Steve was leaning forward with his elbows resting on his knees. Natasha watched him as the engagement ring rolled finger to finger, slipping between the knuckles before with a flick of his thumb, the ring was in the air then placed perfectly in the palm of his hand. Clint, who was Nat's stunt man boyfriend who jumped out of buildings and stood to close to explosions- which, consequently resulted in his hearing loss, watched on as well as Steve spoke sparingly and preoccupied himself with clumsy quirks.
“Just like that? You left?”
Steve nodded slowly. "Yep. Blamed me for everything."
Clint nudged Natasha, mouthing out of Steve's sight, and far beyond his comprehension. Natasha looked over to Clint, returning the same look to Steve as she relayed the message. "What's everything?"
"His mother, the conservative homophobe, not wanting a thing to do with her gay son, a bomb that went off thousands of miles away that I had nothing to do with. What else? There was a lot of me ruining his life somehow when I did my damnedest to make it better.” His voice trickled on humor and sadness, Natasha didn’t know which one to fall for.
For once, she was silent. Steve knew that her silence wasn't always necessarily a good thing. "Does this mean now you’re going to give Tony a chance now?"
Steve smirked. It had been a week since their last date, since their last conversation even. In that time, Steve thought over his latest decisions in life. Bucky wasn't the same, and after their encounter, Steve accepted that he would never be that person he fell in love with and there was no going back. With these thoughts festering, he also recounted all that Tony had to offer. Just like week there were a million and one excuses as to what held him back from Tony, Bucky, Peter, work, and just his own scared feelings but now, there was nothing. Steve was free of his inhibitions.
"Sure you don't want to him yourself?"
Clint rolled his eyes. Shaking his head forceful, Clint raised his hand with his thumb and his first two fingers wide open before bringing the fingertips to a close. With his eyebrows raised, Steve looked at Natasha who was slightly laughing.
"That means no."
Steve's phone vibrated on the table. It was all a reflex when he slid the device towards him and unlocked the screen before it was even in his lap.
The sight of the notification alone made his heart skip a beat. The muscle was in his throat as he opened it.
Hey there stranger.
The corner of his mouth twitched.
Hey there yourself.
Mind if I come over to talk?
Steve looked at his company, the couple bickering through sign language and chopped up sentences.
Not at all. Need the address again?
It was something they shared between dates and just to add to the small talk. Steve was afraid of Tony seeing his house, all the abandoned memories and things that seemed to be more from a life of domestic Steve Rogers rather than bachelor Steve Rogers. Though, the only stale memory was the white board. Steve spent the last few days scrubbing at the words but they were forever stained.
Nope. Be there in a bit.
"I think I'm going to hit the hay early." Steve lied. In this moment it was easier to lie so he could avoid the demands to not sleep with Tony, to give him a chance, and other things of that nature.
The pair stood, stretching out their aches before heading towards the door. "Well, I guess you can give me a call tomorrow if you decide to channel all your anger in the ring." She turned on her toes, throwing a few light, playful punches towards his direction.
He blocked them off with a soft laugh as he spoke. "If I have the energy to deal with your emotional abuse then I'll call."
The moment the door swung open, a newly arriving Tony was stepping to knock.
"Oh. Hi." Tony said with a small grin. Lowering his hand from his knocking pose, he flashed glances at the departing duo.
"Hello …?" Natasha questioned, looking at the man then back at Steve.
Steve felt his skin radiate with heat. “Tony.” He said lowly.
“Tony? Professor Tony Stark?” Natasha asked with her eyes bouncing form the blonde to the middle aged man before her.
A cracked smile slapped Tony’s lip as he wiped the corner of his mouth with his thumb. “Here in the flesh. You must be the almighty Natasha … I didn’t get a last name, sorry.”
“It’s Romanoff. And The Almighty Natasha? Has a nice ring to it. Just call me Nat, though, this is Clint.” Shaking hands, the two shared small awkward smiles and glances. Clint nudged the girl once again before returning the limb back to her side. “We should be getting. Nice to finally have a name to go with the face, Tony. Steve,” she said before turning to her significant other, “make sure you get your rest for our session tomorrow.”
