The very last person to admit he was getting old was Tony himself. At seventy two years old, he was still very much in the prime of his life. His skin may have been wrinkling and his balls may have been sagging, but he was just as intelligent, just as sexy as he had always been.
Or so he kept telling himself.
Because there had come a point a few years ago where Pepper had physically held his arm behind his back and tugged until he’d relented and promised to retire from running Stark Industries. It wasn’t even like he’d wanted to keep going, per-se, rather that he just didn’t trust any of his higher ups not to run the damn company into the ground once he was gone. But then Peter, his son, the light of his life, had graduated college and agreed to take over as CEO.
And so Tony, at sixty eight years old, had retired. Not to one of those gross retirement homes that kept cropping up on the news because they were beating up their residents, though, no sir; he had renovated one of his mansions into the first of what he hoped would be many Stark branded retirement resorts.
Hey, just because he had retired from Stark Industries didn’t mean he couldn’t set up a side business. Nobody said anything about him not being able to do that. Plus, those first few weeks of retirement had been… kind of lonesome. He was a social creature, always had been, and suddenly going from seeing people everyday to not had been a step too far for him. He hated to admit it, but he needed other people around him to thrive.
“The orderlies just told me you’re still hitting on them,” Peter hummed from Tony’s bedroom door one morning while Tony buttoned his shirt up. “Even though we’ve already had to shell out thousands in harassment compensation. Are you ever going to stop being gross?”
“Peter,” Tony tutted, tucking his shirt into his pants. “I’m hurt that you think my friendly conversation is anything other than just that – friendly conversation. And even if it weren’t, who’s to say that I’m not finally ready for a real relationship? To settle down? I have feelings, Peter, and -”
“You’re full of shit,” Peter rolled his eyes, but his expression was fond as he stepped back to let Tony past. “You’ll never settle down. Stop hitting on the orderlies.”
“I can’t promise that, Petey, but I’ll give it my best shot,” Tony compromised, blowing the kid a kiss as he walked down the hall towards breakfast. “Now, don’t you have a company to run?”
“I have a once-in-a-blue-moon day off,” Peter called after him, “and I thought my Dad might be happy to see me, but obviously not!”
“You know I love you, sport,” Tony called back over his shoulder, “but there’s a bunch of new residents coming in today, and I need to scout out the new meat!”
“You’re a pig!”
“Love you, too!”
Retired Army Captain Steven Grant Rogers had fought in two wars, lost one wife and gained one adoptive daughter in his ninety plus years of life. He thought he was doing pretty well, considering his age, but apparently it wasn’t acceptable for a man of his age to still be picking fights with douche bags, and Gwen just couldn’t cope with having to cut college classes to go pick him up from the hospital or police station.
He understood. Really, he did.
“Will you please try to make some friends?” Gwen pleaded as she helped him out of their car. “I’m a college senior now, Pops. I can’t afford to drop everything and come running every time you decide someone side-eyes you wrong.”
Steve scoffed, because she was exaggerating a little, but ultimately sighed and nodded his head. “Okay, honey, I promise. I know how important college is to you.”
“Thank you, Papa,” Gwen smiled, leaning up on her tip-toes to kiss his cheek. “Now let’s go find where to check in, huh?”
Steve let her link their arms together and lead him up the stairs to the huge front doors of the Stark Retirement Resort. What little he had seen of it seemed to hold up so far; the mansion was situated in upstate New York with a backdrop of what looked like at least five acres of lush, green land. There were definitely plenty of opportunities for sketching here, it was true. From what Gwen had told him, there were great hiking trails nearby and sports courts at the back of the house, too. He hated to admit it, but the place did seem pretty great.
Once inside, they were pointed in the direction of what looked like a food hall. There had to be close to a hundred OAPs sat around tables, talking and eating breakfast. Gwen led him over to a small group sat around a table with a New Residents plaque perched in the middle. There was only one chair left; Steve tried to usher Gwen into it, but she just rolled her eyes and forced him down.
