend seeing him like this, but he’s too drunk to care.  He can’t look at Clint though, which should probably tell him all he needs to know.

“Get out,” Tony croaks. Trying to take another swig from the bottle in his hand and missing a second time.

“No,” Clint says flatly as he rounds the chair to stand in front of Tony, who still can’t look at him. He knows what he looks like, knows how pathetic and disgusting he is.  “I’m not going to let them in, yet, but I’m not leaving this room without you.”

“Why do you even care?” Tony flails the hand with the bottle in at Clint so that more of it splashes everywhere.  Damn, it’s good brandy too. “Why are you even here Barton? We’re not even friends. I just pay you to be around. You don’t care about me, only my money.”

“Tony, stop,” Clint crouches down in front of Tony, hands on both the arm rests of the chair so that Tony is loosely hemmed in. Clint can feel the sadness in his eyes as he takes in the young sub, his nose wrinkling a little at the smell that now seems to permeate the whole office. Tony’s boxer briefs are stained with god-knows-what, his eyes red rimmed and his hair limp and stuck to his forehead. His skin is sallow and gaunt and there’s vomit on the carpet next to the chair. He’s a fucking mess.  “I’m not going to deny that money isn’t kinda nice, but you’re not actually paying me to train you. Or Nat actually, so nice try but no dice. Why are you doing this to yourself?”

“Because i'm a fuck up that no-one wants,” Tony has done so much crying over the past couple of weeks that he’s surprised he’s got any tears left.  He wipes his nose on his arm and smells vomit which then makes him gag, but there’s nothing left in his stomach to bring up.  

“Your father may have been a cold bastard Tony, but there’s one person in front of you, and three people on the other side of the door who care about you,” Clint says softly, standing slowly so he can reach for the bottle that Tony is clutching in his hand. He gets no resistance so takes the bottle and places it on the desk behind Tony.  “And that’s just the people in a ten foot radius.”

“I can’t…” Tony’s face crumples then because he can’t stand how nice Clint is being, he doesn’t deserve it.

“You can,” Clint says softly, stepping closer to Tony but not touching yet. He’s not sure how the other sub will react in his state.  “And unless you want to have to replace your very fancy door, you should probably let Steve in before he goes into full on Cap mode and juggernauts his way through that bitch with his bare hands.”

Agent Barton, the door has a core of titanium and a frame of reinforced steel.

“Ever had it tested to withstand the world’s only super soldier Jarv?” Clint’s smirks at the ceiling.

That would be a no Agent Barton, point taken.

“Steve…” Tony whispers, swaying towards Clint in the chair.

“He’s not angry Tony, just worried,” Clint catches Tony before he falls face first out of the chair.  He lets Tony wrap his arms around his waist and mush his face into his stomach. “Although I think you might want to put him between you and Pepper because I dunno if she wants to kiss everything better or strangle you.”

“M’sorry…” Tony is muffled against Clint’s stomach, but the archer hears him anyway.  He shrugs off his shirt and wraps it around Tony’s shoulders.

“I’m gonna get Jarvis to unlock the door, K?” Clint tells rather than asks Tony, who after a few moments just nods against his stomach.  “Jarv, can you let them in?”

J.A.R.V.I.S. must have seen Tony’s silent nod because Clint hears a click and then Steve, Pepper and Rhodey are bursting through the door. Pepper’s nose screws up a little when the smell hits her, and Clint feels Tony’s arms tighten around him when he hears the door open. He puts both his hands on the sub’s shoulders to let him know that he’s not going anywhere unless Tony moves first, and then Pepper is falling to her knees next to the both of them, tears in her eyes.

“Tony, oh my god…” Pepper’s hands hover over her friend, not sure if she should touch him or not, but Clint gives her a small nod and she surges forward to wrap her arms around the bits of Tony that she can reach. Don’t you ever, ever do that to me again, you hear me?”

