One of the things Tony likes best about being a teacher, he’s decided, is that it’s basically a giant fuck you to his old man. For all of his droning about Tony following in his footsteps to lead the helm at SI, not even Howard Stark could force his son into the position. So when he'd finally croaked, it hadn’t even taken Tony an hour to figure out what to do. Three days later he’d practically shoved Pepper into her new CEO office chair, and hightailed out of the building like the world’s greatest prison bust.
Which, you know, it kind of felt like.
(He never told Pepper that. But he knows he’s never had to, because now she spends at least half of every lunch they meet up for telling him how good he looks, and he spends the other half rolling his eyes and telling her to stop stating the obvious.)
Now here he is, three years later, and even though it’s far from an easy ride— he’s got the graying temples to prove it, and he wears them as well as fucking anything— he’s happy in a way he doesn't remember ever being. And even though he’s not a complete expert on Chemistry, that still makes him ten times more qualified than anyone else. He has seven doctorates for a reason— teaching a bunch of teenage punks is more than a little nice.
But nothing’s nicer than Steve Rogers, Tony’s classroom neighbor, resident art teacher and the hottest man Tony’s ever seen.
He’s also smart and kind and dedicated— which yeah, all big pluses, of course— but the fact that he’s hot like burning just can’t be ignored.
(He’s including himself in this, by the way, and he doesn’t give a fuck-- it’s true.)
Mr. Rogers— and really, Tony has no shame, so he’ll gladly admit he’s spent a number nights with his hand on his cock and that name on his lips— is definitely an incentive for getting up early in the morning.
Between their classrooms is a door that stands at the back of Tony’s and opens right next to the other room’s whiteboard, and thank god for the glass window that takes up the top half of the door— the one that neither of them has tried to cover— because nothing makes his day better than catching a glimpse of those shoulders.
And those arms. And that khaki-clad ass.
If he’s lucky, Mr. Rogers will even wave and smile in the middle of Tony’s lecture, blushing when Tony winks in return.
And so incredibly hot
But even though they’ve talked, they’re not the tightest of friends, and Tony decides one afternoon that he really fucking needs to change that, which is how it all starts.
At some point after lunch, when Tony’s trying to settle his rowdy pupils into groups for their lab, the music begins. It’s Chopin this time, he recognizes, and when he leans in to peek through the door window...
Mr. Rogers, all six feet two of blond, muscled perfection, is weaving through the crowd of easels where his students are all primly seated, engrossed in their paintings. He moves in time with the rhythm, smiling and offering comments of encouragement-- at least that's what Tony thinks, from the way each kid smiles after he passes. It’s such a contrast to the sort of organized chaos in his room that Tony can’t help but be impressed.
Still, as much as he’d like to keep staring, the music is starting to get annoying. It’s not the first time Mr. Rogers has played songs for his students, but Tony can only take so many Nocturnes and Opuses, so he walks to his desk— he’s past ignoring his class, they could probably use a break; it’s not his grade, anyway— and grabs his little stack of bright, gold sticky notes.
A few scribbles later, he walks back to the door, sticks the note so that it’s legible from the other side, and taps the glass hard.
Mr. Rogers turns immediately, and when Tony points to the note, he walks to it, footsteps as slow and rhythmic as before. A couple of students from both rooms turn to the new distraction, but Tony ignores them, choosing to stare at the blond as he reads the note:
Chopin’s fine for getting those creative juices flowing, I’m sure, but maybe every once in a while you might like to try something from THIS century to inspire all those young minds. I know AC/DC never fails to get my blood pumping. :)
By the time those blue eyes rise to meet Tony’s, they’re bright and playful, and Tony does nothing as Mr. Rogers moves to grab the bright blue stack atop his desk. With that sweet smile still on his face, he quickly writes a message of his own and puts the note—in all its curly, elegant writing— right next to Tony’s:
My students have yet to complain. And you should know there’s more than one way a person can get their blood pumping. I’m more of a slow and steady guy myself. -Mr. R ;)
Tony’s pretty sure he’s about to combust when he reaches the winking face at the end, but Rogers just laughs and returns to his students, and Tony tries to get his mind out of the gutter and back into his head.
