Nobody had died, and nobody had been possessed, so even though the hospital was keeping Simon overnight and Vision had taken himself offline for repairs, they were all counting it as a success.
Steve hadn't slept in over twenty-four hours, some of his teammates were pushing forty-eight hours without sleep, and the six of them had to give a press conference less than four hours from now, wherein they would have to explain how they'd managed to thwart Kang's latest attempt to take over the world, and why doing so had involved blowing up Madison Square Garden.
Tony had been quick to point out that it had only been one wing of Madison Square Garden, and that the damage was probably not structural. He'd repeatedly the 'probably' part one too many times for Steve to actually believe him, though.
Everyone was still too keyed up to sleep, so the end result was that they found themselves sitting in a rough circle on the floor of the Avengers Mansion's living room, playing a party game that Steve had never heard of and strongly suspected was played mostly by thirteen-year-old girls.
"I'll go first," Jan said. "Here's an easy one. I've never slept with a woman."
Clint, Hank, Steve, and Tony all obediently lifted their shot glasses full of diet coke and drained them. Jan's glass stayed on the floor in front of her, untouched.
Wanda, on the other hand, was holding her glass up in front of her with gloved hands and staring at it, a small frown drawing a line between her eyebrows. "Define 'slept with.'"
Clint made a faint, strangled noise.
Jan rolled her eyes. "Kissing me in order to tease Clint and Pietro doesn't count. You can put the glass down."
"Yes," Wanda said slowly, still studying the glass as if the fizzy liquid inside it might solve her dilemma for her somehow, "but I think maybe that time with Jean Grey might. And Carol definitely counts." She hesitated, then drank and put the glass down empty.
Clint was staring at her, his eyes slightly glazed. It might have been from fatigue, since he'd spent most of the past day leading Kang's elite personal guard on a chase across the rooftops of Manhattan, but Steve didn't think so.
"So," Wanda said, her expression serene, "in order to give Clint's brain time to start functioning, because we all know his fragile masculinity would never have stood up to this one: I've never slept with a man."
Both the girls drank. So did Tony, tossing back the shot glass full of soda with an ease that spoke of more practice than Steve wanted to think about.
Steve was so surprised that he lifted his own glass and took a healthy swig without even thinking about it. It wasn't until everything went dead silent and he realized that the others were all staring at him that the implications of what he'd just done started to sink in.
"So," he stammered, feeling his entire face flush with heat, "um, how are we defining slept with?"
Hank stared at him incredulously. "You already drank."
"But maybe I didn't have to," Steve could hear himself stammering, despite his best efforts to sound calm and collected, and it made his face burn even hotter. "I mean, we didn't actually… um…" It had only been once, well, only a handful of times, and had never involved anything more exotic than hands and a kiss or two. And once, Jack had gotten down on his knees and-
Tony had drunk, too, part of his brain insisted on pointing out, and without hesitating or asking for clarification. Steve was assailed by a sudden mental image of Tony on his knees, eyes closed, dark hair disheveled and face transported with ecstasy-
"If it involved either orgasms or nudity," Tony said, in an oddly distant voice, breaking in on Steve's inner fantasies, "it counts."
He was staring at Steve, too, but rather than looking curious or shocked, he just looked kind of dazed.
He hadn't slept in nearly two days, and one of Kang's guards had thrown him through a wall this afternoon. The hospital staff had tentatively suggested keeping him overnight along with Simon, but Tony had been adamant that he was fine, and Steve had let it go. Maybe he shouldn't have. "Oh," Steve managed, feeling suddenly guilty for imagining pornographic things about his possibly concussed teammate, and only partially aware of what he was saying. "Well, I guess if we're going by that definition, it counts."
"Hm. I guess only Carol counted, then," Wanda was saying thoughtfully. Everyone else was still staring at Steve.
"Whose turn is it now?" he said brightly.
"Who cares?" Clint said. "There's no way you get to say something like that and not give details. Like who, and when, and why the hell you'd want to, and why haven't I ever heard about it?"
"Jack started it," Steve mumbled, his entire face aflame. "He looked so lost all the time, and… saying no would have been like kicking a puppy." Actually verbalizing the reasons made them sound even flimsier, and even more like he'd taken advantage of Jack's obvious and occasionally embarrassing case of hero worship.
It probably sounded like one of those jokes about Batman and Robin that Steve had always thought were in poor taste. He'd basically slept with his sidekick; as much as he'd tried to help Jack regain a sense of confidence in himself, they had never quite been on an equal footing. "It was only a couple of times," he finished lamely.
