Disclaimer: Really wished I owned Marvel but I don't.
Story: Five times Tony rescued Steve from the modern world, and the one time Steve rescued him.
Author's Note: Beta'd by the fabulous ravingbeauty thanks so much for all you do!
My Captain's Keeper
He wasn't sure when he became Captain America's keeper, but somewhere along the way he had.
They had started out as Stark and Rogers, but after the serious bonding that only came to those who faced death together regularly, they had become Steve and Tony. Which was why, after a particularly nasty day, Tony found himself slowly dragging his bruised ass past his room and comfy, beckoning bed towards a little known, rarely used room in the tower.
Slowly, silently, he tapped out the code and waited for the large metal door to slide open.
It wasn't a nice room by any stretch of the imagination. Packed with large, intimidating shapes covered in plastic, it housed ideas and concepts he'd either abandoned or cannibalized for parts. Not a place he ventured too often, but for some reason it was a place that Steve found solace.
Navigating further into the room, Tony reached a large transparent table. It was a concept he'd created for the Helicarrier that would allow users to manipulate data on the surface itself. On the first day of its use, however, Thor had thumped it in a fit of exuberance, splintering the delicate touch screen into millions of spidery cracks. The final effect was a shimmering rainbow interspersed with random lines of code.
Tony had chalked the whole thing up as a learning experience and had chucked it into his room of ruined dreams, where Steve had discovered it.
Reaching the table, he leaned heavily on it and rested for a moment before slowly dropping to his knees and crawling under the massive failure. Groaning, he settled on his back beside the figure already laying quietly in the dark, silently staring up at the glitching glass table.
Tony said nothing. He could talk all day when the occasion called for it, but sometimes… it was the silence that spoke more. Settling in for the long haul, they lay in silence a long, long, while.
Eventually the genius began to doze, eyes heavy. The day and his injuries were beginning to take their toll.
"Do you know why I come here?" Steve said softly.
Tony didn't open his eyes. "To get away from me?" he teased with a half smile.
Steve huffed a tired chuckle, "Well, yeah, but there's another reason."
The genius waited patiently. He had learned rather quickly that Steve moved at his own pace. There was no rushing the man, whether on the battlefield or in the living room choosing a movie.
"I like it because everything here is broken," he whispered, as if confiding some terrible secret. A dark brow arched as the blond elaborated, "Everyone keeps telling me I need to get up to speed, learn this or learn that. It's nice to know that somewhere along the line this amazing technology can be old, useless… like me."
Tony processed that for a moment. "Why are you useless?" he asked, finally turning to look at the man, his drawn features illuminated by the flickering lights of the table above.
"I'm obsolete technology," Steve said softly, sadly.
They were quiet again.
"You're right," Tony finally answered. "Technology becomes obsolete. It's a race to be the one blazing the trail."
He watched that honest face fall.
Ignoring it for the moment, he continued on, "The thing is, Steve, you have already withstood the test of time. When Clint and Natasha run out of ammo, when Bruce loses his anger, Thor his strength, and I my arc reactor… Captain America will still be standing."
Steve was looking at him, eyes wide, glistening wetly. Tony felt strong fingers curl in his own slowly, hesitantly. Quietly they lay side by side under the table, staring upwards at the cracked and broken technology.
"Mr. Barton is calling, sir," JARVIS alerted Tony, interrupting him mid weld.
"Put him through," Tony mumbled, ignoring the sparks flying around him.
"Tony, how busy are you?" the archer's dry tone echoed around the lab. The engineer didn't miss a beat and finished the weld.
"I told you, I will get to your goddamn arrows. I'm working on a new-"
"Tony, Steve's up a tree and won't come down."
That got his attention.
Dumbfounded, Tony worked his jaw a moment. "Say again?" he finally managed.
"He's up a tree in Central Park refusing to come down."
Tony had really thought there was nothing left to surprise him in this world. In all honesty, with the sheer amount of madness they saw on a regular basis, it was difficult to find anything these days that shocked him. But somehow Steve Rogers managed to blindside him with amazing regularity.
