Off Grid



Tony's camped out in the kitchen with his laptop wired up to his helmet, symbiotically close to the coffeemaker as he slogs through page after page of firmware code for his armor, upgrading for speed. It's been his bugaboo recently--speed and responsiveness. He's spent too many years powering it up, not enough time making sure the system wasn't bogged down. He runs a module through a simulation, frowns, debugs, checks clock cycles, gulps coffee, scrubs hands through his hair, talks to the screen, barely even notices that somebody else is there.

"--and you're not a utilities library, you're a randomized string shat out by a drunken monkey with a typewriter who'd rather be blowing a donkey right now. Am I right? I'm right. Donkey balls. You want the donkey balls, and not to make the code go. I'm so right."

"What did the utilities library ever do to you?" says a voice behind him.

Tony startles, turns to see Steve looming over him. "Do to me? Insufficient compatibility with multi-threading. Freakin' capital offense for a programming library." He takes a sip of coffee. "Need something?"

Steve's in his civvies, book under his elbow. "No, just thinking."

Tony scrolls back up to a function call with a touch of two fingers, blinks, changes a variable. "Thinking 'bout what?"

"That we should do something together. When you're done battling your computer."

"Mm, yes, I'll never be done, like what?"

"Go camping."

Tony blinks. "The what?"

"Just what I said. Go camping."


"Because I haven't in years, and I'd like to. With you."

Steve's not looking quite at him, but the sudden frankness of the last bit really, properly draws Tony's attention away from the lines of code. "Okay, that's sweet. But camping? In the woods? In a tent? Out of Wifi range?"

"Why not?"

"Weren't those three good perfectly reasons why not? Okay, how about what happens if Doom invades while we're hippying about off-grid?"

Steve pours himself a glass of water, takes a long drink. "You're never off-grid, Tony. I'm not suicidal enough to try to separate you from your phone. Come on. Three or four days."

"Of utter boredom."

Steve just looks at him, seeming a little wounded.

"I can't take that long away from the company, anyway. Not on no notice."

"I spoke with Pepper. She says you're due for enforced vacation. She's made all the necessary arrangements."

"Christ, it's a conspiracy. I'm going to have to have you all scanned for mind control." He isn't protesting particularly strongly. Three or four days alone with Steve--well, come to think of it, he wants that more than just about anything right now. Except for world peace and perfect firmware, of course. Cold fusion, large scale quantum computing without Heisenberg errors...a few days alone with Steve is definitely up there. And he's found it terminally difficult to say no to the man, especially now that they're--well, normally he'd say fucking, but Steve has a little too much dignity for that, and Tony has a little too much love for him.

"I'd take the armor," he says, flatly.

"Of course you will," says Steve, easily accepting what a hell of a lot of people would have thought weird; then again, he'd be bringing the shield, Tony knows. "It's got a trailer, doesn't it? We'll have to take the truck anyway, that can tow it."

"It's not a truck, it's a sports utility vehicle."

"It's a truck. Isn't it even legally a truck?"

"What do I bring?"

"Just whatever you need for clothes. Comfortable. Long sleeves. I've packed all the supplies."

"You--" Tony drops his head on his keyboard for a moment. "You overbearing ass," he mutters affectionately, then looks up at him. "I have to upgrade my firmware," he says, a little plaintive.

"You could bring your computer, you know."

"Jesus, I'd need a generator."

"Though I might be upset if you just worked on that the whole time."


"So can I load the truck?"

"Knock yourself out. And you explain it to the rest of the team."

"Already done."

"Already--!" Tony snickers, shaking his head. "Fine. You win." He jabs a finger at his computer. "I reserve the right to play Minesweeper."



He bumps into Peter in the hall. Well, not literally; it's hard to when the other fellow is walking on the ceiling.

"Peter," he asks, curious, "did Cap just tell you he was going camping?"

Peter drops down. "Yeah. With you, apparently. I asked him if he'd told you yet, and he said no, and I think I kinda laughed in his face. Um. Are you actually going?"


"Whoa. You camping. The imagination boggles. Why?"

Tony looks off into space for a moment. He's having to give this entirely too much thought. "Because it's hard not to indulge Steve?"

Peter snorts. "Yeah, sure. I just wish you'd indulge him a little more quietly. We'd sleep better."

"Hey. I have important camping business to attend to."

