“Hey, Tony, can you pass me that cup?”
Tony’s barely awake enough to understand the question, let alone respond to it properly, so he just blinks at Steve with a slight crease between his eyes where a glare should have been before moving slowly in Steve’s direction and snagging the cup from the counter-top as he goes.
Steve watches him, trying not to let his lips twitch upwards the way they want to, especially when Tony nearly runs into him in the effort to deliver the cup. Steve puts a hand on Tony’s arm to steady him as he steps back, and the fingers of Steve’s hand brush across Tony’s knuckles as he takes it.
Tony’s warm and smells like shampoo and when he turns away with a muffled “Jackass, get your own damn cup,” Steve’s smiling for real.
Wanting Tony is a no-brainer, so Steve’s not sure why it didn’t occur to him sooner. The man is attractive as sin when he has the charisma turned on and even more so when he’s wandering around in a faded t-shirt and jeans with no socks while trying to figure out mathematical equations on the nearest flat surface, occasionally a wall.
And more than that, he’s funny, can make Steve and everyone else laugh with the drop of a few words. And he’s smart, smarter than most people Steve has ever met and he’s known a few in his time. Tony’s also impulsive and proud and kind and never knows when to back down. He’s infuriating and sharp-tongued and thoughtful in the most ludicrous and obscure ways.
Tony is Tony, and Steve knows he’s done for the day Tony shuffles by the kitchen table in low-slung pyjama pants and nothing else with his hair tussled in every possible direction. Steve watches with a suddenly very dry mouth and a familiar feeling in the pit of his stomach, and when Tony catches him staring he tips Steve a crooked grin over his mug of coffee before sauntering back off to his bed where Rumiko is probably waiting for him.
Steve spends the rest of the day thinking about the dark trail of hair disappearing under the edge of Tony’s dark blue pyjamas. When Tony and Rumiko decide to go their separate ways two months later Steve makes all the appropriate condolences, but he knows that the time is now. This time – this shot – is now.
Deciding to catch Tony Stark is easy, but Steve expects the actual catching to be somewhat more difficult. There are plenty of reasons Tony might have reservations, and despite having a few years of practise under his belt now, Steve still isn’t exactly sure what the best way to convince Tony is going to be.
Which is why he’s surprised to find that it’s almost as easy as breathing.
Tony’s on the roof when Steve goes looking for him, arms crossed on the iron balustrade with one foot tapping absently. The clouds overhead are getting darker almost by the minute as the last dregs of the sunset are fading from orange toward blues and greys. There might be stars tonight, but it’s too early to tell.
“You’re a hard man to find when Pepper starts asking questions.” It’d taken them awhile but Tony and Pepper had found a balance of friendship and professionalism that worked for them in the wake of what had happened. Steve admires that.
“Apparently not hard enough,” Tony responds dryly, but there’s no rancour in his voice so Steve knows he’s on relatively safe ground. Slowing his steps, he approaches the railing before coming up beside Tony and slowly leaning down against it.
“Nice view,” he comments.
Tony’s quiet for a little while, foot continuing to tap steadily against the wrought iron bars. When he does finally speak, it’s not what Steve expects.
“You know, I have no idea where I see any of this in five years. I mean I assume I’ll have taken over the continental United States by then and be at least President, although preferably I’ll have been elevated to King by that point. Aside from that, though, I sort of draw a blank. Maybe we’ll all just be dead.”
“What’s it matter?” Steve asks with a shrug, looking over at Tony. “I don’t think the future is going to come any faster or slower depending on if you can picture it or not.”
“Because that’s what I do,” Tony tells him with a tinge of disgust that makes Steve smile. “I’m a futurist, Steve. I need to be able to picture the future in order to create it.”
Steve thinks this over for a few moments, appreciating the way the light summer wind ruffles his hair. It’s a nice feeling, standing up here, and he decides to come up more often.
“I’ve made a lot of five year plans, and somehow or other I ended up here instead.” There’s no value judgement in the statement; if everything went according to plan he’d be long dead by this point.
