Starving the “I Do”, a Stony ficlet by Shakespeare42 (adapted from an rp)
Warnings: Angst, Infidelity(ish)
Summary: “Steve shouldn’t be nervous on his wedding day. It was what he’d always dreamed of, right? To find a gal he could marry, set her up in a cute little house with a white picket fence and give her everything she wanted. But what did he really want? He’d started to wonder a little too late if his old-fashioned sensibilities were what he truly desired or just something else he’d been holding onto, a piece of the past. Sharon was a beautiful girl, she was, it was just that… He didn’t let himself go there, or think about that bright glint of mischievous eyes that didn’t belong to her. Steve stood alone in the room of the church he was given, fingers fiddling restlessly with the collar on his army greens as he tried to quiet his mind, to keep it from wandering to someone he couldn’t have.”
Song to listen to/title based off of “Addict” by Cai.ro.
Read it on Ao3: http://archiveofourown.org/works/1519451/chapters/3212333
Steve shouldn’t be nervous on his wedding day. It was what he’d always dreamed of, right? To find a gal he could marry, set her up in a cute little house with a white picket fence and give her everything she wanted. But what did he really want? He’d started to wonder a little too late if his old-fashioned sensibilities were what he truly desired or just something else he’d been holding onto, a piece of the past. Sharon was a beautiful girl, she was, it was just that… He didn’t let himself go there, or think about that bright glint of mischievous eyes that didn’t belong to her. Steve stood alone in the room of the church he was given, fingers fiddling restlessly with the collar on his army greens as he tried to quiet his mind, to keep it from wandering to someone he couldn’t have.
Tony Stark reached behind him absentmindedly as the busty blonde whose name began with an “L” pushed up against him, their lips dancing in a wonderfully distracting manner. Tony didn’t know her name, and he didn’t care to. That was that.
The door opened behind him and he pulled back, chuckling and giving the woman a devilish smirk. His calloused hand twined in her hair, and he heard a small noise from behind him. A little cough that he shouldn’t have been able to recognize; a bucket of liquid nitrogen couldn’t have ‘killed his buzz’ faster. There was a reason behind why Tony was already a little tipsy, why he was trying to fill his mind with thoughts of smooth curves and ample breasts as opposed to thoughts of a certain soldier’s hard, angular planes…
Tony stiffened, his hand directing the wide eyed woman out of the room without a second thought.
Steve didn’t know what he’d been expecting when he heard the click of the door, but it certainly wasn’t what he saw when he turned around, nervous hands stilling at his sides. His breath caught in his throat at the sight that crossed his vision, at Tony letting a woman he didn’t recognize move him into the room. Though he tried to shrink back, his first immediate reaction to get anywhere but here, he realized there wasn’t much of anywhere to go, and well, all he could do was clear his throat and hope he could be heard. Even just a little.
Perhaps it was the contrast of the green against his skin, but Steve’s cheeks were blazing pink by the time Tony actually turned around and looked at him, blue eyes bright and entirely too round.
”I— Sorry, for interrupting,” he all but stuttered, turning away almost as soon as he had eye contact, lungs aching with the breath he’d been holding without realizing it. “You, uh. Might want to try down the hall if— if you wanted to. Continue that, I mean.” Embarrassment didn’t even begin to cover it, but he hoped that it covered enough to the secret harbor of feelings that was only further stomped on by the sight of Tony with someone else.
Internally, Tony was grimacing at the words, each syllable a piece of shrapnel in his chest. Tony set down the empty martini glass on a table next to a small wooden cross. He looked up, plastering his normal, calm smirk on his face. Amber eyes rolled nonchalantly, and he waved a hand.
“She was dreadful anyways. You saved me some trouble, big guy.”
Even now, on Steve’s damned wedding day - his wedding day!- Tony couldn’t help but use his usual terms of joking endearment. He really did have to get a lid on that. He figured that Steve’s marriage would effectively staunch such familiarities.
Good science, Tony thought to himself as he remained impassive, Steve was distracting. His golden hair was flipped perfectly, every badge and metal on his chest precisely in order. There wasn’t a crease out of line on that man, who looked like he had just stepped out of a WW2 black and white vignette. “Looking sharp, soldier.” He mock saluted, biting back everything he was feeling inside. He was Tony Stark. Heart of metal. And yet…
”She seemed… nice.” Leave it to Steve Rogers to compliment a woman he saw for all of two seconds, who had subsequently had her hands on and tongue down Tony’s throat before being shoved out into the hallway. Chivalrous, as always. Well, about as chivalrous as one could be while thinking about someone else while his soon-to-be wife was undoubtedly readying herself down the hall. Of a church. God, what was he thinking? If his cheeks hadn’t already colored he was sure that Tony’s compliment would have done it, ducking his head and averting his eyes for a moment before allowing himself to glance back.