Peter hops up back to the ceiling, out of his way. "Have fun!" Tony's halfway down the hall when he adds, cheerfully, "If you get eaten by a bear, can I have the Playstation?"



Tony fusses endlessly over armor, and trailer hitch, and laptop, generator, cables, phone, adaptors, GPS, data backup, thank god I don't have to plug myself into a wall anymore, are you sure that's the tent, it looks awfully small?

Steve chucks things into the oversized back of the truck, slides into the driver's seat, and waits.

"Yes, Tony, that's the tent."

"Hell and damnation." Tony grabs the handle over the door, hops up and settles. Gets up, fishes the map out from under his ass, settles again. "I cannot believe we're doing this."

"You ready?" Steve starts up the truck and waves to Luke and Jess in the rear-view mirror. "I'm sure we've got plenty of traffic to sit in."

They clear the city eventually, talking politics and heroics, pretty much the usual, and New York stretches on, increasingly suburban, increasingly green. Traffic thins. They pass Poughkeepsie.

And then Tony falls fast asleep in the passenger's seat, one knee pulled up to his chest, lolling against the window.

Steve looks at him, shakes his head, and drives on. Stops at a rest stop to ruffle his hair affectionately and stick a pillow between arm and face. Tony half-wakes; he kisses him on the forehead and hushes him back to sleep.




Steve slams the door behind him, checks to make sure the truck and trailer is tucked nicely off the dirt track. "Yeah?"

"Where the hell are we?"

"Somewhere upstate," says Steve with a shrug. He's pulling bags out of the trunk--tent, cooking things, food. He straps a bag of clothes onto Tony, slings the rest over his back.

"You look like a mule," Tony says, shaking his head slightly. Not that it's unfair, particularly; he's pretty sure Steve could carry everything and himself, not much trouble. Would just be tricky to balance. "What's that supposed to mean, somewhere upstate?"

"We get lost, we head back here and you check your GPS." Steve gestures expansively at the trailer. "In the meantime, do you really need to know?"

"How are we supposed to head back here if we're lost?"

"Are you telling me you don't have a relative position tracer for your armor on your phone thing? You, of all people?"

"Okay, fine, yes. And it is not a phone thing, it's a proprietary smart phone, about ten times cooler than a Blackberry, and how long, exactly, would it take somebody to find us if we died out here?"

Steve smiles and puts a hand on Tony's shoulder. "We have survived worse than an empty stretch of temperate forest, Tony. It's not even the Savage Land. Come on."

"Good. If there were dinosaurs, I would be turning around right now. Hang on, let me set the proximity alarm for the armor. Just a moment. Not letting anyone mess with that." He sets it to a hundred-yard radius for an alarm to his phone, starts up the program that will send it flying to him on autopilot if anybody tries to tamper with it. "What about bears?" Steve's started walking; Tony's following, looking around in the dappled green forest. "Aren't there bears in upstate?"

"I brought my shield, Tony."



Tony lets that one go too. Mostly because his money's on Steve, when it comes to bears. His money's pretty much always on Steve. Which is good right now, given that he's following him into untracked wilderness.

"Tony," says Steve after a few minutes, "take off your watch."


"Take off your watch--and if you need to know what time it is, hold your hand out. Arm's length, like so. Width of your palm from the sun to the horizon, or what you guess to be the horizon, in the woods. That's how many hours it is until sunset."

Tony measures, frowns, undoes his watch anyway. "That can't be that accurate."

"It's good enough for camping."



A mile into the woods, near a running stream in a pleasant, open spot, they pitch camp. Or rather, Steve does; he's doing most of the work, and not particularly minding. Tony's hovering, asking the occasional question, helping if he needs an extra pair of hands and gives good directions. It's about what he expected.

The questions, though, remind him of just what he likes about Tony. Why he checked the direction of the wind. How did he choose where to scrape out a firepit. Even out of his element and residually sulky, he's still trying to figure it out.

"How close can this be to the fire?" Tony asks, kicking a relatively unrotten log, as the shadows lengthen. Steve looks up from rolling a ball of tinder and grins.

"Good idea. About there. Wait. Roll it towards you."


"So that anything under it will run away from you."

"Ah. Fuzzy directional programming for snakes?"

"I'll pretend I understood that."

