It’s not like Tony hasn’t been in love before, because he has. He was in love with Pepper, loved her, and still loves her. Not in the same way as he once did, but it’s still love. He knows what love is. Obviously.
And this? This isn’t love. Whatever this Steve Thing is, it’s not love. Nope. Nada. Definitely not. He would know, of course, because he’s Tony Stark and he’s a genius and he’s been in love before and he knows what love is.
Of course he does.
Sure, Steve and him have been getting closer, ever since they put aside their differences after the helicarrier, apologizing for the whole ordeal (well Steve apologized and Tony mostly grumped something almost sorta kinda like an apology but to be fair that’s the best he’s ever done. Really.)
And after everyone had moved into the tower with him, it’d gotten better. Really better. Really really better.
They ate pizza together (with the whole team really) but sometimes when Tony was too caught up in his work to head up from his workshop to join everyone, it was Steve who would bring him a slice or two, and stayed to chat. Well, listen to Tony drone on about whatever it was he was working on, but Steve didn’t mind.
Sometimes he’d come down, just himself and his sketchbook, and they’d work in this sorta comfortable silence that, well. Tony never had anything like that, really.
But it wasn’t love. No, god no.
Nor was they way Steve would look at him after a 72 hour working binge, with those ridiculously blue eyes and tell Tony to come up, go to bed, get some rest. And fuck, how could he not?
Again, not love. Just a friend, being friendly.
Like when they went out for Thai food and Tony would make some stupid joke that wasn’t funny, not at all, and Steve would burst out laughing anyway, his eyes scrunching up as his whole body shook with the beautiful, beautiful sound.
Which was a thought that friends had. About their other friends. Yeah.
So when Tony found himself plastered against a wall with Steve’s soft, sweet lips against his own, his big strong hands resting on his hips, Tony most definitely did not lean into the kiss, did not let out a small whimper, and instead he most certainly pulled his head away.
Well, he did. Eventually.
“Steve, w-what? What the fuck? What are you doing?”
Steve blinked, but only smiled, a small, breathy chuckle escaping his lips. “I’m kissing you, Tony, what does it look like?”
This time, Steve genuinely looked confused and, Jesus, shouldn’t Tony be the confused one?
“Tony, I think we both know how you feel about me, and well….I feel the same way about you, I really do. And I thought you knew, I mean, but…is this okay?”
“I–what? No, no? No, it’s….not?”
“You love me, Tony. I can tell. I’m not as smart as you, sure, but I’m not stupid.”
“No, no I think you are. Steve, I’m not in love with you.”
At that, Steve pursed his lips, let go of Tony, and turned away, leaving the engineer sputtering from his stop against the wall.
“Well see about that.”
Every day, it seemed, Steve would go up to Tony and profess his love, about all the little things Tony does, how he mutters to himself when he’s too tired but still refuses to sleep, how he constantly builds and upgrades weaponry for all his teammates, how he has such passion when he’s working, whatever it is he happens to be working on.
He says that a lot. But mostly, he tells Tony how he knows Tony feels the same way, and that Tony’s too stubborn to admit it. But Tony’s not because he’s not in love because really? Really? They’re friends. Friends. Nothing more, nothing less.
It almost came to blows once, Steve still stuck in his delusions and frustrated out of his mind. Tony, of course, wouldn’t admit his love because there was nothing to admit.
Really. Really really.
At the end though, Steve merely turned away, muttering another ominous well see.
Tony just scoffed, turned back to his work and most certainly didn’t think about Steve. Again.
The next day, Steve came home with an acoustic guitar and a handful of teach-yourself books. Tony didn’t think anything of it. Steve was a weird guy. So what if he wanted to play the guitar? So what if he had stopped coming to Tony’s workshop, in favor of playing in his room? So what if Tony hardly saw the man, who’d taken up sleeping at odd hours, apparently, missing breakfast with the team.
About a month later after the whole guitar thing, Tony found himself hunched over a mug of coffee at breakfast, everyone circled around the kitchen table. Minus Steve, of course.
Bruce heard it first, perking up slightly at the sound. “Is…that Steve? Playing?”
Tony frowned into his drink, hearing it now, too. He look at the others; Thor and Bruce seemed mildly confused, Natasha, of course, was smirking, and Clint looked as if he’d fallen back asleep all over his eggs.
Tony blinked, the familiar lyrics grown louder and louder, along with the smooth melody being plucked across the guitar strings
Come on, come on, come on
Come on now touch me, baby
Can’t you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?
