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Steve likes to think of himself as an adaptable man.

Which doesn’t mean that he isn’t stubborn, which he is, and he can’t deny it – but he adapts fairly easily to a new development when the situation requires him to. He’s efficient.

So, when he wakes up in the future and his memories don’t let him sleep, he finds a way to pass the time and makes a habit of regularly damaging gym equipment. When they tell him he’ll have to bring the Tesseract back, Steve is pissed, but he does it. And then they tell him the guy who stole it is a god, an actual, genuine god, with powers and everything, and Steve, although skeptical at first, sees both Loki and Thor for himself; He just accepts this new truth, because if magic cubes can exist, how weird could it be that magic people also exist?

Then they have him fight an entire army from space, and that is almost too much, almost – but apparently, Steve’s capacity for compartmentalization and adaptability really goes very far. So he takes the mission, and he does it.

Compared to all of that, being asked – or rather, being told – by none other than Tony Stark himself to move into Stark Tower, the big, ugly building in New York, should feel like it’s a simple request.

But for some reason, it’s not.

“You want us to move in with you?”

Stark looks at him funny, like he’s not sure how he should respond to Steve’s emotionless question, and says:

“When you say it like that, it sounds dirtier than it is.”

How is that an answer? Is he serious? Does he not hear how outlandish and crazy he sounds?

How can he simply invite them to move into his building just like that? Yes, Steve knows it’s his building, technically, he can do what he likes as long he’s not breaking the law; But how is inviting five strangers to live inside his home something Tony Stark can just do?

“I mean, c’mon.” Stark says, shrugging, looking around the destroyed Shawarma place like he’s exasperated. “It’s not like you guys would be leaving a five-star hotel if you ditched your current landlords and just came back with me. And also, to be fair, the Tower is better than a five-star. An eight-star, at least.

That’s not the issue. At all.

Is he – Is he for real?

“You’re describing your own building as less than a ten-star quality place?” Agent Romanov drawls, sarcasm dripping from her voice, and Steve can’t believe he’s the only one who’s finding this weird. “I guess we messed up. The world must still be ending.”

“Very funny, Miss Rushman.” Tony smiles at her. “I don’t think I saw comedian in your resumé, but I could be wrong, couldn’t I?”

Agent Romanov smiles back, and this is where the first odd thing happens:

Romanov smiles, but her smile isn’t mocking or sneering; It’s genuine, awkward amusement, a turn of lips trying to stop itself from happening but not quite succeeding,

And then, Stark smiles back, his lips stretching into a soft grin, his neck going all loose and lazy with the way he rolls his head to the side and looks at Romanov with such a boyish admiration and complicity that it feels like Steve is witnessing something he shouldn’t, a Tony Stark that is so opposite to the persona Steve has heard about that it almost feels obscene to look at him.

It looks like – It looks like they are genuinely bantering like children, like siblings, like an inside joke only the two of them are privy to.

Steve had no idea they could look like that. Stark or Romanov.

Steve suddenly finds himself curious about what the hell is going on here, between them. Wasn’t Romanov the one who wrote Stark’s report? Why would she say something like that, something that makes her sound like she hates him, when she… doesn’t? Why would she be so harsh?

“Fine by me.” Romanov sighs, leaning back in her chair and shrugging, trading a quick look with Agent Barton who she’s casually sharing chairs with. “The Tower is nice. Nicer than SHIELD headquarters.”

“Well, if Nat says so.” Agent Barton easily agrees, trusting. “I really don’t feel like going back yet anyway.”

“Hum.” Doctor Banner shyly hums, when both Agents and Stark turn to look at him with anticipation. “Yeah, sure? SHIELD didn’t really get me a place to stay, I was supposed to be in the Helicarrier while we looked for the cube and then… I’d go back to Calcutta, I guess.”

“And now you can come stay with me and make some explosions.” Stark joyfully says, clapping Doctor Banner on the back, as if exploding things is his idea of a fun time. “Everybody wins. What about you, Point Break?”

“I would appreciate having a place to rest before I can return home. If that’s alright, of course.” Thor kindly says, nodding at Stark.

“It’s alright, I offered!” Stark replies, as if it is that simple.