"See, two can play this game." He hears the log go, and then a little gasp of surprise from Tony--no fear, though. "Salamander! That was a really unnatural shade of orange. Mating display, maybe?"

Steve looks up again, surprised. Tony just looks back with a sly grin. "If Hank told you I failed bio," he says smugly, "he is a lying liar. I do know some things about the great outdoors."

"Which Hank?"

"Either. They spread horrible rumors about me. Mostly involving me failing bio. McCoy's case, it's because I said he failed engineering once, and, y'know, it's kind of a nerd dick size thing. What is it about us and biologists named Hank, anyway?"

"Never could figure that one out. So--" He's never particularly attempted to deny that Tony's brilliance is one of the most attractive things about him, and he's pretty sure he's about to trigger a ramble, but he doesn't exactly mind. "Where did you study bio?"



"Are you done?" Tony asks, twisting a long piece of grass in his hands.

"Yeah, I'm done." Steve settles cross-legged on the dusty ground by the growing fire, pokes the mess kit that's slowly roasting up some baked beans. "Camp's pitched. About time, too." He squints between trees at the setting sun.

"So," says Tony, "is this the part where we get all teary-eyed and sing Kumbaya? Because I always hated that part."

"Sing what?"

Tony laughs and chucks the grass into the fire. "There are some things you should be grateful you missed, Cap."

"We could sing, though."

"Christ on a unicycle. At least something interesting, I hope."

"The trooper and the maid," Steve says.

"The who now?"

Steve closes his eyes for a moment, as if making sure he still remembers whatever it is, and then, to Tony's utter shock, bursts out into something Irish and a little filthy and not boring at all. At least what he can make out of it, because Steve's singing in brogue, like he learned the song that way, like some people sing Beatles in Liverpudlian, which makes Tony grin like an idiot; and it's a few fast verses until he stops, a little pink. "You're staring. Am I really as tone-deaf as Nick always said?"

Tony blinks three or four times, then bursts out laughing. "Nick can stick it where the sun don't shine." Tone-deaf, no; really quite nice, burring baritone, rough around the edges. "I am, you're not--I didn't even know you could sing."

"It's been a while, I suppose."

"He kissed the daughter before the mother, Steve, I haven't heard dirtier from you in bed. Where do you learn this shit?"

Steve stares at the ground in embarrassment. "My dad. Well, my dad or the Army, but all the Irish came from my dad. Lord, it gets worse. I'd forgotten how dirty that song was. I learned it as a kid, I guess it never quite registered."

"Come on, give me another."

"I'm trying to think of one that isn't a drinking song."

"I'm not going to have an alcoholic fit if you sing a drinking song, Steve."

"Well, then--oh, this made me laugh the first time I saw that soda pop." And he starts singing something about mountain dew, which sounds a lot like something that comes out of a homemade distiller. "We'll give them the slip and we'll take a sip of that real, oh damn, we're burning the beans."

Steve yanks the pot out of the fire, which hisses and spits, and Tony almost doesn't register that it isn't part of the song.

Steve's repertoire, Tony discovers, after they eat and the evening winds on, consists of Irish drinking reels and Army marches, the stray sea chanty or union strike song, all raw and gutsy. Quieter things, as his voice tires, often mournful. War songs. Tony finds himself dozing off, curled on the bare ground by the dying fire with his head in Steve's lap, as Steve almost murmurs some old nonsense lullaby.

Tony shivers, bats at a mosquito.

"Bedtime," says Steve, ruffling his hair.

"You mean tenttime," Tony mumbles, looking up at him. The low firelight's playing over his face; beyond that it's just dim shadows of the forest in the moonlight, distant and void. He feels an odd sort of thrill, one he normally associates with being tied to other people's headboards--could be scary, but so utterly safe that it's delicious. Steve's big hand on his shoulder--that makes it okay, that he's lost in the black wilderness. More than okay, even. He nuzzles his leg, the firm bulk of his thigh, lets him nudge him up and away.

It's a good tent, Tony has to admit. Pretty pimping, as far as tents go, a big blue dome covered with mesh windows and pockets galore. It could technically sleep a large family, by tent standards; when it's just him and Steve and the shield, it's almost comfortable. Tony crawls over the jumble of sleeping bags and air mattresses, watches Steve deal with the mosquitoes that snuck in when they had the flap open by snatching them one-handed out of the air. Until Steve switches off the dim flashlight and it's freaky dark.

