Title: By Every Definition aka 5 Times Tony Kissed Steve Behind The Faceplate and the One Time He Didn't (1/2)
Fandom: The Avengers
Summary: Tony was just glad JARVIS resided inside his helmet and wasn't programmed into a PA system that broadcasted to the whole world. Served Tony right for being too much of a genius to actually program an AI with an attitude that could rival his own.
Rating: PG-13 (some violence)
Spoilers: Captain America The First Avenger; The Avengers (2012)
A/N: I've only seen the movies. So, apologies in advanced for the lack of knowledge of anything that's from the comics. Also, unbetaed, so mistakes are solely mine. Most of all, first time writing in this fandom, take it easy on me, please.
Disclaimer. Not mine. They belong to the geniuses that created them.
By Every Definition (Five Times Tony Kissed Steve Behind the Faceplate and the One Time He Didn't) 1/2
Iron Man dodged as another volley of cannon fire headed his way. He fired back with his own blasts of repulsor rays and flew over to the adjacent building to take cover.
Tony searched the vicinity. Steve was out here somewhere. They were waiting for the others to arrive for lunch when the call came in on some sort of aerial attack a few blocks from their restaurant. Tony barely had his suit on when the reverberating sounds of cannon fire shook the ground.
"JARVIS, where's Steve?" Tony could've sworn Steve was just nearby but the young man didn't come in his Captain America uniform, making it harder to spot him in his civvies amidst the chaos.
"He's by the docks, sir." Came JARVIS' reply.
Before Tony could contemplate how Steve got by the docks so fast, he spotted the other man just in time to see him leap over the marina and straight toward an attack helicopter hovering over the waters. There were bullets and missiles flying over the pier, the pilot firing at everything and everyone within range.
Steve landed on the helicopter's windscreen and wasted no time in punching through the glass. He grabbed hold of the pilot, pulling the flailing man out of the cockpit and throwing him out into the ocean.
Tony whooped in triumph at the display. Not even slightly bothered when the helicopter, sans pilot, dangerously tilted forward and nosedived straight into the waters below.
With Steve still clinging on its front.
He waited anxiously for Steve to resurface but was forced to take his eyes off the marina in favor of dodging another volley of cannon fire.
"Sir, the building to your right. It's about to collapse." JARVIS warned. Tony spared a final glance toward the marina, confident that Steve would (or by now) have resurfaced and concentrated on the crisis at hand. "Judging from its angle, it'll land on that walkway in less than five seconds." JARVIS went on in an urgent tone.
Tony had barely enough time to aim well-placed repulsor blasts against the falling infrastructure to avoid so-called walkway (filled with people filing out of the danger zone and into relative safety) from being crushed. It was only then that he realized a miscalculation when part of the debris landed on a nearby bridge, the damage, leaving a sizeable gap right in the middle of it.
Tires screeched as motorists tried to avoid the gaping hole. Tony had to fly down to help some civilians out of the wreckage. He spent the next minutes airlifting injured civilians to safety.
"JARVIS, where are Thor and the others?" He asked the AI, grunting as he hefted a sedan precariously hanging off the damaged bridge, occupants rather shaken but relatively fine.
Tony didn't know how long they had been fending off culprits and helping civilians. All he knew was, he and Steve (who probably needed a bit of drying off by now after that unscheduled dip in the water) could really use some back up.
"They are en route, sir. ETA two minutes." Came the reply. "Also, Captain Rogers has yet to resurface, sir." JARVIS went on.
"WHAT!?" Tony exclaimed in alarm at the report. "How long has it been?"
"Eleven and a half minutes, sir." JARVIS supplied.
Tony couldn't contain the panic building up. "How could he still not be back up?" He asked, more to himself than his AI. He frantically raced for the docks, ignoring the cannon fires and the chaos. All he could think of was getting to Steve. The others will be there in two minutes. They will take care of the rest. Right now, Steve was his priority.
Eleven and a half minutes underwater. No ordinary human could survive being under that long. He's banking on Steve's superhuman trait because with the super soldier serum, Steve may last that long.
He reached the docks in no time, diving straight down and descending fast into the murky waters that he barely made a splash. It was dark down there. Dark enough that it made it hard to find a black helicopter let alone a possibly unconscious super soldier.
