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“I’m fine!” Tony insisted, but the two spots of pink high on his cheeks betrayed his words. “I think I’m coming down with a cold or something, it’s no big. I’ll go take my temp - bye!”

And he was gone.

Steve watched Tony go, a headache forming behind the crease in his brow already. The stench of alpha stress followed Tony in a cloud and disappeared.

“Good debrief,” Clint said, sliding his quiver off his arm and dumping it back on its rack. The team hadn’t even made it out of the tower to answer Tony’s call for backup before he was already on his way back. He'd collided with the landing pad, popped up the faceplate just long enough to tell them he was fine, then made a beeline to his room. Clint shrugged. “Guess he handled it himself.”

Steve’s frown deepened. “Did he seem okay to you? He was moving awfully fast. What if he was hurt?”

Nat hummed behind him. “No obvious signs of injury. He wasn’t limping.” She scented the air. “He smelled stressed, but not in pain. Maybe he is coming down with something.” She shrugged and tossed her go bag aside. “He’d tell us if something was wrong, Steve.”

The others filed out, but Steve stood, eyes fixed on the doorway Tony had disappeared through for a long time, uneasy. There was something off about Tony, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was. He sniffed the air, trying to scent Tony and catch any fear or pain mixed in, but it was too faint with Tony already out of the room, and Nat had always been the best at that kind of thing. Tony was hard to read and even harder to get close to. But Steve trusted Tony. So, if he said he didn’t need help, all Steve could do was be here for him, if he changed his mind. He sighed.

“Hey, JARVIS? Can you let Tony know that if he’s sick and he needs anything, all he has to do is ask?”

“Of course, Captain.”

“Thanks.”

Steve went to his room and tried to paint, but he couldn't focus. There was an itch under his skin that wouldn’t fade no matter what he tried. He set his brush down and worked out, first boxing with a dummy then running at full speed on the treadmill for over an hour, but nothing helped. Sweaty and sore, he stopped the treadmill and hopped off, flipping the hem of his shirt up to wipe his brow. “Is Tony feeling any better?” he asked JARVIS.

There was an unusual beat of pause before JARVIS said, “He requires no assistance, Captain.”

Steve stopped his path across the gym. “That’s not quite the same thing…”

“He’s fine.”

Could JARVIS lie? Would Tony ask him to? If Tony was sick, why wouldn’t he ask for help? Steve opened his mouth to protest, when JARVIS spoke up again.

“Mr Stark is indeed unwell, but he has isolated the virus and fears that it could be contagious for the rest of the team. Even though you cannot become infected yourself, he believes you could be a carrier and spread the virus to others. It would be safest if Mr Stark remained isolated until he is no longer contagious.”

“Is he okay?”

“He assures me he is fine, and I will monitor his vitals and report to you if his situation becomes worrisome. As for now, he’d prefer to be left alone.”

Steve hovered for a moment longer, trying to weigh his own worry versus Tony’s request, but ultimately there was no question: if Tony asked to be left alone, Steve had to honour that. His clothes felt hot and sticky, so Steve made his way back to his room and stripped down then stepped into the shower. The cool water instantly soothed the itchy franticness and his worry for Tony, and by the time he came out of the bathroom, he was feeling himself again.

Sure, Steve couldn’t get sick, but it was perfectly normal for Tony to come down with something, and it made sense that he didn’t want to risk the rest of the team. It wouldn’t be any good if Doom attacked the Met Gala while everyone except Steve was sneezing and feverish.

When Tony didn’t show for dinner, Steve decided that it was all well and good for JARVIS to tell him Tony was fine, but Steve needed to hear his voice for himself. He took the long way back up to his room from the kitchen, past Tony’s door. He knocked lightly.

“Tony? You okay?”

There was a muffled groan from the other side of the door. Then, “Fine, Steve! Go away, I don’t want you getting sick.” His voice was thin and strained, and Steve’s hand twitched towards the doorknob of its own accord.

“I can’t get sick.”

“But you could give it - ugh - to someone else.” Tony sounded awful, and Steve couldn’t make his feet move away. “Just go, please?”

The muscles in Steve’s jaw twitched with pain, and he realized it was clenched. He breathed in deeply now, but Tony’s scent was normal, just strong. Very strong. The fever must be burning him up. Steve sighed and pressed his forehead against the door. Tony was his best friend, the alpha he trusted more than any other. They were always there for each other when one of them was sick or hurt, and it didn’t seem fair that this time, Steve couldn’t do anything but stand around uselessly. “Do you want me to bring you some food? I can leave it outside the door,” he tried, a last ditch effort.

Tony grunted again, and there was a thump that Steve couldn’t place. Maybe he was coming to open the door? But then, “No... thank you. I just need to sleep.”

