Steve decided to never again allow Clint to talk him into drinking games as part of his “introduction to the twenty-first century.”
"Okay, house rules,” Clint said, leaning back against the backrest of the booth they were seated at. “It can't be a random celebrity, or something. It has to be someone you actually know. Someone you'd go to if you suddenly found yourself gay and then had to have sex right away."
“But why would that even happen?” Peter asked. He was sort of slumped to the left, shored up by Thor's solid presence and a surprising stubborn streak. Steve felt a little guilty about letting the team get their newest and youngest member so completely sauced, but he figured a good—and gentle—hazing would ease the way toward fully accepted team member. It had worked for him when he'd joined the Howling Commandos, and better it be done where Steve could supervise.
“Kid, stop over-thinking and start thinking,” Clint advised.
“Why can't you ever make sense to me?” Peter asked plaintively, letting his head sort of roll forward off Thor's shoulder and onto the table, face down beside his pint. Steve was a little impressed that he managed to land in the small clear patch that wasn't taken up with empty shot glasses.
“Gay?” Steve said in a quiet undertone.
“Same-gendered sexual relationship,” Natasha explained, elbow-to-elbow on his right, leaning forward in a way that looked a bit aggressive but Steve suspected was just her way of remaining upright. Her eyes were half lidded and her expression relatively mellow. Steve was grateful for her because she had showed an unexpected patience in explaining all the new slang to him. Perhaps it was because English wasn't her first language and she could sympathize, though she had no trace of accent and he wouldn't have known unless he'd read it in her file.
“Fine, I'll go first.” Clint sat up, knocked his shot back and then placed the glass upside down in the center of the table where he and Natasha had been building an elaborate tower all night with such an intense determination that Steve thought it best not to interfere. “Bruce.”
As one, the table glanced across the room where Bruce sat at the bar, dark head bent toward Tony as he sketched something fervently onto a napkin. That was only slightly worrying. Steve resolved to keep an eye on them. Not that he'd probably be able to spot a potentially disastrous tech-bauble because innocuous things like telephones and TVs looked wildly futuristic to him. Damage control--rather than prevention--was his forte, anyway.
Peter turned his head in Clint's direction without actually lifting it off the table. “Dr. Banner? Why?”
“He's got that repressed nerdy thing going, so you know he'd be wild in bed. And that hair.”
Tony had dragged his fellow scientist away earlier in the night to “introduce him to some people” and had yet to return. Now they sat with several other scientists from various teams. Steve could identify Reed Richards by his powers alone, the very distinct blue-furred head of Hank McCoy and there was a third man, leaning up against Tony's back with a disregard for Tony's personal space that spoke of long acquaintance, thin and blond with a bright grin and wide, eager eyes.
“But what if he Hulked out?”
Clint shrugged and smirked. “Could be hot. I mean, the Hulk's huge and I bet everything's proportionate.”
Peter wrinkled his nose. “Ew.”
“Hey, don't judge my kinks. What about you, spider-pup? You gotta answer this question, too.”
“On the field, in an emergency situation, Jessica Drew,” Natasha announced with the clear, concise tones she used during debriefings, giving Peter a short reprieve. “Off the field, if I had time to explain myself to my potential partner, Pepper Potts.”
Clint held up his hand. “Called that one.”
Natasha drank her shot and then added to her glass battlements.
“Not the Deputy Director?” Steve found himself asking, mortified even before he'd finished the question.
“Nat has a thing for long hair,” Clint said. Natasha shrugged philosophically and signaled for another round.
“What about you, Captain?” Thor rumbled.
As all eyes fell to him, Steve tried not to squirm and probably failed. So far, he hadn't been able to think of any response but “Bucky,” and he didn't think that was a viable answer. “I suppose, if it's an emergency, it'd be whoever was with me on the mission.”
“Laaame,” Peter reported to the table top.
“I believe your reasoning is too realistic, Captain. This is a game of fantasy.”
“Yeah, c'mon, Cap, you gotta choose someone. That's the point.”
Everyone I would feel comfortable enough to choose is dead, sounded way too depressing to be passed off as a joke, even in Steve's head. Then again, his team had a pretty dark sense of humor, collectively, so maybe...? But better to be safe than sorry.
“Um, can I get a pass? Come back to me.”
“Sure, sure,” Clint said amicably.
Steve was tempted to say, “Nick Fury,” because he'd known Fury the longest and didn't think either of their feelings would be hurt or sensibilities scandalized. Steve snuck a glance toward another table in a shadowy corner where Fury was drinking with a grim determination, pacing Logan aka Wolverine aka...well, when Steve had first met him, he'd been going by “Jim.” Maria Hill looked bored on Fury's left and on Wolverine's right Agent Coulson looked...Coulson-y. The man had very few expressions.
