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A Song in My Heart

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When Anthony Stark was 4 years old he played Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in full at a private gathering put on by his father.

 

At the age of 8 he was performing mini concerts in large performance halls when his father began hosting parties for the high end of society.

 

When he was 15 he was playing piano with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

 

At 16, Tony joined a super secret boy band.

 

By the time he was 17, Anthony had earned his Master of Music from Juilliard at the insistence of his father who wanted to make sure he did something to make the family proud.

 

Anthony Edward Stark, son of Howard and Maria, was a certified genius and world renowned piano prodigy.

 

Tony Stark, stage name Iron Man, was part of a popular underground “heavy metal” band (and the term heavy metal was used lightly because they also covered songs that were not, in fact, anywhere near what one might consider heavy metal) called The Avengers. His father knew nothing of his son’s extracurricular activities, and that’s exactly how Tony wanted it.

 

Tony

 

***

 

Steve Rogers had never been particularly keen on double dates. There was a lack of intimacy involved when two other people were essentially sharing those moments that Steve felt should be private. Then again, Steve Rogers didn’t date much anyway and had no basis for comparison other than what he’d dreamt up in his mind.

 

To be fair, the one girl Steve had ever gone on a date with had been so amazing that he fell in love with her almost instantly and their relationship was explosive in every sense of the word. He’d had so much respect for Peggy Carter. She was fiery, smart, beautiful and could make him laugh in ways no one else could. They had become an item near the end of high school and were naive enough to believe that love could withstand anything, including a distance of roughly 2,000 miles. It wasn’t unheard of, but as fate is sometimes known to do, the distance turned into hours and then days and then weeks without them speaking to each other. The ocean was their physical barrier, but their new lives were the couple’s ultimate downfall.

 

It had ended just as quickly as it had started, and while it was heartbreaking for Steve, he never regretted one moment of it. He was sure he’d never meet another woman quite like Peggy again, and he honestly wasn’t sure he even wanted to. She was one of a kind. He had no idea how he’d managed to win her heart, but he had done it fair and square and while they were not as close as they’d like to be now, they were still friends. He had no hopes of winning her back. That ship had sailed and she was engaged to a guy she had met at school over in England.

 

“Look alive, Rogers. Here they come.”

 

Steve blinked himself out of his thoughts and turned his head in the direction his friend Bucky had pointed. He wiped his sweaty palms on his pants. No one wanted their first handshake with a woman to involve sweaty hands, and Steve always froze up in the company of women. They all intimidated him. He might look like an All-American jock, but the truth was that Steve was a shy arts student who was sometimes part of a popular grunge band, but those were almost two different lives for him. He didn’t prefer one over the other, but when he donned his grunge look he preferred to do it for an audience. Alone he just wanted to be Steve Rogers, starving artist.

 

It wasn’t too terribly long ago that he’d been the kid that everyone bullied because he was smaller, sickly, poor and honest to god reckless. He had no fear and stood up to any bully causing problems for another person, even when he knew most of them could bodily throw him across a room. It wasn’t a life he hated, but he was not going to pretend that the fact he’d had a growth spurt and acquired new and amazing muscles wasn’t the best thing to happen to him. Needless to say, the bullies left him alone after that, and anyone else he felt the need to protect.

 

“Hello, girls!”

 

Bucky was all charm and charisma and could hold the attention of the entire room with not much more than a smile if he wanted to. Girls had always been Bucky’s forte. Steve came along for the ride, and he’d managed to ruin the nights of quite a few females who were expecting Steve to be like Bucky. Well the Steve from before. The Steve who was about five and a half feet tall and maybe 95 pounds. Where they found his awkwardness offputting and undesirable before, it was now quirky and adorable and Steve did not appreciate either of those distinctions.

 

“And this is Steve.”

 

Steve shook his head quickly and covered up his lack of focus with a smile, holding out his hand to the blonde girl standing in front of him. She was stunning and had a wonderful smile. Something about her seemed familiar, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was.

 

“Sharon Carter. Nice to meet you, Steve.”

 

His hand froze mid-shake. Sharon. Sharon Carter. He...

 

“I’ve heard so much about you! I’m glad we finally got to meet!”

 

Steve gave Bucky a concerned look, wondering what he’d told this girl, but Bucky just shrugged his shoulders and gave the slightest shake of his head. He turned his attention back to Sharon.

 

“It’s nice to meet you too, ma’am. Hopefully you weren’t told any of the bad things.”

 

Sharon just smiled and placed her hand on his forearm.

 

So there’s that.

 

“I don’t think there’s one bad thing that could be said about you.”

 

Steve had no idea how to respond to that. Luckily he didn’t have to as Bucky was showing them to their table. Double dates were already among Steve’s least favorite things. Double dates who were preparing to listen to a heavy metal band while drinking the night away were even further down on his list. How could this be a date? How do you get to know someone that way? Bucky had always told him he was too old-fashioned, but Steve thought there was some merit to doing things the old-fashioned way, and he was also a hopeless romantic. He wasn’t the type who was in it for a quick lay before moving on to the next girl.

 

Steve waited for Sharon to take her seat before occupying the seat right next to her. She began talking immediately and not at all at a speed he could keep up with. It wasn’t that she was annoying, but she was working a lot quicker than him and it was making him even more nervous. The server came by and took their drink orders quickly and returned in record time. He continued to listen to Sharon, smiling and nodding at proper intervals. She was animated in the things she spoke of, seemed rather passionate about the things she enjoyed, clearly had a mind of her own and he liked that.

 

“So Bucky tells me that you’re in a band too! Peggy never mentioned that part.”

 

Steve’s head jerked up and he looked at her, his mouth falling open. “Peggy?” He had to look away because he needed to reboot his brain after being thrown into such a loop, but he had ignored the biggest sign of all that she knew Peggy and was probably related to her. So not a coincidence then. His eyes slid toward his friend as he searched for some sort of help.

 

Bucky, on the other hand, was already schmoozing up to his date who he couldn’t recall hearing the name of and this was exactly why Steve hated double dates. He absentmindedly pulled apart some straw paper in front of him. He was hoping a few drinks would calm his nerves enough that he’d find the courage to talk. In proper, coherent sentences even.

 

“I didn’t realize Peggy had a cousin. She never mentioned you.”

Smooth, Rogers. Real smooth.

 

“I mean uh--,” he was floundering and blushing heavily.

 

Sharon only laughed at him. “It’s okay, Steve. Breathe. We weren’t as involved in each others lives when you two were dating.”

 

“That was still rude. Sorry,” he mumbled, picking up his drink and tasting it.

 

She smiled and rubbed her hand over his forearm. “I’ll let you make it up to me later.”

 

If Steve hadn’t pulled his drink away just at that moment he’d have probably inhaled some of it through his nose. Again, he was nowhere near as forward as most people. He had no idea how to be. It wasn’t a quality he looked down on, it just wasn’t a quality he possessed. People still caught him by surprise even though he’d been at the end of some extremely suggestive comments from other girls.

 

He would always be that little kid from Brooklyn who couldn’t walk away from a fight. Too bad he didn’t have that same kind of bravery when dealing with the opposite sex.

 

Sharon laughed again. “Peggy always talks about how shy you could be. I think it’s sweet.”

 

Steve just smiled. “Ah, thanks. I guess.” He moved on from the straw paper to a napkin, twisting the corners between his finger and thumb. “She was...is a swell lady.”

 

“Are you even from this era? You talk like my grandfather. He never stopped saying swell and still calls all girls dames.”

 

His ears were burning and he felt his face flush. “That’s---.”

 

Any and all conversation was cut off when The Avengers started playing. Steve had never been so relieved in his life. He was soaking up all the awkward in the room and probably making every other person look and sound amazing by comparison. At least now he wouldn’t have to try and think of things to say because he would, without a doubt, embarrass himself and somehow Bucky too. He majored in awkward.

 

At some point Steve became entirely engrossed in what The Avengers were doing. They were unlike any heavy metal band he’d ever imagined. They certainly dressed for the part, but they still managed to stand out from most heavy metal bands he’d encountered. For starters, their lead vocal looked like a freaking Viking and was built like a god. No, seriously. Even Steve would be nervous about getting into a fight with this guy. The girl, a redhead who was dressed in all black, looked like she could probably kill a man with one of those drumsticks she was using without breaking a sweat. He wasn’t surprised to see Bucky staring at her, completely ignoring the date who was desperately trying to bring his attention back on her. The guy playing bass was so far from what he’d imagined heavy metal it wasn’t even funny. Except it was. The guy, wearing a peculiar amount of purple, appeared to be focusing less on the strings and more on the audience. This was the guy who would probably jump off stage into a mosh pit just for shits and giggles. He was obviously talented as hell. They all were.

 

It took him a bit longer to take notice of the keyboardist, and he couldn’t pinpoint what exactly drew his attention in, but once he noticed he couldn’t...stop...noticing. There wasn’t anything striking necessarily as he was in some sort of similar fashion as the rest, although he seemed to have a fondness for red and gold. Flashy red and gold. No one wore outfits like that anymore, but this guy did and he did it well. He couldn’t look away. He knew he should be making an attempt to pay attention to his date, but all he could think about was sketching the intensity seen on the keyboardists face.

 

And then it was over, people were cheering and standing up and either trying to leave or get the attention of the lead vocal, the drummer, the bass player. His eyes sought out that keyboardist though, but his search was cut short when he felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to see Sharon letting him know she was leaving.

 

“It was great meeting you.”

 

Steve smiled politely. “You too, Sharon. I had a good time.”

 

She gave him a disbelieving smile. “I’m sure you did. I was hoping you’d possibly be enjoying the evening with me, but I suppose it would have been a bit strange if you had started dating your ex-girlfriend's cousin. Thanks though. If anything it was really nice to finally meet you.”

 

And Steve had no idea what to say to that. Which was great since Bucky’s date was apparently yelling at him for showing more interest in the drummer than her and Sharon had to drag the girl out, but not before waving to both of them. Steve offered an awkward wave and Bucky was busy rubbing his face where he’d been remarkably slapped by his drunk ex-date.

 

When Steve turned to give his friend a disapproving look, Bucky was already gone, making a beeline for that red headed drummer. He checked the time on his cell phone, knowing he had to get an early start on his day tomorrow if he ever planned to finish his final art project for the semester. With a sigh, because he knew it would take some convincing to get his friend out of there, he slowly approached and placed a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Bucky, we need to get going soon.”

 

Bucky turned around with a rather large smile. Great.

 

“Steve! This lovely woman here is Natasha. The drummer for The Avengers. Natasha, this is Steve Rogers, my best friend and bass player for The Howling Commandos.”

 

Steve smiled and held out his hand to her. “Nice to meet you, Natasha. Can you excuse us for just a moment?”

 

Bucky protested but allowed Steve to pull him away, and it didn’t stop him from glancing back every few seconds to make sure she was still standing there. Steve rolled his eyes.

 

“Bucky, are you listening to me? I have to be up early tomorrow. This can’t be an all night ordeal.”

 

Bucky waved at him dismissively. “Yeah. Sure. Sure. Just give me fifteen more minutes, mom.”

 

Steve checked the time again and barely had time to agree before Bucky was gone. Again. And now he had no idea what to do for fifteen minutes. People were filtering out of the place at the moment and he didn’t want to risk losing sight of Bucky for too long. He wasn’t entirely sure if he was allowed to pass through the door that led to the backstage area, but he did. It might be a little quieter at least and less people to stand near.

 

He found himself standing in a hallway with two doors at the other end. One of the rooms was obviously for the owner of the place and the other door was barely ajar, but enough for Steve to hear a light melody playing and one that people were not apt to hear in a place like this. He wasn’t even sure how his ears were able to pick up on the tune after The Avengers had finished their concert, and maybe his mind was playing tricks on him, but curiosity got the better of Steve and he followed the sound.

 

He paused just outside the door and leaned in closer to see if he could hear it better. After a few seconds he straightened himself up and looked around to see if there was anyone nearby before he barely pushed the door open, just enough to hear and was greeted with a view he was not entirely expecting.

 

Sitting at an old piano was the keyboard player, the guy in the shiny, tacky red and gold outfit. Steve had to smile a little. The guy was hunched over the piano, his fingers flying over the keys and Steve wasn’t sure if he was even paying attention to the keys at all since his eyes were closed. He’d seen people play like this before, but this was something different. Something he couldn’t begin to put his finger on, but it was amazing. It was captivating.

 

And then the mystery keyboard player began to sing and Steve froze.

 

Come fly with me

Let’s fly

Let’s fly away

 

He should leave. He really should. Steve really did try to think of how he would feel if someone was watching him draw while he wasn’t aware of it. It felt invasive. He’d been there before and he wasn’t prepared, wasn’t ready for anyone to see what he was doing. Not yet. He knew he should respect this guy’s privacy, but he could not pull himself away.

 

If you can use some exotic booze

There's a bar in far Bombay

Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away

 

It wasn’t often Steve came across someone who enjoyed some of the older tunes. He knew better than to judge a book by its cover because despite being in a grunge band, Steve favored the older generations. He favored music that came from the 20s, 30s, 40s in ways he could never manage to feel for most of what he heard today. Maybe he was just a silly romantic, but he had always felt like he’d connected more with that era than any other.

 

Come fly with me, let's float down to Peru

In llama land there's a one-man band

And he'll toot his flute for you

Come fly with me, let's take off in the blue

 

He was smiling like the big goofball everyone told him he was. He knew it. Whoever this guy was, he was talented. He could carry a tune, he was singing and not many people he’d known could pull off Frank Sinatra so well. He tried, he did, but there was a reason he wasn’t lead vocals. Steve could sing. He could sing well, but it wasn’t where he was strongest. This guy could probably be singing lead vocals if he really wanted to. Steve wanted to ask him so many questions already and he knew nothing of this person at all except he was part of The Avengers.

 

Once I get you up there where the air is rarified

We'll just glide, starry-eyed

Once I get you up there I'll be holding you so near

You may hear angels cheer 'cause we're together

 

Steve frowned when the piano music became a little quieter. Was he about to stop?

 

“How many times do I have to tell you not to stand there and watch me like a big creeper, Pep?” He was smiling down at the piano, speaking over the music as he continued to play.

 

Steve’s eyes grew wide and he didn't get a chance to back out of the room, he’d been caught as the keyboardist turned around, his eyes becoming just as wide.

 

“You’re not Pepper.”

 

Steve shook his head. “Ah, no. Sorry. I just...” he stood up straight once more and turned his head to look down the hall, thinking now would be a good time to grab Bucky and get the hell out of there.

