Tony turned up the radio in his truck on his way out of New York. He was doing it! I was finally leaving New York City and his shit head Father.
Tony had tried everything he could to convince Howard that his CFO, Obadiah Stane, was corrupt. He had shown Howard the receipts provign Obie was skimming off the top and the pictures Rhodey had sent him of the boxes of what he knew were Stark weapons in the camps of an organization called the Ten Rings, but Howard had brushed them all under the rug. He had even claimed that Tony was trying to frame Obie because he was jealous of his and Howard’s success. That had been the last straw.
Tony knew his so called “Father” had been stealing his designs since he was 8 years old. If anything, the continued existence of Stark Industries was due to Tony and Tony alone. All of which meant that not only were the weapons that Obie was stealing his responsibility, but so were the rest of the various abuses and cut corners that Tony was discovering in the bowels of the company.
So, he left. If Tony was gone, then Howard and Obadiah Stane couldn’t use him anymore. Or...well they couldn’t use him in the way they had been. Tony was not about to drop his guard and assume they would leave him alone. Thankfully, Tony had seen the writing on the wall early enough that he had managed to have a nice little nest egg he could fall back on and several designs patented under his name and his alone.
Tony had asked Pepper to get him a place in Malibu and all of Jarvis’s servers were currently in transit under the name of one Roberta Rhodes. Tony loved the Rhodes family with all of his being. If Maria had been less...self medicated, Tony imagined she might have given Tony the same warm feeling that Mama Rhodes gave him. Not that he blamed Maria. Tony had seen first hand the realities of what being Mrs. Stark meant and didn’t blame her one bit for coping in the only way allowed to her. Howard...yeah, Howard he blamed.
Tony had done everything in his power to slip out of New York under the radar because he knew exactly what Howard Stark would do to him if he discovered what Tony was doing. Son or not, Tony turning State’s evidence against the company and leaving SI would never be forgiven. He was essentially dead to Howard, weather the man knew it yet or not, and Tony couldn’t care less.
He packed up his bags this morning with the necessities and the few sentimental things he owned, kissed his mother goodbye, and piled everything into a truck that Howard Stark wouldn't be caught dead in. He had driven out of town and not looked back.
Despite everything that he was facing in the all too near future, Tony had never felt so free in his life. So when Tony saw a man walking down the side of the highway ahead of him, he slowed down. He was leaving, why not help someone else do it too?
They were around two hours outside of New York City now and Tony was kind of impressed that a hitchhiker has managed to make it this far in the middle of the afternoon. He hadn’t seen another car for at least a half hour.
He honked to get the man’s attention and slowed down even further. The man turned when he heard the car horn and raised his hand to try and get Tony’s attention, but it was completely unnecessary. Even if Tony hadn’t already been coming to a stop, one look at the man would have had Tony slamming on the breaks. The man was gorgeous. He had muscular arms, a sharp jaw, and a great ass.
Tony slowed to a crawl as he neared the man and moved his had to the controls. He took in more details of the brilliantly handsome man as the passenger side window rolled down. His golden blonde hair reflected the midday sun and his pale skin was already reddening.
“Where are you headed?” Tony asked as he finally came to a complete stop.
“LA, but you can drop me off wherever you're headed.” The man replied.
Tony laughed. This was perfect. Maybe Tony wouldn’t have to do this whole drive alone.
“Actually, if you don’t mind sticking together the whole way, I’m headed to LA too.”
The stranger smiled. “I don’t mind at all.”
“Then hop in.” Tony leaned over and opened the passenger side door for him. “I’m Tony by the way.”
“Steve.” The blonde threw his duffle bag into the space behind the seat with Tony’s own bags. Steve turned and held out his hand to Tony. “Nice to meet you.”
Tony reached over and shook his hand firmly. He felt a slight jolt when their skin touched, but Tony ignored it. “Nice to meet you too.”
Steve buckled his seatbelt and Tony took off down the highway again, carelessly shattering the speed limit.
“So, what are you headed to LA for?” Tony asked.
Steve’s smile lit up his face. “I got offered my dream job at the Getty museum.”
“Congratulations!” Tony exclaimed.
