The event was in full swing by the time Happy pulled the limo to the entrance and stopped to hop out and open Tony’s door. Tony took another long swallow of scotch before pulling his sunglasses low and carefully stepping one foot out. The flash bulbs instantly started popping in his face, their strobes momentarily blinding him before his eyes adjusted. This was just one of the reasons he hated these things. He heard rather indiscreet questions shouted out by the paparazzi and his name called with the kind of adoration usually reserved for a Kardashian. Tony smiled a huge grin and waved, slipping into the persona and leaving the person back home in his workshop.
Doormen opened the two large, ornate doors leading into the concert hall, converted to a party venue for the night. The benefit was for, well, Tony wasn’t entirely sure, but something patriotic, that was for sure. Tony removed his sunglasses and took in the room, which largely looked like America had basically thrown up on it, red white and blue fetters hanging from anything that would stand still, apparently. Tony slowly descended the stairs to the room below, which was filled with tall tables, wrapped in, guess what folks, red, white or blue tablecloths around which people gathered in small groups.
A quick scan told him that there was absolutely no one he wanted to spend any time on, the crowd mostly consisting of middle-aged women wearing too much make-up and not enough clothes, carrying some variation of those hideous sparkly duck purses, and men twice his age (ok, maybe one and half times, but who is counting?) who, well look at that, had kindly brought their granddaughters to the event. How nice. Tony shook his head. He wondered how the charity directors would feel about the knowledge that half of their donor list was also helping keep LA’s not-so-secret escort services in business. Keep it classy, people. And oh look, Justin Hammer. Now his giant crap of an evening was complete.
He made a beeline for the bar. Ah, home sweet home.
Not that Tony didn’t support the cause…um, whatever it was. Something patriotic, obviously, and, you know, go Team America or whatever. Even though Tony had made the move from weaponry to clean energy years ago, he still felt a responsibility. Which is why he wrote a very large check, as he’d tried to explain to Pepper yesterday afternoon when she’d ambushed him (he really needed to update his workshop door codes) and insisted that he had to attend this one, that his lack of public presence, as the face of Stark Industries, was becoming noticeable. Tony was certain he’d refused, demurred, pouted and generally been a total shit about it, but Pepper had a way of simply nodding along and being so damn agreeable while she was manipulating him into doing whatever she wanted that he was agreeing before he really understood the import. Because it just seemed so reasonable. It was truly impressive, and explained how he’d ended up with a very expensive modern art collection he neither liked nor understood.
So, here he was, much to his dismay. “Scotch, neat, my man, and keep ‘em coming,” Tony told the bartender and slipped a hundred dollar bill in the tip jar. That should make however long he had to stay here bearable. Speaking of time, Tony glanced down at his watch. Ten whole minutes gone. Well, he’d put in an appearance, which was all Pepper had demanded. He dug out his Starkphone and snapped a photo of the room, knowing she’d hate the garish décor. Not even Pepper could blame him for ducking out early on this shindig, he thought, quickly sending the photo to Pepper with a plaintive “Please?”.
Tony leaned against the wooden bar and scanned the room, careful not to make eye contact with anyone. He’d let himself be seen and then get the hell out of here before some $100 a plate donor cornered him. No reason to mingle with the rabble, after all. Tony was this close to the #2 button on his speed dial, which called Happy (because it made Tony kind of chuckle each time because he had the sense of humor of a twelve year old) when he got a reply text from Pepper with a succinct “Not yet, Tony.”
Tony looked down at the bottom of his empty glass and lifted it to grab the bartender’s eye. Which would’ve totally worked and been awesomely nonchalant except that there was no way the bartender could see the gesture for the very tall and ridiculously broad shoulders that had silently appeared next to Tony. Taking a good look now, Tony’s eyes raked the guy over, noting dark blond hair, neatly styled, the aforementioned broad shoulders, which really warranted a second look, ok, yeah, that was truly impressive. Down to a trim waist and long legs, and hello beautifully sculpted ass, so nice to make your acquaintance. Well, color Tony intrigued. The guy turned, balancing a couple of drinks in his hands, and started as he caught Tony’s gaze. And ok, yeah, so the front of the package did not disappoint. Deep blue eyes, great bone structure and wide, red lips. How was this guy real? And what was he doing at a crapfest of a party like this one when he clearly should be shooting a cologne ad or something putting all that eye candy to an equally good use. Tony’s evening was definitely looking up.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, did I just cut in front of you?” Hot Blonde said, frowning.
