"That one guy from the store—"
"Okay, what about the guy from the time we—"
Bucky rolls his eyes and elbows his friend in the ribs as they walk. Steve gives him a grin and a punch to the shoulder in return.
"What?" Bucky asks innocently.
"I’ll date when I’m ready to date. More importantly, I’ll date when I feel like I actually have a connection with someone, not just because there’s a pretty face in front of me."
Bucky is silent for a moment. It’s a short moment. “Speaking of pretty faces, I heard that Amanda—”
“Bucky,” Steve says again, thoroughly exasperated.
"Look, just go on one date. That’s all I ask. I’m tired of seeing you sit around all weekend with that mopey look on your face."
"My face is not mopey."
"How would you know, you’re not the one forced to look at it."
Steve sighs. “One date and you’ll get off my back?”
Bucky shrugs. “For a couple of weeks, at least.”
Steve groans and rethinks his taste in friends not for the first time in their long, long history together.
"Fine," he says. "But no setting me up. I’ll choose who, when and where."
Bucky grins at him. “Deal.”
They arrive at the crosswalk and wait patiently for the light to turn. It takes longer than normal, which must give Bucky ample time to think.
"Stop. I’m being serious here."
Steve’s eyebrows go up as he turns to look at Bucky incredulously.
"Fuck off," Bucky says to his expression. "If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. Seriously. I don’t want to make you—-if you’re not ready. I just think… it might help?"
Steve smiles. “Don’t worry about it. Have you ever known me to do something I don’t want to do? Besides, you’re right. Maybe it’ll be nice to get myself out there again.”
Bucky smirks. “Of course I’m right, I usually—” he cuts off suddenly, looking at something over Steve’s shoulder before letting out a slow whistle.
Steve can’t help it, he turns to look as well, and it’s not hard to figure out what had caught Bucky’s attention. The gleaming fire-engine red of what must be an incredibly expensive car stopped at the light would have grabbed anyone’s. But when Steve gets a look at the driver, his mouth goes dry.
He looks like he stepped off the cover of a men’s fashion magazine, the suit he’s wearing clearly worth more than Steve’s entire wardrobe. His strangely intricate and immaculate facial hair only serves to draw Steve’s eyes down to thick, full lips that have a thousand thoughts spinning through his mind.
As if sensing Steve’s entirely inappropriate and impolite staring, the driver turns his head in their direction. He can’t possibly be looking at them, but Steve finds himself standing straighter and trying to pick his jaw up off the ground, snapping his mouth shut, all the same.
And then the man in the car tilts his sunglasses up and they lock eyes. A smile stretches over his beautiful lips right as he winks—at Steve. Steve is vaguely aware of the choking noise behind him as his brain rushes to process what’s happening.
Steve’s not sure what happens next. When he tells Bucky later, he says it’s as if someone else had taken over his body, moving his limbs and making Steve do what he did. But there’s no other explanation for the reason why Steve finds himself lifting his hand to his ear, thumb and pinky extended, and mouthing ‘call me’ at the beautiful man who has him caught in his gaze.
The grin drops off the driver’s face, expression turning from surprise to contemplation. And that, of course, is the precise moment the light changes and Steve gets swept up in a mass of people crossing the street. By the time he makes it to the other side, the red car and its driver are nowhere in sight.
It takes Bucky a good hour to stop laughing.
Steve has a good memory for faces, remembering people for years even if they’ve only spoken briefly. It’s come in handy on more than one occasion. In this case, though, Steve feels like this man has been branded across his brain in a way he can’t figure out. He fully expects to never see him again, given the population and intensity of New York City, but he doesn’t expect he’ll ever forget him. It’s a little pathetic, he thinks, how often he replays that moment in his mind for the rest of the day.
It’s part of the reason why he trips and stumbles that evening when he walks into the art gallery. It’s been a long time since he’s felt clumsy and unsteady in his own skin, but the sight of the driver standing and talking to the director along with a beautiful, tall redhead, makes his limbs seem a little too long, a little too big for him.
The odd cadence of his footsteps on the tile along with the loud ‘thwack’ as his shoe hits the ground trying to right himself, catches their attention and Steve is left in the gaze of three very amused people. He feels his ears heat up as the man, shorter than Steve expects, realizes who he is, that same grin from before taking over his face.
Fury waves him over and Steve swallows the lump in his throat and goes. He stands quietly as Fury introduces him and works on not embarrassing himself when the driver—Tony Stark—offers his hand. Steve takes it, shaking it firmly, and tries not to give in to the shiver threatening to travel up his spine.