Steve half-expected Fury to just know Steve was thinking of involving him in a less-than-appropriate situation and strike Steve dead where he sat, but that didn't happen. Steve ducked his head a little and tried to think Fury-free thoughts, in any case.
“Hey,” Peter protested, “how come it's 'sure, sure' for Cap but it's 'shut up and answer the question, kid' for me?”
“Because Cap's a nice guy and you're an obnoxious brat. Who's a lightweight. Now shut up and answer the question, kid.”
“I get a pass, too!”
“Baby. What about you, Thor? And if you say Loki I'm going to have to get up and walk away and not speak to you for an undisclosed period of time.”
“Oh my god, Thor, say it's Loki,” Peter implored, rolling his head the other way so he could stare up at the Asgardian pleadingly. “Even if it isn't! Clint will stop talking!”
“To Thor. That just means I'd talk to you more.”
“Oh my god, Thor, don't say it's Loki.”
“Were it my choice, I would not cast a single line but a vast net worthy of all my fine allies.”
Peter blinked. “Huh?”
“Slut,” Clint said.
Thor shrugged, and even in the slightly cramped confines of the booth, his blazingly red cape rippled gracefully. “There are things I find appealing about each of you, but were I forced to choose but one...” He tilted his head and rubbed a hand over his chin, “it would be our Man of Iron.”
“Tony Stark?” Peter managed to pull himself into an upright position so that he could scowl at Thor properly.
“Way too unstable,” Natasha declared. She had horded a small quantity of shot glasses and was now beginning to construct what Steve could only guess was some kind of guard outpost.
“Christ,” Clint said. “Only if I could gag him.” Then he paused and a considering expression came over his face. “Hm.”
Suddenly, Steve could picture that, with a clarity and detail that sometimes came to him, which usually meant he'd have to sketch it to get it out of his head. He fervently hoped that the dim lighting would cover the sudden flush he could feel climbing his throat and singeing the tips of his ears.
“Why Tony?” Steve asked before he could stop himself, genuinely curious. He knew they got along, but he didn't think they got along that well. Actually, Steve had always been a little bit envious of how easily Thor slipped into the good graces of their most abrasive teammate.
“Yeah, he's human,” Peter pointed out. “Couldn't you, like, break him by accident, or something?”
“I would be careful, and Tony is strong, stronger than most people realize. He fights, constantly, against himself and the world in a never-ending battle that is likely futile, yet he does not give up.”
“Ah,” Peter said, tapping the side of his nose with his index finger. “Very Norse. I understand.”
“He tames the soul of the mountain, shaping metal into beautiful constructs, sleek and deadly. He cages lightning in his chest. ”
“He sounds pretty spiffy when you talk about him.”
“He is,” Thor said with perfect seriousness. “But haven't you also expressed a similar admiration, Peter Parker?”
“Ah ha!” Clint exclaimed and then pointed at Natasha, who had loosened up enough to actually roll her eyes before drinking another shot.
“That--!” Peter flailed a bit. “Not my words!”
“A 'man-crush',” Thor intoned solemnly.
“Yeah! Man-crush. Not...not a crush-crush. It's an important distint—dish--two things that are separate and stay separate!”
“Methinks your boisterous protests are only meant as a distraction from a truth you would not have us see.”
Steve was sober enough to see the slight upturn of Thor's mouth and the twinkle in his eyes that said he was teasing, but he doubted Peter noticed.
“No!” Peter yelped. “No truth! I-I mean, sure he's kinda awesome. Every one of his inventions redefines what technology can accomplish. And his biceps. His arms are really...buff, for a guy who has a corporate day job. His beard, too, I bet that would be soft—but I have a girlfriend! I can admire a guy without wanting to make out with him.”
Peter was turning an alarming shade of red and Steve was about to call a halt to the whole thing when he felt a presence at his side. With a sinking feeling, he turned his head and looked into the face of the man in question, himself. Tony Stark propped his hip near Steve's shoulder, martini in hand and perpetual smirk curving one corner of his generous mouth. The line of his leg was a warm pressure down the side of Steve's arm.
“What's everyone talking about?”
“Who'd have sex with you,” Clint said without preamble.
“Not me!” Peter said and Steve winced. Peter was new. He didn't know that loud sounds and absolute declarations were certain to catch Tony's interest.
Sure enough, the dark eyes caught and held on Peter's flushed face, smirk deepening. “Really?”
