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Let Me Be Your Star.

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It was the beginning of senior year when Tony Stark decided that the best course of action to alleviate his boredom on a Friday night was to get drunk and crash his car into the side of James Buchanan High School. Or at least, that’s what he told everyone. Because no one needed to know that it was actually because his dad had shrugged him off one too many times and if this is what it took to get his attention, then this is what he would do.

Except the only attention he got from Howard was a lecture about not embarrassing him and why couldn’t he just behave? And then he paid for the damage to the school to ensure that Tony wouldn’t be expelled from yet another school. After the whole thing, Tony just hates himself slightly more – especially when he’s called into Principal Fury’s office first thing on Monday morning.

‘You wanted to see me?’

‘Stark. Take a seat.’ He does as ordered, sitting on the opposite side of the desk. Fury stands, facing away from Tony and looking out over the parking lot. ‘The problem is, Stark, that while we may not be able to exclude you because of your father’s influence, we can’t have the rest of the school body knowing that we can be bribed.’

‘Oh, because everyone knows you’re such an upstanding establishment.’ Tony knows that digging this hole is not the right path to take, but he’s still so fucking angry at his dad. He’s silenced by Fury’s stern look, and there is something not right about a high school principal who only has one eye and wears long, leather coats and it just generally terrifying. ‘So, detention for the rest of my life?’

‘No. The drama club are working towards putting a play on at the end of the year, and they’re going to need help.’

‘Oh no. No acting, no singing, no theatre.’

‘No, I wouldn’t ask you to threaten your reputation. You’ll just be helping with the heavy lifting, the backstage things.’

‘I don’t play well with others.’

‘You don’t actually have a choice here.’

Tony nods, biting his tongue. He knows that there is no point in arguing, and he might as well just accept that this is going to happen. It could be worse.

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‘Hey, I’m here-‘ Tony says, entering the auditorium after school for the first meeting of the drama club.

‘I know why you’re here. Because you decided to destroy the school, and Fury seems to think that helping us is a punishment.’ The red-head he’s talking to – Virginia? He’s like 90% sure that’s her name - is clearly pissed off with this arrangement, but it’s not like he ever had any say in it.

‘Look, I don’t want to be here anymore than you want me to be here. So just tell me what to do.’

She gives him a dirty look before relenting. ‘Just sit over there and don’t say anything.’ Tony follows where she’s pointing and settles down. The next hour or so of his life is dedicated to watching people audition for this play – that hasn’t actually been written yet apparently. Some of them aren’t actually that bad, but there are others that are just terrible. His attention is caught by a red-head who sings a damn good version of Crazy Dreams (according to the list that someone gave him – he doesn’t listen to Carrie Underwood much).

After the last auditionee finishes their godawful rendition of Over The Rainbow, Virginia waves him over and actually asks his opinion. He tells her that he liked Natasha most, and that he didn’t think any of the guys were that good. And then he explains that he can’t really give a decent opinion, considering that he doesn’t actually know what the play is about. Virginia nods, before telling him that he can go.

Before he leaves, he feels a hand on his arm. ‘Call me Pepper. And be back here, same time tomorrow? Can you bring like, tools or something please? I think there are things that need fixing.’ He nods before exiting stage left. He wonders how being signed up for heavy lifting ended up with him just watching auditions, but he figures that it’s better than a lifetime of detentions.

--------------------------

The next meeting is just watching the tapes of the auditions again, and Pepper actually explains what the play is about.

‘It’s not finished, but it’s about Marilyn Monroe – we’re mainly focusing on the DiMaggio years, with everything else being told in sketch form. I’m writing the script and Bruce is writing the songs.’ Pepper motions to a guy sat at the end of the table and Tony nods at him.

‘Woah. Sounds… complicated?’

Pepper smiles. ‘It’s not really; we just need to find the right people for the parts. We’re thinking Natasha for Marilyn, but none of the guys seem to fit DiMaggio. We’re going to have to call all the guys back, I think.’

‘Is there anything you want me to do?’ He asks, out of his depth with the whole casting thing.

‘Um… you’re good with engineering things right? Can you go look at the lights please? I’m pretty sure they’re broken.’ Pepper says without looking up, and Tony shrugs, before agreeing and heading through the side door to the backstage area.

Pepper was right – the lights are pretty fucked up, and Tony sets about replacing wires and generally fixing them, using the tools that Pepper had advised he bring in. He’s listening to his iPod at the same time in an attempt to drown out the sounds of the terrible audition tapes and focus on the job. About half an hour later, he’s not only finished fixing the lights, he’s improved them a hell of a lot, and he turns around to see everyone else staring at him.

‘Uh- yes?’

‘You can sing!’ Pepper is practically vibrating with excitement and even Bruce has the hints of a smile on his face.

‘Oh, sorry-‘ Damn his uncontrollable habit of singing along with anything he hears ever.

‘No, no! Can you dance?’

‘Wait, what?’

‘Never mind, you can probably learn. We could-‘

‘No, hang on. What are you talking about?’

‘You’re our DiMaggio!’

And damn his beautifully sensational voice. He’d always known being that good at everything was going to get him in trouble one day.

‘I don’t want to be your DiMaggio.’ Tony says, gathering his things and heading down the stairs in the middle, towards the desk that Pepper and Bruce are still poring over.

‘Oh, please? You’ll be perfect!’ Pepper grabs his hand and legitimately looks about ready to beg him to say yes.

‘Nope. I agreed to do the grunt work. Not sing and prance and-‘

‘You’d be good though. Your voice is just right for him.’

‘That’s wonderful, but no.’

‘Tony, please? We need you! I-I’ll do anything! This show isn’t going anywhere without the right-‘

‘If I agree, will you stop begging?’ Pepper nods. ‘Okay, fine, I’ll do it.’

‘You will?’ Pepper squeals, and she actually hugs Tony.

‘Problem number one: can you even act?’ This comes from a shorter guy, with spiky light brown hair.

‘Clint’s the director,’ Pepper explains. ‘But he has a point. Can you act?’

‘I don’t know?’ Pepper frowns, handing him a page of the script.

‘Just read that.’ And Tony does. Apparently, he’s pretty good (and he’ll never admit that he’s been watching and pretending to be in movies ever since he was old enough to realise that he was pretty much on his own).

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That night, Tony refuses to admit to himself that he’s actually pretty excited about this whole thing, and he reads up everything he can on DiMaggio. He’s never done anything like this before, and he should probably be more worried about the fact that he’s ruining his rich-cool-guy image by being in a play that he’s actually going to have to sing and dance in, but now he’s thinking that this might be the push his dad needs to pay attention to him.

Ever since his mother died when Tony was 12, Howard has been distant and focussed completely on his work, when Tony really needed him to go the opposite way. He acts like he doesn’t care, that he likes the fact his dad doesn’t give him the time of day, but he does kind of wish that he would maybe act like he was proud of him.

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By Thursday, the cast list is up, and it’s official. Natasha is the Marilyn to his DiMaggio. They meet properly for the first time that lunch, and Tony finds that he likes her. She isn’t the over the top theatre obsessive he’d been expecting – she’s actually pretty terrifying in a cool, calm sort of way. But she’s a damn good singer and an even better actress and Tony is starting to be happy that he’s involved in this.

