Only when you're around
Genius billionaire Tony Stark, owner of one of the biggest companies in the country and self-proclaimed best engineer of the world, was living in a town house. A terraced house, linked houses, row houses, he was living in a house that was squashed in between two other houses that looked exactly the same. Never in his life had he lived in a place like this, but it was his own fault that he had ended up here.
He blew up his workshop. It happened about once a month, but this time it had been bad. It was an accident, and, thankfully, Tony hadn't been around, but an explosion had blown a hole in his penthouse. Not just his penthouse, also the floor above that, with the guest rooms. And the roof. The explosion was so big it made a hole in the roof two floors above the workshop. So yeah, it was pretty bad. He blamed one of his robots for doing something stupid, but it was never proven.
So Tony couldn't live in his penthouse for a while. He could easily afford to stay in a hotel for a few months, and he did that at first, but very soon after the explosion the complaints had started. People in the neighborhood thought he had worked with dangerous chemicals in his workshop, and that those had ended up in the environment because of the explosion. One person had gotten ill and blamed Tony. That meant Tony couldn't start rebuilding his penthouse until people had done some thorough research, so a judge could tell Tony was innocent. He was an engineer, not a damned chemist. He owned hardly any chemicals.
It didn't matter what Tony said, everyone believed he had done something stupid. Again. The hate mail got worse and sometimes people were waiting for him outside the hotel only to yell at him. Things got out of hand and the press made up story after story. So Tony had to hide in a place people wouldn't expect him to stay, and that was a neighborhood with linked houses. He had to drive a boring car, he had to clean everything himself, but worst of all, everything was so small!
Life had become hell. He hated this new place, he missed his A.I. that helped him with everything, his robots were in pieces and he couldn't find the right parts to repair them, and his cooking was terrible compared to the meals he got served at home. How did anyone live like this? How did they find time to do all these stupid, useless, things?
Worst were probably grocery stores, Tony decided, as he tried to get four overflowing bags out of the trunk of his car. Grocery stores should be used to torture people.
With his elbow he closed the door of the car, before he made his way to the front door. He tried to grab his keys (who still used keys?!) from his pocket, four bags still in his hands, when he tripped over his own feet. The billionaire landed ungracefully on the ground, groceries falling out of the bags and rolling over the ground. Tony cursed loudly as he got back up. With a sigh he started to pick up all the things that had fallen out of the bags.
Suddenly someone crouched down next to him and helped him picking things up. Tony looked at the big hands, muscled arms, broad chest, and the face of an angel. For a moment Tony's hands stopped moving.
'Are you hurt?' asked the man.
'No, no, I'm fine,' Tony said quickly. 'Thanks.'
'No problem,' said the man with a bright smile. 'Shall I carry the bags, then you can open the door.'
'Thanks again,' Tony said as he put the key in the lock and got inside. He took over the bags and said goodbye. When he closed the door he dropped his bags and sprinted to the window to see where the angelic man was going. Tony was very surprised when he went next door. This man wasn’t his neighbor. His neighbor was a friendly dark skinned man with a goatee almost as awesome as his own. Sam, his name was Sam. Tony would have remembered if this the beautiful blond had been part of the family. Tony watched him until the door closed and he instantly missed the sight.
Thankfully Tony was great at distracting himself. He repaired his robots with the freshly bought new parts, installed his A.I. everywhere in the house, and came up with a great idea for a new phone. It was only luck that he spotted the blond man again about a week later. Tony hadn't slept all night and was staring out of the window while sipping his coffee.
And there he was, on a motor bike. Tony recognized him even before he took off his helmet. No one else had a shoulder to waist line like that. Tony was about to run outside, but when he was at the front door his coffee kicked in: he didn't even know his name! It would be awkward and weird if he would run out without a reason. He needed a reason! Tony looked around, searching for something, anything that could make him go next door. His eyes fell on the coffee in his hands. That was it!
Tony put the mug in the kitchen, stepped in his shoes and walked to Sam's door. He had already knocked when he remembered he looked like crap. His hair was a mess, there were unidentified stains on his clothes and he hadn't tied his shoes. He just hoped he would look rough and cool, instead of sleep deprived and generally hobo-like. Tony gave a toothy grin when Sam opened the door.
'Hey, Sam, my neighbor, my friend, my man, I ran out of coffee and desperately need some. Do you have some for me? Please?'