 

“Do you often spy on people like this or...”?

 

The blonde shook his head quickly again, feeling a blush rising up. “Nope. No. It was an accident. I really didn’t mean to--”

 

“Oh relax.” He gave Steve an easy smile. “I’m not going to bite.” He stopped and leered. “Unless you’re interested.”

 

Steve laughed at that. He had no other reaction. He was relieved because the guy whose name he still had yet to learn wasn’t angry with him. “I’m really sorry though. I hate it when people watch me without me knowing it. You play really well though. That was uh...amazing.”

 

The guy arched an eyebrow. “Thanks. I’m Tony by the way.”

 

Steve let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding. “Steve.” He jerked his head slightly back toward the area where the stage was...more or less. “I saw you playing out there earlier too. You’re really--you’re really good.”

 

Tony shrugged a little, smiling. “I know right?”

 

“Well at least you aren’t shy about accepting compliments.”

 

“I’ve heard different versions of the same compliment my entire life.”

 

“Ah...well, I will get out of your hair and let you do what you were doing without me intruding.”

 

Tony smiled again. “Nice to meet you, Steve.”

 

“You too, Tony. Good luck with the whole band thing and all that.”

 

Steve mentally kicked himself. What the fuck kind of well wish was that? He managed a quick, embarrassed wave before racing from the room as fast as he could walk (not run thank you very much) and right into Bucky.

 

“About time, Steve. You said fifteen minutes.”

 

Steve stopped, panting a little. “Well I’m here now.”

 

Bucky just punched Steve in the arm with a roll of his eyes. “Hypocrite. You’re telling me all about her when we get back.”

 

Steve gave his friend a confused look. “Who?”

 

“Please. That blush on your face. You met someone.”

 

“It isn’t like that.”

 

“Good. Then you won’t have a problem filling me in after I tell you all about Natasha.”

 

Steve mentally steeled himself for the ride home, hoping that Bucky would get so distracted with his own story that he’d forget about Steve and how spectacularly he’d managed to embarrass himself in such a short amount of time.

 

***

Tony Stark loved his life. Usually. Both sides of it. Being part of the band was a change from his usual day of practice, play, write, practice, play, write, repeat as necessary. He never intended to let Howard find out about it because, of course, he’d be disappointing the family name since he was a respected pianist and blah blah blah. He was sure that some part of his father actually liked him, but he hadn’t really been able to prove it yet. His mother seemed to be more invested in Tony’s well-being and at least told him she was proud of all his accomplishments to date, she just never managed to say them in front of his father.

 

Howard, since Tony had first begun playing the piano as a small child, would force Tony to sit down for two hours straight in the morning and at night just to practice. Tony had already achieved more in his life at only 17 than Howard had during his entire career as a pianist, and Howard was the best in the business. Tony just happened to be better. He knew it. Howard knew it too. He had, after all, created Tony. He’d called Tony his masterpiece and Tony wasn’t sure if that had been a hidden declaration of love for his only child or if he was telling Tony he better not ever let him down because he’s carrying on the greatness of the Stark name. So if Howard found out about Tony’s inclusion in The Avengers, Howard would probably end up going completely nuts.

 

The Avengers had honestly given him more in the ways of unconventional learning experiences and he utilized what he knew in his piano performances. He definitely knew how to work a crowd. He was already notorious for being somewhat mischievous and the only reason Howard let it slide was because the general public thought it made him more interesting. If Liberace and Elton John could do it, then so could he.

 

Of course, he also met all sorts of interesting people doing his undercover gig at Iron Man. People adored him in that respect and it had nothing to do with his status as a piano prodigy. No one knew his true identity. Well he took that back. The people in his band knew, but they were sworn to secrecy and he’d come to trust them to keep that secret eventually.

 

He couldn’t stop thinking about that guy Steve. The one that had been watching him play. At first Tony had been angry about the intrusion but then he saw the look on Steve’s face and decided he was cool with it. It had helped that Steve didn’t know who he really was either. He’d been genuinely impressed, which Tony was always going to be used to, but Steve had seemed earnest and also a little peculiar. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but whatever it was Tony liked it. He had a wholesome American boy next door appeal and the brunet definitely found him appealing. In hindsight, he wished he’d gotten more than just a name because Steve disappeared just as fast as he’d shown up.

 

It was probably a blessing too because that’s when Happy and Pepper showed up. He appreciated his bodyguard and Pepper was great at micromanaging his entire life as well as leaving out the part where Tony was actually in a band. She said she thought it was good for him to explore venues outside of piano concertos. So he had her on his side and Happy had no objections as long as he was able to follow Tony everywhere because what kind of bodyguard would he be if he didn’t do that?

 

He’d texted Rhodey on the way home to nag him about missing his concert that night, but then told him he’d replaced him with a hot guy named Steve who he met for all of five minutes.

 

Rhodey told Tony he was okay with this.

 

Tony pouted in a manly way, which Rhodey called him out on after several moments of silence.

 

Tony was a little clingy. He could admit it even if he didn’t like to. The truth was that he had a hard time making friends and he was terrified of losing the ones he had now. His social skills sometimes left something to be desired when he wasn’t putting on a show for the reporters and camera people.

 

Now that he was home he should have been working on more of his sheet music, but he found himself pacing back and forth, tapping his fingers against the middle of his chest. It was a habit he’d had since as far back as he could remember. Howard often told him he needed to stop the habit in public but Tony honestly just found the action comforting and it kept him grounded. He wasn’t invincible and he learned that at an early age.

 

He thought more about Steve. Steve had amazing dimples. Well he had an amazing smile too. He didn’t get a good look at Steve’s eyes but he was pretty sure those were even better up close than they were from a small distance. His hairstyle had been dorky in the most adorable way and Tony had never developed a crush on one person in less than five minutes. It was not possible. Then he thought it might just be a lust thing and he’d be over it in no time at all. He was still a teenager so not completely unfathomable in the least.

 

Besides, trying to balance a new variable into his already busy and hectic schedule would be a pretty bad idea. If he asked Pepper to micromanage anymore than she already was she would most likely pull her hair out and demand a raise. Tony loved Pepper. She was awesome. If she wasn’t around his life would be a complete mess. Pepper was a saint. She deserved a raise just for putting up with him and his eccentricities.

 

Maybe he could try and squeeze Steve into his life somehow. That is if he ever actually got to see him again.

 

***

It was rare for people to see Steve in his punk rock attire unless he was performing and tonight wasn’t any different. The venue they were performing in that night was featuring a Metal-Punk Mash Up of various local bands and they were one of the last ones to go on stage. There were five bands total set to play two songs each and the Howling Commandos were number four on the list. Steve played bass next to Morita who talked about how much he enjoyed shredding up his guitar. Bucky was their lead singer, Gabe the keyboardist, Dum Dum on drums, Falsworth on second guitar and Jacques on third guitar.

 

Dum Dum found him in the back while he was spiking his hair up a bit more. He used an ungodly amount of product to achieve this look so he was going to make sure he got his money’s worth. He’d taken care of his eye liner right away because that was probably his least favorite part. He’d poked himself in the eye more than enough times. He was wearing his usual torn vest and on both arms were his spiked bracelets, which he actually kind of liked and sometimes (only sometimes) thought about wearing more often. The spiked collar he could live without but it definitely helped with the image. He looked over when Dum Dum stepped in front of the mirror to give his moustache a twist and positioned his bowler cap just right. He insisted that it was punk rock after he added some spikes to it, but he refused to perform without it. That was Dum Dum in a nutshell. He cared little about fitting in and was ready to perform after having at least four beers. At least his drum solos were always top notch.

 

“Gonna be some after party tonight.”

 

Steve hummed indifferently, still focusing intently on his hair.

 

Dum Dum flicked the lip of his cap and smiled at Steve, clapping a hand roughly on his shoulder. Steve would have taken a moment to spare him an annoyed look, but nothing would be as bad as that first time he did it while Steve was actually applying the eyeliner. Needless to say, he made sure he wasn’t using it whenever Dum Dum entered the room.

 

Bucky was the next to enter, bearing gifts of the alcoholic variety while Gabe came in right behind him with beer steins and shot glasses for all of them, followed immediately by Falsworth and Jacques. This was a tradition and in no way punk rock. Especially when Dum Dum started belting out an Irish drinking song while Bucky dispensed even amounts of beer and pouring shots for each of them. After making sure everyone, especially Steve, had their poison of the night in front of them, Bucky lifted his shot glass.

 

“Lift your shot glasses high as a token of our appreciation to the gods of punk as they rain down their awesomeness upon us so that we may kick some serious fucking ass tonight!”

 

Dum Dum lifted his beer stein. “Here here!”

 

The others just snorted and Steve nudged Bucky with his elbow, smiling. “You have a real way with words, Buck.”

 

Bucky lifted Steve’s shot glass and shoved it into his hand. “This is no time for sarcasm, Rogers. Drink up before you anger the gods and one of us ends up falling off stage and embarrassing the rest of us.”

 

Steve stopped messing with his hair and took the shot glass, throwing the burning liquid back instantly and chasing it with his beer. He swallowed and cleared his throat, giving Bucky a smirk. “Better? Have I appeased your gods now?”

 

“That’ll do, Steve. That’ll do.” He was the one who made the decision that Steve was finished with his hair and threw an arm over his best friend’s shoulder while holding on to his beer in the other hand. “So Natasha is performing tonight too.”

 

“And you want to make sure we make you look extra good for her?”

 

Bucky grinned. “This is why you’re my favorite.”

 

“Wait. The Avengers are playing tonight too?”

 

“Pretty sure that’s what was implied when I said Natasha was performing tonight.”

 

“Well you’re still a huge smart ass so you can’t be that nervous. I’m sure she’ll be swooning in no time at all, Bucky.”

 

“Yeah yeah.” He let go of Steve and gave him a small shove out of the way to go check up on the other band members.

 

Steve was thinking of Tony and wondering if Tony would remember him...or even recognize him. He was sort of hoping so because he had been nothing if not intrigued by the guy after their brief initial meeting. He tried to tell himself he felt bad for intruding on what he had assumed was a private session, but he found himself hoping for an encore.

 

“Steve, we’re heading out! Gonna go watch The Avengers play so Bucky can stop fretting over his new lady love.”

 

Steve grinned at Dum Dum and gulped down as much beer as he possibly could as quick as he could. When he was finished he followed after the rest of the group, excited for his own reasons that none of them really knew anything about.

 

“You guys, stop it! Natasha is so…”

 

“Amazing?” That was Morita.

 

Bucky sighed. “Yeah but she’s also…”

 

“Mysterious and sexy…”

 

Bucky turned to glare at Gabe this time. “Shut up. You guys just don’t get it. Tell them, Steve.”

 

Steve had to quickly pull himself from his thoughts and shook his head. “What? Oh. Yeah she’s real…” he searched his head for an impressive word. “...swell.”

 

Bucky rolled his eyes. “Nice save, bro. This is why you’re not my favorite.”

 

“You’re a man of contradictions at least. I’m sure she’ll appreciate it.”

 

They arrived just in time to watch the first act finishing their final song and leaving the stage. Bucky wanted to get as close as possible and was using Dum Dum as his personal bowling ball to get people out of their way. This wasn’t uncommon and Dum Dum enjoyed tossing his weight around, even for a hilariously lovesick friend. They managed to find a spot where they could get a clear view of the drummer, but Steve couldn’t help it that his eyes kept moving toward the keyboard knowing he’d get to see Tony again.

 

So while they stood around waiting for the stage to be set for the next performance, Steve decided to go buy everyone a round of beer because he knew it wouldn’t take long for Dum Dum to get bored and possibly start a fight with someone. Not that having the beer with him would actually lessen those chances, but it’d keep him distracted for awhile at least.

 

Seven beers and one bucket to carry them in later, Steve was making his way back to his group and nearly collided with someone. He looked up to apologize but had barely gotten his apology out when he realized he was actually looking at Tony and he gave him a small smile instead as well as a much quieter sorry.

 

Tony squinted for a moment before his own eyes widened and a smile crossed his face as well. “Steve? You failed to mention that you were in a band.”

 

Steve merely shrugged and smiled. “Surprise. What gave it away?”

 

Tony looked him up and down quickly. “Not a clue.” He looked toward the stage, saw it was time for them to start so he gave Steve a flirtatious wink and ran off toward the rest of his band, throwing a wave over his shoulder. Steve, and he knew he would suck at hiding it, had a huge smile on his face and suddenly felt ten times lighter. Tonight would definitely be great.

 

He dispensed the beers to his own bandmates and drank up. The first thing he noticed, which sadly wasn’t Tony, was the fact that their lead singer was, in fact, sporting a plastic Viking helmet much to the amusement of pretty much everyone in the room with them. He was also stunned to hear the guy address the audience in a fashion that did not sync up with the lingo of today. If there was anyone Steve could ever bond with over feeling out of place, it was this guy, but he seemed to enjoy audience reactions to it.

 

Once they began playing, Steve allowed his eyes to steer toward Tony. He occasionally glanced at Natasha just so he wouldn’t have to lie about saying he watched her play. She was a killer on the drums and he was convinced she’d probably try to kill Bucky with her drumsticks at least once.

 

The Avengers’ set was over before Steve knew it and they were leaving the stage. They had to sit through one more band’s performance before their turn came up. The seven Howling Commandos made their way backstage to get prepared and run through one last check to make sure they had everything they required during their show in the places they should be. This usually consisted of Dum Dum air drumming and Morita playing air guitar right along with him. Steve was leaning against the wall, absently picking at the black nail polish on his fingers. He tried to imagine every note he needed to hit and played the music in his head several times. Bucky was nervous. Actually nervous. Bucky never got nervous about anything so Steve decided Natasha was probably wonderful for Bucky.

 

When it was time for them to make their way to the stage, Steve looked over at his best friend and gave him a smile along with a salute which Bucky returned. At some point in their lives this had become their method for letting the other know he had his back. Bucky seemed to calm down visibly and smiled. Steve trusted Bucky more than anyone else and he knew Bucky felt the same way. So when it was time for them to walk onstage, Steve gave Bucky a pat on the back as he walked by to pick up his bass guitar. The lights came up, people were screaming and Dum Dum started them off. Steve spotted Natasha not too far from the stage so he spared Bucky a quick glance to see if he’d noticed. He had. He winked at her before he started singing which earned him an eyeroll and the tiniest of smiles. Steve was happy for his friend and happy that Bucky might possibly stop dragging him along on horrendous double dates if their relationship became serious.

