Steve twisted his bike through the curves, darting between cars and ducking into back streets to avoid the worst of the traffic. He was just done, and he wanted to be home.
Nothing particularly bad had happened, there wasn't anything he could point at and say, "This is what ruined the day," but little things had stacked up, one after the other, until there was no recovering it. He'd finished what he needed to at SHIELD, plus a few obligations he had with the local police, then finally, late enough that dinner was a bust, he got on his bike and blasted home.
As soon as he stepped through the front door, he breathed in the sweet smell of Tony's finished dinner - pasta - and his cologne, always a sweet spice under everything else. Steve stood in the doorway and let it soak in.
"Hey, sweetheart." Tony appeared in the hall, and his soft smile loosened some of the tension in Steve's shoulders. Tony paused, frowned. "You okay?"
Steve shook his head. "Long day." He dropped his bag then stepped forward and pulled Tony into his arms, burrowing into his neck until the world was gone. Tony's hands came up and rubbed at his back in large, slow circles.
"I got you. It's alright. What do you want? Bucatini? Bath? Booze? Blowjob?"
Steve laughed, and that eased a bit more of the tension. "I love you."
"I love you, too." Tony pressed kisses to the side of Steve's face, and suddenly there was only one thing he wanted.
"Take me down?"
Tony leaned back to meet his gaze. "You sure? Do you need to eat?"
"Nah." Steve shook his head. "I knew you'd already have eaten so I grabbed something at the mess before I left. I just want -" He couldn't articulate what he needed, but he knew Tony was the only one who could provide it.
"Alright." Tony cupped his cheeks and brushed his thumbs under his eyes. "Go take a quick shower and leave your clothes off. Then get your collar and bring it to me here."
The order didn't settle in Steve like he wanted it to, but he nodded anyway and set off for the bathroom. It was hard, mustering the energy to peel his clothes off, but he forced himself to start the hot water, and strip down to bare skin. He left his clothes in a pile by the door, not caring, and stepped under the falling water.
For a long time, he just stood there, letting the hot water cascade over him. When he wobbled slightly, he shook his head to clear it and focused on getting clean as quickly as possible. He scrubbed shampoo through his hair then rinsed it, before getting out and drying off. He took his collar case out of the top drawer of the bedside table and popped it open. Usually, just the sight of the collar would send Steve sinking down into subspace, but today he just stared at it, feeling nothing. He frowned, uncertain. Maybe he shouldn't have asked for Tony to bring him down tonight.
"Love?" Tony was standing in the doorway.
"I'm sorry," Steve muttered. He couldn't find that easy place where Tony asking him to do something drowned everything else out.
Tony's hands landed flat on his back and stroked up. His lips touched the back of Steve's neck softly. "What's up?"
Steve sighed. "I don't know. I feel like I can't do anything right today. I want this, but I feel like I've screwed it up already."
"You haven't screwed this up until I tell you you've screwed it up. And then you get punished, right?"
Steve swallowed. "Right."
"So you haven't screwed anything up, yet. I'm in charge of that. You don't have to be in charge of anything. Understand?"
Tony's firm, commanding voice tickled the edges of Steve's submission and he nodded then handed the collar case over. Tony took it out and ran his fingers over it before reaching up to buckle it around Steve's neck. It weighed heavily against Steve's throat and he squirmed under it, rolling his neck out.
Tony watched him for a moment, eyes narrowed, like Steve was a puzzle to be solved. Maybe he was.
"Maybe it's not worth it -" Steve started to say, but Tony cut him off with a sharp look.
"Go to the living room and kneel by the couch. The only things you can say are your safeword and 'yes, Tony.' Got it?"
Steve nodded, skin crawling with the urge to fight back, snap, take his mood out on Tony. But he held his tongue and made his way back to the living room. He dropped to his knees by the couch, the rough fall to the carpet sending shockwaves up his thighs. He heard Tony rustling around in the kitchen, but he kept his eyes fixed on the pattern of the couch fabric, until it creased in front of him and Tony settled there.
Tony's hand landed on the back of Steve's neck and stroked up through his hair. It was too soft, too gentle. Steve wanted to tell Tony he needed it rough, but he was only allowed to say his safeword, or "Yes, Tony." He couldn't find the safe, soft place he could slip into where everything was easy, didn't know where it was. But Tony could push him there, Steve knew he could. He turned his eyes up on Tony and begged silently.
"You're struggling to go under?" Tony asked, always able to read Steve like a book.
Steve nodded. "Yes, Tony." He shuffled a little closer.
"I'll get you there." Tony bent forward until their foreheads touched. It was achingly soft, and something in Steve rebelled against it, but he held his tongue. "I'll get you there." Tony leaned back again and reached for what he'd brought over. There was a large glass of water, and Tony put a straw in it then held it out to Steve. "Drink."
Steve sucked, and when the water hit his tongue, he realized how thirsty he really was. He drained the glass easily, and Tony smiled at him.
