They’re surrounded by smoking ruins. No doubt Fury’s going to give them hell about needless destruction of property - again - but Steve’s discovered that it’s really tough to rein in a fight once it gets going. He’s tried to maintain a degree of discipline amongst the team (despite the fact that he’s beginning to suspect that a part of him shares their deep-seated attraction to mayhem), but it’s a lost cause. When your team includes the God of Thunder and a gigantic, ungovernable embodiment of rage and a loose cannon by the name of Tony Stark, the deck is stacked against you. He’d thought at first that maybe Clint and Natasha would know how to follow orders, but it turns out that they’re just as bad as the rest of them.
“Oops?” says Iron Man, the word sounding strange in its electronic voice. The faceplate slides back, revealing Tony’s face, unholy glee dancing in his eyes as he surveys the vast and total destruction surrounding them. He glances at Steve and makes a less than successful effort to look chagrined. “Maybe we got a bit carried away?”
“I’ll tell Fury to take it out of your paycheck.” Steve grimaces as a telephone pole lets out an agonized groan, tilting slowly toward the ground. Wires snap, the live ends sparking.
“That might not be so easy, seeing as I don’t get a paycheck,” Tony points out.
“Right, well.” Steve sighs, staring off into the distance. “I guess it’ll just have to come out of the taxpayers’ pockets, as usual.”
Tony eyes him sideways. “Has anyone ever told you that you are sneaky and manipulative beneath that all-American façade?”
Steve looks at him blandly. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Tony snorts. “The hell you don’t.”
“We should try to clean this up,” Steve sighs.
“Hmm…” Tony frowns doubtfully, wincing as one of the loose electrical wires ignites a pool of gasoline leaking from a smashed semi. Steve feels a wave of heat hit his face as flames engulf the truck, transforming it into a roiling mass of flame that, he realizes a beat too late, is shooting straight towards them with an enormous whoosh.
And then he’s pulled off balance, gripped tight by Iron Man's arm, his face smashed into the smooth metal of the breastplate as they rocket up and back, Steve’s feet kicking at empty air, his stomach lurching as they plunge down to earth, landing at a safe distance from the fireball.
It all happens in a split second so that he’s still getting his feet under him when he looks up and Tony’s right there, so close, closer than Steve has ever been to him. This close, Tony’s eyes are remarkably large and dark and his mouth is so wide and fine and the amorphous, unutterable feelings that Steve has been aware of whenever he’s around Tony, that he’s been trying to ignore for weeks now, suddenly coalesce into one very concrete, very definable want. He’s not sure but maybe he makes a little noise, and maybe what he’s thinking is all over his face because Tony cocks his head and scrutinizes him very intently for a long moment.
“Well, hellooo,” Tony says, smiling just a bit, and Steve stares at him, transfixed. He knows he should step away (he should have done that already, good Lord, how long has he been standing here with Tony’s arms around him?), tries to make himself move back out of Tony’s embrace, but he doesn’t, he can’t. Tony’s quiet for once in his life. He seems to be waiting for Steve to do something.
So he does.
Steve leans in and their lips touch, just lightly. It’s easy, as it turns out. Tony’s nearly the same height in the Iron Man armor, and he doesn’t pull back or make some stinging remark or sock Steve in the jaw. He just parts his lips a little and sighs and kisses Steve back.
Steve has never kissed a man before. He’s really only kissed a woman twice – or rather, been kissed by two different women once, and that was 70 years ago so it hardly counts.
He’d never thought he’d kiss a man, because back in his day, you just didn’t do that, not even if you wanted to, not even if maybe the other fellow wanted you to too.
It had maybe almost happened once – or, okay, twice – with Bucky. Bucky’d found him, as he was in the habit of doing – getting beat up and had scared the guys off and he’d been there, kneeling in front of Steve, wiping the blood off of Steve’s cut lip with his thumb. There had been something in the air between them, something he didn't truly understand, or at least Steve had told himself that at the time. He’s pretty sure he understands it now.
This kiss is not like it was with Maria or Peggy. Those kisses were – well, they were sexy ones, seductive in Maria’s case, desperate and passionate in Peggy’s. This kiss isn’t about sex, odd as that seems. When Steve had thought about what it would be like to kiss Tony, he’d thought that it would be all about sex, hot and fast and maybe even a little rough, and he’d thought that Tony would be the one to make the first move. Never, ever did he imagine that it would be him.
Steve’s not sure what this kiss is about. He’s not sure about anything anymore but the feel of Tony’s lips against his, the heat of his breath, the warm, slick, surprising touch of his tongue. The swirling acrid smoke, the crumbling buildings, the presence of other people nearby who are likely to come upon Captain America and Iron Man making out like teenagers – all that is silenced, gone, no more. There’s just Tony, and it’s not until Steve reaches up to slide his hand through Tony’s hair and knocks against the metal of the Iron Man suit that he remembers where he is and what they’re doing and that the mission is not yet officially over and that this behavior is exceedingly unprofessional.
He draws away, and everything rushes back in, the smoke stinging his eyes, the thwack-thwack-thwack of helicopters overhead, the shouts of his comrades in the distance. His heart’s pounding hard and he’s breathing fast, and he hasn’t been out of breath like this since before, back when he used to get asthma attacks. It’s just as scary and out of control, only it’s a kind of scary and out of control that he likes. He wants to keep right on feeling scared and out of control like this.
“Well.” Tony blinks at him, then stops as if he can’t think what else to say. Tony Stark, at a loss for words, Steve thinks. It’s a gosh darned miracle.
“That was unexpected,” Tony says after a minute.
