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A Dozen Roses and A Peony

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The only reason Tony is at a flower shop is because he wanted to give Pepper flowers as an apology for going to a meeting with the iron man suit but without him in it. 

He didn’t think about it much, going into a flower shop that had somehow magically appeared across from his tower in his grease stained t-shirt and ratty jeans, it’s not like he was going to meet the love of his life anyways.

The shop is new, tucked in between two buildings, from the front it looked small, but once you stepped inside, it was like walking to a garden that only princesses walked in – it even made Tony feel like a princess -  there was the flower shop at front, it sold flowers that were ready to go, put together strategically to make the flowers even more beautiful. There was something like a cafe at the back, and there was a garden to the right.

Tony must’ve been pretty out of it since there was suddenly a man in front of him, no, there was a gorgeous man in front of him. The man was wearing a light blue button down under an apron, his eyes were as blue as his shirt and his hair reminded Tony of the flowers he had seen near the front.

“Hello, sir,” The man said, smiling, “Do you need any help?”

"Hey, Steve,” Tony said after looking at his name tag.He looked spun around once, trying to figure out what to give Pepper. Flowers weren't hard right? But, Tony wasn’t a man that did things simply. He wanted the flowers to scream Sorry I came to a meeting with board members in the iron man suit without me in it. “I do need help, actually,” Tony said after a moment.

“Is there anything you have I mind?” Steve asked, following Tony around as he looked around at all the flowers.

“Well,” He started, “What do you give a girl that could probably kill you with her high heels?”

“Yikes,” Steve said, laughing a little, “Got the girlfriend mad?”

“Uh, no. She runs my company, it makes her even scarier.”

“Ah, I see,” Steve said, nodding.

Tony ended with a bouquet of red roses. It was beautiful yet deadly, Steve had said. “You could never go wrong with roses.” Steve also said. 

“Anything else?” Steve asked when he was ringing Tony up at the cashier.

“Yeah, this,” Tony said before he even thought about it, he picked up one of the peony’s that was in a bucket at the cashier, handing it to Steve.

“Okay, that’ll be 40 dollars,”

“Here,” Tony said, handing Steve a 50 dollar bill, “Keep the change,”

Steve was going to open his mouth in protest, but Tony was already walking away with the bouquet of roses in his hands.

“Uh, sir!” He heard Steve yell, “You forgot the peony.”

“No, I didn’t!” He shouted back, “It’s for you!”

Tony was out of the door before Steve could reply.

 

-

 

“What was that about?” Bucky chuckled as Steve sat in front of him on one of the comfy couches in the café.

The Howling Commandoes Café & Florist was Steve’s and Bucky’s. With Bucky’s dream of owning a café in New York, and Steve’s love for anything that was beautiful and artistic, being the best of friends like they were, they decided to combine them both.

It wasn’t easy at first, getting a place in this area in Manhattan was hard and expensive, the both of them working double jobs since college to achieve their dreams, but all their hard work had paid off when they managed to pull together the place like it is now.

Finding something different to offer to New York was hard since people were getting more creative everyday. The name of their place helped gaining interest, since when do people name a café and a flower shop after something that sounded like a gang made up in the 40’s?

Besides their name, the interior helped as well. The flower shop was at the front of the store, it had flowers from all shapes and sizes put on display there. Steve was the one who arranged the flowers to make it look interesting, everything was a work of art if you put your mind to it, Steve had always thought. The flower shop was open and fresh, it helped that the roof was made of glass, and it looked exceptionally gorgeous especially in the afternoon.

The cashier was located in the middle of the room, behind it was a fence that had flowers hanging from it. On either side of the cashier was the way to the café. The view wasn’t blocked by a door so when people came in, they could see Bucky behind the counter making all sorts of coffee.

The café was simple and homey. There were numerous photo’s hung on the wall, family portraits, baby pictures, and even embarrassing school pictures of Bucky and Steve. There were also posters and a few of Steve’s painting were hung in there also. It was airy and spacey, bloggers and photographers liked to come and visit, “Ambiance is everything,” Bucky said.

Before the café, there was a glass door that leads to a garden outside. It had a small shed in the back, a little fountain in the middle of the garden and even a swing set. Steve had seen so many Instagram pictures taken at their garden, it made him swoon that a lot of people loved this place as much as he did. 

“He left this,” Steve answered, twirling the peony in his fingers.

“Uh, who?” Bucky asked, confused.

“That guy that just left.”

“The one with the beard and the bouquet of roses?”

“Yeah, him,” Steve answered, dazed, looking at the peony as if it was the first flower he had ever seen.

“Did he leave his number or anything so we can contact him that left his-“

“He said it was for me,”

“Oh,” Bucky said, taken back, “Who the hell buys a flower and then gives it to the guy that works there?”

“He does,” Steve answered simply.

“Um,” Bucky said, “Why is your life becoming a romance movie?”

“What?” Steve asked, finally snapping out of his daydream, “I barely know the guy!”

“Then get to know him,” Bucky simply shrugged, “Look, I’d love to talk more about your crush, but my break is going to end soon.”