And then, they all look at him, expectant, and Steve can only stop himself fast enough not to splutter as he turns to Stark and asks, incredulous:

“Are you sure?”

“Don’t overthink it. It’s fine.”

How can he not overthink it? Is this normal for rich people? No, it doesn’t seem like it. It sounds like a Tony Stark thing. But would he really invite them, invite Steve, who mostly acted antagonistically towards him during their extremely brief acquaintance, to his home?

Apparently… yes.

“Okay.” He exhales confusedly.

And that is how it starts.

 

For all of Steve’s initial resistance, Stark Tower is actually a really nice place.

It was too much at first – The size of everything, the amount of everything, the price of everything. It was jarring. But to be truthful, it’s nice to feel like he’s not alone.

They see each other a lot in the Tower. They all have their own floors – floors, because Tony Stark apparently is that rich – and that allows for a whole lot of privacy, but somehow, they keep bumping into each other all the time. Steve is never alone in the gym anymore because Natasha is always there, sometimes with Clint by her side; Although, Steve sees Clint far more frequently in the TV room, sometimes with Bruce, who usually has a book or paper of some sort in his hands, sometimes with glasses, sometimes without, sometimes asleep. Thor comes and goes, but when he is around, he can usually be found in the kitchen, not just because he loves food, but also because he apparently likes the view from the huge glass wall there, that faces west, where he can see the sunset glow beautifully every day.

But Steve doesn’t see Tony nearly as much as he sees the others.

And he doesn’t think much of it, until he does.

He’s with Natasha on the living room next to the kitchen, Thor absent today in a visit to his girlfriend, when Tony walks in, and Steve realizes this is the first time he’s seeing Tony in almost two weeks. And they live in the same building.

How?

Tony walks in shooting them a quick hey under his breath, looking mussed and tired, barefoot and in old clothes, and it’s a jarring contrast to the last time Steve saw him, in a suit and expensive cologne and watch, untouchable by the world.

Here, Tony just looks like a kid who just woke up from a nap.

Steve looks at the clock. It’s ten past six AM.

“You’re up early.” Natasha comments loudly, making sure Tony can hear her all the way from the couch.

“So are you.” Tony grumbles tiredly. “Why?”

“Just got home.” Natasha says, but offers no extra explanation. “And Steve is always up by this hour. He went running.”

Tony stops his motion of reaching inside the cabinet and looks at him with piercing eyes.

“You went running?”

“I go every morning, Tony.”

“It’s raining.

“It wasn’t raining when I left.”

“Urgh.” Tony shakes his head, filling his mug with coffee from the pot, fresh and black.

“Why are you awake?” Steve asks, unable to stop his curiosity.

“Didn’t sleep.” Tony admits, raising his mug in the air for them to see. “Just came up to get more coffee.”

“How many cups did you already have?” Steve raises his eyebrows worriedly.

“Just one, don’t worry your pretty little head.”

“I worry about the team.”

“Then worry about the team, old man. Not me.”

“Well, you’re a part of the team now.” Steve automatically says, and then smiles. “Guess the joke is on you.”

Tony looks at him for a moment, eyes a little wide and eyebrows lifted in soft surprise, like he hadn’t realized that.

“Huh. Yeah.” Tony coughs, awkwardly, before taking a sip of his second coffee. “Unexpected, huh? Next thing you know, we’re having team dinners down at the new Indian place, real buddies.”

He stops abruptly as if startled, cradling his mug between his hands with surprising care. He seems to hesitate for a second, his toes wriggling on the cold floor, looking at them before he takes in a deep, stuttering breath, puts on a smile, and suddenly, all the hesitation and vulnerability beneath is gone.

“Well.” He says, in a perfectly casual tone. “I have to work. I’ll see you both later, alright?”

And enters the elevator, and goes away again.

Steve is left feeling like he did something wrong.

“Was it something I said?” Steve murmurs dejectedly.

Natasha stared at him for a second, before cryptically suggesting:

“Maybe you should bring him a coffee.”

“He just… He just drank a second cup.”

“Bring him another one. He’ll like it.”

Steve frowns, not really getting where this is going. “How many cups can he drink a day?”

“Go figure it out.” Natasha commands, and as she turns the TV on and settles in her spot, Steve knows he is, somehow, being dismissed.