“Was it? Really?” Surely Tony had thought about it too. Steve is hit by the sudden doubt that maybe he’d somehow imagined it all, the tension between them and the looks that lasted just a second too long and the little touches that weren’t strictly necessary.
“I just never expected you to… You just don’t seem the type, Steve, that’s all.”
“The type?” Steve scowls. God knows he’d been called fairy and pansy and nancy boy enough in his life, he isn’t going to stand there and let Tony call him those things too.
“Yeah, you know. The type to make the first move.” Tony glances at Steve’s face and grimaces. “Or to kiss a man. Like me. To kiss a man like me, oh God, let’s just – can we just forget I said anything?” Steve is interested to note that Tony’s face is approaching the color of red on his Iron Man suit. He’s never seen Tony blush before. In fact, he would have suspected that it might not even be possible. “I liked it, okay? And I’d like it to happen again, anytime you want, like how about right now, it could happen again right now, that would be fine.”
It is tempting, the way Tony’s looking at him, pink-cheeked and hopeful and still kind of laughing at himself, so Steve kisses him again, a soft press of lips that’s far too brief, yet is somehow still enough to make Steve shiver.
“Victory is ours!” Thor’s shout reaches them a second before he strides into view, hair streaming behind him, face aglow with the thrill of battle. “The enemy is vanquished! We have driven them from their lairs to be –” He pulls up short, looking back and forth between them. Tony’s face is studiously blank, but his skin is flushed and his lips are plumped from kissing and even though you can’t see the rest of him, encased as he is in the armor, it is painfully obvious that the innocent act is just that. Steve can only assume that he is even more transparent, despite strategically positioning his shield in front of him, and apparently he is correct because Thor is beaming at them as if they’ve just done something to make him terribly proud.
“At last! My friends, it gladdens my heart to see you two... together.” He holds his hands out wordlessly, then clasps them tightly, waggling his eyebrows suggestively. Steve feels his face become even hotter. “I will disturb you no more, for you must be greatly in need of privacy after denying your true feelings for so long. I must inform the rest of the Avengers immediately! They will be so relieved!” And he’s gone before Steve can stop him.
“Oh, God,” he groans.
"That dude is way more perceptive than he looks," Tony says.
Steve covers his burning face with his hands, shaking his head.
“If you were hoping to keep this under wraps, I hate to inform you that it looks like it’s not going to happen.” Tony’s looking at him with an odd expression and his voice holds an edge of defensiveness.
“No, it’s just… I was hoping for a little time to get used to the idea before – before anyone found out about it.” Steve struggles to find the words, because Tony has taken a couple of steps back and the odd look on his face has solidified into a frown. Steve can practically feel Tony shutting down, pushing him away. “It’s not you, Tony, it’s me. I’m not used to people thinking of me that way. Shoot, I’m not even used to thinking of myself that way.” He reaches out and grabs Tony’s wrist, cursing the suit again when his hand closes around metal. He tugs anyway and Tony comes. “I can get used to it though,” Steve assures him. “I will, I promise.”
Tony is still watching him warily, like he’s not sure he believes him, and Steve realizes that words are only going to get in the way at this point, so he steps up to Tony and pushes his mouth against Tony’s again. It's unplanned and awkward and a little desperate. Their noses bump, Steve's teeth catch on Tony’s lip, and he's generally about as inexpert kisser as he could possibly be. He feels Tony smile against his mouth though, so he guesses he’s forgiven. And then he feels a big, metal hand at the back of his head, tilting him to a different angle, and Tony slants his mouth over Steve’s so they fit just perfectly and that changes everything.
The kiss is slow and deep and Steve is caught between feeling like he must be in a dream and feeling more awake than he’s ever been in his life. The tip of Tony’s tongue flicks his bottom lip, wet and soft and Steve moans a little, and then a little more when he feels it slide in alongside his. Steve’s holding on for dear life, letting Tony plunder his mouth, letting him do anything he wants to, because this - this – is what he’s wanted, what he’s needed for so long and he had no idea, but apparently Tony had known and Steve’s not sure if that should worry him but right now he really doesn’t care, he just wants more of this, more of Tony; he wants him out of the Iron Man suit, he wants skin on skin, Tony’s hands on him, he wants to put his mouth on Tony, kiss him everywhere, make him feel good, drive him out of his mind even if he's not sure how, but he wants to learn and, God, he knows Tony can teach him, Tony will know exactly what to do.
“Let’s get out of here,” Steve says, when he can find his voice. They’re barely an inch apart and he can feel Tony’s breath against his face.
“I thought we had to stay and clean up.” Tony’s voice is hoarse and the sound of it sends a jolt to Steve’s groin.
“Tony” Steve says, mustering his courage. He can feel his face flame hot, sweat trickling down his sides, can’t quite look Tony in the eye as he speaks. “I want – I want to be alone with you. Now.”
There is a moment of complete silence. Steve makes himself raise his eyes to meet Tony’s. The instant they connect he feels heat bloom at every nerve ending in his body. Tony is watching him with all of his not inconsiderable focus. Steve smiles and Tony’s lip twitches sideways in a rakish half-grin.
“Right,” Tony says. “We’re outta here.”
Steve is unprepared for Iron Man’s arm coming around him, pulling him unceremoniously in against the suit and holding him there with implacable strength as they shoot into the air. It takes him a moment to get situated, wrapping his arms around Iron Man and tucking his face down out of the wind. It isn’t comfortable, but he can bear it for the time it’ll take to get back to the mansion.
And then… what next? He doesn’t really know. He just knows that he wants, quite desperately, to find out.