After being thrown to the mat more times than he could keep count—with Extremis, Tony growled and climbed to his feet. "This is ridiculous! I'm not getting it, Steve!"
The other shook his head. "I don't know how else to explain it to you, Tony."
He grinned suddenly, eyes bright. "I've got it! You stay here." Tony was gone and back, arms laden down with various equipment. "Right. So something I've been working on," he said at Steve's questioning glance. "It is supposed to give the users insight. Well. One person takes point and the other is a kind of tag-along. So I just see through your eyes and a feel for your moves!"
Steve raised an eyebrow. "Supposed to?"
"It's experimental. But definitely in working order!"
"Tony... I don't think—"
"Oh come on. Let's give it a try! Worst case scenario I fix it with Extremis. Nothing ba—"
"Tony, you finish that sentence, and I will knock you out. Don't curse us."
He grinned and handed Steve some sort of headband earmuff contraption. "So? Just put 'em on and flick the switch on the left ear. And I..." He trailed off, setting up a small box on the floor that he plugged into the wall. He hooked a bluetooth headpiece over his ear and then blinked, obviously doing something with Extremis. "And... okay! We are set. Go on. Flick it on!"
Steve lifted a finger to push the button. He winced at the feedback as Tony flicked his piece on. "How does this—oh," Steve breathed as the feeling of Tony settled over his limbs. "Oh. Oh wow. That's weird."
"Sweet! Move!" Tony had a pair of sunglasses down over his eyes, hands out for balance. He grinned. "Alright. Do the move."
Steve bounced on his toes and then did the block/kick combination before settling and looking at Tony. "So?"
"One more time." Tony was on his toes, balanced.
Steve nodded and then did the combo again. "Got it?"
Tony grinned widely and then mimicked it neatly, almost perfect.
Steve's eyes widened. "Wow! That's... incredible."
"Of course," Tony said, not humble in the slightest. "I've been working on it. It'd be good for training, wide-spread, you know. Like army. Emergency training and... stuff. Sports too. But it's not quite ready yet. Still too expensive. And I don't know how practical it would actually be. But we'll see. Do something else I don't know!" Tony's hands settled back into ready position up by his face, elbows tight.
Steve grinned. "Sure thi—" His voice cut off into a scream as he arched and the lights flickered.
Tony had a second to think 'Shit! That's no—' before he too was screaming and collapsing to the ground.
"Shit," Tony groaned, rolling over. Patting hands over his torso, he panicked at the lack of his arc reactor, looking down to see Steve's body. His hands. Were Steve's hands. Steve's feet. Steve's legs. Taking a well, not-so-wild, guess, he jostled his own shoulder gently, calling Steve's name. The other man groaned quietly through Tony's lips, eyelids fluttering.
His hands flew to his head and he cried out.
"Shit!" Extremis. "Steve? Steve. Focus on my voice. My voice only. My sultry tones—your sultry tones?" He gripped his shoulders, murmuring quiet soothing things. "Push everything to the background. Focus on my voice. Just listen to me. Don't worry about the other noise. That's it..."
Steve's hands came up to circle Tony's wrists, head dipped forward as he breathed and tried to sit. "Tony?"
"Yeah, Steve. Right here. There we go. You conscious? 'Cause we got bad news."
Steve looked up through Tony's blues, and Tony watched as his eyes went comically wide. "What happened!"
"Um. You're me. I'm you." He flashed a quick grin, lips tugging differently. "Little mishap. Nothing I can't fix..." Ihope.
Steve stared at him and then sighed heavily. "Can you fix it now?"
Tony stood. "Oh. Wow. Taller." He looked down at Steve's body, twisting and flexing. "I love being you."
Steve stood as well. "Oh my gosh. You're tiny!"
"Not where it counts, hot stuff."
He laughed, the disapproving expression just plain weird on his face. "Man, it's like looking into a mirror you have no control over... I'm not that much shorter than you anyway." He bent over and snagged the screwdriver from the pocket at now-Steve's hip, making him jump in Tony's body before flushing. "Jesus. I haven't blushed like that since I was in fifth grade."
Steve glared at him, but he ignored it, jumping the ropes and went over to his equipment, fiddling the screws out. He dropped them about five times before he finally growled in frustration. "How the hell do you do anything with these sausages, Cap?"
"What?" Steve yelped, coming closer to squat near him.
"Your fingers are clumsy!"
"They are not!" Steve protested. "I'm an artist! You're just not used to being me."
Tony snorted. "Obviously.
"Besides. It's not my fault that you've got girly hands."