The artist in Steve saw every perfect imperfection; the tousle of hair, the slight disarray of his tie now that someone had gotten their hands on it, pulled at it, down to the sharp shine of shoes and back up to that mischievous glint he could never quite get out of his head. “Got nothing on you, as always,” he complimented back, surprised at how little he allowed his voice to waver. It was just as well, though, that he’d swallow hard then, his gaze still lingering a little too long on the man that he ached for.
”Thank you. For coming,” Steve clarified, his voice a notch quieter then, his gratitude there but mingled with something bittersweet. Something like secrets kept and longing quieted for far too long. “I’m— I’m glad you’re here.”
Oh, the things he wanted to do to that man…Tony knew that he was deluding himself. That his imagination was in sweet denial, and he was playing thoughts in his head that would never be. Self-control built up over decades forced the facade onto Tony’s features, the jaunty, aloof smile onto his face.
”You ever known me to abandon one of my own? On the eve of battle?” Tony chuckled, hoping Steve didn’t note the initial hitch in his throat. Sharon was a wonderful person. Tony really had nothing against her personally; she was strong yet gentle, was understanding and beautiful, the quintessential woman. Smart, funny, could hold her own in a high-ranking Shield position… It was no small wonder that he was here today, at the wedding. Tony knew that he should be happy for Steve. Congratulating him. But, he still found himself walking forward across the faded wooden floor that creaked beneath his feet, making up some flimsy excuse about how there was a smudge on Steve’s collar. Every inch of that man was gleaming and pristine; that didn’t stop Tony from reaching up, ‘accidentally’ running his hand along that broad chest.
Steve’s smile at Tony’s words might have been a lasting affair if not for a few things. First, if it didn’t have his heart sinking in his chest; of course Tony would be there for him. Because despite their struggles, the things they’d been through, he always was, right there where Steve needed him. Close, but not close enough to touch. Not close enough to have as his own. But his smile was made even more impossible by the fact that Tony was coming towards him then, not even hearing the reason for it until seconds later, like a sonic boom heard underwater, a distant echo in his mind as he felt the brush of fingers against his chest. It had Steve’s breath caught in his throat, audibly so, blue eyes steady and lowered as they watched those nimble and familiar fingers smooth along his uniform, against pins he didn’t even remember getting, for valor and courage, neither of which he possessed as he yearned for more than just a gentle touch at his collar. How long would he let himself do this? For the rest of his life, would he pine and regret every second that he hadn’t told the other man, hadn’t said a damn thing— no. There were reasons he hadn’t. Reasons like the one that had stumbled into this very room in the first place but minutes ago. But oh, how he wanted— “No,” he finally answered quietly, too close for anything louder, “You never have. I know you wouldn’t. I know you’re always… right here.”
‘And I will be, until you push me away by force.’ He wanted to say. A sardonic piece of his mind helpfully answered ‘He’s getting married, you sad bastard. It doesn’t get more forceful than that.’ With that lovely little sentiment now dissolving his internal organs, Tony forced himself to step back a few inches. Steve smelled of fresh strawberries and smooth after shave, of sunlight and crisp fabric. Ever since he had heard that little cough, there had been a knot in his stomach, threatening to rip him in half. Through all the years, all of his playful innuendos and Steve’s adorable reactions; either amused exasperation or hollow irritation, Tony had always thought something was possible. That there was a loophole. And yet, here he was, in the musty room of an old-fashioned church, pretending that his metal heart wasn’t flickering in his chest. Tony ran a hand through his mussed hair, pulling hard as if to wake himself up. “So,” He started, a glint of something in his eyes- what it was, he refused to admit to himself -, “you ready for the big night, Tiger?”
