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Steve hadn’t meant to be infatuated with Tony Stark. It was just the type of thing that happens, and the more Steve thought about it, the more he felt like it was an inevitability. Tony was his best friend, his partner in so many ways, yet not in the one way he’d really, truly wanted.

When he’d come into terms with how he felt, Steve had tried to go with his self-preservation instinct and told himself he wouldn’t do anything about his feelings. It was just a crush – it’d go away in no time. He’d pinch the little flicker of infatuation between his thumb and forefinger until there was no metaphorical oxygen to keep the fire alive – except instead of successfully snuffing it out, the fire inexplicably fought back, seemed to grow impossibly brighter with each passing day as he learned more about and talked more frequently with Tony Stark.

After a while, beyond just coming into terms with how he felt, he’d become accustomed to his attraction to Tony. It was just another part of who he was. He was Steve Rogers, Captain America, he was born on the fourth of July, got frozen in the Arctic for 70-odd years, and he enjoys sketching, watching movies, and surprisingly, frozen yogurt.

He was also hopelessly head over heels for Tony Stark.

 

 

 

He didn’t know when it began, but he does remember when he realized it.

It wasn’t really anything incredible – it wasn’t a big moment during battle, wasn’t saving or being saved by Tony, and it wasn’t anything in particular that Tony did. It wasn’t even the one time Tony had really almost died – though looking back on how he’d reacted then, that might have clued him in. He’d physically felt the fear grip his body and his gut, he’d gone numb all over, like his body decided nope and just shut itself down in order to cope. He’d felt fear and pain like he never had before – stronger than the fear he felt upon discovering Bucky had been kidnapped by the Red Skull, stronger than the pain he felt when he woke up and realized where, or when, he was.

No, it was during one of their rare days off, and one of Steve’s even rarer bad episodes since arriving at the future. He had been reclusive all day, preferring to lay around in his quarters instead of spar or train, and be generally glum. It was uncharacteristic of him, yes, but not so much so that the others would have noticed. He’d shown up to their team meals and acted normally enough, and if he was a little quieter than usual, no one was the wiser.

Except later that afternoon, Tony had shown up unannounced to his floor, a Harry Potter box set in one hand and three boxes of pizza in the other.

“This is just a prop, you know how I like being dramatic,” he’d said, smoothly depositing the box set, still sealed in airtight plastic, to Steve’s slack-from-confusion hands, and practically gliding into the room. He flipped open the three pizza boxes, materialized some paper plates out of seemingly nowhere, and asked JARVIS to queue up The Half-Blood Prince since Steve had just watched Order of the Phoenix a few days back.

Steve just stood there, feeling, for all intents and purposes, like a tornado had just zoomed past him and inserted itself into his space without asking. He found he didn’t really mind, though, and how was that for a metaphor for his and Tony’s relationship?

“Come on,” Tony said, breezing through the fact that Steve hadn’t moved or said anything in the past minute or so, “there’s a lot of making out in this one. You also get to see Harry kind of high. Which is all sorts of great.”

Steve looked at Tony, who was sitting on the couch, feet propped on the coffee table in front of him. He was patting the seat beside him, smiling expectantly at Steve. Steve took the situation in, adjusted to the fact that this was his life now, large overpriced pizzas, fictional plots that were strange, but not really fictional enough, given what he had to deal with on a bi-weekly basis.

He’d felt somewhat abashed, realizing what Tony had done for him – what Tony always does for him. How could he think he was really all alone in this distant future when he had someone who’d do this for him?

Tony, with his weird references, his mile-a-minute science talk, his workshop binges, and bad sleeping habits. His selfless companionship that didn’t make Steve feel like he owed him any explanations, or make his stomach churn in inexplicable guilt for having a bad day. Tony, without whom he couldn’t imagine his life, much less his future.

It could have been any moment at any point in time, but right then, Steve took in Tony – in his tank top and sweatpants, smiling at Steve like he was he only thing that mattered. Steve thought vaguely that he was probably just projecting, but he began to smile back as he had thought, quite vividly, I want this.

 

 

 

Since then, Steve had been seeking advice about how to approach Tony and tell him about his feelings. Or more accurately, Steve had been planning to seek advice. If he procrastinated a little out of anxiety, well, that wouldn’t have been very Captain America of him, would it? So of course that never happened.

