Even half-awake, Tony could always tell the difference between I-almost-died-again and I-drank-way-too-much.
The first time he dealt with the former was in Afghanistan.
The latter he had grown used to since he first started drinking.
He knew which one he favored.
Since this was another one of those crawling-back-from-the-gates-of-death events, Tony took his time. These things required patience – something he usually lacked. He made sure his mind didn’t wander, wanting to wake up, but gave his senses time to get on board with his current state. It seemed he wasn’t in a horrible amount of pain, which was unusual. There was a faint smell of smoke and he felt… comfortable. Not physically, but emotionally, which was weird and prompted him to eventually force his eyes to open.
He saw sky and branches of trees. It wasn’t just an image, either, but an actual scene. If he was lying on his back on a forest floor, though, he certainly shouldn’t be feeling comfortable on any level.
Turning his head, slowly, Tony shifted his gaze. Steve was sitting beside him, dozing by the look of it. A smile curled Tony’s lips and he wanted to reach out and touch him, to make sure he was real – although he knew, somehow, that he was. Steve started suddenly and opened his eyes, staring straight at him, and then a smile answered Tony’s, brilliant as the sky overheard. “Hey,” Steve said softly and reached out. Tony felt fingers touching his and quickly moved his own to hold Steve’s, to increase and maintain contact.
They gazed at each other and Tony felt peaceful. Whatever had happened, it was over, and Steve was there –
“Look who’s awake,” a new voice interrupted their moment. Tony tore his eyes from Steve’s face when the blond man looked up. Bruce walked over, face tired, but apparently he was happy, too. “You gave us quite a scare.” He crouched down on Tony’s other side, moving something – a blanket – out of the way, examining him. Tony craned his neck to look, staring at his bare abdomen. Bruce was currently running his hand across it, looking surprised.
“It worked,” Steve stated. Tony squeezed his fingers because it felt appropriate, even when he had no idea what ‘it’ was.
Bruce looked up at the blond, a slight frown on his face. “Better than I dared to hope. Clearly the super-soldier serum speeded up his healing because there’s no other explanation for why Tony’s injuries have all but disappeared.”
“I was hurt?” Tony frowned.
Steve and Bruce both looked at him. “What’s the last thing you remember?” Bruce asked, sounding like a doctor – and Tony had never liked doctors. They always wanted something – usually for him to be sicker than he was, so that they could treat him with expensive drugs and milk him for money at the same time.
Tony thought back. “I remember Alaska. Taking the plane, and… A.I.M.” He recalled the flight in the sky, the cargo plane being hit and the knowledge that his suit wasn’t going to make a damn bit of difference in the condition it was in. So he had gone back inside, tried to fix the engines – failed – after which he declared it a lost cause and they tried to get out. He looked at Steve. “You had a plan, right?”
Steve averted his eyes. “You said it wasn’t a good plan.”
“We crashed,” Bruce supplied. “You got hurt bad, even in the suit. Steve gave you his blood and… well…” He looked at Tony’s stomach again, running his fingers lightly across the skin. It tickled a bit.
“I think I recall the crash,” Tony admitted. “Sort of. It hurt, and it was loud, and then someone turned off the lights.” He tried to remember more than bits and pieces. “You were calling for me,” he added finally when that small glimpse of a memory reached his mind.
“The Hulk was,” Steve nodded.
“And I tried to call back.” Tony remembered thinking that, but didn’t recall exactly how he had done it. Locked inside the suit that had almost no power left, he had been out of options. And he had been hurt, too, although he wasn’t sure he remembered that or perhaps just thought he did after being told he’d been injured.
Steve’s fingers caressed his and Bruce noticed the slight motion, frowning at it. “We’re glad you’re okay,” he said as if testing a theory.
“I know,” Tony smiled. “Well, I know Steve is.”
Steve looked at him and smiled back.
Bruce gave them both a strange look but Tony wasn’t interested in deciphering the code behind it.
Tony had been awake for half a day when the rescue team finally arrived. Bruce was pissed, demanding to know where the hell they had been. Tony wasn’t sure why Bruce was so upset but he figured it had something to do with the fact that he had almost bled to death.
Steve was far less vocal; he sat with Tony, holding his hand until a few S.H.I.E.L.D. medics stepped over; while his injuries had healed, Tony still felt tired and weak. However, he absolutely refused to let them carry him into the helicopter and Steve helped him to his feet – then eventually carried Tony there himself.