“Okay.” Steve stood pointlessly in the hallway for a moment longer, then walked off to his room with a sigh. That night, it took him a long time to fall asleep, tossing and turning, his room too warm. His sheets weren’t smooth enough, no matter how many times he tried to pull them taut, his pillow was lumpy, and every position he rolled into was comfortable for two seconds and then instantly became the most uncomfortable way he’d ever lain.

Eventually, out of pure exhaustion, Steve nodded off.

**

In the morning, Steve woke to sweaty sheets and an urgent situation tenting his boxers. It wasn’t unusual for his dick to wake up before him, but after he’d slept so badly the night before, it felt like an effort to take care of it now. But his hand snaked down and worked its way under his waistband. His palm was warm and firm when he took his cock in hand, and he sighed when he stroked up once. It felt so good; the exhaustion evaporated. He let his eyes drift shut again, trying to hold the morning off a little longer, taking just twenty more minutes before he had to dress and shower and set to work with his team.

But no matter how hard he tried, his thoughts kept drifting back to them. He wondered if Tony was still locked in his room, if he was feeling any better. He hoped someone else had checked on him. He twisted his wrist and circled his palm over the head of his cock, snapping his attention back to the arousal that twisted through his core. He wanted more, he wanted an alpha cock buried deep inside him. Just the thought made him moan, his hole twitching desperately around nothing. 

His mind went wild with fantasy, picturing an alpha spread out beneath him, his wrists pinned by Steve’s sure grip, riding him, rough and desperate, until they were both on the edge -

Steve gasped and came, pulsing over his fist. His hole was slick and loose, even without the aid of heat hormones, and Steve had to lay flat and pant through the aftershocks of his orgasm as he blinked up at his ceiling. Wow, that was intense.

He could sense the whisper of a lost dream at the edge of his mind, and he realized he must have had a filthy one, likely woken up in the middle of it, and his dick had been the last to get the memo that it wasn’t real. He hadn’t had a dream like that in a long time - some alpha’s arms trapped in his grip, writhing bodies, a knot stretching him wide and open, marking his alpha’s chest with his come as he gasped to completion. 

He pushed out of bed suddenly, letting the cool air shock him back to the present. He’d already found release, he didn’t need to keep fantasizing - what was up with him?

A cool shower and fresh clothes made him feel much more himself, and he made his way down to breakfast without the hint of flush to his cheeks.

The team was already gathered around the table, working their way through cereal, eggs, and toast. Minus Tony.

“Is Tony still in his room?” Steve asked, hovering by the doorway. He should really bring him something to eat if he wasn’t coming out. 

Nat nodded. “I checked on him about an hour ago. Says he’s fine, but he thinks it’ll be contagious for about a week. I left some toast outside the door. He said he’d wash the dishes in his bathroom to keep his germs contained.”

“Oh.” Something like disappointment settled like a weight in Steve’s stomach, and he wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t disappointment that Tony was still in his room, it was disappointment that Nat had already brought him food….

Steve shook it off. “Good.” He slotted three pieces of bread in the toaster and pulled out the butter and jam. “Training today?”

The team nodded, and after food, they all made their way down to the gym. After a brief warmup, they set into their usual training exercises, though Steve could feel the noticeable hole left by Tony’s absence. 

The frantic energy from last night hadn’t faded, and the sparring, which usually made Steve feel happy and calm, only managed to wind him up more. He pretended everything was normal through an hour of drills, but as soon as he had the chance to, he excused himself from the group and made his way down the hall to the closest bathroom. Any excuse to have a moment to himself. He passed Tony’s door on the way, but forced himself not to knock, even though his fingers twitched in that direction. Tony needed to sleep off his flu.

Steve pushed his way through the bathroom door and leaned over the counter, taking a few deep breaths. His hand reached for the suppression band on his wrist automatically. He felt so weird. At the thought, the back of his neck prickled then flushed and the warmth traced a line down his spine before fizzing into something more urgent deep in his belly. His cock throbbed as blood followed the flush and filled it. 

“Oh god,” he choked out. He hadn’t had a random erection this urgent since puberty, though the supersoldier serum did ramp up his libido something fierce. His eyes flicked to the door but he squeezed them shut when another wave of arousal washed through him. Someone could notice he was gone and come after him at any moment, but his other option was to walk back through the gym with a tent in his pants, or try and sneak around to his room without anyone noticing. And it would be just his luck that the moment he walked past Tony’s door with a massive boner would be the moment Tony decided he was well enough to reappear.

Steve’s hand slipped past his waistband almost of its own accord. He’d just take care of this quickly, then go back to the gym and finish his workout. The rush of endorphins from sparring must have hit him harder than usual.

He circled his aching cock with one hand and bit off the groan that threatened to leak out. He was so hard it hurt and he stroked roughly with a new kind of desperation. Slick leaked from his hole and dripped down his thighs. Fuck, he was so wet - he needed to do something about it, get something in him. He had a toy, every omega did, but he almost never used it. The suppression band kept the worst of his omega hormones at bay - he hadn't had a heat in years - and without them, it was enough to use his hand on his cock, once or twice a day. 

