The first time Tony asks him to dance, he’s drunk.
Normally, Steve doesn’t like it when Tony drinks at parties. It’s a subtle thing, a sip when someone makes a joke at his expense when he doesn’t feel needed. Steve hates when he relies on the bottle as his best friend at a party.
It’s embarrassing how badly Steve wants to play the role instead.
Not tonight, though. Tony is drunk and laughing, smiling sweetly at everyone, kissed Natasha’s cheek and was surprisingly rewarded with a gentle smirk back, and just- happy. He was happy.
It’s not really a party, just the 6 of them, pus Rhodey and Pepper and Happy flown in too, and Steve- he lives for that smile, that loopy grin over Metallica and his pretty mouth mouthing the words dance with me!
Steve considers it, for a moment. Tony, with his strong, decisive hands around his waist, dancing to music that he would never pick, brown eyes trained on him- it all sounds lovely.
There’s a lot of reasons he shouldn’t. Tony’s drunk, they’re in front of all his friends he’s never danced before. Sure, he’s not scrawny anymore but dancing with the guy he’s sweet on is always scary.
He’s not sweet on Tony, really. He’s just gotten past hating him. He hardly likes him.
Before he can answer, Colonel Rhodes starts dancing with him, arms around his waist as the music changes, and Steve is still happy, because Tony is smiling.
It’s a silly idea anyway.
The next time Tony asks, he’s talking about PR.
He’s wearing a suit, tailored to perfection. There’s something wonderful about Tony, in his element. This time, he asks Steve to dance as a means to show they get along.
He doesn’t get it, not really. How can Captain America and Iron Man dancing at a gala can help with anything PR related?
He and Tony are closer now. They spend every other night watching movies, keeping each other company. Steve had been up one night, punching the shit out of a punching bag, nightmare after nightmare about people he’s lost, waking up to a world where love isn’t there anymore.
And Tony, he’d sat up with him, when he hadn’t expected him to. Tony had sat with him, watched movies with him, called him old and made him feel like he had a friend.
It was the first night Steve had noticed how indescribably warm Tony’s eyes were. The first time he wondered if Tony had chapstick that made his lips look that soft.
Such thoughts are fleeting.
Steve learns quickly, the language of Tony Stark. It’s intricate; he lashes out, doesn’t accept gratefulness, but does so much for the ones he loves. He’s kind and lovely and gets coffee in his facial hair and gets motor oil on his clothes.
Tonight, though, they seem to rush in, as Tony leans in close and whispers in his ear, “Will you dance with me? I’ve danced with everyone else here and it might look like I have some problem with you if we don’t.”
Steve wants to, to feel Tony’s expert hands on his waist, his arms around Tony. He wants to, but it’s too much to take, now. If he danced with Tony, it might mean something. It might be something more than teammates swaying for image.
“I-I don’t-“ he stutters, and he wants to say he’s uncomfortable but denying Tony anything is hard-
“Steve. Look at me.”
“If it makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to. I’ll go dance with Pepper.”
“If that wouldn’t be too much trouble.”
Tony nods, and dances with Pepper, beautiful and dainty movements across the two of them, and Steve wonders why it doesn’t feel like he’s gotten a good deal.
Tony is a grand dancer, Steve notices. He’s not the first man Steve’s ever been attracted to, but Tony is different. He’s all curve and soft, brown eyes and tender touches.
Meticulous fingers, dancing across his workspaces and over his bots, talks to his robots and kisses babies like it’s the best part of the job. Tony’s- he’s really something.
Steve’s gotten into the habit of bringing food down to him (he needs to eat, to take care of himself. He cares so much about everyone else, he needs the care) and this time, Steve had walked in on Tony and Jingle bells.
Hip sway and a smirk, a record with a needle, and joy all over the silly face he’s so fucking fond of.
“Steve, want to dance?” Tony smiles, swaying dramatically, getting closer, smiling that flirtatious smile he always does.
“You need to eat, Tony,” he laughs, as Tony pulls him by the waist, into little sways and lord, he wants to lean into it, “And I don’t dance.”
Tony pouts. “Not even for me?”
“Not even for you.” Tony laughs, but sits down and eats the sandwich, and Steve doesn’t feel the tingle of Tony’s hands on his waist for the rest of the day.
Steve loves Tony.
He can admit it, now, that Tony’s the man he wants, something more than anything else, more than fingers brushing out of convenience. When Tony gets hurt, Steve doesn’t stay all night and wait because he’s nice.