Tony didn’t mind that as much, pressing against the wide chest and telling someone – perhaps Bruce – to make sure they picked up the remnants of the armor before leaving.
The flight back was uneventful. The medics tried to take a look at him and Tony entertained them for a moment. Once they were certain all he needed was some fluids and stuff, they kept Bruce’s IV in him and allowed him to rest in peace. Steve stayed with him, sitting next to him so that Tony’s head rested in his lap. The strong fingers caressed his hair and Tony smiled and sighed happily.
The medics joined Bruce in giving them weird looks, which was… a little annoying.
Tony wondered why they kept doing that.
They had originally planned on going to Malibu, but ended up in New York City in the aftermath of the crash. The other Avengers were already at the Tower, voicing their concerns when the three men finally arrived. Thor had apparently returned from another trip to Asgard, just a few hours before the chopper landed, joining the welcome committee.
“We can always trust you guys to mess up a perfectly simple flight back home,” Clint cracked.
“Funny,” Tony narrowed his eyes, taking it as a personal insult – but as soon as Steve laid a hand on his hip and pulled him close to his side, he let it go and looked at their leader instead. They would see how the Hawk handled it when another group of supervillains attacked him unexpectedly while he was still recovering from the last fight.
A deep silence followed and Tony turned his attention to the Avengers. They were all staring. He stared back for a bit, then frowned. “Okay, what? It’s getting annoying with the looks everyone’s been giving us.”
“What the hell?” Natasha asked. “The last time we saw you, which was less than three days ago, the most you two would do was work together on the field.”
“And?” Tony raised an eyebrow, not getting it.
“And now Cap is hugging you and you’re smiling at him!” Clint joined in. “What the fuck?”
“I have no idea what happened,” Bruce supplied from the side. “From the moment Tony woke up, they were holding hands and… yeah, doing that.”
Tony blinked and was once again rudely interrupted from gazing at Steve’s eyes. He frowned at the Avengers and then directed his attention to Thor. “Would you like to complain about something, Goldilocks?”
“Surely his bite is still there,” the Asgardian frowned, “but it is most curious. Captain, do you feel… well?”
Steve shrugged and pulled Tony a bit closer. “Yes. I mean, I feel good since he’s alive. Obviously.”
“We all do, but we’re not hugging him, or exchanging lovesick-puppy-looks with him,” Natasha deadpanned.
“I’m not…” Steve started to sputter. “It’s just that… It’s like someone pulled the curtain to the side for the first time. I see him, and he sees me.”
Tony swore that if he frowned any harder, there would be a permanent wrinkle in the middle of his forehead. “That sounds like a bad chick-flick. It’s nothing like that! It’s like…”
“Like what?” Bruce prodded.
Tony thought about it – hard – then snapped at everyone’s anxious looks: “I’m thinking!” As much as he wracked his brain, a simple answer wouldn’t come to him. “It’s like… I don’t have to guess what his intentions are, because I know what he’s feeling. There’s no bullshit, no lies. He’s being honest.”
“He’s always been honest,” Bruce stated flatly. “That hasn’t changed. And just for the record, the one time he tried to take you by the hand, during that mission in Venice where you almost got sucked into a swamp, you threatened to laser off his fingers the next time he did that without asking.”
Tony remembered that. “Okay, yeah, so maybe… But this isn’t weird! I don’t see how you think this is weird, because we’ve always –”
“No, you haven’t,” Natasha snapped. “Did something happen? Was something released in the crash? A toxin?”
“Not that I noticed,” Bruce said but didn’t seem to be completely dismissing the idea either. “Could it be magic?”
“Yes, although I do not see how,” Thor nodded, a grave expression on his face as if they were ill.
“You’re being extremely insensitive,” Steve complained, and Tony knew how much this hurt him, which in turn hurt Tony.
“You’re acting like kids on prom night!” Clint shot back.
“Hell no!” Tony shouted right back. “Just because things are good and we’re enjoying the fact that I’m alive doesn’t mean anything. He’s not even touching my ass. Look!” And Tony turned, just slightly, in case anyone doubted his word. Steve’s arm shifted around him but didn’t fall back. Instead, he clearly wanted to get out of the situation and Tony wholeheartedly agreed. “We’ll be in his room, if any of you feel like apologizing later,” Tony stated and they walked off in unison.
“Steve’s blood is the only explanation, although I have no idea how it would cause anything like this,” Bruce’s voice drifted out from the hallway.
