A/N: so basically, i should've been working today. but oops. drabble instead. massive sigh.

as an aside, i will update DIASOS soon, promise promise promise!

anyway, notes for this ficlet! Steve and Tony aren't in a relationship in this, hell, they haven't even acknowledged any feelings at all, actually, they're "just friends" (yeah right /snorts). also, each centred three dots is a POV break; it goes Steve-Tony-Steve!

enjoy! (´∇ノ`*)ノ


Steve's eyes snap open.

A single ray of light, fugitive between thick blinds, slices across the man's face before him.

And yet Steve feels no panic.

Sat astride him, the man adjusts his weight, pinning the captain's legs under the sheets. Steve's eyes flick drowsily to the clock beside his bed.

2:37am.

In the moonlight, the man's eyes are black, where Steve knows they should be brown. The faintest hum accompanies a pale blue glow in his chest, muted behind black fabric.

The man Steve knows so well smiles.

And Steve doesn't understand.

. . .

"Tony," the captain murmurs huskily, still full of sleep, "What in the name of God are you doing?"

From above him, Tony merely smiles.

"…Just testing a theory."

His fingers suddenly creep under the lip of Steve's t-shirt and pull it up slowly, peeling it away from the captain's stomach because damn if it isn't a tight fit. Then, they tug at the band of the captain's sweatpants, revealing just a little more of him, muscle hard under the pale expanse of soft skin, contours stark in the dim light.

Tony can't read the emotion in Steve's eyes as he does this because there are so many at war behind the deep blue, each vying for primacy. Surprise, anger, fear, the palest ghost of desire perhaps, and there is panic there too, tight, constricting panic, but the captain's lips are parted ever so slightly, breath shallow, and his eyes flicker; from Tony's hands, to the door, to Tony's eyes, and back again, never settling for more than a moment on any of them.

"Tony-"

There is a warning note in the captain's voice, confusion rippling alongside it, but Tony ignores them both, and runs his fingers across the flat of Steve's stomach in deliberate strokes, tracing long, slow circles, the muscles beneath them tensing in response.

"It's just a dream, Cap," he murmurs, bending his head to press his lips to the sweep of the captain's hip, "Relax."

He trails kisses in a shallow arc from hip bone to hip bone, hearing the tantalising hitch in Steve's breath as his chin scratches the skin just above the band of his sweatpants.

"This… this is a dream?" the captain asks, voice unsteady.

Tony pulls back, and Steve hesitates, eyes questioning, hands clutching at the air a few centimetres above the covers.

Tony nods in reply, satisfied when the captain exhales, relieved. He smiles down at him as he pulls off his vest in a lazy, impossibly graceful movement,

"But that said…"

And now Steve pauses, wary, any relief in his eyes abruptly dissolving as the flutter of panic returns.

"I've seen the way you look at me, Steve," Tony murmurs, smiling when he hears a vague sound of protest at the comment, and continues regardless, fingers resuming their tracing across Steve's stomach.

"Mhmm," he nods, walking his fingers slowly up the captain's torso, ticking off the places, "In the hallways, across the table at briefings, in the lab, in the gym…" he trails off, and his eyes flick up suddenly, catching Steve's, as he says softly, wickedly, "In the showers…"

The captain's mouth snaps open to protest the lie but Tony shushes him, raising a single finger to his own lips to gesture for silence.

"Ah, ah, ah, don't deny it. No point really, considering all the security footage I could call up in say, 10 seconds, to prove that I'm right…"

And the languid smile curls into a self-satisfied smirk that oozes "Caught 'ya" before he adds, "That and the fact that this is all just a dream, of course, so there's really no need to pretend that you don'twant me…"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Steve mutters, attempting to shift under Tony's weight, "This dream is-"

"Oh don't be so defensive," Tony coos, "I completely understand the attraction. I mean, come on, who wouldn'twant to ravish this?"

He gestures at his naked torso, eyes dark with teasing laughter. Then, Tony purrs softly, "And you do want to, don't you, Captain?"

Steve's eyes dart across Tony's body unwittingly, the curve of his waist, the sweet hollow of his throat, the sweep of pale skin that Steve would be willing to bet is as soft as-

The captain shakes himself suddenly, clearly trying to regain control of his wandering thoughts, and in the most commanding voice he can muster, says quietly, "Tony, get off of me."

Instead, Tony only smirks wider.

"You know I'm not good at following orders, Steve, and besides, why on earth would I want to do that, when you're obviously enjoying this so… much…?"

He props his fingers just above the tell-tale bulge that has defiantly appeared under the thin fabric of the captain's unforgiving sweatpants.

Steve's fingers curl into the sheets at his sides, blush high on his cheeks, embarrassed and irritated that even in a dream his body would betray him so easily, "Tony, stop it. You-"

"This is just a dream, Steve," Tony murmurs, "Yourdream, and no one ever has to know. It's all in your head…"

Steve's mouth opens and closes as Tony's fingers slide lower and lower down his stomach.

