“I’m going to die.”
Steve watched with horror as the boy next to him poured an energy drink into his coffee at half past seven in the morning.
“Yeah, but…” Steve started to say, but the boy had already downed his deadly dose of caffeine in one gulp and scrunched his face in disgust. “Please turn the other way when you have to throw up.”
On the one hand, he felt sympathy for the brunette - who looked like death warmed over - but what kind of idiot thought it was a good idea to mix coffee and… guava flavored energy drink? Steve doubted the guava flavor would hide the taste of gummy-bear-soul-cemetery.
He realized he had been staring when the other tilted his head and shot him a bleary but questioning look. It was kind of cute with his tousled hair… “Huh?”
“I asked you what class I am in anyway,” the boy chuckled.
“History. With Mr. Coulson.”
“Ugh… damn. He never lets me sleep.”
“Yeah, because that’s what beds at home are for,” Steve deadpanned at the whining, but the other had already pressed his jacket into a pile and buried his face in it.
“Smartass,” was the muffled response and the mop of hair turned his face his way. “Who are you anyway? Don’t think I have seen you here before.”
“Steve. Steve Rogers. We just moved here so…” After all the treatments for him, his mom and him had to move into a smaller apartment and it was far enough away that attending his old school had been out of question. “But I haven’t seen you in this class until now…”
“Oh, yeah. Well history is boring and I wouldn’t be here if Coulson didn’t have a secret weapon stash.” He could only guess the last words because the boy was yawning at the same time. “I’m Tony.”
“Weapons… right. Mr. Coulson totally looks like some kind of assassin.” He quirked an eyebrow but couldn’t hold back a smirk.
Tony did not seem to mind the dry response because he was conspiratorially leaning towards him. “There is more to him than his lame paper-pusher appearance. Believe me.”
Thankfully, said teacher came in and saved Steve from thinking of something more to say. He genuinely liked history class, and Mr. Coulson was a great teacher, but it did not stop him from looking at Tony from time to time.
Apparently the caffeine had kicked in, because the brunette was now furiously scribbling stuff into his notebook and rocketing his left knee up and down. The things he wrote down – not that Steve was reading it or anything – looked more like equations than history notes and latter was slowly starting to get annoying. Steve tried to tune it out and focused more on French Revolution, which worked out pretty well for the rest of the class.
When the bell rang he saw Tony hastily pack his bag and run out of the room.
He was hallucinating, and he was about 60% sure his desperate-morning-cocktail was to blame. Or dreaming because his drink put him into coma.
A little voice that sounded way too much like Rhodey was singing the ‘I told you so’ song.
Tony had spent the whole lesson to do the math on the possibility of sitting next to the Hot New Guy without realizing, and then being as suave as a lamp. And he was stuck next to him for the rest of the year because fucking Coulson always made those nifty little seating plans teachers seemed so fond of.
This year was going to be his longest yet.
Luckily, English was next. Equally uninteresting but at least he could whine at Rhodey.
“Oh God. Please tell me you did not drink that stuff again, Tones.” Ahhh, the sound of suffering that only a longtime exposure to him could provide.
“Doesn’t matter,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “You have-”
“It actually does. Didn’t Bruce show you the improved power-point presentation on why you should not mix energy drinks with espresso or alcohol like… yesterday?”
“Last week, you mother hen, and I’m awake so I’m fine. There are more pressing issues at hand.”
“Like why didn’t Barton tell me I have history with Hot New Guy?!”
He had to give it to his best friend: his eyebrow-game was strong. “What?”
“You know… blonde, really, really blue eyes, shoulder-waist-ratio of a Dorito…”
“Ah, that Rogers kid, right? I have PE with him and… wait. Why are you only realizing this now? School started a month ago.”
“Tony, did you skip classes again until Coulson had to threaten you with a taser so you come out of the computer lab?”
“First, I’m pretty sure teachers aren’t allowed to use tasers on school grounds. Second, … yeah… kind of… sort of… maybe.” In order not to watch Rhodey’s familiar reaction, he watched the flying patterns of a fly that was buzzing nearby, but he heard the telltale sound of a hand meeting a forehead.
“Yeah… okay,” his friend sighed in resignation. “And what is your problem with Rogers being in your history class? He’s nice.”
“I have to sit next to him.” The dramatic pause apparently did not excite Rhodey as much as anticipated. “I mean have you seen him? He’s really hot! Barton was not exaggerating for, like, the first time in his entire life.”
“Still. what’s your problem?”
“I can’t stare at him from afar?”
“Creepy. Maybe you could… I don’t know… talk to him like a normal person.”