“Not at all,” Tony smiled smoothly.
Hot Blonde noted Tony’s empty glass and promptly handed Tony one of his. “Here, please,” the guy insisted. And he comes with alcohol, too? God Bless America, Tony grinned.
“Tony Stark,” Tony said, offering his hand, though he assumed Hot Blonde knew this already. Most did.
“Steve,” the guy responded politely, but Tony noted the slight pause accompanying it. Hmmm. Interesting. Tony wondered if that was even his real name. Which…come to think of it…this guy was definitely out of place here. Way too good looking for this crowd. Tony noted that the suit “Steve” was wearing was off the rack, and ever so slightly out of date and he was having water, not anything alcoholic.
Tony nodded to the guy’s glass of water, “Open bar, you know?,” Tony offered helpfully.
Steve grimaced a bit, though if Tony hadn’t been watching so closely, he wouldn’t have caught it. “I’m sort of…working tonight,” Steve replied slowly, as if deciding carefully exactly what words to use.
“On the clock, huh?” Tony said curiously, because the guy wasn’t dressed as a waiter and didn’t have any kind of name tag indicating he was with the event or a particular company.
Hmmm…that was…oh. Oh.
The ridiculously good looking guy in last year’s suit at the bar carefully making sure to get his own drink and keep it non-alcoholic was “working” tonight. Ahem. Well, that was…not at all disappointing, as it turned out. That actually made sense. And was going to make this a lot easier, from Tony’s perspective. Now, they were just negotiating, after all. Tony’s grin grew wide as his gaze turned from admiration to frank appraisal.
“I see…Must be kind of annoying to have to come to things like this for someone…um, in your line of work, huh?” Tony asked.
“Steve” frowned a bit at that and took a sip of his water. “It isn’t so bad. Food’s decent, and usually I just have to stand around and smile most of the night, so…” he said, gesturing to the room with his hand. “I guess mostly I’m just good for the image or something, I don’t know. I just go where they tell me,” he said with a slight shrug. Tony spared a thought to who the mysterious “they” were. He had never had much use himself for the high priced escort services that populated the L.A. scene, but he was hardly ignorant of them. Some parties called for a certain kind of entertainment, after all. Though, looking at Steve, Tony figured he’d clearly been neglecting a perfectly legitimate form of American commerce. Oldest profession in the book, and all that.
“So, who are you here with tonight, Steve?” Tony said, deciding he’d had enough small talk and really needed to be undoing Steve’s bowtie with his teeth right about now. Though, really, who cared who he came with as long as he left with Tony?
“Mr. Hammer,” Steve responded with a bit of downturn to his mouth. Ok, so now Tony cared who he came with.
Justin Fucking Hammer? No way. Ok, just…no. That was not happening. Hell, it was a service to…to…to America and mankind and…justice for fuck’s sake for Tony to take Steve away from Hammer, and if he got to simultaneously ruin the douchebag’s evening, all the better.
“Hammer, huh? I think you could do a lot better,” Tony huffed out in what he hoped was a suggestive voice, though it might have been a lot closer to indignant. “And by a lot better, I mean pretty much anyone not Hammer or…that weird North Korean guy who looks at things.”
“Well…” Steve started, clearly uncomfortable, but Tony could tell he was trying not to smile at that. Steve clearly had some taste at least.
“Oh, come on! Justin Hammer? He’s a world-class asshole. Ask anyone not named Justin Hammer and they’ll tell you,” Tony sputtered.
