Chapter 1: Do Cute People Even Live in Vermont?
Natasha's eyes quickly flickered over her emails, searching for one name in particular. "I can't seem to find anything." She said, half to herself, half to the man on the other side of the desk, brown eyes burning into her from behind the laptop. "Are you sure you sent it?" She risked asking. "I mean, it wouldn't be the first time."
"Natasha." He sighed, but it nearly sounded fond. "I swear I sent it, I had Pepper right there in that chair watching me as I typed every single word, and then Happy called up to grab lunch and I-" He hesitated, and Natasha couldn't help herself as the corner of her lip twitched.
"And then you what?" She questioned, almost basking in the look of recognition that flashed over her bosses face. "You forgot to press send didn't you?"
"Pepper is going to murder me." Tony stated quickly straightening up in his chair and pulling his keyboard towards himself. It would still be in his drafts, life was not completely over, at least not yet. "Don't look so smug." Tony cut back, the swooshing sound of an email being sent coming from the computer speakers. "If she finds out you let me go all afternoon with it floating in the drafts she will murder you next."
"No she wouldn't." Natasha replied simply with a small shrug of her shoulders. "Pepper loves me, and you know it."
"Too much I think." Tony hummed before he was pushing himself away from his desk, and checking his wrist watch. "Come on Romanov, it's way too late why are you still here anyways?"
"Because you are." Natasha replied, standing up and tucking away her laptop. "I've been told that's part of my job, where you go I go, what you do I do. I get to be you, but just look better doing it."
Tony smirked, pulling his suit jacket from the back of his office chair, and waiting for Natasha to head out of the office before following her. "You know, if you were anyone else I'd have you fired for being so snarky, but I like you Big Red, not sure why, but there's just something about you."
"It's because I let you call me big red without filing a complaint with HR." Natasha pointed out, stepping to her desk and grabbing her purse and jacket from the hook. "Though I would hope after a year of working together that you would come up with something a bit more imaginative."
"That's probably part of it." Tony laughed as he slowly moved towards the elevator bay. "Any plans for tonight?"
"I have a hot date with a bottle of wine and a laundry machine." she sighed, pulling her jacket on as they waited for the elevator. "What about you? I Saw that email from Christine what's her face, are you going to dinner with her?"
"First of all, don't be nosy." Tony raised a single finger, before adding a second one. "Secondly, never with her, been there, done that and if I wanted to jump back into the dating pool it would not be with a literal shark."
"And Thirdly?" Natasha asked, because she knew Tony enough to know it was coming.
"And thirdly." Tony spoke, lifting a third finger to make his point. "I do not have the time, or the energy to date right now."
"That's fair." Natasha agreed. "I hear weddings are the place to meet someone new anyways, so who knows what you'll come home with from Vermont."
"Do cute people even live in Vermont?" Tony asked as the elevator announced it's arrival with a ding. "Seriously why are you choosing to get married there, what's the draw?"
"Some barn that James's friend helps run." Natasha admitted with another shrug. "Or owns, I'm not sure, basically for a discount."
"If you had asked I could have paid." Tony says, holding his arm out to prevent the doors from closing before Natasha had a chance to get inside. "You could be getting ready to fly out to Italy, or the Maldives, or anywhere but Vermont."
Natasha laughs as she steps into the elevator. "You're already paying for the welcome dinner, which by the way we didn't even need to have."
"It's my duty as boss of the bride." Tony says with a one shoulder shrug. "Besides I have't had a chance to even meet this illusive fiance of yours yet, I needed some place to do it, somewhere I could judge him and not feel bad about it, you know?"
Natasha rolled her eyes, pressing the button for the ground floor. "Will you please ask Pepper one last time if she's sure she wont be able to make it?"
"Yes." Tony agrees, removing his arm from against the elevator door. "Goodnight Miss Romanov."
"Goodnight Mister Stark."
Pepper nodded along as she typed, her fingers moving over her keyboard graceful and fast. Tony admired the way she always held herself, like class and pride personified, with an aurora of do not fuck with me to compliment her soft beauty. It wasn't a surprise to him that he had fallen for her completely the day she arrived in his office. A young lady hired to help him find his footing, grab his dry cleaning and remind him to eat. At twenty years old that was like winning the lottery. He had been tossed to the lions after his fathers death, and if it hadn't been for Pepper Potts, Stark Industries would have died along with Howard.
It had been nearly ten years, and he was still head over heels for her - they had tried that can't sleep kind of romance, but it wasn't for them. Better off as friends, but the type of friend you would sell your soul to save. Which is why Tony was finding it nearly impossible to be mad at her for not really listening to him, even though he had been in her office complaining for almost half an hour now.
"So, should I do it?" he finally asked, knowing full well she hadn't heard much of anything he had just spewed out.
"Probably not." She replied plainly still, eyes squinting briefly at her screen before she hit the enter button with a little bit more force than was probably necessary. Satisfied with whatever she had just sent, she set her green eyes on to Tony. "Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Did you even hear what it is I wanted to do?" he asked with a questioning eyebrow.
"Honestly no." Pepper admitted, a soft smile on her pink lips. "You lost me some time after running for mayor of flavor town? Which I don't even want to know what you mean, but generally your ideas are not good and you probably shouldn't."
"Wow, okay. Flavor town is very important and we need someone who knows what good food is in charge, and not some guy that thinks beans on hot dogs makes them gourmet." Tony protested, this was one of the many reasons they were better off as friends. "But besides that topic having ended ten minutes ago, I asked you if I should just cancel all your meetings and make you come to Vermont with me."
"Definitely No." Pepper turned to face him straight on as if scolding a puppy. "I already had to move around all these meetings so that you could take the time off, I just can't swing it. I'll send a very expensive gift okay?"
"Did you want me to come back early?" Tony offered, choosing to ignore the puzzled look Pepper was giving him. "I Could fly home right after the ceremony."
"Okay." Pepper narrowed her eyes at the man. "What is it, what's wrong?"
"What?" Tony tried to paint his best version of offended on to his face. "Can't a guy want to come home and help his CEO run his company because he cares?"
"Oh please." Pepper fondly rolled her eyes, though her smile did reappear. "we both know I do not require your help, what is wrong?"
"I don't know anyone else going to this wedding." Tony admitted, leaning back into the chair he had taken over across from Pepper. "what if they're all terrible people?"
"Then you should fit right in." Pepper teased.
"You are so hilarious." Tony deadpanned. "I'm serious, I like Natasha, I think she's great, she kind of reminds me of you but a little less-"
"If you say mean I will kick you-"
"Polished?" Tony finished instead, knowing her threat was not empty. "I haven't even met the groom, and at this point I've been invited and had to miss so many events I'm sure they think I am a giant ass."
"Vermont is a big place Tony." Pepper sighed. "It's a few nights, you make nice, you have a little fun, stay out of the tabloids, you come home refreshed. It's a win for all of us." She turned her attention back to her computer screen, another email or something having caught her attention. "If it truly is awful then you make up an excuse to come home, no one will be the wiser."
"And you are sure there is nothing that can convince you to come along?" Tony had to ask, at least once more.
"I'm sure." She replied, though she was once again typing, and Tony knew he was about to lose her again.
"Mom says she can't go out." Tony announced as he stepped off the elevator onto the floor of his office, and Natasha at her desk in front of it. "I begged, I pleaded, she said no way, now how could she possibly be seen having fun."
"Oh really?" Natasha asked, glancing up from her desk once he got closer. "If she heard you call her mom she would probably stab you with the heel of her shoe."
"Don't talk to your elders that way." Tony quipped, all but strutting into his office.
"You're younger than me." Natasha smirked, pushing away from her desk as Tony passed.
"By six months." Tony reasoned, dropping himself into his chair.
"Exactly." Natasha pointed out, crossing her arms. "Are you ready for the trip?"
"Yes." Tony confirmed. "I booked my hotel room, I have a car rented from the airport, and I will greet you at the welcome dinner at seven on the dot, and I promise to not make you work even once the entire weekend." He went over his mental checklist to make sure he wasn't forgetting anything. "Are you ready?"
"I think so." Natasha admitted. "Are you okay if I head out then?"
"Go, be free." Tony waved his hand in the space between them. "Escape before I change my mind, you have a flight to catch."
"Thank you Tony." Natasha grinned wide turning on her heel to leave. "See you in Vermont!" She called over her shoulder as she headed away.
Natasha had been with Stark Industries for nearly three years, when Tony first met her, she was working with Legal, helping them sort paper work and fax contracts. Nothing exciting, in fact the only reason he even noticed her was because of the way she looked. Any red blooded american, male or female, would tell you that Natasha was gorgeous. Of course she was so much more than that, but Tony was not above admitting it was the first thing he had noticed. When Pepper moved up to CEO, Tony needed someone to take her place.
He fought with every single person that Pepper put in that position, no one was good enough, and the ones that did work hard were either too afraid of Tony to put him in his place, or got too frustrated and quit. It took a year of his assistant being a revolving door of people before Pepper promoted Natasha.
Natasha did not give Tony an inch, and yet still managed to stroke his ego enough that he knew she was the one. He took to her quickly, and she him. Tony gladly added her to his very short list of friends, So when she came into the office after Valentine's day with a ring, Tony knew there was no way he was not going to be apart of it. Thankfully, Natasha didn't disagree. So now he was heading off to Vermont, to finally meet the groom, and everyone else Natasha occasionally mentioned when speaking about her life.
"The last time I dressed casual, I was put on the worst dressed list in OK Magazine." Tony frowned into his cell phone, currently pinned between his ear and his shoulder as he checked himself out in the mirror.
"Tony, I thought we discussed what constitutes as an emergency and what does not." Pepper's tired voice came through. "I am failing to see how this does."
"Just help me." Tony nearly wined, brushing a hand over the front of his black button up."Did you get the photo yet?"
Tony could hear pepper sigh, and the phone rattle as she looked at what had been texted to her. "You look fine." there was a slight pause before she added. "Are you standing on your toes in this photo?"
"Shut up." Tony rolled his eyes, trying to ignoring the laughter from his friend. "I was trying to give you the whole picture."
"By looking taller in a photograph?" Pepper chuckled. "I think you look good, even on your toes. Where's this dinner?"
"In the hotel restaurant." Tony looked himself over, one last time before deciding it was as good as he was going to get, and he would be late if he changed again. "Wish me luck?"
"You don't need it, you're the most charming person I've ever met." Pepper, always the flatterer. "But good luck."
Tony knew he was charming, he didn't want to sound too full of himself, but he could charm the robe off a monk if he tried. It's what he grew up doing, flash a smile throw a compliment and get them eating out of your hand by the end of the night. But he didn't want to do that tonight, if he was going to be friends with Natasha he wanted to be friends with her friends, the right way. Without putting on a facade every time he saw them. Or a least he was going to try.
When Tony got to the restaurant, it was full of people, and Tony recognized none of them, thankfully, Natasha must have spotted him through the crowd because suddenly she had called his name and was frantically waving from across the room.
"Tony!" She exclaimed, squeezing herself through the bodies to join his side. "You made it."
"I told you I would." Tony was just relieved to see a familiar face, so he wouldn't take offence to her surprise. "I know it's hard for you to believe but I can do some things on my own."
Natasha rolled her eyes, but grabbed his hand and yanked him into the throngs of people. "There are some people I want you to meet, specifically." She weaved them around a few more bodies, exchanging a few hellos with people she obviously knew - but wasn't too concerned about introducing. "You need to meet the wedding party, I haven't shut up about you, and my friend Clint thinks I'm lying about knowing The Tony Stark.."
"He sounds fun." Tony commented, following her towards a row of tables against a back wall.
When they cut through, a short dirty blond wolf whistled. "So he's not a figment of your imagination!" And that had to be-
"Shut up Clint." Natasha sniped back.
"I want you to meet someone." And just like that Natasha was pulling Tony to her side, and pointing towards a table of smiling faces. "That's my man of Honor Clint, he's annoying but we go way, way back.-"
Tony looked at the faces as Clint said something else snarky that caused Natasha to flip him off, and he couldn't help but notice the familiar wave of emotions that most people went through when meeting him. Always started with a genuine smile, and then once they realized who they were looking at it was either shock or surprise, sometimes disgust, which was usually followed by a blank stare, or another smile. Tony's default reaction was to smile and nod.
"-And then we have Sam, he's one of the groomsmen, and Sharon my bridesmaid-" Natasha carried on. "Where's-"
Tony noticed everyone glance towards two more men joining the area, and that's when Tony saw him. A few extra years on his face, but sure as hell it was-
Tony was the one who spoke, but it was not his voice that came out. No, the voice was small and cracked and foreign to Tony's ears. It was the voice of his past self uttering a name to a face he never thought he'd see again. He knew his mouth was hanging open, and he figured he would be the one now with a wave of emotion carrying over his face, while people looked at him.
"Hey, Tony." the voice that came back at him was the same as it ever was, warm and welcoming, and it made tension and anxiety radiate through Tony's core.
"You've met?" Natasha's voice was carrying from somewhere near by, but Tony only had tunnel vision, his ears were ringing and as much as he wanted to pretend like this was all a bad dream all he could do was stare straight at head into the face of the only man to have ever broken his heart.
"I have to go." Tony swallowed back the bile that was rising in his throat, forcing himself to turn away, blinking himself back into reality. He needed to look away from Steve so he turned directly into Natasha, completely forgetting that she was at his side. "I have to go." He repeated, this time directly to her.
"What?" Natasha's eyebrows knotted as she looked from Tony to Steve and back again "Tony what's going on?"
"I have to go back to the hotel room." Tony quickly blurted. "I forgot something, I just, I have to.." He stumbled out his lame excuse, taking a step back, with every word, one step closer to escaping. "I will be back, okay, right I'll be.." he waved his hand and before he could even finish he was turned on his heel and was hightailing it out of there, through the people and right out the doors of the restaurant.
Chapter 2: If we were meant to be, then we would be.
Tony and Steve have a conversation after their impromptu reunion.
When he got to the lobby, he decided he need to be as far away from this place, as far away from Steve, as possible. Tony turned towards the main doors, and was pushed forward, out into the cool evening air. The sun was just starting to set, and the street lamps had flickered on, and Tony wondered how long it would take him to walk to the airport.
He found himself wondering just how angry Pepper would be if he flew off somewhere, anywhere that was far. He concluded that she would be less mad if he brought her back something nice from Greece, or Japan or wherever else was the furthest point from where he was right now. Maybe.
But the wrath would be worth it, if it took him away from -
"Tony." Steve had followed him.
But he didn't want to stop, he had replayed this scenario over in his head for months after Steve left. He had practiced what he would say and it always changed, but he had always promised himself that he would never stop and turn around. He wouldn't give Steve that satisfaction. But his name came out again in that familiar voice and this time it was louder, and closer, and Tony's legs failed to remember the deal, and stopped.
"Tony, wait please-" Steve's voice was breathless as it caught up to him.
"I told myself I wasn't going to stop." Tony said, mostly to himself, turning slowly on his heel, trying to pull back his shoulders, puff out his chest, do anything but look as hurt as he felt. "But here I am."
"Here you are." Steve echoed, as he came to a stop a few feet away. "You look-"
"Don't." Tony cut him off, knowing he did not want that to be the first thing Steve said to him after ten years. Ten years of never fully healing, never again feeling complete. "Did you know I was coming?"
Steve's eyes widened, and then he looked away, and Tony remembered that look, Steve didn't want to answer the question. Because Tony already knew the answer.
"Did Natasha know?" Tony found himself asking, not really sure if he wanted to know the answer to the question. "Did they all know?"
"No." Steve shook his head. "She doesn't know anything, none of them do."
"Wow." Tony's eyebrows raised into his hairline, because, no of course Steve wouldn't have told anyone about him, why would he He was just a mistake Steve made- Tony found himself letting out a very short laugh." Wow, well fuck. I need some air."
"Tony, you're outside." Steve said his name again, and it really only made the entire situation so much worse.
"You need to go away." Tony spat back.
"That's not fair." Steve spoke again, before Tony could turn away, and God Damn Steve for having this kind of effect over him. Tony wanted to yell, and scream, and he was starting to feel like maybe he also wanted to cry, even though he could have sworn he was dried up after all these years. After all the months he spent sobbing over the pain and the hurt. He thought he was over it, until there Steve Rogers was standing in front of him, and then it was all coming back to him like punches to the gut, splitting open an old wound.
"Not fair?" Tony found his voice raising as he took a long stride forward, raising his finger to point at Steve, his anger bubbling up. "No, You do not get to do this to me, what's not fair is You, and what you did to me. What's not fair is how you took my entire heart and shredded it to pieces for a night of fucking fun with some girl. Not fair is leaving me heartbroken and alone after my parents died, No What's not fair is-"
Another stride, and he was barely a foot away from Steve, and his stupid beautiful face, and his hands were shaking and he just could not go through this again. He did not have the energy to do this. "I am not going to do this with you." Tony's voice dropped along with his finger. "Not here, and not now."
"We need to talk." Steve's voice came out calm and steady. "Please, I just wanted to see you, I didn't believe it when Buck said you were coming I-"
"Bucky is the groom." Tony took another breath, slowly piecing together the connection. "James is marrying Natasha." he sighed, how did he not know this - how did he not see this - why didn't he ask for names, for pictures for anything to prevent this. To prevent him from having to face Steve.
"I don't want to talk to you-" hearing his own voice crack in the pain he was feeling, his brain spinning with all the what if's and all the what now's. "You really should get back in there." Tony stated, taking a step backwards. "Please, please just leave me alone."
"Tony." Steve tried. "Please."
This time, Tony's legs obeyed, and carried him away, tucking his hands into his pockets he put his head down and pushed on even after one last attempt from Steve to call his name.
