Jan was at her wit's end.
She'd thought nothing could possibly be more frustrating than watching Steve and Tony stubbornly pine for each other for no reason at all. If either one of them would just say something, they could be infinitely happier.
But she'd been wrong. Even more frustrating than watching the two numbskulls grow increasingly heartsick was trying to do something about it and watching as they sabotaged plan after plan without even realizing they were doing it.
It had reached comedy of errors proportions, it really had, which was the only reason Jan had given in and let Peter talk her into this latest scheme. It was juvenile and ridiculous and it was never going to work, but Jan was desperate enough that employing mistletoe to trick Tony and Steve into kissing had actually sounded reasonable when Peter suggested it.
Heck, it was Christmas. Maybe they'd get a Christmas miracle and it would work. God knew it would take a miracle to get those two men to pull their heads out of the sand.
Of course, now that the mistletoe was strategically placed around Stark Tower and the Christmas party--all members of the community, and most of them unmasked--was in full swing, Jan was pretty sure that Peter had been motivated more by hopes that she and Ororo would get caught under the mistletoe together than by a genuine interest in helping her with her matchmaking. The worst part was, when the moment inevitably came in the midst of the party, there was no way Jan could refuse, not if she expected Steve and Tony to kiss. Fortunately, Ororo was both a good sport and an excellent coconspirator; they'd managed to maneuver Peter and Bruce under the little plant in retribution. The expression on Peter's face had been priceless.
But somehow, in the midst of all these machinations and despite Jan, Peter, and Storm watching them like hawks, Steve and Tony never got caught under the mistletoe together. Separately, sure. Jan had scored a very sweet kiss from Steve herself. But not together, despite the fact that they'd spent half the party at each other's side. And the evening was starting to wind down.
This called for desperate measures.
Jan wove her way through the crowd and over to Peter and whispered in his ear.
"But that's cheating!" he protested.
"This isn't a game, Peter!" Jan said, putting her hands on her hips. "This is about their future happiness! Heck, this is about our future happiness. Do you really want to spend the next God knows how many years watching them pining for each other?" Peter was wavering, she could tell. Jan sighed and threw in an incentive. "I'll kiss Ororo again."
"Done!" Peter said, so cheerfully that Jan had to wonder if she'd been played. Oh, well. It'd be worth it, if this worked.
Steve and Tony were currently migrating through the crowd towards the punch bowl. Jan glanced at the ceiling and smiled to see Peter crawling across it ahead of them, mistletoe in hand. She waited until it was secured and he'd retreated back down the wall before moving into speaking distance and clearing her throat. The two men broke off their discussion and turned to look at her. "Yes, Jan?" Steve asked politely.
Jan smiled and point up at the ceiling. "Mistletoe, boys. You know the drill."
Tony looked up and frowned. "I swear that wasn't there before." He started looking around, but Peter had wisely made himself scarce.
"It's there now," Jan said quickly. Tony paused. A terrible look of sadness started to creep into Steve's eyes.
Jan would be damned if this plan was going to backfire.
"Come on, Tony," Jan chided him. "Steve's going to start thinking there's something wrong with him."
"Jan--" Steve began.
"No, it's okay," Tony interrupted. He set his cup of punch down on the table and turned towards Steve. There was a brief, awkward pause and then Tony brought his fingertips up to rest on Steve's cheek and leaned in to kiss him softly.
For a moment, Jan thought that was going to be it. A sweet, token kiss. But then Steve seemed to relax a bit and he started kissing back, his hand coming up to rest on Tony's hip. Tony made a sound in the back of his throat at the touch and the kiss grew rapidly deeper, their arms sliding around each other, bodies pressing close, movements growing almost frantic.
The other party goers slowly began to stop and stare in an ever-widening circle around Tony and Steve, but they were oblivious, instead clutching at each other as they kissed hungrily. Jan was grinning so broadly her face hurt, and when the whole party had come to a standstill, staring at the men, she couldn't resist starting a round of applause.
It picked up immediately and Tony and Steve quickly broke apart, both of them flushed and startled, though they didn't let go of each other entirely.
"Jan?" Steve asked, bewildered, as the applause trailed off and the grinning party goers started returning to their own conversations.
"You two so owe me for this," Jan said smugly.
Tony's eyes narrowed. "You and your accomplice. I knew that mistletoe wasn't there before."
Jan raised her eyebrows. "Are you objecting to the result?"
Tony looked back at Steve, his expression softening. "No, not at all." He took Steve's hand in his and started pulling him towards the door. "But I think Steve and I need to...talk."
"Have fun 'talking'!" Jan called after them. "We won't expect you back tonight!"
Steve didn't look back, but his neck took on a telltale redness and Jan grinned to herself again. Those two were going to be so much more fun now.