“Mr. Hammer has been good to work with in the past,” Steve continued cautiously. And Tony was definitely not going to picture that. Ever. “I mean, it isn’t really my call, I guess,” Steve finished somewhat deflated. It was obvious to Tony that Steve wasn’t thrilled with the prospect of a night with Hammer, whatever Steve said to the contrary. Maybe he’d be a good boy about it, do his “job” or whatever, but he clearly didn’t like it.
See, now it was more like a rescue mission than a solicitation. That was definitely better.
Tony snorted. “’Mr. Hammer?’ Does he make you call him that?”
“I think it is a good idea to keep a certain…professional distance,” Steve said and then looked down and brought his hand up to scrub the back of his neck with it. “Though, I have to admit that calling him Mr. Hammer all night just starts to sound silly after awhile.” And there was a little bit of smile that went straight to Tony’s groin. Unbidden, the image of Steve, on his knees, looking up at Tony with half-lidded eyes and calling him “Mr. Stark” came to mind, and oh boy. Tony went from interested to raging arousal in about ten seconds.
Tony managed to choke out a laugh at the idea of actually calling someone Mr. Hammer, let alone the actual namesake. “I’ll just bet. Look, I know this is probably totally awkward, but whatever Hammer is paying you for the night, I’ll double it. Hell, triple it. I don’t think I’d regret it,” Tony said going for the direct route. Or as direct as he could be without saying, ‘Let’s get out of here and fuck. Just tell me how much.’ Steve’s eyes widened a bit at that.
“Um…well, wow, that’s very nice of you, Mr. Stark, but I don’t think I can just leave Mr. Hammer tonight. Like I said, it isn’t really my call where I get sent. I mean, I guess you could ask the agency. I don’t even really know how they deal with the fees. I’m sure that’s handled somewhere above my pay grade,” Steve responded carefully, clearly trying not to offend.
Well, fuck. Ok, so either Steve was the most honorable hooker ever or he was playing hardball. Dismissing the first alternative, Tony smiled again. Hardball, he could handle. Hell, he was the King of Handling Hardball. Wait, that sounded wrong…
“Look,” Tony began, running his free hand up Steve’s arm, noting the way the muscles bunched a bit under his touch, “I think we both know you’d enjoy your job a lot more if you were…working…with me instead of Hammer. Let’s skip over all this back-and-forth, just name your number. I think you probably know I can afford it,” Tony finished, looking up into Steve’s eyes with what he hoped was his best come hither expression. He may have just been staring creepily at Steve’s incredibly long eyelashes. Hard to say.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Stark,” Steve said, backing away and signaling the bartender for another drink. “I really, um…appreciate the offer. But, I can’t just up and leave Mr. Hammer tonight. That wouldn’t be professional.” Steve did at least look like he regretted the prospect of returning to Hammer, but geez, really? “If you want to contact the office, well, maybe we can work something out. For later.”
“Yeah, sure,” Tony said flatly, reaching for the drink that had magically appeared on the bar. “Whatever.” He studiously refused to think about Steve going home with, oh God, he couldn’t even say it.
“Ok, well, I guess I’ll see you around then?” Steve made it a question. Tony turned back to the bar. He heard Steve shuffle a bit, probably unsure in the face of Tony’s rudeness, and then walk away. Well, fine. Tony glanced at the mirror over the bar and watched Steve start to head back to Hammer’s sycophantic little party.
Steve had taken three steps when Tony’s mouth, without any input from his brain that he could discern, called out, “How can I reach…um, your office?” Tony inwardly winced. He wasn’t really doing this, was he? He was Tony Stark. He didn’t chase after anyone, let alone, well, hookers. I mean, they were supposed to be a sure thing, right? That was the whole point. But here he was, already thinking about how quickly he could book a night with Steve.
Steve dug into the suit’s inner pocket, produced a somewhat crumpled card and handed it to Tony. Hookers have business cards now? Wow. How enterprising. Wonder if there’s an app for that, Tony thought somewhat hysterically. This sucked. This whole evening sucked. Tony nodded without meeting Steve’s eyes. Steve wisely took that as the dismissal it was and headed off.
