Tony glanced over at Pepper, who was fast asleep on the picnic mat, curled up with her head on the bag of strawberries. Tony had bought the strawberries for her, but only remembered she was allergic to them when he showed them to her and she physically facepalmed.
Tony, she had said. We've been friends for over ten years, and we dated for at least two weeks of that, and you still forget that I'm allergic to strawberries. But really, it wasn't Tony's fault! Pepper always smelt like strawberries, so it was expected that Tony would get confused. Anyhow, even if Pepper didn't eat the strawberries, Tony always could.
It really was a beautiful morning, with the sun shining happily in the sky and brightly colored flowers dancing in the light breeze. The sky was cornflower blue and the trees in the park were lush and green. In that moment, Tony badly wanted to take a photo of Pepper. She just seemed to fit in with the gorgeous park landscape seamlessly, a red-haired figure stretched out on the ground with the sun reflecting off her hair, a blend of scarlet and gold. She looked completely at peace, and the lines of stress in her face were smoothed out.
A flower would complete the picture perfectly, Tony thought. There were flowers surrounding her, but a flower in her hair would complement the flower motif wonderfully. Tony looked around for any suitable flowers, but he couldn't find any, so he stood up and started looking around for any especially beautiful flowers. Only the best flower would do for his best friend, the girl who had suffered through so much stress and worry for Tony and had been there for him during his highs and his lows.
As he continued searching, he stopped short when saw the exact flower he'd been looking for. He was pretty sure it was called a Plumeria. It had smooth white petals that faded into yellow when you reached the center of the flower. He simply had to get it for Pepper; he knew she would love it.
The only problem was that it was on a tree that was on a small island in the middle of a river. The river was probably around three or four meters wide, and the water didn't seem to be flowing very rapidly.
Tony sighed, then walked over to the banks of the river. He stretched out a hand experimentally, but he didn't even come close to the flower. Tony moved close enough to the water that his bare toes touched it, and leaned out as far as he dared. Still, he couldn't reach the flower.
Tony took a deep breath, and then got up on the tips of his toes and stretched out as far as he possibly could, lifting his left leg to allow himself to lean further. Just as he grabbed the flower and broke it off its stem, his body collapsed and he fell into the river.
He spluttered and spit water out of his mouth. From the other side of the river, he heard laughing. Annoyed, Tony looked up to see a man sitting behind an art easel, laughing his head off.
"Shut up" Tony called out, frowning. The man just laughed harder, and stood up, walking over to the river and holding his hand out to Tony.
"Want some help?" He choked out before collapsing into a fit of laughter again.
"No." Tony said defiantly. "I can get out myself, thank you very much" With that, Tony pulled himself out of the river, sopping wet, his clothes dripping all over the already damp grass. He tried to maintain his dignity but he clearly failed because the man was still laughing. "Stop laughing!"
"I'm sorry", the man guffawed. "But that was just too funny!"
Tony made an irritated noise, and the man finally calmed down.
"What's your name?" The man asked.
"Tony" Tony said shortly, still mad. "Yours?"
"Steve" The man, Steve, looked at Tony apologetically. "Sorry, I didn't mean to seem rude"
"No problem" Tony said. There was something about this Steve that made Tony want to forgive him instantly. It's probably his eyes, Tony thought. Steve's eyes were large and honest, and they were the color of the sky above their heads. His hair was blond, and Tony wanted to run his hands through it to see if it was as soft as it looked.
There was just one problem.
Tony was still soaking wet.
"Tony?" Steve asked. "Are you listening?"
"Uh, yeah" Tony said. "What are you painting, anyway?" Tony strode over to the easel, and looked at the painting.
The painting was of the landscape in front of them, the trees and the flowers and the sky that was the exact same shade as Steve's eyes. And Pepper. Steve had even painted Pepper and their picnic mat into the scene, the sleepy smile on Pepper's face and the jacket that was loosely draped over her legs.
"I wasn't trying to be creepy, I just- well, she just seemed to fit in perfectly with the landscape and I wanted to be as accurate as possible, you know?" Steve explained awkwardly.
"That's amazing" Tony said slowly. "That's quite possibly the best painting I've ever seen in my life. Can I buy it from you?"
"Thank you, I mean, it's just something I did just now, I didn't really think about it, but I'm glad you like it" Steve said gratefully. "Is she your girlfriend?"
"No, we're just friends", Tony dismissed. Steve seemed to relax a little. "Can you just add one thing?" Steve looked at him, puzzled. Tony held up the flower. "Can you paint this flower in her hair?"
Steve smiled and picked up his paintbrush, washing it and carefully dipping it in the exact colors of the flower. He began painting the flower in very carefully, blending the edges of the flower in with Pepper's hair so the flower looked as if it had always been there. Tony was right. The flower in her hair was exactly what the picture needed, and the flower looked so natural there that Tony decided to get Plumerias for Pepper every single day so she could put them in her hair.
"You are an artistic genius, my friend" Tony said, in awe of the painting that stood in front of him. It had such a sense of peace to it, one that a camera could never capture, a sense of nature and content. It was so perfect that Tony spun around and kissed Steve before Steve could protest. Tony expected that Steve would push him away instantly, but Steve kissed him back.
Steve kissed with a sense of innocence and purity, just like the Plumeria, and Tony was just thinking how cheesy a thought that was when Steve put some tongue into the kiss and Tony's brain shut off.
When they finally pulled away from each other, Steve's smile was like sunlight and Tony was overwhelmed with how right the kiss had felt.
"You never did answer my question" Tony finally said. "Can I buy the painting?"
Steve smiled again. "I really will miss it if I give it to you"
Tony leaned in and kissed him again. "Here's an idea; what if you come visit me every day so you can see it?"
"Okay. Only for the painting, though" Steve teased. Tony laughed into the kiss. "Definitely nothing to do with its very cute owner"
"Definitely not" Tony smiled. Then, Steve pulled away.
"One thing, though" he said. He pointed at Tony's wet clothes, and then gestured to his own, which were now wet, too. "Now I'm wet too!"
"That was the aim, baby" Tony winked.