The diner was relatively small. The counter took up majority of the space when you walked inside and the tables were along the wall, one row of six tables and each one with two chairs. Steve always sat at the counter, smiling as wide as he could as he sipped his coffee and listened to his favorite podcast. Steve stepped inside to see a table, third one from the back wall, occupied by a familiar face.
The long haired brunette waitress smiled at Steve. "Morning, Dr. Rogers."
"Good morning, Jane." He responded. They shared a face, excitement and uncertainty, a private conversation that was solely made up with expressions.
Tony smiled, eyes tired as he stood to his feet to greet the blonde. He wore a graphic tee with BLACK SABBATH printed on the front, his jeans were dark washed, and as simple as he looked, he still managed to look amazing. Steve liked Tony’s simple attire, lacking the sign of too much thought or wanting to impress.
"Morning." Tony said.
"Good morning to you." Steve replied as he sat across from the brown eyed man. And what eyes they were. It took willpower not to stare but it was a date. Dates were made for staring and awkward giggles, Steve mused.
"How was work?" Tony inquired, stirring the spoon around in his coffee cup loosely.
Steve watched his every move. It all seemed so careful and fluent. The same way that movies zoomed in too close on eyelashes or arm hair - this was that moment. The sun kissed Tony's skin in a way that made him glow. "It was something. Guy cut his finger off with his own knife just to see if the blood would squirt like it does in movies, fyi: it does. Uh, a woman got a cucumber stuck inside of her and she was so tense that we had to basically drug her to get her to sleep. And I fell asleep in the bathroom because the interns were having sex in the on-call room."
Tony's eyes were wide as he slowly said, "Wow. I was not the highlight of your day at all." They both laughed, Tony's more comical while Steve's was more nervous.
Steve waved for Jane's attention before he stated, "Trust me, you were the highlight of my day."
An eyebrow was raised. "Really? How so?"
Jane poured the coffee and stared a hole into the side of Steve's head. He glanced up at her as she mouthed, "he's so hot."
Steve smiled before drawing his attention back to the other man. "For one, I didn't know if you were honestly interested. I couldn't wrap my mind around that the entire day." He partially lied as sipped the coffee. Black and plain, that was how he always believed it was meant to be enjoyed. "Two, you had a way better personality than my other patients. Lastly," he hesitated, another nervous laugh before he thought about the previous morning, "you have a nice butt."
Tony stared at the blonde, his eyebrows raised and his face blank before the Cheshire smile spread across his face and a deep laugh escaped his lungs. It was hearty, and contagious, leaving Steve to begin chuckling himself.
"At least I'm barking up the right tree." Tony said through slow laughs. " I still find you to be the most attractive man I've ever seen. That's really saying a lot since I look at myself everyday."
Tony smiled widely. It was clear to Steve that though Tony seemed very cocky it was all just an act. Steve took some pride at the hospital in being the one who could sniff out those who were drug fiends and those who needed them to survive. Those who would act sick or in pain were the addicts. As for those who weren't, they hid their pain, covering it with weak smiles and failed attempts to make jokes. That was Tony and Steve could tell; mostly because Steve also was someone who hid his pain. There was so much that he wondered in that moment, too. Would they become something? Why is it that Natasha can talk him into basically running into an erupting volcano and Steve would do it while stomping his feet like a child? Was Tony someone he could see himself with?
"I agree." Steve stated with his hand gripping the coffee cup. It was time for them to change the pace, Steve sipped the warm beverage before speaking. "Why don't you tell me something that isn't on your chart."
Tony made a face, unsure of where to begin and what to cover. "Hm, wow, okay. I'm a professor. I teach a computer engineering course at some fancy college that I’m sure I could never afford. I don't like apples; I think that whole skin thing it’s got going on is disgusting. I can dance really well, I like to dance. I'm divorced. I choreographed our wedding dance. I have a son, Peter. He lives with me from time to time and is the reason why I was at the hospital, he nagged me into going. Something I'm more than sure he got from his mother." Tony ran out of facts.
