Superhuman Star: Super Romance! Captain America and Iron Man Come Out!
Our reporters were on hand last week when America's favorite golden boy, Steven Rogers, aka Captain America, came out to the world. His lover? Billionaire playboy Tony Stark!
The pair was spotted by reporters at the Coney Island amusement park, sharing an embrace shortly after Captain America single-handedly stopped a rampaging mutant terrorist from leveling the entire park. (See photos on page 32!)
Stark, who is also Rogers' teammate on the Avengers, has a reputation as a love 'em and leave 'em kind of guy – prompting us to wonder what Cap could be thinking?
"Tony's really persuasive," an insider from Avengers HQ tells the Superhuman Star. "He's been after Cap for a while, and Cap's only human. After all, Tony's rich and really good looking."
So is this romance destined to end badly? Stark's track record doesn't bode well for them. And Steve Rogers has been adamant about keeping his personal life out of the spotlight – something that'll be next to impossible if he's spending any time at all with a public figure like Tony "Iron Man" Stark.
"It'll never last," our insider tells us. "Cap's in way over his head here and Tony doesn't do serious. I just hope they can still work together when this is over, or the Avengers might be in trouble."
Steve leaned back against the side of the ring-toss booth and offered Tony a sheepish grin. "This isn't quite what I had in mind, to be honest," he admitted. He looked like a kid: nose and ears turning pink from the sun, hair tousled from the wind and the rollercoaster. He had cotton candy on his shirt, Tony noticed.
"Really?" Tony asked. "Because when you said, 'Hey, Tony, come to Coney Island with me, we deserve a day off' this is exactly what I saw happening."
A wooden carousel horse flew by overhead and crashed to the ground a few feet behind Tony, showering them with dust and wooden splinters. Tony scrubbed his hands through his hair, combing out the odd piece of wood. "Honestly, this isn't quite as bad as I was expecting. One rampaging super-powered teenager is practically nothing."
"We need to stop him," Steve said. "I think most of the civilians got out of here, but we can't be the only ones left in the park. Someone's going to get hurt, if they haven't been already."
"I didn't bring the armor," Tony admitted. He'd thought about it, but he'd wanted a day off as much as Steve had, and bringing the armor had seemed like admitting defeat. Also, it was heavy.
"I brought my uniform," Steve said. He reached out and tugged a piece of pink painted wood out of Tony's hair, the backs of his fingers brushing against Tony's cheek. "I stashed it in a locker back by the restrooms."
"Think you can get it and back without being caught?"
They both glanced up as one of the rollercoasters began to rock back and forth violently. "He's not exactly being subtle," Steve said.
"And then what?" Tony asked practically. "He's stronger than either of us – maybe if I had the armor. But barehanded, he'd crush my bones with one solid hit, and I doubt you'd fare much better."
"I'd be offended by your lack of faith in my plans if you weren't so right," Steve said with a grin. He was relaxed, despite the situation, enjoying the ridiculousness of it all. Or maybe just glad to have a disaster that wasn't heralding the end of the world for once; Tony knew he was. "What do you say? We could try to reason with him. He is just a kid."
Tony leaned to the side and peered around the corner of the booth. The wreckage of several booths littered the fairgrounds, and a rollercoaster car was embedded nose-first in the ground a dozen feet away. He leaned back and gave Steve an exasperated look.
Steve laughed. "Right, right. So. You wanna be bait?"
The good thing about amateur villains, Tony always thought, was that they were too inexperienced to realize that anything they tried to pull had been pulled before - and that the superhero dealing with them had almost certainly seen whatever they had to offer before. Tony skulked behind an overturned car from the teacup ride and tried to think of the last truly original supervillain he'd dealt with and figured it was probably someone he'd fought in his first week on the job. And even then, they'd only been new to him. Well, that thing with the Puppetmaster and the time-travel dolls had been weird, even if he hadn't seen it first hand... And the mind-control snakes. Those had been a new one on him.
"Where are you hiding?"
Tony peered over his shoulder, keeping mostly hidden behind the teacup. The kid – mutant, probably, judging by the powers, though there was always the off-chance he was a post human of some kind – was standing in the middle of the bumper cars and looking pissed. And melodramatic. He had his head thrown back and his arms spread out like a character in a movie.
"Over here," he called out. "Behind the teacup," he added when the boy spun in his direction. He waved.
"What-" The kid stared at him for a second before appearing to remember that he was the one in charge and Tony was just some terrified civilian cowering from his mighty power.
Tony was never going to be able to pull that off.
"Come out of there at once!"
