Tonight Is Different

Moonlight falls delicately through a chink in the curtains. All is still. The silvery light dances over blonde hair, a white pillow, a sleeping eyelid. Tony watches, quiet, at peace. The pristine sheets are crumpled around them; their legs are still intertwined. Their temperatures have long since dropped and normally, Tony would be asleep but tonight is different. Tonight, Steve said his name.

The first time Steve came to him in the middle of the night, nothing happened. The blonde was in a loose tee and his underwear and shook Tony awake with a vulnerable look on his face. Tony said nothing, barely even awake enough to understand – he simply pulled Steve down to join him and went back to sleep, the blonde curled into his chest.

It was more than three weeks before he had another visit from the one he called the Captain. That time was so vastly different from the first. Steve was wrecked. His eyes were bloodshot and dark smears encircled them. His skin was pale, his posture was terrible – he looked the complete opposite of a superhero. Silent, he stood, for longer than a minute, then came to Tony and crushed their lips together.

It wasn't until the end of their moaning and heaving, until Tony felt his hair being uprooted, until he heard the final cry – "Bucky!" – that Tony knew he'd been used in the worst way. And Steve's silence over the next few weeks was only testament to the fact; he was a toy, an outlet of sexual frustration. He was experiencing the flip side of his own past. He hated it.

Over the course of several months, Tony allowed himself to be used again and again, in the same ways, in different ways. Steve would come to him, upset, confused and delirious and Tony would comfort him in the way he seemed to like best. It was always the same, the ending; a hoarse cry for his long dead comrade-in-arms.

On the outside, Steve Rogers appeared normal enough. He had a normal range of emotions, each of which was expressed in a normal fashion. He strutted about, supremely confident, taking down threats to the city with practiced ease. Tony knew better. Tony knew that underneath that smooth, sexy exterior there was a roiling sea of confusion, grief and anger.

Steve became increasingly rough in his treatment of Tony, the apex of which resulted in Tony's being unable to walk properly for several days. Bruises marred his smooth skin and even he could tell that he was miserable. Despite everything, he was falling for his user. If the others noticed, they said nothing.

Steve had come again, tonight. Tonight was different. Tonight, Steve was not the shambled semblance of a man that Tony was accustomed to. Tonight, Steve handled him with caution, even something close to care.

Tonight is the last time, Tony knows. He will never be what Steve needs, or wants. He will never be Bucky Barnes.