“Save the chivalry for the more mature ladies, Pops,” she murmured, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. “Or gentlemen, even.”
Before Steve could say anything to that, his attention was caught by a commotion coming from the food hall door.
“- maybe not the best idea, Mr. Stark -”
“Nonsense, Beverly, I’m just going to say hello.”
“Peter, buddy, I love you, but I need you to get your claws out of my ass before you rupture something.”
The gentleman making his way across the dining hall, followed quickly by a young man and nurse, didn’t look a day over sixty years old. Steve knew logically that he had to be, otherwise he wouldn’t have been there, but the way he ducked and dodged between people lent itself to a much younger man.
“That must be Mr. Stark,” Gwen whispered to Steve. “He’s looking great for seventy two, right?”
“He’s seventy two?” Steve all but yelled, and then cleared his throat when a few OAPs turned to look at him. “I mean… he’s seventy two?”
Gwen smirked at him as though he had said or done something interesting, but didn’t have time to reply before Mr. Stark arrived at their table, arms thrown wide and a smile plastered on his face in welcome.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” he started. “My, what a handsome bunch you all are. Hi, I’m Mr. Stark, though I guess you can all call me Tony as we’ll be living together; I just wanted to drop in, take a look at the new talent, say hi -”
“Dad,” the young man next to him groaned, covering his eyes with a hand.
“- and I’ve done that,” Tony continued, shooting who was apparently his son a quick look before turning back to their group. “So welcome, enjoy your stay, don’t hesitate to call if something isn’t to your standard, yada yada yada, you all know the drill. Anyone up for a couple of drinks?”
“No, Dad, it’s not even 9am,” his son shook his head, reaching out to grab Mr. Stark’s arm and tug him gently away. “Sorry about that, folks; he gets a little excited, is all. He got one thing right, though – if you have any problems, do no hesitate to tell someone. We’ll do our best to make you as comfortable as possible.”
And so, without another word, Tony Stark was led away from them.
“Handsome,” Gwen murmured, and Steve felt his cheeks heating a little despite his age and experience.
“I never said that.”
“Well I meant his son,” Gwen hummed, turning to him with yet another smirk. “But that’s good to know, Pops.”
Steve just swore under his breath.
Against all his previous trepidations, Steve did actually settle in fairly quickly. His renovated suite was nice (and only attainable because the Stark Retirement Resort was so affordable for the everyman); he had an en suite bedroom with call buttons should he run into any trouble, as well as a living room/kitchenette combo that was stylish and user friendly.
Despite her words of warning, Gwen visited often. Steve thought it had more than a little to do with that Stark boy, who seemed to have taken a shine to her as well, but Gwen was a grown up; she could make her own decisions. That, and he’d never begrudge a chance to see her. He had made friends amongst the residents (five to be exact – Natasha, Clint, Thor, Bruce and Sam), but there really was nothing quite like a little reminder of home.
And then there was Tony Stark.
After the initial welcome, Steve had been under the impression that he wouldn’t actually see Tony a whole lot around the mansion, but apparently he had been wrong. Tony was everywhere. He was at every meal and most of the activities that Steve found himself signed up to. Worse, Tony always had at least two pretty ladies on his arms, and even the occasional man. He was a natural flirt, and Steve found himself mysteriously charmed by him despite not having really had those kind of feelings for anyone since Peggy had died all those years ago.
It was beginning to become a bit of a problem, and he really didn’t know what to do about it.
He didn’t really know Tony, after all. He’d never actually had a single conversation with the man; he was more than aware that he was being just a little pathetic. And then, one ordinary Tuesday morning, that all changed.
Steve was just out of the shower and dressed, towelling his hair dry as he decided which watch he wanted to wear, when he heard the front door slam. He automatically tensed, a hangover from his war days, and then forced himself to relax when Gwen called through to him.
“Hey, honey, I’ll be out in a minute,” he called back, deciding on his brown strapped watch over the black. “And what’s the occasion? You haven’t called mePapa in years.”
