Good Things Come in Cold Packages

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: Thanks to truthiness_aura for beta reading for me!

Steve leapt over the mottled white and gray scaled tail as it swept over the snow, barely clearing the spines. He cursed the cold weather gear that slowed him, but didn't dare shed it. Instead, he stamped down a bit of the snow to improve his footing and flung his shield, aiming for the great bony curve of the dragon's serrated wings.

His aim was true; the disc struck the wing with the loud crack of breaking bone. Great jaws gaped open and the dragon roared in pain, head snapping around, lunging for Cap. He dodged, rolling farther than he'd intended on the slick ice beneath the snow before coming to his feet again. His shield lay face up close by one of the dragon's forefeet. Steve kept his weight on the balls of his feet and half an eye on the dragon's jaws, waiting for a good moment to lunge in and retrieve the disc.

"Next time," Peter yelled from somewhere on the other side of the dragon, voice muffled by his own cold weather gear, "Dr. Strange can come retrieve his own damn magic stone! Dragons!"

Steve had to grin. "Just one!" he shouted back. He started to dash towards his shield, but the dragon had marked him now and its head whipped around on the long neck.

He was moving too fast and the footing was too poor to stop now; Steve scooped up his weapon and prepared to spin aside, hoping the disc would be enough to protect him. But even as the rush of freezing air told him he'd cut it too close, a red and gold streak slammed into the side of the dragon's head. Steve scrambled out of the way as Iron Man fired his repulsors point blank into the dragon's cheek. It wasn't enough to hurt the beast, but it knocked the great head aside. Iron Man shot up into the air, away from the jaws...

...and into range of the uninjured wing. "Iron Man!" Steve shouted, but though the golden Avenger jetted to one side, the long spike tipping the wing slammed into him with all the force of the dragon's rage and pain. Iron Man went tumbling through the air, so far and so fast that Steve actually lost sight of him.

And still the dragon roared, shaking its head wildly, trying to dislodge Wolverine, who'd somehow gotten up on its neck. He'd buried both sets of claws in the creature, to no apparent effect, but at least he was distracting it. Steve clenched his jaw and concentrated on disabling the other wing while Spider-Man bound the weakened limb with layer upon layer of webbing.

But even with both wings pinned down, the three of them could hardly keep up with the dragon. Wolverine worked his way up the neck, leaving streaks of blood behind, until he crouched on top of the beast's head. The way the dragon thrashed its head about, it was all Logan could do to hold on, never mind reach the stone embedded in its forehead.

"If this bastard would just hold still for a second--!" Logan growled.

"Well, why didn't you say so?" Peter shot back. He leapt up onto the dragon's neck, sticky feet holding him fast, and spun a lasso out of webbing. Steve focused on keeping the dragon's attention on him instead of on the two irritants on its neck. But Peter's cry of "Hi Ho, Silver!" as he successfully tossed the loop over the dragon's snout was a little hard to ignore. Steve actually paused to stare for a moment as Spider-Man used the webbing lasso to haul the dragon's head in against the base of its neck, his feet braced hard against the back of the neck and both hands gripping the thick strand of web.

It was easy to forget, sometimes, that the slender young man had superstrength.

"Any time now," Peter shouted to Logan, strain showing in his voice as muscles in the dragon's neck flexed.

Wolverine didn't answer; he was already at the stone, dangling from the dragon's bent head with one set of claws and carving the stone out of the armored scales with the other. Steve could see the webbing start to slide through Peter's hands. Freezing air jetted from the dragon's nostrils as it struggled against the restraint.

"Cap, catch!" Logan shouted suddenly, and the stone was flying through the air, and Peter was losing his grip, and Logan was falling from his perch, and all Steve could do was reach out for what they'd come for in the first place.

The stone smacked into his hands, easily the size of a football, and Steve watched in horror as the dragon's jaws closed around Wolverine. The movement jerked hard on Peter's lasso and sent him straight up into the air like a slingshot. Steve's eyes followed his flight, silently wishing for Iron Man to appear and bring Spider-Man safely to Earth. But instead of red and gold, a patch of grey bloomed in the sky and Peter started drifting downward with the help of a parachute made of webbing.

Steve quickly secured the stone in the pack he'd brought for it and snatched up his shield again, trying not to think about the limp form that fell from the dragon's teeth. He had to keep the beast's attention off Peter.