He stands quietly, trying to pay attention to whatever Fury is discussing with Pepper Potts, but he can feels Tony’s eyes on him. When he looks, the expression on Tony’s face has a wave of heat washing over his body. He averts his gaze quickly, catching the ghost of a smile on Tony’s lips out of the corner of his eye.
It continues like that for another twenty minutes. Tony catching his eyes and making Steve flush, and Steve looking away trying to retain his composure.
When Ms. Potts and Fury start talking contracts and paperwork, they decide to head to his office. Ms. Potts spares Tony a look that says quite clearly, ‘behave’ without speaking and leaves Steve and Tony alone in the empty gallery.
Silence permeates the space, Steve is left unsure of what to say given the unusual nature of their… meetings. Luckily, Tony breaks the silence.
“It’s hard to call someone without having their number, you know.”
It startles a laugh out of Steve, which seems to please Tony if his open smile is anything to go by.
“Yeah, sorry about that. I don’t really know what came over me. I don’t usually—“
“Hit on complete strangers you’re probably never going to see again?”
Steve lifts an eyebrow. “Well, obviously that’s not true.”
“You didn’t know that at the time.”
Tony hums, bouncing up to the balls of his feet for a second as he looks around the gallery. “I’ve got an idea.”
Steve narrows his eyes at him. “I’ve only just met you but I get the feeling that phrase tends to get you in trouble.”
Tony laughs, and Steve’s heart does what feels like a little pirouette in his chest.
“You have no idea how right you are, Steve.”
There’s a deep sense of satisfaction in the way Tony says his name. He wants to hear it again. Which is partly why he can’t be blamed for what comes out of his mouth next.
“What’s your idea?”
Tony’s responding grin takes the breath out of him, and he feels the way his body is reacting to Tony already is only a hint of what’s to come.
“Let’s blow this popsicle stand,” Tony says. “There’s a restaurant up the street that I’m sure has a pen or two.”
Steve confusion must show on his face, because Tony smiles and continues.
“For you to write down your number.”
“That is, if you’re still interested.”
Steve’s voice cracks a little. “Yes—yes. That sounds good. Let’s do that.”
The restaurant is nice, the food delicious, and Tony is fascinating and extremely intelligent, not to mention how he makes Steve laugh. The conversation between them flows effortlessly.
Tony is also a very, very good kisser. Which is why Tony is astride Steve’s lap on the couch, shirtless, when Bucky walks in later that night.
“Jesus, Steve,” Bucky says, standing motionless in the doorway.
Steve freezes and pulls away from Tony’s mouth, eyes wide. He thought Bucky would be spending the night elsewhere. Tony smoothly slides off of Steve’s lap and onto the cushion next to him, casually grabbing his shirt off the floor and sliding his arms through it, leaving it unbuttoned.
Tony grins at Bucky. “So you must be the famous Bucky Barnes. I’ve heard so much about you.”
“Really? I’m sorry but I have no idea who you—“ he cuts himself off, his eyes narrowing at Tony before widening and moving over to Steve.
“Oh my god,” Bucky says and Steve groans, letting his head fall against the back of the couch.
“Holy shit,” Bucky says, laughter clearly threatening to break through.
Tony is grinning like this is the best thing he’s seen all week.
Bucky shakes his head. “I’m at a loss. I have no idea what to say here.” He pauses, trying to find words. “Nope. I’ve got nothing. I’m going to go to bed, and you guys had better not fuck on that couch or I will end both of you. We can all talk about how the fuck you two met at breakfast tomorrow. Good? Good.”
He follows this up by walking by as quickly as he can, looking everywhere but the couch, and heading down the hall to the bedroom. When the door clicks shut, Steve rolls his head to the side to look at Tony. Tony stares back. They break into a fit of laughter that’s only broken when Steve clears his throat and stands up. Tony looks up at him curiously.
“You heard what he said,” Steve says.
Tony lifts a brow. “About the couch or the roundabout invitation to breakfast?”
“Both,” Steve says, slowly looking Tony up and down.
Tony stands and steps into Steve’s space, putting a hand on Steve’s hip. “What’s your alternative?”
Steve can’t believe he’s about to sleep with a guy he only met that day, but maybe everyone needs to do something crazy once in awhile. And he gets the feeling that Tony doesn’t do things normally anyway.
“My bed. Possibly the wall next to it. Maybe the shower. We’ll see how things go, I suppose.”
Tony inhales sharply. “This is not at all how I expected the day to go when I was dragged along to that meeting.”
Steve bends down and nips at Tony’s neck. “Are you disappointed?” he murmurs into the skin.
“Fuck no,” Tony says.
Steve finds that he isn’t either. Not one bit.