Steve and Tony emerge from the lab forty minutes later, fingers intertwined and lips kiss-swollen. As soon as they enter the living room, five heads swivel around to look at them. There is a moment of speculative silence and then an explosion of noise.
“Yes! I win the bet!” Clint hollers, one arm punching into the air in triumph. Tony rolls his eyes and an embarrassed blush spreads across Steve’s cheeks.
“You two will both have to fill out the paperwork about inter-office…inter-team… relationships,” Coulson pauses and a slight frown comes over his face. “You know, I don’t think we have a protocol set to handle dating superheroes, which means I’ll have to invent the paperwork,” he informs with a put-upon sigh.
“I’m going to go grab my camera. Pepper will definitely want picture evidence that her little boy is all grown up,” Natasha smirks as she jumps to her feet and glides out of the living room.
Bruce has a warm smile on his face as he says a quick congratulations.
A roaring laugh bursts through the room as Thor marches towards them, a bright grin lighting up his face. “I see many good wishes are in order,” Thor beams as he slaps a broad hand down on each of their shoulders. Steve grunts slightly and Tony stumbles, losing his balance a little. “It has been a most anticipated event, the joining of you two most honorable men. May Frigga smile upon your bond and Freyr bless your virility!”
Steve hides his face behind his free hand and Tony sputters indignantly about how they don’t need any blessings for their virility, thank you very much. They are plenty virile all on their own! Clint just snickers in the background before getting up and moving to collect Thor.
“Come on, you big lug. Let’s go get the celebratory dinner started, yeah?”
Thor bounds along beside Clint as he continues to exclaim his happiness with the new development, loudly. “It is a shame Midgardian men cannot be with child like my brother, Loki. I believe the brave Captain and the Man of Iron would have produced the most charming of offspring, do you not agree?”
Bruce lets out a chuckle when Steve’s face turns a shade of red he hadn’t even thought possible. Tony just grins brightly up at Steve who mumbles a quick excuse about going to take a shower. Tony bites his lip to stop himself from offering to join him, fully aware that Steve has already been embarrassed enough and also not wanting to mess things up so early on in their relationship. Tony watches Steve go with a wistful look on his face.
“Well, I’ll go hedge off Natasha and tell her picture time will have to wait until later,” Coulson says as he departs from the living room, leaving the two geniuses alone.
Striding over to the leather couch, Tony throws himself down next to his friend. A curious glint enters his eyes and he nudges Bruce’s shoulder with his own before voicing his question.
“So how long exactly have you guys been predicting this?”
Shrugging his shoulders, Bruce smirks slightly at his friend. “Well, I knew you had it bad about nine months ago. There was one day where you completely messed up a simple equation just because you were telling me a story about Steve. I think the others clued in about a month later. And about sixth months ago is when we all knew it was completely mutual. Remember that fight with the alien-bunnies?”
Tony winces as he recalls the fight with the furry little demons. He had underestimated them and been thrown into a building…which had then collapsed on him. It took the team five hours to trap the little monsters and then dig him out. He had lost consciousness due to the limited oxygen supply.
“Right,” Bruce continues, “well let’s just say Cap was having a mini-freak-out until we rescued you and then refused to leave your side until the doctors said you’d be alright. Don’t get me wrong, we were all worried…but Steve took it way harder than the rest of us. God, the look on his face when we pulled you out and you were unconscious…” Bruce shakes his head as Steve’s worried face flashes through his mind. “Let’s just say, we are all surprised it took you guys so long to get together.”
There is a slight pause and then Tony let’s out an awkward, brittle laugh. “Well at least one good thing came out of this whole fucked-up affair,” Tony tries to joke, but Bruce can still hear the vulnerability there.
Bruce frowns slightly and studies his friend’s face. “How are you holding up with all that?” Bruce prods carefully.
Tony shrugs his shoulders, avoiding eye contact. “I’m not too sure to be honest. I mean, I think the whole reason I reacted so horribly to begin with was just because it was unexpected. No one knew…and I had never intended to tell anyone either.” Tony finally turned to look at Bruce, his eyes showing exhaustion but also a calm relief. “But if anyone had to find out, I’m just glad it was you guys.”
“Tony…” Bruce bites his lip, seeming unsure of himself. “If you ever want to talk…I mean, I get what you’re…”
“Tony!” Clint bursts into the living room, interrupting Bruce. “Thor broke the microwave again!”
“These buttons are as tricky as the riddles Loki mocks me with!” Thor shouts from the kitchen.
Tony chuckles at his friends’ antics, thankful that things seemed to be on the right track of getting back to normal. He had already made a deal with Steve to talk things through with him. Steve doesn’t want him suppressing things again, and Tony understands, but it's going to be hard. So he’s glad that at least the other areas of his life will provide the levity and normality –well, normal for the Avengers- Tony desperately needs.
“I’ll be there in a second,” Tony tells Clint. Once the marksman has gone back to the kitchen, Tony turns to Bruce. “You were saying?”
Bruce just shakes it off, “nothing important. Go,” he waves a hand, “help the technologically-challenged.”
Tony laughs as he hops to his feet, grinning as he walks away. “Thor, what did you do this time?!” Bruce hears Tony yell as he exits. The physicist looks at his hands, twisting them together as he heaves a sigh and then gets up, moving to join the team in the kitchen.
XxXxXxXx Make xXxXxXx Reality XxXxXx A xXxXxXx Dream xXxXxXxX
“So…” Tony speaks into the comfortable silence. He’s leaning back into the curve of Steve’s body on the couch, both men finally enjoying some alone time after the boisterous dinner with the rest of the team. “I know we agreed to talk about…”
Steve stops Tony with an arm tightening around the waist of the smaller man. “We don’t have to right now. Let’s just enjoy tonight…take things slow. I don’t want to push you too fast, okay?”
Tony nods and then shifts, twisting himself around until he is straddling Steve. Tony studies Steve’s face, wants to memorize every moment he has with the soldier…because in the back of his mind, there are still thousands of doubts swirling around and taunting him, telling him he is going to mess this up eventually so he better enjoy it while he can.
“Hey, stop…” Steve says softly, rubbing small circles into the small of Tony’s back.
Quirking an eyebrow, Tony asks, “stop what?”
“Over thinking this.”
Tony flashes a wry grin. “I over think everything, Steve. Comes with being a genius.”
Leaning forward, Steve brushes his lips gently across Tony’s. “Is there anything I can do to make you stop thinking?”
Smiling warmly, Tony leans in to kiss Steve a little more firmly. “I think you had the right idea,” Tony breathes against Steve’s lips.
Tony knows he might- will- make a mistake, but he trusts that Steve will give him the chance to fix it. So, pushing his doubts and insecurities to the back of his mind, Tony just let’s himself be swept up in the tender wave of emotion coursing through him and kisses Steve again.