"My hands are not girly. They're perfectly masculine."
"Wow. I wasn't aware I was capable of sounding like such an ass."
"Oh just wait until I flirt with Fury."
He watched as his face drained, turning pale. "You wouldn't," Steve whispered.
Tony laughed again. "Course not, Cap. Man. I wish I had Extremis. This would be much easier."
"Alright? Don't think about it and you won't get those sudden influxes of information.
Steve nodded in his peripheral. "Damn. Power surge. Something's fried. I'll have to rebuild the circuit board."
"Tony, this is the last time I let you talk me in to some sort of experimental technology."
"Hey! Better us than the mass public!"
Steve groaned. "You wouldn't let it get to the mass public unless it was perfect."
"Aw, thanks. Your vote of confidence increases my moral capabilities .5%" He bit his lip, pulling the fried board out, cursing softly as it burned the tips of his fingers.
"We need to fix this ASAP. And we can't let anyone know."
"Sure. Shouldn't take me too long." He stood, gathering the pieces.
"Hold up." Steve scrambled almost gracefully to his feet, pulling Tony's spine straight, expression more earnest than he'd ever seen. "A few rules."
"Just because you don't take care of your body, doesn't mean you're going to treat mine the same way. You're going to leave it how you found it."
"Okay, boy scout."
"No, I'm serious."
Well, that was Tony's serious voice.
"While you're in my body, Tony, you will get at least eight hours of sleep. You'll eat healthy, and you'll still spar with me. I exercise every day. I want to keep up."
He rolled his eyes. "Fine, fine. Ugh. I need to shower."
Steve's eyes via Tony's face went wide.
"What now? Are you embarrassed? Not like I haven't seen most of your skin anyway."
He watched, amused as his own face flared red. "Is it a problem. I can solve it right here if you want. Want me to? Here." He pushed some of the contraption at his own body and the pulled the waistband of Steve's shorts away from skin and looked down. "Wow. Boy's packing."
"Tony!" Steve shrieked.
"Wow. Didn't know my voice could get that high. Jarvis? Did you have that recorded? Because that's funny. Whatever. Not a problem. Problem solved. See? Go ahead and take a peek. I don't have a problem. Here. You shower, I'll work on this, get us fixed." He smiled.
His workshop felt smaller as he hulked through it. As himself, he'd always appreciated Steve's size. When he had to live Steve's size... Well. The man wasn't small. Anywhere, he reminded himself. "Jarvis, magnify circuit board times three."
"Yes, Master Rogers."
He sighed. "For the final time, Jarvis. I'm Tony."
"As you say."
He growled and hunched over the table more, soldering a new connection. "Damn you Steve and your fat fingers too."
He heard Pepper's heels on the stairs a bit too late, panicking and stripping the goggles off his head and tossing them somewhere.
"What are you doing down here?"
"Miss Potts!" He flicked the solder gun off behind him and reached for a pencil, scrabbling behind him for paper. Steve drew. Excuse, excuse, excuse!
"Steve." She smiled. "How many times have I told you. 'Pepper' is fine."
"Of course..." He threw her what he hoped was Steve's should-be-patent-able puppy dog smile and ducked his head to look sheepish.
"Have you seen Tony?" She looked around the workshop.
"Uh...no. I haven't... He um. Went upstairs. To shower. Did you need something?"
"Oh, I was just looking for him to sign some papers. Nothing too important."
"I can forge it. For him."
Pepper blinked at him. "What? No! You shouldn't... Tony can take responsibility for his own signature."
He grinned, wondering how many conversations Steve and Pepper had behind his back. "Um. Right. Just. I thought. You know. Artist. I could forge it pretty easy. Let you get back to work. We just got done working out and... Well. He'll probably take a long shower." He wouldn't. Steve didn't like to waste water. Or cause that much of a dent in the heating bill.
Pepper sighed and rolled her eyes, pulling a stool over to sit on. "How are you doing?"
"Um. Fine?" No no. Don't stay. Why are you staying? He smiled, forgetting this was Steve's body and the hi-this-is-small-talk-that-I-really-don't-want-to-have-won't-you-please-go-away smile probably wouldn't work so well as it did from his facial musculature.
"You sure?" Pepper frowned at him. "You seem...off."
"What? No. I'm fine. Honestly. I'm sure." He gave her another reassuring smile. "Sorry. I was just distracted."
She gave him a fond indulgent smile, the kind Tony rarely saw directed at him. "Alright, boy scout."
"You and Tony both," he whined.
