I'm back! Good for me!
Anyway, I must warn you! I made a mess of the Marvel Universe and the movies, so the characters time lines won't add up, so you're warned.
IMPORTANT! Now, I was fixing this a little and I realized that there were a lot of pages, so I decided to separate them into two chapters, so it would be easier to read, cause a friend of mine was complaining about how long it was.
It's Not the Mountain We Conquer
Steve tried to sound calm, but he was past annoyed. He almost had to leap for the brunette's arm the moment Tony's typical cowardice manifested in his, again, typical response to the kind of conversation Steve was trying to have. Somewhere inside the brunette's head, when Steve started talking about feelings it automatically meant retreat. At least Steve wasn't as upset anymore as he had been when all of this desaster started.
For Tony, if it was about running from their now short encounters and discussions, human nature seemed to break its own laws in favor of granting the genius super-speed. Even the super soldier had to admit that he wouldn't have been able to grab the genius' wrist to physically stop him if it weren't for his enhanced reflexes.
That and Steve was too angry at Tony's hurtful actions to let him get away. Not this time.
Yes, he had been lying to himself before; he was still pretty much as upset and frustrated as he had been at the start, if not more.
"Let me go!" Tony demanded marking each word with a forceful pull in a futile attempt to free himself, but Steve was sick of this, so sick of this. He was so tired of Tony running away from what was obviously happening between them, and Steve, for once, wasn't willing to respect his wishes, anymore. Instead, he tightened his grip until he saw a small wince show on Tony's face, and then he squeeze a little more until the genius stopped struggling and allowed Steve to relent his hold enough for it not to hurt anymore without losing any ground. "How dare you, Rogers? You have no right to force me to talk to you! Let me go, fucking now!"
With a controlled pull, Steve managed to crowd Tony against the wall of the kitchen again, finally being able to let Tony's wrist go so he could stop hurting him. The genius, of course, took this as a cue to struggle against him with renewed strength and colorful curses. This time, Steve surrounded him with his arms in a caring but strong embrace and waited till the stubborn man tired out.
"Get off me…" Tony ordered resignedly a few minutes later when he finally ran out of energy to resist. His arms stopped trying to push against his chest, but he kept his grip tight on Steve's shirt.
Steve backed up a little to look at the man in his hold but Tony wouldn't meet the blonde's eyes so Steve gently moved the hand that had previously been supplying soothing circles against the genius' back; he slid it up slowly against his back until it found the lowered face. He massaged behind Tony's ear with his thumb for a moment, just the way he liked it, and then he cupped his cheek when he saw the tension slip away from Tony's shoulders. Finding no more resistance, Steve directed that handsome face up in order to meet those distressed and hazed eyes with his own.
Without taking his eyes from Tony's, Steve reduced cautiously the lasting distance between them to nothing, as if expecting Tony to start thrashing out any time soon, but he didn't meet resistance when their lips met. It was a tender kiss; gentle and soothing. Steve wanted to pass on every emotion he was feeling through that simple touch. He was begging Tony to finally understand, to let actions overcome the words that the genious wouldn't listen.
It wasn't long before Tony closed his eyes and responded with the same emotion.
Tony's hands moved slowly to surround Steve's neck and Steve angled Tony's face using his grip on the brunette's jaw while the other pulled Tony impossibly closer. They kissed like that for what felt like hours, Steve denying any attempt from Tony to deepen the kiss.
When they pulled apart for air for the third time, Steve's immediatly thought that it just hadn't been enough. Never enough. But the way actions speak for themselves has a limit and they needed to actually talk about what happened.
"Steve…" Tony whispered breathlessly as if in a trance. His lips red with the kiss Steve gave him before all of this started. His hazy blue eyes were looking at Steve with utter adoration. It took all of Steve's will not to kiss him again, but he wanted Tony to understand something first.
"I have," Steve revealed and followed his statement with a chaste kiss, losing his inner battle and never leaving Tony's eyes. "I have the right, Tony; you gave it to me."
