Steve had come up with the idea at the team's last post-mission meal. The winter had been kind of a long pain in the butt. Spring had been one of the colder ones, too, which didn't make matters any better. Everyone was tired, they always looked so tired lately, but it hadn't hit Steve until the Summer weather rolled in how pale they all were. He was the Captain of this team and it was his job to keep his soldiers in fighting form. As hard as they'd all been working lately, he decided it was time for a day off.
"I still say we would have had more fun at an amusement park." Tony was grumbling at Steve's side, toes twisting in the sand. They'd been here a grand total of five minutes and already Tony was full of complaints.
"And I say that after the latest news about ride breakdowns everywhere, it's not worth the work of breaking out a disguise," Steve replied, slinging his arm over those familiar shoulders. Tony was tense. He just needed to lighten up a little!
"I could probably open an amusement park," Tony said suddenly, and Steve could see the light in his eyes. Oh boy, if he didn't derail that fast Tony was going to board the jet and leave them all here on this beach. "Come on, think about it, Stark Land. No, no. Stark World. Wait, what about Avengers Island? I could profit off of us, right, that's not weird? Themed rides, little Iron Man toys as prizes for games-"
Tony was cut off by a beach ball bouncing off the back of his head.
"Will you can it and carry something Stark?" Clint demanded, jogging to retrieve the ball and stick it back in the basket he'd been carrying. "We're at the beach, not creating your newest source of unnecessary income."
"You want in, Clint? You could help me come up with games," Tony offered, and though he wasn't derailed from his train of thought he did pick up a few of the folding chairs.
Thor and Bruce were putting up a canopy for shade, equipped with a net to keep bugs away from their table. It was comical to watch (if you asked Tony, anyway, but Steve didn't find it funny so much as sad) Thor get aggrivated with the poles for the canopy and Bruce try to patiently explain that he couldn't just cram them together. Tony had tried to bring along one of his new prototype electronic ones but apparently Steve had insisted they do it the old fashioned way. Which was cute. At least, to Tony.
A lot of things seemed cute when it came to Cap lately. Ever since their somewhat awkward (although not short of amazing) kiss last week Tony had been casually picking up on all of Steve's more adorable features. And all of his hot ones. And all of his downright wet-dream worthy- well, okay, the point was that Tony was basically pretty sure he wanted to do things to Steven Rogers, the Captain America, and he was really unsure how to go about it.
The thing was that the kiss had been great and spontaneous- and then it had been over. Tony hadn't known what to say, Steve had been blushing too furiously to even bother, and none of the others were around to call them on that shit and make them deal with it. In fact, as far as Tony knew none of the others were even aware. Because nothing had been said up to this point, Tony wasn't sure where they stood. He'd done his best to just act like they normally did. It was normal to kiss your best friend spontaneously (actually Steve had been the one to do the kissing and could Tony just say, wow) when you were worked up over a really exciting day of beating the shit out of super villains.
To be fair Tony's sense of normalcy was getting a little weird lately.
"Hey shell head, are you listening to me?" Steve asked, removing his arm from Tony's shoulder to instead place his palm on the top of Tony's head and give him a playful shake. "Tony? You in there? Can you help me set up the chairs?"
"Hm? Yeah, because we didn't all just sit on our asses for a whole two hour flight," Tony teased, depositing the three he'd grabbed in the sand and beginning to unfold them.
Tony didn't notice the way Steve watched him bend over, but that was alright because Steve didn't seem to notice when Tony returned the favor moments later. Tony did notice when Steve started to pull his shirt off, and guess who didn't bother pretending he wasn't watching? That's right, Tony Stark.
"Volleyball!" Natasha called, hoisting one pole up in the air and digging it down into the sand as Clint worked the other into the ground.
Tony was ready to argue, but Steve was dragging him by the wrist over to the net. Tony wasn't sure he minded as much as he wanted to. Did this count as holding hands?
"I thought this was supposed to be a fun day at the beach," Tony complained.
"If it helps, you're first pick for my team," Steve offered with a teasing smile.
"Who says you get to be team captain?" Tony fired back, prodding him in the chest with one finger.
"Well I don't want to see what a team would look like with you as captain," called Bruce, seemingly un-phased by the glare Tony shot in his direction.
Soon enough the teams were set. Natasha led the opposing force, with Bruce and Clint on her side. Thor, Tony, and Steve stood against them. It was one hell of a game. Tony was a little useless, but that was why Steve had picked Thor. The highlight, however, was when Tony spiked the ball at Steve who in turn sent it rocketing up with some impressive speed, and Thor met it to send it sailing over the net and down into the sand. That was the game point.
"Was that even legal?" Clint wanted to know, inspecting the ball and finding it had begun to deflate. Apparently Thor had hit it a little too hard.
"I still say you kicked that sand in my eye on purpose, so I think we're even," Tony replied.
Clint rolled his eyes, already abandoning the argument.
That wasn't the end of the shenanigans for the day. There was lunch, which was pretty uneventful. Everyone had worked up an appetite. Natasha took the opportunity to lay in the sun while Clint went to climb on submerged rocks down the beach, and Bruce explained Earth's sea creatures to Thor. Tony was about to flop down for a nap and some needed sun when he caught sight of Steve.. building a sand castle.
