“Tony,” Carol said, “Are you sending yourself a letter?”
He looked up from where he was sitting on their couch, licking a pretty ugly stamp with a black Santa Claus dancing among elves. He unstuck his tongue from the paper and applied the stamp very carefully. “No,” he scoffs. “Why would I do that?”
Carol slid down next to him. “Tony, are you sending yourself a letter in a pathetic ploy to make that hot mailman you clearly have a crush on come by our house?”
“I’m not even dignifying that with an answer,” Tony said, squeezing yet another stamp between his fingers. “See this? This is me, ignoring you. Goodbye.”
Carol’s grin became even wider if possible as she stared at him while he worked. There were already three stamps on the envelope. He had no idea how mail worked. Why would he, when the Internet was right there? Letters were obsolete. The mailman would soon be out of a job, and then where would that leave Tony? He would have to stalk him all across town so he could find out who he was and where he lived and what were his favorite flowers. No, that wouldn’t do. If he wanted to bang this guy, he had to work fast. And smart. Hence the letter.
Carol waited until he put six stamps all over the side of the letter before she got up and said, “You know they can see from where the letter is posted, right?”
She ducked just in time to avoid the cushion.
Steve Rogers’ mailman gig took him to strange places.
Seriously: before he got into this, he had no idea York was this weird . For instance, there was this wannabe poet in a crooked house surrounded by meadows, a guy who claimed to be “in love with Death” and had a weird Edgar Allan Poe obsession. He also housed about ten foster kids in their late teens, so Steve tried not to judge too harshly. He couldn’t help being creeped out whenever he had to go all the way up here, though.
Then there were college students. One of the Greek life houses down Main Street contained the weirdest frat boys one could imagine: a huge mute guy who signed his thanks with the kindest smile and his tiny friend who shrieked at Steve every time he rang at their door before noon but also learned to sign for his friend. There was also a guy Steve never saw with any pants on, and a girl who apparently got into the fraternity too, somehow, who was one of the two most terrifying persons he ever met. And Steve was friend with Natasha, so he knew a lot about terrifying.
And then there was 42 Coulson Street.
The first day he came, he opened the door on his own after a few unsuccessful rings because it wasn’t closed, alright, and he had a delivery with the little urgent sticker on it - anyway, he was just starting his job, and he was naive, and he knew better than trespassing now. The room was dark and devoid of any sign of life, though it was filled with threatening metallic shapes Steve kept bumping into. He kept repeating hello like a moronic character in a horror movie - the hot blonde who died first. (Well, second. It’s not a proper bad horror movie if there is no black character dying gratuitously after all. Still.)
Then he stepped on something fluffy that mewled and ran off and a woman with messy blonde hair and sleepy eyes chased him off with a bat.
Still, he left the package on their doorstep as he ran for his life. Steve Rogers was nothing if not a devoted professional.
On his fourth visit to the house, it was two days after Christmas, and a busy-looking redhead looked at the letter he gave her then pushed him off the porch on the way out muttering about buying bath salts. She yelled something in the lines of tell that asshole he’s got the wrong address from the hood of her red car. To this day, Steve was unsure what Howard Stark had done to offend them.
On the seventh, when a hot guy in boxers and a t-shirt that said don’t trust atoms they make up everything opened his door, he only had time to plaster on his most professional smile before he heard a loud explosion - that’s when he noticed half of the guy’s beard was still burning. He had to cup his face to keep him from getting burnt. It was supremely awkward.
Anyway. He was used to it. He was.
He was ready for everything they could (literally) throw at him today. Even a half-naked man with a drawing of little robots dancing on his boxer.
“So, this is a nice outfit,” he said, trying not to smile.
“What,” Anthony Stark from 42 Coulson Street would say, with confused, slightly manic eyes before he looked down on his own body. “I’m not wearing anything.”
Of course, this was not what Steve actually said.
He just looked straight at the guy’s face, pretending not to notice that he was seeing him in his boxers for the second time since he met him, or that for someone who threw out piles upon piles of takeout foods and wore science pun t-shirts he was fit as hell . He didn’t let his eyes wander on defined pecs or toned thighs or the trail of hair on his abs or the bulge- oh, come on, who was he kidding.
“Hi, you have a package,” is what he really said. And winced. Oh no.
“Oh, right, the cat sweater for Chewie,” Anthony Stark muttered, blissfully unaware of the innuendo, before he added, louder: “Which I know absolutely nothing about, of course. Because I do not participate in any of this tomfoolery. Nope.”
(He had a tattoo on his collarbone, tiny dark lines looping on his skin to make out 26 Fe. Not that Steve noticed.)