“You probably should have married Sharon,” Tony suprises him with. “Had a litter of kids.”
“Nah,” is Steve’s only response.
“Good, because I really didn’t mean that.”
They both laugh then, and Steve exchanges a quick grin with Tony as the moon clears a low-rise.
“How about tonight we forget five years from now and just worry about the present?”
“Deal, but only if there’s whiskey involved.”
“Good. You’re going to need it when you see the stack of paperwork Pepper brought.”
There’s a stifled shout of “traitor!” as Steve steers Tony towards the door where there’s bright golden light just waiting to let them in.
Steve’s falling. The air is roaring past his ears which - he doesn’t know if they’ve popped or not, because there’s a faint ringing in his head and a gasping sound that he’s almost certain is coming from his own lungs.
The world is a blur of motion, the black and fiery red from the explosion overhead rocking through the atmosphere with the speed of sound and ash and the city is spread out underneath him as he hurtles towards it faster than he would have thought possible.
There’s no time or space for thought except that if this is it, Steve’s got no regrets. He gave it everything he had, and the others will see things through.
And then there’s something crackling through his earpiece louder than a sonic boom or the sound of falling and he thinks it might be his own name but he’s not sure. And then there’s red and gold and – and Steve grins, because maybe he’d have one regret after all. There’s a hand reaching for him, and Steve reaches back as the sky, the city, and the present all catch up at once in a blast of rockets as he hits metal and then they’re horizon-bound.
Tony’s his best friend; has been for close on two years now. He didn’t expect that, not when they got off to such a bad start. But they find a certain steadiness in each other that they don’t with anybody else, and when Steve broke it off with Sharon it was Tony’s garage he’d turned to. They’d spent a month retooling the engine on Steve’s bike, and by the end of it Steve could take it apart and rebuild it again by himself if he wanted to. There’d been a certain solace in lying on the floor of Tony’s garage staring at rings of metal and trying to figure out what would give him the best torque while Tony waxed poetic about the benefit of high-end cylinders.
They’re sitting across the kitchen from each other and Tony’s feet are propped up on a second chair as he lounges back from the table and reaches up just enough to push up the sunglasses that have been resting on the bridge of his nose so that they’re now sitting messily on top of his head.
“I hate you, Tony,” Bruce says from somewhere on the floor. It’s 84 degrees and rising in the tower at the moment, and somehow this has culminated in Tony buying everyone floral shorts.
“Don’t blame me,” Tony responds off-handedly. “I’ve been trying to sell New York on turning the full power grid over to me for months. Maybe if you go all Big Guy on them it’ll finally sell green energy.”
Steve takes the opportunity to peer around the table at Bruce, who’s looking decidedly wilted.
“Maybe you should consider going someplace else for awhile. I know the blackouts are rolling, but most of the public buildings still have power and air conditioning.”
“Oh man or god or whoever’s listening please take me with you,” Clint moans from where he’s collapsed near the fridge. “I’ve never wanted to go to a library before.”
“Perhaps we could play a game to take our minds off of the heat,” Thor suggests. He’s sitting on the counter near the open window, and Steve thinks he’s probably on to something. Tony, who seems completely unfazed, just directs his grin to Thor.
“You are a man slash legendary demi-god after my own heart. I vote we play ‘whoever discovers where Pepper hid the key to the filing cabinet gets to use Dummy as a fan’.”
“It’s in the left-hand desk drawer in the lounge on the fourth floor, under the stack of Cosmo magazines,” Steve volunteers because he’s a man of principle who would never surrender state secrets for the chance to be slightly cooler.
“Steve, no,” Clint groans as Tony laughs delightedly. This is when Natasha walks in wearing a black t-shirt and designated floral shorts with a box of popsicles tucked under her arm.
“This is all I could find. Sorry, kids.”
Clint is immediately up and across the room, crowding into Natasha’s space so that he can see exactly what she’s brought.