Tony stares into the utter blackness. "Um, Steve? Where the hell are you?"

He hears polyester murmurs, and then Steve's behind him, all the warm bulk of him, and he relaxes a little. "Can't see?"

"What, you can?"

"Very dim. Your eyes'll probably adjust."

"My eyes would rather sleep." He slept half the drive, he doesn't even know why he's this tired. Well, he's been averaging four hours a night for two weeks and this is the first downtime he's had, but that's run of the mill for him, these days; still shouldn't be this tired. "Mmm. You're a radiator. Stay there."

Steve just chuckles and spoons up.



In the morning, Steve stocks firewood and paces, and looks up wanderlusting at the crumpled pine-ridged skyline. First, though, he finds Tony.

"You going to be all right on your own?"

"Yeah, I think." Tony's only just woken up, even though it's mid-morning; he's bleary and scruffy and making a valiant attempt to brush his teeth at the stream with a water filter. "I'll call you when the bears attack."

"You do that," says Steve. Tony's nagged him into carrying a phone; it's one of the few concessions he's made. "I'm going for a walk."

"How long?"

"I don't know." He finds the big round backpack that holds his shield, checks the smaller pocket in the front for sketchbook and pencils, tightens his bootlaces. "Probably a while."

"Hold up." Tony spits, rinses madly, bumbles over with cup and toothbrush in his boxers and nothing else. "Ow, my feet. I want to file a complaint with the guy who invented pebbles. Especially the pointy ones. Should be outlawed." He plants a minty kiss on Steve's lips. "There you go. Say hi to the bears."

"What is it with you and bears?"

"They are the greatest menace facing America," Tony says, deadpan, which is something Steve vaguely thinks he's heard before, from one of those things people watch on the internet.

He leaves, picks a direction mostly at random, and heads into the woods, discreetly blazing his way with his pocketknife as he goes. Up a slope, into darker trees. Keeping a slow, steady pace, steady even over rough ground, not looking down at his feet. He learned to march without looking years ago.

He's forgotten how quiet it is, outside of the city.

The day gets warm, sunny. He strolls, and slowly, slowly relaxes. Empty forest, just small wildlife, safe as houses. He sits sometimes, on logs or boulders or ground, and sketches. Sometimes what's in front of him. Sometimes men he hasn't seen since the war.

He gets a solid ten minutes or so with a gray squirrel. He'd been sitting still long enough that it had come up, perched nearby, tail curled up to its ears and nibbling with manic speed on some unidentifiable morsel--the invisibly fast little quirks of its motion remind him a good deal of Peter. Steve holds perfectly, perfectly still and watches, until he knows which of its whiskers are white, how its paws curl on the stone, how the light catches the fur that rims its ears.

When it finally scampers, he draws it from memory.



Steve comes back with the sun two hands lower--two a half, maybe three hours, adjusting for his oversized hands--to find Tony planted on his log near the firepit, burrs all up his legs, looking very near to pouting.

Steve laughs and shakes his head. "Where did you go?"

"Happened across a meadow." Tony's sun-kissed, faintly damp, and speckled with bits of grass. "Thought it would be a good place to observe."

"Observe?" Steve plops down next to him, finds two sturdy fallen twigs, and starts using them like chopsticks to pick the burrs off Tony's jeans, flicking them into the mound of charcoal.

"Why didn't I think of that?" Tony looks distracted enough that it's probably rhetorical. He stares off into space, pliant when Steve lifts his leg to get at the burrs gummed up behind his knee. "Material possibilities. I'm not used to looking at anything so unrefined as a potential material. Huh. It's to be expected, given my background--oh, yes, to observe. I've taken about two bio classes ever, it's not my thing--still didn't fail them though--but I figured field observation would be about the best thing to do out here."

"And?" Steve's well onto his other leg by now, twisting burrs off effortlessly. "What did you see?"

"About a metric ton of bugs." Tony grins wryly. "Well, and some birds. The birds were cute. I'd make a shit biologist."

"Good thing you aren't one, then." Steve finishes with the burrs, pauses. "Tony, did you untuck your pants just now, or did you go out this way?"


"Did you go out with your pants untucked?"

"You mean, like tucked into my boots? It's not the eighties. Yes."

Steve sighs, drops the sticks into the firepit, and digs in his pocket. "Strip."


