Tony could feel Steve’s arms around him. It wasn’t a warm hug. It wasn’t cold either but this strange neutral sensation. It was okay though. It was still a hug, and Tony closed his eyes trying to ground himself in the hug. Steve’s arms were around him. He breathed in deep the scent of…smoke?
“Shit,” Tony said, ripping off his helmet. He looked around, arms flailing to find the fire. DUM-E beeped, fire extinguisher in hand.
“The fire has been dealt with,” JARVIS said.
“I can see that.” Tony rolled his eyes and patted DUM-E’s strut. “Good boy.”
“Perhaps you’ll notice these things sooner if—“
“Can it, JARVIS. DUM-E did his job and nobody’s hurt.”
If JARVIS could have snorted or protest, well, the A.I. chose not to do so. Instead, JARVIS flashed the time at him—hologram in bright red numbers blinking.
“I suppose, sir, you should know you’re—“
“Late,” Tony finished. He picked up the helmet he took off and placed it on the workshop table. He’ll have to figure out the tweaks later to make the hug more real. Good grief, he was pathetic. Who the fuck try to make a virtual reality stimulator just to hug Captain America?
“I know.” Tony grabbed his suitcase but couldn’t find his backpack.
“By the door,” JARVIS sighed. “You dropped it there when you came in.”
“Thanks, you’re the best, J.” Tony swung his bag over his shoulder. “Keep that project running. Analyze the data—you know what I’m looking for.”
“Of course.” JARVIS pulled up a window, and Tony watched the data points run in a long line. Then, he was out there, suitcase flipped into his wonderful board.
Even with the speed of the board (he really needed to make some roller blades), Tony barely managed to get to the science wing in time. He slipped into Professor Pym’s class as discretely as he could. The mad man didn’t notice and in the excitement of his lecture nearly spilled a beaker of purple liquid. Jan, the lifesaver, passed him the sheets for todays’ experiment.
“Why are you late?” Jan whispered.
“Lost track of time.” Tony skimmed the paper. It wasn’t that difficult. God knows, Pym had him work on stuff way more advanced. He rolled up his sleeve. “Which step are we on?”
“Six,” Jan said and dangled a pair of googles in front of Tony’s face. “Here.”
Tony scoffed. “I don’t need them.”
Lab safety in Pym’s class was a joke anyway. He couldn’t count how many times he got burned or electrocuted.
“You will when you make a mistake. No arguing.” Jan snapped them onto Tony’s face. He tried to push her away with little success.
“I’m a genius. I don’t make mistakes.”
“Right,” Jan said, an amused smile on her lips, and directed Tony’s gaze to the front of the class with a tilt of her head. Tony nearly slid off his stool in shock. Steve Rogers dressed in jeans with his shirt sleeves rolled up and looking unfairly good was standing right there.
“Jan!” Tony hissed, keeping his face up front. He barely managed to smile as Steve seemed to notice him and pretended he wasn’t late. “Jan, why is he here?”
Because as far as Tony was concerned, Steve did not take advanced physics, not on Tony and Jan’s level at any rate.
“Professor Pym needed a lab assistance,” Jan sighed. “I couldn’t because I’m in the class. I want to be an assistant.”
“You just want in in Pym’s pants.” Tony winced as Steve shot a pointed look in their section, their whispers a tad too loud.
Jan kicked him. Hard. “Say that again?”
“Sorry,” Tony mumbled. Jan took her fashion career just as seriously as the superhero training. Working with Pym gave Jan advantages in both. A Van Dyne outfit was more than worth the cost when you considered that the fabric was fireproof, tear proof, and whatever proof. “But who was telling me she had a crush on him several months ago?”
Jan smacked him again, and Tony resigned himself to Pym’s lecture. The words washed over him. It was difficult to concentrate when you had a hunk standing just right there. Which was really Tony’s problems. All of Tony’s problems.
He eyed the way Steve’s shirt moved, those strong muscular forearms, and wondered just how he could incorporate them into his system. In order to make the hug accurate, Tony had to recreate all of the feelings. He should probably see if he could buy a set of Steve’s clothes.
“Pay attention.” Jan poked him, bringing Tony’s attention back to their work. “What do I do next?”
“Uh?” Tony picked up a test tube, still distracted as Steve turned. The man’s ass looked good in those jeans. He tipped the contents into the beaker, and to Tony’s horror the solution started bubbling.
Tony wasn’t fast enough, only managed to push Jan out of the way, when the experiment exploded right in his face. Tony blinked. His mouth tasted like ash and his ears were rining.
“What?” He croaked out. Professor Pym beamed at him.
“Excellent. That’s science for you.”
“Are you okay?” Steve asked, concerned. At some point while Tony was still reeling from the explosion, Steve had made it to their table.
“Yeah. I’m, I’m good.” Tony wished the boom knocked him out. This was embarrassing for a scientist of his talent. “It’s, uh, science.”
He lamely repeated Pym’s words, sounding even more like a dolt.
“Aren’t you glad I told you wear the googles?” Jan asked.
“Um…” Tony’s brain stuttered as Steve took his face in hand. Gently, Steve took off his googles and examined Tony’s face. He could feel a blush rising on his cheeks and shoved Steve away from him.
“Who said you could touch me?”
Good god, he couldn’t get that feather light touch of Steve’s off him. It lingered like a phantom ghost, and Steve’s hand had been dry and warm. So careful in holding Tony’s face.
“You need to get check,” Steve said, but he didn’t try to touch Tony again.
“I’m fine—I don’t need.”
“I’m fine.” Tony turned to Pym. “Sorry, professor, can we just?”
“Your dedication is admirable.” Pym nodded, walking back to the front of the class.
Steve crossed his arms. “Professor!”