After Bucky said that, there was a sound of a bell and a crisp voice that said, “Time’s up, James.”

“In a minute, Tash,” Bucky said to the redhead behind the counter that was watching them intently. “He’ll be back tomorrow. 2 days tops.”

“I doubt it,” Steve said, slumping back further into the chair.

“If he does come back, you got toilet duty for a week,”

Steve, never backing up from a challenge, accepted, “Deal.”

“James,” Natasha said again in the same crisp tone.

“Who does she think she is? Ordering the owner of this fucking place around?” Bucky said, though his tone was fond, “Coming, dear!”

With that, Bucky left Steve to his thoughts on the breathtaking man alone.

 

-

 

Pepper loved the roses.

Tony didn’t see why, of course, roses were all the same to him, but Pepper was happy, so he was pleased.

“Where did you get these, Tony?” Pepper asked, sniffing the roses once again.

“At that new store across the street, The Howling Commandoes?”

“They really do know what they’re doing, these are gorgeous,”

Tony resisted the urge to tell Pepper that the roses weren’t the only things that were gorgeous at that shop.

Tony’s thoughts kept going back to Steve the rest of the day, how he seemed shy at first but next thing he knew, Steve was throwing his sass at Tony.

He didn’t what had gotten into him when he got Steve that flower, though. Who buys a flower for a person that works at a flower shop? Tony had to refrain himself from smacking himself in the face.

It must’ve been Steve’s smile, or the way he blushed when Tony said something inappropriate, whatever it was, Tony knew he couldn’t get enough.

 

-

 

Steve was at the café 2 days after the man with mischievous eyes and contagious grin had visited, Bucky and Steve took turns between the flower shop and the café, even though there was also Natasha and Sam, it wasn’t a job for them – not when their doing something that they love.

Steve was wiping tables when Bucky came sauntering in, a grin on his face, “You get toilet duty for a week.”

Steve looked up to Bucky in confusion, but then he caught the sight of Tony in the flower shop, hands in the pocket of his pants, looking around at all the displays.

“Might want to go there,” Sam piped up from behind him.

“Aren’t supposed to be out front, Sam?” Steve asked, Bucky and Sam were supposed to be at the flower shop on standby, leaving Natasha and Steve back at the café.

“Not when he’s here,” Sam smiled.

Steve sighed like it was a burden to go in front, even though he wanted so desperately to be near the man again.

Steve was already walking towards the flower shop when he turned around abruptly, mouthing “Do I look okay?” to Bucky who grinned and gave him thumbs up.

“There you are,” Tony said by greeting, “I was starting to wonder if I missed your shift. Though I didn’t mind your metal friend either.”

“Uh, I own this place so I’m here 24/7,” Steve supplied, a small part of him hoped that Tony visited more often now that he knew Steve was going to be here all the time. “So, who you managed to piss off this time?”

Tony laughed and wasn’t that such an amazing sound to hear? “No one, actually, you’d be surprised since I tend to piss a lot of people off,”

“Oh? I didn’t know that ” Steve asked sarcastically, earning a shove from Tony.

“Disrespectful,” Tony said, even though he was smiling. “I’m Tony, by the way,”

Steve pointed to the name tag on his chest, “Steve,”

Tony rolled his eyes, chuckling, “So because you’re the owner of this place, could you, I don’t know, take a break and have coffee with me?”

Steve refrained himself from biting his lip and twirling his hair like a teenager getting asked to prom, instead he gave Tony a smile and a nod, “Sure,”

“Great!” Tony said, grinning from ear to ear, “Let’s just go find a café- Oh, look! You have a café,”

Steve laughed – he did that a lot didn’t he when he was around Tony, but he couldn’t bring himself to care, “Come on, I’ll intrude you to my friends,”

Steve led Tony to the café, which wasn’t that packed since it was in the afternoon on a Wednesday, their presence was known by Bucky, Natasha and Sam who all had a knowing smile.

Steve turned around to look at Tony who had been silent for the past few minutes, looking at the place with pure interest. After a moment, he spoke up, “You did a really good job at this place,”

“Thanks,” Steve said, smiling proudly, “Uh, Tony this is Bucky, I’ve known him since I was little and he is also the owner of the shop,”

Bucky grinned as they shook hands though Tony looked more interested in his metal arm than Bucky himself, “Nice to meet you,”

“Yeah, you too,” Tony said back, though he looked like he was distracted, “Hey, you should drop by across the street, give me a look at this arm, promise I’ll make it ten times better,”

Bucky said “Uh, okay, thanks?” at the exact moment Steve said, “You’re a mechanic?”

“Sort of,” Tony shrugged simply.

Steve decided he would get to know Tony later over coffee instead of interrogating him in front of his friends, “This is Sam, he usually runs the flower shop with me, but he pitches in with the café too,”

“What can I say? I’m a gifted man,” Sam said as he shook hands with Tony.

When Steve was about to introduce Natasha who was behind the counter, she was already speaking in the same crisp tone she always uses, though Steve could see the tiniest smile on her face, “Natasha Romanov,”

Tony was silent for a moment, observing Natasha before he blurted, “You’d get along with my friend Pepper, she’s also scary.”