Why won’t you tell me what she said?
What was that promise that you made?
Tony blinked, mouth hanging open slightly as Steve came into view, lips working over the lyrics as his long fingers worked over the guitar and oh, oh Jesus.
Since when could he sing? And how had he gotten so good at the guitar?
Now, I’m gonna love you
Till the heavens stop the rain
I’m gonna love you
Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I
Oh. Oh Lord. He was singing, he was singing right to Tony and everyone was staring at him and oh Jesus Christ it was not cute nor adorable nor romantic because Tony Stark was not in love with Steve Rogers and his heart was doing this funny thing, this really funny thing and Tony had to run down to the lab to see if the arc reactor was malfunctioning because fuck. Fuck.
So he ran, and, nope, arc reactor was fine. Maybe he was just dying, plain and simple. Huh.
When he came back, Steve was still there, singing and strumming and oh Lord, oh Lord he couldn’t take this.
So he ran off, and Steve let him be.
It was later that day, and Tony most definitely not losing to Clint at Mario Kart, when Steve returned. With the guitar.
I must have been through about a million girls
I’d love ‘em then I’d leave 'em alone
I didn’t care how much they cried, no sir
Their tears left me cold as a stone
And Clint, the fucker, started laughing, high pitched hysterical laughing, clutching his chest and rolling on the floor, the whole shebang. Steve, however, was not deterred.
But then I fooled around and fell in love
I fooled around and fell in love, yes I did
I fooled around and fell in love
I fooled around and fell in love
“I, uh, I have uh….thing….with-with the work, yeah the….work”
Again, he ran.
It was the next day, when he was watching some old black and white film with Natasha, when it happened again.
Oh I love the face you try to hide in your hands,
We are in love
Oh I love the snow angels we make hand in hand,
We are in love
Natasha turned to him, offering him a smile that surprisingly, wasn’t unkind. Tony huffed.
Give me the stone you’re hiding within
Shimmering, frozen, all it does is make me feel the cold
Rules don’t apply, gravity lies
The Moon gently smiles when we silently sway while I sing
It happened all the time, really. All the fucking time.
And Tony was growing annoyed, really he was. Really. Definitely. Certainly. Yeah.
Because it wasn’t sweet or cute or romantic and Tony most certainly didn’t want to kiss the man, deeply and sweetly just to get a taste of that beautiful voice and--
For a week, it went on, everywhere. Everywhere
In the workshop.
Each time we have a quarrel
It almost breaks my heart
'Cause I’m so afraid
That we will have to part
Each night I ask the stars up above
Why must I be a teenager in love
While he was eating.
Wise men say only fools rush in
but I can’t help falling in love with you
Shall I stay
would it be a sin
If I can’t help falling in love with you
Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
some things are meant to be
take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can’t help falling in love with you
When they were at SHIELD, of all places.
I can’t stop this feeling
Deep inside of me
Boy, you just don’t realize
What you do to me
When you hold me
In your arms so tight
You let me know
Everything’s all right
I’m hooked on a feeling
I’m high on believing
That you’re in love with me
He was at Central Park, when he finally lost it.
Tony wasn’t one to go on a stroll, but, God he needed to get out of the house, out and away from everything, from his feelings, from Steve, from–-
Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling
It’s you, it’s you must go and I must bide.
But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow
It’s I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow
Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so.
Oh Jesus, oh Lord. He was here and singing and playing and right behind him and there were people here, staring now, some filming but Tony didn’t care, not at all, not at all because Steve was singing to him as he’d been all week, a smile showing through even on his moving lips and wasn’t that something, wasn’t that everything?
It was, it was everything. Really, it was.
But when ye come, and all the flow'rs are dying
If I am dead, as dead I well may be
You’ll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an ave there for me.
And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be
For you will bend and tell me that you love me
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.
And, God, Tony couldn’t take it anymore, couldn’t take his stupid fucked up denial. He couldn’t worry about how he was going to fuck it up, fuck up their relationship because he was Tony fucking Stark and that’s what he did, he ruined shit, he did, and Steve deserved better, he really did.
But Tony, he now realized, had to try. For him, for Steve. For each other.
So Tony ran to him, ripping the guitar from his hands, stealing the smooth, silky lyrics right from the mans lips with his own and he was kissing him, he was kissing Steve, they were kissing, pure and simple.
They would talk later, they would, they had to. But for now, for now Tony was wrapped in Steve’s arms, kissing the man for all of New York to see, and Tony knew that whatever happened, it would be worth it, honestly and truly.