(And if it did, so what? It wasn’t like he was in any hurry. No harm done in slowing it down a bit.)

Except that, of course, once he’d finally gathered up his courage to act on it, Thor was in Asgard to attend to some family business (Steve could only hope it wasn’t Loki-related), Vision and Scarlet Witch had been gone a few days probably to savor their rare days off (Steve figured there was something romantic going on there, but they never mentioned it; still, it wasn’t like Steve would berate them for it – that would be extremely hypocritical of him), Sam was out for the week to help out at the VA, and Rhodey had some military business to attend to. Natasha was away on what she had called a personal mission.

Which left him alone with Clint. He wouldn’t have been Steve’s first choice to ask for advice – or his second or third choice, to be honest, be he was here now and if Steve trusted Clint to have his back in a life or death fight, he could trust Clint to steer him in the right direction about this.

Hearing his advice didn’t really increase Steve’s confidence in how this would turn out, though.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?”

Steve didn’t think it was at all possible, but right now he was even more confused than he was before this whole thing started. He frowned at the brightly colored website Clint had loaded on his laptop. Flirting for Dummies, the title of the article read. Want a guy’s attention but not sure how to go about it? You’ve come to the right article!

Steve had a bad feeling about this.

 

 

 

Tip #1: Make eye contact.

Decide on your target and make quick eye contact with him three times. Make it quick! No one likes to be stared at. Find a reason to move past your target to the other side of the room, and as soon as you’re near enough, make and maintain eye contact. Keep holding it, and smile just when you’re moving past him.

 

Putting aside the fact that the article referred to your desired person as a ‘target,’ like this was some sort of mission (Steve supposed it kind of was, but he’d never think of Tony as a ‘target’), the article started out simple enough.

Eye contact. Steve could do eye contact. The article made it sound like rocket science, with all the details and instructions, but it was doable, right?

Steeling himself the next morning, Steve made sure to get to the dining area before Tony got there (easy), sit in the furthest chair from the counter so he’d have somewhere to walk to for the second part of this plan (also easy), and psyched himself up for his first try at getting his feelings through to Tony (not so easy).

Steve turned out to be in luck, because Tony had an early board meeting and so he’d forgone his usual weird sleeping hours and was wide awake that morning – as wide awake as Tony could be at 8 AM, anyway. He had one of his expensive suits on, Steve couldn't help but note appreciatively, though he still walked with a bit of a slump. At least it wasn’t as bad as his usual zombie shuffle.

“Morning, Tony,” Steve said, trying to make eye contact. He flinched a bit, realizing this was probably not what the article was instructing him to do. Well, it didn't say he couldn't talk, right?

“Mrrn,” Tony grunted in response, making a beeline for the coffee pot. Okay, so this was going be a challenge until Tony was actually awake enough to make eye contact.

Steve opted to fake-read his morning paper while he waited for the caffeine to take effect. He looked up after a few seconds and tried to make eye contact with Tony. This turned out to be a Fatal Error.

Tony was seated across Steve, his back against the morning sky. Steve had seen him in suits before, of course, and he’d let his eyes roam appreciatively when Tony shuffled in, but making eye contact forced to actually look at Tony face.

His face, which was slowly waking. Steve didn’t use the word adorable too often, and he’s sure Tony would be the first to protest it applying to him, but there it was.

His hair was coiffed but still vaguely sleep-mussed, as if he’d made an attempt to fix it but ended up absent-mindedly tousling it anyway. His eyelashes caught a bit of the morning light, and his eyes fluttered open happily as he gulped his probably too-hot coffee. His warm brown eyes almost animatedly filled with life and energy.

Adorable, Steve thought. Then Tony looked at him.

He gulped and looked down, practically feeling his blush creep up his face.

Well, that was Eye Contact Number 1. God, it shouldn’t be this hard. How could a literal split second of eye contact render him this flustered?

Steve was nothing if not persistent though, and he glanced up again. He saw a millisecond of Tony confused face, and, upon making eye contact with Steve, how it transformed into a hesitant smile. Steve smiled back awkwardly and broke eye contact. So much for being smooth about Eye Contact Number 2.

