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That Damn Tank Top

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The first time Steve saw Tony in nothing but a tank top and worn jeans he almost dropped the plate of food Bruce had shoved in his hands to give to Tony. He managed to not drop the plate, but there was no stopping the heat stirring in his stomach and the way his breathing picked up just a little.

Luckily for Steve, Tony didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary because he was too busy tweaking something that looked suspiciously like a TV with legs.

Tony’s distraction gave Steve the perfect opportunity to stare. He’d never seen Tony like this – so stripped down of his usual armors and completely in his element. He wasn’t perfectly put together the way he usually was, instead being streaked with grime and oil and sweat, and Steve’s eyes involuntarily tracked the way Tony’s hand mussed his dark brown hair to leave an oily sheen in it.

It took him a few minutes to realize what he was doing – which was basically ogling – and Steve shook himself to get back on track and hand Tony his food since he hadn’t eaten anything all day.

Which was worrying, and so Steve definitely shouldn’t be eyeing up his teammate and new friend like this. He should instead give him his food and leave before he did anything regrettable.

Like lick a stripe up the back of Tony’s neck.

When he realized what had just entered his mind, Steve hastily put the plate of food down by Tony’s elbow, blurted out that he should eat and not feed it to the ducks, and hightailed it out of the workshop.

He didn’t miss the way that robot with one arm waved a dirty rag as if telling him goodbye.


The second time Steve saw Tony in nothing but a grungy tank top was two weeks later at five in the morning.

Steve had gotten up for an early run, prepping with a pre-workout snack when Tony wandered in, bleary-eyed and rubbing his face with one hand while he meandered over to the coffee machine and turned it on. He didn’t seem to notice that Steve was there, which was just as well seeing as how Steve’s spoon had stopped halfway on the path to his mouth and wasn’t moving.

As Tony reached up to get a mug from the cabinet, Steve’s eyes unerringly landed on the strip of skin the movement revealed. It looked pale in the dim light, and Steve was struck with the urge to stroke it.

That was when he noticed he was still holding up his spoon. He abruptly put it back in the yogurt, inexplicably embarrassed.

Something had Steve remain silent while Tony filled his coffee mug and took a long drink. The movements of his throat were hypnotizing, and Steve was barely aware that he was once again staring – probably with his mouth open like an idiot.

It would be so easy to stand up and go over there and put his mouth to his pulse point—

Steve jerked upright, nearly tipping his chair over as he jumped to his feet.

He barely noticed the way Tony jumped and stared at him, wide-eyed. “Steve—”

“I’m gonna go,” Steve said, sounding rather high-pitched to his own ears as he bolted.

He heard a bemused “You forgot your yogurt?”, but he wasn’t going to go back in there and risk jumping Tony like a sex fiend.



The third time happened when Bruce was also in the workshop.

Steve had come down with a request for Tony to please take back the TV he’d installed in the living room because it was creeping everyone out with catcalls, but he’d stopped dead and forgotten what he wanted to say when he caught sight of Tony’s rippling arm muscles as he moved what looked like a cooling unit with the help of Dummy.

Steve’s mouth went dry, his heart skipped several beats before picking up pace to beat a rapid staccato against his ribs, and heat curled in his stomach. Unthinkingly, his tongue darted out to wet his lips.

His eyes tracked Tony’s movements across the workshop until he saw who else was helping Tony out: Bruce. The sight jarred Steve back to himself, and he covered his face with a hand to hide his burning cheeks. Bruce hadn’t seen, but that didn’t mean Steve was in the clear yet.

Natasha had threatened to put a shoe through the TV the next time it tried to put the moves on her, and Steve had just managed to stop her with the promise that he would get Tony to remove whatever he had done.

Marshaling his courage, Steve input his access code and pushed the door open. Neither Bruce nor Tony noticed him, and Steve took the opportunity to better study what they were putting together.

It was a large machine that looked too much like one of those MRI machines. Steve hoped that the two weren’t trying to make some sort of faux-hospital in the house, because if that was the case, no one would ever go to a hospital when they actually needed to.

The worry flew out of his head the moment Tony turned so that his back faced Steve and bent over, giving Steve a very lovely view of his shapely behind. Those jeans were really something.

Steve only noticed he was gaping like an idiot with his lips parted and everything when Tony stood, and Steve saw Bruce’s raised eyebrows.

Oh shit.

“Steve?” Bruce prompted, his voice thankfully giving nothing away.

“Er…” Steve’s mouth worked for several moments, and he swallowed thickly when Tony turned to him, giving him a beautiful view of his flushed and sweaty face.

“You need something?” Tony asked, thankfully completely oblivious to the ogling Steve had been indulging in not even a minute ago.

