ebyru: (marvel bang 2012)
[personal profile] ebyru
Title: Ball and Chain (of Fools)
This is part 4 of 5
marvel_bang Masterpost HERE



It was definitely the shower of a lifetime, but Steve’s gotten used to not expecting more than sex from his fellow superheroes. There’s just too much responsibility on their shoulders without having to consider a serious relationship. It may have taken Steve more than once to figure it out, but he gets that now. So when Thor doesn’t change the way he treats Steve at all for the following week, Steve’s oddly…accepting of it.

It was fun, but that’s it. It’s much easier to stay friends and teammates; they can still count on each other’s support, and that’s what matters. Steve can appreciate having more than a handful of companions to spend time with.

~*~*~

Tony.

Tony’s been at the back of Steve’s mind for weeks. He’s done what his friends have asked and not bothered him, given him space, but it’s only seemed to worsen while Steve wasn’t around to keep him sane and sober.

Pepper is a good reason for anyone to fall off the bandwagon; she’s smart and confident, and entirely too amazing for her own good. And Tony made a mistake – a drunken one no less – that ruined what he had with her, what they’d built over the years from working together. She seems more or less able to cope, especially now that she’s an extended part of the Avengers, but Tony…

Falling down the stairs in an Iron Man suit is the final straw for Steve. He’s had enough of sitting back and watching his best friend drink his life away. Someone has to put a stop to it, and since Steve’s the Captain, their leader, the one they can always rely one, it’ll have to be him.

~*~*~

If you know Tony Stark, the last thing he’d ever want to do is admit something is wrong. Now more than ever, Steve is finding that out. But they’re both stubborn in their ways, intent on making the other fold.

“I don’t like what I saw the other day, Tony,” Steve says, stepping into the penthouse.

Tony is fixing himself a scotch, without ice. “Oh, you mean Thor’s hammer? Yeah, I thought it would be bigger, too.”

Steve forgot about that whole Jarvis tells Tony everything problem. “No, I meant you. Your suits are your children, and you almost scrapped it by having too much to drink.”

“I’ve had more. I just tripped over my laces, Cap. Lighten up.” Tony swishes the brown liquid in his glass, not making eye contact.

The blonde steps closer, sitting in a round, metal chair, crossing his arms. He refuses to budge this time; Tony is going to kill himself.

“I gave you time, Tony. I’ve left you alone. I ignored what I saw. But it’s too much now. I’m worried.”

Tony winces at the last part, throwing back the contents of his glass in one gulp. “When aren’t you worried? I could have a splinter and you’d be here with the same puppy-eyed expression. I’m fine, mom. I’m a big boy.”

“This isn’t funny,” Steve states flatly.

“No one’s laughing. Except maybe people who have a sense of humour.” Tony grins in that way he knows rubs Steve the wrong way. “I’m fucking hilarious, Cap.”

“The sad ones always are,” Steve replies, his gaze softening, but Tony still hasn’t looked at him.

“Oh, okay. That’s – that’s not playing nice.” Tony pours himself another glass, muttering about stupid, old-fashioned Capsicle ruining his buzz. “You know what? I don’t want your help. I want to be left alone, drink my scotch that’s younger than you, and work when the time comes.”

“What happens if I do that -” Steve stands, walking towards Tony at his mini-bar. “- and another alien army attacks, and you’re too drunk to even walk down the stairs in your suit?”

“That was one time—”

“It doesn’t matter, Tony. It happened.” Steve puts his hand on Tony’s shoulder. “And I’m your friend. I consider you my closest friend. So why not let me help you through this?”

“When did you decide I needed friends? I didn’t invite you guys to live here, you volunteered my tower. Fury forced my hand.”

“So you don’t want me here? You don’t want the Avengers around?”

“Why do you think I stay in the penthouse so fuckin’ much now, Cap?” Tony snaps, pushing Steve’s hand off his shoulder.

“Because you miss Pepper and she lives with us, not just with you anymore,” Steve says softly, trying to make Tony look at him.

“Shut up,” Tony grinds out, already feeling his head spinning. “You have no idea what you’re talking about. You’ve never been in a relationship, and you certainly haven’t dated Pepper.”

“I’ve loved someone though,” Steve murmurs, reaching out to rub Tony’s shoulder.

Tony shoves Steve back, away from him, far enough that Tony doesn’t need to look up to see his face when he says, “Peggy? Get over it! You only kissed her. And that was decades ago.”

And that hurts. Steve’s hand drops to his side, his shoulders slumping. He knows this is Tony’s defence mechanism, but it’s hard to ignore a jab like that when Tony knows how much Steve thinks about her. This isn’t about Steve though; this is about getting Tony better. He can be upset some other time when alcohol isn’t coursing through Tony’s veins, poisoning him.

“Fine. If you’re not going to help yourself, I’ll help you,” Steve says, sternly. He grabs the biggest bottles in front of him, filled with 40 proof alcohol, and strides toward Tony’s sink.

“Hey. Hey! What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Tony chases after Steve. “Give me those. Those are things Pep—” He swallows the rest of the sentence down.

“What were you saying?” Steve wouldn’t waste them if they were gifts; that’s not his goal.

“They’re from her,” Tony mutters. “And even if you pour my entire stash down the drain, what will that accomplish? I’ll just have someone bring me more or get it myself.”

Steve frowns, putting the bottles down. “Then talk to me!” Tony rolls his eyes, and makes his hand talk to mimic Steve’s whining. “Pepper is moving on, Tony. And she’s running this company without you.”