The blonde dipped his head, the red flush burning his pale cheeks catching Tony’s eye as they speed down the asphalt. “Thanks. I’m really excited for it. So what about you?” The man peaked his blue eyes at Tony from beneath his lashes. “What takes you out west?”
Tony felt the first flicker of a rather devastating crush fluttering in his belly.
“Uh” It took Tony a moment to get his mind back in order, his eyes flitting back and forth between the road and the gorgeous blonde Adonis sharing his car. “Um…I’m uh… I’m starting a business with my best friend.” Tony swallowed. “Uh, I just convinced her to leave her dumb law firm and start a company with me. They’ve been putting off promoting her for three years and she and I both know I would be a horrible CEO. So she’s the boss, I’m just going to be making things.”
Well...it wasn’t a complete lie. He and Pepper were starting a company together, but a perfect stranger really didn’t need to know that he was also going to be giving the FBI evidence of Corporate misdealings perpetrated by his own Father and the man he had once called Uncle.
Steve smiled at him, plump lips curling temptingly. “Sounds great. I wish you the best of luck.”
Tony tried desperately to swallow. His brain was screaming at his traitorous heart that there was no way he could already be in love with this man. Nope, no way! It was just a smile. Nothing fantastic or even really romantic, but the blonde seemed so genuine. He seemed to genuinely want the best for Tony and there were so few people who had ever done that.
…Rhodey was going to kill him.
Tony was staring probably a little too dreamily at Steve’s back. He had gone up to the counter of the dinner they were eating at to get Tony a new fork after he had catapulted his first one across the restaurant when Steve had made a joke.
Tony had nearly snorted his drink and had slammed a hand down on the table, only to catch the handle of his fork and sending it flying. Steve had cackled, hand pressing against his chest as if to keep his lungs from escaping, and then offered, still laughing, to get Tony a new one. Tony had simply nodded, too busy trying to bury his face in his napkin as he tried to clean himself up and not choke.
The two of them had spent the last two days getting to know each other, and Tony was well and truly falling for the guy. Steve was just as happy and genuine as Tony had first thought. Steve would tell Tony the history of whatever area they were driving through at the time and squirm in his seat excitedly if they were nearing a place he found particularly interesting. They were almost embarrassingly behind schedule because Tony had been almost giddy in indulging Steve’s every interest and veering off track to see whatever it was that had tickled Steve’s fancy. They had veered off so often that they weren’t even halfway to where Tony expected to be after two days of driving, but it was completely worth it in his book if it meant Steve would smile just like he was now.
The ringing of a bell shook Tony from his thoughts. He looked up and saw a ridiculously attractive man walk in, the door gingling as it closed behind him. The man’s long brown hair was pulled up in a man-bun and his all black bad-boy ensemble was just about the hottest thing Tony had ever seen besides maybe Steve shirtless when he had spilled soda all over himself yesterday.
The man flipped his sunglasses off his face and pushed them up to rest on his head. Socking Ice blue eyes scanned the little dinner, clearly looking for someone.
Steve said something at the counter and turned to return to Tony with his new fork when he froze. Tony saw the moment Steve and the handsome strangers saw each other and felt his heart sink.
The man stalked over to Steve. The two exchanged some rather heated words that Tony couldn’t quite make out over the other sounds filling the space, but clearly it wasn’t good if the look on Steve’s face and the stranger’s furrowed brow was anything to go by.
Tony watched as the newcomer gestured outside and Steve nodded sharply. The leather clad man walked back out the doors, the bell cheerfully announcing his exit, and positioned himself right beside the door. The man was fidgeting, his right hand fiddling with the front pocket of his jeans. It was distracting, but not nearly enough to dull the ache of Tony’s slowly breaking heart. There was clearly something between the man and Steve.
Tony’s eyes moved sharply from where he was watching the stranger when he caught movement in his peripheral vision.
“Hey, here’s your fork. I’ll uh,” Steve paused and looked out the window to see the other man leaning against the building. “I’ll be right back ok?”
Tony nodded and opened his mouth to reply, but Steve was already charging after the stranger.