'You look, and sound, like you could use some sleep instead,' Sam said with raised eyebrows.
'I sleep better when I've had some coffee,' Tony whined. 'Come on, I even said please!'
Sam rolled his eyes, but let Tony in anyway. Sam walked to the kitchen, but Tony stopped in the living room, where mister muscly angel was sitting. The blond looked up and smiled when he noticed Tony.
'Hi,' he said.
'Hi,' Tony answered. 'Could have known you were Sam's friend. You're both too nice for your own good.'
'So you admit that this is a ridiculous request?' Sam asked as he walked in again, with some grinded coffee in a cup.
'I do,' Tony said. 'But I didn't think it was safe to drive to the supermarket with my being sooo tired, right? My machine can only handle beans though. That's not going to work.'
'Too bad, I don't have beans,' Sam said. 'I don't have a fancy coffee machine.'
'Make him a cup with your machine,' the blond said. 'Make one for me too while you're at it.'
Sam walked back into the kitchen, muttering something about not being their maid, but both men in the living room knew he was only acting like it bothered him. Sam loved taking care of people.
'I'm Steve,' the blond said. 'Nice to meet you again.'
'Tony,' Tony introduced himself. He noticed the game controllers on the table. 'You guys are going to play some games? Tell me next time. I modified my Xbox and some of the games. They're way more fun to play now. You can borrow it sometimes, if you want.'
'Sounds good,' Steve smiled. 'You should join us then!'
Tony grinned. Success!
'Yeah, but not today, you look terrible,' Sam said as he handed Tony the coffee.
'Alright, alright, I'll leave you two love birds alone and drink my coffee at home,' Tony said. 'I'll sleep after that, like a good boy. Sam, you'll get your cup back tomorrow. Bye Steve!'
Tony got a greeting in return and that's when he walked out of the door. He sipped the coffee and shivered. Not strong enough. Not strong at all. The first thing he did was empty his cup in the sink and pour himself another one before going back to work.
Being a genius could be very nice thing. Not only did Tony get a lot of work done, but at the same time he could plan what to say to Steve next time he saw him. Not that he had trouble talking, fuck no, the opposite. He said too much and he didn't want to scare the hot guy away. Although Steve seemed like he could handle it, he handled his hobo look after all. It was all bullshit, Tony knew it. He just wanted an excuse to think about the walking wet dream without having to admit to himself that he was fantasizing about him. Tony Stark didn't fantasize, he was a man of action!
So the next time Steve walked by, after he parked his motorcycle, Tony practically ran outside. Thankfully he was dressed pretty sharply this time, since he just came back from court. Steve stopped when he noticed Tony.
'Hi, Steve, going to play games with Sam again?'
'Yes,' Steve smiled. 'I bought the new Assassins Creed, we're gonna try that out.'
'Oh, that's a great game!' Tony said, standing still in the middle of his tiny front yard.
'So I heard,' Steve said, showing his brilliant smile again. 'Are you going somewhere?'
'Eh,' Tony said intelligently. 'I was going to do...something. Somewhere. Something. I don't remember. I don't remember why I'm out here. So much for being a genius.'
'That's too bad. Want to play with us until you remember?' Steve asked.
'Sure,' Tony said casually. 'Hope you guys are any good!'
Steve walked into Sam's house and called his friend as he stripped out of his leather suit. 'Hey Sam, you neighbor is here too. He heard we were going to play Assassins Creed and he wanted to join us.'
'I'll make some more coffee then,’ Sam laughed.
Tony apologized for marching in like that, but Sam wouldn't hear of it. He was welcome to join them. They drank coffee, but switched to beer not much later. After Steve consumed almost an entire bag of chips they decided to order pizza. More beer came out of the fridge and the people who weren't playing were eating. Tony found out they didn't play any war games or first person shooters, and when he asked why, Steve explained they had both lost important people while they were in the army. Because of that they had met each other, but the games could trigger memories they'd rather forget. Tony apologized, but Steve waved his apologies away. These nights were to have fun and there was nothing wrong with playing Zelda games, right?
Tony went home long after midnight and he felt better than he had ever felt in his life. He hadn't been able to get any flirting done with Steve, Sam was there all the time, but the two guys were just super nice to him and treated him like he was not Tony Stark. They didn't ask about money, affairs or his company, not even the reason why he lived in a tiny house like this. They asked about his games, robots and experience with different flavored beers. They even paid for his pizza.
