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Destruction Is Also A Team Effort

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“And in the wake of another devastating attack on New York City, workers are once again forced to pick up the pieces left by the attacker as well as the Avengers themselves. The one question on everyone’s mind though...how will the clean up crews continue doing their jobs once the money runs out?”

 

It had all started one day with Steve. Someone had taken an aerial shot and it was in the newspapers the very next day with the caption “Captain America takes time from hero-ing to help clean up one of the many messes throughout the city.”

 

Of course after that the rest of the Avengers (re: Nick Fury) decided it would be good PR for the superhero squad if they got in there and helped clean up some of the mess they helped create. Steve felt a sense of duty, that he owed it to the American people to take care of the city, his home. There were extremely rare occurrences where the Hulk helped, usually with the heavy lifting, but those moments were rare because he would cause more damage rather than rebuilding. Thor helped when he could, another one great for the heavy lifting. Natasha and Clint had become constants with him. Steve, Natasha and Clint quickly became known as the Avenging Clean-up Crew and someone had even made them t-shirts. It eventually spread and became common for all who helped clean up to sport one of those shirts during clean up or afterwards.

 

Steve found himself being swamped by fans looking for autographs and reporters who felt it was more important to follow up a question about how he was helping to rebuild the city with “and are you single?” It was always times like this Steve wished Tony was there to field those questions because he knew how to talk his way around every subject known to man. Steve had first hand experience with that every time he tried to talk to Tony about why he needed to fill the team in on any changes he made to battle plans.

 

Unfortunately, Steve couldn’t ask for help from the genius.

 

Tony never once showed up to help with the clean-up.

 

~~~

 

“J.A.R.V.I.S., begin recalibration on Mark Twelve.” Tony looked like he was orchestrating a symphony with the way his hands were held up as they expanded a holographic screen. He pointed to the area where the HUD had malfunctioned earlier, resulting in a less than spectacular and rather painful crash into a parking garage.

 

He owed a lot of people new cars.

 

He sort of thought he was doing them a favor by that point.

 

As the AI began recalibrating the HUD, Tony put a pair of black goggles over his eyes and turned on a blowtorch, moving it to a joint in his gauntlet that had also malfunctioned as a result of his stellar landing skills. He supposed maybe he shouldn’t really be upset that Steve was once again angry with him as he did deviate from the plan, but it’s not like the good Captain ever actually listened to Tony’s reasons. He also reminded the super soldier on a daily basis that he wasn’t a team player, but that excuse never flew.

 

“Sir, Ms. Potts is on the line and Captain Rogers is seeking entrance into the workshop as we speak.”

 

A mutter. “Great.” He cleared his throat and set the blowtorch down, replacing it with a hammer. “Let’s do this.”

 

“Tony, where were you today?”

 

The brunet’s head shot up and he looked from the screen that was showing a very put out looking Pepper to the door that was showing an equally put out Steve.

 

“Lovely as always to see you too. Notice how I started off with a nice to see you rather than demanding to know why I wasn’t somewhere I should have been or something I missed because another thing took precedence.”

 

Pepper rolled her eyes before setting him on fire with a glare that he knew meant he was in huge trouble. Maybe he’d be better off dealing with Captain America first.

 

He swiveled his head to assess which would be less painful and frowned a bit when he saw another disappointed look on Steve’s face.

 

“Tony, you were supposed to be on a plane to Japan! I’ve got shareholders breathing down my neck because you missed this meeting, which I might remind you, is the one that was rescheduled because you were in the hospital for the first one.”

 

“Pepper. Beautiful, brilliant Pepper, you know that I have a good excuse!”

 

Her lips were pressed together, forming a thin line. “Yes. I have seen the news. You also said that you had every confidence the team could function without you just once and that you’d show up.”

 

“Yes, but there were a half dozen robots--”

 

She cut him off. “It doesn’t matter, Tony. Get your priorities straight. I have to go do more damage control.”

 

He swallowed and set down the hammer, his head hanging a little. “Sorry, Pepper.”

 

That earned, at the very least, a sympathetic look from the redhead. “How’s your...whole body? I saw the footage of that crash landing you had.”

 

He held up a disgustingly bruised wrist with a small grin. “I’ve had worse. Just a few bumps here and there. Nothing a little R&R won’t repair.”

 

“Just…” The look on her face broke slightly and he knew he’d scared her more than anything. Again. He hated himself a little more each time he did that. “Be careful, Tony. You know that I worry about you.”

 

He nodded, looking off toward one of his suits before meeting her gaze again with a tight smile. “I know, Pepper.”

 

She cleared her throat and sat up straight, pushing a stray hair from her face. “Next time I reschedule a meeting for you, you better show up. Come hell or high water.”

 

“Hearing you loud and clear.”

 

“Good.” She smiled at him once more. “Take care of yourself.” And with that the call was disconnected.

 

He pulled the goggles completely from his head and ran a hand through his hair. “I guess that could have gone worse.” And then he remembered he still had Cap to deal with. He supposed it was by some small miracle that Steve was nowhere to be found after that call.

 

