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There have to be times when they're not on guard, where even the Avengers get to take a break; there have to be times like that, or they'll all go slowly out of their minds. Sam knows that, but it's a relief when Steve doesn't need any convincing. In fact, for once it's his idea.

"I was thinking about taking a night off. Just staying in. Maybe I could make dinner, listen to some music." Steve glances at Sam, and if Sam didn't know better, he'd swear that Captain America himself was batting his eyelashes. The killer smile Steve punctuates his expression with just about takes Sam out at the knees, so when Steve says, "Care to join me?," Sam's pretty sure the first seven words out of his mouth are yes yes yes absolutely sounds good yes.

He and Steve have had some nights in, mostly on the road or in the middle of missions, and those have usually been spent talking and joking around and sometimes playing cards. This feels different, though. Dinner? Music? Not their usual how about we go for a burger and watch a game. Not a lesson on pop culture or a night of prep work for a mission to come. Different sounds good to Sam; the question is whether Steve's really throwing the signals Sam's doing his best to catch.

At Steve's apartment, Sam gets tasked with chopping vegetables while Steve pulls together something involving chicken that smells good as soon as it hits the pan. "It looks like you really did figure out the food," Sam says. "Do you eat like this every night you don't have a mission?"

"If you take a look inside my fridge, you'll see the answer to that is 'no'," Steve says, laughing. "Mostly it's takeout, and if I'm in town for enough days in a row I'll keep some bread around and make sandwiches."

"But tonight you had all this around," Sam says, finishing up, getting the smell of onion off his hands at the sink. "Lucky me."

Steve goes quiet, and Sam's known him long enough to know a guilty silence when he hears one. "You know what, I'm going to go get that music going," Steve says, and bolts out of the room. Sam laughs to himself and follows Steve to the living room, where Steve's got one of his LPs in hand and is setting it on the record player.

There's a few seconds of pops and crackles before the guitar riff from 'Trouble Man' comes in, and Sam smiles. "Still one of the greatest albums ever," he says.

"I still think you went easy on me." Steve glances back over his shoulder. He's got that guilty thing under control, and he's back to looking at Sam with a smile that's close to half smirk. "I could've handled 'What's Going On' out of the gate, I promise."

"Busted." Sam laughs. "But you have to admit it's a good gateway to the rest of the Marvin Gaye collection. And if you weren't into soul, it would've saved some awkward conversations."

"I'm okay with awkward conversations. When they're needed." Steve takes a deep breath and heads on over, planting himself face-to-face with Sam. "I've got a question for you."

"Yeah? Is it gonna be awkward?" Sam teases. The signals are about as clear as they can get now, and Sam feels a thrill run down his body straight to his toes. Yes. The answer's yes, Steve. Ask me.

Steve gets right to it, like the straight shooter he is. "I feel like there's been something between us for a while now. Since we met, actually. And don't get me wrong, Sam-- your friendship means the world to me, so if you want to leave it at that, that's fine by me. But I'd like to go a little further than 'just friends'."

"I was pretty sure we were heading in that direction when you asked me over for dinner and music. If you'd thrown in 'dancing', I would've been really sure." Sam grins, stepping just a little closer.

"Oh, if I'd thrown in dancing, I would've blown it. Two left feet." Steve smiles back. "And picking a different Marvin Gaye album seemed like letting someone else do the asking for me, so--"

"Tell me you have 'Let's Get It On' on vinyl," Sam says, craning his head to look behind Steve at his record collection. Steve gets closer and bodychecks Sam with his shoulder, nudging Sam's attention off the records and right back onto the man in front of him. "I'm just saying, asking like that is fine by me."

"I'll keep that in mind in the future," Steve says, and then he's got that hand-in-the-cookie-jar look all over his face, like he let something slip that Sam wasn't already counting on. "I mean-- assuming you're up for that."

"You never struck me as a one-night-stand kind of guy," Sam says. "Hell, I figured if I got a kiss out of you on a first date, I'd be moving fast."

"You can get a kiss out of me." Steve grins. "And I'm pretty sure I can keep up."

"Is that an invitation?" They're getting closer and closer, and Sam's near enough to Steve to notice that he smells even better than dinner does. Twice as edible, too.

"Is that a yes?"

"Yeah," Sam murmurs, and he's not sure which one of them seals the deal, who kisses whom, but it doesn't really matter. Steve's warm and he's sure of himself and he feels better than flying, just as natural a fit. Sam gets an arm around Steve's waist, Steve reaches up to cup Sam's face in his hands, and they break apart for a breath at the same moment. Teamwork at its finest.

"I'm glad you asked me over for dinner," Sam says softly. "Talking of which, I don't want it to go to waste..."

"Me neither." Steve's eyes are bright; he's flushed, he's smiling, he looks happy. Sam did that. It's good to see, even better to feel. Sam feels lit up, and he's pretty sure Steve can read it all over him, too. "How about dinner first, and then we can talk about that other record?"

"Works for me," Sam says. "Lead the way."

-end-