“Bring her in sometimes,” Natasha replied.

Tony nodded, grinning. 

When Steve lead Tony to a table that was far back in the corner, far enough to make sure that his friends wouldn’t be eavesdropping, he asked Tony, “So what would you like?”

“Ah, you’re my waiter today?” Tony asked, eyeing the menu, after a while he simply closed the menu and leaned back into his chair, grinning at Steve, “Surprise me,” 

Steve made his way to the counter to Bucky who was grinning like a madman. When Steve got in behind the counter with Bucky, Natasha was also there, watching him from the kitchen through the separation window.

“It feels like watching your child getting married,” Bucky said, pretending to wipe his nonexistent tears.

“Shut up, I’m the same age as you,” Steve laughed, punching Bucky’s shoulder good-naturedly.

“So, what did he order?” Bucky said, preparing to make drinks.

“He said he wanted to be surprised,” Steve shrugged, leaning against the counter to look at Tony who was taking an interest in Steve’s drawing that was hung above his head.

Bucky casted a look at Natasha, who simply nodded and went back into the kitchen, beginning to cook, as Bucky began pulling ingredients for the drink he was making.

“I could help-“

“No,” Bucky said, swatting Steve’s hand away, “Go there and sit with him, Punk.”

“You sure?” Steve asked even though he was already making his way out of the counter to Tony.

Bucky rolled his eyes, “Go, or you’ll be on toilet duty for 2 weeks,”

Steve grinned, “Thanks, Buck,”

 

-

 

Steve’s friend with the metal arm – Bucky – came over to them with a drink in his hands and also food, when Tony asked what it was, he simply said, “We call it the big guns,”

The Big Guns was actually just a lasagna and a cup of hazelnut coffee, the lasagna recipe goes way back, Steve had said, it was passed on to generation to generation in Bucky’s family. The hazelnut coffee, which was unlike any other coffee Tony had tasted – and he had tasted a lot – was amazing. Bucky came up with it when he was drunk, Steve supplied when Tony started to babble about how the coffee was basically coffee made straight from heaven.

“Where did you get this?” Tony asked through a mouthful of lasagna, pointing at a drawing of a woman doing dishes by the sink.

It was beautifully done, Tony could tell that this woman meant something to the artist like it was a picture the artist had saved into their mind and then put on canvas.

“Uh, I drew it, actually,” Steve answered, scratching the back of his neck in embarrassment.

Tony’s eyebrows went up and his brown eyes went wide, “You drew this?”

“I’m no Picasso or anything but-“

“Damn, you’re good.”

“Oh, Thanks, Tony.” Steve murmured, looking down at his lap, cheeks tinted pink.

“Is there anything else that you do that I don’t know of?” Tony asked, curious. There was something about Steve that was different, a good kind of different, the kind of different that leaves Tony breathless and wanting more.

“I’ll tell you something if you tell me something about yourself in return,” Steve said, taking a sip from his chamomile tea.

“Shoot,”

“Well, I used to be real skinny and sickly,” Steve said.

Tony laughed, “Yeah, right. Good one.”

“No, really,” Steve was grinning along, then he pointed at a picture of a skinny blond guy who had his arm slung around Bucky’s shoulder, smiling at the camera, “That’s me,”

“No way,” Tony said, shocked, “What the fuck happened to you?”

“I worked out,” Steve shrugged, “Late growth spurt too, I guess. Now tell me something about you,”

“I like science and engines,” Tony stated.

And so it went on, Tony told Steve that he owned Stark Industries across the street, which didn’t seem to faze Steve at all that he owned a multi-billion dollar company, and god, Tony might be a little in love.

Steve told him about how he and Bucky wanted to have this business since they were kids, Tony told him how he took over Stark Industries when he was only a kid. Steve told Tony about his friends here, and Tony spoke to Steve about Pepper and Rhodey.

It went on and on, both men hadn’t realized that it had gone dark since Tony visited, both comfortable enough to forget that time had slipped.

They decided to call it a day when Tony remembered he had still stuff to do back home, Tony said bye to Bucky, Natasha and Sam, and next thing he knew, Steve was walking with him out of the shop.

“Wait,” Tony said, taking a dandelion and handing it to Steve, “How much is this?”

Steve eyed him dubiously, “2 dollars.”

“Here,” Tony said, giving him the exact amount, since he figured he wouldn’t be able to get away from Steve handing the change in his hands if he had paid more than 2 dollars since they were pretty close.

“For Pepper?” Steve asked, excepting the money and handing the dandelion to Tony who waved him off.

“No,” He said, inching towards the door, “It’s for you.”

“Wait- Tony!” Steve called, hands outstretched to give the flower to Tony.

“See you soon!” Tony shouted and he was out of the door.

 

-

 

It started to become a thing.

Tony would visit, and he’d go find Steve and they’d talk. At the garden, the flower shop, the café, they talked endlessly.

They had a lot of differences, but their banter was always rich and comfortable. It made things better, actually, Tony saw things differently now with Steve and they challenge each other for the better, Steve grounds him in a way Tony never thought that anyone could.

