It was a miserable night.
Rain lashed the windows, and the thunder rolled ominously overhead. Some would later say it was a fitting tribute to events that unfolded that day.
The man in the study was oblivious to the weather as he waited anxiously in the study for the news of the birth of his son…and it would be a son.
Sipping from his glass Howard Stark continued to pace the room, as above him the best doctor's money could buy hurried to help bring forth the heir to the Stark Empire. How long did it take to have a baby?
Irritated he just getting ready to go see for himself when a knock came. "Enter," he called barely managing to reign in the agitation in his voice.
One of the doctors appeared around the solid oak door, "Mr. Stark," he said formally before entering.
"Well?' the other man demanded no patience for this.
"Congratulations, you're a father."
Howard Stark's lip quirked ever so slightly, "The sex of the child?" he demanded turning back to refill his class.
"Boys," the doctor announced rocking back on his heels.
Nodding smugly the owner, and founder of Stark Industries paused full glass halfway to his mouth. Spinning on his heels he pinned the doctor with an intense stare.
"Boys?" he repeated belatedly.
Nodding the doctor's lips quirked ever so slightly, "Congratulations Mr. Stark, you have twins."
"Eddie this is a terrible idea," Tony fussed pushing his glasses up his nose.
"Oh my god when did you get so lame?"
Tony Stark huffed crossing his arms, as his brother rolled his eyes.
"Don't answer that you were born boring."
Done with the conversation Edward Stark swung out the window and onto the tree outside. Anthony Stark nervously watched his twin brother.
"Come on Tony, are you going to be a coward all your life?"
Huffing he nudged his glasses up one more time before swinging out to join his brother. Laughing the pair shimmed down the tree, and raced across the lawn heading for the street.
"Where are we even going?" Tony panted keeping pace.
"Claire Dennis's, it's her sweet sixteen tonight," Eddie waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
Tony sighed, "If you'd put in half as much effort into school as you did girls and parties, you'd be smarter than me."
Eddie groaned as the rounded the corner out of sight of the mansion. "No one is as smart as you brother, and I'd hate to meet the person who was."
"Happy Birthday big brother!" the jubilant voice in the other end was somewhat slurred and distorted over the spotty line.
"Happy Birthday Eddie," Tony returned, a little ashamed he'd almost forgotten today was their birthday. Time seemed to get away from him in this place.
"So we're 21 now, and that means…." His brother trailed off meaningfully.
Tony held back his sigh, he knew what Eddie was after. He wanted a promise he was coming home, his tour was up…only Tony had decided to stay on, he just hadn't told his twin yet.
"Eddie," he began gently unsure where to start.
There was a long pause of static before he heard the small voice, "You're not coming are you." It wasn't a question; he already knew the truth.
Tony closed his eyes, "No," he confirmed needlessly. The litany of colorful curses at the other end was impressive.
"Goddammit Tony you don't have to do this!" he was yelling now, "Their dead…he's' dead!"
Tony rubbed his eyes tiredly, "Yes I know," he said calmly, as his twin vented and raged.
"You have nothing to prove Tony, to anyone!"
Tony felt that familiar pain in his chest when he thought of the last time he'd seen his father alive, screaming in rage as he vowed he would disown him.
"It's not about that," Tony said, unsure he'd ever been able to adequately explain to his brother the bond he had formed with his fellow Maries. That he felt that things were simpler here, he wasn't anyone. He was just Tony.
"Lieutenant?" A voice called before his Sargent's head popped in the tent, "We leave in 5 Sir," he said and Tony nodded in acknowledgment.
"Eddie I have to go…" there was more colorful curses.
"Listen…just don't get dead ok? Promise?"
Tony was unable to help the smile that pulled his lips, "Happy Birthday little brother."
Was this what it was like to die?
Tony Stark wondered idly as he started up into the too hot sky. He chest ached horribly, and his skin blistered and peeled. He should be dead…why wasn't he dead?'
Coughing weakly he closed his dry eyes and apologized to his brother. He wasn't going to be able to keep his promise. He was going to die here alone, in this godforsaken desert. By all rights, he should have died when his squad had been ambushed. He'd just been living on borrowed time.
Grinning crookedly, he threw an arm over his eyes, at least he'd taken some of the bastards with him.
The sudden whirl of chopper blades started him from his thoughts, as surely he was hallucinating the black Huey setting down near him. Using the last of his energy he rolled to his knees staring in disbelief as a man identical to himself leaped off the chopper and ran for him.
He was still in shock as he felt tight arms around him, and his brother yelling at him over the din of his rescue. "I knew you weren't dead…I never stopped searching."
"It's goddam dangerous Tony!" Eddie Stark stood toe to toe with his brother identical dark eyes glaring at one another. Neither willing to back down.
"It's who I've become Eddie…this is what I was meant to do!" Frustrated the other man grabbed metal shoulders.
"But it's crazy! A suit made of metal? Powered by obsolete technology? I mean it's insane!"
Tony grabbed him back, not backing down.
"It's a chance to do something Eddie, to be…to be…" he trailed off.
"A hero…" his twin finished for him.
Nodding Tony squeezed him tighter, Edward searched eyes once so like his own. They were haunted and shadowed, changed by an experience he could not fathom. His brother had returned from the desert a haunted man, with the physical and mental scars to prove it.
Sighing in defeat he rested his head against his brothers, "Just don't get dead alright?"
"What the hell did I tell you!" Tony felt his helmet release as he started dazedly up at his brother.
"Don't get dead," he wheezed feeling his heart struggling to beat normally once more.
Eddie ran a shaky, bloody hand through his hair, "Yeah, remember that" he mumbled helping Tony to sit up the suit creaking ominously.
Tony sighed it was going take ages to get the dents out, "Eddie! Tony! Are you two ok?" Pepper Potts was picking her way through the rubble.
"Fine Pep," they said in unison, before looking at one another, "Jinx."
"I was so worried!" and she did look worried, dirty, and worn out.
Tony nudged his brother rolling his eyes towards her meaningfully. Taking the hint Eddie stood patting him on the shoulder. Without a word Eddie Stark pulled Pepper close, kissing her soundly.
Tony watched grinning shaking his head, "Come on, need to throw water on you two?" he teased.
Eddie took his time ending the kiss.
Blushing Pepper breathlessly smiled, "That all Mr. Stark?"
Tony's laughter trailed off as he groaned in pain.
Eddie rolled his eyes, "We better get him out of here, before the press shows up."
Nodding Tony allowed them to help him shakily to his feet, "It wouldn't go over well, after all, Lieutenant Stark died in Afghanistan."
"I'm so sorry Eddie," he whispered, trying to swallowing down his own tears.
"No," Ed replied firmly eyes liquid but dry.
Tony chuckled weakly, "There's nothing we can do Eddie, it's going to kill me…or I take it out and the shrapnel kills me."
Grunting Eddie began to pace the lab, "There has to be another way."
Tony sighed, "I've tried every possible known element, there is nothing I can replace it with."
Edward ignored him frowning in thought, "JARVIS everything we got on the arc tech."
Tony wheezed audibly, as he struggled to join Ed at the computers. His brow was furrowed as clever fingers manipulated the data with ease tossing aside this and that. Tony grinned, Ed liked to play the dumb brother but Tony knew better; his twin was just as clever as he was.
"It's unfinished tech," Ed muttered eyes narrowing in thought.
Tony shrugged, "Was until I miniaturized it and put it in my chest."
Ed wasn't listening, something had lit, "No it's still unfinished look!" He hurried away from the computer to the mess of stuff on the far side of the lab. He stood before the scale model of the original Stark Expo, working quick he pulled a render off it throwing it up.
Frowning Tony squinted, trying to process with his fevered mind.
"Look Tony look!" Eddie was manic as he pulled him close, Tony's knees buckling as they both tumbled to the floor.
His twin held his overheated body close, "Look, Tony," he whispered in his ear.
Hazy dark eyes looked up at the spinning orbs, "A new element…" he whispered in disbelief.
Edward Stark chuckled holding his twin close, "Not today Tony…" the tears finally slipped from his eyes, "You're not dying today…"
"Tony I really need those design's, I have investors meeting tomorrow, and they are not going to appreciate another…." Edward Stark trailed off as he finally caught sight of his twin.
"What are you doing?"
Tony Stark sat cross-legged before the large console screen, eyes wide behind his oversized glasses. "Did they announce some new Captain America doll?" Eddie mumbled as he strolled over.
"Action figure," Tony corrected absently, "And no something way better than that."
Curious the other leaned into his twin squinting at the screen, chuckling Tony handed him his glasses, "Stop being so vain," he teased.
Ed sniffed, "You may not care what you look like, but I have an image to uphold. Now, what the hell is this? A nature show? "
"Oh my god look!" Tony pointed to block of ice on the screen, as someone in a lab coat walked by.
Frowning Ed leaned closer… "Is that…" he trailed off eyes widening as his brain finally processed what he was seeing.
"Yes!" Tony hissed in excitement, "It is!"
Dumbfounded Eddie looked at his brother, identical features wearing a look of excitement and eagerness. "But how?"
Tony arched a brow, "How did I find out? Or how did they find him?"
Ed turned back to the screen, "Both."
"Well, one was easier than the other. SHIELD just contacted Stark Tech Securities to see if it was possible to get past their security."
Snorting Eddie raised an eyebrow, "How long did it take you?"
"30 seconds but I was eating at the same time." Laughing he handed the other back his glasses.
"So while you were in there you happened to stumble across a feed showing a block of ice with Captain America inside?"
"Basically," Tony affirmed looking back. Ed shook his head at the rapt look Tony was giving the screen, "He's alive you know," the other continued. "They're thawing him out but he's alive."