But this was different - something must be wrong with him. He couldn't think about it now, though. All thoughts but the furious movement of his hand were shoved from his mind. He was alight with arousal, right down to his toes, throbbing with it. He tried to shove his other hand down the back of his pants, get a finger there to tease his rim, but he couldn’t work his whole hand into his pants, and it didn’t matter anyway because the thought of slipping that finger inside him was enough to set him off. He groaned then clenched his jaw closed, furiously holding back any other noises as he coated his hand in come. Tony was right on the other side of that wall, sleeping off his flu, and the last thing Steve wanted to do was wake him up with his reckless masturbation. 

He cleaned up as best he could, wishing he could change out of his soaked underwear, but there wasn’t much he could do. He splashed cold water on his face and took several steadying breaths, but each one only served to embarrass him further.

God, Tony was on the other side of that wall. What if he was awake? What if he was listening? It was mortifying.

With the edge taken off his arousal, Steve was able to take a moment and think it through. This wasn’t right. Something was going wrong. His right hand jumped up to wrap around his left wrist, feeling the edges of the suppression band. It was Tony’s tech, and he had utter faith in Tony’s tech - but what if it wasn’t the tech that was failing, what if he was?

Maybe the serum was finally burning through the suppression drugs fast enough that his heat hormones were breaking through? Could he be going into heat? It didn’t feel quite right, but it had been so long, he couldn’t discount it as a possibility. 

Or maybe it was something else. Maybe he had caught Tony’s flu in the few minutes he’d seen him before he’d locked himself away in his room, and it was affecting him oddly because of the serum. Messing with his hormones or something.

He sighed and looked at himself in the mirror; he looked awful. His hair was askew, his face was flushed, and a sweat had broken out across his brow. His clothes were rumpled and he was moving oddly, trying but unable to ignore the slick slide between his thighs. He looked utterly debauched. 

He straightened his clothes as best as he could and slipped out of the bathroom. He made his way down the hall, but paused at Tony’s door. He pressed his ear against it. All was silent on the other side - Tony was probably sleeping - but he stayed that way for a moment anyway, just in case.

When no sound came - no cry for help, or needy whimper of Steve’s name - he forced himself to pull away from the door and head back to the gym. To his relief, everyone had already finished their drills and packed up, leaving the whole gym to himself. He had energy he clearly needed to burn off, but he wasn’t particularly interested in doing it in front of everyone else. 

After an hour of running, and two more hours sparring with Tony’s bots, he was starting to feel himself again. He managed to make it through the rest of the day without losing his head again, but as soon as he turned off the light and lay down in the dark, his body hummed alive. Electricity crackled through all his nerves and his cock throbbed hard and insistent as slick leaked from his hole to soak the sheets.

Steve groaned and rolled over, but every position just made things worse. On his back, his erection tented the blankets, rubbing against the smooth sheets and pulling his attention. On his stomach, his hips quirked up, shoving his ass in the air, his needy hole exposed and dripping. On his side, all he could imagine was an alpha pressing up behind him, sliding in…

There was no use; he had to take care of this. Again. 

As soon as he wrapped his hand around himself, a moan shocked out of his throat. It was good, but it wasn't enough. He dug around one handed in the drawer beside the bed and found his favourite dildo, not too long, not too thick, but heavy and solid. 

It slid in so easily. He didn't even need synthetic slick. His hole was open and dripping, but even the stretch of the dildo wasn't quite enough to satisfy. With a frustrated moan, Steve flipped back on his stomach again and rubbed his cock against the mattress, plunging the toy in and out of his hole as deep and hard as he could.

He came, but he didn't stop, just kept thrusting in the wetness from his come, the dildo making a horrible squelching sound, he was so wet. When he came again, it was so intense, it almost hurt, making him whine and whimper and shake.

He slipped the toy free and tossed it on the floor, panting, so hot he had to kick the sheets off so the cool air could kiss his sweaty skin. He lasted ten minutes before he got hard again and his hand snaked down between his thighs.

The last thought Steve had before he finally fell asleep, three orgasms later, was: Something is wrong with me. I need help.

**

In the morning light, Steve felt no different. He woke up hard, jacked off twice, and still felt worked up. It was the kind of thing that he'd normally go to Tony for help with: personal, embarrassing, hard to describe. Tony had a way of just understanding what Steve needed - maybe it was the alpha in him, but he just calmed Steve down. And they were close, really close, so he knew Tony wouldn't be bothered talking about something like this.

But Tony was sick - the thought still made Steve's heart sink - and this was more in the area of chemical expertise so it was pretty clear who he needed to go to: Bruce. Bruce was gentle and understanding. Steve could feel safe with him, once he pushed through his humiliating confession.