“Triple rockets, Natasha is officially designated goddess, bow down to her,” Clint informs them, and everyone – including Thor – lifts their arms and bows them in Natasha’s direction without asking any questions.
“I suppose you’re not completely hopeless,” she says with a small grin (the kind that speaks volumes when you know her as well as Steve does) as she opens the box and hands the first popsicle to Clint, who whoops triumphantly. Bruce receives the second popsicle with a happy sound while Clint tosses one to each of the others with unerring aim.
“Thanks, Tasha,” Steve tells her with a smile as he peels the thing open. It turns out to be red, white and blue, and he coughs on his own amused surprise.
“How thematically appropriate,” Tony says, eyeing the popsicle and then the room. “Let us all collectively suck on America.”
“Any objections, Steve?” Bruce asks with a smile of his own as he sits up on one elbow enough to open his own popsicle.
“I don’t know, I don’t see what could possibly be considered inappropriate about sucking on something shaped like this and wearing my colours.”
Natasha and Thor are the first ones to laugh while Clint just looks faintly appalled. Tony’s looking at him speculatively across the table and Steve’s not about to turn that down.
“If that’s how we’re playing this, I pre-emptively declare myself the winner of this game.”
“That so?” Steve challenges, knowing exactly where this is going and not minding in the slightest.
“You tell me,” Tony answers. And just like that his tongue is running up and down the popsicle before swirling around the tip of it. He holds Steve’s eyes as he wraps his lips around the thing and starts to suck.
“Amateur,” Natasha comments derisively before quickly running her finger along the edge of the popsicle and then slipping the finger between her lips.
Things escalate quickly from there.
In the end Tony does in fact win although, surprisingly, Thor gives him a run for his money. By the time they’re done with the popsicles Steve is laughing so hard that he doesn’t know if he’s more turned on or just happy to be alive. When the air conditioner kicks in and then stutters out again an hour later while Tony is down to only flowery shorts and flip flops, Steve decides it’s definitely both.
Steve will argue later that it started three years ago, but in the moment it starts with glances. It makes him feel like a teenager, but he can’t seem to keep his eyes to himself and he blames Tony entirely. He starts by catching Tony’s eyes in a meeting to convey his appreciation for Tony backing him up on a point, and then Tony spends the rest of the meeting trying to keep Steve’s attention by miming various obscene acts behind Fury’s back, which Steve has to sit through with a resolutely straight face.
It starts with Tony eyeing him across the counter as the others discuss what to order for dinner, and it starts with the way Steve can’t help but watch Tony’s hands as he works. It starts the night Steve finds himself tripping over Tony’s eyes while they’re supposed to be watching a movie, and the little smile that Tony can’t quite keep off of his face after he looks away.
It starts and all Steve’s sure about is that he has no idea where it’s going to end.
He tries to straight-out ask Tony at one point, but it comes out a garbled mess that just earns Steve a withering look.
“If you’re going to start having seizures, don’t do it down here, okay? I just cleaned the floors, and although I told Butterfingers to brush up on his CPR I don’t have much faith in today’s educational system.”
Steve just shuts his mouth and nods, sitting back so he can watch Tony at work – or maybe it’s play. Most of the time Steve has trouble telling the difference.
“A little to the left, buddy,” Tony yells at Thor, who obligingly shifts the huge metal pillar, and Tony scrutinizes the new angle through his goggles.
Afterwards, on the way out of the lab Thor claps Steve on the shoulder with a peculiar smile and a shake of his head.
“Don’t rush ahead, Captain. Sometimes the journey is just as much of a delight as the destination.”
Steve thinks that’s just about the most sensible advice he’s ever gotten.
It’s a slow Tuesday and Tony’s demonstrating something to Bruce, something that involves a lot of numbers and diagrams blown up in the air by JARVIS and also spread out across a large table in the rec room. Steve’s sort of following, although he’s also distracted by the book Darcy lent him yesterday and he flips a page absently, wondering a little about whether or not something that involves this many vampires can really be considered ‘historical’. (Then again, he’s sort of revised his opinion about the possible versus the impossible in the last few years.)
