Steve Rogers had a long history of being surrounded by people much more technically gifted than himself, starting with Dr. Erskine and Howard Stark, and ending with Howard’s son Tony – Iron Man – and several others who made an appearance in his daily life.
It was more than normal that someone stuck a gadget in Steve’s hand and gave him a brief introduction to how it worked. Steve was okay with that because he could adapt and work with whatever was thrust his way.
However, when left to his own devices, Steve liked simpler things. Not because he had jumped from the 1940’s to the twenty-first century in what felt like a heartbeat, or because he was an old fogey, but simply because he preferred that way of life, having experienced two drastically different alternatives.
That didn’t mean he didn’t have a laptop in his apartment, or that he didn’t know how to use it. He needed to type up reports, to do a little research every now and then, but he didn’t spend hours poring over all the things online.
Yes, he knew what ‘online’ meant; he was a quick study, because if not, Tony would have had so much more ammunition to use against him, even though they were on much better terms now after years of fighting side by side.
It was after a hard-fought battle, a troubled three hours of sleep, and a futile attempt to get rid of the tension coiling inside him that Steve decided he needed a break – a distraction. Normally, he would have wandered the halls of the Avengers Tower until he found Tony hard at work, and would then lure the other man into a light banter with him. Tony didn’t sleep well after missions, either, but in this particular case Tony was overseas in Europe, supervising some Stark Industries operation.
Steve knew the time difference was close to ten hours – which really didn’t mean anything at all, knowing that Tony worked odd hours. Steve supposed he could call him, but he was still a practical man and knew such a phone call would cost them both. His home computer lacked some of the video-call programs he used at work, but there was one program he knew of that he hadn’t used yet, but which Tony had explained to him once: Skype.
He had an account already, although it took him a few seconds to recall which password he had used for it. After logging in, he tapped on Tony’s username in his list of contacts – of which there were very few. Of course, as he might have expected, Tony wasn’t logged in, which meant Steve was back to square one.
The laptop let out a soft beep and Tony’s icon changed from ‘offline’ to ‘online’ as Steve’s eyes checked the screen. Knowing it was too good to be true, Steve pressed the ‘call’ button, and after a few seconds a connection had been formed.
“You’re up late, Cap,” Tony’s voice greeted him – a little low on volume.
Steve quickly reached out to adjust the sound and wondered if Tony could hear him at all; now that he thought about it, he wasn’t wearing an earpiece or whatever people used with these kinds of calls. “Uhh…”
“Did you accidentally log in?”
“I believe I called you,” Steve noted.
“You did,” Tony replied, and then a small video screen appeared, showing him Tony’s face.
Steve noticed a prompt about whether he wanted to turn on his own camera or not, and clicked ‘accept’, supposing it was mandatory. “How’s Europe?” he asked.
“Cold. Well, I’m currently up north, so that’s not exactly a surprise. You’d love the stars, the quiet, and the northern lights.” Tony listed and then halted, seeming to be looking at him a bit more closely. “You look like you’re still wearing your post-mission sweat.”
“I’ve showered,” Steve defended himself. “Tried to sleep then tried to work out.” ‘Same old’, he felt like adding. “The fight wasn’t the same without you.”
“I’m sure you made do.”
“A win is a win,” Steve shrugged. “I would have a few bruises less had you been there, though. You know how to move around me, unlike these rookies.”
Tony cracked a grin. “I’m touched. Also, I’ll remind you of that the next time you complain about my moves.”
Steve was sure he would. He opened his mouth to say so when there was a knock from the door, and he looked over his shoulder in alarm, not expecting anyone at this hour. “Hold on, someone’s at the door. I’ll… call you back if it’s nothing important.” Important like another mission; sometimes those things happened back-to-back.
Steve fiddled for a bit, closing the window, then got up to answer the door. It was Natasha. “I wasn’t expecting anyone,” Steve admitted.
“Are you busy?” the redhead asked, leaning casually on the doorframe.
“Not really,” he answered.
“You were talking to someone.”
Steve didn’t bother giving her a look to imply that listening to a private conversation behind his door could be considered rude. “I was talking to Tony,” he admitted, in case she hadn’t caught that.
One of Natasha’s eyebrows shot up. “Really?”
“Is something wrong?”
“No,” Steve frowned. “I just felt like talking to him.”
“In the middle of the night?” Natasha asked.
“I’m pretty sure it’s morning for him.”
“Well, it’s typical for him to call people at strange hours,” she shrugged. “You don’t have to answer if he calls in the middle of the night.”
Steve was fairly certain that if Tony had caught his post-work-out look on a computer screen, Natasha had done so in person. “I called him,” Steve clarified, in case it was important somehow.
Natasha gave him another arched eyebrow, then groaned. “I’ve just lost a bet, you know,” she informed him.
“With Maria. I was so sure Tony would be the one to make the first move.”
Steve wasn’t sure he understood. He made sure not to show it, or mention it, though. “Was there something you needed?” he asked.
Natasha reached into her back pocket and retrieved a small disc. “Data for the next mission. Take a look at it in the next couple of days.”
“I will,” Steve promised, taking the disc, then waited for Natasha to step back from the doorway.
“Goodnight, Steve,” she called out before turning and leaving.
“Night,” Steve replied, frowning after her, then closed the door. He glanced at the disc, then tossed it on the table beside the laptop and sat back down in front of the computer. He tapped at the Skype logo at the bottom, wondering if Tony was still online – then found the connection still open.
“A bet, huh?” Tony mused.
“You heard that?”
“You didn’t cut the call so I thought I would hang around.” Tony grinned at the screen. “Aren’t you at all curious about what Agent Romanoff and Agent Hill were betting on?”
“Not really,” Steve admitted, then considered it while Tony kept waiting for his final verdict. “Okay, maybe a little. Also, I know it isn’t appropriate, whatever it is.”
“Appropriate is overrated. Also, my guess is that they made a bet about us having sex.”
It took less of an effort than Steve would have thought not to visibly react to the words. “Then my wager will be that they bet on who was going to ask whom on a date.”
“An interesting proposition,” Tony considered, folding his fingers in front of his face for a bit, then lowered them because he wasn’t the type to contemplate in such an open manner. “How about you take care of the date, and I handle the sex?”
Steve wasn’t certain if Tony was just humoring him – or the women – or if this was something he had already thought about. “Something like that could be arranged. However, I’m a busy man.”
“We’ll fit it in your schedule.”
“What about you?”
“Oh, I’m good at prioritizing. I’ll give you a few pointers, even, if you’d like.”
Steve smiled, genuinely, unable to help it. “I would like that.”