Eagerly he looked at his twin, "Captain America is alive."
Edward Stark bit his lip, suddenly very worried. Tony has always had a rather large obsession with Captain America. He owned every bit of memorabilia there was going, hell he even had a tattoo of the shield on his shoulder. If there was a bigger Captain America fan Ed did not want to meet them.
Sighing he leaned into his twin watching the feed, unable to shake the feeling that this would change everything.
Steve tried his best to not let his jaw hang open as he looked out across the bridge of this so-called Hellicarrier. He was still having a bit of a difficult time adjusting to the sheer scope of technology of this time.
"We've been working in conjunction with Stark and Iron Man to get this thing running." Fury was explaining to Banner.
Steve perked up a bit hearing the names. He had been given far too many files since he'd awoke, but the Stark family had been a familiar name that had stood out. Howard had been a friend during the war, and apparently, after the war he'd had two sons. Steve had had a hard time imaging Howard as a father to identical twin boys, but he's been very eager to meet Edward and Anthony.
Edward had taken over the company following in his father's footsteps, while Anthony had joined the military rather young, at eighteen. Steve had been intrigued; why would a billionaire's son join the military? Not to mention he'd already felt a kinship with Anthony.
He'd been sad to learn that Howard had died in an accident some time ago and that Anthony had been killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008. He held a certain empathy for Edward Stark; he knew what it felt like to lose everyone you cared about.
"Sir we have a hit…" Steve was started back into the present, and Fury was all business, "
The SHIELD Commander was suddenly looking at him intently, "You're up Cap."
Steve finally felt like he was back in his element. Catching his shield, he looked so-called 'god' over; he didn't look all that impressive. Breathing hard he gave as good as he got, he was not going to let this….
His thoughts trailed off as a blare of what he thought was music caught them off guard.
Looking up Steve watched in awe as a man in metal dropped from the sky. Firing off a warning blast he stood bristling with weapons. Straightening Steve joined him slowly, "Iron Man," he said trying to keep the curiosity form his voice
"Captain," came the fuzzy somewhat distorted voice.
"You did what?" Edward Stark stared in disbelief in at the man in metal before him.
"I fought with the mythical Norse God of Thunder."
Ed could only blink, "Are you ok?" he finally asked.
"Bruised but alive, but Eddie that's not the best part." Anthony was all but hopping foot to foot in his eagerness.
"I met him! Like the real him…the real deal! And he is way better looking than the posters and the propaganda."
Eddie pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed, "Please try not to act like a teenager with their first crush." Ed wasn't sure how he knew, but he could almost tell he was pouting behind his helmet.
"Come on, Fury wants us on the bridge," moving towards the door Edward paused, "No asking him for an autograph either."
"But I…" Anthony trailed off looking at his metal feet.
Ed relented, "Maybe after you know you guys save the world."
A breathy chuckle came from the helmet, "Ok."
The pair navigated the passages to where the others were already waiting, Tony watched as his brother almost transformed before his eyes. Turning into the impressive, genius, billionaire, playboy CEO of Stark Industries.
Tony set his shoulders falling in behind him.
"Iridium what do they need Iridium for?"
"Stabilizing agent," Edward answered swaggering into the room. "The rest of the raw materials, Agent Barton can get his hands on pretty easily."
A thought occurred to Tony, "Only major component he still needs in the power source. A high energy density to kick start the cube."
Ed turned to look at him thoughtfully, "Does he need any particular kind of power source." Steve asked curiously.
Tony instantly smiled at him behind his mask, he looked really...cute when his brow was furrowed in thought.
"He's got to heat the cube to a hundred and twenty million Kelvin just to break through the Coulomb barrier." Another voice answered.
Tony turned to study the curly-headed man, recognizing him immediately; Bruce Banner.
"Unless they've figured out how to stabilize the quantum tunneling effect," Eddie was musing.
"Well if they could do that, they could achieve heavy ion fusion at any reactor on the planet." Dr. Banner returned.
Edward was smiling and Tony was rolling his eyes, "Finally someone who speaks English."
Steve snorted, "Is that what happened?"
Tony couldn't help the giggle that bubbled up, fortunately, his voice modulator made it sound more like a manly chuckle the giddy sound of a teenager in the throes of their first love.
Still, Ed pinned him with a warning stare before turning back to the other man. "It's good to finally meet you, Dr. Banner, I'm Eddie Stark." Throwing a thumb over his shoulder he pointed to Tony, "That's my bodyguard Iron Man."
Tony waved awkwardly, "Hello."
Steve was looking at him again, and he suddenly felt the biggest loser on the planet.
"Well if the pleasantries are over I was hoping you'd help Banner find the cube Stark." Fury was interjecting,
Tony could see the eagerness in his brother as the pair hurried off, Steve moving to follow and Tony bringing up the rear as he gave himself a mental pep talk.
"This bad…" Steve muttered staring out through the hull of the ship into the wide blue sky.
"You're telling me, need to get the supercooling conductor system back online, clear out the debris-"
"Get over to the control panel and tell me what relays are in the overload position."
Tony half listened and Steve muttered his way there, as he huffed and strained to get the debris cleared out.
"Got it!" he finally called.
"Great! What does it look like?"
There was a brief pause, "Well it appears to run on electricity."
Tony grinned widely heart beating faster, "You're not wrong."
"Iron Man… that's a one-way ticket," the soft voice cut in over the frantic voice of his brother.
"I know," Tony whispered quietly as he headed for the hole in the sky. Tony turned off the com from the Hellicarrier and Eddie screaming at him.
"Sorry little brother," he said to himself as he passed into the deep fathomless space.
Gasping he watched as the nuke detonated on target, closing his eyes he fell backward. Hoping they would close that godforsaken hole…
Tony woke with a start, sweat-soaked and panting.
Shaking he ran a trembling hand through short dark hair as he tried to steady his breath, in and out, he puffed trying to calm his mind.
Six months on and it was the same damn nightmare. He almost wished he still dreamed of that godforsaken desert, or the painful ad hoc surgery that landed him his mechanical inlay…anything but the endless empty silence of space.
Rolling out of bed he padded into the bathroom, splashing water on his face. Breathing finally returning to normal he leaned on the porcelain as he looked into the mirror. Dark shadowed eyes stared back at him. It had been six months since they had saved New York, six long months since he had seen them…seen him….
They had sent Loki packing and Steve has driven off into the sunset, planning to see the country. Banner and vanished, and Barton and Romanov have returned to SHIELD. Tony had felt suddenly terrifyingly alone.
Sure he had Eddie and Pepper, he would always have them…but they had each other, and he knew a third wheel when he saw one, been one most of his life. Everyone always remembered Ed Stark, his twin laudably forgettable.
Eddie tried to include him, but there was only so much he could do in the suit. He spent most his time working and designing for Stark Industries, and far more time gaming then he should.
Absently he rubbed at his scared chest, the steady blue pulse a comforting light easing his mind. Sighing he pushed off the sink and heading for his lab, knowing he would get no more sleep tonight.
Steve sighed looking down at a scrap of paper in his hand before turning once more to the large building. Nervously he crumpled it before shouldering his bag and heading for the door.
Edward Stark has assured him that Iron Man was currently in residence, it was just…well, Steve wasn't sure what. It had been eye-opening for him seeing what had become of the America he'd remembered, and overwhelming. He has felt so utterly alone in the world.
Wanting to return to something familiar he'd called the number Stark had passed him before leaving.
"Cap what can I do for you?" the brisk voice had answered.
Steve had been taken aback, "How did…" he trailed off as the man on the other end talked over him.
"Know it was you? Have my ways, now what can I do for the Frist Avenger?"
Blushing Steve hesitated, he hadn't quite figured out what he was going to say.
"I can probably guess, need a place to come home?"
Steve huffed a relieved breath, "Yeah."
Chuckling the man on the other end continued, "Got your back Cap, you already have a place at the tower waiting for you."
Blinking in surprise Steve worried a lower lip, "Is umm…any other the others there?"
Stark was chuckling again. "Yeah Iron Man is there."
So here he stood waiting outside for he didn't know what. Maybe some sort of sign, but as he watched the people bustling around in and out of the building he realized he probably wasn't going to get one.
Taking a breath, he set his jaw, as he strode resolutely forward.
"Damit!" he cursed as his hand caught the sharp edge of metal, bright red blood welling up in the cut. Muttering he made his way across the organized chaos of his lab to the small sink rinsing and bandaging his hand. Finished he turned to head back to his work when the loud music cut out, frowning he began to pick his way across the mess again
"What gives JARVIS?"
There was a pause, "You have a visitor, Sir."
Tony paused blinking in confusion, "Eddie home?" he had been sure his brother and Pepper were somewhere in Asia negotiating another large potential global deal. He hadn't been expecting them back for a while yet.
"No Sir, it's Captain America."
Tony faltered landing hard amidst a pile of parts. "It's who?" he all but squeaked as he struggled to gain his feet.
"Captain America," the computer repeated, Tony was sure AI was laughing at him. Ignoring him hurried over to the computers calling up the video feeds around the tower. Immediately spotting the familiar broad shoulders in the elevator.
"Oh my god, it is him!"
Panic his hands shook as he quickly dialed up his brother, "Hey Tones," answered the cheery voice answer.
"Eddie!" he cried eyes darting to the approaching man on the surveillance feed, "We have a problem."
"What? What's happened?"
"Captain America is here!"
There was a beat of silence, before a muffled sound like a chuckle. "Is that all?"
Tony frowned, "What do you mean is that all?"
Ed giggled again, "Tony I invited him, he called looking for a place to stay,"
"But…but…" he sputtered as the Cap reached the door.