“He’ll be fine. Not the first time it’s happened,” Pym said cheerfully. “Science waits for no one.”
“Just drop it,” Tony said, looking at the indignant look on Steve’s face. “He’s right. Not the first time it’s happened, and it won’t be the last.”
“I’m just concerned.”
“Yeah, well, you can take that and—“
“Tony!” Jan admonished.
Tony slumped over the table, careful not to look at Steve. As the class continued, all he could think about was how to make the virtual reality helmet better—now that he sort of knew what Steve’s touch felt like on his skin. It was a brand, scorching hot.
He could feel Steve’s arms around him. Steve was so warm, like a cocoon, and his chest was nice and firm. Tony attempted to snuggle into Steve’s arms some more.
There was a world of pain as Tony realized he was on the floor. He sighed. There had to be a way to make it real without him kissing the ground every time he tried to advance the hug.
“Tony, why are you on the ground?” Rhodey’s voice filtered through, and Tony groaned.
“I’m contemplating my life choices.”
“You’re not still stuck on, Steve, are you? I thought now that your ‘civil war’ ended that you’re on good terms.”
Tony didn’t reply, just settled into the floor a little more. He was going to lie here forever.
“Unless,” Rhodey continued. “You’re talking about what happened in lab today. You explode things ona daily basis, and he can’t—“
“Wait. How do you know about that?” Tony sat up, taking the helmet off.
“Jan. You didn’t hurt yourself too badly, did you?”
“No, and don’t listen to what Jan says.”
There was a wicked gleam to Rhodey’s eyes. “About your crush on Steve Rogers? Everyone knows about that.”
Rhodey laughed. “How about you hit the club with me?”
“Not another party. I’ve science to do!”
“You just want to stay here and pig out in your cheese fridge.”
“Point.” Tony glanced down at his helmet. Drinking had to better than trying to get a virtual hug from Steve. Probably easier too.
The robo sever had barely given Tony his first beer when he heard a loud cheer.
“Yay!” Jan’s voice carried easily over the crowd. “Cap’s tearing up the dancefloor.”
Tony spat out his drink, turning to see Steve doing the Charleston of all things.
“It’s training,” Steve called back, an easy grin on his face.
“You need new moves,” Sam shouted. The crowd laughed, and Tony should sneak out. He didn’t think he could handle Sam teaching Steve how to grind it up.
Tony watched wide-eyed as Natasha did a scarily good twerking that Steve was copying well for—
“Pretty good for a white boy,” Rhodey commented.
“Yeah,” Tony said, stunned, unable to tear his eyes away. He could incorporate that into his V.R. once he got the hug down.
“But not good enough,” Rhodey went on, getting up. He downed his drink and called out. “That was wimpy, Rogers. You’re not doing it right.”
“Um…” Tony turned back to the robo server He was going to need another one if he was going to watch Steve get all sweaty and hot underneath the strobe light.
“Another…?” Tony faltered. The robo server was shooting off sparks, steam starting to leak from its various joints. There was liquor on the counter and the robo server’s chest.
“Sorry?” Tony said as the robo server gestured angrily as how Tony spat the drink on him. The robo server whined high pitched and before Tony knew it the robot tossed him outside. He definitely made the robot too temperamental.
Tony fiddled with the V.R., and it sucked because he still couldn’t get it to work. He frowned at it, and didn’t notice when the door opened to the classroom.
He dropped the helmet. “Steve?”
“I’m not interrupting am I?”
“No,” Tony said before his brain caught up with him. Why did he say that?
“Good.” Steve closed the door behind him. “I wanted to talk to you.”
Tony blinked. “I—I didn’t do anything?”
He really hadn’t, and after their argument and defeating Hydra Tony went a little low-key. Or, well, low-key for him.
“No, but you’re…” Steve paused, and god damn. His eyes were so blue. “You’ve been avoiding me. We haven’t even studied together since…”
“I’ve been busy. Was busy.” Tony bit his lip, gaze to the side. “Is there anything I can help you with? And sit down, for god’s sakes.”
Steve sighed and obediently sat down on the bench. “Tony—“
“If you want to apologize for arguing, I think we already did that.” Tony cut him off. “You didn’t…you didn’t even want to hug me.”
That last part slipped out accidentally, and Tony couldn’t take it back.
“You want a hug?” Steve sounded, stunned.
“Yeah,” Tony said quietly because he hadn’t been joking even if Steve thought he was. “Though, like I said, my stimulator’s pretty good.”
Total lie, but schematics.
Tony eyed Steve out of the corner of his eye. Steve looked as if he couldn’t figure out what to say, and his cheeks were pink.
“I could do that,” Steve said. “If you still want it.”
“Not if you don’t want to.”
“No, no.” Steve patted his thigh. “Come, come here. I’ll hug you.”
Tony took a step forward, cautious. When Steve didn’t bolt, Tony moved in closer. It was difficult to hug Steve at this angle, and he straddled Steve without a second thought.
“Tony?” Steve squeaked.
“You’re too tall.”
This close, Tony could feel just how hot Steve ran. He could even smell the Old Spice wafting under his nose. He stared at Steve’s shirt, at the star there. Tony waited.
“Aren’t you going to?”
“Yes!” Steve jerked, muscles flexing beneath Tony’s legs as if he was going to stand. Gingerly, he placed his arms around Tony’s waist.
“I won’t break.”
Steve pulled him in closer, and it was everything like he imagined. Tony snuggled into him. He closed his eyes and this was good. So much freaking better than his stimulator.
“Thanks,” Tony said. This close, he could see Steve’s eyes. They were definitely so blue and wonderful. He couldn’t resist touching Steve’s face.
Steve kissed him then, and screw hugs. This was much better than a hug.