Epilogue

"It all started in the first week of last year…Tony was an asshole and Steve was insecure, until they accidentally soulbonded which they somehow thought meant they hated each other, until bad stuff happened and they realized hey, shit, maybe we're dumbasses, they got together, and the rest is history."

"Oh come on, that's not how it happened," Tony rolled his eyes, breaking his kiss with Steve reluctantly, shifting until his back was against Steve's chest so he could re-engage in the conversation. "Clint's our resident drama queen, ignore him."

"Uh, okay." New kid shrugged. "I guess you're right, it's not like you can soulbond accidentally, anyway."

Tony and Steve exchanged a glance.

"Well, uh, actually, that part was true," Steve admitted.

"Really?" New kid's eyes went wide.

"They were a particularly special kind of oblivious." Bruce chuckled.

"A kind called stupid." Clint snorted.

"Don't listen to him," Steve advised the new kid, though he was looking at Tony as he spoke, smiling softly, "We were just…going about things in our own way, that's all."

"Right." New kid still seemed wary of Steve, which Tony of course found hysterical. Steve's whole discriminate-against-my-omega-and-I-will-fuck-you- up shtick was surprisingly effective in spite of his general state of loveable cuddliness.

"You look like you're gonna wet your pants or something," Tony snickered, "Relax, Steve's a teddy bear."

"Right." New kid repeated himself, fiddling with his backpack anxiously.

"He's telling the truth, really." Jane agreed. "If you don't have problems with omegas or Tony, you don't have problems with Steve."

"He's overprotective." Tony tipped his head back so it fell against Steve's chest, and he could look up at his ridiculous mate with what was probably an equally ridiculous smile. "But he means well."

"They're right, I didn't mean to make you nervous." Steve gave an abashed smile, scratching the back of his neck. "Sorry, Peter."

Peter, was that new kid's name? Tony probably would've remembered better if he hadn't been preoccupied watching Steve's gorgeous lips move instead of listening to what was actually coming out of them. It wasn't his fault he was distracted, he had more important things on his mind than some new yearbook kid Clint was recruiting. Today was his eighteenth birthday and he knew exactly how he wanted to spend it, aside from the general "not at school" part that both Steve and his mother had nixed. Tony had plans for tonight; very important, very sexy plans. He hadn't told Steve yet, of course, that'd ruin the surprise, but he also couldn't bring himself to stop thinking about it for any length of time. His attention span was, understandably, suffering the consequences.

"—ony."

"What?" Tony blinked. He'd been staring at Steve's lips again.

"Peter was talking to you." Steve smiled at him in amusement.

"Oh." Tony glanced over at the kid. "What?"

"No, it's not, uh, important, I just. They said you're student body president, right? I just said that's cool, you must've worked really hard."

"Pepper does most of it. I sign things." Tony waved off the praise.

"They won Homecoming couple last year," Pepper explained to Peter, "Not only are they SHIELD High's only soulbonded couple, but between Steve's popularity with the social crowd and Tony's popularity with the AP crowd—"

"Jock King," Tony jerked a thumb at Steve, then himself, "Nerd King. Very romantic, or so we've heard."

"—everyone knows them," Pepper continued, ignoring Tony's disruption, "It was obvious either one of them would win president if they even half-assed a run. I figured I could use Tony's popularity to my advantage and actually do some good for the school."

"Like I said, kid." Clint snorted. "Most efficient life-ruiner you'll ever meet."

"Well, I'm the one who very diplomatically agreed," Tony defended himself.

"By which he means that he whined and complained about how much work it would be until Steve gave him the puppy dog eyes about doing the right thing and helping improve the school, and he caved like paper mâché in a hurricane," Bruce corrected without even looking up from his book.

"Lies," Tony declared. Steve chuckled, and Tony turned to shoot him a look. "Hey, I agreed for the benefit of everyone. I don't do things just because you bat your baby blues at me, y'know."

"Of course not." Steve didn't sound like he particularly believed that, but he leaned in for a kiss and Tony decided—very diplomatically, because he was tactful like that—that Steve-kisses were more important than arguing his point further.

The conversation probably continued around them, but Tony lost track of it. The rest of lunch passed as it usually did, a blur of disjointed conversations marked by Steve-kisses in between. By the end of lunch Clint had talked Peter into joining yearbook and Jane had him signing up for science club, so Tony made a point to try and actually commit the guy's name to memory. Also, he made a note to remember to warn him about Johnny before he went to science club; Storm would eat a cute, bumbling little beta like Peter alive.

Eventually the bell rang, and Steve offered Tony a hand up. The group parted ways, splitting off to go to their different classes, though Steve stayed right in step with Tony. They had a fair amount of classes together; Tony may or may not have had a hand in that, though administration couldn't prove he'd made it through their firewalls, so really, it was irrelevant. There were a few things, like that Steve took AP Art for his last class while Tony had AP Physics, but for the most part they could stick together.

They made it through the rest of the usual day-to-day drudgery fairly quickly, and Tony was packing up after physics when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned excitedly, and it was only Pepper preemptively slapping a hand over Tony's mouth that prevented him from accidentally kissing her.

"You're not Steve," Tony mumbled into Pepper's hand.

"Thanks for noticing." Pepper gave a dainty little snort, handing Tony a rose with a slip of paper tied to it by a red ribbon.

"You're sweet, Pepper-pot, but I'm taken."

