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later on, we'll conspire

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“What do you mean you’ve never been--”

“Nope.”

“Never?”

“Never.”

“But--”

“Sorry, Cap. Just wasn’t a thing we did.”

Steve stares at him like he’s a puzzle, like he’s trying to unravel the mystery that is Tony Stark. Tony returns the gaze, eyebrows lifted like, ‘what can ya do?’ as he snuggles further into the warm couch. There’s a shift in Steve’s eyes, a decision made, and he’s marking his place in his book and setting it on the table.

“Alright, come on,” he says, standing up and clapping his hands together.

Tony doesn’t move, save for squinting slightly at the man now offering him his hand.

“Tony,” Steve says, his eyes wide and pleading.

And that’s it for Tony, that’s always it, he’s never been able to say no to that look on Steve’s face. He groans and lets Steve haul him off the couch, ignoring the way his hand tingles in the warm clasp of Steve’s.

“Put on your warmest clothes, I’ll meet you back here in thirty,” Steve say. The gentle command in his voice leaves no room for negotiation.

Tony groans but does as he’s told, he only briefly contemplates the fact that he’s become very adept at follow Steve’s orders. It might have something to do with the fact that he’s a teensy bit in love with the man, but Tony likes to pretend it’s just pragmatism.

Half an hour later, Steve is looking him over in the middle of the room and shaking his head.

“That’s the warmest thing you own?”

Tony looks down at his black peacoat, leather gloves, and red scarf that’s more style than substance, and shrugs. “It’s gotten me through more than a few New York winters.”

“Have any of those winters involved actual encounters with snow other than on the bottom of your shoes--Tony, you’re not even wearing boots!”

Tony says nothing.

Steve sighs. “We can’t go with you dressed like that.”

“Sounds good to me,” Tony says. He starts unwinding his scarf, ready to resume his prior position on the couch.

“Not getting out of it that easy, Tony.” Steve says.

Tony sighs.


 

Another half an hour later, Tony is shifting around awkwardly in the elevator. Under his coat, the additional too-big sweaters Steve has stuffed him into make it nearly impossible for his arms to hang comfortably at his side. He would complain, except that he’s trying to quietly enjoy the fact that the sweaters smell like Steve. It makes sense, seeing as they are Steve’s sweaters. He had taken one look at Tony’s closet, rolled his eyes, and marched them both to his room.

Tony studiously avoids looking at himself in the reflective surfaces of the elevator, knowing how ridiculous he must appear in Steve’s sweaters. And Steve’s super thick and warm knit scarf. And the mittens. And hat. Luckily, they wear close to the same shoe size, so Steve’s extra boots had fit him pretty well with the addition of a thick pair of socks. The only saving grace of this ridiculous get-up is Steve’s super thick and warm knit scarf  wrapped around Tony’s face. At least this way he isn’t likely to be spotted out in public.

Beside him, Steve is quietly humming a Christmas song, a small smile on his face. When he notices Tony looking at him, he stares back. His lips twitch for a second and then he breaks out into laughter.

“You look ridiculous,” he says.

Tony grumbles in reply, words muffled by the scarf.

“But you’ll be warm,” Steve adds. “That’s what matters.”

The rest of the elevator ride is in comfortable silence while Tony tries not to be too obvious about the way he’s smelling the faint hint of cologne from Steve’s borrowed clothing.


 

“We’ll have to stop in somewhere and buy a sled on the way,” Steve says as they walk outside. No one is giving them a second glance as they make their way down the street.

“What about your shield?” Tony asks, half-joking.

Steve turns to him and gives him a level, almost haunted, look. “I’d rather not end the day with a broken bone. We’ll buy a sled.”

Tony lips curve into a grin under the scarf and he opens his mouth ready to press the issue, when Steve raises his eyebrows and says, “Don’t ask.”

Tony laughs but lets go of the topic. Then he notices the direction they’re heading and groans.

“You didn’t tell me the subway was involved in this. I could’ve called a car. Or flown us myself.”

Steve laughs, bumping into Tony’s shoulder good-naturedly.

“Today, we’re doing things my way.”

Tony huffs. “Your call, old man. Where are we going?”

Steve grins brightly. “Brooklyn. I know just the place.”