It made him sound like the kind of man who was so eager for sex that it didn't matter whether the person he was sleeping with was male or female. Which wasn't far from the truth, since he never had minded, but it wasn't out of desperation, or because he didn't have standards, or… and Steve was suddenly very glad he hadn't said any of that aloud, considering that Tony had drunk at the question, too.
Tony was… outside conventional standards of behavior. He could probably confess to sleeping with War Machine every other Tuesday just for kicks and it wouldn't hurt Steve's respect for him, or make him any less an Avenger, any less Steve's friend. Any less gorgeous and desirable.
"So," Tony said, voice very dry, "your entire sexual history with men consists of 'that one time you had pity sex with Jack Monroe?'"
Even if he did occasionally want to hit him. "You make it sound so tawdry," Steve protested. It hadn't been like that, not really.
Tony was grinning now, so widely that the split in his lower lip was pulled open again. "I always did wonder why helping him find himself involved convincing him to wear a costume that made him look like a gay porn star."
Looked like a what? "It was my costume first!"
Jan leaned back on her elbows and smiled at Steve, her expression wicked. "Yes, and we all appreciated it while it lasted." She turned the smile on Hank, and it shifted from wicked to outright flirtatious, despite the fact that Hank was visibly battered and wasn't exactly an object of admiration at the moment. "Just as we appreciated it when Hank wore that Goliath costume that had two leather straps instead of a shirt."
"I wore that costume, too." Clint sounded so indignant that Steve had to smile through his crushing embarrassment.
"Yes, and we all regretted it while it lasted." Hank's voice was dry enough that the line almost sounded witty instead of just catty.
Wanda smile at Clint, and added sweetly, "But not nearly as much as we regretted the Indian princess costume."
Steve found himself snorting with suppressed laughter. It probably wouldn't been so funny if he weren't so tired, but he'd never heard Clint's inexplicable combination of suede kilt and geometrically patterned headband described quite that way before, and Wanda was so utterly right. Clint had looked like Pocahontas from that Disney cartoon, except blond, and with biceps.
Everyone in the room except for Clint was laughing. He suspected that they were all starting to hit the point where good judgment went out the window, himself included.
"Yeah?" Clint said. "Well, we regret the time you let Magneto pick your clothing."
It probably said something about how much time they had all spent in one another's company that no one had to ask which of Wanda's various costume designs Clint was talking about.
It had had a cape with a flared, stand-up collar tall enough that it had nearly been even with Wanda's ears. The cape had been pink.
"You try saying no to a megalomaniacal supervillain."
"Yeah," Clint returned, "but he wasn't responsible for your hair."
"As long as we're discussing unfortunate hair, I think we all need to have a moment of silence to contemplate the horror that was Tony's perm." Jan gestured at Tony's with her empty shot glass.
Tony shook his head, shrugged. The movement was stiff, lacking the grace he usually had. "I was sleeping with a hair dresser."
"In terms of horrible things your exes have done to you, talking you into doing that to your hair was only marginally less horrible than Kathy Dare shooting you." Jan almost sounded as if she meant it.
"All right," Clint said, pouring himself another glass of soda, "so who's turn is it now? And can I just point out how lame it is that we're playing a drinking game with diet soda?"
Steve glanced automatically at Tony, who was staring down at the empty glass in his hands. It was an unwritten rule that they never pointed out the absence of alcohol when Tony was involved. Ideally, they refrained from mentioning alcohol in Tony's presence at all.
Clint seemed to realize that the room had gone quiet, and added, quickly, "Who let the girls buy the drinks, anyway?"
Jan raised her eyebrows. "When your picture is on the cover of Maxim Magazine and the entire world judges your worth as a human being based on the dimensions of your ass, you can pick the soda."
The sudden spike of tension vanished. Tony leaned back on his elbows, as if sitting upright were too much effort at this point, and said, thoughtfully. "I've never been on the cover of Maxim magazine. I've been on the cover of GQ, though."
Looking at him right now, in the worn out and grease-stained jeans and undershirt he wore when doing welding and metal working and, as now, when he had no other clothes available, it was difficult to imagine Tony posing on the cover of any magazine, let alone one devoted to men's fashion.
Personally, Steve preferred the welding outfit over Tony's usual business attire. Right now, though, it left the scrapes on his bare arms very visible, and Steve could see the edge of a large bruise on his left shoulder, the injury only partly concealed by the sleeveless white cotton shirt.
