They never understood each other.
Or heard each other.
Or listened to each other.
Which was extremely ironic since they were constantly at each other’s throats.
If arguing was a language, Steve and Tony would be fluent in it.
Whenever they weren’t sparring or talking with other members of the team they would be arguing over the tiniest things. Sometimes it would be about how Steve made the wrong call on a mission or how Tony shouldn’t have intervened so impulsively.
That wasn’t your call to make, Cap. People could have gotten hurt! God, why don’t you ever use your brain. You’d think that the serum would also make your brain bigger. I guess we discovered one thing it didn’t enlarge!
Well, you shouldn’t have acted so fast. We almost had them! You’re always the first to make a move, maybe you’re the one who should be using their brain. Why are you so impatient all the time?!
Other times it would be about domestic things around the tower that was absolutely pointless. Like how the TV remote is never where it’s supposed to be, or how peanut butter doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It wasn’t always the others’ fault, it just seems like they wanted excuses to yell at each other.
Can you please just start washing your own dishes?
Well if it bothers you so much, why don’t you just put them in the dishwasher, Rogers?
You know full well you’re capable of doing that as well, Stark!
I don’t know, am I?! You said I needed to use my brain more! Look who’s the impatient one now!
It was infuriating. No one knew why their main method of communicating was arguing and yelling. So, it went on for months.
The rest of the team tries to ignore it, but eventually, it gets too overwhelming and affects team morale. The whole dynamic was off- mission after mission it just got worse. Everyone else walked on eggshells around them and tried not to set off the ticking time bomb that was just waiting to explode at any moment.
If you asked Tony why Steve made him mad, he would probably say that Steve was too stubborn and irrational. He thought that Steve was full of bullshit.
Why you may ask? He doesn’t have an answer.
But Steve made him want to get out of bed in the morning, just to prove him wrong in every way. He always made it his goal to infuriate Steve and prove that he’s nothing Steve says he is.
Steve says he’s heartless? Fine. Tony will donate millions to a children’s orphanage.
Steve says he’s weak? Okay sure. Tony will wake up the same time he does and work out.
Steve says he’s selfish? Wrong. Tony will make sure all of their suits are just as advanced as his so that it’s harder for them to get injured and die while on a mission.
He couldn’t let Steve die, because if he did then Tony couldn’t prove him wrong anymore and beat him.
Steve Rogers made him want to do things out of spite just to prove him wrong.
“What in the ever-loving fuck did you do that for? Throwing a grenade into a building?! What were you thinking” Tony spat. They were stepping out of the elevator after a long mission and they were mad at each other, as usual. The rest of the team dispersed into their own activities while also keeping an ear out for this argument.
Say what you want, but their bickering was quite entertaining.
Steve wiped his shield and took off his cowl, placing both on the couch and running a hand through his wet hair. It was an eventful mission near the end, Steve had redirected a grenade into a collapsing building. Ultimately injuring the enemy and winning them their mission.
“I was trying to protect the team. Maybe you should try it for a change! And the grenade helped us win didn’t it? So I don’t see what you’re so mad about!”
“What if there were people still in it?! You could have killed them. There were other ways, Rogers” Tony retaliated. He was standing a few steps from Steve but they could both still the heat coming off their bodies in anger.
“JARVIS said that the building was clear. I did what I had to do,” he replied, trying to contain his anger. Truth was, he saw the grenade being launched at Tony and Clint so he quickly threw it into a nearby building which was cleared moments ago.
“Oh, well I’m glad you did what you had to do, Cap,” Tony mocked. He slapped a hand on Steve’s shoulder and gave it a pat. “Yeah real nice. I’m glad you did what you needed to do. Who’s the selfish one now?”
Steve swatted Tony’s hand away harshly and stared down at him into his deep brown eyes. There Tony was again, with the accusatory tone that Steve hated so much. “You’re right. I did what I had to do. But did you know that grenade was coming for you?! I was just trying to protect you! God, why don’t you ever pay attention!”
Nat and Clint silently stared in astonishment from the kitchen at that comment. They knew these arguments were entertaining but they never would have guessed they would get spicy like this. “Wow what a turn of events, grab some popcorn” Nat whispered.
To be honest, she just thought they needed to fuck and they’d solve every single one of their problems. Poof. Gone. No more arguing.
Tony took a step back and shook his head. “I really don’t need your protecting Cap! Have you forgotten that I have a full suit around me made of gold-titanium alloy? I’m quite indestructible” he scoffs. Steve rolled his eyes, he knew that Tony’s arrogant ego and ignorance would kill him one day. “Oh please, give me a break”
The billionaire stepped up to Steve and dug his finger into the white star in the middle of the blond man’s chest, pushing him back. “You, however, are not indestructible. Your little suit is only good for so much! Suuuuureee, the super serum is cool and all but- you’re still human! Have you ever considered maybe the grenade explodes in your hand and then it’s bye, bye Captain America?”