The amused look Bruce shot his way had Steve finding his voice in time to blurt out, “The TV. Can you look at it?”

“Is there something wrong with it?”

“It keeps…catcalling us.”

“Huh.” Tony rubbed his cheek thoughtfully, leaving a streak of grime across it that Steve looked at for a few seconds too long. “That’s new,” he said finally.

Bending down, Tony picked up a large wrench that lay at his feet and moved to rest it on the machine. This gave Steve a perfect view of his muscles, and he had to hurriedly think about Nick Fury naked on the Helicarrier. Which didn’t work at all.

Steve was thankfully saved by the intercoms crackling to life and Clint shouting, “Get your ass up here, Stark! Your TV is stalking us!

There was a loud wolf whistle, a distinct Russian curse from Natasha, a shattering sound, and then JARVIS said, “Agent Romanov has attempted to smash the television with her shoe. It is now insisting on a ‘kinky BDSM romance just like that 50 Shades of Grey crap.’” The swear sounded odd in JARVIS’s proper English tones, and Steve couldn’t remember ever hearing him curse before.

Tony was frowning now. “It wasn’t supposed to do that.”

Steve resisted the urge to ask what it was supposed to do, because there was no feasible reason for a TV to have working legs or be able to sultrily suggest a threesome with the hot toaster living in the kitchen.

“Then what was it supposed to do?” Bruce asked.

“Something,” Tony answered vaguely, and then he rushed past Steve to leave the workshop. His bare skin brushed Steve’s arm, and Steve had to stiffen to stop himself from reaching out and touching. Still, he couldn’t stop his eyes from tracking Tony until he disappeared from view.

It wasn’t until Bruce gently touched him on the shoulder that Steve remembered he wasn’t alone.

“I suppose I should wish you good luck,” Bruce said.

Steve blinked. “What?”

With a wry smile, Bruce patted Steve’s shoulder. “Good luck.”

Bruce was gone before Steve could ask “With what?”, leaving him alone with Dummy, who offered him a green smoothie in sympathy.

Not having anything else to do with his hands, Steve took it. As his fingers touched the cool glass, he distinctly remembered seeing Tony guzzle this drink down in the kitchen one time. For some reason, his memory highlighted the way Tony’s throat muscles had worked as he swallowed the thick liquid.

With a quiet gulp, Steve realized he couldn’t possibly be anymore screwed than he already was.


The fourth time happened in the gym when Steve was training with Clint.

Tony had wandered in, grabbed a towel, and wandered back out, looking completely delicious and mussed up, and Steve really wanted to go over and – Clint was looking at him strangely.

Steve was just about to suggest they get back to sparring when Tony walked back in, a punching bag shaped like a Dalek literally floating behind him. He set it up where Steve usually demolished punching bags and then left, leaving both Steve and Clint gaping after him this time.

“What the fuck?” Clint asked.

“That’s a Dalek, right?” Steve said, trying to distract Clint from what he had seen Steve doing first.

“No, what the fuck?” Clint repeated. “You and Tony? You know that’s something likely to blow up in your face, right?”

“There’s nothing going on!” Steve said defensively.

Clint looked at him pityingly now. “You poor bastard.”


His only answer was a shrug. “Natasha owes me fifty bucks.”

“For what?”

“You poor bastard,” Clint repeated. “You wanna stop sparring? You can go after Tony and ravish him like one of those cheesy romance novels—”

Steve had never before knocked someone down so fast.


The fifth time Tony sauntered past in jeans so low that his hipbones were visible and a tank top so thin it was practically see-through.

By the time Steve managed to pick his jaw up from the floor and get his unfortunate problem downstairs under control, he realized Natasha had been in the room the whole time.

She gave him an utterly unimpressed look and informed him that he and Tony had better have sex in the next week or she was locking them both in a broom closet.

The frightening thing was that she was completely serious.

And One

The day after Natasha issued her ultimatum, Steve armed himself with a steaming cup of coffee exactly the way Tony liked it (JARVIS might have helped him out a bit) and a plate of scrambled eggs and toast. He encountered a small problem when he caught sight of nothing but Tony’s legs from under a really shiny car, but thankfully it was just Tony’s very nice legs. If it had been his arms in that tank top, Steve didn’t know what would have happened.

He managed to input his access code and set the plate and mug down on the nearest available surface, shooing Dummy away as he did.

Looking down at the legs poking out from under the car, Steve swallowed thickly when Tony rolled out enough to show that his tank top had ridden up enough for some skin to peek through. His mouth went completely dry, and he had to take a deep breath and tell himself to calm down.

