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Tony Stark and the Amazonian Adventure

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When Steve applies for the chronicler job at Marvels magazine, he’s so excited to meet the great adventurer Tony Stark he can barely sleep. After so many years spent in New York, he's ready to get out and see the world. But when he arrives at the offices for his interview the girl on the front desk takes one look at his skinny frame and stifles a laugh. 

Steve is used to being underestimated. He tries not to let it bother him.

Tony welcomes him in, though, and looks over his portfolio with a whistle. “This is good stuff,” he says. He squints at Steve’s size, tilts his head, and nods. “You should know, being my chronicler is a dangerous job. What makes you want to do something like that?”

Steve raises his chin a fraction. “All my friends enlisted. Even my mum collects tin cans on the way home from her nursing shift. Everyone I know is contributing to the war effort, so even if the army doesn’t want me, I want to do my part.”

“You got a 4F?”

Steve fidgets in his seat, but he can’t very well lie. “I did. The army turned me down at the recruitment station.” He sighs, and decides he might as well be totally honest. “All six times.”

Tony barks out a surprised laugh. “You’ve got heart, pal. That I can see. So now you want to come adventuring?”

“I want to go somewhere I’ve never been before. Somewhere maybe no one has been before. It seems like you’re the man to travel with.”

“And you’re not worried about the dangers? There’s man-eating tigers, deadly avalanches, and virulent diseases to contend with. Not to mention the Nazis with guns.”

Steve knows about the risks, but he’s not going to let that stand in the way of doing what’s right. “What you’re doing is important. You protect people, and you give them hope.” He glances down at a stack of Marvels magazines on the table. “I want to be a part of that.”

Tony looks pleased. “For my next trip I’m going deep into the Amazon rainforest. There’s a statue in a temple there which is rumored to have ancient powers. I need to get to it before anyone else does.”

Steve’s eyes widen. The Amazon! He’d heard tales about the beauty and the wonder of the rainforest but he’d never imagined he’d have the chance to see it himself.

“Let me come with you. I can draw and take notes. I can help.”

Tony considers him. "I don't need a sycophant or a fantasist,” he warns. “I need an artist with a keen eye and nerves of steel."

“That, I can do.”

“Then we’re going to get along great.”

 


 

After a three day journey they’re dropped off on the edge of a lush, verdant forest that spans hundreds of miles. It’s hot and sticky, and the air is so close it feels like it wraps around Steve’s skin in damp waves. It’s beautiful though: rich with the colors of flowers and bugs and distant flashes of exotic birds. 

They get their bearings and set off through the jungle, Tony hacking at vines with a machete while Steve quickly scribbles doodles of the vast array of strange plants and animals they encounter.

The first challenge arises when they come to a deep valley a hundred yards across. The jungle is packed in tightly around them and there’s no obvious way around, so they’re going to have to go over.

Fortunately, there’s a bridge from one side of the valley to the other. Unfortunately, it’s a rickety old thing made of wood and vines and it looks like it’s been here for decades. 

Tony steps one foot onto the first plank of the bridge and raises a dubious eyebrow.

“I think it will hold us,” he says, but he doesn’t sound sure about it.

Steve peers across the crevasse and makes the mistake of looking down. Beneath the bridge are sharp, jagged rocks that are almost certainly deadly. 

“I’ll go first,” Tony offers, but Steve decides that now is not the time for him to give in to his misgivings. He boldly pushes Tony aside.

“I’ll do it,” Steve says, brooking no argument. “I’m smaller and lighter than you. No point in us both falling to a hideous death.”

Tony looks unconvinced by that so Steve gives him a rakish grin, disguising how uncertain he feels. He knows he needs to prove himself, and God only knows what Tony thinks of him so far. It’s not like anyone else would believe a scrawny, ill kid like him could be a useful traveling companion. Now’s his chance to show he can be useful. 

“I’ll be fine,” Steve says with more confidence than he feels.

“Okay,” Tony relents. “But I’m right behind you.”

With a firm nod, Steve sets out across the bridge. Hold onto the vines, he reminds himself, one foot in front of the other, and don’t look down.

He’s halfway across when the bridge starts swinging to a concerning degree, bouncing under his feet. He grits his teeth and keeps moving. 

This is going fine, he tells himself. He gestures for Tony step onto the bridge behind him.

The other side is in sight, nearly close enough now for him to jump to, and he finally lets himself breathe.

