Steve walked in the room and everyone immediately fell silent.
That was never good.
He slowed to a halt and raked his eyes over his teammates. They were all looking back at him; Tony was smirking, but the corners of his eyes were crinkled with tension, Bruce was blushing, Natasha looked sad, and Clint was eating yogurt right out of the tub. Thor just looked confused.
"What?" Steve asked.
Their eyes flicked from him to each other, each of them managing to express, "After you," while quietly absolving themselves of telling Steve whatever it was they weren't telling him. Tony finally stepped up, though he it turned out he was hardly taking pity on Steve. "Have fun last weekend?" he asked through a twitchy smirk.
Steve narrowed his eyes. He walked into the kitchen and grabbed a soda then came back to the couch to lean over the back and see what they were doing. One of Tony's tablets was propped up on a stand on the coffee table and a video was paused on screen. It was dark and blurry and the image filled the whole screen so Steve couldn't see the title.
He tried to think back to last weekend. He'd… gone to see a movie. It was alright. "I guess?"
The team shared a significant look then Tony snatched up the tablet, folding its case around it deftly. Bruce aggressively changed the subject. "I'm going to the grocery store, anyone want anything?"
"I'll come with you," Natasha offered, pointedly avoiding Steve's eye.
"Get applesauce and hot dogs," Clint said.
Bruce's lip curled. "Not to be eaten together, I hope."
"You're not the boss of me!"' Clint grinned in Bruce's direction then disappeared down the stairs.
Natasha and Bruce collected grocery bags and made for the elevator.
Steve turned to Thor. "What were you all watching when I came in?" He didn't miss Thor's eyes flicking over to Tony.
"Oh, nothing that concerns you," he said too lightly. "The others were just introducing me to some of the more interesting aspects of modern Midgardian media." He smiled too wide. "Well, must be off, I have a date tonight. I'm sure you understand, Captain."
"...not really?" Steve said to empty air as Thor wound up Mjolnir and rocketed out of the window JARVIS opened for him. Steve looked back to ask Tony what had just happened, but the room was empty, and Tony's tablet was gone too. "What?" Steve asked the couch instead.
He sipped his soda, settling on the couch cushions, but he couldn't get comfortable. They were up to something… "Hey, JARVIS?"
"Can you tell me what they were all looking at?"
"My apologies, Captain, but search histories are private data."
Steve sighed. "Yeah, that's probably all for the best." He certainly had a few things in his that he was glad no one would ever see. Searches on disreputable sites that included keywords like "dark hair" and "goatee" and "moaning."
It was probably just as Thor had said, some modern meme or fad that they knew Steve wouldn't like. Or maybe #spanglyass was trending on Twitter again, if someone had caught another shot of him bending over in the suit.
Steve managed to put it out of his mind for the rest of the day. He went about his business, somehow not bumping into any of the other Avengers until it was nearly dinner time. He walked into the kitchen to find Clint, Nat, and Bruce preparing spaghetti for everyone.
"Where's Tony?" Nat asked when Steve shuffled over and snuck a crouton out of the salad she was assembling.
Steve shrugged. "I haven't seen him all day."
"He's in the lab," Bruce offered from behind the steam of a pot of tomato sauce and meatballs. "I texted him half an hour ago to come up, but he said he'd be ten minutes. Which we all know means two hours."
"I'll get him." Steve snagged another crouton, dodging Nat's aggressive salad tong maneuvers. He walked out of the kitchen, feeling intense eyes on the back of his neck from the team.
The lab was empty, however, when Steve pushed through the door. The lights were dimmed except for right over Tony's work space, and it made the vast room feel small and cozy. "Tony?" There was no answer.
Steve was about to ask JARVIS where Tony was, when his eyes alighted on Tony’s tablet, instead, lying on the edge of his desk, on top of a stack of file folders.
Steve shuffled closer. Now he could find out what everyone had been watching that morning. Maybe he'd show them all up by finding it funny after all and they'd stop assuming he was the fuddy duddy of the group, unable to join in on an inside joke.
Steve picked up the tablet and swiped it open. There was no code to unlock it, one slide of his finger and it opened. And that meant Tony wouldn't mind, right? Because if he had anything to hide, he'd lock it.
It was a weak argument, Steve knew it, but he couldn't forget the way the group had stared at him that morning, wide eyed and tense, like they'd been caught stealing from a cookie jar Steve had told them expressly to save until after dinner.
He opened the browser and instead of needing to click the history, the last viewed video popped up on its own. Steve hit play and his mouth fell open. It was porn. What on Earth were the Avengers doing watching porn toget-
Steve scrolled down to find the title and choked on his own spit.
Captain America sex tape - fucking his girlfriend until she screams!! Leaked footage!!
He scrolled back up and watched in abject horror as a man who looked shockingly similar to him stripped down in a nondescript hotel room. An excellent replica of the shield rested against a wall in the corner, one side of it out of view of the camera which appeared to be sitting on a table near the bed. The woman was slight and dark-haired, and, in the gritty light, looked a bit like a woman Steve had been photographed with a few times over the last couple of weeks. There'd been a tiny bit of speculation about the two of them and Steve had brushed them all off with a, "No comment."