It took an almost painfully long time for Peter to reach the ground, but he made it, and between the two of them they reached the Quinjet with both the stone and Logan. Steve took the controls, lifting off and getting away from the dragon before he called back to ask how Logan was doing.

It was Logan himself who answered. "Damn glad the thing didn't swallow me. Stomach acid is a bitch."

Steve let out a breath of relief, but it didn't last long. Iron Man still hadn't returned.

Peter settled into the co-pilot's seat. "Tony shouldn't be taking this long, should he?"

"No," Steve said grimly. "The armor must be damaged."

"You better go find him," Logan said. "That tin suit ain't gonna do him much good in this weather."

Being wrapped so closely in metal could be lethal in this weather. But... "Dr. Strange needs the stone now. There's no way to know how long it could take to find Tony."

Logan snorted. "So call for a pick up and drop us off. We can take care of ourselves for a couple of hours. Besides, we're plus one trinket and minus one Quinjet; we might even rate a portal."

Steve called. Ten minutes later, he left Logan and Peter stepping into a disc of pinkish green light while he took the Quinjet in the direction Iron Man had been thrown. The minutes ticked by as Steve first flew over the area, looking for signs of impact, and then forced himself to slow down and follow a systematic search grid.

Nearly an hour passed before the Quinjet's sensors bleeped at him. Peering out the window, Steve couldn't see anything but snow, but he brought the vehicle down anyway and went out into the cold to check the reported coordinates.

He found Tony buried under a couple of inches of snow and completely encased in ice. The warmth radiating from the armor must have melted the snow...which froze solid when that warmth faded away.

Heart in his mouth, Steve struggled with the rigid, unresponsive weight of the armor. Finally he wrestled it into the Quinjet and closed the hatch. The small space seemed to fill with fog as the environmental systems, already taxed by holding off the blistering cold outside, struggled to handle the cold air, snow, and frost that they'd brought inside.

Steve couldn't wait for the fog to clear. He just crouched over Tony, called out the override code, and ordered the armor to put itself away. For a moment, nothing happened. Then cracks appeared in the ice. A few pieces of the armor fell to the deck of the Quinjet, but they didn't fly into the nearby suitcase as they usually did. "Not enough power," Steve murmured, a tightness filling his chest. He pulled the pieces of the armor away from Tony with his hands, stacking the ice cold metal in a far corner of the Quinjet cabin.

Beneath the armor Tony's skin was nearly paper white, it was so pale, and his lips and ears were an alarming shade of blue, as was the skin surrounding the rough, metal oval of the mechanical heart. Steve didn't bother to check for a pulse; he knew better than anyone how extreme cold could slow your heart rate until it was all but undetectable. He did touch the surface of the heart briefly, blanching at the almost painful coldness of it. God only knew if severe temperatures could damage it; Tony's armor was hardier, but the mechanical heart was supposed to be protected. Hurriedly, Steve dug a set of blankets out of the Quinjet's storage compartments and piled them on top of Tony before stripping out of both his cold weather gear and his uniform.

Naked, he ignored the slight chill--the Quinjet couldn't even maintain room temperature in this climate--and slid beneath the blankets with Tony. Steve gasped as their skin met. Tony was so damned cold! Wrapping his arms around Tony, Steve pressed their bodies close together, shuddering in shock at the even colder metal of the heart, and willed his heat to leech into his friend. "Come on," Steve murmured, pressing his cheek against one of Tony's ears and resisting the almost overwhelming urge to rub his skin. "Come on, Tony."

Slowly, painfully slowly, Tony's stiff, unresponsive body warmed and relaxed against Steve. As his posture softened his arms closed around Steve in a loose embrace and he nuzzled unconsciously into the curve of Steve's neck. Steve let his eyes close and gently hugged Tony in sheer relief. "You're going to be okay," he murmured.

Tony didn't respond, of course. He did instinctively press closer against Steve, burrowing into the warmth of bodies and blankets, or maybe just into the solid presence of another person. Steve murmured to him comfortingly, though Tony didn't seem distressed now. His touch was warm, his movements smooth, his skin soft where it slid across Steve's...