Tony’s days now went like this; no matter how busy he was at work, or how many projects he had waiting for him at home, he always manages to spare some time with Steve, and by the end of it, he buys a flower only to leave Steve with the flower.

Tony’s used to Pepper’s knowing looks, he’s used to Rhodey’s teasing about his crush over the phone, he’s used to Sam listening to music around the café, he’s used to Natasha making the sweetest pie he has ever tasted, he’s used to Bucky’s teasing and jokes, hell, he’s used to how they manage the place, he sometimes even steps in to help when there’s a particularly busy day, he’s basically pretty used to what to the shop and what comes along with it. But this, Tony knows he’s never going used to Steve.

Steve, warm beside him as they talk on the couch at the café, music flowing through the speakers at half past midnight. Steve, smiling at him even though all Tony did was breath. Steve, laughing at his jokes and his antics purely intended for him. Steve sketching as Tony works on a project on his tablet, they sit in silence, comforted by each other’s presence. Steve, learning to make Tony’s perfect cup of coffee and in return, Tony asks Bucky to teach him how to make Steve tea just the way he likes it.

Steve, grounding him and challenging him, and just like that, Tony knows he’s in love.

Tony catches himself staring at Steve when he’s doing simple things: drawing, making a cup of coffee, cleaning a table, and rearranging the flowers. Tony loves the shadows Steve’s eyelashes cast and the furrow Steve’s gets between his brow, and Steve always get nervous when he catches Tony staring, he always asks, “Is there something wrong?” and Steve always straighten his posture, runs his hands through his hair, runs his tongue across his teeth, but there’s not. Tony’s seen him 2 am crossfaded, 3 am crying jags, 5 am no coffee, 7 am after a long run. Steve always looks beautiful, like he’s made of the sun.

He’s in love and he knows it.

 

-

You see, there wasn’t an exact moment where Steve fell in love with Tony, but there was a moment of realization that he already had.

Since Tony came into that shop and bought him that peony, his friends wouldn’t stop teasing him about it. Sometimes, they did it in front of Tony himself, Tony would only chuckle and get back to his latest project on his tablet and Steve would scowl and say “Can it,”

The teasing went on and on until it got to the point if they teased him, he would just ignore them.

But that was before he actually fell in love with Tony.

It must’ve been the way Tony smiles and laughs at his jokes, must’ve been the way he found himself smiling every time Tony came, must’ve been the way Tony is warm beside him, must’ve been the way Steve felt like he was on fire every time Tony casually touched him, must’ve been the way Tony acts like he doesn’t have a care in this world, though Steve knows he a person who cares deeply for others – like that time Bucky came home to an improved hand, and for the fist time he could feel Natasha’s hand as she intertwined their fingers together, or that time Tony fixed Sam’s iPod, and that time Tony bought a tea set for Natasha from Russia. Steve even once found Tony talking to an elderly person after lunch hours.

The man is simply breathtaking and magnetic.

And friends, is what they are. So if being friends with Tony is all that he could get, he’ll take it, because if one day he wakes up in a new world, he’s not sure if he’s going to find another Tony.

Being friends with Tony is great, Tony hangs around the place and helps around, sometimes he joins Steve as he paints in the shed, the only sound in the room is Tony’s tapping on his tablet and the sound of water as Steve cleans his brushes.

But what Steve loves about being friends with Tony – besides the fact that he actually loves Tony – is the late night talks.

Their late night talks are always open and vulnerable and Steve felt like he knew Tony more because of these late night talks.

Sometimes Tony would come visit after they close, and Steve would either be sketching or wiping down a table, but he always stops what he was doing when Tony comes late at night. They take turns in getting each other drinks, and after Tony is sitting comfortably next to him on one of the café’s couches, they start talking.

They talk with depth, with emotion and Steve sometimes find parts of him in Tony despite their differences.

Sometimes, they talk about nothing. Well, at least for Steve they meant something because he is talking nothing with someone that means something.

And Steve knows that he didn’t have to.

Steve knows he didn’t have to make Tony his moon and his stars, but Steve can’t think of a reason not to.

So what if Steve discovers more about himself while discovering Tony?

No one had to know Steve pines quietly.

 

-

 

Bucky knew.

Bucky probably knew even before Steve realized he had fallen for Tony.

It happened like this:

Tony walks in the shop looking tired, there are dark circles under his eyes – Steve figures he probably spent too much time in his workshop. He comes up to the counter where Steve is on duty, and wordlessly, Steve is already making coffee and handing it to Tony.

Steve could feel himself smiling as he watched Tony, chuckling when he bumped a few tables to go sit at the spot in the corner like he always does.

Without even glancing up from the cash register, Bucky said, “Your crush is getting pathetic,”

Steve was so taken back, his eyes went wide. He wasn’t that obvious.

Or was he?

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Buck,” Steve replied, pretending to brush aside the subject like it was nothing.

Bucky scoffed, “Come on, I think you have brains enough to know about your crush for Mr. I can’t function properly without a cup of coffee first.”

