It was another Tuesday night that found a young Tony Stark scribbling new and improved designs for his latest project on his tablet. Honestly, these ideas just came to him sometimes, with an intensity that would surprise anyone (but never really surprised him). His music was, as always, thumping in the background. Something angsty with lots of bass, so loud and teenager-esque that it constantly makes his parents shudder.
Lounging comfortably on his bed, back sprawled against a mound of pillows, Tony’s frowning, scrapping and redrawing a resistor with a 6.7% better power influx, when he hears Steve Rogers' raised voice.
That’s impressive. Sure, the window’s open, as a warm front had made the night the perfect temperature to ensure the young genius’ room wasn't too hot or too cool, but it also means that Steve is really raising his voice.
But, since he can hear, it’s not like Tony is exactly eavesdropping. Steve is talking loudly enough to be heard through his open window, over his music. Without thinking about it, Tony waves his hand vaguely at the radio in a downward motion and the volume cuts to mute.
"Sharon, it was a joke," Tony can hear Steve not-quite-shouting at his girlfriend - Head Cheerleader, Class President, absolute bitch Sharon Carter. (Okay, so Tony had added in that last bit based on personal experience. It’s not his fault he and Sharon share a Chemistry class (and coincidentally a lab table), due to the horrendousness of evil teachers.)
The girl just... bugged him. Sharon preferred to spend the hour gossiping with friends instead of doing any actual work, and not-so-subtly mocking Tony's genius. She would sit and talk about clothes, make-up, and most often, Steve.
Tony’s undeniably sick of Sharon spending the hour shit-talking her boyfriend. Especially since Tony knows that Steve would never do half the things Sharon bitches about, and Sharon’s just fishing for sympathetic "oh, Sharon, how horrible!"'s and "Let me buy you a coffee to make you feel better!"'s.
Lost in thought, Tony realizes he hasn’t been paying enough attention for the past two minutes when he heard Steve’s exclamations of "I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I won't do it again, Sharon, I promise. I'm truly sorry."
Tony sighs, wondering when Steve will ever learn to stand up for himself. He doesn’t know what they’d been fighting about, sure, but he could guess it was nothing that warranted that deep remorse in Steve's voice. The sooner Steve came to terms with the idea that he deserved someone infinite amounts better than Sharon Carter, the better.
After a minute or two, when Tony can no longer hear Steve speaking but instead the familiar notes of classical music, Tony sits up in his bed, looking across from his window to Steve's. Steve’s sitting at the edge of his bed with his shoulders slumped, posture absolutely fucking screaming 'defeated'. Tony's heart aches. Just a little.
Without another thought Tony reaches across his bed to the floor where he keeps the sketch-pad Steve had given him almost a year ago. It’s not his preferred means of communicating, since he’d much rather send Steve a text, but it’ll make Steve smile and that’s what matters.
("It'll be good for you to draw your ideas on paper sometime, Tony!" Steve had told him when he handed him the silly thing. Tony had stared at it for a minute.
"Steve, you're cute. Really. But come on."
Steve had blushed.)
Grabbing the thick black marker Tony habitually keeps by the sketch-pad, Tony writes 'you okay?' on it before knocking on the glass of his window to get Steve's attention.
Steve's head perks up and he looks over. A reluctant smile spreads across his lips when he sees Tony's note. He holds up his pointer finger in a 'one second' sign before grabbing his exact copy sketch-pad and marker.
'Sick of drama.' Steve writes back.
Tony frowns across the way to him. Steve shrugs, and then yawns, before giving Tony another winning smile. Tony watches with his frown still firmly in place as Steve gets up and gives a short wave as he’s turning off his light and closing his curtains.
Tony sighs down at his sketch-pad, flipping balefully to the last page. The simple 'I love you' glares back at him. Big, black, and bold. Easy to rip out and crumble at a moment's notice, or easy to flip to and flash across that distance in a heartbeat, so that Steve would finally know how he felt.
It won't explain Tony's feelings, though, not really. There’s so much more Tony wants to say to the Captain of the football team. I love you, I want you forever, she's bringing you down, you belong with me. But it would be a start: if Tony wasn't so scared Steve wouldn't feel the same way back.