Smiling to himself, he was focused on fastening his watch as he walked through his bedroom door into the living room -
“Um, hello, sir.”
His head snapped up, surprised, and paused in the doorway as he took in the sight before him. Gwen was sat on his couch, all dolled up and looking sheepish, with the Stark boy sat suspiciously close to her. He offered an awkward little wave, as though he was uncomfortable, and Steve was about to ask why, when -
“It’s everyone’s favourite retired Captain!” Tony called, pivoting in Steve’s swivel armchair to reveal himself. “How ya doing, Cappy?”
For just a second, Steve’s whole brain shut down. His mind wasn’t as fast as it used to be, but he’d never quite had this reaction to something before. Shaking his head a little to clear it, he sent a betrayed look in Gwen’s direction.
“You… you didn’t tell me you were bringing guests,” he managed, and Gwen grimaced guiltily.
“Well, actually, Papa -”
“Our kids are making the beast with two backs, Steve-o!” Tony crowed, and Steve nearly swallowed his tongue as he snapped his head between him and Gwen.
“Dad!” the Stark boy snapped, and then ran a weary hand over his face. Hey, having Tony Stark as a father couldn’t be the easiest thing in the world. “Mr. Rogers, I’m so sorry -”
“Are you really dating my daughter, son?” Steve cut him off, and felt a strange sense of satisfaction when the boy swallowed heavily before answering.
“Well, uh, actually, we’ve not been on a date yet,” he replied. “I just wanted to – to ask your permission first, I guess.”
“Peter’s a gentleman,” Gwen chipped in, and took the kid’s hand, of all things.
“Gets it from his father -”
“Is there a reason you’re here, too, Mr. Stark?” Steve asked loudly, turning his attention back to him.
“Steven, I am hurt,” Tony gasped, holding a withered hand over his heart. “Can’t a father watch his son finally get the girl he’s not stopped talking about for weeks -?”
“Daaadd!” Peter squeaked, face blushing an admittedly endearing light pink. “Could you filter yourself for once in your life? It’s bad enough that you had to be here -”
“Mr. Stark wanted us all to get to know each other a little better,” Gwen called over everyone. “I thought maybe tennis out back?”
She sent Steve a truly pleading look, the one she got from her mother, the one that Steve had no hope of saying no to, and he just sighed, already defeated.
The Stark tennis courts were better than some of the professional pitches Steve had seen on the TV. They were newly turfed, the limits of each court re-chalked every week from what he had gathered. The equipment was kept in tip top condition, and free for residents and relatives to use at any time.
“You’re not mad at me for springing this on you, are you?” Gwen asked quietly as they all changed into some more appropriate shoes in the foyer of the locker rooms.
Steve sighed. “A little heads up would have been nice. You really like this boy?”
“I do, Papa,” Gwen nodded sincerely.
“Then how can I be mad?” he shrugged, and then pulled her in for a one-armed hug. “His father doesn’t seem to know how to make a good first impression, but maybe I’ll change my mind, huh?”
He wasn’t very optimistic about the prospects of that, particularly, but he would try his best for Gwen.
When they were all ready, they headed out to a couple of adjoining courts. Gwen and Peter immediately darted off to one of them, which left Steve hanging back with Tony.
“You’re not actually going to make me play, are you?” Tony groaned, dropping down onto the nearest bench. He threw a flirty little finger wave at a handsome resident playing on another court with who looked like his son. “I know I talk a big game, but my ankles really aren’t what they used to be.”
“I don’t mind watching the kids,” Steve replied, taking a seat next to him. “How long have you known about them?”
He tried not to sound too bitter about the whole thing.
“Peter’s been talking about her since the day you moved in,” Tony shrugged, pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket to dab at his receding hairline. “Didn’t actually introduce me to her properly until today, though. I think they’ve been texting each other some.”
“But they’ve not been on an actual date?” Steve shook his head. “Kids today.”