From his view of the mirror, Tony watched Steve walk back to Hammer’s little bunch of hangers-on, and saw Hammer turn to greet him, placing a hand on Steve’s shoulder. Ok, ew. This was…he was not…absolutely not going to be jealous over Justin Hammer and a…a hooker. Just no. He was Tony Goddamn Stark. He could have anyone. Well, apparently, anyone except someone who was actually for sale but had, like, a professional code about it. Geez. What was the world coming to when you couldn’t undercut your competition in the illegal sex for sale business while at a charity event you were partially sponsoring?
Tony’s head snapped up to scan the crowd again, quickly spotting Steve’s tall frame at the table with the Hammer cronies. Hammer was patting Steve’s shoulder and gesticulating wildly, no doubt taking credit for something that wasn’t his idea and introducing Steve to General Armbruster, and, okay, that was…odd. While Hammer was a first-class idiot, even he would probably not introduce his hired sex worker to one of the most powerful men in the armed forces. Steve was smiling wanly, looking uncomfortable. Then the General was pulling out his phone to take a photo. With Steve.
Tony downed the remainder of his drink and took a quick glance at the card in his hand. Hooker business cards. So cute. Huh? That was odd. And honestly, though he wished he could deny it later, his first impulse was to wonder since when did the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division have a high-priced escort division?
Tony pulled out his Starkphone and quickly snapped a picture of Steve. “JARVIS, run a facial recognition search on the image I’m sending you. Need the results ASAP.”
Moments later, his phone pinged with the results from JARVIS.
Tony ran his eyes over the contents and then raised his eyes back up to Steve. He was sure he was standing there staring with his mouth hanging open when Steve lifted his head in a slight nod in confused answer to his stare from across the room. Because Tony had been staring and making what resembled a fish mouth at him, apparently. Way to be cool, Tones, he could hear Rhodey’s voice echo in his head.
Tony punched the #2 on his phone and with a quick, “Limo. Now.” to Happy, got the hell out of there as fast as he could. Running the gauntlet of press and wanna-sees again, Tony dashed for the limo before Happy could even get out and open the door. He quickly dove in the back and snapped at Happy to head home.
“Boss? What’s up?” Happy asked, no doubt concerned with Tony’s rapid breathing and the way Tony quickly worked the bowtie and first few buttons of his shirt off, gasping for air.
Shit, shit, shit, he’d fucked up. Pepper was going to kill him.
“Just…home, Happy. Fast,” Tony ordered.
“Okaaaay…” Luckily, Happy had been around him long enough not to ask many questions.
And now Tony had to send the most awkward, though sparsely detailed, email of his life. She was going to kill him. She was actually going to get in his own company plane and fly to California and kill him. Probably with one of her heels.
Not five minutes later, Tony’s phone rang. With what he was sure was the same expression those poor souls wore on their way to the guillotine, Tony answered.
“Just…” and Tony could practically hear Pepper attempting to rub the tension out of her temples. “Just so we are clear,” Pepper began, trying to sound business-like, as if this were just any other phone call about stocks or production or whatever it was Pepper was usually blathering on about, “At the gala event for the Wounded Warriors Foundation, of which Stark Industries is a major donor, you met one Steven G. Rogers, Captain, U.S. Army Special Forces, one of the most decorated soldiers in all the armed forces, one of the handful of living Medal of Honor recipients, the man People Magazine dubbed “Captain America” in their front page story about his battlefield heroics that saved multiple lives, which went on to detail how his spare time is devoted to, and I’m quoting here, “providing art therapy to troubled and disadvantaged youth from the Brooklyn, New York area where Capt. Rogers grew up,” and you mistook him for a high-priced hooker and then proceeded to proposition him.”
Tony paused, breathing in deeply. “Well, when you say it like that, it just sounds bad.”
“Tony!!!” Pepper shouted. “Do you have any idea what a public relations nightmare this could be???,” she continued, her voice rising in pitch with each word.