Tony spotted the helicopter. It was JARVIS that spotted Steve. Trapped between said helicopter and the ocean floor. Tony's heart raced, trepidation and dread mixed together, making him feel sick to his stomach. Just when thoughts of how puking inside his helmet would probably result in him drowning, he caught movement.
Pinned down under a helicopter for over ten minutes. Tony thought Steve wouldn't have stood a chance. Tony had been assuming the worst.
But Steve was moving, struggling albeit weakly to get out from under the heavy weight of the vehicle.
The relief that followed got Tony's adrenaline pumping. He quickly reached Steve's side, almost missing the grateful, relieved look on the young man's face at Tony's arrival. They both tried to push the offending vehicle off Steve. When it didn't budge so easily, Tony blasted the tail end off. By then, Steve's struggles had been weak, too weak to even try and wriggle out from under the now less heavy thing pinning him. Which left Tony to push the remnants of the helicopter off by himself.
He ordered JARVIS to put all remaining power into thrusters and wasted no time in gathering Steve against him. He ascended for the surface, blasting out of the water like a warhead bent on bringing down a city.
Tony could hear the gasps as Steve tried hard to breathe in air back into oxygen-deprived lungs. He winced at the hacking cough that followed. It sounded painful. Painful enough that Tony took pity on the blonde and tried to rub his back in comfort, all too aware that he was also making soothing noises against the other man's ear.
This isn't anything like him; he's never one to show affection in these situations. It was usually distract with inappropriate jokes or just plain avoid it and leave. Let someone else (Pepper) handle it.
Finding a way to make it better with soothing sounds or holding them closer against him just so Tony can assure them (and himself) that they were safe was the total opposite of what he usually does.
This. Is. Not. Him.
"Tony." Steve finally spoke between gasps and coughs. "Thank you." The gratitude in those words was so palpable Tony had to restrain himself from embracing the man tighter against him some more. But it was Steve's arms that tightened around his neck.
"What the hell happened, Steve?" Because conflicting emotions aside, there was still frustration at how close he lost Steve because the damn kid couldn't jump off a nose-diving helicopter to save his life.
"I c-couldn't." Steve tried to explain between shallow breaths. Tony knew he should be flying them to a nearest hospital right now but moving wasn't an option. Especially when Steve started heaving over his shoulder, vomiting dirty water out of his system.
They were hovering in the air, vertical. Steve was held against him in an embrace, both of the super soldier's booted feet resting atop Tony's own metal-cladded ones. Tony didn't know if it was JARVIS' doing or by his own instinct that they were both perfectly balanced in mid-air, held up by just the thrusters of his armored feet because both of his arms were definitely busy hugging Steve.
"Couldn't what, Steve?" The exasperated tone was gone, replaced by deep concern when Steve just buried his face against Tony's neck.
"Froze…plane going down…couldn't get out…metal…crushing…dark…cold…felt like dying…again." The words were garbled and muffled and still spoken between gasps and dry heaves but Tony understood it all the same.
"Just breathe, buddy." Tony said, rubbing Steve's back some more. Because what else could he have said to that? Steve had thought he was crashing again, about to die another painful death under a large metal contraption, water everywhere trying to engulf him. Like it did seventy years ago.
So, they hovered over the water for another few minutes and waited for the hacking and heaving to subside.
"Better?" Tony asked after awhile, pushing Steve back to stare at bloodshot eyes. He frowned in concern at the pale, shivering form but was relieved all the same when Steve gave him a short nod in reply. "Hang tight, then. Let's get you to a hospital." Tony said as he slowly gathered Steve back against him.
Maybe it was because of his conflicting emotions or the gripping fear and worry still gnawing at him that for some unknown reason, Tony turned his head slightly towards Steve's face and as Steve's cheeks brushed past the faceplate, Tony found himself planting a soft kiss against it.
Tony froze. The kiss was soft enough not to have made a sound and he's pretty sure it wasn't audible enough for the voice modulator to catch. Steve may not have heard or even felt it. He waited for any sort of reaction but all Steve did was tighten his arm around the armor in preparation for the flight. Tony huffed a sigh of relief.
"Did you just kiss him, sir?" Apparently, that was the shortest sigh of relief in human history. Tony was just glad JARVIS resided inside his helmet and wasn't programmed into a PA system that broadcasted to the whole world. Served Tony right for being too much of a genius to actually program an AI with an attitude that could rival his own.