"Son?" The word was odd to say. Sure, he met tons of men who'd adopted sons or impregnated their best friends through a surgical turkey baster but an ex-wife and a son was a rarity. More than anything, it wasn’t something that appeared in his dating history.
Tony felt nervous. "His name is Peter. He's 15 going on 45." The name created a face that resembled an image of the man before him but younger. Above all else, Steve was still missing some pieces. An image of a woman, multiple women, came to mind as Steve tried to think up what his heterosexual preference would be. "Pepper is my ex-wife. We split about a year ago. She knew who I was, what I was about, but she needed help, and so did I, and as hard as it is to explain, we loved one another. I could say I didn't love her like the way you normally love someone but I did. She was my best friend who needed a favor and I was there. I needed some support and tending to and she was there. She wanted a child but didn't want to lay that responsibility in someone else's hands and I loved her, love her. I spent some nights with men because like I said, she knew who I was, but I gave her a child because she fixed me. Now she's married to someone who doesn’t sleep with men and she’s happier than ever."
The images stopped in Steve's mind as the words pulled at his heart strings. "What made you two split?" The curiosity was evident, his eyes sincere while his face blank. Tony smiled a bit as he sank into the chair.
"She met her husband. He understood her, and me, which was really important to her. We divorced, I paid for it. Then I paid for her wedding and walked her down the aisle with Peter. I also choreographed that wedding. Peter likes him and he loves Peter, which was very important to me. I like seeing her happy even though her husband is three kinds of stupid in my opinion but all that matters is she thinks the sun shines out his ass. It's been a year now so after months of being nagged, I'm looking for my sunshiny ass to praise."
The silence was needed, though it didn't feel so silent. The two were staring at one another with stupid grins and pink cheeks. Steve didn't want to ruin the moment by talking or adding his needless commentary. This was that small instant in life where he felt secure and confident, where he wasn't concerned about Bucky and Sam, where he finally felt good about something again. Tony felt good to him. Steve didn't trust himself; messing up everything once before, it was this fear deep down inside of him that he'd continue to mess up everything except for this (if this were to be a this). Still, it was good for him.
"My fiance left me because I work too much.” Steve didn’t know where the words spiralled from but he felt lighter after saying it. It didn’t need much explanation. Steve dug his hand into his pocket as he felt the ring float between his fingers. "He helped me study a lot when we were in college, he always said that our careers wouldn't get in the way and ... he lied." Sipping his coffee, Steve looked out the window as the truth settled in.
Tony took a long sip from his coffee before letting out a quick huff. “Well that fucking blows.”
Steve smiled, shaking his head as he thought of the chain of events leading up to the split. “I saw it coming. It’s like knowing when the two trains left the station but not knowing when they’ll collide.”
“Though, you could mathematically figure that out. It’s complicated depending on if the two are leaving trains stations from different time zones though once you calculate the hours that it’d take for each …” Tony caught the look on Steve's face. He smirked at his spout of smarts as he waved his hand, the international sign of carry on, while he did his best to wash away the embarrassment.
Leaning back into his chair, Steve licked his lips. “How old are you?” His voice was playfully curious.
“Twenty-seven.” Steve said into his cup.
Tony laughed lowly. “Eek. Would your father approve?”
Steve shrugged. “If he were around? No.”
“And your mother?”
“Heh,” he said as he placed the cup down, leaning back into his chair to ponder upon the thought. “I think she was still having a hard enough time accepting that I was marrying my best friend, not sure how she would’ve taken me dating someone twice my age.”
“Don’t forget married, divorced and has a son.” Tony said into his cup as well.
“I rest my case.”
The two laughed, Steve waved Jane over for more coffee.
The sounds of repeated, hard footsteps could be heard throughout the small three bedroom home. It was noon, the sun high in the sky and the news on the television with closed caption for the preoccupied man to read while he ran.
“When’s the real date?”