Steve’s fingers traced Tony’s temple, at a pace that was familiar by now – and thus very pleasant.
“It’s bizarre,” Natasha said back. Tony didn’t need to see her to envision the stern, suspicious expression on her face. “They’ve gotten closer over the years, getting along better, but nothing like this. Tony doesn’t allow us to touch him like that, much less invite us and praise us for it.”
Steve’s hand moved to his hairline and traced aimless circles there. Tony smiled and held on a bit more tightly to Steve’s other arm, which was flung across his chest, moving his own fingers along the soft skin coated with nearly invisible pale hairs on the forearms. Steve’s chest moved against the side of his face, in an even up-and-down motion as he breathed. The TV was droning on about something they both had tuned out minutes ago, just focusing on the nearness of each other.
These last few days had been the most peaceful of Tony’s life. There were no arguments when the others weren’t around. Steve would touch him whenever Tony wanted – which was almost constantly. Just curling up on the couch together or lying in bed was more satisfying than any mind-blowing sex Tony’d had in his life. In hindsight, Tony admitted he had never felt connected to anyone like he felt connected to Steve. Well, maybe Pepper, but she had been a clearly separate person while he felt he knew Steve inside and out – thoughts, feelings and all. While Tony didn’t literally hear or sense any of them, he just… knew.
Bruce and Natasha left the hallway and entered the living room, halting for a moment, spotting the two of them on the couch; Tony was lying slightly on his side with his head firmly on Steve’s chest while the other man caressed his hair with one hand and rested the other over his chest. It was cozy and no power in the world was going to force Tony to move.
“Hi, guys,” Bruce called out.
“Hey,” they replied in unison.
“Bizarre,” Natasha muttered.
“Keep walking,” Tony ordered. “I don’t want to hear it tonight.”
“I want to do tests,” Bruce announced.
“What kind?” Steve asked, and Tony could feel him shift, probably looking over his shoulder at Bruce.
“Blood, for starters,” the scientist replied.
“So that you can solve this freakish puzzle?” Tony snorted. “Why can’t you be happy I’m not constantly bickering and throwing snide comments at him?”
“Because this isn’t you,” Natasha said. “Something’s wrong and the fact that the two of you don’t see it makes it even more alarming.”
Tony felt Steve’s mood change. It was like a cloud had just shoved its way in front of the sun and he felt cold and miserable suddenly. The only thing to do was to entwine his fingers with Steve’s and pull the hand from his chest to his mouth and kiss the other man’s skin. “We’re fine,” he murmured.
“We’re fine,” Steve echoed his words a bit louder.
“My point exactly,” Natasha responded but she and Bruce left them alone.
“I don’t get it,” Tony mused after a bit, the side of Steve’s hand still against his mouth. “Why can’t they just drop it? It’s not like we’re hurting anyone.”
“Maybe they’ve never felt this connected to another person. Maybe they’re afraid of it,” Steve mused and resumed his petting of Tony’s hair.
Tony guessed there was a hint of truth in those words. After all, he had been afraid of it, too, before the crash happened and he awakened enlightened, so to speak.
Like Steve had said, it was almost as if someone had indeed opened the curtains and let the sun shine in.
Fury scowled at them, and nothing was even happening. Well, okay, so maybe Steve’s hand had rested at the small of Tony’s back when they briefly stopped by the table, but that was it; they weren’t ‘necking’ or ‘caressing’ each other, which the other Avengers had already called them out on. It had been perfectly innocent and friendly, and still the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. looked like Tony had demanded for Steve to play footsie with him and exchange French kisses as entertainment during the briefing.
For some reason, the idea of doing that wasn’t as weird as it may have been some time ago. Not that Tony would do it, but it was in the realm of possibilities. Just not on the Helicarrier, in front of their team.
“Dr. Banner has reported that your blood-work suggests possible alteration from exposure to the super-soldier serum,” Fury started, looking at Tony. “I’m hard-pressed to bench you until the problem is resolved.”
“There’s no ‘problem’, sir,” Steve interrupted. “Tony’s feeling fine. Better, actually. When we sparred this morning, I could tell his reflexes and muscle control were better than usual, which has been the case since the crash.”
Tony smiled at him and Steve returned it.
“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t bench you both?” Fury raised the stakes.
“Because you can’t,” Tony said flatly. “He’s Captain America and the leader of our team. And I’m Iron Man.”
Fury raised an eyebrow as if being Iron Man wasn’t reason enough.