Of course, that’s the moment when his foot slips on the damp wood and he loses his balance, scrabbling at the vines in a desperate attempt to stay upright.

The world slows as he falls, twisting and grasping for the nearest vine, and he catches it in his hand but it’s not going to be enough, his momentum is carrying him forward and in one terrifying moment he sees the jagged rocks below and knows that he is going to fall. 

His last thought is that this is a sad way to go, plummeting to his doom before he ever got the chance to show Tony what he’s made of.

And then the who bridge heaves and he's set spinning as Tony runs up to grab him and shove him forward onto solid ground. He hits the forest floor with a thud, and behind him Tony scrambles to safety just as the bridge lurches hideously and the supporting vines ping free.

Steve is still figuring out what happened when Tony pick him up by his pack and deposits him back onto his feet. His heart is pounding and he’s sweating all over and he clenches his fist to hide the way his hands are shaking. He looks to Tony for guidance.

Tony, bizarrely enough, is grinning. “That was fun,” he says. Taking in Steve’s shocked expression, his face softens. “Don’t worry. I’m here to catch you.”

 


 

After a few hours’ trek they stop in a clearing for a rest and a snack. Tony seems right at home here in this wild place and Steve watches as he consults a map and squints up at the Sun, planning out their route for the rest of the day.

“Here, come look at this,” Tony waves him over, gesturing at a path into the forest. “I think we can follow this trail toward the temple on the map.”

Steve goes to look, but he’s distracted by something right on the edge of his hearing. He stops and cocks his head to listen closer.

“Hey, earth to Steve,” Tony calls, waving a hand in his face. Steve shushes him and Tony raises an eyebrow. He’s clearly not a man who’s used to being shushed, but Steve is really trying to focus on that noise.

It’s a low, growling buzzing sound, and it’s getting louder. Whatever it is, it’s coming closer.

“Are you going to stand there with that squinty expression on your face,” Tony begins, “or are you going to come and look -”

Suddenly an enormous bee the size of a small dog burst through the forest canopy, its stinger gleaming menacingly. Steve and Tony share a wordless look of hell no and turn to leave.

As they scramble out of the clearing, Steve looks around to see the bee has been joined by tens of friends, and judging by the now very loud and angry buzzing, more are on the way.

They head down the trail at a run, ducking branches and dodging around rocks. Steve keeps his eyes on Tony ahead of him and focuses on not falling behind.

They make it out of the dense forest and onto a clear grassy plain, where at least they can see where they’re going. But the bees are catching up with them and Steve’s heart drops when he sees that the clearing ends in a sharp cliff.

The cliff edge is approaching fast: the foliage becoming more sparse, the rocky ground edging towards a drop of thousands of feet in front of them.

Tony skids to a halt a few meters from the precipice. Steve glances around and see the giant bees closing in on them.

“Do you trust me?” Tony asks, voice urgent.

Steve considers the question and realizes he doesn’t even have to think about the answer. They’ve only known each other for a few days and yet still, he’s absolutely sure.

“Yes,” he says.

Tony grins wildly. “Then jump.”

Steve peers over the edge of the cliff. There are rocks jutting out from the cliff side, and very far away, at the bottom of the valley, a wide river rages. He swallows.

Tony holds out his hand. His eyes are gleaming with excitement. “Together,” he says.

There’s no time for uncertainty. Steve takes his hand, takes a deep breath, and together they run forward and fling themselves off the cliff edge.

It’s an awfully long way down. Steve has enough time to start wondering if he’s made a terrible mistake, that surely the fall will kill them both, that this is not how he wanted his life to end.

The ground is approaching faster, faster, faster, and Steve braces himself for what will surely be his gruesome death.

They hit the water with a tremendous splash, and the next thing Steve is aware of is the cold. Tony is gone and the water is pressing in on him from all sides and he can’t tell which way is up. He eyes are flooded and the water is murky from silt and bubbles, and his lungs heave painfully as the cold wraps around his chest.

He looks for sunlight to lead him to the surface, but all he can see is murky blue. He tries to push down the panic that wells up inside him but his lungs are aching and his legs kick uselessly and the currents of the river turn him over and over-

Out of nowhere a hand cuts through the water and wraps around his wrist, strong and firm, pulling him upward. Tony. He goes limp and lets himself be dragged, until they’re near the surface and Tony puts his arms around Steve’s middle and heaves him onto the river bank.

Steve coughs and splutters. He’s lying prone on his back but his eyes are clear and the sky is the most beautiful shade of blue and Tony’s face is above him, smiling fondly.

