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Blueberry Waffles and Fireworks

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Tony Stark knows how to do a lot of things. He knows how to repair any type of engine. He knows how to speak French and Japanese. He can do all sorts of math in his head, and he knows the best way to organize threesomes, foursomes, and moresomes. He knows how to turn almost every item in the kitchen into a bomb, and how to make the world's best blueberry waffles.

And even so, Steve Rogers still confuses him.

Not that Tony, being Tony, even noticed at first. It's understandable—he hasn't run into many things that he doesn't understand, and so Tony assumes that he understands everything by default. But now, with the arc reactor out of his chest and Pepper out of his bed (he discovered, much too late, that making a relationship last with his the gorgeous CEO of his company after she saved his life was one of the rare things that he did not know how to do) he has time to realize it.

He had, before this, thought that he had only disliked the super soldier. There are plenty of reasons why Tony hates Steve, from old childhood grudges to their different ideas on pretty much everything. But there are also other things, other feelings that now fleet around the edges of Tony's consciousness.

He realizes it at 2:16 AM, in the workshop of the Avengers tower. He has grease stains on his Ramones t shirt from working on his latest project, and Jarvis has been reading him the SHIELD files that Natasha leaked two days ago. He's the reason they started trending on Twitter.

"Jarvis, pause," Tony says suddenly, as he sets down the screwdriver. He waves a bruised hand in what he assumes to be Jarvis' general direction, or at least the general direction he's envisioning Jarvis in this moment. It's behind him, to the right. He has bruises on his hand from dropping heavy pieces of machinery, because his coordination always takes a dive when he's been up for over twenty four hours.

Almost a year since New York, and—

"How long have I had a crush on Sleeping Beauty?"

There was a pause, and Tony pictures Jarvis wrinkling his nose. "I assume you mean Captain Rogers, sir? Or do you mean the Disney character?"

"Rogers, Jarvis."

"And what parameters should I use to determine this crush? Shall I date it back to before New York, when you were up until four in the morning watching old Captain America footage? Or would you like to know the exact number of times you've mentioned him since then? I am also able to access the photo of you dressed as Captain America for Halloween when you were ten."

Tony pinches the bridge of his nose. "So a while, then."

"You are as precise as ever, sir."

"And you never thought to say anything?" He goes from pinching his nose to rubbing his eyes, feeling the smudges from his hands transferring to his face.

"We thought," and then Jarvis pauses. "We thought you'd be happier with Miss Potts, sir."

At the mention of a we, a few other robots whirr apologetically.

Tony looks at Dummy and frowns. "Even you?"

Dummy rolls off into a corner, into a self inflicted time out. Tony only pauses for a second before he claps his hand together. "New plan," he declares, spreading his arms wide. "We're going to woo the Capsicle."

"Sir, this may not be the right time—"

"What? Just because SHIELD fell apart and he's busy chasing his brainwashed best friend? Yeah, probably. But what the hell? Let's do it anyway. Pepper went on a date recently, right? With what's his face."

"I think Miss Potts going on a date is different than you trying to seduce Captain Rogers."

"Start a new document," Tony orders, "to track my progress: The Seduction of Steve Rogers. Now I just need to find a way to talk to him."

Jarvis sighs. "Captain Rogers will be here in seventeen hours and forty six minutes with Sam Wilson, to pick up the new flight suit you've been working on."

"Well I'll be damned." Tony looks down at the nearly completed flight suit at his work station—made to the specifications Sam had sent along two days before, with a couple of Tony's own additions. Right, that's why he hasn't slept.

Tony stares at the flight suit, as if contemplating how it got there. He only vaguely remembers building most of it. "Right," he says to Jarvis, "that's right. Maybe… Maybe I should get some sleep."

"Shall I set an alarm, sir?"

"Yeah." Tony stands up and stretches, winching at the pain in his neck, in his shoulders. He shuffles over to the cot he keeps in the corner of the workshop—he hasn't seen his proper bed in over a week. He kicks off his shoes and slumps down into the cot. "Gimme six hours."

"Very well, sir."

The lights dim, and Tony falls right asleep.

 

The first time Tony tries to flirt with Steve, it doesn't go well at all.

They're on the roof of the Avengers Tower, waiting as Sam does a test flight of the new wings. Tony had finished it after waking up, and had even taken a shower and put on clean clothes. The last time he had tried to flirt with someone, that was all it had taken.