Tony didn't know how long he was gone for, but he knew he didn't get very far. The road didn't carry on for long before he was met by wilderness. Which just made him curse Vermont because seriously who decides to build a city road that dead ends into a dirt walking path. Though it was kind of a blessing in disguise, because Tony spent most of the walk back cursing the idiots that planned the town. He wasn't reminded of why he left in the first place until the hotel came back into view.
He debated not going in at all, but then he remembered why he was here in the first place, Natasha. This weekend was not about him, and as much as he wanted to act like a petulant child, he knew he also didn't want to ruin his friends wedding. Vermont is a large place echoed Pepper's words in his head.
She would be getting quite the phone call later tonight.
Tony swallowed back his anger, and held his head high as he walked through the front doors of the hotel. All hope of blending back into the party unnoticed went completely out the window when he got inside the lobby.
"Oh thank God." Natasha sighed as soon as she laid eyes on him. "Where have you been, I have been looking for you everywhere."
"I'm Sorry." Tony managed sincerely, glancing at the people standing around her, Clint from earlier, and someone he had not yet met. "I really didn't mean to upset you, I just needed to get some air."
"I don't know what's going on but somebody better start explaining like now." Natasha blurted out next, only shooting a slight glare to the guy next to her. Tony felt it safe to assume that it was James. He never got a chance to meet Steve's best friend, just more proof that they were doomed to fail from the beginning. "What the hell is happening?"
"It's a long story." Tony found himself admitting. "Look I don't want to ruin the rest of the night, It can wait until tomorrow."
"No." Natasha shook her head "No, you leave and then Steve run's after you, and then he comes back like some kicked puppy and now you're avoiding the issue no." She placed her hands on her hips, and for the first time that night, Tony noted how lovely she looked in her off white cocktail dress, and really felt like an ass for making this night about him. "I don't want this to be a weird thing all weekend, can someone please just explain to me what is going on."
"Steve and I have a history." Tony said with an easy shrug of his shoulders. "It ended very badly and I never thought I would have to see him again is all." and that much was true. "I just had a momentary shock to the system, I promise you it will not be a thing."
"So, you guys had a bad break up?" Clint asked, trying to fill in the blanks himself. "I Don't get what's so long about that."
"It was more than that." Tony said glancing to James, or Bucky, or however he was supposed to refer to him in this timeline of events, wondering how much Steve ever shared with his best friend. "Steve was my first love " he admitted painfully, watching as Bucky's eyes immediately dropped to the floor, confirming he at least knew that much. "and then he broke my heart."
Just saying it, made it too real all over again, and Tony could feel the sadness rise up into his chest, and to make matters worse, if almost on cue, Steve had come out of the stairwell. Tony wanted to roll his eyes at the dramatic timing of it all, it was becoming painfully clear he would not be able to avoid him. "Great timing, you really have a flare for these sorts of things huh?" The words came from Tony laced in a bit more poison than his usual jabs, but he figured he'd get a pass on this one.
"I ran away to California when my mom died." Steve apparently had caught more of the previous conversation then Tony had hoped, but it would at least save him from having to relive all of the fine details himself, since Natasha was not one to back down. "I was searching for an escape, and that's when I met him, we were both incredibly young, I was a complete mess, and he was chaotic and beautiful."
"And we hit it off like fire and gasoline." Tony quickly added with a roll of his eyes, because he was not going to let Steve recount a love story.
"Sometimes we would spend an entire night arguing about the most ridiculous things." Steve admitted. "But somehow it worked. A summer fling turned into something more" Steve was looking down at his hands. "We even managed to get engaged."
"Wow." Clint's commentary did not go unpunished, as it was quickly followed up with a yelp, likely by Natasha's doing, but Tony didn't see. Tony was too busy staring at Steve.
"I asked Tony to marry me and then I-" Steve was still staring at his hands, and Tony felt his stomach drop at knowing what came next. "And then I cheated on him."
"I found out, we broke up, yadda yadda-" Tony tried, he didn't want to be here for this he didn't want to live through these memories a second time.
Steve looked up now, a pained look on his face as he watched Tony try and brush the whole thing off, but Tony didn't care. He did not want to live through the sympathetic look that Natasha was now shooting him, or the sharp pain in his chest, just from remembering what Steve did to him ten years ago.
"Long story short, we had a nasty break up." Tony shrugged. "And in the middle of it my parents died, so I took it a bit more personally than any other person would have which you know- " Tony motioned to himself and then pointed a thumb over his shoulder "Lead me to running out the door the second I saw his face. Bad memories and all of that."
"Tony." Natasha's sighed. "I am so sorry, I didn't-"
"Know?" Tony shook his head, refusing to look at Steve again. "No from the sounds of it no one did, and why would you guys right, Who wants to point out that they had a failed whirlwind relationship with someone that's showing up to your wedding, am I right?"
"Tony-" Natasha started.
"I am exhausted. I am going to bed." Tony quickly moved forward, placing a quick kiss to Natasha's cheek. "Please go have fun, I promise to be here in the morning, I really just need to be on my own for a little."
This time she didn't try to stop him, and as Tony climbed the steps two at a time to the sixth floor he silently prayed that no one would be following him.
When he got inside his room, and made sure the door was closed and locked behind him, it took everything inside Tony not to start crying. Steve did not deserve his tears, not again. But the little lobby trip down memory lane was nearly enough to bring him back to that low feeling he had the day Steve left him.
Tony had begged him not to go, had promised Steve that they could make up, that he could forgive him. They argued for weeks, Tony pleading with Steve to give him one more chance, like he was the one that had fucked up, while Steve just gave up. The one person who Tony fully gave his heart to, who held it and crushed it stood in front of him today looking the same as the day he left and it killed.
Tony remembers wishing to die the day Steve finally packed his bags and left. Tony remembers begging the universe to end his life so he wouldn't have to go on. Tony blamed him self for everything, and found himself still doing it.
Didn't matter that ten years had passed, Tony felt twenty again. Foolish and naive, just a kid who couldn't distinguish love from lust. If he had, he wouldn't have fallen for someone like Steve Rogers.
Tony knew if he let himself fall back into self pity that he would never get out, so he did the only thing he could think of, pry open the mini bar, and call his life line.
"This better be an emergency." Pepper's voice was low, and laced in sleep, and Tony almost felt bad.
But then he opened his mouth. "So, Steve is the best man at this wedding."
"Are you fucking kidding me-" it sounded as if Pepper had shot out of her bed, and Tony wished he had been there to see it. "I hope you punched him right in his stupid teeth."
And that, was why he had called Pepper. He twisted the lid of the tiny vodka bottle off with his teeth, spitting it out on to the top of the dresser, "I wish, that would have been a far better evening." He commented, before dropping himself down on top of the hotel bed. "No, unfortunately, like a real man I ran away with my tail between my legs."
"Oh, Sweetie." Pepper sighed into the receiver. "What's happening? are you coming home?"
"No." The answer surprised Tony as soon as he said it out loud. "I promised Natasha I would stay. Can you believe she had no idea, no one did. He didn't tell any of his friends." tossing back the tiny bottle of vodka in two gulps before he continued. "I don't know what I'm going to do Pepper, I can't even look at him without feeling completely overwhelmed."
"I know." She said. And she did know. She had picked him up, literally and figuratively after the break up. She had seen firsthand the effect he had on Tony. "I think you're going to have to talk to him."
"Or." Tony suggested. "I could just pretend he doesn't exist, survive the next three days and come home some what mentally stable."
There was silence on the other end for a moment too long and Tony was afraid he had lost Pepper, until he heard her sigh. "You're not going to like this, but I really think you should talk to him. Maybe you'll finally get some closure."
"Who needs closure?" Tony asked, not really wanting the answer to that "Pepper if you think you and I didn't work out because I didn't have closure..."
"As if." Pepper droned. "You and I couldn't even agree on who's side of the bed was who's, you and I would have never worked closure or not. I just think maybe with all the time that has passed it's time you two had a conversation. What are you afraid of?"
"I'm afraid that I'm still in love with him." Tony admitted. "I don't want to find out Pepper, I don't want to go through that again. I don't think I'd survive that again."
"The heart wants what it wants Tony." Pepper yawned into the receiver. "and wouldn't never knowing be worse? You'll constantly have a what if hanging over your head?" She yawned again, and Tony knew he had to let her go. "Whatever you choose to do, remember I love you and will bail you out of Vermont jail should it end in punching."
"Go to bed Pepper, you have a company to run." Tony sighed into the phone. "Thanks for trying to help.'
Tony eyed the mini fridge, wondering if it was worth round two when there was a soft knock at his door. He didn't want to answer it, he didn't even want to check who was behind it, but the knocking came again, and with the heat of the vodka still warming his chest, he figured the week couldn't get any worse.
"What do you want?" Tony asked as he pulled the door open, of course it was Steve, and he had no time for small talk.
Steve stepped back as the door swung open, as if surprised Tony opened it at all. "I wanted to talk."
"You know a few hundred years ago these things called telephones were invented, they're rather nifty inventions." Tony rolled his eyes, before leaning his body up against the door frame, proving a point that he was not going to allow Steve in. "If you use one, you can speak to people at any time of the day, without having to see their faces"
Steve's eyebrows raised at Tony's brashness, but he soldiered on. "I miss you."
That drew a cold laugh from Tony, because it almost sounded believable. "Do you know how long I wished you'd say that to me? How many times I wished for you would call me up out of the blue and tell me how much you missed me?" Shaking his head Tony could feel himself getting angry again. "It's really funny how you can wish for something so long and when it finally happens you literally feel nothing."
Steve shifted on his feet, as if he didn't expect to get that kind of reaction. "I'm sorry Tony." The words themselves were long over due. "I am sorry for what I did, I wish I could go back and fix them, I wish I could take all the pain I caused you back."
Tony's shoulders dipped, and a sigh fell past his lips. "Why didn't you call?" he found himself blurting. "I kept the same phone number for five years, just in case you called. You didn't even try."
"I didn't think you'd want to hear from me." Steve admitted lamely. "I was young and stupid, and I ran away because I was scared. I don't expect you to forgive me Tony but I need you to know how sorry I am."
Pepper's words rang clear in Tony's head, closure. Maybe that was all he needed. Slowly, he rubbed at his forehead and tried to debate the pros and cons of just letting it go before he shrugged. "Okay." he answered, dropping his arm to his side. It was all he could offer, and he hoped that Steve could just accept it
"If I could go back.." Steve Started.
"Yeah but you can't." Tony cut in. "Trust me, time travel is a beast of an egg, not likely to be cracked any time soon, don't even get me started." he sighed again "If we were going to be together, then we'd already be together, and we're not so I think we have to just let it go, let the past stay where it belongs, the past."
Steve was frowning, but he gave a small nod. "I am so sorry."
"I know." Tony replied, a sad smile playing on his lips. "I don't want to spend this weekend arguing with you though. Natasha doesn't deserve that. So I think it's best if we just admit we're better off apart."
"Do you believe that?" Steve asked quietly, dropping his head.
"I have to, if it took us ten years just to speak to each other it has to be true. " Tony confessed. He really was too tired for this, too emotionally wasted to have any more of this day. "Is there anything else, or can I go back to drinking this day away now?"
Steve hesitated, before he reached into his pocket and pulled out a square envelope that had turned yellow from age, and handed it to Tony. "These belong to you, and I think you should have them back."
Tony's brow knotted together as he took the envelope and pulled out one of the many scraps of paper that were folded up inside of it. It was a sketch, a mini blueprint that Tony had drawn. When he and Steve were together, innovation would strike him at the weirdest times, in the middle of dinner, right after sex, sometimes in the middle of a movie, he would demand a pen and some sort of scrap paper and he would sketch, or write out numbers and figures.
"You held on to these?" Tony found himself glancing up at Steve, who had moved even closer to him in the time it took to look at the sketch.
"Of course I did." Steve said with a small smile. "Among other things, but these always seemed important, you used to tell me they would change the world."
Tony's lips quirked into the smallest of smiles. "I did say that didn't I? I was already so full of myself at nineteen huh?"
"I thought it was pretty endearing actually." Steve had leaned closer, as if to get a look at the sketch Tony held in his hand. It was the closest he had been to Steve in ten years. He could smell the blondes after shave, and make out every new line around his mouth as he spoke. "I remember watching you get these sparks of genius and wondering how it was possible."
Tony wanted to look Steve in the eye, but his glance fell directly to Steve's lips. If he just moved an inch he could catch them with his own. "How what was possible?" he asked instead, a weak attempt to keep himself distracted.
Steve's tongue darted out over his bottom lip, making Tony's stomach drop before he replied. "How someone so smart could fall for someone like me."
"You should go." Tony's voice was barely a whisper, though he still didn't move.
"Do you want me to go?" Steve whispered back, blue eyes burning into Tony's brown ones.
"No." Tony's breath was shaky as he exhaled, slowly. "But I need you to."
When Steve didn't move, Tony forced himself to step back into his room, hand grasping onto the door, with the other wrapped tightly around the envelope Steve had given him. "Will I see you tomorrow?" he found himself asking.
Steve, a soft sad smile on his lips nodded, taking a step back as well. "Only if you want to."
"Goodnight Steve." Tony couldn't wait for a reply, if he did he might lose all of his nerve, so instead he shut the door, finalizing their conversation with the lock of the deadbolt, and the promise of tomorrow.
Tony had decided first thing when he got out of bed in the morning that he was not going to let the previous nights events get the best of him. It was a few days, he could manage to put on a happy face, and if he got through it in one piece he could go home to New York and pretend like it all never happened. Besides there was a lot planned for the day, and Tony needed to be there, he had promised Natasha.
Also after the doorway reconnect he found himself wanting to see Steve again, even if it really was just to see him. Their history was one thing, but Steve had aged like a fine wine, and Tony was after all still only human.
Tony made his way to the hotel restaurant, seating himself at a table by a window, and immediately ordering coffee before pulling out his phone. He flicked through the few updates that Bruce had sent over the night, and one from Pepper who's subject line read 'Not important ignore until you're back'. He barely even noticed when Natasha pulled the chair out from the other side of the table and dropped herself down.
"Shouldn't you be sleeping in, or eating breakfast in bed?" Tony asked, though he kept focused on his phone, disregarding Pepper's subject line entirely.
"I didn't sleep very well last night." Natasha said with a sigh. "How are you holding up?"
Tony looked up this time, raising an eyebrow at her while reaching for his coffee. "I'm fine Natasha, really." He even managed to flash a smile before taking a sip from the mug. "Please do not tell me that I was the cause of your lack of sleep."
"What if I told you that you were one half of the reason?" Natasha drummed her fingers on the table top, inspecting Tony like she usually did when trying to decide whether or not he was telling the truth.
Tony gently placed down his coffee, holding her gaze as he did. If Steve had spent the evening recounting their two year disaster of a relationship then he could excuse her newfound concern for him. So he had to know. "How much more did he tell you then?"
Natasha's lips fell into a small frown, and that really felt like answer enough, but it wouldn't stop her from using her words. "He told us everything, and if it helps he really came off as an asshole in his version of events so I can only imagine how you're feeling."
At that Tony chuckled, raising the mug to his mouth again. Putting a positive spin on any failed relationship was nearly impossible, but he had at least expected Steve's friends to sympathize. "He was an asshole." Tony confirmed over the rim of his cup. "Might still be, I don't really know him anymore."
"Look, Tony." Natasha straightened in her chair. "I understand if you'd prefer to sit out of the party tonight, I -"
"What?" Tony cut her off. "This is the first bachelorette, slash bachelor party I have ever been invited to, I'm not skipping out just because an Ex boyfriend is lurking around." Tony found himself rolling his eyes. "If I avoided everywhere I had an ex, I would never leave the penthouse."
"Are you sure?" Natasha asked, though she let out a chuckle, because she knew he was right. "It's at his farmhouse, his territory, and then we have to be back for the ceremony, that's not going to be too much?”
"What's the point in avoiding it, everyone knows we have unfinished business." Tony shrugged "Besides I know I would regret it if I didn't go, call me selfish, but I like to see how much better I am doing in life."
At that Natasha laughed, shaking her head. "You're ridiculous, but I love you."
"Most people do." Tony grinned. "I will be a little late to the party though, the present I ordered you is delayed and I have them bringing it to the hotel."
"I told you no presents." Natasha groaned, pushing herself away from the table. "I guess I should know better, when do you ever listen?"
"About time you learn." Tony replied turning his attention back to his phone, a new email from Pepper coming through with the subject line 'I was serious Tony get off your damn phone.' Obviously he clicked on it.
Chapter 3: We can be adults about this, can't we?
Tony decides not to let this ruin the weekend, they could be adults about this. And then he has a bit too much to drink.
Turns out Steve's farm house was at the end of one of those dead end roads that Tony decided he hated so much, because of course it would be. Once the pavement ended and turned to gravel, the cab he took from the hotel still carried on another ten minutes before it came upon the drive way. Also gravel - what was it with country people and their gravel Tony thought to himself.
The house itself was beautiful, even Tony had to admit that. The white farmhouse was situated in green space surrounded by trees, with a bright red barn tucked off to the side of the property. It honestly looked something out one of the Country Living magazines that Pepper used to leave lying around the penthouse. It was definitely romantic, and Tony could now understand why Natasha wanted to get married here.
After paying the cab, and watching it literally leave him in the dust, Tony turned back to the farmhouse. This was the moment of truth for him, he was headed into the lions den with the best intentions. Still, he couldn't help what Pepper had said to him. The Heart whats what it wants - It was something Tony could spend a life time studying. How could the heart want something that had caused it so much pain, but if the late night reunion had proved nothing else, it was that Tony still missed him.
A broken heart was not a smart heart he decided, as he started up the garden path to the front door.
When he knocked, he had not expected to Clint to be the one to greet him, but there the shorter blonde stood, with a pout on his lips. "You're not a stripper."
"No, I am not." Tony replied, curious as to what kind of party would have a stripper arrive by four. "Clint, Right?" He asked, trying to make conversation.
"Yeah, you remembered?" he seemed genuinely shocked, as he stepped out of the way and waved Tony inside.
