“Aaaand no, no, no, this is a disaster area, I don’t actually think I can bear to be in the same vicinity as this piece of shit—”
“Nobody says ‘vicinity’ Tony.” Steve intones from his chair.
“Well I fucking do, okay?” He snaps. And he is tired. That much is obvious, Steve can tell from the way he rubs fists in his eyes, runs hands through his hair, from the way he downs coffee like an addict, which he probably is, and shakes almost imperceptibly.
And of course, the way he kicks the solid metal table with his foot, leading to a crash, a shout, and then further retribution on the poor, innocent hunk of furniture.
“Have you tried turning it off an on again?” Steve asks innocently and Tony fixes him with a glare that promises absolute imminent death. Steve feels bad for almost a minute but he gets over it pretty quick.
“You think you’re funny” Tony’s eyes widen comically “But let me tell you something, my friend: you’re not.”
“Mmm’” Steve hums non-committedly, turning back to his sketch of the New York City skyline. Sometimes, he can only take Tony in small doses and he has fulfilled his quota for the day.
“Fuck,” the other man swears “fuck, I think I’ve broken my foot.”
“No,” Steve says, looking at his page “I don’t think you have. Try plugging it in again.”
Tony snarls “I don’t need computer advice from Captain America!”
Steve didn’t know quite why Tony was so angry. Or why the computer had stopped working. Or why, Tony, in all his infinite technological wisdom didn’t just go and get another one.
“Because I can’t, Steve,” he whines “it doesn’t work like that.” He shakes his head “You wouldn’t understand.”
Steve rolls his eyes. “Okay, Tony, will you tell me when you figure it out?”
Tony sighs, sits at his table, slumps, and suddenly Steve feels a bit bad because the man is obviously exhausted, probably just wanted to get the damn thing done so he could sleep and now the computer’s gone and fucked up and really, it’s not fair.
So against his better judgement, Steve says:
“What were you doing?”
Tony looks up. “Uh,” he blinks “schematics,” he says, waving a hand “it’s just, I can’t do them on another computer, this one is built for designs it’s not like I have a spare hanging around and, ugh, Christ, I didn’t even save and I didn’t have automatic switched on, so I’ve probably lost all of it—” He slams his hand into the table, runs the other through his hair.
Steve sighs “Why don’t you get some sleep and come back to it in the morning?” He says gently.
“I can’t, there’s a deadline and R&D want these in for first stage, fuck.”
“Why didn’t you do them before?”
“I have a job. Like, I have a real life job that requires getting up at six am and coming home at five and sometimes saving the world in-between trust me when I say I literally did not have time.”
“Can’t you,” Steve waves his hands in the air “you know, Jarvis, that thing with the specs.” Steve has seen Tony do it before with designs for the suit, he’ll get them in holographic form and then edit them.
“No,” he says shortly “not without the fucking original plans, fuck!” He slams his foot into desk again and cries out, hops, grabbing his toes.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck, oh God, now they’re broken.”
“I don’t actually think that smashing them at every opportunity is working.”
“You wise sage, you.” Tony says dryly.
But then he deflates. “I’m not going to get these done before,” he looks at his watch “fuck, all night. And then I’m going to Shanghai tomorrow, I’ve got a flight at 10:30, oh God, the time difference is going to kill me.”
He slumps into his chair, rests his head on his arms. “I think I’m just gonna sleep and hope it all fixes itself when I wake up.” He says, muffled.
“Stellar plan, Tony. Has a few faults, though.”
“You have a few faults.” He mumbles childishly into his arms.
“Wha’?” Tony says sleepily, blinking rapidly, looking up at Steve.
“Draw them. With your hands.”
Tony blinks. “What year do you think this is, 1986?”
Steve shrugs. “You can do that, right? Draw plans.”
Tony frowns. “Well yeah, obviously. But I haven’t drawn schematics with my actual hands since I was twenty-three.”
“You know, in the real world,” Steve says, standing up and walking to Tony’s table “people use pencils all the time.” And then he slides his paper across the surface to Tony.
He looks conflicted, for a moment. And then he sighs. “Fuck,” he says “fuck, I’ll get them out in rough at least, get me a ruler.”
Steve smiles and leaves in search of a ruler, brings a calculator although he’s sure Tony doesn’t need it and throws them down next to him.
Tony grunts in thanks and draws, sketches roughly, then copies the designs onto squared paper, measurements perfectly scaled, and he was right, this work is time consuming, hours have passed and Tony has only finished half.
His work is getting sloppy, crooked. Unthinking, Steve makes him more coffee. And he takes it in one hand, drinks, puts it down. It’s robotic, it’s the sign of a man who spends too many nights at a desk and not enough in bed.
Steve finishes his own sketch but continues watching the sun set. Then, he watches Tony. Not in a weird way, absolutely not, no, he just likes to watch him work. He doesn’t see him this focused often. It makes a nice change.
But there’s something wrong.
It takes Steve a while to notice, and he probably would have ignored it had the coffee cup not fallen when Tony’s elbow crashes into it, spilling brown liquid over his schematics.
Tony jumps from his work induced stupor, swears vehemently and kicks the table one last time. “Shit,” he says “shit fuck shit,” he swipes the paper but it’s too late, it’s already soaked through. “Don’t just stand there!” He cries “Get towels or something, shit, oh God, I’m never going to finish.”
“You’re… you’re left handed?”
“No, I purposely write with a hand that turns the world backwards just for kicks yes of course I’m left handed.” Tony snaps, laying his design out onto a counter. And then he kinda just melts.
“Fuck it,” he says softly “I’m going to bed, I’ll get up early and see what I can do.”
“You write with your left hand.”
Tony looks up. “Yes,” he says slowly “did people not have left hands in 1940?”
“That’s funny, Tony. No, I mean, why didn’t I know you were left handed.”
Tony blinks. “I don’t know. There’s… well, there is a lot you wouldn’t know about me?” He sounds confused.
“Right,” Steve nods “way too much.”
Tony looks at him funnily. “Okay,” he says, backing away “I’m just, I’m gonna go now.”
“Uh, yeah. I’ll, I’ll see you around, hopefully.”
Oh God. Oh God, Steve should just kill himself now and save himself the embarrassment.
“Yeah,” and Tony, Christ, is he blushing? No, no, it must, it’s the light “uh, hopefully?”
“Yeah,” Steve says seriously “touch God.” He stumbles.
Tony looks at him, raises an eyebrow “Excuse me?”
“I mean, thank wood. God. Thank God. Touch wood. Uh,” he’s blushing furiously and he knocks his coffee to the side with his chunky elbow, liquid spilling over the edges.
Tony blinks. “Are you touching wood or thanking God?”
Steve makes an uneasy shrug. “Both apparently.”
“Right,” Tony says, and he is definitely moving backwards “well, I’ll, shit,” he bangs his hip against the corner of a counter, loses his balance. “Fuck, that’s it, goodnight, I am going.” And he turns, leaves fast, maybe too fast.
Steve covers his head with his hands.
It’s not that he doesn’t know how to handle Tony, he does. But the man throws him off, constantly, everything about him is abrupt and harsh, he doesn’t know how to melt his outer shell. Because he wants to, he likes Tony, he likes his team, every other member is his friend except Tony, who he can’t seem to crack.
They’re friendly enough, sure. They don’t fight, anymore. Or they do, but it’s not explosive. Steve can’t help wanting his friendship, though.
Tony has that effect on people.