“I do not have a crush on Tony,”

Bucky turned around to look at him as he pretended to gasp, “Oh, no! Don’t tell me, Steve, is it, love?”

Steve rolled his eyes at Bucky, nudging him with his shoulder, “Leave it, jerk,”

“No, not until you get together,”

“Look, like you said, it’s pathetic okay? Just forget about it,”

Bucky frowned at him, “Aw, come on, Stevie, have a little faith. I’ll help you.” 

“And how are you supposed to help me?” Steve couldn’t help but laugh fondly at Bucky, Bucky himself had taken 2 years to finally ask Natasha out.

“I’ll figure out something. Maybe watch some videos of people asking people out on Youtube, who knows.” Bucky shrugged.

Steve threw a rag at Bucky in response.  

 

-

 

Tony doesn’t know what to think or how to think.

There’s only this longing for Steve, which is uncontrollable, frightening and quite useless.

He would be making repairs down on his workshop and he wishes he was at The Howling Commandoes, wiping tables with Steve. He would be sitting at a meeting with the board and he wishes he would be organizing flowers with Steve, learning to make coffee other than the plain black coffee he used to drink with Bucky, helping Sam serve the food as Natasha cooks.

But he comes at least 4 times a week, sometimes he comes everyday, but Steve is here now, close, and somehow Tony is longing for him.

Because Steve looks so beautiful while he’s laughing, his eyes crinkled at the corners and Tony longs to hold him and kiss him and never let him go.

Tony has learned a lot from loving Steve, and Tony has learned that people don’t make stories about love fully.

They always talk about how nice it is, how it feels when that particular person looks at you and isn’t that funny? There are billions of people on this planet and Tony is just content with one – how it feels to win them over, to hold them, kiss them, and love them.

They talk about grand gestures, they talk about great background stories, and mostly, they talk about forever.

They don’t talk about nights full of uncertainty, they don’t talk about the late night wishing, and they don’t talk about the pain of knowing that no matter how desperately you want to, you can’t force things.

Tony also learned that loving Steve is none like others.

Sometimes, Tony thinks of the way he loves Steve.

Sometimes, Tony could muster  a thousand words of adoration.

Sometimes, Tony could only think, “I love you, and that’s that,”

Tony loves Steve simply yet extraordinarily.

 

-

 

“Hey, check this out,” Bucky said, taking a seat in front of Tony in his usual spot at the corner of the café.

Tony hummed in answer, putting his tablet away and looked at Bucky as he began scrolling on his Dell. A dell. If Tony weren’t curious of what’s Bucky going to show him, he would’ve just thrown the dell at the nearest window. Bucky’s been friends with Tony for quite some time and he has the audacity to use a dell in front of him?

As Tony waits for Bucky to show him whatever it was Bucky was going to show, his eyes scanned the room for Steve. He wasn’t on his lunch break, that ended 20 minutes ago, and he wasn’t in the café either, so Tony turns around in his seat to find Steve helping and old lady pick flowers. Tony’s heart swelled at the sight, he felt like he could’ve proposed to Steve at that moment.

Well, maybe he should take him on a date first.

“I did some research,” Bucky finally said, snapping Tony out of his thoughts. He handed the laptop over to Tony, “I didn’t discover a new element, but it’s close,”

Tony squinted more and more as he read the words on the laptop screen, “Why am I reading an article about-“ Tony squinted even more, “Cute date ideas?”

“Don’t give me that tone,” Bucky reached over the table to poke Tony on the chest, “I searched for dates ideas for you and Steve,”

“And you think apple picking is a good choice for me and Steve because?” Tony asked, after pausing for a moment Tony asked again, “How did you know I like Steve?”

Bucky dramatically flipped a few locks from his face, “You make it seem like I’m talking a bunch of kids on a trip,” he shrugged, “You’re not really subtle, so,”

“At least give me one good reason why you think it’s a good idea,” Tony sighed.

Tony understands that Bucky is Steve’s best friend, he should take his advice, but really, apple picking?

“I could give you two,” Bucky wriggled his eyebrows for dramatic effect, “Flannel and frolicking in the leaves,”

“Have you been watching romantic films?”

Bucky kicked Tony’s leg from under the table, taking the laptop from Tony and began scrolling again, “I get it, you want the date to be even more special than apple picking,”

“If there is a date,” Tony pointed out, even though the thought of having a date with Steve – an actual date, not here at the café – made his heart beat a little faster.

Bucky scoffed, “Indulge me,”

It was another minute before Bucky handed the laptop back to Tony, it was another minute later after Tony read the title and put his head on his hands, “Why would you think I would go bird watching? No, wait, why would you think Steve would go bird watching?”

Bucky simply shrugged, “If it gets boring, you can just have sex,”

“Huh,” Tony said after a moment, “That doesn’t sound so bad,”

Bucky took the laptop back from Tony’s hand once again, “I have another option, here, A flamenco dancing class,”

Tony pinched the bridge of his nose, “A flamenco dancing class,”

Bucky nodded, “It’s more erotic than square dancing,”

Tony looked at Bucky long and hard, the long haired man simply smiled, un disturbed, “You’re actually serious aren’t you?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I don’t know, it’s not everyday someone offers you to go a bird watching flamenco dance session,”

“Hey, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea,” Bucky said, making notes on his laptop. 