 

Luckily for Bucky, he hit all the notes, got all the words right, didn’t fall down. Definitely a win for him. When they were finished playing, Bucky jumped down from the stage instead of walking back with the rest of them. Before he turned around, Steve caught a quick glance of Tony who smiled and waved at him before quickly making his exit. The blond felt his heart flutter and he made his way behind the stage with his bass guitar. As he was putting the instrument into its case, Bucky came back with a whoop and clapped Steve on the back.

 

“I fucking nailed it!”

 

“I heard. “ He smiled. “Did Natasha enjoy it?”

 

“She said I was pretty good, which coming from her is practically the highest of compliments.”

 

“Don’t let it go to your head. I’m not sure your ego can't really take much more inflation.”

 

Bucky threw his arm over Steve’s shoulder as they walked. “Hey. I worked hard for this huge ego. I earned this ego! Anyway, she’s coming out with us later. I told her you would drive us. Thanks ahead of time.”

 

Steve scowled. “You’re definitely not welcome.”

 

“Don’t be a spoilsport. It’s not a good look on you. It’s never a good look on you, but right now it’s downright awful.”

 

“You say the sweetest things, Bucky.”

 

“That’s why you love me the most, Steve.”

 

“Yeah yeah.” He elbowed Bucky in the stomach. “I’ve gotta go grab something from the back room. I’ll be back up in a few minutes.”

 

Bucky nodded and walked back toward the front, probably to find Natasha again.

 

Steve

 

***

Steve dressed like a punk rocker. How fucking hot was that? Of all the things Tony had been expecting to see that night, it was definitely not that. It took him a second to recognize the blond but when he did he realized it was pointless to try and let go of that little crush he had. Steve was in a band too and he had to say he never saw that one coming. This, of course, made him feel a desperate need to get to know Steve just a little more and he had to figure out how. He’d seen him standing in front of the stage during their performance and he tried not to smile too much because he’d caught Steve looking at him a few times, but it seemed they were mostly there for Natasha.

 

When it was time for the Howling Commandos to take the stage Tony made sure to watch. He told himself it was because he wanted to see if they were any good and that it had nothing to do with the fact that he could stare at Steve. He couldn’t even convince himself of that bullshit because Steve was the only reason he was still there. Tony didn’t think he’d see him ever again, but apparently luck was on his side. He waited around just long enough for Steve to see him. He’d smiled and waved and proceeded to make his way to the back room where he’d met Steve before. The odds of Steve finding him again were fairly slim but he was feeling pretty lucky all things considered so maybe the odds would end up being in his favor after all.

 

He got the feeling that the interest he had in Steve was mutual and he was extremely motivated to make it work. Tony deserved it. He thought he did at least. He worked hard and he didn’t give himself a lot of free time. Okay correction. Pepper didn’t include much free time in his schedule, which involved a lot of travel as well as a lot of not sleeping. His coffee addiction was going to end up becoming problematic at the rate he was going now. Usually he didn’t mind the non-stop travel unless it included flying halfway across the world for a few days and then flying back. The jet lag was hell and he rarely got time to make up for the difference. He’d never bothered adapting to a normal sleep schedule because of it.

 

While Tony sat in the back room staring at the piano and waiting he began composing a new piece in his mind. He wasn’t sure where it was coming from or what even brought it on, but he knew he would have to write it quickly so he could perform it at his next concerto. He loved to make sure he always added something new and different to the mix. He loved it even more when his father had no idea what Tony was going to do. He might not enjoy the yelling. He knew Howard knew they were great pieces, but Howard absolutely hated not knowing what Tony was going to do at all times. He liked surprises and new discoveries and Howard just wanted to make sure Tony continued to maintain the integrity of the Stark name.

 

He listened closely as he heard the muted sounds of the final band getting their performance started and he hummed to himself as he stared at the keys. What did he want to play this time? He’d gotten Steve’s attention the first time because he had been playing Sinatra and decided to stick with the 40s theme of musical artists. He had a secret fondness for all of them and he didn’t necessarily hide it, but it was something he didn’t have to share with the world. Call him crazy, but it felt like the last sense of privacy he could have and perhaps that was why he had been angry with Steve initially for watching him. People had quirks and Tony wanted this to be just his. Now he found himself wanting it to maybe be theirs. If Steve came back. Would Steve think to come back there?

 

The one thing he knew was that he wanted to keep the tone light. Uplifting. Nothing serious. Well not yet. He’d only just met the guy one and a half times, and the half was when they interacted for precisely five seconds before Tony had to run off. And he could not help thinking about how ridiculous it was that he’d decided so quickly this was something he wanted. If there was one thing he was sure of it was that love at first sight was not real and should be more aptly called lust at first sight. People cannot just love someone by looking at them when there hasn’t been any time to learn to trust or get a larger feel for their personality. And wow, Tony should not be thinking like that. Love was a bad bad word. Falling for someone was a thing that happened in horribly cliched romantic comedies and dramas, but the odds of it happening to anyone in real life are highly unrealistic.

 

So why was he having this internal panic attack? It wasn’t love. It had to have been a lust thing. It really did. Lust does things to a person’s mind and it was affecting Tony majorly. So it was absolutely not love. Not even something that could become love. It was lust plain and simple.

 

With a sigh he looked down at the piano and smiled as the song he decided to go with came to him suddenly. He started off playing as slow as possible, taking his time on the first few notes. When he felt a presence nearby was when he started playing it in normal time and was certain his face was going to crack with the force of the smile he was trying to hold back. The one thing he knew for certain was to never play all your cards at once. Keep them close to your chest and reveal them gradually over time to maintain a sense of mystery. Part of it was also knowing that the one person you placed all your trust in, loved with all your heart, was completely capable of destroying you with the knowledge they gain from knowing you should that relationship ever go sour. So Tony told himself to hold on tightly to those cards for as long as possible.

 

He was getting ahead of himself though. He had to form some sense of a relationship with Steve before he reached that point. Meaning that he needed to become his friend first. He turned his head slowly toward the door with a smile as he began singing.

 

***

The next time Steve finds Tony, he's playing again after the Howling Commandos had finish their selections for the Mash Up. Steve’d placed his school bag in that back room before his group began playing and he can’t really say he hadn’t done it in the hopes of running into Tony again. It seemed his plan had worked nicely. He leaned against the door frame and smiled as Tony’s fingers ever so slowly moved over the piano keys just as beautifully as they had last time.

 

Tony’s head was turned toward Steve and he was giving the blond his own smile as if he’d been waiting for him to show up. Steve lifted his hand and gave Tony a small wave and Tony nodded his head as a hello. He smirked before turning back to the piano and carried on playing a tune that would be recognizable to anyone who heard it. Steve, on his part, felt his smile growing and he had no idea that was actually possible at this point.

 

I see trees of green,

red roses too.

I see them bloom,

for me and you.

And I think to myself,

what a wonderful world.

 

The blond bit his lip and pushed himself from the doorframe. Tony had turned to look at him again and Steve felt himself being pulled in by the look on Tony’s face alone. He closed the door and slowly made his way inside.

 

I see skies of blue,

And clouds of white.

The bright blessed day,

The dark sacred night.

And I think to myself,

What a wonderful world.

 

He stopped when he did reach the piano and rested an arm on top while he watched the brunet play. He knew he was probably blushing at the moment which probably looked rather strange for someone dressed the way he was, but oh well.

 

The colors of the rainbow,

So pretty in the sky.

Are also on the faces,

Of people going by,

I see friends shaking hands.

Saying, "How do you do?"

They're really saying,

"I love you".

 

Steve inhaled sharply and his heart did a weird fluttery thing that hadn’t happened to him in...well not since Peggy. So he was a sucker for a guy who could play the piano and sing. There was absolutely no way at all he was starting to fall for this guy. Nope. They’d only met once previously so he knew that he was moved by Tony’s skill more than the fact that the guy had amazing eyes and a gorgeous smile. Huh.

 

I hear babies cry,

I watch them grow,

They'll learn much more,

Than I'll ever know.

And I think to myself,

What a wonderful world.

 

Tony had been watching Steve this entire time too and he was sure that was impacting his feelings as well.

 

Yes, I think to myself,

What a wonderful world.

 

Oh yeah.

 

Tony finished the tail end of the instrumental part and was smirking again. Steve stared at him for several seconds before finally giving a small round of applause for the performance. Tony took a tiny bow while seated and scooted over to make room for the both of them to be seated on the bench.

 

“I’d tell you that was wonderful but you already know it was.”

 

Tony just grinned and nudged him with his shoulder. “Modesty isn’t one of my virtues.”

 

Steve’s face was blank. “Could have fooled me.”

 

Tony laughed. “So do you think this will become a regular thing? I play, you watch?”

 

The blond gave a shrug. “It’s possible, but don’t hold your breath. I’d hate for you to have a brush with disappointment. Besides, maybe I’d want to play one day too.”

 

Tony feigned horror. “And steal my thunder? What’s wrong with you?”

 

“I’ve got a selfish streak a mile long and I like the idea of giving you a run for your money.”

 

Tony’s eyebrows shot up. “Is that a fact? I wasn’t aware you were a skilled pianist.”

 

Steve rolled his eyes. “I’m not but I like to think that I can match your skill with the guitar at least.”

 

Tony gave a short nod. “Fair enough.” He sat up a bit straighter to stretch his back. “So tell me, Steve, what do you do besides the whole punk thing? Not that this isn’t a good look on you, but I’ve sort of got the wholesome American boy next door image in my head from the first time we met and I have to say that you rocked that look pretty well.”

 

“I’m an art student.”

 

Tony waited quietly for all of five seconds. “Oh. Well that tells me everything I need to know about you, Art Student Steve. Would you care to fill me in just a little more?”

 

“In case you haven’t noticed, Tony, I don’t know much of anything about you other than the fact that you’re part of the Avengers and probably one of the most amazing piano players I’ve ever seen.”

 

The brunet shrugged. “That’s pretty much all there is to know about me. When I’m not doing this I’m playing the piano at home and writing my own sheet music. I graduated from Juilliard with a Master of Music degree. In case it isn’t clear, the piano is more or less what my life revolves around.”

 

“I’m an art student. I work to help pay for school and joined a band to pass the time. I suppose I needed a separate hobby, but art is my real passion. It’s usually what relaxes me the most.”

 

“You any good?”

 

Steve arched an eyebrow. “I’m decent enough. I’ve got a partial scholarship and was able to get a grant as well.”

 

Tony held his palm up like he was waiting to be handed something. “Show me.”

 

Steve sputtered and then snorted. “Yeah right. You wouldn’t be impressed.”

 

He received a doubtful scowl in return. “Try me.”

 

The blond hesitated. He was generally fairly private when it came to his drawings because while he knew he was good at what he did he would always feel slightly nervous whenever showing it to people for the first time. He had seen Tony do amazing things with the piano though, and that in all likelihood could have been considered just as private, so he thought it’d be fair. With a curt nod, he stood to retrieve his school bag and pull his sketchbook out. He held onto it pretty tightly for a moment before he finally managed to gather some courage and hand it over.

 

“Most of them are still unfinished. So there are a lot of lines in there that don’t belong, so they probably look pretty odd right now, but they’ll look better when I’m finished.”

 

Tony was flipping through the pages and stopping on the ones that were finished. He smiled wide and held up the sketchbook and Steve had to avoid facepalming. He’d gone home after double date night with Bucky and sketched Tony as he’d seen him playing the piano from memory and now he felt like a dumbass for even forgetting the drawing was in there. He was definitely blushing now and waited for the smart ass remark he was sure would come next.

 

“This...Steve, this is amazing. Stop blushing. Wait. Forget I said that. The stop blushing part. It’s still amazing. You drew this from memory.”

 

Steve was standing awkwardly, a nervous smile on his face. “I uh…yeah.”

 

Tony stared at it for the longest time. He was still smiling but it looked more like a smile of wonder rather than a smile that said he was about to pick on Steve for staring at him far too long to remember that much detail. Tony was quiet when he spoke.

 

“No one has ever drawn me before. Photographs I’ve got plenty of, but drawings...they let you know how someone else sees you.”

 

“That’s--you just looked completely...at home while playing. It stuck with me because you don’t really see that much passion from people even when they are doing something they love.”

 

“Oh.” A pause. “Can I have it?”

 

Steve looked startled by the request.

 

“I mean unless you’re doing something else with it or…”

 

“No. I mean yeah. No problem. It’s fine. I mean it’s you so you’re entitled to it I suppose.”

 

Tony was grinning. He looked excited for the first time since Steve had met him and he was proud to know he’d managed to put that look on Tony’s face in the first place. He held out his hand for the sketchbook and waited for Tony to hand it to him.

 

“Do you want me to pay you for it? I can do that.”

 

“What? Pffft no. Of course not.” He carefully tore the sheet from his book and held it out for Tony to take. Tony shook his head and lifted his hands.

 

“I can’t take it without the artist signing it first.”

 

Steve rolled his eyes but it was obvious he was more flattered than anything. He quickly added that one last detail. Tony took it and held onto it carefully as if it was the most precious thing he’d ever held in his hands.

 

“Thanks, Steve. Really. It’s...wow.”

 

Steve was blushing. Again. Good grief. “You’re welcome.” He ducked his head and then placed his sketchbook back in the safety of his school bag. He heard Tony stand up to collect his own things before leaving and looked up just as the brunet was walking towards him, holding out a slip of paper.

 

“Here’s my number. You should call me sometime.”

 

Steve smiled, taking the note from Tony and putting it in his pocket. “Yeah. Sure.” He felt lame saying that but anything that might have been remotely cool in the form of a response left his brain ages ago. “Thanks.”

 

“Don’t mention it.”

 

Tony appeared to be watching Steve’s face and the blond couldn’t help but blush a little. Yet again. He probably needed to get that checked out. He slung the bag over his shoulder and smiled.

 

“So I guess I’ll see you later then, Tony.”

 

“Yeah. Sure.”

 

Steve nodded once but couldn’t bring himself to move, and Tony seemed to be having mixed emotions on the idea as well. And wow. When had they gotten so close to each other?

 

Tony opened his mouth to speak at the same time Steve’s cell phone beeped and a throat cleared loudly behind them. They turned at the same time to see Natasha grinning at them. Just a little. Actually it might have been a smirk. Steve would ask Tony about that later.

 

“Steve, Bucky is looking for you. Tony, we’re heading out and Happy is waiting outside in the car.”

 

“Oh yeah. I have to go...do this thing. I’ll probably be a little busy for the next few days actually because I have a concert thing.” Tony waved his hand dismissively as if what he was doing was not to be considered important. “So I might not be able to get in touch with you until after, but still. Call me!”