“You did good, sweetcheeks,” Tony says, sounding honestly impressed. Steve hopes that maybe he’s finally shown that he’s not a coward, that he can be an adventurer too. But when he tries to sit up, Tony pushes him back down. “Rest a moment. The bees can’t get us down here.”

Steve wants to object that he doesn’t need to rest, but the ache in his chest says otherwise. He flops back down against the river bank and takes a moment to enjoy the view. 

Far, far above, birds are circling the cliff edge. He memorizes the image so he can draw it later.

Tony lies down next to him, although whether it’s because Tony needs to rest too or because he’s trying to make Steve feel better he doesn’t know. Steve still wants to prove himself, to show he can do this, that he can be worthy. 

But he’s getting the impression that Tony doesn’t judge him the way other people do. Tony might give the impression he’s a rakish man’s man, but the more time Steve spends with him the more he sees a gentle heart under all the bluster. Maybe it’s okay if they just lie here together for a while.

After a few minutes Steve’s breathing has returned to normal and his chest no longer aches. He pushes himself up on one elbow and looks at Tony. 

Tony is disheveled, water dripping from his hair and mud splashed across his shirt and one suspender hanging loose. But his eyes are bright and his mouth is quirked up into a smile. 

He really is beautiful, Steve thinks.

 


 

They walk for an hour before they find a cave. By this time the light is fading so Tony suggests they stop for the night. Steve wants to insist that he can keep going, hating the thought of looking weak. But the dark is closing in and the cave is inviting, and who knows how long it will be before they find more shelter.

Steve decides he can at least make himself useful, so he builds a fire. Tony digs some dried meat out of his bag and sets about making their dinner, such as it is.

Their clothes are still wet from the dip in the river, so they spread themselves in front of the open flames and soak up the warmth. It’s strangely peaceful here, with only the cave walls to keep them company as they eat.

Over the flickering of the firelight, Steve watches Tony. Tony’s eyes sparkle as he entertains Steve with tales of his adventures in Borneo last year, chasing ancient tribal artifacts. And when Steve haltingly begins to tell him about the research he’s done on the ancient peoples of the Amazon, Tony peppers him with questions about their societies and languages and the history of the region.

It’s been a long time since Steve felt like someone was interested in what he has to say. There’s something intoxicating about being the target of Tony’s singular focus.

“Like the statue we’re searching for,” Steve explains. “It’s been here in this rainforest for thousands of years. Generations of people watched over it and kept it safe. They believed it held power too great for any one man to handle.”

“Seems like they might have been right about that,” Tony muses. “If the Nazis have heard the same stories you have, they won’t stop until the statue is theirs. We need to take it some place safe.”

Steve nods, but inside he feels torn. “It seems wrong though,” he says, poking at the fire with a stick. “For us to take something that’s a part of this place’s culture.”

Tony inclines his head. “Sometimes we need to do something bad in service of the greater good.”

Steve’s not quite sure he agrees about that, but the day is catching up with him and his eyelids begin to droop. He tries to fight it, stubborn even against the needs of his own body.

But Tony must notice, because he quietly and without fuss lays out two bed rolls by the smoking embers of the fire. 

When Tony pulls one suspender off his shoulder and begins to unbutton his shirt, Steve’s mouth goes very dry. He makes a effort to look away and busy himself getting ready to sleep.

By the time he dares to look back, Tony is ensconced in a bed roll and Steve can’t decide if he’s disappointed or relieved. He settles down to sleep, close enough to Tony for safety but far enough away that he can say he’s maintaining decency.

In the light of the embers, the cave glows a deep orange. Tony’s eyes are closed and Steve allows himself to stare unabashedly, to memorize every line of Tony’s face. He wishes he had his sketchbook so he could capture the ways the shadows dance across Tony’s features, painting the sharp angle of his profile in a warm glow.

Steve wants to stay awake and revel in the sight of Tony. Finally he’s found something he’s been yearning for but didn’t even know he wanted: the feeling of being a part of something bigger than himself. When he’s here with Tony, what they do matters, and there’s a closeness in that which binds them together. As dangerous and wild as it has been, he feels alive in a whole new way. 

But he’s powerless against the warmth of the night, and his eyes slip close the moment his head touches the pillow.

 


 

They start early the next morning. When Steve groggily opens his eyes and takes in a beam of sunlight slanting through the cave and illuminating the craggy rock walls, he drinks in the feeling of adventure.