Pepper laughed. "Alright then. I'll just leave these here for Tony. You tell him to bring them to me when he's signed them.
Tony nodded. "Sure thing, Pep."
Shaking her head, she turned her expensive heels and headed back upstairs.
As soon as she was gone, he grabbed a pen an scrawled his signature across the dotted lines and retrieved his goggles from halfway beneath a drawer-base to get back to fixing the circuit board.
He heard his own shuffle down the steps before he saw his body enter the workshop, hesitant. He chuckled. "Get over here!"
Steve blinked and then navigated himself through the boxes and pieces of machinery that were really more of a hazard than anything else. "Any progress?"
"Um... yeah," he said, dragging a line of wire closer.
"Good. Finish the rest tomorrow, alright. Bed time. You're up by six."
"Six!" he yelped, looking up at Steve. "Steve! I'm not a morning person."
Steve folded Tony's arms and managed to look very intimidating. "Bed, Tony. You don't have to run, but you're going to bed."
He frowned at Steve but sighed and pushed the goggles up on his forehead. "You're ridiculous, you know. You keep the hours of an old lady."
The corner of his lips twitched and the crease between his brows lessened.
"You know..." Tony said, cocking his head. "I really am ruggedly handsome." That startled Steve out of his aggressor pose, brows flying up in a way that made Tony look shockingly young. He huffed under his breath and shook his head. "Come on then, soldier." He pushed at the small of his own back and guided them to the doors. "Jarvis, lights, and lock after we leave."
"Of course, Master Rogers."
Tony sighed. "Idiot."
"I heard that, Mister Stark."
He snorted, hearing Steve giggle in front of him. "Now you get it right."
"Goodnight, Mister Stark, Master Rogers."
"Goodnight, Jarvis," Steve responded automatically. He lead the way up the stairs, skirting past the kitchen and then the spacious family room. He paused in the shadow to let Tony wave to the group watching a movie before heading towards Tony's room. "So you're sleeping in my room, right? And I'm sleeping in yours."
Tony looked at him. "Mm, yeah. Unless you want people to think we're sleeping together."
Steve blanched, as expected, eyes wide until he dropped them and muttered, "Yeah. Probably best." His cheeks had flushed again.
"Did you...want people to think that?" Tony's mind raced. That would... that would actually explain a lot.
"What! No! I..." Steve backed away.
"Steve," Tony said quietly, folding Steve's bulky arms across his chest. "Do we need to talk about this?"
"Tony! Geeze—I—no. There's nothing to talk about. Let's go. You need to sleep. And your body needs to sleep as well. So I'm going to bed. In your bed. And you're going to bed. In. Um. Mine."
Nodding slowly, he let his hands drift down to his pants, forgetting that Steve's sweats didn't have pockets. "Alright then. Hopefully we won't be needed tomorrow. I'll have to teach you how to operate the armour just in case. We can't have Iron Man looking like an idiot, can we?" He smirked and then hooked his thumbs into the waistband. "G'night, Steve. Sleep well in my giant comfortable bed."
"Goodnight, Tony." He smiled and then made his way to Tony's door, pausing with his hand on the knob. "Um. Yeah. Teach me about the armour tomorrow." He smiled and disappeared into Tony's room.
Tony ducked into Steve's room and stripped down to his boxers before regarding Steve's precisely made bed. "Well. A bed's a bed..." And pulled down the duvet before slipping into the sheets, kicking at the end a bit to loosen it up. Staring at the ceiling, he sighed and then flipped the bedside lamp on and reaching for Steve's sketchbook. Flipping idly through the pages for a fresh one, stopping every so often at a particularly stunning one of the Avengers doing something mundane and normal. He paused at one of himself, frowning over some tech. His brow gently furrowed, the sun lighting him from the back. Tony smiled. Another few pages and there was another of himself, konked out on the sofa, dead to the world. He chuckled. Him to a 'T.' Another few pages and it was another of him, dozing by the pool out back. Looking slick and sun-warmed, like a satisfied cat. God, Steve did like him. Tony swallowed and flipped through later pages, finding other sketches of himself, smiling teasingly at a meeting, dead above a cup of coffee, fierce and angry and railing against...Clint? Maybe. Tony huffed, shaking his head as he found a clean page and picked up the charcoal on Steve's table and idly sketched plans of circuits and transistors. He allowed himself a half hour of sketching, letting his mind wander in a way he hadn't the luxury of since Extremis before finally sighing and leaning over to turn off the light and shut his eyes against Steve's pillow.