Steve finally rolled out of bed and went straight to the shower. He rinsed off the come and slick and sweat, but this time even the cool water hardly did anything to sooth his tension. He was antsy and worked up and he had to draw in several deep breaths in a row to keep his cock from getting worked up all over again.

Finally dressed, he left his room to go find Bruce. He took the long way around, past Tony's room.

Just to make sure he was okay.

He stopped at the end of the hallway and stared at Tony's door, only twenty feet away. How was Tony coping with his illness? It would be so lonely to suffer through the flu alone. Maybe he needed company…

Steve took a step forward. Bruce could wait. Steve really ought to check on Tony. He'd been sick for two and a half days now. Even with JARVIS looking out for him, that was a lot. Steve took another step. He'd just call to him through the door, hear his voice, be assured once more that he was okay. Or maybe he could bring Tony some breakfast.

And he could stay while Tony opened the door to take it - just get a peek. Because Tony wouldn't open the door for him before, and that was weird. Steve just wanted him to open the door. 

Steve's eyes wouldn't shift from the doorknob at the end of the hall. Was that Tony calling out for help he heard? He took a step towards it, but a voice - real and present - called to him from the other end of the hall. “Cap? Everything okay?”

He spun around, blinking and shaking himself out of the dreamy feeling he'd been caught in. “What?”

Clint stared at him, his brow furrowed. “Are you okay?”

“Fine. I’m fine,” Steve insisted. It was Tony they should all be worried about. He’d been trapped in there for two and a half days now. Alone. Without Steve.

“Alright…” There was something off in Clint’s voice. “I was looking for you actually. Want to spar?”

The offer, usually a welcome one, wormed its way deep into Steve’s gut and wriggled unpleasantly there. How could Clint be thinking about training when Tony was trapped all alone in his room? Steve needed to be ready. For… something. If Tony needed… something.

He shook his head and rubbed his hand over his face. Tony was fine. “JARVIS, is everything alright with Tony?” he asked, fighting the flush that threatened his cheeks. He already knew that the team thought he worried about Tony too much, but their resident genius wasn’t always so great when it came to taking care of himself, and Steve hated the thought of him suffering on his own.

“Mr Stark is currently resting. He needs no assistance.”

It should've been a relief, but it made Steve’s frown deepen.

“Come on, Cap. He’s doing alright. I spoke to him just this morning and -”

“You did?” Steve rounded on Clint, a soft growl slipping out of his throat. Clint took a step back, one hand coming up placatingly. 

“Dude, what is up with you?”

“I -” Steve opened and closed his mouth a few times. “I don’t know. I’m so sorry - that was. Shit. I have to - “ He turned and marched off down the hall, only realizing several steps later that he was heading towards Tony’s door, instead of his own.

It was too much - he needed help, and he needed it now. With great effort, he spun on his heel and made for Bruce’s lab instead.

**

Bruce was a doctor, and he had experience dealing with a body out of his control, so Steve hoped he would understand. Besides, Bruce wasn’t the kind of person to make fun of Steve or make him feel uncomfortable for anything. 

Thankfully, Bruce was in his lab alone, tinkering with a bunch of test tubes. 

“Sorry, to bother you,” Steve started uncertainly, already feeling the pull to turn and hightail it out of there - back to the bathroom to touch - He shook his head violently. “I’m having a bit of an issue,” he managed to get out between gritted teeth. “I could use your medical opinion.”

Bruce sighed. “Well. I’m not that kind of doctor, but I’m the closest you’ll find here, so go ahead, I guess.”

“Do you think Tony’s okay?” Steve blurted out, then frowned. That hadn’t been what he intended to say at all.

Bruce gave him a curious look, pushing back from his desk to face Steve fully. “Yes... He assured me his fever wasn’t dangerously high. Hammer hit him with some kind of high-powered flu virus, but he seems to be handling it well.”

“Okay. Good.” Steve hovered in the doorway.

“Is that really what you came here to ask me?”

“No.” Bruce stared at him and Steve blinked back, trying to make his mouth move. Steve formed several random vowel sounds then managed to say, “I think there’s something going wrong with my suppression band.”

Bruce’s confused stare shifted to concern. He held out his hand, and Steve set his wrist in Bruce’s hold, letting him examine it. “You’ve been having hormonal symptoms?”

“Uh. Yes.”

“Like what?” Bruce was nothing but professional and detached, but Steve was one more embarrassing question away from bursting into flames. 

He tried to match Bruce’s cool calm. “Flushing. Confusion. Uh - urges....” he searched for something else so he could charge right past what that might mean. “Irritability!” He swallowed hard. “I growled at Clint for asking me to spar.”

“Hmm. Well, I can’t guarantee a straight answer, but I have the equipment I need to do a blood test, and JARVIS could help me read the results.”