"Being good with names if the first thing they beat into you in boarding school." Tony revealed, stepping around Clint and into the house. When the man didn't laugh, he quickly followed it up with. "I'm joking, it was my father who did the beating, not the school."
This time Clint did laugh. "You're funny Tony Stark."
"Tony." He requested, toeing off his shoes before making his way any further into the home. "Sorry I wasn't the stripper."
"I can learn to forgive you." Clint sighed. "C'mon, everyone's in the kitchen."
Tony followed the man to the kitchen, unable to help himself as he took in his surroundings. The entire house was simply decorated, clean, but almost devoid of all personal touches. Nothing like how he had pictured Steve living, especially not after living with him. But people change, he thought, God knows he had.
"It wasn't a stripper." Clint hollered above the conversation around them as he entered the kitchen, throwing a thumb over his shoulder, as Tony entered the kitchen behind him. "It was just Tony."
The group if people in the kitchen was small, it appeared to be just the bridal party, which he had met last night, he remembered Natasha telling him that she was not very close to her family, she had no siblings and all her cousins were much older than her growing up. She had said that James didn't have a close relationship with his family and his mother had passed a year or so back.
"Tony!" Natasha exclaimed, as soon as she laid eyes on him, a smile pulling over her face. She was wearing a headband with a veil attached to it, and had a glass of wine in her hand already, James standing beside her had a sash on that read Groom in bright pink sparkle letters, and just the sight of the two of them made Tony smile back.
"I need a picture of this." Tony replied. "For Pepper's sake." he justified, ignoring how Natasha rolled her eyes at him.
"Later." She commanded. "First let me actually introduce you to everyone."
"No wait!" Clint interrupted. "I bet you can't name everyone without any help."
Natasha glared at him, but Tony just laughed. "It's fine, I bet I can do it."
"Want to make this interesting?" Clint asked "Say ten bucks?"
"Sure, Clint." Tony agreed, glancing at the first person on the far right. "That's Sam, groomsmen." He pointed to the built man against the refrigerator, before moving to the blonde next to him. "That's Sharon, Bridesmaid, beautiful smile-" he added, just to watch her blush and Clint gape.
Then Tony pointed to the red head and joyously said "I believe that one is Natasha which means you," he stepped towards the guy next to her holding a hand out. "Are James, and it's nice to officially meet you."
Bucky took his hand and gave a polite nod, before looking over Tony's shoulder. "Looks like Clint owes you ten bucks."
"Double or nothing." Clint blurted. "Too easy."
"It's fine I can take your money later." Tony quipped back easy.
Natasha laughed, turning to her friends. "I told you he would fit right in, did I not?"
"She did say that." Sharon said, towards Tony with a smirk. "Can we get you a drink?"
"Please." Tony said with a friendly smile, though while Sharon turned to grab him a beer, he couldn't help but scan the room and notice someone conveniently missing. Not to be rude, he found himself asking Sharon how long she had known Natasha for as she handed him a cold bottle.
Because Natasha was a safe topic, and because it gave him a distraction. Sharon was fine, but she was no Steve.
Though twenty minutes into tales of being a coffee shop barista and the Broadway struggle, he was wishing he had started a conversation with Sam.
Thankfully he had managed to finish his first beer and Clint arrived at his side with a second, like some magical little drink fairy, distracting Sharon enough for Tony to step away from that half of the kitchen, and he almost felt like maybe Clint knew he needed saving and would end the night owing him more than twenty bucks. But that would be a discussion for later.
"Sorry." Steve's voice filled the room as he stepped through a set of french doors. "I couldn't get the lights to work, but we're all good now if we want to move outside?"
"Oh yes." Natasha said, gently nudging Jame's hip with her own and motioning for him to grab the bottle of wine behind him, before she headed towards the doors herself. He obliged and followed her out towards the deck.
Sharon, Sam and Clint followed suit, while Steve moved further into the kitchen instead, Tony chanced a glance in his direction as he followed the rest of them, and Steve smiled soft and sweetly back at him. Tony had to turn his attention immediately forward before he slammed into a door frame.
The entire deck was decorated in soft white string lights. The summer sun was still up, but once it set Tony could tell it would be beautiful There was a large table, completely set for seven, with a few covered bowls in the center. Everyone had managed to steal a seat, though Natasha had saved him one next to her, at the end of the table.
Once he sat down, Sam said something about the pasta - which was what was in the bowls in the middle of the table, just as Steve appeared again with a cutting board of fresh garlic bread, and a drink for himself.
"Did you know tomato sauce counts as a serving of vegetables, and pasta is just wheat" Clint said just as Steve took his seat, of course across the table from Tony. "So spaghetti technically is healthy."
"Tomato sauce is not the same as tomatoes." Steve said, placing a slice of bread on his plate, before passing the cutting board to Bucky, and reaching for the pasta.
"And it's white flour which is not healthy." Bucky said with a roll of his eyes, passing the bread to Natasha.
"Wouldn't it depend on the type of tomato sauce?" Natasha asked, taking a slice before passing the board to Tony. "Like they make vegetable pasta sauces."
"Don't they make pasta out of cauliflower these days?" Tony added, his first attempt to joining a group conversation, honestly he couldn't even remember the last time he had anything that even resembled a family dinner, let alone had a conversation during one. "Wouldn't that make it healthy?"
"Only rich people eat that." Clint shot back, digging into a bowl of pasta. "So of course you would think so."
"Excuse you." Tony retorted before handing off the bread to Sam, not missing the smirk it gained from Steve. "I will have you know I do not eat cauliflower anything."
"Well yeah that's because you're past rich." Clint reasoned, around a mouth full of food. "Like there’s snooty white rich people, those are the ones that eat cauliflower pasta, and then a few layers of rich up there's people like you." Clint shrugged like it was that obvious.
"What?" Tony asked, genuinely confused, but absolutely needing to see where this went. "You're going to need to explain what my layer of rich is, please."
Sam sung out a classic "oooooh." as Natasha tried her best to tell Clint to shut up under her breath.
Clint ignored it all and just shrugged again. "Like you are the layer of rich that donates cars to orphans or something." He moved his fork around in the air as he spoke. "So, what are orphans going to do with cars? No idea, but you had the money to do it, so you just did. That kind of rich."
Tony's eyebrows came together before he looked at Natasha, confused. "Is he trying to insult me or compliment me?"
This drew a hearty laugh from Sam beside him, and left Sharon hiding her face behind her hands, while Natasha rolled her eyes. "I swear I warned you he was annoying."
Clint opened his mouth, to do what Tony wasn't sure, but before he could Bucky quickly rose to his feet. "Drinks. We need another round of drinks, Clint come help me get the drinks."
Clint grumbled as he pushed himself away from the table and disappeared back into the house with Bucky.
"I'm sorry about him." Natasha said with a sigh
"It's fine, really." Tony meant it. "I'm a bit confused, but I'll survive." He smiled at his friend, it was actually quite refreshing to meet someone new who just said what they thought without trying to be careful with how they said it around him. "I actually don't mind him." He added for good measure.
"You say that now." Sam said with a huff, taking a bite off his fork. "But that's how he gets you, latches on."
"He's not that bad, Sam." Steve added with a chuckle, before breaking apart his garlic bread.
"Speak for yourself." Sam protested, only to get an elbow from Sharon beside him.
"You love him." Sharon said with a roll of her eyes. "Stop pretending you don't."
"I never said I didn't. I'm just saying once you let him in he get stuck." Sam leaned towards Tony "Like show up at your home at midnight to raid your fridge stuck, for life."
Tony nodded as earnestly as he could, trying to act like he was seriously considering his possible problem. "I think I can handle that, I have a very robust security team."
"Yeah, just ask Steve-" Natasha blurted, before she quickly slapped a hand over her mouth. "Oh my god." She mumbled from behind her hand. "Too much wine."
Tony looked to Steve confused, how would he possibly know anything about his security team. Steve glanced to Natasha and then sighed.
"Thanks, for that." He huffed before leveling with Tony across the table. "It was once, right after we.. I tried to see you, and was promptly removed by security on the order of someone named Potts." Again he looked to Natasha, who just mouthed sorry back at him.
Good intentions, Tony thought to himself, though made a note to circle back around to this. "Hey." Tony said clearing his throat. "Where are those two with our drinks."
"They're coming." Bucky called back, stepping out of the door, arm full of bottles, which thankfully Steve helped disperse to the table. "You all need to work on your patience." he grumbled to himself, just as Clint came out holding a few gently wrapped presents in his arms.
"What are those?" Natasha inquired, eyeing the gifts.
"I had to get you something as your man of honor." Clint said, handing off the boxes to Bucky.
"And if he was getting you something, so was I." Bucky said with a grin, setting the boxes down at the table. "Open mine first."
Tony gratefully drank his new drink, as Natasha carefully picked up the smaller of the two boxes and gently shook it. "This better not be another frying pan."
"Another?" Tony asked while the rest laughed.
"Oh he is the worst at giving presents." Natasha explained, as she carefully pulled back the paper of the gift. "Sometimes he knocks it out of the park, but more often than not it's something I won't use, or something he wanted."
"Or it's offensive." Sharon added. "Remember when he got you that thigh master?"
"Please do not remind me." Natasha said as she flipped the box over in her hands.
"This time it's good." Bucky groaned, "Stop making fun of me and open it." he sighed, just as Natasha lifted the top of the box reveling a silver framed photo of the two of them.
"Did you really buy her a thigh master?" Tony found himself asking, that third beer giving him a kick of liquid courage.
"The lady in the sales room said it was the top gift of the year." Bucky defended.
"See?" Natasha said with a laugh. "He's the worst, but-" She smiled down at the picture frame. "This time he did so, so good."
"Must run in the family." Tony said with a laugh, immediately noticing the look he was getting from across the table. "Oh come on, don't look at me like that."
"Whats that supposed to mean?" Steve asked with a quirk of his eyebrow.
"Please, you weren't really the best at picking out gifts either." Tony explained with a smirk. "Don't make me do this."
"Please do." Steve said, a smile spreading across his face.
"You're really going to make me tell all your friends about that blue popcorn maker?" Tony asked, though he didn't wait for Steve to reply because he turned to Natasha and continued. "He got me this bright blue air popper. I don't even like popcorn."
When he glanced back at Steve, he caught the memory flash across his face, and a touch of pink begin to form above the collar of his shirt. "Okay, But.." Steve started to defend.
"-One year." Natasha cut in. "James got me this gold chain, like this very short, very thick bright yellow gold chain, it looked like something a drug dealer would wear."
"Hey!" Bucky protested.
"For my birthday Steve got me an Iron." Tony found himself looking directly at Steve, who was turning bright red, almost cringing at the memory. "I was nineteen living in band t-shirts never ironed a thing a day in my life. I'm not sure what he expected me to do with an iron."
Sam was laughing, and Sharon had snorted at the idea, even Clint was chuckling, but Steve was just looking so, embarrassed and sorry. "It wasn't all bad." Tony found himself adding, getting Steve to look up at him from across the table. "Sometimes he also hit it out of the park, something else that must run in the family."
"If you two are just going to attack us all night, we can leave." Bucky said, with all the seriousness he could muster, though everyone knew he was teasing.
"We need more drinks." Natasha stated, clearly a bottle of wine already in.
"Oh then definitely open mine next." Tony said, reaching down and pulling up the gift he had brought. "It's technically for both of you, but not really."
Natasha didn't hesitate, grabbing the bag and opening it. "Is this Beluga Vodka?" she asked, pulling the clear bottle up. "You can only buy this in Russia Tony. How did you?"
"Tony's good at buying gifts." Steve answered for her. "Something to do with his layer of rich level I think." his blush had settled, but he still looked sheepish beneath Tony's glance.
"Fucking told you." Cling explained before getting up to grab the shot glasses.
Tony, to be fair, used to be quite the drinker. In fact, he and Steve used to get absolutely destroyed together. It only got worse after Steve, but something had changed the closer he got to thirty, or maybe it was Pepper. Either way, he drank less now, and as a result, could handle less. Once the Vodka had been opened, he knew he was in for it.
The party had shifted back inside at some point, as someone had recommended Karaoke, and Tony distinctly remembers saying that it would be a terrible idea, but Clint insisted and in they went. Sometime in that shift, Steve went missing, which was fine. Really, Tony wasn't bothered by that at all.
He lasted two songs, and then excused himself to get some water, because he really could not listen to Sharon singing one more Britney Spears song, and also because the vodka was really starting to settle in the bottom of his stomach. He filled the glass to the top with water and downed it, only to fill it up again.
He wasn't sure what possessed him to go back outside, but something did. Stepping out on to the lit up deck, Tony noticed a light was on in the barn, and as Natasha screamed the lyrics to a Queen song in the house behind him, he figured it would be okay to go on a little adventure. He was in Vermont after all, it's not like he'd get mugged. At least not on the short walk towards the barn. Unless Deer had suddenly learned to hold knives.
Tony laughed at the thought as he peered around the entrance to the barn. Steve huffed as he tossed a hay bail to the corner of the open space, not noticing Tony yet. So this is where he had disappeared to, Tony thought to himself as he stepped through the open doors. There were tables set up around the room, and chairs stacked in the corner, the same string lights from the patio lit the large structure, though there must have been hundreds lining the wood rafters. Tony twisted around as he tilted back to look up at them.
"Are you alright?" Steve's voice is soft and genuine but still managed to startle Tony, snapping his head back upright, clearly having been spotted.
"Yeah." Tony says with a nod, and he means it, he's drunk sure, but not too far gone, not yet. He had learned his limits a long time ago with Pepper.
"Sounds like Pepper has been really good for you." Steve says, his tone changes, and it's only then that Tony realizes he had said part of that out loud.
"Oh, yeah. She really is good for me." Tony finds himself smiling at the thought of Pepper. "I honestly don't know where I'd be without her."
Steve nods, and moves to grab another hay bail, carrying it across the barn, though he doesn't say anything.
"This is beautiful, Pepper would have loved it here, it's a shame she couldn't come." Tony comments, glancing back up at the string lights. "What are you doing?"
"Organizing for the rehearsal tomorrow." Steve says with a grunt as he piles the hay bail on another. "What are you doing out here?" And he sounds, short, but Tony doesn't want to read into it.
"I came to find you." Tony admits, remembering the cup in his hand and taking a drink, while taking a break to check Steve out.
He's sweating from working, his T-shirt is sticking to him, and he notices that Tony is staring, because he stops working, and takes a drink of whatever he has in a bottle beside the hay, all the while holding Tony's gaze. "Do you need something?" He says, as he swallows.
"You look really good tonight." Comes out of Tony's mouth as he watches Steve's throat bob, and his grip tightens around his glass of water.
"I don't think your girlfriend would appreciate that." Steve almost snaps, before grabbing the bottom of his shirt and wiping the sweat from his face. "What do you want from me, Tony?"
Tony gets a glimpse of his abs and he almost completely forgets what Steve just asked him. Almost. "Wait, what?" he asks back. His head is a little cloudy, but it's not that bad. "I don't have a girlfriend - Oh my God are you jealous of Pepper?"
Steve's eyes widen a fraction, before he's turning away from Tony and grabbing his beer again. "You're not dating Pepper." he says, though Tony can barely hear him he knows it's not a question.
"No." Tony says with a shake of his head. "No Pepper is my best friend, actually, I'd say you'd like her but you two appear to have a secret past of your own" he waits until Steve looks a him and then he adds. "Pepper's last name is Potts. Why didn't you tell me you came to see me?"
"Because I'm an idiot." Steve says as he cards a hand through his hair. "I don't even know what i was trying to accomplish when I came that day, I had no plan." he sighs, once again using his shirt to wipe away the sweat on his face.
"You need to stop doing that." Tony blurts, eyes instantly falling down to the bare skin being flashed in his direction. "Are Vermont summers always this hot? Have I told you how good you look tonight?" he babbles, he knows it, but he can't help it. Processing a lot while drunk is not a skill he is any good at.
This time Steve chuckles, lowering his shirt back down. "So do you, but you always look really good."
"Still a flatterer." Tony mused, finishing off his glass of water before setting it down on top of one of he hay bails, knowing he still had some of that liquid courage surging through his tipsy veins. "Why didn't you kiss me?"
"When?" Steve asks furrowing his brow.
"Last night at the hotel." Tony clarifies, taking a few confident steps towards Steve, at least he hopes they're confident. "I wanted you to kiss me, but you didn't."
"I wanted to kiss you." Steve admits. "But you asked me to go, and I don't know where I stand with you anymore."
"I'm an idiot." Tony shrugs, closing the space between them in a few more confident, wobbly, strides. "I still say stupid things when I shouldn't." Tony smirks, because it reminds him how many arguments they used to get into because of the stupid things that came out of his mouth. "Do you want to kiss me now?"
"You're drunk." Steve says instead, but he's smiling, reaching out and gently pushing some of Tony's hair out of his face, it's the first touch in ten years, and it takes everything in Tony's drunk body not to completely crumble into it. "Do you want to go lay down?" Steve asks.
Tony think's he should be upset, but his legs feel a bit like Jell-o, and hes sure he's about to stumble or fall asleep, so instead he nods, and lets Steve take his hand and lead him back into the house. He expects to be lead to the couch, but he can still hear people singing, and Steve is taking him up the back stairwell. So Tony goes with it. It's a guest room of some sort, he guesses, but he's tired now so it doesn't really matter, the bed is warm and comfortable, and that's good enough for him.
Chapter 4: For a smart guy, You're pretty dumb
A trip down memory lane proves to be a bit too much to handle in one weekend, and Tony has a hard time saying no to what his body wants.
This was by far my favorite, the trip down memory lane is where my heart remains.
When Tony wakes up he can feel the heat of the sun on one cheek, and the soft feel of fabric against his other. He doesn't quite know where he is, except that he's in a bed of some sort. Prying open one eye, he's met with a room lit by the sun, and just beyond the edge of the bed he sees a face that he knows.