There’s so much to love, really. He’s kind, so kind in a way he’s not sure can exist in the real world. He builds prosthetics for kids, visits hospitals and takes care of them. Takes care of Steve.
One day, Steve had seen Wanda having a chocolate bar, something called Dove. He’d been walking around the building with only, and Tony had noticed his smile, (because Tony was like that, he noticed things like his joy) and listened to Steve ramble about some story about military chocolate, and how when he was a kid, he scrounged up change.
“Ma would save up so I could have some, ‘cause I used to get hurt a lot. She saved it, and then I’d save it, and me and Bucky would share it.”
It’s stupid, and no one cares, it’s a dumb thing to remember, but Tony just smiles like it’s incredibly interesting.
He wakes up with a bar of chocolate on his desk, a brand that hasn’t existed since he’d been 23.
This time, Tony asks when Natasha got bored and is teaching them some basic ballet, Bucky making heart eyes at her and Thor trying to lift him Bruce.
Tony was laughing, and he is just so beautiful, brown eyes full of affection, and then he looks at Steve. It’s like a spotlight, the way Tony’s affectionate gaze feels on him.
“Steve, wanna lift me? Bet you can spin me around like I’m in Swan Lake!” Steve turns red, the smirk in his voice and the joy in his tone, strong arms out daintily like he’s a ballerina.
He declines and laughs because that seems safer than everything else he’s thinking, and he feels better when Tony laughs, squeezes his hand.
He doesn’t feel better when Thor lifts him up, and Tony laughs like it’s the funniest thing in the world.
Tony doesn’t really ask, this time. It’s the first time Steve’s seen him devastated- really, really wrecked. He’s sat by a record player, some Italian opera playing.
“My mother passed away today.” Years ago, Steve hears, and he wants to scoop him up in his arms and hold him, press him together until all his broken parts come back together.
“Oh, Tony,” he says, and there’s a sob that follows, a quiet thing, and Steve sit next to him, hand reaching out and twining with Tony’s slender fingers.
“She loved the opera,” he says. Tony is just so good, deserves so many things, and Steve just wants to give him the world, “Used to dance with me when she played records. She was always so grateful.”
Steve pauses, and then chooses to act, to make a choice about taking what he wants because fuck, Tony deserves someone to love. Someone to dance with him.
Steve pulls Tony gently up by the wrists, and Tony- innocent eyes expectant, a dance in the next moments. Steve wonders what it’ll be like, to hold Tony, to be his soft place to fall.
Right about when Steve’s going to put his arms around Tony’s waist, the assembling call is sounded.
Tony wipes his tears and goes to suit up, and Steve wants to say Don’t go where I can’t follow.
Steve finally dances with Tony in a hospital room, in a hospital gown, in an empty chapel.
It had been after a hard mission when he’d gone down. The Iron Man armor had gone down with him, Tony shielding him from the brunt of the damage, but still, he’d gotten hurt. Steve’d been injured, and Tony had waited by the bedside, every second of it.
Steve was so sick of this heartache, this want, that ate at his bones. When would he get to dance with Tony, get to hold and cherish the man ho taught him it was okay to do that in a new world?
Now, in a chapel, where Tony who doesn’t believe in God is praying for him because he knows Steve would want him to.
It's not beautiful. Steve plays some random ballad on his phone and sets it on a tiny chair in this empty hospital chapel, and reaches out sore and bruised arms to hold the smaller man, and even battered and a little broken, Steve has never felt anything so lovely as swaying, beat by beat matching the beat of his heart, with Tony Stark In his arms.
“You got your dance,” Steve says, into his hair. It’s addicting, holding Tony so close. He loves it, loves it so much.
“You kept me waiting,” Tony says, tearily. He holds Steve back like the bruises will crumple his bones and he’d fall out from under him.
Brushing matted hair out of the way, Steve leans in, and for a second, Tony’s eyes looking back at him, that makes every painful thing he’s ever felt completely worth it.
And then he kisses Tony, warm and soft lips meeting his own, brilliant man kissing him back and holding him tighter, and Steve never wants this to end. He just wants to kiss Tony as long as his lungs allow.
Time is a luxury he had with Tony. Months to waste, going from hate, to tolerance to a kind of love that burns so bright it scares Steve. Now that he knows it’s returned, time isn’t going to be rated for Steven Rogers. Not again. Not with Tony.
“I’m not planning on keeping you waiting any longer.”