How much did it say that it took all Steve had left to keep himself from following as Tony backed away? To be the push to his pull, as they’d always been from day one, so different but in synch in a way that he could never quite put his finger on. Like they’d clicked in every way but one, and that one missing piece of the puzzle was destined to haunt him. As Tony backed away his hands begged to do something other than pull the other man in, instead pulling at his lapels to straighten them for the thousandth time, eyes dipping before they caught the other man’s once again, nearly falling into the crisp brown orbs, like whiskey and fire. Maybe it was that vulnerability, of being caught in that stare, that had Steve’s breath snaring in his throat again, that made it so incredibly obvious that he wasn’t. He wasn’t even close to it. His own blues were round, sad as his lashes blinked around them, lips parted like he couldn’t bring himself the words to say he should be saying. Steve didn’t say them. “I—” he stuttered instead, his reluctance saying it all without having to. Light lashes blinked closed and stayed closed for a moment, a sigh of disbelief at his own betrayal, at his own confusion falling from his mouth before he shook his head. “If I told you that I— I didn’t know,” that was putting it lightly, really, “Would you think less of me for it?” Of course that’s what Steve was still concerned about, underneath it all; what did Tony think?
”No, no,” Tony replied a little too quickly, heart beating faster against his will. “I mean, Sharon’s a wonderful, beautiful woman. Did you get a look at the floozie I was about to-” Tony stopped himself mid-rant, knowing that he wasn’t fooling either of them. He shrugged nonchalantly, but there was something that seemed to break inside him. Later today, he would watch from the second row, clapping with Barton and Bruce and the rest of his comrades, teeth clenched to the point of pain as he watched Steve and Sharon finalize their marriage with a kiss. They’d go to the reception, Tony would hold himself together despite the few times his eyes would meet with Steve’s. He go home that night and drink whatever fermented liquid he would find until he forgot Steve-Fucking-Rogers and the life he could have had. The tension in the room was palpable, like a trigger about to be pulled, the shooter’s finger tensed and trembling. Tony was sure that he couldn’t do this much longer…
Of course, Tony’s rant only sank the guilt in deeper. Sharon really was beautiful, she was strong willed with a mind of her own, knew what she wanted— how could he not know what he wanted? It was unfair to her, he knew, the guilt of it like an anchor around his ankle that dragged him down, down, down every time the words he wanted to say threatened to bubble at his lips. The reminder of Tony with that woman, the one who had gotten to touch him, gotten to be that close and he had pushed her away like she was nothing— sometimes Steve thought that if just for one night, for one moment, if he got to have Tony like that before getting forgotten forever he might. If it would erase the pain of the longing, even if just for a moment.
“Does it make me selfish? For— wanting more than this.” For wanting something else entirely. His voice sounded wrecked already, his eyes so brutally honest that he was sure Tony could see right through him, like cellophane. He had to turn away, then, tension cracking like a whip as he smoothed his hand back through his hair, cast his eyes on the bright stained glass that painted patterns on the floor.
Tony had to clench his fist when those blue eyes- eyes the same color as the summer sky and the blue light of his own arc-reactor- turned away from him. The hum of the crowd outside their door was an all too real reminder that this was happening, that reality was going to catch up to them and time would run on without this brief moment; Tony’s mind blocked the sound, this small holy room frozen in time, just for them.
“Steve, you’re a hero. I think the universe can cut you a break on that condition.” It wasn’t an invitation; Tony was masochistic and fucked-up enough to deny something as obvious as that. That was, unless it was interpreted as an invitation. ‘I hope she makes you happier than I could’, supplied some voice in his head. “You’re a hero- you deserve someone good.” ‘Someone better than me’… A few more steps and a quick movement of his hands and his lips would solve this whole thing- that was, until the priest walked in to haul Steve away.
As Tony spoke Steve’s eyes were fixed on a point in the middle of nowhere, outside of a window he felt like he couldn’t see out of. His gaze was unfocused, just listening to the words, letting the goosebumps skitter across his skin beneath his military dress, feeling too tight and too constricting on him now when it usually brought him comfort.
”How much of a hero can I be, if I’m too much a coward to—” Steve’s words rushed out in a disbelieving huff before he closed his mouth, swallowing the rest of the words down. When his eyes closed and re-opened they brought the world back into focus again, like he was able to feel everything. Like he could tell how close Tony was, and how far away he seemed, all at once. He turned back around, almost fully, like he was afraid to bare his heart if the other man could see the spot on his chest where it was beating too hard.
”I shouldn’t be doing this, I shouldn’t— I shouldn’t even be here right now. If I deserved what I really wanted, I wouldn’t be right where I am right now, thinking about it and wishing I had it when—” Steve would have had it already, if he wasn’t so afraid of what he could lose, if he knew that he could have him, if Tony even cared at all— but he didn’t. The smile that found his lips was too sad to be a real one, shaking his head slightly as he looked towards the door, the grin fading as fast as it had been there. He had to look anywhere but at Tony, because if he did, if the other man even for a second knew where to look and found it there in his eyes, he’d know.