"How are you not dead right now?" Tony groans, twisting in the sheets, and being reminded how uncomfortable sleeping in jeans is.
"I didn't drink." Steve's voice answers quietly, he's sitting in a chair by the window, hunched over a sketchbook, and Tony can't help but wonder if he's been transported ten years into the past, but in an alternate time line. Steve must notice the weird look he's getting because he smirks and adds. "I was drinking non-alcoholic beer last night, I don't drink anymore."
"Do you do anything fun anymore?" Tony asks, shifting the pillow under his head to get a better look at Steve, but not yet feeling brave enough to actually sit up.
"No." Steve replies with a chuckle.
"When did you notice your fun leave?" Tony mumbles, allowing his eyes to fall shut again. "Was it roughly ten years ago? Because I think it might have been."
"It might have." Steve agrees. "Nice to see you're still as cocky as the day I met you."
"Hmm, yes, some things never change." Tony says, prying open his eyes once again. "I need a-"
"Water and Advil are on the bed side table." Steve finishes for him, not bothering to look up from his sketchbook.
And now Tony really did think he was living in the twilight zone - or maybe was dreaming. Carefully he lifted himself into a seated position, blinking back the headache that immediately hit him, before grabbing the water and the Advil. "Now all I need is-"
"No where around here makes Californian Burritos like we like them." Steve once again finishes, this time looking up from his book and offering a sympathetic frown.
"Now I know why you quit drinking." Tony replies, because lack of hangover burritos would definitely make him stop drinking. "Are you drawing me?"
"Might be." Steve shrugs, focusing back down at the book in his lap the pencil moving carefully over the page.
Tony can't help but relish in the overwhelming Deja Vu sensation, carefully lowering himself back down into the bed, not wanting to lose it, not just yet. For a small moment in time he could hold on to something that almost felt normal, something he missed. So instead Tony takes the time to look at Steve, and admire the way the sunlight comes through the window and hits him. "If I see whatever that is you're drawing end up in any gossip magazines you'll be hearing from my lawyers."
"I don't doubt that." Steve replies dryly, scrunching his nose and criticizing his own work, like he always used to do.
"Did you sleep in that chair all night?" Tony asks, after a beat of silence scares him into losing this, whatever this is.
"I did." Steve looks back up from the book, and tilts his head, just like he used to do when admiring him, and Tony can't help but feel anything but vulnerable underneath that gaze. "You're still so gorgeous in the mornings."
"You're still a sap in the mornings." Tony shoots back, and then Steve is smiling wide at him, and Tony can't help but mimic it.
Tony knows when the fog around his head clears that he is going to over think everything that just happened, that he will go over every word spoke and dissect every sentence. He knows it, because that's what his head does, but just for now, he just wanted to indulge the side of him that missed this, the side that wanted it all back. So he lays back, and closes his eyes, and tries to imagine a life in which the ten years never happened.
A quiet falls over the room and for a few minutes all Tony can hear is the sound of pencil against paper, and his breathing. But then there's floorboards creaking and whispering. And Tony prays he's dreaming. But then there's a familiar hushing sound from behind the bedroom door and Tony sighs.
Steve obviously noticed it all as well because Tony can hear him sigh along. "You guys can come in." Steve's voice is louder than it was five minutes ago, and Tony flinches at the way it makes his headache sad, but he'll learn to survive.
Tony turns his head towards the door just as it creeps open, Natasha's head peeking through first. Her green eyes travel from the bed to Steve in the chair and then she's stepping through the door. "Told you." She says to Bucky, who follows her into the room.
"Alright fine." Bucky says with a shrug, and Tony would rather not know.
Instead Tony forces himself to sit up again, leaning against the headboard. "Can we help you?"
"I just wanted to make sure you were alright." She says carefully, stepping further into the room. "I lost track of you last night, and just wanted to see where you ended up."
Bucky however is less careful about his words, he trudges over to where Steve is seated and shrugs. "We came to see if you two had gotten it on or not."
"I'm not that easy, regardless of what the gossip sites say." Tony protests, reaching for the glass of water on the bedside table, choosing to ignore the way Steve looks anywhere but at him.
Steve shakes his head, but closes his sketchbook before Bucky can perch himself on the arm of the chair he's sitting on. "Can we help you?" Steve echos Tony's earlier sentiment.
"I haven't ever been in your room before" Natasha says, fingers dragging over the spine of books lining a book shelf against the back wall, before stopping on a particularly old looking book. "How could I have not been in here before?"
"Might be because you're nosy." Steve says, watching her carefully.
If there's one thing Tony has learned about Natasha, it's that she does what she pleases, and people just deal with it. So when she pulls a old black and gold photo album from Steve's bookshelf, she ignores his plea to put it back, and no one else really tries to stop her.
"Steve if we're going to be family you're going to have to trust me." is all Natasha says, before she's crawling into Steve's bed beside Tony and laying the photo album in her lap.
"Not that one." Steve says, getting to his feet. "Please." this time his plea sounds a bit more desperate, but Natasha has already flipped open to the first page.
Tony can't help but look, wanting to know what's so important about this book in particular and the first photo he's see's is a small strip of black and white photos. They had come straight out of a carnival photo booth. Four squares attached together, the quality very poor, grainy pixels on faded paper, but still Tony can make out his own face, much younger looking back at him, with a very serious Steve beside him. The next photo down was the both of them in mid laugh, Tony's head thrown back, Steve with his hands over his face. The Third slide, just blurry movement, and the last one the two of them heads pressed together, big smiles on their faces.
Tony immediately feels his stomach drop as he remembered that day. It was their second date, if you could call what they did dating. They really just gravitated together, and stuck. But Tony remembers being on the Santa Monica pier and riding the roller coaster five times in a row before demanding Steve get in the photo booth. Which he argued was a stupid idea, but still crawled right in after Tony.
Tony can't help it, as he reaches into Natasha's lap and flips the page, needing to see what else was in the album. The next photos were in color, Tony with big sunglasses over his face, thick brown curls falling into his face as he beamed at the camera, his fingers up in a peace sign. Tony knows the pose well, it's carried with him over the past few years, but this one looks genuine. The other side of the page was a poorly angled selfie, of Tony and Steve. The bottom half of their faces was cut off, but Tony knew they were smiling, he remembered being on that beach from dawn until dusk. Steve's eyes were half closed and Tony was looking up over the top of his glasses at Steve, completely in love.
"You were so young." Natasha laments, flipping to the next page, Bucky's curiosity had got the best of him, and he had moved to look over her shoulder.
Tony doesn't even try and stop the smile that finds his face once his eyes land on the next picture. They were on a pier, and Steve had his arms wrapped around Tony, his head resting on top of Tony's, who's face was all scrunched up in laughter. He remembered having to ask five different people before someone stopped and took it for them. The guy who finally stopped had asked which one was the girl in the relationship, and it caused Tony to break into a fit of laughter.
"I haven't seen you smile like that in years." Bucky said pointing at the next photo, it was of Steve, sitting alone at an old table, tattered boxes stacked up around him, he had his cheek resting on his palm, looking just past the camera, his head tilted in that way of admiration that Tony knew all too well. Steve's smile was soft, and blissful. "You look so happy."
"I was in love." Steve finally spoke with a soft shrug, eyes cast downward as he shifted in his seat, obviously uncomfortable with being forced down memory lane.
Tony had to swallow back his heart, which felt like it was in his throat as he looked at Steve, because Tony had seen that smile from the picture, just this morning, just like he used to smile when they were in love. And now it was gone.
"We had just moved in together." Tony said, clearing his throat, and the emotion from it. "Actually I think right after I took this we got into a huge argument about where to put all my boxes. I had endless boxes of just scrap metals and wires, I had just gotten cut off from the family funds and we were renting this awful shack like ten minutes from the beach, and I just filled it with all my crap."
Tony had no choice but to laugh at his own memory. "I think I actually told him to stop discriminating against my babies, like all these half dismantled circuit boards and mechanical parts were my children, and he called me a maniac, rightfully so."
The stress from Steve's face had lessened as Tony shared a look with him, and then Natasha was turning the page again. This time it was of Tony, shirtless with his middle fingers up, facing the camera with his tongue hanging out, because he truly was an asshole for quite a few years of his life. He was teetering over the edge of a dock, blue water behind him. His swim shorts were the brightest red and his hair was windswept, and Tony immediately remembered it as the first day Steve ever told him he loved him.
They had spent the entire day at the lake, drinking, smoking pot and eating junk food, and right after Tony did that back flip off the dock, Steve called him crazy and then said he loved him. Tony remembers laughing it off, because no one could love him. Later when they were kissing under the stars, Steve repeated himself and Tony knew it was real.
And just like that night, Tony could feel his eyes begin to water. He hoped no one would notice as he quickly brushed them away with the back of his hand.
"You two had a whole entire life together." Bucky said quietly, if he had noticed Tony's tears he wasn't saying anything.
Steve noticed, of course Steve noticed, Tony could feel his blue eyes burning into him. "It certainly felt like it." Steve said pushing out of his chair, and grabbing the photo album out of Natasha's lap. "Is Clint alive?"
Natasha sighed, the quick change of subject would almost be enough to give someone whiplash, but neither Natasha nor Bucky seemed to mind. "Clint is snoring on your couch where he passed out."
''I think Sharon and Sam hooked up in your guest room." Bucky added, with a wave of his hand. "I mean she's been trying for a month now, I hope he finally got the hint."
"Would you mind if I started breakfast?" Natasha asks, sliding off of the bed. "The smell of bacon might resuscitate Clint."
"It's worth a try." Steve said, tucking the album back onto his book shelf. "We'll be down in a minute." He waited for both of the intruders to leave the room before he looked at Tony again. Which Tony was thankful for, because it gave him a moment to compose himself and get rid of the water eyes. When Steve did look at him, his face was unreadable. "Did you need a change of clothes?"
Tony looked down at himself, he had left everything at the hotel under the pretense that he would be heading back. He hadn't exactly walked into Steve's house assuming he would be spending the night. Funny how things happen, but Tony's T-shirt and jeans were still clean, and so he shook his head at the offer. Finally unraveling himself from the blankets and sliding off the end of the bed. "I should be fine until I can get back to the hotel." He raised his arms above his head, allowing his back to stretch and crack, groaning as his shirt lifted from the movement, before settling back on to Steve.
Tony decided not to comment on the way Steve's eyes had darkened and his fingers twitched at his sides, and instead remind himself that he still had it, whatever it was, before pushing himself off of the bed and heading out of the room. "I could definitely go for some bacon though."
Down in the kitchen, Natasha had already started the frying pan, while Bucky had started whisking eggs. Somewhere after the second flip of bacon, Clint had risen from the dead and crawled his way into the kitchen. Though Tony was unsure if he was going to make it as he sat himself behind the kitchen island and laid his head against the cool marble counter top. Sam was awake, pouring glasses of orange juice, while Sharon was sitting next to Clint at the island scrolling through her phone. She had very obviously not gotten laid the night before, as she was wearing a particularly annoyed face anytime she caught a glimpse of Sam around the kitchen.
Tony found himself wondering what the disconnect was between the two of them, as they seemed to get on good together the evening before. Though it wasn't really any of his business, as he dropped himself into a seat next to Sharon, he reminded himself that these people weren't really part of his life. They were a blip on the radar over a few days. He may never see them again, so no matter how much they made him feel like one of the gang, he shouldn't get himself attached. At least, that's what he was trying to tell himself, but then Sam brought him over a glass of juice, and Bucky asked him how he liked his toast, and it just felt all too normal. And Tony really enjoyed it.
Natasha transferred cooked bacon on to a plate, trading off the cooking duties only once Steve had made it down to the kitchen.
"How are you functioning right now?" Clint groaned to Natasha, as she very loudly dropped the plate of bacon in front of him, the dish against marble clattering sound sent Clint's head retreating into his arms.
"Strong genes." Natasha shrugged, snatching a piece of bacon off the plate. "How have you not learned by now to stop trying to keep up with me when we drink? This is summer break in Budapest all over again."
"You and I remember Budapest very differently." Clint groaned again, keeping his head down he blindly reached out for the Bacon.
"What's everyone's plan for the day?" Steve asks as if the change of subject is direly needed, though he doesn't bother looking up from the next round of bacon.
"Sam and I have to go shopping." Sharon says, though she doesn't seem pleased. Sam doesn't seem to notice and just nods in agreement.
"We have to go to the airport and pick up Natasha's grandmother." Bucky says with a sigh, as the toaster popped up. "And then we have to meet her parents for lunch-"
"-And then we're meeting the officiant here at four to do a run through of the ceremony so I need you all there." Natasha says looking directly at Clint before adding. "On time, showered and dressed."
Clint waves her off with a half eaten strip of bacon, still not bothering to sit up at the island.
"The barn is basically ready to go for tomorrow." Steve says, transferring more bacon before jumping to the eggs that Bucky had nearly forgotten about while worrying about toast. "I have the arbor being delivered for three, so it will be ready to go for the rehearsal."
"Sounds like we're good to go then." Natasha says, stacking some plates on to the island, this time softer than the bacon plate, so that they group can start dishing up.
For the most part everyone eats in silence, eventually Clint even comes up for air to grab some more bacon and a slice of toast. Tony can't help but think how domestic it all is as he eats his breakfast, sandwiched at the kitchen island between Sharon and Natasha. There's a few quiet comments about the excitement for tomorrow, for the big day. Natasha mentions how the girls, including Clint, have to start getting ready at 9 am tomorrow, so they shouldn't be having any late nights.
Tony got the feeling that Bucky and Sam felt that they were not included in the warning with the way they exchanged glances and smirks.
"I have to go in to town in a bit." Steve says from where's he's standing, or leaning, against the kitchen sink with his breakfast plate in hand. "If you wanted a ride back to the hotel Tony? Saves you a cab."
"Sure." Tony says with a small nod, ignoring the way that Sharon is now looking at him. He knows she's curious, not yet partial to what Natasha and Bucky walked into this morning. "That would be good."
The rest of the meal hurried, people dropped their dishes into the sink before heading out the door. Bucky muttering how they're going to be late to the airport, and Sharon complaining that the shops had opened up an hour ago. Clint was not in any type of a rush to get anywhere, except for back on the sofa, where he stretched out and promptly fell right back to sleep.
Tony's headache was feeling much better now that the Advil had kicked in, though the well rounded breakfast may have also helped. So while Steve was sending his friends off for their various busy days, he took it upon himself to begin loading the dish washer.
"You don't have to do that." Steve said, announcing himself as he entered the kitchen again.
"I know I don't." Tony said, lining another plate into the rack before reaching for the cutlery in the sink. "I'd say it's because I wanted to do it, but we both know that would be a lie."
Steve laughed stepping around Tony to grab the frying pans, to add them to the dishwasher. "You just feel like it would be the right thing to do." Steve corrected.
"Exactly." Tony smirked, dropping the forks into the dish washer holder. "I'm super honorable these days."
"I noticed." Steve agreed, though he wasn't joking any more as he put the soap in the dishwasher and closed it. "I've heard what you've been doing with the company Tony, that's really amazing."
"Well you know, weapons haven't always been my forte." Tony joked as he turned on the taps to wash his hands, Steve did know. Steve had spent many nights up with him discussing the pros and cons of one day taking over Stark Industries, back then it was all cons. "Though I'm sure if Howard knew he'd be dying all over again."
Steve was offering up a hand towel as Tony switched off the taps. "Howard had no idea what his son was capable of on his own. You've taken his company and made it your own, all on your own when no one thought you could."
Taking the towel and drying his hands, Tony couldn't help but shrug, because truly he struggled to believe that. Not only from Steve, but from anyone. He had spent his entire life growing up expected to become his father, but better. Everyone held such high expectations for him, so at any sign of something different he was labeled as a failure. His father had tried everything to shape Tony Stark into his clone, everything except love and support.
But that was a complaint for his next therapist, Steve already knew full well what the wrath of Howard Stark looked like, Steve had been on the receiving end for years. He didn't need a reminder. So a shrug was the best reply he could give, before handing back the hand towel. "I feel like you always knew I could do something better."
"It was hard not to." Steve replied honestly as he took the towel back from Tony an tossed it onto his counter top. "Are you in a rush to get back to the hotel? There's something I want you to see."
"Lead the way." Tony said. Though when he said it, he hadn't expected to need to put on his shoes, and go traversing through the wild. Okay, that wasn't exactly fair, it wasn't really the wild, as it was though the property. They passed the barn, which looked even more lovely in the light of day without the fog of vodka in Tony's head. Although now that he saw it clearly, he couldn't help bust ask. "So what made you want to open up a place and watch a bunch of people get married in Vermont?"
"I didn't want to." Steve said with a chuckle, as the continued past the big red barn. "I found myself here to work one summer, it was supposed to be seasonal, but I got on well with the owner, her name was Darla." He glanced over his shoulder at Tony, making sure he was still being followed. "She was the sweetest old lady, her husband had passed the winter before and she just took to me, kept me around to help he fix up the house, and keep everything in order over the winter, then I started taking her to appointments and the grocery store. I didn't know until she passed that she had updated her will to leave it all to me."
"Oh." Is all Tony could say, he really had no idea what Steve had been up to in the past ten years. Tony's life updates were all over the front pages of news papers and magazines, not Steve's, but he wanted to know more. "So you decided to stay?"
"Well it didn't feel right to just up and leave right away, felt kind of selfish to sell it all off and take the money and run, so I stuck it out." Steve slowed his pace, allowing himself to fall in line with Tony instead of leading him. "I've been here seven years now, I've debated selling it, but I just don't know where I'd go next."
"I've heard New York is nice in the winter." Tony suggested, managing to keep his glance towards the tree line, and the small garage they were coming up to. It looked old, not updated like the rest of the property, the wood was chipping and the metal was rusting.
