“Okay, once more with feeling, because what the hell, I clearly have nothing going on. No. You do not need to speak to Captain America right now. Or in the next five minutes. Or five minutes ago, either. Capische?”
“Mr. Stark, regardless of your opinions, time is of the essence. Minds are being decided as we speak! It’s extremely important that we get—”
Tony clears his throat hard into his napkin. “You know, you’re right, time is of the essence. And as we speak, it is twelve-oh-nine in the afternoon. Lunchtime. Which, as you may notice—” He gestures to the spread of half-eaten tortas between him and Steve, carnitas spilling out of one, a gorgeous heap of grilled steak and onions barely contained in another, and pico de gallo and still-warm tortilla chips and everything they could carry from the salsa bar, and oh god, Tony’s hungry, and if Tony’s hungry, then Steve—
“Excuse me, but the fate of our country is at stake. Food is a trivial concern next to the future of families everywhere.”
“My god, you’re right, today California, tomorrow Alpha Centauri!” Tony crows, touching his fingers to his mouth. “Whatever shall we tell the Asgardians? Listen, he said no. Two weeks ago. And five days ago, and fifteen hours ago when you tried to spam his cellphone. Repetition ad nauseum does not a spokesperson blackmail.” He keeps his smile on the interlopers and their pamphlets, and wishes he hadn’t lobbied so strenuously for a patio seat. But the weather was just so nice, and Steve hadn’t had a day free for lunch in over a week, and Tony was going into withdrawal. He tries not to get this way when certain boundaries still exist, he’s told himself over and over, but. He had the honest-to-god shakes. And Steve...
Well, the last time he glanced Steve’s way, Steve was getting that look he gets right before he charges headlong into a Skrull’s midsection. Literally, cranium to ribs, or whatever the Skrulls have protecting their guts. It works spectacularly on the surprise front, and also crushes internal organs, so.
“Mr. Stark, what gives you any right to speak for Captain Rogers?” and Steve frowns, and that’s. That is just it. Tony sets his napkin down on the table with a bang that turns all the heads that weren’t already facing them. The waiter trying to maneuver his tray of drinks around the crowd of idiots stops dead and stares.
“I give myself the right,” Tony snaps. Because, shit, Steve has spoken for himself. Again and again and again, and still they keep coming, like anyone ever wore Captain America down by sheer persistence. Tony hasn’t even done that, and he’s Tony Stark, and there are things he wants but cannot have, and he’s damn well okay with that because that’s the way things are. The fact that he wishes differently doesn’t change a fucking thing. It’s not like he cries and whines about it (at least, not in public). “I choose to stand in your way and speak for him, because I am his friend, and I sure as hell will not let you disrespect him like this.”
“We don’t mean any disrespect towards Captain Rogers,” one of the women admonishes primly, like Tony is a five-year-old who desperately needs a dressing down. “He is the bastion of American sensibilities and a role model for millions. Why should he not want to stand up for what America truly stands for? Good solid God-fearing beliefs—”
“His reasons for not representing your position are not your business.” Tony stands up from his chair, forcing the posse to back up a step. “His time is not yours, his personal life does not belong to you, and his good solid whatever beliefs are up to him and however he wants to use them. Or not. Excuse me?” He gestures to the waiter with the drinks. “There’s a massive tip in it for you if this food is packed up in less than a minute.”
“We don’t expect you to understand our cause, Mr. Stark. It’s clear that you are very different from your compatriot here in terms of moral values, and we applaud Captain Rogers for making the effort to stand beside you in battle—”
“Oh, you do, do you? That’s, you know what, that’s really big of you, thank you for your incomparable blessing—”
“—regardless of your conflicting priorities. But we must all think of the bigger picture here. All we are asking is for him to step forward and put a face everyone knows to a belief everyone should hold close to their hearts.”
“That’s it,” Steve says out of nowhere. It’s quiet, no louder than a murmur, and yet everyone looks his way. Tony turns, ready to pull him up and lead him out of there, doggie bags or not, but Steve’s already standing, placing his napkin neatly on the table and brushing his fingers off against each other. He takes a drink of his water, swirls it in his mouth and swallows, then comes around the table. He doesn’t look angry, which is weird, because Tony’s damned angry, and sad, and just, he hates this, he hates that they’re reduced to this during a simple lunch outing, two guys taking a well-deserved break. He raises his hands, ready to placate, but Steve reaches out, closes fingers around Tony’s wrist, and pulls him forward. He skates a palm down Tony’s nape, tilting Tony’s face up automatically, and kisses him openmouthed.
And then. Keeps going. Hauls Tony in at the hips until his front is all up against Steve’s chest, and Tony can feel the heat of Steve’s thighs, and there’s an arm locked around his waist, and Steve’s tongue laves his teeth and then the rest of his mouth, and then again, and Tony’s limbs go loose all on their own, and Steve just drags him even closer and holy shit.
Gasps, a shout of laughter, and even an outraged cry bounce around the patio, and still Steve kisses him, straight up, like he’s got a well-thumbed checklist of things that make Tony’s disparate parts ping off in every direction. This is a bedroom kiss, this is a naked lavishing of parts of himself that Tony doesn’t show to just anyone, this is a shiver away from indecent hip rolls and hands traveling too far south and absolutely ruined hair. Steve’s hand fists in the back of Tony’s Armani jacket, and Tony whimpers the way he did the first time he ever kissed another person. Finally, finally manages to kiss back.
It’s a while before Steve pulls away, and then it’s a gentle tilt out of the kiss, breaths slipping together in twin huffs. Steve bumps Tony’s nose very deliberately with his own. His eyelashes are long, beautiful. They hide his eyes, hide them and hide them, and then, oh, all of a sudden Tony’s looking at Steve, and Steve’s looking right back.
“Bucket list,” Tony croaks. “Check.”
“Hold out for more,” Steve rumbles, nearly against Tony’s mouth, and Tony, wow, he hasn’t been speechless like this in decades.
An instant later, Steve straightens. Turns. Raises an eyebrow at the absolutely shocked look on the group leader’s face.
“You asked me for a stand.” There’s a whole lot of warning in his tone. Tony’s feeling a little bit toasty under the collar. “Never said you were going to like where I put my foot down.”
“You…” The man swallows. Behind him, the woman looks like someone has just hit her with a naked porn star. The man’s jaw works, and then firms into something very like a pout. “You are no longer the face of America.”
Steve’s other brow goes up. “My face hasn’t changed,” he says. “Yours, however, looks a hell of a lot more ignorant.”
He threads his fingers through Tony’s—and Tony, well, he’s moved onto the just going with it portion of the afternoon, because hey—and leads him away from the table. The crowd parts and closes around them, and then the waiter as well when he rushes up with bags of takeout. The kid gives them both a helpless grin and salutes right in front of everyone.
Once on the sidewalk—and still passing groups of people who saw the whole thing and are now watching them in varying states of fixation—Tony fully expects Steve to release him. But Steve’s fingers only clench tighter. He actually pulls Tony closer.
Tony grins up at him for a whole block and a half before Steve grunts. The skin of his throat has gone fairly pink, but the set to his jaw hasn’t given way one iota.
“What?” Steve mutters. His eyes flick and fix back ahead. “Good a time as any.”
To tell me that you… what? Tony pinches his lips together between his teeth. “Are you gay?”
Steve shrugs. “I’m me. Not apologizing for it. You never do.”
And Tony—Well. Tony kisses him again. Because every respectable YouTube video should have a sequel.