Like today, for instance.
"You're not going to believe it," Clint replied mildly as Tony sat beside him on the bench. The inventor hadn't really bothered to change, simply pulled on a hoodie over his dirty white tank and ratty jeans, a pair of aviators perched on his nose.
"Try me," he invited.
"There was a cat."
Tony sighed, "You're kidding."
The blond chuckled, "I wish I was. From what I could gather, he went up to get the cat. The cat came down on its own. Some stupid kids watching weren't very nice about the whole thing. All said and done, the social media sphere is humming."
Tony pieced the rest together, "So SHIELD sent you out to investigate. You try to talk him down?"
"I thought it better to call the keeper of the Cap."
Iron Man gave him a look. "Not sure when I got that title."
Leaning back, the assassin pinned him with a look over the top of his gascans, "You're the only one he'll listen to." Clint gave him a friendly pat on the back, complete with a shit-eating grin.
Giving the too chipper man a glare, Tony stood and sauntered slowly over to the tree. Pulling his hands from his pockets, he settled his sunglasses atop his head and looked upwards into the green leafy canopy. Steve was pretty high up, but for the most part he was concealed; Tony could just see his feet dangling.
Sighing, the shorter man reached up to grip the closest limb, hoisting himself upwards. Tony couldn't remember the last time he had climbed a tree. Maybe he never had – damned if he knew.
Still, being a superhero did wonders for the physical fitness. Within a few minutes, he was settling on a branch beside the big man.
Silently looking out across the park, Tony waited. It actually was quite nice up here. The sounds of the city were unable to reach their tree, the noise of traffic replaced by the sound of kids yelling in the distance, the ring of an ice cream cart, and the whisper of the warm early summer breeze.
"I'm sorry they called you, Tony," Steve said.
"Don't be silly," he shrugged. "I hear you saved a cat."
Snorting, the Cap looked at him dejectedly, "Cat jumped out on its own."
Nodding, the dark headed man shifted, "So why you still up here?"
The blue eyes looked sad. "There were some kids, and they said some not nice things."
Tony waited, "What kind of things?"
Captain America looked uncomfortable. "They said I was a stupid old man worrying about some dumb cat," he mumbled, looking down at his lap.
"Want me to beat them up?" Tony asked gravely, without a trace of humor.
Steve looked up at him quickly, shocked, "No, of course not! They're just kids… talking…" he trailed off as Tony arched a brow.
Steve heaved a sigh, "I'm being silly, aren't I?"
Tony gave him a half smile, "No, never."
A tentative smile crossed his face. "Thank you, Tony," he smiled.
Tony reached out and gripped a big hand. "You ready to come down now?"
He watched curiously as Steve nodded and moved to bring himself closer. Blue eyes flickered briefly between dark brown eyes and smirking lips. Before Tony could wonder what was happening, Steve closed the distance and their lips met in a slow, sweet kiss.
Steve pulled away with a blush staining his cheeks; Tony grinned widely, warmth settling in his chest.
"Ok?" Tony asked, squeezing his hand gently.
Steve nodded smiling, "Yeah."
"No, I don't think these numbers accurately reflect the target demographic."
Tony Stark was not having a good day. Why were people such morons?
Damn Pepper and her damn vacation. While she was off rest and recreating with Happy, he was stuck here with these idiots in one boring board meeting after another. They were both traitors as far as he concerned.
Still, all that cursing didn't change the fact he was still here and they'd been arguing in circles for the last three hours. Tony more than ready to fire the whole damn lot of them; it was his goddamn name on the side of the building, so he could do as he pleased.
"But sir, people are willing to pay for this clean energy. We can name our price."
The billionaire rounded on the suit, eyes narrowing as he prepared for a fight. The lucky asshole was saved as Tony's cell blared nosily. He knew right away it was his private line – never good.
Still pinning dumb shit with a stare, Tony answered, "Stark."
On the other end was Bruce, sounding worried. "Tony, can you get down to SHIELD?"
Curious, he crossed his arms, "Why?"