The article had said to do it thrice and then hold it, but Steve was sure he couldn’t handle chancing two more glances at Tony’s unfairly attractive profile, especially as Tony seemed to be catching on to him already.

Here goes nothing, he thought, looking up and making eye contact with Tony, who had his mouth open like he was about to say something (probably ask Steve if he was all right, which Steve couldn’t blame him for). He stood up and maintained eye contact as went to get himself something from the kitchen.

Except, of course, the universe decided it wasn't in a cooperative mood, and thought it would be hilarious to bring Clint up in his path while he was busy staring at – maintaining eye contact with – Tony. Thankfully, Clint isn’t called Hawkeye for nothing, and he neatly sidestepped Steve, but not before Steve noticed he was walking into Clint and tried to compensate by stopping too abruptly. The result was a truly slapstick shout-and-crash routine, and, yeah, Steve would really appreciate Dr. Doom barging in right now with some Doombots in tow, or for the earth to please just have mercy on him and swallow him whole.

Clint looked between the two of them awkwardly. “I’m going to just…” He practically flew out the door.

“That was weird,” Tony remarked at his retreating figure. He shook his head and ambled over. “Hey, you okay, Cap?” Tony held a hand out, brows furrowed in concern. “You’ve been kind of weird all morning.”

Just as Steve was contemplating whether to take the proffered hand or run for the hills, Tony’s phone began to ring. Tony, instead of picking up right away to appease what Steve imagined might have been a mildly displeased Pepper on the other line, decided to grab Steve’s arm and haul him up. (Steve helped himself up, more or less. It wasn’t like Tony could haul a full-grown supersoldier, even a particularly clumsy one, up by himself, after all.)

Tony offered a kind smile, dusting Steve’s shoulders off. His fingers might have lingered a bit, but Steve had been through a confusing morning, so it might have just been his imagination.

“There,” he said, taking his phone out but still looking at Steve, “no harm done.”

Steve certainly hoped so.

 

 

 

“I was half asleep! It’s a miracle I dodged you at all!” Clint was holding out hands in defense.

“Yeah, thanks for that, Hawkeye,” Steve replied drily.

“Okay, listen. So it was a bad start. So what?” Clint punched him in the shoulder. “You’re Captain America! You don’t give up!”

Steve reflected vaguely that it takes someone who isn’t afraid of Natasha to make the decision to shoulder-punch a pissed off supersoldier, even if it was to encourage him.

 

 

 

Tip #2: Text with Subtext.

Why limit your flirting to face-to-face interactions? Text him something flirty and playful to keep the conversation going. This is also great if you’re easily embarrassed, or need time to plan your next words.

 

This was perfect for Steve because a) Tony always had his phone with him, and b) Steve was still stinging from the failure of his attempt to flirt during breakfast, so not having this be face-to-face was a great advantage for him. He worried that he’d be distracting Tony from his meeting, but if it was like any of Tony’s other board meetings, if he didn’t text Tony first, Tony would inevitably end up texting him anyway.

Hey, Steve typed into his StarkPhone, how’s your meeting going?

Simple enough, he thought. Not much subtext, though. Maybe something more flirty? Tony might think Steve needed something important and use it as an excuse to leave his meeting. Pepper would be pissed, and Steve didn’t want that. He liked Tony a lot, but his fear of a pissed off Pepper was rivaled only by his fear of a pissed off Peggy.

Hey, how’s your meeting going? It’s quiet here without you.

That was flirty, right? Or maybe Tony would think Steve was happy to finally have some peace and quiet. Tony might take it the wrong way – he probably would, to be honest. Tony was prone to that sort of thing. Steve hated that Tony thought so lowly of himself, but it only strengthened his desire to communicate how much he liked him.

Hey, how’s your meeting going? It’s too quiet here without you.

Surely that would get the message across that Steve wasn’t enjoying the quiet? Was it too much, though? Maybe he should be more playful. Should he add an emoticon? He should add an emoticon.

Hey, how’s your meeting going? It’s too quiet here without you. :(

A sudden thought occurred to Steve. This was his first attempt – well, technically his second attempt at communicating his feelings to Tony. But if it worked, it would be the first time Tony would hear of it, and – was he being too forward? Too sudden? Would he freak Tony out? He knows that Tony’s bisexual, but he didn’t even know if Tony was interested in him that way. And if their friendship’s anything to go by, Tony hasn’t ever really shown signs of being interested. What if Tony didn’t even like him that way?