As Steve had expected, but hoped it didn't have to happen, Tony snapped out of his self-casted spell and rapidly tensed again. The genius pulled his arms away from his neck in order to make another weak attempt to push Steve away. His eyes returned to his usual sharpness and were now narrowed. Steve couldn't care less and just squeezed him tighter so Tony's arms were trapped between them again.
"No." Tony denied easily with a more forceful push. "I fucking didn't. You just took it without asking me. I gave you nothing and I will give you nothing, so let me go."
"How can you even say that? Why can't you give us a chance, Tony?" Steve asked trying to make those eyes look at him again to no avail. "Why do you have to make something so simple this complicated?"
"I'm a complicated kind of guy, comes with all the genius, you know?" Tony's smirk was so false that it almost made Steve grimace at its sight. "Maybe you should go bother a nice simple girl with all this instead, don't you think?"
"Damn it, Tony!" He cursed with his Captain America's voice, separating their bodies enough to shake Tony a little. The anger that he felt when the argument had first started returned to him with a force equal to a punch from the Hulk. "We have been through this, so stop it! You can't do anything to change my feelings for you! You are the one who had no right to set me up with some girl!"
"I just want you to be happy!" Tony said defensively, matching his rise of tone.
"And I just want to be happy with you." He stated without a pause. Tony's shocked expression only served to fuel Steve's rage. Just remembering Tony's wrecked face when he'd been introducing him to a girl from the genius' office had made Steve want to take Tony right there and then in front of everyone to witness. Even now, the urge hadn't gone away and the billionaire wasn't making it easy to ignore. "Why is it so darn hard for you to believe it!?"
"Because I don't want you the same way!" Even if Tony hadn't avoided Steve's eyes while saying this, the little tremor in his voice would have betrayed him.
"Bullshit! You couldn't be more in love with me even if you tried!" Steve accused.
"That's the bullshit!" Tony denied with fur, yet he was still avoiding eye contact. "How can you be so full of yourself? How can you fucking try to put those words in my mouth, Rogers?! That's it for humble Captain America for you!"
"Tony, I'm not blind nor an idiot no matter what you try to say." Steve said exasperated. For now, he couldn't take it anymore; the closeness was starting to drain his energy with every touch and every word. He decided to let Tony have his desired space in order to pace around the kitchen, even at risk of Tony fleeing. He was glad that it was three thirty in the morning and no matter the decibels of their yelling, it was highly unlikely that someone would step in on them. "I can recognize the way you look at me and I can tell by the way you always reciprocate when I kiss you."
"Oh, come on, that means nothing, Steve." Tony was obviously trying to pull it together so fervently that Steve wanted to cry. How far would this man go in order to tear them apart even if he didn't want to?
"Nothing? Then what about all the times we've had sex?"
"I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm kind of a man whore, so that's just-"
"Your denial has gone too far, Tony. You don't have to lie to me to convince yourself;" Steve interrupted Tony's thrashing of himself. The Captain usually got mad when the press speak that way about Tony, but it pissed him even more when it was Tony doing the insulting. "I'm not you, I can actually come to terms with my own feelings and the ones of the people around me. Why can't you just accept it? Why are you trying so hard to keep us from what could be a wonderful thing?"
"There is no us, Steve!" Tony finally screeched while punching the wall where he had been leaning against. Just where Steve had left him. "There is no us and there won't be us! That's the way it is and the way that is better for everyone involved! I think it's time for you to accept it and move on!"
It was a good thing that Tony had reinforced all the furniture in the tower in an almost unsuccessful attempt to stop buying a new living room every week. Steve didn't even notice when his hands stomped over the surfice of the kitchen table, making everything on it jump. Tony didn't even blink, but he stayed silent.
"I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm trying to move forward, which is way better. Braver even." The Captain implied. "The problem is that the guy I want to be with is an asshole and had been denying his feelings towards me for months now without any regard of what that's making us both feel. Sounds familiar?"
"Well, if he's such an asshole you should fucking ditch him and go find someone more suiting to your perfection!" Tony said in obvious frustration, yelling the last words. And now he was back to that again. Sometimes Steve just wanted to punch some sense into him. Or simply just punch him. That was probably why he walked to the opposite wall from where Tony was yelling; he didn't want to do or force something he would surely regret. "Believe me; he's not worth the trouble, so why don't you just leave him the hell alone!"