It turns out Steve's a bit harder of a sell.

"You sure you don't need anything?" Tony asks, smiling his winning smile. "I can whip up anything you need. Communicators? Tablet? Sex toys?"

He means it to be funny, but Steve just frowns.

"I've got all I need right here, thanks." He pats his shield that he has holstered over his shoulder, despite the fact that he's in street clothes.

The curve of his jaw makes Tony lick his lips. He wants to lick that jaw. So he says, "I have no idea how you use that shield as a sex toy. Maybe when you're done playing hide and seek with Iron Maiden maybe you can come back and show me?"

Steve raises a blond eyebrow. "Do you even listen to yourself when you talk?"

Sam drops back down on the rooftop just as Steve says that. "What's he said now?" Sam asks, lifting up his goggles.

"Just assaulting the good captain's virtue, Bird Boy." Tony gives a small shrug, still smiling.

Steve's phone rings, and he mumbles something about Natasha before answering the phone and walking off to another part of the roof.

"You've got it bad for him, don't you?" Sam asks, and it's so sudden that it makes Tony's façade falter. That makes Sam laugh. "You're about as obvious as a neon sign."

Tony looks down at his beat up running shoes, and kicks some of the gravel on the roof. But the self-consciousness only lasts for about two seconds. He looks over at Steve, to admire his ass in those jeans and to make sure that he's still busy on the phone, and then says, "Yeah, okay, I do. You gonna try to tell me it's a bad idea?"

Sam just shrugs. "You, mister genius? I'm not going to try to tell you anything. I go where he goes, but I'm not going to tell you what to do with him." Now it's Sam who looks over to see that Steve is still on the phone. "But I do know that he's lonely. Natasha knows it, too. It could be good for him. But I gotta say, your timing is shit."

"So I've been told. But I guess this means I can count on you as my—"

"Don't you dare say it—"

"Wing man."

Sam leans forward and punches Tony in the shoulder. Tony knows it's meant to be playful, but he doesn't have time to brace himself for the hit and so he stumbles back.

That's the moment that Steve comes back, phone call finished.

Sam and Tony both look at Steve, like children caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

Steve looks at both of them. "You know what? I'm not going to ask. I'm sure he deserved it."

"Yeah," Tony counters, crossing his arms and wrinkling his nose, "just see if I'll keep making you tech if you keep that up, Feathers."

 

Two weeks later, and Tony has been keeping up with everything Sam and Steve have been doing via monitoring the news, hacking police reports, and texting Sam, who is listed in Tony's contacts as Wing Man.

You been saying nice things about me? Tony texts, as the conversation of tracking down traces of Winter Soldier in the Colorado Rockies winds down. There is a possibility of the Winter Soldier visiting a Hydra base there which, in Tony's opinion, was a hell of a lot better place to put one than New Jersey.

Oh, you know it. So many nice things that you won't mind that we're dropping by in three days to get my wings looked at. Top priority.

Tony is in the kitchen when he gets that text, haphazardly cooking eggs and bacon in the same pan after Jarvis reminded him that eating was a thing that even Tony Stark had to do, at least every once in a while.

He beams. It's not like he has much else going on, anyway. With SHIELD gone and Pepper taking control the way she always does, the way she's so good at, Tony's been free to tinker in his workshop uninterrupted.

"Jarvis," Tony calls out, moving the eggs around in the pan with a spatula before flipping the bacon, "we have three days to form a plan of attack."

"Why not just try blatant sexual advances, sir? That worked so well last time."

"Very funny," Tony deadpans back. "But at least you took notes. Gotta start somewhere, right? Now, help me come up with something, or I'm changing your voice to sound like the robot from Portal—and not the girl one."

"Very well, sir."

 

The three days pass, and Tony comes up with something great. Or rather, he comes up with something out of the frustration of not coming up with anything and then can't be happier with the results, the way all great inventions happen.

He has the gift—two parts, one in each pocket of his worn jeans—ready to give to Steve the moment Sam takes off on his test flight. The same test flight that Tony may have pleaded for Sam to make a little longer than necessary, not that he would ever admit to that.

"So I know you said you didn't need anything," Tony blurts out, before Steve can make the whole conversation about things like business and Hydra and missions, "but I made you something anyway."

Steve, who looks much the same as the last time Tony saw him, except for a different t shirt and a bruise on his right cheek, says, "Tony." It's all Steve says, and it sounds both disapproving and mildly interested.

