"You know when I tell you that I'd do anything for you, it's not very nice of you to take advantage of that and lay out atrocities like this for me." Tony tugs on the opening of his thick sweater, unable to tell if he really is developing a rash or if it's a psychosis from the polyester necklace of huge green and red bulbs wrapped around his neck like a damn noose. “It's like someone threw up holiday cheer.”
He guesses it's worth it though, when he's rewarded with Steve's killer-watt smile, eyes unfairly bright and causing Tony's heart to vault. All of Steve is twinkling and glittery. He and the Douglas fir in the corner of the room could be sold as a set.
"Merry Christmas," Steve greets, intimate and quiet from his place on the sofa. He pats the space near him. "Come over here."
Tony is a puppy, can practically feel a tail wagging from his ass as he obeys. So happy to please Steve. He wouldn't purposely wear an ugly Christmas sweater, feverish trend or not, otherwise. But Steve is an impatient as he is, slipping an arm around Tony as soon he’s close enough. Steve gathers him down, knotting them both in a snug bundle.
"You look adorable," Steve comments as he noses at Tony’s cheek then behind his ear, breath warm and soft.
"Mmm, just what I was going for," Tony replies but the eyeroll he goes for doesn't have its usual spirit. It can’t really, when Steve’s looking at him as if Tony had just hung the moon and set off the stars.
Steve laughs. "You don't hate it too much, do you?"
"Oh! You mean Rudolph the Prone to Head Colds Reindeer?" Tony draws back a little to showcase the article of clothing. He honks on the obnoxious red nose. "His expiration is planned for tomorrow after dinner sharp. He'll be prancing right off into the incinerator."
"Don't act like you didn't know this when you decided to have a Christmas date night of all things, Steven."
"I reckon you have a point there." He steals Tony in for a kiss, kisses. His lips are smiling against Tony’s. “Thank you for putting up with me.”
“Eh, I’m not putting up with anything.” Tony curls his fingers into Steve’s penguin decorated monstrosity with a smirk. “Making out with you in a dimmed and sensual setting is far from a hardship. I get to introduce you to hysterical, inappropriate holiday classics and you’ll have that wrinkle of disapproval I admire so much.” He brushes his mouth along Steve’s brow to the space above the bridge of his nose, delights in the shiver it startles in the other man. “In this spot right here. Also,” and this is a truth that’s hard to make casual. He catches Steve’s gaze before continuing. “It means a lot to me. You," giving me this first with you, sharing the start, "wanting to spend this time with me. I know that you haven't had the best of luck with the holidays in the last couple of years.”
And that's Tony putting it very kindly. Since coming out of the ice, each holiday season has pretty much been a shit-show for Steve. SHIELD business and saving the world not only a priority but the only purpose he knew, alone and without a home before the makeshift and mismatched superhero team became a tenacious and correlative family.
Before Bucky Barnes returned to Steve without a mission.
Before Tony took a life-affirming chance in the aftermath of the end of the world.
"There isn't anyone else I'd want," Steve whispers. "Not here, at midnight before the tower gets a little crazy and everyone is everywhere. I'm happy that I get to enjoy the festivities with the team, if the megalomaniacs give us the day off like I'm hoping. I'm glad that I have my friends, my family but I also think it's something special, to spare a moment for the person you're with. Be thankful for them and show your appreciation."
Tony swallows, suddenly feeling like he's too big for his body. So fragile that he might burst. Unevenly and still without proper breathing function, "And this moment demanded hideous attire?"
And that boyish grin is going to be the end of Tony. Shrugging, Steve explains, "Well I just think that's funny."
"Menace." Tony presses a smack of a kiss to his smart mouth because he can't stand seeing it untouched. "One day I'm going to release a PSA but right now it's time to educate you on the awesome of the eighties. J, queue up The Christmas Story."
"Hold on that, JARVIS," Steve commands just as the tv gives off a blue light.
"Of course, Captain Rogers," JARVIS returns.
"Wha...why are we holding?" Tony absolutely does not whine.
"We're on a date, Tony. I have food," Steve says simply, proper.
Tony shuts right up.
Steve goes to the kitchen, rattles around. When he returns minutes later, it's with a steaming dish, a tub of ice-cream, plates and utensils.
Tony stares at everything in disbelief when Steve arranges it all on the coffee table.
“Apple pie,” Steve confirms, handing him a fork. He starts slicing it up, sets a plate in front of Tony. "Salted caramel to be specific."
“You baked a pie?” Because Steve and the culinary arts? Complete disaster. Tony’s had to replace the stove top twice in the last year. The best thing to happen to Steve in the twenty-first century might actually be a takeout menu.
"Uh, no. I'd rather not give you food poisoning if it's all the same to you,” Steve admits sheepishly, probably recalling the same kitchen catastrophes. “There's a little bakery in Brooklyn. I found it not too long ago on one of my visits to the old neighborhood. Everything that they have is amazing." He forks up a piece of his own slice and holds it out for Tony. "Try it."
Tony does and groans obscenely at the bite of hot caramel, how the rich buttery custard gives way to the mild crunch of hazelnuts on top of warm cinnamon apple. It melts in his mouth all too soon. Unashamedly, he releases the fork from the seal of his lips slowly, savoring and chasing every bit of it.
"Yeah?" Steve's tone is what should be an impossible combination of strangulation, awe, and wonder.
"Oh my god, Steve. It's sin. Delicious, sexy, beautiful sin," Tony waxes. He quickly tucks into his own. "Please tell me you bought like fifteen more of these."
"Two." Steve says with a wide and pleased smile. He shovels a generous helping for himself and mimics Tony's groan from earlier.
Laughing, "Bless the sweet tooth on you." Tony dips a spoon into the vanilla ice-cream and plops a melting scoop onto his plate, watches the confection blend into the flaky and creamy half-eaten wedge of pie with longing. "If I didn't love you before."
And that—that is uncharted. They haven't. It hasn't even been six months. Tony's been trying to do this right, not screw—
Steve licks into his mouth; his tongue rolls against Tony's, exploratory and deep. He quiets Tony's unvoiced rambling and puts it to a heady hush.
"I love you," Steve says.
Lips still grazing, those words are the only separation between he and Tony.
Tony wants to say it again, purposely, with the intent. His heart clenches at his inability, eyes stinging. He drops his plate to the table and holds onto Steve with a fist. He hopes that Steve gets the meaning, hears how desperately and entirely Tony feels it. "Merry Christmas."
Tony thinks that Steve does get it because he starts a kiss that goes. Until the sugar, spice, and salt turn into the pure taste of one another and well after.