Later that night, Tony’s padding around his room, flicking holograms from his tablet up in the air surrounding him and messing with the different specs. The designs glimmer blue in the dark of his room, casting him into light or shadow depending on where he stands. He has his music going again, but softly, so as not to disturb his mother. The beats had him tapping his foot irregularly, and flipping in time through designs with no particular ideas in mind.
Unbeknownst to Tony, Steve has peeled back his curtain far enough that he can peek around at the younger boy. Curiosity had won after a thirty-minute war with himself to see if Tony’s still awake, though Steve figures he is: it’s only half past midnight.
Steve can't sleep. His fight with Sharon left him with traitorous thoughts, and his mind is racing with ways to channel the negative energy into his next practice. He thinks about asking Tony to meet him in the juncture between their houses, but Tony looks busy and Steve doesn't want to disturb him.
It’s always fascinating to watch Tony work, after all. The way his hands moved fluidly from one project to the next, never fully stopping to just look and see... It’s disarming to know that one day Tony will market those clever designs and become someone important. He often jokes about it, but Steve always knew that Tony would end up Going Places. Had known from when they'd first met and Tony had moved in next door at the age of eight.
Tony had been Steve's very first and true friend. In third grade, Steve had been wildly unpopular. Skinny, sickly, asthmatic, and into drawing weren't the sorts of things that made kids want to be your friend at that age. Sure, he’d made a couple friends through the years, but until he really grew into himself just before 8th grade (and before Sharon Carter came to Shield High), they were minimal.
When Tony had moved to town at age eight and proceeded to show Steve how to execute a perfect jump off of a swing using words like trajectories and friction and force (that Steve could accomplish even with his horrible asthma), it had been one of the best days of Steve's life.
Tony had hooked onto Steve, burrowed himself deep and refused to let go from the moment Steve hugged him tight in thanks. When Steve had curiously asked him why he didn’t hug back, Tony had revealed he never got many hugs in his life. Steve vowed from that moment that he would make sure Tony Stark always knew how much he mattered.
Glancing to his pad, Steve's fingers twitch in anticipation of sketching the beautiful sight before his eyes. Tony in his element, caught up in work, with hair that has obviously been raked through with fingers several times during the past couple of hours. There isn’t enough time in the world for someone like Tony Stark, so sleep matters very little to him.
So of course when Steve grabs the sketch-pad, the folded up paper torn hastily from it a couple of months ago flies out from between the pages he'd tucked it into. Of course that would happen.
Barely giving himself a moment to think it through, Steve unfolds the paper and smoothes it out with gentle hands, the three words judging him silently in the dimly lit room.
He’s doing a really shitty job making Tony feel loved, isn't he?
It's like this. Steve knows he's bisexual, has known for half his life. And he knows Tony knows, and he knows Tony is, too, from that time with that party and that guy. So it's not that Steve is scared to tell him how he feels, he's just scared that Tony won't feel the same way. Steve loves Tony, but he also likes him.
He likes him so much that sometimes, when he can't stand it and barely retrains himself from unfolding that paper and flashing it across to the dark-haired boy, it's the only thing that pulls him back. Tony doesn't need his only true friend suddenly expressing feelings for him and making their friendship awkward. Tony has enough on his plate, with his alcoholic father and the being constantly picked on for being three leagues ahead of everyone else and, oh yeah, the having very little friends’ part.
So, Steve tucks the note back between the pages, grabs one of his pencils, and sets down to sketch, his view of Tony through the barely-cracked curtain never enough.
The next day, Steve has to publicly apologize to Sharon three times in front of varying crowds of her friends before she finally relents and gives him a quick peck on the cheek. Tony still isn't sure what they fought about, but he manages to watch this display twice without inventing something very painful to rip Sharon Carter limb from limb. The third time he’s made himself scarce by getting caught up in the Chem lab after school.
When Tony leaves for his locker and sees Steve down the hall, Steve is all hopeful smiles and big blue eyes, and Tony sort of just wants to grab him, let Steve let Tony throw him against a locker and kiss him silly in front of half of the Senior class. Tony wants to show him what someone who actually cares about him should act like. To show him that he can love him ten, twenty, a hundred times better than Sharon fucking Carter does.
Steve walks to the locker room entrances hand-in-hand with Sharon and gives her a smile before he retreats into the men’s room to get his gear on for practice. After he's gone, Tony watches as Sharon smiles somewhat victoriously and prances into the woman's side.
