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“Absolutely not.”

Protesting groans fill the common room.

“Why not?” Clint whines.

Steve scowls, placing his hands on his hips. “What do you mean ‘why not’?”

“I mean, it isn’t going to kill him. It’s harmless.”

“How is that—”

Thor nods solemnly, grabbing a bite from his Pop-Tart. “I dare say, I must agree with Clinton—”

“Please don’t call me Clint—”

“Why not? ‘Tis a fine name!”

“Yeah, but—”

“Aside from that,” Thor continues, changing the subject, “I do not see the harm of—”

“There’s a lot of harm!” Steve insists. “A lot of harm in—”

“Harm to Tony?” Natasha says coolly. She barely spares any of them a glance, taking a long sip from her mug of hot chocolate. “Or harm to you?”

Steve stills, his heart leaping in his chest. “This has nothing to do with me.”

“Uh-huh. Sure it doesn't,” Clint drawls, propping his legs on top of the coffee table. Bruce immediately nudges it off. “Us thinking of setting up the guy you’ve been pining—”

“I’m not—”

“And there’s the denial,” Natasha says dryly at the same time Clint continues, “—for with someone who isn't you doesn’t piss you off.”

“How am I—”

Four pairs of eyes stare right back in blatant judgment.

Finally, Steve lets out the sigh he’s been holding back since they started this meeting.

It’s already bad enough that he was rouse from his sleep at two, three in the morning for this. It’s too early to deal with this. Or well, ever.

“Fine. Bruce and I—”

Bruce has the audacity to flash him a sheepish smile. “Sorry, Cap.”

Steve groans. “Seriously? You too? Am I the only one that thinks this is just—just—”

“Come on, Cap,” Clint says. “We all know Tony needs some pick-me-up. Locking himself up and moping over his last breakup isn’t healthy.”

“He’s not—”

“He was crying last Movie Night. And you know he hardly cries during Movie Night.”

“I mean, if the movie's—”

“We were watching Inception.”

“Inception has—”

“He was crying during the fight scenes. And for half of the movie.”

Well… Well.

Steve hadn’t been there for that, having been on a mission for SHIELD. It’s hard for him to figure out whether Clint’s lying, considering everyone else is murmuring in agreement.

He gets Natasha, Thor even. But for Bruce to agree with Clint without any hesitation is just unheard of.

Steve exhales, holding his hands up in surrender. “Fine. You guys do whatever want. It’s not like you planned on even listening—”

“No, we weren’t.”

Steve scowls, Natasha brightening in return.

He’d think that being Captain America and the leader of the Avengers, he’d have some form of respect and authority over them. But no, he’s just a leader to a bunch of stubborn kids. Teenagers.

Sometimes he wonders what he did wrong to land himself in this situation, in this era. Not wholeheartedly because the thought of not meeting Tony is just ab—

“You know he’s going to hate this, right?”

 

 

 


 

 

 

“I think it’s a great idea.”

Steve does a double-take at that. In fact, everyone’s staring at Tony in puzzlement. Except for Natasha but that's hardly surprising. Nothing fazes her.

What's surprising is Tony's reaction. The Tony in front of them can’t be the same Tony who has to be dragged or hauled out of his workshop for meals or gatherings, let alone galas and big parties. For him to willingly agree to be set up on blind dates by his friends is a huge breakthrough.

A breakthrough Steve hates but a breakthrough nonetheless.

Tony cocks an eyebrow, setting his screwdriver down. “What? Why’re you all staring at me like that? I agreed to it. Isn’t that what you guys want?”

Clint smacks his lips together. “Well, yeah. But—”

“We do not mean to insult your intelligence, my friend,” Thor replies. “We assumed you will not be amenable to our proposition.”

“Well, Winghead wasn’t,” Natasha cuts in.

“Still isn’t,” Clint pipes up.

Steve makes a mental note to double their drills during the next training session.

“I just thought you wouldn’t like it,” he explains when Tony trains his curious gaze on him. “Going on blind dates, I mean.”

“It’ll be a nice distraction,” Tony says after a beat. “It’s pretty overdue, anyway. Probably good for me to get into the dating game again and try to—”

“I don’t know. Isn’t it too soon?”

“It’s never too soon to date,” Tony counters. “Sides’, Pepper and I broke up... What? Seven months ago? I think it’s high time I get back into things. Go out. Have some fun.”

“And being around m—us isn’t fun?”

Once again, all eyes are on him. A snicker fills the awkward pause. Steve makes another note to triple the drills for Clint.

“I think Tony meant a different kind of fun,” Bruce offers.

Tony directs his screwdriver in his direction, grinning. “Right on the money. I’m not saying you guys aren’t fun to be around because you are—”

“We love you too.”

“Sure you do, birdbrain. But yeah. You guys are fun and all but it’ll be nice to go out and have a nice time in a less platonic setting, you know? Have some little flirting going on—”

But I flirt with you all the time, Steve grumbles.

Sure, they always go unnoticed every single goddamn time but it’s flirting all the same. If Tony wants someone to flirt with him, Steve’s his guy. In fact, he could—

“—and maybe fall in love—”

Fall in love?”

Steve almost claps his hand over his mouth as once again, several pairs of eyes zero in on him, most of them in mirth.

He really, really hates himself sometimes.

Tony raises his eyebrows. “You seem pretty adamant of me staying single for the rest of my life.”

“Yeah, Cap,” Clint adds, smirking. “Why’re you so— Ow!”

Natasha might get her drills halved for that.

“I’m not trying to stop you from—from falling in love,” Steve says, the words heavy on his tongue. “I just— Well, I— You know—”

Tony frowns, his eyes roving around Steve’s face before softening. “Alright, guys,” he says, clapping his hands. “Clear the room. Steve and I are gonna have a lovely chat alone.”

Their friends move to vacate the room, not without protests from Clint. As soon as the door closes shut behind them, Tony shifts his attention to Steve, crossing his arms.

Steve feels like he’s being put on trial.

“It’s been months, Steve.”

“I know—”

“You know I’ve moved on—”

“I know. I just… I just...”

“Is there something you want to tell me?”

God, there are so, so many things he wants to say. All the words and sentences clash in his head, swirling around in a whirlpool of anxiety, hope, and fear.

