Tony knew that Steve was puttering away in one of his workshops around the mansion because, well, JARVIS knew. More basically: Steve was in Tony's mansion – there wasn't much that happened within the dense mass of varying sensors that Tony had covering the mansion that he didn't know about. So when it occurred to Tony to see what Steve was up to, it was just a matter of asking JARVIS, or poking at a random panel located in any of his walls. Simple as that.
Steve was... Tony tapped his fingers against the arc reactor in his chest, pondering how he might describe the kid he helped find in the ice. Steve was... well, hot. That much was easy. He also had a stick jammed up his ass – or maybe needed one jammed up there. Tony grinned. Point being, he was tightly-wound. Then again, Tony figured Steve was a bit of a good-old-boy type: war hero, serving his country, yadda yadda. And when that country – World War Two America – was now this country – twenty-first century globalized international America INC – it was no wonder Steve ended up coming off a bit uptight. Uptight was probably the only thing he had left to hang onto.
Plus: hot. Did Tony mention that already? Really, fucking gorgeous. Fucking Ken doll, was what Steve was.
The doors to Tony's second workshop swished open as he strode up to them. He grinned. Never knew why he hadn't installed those earlier. Now he just had to convince JARVIS to address him by “Captain” or “Commander” and his list of childhood dreams would be pretty much rounded out. Well, except for the last item: fuck Captain America (full disclosure: the list had read “Meet Captain America” when he was younger, and then “Kiss Captain America” as he grew. But Tony was a big boy now, and was decidedly interested in seeing just how big of a boy Cap was in comparison).
Sitting at one of his many workbenches was the Captain himself, bulky frame hunched over a laptop keyboard. Tony watched for a moment as Steve's fingers slowly pressed at the keys, his face growing more and more irritated – and determined – with every mistake.
“Help you with something?" Tony asked by way of introduction.
On his stool Steve jumped, then spun around, practically knocking the laptop off the table. “Oh, hey. Ironman.”
Tony raised an eyebrow as he slid next to Steve, leaning against the counter. “Not in the suit, which, as you pointed out, is the only way I'm in this little club in the first place. Dr. Stark is fine.”
Steve's eyes widened at the prefix, then narrowed. “This is a joke, isn't it?”
Turning his attention to the laptop screen, Tony shrugged one shoulder. “Well, I do have a PhD, yeah. Couple of them. And if you start counting all those honorary ones universities keep mailing me... but, yeah. Joke. Just Tony's fine. Whatch'ya got, here?”
Google was pulled up on the laptop – and holy hell, Tony should not feel like offering Steve a congratulatory blowjob for managing that much – and the beginnings of a search were in the bar. “Dodg-” Tony read. “Having a little trouble with the keys?”
Steve grinned self-deprecatingly, then held up his hands and waggled his fingers. “The keys go down too easily! If I blow on them they depress.” Tony snorted as Steve continued, running a hand through his hair in a show of frustration. “You know I've had to learn to type three times now? Once when I was a kid on an old Remington. Then when I got, er... big.” Steve glanced down at himself. Tony showed the most restrained of self-restraint in saying nothing. “I had to learn again. My fingers were all different sizes, and I pressed down too hard and kept jamming up the keys. Now...” Steve sighed as he stared down at the keyboard. Big guy looked like a kicked puppy.
“Hey.” Tony nudged his shoulder into Steve. “That's why you come to me for these things. Apple might have their cutesy-named SIRI, but I've got a JARVIS. JARVIS!”
Steve watched Tony expectantly. He had seen Tony use JARVIS before – the first night he had come to stay at the mansion, Steve had jumped two feet in the air and was ready to throw his shield when he heard the disembodied voice. Since then he had calmed down considerably, but made no effort to initiate contact with the house AI. Tony thought maybe Steve didn't know he could use it, if he wanted to.
“Steve here wants to run a search. Go through Wikipedia, alright?” No need to overload Steve with options all at once. He turned to Steve, who was watching Tony with interest. “Okay. Go ahead. Just ask JARVIS whatever you need and he'll find it. Oh, wait, JARVIS.”
Winking at Steve, Tony ordered: “Pull up a few screens around here for Steve.” Several holograms flickered to life around the men as Steve watched, eyes cautious but curious. He had seen this before, too. But now Tony was determined that the paradoxically old and young man was going to learn to use the tech. At least superficially. “Yeah, there you go. Okay, Steve. Go ahead.”
Clearing his throat, Steve glanced upwards, as if expecting to see JARVIS peering down at him from the ceiling. “Uh...” he cleared his throat again, glancing over. Tony spread one hand expansively, the other tucked into his chest. “Uh, right. Um, Brooklyn Dodgers? I wanted to-”
The screens surrounding them lit up with a sea of information, new tidbits and facts floating by almost like ripples in an ocean. Steve was entranced by it, face lit by both the blue-green glow of the holograms and discovery of all the knowledge available just through asking for it. Tony might have been a little entranced himself, though not by the screens. And wow, Tony was really glad telepathy wasn't mixed into that super-soldier serum.
“The Brooklyn Dodgers.” JARVIS' clear voice sounded through the room. “Established 1883, winning pennants in 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953. Major League team attributed with breaking the 'color barrier' in 1947 with the introduction of Jackie Robinson on the team. Known for their rivalry with fellow New York team the Yankees. Moved to LA in 1957.”
“Wait, hold it there just one minute.” Steve poked his finger at a screen, then pulled it back when the screen reacted by switching over to whatever link he poked. Bafflement overcame anger for a second as he stared at the new information, but then he was spinning around again, looking up at the ceiling. Tony would really have to break him of that habit. “Did you say 'moved to LA'? As in Los Angeles?”
“That is correct, Captain,” JARVIS replied.
Steve backed up a step, glancing around. For some reason the kicked-puppy look to Steve's face and demeanor made Tony's instincts want him to take a step forward, to comfort Steve... or something like that. He firmly ignored them, tucking his hands into his chest and watching as Steve looked lost. Tony himself wouldn't appreciate if someone kept butting in to try and help him – he couldn't imagine Steve would appreciate the sympathy, either.
“Oh.” Steve's eyes landed on one of the screens in front of him. “Who's there, now? Are the Yankees still there?”
“Yes, Captain. New York Yankees are an American league team housed at the New Yankees Stadium – built 2008 and used for the first time in the 2009 season. The New York Mets are the current National League team in New York, established in 1962. As of 2009, they are now housed in Citi Field in New York.”
Steve waved his hand, gesturing at a screen that still held information on the Dodgers. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up: where're the Dodgers at now?”
“Still in Los Angeles, Captain.”
Tony frowned. “Wait, I thought that was the Angels,” he cut in.
“Indeed, sir.” It must be his imagination that made JARVIS sound respectful to Steve and condescending to himself. Tony made a note to check it out. “Anaheim, California.”
Tony bit his lip as he uncrossed his arms, only to reach up to his chest and tap his arc reactor. Anaheim Angels. Yeah, maybe that sounded right. Wasn't like he watched much baseball as it was. “Wait, then who's in Oakland?”
“That would be the Athletics, sir.”
Steve cut in, looking more than a little annoyed. “Ironman? Please?”
“Right, right!” Tony held a hand up and stepped away. Shit. Just when he was trying to do something nice for Steve he went and fucked it up by turning it into his own research project. Being a narcissistic asshole might have gotten him his PhDs, company, wealth, and super-suit, but... Tony frowned and wondered where he was going with this. Right. Steve. He was trying to be nice to Steve, for once. And surprisingly, not just to get into his pants and find out if everything was super-sized (though, oh yeah. He was practically salivating at the thought) – Steve just looked so damn lost and lonely all the time, like a big yellow lab without a master. It was the least he could do to help him do some baseball research without fucking it up.
Steve was switching his gaze between two different screens – Tony could see one had “New York Mets” at the top in big print, the other “Los Angeles Dodgers”. “So the Mets are the New York team to root for now, huh?” Steve wondered. “'re they any good?”
“Winners of two World Series titles in 1969 and 1986,” JARVIS rattled off.
Steve grinned a little crooked. “Well, not like I rooted for the Dodgers because they were the best. Can I...” he stared at the screens, a thought seeming to glimmer in his eye. “Can I see a game? Can you do that, now? I bet you can.”
“Certainly. Most recent Mets game at Citi Stadium, two days ago.”
One of the holograms surrounding the two men filled with the sights and sounds of a baseball game. Steve stood, lips parted as he drank in the sight, eyes flickering from one player to another. Tony glanced at the screen for a second, then got bored and switched to looking at Steve some more. After all: looking was safe. Looking wouldn't get Fury breathing down his neck or Pepper sending him warning glares. Well... actually both would probably do those things, just for looking. But at least he could plead innocence.
After a few minutes of watching the game, Steve glanced up again – his shorthand for looking for JARVIS, Tony was realizing. “Hey, JARVIS?”
“Can I see a Dodgers game? Er... the Los Angeles one?”
A moment later the screen changed. Tony checked it out. Slightly different stadium, different colored uniforms. Day game, instead of night. Other than that, it looked pretty much the same to him.
Apparently Steve felt the same way, because only a couple of minutes into the game he was sighing and turning away. “Thanks, JARVIS. That's enough for now.”
Tony thought maybe offering up a piece of information now might go over okay, instead of alienating Steve. “You know I've got every sports channel imaginable, here. Just turn on a TV-” Tony paused, cocking his head. “Ask someone to turn on a TV – or JARVIS, he can do it for you – and you can watch any team you want.”
Steve shrugged one shoulder, offering Tony a grateful – but strained, definitely strained – smile. “Thanks, Ir- Tony.” Yeah, that shouldn't have made Tony's stomach do a flip. Ridiculous, how sweet and puppyish Steve could look when he peered up at Tony with his blonde hair flopping in his eyes. “I'll make sure to catch a game one day. But-” he cut himself off, turning away a little before looking back at Tony and smiling that not-quite-happy smile. “It's fine. Thank you, for helping out.”
“Whoa whoa whoa.” Edging into Steve's personal space, Tony crossed his hands over his chest. He nudged Steve with his shoulder in what he hoped was a “comradely” sort of way. He still hadn't managed to get a read on Steve's sexuality – he had a “dame” during the war, apparently, but didn't everybody, back then? – so he didn't want to scare him off just yet. “What's up?”