Tony chooses to focus on the fact that he hears mild interest in Steve's voice, and not the overwhelming sense of disappointment at Tony's blatant disregard for what Steve said last time. He doesn't want someone that gorgeous to be disappointed in him, knows he can't handle it, not when he's this excited. "No, no, it's not competition for your over-sized Frisbee, it's, well," Tony reaches into the pocket on his right side and pulls out what he has for Steve.

It's an mp3 player, sleek and black, with ear buds wrapped around it. Steve takes it, slowly.

"It's a music player, it—"

"I know what an iPod is, Tony," Steve chastises, still looking at the mp3 player and not at him.

"Okay first off, I built this one, so it's not an iPod. Unless my company's logo magically transformed into an apple—you know what, never mind. Yes, it's an iPod. I didn't know how much music you've been able to appreciate since thawing out, so I thought I'd help. You know, make sure you hear the important stuff."

"Important stuff?" Steve says back, raising an eyebrow like there's nothing Tony could listen to that is worth calling important. Steve's said as much before.

"You know," Tony says again, a go to phrase that he uses to fill space because he is so sure that Steve does not know, "Sex Pistols, The Clash, Ramones, bands like that. Punk!" He smiles at that last word, but it falters when Steve puts the mp3 player in his pocket.

"You'll want to listen to God Save the Queen first—it's in my notes." Tony reaches into his other pocket, and pulls out a small book, Pocket History of Punk, and hands that over to Steve as well. "I made some of my own notes, but yeah, this should explain all the political stuff."

"This is that noise you listen to, isn't it?" Steve asks. He takes the book and puts it into his pocket without opening it.

Tony's face falls when he sees that. He spent a lot of time working on those notes, especially the ones on the first few pages. But instead of whining about how Steve could have at least opened the book, he says, "well, yeah, there is also some AC DC on here, but c'mon. Just, give it a try, okay?"

They spend the rest of the time before Sam gets back talking about everything Tony doesn’t want to talk about: business.

"That went well, sir," Jarvis says when Sam and Steve have left.

"You think so?"

"Data would indicate that you will have better luck with Captain Rogers if you avoid crass remarks and instead opt for heartfelt gestures."

Tony groans and tugs at his hair, because he knows it's true, and he knows that the fact that he's willing to keep trying with heartfelt gestures is a sign of just how screwed he really is.

 

Two days later, and Tony is in his bathroom, screaming.

"Jesus fuck Natasha, warn a guy next time."

She had just appeared there, leaning against the door frame and blocking his way into his bedroom. Tony hadn’t been prepared, and he had screamed. Loudly.

Natasha had only raised an eyebrow in response.

"I'm only running on a real heart now, remember?" Tony gestures to the mottled latticework of scars in the center of his chest, dark and uneven but all skin, no metal.

Natasha looks at Tony's chest, but says nothing. In the silence, Tony adjusts the red towel around his waist, not feeling bashful but threatened. He's seen Natasha throw knives before. It takes a moment of looking at her to realize that the black skinny jeans and leather jacket aren't her Black Widow suit, but her street clothes. It doesn't make Tony feel any better.

"You've been flirting with Steve," she says eventually. It's a statement, and it's not an apology.

"Is that the gossip around the water cooler?" Tony asks, looking into the mirror and messing up his hair, then adding product so that it will dry in that just-sexed way. He does his best to make his hands stop shaking as he does so. "You couldn't have just sent me a text about this?"

"I had to be sure of it myself."

Tony tries to move past her into his bedroom, and Natasha lets him. He knows she did because if the Black Widow didn't want Tony Stark, armored in only a plush bath towel, to get past, he wouldn't have. "So now you know. What now?" he asks, going over to his closet to dig out a pair of jeans from one of the nearly hundred pairs that he has. "You going to tell me to back off? You wanna be the only star to spangle his banner? And how did you even get in here, anyway? Jarvis!"

"As an Avenger, sir, Agent Romanov has unlimited access to the Avengers Tower."

"How about next time, we make unlimited not include my bathroom?"

"Stark."

Tony, who has retrieved a pair of jeans (dark wash, minimal holes) and a shirt (The Who) from his closet and has been walking over to a dresser to get a pair of boxers, stops in his tracks. And then, standing in only a towel in front of Natasha, Tony gets all of what she knows of Steve's dating history.

He knows most of it from the SHIELD files. What the SHIELD files didn't say, however, was how hard Natasha has tried to hook Steve up with just about anyone—anyone female.

