Later, Steve looks back and he’s completely at a loss as to where the sudden burst of courage came from.
Tony had just looked so adorable, sitting there next him in faded jeans and socked feet, with his hair all mussed up from leaning against the back of the couch. He was so close that Steve could feel the faint warmth of him radiating from his body, and Steve had thought more than once since the eccentric genius had flopped down there, how easy it would be to scoot over and press the length of his leg against him.
Of course, that wasn’t an option, but that wasn’t anything new.
Steve sated his desire for his teammate’s touch by relishing in their proximity, enjoying the way that even as he sat next to him, in typical Tony fashion he was far from being still. His hands were a flurry of movement on the tablet on his lap, and he was muttering words to himself, scientific jargon that Steve didn’t understand, but he’d always quite liked the sound of Tony’s voice. It was rather welcome background noise for Steve as he loosely sketched a drawing of the team, who currently were all flopped around the room in various states of dozing. Soft snoring came from one of them, probably Thor, accenting the sound of quiet Christmas music playing in the background.
Then, that song had come on.
He’d heard it before, in stores and on the radio, the low crooning of a deep voice mingling with the gentle strokes of piano keys, smooth and blissful.
I’m dreaming tonight of a place I love …
He’d looked over then, looked at Tony in the soft lamplight, the way the arc reactor burned faintly in his chest, the concentration hovering around the curve of his lips. There was something about it, the swell of the music around them on that quiet December night that gave Steve that spark, that sliver of courage that made him stand up, tall and resolute, and offer a shaking hand to Tony.
"Dance with me," he said quietly, meaning for it to come out as a confident suggestion, but instead heard the way his voice trembled slightly with nervousness. However, if Steve was known for anything, it wasn’t for backing out of a challenge. He forced himself to stand still, to hold his ground.
Tony looked up, his expression vague and confused for a moment as he stared at Steve’s hand, clearly not processing what Steve’s intentions were. Then he looked up to meet Steve’s eyes, and asked plainly; “What?”
Steve cleared his throat, and spoke again. “Will you dance with me?”
I promise you…
Tony blinked up at him, utter confusion on his face. “Seriously?”
"Uh, yes," Steve answered, trying so hard to keep his voice steady and his hand extended. There was no undoing this now, he might as well see it through ‘til the end, even if the end meant him dissolving into a puddle of humiliation.
Tony set his tablet aside on the coffee table, still staring at him. “You’re asking me to dance with you?”
I’ll be home for Christmas…
Steve let out a breathy laugh. Hearing the words out loud definitely didn’t help the situation. “Yes, it seems like I am. You don’t have to, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have-“
"No, no." Tony was shaking his head. "I’m just surprised. Didn’t think you danced, Rogers."
"I don’t," Steve admitted with a small shrug. He paused before continuing, that strange force of courage in his gut fiery and urgent, spurring him to say words that couldn’t be taken to mean anything other than they actually did. "Never found anyone I wanted to dance with."
Steve hadn’t imagined that he’d ever render Tony Stark speechless.
"Look," Steve said quietly, "you don’t have to, you can say no if-"
"Yes," Tony blurted, seeming to be surprised by the loudness of his voice in the quiet room. He cleared his throat. "Yes," he said again, quieter, and suddenly he was standing in front of Steve, fingers closing warm and secure around his hand.
Steve knew his smile was comically pleased, bordering on foolishly ecstatic, and he would’ve been embarrassed about it, except that Tony’s answering smile was soft and tentative and so beautiful it ached. His fingers were tangled in his own, fitting against his hand like that’s where it belonged. He couldn’t bring himself to be embarrassed when something as simple as this could make him feel so blissfully happy.
Christmas Eve will find me, where the love light gleams…
He pulled Tony closer to him, bringing him further into the center of the room, trying not to revel too much in the fact that they naturally came together with no hesitation from either of them; Tony’s hand moving to rest lightly on his shoulder, his own hand cupping the curve of his hip through the thinness of his shirt. He couldn’t wipe that stupid smile off his face, but it was okay, but Tony was smiling back at him still, and Steve was pretty sure he could see a kind of contentment there that resembled his own.
I’ll be home for Christmas…
Then they were moving together, slowly, a bit awkwardly at first because Steve didn’t really know how to dance and Tony wasn’t the best at leading him through it, but it didn’t really matter. They stumbled a bit, their movements flickering between smooth and abrupt, both of them trying to find the right rhythm.
Steve didn’t care. Tony could step on his feet and leave him with broken toes and he wouldn’t mind, because Tony was looking back at him with that soft smile in the faint golden light of the room, and Steve thought that in that moment he wouldn’t rather be anywhere else in the world. This was enough.
Looking down at Tony, after they’d started to move together more languidly, their feet knocking into each other’s less and less, he found himself singing to Tony, the words quiet and secret as they escaped his lips on his breath.
"I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams…"
They were so close, so close that Steve could see in detail the fluttering of his eyelashes, the faint flush that spread across his cheeks, the undeniable sparkle in his eyes. Steve could feel his breath against his lips in tiny puffs, could feel the warmth of him seeping into his skin. They were almost nose to nose, eyes locked and intent on each other, something so delicate and poignant there that Steve wouldn’t have dared to look away from the golden coffee brown of Tony’s eyes.
"Can I read into this?" Tony asked quietly, and Steve faltered for a moment at the words, hearing the tiny twinge of doubt there. Tony was looking at him with unmistakable hope, with eyes that looked at Steve in the same way that Steve was sure he looked at Tony all the time.
Steve could be so blind sometimes.
"Yes," he whispered.
If only in my dreams…
Tony leaned in, closing that fraction of an inch between them, his eyes never leaving Steve’s. They were searching, as if they were waiting for Steve to back away from him, to let go and walk away, even though Steve had been the one to ask him to dance. Their lips hovered there, so close but not touching, for a few moments, frozen together in a glitch in time, as if they were both realizing simultaneously the magnitude of what they were about to do.
Steve knew that once he kissed Tony, there would be no going back. He was more than fine with that.
“Please have some snow, and mistletoe…”
Tony stole the tail end of the phrase Steve sung from his lips, taking them for his own with the gentle press of his mouth against his. There was a sound that was almost a gasp, and Steve was sure it was him, but he paid it no mind. Tony stole from his lips what Steve was giving him willingly. Pressed together, frozen in that incandescent moment in time, they melded into each other like paint blending on a canvas. Two effervescent colours melting together, becoming new and vibrant, becoming more of themselves with just that gentle, undemanding touch.
Steve’s hand cupped the back of Tony’s neck, and Tony had his fingers curled tightly in the fabric of Steve’s shirt, clinging as if he needed an anchor. His lips were gentle against Steve’s, gentle and so soft, and Steve wouldn’t have had it any other way.
So it was there, in the living room of the tower, in the midst of their best friends and team mates who slept even though the world was shifting under their feet, that they danced for the first of many times. They rode the wave of the final strains of the song, lost in the music, and lost in each other.
If only in my dreams…