"It's not from me, idiot." Pepper rolled his eyes.

Steve had been hinting about his plans for Tony's birthday for weeks, though he'd insisted on staying mum about the particulars. Tony was admittedly impatient, and had been guessing what the plans were all week. Was this part of it? Steve was always so elaborate when he got romantic.

"From Steve?"

"No, your other soulmate."

"Always so sarcastic." Tony grinned, untying the ribbon and opening the note.

Because it only took one smile.

"Any clue what this is supposed to mean?" Tony raised an eyebrow at Pepper.

"It's a scavenger hunt." She shrugged. "I don't know what the note says, but it's supposed to lead you to the next clue. He said there's eighteen total, and he'll wait for you at the last one."

"Uh." Tony tried to think of the eighteen places most important to them, drawing a map in his head. "That sounds like it's going to take me a while."

"Don't look at me." Pepper just shrugged. "He said to tell you using the bond to find him is cheating though, and if you ruin the surprise he won't speak to you for a month."

"Then off we go, I guess." Tony slung his backpack over his shoulder. "I think I know where this one leads, at least. The bleachers are probably next, if he's thinking linearly—"

"I'm just the messenger." Pepper held up her hands. "You get to run this obstacle course of love on your own."

"What? But this could take hours!" Tony protested, "Come on, Pep, I'll be bored just driving around alone for hours."

"Places to go, butts to kick into line." Pepper clapped him on the shoulder. "I don't even know why he set this whole thing up in the first place, but just have fun with it, alright? I'm sure he has his reasons."

Tony resisted the urge to gape. Seriously? Pepper was the second real friend he'd ever made; they'd known each more than a decade! How could she completely forget it was Tony's birthday? But she was already out of the classroom before Tony could compose himself enough for so much as a "what the hell?", so he just gave a grumpy sigh instead, pulling out his phone and hitting speed dial as he headed out of the classroom. Steve picked up on the first ring.

"You're the only one who loves me."

"You know that's not true."Tony could practically hear the fond eye roll that surely accompanied Steve's words.

"Literally everyone except you forgot my birthday. Not just any birthday, either, my eighteenth birthday. Come on, what the hell's up with that?"

"I'm sure they'll remember before the day's over, Tony," Steve assured him, "They probably just had busy mornings. I take it Pepper gave you my note?"

"A scavenger hunt? Really?"

"It's of all our important moments, and the clues are reasons I love you. It'll be fun, I promise." Steve was using his best wheedling voice, and Tony knew if they were face to face, he'd be on the receiving end of some brutally adorable puppy dog eyes.

"Alright, alright. Man, every time I think you can't get any sappier, you prove me wrong." Tony smiled fondly. Yeah, okay, Steve could be ridiculous, but it was sweet. He knew exactly how to be romantic enough to blow Tony away, without being obnoxious about it.

"I couldn't really think of anything good to get you—"

"Steve, come on, I don't need anything—"

It was a cliché response, but it was true. Tony liked to build, to create. He didn't hold on to trinkets, certainly wasn't any kind of hoarder. He didn't need much in the way of things; running around town, reliving good memories, presumably with Steve at the end to make a few more? That was more than good enough for Tony any day.

"I knew you'd say that." Steve laughed. "Which is why I did this, instead."

"God, please tell me Thor's house isn't on this list of yours."

"I had to leave that one out." Steve gave a little sigh that Tony could tell meant he'd wanted to. "An hour's drive would've taken too long."

"How are you even getting to wherever this final destination of yours is? I drove you to school."

"Bucky's driving me."

"Why don't you just come with me on the hunt instead?" Tony put on his most convincing voice. "I won't even beg you for extra hints."

"Yes you would." Tony could practically hear the eye roll. "But I can't anyway, I have to get the final surprise ready."

"Aw c'mon, Steve, what fun is it if you're not coming with me?"

"I'll stay on the phone with you the whole time, if you want."

"You'd better. I can't believe you're abandoning me on my eighteenth birthday."

"I'm not abandoning you, Tony." Steve laughed. "It's just for an hour or so. Be patient."

"When I find you, you'd better be naked," Tony grumbled.

"Is that a threat or a promise?" Steve asked, his voice dropping to that one, too-seductive register that would always give Tony anticipatory shivers.

"Both," Tony responded, a fair amount of seductive promise in his own voice, "I've got a surprise of my own for tonight."

"Really?" Good, he'd piqued Steve's curiosity. "What is it?"

"Now who doesn't understand the word 'surprise'?" Tony smirked.

"Fair enough." Steve chuckled.

"Call you back in a minute, I'm heading into the biology classroom."

Tony hung up and glanced around, waving to the teacher and saying he'd just be a minute. He checked his old lab table, then Steve's, then the front of the classroom. Nothing. He was about to ask, when the teacher chuckled and pointed out the sticky note stuck to the top of the doorway. Tony grinned, thanked him, and found a stool to stand on so he could retrieve the note.

Because even when the odds are seventeen to one, you're fiercely courageous and refuse to back down.

The bleachers, obviously, even if the phrasing was strange. Tony pulled out his phone again, waving a quick goodbye to his former teacher as he hit dial.

"Seventeen to one?"

"That's how many players are on our lacrosse team."

"It still amazes me they didn't just beat us both up."

"I wouldn't have let them touch you," Steve told him, clearly somewhat indignant at being doubted.