"Stand up and strip."

Tony stands with a glint in his eyes, starts unbuttoning his shirt. "Do I get to know why? Does this mean you're going to tell me to get naked more often? 'Cause it's awesome." He stops, stares at the broad, curved plastic pincers in Steve's hand. "What are those and what are you going to do to me?"

"Stand still."

"Um, Steve?"

He sees a black dot high on Tony's calf, crouches behind him, takes hold with the plastic pincers, and deftly removes the tick with a smooth, neat tug. Tony looks down and shudders abruptly.

"Oh my god I've got ticks?"

Steve crushes the wriggling black pill between fingernail and thumb and wipes the tiny smear of Tony's blood on his jeans. "That's why you tuck your pants into your boots, regardless of the decade. Don't worry, they haven't been there long."

"Oh, shit on a stick." Tony looks away, probably skywards. "I wanna go home."

"You'll be fine." Steve pats his leg soothingly. "It's out clean. I just need to see if there are any more. Spread."

"Ticks," Tony whines, but lets Steve nudge his legs apart and duck between them on his knees. "Um. Hi."

"Hi yourself," says Steve, checking up his inner thighs. He doesn't exactly need to run his hands up his legs, or crawl between his legs in the first place, but he figures Tony won't mind. Might even appreciate the demonstration that his skin is perfectly fine and not being devoured by bloodsucking parasites. He finds one that's just ambling up his leg, not settled in for a meal yet, and flicks it off and kills it.

Tony takes a long, unsteady breath as Steve, infinitely gently, strokes around his balls, back up the crack of his ass, with Steve, for one, thankful for about the first time for Tony's alarming habit of shaving his privates.

"If," Tony says, almost conversational, "there's a tick on my balls, I'm going to fucking scream. Just so you know."

"No, you're clear there."

He feels Tony relax above him. He's pressed between his legs, after all; his body's pretty much telegraphing his mood. "You were just worried about your crotch?"

"Wouldn't you be? There are a hell of a lot of things I can handle unless they involve my balls. Or my dick. Is my dick okay?"

Steve sighs, curls his hand around it briefly--and gently, as he's not much hard. "Yes, Tony, your dick is okay."

"Kiss it and make it better?"

"It is better."

"Kiss it anyway?"

"You're horrible." Steve sighs and twists up to nuzzle. It's all Tony-smell, familiar by now, with a bit of extra sweat and sun and grass. He doesn't mind, plants a kiss, goes back to work. Ducks out from under him and runs a hand down the back of Tony's calf. "Feet."

"I'm not a horse."


"That's how you get a horse to pick its feet up." Nontheless, he shifts, a little awkward with his legs spread, and raises his foot for inspection.

"And you know this how?" Steve goes for the other one.

"Dated a lot of hot polo chicks back in the day."

"Hot polo chicks."

"Yeah, it's like this whole crazy little subculture."


"What are those things, anyway?"

"What, these?" Steve holds up the plastic tick tweezers. "Easily the greatest invention of this decade. They catch them just right. Good thing I brought a pair, otherwise I'd have to burn them off."

"Burn them?" Tony yelps.

"Yup. Matches and hot coals." He almost can't help it. Making Tony squirm is really a bit too fun.

"So not my scene." Tony bites his lip and looks up at the sky again. "Any more?"

"There's one." It's lodged at the very top of his leg, where even Steve isn't quite sure whether it's technically thigh or buttocks, hiding in a shadow where he hadn't seen it before. He goes for it with the tweezers.

"Oh, right on the sweet spot, you sadist," Tony mutters. "At least that doesn't hurt much."

"Like I said, greatest invention of this decade." He gives a friendly, encouraging pat--well, maybe a bit of a slap. Normally the sort of thing he'd give to somebody's shoulder, but Tony's ass is the closest thing, and if were anybody else he'd worry that he'd mind, but, well, Tony.

"If you do that again," Tony says slowly, "I will blow you so hard you'll be seeing stars for a week."

Steve blinks and looks up. It takes a good deal of concentration to recognize exactly what Tony had said, because he really, really expected that word, in that sentence, to be punch. Or kick in the head. Or something along those lines. Definitely not that.

"Actually," Tony adds, "more about ten or fifteen more times, at least. There's a cumulative effect."