For just a second – not long, maybe even a nanosecond, but definitely long enough for Tony to notice – Steve glanced toward the ceiling. Then he seemed to remember the saying was just a colloquialism for “how are you? What's wrong?” and blushed hard as he kept his eyes carefully level with Tony. “Nothing. Just...” he sighed, puff of air causing his blonde locks to flop attractively on his forehead. “Just not the same. You know?” Then he seemed to remember himself – and who he was talking to – and straightened up, fake Captain America smile plastered on his face again. Tony hated that smile. “But thanks a lot. I'll be sure to ask JARVIS,” again, eyes toward the ceiling. Tony wanted to hit him (or kiss him, either way) every time he did that, “whenever I want to watch a game. Thanks.”
And with that, Steve was fumbling his laptop closed and hurrying out of the workstation, casting nervous glances over his shoulder as he did. In a fit of ire Tony threw a wrench at the far wall as he watched Steve disappear up the stairs. A small robotic squeal got his attention. Shit. He managed to peg one of his helper bots right in its mechanical fingers. Tony rushed over to fix it, pushing thoughts of Steve and baseball to the back of his mind for now.
Steve and baseball weren't really a big concern of Tony's for the next week. First there was that weird thing with the X-Men asking for their help dealing with Magneto. Hairy guy with the knife-hands – Wolfman or something stupid like that – had gotten on Tony's nerves. Where the fuck did he get off scratching the armor? "Adamantium". Yeah, yeah. Real fancy metal. Not like that wolfguy made it himself. Tony invented a new element to shove in his own chest in order to stay alive. In a matter of days. By building a particle accelerator in his house. Did anyone remember that? No.
(Except the Noble prize committee. But they didn't count. Hell, they'd give those away to anyone nowadays.)
And then when Steve had the foresight to ask why the hell they were helping out the X-Men deal with their super villains when the Avengers had plenty waiting in the wings, that Cyclops guy – Tony was pretty sure that's what he was actually called, too – had mumbled something about Xavier and Magneto and their inability to either kiss and make-up or finish things once and for all. Steve hadn't got it until Tony spelled it out for him mid-battle. Poor Steve had stumbled in shock so badly that his damn shield practically took off his head on its return flight. He recovered his focus just in time.
After that, Tony decided to give Steve a wide berth. Two guys was probably shocking to him, after all, but it might not be inconceivable. Perhaps given a little bit of time to think about it without Tony flirting outrageously with him, Steve might see the appeal. Tony could only wait and hope.
In the meantime, Tony barricaded himself in his workshop: first fixing his robots, then designing armor that would withstand adamantium, then realizing that was stupid unless he wanted the damn armor made out of it, and then the whole thing would be way too heavy to fly (unless he felt like strapping a fucking satellite to himself, and come on. That was just silly). Then he moved on to designing a jet for the Avengers that would out-cool the X-Men's jet. It was only once he was finished with that little project that Tony turned his attention back to Steve. And when he did, he found himself reminded about Steve's little problem with baseball.
Tony actually hadn't been looking for Steve. Well... he went to the fridge to get a beer. Perfectly innocent, if Tony didn't go out of his way to use the main fridge instead of the ones he had in all his workshops and bedrooms. Still: his house, he could get a beer in the most public kitchen of the building if he wanted to. And if that kitchen just so happened to be next to his living room with the largest TV, well, hey. His house.
Sure enough, Steve was sitting on the couch, his own bottle of beer condensing quietly on a coaster. Tony smiled at the sight of the coaster, sneaking up behind Steve as he took a swig from his bottle. He wanted to blow Steve, for being so needlessly polite. But not yet.
“Hey.” Tony leaned over the back of the couch, a few inches to the right of Steve instead of directly behind him. “Anything good on?” Tony asked the question before he even glanced at the TV. When he did, his mouth quirked a little at what he saw.
“It's a Dodgers game. JARVIS helped me,” Steve supplied.
“Who's winning?” Tony asked the question even though he could clearly read the score on the screen. Remember: gigantic. Flat-screen might as well be the wall itself. It was nearly big enough.
“Dodgers,” Steve replied. He leaned forward and took a sip from his beer. Tony glanced down the back of the couch as Steve leaned. Oh yeah. Now Tony just had to take this nice and easy – couldn't scare Steve off.
“What do you think?” Tony asked, slowly moving around the couch to join Steve. He automatically moved over, giving Tony more space even though there was plenty. Tony decided to count this as 1940s propriety rather than any lack of interest or – worse – homophobia. “Of modern baseball, I mean. Too big, too loud, too-steroid enhanced?”
Steve frowned at the last one, turning to look at Tony. “Steroid-enhanced?”
Tony shrugged. “Yeah. Big controversy. 'Performance enhancers'. Not unlike your super-serum, though definitely not as...” Don't drool, Tony, you perv. Don't lick your lips. Calm, cool, don't fucking scare him off, “effective.”
Steve blushed and rubbed the back of his head. “Oh, yeah. I guess they do all look like they've been taking something, huh? A lot bigger than back in the day.”
“More home runs,” Tony explained. 'Bigger the bat, bigger homers, more money into the club, happy owners and players all around.”
For a moment Steve nodded, like all this was old information. Then he gasped, looking back over at Tony in shock. Tony waited like he was hunting a scared deer. “Have they broken Babe's record? Or Teddy's?”
Tony hesitated. “Babe's, yeah. One of them. Or a couple. Hang on: this is why we have computers. JARVIS?”
Definitely needed to check out that condescension programming. His AI should not sound so displeased to serve him. “Babe Ruth: he got any records left? And who beat the home run record? Maguire, but someone before that... black guy, maybe?”
“Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds have both surpassed Babe Ruth in career home runs,” JARVIS rattled off, “at 755 and 762 respectively, beating Ruth's 714.”
Tony leaned into Steve. “Bonds doesn't count,” he advised. “Way too juiced up.”
Steve nodded and seemed like he might understand that. Then again, if anyone understood the benefits of juicing, it'd be Steve. “For single season, Roger Maris, Sammy Sosa, Mark Maguire, and Barry Bonds have all beaten Ruth's 60 single-season home runs with 61, 66, 70, and 73 home runs respectively.”
Tony shook his head. "Maris is the only one that counts. The rest were jacked up."
Again, Steve nodded. Tony grinned at him. He could get used to someone who stared with wide-eyed attention to everything he said.
“Babe Ruth still holds the MLB slugging percentage record, at .690.”
Steve's eyes lit up. “Wow,” he breathed. “After all these years...”
“And Theodore Williams still holds the batting average record, at .406 at the end of the 1941 season.”
Steve grinned. “Him, too? Wow. That's... wow.”
As he watched Steve ask JARVIS for more and more statistics that held up from his day, an idea started to coalesce in Tony's mind. Steve liked seeing all these old records still holding up – he liked to see that something hadn't changed. Money could buy even more of that stagnancy for Steve, Tony was sure. Not that he'd ever use money like that for himself – he was more the stumble-over-your-own-feet, fly-head-first-into-the-future type of guy, but he could adjust. Memorabilia was always an easy buy, and not even that expensive for the most part. An original Babe Ruth autographed homer ball, sure, that'd cost him, but for the most part it wasn't too bad. And certainly nothing was out of his price range.
Of course, just buying Steve a roomful of old baseball stuff wouldn't be enough. Tony could buy Steve every ounce of Brooklyn Dodgers memorabilia he could find, but when Steve turned on the TV to watch them, he'd still see the field nestled within the backdrop of sunny (smoggy) LA, rather than in the heart of New York. And Tony might be the last person to be mistaken for nostalgic, but he got the appeal. Especially to Steve, who was thrown so out of his time.
The idea that was niggling at Tony was slowly turning into a plan. Now he just needed to figure out who to throw money at to make it happen.
Okay, this kid was really starting to get on Tony's nerves. “What do you mean 'impossible'?”
Clearly displayed on Tony's monitor, said annoying kid was shrugging helplessly, and looking not just a little annoyed with Tony in return. “You can't just buy a baseball team and then move it to another city. Especially New York. What, are you going to have three teams in the city, just because of some whim?”
Tony held up one hand directly in front of his webcam and started ticking off points. “I have the money, I bought the team. Done.” One finger folded down. “Since I own the team, I should be able to move them wherever I want. It's not like baseball is so fucking rigid. When was the last team that switched cities?”
Immediately the kid replied: “The Nationals were established in 2005, Texas Rangers moved from Washington to Dallas in 1972.” The kid snapped his mouth shut, as if suddenly realizing he had been duped. He frowned, angry. “But that was forty years ago! You can't just switch the Dodgers back to Brooklyn! What about the Mets? Are you really going to have three baseball teams in twenty square miles?”
Tony shrugged. “What, just move the Mets to LA, I don't care.”
On the screen Poindexter twitched, rubbing his fingers together as some sort of nervous tick. “You can't... it's... it's the Mets! You can't just move two institutions like these! It's impossible.”
Casually Tony examined his fingernails. “Love that word choice: impossible. You know what's supposedly impossible? Miniaturizing arc reactor technology. But you know what? I did it. With a box of scraps in a cave in Afghanistan while carrying a car battery around that was plugged into my chest.” Tony's voice slowly raised as he spoke, until he was snarling the last words: “Don't tell me what's impossible. Just get it done. That's what I'm paying you for.” With that, Tony cut the connection on one horrified little baseball nerd.
Great. Tony leaned back in his office chair, thinking. Then he stood up and started pacing, because he never got any good thinking done immobile. Now that he had the idea of moving the Dodgers back to Brooklyn, it was going to happen. Even if he had to buy both teams and just order them to change their names. Huh. Now there was a thought.
Of course, Tony realized maybe this was a little bit extreme. Snatching up a watch from his desk, Tony glanced at it. Seven. Amazingly enough, Tony actually was aware there was a game on right now. He hurried out of his office and started for Steve, where he knew the big guy would be parked on the couch, trying to catch up on seventy years of baseball.
Maybe there was something easier Tony could do. Like buy Steve season tickets to the LA Dodgers and loan him his private helicopter so he could go see every game. There were pretty close to LA – it shouldn't be an impossible feat. Then again, Tony didn't consider moving just two crummy baseball teams between cities would be an impossible task, but according to Poindexter it was. He gritted his teeth. He had never been told anything was impossible that he didn't later manage to do.
Then again, it would be a lot easier if Steve could just like the LA Dodgers. Or the Mets.
Steve was digging his hand into a bowl of popcorn balanced in Tony's lap a week later by the time Tony finally decided to ask him. “You could just root for the Mets, you know. Or the Dodgers. Or both. It shouldn't have to be the Brooklyn-Dodgers.”
