Tony notices it a couple of months after the team moves into the tower. He's staring at a set of schematics for the Mark VII on one of his holographic screens, the design for Captain America's new suit on the secondary one on his right, and Hawkeye's new set of arrows on the one of his left, because working on one project at a time is for other people, when he blinks at the screen, the lines blurry and indistinct for a couple of seconds. He pauses, pressing his fists to his eyes.
"JARVIS, how long have I been here?"
"Six hours, sir."
It's not that long. Tony has definitely gone for longer, way longer stretches ensconced inside his workshop looking at the holograms and it has never made the images waver in front of his eyes or a headache start to build behind them. He closes his eyes again, taking a deep breath, and when he opens them again the images are still somewhat fuzzy around the edges.
"JARVIS," he says, almost a sigh, "Can you run calibration on the holographic screens?" It could be a glitch in the system, unlikely as that is.
It takes few seconds for the reply to come, and it's not the one Tony has been expecting. "All systems are perfectly calibrated, sir."
Tony blinks and stares at the screens. No, still blurry. He narrows his eyes, the images coming into sharper focus, and curses.
"JARVIS, I need some optometric tests."
He stares straight ahead while JARVIS does as instructed, lines of light and images appearing at different ranges. "It appears you are suffering from presbyopia, sir."
Exactly as Tony had imagined. It was bound to happen, sooner or later, considering the amount of time he spends working and staring at screens.
"What are my options?"
"There is surgery, sir. But considering the low impact on your daily life, and the fact that you would only need to correct your eyesight while working with computers, I'd advice against it."
Surgery. Tony's had more than enough surgery to last him for a lifetime, thank you very much, so unless it's something life threatening and unavoidable, there's no chance in hell he's taking that route. And well, he might be vain, but Tony's aware he's past forty, and not getting any younger. It's not something that can be fixed with just one surgery; it's going to keep getting worse as time goes by.
"No surgery," he finally decides. "Just get me some glasses to have around the house, more than one pair since I know I'll be misplacing them all the time. You know where to order them from and what I like."
He turns back to his projects. "And move the screens a bit further until they arrive."
The first time Steve sees Tony wearing glasses, he walks into a wall.
He's coming down to the kitchen to get something to eat after a training session, his body pleasantly tired and a light film of sweat covering his skin. He's feeling good, as it usually happens when they have a down week and he can spend time in the tower, giving his body a nice workout without the threat of world annihilation and passing his time getting accustomed to the new century. There are too many things Steve has yet to learn about the new era, though he's slowly getting up to date on the salient points.
Living in a technological work of art helps. As it does living with Tony Stark.
Surprisingly enough, after that rocky start aboard the helicarrier, Tony and Steve get along like a house on fire. It might have something to do with watching Tony flying that nuke into space, or with the fact that when it counts, Tony respects Steve and can follow orders. They still fight, because Tony wouldn't be Tony if he wasn't a sarcastic arrogant bastard, but the barbs aren't as venomous as the first time, and they make sure not to cross any line.
In the past three months, since the entire team moved into the tower, Steve has come to terms with quite a few things about the new century. And himself. And Tony Stark. He's been pleasantly surprised by the fact that nowadays most people accept that love is love, whatever the form it takes. He's proud that people don't have to hide, or live a lie, just because their preference doesn't conform to the norm. He's also been disappointed to realize that, in spite of that, there is still hate. And that there are people who use religion to incite that same hate. He's still adjusting to most things, because everything and everyone he ever knew and loved is long gone, but this new age means he doesn't have to keep himself in check all the time, that he can look at a man, or even kiss one, and he won't end up in jail.
And then there's Tony Stark, who is snarky and sarcastic and brilliant. Tony, who is an egocentric selfish bastard, except when he is a generous and self-sacrificing idiot. Tony is a study in contradictions, and Steve is self aware enough to admit being fascinated by him. And more than a little attracted to him.
It has not been a problem, because they are still building their friendship, and Tony is still mourning the end of his relationship with Pepper. Steve has more control than to make a pass at him.
Then he sees Tony curled in a couch on the living room, a mug of coffee on the table by his side and a Starktablet in his hand, gaze focused and intent on whatever he's doing. He's wearing just an off-white beater, the glow of the reactor staining the fabric blue, and loose track pants. And a pair of wire-rimmed glasses on the bridge of his nose. They are sliding a bit, and Tony pushes them up distractedly, grabbing the coffee and taking a sip without looking up from his work. They are reading glasses, not those hideous tinted things he uses when going out or to annoy the press, and they look good on him. Steve is startled by the low curl of want unfolding in his gut, and he does a double take, missing the door of the kitchen by a good five inches.
He smacks against the wall, the loud noise of his face connecting with it enough to startle Tony, who looks up at him with wide surprised eyes. Tony is not a genius for nothing; he takes in the scene, the embarrassed flush on Steve face and the way he's rubbing his nose. He looks at the opened door, and then at Steve, his face contorting with the effort not to laugh.