 

The subway and one procured sled later, Tony and Steve watch as kids slide and snowboard down the hill. The cold is biting at the parts of Tony’s face that are uncovered, and while he’s not about to say anything, he’s grateful that Steve, however unceremoniously, shoved him into the additional clothing.

He looks at Steve, and the expression on his face tells Tony that he’s working out a plan of attack. Scouting for the best route down the hill, Tony supposes. Steve grabs his hand and tugs, motioning for Tony to follow him. Tony’s only slightly disappointed that they’re both wearing gloves, that he’s unable to feel the warmth of Steve’s hand in his own.

Dropping the sled to the ground, Steve puts his foot on it to keep it in place. He looks at Tony, expectantly.

Tony squints at him, but moves around to the front of the sled. His attempt to sit is graceless, the long johns and sweatpants under his jeans making his movements stiff, and he ends up more falling than sitting. But he’s on the sled, and apparently that’s what matters to Steve.

He tucks his legs as best he can on the sled, and holds on to the rim, waiting for Steve to give him a push to get started. There’s movement behind him, a hand on his shoulder, and then pressure on either side of his hips.

“Scoot forward a bit, ya lunk,” Steve says right into Tony’s ear. Tony covers his slight jump at Steve’s nearness by doing as asked and moving forward as much as he can.

Steve’s long, long legs on either side of him explain the pressure he felt on his hips, and he feels Steve settle onto the sled behind him.

“Uh, what are you doing?” Tony asks.

“You think I’m going to let you go down on your own the first time?” He asks.

Tony bites his tongue before the joke can escape his mouth. Steve must take Tony’s silence as agreement and they spent the next minute or two figuring out how best to fit two full-grown adult males on one sled. It results in Tony’s back being firmly pressed against Steve’s chest, Steve’s legs curled around his own, nearly on top of them. When Steve snakes his arm around Tony’s waist, Tony is simultaneously relieved and disappointed that no one’s recognized them yet. While he wouldn’t particularly care for this scene being front page of the news tomorrow, he also wouldn’t mind having a photo of them like this in his personal possession.

“Ready?” Steve asks. And while Tony is ready for his closeness this time, it still doesn’t do anything to help the small shiver that runs down his spine at the feeling of Steve’s breath on his cheek.

“I’m ready for a warm drink, if that’s what you mean.”

Steve laughs and knocks lightly on the side of Tony’s head. “Behave and we’ll see about that afterwards. Now hold on, I don’t want to be responsible for knocking Iron Man out of commission because of a sledding accident.”

Tony rolls his eyes, but holds on nevertheless. And then they’re moving. Slow for a second, as Steve pushes them closer to where the hill starts to drop off. And then there’s a second arm around Tony’s waist, the sled tilts down, and off they go.

The wind is cold and biting and Tony’s eyes are tearing up, the spray of snow from the front of the sled only making it worse, but it’s… fun. It’s actually really fun. It reminds him a bit of flying in his armor, hurtling through the air at a breakneck speed, but this has the added benefit of Steve’s arms around him. That certainly helps.

His scarf is whipping around behind him, the sound of the snow under the plastic sled makes him almost nostalgic for something he never had, but the thing he really enjoys is the little laughs he hears behind him whenever they go over a bump or dip in the snow. It takes him a moment to realize that his own lips are stretched into a wide smile.

He feels Steve leaning behind him and the sled turns slightly to the left, aiming for a small ramp they had seen some snowboarders going over earlier.

“Hold on!”

Steve is good at a lot of things including mapping and planning routes, so Tony trusts his decision and grips a little tighter, belatedly realizing that he’s holding on to Steve’s arm around his waist instead of the sled. Unfortunately, while Steve is good at a lot of things, the people around them aren’t as adept. Especially the two young girls in the pink sled that seem to appear out of nowhere and are careening towards them.

Steve swears and does his best to change course, but it’s too little too late, and the pink sled collides with them right at the base of the ramp. With their speed and trajectory they go up the ramp anyway. With the collision and surprise, however, they’ve both managed to let go of the sled and are sent into the air without it.

It’s a haze of loud noises and a bit of pain from there on. When Tony’s next aware of his surroundings, it’s to the sound of Steve saying his name and the feeling of very cold, very wet snow that his face is currently planted in. There’s a tug on his shoulder and then he’s rolled over. He squints into the bright sun before focusing on Steve’s face. Steve’s face which is very pink, and very concerned, under a tuft of blonde hair that looks like it’s been through a windstorm.