God, how he tries...
The second time is only three days later.
The two notes have been stuck to the window the entire time, and most of their students have stopped to read them at one point or another, so there’s more attention this time around.
This morning is dim and grey, with rain splattering heavily on the outer windows loud enough to disrupt the steady tempo of Tony’s voice as he goes over catalysts and chemical reactions. He’s just getting ready to take questions, though, when the first riffs of “Back in Black” make their way into the room.
Half the class breaks into knowing whispers, and the other look his way with thinly veiled curiosity, but then they all go silent when Mr. Rogers appears at the window. He’s already grinning, and even though his eyes are quick to meet Tony’s, he still makes a show of swiping the note above the old one, tapping the glass, and walking away.
Tony rolls his eyes, but he's at the door in seconds. A girl giggles behind him, but she’s not the one passing notes with Hottie McHottie, so, really.
No one could blame him, he thinks, and starts reading:
I generally go for Classical on rainy days, but I’m in a hard, fast sort of mood today. Must be something in the water. -Mr. R ;)
The jolt of heat that hits low in his stomach is impossible to ignore, because even though he and Mr. Rogers haven’t acted differently when they meet up in person, Tony knows about the new bet going on in the teacher’s lounge— Romanoff and Barton make a troubling twosome, as fun as they are together.
And this? It’s almost inappropriate, almost indecent.
Tony’s loving every second of it.
But he manages to hide his excitement— if anything good ever came out of having Howard as a father, it was definitely his ability to keep everything inside— as he sticks another note in the glass. He follows Rogers' lead and leaves before the other man sees any of it:
Glad you took my advice. I’d have gone with “You Shook Me All Night Long,” though. :)
He gets absorbed in his lesson again, and doesn’t see the second blue sticky until he’s getting ready to leave for his lunch break. But when he does read it, he wishes he’d waited until the end of the day, because how the fuck is he supposed to get his brain to work again now?
I bet you would have. -Mr. R ;)
Tony feels yet another jolt of desire through him, because now he can’t stop thinking about really shaking Rogers all night long, damn it. All that body sprawled out underneath him-- or on top, Tony’s not picky-- muscles flushed and gleaming as he runs his mouth over them...
He needs to either stop this, or move things forward.
The choice is obvious, Tony thinks gleefully, and leaves his new yellow sticky next to the others:
More than one way to get the blood pumping, remember? And you’re right-- I can go for hours, either way. :)
When he gets back from lunch, he has to hold the urge to squeal when he sees a piece of blue that wasn’t there before:
Okay, I’ve got nothing-- you win! Round one: Mr. Stark. ;)
Tony can’t remember the last time he smiled so hard. He wants to take every single note up there and keep them in his drawer, but no.
He’s going to keep this going.
After that, it becomes sort of a silent rule between the students, that they can look at the notes all they want, but taking them down is off limits. And seeing as Principal Fury hasn’t come in to reprimand them for inappropriate behavior, Tony thinks everyone’s pretty okay with it. Which is great, because the notes keep growing, scattered over the door window in all the gold and blue glory.
And the best part of everything— the absolute best part— is that whatever this is, it quickly grows out of the sticky notes. They start sitting together in the teacher’s lounge when their breaks coincide, sharing whatever lunch they brought with each other. They sneak in a sentence or two during Vice Principal Coulson’s weekly staff meetings, and who’d have thought Steve Rogers would be hiding all that dry wit under plaid and six-pack abs?
There are days when Tony has to hide a grin in the middle of teaching because Steve keeps peeking through the glass with his stupid, attractive face; days when Steve shows him some of his student’s artwork and Tony can only marvel at how great a teacher he is.
