The thing is, Tony totally knows that Steve’s interested.
Like Steve probably thinks that he’s being subtle with the not-looking, and then the looking as soon as Tony’s back is turned, and then the rapid not-looking again seconds later.
But really? Not so subtle.
Neither is the way Steve always sits next to or directly across from him at every single meeting; or the way he smiles at him, all bashful and happy, whenever their eyes meet; or the way he constantly brings food to Tony, because he’s noticed Tony has a habit of skipping meals.
It’s so blatantly, painfully obvious that Steve has the hots for him that Tony’s started making bets with himself as to when Steve is going to finally break under the pressure and ask him out on a walk or to the soda shop or whatever it was guys did back in the day to get a girl. (What? Tony is utterly secure in his masculinity, and if Steve wants to woo him, who is he to stop him?)
The thing is though—and this is a big thing—he keeps losing his bets, because Steve? Has yet to approach him.
And what is up with that? Because Tony is a catch, okay? Tony is the bee’s knees, the cat’s meow, and this is fact—fact, Pepper, and not bragging—this is an impartial third party observation here, because Tony is a fucking multibillionaire, is a superhero who has actually saved the world (and even gotten the odd kitten out of a tree every now and then), and has been on People’s 100 Sexiest Men list. Multiple times.
On the totally biased end of the spectrum, however, he also has a killer sense of humor, is fantastic in bed, and has an ass that won’t quit. The fact that Steve isn’t trying to get up on said ass is disturbing actually. Like, he’s going to give Tony a complex if he’s not careful.
Maybe the problem is that Steve doesn’t realize Tony’s on the market? That could be a thing. He and Pepper stopped seeing each other almost a year ago, but Tony goes out with beautiful women all the time. What can he say? He kind of approaches dating with a waste not-want not attitude, and if gorgeous women are falling into his lap, who is he to deny them?
Of course, he can see how that might be sending the wrong message to Steve.
“Good morning, Tony,” Steve says as he walks into the kitchen, smiling lingeringly at Tony before opening the refrigerator in a hunt for food.
“Morning,” Tony says and takes a drink of his chlorophyll. He could give Steve lessons in the art of the casual, quick-but-thorough once-over, except where would be the fun in that?
“I’m making an omelet. Would you like one?” Steve asks, somehow managing to look unfairly spectacular as he stands framed by the light from the refrigerator, wearing sweats no less, and yeah, okay, maybe the sacrifice is worth it.
Tony sighs and mentally kisses the lovely ladies goodbye.
“That’d be great, thanks.”
A few weeks go by, and Steve still has yet to make a pass. Tony’s right hand hasn’t seen this much action since he hit puberty, and while the number of orgasms he’s had is truly impressive, that really hadn’t been what he’d been aiming for.
Fine, fine. He’s used to testing out various hypotheses until he hits on a solution, so he considers it a minor setback.
Maybe Steve doesn’t know Tony is bi? He does tend to date more women than men after all. Not out of preference so much as the fact that he meets a lot of people at formal parties where the guys all look the same—uncomfortable and bored and like they’re wondering when the next waiter with a tray of hors d' oeuvres or alcohol is going to come around—while the women tend to stand out and shine.
If this is the issue, however, it poses an interesting quandary about how to let slip the information to Steve.
It’s not like Steve ever comes into his bedroom, so he can’t just happen to have sex toys or lube or gay porn lying around. And he doubts that he’ll be able to work “why yes, I can deep-throat a banana!” into a conversation. Not even during breakfast.
He finally just ends up dirty dancing with a hot guy at a club who coincidentally is blond, muscular and gorgeous and lets the paparazzi do with it what they will. Which is a lot, because this isn’t the first time he’s been seen with another man, so all the old photos have to be dragged out for the dog and pony show again.
He doesn’t mind all that much, however, because he is incredibly photogenic. Besides, Steve starts looking at him differently afterward, and it makes Tony’s throat dry, that hint of speculation that he’s never seen before.
Tony wonders if this is karma’s way of making him its bitch for all the times he never called a one-night stand back, because it’s been almost two months, and Steve still hasn’t asked him out. Like he understands the need to go slowly, but there is slow and then there is glacial.
He supposes he could always make the first move, but he likes the idea of Steve coming on—coming to—coming to him.
Well, coming on him too, he’s not going to lie, but that’s not the point. (Although it could be. He’d be more than happy to let it be as a matter of fact.)
(It’s been two months, okay? He’s had to adjust his workout, because the muscles in his right arm were getting bigger than the ones in his left.)
He’s starting to wonder if he should send Steve an anonymous letter listing the merits of why Tony Stark and Steve Rogers should go out, because for all of Steve’s acumen on the battlefield, he’s apparently dumb as a brick when it comes to dating.
Item number one: Steve’s not seeing anyone. Tony’s not seeing anyone either.
Bam! Done deal.
But if Steve needed more convincing—although Tony totally doesn’t understand why he would—he’s also got:
- They’re in the same line of work and would understand the other person working too much and having to cancel dates (although they’ll probably be called out to the same situation, so it’s more like the location of the date and what they do on it has changed rather than the date not happening at all).
- They work well together, anticipating each other’s moves and needs, and it’s as if they’ve known each other for years instead of months.
- They live in the same building and so would save money and lessen the impact on the environment by not having to drive to each other’s homes and by carpooling to functions. (This is obviously not an issue for Tony, but he thinks it would appeal to Steve’s sense of responsibility.)