“Goodnight.” He replied as the two walked away down the apartment hall towards the stairs.
Tony leaned on the door frame, watching the couple leave before glancing back at the flustered man. "I just so happened to be in the neighborhood,"
"Says every stalker ever."
Tony chuckled. "I wanted to talk to you." Tony stated, looking around at the various doors that decorated the hallway. The two were silent, almost an awkward one before Tony spoke again. "If you want to let me in."
"Sorry, yeah, come in." Steve stepped aside as Tony entered the small hallway before meeting the living room. It wasn't a small space; the couch was placed against the wall as the recliner occupied the space under the large windows. Tony sat on the couch, fiddling with his thumbs as he quietly examined the space.
"Nice place. Clean."
Steve followed behind Tony, walking to the kitchen, the half wall revealing the cabinets and fridge. "It cost enough, I know that much. Want something?" Steve held up a beer. Tony shook his head as continued to look around and ponder.
"I just wanted to talk was all." His voice was dry and humorless, very unlike him.
Steve felt the chill in his words as they resonated. "About what?"
Tony waved him to come into the room. Without hesitation, Steve did so, his feet leading him to the space beside Tony. They weren't close, Tony in one corner with Steve in the other. The air was filled with pondering minds and racing thoughts as one tried to think for the other.
"Wait, no. Let me say,” he started, placing his drink on the table as he placed his leaned forward to talk, “I know I'm always busy and I know it's been a week since we spoke and you may think that I'm not interested, which is not true. I'm done with Bucky, completely. We got into a fight, kinda, and he said something that really made me realize that I no longer want anything to do with him. I asked for you to give me time and this was it. I like you, Tony. I'm now asking you to give me a chance."
Tony sucked in a stiff air, his eyes dragging from Steve to the floor as he thought over what he needed to say. Running his hand down his face, wiping at the contour of his face with pressing fingers, Tony finally spoke. "Peter recently brought to my attention that I'm a horrible boyfriend. And that I'm old." He started, a Flickr of a smile appearing before quickly disappearing. "I was informed that I was a terrible boyfriend because I never liked any of them and I wasn't nice to them. But you, according to Peter, stand a chance. And as much as I hate to openly admit to agreeing with a 15 year old, I think so too. I realized that I sabotage myself from having a good thing and, now that I know you're over your ex, I should probably stop. Don't get me wrong, I'm still old and I'm still afraid that if this goes somewhere, if we do the boyfriend-boyfriend relationship thing, that I'll die and you'll be left realizing you wasted your prime years on some old man. There's no way to tell if you'll feel this way or not but ... don't do this with me if you feel like that. Be with me for the long haul, even if it's only a couple more years."
Steve heard the genuine concern in his tone. Tony looked afraid and it was cute, in its way. Steve smiled slowly then a quick pull of the cheeks as he scooted closed to the far away man. "I wouldn't have sat through being insulted by your son if I wasn't ready for this. I don't care that you were in college while I was probably just reaching kindergarten."
"That is not comforting at all." Tony interjected.
"I want to do this thing with you."
Tony sighed, a deep release of his stress and worry being bellowed out in a heavy breath. "Good because you are too fucking good looking to let go. I mean, call me shallow all you want and you're a great guy with personality and all but have you seen you? I might stroke out if you ever take your shirt off."
Steve did just that.
"I was not expecting this. Mind if I die here or should I get on the floor?"
Steve laughed, leaning into Tony for a kiss. It all felt so right, and warm and so damn comforting. Tony drug his hand up to Steve's face, cradling his neck to pull him closer. Their mouths tasted of passion and desire. Steve placed his hand on Tony's side with the other on his chest. This was how he wanted them to forever be, to be locked in an embrace of all that was new and exciting. "Tell Peter thank you." Steve managed to say in the small instance they broke to catch air.
Tony chuckled, imprinting smaller kisses down and around to Steve's collarbone. "Let's not go stroking his Dawson's Creek idea of love. I say that to him and next thing you know, the kid'll be holding it against me forever."
