Interim (page 2)
A half hour went by with both of them scowling at the horizon, then finally Tony sighed. “Okay, this is crap,” he decided.
“Since this is my fault, probably, I’ll help you finish your… whatever it is you haven’t finished,” he offered.
“And then what?”
“You move on and I stay here,” Tony shrugged.
“Like this?” Steve asked.
Tony shrugged again. “Maybe I’ll go to Vegas,” he mused, then grinned. “I could haunt a slot machine. Imagine that; The Haunted Casino. They would make a TV show about it, for sure.”
“About a haunted slot machine?” Steve repeated, but a small smile tugged his lips.
“You make it sound much worse than it actually is,” Tony made a playful shove at him. “Or,” he ventured, planning his future as a ghost, “I could go and haunt Rhodey’s suit. That would show him. I could…” He halted altogether – talking, walking, even breathing, which was funny because he probably didn’t need to breathe as a ghost. Maybe he was only doing it because he had just been alive, a few hours ago. Maybe that was why he felt numb suddenly, like the blood had been drained from him and he would never feel alive again. “I can never talk to Rhodey again,” he said out loud. “I’ll never be able to finish that suit upgrade I wanted to give him. Well, maybe J.A.R.V.I.S. can finish it, with a little help.”
It was no consolation. The finality of this thing was starting to sink in, and he felt heavy and depressed. Was this why all ghosts in showbiz were such douches? “Is this what it feels like?” he asked Steve. “Losing everything?”
“I’m not sure,” Steve admitted. “I’m not feeling anything yet – now, I mean. But it felt pretty bad the first time around.”
Tony had never been able to really relate to Steve’s pain of losing his entire world and the people in it. Most people tried and came up with half-assed jokes to cheer him up, but none of them could really capture the essence of Steve’s loss. Right now, though, Tony had a pretty good idea that this was close enough: he would never be able to talk to his friends; he could never really go home, touch his things, work on the stuff that he had left half-finished. No one would ever know he was still there while the others moved on.
He desperately tried to think of something else, to direct his thoughts away from the horror of being dead, now that it was finally hitting home, and he looked at Steve who was standing there, looking awfully patient. “Tell me something,” Tony started.
“What?” Steve jumped at the chance to change the subject – or to cheer him up, Tony didn’t know which.
“When we were running away from the blast, you stayed behind me. You could have reached the fence at least twice as fast if you had wanted to – I’ve seen you run and do your thing,” he referred to the super-soldier serum. “Why’d you hang back? Was it some residual guilt about you not being able to reach Bucky in time? That if we went down, we would do so together?”
“I tried to protect us from the blast with my shield,” Steve explained, but his voice was too tight for it to be completely true. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“But I do,” Tony insisted.
“Maybe you should have tried running faster,” Steve snapped, and Tony fell silent. Essentially, he had blown them up, so he didn’t need to be an ass to Steve.
“Sorry,” he murmured finally. “You must be pissed that you’re stuck here with me, of all people.”
“I’m glad, actually,” Steve replied.
“Yeah?” Tony let out a wild, nervous laugh. “You’ll regret saying that in an hour.”
“I can always start walking that way if I don’t want to hear your voice anymore,” Steve threatened, pointing away from the road, at the dead desert.
“It will get really cold at night.”
“We’re dead; it won’t matter whether it’s freezing or blazing hot.”
“Well, you just went and ruined my suggestion to cuddle at night for warmth,” Tony joked – but it wasn’t a complete joke, of course; they were the only people they could touch, far as they knew, for the rest of their existence. If that was the case, Tony didn’t want to be in a constant argument with Steve. He had learned, a long time ago, that he didn’t want to be lonely, and right now he could hardly find someone else to fill that void.
Steve gave him an amused look. “So, if you’re going to haunt War Machine,” he said, returning to the subject of possessing items, “maybe I’ll haunt Fury’s eye-patch.”
It didn’t make any sense, and maybe that was why it made Tony laugh abruptly. “Why on Earth would you do that?” he had to ask.
Steve gave him one of those shrugs that made women go a little weak in the knees. Right now, Tony wasn’t buying the act. “Might be fun,” he replied.
“What you should do is go and possess a punching bag. Give people a beating when they’re trying to beat you up,” Tony offered instead. “It would be the new, modern version of The Sword in the Stone.”
“To defeat the evil punching bag?” Steve raised an eyebrow. “How about people?” he asked next. “Can you haunt them?”
“It’s not advisable; they’ll just send for a clergyman to exorcise you, and besides, making people crawl on the walls and twist their heads around isn’t attractive to anyone,” Tony cringed.
Steve chuckled and they went on walking for a few minutes in silence – but this time it was a companionable one.
“Why haven’t we ever done this before?” Tony asked at length.
“Talked about possessing inanimate objects?” Steve smiled.