"Are you trying to say that he doesn’t swing this way? I don't know how much you know about my personal history, but that usually isn't an issue for me." Tony wiggles his eyebrows at her.

Natasha hums. "I'm not saying that. I'm saying that he needs someone. He's lonely. It's an occupational hazard." She touches the necklace she's wearing, the necklace with the charm in the shape of an arrow. "One I was hoping he could avoid."

Tony, who had chosen the moment Natasha started talking about Steve needing someone to start changing, looks up at Natasha. He has boxers on, and his pants halfway up. "Is this your creepy spy way of giving me your blessing?" Tony pulls up the jeans and does them up, before slipping the t shirt on.

Suddenly Natasha is right in front of him, one hand on his throat and the other on his arm. "It's my way of reminding you," Natasha says slowly, right into Tony's ear, "Of exactly how many ways I know how to kill a man with my bare hands. If you hurt Steve, I will hurt you. This is a threat."

"Yes ma'am," Tony says, gasping when Natasha lets go of him and steps back. "I assure you," Tony goes on to say when he has his breath back, "That other than totally wanting to fuck him so hard he can't remember the national anthem, my intentions are totally honorable."

Natasha smiles. It's barely there, in the corners of her mouth, but Tony sees it.

 

It’s almost July when Sam and Steve find the Winter Soldier.

From the details Tony gleaned, they found him after a failed suicide attempt, half-drowned and with his metal arm ripped off. Most of the details come from Sam, who through near constant texting and occasional wing repair sessions became close friends with Tony.

There have been near constant attempts at flirting as well, whenever Tony is anywhere near Steve. But if Steve made any note of them, he didn’t seem to care.

Since there's no more SHIELD or Triskellion, Sam and Steve ask if they can bring Bucky back to the Avengers Tower and of course Tony agrees. He personally flies the jet out to the remote part of Idaho where they found Bucky, and fights every curious bone in his body to stay in the cockpit as they load up and take off.

As emotionally dense as he can be, Tony knows he can add nothing to this situation right now other than transportation and a safe house.

It's just about three in the morning when they land at the tower, and pouring rain in a way uncharacteristic of Manhattan in July, but fitting for the scene. When they're inside, Steve helps Bucky to the room Tony designed for Steve without saying anything.

"Is that how it is?" Tony asks, stomach feeling like the Hulk just punched it.

"I have no idea how it is, man," Sam commiserates, clapping a hand on Tony's shoulder. "They go way back. It could just be a way back thing. Or a suicide prevention thing." There's a pause, and Sam slowly takes his hand off Tony's shoulder. "All I know is that I'm not sleeping in there with them."

Tony looks at Sam. Sam, whose jacket is soaking wet from the rain, who has a few visible bruises and probably more that Tony can't see because he doesn't have the healing factor that Steve does, and who even now is trying to make Tony feel better despite the fact that Sam probably wants nothing more to do than to go to sleep.

Tony has no idea what to say to convey the sense of gratitude he feels for everything Sam has done. He hasn't had much practice dealing with someone, anyone, like Sam. So instead Tony asks, "you wanna use Thor's bedroom?"

Sam's eyes go wide. "You mean, do I want to sleep in a bedroom you designed to accommodate a god? Hell yeah, man. Lead the way."

Tony does.

Sam, suitably tired and impressed, passes out on the king size bed without even taking off his shoes.

It takes Tony about a minute after leaving Sam's room to realize he won't get any sleep himself, not with the possibility that the captain of his affection is currently screwing a suicidal ex-assassin. So he doesn't head to his bedroom. Instead, Tony goes down to the kitchen to make some coffee, with the plan of bringing the entire pot down to the workshop and continuing to work on something until he passes out on the cot.

Except that the light is already on in his kitchen, and there is a one-armed, scruffy man in nothing but navy sweat pants standing in front of his refrigerator, staring at it like it holds the answers to the secrets of the universe.

"Can I help you?" Tony asks, loudly, wanting to make his presence known. No way in hell is he accidentally sneaking up on the Winter Soldier, no matter what state he's in.

The reaction from Bucky is predictably fast. He slams the fridge door shut, grabs the closest thing he can—a plastic spatula Tony had left on the counter earlier—and thrusts it towards Tony like a weapon. "Who are you?"