I think you’re making a mistake in agreeing to this.

I think our friends aren’t thinking things through.

I think you deserve better than blind dates.

I think you should date me.

“No. Nothing at all.”

Steve swears there’s a flicker of disappointment that crosses Tony’s face before it vanishes.

“Don’t you worry that pretty little head of yours,” he says, poking Steve in the ribs. “I’m a big boy. I know how to handle a little date. Nothing I can't handle.”

Four dates.”

Tony's eyebrows arch. “You’re not giving it a go?”

Steve shakes his head. “Don’t really know anyone who’d be interested,” he lies.

Tony gasps, clutching his heart. “How dare them? I am a catch.”

“Uh-huh. Sure you are.”

“I am, you asshole. FYI, I was voted Sexiest Man Alive thrice.”

“Good for you,” Steve says dryly.

“Asshole,” Tony mutters, spinning on his heel. “Fine. Be like that. Whatever. Good talk. Now shoo. I have—”

“Oh no, you don’t,” Steve interrupts, resting his hand on Tony’s shoulder. Years ago, Tony would’ve shrugged him off. Now, Steve’s glad Tony’s willing to let Steve touch him, let alone hand him things. “We’re having breakfast. Bruce's making breakfast tacos and you are going to join us.”

“But I have—” Tony scowls. “Stop that.”

“Stop what?”

“The puppy dog eyes. You know I hate—” Steve flutters his eyelashes. “Ugh, fuck you, Steven.”

Steve couldn’t help but cackle as Tony storms out, striding to hurry after him.

If he hasn’t been savoring his time with Tony, well, he’s going to savor it so much more now. His borrowed time with Tony might be shortened very soon.

 

 

 


 

 

 

1.

 

Despite opting out of Operation: Get Tony To Stop Moping By Finding Him True Love, his friends insist on Steve being at every single meeting of theirs. Apparently since he's the leader of the Avengers and the operation is a team matter, he has to be present.

Which is just a bunch of lies. He would’ve stood his ground if Natasha hadn’t pulled out another knife from her sleeve and all-too casually begin to sharpen it. Steve's pretty sure she's messing with him but well, better safe than sorry.

After several heated debates (which involved a cheese grater, a broom, and a Q-tip), Bruce ends up going first. According to him, his pick would help Tony ease himself into things.

Everyone’s in disbelief at that (Steve has a feeling Natasha knows, judging by her smirk) but quickly acquiesces when Bruce’s neck turns into a sickly shade of green.

Bruce’s pick is a woman named Jennifer Walters, one of the most sought-after lawyers in New York. She also happens to be Bruce’s own cousin.

“Isn’t it weird?” Clint asks as the Avengers sans Tony pass Bruce’s phone around. Steve almost crushes the device in his hands at the sight of the picture.

Okay, so she’s pretty dark-haired, bright green-eyed with a dimpled smile. And judging by her track record intelligent, compassionate, and cunning. These are traits she and Tony definitely have in common. It's no surprise Bruce picked her.

But so what? Steve’s pretty (or so people tell him). He’s a great strategist. He'd like to think he has a kind heart. He's definitely in the same league as Jennifer. He can totally date Tony if that's what he's into.

If only Tony isn't straight.

“Why would it be weird?” Bruce returns.

“Pairing up your friend with your cousin.”

“As much as I hate to admit it,” Steve adds, ignoring Clint’s indignant protest, “I agree.”

“Nope. Not weird,” Bruce replies firmly and that’s the end of it.

A part of Steve is relieved that Tony would be meeting with Jennifer at the venue itself instead of she coming over. The last thing he needs is to see her waltz up to Tony and watch them chatter about whatever businessmen and lawyers talk about.

Besides, he doubts he could restrain himself from glaring at Jennifer when she sees Tony in a tux because holy shit.

“So,” Natasha says as Steve and his friends dig into their takeout boxes after seeing Tony off, “what kind of date did you plan for them?”

Bruce pushes his glasses further up his nose. “Got them a reservation at Le Bernardin.”

Clint’s eyes widen. “Holy fuck. Le Bernardin? That’s like one of the most expensive places in the city.”

“And romantic,” Natasha adds.

Steve almost chokes on his sweet and sour fish.

“Sharon told me there’s like a three-month wait to snag a spot,” Natasha continues, spooning fried rice between her lips. “How did you even get one?”

Bruce shrugs. “Pepper helped out.”

The thought of Tony’s ex helping Bruce set Tony and Bruce's cousin up doesn’t sit well with Steve.

Steve has never heard of the restaurant, let alone seen it. It doesn't stop his mind from drifting though. He lets himself imagine Tony sitting opposite Jennifer with a lit candle between them, lets himself imagine violins and piano swelling in the background as they bend their heads together to share a laugh, lets himself imagine their faces and their lips inch closer and closer—

“Hey, Cap?”

Steve snaps out of his reverie. “What?”

Bruce gestures downwards. “Your chopsticks.”

Steve blinks, following his gaze. The chopsticks in his grip are in pieces. His cheeks begin to heat up.

“Uh, Thor?”

Thor brightens, tossing a fresh pair.

It hits Steve square on the nose.

 

 

 


 

 

 

As if dinner isn’t bad enough, Steve’s bad luck extends to the next eleven rounds of Mario Kart.

Steve huffs in frustration as Link swerves off the map for the millionth time. He doesn’t usually suck at Mario Kart but for some reason, he’s finding it hard to concentrate.

All he can think of is that Tony isn’t pressed next to him playing. Tony isn’t cursing and yelling along with everyone else. Tony isn’t flashing that smirk of his at Steve when he overtakes him.

Because Tony’s on a date. And Steve’s stuck here without him.

“Ha!” Clint cries, jumping to his feet. “Suck it, losers! Suck my dick!”

Thor scowls, following suit. “You cheated!”

“Me? How the hell did I cheat?”

“You threw the blue shell!”

“So? It isn’t against the rules!”

“It’s dishonorable!”

“Everyone’s dishonorable when it comes to Mario Kart!”

“Not the Son of Odin! You, however—”

Natasha rolls her eyes, dropping the controller in her lap as the two continue to bicker.