 

Steve does bring Tony coffee.

He gets into the elevator with a steaming fresh mug in his hands, feeling awkward and a little guilty, because he feels like he somehow misstepped in their earlier conversation, and he doesn’t like that idea. Tony is being gracious enough to house them, the very least Steve could do is not antagonize him – not any more than absolutely necessary.

Steve has never been to Tony’s workshop before. He approaches it with cautioned steps, like he’s intruding, when he finally reaches the bottom of the stairs and witnesses something he’d never seen before.

Tony is raising his hand and giving one of his robots, Dumm-E, a pat, like he would to a real person on the shoulder, like a proud father or a concerned friend.

Suddenly, Steve thinks of something.

Tony Stark must’ve been really lonely, in this big Tower all by himself.

Despite what SHIELD’s reports have said about him, Steve hasn’t seen Tony bring a single partner overnight ever since they all moved in. He could have missed them, of course, having different floors provided more than enough privacy, but Steve has never seen anything that looks remotely like a one-night-stand hanging from Tony’s arm, much less loudly and unashamedly, as he’d come to expect from his reputation.

He spends almost every day in his workshop. He’s always isolated. The only company he has are JARVIS and his bots.

The team goes on for days without ever seeing him.

Oh.

That was – Upstairs. In the kitchen.

Tony had been trying to reach out to them. Hadn’t he?

Steve doesn’t even have proof that this is truly what was going on, but once the idea formed in his head, he can’t remove it. He enters the workshop confidently, JARVIS easily allowing him in, and Tony doesn’t even turn around to greet him, still bent over an engine of sorts and very carefully ignoring Steve.

“Are you here to nag at me?”, he asks.

“No.” Steve exhales, a little nervous, before he realizes that is absolutely ridiculous and he came here with a purpose, so he might as well say it. “I brought you more coffee.”

Tony spins around, surprised, and looks at the Stark Industries mug in Steve’s hands so intensely that Steve can only extend his hand and offer it to him, because he’s honestly afraid that if he doesn’t, Tony might try to bite him to take the mug for himself.

But then, despite his intense gaze, he doesn’t reach for it.

“Hm.” He murmurs. “I don’t like when people hand me things.”

“What?” Steve asks.

“Just put it here.” Tony gestures towards the table right beside him.

“What do you mean, you don’t like when people hand you things?”

“I have a thing.” Tony explains, which is no explanation at all, and motions to the table again. “Leave it here.”

Steve frowns, but does.

Tony fiddles with a wrench, but eventually, puts it down and takes the coffee, slowly, with a low and wobbly thanks muttered under his breath.

He's so awkward.

He hadn't imagined Tony Stark would be like this.

You know what? Steve decides to risk it.

“It’s funny.” Steve comments off-handedly, waiting to see if Tony will completely ignore him. “I thought that you would have a coffee machine down here, if you drink it so much.”

“I do.” Tony answers, arching an eyebrow carefully. “Dumm-E broke it.”

“And you were petting him.” Comforting him.

Tony startles a bit, surprised that Steve saw that, and Steve can see the moment he retreats, embarrassed, and he nearly turns around and tells Steve to go screw himself before Steve beats him to the punch and says, as playfully as he can:

“Can he hand you things?”

Tony huffs a laugh. “You think I trust him to hand me anything?

But he does, doesn’t he? He does. And he doesn’t want anyone to know it.

Huh.

Tony Stark. Coffee addict. Unexpected loner.

Pets robots. Doesn’t know how to speak with his own teammates.

Well. Steve is nothing if not adaptable.

“You mentioned an Indian place.” Steve reminds him.

“Huh? Yeah.” Tony blinks confusedly. “It was just – Don’t worry, I was just thinking out loud.”

“It was a very loud thought.”

“Well, you know me.”

“What time should be ready?”

“What?” Tony reels back, surprised.

“Eight is fine?”

“What?” He repeats, “Huh, yeah? Eight? Eight is fine.”

“Eight, then.” Steve nods, and completely ignores Tony’s wide-eyed surprise as he says: “I’ll let the others know.”

It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.

