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Planting the American Flag (UNplanting the Union Jack)

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Jan lifted an eyebrow at Natasha. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m going to gather evidence on Fury’s activities by comparing these files. If I just look hard enough, I’m sure I can find it. It’s got to be here somewhere.”

“Okay, but like, have you seen Brian around here? Tony’s been showing him all the hot spots around campus. I was certain the Archives would be on Tony’s list, considering how many times he’s sat down here with a book, but—”

Natasha wasn’t even looking up, and Janet wasn’t sure whether to be offended or resigned. Of the entire student body, Natasha was the most single-minded and focused on Director Fury and the timefog. Sure, everyone else was worried – how could you not be, with a literal purple haze floating on the edges of your campus? – but it was Natasha who seemed to take the timefog as a personal insult.

Still, this was big news.

Natasha.”

With a huff, Natasha glared up at Jan, and Jan glared back down at her.

“I said, have you seen the way Tony’s been escorting Brian around?”

“Everyone’s seen it,” Natasha said, teeth gritted and eyes snapping fire. “Rhodes told me it was good that Tony was ‘making new friends.’ And I already messed up once on Brian. He’s a better spy than I could ever be.”

Janet leaned down, bracing her elbows on the library desk and blocking the files from Natasha’s sight. “Have you seen Steve lately?”

With a snort, Natasha tried to shove Janet off the book, but Janet was going to be stubborn about this. When Natasha was unsuccessful in removing Janet from the desk, she leaned back in the chair and folded her arms, lips stuck out mulishly. “Alright, what’s the problem with Steve?”

“He’s been following them around campus,” Janet said gleefully, fighting not to float upwards. Unable to fully contain herself, she jumped up, but kept her wings from manifesting by the barest of control. “Like, he thinks he’s being sneaky, but it’s like you in that box—”

“Excuse me?” Natasha said, voice outraged.

Janet barreled on, “—and even Sam’s noticed, and you know he tries not to notice anything. Loki noticed, but Loki always picks up on things to make fun of. Anyway, Brian got an upgrade from Tony on his jetpacks, and he was testing them out – he still is, I think—”

“He nearly knocked into the back of my chair,” Natasha growled. “Get to the point, Janet.”

Hurrying, Janet squeaked out, “Anyway, so Steve snuck into the Tower, which is weird, right, no one needs to sneak into the tower, and so I – you know, I took some selfies, a lot of them, and you need a lot of angles to get the best picture, and maaaaybe I took those selfies really close to the Tower’s windows and maaaaybe I didn’t have my front cam on but the back cam—”

Natasha’s eyes were starting to widen, and genuine interest trickled into her face as she leaned forward. “What’d you get? I’ve got something riding on this, Pepper is going to owe me so much coffee you have no idea—”

“I got a picture!” Janet squealed, jumping up, and this time she lost control on her powers and shrunk. Almost immediately, she shoved herself back down to earth and hopped up and down. “I got a picture and you know I think the only one who won was Brian.”

The picture was just as cute as Janet remembered – if a bit more blurry than she had originally thought – but there was Steve, sitting on Tony’s worktable, Tony straddling him and cupping his face gently, their noses touching as Tony leaned in for a kiss, a smug smile on Steve’s face and Tony just looked so at peace, Janet was going to die

“How the hell does Brian win money on this?!” Natasha demanded, snapping her gaze up from the (absolutely adorable) picture to pin Janet with a disbelieving stare. “He’s been on campus for like two days!”

Janet pointedly did not tell Natasha that Brian had not only figured out that there was a betting pool, but that Tony was bisexual and Steve was crushing on him hard, all without anyone introducing him to the concepts or even Tony or Steve. In fact, Tony had first met and talked to Brian today.

Natasha, however, narrowed her eyes at Janet before throwing her hands up in the air. “That’s it. I need Brian to teach me to be a better spy. Obviously I’ve gone rusty somewhere.”

Shoving away from the desk, Natasha stormed away. Janet watched her go before realizing that all the files were still out.

“Hey, Natasha, shouldn’t you put these back where you found them?” Janet called after her.

Natasha lifted a middle finger into the air.

Rude,” Janet muttered, before tapping on her phone and bringing up the picture again. “Though Steve finally got his head out of his ass, and Tony finally got up the courage. They’ve been in the Tower a long time, though… I know Loki was thinking of standing on the balcony and cackling madly about his plans to take over the world. I’m gonna have to head him off, give them some more time and privacy. Anything for my best friend and our student president, right?” she said to passing Sharon.

“Huh?” Sharon asked, confused, but Janet was already on her way to find and stall Loki.

 

Earlier that day…

 

Tony looked up at the knocking sound, and smiled widely at Steve. “Hey, come on in! I think this is like, the first time you’ve stepped foot in the Tower!”

“Yeah,” Steve said, drawing out the word. It was weird enough that Tony paused what he was doing and really studied Steve closely.

Steve was – well, ever since their war because Steve had got his underoos in a wad over the fact that Tony wanted to keep people safe and have robots do the work of fighting – he was pretty self-righteous. It was something that had thrown Tony, and he had no real way to talk to Steve. Steve spent most of his time… dancing, honestly. And he was pretty damned good at it.

…Not that Tony’d ever stood behind Steve for a few minutes and admired that backside. Of course not.

“Steve… you okay?” he asked tentatively.

Steve shifted and twitched through the lower floor, picking up and putting down small tools and pieces of machinery. Tony glanced over at DUM-E, and DUM-E whirred at him as if to say ‘I don’t know what he’s doing, either.’

“Steve?” Tony tried again.

Those broad shoulders were tense when Steve turned to fully face Tony. The smile Steve gave him was… not something Tony had ever seen on Steve’s face. Or, rather, not on Steve’s face while Steve was looking at Tony.