There was a pause, "They have Steve in the lab, and they've been trying to see if poisons will have any effect-"
Tony was running out of the boardroom before Bruce even finished.
Tony was pissed.
Actually, he was so far beyond pissed he couldn't remember ever having been this angry in his entire life. He stood before Fury a barely controlled ball of rage. The last place he wanted to be right now was in the Director's presence, but this had to be dealt with immediately.
There was no way in hell he was going to go through the last hour and half again.
"What am I looking at, Stark?" the man in leather muttered, staring at the files before him on the tablet.
"That is a document the military signed after Captain America was classified as KIA, lost with the Hydra plane over the Arctic. It forfeited any rights and or ownership of the man, turning him over to Stark Industries."
There was a very pregnant pause.
"Technically Captain America is SI property."
It was a distasteful thing he was doing right now. Tony Stark didn't like the idea of owning anyone – Steve was his own man. But if doing a little bit of wrong would make sure he was protected, then so be it.
Fury heaved a heavy sigh, "Look, Stark. About what happened in the lab today-"
Tony held up a hand, "Nope, I really don't want to hear it. This is a legally binding contract, which as of now will be upheld. If Captain Rogers is asked to do anything, Ms. Potts or I must be contacted prior."
He leaned forward over Fury's desk, dark eyes steely cold, "Do I make myself clear, Director? If you wish to remain on good terms with Stark Industries, I suggest you agree to this."
Reluctantly and probably very grudgingly, Fury nodded and gritted his teeth.
Satisfied, Tony turned on his heel and walked out of the office, barely resisting the urge to punch the man right in the face.
"How you feeling, big guy?" Tony sat on the edge of the bed, setting the freshly dampened cold cloth back on Steve's forehead.
Steve looked like utter hell. He was pale and sickly, dark circles under his eyes; his normally bright, vibrant blue eyes were dull and lackluster.
"Feeling a little better," he managed, voice hoarse.
Tony winced in sympathy and picked up the glass of ginger ale from the nightstand, holding the straw steady so Steve could take small sips. Replacing the glass, he ran an absent hand through Steve's mussed blond locks.
"I'm sorry for ruining your suit, Tony," the soldier looked beyond embarrassed.
Chuckling, the billionaire rolled his eyes, "No big deal, I can always buy a new suit." There was no way he was going to try and salvage it – not after Steve's serum-enhanced body had violently rejected whatever cocktail the doctors had given him all over it.
"Speaking of which, Steve, if they ever try to get you to into the lab at SHIELD, you say no."
The blond blinked, owlishly confused.
"I won't bore you with the technical junk, but if they want to experiment on you, they need to go through me."
Steve smiled softly, "Thank you, Tony." A big hand reached out grabbing his. "Stay with me?"
Tony pressed a kiss to the man's cheek, "Always."
"No, you have it wrong here, here, and here," Tony pointed to the flaws in the design as the men and women in lab coats furiously scribbled and tapped on their tablets.
"Boring," he pushed aside a new phone design.
"Dumb," he dismissed another.
He moved through the other projects, pausing here and there to improve or reject. He'd never admit it, but he did enjoy his monthly tour through R&D. It was always fun keeping the geeks on their toes.
Tony had almost finished his tour when his phone went. After glancing at the ID, he answered it, still focused on the project before him.
"Widow, what can I do for you?"
"Stark, it's Steve," she said with a sigh.
"I'll be there in ten," he said without hesitation.
"Talk to me, Tasha."
He joined the woman, wondering why they were standing in front of the equipment closet in the training area. Glancing at him, face impassive, she beckoned him a short distance away. Curiously he followed.
"There was a bit of an incident today with one of the new recruits."
Tony arched a brow, waiting; he knew Steve was currently teaching hand-to-hand combat.
"Apparently she had imagined some sort of fictitious relationship with the Cap."
Tony winced, hoping this wasn't going the way he thought it was.
"She confronted him today during training, caused a scene… and the Cap locked himself in the equipment room."
Tony clenched his fists. Steve had a bad enough time dealing with women in general, let alone aggressive, obsessed stalkers. "What about her?" he asked.