“Peter can be… a little awkward,” Tony sighed. “He’s not the most confident of kids – not like his old man.” Tony winked at him, and Steve scowled, refusing to admit his heart fluttered a little in his chest. “He must have gotten it from his mother, but damned if I can remember anything about her.”
“His mother isn’t around?” Steve asked carefully, knowing just how touchy a subject that could be.
“I never really knew her to begin with,” Tony replied flippantly. “Drunken one night stand, y'know? Didn’t even know she had been pregnant until I got a call saying I had a son and that his mother had died giving birth.”
“That’s terrible,” Steve murmured, looking out across the courts to watch Gwen and Peter. “I’m sorry.”
“Why?” Tony huffed out a laugh. “I never even got her name. It’s Peter I feel bad for.”
“He… seems like a stand up young man,” Steve admitted. “That’s down to you. Whatever he went without, seems like you made up for it.”
Tony side-eyed him for a moment, as though he couldn’t quite figure him out, and then turned back to watch the kids play. A small, sincere smile played at the corners of his lips, telling Steve he didn’t get nearly as much genuine praise as he would have thought for a multi-billion dollar business owner.
“So… what about you?” Tony asked after a moment of comfortable silence. “What’s your story? Or are you not ready to pour your heart out to a stranger?”
Steve huffed out a laugh “I was part of an experiment during the Second World War. They wanted juiced up super soldiers to help them win the war, and I was a scrawny little thing with no hope of getting in otherwise, so I signed up. They made me big, muscular -”
“You don’t say,” Tony hummed appreciatively, and Steve felt his face heating.
“- and I helped them win the war,” he shrugged. “Met my girl along the way, nearly died in a plane crash, and then… the war was over. We both got jobs at the SSR after that; we were partners. Stayed there for years, too, and then… then ‘Nam came around, and I was asked to throw on the old uniform and rally the troops again.
“It didn’t… feel the same as the previous war,” he murmured, frowning. “I didn’t feel as justified as I had done before. It wasn’t as black and white. American soldiers, men I had put my faith in before, were raping and killing innocent people. They were playing dirty, and I didn’t want any part of it.
“I quit,” he shrugged. “They wanted to charge me for desertion, but Peggy managed to get me off with a dishonourable discharge instead. I’d probably still be rotting in jail if it weren’t for her. We retired after that. We had enough savings to get us through, and Peggy still took up the occasional case; she never could sit still for too long. She’d set up her own organisation to keep people safe by that point; had her own staff. It was all self-sufficient, running like clockwork, so it seemed like the perfect time to expand our little family. Peggy was past being able to conceive naturally, so we went back to the orphanage I was raised in after my Ma died and adopted Gwen. Her Dad had been a police officer – got killed on the job.
“We had a wonderful few years together, but then Peggy took another case. She swore it was the last time, that she’d just finish it and then stop, but… she was tricked; they pushed her into a trap.
“Coroner’s report said she’d been shot in the head six times,” he whispered, swallowing past the lump in his throat. “And now here we are.”
He didn’t dare look at Tony in case something in his expression made him burst into tears. He had mourned his wife years ago, had begrudgingly moved on, but it still hurt to talk about. He had thought he and Peggy would spend the rest of their lives together – raise their daughter together. He had made sure to show Gwen pictures and recordings of her mother to make sure she never forgot, but it wasn’t the same as the real thing.
“I didn’t realise,” Tony cleared his throat after an extended period of silence. Cautiously, Steve glanced over at him, and realised he looked genuinely remorseful. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
“It was years ago now,” Steve sighed, running a weary hand over his face. “But… thank you.”
“You wanna get out of here?” Tony asked after a moment, and Steve frowned, confused. “We’re obviously cramping their style, and neither of us really wants to play, so… we could head back inside? Maybe catch that movie the orderlies are projecting on the wall in the rec room?”
“Are you asking me on a date, Mr. Stark?” Steve asked before he could stop himself, and had to close his eyes for a moment to regain his equilibrium, because he was so stupid.