Steve was pushed further back by Tony’s finger and he once again swatted his hand away.
“Screw saving my life, maybe think about your own for once! Oh, great and selfless Steve Rogers. I’m not letting you die” he retorted. Steve was taken aback by that last point, it was a change of sentiment to their bickering. But he knew that Tony wasn’t being nice.
The Captain crossed his arms and squinted, “Oh yeah, why is that? Why won’t you let me die?” he challenged.
Nat and Clint were at the edge of their seats. Maybe today is the day they’ll finally realize something about themselves.
Tony tilted his head and smiled. “Because if you die, I won’t have anyone to piss off and argue with”
Boom. And there was the bomb. Their arguing continued at a much more aggressive volume.
The two assassins sighed in disappointment and tuned out the yelling. All they heard were comments here and there about not letting the other one die and protecting each other but it was all veiled by insults and mockery.
“Do you think they can hear each other? I mean like the things they’re saying, not audibly. God knows Thor could probably hear them from Asgard” Clint asked. The other assassin hopped off her barstool and shook her head. “They definitely don’t. But they will, eventually.”
They both turn to look at the two hot-headed Avengers who were still arguing and minutes away from beating each other up. “...I think”
Clint sighs and gives Natasha a pat on the shoulder, “Yeah maybe one day”
And so it went on, and on, and on.
They still didn’t hear each other. Insults hurled at each other that were really just caring messages in disguise. Not only did they not hear each other, but they didn’t hear themselves.
You should stop drinking chlorophyll it’s not good for your health! Are you trying to kill yourself?!
Shut up Rogers. Maybe I am, what does it matter to you? If I died you would finally get some peace, right? No more arguing and yelling.
Yeah, yeah, you’re right. But if you died then I wouldn’t have anyone to beat up in training!
With all the quarreling, they never took the time to reflect on the nature of their relationship (or lack thereof). Tony never really thought about why he hated Steve he just knew he did.
From a young age, all his dad could talk about was how great and selfless Captain America was. Pummeling into the freezing ocean and saving the world. Giving up his life for others.
Tony never felt he could live up to that standard, how could he? Howard always made him feel insufficient, inadequate, incomparable. It was Captain America this, Captain America that.
Stupid Captain America and his blonde hair and baby blue eyes. Every time he stared up into his eyes they would make him weak in the knees a little bit but he always stood his ground.
Stupid perfect body with washboard abs. Every time they sparred he would swallow the lump in his throat and try to beat out whatever gut feeling he had, translating it into hate and fuel for fighting.
Stupid unparalleled compassionate personality and heart of gold. He knew that Steve was everything he couldn’t be.
Steve was stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. Stupidly flawless and selfless and kind.
So yes, that’s why he hates Steve Rogers.
But how could a person with major emotional detachment problems, daddy issues, and a cocky egotistical personality come to terms with any of that?
Easy. Taking it out on the person who is the root of all three problems.
“Here they go again,” Clint murmured to Nat as they sat on the couch together. They hear Tony and Steve yelling in one of their bedrooms and they knew immediately what that meant. “You think they’re gonna figure it out this time?”
“Man, I don’t know. It’s been so long” Nat hesitated. Returning to their show, they pay no attention to the two men but still keep an ear out for interesting comments.
“Why don’t you ever listen to me? I’m the leader of this team and it really seems like you ignore everything I say” Steve accused, throwing his hands up into the air. The two of them stood in the middle of Steve’s room where Tony had barged into. There was some unfinished arguing about who knows what and Tony intended to finish it so he left his lab to find Steve. Overriding all entry codes to find Steve reading and then the bickering resumed.
“Leader? Oh please, we all know you’re only here for decoration and patriotic purposes. Are you forgetting that I pay for everything and design everything this team uses?”
“That’s great Tony! Yeah, materialistic things are definitely the only thing this team needs. Maybe when you learn to be more selfless and caring then we’ll talk about leadership” Steve scoffed. He had really struck a chord in Tony with that comment- hitting the jackpot of insecurity.
The inventor stuttered to find his next comeback. “No, you know what? You’re right. I’m not selfless and caring. But I’m working on it! Do you know how hard it is to live up to Captain America when you’re fucking eight?! I’ve been trying for so long and guess what? I’m still not good enough so thank you, for pointing that out, Captain”
Steve stayed silent. He blinked a few times before replying- not knowing what to say next. The blond exhaled through his nose and murmured under his breath, “You don’t need to try”
“...What did you just say?”