“Don’t talk about her. Don’t do it,” Tony warns, sipping his scotch.

“You know she was a mess not long ago. Almost as bad as you are now, but she let me in. She let me talk her out of the destructive behaviour.”

“Stop. I don’t want to hear it. Good for her. The one who breaks up with the other always gets better first!”

Steve feels sad for Tony; he’s lashing out more than usual. She must have really been a big part of him. “You loved her, didn’t you? Are you angry because she kissed me?”

“That’s it! Get the fuck out. Leave!” Tony spits. “I don’t want to hear your time-travelling, Back to the Future advice that doesn’t apply to my day and age.” When Steve just watches Tony, crossing his arms, Tony rushes out of sight. “Then I’m leaving because you are a terrible so-called friend, and I don’t want to see your pretty blond head anymore.”

In moments, Steve is watching Tony suit up and fly away, not bothering to wait for the door to slide completely open when he smashes through it.

That went well.

---

After a few hours, Steve can’t wait anymore.

“Jarvis, where’s Tony?”

“I believe he returned to his previous flat. I can provide you with coordinates if you like,” Jarvis replies.

“Thank you.”

---

Somewhere along the way, Tony grabbed some more to drink. When Steve arrives – thanks to Phil pulling some strings and getting him a lift there – Tony is half-sitting, half lying on his balcony, the face of his suit removed, clutching onto a bottle like a life line.

“Cap!” Tony slurs, a grim smile on his face. “So glad you could join me. Take a seat, strip off your clothes. Let’s fuck around like you’ve done with everyone else.”

Steve’s brow furrows, but he bends down next to Tony. “Are you saying you’re jealous?”

“Pfft. What? Of an innocent, old man? What are you like ninety now?”

“I’m twenty-five, Tony,” Steve says, smiling in spite of the situation. “The years I was frozen don’t count.”

“They count to most people,” Tony mumbles, taking a swig straight from the bottle.

“Okay, I think you’ve had enough.” Steve takes the bottle away easily; Tony can’t figure out which of the three Steve’s is the real one.

“I don’t think so,” Tony sing-songs. “The party’s just starting. Wooooo!” Tony flails his arms, accidentally hitting the back of Steve’s perfectly coiffed head.

“Definitely had enough,” Steve says, rubbing his head.

Steve flings Tony’s arm around his shoulders, but he can’t lift him. Tony’s limbs are heavy and limp, and the suit reacts to his physical state – that’s something he added recently in case he ever plummets from outer space again – making it very hard for someone to just throw him over their shoulder. Steve’s going to need help.

“Thor.” Tony was nice enough in his drunken stupor to tell Steve where his laptop was. “I need your help. Can you find me through Jarvis?”

“I will ask the robotic being and be there shortly, Steven!”

---

Thor leaves them alone, since Steve asked, but mostly because he wants to watch the Lion King 1 ½ with Clint and Bruce.

Steve knows there’s no point in asking questions when Tony’s like this, so he busies himself with trying to get the suit off. “How do I—”

“There’s a button around somewhere, I don’t usually take it off manually, so you’re gonna have to search.” Tony flicks a strand of Steve’s hair out of his eyes. “How do you get it so perfect? I think bed-hair suits me better, personally.”

Steve just nods, turning Tony from one side to the next, sliding his hand across the metal with clinical intensity. Tony realizes Steve probably isn’t going to share the secrets of his hair the universe.


“I think she is the first woman I ever loved,” Tony mumbles, leaning on an elbow as Steve’s fingers search deftly for a button he’s beginning to think doesn’t exist.

Steve considers saying something, but he decides on letting Tony say whatever he feels instead.

“She could always fix whatever I broke. I don’t mean robots or systems; that’s my job. She could fix everything else, the little stuff – the important stuff.” Steve watches Tony’s eyes close, wondering if he’s about to drift off into sleep, but he continues. “And now I’ve broken her, and the only thing that could fix it is her. Or maybe I’ve just broken myself.”

Tony sighs, cracking an eye open. “Feel free to chime in any time, Cap. I’m just baring my heart here, leaving it out on a metal slab, waiting for you to tenderize it.”

“I didn’t know if you wanted me to say anything. You said before—”

Leaning up too fast, Tony holds his head; the room is spinning at warp speed. “I know what I said. And I’m – I’m sorry.” He turns his palm over, pointing to a small, silver button. Steve laughs, shaking his head. “Consider this my way of making it up to you?”

“Were you going to let me search all night?” Steve asks, cocking a brow, smiling all the same.

Tony lets himself fall limp in Steve’s arms, taking great pleasure in seeing Steve try to hold him up. “I may have considered it for a moment. But you’re just so freakin’ nice. It’s hard to stay mad at you.” Tony pokes Steve in the chest. “Maybe that’s your superpower. Niceness. Kindness? No, niceness sounds better.”

Steve presses the button and the suit retracts instantly, climbing away from Tony’s limbs, and leaving him in a t-shirt and jogging pants. It collects itself into a compact metal square that Tony leaves on the floor next to his bed.

Tony lets out a jaw-breaking yawn, and Steve figures that’s his cue. “I’ll just let you rest—”

“No. Cap, you have to stay a bit. We haven’t hung out, just us two, in a while.”

“I think in weeks is the better description,” Steve corrects, grinning.

“Even worse! Don’t worry, I won’t pull out my big seduction moves on you. That stuff is only for people with adequate experience.”

“I have some experience,” Steve admits, rubbing the nape of his neck.