"Which is what, exactly?" Steve asks warily, easing to his feet. Tony's clear from the waist down, and probably none of the little monsters climbed the rest of the way up, but it's always good to check.

"I get horny as hell?" Tony sounds like he thinks he's stating the obvious. It's not the least bit obvious to Steve.

"Sure, but why?" He's visually checked Tony's back, shoulders, what he can see of his arms. "Arms out," he says, taking his wrists to guide him. He's pretty flush against Tony's back now, forcing his arms out spreadeagled, and slowly running his hands down them. Maybe more slowly than he has to.

"How the hell," Tony says, "am I even supposed to explain that?" His breathing's gone a bit ragged by the time Steve's reached the tender skin of his inner arms. "Pressure," he adds after a moment. "Pressure and heat. And a bit of sting. Sting is nice." Steve eases Tony's arms higher, lets him stretch and arch his back a little. "You like it when I bite you?"

Steve thinks of Tony's teeth latched into his shoulder when he's buried in him, face to face and sweating with Tony's legs wrapped around him, and the way the little sting of pain would complement the sheer pleasure of everything else.

"Yeah," he says after a moment. His hands are on Tony's chest now, sliding rough over his nipples, gentle as he can over the scars and his artificial heart. "But--I thought that was just me and my high pain tolerance."

Tony shakes his head with a soft laugh. "Oh, it's really, really not. You are such a gentleman. Bite me next time, see how much I like it."

Steve stops with his hands on Tony's hips, splayed over the tender skin of his stomach. They're very still for a long moment.

"You're clean," he says. He didn't mean for it to come out quite so--husky. He's breathing on Tony's ear. Tony's lined up against him, naked, and he can feel his heart going a little fast. "Wait," he says, realized that he missed a spot, and slides his hands back up Tony's body, up along his throat, to comb meticulously through his hair, thick and dark between his fingers.

Tony does something almost subsonic in his throat which makes him sound like a purring cat, and leans back against him, tongue darting over his lips, an unmistakable arch of his hips.

"Now you're clean," says Steve, and isn't particularly surprised when Tony rounds on him, grabs his face, and kisses him with abandon.

They come up for air. Tony's flushed a little, eyes very dark, pressed naked against his chest, Steve's hands running down his back. He reaches up, threads both hands tight through Steve's short hair, and says, in his very best bedroom voice, dripping sex, "Tell me I don't have Lyme disease."

Steve chuckles, would shake his head if Tony wasn't clinging to him. "No. They weren't on you long enough. Are you done wigging out now?"

Tony nuzzles his face close to Steve's, lets go of his hair, hooks his hands around the back of his neck instead. "I was not wigging out." His breath is warm across Steve's lips, they're that close. "Do I get to check you?"

"You didn't used to behave this way every time you were naked around me."

"That was before I knew you'd do anything about it."

He has to admit the logic of that. Also the logic of Tony's suggestion. He dressed properly, but bloodsucking insects have always zeroed in on him in particular. And, well, he tends to indulge Tony when he looks like this.

Even when Tony palms his crotch. Maybe especially when he does that. He's already hardening in his jeans. Tony looks up at him, very close, with a small, utterly salacious grin. "You'll be naked anyway. I might as well check you."



Once they get to the tent and start pawing each other like teenagers, Steve finds himself sitting with his legs splayed and Tony crawling over his lap, armful of adoring Tony like a hungry eel with the dappled light filtered strange colors through the tent, and it will never cease to amaze him just how shameless the man is. And just how much he'll happily do to please him. Like the teeth he closes cautiously in the line of his throat. Tony groans and bucks against him.

"Oh, please."

Steve lays a line of bites along his neck, holds Tony tight as he shakes happily, and, no, it really isn't just him and his high pain tolerance, is it?

He lets him go, looks at his eyes, slate blue a thin line round the drowning black, and the ecstatic cast of his face, and decides that okay, yes, he can go with this. Whatever this is. Tony knows what it is, Tony will always know even if he doesn't; his money's pretty much always on that. And the next time Tony's crawling across his lap, as they shift and kiss and nip, he gives another light slap to his very available ass.

Tony freezes and makes a sort of pleading noise.

"So," Steve says slowly, stroking his hand over the wiry swell of muscle, "I'm going to see stars for a week?" He does, after all, know enough to realize when he's been called out.

