Steve had apparently been in the gym for most of the day. Ever since he got back from his meet-and-greet, actually. The others had supposedly tried to pull him away at various times, but even when they succeeded for short periods of time he remained sullen and uncommunicative.
Now, at quarter to midnight, this was apparently Tony’s problem.
He’d only wanted more coffee, but Bruce had managed to corner him in the kitchen, with Clint as backup. So here he was, in the doorway of the gym instead of back down in his lab, attempting to come up with even one thing to say to a man he still didn’t get along with.
Howard, wars, weapons, hell, even their opinions on the government were diametrically opposed. So his teammates decided to send him to defuse the super soldier.
“Hey, big guy. We know you’re big into fitness, but even you shouldn’t be down here for over nine hours at a time.” Tony opened with. Steve didn’t turn to face him, but he did still and grab the punching bag.
“You’re one to talk.” The blonde replied, resting his head against the motionless bag. “When was the last time you left your lab?” There was a thread of teasing in the tone, just enough that Tony decided not to take offence.
“Yes, but I’m a billionaire inventor. ‘Eccentric’ doesn’t even have to be said to be understood.” He replied, tone lofty. Steve snorted, so he took it as a good sign. “Wanna tell me what’s going on? I promise you, I’ve heard or seen or done it before, and probably all three. No judgement. I can’t guarantee no teasing, you understand, but no judgement.”
Steve laughs again, still not looking at him. “I owe you an apology.”
“What for? We haven’t had an actual fight for over a week, though I’m still not backing down on the rugs. I don’t care if you think they’re too expensive, they serve a tactical advantage as well as a tactile one. I would wager on the side of someone eventually infiltrating the tower and attacking. This way even the non-ninjas can move silently and no one’s distracted by cold floors.”
Steve turned at that, grinning ruefully. “I don’t necessarily agree, but they’re really not worth fighting over. It’s your tower and your money, and I should just be glad you let us pick the ones for our own rooms. So thank you, I guess. But that’s really not it.”
“I met Senator Sterns today. He was at Fury’s thing.”
“Ah, that’s probably why he didn’t try to make me play nice today. I don’t regret my words. ‘Assclown’ is probably one of the nicer things I could say about him.” Tony was ever so slightly on edge now. One thing they never agreed on was Tony’s blatant disrespect for members of the government. Steve felt that one should always be civil, even if the person you were speaking to really didn’t deserve it.
“Yeah.” Steve replied, looking off to the side in contemplation. “Sorry for saying it was uncalled for. I wanted to take a decontamination shower after I shook his hand, and only my mother’s manners kept me from saying something similar. You’re absolutely right about him, I wouldn’t trust him with anything with even the destructive abilities of a baseball, and I just really, really needed to hit something after having to be polite. Especially since he was hinting around having some of his scientists look at the shield.” He was looking at Tony now, blue eyes earnest while still conveying his disgust in the Senator.
Tony laughed. “C’mere, buddy. I’ve got something to show you.” Steve blinked and walked over, letting Tony toss an arm around his shoulders and drag him upstairs. “See, after I took out this guy ‘Whiplash’, with Rhodey’s help, they decided to give me a medal….”
Natasha was the only one in the kitchen when Tony stumbled in for more coffee sometime mid-afternoon. He hadn’t seen any of his collegues since sending Steve off to bed at one it the morning.
“You made a mess.” Was all she said, but Tony knew the question behind it.
“I pulled him out of there at about midnight and we spent an hour watching highlights of the Stern vs. Iron Man debate. We threw popcorn at him. It was rather awesome. He is no longer furious at politicians, but he’s starting to learn that they’re generally slimy bastards. That’s not to say some don’t have their good points, but Stern was threatening the shield.”
Natasha just smiled, something that was far less humour than terror made visual. Tony just stared at her for a moment before shaking his head. “You are a terrifying little sweetheart, you know that? Just Steve, or Bruce and I too?”
Her grin didn’t change. “Regimes fall. And if Sterns decides to mess with my people, his just might fall a little sooner than anticipated.”
Tony took a sip of his coffee. “I’m so glad you’re on my side.”