- They have a lot of fun when they’re together. (Tony hasn’t smiled so much—non-sarcastically at least—in years, and he can always make Steve laugh.)
And if that doesn’t work, Tony could send another letter with the more important stuff like:
- They’re both exceptionally attractive people.
- Tony is rich, rich, rich.
- Tony gives amazing blowjobs.
- Tony can go for hours. (uh huh, that’s right)
And so on and so forth. He’s got tons more bullets, and Tony is willing to write out each and every one of them—well, dictate to JARVIS anyway and have him print them—to get his point across: they’re good together. They should be together. Anyone can see it.
Okay, sure, sure, he hadn’t felt this way when they’d first met—all of Steve’s pretty hadn’t been able to hide the bad attitude, and Tony hadn’t needed all that negativity in his life—but things have changed since then.
For one, Tony thinks Steve has gotten prettier.
For another, Steve is actually the nicest damn person he’s ever met. Like Steve is puppies and rainbows and hot steaming mugs of cocoa with tons of marshmallows, and what can he say? After getting to know him, a person would have to be crazy not to fall a little bit in love with Steve, and Tony’s insane, yeah, but not that kind of insane. It’s obvious that Steve likes him, and he’s made it abundantly clear that he’s . . .
Tony blinks. Hasn’t he?
It’s true that he frequently ditches the rest of the group several times a week, but Steve has to know it’s because he’s in his lab and not out painting the town red, right? And that Tony’s staying home voluntarily instead of laying low because of the furor from all the damn photos?
Even if the media had brought out a lot of pictures (Tony hadn’t remembered that fountain one at all. Or the beach one. Or the pool one. He and bodies of water are apparently a really bad mix when he’s drunk.) with the tabloids screaming headlines like “He’s Been Tony Stark’s Secret Gay Lover For the Last Five Years!” and “He’s Carrying Tony Stark’s Baby!” which, wow.
And while it’s not like Tony has stopped flirting with anyone and everyone, there’s a big difference between flirting and flirting with intent, and surely Steve realizes Tony hasn’t been doing the latter for quite some time now except with him.
Tony can’t help thinking that Steve should, because this means something to Tony, means a whole fucking lot, and he feels like it should be obvious to anyone who sees him, like there’s a little neon sign that flashes “Steve” in the place where his heart used to be.
Unfortunately, thinking Steve should know is very different from Steve actually knowing.
And he’d called Steve an idiot.
“Hey,” Tony says as he sits on the couch next to Steve, close enough that he could reach out and touch him if he wanted.
His fingers flex, but he keeps them squarely in his lap.
“Hi,” Steve says, looking away from the television, even though it’s a climactic moment, Grace Kelly squeezing through the open window of Jimmy Stewart’s neighbor’s apartment while he looks on helplessly. “Bored?” he asks, because that’s what Tony frequently complains about when he visits Steve, demanding he entertain him.
“No,” Tony says this time, however, and he settles in to watch. “I just wanted to hang out with you.”
Steve’s quiet for a moment, but then he lets out a soft, “Oh,” before turning slowly back to the screen.
Tony has been patient. Extremely patient. Mind-bogglingly patient. He’s been so patient that he’s become the patron saint of patience. But enough is enough.
He surrenders; he’s throwing in the towel, laying down his arms, crying uncle, doing whatever he needs to do, because he can’t take anymore. He just can’t. How did the human race survive the forties if this was how long it took to ask someone out?
And oh fuck, he thinks, needing to sit down. How long is going to take to actually get to the sex?
“Steve,” he says, nearly an hour later once he’s feeling better, and after he’s readjusted his workout again.
He rubs his hands over Steve’s arms—oooh, nice—in order to soothe and reassure him, because hell, for all he knows, his forwardness might send Steve running for the hills. “Dear Steve.”
“Yes, Tony?” Steve says, all earnest-like, as if he has no idea what Tony’s about to say, and fuck, he’s lucky he’s so gorgeous. And heroic. And kind and good and ugh, Tony’s got it bad.
“How would you like to go with me—”
“I’d love to,” Steve says warmly, his hands coming up to rest on Tony’s waist.
“I haven’t told you where I want to take you,” he says, although he’s actually pretty damn pleased by Steve’s blanket acceptance.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Steve ducks his head. “I didn’t mean to—I hope I didn’t ruin this for you.”
“What do you mean?” Tony’s eyebrow goes up, although he’s still mostly smiling.
“It’s just, I know you’ve been nervous about this.”
He blinks. “Excuse me?”
“Well . . . Clint told me I should let you take things at your own speed and not rush anything.”
Tony looks at him blankly.
“He said that you’d probably be a little gun-shy after your relationship with Pepper.”
“He did, did he?” Tony says, his voice flat, because oh, no, he did not.
“Yes,” Steve says hesitantly, obviously catching onto Tony’s mood. “Not that I would normally discuss something like this with someone else, but he brought it up one day and made some good points about you probably wanting some time to yourself—”
“You know, that sounds like something Clint would do,” Tony says, and he’s already plotting his revenge, because motherfucker. “I have to say, though, I’m surprised Clint realized anything was going on.”
“Well,” Steve says, his hands tightening gently, “to be fair, you haven’t exactly been subtle. Not that I minded,” he hastens to add.
There are so many things Tony could say to this, so many things, and maybe he will—later—after he’s exacted his terrible vengeance and after he’s made certain that Steve isn’t going anywhere.
In the meantime, however, all he says is, “I’ll show you subtle,” and stops Steve’s huff of laughter the best way he knows how.