The first thing that Steve hears when he gets to Tony's house is, “Fuck Obadiah Stane. Seriously, fuck him. Trying to take my goddamn company away from me, saying I'm 'unfit' to run it—trying to call me an alcoholic, for fuck's sake! I'm twenty-two! I haven't had enough time to become an alcoholic, with the way my life's fucking been!”
“Well, you're never becoming an alcoholic, not on my watch,” Steve says, frowning at his boyfriend, who turns around with a glare on his face, his face softening when he sees Steve. “Hi, Rhodey, Pepper.”
“Welcome home, and thank you for your support, Steve, but really, I have to get back to ranting,” Tony says, turning away, but Steve steps in front of him for a quick kiss. When he pulls away, Tony sighs. “You smell like pizza. His gaze falls to Rhodey. “Hey, Rhodey—“
“I don't have money to buy you a pizza, Tony,” Rhodey replies dryly, giving him a look that's half amused, half annoyed. “I'm not sure I would if I could, honestly. You've been mooching a lot lately.”
Tony frowns and looks at Pepper. “Pepper, Pep, my favorite redhead, uh, who is allergic to cherries—“
Rhodey snorts and Pepper looks completely exasperated as she corrects him. “Strawberries, Tony. I'm allergic to strawberries. And I'm not buying you a pizza. But I would lend you twenty dollars to go towards some actual groceries.” She raises both of her eyebrows at him, pointing out that he really needs to go buy some actual groceries.
Steve agrees. Tony used to get his groceries delivered to him, but since he got cut off from his inheritance—he only gets that if he's running the company at the time, and he'll finally get full access to the company funds if he's been running the place for a year—he hasn't been able to afford his usually lavish lifestyle. Steve's used to not having very much money, to needing to work, but Tony... not so much.
“But I don't want 'actual groceries.' I want pizza,” Tony whines, and Steve shakes his head with a smile, beginning to leave the room, so he can shower and get the scent of Domino's off his skin.
When he comes back, Tony's sitting between Pepper and Rhodey. Pepper, who has her legs crossed and a look of sympathy on her face, while Rhodey has more of a supportive expression, a hand gripping Tony's shoulder. Steve feels like he just walked into an intimate moment between the three friends, and begins to turn and leave, but Tony spots him. “Hey, Steve, uh—where are you going?”
Steve changed course again. “Nowhere,” he answers, standing a bit awkwardly. “It just looked like you three were talking.”
Rhodey takes his hand from Tony's shoulder. “Nah, we were just leaving,” he assures Steve, standing.
Pepper follows, straightening out her skirt and smiling at Steve. “Bye, you two,” she says, holding out her hand for Tony. Tony takes it, squeezing it affectionately as she begins to pass him, letting go only as she walks out of his reach. “Take care, Tony,” she adds, giving him a pointed look.
Rhodey gives him one that was near identical to Pepper's, making Steve a bit curious as to what they were discussing. “Later, man,” Rhodey says, and Tony just says, “Yeah,” watching as his two best friends leave. The door sounds loud when it's shut, in contrast to such a quiet apartment; and it's odd, for Steve, to come over and find it this quiet. Usually, there's music playing, or the TV is on, or people are laughing.
But, the death of Tony's parents hit him a lot harder than he likes to admit. Steve knows—of course he knows, Tony's his boyfriend and has been since high school. Steve knows him and his parents were never close, but it would hurt anyone to lose their parents so quickly, and in such a tragic way. Steve just wishes he would talk about it more, because he's still no closer to dealing with it properly, and it's been a year.
“So, uh, I asked Rhodey if I could move into his place. Pepper, too, after he said no. She rejected me too.” He's avoiding Steve's eye, lounging back on the couch in faux nonchalance. “It was funny, they, um, they actually suggested that, uh, that we move in with each other.” He swallows, finally looking at Steve again. “Ridiculous, right?”
Steve furrows his brow. “Why would that be ridiculous?” he asks, genuinely confused. “I mean—I would love to move in together.” Of course I would, he doesn't add. We've been dating for three years and I love you, you idiot.