“Okay. Thanks, Bruce. I really don’t feel comfortable going to a regular omega doctor for this. They don't understand how the serum can change things.”

“It’s fine, Steve, I understand.” He looked at him for a long moment without moving towards the cupboard with the needles. “When you say ‘urges’ -”

“Yup. Yes.” Steve cut him off. “It’s exactly what you think. A lot of that. Mostly that. And it’s distracting,” he nearly growled. 

“Right. Okay.”

Bruce grabbed what he needed and settled Steve in a chair by the wall. The needle barely pricked going in, and Steve kept his gaze fixed on the wall over Bruce’s head and tried not to think about the insistent heat growing in his gut again, what Tony might be up to, or throwing Bruce across the room so he could run down the hall and hide in the bathroom and take himself in hand and -

“All done.”

Steve let out a tense breath. 

“This will take a minute,” Bruce said. “I’ll have JARVIS call you when -”

Steve was already out of his chair and halfway down the hall before he felt his feet moving. He shoved through the door to the bathroom and locked it behind him. His pants hit the floor and he wrapped his hand around his cock with a moan. He braced his hand against the wall, wincing when he realized the bathroom he'd gone to was the one next to Tony's room and the wall he was leaning against was the one that separated this room from Tony’s bedroom. He gave up and spun around, pressing his back against the wall and sliding down until his butt hit the floor.

His pants tightened painfully around his calves, and he kicked them off, sliding down so he could get his other hand between his legs to tease at his hole. His cock twitched in his hand, and he started stroking it, slow but firm. His head cracked back against the tile wall - the wall Tony was sleeping on the other side of - and he bit down hard on his lip. This was so completely out of control, but he couldn’t tamp down the arousal that flushed through him. 

He arched his back, then wriggled even further down. One finger pressed against his hole, slick leaking out around it, then slipped inside, moving easily. 

“Ah, fuck.” It felt so good. Steve was dizzy with need. One finger quickly became two, then three - it wasn’t enough. He needed more. He needed - alpha. He bit down even harder and tasted blood, his hand moving at supersoldier speeds now. After all of the masturbating he’d done in the last two days, he couldn’t believe he had any more orgasms left in him, but it built nonetheless, climbing inexorably higher until his fingers were plunging deep into his ass, finding his prostate, then dragging back only to shove in again, deeper this time. His other hand moved faster and faster, his hips twitching up with every stroke to meet his fist at the base. It was so good and still not enough. “Alpha,” he whined, never one to beg, but something was missing, his body was calling out for it, yearning, and it was near painful.

There was a small noise from the other side of the wall - Tony - and Steve gasped out loud, unable to stop it as his orgasm rolled through him in relentless waves, drawing a series of helpless cries out of his already wrecked throat. 

He sat on the bathroom floor, covered in a sticky mess of his own slick and come, chest heaving, his pants mocking him from their desperate puddle by his feet. And Tony, just on the other side of the wall - listening? To Steve’s humiliation?

If only Tony would let him in, so they could talk. Steve could explain - Tony would understand. 

He must have sat there - head pressed back against the wall, eyes squeezed shut, wishing for Tony - for a long time, because JARVIS startled him back to consciousness with a gentle, “Captain Rogers?”

Steve scrambled for his pants, even though he knew JARVIS wasn’t a real person spying on him. He pulled them on and bounced around the bathroom, trying to get dressed and clean himself up at the same time. His hole was stretched and sopping. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d made such a mess of himself. “Yes?”

“Dr. Banner has your test results.”

“Thank you.”

He took several minutes to lean against the counter and breathe deeply. Bruce would have an answer. He just needed to check on Tony and then go down the hall and - maybe wait outside Tony’s door for a few minutes just in case - then go down the hall and talk to Bruce and then he could come back and bring Tony some food and maybe this time he’d let him in.

Bruce was sitting at a different desk when Steve dragged himself down to his lab. He was frowning at a printed piece of paper. Steve knocked against the open door, and Bruce looked up, his frown not fading.

“You’re not in heat,” he said, matter of fact, and Steve let out a long tense breath of relief, then froze - if he wasn’t in heat - than what? Bruce went on, “There is something weird going on, though.”

“No kidding,” Steve bit out, frustration welling up in his chest again. If only Tony were here - he’d know how to make him feel better.

“You have a sharp increase in pre-bonding hormones. It’s not usually part of a regular heat. A peak like this usually means, well, it usually means your alpha is going into rut and pushing you into an off-schedule pre-heat, which would override even the suppressors.”

“I don’t have an alpha,” Steve said back automatically, even though he knew that Bruce knew that.

“So, it must be something else. You’re right, the suppression band must be malfunctioning, messing with your hormones. It’s the only explanation.”