Steve fought off a smile. “What’s the sweater like?”
“A Christmas reindeer,” Stark said immediately. “Once again, which I know nothing about.”
“There’s worse Christmas themed costumes.”
“Oh, like there’s one good animal Christmas costume.”
“Yeah, but there are worse ones,” Steve said.”Think about it. Christmas Minions.”
“Oh no,” Stark said with the fear of God in his eyes. “These exist?”
“Yep. And the snowman guy from Frozen.”
“Wait. I got one. Grinch costumes. But,” Stark said, raising a finger, “from the 2018 movie, not the original ones.”
“Two words,” Steve enunciated, enjoying a nice dramatic pause. “Christmas fedoras.”
“Oh no. It’s over,” Stark groaned. “God is dead. We killed her. Ariana Grande lied to us.”
Steve laughed. It took a second for Stark to join in, and when he laughed, cute crinkles surrounded around his warm eyes. In spite of that, he looked younger somehow and so happy and carefree and Steve sort of wanted to kiss him.
Oh dear. He wanted to kiss the weird neighbor guy who was probably an arms dealer and opened his door in Star Wars underwear in December. This was who Steve was now.
He was alright with it.
When he was finally done with his latest project, Tony went downstairs to make himself breakfast, or maybe just black coffee. He took great care to close the door as silently as he could on what he called his lab, Pepper called his bedroom, and Rhodey his personal landmine-filled whorehouse. Carol didn’t call it anything, mostly because she avoided it like the plague - she was always the smarter of the four housemates.
He hummed as he checked out the fridge, which of course nobody bothered filling in the past week. This was what you got for rooming with two war veterans and a sales representative with about twice as much grit and ruthlessness as the both of them. God, did anyone care about this house at all?
“Tony,” Pepper said ominously behind his back. “Are you trying to scare the mailman again?”
He yelped. “Good lord, Peps, don’t scare a guy like that in the dead of the night.”
“It’s six a.m.”
“Yes, your point?”
She squinted at him as she took a long sip of her coffee. (Two shots of espresso with milk, and then she took another cup to go on the way to her work. Tony didn’t know how she survived any of this, but then again if he had her job he would probably be dead in a month. Less than that without caffeine.) He was sure she was just pausing for dramatic effect before a snarky remark that would absolutely shatter him, but before he could bid farewell to his ego, heavy footsteps resonated on their wooden staircase, and a warm hand clapped Tony on the back.
“Is this all for the mailman’s benefit?” Rhodey asked. “You know, I think he is immune to your bullshit.”
Tony glared at him. “What is up with this household today? Did I do something to offend any of you, ever?” Pepper opened her mouth as if to start listing, which prompted him to continue in a faster speech even, drowning out her voice: “ No . I have been nothing but a loving housemate. How could you accuse me of such a thing? I am a good citizen. I would never-”
“You’re wearing boxers and an apron with more burn marks than tissue,” Rhodey interrupted him, unimpressed. “Why do we even own an apron anyway? It’s not like any of us cooks.”
“Not true,” Tony protested. “Carol cooked just the other day!”
“ She made mac’n’cheese .”
“That’s still food!”
“And it was two months ago,” Pepper informed the both of them.
“It was not.”
“ Anthony .”
There was a lull in the Great Macaroni Debate of 2018, which meant that Pepper knew she was crushing him with her arguments and logic and was considering whether to take pity on him and let it go or not when the doorbell rang. If Tony scrambled embarrassingly fast towards the entrance, it was only between him, two of the six persons in the world whose opinion mattered to him, and Carol’s asshole cat, who didn’t care about their mortal troubles anyway.
Of course, when he opened the door, Hot Mailman Steve stared at him in shock and concern. It was a very good look on him, and one he got quite often in Tony’s experience, all wide blue eyes and open pink lips. But once again, all looks were good looks on Hot Mailman Steve, because he looked like an actor impersonating the porn version of a Disney prince.
“Hi, you have a delivery,” he said, stoically, because he was a human rock. Both in the figurative sense that he was unshakeable and literally because his face was chiseled in stone. (And his abs, too. Tony accidentally sprayed him with water once. He could attest to that.)
(He could also say Rhodey’s shirts were just a bit too tight on him, which was a delight to his eyes, and Hot Mailman Steve was such a do-gooder he ironed it before he handed it back to them, which at least caused Pepper to approve of this unlikely union. Not that there was any actual union getting done. Yet.)
Tony grinned. “Well hello to you too, Steve, how are you on this fine morning? Not too cold out? Do you want a cup of coffee? If you're not a coffee guy you’re not allowed into this house anymore, of course, but we can bring you some tea outside. Or hot chocolate. Whatever’s your poison.”