"GQ is soft core porn for thirteen year old girls," Jan said, with a faint smirk. "So is Esquire. What?" she added, as Hank and Wanda turned to look at her incredulously. "Not all of us got our adolescent kicks by reading Popular Mechanic."
"I've been on the cover of that, too. And in Esquire," Tony rambled. Steve was strongly tempted to just tell him to go to bed, that the rest of them would handle the press conference. If he suggested it, though, Tony would almost certainly refuse. "Supposedly, it was an article on business," Tony went on, "but I always did suspect them of ulterior motives. They kept asking me to pose with my shirt unbuttoned."
"Which, of course, you did," Hank put in, without looking up from where he was absently playing with the bandage on his sprained wrist. He had injured the wrist escaping from Kang's guards, and his costume had been so badly burned and torn that he, too, had had to change into the extra clothes he kept around in his lab. Hank's "lab accident clothes" featured an Empire State University t-shirt and a much-abused white lab coat, and the dark circles of exhaustion under his eyes completed what Tony had once described as "the graduate student look."
"I've never been half naked on the cover of Rolling Stone, though," Tony continued, referring to the group shot of the Avengers that had graced the magazine's cover early in their history as a team. Clint, prominent on the far left, had been wearing the shirtless Goliath costume. Tony, on the other hand, had been encased in armor from head to foot. "Oh, wait. No. I'm pretty sure I have."
Jan refilled her glass and toasted him with it. "I remember that cover."
"Is Cap's costume tight enough to count?" Clint asked, with mock innocence.
"No, but the Goliath costume counts, so bottoms up, Clint." Jan drained her own glass, and Steve was belatedly reminded that they were, in fact, playing a game.
Steve frowned. "I wouldn't describe that version of your Wasp costume as 'half-naked.'" He felt a rush of quiet gratitude over the fact that they weren't talking about him, his costumes, or his past sexual conquests anymore.
Jan shook her head. "I wasn't drinking for that. I was drinking for the picture they took when I was dating the bass guitarist from Urban Camouflage."*
"Huh," Tony said. "I dated him too, after the Rolling Stone thing. I think I actually met him when I was there for the photoshoot."
Jan sat bolt upright, staring at him with something like horror. "Oh my God. You were the gorgeous rich babe who gave better head than I did. He dumped me for you!"
Wanda's eyebrows shot up. "He actually said that when he dumped you? Why were you dating him at all?"
Jan wrinkled her nose. "Because he was a famous rock star and I was young and stupid."
Tony nodded, smiling ruefully. "Yeah, he dumped me for Courtney Love." His voice was very wry.
Steve just sat there, hoping the expression on his face didn't look too stunned and vacant. Maybe they could go back to making fun of his costume, instead of talking about Tony performing oral sex on rock musicians? This was not helping his attempt to not think dirty thoughts about his probably-concussed teammate.
"You told me you were a virgin," Hank said.
Jan shrugged. "For a given definition of virgin."
Clint was smirking broadly; it was nice to see that one of them was enjoying themselves. "I thought we were using the Tony Stark definition of sex, not the Bill Clinton one."
Any further discussion of Tony and sex and Steve was not going to be responsible for his actions, which would probably include something really embarrassing, like propositioning Tony.
Tony was leaning sideways against the couch, hair disheveled and eyes slightly dazed. There was a dark bruise on his left cheek, which had been slowly shifting from red to purple over the course of the evening, and he visibly winced every time he tried to straighten up too quickly, but he looked more relaxed than he normally did.
If he were being honest with himself, Tony looked more relaxed at the moment than Steve had seen him since he stopped drinking. Apparently, the secret to getting Tony to relax was forty-eight hours without sleep, mild blunt force trauma, and listening to his team trade embarrassing secrets with one another.
"Is it a rule that all the questions in this game have to be about sex?" Steve asked, knowing he probably sounded ridiculously plaintive.
"Yes," Tony, Clint, and Jan chorused immediately. Then Tony and Jan both started to snicker.
"No," Hank said.
"No," Wanda said, with a slight shake of her head. "From what I understand from the X-Men, it's just considered more fun this way."
"Oh, well," Clint said, still smirking, "the X-Men. I mean, we all know what they're like."
"Anything Beast told you about mass mutant orgies was a lie designed to get Simon to pay attention to him," Wanda said, voice dry.