“There you go. Now you have to stay and chat a while.” Tony goes onto all fours, crawling over to his bed, and lifting himself just long enough to fall on top of it. He pats the space next to him, Pepper’s side, his mind adds mercilessly, waiting for Steve to run away like a blushing bride.

“I’ll only keep you company if it’s a two-way street, Tony.” Steve brushes off his pants and walks around the bed, carefully taking off his shoes and sitting down.

“Stretch out, man. Relax. And yep, definitely. Two-way. Three-way even.” Tony groans. “That’s not what I meant.” Tony digs the heels of his hands in his eyes. His head is going to explode during the night (or tomorrow if he’s lucky) isn’t it?

Steve laughs at the awkward, inebriated version of his best friend. Maybe alcohol can have a plus side.

~*~*~

It’s not the first time Steve’s woken up in a bed that isn’t his own – and the number of times has only increased since meeting the Avengers – but it’s the first time he’s slept in the same bed as one Tony Stark.

Tony is a cuddler.

Steve usually gets up around the same time as the sun, but he’s up slightly earlier this day because Tony is wound around him so tightly, Steve has no choice but to take in large gulps of air through dark strands. Pushing the hair out of his eyes, Steve moves over slightly, trying to untangle Tony’s limbs wrapped around him like an octopus.

“No. Pepper,” Tony mumbles in a sleepy voice. Steve feels bad until: “Oh. It’s just you.” Tony smiles sheepishly and stretches a mostly bare leg in the air when Steve narrows his eyes.

Something about how much more content Tony seems makes a chill skitter down Steve’s spine. And now that he’s not covered in a cloak of Stark, he can see that his shirt is missing. He doesn’t remember having taken it off, though.

“D-did we have intercourse?” Steve stutters, staring at the ceiling, trying to draw on what he remembers from last night.

Tony pauses for a very long time. Deliberately. “I don’t think so.” He smirks when Steve sighs with relief. “Your box ‘o’ condoms is still in your room, gramps.” Tony messes up Steve’s hair before rolling onto his back. “Besides, you could not forget if we had knocked boots, or shield and suit in this case.”

Steve sighs, throwing his legs over the side of the bed. Nonchalance is tolerable once in a while, but Tony uses it as a second skin; he pretends nothing fazes him, and when something does he uses every means he can to avoid thinking about it.

It was good last night; Steve had made a breakthrough with his best friend. Tony had honestly opened up. Now, however, the quips are back, and getting under Steve’s skin for obvious reasons.

Steve quickly grabs his shirt from the ground and pulls it over his head, moving away when he feels Tony lift it back up for a peek at his back. “Stop, Tony.” He’s not in the mood for the jokes and the play-flirting.

“Wait, don’t be mad,” Tony says softly, uncharacteristically so. Steve turns to look at Tony, and his face is right there. Tony grips Steve’s chin with one hand and kisses him softly on the lips. “Thanks, Cap.” Tony lies back down as if that was the most logical thing he could have done, perhaps, for him, it was.

Steve wipes the wrinkles out of his shirt and stands to leave. “You’re welcome.” But I still don’t understand this world where people kiss their best friend.

~*~*~

Steve goes out for ice cream with Pepper and Thor, and when he returns to his room to change his shirt – Thor still isn’t very good at aiming for his mouth – he finds a package from Tony waiting for him.

Opening it doesn’t really explain its purpose, and Tony wasn’t kind enough to write up instructions. Steve rolls his eyes, tucking it under his arm, running up the stairs to the penthouse.

Tony is banging a wrench against a malfunctioning arm when Steve walks in. It’s not something he ever thought he’d see in his lifetime. But this is his world now, apparently.

“Yeah, Cap? Oh, you found it. Great.” Tony bangs the arm when it wiggles back to life again.

“I – uh – don’t understand what this is.” Steve opens the package, and takes it out carefully. “What is it?”

“It’s a cape. Well, a mechanical one. You can switch its density if ever someone is standing behind you and they shoot –” Tony puts down his wrench when Steve raises a brow. He gestures for Steve to hand it over. “Let me show you.”

Tony clips the cape onto the collar of his shirt and it springs to life, a series of long metal strips covering the length of Tony’s back all the way down to his calves. It’s like Steve’s shield, but in the form of a silver cape, protecting the most vulnerable part of him.

“When did you even have time to make that?” Steve gapes. “That’s amazing.”

“Oh, this was nothing. You should see what else I have in mind for you.” Tony grins, removing the cape and waiting for it to shrink back enough to hand it over to Steve. “Enjoy old man. I just want to make sure you’re always the oldest around – after Thor obviously.”

“Thanks. I appreciate it,” Steve utters genuinely. Tony clears his throat and waves a hand dismissively.

~*~*~

It’s the first of many new gadgets, it seems.

The next time Steve steps out – he goes with Bruce to an Italian restaurant and Clint tags along, having invited himself – there are knee-level, sky blue boots in front of his door with a red bow attached to them.

Steve doesn’t even bother trying to work out what they do, taking the stairs straight up to Tony’s workshop.

“Are these just for appeal or comfort? Or do they do something that I should be careful of?”

“Hi, Cap. I’m glad to see you, too. Oh, and don’t worry about thanking me, that only took three days out of my life,” Tony rambles out, fixing a loose wire of his Iron Man suit. He peers at Steve across the room and Stve looks back at him with his arms crossed, unimpressed. “They complement your abilities.”

“Really?” Steve says, slightly more curious.