Steve sighed and slumped down in his chair. The last thing he needed was his hormones going haywire right now, when Tony was sick, when Tony needed him. Tony really needed him. He should go to him. He stood up, and as he did, a lead weight dropped into his stomach. 

Oh shit. 

It was the only thing that made sense. Tony disappeared into his room, wouldn’t let anyone see  him, and the next morning, Steve had been flooded with the kind of hormones that only flared up around an alpha in rut - not just any alpha, his alpha. And Tony wasn’t his, they weren’t bonded, had never been anything more than good friends. Though it wasn't like Steve hadn't wondered… but it didn't matter, they were friends. But they did spend all their time together. Steve was attuned to his scent, so maybe somewhere along the line, his body chemistry had become confused, thinking they were something more than they were. Rut matching wasn't supposed to happen unless you were really, really compatible.

Like in love. 

But they weren't. Just friends.

And Tony - the flu wasn’t flu but a rut. Tony was on suppressors too, so whatever he’d been hit with had sent him into a forced, drug-induced rut. It was sick, torturing someone that way.

Steve had to help him. He tried to stagger to his feet, only to realize that he already was on his feet, which mostly involved half tripping over his chair with a groan. The thought of Tony alone and in rut, desperate and needing, rock hard and unable to sate himself without an omega’s wet hole was getting Steve hard again even though it had only been a few minutes since his last orgasm. 

“I -” he choked out. “I know what’s - thank you. I have to - Thanks.” He bolted.

He ran up two flights of stairs to stop at the end of Tony’s hall. Tony’s door loomed. He wanted to scramble back into the bathroom he’d been spending so much time in, but he realized now that it was just the draw of Tony’s hormones that had pulled him in time and time again. 

All those times… Tony wasn’t sleeping. He was as desperate as Steve, more so, probably. He was most likely doing exactly the same thing on the other side of the wall. Steve groaned and his knees gave way until he slumped on the floor, his back to the wall. He pressed the heel of his hand over the rising bulge in his pants. He couldn’t do this - it was mortifying.

He pushed himself to his feet and staggered up to his room. He collapsed on his bed and rolled his hips, rubbing off on the sheets and burrowing his face in his pillow. If Tony saw him, he'd know. He'd know that sometimes, alone at night, Steve would let his mind wander to a certain alpha in the tower and what he might want to do with him if given the chance.

But Tony had hidden himself away because he didn’t want to share his rut with anyone. Not with Steve. He had no idea his pheromones were leaking into the tower and driving Steve wild. Because Steve’s body had decided at some point that Tony was as close to a bonded alpha as it needed to go completely haywire during Tony’s rut. And all Steve could think was thank god for the suppressants because if they had to go through this every few months, Steve would lose his damn mind.

A whimper leaked out as he thrust against the mattress again, his aching cock still trapped in his pants. Now that he was fully able to acknowledge that the deep, desperate urge to see Tony was tied inexorably with the surging need in his gut, he couldn’t get him out of his mind. It was like there was a string, tied to Tony’s doorknob and threading through the tower to finish at his heart, and it pulled painfully. 

Blood pumped through his head and down to his cock, and slick soaked his underwear. He needed. He’d never felt need like this before. It was torture. 

“JARVIS, how much longer is Tony going to be in rut for?” he asked. The AI hesitated, and Steve assumed he’d been told not to reveal the details of Tony’s predicament. “I already know what's happening. Please just tell me.”

“At least four days for a regular cycle,” JARVIS explained. “As this was drug-induced, it may be longer than that.”

“Holy shit,” Steve bit out. He had to leave, leave the tower. He couldn't be here, dragging himself through this swamp of heady hormones for several more days without getting his hands on Tony. He pushed himself up off the bed, unable to resist palming himself through his jeans. He staggered to the door, but when he told his feet to take him down to the landing pad and into the quinjet, they took him no further than Tony’s floor then stopped. 

He braced his hand against the stairwell doorway and stared at Tony’s closed door. He should go - that was what Tony wanted - but…

Why?

Standing here and breathing in the bare edges of Tony's scent, Steve had the first whiff of clarity he'd had in days. Rut matching only happened when both the alpha and omega were compatible. If Tony's rut was setting off Steve's pre-heat, it wasn't just that Steve wanted Tony, Tony had to want Steve back. And right now, he was in there suffering, on his own.

Steve jerked forward and braced both hands against Tony’s doorframe. He pressed his nose to the edge of the door and sucked in deep. The scent was Tony with that hint of desperate twisted through it, strong and overpowering and delicious. His hips kicked forward on their own, rubbing his straining cock against the door.

“Tony,” he whined, but Tony didn’t answer. “JARVIS, I need to talk to Tony.” 

There was a long pause, but a moment later, Steve heard a comm line click on. “Steve? You have to go, please.” Tony sounded as rough as if he'd been screaming for hours.