Hank picked up his empty glass. "Aren't we supposed to be playing this stupid game? Who's turn is it?"
"Mine," Clint said. He held up his own glass and proclaimed, in solemn tones, "I never lost my virginity to Sharon Carter in the back seat of a flying car."
Steve turned his empty shot glass upside-down and set it on the floor, pointedly not drinking.
"To Diamondback in the back seat of a flying car?" Clint said hopefully.
"Why are you so interested in my sex life?" It had actually been Peggy, back during the war -- at least, if they were going by Tony's definition -- but there was no way Steve was admitting that in front of everyone. The fact that they all knew about him and Jack was bad enough; he didn't intend to detail any more of his sexual experiences for everyone else's amusement.
"Maybe he has a crush on you," Wanda said sweetly. "You know, like Jack Monroe did."
Tony snickered. "Maybe you should 'take pity' on him."
"That's not funny," Clint muttered. "And I do not!"
Steve glared at Tony, feeling his face start to burn again. This entire game seemed to be designed for the sole purpose of humiliating him and making him uncomfortable. He'd told everyone something about himself that he'd kept hidden for years, trusted them with one of his longest-held secrets - one that in his original time could have gotten him kicked out of the army, arrested, thrown in jail - any Tony was acting like it was nothing, like it was something to mock.
"I don't know," Hank was saying. "I thought it was funny."
This was all Clint's fault for refusing to drop the subject of Steve and sex in the first place. "I," Steve said, with slow dignity, "never slept with a soviet spy and nearly defected to Russia with her just because she was willing to let me touch her breasts."
Clint giggled. There was no other word for it. "Oooh, Captain America said the word 'breasts.' Without blushing! Keep that up and you might even be able to find another girlfriend some time soon."
All right, Steve decided. They all needed sleep. The media would just wait, because there was no way most of the people in this room were going to get through a press conference without making absolute idiots of themselves.
"Or boyfriend," Wanda was saying. "Since apparently that's an option, too."
"I think we should all go to bed," Steve started. Everyone ignored him.
Hank refilled his glass, and held it up. "Since I seem to be the only person in the room who doesn't find Steve's sex life an object of constant fascination, and since Tony, Jan, and Wanda don't seem to be interested in taking their turns: I've never been captured and tied up by a supervillain."
Everyone in the room dutifully drank. It wasn't until Steve was putting his empty glass down that he remembered that he'd decided they were all going to stop playing this stupid game.
"I thought we were going to stop talking about sex," Tony observed.
Hank's eyebrows rose. "Clearly, your relationship with supervillains is different from mine."
Clint made a coughing noise that sounded a lot like "Madam Masque."
Ad now Wanda and Jan were giggling, and this entire thing was getting ridiculous.
"All right, people," Steve said, pushing himself to his feet with an effort. The knee he'd wrenched diving away from a laser blast gave a sharp, unhappy twinge at having weight resting on it again. "Game's over. Time for bed."
"We have a press conference in three hours," Wanda objected.
"Not anymore." Steve shook his head. "None of us are in any state to stand up there and let reporters ask us questions."
"That's not true." Tony tipped his head back and stared up at Steve, squinting slightly. "I've done press conferences in much worse shape than this."
"My point," Steve told him. "Fox News still likes to show clips from several of them. Everyone go get some sleep," he added, to the room at large. "I'm gong to call Ben Urich and tell him the press conference is being pushed back to tomorrow evening."
J.J. Jameson would throw a screaming temper tantrum, but Steve wouldn't have to be the one to listen to it, so at the moment, he couldn't bring himself to care.
Ben wasn't happy -- he was probably anticipating a Jameson tantrum as well -- but he agreed to put the word out that the conference was delayed when Steve told him bluntly that they were all exhausted and needed sleep.
When he got back to the living room, Hank and Jan were gone -- presumably to bed -- and Clint was stretched out on the couch, completely limp and already snoring. Tony was still sitting where Steve had left him, looking more dazed than he had just a few minutes ago.
Wanda, in the process of spreading a blanket over Clint, looked over at Steve with a faint smile. "I'm not taking his boots off," she said, and shook her head, long hair falling over one shoulder. "Jarvis will just have to cope with shoes on the furniture."
"Good job today," Steve told her. "We couldn't have taken Kang down if you hadn't disrupted his energy shield for us."
