“You want me to what?” Tony stares, baffled for a moment before remembering, hey, I should probably turn that blowtorch off. Though a fiery inferno would be an acceptable excuse to not talk about feelings.
“Should I check you for concussion? Honestly, I didn’t think Thor hit you that hard but— ”
“For God’s sake Steve, I’m not concussed I just want you to repeat yourself.” Steve quirks an eyebrow and takes a breath before replying.
“’Would you marry me?’” Tony drops the, now off, blowtorch and whips off his goggles.
“Oh Jesus, that is what you said.” Steve crosses his arms and looks at him in a way that makes him feel like he’s overreacting even though he knows he isn’t, like Steve had asked him where he wanted to go for dinner, not whether Tony wanted to spend the rest of his life with him.
“You’re not taking this well, are you?” And for all Tony is confused by what he does feel and what he thinks Steve thinks he should feel, Steve seems to have planned for this eventuality and is surveying the scene with the same sort of calm he does on mission, still perched on his stool like some kind of sexy gargoyle.
“’Not taking this well’ is one way of putting it. I mean, really, Steve, have you thought about this? You don’t even like me! Not that I blame you…” At that Steve finally reacts to the situation, and thank God, because Tony might have started throwing things just to get some sanity back into the room. He’s frowning now… and up off the stool and moving towards Tony. Maybe he shouldn’t have said all that out loud.
“What on Earth makes you think that?”
“Well,” Tony flounders for a handhold on the work table behind him for a moment, wincing as he realizes that while Steve’s been advancing he's been retreating, not unlike a tiny frightened animal. For the way Steve’s looking at him, he might as well be, “I mean, not many people like me. Sure people fawn over me, but once they get to know me I’m not very likeable. Like Pepper, Pepper only likes me some of the time, 'cause I buy her gifts and things, but then I never remember what she likes, and then this one time I bought her strawberries, which she is apparently allergic to—anyway, I maintain that the only reason she likes me when she does like me is some sort of faulty wiring, like whatever makes her freakishly efficient and how she gets her hair to stay like that all day long. And then Rhodey, well never mind Rhodey, he actually doesn’t like me, so that proves my point really, that my best friend doesn’t like me, because, you know, I drink too much, I smoke, I am generally an all around womanizer—And would you stop looking at me like that?” Tony finishes, breath unusually heavy for all that he rants on a regular basis.
“No. Tony, you think I would have been spending all this time with you if I didn’t like you?” So now Steve’s concerned, an awful pained look is spreading over his face at an alarming rate, which shows no sign of slowing at all, and he really needs to stop that because Tony’s starting to feel bad about it, along with everything else.
“I thought you were biding your time ‘til Little Miss Apple Pie came along, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I am all up for a little biding as long as there’s more of what we’ve been doing in there. But I didn’t, in my wildest—okay well maybe not my wildest—but in my somewhat wild dreams think that Captain fucking America was actually planning on marrying the world’s worst bet.”
“You need to stop with the self-deprecating stuff Tony, I’m starting to think you actually believe it.” Now, Steve just looks sad, and, oh God, Tony made him sad, but the only way to fix it is to take back what he’s already said, which he will not do because really everyone should know you do not marry Tony Stark. Everyone except maybe high school dropout gold diggers.
“But it’s true. My liver has, what? Maybe five more years, tops. No one should have to sit through a liver transplant, they’re long and disgusting. Second, despite what Pepper may say about my abilities as CEO, I actually am married to my work—and okay wrong phrasing, but you know what I mean, because look, you’re here proposing to me in my workshop, and I didn’t even hear the first part of it because I was too busy welding to care that you were talking. What’s that say about our relationship, let alone my ability to listen? Thirdly, and I will deny this to the day I die if you ever bring it up again, but I might have some severe emotional issues that would require extensive therapy, should I ever decide to fix them, which I really don’t have the time or the attention span for, so it doesn’t seem likely I ever will. So me? Not your best option for Happily Ever After.”
“Why are you fighting this so hard?” Steve asks quietly, and Tony can’t meet his eyes, because Project Rebirth made that man into some sort of hulking, intuitive lie detector.
“I did just explain this to you.”
“I don’t understand why you’re fighting so hard for it.” So naturally, Steve hugs him then. An all encompassing bear hug the cheating bastard knows Tony loves so much, and damn it all if that doesn’t cut right to the heart of him.
“Because I love you. Genuinely. You can ask me again tomorrow, or the next day, but the answer will be the same, no matter how many liver transplants or therapy sessions you may or may not have. The emotional problems are your business, but if you’d like to talk to me I’d like to listen. I don’t mind it when you drink, because more often than not you end up in my lap and you let me take your glass away if I think you’ve had enough. As for your work, I find it fascinating, partly because you love it so much, and partly because you let me watch you while you do it, even if I don’t understand it. I asked you to marry me here because this is where I sit and think about you, how wonderful you are, and how happy you make me.” Steve says softly, pressing his cheek against Tony's temple.
Tony sobs, a wretched little noise that may as well have been verbal confirmation that Steve should continue to coddle him like a traumatized kitten, but he can feel Steve smile against the top of his head, so maybe it isn’t all that bad, “Marry me? Please?” Tony nods against his chest, pitiful really, that he can’t open his mouth for fear of more whimpering.
But they’re alone in the workshop, so he’ll take the moment, and delete the security footage later.
Or maybe save it to an external hard drive. For… posterity.