Tony just grinned at him when he opened his eyes again, as though he knew he hadn’t meant to say that, and offered him his arm.
They just… fell into a thing after that. It wasn’t quite a relationship, per-se, but Tony stopped flirting with the other residents and orderlies, and they started spending a lot more time together. There may have been a little kissing involved, too, but nobody needed to know about that.
“Life’s short,” Sam kept telling him over breakfast. “Too short not to get your mack on.”
“No, nuh-uh, I see the way you look at him,” he cut over Steve, pointing his cereal spoon at him. “Do you need Viagra? Is that the problem? Because I have Viagra if that’s the -”
“That’s not the problem,” Steve squeaked, pointedly ignoring the lady next to them who sent him an unimpressed look. “There is no problem, okay, we’re just… taking it slow.”
“Oh yeah? And when has Tony Stark ever taken anything slow before?” Sam hummed, spooning more cereal into his mouth. “You’ve gotta lock that down.”
“We’re not teenagers anymore, Sam,” Steve rolled his eyes. “It’s not always about sex.”
“I can guarantee you only someone not having sex will say that to you -”
“Good morning, my grumpy ray of sunshine,” Tony called, shuffling into the seat on Steve’s other side. He leaned in and pressed a kiss to Steve’s cheek, and Steve tried (and failed) not to blush.
“Good morning, Tony,” he replied, ignoring Sam’s smirk.
“Doesn’t he blush pretty, Wilson?” Tony smiled, grabbing Steve’s hand to lace their withered fingers together.
“Eh,” Sam shrugged, still grinning. “I’ve seen prettier.”
“Blasphemy,” Tony tutted. “You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about. Steve is the most beautiful -”
“What are you after, Tony?” Steve asked fondly, rolling his eyes. Tony, to his credit, looked a little nervous as he cleared his throat.
“Well I just… um, I’ve been talking to the kid, and he’s told me that I need to be more forward. Don’t think I’ve ever gotten that note before in my life, but, um… dinner. I mean – would you like to have dinner with me tonight?”
“In my suite,” Tony added, and Steve once again ignored how Sam snorted with laughter across the table. “On an official date.”
“I would love to, Tony,” he replied with a smile, and laughed when Tony leaned in and planted a smacking kiss on his lips.
“Great!” he crowed, getting back to his feet. “6pm okay? I know you like the early bird special, honey, and that’s okay, really -”
“6pm is fine, Tony,” Steve rolled his eyes again. “That sarcasm might get you in trouble one of these days, though.”
“Oh, I’m counting on it,” Tony called over his shoulder as he practically bounded from the room.
Steve watched him go, unable to keep a smile off his face. When he turned back to Sam, who was still smirking at him, he found he really didn’t mind all that much.
“I’m posting some Viagra under your door later, just so you know,” Sam told him, and then turned back to his breakfast as though nothing had happened.
Steve had faith in Tony, but he really hadn’t been expecting a lot for dinner. Tony didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would know how to cook a meal, but apparently Steve had been wrong. When he arrived at 5:55pm that evening, the mouth-watering smell of roasting meat and sautéing onions filled his nose.
Tony, dressed in a clean shirt and pants (which was all Steve could really ask for) led him to a dining table which was dressed for the occasion. A soft, white cloth had been thrown over the surface, and their plates and cutlery were already presented. Tony had even lit a couple of candles and put them in the center of the table, and there was a bottle of wine sitting in a bucket of ice there, too.
“Pretty nice, right?” Tony grinned, pulling Steve’s chair out for him. He couldn’t help but be charmed by the effort. “You just wait here, pour yourself a glass of wine, and I’ll be right back with dinner, okay?”
“Okay,” Steve agreed, and chuckled fondly when Tony obviously threw caution to the wind and kissed the back of his head before disappearing back into the kitchen.
While he was waiting, Steve did as suggested and poured them both a glass of wine. It looked like an expensive vintage, but Steve decided against asking about it. Tony had more money than sense – Steve was sure knowing the actual price would leave him speechless.