 

It’s almost nine when they finally get to the restaurant because Clint was incredibly late, and Tony is wearing sunglasses.

Who wears sunglasses at night, indoors?

Tony Stark, apparently.

They sit in a table that’s actually two tables pushed together, because there’s no room for all of them, and it’s a tight fit, but it’s okay. The thing that bothers him is that Tony is sitting right across him and for some reason, he won’t ever look in Steve’s direction, which couldn’t be more unnatural if he tried.

He’s probably feeling awkward. Steve doesn’t know exactly what about – the petting robots thing, probably –, but right now It doesn’t matter. Steve has an idea, and he is determined to see if that idea holds any water when put to the test, and if it does—

If it does, this thing between them, this gap that refuses to close, maybe Steve can overcome it.

Maybe he can have a team again.

“So.” Tony says while looking at the menu, maybe a little more loudly than necessary. “What are we thinking?”

“Out loud again, Tony?”

Tony suddenly takes of his sunglasses, and finally, finally, Steve can see his eyes, and the moment feels like an accomplishment, even as Tony shrilly says, with his eyes wide and gleaming in surprise:

“You’re getting sassy now, Rogers?”

And the lack of a bite in his voice, the warm, delighted shine in gaze, the boyish joy, that’s what makes Steve smile a little and say:

“Well. You know me.”

 

When they step out of the restaurant, nearly at closing hours, there’s two paparazzi hiding behind a black car across the street. They aren’t even subtle about it.

Tony slips his glasses back on and gives them a wide smile and peace signs, picture-perfect and utterly charming.

All the softness beneath is gone.

Steve watches, wide-eyed, and finally understands.

 

He’s the one to reach out first.

He goes to Tony’s workshop with the not so false pretense of talking about his uniform, to go over some ideas for a new, stealthier version of his current one, and it unsurprisingly makes Tony talk for nearly hours on end, excited and electric, his leg bouncing up and down in unconscious impatience to start.

But if that conversation dissolves into something else entirely, that’s also not a complete coincidence.

Steve smiles, hoping it comes off as merely amused and not smug, as he feels inside, because this is it. Steve wasn’t wrong. Tony does like to make jokes and quips about people but in the end, he does offer help if Steve asks him calmly, because then it will come off as friendly, and not as an order. Tony almost impulsively rejects orders, just to be contrary and annoying. That’s how he pushes people away.

If Steve reaches out first, Tony’s reaction is completely different.

This feels like a revelation. It feels good, to know that Tony isn’t so incomprehensible after all, that maybe Steve can get them a little closer, maybe into a real friendship. Maybe this is the way to know the real Tony Stark – not to push him, but to meet him in the middle.

So Steve does. With the thing Tony loves the most: tech.

“You know.” Steve drawls. “If the suit is mine, shouldn’t you ask me what color I prefer?”

Tony scoffs.

“What, you don’t trust my style, Captain Rogers? You don’t think my baby is beautiful?”, and he gestures to the armor, tall and shiny behind himself, a statement piece, for sure.

“Your baby?” Steve chuckles.

“I practically gave birth to it, Cap, yes, my baby.”

“It doesn’t sound any less disturbing the more you say it, Sir.” JARVIS interjects sweetly.

Thank you, JARVIS.” Tony bites.

“It’s a little weird.” Steve agrees, kindly.

“No one asked you.” Tony quips back, humorously. “You want me do to my magic on your suit, or are you just gonna sit here and complain about my children?”

“No, please.” Steve raises his hands in surrender. “You do your thing, Mr. Genius.”

Tony huffs out a that’s what I thought, falsely arrogant, and Steve smiles as he leaves, looking back behind his shoulder, and the sight of Tony gleeful at the prospect of creating something new is a sight Steve will never forget.

 

Tony gives him a dark blue suit, smiling from ear to ear as he says:

Red is not your color, Cap. A shame, truly. Not everyone can pull it off as well as me.

And despite the smug, cheeky tone in his voice, he can hear it’s amicable, it’s a joke, A Tony joke, Steve can only laugh.

You know what?

Steve actually likes the guy.

He’s a good man.

 

After that first time, it’s like a dam broke.