Surprisingly, it’s Bruce who gives Steve a light tap on the knee, briefly snapping him out of his brief funk.

“You alright?” he asks lowly. “You’ve been spacing out the whole night.”

Steve manages a smile. “I’m fine.”

Bruce doesn’t seem to buy it. Fortunately, he doesn’t get a chance to pursue the matter.

“Did I miss something?” Tony asks, his amused voice floating into the room.

Steve grins, feeling anchored. “Just Clint and Thor arguing about Mario Kart.”

Tony scoffs. “So the usual then.”

“Yup. You’re back early.”

He nods, unfastening his tie. Steve doesn’t stare at Tony’s skilled fingers working their way through the knot. Neither does he watch Tony pop the button of his collar, or his Adam’s apple bob or—

“Jen said she needed to meet with a client tomorrow morning,” Tony replies, throwing himself onto the loveseat next to Steve. “So we had to cut things short.”

Steve has to refrain from doing a happy dance.

“Had fun?” Bruce asks.

Tony grins. “Yeah. It was fun. Jen’s just as fun as the last time we—” He blanches, his eyes darting away. “I mean—”

“Wait,” Clint cuts in. His bickering with Thor seems to have resolved, with everyone’s attention now on Tony. “You know Bruce’s cousin?”

“Uh…”

“You slept with Bruce’s cousin,” Natasha interjects.

Steve would’ve thought Natasha’s making a joke if Tony hadn’t blushed.

This can’t be happening. At all. This has to be a joke.

Was it a friends-with-benefits thing? Did they date? Or—

“I— I just—” Tony sighs, burying his face in a pillow. “Okay, fine. I did. Once.” He pauses. “Thrice. Sorry, Brucie Bear. Please don’t kill me. We didn’t do anything just now if—”

“Oh, I know. She told me about your...thing a couple of years back,” Bruce says flippantly. “I’m fine with it.”

If only Steve could agree with him.

Tony starts at that. “Wait, really?”

“Yes, really. I wouldn’t have asked her to go out with you if I did.”

“Yeah, but you never know.” Tony's eyes widen. “You’re not gonna like Hulk out on me, right?”

Bruce arches an eyebrow. “Do you want me to Hulk out on you?”

“Nope. I really like to keep my brain inside my head, thanks,” Tony replies hastily. “Besides, I’m meeting with her for lunch next Saturday and—”

“You’re going out again?” Steve blurts out.

“As friends,” Tony says. He shrugs his shoulders. “Apparently our relationship is best left platonic.”

Steve really, really has to refrain from doing a happy dance.

One down, three to go.

 

 

 


 

 

 

2.

 

Thor goes next, claiming seniority because of course, he does. No one bothers to argue because he’s the God of Thunder.

Steve’s Captain America and he doesn’t even get a smidgen of respect. What the hell is up with that?

Thor's choice is an Asgardian by the name of Sif, a close friend of his. Steve doesn’t know much about Norse Mythology but he swears he’s heard of her before. And not because Thor mentioned her.

“Wait,” Bruce says during breakfast. Tony had been whisked away to a shareholder meeting, leaving the other five alone. “Aren’t you two married?”

Steve almost spits out his coffee.

Thor takes it in stride, barking out a hearty laugh. “Nay. We have never courted or married. Your Midgardian myths are utter nonsense. Preposterous! We are friends and warriors in arms. And that is all we are.”

“You make her sound badass,” Clint says.

“She is badass! Once, she had taken down several frost giants all on her own! It was the—”

I could take her on, Steve thinks glumly, shoving a piece of toast between his lips as he tunes Thor’s droning. I could definitely take everyone on.

He still holds onto that thought when that faithful evening arrives. Just as the clock strikes six, a spaceship lands onto the tower’s helipad. A woman dressed in armor steps out of the spaceship, one hand resting on the pommel of her sword, the other holding a bouquet of flowers.

“Oh wow,” Natasha breathes.

“Wow is right,” Tony agrees.

Steve scoffs. Sure, she's pretty and regal and all that, but what’s with the get-up? She’s taking Tony on a date, not to war. He wouldn’t put it past Asgardians to bring bouquets of flowers along with them during battles.

Sif trades pleasantries with Thor before training her gaze on Tony. “It is a pleasure, Man of Iron,” she says, tilting her head in acknowledgment. “Thor has spoken much about you.”

“Good things, I hope.”

“Verily. You look dashing.”

Dashing is a total understatement. Steve can’t even find the words to describe Tony. With his hair slicked back and dressed in a two-piece, he can’t remember the last time he’s seen Tony this put-together. Then again, Tony always looks put-together, always looks like he’s dressed to kill. Impress.

Seduce.

Tony smiles. “Thank you. You look splendid tonight yourself.”

Sif breaks into a grin of her own. “You are much too kind. Ah. Before I forget.” She brandishes the bouquet in her hands. “For you.”

Tony stares at it for a brief moment before gingerly taking it from her. From where Steve's standing, they look like ordinary daisies but Tony immediately brightens up at them. “Wow. Honestly, I’m not much of a flower guy but these look amazing.” He buries his nose between the petals, sucking in a breath. “They smell amazing too.”

Steve fights the urge to stomp his feet.

Sif beams. “They were freshly picked from Freya herself. Daisies are her sacred flower.”

“Freya?” Tony squeaks. “Freya as in the goddess Freya?”

“Aye. She is looking forward to meeting with you.” She nods at Thor. “Your mother sends her love and requests you return for a visit posthaste.”

Thor returns the gesture. “I will as soon as I am able. However, not at the moment. I do not wish to intrude on your arrangement—”

“Woah, hold up,” Tony interrupts, waving his hand. “It sounds like you’re taking me to Asgard.”

“Aye,” Sif says. “I will be taking you to Asgard.”

Asgard?

Asgard?” Tony splutters. “Am I even— Am I even allowed—”

“Of course you are, my friend,” Thor exclaims. “Any friend of an Asgardian is welcome in Asgard. Why, I have had taken Jane—”

“As much as we would all love to be regaled by your tale, Thor, I think ‘tis best Anthony and I take our leave.” She grins. “Come, Man of Iron! I have much to show you. Do not fret. I will return your comrade soon.”