Tasha rolled her eyes, "She was a cadet, and a bad one at that. She has been let go."
Satisfied, he nodded and headed to the door, ignoring the twinkle in Natasha's eyes.
"Steve, it's Tony," he called through the closed metal, waiting patiently as he heard shuffling within. Slowly the barricade opened and a blushing Steve Rogers looked at him, shamefaced.
"Tony?" he asked softly before pulling the shorter man into a tight hug, burying his face against the warm neck. The genius gently rubbed his back, allowing Steve to hold him as long as he needed.
"Bad day?' Tony asked, feeling the watery chuckle against his neck.
"Yeah." Slowly Steve pulled back, pressing a warm, intense kiss to Tony's lips. It should have been chaste, but once he started, he didn't want to stop.
It was some time later when they parted, lips kiss stung and swollen. Tony was unable to help the stupid grin sliding across his face at the thought they were making out in SHIELD equipment room like a couple of teenagers.
"Ok?" he asked kissing a soft, blond temple.
Steve sighed, giving him a half smile, "I am now."
Nodding, Tony laced their fingers easily. "Come on, I'll take you for burgers."
Blue eyes lit up, "With malts?"
Chuckling, the billionaire led them down the complex maze of hallways, "Of course."
He was sleeping when Thor called.
Groggy and disoriented, he knocked his cell to the floor before diving after it, half hanging out of bed as he answered with a dazed, "Stark."
"Brother Anthony, I am most pleased to have reached you."
Wincing, the billionaire held the device away from his head. Thor hadn't quite figured out the intricacies of voice modulation.
"Yup, I'm here. What's wrong?"
There was a pause. "Our Captain Steven is in some need of assistance."
Tony rolled the rest of the way out of bed, moving to see how badly his suit was wrinkled. "What's wrong, blondie?"
"He is most worried about some women trying to purchase him for an evening."
Tony froze, mind trying to pick that apart. Women purchasing him?
Suddenly it hit him. "The bachelors auction," Tony mumbled, hearing Thor grunt in agreement.
"There are some most heinous ladies with designs on the good Captain."
Tony didn't doubt it for a second. "I'll be there in ten minutes."
He couldn't believe he had forgotten about the auction.
No wonder no one had been home when he'd dragged his jetlagged ass in. He and Pep had been on the other side of the world for the last week, and the ridiculous charity event had escaped his mind.
Steve had agreed to it sometime ago – all it had taken were the words "charity" and "wounded vets" and the blond had caved. Now, staring down the barrel of rich, dirty old women, it would seem the luster had worn off the event for Steve.
Tony didn't bother to find a tie; he just smoothed the wrinkles out as best he could and hurried out, managing to arrive in grand fashion midway through the bidding war for Captain America.
With well-practiced ease, he slid into the crowd, not even caring that he was undressed for the black tie affair. He was Tony Stark – everything he did was eccentric.
"100,000 dollars!" a older woman called out; she was curvy and red headed, all but falling out of her dress as she eyed the blond like a piece of meat. Bosom heaving, she licked red lips expectantly.
"150,000!" another voice called. This was a younger girl, sixteen by the look of her, no doubt with daddy's charge card in hand.
Up on the stage, Steve was looking between the two with expressions of equal horror. Neither one of these was going to end well for him.
"300,000!" The women glared at each other; it was a battle of wills. Or pocketbooks. Tony wasn't sure which.
"500,000," he called out and the room took a collective breath. All eyes turned to him, including Steve's grateful blue eyes, which all but lit up when he saw who it was.
Pouting, the young girl looked ready to try and out bid him when daddy put his foot down, giving Tony a small nod. The genius didn't envy the man; there was a temper tantrum coming.
"550,000." Red dress wasn't giving in.
Sighing, Iron Man maneuvered closer to the stage.
"600,000," he returned.
The auctioneer looked ready to pass out.
Now that the would-be cougar looked ready to kill him, Tony stuffed hands in his pockets and grinned roguishly. "I can go all night, darling," he called out to the woman, the room rippling in laughter.