Abruptly Steve's perception of the situation shifted and he had to bite back a pained groan. Tony had almost died, he was bare minutes past the danger of hypothermia, and he hadn't even regained consciousness yet; Steve shouldn't be feeling this sudden rush of desire. Never mind that Tony was winding his lean, strong limbs closer around Steve with every moment. Fixing his gaze on the wall of the Quinjet, Steve fought to keep his mind on where they were and why they were here. Not on the tickle of Tony's body hair. Not on the fact that he was close enough to Tony to pick up the rich, masculine scent of him, flavored with sweat and metal

He could let go. Wrap Tony up in half the blankets and move away. But though Tony was probably out of danger--the artificial heart was slightly warmer than Tony's skin now, which Steve took as a good sign--and the inside of the Quinjet was cool rather than freezing, Steve wasn't willing to take any chances just because he was...uncomfortable. Not given Tony's far too extensive medical history.

So Steve stared at the interior of the cabin and tried to concentrate on baseball scores rather than on the beautiful, restless man in his arms. He managed to resist the rising heat in his own veins right up until Tony murmured his name in a low, husky, intent voice.

Startled, Steve looked away from the walls of the Quinjet and leaned back from Tony to find his eyes open and fixed on Steve. Tony," Steve began, his own voice rough, and broke off as Tony slide one thigh between Steve's. He swallowed a moan. "Are you okay?"

"I'm feeling pretty good right now," Tony murmured, running a finger down the length of Steve's spine, brushing past his waist.

Steve caught his breath and shifted away from the touch, but that only pressed him more firmly against Tony. "Confusion--" his voice rose a little as Tony's touch drifted "is a symptom of hypothermia." Steve sucked in a breath and made himself meet Tony's lazy, glittering eyes. "We should-- You shouldn't--"

Tony broke into the fractured sentences. "Are you confused?"

Steve couldn't look away from Tony's gaze. He swore the rich blue of them had darkened. "Yes," he whispered helplessly.

A slow grin curved Tony's lips. They were flushed a healthy pink now, looking warm and supple... "Well," Tony said warmly, "we're on the same page, then, so it's okay."

Something about that logic wasn't right, but now Tony's lips were meeting Steve's and he couldn't think about anything but heat. Heat was good, they needed heat, needed each other, and Steve moaned and pulled Tony firmly against his body. Tony made a pleased noise, deepening the kiss. Steve spread his hands over Tony's back, feeling the lean muscles shifting under his hands as they writhed against each other, nerves tingling with the slide of skin over skin and the wet tangle of their tongues.

When Tony finally pulled away from Steve's mouth, turning his face into the curve of Steve's neck to nibble and lick at the skin there, Steve was panting for breath, achingly aroused. "Tony," he gasped, hips grinding against Tony almost involuntarily.

Tony ignored him, instead pressing Steve onto his back and sliding on top of him, his weight pressing his damp, hot length deliciously against Steve's belly, tantalizingly close to Steve's own arousal. One of Steve's hands drifted up and buried itself in Tony's thick, dark hair. Steve pressed his head back, exposing his throat to his partner. He could feel the hardness of the deck beneath the meager cushioning of the blankets, but he didn't care; feeling Tony press down on him, the dusting of chest hair teasing Steve's nipples, more than made up for it.

Cool air leaked into their cocoon of blankets the more they moved around, but somehow the contrast between the air and the heat building between their bodies only made the moment more intense. Eyes closed, breathing harshly, Steve let his hands slide down Tony's flanks to grip his hips and move him a little. The ridge of Tony's hardness finally touched Steve's, both trapped between their bellies, and Steve moaned loudly and thrust hard against Tony, hands holding him still.

Tony's determined assault on Steve's throat paused, replaced by the hot puff of short, ragged breaths. "You shouldn't be so good at that," he panted eventually, squirming in Steve's grip. With a little guidance, the squirming only made it better.

"Why not?" God, Steve loved the sounds Tony was making: hitches in his breath, helpless groans, and startled, high pitched gasps of delight.

"You're Captain America," Tony said, pressing his forehead into Steve's shoulder.

Steve rolled them over, dislodging most of the blankets but keeping their hips locked together. He braced his arms to hold himself up, his weight now doing the work of keeping them pressed close. Rolling his hips, he grinned down at Tony. "What, Captain America can't be good in bed?"