Steve let out a soft laugh as he gently bumped his shoulder into Tony's, but he didn't comment. Instead he focused on the old garage, pulling a key from his pocket as they came up to it. "I feel a little silly showing you this-" Steve spoke as he fiddled with the lock. "-But it was one of the few things I've always wanted and you're part of the reason I have it."
"I've been the reason for a lot of things throughout my life." Tony said eyeing the garage, like something out of a horror movie. "That's not a reason to murder me in your murder shed."
"You're so dramatic." Steve rolled his eyes, pulling open the door and stepping inside. "It's a workshop."
"Fine, a murder workshop." Tony mused, stepping in behind Steve. The insides had clearly been upgraded, clean cement floor with clean white walls. Racks and shelves lined one side, from what Tony could gather most of it was art supplies. On a side desk near a window there were a few half finished canvasses, and some rolled up poster paper. On the other side of the wall were tools, some that Tony recognized and some he could only assume were farm items, but right in the middle of the garage was a bike. "Is that a 1948 Harley WL?"
"An elderly man I met at Darla's funeral had it." Steve spoke, moving across the space towards the bike. "He said it was old and didn't even start anymore but I could take it off his hands if I wanted to."
"Does she run?" Tony found himself asking as he stepped towards the bike. Steve had pined over that bike while they were together, he would practically drool if he saw a picture of one, it had something to do with Steve's grandfather having one. It got sold when he died so his mother could afford the rent of the Brooklyn apartment they lived in, Steve said he would have rather lived on the street if it meant he could keep the bike. Tony remembers telling him to just buy one, the problem being they were nearly impossible to find, and when they did find one Steve would make excuses as to why it wasn't the right time. Like he was afraid to actually own what he had wanted so badly for so long. Tony had told him he would need to take a leap of faith or shut up about the damn thing.
"Nearly." Steve admitted with a sigh. "I've been working on it for a while, but my mechanical skill capabilities aren't much better from what they used to be." he circled the bike, a hand cautiously gripping the handlebars. "I've had to order a few specialty pieces, believe it or not parts from the forties aren't easy to come by, but once I have them in it will be good to go."
"You're rebuilding it?" Tony asked, as he stepped closer to admire the bike, it had been a fixture in Steve's life for as long as Tony had known him, and here it finally was. "Like by yourself? There was a time you could short circuit a toaster just by looking at it."
"I've had my struggles." Steve said with a roll of his eyes. "but still she will be road ready when I'm done with her."
"I can only imagine." Tony couldn't help but smirk at the idea, as he moved to stand beside Steve. "You'll have to let me know when it's done, You're going to look really hot riding this bike."
"I'll trust your judgment on that." Steve replied, matching the smirk. "Maybe I can take you for a ride sometime, I bet you look really good riding."
"I think you already know how good I look when I ride." Tony couldn't help the innuendo, noting the way it made Steve flush, even just the slightest bit. They were standing close again, and Tony found himself once again looking at Steve's lips. He tried to remember how they tasted, and then his eyes were flickering back up to the blue ones that looked back at him.
"I want you to kiss me." The words left Tony's mouth quickly, like if he didn't speak them, they would get lost. Steve had made it clear he was cautious with Tony, he needed explicit directions, and Tony was not too proud of himself to give them. "Please, kiss me." he added for good measure.
Thankfully, it appeared, that was all Steve needed to hear because he had quickly closed the space between them, and his hands had found their way to Tony's face, pulling him into a desperate kiss. Like he had been waiting for this moment and was ready to go. The kiss sent Tony stumbling back a few steps, before his own hands wrapped around Steve's forearms to stabilize himself.
Tony's stomach twisted and his blood immediately drained downward, and the feeling of Steve's lips on his own was exactly how he remembered. The familiarity sent shock waves through his body, and sent his heart beating out of his chest. As Steve's tongue begged Tony's lips to part, to which he happily obliged, he found himself taking steps backwards, All the while dragging Steve along with him. He wasn't sure where he was going until the back of his thighs pressed into Steve's desk.
Once he felt the solid desk behind him, knowing he had support for his very weak knees, Tony was able to drop his hands, curling the fingers of one into the waist of Steve's jeans, while the other palmed the denim fabric. He knew he was rushing, but he had missed this, his body was aching for this. "Tony-" Steve breathed out against his lips, which was sign enough that he wasn't the only one feeling so desperate.
Steve's hands quickly dropped to cup Tony's ass, only to lift him up onto the desk, sending rolled poster boards to fall to the ground. Tony's legs wrapped around Steve's hips and Tony's hands now worked on inching their way under Steve's T-shirt, while Steve's head dipped and his lips worked their way down to the sensitive skin along Tony's throat.
"Fuck-" Tony groaned just as Steve's tongue darted out over his pulse point. Of course Steve would remember all his soft spots, of course Steve would remember his body, of course he would remember how exactly to bring Tony to his knees It felt like no time had passed and if there was a list of things that Steve and Tony had been good at, this was at the top of it. It was the best sex Tony had ever had, and his body was screaming for it.
Tony's fingers managed to twist around the fabric of Steve's T-shirt and move it upwards. Steve pulled away only for his shirt to be lifted over his head and tossed. The partial split was enough to make Tony whine, he was about to complain when he heard the ringing of a phone.
"Ignore it." Tony demanded, as he wrapped a hand around Steve's head and brought him back, of course the universe would try and intervene just as Tony was finally getting what he needed.
Steve just grunted in reply, as he pressed his hips into Tony's, feeling the friction on the budge in his jeans, while his head dipped lower once more, nipping at Tony's throat, and his hands had slowly started to inch up Tony's T-shirt.
And then the ringing came again, but Tony's arms wrapped around Steve's shoulders, and his head fell back, and let another moan escape his mouth. Just as Steve closed his lips around Tony's collarbone the sound of a vibrating phone, pressed against the desk filled the space instead.
"You have to be fucking kidding me." Tony groaned in exasperation.
"Might be important." Steve mumbled against his skin, just as his phone started ringing for a third time.
"This is important." Tony argued, though it was beginning to feel like the moment was starting to pass, as now both Steve's cell phone and his were ringing again. "It better be a fucking emergency."
Steve was smirking as he pulled away from Tony, his eyes still heavy lidded, and it was so fucking hot, Tony wanted to push him right to the ground. But Steve was already checking his phone, so Tony begrudgingly pulled out his own phone. "Natasha, and Bucky" Steve said.
"Natasha." Tony said with a sigh, down at his missed call list. He didn't need to say much more, as he watched Steve press the send button on his phone and it started to ring. Instead Tony focused on fixing his mussed clothes, and calming his crotch.
"What's wrong?" Steve spoke into the receiver, Tony couldn't hear Natasha's reply, but Steve's eyes rolled at whatever she said. "No, calm down, what's wrong." with that he sighed and scrubbed at his forehead.
Tony felt bad for just standing there watching him, so he instead turned his attention to the mess of scattered papers they had created. Carefully moving around the space and picking up what had fallen. He heard Steve promise to be on his way, and frowned, because he wanted to demand Steve stay and finish what they were starting, but it was Natasha, and it obviously was serious.
"Did grandmas plane crash?" Tony asked, with just a little spite once Steve hung up, though he kept with his motions of picking up some rolled poster paper. Setting it carefully on the desk.
"No." Steve sighed. "Clint called her and said there's an issue with the flowers and he can't find me, and I guess Bucky misplaced the ring."
"You leave them alone for ten minutes." Tony said almost absentmindedly as one of the posters caught his attention. It had partially unrolled, and Tony caught a glimpse of something familiar, he found himself unrolling it before Steve even had a chance to scoop his shirt back up from the floor.
"Is that me?" Tony asked once he had it unrolled, it was the back of him at least, that's what it looked like. The background was all blues and blacks, with just touches of soft yellows, It looked like a galaxy behind a person bent over a table.
"Technically." Steve said, glancing over Tony's shoulder. "Its unfinished though, I couldn't get it right."
Tony clocked it the second he saw the lamp on the table, he had worked under it almost every night. The lamp itself would constantly go out, they could barely afford to keep the electricity on during a good month so it was this awful battery run lamp. No matter how may times Tony tried to put it on a self sustaining charge it never kept. It was one of the few great failures of his life. And there it was, painted in a steady hand staring back at him. He hadn't thought of that lamp in years, and now it was slapping him in the face, reminding him of everything else he had failed at, reminding him of everything that might have been.
Steve proposed under the light of that shit lamp. After a particularly rough argument, they had traded jabs all night long, over what, Tony couldn't even remember. He just remembered screaming that it was over, that they were over, that he couldn't live like this. He remembered Steve left in a huff and he was sure that he would be gone forever. He threw himself into his work, beneath that flickering yellow lamp and completely lost track of time. When he came back to reality, Steve was there, knelt down next to the table with flowers he had stolen from someone's garden and asked. They whispered apologies between kisses and Tony promised to be better, while Steve promised forever.
"Why'd you do it?" Tony found himself asking, though for the first time in many years he didn't even sound angry when he said it. "Why did you sleep with her?"
Steve's smile fell, straightening out the shirt he had pulled back over his head. "Does it matter?" he asked.
"Yes." Tony said matter of fact. "I need to know, after all this time I need to know Steve."
"My aunt sent me a letter, saying she heard from Howard that I had become a fag, and was destroying your life along with mine, and my mother would be rolling over in her grave if she found out." Steve held Tony's eyes. "So I got drunk and I went out to prove that I wasn't." Steve shook his head at the memory. "I don't know if I was trying to prove it to her or myself, but it doesn't really matter because I fucked up and I did what I did."
Tony was struggling to process the information, he had always thought it was because Steve was bored with him. Because someone else was hotter, because the other woman was enough, that she was better. Tony always assumed it was because of him. "Howard?" he found himself questioning.
"All he did was send a letter. I was old enough to make my own decisions." Steve answered plainly, clearly years of thinking it over had rationalized it all for him. "And I knew I hurt you, and I couldn't face you so I fought to end it all. I figured I deserved to lose you as punishment for hurting you."
"You did." Tony found himself agreeing. "But I didn't deserve that."
Steve opened his mouth to speak but quickly closed it. Tony didn't want to have to drudge up the past, he really didn't want to relive all their mistakes, especially after the decent day they had been having, but here they were again. Awkward, with not much to say.
"I should probably get back to the hotel." Tony glanced once more around the garage. "It sounds like you should be getting back as well." Tony motioned to the phone in Steve's hand that was once again ringing.
Tony didn't want to wait for anything more to be said, so as Steve turned his attention to his phone, Tony started his way back up to the farm house. The walk through the property was a lot quicker than it had been going down, it might have had something to do with the fact that Tony was now on a mission. To get back to his hotel room and process this new information.
In no time the farmhouse came into view, and Steve was no where to be seen, he managed to dig back out his cell phone and request a cab to his location, being told the one would arrive shortly.
Clint was hanging around the patio, surrounded by lilies and looking completely at a loss. It was only then that Tony remembered the troubles Natasha had called about earlier.
"What's wrong?" Tony called out, gaining Clint's attention.
"They wont take these back, so now I have to figure out what to do with a bunch of orange lilies." Clint sighed, looking down at the flowers. "She wanted roses."
Tony didn't want to get involved, but he figured he had a few minutes wait for the cab anyways since he was trapped in the middle of nowhere. "Why aren't they delivering the roses?" He asked, forcing himself to make his way up the deck.
"Apparently Vermont is out of roses." Clint rolled his eyes, holding up one of the lilies for Tony. "Please help me, do you think we can dye these all red before tomorrow?"
Now it was Tony's turn to roll his eyes. "That's a terrible idea." was all he had to say before he pulled back out his cell phone and sent a message to Pepper.
"You have a better idea?" Clint snarked pulling a petal off of one of the lilies.
"I have something better than an idea." Tony said as his phone vibrated with a reply. "I have a Pepper."
"Is this rich people slang?" Clint asked, clearly annoyed.
"No." Tony shot the small blonde a glare before he tucked his phone back in his pocket. "Get rid of these flowers, burn them, bury them, do whatever you need to do, but do not let Natasha know they even existed. Tell her you fixed it and all the flower arrangements will be delivered, properly, tomorrow as red roses."
"But how?" Clint pressed.
"Just tell her you demanded, threatened, whatever it is you like to do to people." Tony shrugged. "I took care of it and I promise you they will be here, but I don't want Natasha to know I had any part of it."
Clint's eyes narrowed at Tony, obviously confused. "Why not?"
Thankfully, the sound of a car arriving at the house guaranteed this conversation was about to end. "Because I just came as a guest." Tony said, stepping back towards escape. "And she'd be pissed to know that Pepper or I had anything to do with her wedding, it was like pulling teeth just to get her to let me pay for the welcome party."
"Are you coming back tonight?" Clint asked, noticing Tony's obvious reach to get away.
"No, I have no reason to be at the rehearsal, I'm just a guest at the wedding, do you listen to anything Clint?" Tony turned to head back down the stairs. "I'll see you tomorrow though."
"You sure Stark?" Clint called after him. "I don't think Tasha would mind, or Steve, you don't have to be a part of the rehearsal to come back."
"Don't you have a shower to take or something?" Tony asked before heading off towards his awaiting cab.
"You know for a smart guy, you're pretty dumb" Clint yelled back just as Tony managed to close the door of the cab.
Chapter 5: Do you remember the Bowflex?
Tony needs some time to process his feelings, and Steve learns how to work a telephone, just in time for Natasha to be in crisis.
Tony spent most of his afternoon sleeping off the hangover headache that returned almost immediately after he got back to the hotel. When he woke up he had a few update texts from Pepper in regards to the roses, that of course she had no problem arranging and would be flown in over night, and delivered to the farm before breakfast.
He also had one missed call, and a voicemail from an unknown number. Tony looked at the ten digits on his screen, a Vermont area code, and would bet a pretty penny that it was Steve. He decided he wasn't going to walk down that road again just yet, and forced himself into a shower instead.
It wasn't that he was mad, because that wasn't really what he was feeling. He just felt deflated, for ten years he had made up this story in his head about why things happened, and how, and in one morning he had the rug pulled beneath his feet. Everything he thought he knew, was wrong.
For years Tony lived on assumptions, and now he had answers. Why it didn't cross his mind that Howard was somehow involved shocked him. He really should have seen the signs, one of the last terrible things he did before he died. They were practically children, and they were both stupid.
In the end, Howard had gotten his way, really. He had broken up a couple of stupid kids, and got Tony to take over the company, it was rather ingenious. Of course, Tony knew he couldn't believe that was the plan all along, but it finally felt nice to put the blame on someone else. Maybe, if they had just distanced themselves a bit more, they could have avoided the entire situation.
Maybe they could have made it work.
Maybe a lot of things.
In the end though, Steve was right. He did what he did, and what happened happened, and Tony wasn't sure if they were allowed to have a reset button on any of this anymore.
After his shower, Tony pulled on some pajama pants, realized it was nearly eight and ordered some room service. He debated calling Pepper, but she had already spent her day finding flowers to ship to Vermont, he felt it would be selfish of himself to pile on his inner struggles on to her. Particularly when they involved possibly still being in love with an Ex. Pepper deserved better than that.
So Tony turned on the hotel room television and told himself he would check the message later.
Later turned into hours, in fact Tony completely lost track of time. His food had arrived at some point and been devoured shortly after, but then he got lost in his own head, and had dozed off again some time after that. The sharp knock at the door forced him up, then it came again and he tried to blink away the sleep before padding to the hotel door. He was barely awake, but the knocking continued, getting more and more frantic with every Step Tony took.
When he got to the door he almost didn't want to open it, so he peeked through the small hole, only to be met with bright red. "Natasha?" He asked pulling open the door. "What's wrong?"
"Finally." She huffed. "God I was starting to think you left, or were dead." Natasha didn't wait for an invitation, slipping past Tony and into his hotel room. Tony was still waking up so he didn't even attempt to ask, instead he closed the door behind her and followed her back into his room.
Without much explanation, she crawled into his king size bed, and curled herself around a pillow, hugging it tight against her chest. Tony stood at the foot of the bed watching her. He glanced at the television, playing infomercials, and then looked back to the red head in his bed, this didn't feel like a dream. She was wearing a pair of sweat pants and a T-shirt that was three sizes too big for her, Bucky's, he would guess, either way she didn't look like she was out on a social visit.
"Are you alright?" He asked after a beat although now that he was feeling a bit more awake, he felt he knew what the answer would be. He had only ever seen Natasha upset once before, it was right when she started working for him, he never really did find out what she was upset about, but he could tell from her eyes.
So it wasn't a surprise to him when she said no, only curling further into his pillow. It still didn't leave him with anything smart to say. So he did the only thing he could think of, he crawled into the bed next to her. "What's wrong?"
"I don't know if I want to get married tomorrow." Natasha flinched as she said the words, also not something that she did often, or at all, but the words obviously held more power than she was comfortable giving them. "Tony. I am freaking out, what do I do?"
Tony's brow furrowed as he looked down at the girl. "Not that I think they would be any better at handling this, but where are Clint and Sharon?" He really didn't think he was going to be any help, what the hell did he know about relationships? But from the short time he had spent with a woman too afraid to just ask a guy out, and a guy who only a mother could love, Tony didn't think they would be much better.
"Sleeping." She sighed, into the pillow. "I can't tell them anyways, Sharon would have a meltdown and Clint would just start packing my bags."
Tony glanced at the digital clock on the bed side table, it was barely going on to midnight. The night before had obviously taken it's toll on them, pathetic, Tony thought to himself, as if he hadn't been fast asleep five minutes ago as well.
"I don't know what do to Tony." Natasha rolled onto her back to stare at his ceiling, defeated and sad.
"What's got you second guessing?" Tony found himself asking, watching the way stress spread across her face.
"What if It's not really love?" Her brows pinched together "How do you even know what love is? And what if it's not enough, what if we just don't work one day, then what? Why waste all of this time and money just to - just to" She started spiraling.