Clearing his throat, Steve managed to say in a perfectly even tone, “Tony?”

“Hm?” Tony sounded distracted.

“You should eat.”

“Yeah, yeah…” The strip of skin disappeared as most of Tony rolled back under the car. “Hey, Dummy, hand me that socket wrench.”

Waving Dummy off, Steve crouched down to pick up the indicated socket wrench and hand it to Tony, unable to resist brushing his fingers against Tony’s.

The skin contact had Tony pause, and he rolled out from under the car to look up at Steve in surprise. “You’re not Dummy.”

“No.” Steve couldn’t help a small grin. “But you need to eat.”

Taking a step back as Tony pushed to his feet, Steve found himself frozen as he followed the captivating ripple of Tony’s muscles while the other man stretched to his full height. Eyes dropping to the low-lying sweatpants Tony was wearing, Steve swallowed again when Tony stepped towards the food Steve had brought.

This wouldn’t even have been such an issue if it was just about Tony’s body, but Steve really liked Tony. And he didn’t want to mess this up just because he desperately wanted to jump his friend’s bones.

“You know,” Tony said, leaning a hip against the table as he bit off a large mouthful of buttered toast, “contrary to popular belief, I can feed myself.”

“Right,” Steve said, attention fixed on the way the sweat glistened on Tony’s collarbones. His eyes trailed up Tony’s neck and caught on a long streak of grime on his cheek – probably from him rubbing his face in thought.

“But I’m not protesting,” Tony continued, waving the half-eaten toast around, “because this is pretty good.”

“Mm.” The strip of skin right where the tank top was scrunched up was really distracting Steve.

“So about that TV issue we had a few weeks ago,” Tony said, finishing up the toast and licking his fingers afterward, “I think I found the problem.” He picked up the fork with his other hand, thumb still half in his mouth. “I accidentally installed a rudimentary AI in it—”

Then Steve was right behind Tony, hands fitting into place at Tony’s hips like they’d been made for this, and he leaned in to press his nose in the space behind Tony’s ear, inhaling deeply, taking in the scent of metal, sweat, oil, and Tony. He pressed his lips there a moment afterwards, trailing them down until he could finally lick a stripe up Tony’s neck the way he had first imagined weeks ago.

“Steve?” Tony’s voice, high-pitched and surprised and half-strangled, jolted Steve out of his trance, and he realized with horror that he was pressed bodily up against Tony, his mouth pressed against Tony’s neck in a decidedly unchaste kiss. “What are you doing?”

Steve jerked away like he’d been shocked, nearly tripping over himself in his haste to put space between them. “Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to do that but it’s just that tank top and I’ve been thinking about it for weeks but I wasn’t actually going to do it and I like you too much to throw this away and I’m sorry, can you please—” A sudden mouthful of toast shut him up.

“You good?” Tony asked, mouth quirked in that small amused smile that tended to drive Steve almost as crazy as seeing him walk around in that tank top.

After swallowing, Steve said, “I’m good.”

“Good. So let me get this straight.” Tony’s hand was on Steve’s bicep. “You like me and you’ve been wanting to jump my bones for weeks?”

Steve hesitated, prepared to lie, but the warmth in Tony’s eyes soothed him enough that he gave in. “Yes.”

“Oh, thank God.” That was all the warning Steve had before Tony yanked him down into an absolutely filthy kiss.

Between whatever the hell Tony was doing with his tongue and the absolute giddiness coursing through Steve, it took him longer than it should’ve for him to pull away and gasp, “W-wait.”

Tony had moved to sucking a hickey on his neck in a spot far too high for any of his normal shirts to cover it. “Yes?”

Steve groaned, knees nearly buckling when Tony found that sensitive spot right behind his jaw. “T-this is okay?”

“Yep.” Tony’s tongue darted out to press against that sensitive spot.

“You’ve never—” Steve collapsed back against the table, fingers tightly wound in the white cloth of Tony’s tank top.

Tony pulled away from Steve’s neck long enough to look him in the eye and say, “I thought you weren’t interested.”

Dazed, Steve blinked at him. Not interested? All Steve had been doing for weeks was literally pant after Tony the moment he entered a room with that damn tank top on!

“But apparently I was misreading the signals,” Tony continued, darting in to plant a chaste kiss against Steve’s lips. “So why don’t we make up for lost time?”

Steve was just about to ask about those misread signals when Tony took full advantage of his open mouth to draw him into another filthy kiss, eliciting a surprised moan. Steve managed to pry his fingers loose of Tony’s tank top long enough to slip them under and trace them over those gorgeous back muscles.

Later, Steve thought, he was going to have Tony lie down and let Steve draw him.

But that would come later. Much later.