"Please." Tony snorted. "We both know exactly how your protective streak would've gone over back then. You would've told me to run, I would've assumed you thought I couldn't hold my own, we'd have both stayed, and we'd have both gotten our asses kicked."

"It's too bad," Steve admitted, "Going to the nurse's together could've at least been a bonding experience."

"That would've been awkward when Hill walked in." Tony grinned.

"I didn't mean that kind of bonding, Tony." Tony could tell Steve was blushing by the tone of his voice, though he was trying to sound exasperated. "I'm pretty sure we could get expelled for that."

"One way to find out…"

"No."

"Buzzkill." Tony clicked his tongue. "C'mon, tell me that time in the science club classroom wasn't fun."

"That was a bad idea—"

"That was a fantastic idea, don't lie, you were into it. And Jane's the one who cancelled the meeting, it's not like the classroom was being used or anything."

"We're not doing that again, Tony."

"Y'know, that's what you keep saying, but I have some very fond memories behind the bleachers. And in the supply closet. And the bathroom."

"We're going to get caught."

"Not if we're careful."

"You're not careful!" Steve protested, "You're loud!"

"Are you complaining?"

"I am when you do it on purpose!"

"It's not my fault I'm such a sucker for your blush," Tony teased.

"You're going to get us expelled." Steve sighed.

"Oh, please." Tony made the hand gesture for waving him off, in spite of the fact that Steve couldn't actually see him. "We're legal adults engaging in consensual, soulbonded sex, we'd get a talking to at best."

"I don't think you understand the disciplinary system at all."

"Coulson's got a soft spot for you a mile wide, he'd talk Fury into letting us off the hook for sure."

"I think any favoritism might evaporate if he finds me doing that sort of thing on campus."

The second sticky note was stuck right under the bleachers where Tony had tackled Tiberius by more than a year ago. He plucked it off, scanning it with a smile.

Because you pretended not to understand History just to talk to me.

"You knew I was faking?

"What?" Steve asked, then, "Oh, you found the next note. To be honest, I only know you were faking now. At the time, I was mostly just hoping you wouldn't realize I was faking too."

"Okay, in retrospect, I kind of understand why our friends were so pissy about how long it took us to get our heads out of our asses," Tony admitted.

It was funny, thinking back to before they'd gotten together. In retrospect, the little things were so obvious; they'd been drawn to each other with little more than a smile. They'd played stare tag for the better half of two years. Tony had always walked by Steve's desk, Steve had always covered his sketchbook when he did. Tony had come to Steve for help with homework in spite of being completely aware of a little thing called google, Steve had always taken hours to eventually get around to giving answers. Steve passed him doodle-filled notes in class. Tony came to all his games. The lingering looks Tony had assumed were about his status had only ever been about him. The attempts to bed him Steve had assumed were about getting a one-off had just been a last ditch effort at something Tony thought was out of his reach.

They'd made a million assumptions. Guess the whole "when you assume" thing was pretty true, at least for them. But they'd come so far it didn't matter anymore, not really. They'd managed to make something wonderful, something damn near perfect, together; who cared what disasters it came from?

Tony ran around for another hour, following each moment, each fumbled chance and moment of realization and special date. He hadn't even realized how far they'd come until he replayed it all. He went everywhere from the hospital parking lot where Steve had first said "I love you" to the restaurant they'd had their first date. God, Tony remembered that one; they'd gotten lost on the drive over, had to forfeit their reservations due to lateness, and ended up getting food poisoning from the world's shittiest burgers at some dime a dozen diner two blocks over. They'd spent the night sick to their stomachs, but unable to stop laughing hysterically about the fact that they couldn't even manage to get a first date right.

He had to drive around downtown, too—the sushi place their first disaster-free date had taken place in, the part of sidewalk that had the TS + SR in a heart Tony had talked Steve into writing with him into the wet cement, the arcade they'd gotten a high score on Galaga at. Steve hadn't been able to leave sticky notes in most of these places—though Mr. Sato of SushiLand had been cool with it—so when Tony made it to each place, Steve just relayed the next reason/clue over the phone.

It was a little ridiculous, but as Steve had promised, it was definitely fun. He didn't even mind being left alone, mostly because Steve stayed on the phone with him the whole time.

"Last one." Steve told him finally, a smile in his voice. "Because you didn't kill me when I woke you up at four am in the morning."

Tony's throat stuck.

On their one year anniversary, the bastard had woken Tony up at four in the morning, shoved two canisters of black coffee into his hands, and rolled him out of bed. They hadn't even changed out of pajamas, Steve had just made Tony put a shirt on before all but carrying him and two backpacks out the door. The ten minute car ride was made up almost entirely of Tony swearing about being awake, whining about being awake, and theorizing about how Steve had clearly been replaced by an alien but postulating that he refused to have sex with the alien no matter how hot that might be because his heart belonged to the real Steve. Eventually they made it to Bucky's apartment building, and Steve used Bucky's building code to get them in, leading Tony up ten flights of stairs to the roof in time to watch the sun rise.