Wanda shrugged, tucking her hair back behind her ear. "All in a day's work." She left, tossing a, "See you in the morning," over her shoulder as she did so, and then Steve was left alone with Tony and unconscious Clint.
Because Jarvis really would be annoyed if he came in and saw Clint sleeping on the sofa in full costume, Steve bent over and pulled off first one purple boot and then the other, setting them on the floor by the couch.
He straightened up to find Tony watching him solemnly. "You're limping," Tony said. "I'm sorry for teasing you about Jack Monroe. I forget other people who aren't me actually possess shame."
"I was going to say modesty," Steve said; he hadn't thought Tony had noticed his blushes, "but shame works." He shook his head, feeling his face heat again. "You're all my closest friends. There's no reason I should be uncomfortable with you knowing."
"Knowing and mocking are two different things." Tony grinned up at him lopsidedly, head lolling back against the couch. "Sorry. I was just… surprised. And then I kept thinking about you and another man in one of your costumes, and… it was very distracting."
Steve stared at him, feeling as frozen as he had when Tony had casually tossed back that glass of soda and revealed to the entire room that he, too, was interested in other men. Was Tony flirting with him? "I wasn't going to admit it," he said. "I'd never told anyone. But you drank first, and, well, I wasn't really thinking."
"Why Captain America, you weren't going to lie in a drinking game, were you? I'm shocked."
Tony might be apologizing, but clearly he didn't actually understand how serious any of this was. Or what Steve had actually meant. Tony flirted with people all the time - maybe it didn't really mean anything, or at least, not what Steve had hoped it meant.
"I wasn't going to lie," Steve said. "I just… it's not the kind of thing you talked about when I was growing up. You could be arrested for doing the kinds of things that-" that Tony and Wanda had talked about so casually. "I've never told anyone before," he concluded lamely.
Tony was still staring up at him, still wearing that crooked grin. "I almost choked on my drink when you did. Do you have any idea how many fantasies I've had about you?"
All right, Tony was flirting. More than flirting - that was a direct proposition. "Um, no?" Steve managed.
"A lot." Tony concluded solemnly, smile turning wistful. He yawned, and added, "Mind giving me a hand up?"
Steve reached down and took Tony by the wrist, pulling him to his feet. Tony stiffened, hissing through his teeth as the bruises Steve knew were there under his shirt must have made themselves known.
Tony swayed a little as he gained his feet, and Steve looped an arm around his shoulders, taking some of his weight. Steve's knee let him know that it wasn't happy about any of this, but Tony bedroom wasn't that far away, so he ignored it.
They probably looked ridiculous, lurching down the hallway like a pair of walking wounded, but no one else was awake to see them. When they reached Tony's bedroom, Tony made a faint, amused sound, and said,
"Looks like I finally got you into my bedroom. Whatever would Clint say?"
"He'd want to know if I planned on taking pity on you." The words were out of Steve's mouth before he actually thought about what he was saying. He was too tired to guard his tongue anymore.
Tony leaned his head against Steve's shoulder, making a pleased humming noise. "I like that idea."
Steve lowered both of them on to the edge of the bed, and took a deep breath, trying to nerve himself up. He had never made the first move before -- the only other time he'd done something like this, Jack had been the one to start things.
Tony blinked at him, frowning slightly. "Are you-"
Steve leaned in and kissed him.
Tony kissed back enthusiastically, one hand coming up to tangle in Steve's hair.
It more than lived up to Steve's silent fantasies from earlier, and he could feel his body responding despite his exhaustion.
Tony took Steve by the shoulders and, without breaking the kiss, pulled him downward until they were horizontal.
Steve was stretched out along the length of Tony's body now, one hand bracing himself against Tony's pillow and the other sliding up under Tony's shirt.
Tony wasn't kissing back as eagerly anymore, though. His movements gradually became slower, more languid, and then he sighed a little and went limp.
Steve opened his eyes and pulled back a little.
Tony's eyes were closed, and his breathing was evening out into the rhythm of deep sleep.
It would have been frustrating, if it weren't so cute.
He could get up, Steve thought. Or he could stay here. He didn’t think Tony would mind.
He kicked off his boots, left his costume in a pile of leather on the floor, and crawled into the bed next to Tony, pulling the covers up over both of them.
He never done this, before, either, and he was damned if it was something he was going to share with the rest of the team the next time they felt the urge to play a stupid drinking game.
*because according to Dave Barry, it would be a great name for a band. Other great names for bands include "Foliage Eaters" and "Terrorist Molasses Floods."