Something many people forget, or rather, overlook, about Steve Rogers is that he’s not really 90 years old, not in terms of lived years, technically he’s barely thirty, technically he’s a millennial. And a fast learner.
All of this culminates into one, hour-long conversation with Peter and Harley (Tony’s never going to tell him to babysit them ever again (he blatantly ignores Rhodey’s jabs at his kids getting along with his boyfriend (they’re not like that, he swears))) which ends with Steve getting Instagram and Twitter. Which seems harmless initially, because it’s not like he’s going to get catfished, or groomed, or manage to buy into every pyramid scheme ever (Peter tells Tony that only Facebook has pyramid scheme ads and if, after that, he makes an active effort to be on the Stark Industries Twitter more, then no-one has to know), but it’s soon evident that memes, which appear to be entirely inconsequential fun, are in fact, not.
For whatever god-given purpose, Steve and Peter hang out a lot more than one would expect from a man from the Great Depression and a kid too young to remember 9/11, which means, as with most friendships, their vernacular somehow ends up merging, case and point, last week.
“So you and Cap are getting along pretty well,” Tony says, casually, as he walks into the kitchen around noon (he hates to admit it, but he’s getting to the age where his body will actively protest to any accidental fasting), and finds Peter waiting for his garlic bread to warm in the oven.
“Yeah! I know everyone thinks he’s hard-boiled, but he cooks with gas and he’s no chicken, so it’s all gucci in my book,” Peter replies, not taking his eyes off the oven door, completely oblivious to Tony attempting to translate everything he just said, because he’s fully fluent in six languages and what on earth just flew out of Peter’s mouth isn’t any of them.
Tony feels like he should be concerned, but Steve seems to be more comfortable in the century and Peter, from what he’s gathered, either thinks of him as an older brother or an eccentric uncle, so, despite his better instincts, he watches from afar as Peter (and some of his friends, and Harley) manage to incorporate more 1940s slang into their vocabulary than Steve had, and as Steve becomes almost worryingly invested in meme culture.
“I don’t really know,” he says simply, when Tony asks him why he took so easily to it. Tony pours out two cups of coffee and slides one over to Steve. It’s late enough that the very first rays of sunlight are just peaking across the horizon, and just about dark enough that they can pretend it’s still yesterday.
“They’re fun,” Steve says, after a moment, and Tony pretends to watch New York officially move into the next day, staring at Steve and the way the orange-pink light hits his face instead.
“I can’t say I understand it fully,” Tony starts, quietly, “but it’s nice to see you happy.”
Steve turns to face him. What feels like long ago Tony couldn’t bear the full, intense, focus of Steve’s gaze, but now, now that he’s not trying to intimidate him, he can’t help but feel almost comforted by it.
“Thank you,” Steve says, after a moment, mouth, pretty and so, so pink, quirking up at the corner.
He doesn’t know who moved first, but one minute they’re just staring at each other, and the next, he’s in his lap and finally, finally, they’re going to bed.
“May I remind both you, Sir, and Captain Rogers, that you have the mandatory biannual Avengers press conference in two hours,” JARVIS says, after allowing Steve and Tony a few precious minutes of afterglow (in the space of three days, Tony’s discovered some fascinating things about Steve, one of which includes just how fast he can move his tongue).
Steve groans into his neck and wraps his arms around his waist, effectively pinning him to the bed, not that Tony’s complaining, but he was late for the first of these biannual conferences and after that Fury installed a rule (with the help of Pepper the traitor), that ends with Tony teaching a community college foundation maths class, so he nudges Steve gently, “Get up.”
“No,” he says, almost petulant, somehow attempting (and, bafflingly, succeeding) to move closer to him, despite starting out with no space whatsoever between them, not that, once again, Tony’s complaining, “don’ wanna,” he mumbles.
“We have to,” Tony says, trying to be the adult, whilst making no effort to push Steve off him.
“Nah,” Steve says, and Tony can feel him smiling, all soft and gentle against his skin, “‘m Captain ‘Merica, don’ gotta do nothing.” God.
“Double negative, darling.”
“You’re’a double negative,” Steve grumbles, but the supposed intended effect is entirely lost by the way he’s looking at Tony, like he hung the moon and the stars and created life and the earth itself (for what reason, is akin to Atlantis to Tony, but by God had Steve asked him for the moon, for the whole damn solar system, he would do anything in his power to give him it). He knows that the battle is completely lost when Steve starts spreading a series of incredibly distracting kissing down his chest, and who is he to disobey his captain’s orders?
“One more strike and you’re off to community college,” Fury growls as soon as he comes into the green room, followed by Steve.
“He was helping me with an emergency, sir,” Steve says, Tony notices that his voice had dropped into what he’s internally dubbed his ‘Captain Important Voice’, which makes everyone what to follow his exact words (and has the side effect of making Tony unimaginably horny, but now, just before he’s about to be on multiple live news channels, isn’t the time), and despite being at least two decades his senior, Fury just nods.