"He is worth it to me!" Steve exclaimed with another slam to the table and this time he heard it creak. "I don't give a damn if you thinks you're scum or anything you got inside your stupid head! That's right! Don't look at me like that! Even though you're a genius, you're pretty dense! I just want you to take your head out of your ass and admit that you love me! That we can be great together!"
When the silence that followed his statement stretched, Steve gave himself the chance to close his eyes and take a calming breath. When he opened them again, Tony was already at the door ready to run on him. Again.
"I can't." Tony whispered with obvious distress, all the fight gone. The drop in volume was so sudden that Steve almost couldn't hear him regardless of his super-hearing. "Steve, I can't, so please let it go. For both our sakes." He begged.
And when he left. And this time, Steve let him. He then allowed himself to collapse on a chair by the table with an enormous sigh. When he stopped hearing Tony's hurried footsteps, he put one hand over his eyes while the other pulled not-too-gently at his hair.
He needed to change tactics.
Steve's always considered himself, overall, an honest man; not needing to resort to any form of foul play and trying at all times to get towards his goals in the most righteous way possible. He was a man who knew what he wanted, but preferred to go to the moon and back to get it rather than to hurt some innocent in order to obtain anything the easy way. He was Captain America, after all.
But they did say that love brings out the best and worst of you.
Steve was tired of trying to debate on deaf ears and to demonstrate to blind eyes. He's been trying to dance with someone who refused to even step into the dance floor and he was starting to get desperate.
He'd tried everything that his friends had subtly suggested, everything the movies had shown him and even what the internet advised him to do. That was when he decided that the solution was probably something so far from normal that he had to consult some expert in the abnormal.
It had a lot of logic considering that Tony would never be a normal being and he required an unexpected, out of this world, solution.
So he went looking for Stephen Strange.
"He's not here, Captain."
Steve tried to keep the disappointment away from his expression when Wanda announced him the bad news.
They were in an empty warehouse but for a pile of boxes on the corner and the two desks full of things Steve haven't seen before and knew better than to ask about.
"I should probably not ask this-" Steve started.
"He's in another dimension." Wanda replied to the yet unasked question. "He's been there for weeks now. I don't know when he'll return."
"Oh, I see…" Something in Steve voice was strong enough for even Wanda to notice something was wrong with him. The super soldier wouldn't have noticed the unexpected interest if she hadn't stopped working on some kind of mystical circle in order to stare at him with a slightly intrigued expression. Steve decided to change topics before he made a fool of himself. "So, it's been a while, what are you doing here?"
"I am learning to control my powers and Dr. Strange offered to lend me a hand, so you will probably see more of me around him in the future." Wanda replayed without changing her curious expression even if she didn't question him further; it was as if she was waiting for the moment when he'd spill his guts while she played along patiently.
"That's great!" Steve tried with more enthusiasm than was probably considered genuine. "You're in the most capable hands considering your… situation."
An awkward silence followed and Steve fidgeted a little.
"Captain," she called finally. "What is it that you need?"
"Nothing, since Dr. Strange is not here. But it was really great to see you again, you should go to the Tower sometime, it would be nice for you to visit more often."
"I didn't ask you if Stephen was or wasn't here, and your expression clearly says that you still need something that is not related to your team." She said knowingly, deciding to ignore Steve's attempt to change topics. At Steve's hesitance, she decided to give him a little push. "Whatever you were going to ask Dr. Strange, you can ask the same to me. I'll do my best to help you."
Looking at the positive part of the situation, Steve thought that it would probably be trickier to ask the favor to Dr. Strange than to ask Wanda, even with the whole past-evil-witch story involved. It didn't make it anymore easier to talk, though.
"I really don't know what to do anymore. I've tried everything normal and not-so-normal and I had accomplished nothing. I need alternatives, options and I didn't know somewhere else where I could go." Wanda kept an unresponsive silence as her way of letting him finish blurting information. "I need something to make someone tell the truth."
"You're asking for a truth serum." It wasn't a question.
"If that's what it takes, then yes." He accepted with determination, the words more for him than for the witch.