The truth was that Steve was somewhat embarrassed to admit that he'd been interviewing her to be his new social media manager. He'd never wanted one, but after his third misuse of Twitter, Darcy had gently suggested that he get one.
But this was… this was someone impersonating him, and her, or someone near enough like her that people could believe he had a type, and trying to make it look like they were together and they'd recorded a - a sex tape. Lord.
Steve watched, horrified, but unable to look away, as the guy playing him kissed his way down her bare chest, pausing to suck each nipple into his mouth. His cheeks flushed when the man slipped lower, and Steve scrolled down quickly to see what the comments were saying. Every new comment piled more and more horror into his already bursting chest. People thought it was real, thought it was really him with his girlfriend. Having sex.
Tony'd seen it. Tony thought that too now.
"I was kind of hoping you wouldn't see that," came a voice from behind him, and Steve jumped, nearly throwing the tablet across the room like the shield. But it was only Tony behind him, hair damp and still in a cloud of steam. He was only wearing boxers and a t-shirt, but he stepped past the desk and rummaged around in a bin until he came up with a pair of pants. "Sorry I'm late for dinner, I spilled a little science and needed a decon shower. Fresh as a daisy now. Smell me!" He smiled and raised his arm, but the smile didn't last long when Steve failed to return it with one of his own.
He raised the tablet and shook it in Tony's general direction. "What. Is this?"
"Your sex tape?" Tony shrugged. "Welcome to the club, Cap, we've got pins and everything. I wonder if your hit count will beat mine."
"This isn't a joke." Steve pushed to his feet, his anger and fear and frustration radiating off him in waves. Tony took a careful step backwards, and Steve tried to reign himself in a little. This wasn't Tony's fault. "You were watching it this morning, weren't you? Why didn't you tell me?"
"I was hoping you'd never find out," Tony admitted. "I already have a team of lawyers on it, they'll get it taken down."
"But people have already seen it… the others have seen it… you've seen it. I know how this works." Steve started pacing across the lab, still clutching the tablet. "They'll get it taken down but it's too late. And you can't get things removed from the internet, not really. It'll be out there, shared around. Fuck."
"Steve, calm down." Tony took a step towards him, hand out. He shifted into Steve's path and brought him to a halt. "So America has seen your dick? It's not that big a deal. It'll blow over, faster than you think, especially if you don't make a big thing out of it. Though from what I've seen, you have every reason to make a very big deal out it."
"I don't care if America has seen my dick, Tony!" Steve finally yelled.
"I don't care about that. I'm not - I'm not embarrassed about being seen naked or being associated with sex. This - Tony this is a lie. You have to believe me. It's not me. I would never -"
"Wait, wait, Steve, darling." Tony's hand landed on Steve's forearm and he flushed at the new pet name. "You don't think that we all think this is real, do you?"
"You… don't you?"
"No! Of course not. I was just joking about America seeing your dick. I know that's not really your dick. He looks like you, but he's obviously not. Other people, some of the public, they might think it's real, even once my team has proven its a fake and sued the ever-living fuck out of whoever did this. But they also have the memory of gnats so they'll move on to the next thing. Steve, I'm really sorry. I honestly didn't think this would bother you so much. Did you talk to your lady? Is she upset? If she needs security or anything, I can have some sent over. Or she can stay here."
"No!" Steve let out a long, slow breath and deflated back down onto Tony's chair. He tossed the tablet back onto the table and dropped his face into his hands. "This is what I was worried about."
Tony crouched down in front of him, and Steve could feel Tony's knee braced against his calf. "What were you worried about?"
"That -uh - people would see it and think I was seeing someone, think I was, um, interested in women..."
There was a long beat of silence.
"But… you're not?" Tony tried tentatively.
Steve peeked an eye out of from between his fingers. "Which one?" he gasped through half a breath. The other half didn't seem to want to make its way into his lungs.
"No… I'm not. Either. I'm - uh - single. And gay. Very gay." Steve gestured towards the tablet. "The woman I've been seen with a few times is Lydia, my new image manager. I guess there were just enough pictures of us having an interview at a cafe that people thought we were dating. Or at least that I had a type. They don't actually know who she is, she's very under-the-radar, so she'll be fine. But the world thinks I have a girlfriend that I make sex tapes with."
"Oh, shit, Steve. I'm so sorry. I had no idea."
"I know… you couldn't have." Steve let out another deep sigh. "Because I haven't told anyone."
"You don't have to," Tony said hurriedly. "I'll get more lawyers on it. We'll get it down ASAP, we'll deep frown and scoff and say 'do you really think that's Steve Rogers? It looks nothing like him.' and no one will believe it. I've got PR people, I can make this go away. And no one needs to know anything you don't want them to know Steve. It's up to you when you want to come out."
