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The Starring Role

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Oh, for fuck's sake, Tony thinks.

It wasn’t like anyone had explicitly told him not to do it, right? Why was everyone so on edge about it? This was just some mishmash of boyhood fantasies, not something that could potentially take over or destroy the world.

Besides, he hadn’t been the one who'd gotten Cap into Indiana Jones. That’d been Hawkguy - and Hawkwife and Hawkgirl and Tasha's - faults.

And the scavenger hunt? That had been Romanoff’s idea.

Really, by now everyone should just know that Tony Stark does not overhear a damn good idea without going all out in his execution of said idea. Half-assing things was not his style.

The old man'd made it 97 whole freakin' years - he deserved something whole-assed, right? Captain freakin' America. Not even a hometown hero anymore. He was a big, everywhere, everyday, hero. Sure, the costume was tacky - not that Tony minds it quite as much as he prefers people believing he does - and Steve could be a little old-fashioned sometimes - okay, a lot of the time - but he wasn't exactly...hard to be around. He wasn't even hard to like, dammit. Easier than a guy who'd been through half of what he had probably should be, but hey, none of the Avengers or their allies, not to mention their enemies, were sane - or even made much sense. Occupational hazard, for fuck's sake.

The number of times Tony's sardonically thought that to himself over the past few days is yet another reminder of his lack of sanity. For fuck's sake. The phrase had more to do with this whole situation than he'd like it to.

What was he going for, really?

Ultron was gone. Tony had made a mistake and started to learn from it; he was paying for the damages and then some - it wasn't like he actually owed Cap anything, let alone another world tour. But (as he intended to tell exactly no one, save for Pepper if she asks) this wasn't totally for Steve. Maybe it's true that Pepper was a-plus-plus-okay with running Stark Industries entirely, and that recent events had been particularly taxing on their team, all of which could be reasons for some time off, time alone - but Tony really wasn't dreading being the star-spangled hero's Plus One for the upcoming ride.

It'd be less stressful than trying to find that goddamned scepter, that's for sure. (Okay, so it helps that the Vision had hid the only-somewhat-metaphorical treasure chest for him and had agreed that he would gently steer them in its direction during their time abroad - and, if they were gone more than a few months, less gently.) It was a totally legitimate treasure hunt.

And it had been entirely self-serving to fudge the measurements on the order for Steve's Indy getup, but no one would be lying to say that the thing didn't fit him pretty damn well - and it would have, whatever number of inches were given or taken, but Tony still prefers the slimmer cut of this version. And he prefers that no one knows that. There was a slight chance Pepper did, but Pepper was...Pepper. She loved him, and she understood.

If he'd ever explicitly told her, the forwarded-from-Dr-Hansen #LoveWins email he'd gotten from her a few days ago would have had a winking emoji face rather than just a smiling one, and that was just...Pepper. Didn't mean he was just gonna up and color Stark Tower all purple and its parents, let alone the rainbow, not without some event antecedent to that.

Not wanting people to know about him was probably a matter of courage or lack thereof or some shit, but his avoidance of overanalyzing the fact of it means that Tony's only ever told a few of his credit cards and even fewer people that he could be just as much a sucker for a clean-cut, well-built gentleman as for any stiletto- and sidearm-sporting woman. And, well, if anyone has noticed, outside of some jokes from Rhodey and Barton, they haven't said anything.

Some of the team is a little put off by the concept of he and Steve potentially being gone for months on end, and after all the shit that's gone down in the past couple of years, some are surprised that either of them would actually sign up for spending a fuckton of time together - but those are their problems, because Tony's convinced the two of them can get along, as long as they stick to their agreement to disagree cooperatively and hold the greater good of the team - and in turn, the world, so you know, no pressure - above whatever...feelings there are.

Tony's glad they'd only agreed to be open about their opinions; he had precious little desire to know what happened if they had to discuss feelings and things went topside.

Probably, like, America's Second Civil War or something equally as drastic. Indeed, not the desired effect of the whole Avengers thing.

And if it didn't? If things went over? If Steve's response was handing over a get-out-of-judgement-and-sexually-tense-situations-free card? Or, God forbid, he agreed, understood, commiserated, informed Tony of some mutuality? Was there any version of "actually, Tony, while we're on the topic, I wouldn't really mind fucking you so hard you'll swear you can feel my cock pressing into your abdomen and the springs below your custom-made mattress and then can't walk for a week," that Tony wouldn't spontaneously combust at hearing?

No, there wasn't. The answer was, point blank, no. Which was ridiculously inconvenient at best, because holy shit did he want to hear it.

Fury'd had the gall to suggest the whole scavenger project was childish, but once Tony delved into his dramatic capabilities and asked him if he'd ever wanted anything, the only response to follow was that holier-than-thou-and-gently-soul-crushing stare of his. Hill had laughed and rolled her eyes, but then quietly granted the conjoined request for vacation time.

Pietro had been the only one so far to crack any jokes in reference to the potential of sexual frustration, but he was just a punk. He and Wanda could sulk in corners and be creepily close and lowkey oppositional punks if they wanted to - and they certainly dressed like that was the plan, so who was Tony Stark, of all people, to stop them? He just paid the bills. He could be chill about it, whatever. Just like he could be chill about booking his own schedule with long stretches of time that could potentially be spent - and probably would be spent, because let's be real - admiring his teammate's, er, physique. In a "you're 95, man, how the fuck - sorry, applesauce - do you keep up that workout regime?" way, of course.

Sure, okay, he'd also be getting off to the thought of that regime directly and inappropriately involving him, but it's not like that's a sin, right? Actually, no, it probably was. But with people like the Hydra assholes and any absurd number of genocidal self-identified geniuses out there, it couldn't be a particularly damning one, could it?

He still had difficulty feeling confident about his answer to that question. But he has at least two months of highly-priced and accommodating tourism and treasure hunting ahead of him. Maybe, if everything goes somewhere within the breadth of plans A-Z, he'll find the answer somewhere in the adventure.

Maybe, some part of him hopes, he might even find himself.