“Yeah, no. That ship has sailed. He talked to me, actually, but it was really awkward and then at class he shot me looks like I was some sort of alien.”
“You have to admit, you are a bit weird when you write down numbers and stuff when the topic is actually The Scarlett Letter.”
“Whatever you say, Tony,” Rhodey chuckled and ruffled his hair despite the explicit protests. “Just talk to him. He’s new, maybe he would appreciate a weird friend.”
Yeah, sure. As if someone like that needed some awkward nerd as a friend…
“So how about Sharon? You know her, right? And she’s a pretty girl.”
“No, thanks Natasha.”
“Why not? She smiles a lot at you and she’s not stupid.”
“She’s my ex-girlfriend’s cousin. So no, thank you,” Steve cut her off decisively and started eating what approximately looked like lasagne. It tasted like mushy cardboard with ketchup. “Sam, help me here!” he mumbled after a bite.
“Sure! I mean, there is also Ramona from history class who shoots you longing glances.” Sam looked pretty smug when Steve glared at him, so he looked back to his disguised cardboard.
“Huh, well, if you’re more into ass, there’s still Johnny Storm. Because damn…” Clint chimed in while waving his fork in the general direction of the Storm siblings.
“For the last time, I don’t need a girlfriend… or boyfriend. So save your breath, okay? There’s too much going on in my life as it is.” Steve tried to sound calm and resolute, but it actually came out as slightly aggressive whining and he already felt the heat rising in his cheeks.
“That’s the thing: you’re too tense. You need someone to loosen you up a little.” Clint waggled his eyebrows and winked at him. “If you know what I mean...”
“Maybe you just need another environment to get to know them,” Natasha proposed.
“Which reminds me…” Sam interjected in a moment of pity. “We still have to throw a welcome-party for Steve and Thor. My parents are out of town this weekend, so we could do it at my place. What do you think?”
“Awesome! I’m gonna get the booze.” Clint grinned like an overexcited puppy and high fived Sam. Nat just rolled her eyes fondly at them, and all Steve wanted to do was choke on his lasagne. His hopes on a small, quiet party with just friends hanging out were sailing away right in front of his eyes.
“Can I at least bring someone?” he asked feebly which pulled their immediate attention.
“Someone?” The hope and perverse excitement in their eyes made him realize he could have phrased that better.
“My oldest friend. You know… in a platonic, non-romantic, non-sexual way.” He smirked drily and thanked God for his poker-face. “Sorry to disappoint you.” Bucky was his best, and for a long time, only friend. There were risks he was not willing to take.
“Boring. But yeah, invite him.” Clint clapped his back while Sam nodded and tapped on his phone. “Everyone bring some people. It’s gonna be great!”
So much for a calm weekend.
Tony had to admit, he has probably been a bit… preoccupied the last four weeks or so because HOW THE HELL DID HE NOT REALIZE HE HAD FOUR SUBJECTS WITH HOT NEW GUY?!
Okay, school bored him on a regular basis, and he might not be the most attentive person when it came to people – or better: ‘the people skills of a piece of toast’ (Rhodey’s words) - but Steve.
However, the year was still young, so Tony could man up and talk to him and maybe, at the end of the year, he would finally be able to have a proper conversation with the guy. Or, you know, he could just stare at him like…
Something in his immediate vicinity moved.
Tony’s head snapped up to see the indignant frown that was usually accompanied by his father. Oh, shit.
“God damn it, Anthony! If that’s how you do your work, I should reconsider our deal,” Howard growled and flicked a crumpled piece of paper – presumably another blueprint – at his head. “But if you always space out when you pretend to be working, then it’s no surprise.”
“What was wrong with this design?” Tony had been very proud of his ideas on the project, but the longer he was exposed to his father, the more he felt like he was four years old again. Only this time, there was no Jarvis to protect him.
“You want to know? You really want to know?” Tony gulped but nodded. “It’s disappointing, that’s what’s wrong.”
“No but! Stark men aim for perfection and not… this.” Howard scrunched his face in disgust. “Do the design again, and properly this time, or the deal is off. Understood?”
Without another word, his father stormed off, mumbling something about his son being a menace and asking God how he could possibly earned someone as useless as him. The phases were common enough for Tony to ignore them. They hurt nevertheless, but he was old enough to know how to stuff these feelings into boxes and shove them to the back of his mind.
He had no time to deal with this shit, anyway. He had work to do.
Blindly, he switched his coffee maker on and pulled up the blueprints, not bothering with the one his father had left behind. He probably just had to minimize the gun’s recoil and perhaps improve the feed system…
With a sigh, he ran a hand through his hair. He still had homework for the next day.
This was going to be a long night.