“You’re excused for now, Stark,” he mutters, quite possibly the closest he’s ever gotten to apologising.
Tony grins at Steve, “Have I finally corrupted America’s Golden Boy?”
Steve smiles back, small, but with an edge, teasing, “Don’t take all the credit, I’m pretty sure Arnie and Bucky had something to do with it, back in the day,” he says, and Tony’s vision absolutely does not turn greener than a copper fire at the prospect of Steve having sex with someone else, because he’s well aware that he’s not a virgin, therefore, by definition, has had sex with other people, and Tony’s definitely okay with that and doesn’t want to drag him into the janitor’s room and mark him up where the people ten feet away can and can’t see (amongst his discoveries, he’s found out that his thighs are delightfully sensitive) and then curses the serum for clearing up the marks so fast that it would be entirely futile (well… not entirely). Nope. Not him.
He’s not bad at poker, but he knows from Steve’s expression that he’s given himself away, and then it dawns on him, maybe that was the end goal.
“Bastard,” Tony mutters, under his breath, as they walk through the curtains to face the vultures, and Steve just grins wider, that little glint in his eye confirming what he thought. He really does live up to the title of ‘Master Tactician’, huh?
And now Tony’s horny in front of quite possibly the worst group of humans to possibly exist: reporters (not that he’d ever even mention that to Wayne, not if he liked having his balls attached as they originally are, and in the right place). On the bright side (and they do like unnecessarily using the flash) they, and the prospect of the questions sure to be flung his, and the team’s, way, manage to pretty much decimate his libido.
The conference goes as all conferences go, slowly, Tony finds himself creating JARVIS’ updates, SIOS updates, and, during a particularly dull exchange between a reporter and Thor, reciting the capital cities in reverse-alphabetical order, then, during the mandatory sexist-reporter-against-Natasha exchange, the elements of the periodic table, in order of most to least reactive.
He takes to staring at Steve after that, he’s not in uniform, but he doesn’t need to be, to be respected and regarded as ‘Captain America’, everything about his body language, his expression, the way he holds himself, he exudes power and control and Tony’s fascinated and bewitched entirely, even as Steve’s focused on the reporters.
He almost jolts when one of them addresses Steve.
“Captain, as a man from a time when homosexuality was considered a criminal offence, do you support the legalisation of same-sex marriage across all states?”
Steve, if possible, sits up straighter, and says, “As a bisexual man growing up when I did, nothing would make me prouder for this nation. Everyone, regardless of race and gender, deserves to have the right for their love to be acknowledged by the state, withholding that right, just because it’s two grooms, doesn’t constitute American values of equality and freedom, and, if I may be crass, it’s long overdue.”
They don’t even get a chance to celebrate, or clap, because a white, balding reporter with quite possibly the worst shirt-tie combination Tony’s seen in a while, stands up, “I demand you resign, we can’t have a faggot represent America! You’ll be spreading your disease to impressionable young kids, then what would we be? A nation of fairies and bumboys? We’d be the laughing stock of the world!”
Steve gets that glint in his eye again, and smiles a little as he leans closer to the microphone, making direct eye-contact with the man, who’s squirming slightly, and up until this point, Tony’s almost forgotten about Steve and his fluency in modern memes, but he can see Peter grinning and he just knows what he’s going to say, a millisecond before it comes out of his mouth.
And that’s when the room explodes with more laughter than Tony’s ever seen in all his years (and maybe, when Steve grins, all sunny and bright and so goddamn beautiful, that’s when he realises that he’s in love, but that’s for another time), and Maria has to take them off stage.
The next morning, Steve flicks through his phone to find his face plastered all over the internet, news sites and meme pages alike.
CAPTAIN AMERICA SHUTS DOWN HOMOPHOBE
my parents talkin abt how ‘art isn’t a career’:
CAPTAIN AMERICA OR CAPTAIN DISRESPECT?
was anyone going to tell me that captain america is a millennial who’s aware of, and uses topical memes
or was i meant to watch him verbally decimate an incel on msncb myself???
STARS AND STRIPES? CAPTAIN AMERICA COMES OUT
anyways if captain ‘from the fucking 1940s gays are sin era’ america doesn’t have to “make a choice” neither do i ✌✌
“You’re a worldwide sensation,” Tony teases, nudging him.
Steve just shrugs, “It’ll go away by tomorrow,” he says, optimistically. He puts his phone on the bedside table and turns to Tony, all talk of memes leaving the room very fast.
It doesn’t. Not even when Ellen mentions it.
“Cap,” Peter says, jogging up to him, almost half a year after that damn conference, “I don’t think you understand, you’re gonna end up in the modern meme hall of fame.”
“Well, there are probably worse things to be known for.”
(It takes Tony an embarrassingly long time to realise that Steve was talking about his old sex tapes.)
((After that it takes him even longer to realise the implications: Steve’s watched those tapes.))