Steve smiled sadly as he brought his fistful of popcorn up to his mouth and chewed. Tony waited, doing his best to send mental signals of stay away to everyone else in the house. He didn't need some asshole like Clint coming in here and pointing out to Steve that in the twenty-first century, and the latter half of the twentieth, when a guy stuck a bowl of popcorn in his lap and made you reach into it, it generally wasn't popcorn your hand closed around.
Not that Tony had done such a thing. But he was enjoying having a thin glass bowl and salty, greasy popped kernels being the only things between his crotch and Steve's hand. So he was getting a little enjoyment of their fast-becoming-ritual evening ballgames. Tony thought he deserved that. Especially with the three additional poindexters he had to put on payroll to convince original poindexter that yes, you could move a baseball club in this day and age if you wanted to badly enough.
By the time Steve swallowed – oh, yeah, there was an image... – and spoke, Tony had practically forgotten he even asked a question. “-both in the NL,” he was saying. “What would I do when they play each other?”
There was a light-hearted smile on Steve's face as he spoke, but it didn't reach his eyes, Not really. Briefly Tony entertained an incredibly saccharine fantasy about kissing the sadness wrinkles from the corners of Steve's eyes, before he brought his mind to bear to the conversation at hand. “Yeah, that's a tough one,” Tony finally came up with. Smooth.
But Steve seemed more willing to open up without any intelligent encouragement on Tony's end. He turned into Tony, their knees brushing on the edge of the couch. Tony definitely didn't glance down at the point of contact. “It's just... you know. One more thing.” Again that smile, but this time it was definitely, purposefully sad. “That's different. That's changed. You'd think, oh, baseball, that's going to stay the same. Even if you can fit the whole world's information into your hand and man's walking on the moon, baseball's going to stay the same. But.”
“It didn't,” Tony finished for him. He nodded, then patted Steve's leg.
“Plus the Mets are Queens,” Steve said with a grin.
Tony shrugged. “Close enough.”
Steve shook his head like Tony had said something incredibly naïve, and Tony grinned. That was the Steve he liked to see come out: the teasing, down-to-earth Steve. It was when this Steve came out that Tony could see the “kid from Brooklyn” in him. Tony liked it.
Steve turned his attention back to the game, but all Tony's attention was on Steve. Yeah, this wasn't going to do. Steve was getting his damn Brooklyn Dodgers back, even if Tony had to airlift Dodger stadium to Brooklyn to do it.
“What do you mean, 'PR campaign'?”
Tony rubbed at his temples. Holy hell. He had negotiated multi-billion dollar business mergers that were easier than moving some stupid baseball franchise from one city to another. He was just swapping names, really! But then he talked with one of the managers, who told him under no uncertain terms that if the Mets left, so would he. And so would a big chunk of the players and other managers. And the citizens of both cities would do their best to succeed where dozens of super villains had failed in killing Tony Stark.
The man he was talking to – Tony had hired so many consultants for this deal, he couldn't keep their names straight even if he wanted to (for whatever reason) – sighed heavily into the phone. “You need to convince the fans that they want to move the franchises.”
Tony threw a dart at the board in his office, sparring a moment to be disappointed with his shot. Huh. “Listen.” He turned his attention back to the phone call. “Market nostalgia at them. Return to the good old days of baseball. Pre-steroids scandals, pure and wonderful, yadda yadda. Got that?”
Tony didn't even wait for the guy on the other end of the line to answer before he hung up and tossed his phone down on his desk. He threw another dart at the board. Better. Now he just had to wait for that “PR campaign” to get off the ground, and-
Through his office doors walked Steve, smiling broadly and clutching something in one hand. Quickly Tony closed the windows he had open on his office monitor. Not that Steve would ever think to look down at the screen to see what Tony was working on, but it didn't hurt to be overly cautious in this case. Tony didn't want to get Steve's hopes up, after all. He seemed like the type that would get his hopes up, too. And look all the more hangdog and lonely than before if the plan fell through.
“Hey, Cap.” As he got closer, Tony realized Steve was holding what looked like tickets.
“Look what Pepper got me! Baseball tickets! I know you can buy them online, but I wasn't sure how. I was going to ask you, but then I thought maybe I could make it a surprise.”
Tony blinked down at the tickets being shoved into his hand. Dodger's stadium, tomorrow. Tony wanted to kick himself. Of course he should have taken Steve to see a baseball game long before this. He had just... been preoccupied. With the whole “buying-two-baseball-clubs” thing (and yeah, it was now two clubs now. Because apparently the Mets were just not going to leave, even if it meant they played their games on top of each other. So now Tony owned two baseball clubs).
Steve's face fell, as he seemed to take Tony's silence as disinterest. “Oh, but... I mean, you're busy. It's okay. I can go ask uh, Clint. Or someone. Bruce doesn't like crowds, and I'm not sure Thor would manage to stay in his seat rather than joining in the game, but... no, I mean. It's fine. I'll find-”
“No! No! Fuck, no, stop, no.” Grabbing Steve's arm, Tony hastened to make his agreeableness known. Fuck. No, of course he wanted to go see a game with Steve. He was trying to do this nice thing for Steve, to try and... fuck, woo him or some bullshit... and all he was doing was spending less time with Steve and making him think he didn't care. Great. Nice move, Tony. Real smooth flirting techniques.
Taking a breath, Tony smiled at Steve. “Of course I'll go. Tomorrow afternoon?”
Steve took the tickets back, face beaming like he had just won the lottery. “Yeah,” he breathed. Then a moment later he blinked, shook his head. “I mean, no. Um, night game. Tomorrow night. I figured a night game would be best, with your work schedule.”
“That's-” Tony smiled, feeling warm. “Thanks. But, you know: I own the company. I can take off time whenever I want.”
“Right.” A blush painted Steve's fair cheeks. Tony suppressed images of sucking bruises lower on that light skin, of trying hard to leave a mark that would stick, for a little while. He had to treat Steve with care, like something delicate. Not that he thought Steve was delicate or anything, but his sensibilities were. Tony was pretty sure no matter what Steve's inclinations, he'd probably blush a lot harder than he was now if he could read all the dirty scenarios buzzing through Tony's mind. He had to take it slow – ease Steve into the idea.
“Hey.” Tony glanced at his computer, where his calender was open on his desktop. “Yeah, hey, I'm done for now. Wanna grab a bite?” Tony was grabbing his cellphone and and sunglasses off the desk even as he asked the question, then started out of the office before Steve had a chance to reply.
Steve grinned as he fell into line with Tony. The lights shut off behind them as they walked out. “Yeah, sure. Sounds great.”
Tony winked at Steve as he pulled the door shut behind them. “I'm buying.”
Steve had brought a baseball glove. Steve had brought a baseball glove to a major league baseball game, like some kind of seven-year-old hoping to catch a pop fly at his first game with his dad. Not dad, Tony quickly readjusted his internal monologue. Ew, no, not going there. Some people might be into that, but yeah, definitely not his thing. But back to the baseball glove: Tony just didn't know how to handle that. Steve had shown up in the garage at the time they agreed on, glove clutched tightly in one hand, and Tony had just stared. Stared and smiled, like some sort of idiot. Steve and a baseball glove. It did bizarre things to Tony's chest that he didn't want to analyze too closely, like the arc reactor was malfunctioning (which of course it wasn't). So Tony had just told Steve to hop in the audi, and they had sped over Californian highways, listening to music and talking about nothing the whole way to the game.
“Hey,” Tony turned to Steve. “Going to the bathroom. You want anything? Beer, hotdog?”
Steve's response was immediate. “Cracker jacks!” Then his face fell. “Oh, wait, do they still make those?”
Tony grinned, glad for once to be able to give Steve something familiar. “Yeah, they do. Box of cracker jacks, coming up.” Tony clasped Steve on the shoulder as he started the awkward process of climb past everyone to get to the stairs.
The seats weren't bad, Tony had to give Pepper credit for that. Three rows back from the Dodger's dugout, halfway between home and first. Pepper had probably paid a decent price to get them off someone at such short notice. Then again, Tony knew Stark Industries bought out a slew of good seats at the start of every major sports season, for wooing clients and employee perks and things like that. These may have come from that supply.
At the concession stand, Tony decided to buy two beers and two of those foot-long, too-big-for-the-bun hotdogs in addition to the cracker jacks. The purchase had surprisingly little to do with Tony's desire to see Steve eat a foot-long tube of meat, and more to do with the increasingly more common impulse Tony had to just buy Steve stuff. Baseball clubs and food and drink and maybe even his very own classic car, as soon as Tony narrowed down exactly what model he wanted. It was an heretofore unknown impulse, in Tony's experience. At least he could afford to indulge it.
With just a bit more difficulty getting back to his seat – what with his arms full of concessions – Tony finally made it, passing off half the stuff into Steve's outstretched hands. “Tony, I said-”
“Yeah, yeah.” Tony waved his protest away whilst taking a huge bite of his own hotdog. He barely swallowed the lump of food – and oh, damn, stadium food really was just as good as people said it was – when he started speaking again. “Just wanted you to get the full baseball experience, you know? Beer, franks, the works.”
Steve was beaming at Tony, box of cracker jacks clutched to his chest and hot dog in his lap. “Thanks, Tony.” His eyes almost seemed wet, and damn, that shouldn't make Tony want to kiss it better. Didn't this start out as wanting to fuck Captain America? Now... Tony shrugged his discomfort aside aside. Now it was something else. Big deal. He was working with the guy, after all. It'd probably be a good thing if he didn't just tolerate him for his dick.
Steve set forth opening his cracker jacks with childlike glee, immediately pouring out half the box into his hand as he searched for the toy. “Oh,” Tony nodded around a sip of beer. Okay, that was pretty shitty quality. Then again, it kind of hit the spot on an unseasonably warm night like it was. “The toy quality-”
“What's this?” Steve was turning a scrap of paper over in his hand. Tony sighed as Steve read allowed “'Who was the 16th President? Fold along the dotted lines to find out!'” Diligently Steve poured the cracker jacks in his palm into his hotdog container and set the cracker jack box on top. He then set about folding the tiny piece of paper with his big hands with the same intense focus Tony had seen him direct to microwaves and typing on his laptop.
Steve blinked at the folded back paper. “It's Abraham Lincoln.” He turned to Tony, dumbfounded. “I knew that.”
Tony winced, reaching for the paper. “Yeah, like I said: quality's gone downhill. There were still toys in them when I was a kid. I think.”