“I don’t mean angry words and all that… bullshit.”
“I’m not sure this constitutes as actual talking,” Steve argued.
“It does, on a… weirdly emotional level,” Tony countered. “You said you weren’t unhappy to be stuck with me.”
The blond nodded. “I did.”
“Did you actually mean it?”
Steve gave him a look. “I’m not going to stroke your ego even in death.”
“It’s not about my ego,” Tony insisted. “It’s about… me. That you would choose me, over a lot of people.”
“That isn’t about your ego?” Steve smiled, clearly amused now.
“No!” Tony tried to shove him again, as if making him stumble off the road was going to make a difference. “It’s about feeling special, sort of.”
“Alright,” Steve finally stopped teasing. “Sort of, I’m happy it’s you, of all the people I know.”
“All the people?”
“All the people,” Steve repeated.
“Even Bucky or Peggy?” Tony knew he was pushing it, but they were dead so what was Steve going to do, punch him?
Steve was silent for a bit, looking ahead, concentrating on walking. “What do you want me to say?” he finally asked.
“I have no idea,” Tony admitted. “We’re stuck in this until we find a way to send you forward, so I guess it’s good to know I’m not your least favorite person.”
“You have never been my least favorite person,” Steve told him.
“Not even when we met?”
“Not even then. I fought a lot of bad people in the war – even before the war. Even when I thought you were an egoistical, selfish, unreliable man, I knew you hadn’t become a national hero just because you managed to build a suit of armor that flies.”
Tony felt like commenting on that statement, but he didn’t feel an overwhelming need for teasing or a harsh retort. Steve had just admitted something that was important to Tony, and he soaked in it for a bit. Better late than never…
“Are you disappointed you’re stuck here with me?” Steve turned the question back at him.
“No,” Tony replied. “I just wish we could have done this sooner…”
Tony gave him a look. “Now you’re being an ass on purpose,” he declared.
“Maybe,” Steve admitted, and appeared a bit sadder for a second. “I’m not sure I like being dead.”
“Welcome to the club.”
“Do you think there are others?”
“Ghosts? Maybe. Already ready to ditch me?” Tony supposed that if the two of them had ended up like this, there was a fair chance there were others, too. He wasn’t sure he liked that – especially if he had to share Steve with them.
“I didn’t mean it like that,” Steve hastened to tell him.
“Well… good,” Tony said, because he wasn’t sure what else to say.
“Tony,” Steve said suddenly and stopped in the middle of the road. “Did you want to cuddle at night?”
“What?” Tony blinked, totally thrown aback by the question.
“You said –”
“Maybe.” Because it hadn’t been, not for the longest time. Perhaps ‘cuddling at night’ wouldn’t have been his first choice, because Tony rarely slept at night and had some issues with people being near him when he wasn’t completely alert – mostly because of the arc reactor. In theory, however… “Yes,” he finally amended his answer. “Definitely yes.”
Steve nodded slowly. “Maybe we could do that, in case we can still get cold,” he reasoned.
“Are you coming onto me?” Tony asked lightly, although he was pleased.
“If I am, it’s because you started it,” Steve noted boldly.
“Maybe I did…” Tony was starting to think he had waited way too long to show his attraction towards Steve. “I take it you don’t have a problem with it?”
Steve gave him an almost bashful smile, which was still way brighter than the sun that was slowly sinking into the horizon. “No,” he answered. “I don’t have a problem with flirting – or what comes after.”
Tony blinked and narrowed his eyes, just a little. “I’m beginning to wonder if any of this is actually real.”
Steve gave him an odd look. “You’ve never noticed? The long looks? Pretty much everyone else has told me, at one point or another, to simply ask you out. Some of them started before you and Pepper broke up. I thought it was… insensitive, and you weren’t interested. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, and as much as I may have enjoyed having a few drinks with you, pretending it was a date, I didn’t want to watch you hit on other people.”
“Huh.” Tony still wasn’t certain whether he was hallucinating all of this or not. Then again, Steve was real – too real – to be something torn from his sub-consciousness. “I’m pretty sure I would have known if I were on a date with Captain America.”
“Maybe that’s the problem,” Steve gave him another one of those sad smiles. “It’s not Captain America who wanted the date, but Steve Rogers.”
“Trust me, they’re one and the same,” Tony scoffed. “Let me get this straight: we’re both dead and confessing our long-buried feelings for each other?”
“I think so,” Steve agreed.
“Why is this my life?” Tony asked, rhetorically. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer.
“Well,” Steve started as he brought one of his hands up to Tony’s bare arm, “there’s something good about this situation.”
“What?” Tony asked.
“Even if we can’t touch anything else, we can still touch each other.”
Ah. “Your logic is sound, Cap,” Tony grinned brightly. “Want to test it, just in case?”