Steve’s pretty sure Sif’s smirking at him when she says the final bit. But he doesn’t have time to ponder because Tony’s taking her hand and giving the rest of them a two-finger salute.

“Be good. My tower better be in one piece when I get back.”

If you get back, Steve thinks before purging the thought.

Tony has to come back. There’s no way he’d stay in Asgard. Everyone he cares about is here on Earth. He wouldn’t stay for the pretty sights, the advanced technology, or even the stunning strangers.

Besides, Asgard’s filled with magic. Tony hates magic. He wouldn’t move to Asgard and live among magic. He wouldn’t.

Right?

Clint lets out a low whistle as they watch the spaceship disappear into the horizon. “Damn. If I were Tony, I’d never come back from Asgard.”

“Asgard is a wonder to behold,” Thor says smugly.

Steve scowls. “I’m sure it’s not that great.”

“You may hold this thought but I assure you, you will change your mind when you visit,” Thor replies cheerfully, clapping Steve on his back. “Now, come! I heard there are loaves of meat to feast on!”

 

 

 


 

 

 

Dinner feels like an eternity to sit through, made even worse when the rest decides to rewatch the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Honestly, all Steve wants to do is curl up in a ball under his covers and hope for the best. Knowing that wouldn’t go down well, he reluctantly agrees to his friends' enthusiastic decision and spaces out throughout the whole viewing.

A part of Steve knows that they’re trying to cheer him up and possibly distract him from thinking about Tony’s date. But it’s hard to focus on the movie and his friends’ colorful commentary when the space next to him is empty and all he can think about is maybe.

Maybe Tony would decide to stay and live among the wonders of another planet. Maybe Tony decides that Sif and him would make a great match (Steve has his doubts) and gets engaged on the spot. Maybe Asgard and its people are no match for Earth and Steve.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Steve doesn’t remember drifting off but he finds himself stirring at the sound of retreating footsteps.

He glances around, blearily blinking as he takes in the pile of blankets and tangle of limbs. The credits are rolling on the screen. Carefully, he turns the television off, pulls the covers aside, and quietly shuffles away.

Tony’s already dressed down and flipping through holograms when Steve drops into the workshop with a couple of mugs of hot vanilla.

“Thought you were asleep,” Tony asks, glancing behind his shoulder.

Steve shrugs, passing one of the mugs to Tony. “Heard you come in.”

Tony frowns, glaring down at the drink. “This isn’t coffee.”

“No shit.”

“Don’t you get sassy with me, Rogers.” Tony takes a long sip, letting out a low moan. Steve tries to not think about it too much. “Okay, never mind. This shit is good. You’re excused.”

Steve smirks. Take that Sif.

“How was it?” he asks all-too casually.

Tony brightens. “Oh god, Asgard was… Holy fucking shitballs, Steve. I was in freaking Asgard! Like I can’t begin to tell you how freaking amazing it was!”

Despite himself, Steve couldn’t help but grin as he listens to Tony ramble on about his date. There's a part of him that hates how Tony goes on about the sights and wonders of Asgard, about how advanced Asgardian technology is, how delicious their food is, how beautiful and friendly the people are. But how could he be mad when Tony’s smiling like that? If Tony’s happy, so is Steve.

And that’s when he realizes one thing Tony hasn’t bothered to bring up.

“So,” Steve begins when there’s a lull in the conversation, “how’s your date with Sif?”

Tony smirks. “Why, Rogers. Eager for dirt, are you?”

Steve shrugs. “What can I say? I live for gossip.”

Tony snorts, shaking his head fondly as he lifts his mug to his lips. “It was great. We had a wonderful time. We had dinner in the capital and then went dancing. Jesus, the dip she made—”

“I didn’t think salsa dips were a thing on Asgard.”

“Not that kind of dip. The kissing kind of dip.”

Just like that, Steve’s mood comes crashing down.

“Oh,” he says, burying his face and heartbreak behind his mug. “It must've— Must’ve been amazing.”

“It was pretty good,” Tony agrees. “But not enough to warrant a second date though.”

Steve hates the swell of joy and hope coursing through him. Just because Tony and Sif didn’t work out, doesn’t mean he has a chance. Tony’s straight, for god’s sake.

“I’m sorry.”

Tony shrugs. “Don’t be. I had fun. And I got to see Asgard. I don't regret a thing. Anyway, we’ll see what’s in store for me next Friday. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be a disaster.”

Once again, Steve’s ugly side hopes for that.

If an Asgardian couldn’t get a second date with Tony, who else could?

 

 

 


 

 

                                                                                     

3.

 

“You’re insane.”

“I know.”

“You do know that’s not a compliment, right?”

“Yuppers.”

“That's not a real word.”

“Uh, it is.”

“Says who?”

“Says—Says everyone! What’d you mean—”

Natasha leans over to whisper conspiratorially into Steve’s ear. “Ignore him. He’s incomprehensible. No point wasting your brain cells on him.”

“Hey—”

“Don’t worry,” Steve replies. “I’ve given up trying to understand him.”

She sighs. “If only I have your lack of determination.”

Clint scowls. “Haha. Very funny, guys.”

“Seriously though,” Bruce says behind his toast. “You sure this is a great idea?”

Thor’s brow furrows. “Why not? In Asgard, it is not unlawful to court former lovers of comrades or friends.”

“It isn’t against the law,” Bruce replies. “Just frowned upon.”

“‘Tis a pity.” Thor sighs. “Once again, Midgardians prove to be the oddest species I’ve known.”

Anyway,” Clint continues, “this is totally gonna work. They’re both hot and they both know they’re hot. They’re both smart and they both know they’re smart. She loves chardonnay. He loves whiskey.” He spreads his hands. “Match made in heaven.”

Steve doubts that. A lot.

Especially since Clint's setting Tony up with Clint's ex.

 

 

 


 

 

 

“You’re insane,” Bruce comments as they watch Bobbi Morse pull up to the curb.

Steve’s worked on a couple of SHIELD missions with her. She’s wonderful to work with – strong-willed, friendly, and professional. He has nothing but praise for her in reports to Fury.

Right now though, he’s having very uncharitable thoughts about Bobbi, more so when she pulls the helmet off and shakes her blonde tresses like some model from a Pantene commercial.

