They don't see a lot of Tony since they've moved to the New Avengers facility outside of New York. When Tony had jokingly said Steve would miss him, Steve had grinned at him, because it was just the thing Stark would say and then had thrown himself to work.
Now it only becomes obvious how much truth there is to it every time Tony rushes in and it's unmistakable that he's there – and Steve suddenly feels lighter. The most surprising thing might be how at home Tony is here despite not being here all that often. He comes in with worry lines and then is smiling for the rest of the day. Rhodey says that he's giving a lot of public talks, that he's been asked to give lectures even and that he's keeping busy with Stark Industries and Pepper and all of that sounds like a more peaceful life than that of an Avenger, but also stressful; exactly like the kind of stress that Steve wouldn't like at all.
“He's giving my armor some necessary upgrades,” Rhodey tells them sometime between team breakfast and training, when they see Tony's fancy car arrive in front of their home. “He lost a bet recently.” He grins, all teeth and twinkling eyes, because obviously that is a private joke.
Steve smiles thinly, because he can't tell why he feels so pained. Rhodes has been Tony's friend for so many years, of course, they are spending time with each other that Steve doesn't know about.
And why would it matter?
He thinks he and Tony are friends and that is all that matters.
So he meets Tony in the hall, realizes that he's already dropped his suit jacket somewhere and is talking about something he wants to work on with Sam. “Let's put the workshop here to the test,” Tony says with a cheerful smile. He notices Steve and pats him on the shoulder while passing. “Good to see you, Cap.”
It's casual. Steve feels suddenly tongue tied. “Good to have you, Tony.” After he says it he feels like it sounded patronizing and awkward and wants to take it back.
He follows Rhodey and Sam as they accompany Tony down to the work area, where War Machine is already propped up and Sam's wing suit is waiting to be looked at and he really wants to just join in, but this is not the kind of conversation he has any place in. So instead he just watches as the three men excitedly discuss ideas and Tony gets more animated with every word. He can see how the ideas are forming and how Tony is making leaps in his head faster than his mouth can keep up with them. “Let's do it,” he says and already has three calculations running and some 3D model of the suits up for inspection.
He knows he's staring from his safe place inside the door. Sam quirks an eyebrow at him and he shrugs. His cheeks feel warm.
Tony looks happy.
Steve thinks he should ask him to be a full time part of the team again. We need you, Tony, he tries out in his mind. The team needs you. None of it sounds right.
I want you here. That sounds much closer to the truth, but he can't say that.
As he looks at Tony, working on stuff and getting excited, falling silent finally while getting really into the work, he thinks that Tony probably misses Banner more than anyone else. Not Steve. He's here because Rhodey asked, not because Steve wants him here.
He leaves and looks in on Wanda, Natasha and Vision training together. They are making a lot of progress with their team work and it's amazing to watch. Natasha nods at him and he understands that everything is in control.
Steve still wants to be down there, watching Tony. It must be the infectious excitement of someone who is so engrossed in his work. His cheeks still feel warm.
Finally he finds a spot at the kitchen counter with his sketchbook. He hasn't really sketched in a while. His skills have deteriorated. He had never been a great artist, but he had been adequate at what he did.
Now his lines are rusty. He can doodle some funny figures, but anything beyond that really needs his full attention. Which is why he doesn't right away notice that he's no longer along and that he's being watched. While he's sketching a familiar form
When he finally notices, it's Tony and his cheek are slightly red as if he's been caught doing something awkward. He looks away from Steve and says. “I wanted coffee. There's a workshop without coffee here and I can't let it stand.”
For some strange reason Steve's heart thumbs loudly in his chest. There's this spark of something in the air he doesn't want to name yet. Perhaps it would be nice to see more of Tony for a while, before he even tries.
“I can bring you coffee,” he suggests and grins and it's the strangest thing to see Tony flustered by something so mundane.
“Okay,” he agrees slowly, drawing the “o” out.
“There's something... I wanted to talk about. The training room could needs some... tech,” he finishes awkwardly, but Tony immediately perks up.
“Okay,” he says more firmly. “What do you need?”
This is how Steve ends up bouncing ideas in Tony's workshop for the rest of the day.
The ache in his chest eases.
He might have a name for this feeling now. At least he thinks so as he puts another cup of coffee down beside Tony's arm as the man's fingers fly over the glass surface of the screen.
“All of this might take a while.”
“We have room,” he tentatively suggests and his heart flutters nervously when Tony looks up and considers that.
“Alright. Don't have to be anywhere till the weekend.”
Yes, he might have a name for the feeling. He might never be ready for it, but at least he can spend time with his friend and make sure this team doesn't drift apart. And Tony will stay for a while.
He has something to look forward to.