Tony isn’t shy about reaching out first now. He finds Steve in the gym and helps him go over his routine and new exercise plans. When they meet at the kitchen, they share a quick bite while watching some mindless show on TV – Tony apparently likes being the one providing Steve his pop culture knowledge.

“You do use a lot of references.” Steve comments, between bites of his sandwich, but he’s smiling out of the corner of his mouth. He used to find strange the sheer amount of nicknames Tony is capable of producing for one single person, but now, he kind of likes it. It always comes with a new movie session or a book recommendation attached these days. Last time it happened, it developed into a Fast and Furious marathon, that, although ridiculous, was extremely entertaining.

Tony shrugs amusedly. “What’s the point of having all this knowledge if you don’t use it?”

“Why do you even remember all those things?”

“I have a good memory,” Tony off-handedly says; and then, unprompted, amends: “And also, Howard didn’t let me watch anything other than Star Wars when I was a kid, didn’t allow me to do anything, so I absorbed as many references I could just to piss him off.”

And the sheer shock of hearing this, of Tony willingly giving away such a… personal piece of information with such a nonchalant tone, a phrase that holds so many terrible implications being spoken as a joke, it baffles Steve.

It baffles him because how can Tony simply admit it like that, and because Tony is trusting him with this.

He looks at Steve, waiting for a reaction, and all Steve can think to do is to look back, swallow down his surprise, and say, amicably:

“It’s very impressive.”

Tony smile sits oddly in the fence between a smug I know and a sweet Thank you, and Steve gulps around nothing and decides he’ll keep this information to himself, as if Tony trusted him with a secret, and Steve will guard it close to his chest, safe, as it should be.

 

Tony getting closer to Steve also means he starts to get closer to the rest of the team.

At first, the idea makes Steve feel kind of bad, because it implies that Tony really was detaching himself from the others at first because of him; But then, Steve sees Tony and Clint trading jokes over breakfast and bonding over their love for action movies, he sees Tony coming up to the movie sessions more often with Bruce, he even sees Tony sharing ice cream with Thor once. Steve likes it.

But there is one time.

One very, very… surprising occasion, he finds Tony discussing ballet with Natasha.

“Did you ever do pointe?” Natasha asks, arching an eyebrow.

“God, no.” Tony huffs. “I did ballet because I’m flexible, not insane.”

“You did ballet?” Steve asks, rudely interrupting a conversation he simply happened to stumble upon, but the surprise burns so strong he couldn’t help it.

He unthinkingly looks Tony up and down, to the straight, sure angle of his raised head, the sinuous arch of his spine, out in the chest, curved in the lower back, the muscles in his legs, imagining him as graceful as Natasha is when she practices; until he realizes he shouldn’t do that, and he brings his eyes back up in a snap, feeling his neck oddly hot, until he realizes they aren’t even looking at him.

“You work as a superhero, but you’re afraid of hurting your feet?” Natasha mocks.

“Getting hurt to look pretty? No, thanks. I already look pretty all on my own.”

He does, actually.

But Steve isn’t thinking about it.

Natasha pouts exaggeratedly. “Poor child. Can’t stand to suffer for art.”

“I’m not big on suffering in general.” Tony replies. “And I already dedicate myself to a form of art.”

“Oh? And what is that?”

“The armor.” Steve jokes, awkwardly. “Isn’t it?”

“See?” Tony points at him, excited. “Steve understands.”

“Steve has never danced ballet in his life.” Natasha mocks.

“It looks hard.” Steve naively says. “I mean, I never tried it.”

Natasha smiles, wide and malicious, and Tony sighs.

“Steve.” He says, dejectedly. “Why would you say that?”

 

Steve sprains his ankle, and Tony laughs so hard he cries, that his voice cracks and his eyes wrinkle adorably, and Natasha nearly kicks him out.

He’s loud, he’s mocking and he’s annoyingly smug for the rest of the evening.

Steve wants to hear him laugh more often.

 

Steve takes no more than one day to heal, but Tony is a freaking mother hen.

“Tony, I’m serious. I’m fine.”

“Quiet. Move over.” Tony taps his thigh, motioning to the side of the couch. “We’re watching Planet of the Apes.”