Tony takes a deep breath. "Oh god you are the most wonderful man in the the world who I do not deserve and I will buy you sesame bagels forever and please don't stop."

So, with great care and trepidation, he does the thing ten or fifteen more times with Tony almost literally bent over his knee, wondering whether to feel more like a tormenting supervillain or somebody's dad, and it's only the way it reduces Tony to a writhing, moaning mess, in the good way, that keeps him going. Tony's splayed his hands over his thigh like he's holding on for dear life, buries his face in his leg as he shakes and murmurs, "yes, ohfuck, yes."

Steve isn't entirely sure he gets it, but, well, making Tony squirm is really a bit too fun.

One falls a bit low. Tony lets out a long groan, bucks like he wants to hump his leg. "Oh, right on the sweet spot, you sadist--oh, that's a good thing." He gives a slightly loopy giggle. "Welcome to the only context in the world where that's a good thing."

Steve lets his hand rest gently on Tony's slightly red ass, because he's thinking. "Not the only," he says.


"You call me that in the gym all the time."

Tony bursts out laughing.

Steve, by way of experiment, finds out whether another smack will shut him up. It does, sort of; the laughter's drowned out with the sort of groan that he knows full well, by now, is pleasure. Like a blow feels just as good as a hand round his cock.

"I can't figure out how you're doing that, by the way," he says absently, kneading circles with his fingertips where he'd just struck. Tony's actually backing into his hand a little. "I'm hurting you."

"No you're not," Tony murmurs. "I mean, okay, yes, you are, but I like it, so it doesn't count."

He supposes he doesn't need to confirm the liking it bit. Tony's hard and hot as hell against his thigh.

"Also," Tony says, as if it followed straight on and he was having a perfectly normal conversation that didn't involve being splayed naked over Steve's lap getting, well, spanked. "Sadist was what I called you when you suggested this absurdity to begin with."

"Excuse me, I did not suggest this." Steve slaps him lightly by way of indication.

"No, I mean this." Tony thumps the camping mattress under them. "Which right now is doing me pretty well. Oh, fuck. Please, Captain, may I have another?"

"You're a lunatic."

"Good an explanation as any." Tony pants against his leg. "Please."

So, against the remnants of his better judgement, he keeps hitting him, at least until Tony howls, grabs at his other arm, turns around in his lap, eases him into position, and, true to his word, deep-throats him for all he's worth. Steve lets his head fall to the mattress with a long, low moan, the sort of noise that only Tony's mouth has ever been able to wring out of him, and, as he is so rarely accustomed to, just lets himself go. Drowns in the things Tony can do with his tongue, lets him play him and draw him out, work him up and down and shake him head to toe.

Tony goes down on him, always has, like he does very few other things--the first that comes to mind is working on his armor. Utterly abandoned, but with terrible focus and skill. Like there's nothing else in the world. And it shatters him a little, every time. He clutches at Tony's shoulder, harder than he might have, fingers digging into muscle, and Tony gives a low, guttural groan that vibrates straight through his cock.

It's their mostly unspoken arrangement that Steve pretty much gets to come as often as either of them likes, and Tony gets strung out and held back until he's all but begging, because once he goes, he's gone for a while. Because one of the side effects of his peak condition--unplanned, he has to assume, because thinking otherwise just gets weird--is the recovery rate of a sixteen-year-old boy. Tony says this makes Steve the girl. And all that means Tony does this, well, a lot.

Neither of them particularly minds.



Tony crawls up Steve's body, scrubs spit and a few stray drops of come out of his goatee with the back of his hand, and nuzzles insistently at his throat, listens greedily to his breathing as he recovers from the fierce orgasm he'd just been given, feels the leftover burn and ache in his ass and really almost doesn't dare believe that just happened, never mind in a tent in the woods with Steve.

It's been one of the most frustrating damn things this whole time. Steve with his huge presence and his utterly commanding personality, Steve with his warm voice and his big hands and his big cock, and his terrible strength, and the way he sometimes casually rests a hand in the small of Tony's back, the way he pins him mercilessly to the mat when they're wrestling, the way he bears down on him while they're fucking that leaves him utterly helpless. Steve, gentle and caring and vanilla as a fucking angel cake.

"If you don't fuck me after that," Tony murmurs into the warm hollow of Steve's throat, "I'm going to test repulsors on you for the next month."