Tony laughed slighty. The treadmill was his sick obsession, running with the bluetooth attached to his ear as he ran until his legs ached. Pepper was on the other line unloading groceries when she stopped to wait for his answer.
“Tomorrow night, maybe. We hit it off. It was great.” Tony answered. Pepper sighed in relief. Tony knew she was smiling, one of those things he picked up on after many years of marriage.
“I really hope this all works for you, Tony.” Her smile was more evident when she spoke.
"I don't know. I'm more than sure he likes me, and God, I'm in awe by him, but … he's 27 years old."
"Tony, no." Pepper replied, shocked.
"I know, I know. I thought he was at least 30 something. I'm not sure what's in the water these days but even that Stacy girl looks 20 something."
Pepper grunted, still leaning against the counter. "Did you tell him about Peter and I?"
"Of course, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I left that out. He just got out of his own mess." Tony stammered out between heavy breaths.
"Like what?" She asked while resuming her task.
"Ex-fiance left him because he's a doctor. I don't think he's over the guy but he's trying to move on."
"He's the one that treated you at the hospital right?" She gasped.
Slowing down his run, he huffed as he spoke. "Dr. McTight Ass with nice hair."
"Well, you have to let Peter meet him at some point. He's the man in your life who gets the ultimate say so." Her voice was confident.
Suddenly, she was quiet. Tony knew what was coming. "Tony, don't forget to tell him the truth about ... ya'know. Be honest with him, he's a good one from the sounds of it."
The treadmill stopped underneath him. Placing his hands on his hips, he struggled to catch a breath. "Pepper," he sighed, "I will. I promise, just let me get to know him first, okay? I'll be honest with him, trust me. Now let me speak to Peter.”
The on-call room was empty, peaceful even, yet Steve struggled to catch a wink of sleep. Perhaps it was because Bucky had been over the previous morning, collecting his belongings as he, and Sam, tip toed around the always-on-edge Steve but it failed, as always. From an exchange of words to a yelling match, Steve found himself alone in the apartment on the floor gasping for air after he screamed himself into an almost hysteria. This was his new normal, being alone at his lowest peak with little to no oxygen left in his tired lungs. Bucky was once one of his strengths, his rock and security, his voice of reason, and the purpose behind all he did. Now it was all different. Bucky was his weakness, the one thing that left him feeling void and torn apart on the inside.
Lying with an arm draped over his eyes, Steve couldn't escape one small detail: during his sexual rampage of desperation and loneliness, Tony was all he could think about. It was easy to imagine him and the older man in a nice fantasy but instead Tony was on his mind for other reasons. Steve thought about him because he had questions so many unanswered questions on his mind. What was he to do with a man like Tony? Steve, at his current state, was weak, fragile really. He had such little to offer to a relationship? Would they date only for the company of one another or because they aspired for something more? Was all of this was because they wanted a change of pace from their normal suitors or partners? Could Steve even see himself with someone like Tony? Without a doubt, he liked the man. There was much about him that Steve felt a pull, an inevitable force of gravity lunging him in Tony's direction. Steve knew he wasn't ready for love again but Tony felt like a safe bet. Perhaps it was the family man trait, the fact that he had more than himself to look out for. Perhaps it was his boyish charm, the arrogance and sarcasm was as much of a turn on and it was a turn off.
In that moment, Steve felt dirty. It was bad enough he felt guilty for having sex the night before with some stranger since he had his mind on Tony since the day they met. Of course he was caught up in Bucky and Sam, the misplaced feelings about his over moving on quicker than he could accept that they were actually over but Tony was a getaway, a safe haven in a way. They spoke in text messages, sharing ridiculous photos of themselves throughout their mundane days, and Steve honestly enjoyed it. It was wrong to sexualize him, to fantasize about the man he barely knew but Steve felt his length growing uncomfortable behind the fabric of his scrubs and his guilt was washing away as quick as his erection was growing. Right now wasn't the time nor the place but the idea of Tony taking care of him. It was a fantasy that Steve shamefully harbored. He was a man that took care of everyone and everything but Tony was older, wiser, and qualified in the field of taking care of someone.