And then he meets the set designer. Steve Rogers is tall, muscular and Tony is pretty sure he hasn’t always been so fucking attractive. They’ve been in at least one class together every year since junior high, and before the summer, Steve was tiny; but then he started working out and now Tony just kind of wants to climb that like a tree.

Tony’s known for his escapades with nearly every cheerleader and every other girl that runs in the same circles, but his runs with guys are rather more secretive. Tony doesn’t like to identify his sexuality, but the truth is that he doesn’t care what gender someone is, just as long as they’re ready for a good time.

‘Hey…’ Tony greets him in his best pick-up tone, and Steve shifts to peer at Tony over the backdrop he’s drawing.

‘Hi.’ Steve smiles, like really widely, and his eyes crinkle and those blue eyes are just wonderful.

‘So, you’re an artist?’ He asks, trailing his fingers across the top of the board Steve is working on.

‘Um… yeah?’ Tony smiles, and walks around to look at the New York skyline he’s transferring onto the massive bit of plywood.

‘Woah. That’s pretty good.’ Tony’s good at this, this charming people thing, and he bumps Steve’s shoulder with his own and gives him his best enticing smile. A light blush creeps up the back of his neck, and Tony feels proud of himself.

‘Thanks.’

‘So… Steve? You busy tonight?’ Steve looks surprised, and he shakes his head. ‘Fancy getting a drink, then?’

Steve shakes his head again. ‘I couldn’t-‘

‘Oh, you’re straight, huh?’

‘No, it’s not that. I- I just can’t.’ Tony frowns and Steve carries on drawing. Well then, if that isn’t a challenge, Tony doesn’t know what is.

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Nothing actually happens until about two months later. It’s not for lack of trying, but this whole musical thing really is time consuming, and between learning the lines, songs and dance moves and trying to actually keep on top of his work for once, he hardly has time to visit his workshop, let alone chase Steve anywhere.

Everybody’s seriously stressed and Tony wonders what the hell the world is going to be like the day before the actual show, but they have months before that. He also wonders if everyone is going to burn out before them, and then he makes the executive decision that they should all party. His dad’s out on a business trip for the next week or so, so he rounds up everyone who’s working on the musical and herds them all to his place and supplies them with copious amounts of alcohol.

Everyone loosens up fairly quickly, and it’s only then that Tony realises how many people are actually working on this thing. Tony finds Steve leaning against the counter in the kitchen, nursing a beer. At this point, Tony’s had one too many shots and his head is a little fuzzy and Steve looks like he’s fucking glowing, so he marches up to him, takes his drink and downs it, before leaning in and kissing him, fast and hard.

He pulls away soon enough, and Steve’s eyes are wide, pupils slightly diluted, and he clenches his hands in Tony’s shirt and pulls him in to join their lips again. Steve tastes like beer and rainbows, but that last part may just be the vodka talking, and Tony guides Steve to his room, dragging him up the stairs and nearly falling over Janet and Hank who are all over each other at the top. Tony turns away when they reach his room to lock the door behind them, and there are lips attached to his neck, strong, calloused, artistic hands sliding under his shirt and tracing the lines of his abs and Tony melts back into the strong chest, tipping his head back to allow for better access.

Tony grinds backwards, groaning when he feels Steve’s rapidly hardening cock against his ass. Steve bites lightly at his neck and well, this is happening faster than Tony had anticipated. Tony leans his forearms against the hard wood of the door and rolls his hips again, delighting in Steve’s stuttered breath.

‘Eager, are we?’ Steve asks, and his voice is deep and gruff and the sound goes straight to Tony’s dick and he whimpers slightly. Steve leans down, covering Tony’s back with his chest, and starts biting at his neck again. Tony reaches behind him, lacing his hand through Steve’s golden locks as he arches into him. Steve trails a hand down his chest, before slipping it under his shirt and back up to play with a nipple and Tony moans again, not even caring who hears them. Steve pulls him back into a standing position before dragging him backwards and practically fucking throwing him onto the bed and jesus Tony didn’t know being manhandled like that could be so hot. Steve climbs on top of him and Tony reaches up to pull Steve’s shirt off, not caring if he rips any of the buttons.

‘That has to be photoshopped.’ He mutters, running his hands along the defined lines of Steve’s chest. A blush starts creeping up Steve’s neck and Tony pulls him down to follow it with his tongue. Steve shudders against him and tears Tony’s t-shirt over his head and Tony really likes this whole rough side to Steve. Tony reaches down to fumble with the button on Steve’s jeans, while Steve busies himself with Tony’s belt. Both sets of jeans are gone soon enough, and Steve’s kissing down Tony’s chest to mouth wetly at Tony’s erection through his boxers. Tony groans and threads his fingers through Steve’s hair again, arching into the warmth of his mouth when Steve does away with his boxers and starts swallowing Tony’s length into his mouth. He gently sucks, and grazes his teeth over the head, digging his tongue into the slit and Tony’s falling victim to all this sensation, feeling the heat building up. He tugs Steve off and Steve cocks his head to the side and smirks, just slightly, and that, with the swollen lips and the downright debauched look, has Tony stuttering over his next words.

‘In me. Oh, god. Now.’ He demands, twisting to dig in a drawer for a condom and the lube. He throws them in the general direction of Steve.

Steve chuckles, coating his fingers and circling Tony’s entrance with one digit, he leans down and as he slips the finger in he whispers in Tony’s ear. ‘I hope you’re not this willing for everybody.’ Tony gasps, biting down on his lower lip, eyes fluttering closed. Steve bends his head, claiming Tony’s mouth as he slips the second finger inside. Tony’s trying to force himself to relax against the intrusion, as Steve keeps thrusting, and then there oh god there, and Tony’s seeing stars and he doesn’t even notice when Steve uses a third finger and then Tony is ready, he’s so ready and he’s whispering a mantra of ‘now oh god Steve now’ against Steve’s mouth.

Steve pulls his fingers out, rolling on the condom and then covering his length with the lube before reaching forward again, kissing Tony as he slowly thrusts forward. His arms are shaking where he’s supporting his weight either side of Tony’s head, and Tony just knows that he’s forcing himself to go slowly, so Tony turns his head, peppering Steve’s arm with butterfly kisses and following the veins with his tongue. When Steve’s full seated, the ache is a little too much and Tony bites lightly at the veins as he tries to get used to the intrusion – he may be fine with sleeping with guys, but he doesn’t bottom often. He rolls his hips experimentally, and gives Steve the go ahead. Steve starts slowly, barely moving at all, and Tony gets impatient and bites at Steve’s lips.

‘Come on, you can go faster than that-‘ He challenges, his voice trailing off at the end at the look on Steve’s face – he takes that as a challenge, and he hoists Tony’s legs around his waist, Tony locking his ankles at the small of Steve’s back. He starts thrusting, hard and fast and hitting his prostate dead on with each thrust, and Tony is forcing himself back down, meeting each of Steve’s thrusts with as much force as he can, and he tips his head back – Steve taking this opportunity to bite Tony’s neck hard – hard enough to leave a mark and Tony’s vision is starting to white out.

‘Come for me, Tony.’ And Tony does, Steve’s completely wrecked voice chasing him over the edge as comes over his stomach, clenching around Steve. Steve follows him not long after, with a muffled shout into Tony’s neck, thrusting through his orgasm.

