the last touchdown 1/?
Marvel || Steve/Tony || PG-13
notes: There I was, just casually scrolling through my dash, when ironfries said, “quarterbackartstudent!steve giving collegenerdawkwardglasses!tony mushy kisses and forcing him to eat and picking him up and more kisses and cuddling everywhere because feelings” and I made unholy noises. So.
¶ I apologize ahead of time for the sheer indulgence that will be happening.
¶ Also available on AO3.
"So," Rhodey says lightly as he and Tony settle into the bleachers. It’s early November and the cold of the metal bench easily seeps through the denim of Tony’s jeans, but Tony ignores it. His gaze flickers over the bundled-up pep band and the shivering dance team, before skipping across the browning football field. "What are we doing here?"
"Rhodey!" Tony gasps, exaggerated, as his eyes return to his friend. The team isn’t on the field yet, anyway. "Where’s your school spirit?"
"I have school spirit," Rhodey replies. "Secretary of student council, remember? That crazy thing Pepper is president of?"
"Yeah, I’m sure Pepper injects said spirit directly into your bloodstream," Tony quips. He’s not trying to change the subject; it’s just that tangents and sarcasm happen when Tony opens his mouth. "Besides, you like football. There’s nothing more American than football, and you’re as American as American can be. You don’t want to be unpatriotic, do you?"
“Tony," Rhodey huffs. The exasperation on his face is familiar. "How long have I known you?"
Tony thinks and vaguely remembers the kid who sat next to him in his first grade class and let him steal his crayons. Even back then Rhodey had an infinite supply of patience; all the other kids Tony stole crayons from tattled on him or pinched him until he gave them back, while Rhodey simply let Tony have his way until Tony lost interest. Not much has changed about their friendship dynamic, to be honest.
"Sixteen years, Tony," Rhodey answers for him. "You can’t exactly pull the Stark Diversionary Tactic on me and expect it to work."
"That maneuver is flawless."
"I still want to know why you dragged me to a football game," Rhodey continues, "and don’t give me that any bullshit about school spirit. You and I both know you’re the antithesis of pep rallies and homecoming dances. You’ve been here for four years and I know for a fact that this is the first football game you’ve ever been to."
Tony shrugs but his heavy coat swallows the movement. “Do I need a reason?” he asks as his eyes wander back to field. The opposing team is walking onto the grass, their uniforms dark gray and vibrant yellow. A group of students—drunken and shirtless freshmen smeared with blue paint, one of them sporting a giant ‘C’ on his chest—near Tony boo loudly.
"With you," Rhodey sighs in resignation, "there is always a reason."
Whatever Tony wants to say to that is drowned out by the rise of music as the pep band starts up with the university’s anthem. The dance team tumbles into action, their blue and white pom-poms glittering in the stadium lights, and the spectators in the crowded arena rise to their feet and roar, a din that triples as the football team pours onto the grass. Tony plants a hand on Rhodey’s firm shoulder as he gets up; he has to stand on his seat in order to get a clear view of the field below.
"Tony?" Rhodey yells over the noise. He stands as well and looks in the same direction as Tony. "Tony, what are you—"
They see the bold ROGERS, 17 at the same time. When the football player raises one of his arms and waves at the crowd, Tony can’t hold back the smile that blooms on his face. At this, Rhodey would not have been able to hold back his reactionary groan even if he wanted to.
"I take back everything I said," Rhodey grouses as he flops back onto the bleachers and covers his eyes with a tired hand. "You do have school spirit, because last time I checked, falling for the quarterback is definitely a prerequisite.”
The game lasts for a little less than three hours and their team, the Captains, win by a narrow margin. The rookie quarterback, Steve Rogers, scores a touchdown in the last five minutes that pulls the Captains ahead by a mere point. When he races down the field, his longs legs devouring yard after yard, Tony gets to his feet again and yells encouraging nonsense at him, “Go, Steve, go!” and “You can do it!” as though Steve can hear him over the cacophony of the crowd.
"It’s like you’ve been bodysnatched," Rhodey says when Tony plops back down. His tone is as amused as it is horrified. "I don’t know this person in front of me. Who are you, and what have you done with Tony?"
"Har har har, don’t quit your day job," Tony snarks, but the bite of his words is lost due to the giant grin splitting his face and the red of exertion on his cheeks. "Also, who wouldn’t want to snatch this body?"
"Your narcissism shouldn’t reassure me as much as it does."
Afterwards, Rhodey drags Tony away from the stadium—”Tony, the team is probably getting cleaned up right now and, Tony, get back here, I know what you’re thinking!"—and to Pepino’s, a small and independent pizzeria just off campus. Tony’s stomach growls when they walk in and he smells the garlic breadsticks. He hasn’t eaten anything since yesterday morning, when Pepper shoved a jumbo blueberry muffin into his hand instead of his usual coffee. His stomach lining had thanked her; his exhaustion had not.
"I know I’m going to regret this," Rhodey says after Tony wrangles them a small table by the window. It’s crowded inside, as it usually is around dinnertime on a Saturday, but the football game has doubled the normal crowd. "But I am seized by a terrible and masochistic curiosity."