“Tony is in perfect condition to join the team,” Steve continued when neither man spoke. “I want and need him on the team. You know this, sir. That’s why he’s an Avenger.”
Fury let out a long sigh which may well have been a suppressed growl.
The rest of the team began to file in, clearly having been ordered to wait until this was over. Fury shook his head and turned to stare across the Helicarrier’s bridge, waiting for the new arrivals to seat themselves. Natasha and Clint gave Fury a dual look of apprehension – which soon changed to resignation. Bruce looked innocent compared to the fact that he had given Fury data on their blood tests, and Thor seemed just as concerned as he had been ever since they returned to the Tower half a week ago.
“Okay,” Fury finally resumed talking and turned to face them again. It looked like he was giving a eulogy at a funeral, which was sort of insulting. “Under the circumstances I’m sure we’re all aware of, it would be wise to remove Captain America and Iron Man from active duty until said circumstances can be fully investigated and… neutralized. However, HYDRA isn’t doing us any favors right now and I need all of the Avengers on this one.” He gave Steve and Tony a rather sour look.
Tony resisted the urge to stick his tongue at the man, however immature it may be – and Steve slid a hand over to touch his, as if knowing what he was plotting.
He kept his tongue in the confines of his mouth for the duration of the meeting.
Fury scowled at them even harder when he realized they were holding hands under the table.
It was amazing that even after all the decades HYDRA had invested in taking over the world, sometimes out in the open, often in the shadows, they still somehow managed to brainwash their forces into absolutely believing that they had a chance to win.
In the past, it had taken Captain America and his Howling Commandos to take them down, with some additional help from Allied Forces.
What chance did HYDRA think they had again the Avengers?
Tony would have even done the math for them, but clearly HYDRA wasn’t interested in admitting defeat so they had to be given a lesson first-hand.
Fury’s disapproval of their new-found closeness still burned at the back of Tony’s mind – as well as the fact that their teammates, while for the time being not speaking openly against it, thought it was unnatural and wanted to ‘fix’ it. In order to ignore that, Tony weaved in between weapon blasts and returned fire at strategic moments. It felt good to take some of his frustration out on their enemies and he knew Steve was feeling the same.
Normally he wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference; Cap was always enthusiastic to fight HYDRA and smash them into the ground, but today Tony could sense Steve was using it as a way to vent – and to show they were more than capable of being part of the team. If possible, Cap was being even more amazing and strategically correct than usual, making quick work of the HYDRA goons.
Speaking of which…
Tony dodged down, aimed his left arm and fired. The blast met Cap’s shield, bounced off it – and blasted a hole in the ranks of the HYDRA soldiers, finishing the show by carving a hole in their newest tank model that the Hulk hadn’t yet gotten a chance to smash.
It wasn’t over quite yet, though: there were still HYDRA soldiers standing, advancing on Captain America.
Tony moved down, landing on the ground. Steve was already moving towards him, settling both hands on Tony’s left armored shoulder and used that to lift his body into air and kick down two advancing goons. Once Steve was on the ground, shield already flying through the air, bouncing off his next target, Tony spread his arms and shot the HYDRA soldiers in front of him – then bowed down as Cap’s shield, which had just been flung the other way behind his back, came rebounding back and embedded itself deep into some kind of weapon a few more HYDRA goons has been setting up about fifty feet away.
Without needing an order, Tony took flight and shot down four HYDRA men attempting to yank the shield free and get their weapon working. A moment later Steve was there, seizing his shield and dodging to the side to let Tony blow the weapon to pieces. Once that was done, Tony remained crouched down as Steve rolled over his back and met a new group of HYDRA soldiers, never missing a beat.
Tony smiled. Fighting had never been this effortless and while he liked doing things his way, he and Steve had finally found middle ground.
“Wordless communication – unless Tony found a way to completely shut us out from the comm frequency they were using. And even if he did that, their reaction times show no confusion or delay.” Natasha removed her eyes from the screen which was replaying some of the action against HYDRA – or rather, the astonishing, beautiful moment when Tony descended from the sky and fought by Cap’s side.
They were back on the Helicarrier, HYDRA’s plans foiled and most of their men in custody. Fury had demanded an immediate debriefing and Tony wondered if evaluating their performance in the fight was the only reason for that.
“Shouldn’t you be happy we’re finally agreeing on strategy?” Tony asked while the others still watched the event replay from the beginning. Steve had a soft smile on his face, like after a good workout, and Tony felt rather content himself.