Eddie sighed, "Look Tones, I invited all of them to stay, Cap is just the first to accept. Be gracious yes? Show him around, be a good host. I gotta go now Pep is giving me the eye, be good Tony."
With that, he hung up, and Tony was left alone with a dial tone, and his rapidly beating heart.
"Sir, Captain America is requesting entrance," JARVIS spoke blandly startling his already overworked heart.
Tony ran a shaky hand through his hair, there was nothing else to do…he had to let him in…Eddie had promised a place for him to live, and it's not like he'd kick him to the street.
"Ok," he mumbled aloud trying to get ahold of himself, "Ok I can do this." He turned to march towards the stairs,
"Sir, need I remind you no one knows who you are…" JARVIS's voice was like a bucket of ice water.
Cursing roundly, he headed for his suit, "Let him in JARVIS tell him I'll be right there."
Steve raised a fist to knock again when the door opened inward, revealing a very empty front hall. Frowning the big blonde stepped hesitantly forward.
"Welcome Captain Rogers," startled Steve looked around from the pleasant, British voice. "Iron Man will be with you momentarily."
Steve spun looking for the voice, frowning when he saw no one, "Thank you?" he said aloud.
"You're very welcome," the voice returned, Steve narrowed his eyes wondering if someone was messing with him.
"Sorry to keep you waiting," a new, yet comfortingly familiar voice said. Steve immediately turned to face bright red and gold metal man making his way towards him.
"Iron Man," he smiled relieved.
"Captain," the other said formally in his voice modulated suit.
Steve held out his hand, relieved when metal fingers gripped his hand tight. "Please call me Steve," he watched as the faceless mask tilted, and Steve had the impression he was smiling.
"Ok Steve, let me show you around your new home."
Tony swung absently in his chair, eyes fixated on the camera feed from the gym. He tracked the strong lines of the man's back, Cap- no Steve…he had asked him to call him Steve. Tony felt the giddy little smile cross his face, and the warmth burning his cheeks. He had been glad for his anonymity at that moment.
Right now however he wished he could join him…as himself…not Iron Man. Sighing wistfully he was startled back to reality when JARVIS spoke.
"Master Stark on the phone sir," Tony sighed accepting the call.
"Hey Eddie," he said as the grinning face of his twin appeared.
"Hey, Tones how's it going with your new roomie?"
Tony huffed a laugh, "He's been here all of like 6 hours Ed."
The other shrugged still grinning, "Lots can happen in 6 hours bro, I can raise all sorts of hell."
Shaking his head Tony gave him a half smile, "I am well aware of how much trouble you can get into in a short amount of time Ed."
There was a rather undignified snort from his twin, "Pot meet kettle, anywho you tell him yet?"
"Tell him what?" Tony asked confused eyes drifting back to the security feed.
Ed rolled his eyes, "Who you really are."
Tony's gaze snapped back to his brother so fast he felt dizzy for a moment. "What? No!" he sputtered more than a little flustered and caught off guard. "Why would I do that?" he finally managed to get out sounding scandalized.
His twin calmly stared at him through the screen, "Because he would understand." Eddie said gently, and more than a little comfortingly. "Because you need someone else in your life, someone more than just myself and Pepper to share your burden."
Tony felt a rather suspicious lump in his throat as he looked away from knowing eyes.
"I can't," he finally got out feeling his body shudder.
There was a brief moment of silence before Ed spoke again, "We love you brother, always will, but think about…. I'm sure Captain America can be trusted."
Tony looked back at him, "Thanks Ed, you and Pepper have a good time in Tokyo."
Edward grinned again, once more the devil may care billionaire CEO. "Always brother, always, be safe until we get back."
With that, he was gone and Tony was all alone in the lab, the quiet hum and whir of machinery suddenly feeling oppressive. Glance once more at the camera feed he hurried towards his suit. Maybe he could find a little comfort and offer some.
Steve panted heavily, knuckles throbbing and raw, as blue eyes stared at the split bag and broken chain. It had been stronger than the bags he was used too, but eventually, it to had succumbed.
Sweat dripped steadily into his eyes, running down his neck and into his already sopping gray t-shirt. His arms and shoulders were starting to ache dully; he was tired…but not enough yet. He needed to be exhausted if he hoped to sleep at all.
Shaking sweat drenched blond hair he tried to push away those dark thoughts, the one that crept up on him when all was quiet and calm.
"Impressive Cap," a familiar voice called across the gym and Steve spun, suddenly embarrassed.
"I umm….sorry about the bags," he gestured over his shoulder, as Iron Man approached.
"Not to worry, Stark can more than afford to replace them."
Steve watched as the gold and redhead titled as Iron Man came to stand before him. He seemed almost nervous, and Steve was damned if he could figure out how he knew that.
"So…want to hit something that can hit back?" Steve felt his eyebrows climb on his forehead.
Metal hands splayed before him, "Of course."
Steve rubbed sore knuckles, could prove an entertaining distraction. Grinning Steve started toward the floor, "All right metal man…let's go."
Tony tried not to groan audibly but dammed if he wasn't hurting. Despite the suit, Steve had done a number on him.
"Drink?" Steve called looking at him from the fridge, Tony glanced over feeling his mouth go dry. Sweat soaked Steve was all sorts of good looking. Truth be told though; Tony didn't think the man could look bad if he tired.
"Ummm yeah…." He managed to choke out. Steve returned to the table with two bottles of water. Tony grabbed a straw from the container on the table and awkwardly slurped at his water.
Steve watching him intently, Tony released the straw, "What?" he asked catching the intense stare.
"I was wondering if you were going to take your helmet off," he half grinned gulping his water.
Tony felt suddenly embarrassed, "Sorry."
Steve looked at him thoughtfully again, "Sorry you didn't or sorry you can't?"
Tony hesitated, "Both I guess."
Steve hummed thoughtfully polishing off his water, "So you can't take it off."
Tony hesitated, "I can….I just….I'm just Mr. Stark's bodyguard, my anonymity is a mandatory part of my job."
Steve's look turned more intent, "I can keep a secret," he whispered softly.
Tony panicked, "Ummm thanks for the spar, and the water, but I have to go, and check the armor, recharge, something. Night Cap."
He all but bolted from the kitchen, not looking back.
Steve watched the metal man disappear feeling unaccountably disappointed, he had wanted to talk to him more. Sighing he stood, might as well shower and head to bed, tomorrow would be a new day.
The alarm woke him from a restless sleep. Sitting bolt upright, Tony felt his back protest the sudden movement. He'd fallen asleep mid-project, despite his bitter self-deprecation following his cowardly retreat from the kitchen.
The relentless blare of the siren had him running for his suit and the launch pad, Steve hurrying out as well. Shield in hand he looked a little lost, and unsure. Hurrying over Tony slung a metal arm around his waist, "Hold on tight Cap." Was all he said before he dropped them off the launch pad and into the night sky.
"Cap on your six!" Tony yelled as he rolled to avoid the blast from some yet unidentified laser weapon the rather odd looking individual wearing tights was leveling at them. He saw Steve turn quickly, fluidly catching his shield and firing it off again taking them out in one fluid motion.
Tony grinned, "Outstanding," he called.
Grinning Steve looked up, "Take another run at that weirdo?" he called gesturing over his shoulder.
Tony grinned inside his helmet "10-4 Cap."
Tony turned and did exactly that, throwing finesse out the window he went with the direct brute strength route. He pummeled the man.
Within moments the laser was broken, and the mechanical henchmen in shards as Tony stood menacingly over the now whimpering wannabe-villain. He vaguely registered Steve calling in Fury, before coming to join him, making sure the man didn't try anything.
Soon enough they were surrounded by Agents and relieved of their charge. Sighing Tony felt the adrenaline start to bleed from him, as the rather long night started to catch up with him.
"We make a good team," Steve said suddenly drawing him out of his thoughts of bed and sleeping.
"We surely do," Tony agreed giving him a pat as the turned, moving out of the way of the now bustling clean-up crew.
"What branch?" Steve said suddenly, catching Tony off guard.
"Excuse me?" he asked head cocking in confusion.
"What branch of the military were you in?" Tony felt the adrenaline rush back, how had he known? Did he know who he was? What he was? Steve was smart.
"Your language, the way you speak when we're in a fight." Steve clarified and Tony tried to relax, there were many veterans, he had no way of knowing who he was specifically.
"Ummm the Marine's…." he said cautiously.
Steve nodded, "Still serving?"
Tony slowly shook his head, "Retired."
Reaching out, he waited for Steve to grab his hand. Still a little disbelieving that the living legend trusted him wholeheartedly as Tony pulled him close and took off into the sky.
Steve sat in quiet contemplation, pencil idly tapping the blank page of his sketchbook. He hadn't been able to sleep following the fight, not that his enhanced body needed all that much sleep. Instead, his mind was working through a mystery; the mystery of Iron Man's identity.
He wasn't exactly sure why, but he found the man beyond intriguing.
He hadn't fully left his thoughts since the day he'd met him. He desperately wanted to know who was under the armor, and he'd had some guesses including thinking it was the owner of Stark Industries. However, he'd seen the pair conversing on more the one occasion, so that had ruled out that theory.
He'd toyed with the idea that Iron Man was a robot, and there wasn't a man under there at all. Through his keen observation, he'd ruled out that particular idea as well. So he was back to square one again, although he has learned a significant piece of information today…whomever it was, was ex-military.
Sighing Steve gave up on his sketching, deciding instead to stretch out and try to close his eyes. Unsurprised when his mind was filled with flashes of gold and red. Opening his eyes once more he started helplessly to the ceiling above him.
"Who are you, Iron Man?"
It was an enigma to be sure, but one that Steve fully intended to solve, one way or another.
Steve was becoming an Iron Man expert.