 

Steve grinned slowly and rolled his eyes. “Sure thing, Mr. Hot Stuff.”

 

Tony winked and made an aborted move to possibly hug, maybe even kiss Steve, instead opting for a pat on the shoulder. “Keep up the good work, Da Vinci.”

 

The blond just huffed because he didn’t know what to say to that. “I wish.” He watched Tony leave with Natasha when his phone began to ring. “I’m on my way, Bucky. Calm down.” He didn’t give his friend a chance to reply before he hung up and headed toward the front with the rest of his group.

 

***

Tony heard from Steve three days later.

 

Hi. :)

 

It was quickly followed by a second one.

 

This is Steve.

 

Tony may or may not have added an extra bounce to his step and he most definitely did not walk into a wall because he was too preoccupied with looking down at his cell phone. Anyone that says otherwise is a damn dirty liar.

 

Once he recovered from not walking into a wall, he shot back a reply.

 

steve! im bout 2 start that thing i have 2 do. ill txt u l8r.

 

What language are you even speaking?

 

Tony just grinned and sent a smiley face in reply before putting his phone away and entering the backstage area of the performance hall. He had three hours before the performance started. Pepper had already arrived with his suit. He’d insisted on and had been pestering her for weeks to let him add color to his wardrobe and she finally agreed to get him something that would work for him and hopefully Howard as well. The jacket, tie and pants were a dark navy blue, closer to being black. His favorite part was the deep maroon button down shirt he got to wear underneath it. His father, despite his history for never being satisfied, approved of this change. Small miracles.

 

The first thing he did was locate a small practice room with a piano in it so he could rehearse his pieces in private. He wasn’t worried at all about screwing them up because he’d played them for several hours on a daily basis and dreamed of the sheet music that night. It was a problem he had. His brain never turned off. He was always composing a new piece, making adjustments to ones he’d written previously, added a bit of flare to others. He was nothing if not persistent on improving the quality of his compositions and making sure there was always something new and enjoyable to entertain his audience.

 

The first piece he was using was not his, but one he’d heard in a preview at one of the few movies he’d been able to attend recently. It was going to be his show opener before he added in one of his original compositions. This was one he’d be performing for the first time in front of an audience and he felt the opener was enough of an attention grabber. Some people knew it, others didn’t. He had a fondness for it, which was the main reason he’d decided on it.

 

Sheet music in front of him, he shut his eyes and started playing. He’d memorized the music long ago and chose to play with his eyes closed or while focused on a point beyond the piano. The times he had always messed up had been the times he’d focused too hard on the sheet music or whenever he decided to look down at the keys while he played. He was a total ham anyway and he knew it. He lived for reactions, for the sense of awe people felt when they watched him play. Tony Stark knew he was good at what he did. The piano was his life. He lived it, he breathed it, it was home, it was him. He’d begun to wonder if he was good at anything else. He was smart. Hell he was an acknowledged genius. His IQ was ridiculous but he had a hard time putting stock into a number that determined if you were actually smart. No one considered art a basis for testing intelligence so people who excelled in the arts but failed in the maths and sciences were more often considered colorful or entertaining rather than highly intelligent. He knew he was smarter than almost everyone he knew, but he also knew he wasn’t at the same time.

 

He wondered about Steve then. He knew Steve could play considering he was part of a band. He knew Steve could draw because he’d seen his art. He knew Steve worked hard to help pay for school and he budgeted his time, created his own personal schedule like a normal person should. Tony had never had to do that. He was fairly certain he wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what to do if a time ever arose where he didn’t have someone like Pepper to micromanage his entire life. So while Tony was a well-known piano prodigy and also a genius, he couldn’t help but feel like he came up short when he compared himself to others. Steve was brilliant, funny, he took care of himself. So did all his bandmates. They made it through life just fine without having to wonder where they were scheduled to go next and how far away it would be this time. Today he was in Germany. Tomorrow he’d be stateside again. He’d only arrived yesterday. None of this would have happened if he’d been left to his own devices. He simply wasn’t capable of budgeting his time on his own. He was frivolous. He was impulsive. He made other people wait for him and he didn’t care what he spent his money on. If there was something he wanted he reached out and got it.

 

What was it like to be on the opposite end of the spectrum? He knew people who struggled to make ends meet and he wondered if that somehow made them stronger or made him weaker in comparison to all of his peers. They had free time, social lives and went to parties, clubs, restaurants, took walks in the park and went to theme parks. Tony had never had much time for that. He couldn’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t living according to a schedule someone else had set for him.

 

Tony Stark loved his life. He had everything he could ever want or ask for. Except sometimes he didn’t. Sometimes Tony really hated his life because he never got to sit still, rarely got to know people. His hectic life was the reason he knew he shouldn’t become attached to someone like Steve. It was hard enough missing out on a lot with his bandmates. He never even got to see Rhodey anymore. They exchanged text messages, emails, spoke on the phone from time to time, but he hadn’t seen his best friend in over a year.

 

An hour later Pepper found him and told him it was time to get ready. Tony grabbed the few items he’d brought into the practice room with him and followed her out. He looked in the mirror with a wicked smile as he turned to look at himself from all angles after he put on his performance suit. He looked good. He always did. Pepper did magical things to his hair. She made it look like he spent no time at all getting ready when it actually took the better part of an hour to get it to look like that. She added a touch of makeup just to keep him from looking washed out by the stage lights.

 

Before he knew it, it was showtime. He gave Pepper a small smile and she gave him a hug in return. “Knock ‘em dead, Stark.”

 

Tony rolled his eyes playfully and made his way to the onstage piano just as he was being announced. People were clapping. He pasted the patented Stark Charm smile on his face before taking a bow with a flourish and sitting on the bench. He started with his opener and knew right away it would be yet another successful performance.

 

By the end, his mood had improved a great deal and he remembered why he dedicated so much time to what he did. Yeah he hated that he was 17 and lacked any sort of social life whatsoever, but he put his talents to good use and people loved him. When he made his way back into the wings, Pepper gave him a hug like she always did after another completed concerto. He had to go to his post-show mingling thing and talk to some higher ups because this was all part of getting from point A to point B in terms of deciding where he’d take his next performance and when. He was itching to get to his cell phone though and he could not manage to escape because everyone wanted to congratulate him on another spectacular composition. He’d started to give up hope when he finally spotted an opening and made a mad dash (as fast as one could escape without making it obvious he was, in fact, trying to escape) to get outside. He pulled his phone from his pocket.

 

ill b back 2moro hope 2 c u soon :)

 

Ok. :)

 

Tony was grinning from ear to ear and didn’t stop until he heard Pepper clear her throat. She and Happy were waiting for him to get into the car so they could get back to the hotel. She had informed the attendees of his exit citing that he had to get an early start in the morning. Not a lie considering he had a plane to catch, but maybe not as early as he wanted them to believe.

 

“You look cheerful. What’s going on?”

 

Tony gave her a confused look. “What do you mean? I’m always the picture of happiness.”

 

Pepper just laughed. “If you say so.”

 

Happy held the door open for Tony to climb in and then gave Pepper a kiss on the cheek before she climbed in the back with Tony.

 

“Who are you talking to?”

 

“What?”

 

“You were texting someone. You looked happy. I was wondering who it was.”

 

He shrugged. “Just someone I met.”

 

“Is this the person who is responsible for making the great Tony Stark walk directly into a wall?”

 

Tony’s eyes shot up.

 

Pepper just smirked.

 

***

draw me like 1 of ur french girls is the first text message Tony sends to Steve a week later.

 

Haha. Like I haven’t heard that one before. -SR

 

u know u’ve already thought about it. -TS

 

All day and all night. You know me so well. -SR

 

i knew it! i totally think about it 2. -TS

 

Uh… -SR

 

r u blushing right now? i bet ur blushing. ;) -TS

 

Steve shook his head, smiling and probably blushing just a little. No, Tony. :P

 

well thats 2 bad i wanna know if that blush goes all the way down -TS

 

Oh my god, Tony. I’m sitting in church right now! -SR

 

hah liar ur going 2 hell 4 that -TS

 

Maybe. Natasha and Bucky are giving me strange looks though. -SR

 

has natasha deserted us 4 ur BFF -TS

 

Probably. -SR

 

maybe we could switch the 2 of u out & u could play drums -TS

 

NO THANKS! -SR

 

bummer -TS

 

Okay. I really have to go. I’ll talk to you soon. -SR

 

Later, gorgeous. ;) -TS

 

Omg. Bye. -SR

 

Steve pocketed his phone and he knew he had a stupid grin on his face but he couldn’t help it. He had no idea what was going on between him and Tony but whatever it was happened to be making him pretty happy. When he looked up he had two sets of very curious eyes on him.

 

“So, Steve. Who’re you talking to, buddy?”

 

Steve shot a glare at Bucky but it was only half-hearted. “A friend.”

 

“A friend or an ‘I want more than just your friendship’ friend?”

 

Steve didn’t bother to dignify that with an answer because he could lie and blow his cover right away or tell the truth and feel silly since he barely knew Tony anyway. Instead he just put his earbuds on and pressed play on his iPod. The music itself was relaxing, but piano pieces were always relaxing even when they weren’t. That probably only made sense to Steve. It was good for his focus, which is exactly what he needed if he was going to finish the portrait for his final art presentation.

 

He lifted his eyes just once to see his best friend and Natasha deep in conversation. Good. Maybe they’d found something else to talk about. He had a lot to think about, and all of his thoughts seemed to swirl around one particular person. He knew very little about Tony. They’d only met on two different occasions, and they were both rather limited in the information they had shared with each other. Tony had made it seem like music was all there was to know about him. He didn’t really mention his family or give any hints as to what his life outside of The Avengers was even like. To be fair, Steve hadn’t told Tony much more, but Tony seemed like he didn’t want to talk about himself much. Considering Tony’s lack of modesty that he only assumed came attached to a large ego, he would have expected a little more.

 

Steve nearly jumped when a hand landed on top of his sketchbook and he ripped his earbuds out to glare at his best friend, this time with a bit more malice. “What was that for?”

 

“I’ve been saying your name for like two whole minutes. At first it was just about getting your attention and then it turned into seeing how long it would take if I just kept saying your name. I got impatient though so here we are now.”

 

“Okay?”

 

“Natasha’s ordering a pizza. You want your usual?”

 

Steve gave his friend a small nod. “Throw in some breadsticks too.”

 

While Natasha was on the phone Bucky leaned over the table they were sitting at to get a look at what Steve had been busily working on. “I thought you were supposed to be doing a self-portrait.”

 

“What? I am.” He looked down and realized he had somehow changed his face into Tony’s without even realizing it. “Oh.”

 

“The plot thickens. Is this your friend?”

 

Steve pressed his lips together tightly and just gave Bucky what he hoped would pass for a blank look.

 

“Oh wait. Isn’t that the keyboard guy in Natasha’s band? What’s his name? Iron Man?”

 

Steve chewed on the corner of his lip for a moment before sighing. “His name is Tony.”

 

“Tony. Not exactly the person I pictured you falling for, but more power to you, my friend.”

 

“Bucky, that’s not--”

 

Bucky held his hands up in surrender and shook his head. “I’m just saying. If that’s who was making you smile earlier then I say go for it, but you can’t tell me it’s nothing because you get this look on your face when you like someone and you were wearing that look when you were on your phone.”

 

“It’s not--I don’t really know him all that well. It’s not that. I barely know him.”

 

Bucky shrugged. “So? Isn’t that part of getting started? You have plenty of time to get to know him, so don’t let that hold you back.”

 

For his part, Steve wanted to be annoyed with Bucky but he understood the logic even if he didn’t plan on admitting it out loud.

 

“Pizza will be here in 20.” Natasha took a seat next to Bucky again and gave Steve an appraising look. “Just so you know, Tony can’t stop talking about you.”

 

Steve couldn’t help but grin and looked back down at his drawing. “I just--”

 

“You just nothing, Steve. Look.” Bucky rested his arms on the table, leaning forward a little more and Steve knew he meant business now. “Do you realize how many double dates I have taken you on? Because it has been a lot. No matter who I introduced you to, you were never able to show any sign of interest. Okay so at first I thought you were still just bummed about Peggy, which is completely understandable, but then it wasn’t about that anymore. You just managed to make yourself feel awkward because you think you can’t talk to girls without sounding dumb. And that’s--well that’s kind of true, but you’re sort of a love at first sight guy and if you aren’t interested from the beginning then it won’t be happening later. Steve, I haven’t seen you smile like this over another person since before Peggy. You weren’t this mushy about her and you were head over heels in love with her. So I’m telling you this right now, as a friend. Stop holding yourself back and make sure you hold on to a good thing before you manage to lose it completely. You actually do deserve that.”

 

Steve opened his mouth to argue with Bucky because he had his own reasons for being hesitant, but then he realized he didn’t have a particularly well thought out rebuttal and yeah, maybe he was too busy being scared to let something like that happen. So he shut his mouth, sat back in his chair and then finally looked away from his friend a few moments later.

 

Natasha shrugged. “He’s actually kind of a narcissist but overall harmless. He’s a certified genius though so maybe it’s hard for him to be modest when he knows he’s better at something than most people will ever be. He’s also still young and on top of the world right now.”

 

Bucky glanced at the red head. “Should I be worried here or…”

 

Natasha just swatted at him. “No, I’m just saying that he’s a good guy, but he can be a little much sometimes.”

 

“So are you trying to tell me to go for it or to stop?” Steve arched an eyebrow.

 

“I’m not really telling you to do either, but I’ve known him longer than you and I’m telling you what there is to know about him. There are some things he’ll have to tell you on his own, but if you want my advice, I think he’s worth it.”

 

The blond thought about it and then gave Bucky and Natasha a small smile. “We’ll see.”

 

“Remember I get to be best man at your wedding.”

 

Steve laughed and threw his eraser at Bucky’s head. “After this conversation I’m seriously reconsidering my options.”

 

Bucky slapped his hand to his chest, right over his heart. “That hurt, bro. I thought we had something special.”

 

Steve just rolled his eyes.

 

Natasha, the ninja of all things sneaky, had at some point, grabbed hold of Steve’s iPod and was flipping through his music. “So you listen to this guy a lot?”

 

“Who?”

 

Natasha returned his iPod to him and nodded her head forward to let him know his answer was on the screen.

 

“Oh! I’ve only recently started listening. He’s really good.”

 

Natasha gave him a small, knowing grin. “I’ll say.”

 

Bucky snatched the iPod this time, determined not to be left out of this conversation. “Anthony Stark? Sounds vaguely familiar. Is that what you’ve been listening to?”