The two backpacks Steve had brought contained food, blankets, and video games, and from sunrise to sunset, they spent their entire anniversary alone together on that rooftop. They talked for hours about anything and everything that came to mind. They talked about their past, about their future. About themselves, their friends, the world; the dreams they'd had, the plans they'd made, where they wanted to end up. They talked until talking became kissing, until kissing became making love. When their energy for that ran out they ate lunch and played MarioKart, until they got into a fight that turned into wrestling that turning into making a little more love. Tony threw Steve's sandwich off the roof for some obscure reason he couldn't remember now that probably had something to do with the MarioKart fight. He definitely remembered laughing so hard they nearly pissed themselves when it actually hit someone ten stories below.

It had been unequivocally the best day of Tony's entire life.

"Yeah?" Tony grinned over the line.

"Yeah." Steve was grinning too, Tony could hear it in his voice.

"I'm five minutes away. I wasn't kidding about you being naked."

"I'm not getting naked, Tony. Someone could come up before you."

"Put a cinderblock in front of the door like last time."

"Then how would you get up?" Steve laughed.

"At least take your shirt off. Maybe your pants. Hey, while you're at it, underwear too—"

"I'll see you soon, Tony."

"Is that a yes or a no?" Tony tried to ask, but Steve had hung up already.

After ten minutes of trying to find a parking spot Tony eventually gave up, overpaid for a spot in the closest parking garage, and nearly got hit by a car while eagerly jaywalking across the street. After dodging that bullet, he punched in the code to Bucky's building and all but ran up the stairs, his excitement and anticipation growing with every step.

Yeah, okay, he was a little nervous too, but it was a good nervous. An eager kind of nervous. He was ready, he knew he was ready, and where better to try it than here? There was the sentimental value, but it'd also be nice that they could shove the cinderblock in front of the door and know they'd be left alone. They were both iffy about doing anything at home lately; Steve's mom had come home early a few weeks ago and embarrassed the hell out of them. They were just lucky Steve hadn't spontaneously combusted. Tony was pretty sure every inch of Steve's skin had been red with humiliation, and this was definitely not something Tony wanted interrupted.

He glanced around, made sure no one was watching, before edging open the door to the roof and slipping through. Steve was, unfortunately, not naked, though he did look just as handsome as ever. He had a whole spread and everything, air mattress, blankets, candles, the whole nine yards. He turned at the sound of the door closing, his face breaking into a thrilled smile the moment he caught sight of Tony.

"Happy birthday!" Steve threw his arms open wide.

It would never not be amazing how fantastically lucky Tony was. The open arms were probably just a gesture to what Steve had set up, not to mention he was balancing a familiar white box in one hand, but Tony tackle-hugged him anyway. Steve, being a fairly solid individual, was able to stay steady, just closing one arm around Tony to hug him close and press a kiss to his temple.

"Man, Randy's Donuts and you, birthdays don't get any better than that." Tony stole a real kiss, before swiping the box from Steve's outstretched hand and collapsing onto the air mattress. He flipped open the box. "Jelly-filled! You do love me."

"You know, I thought we might save those for after."

Steve fell back onto the mattress with him, throwing an arm around Tony's waist and leaning in close. He buried his nose in Tony's neck, drinking in his scent the way he always did when he was feeling particularly fervent. Steve brushed his lips over Tony's neck, more drifting than kissing, and the feather-soft sensations raced straight to Tony's already climbing libido. This was that sort of birthday date, then; well, Tony was more than happy to oblige.

Though not without a little teasing first, of course.

"After what?" Tony asked innocently between bites of donut. Steve hated raspberry-filled donuts. Tony adored them. He wasn't surprised Steve had bought them, it was his birthday after all—and frankly, Steve tended to go out of his way to spoil Tony at every god-given opportunity anyway—but it still gave Tony a warm, sentimental feeling, even as he teased Steve with an innocent smile. "You aren't having untoward thoughts about me again, are you?"

"Don't be ridiculous." Steve nipped at the spot just under Tony's ear, teasing it between his teeth, knowing full well it never failed to bring Tony to full attention. "I never stopped."

Tony took one last, quick bite of the donut, then moved the box off the makeshift bed. Before he could even finish turning back, Steve was already on the move, snaking his arm further around Tony's waist and abusing his football quarterback strength to haul Tony into his lap. Tony obliged with a smirk, swinging his leg over Steve's to straddle him.

"Eager?"

"I've been waiting." Steve kissed him. "All." Another kiss. "Damn." Another. "Afternoon."

Tony tugged Steve's shirt up and over his head in one smooth, well-practiced movement, and Steve did the same for him. He'd seen the expanse of skin on display before him a thousand times before, but god, it never got any less stunning to watch. Tony didn't know what drug Steve was taking, but there wasn't an inch of skin that wasn't smooth and firm to the touch, that didn't flex effortlessly every time he so much as breathed.

"Who was that telling me about being patient just an hour or so ago?" Tony reminded him, though his voice was bordering on breathless now. Just the sight of Steve without that flimsy layer of clothing was enough to have Tony ready to go. He tried for a smirk anyway, and Steve just kissed it right off his lips.

"Clearly a stronger-willed man than I." Steve paused, ran his tongue over his lips to catch the bit of filling that had smeared between them. "You know, I don't mind this raspberry stuff so much on you."

The thing about Steve—the great thing about Steve, and there were a great many great things about Steve—was that it wasn't even a show for Tony's benefit. Well, yeah, okay, he knew what he was doing, knew the spike of lust it drove through Tony to see Steve lick his lips like that, but he didn't do it on purpose. He was just like that. He was strong and gentle and gorgeous with every movement, and had a voice that sent shivers down Tony's spine whether he was telling him he ought to pay attention in class or that he tasted good after eating a donut.