Steve could do that if Tony likes that kind of thing. He could grow his hair out like Thor and learn to flip his hair. That is, if he needs to learn that sort of thing. Judging by the stare Tony trains her way, Steve's awfully tempted to do just that.

“Clint Francis Barton,” Natasha whispers. Steve’s certain he wouldn’t have heard her if it wasn’t for the serum, “you’re insane.”

“Am I right or am I right?”

“I hate you.”

“No, you don’t.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Hey there, Avengers,” Bobbi says cheerily, striding over. Her face clouds for a brief moment when her eyes meet Clint’s. “Barton.”

“Morse.”

“Still a total disaster, I see.”

“Still have that heart of ice, I see.”

Steve makes a mental note to ask after their relationship later.

Bobbi’s lips curl into a smirk. “And don’t you forget it. I didn’t think I’d be going on a date with the Avengers. And my ex-boyfriend. Again.”

“Hey—”

“They’re just being mother hens,” Tony says, rolling his eyes. “Ignore them.”

Bobbi breaks into a grin. “Heard these mother hens were trying to find you true love, Mr Stark.”

“Mr Stark is my father,” Tony corrects and god, he’s dialing up his stupid charm that is irresistible to none and Bobbi is falling for it. “Call me Tony.”

“Well then, Tony,” she says, beaming. “What’d you say we get the show on the road?”

Tony hums, eyeing the motorcycle with approval. “Good choice. Always found people on motorcycles hot. People in leather too.”

Steve bristles as Bobbi returns his flirtation with ease. She isn’t special for owning a motorcycle or decking out in a leather jacket of her own, on top of the leather fingerless gloves and matching boots she has on. Steve rides a motorcycle, a Harley-Davidson in fact. And he wears leather jackets. He'll definitely wear them more often next time.

But then he remembers Tony is straight and he tries his best to not beat himself over it.

Not even Tony’s ass in those tight, tight jeans could distract him from Tony wrapping his arms around Bobbi’s waist as she revs the engine. He could only flash them a hesitant wave as they tear down the road.

His friends seem oblivious to his messy thoughts, chattering away as they retreat. Steve tries to tune it all out and he does.

Until they all pile into the elevator.

“Is it weird that Bobbi kinda reminds me of Steve?” Clint pipes up.

Steve almost trips over his own foot.

Thor frowns. “How so?”

“I don’t mean that she salutes the flag before she sleeps. Unless she does it now but—” Clint pauses, shrinking at Natasha’s scowl. “Like think about it. They’re both blonde and blue-eyed. They’re both SHIELD agents who’re obsessed with leather and motorcycles. They’re both hot and smart and witty as hell. I could go on—”

“Please don’t,” Steve mutters, his mood worsening with every word spoken.

Somehow, it does the trick. They don't bring Tony or Bobbi up during dinner (meatballs wins) or when they pile in the living room to watch the latest Sherlock Holmes movie, which ruins his mood even further.

It’s bad enough that the actor for Sherlock looks exactly like Tony, but the fact that a guy that looks like Tony is blatantly pining over his married best friend is just…just…

If only, Steve thinks glumly as he watches Sherlock and Watson glide across the dancefloor.

If only Tony’s not straight, maybe Steve would’ve had a chance. After all, Bobbi and him do have similarities. And if Tony would give Bobbi a shot, he could definitely give Steve one too.

He breathes a quiet sigh of relief when the credits begin to roll and moves to make his exit. He would've succeeded if Clint hadn't decided to play pinochle.

“A splendid idea, Barton!” Thor cries, a little too enthusiastically. “I am certain we would have the most fun!”

Steve raises an eyebrow in doubt. It’s a well-known fact that everyone loathes pinochle but him, groaning and whining whenever he picks the card game for Game Night—

“Why even more than Tony and his lovely lady!”

—and there goes the little shred of excitement he feels.

“I'm sure they're having a blast trash-talking about you,” Natasha tells Clint.

Or sharing a milkshake between them both. Or watching a movie with their hands in each other's grasp. Or maybe kissing against—

Clint snorts. “Wouldn't surprise me. Bobbi would take any opportunity to embarrass me. It's cool. It's all lies, anyway.” He grins, patting Steve on the thigh. “Sides’, gotta keep our great leader’s spirits up. The sulking's just—

“I am not sulking,” Steve snaps.

Thor frowns. Bruce and Natasha exchange glances. Clint raises his hands in surrender.

“Okay, okay. You’re not. Let’s just… Let’s just play the game.”

If this is some odd way of cheering Steve up, it doesn’t work. He’s about to toss his cards in the air when he loses for the seventh time in the row when Tony strides in, zeroing in on Clint.

“You’re insane.”

Clint smirks, dropping his cards onto the coffee table to rest his hands behind his head. “I mean, am I right or am I right?”

Tony pauses. “You’re kinda right. Wait, is it Steve’s turn to pick the game?”

“Nope,” Clint replies. “We figured he needed a pick-me-up.”

Tony’s eyebrows shoot up, whirling his head in Steve’s direction.

“I’m fine,” Steve says curtly. “How’s your date?”

Tony’s eyes narrow but thankfully lets it go. “It was great,” he says, shrugging his jacket off his shoulders. Once again, Steve tries to avert his gaze. “Bobbi took me to Coney Island.”

Clint does a double-take at that. “Coney Island?”

“Mm-hmm.”

As much as Steve hates to admit it, but he has to give credit when it's due. Lately, Tony hasn't had the time to let loose and have fun. An amusement park would be a perfect place to forget and indulge in his competitive streak.

Plus, there’s the Ferris wheel. Tony once told Steve he loves Ferris wheels. To him, Ferris wheels are romantic. Steve wholeheartedly agrees with him. It's the perfect place to talk about buried feelings and to—

And that's when he notices Tony's lips being an odd shade of pink.

Steve tries not to think of the possibility of Tony and Morse doing that. Maybe Tony ate a snow cone or drank one of those colorful iced drinks—

“—didn’t have sex if that’s what you’re—”

Wait, what?

“Wait, what?” Steve says out loud. No one seems to notice his outburst.

Clint seems to share Steve's disgust. “I didn’t need to know that—”

“We just made out in the parking lot—”

At least it wasn’t the Ferris wheel, Steve thinks hysterically.

