Steve lets Bucky drag him to his first party in months on a chilly night in April, and starts to regret it about five minutes in. Bucky gets pulled in five different directions, between his soccer friends, his engineering friends, and his floormates from who knows when. In nearly four years, despite meeting dozens of new people, Steve was still Bucky’s best friend. Going to the same school and sticking together despite different majors and interests and girlfriends (on Bucky’s end) was never a question for them. Steve knows this, tonight in particular, because Bucky had reminded him of the fact nearly fifteen times when convincing him to come to the party.
Because unlike Bucky, Steve did not have friends and acquaintances in droves. He had a close-knit group of friends he wouldn’t trade for the world, though, and they tended to favor more low-key nights together. Loud house parties full of drunken strangers had never been his thing, which is why Bucky played the “best friend” card for the first time in at least a year. Apparently there was someone there he wanted to talk to, and he needed Steve to be his wingman. Steve wasn’t sure what help he would be, all gangly limbs and nervous, jumbled words, but he’d sighed and let Buck help him pull together an outfit appropriate for the evening.
At some point on his hunt to find Bucky again, someone handed Steve a beer, and then another one, and he was a few in by the time he finally found him in the kitchen, talking to — oh, no. Tony Stark. Steve feels the beer he’d been throwing down with ease lurch in his stomach at the sight, and when Bucky’s face lights up when he sees him, everything comes crashing into place for Steve. Bucky and Tony had a bunch of classes together over the years, and they were friends, even if they only saw each other in class and at the occasional party.
Steve only met him through Bucky, and he hadn’t been exactly shy about his feelings for the guy. He knew his chances were slim, had seen the kind of guys and girls Tony Stark slept with (and he rarely did more than just that, the kind of one and done thing that had never been Steve’s style), and he was not — well, that. Tony went for the classic tall, dark, and handsome thing where Steve was more, tall, blond and awkward. Which was why he’d turned down Bucky’s many pleas to set them up, though it was becoming abundantly clear that this was the reason Bucky had dragged him here tonight. He was so going to kill him.
“Stevie!” Bucky shouts, clearly a few drinks in himself, and Tony gives him a smile and a once-over that turns Steve’s insides to jello. “Where did you disappear to?” Bucky asks, slinging an arm around his slim shoulders before he could argue that Bucky had done the disappearing act.
“We thought it would be fun to… remember those games, seven minutes in heaven and spin the bottle and those dumb high school games? We thought it would be fun to relive the good old days, just for laughs,” Bucky declares, nudging him in the side, and this could not be happening . It was so clear what he was doing, Steve could only hope the floor would open up and swallow him whole. Tony had to know how pathetically in love with him Steve was and now…
“Yeah, it’ll be fun… Stevie .” Steve’s nickname in Tony’s mouth does something to his brain, short circuits it, or something, because the next thing he knows he’s nodding and finishing the last of his drink, and Bucky is announcing that Steve and Tony should go first, despite there being no one else to actually play whatever game this was supposed to be.
Another blink and they’re in someone’s closet, and for a closet in a student’s New York apartment, it was pretty decently sized, Steve notices, but it’s way too small for them, and there’s no air, and Tony is so close to him now. Steve can smell his cologne, not too strong, just clean and something like mint, and … they’ve been in there too long without Steve saying anything, he realizes. He opens and closes his mouth a few times.
“Uh…” Is the best he can do.
Tony had slept with half the campus, if rumors were to be believed. Steve figured it was in the vicinity of truth, but even so, that was still much more experience than Steve had. He’d had a few girlfriends, had hooked up with guys, but… nothing serious. Not that Tony was serious, but even so, he had countless people to compare Steve to and that made him —
“Nervous?” Tony asks, smirking a little now, and bringing an arm up to Steve’s shoulder.
“Uh, just, kind of … nervous, yeah.” Steve decides on honesty at the last minute, surprising even himself. But he never could pretend to be something he wasn’t. He liked Tony, and it seemed like he’d had a hand in this scheme with Bucky, so it was at least somewhat reciprocated.
“We don’t have to do anything,” Tony shrugs like he’s indifferent to the whole thing, but his eyes are bright and serious and Steve can’t look away from them. He’s described to Bucky what those eyes do to him so many times he’d threatened to kick him out.
“It’s stupid,” Tony admits, before Steve can say yes or no or even take a breath. “Bucky let it slip that you might, uh, have feelings for me, and suddenly I was devising this whole insane plan because talking to you always seemed…” Tony trails off and looks at Steve, shrugging again, more vulnerable now.
Steve takes a step forward. “Seemed?” He asks, because he has to know.
“Intimidating?” Tony says it like a question, and Steve apologizes for the laugh that barks out of him like a reflex.
“ Me? You’ve slept your way through half the student body but I was the intimidating one here?” Steve is incredulous, the alcohol letting him be far more forthright than he would ever be on his own.
Tony’s mouth quirks up just a little. “Are you slut-shaming me, Steven?” He’s kidding but Steve suddenly wishes he could take it back.
“I… no, of course not, I just meant that I thought you were good at this kind of thing…” Steve babbles, taking an unconscious step closer to Tony.
“Relax, I’m kidding. You can’t be slut-shamed if you’re not ashamed. But yes , you. You’re always so quiet, or surrounded by your friends, and I can never get a read on what you’re thinking. It’s unsettling.” The smirk is back on his face, and Steve’s insides are liquifying, and he was pretty sure they were running out of oxygen in this small space. His head was a boozy mix of emotions he wasn’t sure how to process just yet.
Tony is looking at him intently, though, a question clear in his eyes, and Steve nods, yes , because whatever is about to happen here, he wants it. Tony brings a hand up to Steve’s neck and it’s warm and soft — softer than Steve would have ever expected. He realizes he’s the sole focus of Tony’s dark eyes, and his stomach bottoms out again. The next thing Steve knows, he’s leaning in, sharing Tony’s air, can smell the faint scent of beer covered up by spearmint gum and it’s happening, it’s happening, oh god it’s —
The door comes crashing open and they fly apart at the sound of Bucky’s voice, “You guys figure it out yet!?”