Before Tony's fingers could close around the “prize” and toss it away, Steve yanked his hand back, clutching it to his chest. “No! Tony...” he flushed, a faint dusting of red beneath the stadium lights. “I'd like to keep it.” He smiled weakly. “Souvenir. First ball game since... you know.”
Tony was really going to have to run some diagnostics on his arc reactor. His heart shouldn't be flipping and stopping and doing all the roller coaster acrobatics it had been every time Steve said something like that.
As they left the stadium late that night – the Dodgers lost, 5-2 – Tony dragged Steve over to one of the gift shops and pointed. “Pick something.”
Steve's hand was in his pocket, moving slightly as he stared at the displays. Tony knew he was rubbing the cracker jack “prize” between his fingers – he had been doing it all night. Tony wasn't examining what that knowledge did to him. “I couldn't-”
“Come on.” Glancing around quickly, Tony grabbed a standard-issue Dodgers hat. “Here.” He yanked it down onto Steve's head, the big guy blinking confusedly for a few seconds before reaching up and pushing it back, out of his eyes. He blinked again, then smiled sheepishly down at Tony.
Tony grinned. Steve looked so damn American, standing there with his baseball hat on and radiating pure patriotism. It wouldn't be shocking if women started handing Steve their babies to kiss on their way to the car.
Tony winked. “Suits you. Leave it on. Hang on, lemme just...” he flashed his credit card at the cashier, gesturing at the hat perched proudly on Steve's head. Big guy was busy tugging at the sticker on the underside. The cashier swiped his card and Tony waved off the receipt she offered him, and they were off. “Alright, come on.”
Steve was already breaking in his hat, bending and curling the brim, on the walk to the card. Tony watched him, bemused, as his face was alternately in light and shadow as they passed under street lights. He was surprising himself with how perfectly okay he was with having this... thing... for Steve. Then again, it wasn't that he was necessarily commitment-phobic: he just never wanted to be around most people for more than the time it took to have great sex. Pepper and Rhodey were obvious exceptions, and now apparently Steve had managed to earn that status, as well. Tony just wanted to fuck Steve a lot more than he did his other two oldest friends. And yeah, the whole “fucking Cap's brains out” matter was still something Tony was determined to get around to. But he knew he had to take it slow and steady with Steve. The Dodgers move should help, too.
“Hey,” Tony spoke as they got to his car, “You wanna go somewhere? Do something? Coffee shop, bar, diner, something?” He glanced at his watch, mind running through the possibilities on the drive home. “Everything's still open; it's not that late.”
As Steve slid into the passenger seat he looked contemplative. “Could-” he cut himself off almost as soon as he started, looking away. “Nevermind.”
“No!” Tony winced as he turned the ignition at how desperate he sounded. He just didn't want the night to end just yet. And it kind of seemed like maybe Steve didn't want it to, either. “No,” he said, calmer this time. “What do you want? Anything at all. This is your big night.”
Steve smiled hesitantly at Tony, almost self-deprecating. “Well, after...” he paused as Tony stated to pull out of the parking space. “It's dumb,” he warned.
“You're talking to the CEO of dumb ideas,” Tony reassured him. “Remember: I'm the guy without any sort of superpowers running around trying to fight gods and mutants.”
Steve's smile turned a little more admiring. Or at least, Tony pretended like it did. He couldn't exactly see too well in the dark night, broken only occasionally by streetlights. “You've got your inventions. That's worth more than superpowers. I wouldn't even be much without the shield your- er.”
Tony nodded stiffly, not wanting to ruin the mood. “Yeah, right. Lose your shield, and I'm sure you'll still manage to take down whatever bad guy you're up against.”
“Then I'd get you to make me a new one straight away,” Steve teased. Only, it wasn't really teasing. It was stated as a true fact. And Tony knew there was no reason for Steve to treat it as anything but: of course Tony would build him a new shield if his ever got lost. Hell, Tony'd build a hundred of them, and sink Stark Industries looking for or repairing the original. Of course, it still made warmth spread inside-out through Tony that Steve was as certain of Tony's friendship as Tony was.
“Come on,” Tony pressed. Taking a chance, he took one hand off the wheel and patted Steve's thigh. Not lingering, not sensual: just a few manly slaps. Still, Tony made happy note of the fact that Steve seemed totally at ease with Tony's hand on his thigh, not flinching or stiffening in the slightest. Where do you want to go?”
“Well...” Steve smiled softly and got a particular expression on his face. It was the one Tony had grown to associate with fond memories from back in the day, on Steve. “When we were kids, we'd climb the fence at Dodger stadium,” his smile was a little sadder as he jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “Not this one, of course. Back in Brooklyn. Anyway. We'd climb the fence and watch the games, or sit on a roof nearby with a little radio Bucky or someone rigged up. Then after we'd head down to Louie's – corner drugstore. He'd make us frosted milkshakes. That's the ones with a scoop of ice cream.”
Tony grinned. “We can do that. I'm sure there's a Sonic or Steak'n'Shake or something... JARVIS!”
“Nearest 24-hour place with milkshakes.”
Which was how Tony found himself actually sitting at an imitation fifties diner booth at midnight, sipping a milkshake and staring across the paint-flecked plastic table at Captain America. His life had somehow turned into a retro-future 1950s romance. And Tony couldn't find it in himself to care.
It was only a few days later when Tony got the package he had been waiting for. He opened it, checked it over, then shoved it right back in the box and hurried off to find Steve.
Of course Steve was sitting in the living room, watching the Dodgers game. That part wasn't surprising. What was surprising was Thor sitting next to him, holding Mjölner in his lap and on occasion using it to gesture at the TV as he asked questions. He was doing exactly that when Tony walked in and stopped to watch. “Then they strike the ball with the club?”
“It's a bat,” Steve corrected gently. “And yes.”
“And they run to the...”
“The base.” Steve supplied.
“And the other men are trying to stop the one man from achieving his goal of 'base'?”
“Yes. By stepping on the bag or tagging them out.”
Thor squinted at the TV, watching intensely as exactly that sequence of events occurred. Thor grunted in what sounded like indignation. “But if the other men are his enemy, why does the striking player toss down his club? I would carry it with me, to strike down whomsoever dares tag me with their puny mittens!”
Steve ducked as Thor swung Mjölner in a gesture that Tony supposed was meant to be an imitation of what he might do given free reign on a baseball field. Good thing there was little chance of that happening. Though, then again, Tony might let Thor go out to one of the fields he now owned one night and just go nuts on some balls. It'd make for a hell of a show, Tony was sure.
“It's against the rules,” Steve explained, still as patient as ever. Tony allowed himself just another moment's indulgence before finally making his presence known.
“Hey.” He stepped forward, holding the opened package in one hand. “Uh, got something. Steve.”
Head tilted back on the couch as he craned his head to look up at Tony, Steve frowned. “I didn't order anything.”
Tony waved the package around. “I got it. Come on. Open it.”
With just a quick glance at the TV Steve was up, still frowning as he looked down at the package in Tony's hands. “Tony, I can't...”
“It was cheap, I'm a billionaire, just open it.” Tony preempted all of Steve's protests.
After shooting Tony a little exasperated look, Steve took the package from Tony and pulled out the contents. “Vance? Dazzy Vance?”
The present was an old Dodgers' jersey, number fifteen for Dazzy Vance. It had taken a few weeks of careful questions on Tony's part to settle on an appropriate old jersey to buy for Steve. Judging by the way Steve's face lit up and eyes watered, it was the right choice. Tony mentally patted himself on the back.
“Tony,” Steve breathed, clutching the jersey to his chest. He was staring into Tony's eyes with such a fierce intensity, Tony thought that maybe, just maybe, this might be it. Maybe Steve would lean in and kiss him, right now. He certainly seemed emotional enough to do such a thing right now, with the way his eyes were glittering and his face screwed up in adoration.
“Tony, I, I can't-”
“Don't even,” Tony threatened. “Don't say it's too much, because it's not, it's just a stupid jersey, so just take it because I want you to have it and remember, billion, not like it even puts a dent-”
“Tony,” Steve breathed again, voice rough with emotion. “Thank you.” He started forward, and Tony thought this was really it. A kiss. Steve was definitely going to-
But then Steve stopped, hesitated, and backed up. He stuck an awkward hand out in front of him, expression still glowing with happiness and awe. “Thanks.”
Coming to what he felt was a safe decision, Tony clasped Steve's hand only to pull him into a tight hug. Amazingly, awesomely, Steve hugged right back, arms wrapped so tight around Tony he was pretty sure Steve might crack his ribs. But it was Steve, holding tight to him like his entire world at the moment was Tony and embracing him. Tony couldn't help but think about how it might be with less clothes. And more erections.
They separated reluctantly – well, it was reluctant for Tony, and he liked to imagine it was reluctant for Steve as well. Abruptly, Tony realized Thor was standing next to them, watching their interaction carefully.
Steve seemed to realize this right around the same time Tony did. He sniffed a little loudly before bringing the jersey up to show Thor. “See what Tony got me? It's a uniform from back in my day. For baseball, the sport we were watching.”
Thor barely spared a glance at the jersey, eyes instead focusing on Steve. “Are you going to thank Tony properly, now? Because I would be most happy to watch the display.”
“The-” Steve stopped, obviously confused. Tony had no such luxury, and started trying to usher Steve out of the range of Thor's voice before the dumb god could do any lasting damage to all Tony's carefully laid plans.
“Properly,” Thor reiterated, as if speaking to a small child. “In the flesh.”
For as naïve and sweet as Steve sometimes was, he wasn't stupid. He caught on to what Thor was saying and immediately turned beet-red, redder than Tony had ever seen him. The flush even extended down his throat and under his shirt, which didn't help Tony banish any of the thoughts Thor's words had conjured up. “I...” Steve croaked.
“Thor, god-buddy.” Tony clasped a companionable hand to Thor's meaty arm, trying to diffuse the situation and not scare Steve anymore. “Generally don't do those sorts of things here. Well, the horizontal mombo and everything, yeah. But Steve can just thank me by saying so. He doesn't have to fuck me.” Or me, him. Unfortunately. Tony's mind could be a real pain in the ass at times.
Thor shrugged, apparently already losing interest since voyeuristic sex was off the table. “I see. Then I will continue to watch the men wield their clubs inefficiently.”
“You okay?” Tony turned back to Steve.
