Tony Stark meets Sam Wilson for the first time as Steve is showing the man around Avengers Tower. Tony doesn’t remember if they invited the man to come live there—the rest of the team and their various spouses/significant others/allies are all living there—but he shrugs it off as a win either way.
He shakes hands with him, rubs Steve’s face in the fact that he actually can’t do everything by himself and does, actually, sometimes need help, and then abandons them for his workshop and the various projects he’s got going.
And he doesn’t think much more about it.
Steve rolls his eyes, and goes for the dresser, and Tony briefly thinks about begging him not to put on clothes, or maybe trying to distract him with post-shower sex—but then Steve says, “The guy with the Falcon exo-suit,” and Tony is pretty sure he can feel the wheels in his brain grinding as they change gears. And by the time he comes out of it, Steve is dressed and mostly out the door, and the mood is so dead anyway, so Tony just goes with it.
Tony doesn’t suit up. Instead, he joins Thor and Bruce at one of the decks so he can watch Natasha and Clint demonstrate various moves for Sam, Steve their ever-present captain and trainer. From their gestures, he thinks they want to add some sort of flying element to them, which, you know, makes sense, given the whole, you know, flying thing. Neither Thor nor Bruce are actually paying much attention, and Tony is about five seconds from bailing when Sam unfolds the Falcon’s wings.
Tony is pretty sure that he had seen some of footage of Sam somewhere, probably after the whole Hydra-infiltrating-SHIELD thing, but he clearly had not been paying attention. And probably somewhere there’s a file—obtained in a not entirely legal fashion—with the military’s specs on those wings. But for the moment, watching Natasha throw herself into the air only to be caught and then thrown to safety by Sam, all Tony can think is, “I can do better.”
“Mr. Stark, it’s a pleasure—” And that’s when he uses Sam’s hand to spin the guy around, hands already taking the measure of the… thing that’s on his back. Tony thinks maybe the guy keeps talking as he does that, but he’s not really listening.
Steve comes up behind him, all but radiating disapproval. “Tony, what are you doing?” he asks, and if Tony had a hand to spare, he’d wave him off. But he doesn’t, so he just makes a noise that he hopes conveys that accurately.
That’s when Clint gets involved. “Stark, what the hell?”
And the only thing Tony can get out is: “I can do so much better. But I can work with this.”
An hour later, Tony is tossing the specs for the Falcon wings—again obtained in a way is definitely not legal—onto his holo-desk, examining them. He immediately discards the jetpack—it needs fuel for chrissakes, it could just blow up at any time—and the backpack straps—because really. And then he gets down to work.
Two hours later, JARVIS renders the new design, and Tony frowns and squints and turns it this way and that to see if there’s something he missed. Steve finds him like that, the holo-design for the wings in his hands, though he doesn’t notice until the super soldier groans from the doorway.
“Seriously? You couldn’t just tighten a few bolts on the suit he’s already got?”
Tony looks up—tries not to feel guilty before reminding himself that he’s got nothing to feel guilty for—and lets the holo go. It, because he’d designed the desk and it works perfectly, stays in the air exactly where he put it. Stepping through the remains of one of his own suits, he’s not even sure which one anymore, Tony scoffs at his boyfriend.
“It runs on fuel,” he says, glowering at the other man. “It could literally blow up in your face.”
Steve huffs out a laugh, and shakes his head. “I’m sure it’s got some sort of—” He waves a hand, searching for the words. “Some sort of programming against that.”
“Yeah? What happens if he runs out of fuel?” Tony asks, which is less important in his mind than the blowing up, but still totally relevant. “What happens if he runs out of fuel in the middle of flying Natasha to the next roof?”
And that actually makes Steve take a moment. He purses his lips in thought—and that’s almost, almost, enough to distract Tony from this project because he really, really wants to nibble at Steve’s lower lip, just maybe not now—and when he nods a little Tony counts it as a win. He goes back to the designs—spotting a previously unnoticed flaw—and when he looks up again 46 minutes later, Steve is gone but there’s a still-warm pizza on the bench next to the door.
But Iron Man is man made. Iron Man is a product of Tony’s brains and his money and probably no small amount of his fear that history can repeat itself. He’s the Batman of the team—fabulously wealthy and willing to use that money to make himself into a superhero. Sam Wilson and his Falcon suit are—sort of, in Tony’s mind—the same. The man is just that: a man. And the suit makes him more, allows him to keep up with the super-powered and super-trained members of the team.
The new Falcon wings—Falcon Mark I, Tony has silently christened it—is somewhat more of a suit. It folds up something like his Suitcase Suit does—Tony had reluctantly put the backpack straps back—unfolding and folding itself around Sam, building around his chest and down his back and legs to protect him. It’s just as bulletproof as Iron Man, and uses the same repulsor technology—Tony rather enjoyed the challenge of integrating wings into the repulsor flight ability—and he mercifully didn’t give it a paint job. For now, it’s all shining silver.
Sam wonders at it, bends and twists to test the flexibility, stretches out the wings, and then turns back to Tony. “Mr. Stark, you didn’t—”
“Tony. You can just call me Tony.”
Sam laughs under his breath and shakes his head. “Tony, you didn’t have to do this. What I got already works just fine for me.”
Tony just shrugs, like he doesn’t care—even though he does. “Your suit runs on fuel,” he says casually. “You could blow up.”
He leaves before Steve can force him to join the training session, making his way back to his workshop. He thinks briefly about fixing the latest bugs in the StarkPhone, or about putting that Iron Man suit—the one that’s still in pieces on his floor—back together or at least pulling the pieces of it that are salvageable out. Instead, when he sits down at his desk, he says “JARVIS, new file. Call it… Falcon Mark II.”