They pause for a while, trying to get their breath back, before Steve pulls out and disposes of the condom. He sits on the edge of Tony’s bed, before reaching for his jeans and starting to get dressed. Tony does the same thing on the opposite side of the bed, throwing Steve his shirt when he finds it.

‘We should do that again.’ Tony says once they’re both dressed, crawling across the bed to wrap his arms around Steve’s neck and nibble lightly at his ear.

‘I’m- I’m not looking for a relationship right now.’ Steve stutters out, and Tony laughs gently.

‘This doesn’t have to be serious. But I’ve found I rather like having sex with you.’ And there’s that blush again, and Tony kisses it before pulling away and standing, wincing at the twinge at the base of his spine. He walks around to the head of his bed, grabbing his pack of cigarettes and a lighter, offering one to Steve (who just looks horrified at the very thought), before lighting one up for himself. He takes a long drag, letting the smoke fill his lungs and then he exhales.

‘See you tomorrow, then.’ Steve says, standing and heading for the door.

‘Sure will.’ He winks when Steve turns back, and then he’s gone – out the door and down the stairs and Tony watches him as he walks down the drive and he watches him until he can’t see him anymore and one of the ensemble – Wanda, he thinks her name is – is telling him that someone smashed something.

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Three days later and Tony is seriously thinking about how the party was a very, very bad idea. It was good in that he got laid, but apparently a whole lot of other shit went down. Everybody discovered that apparently Natasha and Clint are sleeping together and now Peggy and Wanda and Janet are very angry and claiming that she only got the part because she’s fucking the director. And apparently Pepper and Peggy kissed and now Pepper’s boyfriend Happy is all angry and other things happened and they all blame Tony.

Well, they haven’t said it out loud, but he can tell when people blame him for things. He apologises profusely and defends Natasha because she’s the scariest and the one most likely to kill him in his sleep. Initially, he doesn’t talk to Steve because they’re both busy and never alone together, but one day he’s hiding from the ensemble horde in the baseball dugout with a cigarette dangling from his lips when Steve rounds the corner.

Steve freezes for a moment and looks like he’s about to flee, but Tony simply shuffles up and smiles at him when he takes a seat next to him, throwing his bag into a corner.
‘You hiding from the witches too?’ Tony asks, cocking his head to the side, and Steve bites his lip, trying not to laugh, but he nods anyway.

‘That’ll kill you, y’know.’ Steve motions towards Tony’s still burning cigarette, and Tony takes a long drag, tipping his head back to exhale at the ceiling. He closes his eyes.

‘At least I’ll be the only one at fault for my death.’ He laughs, but it sounds hollow. He opens his eyes to look at Steve through his eyelashes, and he looks confused and like he’s about to say something. Tony waves him off.

‘So, about what happened at your-‘

‘I was serious about the just sex thing, you know.’ Steve nods.

‘I think that’d be good. I could do with a stress reliever.’ Tony raises one eyebrow at that, and they laugh simultaneously.

‘You stressed now?’ Tony asks, flicking his cigarette away and sliding into Steve’s side.

‘Tony, we’re-‘

‘Blocked from view by a wonderful concrete bunker? Yeah, we are.’ He swings round to straddle Steve’s legs and attacks his neck, not giving Steve time to reject him. Steve ducks his head to join their lips, and this is just as rushed as the first time, all messy and needy. Tony slides down to his knees, freeing Steve from his pants and going down on him, sucking and licking and thanking god for his lack of a gag reflex and when Steve comes he swallows it all and wipes his mouth after with a downright sinful gesture that has Steve looking at him with a hunger. Steve pulls Tony up onto his lap and jerks him off fast and hard and Tony whimpers into the side of Steve’s head as he comes.

Tony climbs off of Steve lethargically, and Steve reaches for his bag, shoving several tissues at Tony. They both clean up and make sure the other one looks presentable before heading their separate ways to their next classes. Tony could get used to this casual thing.

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It’s not so bad – being on Natasha’s good side, because she’s the only one he really has to work with on stage. The only bad thing is the way Clint looks at him when they perform History Is Made At Night, which involves them clambering all over each other and declaring that ‘someday they’ll write lots of books about our fame and glory/but if all their reports are just movies and sports/they’ll be missing the whole story’. It is actually one of Tony’s favourite songs, and he’s not shy about telling Bruce that; it makes him blush adorably.

But yeah, back to the Clint problem. As far as Tony understands, him and Natasha have been on the rocks since the night of the party – apparently they’d really wanted to keep it secret and it was Clint who’d said something to Pietro and their affair had quickly become common knowledge. Natasha isn’t happy with him, and Clint clearly hates the fact that Natasha isn’t talking to him, but has her hands all over Tony. Even if Tony isn’t into Natasha like that.

So, Tony does what he does best – he confronts Clint. After rehearsals one day, he chases Clint to the parking lot before he can get him to stop.

‘Hey, Clint!’ He pauses and turns around, and his eyes flash with something (anger?) before carrying on. ‘Clint!’ He sighs, but he does stop, turning to face Tony, tapping his foot.

‘Yes?’ He demands.

‘Okay, so, I’m sort of in this thing with somebody.’ Clint raises an eyebrow, but he doesn’t say anything.

‘And?’

‘And so, I’m not interested in Natasha, so can you please stop hating me?’ Clint sighs, running his hand through his hair.

‘I don’t hate you Tony. I just- I miss her.’ And he sighs, sounding so broken in that moment that Tony kind of wants to hug him, but instead he swings his arm around the smaller man’s shoulders and leads him to his car with the promise of alcohol.

Two hours later, they’re collapsed on the floor of Tony’s room, sharing a bottle of his dad’s scotch and a cigarette.

‘I think I love her, you know.’ And Tony just nods. ‘What-‘ Clint hiccups. ‘What about your person?’

‘It’s just sex.’ He answers.

‘But you like them, don’t you?’ Clint asks, tipping his head towards Tony.

‘Him. And I don’t know. He’s really pretty. And funny. And he’s sweet.’

‘So… he’s Steve Rogers, right?’ Tony sighs.

‘Yeah.’ Tony is far too drunk to lie or even think about how Clint guessed that so quickly. ‘I don’t know… how I feel about him. The sex is incredible though.’

‘You like him!’ Clint sings, and Tony hits him, before they start laughing and Tony steals the bottle from Clint’s hand.

‘Can you-‘

‘Not tell anyone? Sure.’

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Clint is fine with him after that, and they actually become pretty good friends. And maybe pretty good friends means that they get drunk together occasionally and bitch and moan about everybody, but this is the closest thing Tony’s ever had to friendship and he isn’t about to look that gift horse in the mouth. Everything settles down pretty quickly, and Tony suggests another party, and this one does perfectly well in that it fixes all the problems that the first one caused.

It’s much the same setting as the first one – people littered around the various rooms of his house with the mysterious red cups that Tony never remembers buying but always seem to be around whenever he throws a party.

Janet, Peggy and Wanda are all giving Natasha dirty looks from across the room, but she’s getting as good as she gets, and snarling at Clint at the same time. Her ability to multitask astounds Tony, it really does. Tony is just about to march in there and yell at everybody when Clint stands (he nearly topples over, but he manages to hold his ground).