(Except that one time, when his class is blessedly quiet for once— he should give them tests more often-- until Steve shows up at the window with two of his students’ painted portraits in hand: one of a long strip of cliffs bordering the sea— ‘Chopin’ labeled in a yellow sticky— and the other with what looked like a hundred different colored splatters, ‘AC/DC’ tacked on in a blue note. Tony has to leave the room so that his laughs don’t disrupt the kids.)
But as fun as this new friendship is, Tony doesn’t forget how it started, and now there's a veritable clutter of all their jabs and jokes and poorly disguised innuendos for all the world to see:
A photon checks into a hotel. The bellhop asks, “Can I help you with your luggage?”
The photon replies: “I don’t have any. I’m traveling light.” - Mr. R ;)
What color combinations are the nicest??? COMPLIMENTARY colors!
What is red and smells like blue paint? Red paint! :P
Two atoms are walking along. One of them says, “Oh no, I think I lost an electron.”
“Are you sure?”
"Yes, I’m positive.” - Mr. R ;)
Why did the picture go to jail? Because it was framed!
(these are horrible, oh my god) :)
I like the mad scientist look you’ve got going on today, Bill Nye! - S ;)
You’re one to talk, grandpa!
P.S. Chopin’s corpse called-- he wants his outfit back! :P
You may want to stop spending so much time with corpses.
Something reeks, and I can smell it through the door! - S ;)
I’m surprised your olfactory senses are still up and running-- sometimes I forget you’re not actually a hundred years old. :)
Says the man with greying temples! - S ;)
Don’t hate just because I rock this look more than you ever will! :)
Keep telling yourself that, you silver fox. Whatever helps you sleep at night... - S ;)
Wouldn’t you like to know? ;)
Really, Tony's pretty sure that bet on when they'll bang is twice as big now.
And he fucking wants in.
The bet, Steve... Everything.
But he has no clue how to get there, and fuck, this is just like Becky Carmichael all over again, back when he was a stupid, prepubescent teen.
Except it's not like that at all.
Because Steve is hot— of course he is, he’s gorgeous as fuck— but he's also the sweetest man Tony's ever met, a great teacher, and such a little shit that Tony’s left trying to catch his breath half the time. Steve's all that and so much more and Tony wants to know everything about him and--
He needs Pepper.
“Pepper, I need you.”
The redhead on the screen rolls her eyes.
“Tony,” she sighs, “I told you last time— the District hasn’t budged over on your proposal to ‘improve’ the school buses so that they look like The Magic School Bus. ‘For science!’ is not an acceptable incentive. And if anything, I'd be Ms. Frizzle, because you may have the brains, but you'd make a horrible ginger.”
“Pepper,” he says again, after he’s let her mouth run its course. “Pep—”
“I'm in trouble.”
“What happened?” she asks immediately. “Do we need to call the lawyers, or the police? Tony, what's wrong? What did you do?”
"I fell in love."
Tony breathes in, and breathes out. “His name is Steve Rogers, he's an art teacher and his class is right next to mine. And don't bother running a background check, I did it as soon as we met. But... god, I’m gonna need you to hear me out, ‘kay Pep? Just— just don’t say anything until I’m done.”
Pepper nods, but looks concerned.
“It started, like, a couple of weeks ago— I can't even remember the day— and it was, I don't know, ass o'clock in the morning or something, and I'm in my room with my kids when I hear Chopin coming from next door and really, who plays Chopin while the sun's still up? So I write a note and stick it on the big door window, y’know, and then he reads it and writes me one back and before you know it, half the door's blue and gold—"
"Wait, Pep, there's more. And then we start talking more outside of class, and in the teacher's lounge— we were like fucking kids at one of Fury's staff meetings, oh my god, and Steve's a sassy little fucker, you wouldn’t believe it. And Jesus, just wait till I show him to you, Pep, he is stunning. But that’s not even... His kids are half in love with him, and he walks around in every class, just, I don't know what he tells them, but he makes them all smile and he... he makes me smile. And just look at this, I'm sending it to you now."
"Tony—" she tries again, but he shakes his head.
