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Virtues

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"Let me show you 1963," Tony said, smiling.

Steve suspected that Tony didn't just mean more of those transistors he liked. So there were suitcases on Steve's bed, and then a jet airliner -- that was new -- and California beaches -- well, that was new to Steve -- and there were, as Tony had promised, women in bikinis -- geez, that was definitely new -- and now he's sitting in a smoky club while Tony flirts with the lady next to him and suddenly 1963 is exactly like 1945 and Steve hates it.

She'd asked for a light and Tony had obliged even though Steve has never once seen him smoke; he was half-surprised Tony even had a lighter.

Tony's flirting halfheartedly, like it's a game he doesn't care if he wins, and Steve watches him with furtive, uncomfortable desire because, even if it's fake, he wants Tony to look at him like that and it isn't fair. He sighs and tries to smile. He hates it here.

And then Tony catches sight of Steve's face. "Listen," he says. "My friend's not feeling well. I gotta go."

He's hauling Steve out of the club and onto the streets.

"You don't smoke," Steve says, into the silence.

Tony shakes his head. "Lot of vices, but that's not one."

"And your virtues?"

Tony's mouth twitches. "I try," he says, very quietly. Then he sighs. "I know you didn't want to tell me, but you could have saved us all some trouble if you'd just said you didn't like girls." This he says even more quietly.

Steve feels sick and wrong and if Tony just drags him into that alley and punches him-- or calls him names-- well, he can take it, but he doesn't want to, and he hates the thought that Tony might. "I thought the future would be better," he says, finally.

It isn't, of course, because someone would have told him.

Tony sighs again. "I don't know where most of the clubs here are anymore, and they still might get raided, though if you're just looking for a guy to dance with, or a good time in a bathroom, we can get you--"

He tries not to think about what it means that Tony knows these places. "I want something that's real."

"Ah," Tony says, and then he says nothing. Steve guesses that means it's impossible.

After a long silent walk, they're back at Tony's place and--

Tony's stepping in close and kissing him, warm and knowing and real, and he wants this so much, but--

"Tell me if I'm reading you wrong," Tony says, low and amused and somehow nervous, when he draws away.

Steve's arms are around Tony. There's something metal under his hands, under Tony's shirt. He decides not to ask.

"No, but-- if this is some kind of sacrifice--"

"Yes, because something I've wanted my entire life is a sacrifice," Tony says, and he kisses him again.