Touch Starved Tony
This is the first draft, I might so a full rewrite of it eventually and post it on AO3, but for now have some Ironhawk fluffiness.
Tony Stark was a genius practically from birth, put in the spotlight by both association and skill. Nobody was surprised when the rich boy started sleeping around with college kids years older than he was.
Tony remembers being 4 years old, circuit board grasped in tiny fingers. He remembers his father’s arm around his shoulder.
He remembers being 6 an engine on the counter, and his father’s hand on his shoulder, a smile on his face. He remembers Jarvis, and a lot of hugs.
Then he remembers boarding school. Remembers kids’ years older than him who only ever reached out to remind him that he was weakest among them. He remembers teachers who sneered when he corrected them.
He remembers Christmas break and the first hug he’d had in months. He remembers every Christmas break after that and the warmth of Jarvis arms.
He remembers Obie’s hand on his shoulder the day his parents died. He remembers thinking that he would never get a hug from Jarvis again.
He remembers having sex for the first time, he didn’t know her name, heck he barely knew his own name. But he remembered the feel of her skin against his.
He remembers the day he realized people only touched him when they wanted something. With women it was either sex or money, with Obie it was new weapons, and more professional behavior. He remembers realizing that he didn’t particularly care what they wanted if he got even a second of contact.
He remembers the day he realized that Rhodey didn’t hug him with intent. He remembers the day Rhodey shipped out for the first time.
He remembers a string of one night stands and the feeling of flesh on flesh. The feeling of warmth.
He remembers the day he returned from Afghanistan and realized that with the open vulnerability sitting in his chest sex wasn’t an option anymore.
He remembers dancing with Pepper. Remembers holding her in his arms. He remembers letting her go when she asked him to.
He remembers killing Obie, remembers knowing the man had tried to kill him. He remembers mourning the side hugs, and encouraging pats on the shoulder.
He remembers the day the Avengers agreed to move in.
“Jarvis, Jarvis, are all of their rooms ready? The passive surveillance is all set up so they don’t get uncomfortable? And Steve’s is all retro? Natasha has the memory foam bed right? She said she liked memory foam. Do you think they’ll like it?” Tony babbles, he hasn’t slept in three days, ever since they agreed to move in. He had to get everything ready.
“Of course, Sir. All of that has been completed. I am sure they will love it.” Jarvis assures him. Tony nods, trying to settle, hands flying up to fix the mess his hair has become. “Good, good, do I need to shave? I should shave.” He heads for the elevator, fingers tracing over the messy ages of his beard.
“Sir, this is not a date I do not believe shaving is necessary.” Jarvis cuts in, halting Tony on his path to the elevator. “Also, your guests are here.”
“They’re here! Jarvis why didn’t you tell me? Take me down to the lobby to get them.” He spends the elevator ride trying to fix his hair, it doesn’t seem to have done much good.
“Hello Mr. Stark, thank you for inviting us.” Steve says, hefting his duffle bag up on his shoulder.
“It’s no problem, and please Cap, call me Tony.” He says, gesturing for them to board the elevator.
“Still, nice of you to open your home to us.” Natasha says, smiling at him. Her eyes are searching though. Most likely for a motive.
“It’s not just my home now, it’s yours too.” He says, shrugging. Natasha elbows Clint in the least subtle way possible, and Tony watches, mildly impressed as he manages to keep hold of his boxes.
“Oh yeah, thanks dude.” Clint says, peeking out from behind a stack of boxes with Natasha’s careful script on them. “Okay, Natasha, you’re on floor 74. Clint you get 75, they do connect at multiple points and you can feel free to share space.” Tony says, hitting the necessary buttons and gesturing to the eye scanner. “Steve, you’re on 76, and I’m saving 77 for your friend.”
“Tony, we don’t need whole floors.” Steve protests. Looking at his duffle bag Tony suspects that is true, he’ll need to buy the man some clothes and things.
“Speak for yourself Rogers.” Clint says, elbowing the super soldier in the side. It probably hurt his elbow more than it did Steve, but it gets his point across. Tony elects to ignore both of them.
“Brucie-bear, you have 78, although the hulk room expands into 79. I put your lab on your floor because I figured it would be more comfortable.
“Thor gets 79, since he’ll be here the least he shouldn’t mind the loss of space. Common areas are on floor 80, and the penthouse is obviously mine. 81 through 84 are set up for Sam Wilson, guests, more guests, and Rhodey respectively.” Tony explains. “If you need anything from Jarvis you will have to enter the elevator or a common area, as I have set your rooms to passive surveillance only to avoid any discomfort you may feel.” The elevator stops and the doors slide open to reveal Natasha’s floor.
“No Jarvis beyond this point, but there is a top of the line security system so please try not to break any windows.” Tony says, stepping aside, Clint gets off the elevator while Natasha picks up her own stack of boxes and follows him.
It takes an hour to get everyone settled in. Steve thanks him profusely, and talks about how his floor is too much. Bruce thanks him quietly and disappears into his rooms. Natasha calls him kitten in Russian and smiles at him before disappearing into her rooms with a comment about dress shopping.