And before Steve offered him an answer in words – words were overrated, anyway – those large hands of his cupped Tony’s face and he felt the other man’s lips on his own. No kiss had ever been so satisfying. Maybe it was the fact that they could touch each other, but nothing else – it would have been too cruel if that hadn’t been the case – or that they were dead and this was their last chance to do any of this.
Steve pulled back after a while, just a little; Tony could still feel Steve’s lips touching his. “I felt that,” Steve murmured.
“Me, too,” Tony replied, and he wasn’t necessarily talking about his lips. Other parts of him were definitely taking notice.
Steve leaned back into the kiss and they kept making out in the middle of a road in the Nevada desert. It wasn’t what Tony had expected it to be; Steve moved like he didn’t have a whole lot of practice, but he was patient, repeating something until he got it right, and Tony was glad to give him a thorough example of anything and everything two people could do with their mouths. Some things made them break apart and laugh, just a bit, and then delve back into it. Also, at some point, Steve drew Tony deeper into his arms and he hadn’t felt so safe in a long time.
There was definitely going to be cuddling at night, cold or not.
Eventually they drew apart and mutually decided to resume walking. They didn’t have much daylight left and they were not going to reach any kind of shelter that night. It was getting cooler, but much like Steve had predicted, it wasn’t bothering them. Then again, maybe Steve’s hand holding Tony’s in a gentle yet firm hold had something to do with it.
As they walked, Tony resumed his consideration of their situation. It didn’t seem nearly as hopeless as in the beginning, now that he and Steve had aired out years’ worth of sexual frustration. It was still a sadly amusing thought that they had circled each other for such a long time, never making the final move. Sure, their friendship had grown firmer, over time, and perhaps they had both imagined it would be enough.
Now they only had each other, and when they figured out the other aspects of their ghostly new lives… perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad.
Well, as long as they stayed together: Tony recalled with terrifying clarity his first assumption that they were stuck in Limbo because there was unfinished crap they had to deal with. What if they figured out Steve’s problem? What if they managed to solve it? That would leave Tony to wander the Earth, alone, in this spirit state.
Perhaps there was no moving on from this, no unfinished, troubling task to finish. Or, maybe Steve would choose to stay with Tony, even if they found it.
Then again, who would want to stay like this, in the middle of a journey, never going home? Tony knew he had no right to ask Steve to stay if he was offered a chance to move on. The right thing to do was to try and get Steve on his last journey – mostly because it was Tony’s fault they were dead in the first place.
“What are you thinking about?” Steve asked. Tony hadn’t noticed, but his hand was grasping Steve’s a bit too tightly.
“The obvious,” Tony replied. “Death.”
“Don’t think about it,” Steve ordered.
“It’s pretty hard not to.”
“It’s not so bad,” the blond shrugged, stopped and looked at him. “We’re in this together.”
“But for how long?” Tony asked with a frown.
“What do you mean?” Steve replied with a frown of his own.
“Well, this is just a mid-way stop. There’s supposed to be something after this – otherwise it would be pretty crowded here,” Tony motioned at the desert with his hand. “Well, maybe not here, exactly, but you know what I mean.”
“I’m still going to help you, to find whatever it is that’s holding you back,” Tony promised.
“But what about you? Where will you go?”
“Nowhere, hopefully,” Tony cringed. “Like I said, I prefer this to H–”
“You’re not going to Hell,” Steve told him and looked ready to grab him and shake him until Tony believed it. “You’re a good person.”
“Who’s done a lot of bad things.”
“You think I haven’t?”
Tony rolled his eyes and pulled away, resuming walking. “Don’t make this about you! Whatever you did, it was for the common good. I don’t even believe in this crap. The last time I prayed, I…” He tried to remember. Had it been with his parents at church? Most likely not. Besides, Howard Stark hadn’t been the most devout of men; he believed in science. They had that much in common. Tony may have prayed in Afghanistan, but not to any God with a name. Just, praying in general; to make the pain end, to let him die, to allow him to survive the ordeal, depending on the day. “I’m definitely going to Hell,” he muttered.
Steve gave a big sigh behind him and followed him down the sandy road. “Fine, you’re a horrible person and you have no right going to Heaven. We’re not there yet, though. We’re here, together, just the two of us.”
“Are you…” Tony stopped and whirled around, grinning. “Oh, Captain Rogers! Are you suggesting we get naked right here and endanger your safe passage to Heaven?”
Steve flushed, just a little. “I didn’t say that…”
Tony wiped the smile from his face. “I’m just teasing. Maybe.” He wouldn’t object to getting naked with Steve. In fact, they should make sure they were able to take off their clothes, and check that everything functioned properly. That would remove all kinds of nasty surprises later on.
“You don’t need to tease,” Steve informed him, stepping closer. He was standing straight, shoulders back, like he was preparing for inspection. “I’m not averse to the idea of… having sex,” he finished.