“It’s…” Fury started then halted to consider whatever had been on his mind. “While I appreciate the improvement in field compatibility, I still believe there is cause for concern.” His eye fixated itself on Tony and Steve. “Please tell me you’re not in each other’s heads.”
Steve frowned but Tony knew what the Director was going for – and rolled his eyes. “No, I cannot hear his thoughts. I thought we’d established that from day one? I don’t know what he’s thinking.”
“Yet you two fought in perfect synch – which, for the record, you’ve never done before,” Natasha claimed.
“Maybe we’re just improving our technique?”
“In a matter of days?”
“It works,” Steve interrupted their argument. “Isn’t that all that counts?” And just like that his hand was sliding forward, and Tony met it half way, linking their fingers. It calmed him because it calmed Steve, and while all might not be right with the world, it was a step in the right direction.
Fury sighed and looked around the table, this time at Bruce and Thor. “Any suggestions, gentlemen?”
“We have tried to make them see reason,” Thor started. “However, they seem like themselves.”
“If you ignore the cuddling,” Clint pointed out.
Bruce was playing with his glasses, not looking at anyone. Tony stared at him, knowing everyone was waiting for his input. When Bruce finally raised his eyes, he met Tony’s first and foremost. His hands laid the glasses down on the table and he folded his fingers – then gazed down at Steve and Tony’s hands, as if realizing he was unconsciously mimicking their touch, in a way. “If not for the suddenness of the change… would any of us try to stop it?” he asked. The brown eyes returned to Tony’s face. “If this were a natural progression in their relationship, wouldn’t we all be overjoyed? No more fighting and bickering, no more challenging Steve’s plan on the field.”
“I can still challenge it if you’d like that better,” Tony offered.
“Would you?” Bruce raised an eyebrow, appearing quite interested in his reply.
Tony shrugged and briefly glanced at the man beside him. “Sure. It’s not like I have to do what he wants me to – or vice versa. We’re still two separate people, with separate choices.”
“But you haven’t voiced one reluctant statement since the crash,” Bruce reminded.
“That’s because every time there’s a reason for it, we work it out,” Tony shrugged again. Steve’s thumb slid across his skin, in wordless approval. “I can’t explain it, although I wish I could, because it’s… amazing,” Tony confessed. “It’s like… we know what we want, without saying it, and then we find a solution. It takes about five seconds and there’s no need to fight. I swear, if we could bottle it and give it to the world, there would be no more conflict.”
“Sounds like magic,” Clint said and looked at Thor. “Are you sure it’s not a spell of some kind? No one can be that sickeningly content with another person.”
“Not unless they’re bound together,” Thor stated.
“What?” Tony asked.
Thor leaned back in his chair, raising one hand to his face in a deeply thoughtful gesture. “Sometimes, when two beings desire to be one, a bond forms between them. A soulbond, you could call it; their beings melding together to create something greater than love and closeness could ever allow. A deep knowledge between two lives, still existing as separate entities yet bound together, forever.”
“That sounds really creepy,” Clint offered. “Like from some teenage happy-forever crap fantasy.”
Bruce jumped on it, though. “Could that have somehow happened?”
Thor shook his head. “I do not know that humans are capable of it, with their limited life-spans and mental capabilities. And while our teammates may have been on friendly terms, they were not close enough for such a bond to form.”
“Not naturally, anyway,” Bruce mused. “The blood. Is there any way Steve’s blood could have caused it?”
“That is not for me to know,” Thor said solemnly. “However, if some sort of soulbond had taken place between them, then I am truly happy for them and wish it to never be severed.”
“Okay,” Tony interrupted him. “I’m not buying into this soul-thingie –”
“Tony,” Steve cut him off. His touch on Tony’s hand was firm yet gentle, drawing Tony’s attention to him at once. “What if it’s true? What if my blood did this thing? Created a bond between us, so deep that we cannot even comprehend it?”
Tony frowned, thinking about it, trying to analyze every bit of data he had seen on the screens when Bruce pulled blood out of them both. “If that’s what this is,” he said slowly, “what are we going to do?” He was afraid, suddenly; afraid that this feeling of contentment and safety would pass, that he would be tossed back into the dark, bleak life of loneliness and doubts.
Of all the things he had never thought of, it was the doubting that had been the worst. Tony wasn’t capable of trusting another person, much as he wanted to. His mind kept second-guessing every word and action, and as much as he had learned to admire and appreciate his and Steve’s friendship, this new experience of absolute comfort being with him was incredible. Tony wasn’t alone anymore. He didn’t need to be afraid.
