When Fury introduced him to the Captain for the first time, Tony could swear that everyone in the room could hear how his heart was fluttering in his chest. His palms were sweating and his heart had taken up residence in throat and it was all perfectly understandable, he told himself, because people didn't just meet their childhood idols every day.
Captain America – Steve Rogers – was tall, broad in the shoulders and muscular. He looked a bit like he'd just walked off a recruitment poster for the Second World War even though he wasn't in costume.
There was just something about the way that he held himself that screamed soldier. But he was also very approachable. Unlike Fury, who gave off that aura of authority and 'don't-mess-with-me-if-you-know-what's-good-for-you,' Steve was all smiles and, well, nice. It was very hard not to like him.
And, well, he was really attractive.
Tony had to fight down a blush when Steve's eyes drifted from Fury to him and he smiled at him (and it was a really lovely smile, Tony noted). He would not, Tony told himself, act like a stupid school girl with a crush.
“Captain, this is Tony Stark. Tony, this is Captain Steve Rogers.” Fury indicated that they should shake hands.
“A pleasure,” Tony managed, despite the lump in his throat. He extended a hand and had to suppress the urge to jump for joy and grin like a complete idiot when Steve took it and gave it a warm shake.
There was a spark of recognition in Steve's eyes, “Are you related to Howard Stark?”
Tony's heart sank a little, but that smile on Steve's face and the lost, haunted look in his eyes melted it completely. He offered a smile in return, “Uh, yeah, he was my father.”
Steve nodded as he released Tony's hand, “You look a lot like him.”
Chancing a glance down at his hand, which was tingling, Tony just gave a little shrug and a nod; he'd heard all of that before. He looked like his father. He got that already. But it didn't put a dent in his admiration of Steve at all. Tony peeked up at him from under his lashes.
Steve was listening to Fury who, much to Tony's frustration and delight, was giving him instructions on where he'd be staying as he adjusted back to life after seventy years of being frozen.
“... Stark's volunteered to let you stay with him since, well, there isn't really anywhere else.”
And Tony was absolutely not imagining that hint of disapproval in Fury's voice, not. At. All. He was well-aware that Fury didn't approve – probably thought that Tony was deviously plotting to corrupt Captain America in some way – and had only agreed since, really, it was the only option they had. They couldn't just dump Steve in the middle of a city and expect him to fend for himself – the man had been reported as dead, after all.
But then again, Tony wasn't sure if his enthusiasm had come across in any other way. He'd been ecstatic – beyond it, actually – when he'd heard, and he'd jumped at the chance to meet Captain America in the flesh.
“Thank you, Mr. Stark.” Steve offered up another of those charming smiles of his and Tony swore that he hadn't felt a little weak in the knees at that.
“Tony's fine,” Tony replied, almost automatically.
“If you have any questions or concerns,” Fury continued, giving Tony a disapproving eye. “You have my contact information and you know how to reach me.”
“Yes, sir.” Steve snapped to attention just a little, expression melting into a much more serious one and Tony felt his cheeks warming up a tad.
It was getting increasingly difficult for him to maintain his 'professional' attitude. He quickly started reciting the periodic table of elements in his head to keep his focus. Eventually, Fury left them and Tony resolutely stared at his shoes as he tried to keep his composure.
He snapped his head up, “Yeah?”
“It is really a pleasure to meet you.” And this smile of Steve's was completely stunning.
At the end of it, Tony was grinning like a child and he was fighting back the urge to squee like a teenage girl who'd just met Robert Pattinson.
After several days of breaking a coffee mug every morning, Tony just decided that he should let Steve handle breakfast because all he'd managed to do was start a small fire in the microwave when he forgot to take the tinfoil off the leftovers he'd been trying to heat up. And then he'd made it worse when the first thing he'd done was start wildly waving a wet dish towel at the fire and then dropping that when Steve had rushed in with a fire extinguisher he'd probably stolen from the lab.
It had been Steve who had promptly put the fire out. And then he'd promptly proceeded to make sure that Tony hadn't managed to hurt himself.
Despite how stupid he'd looked as a result of it, Steve had been a complete sweetheart about the entire thing – although, now that Tony thought about it, that was probably because he still wasn't sure what a microwave was in the first place.
Of course, that didn't stop him from quickly figuring out what it was when Tony had finally managed to calm him down enough to explain it to him.
