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Lace Your Skates

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Tony hit the ice, swore under his breath, and skated back to the other end of the rink. Skate, jump, repeat. He’d been at it for a couple hours now, and the rest of the skaters had gone home. Technically the rink was closed, but Tony had a habit of staying after hours anyway. The rink’s owner, Nick Fury, let him get away with it (albeit grudgingly) in exchange for the publicity that having a professional figure skater as a regular tended to bring him. Tony had to put in a guest appearance at Natasha’s figure skating classes every now and again to keep the man happy, but it was worth it to be able to stay as late as he wanted.

He still hadn’t decided on the entirety on his new routine, but he did have one jump he was determined to land. Tony knew in theory what he needed to do—that part was just physics—but the application was a little tougher.

No one had managed to land a quadruple axel in competition before, and he was determined to be the first.

And yeah, it was about as hard as it sounded.

Tony knew before his skate hit the ice that had messed up. Again. He huffed out an irritated breath, popped a toe loop to make himself feel better (flawless) and skated back around.

Damn it, damn it, damn it! If he tried to bring that to a competition he’d be laughed right out of the rink—

"That was amazing." The comment echoed across the empty room.

Tony started and whirled around to see who had spoken. It was late, and he’d thought for sure that everyone had gone home by now.

There was a man standing at the edge of the rink, watching Tony with an enraptured look on his face. He was handsome, all blonde hair and blue eyes and muscled enough that he could probably easily lift Tony over his head (Tony wanted to try that if he got the chance, and no, he wasn’t talking about couple skating). He wearing the same red polo shirts that all of the ice rink employees wore, but Tony had never seen the man before. The moment Tony's gaze fell on him, he seemed to remember himself. His face heated as though he hadn't expected to say the words out loud, and he backed away from the rail he was leaning on. Tony stopped, skates gliding lazily over the ice.

"That was horrible," Tony said. "I fucked that up, big time."

"Oh," he said, looking skeptical. “It looked pretty good to me.”

Tony resisted the very powerful urge to say so do you and shrugged.

“I need a lot of practice,” Tony said instead.

The smile slid off the man’s face. “Right. Sorry, I shouldn’t distract you—”

“Hey, no, don’t worry about it,” Tony quickly cut him off. He didn’t want the man to go. Tony smiled, waiting for the man to return the gesture before asking, "What's your name?"

"Steve."

"Can you skate?" he asked.

The man shook his head.

Tony eyed his uniform. "How can you work at an ice rink an not know how to skate?"

Steve shrugged.

Tony stuck his hands in his pockets and cocked his head to the side. "I can teach you,” Tony said.

Steve crossed his arms in front of his chest, looking unconvinced.

Tony smiled lazily. "Come on, it'll be fun," he said. He swept an arm back toward his tracks in the ice, "and if you bust your ass, we can just blame the ice for not being smooth enough."

“All right, but just for a little bit,” Steve said. Tony grinned and nodded. He took a couple laps around the rink while Steve went to go fetch a pair of skates from the front desk. When Steve came back, he settled down on the bench next to rink’s entrance to lace up his skates.

Tony skated over to wait for him, and when Steve moved to stand up Tony laughed.

“You might want to take the blade guards off first,” Tony suggested. Steve blushed and sat back down. “You’re new here right? I feel like you’re new.”

“Gee, what gave me away?” Steve asked. Steve stepped out onto the ice gingerly, as though he was expecting to fall through. He kept an iron grip on the railing at the wall, and turned uncertainly to Tony. “Ok, now what?”

“Well, you need to let go of the wall first,” Tony said, tapping him lightly on the arm.

Steve tightened his grip.

"Come on, hey. I won't let you fall," Tony said. Steve gave him a suspicious look but reluctantly let go of the railing. For a moment he stood perfectly still, arms out at his sides for balance. He looked helplessly to Tony, and Tony laughed, offering a hand. "Let's go."

Steve took it and Tony tugged him along, skating backwards to tow him into the middle of the rink.

"Move your feet like this," he said, demonstrating for him. “We’re not…no, put your foot down, you’re not climbing a staircase, there’s no Stairmaster here, just try to glide.”

Steve watched Tony's feet, then tried to imitate the motion. For a moment he looked fine, and then he straightened his knee and his skate went out from under him. Steve pin-wheeled his arms, tried to lean forward to compensate, and pitched forward.

Tony caught him under the arms to keep him on his feet. "Good god, you're a natural," he joked. Steve huffed a laugh, and Tony said, "Just relax. If you think you’re gonna fall and you start to freak out you'll just end up overbalancing."

"I wasn't freaking out," Steve said. Tony hummed in agreement, helping to pull Steve upright again. He kept one hand on his arm to steady him, though it wasn’t really necessary, since the blonde was clinging to his shoulders with both hands.

"Let's try this then. Bend your knees a little," Tony said. He started skating backwards, and Steve made a little noise of surprise. He almost slipped again trying to follow Tony, but managed to keep upright with Tony's help.

"You make this look so easy," Steve said.

“You’re doing fine. You’ll be doing Salchows and Toe Loops in no time.”

“I don’t even know what that means,” Steve admitted. Tony pulled away slightly to go a bit faster, and Steve tugged him back. “Don’t let go!”

“I won’t,” Tony said. Steve was watching their feet, but he looked up through his eyelashes to smile at him.

“Promise?” he asked.

Tony smiled back. “Promise.”