Tony’s voice was quiet but firm, desperate, cutting through the thick air of the room. Tony knew he’d turn around; either that, or walk out and leave, but if Steve felt half as intensely as he did, he would turn. Tony swiveled on the spot, determinedly breaching the gap between them and, in a movement faster than the super-soldier could apprehend, Tony had his arms wrapped around Steve’s torso. It was an unmasculine hug if ever there was one, and it sure as hell wasn’t the same as any other action he could have done. Tony held fast, closing his eyes and letting out a shuddering breath as he pressed his face to that warm chest. Tony more than expected Steve to respond in a clipped tone, that of a military captain, wishing him well before he pushed the smaller man away and left for his new life.
”I could have a ten-foot tall Doombot that’s been de-weaponized and is in my storage create an emergency at the edge of town in two point five minutes. All Avengers personnel would be required,” Tony whispered, still pressed against Steve as if he were attempting to crush the life from him. “Not a person would be injured. Damages would be minimal to nonexistent.” This could be answered either with curt, calm refusal, or…. Tony almost refused to acknowledge the alternative - agreement, a single syllable of affirmation. He knew that hope would lead to disappointment, in the end. Didn’t it always?
The sharp cut of Tony’s voice snared him, had Steve turned towards it without even a hesitation, eyes wide and heart nervously pounding like a rabbit’s in his chest. It skipped beats, he forgot how to breathe in the seconds it took the other man to stride towards him, his eyes instantly closed the second he felt the other’s body against his own. The illusion of having what he wanted could have broke him then, but he seized it, let one hand cup the back of the other man’s head where it lay against his chest, the other wrap around his back. It took him time, to understand Tony’s proposition, to hear it and let the gears click in his mind to understand what was being said without really being said. How Tony was always on the edge of just what he needed, Steve didn’t truly know. “Deploy it,” he finally whispered, affirmative, everything a Captain’s command should be if it didn’t sound so broken.
Without missing a beat, Tony reached to his front pants pocket, hand brushing against the front of Steve’s immaculate dress pants. A trembling finger pressed the power button on his Stark phone and he muttered a hasty, “Jarvis, protocol Spangles.” Tony’s ears didn’t register the confirmational beep from his pocket, his genius mind slowed to a sluggish pace, honeyed thoughts sweet and thick running through his mind. His voice was rough and low; it was a wonder he could even manage to speak. A voice in his head (after this, he resigned himself that he’d have Bruce make sure that he wasn’t schizophrenic) wanted him to ask one more time, to make sure. There was a wedding about to be halted, thousands of dollars and months of preparation gone down the drain, hearts hardened and countless others let down. It would be a terrible inconvenience impacting hundreds; guests, caterers, staff… That little voice was crushed to smithereens when Tony tilted his head up, gazing into those cerulean eyes. Truth, goodness, strength, beauty… Those eyes were all he needed. If he asked, he was allowing one more opportunity for this dream to end, one more second for doubt or some external force to come in and break this spell. Tony’s hand moved from his pocket to grasp the back of his tall soldier’s neck, pulling him down slowly. He prayed to whoever was listening that he wouldn’t leave Oz at this moment…. “Sir, yes sir.”
For the first time since Tony had stumbled through the door, Steve’s eyes didn’t waver once. They fixed on the man standing in front of him, in the movement of his hands, all grace and a style that was uniquely his own, the movement of his mouth as he slowed, like seeing the words and hearing them at the same time would make them real. This was… he shouldn’t. Steve shouldn’t drag Tony into his uncertainty, but oh how he wanted to drag them both under and drown in something else entirely. The very thing that swam in his gaze as he found the other man’s, his breath bated on his lips. Calloused fingertips on the back of his neck felt surreal, like he was lost in a daydream and really Tony was standing five feet in front of him, looking at him like he was crazy, and not like he was the only one in the whole world that Steve wanted like he was right now. It was in that fraction of a second that it clicked; the only reason Steve knew what that looked like was because he was feeling the exact same thing. Their foreheads touched first, leaning together and sharing the same breath as his eyes screwed shut, shuddering softly, a hand cupping the side of Tony’s cheek to brush fingertips against stubble and smooth skin alike, opening to a flutter of dark lashes so close to his own. Only a second to gather himself the courage he needed to tip their mouths together, hesitant, like a gasp in the form of a kiss, before he was pressing firmly, as certain as he’d ever been. Steve’s hand shook against Tony’s jaw, cupping it there still, like he was afraid he’d pull away, or everything was a dream, or he’d lose him, slipping through his fingers like he always had— It wasn’t until his lips parted to breathe, a shudder of breath, that Steve kissed him in earnest, full and so, so sure.
