"Tony, you are not allowed to steal Steve during his bachelor's party!" Clint boomed with false wrath.
"Not stealing him, giving him a present." Tony told him, grabbing Steve's arm and tugging until he obeyed.
"Cap," Tony began, cutting Steve off, and Steve's mind shut off with a snap. Suddenly this whole situation was very, very serious. Tony didn't call him Cap. Hadn't for a long time, since they'd mended the wounds on the Helicarrier and made overtures to becoming friends. This was the night before their wedding-Tony should not be calling him Cap. Something was wrong, "you're going to like this, I swear." Tony pushed through the door to his lab, and Steve's heart stopped as he took in the heavy machinery that hadn't been there a week ago when Tony had last let him into the lab. "I...I know you miss it. I know you miss everything you left behind. I wanted...I wanted to give you a chance to get it all back. This is how I can give it back to you." Tony gestured to the machine, and Steve stepped closer to Tony, unease sweeping through him, "This is a time machine. Richards, Bruce, and I figured it out. It'll take you back whenever you want to go…"
Steve knew what he wanted already, where he'd go and what he'd do when he got there, "Would...Would I be able to come back?"
Tony looked at it, brows furrowed, "Yes...but only once. You can go and stay, or you can go and come back. You wouldn't be able to go back again."
"Would it cause any ill effects on you here?"
"No, and none there. That's why we have to limit the usage."
Steve glanced over the machinery, mischief growing in his heart, "So I could go back…"
Tony swallowed thickly, nodding.
"I can't take you with me, though, can I?" Tony shook his head, frowning.
Steve reached out, drawing Tony to him, and kissing him hard.
It was three blissfully wedded months before they argued again. Tony had done something reckless and heroic with no thought to his life, and Steve had been horrified as Thor had to tear the mangled suit off of Tony's prone body.
Tony had lived. But he was living in fear that his marriage would not.
He'd made the machine for this. He'd made Steve a way out if he wanted it, and he'd never blame Steve for needing to take it.
At five AM on the fifth day in the hospital, two days after Steve had slammed out of his hospital room and Tony had had to fight harder than he'd ever fought before not to break down or cry, because Steve didn't have to come back, Tony's phone began to ring.
"So, I was just in 1945 punching your father in the goddamn face. I'll send you the video later, but JARVIS told me how long I'd been gone, and I was only gone for five minutes tops, but it's been two days of you being alone in that hospital room, and I don't want you to be alone in that hospital room. I know you think you lost me, Stark, but I love you: you're not going to lose me so easily."
"I punched your father in the face...and told him he'll never be half the man his son is. See, the thing is: I remember the black eye I gave 'im." Steve chuckled, "But I wish he'd remember what I told him."
"Steve...I love you. I miss you, please-"
"I'll be there in a couple minutes, Tony."
"Tony, I love you, and you were an idiot to ever build this for me, because I'm not going anywhere where I wouldn't have you. Your dad was the guy that put it in your head that your life meant less. Really, when I started thinking about it, I could've gone and killed Stane. I wanted to. I wanted to save you from the cave. I wanted to shake you until you came to your senses when you were letting yourself die; and I wanted to deck myself in the jaw when we met on that goddamn helicarrier. But it had to be Howard. Anyway, the only thing that matters is that you know...you know how much I love you, and how much I'd give to be able to take it away that your father was such a fucking bastard. Yeah, you did just hear me say that." Steve was laughing through the phone, and Tony let in a little sharp slip of air.
"You liked him-"
"I love you. He hurt you. He lost every ounce of respect or friendship he had with me when I realized that."
Tony let out the sharp little slip of air, "You'll be here soon?"
"I'm about to open your door right now, Tony."
And there was Steve. Dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt and sneakers that it had taken Tony forever to convince him to wear. And then Steve was smiling, and Tony didn't care what else happened, all he cared about was pulling Steve into his arms and letting it go that Steve had left him alone. "You punched my dad?" Tony muttered from the vicinity of Steve's third rib, information slowly sinking in.
"In the face. I showed up in 1945, wound up, and let it swing."
Tony laughed, high and raw, "You probably knocked him out."
Steve chuckled, pressing his lip to Tony's forehead, "He deserved it."
Tony relaxed into Steve for a moment before he froze again, "Wait...you said you'd send me the video? You took video of yourself punching my dad in the face and threatening him to love me more as a child?"
"Steven Stark, I'd pop the question if I hadn't already."