"Shut up, JARVIS." He gritted out in annoyance instead.
"Was just curious, sir. It looked a lot like you did. Even made a soft, smacking noise."
And damn if that sounded far too all knowing for an AI.
"Maybe you could just point it out…"
"I don't have that ability, sir."
Tony stepped out of the elevator in time to hear the tail end of a conversation between Steve and JARVIS. Judging from their tones of voices, he wasn't sure which of them sounded more frustrated – the national icon or his AI.
"How am I supposed to learn all of these when you can't point out which buttons to push?"
"And how, per se, am I supposed to point out which buttons to push when I'm not equipped with limbs?"
Was it just Tony or was JARVIS sounding insecure amidst all the snippiness?
"What's going on, JARVIS?" Tony asked the AI from inside his helmet, amazed by his own genius when JARVIS answered him with a still snippy reply of -I am attempting to educate Captain Rogers on how to operate the home theatre system, sir- even when he can still hear the pair arguing in the living room.
Artificial Intelligence trying to teach Ancient Intelligence the ways of technology, now that's something. Tony chuckled lightly at the thought.
Tony entered the living room. Steve's back was on him. The only part of his body visible was his head of hair, blonde as ever, peeking out of the big leather couch facing the television.
"Don't you have those laser pointers. Like the ones SHIELD uses for like, presentations? Tony's gotta have you equipped with that."
"I am equipped with lasers. The kind of lasers that have red dots that show which part of the target I'm supposed to shoot. Would you like me to use that, Captain?"
"Nope. He doesn't have that anymore. I no longer build weapons of mass destruction. Turned over a new leaf and everything. So no lasers here." Tony announced loudly. Because at some point in an argument, when one threatened to shoot the other (even with non-existing weaponry) someone has got to intervene, right? Tony's just not sure how he's managed to become the mediator rather than the instigator this time.
Steve turned, startled when Tony spoke up. But the startled look gave way to an amused grin when he saw what Tony was (or was not) wearing.
"Either the rest of your suit is still in the laundry or you are the new face of Bobbleheads 'R Us." Steve said, bright blue eyes twinkling in amusement. Tony couldn't see his whole face (still obscured by the back of the couch) but he's pretty sure there's a teasing smirk in there too.
"Maybe. Maybe not." Tony replied with a snort. "But I did just sneak up on you, though." He said matter-of-factly, walking much closer to the couch for a much better view of the super soldier.
"Oh, so you're working on your stealth then." Judging from the smirk, Steve wasn't done teasing.
"If you must know, I am improving my sensors to include olfactory functions."
"Oh yeah? How so?" Tony's not sure if Steve was just humoring him or genuinely interested in the topic. Or perhaps he was still teasing. Ever since the helicopter incident, Steve had been hanging out in the mansion a lot. Back then, it had only been visits for courtesy calls, but these days the visits had been less formal and more for the sake of being somewhere near Tony. The billionaire didn't know what to think of it truthfully speaking, but he's found that after a few of those informal visits, he didn't mind having Steve around one bit.
He answered Steve's query anyway and spent the next ten minutes trying to bombard Steve's brain with talks of various theories, algorithms and formulas and whatever his unfiltered brain can supply about his latest project. If Steve was asking just to tease then there was no way he had been listening for the last ten minutes to Tony ramble on about distance, wind speed, and humidity.
"So you're trying to teach your helmet how to smell." Huh, maybe Steve was genuinely interested in the topic.
"Basically. Yes, I'm trying to teach my helmet how to smell. That's why all I have with me now is my head gear because it's all I need." Tony said, gesturing to his helmet.
"Sounds swell." Steve said, giving Tony a very visibly impressed smile, which made Tony's heart skip a bit. "But I like the bobblehead explanation better. So if anybody asks let's stick with that." And just like that, the teasing grin was back and Tony'd be damn if the sight of Steve with a happy smirk didn't make his heart skip faster.
"You've been hanging out with Clint too much." Tony said, feigning annoyance to hide whatever feelings he was starting to develop. "Has he been teaching you how to irritate my AI, too?" He asked with a somewhat disapproving lift of an eyebrow.
Steve's expression quickly turned into a pout. "It's just…" Steve started, nervously turning over the TV remote in his hand. "I've been trying to get JARVIS to teach me how to work this thing." He went on, waving the remote to indicate the home theatre system.
