Steve has a dilemma.
It’s after ten in the evening on what is technically his second date with Tony. It’s been good so far: dinner at a nice restaurant, a brisk after-dinner walk, and their current sitting together in the Tower common area waiting for late-night TV. The conversation’s been good, they’re both far more relaxed than they were on their first date, and Tony’s comfortable enough to tuck himself up against Steve’s side as Steve fails to pay any proper attention to what’s happening on TV.
It’s been pretty problem-free thus far.
But Steve has a dilemma all the same, and it stems from his lack of dating experience, coupled with his more general lack of experience with the wild rollercoaster that is Tony Stark.
“We should hire that guy,” Tony says.
“Hmm?” Steve says helpfully.
Tony gestures loosely at the TV. An upbeat commercial of some sort is playing, and Tony enters into an anecedote about commercials that SI used to do and his favorites were the ones that were effectively short films that made no sense and why don’t more people make that these days? It’s all interesting, but Steve is honestly more concerned with the fact that Tony’s resting against him, and that when the talks, the vibrations rumbles right through Tony’s chest to Steve’s.
For these details are core to Steve’s dilemma, which is: how much touching is appropriate at ths point? They haven’t kissed, beyond Tony’s pecking his cheek after their first date. They haven’t held hands, though there’s been some casual touching of each other’s arms and back here and there. Tony isn’t shy -- at least, he hasn’t given any inkling of being shy around Steve -- but the build of physical closeness has been far slower than Steve expected.
“I mean, you do ads, right? PSAs count as ads?” Tony says. “That guy does that thing with his eyebrows, it’s hilarious--”
Because Steve doesn’t want Tony to be the one marking all of their relationship milestones. Sure, it’s too early for that to even be an issue, but Tony’s the one who asked Steve out, and did most of the deciding for their first date, and various other things. Steve’s kept up on his side of things, such as starting their new habit of sending random messages to each other at any time of day, but he feels that he should do a share of showing Tony that he’s welcome to take more of his personal space than he has thus far.
“--not that it’d have to be a commercial,” Tony’s saying. “Or a political ad. Oh hey, you’d do a political ad, though, right?”
“Only after a great deal of due diligence,” Steve says.
Tony bobs his head. “Fair.”
“Are you comfy?” Steve says, hopefully not too quickly. “Is it okay if I move my arm?”
“Oh, hmm? Yeah, sure.” Tony moves, making space for Steve to lift an arm and settle it around Tony’s shoulder.
Interestingly, Tony barely seems to register the change, and is back to talking about the Avengers’ public-facing activities and that it’s a crime against humanity that Steve hasn’t made any PSAs since Tony made him a suit that actually flatters.
Steve responds appropriately -- reminding Tony that the PSAs were only a favor to Fury, and that he prefers groundwork activities -- but since he is a multi-tasker, he’s also parsing the new feel of Tony under his arm, warm and comfy and distributing his weight differently. Also, the fact that it’s not a big deal to Tony makes it a big deal to Steve, and has him thinking that he should’ve done it earlier.
Should he be doing more? He should be doing more. Just a little more; not to be pushy or aggressive in way, but just to show that Steve’s equally comfortable with Tony.
In this position, Steve could trail his fingers across Tony’s upper arm or neck. Would a neck touch too suggestive? It should be, necks are vulnerable areas. Perhaps his hair be a better choice. There’s so much of it and it’s so full of personality, that even Natasha plays with Tony’s hair sometimes.
As Tony starts on a tangent of asking which actor he’d like to play Steve in a hypothetical Avengers movie, Steve lifts his forearm, careful not to dislodge where Tony’s resting against his bicep, and splays his fingers that they brush the top of Tony’s hair.
Tony doesn’t seem to register this, either. Instead he says with a laugh: “You’re such a liar. You’ve watched more movies in the last six months than I have. You have opinions.”
“Not on this,” Steve replies. Emboldened, he pushes two fingers a little further into Tony’s hair, and twirls the strands around his fingertips. “Honestly.”
“What, you don’t register other sharp-jawed blond beefcakes?” Tony grins. “Only I do that?”
“You’d have better luck asking my opinion of incredibly charming dark-haired men with impeccably-trimmed facial hair,” Steve says.
“Impeccably trimmed,” Tony echoes. “Well dang, I got standards to live up to now.”
The conversation continues, drifting from topic to topic. Meanwhile, Steve keeps touching Tony’s hair, two fingers to three to four. He notes the texture of product near the ends, but there’s softness further in, where the hair grows thicker closer to the roots. Steve finds himself thinking of Bruce’s sensory mats, and how interesting they are to touch, though less interesting than Tony’s hair.
There’s bounce to it, though it’s tricky to tell how much of it is product and how much is natural. Steve thinks it would be just as interesting either way, though tonight it’s perfectly coiffed -- date night, so it’s to be expected. Tony’s hair is different during days he cares less about how he looks; early mornings are good for that. But he does comb his hair this way regularly, in waves running backward from the temple, though he adjusts the front as needs be.
Tony doesn’t say anything about it. He doesn’t call Steve out or ask what the hell he’s doing, so for a minute or so Steve wonders if Tony really hasn’t noticed at all. But that impression is wholly discarded when Tony… presses back. Against Steve’s hand.
Steve’s tongue doesn’t trip. He keeps going -- conversation and petting both -- while inside he’s pretty much crowing his success.
Permission fully granted, Steve’s fingers find Tony’s scalp. He’s careful to keep his fingernails away, and so merely draws patterns through the roots of Tony’s hair, moving with and against the direction of growth, and reveling in the varied texture.
Minutes of this must pass. It must, because the very talk show they’ve been waiting for is started, though hell knows if either of them is really watching it.
It is at this point that Tony turns, his gaze moving from the TV screen to land squarely on Steve’s face. “So, hey.”
“Hi?” Steve says.
Tony’s resting his head against the jut of Steve’s shoulder now, and blinks slowly at him. It occurs to Steve to Tony looks slightly drunk, just as Tony says, “You want me to suck your dick?”
Steve is so startled that his head jerks back, teeth clicking together as he jaw snaps shut. It takes a second or so for him to recover enough to say, “Excuse me?”
“Right now,” Tony says, as if it isn’t also a reality that Steve hasn’t gotten to kiss him yet. “I’m game if you’re game. As long as you don’t--” Tony’s eyes pointedly flick upward to his own head, “-- stop.”
Steve takes a deep breath. He brings all his fingers right on into the thick of Tony’s hair at the back of his head, in a circle against Tony’s scalp that Steve narrows down to a point, and Tony makes this -- this sound, which is immensely distracting.
Even so, Steve says patiently, “Tony, you don’t need to offer a blowjob. I’ll play with your hair for free.”
Tony blinks again, slower this time. Sometimes it’s difficult to read him, but in this moment his quiet glee is perfectly clear.
“Cool,” Tony says -- nay, slurs. “But we’ll do the blowjob thing eventually, yeah?”
Steve clears his throat. “Yes, eventually.”
So it is that Steve learns the following: what Tony’s date hair feels like, that Tony very much doesn’t mind when Steve plays with his hair, and that when Steve plays with his hair long enough it turns Tony into a highly affectionate cuddle monster. All very nice things.
And Steve does get his kiss later, too, which is also very nice.