Deep down, he knew Steve felt the same; having spent years after being freed from the ice fearing to reconnect with people whom he might lose again, Steve also had found something in Tony.
“Nothing,” Steve answered finally. “We’ll hope it never ends.”
“Hold on,” Bruce jumped in.
“No,” Steve snapped, looking up at the others. “This is the best thing that has ever happened to me, before or after the ice. I never thought Tony and I would be compatible in a lot of ways, but I’m beginning to see that’s not it at all; we just never let it happen. Maybe in the next ten years, or twenty, we might have seen all the time we wasted on arguing and fearing each other – but now we don’t have to. And if you cannot see it… then we’ll just have to keep convincing you of it until you do.”
There was such conviction in his voice that Tony had nothing to add to it; no remarks, no grand gestures. He didn’t even bother to flip off Fury’s shocked expression. Instead he sat there, leaning against Steve’s solid shoulder, as close as the chairs allowed, and felt like he was finally home, in a sense.
He blinked in the darkness of his bedroom. The covers over them kept the shine of the arc reactor to a minimum. “Yeah?” Tony said back, voice low although it was just the two of them in the room and since Steve had just spoken up, they were both awake, clearly.
“You should be asleep,” Steve noted.
Tony just hummed and kept staring at the dark ceiling.
The other man shifted beside him, against him, and drew him closer in his arms. “Tell me,” Steve insisted, not elaborating. His breaths were warm against Tony’s cheek, his neck, and it should have felt like crowding but it didn’t.
“Are you afraid?” Tony asked, frowning. “Of this. I mean, now that it’s…”
“We still don’t know what it really is,” Steve reminded him.
Thor’s observation and theory had been nice and fitting, but there was no proof of anything and Tony knew people were still looking for answers.
“Yes,” Steve went on after a while. “A little afraid.”
“Did you mean it, though?” Tony asked. “Do you fear it will end?”
“Just like you fear I won’t be here tomorrow,” Steve spoke against his skin. Tony closed his eyes at the whisper of lips against his neck. “But I will be here. Even if this were taken away from us, we’ve experienced it and know what’s there.”
“What if we forgot?” Tony asked. “If all this was just some… glamor. A spell. A lie.”
Steve sat up, shifting the sheets as he did and allowing the arc reactor to shine freely. His blue eyes were fierce in the light as he leaned over Tony. “Tell me honestly, is this a lie? Do you feel tricked? Or is this our feelings laid bare, free of all the dirt and deception we tried to hide them behind?”
Tony swallowed hard. “I’m pretty sure I still couldn’t have taken it this far,” he admitted.
A tense smile played on Steve’s lips. “Well, maybe it’s good someone stripped away all the filters, because I’m confident this is exactly what we would have wanted, deep down, had we allowed ourselves to be these two people.”
Tony guessed that was possible. If everything was removed and the slate wiped clean… of course he would choose Steve. They had history, they had things in common – and they had committed their lives to something most people wouldn’t choose.
With that thought clear in his mind, he smiled and moved his arms up from his sides, sliding his hands over the wide, firm chest. They hadn’t done much of this before, because it hadn’t felt right; a line had been drawn at touches and closeness, but a momentum was pulling them closer and Steve leaned down to kiss him, keeping his weight off Tony’s chest but pushing down everywhere else, close and comforting.
The kiss dragged out and turned into another; a brief drag of lips, the lick of a tongue but nothing further. Tony might have called it ‘sweet’ and ‘innocent’, compared to what he was used to, but it felt right. Steve’s lips were soft and firm, like the rest of him, strong yet careful. Tony, on the other hand, was the barely controlled flame, flickering in and out uncertainly, aware of his own potential but not knowing how exactly to apply it without burning up.
Steve rolled back to the side but they stayed close, exchanging kisses and touching each other’s skins like they were used to doing. Tony’s touches were restless and sought out new places and adventures while Steve’s were sensual and methodical, learning patterns and using the knowledge he had to melt Tony into the sheets.
“We’ve been afraid long enough,” Steve finally whispered against his cheek. “No more.”
It may have been considered a terrible cliché how wholeheartedly Tony agreed, and he showed it by pressing closer to the warm body against his. He hoped that if whatever had created the connection ever faded, they wouldn’t forget how they felt at this moment; because if they remembered… then it would be okay, as long as they lived.
Neither of them would have to be alone.
Part 1: Crash