“Yeah.” He was still bright red, but a shaky smiled had returned to his face, so Tony felt like maybe the damage hadn't been too bad. “Thank you, Tony. This means a lot.” Steve hesitated, glancing at Thor then back at Tony. “I'm just going to...” he tossed a thumb over his shoulder.
“Right.” Tony tampered down the impulse to tug Steve into another hug – or kiss – before he left. Plenty of time for that later. Slow and steady. “Enjoy,” Tony offered. Real smooth.
He stared for a long time at the space Steve had occupied, wondering what his next move might be. Then he remembered his NY PR guy had gone all drama queen on him last time they talked, shouting about how convincing an entire nation of Mets fans to switch back to the Dodgers just couldn't be done. So Tony pulled out his phone and rang him up, thinking all the while about how Steve might react to something a bit bigger than some old jersey.
A few weeks after the Thor-being-Thor incident, Steve came into Tony's workshop with another pair of tickets in his hand. Tony pulled off his welding goggles and turned down his music. It still amused him that Steve felt the need to purchase tickets ahead of time, and not even that, but that he purchased actual tickets, rather than the online print-outs Tony always saw. Tony wasn't even sure how Steve managed to get actual tickets ahead of time.
Tony tossed the welding torch on his workbench. Crossing his arms over his chest, he nodded at the tickets. “Hey. What you got there?”
Steve flushed, and yeah, that really wasn't getting any less adorable every time Steve did it. It had occurred to Tony that Steve was flushing more and more often around him, though Tony figured it best not to think to hard about that. It wouldn't do to get his hopes up when there was the very real possibility that Steve was just plain old straight.
“Um, tickets. Movie tickets.” Tony raised his eyebrows and waited for Steve to continue, who did after much smiling and blushing. “Right, well. It's, it's a baseball movie. I'm not sure... about the Braves? But I thought maybe you'd want... If you don't, that's fine. I can... Clint. Or.”
“Slow down, slow down.” Tony held a hand out and gestured for the tickets. “Come on, give them here. Lemme see.” When Steve passed over the tickets, Tony quickly read over them. Evening showing, Friday, new baseball movie. Okay. He handed them back to Steve and flashed him a smile. “Okay, Friday at eight. It's a date.”
Steve's hand was just curling around the tickets when Tony said that. He froze, hand wrapped around Tony's and the tickets, mouth hanging open as he stared at Tony. For a few long, interminable seconds Tony watched as Steve's mouth opened and closed, seeming on the verge of speech but no words actually managing to find their way out.
“It's an expression,” Tony explained. “Not a... it's just people say. Now. It means we have a plan.”
Tony tried not to feel too horribly at the relief that passed over Steve's face at that. It didn't work.
“Oh.” Steve tugged, and the tickets slipped free from Tony's grasp easily. “Right. It's...” Tucking the tickets into his pocket with one hand, Steve sheepishly rubbed the back of his head with his other. “It's... I guess it's okay, now. Right? I read about that. The new law in New York, and... there's been some programs on TV with... so. It's okay.”
Tony wined. Great. This wasn't how he wanted this conversation to come up. Honestly, he was kind of hoping his charm and sexual magnetism would just bypass the conversation altogether, and by the time Steve had his sexual freak-out Tony would have already shown him the ins and outs of a healthy gay sex life. “Yeah,” Tony finally settled with. “It's fine, now. Everyone's pretty much allowed to do whatever they want with whoever they want. There's still some assholes who... but yeah. It's fine.”
To Tony's surprise, Steve huffed a sigh and sat down on one of Tony's rolling stools. Confused by the change in events, Tony decided it'd be best to follow Steve's lead on this, and so pulled up another stool and sat across from Steve. The poor guy had that sad look on his face again. That “things are different” look. Seeing it just renewed Tony's determination to move the Dodgers back to Brooklyn for Steve. At least then Steve would have baseball: the one thing that hadn't changed.
“I knew some guys. You know.” He made some sort of helpless gesture with his hands that Tony supposed stood for taking it up the ass. “Dum Dum,” he paused, grinned at Tony's incredulous expression. “Dugan. Went by Dum Dum. It was a service thing.”
Tony nodded. Sure.
Steve continued, fingers fiddling with each other in his lap. “He was part of my team during the war. We all knew it, but didn't really... When we'd go into town and the other guys would go find some pretty french girls, Dum Dum... it was...” Steve's flush was in full force, now. “We never talked about it. He just did things his way, and we never really brought it up. Morita did. Sometimes. When he was drinking. But Dum Dum just laughed it off.” Steve grinned, eyes no longer on Tony. “Gave Morita a noogie.”
Tony listened, rapt, with his hands folded loosely between his legs as Steve talked about his time in the service. He never really did - not that Tony had ever heard. He heard Bucky mentioned once or twice, but Tony had to look up his death himself to find out why Steve got so quiet and soft whenever he mentioned Bucky's name. “So you know some guys...” Tony pressed.
“Yeah.” Steve shrugged. “Like I said, Dum Dum... we saw him, a few times. In the morning he'd come out of whatever inn-room he was staying in, kick some...” Steve flushed. “Some boy out. Looks pretty, uh, pleased. With himself. Like the other guys with their dames.”
Tony thought maybe he shouldn't press it, but hey, he wasn't known for his sound judgement. “What about you?”
“What?” Steve glanced around, almost panicked. Still, Tony nudged just a little more.
“You said the other guys would get girls, Dum Dum would get his boys... what about you?”
Steve's gaze stayed resolutely on his hands, now. “I didn't really... I had a dame. Sort of. Might of.” Steve frowned. “Peggy. Might have been my dame. We had a date. Planned. Never got to go on that.”
Tony winced. Some of the unfortunate side-effects of being frozen for seventy years. Then a thought occurred to Tony, and holy shit, that thought was really doing a number on his libido. “So... if you were never with anyone during the war because you were saving it for your... 'Peggy', and you never got to go on a date with her...”
Steve stood abruptly. “I. I've. I'm going. Clint. Wanted to practice.”
With that, Steve hurried out of the workshop as fast as he could (which was pretty damn fast). Still, Tony had just enough time to call out after him: “Friday at eight! It's a date!”
When the door swung shut behind Steve, Tony took a moment to spin himself around in his chair, grinning like an idiot. Okay. So Steve wasn't a stranger to alternative predilections – he'd even had a trusted friend who was gay. And – and this was the information that made Tony press the heel of his hand to his groin and think he probably needed to take a break before he continued with his welding – Steve was almost definitely a virgin. To men and women.
Tony groaned and rubbed his groin a little harder. Holy shit. The things he wanted to... He could introduce Steve to everything. And Steve loved to learn new things, Tony already knew. Would he be as earnest and eager to learn the art of wringing orgasms out of himself and Tony the same way he dove into pop culture and computers? More eager, even? Would his big, blue eyes gaze up at Tony in amazement, in adoration as Tony showed him just how could it could be?
Tony's erection throbbed in his jeans. Okay, yeah. With a hurried hand gesture Tony put his workshop to sleep and hurried off to his bedroom. He wanted to take some time to turn over in his mind the different possibilities Steve's revelation had awakened in him. Steve's face as he was opened up for the first time... Maybe Steve opening Tony up, with that serious, tight expression that always overcame him when he focused on learning something new.
Tony slammed the door to his bedroom shut and turned off the lights as one hand struggled to open his jeans and other fumbled for lube and a vibrator he kept stashed in his bedside table drawer. As his erection sprang free and his hand tightened around it, Tony groaned. Fuck. After this he was turning his full attention back to the Dodgers deal. He was getting that team back to Brooklyn.
And then he was going to fuck Steve right into the grass in center field.
Tony knew he shouldn't treat this movie night like a date, but he did. He wore one of his tighter band t-shirts and his better-fitting jeans (according Pepper, they made his ass look good, and Tony had to say that from what his mirror showed him, he'd have to agree). He had met Steve in the garage and let him pick out their car of choice for the evening – of course Steve had chosen one of the oldest models in his collection. Then Tony had insisted on buying the concessions, on account of Steve buying the tickets. And when Steve had moved to leave a seat between them in the theater, Tony had sat down right next to him, pointing around at everyone else in the theater and explaining that this was how they did it nowadays. Tony was going to have to be careful not to abuse his “how we do it now” power.
The movie was fine – pretty normal underdog sports story, but Steve seemed to enjoy it immensely, going so far as to cheer when the Braves finally won at the end. Tony didn't have the heart to tell him about the Braves' 90s dynasty. That knowledge seemed to spoil the whole fun of the movie.
Afterwards they headed to a diner for post-movie milkshakes. Tony had a feeling he would end up fat if he kept indulging Steve like this, but he couldn't find it within himself to care. Any time spent with Steve was worth it, extra calories notwithstanding. “You know,” Tony said when there was a lull in the conversation – mostly due to Steve taking a quick pause in his excited chatter to sip at his milkshake, “we could go to other movies, too. I mean, things other than baseball. It doesn't always have to be that. If you want to see something else, that is.” Honestly, Tony was willing to sit through The Core for Steve, and not make a single comment about the physics (okay, fine maybe one little snide comment. Melting the Golden Gate Bridge with a microwave beam from space?! Come on).
“Oh, well.” Steve smiled. He had some whip cream in the corner of his mouth. Tony adjusted himself under the table. Fuck. “I wasn't sure what else, you know. I want to do stuff you wanted to do. Whatever other stuff you liked.”
“There's plenty more things I like,” Tony practically purred the words. When Steve looked shocked, Tony hastily backtracked. Oops. Fuck him and his stupid, automatic flirtation instincts. “You could come down to the workshop, if you wanted. It's where I spend most my time anyway,” he offered up. He fiddled with his straw wrapper, doing his best not to look at the cream sitting in the corner of Steve's mouth. That was probably half the problem, right there.
Tony risked a glance, and saw Steve had wiped away the cream and was looking relieved. Tony wasn't sure if he was disappointed or grateful. “I could teach you something, if you wanted,” he continued. “Computers or cars or something.”
Steve hesitated. “Even back in the day I wasn't great with the mechanical stuff. Tended to leave it to guys like How-” Steve winced, but Tony just waved him on. They were friends, fine, whatever. Tony could deal with that. At least Dad hadn't one-upped Tony when it came to fucking Steve. Tony had at least that much to thank the old man for. “I just... never really understood it. And now it's so much more complex...”