He slapped away the alarm when it went off in the morning.
"Tony! Tony!" a voice hissed next to his ear.
He jerked, flinging himself forwards into movement before he consciously knew what he was doing. Blinking, he frowned up at his own face from the floor, a smile spreading across lips he never saw unless looking in a mirror.
"You were supposed to be out of bed two hours ago."
"And you let me sleep? How sweet of you."
Steve shook his head and sighed. "Come on then. You should probably shower. Then come get coffee. Only one cup though. For you. I'll have your customary four. Geeze, you really need stop drinking it. I have your headache. Thanks."
He grinned and stretched up out of the crouch. "I feel great!"
Steve returned the grin, wry and amused. "That's what comes of taking care of yourself. Go shower."
"Sounds great." He felt more awake than he had in the past. "See ya in the kitchen."
Steve sighed. "Hopefully Pepper made coffee."
"Oh yeah. 'You' signed some papers. They're downstairs in the workshop still. And by you, I mean me. Just let her know they're down there. Grunt when people talk to you and then lose yourself in the decadent taste of supreme Columbian roast. I'll be down as soon as possible."
Steve stared. "I've never seen you so talkative before coffee."
He grinned. "Must be those super soldier perks! Alright. Go. Go get coffee." He waited until Steve was gone before stripping down and stepping into the shower once the water was warm. Bathing efficiently for once, trying to remember that the equipment wasn't his, Tony hopped out, wrapped the towel around his waist and ransacked Steve's drawers for something that wasn't a white t-shirt and jeans. No such luck. Jeans it was, though he did find a red t-shirt with some sort of abstract design on it that Steve probably didn't wear for precisely that reason. He shrugged and pulled it over his head, towelling the blonde hair dry before hanging the towel (mostly neatly) over the rack.
His stomach growled as the smells from the kitchen hit him. Steve's body was hungry. Hopefully Steve wasn't the one cooking, seeing as Tony couldn't cook anything that didn't turn out like charcoal. Quickening his step, he skidded into the kitchen and was faintly relieved to see no one else there. "Remember I can't cook, Steve."
"I know," Steve said, lifting a mug of coffee to his lips.
"I know, Steve. No one was here, and you said you'd be down soon, so I thought I would get started and then you can pretend to finish up when someone gets close."
"You're so smart," he teased, grabbing the second mug and pouring himself coffee. "So. After breakfast, Iron Man?"
"I'll show you how it works and then you can play around while I figure out my Tag-Along System."
"You've named it?" He scooped bacon and omelets onto plates for the two of them.
"Whoops. Peter's coming."
"You can tell?" Steve looked at him sharply, ditching the apron and stuffing it into a cabinet and handing Tony the spatula.
"Yeah... I was just...surprised you could so quickly."
Tony grinned and turned the stove off. "Genius."
Steve rolled his eyes, settling into a chair in Tony's familiar drape easily.
"Heya!" Peter said, pattering into the room, peering in the pan. "Aw, you didn't leave any, Cap?"
Tony grinned over at him over his plate as he settled in the chair across from Steve. "Sorry..."
"No you're not." He glared at him before losing interest and burying his head in the fridge. "So what's the plan? Aliens on the horizon? Evil dictators behind the bushes? Megalomaniacs at the grocery store?"
Tony snorted, drawing a glance from Peter filled with wonder and pride.
"I made Cap laugh! He laughed!" He pointed at him, looking to Steve for affirmation. "He laughed! You're my witness." He narrowed his eyes. "Why didn't you laugh. You usually appreciate my jokes."
"Tony hasn't had his third cup of coffee yet, Peter," Tony said gently.
"Oh." He looked back to the fridge before looking at Steve with a wide-eyed stare. "Why are you awake?"
Steve stared back over the rim of the cup in a good approximation of Tony's thousand yard stare before appropriate amounts of coffee. "Um."
"I'm turning over a new leaf." Steve tried for a weak grin.
Peter snorted. "Uh-huh." Pulled out the OJ and milk, yanking the cereal down with webs.
"Peter! Don't leave those up there," Tony was quick to reprimand.
Peter rolled his eyes. "No seriously. Why are you even awake, Tony? Did you stay up all night."
"He slept," Tony said casually, stuffing a bit of eggs into his mouth. Seriously. Why was he against breakfast again?
Peter flicked a quick glance at him and then Tony.
"Steve's helping me learn normal sleeping hours," Steve said in Tony's amused drawl. "You know. Like a real boy."
