"Dance with me."
Steve looked up from his champagne flute—merely decorative, something to do with his hands so he didn't look as horrifically out of place as he felt—with visible surprise. Tony had one hand extended to him in invitation, one corner of his mouth quirked up in fond amusement. Steve wasn't sure what Tony was amused about, but then, Tony always seemed amused by something. If it wasn't his preference for paper books, it was the way he sometimes mouthed out a text message as he wrote it. If it wasn't his weakness for Grey's Anatomy, it was how stunned he still was by the supermarket selection. Steve had given up trying to sort out what made any of that trivial information amusing to Tony; amusement was better than nothing.
It was childish, but Tony's attention was something Steve desired far more strongly than he could've ever anticipated, and if it came in the form of amusement, he could be satisfied with that. He supposed this dance was just another way for Tony to amuse himself, and under different circumstances, he'd be happy to give that to him. As it was, Steve was fairly sure Tony wouldn't find getting his feet stomped on amusing.
"No, thank you," Steve declined, wishing not for the first time that he knew how to dance.
If Tony looked briefly taken aback, he recovered quickly. He moved his outstretched hand to snatch a drink from a passing tray instead, joining Steve against the wall.
"Too busy brooding, are we?" The comment almost sounded bitter, and Steve blinked in surprise. Tony just took a sip of champagne.
"Not brooding," Steve corrected, gesturing with his glass to the area just off the dance floor where most of the chattering crowd was gathered, "Watching."
"Seen one of these, you've seen them all." Tony gave a little sigh, any traces of illusory bitterness gone. Steve must have imagined it. "I'm fairly good at charming people, you know. Practice makes perfect and all that."
"I'm aware." Steve shot him a curious look.
Tony always came to these things with a Pepper-prepared schmooze list longer than Steve's arm. People to talk into dinner meetings, people to convince to buy stock, people to persuade to donate money, on and on. Tony had never seemed to have trouble completing these lists before; he was irresistible when he wanted to be. Steve had a hard time imagining anyone being able to turn him down.
"Someone resisting you?"
"Yes," Tony muttered into his glass, "They're being horribly obtuse."
"What do you want from them?"
"Simple question." Tony swirled his champagne thoughtfully. "Broad answer."
"What's the end goal, then? Dinner, stock, a donation?"
"It's certainly not the end goal, but dinner would be a nice start." Tony's lips quirked up again in that same fond amusement. It was a long moment before Steve realized he was staring at Tony's lips and probably ought to respond.
"Right, well. Why don't you just do what you always do? Isn't it working?"
"Afraid not," Tony mused, "My usual methods are a bit…shameless, frankly, and I'm not sure that version of me is particularly appealing to them."
"You're trying to get someone into bed?" Steve realized, a disapproving frown crossing his features before he could prevent it.
"Ah, there it is." Tony looked particularly amused by that, though Steve wasn't sure what was so funny.
"Pepper tells you who to sleep with?" Steve couldn't help his disgruntled tone of voice. Pepper and Tony's break-up had been both inevitable and amicable, but that still seemed all sorts of strange. Tony just gave a bark of laughter.
"No, Cap. This one's all me."
"I thought you…well." Steve stopped, telling Tony and reminding himself, "It's none of my business."
"Go on." Tony waved a hand, interested. Steve hesitated, before continuing honestly.
"I was under the impression you didn't sleep around anymore."
"What gave you that impression, exactly?"
Tony was toying with him, clearly. Steve could tell from the look on his face alone, both curious and entertained as he led Steve to whatever concluding point he was trying to make. Steve gave an aggravated little sigh, but played along; he'd never been very good at ignoring Tony, not even when he knew full well he was being baited.
"I haven't had my breakfast interrupted by scantily-clad twenty-somethings in months," Steve answered dryly. Just because he couldn't resist playing along didn't mean he couldn't poke a little fun of his own. Tony just laughed.
"Only you would consider gorgeous, half-naked women wandering through the kitchen an 'interruption'."
"I have other things to occupy my time with." Steve rolled his eyes. "I thought you did too, these days."
"I do." Tony bit his lip in concentration, the way he often did when he couldn't quite get a line of coding to slot into place the way he wanted it to. "I'm not starting all that again. I haven't had a one night stand in months, and I'd like to keep it that way."
"You want something serious with this person, then." Steve could feel his emotions rattling about in his chest; curiosity, disappointment, and a fierce jealousy he was quite sure should never see the light of day.
"Very much," Tony murmured, eyes downcast.
"Very." Tony snorted. "It's a part of this maturity thing I'm trying on for size."
"How's that working out for you?" Steve asked. Though his voice was light, he was genuinely interested in the answer.