Tony wasn't sure if he was the right person to be answering this, but she clearly didn't have anywhere else to go, and he couldn't just send her on her way alone, and stressed. Cold feet was a serious issue, he hadn't had to deal with it himself, but love, Tony liked to think he had at least experienced love, even if it wasn't everlasting.
"Does he make you laugh?" Tony asked, cutting her off. "Does he make you feel safer when he's around, or do things make more sense when he's beside you?" he turned his attention to the ceiling as well. "Can you be yourself around him, wear stupid clothes and stay stupid things? Do the annoying things he does seem tolerable, even though you still hate them?"
Tony's mind immediately fell to Steve, because how could they not. "Does his smile make you smile? And when he looks at you in a crowded room does your stomach twist a little bit? And when he makes stupid jokes do you laugh, even just to make him feel better?" Tony tilted his head, just to catch Natasha's green eyes staring at him. "My mom used to say that you know it's true love when you get good news and want to tell them first, but even more so when it's bad news and they're the first one on your list to call."
Natasha didn't say anything, and Tony didn't know if he was doing a good job or a bad job, so he carried on. "I think you know it's love when the thought of waking up without him makes your stomach drop to your knees, Nat." Tony turned on his side to face her. "I know I'm still relatively new to seeing you two together, but It looks like love to me. What's really got you stressed?"
"I'm just afraid." Natasha's voice drops to a whisper, like she's afraid to say the words out loud. "I'm afraid that once we're married everything will change."
"Of course it will." Tony says with a roll of his eyes. "You'll have a husband, you'll be a wife. You'll probably be asked by strangers daily when you're popping out babies, and referred to as Mrs. Barnes, which by the way I am refusing to do, right now, I draw the line, you'll be Romanov to me until the day you die. But when you go home at the end of the day, and when you wake up in the morning it will still be the same guy beside you."
At that the corner of Natasha's lips quirk just slightly. "What if it's not?"
"Then we kick him to the curb and run away together." Tony says with a straight face. "We can buy a castle in Scotland and drink champagne with every meal and become recluses that people only gossip about."
"What about Steve?" Natasha asks with a rise of his eyebrow.
"What about him?" Tony says, trying his best to play stupid.
Natasha hums, rolling on to her stomach. "Tony it is painfully obvious to anyone stuck in the same room as you two, that there's still something there. It's like watching two magnets fight to stay apart." Her green eyes are looking intently into hims now. "You still love him don't you?"
Tony turns his gaze back to the ceiling. "I do." He admits with a surprising ease. "More than I've ever loved anyone in my entire life."
"Then why don't you just tell him that?" Natasha sighs, and he can feel her shifting on the mattress, but doesn't want to spare a look.
"Because." He says exhaling. "I don't think I would survive him a second time." That was the truth, he almost died the first time, if his heart were to break a second time, his entire life would be in shambles. "Besides he's got a life here, I have a life in New York, I don't even know if we'd work anymore."
Excuses, were excuses, were excuses. But that's all Tony had to fall back on. They fall quiet, and for a few seconds Tony thinks perhaps Natasha had fallen asleep, and he'd be able to escape this conversation.
But she hasn't, and she reminds him of this by asking, "Did he call you? He wouldn't tell me what happened today, just that he needed your number urgently."
"He did." Tony confirmed, and forced himself to look at his friend. "But I haven't checked the message."
"What?" Natasha shot up on to her knees. "He left you a voice mail? What the fuck Tony."
"What?" Tony asks pushing himself up as well, but she was already crawling over him and grabbing his cell phone from the bedside table, not bothering to give him a worded answer.
Back on her heels she pressed in his pass code - curse her personal assistant accesses - and opened his voicemail. "Steve doesn't call people Tony, he doesn't leave messages, he has a fucking flip phone for God sake."
"I Don't-" Tony starts but before he knows it Natasha has his phone on speakerphone and a lovely recorded voice is informing him she's about to play the first new message.
The line is silent, and then there's a sigh. "Tony? I... fuck I uh. I'm a mess. I need to see you, I need to talk to you... I can't believe I've lost you all over again."
The tone in Steve's voice makes Tony anxious. It sounds sad, and worried, and it makes Tony want to call him back right away, he wants to tell Steve that he hasn't lost anything, but he also wants to roll his eyes, because he's been waiting for that phone call for nearly ten years, and he wants to ask Steve if that was so difficult.
The recorded voice is there again, asking if he'd like to save or delete the message, but Natasha just ends the call, before offering him back his phone. "Did I tell you that Bucky lost the ring today?"
"You didn't, but I heard." Tony replies cautiously taking his phone back from her, and staring down at the dimmed screen.
"Sometimes, the people we love are idiots." She says plainly, before stretching back out over the bed, this time tucking the pillow behind her head. "Have you ever ordered anything from one of these?"
"Huh?" Tony asks, prying his eyes from his phone, towards the television where Natasha has turned her attention. It's a late night infomercial for a frying pan made out of gold, and he's not quite sure what's happening, but he catches Natasha glancing at him, a curious look on her face, and he thinks he gets it.
"Yes, I have." He admits, allowing himself to rest against the pillows behind him. "Do you remember the blow flex?"
"Oh my God, Tony no."
Chapter 6: Don't let it go to your head.
It's the big day, Clint needs a favor, and Sam finally gets the hint.
Tony groaned, loud and obvious, partly in anger, part because he was tired and no one would just let him sleep. He rubbed his tired eyes as he once again found himself padding towards his hotel room door. The knocking this time was continuous, Tony had no idea for how long it had been going on but it couldn't have been for too long because whoever it was still had a lot of stamina.
Tony wrapped his hand around the door and flung it open, about two seconds from screaming at whoever was behind the door. "The hotel better be on fire." He found himself glaring into the faces of Clint and Sharon.
"We can't find Natasha." Clint said lowering his hand, as he had been the one to do all the knocking. "Have you seen her?"
Tony rolled his eyes, crossing his arms across his bare chest, because really? "Yes, she's in my bed."
Clint's face fell into relief, while Sharon's hand flung over her mouth, her eyes widening in shock and horror, and it took Tony a solid five seconds thanks to his tired brain to place where exactly her head had gone. At first, offended, Tony wanted to tell her to grow up and give him a little more credit, but as Clint seemed to catch her reaction as well, he figured, he had nothing to lose at this point.
"We spent a magical night together." Tony said with a shrug of one shoulder. "She's exhausted I had her up until the small hours, opening her up to new experiences-" With every word Sharon seemed to get more and more scandalized. "- Though she may have trouble walking down the aisle today."
"Oh fuck off." Natasha spoke, coming around Tony's shoulder, tired but smiling. "If anyone wouldn't be able to walk properly after a night with me, it's you."
"Don't make promises you can't keep Romanov." Tony said with a wink, sending Clint into a fit of laughter.
"That is not funny." Sharon said with a stomp of her foot, finally catching on. "You're so not funny, any of you."
"Thought you were going to pass out." Clint said, wiping away a rogue tear.
Sharon, annoyed now punched Clint in the arm, sending him stumbling sideways. "If we're all done making jokes of bad taste on her wedding day-" She eyed Tony as she spoke. "We need to start getting ready, Natasha."
"Don't be such a spoil sport." Natasha said with a fond sigh, stepping around Tony, but not before stopping and placing a kiss to his cheek. "Thanks for last night, but if you ever tell anyone about it I will pluck your eyelashes out one at a time."
Tony cringed at her, and the threat before waving her off. "Go, be gone, leave me and my eyelashes alone."
Natasha laughed as she started down the hallway with Sharon in tow, Clint however had stayed behind.
"I need you to go to farm early." He said, once Natasha and Sharon were just out of hearing reach.
"I don't think so." Tony said with a shake of his head, not sure when everyone had begun sticking their nose in his business, or why he was allowing it.
"Get over yourself." Clint huffed. "It's for the wedding, Sam lost his suit jacket, I managed to get a replacement delivered to the hotel but if I go missing Nat's gonna know something's up."
Tony eyed Clint for a second wondering how serious he was, but his face didn't give a hint away, and he figured he should just suck it up and do this one favor, the last thing he needed was Natasha freaking out, again. "Fine." He said stepping back into his hotel room.
"I'll tell Sam you're on your way." Clint said, behind the closing door.
Tony had taken his time, the wedding wasn't until 2, it wasn't going to take him five hours to get a suit to a farm house. So he took another shower, and cleaned up his facial hair carefully working around each sharp angle. Then he fixed his hair, choosing to use less product than normal, because it was after all an outside wedding and Steve always liked his hair a little windswept.
But this wasn't about Steve. That's what he kept repeating to himself as he poured himself into his blue three piece Tom Ford Suit, and fixed his tie. Tucking his important items into his pocket before heading down to the front desk.
When he got to the farmhouse, people were buzzing about. Tony paid and thanked the cab driver, slinging Sam's jacket over his shoulder before starting towards the house. Various caterers and wait staff moved around him in the drive way, and someone else carrying the most beautiful roses Tony had seen in a long time swiftly took off towards the barn. He followed the stranger, eyes falling to people setting up chairs in the grassy area, around an arbor still needing to be decorated.
It was a busy day all around, which is why when he knocked on the front door and no one answered, he didn't take offence, instead he just tried the knob. Of course unlocked because small town farm people never locked their doors, it was now a proven fact. The inside of the house was just as busy, people were clattering around the kitchen, caterers, Tony felt safe to assume, popping in and out the patio doors, Tony able to catch quick glimpses of them as they worked.
"Hello? Sam?" Tony called out, stepping further into the home. He didn't know what good his shouting would do, but he figured it couldn't help. It's not like he had gotten the grand tour when he was there last, if he had, he was drunk and didn't remember it. He peeked into the kitchen, the faces in there didn't even acknowledge his presence, all focused on their tasks, and none looked familiar so Tony decided to step back towards the living room.
"Helloo" Tony called out again, back to the other side of the house. "Special delivery for-"
"Tony?" Steve's voice yanked Tony's attention backwards, causing him to spin on his heel towards the kitchen. Steve's shoulders were tense, and his brow furrowed as he spotted Tony from across the kitchen, he had just come around the corner from the back steps and clearly surprised to see Tony in his house. "What are you doing here?"
Tony tightened his grip on Sam's jacket, taking a moment to drink Steve in. He was dressed in a suit, the black fabric making him look paler than usual, but causing those blue eyes to pop in a way Tony had never witnessed before. Tony indulged himself, taking his time in dragging his eyes down the length of Steve's body and back up. "Wow, don't you clean up nice." He finally replied.
The tension from Steve's shoulders seemed to ease up, and his face relaxed. "Thanks." He moved across the kitchen to join Tony on the other side, dodging waitstaff with ease as he did. "You look amazing."
"What, in this old thing?" Tony waved his free hand over himself, still not great at accepting compliments, and now with Steve being closer he got a sense for how well the other mans suit had been altered to fit him. The way the jacket hugged his broad shoulders, and the pants fit his thighs, Tony once again found himself checking Steve out. He was so fucked.
"Two times in under five minutes." Steve quirked, forcing Tony to look up at his face "That has got to be a new record, even for you."
"Don't let it go to your head." Tony huffed, unable to help the smirk that found his lips as he did though. "Change of subject time, I came bearing gifts." he said holding out the jacket to Steve.
"You brought Sam's jacket." It was a statement, not a question as Steve eyed the jacket dangling from Tony's fingers before taking it. "Right, yeah Thank you. Clint mentioned someone would bring it by."
Tony could sense the disappointment coming from Steve, and it felt wrong. He knew he should mention the call, the voicemail, allude to any of it, reassure Steve of, well, that was the problem. Tony didn't know what he would be reassuring Steve of. Not yet. Steve hadn't lost him again, but was it safe to even admit that Steve had got him again in the first place? Did what they even do count for anything. Tony hadn't worked any of that out yet, he had been wrapped around his own head for nearly 24 hours, and nothing made any more sense now than it did earlier.
So instead Tony dropped his eyes to Steve's hands, one holding Sam's jacket, one holding something else. "What have you got there?" Tony asked, eyeing the small strip of black fabric tightly held in one of Steve's hands.
"Oh." Steve raised his hand, holding out the fabric. "It's a tie, I think. Bow tie. I haven't had much luck tying it." he shrugged glancing over his shoulder at the kitchen, and the people within it. "I was actually coming down to ask for some help."
Tony raised on his toes to look past Steve's shoulders at the kitchen staff, a variety of women and men, but none of them wearing a bow tie. "From them?" Tony found himself asking, and knowing it came out far more snotty than he had meant it. "I mean, what are Sam and Barnes doing with theirs?"
Thankfully, Steve let the comment slide without any verbal notice, though the disappointing look he got was enough. "They both got clip on ties, for some reason mine came to me like this." He explained. "I was just hoping someone would know how."
"I know how." Tony offered, taking a small step forward as he did. "Not to brag or anything but I've been tying my own since I was five."
Steve hesitated but only for a moment before he let out a breath and turned to face Tony straight on. "Please help me." He said, once again offering up the strip of fabric.
Tony took the fabric from Steve's outstretched hand, before he stepped right into Steve's space, reaching up to flip up Steve's shirt collar. He gently placed the fabric under the fold, and reminded himself to keep focused at the task at hand, and ignore the burning feeling his gut was going through being that close to Steve once again.
Carefully, Tony twisted the two sides of fabric together, only allowing himself one quick glance up. Steve had his chin raised, as if giving Tony more room to work with, but his eyes were fixed on Tony, of course they were. Tony swallowed back his heart before dropping his eyes back onto the tie. He really was so fucked.
"There we go." Tony said softly as he pulled through the last side creating an even bow, before flipping back down the collar. Unable to stop himself as he smoothed his hands down the front of Steve's white shirt. His hands lingered, slowly moving across the white fabric, before he looped his fingers behind the lapels of Steve's suit jacket.
Steve must have read his mind, because a warm hand was now caressing his chin, and was guiding Tony's mouth against his own, in the most chaste careful kiss he had ever experienced. It was a flash, but when it was done, Steve's finger tips were still on Tony's chin, a calloused thumb carefully brushing against his lower lip.
"Thank you, Tony." Steve spoke quietly, but genuinely and Tony wanted to ask what for, or make a joke and shrug it off, but there was something about the way Steve had said it. The sentiment was layered and went so much deeper than Tony could have imagined something so simple could have. So he swallowed back whatever awful knee-jerk reaction was bubbling up within him and just reminded himself to breathe.
"Hey kids." Sam's voice ripped them apart, Tony nearly jumping back and Steve stumbling himself right into a wall - which would have been bad enough without Sam's laughter and pointing. "You have the reflexes of an elderly golden retriever Rogers."
"Shut up and take your jacket." Was all Steve could muster back, holding out the suit jacket that had still been in his hand. Tony however couldn't help but chuckle at the comparison because Sam really wasn't that far off.
"Just something about weddings that bring everyone together." Sam commented, eyeing both Steve and Tony knowingly as he snatched his jacket and pulled it over his shoulders. "Love in the air really makes people pull heir heads out of their butts, huh?'
Steve rolled his eyes, but Tony barked out a laugh before asking "Sure, yeah so what's your hold up?"
"Sorry, my what?" Sam asked with a quirk of his brow.
"Seriously?" Tony asked, looking from Sam to Steve and back again. "Sharon has been trying to get with you all weekend, how have you not noticed?"
"She has not." Sam laughed and then stopped. "Wait she has?" Frantically he looked to Steve. "Has she?"
"Sorry Sam." Steve replied with a wince. "We all really thought you had noticed by now, she's been trying for months."
"She what?" Sam exclaimed, eyes widening. "What do you mean you All?"
Tony laughed, gently giving Sam's shoulder two quick pats. "It's okay, buddy. You might still have a chance."
"Ya'll are dicks." Sam said with certainty, just in time for Bucky to appear in the kitchen.
"What did they do this time?" He questioned clearly only catching the back half of the conversation as he made his way to the group, eyes lingering on Tony for only a second, but not saying anything else.
"No man, You count too." Sam waved his hands around the three men standing around him. "traitors, all of ya'll. Months Steve says, Months you let me go on clueless."
"Oh," is all Bucky says before he's throwing his arm around Sam's shoulders with a laugh. "I'd apologize but I have bigger issues right now." And like that, Bucky is looking back at Tony. "I hear you spent the night with my wife."
Tony's eyebrows raise, and he immediately checks Sharon off his to be trusted list. "She's not your wife yet." is how he replies though, because he did no wrong, and as a true trouble maker, wants to see where this goes.
"But she will be." Bucky says dropping his arm from around Sam. "And I think part of that is thanks to you."
"Pardon?" Tony asks, genuinely shocked. He even finds himself leaning away from Bucky's outstretched hand, as if it was there to hit him, and not shake his own.
"Tony I know I don't really know you, which is ridiculous considering how much you keep popping back into my life but-" Bucky's hand is still outstretched while he talks. "-Thank you for whatever you said to Nat. Look I'm not an idiot I know she's a ten while I am much lower, but whatever you said to her, she said it really calmed her down."
"Oh." Tony replies staring at Bucky's hand before finally shaking it with his own. "Yeah well, Natasha loves you, it wasn't hard to remind her of that." He decides to keep Sharon off his to be trusted list still anyways, she has shifty eyes. "And for the record, I'd put you at like a seven and a half, a solid nine today all dressed up though."
"You're a punk." Bucky says, though he's smirking. "Alright boys, It's time I got married."
Chapter 7: You'll have to forgive me, this is my first wedding.
The ceremony is beautiful, and Steve and Tony share an evening to themselves.
Alert, Alert, this is a mature chapter. Ya'll been warned.
The wedding ceremony itself is beautiful, and of course it is. Tony would expect no less, not from Natasha. When the music started and everyone stood, he made a point to look at the front, Bucky's breath was taken away the second he laid eyes on Natasha, and Tony could see why when she glided past him.