He has enlisted the help of JARVIS, to get an accurate timeline of Iron Man's creation, and technical specs. He'd combed through SHIELD files, very detailed files, on everything Iron Man had done since his sudden appearance in 2008. Apparently, SHIELD was just as curious about the true identity as Steve was…and they were no closer to knowing his true identity either.
It was enlightening yet incredibly frustrating.
He had been having slightly more progress living at the Tower with Iron Man. Steve had been slowly, yet surely working his way 'under the armor' so to speak. They spared every day, and Steve had been slowly but surely pulling bits and pieces of information from the other man.
Nothing telling so far, mostly irrelevant things, like favorite books (Harry Potter) which Steve had started to read. Favorite color; blue, which had been surprising for a man wearing red and gold.
He'd also learned that Iron Man had a very dry sense of humour, but a very genuine laugh. He also had infinite patience with Steve, and he was a little embarrassed to say he'd begun to exploit that particular observation.
In an effort to get Iron Man to stay with him longer he'd been feigning 21st-century ignorance. Well not completely feigned, he really didn't understand much of it. He'd been picking up things quickly, but a little white lie here and there never hurt anyone.
"So you're saying people used to call but now they do this typing thing?" Steve huffed confused swinging a right hook.
Iron Man blocked it using the momentum to flip him, "Texting, and yes nobody likes to talk to each other anymore, they'd rather type messages."
Steve tried to sweep the others legs, but Iron Man dodged with a rather well, Steve could almost feel him smirking. Clearly whomever Iron Man was, they had had advanced hand to hand combat training.
Steve flipped back onto his feet, "The more I learn, the less I like it sometimes."
Laughing Iron Man danced foot to foot, "Come on can't all be bad?"
Steve rushed him, putting the other on the defense. They didn't say any more for a long while until the fight finally ended and they both sunk to the floor tired and panting.
"Movies," Steve said catching his breath and giving the expressionless helmet a smile when it titled at him curiously.
"I like all the movies, but it's a little daunting I'm not sure where to even start to get caught up."
A throaty, distorted chuckle was his reply, "I can see that."
Steve smiled at him, "Any recommendations?"
"I've been told many times I have awful taste in movies," Iron Man laughed.
Steve couldn't help it; he was intrigued. "Oh really? How about giving me an example?"
Steve held his breath, he'd been hoping for an opportunity to get him to watch a movie with him.
"Alright Cap, let's watch my all-time favorite movie, and we'll see if you agree."
Chuckling Steve stood offering a hand to the still seated man. "Deal."
Standing the pair started walking towards the living room. "What's the name of this movie?"
Iron Man looked at him, and Steve was sure he was grinning, "Phantom of the Paradise."
Tony sighed like a lovesick teenager, which really wasn't far from the truth. Not that he really needed reminding of his current infatuation.
Steve had been living at the tower for three months, and Tony couldn't remember a more pleasurable time. They ate together, talked together, fought together when the occasion called for it. Hell Steve knew just about everything there was to know about Tony….except for one thing.
Frustrated he raked a hand through too long hair, "I could tell him…" he mumbled to the empty lab. If Captain America couldn't keep a secret then no one could. Still, that small fear niggled away in the back of his mind, what if he was disappointed with who he really was? What if Tony didn't measure up to the man under the armor?
Groaning he buried his head in his arms, wishing life was far less complex then it was.
"Ahh just the man I was looking for!" the far to cheer voice of his twin hailed across the machine cluttered space.
Tony didn't acknowledge the other, even when Ed came to stand beside him.
The silence stretched on filled with the tap of keys on his phone before he continued, "Aren't you curious why I was looking for you?"
Tony snorted, "No…it's never anything good."
His twin gasped in mock indignation. "I do not only come with bad news."
Tony's silence was telling.
"Ok whatever mopey, this should brighten you up. You're going to go to mom's gala…as me!"
Tony was sure he had misheard, there was no way Ed had said what he thought he'd said.
"What?" Tony finally looked up sure he was in a nightmare.
Ed sat down in front of him suddenly looking far too serious for his normally jovial twin.
"Look Tons, the Stark Foundation Gala is tomorrow. I 'have' to be there," he used air quotations. "However, I have a romantic evening of for two planned in the most romantic city in the world."
Tony looked at him blandly. "So you want me to pretend to be you in one place, while you wine and dine Pepper in another?"
Ed nodded eagerly patting him on the arm, "Exactly you got it. Of course, we'll have to get you looking presentable but a haircut and shave you'll look exactly like me."
Tony shook his head violently, "No way, there is absolutely no way! We haven' t done that since we were kids! What would even make you think…" he trailed off as Ed pulled out a small ring box.
His heart lifted and he looked at his twin, "Really?"
Ed opened the box revealing the beautifully cut diamond inside.
Tony looked at it close, it was understated, yet clearly costly not at all gaudy.
"Ed…" he trailed off eyes moist, heart overflowing for his twin. Now that he stopped he could feel the nervousness of his twin. There was also elation there as well.
"You see," he whispered staring down at the ring, "I planned this month ago and if I don't do it I may chicken out."
Tony sighed knowing he'd do anything to help his twin, Pepper was the love of his life. They were perfect together. He'd never find another woman who would put up with his bullshit, as well as his twins.
"Of course I'll help you."
Ed puffed relieved breath, grinning up at him "Thank you, don't know how much this means to me."
He stood grinning like a lunatic, turning to leave he paused, "Don't worry Steve is going with you."
Tony felt his heart stop.
"What?!" he all but screamed, "Why?"
Ed shushed him soothingly, "You can't be me and Iron Man, I told him I needed a bodyguard for the night because Iron Man was taking the night off."
Tony closed his eyes in pain, "He bought that?"
Eddie snorted, "Why wouldn't he?"
"Because he's Captain America!"
"That doesn't really answer the question," Ed pointed out.
Tony grunted, before dropping his head once more.
"So you'll still do it?" Ed asked quietly.
Tony heaved a sigh, "Of course I will."
Tony was regretting all loyalty to his brother as he adjusted his vest in the mirror. Ed had kindly laid out a suit for him before heading off to get Pepper for the surprise evening, His twin had always been better at throwing together an outfit.
He smoothed the blue material and adjusted his bow tie, it had been a long while since he'd dressed up, and even then it had been in his dress uniform.
Breathing deeply he exhaled, unsure why he was so nervous. He and his brother used to pretend to be each other all the time, hell they'd still been doing it right up until his last time in the desert. Growing up their parents hadn't even been able to tell them apart. They were completely identical up until Tony had got his tattoos. However, the suits hid those, and no one would be any the wiser.
Rubbing his newly cut hair a little sadly he double checked his appearance, there was no way their mother would even be able to tell. Exhaling he tried to calm himself, he needed to be his brother after all. It was easy to look like his twin it was another thing entirely to act like him.
He had to be confident, suave, and act like he owned the world…. Snorting he shook his head, "Be a giant dick basically…"
"Sir, Captain Rogers is waiting."
Tony nearly came out of his skin, "Right, right…" he mumbled squaring his shoulders. "Time to be Mr. Stark."
Moving out of his bedroom he straightened his spine, hoping he still had what it took to be his brother.
Steve straightened his lapels, smoothing the front of his dress uniform. He'd been a little surprised, to say the least when Mr. Stark, Ed, as he insisted he be called has asked him to his escort for the fundraiser gala. Stark was usually in the company of Ms. Potts, and his bodyguard Iron Man.
"Really?" Steve looked up from his book, making sure he was understanding the billionaire's request "What about Iron Man?"
"Well, even superhero occasionally needs a vacation." The man ginned winningly and Steve nodded in understanding.
"Yes, of course, will Ms. Potts he joining us?"
Ed was already back on his phone, "Unfortunately Ms. Potts has an important prior engagement to see too, so it'll just be the two of us." He looked up from the screen for a brief moment smiling widely, "Guys night out as it were."
So here was Steve two days later, fussed up and ready as he could be for the night out.
"Sorry to keep you waiting for Cap," a familiar voice has him turning towards the stairs as the figure quickly descended.
"Not a problem," he said as he watched the man approach. Unable to help but notice how handsome the man looked in his tailored, no doubt very expensive suit. Edward Stark did have an undeniable appeal, only…Steve felt himself frowning, something was off. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but Edward Stark was a little different tonight for whatever reason.
His confusion must have shown because suddenly warm hazel eyes were looking at him intently.
Steve blinked, feeling a smile creep across his face. "Yeah, just a little nervous without my shield."
A genuine smile spread across the man's face, making Steve feel suddenly warm and fluttery in his chest.
"I know the feeling."
That single genuine smile was the only one that Steve saw that night. He tried to stifle what had to be his hundredth yawn of the evening as he did his best to shadow Stark around the room. The man seemed to move with single-mindedness as if he was determined to get through everyone as quickly as possible.
Often eavesdropping Steve listened as he spoke with passion and understanding when it came to the struggles of veterans. It almost like he had intimate knowledge of it, something Steve had found surprising initially, but then realized that his brother has served in the military…had died serving, of course, he would have an understanding.
A lull in the schmoozing had Steve standing next to his charge as Stark sagged against the wall looking suddenly very tired and drained.
Concerned Steve leaned closer speaking softly, "Want to sneak out of here?"
Chuckling the man leaning against the wall closed his eyes rubbing his face. "Love to…unfortunately he'll be mad if I left early," the man mumbled.
Confused Steve, leaned next to him, "Who will be mad?"
For the briefest of moments, he thought he saw panic in the man's eyes. "Umm…Iron Man…he feels very strongly about veteran support. Ah! I think I see the mayor."
Steve nodded allowing the man to escape, but he tucked the information away. Something was defiantly off about Stark tonight.