Rhodey fights back his tears as he takes in the sight of Tony in front of him, angry that he couldn’t stop it from getting to this point. He feels Steve put a hand on his arm in silent support and he’s grateful that he’s here.  

“Ready to go home Tones?” Rhodey asks quietly and Tony nods silently against Clint’s stomach.  The archer manages to coax Tony into sitting up and Rhodey finds the sub’s discarded clothes. They’re not clean by any means, but they’re thankfully vomit free even if they do stink of whisky.  Clint crouches down to put Tony’s legs into his pants as Pepper takes the shirt from Rhodey and gets Tony to put it on. When he’s mostly dressed, Rhodey steps forward and lifts him to stand which prompts a bout of retching. Nothing comes up thankfully, so with Rhodey and Pepper’s support, they start to get Tony moving towards the office door.

“Steve…” Tony croaks and he can’t bring himself to look up at Steve’s face.

“I’m here Tony, it’s OK,” Steve says softly and the answer seems to placate the brunet because he nods and starts back towards the door.  Steve sighs heavily and follows behind, not really sure of what to do seeing as Pepper and Rhodey seem to have things covered. But he follows anyway, not wanting to be away from Tony for a second. 

“Coffee…” Tony manages to say and Pepper sorts out a little laugh.

“Yeah, yeah, we’ll get you coffee,” Rhodey says with a relieved smile. “When we get you home, you can have as much coffee as you want.”

“K…”

 

* * * * * * * * * * *




“I won’t let you do this to yourself anymore Tony,” Steve uses his Captain America voice  because he’s had enough of this, had enough of Tony running and trying to kill himself with booze.  “And I won’t let you push everyone away because you think you’re not good enough. It stops today.”

Rhodey and Pepper have finally left, but not before they were happy that Tony didn’t need a doctor and that the copious amounts of coffee he’s chugged down have started to sober him up.  So now it’s just him and Steve and Tony curls himself up even smaller, trying is disappear into the couch in his master suite. He knows he’s been completely out of control since his parents died. He doesn’t understand why Steve is still here, why any of them are.  He can feel the tiniest glimmer of hope in his chest, a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe , they all do like him and want to stay.

“Tony,” Steve says ever so softly as he crouches down next to the couch by Tony’s head.  He brings up a hand to start carding through the dirty brown hair, desperate to soothe the terrified and confused sub in front of him.  “I’m not angry, not with you, not by a long shot. I’m mad at all the people who have made you feel like you’re not worth anything because you are sweetheart, you’re worth so much more than you know. And I want to try and help you to see that, if you’ll let me. Can you let me take care of you Anthony, do you think you could do that?”

Tony unfurls himself just enough so that he can see Steve’s face with one eye because he can never ignore the blond when he uses his name like that.  He’s met with blue eyes that are full of hope tinged with a little sadness, and a lot of fondness. Tony doesn’t know what to do with that because any time he’s ever behaved so out of control before with a Dominant around, he’s been punished, and not the good kind of punishment either. But Steve is...Steve is looking at him like he would snuggle him to death if he got the chance and that’s just...yeah.  Tony thinks he’s could actually go for some super soldier snuggles right about now, so without overthinking it he uncurls himself almost all the way, makes grabby hands towards Steve and gets a face splitting smile in return. He finds that for the first time since he was a young child he wants to be comforted and held, and Steve just climbs right up to slide between Tony and the back of the couch so that he can wrap all that muscle and warmth around the smaller framed man.  Tony wriggles backwards a bit so that he’s pressed against Steve from shoulders to toes, and lets Steve wraps his huge arms around him so that he feels shielded from the world. He can feel Steve’s steady heart beat between his shoulder blades, and something deep inside him starts to hesitantly unclench.

“This OK?” Steve murmurs into the skin at the back of Tony’s neck which sends a shiver through his body.  