He shoves something into Steve’s hands, and Steve belatedly realizes it’s a milkshake of sorts, or maybe a smoothie, with a soft pink color and a sweet smell, it looks delicious, and he can’t help but ask:

“When did you make this?”

Tony ignores him with a grunt, paying him no mind even as he sits right beside Steve and points to the TV. “Doesn’t matter. Movie’s starting.”

And the movie starts but Steve is still there, frozen and confused, so… so overwhelmed that Tony would do this, would leave his workshop and bring him a smoothie while Steve’s passing time, to make him company and watch a movie with him – to mock him, but never let it sting, bringing him peace offering and comfort in the form of something as simple as this.

Steve watches him out of the corner of his eye until Tony’s left leg stops bouncing slowly, and he settles quietly next to Steve, his eyes glued to the screen, relaxed and peaceful.

Steve feels his throat a little tight, and sips his smoothie to help it soothe a little.

It tastes sweet.

 

Colonel James Rhodes is Tony’s best friend. Everybody knows this. Steve knows this.

But he still feels like he’s been punched in the throat when he’s watching Tony and Rhodes argue playfully about what car Rhodes is going to borrow for his date tonight, and, all of a sudden, Rhodes hands Tony the key Tony had given him minutes before, just like that, easy as breathing.

“I don’t want the Tesla. Gimme the keys to the Audi.” Rhodes complains.

“Don’t be like that!” Tony argues. “The Tesla is amazing, she’s gonna love it.”

“Tony.” Rhodes insists, dangling the keys in front of Tony’s face. “Give me the Audi.”

Tony groans, as if it’s painful, and he takes the keys from Rhodes’ hand and gives him another set of keys, bemused, and Steve watches this with his jaw clenched tight, his teeth knocking together painfully before he can stop it.

“You’re gonna regret it.” Tony warns Rhodes. “Chicks dig the Tesla.”

“I don’t trust anyone who says chicks dig anything at this day and age, Tony.”

And Tony is spluttering, is complaining and being childish, but Steve isn’t really listening anymore.

Steve wants that. He wants it, he wants Tony to treat them, to treat him like he treats Rhodes, to trust them with all of his heart. To let Steve hand him things. To joke unthinkingly, to act like his stupid, outlandish self, being truly, completely unafraid of being genuine. Steve once thought he could only dream of convincing Tony Stark to feel as part of their team – and now he does, Steve thinks he does, and it’s so much progress, but it isn’t enough.

He still can’t make Tony smile like Rhodes can. He’s still figuring it out, he still has so much to learn about Tony that Rhodes simply knows, that Steve is still struggling to understand, but he wants to.

“Jesus, Steve.” A voice calls from behind him, and he turns to find Natasha, looking at him with furrowed brows, almost as if she’s wincing.

“What?”

Natasha says nothing, just keeps looking at him like he’s painful to look at.

“What?”, Steve repeats.

Natasha sighs, shrugs, and sipping her tea loudly, and says:

“You’ll figure it out eventually.”

 

“Tony.” Steve whispers. “You’re bouncing your leg again.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.” Steve complains, because he can feel it, they are sharing the couch again and Steve can’t pay attention to the movie if Tony keeps moving like that. “Stop it.”

“Make me.” He childishly replies, and Steve ignores the instinct to think why that sounds so suggestive on his mind.

“What’s wrong?” He asks, softly, so the others won’t hear. “You’re jittery.”

Tony shrugs, which is no answer at all, but for Steve, now it is.

He doesn’t want to talk about it now.

Ok.

Steve can wait.

“I’m gonna grab something to drink.” Steve says, to redirect the conversation. “You want some coffee?”

“Yeah.” Tony says softly. “Thank you.”

Steve gets up and jumps over Clint’s legs on the floor to be able to leave quietly, the dim lights of the living room and the sounds of car chases only barely registering in his mind, and he grabs himself some juice and a coffee mug for Tony without any rush, the movie forgotten in the lazy, familiar feeling of home, of right, of belonging.

Coming back to his spot is a little more difficult, because Clint has moved, and he complains You’re blocking Daniel Craig, Cap!, so Steve nearly steps on him while trying to sit back down, shuffling awkwardly—

And then, Tony reaches out before Steve can properly settle, and takes the mug from Steve’s hand, and says:

“Be careful.”