Eyes wicked, Tony tilts his head and runs tongue and teeth over his lower lip, mouth curving into that teasing smile once more as he murmurs,

"So stop trying to control yourself, and just give in to it."

"Come on, Captain," he breathes, "I know you want to."

Steve's heart is hammering so loudly in his chest that Tony can almost hear it, but beneath his tented fingers, he can certainly feel it.

Smirking, he moves his hand the scantest bit lower.

"Stark-" Steve growls, abruptly, grabbing his wrist.

And Tony freezes.

. . .

"Say that again," Tony murmurs, eyes glinting in the darkness.

Steve just looks at him, confused, his hand still encircling Tony's wrist.

"…What?"

Tony slowly leans forward, and stops bare inches from his face, breath hot against his skin.

"Call me Stark."

The demand sends raw heat shuddering through him, and Steve can't think, not with Tony so close. His eyes are fixed on Tony's open mouth, and something curls in the pit of his stomach. He swallows, and looks up.

Any feeble protest he intended to make dies on his tongue the instant he meets Tony's eyes.

A jolt sears up his spine as he sees something deep in the darkness of those distended pupils, the glint of something fiercely primal, glittering in the black. Its intensity snatches the air from his lungs as it connects, and for a moment, speech abandons him.

And then, in a single breath that is both a command and a plea, Tony whispers, "Steve…"

His own name is almost lost in the sudden roaring in his ears, but he sees Tony's mouth form the word and he is drowning in those eyes again, those pleading, commanding, controlling eyes, black orbs burning with a hunger that threatens and promises to consume him, body and soul, in its blinding heat, and his heart is suddenly frantic in his chest, pulse wild, erratic, and he draws a single shuddering breath.

Though every fibre of his being is telling him that this a lie, that no dream could ever feel like this, he longs for it, longs to give in to it, because he could never even darehopefor this to be real, for this to be the real Tony, solid under his fingers, not some wraith conjured by his mind in the small, silent hours of the morning, not some cruel imitation that would vanish like mist, disappear and dissipate like vapour, when the dawn came and the sun touched it. The cold light of day would force such a ghost far from his reach, set its shadow feet to flight, and this Tony, who somehow felt so real and so honest, whose weight felt so true and so solid on his body -and Steve's mind is screaming at him that this is truth, not a mere concoction of sleep and midnight fantasy- would disintegrate in his hands when morning came.

He could never have the real Tony like this, no matter how many times he wished it in the dark, quiet corners of his mind, in the secret spaces of his heart, and with the thought of this fleeting, impossible moment passing him by, the thought of this Tony, spun of starlight and the fragile fabric of dreams, melting into nothing in the harsh glare of the coming day, without Steve having savoured the taste of him, the scent of his skin, the sound of his voice as he comes undone, all the things he craves but could never admit…

With that thought, the sheer strength of the feeling that seizes him, that he cannot let that happen, threatens to overwhelm him.

Tony's fingers above the base of his belly suddenly spread, moving agonisingly slowly, and as Steve feels them dip lower, he makes his choice.

Abandoning himself blindly to the spectral desires of these twilight hours, this impossible dream made wanton flesh, he breathes his name, and seals his fate with parted lips.

With one word, they dissolve.

There is fire in his eyes, fire in his belly, fire in his loins and in his heart, and all these fires melt together in a roaring inferno, a blaze, a furnace, all-consuming and all-encompassing, and there is no reason to deny it, no reason to fear it, to hold back or control, because this is a dream, a mere shadow, born from a thousand repressed moments, now white hot, blinding and burning him in this reckless pursuit, and he feels his dream come undone beneath him, melting in his hands as the fire burns them both, and the sound of it in his ears swells and cascades over him like a boiling wave, and he does not turn from it, but embraces it.

The blaze consumes him, and he does nothing to stop it as the flames swallow him whole.

Tony's cry is delicious agony against his ear, and he feels him spasm beneath his fingers as his body surrenders to release. Steve shudders with him, and, panting, sinks heavily into the sheets.

His vision swims and blurs, and a calm darkness descends. On a black sea, he floats, a glowing ember, still burning in the night.

Before sleep claims him, Steve feels the lightest brush of lips across his forehead, of fingers on his cheek. He wills his hand to capture them, his mouth to speak, but his eyes are already drifting shut, and his words are caught in the riptide of sleep, dragged down into silent nothingness, those dark unconscious depths where so many desires lie dormant in the light of day.

Steve hears footsteps recede, and a door close softly. The sounds merge, and fade into the silent cocoon around him. He wonders distantly why he would dream of Tony leaving, but the thought drifts past and disappears, escaping him.

The numbers on the clock beside his bed click over.

4:00am.

That night, he does not dream again.