"Well, there are generally three problems with that request," Wanda informed and Steve deflated a little. "Number one: I cannot allow such a thing to fall into the wrong hands." Before Steve could protest, she continued; "But that's not going to be a problem since I can imagine that you wouldn't be here if it weren't your last resource. Even though, I would have to make the proper amount for just one use and one use only."
"That won't be a problem." Steve assured with haste. He was grateful for the trust she was giving him; he knew she didn't give it to anyone easily this days. "I just need one chance."
"Which leads to the second problem," the witch continued as if she hadn't listened to his gibber. "I need to know who is it that you're trying to cast a spell on, if simply because of the need of having something of that person for the potion and I need to know how much to make so it would be enough for just once."
Steve had naively thought that he could get this done without having to explain himself. Tony and his problems were theirs and only between them. However, Wanda was making a solid point and he knew he had no right to be demanding privacy. That's why he was now even more relieved that he stumbled on Wanda instead of Dr. Strange; he couldn't even imagine himself trying to explain love problems to the wizard.
"Tony." He said as quickly as he could. Trying to decipher Wanda's expression at the mention of the name, Steve couldn't decide if it was confused or simply shocked. "Tony Stark?" he said awkwardly so there wouldn't be any confusion.
"I do know who Tony is, of course." She clarified, "What makes me astonished is that you'd want to use magic against him since he hates magic so much."
"He really left me without any other option," Steve defended himself, even if internally everything was yelling at him how much of a scum he was being. Wanda, ignorant of his inner battle, just smiled knowingly. "So what's problem number three?"
"Well, before that, you have to tell me what you want to happen exactly because it is Tony the one who's going to be hexed, so we have to be careful so he won't be harmed… unless you want to hurt him?" This she asked tentatively.
"No! Of course not!" the single purpose of this whole thing was to be able to care for him the way Steve wanted to and stop the horrible and torturous dance they keept going at. "I just want him to tell me the truth just once so that he can stop denying it and we can move, you know, forward." He finished shyly.
"And would that truth that you're searching for is the same truth in which he believes in?" she asked carefully. Despite the support that she had showed initially, the witch now seemed hesitant to help him. Steve thought that she probably had believed that he wanted it originally to question some kind of villain or something. "You mustn't deceive yourself, Captain. I do not know yet what the truth you're after is, but I do know that it may be the one that you're most afraid of."
"I'm not afraid of what he's going to say; I know what he's going to say." He said with determination.
"But the fact that you're here implies a certain amount of-"
"Desperation," Steve completed for her, not wanting her to try and dissolve his resolve about this, inner voice be damned. He was pretty sure of what Tony was going to say. There was simply no other option, all the 'one night stands'- as Tony called them- they've had were proof enough of the feelings that swam between them. It wasn't just sex for them, it was love-making. "As I told you before, I came here because Tony is stubborn and self-destructive and it doesn't seem that he will ever be honest about it. I want to know why."
"And what is 'it' that he has to be honest about?" The Scarlet Witch questioned with serene eyes. It was obvious to Steve that she already knew and she just needed to hear it from him.
"I want to ask him about his true feelings for me," He answered truthfully. "I don't want to keep asking his eyes or his body; I want to hear it from him so we can stop tormenting over this and actually start enjoying it as it's supposed to be."
"Love potions are forbidden even in the dark arts, Captain."
"I don't need something for him to love me!" he argued. She was not getting his point. It seemed to Steve as if Wanda couldn't believe in true, romantic love. But Steve got enough skepticism from Tony as it was, he really didn't need someone else adding to it. "I just need to give him no escape for the feelings that he already has."
"I must admit that you two have always had this vibe between you both, even from when I used to live in the Tower; it is possible that he return your feelings, but-"
"Wanda, I don't doubt his feelings."
"You doubt them enough for you to try to find closure within the mystic ways." She insisted. "You want to hear it from his lips so you will know for sure that you're not imagining his love expressions, that the way he speaks your name while you're together means what you are convinced it means. You want to know if your pinning for him will lead to the result you seek so desperately."
