Tony knew something was up the moment he stepped foot outside his workshop. The niggling feeling that there was a shift in the air latched onto his chest, immediately making him more alert than when he had left his workshop after another engineering binge. That feeling never did bode well for him, since it led to either him getting maimed as the armor takes another beating with him inside it, followed by the some vicious mother-henning (is that even a word? It is now) from one Steven Rogers or someone was about to viciously prank him (read: Clint).
He made his way up the stairs and it was only midway through that he stopped short, finally realizing what was different. Steve hadn’t been in the workshop. In fact, Tony hadn’t seen Steve all day. Even when he was on one of his work benders, Steve was always a constant fixture in the background, either drawing or playing with his bots, even nagging Tony to start eating more because “Dummy’s great and all, but I just saw him pour some rather questionable stuff in that smoothie he made for you, so no, Tony you have to eat something solid and no, coffee is not an acceptable food type, eat something like this sandwich I made for you Tony.”
Steve did nice shit like that and made Tony look like a despicable human being in comparison. Which he was. Steve honestly did deserve better than him, but he was a selfish son-of-a-bitch. If Steve Rogers wanted to be his friend, then goddamnit, he was not going to let anything he might do ruin that.
Even if it did mean that he and Steve were just that: Friends. Tony used to laugh mockingly at other men who complained about being in the dreaded “Friend-zone” but now that he was experiencing the same thing, he was more empathetic to their plight. It sucked.
He stepped into the elevator, mind filled with thoughts of warm showers and possibly getting some shut-eye. When the elevator stopped at the communal floor, however, Tony frowned up at JARVIS who was suspiciously silent. He distinctly remembered telling the AI to deposit him at his floor.
It was when the doors opened that Tony realized why.
There was a butt. More specifically, there was Steve’s butt, which was attached to Steve’s body. It was clothed in very – very – tight denim, the cloth stretching out to cover up as much as it could but strained with every movement the super soldier made. It took Tony’s brain approximately five seconds to realize Steve was wearing jeans, coupled with a very tight, long-sleeved burgundy shirt that clung to his back and hid absolutely nothing. His eyes trailed upward to see that Steve’s gotten a hair-cut too. The blond hairs were spiked up, probably with gel. There was a distinct lack of plaid that Steve was so often fond of wearing and Tony wondered who the hell was in charge of this make over and would they like their own island?
“JARVIS, how long have I been down there?” He muttered to the ceiling because holy hell, he was hallucinating. This was not real. Steve Rogers did not just dress up like that, ever. His brain was playing tricks on him.
“Approximately thirty six hours, sir.” Came the reply, sounding more amused than usual. Tony was ready to snark back when he realized Steve had turned around and holy fucking shit the front was just as good as the back.
“Tony!” Steve exclaimed, grinning widely yet looking nervous at the same time. So, not a hallucination. Goodie goodie.
“Who dressed you?” Were the first words Tony managed to get out, despite the fact that his hind brain was busy going unf.
Steve raised an eyebrow. “Natasha took me clothes shopping. She said I needed to update my wardrobe a bit.”
Tony was torn between killing Natasha and buying her a huge island in the middle of the Caribbean and seeing as the former was quite impossible and could lead to Tony’s own death through suspicious circumstances, his mind started going through various islands listings.
“Was I not supposed to?” Steve asked, an innocent expression on his face, shifting his stance slightly which made the jeans and shirt shift as well and what the fuck, he was doing this on purpose. Tony’s brain was seriously going through a massive system failure, so he could be forgiven for his lack of working vocabulary.
“You – you – you – I…!” Tony exclaimed, mouth moving up and down but no words were coming out. He was supposed to be one of the, if not the, smartest minds of his generation. Why the fuck can he not speak English anymore?
And Steve fucking stretched which caused his shirt to lift up and oh those abs did nothing to Tony’s currently panicking mind.
“Excuse me, I am long overdue for a shower.” He said in a rather squeaky voice and hastily pressed the buttons on the elevator like a maniac. The last thing he saw before the elevator doors closed was Steve’s amused expression.
Fuck, he was so definitely screwed.