“Didn’t need to know that either.”

“But—”

“Nope. Zip it. Save it for the wedding.” Clint pauses, puckering. “Ew. I have to attend my ex-girlfriend and my friend’s wedding. Gross. Bobbi would totally make me her maid of honor because she’s a cruel—”

“You have my heartiest felicitations!” Thor cries, banging his fist on the coffee table. It’s a good thing Tony reinforced it not long ago. “May your love be enduring and may you both be blessed with many babes—”

Bruce chuckles. Natasha hides her smile behind her cards. Clint looks downright horrified. Steve can’t imagine what his expression is because what the hell.

Tony snickers. “Hate to burst your bubble but there won’t be any wedding on the horizon between the both of us.”

A combination of disappointment and relief floods through Steve. At least he knows now Steve isn’t Tony’s type.

And that's a good thing. A very, very good thing.

Thor pouts but there’s a twinkle behind his eyes.

God, what did Steve do in his previous life to be stuck with a bunch of trolls as friends and teammates?

“But she was fun,” Tony continues. “It was fun.” He shakes his head, slapping Clint upside his head. “God, I can’t believe you fucked that up.”

“I know,” Clint says wistfully. “I know.”

 

 

 


 

 

 

4.

 

As much as Steve dislikes each and every moment of Operation: Get Tony To Stop Moping By Finding Him True Love, he’s been dreading Natasha’s turn.

He's nursed this feeling the moment she agrees to let Clint go first without a fight. Being the accomplished spy that she is, she’s definitely going to set Tony up with someone that he’ll fall head over heels for. Someone who’s Tony’s match in every way possible.

Someone who’s Tony’s soulmate.

Even Tony seems to think so. He slides into his usual seat between Steve and Natasha the day after his date with Bobbi, pulling a plate of omelet towards him.

“I have high hopes for you, Romanoff.”

Natasha doesn’t even look up from her book to acknowledge him. “Don’t worry. I have just the person in mind.”

Steve’s fears only get worse as the days go by. Unlike the rest, she’s tight-lipped, refusing to divulge the identity of Tony’s date or any details about the date. The only thing she’s willing to share is that she'll be stopping by the Tower to pick Tony up.

So like the idiot he is, Steve spends his time recalling the names and faces Natasha might possibly know and call upon.

Would it a SHIELD agent? One of the X-Men? Heck, it could be a civilian.

As usual, Natasha subverts all of Steve’s expectations.

Because the person on their helipad is someone he would never, ever picture being a potential partner for Tony.

Tony can’t— He can’t be—

“Didn’t expect a welcome party, damn,” Johnny Storm says, clambering out of the Fantasti-Car.

Steve pinches his side, expecting to wake to darkness and be drenched in cold sweat. He remains rooted on the helipad, meeting Storm's smirk.

Storm’s notoriously known for being a huge flirt. Hell, Steve’s seen him in action more times than he should. But never with a man.

So of course being the tactful man he is, Steve handles this new revelation with much grace.

“You’re not straight?!”

He feels Thor nudge his side.

Storm pauses, clenching his jaw. “Got a problem with that, gramps?”

Steve bristles at that. “Of course not. I just— I just didn’t know you like men.”

Or Tony. Tony never told me he’s—he’s—

The fire in Storm’s eyes diminishes at that, his posture relaxing. Steve’s thankful. Pepper and SHIELD will kill him for trying to fistfight the Human Torch on the helipad of Avengers' Tower.

“I haven’t gone on a date with a guy in a while. Probably haven’t since you got defrosted, I think.” He shrugs. “So I can’t be mad at you about it.”

Before anyone could reply to that, footsteps approach them.

“Sorry for the tardiness,” Tony says. He juts his thumb in Natasha’s direction. “Blame her for the holdup.”

She crosses her arms. “I’m not the one with stubborn hair.”

“Uh-huh, sure. I’m not the one who insisted I go through ten pairs of shoes.” Tony's eyes rake over Storm, drinking him in. “Wow. You look… Wow.”

Storm grins. “You don’t look so bad yourself.”

Once again, Tony outdoes himself, dressed in a T-shirt-blazer combo, along with dark jeans and dress shoes. Steve isn’t sure whose idea it is but he hates them for it and he hates everything about this situation, fuck.

Tony rolls his eyes. “Very funny. I hope you’re not taking me to an open mic performance. It’ll be embarrassing for the both of us.”

They chatter away with ease as they take their leave. There's an ease in their dynamic, their body language. Like they’ve been friends for years. They might be, considering Tony’s longstanding friendship with Reed Richards. But then again, he hasn't really seen Storm hang around Tony whenever the Fantastic Four cross paths with the Avengers.

On one hand, Steve’s happy that Tony has someone else in his corner. But at the same time, why?

It’s bad enough that all of Tony’s previous dates are all smart and fierce and beautiful and leagues above Steve. But to see him with a man who embodies all of those traits is just...just...

Why Johnny Storm? Why someone who’s blond and blue-eyed? Why someone who’s funny and flirty and confident and everything Steve isn’t?

Why someone who looks exactly like Steve?

Steve doesn’t know how long he stands there, only snapping out of his reverie when Clint calls for his attention.

“You okay, man? You look like you just saw a ghost.”

“I…” He shakes his head, clearing his throat. “Tony’s not straight.”

He could feel Natasha’s studious gaze on him. “Tony’s pansexual.”

“Tony’s pansexual,” Steve echoes, dazed.

Clint frowns. “He’s been out for years, man. It’s all over the Internet. How could you not know?”

Yeah. How could you not know?

God, Steve's stupid. He's so fucking stupid.

“I have to go,” Steve mumbles before dashing off, shrugging off the calls from his friends.

 

 

 


 

 

  

“Captain Rogers, Mr Odinson, Mr Banner, Miss Romanoff, and Mr Barton are requesting entrance.”

Steve sighs. “Is this what it feels like to be Tony?”

“I can’t speak on sir’s feelings,” JARVIS replies. “But if I have to guess, I'd say yes.”

Steve groans.

“I could turn them away if you’d like.”

It's a tempting offer but Steve knows that it's the wrong thing to do.

“I— No. Just let them in. They wouldn’t let me hear the end of it if I don’t.”