Tony wants to scratch her eyeballs out and then rip the pretty hairs from her head, one by one.
It's the big Homecoming game on Friday, and Tony knows he has to be there. He doesn't want to go, of course, but Steve's playing and so he needs to. Plus, he at least has people to go with this year. Loki may be an obnoxious brat, but when Thor had begged him to go and watch "he and his partners in sport" win, Loki had invited himself along with Tony the moment they'd discussed their obligations in English.
Bruce, a sort-of friend of Tony's from Biology in ninth grade, had then perked up and said he'd been looking for people to go with, too. His boyfriend Clint plays wide receiver, the butt of many jokes from Tony and frankly eerie Looks from Bruce.
This is how Tony finds himself, Friday night, at the football field an hour early with a car full of people. Thor and Clint were to arrive at that time to warm up and be prepped for the game. Loki insisted that if they had to go, they should at least get good seats. Bruce insisted on walking Clint to the locker room and giving him a kiss for good luck.
It was good luck, or maybe fate, that Tony saw Steve just inside the locker room door and shot him thumbs up. Steve's wide smile before the door shut made it almost worth it to sit for the next few hours on the hard bleachers with Coke cans and candy wrappers all around. He tries unsuccessfully not to glare at Sharon the whole time. She spends the entire game when she isn't cheering flirting with whatever player is nearest to her on the sidelines.
The Shield's win, of course. With Steve as their Captain, how could they not? Tony grudgingly claps along with the other three-quarters of the students, parents, and faculty who'd come. Steve catches Tony's eye across the crowd and pumps his fist in the air, and Tony, then less grudgingly, smiles back at him. That stupid grin and fist-pump got Tony every time, honestly.
This is when Loki chooses to elbow him in the ribs with a single eyebrow raised, and Tony turns to glare.
When Tony finishes glaring, it’s his turn to smugly smile at Loki when Thor runs up to him bellowing about victory and pride and praise the Allfather and god knows what else. Loki looks back at Tony disdainfully, and then he nods his head in the direction of the field. Tony turns to look at whatever Loki is nodding towards, and immediately catches a flash of bright blonde that is Sharon in a heated discussion with Steve.
Tony watches with brows furrowed as Sharon screams shrilly at him for whatever reason. It always goes the same way, and Tony waits for Steve to do his usual relent and grovel routine that he’s seen one hundred and four too many times.
What surprises him, and quite a few others, is when Steve doesn’t.
"No, Sharon. I saw you! You were about to stick your tongue down his throat! I can't do this anymore!" Steve shouts, and Sharon wibbles innocently back and tries to turn it around. She always does that. Yet another reason that Tony wants to stuff his heart with shrapnel every time she starts something with Steve.
"Steve, he assaulted me! And if you don't believe me that says something awful about you! H-How can you not trust me?! We've been dating for six months!" Sharon says, loudly enough that Tony can clearly hear her from the twenty feet away. She's also expecting Steve to relent, say sorry, tell her he’ll make it up to her.
Tony wants to vomit on her special “homecoming game” ponytail.
At that, Steve smiles wryly, and squares his shoulders. Tony isn’t exactly sure what he’s about to do, but he can tell he’s going to approve. "Seven, Sharon,” Steve says, “Seven months. But I think that about answers any lingering doubts. Just in case I'm being in anyway unclear, I am breaking up with you."
Sharon really has to be a great actress to seem so shocked, Tony thinks. That or she’s so used to Steve giving into her every wish that she is genuinely shocked that he’s said these words. Mere seconds later, her eyes harden, and she starts shouting about “you can't mean that, Steve!” and “I meant to say seven, Jesus christ!” but Steve is busy pushing past her to get to the locker room.
Tony really doesn't like the kicked puppy look that takes over his face the second he manages to get by her.
‘Well, fuck it,’ Tony thinks. Before Steve can get away completely, Tony’s running across the bleachers, down the ramp and in Steve's path, all the while pulling out a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket.
Breathing a little quickly, more from nerves than actual exertion, Tony shoves the paper into Steve's hands. Steve stares at him, puzzled, before he looks down and reads the words. The words Tony has been dying to tell him for months.
