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Night Out

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Steve’s too old to even be familiar with the concept of “dinner and a movie”. Which is probably a good thing, Tony isn’t very good at sitting through movies anyway. He needs to be doing something with his hands and most people get pissy about tablets and phones in movie theaters.

Anyway, it doesn’t seem to matter much to Steve that he’s not familiar with modern dating rituals.

He does bring Tony flowers.

Tony stares at them.

For like, a whole minute.

Steve scratches at his forehead, shoulders hunching. “Is that— I mean, are you allergic? Or. I always thought they were nice, but I couldn’t ever afford them, not that there was anyone to give them to anyhow, and they really made my, ah, asthma flare up and— Sorry.”

Tony sticks the bouquet in his face to shut him up. “They’re great.”

Steve swallows, blue eyes wide and bright, shockingly blue above the red flowers in the bouquet. “Really?” he says, muffled by the flowers.

“Yes,” Tony says decisively. “They’re pretty. They smell great—” They really do smell fantastic. He kind of wants to bury his face in them, but resists the urge. “Nobody’s ever gotten me flowers before.”

Steve fidgets again. “Is that…”

Tony smacks him with the bouquet again. “Shut up.”

When he pulls it back, there’s a petal stuck to Steve’s lip. Tony just about swallows his tongue. He waves at his own mouth with a finger. “You’ve got a—”

Steve plucks it off and his head ducks, fingers rubbing at the petal. “I don’t…do this much,” he admits and sneaks a look up at Tony, whose heart does a clumsy barrel roll in his chest. He feels like a goddamn teenager.

“Well, you’re doing great.”


~



Steve takes him to the opening of a new exhibit at the New York Hall of Science. “Do you even like science?” Tony asks incredulously as they walk toward the building. He’s trying very hard not to break into a jog. There’s not a whole hell of a lot that he doesn’t know about going on in the industry, but there are supposed to be prototypes of some of the best mechanical engineering work being done in there and he’s never turned down a chance to see another engineer’s work, no matter how shoddy. Even idiots have good ideas now and then.

Steve shrugs. “I like what science does. What it can mean for people.”

“So that’s a no,” Tony says, teasing.

Steve flushes and scratches at his forehead. Tony’s starting to like that gesture a lot. He’s never seen it before now and he gets the feeling its related to Steve being nervous around him in a way that no one ever has been before and it gives him teenaged butterflies all over the place. Rhodey would laugh himself sick.

“I like it well enough,” Steve says.

There haven’t been a whole lot of people that have taken the time to figure out what Tony really likes, let alone the time to arrange to do and enjoy that thing with him. Especially when it's not their thing.

“Thanks,” Tony says, thumb toying with his mustache, his eyes on the ground. “You know. For this.”

“My pleasure,” Steve replies, and his voice is quiet, private.

Just for Tony.



~



They spend an hour and a half looking at the prototypes, Tony talking endlessly about everything from the basics of mechanical engineering to how he could potentially integrate some of what he’s seen into the Iron Man suit designs. Steve listens raptly, brow furrowed to create a little line right between his eyebrows. At the start of the night, he keeps asking Tony to slow down, but by the time they reach the last prototype, he’s keeping up pretty well, asking the occasional question that sends Tony spinning off in a new direction.

By the time they leave, Tony’s exhilarated, completely high on the rush of inspiration and he bounces out into the night, oblivious to the sharp chill that’s crept into the breeze. Steve’s expression is soft, a warm smile that feels like it goes straight to Tony’s bones.

That look is enough to temper the powerful urge to go running back to the workshop, to dive in and see what he can do with all the new ideas he has.

“Remind me,” Tony says, “remind me later that I need to figure out that fuselage thing from the second prototype—the purple one?”

Steve slants his gaze sideways at Tony, smiling indulgently. “Okay, Tony. Sure thing.”

They’re walking close together and Steve’s got his jacket slung over his far shoulder. The near one bumps Tony’s, and his fingers brush over Tony’s knuckles.

The realization that Steve is subtly testing to see whether or not he can hold Tony’s hand makes Tony’s stomach do a loop de loop, followed by a nose dive. He can’t quite breathe as he spreads his fingers and brushes them against the inside of Steve’s. They slot into place and Steve turns daring, taking a firm hold of Tony’s hand, their fingers threaded together.

Tony forgets all about suit mods.



~



“I threw a lot of jargon at you in there,” Tony says as they meander past the Unisphere. The buzz of discovery and the warmth from the museum are starting to fade. His nose is cold.

Steve huffs. “You always throw a lot of jargon at me.”

“To be fair, jargon is the most efficient means of communicating most of what I say.”

Steve quirks an eyebrow. “It’s more efficient to repeat yourself?”

“Well, there is an inherent flaw in the system, in that nobody else knows the jargon,” he admits and shivers. “It should be the most efficient way to communicate what I’m trying to say.”

Steve wriggles his hand free and Tony glances over, confused and disappointed by the loss, until he sees Steve pulling his jacket around, holding it out.

“Here,” he says. “You’re cold.”

“Only a little,” Tony says, staring at him, dumbfounded. “And you—”

“I’m fine,” Steve says. “Cold doesn’t bother me. I run a little hot.”

Tony feels like he shouldn’t, but he can’t find the words to form another excuse, so he threads his arms into the sleeves, sighing at the immediate relief. The jacket is leather, heavy and toasty warm in seconds. It smells so good that Tony forgets what he’s doing for a second and buries his face in it, inhaling deeply.

“Better?” Steve says, amused.

“Perfect,” Tony mutters.


~


Back at the Tower, Tony slides easily back out of the jacket, even though he’s sad to give it up and he folds it over his arm before offering it back to Steve.

“Thanks,” Steve says, and catches Tony’s arm before he can pull it back. “I had a really great time tonight, Tony.”

Tony blinks at him and stutters, “I— Yeah— Me, I mean, me too. This was the most fun I think I’ve ever had, sober anyway.”

Steve huffs, eyes crinkling at the corners and Tony’s heart jitterbugs. “I’d like to do it again.”

“Yeah,” Tony agrees, “time and place. You name it.”

The elevator slows, and Steve’s long eyelashes drop lower and lower, until the blue of his eyes is hidden completely and his lips are on Tony’s, soft and full and—

Tony nearly staggers into Steve's chest when he pulls back. “Good night, Tony,” he says, voice gone soft and a little hoarse. He squeezes Tony’s fingers and then steps out of the elevator.

Tony stares after him, feeling like he’s just been knocked ass over teakettle. The door closes and he realizes he hadn’t even replied.

“Shit!” he hisses and lunges across the car, smashing the door open button. It slides serenely back open and he blurts, “Good night, Steve.”

Already halfway across the room, Steve turns back, ducks his head, and smiles.