No Right Words

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: This started out as a comfort!porn ficlet for [info]fire_tears. Then it...grew. Oops?

Many thanks to tavella for beta-reading for me! And then for helping me out with the fixes, too. :-)

Steve Rogers didn't hate very many people.

Right now, he hated Margot MacPherson.

Tony had met her less than four months ago, but she'd given every evidence of having been swept completely off her feet. Now she stood in the middle of the penthouse's living room, tearing into Tony in front of most of the Avengers. You'd never know she'd been cooing at him like a high schooler with her first boyfriend two days before.

"You're an empty suit," she told Tony disdainfully. "You're hollow inside, and you tried filling it up with money, and you tried filling it up with liquor, and you tried filling it up with sex, but none of those things make a good substitute for depth of character. You try to cover up your lack by surrounding yourself with real heroes, but we can tell, Tony. If people didn't need your money or your influence, none of us would go anywhere near you."

But the worst part wasn't the...the bullshit she was spouting. No, the worst part was the look in Tony's eyes: not anger or surprise or pain, but resignation. Even something frighteningly close to acceptance.

Suddenly it didn't matter that Tony was straight, or that telling him how Steve felt might strain their friendship. He couldn't let Tony believe that no one loved him; he couldn't stand to see that tired, lonely acceptance in his eyes.

"Get out," Steve grated out, his words breaking into the middle of...of that woman's diatribe.

She broke off mid-word and stared at him as if Steve was the one who'd overstepped. "Excuse me?"

"Get out," Steve repeated, setting his jaw and glaring at her. "Get out of our home. You have no right to come into our home and spout bullshit like that at Tony. Leave. Now."

Margot stared at him. She wasn't the only one. Steve didn't care. He only cared that she huffed and wrapped herself in her ridiculous little fur trimmed jacket and left.

"Tony," Steve said after a moment. Tony looked at him, a little startled, like he had no idea what fantastic thing might come out of Steve's mouth next. Steve's heart ached. He stepped forward and wrapped his hand around Tony's arm. "Come with me," he said, not wanting to have this conversation in front of the others.

"Steve," Tony began, once they'd closed his bedroom door behind them.

Steve interrupted, holding Tony's gaze intently. "Please tell me you don't believe a word she said."

"Of course not," Tony began, but he couldn't hold Steve's gaze, instead looking down and away.

Steve clasped Tony's upper arms. "You have friends who love you very much," he insisted.

Tony looked up for an instant, his expression infinitely sad. "Sometimes I wonder," he said softly.

Steve swore he could feel his heart breaking. "You're worth loving, Tony. More than worth it." Steve gathered his courage. "I love you."

Tony's expression warmed a little. "I know you do, Steve. Believe me, I value that more than you can know."

Tony, Steve realized, thought he meant his words generically. As if he loved everyone, because he loved people, because every life had value. "You don't understand," Steve said, gripping Tony's biceps a little harder, trying to communicate his emotions. "I love you. Not like a friend or a brother or a partner. I'm in love with you." Tony's eyes had gone wide. Steve forced himself to go on. "I know you're straight, but I...I'd be your lover, if you wanted it. I know you don't and I swear I won't bring this up again, but I need you to believe me, to know that someone loves you, even if it isn't the person you want."

The surprise had drained out of Tony's eyes, but they'd filled with disbelief instead. For a moment Steve cast about helplessly for more words, for the right words. But there were no right words, not if what he'd already said wasn't enough, and in desperation Steve used his grip on Tony's arms to pull him closer and just kissed him.

It was tempting to kiss him hard and deep, to try and push belief into Tony. But faith like that didn't come from the outside, it came from the inside. It couldn't be forced in, it had to be coaxed out. So Steve kept the touch of his mouth light and gentle, not expecting Tony to kiss back, just trying to show him how he felt.