Tony nods, clipping the end of the wire and taking off his safety glasses. “Come ‘ere, I’ll show you.” The older man makes grabby hands at chest-level to (successfully) disturb his old-fashioned leader – who doesn’t even have breast.

They enhance Steve’s strengths, as it turns out. Although the serum made him able to jump farther, higher, to run faster, these boots provide him with an extra boost of power right at the end to increase it. Steve spends most of the day in the gym, bouncing off walls – not on purpose – and running across the ceiling – on purpose – trying to get the hang of them.

And then there are more gifts.

Tony redesigns Captain America’s shield quite a few times, but Steve can’t seem to control them as well as the first one Tony made, or maybe he just can’t part with it when it’s been so faithful to him.

Then there are pads that are big and clunky and hard to get on. (“Hold still or my hand’s going to end up somewhere very unpleasant. For you,” Tony teases.)

Steve becomes a running joke soon after. Natasha and Clint ask him what his weekly wardrobe malfunction is this time. He doesn’t miss the way Bruce and Phil are eavesdropping, and that Natasha keeps Pepper up-to-date during their outings. But, worst of all, is how interested in each suit change Thor is.

The fabrics interest him, the complexity of them, even the designs. He’s the cause of many gift-deaths, as Clint dubs it, and Steve is always too guilty to tell Tony why he isn’t using a specific one anymore. (He really liked those boots; they made him feel like he was on the moon.)

The mad scientist – not to be confused with the green giant, who is Bruce – decides to take on much larger scale modifications. He researches through old Captain America videos, ransacks (and crashes) the internet for sources of fabric, sends Bruce drawings of designs to get his opinion on, and adds in a little modern flair to them.

“Just pretend you’re a runway model,” Tony suggests, “then you won’t feel so bad about me touching you in your private areas.” Steve sighs, but Tony’s not finished. “Not that you should worry about that anymore, considering just about everyone in this tower has seen your family jewels.”

Steve sighs again, a long winded sound that Tony seems to bring out of him. “Thanks Tony, that really makes me want to try on the new suits.”

“Hey, don’t be ungrateful.” Tony zips up Steve’s ‘improved’ Captain America costume, patting Steve’s butt and rubbing his shoulders for no other reason than to bother Steve further. “Once you try these ones, you won’t ever go back to the old one.”

“Let’s hope you’re right,” Steve snaps, moving away when Tony cups his behind. “Is that necessary?”

“No, but don’t I deserve a reward for all my sweat, blood and tears?” Tony purses his lips, and Steve shifts further away. “Geez you’re a stick in the mud today.”

“Do you have a mirror?” Steve says, not bothering with the pointless provocation.

“Am I not good enough? Do you not trust my fantastic judgment?”

Steve doesn’t even falter. “No.”

“That’s harsh, Steve. I thought you were better than this. And besides, I’ll have you know I’ve won best dressed billionaire of the year quite a few times in a row.” Tony crinkles his nose.

“Fine.” Steve stretches out his arms. “How does it look?”  He smooths out the creases in the fabric, feeling uncomfortable about the tightness of it in certain areas, but overall it’s easy to move in. He leans forward, kicks out one leg then the other, stretches his arms above his head and rolls his shoulders. It feels good, not stiff at all.

Tony makes a ‘turn around’ gesture with a finger, and Steve complies, albeit not without frowning beforehand.

“Nice,” Tony says under his breath. “Looking good, Cap.” He tilts his head, making an appraising noise in his throat.

“That’s – that’s uncomfortable,” Steve admits, crossing his arms.

“I agree. Did your arms get bigger? I should have measured you again.” Tony smirks when Steve scowls at him. “Next one!”

There are so many clasps on some, too many buckles on others, weird fabric that bunches up in Steve’s groin area, and Tony just uses all of those factors as an excuse to squeeze this part, rub that part, lean in close against Steve’s back and breathe filth into his ear. Steve is only human, an adaptable one at that, so he can’t help ignoring it after a while to save his energy. Tony, on the other hand, thinks that’s a step forward in their bonding process, and his touches linger, become bolder and more consistent until Steve really can’t remember why he protested so much in the first place.

With his magical seduction skills, Tony has Steve against the wall, grinding into him as he laps his tongue over Steve’s collarbone roughly. His hands encircle Steve’s body, kneading his ass, and Steve leans in, taking Tony’s lips between his own. His stubble scratches at first, not as soft as Thor’s was, but not as unkempt as Bruce’s, and it creates a sultry kind of friction that Steve decides he wants more of. He deepens the kiss, rolling his tongue against Tony’s, huffing out a laugh when Tony growls his approval and forces their hips flush together.

Something must be in Tony’s water supply because Steve feels hungry, and the only way to satisfy it is to be filled or to fill someone. Tony seems to approve either way when they land on the carpet in a mess of limbs and slippery kisses. Steve moans when Tony’s fingers rub between his ass, teasing him through the strong but paper-thin fabric of the newest design. He throws his head back, rocking into Tony’s knowing hands, and Tony chants how fucking gorgeous Steve is, gnawing on his neck, and purposely laying his claim in the form of bright red bite marks.

They’re rolling around on Tony’s plush, white carpet, whimpering and writhing, Tony cursing himself for having such a hard time taking off the costume – that was the part of the plan he didn’t think through – and Steve laughs, breathless, moving his hips in slow grinds against Tony, urging him on.

“Fuck this,” Tony grinds out. He reaches for scissors on the table nearby and cuts through the suit, too eager to even care that this was probably the best one he’d made.