Tony looks almost shocked. “Seriously? I don't have any money, you know. This thing with Stane is taking a lot longer than I expected. It could take way longer. I'll probably get my company back, I mean, it is Stark Industries, but you never know—“
“Tony,” Steve interrupts, giving a reassuring smile to a rather scared looking Tony. “I'm serious. You can move in with me. You don't even have to work, you can just concentrate on sorting all of this out with Stark Industries and Stane.”
Tony looks almost suspicious, and it makes Steve's heart hurt a little. Steve will never use him, not for anything, yet Tony still thinks that there's some off chance he might, like he always has been (save for a select few people, i.e. Rhodey and Pepper). “What's the catch?” he asks, and it's formed as a joke, but Steve knows he means it.
“Keep being an amazing boyfriend,” Steve suggests, and Tony smiles, huffing out a laugh.
“Well, seems I've already failed to meet criteria.”
“What's with the door?” Steve yells when he walks into his and Tony's apartment. When he tried to open their front door upon returning from work, he met resistance, the bottom of the door rubbing against the cheap carpeting. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the door had broken off the bottom hinge, but he's not exactly sure how that happened.
The water is running, but he can still hear Tony clearly as he replies: “Bruce and I had a bet, and it ended up breaking the bottom hinge off the door. I can fix it later, though!”
Steve laughs, taking off his Domino's visor, and carefully taking off his jacket so he doesn't spill what he has in his pockets. It's been a few months since they moved in together, and it didn't surprise Steve at all how little he was able to afford when he added Tony into the mix, while taking out Tony's money.
Tony comes out of the bathroom a moment later, still dripping wet, with just a towel wrapped around his waste. “Welcome home,” he greets, reaching up to give Steve a kiss. “Did you bring me pizza?” he asks immediately afterward, looking around in search for a nonexistent pizza.
“No,” Steve answers, and Tony sighs in disappointment. “But, I did manage to get something else.” He reaches into his coat, which is lying on the counter, and pulls out a handful of the free condoms you can get at birth control clinics.
Tony looks at them, then at Steve, grinning lewdly. “Steve,” he gasps, putting a hand over his bare, damp chest in mock offense. “Where in heaven did you get those?”
Steve grins back. “Natasha grabbed a bunch while she was getting her birth control, and gave some to Bucky, who thought we could put them to good use. She gave some to Sam, too, but it seems he kept those for himself.” He sets the lot of them down on the counter, leaning into Tony, but Tony leans back just a little bit, just preventing Steve from kissing him.
“Hm, so he gave them to you after you two ravished each other, then?” Tony asks, and there's humor in his voice, but Steve knows how jealous Tony can get about Bucky. Steve realizes that he and Bucky have had sexual and romantic tension, especially in the eyes of others, but they're practically brothers. Steve could never imagine being with him romantically or sexually, especially not since he got with Tony.
“Yes, Tony, because Bucky and I have sex to sate me when I'm not with you,” Steve answers sarcastically, pushing Tony back before lifting him up onto the counter, standing between his spread legs. “Bucky's my best friend. I've never had sex with him, I never plan on it, and, besides, I love you too much to have any non-platonic feelings for him.” The word 'love' slips out before he can help it, but he tries his best to say calm, holding Tony's eyes with his own.
“Good, because I really wanna be the only one you're fucking, you know,” Tony admits, throat sounding a bit dry, and Steve knows that's Tony's equivalent of 'I love you too.' Steve pushes closer, finally kissing Tony, who tastes vaguely of shrimp ramen, but otherwise clean.
Tony's the one to pull away, breathing, “Fuck, please tell me you got some lube packets, too.” Steve reaches over and pulls out just as many lube packets, and Tony laughs, “Maybe I should start fucking Bucky.” Before Steve can protest to that, Tony grimaces, realizing exactly what he just said. “Never mind, please forget I ever said that.”
Tony grabs the sewing kit away from Steve, who was sitting there happily replacing a button on one of his shirts. Well, not happily—he's never been much good at sewing, though he can knit like it's nobody's business. “I thought we agreed that I would do the domestic stuff, since you go out and work so much.” Tony's frowning down at him, looking almost betrayed.