The idea of Tony in a serious relationship with someone else…it burned more than Steve would've liked to admit. Tony's relationship with Pepper had ended before the team had moved into the Tower together; Steve hadn't been privy to the details then, and by the time he and Tony had become friends, by the time Steve had begun to want more, Tony had returned to his womanizing ways with abandon. The strictly female nature of Tony's encounters had left no ambiguity about the hopelessness of Steve's infatuation, but he'd consoled himself with the fact that at least he only had to see these women in passing.
The idea that he may soon have to sit across the breakfast table from a woman who'd managed to capture Tony's heart only made his own twist miserably.
"I'd like to say it's terrifying," Tony answered at last, swirling his drink thoughtfully, "But that wouldn't really be true. It's interesting how easy things become when you're doing them for someone you love."
"Love," Steve repeated softly, heart in his throat, "Ah. Congratulations."
"Congratulate me when I convince them." Tony shot him a sly look. "As I said, they're being hopelessly obtuse."
"They won't give you a chance?"
"I asked them to dance earlier and they turned me down flat out." Tony was watching him carefully, though Steve wasn't sure what for.
"I find that hard to believe."
"Do you?" Tony's eyebrows jumped. Steve wasn't sure what the surprise was for, until he realized he'd done the exact same thing.
"Maybe they're like me, then," Steve pointed out, "Maybe they can't dance."
"You can't dance?" Tony looked astonished.
"Never learned." Steve shrugged. "Women don't tend to like dancing with a man they could step on. After the serum, someone was going to teach me, but we never found the time."
"That's why you turned me down?" Tony looked eager, of all things, and Steve frowned a bit in confusion.
Tony wasted no time in stealing Steve's champagne glass, placing them both on a nearby table before taking Steve's hand and leading him through the crowd.
"Tony, what are you—?"
"Relax, Capsicle. This is the Van Dyne's place, I practically grew up here," Tony assured him, "I know exactly where to go."
"Dancing lessons." Tony shot Steve an amused smile over his shoulder.
"Unless you have more important things to do. Maybe you need to go back and hold that wall up?"
"No, I—now is fine." Steve was admittedly a little flustered. Tony's hand was very warm in his. "I thought you still needed to impress your special someone?"
"Working on it." Tony answered simply, as if that was the end of it. Steve was still very confused, but knew that trying to make sense of Tony's eccentricities was like trying to fight a hurricane with boxing gloves, and sometimes it was simply better to just go along for the ride.
They left the grand ballroom and made their way up a staircase before turning down one of many identical hallways. Tony glanced into the second doorway on the right, before finding it suitable and leading Steve inside. It was a spacious library, with ornate bookshelves lining most walls, plush couches and side tables near the shelves, and one wall almost entirely glass. The window overlooked the garden, and in the violet-tinged amber of the evening light, Steve could appreciate it's aesthetic appeal. He crossed the room to get a better look, already feeling the itch to sketch it curling in his fingertips.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" Tony came up beside him. "You can say a lot about the Van Dyne's, but they don't do anything halfway."
"They certainly don't." Steve spent another moment taking in the view, before turning back to Tony with a hesitant smile. "So is 'two left feet' still a phrase these days?"
"If you can fight, you can dance," Tony assured him with a laugh, walking more towards the center of the room. It was mostly clear; the couches were closer to the shelves, and there was plenty of space for two people to dance.
"I'm going to step on your toes," Steve told him seriously, though he couldn't help following after Tony, hopeful in spite of his warnings.
"A sacrifice I'm prepared to make." Tony reached into his pocket, pulling out his phone. He flicked through a few selections before setting it on a nearby table. Steve didn't recognize the song, and Tony explained before he could even ask. "This won't have any words to distract you. It's just a little beginner's tune to get you started."
"Oh." Steve listened a moment, contemplating the soft melody and how it was supposed to translate to his body.
"Now." Tony extended a hand with yet another amused smile. "May I have this dance, or are you going to turn me down again?"
Steve accepted with a smile and Tony pulled him close, closer than he'd anticipated. He felt flushed, though hopefully Tony was too busy arranging their hands to notice. Steve's left hand ended up on Tony's right shoulder, while Tony's right hand slipped into place on Steve's hip. Their free hands were clasped together, and Steve was certain he wasn't imagining the way Tony's thumb kept brushing the back of his hand.
"I'll lead, until you get the rhythm of it," Tony told him, "It's a simple 3/4 beat, nothing to worry about. I step forward, you step back. You step forward, I step back, and around and around we go."
Tony stepped forward, projecting his movements, and Steve stepped back as instructed. He glanced up at Tony, who nodded, so he stepped forward—without looking back at their feet, and therefore onto Tony's foot.
"One step in and it's on your toes." Steve stopped moving to groan in embarrassment.