“Okay, here we go,” Tony called, and Steve turned just in time to see him carrying what looked like an elegantly made casserole through in its serving dish. He’d even remembered to wear over mitts so he didn’t burn himself, and though his hands were shaking a little as he walked over and put it on the table, Steve knew that was just his age. “Meat and potato casserole, just like Mom used to make it.”
“It looks wonderful,” Steve smiled, leaning up to snag a gentle kiss before Tony could scoot away to sit down. “Thank you for this.”
“Well, I wanted tonight to be special,” Tony shrugged modestly as he sat down, unfolding his napkin to place across his lap.
“Why tonight, specifically?” Steve asked curiously, accepting a hearty portion of casserole when Tony dished it out to him.
“Well,” Tony hummed, taking a bite of his casserole in what Steve realised was an act of prolonging his reply. “I just… we’ve been doing this thing for a little while, and I – I really like you, so I just wanted to make it official.”
“Are you asking me to be your boyfriend, Tony?” Steve smiled, endeared.
Tony grimaced. “Well, boyfriend sounds kinda high-school, but I thought we could maybe be exclusive?”
“Partners in crime?” Steve hummed, taking a bite of casserole; it was delicious. “I think I can manage that.”
Tony looked visibly relieved. “Yeah?”
“Yeah,” Steve nodded. “You don’t do the monogamy thing a whole lot, do you?”
“No,” Tony admitted quietly, reaching across the table to take Steve’s hand, “but maybe I finally found the person that made me want to be monogamous.”
“Took you long enough, old man,” Steve grinned, squeezing Tony’s hand before returning to his meal.
“You’re older than me, you old coot!” Tony huffed indignantly, but he was smiling into his casserole when Steve looked up at him. “No damn respect these days -”
They continued to chat idly as they finished their dinner and wine. Steve was having a wonderful time, better than he ever could have dreamed when he first met Tony all those months ago. Sure, he didn’t exactly make a great first impression, but Tony was sensitive and witty in a way that made Steve’s heart flutter like he was seventeen all over again.
“Would you like to dance with me?” Tony asked once they were both done with their food. He got to his feet and offered Steve a hand, which he accepted with a helpless smile. “It’s been a while, and my co-ordination isn’t what it used to be, so this might be a disaster -”
“Shut up and dance with me,” Steve replied fondly, letting Tony lead him away from the table and into the living room.
Tony stepped away from him for a few moments to turn on some music; soft jazz began to play through the whole suite, and when Tony moved back over to him, it was with a gentle smile on his face.
“Lead the way, big guy,” Tony murmured, stepping in close for Steve to take his hand and wrap and arm around his waist.
Neither of them were as nimble or agile as they used to be (though Steve was moreso that Tony, thanks to the serum), so they ended up just swaying gently back and forth in time to the music. As they danced, Steve got the opportunity to really look at Tony for what felt like the first time. His skin, where wrinkling, was still tanned and incredibly smooth-looking. His eyes were dark and mysterious, and held just as much life as Steve suspected they had when Tony was a boy. His hair was receding and definitely greying, but was still thick and healthy.
Tony was beautiful, inside and out.
Before he could stop himself, Steve leaned in and caught Tony’s lips in a deep, passionate kiss. Tony kissed back immediately, stepping impossibly closer and wrapping his arms around Steve’s shoulders in an approximation of a hug. Steve smiled into the kiss, content, and continued to sway them gently back and forth in time with the music.
“What was that for?” Tony asked when they finally pulled their faces far enough apart to speak.
Steve shrugged, still smiling. “Just having a nice time, is all.”
“Well I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna have to pop into the bathroom for a little blue friend of mine if you want the fun to go any further than this,” Tony replied cheekily, and Steve swatted his butt playfully.
“What is it with everyone talking about Viagra today?” he laughed, bemused. Then, smiling, he continued, “I don’t put out on the first date, Tony. You’ll have to wait until next time.”
Tony groaned helplessly and tugged Steve down by the front of his shirt for another kiss.