"But…" Steve picked up the tablet again, just for something to do with his hands. "Maybe I should? Maybe this is a sign that it's time. I don't want every woman I spend any time with to be shackled to me indefinitely. I don't want people making look-a-like porn of my PR person, just because I've never dated anyone."
"You know..." Tony drawled. "The simplest way to come out is sometimes just to throw yourself out there, handsome guy on your arm, flirt a little, maybe a little kiss. That story will replace any sex tape story anyone wants to write and then you can laugh when they ask if it's you in the video and say, 'people are gay, Brenda.'"
Steve opened his mouth then closed it again. He thought that over. It did sound like the simplest, most non-confrontational way to get this over with. He could be spotted on a date with a man and if the tape came up, he could roll his eyes and present their joined hands as evidence against it. People might be suspicious, after a year of keeping his personal life so carefully under wraps, that he'd suddenly put himself out there, but, better suspicious of him playing the media than following poor Lydia around, looking for a scoop.
But there was only one problem.
"I don't think I could do it."
"Why not? Nervous? It's a bit scary, putting yourself out there for the first time, but you can handle it."
"No, that's not why. I - uh - I couldn't fake it. If I went out with someone, it'd have to be someone I wanted to go out with."
"Alright. Well, surely there's someone you've been wanting to ask out. You could have anyone, Steve, trust me. Movie stars, rocket scientists, that guy who always walks past the tower with the dogs from the shelter that he walks in his spare time -"
"Yeah, Aaron. Tell me who you want, I'll tell you if they're single and into men."
Steve swallowed heavily and tipped his chin up until he met Tony's eyes. "There's only one person…"
"Who? Come on, you can trust me." Tony landed his hand on Steve's knee and squeezed lightly.
"Well." Steve flung himself sideways off the conversational cliff. "You. Tony, it's you. When I saw the tape, the only person I was actually worried about believing it was you. You're the only person I'd want to go out with."
Tony's hand clenched, fingers digging painfully into Steve's kneecap, and his eyes went wide. "Yes," he blurted out.
"It - what?"
"I said I would tell you if your crush was single and into men. So. Yes." His fingers still hadn't loosened up. "He is."
"Oh." Steve stared blankly at Tony for what felt like several minutes but was probably only several seconds.
"What?" he breathed.
"I can do that."
"Do what?" Steve couldn't exactly remember what it was they'd been talking about because every time he tried, his brain just rewould to the part where he had said, "It's you," and played it over and over at maximum volume.
"Hang off your arm, be handsome and gay, tell the press they're crazy for thinking you made a sex tape with a woman when we're obviously dating."
The world slowed to a stop with an audible creak, and Steve stared at Tony. "Are we?"
Tony shifted up onto his knees and reached out to brush his knuckles across Steve's cheek. "You tell me, gorgeous," he breathed, barely more than a whisper. He leaned in, just enough to brush their lips together, then stilled, waiting, waiting for Steve.
Later, Steve would claim that he'd lost his balance, and Tony would politely accept the excuse - and its accompanying apology - with nothing more than a wry grin. As it was, Steve, Tony, and JARVIS were all fully aware that what Steve did was nothing more or less than pounce.
Steve rocketed off the chair, knocking Tony back onto his ass, and smashed their lips together, clutching him close, using anything he could get a decent grip on - Tony's shirt, his hair, his arms. Tony crumpled with an oof and took two fistfuls of Steve's sweatshirt to keep him from hitting his head on the concrete floor. Steve swallowed the sound, sliding his tongue along the seam of Tony's lips, desperate for entrance to his mouth. Tony gave it, with a happy sigh. Steve's hips settled between Tony's thighs, most of his weight on his knees and one arm that folded behind Tony's head, keeping him off the hard floor, but he pressed down into the soft heat of Tony's body, squeezing out the space between them until they were nearly one. Tony's breaths were gasping now, but Steve didn't relent, he couldn't, not now that he had everything he'd ever wanted here in his arms.
Tony fit perfectly into the curve of Steve's body and he resisted the urge to squeeze him so hard he cracked a rib. "So bad," Steve muttered against his lips.
"I've wanted you so bad." Steve licked his way into Tony's mouth again, memorizing his flavour. Tony's hands released Steve's sweater and wrapped around his waist, settling on either side of his spine, stroking softly, in contrast to Steve's wild barrage.
It was heady and too fast and too eager, and Steve was getting hard already, and he felt like he should hide it, but he didn't want to shift away from Tony's heat. Then Tony moved, a tiny thrust of his hips, and Steve could feel him too, tenting his own pants.
Tony finally broke away with a desperate gasp, fingers twitching against Steve's back as Steve took the opportunity to trail soft kisses across his jaw to his ear. "You know, Steve, there's another way to get it out there that we're together."
"Oh yeah?" Steve sucked Tony's earlobe between his teeth.
"What would that be?"
Steve could feel Tony breaking into a cheeky grin. "Make an even better sex tape of our own."
Steve didn't justify that with an answer, he just shifted back up to kiss Tony so breathless he couldn't talk anymore.