“I don’t…” Tony started.
“I mean, given your reputation and well, we’ve already seen the kind of hit stock prices take from your shenanigans, need I remind you of the incident with the French Prime Minister’s wife? And now, you…you…with a national icon, Tony! Icon. This guy’s face is everywhere! They want him to run for Senate in New York! And you tried to solicit him???” Pepper was really just picking up steam. He needed to cut her off, if he could only get a word in edgewise.
“Oh come on, Pep. It isn’t like this is the worst thing I’ve done.”
“Not helping, Tony. Not. Helping,” Pepper’s voice was firm now. Tony knew she had handled enough of his bullshit in the past and didn’t really need the extra pressure on her now that she was CEO of Stark Industries. Hardly fair to ask her to take out his trash at this point.
“Look, you didn’t see the guy. I mean, that’s…that’s not real, Pepper. Real people don’t look like that,” Tony tried helplessly. He knew he was digging himself a hole he’d probably never get out of.
“So you just assumed he was a…a…hooker? How could you…why in the world would…I mean it’s just…Who does that???” Pepper was bordering on apoplectic now and Tony knew he was in trouble.
“Tony,” and her voice softened a bit, which was always concerning. “You know the Board is looking for an excuse to get rid of you and turn the company back to weapons. This? This could be just what they need to try. Just make it right, Tony. No, I don’t care how. Just fix this before it blows up in your face.”
“Look, I don’t even know if the guy realized what I was…well, offering, to be honest,” Tony said hopefully.
“Well, to be fair, why would a Medal of Honor recipient naturally assume one of the smartest men on the planet thought he was a prostitute?” Pepper suggested sarcastically. Tony really did not need that right now.
“One of?” Tony replied indignantly.
“Tony! Focus. This could have serious repercussions. Remember Tailhook?” Pepper said.
“Hey, I was nowhere near that stupid Navy conference!” Tony sighed. Ok, yeah, he’d screwed up. Let his stupid libido override good sense. Seriously, who assumes the hot guy at the bar is an escort instead of, well, you know, a national hero, apparently. “I’ll figure this out, Pep, I swear. Nothing bad will happen to the company. Look, honestly, the guy seemed pretty clueless about the whole thing. It’s possible he didn’t even notice that I was hitting on him. Either I’ve lost a considerable amount of charm, or it just happens to him so often that he doesn’t notice. Like breathing. I mean, did you see his picture? That’s not even fair.”
“I hardly think ‘He was too attractive to resist harassing’ is something to hang your hat on, Tony,” Pepper replied dryly. “Fix this,” she reiterated.
Ok, so Tony knew he needed to think this through and come up with some kind of plan that wouldn’t send the good Captain running to his superiors with shouts of sexual harassment. While Stark Industries was out of the weapons-making business, it still carried a number of government and military contracts for all avenues of technology from communications and surveillance to body armor. Losing those over a public relations snafu created by Tony’s own idiocy would definitely give the Board all the ammunition, so to speak, they needed to shove Tony back to Head of R&D or some such honorary fuck-you. So, definitely needed to think of a plan.
It turns out that the Diffusing Your Sexual Harassment Suit for Dummies looked a lot like a bottle of Glenlivet. It also happens to be the case that there really wasn’t a good way to apologize for mistaking a Medal of Honor Recipient for a prostitute. Who knew? Tony woke up in a puddle of drool next to his bed, still half in his suit and cuddling one of his shoes. And not even one from last night. This was bad. Groaning, he slowly pulled himself up, using the side of the bed for leverage.
“Good morning, Sir! The time is currently 8:37 a.m. and the temperature is a balmy 83 degrees,” JARVIS shouted. Ok, maybe he didn’t actually shout it, but it sure as hell sounded like it.
“Volume down 40%, J,” Tony mumbled in desperation. He headed for the bathroom, and after a shower and change, followed by a few (five, whatever) cups of coffee and Tony was sliding into his Audi R8 for the drive down to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s West Coast office. Not exactly the Triskelion, but it would do. And, according to the digging JARVIS had done this morning, currently where one Captain Steven G. Rogers was currently on loan from the U.S. Army.