“I was just sewing a button,” Steve replies defensively, but makes no move to stop Tony from taking his shirt or the needle he was holding. “It's not a big deal.”
Tony glares at him, huffing as he threads the needle. “Look, Steve,” Tony begins, concentrating on his project. “This shit is the least I can do. I mean—you literally have three jobs. Three jobs to support us; to support me. So, yeah, I don't mind doing this stuff. Love and fairness and all that.” He waves his hand, as if to dismiss the subject, but Steve's not having any of that.
“Well, technically, I only have two jobs,” Steve corrects, “the third is just whenever I actually get clients.”
Tony gives him a disbelieving look. “You mean when you have time to accept clients. I'm beginning to become suspicious that the only reason people hire you as their personal trainer is because you're pretty.”
Steve sighs heavily, reaching over to take Tony's hand, the one without the needle in it. “I don't want you thinking that I'm blaming you that I have three jobs. It's not your fault; if I'm blaming anyone, I'm blaming Obadiah Stane.” The lawsuit is taking way longer than if Tony still had money, and the end of it isn't looking good for Tony.
“I let Stane run the company for a whole year, Steve. I let him take it away from me. Because I was too fucking scared, too lazy.” Tony looks absolutely miserable, and Steve hates that look on his face, but doesn't know how to make him smile again. This subject has always been so depressing for him. “And I don't even do anything to help out around here. Sure – I have my shop, but that's only when people bring me things to fix, and—“
“I feel bad, okay? It's my fault we can barely afford the fucking groceries, it's my fault we had to accept Clint's secondhand couch with questionable stains on it, it's my fault that you have to work three jobs! It'll be a hell of a lot easier if you just start blaming me, Steve.”
Steve is silent for a moment, unsure of what exactly to say. “I don't blame you. And I never will,” he decides on, taking the things out of Tony's hands carefully, setting them on the (also secondhand from Clint) coffee table in front of them. “You're not to blame. Trust me.”
“There's always somebody to blame,” Tony says bitterly, even as he lets Steve pull him in. He lays his head on Steve's chest, relaxing into him. “But, I guess you can settle on capitalist America, huh?”
Steve snorts. “Okay, Tony.”
“I should probably sew that button for you, though.”
“It can wait.”
The thing about being poor is that there is almost no way to actually save money.
So Steve pinches pennies wherever he can, hides away those pennies from Tony to prevent him from asking what Steve is saving for. It takes him months, but he eventually manages to save a few hundred dollars under Tony's nose, and Natasha, Bucky, and Sam each lend him fifty dollars, so he goes out and buys a ring. (He gets Tony's measurements from Pepper; he's not sure if he really wants to ask how she knows. Best friend thing, he supposes, though he doesn't know his friends' sizes.)
It costs a little over five hundred dollars (it winds Steve a little to pay it, for such a tiny ring), made with white gold and small diamonds lining half of the band. He sits with it at their apartment, while Tony's gone, for a long time, examining it. He loves Tony and he wouldn't have bought the ring if he didn't want to marry him, but—it makes him nervous.
What if Tony says no? He can always return the ring, he supposes, and he's pretty sure that wouldn't be the end of their relationship. He wouldn't want it to be, at least, but Tony might feel too awkward to stay with Steve. Steve twists the ring around in his finger. There's only one way to find out, and the chance of him saying yes is too great of a reward to think of the possible negative outcomes.
Steve ends up toting around the ring, for an opportune moment. He's still planning out in his head the perfect way to propose—he runs them by Sam and Bucky, but each of the ideas get called 'cheesy' or 'stereotypical' and they all agreed Tony would like something spur of the moment.
“He's not our boyfriend, man,” Sam had said, “you need to figure this one out.”
“Follow your heart,” was Bucky's unhelpful advice, but then: “I'm sure he won't even care what you decide to do for him. He'll be too starstruck and emotional, probably.”
Sam grinned. “Is that sound advice, or is that how you're gonna feel when Natasha finally proposes?”
