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Stray Minutes

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Steve tells himself that he goes to the roof to watch the fireworks. Which is true, but that isn't the only reason. The crush of people downstairs, flowing around him in their expensive clothes, talking very fast, and tugging him around to meet people he doesn't know. No matter how many times he ends up at places like this, he can't get used to it. He just...needed some air.

So he's on the roof, high enough that he can't even hear the traffic, and it's peaceful - which probably isn't the point of New Year's Eve. But he doesn't really know most of the people downstairs, even though they seem to know all about him. It's weird talking to people who know everything about you. It's almost like you've failed the conversation before you start.

"Hey, you skipping out on my party?"

Steve turns around, and Tony's at the top of the stairs, leaning casually against the wall, like it isn't going to leave a smudge on his suit. Like it wouldn't dare. And, yeah, Steve feels guilty, because it hadn't felt like that at all. He finds himself trying to stand up, isn't sure exactly why.

"No, no, it was just...really busy down there." He gestures back downstairs, as if Tony hadn't noticed. Which he had, obviously.

"Haven't New Year's parties always been like that?"

Steve shrugs. "I don't really know, I missed a lot of them."

Tony makes a noise which sounds a lot like a laugh, but at the same time isn't one. He hands Steve one of the delicate glasses he's holding, fills it up. Steve feels a lot more awkward holding it than Tony looks, fingers too heavy on the glass, which feels paper thin. Tony sets himself down beside him, without waiting for him to move across the bench and make room. He's warm through his inky-black suit, a line of pressure against Steve's arm. It feels oddly reassuring, though Steve knows, distantly, that Tony should be downstairs, since this is his party. This is exactly his type of party, it isn't Steve's, and he feels a little guilty about that as well. Though he can't explain that either.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to...disappear." If he'd known Tony would come looking for him he might have said something, or stayed a little longer. But Tony doesn't look disappointed, he just pours himself another drink - and tops up Steve's glass, even though he hasn't drunk any of it yet.

"Hey, I'm the last person to force someone to mingle if they don't feel like it. But it's nearly midnight, you know, there are a considerable number of young, available, beautiful people downstairs who would like to take horrible advantage of you." Tony pauses. "I made that sound like a bad thing, didn't I? Please don't take it that way."

Steve smiles, he can't help it. Tony's voice just rolls and rolls, even when he's not saying anything at all, and Steve likes listening to it.

"They were kind of making me feel like the shrimp canapes," he admits.

"Which are delicious." Tony knocks his shoulder with his glass, and Steve's half afraid it's going to break, but Tony clearly knows how to do things that he never could, because it doesn't.

"I think you just made my point for me," Steve says with a nod.

"That you don't want to be eaten, or you don't want to be delicious?" Tony's smiling, a proper smile, and it suits him. He should wear it more often.

"I don't want to be...taken advantage of." Steve winces, because he's fairly sure that was a stupid thing to say. "That sounded better in my head."

"I could forbid it, if you like. It's my party, and people are used to me making outrageous demands. I would have suggested we get Thor to chaperone you, but he's had far too much to drink. I'm afraid he'll take his duties too seriously, and someone will get broken. I think he was hugged too much as a child. He's far too enthusiastic."

Steve laughs, because Thor is very enthusiastic, and that may be one of the things Steve likes best about him.

The fireworks are suddenly loud, and bright, Steve can hear the people three floors down cheering, and he thinks it's a new year, and everything that made him who he is seems a really long way away.

Tony salutes the explosion of colour, and tips his glass up. Steve empties his own glass, and the taste of champagne is still sharp and not exactly pleasant.

"Everyone downstairs is probably kissing right now," Tony says, managing to sound annoyed and amused at the same time. "I would offer, but your sensibilities would probably be offended."

Something twists into a strange knot in Steve's stomach. He can still taste champagne, and it's very warm all of a sudden.

"I wouldn't be offended." He's pretty sure his mouth says that without his consent. He can hear the thud of his own pulse, like his body expects to fight something, or run very fast. Just because it's been improved doesn't mean it isn't still stupid sometimes.

He expects Tony to ask if he's serious, or to make a joke. But instead he just offers his glass.

"Hold that."

Steve takes it without even thinking about it, and for a second he's holding two glasses, and wondering why. Then there's a hand in his hair, turning his head, and then tilting down. It takes him a second to realise that Tony's pulled him into the perfect position to kiss him, and then he does. It's warm, and different, and Steve's pretty sure you're not supposed to kiss for this long, that there's some sort of rule when it stops being a kiss and starts being - a different sort of kiss. Tony winds a hand round the back of his neck, and Steve could break away if he wanted to - but he doesn't, and it's all a little confusing, and a little exciting. Tony is very persuasive, even without words, and Steve follows wherever he's pushed, because he wants to see where this goes.

He's going to break the delicate little glasses, he's going to crush them into sand.

But he doesn't, and then Tony's gone, and his mouth is cold.

Tony takes his glass back - then makes an unhappy noise, mutters something about 'taking advantage' that Steve mostly misses, because the fireworks are still going off. Then Tony straightens Steve's tie.

"You coming back downstairs?"

Steve nods numbly, and lets Tony pull him off the bench.