It was hard to listen and respond. Steve closed his eyes and laughed briefly before his entire body was caught up in the actual moment. Tony was now running a hand up Steve's chest, tracing the space between each definition of muscle his wandering digit could find.
"Fuck." Steve groaned out as the erection grew. Tony pressed his body against him, forcing Steve to lie back. There was no space between the two, each man pressed close to one another and still yearning for more to touch and kiss and lick and suck.
"I'm working on it." Tony whispered with lips pressed against Steve's ear. Tony unbuckled Steve's pants, his hand slowly searching for what he quickly found. Steve felt his breathing quicken, his heart racing a mile a minute as Tony pulled out the throbbing erection to gently stroke the shaft. Moving himself closer, he stroked Steve's dick slowly, snaking the thumb over the head as he kissed and breathed into the man's neck. Steve groaned in pleasure, ghosting a hand down the other manse body before releasing his erection as well. "Nuh uh, doc, I got this."
Steve felt his cheeks quiver and twitch. Tony’s hand was stroking him slowly yet steadily growing faster. "God, Tony.” Steve hummed again as he pinched his eyes shut. The pleasure was building, his body tensing as he did his best not to end it all too fast.
Tony continued to trail his kisses down Steve's body. Licking trails between abs and tracking back to bask in the beauty that was his nipples. The jerking slowed again, Tony kissing the man's stomach one more time before easing his mouth around the erection. Steve gasped. Glancing at the ceiling then down at the man who was moving his head slowly then faster with each passing second. The pleasure was building again.
It had been years since sex felt real. The men after Bucky were one night stands who were nothing more than pity screws. Steve took pity on himself, bringing strangers into his bed that only made him cum with no emotional attachment. Bucky was the last person to touch him seductively before sex. There were kisses with those other but nothing that felt like something. Tony revived that something in him. Breathing life back into his beaten and bruised lungs, Steve released himself with the hope that this would be love.
Tony couldn't sleep anymore.
It wasn't because he was worried or stressed, it wasn't even because of the almost sex from the night before (they decided to just cuddle after the couch adventure instead of consummating their new relationship thing). It was the fact that Steve was cuddled under his chin like a lovesick puppy and he couldn't stop basking in the joy of it. The sun was bouncing off every corner of the room and as much as he wanted to catch a few more hours, the blinding white surrounding him refused to let him do so.
There he lied, staring down at Steve who didn't snore, didn't drool, and didn't have a flaw as the eye could see. Tony reached for his phone, inching towards the small device without trying to wake the spring doctor. It was cliche, and cheesy, but Tony kissed Steve's forehead as he took a picture. It was easy for him to tell himself that this would be for him to never forget, but it wasn't. Continuing to take pictures of the two cuddled up closely, Tony knew that soon enough these would be for Steve. It was his honor to make memories for him.
Slowly, Tony began to slide from under Steve. Every step and movement was slow and careful, never taking an eye off of Steve as he slipped through the door and shut it behind him.
The kitchen, much like the rest of the home, was clean. Tony felt like the bull in the china shop, often leaving a mess behind wherever he stepped. It was also spacious, an island occupying the middle of the floor with a small two bar stools along the sides of it. From left to right was the fridge, counter, sink, dish washer, microwave, coffee pot and above those two was the rumored white board. Blue words tattooed into the surface as Tony noticed how there was once effort being put into ridding the words.
Instead of thinking too far into Steve's past, Tony decided to prepare the two a cup of coffee.
The click of the door made Steve blink himself awake. There was a usual sadness that washed over him when company left his side, yet this time, he didn't get it. The smell of the other man was still fresh, the warmth still lingering as he reached over to take it all in. Tony was still here. As hard as it was to accept, Tony didn't leave him in the wake of the morning.
Lying in bed was hard to do when the realization of not being alone settled in. He jumped from the bed to the bathroom, washing off his face with cold water to get rid of his tired puffy eyes.
Steve slowly opened the door to one of his favorite aromas. "I never wake up to fresh coffee."