The whole conversation went downhill from there, but Steve finds himself recalling it when him and Tony are walking around in Ikea, hand in hand, looking at all the furniture they can't afford. This is like their idea of a date—pretending that they have this stuff, since they can't afford to go out for pizza.
“Oh my God. An actual bed,” Tony says, just before pulling Steve over and falling onto the bed unceremoniously. Steve falls with him, and Tony sighs deeply, releasing Steve's hand and flipping over. “Yes. This is good. Why don't we have one of these?”
“Because we're broke,” Steve answers, laughing. He stretches, lifting his arms way over his head, causing his shirt to lift and reveal just an inch of his belly. He swears that Tony can feel whenever he's naked, or even just exposed in the tiniest amount, because Tony's fingers almost instantly find their way to that stretch of skin. He smooths them over the exposed skin, raising gooseflesh, and then brings them lower—
Steve reaches down to grasp Tony's wrist. “We're in a store, Tony,” he warns, but amusement seeps into his voice nonetheless. While Tony doesn't quite live up to the sex-crazed human being people seem to paint him as, he's damn close. Not that Steve minds in the least.
“Ridiculous. We're in our bed,” Tony scoffs, propping himself up on his elbows. “Just let me have this moment. Anyway, I don't know, maybe we could manage to buy this mattress with the money you've been saving up. You know, the stuff you've been keeping from me.” Tony's face is mostly neutral, but Steve can feel the accusation in his stare.
“I can't,” Steve replies carefully, and, oh, God, his palms are feeling sweaty, his heart his beating way faster—is he ready to do this? What if Tony says no because he lied? “Because... I already spent it?”
Tony's face gets less neutral, more hurt. “I know. It's your money. You can spend it however the fuck you want. I just—ugh.” Tony sits up, apparently hoping to get himself some height advantage so he doesn't feel so vulnerable, so Steve stays lying down, allowing Tony this. “I just wish you wouldn't lie to me. It makes me feel shitty.” He says it quickly, as if saying it faster will make it magically go away.
Steve slowly sits up. “I'm sorry. It was a secret, was all,” Steve explains. “If I would have told you, it wouldn't have worked.”
Tony looks confused now. “What.” It's less of a question than it is a statement. “I have no clue what you mean.”
Steve takes a deep breath, and pulls the ring out of his pocket, so tiny but expensive, and Tony just blinks at it. “I wanna spend the rest of my life with you, Tony,” Steve breathes, his voice low enough just for Tony to hear, not that the people who pass care about whatever the hell they're doing.
Tony looks shocked, almost like he's going to pass out. “Fuck yeah,” he answers, also sounding reasonably out off breath, kissing Steve before letting him put the ring on his finger. “Fuck. Wow. Looks like we're getting married. I thought Pepper was kidding when she said you asked for my ring size.”
“She told you?” Steve almost feels betrayed, but—best friends and all, so he understands.
“It was more of a warning.” He's still staring at the ring, apparently amazing. “I didn't believe her. You can't afford a ring, we can't afford a wedding—didn't even come to mind when I figured out you were secretly saving money.” That's when the smile breaks out on his face, and he kisses Steve, this time with much more force and intent.
“Why didn't it?” Steve asks, momentarily forgetting where they are as Tony kisses his jaw.
He doesn't get an answer, because that's when they get kicked out of Ikea for almost having sex on one of the beds.
Some years later, Steve Rogers wakes up on a much nicer bed, in a much nicer home, at an hour that isn't ungodly, with the same man who has been lying by his side for years now.
He lets his eyes open slowly, not bothered by an alarm, fully rested. Tony's wrapped around him, clingier in sleep than he is awake, and Steve's arm is asleep because it's smashed beneath Tony's body.
Sunlight floods the room from the glass wall that overlooks New York City, and Steve lets his eyes adjust, staring up at the ceiling and concentrating on the way Tony's chest expands when he breathes in. There's a ring on Steve's finger now, too, and he lifts his arm to look at it. A simple gold band, ones they bought secondhand and exchanged at City Hall the day they married.