Tony looped both arms around Steve's neck and kissed him hard enough to push him back into the mattress. He licked into Steve's mouth, curling his tongue and grazing his teeth over Steve's lip just the way he liked it. But then, they'd long perfected the art of kissing; between teenage hormones, too much free time, and a near-perfect soulbond, it hadn't been hard. Tony knew exactly how Steve liked to be kissed and when, knew exactly what kind would relax him after a hard day, what kind would make him sweet and cuddly, what kind would get him riled up. Tony could steal Steve's breath away anytime he wanted, and it was a power he delighted in abusing.

It was a power that went both ways though, and Steve was clearly putting every effort into stealing Tony's breath away first. He had both hands clasped behind Tony's neck, his palms wide and warm, a familiar, soothing weight. The tips of his fingers curled into the ends of Tony's hair, tugging when Tony bit his lip, not enough to hurt, just urging him on. God, ten minutes in and Tony was already painfully hard.

"What do you want?" Steve broke away to ask, kissing him again before he could answer, then continuing, his voice a soft murmur as he pressed the words into the skin of Tony's cheek, under his jaw, down his neck, "Anything you want, sweetheart. It's your day, let me take care of you. Let me—" Steve's face had turned a shade of red that wasn't arousal, but he seemed determined. "Let me blow you."

It wasn't that Steve was embarrassed about sex; Steve, as Tony had quickly and delightfully learned, loved sex. He had that all-American boy scout look about him, so Tony got stuck with the bad rep, but Steve had a libido that would put Don Juan to shame. He just wasn't much of a dirty talker, it didn't come naturally to him. He could refer to sex, could initiate it and make innuendo about it and was more than comfortable letting Tony know when he wanted it, but the words for it still made him blush like a virgin on prom night. Which was great—Tony loved his blush—but Steve knew Tony liked dirty talk, and it was obvious now that he was making an effort on Tony's behalf.

"Not gonna argue with that." Tony grinned, already rolling off of Steve to start yanking his shoes off.

Steve gave blowjobs like he kissed—enthusiastically. He was sliding between Tony's legs almost before Tony had kicked his jeans off, hands splaying reverently over Tony's hips. He slotted his thumbs just under the ridges of Tony's hipbone like he almost always did, rubbing little circles there that sent sparks of anticipation and arousal racing through Tony's system like a drug.

"Lay back for me," Steve murmured, and that was what did it for him, every time.

It wasn't "lay back", or "sit up", or "make noise". It was always "lay back for me" or "sit up for me" or "let me hear you", always for him, always like Tony was doing him some kind of wonderful favor just by existing. Steve wasn't saying it to get him to do what he wanted, either; that wasn't who Steve was, not something that would ever occur to him. He just took everything Tony did as some kind of gift, just for him, and Tony was more than happy being just for Steve.

Tony complied and Steve took him slowly, drawing it out. He drew back to lick in long strokes, swirling his tongue around the tip before swallowing Tony down and sucking hard. Tony gave a wanton little wiggle, spreading his legs wider, and Steve glanced up at him through too-long lashes. His blue eyes were dark and dilated with lust, his pink lips curled in an amused smile still wrapped around Tony's dick, and it was a sight Tony had seen before, but it would never stop being one of the hottest things he'd ever seen. He could do nothing but drop his head back again with a satisfied moan.

God, how many blowjobs had Steve given him at this point? Yet every time Tony still felt inexperienced, like he'd somehow managed to forget how impossibly good Steve felt around him, how hot and wet and tight and fucking hell he shouldn't be this close this soon but it was Steve and zero to ready was a very, very short ride with him. Tony took a deep breath and clutched tight to Steve's shoulders, probably leaving the nail marks Steve loved. He could feel himself against the back of Steve's throat then and Steve shuddered but didn't release him, just sucked harder.

It felt like years—slow, torturous years—before Steve pulled back, before he was sliding a hand over where his mouth had been, slow strokes more of a placeholder than any real attempt to further Tony's freefall towards completion. He sat back, free hand still on Tony lazily, his other working off his jeans. Eventually Steve had to actually let go to wiggle out of his jeans, and Tony scooted back on their makeshift bed in the meantime. He knew he looked good so he spread himself out a little better, let Steve enjoy the view.

Steve clearly appreciated it, if the way his gaze lingered was any indication. He pointedly trailed a look from head to toe before breaking into a pleased smile and crawling onto the bed next to Tony. He pulled him on his side and into a sloppy, unhurried kiss, sliding his hand into place on Tony's hip like he always did. He did it even when they weren't like this. He did it at home, at school, when they were out; anytime he could, really.

He'd been embarrassed when Tony had asked about it at first, but he'd eventually admitted that while intoxicated off his ass at that first party, he'd had a thought he still couldn't quite manage to get rid of. He'd thought that his hand was made to fit into Tony's hip, the way the curve of his thumb slipped into place against the groove of Tony's bone, and the instinctive appeal of the idea had just…never left him. It was one of Steve's more possessive quirks, but it was one Tony didn't mind. It wasn't as if Steve didn't have a knack for drawing out Tony's possessive side too.