And when his eyes fall on Tony, hair floppy from sleep as he rubs at his face, Steve’s pulse kicks up a notch.

They make good progress in the morning light, easily picking their way through the same dense forest which had seemed so impenetrable in the dark. Soon enough they reach the temple, its stepped sides looming up through the trees.

Up close, the structure is massive. Steve swallows as he looks up and takes it in: the rock face is covered in a strange pictorial script, rising in steps high beyond the treetops. 

Tony runs his hands over the rocks at ground level, looking for a seam that could indicate a door. But Steve’s attention is drawn to the letterforms engraved into the rock. There’s something familiar about some of the shapes.

He rummages through his pack for his sketchbook, flipping through the pages of research notes he’d scribbled before the trip. He chews the end of a pencil as he works, searching for something that he knows he’s seen somewhere before.

“A-ha!” he gives a little shout of triumph as he finds the page, and he looks up to see Tony beaming at him.

“Found something?” Tony asks indulgently. 

“Here, look at this script.” He shows Tony the page. “It’s an ancient Panoan dialect. It’s not the same as the language carved into the temple, but it’s similar.”

Tony’s eyes narrow. “It doesn’t look similar to me.”

“That’s because the letterforms are stretched. Here look, see this letter? If you compress it, it matches this symbol here.”

“Huh, so it does.” Tony looks genuinely impressed, and Steve feels a little bubble of warmth well up in his chest. “This script, can you translate it?”

“I can try.”

 


 

Once he knows what he’s looking at, Steve is able to make out most of the script engraved into the rock.

“Time of sands, enter herein,” the first part says. Then below, “Liquid of life will grant you passage.”

He reads off the translation to Tony, who tilts his head as he considers. “Liquid of life? That’s easy enough.” Tony takes his water canteen and drizzles a stream onto the rocks beneath the inscription.

There’s a deep rumbling and the ground shakes, and the rocks beneath the inscription slide apart to reveal a passage.

Tony whoops and pulls Steve into a hug. “Toots, you’re a genius.”

Steve feels a blush spreading over his cheeks. Tony is sweaty and covered in jungle grime, but he still somehow smells good.

Trying to play it cool, Steve pushes Tony off and inclines his head. “Time to explore the temple, don’t you think?”

“Smart and adventurous,” Tony mutters as he backs off. “How could I resist?”

Steve ignores the teasing and peers inside. He can only see a few meters into the dark corridor but the air from within the temple is deliciously cool on his face. 

He squeezes his way inside, trusting that Tony will follow.

 


 

It takes them a couple of hours and several detours through identical-looking narrow corridors but eventually they find the temple’s main chamber. It’s an atrium open from floor to roof and it seems somehow taller than should be possible given the height of the structure from outside.

Perhaps they’ve traveled below ground? With no daylight to orient by, it’s hard to say.

What light there is comes from their torches, throwing dancing shadows across the steep walls. Inside the chamber, every rock surface including the floor is covered with carvings and more of the pictorial language. 

Steve could stay and study it for hours, but they’re on a mission and Tony charges ahead toward a raised plinth in the center of the room.

As Tony approaches, his torchlight glints off something metallic, and Steve’s breath catches in his throat. In the center of the plinth is a beautiful golden statue, squat and intricate and covered in jewels in emerald green and deep blood red.

The statue is stunning, but seeing it pales in comparison to watching Tony’s face as he takes in their find. His eyes roam across every inch of it in excited bursts and his mouth falls open in an oh of delight. He reaches out with a hand, stopping just shy of touching the metal.

“It’s beautiful,” he breathes.

You’re beautiful , Steve thinks but doesn’t say.

“It’s a shame to move it,” Tony sighs, hand still not quite touching. “But if the Nazis get their hands on it, the whole planet is in trouble.”

“We’ll look after it,” Steve promises. “Because we’re going to return it once the war is over, right?”

Tony turns to him and raises an eyebrow. “When the war is over…” he contemplates the thought, sounding wistful and a little haunted. “I can’t see that happening any time soon.”

Finally Tony reaches out and takes the statue in his hands. But the moment he lifts it from its plinth, there’s a terrifying cracking sound and the ground begins to rumble.

“That’s our cue,” Tony says, already on his feet and heading for the exit. “Time to move.”

 


 

Steve ducks a chunk of falling rock as he tears after Tony. The structure is suddenly unsound, the floor rising up to meet his feet unevenly and the walls shaking and shifting. 