"No," Tony said. "Not unless you're done throwing shit. Do I look like I'd enjoy taking a bumper car to the head? Because I wouldn't." He scanned the space behind the kid idly, trying not to look too interested. Steve's whole plan had basically been to sneak up on the kid and subdue him non-violently, but Tony was really anxious to see how Steve managed that with a kid strong enough to make Luke Cage think twice about getting into a fight.
The kid spun on Tony and hurled a piece of debris the size of a wardrobe in Tony's direction. Tony ducked back behind the teacup as it went sailing past and crashed against the fortune-teller's stall behind him.
"Hey," Tony objected, risking a glance over the teacup. "Seriously, what's your problem? Grow up."
The kid stared. "You can't talk to me like that!"
"Well, that's funny," Tony rolled his eyes, "because I'm pretty sure I just did. Damn. I should try to do something else impossible. Think if I wish really hard I can arrange world peace?"
The kid was mostly staring at him now, and damn if he didn't look to be about thirteen. It reinforced his mutant theory; kids started coming into their powers at about that age. And it wasn't uncommon for something to go really, really wrong if the kid turned out to have serious power. Schools should have classes or something, they really should. Gym, music, art, sex ed and – what would they call it? Mutant awakening class? Number one on the syllabus would definitely be How not to freak out and destroy everything around you the first time your powers manifest. They could get the X-Men to guest lecture and tell about all the crap they'd destroyed over the years. Except it was probably some kind of crime to let Wolverine within a hundred yards of that many impressionable kids.
"You got a list of demands, or something?" Tony asked when it became obvious the kid wasn't going to answer. "You know – money, helicopter, passport?" He eyed the kid up and down. "You're too young for most of the other stuff they always ask for."
"I – what?" The kid looked thoroughly confused now and completely disarmed. He was standing with his hands at his sides and his head was cocked slightly to the side as he blinked at Tony. He was calming down, which was a good sign.
"Your big list of supervillain demands," Tony repeated. He kept his voice calm and even, but couldn't entirely eliminate the edge of amusement he was feeling. "That's what this is all about, right?"
"I- I'm not a supervillain."
Tony couldn't entirely mask a sympathetic wince. "Kid, take a really good look around you. This didn't all happen by accident."
The kid seemed to crumple in on himself. "I didn't mean to!"
"But you did," Tony said relentlessly. He saw Steve making his way toward the kid, the solid, no-nonsense super soldier stride that Tony'd recognize anywhere. "What was so important that you had to destroy an entire amusement park and terrify hundreds of people?"
"I-" he gulped in air and looked painfully young. "I don't want – they were all afraid of me and I just wanted them to stop. I just wanted – I'm not a super villain, I'm not."
Captain America clasped a hand on the kid's shoulder and smiled down at him as the kid gaped and then started to tremble. "I believe you, son. But you've got some work to do to make up for this."
"I could swoon," Tony declared.
Steve shot him an admonishing glance, but didn't rise to the bait. That had never, ever been enough to stop Tony before, and frankly he was disappointed that Steve thought it would be enough now.
"You were so manly," Tony said. He was leaning against a police cruiser, the kid – Jason – between him and Steve. They were all covered in dust and Jason was probably going to be wasted when his body caught up with the amount of energy he'd just expended, but no one was injured. A horde of reporters was lined up along the police barricade, snapping pictures at them and hollering the occasional question, but for now Tony was ignoring them. "The way you just strode in and took command of the situation. How butch."
"Tony," Steve said, a flush staining his cheeks beneath the cowl. He jerked his chin at Jason who was ignoring them in favor of a large box of saltwater taffy he'd snagged from a wrecked confection stand near the entrance. Tony had considered making him put it back, but he had to be crashing and anyway, it wasn't like the original owner could still sell it. He'd find out whose stall it had been and send them a check.
Something inside the park collapsed with a dull crash and a billowing cloud of dust. Tony sighed. A large check.
"That is so gay," Jason said, rolling his eyes at their banter as he gnawed on a pink piece of taffy. Tony appreciated the irony for a moment before he reached over and smacked the kid upside the back of his head.
"Hey!" Jason and Steve both objected and Steve followed it up by added, somewhat exasperated, "Tony, there are reporters and now there's going to be a solid weak of articles about Tony Stark: Child Abuser!"
"Supervillan wannabees who wreck up the joint and ruin my first day off in months should watch their mouths," Tony said, ignoring Steve, because really. "You want to prove you aren't a bad guy? You can start by not saying ignorant shit."
"Sorry," Jason mumbled, blushing bright red and looking all of nine years old. "I didn't mean anything by it. Sir."