"Are you five?" Tony wanted to know as he jogged over, crouching down next to Steve to admire his work. It was a pretty sad castle, actually. Tony didn't say that though.
"Well I just figured this is the kinda thing you're supposed to do at the beach, right?" Steve countered.
"Sure, but I mean.. you're not even doing it right." There was something Tony's tone that made Steve smile, and the Captain looked up at him.
"Oh yeah? Are you gonna show me how to build a proper sand castle? Can you even build things without a wrench and a torch?"
"Oh it is on Steven Rogers," Tony hissed, and grabbed one of the buckets.
To the water he went, and within minutes he had returned to begin his work a few feet away from Steve. He was considering the possibility of how to make a working draw bridge, and wondered momentarily if Steve would call it cheating if he got some... accessories from the jet. Probably. Fine, good old fashioned sand castle couldn't be too hard. Look at all the suits he'd built! A little bit of sand was cake.
It was not cake.
An hour later Tony was trying to hold one of his "towers" (please, it was little more than a mound of wet sand) in place and muttering angrily under his breath. The whole team had come to watch the spectacle. It didn't help that they were all giving Steve pointers while poor Tony (poor being Tony's description of it, because they should pity him right now) was left to do it all on his own. Steve's was actually looking a lot better than earlier and Tony was starting to worry.
Just as he was about to release his hold on the current tower, catastrophe struck. Another collapsed. Tony made a pitiful sound.
Steve looked up from his own work and offered Tony one of those genuine warm smiles of his. Tony waited for it. This was the perfect time for Steve to tease him. But instead, Steve stood up, stretched.. and promptly stomped all over his own castle. Tony's jaw dropped.
"Rogers what do you think you're doing?" Natasha demanded. "After all that coaching you're just giving in?"
"Come on, I can handle a loss, but that scowl on his face?" Steve replied, and Tony tried to ignore the way that warmth shot up his spine. Steve liked his face without the scowl, then?
"You've got it bad man," Clint commented with a sigh, causing both super soldier and genius to glance in his direction. Clint didn't seem to want to elaborate, though, and Natasha promptly grabbed him by the wrist to drag him towards the ocean. Tony didn't ask why, silently thanking her for taking him away before he could say anything more.
There was a moment of awkward silence as Bruce and Thor found their own reasons to disperse, and then Tony was clearing his throat.
"You did that because I was going to beat you, right?" Tony asked. "Because you know I was going to. I was just uh.. warming up, is all."
"Tony." Steve's voice was a bit thicker than before, and Tony finally met his eyes. Well he was a little closer.
"Yeah?" Quite the opposite of Steve, Tony sounded as though he'd had all the breath sucked out of him.
"I'll help you build a better sandcastle." There was something playful in Steve's tone, and Tony waited. But he didn't offer anything more.
"I'm sensing a but here," Tony finally managed.
"Not a but, an if." Steve drew even closer- fuck how was that possible- and Tony was so glad he was practiced in the art of acting suave or he'd probably have to deal with the fact that his knees were weak.
"If?" Eloquent today Tony.
"If," Steve confirmed. "If you let me kiss you again."
For a moment Tony was shocked into silence- and hey, Steve deserved applause for that right? But then there was a goofy grin on his face (uh, no, Tony would later insist it was a really seductive and attractive and manly and... just not goofy!) and he was reaching up to tug Steve down to him.
"If that's all," Tony replied, voice much stronger now that he had his wits about him.
And they kissed. God, they kissed. Tony felt Steve's lips press against his own chapped, waiting ones and his fingers slid up the back of Steve's neck to tangle in his hair. Steve encouraged this, though his hands moved down rather than skyward and Tony was pleasantly surprised to learn that Steve was an ass man. The beach seemed suddenly very empty, and Tony was very aware of just how many steps it would take to get the jet where they could have a little privacy. He was factoring in how many of those steps he could bear to spend parted from Steve's lips when suddenly Steve was pulling away for air.
For a moment they just looked at each other, and then Steve laughed, and Tony laughed, and suddenly they were holding each other by the back of the neck in hysterics. It must look ridiculous to anyone else (except maybe the team who thought this was a long time coming) but there was a strange understanding between them in that moment. Then they were kissing again, this time short, sweet pecks, and slowly floating back down from the clouds and back to reality.
Finally both Steve and Tony were back under control. Tony met Steve's eyes once more, goofy grin now absolutely refusing to fade away.
"So the first time I was willing to overlook it," Tony said casually. "But if you're going to make a habit of this kissing thing-"
"Oh I am," Steve assured him.
"Well then I'm going to need you to go to dinner with me. You know, for science."
"I think we can work that out," Steve assured him, letting his hands fall to lazily rest on Tony's hips. "I can't believe you fell for such a cheesy line. I can't believe I actually pulled that."
"I wouldn't expect anything less from the good Capsicle."
Steve offered his own broad smile at this, and leaned down to kiss Tony's lips once more before breaking his grip all together.
"We better get to work on that castle, huh?" Steve ignored Tony's groan and suggestive look. Sure the jet was on his mind, too, but he figured they'd get around to that. Something told him this thing with Tony Stark was just beginning. And Steve Rogers was a patient man.