Laughing breathlessly, Tony ran his hands over Steve's arms and shoulders, his chest and back, fingers tracing the curves and creases of his musculature, each brief stroke making Steve's skin shiver with sensation long after it was past. "I think half the country believes you don't know what sex is, Steve."

"The fact that I don't like to discuss my private life in public doesn't mean I don't have one." Steve paused to grind against Tony a little harder, tearing a moan and a rough snap of hips from him. "And the fact that I don't take part in locker room gossip doesn't mean that I can't make you scream for me."

Tony visibly caught his breath, eyes going wide and dark. "And how are you going to do that?" he asked huskily.

Steve leaned down until their foreheads were almost touching, meeting Tony's gaze steadily. "If we weren't in a Quinjet in the middle of an ice field, I'd slick up my fingers and slide them inside you. I'd stretch you out--" Steve's breath caught for a moment, imagining it, "--stroke you inside until your body aches with need for me. I'd press your thighs open and I'd lift your hips and I'd slide inside you," Steve thrust against Tony, startling a gasp out of him, "nice and slow. I'd make you arch your back, trying to bring me deeper into your body, but I'd make you wait."

Steve paused, shifting his weight onto one hand so that he could slowly, slowly run a finger over the curve of Tony's pectorals, finishing with a tiny flick across one of his nipples. Tony made a soft, startled noise at the sharp flick. "And when your whole body was shaking with the tension of waiting," Steve's voice was trembling now, "I'd move, making love to you with long, deep strokes so good they'd make your eyes roll back in your head."

Tony stared at him, and a brief surge of pride ran through Steve at the realization that he'd rendered Tony Stark, consummate seducer, speechless. Though not for long. Tony swallowed heavily and his voice was hoarse when he spoke. "Who cares where we are?"

A wry smile curled Steve's lips. "I didn't pack lubricant for this mission."

Tony didn't smile back. "There's Vaseline in the first aid kit."

Steve stilled for moment. A wave of lust slammed through him and he groaned, shuddering as he struggled to get a hold of himself. The moment he could move again, he scrambled away from Tony, snatched the first aid kit from its place under one of the Quinjet's passenger benches, and quickly flipped the latches open. The jar was there, alongside bandages and painkillers. Steve plucked the jar from its place, snapped the kit closed, and shoved it back into under the bench before turning back to Tony.

In the moment he'd been gone Tony had gathered the disarrayed blankets into a pallet on the deck. He was crouched by it, twitching a last fold into place, when Steve went to his knees beside him and set down the jar of Vaseline in favor of sliding his arms around Tony. Tony fell from the crouch to his knees, striking the deck hard. That had to hurt, even with the padding of the blankets, but he gave no sign that he'd noticed. Instead, he pressed close to Steve and met him for a long kiss.

Never parting for a moment, the two of them sank down onto the blankets and lay simply kissing for a long time. When their lips finally parted, Steve rested his forehead against Tony's and closed his eyes for a moment. "I need you," he said quietly. "I need to feel your heat around me."

Hands callused in strange places from years of metalwork cupped Steve's face and tilted it up a little. Steve opened his eyes and met Tony's gaze, catching his breath at the poorly veiled devotion he saw there. "Anything you need from me is yours," Tony whispered. And a few other things, besides, his eyes added.

Steve nodded slightly and leaned in to kiss Tony again, silently promising the same.

Maybe Tony read the wordless vow in Steve's touch, or maybe he didn't. Either way, when the kiss ended he found the jar of Vaseline and pressed it into Steve's hand. "I believe you have plans for this."

"Oh yes," Steve murmured. He sat back a bit, unscrewed the lid and dropped it, then scooped out two fingers full of the stuff. It was chillingly cold and a medicinal scent rose from it, but it was thick and slippery and that was all Steve wanted. He spread it over his fingers to warm it up a little more quickly.

"For God's sake, Steve, don't tease," Tony groaned.

"I want you hot." Steve brushed a slick finger over Tony's skin to show him the chill of it.

Tony sprawled back on the blankets, knees bent and feet flat on the deck. Everything about his posture was an invitation. "I'm not sure I couldn't use some cooling down right now."