Steve shook his head. That would come later. He had to act on this now. Besides, whatever happens, no harm done, right? Tony had said so himself.

Steve sent it.

It had only been a few seconds, but Steve was about to start anxiously pacing. His phone beeped and instantly his nerves, which had been numb up until that point, were set alight with anxiety.

Missing me already, Winghead? :P

Okay. Okay, great. A positive response! Sort of. Tony didn’t seem to understand how much Steve meant what he said. It was like Tony was making a joke of something serious, as he sometimes does. Still, it wasn’t a bad response.

While Steve’s relief was palpable, he also started feeling tired. For all his need for behind the scenes planning and avoidance of embarrassment, Steve found, rather unsurprisingly, that he much preferred talking with Tony in person. He decided he’d send back a smiley face and that was that.

;)

He glanced back at what he sent.

Ah, shit.

 

 

 

“Don’t panic,” Clint was saying, but of course, it was too late. Steve knew the implication of the winky face. “I mean, it’s not technically wrong. Not to get all gross and mushy, but that was the end goal, right? That’s how you feel about him.”

“Yes, very mushy,” Steve said, but his face was planted on the table in front of him so it just came out as a series of halfhearted grunts.

He turned his head to the side to free up his voice and closed his eyes

“I feel winky emoticon about him,” he said as Clint patted his back consolingly.

 

 

 

Tip #3: Ask him to help you with something.

Asking for a guy’s help is a sure-fire way of getting to interact with him. Ask him for help about something you know he likes or knows a lot about. Even a simple, “I don’t know what drink to get. What do you think?” is enough to start a conversation. Guys also love to feel needed, so it’s a win-win situation!

 

A few hours later when JARVIS had informed Steve that Tony was back, Steve steeled himself and sought Tony out to try the next tip.

Honestly, this was so basic, Steve wondered why he decided to go with the eye contact tip first. Tony always helps him out with things, so this wouldn’t be out of the ordinary at all for both him and Tony. He didn’t really need a way to start a conversation, per se, but if it helped communication how he was feeling about Tony, he’d try it.

Steve brought his phone over on the pretense of asking for help adjusting the brightness or some such nonsense. He made his way down the workshop and entered his key-code. The doors opened with a soft whoosh, and the Steve was instantly enveloped by exceptional tunes of AC/DC. He turned to greet Tony, but the words died halfway out of his mouth.

He’d never get tired of the sight of Tony in his element. Of course, part of it was his appreciation – his very thorough appreciation – of Tony’s appearance, shoulders and arms bared around his tight black tank top, streaks of motor oil on his arms and face, hair mussed up, pushed back haphazardly by his safety goggles, and of course, the way his pants clung –

Steve cleared his throat loud enough to be heard, and loud enough that he’d shaken himself from his thoughts. No sense going down that road right now.

Tony started, then grinned once he spotted Steve. He mouthed something Steve couldn’t hear over the din, and the music shut down.

“Hey there, Cappuccino,” Tony greeted, wiping his dirty hands on an equally dirty rag. Steve couldn’t help a fond smile at the action and the nickname. “What’s up?”

“Hi, Tony,” Steve said. He could this. If it was asking for help for something technology-related – that, he could do. “I needed some help with my phone again.”

“Sure, what is it? Is it acting up?” Tony held out a hand to receive his phone. “Did you let Clint download Angry Birds again?”

Steve gave Tony the phone without unlocking it, as Tony knew all the codes anyway. He laughed a little, remembering how confused he was with the game. “No, he did borrow it this morning, though. He might have done something to it, because now it’s too bright and I can’t figure out to adjust it back to normal.”

“Oh, you can just use the shortcut,” Tony said, now cleaning his hands on a damp cloth since he’d need them to be actually clean to use Steve’s phone.

Steve looked around the workshop and took in all of Tony’s projects. The man really was a genius of epic proportions. Sometimes it was easy to forget, with Tony’s easy demeanor and constant stream of pop culture references, just what a high caliber genius he was.

His eyes skimmed around and landed promptly back at Tony, who now stood frozen as he stared at Steve’s phone.

