Steve was supposed to be catching up on recent history, Fury's orders. But someone – surely not Miss Potts, Miss Potts was usually quite kind about not sending them all down the Archives together – had made the mistake of sending Tony down at around the same time to study. It must have been one of the days when Tony was supposed to catch up on history, because instead of heading over to the engineering section and snickering to himself for half an hour like he usually did, Tony came and leaned against Steve's shoulder. Steve managed to ignore the warmth of Tony's hand against his shoulder and Tony's weight pressed against his side for a whole two minutes while Tony flicked through one of Steve's reference books.
The ignoring was probably why Tony skipped the pleasantries and went straight into his latest plans for his Inevitable Army of Robots.
"You can't use robots for everything, Tony," Steve snapped, slapping his book closed, and Tony smirked as he dropped his book on top of Steve's. He looked like he'd won something already, barely leaning back enough that Steve could face him.
"I'm not planning to use them for everything, just the things that don't need the personal touch. Going to classes, saving the world, building more robots..."
Steve put his head in his hands. "Please don't create self-replicating robots, Tony." Wasp and Black Widow had staged a movie night in the dorms under the guise of introducing Steve to more pop culture, but as most of the movie had the message of "robot armies are a terrible idea," Steve suspected he wasn't actually the target audience.
Tony scoffed and patted his shoulder. Even without looking up Steve had the feeling Tony had put a fist on his hip, posing again even with no one else around to see. "I'll do all of the important things myself, it'll be fine."
"You just said —"
"Oh come on, it's not like I'm going to send a life-model decoy to flirt with you instead, what if you liked it more than me?!"
Steve raised his head very slowly.
Tony seemed to realise what he said, and immediately stepped away from Steve. He picked up one of the other books off the table, staring intently at the blurb as he leaned back against the desk. "I mean, Kamala would probably be cool with being tutored by a robot every once in a while, but I'm obviously the best maths tutor in the Academy --"
"Tony," Steve said. "When exactly do you flirt with me?"
For the first time since Steve had come to the Academy, he got to see Tony hesitate. Tony rubbed at his forehead with the hand he wore the repulsor glove on, which had been the surest way to give Steve heart attacks since he came to the Academy. The textbook ended up back on the desk as Tony leaned back. "All the time? That thing we do where we argue a lot because we're friends who want to make out? What've you been calling it?"
"Discussing tactically unsound possibilities for defending the Academy," Steve said absently. So much about Tony's behaviour was falling into place, from the way he'd always seemed to fall into Steve's orbit like he'd been pulled there to the way he'd hesitated. "Do you make armoured suits of everyone you flirt with?"
A slow smile tugged at one corner of Tony's mouth. "No, I make them for everyone I flirt with. I only make them of the people I really like."
Steve groaned and covered his face with one hand, rocking back in his chair. "Tony, pulling pigtails to tell someone you like them was old when I was a kid."
"Oh yeah? And what was your brilliant strategy then?"
Steve smiled crookedly and looked up at Tony from under his hand. "Save the world a couple of times and wait for them to lay one on me."
Tony's eyes went wide, then the smirk was back in full force. He leaned over Steve, his bare hand going back to Steve's shoulder, Tony's face a few inches away from his own. If he hadn't been looking, he might have missed the nervous edge to Tony's smile, or the hesitation before he squeezed Steve's shoulder. There was nothing but perfect casualness in his voice though when he said "Hey Cap, did I ever mention that I saved the world a couple of times?"
"Only a thousand times, really, but who's counting?" And before Tony could come back with something clever, Steve grabbed Tony's jacket and – laid one on him.
Tony obviously hadn't expected that to actually work – he made a surprised sound against Steve's lips, flailing for balance as he half-fell into Steve's lap. But he grabbed Steve's shoulders with both hands, Steve put a hand on his waist to steady him, and somehow it clicked. He couldn't stop smiling into Tony's mouth, satisfaction beaming through him like sunlight, like the feeling of victory when he cut a tank in half with his shield. The hand that had been clenched into Tony's jacket slid up Tony's chest, brushing over the arc reactor without flinching, before it curled gently into Tony's hair, making him sigh.
Tony was the one who pulled away first, more smug than Steve had ever seen him. "See?" he asked, leaning his forehead against Steve's. "I couldn't send a life-model decoy to do – hey!"
Because Steve was laughing again, right in his face, and he tilted his head up again to kiss Tony again. Studying could wait till later.
("But seriously – you're not actually building an army of self-replicating robots."
"Not right now."