He doesn’t bother lifting his head up to greet them, choosing to burrow his face further into his pillow. The bed dips in various places. A soft hand cards through his hair.

“We’re sorry,” Bruce murmurs.

“It’s fine.”

“No, it’s not!” Clint exclaims. “We didn’t—”

“We did not mean to be cruel,” Thor says. It’s the saddest he’s sounded in a long while.

Finally, Steve flops onto his back, peering up into Natasha’s eyes. “I know,” he says sincerely.

She purses her lips. “We thought you weren't acting on your feelings because you were afraid,” she begins softly. “So we thought that this might give you a push. We all thought you knew he’s pan.”

Steve closes his eyes. “I don’t know why I didn’t know either.”

“Didn’t do your research? Very unlike you, Cap.”

“Tony did tell me most of the stuff online about him is crap.”

Bruce snorts. “True.”

Steve huffs. “You guys were trying to make me jealous, huh.”

“Did it work?” Thor asks.

Steve couldn’t help but chuckle at that. “Too well.” He pauses, trying to piece his thoughts together. “But why... Why him?”

“You know why,” Natasha replies. Steve hates that he does. “You should ask Tony out.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. He’s as gone for you as you’re for him.”

“And Johnny?”

“Johnny doesn't hold a candle to you.”

A flicker of hope ignites in Steve’s heart. He ignores it for the moment. The less he indulges in them, the better so he just closes his eyes again and lets Natasha work her magic on him.

The rest of the night is spent in Steve’s bedroom, ordering in pizza and huddling together in a pile as they talk about anything and everything.

It’s nice. Both familiar and different. It’s funny how this is what distracts Steve. Yet his contentment, he can’t help but feels like something’s missing.

“We should do this again with Tony,” Thor says as if reading Steve’s mind. “I would very much like to listen to his tales regarding his tenure at MIT.”

Clint snorts. “It’ll probably be a bunch of bullcrap. We definitely have to have Rhodes over for the deets.”

“Deets?”

“It’s what the kids are saying, Banner. Shut it.”

Steve doesn’t know how much time has passed and he’s pretty sure he’s nodded off a couple of times when he hears the door open.

“Got room for one more?” Tony asks, sounding amused. Just the sound of his voice settles Steve.

It’s a tight fit but they manage to make it work. Tony slots in easily between Steve and Natasha, his face buried in Steve’s chest. It’s everything Steve dreams of.

Of course, without his friends but he’ll take what he can get. It's Tony, after all.

If only he could bury his nose in Tony’s damp hair, take in the fresh scent of apples, or trail his fingers down the nape of Tony’s—

“How was it?” Bruce asks, fatigue lacing his tone.

Tony doesn’t speak for a long moment. “It was good.”

“Just good?”

Tony hums, closing the distance between Steve and him. He lets out a quiet sigh.

Steve doesn’t know what to make of that. There are so many questions on his tongue and scenarios playing out in his head. But then, Thor spins a tale of a mishap between him and Loki and then Steve’s too busy drinking in Tony’s laugh to care.

Because Steve's going to do it. He's going to ask Tony out. And if Tony turns him down, he'll take it in stride and move on. He's done it before and he can do it again.

 

 

 


 

 

 

5.

 

“Do you have anything going on this Friday?”

Tony frowns. “Don’t think so. JARVIS?”

“You have a ten am meeting with Miss Potts and the board members,” JARVIS answers. “You also scheduled a video call with Colonel Rhodes at noon.”

“Cool. That means I’ll be free in the evening. Why?”

Steve squares his shoulders. He’s wasted days trying to psyche himself up, wasted days listening to his friends psyching him up for this moment. He can’t waste this moment. Not again. Not when he knows better now.

Now or never.

“I have a date for you.”

Tony’s eyebrows shoot up, almost dropping the wrench in his grasp. “I thought you weren’t gonna set me up with anyone.”

“Can’t a guy change his mind?” Steve asks, trying hard to not have his resolve waver. “Besides, I have it on good authority that you’ll like them. I mean, unless you and Johnny—”

“Johnny and I aren't going to give another go.”

That answer terrifies and raises Steve's hopes up.

“So, um... Are you going to do it?”

Tony puts on a thoughtful look, whistling lowly. “I won't lie, you got me intrigued. Sure. I'll do it. Just name me the time and place and I’ll be all theirs.”

For the rest of the day, Steve feels like he’s floating on air. Everyone else mercilessly teases him about it. He could barely give a shit.

 

 

 


 

 

 

+1.

 

To say that Steve's nervous is a major understatement. He’s fucking terrified.

It’s one thing to set Tony up on a blind date, but to set Tony up on a blind date with himself? This could go three ways – either Tony gets mad and turns Steve down, Tony feels sorry and turns Steve down, or maybe, just maybe Tony reciprocate Steve’s feelings.

“For the last time, Cap, he will.”

“So you say,” Steve says, pulling his denim shirt on

“So I say,” Clint affirms from Steve’s couch. “I mean, when have I been wrong?”

Thor brightens as he continues to stuff his face with Cheerios. “There was the once when we fought the Wrecking Crew and you said—”

“Can we not bring that up?”

Thor's brow furrows. “Forgive me but I was under the impression that—”

“Bye, guys.”

Thor and Clint whip their heads in his direction, flashing him four thumbs-up.

“You got this in the bag, man. Go get your man.”

“We shall wait for your return and hope for the news of your impending nuptials—”

“We’re not going to get married, Thor,” Steve says exasperatedly.

Clint smirks. “So you say.”

Steve rolls his eyes, making a beeline for the elevator. Clint and Thor pile in after.

He scowls. “Why’re you guys following me?”

“Moral support.”

Thor agrees between mouthfuls of cereal. Steve just sighs.

Tony’s waiting for him in his penthouse, conversing with Natasha and Bruce. The three of them swerve their heads in his direction as he approaches.

There’s nothing special about Tony’s outfit (sweatshirt, dark jeans, and a pair of high-tops). In fact, it's a getup he's seen on him many times before. Yet Steve’s heart stutters as if he’s seeing him for the first time. At this rate, his heart is going to give out before he could take Tony out.

“You do know you guys don’t need to be hanging around me, right?” Tony remarks. “Don’t you guys have better things to do?”