‘Okay. I get it. I shouldn’t be sleeping with her.’ He slurs. ‘But I love her, okay? I love you, babe.’ He stumbles towards Natasha, wrapping his arms around her and placing a sloppy kiss on her cheek. Not even Natasha can resist that, and he sees the light pink that’s suddenly dusting her cheeks and she shoves Clint away from her. Unfortunately, Clint can’t stay stable against that and he falls to the ground, dragging her with him. Everybody laughs at them, even the girls.

‘I didn’t know it was love.’ Janet gushes, ever the romantic. ‘I’m sorry!’ She squeals before scurrying off to find Hank and probably tell him that she loves him too. Janet always has to be in league with everybody else, even if that means making declarations she probably isn’t ready to make. Tony’s sure as hell that Hank isn’t there yet – they’ve only been dating for three months and Hank is still trying to learn to deal with Janet’s over the top personality.

Peggy just laughs, shakes her head and apologises. Wanda still looks angry, but her features soften a little, and she nods. Wanda marches off to find more alcohol, and Peggy looks relieved, sidling up to Pietro and giving him this seductive smile. Peggy’s liked Pietro for years, but they’ve never been in the same room with enough alcohol to lower her inhibitions before, and it looks like she’s just about ready to confront him.

Pepper and Happy seem to be fine, curled in an armchair and looking at each other all lovey-dovey, and Tony feels satisfied that all the wrongs have been righted, so he goes to find Steve (and no one is allowed to comment on the fact that seeing couples in love makes him automatically go and hunt down Steve). And they have sex again. And it’s just as awesome as the first time, and Tony can seriously, seriously get used to this.

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They never go to Steve’s house. That’s a rule he makes pretty early on, but Tony doesn’t want to push it, so he just lets it be. His dad is never home anyway and Tony’s more comfortable on home ground. It also means that he isn’t the one that has to sneak out afterwards and that’s always a plus. Tony, without fail, feels a twinge whenever he has to watch Steve leave, but it’s better this way, because they don’t want anything more serious than this.

Steve calls him late one night (well, technically early one morning) and he sounds upset. So, Tony invites him around and greets him at the door. He looks sad, his eyes wet with tears. Tony drags him inside and they set up camp in front of Tony’s massive TV. They eat popcorn, drink beer and watch whatever movies they can find (and that includes Gentlemen Prefer Blondes but neither of them are going to admit that they watched a Marilyn Monroe movie.)

That night/morning, they don’t sleep. They stay up and they don’t even talk that much. They just enjoy each other’s company and Tony thinks that that is just what Steve needs – someone next to him. He doesn’t know why Steve was upset and he doesn’t press it further than Steve muttering something about his dad being a judgmental bastard.

They kiss a couple of times, just pecks to the forehead or cheeks, and there’s nothing romantic about it, or at least that’s what Tony tells himself. It’s just one friend comforting another friend. And no one can blame Tony for that, because he has the excuse that he’s never had real friends before and how was he supposed to know that this isn’t how friends behave? Steve doesn’t question it though, melting further into Tony as the hours pass.

Tony feels himself falling further with every brush of hands and every little smile. He has to keep reminding himself that this isn’t actually a date and he catches himself more than once reaching for Steve’s hand or turning to curl into his side. It actually kind of hurts that he can be so close to Steve but he can’t show how he feels. But this is just sex, and that’s all it will ever be because Tony doesn’t fall in love and Steve doesn’t want him like that.

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Just a couple of days later, Tony is once again enduring another lecture about how he’s such a fuck up and a let-down, but this time Howard goes just a little further.

‘I wish you’d died instead of her. She was a better person than you’ll ever be.’

Now, Tony prides himself on the amount of shit that he can handle, but even he cannot stand by as his dad tells him that he wishes he was dead and Tony breaks, just a little, because Howard isn’t the only one that wishes that Maria had survived and Tony had died in that car crash because every single day, Tony feels guilty that he’s still breathing. Although he stops breathing at that moment, and he leaves. He just walks away, ignoring Howard’s angry calls telling him to ’get the fuck back here’.

He’s just driving around town, because he doesn’t feel like drinking – he doesn’t want the numbness or the forgetting that comes with getting drunk. He wants this pain because he knows, deep down, that he deserves it. He comes across a lone figure wandering down the street and Tony knows that leather jacket and that gait.

‘Steve?’ And he looks up, blue eyes curious.

‘Tony?’

‘So… how much for the night?’ Tony asks, laughing when Steve’s face changes to look scandalised. ‘Can I give you a lift somewhere?’

‘Um… I was just walking.’

‘And I was just driving. C’mere.’ He reaches over to open the passenger door, ignoring the fuzzy feeling in his stomach when Steve scurries to climb in. ‘I’ll drive, you point.’

They end up past the outskirts of the town, down empty back roads and dusty motorways. Steve tells him little stories about places they pass. Where he fell off his bike, where he first kissed a girl. And Tony reciprocates. Where he passed out from the alcohol, where his first fight had been. They pull into a secluded area a few miles outside of town. They sit in silence for a while, Tony thinking and Steve staring at the stars. Tony reaches across the central console, grabbing Steve’s jaw and peppering it with kisses, following the chiselled line until he meets Steve’s lips and he wastes no time in deepening the kiss, pushing Steve against the door.

Steve pulls away. ‘This is going to be awkward and uncomfortable, isn’t it?’ Something in his eyes says that he doesn’t care that this is going to cause more aches than normal, because he knows that Tony needs this, although he doesn’t know why. And Tony can fool himself into thinking that Steve needs this just as much as he does.

‘Most likely.’ Tony turns away and gets out of the car; stretching and smirking when he hears the other door open and Steve get out. They meet in front of the car, and Tony slides onto the bonnet, locking his ankles behind Steve’s back to pull him in and using the collar of his shirt to mash their lips together again. They make short work of their clothes and soon enough Steve is attacking Tony’s neck again and Tony swear this guy must be a fucking vampire with the amount of devotion he gives his neck.

‘Um- have you got anything?’ Steve asks, pulling away.

‘Only- Only a condom. In the glove box.’ Steve awkwardly walks around the car to lean in through the open window to grab it, and Tony has to stifle a laugh at the sight.

‘How do we do this then?’

‘Use spit or something. Please, Steve.’ And if Tony can hear the way his voice breaks on those last two words, then he knows that Steve can hear that as well and Steve doesn’t push it, just spits in his palm and starts circling his finger around Tony’s entrance, after spreading the saliva on his fingers.

‘You sure?’

‘Yes.’ Tony hisses as the finger pushes in, Steve goes slowly, knowing that this has to be uncomfortable, but Tony doesn’t care, because he needs to feel something. And it does hurt. It hurts way more than any time he’s done this before. And it’s sadistic and probably masochistic but he needs this, he needs to feel something, anything. He needs to feel alive, needs to feel wanted.

All too soon, Steve is rolling on the condom and pushing forward slowly. And fuck it feels like he’s being torn in half and he’s biting his bottom lip and he can taste blood, tears gathering at the corners of his eyes. Steve leans forward, covering his face in light kisses. Steve hands the control over to Tony at that point, and Tony slowly pulls him in more with his legs, ignoring the pain and forcing himself to relax and he’s incredibly grateful that he and Steve have been pretty damn active so it doesn’t hurt as much as it could.

