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Steve was a beard to Tony, not in a sexual way but in a social. He had the board and worse, Pepper, nipping his ass after a particularly bad scandal he was too tired to think through the repercussions of. That's how he ended smashed-faced in a shitty bar on the poor side of town watching a skinny blond wiggle his ass on a scratched to hell dance floor.

He flagged down a scantily clad waitress and pressed a twenty into her palm and ordered the fruitiest drink he saw on the menu with a nod to the laughing man. Her megawatt smile dimmed a bit and it was somewhere between that and the man, Steve, matching over to place the glass onto his table with his own smile, Tony thought out a plan. Turns out Tony would have killed Steve with his drink choice and with that tipping point, Tony, for the first time in years, asked someone out on a date without them being a model and or a lovely one night stand.

Pepper smiled when the tabloids only talked about how polite, down to earth, completely normal Steve was. New York born and owner of an art store, volunteer at the local VA, animal shelter, and school, the only dirt the rags could get on Steve was a few minor arrests for fights at rallies for various rights organization. With no checkered past or jaded lovers coming out of the woodwork, Steve became the perfect patsy for Tony’s wild lifestyle, bad life choices, and overall horrid decision making.

Steve became America’s love child within the span of two months and Tony got the added bonus of the press kissing his ass with puff pieces about love and being a changed man. Tony had just taken to drinking in more than out, not to mention Steve could make a killer gin and tonic when he was’t trying to guilt Tony into rehab or sobriety.

As with most relationships, Tony did have to work at it, which was unfortunate but unavoidable and meant his fridge was now filled less with wine coolers and more with greens and free range chicken eggs. Steve also dragged him to political rallies at far too early in the morning but the pictures boosted Stark Enterprises’ stocks a whole three points. Suddenly, he was involved in three different charities involving saving the planet on top of the ones already created in his name.

Obie didn’t like Steve, and maybe at first that had been half the reason he kept him around considering Obie approved of Tony’s flavor of the day as a young man blowing off sexual steam, but now it was almost ridiculous. Tony could see the proud smile of Pepper in the audience when he cut the ribbon on the newly renovated VA in Brooklyn but Obie was just clapping slowly while glaring at Steve who was standing and whooping from his spot up front. Tony blew a kiss that ended up splashed across the news channels by the time their car reached the house.

The sex was unexpected and inexplicably great. Tony had never gone out of his way to get a man into bed before but when he inevitably crashed and burned this relationship, he might have to change that. Steve was slight but strong, knew what he wanted and knew the ways to make Tony give it to him, sometimes give it himself. It was hunger, boredom, and sex that dragged him up from his lab and even then, it often ended up being a mixture of all three.

The first time Steve got sick and Tony walked into an event with an empty arm a woman, blonde, sharp, and beautiful, took full advantage by throwing herself into his lap the exact second of the camera flash. He expected anger, annoyance, a hostile and bright-eyed Steve fuming by the door, Tony’s silk rope slipping attractively down his thin shoulders. He was partly right, Steve was half-dressed but lacked the energy to do more than ask about attentions. Tony felt his heart go into palpitations when he looked his boyfriend in the eye and honestly claimed not wanting to sleep with the model. Steve nodded and let his eyes slip closed. Tony wondered if he was ok and only moved him to the bed when, while standing upright, Steve started to snore in the center of their living room.

Steve was a good man, deserved better than Tony, that was for sure, but he would mooch off Steve’s good heart until he realized his mistake. Tony only realized his mistake when Steve smacked down a thick stack of papers a safe distance away from the blowtorch running in Tony’s hand. He turned it off and flipped up his mask, raising an eyebrow and waiting for an explanation. Expired lease Steve said, tapping the papers.

“For a genius you sure can be thick,” Steve muttered when Tony just offered to buy the building. Steve went out that night, his pants tight and the top two buttons of his nice shirt undone giving the impression too close to a schoolboy for comfort. Pepper was a bit more help. She ignored his first few calls until his third time when she huffed into the receiver.

“He wants you to ask him to move in,” She sighed. “You have been together for almost two years, it’s the natural progression of things.” Tony hung up and almost broke up with Steve via text before Pepper, knowing too much about Tony and his thought processes or lack thereof, ran in wearing pj’s and her Jimmy Choo’s, wrangled it from his fingers before throwing it across the room. It was only when spectacularly drunk did he promise to, one, talk to Steve, and two, not break-up with him right when he saw his beautiful button nose walk in through the door with drink-flushed cheeks and pants still snug at his hips.

He offered Steve his bed with a small smile and when he pushed his slim body under Tony’s sheets, he wanted nothing more than to join him. Steve moaned when Tony went to leave the room, spreading out his hand and making grabbing motions at Tony’s arm until he threw his pillow on the far side and crawled in behind Steve, tucking their hips together with a sigh.

He could do moving in, Tony thought, nights like this, snuggled together. He would ask Steve after his presentation tomorrow, Tony promised, the night he got back he would walk up and drop to one knee if Steve asked for it. He slipped his cold nose into the warmth of Steve’s nape, besides, his Jericho missile presentation will only take a few days.