“What about,” Tony says, “no, JARVIS here me out. What if, we, what if I just like, take him-” Tony stretches his arms out and makes a scooping motion, as if picking someone up and bringing them to his chest, “yeah what if I take him. And I-” He pushes his arms out to one side. “I just put him in a museum. The Smithsonian? They seem like they would take him. Yeah, I could just put him there and he’ll feel right at home because everything else is old like him. What is he, like 90? When’s his birthday? Granted not everything in there will—”
"I mean, it’s been years since I’ve been to a museum but don’t they always have some sort of ancient civilization section? Okay, yeah, I think he’s ancient but—”
"Sir—" JARVIS’s words were louder this time but that’s okay, Tony’s an expert at ignoring people and JARVIS hasn’t got anywhere near his max ignoring decibel level yet.
"Yeah, I think this could work. I’ll just have Pepper call them and set it up. Sure, it’ll cost them quite a bit to feed the guy, fuck knows he eats a lot, but they’ll definitely make more than enough to cover it and—"
"Sir!" And oh, there it is. No more decibels.
"What, JARVIS," Tony snaps. "This is it. This is the only idea I have left. I mean, we already decided a time-traveling DeLorean was decades away, a TARDIS wasn’t actually possible - and really let’s not bring that up again because there was enough heartbreak the first time - and hot tubs most definitely do not function as time machines in any universe!”
Tony clasped his hands behind his back and swiveled on his heel, away from his workbench to setup a brisk pace back-and-forth.
"Of course, the ideal situation is to get him to want to just stay here. But why the hell would he want that?" He absently reaches out a hand to pet DUM-E, who had at some point taken up pacing with him. "Everyone he loves is gone. All that’s left are a bunch of cynical assholes and nosy government agencies and people with loose morals and even looser—"
Tony screeches to a halt (okay that may actually be DUM-E making the screeching but the effect is the same nonetheless) and slowly turns his head.
Steve is standing in the doorway to his workshop, a mug in each hand and a weird thing on his face. Tony tilts his head and squints a little and realizes the little upturn to Steve’s lips and crinkle at the corner of his eye is the beginnings of a smile.
"Steve," Tony says blankly. He blinks, then shakes his head. "Uh, I mean, Steve! What are you doing here?"
"Thought you could use some coffee," Steve says, stepping forward and proffering one mug. "Seeing as how you worked through the night again."
"Indeed, sir. It is currently 7:42am."
Tony takes the mug and looks back up at Steve only to find something had seemingly caught his attention. He follows his gaze down, then pulls his arm back like its been burned as he realizes Steve had been staring at Tony stroking one of DUM-E’s struts. Staring and smirking.
"What’s its name?" Steve asks before lifting his own mug to his lips.
Tony frowns, glances down at the stupid bot that is now reaching towards Steve for its petting fix. Steve seems equal parts amused and curious though and gently pokes at its arm.
"DUM-E," Tony says, wondering why that was so hard for him to do.
Steve’s head shoots up, eyebrows squeezed together. “Hey, I was just asking, you don’t have to—”
"No, that’s his—that’s its name. See?" and he points at the little name scratched into one side by an angry young man with far too many things to feel and nowhere to put them.
"Ohhh," Steve says and it looks like there’s so much more he wants to say but he seems to swallow it back. Instead he takes his hand back (much to DUM-E’s displeasure) and turns around to face the rest of the workshop. Tony shoves his hands in his pocket, feeling absurdly self-conscious about the posters on the wall, the burn marks over every surface, the grease mixed in with the scattered piles of scraps.
Steve just looks around for a moment and there’s a strange silence that Tony is unwilling to break. Finally Steve looks back. There’s an expression on his face that wasn’t there before and Tony’s not sure what he’s seen in his mess of a workshop but wow it must have been something.
"It’s enough, you know," Steve says quietly
Tony blinks. “I…what?”
"This." Steve spreads his arm out, careful not to slosh his coffee everywhere. "The future. Current day, I guess. I’m not sure—" He cuts himself off, turns back to Tony. "What I’m saying is, that’s why I’d stay. There’s en—" He takes a breath. "There’s Nat and there’s Sam and there’s Clint and there’s Bruce and there’s Thor and there’s, well…" His face twists up, just for a moment, then it falls back to before, his lips in that little half-smile and that knowing glint in his eye as he stares off into the distance at something. "I guess there’s Bucky," he says. And then his eyes shift over, catching on Tony’s. "And then there’s you."
It takes everything Tony has not to squeak out “me?” like a middle school weirdo getting asked to the dance (he vowed his voice would never go that high again). Instead he just waits and waits because one of the first things he learned about Steve is that he is oh so prone to speeches.
And sure enough - “Yeah, you.” Steve takes a step closer and suddenly there’s barely an inch between them and god Steve is tall, was he always this tall? (And were his eyes always so fucking blue?)
"You didn’t have to stay up all night, Tony." Steve’s face is so close that Tony can feel the words ghost over his skin, can almost taste the coffee on Steve’s breath.
"All you had to do," Steve says, and his eyes scan Tony’s face before his head dips that last inch and he whispers against Tony’s lips, "was this."
And that’s the first time Steve Rogers kisses Tony Stark.