 

-

 

“Hey, you okay?” Tony asked, voice filled with concern as Steve spaces out on one of the café’s long couches.

“Yeah, yeah, just-“ Steve cuts himself off because he didn’t feel like he needed to lie to Tony, “Just thinking of back before,”

Tony doesn’t need to ask because he understands, he understand that there are days when Steve thoughts go back to when he was in the military, he remembers watching people die, the sound of explosives, and then suddenly is kneeling in front of him, a cup of chamomile tea in his hands – Steve didn’t even notice that Tony had gotten up to make it – he’s looking at him with a soft expression, nudging the cup of coffee into Steve’s hands.

“Thank you,” Steve murmured, taking a minute to warm his hands on the cup before actually drinking it.

“You’re welcome,” Tony replied, taking a seat next to him again.

There was a moment of silence before Tony said, “You’re shaking,”

Steve opened his eyes and he didn’t even know they were closed, just like Tony said, he was shaking. His tea was vibrating because his fingers couldn’t stop shaking.

A calloused hand wrapped itself around Steve’s wrist, Tony’s thumb rubbing circles in reassurance and he found himself going slack in Tony’s hands.

Steve knew that Tony is doing this because he’s a friend that Tony’s been on the other end of it, he doesn’t get his hopes up or anything. He was too exhausted to do anything than just letting Tony do what he’s doing instead of doing something stupid like maybe kiss Tony.

“Tony?” He said, and if his voice wavered a bit, Tony didn’t say anything.

Tony hummed, still running circles with his thumb right by Steve’s pulse point.

“Can you talk?”

Tony chuckled, “About what?”

“Anything,”

Tony started talking after that, his voice soft and lovely, making all of the tension in Steve go away slowly.

He talked about light and happiness and Steve wished that those were the only emotions that Tony could ever feel.

He doesn’t talk about how his father never quite figured out how to hug him, or that the mornings never smelled like pancakes, that summer meant finding new places to hide and how he was afraid of darkness.

Steve preferred the former, really.

But falling in love means accepting all the good and the bad, and maybe for Steve it happened late at night when the café was empty.

During those hours, Tony’s hand wrapped around his wrist, he felt alive. 

 

-

 

“Hey, I found something,” Bucky said gleefully as Steve was watering some of the flowers.

Without glancing away from the flowers, Steve said, “What?”

Bucky holds his new Stark tablet in front of Steve’s face, “I think you and Tony should get lost in a corn field maze,”

“A corn field maze,” Steve repeated, resisting the urge to spray Bucky’s face with the water bottle he was holding.

“I got the idea from Marie Claire magazine,”

“Why,”

“Because,” Bucky started as if Steve was the dumbest person ever for not getting his point, “It might take two hours for you guys to find your way through but who cares! After you get out, warm him up with a cup of coffee and some cuddling,”

“Or I could just give him coffee and cuddle with him without getting lost in a cornfield,”

Bucky had the nerve to laugh at him, “You’d probably just sweat and drop the coffee,”

“I give him coffee plenty of times,” Steve frowned.

“Sure, but you don’t have any other intentions than to do that and pine. You’d never given him coffee with the intention of cuddling him,”

“But I want to,” Steve muttered, defeated.

“Then you do go something. Since you’re not, I’m going to save you,” Bucky grinned again, scrolling through his laptop, “Hit up a karaoke bar,”

“I can’t sing,”

Bucky winced as he remembered Steve’s off tuned voice, “Yikes, can’t have him running for help on the first date, can’t we?”

This time, Steve actually sprays Bucky’s face with his water bottle.

 

-

 

Since Tony was young, he was taught that life was hard and love was easy.

But love, real love, true love, is exhausting and hard work.

Yet it’s all Tony wanted to do because of Steve.

Tony wants a life with Steve, is what he’s saying. He wants more. 

People see Tony and they see genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist. They don’t see the man who buys a bouquet of peonies at Steve’s flower shop, only to leave Steve with the bouquet.

Steve had the ability to make Tony stutter, to make Tony question himself as he buys another bouquet of flowers for Steve, nervous that Steve wouldn’t take it, Steve had the ability to make Tony weak in the knees, Tony would probably do anything for him and wasn’t that scary?

Tony gets chills when he looks at Steve in the eye.

And it’s clear that they on a certain level, belong together. At least it’s clear for Tony.

They work, they understood each other under the strangest circumstances and he makes Tony feel alive.

Tony doesn’t know if it made him believe in coincidence, fate, sheer blind luck, but it definitely made him believe in something.

 

-

 

“You’re moping,” Sam acknowledged, poking Steve in the ribs.

 “Am not,” Steve huffed, crossing his arms.

 “You’re not fooling anyone, Stevie,” Bucky piped up as he went past Steve and Sam with a tray of food in his hands.

 “Cut the chatter,” Steve said, from behind the cashier.