 

“Yeah. My music appreciation professor recommended it. Piano prodigy is what he said. I haven’t really done any further research on him.”

 

The red head lifted one eyebrow slightly. “I think you should. He’s one of the best.”

 

Steve couldn’t figure out what that expression on her face meant, but it suggested she knew something and was amused by the fact that he was basically clueless. “Okay.”

 

He took the iPod from Bucky and put his ear buds back in. “Let me know when the pizza shows up.” Before Bucky had a chance to ask him anything else, and the look on his face indicated he wanted to, Steve turned his music back on, opened to a fresh page in his sketchbook and got to work on his self-portrait while he still had a few minutes left to himself.

 

***

Meet me at the place. You know the place.

 

When?

 

Right now. :)

 

Oh. Okay then. You’re lucky I don’t have anything else to do today.

 

;)

 

Steve showed up thirty minutes later. He passed the crowd, the band, tuned out everything as he focused on getting to the back room. He had no idea what Tony was up to, but he figured there would be another song. He’d only stopped to pick up his guitar because he was going to show Tony he wasn’t the only one who could play music. He knew he didn’t have the talent that Tony had, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t be proud of what he was capable of doing.

 

The door was open and Tony was waiting patiently at the piano, but he was standing against the side of it rather than sitting down. He had his arms crossed and an excited smile on his face. Steve returned the smile and set his guitar against the wall.

 

“I see you’ve come prepared then.”

 

“I’m here to steal your thunder.”

 

Tony lifted his eyebrows with a sly grin on his face. “Wow me then.”

 

Steve shook his head. “Nuh uh. You first.”

 

“Well take a seat.” He nods to the chair he placed next to the piano. “Prepare to have your mind blown away by this spectacular song choice.”

 

Steve dropped into the seat and slouched. “I’m ready. Bring it on.”

 

The brunet shot Steve with a smirk before clearing his throat and stretching his fingers, feeling a few of them crack. The tune he started playing was once again familiar within the first three notes. Tony was blushing a little and it made Steve feel a bit better about the fact he was too.

 

At last

My love has come along

My lonely days are over

And life is like a song

 

Oh yeah yeah

At last

 

The skies above are blue

My heart was wrapped up in clover

The night I looked at you

 

I found a dream, that I could speak to

A dream that I can call my own

I found a thrill to press my cheek to

A thrill that I have never known

 

Oh yeah yeah

You smiled, you smiled

Oh and then the spell was cast

And here we are in heaven

for you are mine...

 

At Last

 

Tony finished his song and glanced at Steve. His face was heated and he realized this was probably the sappiest, most romantic thing he’d ever done in his life, but the look on Steve’s face was definitely worth all of it.

 

The blond clapped, biting his bottom lip and still smiling. “Well that was,” he coughed and looked down shyly. “Once again that was amazing. Which you already know.”

 

“Thanks,” Tony responded softly causing Steve to look back up at him. “I wasn’t sure how this would go, but I thought I’d take my chances.” He breathed a sigh of relief. “So I’m glad. That you liked it.”

 

“I have yet to find something about you that I don’t like,” Steve responded honestly. Tony was surprised by the utterly earnest look on Steve’s face when he said that.

 

Tony chuckled quietly. “You’ll find something eventually.”

 

Steve studied Tony’s face for a moment as he thought this over. “I don’t think I will, but even if I do it’s because no one is flawless. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’d stop liking you.”

 

“What if my flaws are really bad? Because I’m arrogant and people always tell me I am. I’m kind of an asshole about it. I’m rich so that means I’m spoiled.”

 

Steve just rolled his eyes. “I don’t expect you to lay your flaws out on the table for me. You should let me be the judge of all of that. Should I be worried that my flaws are going to scare you away?”

 

Tony snorted. “No. You’re also kind of perfect so I can’t imagine you having any flaws.”

 

“I have them. Lots of them, but I’ll let you work those out on your own.”

 

Tony nodded. “Fair enough.” Steve hadn’t even blinked when Tony made a comment about being a rich, spoiled brat and didn’t comment any further on it. Tony generally mentioned his wealth when he felt like people might be getting too close to gauge their reactions to the news. It helped to determine if people liked him for who he was or if it was because of his money. Rhodey passed the test right away and Steve did too.

 

“We’ll cross those bridges when we get to them. Sometimes your flaws make you better. They make you unique and maybe you should call them quirks instead of flaws. Flaws implies that you think you should correct yourself whereas quirks imply that it’s who you are and they make you stand out from the rest.”

 

“I guess I can see your point.” He cleared his throat and eyed the guitar still resting against the walls. “So you were going to dazzle me today, right?”

 

“Dazzle might not be the right word.”

 

“Well show me what you’ve got...what’s your last name?” This was dangerous territory.

 

“Rogers.”

 

He smiled easily. “Show me what you’ve got, Rogers.”

 

Steve was already blushing when he stood up to grab his guitar. Tony was pleased to take note of this and filed all of Steve’s blushes away as one of the most adorable things Steve does.

 

The blond took a seat and lifted his guitar from its case. He strummed for a moment to make sure nothing was out of tune. With an air of finality and possibly a little bit of nervousness, Steve cleared his throat and dove right in to the song.

 

Heaven, I'm in Heaven,

And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak;

And I seem to find the happiness I seek

When we're out together dancing, cheek to cheek.

 

Heaven, I'm in Heaven,

And the cares that hang around me thro' the week

Seem to vanish like a gambler's lucky streak

When we're out together dancing, cheek to cheek.

 

Oh! I love to climb a mountain,

And to reach the highest peak,

But it doesn't thrill me half as much

As dancing cheek to cheek.

 

Oh! I love to go out fishing

In a river or a creek,

But I don't enjoy it half as much

As dancing cheek to cheek.

 

Dance with me

I want my arm about you;

The charm about you

Will carry me thro' to Heaven

 

I'm in Heaven,

And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak;

And I seem to find the happiness I seek

When we're out together dancing cheek to cheek

 

Steve had a great voice. He obviously wasn’t made to be the lead singer of a punk rock band, but he definitely had the voice for this. And Tony had to admit, his guitar playing skills were pretty damn good too. He had no idea how he’d managed to luck out finding Steve the way he had, seeing Steve come back again and then again just to interact with Tony. Tony decided right then and there that Steve was the best thing to ever happen to him, and even shut up that anxious voice in his head that kept telling him it was too soon to feel this way, it should take longer to fall for someone.

 

Steve wasn’t bothered by how fast it was happening. He didn’t care that Tony lacked modesty and that he might be a little arrogant because honestly, Tony deserved to be. He didn’t need to hear Tony confirm that he was a genius. That much was obvious already and Tony could have been unbearable in his arrogance, but he wasn’t. He was cautious and only showed the arrogance in short bursts.

 

“I bow to your awesomeness. That was definitely worth my time.” He bowed from where he was sitting and grinned.

 

“So then you’re cool with me stealing your thunder for just awhile?”

 

“Absolutely.” He had to look away for a moment while thinking to himself. “So, Steve...are we uh...is this something? Are we going to try to be...well an us I guess?”

 

“Is that something you want?”

 

Tony shrugged, hopefully looking as nonchalant about it as possible. “Only if you want it too.”

 

“Yeah. I think I do.”

 

“You think you do?”

 

Steve rolled his eyes. “Fine. I know I want to. That better?”

 

“Yes. It is.” He stood quickly from the bench and settled himself down on Steve, straddling him and pressing a remarkably chaste kiss to his mouth considering the way he was sitting on the blond.

 

Steve let out a breath and gently held Tony’s face between his hands as he returned the kiss. This was happening and Tony wanted it too. He tightened his grip and pulled the brunet’s face closer to him as the kiss intensified. The brush of Tony's knuckles against his stomach was all the warning he got before he felt Tony's dexterous fingers wrap around his dick. Steve jumped as Tony gave his dick one long slow pump, and slowly let out a shaky breath.

 

"OH...oh...Tony."

 

The brunet smiled against Steve’s lips, laughing softly as his hand worked out a slow rhythm on Steve’s cock. After many nights of fantasizing about holding Steve’s apparently impressive member in his hands, he was going to make sure he got this right. Steve’s soft moans and heavy breathing were not exactly helping Tony out here and he began stroking faster, pulling away from the kiss to bury his face in Steve’s neck, licking a stripe from his shoulder to his ear.

 

Steve forced his eyes to open, and looked down at Tony’s hand working his cock over. Watched as Tony twisted his wrist and milked out another drop of precum. By this time Steve’s cock is red and thoroughly wet from having Tony spread his precum. His breath is came in quick pants now, only shutting his mouth to cut off any sounds that would’ve slipped out too loud. When Tony moved his other hand down to play with Steve’s balls, Steve had to close his eyes. The scene was too much, and pushed him closer to finishing.

 

Tony felt Steve as he trembled beneath him, felt his dick twitch in his hands and knew Steve was close. He continued to give Steve’s neck open mouthed kisses and small nips as his dexterous hands worked over Steve’s cock and balls.  Another twist of Tony’s fingers around the head of Steve’s cock and Steve was coming. His head thrown back, face in pure bliss and his lips shaping out a perfect O. Tony stroked him through it, milking his cock for all its worth.

 

Tony sat up and looked at Steve who was still panting, his eyes wide.

 

“Tony. God.” Steve was trying to form a coherent though. “That was…”

 

Unable to keep up with his train of thought had Tony smirking at the blond.

 

Steve notice it right away and felt the blush on his face, hoping it just blended in with how flushed his face already was. “I just...sorry. That was...I’ve never.” Tony’s smirk was not helping him feel any less embarrassed. “I’ve never done that with another man. I’ve never done that before with anyone.”

 

“That good huh? I’ve never done that to another man before.” He was now feeling a bit shy himself and wondered if he’d be leaving with a raging boner, but that thought is quickly forgotten when Tony feels Steve working open the fly of his pant. The pressure of calloused fingers wrapping around Tony’s dick and his hips buck upwards, a loud groan escaping his lips.

 

This time it’s Steve who’s smirking as Tony finds himself becoming an incoherent mess. Steve’s fingers tightening slightly as his fist slides up to the head and loosens as they sink back down. Tony could barely hold himself up any longer and let his head fall onto Steve’s neck, panting and groaning into it. He knew he wasn’t going to last much longer, especially when his own hip started to thrust back and forth, adding to the mounting pleasure Steve’s thick fingers were giving him. He’s boneless now, and shivering in pleasure, and there’s no way he’ll last. And god it's so good.

 

***

 

It took awhile for both of them to finally come down from their high, passing the time with lazy kisses. Tony’s hands were roaming all over Steve’s chest. This was obviously heaven or Tony was being rewarded for something. It’s not like people like Steve were standing on every corner waiting for someone to snatch them up. Tony wasn’t surprised to learn that Steve’s feelings were mutual because they’d been doing their bizarre little dance for awhile now, but he was surprised someone like Steve could want someone like him.

 

It occurred to Tony that Steve didn’t know anything about him other than the fact that he loves to perform. And he didn’t even realize Tony was…

 

He tried to push that thought from his head for the moment. Hopefully he could reveal himself to Steve slowly. It wasn’t a huge deal. It was to Tony but in the grand scheme of things it probably did not matter.

 

So when Steve slid his hand up Tony’s shirt, he didn’t stop the blond despite knowing what he’d find there when he did it. He shut his eyes and noticed the way Steve paused when his fingers moved over the scar on his chest, but Steve’s lack of a response had him cracking an eye open. It was as if Steve didn’t notice and Tony frowned.

 

“You’re not going to ask?”

 

Steve gave a shrug and stopped what he was doing. “Would you have wanted to tell me if i had asked?”

 

Tony shook his head but then switched to a nod. “Yeah. It’s not like it’s a huge secret. Well it kind of is but…” he lifted his shirt to show Steve what was there. “It used to be a lot bigger than this, but plastic surgery is miraculous.”

 

Steve quirked an eyebrow and allowed his fingers to brush over it again, curious about the tattoo on Tony’s chest. It was round and blue, but with an intricate pattern. “And the tattoo?”

 

“It’s a reminder. When I was born I had a heart defect. One that required major surgery. It kept me stuck in the house a lot, and that’s when I started playing the piano.” He rest his hand over Steve’s and pressed it closer to his heart. “I could have died. I should have died. I didn’t though and that grounded me at a much younger age than it probably should have.”

 

Steve opened his mouth to say something but Tony held up a hand to quiet him. “My dad wanted me to forget all about it. That’s why there is barely a scar. He didn’t want me to use it as an excuse to hold myself back from doing what I wanted to do, but it didn’t stop him from using it as an excuse to keep me from doing all the things I really wanted to do. Does that make sense?” He quickly shook his head as he got back to his point. “For me it was always about knowing what I could do if I tried. I’m still here for a reason,” and he gave an embarrassed smile for admitting that, “so I thought I’d enjoy doing the things I wanted to do. My piano career has always been run by my father so to speak, but the band thing he doesn’t know about. The tattoo...well I chose it because it will serve as a reminder. That I survived and that my father doesn’t have complete control over every aspect of my life. The added bonus is the fact that the tattoo drives my father up a wall. I sort of like that part too.”

 

“It’s amazing, Tony. It really is.” He stared in quiet awe. “Everything about you is amazing.”

 

Tony blushed and looked away, but Steve gently grabbed his chin and made him look back up. “You are and I mean that.”

 

“Yeah well don’t get all sappy on me now, Cap. We both have come drying in our pants at the moment. I think that kills the romance.”

 

Steve rolled his eyes. “You have a stunning way with words.”

 

The door opened quickly and a startled Tony nearly fell from Steve’s lap.

 

“What’s the hold up, Tony? We’ve been…” Pepper stopped midsentence to fully grasp what she had just walked in on.

 

“It’s exactly what it looks like.”

 

“We’ve been waiting for you. It’s not long before your flight leaves and you need a change of clothes. Meet us outside in no more than ten minutes.” And with that she turned around, her heels clicking loudly as she exited.

 

Steve’s hand was covering his face and he was laughing silently. “God, Tony. Do you have any actual shame at all?”

 

“Nah. Life’s too short.” He grinned. “It’d be a crime for me to feel ashamed of what we just did. I want to do it again. Soon. Well maybe not soon. I have to leave in a few minutes. I’m going out of the country for a piano performance.”

 

Tony picked himself up from Steve’s lap and then held out a hand for the blond, pulling him up and kissing him hard before leading him toward the bathroom so they could attempt to clean up. Steve was silent as they made their way in and didn’t speak again until they were both washing their hands off.

 

“Do you travel for piano performances? I didn’t know that.”