Steve bites his lip, stretching out like a painter’s dream, waiting for Tony to finally, finally, show him what all his talk has been about. And even if they can’t stay friends after this, maybe they can be something more.

Tony pounces, humming as he bites into the pale skin at Steve’s throat, and Steve just writhes beneath him, mewling with the sole purpose of making Tony move it the hell along. Steve’s hard, he’s tired, and his best friend kisses like he’s made of carnal things; sex needs to be happening and soon. He’s only had teasing and foreplay up to this point, so it seems only natural Tony would have the privilege of bringing him all the way.

They kiss for a lot longer than Steve thought they would, perhaps because Tony is worried this will ruin things like it did with Pepper, but Steve accepts this challenge. He rolls his clothed erection against Tony’s jeans, hissing when the fabric catches in unexpected, interesting places. Tony sucks on Steve’s bottom lip, bruising it when he finally starts meeting each of Steve’s movements with one of his own.

“Sir,” Jarvis says flatly.

“Not. Now,” Tony grits out. He’s been waiting to get this superhero in his bed, to pry him open like a clam, to steal his pearl away and harbour it for the rest of his miserable life. That is all he wants to accomplish, and Steve is irrefutably on board with this plan, so Jarvis needs to butt the fuck out.

“But sir, someone is—”

“I said not now!”

Steve’s eyes flutter open, cupping Tony’s face with that look. The one that tells Tony he needs to pay attention to something other than his own needs. But he is! He’s going to make Steve come so hard he’ll feel it—

“Oh dear god,” Phil says weakly from the doorway.

“Dammit, Jarvis. I thought I told you to keep everyone out!”

“I did, sir, but Agent Coulson has overridden the panels as usual,” the AI announces calmly.

“I – uh,” Phil wheezes in a breath when he notices who’s below Tony on the floor. “Cap.” He swallows thickly, cutting the eye contact he previously had. “Fury needs to speak to you, Tony. He’s on the landline downstairs.”

Phil rushes out as quickly as he came in.

“Guess we should…” Steve starts, feeling sick about the whole thing suddenly. Phil just saw his childhood hero being manhandled by the man he likes the least in this tower.

Tony runs his fingers through his hair, sighing. “Yeah. He seems pretty devastated that I touched his crush.” He straightens his clothes, and gives Steve a wry smile before leaving to find out what Fury needs this time.

Steve collects what’s left of the suit, and slips on his gym outfit. Some training would do him good (and hopefully make the blood in his dick circulate elsewhere).

~*~*~

Tony and Steve don’t really discuss that whole intense make-out session, even if Tony continues his flirty remarks when they cross each other’s paths. Steve plans household activities with Phil to make up for what happened – although it isn’t the first time he’s been with someone else – and the team seems to like them.

Poker games – which Thor pleaded for – are played on Tuesdays, the biggest loser having to do an embarrassing dare that everyone agrees on. Movie nights continue to be on Fridays, but they start sooner, last for longer, and have themes to choose from. Tony builds a pool in the gym for Natasha, and Clint suggests they have tournaments once per month to see everyone’s improvements.

When they have missions or if they go out and happen to stop a crime, they write it on the ‘badass scoreboard’ Tony set up to prove that he is – in fact – the most productive superhero.  Unsurprisingly, he’s not; it’s a tie between Clint and Phil because they spend the most time outdoors, and happen to be at the right place at the right time.

Thor starts giving the Avengers random piggy back rides on Wednesdays – which used to be their collectively most despised day of the week – and Bruce decides to test his new formula by doing the same as the Hulk.

Steve is glad to see Phil smiling again, enjoying his turn on Hulk’s back as they run around the entertainment area. If there’s anything he doesn’t want, it’s to hurt someone’s feelings with his careless actions. He’s not like this, he’s reliable and faithful. He doesn’t want to go from bed to bed in search of an accepting partner. He wants to be happy and stable.

Is there even such a thing for people like them?  That’s the question that stays in Steve’s mind during the next week.

~*~*~

Steve and Thor are flexing their biceps while watching 300 when something unexpected happens.

A silence hangs in the room, acrid and intense, begging to be shattered before one of their hearts stops beating. Thor is typically the man for the job.

“Brother?”

“Thor.” Loki smiles tightly, not moving from his spot next to the couch.

“Loki, what are you doing here? Have you escaped? Why have you do—”

“I have not. Calm down.” Loki sighs, pushing one of his coat sleeves up slowly.

There’s a metallic bracelet on his wrist, pulsing with a pale green light. When he approaches Thor, the green intensifies, and the pulsing morphs into a steady beam of colour.

“They have allowed you leave? But why? I was told you had another millennia in prison,” Thor’s voice softens the way Steve imagines it would with his children – if he decides to have any.

Loki is his brother no matter what he’s done to his family and the planet, and nothing seems to change that fact. Steve wonders if he could be as forgiving of his siblings if they turned on him so fiercely.

“The why is of no importance. I am here because I have been told to stay under your care,” Loki states dryly. He gazes over at Steve who frowns, his brow creased. “I assure you this is not of my choosing. I would rather not be in the home of people who captured me in the first place.”

Steve stands, pulling Thor aside to whisper to him. “I don’t want Loki here. We need to find a way to get him back to Asgard.”

“Steven! He is my brother!”