"Well, we will be changing that very soon." Tony said with a wide smile. Pouring Steve a cup, he presented it to the man as he reached the island and pecked his partially wet lips. "Good morning to you."
Steve smirked. "Good morning." Looking around at the untouched space, he asked, "When did you wake up?"
"Way too early, well, I just got out of bed a few minutes ago. I'm pretty sure as soon as the sun touched one of those super white walls of yours, I was up."
"Sorry about that." Steve shook his head with a blooming grin as he thought about it being almost ten in the morning.
"Don't stress, I'm sure there's a mirror facing the window in my room that'll wake you up at some ungodly hour and I'll get all the payback I deserve."
Steve laughed. Fuck, it was so hard for him to get over how good it felt to laugh. The week of them not speaking and the horror of an argument that he and Bucky had still quickly made him forget how refreshing it felt to laugh for once. Nat tried her best, her witty and sassy remarks brought a smirk to his face but a hearty laugh was something he just hadn't realized he missed until now.
"Now I feel like you're going to go out to buy a mirror."
Tony shrugged, his lips pulled into an uncertain frown as he brought his cup to his lips. "I'm more than sure I'm going to be going out and buying a lot of things."
Steve didn't know what it meant but with Tony's fleeting glances and coy smiles, he was sure he'd be figuring it out very soon.
"Do you have class today?"
Tony took another sip of her brew. "At six. Going to go work out with your friend?"
Steve shook his head, sipping from his cup as well. "Nope. I usually run at 6 before we meet up and it's almost ten and I'm off today so I'd rather be at home."
Tony nodded. "Basically, you're saying you want to sit at home with me until I leave for work."
Looking as if he were thinking, Steve slowly began nodding. "Yep. Yeah, those were my intentions."
"Finally, I get to know your intentions. Alright, tell me more." Tony was now resting his chin in his hand.
"Well," Steve started. "I actually didn't have anything in mind past today. I'm sort of a one day at a time, live in the moment sort of guy."
"You are not.”
"Well, I'm trying to be. I don't want to ruin this with overthinking and expectations because one of us could get hurt and I'd rather take all the time we have and make it worth something. I want every day we're together to be great and amazing and if ever something arises, we fix it then and keep it moving. I don't want grudges or animosity; I just intend on making you happy and hoping you’d do the same." More words fell out than he intended.
Tony's face was blank, biting at the bottom lip before speaking. "What did you and Bucky fight about? The last one, the kinda fight that made you realize you were over him."
Steve knew his past frustrations were evident in his words. "I don't-" he almost lied. Steve wanted to say he didn't want to talk about it when the truth was it was constantly skipping through his mind. "Bucky didn't graduate college. He was three years in and said that it just wasn't for him. Well, he said he wanted to join the Army but he was afraid. I thought he was stupid, like, defend your country and get paid well, what’s to be afraid of? At this time I didn't know what was really happening. So he signs up, drops out and works out for almost a year then his recruiter told him when he’d be shipping out. The night before he left he said he didn't want to do it so I told him this is bigger than him. ‘You're doing it for your country, you have to do it.’ So, he told me last week that he blamed me and the sad part is I blamed me too. He said I'm the reason why his family abandoned him and it's true. It's all true but it's not at the same time. I made him a stronger person on my own in five years than his mother ever did his whole life. I gave up a lot for him. And I don't know. I just couldn't hear what I already knew but it's just the fact that I made up for it all. Everything I did for him had a positive outcome right after. I knew in that moment I was done with him the moment he forgot to realize that. I took care of him when no one else could and I helped him find his calling in life. He helps people now with Sam. I just don't deserve to be told that I ruined his life when despite losing an arm, I made it better."
Tony looked at Steve, his eyes apologetic, then to the white board. Pushing away from the stool, he stepped up to it and began to tug at the corners. With a snap and a rip, the board came down. Placing it beside the trash can, Tony sat back at his stool, chin in hand as he stared at Steve. "Good riddance." He said holding up his coffee cup, Steve smiled as he tapped his against Tony's before taking the honorary sip.