When Captain Awkward had mentioned that he had ideas about the uniform, Howard had expected to look at them and then throw them away and do his own thing, because the kid was pretty and everything, but he didn't exactly seem like a genius. Looking at the modifications he'd suggested, though, Howard was rethinking his cute-but-stupid first impression.
Partly because anyone who asked for full-body leather armour was definitely all right with him. Especially when that somebody was Captain Adorable.
As far as projects went, this one was definitely not about to wait. He'd built enough guns and explosives and other weaponry lately that time out to make sure America's newest sweetheart didn't end up full of holes seemed like a perfectly justifiable project to take on himself. Cap was here partly because of him, after all, and he was starting to feel like he ought to protect him.
Self-indulgently, Howard started with the leg armour. He wanted to be in practise before he attempted to fit Captain Ass-tastic's impressive rear end, since if he needed to do anything justice, that was it, but the legs wouldn't need as much precision and they were also a very nice feature. The leather was stiff and cold to start with, not unpleasant to touch, but probably not all that comfortable to wear. It warmed and softened as he worked it, though, conforming to the form he'd adjusted to Cap's measurements like a second skin before long. Howard ran his fingertips over it reverently, enjoying the texture, the little give it had, imaging it hugging powerful thighs, flexing and moving beautifully with Cap's body.
It wasn't often he got to make things pretty and functional, but Howard was determined that this armour was going to look good as he worked it through his hands, taking in the smell of new leather as a heady stimulant for creative genius. Every curve, every piece, every single line in this outfit was going to be perfect. If he was going to clothe America's new symbol of hope, then America was going to be the best looking nation in the world.
It was just possible that hanging around with the army was causing unnatural amounts of patriotism to rub off on him. Not that he'd mind the new poster-boy for patriotism doing exactly that. Especially in the armour, which was starting to look and feel amazing. He ran his hand over the breastplate, fingers dipping into the grooves and curves designed to make the fit skin-tight but still flexible.
The final, most challenging part of the armour was always going to be the gloves. They needed to be manoeuvrable - Howard had noticed how good Cap was with his hands, thank you - but tough enough to withstand just about everything. No compromising on durability, Cap had made him promise. He wondered if maybe he needed to credit the kid with more people smarts than he had done, because dammit if he hadn’t known Howard couldn’t back down from a challenge.
Since his own hands were much too small - engineer’s hands, delicate and agile and nothing like the huge paws Cap had only just stopped accidentally breaking things with - he had Cap down here, in the workshop, at a ridiculous hour made possible by the serum for him and coffee for Howard. With the gloves on a living, breathing person, the leather was warm and animated, even as Howard adjusted the fit minutely and only stabbed Cap with the needle twice - once by accident, the second time to make him squeak again. He held the precision-designed fingers in his own for an age before realising that the slight movements, the pulse, the sudden alive-ness of the the leather was because of Steve’s hands.
A thrill of excitement at the proof that the armour would be a thousand times better on its ow ner made Howard grin. Cap brought the armour to life in a way Howard wouldn’t have minded getting up close and personal with - though his fear of Peggy was strong enough that he wasn’t about to try it. He watched Cap test the gloves, catching the little smile as they moved with his fingers, and filed the armour away as a job well done.