“Stark!” Clint is bouncing on the balls of his feet when Tony knocks on his door to check on him. “Stark! You built me an archery range on my floor? You are the absolute best!” For a moment, it looks like he’s going to hug him, and then there’s a warm weight of Clint’s hand on his shoulder for half a second. “God, I am never leaving this tower.”
“Glad you like it.” Tony says, trying to ignore how warm his shoulder feels. Trying to ignore how his heart is beating against his ribs. It’s been almost three months since he’s seen Rhodey, and therefore three months since someone has touched him in a friendly way. It feels better than flying in the suit ever does.
He’s not surprised with the lack of physical contact from the others. They were busy moving in, and he knows they all have their own hang-ups. It’s really not a big deal. He’s working on new armor for Steve now anyways, so maybe he can get a hug or something after.
“Stop kidding yourself Stark.” He grumbles, glaring at his reflection in the mirror. There are dark circles under his eyes, it’s probably time he actually gets some sleep. “They won’t want you. Not a team player, remember? Fucking talking to yourself in the bathroom mirror, no wonder you only have three friends.” He sleeps until well into the next afternoon, and then disappears into his lab.
“Sir, Captain Rogers is asking for you. He says the team wants to do dinner tonight in the common room.” Jarvis informs him.
“They want me to come?” He asks, there’s no one here but Jarvis and still the caution creeps into his voice. He can’t help but hide hope behind an air of nonchalance.
“Of course, Sir.” Jarvis says. Steve had asked him to tell Tony to come, they clearly wanted him there.
“Tell Cap I’ll be there.” He says, hiding a smile in his work.
He goes to team dinner, and the next one, and training. He tries to live off of awkward brushes of hands, and sharp kicks for practice. He reminds himself that just because they are here, doesn’t mean they’ll like him. They don’t owe him hugs.
Tony was fine, really. Completely, and totally fine.
He finishes the first round of upgrade and eagerly calls them to the lab.
“I made things!” He says, a new quiver clutched in his hands. He’s practically vibrating with excitement, hugs are a relatively normal part of gratitude he could get a hug.
“Is that a quiver?” Clint asks, Tony hits the button on the side there’s a noise as the arrow head is attached. “Shit automated, what a beaut.” Tony blushes, handing it over. Clint snatches up his bow, practically running for the range. No hug. Tony turns to Natasha.
“Upgraded widow bites with stun, knock out, kill, and Thor settings.” He offers, holding them out to her, she grins at him, taking them from his hands.
“Thanks Stark.” She winks at him as she stalks out of the room. “These will be so useful.” She doesn’t hug him on the way out.
“Steve, new body armor. Less ab plating more protection.” He explains, holding up the new and improved suit. “Also, less zippers, that look was so nineties Steve you don’t understand.” Steve smiles at him.
“No, I don’t, but I appreciate the new suit all the same.” He says, Tony beams at him. Steve claps a hand on his shoulder as he leaves. Tony tries to pretend the warmth is enough. Revels in the feeling from that small touch. It’s not enough, maybe if he makes them more gear.
“You look tired Tones, maybe you should get some rest, you can show me Hulk’s gift tomorrow.” Bruce offers, he’s so kind. If Tony looked bad enough he might help him to bed, hold onto him. It would be nice.
“Yeah, I’m going to go to bed.” He mumbles, the pattern continues. Tony remains cold, and untouched. They fight bad guys, they eat dinner, and nobody hugs Tony.
The suit was gone, ripped off in the battle. He was beaten up, a little bloody but still standing when the witch landed in front of him, lobbing a ball of what he presumed was magic at his chest.
“Let’s see how the world likes you when your deepest desires spill from your lips. How will they feel knowing how perverted you are?” They asked, Tony’s jaw ticks as he clenches it shut. The witch disappears.
“Your darkest desire, huh Stark?” Clint teases. “Can’t be too bad. Want to sleep with a man? Want to kill someone on the team? Want to kill one of the villains we fight?” Tony’s vibrating with frustration, desperately trying to remain silent.
“Clint, stop.” Natasha scolds. “Your desires aren’t you as a person, no matter how dark we won’t blame you.” She assures him, standing on the rubble strewn street. Tony turns wide eyes to Steve and Bruce.
“We won’t.” They assure him. He relaxes his shoulders slightly, his mouth parting against his will.
“I want a hug. Please, I just, I just want a hug.” He begs, face flushing with embarrassment. It’s so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Tony’s head drops, eyes tearing up. “I understand. I know it’s weak, I’m sorry.”
“A freaking hug is your darkest desire?” Clint blurts out, taking a step towards him. Tony nods miserably. “A goddamn hug? How are you so good?” Tony finds himself wrapped in strong arms a moment later. “A goddamn hug.” Clint grumbles.
“I know it’s weak, and stupid. I’m sorry.” Tony whispers, he knows he should pull back, but he lets himself slump against Clint’s shoulder. Let’s himself be held.