 

“There’s a lot I haven’t really told you yet.”

 

Steve turned his head to look at the brunet. “Like what?”

 

There was a banging noise on the door. “Tony! You’re going to miss your flight!”

 

Tony sighed. “It’s my plane! It’s not going to take off without me!”

 

“You have a plane?”

 

Tony offered an apologetic look before pulling Steve from the bathroom with him. Pepper was holding a garment bag that she told Tony he was to change into after the plane was in the air. Then she turned once more and this time Tony followed, not letting go of Steve’s hand.

 

Steve followed quietly, trying to ignore the discomfort in his pants now. He wasn’t prepared for the limousine waiting when they made it outside.

 

“Rhodey! Are you here just to see me off? You shouldn’t have, sugar cone!”

 

Rhodey ignored the tacky nickname and held out his arms for a hug

 

“Anthony Stark, you son of a bitch! You don’t call, you don’t write, you…” he stopped. “I’m not hugging you.” He looked at the man behind his best friend and raised his eyebrows. “Hi. James Rhodes. Everyone just calls me Rhodey.” He held his hand out for Steve who shook it firmly with a confused smile.

 

“Steve Rogers.”

 

Tony held out an arm. “Steve, this is also Pepper Potts, my uh...well she is the person who micromanages my life and she’s a miracle worker and next to her is Happy. He’s my bodyguard slash driver. Everyone, this is Steve.”

 

They nodded and smiled once. The blond still had a puzzled look on his face.

 

“Why do you need...you’re…” he scratched his head and really looked at Tony. “Anthony Stark. As in world renowned piano prodigy Anthony Stark?”

 

Tony pressed his lips together and nodded, scratching the back of his head as he looked down. “Uh, yeah. That’d be me. Surprise.”

 

“When were you going to mention that?”

 

“You didn’t tell him?”

 

Tony shot Pepper a look and shook his head before turning his attention to Steve again. “I...well it just didn’t...does it change anything?”

 

“No. Of course not. But I’m just starting to realize how very little I really did know about you.”

 

Tony had the audacity to look slightly ashamed. “Yeah…..”

 

“It isn’t going to change anything. Can you just tell me stuff like that next time?”

 

“Tony, we really need to get going.” Pepper said it matter-of-factly. She didn’t want to pull Tony away from Steve because she knew this was as close to a normal type of life Tony would ever get, but she couldn’t cancel the concerts.

 

The brunet nodded and the others made their way into the limo so Tony could get a little privacy with Steve.

 

“I’ll be back in a week if you still want to see me when I come home.”

 

“Tony, shut up.” He quickly kissed him. “Of course I still want to see you. No more secrets though. Do you understand? But this isn’t something I’d stop seeing you over.”

 

“No more secrets. I like having you around.”

 

“Well I’ll be here waiting.”

 

Tony reached up to meet Steve’s lips again before pulling away slowly with a wicked smirk. “I expect you to blow my mind away again.”

 

Steve chuckled. “That won’t be a problem.”

 

“I’m holding you to that. Be ready, if you know what I mean.”

 

“You’re a dork.”

 

Tony grinned. “You just gave this dork an amazing handjob so what does that make you?”

 

“You better go. I think you have three pairs of eyes watching your every move right now.”

 

He saluted and turned to walk toward the limo, pausing briefly to turn around and blow Steve a kiss.

 

The look on Steve’s face was amused exasperation, but something clicked just as Tony was climbing into the car.

 

“Wait, you’re only seventeen aren’t you?”

 

Tony winked with a laugh and waved once more as he shut the door.

 

Steve waved as the car took off and wondered just what he had gotten himself into as well as what he’d do to pass the time in Tony’s absence.

 

***

Bucky hit Steve in the head with the well-aimed toss of a crumpled up sheet of paper.

 

“Earth to Steve. Hey, Steve.”

 

Steve looked up from the paper he was trying to work on, glaring. “What?”

 

“Thought you could use a break. That look on your face is killing me.”

 

Steve looked at his best friend with a small amount of confusion and then over to Natasha who was seated next to Bucky on the couch, cuddled up to him.

 

“He has a point. You look pretty miserable.”

 

“Well I will have to say that writing essays are never particularly fun.”

 

“It’s more than that. You have been moping the entire time Tony has been gone.”

 

Steve sighed and sat back, leaning against the chair he was sitting in and crossing his arms over his chest. “I’m not moping.”

 

“You kinda are.”

 

Steve wanted to point out that Bucky and Natasha weren’t really helping considering the fact that neither of them had to wait for the other to come back into the country. He had not heard from Tony much at all. Instead he attempted to smile at the both of them.

 

“So then maybe we should do something fun. We could go paintballing or something.”

 

Bucky shook his head. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea. No one really appreciated being sniped with paint pellets that one time.”

 

“That’s because you have a bizarre skill that no one else has and you make it less fun for everyone else.”

 

Bucky laughed. “Yeah well it’s not my fault you suck at finding good places to hide. You’re a big guy.”

 

Natasha cleared her throat. “We could go to a movie.”

 

“Yeah! Which one? We haven’t done that in awhile.”

 

Steve groaned and let his head hit the table. “No. The last time I went to a movie with the two of you I had to act like I didn’t know you at all. Or do you not remember how loudly you guys were making out?”

 

“It wasn’t that bad--”

 

“It was a children’s movie!”

 

“Okay okay yeah. Bad choice. Scratch the movie,” Bucky replied. He glanced at Natasha again. “Any more ideas?”

 

The drummer shook her head. “Pizza and a movie like always?”

 

Bucky smiled like this was the best idea he’d ever heard. “Yeah! That’ll work. You in, Steve?”

 

The blond gave up on schoolwork and shrugged. “Sure. That’ll save me from having to find a way of escape when the two of you become awkwardly sexual again.”

 

Natasha at least attempted to be sympathetic. “Just so you know, we’re really happy that you have found someone. Tony’s never been this happy in the entire amount of time that I’ve known him.”

 

Steve glanced up at her and smiled a little. “Good. I mean that he’s happy.” He sighed and then picked up his phone. “I’m going to order the pizza.”

 

“It’s okay that you miss him. You can whine about it if you want to.”

 

“Thanks, Bucky, but I think I’ll keep it to myself.”

 

“Suit yourself, bro. We’re doing double dates when he gets back though.”

 

“No. No we’re not. We are not doing double dates. I have had my fill of bad experiences going on doubles dates with you, Bucky Barnes.”

 

Bucky grinned proudly. “I do what I can.”

 

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

 

“Just shut up and order the pizza, Rico Suave. Me and Nat will pick out a movie.”

 

Steve nodded and then paused. “I’m glad to see you happy too, Bucky. You and Natasha.”

 

“Thanks. Now I’m going to ruin this touching moment by telling you that you might want to get some earplugs to wear to sleep tonight. If you know what I’m saying.”

 

“Bucky, for God sake!” Natasha hit him on the back of the head and Steve took that as his cue to walk into the other room to make their order. Yeah he was glad that Bucky was happy, but a small part of him wondered if he’d get to have that too, especially with how much Tony travelled.

 

***

“Master Tony, Mister Steve Rogers is here to see you.”

 

Tony, who’d been lounging on the couch in the common room with an old book, jumped up from his spot quickly and set the book down, sharing a wide smile with the family butler. “Thanks, Jarvis!”

 

Jarvis simply nodded before returning to his work and Tony made his way toward a waiting Steve. They had not seen each other in a week. He’d been away for another performance, this time in South America. Three of his five performances had been in Brazil alone. He’d had little sleep throughout his trip and was currently on the brink of sleep deprived collapse, but Steve’s name woke him up faster than any cup of coffee ever could.

 

When he found Steve, the blond was standing in front of a family portrait, hands shoved into his pockets and looking every bit as intimidated as Tony feared he would once he saw the family home for the first time.

 

“Steve! Hey!”

 

Steve visibly relaxed once he saw Tony and he was smiling from ear to ear. “Tony! You’re back! How did it go?”

 

Tony stopped right in front of the blond but didn’t make a move to touch him. He wasn’t sure what to do in instances like this and Steve didn’t seem to know what he was supposed to do either. “It went well. I mean I visited three different countries in six days and I was tired, but I managed to stay awake through every performance so I count it as a victory.”

 

Steve chuckled a little. “Have you fallen asleep at the piano before?”

 

“Not during an actual performance, no. I have just while practicing though. It happens. The hours are long but I can’t complain.”

 

“So do you have a lot of crazy trips like this?”

 

Tony shrugged. “Umm, it depends. Sometimes I am gone for just a few days. Sometimes they are here in the United States. Sometimes I’m stuck in another place for a whole week doing one show after another.”

 

“It sounds ridiculously exhausting.”

 

Tony nodded with a grin. “It is.”

 

Steve leaned in and gave him a quick kiss, smiling shyly. “I can imagine. How do you even have time for your Iron Man gig? It’s not like you guys are short on performances either.”

 

Tony opened his mouth to reply…

 

“Iron Man gig? What’s that?”

 

Tony’s mouth snapped shut and he gave Steve a quick look that he hoped was subtle but still read as SHUT UP RIGHT NOW. Steve lifted his eyebrows but didn’t say another word.

 

“It’s nothing, dad.”

 

Howard turned his attention to Steve. “And who are you?”

 

Tony snorted. “Dad, I told you my friend Steve was coming over.”

 

Howard gave no indication that he heard Tony either time. He just continued to stare at Steve.

 

“Oh my god. Dad, stop it. Are you trying to scare him away?”

 

“Tony, tell me about this Iron Man gig Steve mentioned. What performances?”

 

The brunet looked like a deer caught in the headlights. “It’s uh...it’s nothing, dad. It really isn’t. I just…” Tony’s hands flailed a little as he tried to come up with a believable lie but had nothing. “I...I’m in a band.”

 

Howard’s expression remained stony and unpleasant and then it immediately changed to mortification. “What?”

 

Steve tried to look at Tony without moving his head too much. Tony sighed loudly. “A rock band. I’ve been in a rock band for like a year.” The truth was out. Might as well go all the way with it.

 

“Anthony Stark, this is not how I raised you!”

 

“You haven’t done much to raise me at all,” he said under his breath, but Howard had heard him anyway, clear as day.

 

“Why are you always so god damn ungrateful? I’ve given you everything you have ever wanted in life. The best schools. Piano lessons ever since you were a toddler. I told you that whatever you do, please make sure you keep the integrity of our name intact. Instead I find out you’re part of a rock band that takes away from the time you actually need to practice.”

 

“Dad, all I ever do is practice! The only times I’m not practicing are when I’m with my band. I play the keyboard so I’m still essentially practicing. I can’t figure out why this is such a huge deal.”

 

“Because it’s a commitment that can interfere with your prior and far more important commitments. Do I need to remind you just how much your hands are insured for? Something as frivolous as playing in a band can end up doing serious damage. What would you even do with your life if you could no longer play the piano and do these performances?”

 

“Hopefully not become a bitter, controlling man like you.” That slipped out and Tony hadn’t meant for it to.

 

“Well if you don’t want that to happen then you need to rethink your choices in life and remember what’s important to you. You’re willing to throw all of that away by being in a band?”

 

“But I enjoy it, dad! Doesn’t that matter at all to you? I finally have friends and people to talk to and you’re worried it will interfere with the part of my life where I have no friends at all?”

 

Howard squeezed his eyes shut and pinched the bridge of his nose. “We’re going to discuss this later. And don’t think you’re going to be getting out of this Anthony Edward Stark. This is going to have to stop. How are you going to handle it if the tabloids catch on to the fact that you’re apparently dating a man for Christ’s sake? Do you even think about that? Have you stopped to wonder if these people are using you and taking advantage of you for your money and fame?”

 

“Uh, no, because I have reason enough to trust them!”

 

“This is embarrassing and if you keep it up you’re going to humiliate this entire family. We’re talking about this later.”

 

“I don’t want it to!”

 

“I don’t care! You’ve got too much going on now!”

 

Tony groaned as loud as possible. “Fine. We’ll just talk about it later. Whatever.” And with that, he turned and stormed off, leaving a guilty looking Steve to follow after him. Tony stomped up the stairs the entire way, too mad to talk at all. He was stupid. So stupid. One of the first things he should have told Steve was that his dad must not, under any circumstances whatsoever, know about Tony’s involvement in anything outside of his piano career. He hadn’t made that particularly clear when he had been talking to Steve about his life. He knew it was stupid but he was also partly angry with Steve for it even though Steve had no idea he needed to keep his mouth shut.

 

He opened his bedroom door and waited for Steve to enter before shutting it and taking a seat on his bed.

 

“I can already tell that the talk he’s going to have with me later is going to be a joyous occasion.”

 

“Tony,” Steve was barely whispering. “I am so sorry! I had no idea! I just...do you want me to talk to him? Tell him what’s going on? Tell him all the good things you do? Anything?”

 

Tony just shook his head. “He’d eat you alive, Steve. It’d be pointless.”

 

Steve just frowned and stayed close to the door, looking like he was ready to bolt at any given moment.

 

Tony took a deep breath and let it out slowly, allowing himself to calm down before speaking. “It’s fine, Steve. It’s always something with him anyway.”

 

That didn’t seem to make Steve feel any better and Tony frowned.

 

“I missed you last week, Steve.”

 

The blond gave him a tiny smile. “Yeah. I missed you too.”

 

Tony grinned and walked over to Steve to pull him into a hug. “I should start making you go to these things since you know my actual identity now.”

 

Steve shook his head. “Nonsense. I’d never be able to afford it.”

 

“Steve, come on. Money would never be an issue.”

 

Steve wanted to protest but Tony cut him off.

 

“It’s because I’d want you there with me. I’d take care of all expenses if you could come along and don’t argue with me because it would not stop me from doing it anyway.”

 

“What about The Avengers? Your schedule is so booked that it’s a wonder you have any time to do it now.”

 

“Yeah.” Tony sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “The concerts, the performances, playing the piano...this is my career and it’s my priority.”

 

“So will you eventually drop out of The Avengers because of it?”

 

“I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to.”

“Then don’t. Both are equally important to you.”

 

“It’s…” Tony paused. “I love it but I do it for fun. It's just a hobby. I can live without doing these things, but I enjoy the distraction. I wouldn't want to end up being that guy who's just in a band.”

 

“But Tony, this isn’t just about doing what you think others will expect of you! This is also about pursuing your dreams, doing what you want to with your life! Taking risks and making sacrifices for your art because that’s what you’re passionate about.”