Tony wanted to kick himself.
He was not all that sure that Steve was buying that he was Ed. The man was far too smart for his own good. Glancing sidelong at the large, handsome blonde trying to blend into the crowd, Tony couldn't help but sigh. He was far too handsome to blend into the crowd.
Despite his worry about Steve though the others seemed to have no problem believing he was his twin. Then again everyone here was rather vapid and shallow. He had managed to talk many of these rather self-serving people into donating a rather substantial amount to the Stark Veterans Fund much to his satisfaction.
He was almost home free; Tony was starting to plan their escape before he said something else stupid to Steve. Moving towards the door to caught Steve's eye motioning towards the far side, as he tried to act calm and collected when suddenly the voice across the room stalled him out.
"And we, of course, have Mr. Edward Stark to thank for this wonderful party tonight!'
Tony froze, suddenly feeling all eyes on him as the room rippled with applause. Cursing under his breath he turned, plastering his plastic smile on as he casually waved to the room.
"Speech!" someone yelled, and Tony was suddenly gripped with terror.
He was being called and his traitorous legs were carrying him towards the stage. Breathing harshly, he felt the sweat gathering on his forehead as he tried to stay calm.
Reaching the microphone, he smiled as winningly as he could, "Thank you so much for all your wonderful support. I know all your charity will be going to a wonderful cause."
Tony had no idea what he was saying, he just kept talking.
"It is important that we recognize the sacrifice, and courage of the men and women who serve our country."
He continued watching as the eyes in the room followed his every move. He rambled on a few more minutes, not even really paying attention to what he said, he just sort of trailed off, and the room erupted in applause. Tony nodded and waved making good his escape, somewhat disconnected from himself.
Adrenaline was thrumming through him, and he couldn't help but feel his hands trembling.
Steve joined him when he was once more in the crowd, humbly accepting the congratulations.
"Very nice speech, Mr. Stark," he said appearing at the man's side.
Tony couldn't help but shiver deliciously with his voice so close to his ear. Nodding his thanks, he smiled trying to seem in control when he was clearly not.
"Think I've done enough damage here…" he mumbled making his way resolutely towards the exit.
Tony didn't stop until he was outside in the cool evening air. Heaving a sigh of relief, he finally felt the nervousness bleeding from him. Steve was at his side in an instant.
"Home?" the big blonde asked.
Tony glanced at him, "Not yet feel like a walk?"
Steve offered him a sweet smile, "Lead on."
Grinning Tony strolled into the night, Steve Rogers at his side. His chest felt tight, and his stomach fluttered, how long had he imagined this? Had hoped for this?
Sighing softly, he allowed himself to imagine that Steve knew…that he had no secrets from him.
That Steve would accept him.
Tony hummed, a smile playing about his lips. The night replaying over and over in his mind, every soft word, every shy smile…
He jumped his phone buzzing glancing at the number he grinned wider.
"So?" he answered without preamble.
"Well…." He heard the quiver in his twin's voice, and his heart fell.
"She said yes!" he breathed the quiver getting worse.
Tony jumped up pumping the air, biting his lip he held back tears. "Well, no accounting for taste."
Ed gave a watery chuckle, "No kidding."
"So when's the big day?" Tony knew he was grinning like a loon.
"Calm down we only just got engaged, I'll fill you in later."
Chuckling, Tony shook his head, "Sorry, sorry! Congrats, and give Pep a kiss for me."
Tony bit his lip looking at the silent phone, he was genuinely happy for his twin. But he couldn't quite help but feel a little jealous. It was official now, he was alone.
His twin didn't need him anymore.
Suddenly he had to get out, the lab felt like a prison. A prison for a man who as far as the world knew died years ago. Chest heaving, he hurried blindly towards the rooftop not stopping until he felt the cool breeze and could see the night sky taking deep gulping breaths.
His eyes felt hot and dry, as the words he'd been holding close to his heart tumbled out, "I'll never have that," he mumbled, heaving a shaking breath.
"Never have what?" A voice said from the darkness, startled Tony turned, Steve stood just outside the door, hesitant and unsure.
Tony, tried to collect himself, wiping his eyes, and trying to emulate his brother's devil may care smile.
"Ahhh nothing," he hurried to assure Steve, more than a little embarrassed at being caught.
"Didn't sound like nothing," Steve took a step forward slowly, carefully.
Tony looked away, trying to come up with some sort of lie. The heaviness in his chest making words difficult to get out.
"It sounded very lonely," Steve sounded closer now and Tony could see his bare feet come into view.
"Noo…" Tony stuttered past the lump in his throat, "I'm fine," but even to his own ears the assurance fell flat.
Suddenly there was a hand on his shoulder and Tony felt compelled to look up, "It's alright not to be ok," the words went right to his battered, mechanical heart.
Tony was lost in those blue eyes, all his isolation, and loneliness bubbled up in his chest. No one save his brother and Pepper knew he even existed…. but not living.
He wanted to feel alive.
Without thought or reasoning, he was leaning forward, world slowing to a crawl as callused hands lay flush to the t-shirt covered chest of Captain America, and chapped, well-chewed lips pressed firmly to Steve's.
If his heart stopped now, he would die happy.
Lips moved against his and Tony melted feeling strong arms come around him. The moment stretched on, and Tony was happy to let it. Wishing for a heartbeat this could be frozen in time, that he didn't have to face the world that he could just be here.
When the sounds of the city intruded, and reason returned with unpleasant clarity.
What the hell was he doing?
Abruptly he ended the embrace, horrified by what he'd done. "I-I…." he stuttered, sure he looked like a deer caught in headlights.
Steve still had his arms wrapped around him, "It's ok," he began but Tony was in full panic mode.
"No I shouldn't have…" he trailed off backing away from the man, Steve was so caring and there.
"I have too…I have too…." Breathing hard he turned and fled, not stopping until he was locked back up in his lab.
Knees weak he slid to the floor eyes suspiciously moist.
"Should I call Master Ed Sir?" Jarvis cut through his thoughts, it was on the tip of his tongue to say yes but he swallowed it down. Ed was no doubt spending time with his new fiancé.
"No, I'm fine" he managed to choke out, rising his knees to rest his head on as he took deep gulping breaths.
What the hell had possessed him to that?
Steve lay in bed mind churning, the evening replaying again in his mind. The night had been…well, it had been something.
He hadn't ever dreamed he would be kissing Edward Stark on the roof. He hadn't intended to at all…but he'd looked so broken, so venerable… so lost.
It had touched his heart and spoke to him in a way he'd never felt before.
Suddenly he'd had him in his arms, and the moment had felt so right, and kissing him so so natural…Steve hadn't even thought about it.
Sighing he stared unseeing at the ceiling above his bed. He had felt something was different tonight, but he couldn't quite put his finger on.
Something had happened, something had changed…and he couldn't regret it.
"Iron Man behind you!" Steve called as he caught his shield.
"Got it!" he heard over the com's before he twisted through the air. The lumbering mechanical beast plodded onwards towards the city as Iron Man and Captain America valiantly tried to bring it down.
Some mad genius with too much time and little moral compass had decided that world domination had seemed like a good idea. Iron Man and Cap were determined that would not be happening.
Despite their intent, it took the better part of a day to finally stop the machine, and catch the would be an evil villain.
It was a tired, sweaty pair that stood side by side watching the sunset over the city, as SHIELD agents descended to work like a well-oiled machine. Tony heaved sigh adrenaline bleeding from his tired frame, as he felt every sore and achy muscle.
"Well Cap time to head home?' he turned to his companion trying his best to seem natural and not at all like they had made out on the roof only three days ago.
Tony turned to look at his companion when he received no answer, "Earth to Cap? You with me?" he waved a metal hand in front of faraway blue eyes.
"What? Sorry?" he blinked and looked at him.
Curious Tony narrowed his eyes in concern, "You ok Cap?"
He could see the emotions cross his broad honest face, confusion, sadness, resignation, Tony tried to follow them all.
"I'm not sure," he finally replied, before turning to face him fully, "Iron Man, can I ask you something?"
Tony could feel the first stirrings of misgivings. "Sure," he managed through a suddenly dry throat.
Blinking Steve looked around before he shook his head, "Not here back at the tower."
Mechanically Tony wrapped a metal arm around him as the took off towards home. His dread growing by the moment.
By the time they had touched down on the tower, Tony had worked himself up so much so Jarvis was concerned about his somewhat dodgy heart. Trying not to drop Steve, he couldn't help the stumbling landing as they got to the tower.
"Whoa," Steve caught his balance gracefully and Tony stumbled forward ready to hit the floor when big arms caught him easily. "You ok Iron Man?"
Tony tried to calm his racing heart ignoring the flashing warning lights in his helmet.
"Fine, fine," he assured him, swallowing as he straightened up.
"You umm…. wanted to ask something?' he managed to get out, unable to stand the suspense any longer.
Steve nodded, worrying a lower lip, crossing his arms in thought. "I wanted to, if it's ok, ask you about your boss."
All of Tony's nightmares were coming to fruition.
"Oh yeah?" he asked trying to be casual.
"Yes, ummmm…you and Mr. Stark are pretty close?"
Tony nodded, mentally screaming in his head.
"I was just wondering if he mentioned anything about the other night, the night I filled in as a bodyguard." His voice sort of trailed off quietly.
Toy thought fast in his feet, "He said he had a really good time."
Steve gave him a half smile, "That's good, I just hadn't seen him and I was wondering…." He trailed off again looking more confused than ever, and Tony felt his heartbreak.
"Did something happen Steve?" Tony asked, wincing as his name slipped out.
"No, no…well yes, but it's really between me and Mr. Stark," he gave Tony a tight smile.
"Thanks for being a good friend."