Right, Tony thought. Clearly Tony had been ditched. He looked down at his half finished meal, pushing his discarded pickles dejectedly with his new fork. Tony took a deep breath and forced his hurt to the side. He had only known Steve for two days. He just had to ignore the sting of his crush being with someone else and get through the inevitable conversation of Steve heading out to his new job with his boyfriend, or friend, or whatever the man was to him.
Tony looked up at the window again only to see the tail end of the argument the two men were having end in a searing kiss. The two of them pulled each other closer and the kiss depended. Tony swallowed, that would be really hot if it wasn’t such a punch in the gut.
Steve broke away from the man and pulled him off to the side of the building. Clearly going for more. Tony didn’t stop watching them until they moved completely out of his sight, hands grabbing at each other as they went.
Tony tore his eyes away from the spot where they disappeared and waved over their waitress.
“Can I get two boxes and the check please?” Tony asked with as much of a smile as he could manage at the moment.
The woman nodded and walked away, her ponytail bouncing cheerfully with her movements as if mocking Tony’s melancholy.
Tony looked at the place where the two disappeared again. Yeah they were definitely having sex behind the dinner and Tony was completely not in the mood to have Steve come and gently tell him he was heading out with his boyfriend, which Tony hadn’t know he had, with a satisfied post sex glow.
The waitress came back and handed him the boxes and the check with a smile. Tony accepted them with a responding grin and a rather stilted thank you, his insides numb. He had been a fool to think that Steve might return his little crush. He saw that now. He quickly packed up his and Steve’s food and threw more than enough cash to cover the check on the table. He just wanted to get out of here as quickly as possible.
Tony got half way out of the booth and paused. It would be wrong of him to just leave Steve without a word. He shot a look at the table and hesitantly picked up the pen from the check tray. He pulled the box with Steve’s food closer to him and hastily wrote a note on it wishing Steve and his boyfriend a safe trip and good luck in LA. Even if his heart was breaking, he only wanted the best for them. He tucked a few extra bills under the box hoping it would help the two get wherever they were headed next on their way to LA before finally getting up and leaving the dinner.
The bell chimed insistently as he pulled open the door as if trying to force its joy down his throat. Tony felt sick.
He dejectedly walked over to his now extremely dirty car and got himself organized, moving things around in the cab of his tuck to have a safe place to stash his food for the ride. He moved to throw a loose jacket in the back when he saw Steve’s duffle still tucked between the seat back and the back of the cab. Crap. He was going to have to go back in there and bring Steve his bag.
Cursing himself, Tony slid out of the driver's seat and walked around to the passenger side. He opened the door and climbed in, leaning over the seats to better reach Steve’s bag.
“Tony!” Steve called waving and jogging over to Tony. “Hey, I um,” Steve blushed. “I was hoping to talk to- wait what are you doing out here?”
Tony paused, he didn’t really want to say “ yeah, I was holding on to a dumb crush on you and didn’t want to see you reject me to travel with your boyfriend” , but what else was he supposed to say.
“Uh, well,” Tony looked over Steve’s shoulder and saw the rugged stranger slowly making his way over to them. “I thought you and your friend might want to travel together now, so I was coming to get your bag for you.” Tony half lied.
“Oh,” Steve’s face fell. “Well, I was actually going to ask if Bucky could come with us since he hitchhiked here too, but if you don’t want another tag along I totally-“
Shit! Shit! Shit! Tony couldn’t disappoint Steve. The sad puppy eyes Tony was just beginning to get to know were digging deeper into his soul than the pain of seeing Steve with someone he actually liked. He could fix this! He just needed to hold himself together until they got to LA. That way he could hopefully not disappoint Steve and maybe actually get to stay friends with him when they got there. So what if it crushed Tony’s heart into little pieces. It was worth it to not disappoint Steve.
“No! I just thought your bo-“ Tony cut himself off. “friend might have come to get you and you were going to head to LA in his car. If you both still need a ride you’re welcome to tag along with me still.”
Steve’s smile was all it took to convince Tony that he had made the right choice.
“You’re amazing, Tony” Steve gushed.
The brunette man finally reached them and came up to stand beside Steve. Steve reached out and casually tangled their hands together.