~~~

“Another catastrophic battle has left the city in shambles. The mayor continues to make assurances that they the city will continue to remain financially stable, but taxpayers are still demanding to see evidence that proves their taxes are not just going into never-ending repairs caused by the superhero team known as The Avengers.”

 

Their next major clean-up occurred two months later, hot on the heels of completing their previous one. Go figure.

 

Steve grunted as he lifted a fallen beam over his shoulders, the metal digging into his skin.

 

Clint chuckled. “Now would be a great time for Thor or the Hulk to drop in and save your back by carrying that beam.”

 

“Or Iron Man,” Steve mused.

 

“I think Tony has enough on his plate already,” Natasha commented as she shoved a wheelbarrow full of twisted metal toward a dumpster.

 

“Yeah? He apparently missed a board meeting last time.”

 

Natasha smiled. “I was surprised by how easy he got off the hook on that one. Pepper usually accepts no excuses. She must have been pretty scared.”

 

“Pepper looks pretty damn amazing for someone who has had to put up with Tony Stark for over a decade, that’s for damn sure.” Clint chuckled as he stabbed his shovel into the debris around him.

 

Steve found himself frowning at that. “Tony’s not that bad, Clint.”

 

“So says the man who fights with him more than the rest of us,” the archer retorted.

 

Steve let go of the beam weighing him down with the trucks holding the larger bits of debris and then he shrugged as he wiped his hands off. “He’s just…” he waved his hands around a bit as he searched for a word. “Stubborn.”

 

“Impossible.”

 

“Look, just because he doesn’t really…”

 

Clint began laughing. “Steve. You’ve got it bad.”

 

The super soldier’s eyebrows shot to the top of his head. “What? Got what bad?”

 

Natasha snickered silently and Clint patted Steve on the shoulder. “It’s okay, Cap.”

 

Steve furrowed his brow then. “What are you talking about?”

 

“Nothing, my friend. I think you’re being flagged down. Put those muscles to work, Rogers.”

 

Steve could only spare a confused look before he answered to the call of another worker. He felt ridiculous being the only heavy-lifting Avenger there. They’d get the work finished even faster if Thor or Hulk or Tony...okay well Tony. If Tony showed up. Ever. And this was volunteer work. Steve understood that, but Tony’s suit caused nearly as much damage as the Hulk did and it irked the soldier that Tony didn’t seem to care about the clean-up at all.

 

“Brother Steve! I hear there is much need for assistance once again. I am saddened to see that our efforts to protect this fair city cause so much damage at the same time.”

 

The blonds smiled at each other and Steve breathed a sigh of relief. “Glad to see you showed up.”

 

Thor just nodded, pointing at the t-shirt he was wearing. “I hear it has become customary for us to provide as much aid as possible post-battle. I agree with the sentiment although I do not much care for this garment. It is far too tight and I feel almost naked without my cape.”

 

Clint walked by, clapping Thor on the shoulder. “I think most the women here are enjoying the show. Feel proud.”

 

“Ah. I am indeed proud of this most superficial achievement. Now, brother Steve. Tell me where I might be of most help.”

 

Steve nodded and had Thor follow him toward the rubble of a fallen building. “We’re clearing this out. There are cranes but they’re sort of everywhere else, so that’s where we come in.”

 

“Wonderful.” Thor bent over and lifted two beams, carefully turning to avoid knocking anyone over. “I do enjoy a bit of hard work now and again.”

 

Steve chuckled and rolled his eyes as he hoisted another beam and rested it on his shoulders. “This would probably go faster if Tony showed up to help though.”