Tony can't help it. He laughs, and from the look on Bucky's face, it's not the reaction he usually gets when he threatens someone. "Okay, Elsa. Put the spatula down before you hurt yourself. I'm Tony Stark, you know, the one who owns this building. Nice to meet you," he adds, but doesn't move to offer a handshake. It seems polite, since Bucky's only arm is currently busy threatening Tony.

Bucky scrutinizes Tony, eyes narrowing, and making Tony feel like he's being judged like an elementary school science fair exhibit. He doesn't put down the spatula. When Bucky does speak, it's slow and clear, deliberate, with just a hint of an accent. "So you're the guy Steve was talking about. Huh. I thought you'd be prettier."

"Steve talks about me?" Tony asked, grinning. "And hey, I'm gorgeous. There are, like, multiple magazine polls that say so. But, wait, what has he been saying about me?"

"How about," Bucky says, turning the spatula around in his hand to offer it, handle out, to Tony, "you make me something to eat, and then I tell you what he's been saying about you. Deal?"

Tony takes a moment to consider what may be the strangest barter he's ever been a part of: cook breakfast in the middle of the night for a suicidal ex-assassin in exchange for information on what another super soldier has been saying about him. Strange, but definitely worth it. Tony takes the spatula. "How do you feel about eggs, bacon, and blueberry waffles?"

It turns out, half an hour later, that Bucky is very fond of eggs, bacon, and blueberry waffles—enough to keep Tony almost constantly cooking. Bucky sits on a stool at the island in the kitchen, with Tony nearly constantly refilling his coffee mug and his plate. Tony eats while he waits for Bucky's waffles to finish cooking in the waffle maker, stirring the eggs and bacon occasionally, glad that he stocked the kitchen up to handle to super-sized metabolisms.

Steve, it turns out, mentioned Tony once, very briefly, but according to Bucky Steve is smitten. Somehow, though, they got off the topic of Steve and on to the topic of past conquests. Tony makes it very clear at the start of the discussion that all conquests were part of a past life, since, well, he is trying to get with Bucky's best friend.

Bucky, it turns out, more than understands the concept of a past life.

And so they eat blueberry waffles and swap stories of old flames, horrible dates, and the weirdest things that girls have ever said to them.

"This dame had me convinced for months that she had a twin sister," Bucky says, gesturing wildly with his one arm before picking his fork back up and inhaling half a waffle in one chomp.

"No way."

"Turns out," Bucky went on, speaking through a mouthful of waffle, "she was just messing with me. Had some sort of bet with her girlfriends about how long I would fall for it." Bucky leans in closer to Tony, who had finally stopped making waffles and had sat at the island next to Bucky. "But hey, I got to sleep with her as both twins, so I ain't complaining."

Tony cackles and claps Bucky on the armless-shoulder before he can think better of it. Bucky laughs as well, doesn't seem the mind the touch, and it's great. Tony and Bucky have more in common than Tony knew, and neither of them notice the fact that sunlight has begun streaming through the kitchen windows.

They don’t notice until Steve comes into the kitchen, blond hair going a million different ways. Steve yawns, but stops when he sees Tony sitting next to Bucky.

"Stevie," Bucky says, smiling and waving. "Sit down. Eat some waffles!"

"Waffles?" Steve asks as he sits down. There's no food left on the counter.

"I think I can whip up some more," Tony offers, standing up. "But we're all out of blueberries."

He and Bucky crack up at that, both remembering the time around five in the morning where Tony spent half a carton of blueberries flinging them towards Bucky's mouth, because thanks to his assassin reflexes, Bucky could catch every single one of them between his teeth. It had been hilarious, still is hilarious, though Steve looks confused.

"I think," Steve says, "I'm going to need some coffee, too."

 

Bucky, they decide later that day, needs a new arm. Tony knows just the team to put it together. Or at least, he knows just the person to help him, because that's still as much team as Tony can really handle.

That's how he ends up flying Bruce Banner back to the tower, after many frantic and pleading text messages. Tony explains the situation more fully once he has Bruce in the jet, the jet he promises he has a million more of in case something happens and Bruce loses it. They pretend like the cost of the jet is the only worry Bruce has, and that it's not Tony's safety, as Tony sprawls in the back of the plane with Bruce, letting autopilot do some of the work.

"I'm glad you agreed to this," Tony says, and he means it. He smiles at Bruce, all teeth and crinkled eyes. "Really."

