The interview was like watching a car crash.
No one was expecting it, because Steve had done a hundred of these things and he'd always been natural and charming, and all he had to do is smile that matinee idol grin of his and the interviewer would melt into a puddle of goo.
But Christine - and it would have to be Christine, Tony thought when he found out - wasn't going to give in to Steve's otherwise universal appeal. She was awkward that way.
Steve had agreed to the interview because he actually liked Christine. He liked that she didn't shy away from difficult questions or back down when someone tried to side-step the issues. Tony and Natasha had shared more than one uncomfortable look over Steve's head whenever he praised her technique.
Of course, Steve probably hadn't expected her to go after Tony quite so viciously during the opening questions and then turn her ire on the rest of the team. The little frown that had appeared after the first comment had turned into a full blown scowl after ten minutes.
"This is all your fault," Clint told Tony, his spoonful of Fruit Loops sitting forgotten halfway to his mouth. "You couldn't have called her?"
"Or at least warned Steve," Bruce said, wincing as Steve stumbled over a question about The Hulk and public safety.
Tony was already on the phone to the network and currently on hold. "Look, if I have to warn Steve every time he talks to someone I slept with..."
"Maybe you could just give him a list of the people you haven't," Natasha drawled. "Anyway, this isn't resentment over a one night stand. She hates all of us."
"That makes me feel better," Tony said. "Yes, hello. This is Tony Stark. I need to speak to the producer of... Yes, exactly. Thank you."
"She's going to bring up Sharon," Bruce said and got to his feet. "I have to go... do something, before you need to remodel."
Tony patted Bruce's shoulder and turned up the sound on the TV.
"Why would she need to discuss Agent Carter?" Thor asked. "Steve's private life has no bearing on The Avengers."
"Maybe not," Clint answered, flatly, "but it's good for ratings."
Natasha's phone rang and she glanced at it. "Yeah, that's Sharon now."
"Do you see me on the phone?" Tony said. "I can't force them to take me off hold. At least not until I buy the whole damn station and fire everyone that works there."
Clint's phone started to ring a second later. He didn't even look. "That's Phil. I'm not answering it."
"Yeah, I need you to end this interview now," Tony said into the phone, but it was far too late. Steve looked ready to explode.
"I have nothing but the highest respect and fondness for Agent Carter," Steve said through gritted teeth. "We are very good friends, but that's all."
"That wasn't so bad," Natasha said, cautiously.
Thor leaned towards the TV. "She looks very happy with that answer."
"Well then put me on the air," Tony snapped at whatever hapless minion he was talking to.
"So there's no one special in your life, Steve?" Christine asked. "No one you're close to?"
"What's she up to?" Clint asked, but a second later it was obvious, because Steve...
Steve actually blushed.
"Steve's not dating anyone," Clint said, confused. "Is he?"
Natasha shook her head. "Not that I know of." She raised an eyebrow at Tony.
"I think he would have told us, don't you?" Tony said and the echo from the TV made him groan. He closed his eyes, moved the phone away from his ear and swore.
"Joining us now on the line we have Captain Rogers' fellow Avenger, billionaire Tony Stark," Christine said, looking as though all her Christmases has come at once. "Are you saying you know all of Captain America's secrets, Tony?"
"I'm saying that they wouldn't be secrets if I knew them, Christine," Tony answered politely. "I'm not sure what Steve's love life has to do with anything."
Christine smiled directly at the camera. "Captain Rogers was, for want of a better term, created using government funds and therefore he owes the public an explanation to any and all of his actions, including his romantic relationships."
Steve looked mortified, or at least Tony was pretty sure he looked mortified. There was a knife sticking out of the TV.
Tony held the phone against his chest again. "Jesus, Natasha. That's the third one this month."
"The other ones weren't me," Natasha pointed out, glancing at Thor who looked suitably sheepish.
"Tony?" Christine prompted and he raised the phone to his ear again.
"Christine, as I'm sure you're aware, Captain Rogers is a human being and therefore not the property of anyone, unless you're suddenly endorsing slavery."
"Of course not," Christine said smoothly, brushing aside Tony's response as she turned back to Steve.
"Mr Stark seems quick to jump to your aide, Captain. Is there anything you'd like to tell us about your relationship?"
Steve was bright red now. Tony started to laugh. "You're not seriously implying that Steve and I are in a secret relationship are you?"
There was a crash from the kitchen. Thor got to his feet quickly. "I will check on Doctor Banner."
"I'm not implying anything, Tony," Christine said innocently. "I'm asking outright. Are you and Captain Rogers involved in romantic relationship?"
Steve looked like he was having trouble forming words.
"I think you're overestimating my appeal. Captain Rogers is the pinnacle of mankind and I… well you know what I am."
Christine rolled her eyes at Tony through the camera. He blew her a kiss.
"That's not," Steve said suddenly and then stopped.
Christine's eyes were sparkling with amusement.
Natasha and Clint were staring at the TV with wide fixed eyes.
Tony held his breath.
Steve straightened in his chair, took a deep breath and said calmly. "Yes, we're dating."
Christine grinned. "Thank you, Captain Rogers." She turned to face the camera. "Coming up…"
Tony bit his lip to stop himself smiling too much as he ended the call. Natasha and Clint were now staring at him. From the corner of his eye he could see Thor and Bruce standing in the doorway.
Everyone's cell phone started to ring at the same moment, but no one made a move to answer except Tony, since it was Steve's ringtone blaring from his pocket.
"Hey," he said, keeping a wary eye on the others as he stood and started to back out of the room through the exit that wasn't currently filled with glaring teammates. "Yeah, they saw. Yeah, they look pretty mad. Are you okay?"
Steve answered that he was.
"I told you everything would work out," Tony said, feeling at least some of the tension of keeping such a big secret drain out of him. "Tell Christine thanks from me. I owe her one."
Natasha started to laugh, which stopped Tony in his tracks. She was followed a moment later by Clint and then Bruce joined in shaking his head.
"I think we broke everyone," Tony said and then ducked his head to chuckle fondly at Steve's response. "Yeah, you too. Now get back here so you can suffer at least half as much as I'm about to."
He hung up the phone and held out his hands placatingly. "Surprise!"