 

Tony took a step back from Steve. “Don’t you think I know that? Don’t you think I’ve been thinking about that since I was old enough to understand what kind of life I’m having? I have to make all sorts of sacrifices just so I can pursue my passion!”

 

“Sacrifices? What? What do you know about sacrificing? You’ve had everything handed to you on a silver platter your entire life. It’s not about making money! I’m risking a lot just to be an artist. There’s no guarantee of success but I do it because I love it. Don’t try to talk to me about sacrifices because I’m working my butt off to have a social life when I’m not studying and working just to pay my tuition!”

 

Tony scoffed, his face contorting. “Now just one damn second, Steve! Where is this even coming from? Everyone should have been able to guess that this whole rock band thing was just a thing, a phase. I have no intention of actually sticking with it. I have to grow up at some point!”

 

Steve shook his head, chuckling bitterly. “So then what we have. That’s just part of your hobby? I have my art, but I am that guy who’s in a band. That guy who needs to grow up. Am I just some phase to you? Something you’ll grow out of?”

 

“You’re not just some--”

 

“Then what am I, Tony?” Steve was practically hollering at this point.

 

Tony groaned again, louder this time and allowed his head to thump against the wall. “No! Steve, you’re important to me! I want to keep you around!”

 

“But this is just a phase. Something you’ll realize you need to grow out of!”

 

“That is not what I’m saying and you need to stop putting words in my mouth, Steve!”

 

“Well how else am I supposed to take all of this?”

 

“I don’t know! Maybe try to be a little more understanding! You said I don’t know anything about sacrifice but you don’t know how much I’ve had deal with a controlling father who always tells me that I’m just an embarrassment to the family. I have never had much of a social life before this point because I am too busy having my life scheduled out for me! Do you know how long it took me to make a friend other than Rhodey? Does any of this even matter to you? Just because I come from a wealthy family doesn’t mean that I haven’t had to make my share of sacrifices!”

 

“You’re so concerned about sticking it to your father! My father used to beat the shit out of me and my mom! I’m glad I was able to get away from him but I’ve been having to struggle to pay the bills and make my way through life! This little fling thing is something that I love. It’s something that makes me feel like I belong! You seem to just look down at it and consider it silly and it’s what I do. It’s what I enjoy. It takes my mind off the shit that I don’t want to think about all the time!”

 

“So you think that because I am rich that I have it so easy?” Tony’s eyes were wide and his mouth was gaping. He was so offended and couldn’t even come up with a quick enough retort.

 

“You haven’t exactly proven it otherwise. You live in a huge house. You’ve never had to fight to get to where you are today! Compared to everyone in the world who has to work to survive, you have it incredibly easy! You don’t even realize it! You’re just a rich spoiled brat who wants to make sure you can fit in with us by talking about how hard it is for you, how you’re struggling with the amazing skill you were given and how hard must it be to have everything handed to you when there are people out there who would kill to make a small percentage of what you’ve already got! You don’t even think about this!”

 

Tony lost whatever fight he might have had left in him and shoved his hands in his pockets, hoping Steve didn’t notice the flicker of hurt that crossed his face. “Okay. I see.” He looked down, his head nodding as he laughed bitterly. “Thanks, Steve. From the bottom of my spoiled heart, I truly do appreciate hearing this coming from you. I guess I should be glad this is happening right now. I’d hate for you to have to hold on to all that resentment you seem to have for me. At least this is happening before it’s too late for us to get out of it. I don’t want to be a constant reminder to you that your struggle is monumentally worse than mine.”

 

“So I can see this was a mistake. I shouldn’t have come over.”

 

“Yeah. You’re probably right because this wouldn’t have happened in the first place if you hadn’t opened your goddamn mouth and told my dad all my secrets. I never wanted him to know and you fucked it all up.” Curse his fucking asshole mouth. Why couldn’t he just say what he really meant? Why did he always do this?

 

Steve just sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Whatever had been making him go seemed to leave his body too as his shoulders slumped. He couldn’t look at Tony. “I see. ” And with that he turned and left Tony’s room.

 

Tony, for his part, could do nothing more than stand there in shocked silence. This was the opposite of what he’d wanted today. He’d planned on having a relaxing afternoon with Steve. He’d wanted to watch a movie and have some popcorn and just do a normal thing for once in his life. That was apparently too much to ask for though. Instead he ran off one of the best things that had ever happened to him because he’d rather fight than admit he was wrong or that there was any sort of error in anything he said. He was far too proud for that.

 

He walked back over to his bed and threw himself down on it, grabbing a pillow and holding it over his face to mute his frustrated scream. When he was finished he hurled the pillow across the room and stood up to pace back and forth.

 

This was it. It was over. He’d fucked it up. He’d made Steve angry. He’d hurt Steve and he knew the things he said would hurt Steve but he didn’t make himself stop. How was he ever supposed to earn Steve’s forgiveness?

 

On a scale of one to ten, his day rated as a solid 20 for being the worst day of his life.

 

***

Steve rubbed his hand over his face tiredly. He and Tony had stopped speaking to each other over a week ago, but he couldn’t even understand why he had been angry before. He certainly wasn’t angry with Tony now. Sure, what he said had hurt a little...okay a lot, but it was possible that he’d taken it completely out of context. It didn’t help that Tony had become angry with him just as quickly.

 

Tony had not tried to contact Steve once though and Steve was sure he’d lost him forever. He did not want that to hurt as much as it did, but knowing that Tony had an actual career outside of The Avengers and knowing that Tony was well-known and that he was a prodigy...well Steve just didn’t see how he’d held Tony’s interest even as long as he had. Tony was on a level of intelligence that placed him out in the stratosphere, living high above those who were just average. Maybe average was the wrong word. Everyone had their strengths and their weaknesses, it just seemed that Tony’s strengths far outweighed his weaknesses and it left Steve feeling like he would never be able to keep up with him, or that Tony would get bored with him fast and move on to someone else.

 

It was almost time for the Howling Commandos to go out onstage and perform again. Instead of mentally preparing himself for the roaring crowd he was lost in his own head. He wanted more than anything to fix whatever had happened, but he was honestly scared. This was new to Steve. He was certain he’d been 100% straight before he met Tony, but being with Tony for even the short of amount of time they had been together had felt so natural he wasn’t sure he could really match that again.

 

His series of pieces for the art show had been more difficult to complete. He’d had a charcoal sketch of Tony that he’d started. It wasn’t complete before their huge fight, but he’d made so much progress that he finished it anyway. His professor loved it. Steve couldn’t look at it. That was a bit dramatic yes, but it was still true.

 

Steve fell too hard too fast. Way too fast. Fast as in “this only happens in the movies” fast. Tony had admitted to being worried about that because things were good and he was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Steve told him he was crazy to worry about it, but apparently he had been wrong about that. So here he was moping like a child rather than being an adult, being the bigger person and calling Tony first. He should take initiative, but he was being a coward. And he knew it. Things could get much worse. There was a chance of them getting better, but there was also the chance that nothing would change and they’d still not be speaking to each other.

 

A hand fell on his shoulder. “Steve?”

 

The blond looked up and gave his best friend a small smile. “Are we going on now?”

 

Bucky breathed a sigh through his nose, a disappointed look on his face. “No.” He took a seat next to Steve. “I think you should sit this one out.”

 

Steve frowned. “What? Why?”

 

“The look on your face will make people party less and cry harder. You look like someone kicked your puppy. It’s awful.”

 

He felt his shoulders slump and looked down at his hands. “I’m fine.”

 

“So then I guess you can tell me what happened between you and Tony that was so bad you guys are no longer speaking to each other?”

 

Steve rolled his eyes. “I told you it was something stupid. We both overreacted to something, said things we shouldn’t have said. I fucked it up even worse by accidentally telling his father about him being in a band in the first place.”

 

“Okay, so if you fought over something stupid, then why aren’t you doing something about it instead of sitting around doing nothing?”

 

“Because he doesn’t want to talk to me?”

 

Bucky snorted. “That’s such bullshit, Steve.” Steve looked affronted but Bucky held up a hand to silence him. “You guys are the biggest idiots I’ve ever met. Look, did you consider that maybe he thinks you don’t want to talk to him?”

 

“No.”

 

Bucky just chuckled before groaning and putting his hands over his face. “Steve, I love you. I really do, but you’re going to have to leave and fix this.”

 

“What? No. I can play just fine tonight. Why are you so desperate to get me out of here?”

 

“Because of this.” And he dropped an advertisement on the table and slid it towards Steve. “Because you have a chance to work things out. You can take the opportunity I’m placing on the table. Go talk to Tony and make it right.”

 

He studied the flyer. “It starts in half an hour.”

 

“Then maybe you should make a run for it.”

 

“I can’t just…”

 

“Oh come on, Steve. Stop being a baby. Put on your big boy pants and take on the situation head first.”

 

Steve looked down at his attire and then back at Bucky, giving him a very pointed look. “I cannot go into a performance hall looking like this. They’re going to be dressed to the nines and I look like a crime waiting to happen.”

 

Bucky thrust Steve’s leather bomber jacket into his hands. “Wear this and go. Get out of here. Fix this so I don’t have to watch you be like this anymore.”

 

Steve quickly put the jacket on and shoved the flyer into his pocket. “Are you sure you don’t need me tonight?”

 

“I’m positive. I think one of the guitars can switch to bass for one night. You have a serious life matter to take care of. Call me later. Well maybe not later. Hopefully you’ll be busy making up in ways I won’t want to hear about.”

 

Steve’s eyes rolled to the top of his head and he tried not to blush. He failed. “Thanks, Bucky.” He looked back down and gave his friend a hug. For once Bucky returned it instead of groaning about Steve being far too sentimental. “I’ll call you later.”

 

He didn’t wait for a response before sprinting for the door. He thought that if he could flag down a taxi he’d make it in time. He hoped he had enough money to get in. He had just gotten paid and he was sure it wouldn’t be cheap to go, but he’d sacrifice two paychecks if he could get Tony to speak to him again.

 

He was about to give up all hope on finding a cab and just running for it when one finally did stop for him. He climbed in as fast as he could and handed the driver the flyer. “Take me to this address as fast as you possibly can.”

 

The driver grunted and pulled away from the curb. Steve had his hands on his knees, one leg bouncing nervously. The cabbie might have been cranky, but he definitely took Steve’s “as fast as you can” to heart because he was pushing his way in and out of traffic and his hand was practically glued to the horn. If Steve were to tell someone he wasn’t scared he’d be lying. This guy was intense. On the plus side, he did make it to the performance hall with five minutes to spare before the show even started.

 

He pulled his wallet from his back pocket and was about to order a ticket when a voice stopped him.

 

“Steve. Glad you could make it.”

 

His head shot around and he looked a bit confused when he saw the strawberry blonde standing in front of him. “Miss Potts?”

 

She gave him a smile. “It’s okay for you to call me Pepper, Steve.”

 

He nodded. “Sorry. I really need to get in and--.”


She held up a hand to stop him but then laid it on his forearm. “It’s taken care of.”

 

Steve was only more confused now. “What?”

 

She laughed softly. “I’ve been asked to stand here and wait for you to show up. I had an interesting talk with Natasha.”

 

“They planned this?” He was almost surprised but then he wasn’t.

 

“Yes and I’m glad. Tony has been horribly moody that he’s lucky I am even here with him tonight. He had a huge fight with his father after the fight he had with you and he’s been pretty angry ever since. It’s not so much at you. Well not anymore.” She sighed. “He misses you but he won’t say it to anyone. You have to read between the lines with Tony because he’s not capable of dealing with high emotional situations. He hasn’t called you because he’s angry at himself more than anything and believes he’s a monumental screw up. He’ll never stop believing that, but maybe you can prove otherwise to him.”

 

Steve swallowed nervously, fidgeting. “What if I can’t?”

 

She shrugged lightly. “I think you’ll succeed, but if you don’t then I guess he’ll just be pissed off for the rest of his life.”

 

“Oh. Ah, okay.”

 

“Good.” She held open the door for him and told him to follow her. “He doesn’t know you’re coming. Well that you’re here. We decided to keep that quiet because I’m not sure how that would have affected his performance. Maybe the surprise will make him feel a little better too.”

 

“What if he doesn’t want to--”

 

“Steve, stop right there. I can assure you that he wants to.”

 

He bit his lip and gave her a worried look. “If you say so.”

 

As it turns out, she was leading him backstage and told him he would be able to watch Tony from the right wing because his back would be facing it. He had just taken his seat at the piano when Steve finally moved to a spot where he’d be able to see. He’d heard Tony play for him before. He’d listened to Tony on his iPod not realizing it was the same Tony. All of it paled in comparison to what Tony was doing right now. He had known from the get go that Tony was amazing, but seeing this live and in person was something Steve couldn’t put into words. This was Tony in his most natural and comfortable state. This was Tony showing the world just how much of a genius he was. And all Steve could do was stare at him in awe.

 

Steve realized now he’d been stupid for not trying to call Tony. Whatever they had fought about was honestly nothing that should stop them from being friends (or maybe more if he still wanted it) in the grand scheme of things. People fight. They fight over worse things but they work it out. He’d been silly to think Tony could just get bored with him and move on to something else. Tony put so much passion into everything he did and Steve had missed what was already obvious.

 

Tony was just as scared and unsure of himself because his feelings for Steve were just as strong. Yeah it was scary and it might not work out in the end, but then again it could be the only thing either of them wanted for the rest of their lives so it couldn’t be that bad to give it a try.

 

What felt like only moments had turned out to be an hour because people were standing up and applauding before he knew it. Tony was bowing for the crowd and they were eating it up. Tony was turning to walk off stage and…

 

“....Steve?”

 

Steve gave him a small smile and a short wave. “Hey.”

 

Tony paused and looked down at the floor. And there it was. For all his genius, his passion, his smiles and his arrogant demeanor, Tony was hiding his fears and insecurities.

 

“Tony, I’m so--.”

 

“Wait.”

 

“What?”

 

The brunet just looked at Steve for a solid three seconds before brushing past him and walking away. Okay? He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do now. Tony turned to look at him and jerked his head in the direction he was heading so Steve followed him. Neither of them said one word the entire way and he was surprised to be walking into a small practice room.

 

Tony shut the door and they both stared at each other for a moment.

 

Steve opened his mouth to start talking because maybe that’s what Tony was waiting for but Tony reached out to silence him by placing a hand over his mouth. Steve scowled which earned him a smirk from Tony. Steve scowled more.

 

After he was sure Steve would stay quiet, Tony pulled his hand away and took a deep breath. Steve thought Tony was about to say something but Tony walked toward the piano and took a seat in front of it. The silence was killing Steve. He was also surprised to see that Tony was actually capable of silence, but that wasn’t something to point out now.