As soon as Steve’s fully inside, Tony nods, urging him to just move. Steve does, slowly at first, until he angles his thrusts just so, hitting that bundle of nerves that makes Tony see stars, and Tony begs him to go faster and Steve does, snapping his hips as rapidly as he can, reaching between them to tease Tony’s cock and soon enough he’s arching up against Steve’s chest, digging his nails into Steve’s back and latching his teeth on the junction where his shoulders meet his neck.

Steve follows soon after, and he pulls out, leaning next to Tony against the bonnet as they catch their breath. They gather all their clothes and dress, but neither of them wants to drive back, so Steve climbs into the back seat, gesturing for Tony to follow him. Tony crawls on top of the larger man, curling into his chest as Steve lays his jacket over them both. And Steve doesn’t mention the growing wet patch on his shirt, he just holds Tony a little closer.

That incident doesn’t really change anything though. If anything, Steve seems to get more distant – it’s almost as if the fact that Tony showed him that little bit of weakness makes him want the other man less. And that hurts, but he can be okay with that. Because he went into this knowing that Steve didn’t want anything more. And Tony can totally live with that.

Chapter Text

Tony and Steve sleep together a few more times and Tony avoids thinking about his feelings. Because if he doesn’t think about the fact that his heart threatens to explode out of his chest every time Steve kisses him and he becomes incredibly lightheaded when Steve touches him, then he doesn’t have to live with the reality that he might be falling for his friend-with-benefits. Until one night, about two months before the first show. Tony is watching Steve climb out of his bed and hunt for his clothes and he’s thinking about how he’s being forced to go to a gala with his dad in two days and he really doesn’t want to go alone.

‘So, Steve- uh- there’s this benefit thing that I’m being roped into going to on Friday-‘

‘So you won’t be around?’

‘Yeah, but also… I- I wondered if you wanted to come with me?’

‘Like a date?’

‘Yeah, I guess.’

‘And why would I do that? I thought this was just sex?’ And woah – that stings.

‘Well, we could just go as friends?’

‘But we’re not friends are we? We just sleep together. Why don’t you ask Clint?’ And Steve is so casual about this, not even noticing the way Tony flinches, hell – not even looking at him.

‘I- I thought-‘

‘What? What did you think, Tony? That just because you’re occasionally in my bed, that means we have any sort of relationship?’ And it’s getting hard to breathe now, and his eyes are starting to burn and no he is not going to cry. And Steve still isn’t looking at him and he needs to see those eyes, he needs to see if Steve really means what he says.

‘Oh, fine. I guess that if I don’t mean anything to you, you can just go out and sleep with other people? Because if you’re so fucking good at that, then you had no reason to start this, did you? Oh, wait – is it because you just can’t?’ Tony’s pushing back the sheet now, pulling on his clothes and Steve is glaring daggers at him, and Tony would be scared (because Steve has a good few inches and about a million pounds on him) but he’s too angry and hurt to even fucking see straight.

‘It takes two to tango, Tony. Did you start this because you realised that no one wants to sleep with a mess like you more than once? Did you just dig your claws in the first person that showed the slightest bit of interest? And you can’t deal with the fact that I might not want you like that.’

Tony is taken aback by that – it’s true that he’d never even thought about whether Steve had wanted him as well, because no one had rejected him before. The only person who has ever shown his lack of interest in Tony was his father and now Tony is starting to make links between Steve and Howard and he doesn’t want to make those kind of links and his heart is starting to ache and his head is starting to pound.

So, he mutters a quiet ‘fuck you’ and storms out of the house, jumping in his car and driving in the opposite direction of his house, the opposite direction of Steve and the opposite direction of everything he knows.

--------------------------

He crosses the state border around one in the morning (although that isn’t hard, because it is only about 300 miles out) and pulls into a bar. Luckily they don’t ID him, and he sits and drinks until he can’t see straight and he slumps against the bar – the exhaustion and despair and alcohol catching up with him.

He wakes the next morning in an uncomfortable, strange bed, and he panics. He throws himself from between the sheets, glad to see that he’s still dressed and his shoes and by the end of the bed. Before he can escape, though, a woman walks in, carrying breakfast on a tray. She puts it on the small table in the room and orders Tony to sit and eat.

‘Did you kidnap me?’

She laughs. ‘No, you fell asleep in my bar last night, and I figured you could use a place to sleep off whatever was affecting you.’

‘Oh. Thanks.’

‘No problem, honey. Now eat.’ And Tony does. He likes this woman – she reminds him of his mother, and she’s a damn good cook.

‘That fancy ride out front yours?’ He nods, assuming that she’s referring to his car, and he’s still glad that she isn’t asking him how old he is. ‘You alright to drive home?’ Tony nods again, knowing that by this time, he’s already missing school – his father might not notice his absence, but Pepper and Clint sure as hell will.

He stands, stretches and reaches for his wallet. The woman shakes her head and pushes his hand away, refusing anything that he offers her. She hugs him before he leaves, and she hugs him just like Maria used to, and he feels the full weight of everything that happened the previous night slamming back into him, but he will not cry. He won’t.

--------------------------

He leaves, but he doesn’t drive back home. He doesn’t want to face Steve just yet. This was the first time that Tony had really put his heart on the line like this and he’d been decimated. Tony wasn’t the type of guy who wanted a long term anything, and it shocked him how much he’d changed in the past few months. He’d gotten a starring role in the school musical, and he’d become attached to one person and he’d actually made real friends, ones who weren’t out for his money.

The thing is, Tony had always been a loner, ever since his dad had told him that he wasn’t worth shit and everyone always just wanted his money. He’d been drunk at the time, but it’d still had a lasting effect on him. So he was the guy that knew how to party and look awesome while doing it, but he hadn’t had anyone to talk to before this. And he was grateful that he wasn’t as alone anymore, but it was hard to appreciate that when the only thing he could think about was how his heart was lying in several pieces on his bedroom floor.

Tony drives for hours, only stopping to stock up on coffee and anything else to keep him awake. He makes sure to drive around and not just in a straight line, because driving in a straight line is boring and he damn well knows he’s not going to get lost like that.

Eventually he is pretty much totally lost, and it’s starting to get dark. He checks his phone for the first time since that morning, and he sees missed calls from Pepper, Clint, even Bruce – but nothing from Steve. He has texts, but he deletes them without reading them. He pulls over and curls up in his seat – he doesn’t care that he’s going to ache in the morning (and not in the good way), because he’s just so damn tired.

--------------------------

Tony drives back as soon as he’s awake enough and he has a map on his phone to guide him. It takes him nearly all day to get back, but he finds enough shortcuts that mean he can stroll into rehearsals after school and pretend that nothing happened. Everybody looks at him, and Pepper looks about to say something, but she closes her mouth when Tony shakes his head, sharply and just once.

She clears her throat. ‘So, shall we go from Mr & Mrs Smith?’

And so he stands on his mark, and he sings and he dances with Natasha and he proclaims his love for her and his determination to spend their nights ‘making our own/little league baseball team’. He escapes for the next hour, becoming DiMaggio and ignoring the blue eyes looking at him from the side of the stage.