Tony nodded his understanding, trying not to be too disappointed. So Steve was just in this friendship for the baseball. Fine. Tony could deal with that. He was still planning on moving the Dodgers back to Brooklyn for Steve – which was going better and better every day. “Right. No, that's fine. It's-”
“No!” Steve's hand shot out and closed over Tony's on the tabletop. Tony blinked, shocked as he stared into Steve's eyes. The other man was blushing, but his eyes were determined, resolute in his decision. Tony allowed hope to flicker in his stomach again. “No,” Steve said, calmer this time. “It's... I do. Just... maybe something not that.”
For a long moment Tony waited, lips parted as he watched Steve try to think of an activity the two of them could share. He decided not to remove his hand from under Steve's, or remind Steve of it, or breathe, really. Then Steve's face lit up, and his hand tightened around Tony's. “What about sparring?”
“Sparring?” Tony grinned, brow furrowed. “Uh, what. In the suit?”
Steve smiled across the table at him, eyes almost sly. The expression looked good on him. “Out of the suit. You need to be able to take care of yourself if the suit goes bad or you're caught without it.”
Risking a quick thumb-swipe over the back side of Steve's hand, Tony smiled. “Yeah, well: that's what I've got you for, right?”
Tony almost groaned at the expression that overtook Steve. It was one part protective instinct, one part adoration, and one part fear. In that moment Tony wanted more than ever to just press Steve to his mattress and show him how well Tony could take care of himself – how well he could take care of Steve, as well.
“I might not be there,” Steve finally managed. “And you need to stay safe.”
“Sparring it is, then.” Tony pushed aside the cold disappointment he felt when Steve released his hand and forced the smile to stay on his face. “How's tomorrow afternoon sound?”
“Great!” Steve then buried his face in his milkshake again, draining a good quarter of it in one long suck. Tony tried not to focus on the sorts of images that put in his head, and tried instead to focus on how exactly he'd manage to keep his libido in check while a sweaty, half-naked Steve was trying to wrestle him to the ground. Shit. What the hell had he just agreed to?
If someone had asked Tony if he enjoyed losing, Tony would have laughed in their face and then maybe Baker Acted them, because really: Tony plus losing equaled no. It just didn't happen, nor was he even interested in letting it happen. But the third time Steve threw Tony to the mat, Tony decided he might have to revise his opinion. It wasn't that he enjoyed losing, really: it was just that Steve was way too obliviously sexy for his own good every time his sweat-slicked form pinned Tony to the floor.
“Do you know what you did that time?” Steve held a hand down to help Tony up. He took it while brushing at his sweatpants to hide the half-chub he had going on in there. He had made the wise decision to get off minutes before he was scheduled to meet Steve (images of the imminent training session going in... alternative directions being the choice source for masturbation fodder in the moment), which had helped a lot. Still, his body was doing its best to respond to Steve's deliciously close bulk, despite Tony's best efforts to thwart it.
“You're still a super soldier and I'm not in my suit?” Tony ventured a guess.
Steve sighed, releasing Tony's hand. Tony decided not to take insult at that. “No, Tony. You shifted your weight before you moved. You might as well have told me that you were going to swing from the right. And you also always swing from the right.”
Tony rolled his aforementioned right shoulder and heard a pop. Oh yeah, that sounded good. “Yeah, well: I'm right handed. My right side is better than my left.”
Steve sighed. “But your enemies know that, too! Tony, you have to-”
“Yeah, yeah.” His shoulder popped again, and Tony winced. Fuck. He was on the wrong side of forty to be doing this kind of thing now. Why they hell had he decided to become a superhero when he was a decade older than everyone else, not to mention completely without actual powers? Steve might be right on this.
“Alright, one more.” Tony backed up, sliding back on the balls of his feet into position. Steve squared off against him, just out of arm's reach. Their fists went up, and Tony focused on Steve's body language, on his weight shifts. As much as he wanted to study Steve's body with a very different eye, he knew there might be some truth to what Steve said about him needing to learn more hand-to-hand combat skills. And at the very least this might come in handy even encased within the safety of his armor.
Steve moved before Tony even saw his weight shift, fist flying out before it was followed almost instantly with a leg sweep. Tony ducked, and moved to the right, but Steve's foot still caught him off balance just the slightest. As he stumbled Tony tried throwing his weight into Steve, hoping maybe to get just one good shot before he went down. All he ultimately succeeded in doing was falling into Steve, which didn't even bring him down. Instead he was left half-standing, clutching at Steve's chest. Tony peered up abashedly at him.
An indiscernible expression flickered over Steve's face, before Tony found himself crushed into Steve's chest, breath squeezed out of him. “You can't fight like this.” Steve's chest rumbled beneath Tony's ear. “You have to take this seriously, otherwise... one lucky shot...”
Shocked, Tony pulled back. “Hey, Steve. It's-”
“Sorry.” Steve scrubbed at his face. Tony wasn't sure if he should be pleased or worried. He ended up settling for shocked. “Sorry. I'm going to hit the showers.”
Tony nodded. “Yeah. Okay.” Before Steve headed out, though, Tony grabbed at his arm. “Hey. I've got the suit. I know how to take care of myself.”
For a moment, Steve looked down at Tony with such raw emotion, Tony thought this might be it. Steve might finally lean in for a kiss. And Steve did lean down. His hand reached up to grasp Tony's opposite arm, and for a long second they stood there, in a sort of stasis of mutually assured destruction. Then something happened: the expression in Steve's eyes was gone between one blink and the next, and Steve backed away. “Showers,” he mumbled, and fled.
Tony was left standing in the middle of their training room, half-hard, half-confused, and all the more determined to make sure the deal was finalized next week, as his lackeys were promising him. But for now: Tony needed the privacy of a hot shower.
One satisfying and steamy shower later, Tony was stepping into the living room with a robe cinched loose around his waist and scrubbing at his hair with towel. As expected, Steve was there, glued to whatever MLB station Tony had in his super-cable package.
The shower had given Tony time to think about a few things. For one, the reasoning behind Steve's oddly intense reaction in the gym. From what Tony knew about Steve, when he grew to care about a person he put his entire heart and soul into the relationship. He was that way with Bucky, his childhood friend he had watched die in the war. He seemed like he was ready to feel that way about Peggy, until he crashed into the ice and left her (and everyone else he knew) behind. And now Steve was just starting to build new relationships with a group of men and women who repeatedly risked their lives on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
Steve really should have gone into a safer line of work. Been a teacher or something. But as it was, Steve was just trying to make sure everyone he was growing to care deeply about was as safe as possible. Tony chose to think that it was because Steve cared for him a different, more intimate way than the others that led to Steve insisting on sparring with him, rather than it just being because Tony was the only one out of the bunch without any actual powers of his own. It made him feel a lot better about himself, the former way.
Tony had also come to a decision in the shower. The Dodgers deal was going through sometime next week, and he wanted Steve to hear it from him, first. So once the date for the announcement was set, Tony would ask Steve out to dinner the night before. Then he'd surprise him with the fantastic news, and make gentle, incredibly hot love to him afterwards. Tony kind of figured the second part was well in-hand, what with the size of the romantic gesture and all.
Strolling over to the couch, Tony rested his chin just next to Steve's ear. In a week or so he'd be able to do this and press a kiss to Steve's cheek, besides. Probably. Hopefully. “What's up?”
“What- Do you-”
On the TV, some sportscaster was reporting on something that seemed to be cause for great alarm. “That's right: the Dodgers are moving back to Brooklyn. Our sources tell us the deal isn't set to be finalized until next week, but from what they know, the Dodgers are moving back to Brooklyn, and the Mets are moving to LA. You heard me right: the twenty-fourteen baseball season will have the Brooklyn Dodgers and the LA Mets.”
Tony was pissed. Furious. Fucking poindexters! They couldn't keep their damn mouths shut for one more fucking week. Oh, Tony was going to sue the hell out of whoever it was who spilled the beans. Not only that: he was going to bury him. Whoever it was wasn't going to be able to find work more important than a bag boy in this life or the next. Tony was going to jam litigation so far up his ass that he wouldn't be able to walk straight in Asgard, the little-
Steve was turned around on the couch, eyebrows raised as he scanned Tony's expression.
“Tony. Do you know something about this?”
As Tony was looking for some way to reply to this, the newscaster spoke again. “Right. Right. This just in: it appears the billionaire industrialist Tony Stark might be the one behind the moves. He is rumored to have bought both teams some months ago, and has been orchestrating this deal since then. At this point we can only speculate as to why Mr. Stark would choose to do something so seemingly out of left field, but we'll keep you up to date as more information surfaces.”
Great. What the hell was he supposed to say to that?
And then just as Tony opened his mouth to try to explain to an expectant Steve, his phone started ringing. All his phones.
The cell phone flew into the wall with a soft chink before bouncing off and dropping to the ground. Tony ran a hand through his hair, half ready to pull it all out in frustration. Damn near six hours he had spent fielding calls, and that was with Pepper dealing with most of them. As much as Tony had tried, the press had wanted to talk to him. Not Pepper, not even a statement Pepper was reading that was directly quoting Tony. No, they had to hear Tony Stark's voice itself in order to accept the statement as true. At this point, Tony didn't even know what the statement was that he had give the press. He just knew that he hadn't seen Steve for six hours, and the last time he saw him Steve was slinking away, confused and... something else. Something that Tony couldn't place, and therefore couldn't decide if it was good or bad. And Tony really hated uncertainty.
“Block my calls. And find me Steve.”
“Yes, sir.” After a moment's pause: “Steve appears to be in his bed, sir. In his bedroom.”
“Right, thanks for that bit of completely necessary redundancy.” Tony hurried out of his office and toward the bedroom he had given Steve months ago at the mansion.
But when Tony got there, he found himself hesitating outside Steve's door, unable to knock or open it or... anything. Steve was probably asleep by now. Even if he wasn't, Tony might not be his favorite person. Steve might not want to see him for days as he sorted his head out.
Tony leaned his head back against Steve's door, sighing. What a mess. Who would have thought buying two baseball teams just to get in the pants of Captain America would get so complicated.
Tony jumped away from the door. “Huh?” It was Steve's voice, from inside his bedroom. “Tony. Just come inside. I can't sleep listening to you breathe outside my door all night.”
Cautiously Tony pushed open the door, peering through the smallest crack. He could see Steve sitting crossed-legged on his bed. He was in pajamas. That fact gave Tony all sorts of inappropriate delight. “Would my breathing really bother you? Could you really hear it?”
Steve smiled. “Yeah, I could hear it. And it wouldn't bother me if I didn't know you were standing there feeling...” he shrugged. “I don't even know what you're feeling. Can you just... come in?”