Rhodey groaned loudly behind him.
“Coffee guy, uh,” Hot Mailman Steve said. “Weirdly, I expected that.”
“Really? What gave me away? No, wait, don’t tell me. Is it my youthful energy?”
“More the manic eyes. And word debit. And coffee stains on your apron. But sure, youthful energy works too.”
Tony laughed a bit louder than he meant to, and Hot Mailman Steve shuffled and plastered a polite, service job smile on his face, which somehow looked gorgeous. “Anyway, no, no coffee for me. It’ still the beginning of my round and all that. I do want your signature, though.”
“Of course, everything for my fans,” Tony said, bending to sign the screen Steve is presenting him with, but he paused. “Hey, fun fact, I invented that signature thingie device.”
“Did you?” Steve said, long-suffering.
“Yes. I thought, all signing sheets, so much paper wasted. So many trees cut down. Think about the Amazonian forest, you know? It’s pretty much the lung of our planet. If it was an eighty-year-old smoker who used to do crack. Although let’s not be too harsh on crack, it’s pretty fun if you do it right, anyway, so, point is, I thought about it one night and it was really an easy device to code, just a basic interface on some phone screen, a stylus, and-”
He blabbered on about coding for what felt like an hour, considering the tortured expression on Hot Mailman Steve’s face, but was probably more like thirty seconds, then remembered coding was not sexy, signed, and slammed the door on Hot Mailman Steve.
Pepper, Rhodey and a freshly woken up Carol were staring at him like kids at the zoo when he turned around.
“I don’t want to hear it,” he said.
“What? I wasn’t going to say anything,” Rhodey told him as innocently as he could while keeping a straight face. “Were you going to say anything, Carol?”
“I wouldn’t dare.”
“I’m moving out,” Tony declared for what felt like the tenth time this week.
Pepper rubbed his arm in comfort. “Sure you are, honey.”
“It’s a dumb plan,” Steve blurted out to Sam.
On the other end of the line, Sam sighed. It was fair, since Steve was calling him at six in the morning, and Sam’s first patient arrived at nine on Tuesdays. Peggy wouldn’t have answered the phone. Bucky would have answered just to tell him to fuck off before he went back to sleep (and maybe he would have made sure Steve wasn’t dead in a ditch, but that was the extent of it). Natasha would - Steve would rather not imagine what Natasha would do to him if he woke her up at six, but it would probably end with his body in a ditch too, anyway.
But Sam was a therapist, thus caring about people at all times no matter how inconvenient had been forcefully coded in his DNA, and he would at least think twice before he told him off.
“Of course it’s a dumb plan,” Sam said. “It’s your plan.”
“Thanks, Wilson. Very helpful. Just what I needed to hear.”
Sam sighed again, more deeply. “Listen, Steve - and really listen, because I’m going to sleep right after this, you have five minutes - this plan sucks. Sure. It’s corny as hell and a little desperate and if the guy doesn’t like you, you’ll be dying of shame every time you deliver his mail from now on.”
“I feel like you’re supposed to say but at some point and comfort me,” Steve remarked. “Aren’t you supposed to say but at some point and comfort me? Otherwise, this is the worst pep talk ever.”
“I’m a therapist, not a life coach,” Sam groaned. “Your plan sucks but if you don’t do it you will keep pining for years until you’re old and wrinkled and you have no more friends left because we all grew tired of your whining and six a.m. calls and left. So you’ve really got nothing to lose when you think about it this way.”
“Also the guy seems as corny and desperate as you are, and he is definitely thirsty for your package, so, maybe he’ll like it.”
Steve whined. “This is definitely going on your postal puns quota for the month, just so you know.”
“Fuck you, Rogers,” Sam said, “nothing counts before seven,” and he hung up on Steve.
Steve looked at his phone, then up at the crooked house of dusty red bricks of Coulson Street, and decided to put on his big guy boots and ring.
“‘Sup,” Stark said when he opened the door. Mercifully, he had clothes on today, a sweatpant that hung low on his hips and a t-shirt with a geology pun so bad Steve decided not to acknowledge it. With his mussed hair and timid smile, he looked delicious.
“You got mail,” Steve said as cheerfully as he could.
Stark looked puzzled and turned towards the living room. “Do we got mail?”
Muffled voices inside said something Steve couldn’t understand and he writhed in place, awkward and wishing very much to say oh no, you don’t, my bad before he ran away.
