Clint felt the muscles in his arm pull tight in a satisfying way as he tested the weight of the bow Tony had designed. It was a little light, but the smaller size made for more maneuverability.
He put it down, stretched and wandered over to where Tony was messing with some holograms. “Getting closer Stark. Whatcha doing now?”
“Thing for Steve. You ever saw that old newsreel where he had the picture of Agent Carter in his compass?”
“No, you and Coulson are the only fanboy stalkers.”
“Smartass. Well, I’m trying to figure out something like that, where he can carry around photos when he’s away, but in a less obvious and more high-tech way.”
“Mmm…” Clint leaned against Tony’s work bench and spun some of the three dimensional images around “this is awesome photoshop JARVIS.”
“My thanks Agent Barton.”
“Pshhh, don’t let him insult our programs like that J, we don’t use Adobe products, this is pure StarkTech Photo Awesome.”
“Yeah, that’s not going to catch on until you can pick up Photo Awesome at BestBuy.”
Tony flipped him the bird, and continued his hologram designs, while Clint looked at more of the pictures. He absent mindedly started grouping them like he would when doing recon on a target, past and current lovers, close friends, dangerous allies, co-workers. Halfway though, just after ushering Agent Carter in to join Tony and Sargent Barnes something caught his eye and he started laughing.
“And Tasha was wondering how on earth you and Steve were compatible.”
“What she was? And why are you laughing?”
Tony sat up straighter, and pulled the holograms Clint was playing with over for his own examinations.
“Carter, Barnes and me, what of it?”
“Apart from the fact that you all look related? Sassiness, weapons proficiency…” Clint trailed off, and opened up files on the other two “You all make Steve look even more enormous than he is, you’re all the best at something…well, I’m probably a better sniper than Barnes, but he was the best at the time…you all had some sort of chip on your shoulder but light up around him…”
Clint grins up at Tony “Steve has a type. Face it Stark, you’re just the latest model.”
Tony sneered at him, and tossed the prototype bow into the back of the workshop. They both cringed as several things clattered to the ground, then Tony straightened up and pretended he hadn’t “You can wait for your latest model then.”
Clint just laughed though as he walked away “Captain America has a type…”
“So Cap, say that you had a pair of puppies that you really loved-
Steve put down the paperback he had been thumbing through and prepared himself to try and find Tony’s meaning in the midst of all his rambling.
“Puppies. With you so far.”
“Right, puppies. You really loved them. You took care of them, and they kept you warm at night, and scared away the bullies and gave you a chance to prove yourself to the army.”
Steve frowned “I could see how dogs could do the first two…”
“Very talented dogs. Sassy talented bitter dogs.”
Steve chewed his lip “I don’t think that we’re talking about puppies anymore.”
“We are completely talking about puppies!” Tony argued “So then one of the puppies fell out of your truck and you were really sad, and then the other puppy got taken away in a plane crash, and you felt all sad and lonely without her.”
“I did.” Steve agrees, starting to see where this was going.
“But then there was this other puppy who was nosing around you all annoying like, and he was kind of similar to your other puppies, all talented and with the bitterness and the sassiness.”
Steve nodded solemnly, motioning for Tony to continue.
“And so if you adopted the puppy, would it be because he reminded you of your other puppies, or because you care about him?”
Steve sighed, and patted the sofa cushions beside him. Tony obediently sat down beside him, and pressed against his side.
“I loved Peggy. And I loved Bucky. I’ll always love them, as long as I live. And now I love you too. Just because I loved them first doesn’t mean I love you any less.”
“Yeah, but if Peggy wasn’t old and some other guy’s widow…or if Bucky somehow wasn’t dead–
“That’s not a fair question Tony.”
“I broke up with Pepper for you.”
“That’s not even a little bit true!” Steve protested, laughing “She was the–
“I know, I know.” Tony grinned “Hey, made you a thing.”
He gets up and goes over to the media center where he was fiddling with things before, and brings back over a big gold ring with a blue stone. He slips it over his own finger and nothing happens, then grabs Steve’s hand, and puts it on his left index finger. Instantly, a holograph of Tony springs from it.
Tony reaches out a hand, and pushes it out of the way, and it vanishes, revealing one of Bucky. He keeps going through the images – there’s Peggy, Natasha, Clint, Bruce, Thor, Pepper, Coulson, Jane, Darcy…nearly all of their friends.
“It scans your fingerprint as you’re putting it on.” Tony informs him “And your skin cells, and pulse. It won’t show if you’re unconscious, or if anyone else is putting wearing it. And if you want the images small…”
He twists the ring around so that the stone is facing Steve’s palm and cups his hand. The holograms appear in miniature, inside the palm of his hand.
“Do you like it? I saw that video where you’ve got Agent Carter’s picture in your compass, and I thought you might like something like this. It’s supposed to look like a college ring, lots of people carry their parents college rings or wedding rings or some shit like that…”
“Tony.” Steve grins, cutting him off “It’s perfect. Thank you.”
He pulls Tony’s head into his lap, rests his left hand in his hair, and projects the images large in front of them again.
Tony flips through them absently “I’ve linked it to your phone, so you can upload other images too. They’ll just be flat though.”
He pauses on the Bucky hologram and spins him around “Though I’ve got to say Cap, Barnes not being dead looks a lot better when I see him up close. I could go for a threesome if you bring this guy into it. What were they feeding you in those army rations?”
Steve sighs, and tugs lightly on Tony’s hair “You’re not the only one who can get jealous Tony.”
“Yeah, but which of us are you getting jealous about?”
Steve doesn’t answer, just rolls his eyes and presses a kiss to Tony’s cheek.
“You’re not jealous at all Rogers.” The Bucky in his head laughs “You just wish it could be true, you big sap.”
“Don’t tell anyone.” He imagines himself grinning “Image to maintain and all that.”
The Bucky in his head grinned roguishly, and tipped the hat perched jauntily on his thick dark hair.
“Head out of the clouds, soldier!” Peggy ordered him sharply “You’ve got a family here now.”
“Yeah.” Steve agreed, watching Tony upload pictures of Darcy’s Tequila Madness 25th Birthday Party ™ to his ring hologram “I really, really do.”