"And?" Tony asked, prompting Steve to elaborate.
It was never hard to teach Steve anything. From using his SHIELD issued laptop, to driving an automatic or working a microwave, heck, even to operate one of Tony's more advanced tools. Steve had been easy to educate. His brain grasped information fast and then practically translated it in the real world within minutes of being taught. Teaching him how to work the home theatre system shouldn't be that hard.
"Well, if you look here." Steve said raising the clicker at eye level. "The buttons are a bit faded. So, no matter how many times JARVIS tells me to push the 'mode' button, I can't find it because even with enhanced eyesight I can't read the darn words in this thing." He finished, pout still in place but now coupled with a frown of frustration.
"Hmm," Tony said as he took the object to inspect it. "Clint's been doing too much channel surfing and TIVOing. Guy's attention span's so whacked I'm surprised the buttons are the only ones damaged. This thing should already be broken in half by now." Tony muttered, almost to himself.
"He asked me to TIVO some shows. He told me just to tell JARVIS which shows to record but I wanted to learn how to do it myself." Steve explained, slightly embarrassed.
"Nothing wrong with trying to learn stuff, Cap." Tony said, reaching over to ruffle Steve's hair when the blonde gave him a grateful smile. "Clint's been making you do all the dirty work, huh?"
"Well, Thor has his own list. So does Dr. Banner. So it's not just Clint." Steve said sheepishly.
"And what's in it for you?" Tony asked, intrigued at the story behind the sheepish grin. He leaned forward, resting against the back of the couch and went down to a kneeling position so as to look at Steve at eye level.
"Clint promised to bake me homemade cookies after he gets back from his mission, Thor agreed to bring back some of that Asgardian mead you liked so much and Dr. Banner said that if I can record reruns of Friends he'll let me take Hulk out in the desert so we can practice throwing me less painfully." Steve said in one fluid motion, grin still in place.
"The big guy does need to learn how to aim." Tony said with a chuckle, remembering fondly that Hulk's new favorite word other than 'Smash' was now 'Toss', especially when it was Steve giving the command. The jolly, green giant wasn't fond of anyone but the amount of attention he gave Steve was practically bordering on adoration. That's a lot of affection in Hulk terms. "And thank you for the mead." Tony said, genuinely grateful. The thought that Steve had bargained DVR work for something not for himself but for Tony made Tony's heart ache. No one did that for him anymore.
"I'll share Clint's cookies with you, too, if you help me work this." Steve said, tapping the remote control in Tony's hand.
"You better." Tony challenged back. He wasn't really into Clint's cookies. Other than doughnuts, his taste for sweets weren't that varied. But Steve has a sweet tooth that could rival Thor's and sharing said cookies with Steve would just give Tony enough excuse to be with him more. So, he was not about to turn down that opportunity.
It only took Tony fifteen minutes to teach Steve every aspect of the home theatre system. There was a bit of trial and error on Tony's part when the faded buttons did get in the way of teaching the other man the basics. But other than that, 'Operation: Teach Captain America to Program the DVR So That His Friends Can Feed Him Cookies, Give Him Mead (meant for another friend), and Catapult Him Repeatedly Over the Mojave Desert' – went on without a hitch.
"Thanks, Tony." Steve said, tearing his gaze from the television to look at Tony behind him as he finished programming all the shows that needed recording into the DVR. "This would have been an absolute nightmare if it weren't for you." He went on with a tender smile.
"Nah, you'd have figured it out yourself." Tony replied. And since when was he so self-deprecating? "JARVIS would have taught you as easily." And now he was turning over compliments to his ingrate of an AI.
"Easily shot me, is what you mean." Steve said, rolling his eyes. "Let's not forget. He did threaten to shoot me with lasers."
"Like I said, they no longer exist." Tony assured him. "You know, if the guys get used to getting you to DVR shows for them, you should demand they buy you your own home theatre system at your own apartment. Then maybe I wouldn't have to hear you and my AI bickering like there's no tomorrow in here." Tony said with a knowing smirk behind the faceplate.
"Uhm, they did offer." Steve said, sheepish look once again appearing on the innocent face. "I told them that since they already live here, it'd be pointless to do it at home when I can just come over." He said with an uncertain shrug. "Besides, I like coming here. Bickering AI and all." Softly this time, but Tony was close enough to hear it.