“Tony?”

“I, uh,” Tony visibly shook himself. Maybe he had a sudden idea about his current project? He was a genius, after all, and they tended to have ideas during random parts of the day. Big, important, world-changing ideas, where Tony was involved. And here Steve was, asking him how to dim his phone.

But the thing of it was, Tony always accommodated him – with anything he had ever needed help with.

Tony, who was now sporting a slight blush. What was happening to him? Did he have an embarrassing thought? Maybe he remembered Steve’s stupid winky face text? God, how mortifying. Tony had never even replied, which showed how uninterested he probably was. Nice of him to spare Steve the embarrassment, though.

Still, Steve thought, his feelings had gotten to the point where he had to let Tony know how much he liked him. He had to tell him, even if it might lead to something horrible and painful.

Tony pressed some things on his phone. “Here,” he said, louder than he probably needed to. Was he okay? “Here,” he repeated, “you just drag your finger down from the top and the settings will slide out. You can control the brightness from there.”

“Okay,” Steve said, trying to blow past Tony’s odd behavior. “Okay, great. Thanks, Tony.” He took his phone and looked at it as he said quietly, “You’re always helping me when I’m you’ve got more important things to do.”

Now Tony looked confused. “What are you even talking about, Cap? Of course I’ll help you. Whatever it is, I’ll always help you.” He reached out, seemingly to pat Steve’s arm, but then faltered, like he thought twice about it, and punched him a little instead. He was blushing.

Steve was touched by Tony’s words, if not a little bewildered by his behavior. Still, he counted this as a win.

 

 

 

“And then he punched your arm?

“Yeah, but he said all those nice things too, so, you know,” Steve shrugged. “I’ll take what I can get.”

Clint seemed incredibly frustrated about how things were going, even more so than Steve. Then again, Steve had a few years’ worth of repressing his feelings, so he was the more patient one between the two of them. “How could he just – even after he – and I. Ugh. And you –” Clint was barely making any sense as it was, but now he just looked vaguely ridiculous, pointing an accusing finger at Steve. “And you Cap, the only person more oblivious than you is Tony.”

What? Steve frowned. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

Clint rolled his eyes. “Oh god,” he said dramatically, “you deserve each other so much.”

“Okay, you can stop with the dramatics now, Clint. I still have two tips to go,” he said, drawing himself up. He tried not to go into parade rest, but that was his default stance for dealing with difficult things. “I need to do my best.”

“Yeah, but at the rate you two are going, you’ll probably kiss after another 20 years. Heaven help you.” Clint pointed at Steve and looked him straight in the eye. “Listen, you have to be more aggressive with this next one. And not accidentally aggressive either,” he added, as Steve was opening his mouth to defend his arguably aggressive winky text.

Clint smiled at him. “Do it like you mean it, soldier.”

 

 

 

Tip #4: Compliment him.

Do it like you mean it, Clint had said, looking more serious than Steve had ever seen him before. He could do that. He’s always done that – doing it and meaning it are practically what Steve stands for, both as himself and as Cap.

Imagine he’s a little kid you need to explain this to, Clint had said, but then scrunched his nose, Actually, no, that’s kind of creepy. Just be clear about it, man!

Steve shook his head. Right. Enough of Clint. It was just a compliment – a kind word. And he had so many for Tony. He could do this. He could do this, right?

He glanced inside, having heard some of Tony’s music filtering through the workshop doors. Tony was working on something new, eyes sharp and focused on whatever it was he was fixing. His hands worked gracefully, working on a rhythm of their own. If hands could dance, Steve thought, Tony’s would do the ballet.

The various holograms surrounding him reflected in Tony’s eyes, highlighting how brown they were. Beautiful and warm, Steve thought. And so alive. Even when he was half-dead from working all night, or, Steve remembered, whether he’d just fallen a hundred feet from the air through a space portal, Tony’s eyes were alive and expressive.

Steve loved seeing them, imagined being able to look at them intimately. He was inspired into silence when given Tony’s full attention, like it was such a rare commodity. It was, if he thought about it. Tony himself was a rare kind of human being, in how endlessly generous he was with all of them, how genuinely kind he was, and how selfless with his money, his time, and his space among so many others. The man who was hurt the most by the people closest to him somehow turned out to be the kindest of them all.