"Good boy." The praise brought a small flush of pleasure with it, but when Steve tried to chase it, tried to sink into it, it wouldn't take, and he grimaced, fighting with himself. He shook his head, not sure if he was rejecting the kind words or his own state of mind, but Tony quirked a brow at him. "I'll be the judge of that," he murmured to himself, reaching for a plate on the side table. He lifted a cube of cheese from it and held it out until Steve opened his mouth and Tony could place the cheese on his tongue.
The food did little to soothe the unpleasant churn in Steve's stomach, but he obediently ate every piece of cheese as well as a stack of crackers and some cold ham. Tony kept shrewd eyes on Steve the whole time, and the feeling of failure crawled higher up Steve's spine as he continued to fail to sink down. I'm sorry, he wanted to say, but Tony didn't want to hear that, so Steve focused on the instructions, as hard as it was to follow them without the smooth slide of subspace easing him along. He wanted Tony to whip him down, grip his chin and squeeze and push and force him down where he could let go.
But Tony was frustratingly gentle. "My call," he reminded Steve firmly whenever he grit his teeth and shuffled where he kneeled. "Come here." He patted the couch next to him, and Steve pushed himself up on the cushion, letting Tony urge him flat on his back with his head on a throw pillow in the corner. Steve huffed, eyes on the ceiling.
Tony rumbled a low warning then climbed up to straddle Steve's hips. "You wanna fight me, baby? There's no point. You're all mine. I can do whatever I want with you. And right now, I want to do this. So you're just going to have to lie there and -" Tony bent down to hiss into Steve's ear "- take it."
Steve sucked in a hard breath at the brush of Tony's lips against his ear. He felt the edges of softness again, and this time, he didn't seek it out. He focused on Tony instead, sneaking one hand to his side to feel his breathing in and out and the thud of his heart.
Tony pressed gentle kisses to the line of Steve's jaw. He flattened his hands on Steve's bare stomach, fingers digging in a little bit, but not hard enough to hurt, as much as Steve wanted it to. Steve shifted and rolled, unable to lie still, but Tony didn't mention it, letting him rub and writhe underneath him as he explored Steve's skin with his mouth.
"Tony -" Steve gasped when Tony's mouth latched over his nipple. He quickly corrected himself to, "Yes, Tony," but Tony didn't bite down or remind him of the rules, just sucked, tongue teasing his nipple into a firm point.
"You taste phenomenal." Tony gripped Steve sides and moved to lick at the other nipple.
Steve let his eyes fall shut. Tony's mouth was so hot and wet, travelling over his chest and tasting the jut of his collarbone, the curves of his ribs, and down to his stomach. Steve wasn't hard, wasn't even thinking about sex, but Tony was warm and soft and everywhere, and Steve's breathing and heart rate was slowing.
"I know this is hard, but you're being so good for me."
Steve shuddered from head to foot.
"Such a good boy. I love you. Every inch of you."
"T- yes, Tony," Steve sighed. He started to sink a bit, his heart rate picking up as he realized it which just brought him back up out of it, but he let out a slow breath and tried to relax again.
Tony reached up and tucked a finger in Steve's collar, grounding it and reminding him he was there, owning him. "I've got you, baby. You don't have to go down. Just be still, be good, and I'll take care of you."
Steve hummed, not realizing until now that his hands were wandering up Tony's sides to the back of his neck. He wound his fingers through the hair at his nape, since Tony didn't tell him to stop. The strands were soft and silky, running easily through Steve's hold.
"God, you're so beautiful. So giving. Not just for me, but for people in need, for your country - I'm always in awe of you."
Steve flushed hot at Tony's words. He rarely brought up their work in the bedroom, but it was overwhelming. It cast his difficult day in a new light - worthwhile, even if it drained him. Sometimes it was hard to keep that in focus.
"I love you," Tony breathed again. He pressed his face to Steve's stomach then slid back up him to cover him completely. He ran a hand up the outside of Steve's thigh until he clamped his legs around Tony's hips, wrapping them together.
The rest of the room disappeared.
"You're a good boy… so good. You good for me?"
"Yes, Tony," Steve said on pure instinct, and it was easy this time.
Tony pressed his lips to Steve's ear. "Let go, sweetheart. Let me take care of you."
Steve let out a shuddering breath and then he was slipping under, every sensation in his body softening. "Tony," he cried out, almost a sob.
"Shh, baby." Tony pressed their lips together, soft and giving and loving, and Steve drifted the rest of the way under, everything disappearing except Tony's touch, hazy and blurred and easy. "You wanna stay right here while I read?"
Steve nodded, tongue too heavy to speak. He hung there in blissful freedom, the day gone, his earlier frustration gone - everything was pleasure and softness.
"There you go. Good boy." Tony kissed him again then shuffled around until he could grab his book, curled up on Steve's chest. Steve held him tightly, face in his hair, hands tucked up under his shirt to press against his skin. He was safe here.