Realizing that she was more than outgunned by Tony Stark, she conceded with a grudging nod.
"Sold!" the auctioneer called banging her gavel.
Then Steve was running off the stage and straight to him. The genius wasn't sure if the blond looked like he wanted to laugh or cry. "How did…?" he trailed off as the dark headed man grinned tiredly.
Steve blushed furiously as his head dropped in defeat. "I'm so sorry, Tony. I'm always getting myself into these things… and you have to come bail me out." Shifting, he looked like a kicked puppy. "You must be getting so sick of it."
Then a callused hand tipped the blond's chin up, allowing dark brown eyes to meet blue.
"Steve, I'll always be here, no matter what. I'll always come." As he said the words, Tony knew he meant it with a surety he hadn't thought he possessed.
Steve looked like he was going to cry now.
"Come on, Captain America. I just bought a date with you."
"Mr. Stark! Mr. Stark! What is your relationship to Captain America?"
"Mr. Stark, is it true that you and Captain Rogers are in a homosexual relationship?"
"What is your stance on gays in the military?"
"Do you and Captain Rogers support gay marriage?"
Steve watched the press conference from the sanctuary of the Tower, worrying his lower lip the entire time, eyes focused on the cool, composed face of the man he had come to love more than anything.
Tony leaned forward, eyeing the reporters as he spoke. "I am here today to answer questions regarding the latest in arc reactor power, not my personal life," he answered very firmly, and Steve felt it like a punch to his solar plexus.
The press had been more aggressive than usual lately, coming after Tony with a single mindedness that bordered on obsessive. They had even tried to corner him a time or two regarding his relationship status with the billionaire.
Tony had told him just to say "no comment" and walk away. But when Steve saw these press conferences, it just made him upset and angry. He didn't like the way they went after Tony, even if the man had assured him he was used to it.
As Steve watched him fend off the press, he made a decision. Tony was always bailing him out; maybe it was time to return the favor.
As usual, as soon as the last of the enemy was dead or fled, the place was crawling with media and gawkers trying to get a glimpse of the Avengers. If there was one thing that Steve had learned in this time, it was the media ruled the day.
Captain America, always at ground level, was the first to be assaulted by the crush.
"Captain, sir!" they waved and yelled, making the blond want to hide behind his shield. Ignoring them for now, he looked skyward for the familiar red and gold. Happy when Iron Man dropped from the sky beside him, Steve turned to face him, smiling widely.
He watched as Tony retracted his helmet, revealing dark hair matted to his head. "All right, Cap?" he asked with a smirk.
A camera flash behind them had both turning.
Tony looked pissed.
The paparazzi began yelling again as a plethora of questions bombarded them.
Tony rounded on them, looking like he had every intention of giving them the standard line when Steve saw his chance.
Reaching out, he gripped Tony's metal shoulders and spun him back. Steve had just a second to see the genius's uncomprehending expression before he was kissing him, none too chastely.
Admittedly, Steve hadn't really thought his plan all the way through, and he was a little worried when Tony didn't respond. He was on the cusp of pulling away and apologizing, pretending it never happened, when suddenly metal arms were around him, pulling tight, as Tony deepened the contact expertly.
Steve lost himself in the moment, unable to pull away for long minutes.
When they did mange to part they were both panting, resting their foreheads together intimately.
"Ok?" Steve asked hesitantly.
Tony's well-kissed lips grinned, "More than ok."
"Hey, why are people cheering?" Clint buzzed in their ears.
The pair grinned, deciding not to respond.
Amused, Bruce answered, "Steve kissed Tony."
"About time," Natasha added.
Ignoring them, Steve twined his gloved hand with Tony's metal one, "Ready to face the world?"
The billionaire gave him a sincere smile, "As long as you're beside me."
Clint piped up again, "Gay."
Tony rolled dark eyes, "Oh yeah? Gay as your love for Bruce?" Steve laughed at the strangled yelp from the other end.
Grinning, Captain America and Iron Man turned to face the media. Steve was scared but resolute.
They may call Tony Captain America's keeper, but he was Iron Man's guardian.