Tony looked at him sharply. He didn't think Steve knew that reference. Though the story of Pinnochio had been around for a while.
Peter snickered. "How's that working for him, Cap?"
"I had to wake him up," Tony said flatly. Tony-cum-Steve's eyes twinkled at him over the rim of the mug.
Setting said mug on the table, Steve straightened and pronounced, "In fact, Steve's promised if I can keep a regular schedule for a month, then I'll get a treat."
Peter snickered again. "Hello Pavlov's dog experiment. You look surprised, Cap. Gonna take him on a date?"
Tony's eyebrows flew up. "Um."
Steve laughed. "Don't worry about it. Alright, Peter. We'll see you later. I've got work to do, and I need Cap's muscles." He stood. "Meet me downstairs when you're finished." He topped his mug off and shuffled towards the workshop.
Tony watched him go, a little disconcerted at the ease with which Steve portrayed him. Then turned his attention back to his food.
"What did you do to Tony?" Peter asked, voice soft with wonder.
"Tony! He's...awake. And. Wow."
"It's not that unusual, Peter," he said dryly.
Peter gave him a look telling him the exact opposite. "Well. Gotta get to work. Call me if you need me, Cap."
Tony made a non-committal noise and filled his mouth with more bacon and toast. "Oh. Um. Have a nice day, Peter," he said when he swallowed, giving the kid a wave.
"Sure thing, Cap." And then Peter disappeared back out into the hallway.
Tony finished quickly, dumped the dish into the sink and skidded down to the workshop. "Alrighty. So with Extremis, I can store the suit inside me."
"That sounds all sorts of wrong," Steve said, looking up from his doodle.
Tony grinned. "You know. It's creepy how much you are me. That was a bad sentence wasn't it. It's creepy how accurately you can act like me."
Steve flushed. "Well, we've worked together a lot. And I know you. And I've picked up on your...mannerisms. So there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to..."
"Relax, Steve. No need to get defensive. I know you watch me."
His brows jumped up in another comical expression of surprise on Tony's face. "Oh."
Tony stuffed his hands into pants that had pockets this time and then leaned over Steve's shoulder. "Nice sketch." He really did enjoy making Steve flush. Even if it was in his body.
"Um. Thanks. So. Extremis?"
"Right. You just have to focus on it and it'll—hold on. Stand and get away from everything. You know. Just in case. There we go. Focus on the suit—the gold stuff, you know. And—hey! There you go."
Steve looked down wonderingly at the gold material covering his body, twisting his hands. "Wow. That's... that's really neat."
"You bet your ass it's neat!" Tony grinned, stepping back. "Now focus on the armour. It should come pretty quick. Keep everything else at the back of your mind though. Don't get overwhelmed."
Steve's brow furrowed and he nibbled his lower lip, clearly focused.
Geeze. No wonder he was never short partners... Tony shook his head. Getting a boner in Steve's body would be really embarrassing. Never mind the twisted reality of getting turned on by himself. He wasn't that narcissistic.
"Okay. This is harder than I give you credit for..." His face lit up, however, when the armour leached out and covered him. Another look of concentration and the face-plate stayed open. "Got it!"
"I can see that." He folded his arms and moved to his workbench. "Work on walking around. We won't start with repulsor stuff yet. Give me 45 minutes."
"Ooh! Stopwatch. You have a stopwatch with Extremis?"
"Steve. I have everything with Extremis. Watch some TV if you want. I..." He trailed off, frowning at some of the circuitry.
"Are you listening, Tony?"
"Hu—yeah." He poked at the connection, twisting wires.
"No you're not. You're doing tech stuff. And you're not listening to me at all."
"Sure, Steve." He sat back sometime later, flexing fingers he wasn't used, that weren't used to this sort of work. "Man, your fingers suck." He looked around to see Steve hovering a foot above the ground. "Hey!"
Steve dropped sharply, looking guilty.
"No no, hey, good for you, figuring it out without my help." Tony smiled at him.
Steve's grin returned, and he jetted over towards Tony. "I don't know if I would be able to really fly, but I've got the hover down. Progress."
"Yeah. How long has it been?"
"Almost an hour and a half."
Tony rolled his eyes. "Meaning it's only about an hour later than I normally get up."
"Speaking of which. Your body wants more coffee."
"Right. Go get some. You don't have to stay down here the whole time. Just leave me here to work and go get your coffee. Take the armour off, obviously."
Steve's face crinkled in concentration and then the armour disappeared. "Neat! This is so cool!"
Tony chuckled and then turned back to his work, losing himself in the mindlessness of it.