He feels Steve's faint chuckle vibrating against his cheek. "I--yes. You want that?"

"Can't you tell?"

Steve's fingertips ghost across his skin, brush his cock, and Tony bucks into his hand. "Yeah, I think I can. But I didn't think--did you bring something?"

Miracles do, apparently, happen. In tents in the woods. Tony heaves off him a little, grabs for his pack of clothes, digs out a plentiful assortment of latex and lube. "Of course I brought things. Especially since it's going to be rough to clean up out here."

"Yeah." One of those big warm amazing hands slides slowly down to his ass, cradles the curve at the bottom, and Tony pretty much stops thinking about anything except what it's going to feel like with Steve's hips pressed into his freshly tender ass, Steve, almost too large, splitting him slowly open. Well, that and the slanting, sudden realization that he hadn't touched his laptop since they got here.




That night, Steve lies flat on his back, sleeping bag unzipped to his chest, and stares at the dome of the tent in the deep darkness, just the faint lines of smoothly arching fabric. He's lost track of time. Sort of thinks he might have dozed off, but he isn't sure.

"Steve?" comes a muzzy voice near his elbow. He jolts, pulls his legs up, ready to roll and kick off the bag and grab for his shield--

Tony nuzzles up under his arm, and the alarm bells fade.

"You sleeping?"

Steve frowns faintly, eases his head up to see the dim outline of Tony curled beside him. "Apparently not," he admits. "You?"

"I just keep waking up." Tony squirms and stretches. "Cause my back hurts."

Steve absentmindedly rubs circles between his shoulderblades.

"You didn't sleep last night either," Tony says, quieter now. "Do I get to tease you now, after all you badger me to sleep?" His tone's gentle, his breath warm against his side.

Steve can't find an answer to that. He pulls Tony closer, keeps rubbing his back.

"Steve," Tony murmurs after a while. His head's pillowed on his chest now--most of him is, really, it's not like his body weight is particularly much for him. "You're less comfortable out here than I am. Why?"

Steve stares up at the peak of the tent for a long moment. He almost wants to laugh; he forgets, a lot, how well Tony can read him. That Tony's known him for, well, this entire new life. "I was always a city boy, Tony. It was the Depression, and my family was dirt poor, immigrants, barely knew anything outside of New York City even existed. I never went camping as a kid." He's quiet for a while, just breathes, pets Tony like a cat. "The last time I camped out was in France."

"France is nice," Tony murmurs.

"In '45."

Tony tenses a little against him. "Oh. Damn. I thought..." He trails off. "Are you all right?"

Steve can't help a small smile. It hadn't occurred to him not to be. It generally doesn't, really, unless it gets to the point of people dying; he'll always be all right. "Sure. I'm not the one who started a tick farm."

"Hey." Tony pokes him in the ribs with his nose. "Why'd you drag us both out here?"

"Because camping is supposed to be fun." He takes a long breath, curls his arm round Tony's shoulders. "And I'm sick of this life taking the fun things away."

He feels Tony smile, doesn't need to see it. Feels the curve of his lips, the scratch of his beard as it shifts.

"Yeah," Tony whispers. "I get you."

"And I think some of this, at least, has counted as fun."

Tony shifts, curls even tighter around him, and makes a contented sort of noise. "All of it," he murmurs.

"Really?" says Steve, genuinely surprised.

"Well. Except for that minute when I thought I had a tick on my balls."

"Well." He's starting to think Tony really is enjoying this more than he is. How he can be so blithely hedonistic in one moment, then so--well, he's seen Tony in a bad way, seen how self-abusive he gets. He's never quite understood how both those things fit into one person, but there are a lot of things about Tony's mind that he's never quite understood. "You're liking this more than you let on."

"That and the mosquitoes," Tony adds after a moment. "Especially the one that hung out next to my ear for half an hour. And the heat. And the briars that like to grow under the grass and sneak up on you and claw your legs off."

Steve holds him tight, smells the forest in his hair, and smiles. That was more what he'd expected.

"Good times," Tony murmurs contentedly, and crawls up to straddle him, kisses him gently--forehead, cheeks, nose, finally his mouth, just a brush of his lips. "Go ahead, Captain. Enjoy yourself."

"Yeah," says Steve, a little hoarse, and pulls him down for a proper kiss.


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