Bruce fidgets with his glasses, but still smiles back at Tony. "Yeah, well this way I don't have to send Steve a birthday card, do I?"

"Wait, what?" Tony's mouth falls open. "Birthday?"

There's a pause, a long moment where the only noise is the humming of the engines.

"You're not the only one who gets to have those, you know," Bruce teases gently. "Captain America's birthday is the fourth of July. I thought you knew that? Everyone knows that. It's on the back of the trading cards?"

Tony can't believe it. For as much of a fan as he was of Captain America as he was when he was younger, that one detail must have slipped his mind. He's not even sure he still has the old trading cards. He's also not sure why Jarvis didn't remind him, because, "that's two days from now!"

"Well how about this," Bruce says, "we can both sign this new arm we’re going to build for his best friend, and it can be a joint gift." Bruce giggles, nervous, the sort of awkward sound he makes when he makes a joke, or tries to make a joke.

That has Tony smiling again, and the gears in his head turning. "Yeah, okay. But I might do something else as well. Can't have him thinking that we're both trying to woo him."

"Trust me, Tony. He's all yours."

 

They finish the new arm on the Fourth of July, and present it at the birthday barbecue Tony threw together over a few text messages.

They're all on the roof, which Tony thinks is fitting, and Bucky is showing off his new, murder-free and red star-free metal arm. Bruce has a laptop in his lap and a veggie burger in his hand, as he sits in the shade and goes over the bio side of their bio-mechanical project—there are so many implications for prosthetics, Bruce and Tony had explained to Bucky, that they just had to take notes.

Clint is grilling and Natasha is drinking a beer and supervising the grilling. Sam is standing near by, flirting with Natasha, or Clint, or possibly both. Tony can't be sure.

It's a smaller, more intimate party that Tony is used to, and it makes him smile as he drinks his coke. He's hovering on the outskirts of Steve's vision, not wanting to talk to him just yet. He's been holed up in the lab with Bruce for the last few days, and the two of them haven't had a chance to talk since Bucky arrived.

Tony can't think of a good way to do it. Somehow Hey, remember how I was trying to charm my way into your spandex pants? Yeah, that's still a thing. doesn't seem like the best approach, even if it is the most honest. Heartfelt gestures, he reminds himself.

The day goes on, the burgers get eaten, and the cake comes out. It's a large, American flag sheet cake with sparklers instead of candles, since, as Tony explained, putting that many candles on a cake would just ruin the cake. The sparklers burn out and Tony cuts the cake, giving the first piece to Steve and the second to Bucky.

It's a vanilla cake with—

"Blueberry frosting!" Bucky exclaims, smiling. There's frosting on his mouth, and half his piece of cake is already gone.

"Hell yeah," Tony agrees, and earns a high five from Bucky's non-metal arm as Bucky goes for a second slice of cake.

The interaction also makes Steve look over at Tony, and there in the twilight the catch each others' eyes for the first time all day. Steve looks Tony in the eyes and smiles a soft smile. "It's great," Steve says, looking at Tony as he says it, before breaking the eye contact to take a bite of cake.

They eat cake, sing happy birthday, and wait for the sun to go down further because, "I swear you're gonna wanna see this," Tony promises, as he shovels another piece of cake into his mouth.

And true to his word, it's a fantastic show. A couple called-in favors and a decent chunk of money means that the Avengers Tower has the best view of the best fireworks show in Manhattan. Bucky told Tony a little too purposefully when they were working on the arm that Steve always loved the fireworks on the Fourth. It was something to look forward to that neither of them had to pay for.

And Tony himself is so caught up in the spectacle that he almost doesn’t notice that Steve has slipped closer to him, close enough that he can wrap his arm around Tony's waist.

Tony doesn’t look up. He keeps his eyes on the fireworks, and instead shuffles a little closer to Steve. This close, he can smell whatever cologne it is that Steve wears, along with the faint smell of sweat, and its intoxicating. Tony leans his head against Steve's shoulder and resists the urge to nuzzle.

"The big finish," Tony says, "is gonna be the best part."

"Is that so," Steve says, tightening his grip around Tony.

Tony shivers despite the warmth of the night.

And then the finale happens. It's the same as usual at first, fireworks going off at rapidly increasing intervals, lighting up the sky as if the sun is still shining. And then, after a brief pause, it happens. Fireworks in the perfect shape, at the perfect velocity, to create a giant Captain America shield in the sky.

Despite the booming of the fireworks, Tony can hear Steve gasp.