“Mmhmm,” Tony hums because it really is OK. More than OK actually, which would usually scare the shit out of him.  He doesn’t know how long they lie there for, tangled together on the couch. It could have been a few minutes, or it could be hours, Tony isn’t sure. His hangover is still there, but his head feels less like its about to start leaking his brains out of his ears, and his stomach seems to have settled.  He drifts in and out of a light doze, lulled there by the steady thump of Steve’s heart and his soft breath against his skin. He’s never done this with any Dominant before, just lie together, not even Pepper or Rhodey. This is completely new. He’s never considered himself to be any sort of cuddler, preferring fleeting touches and showering people with gifts instead. He also isn’t someone who can sit still for too long, but he thinks he could get used to this. He can also feel himself getting a little fuzzy around the edges like he does when he allows himself to start slipping a little into subspace. And that’s a whole other level of new, because that always needs to involve pain and humiliation or he can’t get there. Both himself and Steve are fully clothed and just pressed together on the couch so it's about as vanilla as it can get.  Tony puts it down to the fact that it’s pretty impossible not to feel 100% safe when you’re in the arms of Captain America, so his mind is currently in stand-down mode.

“M’sorry,” Tony says eventually into the quiet space of the lounge. He feels Steve stir behind him and press a soft kiss to the skin of his neck.  “For all of it.”

“I know,” Steve murmurs, still pressing little kisses to the back of Tony’s neck, each one sending a spark through his body.  “You don’t need to say it, I know.”

“Thank you,” Tony says next, and he can feel tears pickling his eyes.  “For staying, and for being so...so ...you.”

Steve pushes gently at Tony until he’s on his back and he can see the sub’s face when he props his head up on a hand and looks down.  He leans in a little and presses his lips to Tony’s forehead then pulls back to look into wide, sad brown eyes. He brings his free hand up to cup Tony’s face, thumb brushing over his cheek. He’s beautiful, even like this, even when he’s sad and lost. God, he wants to wrap Tony up in his arms and never let go. He wants to be the one to help him see how amazing he is, how good he can be. He’s not naive enough to think that he can fix Tony, that’s not his role, but he can be there to support him along the way. It makes his heart ache that Tony hasn’t had a Dominant to help guide him like he needs. Sure, he’s had Pepper and Rhodey to help him, but they’re his friends so they can only do so much for him. There’s a special connection that only a partner Dominant has with a submissive, and that’s the part that has been missing for Tony. 

“I wanted to stay,” Steve’s voice barely a whisper.  “I wanted to stay Anthony because you’re extraordinary and I want to be the one to help you see that. Remember what we talked about at dinner? And your answer? Well, all you need to do now is let me.” 

Tony feels pinned by Steve’s eyes, just staring back into the blue and green, his breath catching in his throat when he sees in them what Steve is offering. He’s never had this, not even close. And he can take it. He can just reach out, close the gap and take it. No ulterior motives, no using him to get at his money or his company. Steve is offering himself to Tony completely and that’s...that’s intoxicating. He can’t do anything then except reach up a hand to the back of Steve’s neck and gently tug him down for a kiss. It isn’t urgent this time, like it had been at the restaurant.  He wants to take his time, learn Steve’s mouth and the way he tastes. He starts by just pressing his lips to Steve’s, warm and soft, exhaling gently through his nose at the spark it sends through his whole body at the contact. He snakes his fingers from the back of Steve’s neck and into his hair instead and it’s just as soft as he’s imagined. Steve’s hand slips from his cheek to the side of his head and the blond parts his lips a little, yielding to the press of Tony’s mouth. Tony has to bring his other hand into play then, joining the other in Steve’s hair because he needs to hold on to something, anything as Steve’s deepens the kiss.  Not leading, but not letting Tony have free rein. He loses himself in it then, the slide of lips, the hint of tongue and Steve lets him. He wants to remember this, remember when he gave himself over to Steve without words. Steve’s big hand slides down from the side of Tony’s face, skimming along his side before coming to rest at his hip. Tony can feel with warmth seeping through his shirt and he arches into it a little, suddenly desperate for Steve’s calming touch. He doesn’t get far though as he has his hip pressed gently back to the couch. He makes a little sound of frustration in the back of his throat which Steve just swallows when he slides his tongue in alongside Tony’s. The frustrated sound becomes a moan and his fingers tighten in the blond hair under his hands when Steve shifts slightly to slot a thigh between both of his own. He wants more , but he also doesn’t at the same time. It’s scrambling his brain a little.  He wants , but he also thinks he could be quite happy just doing this for hours with Steve not letting him get any further no matter how much he whines or squirms for it. 