Eventually, reluctantly, Steve pulled away far enough to take in Tony's expression. He'd gone back to looking stunned. Steve wasn't sure if this was a step forwards or backwards. "You can't love me," Tony said eventually, voice all but cracking.

"Why not?" Steve asked, frustrated.

"Because everyone who loves me betrays me," Tony said helplessly, "and I think it'd kill me if you did."

"Oh, Tony," Steve murmured. He released his grip on Tony and wrapped his arms around Tony instead. "We've argued, and we've fought, and we've been genuinely angry with each other, but you've always been able to trust me."

For a moment, Tony looked hopeful and Steve swore he could feel him leaning into the loose embrace. Maybe Steve's feelings weren't as unrequited as he'd always thought. Maybe Tony wasn't completely straight. There had always been rumors. Maybe--

Then Tony stilled and looked away from Steve. "You haven't always been able to trust me."

No. Oh, no. There was no way Steve was going to let Tony derail this when Steve was so close to something he'd never even let himself hope he could have. "I've never stopped trusting you," he said fiercely. Which was why it hurt so damn much those times when Tony didn't live up to that faith, but Steve had always known that if someone didn't believe in Tony, they'd lose him completely. Steve couldn't lose Tony. "Tony," Steve said, his tone of voice dragging Tony's eyes back to Steve's. "I love you."

Tony didn't reply, but Steve could see that hope creeping back into his gaze. It was a tired, battered hope, and for a moment Steve was struck with wonder that Tony could bear to hope at all after all the relationships that had blown up on him.

Carefully, giving Tony plenty of time to pull away, to stop him, Steve bent his head and kissed Tony again. This time, after a moment, Tony started to kiss back, so tentatively that Steve wondered if maybe he hadn't done this before, after all. Steve forced himself to pull back again. "You don't have to do this if you don't want to," he said. "I'm not going to stop loving you because you don't want me."

Tony looked confused. "I want you, Steve. Believe me, I want you badly."

"Um. Just making sure." Steve caught Tony's mouth in another kiss, but it was only when his tongue brushed against Tony's lips and Tony let him in, almost shyly, that Steve understood. Sometimes even the consummate seducer wanted to be seduced, to be shown that they were worth the effort.

Steve set about proving to Tony that he was worth every effort.

It was startling how satisfying it was to tease Tony out of his clothing, to hear him gasp and feel him tremble under Steve's hands, to soothe those tremors with gentle, certain touches. Steve had to guide Tony's hands to his belt. "Yes," Steve murmured, encouraging, as Tony began undressing him. "I've had fantasies about your hands," Steve confessed.

Tony looked up, catching his gaze, surprised again, but when he met Steve's eyes he abruptly smiled, his eyes crinkling around the edges, and slid his hands boldly into Steve's pants, his fingers tracing patterns over Steve's skin that should not have been able to make his nerves light up like that. Steve gasped, hips jerking towards Tony, and took a moment to get a grip on himself before grinning back at Tony.

"We'll get there," he promised, reaching down to grip the bottom of his shirt and pull it off over his head. "But I want to do a little exploring first."

"Exploring?" Tony asked distractedly as he pushed Steve's pants over his hips.

Steve wrapped his hands around Tony's hips and walked him backwards to the bed. They climbed up together and Steve eased Tony down on his back. "Exploring," he confirmed, laying down next to him and running one hand slowly down Tony's chest.

"Oh." Tony's tongue slid over his lips briefly. "I'm...usually on the other side of the exploring," he said, voice low and husky, stretching his arms briefly and then letting them come to rest over his head.

"Do you mind?" Steve murmured, trailing his lips over the column of Tony's throat and nibbling gently. Tony gasped, drawing his legs up a little. Steve brushed a hand over the skin of Tony's hip, and down the line of his thigh, stroking the sensitive skin at the back of his knee.