When Steve catches the word ‘shield’ and glances up, Tony’s bent and leaning across the table to point something out to Bruce, who’s nodding and looking thoughtful. Steve opens his mouth to ask what they’re looking at, but then Tony’s shoulders roll under the white cotton fabric of his shirt and he stretches further, hips lining up with the edge of the table. Steve abruptly shuts his mouth, suddenly having no idea at all of what he was about to say. Tony drags his finger across a line before slowly pushing up again while his back does all sorts of interesting things, and all Steve’s brain is really processing is tanned skin.
Standing now, Tony turns and grins at him with an arched eyebrow and there’s mischief written across every line of his face.
“How’s Anne Rice treating you?"
“Uh,” is Steve’s brilliant answer and Bruce looks a little like he can’t decide whether he should laugh or cry.
Tony and Clint are sparring at the other end of the gym when Steve comes out of the locker room, and he takes his time to watch as he sits on the bench near the door, getting the tape ready for his hands. There’s a lot of ducking and weaving happening, and Steve realizes belatedly that Natasha is throwing pointers from the side of the ring, her red hair tied back in a tight bun.
Tony’s not a match for any of them one on one, but he’s getting better at a pretty remarkable rate. Steve surmises that Clint’s in a teaching mood today because there’s a distinct minimum of swearing going on and the amount of profanity is usually a good measurement of how dirty things are getting.
“Left hook!” Natasha calls, and Tony neatly ducks a sideswipe from Clint before throwing a pretty mean jab with his left that has Steve whistling in appreciation. Sure, Tony’s never going to be able to take most of them in a fair fight like this, but Steve’s starting to think that he probably wouldn’t want to take his chances with the suit in play these days. Apparently Natasha is satisfied enough, because she nods approvingly, her lips pursing in that way she has when she doesn’t want to actually smile.
Clint, who seems to be torn between looking pleased and pissed as hell that Tony actually managed to land one, raises his guard again.
“Alright, Stark, I’ll give you that that was a good one. But let’s see how you do without Tasha doing half the work for you.”
Tony, whose hair is plastered to his forehead, gives Clint a considering look.
“Alright, sure. Natasha won’t do half the work, will you?”
The glance he throws Nat is met with a steady look, and then in the blink of an eye Clint is flat on his back from where Natasha has swept him over with one well-aimed leg. There’s a whoop from Tony and then he and Nat are high-fiving and Steve can’t stop from laughing helplessly as he finishes winding the tape around his hand.
“Cheaters! Cheaters, fuck you cheaters!” Clint starts cussing up the pre-requisite blue streak as Tony shakes his head, laughing too, and exits the ring.
“Don’t hate the player, hate the game. And hello, Captain. You’re looking very muscly today.”
Tony’s dark eyes are bright and he meets and holds Steve’s gaze with a grin and an unmistakable challenge as he reaches for his nearby (red and gold) water bottle. Steve’s smiling as he matches Tony’s look beat for beat.
“That right? Doesn’t seem to have helped Clint much.”
“I’m coming back and paralyzing you all,” Clint says as Natasha smirks crookedly and helps him up.
“Don’t push your luck, Barton, we’d hate to have to triple team you.”
“Speak for yourself,” Tony throws over his shoulder and Steve’s grinning now too.
“Et tu, Cap?” Clint asks as he climbs out of the ring, and Steve just shrugs innocently.
“I’d feel honour-bound to defend my teammates.”
“Next time I’m wiping the floor with you, Stark,” Clint informs Tony with a black look.
“How about right now, Barton?” Tony challenges, but then turns his head back to look at Steve again. “…unless Cap wants to play. He looks like he’s feeling frisky.”
“If you wanna try it,” Steve agrees, the palms of his hands suddenly very warm in spite of the powder and tape. “Although it’s just going to end with you on your back begging for mercy.”