Steve nods, leaning closer. “I know. I know how much you’ve missed him. But what if he starts another war? What if he uses you? What if another city is destroyed because of him?” He rests his hand on Thor’s shoulder. “We can’t risk the lives of everyone here. You need to bring him—”

“No!” Thor shouts. “I refuse to send him back to that prison when I know all too well what fate awaits him there. They will assume he has betrayed me once more, that I care not what happens to him, and the torment will be more severe than you can possibly imagine, Steven.”

Steve’s eyes widen, never having been defied so strongly by Thor. Thor always follows his orders without protest – except wherever Loki is concerned. “And if he kills again? Then what?”

“If that time comes to pass, I will deal with my brother. On my own,” Thor snarls. “He does not deserve the treatment he will receive in Asgard, especially now that they know the truth of his origins.”

Steve tries to explain that he doesn’t mean to upset Thor, but he continues. “If even a single hair on Loki’s head is touched, by Odin I swear to you, you will not only have him to worry about.”

There’s no room for disagreement. This is where Steve and Thor will never see eye to eye, but Thor is powerful, and Steve doesn’t want to make the mistake of turning him to the wrong side.

“Fine, but he’s staying in your room.” Steve gives Loki one last long look, hardly containing his disgust.

He wouldn’t be surprised if this was all part of a ploy the Trickster set up to return to his playground on Earth. And if that’s the case, and Thor loses control of his brother, all of the blame will fall to Captain America’s shoulders for allowing it. Let’s hope Thor is right.

~*~*~

Steve spends the next hour or two (or three) explaining to the Avengers what’s happened, and asks them not to freak out when they arrive to find Loki lounging in Thor’s bedroom. Fury calls Steve the moment Phil receives the news, and, for a second, Steve wishes he could punch the agent for being so loyal.

“What’s this about Loki being in your care? And why wasn’t I the first to be informed?”

This is starting well. “I’m sorry, sir. It happened so quickly, and I had a dispute with Thor over it. It won’t happen again.”

“It damn well won’t. I don’t intend to ever keep a criminal from an alien planet in our midst again.”

“Yes, sir. I understand, but this has been approved by the authorities in Asgard. They apparently sent him here for Thor to take care of.”

“How is him being here with one Asgardian god better than him being surrounded by them?”

“I don’t know yet, but as soon as I find out, I will tell you.”

“If this can’t be helped, which it sounds like it can’t, make sure Thor keeps him on a tight leash. You got that, Captain?”

“Yes, sir. I’ll inform Thor of your orders.”

“Good.” Fury promptly hangs up, but not before Steve hears the beginning of a very colourful swear word.

~*~*~

 

Steve is lying face down on the living room couch when Thor picks up his feet, and places them gently on his lap.

“I have spoken with my brother. He has told me the reasoning behind his appearance. I assume you would like to know, yes?”

Steve nods his head, turning so he can almost see Thor’s expression. Thor strokes Steve’s thigh as he speaks, an unspoken pact they’ve made to never deny each other physical attention, so long as it isn’t sexual in nature anymore.

“The guards of my world were being, well, tricked by my brother. He fooled them into believing he had escaped on an almost daily basis. They could no longer handle his games, and they decided being in my care would ensure he remain on his best behaviour.” Thor laughs, shaking his blond hair. “They believe I am best at handling Loki. Is that not mad? He stabbed me between my armour with a hidden blade not one year ago.”

Steve moves his legs up to his body, shifting until his knees bump against the side of Thor’s thigh as he sits up next to him. “You don’t think he’ll listen to you?”

Thor’s shoulders slouch, his hair falling into his eyes. “I believe he is angry. With me most of all. And I cannot leave things as they are, Steven.”

Steve pets Thor’s hair, and strong arms pull him in instantly. “What must I do, Captain?” Thor hides his face in Steve’s neck, and Steve rubs his scalp slowly, hushing him when he feels a tear fall onto his skin.

Loki better realize how much he’s hurting his brother; this isn’t how Steve wants to see a god ever. That was a promise he’d made a long time ago.

~*~*~

Tony, Steve realizes, is not the worst behaved person in the tower anymore.

Loki is completely unpredictable, selfish, unfriendly, and a general bother for the Avengers. It makes sense that he would want to drive his captors crazy, but while trying to annoy them to death, he’s also creating weird, unexpected bonds. However, Phil and Pepper stay at least a hundred feet away from Loki at all times; they’ve heard too many horror stories from the Avengers.

Loki turns Thor’s face into unmoving cement during poker nights, making him impossible to beat. He thinks up the absolute worst dares when the time comes for the loser to suffer. (Shaving cream tastes nothing like cotton candy by the way.)  And if anyone asks him to put the same spell on them, to even the odds, he pretends not to have heard their request.

Natasha’s favourite time of the month is ruined by him. Loki enjoys filling the pool with mud or freezing it over with the ice of his parentage, to make the swimming tournaments more ‘appealing’. She comes close to begging after she swallows some of it, but his smirk only makes her want to trudge on.

Then, he changes the numbers on the scoreboard so often the team has to start keeping track of who beat up the most criminals by taking pictures of it beforehand. Tony is always happy because Loki has a penchant for giving him the biggest number each week.

On hump day, Loki refuses to make an appearance, forcing his brother to bring him meals to their shared bedroom. (Which is what he does every day anyhow, insisting that ‘mortals reek of lives poorly spent’.) Thor would give him the longest, most irritating piggyback ride if Loki ever decided to participate. But Loki is far above such infantile games, as he repeats each week.

(Secretly, Loki wishes he could get a ride from Hulk, but he’s afraid he’ll be smashed into the floor again.)

