Tony hides a sigh in his champagne flute and flashes a fixed smile at the buxom debutante flashing her goods his way. It’s not that he doesn’t appreciate her enthusiasm, and a few years back, she probably would have had a guaranteed lovely night in his penthouse, but he hasn’t really been feeling the whole one-night-stand thing since he and Pepper tanked. Luckily, she finishes her drink and gives him the perfect out. He snatches her empty glass, gives her a patented Stark wink, and promises to bring her a new one. Of course he’ll get “accidentally” waylaid by eager, elderly donors along the way, and “oh, what a shame, I’m so sorry, maybe next time.” She’ll find some other hotter, younger thing to warm her bed, and they’ll both be happier for it.
On his way to the bar though, it’s not some charming elderly couple who waylays him. It’s Ty Stone. Tony’s smile becomes, if anything, more fixed.
“Tony, baby, long time no see.”
He puts his massive hand on Tony’s shoulder, heavy and hard as Obie’s used to be, and squeezes. Under the silk of his tux shirt, Tony shivers and turns slightly, both facing Ty and freeing himself of that groping claw.
“Ty. What brings you to the East Coast? In winter no less.”
“I know, right. It’s terrible. I don’t know how you stand this misery. But I’m out for a potential acquisition. A certain media company is rumored to be folding soon, and we’re planning to be their savior.”
Ty sips his drink with all the satisfaction of a snake, and then flashes Tony a nuclear white grin. “But tonight’s not about business, is it Tony? Charity. Warm fuzzy feelings. All that jazz. Let’s talk pleasure.” He tilts his head suggestively and steps into Tony’s personal space, a covetous hand on Tony’s elbow. “We used to have such fun, Tony. And I have missed you.”
Tony can’t fight his shudder, even as his traitorous mouth opens to spit an entendre, but then someone knocks into Ty’s back and drinks go flying.
“I am so sorry.” Thick Brooklyn accent, an aw-shucks grin, and Steve is suddenly between them, dabbing at Ty’s suit with a pocket square. “I just…I must notta been lookin’ where I was goin’. I’m so sorry—“ He let’s it hang in the air, looking at Ty expectantly.
“Tiberius Stone of Stone Unlimited. Tony and I go way back.”
“Really?” Steve says, his eyes almost comically wide as they dart between Tony and Ty. “He’s never mentioned you.”
Ty sneers faintly at that, and shakes his wrist with disgust. “Excuse me, gentlemen. I just need to—“ He let’s the thought dangle and storms off, stiff-backed and red at the neck. Steve watches him go, his eyes hardening and his smile disappearing.
“What rock did he crawl out from under?”
“Hollywood,” Tony says with equal disdain, and drops his champagne flute on a passing waiter’s tray. There’s a sour taste in his mouth, and he glances around the room, wondering if Pepper will have his balls if he leaves early. As though reading his mind, Steve says, “Let’s get out of here. Room’s gettin’ stuffy.”
Without waiting for a reply, he threads his arm under Tony’s elbow and leads him out to the coat check, foot tapping impatiently as the clerk brings out their coats. Happy brings round the limo and Steve climbs in without so much as a by your leave.
“Didn’t you come with Nat, tonight?”
“She and Clint ducked out ages ago. Think they were gonna watch a movie with Buck or something.”
They sit across from each other in silence, watching the chilly streets of Manhattan whirl by. At length, Tony shifts and says, “Thanks for the save back there. Sorry I kind of ruined your night.”
“Tony, that guy looked like he was about two minutes from biting you like a rattlesnake. It was the least I could do.”
“Well, still. Thanks.”
Steve shuffles back and forth on his thighs, huffs a little, and stares out the window. Tony watches him for a moment, shrugs, and goes back to his own quiet contemplation of the empty January streets. At one point, Steve slumps and their knees touch, but he sits up again almost immediately, chin on his fist.
Happy pulls straight into the garage, tips his hat to them both, and then heads off to his own car. He seems happier being back on driving and security detail, but Tony still wonders if he likes New York all that much, or if it reminds him of his boxing days. In silence, he and Steve make their way to the Avengers private elevator and step in, both of them staring down awkwardly at their shining black shoes.
“You didn’t ruin my night,” Steve says suddenly, and Tony looks up. “I…I was never much for the song and dance. You know. The whole ‘bullet in your best guy’s gun’ thing.”
Tony stares at him a moment and then looks at his own reflection in the elevator doors. “You wanna watch a movie? Since your date ditched you to watch a movie?”
Steve blinks at him from under thick eyelashes. After a moment he smiles. “Yeah, Tony. Yeah. I’d like that.”