Steve broke their kiss to suck sharply on Tony's throat, to which he gave a harsh, guttural moan. The beautiful part of it was that back in the beginning, he'd completely expected to have to teach Steve how to give a proper hickey. Instead, his first try he'd given Tony one the size of Texas, glancing up when he'd finished, batting his baby blues with an innocent little 'how was that, Tony?' that nearly had Tony coming in his damn pants without any sort of other stimulation at all. So yeah, Tony learned to stop underestimating Steve in bed about as quickly as Steve picked up on what to do to make Tony's toes curl.

Steve worked his way up Tony's throat to whisper in his ear, "What do you want me to do to you?"

Tony hooked an ankle over Steve's thigh and rolled them over, hauling Steve on top of him in answer. Steve seemed a bit confused, his brow wrinkling just a bit as he tried to figure out what Tony was up to. They made out with Steve on top fairly often, that wasn't an issue anymore, but once they got past the part where they lost their pants, they didn't end up in any position that involved Steve directly above him. It was that thought, the looming part of it that made Tony nervous for so long—alright, still did, just a little—but he was determined to try it tonight.

"Tony?" Steve stroked his hair back, before dropping his hand and caressing his thumb over Tony's cheek. "You're sure?"

"Happy birthday to me." Tony just wrapped both arms around Steve's neck and pulled him in tight, kissing him hard and fast. "C'mon, baby. Make love to me."

It took a hell of a long time for Tony not to feel like he was in some dime store romance novel saying that, but something about Steve made it feel right. More than right—Steve loved it, practically came to life at the words, and how could Tony feel like an idiot about it when it made Steve so happy? It wasn't that "fuck me" didn't work, or even that Steve didn't like it—just that he liked this more, and that was enough for Tony.

Steve could always get him to do things like that. He could always draw the corniest, most ridiculous things out of him, things he'd be humiliated to let anyone else hear him say, but this was Steve. Things like embarrassment just didn't...happen around Steve. There was no point in it. Steve knew every ludicrous, weird, dorky personality quirk Tony possessed; he didn't care. Steve was just as in love, just as utterly lost to the bond between them as Tony was, and there wasn't a better feeling than that in all the world.

At the magic words Steve bent to kiss him again, slow and tender like he always did right before. They'd had plenty pretty frantic couplings—the time they had less than a twenty minute window in an empty classroom was a memorable one—but Steve never failed to slow down for that one, brief moment, like a diver taking one last deep breath of fresh air before going under.

Then Steve was sliding his hands along Tony's sides, gripping his thighs tight and hoisting up. Tony helpfully hooked his ankles around Steve, who pulled away to reach beside them, fumbling for lube. They'd abandoned condoms a while ago; they'd both been tested. He managed to get ahold of it and popped it open, slicking his fingers liberally and massaging the gel around to warm it up.

Tony knew Steve didn't do it to tease him, but damn if waiting didn't make him impatient anyway. He rubbed himself against Steve's thigh for a little friction, and Steve made a low sound of approval.

"C'mon, Steve, it's fine." Tony tried, knowing the words were completely pointless even as he said them. Unless they were short on time, Steve was ridiculous about always making sure it was warm. Tony wiggled petulantly anyway, rutting up against Steve. "Please, need you."

"Always need me, don't you?" Steve's voice was deliciously rough, a telling sign of his own growing need. "Always ready for me, always want it. Need me so much, don't you baby?"

"I do, I do," Tony interspersed the words with kisses, little nips at Steve's neck. His neck was incredibly sensitive, and little bites, little marks, drove him crazy. Tony knew just the words to say to get Steve to abandon his little mission with lube-warming, too, "C'mon, make me yours."

"Already mine," Steve growled irritably, knowing full well what Tony was doing and falling for it anyway like he always did, and damn if that wasn't the sexiest sound in the world. Steve crushed their mouths together, hot and wet and demanding, then he slipped a finger in, sure and skilled after more than a year's practice. "Always mine."

"Always," Tony agreed.

It wasn't bad, like this. Steve above him, in his arms, his lips warm on Tony's skin—hell, it was more than not-bad, it was damn good. He could get used to this. Frankly, he sort of already was, if the stream of moans he'd done nothing to abate was any indication.

"C'mon," Tony urged eventually, "Another."

"Too soon." Steve laughed against his skin. Tony always rushed him. Steve always ignored him. "You know it is."

"I can take it, Steve, baby, sweetheart, please—" It felt good but not good enough, and Tony rocked against Steve's finger eagerly. "More, c'mon—"

"No. You know I hate it—" Steve bit down on his shoulder reprovingly, though Tony could feel the curl of his smile pressed into his skin. "—when you rush me."

"Liar." Tony smirked, tugging Steve back up to his mouth and pressing the words between their lips with a filthy kiss. "You know what I hate?"

"Hm?" Steve murmured, not quite a full word, more of a 'go on' sound.

"When you hurry up and find my prostate. Totally awful. Hate it. So much."

Steve just laughed again, kissing his way down Tony's chest as he finally slipped a second lube-slick finger in, crooking both of them in search of it. It didn't often take him more than once or twi—there it was. Tony writhed, throwing his head back with a pleased shout of, "God, Steve!" One nice thing about being underneath; he could wriggle all he wanted and he wouldn't accidentally slip off Steve's fingers. That had happened a few times before, when Steve went after that particular spot a little too eagerly. Not that it was a bad thing, but. It was nice not to have to try and think about logistics while in the middle of enjoying himself.