“Tony, this is my boyfriend, Bucky.” Steve smiled over at Bucky and Tony’s heart squeezed ever so slightly. “Bucky, this is Tony. He’s been kind enough to let you tag along on our little trip to LA. It’s gonna be great. Just the three of us driving across the country.”
Bucky smirked down at Tony, his eyes smoldering. Damn, but Tony felt small standing in front of both Steve and his boyfriend. They were both taller than him by several inches and at least 60 pounds of muscle. They were like two greek heroes, all shining and beautiful, and Tony was the twisted, deformed Hephaestus admiring them from afar. Doomed to never reach them.
Bucky bit his lip sexily and all but purred at Tony, his Brooklyn drawl coming in thicker than it had ever been in Steve. “Nice to meet you, Doll. Stevie told me you’ve been taking real good care of him these past few days. Care to extend that to me too?”
Tony decided that the confident curl of the big brunette’s lips should be illegal. It made him want to turn around and just beg the man to fuck him. Shit, but Tony was about five minutes from having another hopeless crush.
Tony tried desperately not to blush.
“Yeah.” He mumbled.
“Did you already pay for our food, Tony?” Steve asked.
Tony nodded, eyes still locked on the sexy smolder of Bucky’s ice blue gaze.
“Yeah, I boxed up your food inside for you.” Tony replied dazedly.
“Great!” Tony swore he could almost see the fluffy golden retriever tail metaphorically wagging in Steve’s expression. “I’ll go grab it and be right back.”
Steve headed back into the dinner leaving Tony and Bucky alone for the first time.
“Is there a place for me to put my stuff, Doll?” Bucky asked, nodding his head to the black duffle wrapped around his limp left arm.
“Yeah. I’ll just throw it in the back for you.” Tony replied.
Bucky reached down and unwound the straps with his right hand before passing the bag to Tony. He must have caught the fleeting questioning look on Tony’s face because he answered the question Tony hadn’t asked.
“It's a prosthetic. Doesn’t work too well. Not like those fancy new Stark ones they are testing out.” Bucky shrugged. “But it gets me by.”
Tony nodded and took the bag. “I hear the Stark ones aren’t functioning too well right now. I heard that the CFO has been skimming money off the top and it's not getting reported. But don’t worry, I’m starting a tech company when I get to LA and the first project we’re working on is a line of prosthesis I’ve patented that’s even more advanced than the Stark Industries one.” Tony looked up at the other man. “If you’re interested I can put you in contact with the company we’re running the clinical trials through.”
Tony smiled when he saw Bucky’s eyes widen in surprise. He turned and plopped a knee on the passenger seat so he could reach over the top of the seats and situate Bucky’s bag properly. It was only then that Tony realized what he has let slip. Fuck! Sure Stane’s dealings had been rumored for years, but most people didn’t know that. Hopefully this Bucky hadn’t caught on to Tony’s overshare.
“Beauty and brains. What don’t you have, Doll?” Bucky asked rather breathlessly.
Tony relaxed ever so slightly, his slipp apparently having gone unnoticed. He turned back around with a smile and caught Bucky’s eyes quickly jerking up to his face from where the other man had obviously been ogling Tony’s ass.
Shit, this was going to be a long road trip.
Steve chose that moment to jog up to the pair of them again, his box of food clutched in one hand and the extra bills Tony had left under it in the other.
“Tony, I checked and you must have left a few too many bills on the table. Here.” Steve passed the bills back to him.
“Thanks, Steve.” Tony tucked the bills away quickly, deciding not to press the issue. “Right, so should we get a move on? It’s still a long way to LA.”
“Yeah, let's head out.” Steve agreed.
Without even needing to check with Bucky, the blonde slid into the middle seat in the cab. Tony made his way around the car and squeezed into the driver’s seat. It was a tight fit and Steve ended up having to throw his arm across Tony’s shoulders for him to have enough space to turn properly, but it would do.
Tony pulled out onto the road and followed the signs to the freeway trying desperately to ignore how good the feeling of Steve’s skin on his felt and telling himself that Steve’s fingers playing with the baby hairs at the curve of his neck was 100% completely platonic.