Steve thinks something happened to people's sense of touch in the last seventy years. Most clothes feel wrong, too plasticky.
When SHIELD gives Steve a new undershirt, he's reluctant to touch it. If it's woven out of petroleum like everything else, it won't fit right under the uniform.
This one's different. It clings to his fingers like silk, and to his chest like a second skin. It won't chafe under the weight of a pack, no matter how long he wears it in blistering sun, he can feel that. "What is it?" he asks, but the agent who gives it to him shakes her head.
Steve consults with his backchannel and tries to ignore Tony's whistle as he walks in, like he's one of the chorus girls out on the town in her only pair of stockings. "What is this undershirt made of?" he asks.
"I'm going to need you to take it off for analysis." Like most of Tony's deadpan, it has a smirk and a leer underneath.
He takes his shirt off anyway--it's a little harder than he expected, as if it doesn't want to let him go--and sets it on a table. For once, he doesn't have to ignore the way Tony's looking at him, because he's looking at the shirt, picking it up immediately and running his fingers over it like they're the most delicate sensors in the lab.
"It's organic." Tony puts it on an inset plate that might be a scale or might be anything else.
The worst words are the ones that mean something new on top of their old meaning. "Organic as in no pesticides, or organic as in really long name only Bruce can pronounce?"
Tony taps at his display. "Both, probably."
"Is it expensive?" Steve only set it down a moment ago, but he's already used to how it feels. "I'd like more clothes made out of it, if it's not."
"It's priceless." Tony peers at the screen and whistles. "Literally--even for me."
Tony's smirking again--nothing new there. "Looks like one of the new materials scientists came up with it. Somebody deep in a bunker with nothing to do and nobody to talk to."
Steve has been in enough science bunkers that he has a sense of what they used to cost. He mentally adds a head-spinning number of zeroes. "Never mind, then."
"If you talk to this Parker, he'd probably make you more." Tony flicks his fingers and opens up a display of something Steve recognizes as a really big molecule, rotating slowly. And then Tony's sniggering at him. "Especially if you want it for underwear."
"It's a little too close-fitting for anything else," Steve says, and Tony loses it, laughing outright.
"Tell him that," he says, and closes out the windows like Steve has any chance of figuring out what the spinning molecule means, let alone why it's funny. "Bet he'll make you briefs. Leotards. A red-white-and-blue G-string."
Steve frowns at him. "Why would I want one of those?"
Tony blinks at him, then gives him the smile Steve classifies as "Look who's a big boy now and gets dirty jokes!" "Parker's material--it's biological."
That word means about as much to Steve as "organic." "And?"
"Based off of--" Tony waves his hand and brings the giant molecule back. "Secretions."
"Like--hair? Or silk?"
"Kind of. Sort of. Sort of--no, not really. At all." Tony breaks into a string of biology words, out of which Steve manages to understand "mucus" and "seminal fluid."
Steve would leave the shirt where it's sitting, except Tony's petting it like he wants it and isn't disturbed by its material. "You know people used to use urine to dye clothes, right?" he says, and picks it up.
It clings to his hand, not at all like seminal fluid.
Tony looks a little heartbroken. "Yeah, but that's--you know--" He makes a timeless gesture with his hand. "Seminal fluid?"
"It's comfortable. And that might be sexual harassment." All these new words, but he's getting the hang of some of them. Steve shrugs on the shirt and smooths it down over his stomach. "Where's the materials lab?"
"Subbasement forty-seven C," JARVIS says.
"Why?" Tony asks, his voice hollow.
"I want to go congratulate them on their work," Steve says, and manages not to start laughing until he's in the elevator.