Her dress was ivory, simple and form fitting. The back of the dress hung low, her hair was tied high, and her skin was glowing. Tony had to sneak a photo off his phone and send it to Pepper, because she needed to see this, it was absolutely stunning. The ceremony itself was short, but sweet, and the amount of love that poured out of Natasha and Jame's mouth was enough to make anyone feel a swell of emotion. Tony would never admit it, but his eyes fell to Steve more than once through the ceremony.
A brief thought of what they could have had, and how badly Tony found himself still wanting it all.
And wondering if maybe they still could.
Once the ceremony wrapped, Tony found himself hanging around, while everyone else made their way to the barn, and the wedding party and family made their way off to get photographs taken, Tony stayed where he was, and admired the summer day. His phone vibrated, it was Pepper replying to the photo of Natasha.
'She's beautiful, did you cry?'
'I don't cry at weddings.' Tony typed back 'too much built up envy I guess'
'how mature of you to self diagnose.' she quickly typed back, followed with 'are you having fun?'
'I don't know.' he replied honestly before adding 'I think I might ask Steve to run away with me, too much?'
'Is it love?'
Tony's thumbs hesitate over his screen, before he finds himself typing. 'Always has been, I see that now.'
'can we trust him?' comes in almost immediately.
And Tony can't even be upset at the question, because this is Pepper, and they're talking about Steve, and she knows the history, she knows the ripple effects he caused. 'I don't know.' he replies honestly again. 'But I think it's worth the risk.'
The reply doesn't come right away, and for a moment, Tony's able to turn his face into the sun and close his eyes letting the gravity of what he just admitted settle in on him. He's terrified, but he knows he means it. When his phone finally does vibrate he almost doesn't want to look, but is glad he does.
'If I don't play a pivotal role in your wedding I will stab you.'
'I love you to my core Pep.'
Tony debates sending another text, but he can hear footsteps in the grass getting closer to him, and he just knows that it's Steve. So he slides his phone into his breast pocket and waits.
"You do know the ceremony is over, right?" Steve's voice is light and playful, and a smile immediately spreads across Tony's face just at the sound.
"Over? I thought this was just intermission." Tony sighs, twisting in his chair to look at Steve. "You'll have to forgive me, this is my first wedding."
"Common mistake." Steve says with a smile, he still looks amazing, though his jacket is undone now and the sun has started to kiss his cheeks from standing out in it for over an hour now. "Can I walk you to the reception?"
Tony is taken aback by the sincerity in Steve's voice, and finds himself coming to his feet. "I would really love that." he says and he means it.
They take the first few steps in silence and then Tony does something he didn't know he had the guts to do, and he reaches over and laces his fingers in Steve's as they walk. He still manages to keep looking forward, towards the barn, trying his best not to make a big deal of it all, but also hoping on some level Steve understands the motion, and what he means.
Steve appears to get the idea, and squeezes his hand around Tony's, in return, which only makes Tony's confidence soar as they walk hand in hand towards the barn. It's words now, that Tony needs to find the courage to use, he knows this, so he clears his throat, buying himself some time, even though Steve seems content walking on in silence, but the barn is nearing and Tony has to do it before they get there.
"I think you should come visit me in New York sometime." Is the first thing he can say, he catches Steve in his peripheral looking at him, so he continues. "And maybe I can fly out here on the weekends to see you or something."
"I'd like that." Steve says quietly, but sincerely.
"And -" Tony starts, finally looking at Steve, meeting those sweet baby blues and feeling his chest swell. "Steve you didn't lose me again, it kills my pride to admit this, but I don't think you ever really lost me in the first place. I am scared though, and I need you to know that."
Steve nods, and holds his place to stop their walking before turning to face Tony. "I know we can't just pretend it didn't happen. I let you down." And it sounds like a confession the way he says it, his face is serious but his hand stays in Tony's, warm and safe. "Tony, I will gladly spend the rest of my life working to earn back every ounce of your trust if it means I get to be near you again."
Tony looks down at their hands, fingers interlocked together, fitting perfectly like they once did, and he knows that this is just right, and there's no hesitation in his head to accept Steve's words for the truth. Tony had spent too many years doubting everyone's motives, but not Steve's, never Steve's, and if he was going to put himself out on that ledge again and risk what remained of his heart, then he might as well go all in.
"It won't be easy." Tony admits meeting Steve's eyes again. "I'm probably more difficult than I've ever been, and I'd be an idiot to think that time hasn't changed me, changed us, but-" Tony shrugs "I want to see where this thing goes if you'll take the chance on me?"
Steve's lips pull wide. "I thought you'd never ask." He sighs, fondly, pulling Tony into himself with their conjoined hands, Tony stumbled forward easy, and Steve places a soft kiss on his forehead. "You're my answer, every single time Tony. I have spent ten years realizing that."
"Holy shit!" Clint's voice is loud from behind them, startling both Tony and Steve apart, though their hands stay tied together, neither willing to let go, and Tony mentally notes that it stands for something. Clint pauses eyes shifting between them before he smirks. "The barn looks amazing." he praises, as if that's what he was going to do all along. "We should get in there, Bride and Groom are incoming."
Tony decided Clint is a total shit. And he really likes him.
The barn looks magnificent, the lights littering the ceiling are all shining bright, there's a dance floor in the middle of the room surrounded by large round tables. Each table is covered in a pristine white table cloth, the rose center pieces that were so urgently ordered sitting on each one. There's smooth music playing while people are laughing and talking, it truly looked like something out of a magazine. Pepper would have been so proud.
When Bucky and Natasha enter, they're met with hollers and whistles, and then the music starts and they gracefully move around the dance floor for their first dance. Tony can't help but watch how much their love radiates as they stare into each other, and finds himself hopeful that he'll get to experience that with Steve one day, maybe.
Sam and Sharon don't join the table until dinner is being served, they're looking a little disheveled and embarrassed and Tony is the first to call them out. Sharon flushes immediately before glaring at Clint.
"Did everyone know?" She asks, eyes wide, clearly pinning the blame on the blonde for word getting out that she had been trying to get with Sam for over a month.
"Well everyone but Sam." Tony corrects with a smirk, watching Sam cover his face. "I have to give you some serious credit Sharon, if it was me I would not have had your restraint, I don't do hints very well."
"It's true." Steve says, looking down at his steak as he cuts a piece, mindlessly carrying on the conversation. "When we first met, he literally just pointed at himself then at me and immediately made very graphic hand motions."
Clint is barely able to cover his mouth before his drink comes spritzing out. which only makes Steve glare at the man to his left for getting spit near him.
"You-" Clint coughs, completely ignoring Steve's dirty look. "You are serious?" he finishes, leaning over to stare at Tony for confirmation.
"I was eighteen." Tony defends, pointing to Steve with his fork and adding. "Besides have you seen this man, he is a literal Greek God statue in the flesh, what the fuck else was I going to say to him?"
"Oh I don't know, Hello maybe?" Clint asks behind a laugh and a shake of his head, still trying to calm himself down.
"He did eventually say hello." Steve says after chewing and swallowing his food. "It just happened the next morning."
"You both have no shame." Sharon states with a roll of her eyes, but leaves the conversation at that because Natasha is coming their way.
She lets out a huff as she folds herself into the empty chair next to Tony. "Being polite to these people is so hard, my face is starting to hurt from all the fake smiling."
"You're doing great sweetie." Tony replies with the quick change of topic, before stabbing a tomato with his fork. "Where's Mr Romanov?"
"My great aunt has him cornered." Natasha says without sympathy, her eyes falling on to Sharon and Sam across the table. "You two finally got your shit together huh?"
"Oh my God." Sharon is once again turning pink before she hides her face behind her hands, and Sam is laughing, because there's not much left for him to do. The cat is definitely out of the bag, and so be it.
"Now what about you two?" Natasha states looking to Steve and Tony beside her, her tone of voice much more sweeter than mere seconds ago.
"Working on it." Tony cuts in, putting the tomato in his mouth. "Beautiful flowers Natasha, by the way, just gorgeous, good taste, Clint did so well." He mumbles around his chewing.
"You're pathetic." Her words are harsh but her tone is fond, and Steve chuckles because he knows too well they should expect no less. "Tell Pepper thanks for the flowers."
"She didn-" Tony goes to argue, but Natasha's even look makes him stop, and he knows she's smarter than that and it's not worth the argument in the long run. "I will."
"Alright folks." Natasha sighs, gracefully lifting herself out of the chair, "I have about fifty more family members to go place nice with before I can eat, so I'm probably going to die."
They all send her off with wishes of luck, and promises of catching up later.
It's much later in to the night, the sun has finally set, and the soft music is playing, when Steve asks Tony to dance. He wants to say no, having a perfectly content time sitting at the table and trading jabs with Clint - who very much has become his new favorite - but Steve's smiling down at him so sweetly with his hand extended and he has to take it.
Once they're on the dance floor, and Steve has one of Tony's hand in his own, and his other hand on Tony's hip he leans in. "Finally, I have you to myself."
"Oh is that what this is?" Tony asks with a small laugh, allowing his feet to move with the slow music. "You were jealous?"
"No." Steve says, pulling Tony against himself. "Is it too hard to believe I just wanted to dance with you?" he asks, Steve's voice is low and confident keeping their conversation as personal as he can, as people dance around them, but no one cares enough to pay them much mind anyways.
"You used to hate dancing." Tony comments, matching the volume, looking up at Steve from beneath his lashes. "In fact I remember you telling me it was like a loose form of torture for me to make you."
"Admitting I was jealous of Clint would be far more painful." Steve admits, bowing his head in defeat, but Tony just laughs, and lets his head rest on Steve's shoulders as they continue to move with the steady beat.
Tony doesn't know how long they stay like that together, but he doesn't really care. The night is winding down and the slow hits keep coming, so they just keep moving. He can't remember the last time he felt this kind of warmth, it's nearly overwhelming, nearly too much for his system to handle. Tony wonders if it's possible to overdose on good feelings, and perhaps begins to understand the meaning of love drunk a bit more than he ever thought he would.
The music is still going, but it's no longer a slow song and Steve's voice whispers in his ear that it's maybe time they got out of there. It's only then that Tony allows himself to part from the warm comfort of Steve's body. "Please." he finds himself reply, but it's not desperate or needy, it's just honest.
Once again their fingers are laced, and Steve leads him out of the barn, and it feels again like that first night at the farm, but this time Tony is absolutely sober, and there's no fog clouding his thoughts or decisions.
The farm house is quiet and dark when they get inside, the catering staff having already finished for the night and disappeared as quickly as they had arrived. "Did you want a coffee, or.." Steve is hesitating, as they toe off their shoes, and Tony can tell it's his way of trying not to be presumptuous.
"I'd like to just go to bed actually." Tony says, looking to the back stairs. "If that's fine with you?"
Steve doesn't confirm anything, and he doesn't need to. Instead they make their way up the stairs, through the hall and directly into Steve's bedroom once again. Tony closes the door behind himself, and neither of them need to turn the light on. The moon is bright enough, and they both know it, and from there, Tony can hear the music from the barn through the open second story window, but just as a dull buzz.
Tony realizes as they're stepping towards each other that they still hadn't lost their ability to communicate without words. Because it takes just a look and then they're kissing, softly and slowly. Tony's hands dragging the fabric of Steve's jackets off those large shoulders, with Steve mimicking the movement. They're two men moving in sync with the same goal, but it's not hurried or needy. Every touch is soft and calculated.
As Tony's fingers work around Steve's bow tie, Steve's hands have loosened the knot in Tony's tie. And then his fingers drop to buttons, carefully undoing one at a time. They had managed to step backwards until the back of Steve's knees bumped into his own mattress. Tony's fingers were much quicker at loosening every shirt button, and he doesn't mind using this to his own advantage, pushing off the shirt, and managing to push Steve down onto the bed at the same time.
Steve looks up at him, now that they've split apart, his eyes are black, and heavy lidded, and Tony can feel his entire body burn under their gaze. He decides to finish unbuttoning his own shirt, letting it slide off his shoulders and onto the floor behind him, noting how Steve's eyes widen at the action. Cautiously, Tony's hands drop to his own belt, Steve's eyes follow, slowly he unclasps the belt, before thumbing open the top of his pants.
That's all it takes for Steve to reach out, hooking a finger into Tony's pants before dragging him forward. Steve's lips are pressed against his hips, and Tony curls his fingers into Steve's hair, holding himself steady. Steve's hands are now working on the zipper, carefully stripping Tony, but his mouth is still placing kisses on to the newly exposed skin.
Steve's breath is already heavy, but when Tony tugs on his hair, so that their lips can meet again and climbs into his lap, it hitches and sends shivers down Tony's spine. Tony grinds down slowly drawing the most beautiful sounds from Steve's mouth pressed against his own. He does it once more just for good measure before he reaches down between their bodies, and his fingers get to work on Steve's pants.
It doesn't take Tony long, getting them open before sliding his hand in through the zipper and flush against Steve's hardon. He palms the fabric of his boxers, and feels Steve's hips rising to meet the pressure. He can feel Steve's body tensing beneath him, and Tony knows the signs, he knows Steve wont stand much more of that. He wont blame him for it though, after ten years some things are hard to outlast. So instead he lifts himself up, sliding off Steve's lap, dragging the well fitting black pants, and his boxers off the blondes legs as he does so.
The distance between them now is felt by both, but Tony can't help allowing himself to drink this moment in. Steve splayed in front of him naked and as gorgeous as ever. His ab muscles flex as he lowers himself onto his elbows, staring at Tony expectantly and invitingly.
Tony knows the drill, and raises an eyebrow as he pushes his own boxer briefs to pool around his ankles. Steve's eyes drag over his entire body, painstakingly slow, but he loves every second. He's not a shy naked nineteen year old anymore, he knows he looks much better now, and the way Steve's cock twitches is enough to let Tony know he's not the only one that thinks so.
"Come 'er." Steve breathes out, Tony obliges, crawling back into Steve's lap, trailing his fingers over his chest, finger tips brushing over his pecks before around his neck, cupping the back of his head.
They allow their lips to meet once again, tongues twisting around each other, dancing like they had never been apart. Steve's long fingers are teasing Tony now, as if to give him permission, he finds himself pushing down onto them. Initially it's pain, something Tony hadn't felt in years, but it quickly followed up with heat deep down in his stomach, one finger turned into two, and Tony was moaning Steve's name.
Steve dropped his head, his lips moving down Tony's neck as his hands continued to move, gently stretching and dragging. His teeth grazed against his pulse point and Tony's head fell back, his hips grinding down.
"You're so fucking gorgeous." Steve's words vibrated against Tony's neck as he spoke them, his lips close around the skin, teeth nipping, and all Tony can reply with us a moan as he leans into what is going to brown and blue proof by the morning.
It's enough of an answer for Steve though, because Tony is empty again, and his hips are being guided upwards until he can feel the wet tip of Steve replacing the fingers there just moments before. Tony knows as he eases down that he's in control now, and it's Steve's turn to moan out his name.
Tony's movements are slow, as he lifts up, rolling his hips on the way back down, drawing another moan from Steve, his fingers pressing into Tony's hips, holding on for dear life. Their chests are pressed tightly together, and with every roll of his hips, Tony can feel the pain being replaced by pleasure. He knows his breathing has grown heavy as he works himself over Steve, and Steve is mumbling obscenities as his lips work their way over every inch of Tony's shoulder, neck and face they can find.
They knock noses, and Steve's hips buck upwards, and it's all Tony can do to cry out into the room, he needs more, he wants more. Before he can even ask, Steve's hand has slid between them and his fingers have wrapped around Tony, long drawn out strokes with every twist of Tony's hips. "Steve-" Tony gasps, pressing his forehead into Steve's, his arms have slithered their way around his neck, and his nails dig into the strong muscles of his shoulders.
"Steve." He breathes again, feeling his head get light and his blood drain. Steve only grunts, because he's close and his body is tensing up again, and he's not able to stop himself. Tony knows he's only seconds behind but as it hits him, causing his body to shake in release, so does a wave of emotion he didn't expect.
"Tony, Baby-" Steve is panting, confused and disorientated, because Tony is crying. "What did I do, are you okay?"
"I love you." Tony whispers so quietly he can barely hear himself. "I'm sorry" he apologizes, pressing the heel of one of his hands into one of his eyes, trying to cap the tears, unsure of what else to do.
When he looks down, Steve is staring at him, intent and serious, full of concern, and uses his clean hand to wipe away the tears on Tony's other cheek, before pressing a kiss to the corner of Tony's mouth. "I love you too." He whispers softly. "I've loved you always, and will love you forever."
"You're such a sap." Tony says, but it's from behind tears that are now free falling, and all Steve can do is chuckle and agree.
Chapter 8: Tony, No.
It's the morning after, and it's time for reality. Maybe, just maybe, it can be as sweet as the dream world Tony wants to live in. Tony has to go home and then two weeks goes by.
"Tony no." Steve mumbles, voice muffled by the pillow he's laying on.
Tony smirks to himself as he continues pressing soft kisses to the back of Steve's shoulder, slowly making his way to the back of his neck. Steve is silent again, so Tony slides himself down the bed, leaving a trail of kisses down Steve's spine, it's not until he gets to the curve of Steve's ass that the other man shifts.
"You're insatiable." his voice his laced in sleep, and his eyes aren't even open, but Steve rolls over, blindly reaching out for Tony, to yank him back into his arms.
"You're old and easily tired out." Tony replies, yet still allowing himself to be swallowed by Steve's large arms.
Steve doesn't answer, instead he tightens his arms around Tony and buries his face in his brunette hair. Tony wants to stay like that for forever, he feels safe and wanted in Steve's arms, but he knows he can't. He lets the air settle, the sun just starting to creep through the window, washing over what they've spent the night doing, and he regrets none of it.
"Steve." He says quietly after a few minutes, after allowing himself to fully enjoy the little slice of heaven he had been able to catch. "I have to go back to New York today."
