Tony is with him in the workshop, exploding projections (Steve was relieved to learn that this didn’t mean actually blowing anything up; “Well, technically, I am blowing things up, because when you increase the size of the projections, it’s called ‘blowing them up’.” “Oh, come on, Stark, you know what I meant.”)
...and Steve is goofing off. Okay, so he’s working, really, because his job for now is catching up on so much of what he missed during the time he was frozen. The history of conflict in the latter half of the 20th century and beyond, geopolitical milestones, things like that. He’d had briefings, of course, but Tony has JARVIS, and Steve can sit in the lab and type things in and ask questions and use not just the internet but LexisNexis and all of those deep web crawlers and he loves having all of this knowledge at his fingertips. And he loves the projections.
He’s pretty sure Stark’s secretly laughing at his enthusiasm half the time, but Steve really doesn’t care; he can learn about anything he wants and doesn’t even have to poke through 20 books in the reference section of some library.
The other thing Steve loves is the way things just branch out. One minute he’s reading about the draft in the 1960s and the next, the Grenada invasion in 1983, “Hey, it’s called Operation Urgent Fury.”
“That’s a naming convention all SHIELD operations should adopt,” Stark snickers in reply. “Operation Impatient Fury. Operation Pissed-Off Fury, etc.”
Steve grins and sidetracks into the next year and somehow ends up detouring into pop culture. “A Miss America resigned? Because of nude pictures?”
Stark looks up. “Oh, yeah.”
“In the 1980s, though? I mean, nudes are artistic.”
“Here.” Stark wanders over and taps his keyboard.
“Ah. That other woman’s...what is she doing to her?” Steve squints at the display and suddenly it’s exploded. “Whoa.”
“I know, right? Vanessa Williams. Pretty hot. It didn’t actually kill her career or anything.”
Steve just nods and clears his throat, ignoring Stark’s leer. He shifts through celebrity photos from the same year and notes the fashions: brassieres (and only brassieres) -- sometimes with giant crucifixes. Hmm. He isn’t sure he approves of the second part, though the bras, he supposes, cover as much as a swimming suit these days. He looks at more musicians of the age, in everything from workman-style denims to ruffled shirts like pirates in films, which seems old-fashioned for the 1980s. He clicks on a socialite site and his artists’ eye plays over the top image. Those pants are certainly what Steve considers futuristic. And shiny. They make the model’s legs and behind look...good.
Steve blinks. The figure is wearing what looks to be a pretty ordinary sweater and is posing against a limousine in those blindingly shiny pants with longish hair, and the handsome cut of his jawline looks so familiar. He doesn’t think he’d run across this person before, but he...is so arrestingly pretty that Steve feels his breath catch, and Stark’s by his side again, nudging his shoulder.
“Oh hey, my hooker pants!” he says, and Steve gapes.
“That’s...you!” he manages, after a long moment. Of course it is. And he doesn’t know if he’d classify the shiny trousers as “hooker pants” but the way he’s standing there, leaning up against that flashy car, Tony does look a little...
“It’s like I’m a total rent boy there,” he crows.”Peddling ass. Dick for dollars. Oh my god, I wonder whatever happened to those pants. Probably lost ‘em at a party, but I loved those. The sweater’s a little Cosby in retrospect, but I’ll have you know it was designer.”
Steve can only nod.
“Check my pert little ass! I must have been 19. Or maybe it was later? Twenty-something? Huh.” Stark turns and poses. “Still firm, though.” He grabs Steve’s hand, and before he can pull it away, it’s on his behind. “See? Buns of steel.”
“Uh...” Steve says, coloring to the roots of his hair.
“I know exactly what you’re thinking, Cap,” Stark clucks.
Steve realizes he hasn’t moved his hand away and does that, quickly, folding his arms over his chest and clearing his throat again. “You...do?”
“Yeah. I guess I have to take back the spangles and tight pants comments about your getup now, right? I mean, look at my shiny gold pants. Pot, meet kettle, right?”
Steve looks at the photo again, cataloging the details as his fingers twitch against the sides of his ribs, because he knows, he knows that this young Stark...Tony... is going to be the next thing he puts in his sketchbook.
“Anyway,” Stark says. “I need food. You?”
Steve nods absently, and Stark takes his keyboard over again. “I’ll just pre-empt the inevitable discovery of this,” and Steve can hear the printer going, “and stick a copy up on the common area fridge. Let’s just get it the teasing over with now, huh?”
“I wasn’t going to...” Steve begins, mouth dry, “tease you.”
You’re too kind. No really, you're entirely too kind in general.” Tony winks and pats him on the shoulder before grabbing the photo. “Come on. Lunch beckons,” he says, and Steve finds himself following Tony out of his workshop, trying to keep his eyes focused somewhere around his shoulders and not anywhere, well, lower.
He fails dismally, and he can’t help imagining Tony in those shiny gold pants.