He only narrowly avoids getting his foot crushed by a rolling section of wall when Tony grabs him by his shirt, heaving him out of the way. 

There’s no time for thanks, so Steve nods, keeps his head down, and runs as fast as he can. 

His chest burns with the exertion but he pushes on anyway. They dart through rapidly shrinking corridors, Tony with the statue tucked safely under one arm and Steve scrabbling to keep up. 

It’s a relief when Steve sees daylight ahead - just a thin sliver, but enough to give him hope they’ll make it out before they’re crushed.

As he peers ahead he can see a small doorway where the light is streaming in. He sees Tony make it to the doorway and he feels himself relax, overwhelmingly glad to know that Tony is safe.

That was the wrong moment to take his head out of the game though, as a huge chunk of rock smashes in front of him and he only just has time to leap back and avoid being splattered across the floor. 

The falling boulder has blocked his way, and more rocks are falling all around him. He looks back but the corridor behind him is blocked too. There’s no way out.

“Steve? Steve!” he hears Tony calling, sounding distant from the other side of the rock. “Steve, please!”

In that moment, Tony sounds so desperate that Steve can’t bear the thought of it. He’s not going to die here, like this, and leave Tony to fend for himself. 

“I’m here!” he yells, taking in the rapidly filling rocks in front of him. Down near the bottom there’s a small gap, only a foot wide and closing fast. A foot is all he needs, so he throws himself to the floor and crawls through.

There’s a moment where he feels rocks pushing in against his sides and he’s sure he’ll be stuck, and he can’t even see in the dust being thrown up around him. But then strong hands close around his wrists and Tony drags him until he emerges, spluttering, into the light.

They stagger through the doorway and into the humid air, Steve breathing in huge, grateful lungfuls. As they pass through, the entire structure finally collapses and they’re both thrown to the thick forest floor.

Steve lands on top of Tony, both of them panting and grinning like idiots.

 


 

Night is falling fast and they both hardly have the energy to stand, let alone walk, so Tony finds shelter under two leafy trees and they take their rest there. It should be uncomfortable, with the insects biting and the thick jungle moss beneath them, but actually Steve feels full of warm contentment.

The two of them huddle together under the only blanket that they have room for, and when Tony stretches out his arm, Steve snuggles against him. Judging by the warm hum he gives and the way he wraps his arm around Steve’s shoulders, he doesn’t mind too much.

Resting his head against Tony’s chest, Steve feels cold metal beneath his cheek. He flinches back and looks at Tony, who turns away.

“It’s an old wound,” Tony says evenly. He doesn’t turn around. “Most of my chest got blown out in an explosion so I use a repulsor pump to keep my heart going. Designed it myself, as a matter of fact. A miracle of modern engineering.”

Steve shuffles closer. He wraps a hand around Tony’s chest and presses his palm to the metal. “Does it hurt?” he asks. He knows better than most what it’s like to live with pain that others can’t see.

Tony lets out a long breath. “Not always.”

Steve holds him tight, wanting to give Tony that comfort of at least knowing he’s not alone. Tony really does achieve incredible things, just like the Marvels magazine says, but Steve thinks people don’t realize that there’s a human holding up that legend who feels pain and suffers from loneliness, same as everyone else.

He can barely believe that they’ve made it this far and that they found the ancient statue everyone else thought was a myth. He knows this is just another day on the job for Tony, but he feels like his entire life has been upended in the course of a few days.

He wants more of this, now he’s had a taste. He doesn’t think he could go back to his old life now he’s seen what’s out in the world and had the chance to do something important. He can do more, be more, and he can help Tony be more as well.

He needs to find a way to tell that to Tony - whatever the future holds, he wants them to face it together.

But his body is exhausted from the shocks and stresses of their adventures, and once again he falls into a dead sleep before he’s ready.

 


 

When Steve wakes the next morning, Tony has extracted himself and is surveying the jungle from the edge of their shelter. Steve tries not to be too sad that he was asleep for the precious few hours he got to spend being close to Tony.

“Time to head back to civilization, I guess,” Tony announces. “I’ve contacted Jarvis and asked him to collect us.”

Steve busies himself tidying up their bedding to hide his disappointment. “That’s good,” he says as neutrally as he can.

“I don’t know about you, but I could sure go for a hot meal and a warm shower,” Tony says, and Steve resolutely ignores the thought of Tony in the shower.

Instead, he hums noncommittally, and they strike out north towards the rendezvous location.