Tony felt like he had just swallowed half the desert. “Okay,” he said, just to say something and make sure he still had his voice. “I’m… on board with that idea, but… Wait!” Something dawned on him.
“What?” Steve asked, alarmed, probably afraid Tony had had another epiphany about their new state of being.
“Have you done it before?” Tony asked quickly.
This time Steve definitely flushed in the face. “I know the basics; I’m not a…”
“But have you done it, with someone?” Tony pressed.
“Does it matter?” Steve asked, eyes narrowing. He was clearly going on the defensive. “If you’re going to make another stupid Captain Purity joke, let me tell you, I’m done with those.”
“No, it’s not that, I swear,” Tony promised him. “It’s just… you’re a virgin, right?”
Steve let out a sigh, as if he had just disappointed himself and Tony both. “Yes.”
“Maybe that’s it,” Tony told him, excited. “Maybe that’s what you need to do, to move on.”
Steve raised one eyebrow doubtingly. “You think I need to have sex in order to gain access to Heaven?”
“It makes sense,” Tony noted.
“No, it doesn’t, Tony. We’re not… I’m pretty sure the Bible suggests people should be married before having relations, and there’re also many hints that two men are not the right combination for eternal bliss in the Lord’s garden.” Steve was starting to sound very exasperated.
“But that’s your personal hang-up; it has nothing to do with what the Bible says,” Tony dismissed his argument.
“So, what if that’s it?” Steve said, clearly humoring Tony. “In that case we can never have sex.”
“What do you mean, we can’t?” That was the total opposite of what Tony was planning.
“If that’s what’s holding me back,” Steve said slowly, patiently, as if Tony were a half-wit – which was kind of insulting, really, “then you’ll be left all alone to haunt slot machines in Vegas.”
When Steve put it like that, Tony vividly recalled the downside of helping Steve get into Heaven. He mulled over it again but always came to the same conclusion: “If that’s what you want, I would still help you,” he told the other man.
Steve’s expression softened, just a little. “Even if you would be left alone, afterwards?”
“Even then,” Tony confirmed.
“Just because you got us into this mess doesn’t mean you owe me that.”
“Yeah, it does, and besides, you deserve it.”
“Heaven? Without you?”
“Uh…” There was a slight accusation in Steve’s words, as if Tony were wounding him somehow. “I’m sure you’ll make new friends there,” he offered.
“None of them will be you.”
“That’s not fair,” Tony complained. “Just because we’ve started to unwind years’ worth of UST doesn’t mean we’re inseparable, or that you can’t live without me. Or, you know…” ‘Live’ was probably the wrong word to use, but Tony wasn’t sure what the afterlife was like, to those deserving the best of the best.
“Maybe I don’t want to move on without you,” Steve said stubbornly and crossed his arms over his chest. Tony could envision him as that small, frail boy of a man, wearing that same expression.
“Well, that’s… That means we’re both stuck,” Tony stated.
“Fine,” said Steve, rather snidely.
“Fine,” repeated Tony, just for the hell of it.
They stared daggers at each other; old habits died hard.
Eventually, though, Tony had to fold: “Are we really going to pick a fight over this?” he asked.
“If you insist.”
“Well, that’s preferable,” Steve agreed, unfolding his arms. “I don’t want to fight about it either, so can we just agree not to talk about me leaving you behind?”
“For the time being,” Tony nodded. They needed to talk about it at some point, though.
Once again, they began walking. The sky was growing darker by the minute. The wind was picking up. They eventually encountered a group of large boulders half a mile off the road and proceeded to it, settling down for the night. Maybe it was another old habit, seeking shelter; they couldn’t touch anything, so they might as well have curled up on the road and have cars run them over if any happened to pass by. Not that they had seen a single vehicle during their trek away from the destroyed facility.
Steve settled down first, in a shallow dent in the earth he had dug: they phased through the boulders, which was very annoying, so they were left with the minimal shelter of the rocks while sleeping on the ground.
“Do you think we even need rest?” Tony had been too preoccupied by everything else to actually notice whether he was tired or not from their long walk. Also, he wasn’t hungry or thirsty, so he supposed they could just keep walking indefinitely. Perhaps they would, once they learned rest had become obsolete.
“Just lie down,” Steve ordered, and Tony did, sliding down the right side of the other man and allowing himself to be pulled into the warm embrace of Steve’s body.
They lay there, listening to the wind and the sounds of the desert. For something so dry and lifeless, there sure seemed to be a lot going on at night, but none of the night-critters bothered them. What would they care about a couple of lost ghosts, anyway?
Steve’s fingers traced lazy patterns on Tony’s hip. Tony shifted his head against the man’s shoulder and then peered up at him. He could make out the silhouette of his face and arched up to kiss the line of his jaw. He felt Steve’s lips draw into a smile and soon felt their soft, wet pressure against his own.