All at once, the enormity of his feelings crashed into him and froze. He turned around, brought out his phone out and dialed Clint.

“Cap?”

“Clint.”

I take it by your tone and the fact that you’re calling me that you haven’t done it yet.” Clint sounded halfway to a sigh.

“I can’t do it,” Steve said. “He’s so –”

Oh, Cap. Steve. Of course you can do it.” Clint paused. “I know, practice on me.

“Practice on you?” Steve said incredulously. It sounded ridiculous just saying it out loud. “That’s not the point, though,” he said to Clint as much as himself, “it’s not the words. I have them. Too much of them, even. He’s just… he’s too good for me.”

What? Dude, it may have escaped your notice, but you’re Captain freaking America.” Clint sighed, probably knowing that wasn’t an argument that was going to get him anywhere. “Come on. Just pretend I’m him.

“Clint, no –”

Just humor me. It’ll help you calm down too.

Steve sighed. He took a deep breath, but nothing came out. His feelings overwhelmed him. What was he supposed to do, how would any words be able to communicate how fully he felt for Tony?

This was ridiculous. He told Clint as much. “What am I even supposed to say or do? Just sidle up to Tony, tell him he’s one of the most beautiful and smart and kind and genuinely good people I’ve ever known, even if he just hates when other people say it, for some reason. Except the beautiful part, probably. But he’d probably prefer suave or handsome,” Steve adds, laughing. He’s on the brink of it himself. He’s not sure of what, but now that he’s started, his feelings just sort of gush out.

“I’d give it to him all.” He’s not sure if he’s talking about the adjectives or… something else at this point. “All of it. That’s why I can’t –” Steve paused, looking for words. “I don’t – I don’t know where to begin. Do I thank him for always helping me out no matter what weird and probably really mundane thing I ask? For keeping me company no matter what mood I’m in, for understanding me – and trying to understand me – when no one else does? Do I thank him for making me watch all the Star Wars movies, even though I hated the prequels? For not judging me when I laughed too hard at 21 Jump Street? For crying through the Lion King?

Or do I just thank him for having my back? How do I even start with that? How do I explain how thankful I am, how – how relieved to finally have someone I can rely on in and out of the battlefield? For making tough calls when I can’t do it? For calling me out on my own bullshit when no one else does?”

Steve takes a deep breath, shaky. “And I’m scared, Clint. Of course I’m scared. I don’t know if he’s interested, don’t know if this might ruin one of the best things I’ve had in my life. I think about it, and it’s too much, and I can’t do it. I’m trying. I’m here, aren’t I? But I just looked through the workshop and… it was too much.” He sighed heavily. “He’s too amazing for me.”

Shit, Steve,” he heard Clint sigh empathically after a moment.

“Hey, don’t I get a say in that?”

 

 

Steve’s not sure exactly how long the silence lasts. It could have been seconds, minutes, hours. It felt like hours. Hours in which Steve was forced to note that, yes, silence. He could hear the music from the workshop a while ago. What use was super hearing when he couldn’t even pay attention enough to listen?

Holy shit, Steve,” now Clint seemed to be on the verge of laughter. “Are you by the workshop window? Is he still inside?”

Steve darted his eyes to the side, not risking moving any muscle. Really, he probably couldn’t move if he tried. Tony was not in his workshop. “No.”

This time, Clint actually laughed. “I’m gonna hang up now. Don’t screw this up. That goes for Tony, too, though.” The line went dead, beeping at what seemed to be a volume at par with AC/DC.

A few more seconds, minutes, hours of silence.

“I sure hope that ‘no’ was directed at something Clint said,” Tony began, “because I sure as hell am gonna have a say who I am and am not too amazing for.”

Steve forced himself to move and turn toward Tony. He wondered whether he could hear Steve’s muscles squeak with the effort. He turned and was welcomed by the sight of Tony, once again like breakfast that morning, grinning hesitantly at him.

With a great moment of hope and clarity, Steve spoke up, “I meant it,” he said as firmly as he could. Be clear about it. “I meant every word.”

Now, Tony was positively beaming at him. “I know.”

Steve didn’t even have time to process Tony’s words. The next thing he knew, he was being shoved up the nearest wall, his mouth assaulted with Tony’s, which were warm and a bit dry, but even more incredible than he’d fantasized – and he’d fantasized a lot.