"Hey Cap," Tony says, mouth twitching and voice strangled. "Did you just--" he can't continue, apparently losing the battle with laughter, a long deep chuckle falling from his lips. His glasses are sliding down his nose again as he shakes, and Steve knows it's a ridiculous thing for him to focus on, but he can't take his eyes off them. "Did you walk into--" he tries again, choking on the words and finally giving up speech.
Steve has never felt this embarrassed in his life, his face flaming with it, but it's honestly hilarious. He laughs as well, amused in spite of himself. "Yeah, I did."
"Oh." Tony is staring at him incredulously, tears shinning on the corner of his eyes, and Steve feels the urge to approach the couch and take off his glasses, press his lips there and taste them.
He does the next best thing, he flees.
Tony's laughter follows him into the kitchen.
One of the things Tony had to get used to after Pepper came to her senses and decided she could be his CEO and friend, but not Iron Man's terrified girlfriend, was the fact that Steve had made it his mission to be the one to keep Tony fed and watered when he went down to his workshop. Which, well, maybe Tony isn't a houseplant, but sometimes seeing Steve opening the workshop door with a tray full of food and a bottle of water makes him feel exactly like that.
He looks up from his newest project, a redesign of the Starkphone he's been promising Pepper to compete with the latest announcement from Samsung and Apple. Not that they can hold a candle to Stark Tech, but they still try, bless their outdated little hearts.
Steve is staring at him from the door, almost as if he is paralyzed, and the expression on his face reminds Tony the one from a few days back, when Steve walked head first against a wall. And yeah, that's never going to stop being funny.
"Hey there," he says with a smile, because Steve has food and his stomach is reminding him now how hungry he actually is. Steve seems to snap out of it at that, and takes a couple of steps inside the workshop. "You are my favourite person in the universe right now, have I told you that before?" Tony says, seeing a cheeseburger with a side helping of homemade fries, all dripping with melted cheese and chunks of crispy bacon. He grabs one and pops it into his mouth, ignoring the heat threatening to peel off a layer of his palate. He makes an obscene noise of pleasure and grabs another one, grinning around his mouthful at Steve's flush. "JARVIS, make a note to put Steve first on the favourite list."
"Certainly, sir. Should I put this one before or after the other twenty favourite mentions he's accrued so far?"
Steve laughs at that, JARVIS's dry humour never failing to crack him up. Tony knew he was doing something right when he gave his AI that personality, though some days it doesn't feel like it.
"This one goes on top. These fries are sinful, I'm thinking about proposing." Here Steve's face does that adorable embarrassed flush that Tony loves, so he considers it a victory before clarifying. "Do you think they'd let me marry them?" Tony says, stuffing his face with more.
"Thanks, I guess," Steve says, still smiling though there is a flash of something on his face, gone too fast for Tony to identify it. "And no, I don't think marriage is allowed between humans and food. Not yet, at least."
"Oh well," he says, taking off his glasses to rub at the bridge of his nose. He looks at the screen and saves everything, since he's going to take the time to enjoy the food. "In that case, I'll have to marry the cook to make sure I can have them as many times as I want. Where did you order them from?"
He puts the glasses back on, turning to look at Steve when no response is forthcoming. Steve is staring again, the blush back in full force and creeping down to his neck. He looks so adorable Tony is tempted to keep him locked in the workshop forever. "Actually, I made them," Steve confesses, and Tony pushes his glasses down the bridge of his nose to give him a look. The reaction he gets is not one he had ever expected; Steve's eyes widen fractionally and then flicker to his mouth before returning to his eyes. The blush deepens and Tony can swear he will combust if it gets any hotter. "I--it's something my mom used to make, when we could afford it. Well, I'll leave you to it. Remember to go to sleep before you keel over."
Steve turns on his heel and walks out stiffly, leaving Tony to stare after him in confusion.
"Uhn?" Tony says to the empty workshop, "What was that about?"
"I certainly don't know, sir."
He takes his glasses off again, rubbing at the bridge of his nose as if warding off a migraine, and it hits him. Steve walking into a wall, Steve frozen at the door, Steve tongue-tied and nervous. "Oh, wow."
He looks at the glasses in his hands and smiles.
It's almost as if Tony is doing it on purpose.
Which, this being Tony Stark, wouldn't be so shocking.
In the past week every time Steve has run into Tony he was wearing glasses. A different pair each time. And, since Steve has recently discovered a previously unknown attraction to men in glasses, or more specifically to Tony Stark in glasses, it's beginning to be very uncomfortable.
No, who's he kidding? It was embarrassing the first time, when Steve displayed all his talent for slapstick by missing the freaking kitchen door. It was uncomfortable when Steve went down to the basement and Tony jokingly proposed to him, and then almost fried all of Steve's brain cells by looking him over those same goddamned glasses.
The past week falls squarely into the irritating category.
Steve's getting tired of being ambushed and betrayed by his own body at the sight of Tony Stark. It's ridiculous. He feels as if he's been half aroused for an entire week, and Tony coming into his room to ask him something or other about his uniform, though Steve remembers perfectly giving him all the information sometime ago, is not helping matters. Not with the way Tony won't stop playing with his glasses, the thick black rectangular frame a bit crooked on his face, making him look dorky. Steve has to clench his fists to prevent his hands from going to Tony's face and set them to rights.