Steve worked him open fairly quickly, and when he eventually removed his fingers Tony whined shamelessly. Steve ignored the impatient whine to pause and look at Tony, really look at him. He wasn't questioning, just watching, absorbing Tony with the thoughtfully reverent look that meant he was mentally committing Tony to paper.

Tony, well. He took a deep breath. This was Steve. Who cared what position they were in? It didn't matter, didn't change anything. He wasn't even doing it for Steve, not really. He knew damn well they could go the rest of their lives without having sex in this position and Steve wouldn't hold it against him. Probably wouldn't even think about it; that was just who Steve was, which was exactly why Tony wanted to do it. Maybe he'd like it, maybe he wouldn't, but he refused to let this be something he didn't share with Steve.

"Steve, fuck—baby, please—I need—" Steve silenced him with a kiss, and, lacking a pillow to place under Tony's back, Steve slipped his hands there and lifted him himself.

Without Steve's hands free it took an endless moment of positioning before Steve was able to slide in, but it was worth it. It was so, so worth it. It felt different this way, fuller somehow, and Tony moaned loudly into Steve's mouth. Steve waited a moment before moving, then went achingly slow, his hips an easy roll against Tony's. He adjusted his hands after a beat, releasing Tony's back to slide them up and cradle Tony's face, still kissing him through every thrust. He could feel Steve paying him even more attention than usual, searching for anything close to hesitance or discomfort in their bond. Tony just pushed over how fantastic he felt, let his pleasure surge into Steve like a shared wave.

"You got me, baby," Tony assured him through a gasp of pleasure, "You feel so—so good, Steve, so perfect, so mine. Just—need you, need more, please."

Steve gave a choked groan at that, and finally, finally started thrusting in earnest. He wasn't hitting home quite as often as usual, the new angle changing how he needed to jerk his hips to find that particular spot, but he was doing pretty goddamn well if you asked Tony. He keened when Steve managed to find it again, a high, helplessly desperate noise.

"Tony, God, Tony—" Steve moaned with such rich, pure desperation, and god if his name didn't sound best on Steve's lips.

Their senses were already blending; it always happened once they got going, and was probably the single best thing about soulbonded sex. There weren't words to describe it, not any that would do it justice, but Tony figured it was the closest thing to being one person. He could hear them breathing in time together, feel the slap and slide of sweat-slick skin, see the love and desire in Steve's eyes and knew it was mirrored in his own. They shared that beautiful, perfect headspace as long as they could, before Steve's thighs shook and his thrusts became erratic and his hips snapped forward once more, deep, and they lost it.

Tony felt Steve swell, felt the burst of electricity in his veins and stars behind his eyelids, and he surged up into the kiss with one last swipe of tongue before they broke apart, gasping. Steve buried his face in the crook of Tony's neck, panting hard, his hips still giving a few more helpless spasms as he rode the aftershocks.

Tony reached up a tired hand, threading his fingers through the stray, sweat-damp wisps of hair that had fallen over Steve's face. God, how had he managed to put this off for so long? Steve was beautiful above him, all golden skin and radiant warmth, eclipsing everything else in the best possible way.

"Love you." Steve slumped over, well-practiced in finding ways to rest against Tony afterwards without letting his weight crush him.

"Love you," Tony murmured back, pressing lazy kisses to Steve's hair while Steve did the same to his chest.

They were quiet for a moment, the usual haze of pleasure and satisfaction settling deep in their bones. They were usually knotted together for at least ten minutes, sometimes fifteen; it took at least three just to breathe again.

"D'you plan it?" Steve asked eventually.

"Plan?" Tony exhaled softly, still too pleasure-buzzed to fire off the brain synapses required to know what Steve was talking about.

"This. Me. On top."

"Sorta. Occurred to me…few days ago. Thought I'd wait. Make it a birthday present."

"It's your birthday. You're not supposed to give me a present." Steve sighed in fond exasperation, his hot breath raising goosebumps on Tony's neck.

"Who said it was for you?" Tony snorted. "This was definitely a present to myself."

"You liked it?"

"You know I did."

"Want to hear it."

"I loved it, baby. Relax."

The beautiful thing was that at Tony's instruction Steve did relax. He could feel Steve let go of that last little bit of tension, the little part of him that felt guilty for enjoying it so much if he wasn't 110% sure Tony had. Tony raised his hand again, stroking through Steve's soft hair. How could his hair be so much softer than everybody else's, than Tony's? They used the same shampoo. Was it genetics, or Steve-magic, or what?

"Your hair's soft too, Tony." Steve hummed against Tony's chest.

They were always able to tell how the other was feeling, or what the other might be focused on; when they were knotted, that connection was intensified, razor-sharp and incredibly clear. It wasn't quite mind-reading, Tony couldn't hear Steve's voice in his head or anything, but it was damn close. Their conversations in the afterglow of sex tended to drift between verbal and not.

"Not this soft." Tony pushed a few stray strands back. Steve always had the wildest sex hair, mussed and out of place and utterly breath-taking.

"Aren't you going to tell me my hair look sexy pushed back?" Steve grinned up at him, and Tony laughed at the Mean Girls quote.

"You're certainly distracting in math class."

"You're distracting in math class." Steve snorted. "Only one of us can do theorems in their sleep, Tony. I need to actually pay attention."

"Why pay attention when you've got me to tutor you?"

"Funny, but I can think of more interesting ways to spend our free time than math tutoring."