After flashing his I.D. and a wide smile at the starstruck guard at the gate, Tony drove right past the visitors’ parking area to the reserved lot and pulled into a space clearly denoted for “General Ross.” Tony’s not-so-favorite spy was waiting for him. He climbed out with a shit-eating grin on his face and a cheeky, “Ahoy, Matey!” Because Tony could be a dick like that. He continued to smile at Fury because he knew that unsettled the other man, and pretended to be unsure if he should look Fury in the good eye or not. Fury was really fun to screw with.
Fury smirked at him with an all-too-knowing look that Tony hated, “Well, I did hear you were searching for booty, Stark.”
Eh, ok. So, perhaps starting off by getting on Fury’s shit list was probably not a good idea.
“I guess I don’t have to ask to what or should I say to whom we owe the…pleasure…of your visit?” Fury asked, turning towards the rather nondescript building that housed S.H.I.E.L.D.’s local headquarters. Tony honestly wasn’t sure if Fury had just heard something random and was fucking with him or if Fury actually had any idea what had gone on at last night’s event. He was hard to read.
“Can’t one of your favorite contractors stop by for a friendly visit,” Tony inquired innocently, hand over his chest in mock indignation.
“Sure,” Fury said. “If you see one of my favorite contractors, tell him I said welcome,” Fury continued.
“That hurts, Purple People Eater, it really does,” Tony teased. “I actually wanted to talk about our S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison. You know, the one that is supposed to be assigned to…liaise with Stark Industries, but is apparently finding his Zen in Tahiti or polishing his “I Love S.H.I.E.L.D.” button collection or something, because I sure haven’t seen him. Nope. Not feeling the love here, Willie.”
Fury sighed, leading Tony into his office, which was about as sterile and non-informative as any office could possibly be. Was that actually a picture of this very building from the air on the wall? Seriously, who decorated like that?
“Sit,” Fury ordered. Tony sat on the edge of Fury’s desk. Fury’s good eye closed for a moment before fixing on him again. “Is that what last night was about?”
And here we go. Treading carefully, Tony asked, “You mean because it turns out Hammer Industries gets all the best toys? Well, Nick, I am a little hurt here. I mean, last time I checked, Stark Industries was providing S.H.I.E.L.D. with quite a bit of tech, all at a hefty discount off the market price, I might add. And to find out that you’ve been holding out on us all this time?” Tony shook his head in apparent sadness. “For shame, Sauron, for shame.”
Tony hopped off Fury’s desk. “Come on, you can’t give Hammer a national icon and not give SI one. Just isn’t fair. That’s basic playground rules right there. Share and share alike, I say.”
Fury was still studying him, and Tony had the feeling this was something like a beetle felt right before that bright, curious boy pinned him to a board.
“You want a liaison for Stark Industries…when you have specifically refused to cooperate with S.H.I.E.L.D. protocols for the past…oh, let me think…ever?” Fury asked suspicion lacing every word. Or maybe Tony was projecting.
“Well…yeah,” Tony said. “I think it would be a…symbiotic partnership.”
Fury fixed him in place with the one good eye, but Tony wasn’t backing down now that he knew he wasn’t about to get reamed out over sexually propositioning S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best kept secret.
“I guess we can make arrangements for that,” Fury said slowly. Tony almost didn’t hear, too caught up in how easy this had all worked out. Like Christmas where you didn’t even have to leave out cookies or milk or, you know, actually be good.
“Great!” Tony said with another grin and started to walk to the door.
“Someone from HR will be in touch with SI by Tuesday. If that is sufficient, of course,” Fury said evenly. And this was when Tony knew for sure Fury had his number. Because no way was Tony going to accept “someone from HR.” He wanted Steve. For a liaison. Of course. For the…liaising. And stuff. Hell, he wanted to liaise with Steve all day, and okay, yeah, he was screwed.