“Yeah,” Clint drawled. “Peter was just saying how he'd never ever make out with you. Even if the world were ending.”
“Not my words!” Peter squawked. “Stop making up words that I say!”
Peter had good instincts, but he probably didn't know just how much trouble he was in as Tony straightened and handed his drink to Steve with an imperious air.
“Tony...” Steve warned, and was subsequently ignored.
“Budge over,” Tony said to Clint, who stood up and moved out of the way entirely.
“Yeah, no, I'm out,” the archer declared, picking up his drink and heading toward the bar where Bruce was still sketching something that now involved deliberately placed peanuts and pretzels, as the blond man looked on, nodding enthusiastically.
Tony took that in stride, sliding into the vacated spot, well into Peter's personal space, dropping an arm over the back of the booth, above Peter's shoulders. He gave Peter a sly sort of sideways look and Peter's expression was wide-eyed in return. “Really, Peter? Never?”
“That's not what I...” Then Tony dragged the fingertips of the hand that was perched just behind Peter's head up the side of his neck and Peter strangled his sentence with a small sound, eyes getting bigger.
There was a maneuver, something deft and well-practiced, Tony's hand gripping the back of Peter's head and the other hooking his knee and then Peter was practically in Tony's lap and they were kissing. Tony started almost sweet, coaxing, light closed-mouth kisses, teeth tugging gently on Peter's lower lip as Peter's eyes fell shut and he whimpered softly. Then Tony's hand, below the line of the table, did something that made Peter arch and gasp and they were kissing in earnest.
Steve had been aware, on some level, that there were different types of kisses, as there were different types of passion. The closest thing he'd ever experienced to something like this had been in the heat of battle, heading toward almost certain death, when there hadn't been much time to process it much less enjoy it. Steve had been made aware that there were movies in this era that would fill in the gaps, but that hadn't been much interest to him. Bucky had been skilled and enthusiastic in the pursuit of his various conquests, but Steve had always looked away or found somewhere else to be whenever things too heavy.
He found he couldn't look away, now. That he didn't want to.
Peter, younger and more impatient, kept trying to gain control of the pace, but Tony was stubborn—the most stubborn person Steve knew. He gripped Peter's hair and tugged him to the side as Peter tried to push closer, mouthing down the line of Peter's throat. Then they were kissing again, both Tony's hands cupping Peter's face to tilt his head, cradling and controlling with a gentle insistence, and Peter was making small, enthusiastic sounds, twisting to try and worm closer.
Just as quickly and smoothly, Tony wound the kiss down again, pulling back in little increments until they were just breathing against each other's lips. When Peter made a grab for him with a soft whine, Tony caught his wrists and tucked them neatly in against the small of Peter's back.
Steve knew for a fact that Peter could break Tony's grip if he wanted to. Super strength had been in Spider-Man's SHIELD profile. Instead, after a token resistance, Peter relented, back arched slightly to accommodate, leaning into Tony as much as he'd allow, eyes slitted as he watched Tony's face for cues.
“So, who would you turn gay for?” Tony murmured against Peter's mouth and rode out the small buck and flex as Peter tested his hold.
“You,” said on a ragged exhale.
“Good boy,” Tony said, nipping Peter's swollen bottom lip once more and then letting him go entirely, setting Peter to rights as much as he could and slipping back out of the booth. “Welcome to the team, Peter.”
He paused to pluck his drink out of Steve's hand and toss a wink in Steve's direction. Steve was abruptly aware that he was gaping a little and closed his mouth hastily, trying to look anything but bothered and aroused. Tony smirked at Natasha and then ambled off, heading toward the table where Fury sat, still drinking with ferocious focus.
Thor took a sip of beer and glanced down at Peter. “Are you well, my young friend?”
“Tony fucking Stark,” Peter said, voice a wreck, color high in his cheeks.
“Indeed,” Thor rumbled, content to be the solid object Peter leaned against as he got his breath back.
“And?” Natasha murmured in a low voice meant only for Steve, toe tapping gently against the side of his foot. “Your answer, Captain?”
Steve sank lower in the booth wondering if he could slide out completely and avoid having to answer. Logically, he could just not say anything, but it was in his head, pressing against the back of his teeth, so he might as well get it over with, rather than blurt it out at an inopportune moment.
“Tony.” He felt a little like he was shaking apart, and thought, Get a grip, Steve. “I'd...for Tony. With him.”
Natasha tipped her head and raised an eyebrow toward Clint, who was sitting close and curved toward Bruce at the bar, but he caught the movement anyway. With a slightly sardonic smile in return, he saluted her with his shot glass and then knocked it back.