The only day that Loki behaves is on Fridays. He enjoys the themed film nights so much he offers Steve suggestions of his own during the third week of his arrival. Steve writes them down, putting them into a hat and drawing one randomly, but it always ends up being one of Loki’s ideas. That may be due to Loki’s magic, but there haven’t been any complaints so far, so Steve lets it slide.

When he isn’t wreaking harmless havoc, Loki is in Thor’s room reading books he takes from Bruce’s library (when he’s not looking). Most are about genetics and chemistry, but he finds a small pile of fiction novels which he takes a liking to. Or so Thor says; Loki doesn’t speak to anyone in the tower except to insult them.

During supper, Thor always fills a plate with extra food so he can share with Loki, but Thor’s unwelcome sibling refuses to eat most things they make. The exception to this – and there is always an exception with Loki – is the rare times Thor tries his hand at cooking. It’s not terrible, but it isn’t as sophisticated or as skilled as what Bruce or Natasha can make.

Thor can slow-cook a boar he found who-knows-where with mediocre seasoning accompanied by mead he’s learned to make himself, and Loki will eat it every time. Steve begins to wonder if it has something to do with feeling like he’s back at home, with everything just as it used to be.

Thor seems happier when he recognizes that as well.

~*~*~

Thor is completely smashed one night when he stumbles into the common room. The only people still awake are Steve (as usual, his duty keeping him up) and Phil.

There’s no filter between a god’s mind and his mouth when he drinks, which is odd because they’d always assumed that was only a human thing.

“My brother has rejected my advances,” he slurs, holding a pitcher of mead in his large hand.

Phil closes his eyes like that was hard to hear, and is still physically causing him harm. Steve squints trying to figure out if that meant what he thinks it means. He turns to look at Phil who shakes his head, eyes screwed shut.

“I’m going to bed,” Phil says flatly. “Goodnight.”

Steve is left gaping – it’s what he does best – and Thor replaces Phil on the couch, staring down into his half empty drink. Maybe Steve doesn’t want to know if he’s right. Maybe it’s best he doesn’t ask.

“I told him of my interest, and he said that I could not touch him in that way even if I were the last Asgardian in existence.” Thor hiccups, taking a long gulp of mead. “Am I repulsive so?”

Well that clears things up.

“Of course not, Thor.” Steve winces when Thor belches in his face, forgetting his manners.

“Then why does my own brother not want to share his flesh with me?”

Maybe because he’s your brother? “I can’t really answer that,” Steve says, repentant. “I don’t ever know what Loki is thinking.”

Thor chuckles, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “That is true. Perhaps he is playing ‘hard to get’ as Tony says.”

“Maybe,” Steve replies. But probably not. Loki seems to be sure of what he wants, and when he doesn’t want something he won’t waste time telling it straight.

“You are a good friend, Steven.” Thor wraps Steve in a rough embrace. “And an even better leader. What would we do without you in our lives?”

Steve smiles, his flushed skin making an appearance after a long absence. “You’d be fine. I’m just here to guide you.”

Thor’s reply is a roaring noise that sounds suspiciously like snoring. And, when Thor’s head tips back and he spills mead all down the front of Steve’s shirt, he realizes it was. Steve frowns and strips out of his shirt, grabbing a blanket from the linen closet to cover Thor with.

A voice startles him as he turns to bring it to Thor. “I will take care of that babbling buffoon,” Loki declares, sounding off-put.

The blanket disappears from Steve’s grasp, and his head starts hurting when a clean shirt appears on his body. This is more help than Steve would have liked. He can still feel the buzz of Loki’s magic against the skin of his back when he lies down in bed that night.

~*~*~

 

After that, Steve takes it upon himself to avoid Loki. It’s bad enough that he has to share his living space with a pompous murderer, but to have him leave traces on Steve’s skin makes him feel…strange. He doesn’t like it; he won’t let himself.

Loki, on the other hand, likes a challenge. And a challenge the unrelenting Steve Rogers is.

It has nothing to do with Captain America and his righteous battle, his miraculous comeback. It has everything to do with Steve’s stubborn yet caring duality, his anger and craving for pacifying all situations, even most that are completely out of his realm – literally.

Loki feeds off of challenges, and he’s stumbled upon the greatest one yet.

Thor is quite the opposite. He’s easy to crack open. It helps that they have history together, too. Loki simply mentions Steve’s name, and all of the leader’s habits, characteristics, deeds, flaws, hopes, dreams, experiences come pouring out like the splendid waterfall Loki expected it would.

Now he has facts from which he can draw from to pick at Steve’s scabs until Steve can’t help scraping himself raw.

~*~*~

Loki breaks into Tony’s computer feed one night, taking with him the months of footage he’s missed while he was in Asgard, busy tormenting lesser beings.

At first he expects what he sees; Tony being a child, Bruce hiding away in his lab, Clint watching them all from above, Natasha fighting non-stop, Thor being oblivious, and Steve frantically trying to fix it all. But as minutes pass and Loki fast-forwards the videos (after nearly breaking the device a few times), skipping days and weeks, he falls on some interesting events.

Natasha convinces Steve to sleep with her, and he accepts. Then Steve steps out of his comfortable boundaries and indulges a subservient fan. And the demeaning behaviour doesn’t end there. He gives his attention to a man who most definitely took advantage of Steve once they reached his bedroom, he consoles a woman who would never love him back, and he helps the doctor feel again, only to be cast aside when the doctor is afraid to go any further. The worst part, Loki seethes as he watches, is how quickly he allows Thor – the son of Odin who always, without exception, receives what he wishes to have – to take advantage of him. Thor knows not of love, of service to the person you would die for. And Steve offered himself willingly to a man so spoiled as Thor.