It seemed like he knew that Steve knew, though. “Tony, it’s okay. Please let me in. I know what’s wrong. Let me help you.”

“I can’t let you do that, Steve. It’s not your responsibility. I’m okay -” He bit off with a pained-sounding groan.

“Sir,” JARVIS cut in. “Your heart rate is worryingly high. If you push this much longer without either an omega or medical intervention, you could suffer permanent cardiovascular damage.”

Tony cursed, and Steve slammed his palm against the door. “Open the goddamn door, Tony. I can help you.”

They hung in tense silence that stretched on far too long. Steve held his breath, unable to suck in another hit of Tony without ripping the door down himself. 

Then the lock clicked and the door swung open.

Steve didn’t even have a chance to look up and see Tony, the blast of air from Tony’s room hit Steve full in the face and he breathed in the concentrated smell of Tony. The cruel, teasing scent he’d only managed to get bare whiffs of over the last three days filled his head, suddenly everywhere and everything, and shot straight to his cock like an arrow. Steve barely had a chance to snap his hand to his crotch before he was coming, falling to his knees as it overtook him. He gulped in warm, Tony-scented air and tried to figure out which way was up again.

He rolled his eyes up from where he kneeled on the floor and found Tony, eyes wide, staring at him. He was sprawled on the bed, naked, the sheets in a twisted mess around one ankle. His skin was stained with proof that he'd spent his last few days the same way Steve had. 

"God, Steve," Tony moaned, his hand reaching for his hard cock, but Steve barked out, "Don't touch!" and Tony stilled.

Steve pushed up to his feet, shoved the door closed, and stumbled across the room, shedding clothes and moaning when the air hit his over heated skin. He braced his hands against the edge of the mattress. Tony was just staring at him, pupils blown. He smelled so good, spicy and needy, and it lit a fire deep in Steve's belly. 

"Tony…"

"I can't let you do this," Tony groaned, squeezing his eyes shut.

Steve crawled up in the bed and the movement shocked Tony's eyes open again. Steve straddled his lap and cupped his cheek. Tony's hands snapped to Steve's hips like they were magnetized, thumbs digging little bruises over each hip bone. Steve bent forward until their lips nearly touched. "I want to," he murmured, and Tony whimpered, breaking, grinding up to rub his cock against Steve's wet hole.

Steve didn't need any patience; he rocked up then back and Tony's cock caught on his rim. He was so wet, so desperate to be filled, that as he sat back, Tony slid easily inside him, finally pressing all the places deep inside him that his fingers couldn't reach. "Oh god," Steve moaned, throwing his head back. 

"Steve," Tony choked out. He pressed up with his hips then flopped flat again before finding an angle that let him set a pace, fucking up into Steve. But he was panting and shaking, clearly exhausted, and Steve suddenly had energy to burn.

Steve took both of Tony's wrists between one of his and folded them up and over Tony's head. He pressed them to the pillow and ground down, pinning Tony to the mattress. "Let me take care of you."

Tony gasped out something between a moan and a sob and nodded. Steve held him fast and started to move his hips. Tony's cock split him wide open in the most satisfying way possible. He could feel the heat and pressure and dizziness of the pre-heat that was trying to break through his suppression band, especially now that he was drowning in Tony's run pheromones. 

Tony's knot started to pop after only a few minutes of riding him, and Steve sat back and rolled his hips, keeping the bulge buried deep in his hole as it grew. Tony kept his hands where Steve had left them, as if the ghost of his finger-cuffs were still bruising Tony's wrists. "Steve - fuck - I'm going to - oh god -"

Steve rolled his hips again, rippling from his chest down to his ass and squeezed.

Tony cried out, tears streaking down his cheeks as his knot blew to full pressure and he started to come. Steve gripped him tightly, bearing down and angling his hips forward as he leaned back. Tony's knot had him stretched out so much that he could feel every throb through it as Tony came in wave after wave. 

When Tony moaned and his hips jerked up a bit, Steve was sideswiped by an out-of-nowhere orgasm of his own and he didn't even get a chance to reach for his own cock before it was pulsing, covering Tony's chest. His come mixed with the mess that already splattered Tony's skin.

For a long time, they just stayed there, panting, Tony's cock still giving out occasional half-hearted spurts that came with soft whimpers.

"Are you okay?" Steve finally asked, his voice pack-a-day rough. 

"I have literally never felt this good in my entire life," Tony gasped. "Three days of endless orgasms and none of them satisfied until now. Holy shit."

Steve preened at the thought that his body could bring Tony relief when nothing else could. The hold of the pheromones was lessening on him too, the need for stimulation fading to be replaced by something softer, gentler. A warm flush spread through him from his toes up to his lips and came out as a soft giggle. 

Tony was gazing up at him like he hung the moon. "Thank you."

Steve's flush deepened. "It wasn't just for you," he admitted.