“I said, you don’t need to try!”
Tony looked down at the ground, trying to find something he could throw. The room they stood in was dimly lit; the sun had set long ago and the only thing that illuminated them was a lamp in the corner and the moon that peaked over the window sill. He looked back up at the Captain’s face and scanned it, knotting his eyebrows in anticipated anger.
How could he say something like that? Was he mocking him?
“Why don’t I need to try, huh? Is it so you can continue to be better than I am? What game are you playing here, Rogers?” Tony seethed, inching a little bit closer to the taller man. He was doing everything he could to push him away emotionally and distance him from his own insecurities.
“Oh my god, are you serious? You don’t need to try because you’re already perfect in your own way! You’re so naive sometimes, you know that? For the smartest man on the planet, I don’t know why you can’t see that you’re generous, kindhearted, and benevolent! God, wake up Tony”
“Well, I’m sorry that I can’t see that. Maybe it’s because I always had to live up to the Captain America standard! Someone who is selfless a-and noble and idealistic and just makes me mad in every possible way because deep down I know that I can’t be someone so flawless! I feel like I have to work ten times harder just so that someone can love me the way everyone loves you!”
They were both panting in anger and neither of them knew what was being said. Words were just thrown into the air like bombs being thrown into war. The yelling just aggravated them more.
“You’re wrong Tony! You don’t have to live up to that standard because you should just be you! Why are you so obsessed with being good enough for your dad? It’s clear that his opinion shouldn’t matter so you should stop worrying about it and just focus on yourself. You’re already great in so many ways and people do love you!” Steve retorted. Tony couldn’t hear the words Steve was saying to him. Steve couldn’t comprehend what Tony was trying to get across.
“You’re so stubborn!”
“Yeah? Well you’re really frustrating!”
“Oh my god, you talk WAY too much”
And those were the last words Tony said before he marched up to Steve and grabbed his face with both hands to pull him down abruptly for a kiss. As their lips met, Tony breathed in harshly like he was trying to encompass as much of Steve as he could.
The billionaire gripped onto Steve’s face tightly and kissed like the taller man was going to slip away from his hold at any second. It took a moment for Steve to process what was going on but when he did, he immediately melted into Tony’s touch and circled his arms around the inventor’s waist. He parted his lips slightly to allow Tony to ease into his embrace and pulled him impossibly closer.
Tony licked Steve’s bottom lip to ask for permission and Steve accepted. It was like their fighting translated into their kissing. It was hot, heavy, and assertive but in between it all there was undeniable love poured into every insult, comment, remark. Months of hatred spilled into this one kiss.
They kissed this way like there was no tomorrow; until they needed to pull apart for air but at this point, they were perfectly content with breathing each other. Tony rested his forehead against Steve’s and looked down at his swollen lips, moving his hands and interlocking behind the blond man’s neck.
They stared at each other, panting, waiting for one of them to say something. But little words were to be said at this moment. Tony smiled and snorted,“You’re really mean sometimes, you know that?”
“I know. But so are you. I thought I wanted to beat you up but maybe I just wanted to kiss you until you shut up” he breathed.
The inventor pulled back to look at Steve properly. He scanned every inch of his face to make sure he wasn’t reading into this wrong. To see if there was even a single ounce of regret on his face.
But there wasn’t.
Steve simply looked at him with pure adoration and love, and Tony looked back at him the same way.
“Do you really think I’m great?” Tony asked gently, a stark contrast to their previous yelling.
“Of course,” Steve dipped down to give a soft kiss on Tony’s lips as if he were affirming his answer. He raised one hand from Tony’s waist to cup the inventor’s cheek and brush his thumb lightly across. “Do you really think I’m perfect?”
It was Tony’s turn to lean up slowly and return another gentle kiss. This time it was a bit more shaky and hesitant than Steve’s. “In every possible way”
They stared into each other’s eyes just to really capture the moment in their minds. There weren’t any words that were spoken, but in this moment every single argument they had was answered. Every little fight, quarrel, conflict was resolved at this moment.
Turns out, they didn’t hate each other. They just hated how good they made each other. They made each other a better person and they hated that. Tony grinned widely, “Maybe I don’t hate you as much as I thought I did. Can we start over?”
Steve returned the smile and nodded.
Then the next few words were words Tony and Steve heard clearly for the first time in months.
“I love you”
The inventor exhaled softly and felt his heart hammer against his chest, “I love you too”
Tony pulled Steve down for another heated kiss and let’s just say, the loud noises existed in an entirely different context that night.