 

“Perhaps, but I believe the Man of Iron has enough to deal with at this time. It is hardly fair to demand his presence as well.”

 

“I know, but...forget it.”

 

“Is there something troubling you, good Captain?”

 

Steve just shook his head. “Nah. I guess it just...sometimes I feel like Tony gets too involved in his own thing to bother helping out with something like this.”

 

“Does this cloud your otherwise normal judgment of him?”

 

Steve gave the god a small grin and shrugged.

 

“Fear not, Steven. The Man of Iron cares greatly and I believe he would join us if you requested it of him.”

 

The soldier outright laughed at that. “If you say so.”

 

The god dropped his metal beams into the pile waiting to be taken away. “Of course he would. You have a lot more influence over him than you might realize.”

 

“I’m not feeling it.”

 

“That’s because you’re not looking closely enough, brother Steve. I can assure you that Tony Stark is just as taken with you as you are with him.”

 

Steve paused. “What? I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

 

Thor just winked at the soldier. “Perhaps you are in denial then, my friend.”

 

“I just want him to show up and help us. Team bonding exercises.”

 

“Then perhaps it is best that you request his presence.”

 

Steve studied Thor’s face for a moment and muttered. “I guess so.”

 

~~~

 

Tony was cursing the coffee machine. The coffee machine appeared to be fighting back.

 

The genius lifted a meat tenderizer and glared at the disgruntled machine. “I don’t care if you’re upset because no one around here knows how to properly work you, but if you don’t give me my coffee soon, so help me god…”

 

A hand on his wrist stopped him from carrying on with the threat.

 

“Are you terrorizing your kitchen appliances now?”

 

Tony pulled his hand free and turned. Steve was smiling at him. He thinks it was called fond exasperation, but he was never entirely certain with these things.

 

“It’s not wanting to do its job.”

 

Steve looked over Tony’s shoulder and glanced at the coffee maker. “I like this one. Don’t break it. Maybe you should be nicer to it and it’ll give you what you want. Threatening it is only going to make it angry.”

 

Of course Steve was able to rationalize the feelings of a coffee maker. Tony should never have installed an AI in it. He regretted a lot of his decisions to put AI into his toys.

 

“By the way, you scared the shit out of me, Ninja Steve. To what do I owe the pleasure?”

 

Steve smiled. “I was coming in here to make a sandwich, you just happened to be in here too.”

 

Tony’s hand covered his heart. “Ouch, Captain. How rude of you to tell such outrageous lies. I’m the free gift that comes with the purchase and I demand that you unwrap me.”

 

“I’m waiting patiently for Christmas.”

 

Tony glared. When did Steve become unflappable and immune to his flirting? Then he smiled.

 

“You probably won’t find me under the tree, but just know that I’ll be wearing a big red bow for you.” He sidestepped so he could pass Steve and spoke softer this time. “And only a bow.”

 

Steve’s ears turned red immediately. Tony had a moment of silent victory. He still had it.

 

“Why do you do that, Tony?” Steve sounded annoyed.

 

Tony, for his part, was as confused as he looked. “Do what?”

 

“Say things like that!”

 

“That’s like asking me why I breathe.”

 

“Is it? You never say anything like that to Clint. Or Thor. Or even Bruce and you say some pretty awkward things to him.”

 

Tony shrugged. “You’re prettier than the rest of them.”

 

Steve shut his eyes and let out a breath. “Well I wish you’d stop. Half the time I don’t know if this is just knee jerk for you or if you mean what you say and just cover it up with laughs.”

 

“Steve. Do I ever say anything I don’t mean?”

 

The soldier’s mouth fell open. Then closed.

 

Tony smiled.

 

Steve opened his mouth again. “You told the coffee maker you were going to destroy it.”

 

Tony’s smile fell from his face and he sighed. “That doesn’t count.”

 

“It doesn’t? You said something and you didn’t mean it.”

 

The genius gave Steve a curious look. “Is there something happening right now that I’m not aware of?”

 

Steve just shook his head and looked away, chuckling. “No. There’s nothing you’re missing at all.”

 

“So am I free to go then?”

 

“We still need to talk, Tony.”

 

“What about, Spangles? The last time you told me we needed to talk was that time I crashed into a parking garage and nothing ever came of that.”

 

Steve rubbed a finger over his eye. “Look, you know that we think you’re just as important to the team as the rest of us right?”

 

Tony wasn’t expecting that. “Uh...yeah? What’s this about?”

 

“It’s just that...you don’t really seem all that interested in doing things with the team outside of our battles.”

 

“We all live in the same tower. How much more team focused would you like me to get?”

 

“That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t at least participate in team activities! We actually...I actually look forward to it when you do join us, but it’s not often. We all need to be able to trust each other and we need to be in this together.”

 

“So you’re basically saying that you’re mad I don’t join you guys for Scrabble night?”

 

Steve rolled his eyes. “Or anything. Game nights. Movie nights. Post battle clean-ups.”

 

“To be fair, I do have a lot of other work that I have to do outside the Avengers.”

 

“Yeah but are you telling me that you can’t even help us with the clean up after a battle?”

 

Tony gave Steve a dark look. “I am helping. By staying out of the way.”

 

“Do you even care about anyone else other than yourself, Tony?”

 

Steve regretted his words the moment they left his mouth and he grit his teeth.

 

Tony tilted his head. “No. I guess I don’t. Not my problem. People are paid to handle that.”

 

“This is exactly what I’m talking about! I can’t even have a serious conversation with you! I don’t mean to say that you don’t care, but you’re so flippant and you just put everything else in your life ahead of...that!”

 

“I know you were there for awhile when Pepper practically reamed me for missing a board meeting that same day! I’m being pulled on from all sides. I’d have hoped that you would at least understand that!”

 

Steve took a deep breath. “I do! It doesn’t mean that you can’t take a little time out of your life to offer up a tiny bit of help. I’d like to see you there!”

 

“Is that a command, Captain?”

 

“No, Tony. It’s a request. Just a request. I know you have things that are more important in your life but doing something to give back to the city we constantly destroy. You’re Tony Stark. You could do so much more and make people happy just by showing up.”

 

“I don’t think anyone would be especially happy to see me.”

 

“Well I would.” The blond snapped his mouth shut and waved a hand at the genius. “You know what? Forget it. I’d hate to take up anymore of your time since you obviously don’t want to spare any for me...us.”

 

Tony’s eyebrows shot up. “Steve?” He had no idea why he was still standing there instead of just storming off like he usually did. Of course no one else had Steve’s eyes and his stupid dopey grin that Tony saw when Steve wasn’t angry with him.

 

The soldier’s shoulders slumped. “Sometimes I wish I could figure out what has been happening between us for the past few months. You flirt and flirt and then you’re distant and I’m so confused but if you could just…”

 

“Steve, I…”

 

“No. I keep acting like I don’t know what anyone is referring to because I can’t get a read on you, but just…” he took a few steps back, his hands lifted. “Figure it out. Give me something to go on. But figure it out first.”

 

Tony opened his mouth to give Steve an answer but the blond had turned on his heel and left Tony standing there.

 

What the hell just happened?

 