Not be careful with my coffee.

Or be careful not to spill anything.

Be careful, you’re gonna hurt yourself.

Be careful.

And he drinks the coffee quickly, sighing in pleasure at the strong, bitter taste, and Steve looks at him, and Tony’s bottom lip shines when he licks it to catch the drop escaping from his mouth and Steve—

He wants to kiss it off of there for him.

Oh.

Well.

Well… He’s figured it out now.

 

Steve is in the workshop and Tony is incredibly sleep-deprived.

That’s not news. Apparently, the tank top, sweatpants, barefoot look is a common occurrence, because Tony either sleeps too much or not at all, and eventually, he starts to lose the notion of whatever the hell he’s wearing and he just walks around looking like a sleepy mess all day.

He looks… soft. Cute. It's unhealthy as hell, sure, but have you ever tried to argue with Tony Stark?

Steve has. He knows it doesn't work.

The coffee machine is fixed, so he doesn’t need to go upstairs anymore; So now, Tony invites Steve down so they can spend some time together.

Steve is sitting on the sofa, sketching carefully, because this notebook is nearly filled already and he really doesn’t want to ruin the last page. It’s a picture of Tony, working on the armor with a sharp look on his face, the fiery spark of excitement burning in his eyes, and it nearly makes Steve sigh like a lovesick teenager. It’s ridiculous. He just… He’s just happy now, for real, he feels happy, and it’s all thanks to Tony and his ridiculous, out-of-proportions generosity, and nothing feels more fitting than sitting here and drawing him in his element.

“Why are you smiling?” Tony asks, squinting playfully.

Steve huffs out a chuckle, embarrassed, but you know what?

He’s risked once, and it paid off.

He’ll risk it again.

Tony likes risky.

Steve raises his sketchbook and shows him the drawing, his neck flushing unbearably, but he stands strong, holding Tony’s gaze confidently, unafraid of being genuine with him.

Tony looks at the drawing for a long, long moment, his eyebrows arched to high they almost look cartoonish.

“Uh… wow, Cap. It looks… really good. Uncanny resemblance.”

And then out of nowhere, he sniffs, so damn adorable, and averts his gaze quickly to the worktable, frantically reaching for tools and bolts – embarrassed.

“Thanks, Tony.” Steve says anyway, smiling wide. “Felt like I should make the last page justice. I’ll have to buy a new now tomorrow.”

Tony twitches at the chance to be unnecessarily nosy, fishing for a diversion so desperately is almost funny to watch him fumble. “You need more art supplies? I can get you more art supplies.”

“What? No. It’s fine.”

“Seriously, I can get you some more. I know a place. You know, like, an art store. The best—”

“Tony, no.”

“I promise it’s good, they have a bunch of stuff—!”

“No.” Steve smiles, and Tony throws his hands in the air, exasperated.

“What’s the point of being friends with the billionaire if you don’t let me buy you gifts?”

Risk it.

C’mon.

You know him.

“You can buy me dinner tonight if you want to.” Steve lazily suggests, leaning his head back and looking at Tony with sharp, smug, defying eyes, Tony’s look, and he knows Tony recognizes it when his eyes go so wide he almost looks like a startled doe.

His eyes are so pretty.

“Are you serious?” Tony exhales.

“I’m serious.”

“…Eight?”

“Eight.”

Tony smiles, mischievous, so, so wicked

“Tony.” Steve tells him. “Let’s take the Tesla.”

And then laughs, and laughs, and laughs, and Steve’s heart soars.

He doesn’t even know which one is the Tesla. He doesn’t care. Steve will ride the Tesla, or the Audi, or whatever car in Tony’s ridiculous collection; He’ll take Tony out for coffee, he’ll listen to him ramble about his pop culture knowledge for hours, watch him gush over his armor and his bots in the workshop, respond to his jokes and challenge him and give him gifts, more drawings, if Tony wants to.

Steve knows he can’t do ballet to save his life.

Still.

Maybe later tonight, he’ll ask Tony for a dance anyway.

He’ll do it all. He’ll adapt to whatever Tony throws at him.

It will all be worth it if Steve can offer him his hand and know, for sure, that Tony now will with no hesitance reach back.