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Fire Alarm

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Tony is in the middle of an inventing spree, having just had a brilliant idea for prolonging the battery life of mobile phones significantly. So he doesn’t immediately realise that for once, it’s not one of his instruments that is beeping at him, but that it’s actually the fire alarm that’s blaring outside.

“Okay, just for the record: That wasn’t me for once,” Tony says to no one in particular, grabs the hard disk with all the important data, lifts Mini-Me to carry under his arm, and quickly leaves the makeshift workshop in one of the rooms of his apartment. Mini-Me beeps at him angrily because he hates to be carried around, but Tony doesn’t care right now. An angry Mini-Me is still a lot better than an incinerated Mini-Me.

When he hurriedly leaves his apartment, he runs head-first into something warm and soft. Tony blinks, confused for a moment, because there should be nothing warm and soft right in front of his door. Then he realises it’s his neighbour, the really good-looking one with the blond hair and blue eyes, and said neighbour not only looks as if he had just had a rough awakening, but he also stands there only dressed in a pair of dark blue boxer briefs.

“C’mon, hurry!” his neighbour says and pulls Tony with him, down the stairs and out of the building. Tony might complain about the rough handling normally, but right now, he’s too busy gathering his jaw from the floor. Because yeah, he’s definitely gaping. For very scientific reasons. And stuff. Mostly stuff though.

When they’re outside, Tony looks up at the building, but he can see neither flames nor smoke. Which is probably good, because it means the fire (if there even is one) should be able to be easily contained and they can go back inside shortly.

Mr. Neighbour (yeah yeah, Tony was simply too busy to ever get introduced to his neighbours, sue him) rudely interrupts his thoughts by grasping him by the shoulders and checking him over.

“Are you okay?” he finally asks, once he seems to have seen enough.

“Yeah, yeah,” Tony is quick to answer, waving his hand dismissively, almost dropping Mini-Me in the process. “I’m totally fine.”

“I’ve been hammering at your door for several minutes and you didn’t hear me,” Mr. Neighbour informs him. “I already thought we’d have to batter in your door.”

“Yeaaah, sorry about that,” Tony apologises, trying not to stare too much and probably failing. “I don’t really react to loud noises anymore. You probably should’ve used that time for something better and gotten dressed. Aren’t you cold?”

As if he only realises just now that he’s standing in the street, in the middle of the night, dressed in only his underwear, Mr. Neighbour starts to shiver.

“Fuck,” he mumbles to himself, wrapping his arms around himself self-consciously and looking around as if he expects someone to threaten his virtue jumping out of the bushes any second now. (He doesn’t really have to look that far, Tony is more than enough to threaten his virtue, thank you very much.)

“Wait a sec,” Tony says, before Mr. Neighbour starts getting bright ideas such as going back into the building and getting some clothes, “if you don’t mind a bit of grease, I can help you. Mini-Me, STAY.”

Mini-Me, of course, tries to scuttle off as soon as Tony puts him down on the ground, so Tony unceremoniously steps on him, preventing him from wandering off. Mini-Me beeps angrily, but Tony ignores him and pulls the t-shirt he’s wearing over his head. He is still wearing a normal long sleeved shirt under it, so he’s okay. Kind of. It’s not that warm outside, now that he thinks about it.

“It’s dirty and it might not fit very well, but it’s probably better than nothing,” Tony says, presenting Mr. Neighbour with the t-shirt.

The t-shirt fits very tight over Mr. Neighbour’s chest, but he seems extremely relieved to get to wear at least that much, so Tony books it as a success. He still has 80% of the view, after all.

“I’m Steve Rogers, by the way,” Mr. Neighbour suddenly introduces himself, holding out his hand. Tony stares at him for a moment, not sure how to react. Now that he thinks about it, he doesn’t usually have to introduce himself. That’s stuff that happens to other people.

“Tony,” he eventually mumbles, giving Steve’s hand a vigorous shake.

Steve gives him a brilliant smile. Tony, for some reason, can’t help but think that this is definitely not a smile suitable for 3 am.

It’s a smile that needs sunshine and angel choirs singing and stuff. And less skin-tight underwear.

*

For the next hour, they are kept waiting. All of the residents are sleepy and confused, no one seems to know exactly what is going on. To distract themselves, they keep talking for most of the hour. Steve is telling Tony funny stories about his childhood and Tony is telling Steve about that time he invented Mini-Me, just to prove he could. And how Mini-Me somehow adopted the demeanour of a surly nonagenarian, despite Tony’s best attempts at programming him a little happier.

They’re both laughing a lot, and Tony seriously regrets now not introducing himself to his neighbours earlier. If he had known that he had a neighbour who not only was nothing to sneeze at in terms of looks, but also had a bright mind and an extremely dry humour, he would have stood right in front of that door on day one.

But after a while, the intervals between their conversations start getting longer. Steve keeps shivering because he’s cold and tired, Tony starts getting sleepy and grumpy, and Mini-Me is always grumpy anyway, so he’s even grumpier right now. It also seems to Tony that Mini-Me’s battery is almost empty, because the little bot keeps lagging a little. And the charging station, of course, stayed in the workshop.

Tony is just wondering if he can’t somehow piece together some kind of emergency charging station out of simple materials when something bumps into his shoulder. It’s Steve.

“Sorry,” Steve says, blushing a little. “I’m just tired and you were warm, and I just kinda…”

Kinda what? Tony wants to ask, but he knows the answer. He’s not really the sleeping type, opting for going without sleep as long as humanly possible, but right now, a soft, warm bed sounds just about perfect. In fact, a soft, warm anything sounds great. Tony is touchy-feely on a good day; when he’s sleepy, he turns into an octopus. Rhodey has complained about that enough times already for Tony to know that.

So Tony stretches out his arm, giving Steve a silent invite. Steve looks at him for one moment, bafflement written all over his face. But Tony, being Tony, doesn’t back down and looks at Steve, quietly challenging him.

Suddenly, Steve smiles that awfully bright smile, carefully moving closer to Tony and wrapping one of his arms around him. When Steve pulls him in, Tony gets a whiff of what smells of himself, workshop grease, and something that must be Steve, and wow. Something in Tony’s hindbrain is ridiculously pleased. He would probably bottle that smell if he could.

He opens his mouth to say something (probably dumb and potentially creepy), but Mini-Me chooses that very moment to wheel over one of Steve’s feet. Which must have hurt, because Steve is only wearing slippers right now. The very unmanly squeak Steve lets out is totally justified.

That, however, doesn’t keep Tony from sniggering into Steve’s chest.

After a moment, said chest starts to shake, too.

*

Later, they learn that the whole thing had been a false alarm and there never even had been a fire.

By that time, they already have a date, though.

Totally worth the fire alarm, in Tony’s humble opinion.