Tony bursts into laughter that trails off into giggles. Steve smiles down at him and relaxes, shaking his head.

“You alright?” Steve asks.

Tony giggles again. “All bones intact, Cap. Trust me, I’ve got plenty of padding today.”

Tony gets the vague feeling that Steve’s holding back from sticking out his tongue, which makes him laugh all over again.

“Sorry,” Steve says, but he’s still smiling. “Obviously I didn’t mean for that to happen.”

Tony laughs. “It’s alright.”

They’re silent for a moment, and Tony’s sure Steve is about to say something about going home, but Tony beats him to it.

“You know what they say. Practice makes perfect. Round two?”

Steve’s returning smile is even more blinding that the sun above him.


 

By the time they’re ready to call it a night, the sun is actually going down. And while it looks like the kids and teenagers are still going strong, they’re both starting to get lingering looks that Tony associates with a, “Hey, are you…” and they both decide it’d be better to head out.

As they’re walking away from the park, the noise of kids screaming and laughing fades, replaced by the quiet sounds of snow shifting beneath their feet. Tony steals a glance at Steve, who has a small smile playing on his lips. He unwinds the damp scarf from around his neck, now doing more harm than good with amount of melted snow in it, and drapes it over his shoulder.

He clears his throat. “So what about that warm drink?”

Steve looks over at him, lifts an eyebrow. “I suppose you did behave…”

“Don’t count me out, the night’s still young, Cap.“

Steve laughs and rolls his eyes. “I know just the place.”

The place happens to be a small hole in the wall a few blocks away from the park that serves the best non-alcoholic hot apple cider that Tony’s ever had in his life. He loves it so much that Steve literally has to drag him out by the arm after his third offer to buy the place and move it to Stark Tower.

They’re stumbling out the door, trading gentle, playful shoves when Tony’s boot catches in the doorframe and he stumbles. Steve’s reflexes save him and he once again finds himself staring up into that handsome face… and the mistletoe in the doorway above him.

“Oh,” he breathes out.

Steve glances up as he rights Tony and freezes. “Well, that’s…” he says before trailing off awkwardly, eyes still on the offending plant.

Tony does his best to laugh it off. “Guess that’s one tradition you’d do better to avoid,” he says as he walks out onto the sidewalk, wrapping the slightly-less-damp scarf around his neck. It’s started to snow again. Thick, fluffy white clumps that catch in the streetlamps and make everything look like they’re living in a shaken-up snow globe.

He turns to head towards the subway but only makes it a few feet before he hears Steve’s footsteps behind him. A hand wraps around his wrist and pulls him into the small, dark alley next to the building they just came out of. He finds his back pressed up against the brick wall in short order, Steve towering over him.

He stares at Tony in silence, contemplating. Tony’s throat sticks, and he thinks that even if he could find the words to say, he wouldn’t be able to make a sound with the way Steve is looking at him.

And then Steve leans in. He leans in until it’s absolutely clear what he intends to do, what he wants to do, but he doesn’t close the distance. He’s waiting for Tony to give him the permission to move those final few centimeters.

Permission is granted in the way Tony brings up his arms and curls his fists into the material of Steve’s thick coat. There’s a flicker of a smile that crosses Steve’s lips before they touch Tony’s, and then the last of what remained of Tony’s coherent thoughts fly right out of his head as Steve presses in closer, bodily pressing Tony into the wall as his tongue darts out and traces Tony’s bottom lip.

Tony groans and opens his mouth, kissing back with every scrap of talent and passion he has in his body.

When they break apart, lips slick and red, breathing heavy, Steve doesn’t go far. He simply rests his forehead against Tony’s as they breathe each other in.

“Sorry. Didn’t want our first kiss to be in front of an audience,” Steve says.

“What about our second kiss?” Tony asks, looking up at him through his eyelashes.

Steve’s smirks. “Do you have any ideas?”

“I know just the place,” Tony says. “Besides, I’d like to return these clothes to where they came from.”

Steve’s eyes darken. “Yeah, yeah. Let’s--let’s go home,” he says, already pulling Tony away from the wall.

Home has never sounded better, Tony thinks, laughing as Steve tugs him along. He’s in quite the hurry. But it’s not like Tony can blame him.