"Happy birthday, Cap," Tony says, moving his head so he can look up at Steve.

He gets about half a second of looking up at Steve before Steve is kissing him. And then about a second after that, as the fireworks fade, the rest of the party starts their catcalls.

Bucky's are the loudest.

"Get a room," Clint grouses, though from the way he, Sam, and Natasha are standing, Tony might not be the only one needing to get a room soon.

"That's not a bad idea," Steve replies, pulling away from Tony. "How about it, Stark?" Steve asks, and it's a challenge low and soft, just for his ears. "Want to show me where your bedroom is?"

 

They somehow manage to make it to Tony's bedroom without an incident, or without kissing again. Tony's entire body feels like it's buzzing, and he keeps running his tongue over his lips, still feeling and tasting the sudden kiss.

Even though Tony is leading, Steve has one arm around Tony and his hand in Tony's back pocket, calmly kneading his ass through the thick fabric but making no other indication of what they're—hopefully—about to go do.

They arrive at Tony's bedroom and Tony pushes open the door. "So this is it," he says. They enter and Steve shuts the door behind Tony. "I don't normally sleep here, though, normally I'm—"

"Tony."

"Yeah?"

"Shut up."

"Yeah okay. I can do that. I can be quiet, I can—"

Before Tony can prove how quiet he can be, Steve is kissing him again, and Tony is all about that. Steve's arms go around his waist, and Tony has no choice but to put his arms around Steve's neck, holding him close.

And it must have been a cue that Steve was waiting on, because the moment it happens he kneels down, moving his arms to support Tony so that he can pick him up. Tony hold on tighter, wraps his legs around Steve's waist, and moans.

He's half hard from that alone. Tony moves to mouth at Steve's neck, trying to catch his breath. His efforts earn a small, strangled noise from Steve, and then a quiet hiss when Tony bites just a little too hard. And then Steve's moving them forward, towards the bed, and Tony's talking again.

"How do you want to do this, birthday boy?" he asks, once Steve has them both down on the bed. Tony's grinding shamelessly on the leg Steve put between his, and instead of dwelling on how long it's been since he's done anything like this, he talks again. "It's up to you, since it's your birthday and all but—"

"You're infuriating," Steve says, swooping down to latch his mouth on to Tony's neck and damn does that feel good. Tony moans, and Steve keeps talking in between bites. "Do you know how distracting it was, with you finally realizing it right when I had to go find Bucky?"

"Wait, wait," Tony says, "realizing what?"

Steve pulls back, looks down at Tony, and sighs. "I like you, Tony." He looks down at the way they're laying on the bed. "I thought that was obvious."

There's a choice to be made here, and Tony knows it. He knows they should sit and talk about this like adults. But he also knows that he is half hard, and most likely has a hickey on his neck left by Captain freaking America.

"If I blow you, will that make up for it?"

And even though all the data collected up till now says that he should have chosen (a) heartfelt gesture and not (b) crass remark, the way that Steve's eyes darken at the question makes Tony think that he might be able to get away with it just this once.

"It's a start," Steve says, and then they're both pulling off each other's clothes, can't get naked fast enough, and somehow as the clothes go flying Steve ends up sitting on the bed, back against the headboard.

Tony crawls in between Steve's legs, and Steve spreads them further apart to accommodate him. Steve's watching him, hands at his sides, grabbing the bed sheets as if he's not sure what else to do with his hands.

"Happy birthday to me," Tony announces, as his eyes look up and down Steve's length. Steve's fully hard, his cock thrusting out straight and anchored in a thatch of blonde hair. It's gorgeous, perfectly sculpted like the rest of him.

"You just gonna look at it?" Steve asks, managing to sound both demanding and apprehensive at the same time.

"You're lucky it's your birthday," Tony shoots back, before leaning down. He's on his knees and he has to move down, move back, to be half lying on his stomach and half propped up on his elbows. He maneuvers himself so that he can hold the base of Steve's cock in his right hand, holds it steady, and takes the tip of it in his mouth.

Steve whimpers as Tony works the head of his cock slowly, wetly, as if they have all the time in the world. He's out of practice, too—he can feel the way his throat tightens up against the idea of taking any more of Steve in his mouth. Not that it stops Tony from trying, from breathing in through his nose and trying to relax his throat so that he can move his mouth further down Steve's cock, if only to hear the breathy noises Steve makes when Tony does so.