Natasha, who’d been heading to where she left her bag, pauses and gives them both a long look before crossing her arms.
“Maybe I’ll stay and watch this one after all.”
Steve’s not sure exactly what the look he gives her says, but she gives him a baleful one back and shrugs one shoulder unapologetically before smiling wryly and turning to the bag after all.
Tony’s waiting when Steve returns his attention and he grins with teeth before pivoting on his heel and heading back up and over to the ring, extending a hand in invitation to Steve. Steve, who is acutely aware of the way the material of the shirt Tony’s wearing is bunching over his hips, steals a much-needed drink from the water bottle he brought in with him before following after Tony like the tide chasing the moon.
Taking Tony’s offered hand and moving up into the ring with one easy step, Steve slides into place fluidly. Tony’s eyes are on him, and Steve has no idea what he’s doing, only that it feels great.
“You ready for this?” he asks, and Tony nods quickly before taking a step back.
“You may have been ready before I was born, but unfortunately for you I was also born ready.”
Steve raises an arm into blocking position and keeps the other loose and at his side. He’s always preferred a defensive style, and it’s a good place to start here. Tony doesn’t have as much experience fighting someone who wants to keep him at arms-length, so Steve keeps his block in place as he starts to move to the right.
True to expectations, Tony comes at him hard from the left, and Steve is more than ready for him. He parries the hit easily, side-stepping and moving out of Tony’s range again. His grin is easy and immediate.
“Gonna have to try harder than that.”
“Just getting started,” Tony promises, and when he comes again it’s lower and faster and Steve actually has to work to deflect Tony’s arm, catching it with his hand and pulling hard to try to throw him off balance. Tony’s become faster since the last time they did this, though, and he doesn’t lose his feet. Instead he slides in closer to Steve’s space and throws his knee up, aiming for a stomach blow.
Steve takes the hit glancingly before throwing an elbow back. He’s surprised and impressed, and Tony circles him with a blinding grin.
“I don’t really settle for being second best at anything. In fact, I don’t really settle.”
Steve just shakes his head.
“Fancy footwork’s well and good, but you need to be able to actually protect yourself too.”
“Says the man used to hiding behind a shield.”
“Says the man who’s about to hand you your ass.”
“Come on, Spangles, let’s go.”
And they do. Tony’s eyes flash as he throws a hit like the one that had caught Clint earlier and Steve catches it, earning a jubilant laugh before Tony turns to the side. Steve retaliates, getting an exclamation of surprise and a quick riposte for his trouble. As hard as he works to keep Tony out, Tony’s pressing into his space, daring Steve to hit harder, move faster.
Their feet find the rhythm like it’s second nature. It’s like dancing or flying and Tony’s laughing like a kid when Steve pulls him in close, eyes even darker than usual right before Steve copies Natasha’s move from earlier and sweeps Tony’s feet clean out from under him.
Steve leans over with the biggest smile he can remember in… a long time, and offers a hand up.
“Ready,” Tony answers, and there are laugh lines around his eyes.
Some nights Steve still thinks about Bucky, Peggy, Howard, and the others. He still misses them and has come to terms with the fact that he always will; the nights when he finds they’re on his mind he lets himself remember the good times and the bad ones so he knows that even if they’re gone he’s still got some part of them. There aren’t many mementos to go around, and anyway there’s not much that can match up to Bucky’s laugh or Peggy’s red lipstick smile.
It’s one of those nights when Tony wanders through the darkened living room in a pin-stripe suit and shiny black shoes. Steve looks up from the couch and cocks an eyebrow, not sure if he’s missed a memo or something else is going on.
“You got a fancy date or something?”
“Nope,” is Tony’s only answer as he collapses onto the couch next to Steve. The lines of his suit jacket crinkle, and Steve is struck for a moment by the thought of how it might look of the floor.
“Well. Good then.”
“Steve shut the fuck up and put something on.”