 “Tony’s hasn’t come in like, 2 days?” Bucky said after he served the customers.

 “You’ve got it bad, Rogers,” Sam pointed out.

 “He’s a busy man, okay,” Steve said, defensively. Then much more quitter her said, “2 days? It felt longer,”

 “Ha!” Sam said rather loudly from his place at the front of the shop, Bucky laughed along.

 Later in the café after they had closed, all of them in their seats as they ate lasagna, she asked, “I set you up with gorgeous people I know and you want a guy who buys flowers from here only to give it back to you?”

“I like the way I vibe around him,” Steve simply shrugged.

“God, you’re like a walking romantic movie,” Bucky pretended to gag, “What he means by vibe is basically brunette, snarky, intelligent, a softie at heart and can scare the shit out of Steve,”

“Sounds terrifying,” Natasha replied dryly.

Steve finds it endearing though,” Bucky said, then yelped as Steve kicked him under the table.

“How long has this been going on though?” Sam asked as he laughed.

Bucky answered “Forever,” at the same time Steve said, “A while,”

Steve scowled at Bucky who only grinned, Sam piped up again, “When are you going to make a move, lover boy?”

Steve answered, “Not in the near future,” the same time as Bucky said, “Soon,”

Sam laughed even harder, “So who’s in love with Stark again?”

Bucky pointed at Steve, “Him,” and then he pointed at himself, “I’m just the amazing wingman who’s taken by this lady,” Bucky pointed to Natasha who smiled.

“Wingman?” Steve chuckled, “All you ever do is show me articles on cute date ideas,”

“Hey!” Bucky glared, “At least I’m doing something,”

“I- I do a lot of things,” Steve said though he didn’t sound so sure.

“Those things including staring longingly at Tony and hoping that some miracle happens and next thing you know, you’re waking up next to him?” Bucky asked, batting his eyelashes innocently.

“I do not do that,” Steve poked his finger in the middle of Bucky’s chest, “At least I don’t recommend going apple picking as a first date,”

Sam laughed, shaking his head, “If Steve is being unreasonable, why don’t you just tell Tony about how he feels,”

“Do not even think about it, Buck,” Steve warned.

Bucky pouted, “There’s no fun in this if I tell Tony right away. Pining Steve is a like a watching a romantic comedy. Don’t tell me it doesn’t amuse you,”

Sam nodded, agreeing, “Send me those cute date articles, Barnes,”

Steve groaned, putting his head on his hands as Bucky practically ran to get his tablet.

 

-

 

“Stop looking at me like that,” Tony said, shoving Steve lightly by the shoulder as he sprayed the flowers with water.

Steve had been looking at Tony who was seriously spraying the plants, and couldn’t help the small smile that appeared on his lips, watching the other man softly and lovingly.

“What do you mean?” Steve found himself saying, “I always look at you like that,”

For a moment, Tony looked taken back, his doe eyes filled with hope, “Oh, I, uh-“

It’s not everyday Steve made Tony Stark speechless and fumbling with the water bottle in his hands, and Steve badly wants to grab him by the throat, not to choke him, just kissed Tony so deep he forgot who’s air he was breathing.

Steve would blame it on the lack of sleep, or maybe loving Tony just leaves him so wild that he couldn’t stop himself for saying “Goddamn, I love you,”

It was a quiet day here, no one was at the flower shop, so Tony’s sharp inhale could be heard by Steve.

Tony’s reaction, wasn’t quite was Steve expected, from the way he found Tony lingering closely to Steve, or how he looked at Steve when he thought Steve wasn’t looking, to the way Tony smiled at him, he sure didn’t expect this.

When Steve told Tony he loved him, he looked harder for truths like hidden words or pulse patterns. As if he doesn’t believe the words that fell out of Steve’s mouth. Steve wonders if he will get over this need to prove that these feelings and his love is real and how Tony puts Steve in a daze and he does love him. 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-“

“I need to go,” Tony said, frantic. This time, he left without a flower.

Later that night, Bucky asked him what happened, and when Steve told him, Bucky tries to cheer him up, coming up with crazy date ideas he should ask Tony when he comes back, but Steve brushes him off, saying, “Look, Buck, I can't continue to kiss the ground he walks on hoping one day he’ll backtrack the path and get a fucking clue,”

 

-

 

Tony hadn’t meant to walk away.

He panicked, and he could feel himself shaking once the words left Steve’s lips that he has dreamt of kissing since that day he pissed of Pepper and the entire board member, and he knows, he knows he should’ve said “I love you, too, idiot,” and kiss him stupid but since when does Tony’s plan ever go as planned? 

Tony does love Steve, he does so badly but contrary to popular belief, Tony doesn’t know all of the right things to say.

Saying “I need to go,” when someone just told you they love is one of the examples.

If Tony could, he’d pressed rewind to the exact moment Steve said those words, and then he’d say, “You know, I’m not an easy person to love, so loving is just as tricky. I never learned how to do it quite right. But you, for you I’ll work over time. I’ll study all night. Sometimes I’m a black hole, but you stay and you say you love me and I have never loved you more. Yes, I love you too. I’ll love you at all hours of the night.”