At the bottom of his closed eyelid, some part of Tony registered the slight flickering of light. What would have been a smirk translated to a nip on Steve’s bottom lip; his heart had literally skipped a beat, and he had the momentary oscillation of the arc to prove it. Every brush of skin, every breath that went from Steve’s body into his, every minute movement was an electric jolt bringing his mind and his skin to life, a weight suddenly off of his shoulders. They would receive the call to deal with the Doombot in approximately two more minutes; and that was more than enough time. After all of the months, the years spent wanting and longing with all of his being… In Tony’s dreams, their lips always met with fire and bruising force, all teeth and aggression and unsaid feelings. But this, this was something equal yet opposite. It was passionate yet slow, both of them unwilling to let this slip from their grips. Tony drew in a quick gasp when their lips parted, eyes dark and glossy. “You,” Tony met Steve’s lips firmly, their bodies pressed deliciously close, “Taste,” Tony punctuated this word with a flick of his tongue, “Like… Heaven.”
Of course Tony would be talking when they pulled apart. They were words Steve drank in, though, every press of their lips between them feeling like it wasn’t enough— but it would have to be, for now.
”Tony,” he hushed, a scolding that held no heat, simply taking a breath as he let their foreheads rest together again, stealing a kiss, then another, short but still lingering, as if he couldn’t believe it was happening. But even with everything he’d ever wanted right in front of him, it was impossible to forget the weight on his shoulders. The hearts he would break. “Don’t you dare leave,” he murmured, stern like his Captain’s command, though still soft and only between them as he cupped Tony’s jaw, smoothing beneath it with both thumbs, “If I’m— I’m doing this, don’t leave. I won’t be able to take it. I won’t.”
”Never.” There was a raw honesty in his rough tone, a gravelly promise that, for once in his life, he knew he would never break. Tony was known for famously fucking up every single relationship he’d ever been in; from the one night stands left forlorn and heartbroken to Pepper, the woman he’d thought he’d be able to love. But with Steve… Steve was something else entirely. Tony would rather die than hurt Steve, and that was no suddenly contrived, spur of the moment realization. He knew that he was fully capable of doing something foolish, something that would push Steve away, but now, Tony was more determined than he had been in a very long time. Steve had blessed him with this opportunity, with that hasty decision that would change Tony’s life, and he was not going to waste it.
”Thank you,” Tony punctuated the quietly breathed statement by threading his hand into the soldier’s perfect hair and tugging him down once more. When their lips met again, each of them exploring the other further, it was as if this was Tony’s first time. As if he could finally see after a lifetime of blindness. His free hand moved to that chiseled chest, running over it possessively.
Steve knew the sound of a promise made in haste, that wasn’t meant to be kept, but what he heard on Tony’s lips was anything but. It was the final click that assured him he’d, somehow, be okay. In the end of everything, as he made the hardest decision he would ever make, as he made enemies with people he loved over broken hearts, he would somehow stand again and make it out with one of the only things he’d ever truly wanted. Tony’s whisper of thanks had the capacity to break him, so he stitched them back together with the new kiss he was drawn into, firm and pressed with no room for doubt for either of them. Tony kissed just how he thought he would; with the kind of raw passion that Steve had always yearned to have in his direction, with care that was rough around the edges. Perfect. But even supersoldiers needed to breathe, the only thing pulling him back other than the ticking clock he knew they were on now.
"Don’t thank me yet," he breathed, hands running up into Tony’s hair, hearing the first crackles of the comm between them, "Thank me when it’s done. It’s only just beginning." Only then would Steve accept the thanks, and even then maybe he wouldn’t; he wasn’t doing this for Tony. To say that would be placing responsibility on the other man when this whole thing was his own fault. For not saying anything, for waiting this long— the predicted call came in, unable to ignore the SHIELD intel on something they both knew was coming. Something that was theirs. There wasn’t much left to do, then, but pull back with his usual resolve, to straighten the way he knew he had to. The tiny comm in his pocket was easy enough to fit into his ear, so familiar, eyes still on the man right in front of him as he spoke. "Avengers," he commanded, round eyes locked on Tony, betraying the stern familiarity of his voice, "This is Captain. You heard the call. Suit up and head out."
((Left in suspense as to what becomes of these boys? Stay tuned for part two, coming soon!))