"What?"

"Your rutting hormones. I could smell them everywhere in the tower. You triggered my pre-heat."

"What?!" Tony sat up sharply. "No… that's. We're not bonded."

"Apparently, we don't have to be. As long as we're very compatible and you go into rut."

"It wasn't a real rut, though."

"It seems my hormones didn't care about that." Steve lifted his wrist and fiddled with the band that sat there snugly pressed against his skin.  "It… it could be though? Real, that is."

Tony opened his mouth then closed it again. He swallowed heavily. "If you take that off you'll go into full heat and I'll go into rut for real."

"I know."

"We'll bond."

"I know."

Tony swallowed heavily, eyes bright. "I don't know what to say to that." 

Steve bent over and pressed a soft kiss to Tony's forehead. He took one of his hands and held it over his wrist, curling Tony's fingers around the edge of the band. "You don't have to say anything."

Tony held his gaze for a long time, not moving, seemingly not breathing. Steve stayed perfectly still. Tony's cock was still buried deep inside him but the knot was slowly starting to subside. If Tony wanted to kick him out right now, he could. Steve would go back to his own room. His symptoms would decline rapidly now that Tony's false rut was over. They could go back to the way things were. Or -

Tony popped the clasp on Steve's suppression band and let it fall to the mattress beneath him. Steve stared at the suddenly exposed skin. Tony rubbed his fingers over it then drew Steve's hand to his mouth and kissed the inside of his wrist.  

Steve laughed, giddy, and folded down over Tony, devouring him with a kiss. Tony melted under him, letting his mouth be eased open by Steve's tongue. When Steve released him, Tony bit his lip. "I don't deserve this."

"You're a good alpha, Tony. And a good man. I want to bond with you." He wiped a stale tear from Tony's cheek. "You don't have to always fight alone."

Steve started moving again, and Tony covered his face with both arms, groaning. Wanting to see him up close, Steve grabbed Tony around the waist and tugged him up until he was sitting with Steve in his lap. He gave easily into a filthy kiss as Steve ground down on his cock, working them both rock hard again. Tony tipped his chin up, parting the kiss to gaze at Steve.

"I've been thinking about you all week," Steve confessed. He rolled, drawing Tony with him so he was on his back with Tony braced over him. Steve clamped his knees to either side of Tony's hips. "I'm embarrassed how long it took me to figure out what was happening. In my defense, I was out of my mind horny."

Tony chuckled and dropped his face to hide in Steve's chest. He started a slow, steady thrust in and out of Steve. Steve's hole was slick and open and accepted him easily, nothing but pleasure lighting up every nerve. "I've been thinking about you too. I didn't think it meant anything different." He sighed. "I always think about you."

"Oh, sweetheart." Steve clutched him closer. "Come on, Tony. Take me, claim me. Mark me."

Tony rumbled low and alpha and possessive and nuzzled his way up to Steve's neck. Anticipation had Steve's stomach leaping as Tony nosed at Steve's scent glands. With the suppression band gone, everything felt a thousand times more intense but also a thousand times more tolerable, and Steve arched back on the sheets, pressing up towards Tony, finding every inch of him he could. 

Tony's knot started to swell again, and Steve gasped through the intense rush of arousal that flushed through him as it pressed against his rim. He wound his fingers through a handful of Tony's hair and gripped hard. He tugged Tony down to his neck, holding on for dear life. His body knew what it needed. "Bite me!"

Tony growled and bit down hard, teeth sinking into Steve's skin on either side of his bonding gland. A chemical cocktail flooded Steve's veins, and he cried out. His legs wrapped around Tony's waist and hauled him in, locking them together as Tony's knot popped and locked them there too. 

They both sighed in unison as the bond took hold. A second wave of pleasure had Steve coming again, barely noticing the come pumping out of his cock onto his stomach when Tony's knot was throbbing in his ass. Time blurred and the rest of the room faded away while every place that Tony's skin was touching his magnified to absorb Steve's entire attention. It was like their atoms were being knitted together into one. It felt like coming home.

Tony stayed tied to him as sleep overtook them both.

Steve woke up a few hours later with the burning rush of heat charging through him at full force. He moaned, grinding against the sheets, and Tony shifted next to him. He crawled over Steve's back and nuzzled his way into his neck to kiss and lick at the healing bonding mark. 

"God, you smell incredible," Tony purred.

"Need you." Steve arched his back and kicked his hips up to grind his dripping hole against Tony.

"How long will your heat last?"

"Maybe three days?"

Tony laughed, breath cool against Steve's overheated skin. "Guess we'll have to tell the others you caught the same flu." 

Steve reached back and wound their fingers. "Anything that keeps you all to myself for the next few days."

Tony kissed the mark again, gently this time. "Forever," he whispered, lips to Steve's ear. "All yours forever."