His voice was like velvet as he whispered into Steve's ear. "Don't worry, doc, you're in good hands now." Steve smiled, rubbing at the bulge with his free hand. Steve wanted Tony to kiss his ready lips, pulling him closer as he tried to rid the two of every square inch of space. Tony would then run his hand down Steve's shirt, pulling at the strings of his pants before pulling the knot loose. Steve did just that, his arm still draped over his eyes as the fantasy continued to play itself out. His chest rising and falling with steady breaths of the idea of Tony's hand replacing his own. This is what it felt like to be taken care of, Steve thought. Licking his dry lips as stroked the shaft to the thought of Tony's pink lips leaving warm, wet kisses from Steve's ear, down this neck, around to his muscular chest that was chiseled with pecs and abs. A low moan escaped his partially parted lips. It all felt wrong but Steve wished for it to be the same for him. He hoped, even wished, Tony would catch himself in the shower, slowly stroking his erection to the idea of Steve being there behind him. Kissing his neck softly or whispering sweet nothings as he took control. Steve liked the idea of being wanted in every sense of the term. Maybe it was the brigade of one night stands, his unquenchable sex drive but Steve thrived on the thought of being wanted, desired, and ultimately, loved. There was no way Tony didn’t want him. Steve remembered the look his eyes, the joy and desire, the dying need to stare at one another until the room felt like it was spinning. In fact, with Steve continuing to stroke the shaft of his erected penis, the room did just that.
The sudden vibration of his phone brought him back to reality. Quickly pulling his hand from his pants, he began to pat around the bed to find the device. Beneath the pillow, he fumbled the phone before clearing his voice to answer.
"Hello?" It came out raspy and harsh.
"Did I wake you?" Tony asked, his voice almost worried.
Steve shook his head, looking down at an erection that wouldn't disappear. "Not at all, what's going on?"
"I am getting ready for my last class and, don't be insulted by this since I spend most of my time around twenty something’s who don’t know anything, but I thought of you." They both were smiling, Steve could tell. "So, I was thinking, it's been some days since our 'date' and I know I laid it on you thick with the son and ex-wife stuff-"
"No, no, I appreciate the honesty. You're ... great, honestly." Steve interjected quickly.
"Great? Really? Great enough for a second date at my place tonight? Dinner, movie, dancing or whatever you kids are into these days."
Steve smiled hesitantly, fighting off the gesture almost instantly. "I have to check my schedule."
Tony sighed. "You know, you’re a tough egg to crack. I’ve been sending you pictures of my disgusting yet incredibly good looking morning face and you still reject my advances. I think I may have to resort to kidnapping.”
Steve couldn't hold in the huff, biting the inside of his lip as he replied faster than he thought up his answer. "Since you're so good with words, I'll … I’ll be there. I get off early tonight so text me the address maybe and I’ll catch a cab over."
"Okay, good stuff.” Tony started, slapping down a stack of papers in a celebratory action. “Well, I guess I'll let you get back to saving lives and charging hundreds for it."
"And I'll let you get back to reading out of a book and charging thousands for it." Steve smiled at his own remark.
".... Touche, Rogers. I’ll see you tonight. Where that little outfit I like." Tony said flatly.
“How about I wear nothing and you dress me like a Ken doll when I get there?” Steve said lightly.
“If you can find a cabby who’s willing to take a six foot naked man, then sure, sounds like a deal.” Tony replied with the humor buzzing in his voice.
“See you tonight.”
The call ended.
His erection was gone, finally. Steve sat up, running his fingers through his mess of hair. The sigh was heavy and deep. There was too much on his mind, on his plate, and even though less than a minute ago he was ready to masturbate to the idea of Tony, everything suddenly felt too fast, too rushed. All of a sudden, with his hand placed under his stubble ridden chin, Steve realized just how afraid of love he was.