There was one advantage to being a University guest lecturer, Tony Stark decided as he floated lazily around the Olympic-sized swimming pool of Whatever-State-University, and that was college gyms. Not that he particularly needed the gyms or the pool: running the largest and most successful company in the world certainly afforded him his own professional grade equipment and whatever physical trainer he could want, but there was no beating the atmosphere of a place that served as a safe haven from classes for some and as a hangout for others.
Plus there was the view. Normally Tony was all for privacy, especially when it came to making an ass of himself with a set of dumbbells or when he was struggling to get in that last mile and was beginning to think he might die instead. Even here Tony couldn't imagine trying to use some of the equipment without looking pathetic, but that was more to do with the young muscleheads hanging around the weights and less about his own appearance. Frankly, at 45 Tony looked and felt amazing, and that meant that he certainly wasn't afraid to put himself in his most flattering bathing suit so that he could veg in the pool and watch everybody else try to look good.
And did they ever look good. It was on this particularly warm day in May that Tony found most of the university's campus choosing to lounge around and enjoy the weather rather than stay cooped up inside. There wasn't a single chaise left surrounding the large pool that hadn't been claimed by a student with a book or by a potential sun bather, and Tony had given his up in favor of borrowing one of the pool's floaties in order to enjoy the heated water instead. The floaty looked ridiculous - like something they had pulled out of the kids department at Walmart but Tony had been assured that it was their mascot or something - and left much to be desired, but so far the ugly orange crab-thing with inflatable claws and a dopey expression hadn't seemed to affect Tony's appearance anyway. So far it had actually done the opposite, drawing attention to Tony from some of the more spirited students who waved and cheered from the edge before going to find seats. Tony had even been invited to a game of chicken with a small group of gorgeous blondes and what looked to be their football boyfriends, but he had declined in favor of spectating. That had only just recently ended when one of the ladies nearly cracked her head on the pool's edge and the lifeguard had given them an exasperated scolding. He had been a lanky brunet that looked like he needed to be relaxing more around the pool rather than working around it, but he was packing up now and muttering complaints under his breath while he did so. Tony allowed his floaty to turn him around so that he wasn't watching the boy, focusing instead on the group that looked like it was going to go right back to its horseplay as soon as he was gone.
It only took a minute for the lazy floaty to make the full circle, and during that time Tony wondered how long he could get away with just staying in the pool, avoiding his assistant Pepper and the inevitability of the piles of paper in his office. He had just completed his circle as the brunet disappeared through the locker room doors, leaving enough space for his replacement to pass by him with a friendly nod.
As soon as Tony caught sight of the new lifeguard, though, he gasped and felt his footing give way. He slipped through the wings of his floaty and into the pool with a giant splash, arms waving dramatically. The sudden shock of water hit him in the face like a wall of ice, and Tony made another gasping breath to try to recover himself. But he was already underwater, and the intake of chlorinated pool water only sent him reeling further, flailing both his arms and his legs in an attempt to right himself and to get over the shock of being so quickly and unexpectedly submerged. It felt like minutes as he struggled to find purchase or surface in the water, but his feet finally hit the bottom and he pushed up with one last gasping breath as he managed to break the surface.
It was only after he caught his breath did he realize he was standing in water that was barely three feet deep, gasping and sputtering for air like he'd almost died and drawing the attention of everybody around him. And that included, of course, the lifeguard, who looked to be about three breaths away from jumping in the pool himself in order to make a daring and heroic save. Which wasn't great for Tony, who was still trying to take in the original image that had startled him so much.
The new lifeguard was a tall, muscular blond with so much to him that Tony wasn't really sure where to look. Sharply toned legs curved upwards and gently cupped the most beautifully shaped bottom Tony had ever seen, emphasized by the burst of red created by his standard-issue trunks. Tony had always assumed it was impossible for anybody to ever make that sort of uniform look good, but the evidence disproving his original theory was standing right in front of him, waving his ass around like a red flag.
But it was as the lifeguard turned around that Tony realized the front was at least as nice to look at as the back. His eyes were immediately drawn to the yellow polo . Even the collar seemed to be straining, revealing a delicious hint of skin and collarbone that was just begging Tony to drag his tongue across it. Tony's eyes followed that path, roving over where the fabric was pulled so obscenely tight across a pair of pecs it looked like it might burst, and down to where the shirt was just tight enough to reveal the beginnings of probably some of the most firm abdomens Tony had ever seen. He felt himself swallow hard as those abs strained under the material in fluid motion, and forced himself to look down before he could be tempted to make any more assessments. It was only as he finally pulled his eyes down to the water in front of him that he realized the lifeguard was actually speaking to him.
"Are you okay?" the man was asking, and Tony mentally shook himself from his thoughts and gathered his injured pride as best he could before putting on his brightest smile and laughing off the man's concern.
"I'm fine!" Tony called, "Just great. Why do you ask?"
The lifeguard looked mostly unconvinced, but Tony was too busy studying his face to care. Of course he was a damn blond, Tony always had to have a thing with blonds, with every hair in its proper place. He was squatting by the edge of the pool, affording Tony the closeness he needed to just see that the man's eyes were a sparkling blue, focused sharply on Tony as he assessed him for harm.
"Really," Tony insisted, stepping towards the edge of the pool as though to prove he was still functioning, "I'm fine. Name's Tony, I can count fingers, tell you my address, whatever you need to convince yourself, muscles."