 


 

Steve catches a flash of relief in Tony’s eyes when the airship floats into sight.

“Jarvis never lets me down,” he says with a lopsided smile.

As the airship comes closer, Steve can take it in in all its glory. It hangs in the sky, vast and improbable, canvas stretched over an elaborate wooden structure. It’s a jaw-dropping sight, and Steve throws a hand up in the air in a joyous wave.

It’s been an incredible adventure they’ve been on in the last few days, but he can’t deny it will be good to get on board and take that hot shower Tony mentioned.

The airship finds a clearing to land and they get their packs and their precious cargo on board. Tony seems a little distant as they work, eyes flicking off to the horizon.

“Everything good?” Steve asks.

Tony turns with a sad smile. “Sure is. I was just thinking that I’ll miss this place.”

“What, you mean you’ll miss the mosquitoes and the humidity and getting chased by giant bees? I’m not sure I will.”

Tony laughs. “Perhaps not that. But I’ll miss the company.”

Steve’s breath quickens. He’s taken aback by that. He didn't think Tony paid that much mind to him, and he feels his cheeks redden.

“Oh,” he says, eloquently.

He doesn’t want this to end, and he doesn’t think Tony does either. He’s ready for the mission to be over, sure, but he doesn’t want the adventure to finish here.

“We’ll be back soon enough,” Steve says.

“We will?”

“We’re coming back to return the statue, remember?”

Tony’s lips twist in amusement. “We are, are we?”

“The statue belongs here,” Steve presses. “The war won’t go on forever, so it’s our duty to return it once it’s safe.”

“You’re not going to let this go, are you?”

“Absolutely not.” Steve sets his chin at a determined angle.

Tony examines him thoughtfully for a moment before he smiles and nods. “We’ll return it,” he agrees.

The idea of more time with Tony makes Steve bold. “While we’re waiting, I could come along on your next adventure,” he offers. “If you still need a chronicler.”

Tony’s eyes go wide. “You’d do that? For me?”

Steve takes half a step closer. “It would be my pleasure.”

Tony reaches his hand out toward Steve’s shoulder, but he hesitates before touching him. “I can’t promise it will be safe,” he says.

Steve grins. “I wouldn’t want to go if you could.”

Tony finally lets himself touch Steve, resting his hand on his shoulder. Steve feels warmth radiating out from the point of contact through his entire body.

There’s a moment when Tony’s eyes flick down from Steve’s eyes to his lips and then back, and Steve thinks, oh. Maybe his feelings aren’t as unrequited as he thought.

Steve’s hands are clammy. He feels like he should be doing something, like this is the moment to take decisive action.

He doesn’t know what that action should be, though, and he’s still trying to decide when the moment is interrupted by the entrance of a figure from the ship’s cabin.

“Picking up strays again, Sir?” a cut glass British accent asks.

Tony bounds over to the cabin’s entrance. “Jarvis, old boy! It’s good to see you.”

Steve slinks back and lets himself be guided through the preparations for takeoff. With the statue secured, there’s no reason for them to linger in the jungle.

Still, Steve settles by the window and watches the green carpet of trees pull away as they rise, feeling a pang of nostalgia.

 


 

When Tony returns from making engine adjustments for their departure, he has a smudge of oil spread across his cheek. It’s a good look on him, and Steve has the urge to swipe it away with his thumb.

But he’s still not sure that would be welcome. He chews a lip nervously.

“Did you mean it?” Tony asks, not looking Steve in the eye. “About coming with me on the next trip?”

Steve has no doubts about that. “That one and the ones after that, if you’ll have me.”

Tony finally meets his eye and breaks into a relieved grin. He settles into the seat next to Steve. “I’ll have whatever I can get of you, Steve.”

Across the gap between them, Tony reaches over and takes Steve’s hand. Steve blushes furiously but threads their fingers together and holds on tight.

He feels Tony relax next to him and, for the first time since this adventure began, he lets himself imagine a future for the two of them together. Travel and danger, holding each other close in cramped tents. It doesn’t sound bad at all.

The engine purrs through the ship and the excitement of the last few days starts to turn to exhaustion. It’s strange, but this place he’s never been to before has somehow begun to feel like home now he’s here with Tony.

Gathering his courage, Steve rests his head on Tony’s shoulder. With a pleased little noise of surprise, Tony shifts and rests his head against Steve’s as well.

Heart full of excitement for what tomorrow will bring, Steve breathes in the warm scent of Tony that is already becoming familiar, and drifts off to sleep.