Their breaths were warm, making it easy to pretend nothing at all was wrong and they had just decided to camp in the dirt for the hell of it. Steve’s grip was firm, then hesitated before appearing again, as if he weren’t sure where to apply pressure or how much. He had always been careful with Tony’s chest area, ever since he saw the arc reactor embedded in his flesh for the first time; it was the kind of subtle consideration Tony appreciated, and which made him trust a person a bit more.
Tony shifted and moved his right leg over Steve’s body, still lying against him but getting himself fractionally closer. Steve’s left hand wandered up, briefly caressing Tony’s side before aiming higher, and for a bit Tony wasn’t sure what he was planning to do with it. When fingers less calloused than his own settled against the edge of his tank top, Tony looked down. Steve’s fingers seemed to decide that was a cue to move on, and they moved the cloth down, exposing the arc reactor to the night air.
It wasn’t the coolness that he couldn’t feel that made his skin rise in goose bumps; it was the sensation of Steve’s fingers on his scarred flesh, sensitive and usually awakening an old fear in him, but this time it was just sensation, caused by a man he trusted, admired, and possibly loved a little.
“It’s comforting,” Steve noted, “that it’s still there; that it still shines.” His fingers traced a bit further across the shining device. Tony couldn’t even feel the pressure.
Tony supposed it was comforting for them both: he still had nightmares about waking up with his chest dark, and then the slow, agonizing death that followed before he could relocate the arc reactor.
He let Steve explore, but the blond wasn’t too adventurous, withdrawing his fingers soon after and allowing the tank top to settle back into its original place. Tony felt a loss at the lack of contact, but then Steve’s fingers moved down again, to his side, brushing at another edge of the cloth closer to his armpit and delved down towards the center of his chest, purposefully caressing Tony’s right nipple.
A small sound left Tony’s throat.
Steve looked up at his face. “Good?”
“I’ll let you know if it’s bad,” Tony told him, wanting to press closer and let Steve touch everything he wanted, but instead he drew backwards. “We shouldn’t… not unless you think you’re ready for the plunge into the unknown.”
Steve’s hand halted and then drew away from his body. “I don’t think fooling around is going to make me any less of a virgin.”
He was so adorable, Tony had to admit. Precious and painfully honest, even in this. “Problem is, I won’t be able to stop. Or willing. Definitely not willing.”
Steve gave him an amused smile, relaxing a little. “Maybe you should work on your self-control, then?”
“Who made you boss?” Tony deflected the suggestion.
“One of us needs to be in control, and I don’t think it should be you.”
“We should put that to a vote.”
“I would still win.”
“Possibly,” Tony grinned, leaning close again and giving Steve a dirty kiss with a lot of tongue. “That’s just because I like big hunky blonds bossing me around in bed.” Steve grinned against his mouth and drew Tony into another kiss, hand firm in his hair. His other hand settled on Tony’s hip and pulled him close, and they settled into a rather frantic rhythm of tangling tongues that at some point began to include the grinding of hips.
Not wanting to see whether he could gain friction burns even as a ghost, Tony eventually lifted his hips. Steve groaned beneath him, trying to pull him back, but Tony slid his hand down and desperately yanked down his pants and underwear. Steve’s hand latched onto his bare skin, fingers digging into the flesh of his ass, and Tony did some groaning of his own before twisting his hand around and proceeding to free Steve of his own pants and underwear. Steve caught on pretty quick and lifted his hips, even with Tony’s weight on top of him, allowing the older man to release the most important bits of skin.
Not wanting to miss this moment, Tony looked down. In the dark, the view was very shadowy between their bodies, but he saw a dim silhouette of their cocks and felt them press together with every breath and minute shift.
“Stop looking,” Steve ordered, voice a bit strained. To emphasize his desire, he rolled his hips up and Tony closed his eyes, grinding down against him desperately. It was so damn good. If there was desert sand on their skins, he didn’t care. Steve’s fingers were going to leave marks on his lower back and ass cheek, but he didn’t care about that, either. He wanted to put a hand between them, to help things along, but Steve’s grinding movements would probably break those fingers, so he just thrust back down against him, riding the friction.
Eventually, though, it wasn’t enough.
“Stop,” Tony gasped. “I need to… I need a hand. I mean… Shit, just, don’t grind up for a bit, okay?” he asked, a little less coherent than he could have hoped for, but Steve’s eyes glinted up at him in the muted light of the arc reactor, his lips open, his breath audible in the silence around them.
Tony placed his hand between them, fumbling a little to find the perfect angle to stroke their dicks. He could almost count Steve’s pulse against his, which was insane because they were dead. He didn’t care.
Steve didn’t seem to care either: once he got the idea of what Tony wanted to do, he slid his own hand down to accompany Tony’s, and his larger grip definitely did the trick. The fingers pressed down on Tony’s, making the hold almost painfully tight, and Tony came so hard he swore he saw stars. It tingled for a moment, everywhere, until he fell down from his high and sat back, straddling Steve’s thighs.