 

He waited and watched.

 

Tony’s hands were hovering, almost like he was unsure of himself before he dove right in and began playing. Steve smiled because he knew what it was right away.

 

Why do I do, just as you say,

why must I just, give you your way

Why do I sigh, why don't I try - to forget

 

Steve crossed his arms over his chest and quietly positioned himself against the wall. Yeah he was most definitely over their silly fight.

 

It must have been,

that something lovers call fate

Kept me saying: "I have to wait"

 

Tony’s eyes were closed and Steve wanted more than anything for Tony to look at him. He knew this was Tony’s way of apologizing for his part. Tony chose to express all of his feelings through songs because he was unable to do it without a little help. That’s just how Tony was.

 

I saw them all, just couldn't fall - 'til we met

It had to be you, it had to be you

I wandered around,

and finally found - the somebody who

Could make me be true,

and could make me be blue

And even be glad, just to be sad - thinking of you

 

Steve held back from moving into Tony’s line of vision (if his eyes happened to open that is). He was ready to stop Tony and kiss him silly for being so insecure and thinking that Steve would ever, could ever give up on him. Pepper had been right about everything.

 

Some others I've seen,

might never be mean

Might never be cross,

or try to be boss,

but they wouldn't do

For nobody else, gave me a thrill -

with all your faults, I love you still

It had to be you,

wonderful you,

it had to be you

 

Steve gave Tony just long enough to finish the last bit of instrumental ending before he walked briskly toward the bench. He took hold of Tony’s arm and pulled him up, his smile brighter than it had been in awhile and he knew he was blushing but he didn’t care. Instead he cupped the side of Tony’s face with one hand while the other made its way to the back of his head and he pulled the brunet into chaste but intense kiss. Tony’s arms eventually folded around his neck and Steve broke the kiss and rested his own forehead against Tony’s.

 

“We’re idiots. I keep hearing that, you know.”

 

Tony’s eyes were shut again but he was smiling. “Yeah.” His voice was soft, quiet, but he was laughing. “We really really are.”

 

Steve chuckled softly.

 

“Steve, I shouldn’t have gotten so upset because…” he trailed off.

 

“I shouldn’t have either, but it happened and we’ll move on and eventually forget about it.”

 

Tony’s smile turned into a smirk. “Plus the make-up sex will be amazing.”

 

“Of course it will. I also expect a different song every time you decide to apologize.”

 

He felt Tony let go of a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. “Like you’d get an apology any other way.” He pulled his head back a little. “But what about the times when you have to do the apologizing?”

 

“I’ll draw you like one of my french girls,” he joked.

 

“You say the most romantic things, Rogers.”

 

“Don’t worry. You’ll learn one day.”

 

Tony snorted. “If you say so. What happens if we both have to apologize?”

 

“You mean like now?”

 

Tony shrugged. “Yes and no. Now doesn’t count. In the future?”

 

“Well I know of a pretty good song by Elton John and Kiki Dee we could sing together if worst comes to worst.”

 

“You’ve always got a plan don’t you?”

 

“I have to plan ahead and prepare for all the surprises you like to throw at me.”

 

“But make-up sex is always part of that plan, right?”

 

Steve just laughed and shook his head. “Of course.”

 

Tony smiled. “Good.” He crushed his lips against Steve’s and wrapped his arms even tighter around the man’s neck.

 

At the age of 17, Tony Stark found the love of his life.

 

***

Epilogue:

 

Tony had teased Steve for the flowers the blond had given him when he’d come to pick up Tony. Tony loved them but he really needed to work on his gratitude skills because they were severely lacking sometimes. That and Tony had never been given flowers before so he wasn’t sure how this situation was supposed to be handled.

 

Steve shut Tony up with a kiss. A kiss that was naughty and rather promising of things to come. Unless Steve was a huge tease. God he really hoped not.

 

“You need to keep your hands to yourself until we’ve at least eaten, Tony,” Steve chided.

 

Tony just shot Steve a rather unimpressed look but he was actually pretty hungry so he vowed to make an attempt. Steve had kicked Bucky and Natasha out of the apartment for the night so he and Tony could have it to themselves. Tony was turning 18 and Steve wanted to make sure he gave Tony a memorable birthday. Bucky had told Steve that he better be screwing Tony into the mattress if he was going to have to leave the fortress for the night. Steve declined to comment on that.

 

“But you look good enough to eat.”

 

Steve rolled his eyes. “You’re ridiculous.”

 

Once everything was ready, he brought food to the table and poured the both of them a glass of wine each. It took quite a bit of convincing on Tony’s part to make Steve give him some wine too.

 

Dinner passed by with a lot less heckling from Tony than Steve expected, but that probably had more to do with the fact that he told Tony he’d be withholding part of his birthday present until a later date. That had caused the brunet to pout a bit and Steve enjoyed that a little too much.

 

Next came dessert. Dessert being a cake. A cake that Steve wasn’t even jumping out of naked. Tony’s life was so unfair sometimes.

 

Finally though, they finished their meal. Cake included. And if Tony had to be honest he’d say this was one of the most amazing nights he’d ever had in his life. He helped Steve clear the dishes from the table and waited while Steve packed leftovers into the fridge. The dirty dishes needed to go into the dishwasher but that could wait and…

 

Steve was washing them by hand. Tony scowled, especially when he saw the grin on Steve’s face and he gave an impatient sigh.

 

“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doin, Rogers.”

 

Steve looked up from the sink and gave him a big smile. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Tony.”

 

Tony made his way to the sink while Steve cleaned, standing behind the blond and wrapped his arms around his waist. “These can wait.” He moved his hand down to Steve’s groin and gave a small squeeze. “This cannot.”

 

Steve tried to keep his composure to see how long he could make Tony wait, but Tony is nothing if not persistent and he had no plans of giving up. He kissed Steve’s back and then pulled away for a moment to kick off his shoes and toss them into the hallway. He was pressing against Steve’s back one more, trying to entice him before he started playing dirty. A quiet laugh from Steve though and Tony resorted to giving up pretenses of a fair fight. He’d been with Steve long enough to know what left him breathless and he was going to make Steve pay attention to him.

 

Standing on the tips of his toes, he leaned into Steve and bit his earlobe as his hand slid down down down, his hand tugging at the zipper of Steve’s pants and pulling it down. Next came the button, which he undid with a pop before pushing the fabric away and reaching for the blond’s already hard cock.

 

“Someone’s ready huh?”

 

Steve stilled at the sink, the dishes forgotten as Tony’s thumb slid over the precum that was already leaking from his dick. He shut his eyes and swallowed, letting his head drop while Tony began to slowly stroke up and down his shaft. Tony sucked on Steve’s earlobe once more before smiling into his neck as he worked Steve’s cock harder. He nipped at Steve’s neck lightly before letting go of his cock and moving down further to give his balls a good squeeze.

 

Steve let the dish he was holding drop back down into the sink and quickly drained the water before turning around, letting out a quiet groan as Tony’s hand left his pants.

 

Steve grabbed Tony by the waist and pulled him flush against his body again. “You really can’t wait can you?” He said smiling as he leaned down and pressed a kiss to Tony’s lips.

 

Tony smiled up at Steve and playfully nipped at his bottom lip. “I’ve been waiting for my present all night long, Steve. Don’t you want to give it to me yet?”

 

Steve answered with another kiss, this one more intense. “I think someone once said that patience is a virtue.”

 

Tony snorted. “That person was an idiot. That person wasn’t about to have sex with you.”

 

Steve laughed and hoisted Tony up, wrapping the brunet’s legs around his waist. “Then I guess I won’t keep you waiting any longer.”

 

Tony lunged for Steve’s mouth, kissing him hungrily as Steve blindly made his way toward the bedroom, his hands holding on firmly to Tony’s ass. Tony took that opportunity to grind into Steve while the taller man struggled to make it to the bed. He gently broke the kiss and deposited Tony onto the bed as he removed his own shirt. Tony was immediately back up, his hands tugging down Steve’s pants, shoving them to the ground while he latched on to one of Steve’s nipples, his tongue sliding over the bud before he gently nipped and sucked. Tongue laving over it again to soothe and pain.

 

The groan he got from Steve was rewarding in every way possible. Steve had to use both hands to pull Tony’s face away from his chest so he could kiss him, his tongue sliding against Tony’s twisting with it. He took that moment to undo Tony’s pants, pushing them down as far as he could while his mouth was still on Tony’s. Tony clumsily stepped from his pants and broke the kiss so he could pull his own shirt off.

 

Steve smiled down at the brunet and grabbed his hips, pulling Tony’s body flush with his once more as he pressed open mouthed kisses to his neck. His hands began roaming sliding and exploring all of Tony’s dips and curves before coming to rest on Tony’s ass. Gripped it in the palms of his hands. And squeezed the mounds, massaged them then let a few fingers dip between them to feel out Tony’s entrance once, twice, before returning his hands to his hips.

 

He eventually pulled away from Tony’s neck and gently pushed him back down onto the bed. Tony looked up at Steve and felt his mouth go dry when Steve fell to his knees, his hands caressing Tony’s thighs, fingers trailing teasingly over his balls, his hard cock and then back to his thighs. When he replaced his hands with his mouth, Tony’s head fell back and he whimpered, arching his back slightly as he waited for Steve to stop messing around.

 

Steve ghosted over Tony’s cock, his breath warm and Tony’s hips moved.

 

“Oh god. Stop teasing already!” He was breathless and his cock was already throbbing with want.

 

Steve chuckled quietly before his mouth was on Tony, barely sucking on the head before he began making his way down, taking him in and covering his shaft completely. Tony almost came right then, the pleasure too much but he managed to close his eyes and force back his orgasm. Just a little longer. He wanted this to last as long as possible.

 

Steve’s mouth began sliding up and down Tony’s cock, his tongue dancing along the shaft. Tony bucked up into Steve’s mouth forcing Steve to place his hands on Tony’s hips to keep him still. He was breathing heavily, moaning in pleasure as Steve began sucking faster, harder. Tony felt himself edging closer to his coming and tried his best to stave it off. Steve moved one hand from Tony’s hips and gripped the base of Tony’s cock for a minute, before sliding it down to fondle his balls. He let his hand move further still to Tony’s perineum before letting one firm finger trace around Tony’s hole. The sound Tony shouted was completely involuntary and just as satisfying.

 

“Steve. Fuck. Steve.” He shut his eyes again. “I’m about to come.”

 

Steve gave him one more long suck before pulling off of Tony’s cock with a pop. He looked up at Tony, licking his reddened lips and moved, climbing up on the bed. Tony scooted back to make room for him, Steve hovering over Tony’s body before leaning down to kiss him. Tony gripped Steve’s arms, his back arching again as he searched for any friction he could for his throbbing member.

 

Reaching toward the drawer for the lube and a condom caused Tony to whimper as he had to move away from him momentarily.

 

“Are you ready?” Steve asked as he liberally covered a finger in lube and Tony could only nod, his throat too dry to form any words. Steve just smiled and scooted back slightly, his hand sliding back between Tony’s legs. The brunet reached for a pillow to place under his hips as Steve’s finger traced around his hole once more, kissing Tony’s thigh as he gently nudged in a finger. Tony grunted and Steve looked up.

 

“Does it hurt too much?”

 

Tony just shook his head, responding breathlessly. “No. No it’s fine. Don’t stop.”

 

Steve complied, slowly pressing the digit further in, other hand massaging Tony’s thigh as he did so. Once it was all the way in, he slowly began thrusting his finger in and out, listening for any sound of pain from Tony.

 

“Oh god. Another, Steve. Fuck.”

 

Steve grabbed the lube and poured it over his other fingers, making sure there was more than enough, pulling out and then adding another finger. Tony’s moan was wanton and loud and Steve couldn’t be bothered to worry about whether or not the neighbors could hear. He began pumping his fingers at a more vigorous pace, his mouth covering the head of Tony’s cock once more, his tongue dancing around it.

 

When Tony began to thrust his hips, fucking himself on Steve’s fingers, Steve added a third. His fingers found Tony’s prostate and he pressed against it before sliding his fingers over and around, Tony freely moving his hips up and down now.

 

“I’m ready. Oh god I’m ready.”

 

Steve looked up at his boyfriend. “Are you sure?”

 

Tony nodded. “You better st--fuck.” His hips were bouncing. “I want that cock inside of me right now.”

 

Steve grinned. “As you wish.” He pulled his fingers out and Tony moaned sadly at the loss, but Steve quickly rolled the condom down his own cock, and letting it rest against Tony’s hole. He leaned down to kiss Tony just as he began to push his way in slowly. One of Tony’s hands cupped Steve’s neck, pulling him down for a harder kiss. Once Steve was all the way in, he stopped, pulling away from Tony’s lips to pant against his neck.

 

“You’re so tight, Tony. Is this okay?”

 

“Yeah. It’s more than okay. Fuck. Start moving.”

Steve nodded and began thrusting his hips slowly, Tony moaning and his own hips lifting to meet Steve’s thrusts. Steve took that as his cue to begin moving faster, his hips snapping forward then moving a hand to Tony’s cock and wrapping around it. He began to pump it in time with his own thrusts.

 

“I’m not going to last much longer, Tony.”

 

Tony’s brain was a mess of incoherent thoughts as he valiantly tried to keep up with Steve’s pace, feeling Steve’s erratic thrusts and knowing he was close to finishing. Steve’s pants became harder, moving faster and faster before freezing inside Tony, body clenching as he spurted his release into the condom, falling bonelessly onto Tony for a moment as he tried to catch his breath.

 

He kissed Tony and then lifted himself up again, resuming his strokes on Tony’s shaft, his wrist moving impossibly fast. With his back arched Tony cried out as he came hard, unable to control the pleasured scream that left his throat.

 

Steve continued to stroke lazily milking Tony’s cock until the last drop dribbled out and his body shivered with the oversensitivity. He fell once again, landing next to Tony, kissing him again.

 

The brunet looked at Steve with a tired yet satisfied smile. “We are so doing this all the time.”

 

“I’m okay with that,” Steve responded huskily.

 

Tony grabbed the box of tissues from the nightstand to wipe up his mess as Steve removed his condom and tied it before throwing it into the waste basket. Once finished he pulled Tony against him and wrapped his arm around Tony’s waist.

 

“Happy birthday, Tony Stark,” Tony whispered happily.

 

“Happy birthday, Tony Stark,” Steve whispered into the brunet’s ear, smiling. Tony smiled back, mumbling a thank you before falling asleep in Steve’s arms.