But Sarah Rogers didn’t raise no coward, and he remembered Bucky telling him to stop fucking around and just ask a guy out already, and Sam’s soft expression as he rolled his eyes at him, and he was going to do it.
He shoved the letter into Stark’s hands more than he gave him. “Here, it is definitely your name on it, so.”
“Oh, well, maybe it’s my secret admirer,” he smirked.
Steve wanted to die. “Haha,” he said - as in actually said, out loud. “Maybe.”
And then the worst possible scenario happened - Stark stayed put in place and started opening the letter.
Steve ran out so fast he almost got hit by a car.
Tony read the letter. Then he reread the letter. And again, and again, and again. He wasn’t used to doing it so much - if he wanted to read something, he would put on the audio version while he tinkered in the shop, not force himself to actually stay in one place focusing on paper for longer than one hour. But, well, he was still trying to figure out what was happening, sitting on the sofa tinkering with some project he couldn’t remember the name of before picking it up again.
“Wow, Tones,” Carol said on the other end of the couch, where she was wrapped under three different blankets with Rhodey. “Didn’t know you could read.”
“How Draco Malfoy of you,” Tony said absently.
“You do have the blonde hair,” Rhodey points out. “And smug attitude.”
“Rude. I am a beacon of sunshine.”
“Sure you are.”
Bantering. The curse of hanging around ridiculously cute couples. Tony usually would heckle them for it to hide his increasing fear of dying alone, as any twenty-something year old would do, but not that day. That day, he traced the curve around Steve Rogers’ weirdly shaped b and f.
When the bell rang he literally leaped out of his chair.
“Wow, a brand new level of desperate, then,” Pepper commented, which would usually prompt him to say having a girlfriend turned you mean or such other snarky reply he liked to bestow upon the world. She exchanged worried glances with Rhodey on the couch.
Tony could feel their eyes boring a hole on his back as he opened the door because great, being emotionally stunted wasn’t enough, now he had an audience for this. Just what he needed.
Of course, Steve was here. Tall. Perfect teeth. Blonde hair that gleamed under the sun. Wide, surprised eyes like he didn’t expect Tony to open the door for him for some reason. The flutter under Tony’s ribcage.
“Hey Steve,” he said, voice way too high to be casual.
Steve ducked his head and smiled in a nervous, abashed way a guy this hot and tall should not be able to pull off and Tony’s palms were sweaty and he was buzzing with nervous energy and excitement and great .
“Soooo. Did you just google bad science pickup lines or do you have hidden depths I’m not aware of? Because I’m totally cool with the first part, uh, it was- sweet and- thoughtful, I guess, which isn’t surprising because you’re all, wholesome, in a hot way not in a bad way. Like, you look as good as a boy scout but I totally want to get you dirty. In a respectful, romantic, non-creepy way. Am I still talking? Because it feels like my mouth is moving and I’m not-”
Then his brain went into overdrive and shut down all at once because Steve’s mouth crashed on his, which was an amazing solution to stop Tony from talking. Euphoria and electricity flooded his body - dopamine, his brain contributed helpfully, dopamine and serotonin and oxytocin. Tony let out a little, surprised exhale when a hand snaked its way under his shirt, over his hip bone, pushing just enough, grounding him. It felt like all of Tony’s nerve endings were tuned in to lips that felt like grocery store lip balm opening against his and fingers digging onto his flesh softly and Steve. When they separated for breath for a second, Steve beamed at him so widely Tony felt like falling into him to kiss again was gravity’s work.
“Alright, I’ve been waiting for you two morons to break it up for five minutes and I’m not letting you make me any later to work,” Pepper said behind him. “Can you please move the smooching elsewhere? Like, I don’t know, a bedroom?”
“Yeah, you got a boyfriend for like, eight minutes, and you’re already grossing us out,” Carol said.
“He’s finally figured his shit out, don’t bully him,” Rhodey chided. “That my job.”
Pepper ignored them. “Move.”
Dazed, Tony could only say: “Yeah, sure. Why not.”
He did not move. Pepper sighed as she shouldered her way out. Tony didn’t pay attention, because Steve was blushing all the way under his shirt collar and with his lips kissed red and his shy smile, there was no way Tony would ever look at something else ever again, in his life.
“Hey, Tony,” Steve finally said. “Are you the high amperage current to my high resistance wire? Cause you’ve got me hot.”
“Oh my god,” Tony groaned. “Do you even have any idea what this means?”
“Nope, not at all.”
“That’s fair,” Tony shrugged. “You’re too pretty to be good at engineering.”
Steve took his time looking Tony up and down before he said, “I’m not so sure about that.”
If Steve turned up half an hour later to his next stop, well, he could only blame himself.