"You'll learn." Tony just tugged him along with a smile. "Come on, keep going."
Steve followed obediently, though he only made it another two steps before he was back on Tony's toes.
"You're going to be black and blue by the time we're done." Steve sighed, though Tony didn't let him pause in his footwork this time.
"Give it a minute." Tony assured him with a chuckle, barely flinching as Steve stepped on his toes once more. "You'll get the hang of it. If you can fight Nazis, you can manage this."
"Apples and oranges, Tony," Steve pointed out.
"Are both fruits, Steve." Tony just smiled back, squeezing his hand. "Relax. Drop your shoulders a bit, loosen up. It's easier if you don't think about it too hard."
"Right." Steve nodded, though the tension wound tight in his chest didn't ease much.
Tony was so close. Steve tried to remind himself of the mysterious woman they'd been talking about only minutes ago, but couldn't stop the pounding of his heart. He felt four feet tall and ninety pounds all over again, not nearly enough to measure up to the captivating force of nature before him. Tony looked so at home in a suit, and though it was one Steve had seen before, he didn't look an inch less handsome for it. The jacket and pants were dark, crisply tailored to every inch of Tony's lean muscle, and the crimson shirt underneath made for a striking contrast.
Steve was reminded of the last time Tony had worn it. Reminded of the way Tony had undone his tie, popping the top buttons and loosening his collar once they were in the car and heading home with the others. Reminded of smooth, tan skin, and the collarbones Steve had spent the entire car ride telling—lying to—himself he didn't want to bite.
They continued to turn, and as the minutes passed Steve's steps grew more certain. He didn't lift his eyes from his traitorous feet for a moment though—he knew the minute he did he'd go right back to stomping all over Tony like a klutz.
"My eyes are up here, you know." Tony laughed eventually.
"I don't want to step on you again." Steve was fairly certain if he had to maintain eye contact this close to Tony while attempting to dance at the same time, he'd spontaneously combust.
"Your faith is nice, but utterly baseless."
"Fine. We'll step it up another way, then." Tony released his hand—it was unfair how hard it was for him not to grab it back like a clingy child—and picked his phone up, keying something in before putting it down again. A different song started, a similar rhythm but with a little more of a jazz feel. "'The Way You Look Tonight'."
"What about the way I look?" Steve frowned, resisting the urge to fiddle with the hem of his jacket. Natasha had helped him select tonight's suit, and had assured him repeatedly that he looked good, but the idea of Tony assessing him made him anxious.
"You're the most handsome man in the room, though you could achieve that with a paper bag," Tony told him, and Steve reminded himself that Tony flirted like he breathed, instinctively and without thought, "But I meant that was the title of the song."
"Oh," Steve murmured.
"You don't believe me." Tony sounded displeased by this.
"Of course not," Steve answered before he could think better of it, "You're in the room."
Tony faltered a step, clearly surprised.
Before Steve could attempt to cover his slip, the lyrics filled the empty space.
Someday, when I'm awfully low / when the world is cold / I will feel a glow just thinking of you / and the way you look tonight.
Tony saved him from further embarrassment by using the hand on Steve's waist to pull him closer, resting his head against Steve's chest. Steve swallowed hard, hoping to God Tony couldn't feel the way his heart was beating like it was ready to pound right out of his chest. What was Tony doing? Why was he getting so close? Why would he—God, did it matter?
It couldn't. Not when Tony fit so perfectly against him. Not when the rasp of Tony's goatee against the bare skin of his neck made him shiver, and his chin was the exact height to rest in Tony's softly tousled hair. Holding Tony this close felt like something had clicked into place at last, and Steve refused to do anything but hold tight to this moment for as long as Tony would let him have it.
Yes you're lovely, never, ever change / keep that breathless charm. Won't you please arrange it? Cause I love you / Just the way you look tonight.
"Have I managed to impress you yet?" Tony murmured, his lips brushing against Steve's neck.
"I thought you still needed to impress your special someone?"
"Working on it."
Steve swallowed hard before giving a soft, speechless exhale.
"I take it that was clear enough for you?" Tony pulled back enough to smile at him, and it was filled with the same fond amusement as always, with maybe just a hint of love.
Steve didn't have an answer. He couldn't imagine one that involved anything more or less than finally leaning into Tony, kissing him with everything he had. It was both exactly and not at all as Steve had dreamed; Tony's lips were rough, a little chapped from the way he bit them when he thought, but he was just as pliant as Steve had always hoped, immediately and enthusiastically responsive.
They managed to keep dancing, even as Steve's rational mind threatened to quit on him entirely. Something about the song kept him swaying, kept his feet turning to the rhythm even as Tony's other hand slipped to his waist, even as they leaned ever closer, kissing until they were both breathless.
Cause I love you / just the way you look tonight.