Steve frowned, “Do you always create fires in these... microwaves?”
“No, I don't,” Tony replied sharply, his ears burning. “Just... had a bad night I guess, wasn't thinking.”
“Well, I might not have the hang of all of this, but I'm pretty sure I can whip something up for breakfast... unless you had something else in mind?”
There was just no way that Tony could deny those pretty blue eyes of Steve's. He nodded, eyes wide and probably looking like a tomato at that moment, eagerly. Tony was curious to see just how capable Steve was in the kitchen.
Steve had only taken a few days to familiarize himself with the kitchen and – Tony was a little ashamed to admit that he probably hadn't been the greatest host since he'd squirrelled himself away in his lab for the majority of it – he'd been largely left to his own devices. It was pretty impressive that he'd managed to work out so much for himself, only interrupting Tony every now and again to ask him questions. Tony had been surprised at how quickly Steve managed to adjust and figure things out on his own.
“Go, go.” Steve shooed Tony out of the kitchen and towards the table, clearly understanding that Tony shouldn't be around anything potentially flammable right then.
Tony still hadn't gotten over his tendency to feel like squeeing over Steve whenever he did something particularly sweet or endearing. He still, very much, felt like a teenage girl with a crush, but that was perfectly understandable because this was, after all, Captain America and Tony had spent so much of his life admiring the guy.
It didn't take long for the smells of cooking bacon and eggs to fill the kitchen. Tony could hear the sounds of food sizzling from where he sat and he kept fiddling with his hands so much and glancing towards the kitchen that he finally just seized the paper to have something to do with them.
There wasn't a lot in the paper that morning. Just a couple of bits about the economy and then something about some actress checking into rehab – her name sounded kind of familiar to Tony, so he just assumed that he'd probably slept with her at some point.
And nothing about the return of Captain America.
Well, they had yet to break that particular news.
Soon, a plate of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast was placed in front of him, followed by a cup of coffee in his favourite mug – the only one that had survived the massacre.
“There. Sorry if they're a bit overdone, I'm still not sure if I completely understand the stove yet...” Steve grinned, “But the toaster is amazing!”
“Yeah, I'm sure it is.” Tony had been about to try his first mouthful but he'd been distracted by Steve's lips – they're really nice... wonder if they're as soft as they look? – and that boyish grin of his. Instead of landing in his mouth, he squashed them against his cheek instead.
Steve frowned at that, “Are you sure you're alright, Tony?”
“Yeah, fine.” Tony turned away and glared at his eggs, shoving a mouthful in successfully this time. “Just fine.”
He got a worried look from Steve at that, but then Steve just shrugged and went back to grab his own breakfast before joining Tony at the kitchen table.
“Are you working today?”
“Uh, no, I hadn't planned on it... why?”
Tony had no idea where Steve was going with this, but he'd run with it. After all, could be interesting; this was Steve he was talking to.
“Well, I was wondering if you'd like to go out and do something with me–”
Tony nearly choked on his coffee at that.
“–like go for a walk or go to the park or get something to eat. What do you think?”
“Yeah... that sounds great!” Tony couldn't believe his luck. This wasn't a date, Tony told himself, it was just a way to help adjust Steve back to the world. That was it. That was all it was.
Tony crushed that tiny voice inside of him that was thrilled that Steve had just asked him out on a date.
Tony wasn't too surprised when he and Steve wind up being plastered all over some cheap tabloids the day after their little outing. The majority of them are just building on that speculation that he's just been in the closet all these years, but there are a couple which are insinuating that Steve's some sort of kept man of his.
For his part, Steve handled it awfully well.
“So this sort of thing,” he gestured at one of the tabloids which were proclaiming that the two of them were a couple, “is perfectly alright now?”
“Well, marriage isn't legal yet – but it's not for lack of trying – but yeah, that sort of thing really isn't a big deal nowadays. They're just running with it cause they think it'll sell papers. I couldn't care less.”
Tony shrugged and tossed the magazine towards the large stack of them he'd left on the coffee table, “I'll be downstairs.”
It didn't escape his notice that Steve had drifted over to the table to pick up the magazines and flick through them for himself.
When Pepper stopped by, she wound up dropping the coffee cup she'd been carrying and sending Starbucks brew across the floor. Her purse fell down her arm and she fumbled her phone; the expensive device clattered into the coffee all over the floor but she made no move to pick it up.