Both of them kept still for a moment. Even in the weak light, it was easy to see that both their hands were a mess; Steve had come pretty close on his heels, and to his eternal regret Tony had completely missed it. The faint smell of sex was in the air, and Tony used his free hand to tug his tank top up to give them some more light. Their hands were definitely a mess, as were their lower stomachs and upper thighs. Semen, sweat and pre-cum didn’t make for an attractive mess when you had no bathroom nearby. Not even a damn towel.
“Uh,” Tony hesitated for a bit, feeling sticky. It would all start to cool momentarily and then it would be even more of a mess. He looked down at himself, debating whether he could spare an article of clothing, but neither Steve nor Tony was wearing extra anything. Maybe their socks? The idea made him shiver a little.
“I can tear off a part of my shirt or pant leg,” Steve volunteered, craning his neck to look down at the mess.
As attractive as the idea of slowly divesting Steve of his clothing in order to clean them up was, Tony knew it was a temporary measure at best. After all, he didn’t see either of them getting any new clothes. “I don’t think that’s gonna cut it for long,” Tony noted and looked at their surroundings. It was such irony that even if they had proceeded to fuck in the middle of a linen shop, they wouldn’t be able to use any of the materials available. “Okay,” Tony finally steeled himself before bringing his stained hand to his mouth, proceeding to lick it clean.
Steve’s brow furrowed. It wasn’t disgusting, per se, but it seemed he wasn’t completely on board with the idea.
“Got any better ideas that don’t include you getting naked in the end?” Tony asked once he was mostly done, then reached down for Steve’s hand and proceeded to lick it clean since the other man clearly wasn’t about to do it himself.
Steve gave a full-body shudder. “Tony…”
“Please, it isn’t even that gross,” Tony told him, sucking on Steve’s thumb for emphasis. He was rewarded by another shudder.
Now, to the harder part – or, not harder anymore, he joked to himself and leaned down over Steve’s crotch and drew a long line through the wet mess with his tongue. He lapped and sucked around, trying for a slightly more erotic effect to take Steve’s mind off the real purpose of this exercise.
When he looked up, Steve had leaned back and his chest was heaving a bit. And, just like that, Tony’s tongue darted out to clean his cock and he noted, for the first time, that Steve was getting hard. How he had missed it, he wasn’t sure, but he could feel the pulse beneath his tongue and the slight shivering of Steve’s thighs against him was rather delectable.
“I’m sorry,” Steve murmured through his fingers which he had spread to cover his face. “I didn’t mean to, but…”
Tony declined to answer verbally. Instead, he snaked his tongue along the hardening flesh and then wrapped his lips around the tip, figuring that he might as well continue cleaning up until Steve got over the excitement of it. Sadly, death hadn’t worked any kind of magic on Tony’s endurance, so his cock remained soft between his thighs. ‘Traitor’, Tony felt like hissing at it, but he proceeded to blow Steve instead, moving his mouth up and down, cheeks hollowing as he sucked in perfect precision with the movements of his tongue.
Steve’s breaths had turned into faint moans of pleasure.
“No one’s going to hear you,” Tony told him as he pulled off for a bit. He didn’t even need to hold the man’s cock up as he licked around it again, Steve was so hard. It was a bit unfair, but then, pinnacle of human perfection and all…
“That’s… not helping,” Steve ground out, raising his head a little to look down at Tony thoughtfully sucking at his shaft, just beneath the crown.
“What would help, then?” Tony asked playfully. The arc reactor threw weird shadows over everything, but he was fairly certain Steve’s cheeks were flushed.
“Put your mouth on my cock,” Steve told him. His eyes were glinting, as if he were imagining it as he said it. Being the artistic type, he probably was. Damn, that was hot.
“It already is,” Tony said as he kissed his way down the shaft, then up, making sure he didn’t miss a spot.
“In your mouth,” Steve corrected himself. “Please, Tony. I want to feel it again…”
“You needn’t beg,” Tony informed him, but instead of teasing him further, Tony adjusted his position – mostly the angle of his throat, and dove down, taking Steve deeper and deeper with measured movements of his head. Swallowing around him was hard at first, almost prompting a rather unwanted physical reaction, but eventually Tony eased through it and felt like giving himself thumbs up when he had all of Steve’s length down his throat.
Steve made a sound like a dying animal and the slight shift of his body shoved him more firmly against Tony’s face, which forced him to back off quickly or suffer the consequences. Tony coughed once his mouth was free.
“Sorry,” Steve whispered.
Tony looked up at him, licking his lips. “Too much?”
“Takes some getting used to,” Steve admitted. “It was good, though.”
“How about you show me what you like?” Tony offered.