Listening to her uninterrupted point of view over the subject made something inside Steve turn with dread, even with all of his resolve and annoyance at her negative persistence. He definitely didn't want to think of the possibility that her words were true and all he has been doing is pinning after an idea that simply wasn't there.
"But that, Steven, is what makes you so amazing, in my opinion." She finished softly. Steve was sure the confusion on his face showed because Wanda elaborated with a small smile. "You'd give your everything to someone, to something, for the sole convictions that live within your heart.
"This is why people follow you everywhere, no matter what." She stated without giving space for arguments, "Anthony Stark is a really lucky guy. Too bad he's giving you a hard time."
"'Hard time' doesn't begin to cover it," He agreed easily, relived that her doubting was over. "So this means you're going to do it?"
"I just don't want you to get hurt due to all of this…"
Steve decided to reply to that with stubborn silence. Even if he did appreciate the sentiment, especially from Wanda, he had made his feeling on the matter clear enough; he didn't need to elaborate further.
"Yes, but I won't do a normal truth serum," She answered resignedly, and before Steve could protest, she continued, "This is the third difficulty, even if he took a truth serum, he would have the choice to remain silent; as long as he does not speak, the truth would be hidden." At the blonde's frustrated expression, she awkwardly touched his shoulder in a way of comfort. "So that's why, after hearing what you really want, I am going to elaborate for you an Honesty Serum. It will take longer, about three days, but I think it's better."
"And will that work?" Steve asked tentatively, not knowing what to think about the name exchange. Was it really necessary? It probably was; if Tony discovered he was being hexed before Steve wanted him to, he would certainly close his mouth and walk away in order to never speak to him again.
"It will," she assured letting her hand drop from his shoulder and putting it on her waist, "This way he will answer truthfully to any question that will be asked to him. It will be really hard for him not to say out loud what he's thinking, though."
"Well, that's a good thing, right?"
"It would be if the spell would only last for the moment you interrogate him, but considering this is the first time that I do this particularly hex, I don't know the duration. You will have to keep him isolated so no one tries to take advantage of him and you must protect him from any harm while the spell last."
"Absolutely." He agreed easily. It wasn't like he hadn't self-imposed the task to look after Tony in any possible way before.
"Then let's begin."
A week later, after all the necessary preparations along with Wanda's blessing, Steve had the small purple vial ready for use.
The plan was simple; he just needed to mix the potion with Tony's morning coffee and he would either keep him in the lab or, if he got difficult, he'd take him to an already rented hotel room by force and throw the key down the toilet.
He really hopped it didn't get to that point.
He went to the kitchen to start with the beverage and perhaps for the first time he felt relieved of not seeing Tony with the others having breakfast. He was probably engrossed with something in the workshop; he seriously doubted that he would be in his room sleeping so shortly after they'd had an argument the magnitude they had had a week ago. Tony normally needed at least that much to get over it and start acting as if nothing happened.
He greeted everyone with a "Good morning," and a small wave, and was equally acknowledged by the others with a couple of small nods, a jovial 'morning!' and even a hung-over 'what's so good about it!?' from Clint.
Steve put the freshly served coffee on a platter along with a stuffed sandwich instead of the scrambled eggs everyone was eating because he wasn't sure how long had it been since Tony ate something and Steve didn't believe himself capable of taking time from interrogatory – as Wanda had been determined to call it- to force Tony to come to the kitchen to eat. Besides, he will do a lot of imposing for one day to keep adding to the list. Even with those thoughts, he took a deep sigh to calm his nerves. Then he went to the cabinet for a bowl and filled it with fruit; Tony's health was still Steve's number one priority. Now and forever.
"Are you taking that to Tony?" Natasha asked while staring at him with an elegant, raised eyebrow as she buttered her bagel.
"Yeah, I already ate breakfast before I went jogging so I'm going to make sure he eats." He grabbed the platter and started his way towards Tony's workshop.
"Steve," Natasha called before he could exit the kitchen so Steve could turn and meet her serious eyes. "Good luck."
It was said with so much intensity that Steve was shocked at his lack of surprise when realizing that she probably knew what he was about to do. Steve had decided long time ago to let the mystery that was Black Widow knowing everything be; it wasn't worth the stress. Instead, he opted to take the chance when offered and asked, "Hold the fort while I'm gone."