“Shut up. You’re goddamn perfect. Your darkest desire is a hug Tony. That’s so ridiculously pleasant.” Clint grumbles, nuzzling into Tony’s hair.
“It’s so dumb, you guys don’t owe me anything, I can’t expect hugs. I shouldn’t have. Got my hopes up, cause I’m dumb.” Tony mumbles, hands clenched in the back of Clint’s shirt. “You can let go now, I won’t be a bother.”
“Nope, we’re going back to the tower, and cuddling.” He’s surprised the others haven’t gotten over their shock and come to join the hug yet. “God, how did I not know you wanted hugs, I could have offered non-stop cuddles.” Clint laments. Natasha seems to have gotten over her shock, and she practically sprints over, leaping at them. Tony flinches just before she makes contact wrapping them both in a hug.
“Do not be afraid.” She grumbles. He doesn’t look at her, face still buried in Clint’s shoulder.
“I shouldn’t have assumed you’d want to hug me. Shouldn’t have asked. Don’t deserve it.” Tony mumbles. “Can’t expect hugs as payment. No buying people’s love.” The words come out like a mantra. She whacks the back of his head.
“You assumed I wouldn’t want to hug you idiot, not that I would. There is no harm in asking.” She scolds. Clint nods, puffing a breath of air into Tony’s hair.
“Didn’t want any of you to feel obligated.” He mumbles. Clint’s grip tightens, and he feels Steve and Bruce joining the fray, a warm line of skin across his shoulders and lower back.
“No, Tony. We don’t feel obligated.” Clint assures him. “Just guilty that we missed out on giving you something you need.”
“Don’t need hugs, I’m fine.” Tony grumbles, but he still hasn’t made any move to pull away.
“Shut up.” Natasha grumbles, Bruce nods in agreement, half asleep from the Hulk out. “You need hugs. Don’t worry, we’re happy to provide.” She steps on Steve’s foot when he doesn’t say anything in agreement.
“Of course, Tony, you’re our teammate, and our friend.” Steve says, pulling back slightly. The hug starts to pull apart then, leaving only Clint with Tony wrapped around him like a koala.
“I should let go now.” Tony mumbles, releasing his grip on Clint’s shirt. Clint frowns, they need to get back to the tower, but how to best do that without letting go, he slides his hand around Tony’s waist, hand resting on his hip.
“This okay?” He asks, squeezing gently. Tony nods with such ferocity Clint worries he’ll get whiplash. “Good, let’s get you home for some more cuddles.” Tony nods agreeably.
“Thanks Clint.” He mumbles. “You’re my favorite.” He’s not sure Clint heard, words buried in the archer’s shoulder. The walk home is warm, pleasant, and absolutely terrifying.
They’re almost to the tower before the panic starts to set in, fears arising that this was all just a show, and that once they get inside he’ll be back to feeling cold and alone in a crowded house. Even if it wasn’t a show, he’s clingy, he knows it. They’ll get sick of him.
“To the couch.” Clint announces, pushing Tony down on the cushions, and lying on top of him. The panic recedes. He’s warm, he’s safe he can enjoy this.
Tony is worried that they’ll get tired of how clingy he is, so he has a plan. He gets one hour with them every day and then he needs to either work or sleep. As long as he leaves the room before they get tired of him. It’s a good plan.
“Tony, won’t you hang out for a movie after breakfast?” Clint asks, sliding an arm around his shoulder. Movies are normally at least 2 hours long, which puts him over the hour limit on snuggle time.
“I’d love to.” He admits, “But, I need to work on the suit.” He leans into Clint’s grasp anyways. “I really should work.”
“Yeah.” Clint says. “You can do that after we watch a movie though, right?” Watching movies and cuddling is normal, so maybe he can do two hours a day, and it will be okay.
“Right.” Tony agrees. “I can do that.” Clint might not even want to cuddle anyways. Which would mean it wouldn’t count as part of his hour, it only counts if there’s cuddling, right?
“Awesome, I could use a couple hours of snuggling.” Clint cheers, dragging Tony into the den. Well, if it’s Clint’s idea then he can’t accuse Tony of being clingy right. “You’re so warm, perfect for snuggling.” Tony nods absently.
“You sure?” Tony asks.
He doesn’t make it back to the lab after the movie, Clint slides in another disc and they stay curled up on the couch for hours. As much as Tony wants to say no, wants to make sure Clint doesn’t get tired of his clinginess, he can’t. He can’t say no, not when Clint’s arms are warm around him. He just holds on, waiting for the touching to die down.
He spends months waiting for Natasha to stop hugging him every time she sees him, or Steve to stop awkwardly hugging him when he makes new things. He waits for Bruce to stop inviting him to yoga, and helping him with positions. He waits for Thor to stop greeting him with tight hugs that lift his feet off the ground. He waits for Clint to stop inviting him to cuddle.
He waits for months until he realizes he’s not waiting anymore. He waits until he realizes they aren’t going anywhere.