~~~

“In the third major battle in New York in the past six months, pressure from anxious citizens picks up again as they demand to know if their taxes will rise next year as a result of continuous damage brought on by a man known as Doctor Doom. The mayor has informed fellow citizens that contributions have been made by local charities and businesses that wish to see that the city is able to keep affording the necessary repairs.”

 

Natasha and Clint were sifting through areas of metal and wood again. Both of them were exhausted and the redhead had dislocated a shoulder that medical had set back into place almost immediately. She was only helping at her own insistence because the moment Steve tried to suggest she take it easy for the rest of the day is when she implied the threat of bodily harm for even thinking such a thing. At least she did agree to work on an area that would involve less use of her shoulder.

 

Steve was crouched down, trying to pull apart two metal pieces that had somehow twisted themselves together. He couldn’t lift one without dragging the other and they were settled at an angle that was too awkward for him to be able to carry both.”

 

“So I hear you need a little bit of help with all this clean-up. Where would you like me to start?”

 

Steve’s head shot up and he couldn’t even stop the smile that formed on his face. “Iron Man. Hey.”

 

The faceplate on Tony’s suit lifted and he peered down at the soldier. “Would you like some help with this?”

 

Steve stood, leaving behind the metal debris for a moment, wiping his hands on his pants. “That’d be great. Yeah. I’ve been trying to pry them apart. Apparently it won’t even give in to my super soldier strength.”