“Hell no, that’s not ‘sufficient’!” Tony started, watching Fury’s eyebrow raise to truly epic heights. He was actually going to make him say it, the bastard. “I want Rogers.” There. Happy now?
“Well…Captain Rogers is a very busy man, as you can imagine, I’m sure. His schedule is pretty full for the next few months. Though…I suppose I could…with his permission, of course, move his liaison assignment from Hammer Industries to SI…” Fury said in a way that suggested he was just now considering the option for the first time. Asshole. “Of course, I know how much Mr. Hammer likes having Captain Rogers as his liaison, so to just reassign him like that…well, I’d have to have a very good reason for something like that.”
So, it turned out that Tony was buying Steve anyway. And he wasn’t even getting sex. Son of a bitch. It just ended up costing way more in promises to S.H.I.E.L.D. than he’d intended to make. If Pepper hadn't wanted to kill him before, she probably would after she saw the contracts Tony had agreed to on behalf of SI. Tony was rapidly reconsidering this whole deal, which must have been apparent, because that was when Fury hit a buzzer on his desk and in walked Steve, sweaty, hair mussed, wearing loose-fitting khakis and a shirt that was not at all loose-fitting. He stood at parade rest, hands fisted behind his back and legs slightly spread, and there was fighting dirty and then there was this. Really, Nick? Tony gave Fury a long-suffering glance, but Fury just smiled placidly, the prick.
“Mr. Stark?” Steve said, obviously surprised to see him in Fury’s office.
“Captain Rogers, you already met Tony Stark, I believe,” Fury said, which was bullshit because Fury absolutely knew they’d met.
“Um, yes, Sir. Last night. At the event?” Steve said, darting a quick glance at Tony, which was when Tony noticed the blush creeping up Steve’s neck to lend a gorgeous flush to his cheeks. Hmmm…
Fury steepled his hands and nodded. “Yes, well, it turns out that Stark Industries is in dire need of a new S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison, and I think you’d be perfect for the job.” Now Fury was just plain smirking.
“If you think that would be…best, Sir, of course. I’m happy to serve wherever I’m needed,” Steve replied with every bit of deference, but Tony saw him cast another quick glance his way.
“Then it sounds like we are all done here. Captain, please see HR about the transfer. Mr. Stark?” Fury caught his eyes and smiled as brightly as he was capable, “It was a pleasure doing business with you.” Tony was naming the next thing he blew up The Fury.
Steve nodded to Fury and headed back out the door. Tony followed, bobbing along after him down the hall to the elevator.
“So,” Tony managed, but then realized he really had nowhere to go with it, since he actually didn’t know how Steve felt about anything, the whole ridiculous debacle last night or the thing in Fury’s office.
“So,” Steve said neutrally. The elevator doors pinged and opened, and both men stepped in. Steve pushed the button for the main floor, obviously intent on escorting Tony out. “Looks like we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other.”
“Um, yeah…” Tony tried carefully. “I hope, well…I hope that’s ok with you?” Tony made it a question. Because, really, he wasn’t interested in forcing this guy into anything or messing up his career over the fact that he was too good looking to be real. That was hardly his fault. “I mean, if it isn’t, then that’s fine. You know, I get it. Just say so. We can get someone else for SI, no problem.”
Steve paused as the elevator doors opened and held out his hand against the doors to allow Tony to exit. “Oh, I don’t know. I heard I would enjoy my job a lot more if I was working with you instead of Hammer.” And son of a bitch, there was the little smile again, and the guy was totally grinning at him now with a knowing look in his eye.
Tony sucked in a sharp breath, “You…you…?”
“I’m not calling you Mr. Stark,” Steve said as Tony stood there dumbly watching the elevator doors close.
“At least, not at work.” The grin got bigger, then, and a blush followed as the elevator doors squeezed shut.
Tony’s brain slowly came back online. Huh. Well, would you look at that.
Who knew S.H.I.E.L.D. contracts had a gift with purchase?