The smirk he received in replay was enough for him to ignore the confused stares of everyone else in the room and to retake his way downstairs where Tony was.
He was glad when the doors opened without him even touching the security pad. If he didn't know better, he would say that Tony forgot to tell Jarvis to lock him out. But he knew better and Tony was probably waiting for him to approach him with a peace offer.
Then he remembered:
No more probably. Just the truth.
If there was any doubt in his mind for what he was about to do, it was totally whipped out just for the thought of no more if's. At least for a while.
It was enough for Steve.
He made his usual signal to Jarvis to turn down the volume of the astoundingly loud noise that Tony called music when he saw the future-deaf-man's back folded over his main workbench working on something Steve couldn't see. His body language clearly showing how tired he was.
When the music stopped abruptly, Tony snapped out of what he was doing to curse to the ceiling.
"Jarvis! What the hell!? I was listening to that!"
"As much as I am aware of your tendency of utilizing the music with the purpose of keeping yourself awake, sir, I shall-"
"I don't do anything to keep myself awake! I'm perfectly awake! Vegas awake!"
This was one of the things Steve loved about visiting Tony to the workshop: His banter with Jarvis was always fun to witness. Steve allowed himself a fond smile without daring to move from his spot and causing them to stop.
"Sir, with all due respect, you haven't been able to sleep well for the last week and you've been down here for sixteen hours straight. Even Dummy doesn't seem to know what to do with you anymore, sir. If my advice is to be taken, you probably should-"
"Jarvis, I love you and your infinite wisdom, but what you should do is put my music back on so I can continue doing… whatever this is."
"Sir, what I was initially trying to tell you is that Master Rogers is here."
That made Tony jump out of his chair and spin around to look at him with surprised, lost eyes. Steve could see now the deep circles around his blue eyes. The defense posture the genius got was somewhat insulting to Steve, but he had to fight the sudden desire to make sweet, slow, protective sex to him to show the genius he wouldn't ever hurt him.
"Steve!" he exclaimed with an obviously fake laugh. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"You haven't been up there for a while and I thought you could be hungry," he said simply lifting the platter so it could grab Tony's attention.
"Thanks for that, really, but I think I'm good."
Steve knew he was trying to subtly kick him out, so he resorted to the always useful, at least when Tony was involved, reverse psychology.
"You're right, I shouldn't bring you coffee when you're obviously sleep deprived," he said with a convincing shrug. "I should probably just go to let you catch some sleep."
As expected, Tony was in front of him in a blink at the mention of coffee and was already downing it with huge, scalding swallows. Every one of them marked by Tony's Adam's apple and a painful beat of nervousness from Steve's heart.
There was not going back.
According to Wanda, the hex should work the instant the vial touched Tony's inner throat, so Steve needed to make an experiment.
"So, are you eating the sandwich?" he asked casually. That was simple enough, Tony's normal answer should be a quick 'No, I'm not hungry!' if it didn't work.
"Probably later, when you leave so you can't see how hungry I am." He answered instead. Tony's eyes were wide when his own words registered; even Steve was shocked at the complete honesty. Now he understood the name-change.
"You should probably go now before I embarrass myself further!" Tony yelled suddenly taking the tray from Steve's hands and putting it roughly on the nearest table. Before Steve could comment on that, Tony was right back into the blonde's personal space trying, and completely failing, to push him towards the exit. "Like I just keep doing! I'm probably sleep deprived."
Steve took the opportunity and he grabbed Tony's pushing hands from his chest and held them between his bigger ones. "Do you want me to?"
At Tony's confusion and lack of response, Steve decided to elaborate; "You said I should go, but do you want me to?"
"Of course not!" Tony denied immediately shaking his head. "I really like it when you're down here making me company, but I'm afraid I will say something I shouldn't when I'm this sleep deprived."
This time, Tony's shock didn't last long. His face went from astonished to confused to utter furious in no time. Steve let the shorter's hands go so the genius could properly flutter them around in his well-deserved fury.
"You did something to me!"