When Steve did his rounds these days, he left five minutes later, because Tony’s house was much closer to the post office than his, so why bother going by his apartment anyway?
He woke up with an arm slung across his chest and Tony basically all up on his lap like the warmest most inconvenient blanket ever, even though he was pretty sure they were spooning last night. (Tony was the little spoon. Obviously.) He had to disentangle himself carefully and after that Tony started whining about staying in bed just today, which he did every single day. Steve was just glad Tony got some sleep, though, because he knew for a fact that in the first few months of their relationship the other guy barely slept at all. Being in the same bed as someone else didn’t cure either of their insomnias, but at least it forced them to lie down and count sheep instead of staying up all night drawing a landscape or some new plans for a phone.
Then Steve got dressed, started up the coffeemaker as he left, which was Pepper’s only condition so he could use one of her Thermos to go to his morning gig, and pet Chewie a little before the cat accepted to get up from Steve’s shoes. Just like that, he was off. Like most days, he stopped by the house to get another cup of coffee offered by Tony himself, even though he had learned months ago that they never received any mail, ever. (Apparently, there was a whole story about sending themselves letters so Tony had an opportunity to see Steve. When he told Sam, he had answered something in the lines of: “Oh my god, corny and desperate. There’s two of them.”)
Steve had to deliver mail to that creepy house by the meadows and Mr. Thanos made him wait twelve minutes before he got to sign his delivery, and then Steve would miss his pre-lunch run with Sam because of the sheer number of mail he had to give that morning, and then he spent the afternoon drawing hunched on his table for a comic he was supposed to have finished inking by tomorrow. He probably would have to get back on that when dinner was over.
So, yeah, that was life - nothing felt easy, because when was it ever, but when he got to Tony’s place with four pizzas and a tired Natasha on his backseat, Steve felt pretty happy about how things turned up, in their messy, perfect way.
“Are those the same sweatpants you were in this morning?” Steve asked Tony, frowning.
Tony, laying on the couch with a tablet in hands, looked down at himself like he was surprised what he saw there. “Oh, yeah, they are! But,” he pointed out, “I changed my underwear, so like, I’m not gross.”
“Your standards are so low,” Natasha said with a disgusted noise. She poked Tony’s calves until he gave her some space to sit on the couch and leaned against his knees. “Steve, are you sure you don’t want me to call Sharon? I swear, she’s just this really cute, blonde-”
“Nope, he doesn’t, stop trying to set up my boyfriend with your weird Russian spy friends, Romanoff.”
“Children, no bullying,” Steve tried, busy cutting the Hawaiian pizza. He glared at it. “If I was to break up with Tony, ever, it would clearly be because of his taste in pizza.”
Tony muttered something that sounded like viva la pizza revolución , then stuck his tongue at his tablet and violently saved the file he was working on. Natasha smirked. “It’s just so easy to mess with him. Once I asked him if Pluto was a planet in front of Carol and they got into an argument so big he almost moved out.”
“I know. It was last week. I was there,” Steve said.
“I know you know, I just like reminding people it happened,” Natasha stated.
“You do know you’re both in the house that I pay for, right?” Tony said. “You don’t even live here. I could totally kick you out.”
“You only pay a third of it,” Natasha pointed out. “And Pepper would yell at you until you apologize.”
“Yeah, but I could. Theoretically.”
“Sure you could, honey,” Pepper said as she walked in and patted his arm. She bent down to kiss Natasha over his lying body, and he started throwing his cushion at them until Natasha sat on him and he wheezed.
When Tony left the couch to let Natasha and Pepper do their thing, he sighed deeply as he dropped down on the chair next to Steve then said, suspiciously, “Why are you smiling like this? You look like you’re watching a video with puppies in it.”
“I just really like you.”
Tony blinked, then raised his eyebrows as he said, “Hey, are you an ideal vacuum?”
“Why, Tony?” Steve asked, long-suffering.
“Cause you're the only thing in my universe.”
Steve paused. “I changed my mind. Actually, I hate you.”
“Then why are your lips on my neck?”
“Oh, this? I’m just going to punch your lips. With my lips. It’s a hate kiss, really.”
Tony didn’t answer that, of course: they were too busy making out. It was a few minutes before Tony started whispering again against his lips. “Hey, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask. You still have a clean mail delivery guy outfit left, right?”
“Yes, why do you ask?”
He couldn’t see Tony’s smile but he could watch the crinkles around his eyes. “Why do you think, Rogers?”
“Oh.” Beat. “I think we can afford to be a little late for pizza night when almost every night is pizza night, can’t we?”