"I, too, enjoy having you around, Captain Rogers." JARVIS announced out of nowhere. "Bickering super soldier and all." The AI added, making Steve's face light up in amusement. It's then that Tony realized that time had passed with him just kneeling against the back of the couch, staring at Steve with a stupid look on his face, still reeling from his last remark. He was lucky JARVIS had seen him sputter from inside the helmet.
He didn't know whether to be grateful or embarrassed that the AI had to step in and cover for him.
"Yeah," Tony said, clearing his throat when his voice came out raspy. Must be because his heart was lodged somewhere in his esophagus. "Me, too." He went on, firmly this time.
Because it's true. He loved having Steve around.
He liked it when Steve dropped by to talk strategy with Natasha or sparred with Thor. Savored it when he puttered around in the kitchen with Clint, whisk at hand, smirk in place because he got the archer to give in to baking him cookies by merely flashing a tentative smile. Enjoyed it when Steve sat through Bruce's multitude of lab tests and blood extractions, in different states of undress, if he might add.
Treasured it when Steve would bound restlessly in his lab, a book clasped in his hand and tucking himself into Tony's day cot to read, but only after an offer to help has been politely turned down by Tony himself because as much as he loved watching Steve start up a chainsaw or work a wrench with sweat soaking his shirt and grease tainting that beautiful face, he loved it more when he got to watch Steve tuck himself in a corner to read a book, a finger tapping against his lip in immense concentration at one moment and falling asleep sprawled against the thin mattress the next.
Tony should probably tell him all this, really. Steve deserved more than a 'me, too' echoed off of JARVIS' statement. Tony had issues, everyone knew that. So, if all he could spare at that moment was a barely there tap of his faceplate on top of Steve's head as he got up from his kneeling position, then that was all he could give the universe right now.
Of course underneath the helmet was a different story. There was a well-placed kiss when the metal made the slight contact with Steve's head. An inhale of breath to take it all in as he got up. And finally, an exhale that sounded a lot like a longing sigh as he turned and walked away
It was only when JARVIS relayed the chemical contents of Steve's shampoo did he realize that his olfactory program had worked. By then, he was already by the elevators and could no longer find the courage to turn back and tell Steve the good news.
Tony wasn't sure what was going on. He was pretty sure of the head wound, though, if the sticky, coppery smell of blood he can feel dripping on the side of his face was any indication. He could hear voices, none he could pick off. Not even JARVIS who was a constant presence in his head, with or without the Iron Man suit.
Everything sounded out of whack. Until one distinct voice rang out and everything started to blur into focus.
"Tony, can you hear me?"
That voice. It was Steve's. So he hung on to it. Allowed it to ground him. He knew there were others, could hear them even, but none of them he could recognize so he honed in on Steve's and didn't let go.
"No, Thor. Don't yank it off. It's dented in. You might hit skin."
Dented? His head gear? Possible, yes. Dented enough that it had already hit skin and broke it.
"Give me the blowtorch."
So, this was how it' was going to be. Freed with the Jaws of Life by a blowtorch wielding national icon. God, help him, but he's scared.
"I can do it. He taught me how."
And somehow, the conviction in that voice chased the fear away. He did teach Steve how to use every tool in his lab. Tony had taught him well. He could trust Steve with this one.
"Tony." He heard Steve call out. This time Tony opened his eyes. He wasn't sure if the helmet's eyes also lit up though. Judging from the non-reaction of the blurry faces in front of him, it hadn't.
He was surprised to find himself lying on the tiled floor of his own workshop. What the hell happened?
"Tony," Steve called out again, tone almost pleading for his attention. "We need to take the faceplate off but it's lodged. I have to use some tools." One of Steve's hands was laid against the side of his faceplate, Tony didn't feel it, didn't even know how long Steve had it laid there. "Please give me a sign that you're okay in there."
It was hard and painful but not as painful as hearing the helplessness in Steve's voice. So, Tony moved his head slowly toward the hand cradling his face and placed a reassuring kiss on the palm.
Steve's face lit up at the movement. He may not have felt the kiss but the sluggish movement was enough to erase the look of desperation on his face.
"Don't move, Tony. I'll get this off in no time. You'll be okay."
And Tony believed him. There was no reason not to.