But since he time travel hasn’t been invented – yet – Tony settled for the next best choice.

“This better be good,” Bucky said by the third ring.

“It will, at least, I hope, but, I'll need your help,”

 

-

 

When Bucky texts him the next day to come in at night, he doesn’t think much of it. It isn’t the first time they’ve done this, usually they split shifts, but when one of them has something to do, the other would gladly cover for them when they can’t be at work during some time of the day.

But when he comes in at 6 pm to find the shop with the sign “closed” that’s when he started to get suspicious.

“Uh,” Steve said out loud when he got in, the flower shop was dimly lit, candles around it, and Sam was behind the cashier, head bopping along the music that was playing through all of the speakers.

“Hey, man, there you are,” Sam said, standing up to walk over to Steve, clapping him on the back.

“Are we burning all the flowers?” Steve asked as he took in his surroundings.

“Hopefully not,” Sam chuckled, ushering Steve to go into the café.

Steve let out a small gasp as he was met with the sight in front of him.

All of the café’s tables and chairs were pushed away to corner of the room, so that it was empty beside the one table in the middle of the room, Tony sitting on one of the two chairs.

Bucky was peeping through the hole in the wall from the kitchen with Natasha, and when he caught Steve’s eye, he smiled and gave him a thumbs up.

Tony immediately stood when saw Steve in the café, he wasn’t dressed in a suit or anything despite the café looking like it came straight of a movie with the dimmed lights, flowers and candles all around the room.

Steve turned to his right to find Sam gone, he didn’t walk to Tony though, and he stayed glued to where he was standing because his knees felt weak. 

He didn’t expect this at all.

When Tony had left after Steve told him he loved him, Steve thought that that was the end of it. There wasn’t going to Tony’s sweet smile, no late night talks, no Tony at all.

But here Tony was, looking anxious as he inched closer towards Steve, “Uh, I’d like to apologize for turning your place into this, but I already got permission from the other owner, so-“

Steve looked to Bucky again, who waved. “I don’t know what to say,”

“Say yes to dinner with me,”

Steve wordlessly began to walk closer to the table that had already had food and drink on it, a peony was put on Steve’s side of the table and he a surge of hope inside of him again.

“Just so you know, I’m not doing this because I feel sorry for you or anything- I mean, I am sorry that I left, I panicked, okay? But, this-“ Tony said gesturing to the whole set up, “This is something I should’ve done sooner,”

“It’s fine,” Steve said, taking a napkin and placing it on his lap, “You don’t owe me anything,”

“I don’t” Tony agreed, “I just wanted to do this for you,”

With that, Steve began to relax, the comfortable feeling with Tony was back again, clearing his throat he asked, “So, how’d you managed to pull this off?”

Steve swore he saw Tony let out an exhale, shoulders relaxing as he gave Steve an easy smile, “I called Bucky for help. All of his researching really did pay off,”

“He showed you the articles too?” Steve groaned.

“Yeah,” Tony smiled, “He said that this was whole idea was an original though, said he was going to make a blog of his own.”

Steve chuckled, shaking his head, “I do like it, I’ll give that to him,”

Tony grinned, “Shall we eat now?”

They ended up eating Natasha’s dish, and Bucky came out to serve them wine as the night went on, both men happy with the meal, wine, and the company.

After Tony’s coaxing and Natasha’s threat from the kitchen, they were now slow dancing to a song that Sam chose in the middle of the room, swaying to the tune of the music.

“I am really sorry about yesterday,” Tony said, looking up into Steve’s eyes.

Steve squeezed Tony’s waist briefly, “It’s okay, Tony-“

“I don’t think you understand. I know you’re probably wondering when I’m going to bolt out – which again, I’m sorry, but I panicked, okay? I wasn’t expecting that, but you should now, that I love you too,”

“Tony-“

“I sometimes wake up at 6 am today made entirely of flaws and love for you,”

Steve’s heart started beating faster at Tony’s words, as he was going to speak, Tony was already cutting him off.

“Remember that time I walked in here with a soaked t-shirt and jeans?”

“I do,” Steve said, chuckling as he remembered that particular day.

“Well, just so you know, I don’t walk through the rain for everyone,” Tony stated, “So please know that when I love you, I love you. Don’t see it as me being sorry for you or me saying these words in crude remarks or a changing heart. I just really fucking love you.”

Steve kissed them then, softly, but he felt like was on fire like love was exploding through Tony’s lip as he kissed Steve back, deeper, making Steve forget who’s air he was breathing.

Steve kissed him again and wonders how he could’ve gone this long without kissing Tony, it was like Steve’s lungs was filled with the sweetest air possible, and yet, he was still left breathless.

“Should’ve done this months ago,” Tony murmured, stroking Steve’s cheek with his finger.

“I-“ Steve’s words were cut off as they heard Bucky yell in triumph, both of them turning around to see Natasha jabbing Bucky in the ribs.

“Told you my idea was better than any article on cute date ideas,” Bucky said.

Steve laughed, he didn’t disagree with Bucky as he pulled Tony closer to him, kissing him soundly on the lips.