Steve laughs quietly, and Tony’s warm next to him when he starts up Netflix and pulls up the third season of Battlestar Galactica. (It’s funny, but he can’t quite remember how they got started watching it or how they’re this far through, only that it just seems to happen. He’s pretty fine with that, all things considered.)
Steve knows Tony better than most by now, mostly thanks to a few years of keeping his eyes and ears open. So when one of Tony’s ex-girlfriends destroys three city blocks in a truly spectacular failed attempt to take out Stark Industries, Steve’s the only one who keeps his mouth shut. He’s also the only one who doesn’t get pushed out of the quinjet over New York Harbor.
They’re hanging out backstage at SHIELD, waiting for some agent or other to come and collect them for the press conference that’s scheduled for an hour from now. Tony’s playing with some gadget he’s brought along, and Steve’s leafing through the packet of talking points for the media. It’s the same old stuff, and Tony’ll waltz in and have everyone eating out of his hands in seconds flat anyway, but Steve feels the vague need to at least pretend to have tried.
“I feel like I’m going deaf from all the silence in here, really, it’s deafening. I don’t know how you’re standing it.”
Steve looks up from the papers to see Tony flip his fingers across the screen of whatever it is, eyes scanning rapidly.
“…some of us can handle sitting still for longer than ten minutes.”
“The point is, why bother?”
Tony makes a fist and then spreads his fingers in a quick motion, and suddenly there is the thrum of guitars coming over the room’s sound system. Of course there is. Steve doesn’t even bother to look impressed.
“Are you really risking getting written up again so you can listen to the Rolling Stones for ten minutes?”
“AC/DC, Steve, please. I’ve taught you so much better than this.”
And he has, actually. Steve just likes to annoy him about it as often as he can. Tony puts down the device he was holding, and sits back in his chair.
“I’m reminded of the fact that you missed all the good parts in rock and roll history. We need to get you out to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at some point. Hendrix, Nirvana – much more important than a man on the moon.”
“Of course they are,” Steve answers dryly, but he can’t help a small smile because Tony has started strumming on an imaginary guitar and it’s completely ridiculous and more than a little charming. “Why are you doing that?”
“Hm?” Tony glances up and when he sees Steve watching he just grins crookedly. “Oh come on. I don’t give a damn if you missed the sixties and seventies. Air guitar is a basic human impulse, scientific fact.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s not a thing.”
Tony’s answer is to just play his invisible guitar more obnoxiously, miming putting a pick between his teeth before continuing to play. Steve’s seen his fair share of music videos by this point, and after a minute or so of a crashing guitar solo, he decides that sometimes pride and self-respect just aren’t worth the effort.
“…show me how to do it.”
Tony wheels his chair around the desk so that he’s sitting next to Steve, and he demonstrates how to hold the imaginary instrument.
“Like this. This is a Fender Strat, Rogers, so you have to treat her right.” Tony strums an imaginary chord before gesturing to Steve to do the same.
Attempting to approximate the motion, Steve only makes it halfway through before Tony is making faces at him and waving his hand.
“No, that was terrible. There’s a strap over your shoulder keeping it in place, so you don’t need to worry about holding the guitar up. You just have to play it like this.”
He repeats the motion, fingers dancing up and down, and Steve can actually picture the guitar now, so he manages better on his second effort.
“There. Not so bad, huh?”
“Right! Now, what you need to do is try some different chords, hold it up here and--“
The door opens suddenly, and both Tony and Steve turn around hastily to see who’s just walked in. It’s Clint, who just raises an eyebrow slightly to see them both sitting over nothing, hands suspended in mid-air.
“What are you guys doing?”
“Air guitar lesson,” Tony replies matter-of-factly, and Clint nods like this is completely reasonable. “Come in, you’re letting all the good music out.”
Clint obligingly steps into the room and closes the door after him before walking over and pulling up a chair next to them.
