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How We Love (A Collection of Drabbles)

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It isn’t a secret that Tony is not very experienced when it comes to dating.

Well… it isn’t a secret to his friends, so in reality, it’s actually a huge secret.

It isn’t something that Tony is proud, nor ashamed, of.   It was merely a fact: just a statement of truth.  

In the twenty-eight plus years that Tony has been living on Earth, he had had one serious relationship with a business associate shortly after taking over Stark Industries, but that had crashed and burned within six months.

Literally.

The woman had gotten so upset with Tony’s inability to spare time for her that she had stolen his car and crashed it into a tree.

Since then, he’s been on dates… Okay, a lot of dates (thanks to Rhodey and Pepper) but none of them are very successful.

They usually consist of dinner or a movie, and end with the girl (or guy) asking to go back to Tony’s place.

And Tony never really knows what to do after that.

No, he isn’t a virgin by any means, but he does like to take things slow.  The others call him ‘old fashioned,’ but the thing is, he’s just never been comfortable having sex with someone he barely knows.

So out of the dozens and dozens of first dates, there are maybe a handful of second and third dates, and of course, the paparazzi know exactly when Tony is out and about, so in the past few years, he garners this reputation as a playboy of all things.

He actually finds it pretty hilarious, except on nights like tonight where he finds himself being kissed by yet another young model or singer or rising businessman. 

This guy smells like expensive cigars and cologne, and the coffee they’ve been drinking hasn’t done much to mask the taste of alcohol on his tongue.  

Tony pulls away and puts some distance between them.

“What’s wrong?”

“I… I’m sorry, Ty.”  He really is, because Ty is charming and very handsome, and Tony is very much attracted to him, but: “I just… I don’t think I’m up for anything more tonight.”

Ty looks at him incredulously. “Really?  Tony Stark isn’t up for a little romp in the sack?”

The way he says Tony’s name makes Tony’s stomach churn.

“I’m having a good time just talking like this,” Tony says, “I don’t see why we have to—”

“I bought you flowers, took you to dinner, took you dancing,” Ty snarls, “and this is the thanks I get?”

“I didn’t ask you to do any of those things,” Tony shoots back.

“Then shouldn’t you be thanking me for being such a thoughtful and considerate date?” Ty backs him up against the kitchen counter and places his hands on Tony’s hips. “C’mon, baby.  It’ll be fun. I’ll show you a great time—”

No, Ty—”

“I promise it’ll be worth it,” Ty says before leaning in for a kiss.  

Tony moves his head to avoid it, but Ty just brushes his lips against Tony’s neck instead.  “Ty, please, I really don’t want to—”

“C’mon, Tony.  You’ll have a—”

“I believe the man said ‘no.’”

Both of them look up and see a very tense Steve standing at the other side of the kitchen.  Ty immediately backs off, but his hands don’t leave Tony’s body.

“It isn’t very polite to interrupt other people’s dates,” Ty snaps.

“It isn’t very polite to force others into do something they don’t want to,” Steve retorts, and his ensuing glare is enough to make Ty release his grip on Tony’s hips.

Ty turns back to look at Tony. “Well?  Are you gonna tell your friend to leave us alone?”

Tony swallows. “I… I think you should go, Ty.”

It’s not the response Ty was expecting, if the scandalized look on his face is anything to go by.

“If I walk out that door, Tony, I’m not coming back.”

Tony looks the man in the eye. “Just go, Ty.”

Ty grits his teeth, grabs his jacket and storms towards the waiting elevator.

“Are you okay?” Steve asks, his voice much softer than before.  He moves towards Tony, but stops a few feet away.

Tony nods. “Thank you.”

“Thank JARVIS.” Steve rests his hip against the counter.  “He’s the one who alerted me.  I just did what any decent person would do.”

Well, that explained the elevator, then.

“Do you want some coffee?” Tony offers lamely. “I mean, if you aren’t busy or…”

“Sure.”  Steve smiles at him, and Tony gets that familiar fluttery feeling in his chest again.

He ducks his head and moves toward the cupboard to grab a mug, but Steve stops him.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got it,” Steve says. “Why don’t you sit down?  I’ll fix you up a new cup, too.”

“Um… thanks.  Milk and—”

“Two sugars, right?” Steve finishes for him, and Tony can only nod as he seats himself at the table.

They don’t say anything as Steve fixes their coffee—the only sound in the room being the occasional clink of the spoon against the mug as Steve stirs in the milk and sugar.  It probably should’ve been awkward, but Tony’s glad to find that it isn’t in the slightest.

Tony graciously accepts the mug that Steve offers to him.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“No, I mean, for… what you did earlier,” Tony clarifies. “I know you think it’s nothing, but I really do appreciate it.”

“You know you can always come to me if you need anything, Tony,” Steve responds, his voice uncharacteristically shaky.

Tony looks over and sees that Steve’s entire body is practically vibrating with tension. “Are you all right, Steve?”

“No, I’m not.  Not at all.” Steve whips around in his chair so quickly he almost knocks his mug off the counter. “No one should ever treat you like that, Tony.”

Tony has absolutely no idea what he’s supposed to say to that.

“I know that you and I approach dating… differently,” Steve continues, “but if you ever tell me ‘no’—if anyone ever tells me ‘no’—I would stop.  No one should have to put up with that.  You don’t deserve that.”

“What do you think I deserve, then?” Tony inquires.  He isn’t sure where he gets this sudden bout of confidence, but his date’s gone to hell, so he figures he doesn’t have anything to lose.

“More than whatever that jackass was willing to give you,” Steve mutters under his breath, which Tony finds absolutely endearing.

Then again, Steve’s could probably make something like stealing candy from babies look adorable.  

Tony’s so head over heels for the man, it’s pathetic.

“You’ll find someone,” Steve says with a sad smile, “Someone who’ll give you everything you want and treat you the way you should be treated.  Someone—”

“Like you?”

And just like that, he’s done it.  He’s been told it would feel like having a huge weight lifted off his shoulders, but he just feels like he’s going to go into cardiac arrest at any moment.  

“Tony, I’m not…” Steve gets up from his seat. “I can’t.  I’m sorry.”

“What do you mean you ‘can’t’?” Tony asks.

“God knows I want to give you what you want, Tony, but you should be with someone who actually deserves you—”

Tony sputters. “You don’t deserve me?  Steve, you’re Captain America.  You are literally the embodiment of everything good, and you don’t think you deserve me?”

“Look,” Steve starts, “Up until a few months ago, I didn’t think I’d ever fall in lo—feel this way,” he corrects himself, but it’s too late, because Tony’s already heard it.  “I was… content with my relationships, because they helped fill the void—if only temporarily.  But you, you have these… ideals, and you want stability, and you shouldn’t have to deal with my past.”

“You love me,” Tony says.

“That… that’s not the point—”  

Once again, Tony isn’t sure what it is that comes over him, but he pulls Steve down by the collar of his shirt and kisses him.  

“You told me you love me,” Tony says when they pull apart a moment later. “You can’t expect me to not have a reaction.”

Steve takes both of Tony’s hands in his own. “To be fair, I wasn’t planning on telling you.”  

“I love you, too, by the way.”

“I figured as much,” Steve says, leaning forward and pressing their foreheads together. “I’m not good at this.”

“I’m not asking for forever,” Tony says. “Just promise me you’ll try.”

“I can do that,” he replies, before capturing Tony’s lips in a kiss.