"Fair point. How long do we have, anyway? Up here, I mean."

"Mom's got the late shift." Steve shrugged. "We can stay here or go home, it's up to you."

"How late?"

"Midnight, I think. It's on the bulletin board at home. Don't you ever check it?"

"I've got you for that." Tony grinned, pressing a kiss to Steve's hair. "Why don't we head home once we can then? This is nice, but it's going to get cold, fast, and we've got the house to ourselves…"

"Don't need to tell me twice." Steve pushed up on his elbows for a thorough, eager kiss, smile evident in the curve of his lips against Tony's.


"Should we—"

"Nope." Tony cut him off with a kiss, pressing Steve up against the car. "Leave it."

"But—"

"We can bring the stuff in later," Tony told him firmly, cupping the erection Steve was rubbing against his thigh, "This seems like a now problem."

"When you're right—" Steve took him by surprise, hoisting him up by the ass so Tony could hook his legs around Steve's waist. "—you're right."

"Don't be—" Tony's sentence was interrupted by a peppering of kisses. "Ridiculous—I'm always—right."

"Whatever you say, dear." Steve hummed in amusement, sucking sharply on Tony's earlobe.

"Fuck," Tony hissed, "Get inside or I'm ripping your shirt off in front of all the neighbors."

"Yes, dear."

"I'm going to smack you."

"Promise?" Steve batted his eyelashes flirtatiously, and Tony just dipped in for another, deeper kiss.

They wandered around a bit—mostly because neither of them were quite willing to stop kissing long enough for Steve to see exactly where he was going—but eventually made it to the door. Steve managed to unlock the door with one hand, keeping Tony up with the other—ah, the wonders of football player strength—and they stumbled inside, Steve's shirt already halfway off before the lights flicked on all on their own.

"Surprise!"

Steve very nearly dropped him, and they both snapped their heads around wildly to see every friend they'd ever made popping out from behind various pieces of furniture. Most of them were rolling their eyes or staring at Steve critically, and Steve himself looked about two seconds from imploding of mortification.

"Oh, God." He let Tony down and yanked his shirt back into place. "I completely—"

"Forgot, yeah, we guessed that." Pepper snorted.

"I'd wish you happy birthday, Tones, but you seem to be doing alright." Rhodey grinned, the first to move out from behind the furniture.

"Rhodey! You got leave!" Tony whooped, throwing his arms up and charging over to tackle his friend.

"Of course I did, idiot." Rhodey clapped a hand on his back. "And can I just say how glad I am you kept your pants on this time?"

"No kidding," Bruce laughed, shaking his head.

"This day of birth marks your adulthood, Anthony!" Thor picked up him up in a near-painful hug. "Tis most joyous! I am pleased to celebrate this delightful occasion with you! I would have come bearing alcohol, but Steven informed me this would be a grave mistake."

"Yeah, alcohol in this house is a no-go." Tony clapped Thor on the back, mostly in the hopes he would then be let go before he ended up with a crushed rib. "Kudos for the thought though, big guy."

"Thor." Steve laid a hand on Thor's shoulder. "Let him go, you're going to break something."

"Yes, of course!"

"Thanks." Tony gasped for air, then shot a suspicious look in a still-burning-red Steve's direction. "You were in on all this, weren't you?"

"My job was distraction," Steve admitted, scratching the back of his neck, "Ironically, you ended up distracting me."

"Who's surprised? Oh, that's right, no one. Come on, who else totally saw this coming?" Bucky snorted.

"Literally everyone," Clint snickered.

Natasha smacked them both as she passed to come press a kiss to Tony's cheek.

"Happy birthday, дурак."

"Yeah man, happy birthday." Bucky slung an arm around Tony's shoulders.

"You totally thought we forgot, didn't you?" Clint grinned, elbowing Tony lightly.

"I totally knew," Tony defended himself, "You guys can't keep a secret for jack."

"What happened to 'you're the only one who loves me'?" Steve murmured in his ear, reminding him of his earlier complaints.

"Shut up, Steve," Tony grumbled, "That was shared in confidence and therefore can't be used against me."

"Whatever you say, honey," Steve said amicably, kissing him just under his ear.

It was strange to think how he'd gotten here, that this was even possible. There'd been a time in his life he wouldn't have thought so. He could still remember sometimes what it felt like on that first day, six or seven years ago now, when he'd shown. When he'd felt that first cold chill of knowing, when he'd realized he'd been born different. That he was 'one of those'. Everything in his life had come to a stop, to an end—Xavier's Academy, Howard's attention, any dreams he had of running StarkIndustries, of making his father proud.

He hadn't considered it a beginning. Sure as hell not then, and not for a long time after, either. But it had been. If he'd been an alpha, would he have ever gotten out from under Howard's controlling hand? Or would he have lived the life Howard wanted? Would he have been CEO? An inventor? Both? Would he have made the same choices Howard had?

Maybe he would've still bonded with Steve, just as a double-alpha couple. Maybe Steve would've been born an omega instead. Maybe they wouldn't have found each other at all; Tony couldn't imagine that. Even if he'd been born an alpha, even if he'd had every other advantage life had to offer, he couldn't imagine staring it all down without Steve. What would be the point of that? The meaning? He wouldn't be who he was without Steve, and more importantly, he wouldn't be who he wanted to be.

Steve was worth it.

Steve was worth everything.