“Nope,” Clint drawls. “We have nothing better to do.”

“I can tell.” Tony’s eyes dart to Steve. “Well, you cleaned up nicely. Gotta hot date yourself too?”

Steve swallows, doing his best to tamp his nerves down. “I, uh… Yeah.”

Behind Tony, Natasha face-palms. Bruce rubs his temples.

“Oh,” Tony says, his brow creasing. “Is it—”

“You.”

Tony stills. “Excuse me?

Natasha immediately curls her fingers around Clint and Thor’s wrists, tugging them towards the elevator. Bruce hurries after her. “And there’s our cue.”

“Have fun, boys!” Clint calls over his shoulder. “Use protect— Okay, okay. I’m going. Jeez, Bruce. Chill—”

An awkward silence shrouds them, only broken when the elevator closes shut.

“Is this some kind of sick joke?”

Steve’s eyes widen. The last thing he expects to see is humiliation on Tony’s face.

“No! Of course not! I’d never— I’d never joke about something like that. I—”

“This isn’t a pity date, is it? ‘Cause let me tell you—”

“God no!”

Tony freezes. It’s only then Steve realizes that his hands are resting on Tony’s shoulders. He pulls away quickly, hastily apologizing as he buries them in his jeans' pockets.

“I like you,” he confesses quietly. “I’ve liked you for a long time.”

Tony's eyes widen. They're so brown. “Why didn’t you say something earlier?” he murmurs.

“I didn’t know you’re pan.”

“Steve,” Tony begins exasperatedly. “I’ve been out for years. It’s all over the internet.”

Heat begins to creep up Steve’s neck. “I know that now.

“Please don’t tell me you only found out when I was on a date with your doppelganger.” Something must’ve shown on Steve’s face because Tony pales. “Jesus, Steve.”

“Yeah.”

“Fuck.”

“Yeah.” Steve rubs the back of his neck. “Look, we don’t have to go out. I’ll just—”

“Why wouldn’t we go out?”

A small flicker ignites at the pits of Steve’s gut. “I thought—”

Tony shakes his head, a smile spreading across his lips. “I like you too, you big dork. I’ve liked you for over a year.”

Steve’s pulse begins to race. “But—But I thought— Pepper—”

“You thought I was hung up over Pepper.” Tony exhales. “Steve, I told you—”

“I know,” he interrupts. “I just— I just thought you were saying it to make me feel better. And everyone said you were! They said you were crying to Inception!”

Tony snorts. “I wasn’t crying to Inception. I’m pretty sure the rest of the gang said all that to make you cave in. Or jealous. Maybe jealous.” He frowns. “I just realized that you’re a crazy jealous bastard when you want to be.”

“I’m not—”

“You totally are! Sif, Bobbi, and Johnny mentioned that you kept glaring at them. Not to mention how rude you were to all of them. Bobbi was ready to throw hands. Sif and Johnny wouldn’t stop laughing about it.”

Steve groans, burying his face in his hands. “Oh god.”

Tony smirks. “Yeah. Good thing you didn’t meet Jen ‘cause let me tell you. She’ll kick your ass right there and then. Bruce would definitely help out. And the Hulk.

“Fuck.”

He snickers. “On the bright side, you got me now.”

“It’s not funny, Tony,” Steve mutters as Tony pries his hands away, and god, has his eyes always been this brown? Has his lips has always been this pink, felt this soft? Fuck, they’re so soft.

“You know,” Tony murmurs against his lips, “I almost agreed to a second date with Johnny. He was fun. He made me laugh. And he’s a good kisser—”

“Tony—”

“But then, I realized I’d just be using him as a replacement for you.”

Steve rears back. “What—”

Tony’s lips quirk to the side. “C’mon. You know you guys look alike.”

“I know. That’s not what I meant. Why would you—”

“I just didn’t think I could have you,” Tony replies simply, easy like breathing.

Steve frowns. “If this is about me being Cap—”

“That’s one thing but I—” Tony laughs, running his fingers through his hair. Steve has never wanted something as much as he wants Tony right now. “I thought you were straight.”

“I’m not,” Steve says, feeling a little offended.

“I know that now,” Tony echoes, grinning as he snakes his arms around Steve’s neck. “Now I have you.”

Steve mirrors him, pressing Tony closer to his chest, his heart feeling like it's about to burst. “Now you have me.”

“You’re all mine,” Tony murmurs, sending a shiver down Steve’s spine. “No one else’s.”

“As long as you don’t plan on going on dates with Storm again.”

Tony cocks an eyebrow. “Storm? I’ve never gone out with Ororo before. You know what? If things go south—”

“Things won’t go south.”

“And you know this how? I’m the futurist here. I—”

Steve hums. “Call it a hunch,” he drawls before pulling Tony into another kiss.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Their date isn’t anywhere fancy, just their favorite diner on the outskirts of Manhattan. The interesting thing Steve noticed throughout the whole night is that it feels exactly like every other dinner they’ve gone out to, just the two of them. They'd always be chatting and bickering, making plans for after and next time, and stealing food off each other’s plates.

Except for the making out part. That’s new.

Very, very new.

It's not a surprise to find the rest of the Avengers are lounging in Tony’s penthouse when Steve and Tony return. Definitely not a surprise to see them with smirks on as Steve stumbles in with Tony’s legs wrapped around his waist.

“Had fun?” Clint drawls.

“The most,” Tony replies, his voice muffled by Steve’s shoulder. “And we’re gonna have more fun, so unless you wanna—”

“I’d rather not bleach my eyes,” Bruce replies mildly, darting off. “Thanks for the heads-up. And congrats.”

The other three are much smugger about the whole thing, clapping them on the shoulder and telling them under no circumstances can they have sex anywhere but their own bedrooms. Steve has never felt this mortified and turned on in his life.

“You’re terrible,” he breathes out when their friends make a beeline for the elevator.

Tony scoffs. “You say that now, but when I have you screaming my name—”

Guys!”

“Bedroom?” Steve offers.

“Bedroom,” Tony agrees.

Much to Steve’s mild annoyance and Tony’s glee, Steve does end up screaming Tony’s name later.

But then Tony does it twice the next morning so they're even.