And then Steve looks up at Tony, shocked, for a few moments. Quite possibly the longest moments of Tony's entire life, holy fuck. He just stares at him, mouth slightly agape, eyes impossibly wide, before dropping his helmet and reaching down into his knee-high sock.
When Steve hands him his paper, Tony doesn't want to believe it, even as he unfolds it and the words basically slap him in the goddamn face. When he looks back up, Steve is all determined eyes and stern lips before he reaches out the two-foot distance between them, hauls Tony close, and kisses him hard on the mouth.
Tony's brain is quite possibly broken now, even as his body betrays him with a desperate noise before he grabs Steve's arms just beneath the line of his shoulder pads and kisses him back fiercely. He's trying to figure out how this is possible, even as Steve is proving that it is. Tony may let out a relieved sigh when he comes to the conclusion that he's not, in fact, drunk, high, or dreaming.
Steve takes the sigh as an indication to stick his tongue in his fucking mouth, jesus, and Tony vaguely wonders how he’s so good at kissing. A little jealously, actually. Surely he hadn’t learned that from Sharon since Tony’s never once seen Steve do anything more than a quick peck against her lips.
Why is he even still thinking? Banishing away all thoughts of Sharon fucking Carter, as he’s come to call her, Tony just melts against him, bodies pressed tight as one hand tangles in Steve's sweaty hair and the other wraps around his back. Steve's tongue languidly playing with his might be the most absolutely wonderful thing Tony has ever felt.
Steve pulls back, dodging Tony's attempt to follow his mouth, and he lets out a deep breath. His eyes are bright, mouth slightly swollen, and Tony stares at him for a second, cataloguing, before Steve chuckles.
That unnerves Tony a little bit. Is his kissing that bad? Is Steve going to write this off as a one-time thing brought on by adreneline? He’s certain his emotions are showing on his face when Steve brings a hand up to his cheek and holds it there. Steve leans forward again, a quick peck, then two, before pulling back once more.
“Um,” Tony says articulately, and Steve smiles and rewards him with another kiss, then another, and okay, Steve clearly isn’t play a joke or on some post-breakup high and using Tony as a rebound.
“When did you write this?” Steve asks, vaguely waving the paper that started this whole thing under Tony’s nose.
“June 15th,” Tony replies without thinking, and then wants to punch himself for being that loser who remembers the exact day of something so cheesy. Jesus, he really can’t be anymore pathetic, can he?
“Really?” Steve says, “because I wrote this on the 13th. The night we used those old swings in your backyard to sit and talk until 3 AM the first night of Summer.”
Tony frowns. “I meant I wrote that on the 12th. Totally that day. I win. Because I wrote mine first and you hadn’t even considered it until the next day so now I-“
Steve wisely claps a hand over Tony’s mouth even as he rolls his eyes. “It isn’t a competition, Tony, gosh. I never imagined you’d ever feel the same way. I didn’t want to ruin our friendship.”
Tony frowns some more. Jesus fuck is he an idiot. This entire time Tony has been watching Steve struggle in a meaningless relationship when Steve has secretly always been his.
It isn’t even fair that they’ve wasted all this time already.
So Tony says as much. “That’s not fair, we could’ve had all fucking summer! Fuck! I mean I was going to, you know, do the whole thing and show you the paper through our windows and then there would be some dramatic music and rushing outside to embrace and all that but I was too chicken-shit. Jesus fuck what is fucking wrong with me oh my god-“
“-And this whole fucking time, shit, I could just shove bamboo splints under my nails right now-“
“And maybe even swallow burning hot embers until- Huh?”
“You swear too much. Also, I think half of the school is listening in on this. Plus I’m still in this sweaty uniform and I’d kind of like to get out of it, take you to my bedroom and spend all night making out with you. If you want,” Steve adds quickly, like that hadn’t just taken a direct path from Tony’s ears to pool directly in his groin.
So even as Steve is dragging Tony into the locker room behind him, Tony’s groaning and rambling. “Jesus fucking christ, you are kidding right, oh my god is that even a real question? Fuck, way to make the simplest thing sound so incredibly dirty and so incredibly good, holy fuck. Are you sure you just want to make-out because I kind of always wanted to try this thing where-,“ and he keeps talking and talking until he drives them both to their street and lets Steve lead him up into his bedroom, where he finally shuts him up.
At least with coherent sentences.