It almost makes Loki stop watching.

Tony’s unabashed flirting was a constant, but it reaches an irritating level, and then Loki does put an end to his self-inflicted torment.

Steve is a coward, afraid to wait, afraid to forever be alone, so he settles for whoever will have him. And evidently everyone will because he is noble and brave and…Loki destroys the video recordings with a snap of his fingers.

That is enough of that nonsense.

~*~*~

The next day it is still bothering Loki, and if he cannot erase the damage, he will have to make the source of it suffer instead.

Steve is reading a newspaper, trying to catch up on the news from when he was frozen, as he eats a toast point. Loki suddenly appears, green fog wrapped around him like a cloak. He pulls out a chair and doesn’t allow Steve’s obvious attempt at avoiding him to ruin his plan. He’s going to make the human angry, and it’s going to make Loki’s day.

“I noticed you’ve been quite the busy soldier,” Loki says, face perfectly expressionless.

Steve looks up from the newspaper, chewing slower. He doesn’t know where this is going, and, as usual, doesn’t think he wants to.

Loki waits until Steve is drinking from his glass and says, “Copulating with most of your teammates. I must say, I didn’t expect that from a man of your - what shall I say? Morals?”  Loki grins when Steve struggles to wipe the orange juice he spit onto his newspaper.

Steve is not going to stoop to a murderer’s level, not this one and not any other one. Loki is going to have this conversation all on his own, and Steve is going to pretend the Trickster isn’t there. He bites into his toast point, reading around the blotch of liquid staining an article.

“Ah. Ignoring me now? I see. I am not worth speaking to, but someone as insignificant as agent Coulson, you will proffer your lips to.” He leans over and steals the last piece of toast from Steve’s plate. “That makes perfect sense.”

Steve glares at Loki, the lines around his mouth deepening as he feels his emotions begin to stir. What is Loki to Steve? He’s nothing. He means nothing. So why is Steve letting the words get to him? He’s letting Thor’s brother get too far beneath his skin.

Loki finishes up the toast, dabbing the crumbs away elegantly with one long, finger. “Well. This was undeniably entertaining. We must do this again.” Loki laughs, low and dangerous, when Steve tears his newspaper accidentally. “And may I say, although I don’t see the appeal, I’m happy your little team likes to take advantage of you.”

~*~*~

Tony and Steve have a conversation on Skype one night that only reminds Steve of the insults he had to endure from Loki.

“Let’s see. You were with ‘Tasha in the gym, quite a few times, but she initiated that. You initiated with both Coulson and Clint, though. At least, I think you did with Clint because you shut the footage so I can’t say for sure. But Coulson is more of a prude than you, so I expected you to have to do all the work.”

Steve grumbles, but Tony just rambles on.

“Actually, I think you’re still just very shy, and see yourself like that scrawny kid deep down. You think you’re not good enough for us. Is that it?”

“No, Tony—”

“Bruce got you in the lab. Your talks were fascinating by the way. And I can see why you didn’t ask me to explain instead. I would have jumped your old bones way before the doc got the balls to.”

Steve scrolls his mouse across the screen, trying to find the ‘end call’ button, but in the meantime—

“Thor, well. Thor’s a warrior – like a Viking – and that couldn’t be helped. I’d definitely hit that if he offered. It did surprise me that you stopped Pep, though. I always thought you’d choose her over me any day. I guess a revenge fuck isn’t much of a turn-on for a man with such high morals as yourself.”

And there’s that jab again. Morals. It’s always about morals.

Steve knows what his morals are, he knows how he thinks, but people’s minds can change, they evolve. It isn’t fair to always be lumped in with people from his time when he never felt he fit in that era to begin with. Steve holds his head, hoping the end of this conversation is coming soon. Or at least for there to be a point somewhere.

“There’s still me, Cap,” Tony says, crossing his arms.

Of course Tony’s point would be about him. “There’s still you what, Tony?”

“Are you going to initiate? Or do I have to waste time and energy seducing you a second time?”

Steve finds ‘shut down’ instead of just the window closing button, and he figures that should get his point across. He’s had enough with feeling bad over wanting to make other people happy. If he knew being ignored, insulted and feeling left out would be the result, he wouldn’t have bothered. Except he knows he would have because that’s what he does – designated martyr of the house, remember?

He tries to sleep and finds that he can’t, so he goes downstairs. He ends up staring at the back of a long-haired criminal when he reaches the living room. Apparently, some murderers can’t sleep at night.

“Can’t sleep?” Steve asks, sitting on the far end of the couch and leaving enough space for two people between them.

Loki doesn’t answer, wanting to give the same treatment he received at breakfast days ago. Besides, he quite likes this animated program, this anime, and Steve is disturbing him.

Steve sighs, glancing at the screen for a bit longer before standing. If he’s going to be ignored by Loki, he might as well do it elsewhere. A lean, black haired character on the screen swings a giant blade, his coat hanging loose on his lithe frame.

“He kind of looks like you,” Steve says under his breath as he goes down to the gym.

Steve doesn’t see it, but Loki smiles at that. Steve couldn’t know after only watching for a moment, but that character is the hero. Loki would like to be the hero for once. Maybe he can be this time.




---Part 5

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