Steve did try to explain to Tony why he should find another partner for the charity dance competition. Tony just ignored him and said, “Don’t workout too hard in the morning or you’ll regret it in the afternoon. See you at one right here.” And he was gone.
“I don’t know how to dance.” Ripping it off like a bandaid seemed the best approach and Steve felt some of the tension ease out of him in the wake of the confession.
Tony continued fiddling with the stereo and then turned when the music began. It was something with a slow tempo, violins and piano to start, the woodwinds and flutes coming in after a few measures. Steve knew it was a waltz of some kind, but not one he’d ever heard.
“I know,” Tony said, crossing the large emptied section of floor. The bots stood off to the sides of the taped off area, watching curiously as their creator took up a position slightly to the left in front of Steve. He reached for Steve’s left hand and lifted it up to shoulder height, wrapping his fingers around Steve’s palm and twining their thumbs. He took Steve’s right hand and placed it on his upper arm. “Right there where the bicep meets the— Yeah. Like you’re feeling how strong I am. Try not to swoon,” he added with a smirk.
Steve huffed out a laugh, then almost choked when he sucked air in sharply. Tony’s hand settled on his back, just above his waist, the heat of his palm not at all tempered by the thin cotton of his t-shirt.
There were, thankfully, a few inches between them still. Steve inhaled slowly and exhaled the same, hoping it wasn’t too obvious—or that Tony would think he was nervous about crushing his toes.
Then Tony stepped forward and the space between was gone. He wasn’t leaning into Steve, but they were definitely close enough that Steve could feel Tony breathing in and out, the hard line of the arc reactor pressing into his own chest on every rise and retreating on every fall.
“Are we really supposed to be this close?” Steve said, trying to sound like he was teasing. “Shouldn’t you buy me dinner first?”
“I buy you dinner all the time. And since you don’t know how to dance, this will make it easier for me to lead and you to follow.” Tony pressed forward and Steve stepped back. Tony followed, keeping that same closeness. Tony’s right thigh matched Steve’s and their pants shushed as they brushed past each other. Tony took a step back and the weight of his hand on Steve’s back pulled him along.
They stepped back and forth a few times and Steve couldn’t not look down at his feet. Except he couldn’t see them because Tony was there instead, the glow of the arc reactor catching his attention.
“Hey, my eyes are up here,” Tony said in mock offense and Steve’s gaze snapped up as his cheeks pinked. Tony grinned and Steve had to look away. He scowled, but Tony just laughed and stepped forward. Steve moved back.
“And turn,” Tony said. His hands exerted the lightest pressure on Steve’s back and hand and he found himself turning almost before he knew what he was doing, Tony following along and matching him every time.
Steve whipped around to stare in surprise at Tony who grinned again. “And turn!”
They made a half dozen circles that way, stepping back and forth in between. “You’re going to go diagonally backward this time on your left foot,” Tony warned, “and then cross your right behind your left.” It sounded complicated and Steve winced in anticipation of Tony’s pain, but they were turned and in a different position, his left hip pressed to Tony’s right hip with their raised hands in front of them, and no toes had been broken.
“Good,” Tony said. “Now we promenade,” and led them forward. “Step, turn, step, turn— You’re a natural.”
Steve snorted. “Or I have a really good partner leading me.”
He expected a flippantly arrogant rejoinder to that, but Tony’s grin just softened to a smile that twitched ever so slightly.
“And now we turn again,” he said and maneuvered Steve around so they were facing each other once more.
“Now let’s try something a little more challenging,” Tony said after a few minutes of dancing, moving in and out of several simple positions and directions. “JARVIS, queue up the intermediate list.”
The slow dreamy music faded and the opening beat of the next song came fast. Steve’s fingers tightened on Tony’s hand.
“I don’t think—”
“Good. Don’t. Just move.” Tony stepped forward and then they were turning and Steve didn’t have time to protest. He had to keep out of Tony’s way and turn when those fingers hugged his side and— Promenade! Twist!
He was sure he was going to crush Tony’s feet, but the asshole just laughed and turned him again. They went down the line and back again and then back into the first position. A few circles around and then Tony let go of his waist, lifted their clasped hands, released, and twisted his wrist. Steve looped underneath and back around until Tony pulled him back in again.
Things only got more exciting after that.
Steve did eventually step on Tony’s toes, but all he did was stop and reset their hand positions. This time the one on Steve’s waist drifted a little lower to rest on the top of his ass.
“That is not going to improve my concentration, Tony,” Steve said in as level a voice as he could manage.
“I should hope not. But as Aunt Peggy always said, ‘Dancing isn’t about thinking, Anthony,'” he intoned in a passable British accent, as he started them moving again, “'it’s a social skill. If you can’t talk and dance at the same time, you’re only going to make your partner think you are boring and they are uninteresting.'” He bent his head and a stern glare on Steve. “'Do not make your partner think they are uninteresting.'”
Steve ignored the pang in his chest and laughed instead. “I’m not sure I’m going to be doing a lot of talking either.”
Tony tilted his head. “Challenge accepted. Has Director Agent gotten back to you about the Hydra base in Oklahoma yet?”
Steve blinked, and thought about asking when talking about work had become interesting, but Tony did the turn and spin thing again and Steve focused on the movement and lost his train of thought.
When he was ready to speak again, all he could remember was Tony’s question, so he said, “No, they’re still waiting on word from Pendergast’s team.”
“Hmm,” Tony said. “Are you planning to take Bucky when you do go?” Turn, turn, step, step, turn.
“Probably. Unless you’d rather I left him here again,” he said wryly.
Tony shuddered and spun him again. “No. Do not. Take him to Oklahoma and let him shoot at corn or whatever before he starts putting holes in my walls again.” Spin, turn, twist— Promenade.
“I doubt he’d do that this time. I’m definitely taking Clint with me and he was the one who started that whole mess.” Turn, turn, step.
“Well let’s not tempt fate, shall we? If you’re going to be in town this weekend, what are your plans? Pepper mentioned there’s a special exhibit at the MoMA.” Step, turn, step, step.
“Yeah! She got me a couple of tickets, but I’m not sure who else is going to be around. I’ll probably take Bucky just to get him out of the Tower again. What about you? Any plans for this weekend?”
Tony shrugged. “I don’t know. Keeping it open. Just in case genius strikes or Doom attacks, you know whatever.” He smiled and Steve couldn’t help returning it, turning into the spin once more.
He expected more turns and spins and that really fancy move they’d tried in the middle at one point, but Tony just moved them in a square for a few more beats until the song ended. He released Steve and stepped back, drawing his hand down and bowing over it. A kiss was pressed to Steve’s knuckles and then Tony smiled up at him.
“No worries, Capsicle. We’re gonna knock 'em dead.” He called for JARVIS to cut the music and headed out at a brisk walk, vanishing into the elevator before Steve quite knew what had happened.
“If I may say, Captain Rogers,” JARVIS broke into his thoughts, “that was very well done for a beginner. I do believe Sir is right. You are going to perform excellently in the competition.”
Steve huffed a laugh and rubbed at his hand where he could still swear he felt Tony’s palm against his. “I guess I just needed to wait for the right partner.”