Anthony ,” Steve breathes against kiss-swollen lips when he has to let Tony up for air, his ridiculously long eyelashes lowered over heated eyes.  His hand on Tony’s hip tightens as though he wants to pull the brunet closer but is stopping himself.

“Why’d you stop?” Tony pouts, bottom lip puffy and pink, and tries to coax Steve’s mouth back to his by tugging his hair a little.  “More. Now.”

“Brat,” Steve huffs a breathless laugh, but does indulge Tony with a few quick kisses.  

“Your brat now, soldier,” Tony smirks when Steve pulls away again and watches something deeply possessive flit across the other’s face and it sends a wave of want crashing through his body when Steve’s fingers curl into the skin at Tony’s hip so hard he thinks he’ll have marks.

My brat,” Steve whispers in wonder, eyes slowly looking down the length of Tony’s body then back up again to meet brown eyes so blown and dark that he could get lost in them.  He hasn’t planned on being nearly a hundred with a new submissive under his hands, but he is and it’s wonderful. Besides, when did the life of Steve Rogers ever pan out like he planned?  “And my brat that is going to have a bath because he’s filthy, and then I’m putting him to bed where he will stay for at least the next 12 hours.”

Tony nearly chokes on his own tongue at the speed in which his dick goes from fairly interested to fully on-board. Holy fuck…  He doesn’t get much of a chance to overthink it because Steve is moving up and away off the couch and pulling Tony up with him. He slides a big hand into Tony’s and give him a little tug to follow him as he crosses the bedroom, leading the way to the huge master bathroom that has a free standing bath tub in the middle of the room.  He’s seated on the closed lid of the toilet and watches as Steve starts the bath filling, then fusses around getting towels and putting a mixture of different foam and salts into the steaming water. Tony watches it all, watches all that muscle bunch and flow under the soft cotton of Steve’s t-shirt, heart skipping a beat at the realisation that it all belongs to him, that Steve is all his.  All that power and grace, all the possibilities, they’re all his now. Sure, he has to share Captain America with the world, but he gets a part of Steve Rogers that is just for him. The room starts to fill with a little steam and the now familiar scent of cinnamon and sandalwood starts to drift towards Tony. It’s instantly soothing and Tony can feel himself start to slip a little further down into the warm, fuzzy space that he’s avoided for so long.  He’s never had a Dominant do this for him, take care of him like this, and it’s like his mind can’t help but start to slip deeper. There’s still a long way to go before he can slip under completely, but this feels....nice. It’s warm and inviting and it feels so good to be able to start giving himself up to someone that he now knows won’t hurt him. At least, not hurt him in the bad way. He hopes that Steve will hurt him in the way that makes him feel free and loose.  Right now though, that’s not what this is, and he knows that there’ll have to be a serious discussion about hard limits, safewords and code greens. That’s for later though. Right now, Steve wants to take care of him so he’s absolutely going to let him. He watches as Steve turns off the water, gives a little nod towards the bath and then turns to take the few short steps towards where Tony is perched on the toilet seat. He kneels down so that he’s not towering over him, and his face is soft and open.