"So, is it ok to try?" Tony says, and Steve has to snap his attention back to the present.
"What is ok to try?" he asks dumbly, because he's been focused on Tony, but not on what he's saying, and Steve can feel his face heating up again.
"The new alloy for your suit? The one I've been working on for weeks? Are you even listening to me, Steve, because I thought you were, and now I'm feeling definitely underappreciated, and--" Steve lets the words wash over him, because there is something off in Tony's voice. Normally, if he's showing off his genius he wants everyone's focus sorely on him, part of that narcissism Natasha called on his file. He'd be pretty annoyed with Steve for not listening to him. But he's not.
Tony is amused, and the tilt of his lips could be considered flirty in any other situation.
And he's still playing with his glasses.
It's suddenly painfully obvious what's going on here, and Steve moves past irritated and straight to pissed off in the span of a second.
"You can stop now," he says softly, cutting off Tony's rant. Tony frowns at him, snapping his mouth shut.
They stare at each other for what feels like an eternity, and Steve doesn't know why he's feeling so angry with Tony. It's not as if he doesn't know him, at least a bit, and Tony teasing him once he found Steve's reaction was almost to be expected. But not this way. Steve expected a couple of humorous comments, maybe some friendly ribbing in front of the team for more amusement. But this feels almost cruel, taunting. And Steve is disappointed because he thought they were friends, and they had moved past cruel.
"Stop what?" Tony says, finally breaking the uncomfortable silence.
"This, whatever game it is you're playing," he points at Tony's face, grinding his teeth when Tony's eyebrows shot up in surprise, still behind those damned crooked glasses.
"Not a game," Tony replies.
"An experiment?" And Steve had thought it was impossible to feel angrier. He was mistaken. He takes a step toward Tony, breathing deeply to try and calm himself.
"Yes, I wanted to see who would break first; you with your glasses kink, or me with my fixation to your blushes."
The words hang in the air for an instant, Tony's expression turning hesitant when a couple of heartbeats pass and Steve doesn't move. He parses through the words slowly, trying to find a different meaning than the one he's coming up with. He can't.
"Me," he finally says, taking the few steps that separate him from Tony and pressing him against the wall. Whatever it is that Tony intended to say next, is swallowed the moment Steve brings their mouths together.
Steve might not be the most experienced kisser in the world, but he's not clueless, and he must be doing something right if the way Tony's lips open under his, his body pressed tightly against Steve and hands clutching at his shoulders, are any indication. Tony's mouth is warm, his lips softer than Steve imagined, and the scratch of his goatee is completely different, and more arousing, than anything Steve has felt before. He presses closer, tasting and licking at Tony's mouth, and he can feel the edge of the glasses digging into his cheek. And this time it's not arousing, it's uncomfortable.
Steve pulls back, almost panting, and plucks the glasses off Tony's face, tossing them in the general direction of his bed and swallowing the noise of protest at that. This is much better, kissing Tony without anything getting in the way, feeling his hard body pressed against Steve's, his arousal blatant against his leg. Steve takes advantage and presses a thigh between Tony's, forcing him to spread his legs wider to accommodate him.
Tony tears his mouth off Steve's at that, a low moan falling from his lips when Steve takes the chance to attack his neck. "Fuck, I'm not a teenager, I'm so far from being a teenager, and you're going to make me come in my pants, I hate you Steve, honestly, there is a bed right there and, oh, fuck, don't you dare stop, did I say you could stop, no, don’t, god you're so--" Steve shuts him up at that, kissing him again as Tony, despite all his protest, keeps rubbing himself off his thigh, his hands clenching on Steve's ass where they migrated at some point in the past minute. Steve is also about to come in his pants, pressing against Tony's bony hip, but it's not enough, he needs more contact. He fumbles with the opening of his pants, freeing his cock and doing the same for Tony, his hands feel clumsy and uncoordinated, taking too long for such a simple task, and Tony is moaning into his mouth, his tongue doing filthy things, his hands digging deeper into Steve's ass. He can feel the shudder that courses him when they are finally pressed together, skin to skin, and Steve's hand curls around both their cocks and he knows they're not going to last, not like this, and he strokes them and kisses Tony until they are both too far gone to do more than shudder and share breath, clinging tightly to each other.
They come down still pressed against the wall, their foreheads together, and Tony is grinning dopily at him, and Steve feels himself returning it.
"So," Steve says when he finally catches his breath.
"Would you call it a success? The experiment?"
Tony laughs, finally pushing off the wall. Steve moves to give him space, and Tony walks towards the bed and crouches down to pick up something. When he turns back to Steve he looks rumpled, and flushed, and the glasses are even more crooked on his face. He has never looked better and Steve is almost overwhelmed by the urge to push him onto the bed and do it again.
Tony stares at him, considering. He sits on the bed and leers at Steve, patting the bed invitingly.
"I don't know. I think we're going to have to repeat it. Quite a few times," he laughs again when Steve topples him on the bed, covering him with his body. "Just to be sure."