Steve frowned, and his eyes flickered down to Tony’s crotch. “Do you want me to –?”
“Oh, no,” Tony gave him an easy smile. “That fellow isn’t joining the game again tonight. He likes to watch, though.”
“That’s…” Steve’s nose twitched, just a little, but he didn’t finish.
Tony gave him a roguish smile, to make him relax. “Just sit up, touch my head, and guide me through it. You won’t hurt me; I’ll let you know it if’s uncomfortable for me,” he added, settling one hand on Steve’s bare thigh and pressed his fingernails into the skin for emphasis.
Slowly, Steve nodded, then sat up and let his hands hover. Tony leaned forward again, taking the head of his cock in his mouth, prompting Steve to follow. Finally, he felt the other man’s hands settle around his skull, fingers gently digging in, caressing his hair. For a bit it felt like Steve would give him a head massage instead, but finally he pushed a little and proceeded to take Tony’s mouth for a test drive.
As amusing as that sounded, Tony took it as an opportunity to learn: Steve liked special attention attended to the head of his cock, but also enjoyed Tony taking him a bit deeper. Together they discovered a spot, just on the underside of the crown, that almost sent Steve hurling into another orgasm when Tony sucked on it after Steve had pulled his mouth off his cock to guide him around the shaft. Also, Steve liked it rough on his balls, and came almost completely undone when Tony snaked his tongue beneath them and laved at his perineum. However, knowing he would just have to clean up the mess, Tony headed back to the head of Steve’s cock and proceeded with old-fashioned, basic tricks to bring him off.
Steve didn’t taste like apple pie or America, but it was better while warm, Tony decided. He finished his cleaning duties, then sat back with an obscene smack of his lips which made Steve shove at him playfully.
“What about you?” Steve raised an eyebrow.
Sure enough, Tony’s own crotch was still in need of a little cleaning. His own tongue wouldn’t reach that far, obviously – not with all the yoga lessons Bruce had tried to influence him with – and it forced him to shrug. “Guess I’ll just…”
And just like that Steve moved over Tony, like a snake ready to swallow a rabbit, and descended his mouth onto Tony’s skin.
It was to Tony’s great regret that he wasn’t twenty anymore, yet that didn’t diminish the pleasant sensation of Steve’s mouth lovingly cleaning him up, even though it couldn’t have tasted all that fantastic at this point.
“We need to come up with a better game plan, next time,” Tony decided once both of them fixed their clothing back in place and curled up in their uncomfortable resting place.
“Your second option worked pretty well,” Steve offered his opinion.
Tony glanced up at him, then failed to keep himself in line and inched up for another kiss. As they settled down, apparently planning on sleeping, Tony guessed they would cross the issue of Steve’s virginal state at a later date. He was in no hurry to change what they had now – or lose it completely.
He closed his eyes and pretended to be able to sleep, felt Steve’s arms tighten around him fractionally, and listened to the sounds of the desert night they had drowned out for a while.
A few hours later both of them were still awake, pretending to sleep, although an occasional shift of Steve’s hand told Tony that the super-soldier wasn’t having any luck at catching shut-eye. Maybe sleep just didn’t happen when you were dead.
Tony opened his eyes, watched the darkness, then closed them again, debating on counting sheep, or recounting the periodic table – and then suddenly it felt like someone had stuck a live wire in his body and switched on the power, his entire form jerking, a cry escaping his throat.
He sat up straight, panting, sweat covering his skin in an uncomfortable rush. Lights momentarily blinded his eyes and he looked around, unfocused, not understanding what was happening.
The desert was gone. He was no longer curled up against Steve’s side but sitting on a hard, padded bed in what looked like his own lab in New York City. A figure moved beside him and his head jerked to the side to see who it was, his eyes landing on Bruce Banner.
“Hi,” the scientist gave him a bland smile. “How are you feeling?”
“What?” Tony asked, blinking. Bruce was looking at him – talking to him – and then reached over to shine a bright light in his eyes, making them water a little. “What the hell?” Tony repeated his question. It felt like he had fallen down from space all over again, which was giving him some difficulty breathing. “What…”
“You were in an explosion,” Bruce explained. “In Nevada, at a SI facility. Do you remember?”
Tony gave him a rigid nod.
“You were subjected to some unknown event that… well, for lack of a better term, you’ve been in a coma of sorts for the past fourteen hours – and occasionally brain-dead. We think it may have been caused by the tech housed in the facility. Do you know what day it is?”
Tony didn’t care what day it was, looking around instead. His eyes landed on Clint Barton, who stood at the foot of the bed with his arms crossed over his chest.
“Hi,” the archer said, then looked at Bruce. “Can you zap Cap next?”
Bruce moved around Tony’s bed and his eyes followed Bruce until he found Steve’s unmoving body on a bed next to his. Bruce arranged wires, then placed a pair of wand-like paddles on both of Steve’s temples – and zapped him.