So Tony stepped through the door and slowly made his way to Steve's bedside. He stood there awkwardly for a moment until Steve patted the mattress, and Tony sat down on the edge.
“Did you do it for me?”
Tony coughed. Well. Steve sure did get down to business. For a moment Tony stared at Steve's wall, fingers fiddling with themselves as he tried to come up with a suitable answer. He was planning on telling Steve anyway, wasn't he? And it wasn't like Steve would very well believe: “No, I just felt like moving the Dodgers back to Brooklyn. Idea occurred to me years before you were unfrozen. Just got around to it now”. No, it was obvious Tony did it for Steve. And Tony had been planning on telling Steve exactly that, and more – the why behind the what. He just hadn't planned on all it coming out exactly this way.
“Yeah,” Tony finally fessed up. “Supposed to be a surprise,” he grumbled. “Was going to go public next week – planned on taking you out on a dinner date the night before to tell you the good news.”
“It's crazy, you know.”
Tony chanced a glance over at Steve, and found a grin awaiting him. Tony grinned back. “Yeah. Well. Never been known for the sanity of my schemes.”
“Can...” Steve hesitated. His fingers were playing with some loose threads on the comforter. Tony made a mental note to order him a new one. “Do you mind me asking why?”
And there it was. Well, Tony didn't get this far being sane: he might as well go out with a big, ridiculous gesture of insanity. He turned to Steve, edging closer to him on the bed. Steve didn't seem to mind: he didn't even shift away. In fact, if anything he leaned closer, waiting to hear what Tony had to say for himself. His lips parted, too – a subtle movement that was in no way lost on Tony. "It was for you," Tony reaffirmed. "As for the why.” And then Tony closed the distance between them and pressed his lips to Steve's, sucking softly in a firm, lingering kiss.
He pulled away without Steve having returned the kiss, and stood up immediately. “Listen, I don't- No reciprocity. If you're not interested. But there you have it.” With that, Tony strode out of the room without looking back. Cards were on the table. If Steve was interested, he knew where to find Tony. If not... well. Thor always seemed like he was up for a good time. The fact that Tony's heart ached just a little even considering anyone but Steve was entirely notwithstanding.
When Tony left hurried down the hallways he thought, okay, that was it. Steve knew about the Dodgers, knew all about the grand romantic gesture, and knew Tony's less-than-pure intentions. However Steve chose to react that information was entirely up to him. Tony thought maybe Steve might respond well – they'd become pretty good friends over the past several weeks, somehow. They chatted over coffee whenever they were in the kitchen at the same time in the morning – which might have happened more often than coincidence, what with Tony monitoring the kitchen from his lab and taking well-timed coffee breaks whenever Steve wandered in. They'd gone to a baseball game, a few movies... they were even starting to spar together, which, oh, Tony really hoped Steve was willing to keep that up, even if he didn't return his feelings.
All in all, Tony figured the best thing to do now was to just give Steve space. He'd need a while to get used to the idea of Tony being interested, then a little while longer to get used to the idea of being interested himself. Tony bet on a week and a half before Steve broached the subject again. And Tony could live with that. Really. He definitely wasn't considering cryogenically freezing himself just to skip forward a week and a half in time. Not at all.
Which was why, when Tony got to his room, he immediately started to strip and get ready for bed. Just as soon as he had tugged off his shirt and dropped it to the ground, however, there was a knock at his door. Tony blinked at the solid wood. “Yeah?”
“Tony. It's me.”
For a moment – a stupid, crazy moment – Tony considered not letting Steve in. But then his stomach flipped and head buzzed at the thought of what Steve might have to say, what might happen with Steve asking to be let into Tony's bedroom.
There was a moment's pause after Tony's permission, then the door creaked open and Steve stepped through. When the door clicked shut behind him, Tony's heartbeat picked up at least ten beats per minute. As Steve stalked closer, expression faintly curious, not saying a word, his heart rate sped up ten more. Tony licked his lips.
“You know,” Steve said, tone oddly light. He was within arm's reach of Tony, and still moving steadily closer. “Back in my day, that's not how we did things.”
Tony's brain was quite completely shut down at this point, his heart pounding in his ears. Steve was almost flush with him, just a few scant inches between their chests. Steve was looming in Tony's vision, all six feet of him bearing down on Tony.
“Back in my day, you didn't just kiss a dame and then run away. It would be considered rude.”
“You're not a dame.” Yeah, brain shut down.
A ghost of a grin tugged at Steve's lips. “Yeah,” he murmured. And oh, oh, he was actually leaning forward, he was bending down and his eyes were fixed on Tony's lips. “You're right.” His lips were close enough that Tony imagined he could feel them moving as he spoke. “So I guess I can do this.”
And then Steve was kissing him, and- oh. Tony's brain shorted well and truly out. Steve's lips were sure against Tony's, firm and sucking slightly. But there was just that little edge of hesitancy that made Tony bring his arms up, grip at Steve's biceps and pull him closer. Steve made a little noise at the movement, his lips slipping open. Tony took that as an invitation, and lapped gently at Steve's parted lips. And... Tony shuddered, pressing harder against Steve as he opened his mouth fully, letting Tony in.
Tony realized that he needed to get control of himself, and fast. Otherwise Steve would be pressed into the mattress, holding out the headboard for dear life as Tony fucked the sense out of him. And as amazing as that sounded, Tony knew it couldn't go like that. Steve may not be a “dame”, but he was still from the forties. And Tony wanted to make sure to do right by him – for some reason.
So Tony pushed on Steve's shoulders, breaking the kiss as gently as he knew how. He spent a moment drinking in the sight of an already disheveled Steve, blinking lust from his big, blue eyes as he stared dazedly down at Tony.
“Remember that what I'm about to say is a lot harder for me than it is for you,” Tony cautioned, “but we probably need to talk.”
The smell of coffee wafting from the kitchen the next morning had Tony practically floating to the kitchen, like something out of a cliched cartoon. When he got there, shirtless and still blinking the sleep out of his eyes, he was greeted by a sight almost better than coffee: an equally shirtless Steve with his back turned to Tony, humming away to himself as he puttered around the kitchen. When Tony realized Steve was the one brewing the coffee, he scratched his earlier assessment: Steve and coffee was a much better sight than that of coffee alone.
“Hey.” Tony moved forward, placing a cautious hand on Steve's hip.
Steve turned into Tony, body folding into him before his gaze did. “Good morning,” Steve replied, eyes bright. He leaned forward, then hesitated.
Yeah, none of that. Tony slipped his arm fully around Steve's waist and pulled him in close, kissing him as thoroughly as he could with a closed mouth (morning breath: not one of Tony's favorite things). Which, as it turned out, was pretty damn thoroughly.
When Tony moved away, Steve was left gasping, lips stuttering forward just an inch before he realized Tony was ending the kiss. Steve opened his eyes and smiled sheepishly.
“Good?” Tony's eyes searched Steve's face, still cautious. Steve might have said he was okay with this last night, but Tony knew sexuality freak-outs could show up at any time, no matter what had transpired. Tony recognized the need to tread carefully with Steve, to treat this thing forming between them with the care of molten palladium.
But then Steve beamed, and the majority of Tony's doubts were blinded into submission, for the moment. “Great,” he affirmed. “Coffee?”
Tony moaned in gratitude, hands already held out for the mug. But Steve had frozen, eyes going wide as he stared at Tony. For a moment Tony couldn't figure out what he had done, and then he realized Steve was looking down at him with... lust? Was that... Tony grinned. Oh.
“Coffee?" Tony pressed, grin sly. Steve blinked, looking as if he was coming out of a trance.
As Tony slid into a seat at the kitchen table, coffee mug securely in hand, he watched Steve pull himself together as he poured himself a mug. When Steve sat down across from him, Tony automatically stuck his bare foot out and stroked at Steve's ankle, watching in delight as Steve's face flushed a bright red before he ducked his head. “Steeevee,” Tony teased.
“Tony,” Steve snapped, but the tone really had no heat behind it. Steve groaned and rubbed a hand over his face, before bringing the hand down to rest his chin on. He shook his head as he stared across the table at Tony. “I don't even have a clue what I've gotten myself into, have I?”
Tony grinned. “No idea,” he confirmed. When Steve groaned and looked just a little bit nervous, Tony removed his foot from Steve's ankle and reached across the table to rest his hand over Steve's other one, which was clasping his mug. “But, you know: I'll be good. Best behavior. Everything at your pace; no pressure. Right?”
Steve's thumb stroked over the back of Tony's hand. It was warm from the coffee mug. “Right.” He grinned. “Thanks, Tony. I don't think I've said it, but... thanks. For everything.”
Tony pulled his hand back and winked. Then he stuck his foot back out and resumed stroking Steve's calf again. “Oh, don't thank me yet,” he cautioned. “You have no idea the weapons I've got in my metaphorical armory.”
Steve groaned again, shifting just a little in his chair. Tony grinned. Normally he didn't have the patience for all this foreplay and courting and anything that wasn't sex, but he knew that Steve was worth it. And that it was going to be fun nudging him along.
In the midst of the PR shitstorm that followed the leaked announcement of the clubs' move, some genius finally thought to ask Tony: “Aren't you friends with Captain America?”
And that was how Steve got involved in announcing his own present to the world a week later. Steve wasn't going to say as much, but that's how Tony viewed the somewhat unfair situation.
“It's alright, Tony," Steve reassured him for the hundredth time since Tony had asked him if he would help.
Tony's thumb swiped against the back of Steve's hand where it was clasped in his own. When they got to the front gate, Tony slipped the guard a few hundred dollar bills and nodded over his shoulder. The guard took the money, meeting Tony's eyes as an understanding passed between the two. Tony patted him on the arm as they walked past, ignoring the way Steve was shrewdly watching the events.
Tony grinned. “Just want the place to ourselves.” He squeezed Steve's hand.
“Why am I not reassured?”
The grin stayed firm on Tony's face. Being with Steve – even where he hadn't quite been with Steve yet – was fun. More fun than he'd had with anyone in years. “Come on.” Tony tugged at Steve's hand. “Lemme show you something.”
Steve followed behind, hand wrapped safely withing Tony's. Tony had looked the schematics to the stadium up yesterday and memorized them, mentally picking out the top six places he wanted to fuck Steve. Hopefully tonight be might get to cross one off his list. Not that he'd begrudge Steve if he didn't! Steve's hand was warm in Tony's in contrast to the cooler night air. The heat made Tony shiver, just a bit. But it'd certainly be a welcome end to the blue balls Tony had been putting up with for the last few months as he had put this deal together, exacerbated by a week of gentle touches and kisses and caresses that never went further than bare chests.