Pepper calls it a day soon enough, and Clint grabs Tony as soon as he can, herding him into Tony’s dressing room.

‘What the hell happened to you?’ Tony winces at the anger in his voice, and collapses into a chair.

‘I- I asked Steve out.’

‘He said no, didn’t he?’ Clint asks, voice softening and he perches on the edge of the dressing table, facing Tony.

Tony nods, leaning forward to examine the bags under his eyes and realising how bad he truly looks.

‘I didn’t realise you liked him this much?’

‘Neither did I, until he tore me apart.’ Tony sighs and shakes his head, leaning back and looking at Clint.

‘You should talk to him.’

‘No. He made it perfectly clear that he doesn’t care about me.’

‘Tony-‘

‘No, I’m done.’

Clint sighs and shakes his head, patting Tony’s shoulder before heading towards the door. ‘Fancy getting hammered?’

Tony’s up and following Clint in the blink of an eye.

--------------------------

The next morning, Tony’s head is killing him, and he has one arm slung over a warm body. He opens eyes slowly, taking in the man lying next to him. He’s tall, slender and has long black hair fanned out on the pillow. And the first thing that Tony thinks is that he’s everything Steve isn’t. And when he moves his hips just slightly, he realises that he probably wasn’t the bottom last night. So, this is definitely nothing like it was with Steve.

The guy rolls over and opens his eyes, and they are the most shocking shade of green. The guy raises one eyebrow.

‘Were you watching me sleep?’ His voice is deep, soothing and has a hint of an English accent.

‘Nu-uh. I’ve only just woken up.’

‘Sure.’

‘Sorry but-‘

‘Loki. My name is Loki.’ Tony smiles at him slightly, watching as he stretches and goddammit he looks like a fucking cat. Loki sits up, swinging his legs over the side and reaching for his clothes. Tony just watches him – the elegant arch of his spine, the ethereal quality to his pale skin.

Before he can leave, Tony asks him if he’s busy later. Loki raises that damn eyebrow again and walks over to Tony’s desk, writing something on the back of an old piece of paper lying there. He throws the number at Tony.

‘Call me.’

--------------------------

And Tony does. He goes out with Loki that night, and they talk and Tony likes Loki – he’s witty and sassy and incredibly bitchy about everybody they see in a way that makes Tony feel bad for laughing. They go out, they drink, they dance and they end up right back in Tony’s bed.

Loki is arching up underneath Tony’s ministrations, responding eagerly to his lips on his chest and his fingers around his cock. Loki looks beautiful like this, all flushed and writhing, but it’s nothing compared to the strong tan arms that caged him when he was with Steve. Tony plunges his fingers into Loki, and if he’s a little more rough than he probably should be, Loki doesn’t mention it or even seem to care. Tony rushes through preparing Loki, but slows down when he pushes in. Loki digs his fingernails into Tony’s back, drawing blood and encouraging him to speed up.

Tony is almost brutal in his thrusts, but Loki seems to love it, using his hips to force Tony deeper and faster. Tony reaches down, messily wrapping his hand around Loki’s cock and smearing the precome down the length before moving faster, muttering in Loki’s ear until he clenches and arches up, falling back to the bed, boneless. Tony keeps thrusting right through Loki’s orgasm and straight into his. He pauses for a minute, catching his breath, before he pulls out and falls next to Loki, sated.

He curls into Loki’s side, and the taller man wraps his arm around his shoulders. It feels too cosy, but Tony knows he screamed Steve’s name when he came, and he knows Loki murmured something that wasn’t ‘Tony’. He knows that they’re just doing this for convenience, but it feels nice to be held – after all, Steve was always so eager to leave straight away.

--------------------------

It’s two weeks before the first show, and the wardrobe team are finally getting their asses in gear and getting all the costumes together. Natasha looks fabulous in her blonde wig and the red dress for the Let’s Be Bad sequence, and he can tell by the look on his face that Clint thinks so too. He practically comes in his pants when she winks at him for the last line (‘some like it hot and that ain’t bad’).

Tony has to fight the hysterics when he hears Clint whisper, ‘See if you can borrow that tonight?’ to Natasha during their break, and damned if she doesn’t throw everything she fucking has into the next run through of the song, and Tony breaks when he sees how white Clint’s knuckles are where he grips the arms of his chair.

The drama comes when Tony’s being fitted for his baseball jacket. It’s slightly too small, and he’s just getting chewed out for ripping it during one of the dance numbers they’d just been practicing.

‘Hey! Don’t yell at me, it’s not my fault I was doing what I was supposed to.’ Thor the guy in charge of the costumes gives him a dirty look before tearing the jacket from his body. The thing with Thor is that he is over six foot tall and built like a fucking brick wall and there is something incredibly comical about a guy like that marching around with a tape measure around his neck and constantly fretting over fabrics.

‘I am sorry that I expected you to be smaller.’

Tony doesn’t take that insult to heart, but he does listen to Thor for once. ‘That accent – where are you from?’

Thor pauses and squints at Tony. ‘My father was a diplomat, so we moved around a lot – I was born in Norway, but I went to boarding school in England until last year, when we moved here.’

‘It’s just, this guy I know has an accent that’s really similar to yours.’

‘Oh, Loki?’ Tony nods, letting Thor continue. ‘He’s my brother.’

And Tony really was not expecting that. These two are total opposites in every way and oh god Tony is sleeping with Thor’s brother and that is totally, totally not good. Thor obviously doesn’t know, but Tony really does not want to get on his bad side, because it’s clear that the guy may not mind if you make fun of him for loving clothes, but he isn’t going to react well to the fact that Tony is fucking his brother and this guy could probably break every bone in Tony’s body with his little finger.

‘Oh.’ Tony mutters, and he’s about to change the subject when Thor interrupts him.

‘How do you know my brother?’

Tony freezes. ‘Uh-‘ And thanks whatever deity is up there when the door slams open.

Except it is Steve who hurries in, looking extremely flustered. And Tony has his back to the door, but his front to the mirror, and their reflections lock eyes before Steve shakes his head and turns to Thor.

‘Have you seen Clint?’ Thor declares that he has not and Steve is about to leave, but he does a double take, staring at Tony’s back. Tony hears him curse under his breath, and the look on Steve’s face makes Tony’s blood run cold.

Surprise, then confusion. And realisation and then anger. These all flash across Steve’s face and Tony kind of hates that look, but he doesn’t know what he’s done to warrant being on the receiving end of it.

‘What?’ He asks, and he nearly flinches at the amount of venom he can force into that one word.

‘Your- your back.’ And Tony twists awkwardly in the mirror to see that the flesh of his back is a mesh of scratches and crescent shaped nail marks – none of them particularly deep or painful, but red enough that Steve can tell that they’re fresh.

‘Oh. My guy is just a little rough in bed, and he has some damn sharp nails, is all.’ Tony answers the unspoken question, but he doesn’t look at Steve, choosing instead to run his fingers gently over the scratches. He should feel guilty about what he just said but it’s all Steve’s fault anyway because he’s the one that ended their thing and Tony should be allowed to move on with a guy that’s just as messed up as he is. Steve spins on his heel and leaves before Tony can come up with a witty continuation.