"I...I don't mind at all," Tony said. His voice was breathless and wondering. Steve eased himself down and kissed the skin over Tony's heart, pausing for a moment to feel the steady beat of it beneath his lips. Slender fingers came to rest on the nape of his neck, sliding into his hair after a second, and Steve looked up to meet Tony's eyes.

"I love you," Steve said, feeling his throat tighten with emotion.

"Steve..." Tony began, and then he just scooted down to kiss him again.

Steve wrapped his arms around Tony and rolled them over so Tony lay secure beneath him, never letting their mouths part. Steve's body pressed down heavily against Tony's and every place they touched was another caress, both of them shifting and rocking against each other just enough to feel the stroke of warm skin over warm skin. Steve's hips met Tony's and he groaned into the kiss at the sensation of his hard, aching length sliding alongside Tony's.

Breaking the kiss, Steve propped himself up on his elbows and looked down at Tony, their bodies still pressed together from belly on down. Tony's gaze was wide and full of nervous desire. But he was here, his arms sliding around Steve's waist, willing, hoping, to be convinced that this was real. "You amaze me," Steve said huskily.

Tony smiled, a touch wryly. "You done exploring?" he asked, arching an eyebrow.

"Oh, no," Steve said, sitting up to take his weight off of Tony. "But you're going to need to move up a little before we fall off the end of the bed."

Tony chuckled and obliged, which left Steve straddling his knees. Perfect. He shifted his weight, using gentle hands to spread Tony's thighs, and settled between his legs instead. "Steve?" Tony inquired, but Steve's only response was to put his lips to Tony's inner thigh and start licking and kissing his way upwards. Tony made a choked noise, the muscles of his leg flexing and moving under Steve's lips. Reaching his goal, Steve cupped the rounded cheeks of Tony's ass in his hands and nuzzled into coarse, dark hairs, tongue flicking out to taste the musk that filled his nose, and struggled to contain his own hot, tight need.

"Steve," Tony pleaded, voice openly needy. "Please, your mouth, I need...please touch me, taste me, God, anything."

"Exploring, Tony," Steve murmured, and Tony whimpered at the breath on sensitive skin. "I'm exploring."

Exploring. Learning. Learning the places where the hot, wet stroke of his tongue could make Tony tremble and where he could, lightly, so lightly, let his teeth touch down. Learning that the hot wash of his breath could make Tony moan and that the slick beads of liquid welling forth were just the right balance of bitter and sweet.

Tony was dark and almost painfully rigid by the time Steve let him slide between his lips. Eyes closing, Steve savored the weight on his tongue, the thickness stretching his lips. Tony keened, a sound of such tightly wound pleasure that it made Steve ache with hunger. He took Tony deeper, mouth watering, swallowing convulsively, and paused for a moment before pulling back.

"More," Tony gasped, hips lifting to meet Steve. "Please, more."

Steve obliged, done with the exploring now, wanting only to pull Tony close and feel him tremble and shake with pleasure. He gave Tony everything Tony begged for, drew him deep and swallowed him down and stroked him with tongue and fingers, urging Tony on until his back arched and he cried out and spilled, slick and hot, down Steve's throat.

It was too much, too good, and Steve had wanted this for too long. Tasting Tony, hearing his cries, Steve's hips jerked and thrust into the bed sheets. He groaned in the back of his throat as he let Tony slide from his lips and came himself, shuddering with pleasure. It took him a moment to gather himself enough to crawl back up level with Tony and stretch out next to him, pulling Tony into his arms again.

"Steve," Tony murmured, "don't you need..." Clever, slender fingers touched Steve, sticky and spent. "Oh."

Steve could feel himself blushing. "Sorry," he said. "I couldn't help myself."

Tony cupped Steve's face between his hands and kissed him, so sweetly that it made Steve's heart leap in hope. "Please. Don't apologize for your passion," Tony said softly.

His arms wrapped around Tony, Steve settled their bodies even closer together. "I love you."

Tony smiled at him, a real smile, his eyes bright and warm. "I believe you."