She was too busy staring at Steve, who was almost religiously checking the omelettes to make sure that they weren't sticking to the non-stick pan he was using. The clatter of Pepper's phone alerted him to her presence.
“Oh, hello.” Steve offered her a smile and a small wave before he turned back to the omelettes, adding some chopped peppers that Tony had cut up to them.
“Pepper!” Tony chirped from where he had been made to sit down by Steve after he'd nearly burned himself by putting his hand right on the stove. “What a wonderful surprise!”
Pepper's eyes were nearly popping out of her head, “I – you – Tony! What – who is this?!”
Her voice, which was dangerously shrill, was finally what caught Steve's attention. He looked over at her and gave her one of those dazzling smiles that made Tony's breath catch whenever they were directed at him.
“Pepper, this is Captain Rogers, Steve this is Pepper.”
Steve's still smiling at her as he reaches across the counter to shake her hand, “It's a pleasure to meet you, Tony's mentioned you a few times.”
“Ah – it's a... pleasure.” Pepper was still staring at the both of them with wide eyes, even as she shook Steve's hands. Although, it definitely looked like Steve's charm was working on her. Once she'd gotten a hold of herself, she immediately turned on Tony. “What is this? All those articles in the tabloids – I thought it was stupid, but since this is you we're talking about so I don't know why I was expecting–”
“Hey, whatever people have been writing about me isn't true!” At Pepper's raised eyebrow, he amended that statement. “Well this time it's not true, okay? Steve's sort of adjusting and Fury asked if he could crash here for a while and I said fine so he's been staying with me and no that totally was not a date, I haven't slept with him and I don't–”
“Tony, you're rambling again,” Steve's admonishment is gentle; one that speaks more of fondness than anything else. He turns back to the omelettes on the stove, folding them over before flipping them out of the pan and onto two plates. He smiles at Pepper again, “Can I get you anything?”
“Oh, no I'm fine.” Pepper glanced down at her spilled coffee and sighed, “Although, I suppose some coffee would be appreciated. Can you pass me some paper towel, please?”
Steve was already handing her the roll, peering over the counter as he did so at the mess that Pepper had made in her surprise. “Do you need any help?”
“Oh no, no I can manage this.” Pepper bent down, shoving her purse onto one of the chairs before bending over to mop up the spilled coffee and wipe down her phone. Luckily, it still seemed to be in perfectly working order despite its little liquid adventure.
Once everything had been cleaned up and Tony was happily sitting at the table and digging into his omelette, Steve was leaning against the counter, picking at his almost absently, while Pepper was lurking beside him. Her arms were crossed across her chest and there was a serious expression on her face as she watched the entire thing.
“I think this is the first time I've ever seen Tony eat a proper meal,” Pepper remarked. She glanced at Steve as she said this.
“He's only really bad if he spends too much time in his garage,” Steve said. “And even then, you can typically get him to eat if you bother him about it enough.”
Pepper's eyebrows were all the way up in her hairline right then, “You've got to be stubborn then.”
“I did try enlisting five times; they didn't accept me until the sixth try.” Steve placed his dishes into the sink, turning on the tap and grabbing the sponge and soap sitting beside the sink on the counter. No matter how many times Tony tried to get him to use the dishwasher, Steve always did the dishes by hand instead; it was an awfully endearing trait.
“Five times?” Pepper stared at him in shock, then gave him a quick once over. “Why?!”
Steve shrugged, “Health problems – I was 'ineligible on my asthma alone,' one of the recruiters said. I eventually got my chance and I took it.”
“So you're in the army?”
“I don't know – I could be. It depends on if Fury's reactivated my commission, I guess.” Steve just shrugged, but Tony could hear the undertone of bitterness in his voice. He glanced over his shoulder at Tony, “If you're done eating Tony, you're welcome to help with the dishes.”
Trying very hard not to blush, Tony rushed over with his dishes, dumping them into the sudsy water that filled it.
Pepper giggled, “Well, this is certainly a first.”
Tony glared at her, “I am perfectly capable of doing dishes.”
“Tony, you have a habit of breaking them more often than you wash them,” Steve corrected. He was smiling, though, and that haunted look in his eyes was gone; instead, they were warm and seemed to be laughing. Tony was glad to see that, and his heart had totally not jumped up into his throat because he was the reason for it.