Thor is looking at him now. Well, less looking at him and more staring at him with an incredibly scary, fiery look. ‘So, how did you say you knew my brother?’

--------------------------

Tony gets out of that with a little bit of smooth charm and a promise that he isn’t going to hurt Loki and that’s just a little more than he wanted to promise anyone today because this thing he has with Loki is definitely casual – there are no lingering romantic feelings between the two of them. For sure this time.

Later, Peggy corners Tony. She’s Natasha’s understudy and Steve’s best friend. Tony is initially confused as to why she wants to talk to him, but the reason become clear when she sits him down and takes a deep breath before revealing what’s going on.

‘Steve’s dad doesn’t know that he’s gay.’ And Tony pulls a confused face, so she continues. ‘He’s really homophobic, and Steve doesn’t want him to know.’

‘So he doesn’t want a relationship?’

‘Exactly.’ Tony pauses.

‘Why didn’t he tell me?’

‘He’s ashamed of it.’ Tony bites his lip and shakes his head. ‘He really likes you, you know. I’ve never seen him so… so smitten with somebody. You should’ve seen him that day you didn’t turn up to school. He looked about ready to tear the country apart trying to find you.’

‘Really? He- No. No.’ Tony shakes his head again, slightly more violently. He can’t just give in to this. ‘He brought this on himself. He could’ve explained this to me. I- I’ve never taken a leap like this before, and if I do, it can’t be with somebody who’s ashamed of me.’ And he stands then, turning and walking off, not caring that he left rather abruptly because his heart is burning now and his throat is all choked up.

--------------------------

It’s the night before the night before the first show. Tony had wanted to party the night before, but Pepper has shut him down and ordered that if he must throw a party, it had to be the night before. So, he’s drunk and kind of upset because Loki called things off because his ex had wanted him back and he’s sat in a corner discussing the merits of- of something with Hank. Actually, he’s pretty sure they’re talking about the negatives of being in love. Tony actually doesn’t really know what’s going on right now.

‘She just keeps saying it.’ Hank moans, flopping his head onto Tony’s shoulder. Tony nods seriously, patting Hank on the back with hard, sharp movements.

‘Do you-‘ He hiccups. ‘Do you not feel the same?’

‘I don’t know, Tony. Love is like… it’s serious! And I’m not serious! About anything!’ Hanks sits up suddenly, using extravagant hand gestures to make his point.

‘Plus, it’s only high school. We’re too young to be in love.’

‘Exactly!’ Hank yells, probably more loudly than he should, and the people in the surrounding area pause to look at them. They both break into a fit of giggles. Which is when Steve stumbles over to them, asking if he can talk to Tony.

‘Whatever you want to say, you can say here in front of Hank. I love him, you know.’ And they start giggling again, Tony kissing Hank on the cheek.

‘Alone? Please, Tony?’ If Tony was even a little bit less inebriated, he’d realise that Steve sounds a little bit desperate.

‘Oooh… Hanky, I think I’m in trouble!’ Hank and Tony share wide-eyed looks of shock, and Steve loses his patience – grabbing Tony’s arm and hoisting him up off of the couch. He pulls him out of the room and into the garden, with Tony yelling at Hank that if he isn’t back in twenty minutes to call the police. Hank just falls off of the couch laughing.

Steve leads him away from the congregating people and towards the pool house, where he pulls him into the shadows and pushes him against the wall, keeping him in place with a hand either side of his head. Neither of them say anything for a long time, and there is a heavy silence settling around them that cuts through Tony’s hazy state. The air around them is charged with an electricity so thick that it crackles around them and Tony can almost taste it and he starts breathing more heavily – the points of contact between them feel white hot. Air flutters across his skin as Steve takes a deep breath.

‘I like you Tony. You’re smart and funny and not bad to look at and I don’t want this to just be sex. I want to be with you all the time and when I’m not touching you I ache for you. It’s like, my heart hurts when I see you and I can’t be with you. I wanted to find whoever marked your back and just- hurt them because no one should be able touch you like that. Because you should be mine.’ And he’s really close now, breathing heavily, ducking his head down so he can look directly into Tony’s eyes, and his breath is fanning out over Tony’s lips.

Tony’s tongue darts out to follow the hot air, and his mouth is suddenly dry and his head is spinning. Steve leans down to kiss him, but he doesn’t reciprocate. He pushes Steve away, looking down towards the floor, chest heaving.

No. That isn’t enough. You- You hurt me Steve, as much as I hate to admit it, but you did.’ Tony looks up, running his hand through his hair and down to rub at the back of his neck. ‘You want me to be yours, but you’re ashamed of me? This… thing. It isn’t fair. You can’t play me like a puppet – I won’t come running just because you want me to.’ And he is sobering up and he doesn’t like this, he doesn’t want to be here, having this conversation.

‘What can I do? What can I do, Tony?’ Steve is almost begging but no, Tony cannot give in to this.

‘I don’t think there’s anything you can do.’

Tony goes back into the house before Steve can reply, because his resolve is already weakening. He watches as Steve storms through the house soon after, charging out of the front door with Peggy in tow. She throws Tony a dirty look, but it bounces straight off of him as he notices the wet tracks on Steve’s cheeks. He drinks enough to stop caring, and realises that he might just love Clint and Pepper when the two of them hoist him into his bed at around two in the morning, after herding everybody else out of his house.

This might be considered self-destructive – hell, if Tony thinks it’s self-destructive then it most definitely is – but he can’t bring himself to care. Because maybe he should stop fighting this and he should just give in to Steve and forgive him so they can live happily ever after but Tony doesn’t deserve happiness or love and he still remembers the words that Steve said to him and he feels like he’s getting fucking whiplash from all of these changing emotions and fucking hell life was so much simpler when he was lonely.

--------------------------

It’s now two hours before curtain up, and Tony’s hiding from everybody – it’s not like he has to care, he isn’t on until halfway through act one. He’s thinking, which is dangerous anyway, but this time he’s thinking about Steve. Steve had basically told him that he loved him or at least seriously cared about him and Tony had just denied him. It wasn’t that Tony didn’t reciprocate his feelings, but he can’t handle that. He can’t handle that considering the fact that Steve had destroyed him and his heart and he can’t keep up with these turning tables because if Steve can change his mind like that, then what’s to say that he won’t change his mind about being with Tony in the future?

And then Tony decides that he doesn’t care. He doesn’t care if Steve changes his mind because what he wants is Steve and he wants him now. They’re in high school anyway and forever isn’t a realistic goal and it’s nearly the end of the year so they can have a damn awesome summer before Steve heads off to whatever art school he wants to go to and Tony heads to MIT.

Tony stands, and starts running through the school, searching for Steve – he isn’t backstage and he isn’t well, anywhere that Tony can find him. So he bursts through the doors and onto the football pitch, taking a left and running all the way to the baseball diamond on the other side of the street and he goes hurtling into the bunker and straight on top of Steve who looks like he was just leaving.

They land, collapsed on top of each other in the dirt. Tony feels like he should care about the fact that he’s getting his costume dirty (but he just tells the tiny conscience-Thor in his head that it just adds to the authenticity). So he straddles Steve’s hips and lets his thoughts out.