Tony crossed his arms over his chest. "This is the worst date I've ever been on, Steven. I expect better next time."
Steve shot him a startled look, then immediately looked away. But not before Tony saw the flash of – of.
Relief. Intense, almost desperate. Followed immediately by disappointment and then the blank face of the super-soldier at work.
Tony stared. "This was a date?"
"Ha!" Jason said. "I was right!" He shoved a piece of taffy in his mouth and dodged Tony's next slap upside the head, but Tony couldn't be bothered to follow through.
"Steve," he said, and he heard the low rumble in his voice. "Steve. Was this a date?"
"Not really?" Steve said tentatively. He scrubbed a hand over his eyes. "I mean, this wasn't – no? I didn't think you'd consider it a date."
Tony realized he was gaping with his mouth open and snapped it shut. He tried to process that statement and kept getting hung up on one thing. "But you considered it a date?"
Steve sighed. "Can we do this later? When there aren't under-aged kids listening to every word we say?"
"No," Tony said, raising his voice to be heard over the sound of another siren as a fifth fire truck arrived on scene, despite the total lack of fires. "Hell no. You are not doing this. I drop this now and you'll go beg Fury to send you on a mission for SHIELD and the next time I see you it'll be all awkward and I am not going that route. Did you consider it a date?"
Steve gave the sky a look that strongly suggested he was glaring at God himself for tasking him with such a difficult friend. "Maybe?"
"Ouch," Jason said through a mouthful of taffy. "Wrong answer, big guy. Princess looks mad."
"Maybe," Tony echoed flatly. "Maybe. How many 'maybe' dates have you taken me on? How long have you been dating me in your mind while I thought we were being friends?"
"We are friends," Steve said fiercely. "Don't ever – you're my best friend in the world, Tony."
"Best friend you wanna do," Jason said.
"Shut up," Steve and Tony snapped in chorus.
"We are friends," Steve said again, softer this time. "I mean that. I'd never risk that. I wouldn't be risking it now except – I'm sorry. I overreacted to what you said."
"Is this a sex thing?" Tony asked, fascinated at how quickly Steve turned bright pink while Jason made faces at him. "And be honest with me. If it is, there's nothing wrong with that."
"It's not – no," Steve said. "I mean, I do think – you're very handsome," he said, almost shyly. "I would like to – but it's not just that. It's more than that."
"So you really want to date? Me?"
"I want our friendship to be okay," Steve said, stepping just a little closer, one hand coming up like he meant to clasp Tony's shoulder, but hesitating as if the touch wouldn't be welcome. "Everything else is something I can live without. Tell me I didn't mess up our friendship today, Tony."
"You didn't mess up anything," Tony promised him. His stomach felt tight, tense, and he took a quick breath before he lost his courage. "I think you made things even better."
"I-" Steve stilled and his focus sharpened on Tony, the battlefield awareness that saw every possible strategy and devised outcomes and plans of attack. It was almost heavy. Tony felt that focus settle on him like a weight and decided he liked it. "Tony," Steve said slowly, and he reached out again. His hand was trembling, just a little, when he touched Tony's shoulder. "Would you like to get dinner later?"
"I would," Tony said. "Do I have to wait till after dinner to kiss you?"
Strong hands cupped his face and then Steve was kissing him, sweet and slow and a little hesitant. Tony made a sound that was absolutely not a whimper and when Steve pulled back Tony followed him, claiming another.
Steve's thumb brushed over his jaw line as they paused for breath. "I liked that," Steve said. "That was good. That was very good."
"We should do that again," Tony declared, leaning into Steve's touch.
Steve laughed, sounding a little shaky. Tony figured it was at least half breathlessness and half residual nerves. "I think you're onto something." He wrapped his arms around Tony and pulled him against Steve's chest in a quick embrace. "I think we're really onto something here," he said again, softer, his lips pressed against Tony's hair.
"I just want you both to know," Jason said, shaking a piece of taffy in their direction. "That I am both scarred for life, and also taking notes. But seriously, can you stop sucking face long enough to explain all this to my mom? Because she's going to murder me when she gets the bill for this. You guys are against murdering kids, right?" There was the sound of a car door slamming and a woman's voice yelling Jason's name. Tony looked up in time to see Jason's face go pale. "Oh crap. Seriously, you guys are gonna explain, right? Guys?"
Tony was aware of the flash of cameras, of the arrival of their teammates, of the sound of someone who could only be Spider-Man singing "Sitting in a tree!" loudly and off-key.
"Best date ever," he announced, and Steve laughed.