“I’m going to undress you now Anthony, is that OK?” Steve asks, and he always gives Tony a choice the brunet realises, always asks rather than tells. He suspects that will change in certain situations once they’ve gotten to know what each other likes and wants, but for now he’s grateful that he’s being given the choice. Tony nods and gets that secret little smile that he's come to crave, and reaches out to start unbuttoning the rumpled and stained shirt that Tony can’t wait to shed. Steve is slow and methodical, nothing sexual or suggestive as he slowly strips Tony of all his clothes. He sweeps soft touches over every bit of olive skin that's revealed like he can’t help but touch, but it’s not going to lead anywhere. Tony is actually quite happy to be lulled into the warm and fuzzy headspace and not do anything else. He can feel the exhaustion from the past few weeks start to creep up on him, and he just wants to be coddled and cared for.  There’ll be plenty of time for everything else once he’s finally got rid of his hangover, eaten until he’s fit to burst and slept for about a decade. “Think you can get into the tub on your own?”

Tony gives Steve a raised eyebrow and shuffles over to the bathtub to climb in.  The water is the perfect temperature and his loud sigh of contentment fills the room when he slides down until the water reaches his chin. There is foam and bubbles surrounding him and the air smells like Steve and god, he wants to live here forever.

“Comfortable?” Steve’s lips quirk into a smile as he stands at the side of the tub looking down at his sub.

“It’d be better if there was a two hundred pound super soldier in here with me,” Tony waggles his eyebrows in a half serious suggestion and Steve laughs, the gorgeous sound bouncing off the bathroom tiles.

“Next time,” Steve shakes his head in fondness and ignore the over exaggerated pout on Tony’s face.  What he does do though is move to the head of the bath behind Tony, kneel down on the tiled floor and reach for a bottle of shampoo.  “This time I'm just going to take care of you.”

Tony is lost then in the quiet ritual of being washed and pampered and he’ll freely admit that as soon as Steve’s fingers started to massage shampoo into his hair he melted into a puddle of goo. He thinks his brain might be leaking out of his ears in the best possible way because Jesus fuck, Steve’s fingers are made of magic and sunshine and...and....Time just seems to stand still and it’s just the two of them. Steve rinses out the shampoo then dear god , massages in a conditioner that smells of coconut and rainbows, his fingers sending waves of pleasure from Tony’s scalp cascading through his entire body. He thinks he moans out loud a few times but at this point, he has no idea if he’s even capable of doing anything at all.  He’s almost all the way down into subspace now, floating there for the first time in his life on just gentle touches rather than harsh words and the sting of a cane. Then when Steve starts on the rest of him with a soft sponge and a silky foam that smells of vanilla, he thinks he might actually have died. By the time the bubbles have started to thin out and the water has started to cool, he’s clean, pink and being lifted out of the tub and wrapped in a huge fluffy towel.  Steve dries him off gently but efficiently and then the towel is gone only to be replaced by an even fluffier bathrobe. Tony can feel himself already being pulled towards sleep and he just wants to curl up under the covers of his bed, sprawl himself across the ridiculously wide chest of his very own super soldier and sleep for the next three years. And because Steve is a fucking mind reader, he’s being hustled out of the bathroom and towards his bed. 

“In,” Steve says gently as he pulls back the covers.  Tony just flops onto the bed, bathrobe and all, then wriggles around to get comfortable and Steve smiles down at him indulgently. When Tony has found the sweet spot, he frowns up at Steve then makes grabby hands.  “In a minute, stop pouting.”

Steve hurries around the room switching off all the lights but the one on the nightstand, then he sheds his clothes down to his boxer briefs and slides into bed to wrap himself around Tony who promptly snuggles in as close as he can.

“Tomorrow, after breakfast that isn’t just coffee, we’re going to have a serious talk about limits and what you like,” Steve murmurs into Tony’s still damp hair, and his words get him a sleepy moan from the sub in his arms.  “But now you’re going to sleep.”

Tony is already asleep before he can even think about protesting.