He gave Tony a pat and headed towards his quarters. "See you later," he called and Tony waited until he disappeared before he collapsed.
Panting on his hands and knees, he barely felt the mechanical arms freeing him. Sweaty, chest aching he lay on the cold tile of the landing pad.
His mind hadn't stopped spinning since he'd fled the roof three days ago. He wasn't sure how long he lay there, unable and unwilling to move.
It was finally the voice of his brother that roused him.
"Tones? Jarvis said you wer- TONY!" he all but bellowed, "Oh my god Tony are you ok? Are you hurt?"
Tony felt his twin beside him pulling him close, groaning Tony wrapped a reassuring arm around him. "I'm ok, a little stiff."
Snorting Ed sat with him half laying on his lap, "I can imagine, the cold floor would make anyone stiff."
Chuckling Tony leaned into the embrace of his twin feeling better. Long moments of silence past before Edward broke it. "What has you so upset?" he asked softly.
Tony frowned, he sometimes hated how they could figure each other out so easily.
"I did something stupid," he confessed closing his eyes, trying not to remember those sad blue eyes that had walked out.
Tony eyed his brother sourly, "Remember the other night I pretending to be you, while you were purposing?"
Ed nodded, "Of course."
Tony cleared his throat, "I may have kissed Steve…"
A dark brow arched, "Really? That's great does he feel the same?" Ed looked so excited for him.
"Well…umm…..small problem, he thinks I'm you."
Ed blinked at him, "What?'
Tony groaned covering his face, "He still thinks I'm you, he doesn't know…"
Now it was Eddie's turn to groan. "Tony…" he began,
"I know! I know…"
"Well, you need to make it right because the announcement is going public tomorrow."
Tony blinked up at him.
"And it's not going to be good when he thinks the guy who kissed him announces his engagement to a woman."
Tony sighed, "I know…"
Ed pulled him close, "How do you get into these messes?"
Tony sunk into the embrace, "I dunno…making up for missed time?" he returned thinking about their childhood, "You got into enough for both of us."
Ed snorted, "Younger brother's job, and stop changing the topic you are going to tell Steve who you are, and then tell him you love him."
Tony blinked, "I will?"
"You've had a thing for Cap since we were kids," his twin said matter-of-factly.
"He was a war hero, " Tony defended.
Ed rolled his eyes, "Tones you totally have a type, and Steve is the type."
Tony really had no argument there, "Why are you here?" he asked changing the subject,
"Pep wanted to invite you over for dinner, but that will have to wait because you need to talk to Steve."
Tony groaned, "Yeah, I will."
Sighing Ed descended the stairs, running a worried hand through his hair. He knew his twin, a blessing and a curse, they knew each other better than anyone had right too. Ed knew just how close he was…Tony was at the tipping point, and Ed hoped to hell he would be ok.
Having helped his brother to his room to shower and collect himself he was headed back to his fiancé, giving Tony all the time he needed.
"Mr. Stark?" he was stalled out by a familiar voice just steps from the door.
He winced internally he'd been so close; "Cap," he said cordially turning to face the man.
"I umm…wanted to talk to you."
Ed cursed under his breath he had hoped to escape before something like this happened.
"Oh?" he tried to remain calm, assuring himself that he could talk himself out of this.
"It's about the other night, I wanted to ask…" he trailed off stepping a little closer.
Ed immediately wanted to step back, but he consciously held his ground.
"Ask what?" he spoke softly, working on a way out.
Suddenly Steve was there, clasping his hands firmly, "If it meant something," gently as he pressed their lips together.
Ed was shocked, but before he could push the other man away Steve was pulling away from a frown on his face.
"I'm…I'm sorry…" he said looking confused as he backed away.
Ed barely managed to collect himself, the shock was still running through his system.
"It's ok?" he managed to wheeze out, but to his ears, it sounded more like a question.
"I thought…" Steve started but he looked more confused than ever, "I ummm…sorry again." he turned abruptly leaving a shaken Ed standing in the foyer.
Taking the out Edward stumbled into the elevator finally managing to collect himself, but he was almost to his car before the then pieces fell into place. He finally understood why the Cap had looked so confused.
He stopped dead keys in hand, "He knew," he said a slow grin crossing his face, "He knew it wasn't me."
Laughing Ed shook his head sliding into his car, "Steve can tell us apart."
Chuckling, he started the car and gunned the engine, not even their parents had been able to tell them apart.
Up in the tower, Tony was gathering his courage. His brother had been right he needed to come clean. Showered and dressed he headed for the door.
"Jarvis where is Steve?"
The AI replied quickly, "He's left the Tower Sir, shall I inform you when he returns?"
Tony frowned, he was curious why he left, but he didn't think he'd be gone long.
"Yeah sure," he replied to the AI thinking he'd just lay down for a bit and wait for Steve to get back from wherever he went.
Steve gunned the motorcycle across the city, more confused than ever. He'd kissed Stark again…but it wasn't the same.
It had been like kissing a stranger.
None of the warmth, the butterflies, the lightheadedness that he'd felt the other night. He couldn't get his mind around it.
What had changed?
Tony woke bleary-eyed and stiff to Jarvis announcing the return of Steve. Confused Tony glanced around, neck protesting the movement. The sun was already well up and he felt terrible.
Stumbling into the bathroom, he winced at his reflection his chest and back was a mass of bruises. "Ouch," he muttered, he didn't realize he had taken as bad a beating as he had.
"Sir, you have a meeting this morning."
Tony groaned, he really didn't feel like going. "What kind of meeting?"
"New technology in the field."
Wincing Tony shook his head, not today. He was in no mood to sit in a meeting, listing about the technology he'd invented be explained to Fury. Especially when he really wanted to talk to Steve…
Gasping his head snapped up, he'd forgotten, "Steve! Where is he, Jarvis?"
Pausing to shrug on a hoodie Tony hurried to the kitchen, all but running into the room he saw the broad back immediately.
"Steve!" He started a little out of breath, his chest still aching. He saw the broad back stiffen, "Steve?" he stepped forward cautiously suddenly conscious of the tension.
Slowly Steve turned, a newspaper in hand, "I guess congratulations are in order," he said softly.
Tony frowned, curiously glancing at the headline, Billionaire Playboy Finally Settles Down.
Tony felt the colour drain from his face, "Wait, Steve, I can explain," he rushed out, but blue eyes refused to look at him.
"Nothing to explain, you're getting married."
Tony hurried on, "No, I need to explain…" but Steve was already walking away. "Please Steve," he saw the broad back hesitate.
"We have a meeting…" he said softly before continuing on.
Tony's heart felt as if it' been ripped from his chest. Dazed he headed for his lab, trying his best not to break down entirely…he'd really fucked that up.
Safely locked in his lab he shakily texted his brother;
Not feeling well, sending in remote armor for the meeting.
He watched the bubble as his brother typed a reply.
Tones what happened?! Why are you so upset?
Sniffing he wiped moist eyes.
Will explain later.
There was a long pause before his brother replied.
I will be over as soon as the meeting is over.
Tony tossed his phone aside slumping into his chair, feeling utterly sorry for himself. He'd completely ruined any chance he'd had.
Steve's mind really wasn't in the meeting, he could barely meet Stark's eyes. He'd made a fool of himself yesterday, and to top it off Iron Man had barely said two words to him before the meeting, He really didn't want to be here. Listening to Stark and Fury arguing over tech yet again.
He glanced around the fancy conference room, anything to avoid catching Stark's eye. They'd meet at Stark Industries today, as they were supposed to be seeing some of the newer tech that was supposed to help them in the field.
Resigned to a long, uneventful morning he sighed internally looking down at the table, he just wanted to go home to bed and sleep.
Sleep was a lot less complicated.
Tony sat moping in his lab, he lacked the motivation to do anything.
"Should just go back to bed," he mumbled heading towards the doors.
Maybe his nightmares would leave him alone for once, a self-deprecating smile crossed his face as he dragged his battered body to the doors.
He'd just reached the double doors when his world exploded.
Steve was still working on an excuse to get out of the meeting, it wasn't often he missed his sick, skinny past self, but it was a great excuse to get out things he hadn't wanted to do. He figured though no one would really miss him today, he had just cleared his throat, and all eyes turned towards him, including Stark's.
"Something to add Cap?" Fury queried mildly, Natasha and Clint across the table looked at him curiously.
"Yes, umm…" he began only to stall out as the metal helm turned towards him as well. He opened his mouth to try again when a sudden tremendous boom interrupted him, showering everyone in glass.
Steve was immediately on his feet reaching for his shield, as black-clad figures dropped in through the broken windows. Turning he was about to throw his shield when he felt electricity rip through him. Wincing he dropped to his knees, not a normal stun gun.
Shaking his head, he was on his feet again, when a gravelly, confident voice stalled him.
"I wouldn't Captain."
He turned hearing the gun cock, internally cursing when he saw it pressed tightly to an extremely pissed Edward Stark's temple.
Steve's blue eyes immediately looked to Iron Man, he hadn't moved.
"Have a seat Cap…" the man said again, and Steve slowly returned to his chair, his frustration no doubt mirrored on the faces of Clint and Natasha as well.
What the hell was going on?
Tony groaned, "Sir!" the voice was an unwelcome noise in his pounding skull.
"What the hell?" he choked out looking around dazed. His lab was a smoldering ruin.
"Holy fuck…." He mumbled staggering to his feet, leaning against the large concrete pillar that had no doubt saved his life from the brunt of the explosion.
"Jarvis talk to me," he rubbed his face, wincing into his bloody knuckles.
"It would appear a recent parcel received from Stark Industries was a remote bomb."
Tony raised an eyebrow, "We didn't catch that earlier?"
