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11 Blocks (To Get to You)

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Tony sighed into his glass, glaring the directon of the door which was opening. Only one other person kept a key to his penthouse these days and she would only put an end to his current content drunken state.
"Tony! Where the actual fuck have you been?" Pepper raved, wasting no time on pleasantries. " I don't appreciate being left waiting for you in a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT COUNTRY for three solid days." She was ranting, on a roll now, not even noticing he was still drinking heavily from his vodka bottle. She was going off on him about missing his press conference, as if he actually cared about that publicity shit. Finally, it seemed she had remembered she was actually in the room wth him turning, taking in his haggard appearance and copious amounts of alcohol strewn about.
"Hi, Pep. How was your trip?" It came out bitter, though Tony couldn't remember if he had meant it to or not.
"Hey, pe- Tony you look like absolute hell," She spluttered at me." I thought we talked about your quote unquote drinking problem! I thought you were doing better."
He scoffed at her raising the bottle to take another swig. Pepper grabbed the bottle from his hand, looking at him lost for words.
"You haven't gone this far overboard... since Steve," She said, near whispering the last of it.
"Wow, since Steven. I've been far too good haven't I." His tone bitter he reached down, going for the whiskey at his feet. "It's been a long time."
***************
5 years earlier
"Shit, I'm late! So very, very late. Goddamnit, Jarvis!"
'Yes Sir" The AI replied.
"Set up a reminder that I need to make my own line of alarm clocks that aren't pieces of shit," the flustered teen slammed out.
'Right away sir. Also, I do believe you may have missed every bus and shuttle to the school. Shall I call the car around?'
"No I'll walk to the godforsaken place, its as if they think theres more they can teach me. You already placed the order for my coffee, right?"
'Of course sir, I would never dream of keeping you from your life blood."
"Remind me again why I made you so snarky?" The young college student yelled as he stumbled out the door, not so gracefully falling on his ass in an attempt to pull on his shoe while moving.
'I believe you said it made me more relatable, Sir'
"Well it was an awful decision," Tony muttered as he fell onto the street in front of his apartment, squinting at the noon high sun. It seemed to Tony that it was either going to be a running kind of day or a perpetually running late kind of day, and lets just say the only running Tony does is behind and if theres a scary ass thing chasing him. 'Late it is' Tony chuckles not entirely to himself, judging by the concerned look he was getting from the little old lady to the left of him.
"Good Morning," Tony said brightly, thinking all the while 'thats right lady, 'm a sane functioning member of society'.
Unfortunately Tony's show of sanity came out a little shark like, scaring the grandmother into a movement not unlike a trot. It drew a snort from Tony, himself.
Turning himself around a couple times Tony finally points himself in the direction of his favourite coffee place, Muggings and a Latte Other Grinds. Yes it did draw him in by the awful puns originally but they have a truly glorious Irish Cream Breve that he's continued to go back for. Pepper's the only one who really changes up her order. She's gotten through at least a third of their menu by now and has vowed to have tried everything on it at least once by the end of the semester. Pepper is his only friend at school, in part because of his dad and the other part is the media portrays him as some kind of asshole all because his mom refuses to allow interviews or even photoshoots. She says its to protect him from the family fame for as long as possible, let him have a normal childhood. It would have been the perfect plan except for the fact that no one else had the name Anthony Edward Stark at MIT. And unfortunately birth records are qute easy for reporters to track down. Unfortunately for Tony, Pepper was literally the only one willing to figure out whether the gossip collumns were accurate by actually talking to the person, see Tony, and by the time Pepper had wormed her way in, suggesting Tony go by Tony rather than Anthony it was too late to make any other friends. The damage was done.
As Tony walks into the dinky shop he's roused from his thoughts by the pungent aroma of coffee gounds and the undercurrent of cinnamin this prticular shop always seemed to have. His name is being called, perfect timing as always, and Pepper is standing by the counter tapping one heeled toe impatiently.
"There you are, I've been waiting for" quick glance at watch." 30 some odd minutes, If you weren't doing something productive ie homework or painting that damned apartment than I don't want to hear it." She huffed out as Tony made grabby hands for his coffee. The barista chuckled, handing it over along with the warmed croissant he always threw in his order.
Pepper glared the poor girl down, then when she seemed properly cowed, turned the terrifying gaze on Tony. Her eyebrows raised and tilted in a way that clearly said 'Do you have anything to say for yourself?'
Tony swallowed down his gulp of coffee aprehensively. "Look, Pep I'm sor-"
"Nope, not one of the two things listed above. Fuck it we're going to be late anyways, we're skipping our first classes and I'm going to escort you to an art shop. You are to leave only if you have purchased an artwork of some kind or have commissioned an artist to paint at least one of your walls pretty." Pepper's tone leaves no room for argument, but honestly when has that ever stopped Tony.
"But, Pepper!"
"Nope, no buts from you. You've been living there for three years Tones, Three! And never once have you made even the slightest attempt to make it yours."
"I bought a rug, and throw pillows!"Tony spoke up for his home, indignant.
"Actually Tony I bought those for you and set them up when you went to Europe with your mom last year," Pepper sighed, a clear sign of exasperation. Pepper turned at the sound of her name being started, cutting of the barista by snatching up her cup."Alright my lovely, lets make your bachelor pad entertainment ready" She chirped, dragging a groaning Tony by the elbow out of the coffee shop.
Pepper crossed the street, getting herself and Tony honked at by jaywalking in front of the garishly coloured Bug.Tony was part surprised, part endlessly relieved that Pepper seemed to be leading him to a shop just ahead of them. Tony must have walked in front of this gallery about a thousand times, how he'd missed it all this time was well maybe not too suprising but upsetting at the least.
He followed behind Pepper, taking his time. The shop was well lit, most of the outer walls were glass. It was all soft grays and light blues allowing the art on the walls to be the main event. The next thing that Tony laid eyes on though had him stopping in his tracks completely.