“Stark, if that’s how you play a Fender then we’re going to have problems. You have to tune it, like this…”
When Agent Sitwell walks in on them thirty minutes later they’re rocking out to ‘Thunderstruck’. Clint is on the table - mysteriously missing shoes - with Tony and Steve providing backup and head-banging action, standing back to back on the floor. When Agent Sitwell opens his mouth and closes it again before just turning and walking out, Tony and Steve exchange a look and a smirk while hammering out some badass licks.
The encore takes another twenty minutes.
The night Steve dreams about Tony tangled up in his sheets, hot and shifting under Steve’s hands and then wakes up with a gasp to find that he’s damp, sticky, and mortified, he knows that, good advice or not, he can’t wait any longer. He’s done playing.
Everyone’s dressed to the nines, and Steve’d probably feel out of place if he wasn’t so busy hanging back by the bar and watching the evening’s proceedings. It’s not that he’s being reticent; Steve’s just a strategist by nature and he needs to know the lay of the land before he decides on the play. A couple swirls by in a rustle of gold silk and black satin, and Steve rocks back on his heels slightly.
Rumiko’s here, because of course she is. She’s been keeping court over on the other side of the massive ballroom, and Steve knows she hasn’t said two words to or about Tony all night, but he also knows that she looks beautiful in her long red dress.
He’s distracted momentarily when Pepper appears like magic by his side, something like an actual vision in a sweeping lilac gown that makes her look like a real princess. She hands him a martini glass with a thin smile and they exchange quick nods before turning simultaneously to go back to watching the two people at the party who’ve been holding Steve’s undivided attention.
“…you think I’m doing the right thing?” he asks, because he values Pepper’s opinion.
“She cheated on Tony with Tiberius,” Pepper answers with icicles dripping from her tone. Steve chuckles a laugh at that, because he can’t exactly argue the woman’s poor choice.
“You make a good point.”
“I know I do. Now stop being a wallflower and act like you’ve got someplace you need to be.”
In answer Steve knocks back the drink he’s holding in one quick swallow before handing the glass back to Pepper.
“Can’t say no to a lady.”
Pepper laughs light and free, and that warms Steve more than anything. Straightening his jacket he steps out onto the floor knowing exactly where he’s going.
Tony’s in the middle of sweeping an elderly socialite off her feet, and Steve recognizes her from a different benefit on a different night. Timing is everything so he waits for Tony to drop one hand and step back before he himself walks forward to cut in.
“Excuse me ma’am,” Steve apologizes, “but I was wondering if I might borrow your dance partner for a little.”
The woman laughs and lets go of Tony, who grins at Steve like he hasn’t seen a more welcome sight in a year and a day.
“The Good Captain. You look like you either need more to drink or something a lot more fun in the bathroom.”
“What I need is a dance partner,” Steve says and holds out a hand. Tony doesn’t even pause before he’s taking Steve’s hand and stepping into him.
“I’m not sure I’m comfortable with you leading.”
Steve laughs breathlessly, hands fitting themselves into the proper places while Tony is suddenly close enough that Steve could whisper in his ear.
“Last time I let you lead I ended up with a broken ankle.”
“Sprained. Don’t exaggerate.”
Suddenly Steve’s not worried anymore, doesn’t know why he ever was. The charge in the air is electric but this also feels inherent and spontaneous all at once, as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. He pulls Tony around with confidence he isn’t pretending.
“There’s something to be said for embellishment. You know, go big or go home.”
Tony moves against Steve in a way that has nothing to do with waltzing, and he’s smirking with that roguish charm Steve’s always abhorred and admired.
“You’re setting up a false dichotomy. We could go big and go home.”
Steve laughs and spins Tony out and away from him before pulling him back even closer.
“That an offer, Stark? Because I might just take you up on it.”
“That’s a relief. Or could be.”
“Or I could just cuff you to the bed and leave you there.” This time it’s Tony who laughs, and Steve’s grinning right back when Tony answers.
“Been a while since I went to Vegas, so hell, why not. I’ll take my chances.”