"Look at them,” he says, and then Pepper looks down at his picture of some of the notes, and... yep, there it is— he sees the moments she gets it.
"You're so fucked," she breathes. Tony nods but can't look her in the eyes.
Not that he ever needed to.
"What do I do?" he whispers, and shit, when did his voice get so hoarse?
"Ask him to the Christmas party the school’s hosting on Friday.”
“...we’re having a Christmas party?” Tony asks.
“Yes, you are,” Pepper informs him. “Principal Fury talked about it at the staff meeting like, two weeks ago—”
“You don't even go here, how do you know just know these things? Why am I just finding out about this now?”
“I thought you already knew— you work there, Tony, you can’t just ignore—”
“It might’ve been that time Steve was telling me all the dirt Romanoff has about Coulson’s frankly disturbing Captain America shrine—”
“—everything that’s not your science experiments—”
“Pep, at this point, it’s a bit obvious that I’m not ignoring everything—”
“— but... Steve. God, I feel like a fucking teenager,” he says. “I can’t... I can’t go up to him and just ask, Pepper.” His heart skips a beat at the thought.
“No, ask him in one of these sticky note thingies, it’ll be adorable!”
“Adorable isn’t what I’m going for, you know.”
“Is this serious?”
He can only nod.
“Then fucking take a chance. Because the things he’s writing, I'm thinking he’s definitely not indifferent.”
“Wish me luck, then, Pepper-pot,” he says, with more confidence than he actually feels. She just shakes her head and blows him a kiss.
“You don’t need it— you’re Tony fucking Stark. Go get your man.”
After a night of thinking of a good time to do it the next day— like hell he’s going to ask in front of his students, and he will scrap the whole thing before doing it in front of Barton and the others— Tony waits until school’s out.
He knows Steve sometimes stays an hour or two after class, and when Tony peeks through the door... Yep, there he is, as big and blond and beautiful as the first time Tony ever laid eyes on him.
And that’s when he just says fuck it, sticks the note, and knocks before he can talk himself out of it:
You + me + Christmas party = date?
[ ] yes!
[ ] HELL YES!
It’s only when everything’s quiet that Tony realizes he can hear the soft keys of Nocturne No. 2 from the other room, and he almost laughs because of course this would end with Chopin, after everything that’s happened.
But he can’t think of that right now.
Because Steve’s just opened the door.
“So?” Tony asks, and thank god his voice sounds normal, because he sure as hell doesn’t feel it. Should his heart be beating this fast?
Steve just grabs the note and checks both boxes with the pencil he’s holding. Then, he sticks the note on Tony’s forehead.
“Hell yes,” he whispers, and when he grins Tony seriously has to wonder if he’s ever seen anything more perfect.
God, they haven’t even kissed and he’s already fucked.
“I can’t believe we just did this to Chopin, Rogers,” Tony says.
“I can’t believe you just asked me on a date with a sticky note,” Steve shoots back.
“I thought it’d be romantic—”
“It was,” Steve whispers. His face is the most delicious shade of pink. “Mostly.”
“I’ll make it up to you,” Tony says, because they’re alone and the music is kind of romantic, now that he thinks about it, and he really wants to kiss this man.
“I will. Still want to find out if I can shake you all night long?”
“Show me a good time at the party and I’ll let you,” Steve says, and presses his lips to Tony’s.
Barton takes one look at them on Friday and just loses it, the smug bastard. But it’s worth it all just to see him groan in disappointment when Barnes hands the pile of the ‘when-will-Stark-and-Rogers-finally-bang’ pool money to Coulson.
Steve can’t stop blushing through the whole thing. But that’s more than okay, because Tony is happy to distract him with kisses.
Which he does. With pleasure.
Until Romanoff bribes the DJ to play “You Shook Me All Night Long”.
And Tony... well, he just has to pull Steve onto the dance floor for that, rocking their hips together and singing the whole song right into Steve’s ear. And after that, they don’t spend much more time at the party before they sneak out.
Tony does have a promise to keep.