Jarvis was rather bland in his reply, "These things are usually caught at SI."
His head and rest of him hurt too much for this.
"At least it was only me here, everyone else was at that meeting," he mumbled rubbing his temples.
"Problem sir," Jarvis continued, a flickering screen lit up showing a spotting feed from the Iron Man helmet.
"…if everyone stays calm, and follows orders we will be fine."
An unfamiliar voice was saying, Tony blinked, he could see Steve looking angry beyond belief, and his brother…. had a gun to his head.
"Jarvis I need a suit!" he hurried to work around the debris. "Unfortunately sir none are operable at the moment."
Tony was pissed he needed to get to SI now, his brother, Steve, and the others were being held, hostage.
"Sir incoming call from Ms. Potts."
Tony grunted as he ran to the other end of the lab pulling out his footlocker.
"Tony!" she yelled, and he could hear sirens in the background.
"Pep you ok?" he paused in movements,.
"I'm fine, I'm out of the building, but Tony they have Ed!"
"I know Pep," he could hear the quaver in her voice.
"Please," she was on the verge of breaking down.
"Stay safe Pep I'll get him out."
Hurrying he ripped his torn, and dirty t-shirt off. It'd been a long, long, time since he'd donned this gear…not since Afghanistan. Shaking off the memories he focused on the task at hand, lives were on the line.
Dressed he moved to a hidden compartment in the lab he pulled out a veritable armory loading as much as he could before pulling on a balaclava and heading to the garage.
"Hold on," he whispered kicking his motorcycle to life and speeding towards SI.
"So what is it you want exactly, money? Weapons?" Stark sounded bored like he'd been in this situation a million times. Steve wanted to shush him, but he knew he might as well wish for a miracle.
The man with the gun dug it deeper into his hostage's temple, "Sounds tempting, Mr. Stark, but we're here for him." He gestured to Iron Man still standing sentinel, unmoving.
Steve glanced to his friend, wondering why he hadn't done anything. He hadn't even moved.
"Electromagnetic burst, devastating to windows and electronics," the would-be terrorist mused, almost as if he knew what Steve was thinking. He gritted his teeth at the smug look the man was giving him.
They were interrupted then as more black-clad men entered large guns at the ready, faces obscured by balaclavas. "Locked down sir," one said in low tones, "Men at each entrance."
Nodding the 'leader' as Steve was beginning to think of him as, turned back to them.
"Well, Mr. Stark, as much money as you no doubt have, there are others just as wealthy, who are willing to pay men like me ridiculous amounts of money to bring them the head of Iron Man."
With that, he nodded to one of the other men who hurried towards the machine. Gloved hands reaching out for the helmet. Fingers curling around the helm a sudden incessant beeping stalled the activities.
"Breech Sir, sub-level one."
Steve perked up, was it SHIELD? Maybe Fury had a panic switch. The leader nodded his head towards two of the men as they hurried out of the room.
Steve sat tight, he needed to wait for the right moment.
It was funny how quickly it all came back to him. He hadn't held a gun since his last tour in the desert, but it rested in his hands like an old friend. He moved silently down the eerily lit hallways. The flickering of emergency lights didn't bother him, he knew the building well. Hell he'd helped design it
He moved like a shadow, silent, and stealthily. He had only seen one hostile so far, and he dealt with him swiftly. Now as he moved upwards, he braced himself for more. He heard the elevator ding and paused, waiting as two exited.
Melting back into the shadows he waited, breathing slow and measured. Silent he paused waiting until his moment came. Fluidly, he raised his weapon and dropped the two with well-placed shots. His booted feet headed to the elevator. Hitting the top floor button he hurried out to the stairs and began his ascent.
"Johnson, Smith?" the radio crackled but nothing back static returned.
Steve looked up curious, fingers inching towards his shield.
"Elevators coming up Sir," one of the men said.
Steve watched the leader carefully, watching as his hand flexed on the gun nervously. Blue eyes dropped to Stark, the man seemed calm and collected.
"Go," he said head gesturing towards the door. Several of the men left the room then, and Steve could see Natasha and Clint shifting imperceptibly.
The leader was clearly distracted.
The room was utterly silent before suddenly the lights went down, and the emergency strobes kicked on. Steve grabbed his shield aiming for the leader. Clint and Natasha quickly following suit.
The skirmish in the board room was quick and ill-fated.
Angry that all was not going to plan, the as of yet unknown terrorist leader fired a single round into the shoulder of his hostage.
All movement in the room halted, and Stark grunted in pain, his confident demeanor fading as he clutched his bleeding wound.
"Sit or I shot him in his knee cap next."
Steve held up his hands in a placating motion, "No need to, we'll sit."
He assured him and the others following suit wearily.
"Stark you ok?" Steve asked never taking his eyes off the clearly unsettled man holding the gun.
"Peachy," he gritted out through clenched teeth.
Outside they could hear the rapid rattle of gunfire, followed by a brief cry and sounds of a scuffle, whoever it was, knew what they were doing.
Tony knew the instant his brother was hurt. A dull, persistent throb began in his shoulder, one that had not been there before. He had to move.
Men lay scattered about the room, the emergency lights casting eerie shadows across them. Hurry towards the conference room he dropped a smoke grenade masking his movements.
A silhouette appeared in the door, a man with a gun to his brother's head, "Show yourself a friend, or I put another bullet in him."
Tony gritted his teeth, "Don't do it!" his twin's voice rang out, trailing off with a whimper of pain as the man holding the gun grabbed his shoulder harshly. Cursing under his breath Tony dropped his gun sliding it towards the man.
Grinning the man holding the gun stepped back into the room, "Join us won't you?"
Tony raised his hands slowly stepping forward.
Steve watched as the unknown man entered.
One of the waiting terrorists grabbed him, harshly stomping the back of his knee, forcing him to the ground.
Steve studied the newcomer, still wondering just who was saving them. He wore fatigue pants and a black t-shirt. He also wore a black baseball cap and a balaclava with a grinning skull printed on it.
Was it a vigilante?
"Well, you've been a lot of trouble," the leader said, but Steve was focused on the man on the floor.
"Sir, transport is 5min out."
Nodding the man gestured to one of his underlings. "Time to end this, open up the armor let's get what we came to get."
Hurrying over the man grabbed the helmet, tugging and pulling, but the helmet remained stubbornly closed.
"How do you open it?" he asked Stark twisting the gun in his wound.
"Latch, at the neck."
The man on the floor spoke, voice soft.
Grunting the man fiddled a minute more before there was an audible click. Steve sucked in a breath as the helmet clicked off revealing...nothing.
Surprised he felt his eyes widen, the leader was more vocal in his surprise.
"What?! Where the hell if the fucking piolet?"
Stark chuckled, "What piolet?" he said with a lopsided, painful grin.
Annoyed the man cocked the gun pressing it into Stark's knee cap. Steve was half out of his chair when the man of the floor called out.
"I'm right here."
The man pulled the gun back ever so slightly, "You?"
Steve looked to the kneeling man curious despite himself.
"No!" Stark said at the same time.
"Yes!" the unknown man said firmly, the leader of the terrorists nodded, and one of the men reached forward intent on pulling off his balaclava.
The man on the floor managed to move faster than Steve thought possible. Fluidly the man deftly stripped the would-be terrorist of his gun.
Steve had stood as soon as the man sprang into action, but not fast enough the terrorist was already leveling the gun at the unknown man.
Steve watched as Stark threw himself into the man throwing off the shot, but it still took the man in his shoulder. Grunting in pain he turned to the terrorist.
Steve didn't give him a chance. He hit the man with his shield dropping him fast, the others too springing into action.
"Tasha, Clint, get to that transport, I'll get medical and SHEILD here." Fury followed his agents out of the room.
Steve turned to help Stark, but the unknown man was already there.
"Eddie, you ok?" the muffled voice asked.
Steve moved to help them when the unknown man pulled his balaclava down, "Hard to talk in that damn thing."
Steve was suddenly seeing double.
"That was a dumbass thing to do Ed."
"Pot meet kettle."
Steve was having a hard time processing. There were two of them…two Starks.
"Touche," the one in fatigues said.
Edward Stark? poked the bullet wound in the other's shoulder, "Copying me again Tones?"
"I was getting shot before it was cool."
Steve finally caught up, "You're Anthony Stark!"
Identical dark eyes turned to him, and identical smirks cross identical faces.
"Stark," they said in perfect unison.
Steve needed to sit, "But you died…" he said in a small voice.
Anthony Stark shrugged, "Rumors of my death were greatly exaggerated?"
Steve ran a hand through already wild hair, "I have so many questions," he began. Anthony was shaking his head, holding a finger to his lips as he pulled the balaclava back up.
Steve nodded, still trying to work through the startling realization that had just occurred; Anthony Stark wasn't dead…he was Iron Man.
It was a whirlwind of activity as SHIELD arrived along with medical and sobbing Pepper who fussed around as Eddie was checked out, and strapped to a gurney. Tony helped get him loaded onto the ambulance, Pepper at his side. Ed threw him a thumbs up, and Tony closed the doors tapping the doors.
The streets were full of people, held back by the police and caution tape. In the commotion no one noticed Tony slip back into the building. He had to collect his armor. No way did he trust SHIELD with it.
Weary he poked at the bloody hole in his t-shirt as he took the service elevator back to the boardroom. The bullet had just grazed him, Eddie's wound while not life-threatening, was worse, and he was sure his twin wouldn't let him forget it.
Reaching the floor, he stepped off towards the boardroom, the bodies had been cleared out, and no doubt moved swiftly to the SHIELD headquarters. Wearily he made a quick detour to Ed's office to get his emergency tool kit.