‘I don’t care. I don’t care that you want to keep me a secret and I don’t care that you broke my fucking heart. As long as you can promise me a tomorrow and that you care about me even half as much as I care about you because I think I might have tripped and fallen in love with you and I kind of like it down here, but only as long as you’re here with me.’ He stops, realising that he sounds insane, chest heaving and throat burning.

And it’s Steve’s turn not to answer him. Instead, he grabs Tony’s collar and heaves him down to join their lips and it starts as a soft touch of their lips but Tony runs his tongue over the seam of Steve’s lips and then it’s a battle for dominance, but it isn’t fast or rough. It’s slow and caring and heady. Tony pulls away first, leaning their foreheads together – their breath mixing as they heave out deep breaths.

‘I love you too.’ Steve whispers against Tony’s lips, and they both grin at each other, not caring that this has moved incredibly fast and Tony finally notices the signs that he was an idiot wasting two months with Loki and his beaten heart when he could’ve just talked to Steve and they could’ve been like this for that time.

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean what I said before-‘

‘And neither did I. I’m sorry too.’ They kiss again.

‘Are you still ashamed of me?’ Steve sighs and pulls away, but Tony can’t let go of that, of that word.

‘No. I- I told my dad last night. About being gay and everything.’ And now Steve’s eyes are shining with tears and for fuck’s sake Tony really needs to stop ruining perfectly good moments. Tony kisses the corner of Steve’s mouth, encouraging him to continue. ‘He- uh- kicked me out, I guess.’

Tony sits up abruptly, chewing on his lip and wishes he could launch into an apology, one that would’ve had the potential to save Troy. But Steve doesn’t let him get it out.
‘No. It’s not your fault. I needed to tell him anyway. I’m staying with Peggy at the moment,’ Steve shrugs. ‘It’s nice there. Her parents are amazing.’

Tony nods. ‘I would ask you to move in with me but-‘

‘Too soon.’ And Tony nods again and thinks that maybe in this one way it’s a good thing that his dad ignores him, because at least he doesn’t have to face up to telling him that he likes boys too.

‘Hang on a minute, aren’t you supposed to be getting ready to sing and dance for two hours?’

SHIT.’ Tony’s up and running before Steve has time to get on his feet, and Tony pauses at the exit to the baseball field to grab Steve’s hand and pull him after him.

They burst through the doors to the school, dodging the people milling about in the corridor (it’s totally cliché and like something out of a movie) and they take the back entrance to the backstage area and are met by a fuming Pepper.

‘Where the hell were you?!’

‘Hey, Pep. Calm down, looks like the two lovebirds came to their senses, is all.’ Clint appears out of nowhere, herding Tony in the general direction of the makeup people. Pepper relents, but does pull Steve away, muttering under her breath at him as she tells him that he needs to stay out of the way.

When it’s time for the first DiMaggio scene, Tony stands opposite Natasha and acts his fucking heart out and if the pair of electric blue eyes staring at him from the darkness in the wings encourages him, well then, he isn’t about to scream that from the rooftops.

--------------------------

Four hours later and Tony is perched on his roof, a bottle of beer in one hand and a cigarette dangling from his lips. He exhales, watching the smoke curl upwards, mixing with the dark blue of the sky. He hears a bang from behind him, and he laughs.

‘Elegant.’ He says, tipping his head all the way back to lock (upside down) eyes with Steve, who is climbing through the hatch, rubbing his elbow and wincing in pain. Steve pouts, sticking his bottom lip out and widening his eyes and Tony just laughs again, straightening up and waving Steve over. ‘C’mere.’

Steve sits next to him, tipping his head to rest it on Tony’s shoulder as Tony swings his arm around the larger man’s shoulders. Neither of them says anything for the longest time.

Steve’s staring at the sky, wonderstruck. ‘It’s beautiful up here.’

Tony sighs and nods. ‘I started coming up here after my mother died. It makes me feel closer to her, I guess.’ Tony shrugs, taking another drag and ignoring the sympathetic look Steve gives him. They stay silent for a little longer.

‘Here,’ Tony says, offering him the cigarette. ‘Live a little.’

Steve sighs, but he does take it, sucking in the smoke before spluttering it out and coughing, clutching his chest. Tony laughs, taking the cigarette back.

‘Some people are naturals at that. You, however, are not one of them.’ Steve shoves Tony with his shoulder.

‘That tastes foul.’

‘You don’t mind it when you kiss me.’ Tony mutters, leaning in.

‘Yeah, but it tastes different on you.’ Steve leans in and they kiss deeply, as if just to prove his point.

Tony pulls away, resting their foreheads together. ‘Say fuck.’

‘What? Why?’

‘Because I’ve never heard you swear before, even in all our wonderful trysts. And my mission tonight is to completely destroy your innocent façade.’

Steve breathes in, deeply, before leaning towards Tony’s ear and whispering, in the most sultry voice he can come up with. ‘Fuck.’

Tony shivers, the sound travelling straight down his spine. He shivers against Steve, and turns his head to join their lips again. Steve leans into Tony, pushing him back to hover over him. They kiss until they can’t breathe, and then they lie there and they talk and laugh until the sun rises.

--------------------------

‘Are you sure you’ve got everything?’ Steve asks, as Tony heaves the last box into the back of his truck.

‘I think so. Everything of importance anyway. As long as I’ve got you, everything else can be bought.’ He leans up to kiss Steve, quickly and gently. Steve blushes and Clint groans, demanding that they get a room.

‘We’re heading to our room now.’ Steve winks at him.

‘You have completely destroyed the innocence in that one, Tony.’ Natasha smirks from where she leans against Clint’s truck. They’re all leaving today, all heading to MIT – which was a fluke, them all getting in, and had absolutely nothing to do with the brand new lab that Tony Howard Stark had just generously donated. Howard hardly paid enough attention to anything Tony did to notice if he gave a whole load of money away from his trust fund to get all of his friends into the same university. His friends however, had complained at first, but it hadn't taken long for him to convince them to just smile and go with it.

Pepper pulls up next, climbing out to hug everyone and exclaim, ‘AAH. I’m so excited!’ for the millionth time this week.

‘We all ready?’ Bruce asks, and they all agree on some level.

‘Hang on a minute,’ Tony says as he runs back inside to place the letter neatly addressed to Dad on the desk in Howard’s study. He’d seen his dad less and less lately, but he wanted to say goodbye in some way.

‘Let’s go, then?’ Clint asks when Tony gets back outside. Pepper jumps back in her car and Bruce into his. Natasha kisses Clint quickly before climbing into the passenger seat of Clint’s truck, and Clint settles himself behind the wheel.

Tony looks back at his house, and feels a little sad. ‘It isn’t for forever.’ Steve whispers in his ear, wrapping his arms around Tony’s waist and kissing the side of his head.
‘Come on, you two! We have places to be!’ Pepper yells, leaning out of her window.

Tony laughs, shaking his head and pulls away from Steve’s embrace. ‘Are you driving, or should I?’

‘When was the last time you slept?’ Steve asks, raising an eyebrow. When Tony’s only answer is a sheepish look and to duck his head, Steve continues. ‘I thought so. I don’t trust you with my life when you’re this tired.’

Tony nods in agreement and climbs into the passenger side, and Steve jumps into the driver’s seat, starts the engine and leads their little troupe away from Tony’s and towards their future.