“I wanted some help with my phone.”

The words were so unexpected that Tony couldn’t respond right away. He stared blankly at Steve until Steve’s face fell and the taller male cleared his throat.

“Well… I can always just ask T’Challa. Sorry, I – I didn’t mean to bother you—”

“No, what? Wait – stop, hold up, Steve, you gotta admit – this is weird. It feels like you just yelled at me for robots—”

Steve, who had been holding out his phone the minute Tony began speaking, paused and began to put it back in his jacket’s pocket. “Are – I don’t want a robot phone. This is new enough, thank you.”

“I wasn’t going to—” Tony cut himself off, shaking his head. “You know what, never mind, just give it here, what happened to it?”

“Dropped it,” Steve replied, handing it over and then hopping up on the edge of the table as Tony took the phone and moved over to where his small tools were. “Thought maybe instead of just getting a new phone or dealing with the weird fuzzy spot, you could do something with it.”

“Glorified tech support, that’s me,” Tony murmured, hunching over the table and mumbling under his breath as he squinted. He had no idea what fuzzy spot Steve was talking about – there was a crack, running down the center of the phone, and the corners of the phone were certainly worn down and scuffed. What fuzzy spot? The screen looked perfectly fine beyond the crack.

He moved over to where he kept his supplies, and almost missed Steve saying behind him, “I – you’re much more than tech support. You know that. Right?”

“Huh?” Tony asked, looking up from what he was doing with the phone.

Steve was kicking his heels a little, and it looked like he was – nervous. He was biting his lip, looking at the ground, snatching glances of Tony before turning away, fiddling with the corner of his jacket – and Tony squinted at him, trying to figure out what the problem was.

“You’re more than tech support,” Steve said.

It took Tony a minute to remember what Steve was replying to, and then he felt his cheeks flush a little. Clearing his throat, he flapped his hand dismissively once as he rolled his chair over to the box that held standard screens – he’d been stocking them ever since they got A-Bomb on campus, because honestly the students here broke their phones on a startlingly regular basis. “Ah, don’t worry, Steve, I fix everything around here, you know. Fury literally calls on me to fix, like, satellites and shit. I’m cool. And this is an easy fix. Though I wish you’d take one of my company’s phones. We make the StarIntuit, and it’s rated the most consumer-friendly phone—”

Tony looked up from where he was switching out the screen to see Steve staring at him with this – with this fond look, eyes soft, and Tony promptly lost his train of thought. When he realized he’d been staring at Steve for longer than was socially acceptable, he coughed and felt his ears flush pink.

“What will you give me to take a Starktech phone?” Steve asked.

Tony opened his mouth then closed it. He looked closely at Steve, looking at the false bravado, the really tense and yet preening position of Steve’s shoulders, the way that Steve was fighting to keep his gaze on Tony and not drop his eyes. “Are—” He cut himself off, gnawed on his lower lip. If he was wrong, he could fuck things up bad with Steve, and they’d only just gotten back to being friends after that fiasco with Hydra students on their campus.

But Steve was – Steve was in his tower, was asking for his help, and was plainly checking him out. He couldn’t be reading this wrong, right?

Licking his lips, he tried again. “Are you – flirting with me?”

“You finally caught on?” Steve said, but it didn’t sound condescending, though it could have been taken that way. Fact was, Steve was obviously trying his hardest to remain cool and aloof, and it showed. It made it easier for Tony to slowly smile and put the phone down on the workshop table.

“Well… what would a kiss get me?” Tony asked, walking over with way more swagger than he was really feeling at the moment.

Steve leaned forward, those blue, blue eyes warm and the slightest bit smug. “A kiss would… get me to test your phone for… let’s say, a day.”

“Huh,” Tony said, eyebrows popping up. “Just a day?”

“Just a day,” Steve said, and he leaned back.

It helped so much that Tony could see that Steve wasn’t completely calm, that he was obviously just as invested, and that he was also, obviously, teasing. It made it easier for Tony to be bold, to put his hands on Steve’s knees and hum under his breath. “Welllll…” he said, drawing the word out long and low, “what if I… sat on your lap and gave you two kisses.”

“Mmm, might get you… a day and a half,” Steve murmured, sounding breathless.

“Well, that doesn’t seem like the right conversion ratio,” Tony said pointedly, and he tested leaning his weight on Steve’s knees. He – he wanted to get up there, he wanted to try, since he had this perfect opening, but there was no graceful way to do it. A bit distracted, he continued, “You said one kiss was one day. Shouldn’t two kisses get me two days?”

Steve laughed, and then he was leaning forward and putting his hands on Tony’s waist. The movement surprised Tony, and he jerked his head up to meet Steve’s laughing gaze, eyes crinkled even as his mouth was a solemn line. “You’re right, Tony, my math is a little messed up, isn’t it?”

And then he lifted Tony up and onto his lap.

Hoooly shit that is majorly hot,” Tony breathed, eyes wide, staring down at Steve.

“So… you up for correcting my math?”

Tony giggled helplessly and pressed his forehead against Steve’s. “Fuck that sounds hilarious,” he snickered.

Steve’s smile turned smug. “Do I get some kisses for free?”

“For free?” Tony asked, catching his breath.

“Yeah. Making you smile is like, the best thing to do, you know?”

Tony’s smile smoothed out, and he hummed under his breath. “How about… you date me, I give you a new phone, and we do as many kisses as we like?” he murmured.

“Gee, I wonder how you came up with such a great idea,” Steve said.

You have entirely too smug a smile,” Tony breathed against Steve’s lips. “I think I should kiss it off you.”

“I think you should,” Steve replied.