Tony felt weird, but good weird. A very good kind of weird.
It was two weeks later when Tony noticed the strange coffee cup between his mugs. Sam's coffee cup. Tony took it from the shelf and hurried to his neighbor. He acted like he hadn’t seen the motor cycle in the front yard. Steve was there! Tony may or may not have programmed his A.I. to tell him whenever Steve was around.
'Hello neighbor,' Steve said as he opened the door, a grin on his face.
'Hello handsome new neighbor, I didn't know you moved in,' Tony said, smirking. 'I have a present for you, to welcome you in the neighborhood. I hope you like it.'
Tony handed Steve the cup and the blond couldn't stop a laugh. 'How thoughtful, thank you! I'll let Sam know you returned it. He is running late at the supermarket.'
'Poor you, all alone,' Tony said, winking at Steve. 'Need me to keep you company until he gets back?'
'That sounds like we're cheating on Sam,' Steve laughed. 'Like I'm the housewife who's waiting in her negligee until the plumber comes to fix her sink while her husband is out.'
'I'm sure you look great in a negligee, but I'd be a terrible plumber,' Tony said. 'I'm afraid I can't make your secret fantasy come true.'
'A shame,' Steve shrugged. 'I'll wait until Sam is here with the beer then. Will you join us again?'
'Love to, but I have a meeting in an hour,' Tony said. 'Ask again next time!'
'I will,' Steve said.
Tony walked off and waved at Sam who just arrived. Things continued like that for a while. Every time Steve showed up, Tony ended up in front of Sam’s door with another excuse. He asked for screwdrivers, laundry detergent, cough syrup, and even for some shoes, since he lost his. One day one of his robots mysteriously ended up in Sam’s garden, he came to ask if the two of them wanted some real coffee, since he was on his way to Starbucks, and once he asked if Sam had any potatoes. When Sam had asked what he was making Tony had told him that he didn’t know yet, there were so many options. Mash them, boil them, put them in a stew. Sam had laughed and told Tony he didn’t have any, but he had asked him in.
Sam was a nice guy. He invited Tony in almost all the time, even when he showed up with some ridiculous request. Tony started to pay for the pizza and even brought beer now and then, but he kept making up excuses to actually join the two friends. Renovations on his tower had ended a week ago, but Tony was not ready yet to move back. He was still on a mission.
Sam and Steve sat on the couch, not saying anything, not doing anything, just sitting. Sam had a bad day and Steve came over to help him through it. Days like this didn't happen often anymore, but when they did, sharing it with someone who understood was the best way to get through them. Steve found out that Sam just wanted to have him around. He didn't need to talk or do something, just sitting there was enough. For Steve it was the other way around. He wanted to be distracted. He needed someone to drag him outside and show him the good things.
'Ah, fuck no, not now,' Sam groaned. 'I saw Tony outside. I'm sure he is on his way here. He only ever shows up when you're here. It's kind of cute, but not today, today it's desperate.'
'He never visits when you're alone?' Steve asked surprised.
'I don't think he even likes me,' Sam said with a sigh. 'Only on our gaming days he shows up. Like he has a sensor that starts tingling when you drive by.'
Steve chuckled. 'Might be the sound of my bike.'
The two friends looked at each other when the doorbell rang.
'I'll talk to him,' Steve promised as he walked to the door.
Sam heard them talk, but couldn't hear what they were saying. He heard them laughing, talking again, but after a few minutes he heard the door close and he saw Tony walk away.
'How did you do that?' Sam asked when Steve walked in again. 'I tried to get rid of him a few times, but he is persistent!'
'I might have promised to go on a date with him,' Steve said.
Sam's mouth fell open. He looked at his friend, to make sure Steve wasn't kidding and then he started laughing.
'Getting a dog didn't help you, but a hot, rich dude hitting on you and you're suddenly back in the world?’ Sam asked. ‘Good for you, man, good for you.’
‘Well, he is nice,’ Steve defended himself. ‘And he doesn’t look half bad. I’m just going to give it a try. I know you’ll be there with a box of tissues and a pile of corny DVD’s if he breaks my heart.’
‘I’m happy for you, really, Tony better not break your heart, or I’ll break his bank account. You know what, I’m feeling a lot better. Go grab us some beers, I’m gonna kick your ass in Mario Kart.’