Steve shot up straight as a ramrod, just like Tony had, eyes wide, senses disoriented. It took him a little less to acclimate to the change, and he found Tony a few seconds later. “What…?”
“Welcome back,” Bruce greeted and shut down the machines he had just used.
“Where are we?” Steve asked, looking back and forth between the three men.
“New York, Avengers Tower,” Clint informed him. “About time you woke up from your beauty sleep.”
“Sleep?” Steve frowned.
“Coma,” Bruce corrected. “We were not certain whether we would wake you up – or if there would be significant damage to the brain.” He looked at Tony. “How are you feeling?” he asked again.
Tony’s hands rose to his head. “Is something wrong with my brain?”
“It would seem all brain functions are within normal parameters,” J.A.R.V.I.S.’s voice answered him. “Congratulations, Dr. Banner. Also, welcome back, sir, Captain Rogers; we were very concerned.”
Bruce just nodded along and turned to look at a screen next to him. “Everything looks okay. We got away with a major scare.”
Tony was still clutching his skull, as if someone might harm his brain if he didn’t. “What happened?” he asked.
“J.A.R.V.I.S. alerted us to the situation you two went to investigate,” Clint recounted, giving them a hard look. “Really smart, guys. When we got on location, the place had been blown up and you were just lying there, dead to the world.”
Steve gave Tony a look. It was relieved instead of accusing. “So, we weren’t dead?” he asked to confirm.
“No,” Bruce said. “Well, technically, brain death is…” He looked at Tony and veered off, probably to not keep implying that Tony’s genius might have suffered from the experience. “Something in the blast clearly affected you, and it took me a while to sort it out. We brought you back here and some extensive tests later, here we are.”
“Dr. Banner is being very modest,” J.A.R.V.I.S. added.
“Your AI implied that the tech in the facility may have caused the problem,” Clint noted. “You can thank that deduction for being awake.”
“Good boy, J.A.R.V.I.S.,” Tony mumbled, slowly lowering his hands. “No lingering effects?”
“We’ll have you on watch for the next 24 hours at least,” Bruce told him. “Taking in the equipment in the Tower, we can arrange it so that you can be in your own rooms. That sound good?”
“Yeah,” Tony replied. He felt a little bummed, then poked his fingers against the bed, to make sure his hand didn’t go through it.
“So, we weren’t really dead,” Steve murmured.
“Give it a rest, Doc,” Clint snapped. “They’re back and right as rain. Right?” He gave both his teammates a sharp look.
“We’ll know after they’ve been awake a bit longer,” Bruce promised.
“Can we get up?” Steve asked.
Bruce nodded. “I’ll get you some clean clothes, then you can shower and get settled.”
Tony looked down. They were still dressed in the clothing they had been wearing at the facility – and during the period of time they thought they were dead.
Both Bruce and Clint left the room, and Steve turned on his bed to look at Tony as he allowed his legs to dangle off the side. “Limbo, huh?” he asked,
“How could I have known?” Tony defended himself.
Steve looked at him steadily for a moment, face blank.
Tony feared, for those long seconds, that the experience he had assumed was death had somehow distorted reality and none of it was real now that they were back.
Finally Steve glanced at the door, then slowly moved to stand up, shifting this way and that, testing his body. He seemed satisfied and looked at Tony again. “You didn’t blow us up after all.”
“I kind of did,” Tony replied, although it would have been better to just agree while he still had an out of the situation.
“But we’re okay.”
“Yeah…” How ‘okay’ was okay, Tony wasn’t sure; were they back to being friends? Had Steve experienced the same things that he had?
Steve nodded, as if agreeing to some inner monologue in his head. “Your room or mine?” he asked then, looking Tony in the eye, holding his gaze like a tractor beam. Tony blinked. Steve offered him a downright filthy grin. “We’re yet to fully tackle the issue of my virginity, right?”
Tony almost fell down as he stumbled off the bed, getting his feet under him at the last second.
Steve simply kept grinning and took advantage of Tony’s unsteady stance by lifting him up by the hips and pressing their bodies together, urging Tony’s legs around his waist to put their mouths within kissing distance. “How many ways are there to unvirginize someone in 24 hours?” he murmured against Tony’s lips.
“We’ll find out very soon,” Tony replied.
“Promise,” Tony smiled.
“Until death do us apart?”
Tony tugged sharply on the blond hair, not appreciating the wording, then proceeded to silence Steve with a kiss.
The door opened again. “Okay, here’s something for you to wea–”
“They seem occupied, Dr. Banner.”
“Tell me when they’ve… untangled,” Bruce requested and shut the door firmly, leaving Steve and Tony alone.
They might not be dead, but it was good to be undisturbed once more – at least until they had ensured that there was no ‘unfinished business’ left for Steve in this world.