"Tony," Steve breaths out, and finally one of those huge hands goes to grip the back of Tony's head, tangling fingers in his hair before relaxing slightly. It's okay, Tony wants to say, but he's more concerned with sucking Steve's cock and so he does that instead, moving up and down and working up a rhythm that has Steve's thighs shuddering and the hand in Tony's hair pulling hard.

"Tony," he says again, and the tone is different this time, more of a whine, more demanding. "Tony, stop."

Tony pulls off Steve's cock as soon as he hears the word stop, making a lewd popping noise. He moves his tongue around in his mouth, tasting the slightly bitter flavor of Steve still in his mouth.

"No good?" he asks, because then damn he is more out of practice than he thought he was.

Steve makes a frustrated noise. "Too good," he clarifies, and for a brief second Tony wonders how many blow jobs Steve has ever had, or if he's just humoring Tony, but the when Steve says, "but all I want right now is for you to get up here and ride me," Tony decides he really doesn't care.

Tony lunges for the bedside table, looking for lube and condoms and muttering about how he was so on board with that plan. He grabs a condom packet and a plastic bottle of lube, tosses the condom in Steve's general direction and then focuses on opening himself up.

He's not as far gone as Steve is, he's too much in his own head, but kneeling, leaning back on his heels and fucking himself on one and then two slicked up fingers is definitely changing that. Normally Tony would take it slower, put on a show, but he's too desperate for that tonight. It's too messy, and he can feel lube slipping off his fingers and dripping on to the sheets.

But he can also feel the slow burn of it all, the way his body remembers what this is like, and he's looking up at the ceiling and trying not to moan when Steve grabs for him, pulls him up the bed and kisses him, a hard, bruising kiss.

"Tony, please."

"Yeah, baby," Tony says, slicking up Steve's cock with more lube, trying not to touch to much. Steve's breath hitches anyway, still sensitive even with the condom on.

Everything quiet to the point where Tony can hear the blood rushing in his hears when he positions himself over Steve, who's holding the base of his cock steady as Tony positions himself and then, finally, moves down.

Steve's head lolls back as Tony moves down, and sucks in breath and bites his bottom lip at the burning stretch of it. He bites back the urge to say something that sounds like it's from a bad porno, something about how big Steve is and how full he feels, even if it's fucking true.

And then he's all the way down. Steve's staring down at where Tony's fully impaled on his cock, his mouth half open, and for a brief moment Tony wonders if he could come from just that. He curses instead, doesn't know what else to say.

"Move, please. You gotta move."

The plea snaps Tony back to the reality of the moment, the fact that he has Captain fucking America's giant cock inside him and he's going to ride him because god damn it's his birthday, he's born on the fucking fourth of July and how the hell is it even possible for someone's cock to feel this good?

Only when Steve moans, loudly, does Tony realize he had been saying all of that out loud.

He's moving at a brutal pace now, can't get enough of the way Steve feels moving in and out of him. Steve's thrusting back too, hands gripping Tony's hips in ways that are sure to leave fingerprint shaped bruises. And then it's too much, and his orgasm hits, ruining the rhythm and covering Steve's stomach with come.

Steve's not far behind, moaning and fucking up into Tony in an erratic pace. He moans as he comes, holding Tony, his body shaking.

They take a moment to breath, and then Tony's pulling himself off Steve and flopping on the bed, stomach down. It's rude, he knows, to leave Steve to clean himself up, but Tony can't bring himself to care. He can barely bring himself to breath.

The mattress shifts and Tony can feel Steve getting up. There are the familiar noises of someone in the bathroom, of running water and rustling towels. And then there's the feeling of a cool towel on the back of his neck.

"Mmm," Tony says, grabbing the towel as he rolls over on to his back. He uses it to wipe his face, then his crotch, before dropping it off the bed onto the floor. "Thanks."

"I was wondering when you'd come around," Steve says, sitting back down on the bed. He sits next to Tony, crossed legged, and cards his fingers through Tony's sweaty hair. "Took you long enough. Or," he adds, after a beat, "is this just a birthday thing?"

"What do you want, Rogers, a ring?" Tony stretches, but doesn't get up.

"You gonna give me one?" Steve asks, and Tony looks up at him.

"I'm not exactly the commitment type. But, I mean, I've had a crush on you since I was about ten, apparently, so—"

"Tony?"

"Yeah?"

"Stop talking."

And this time, for once, he actually does.