Tony didn’t think about that little encounter after that. If he thought too much about it, his brain might just stop functioning altogether, and he can’t have that. Not really.
He thought it was over, but some small part of him regretted that. Steve had gone back to wearing plaid and slacks – old grandpa clothes Tony was sure his great grandpapa Stark had worn – and they’ve gone on missions in-between, so Tony mostly saw him in his Captain America uniform, if anything else.
He should’ve known better than to realize that it was over.
He nearly dropped his mug of coffee when one morning, Steve came strolling into the communal floor kitchen, shirtless, a pair of form-fitting, black cargo shorts the only thing saving him from Tony’s insane urge to jump his bones. He was clutching onto a white thing, which Tony belatedly realized was a shirt, and was currently in the process of putting it on. Steve wrestled with the thing for two minutes when it bunched up at his armpits and he gave Tony a helpless look.
“A little help would be nice.” He said in a deadpan voice which spurned Tony into action.
“See, this is what you get for wearing something a size too small.” He muttered, helping Steve pull the shirt down and covering that sinfully delicious body. It was probably for his own good, though. If Steve remained shirtless for longer than a certain amount of time, Tony cannot and will not be held responsible for the actions he would take, namely, climbing Steve like a tree.
Tony rolled the shirt down and couldn’t resist patting that muscular back. When he finally looked up at Steve, he promptly had a minor stroke because: “Are those highlights?!”
Steve’s hand flew self-consciously to his hair. “Yeah. Natasha thought they looked nice. I kinda agree with her. Tones down the blond a bit, don’t you think?” And really, thank god for Natasha Romanov. She was a treasure. She was a doll. She deserved her own country, if not island.
As Tony’s brain rebooted, Steve had walked away, towards the elevator, hips swaying in those goddamn cargo shorts while the t-shirt he was wearing tried its very hardest to do its job. It was not doing a very good one, judging by the way it strained each time Steve moved.
“I’m going to the park, you wanna come?” Steve asked as he bent over to put on a pair of Chuck Taylors. The cargo shorts stretched over his butt, hypnotizing Tony which was probably why he said: “Yeah, sure. Gimme a few minutes to change, and I’ll meet you downstairs.”
Steve grinned so brightly at him that Tony felt the urge to reach for sunglasses. Jesus, the man’s smile could rival the sun – it was that bright.
And if he had to suffer through the day with the object of his affections while he wore – that – then he can care about his sanity later.
Tony was never very smart when it came to the matters of the heart after all.
“Are you fucking kidding me?!” Tony blurted out when he stepped out of the elevator in his fanciest clothes. Steve was fixing himself up in the mirror, currently adjusting his tie. The blond was wearing a fucking tuxedo which didn’t look bought. It looked like it was tailored specifically to Steve’s body shape because that thing just clung on like a second skin. It was that perfect a fit.
Steve whirled around, an expression of concern on his face. “You okay, Tony?”
No, Tony was not okay. He was not okay in the slightest. His brain was currently going haywire when it finally registered the fact that Steve was wearing at tux. And Steve looked good. Real good. Fucking hell, he was so boned. And not in a good way.
“Are you alright? Is it the suit? Do I look okay?” Steve asked, and fuck, when did he get so close?
Tony tried to get his vocal cords to work. “Did uh…did you buy that suit?”
Steve shook his head with a shy grin. “Nah, Natasha actually had me go out and have this fitted. It’s an expensive one too. I told her I can just buy or rent one but she wasn’t having any of it. She said this was an important event so I had to look my best. I guess I can splurge on clothes from time-to-time. Plus, you know how Natasha gets when sets her mind to something.” He added, shrugging like nothing was out of the ordinary. Like wearing a tux was natural. Like he wasn't currently destroying Tony from the inside.
Then Natasha came swanning out of the elevator, wearing a gorgeous black dress that made her look more deadly than usual. She saw them, gave Tony a small smirk and a nod which in Natasha speak meant “You’re welcome.” The words were unspoken, but he could understand what she was trying to get out.
