Tony just didn’t understand it. Steve got along with everyone. Everyone. So what was different about Peter? The kid was smart – could ask Tony questions till the cows came home. Bruce liked him, too. The doctor was often found with a lanky shadow close behind him. Clint joked with him – the spandex was a constant point of teasing whenever the two were together. And, hell, even Natasha liked him and Tony didn’t think she liked anyone. Except Pepper, but hey, it’s Pepper.
So why couldn’t Steve – Captain freakin’ America – get along with a teenager?
“We get along fine, Tony,” Steve replied when Tony asked him as much, when the pair was eating breakfast.
“Don’t bullshit a bullshitter, Cap.” Tony shook his head in disbelief. “Natasha likes Peter. Natasha. She doesn’t like anyone.”
Steve grinned. “I think you meant to say that she doesn’t like you.”
There was a moment where Tony felt absurdly proud of Steve. The Captain had come a long way towards integrating himself into modern times, and that included his sarcasm technique. Which Tony had contributed to. Often. It was a work in progress.
Tony pointed at him. “First off, that’s harsh. She loves me – maybe not vocally, but she does. You can see it in her eyes and don’t deny it. Secondly, don’t deflect. I know what you’re doing.”
Steve crossed his arms and cocked an eyebrow. “What are you talking about?”
“Man, I’m talking about how you can’t even look at Peter without having to be on the other side of the room.” Tony tossed his hands in the air in a show of exasperation. “I’m talking about how you’re Captain America – a man known for kissing hands and shaking babies-“
“Shaking hands and kissing babies.”
“Whatever, I’ve heard it both ways.” Tony waved a dismissive hand. “Point is, you don’t even talk to the kid. Barely even talk to him about the missions and shit, Steve. What’s the issue, here?”
Steve sighed and ran a hand over his face. “Seriously, Tony, I don’t have a problem with Peter.”
Tony looked at him like he was crazy. “Then why-“
“Look, if I want to talk to him, I will,” Steve snapped. He stood, grabbing his coffee in the process. “There is no reason why I need to sit here and-“
“Steve, stop,” Tony said quickly, standing as well and wrapping a hand around Steve’s forearm. “Hey, c’mon.”
“Tony, I have things to do,” Steve tried to protest, shaking his head.
“It can wait.” Tony backed Steve into the countertop, effectively cutting off any means of escape. “I’m just trying to understand, okay? Just explain it to me.”
Steve sighed tiredly, slumping back against the counter. Tony grabbed the coffee from his hands, setting it down next to them. “Peter isn’t… He’s not something I’m used to. Peter is tough to get a grip on, Tony, and I don’t know what good I’d do with talking to him anyway.”
Tony looked at him in disbelief. “Steve, you can talk to just about anybody. I mean, seriously – you can have a legit-“
“-legit conversation with him and he doesn’t want to bite your face off.” Tony nodded, ignoring Steve’s comment. “Tell me that isn’t a win.”
The other man shook his head. “That’s great and all, but Fury and I are both soldiers, we have that, at the very least, in common. Peter and I have nothing in common. He grew up in the time period, Tony. I’m still getting used to everything and you know it. Everyone knows it.” Steve sighed. “He knows it.”
“Who knows what?”
Both men turned to look at the doorway, spotting Peter just inside the kitchen. The boy hadn’t even looked at them – too busy performing a combination of a yawn, a stretch, and some type of dance. Maybe not the dance. But it still looked funny. Peter continued into the room, rubbing wearily at his eyes as he headed to the fridge.
“Nothing.” They both replied quickly.
Peter jumped at the two voices, turning to look at them. “Oh, sorry, uh. Yeah, uhm, I can come back later…?” He looked at them apologetically, seeing the intimate stance.
Tony shook his head and stepped back from Steve. “No, no, get something to eat. S’no biggie.”
Peter shot Tony a grin. “You have to know how ridiculous you sound.”
A small smile lit on Steve’s face. “See, I’m not the only one who thinks so.”
Tony groaned as Peter darted his gaze from Steve back to him. “Captain Rogers even thinks so, Tony. And he is in charge, so…”
“That’s just what I’m letting you think,” Tony said with a wink. “You know what they say – behind every great man-“
“Are you calling yourself a woman?” Peter snorted, not bothering to hold back his laughter.
“It’s either that, or he’s trying to make a dirty joke,” Steve deadpanned, “and failing.” Peter laughed in surprise.
“Alright, I get it.” Tony raised his hands in surrender. “You two chuckleheads can shove it.” He pointed between them and backed towards the doorway. “I don’t have to sit here and be insulted.”
“You were standing!” Peter grinned.
Tony continued on, ignoring the comment. “I’ll be in my work room if you need me.” And then he was gone.
Oh, that sneaky bastard! Steve thought as he watched Tony waltz out of the room, leaving him alone with Peter.
Peter laughed softly. “He is pretty sneaky. I think it’s a talent of his.”
Steve looked at him in surprise, then flushed red. “Didn’t realize I said that out loud.”
“It happens to the best of us, Captain,” Peter said with a goofy grin.
“You know, Peter,” Steve began awkwardly, scratching his own arm to cover his hesitation, “You can call me Steve. If you want. Or even just Rogers. It’s fine either way.”
Steve watched Peter eye him from across the room. There were several tense seconds where Steve cursed Tony and the fact that he put him in the position before he sighed internally. Tony was Tony, he just wanted Steve and Peter to get along.
Peter smiled slowly, nodding at a matching pace. “Yeah, I, uh, I’d like that, Capt-Steve.”
The older man smiled back at him encouragingly. “Okay then.”
The pair moved around the kitchen, fulfilling their individual tasks before Peter spoke again. “So, you and Tony, huh?”
The Captain grinned. It was a start.