Tony wakes up while Steve's still looking at his ring, groaning softly and burying his face in Steve's chest. “I hate waking up,” he mumbles, barely audible. Steve smiles.
Tony lifts himself off of Steve, grimacing at Steve's arm. “Sorry,” he says, but he doesn't sound one bit remorseful. He stretches, and Steve watches his husband adoringly as he yawns and rubs his face. “Good morning,” Tony adds as he lays back down right where he was, adjusting himself accordingly so that blood can actually circulate through his arm. “You seem distracted this morning.”
“We just woke up,” Steve points out.
“Well, yeah, but I know when you're distracted. Did you dream about something?” Tony wonders as he traces patterns on Steve's chest, his touch so light that Steve would have to concentrate to actually understand whatever he was drawing.
Steve sighs, not unhappily, but contently. “No. I was just thinking about when we got married.” About the look on Tony's face the day of their wedding, the way he beamed when he got to slide the ring onto Steve's finger.
“You mean, when we were poor,” Tony translates, propping himself up to properly look at Steve, now practically draped across his husband's body. He rests his chin directly in the middle of Steve's chest. “Or was it the second time?”
He's referring to their 'proper wedding', where they actually had a ceremony and reception, with friends and family, after Tony managed to win his company back from Stane. It wasn't one of the first things they did, but they figured it would be nice to actually do something to celebrate their marriage, other than going to a bar with their friends afterward.
“The first time,” Steve replies, wrapping his arms around Tony without much choice. “That was a good day. You were so nervous.”
“I was nervous? You were the one who almost started crying when they gave us the certificate.”
“I was happy, not nervous. You called Pepper at least ten times the morning before. I'm still not sure exactly why, but I think you were having some doubts.”
Tony's eyes become less defensive than they were, and he physically relaxes onto Steve. “I never doubted wanting to marry you,” Tony says softly, in a moment of complete sincerity and vulnerability. “I thought maybe you would regret it, like, immediately. I was technically using you at the time.”
“You never used me,” Steve argues, tightening his grip on Tony. “I helped you when you needed me, because I loved you, and I still love you now.”
Tony lifts himself, just to swing a leg over Steve's body in order to straddle him. “You better. Otherwise, you went through a shit ton to get a pay out.”
“It was one hell of a pay out, though,” Steve points out, reaching up to grip Tony's hips and grinning at his husband. “The best husband that a man could ask for. Loving, caring... great in bed.”
“Such a charmer,” Tony huffs, sliding back, pushing the blankets back further with the motion. Now straddling Steve's thighs, he reaches down and wraps his hand around Steve's only mildly interested cock, and Steve moans quietly.
“I'm being honest,” Steve says as steadily as possible, even though the sight of Tony sitting there, very naked and with a sultry expression on his face, with his hand on Steve's cock, makes it... hard to concentrate.
Tony grins. “I don't think you're capable of lying. Except for on your back,” he teases, all kindheartedly.
Steve flips them around, causing them to lay horizontally across the bed, instead of vertically, like they were. He's on top of Tony now, who is looking... odd. Almost upset, but not quite. Steve backs off a little, taking his weight of off Tony. “Everything okay?”
Tony gives him a slightly amused look. “We've been married for how many years, and you still ask if everything is okay in bed?” Steve doesn't answer that, just patiently waits for an answer to his question, and Tony sighs, a bit dramatically. “I was just thinking—thank you.”
Steve's brow furrows the way it does when he's confused, and Tony can't help a smiling at that. “A thank you for what?”
“For, you know—being there. Not leaving me broke and out in the cold, left to fend for myself. I just wanted you to know that I still think about that, and I still appreciate it.” Tony wraps his arms around Steve's neck. “I don't know what I would have done without you, and I don't feel like I tell you often enough. Thank you.”
Steve kisses him, and Tony tries to keep him there, but Steve pulls away, even if just fractionally. “You would have done the same for me,” he whispers. “But, you're welcome.”
“God, I love you,” Tony mutters, and Steve allows himself to be pulled down into a kiss.
“My name is Steve.”
Tony laughs. “Fuck you.”
Steve smiles back as he allows Tony to flip them over again. “I love you too.”