Tony bit down on his lip and didn't make a retort. He wasn't sure he could come up with a witty enough one that wouldn't give away just how hopeless he was. But he knew the instant that he glanced at Pepper that she had more than just a passing idea of what was going on.
Later on, when Tony was down in the lab and Steve had brought some coffee down for him before he left to go back upstairs, Pepper came down to see him.
“So, am I going to be seeing more about the good captain and you in the future?”
“... I don't know what you're talking about.” Tony stuck a pen in his mouth, glaring down at the blueprints that he'd been working on for the past week.
“Oh come on Tony, you're not a subtle person. It's really obvious that you've got a crush on him – I don't think I've ever seen or heard about you being clumsy, not unless you're drunk – and when I say crush, I mean it's really obvious that you're in love with him.”
Tony turned bright red, snapping his head up to glare at her as his pen shot out of his mouth, “I am not!”
“You're blushing like a schoolgirl, Tony.” Pepper giggled when his expression just got more shocked, “I don't think I would've ever lived to see this day.”
“It's Steve Rogers, Pep! He's a national hero! It's perfectly natural!” Tony turned back to his blueprints, picking up his pen again. “Oh come on! Don't tell me you wouldn't be a little bit flustered if you met Captain America!”
Pepper was shocked now, he could tell. But then she just started laughing, grasping the table for support as she did. It took her several long minutes before she'd caught her breath enough to talk and then she'd descended into another fit of giggles at the look of sheer affront on Tony's face.
“It's not funny. I'm being serious.”
“Oh Tony, you've got it bad.” She giggled.
Later on that night, Tony broke a set of rather nice wine glasses and then wound up cutting up both his hands and his feet. He wound up being relegated to the sofa while Steve went looking for a first aide kit to treat his injuries and treated to a rather nice dinner.
He also blushed like the schoolgirl Pepper said he was and he couldn't help but wonder if maybe what she'd said was true. But he quickly squished that thought. After all, Steve was Captain America.
When everything finally comes to a head, Tony had to admit that he was in denial. A lot. In fact, he'd probably founded his own city on the other side of the Nile in order to accommodate all of it.
So really, he should have seen it all coming; he really, really should have. Because he's supposed to be the flirty one who catches on quickly while Steve's supposed to be a lot more naive and sweet. Then again, though, that was definitely part of Steve's charm; and he could be very charming when he wanted to be.
The first time they kissed, Steve was the one who initiated it.
It was just a light press of lips, but it still left Tony breathless and very pink in the cheeks. He was also staring at Steve with a very wide mouth.
Steve just chuckled and gently closed his mouth. He followed this up by quipping, “Am I that good or was it terrible?”
It took Tony a couple more seconds before his brain restarted enough for him to come up with a response, “No – it was – why did you–”
“I think that's supposed to be a compliment.” Steve was smiling and his eyes were warm and sparkling with warmth and affection – which was probably something more, but Tony wasn't too sure if he could put a name to it.
Instead, he just stared awkwardly at Steve, not really sure how to react. It took him a while before he managed to find his voice and get his mind engaged. To a degree at least.
“So, um, what brought this on?”
Steve gave a little shrug, “I thought you could use a little reassurance.”
“This.” Steve gestured at himself, then Tony. “Us.”
Steve was still smiling and his hands were comforting as they held Tony's, “I think this is the first time I've ever seen you speechless.”
“I'm trying to figure out whether or not I banged my head and this is all just a dream because I'm dying of a concussion or if I might have eaten something funny and I'm hallucinating. Because, really, this isn't happening, Captain America isn't telling me that he's interested in me because he's definitely not gay and I have not been acting ridiculous for the past couple of weeks because I have a crush–”
He was rambling and he knew it and Steve knew it. Steve just shut him up by kissing him again. This time the kiss was more than just a brush of lips and Tony felt his mind literally skid to a stop. And then it started up again, running at hyper-speed.
“Um. Wow.” That was all Tony managed when Steve let him up for air.
Steve laughed, the sound sending shivers down Tony's spine. He leaned forward and let his forward rest against Tony's. “Is this going to happen every time I kiss you?”
“I don't know, maybe?” Tony grinned, feeling a little bit of his old self waking up again, “Do you want to try again?”
Steve didn't answer, he just smiled and kissed Tony again.