Chapter Text

"Oh my god! Pep there's a cat," Tony squealed a little. He fell to his knees in front of the tiny creature, wrapping it up in his arms.
Tony looks up to see Pepper facepalming, a position the red head had found herself in more often than not since befriending the younger genius.
"Tony... I was really hoping you'd maybe take some time to look at art we came here for," She finally responds when Tony has laid down with the cat on his chest, trying his best to purr back at the kitten.
"Don't get too attached now," a deep, friendly voice came from further back in the store. His voice made Tony's heart beat faster and a shiver went up his spine at the gravely tone in it. "I'm quite fond of her, though she seems quite taken with you already."
Tony's sure he's panting like a horny (younger than he currently was) teenager at the sight of the hunk in front of him. At least 6"2' with bronze skin and muscles the size of Tony's head. He truly was something out of a ongoing jerk off fantasy, except for maybe the blonde hair. Tony prefers darker hair on his Greek gods, and boy was this man worthy of immortality. When the man starts talking again Tony finds he can't focus on a word he's saying, but his salivary glands, eyes, and frantically beating heart seem to be working just fine. Tony is still n a daze when the room falls silent again, he shakes himself a bit.
"HHuh?" He starts with, the picture of intelligence.
Fantasy man chuckles, and his laugh is so rich and warm that it makes Tony feel five seconds away from cumming in his too-tight jeans.
"I said, my name's Steve I own and run this gallery. Can I help you find anything or set you up with an artist?" Fantasy ma- Steve replied.
"Umn, right yeah, uh art," Tony had to hold himself back from simply asking if Steve was for sale, a question that would surely would have granted him a smack upside the head from his resident best/only friend.
"Yeah, art," Steve smirked at him.
"He's looking for something to make his giant apartment look a little more like someone actually lives in it." Pepper cut in her eyes rolling.
"Right yes! I'm gonna need something large, expensive, and with enough personality to get her off my back for at least the next year." Tony ducked to avoid the incoming swat with a smile.
"Well we've got some bigger pieces over on the back two walls if you'd like to take a look at those, and there are a few smaller pieces that were painted as a series and would look good altogether covering a big wall," Steve said saving Tony from another oncoming attack.
"Yes we'll take a look at both please," Pepper responded before Tony could even get his mouth open. And as though they weren't shopping for him anymore Pepper dragged Tony to his feet, cat still in hand, and forcefully pushed him in the direction Steve was going.
A little too forcefully because next thing Tony knows Steve has stopped and he has not. Pepper somehow had avoided the collision she caused, how Tony wasn't really sure. And to be honest he didn't really care, barely thinking from his place pressed against Steve's muscled torso (and really it wasn't fair that a person could have that much muscle just in their back). For what felt like hours they simply stood there Tony's cheek pressed between Steve's shoulder blades, until Pepper had to go ruin the moment with a rather (un)subtle cough. Steve shifted forward and turned at the sound.

"Sorry," Tony muttered. He shuffled back as Steve simply smiled lightly and gestured to the wall next to them saying something about the series on it fitting well on his wall. Tony ignored the remainder of his tour around the small gallery, instead choosing to further examine and drool over Steve's gorgeous physique. When the room around him became void of Steve's deep, sultry tone Tony was steadily dragged back to the present and realized that yet again he had missed an key component of the conversation. Both Pepper and Steve were looking at him expectantly.
"Are you one of the artists? I mean do you take commissions? I mean would you do a mural?" Tony's questions spilled out as if they couldn't decide who should come first. He looked down to the floor to hide the heat he could feel rising in his cheeks.
"I am, I do, and only if you bring me a signed release from the landlord."
"He is the landlord," Pepper shared now filing her nails as if that wasn't big news. Steve laughed thinking it was a joke, but sobered quickly when he realized neither of them were joking with him.
"How is that possible, you're like 16 years old!"
"I am in college! Thank you very much."
Steve had his face in his hand and looked like he was having a minor mental breakdown. He took a deep breath and scrubbed his hand up through the hair and down to the back of his neck.
"My fee is usually pretty high because of my skill level and if the wall is big and depending on what you want on it the fee might have to be larger. And I'm not even counting in supplies."
"That's really not going to be a problem, trust me," Tony assured.
"I mean the price could end upwards of $50,000," Steve sounded like he was stressed by the number himself.
"Really Steve it'll be fine. Lets worry about you checking out the wall and the colors at my place. See if you even want to work the project."
"Alright, ok. When do you want me to drop by?"