The tunnels beneath the stadium were surprisingly climate controlled – Tony supposed that was probably a big change to what Steve was used to. Even Tony was surprised at how comfortable the simple tunnels from the player's rooms to the dugout were. He'd expect the conditions the players had to endure to be a bit more... rugged.
“Here we are.” Tony stepped out of the tunnel first, pulling Steve behind him. “Home team's dugout. The Mets' dugout, but I figured it'd do until we get the Dodgers' stadium built.”
Deciding to let Steve have his moment in relative peace, Tony dropped Steve's hand and moved to sit in the corner, on the player's bench. He watched as Steve took another step in the dugout, soaking it all in.
Steve's eyes were wide as he looked around, hands coming up almost reverently to pat at the cool walls, stroke the bench, curl his fingers through the chain link fence at the front. His eyes were glittering wet in the dim light of the nighttime security lights, and after a moment he walked purposefully to the opposite end of the dugout, unsubtly wiping his eyes with his back turned. Tony smiled, hands clasped loosely in front of him. This was completely worth it. Every headache, every phone call suffered through with some baseball poindexter on the other end of the line: in this moment, it was definitively worth it.
“Can I...” Steve had walked back across the dugout, to the entrance to the field. His hands gripped the chain link tight. “Can I...?”
Tony winked. “My field. You can do whatever you want. Dig it up and build a house here: it's getting torn down at the end of the season anyway.” At Steve's horrified expression, Tony rolled his eyes. “Or just feel the grass in center field. Go on.”
Steve beamed and started to swing himself out onto the field. But then he paused, hand still on the chain link, and turned back around. He walked over to Tony in just a few long strides, and pulled him into a kiss from his seated position. Tony responded eagerly, head tilted back as he accepted the kiss. When Steve pulled away, his hand lingered on the side of Tony's face, thumb stroking his cheek. “Thank you,” he whispered, eyes still half-lidded.
Leaning forward, Tony pecked another quick kiss to Steve's lips. “Anytime. Now go feel that center field grass. I know you're dying to.”
With that and one more smile for Tony, Steve bounded off onto the field. Tony relaxed back on the bench and watched him have his fun. And waited for him to get back. He had a list to get started on, after all.
Twenty minutes later Tony had given up on watching Steve run around the outfield, infield, and bases, and had turned his attention to the schematic for the jet he had started before all this baseball insanity took over his mind. Something sleek and sexy for the Avengers. After all, only a couple of them could fly, and as much as Tony loved an excuse to bundle Steve up in his arms and carry him to their destination, he wasn't so apt to do the same for Clint or Bruce. Maybe Natasha. But she'd probably just gouge his eyes out if he suggested it. Or thigh-strangle him to death (though, then again...).
Steve's heavy feet stamping across the track alerted Tony to his presence, and so he quickly tucked his PDA away and looked up. Steve was panting, sweaty, and grinning like a maniac. There was clay all over his front and thigh from where he must have slid into home plate. The sight of him certainly got Tony's – and certain parts of his – attention.
Steve was on him in an instant, pressing Tony back against the dugout wall, hands bearing down on his shoulders with enough force to bruise. Tony gave back as good as he got, digging his fingers into Steve's shoulders as he pulled him further into the brutal kiss. Tongues and teeth clashed and Steve murmured thanks and gratitude straight into Tony's mouth, chest sweat-damp and warm even through his cotton shirt.
When Steve straddled the bench and Tony's lap, Tony decided to try and retake control of the situation. “Hang on, hang on. You're going to crush me, big guy. Get up.” Steve's eyes were glazed and desperate, body fully compliant and submissive to how Tony was manhandling him. Tony couldn't be more pleased – or turned on – by it.
Jerkily Tony stood up, stumbling over the bench as he attempted to turn Steve around in the same movement. Eventually he managed to get Steve seated, back against the wall, staring up at Tony as he waited for his next move. With one last, quick glance to memorize the way Steve looked straddling the dugout bench, Tony leaned down and kissed him again, crawling into his lap with little grace. Steve caught on quickly, pressing one hand flat against Tony's back as he pulled him in, the other tight around Tony's waist as he held him in place.
“Fuck, Steve,” Tony mumbled into the kiss. Their tongues slid against one another, sending waves of warmth and arousal through Tony's system. His hips started to move, cautious at first, not wanting to scare Steve off. But then Steve was moving with him, an answering hardness meeting Tony's, and yeah that was it, that was perfect. Tony gripped Steve's shoulder hard and nipped at his lips, thrusting his tongue more forcefully into his mouth.
Steve was already panting, much harder than he'd been from his jaunt around the field. Tony knew this was going to be over fast, but it didn't matter. What mattered was Steve was beneath him, eager and wanting. Getting himself off would be nice, too, but there'd be plenty of time for that later (or there would be if Tony had any say in it). Right now this was about Steve, about welcoming him to the future with a gift reclaiming his past.
And damn Tony for being a sentimental sap, but the fact that he had managed to give Steve this gift, to make him so happy, made Tony equally as happy. And wasn't that just the weirdest thing?
“Tony, I... unh... I...”
“Yeah, come on. No, wait. Hang on.” Fumbling, Tony loosened his one hand's death grip on Steve and shoved it between them, his goal Steve's zipper. He made quick work of it – thank you, practice – and soon enough his hand was inside Steve's pants, pushing into his boxer briefs and wrapping around the thick, hot erection inside.
“Oh yeah,” Tony mumbled, half to himself. “Super serum really worked, didn't it? Best thing Dad ever did for me.”
“Tony, shut... hhn, sh- oh...”
Tony snorted at Steve's incoherence, face buried in his neck. He pressed a few kisses there, then licked. Steve tasted like sweat and freshly cut grass. Like summertime. And wow, apparently like something that inspired bad similes and nostalgia. Then again, Tony thought he could be forgiven his lack of poetic functions at the moment: he did have his hands shoved down his friend's (lover's? Boyfriend's? And huh, wasn't that a weird word in Tony's mind) pants and was jerking him to a quick finish.
“You're close, aren't you?” Tony nipped at Steve's throat, wringing a groan from the other man. “Yeah you are. Come on, Steve. Come for me. I know you're close. You can do it; it's okay. After you come I'm going to clean you up, going to lick all your come off my fingers and you. Then we'll button you back up, get you back to the hotel room, where we can start all over again. Going to fuck you so hard, going to suck you dry. Not going to be able to watch baseball ever again without getting hard enough to hammer nails, are you?”
Warmth flooded Tony's hand almost immediately after the word “baseball”, making him nearly laugh again. He really knew how to court a guy, apparently. Steve was shaking against him, moaning weakly as Tony stroked himself through the last few drops of his orgasm. Tony finally released Steve when he was whimpering against his shoulder with every stroke, sibilant little syllables of what Tony supposed was meant to be “Stop” whispered into his shirt.
Tony waited, clean hand stroking soothing patterns down Steve's shoulder, whispering little meaningless reassurances in his ear. His own erection was still throbbing painfully hard inside his jeans, but that was okay, that was fine: this was Steve's present, Steve's gift. And, yeah: Tony was pretty much expecting some sort of reciprocity as a sure thing once Steve was back in control – maybe as long as when they got back to the hotel room. Steve post-coitally compliant and loose in Tony's arms right now was what mattered, and was nearly hotter than getting off himself.
“Oh, darn, Tony, I...”
Tony easily batted away the shaking hand that reached for his groin. “Nope. That can wait. Come on. Let's get you cleaned up.”
Automatically Tony brought his hand up to his mouth and started licking come off it – after all, he didn't have any tissues lying around, and he wasn't about to wipe come onto five hundred dollar designer jeans. Pepper would kill him. He didn't even register what he was doing, not really, until Steve made a strangled sound. Tony looked up to find Steve staring at him, hungry look in his eyes. Tony smirked before curling a tongue around one come-spattered finger and sucking it into his mouth. Steve whimpered, then dropped his head against Tony's shoulder. His hand batted pathetically at Tony's. “Don't... Damn it, Tony...”
Tony slipped the finger out of his mouth with a loud pop. “Think we should take this somewhere else? Hotel room?”
Steve's head jerked up so fast he practically caught Tony in the jaw with it. “Yeah. Yeah, come on.”
Tony let Steve scramble up and toward the tunnels for a moment before shouting casually after him: “Might want to zip up those pants, first!”
“And so, it is my great honor to welcome the Dodgers back to where they belong: the great borough of Brooklyn!”
The crowd cheered madly as Captain America waved at them from the pitcher's mound, beaming beneath his cowl. Tony watched from the dugout. Well... less watched, more was flipping through his PDA and sketching some more designs for the new Avengers jet. The working title of the project was Quinque, but that would change. It wasn't very sleek.
“I think it went well!”
Tony glanced up at Steve, who had just jogged in from the field. Then he peered out at the crowd, which was still cheering. Tony nodded. “Yup. Looks like.” He frowned down at his PDA. Okay, this was stupid. What the hell... this couldn't steer. What was wrong with him? He blamed lack of sleep. Which he in turn blamed on Steve. Which was, actually, an awesome reason for not sleeping.
Something registered in the back of Tony's mind, and he glanced back up at Steve. Upon doing so, he realized what it was. Steve was flushing, pretty obviously, from beneath his cowl. Slowly Tony's eyes shifted around the dugout, where media tech assistants and personalities wandered about. Tony shifted closer to Steve, dropping his voice a register.
“You're thinking about last night, aren't you?”
“Tony...” Steve warned.
Showing a truly admirable amount of self-restraint, Tony contented himself with wiggling his eyebrows a little bit before pressing his lips together in a firm line, silently promising not say anything again. Not until they were somewhere they could do something about it.
To Tony's surprise, Steve glanced around at the reporters milling about, then leaned down and said in a low voice: “What do you say we skip out on the rest of this?”
Tony's eyes widened, a slow grin spreading across his face as a heat curled in his groin. “Are you trying to seduce me, Captain America?”
Beneath the cowl, Steve frowned. “That sounded like a reference. Was that a reference?”
And in a second Tony remembered why he had taken so long to get to know Steve, why he had done something so ridiculous as buy two major league baseball teams just to make him happy. “Come on, big guy.” Tony slapped Steve on a meaty shoulder and nodded his head. “Let's blow this popsicle stand.”