Tony considered marrying Natasha Romanov. He considered proposing right then and there if his heart didn’t already belong to a certain super soldier. He also considered strangling her for meddling where her meddling skills were absolutely not needed he can get somewhere with Steve on his own just fine, thank you very much, but apparently, she thought differently.
Plus, Tony couldn’t actually strangle her. She’d probably have strangled him first before he even lay a finger on her.
“Let’s go. Clint, Bruce and Thor are already at the event and if we don’t get there early, we might have to do some serious damage control.” Natasha said, turning both their attention to her.
“Nat, I don’t think Bruce will…” Steve began but was swiftly cut off.
“I meant Clint.” She replied, turning on her heel and heading to the elevator. “You coming or what?”
The Steve-is-wearing-tux-holy-fuck-my-body-is-ready debacle Tony was having with himself can wait a few hours. If Steve didn’t constantly stay by his side the entire night.
Tony was very sure he was suffering a slow, tortuous death. And it wasn’t the nice kind of death either.
Tony hit his breaking point a measly week later.
In front of everyone.
In front of Steve.
Who was wearing nothing unusual other than a pair of faded jeans and a black shirt with the phrase “Free Licks” emblazoned across his chest.
“Alright that is it!” He exclaimed, slamming down his tablet, which yeah he can do because Stark Industries tech are designed to withstand pressures of massive proportions. “I’ve had enough!”
They, as one, turned to him, expressions ranging from “What the fuck are you talking about?” and “Are you okay, Tony?”
Tony grit his teeth and marched up to Steve. “You have been a huge pain in my ass. I’ve been trying my best not to fucking jump your bones everytime you wore something that just reveals your entire goddamn body! It’s not fucking fair that I have to go through this torture!”
“Tony,” Steve began but Tony barreled on with his rant.
“I mean Jesus Christ, I thought I was losing my mind when you wore the goddamn skinny jeans. Then you had to go and wear cargo shorts revealing your legs for all the world to see!” Tony exclaimed. “You keep wearing these shirts that are too fucking small for you and each time I can barely resist dousing you in water just to see the outline of your fucking nipples which I can already see even though you’re dry! What the fuck is up with you and small shirts? Did Abercrombie suddenly stop selling all their XL and up sizes?”
“Tony.” Steve said in a much firmer voice.
“But oh no, you then had to one-up yourself and get a fucking tailored tux – which by the way was a good decision because a lot of sold or rented tuxes out there don’t really fit your body type – but damn did you have to look that delicious wearing them? And now you’re fucking wearing this goddamn t-shirt and it’s killing me because I don’t need an invitation when I fucking wanna lick you like 98% of the damn time and I know I can’t! I mean, Jesus fuck, Steve. I’m already like in love with you. I can do without the wardrobe upgrade because they remind me that not only can I not have you in the emotional sense, but I’m reminded of what aspects of the physical sense I’m also missing! I look at you in these clothes and I’m reminded of what I can’t have!”
“Tony, who said you couldn’t have me?”
And that just made his brain die, full stop. Steve was looking at him with an earnest expression on his face while Tony digested those words. The other Avengers were on the edge of the seats, waiting for that moment of realization he was bound to have.
“Tony, I’ve been in love with you for as long as I can remember.” Steve said, taking Tony’s hands. “I just didn’t think you felt the same.”
“Of course I felt the same. Have you met you?” Tony responded when the words started to sink in. “Wait a minute…were you trying to seduce me?!”
Steve raised an eyebrow. “You know for a genius, you can be very slow on the uptake.”
Tony wanted to take offense to that but whatever response he had was quickly pushed aside in favor of Steve’s lips pressing against his. The soldier kissed him like a man dying of thirst and Tony was the only oasis in the middle of the desert. It was sweet, it was tender…it was fucking hot and Tony couldn’t quite believe that this was happening to him.
“That’s great and all guys, but could please move somewhere more private? I think I lost my appetite forever.” Clint said, cutting through the haze of lust in Tony’s vision.
“Fuck off, Barton.” He retorted but looked at Steve all the same.
Steve smirked at him. “Your room or mine?”
And as they left towards the elevator, Tony could see Steve give Natasha a discreet high-five. He was definitely going to buy Natasha her country.
She deserved it after all.