Steve's body shifts beside him, and Tony knows that caught his attention. He doesn't want to go, but he needs to. He knows he has to, and he knows that Steve knows he has to. The company, Pepper, Tony's entire life was in New York, almost Tony's entire life. It was time to get back to reality. They both knew this was going to happen.
So why was it so hard. Steve's reply was a lack of anything at all. "You should come to New York with me."
"I can't." Steve sighs, finally using his words. "I have some stuff to wrap up and the next wedding to prep for, but Maybe the weekend after next?"
It sounds like the start of something very confusing, but if this was ever going to work, Tony figured there would be some difficult navigating ahead of them. He wasn't entirely lying when he said that maybe he'd fly out to See Steve when he could, and maybe Steve should come see him. But they weren't children anymore.
"You know, I hear a lot of people get married in New York." Tony says into Steve's chest. "Maybe when you come out we can find you something in the city, you can stay with me, you know until you find your own place or for like - the long term." Tony knows he's rambling, but it's what he does when nervous. "Just maybe think about it."
"I have weddings booked until the fall." Steve says, and Tony thinks he already knows where it's headed. He was a fool to think it would go any other way. "I have a lot to wrap up." Steve continues. "I could probably list the place but I'm not sure if it would sell, and it wouldn't be fair to those with deposits down already to switch ownership in the middle of their events-"
"I'm sorry, you what?" Tony questioned, tilting his head to look up at Steve, trying to process the information.
Steve frowns down at him though, which only makes it more confusing. "Last booking is the first weekend of October, so we'd be looking at-"
"Wait, pause." Tony cut in, pushing himself up into a seated position so he could straighten out what exactly what was happening here. "Are you saying you'll move to New York?"
"Of course I will." Steve confirms, his eyebrows furrowing together. "Tony, the only reason I stayed here is because I didn't think I had anywhere else to be. If you want me in New York-"
Steve didn't get a chance to finish whatever it is he was going to say, because Tony couldn't hold off any longer before ducking down and catching Steve's mouth with his own. "I have a few hours before I need to be at the airport." he says against the blondes lips.
Steve replies with a laugh, wrapping his arms around Tony and pulling him back down on top of himself.
"If you need anything-" Natasha starts, but Tony raises a hand cutting her off mid sentence.
"Please, Nat. Do you seriously not believe I will survive two weeks without you?" Tony asks, but he already knows the answer. She doesn't. So he quickly follows up with. "It's your honeymoon I'm not going to bother you while you're out island hopping and getting laid. I'm sure Pepper can handle me."
"Poor Pepper." She sighs, tucking red strands behind her ear, her hair is a mess, still half up from the evening before, and a night of what Tony would only guess was exciting enough to not worry about taking all the hair clips out of her head.
He wouldn't judge, seeing as he was dressed in the same suit from the night before, evidence of what transpired peppering the skin of his collarbone and neck. Natasha hadn't done more than give a knowing smile.
"No, Poor me." Tony corrects, putting his sunglasses over his eyes, as Steve comes down the stairs, dressed with his truck keys in his hands. "I have to deal directly with Pepper, you better come back tanned and happy."
"I will." She reassures. "Are you good?" she adds, glancing at Steve before he has a chance to join the conversation.
"I am." Tony replies with a smile. "I'll fill you in when you get back, consider it an incentive for you to return, now if you'll excuse me I have to get back to a hotel and pack before I miss my flight and Pepper murders me."
Natasha laughs and rolls her eyes, but says goodbye and insists she will tell Clint he still owes him that ten.
On the ride to the hotel they make plans, Steve will come to New York in two weeks time, and util then, promises to learn how to use the phone, properly. They only have a mild set back at the hotel, in the form of Tony mentioning that the only person he shared his hotel bed with the entire trip was Natasha.
Steve would not be outdone.
However Tony ended up having to pay for late check out, and their parting at the airport was quicker than either would have liked.
"I'm going to miss my flight." Tony sighed, reluctantly stepping away from Steve.
"So?" The taller man replied, a smirk on his lips. "Maybe you should just take one more day off."
"Pepper will murder you." Tony argues, but he can't help but go in for one more kiss goodbye. "She already doesn't like you, don't give her more of a reason."
"I think I can handle Pepper." Steve says with all the confidence in the world, but does let his grip on Tony's hand loosen.
"I will call you when I land." Tony says with a fond roll of his eyes. "Remember, it's the little green button for answer - God we need to get you an updated phone old man."
Steve just laughs, neither of them say goodbye.
TWO WEEKS LATER
"Tony." Pepper's voice carries across the table, and he gets the sense she's already said it more than once. When he looks up, the glare on her face is enough to confirm his suspicions. He doesn't bother asking what, already knowing what - the way the other board members are also shooting him tired glances he knows. So Tony lowers his cell phone and places it screen down on the boardroom table, showing that he is giving her his full attention. Finally.
"As I was saying, Tony." Pepper's eyes are once again at the sheets of paper on the table in front of her.
"If you are sending nudes during working hours again I swear to God I'm taking your phone away." Pepper sighs once the meeting wraps, and the board members leave the room.
"That was one time." Tony smirked, remembering how upset Pepper was when she accidentally saw those outgoing messages on his screen. "And if I remember correctly I told you not to check my phone for me."
"Lesson learned." Pepper replied dryly, sorting out her papers and tucking them back into a folder. "Your turn now, next time I ask you to pay attention in a meeting because I'll be calling to you to talk, pay attention."
"Okay, that's fair." Tony pushed away from the table, waiting for her at the door of the boardroom before continuing, glancing down at some of the missed texts he had received. "It's just, Steve's here today, and I am a ball of anxiety."
"I forgive you." Pepper sighed, stepping with him as they walked towards the elevator bay. "You didn't think he'd actually come?"
"I had my worries, hey, you removed him from the banned from building list, right?" Tony asked eyeing the strawberry blond, clocking the smirk she got as her long polished finger pressed the elevator call button. "Pepper that's not funny, we still have to talk about that."
"Oh Give me some credit." Pepper said with a roll of her eyes, stepping into the elevator as it arrived. "I removed him the day you landed, just like you asked."
Tony stepped in after her, pressing in the number for their floor. "I just want to make sure everything goes smoothly. You also better be nice to him when you meet him."
Pepper didn't get a chance to pretend to be offended. As soon as Natasha saw them come off the elevator she jumped to her feet.
"You do not look any more tan than the day you left Romanov." Tony couldn't help the smile that spread over his face when he saw her, it had only been two weeks but he had missed her - even when distracted missing Steve.
"It's called sunscreen." Natasha said with a tilt of her head. "Also we have bigger things to worry about. The eagle has landed. Barnes has the Target in the elevator."
"He's here." Tony's eyes widened, shifting his glance from Pepper to Natasha. "Do I look alright?"
"You look fine." Pepper sighed shaking her head, while Natasha just laughed.
When the elevator stopped at the floor once more, Tony could barely contain his excitement. The grin splitting his face as the doors opened revealing both Steve and Bucky, mid conversation about something, that quickly ended when Steve's eyes fell onto Tony.
"Hey there stranger." Tony tried to play it off cool and casual, which only gained him another laugh from Natasha.
"Hi Tony." Steve smiled, stepping off the elevator, making a beeline directly for Tony, and pulling him in for a kiss.
"I'm sorry I didn't pick you up from the airport." Tony mumbled into the kiss.
"It's fine, Buck made due." Steve said with a chuckle. "Besides, I believe there was a very legitimate reason for that."
"There was." Tony said taking a step back, "Speaking of reasons, Steve I think you need to meet the other great Love of my life."
Pepper stood straight, her eyes dragged over Steve slowly, before landing on his face. "Steven." she offered as neutral as she could muster.
"Hi." Steve stepped forward, offering her a kind smile. "It's nice to finally meet you Miss Potts."
Immediately, Pepper threw her hands up in defeat. "Fine, Okay. I get it." She shot a smirk at Tony before elaborating. "I mean, I am beginning to understand the appeal."
Steve flushed red, and Tony burst out laughing. "Pepper, don't."
"I was just looking." Pepper's shoulders raised into an effortless shrug, and Tony continued laughing.
Chapter 9: Aren't you supposed to be the boy genius?
This is it. The end. Three months later...
Tony loosened his tie as he stepped through the penthouse door, noticing a pair of sneakers tucked away beside the entry, and a smile fell onto his lips. He toed off his own dress shoes, before stepping into the penthouse living room. The city lights twinkled in front of the December sun that was already setting behind the horizon, the light just barely peaking through the large floor to ceiling windows.
His eyes only lingered on the view for a second before they fell on to Steve, tucked into the corner of the sofa. He was so beautiful, illuminated by the back drop of the city below them. The man had his knees pulled up to his chest, a sketchbook balanced on them and a charcoal pencil in his hand, face turned downwards towards his work, bottom lip sucked between his teeth, like it always did when he was really trying to concentrate.
Shrugging off his jacket, Tony placed it on the back of a bar stool, quickly adding his tie to the pile and undoing the top button of his dress shirt, before quietly making his way to the couch, and the man he loved on it. It wasn't until Tony was casting a shadow over Steve that he even seemed to notice he was there.
"Hey, Tony." Steve said softly, looking up from his sketch, a smile pulling over his lips. Some charcoal had gotten on to Steve's chin, and Tony's fingers itched to touch it.
"Hey Babe." he replied instead, dipping down and placing a kiss to Steve's lips, before moving to take up the space on the couch near Steve's bare feet. "How was your day?" he asked, nudging Steve's legs to stretch out over his lap.
"Boring." Steve spoke, turning his attention back to his sketch. "Bucky and Clint hung out for a bit, something about getting us a Christmas tree for the dinner, oh, and we're also apparently hosting a Christmas dinner." he paused long enough to examine the newest marks to his paper, and Tony enjoyed the way his eyebrows knotted together and then relaxed as if satisfied with his work. "I think it's just Clint's excuse to come drink your bar dry, but -" he finished, pulling his blue eyes form his art work. "What?"
Tony realized only then that he had been staring, but he didn't care to hide it. "Nothing." he answered instead. "Just admiring the view." he had to chuckle at Steve's exasperated eye roll before adding. "Are Sam and Sharon coming to this dinner? Do we know if they're still banging?"
Steve's hand stopped moving as if surprised Tony had been paying attention to what he had been saying at all, which he should have known better than to think. "Banging?" Steve finally said, his lips curling into a smirk. "I would have used a different word, but yes."
"Saucy." Tony smirked along with Steve, before moving his hands to one of Steve's bare feet, pressing his thumbs into the pad and massaging it gently, appreciating the curl of toes he got in return.
"How was your day?" Steve asked, turning his attention out the large widows, as if for reference before back down at his paper.
"Busy." Tony admitted, adding some pressure to his movements against Steve's foot. "Pepper made me attend four meetings today, and I swear two of them were the exact same people just redistributed around the same room." He sighed, switching to Steve's other foot and repeating his earlier movements. "She tell ms that we accomplished everything we needed to do today though, so I suppose it was productive."
Steve was staring at him now, smiling softly, and listening to every word as if it was all important. Tony let go of Steve's foot, shifting up on the couch, Steve like a reflex, lifted his legs and allowed Tony to slide out from underneath them, to get in between them. He crawled up Steve's body until he was able to rest his head against the wide chest beneath him.
Steve moved his sketchbook, gently tossing it onto the coffee table, along with the charcoal pencil that landed with a clank. "My hands are dirty." He stated, relaxing his body underneath Tony's weight.
"Don't care." Tony mumbled into Steve's chest, closing his eyes and listening to the beating of his boyfriends heart. Boyfriend, a word he wasn't sure he'd ever use again when talking about Steve, but there he was.
"Your shirt is white." Steve sighed, and Tony could hear him trying to figure out what to do.
"Don't care." Tony repeated himself before adding. "I have many shirts Rogers. Endless shirts. Shirts are replaceable, stop thinking so hard."
"Your shirts are expensive." Steve reasoned into Tony's hair.
"You don't ever seem this concerned about my shirts while you're ripping the buttons off of them, Steven." Tony glanced up through his eyelashes, and caught the blush rushing up Steve's throat.
"That was one time." Steve reasoned, but let his arms wrap around Tony, and his now charcoal stained shirt. "You're going to be out of shirts if I keep this up."
"I don't mind." Tony closed his eyes again, listening to Steve's heart and their steady breathing once again fill the room.
He could feel Steve trace shapes out along his back and side, knowing his fingers would be leaving traces of black, but it was okay. It was always okay with Steve, Tony hadn't felt so relaxed in his entire life, than when he was wrapped in Steve's arms. It had all been worth it, all the waiting, all the late night phone calls, and middle of the day text chains. The long drawn out conversations, about their past, and what the hell they were even doing. The talks about their future, how much had changed yet how some things could just feel all the same. All of it was worth it to Tony, to get Steve back to him.
Tony once again found himself losing track of time with Steve, but when he heard his name softly whispered, and felt Steve's hand carding through his hair, he pried open an eye. The sun had disappeared completely and the room was dark and quiet.
"Mm?" Tony replied, too comfortable to move, too content to ruin a good thing.
"Do you want to go to bed?" Steve asked, continuing soft finger twists in Tony's hair as he spoke.
This drew a chuckle from Tony, though he closed his eyes again. "Don't you think you should make an honest man out of me before you make such requests?"
"I was going to try." Steve replied. "But then you fell asleep on me."
Tony opened his eyes, shifting so he was looking up at Steve. "I did not fall asleep."
"You drooled on me." Steve stated plainly, glancing down to a small wet spot on his T-shirt.
"You're just that delicious." Tony teased, finally pushing himself upwards and forcing himself to wake up. "Now what were you saying?
Steve grinned, shifting up on his elbows. "I had a whole speech prepared and everything."
"Wait." Tony's eyebrows raised into his hairline, his tired brain still working to piece together what was happening. "Are you being serious?"
"Aren't you supposed to be the boy genius?" Steve asked, before shifting on the couch so he was able to reach into his pocket, pulling out a small black box.
Tony looked down at the black box, before he was pushing himself back to sitting on the far side of the couch. Steve wasn't kidding, alarm bells started ringing in his head, and his mouth went dry "What was the speech?"
Steve sat back up, holding the black box in one hand, before he dropped himself down onto one knee beside the couch, and in front of Tony. "I was going to start by telling you how happy I am, and how no one else in my life has ever made me feel as much as you have, but even with the bad, even with the worst days we've ever had, I couldn't ever imagine growing old with anyone else."
Steve held Tony's eyes with his own, face falling deadly serious. "I know that I have done a lot that I will never fully be able to earn your forgiveness for, but I'm going to try. I am going spend every waking moment proving to you how much I love you. Tony, when you came back into my life it was like that little bit of me that was missing had suddenly returned. I will never forget the way I felt like I could take on whatever life threw at me, as long as I had you by my side, that I could finally .. I could finally be happy again."
It was there that Steve faltered, looking down at the black box in his outstretched hand. "I wanted to do this right this time. I'm not afraid of life anymore, I know I'm an idiot, but.. I want to be your idiot for now and forever, if you'll have me. We don't have to rush anything. You.. you don't even need to reply but-"
Tony swallowed back the lump in his throat, a wave of emotion crashing over him so hard he felt like he might drown. He was transported back to the night in the shack, to the first time, and how it felt, but this. This time was nothing like that. This time Steve's voice quivered and his hand trembled and Tony could feel every word said to him. This time his eyes watered and he had every sensible fiber of his brain screaming at him that this was not a drill.
"-Tony, Will you marry me?"
"You're such an idiot." Was not what Tony had meant to say, but it's absolutely what came out of his mouth. Steve looked taken aback, only for a second before Tony quickly followed up with "Yes! Obviously Yes." blinking back the tears he cupped Steve's face and pulled him into a kiss. "But now I need to get you a different Christmas present you son of a bitch."
(Almost eleven years prior)
"Oh Sweet Jesus." Tony exclaimed, as he slid into the booth. "It's hot as shit out there, why did we decide to spend the summer here? Seriously." he sighed, pulling his sunglasses off his face and tossing them onto the diner table with a clank.
Honestly, Tony didn't want to admit he was that oblivious, but when his eyes fell onto the man across the booth from him, it was painfully clear that it was not who he thought he had joined. He really needed to start paying attention to his surroundings.
"And you are not a Rhodey."
"What?" The Stranger replied, eyes wide, looking an adorable mixture of confused and scared.
"I mean, besides having a similar build you two are literally opposites, as far as human males can go." Tony explained, in a way only he could. "Actually, no I take that back, you are built like a fucking statue, no one is similar to you."
"What?" The stranger repeated, pushing himself back into his own side of the booth as he spoke.
"Right, yeah, no Rhodey, still-" Tony couldn't help it as he let his eyes drag over the top half of the stranger, young, blonde, in a way too tight t-shirt, and "Holy shit are those arms for real?"
The stranger looked down at himself, and then the blue eyes, now less confused and more concerned looked back up at Tony. "I'm sorry, but again, what?"
"Oh God please don't be dumb." Tony sighed and then he raised his hands, using one to point a finger at himself he used the other to point at the stranger and then very slowly he formed one into a circle and inserted an outstretched finger into it.
"Wow." The stranger gaped.
"Too forward?" Tony asked, before shaking his head. "Doesn't matter, it's summer in California, it's hot, you're hot, we should be hot together, if you get my drift."
"I don't even know you." The stranger replied, but there was a slight blush coming over the collar of his shirt, and the fear had mostly subsided from his face.
"Look if you don't want to, just say so." Tony said with a shrug, grabbing his glasses from where he had tossed them on the table.
"I didn't say that." The stranger quickly blurted. "My name's Steve."
"Steve." Tony purred leaning forward. "Wanna get out of here?"
Steve's eyebrows raised before he asked. "Weren't you here to meet someone?"
"A friend." Tony answered quickly. "And trust me, if he saw you, he would understand, now- come on Steve, Summer doesn't last forever."