 

Tony smirked. “Leave this to the professionals, Cap.” His faceplate shut and he aimed a repulsor beam at the point where both pieces met and cut them in half.

 

“Show off,” Steve muttered despite the smile never leaving his face.

 

“I wouldn’t be Tony Stark if I didn’t show off just a little.”

 

“I know. I know.” He crouched back down and found it much easier to lift up one end of the twisted metal.

 

“Allow me, Cap.”

 

The genius continued to show off by lifting both pieces and lifting up from the ground. Steve watched with a smile and laughed. He wasn’t sure if Tony would show up and he thought maybe he’d been a little too hard on the billionaire.

 

Tony landed and quickly received applause and cheers from other workers. His faceplate opened up once more, Tony smiling and his arms lifted in victory. “Thank you, thank you! I’m here all night! Well not literally, but you know what I mean.”

 

Steve watched as one of the superiors overlooking repairs in that area rushed up eager to shake Tony’s hand. Tony accepted and the man beamed.

 

He cleared his throat and patted Tony’s suit before lifting his hands. “Just so you guys know, we wouldn’t be able to be here doing this every time another psycho attacks the city if it wasn’t for the donations from the Maria Stark Foundation and Stark Industries. They are backing this project entirely.”

 

Steve was silent for a moment as he processed what he’d just heard and his eyes turned to look over at Tony who seemed to look away from the soldier quickly, almost as if he were too embarrassed to look at the soldier. Steve frowned.

 

And then he felt bad.

 

Once the excitement and thanks died down a little, Steve looked up to watch Tony casually walking toward him...well as casual as one can look walking in a suit of metal. “What next?”

 

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

 

“It’s not that important. That’s part of the philanthropy thing.”

 

Steve looked away and sighed, rubbing at the back of his neck. “It’s...Tony do you--”

 

“Cap, calm down. You were right.”

 

“You just let me say those things to you and you didn’t even stop me.”

 

“People have said much worse to me. It’s not like I couldn’t just make time to come out and do something.”

 

“I said that, but I had no idea you were putting millions of dollars into helping the city! How long has this been going on?”

 

Tony shrugged. “I mean not that long. Just a few…”

 

“Tony? How long?”

 

Tony rolled his eyes. “Since the battle with Loki. Okay? It’s not a huge deal.”

 

Steve just shook his head. “Do you just prefer for people to think that you don’t care? Tony, I accused you of not caring!”

 

“And I told you to stop being ridiculous. I’m not even mad.”

 

“Well you should be! I know you, Tony! I should have known you were doing something to help but I was so focused on being frustrated that you didn’t seem to want to make time for us!”

 

Tony glanced around realizing that Steve was talking rather loudly at this point and that lots of people were looking. “Right. Clench up, Cap.”

 

“Wha--?” Before he could finish Tony had grabbed him by the waist and lifted up into the sky with the soldier. Steve was holding on pretty tight if the sensors in his suit were anything to go by.

 

Once the made it to the landing pad, Tony put Steve down as different parts of armor were removed from his body. Steve watched in something that resembled awe, but Tony wasn’t sure if it was the tech or the fact that he knew he looked damn good in the undersuit he wore with it. After he was free of all metal, he slowly approached the soldier with a small, predatory grin.

 

“Tony, I’m really…”

 

Tony placed a finger over Steve’s lips. “Stop.”

 

“No, but I feel…”

 

He pinched Steve’s lips together. “Steve, will you stop apologizing? I’m okay. Okay? You should be okay too. Are you okay?”

 

Steve just lifted his eyebrows and gave a pathetic nod.

 

Tony cleared his throat. “You said you were confused by me. That I was giving you mixed signals and you had no idea what to do with it. You also said that you’d like to see me more. I showed up because you wanted me to, Steve. Not out of guilt. I thought maybe if I showed up and helped that you’d get the message.”

 

Steve stayed silent.

 

“The message being that I will always make time for you if you ask for it.”

 

Steve blinked and Tony removed his fingers from the blond’s lips. Steve licked them where they’d been pinched together and then smiled. “So are you saying that wouldn’t have worked if Clint or Natasha had asked you?”