“Or we could go home and play checkers. Bruce has been teaching me. I’m getting better.”
“Steve, don’t make me cut you. I swear to god I’ll find a switch-blade and re-enact The Outsiders.”
“You wouldn’t know how to use a switch-blade if your life depended on it.”
Tony nods, because Steve has a point, and they pivot together before moving more slowly so that they can keep time with the music.
“So are we actually doing this?” Tony asks after a moment, and if Steve didn’t already know he had this, he would be certain now.
“I’m ready whenever you are.”
“Good,” Tony replies, leaning back enough to flash Steve a smile. “Because if I don’t get you out of that suit within the next half hour, my dry cleaners are never going to speak to me again.”
Steve’s still got his fingers tangled together with Tony’s when they slip out the back and into the waiting car. Happy just tosses Tony the keys and makes an excuse about waiting for Pepper, which Tony doesn’t even bother to point out is complete bullshit. They drive home with the top down, wind whipping by in every direction and music blaring as loud as Tony can crank it. It’s twenty minutes of Steve’s life that he’ll only remember as a blur afterwards, but in these moments Steve’s never felt more exhilarated and alive.
The lights are off in the tower, and JARVIS doesn’t turn them on when they stumble up to Steve’s floor, tangled and incapable of making it more than a few feet before there are lips and fingers tasting and pulling.
Steve breathes a laugh against the stubble of Tony’s jaw.
“…this isn’t working. Let’s try something else.”
His hands slide down Tony’s legs and around behind them before hitching them up effortlessly so he can manoeuvre them without any interference. Tony’s yelp of surprise is muffled and turns into a laugh and then a sigh as Steve pushes him up against the wall, his mouth going back to exploring the line of Tony’s neck.
“I didn’t think you being able to pick me up would be a turn-on. Apparently I was wrong.”
Steve laughs against Tony’s skin because he doesn’t know how to do anything else anymore, and he shifts so that he’s holding Tony up with one arm so the other can come up and around to start unbuttoning.
“You don’t know how badly I’ve wanted this.”
“You’ll just have to illustrate,” Tony tells him, hand raking through Steve’s hair. “I’m a big fan of diagrams. Pie charts. Oh, and live demonstrations. Let’s just-“
He’s cut off by Steve’s mouth, and Steve can feel the grin. Tony’s tongue is hot and insistent, and he doesn’t give an inch of ground without fighting the entire way which – Steve wouldn’t expect anything less. When Steve decides to move things to the bed, Tony is already prepared and has a firm grip on Steve’s collar so he can pull Steve down onto the bed after him. They end up a laughing tangle as Tony’s clever hands ease Steve’s shirt off of his shoulders, and after that there’s a different set of words required.
Steve’s hands skim across Tony’s skin, taking in the way his stomach flexes and his pulse flutters in his throat. Tony growls something mostly incoherent and Steve arches down, warm and alive and wanting everything and nothing.
This is falling and flying and breathing and dancing.
Tony’s laid out in the stripe of sunshine across the bed and Steve watches him with a little smile that he immediately tries to hide when Tony shoots him a knowing look.
“Are you being a pervert right now? Steve, you had one job.”
“Yeah, and I thought I did it admirably.”
Tony cants his head a little before smirking and rolling onto his side.
“I thought you were going to get breakfast.”
He was. Recalling this, Steve still can’t quite bring himself to get up.
“How about we get breakfast later? We’ll go over to that diner we went to on New Year’s to sober you up.”
“The one where I then stripped and nearly got us all arrested?”
“We can bring Thor, he likes the pancakes.”
“Fine, but first come here. I’ve got another job for you.”
Steve’s grinning as he moves into the sunshine, his lips travelling to the inside of Tony’s thigh and then upwards. Maybe once upon a time he was a five year plan kind of guy, but these days Steve Rogers knows that all that he can do is live in the moment. And right here in this particular moment Steve has never in his life been happier.