Box in hand he reached the dark boardroom, he could see his armor standing silent sentinel. The floor was quiet and empty, as he pulled his balaclava down. Damn thing was hot
Reaching for the armor he felt his heart jump when a voice spoke from the darkness. "I figured you'd be back."
Tony jumped a foot in the air, it was Steve sitting shadowed at the table, "I made sure no one touched it."
Tony had a sudden urge to run.
"Thanks," he managed through his terribly dry throat as he turned to focus on the suit,.
Suddenly Steve was there, standing very close to him in the dim, flickering lights of the room.
"It's uncanny," he mumbled, and Tony glanced out of the corner of his eye at the man so close.
Tony snorted amused, "Even our parents often couldn't tell us apart."
Steve grinned leaning in a little closer, "Really?"
Tony began to relax marginally, "Well our personalities are a little different."
Steve sat down nearby, "Tell me more?"
Tony was taken aback, he looked at the suit and down at his tools; it was going to take a bit to get the suit fixed enough to fly.
"What do you want to know?" Tony asked softly reaching first for his helmet.
"How about from the beginning?" Tony grinned, as he pulled the paneling off the side and began to pull out the wiring.
"Well I'm the oldest by a minute and a half," he began relating escapades from their childhood.
Steve was an attentive and appreciative audience, chuckling as he listened and asked soft questions.
Tony barely noticed the time going as he moved to the chest cavity of the suit, repairing shorted circuits. A lull in the conversation had Steve asking a question that Tony should have seen coming.
"How come you joined the military?"
Tony froze hand stilling in their task, it wasn't a usual question, nor one he hadn't heard before. Many people wanted to know why had he joined the military, and his brother had not.
He thought briefly of giving Steve his bullshit story he'd told others for years. This was Steve though, and he felt compelled to be honest. Only Ed knew the truth, not even Pep knew the true reason.
He cleared this throat concentrating on the task as the story spilled out, "When we were teenagers, our dad found some magazines…adult magazines. Which would not have been a big deal, only they featured men…not women."
Tony didn't dare look at Steve, as he felt his cheeks heat. The room felt heavy, tension crackled, and he pressed on.
"Howard demanded to know whose they were. Eddie tried to take the wrap, but even at eighteen his exploits with the ladies were a source of pride to Howard. He knew they were mine."
He swallowed thickly as the memories bubbled up, the same pain and shame he'd felt that night. Like he'd let his father and his twin down.
"He swore that no son of his would be a 'fag' and the next day I was sent to military school."
Tony huffed a mirthless laugh, "Some bullshit about making me 'a man' and 'no fags in the marines'. Some of the bravest, most fearless men I know in the service are gay."
Tony knew he was bragging a bit, and that he still hadn't looked at Steve. He did feel him close the distance between them. Suddenly he was being gathered into strong arms, and Steve was there. Larger than life and real.
"So do I," he mumbled seconds before lips descended on his. The kissed passionately, and Tony lost himself in it. He didn't want to remember the past, didn't want to remember that terrible night.
Steve was turning them crowding Tony against the conference table. Frantic hands pulled his t-shirt and Tony was raising his arms without thought. Steve pulled back, pulling his own shirt off and tossing it away, Tony reached for him but the big man paused, and Tony suddenly remembered the big glowing ring in his chest.
Embarrassed he hunched forward but Steve's big hands pressed warmly to his chest. "What is it?" he asked reverently.
"Keeps shrapnel out of my heart, it's what saved me in Afghanistan."
Steve was leaning in again, "I'll get that story after," he mumbled against his lips.
Tony smiled, "After?"
There was no more talking then, just frantic adrenaline-fueled kisses, Tony could feel Steve pressing against him, hard and unyielding. His brain was scrambling to keep up, as every adolescent fantasy he'd ever had was coming true.
Strong hands were everywhere, and Tony couldn't help but shudder at the gentleness of them. He knew those hands could bend his suit far too easily. Rational thought fled though as those hands moved to his waist, and were undoing his pants with a deftness that had Tony's head spinning.
He fumbled to do the same thankful that Steve wasn't in his uniform today, just jeans and a t-shirt. Eagerly he tugged Steve's pants down, reaching for the plain white boxer briefs. He felt Steve chuckle against his mouth, "No underwear?"
Tony tried hard not to blush, the pair he'd been wearing had been torn up with his pants in the blast before he had changed and they're been none on hand.
Then Steve's hand was on him, firm, and with confidence, and any smart ass comeback flew out of his head. Tony forgot all about what he was trying to do instead of focusing on the warm hands and brain melting kisses. He instinctively arched into the big hand sliding against him so perfectly.
Remembering what he'd been doing he reached down pulling free the impressive erection of Steve Rogers. Steve groaned into his mouth as Tony took him in his rough, work callused, hands.
In the flickering, destroyed conference room they jacked one another off. In the back of his mind, Tony knew this was not his ideal first encounter, but there was no way he'd ever regret it. Slick sounds and muffled moans sounded muted in the quiet space.
Steve's lips moved to his neck and Tony felt himself shudder, and gasp, he could feel Steve smile against him. Biting his lip he groaned as Steve twisted his wrist just right.
"Steve!" he cried, feeling that sweet build unwinding far too soon. It's been so long since he'd been with anyone, with a soft groan he was cumming, embarrassingly early, into Steve's warm hand.
Panting slightly, he took a moment to collect himself before turning his full attention to Steve, tightening his grip ever so slightly, and moving in time with Steve's thrusts. Groaning he felt Steve searching out his lips again, the bigger man kissing him deeply as he thrust into Tony's hand.
Big hands tightened on his hips, as he felt Steve shudder and shake, "Tony," he whispered as he climaxed.
They didn't move for long moments, content to remain in their embrace. Unfortunately, their current situation intruded, and with one last kiss, they parted, smiling at each other hesitantly. Tony had a feeling that dopey smile would follow him around for a while.
Appearance righted as much as they could, they searched out their shirts.
"Hey, that's neat!" He felt a hand on his arm, Steve was looking at his sleeve tattoo in admiration, and perhaps a hint of possessiveness. It did after all feature Captain America's shield on his shoulder.
"Thanks," Tony was sure the blush would be permanent after tonight.
With one last quick kiss Tony returned to his work, Steve, however, couldn't seem to keep his hands to himself. He reached out running a soothing hand up and down his back.
"So…do you maybe want to get dinner sometime?" he asked warm hand on him.
Tony chuckled, arching a brow, "Doing it in the wrong order aren't we?"
Steve snorted, "As long as I get to be with you, don't care which way we do it."
Tony couldn't resist then, it was so sweet, and it was everything his lonely, battered heart wanted to hear. He was kissing him again, Steve seemed content to stay right where they were.
Gaining his wits sometime later, Tony turned back to the suit. "Let me, um let me get this…and we can…go back to the Tower," he said breathlessly.
Steve chuckled, looking equally flushed and eager to be away as well.
It only took a few more minutes and the suit was finally powering up. "It can't do battle at the moment, but it'll get us home."
Steve hummed in agreement watching every move the man-made, he couldn't take his eyes off Tony. He hadn't really intended to make a move so early, but the way Tony had lit up talking about his brother and their childhood… he hadn't been able to resist.
The man was beyond intriguing, from his chest light to his amazing tattoos. Steve had fallen hard, even though he knew so little about the man.
He watched as the armor lighted coming to life once more, and the familiar metal started to close around the man. Steve had a revelation, "I do know you," he murmured.
A metal head tilted, "Sorry what?"
Steve shook his head, "Nothing ready to go home?"
A metal hand reached out, "Sorry call just came in Eddie's awake, quick detour to hospital."
He reached out grabbing hold of Tony as they headed out. Steve hung tight like he had so many times before, however, the speed was a little slower than normal. They touched down on the hospital headed inside to find Mr. Stark.
It wasn't hard to find Stark, they heard him long before they saw him.
Amused Steve followed Tony in. He saw Stark first sitting up in bed, and Pepper nearby shaking her head fondly.
"There they are!" he crooned from the bed, "Tony, Steve come in!"
"Ed!" Pepper admonished.
Steve shook his head closing the door.
"It's fine, it's fine Steve knows."
Pepper huffed, and Tony pulled off his helmet, "Yeah Pep, it's ok."
Steve returned to stand beside Iron Man, "How are you doing Ed?"
The man on the bed winced, "Do you know how much it hurts to get shot?"
Steve bit back a chuckle, as Tony's eyes roll, "No Ed tell me all about it."
Laughing the man on the bed laughed motioned his twin closer, Steve met Peppers eyes over the bed smiling in understanding.
"He knew," Ed was saying as he pointed at Steve, "He kissed me, but he knew it wasn't you."
Tony turned to look at Steve questioningly.
"I ambushed him on the way to the elevator yesterday." Steve explained, "I wasn't sure but I knew it wasn't the same."
The grin that crossed Tony's face made Steve's heart skip a beat. "You knew it wasn't me?"
Ed groaned on the bed, "Oh my god go away, I'm already injured don't want to be sick as well."
Laughing Tony snapped his helmet back on, "What do you say, Cap?"
Steve grabbed the metal hand grinning, "Let's get out of here."
Ed groaned, "You guys are sickening,"
A metal head shook, "Take more drugs," he tossed as the headed out.
Ed saluted, "Will do, have fun kids!"
Laughing the pair left headed for home.
On the hospital bed, Edward Stark smiled in satisfaction, eyes closing drowsily. He could feel the happiness radiating off his brother, happiest he'd felt him in years.
"About damn time," he grumbled feeling somewhat like he deserved the credit on this, he was the one shot after all.
"What was that?" Pepper asked as she pulled the covers up tucking him in tenderly.
Ed chuckled, "All I right with the world Pep." He closed his eyes, "All is right."