Tony’s arms wrapped up around his neck, and his hands seemed to find a perfect place to rest on Tony’s hips. His palms burned where they touched strips of Tony’s bare torso, and he heard a moan of pleasure, though at that point he wasn’t sure if it was his or Tony’s.

Tony, for his part, parted his lips under Steve’s and coaxed his lips open with his tongue. It was about the hottest thing Steve had ever experienced. But then Tony’s tongue was inside his mouth, feeling, exploring, tasting him. He shoved his hands under Tony’s tank top and held tight, as if he was afraid this would suddenly end, and he’d wake up. Tony’s hands ran through his hair in a similar fashion.

Tony broke the kiss reluctantly, his mouth still lingering open over Steve’s, breathing in Steve’s breaths and vice versa. Tony’s face was an entire shade of red darker, and Steve hated to think how he looked like now – hair absolutely tousled, mouth kiss-swollen (kiss-swollen, he thought giddily, by Tony’s lips), and probably sporting an embarrassing tent in his pants.

“You’re panting,” Tony observed, sounding awed. Steve supposes he would be, he’d only ever been out of breath a few times before since becoming a supersoldier. He wasn’t really surprised that Tony would be one of the things to make him out of breath, though – and wasn’t that something to look forward to?

Steve grounded himself firmly in the present. He held Tony against him, kissing his hairline. “You’re amazing,” he said both as a general statement of fact and an explanation.

“No need to continue with the compliments and all that anymore, Steve,” he felt Tony smile against his neck. “You’ve got me as long as you’ll have me.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Steve said, holding Tony slightly further so he could look at his face. He instantly missed Tony’s warmth, but this was important for Tony to know. “I’ll always compliment you, because I mean everything I say. Never because I want anything from you, Tony. Please know that.”

Tony stared at Steve as if it was he was a creature he was seeing for the first time.

Maintain eye contact, Steve thought somewhat ludicrously.

He then buried his face in Steve’s neck, making an embarrassed sound. “Okay, okay, I get it,” he muttered. “I like you too, you know. You’re … incredible. Really. I didn’t even believe it when I realized… I mean, how could someone like you want someone like me?”

“What do you even mean by that? You’re incredible, Tony. I couldn’t even imagine you wanting me – wanting us – like this until now.” He held on to Tony tighter, like he might come to his senses and put this, whatever this was, off. “I was so convinced you didn’t want me like that, but I just… I had to tell you. I was just so overcome by how great you were, I had to. You’re amazing,” he repeated, like it could be truer the more he said it.

Tony kissed his neck in lieu of anything else to say, nipped it a little probably as a way of telling Steve he was stupid. Steve was in the process of appreciating the sentiment quite thoroughly when Tony’s words processed for him.

“Wait a minute,” he said, holding Tony away again, “you knew? This whole time?”

Tony stopped reluctantly. “No,” he said, and cleared his throat. “Yesterday.”

Yesterday… when Tony was acting so strange. After he looked at Steve’s phone. But what could he… “Oh my god,” Steve laughed, realization dawning.

“Yeah,” Tony said, burying himself back in Steve’s neck like he couldn’t be bothered to be apart from it any longer. “Clint left the tab open.”

 

 

 

EPILOGUE

Tip #5: Hint that you want a date.

If you want him to make the first move, you can induce it by making it easier for him to ask you out. Say something like, “I hear there’s this good movie coming out. I wish I had someone to watch it with.” He’ll take the hint and ask you out, no problem!

 

“So, I hear the last two Harry Potter movies are great,” Steve said, sitting on the couch and practically wrapping himself around Tony. “I’d love to see it.”

“Oh, really?” Tony tried not to visibly shiver when Steve put his lips to his ear. He failed a bit, though. “I’ve heard that myself. Do you want to watch it with me? Like,” Tony turned his head and fluttered his eyes shyly, “like maybe on a date?”

Steve laughed and kissed him quiet.

“I’d love to go on a date with you if the Deathly Hallows are involved,” Clint shouted from the next room.

They broke apart, still grinning at each other, as they simultaneously shouted, “Shut up, Clint!”

“Yeah, you’re welcome!”