 

Tony snorted and rolled his eyes. “Natasha is scary but she isn’t guilting me into anything and Barton is Barton. He really couldn’t guilt me.”

 

“So this was…”

 

“This was me making my intentions perfectly clear. Are they clear enough for you now?” Tony was giving Steve a challenging grin.

 

Steve studied the brunet’s face for a moment. “Not at all.”

 

Tony smiled, promptly pulling the soldier into a rough kiss, his fingers carding through blond hair. They both stayed together for awhile until the genius pulled back to take a breath.

 

“Was that any clearer?”

 

Steve shrugged. “It’s not as murky. I’m still working on seeing it though.”

 

Tony outright smirked at that and dragged the soldier to the nearest sofa to push him down so he could straddle his thighs. He wasted no time in pressing his lips to Steve’s once more, his tongue immediately seeking entrance. He felt Steve grab hold of his waist and knew it was okay to keep doing what he was doing.

 

Steve’s hands were sliding over Tony’s back and then down to his rear, gripping firmly. Tony will tell anyone until the end of time that what escaped his lips was definitely not a needy whimper, and that it was definitely not what prompted Steve to flip them over so Tony was the one sitting underneath the soldier.

 

“You know, I’m definitely okay with this.”

 

Steve grinned, his lips millimeters from Tony’s. “Shut up, Stark,” he all but whispered before taking control of the situation. Tony was a bit surprised when he felt Steve’s hand move so quickly he didn’t even register that Steve had popped the button on his pants before his hands were wrapped around his cock.

 

Tony groaned against Steve’s lips and he immediately began working the soldier’s pants open, hand finding its way down to Steve’s super soldier member. He chuckled after thinking of that and Steve nipped at his bottom lip, stroking up and down the genius’ shaft. He slid his thumb over the slit teasing out a drop of precum and rubbing it over the cock head. Tony nipped at Steve’s lip this time as he worked his hand down the soldier’s shaft, squeezing a little harder as he got closer to the base. His hand stuttered. Steve had managed to use his other hand to work his pants down further before it too joined the party, cupping at his balls, rolling them in his warm palm. Then his hand inched down, back behind the balls rubbing at the stretch of skin just before Tony’s hole. Tony clenched, his whole body shivering with pleasure then stuttering as it tried to both thrust up and back onto Steve’s hand.

 

Steve smiled against Tony’s lips as he let out as involuntary moan. “Fuck.” Tony panted as he felt Steve’s searching fingers slide back and slide across his hole. Steve gave Tony’s lips one last kiss before sliding down his body, he let his breath gust over the head of Tony’s shaft before taking it into his mouth.

 

The wet warmth against him caught Tony by surprise and he rocked nearly off the edge. But just as he reigned himself back in Steve began to suck. Tony’s eyes clenched tighter as he felt it all coming to a close, it was like a rolling wave starting both in his toes and going up his spine. He tried to warn Steve but all he managed was getting a tight fist of Steve’s hair and then he was coming. He gasped out Steve’s name as his cock gave spurt after spurt. At some point he was pretty sure he passed out, and when he came to it was to Steve placing a kiss on his lips. Steve was smiling a little in triumph and Tony knew exactly how to wipe that smile off his face. He let a lazy smirk cross his face before reaching back down for Steve’s cock. He wrapped one hand around it and pumped up giving his wrist a twist, Steve’s smile faltered his mouth instead shaping a nice O. Tony let his other hand grasp Steve’s balls and cupped and rubbed them until Steve let out a choked off groan. Tony added a squeeze with the twist and soon Steve was barely holding back from thrusting into his hand.

 

“C’mon,” Tony said giving Steve’s bottom lip a quick nip, Steve just groaned and let his head fall to the crook of Tony’s neck before giving in to the pleasure and coming hard.

 

Steve’s body slumped against Tony’s as the two of them worked to catch their breath, panting loudly before Steve gave Tony a lazy, blissed out kiss, his face then falling into crook of Tony’s neck again. He smiled and Tony ran his clean hand through Steve’s hair, chuckling.

 

Steve looked up, confused. “What?”

 

Tony grinned. “Maybe now would be a good time to ask you if you’d like to go on a date.”

 

Steve laughed softly, pressing another kiss to Tony’s lips. “You can, but just know that I don’t plan on putting out again until the third date.”


Tony attempted to protest but Steve kissed him into silence.