Steve ran one hand up the inside of Tony's thigh and pressed his slick fingers, still cool, against the opening of Tony's body. They were drawn inside almost without resistance, and Tony hissed and arched his back, pushing himself down a little further on Steve's fingers. "You're ahead of schedule," Steve teased breathlessly.

"I don't care," Tony moaned, hands fisting in the blankets of the pallet beneath him. "I want you inside me. God, Steve." Steve could barely keep the trembling of urgency out of his own hands as he twisted his fingers inside Tony's body, the Vaseline quickly heating up and easing the way deep inside him. Velvety smooth within, Tony opened for him as if for a long familiar and welcome lover. Steve wanted to sheathe himself in that warmth so badly he could taste it, but he forced himself to wait until Tony's hips were smoothly rocking against him and he'd gained the barest grip on his own need.

The cold shock of the Vaseline when Steve slicked himself helped him firm up his control. No matter how welcoming Tony's body, he couldn't just slam his way inside. Still, Steve was trembling when he lifted Tony's hips in his hands and slowly, tenderly filled Tony with his length.

"Yes," Tony gasped, voice strained. "Steve. More."

Steve didn't have the breath for words. He clenched his teeth, forcing himself to go slow, bracing his hands on the deck instead of Tony's hips as he sank deeper. Finally, miraculously, his body came to rest tight against Tony's hot, flushed skin. After a moment, Tony moved and Steve groaned helplessly when Tony's body shifted around him as strong legs wrapped around Steve's waist.

Looking up to catch Tony's eyes, Steve found them bright and eager. Tony slid his hands down his body and slowly took himself in a firm grip, his tongue flickering out to dampen his lips at the touch. "I'm ready when you are," he said, his other hand curling around the flexed muscle of Steve's bicep.

Steve would have laughed if he'd had the breath for it; he'd told Tony he would be the one shaking with the effort of waiting, but it was Steve who was trembling, for all his stamina. Carefully, half afraid he'd finish too soon, he withdrew from Tony and slowly pushed back inside him.

Tony moaned loudly. "Again."

So Steve moved again, and again, and again, until he fell into a rhythm, his body surging against Tony's, sweat sheening his skin and sliding down his body in droplets, each little trail another shimmer of sensation. Heat surrounded Steve, enveloped him, and the core of it all was the slide of his body into Tony's.

Steve couldn't tear his eyes away from Tony. Flushed with arousal, skin shining with sweat, he was impossibly gorgeous. Even the dull, metallic sheen of the artificial heart didn't mar the vision. Of course Tony would wear his heart where anyone could see, if they were only willing to look.

Tony had his eyes closed, oblivious to Steve's regard, his hand sliding up and down the length of his arousal, one lip caught between his teeth. "Steve," he all but sobbed, and opened his eyes. His gaze lit up when he caught Steve looking at him and he grinned and arched his back and tightened the grip of his legs, driving himself onto Steve. "God, I love this," Tony moaned, twisting a little, stirring Steve within him.

The words slipped out: "I love you."

Steve stilled. He hadn't meant to say that, not yet.

But Tony just smiled at him, almost softly. "That's no reason to stop."

Steve snorted a laugh and leaned down to kiss Tony as he began to move again. It was a little awkward, but it was worth it to have Tony's arms sliding around him, Tony's mouth warm and welcoming beneath his, the brush of Tony's heart against Steve's skin.

Tony's climax washed over him first. His hips thrust onto Steve as he came, as if to wring every possible pleasure from the moment. Steve didn't last much longer, with Tony relaxed and sweet and satiated beneath him. Completion rolled through him, rich and intense, and Steve found himself panting afterwards. He lowered himself onto the pallet of blankets, half on top of Tony since the blankets didn't make for a wide bed. Steve didn't mind; he nuzzled Tony's skin, tongue flicking out almost unconsciously to taste the sweat there.

"If you're already ready for a second round," Tony said languidly, "I'm seriously going to start wondering about the motivations of the man who designed that serum."

Steve laughed. "Even I need more recovery time than that. I just...wanted to taste you."

Tony smiled at him. "Anything you need from me is yours."

"When we get back..." Steve began.

"Yes?" Tony prompted, a sliver of worry creeping into his expression.

Steve grinned suddenly. "I need you to explain to Logan why the Quinjet smells like sex."

Tony burst out laughing.