The blond's eyes widened for just a moment at Tony's forwardness but then he laughed and relaxed his pose. "I'm Steve," he said, and hesitated with a half-outstretched hand before pulling it back in awkwardly, "And I just wanted to check. You looked like you breathed in a lot of water there."
"Maybe I'm part mermaid or something," Tony countered, "Because no harm done here. Don't even know what caused it, must have just slipped on the lining or something, you know how it can be with soggy feet." To emphasize, Tony let himself fall back onto his floaty with a whoosh of air and waves to show off his increasingly wrinkled feet. This got another chuckle out of Steve, and Tony decided that like everything else about the muscled blond, his laugh was something Tony wanted more of.
Steve also looked like he wanted to say more, but he was beginning to look uncomfortable in his position. Tony really couldn't blame him. As soon as Tony stood back up they were practically touching they had become so close, and the conversation had suddenly dropped, leaving an awkward silence. Additionally, the noise level around them was becoming louder and louder as the people around them returned to whatever rules they had been breaking before Steve's arrival. Steve was also apparently beginning to notice this, and moved to stand.
"Look, Tony, it was nice meeting you. But if you're really okay I've got to get back to watching the whole pool - " Steve said, looking hesitant to move but giving off a sense of urgency that had Tony grasping for a reason to keep the blond's attention. He didn't have much, because obviously he was okay beyond a slightly bruised ego and a terrible new crush, but he knew he needed to keep Steve talking to him if he wanted any sort of chance with the guy - and he did.
"I can't swim!"
The words were past his lips really before he could comprehend saying them, and Tony only just barely resisted the urge to throw his hands to cover his mouth. But it seemed to have worked, as Steve stopped mid-crouch and looked back to Tony expectantly.
Checking to make sure nobody else had either heard him or was looking now, Tony moved in closer to the blond.
"I can't swim, I just really startled myself, you know?"
Steve licked his lips pensively before moving forward a little himself.
"Tony, not knowing how to swim is nothing you need to be ashamed of," he responded quietly, "You don't need to hide it - and you probably shouldn't hide it from the lifeguards."
Tony tried to shrug nonchalantly, but Steve's blue eyes were boring into him with such concern and intent that Tony felt himself crumble a little. It was in that look that he suddenly had an idea that might make his outburst sound reasonable, and he felt himself grin a little.
"Actually," he said easily, "I was hoping to fix that pretty soon. You know, maybe get some lessons, not have to worry about it anymore. You don't happen to know anybody who could give those, do you?"
It wasn't like he really needed to be back at the office, anyway, and a few hours well-spent in the arms of the blond in front of him certainly seemed like an afternoon better spent. Hell, with the way Steve had been looking at him, Tony was pretty certain he could even wrangle in a date at the end of the day given he played his cards right. Steve seemed like the kind of guy who didn't like to be treated or paid but at the very least could be guilted into one thank you dinner, surely?
"The university offers lessons every week," Steve offered instead, and Tony's face fell with the blond's eagerness. Clearly he hadn't quite received the hint, so Tony moved forward.
"I'm not a student here," he pushed, "I was hoping for a little bit of help... you know, privately." He briefly grimaced, because that sounded like something out of a bad porno, but it seemed to do the trick, as Steve's eyes lit up and recognition dawned on his face.
"I guess I could teach you," he said quietly, "If you're more interested in learning in a one-on-one environment." Tony smiled and nodded, because yes that's exactly right , but Steve continued speaking before he could give a verbal agreement, "But we would have to it in the evening, when the pools are mostly empty. If you're interested, of course."
It wasn't exactly what Tony had in mind, but it wasn't a no , either. Meeting in the evening meant that it might take a little longer than Tony had planned but it also meant a little more time with lifeguard McHottie. It also meant they would be mostly alone, and while the actual evening he had intended didn't involve a sensual backstroke, it wasn't too far off.
"Sure, big guy," Tony finally agreed, cocking his eyebrow at his now grinning swim instructor, "You got it. When did you want to meet for the lesson?"
Steve looked more eager now that the possibility of him being an instructor was becoming more real, and he sat back to think before responding. "What if we started tomorrow evening? You can meet me here around nine and I think we can get just enough in before the pool closes. Then we can figure out when else to meet once or twice a week until you've got it."
The blond immediately began rattling off days and times that he was available while counting off on his fingers and Tony found himself losing focus because, "Wait, once or twice a week ?" he asked. Steve, who had directed his gaze upwards in an attempt to remember his own personal calendar, looked back to Tony with a slightly confused expression before nodding.
"Swimming's not going to come instantly, Tony," he replied, "It takes time, and practice. I know you're going to want to swim instantly, but it may be a lengthy process. I'm willing to stick it out with you if you're willing."
Tony stared hard at Steve for a moment, considering. On the one hand, blurting that he couldn't swim had probably been one of the biggest lies he'd told to date (which was also a lie, but why break a streak when you're on one). It was only a matter of time before he let slip that he actually could swim and then he'd be dealing with Steve's disappointment. It was also a major blow to his ego to imagine flailing around in the water like he hadn't been trained by champion swimmers for most of his life. On the other hand, there was a pair of big blue eyes trained on him that were attached to the nicest body he'd had the opportunity to rub against in a long time. If it really was just a matter of faking a skill for a short while before he charmed the blond then it might be worth it. After all, it wasn't like he'd have to continue the lie forever, or for anyone other than Steve, right? "Deal," he said finally, taking Steve's hand in a resolute handshake, "I'm willing."