"I distinctly remember you giving up on my love life in the tenth grade when I dated the Japanese foreign exchange student. Rumiko? Do you remember how she used to—"
"Don’t get me wrong, I am still one-hundred percent given up," Rhodey assures quickly. "It’s just… the star quarterback? You put blue dye in our high school football teams helmets when we were juniors."
"Those dumb jock assholes totally deserved it, Rhodey! They got the funding the Mechanics Club needed to stay on as an extracurricular!"
"I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: one person does not constitute a club, Tony."
Rhodey manages to redirect the conversation from old high school grudges and back to Steve by the time their pizza—thin crust double supreme—and a basket of handmade breadsticks arrive. “If you at least tell me how me how you met,” Rhodey bargains as Tony heaps a huge, hot slice onto his plate, “then I’ll buy dinner.”
"And the first round," Tony tacks on.
"And the first round," Rhodey concedes.
Picking up his food, Tony takes a huge bite and pretends to contemplate the offer as he slowly chews. Then he shrugs. “Deal.”
Tony has been staring at the schematics for his robot for over an hour, trying to work out an unexpected glitch, when someone touches his shoulder.
"Holy shit!" Tony does not shriek as he jumps off his chair so forcefully it clatters to the ground. His blueprints go flying, he nearly knocks his glasses off his own face, and the expensive drafting pencil that was in his hand is now lost in the pit of blankets, pillows, and discarded clothing that is his roommate’s bed. Tony spins around, yelling, "Warn a guy, will you—"
—when his nose bumps against someone’s chest.
Someone’s very warm, very naked chest.
"I’m sorry!" apologizes the someone attached to the chest earnestly. "I kept trying to get your attention, but you were glaring at your project and didn’t hear me, and the door was open and I was just walked in and—umm, excuse me? Are you listening to me?"
"Yeah," Tony tells the pectoral muscles in his line of vision. He has to adjust his glasses for a better, more focused view. "You are the most beautiful girl at the ball. Would you like to dance?"
"Okay," someone says and suddenly a hand comes between the chest and Tony’s appreciative eyes. "Are you—are you high?”
"Not unless your chest is a mind altering substance," Tony replies, his brain-to-mouth filter officially incapacitated. He tries in vain to peek around the broad palm and thick fingers obscuring his view, blabbering, "Which it might as well be, considering. Do you wax? Were you sculpted this way by a very benevolent god? Or—oh, did I forget is was my birthday again? Are you one of those stripper grams? Pepper sent you, didn’t—no, wait, my birthday is in March."
"Stripper gram? What are you—look, I don’t care if you’re high, I just—are you Thor?"
Tony finally peeks up at the face the Divine Pectorals are associated with, only to find that he quite likes the face as well. He’s always had a thing for blond hair and blue eyes; in combination with the straight eyebrows, full mouth, and strong jaw covered in day old stubble, Tony suspects that the universe has just thrown a vaguely confused Versace model up in his dorm room.
"That depends," Tony responds gamely, "on why you need him."
"Laundry," the Versace model answers, though the last syllable rises in pitch like he was still asking a question. Traces of confusion linger in the downward curl of his mouth and the furrow of his eyebrows.
"As in do your laundry?" Irrationally, Tony thinks of Thor—Thor, his bearded, bear of a roommate—doing someone’s laundry in a skimpy French maid outfit, and shudders. Thor is a very good-looking person, but living with someone for over three years is more than enough time to kill any latent sexual attraction, especially if that other person is Thor. "Uh, did he lose a bet or something, because the Thor I know doesn’t believe in clothes. He especially doesn’t believe in clothes on Thursdays."
"My point exactly."
Tony and the model look at each other for a moment. Tony could go on looking for much longer than a moment, but the model sighs and adjusts the full laundry basket he has slung under one arm. Where did you come from? Tony wonders at the hamper. Then, Oooh, bicep.
"I am ashamed to know you," Rhodey interjects.
"I think you mean privileged," Tony retorts around a breadstick.
"I’m not the one with marinara on his cheek."
"Gravity doesn’t work that way, Rhodey."
“What does that even mean.”
"Are you going to stop interrupting and let me tell you the rest of my story?"
"I don’t think I could stop you at this point."
"I need to do my laundry," the model explains, his words clear and clipped by a light, nasal Brooklyn accent, "but the time table in the laundry room has Thor from #216 slotted for the next three hours. I checked to make sure that the washer and dryer were empty, and they were, but I wanted to be absolutely positive that I could use them. I don’t want to be that guy, you know?"
"A model and a boy scout," Tony exclaims even though, no, he really doesn’t know what ‘that guy’ is. It’s Pepper’s job to know that kind of stuff, anyway.
"I wouldn’t worry about it." Tony steamrolls over the model/boy scout’s raised eyebrow. "Thor is out with his boyfriend right now, doing things that are still illegal in several states—bad influence, that one—and won’t be back until tomorrow morning or whenever his bail is posted. And even if Thor were here, he’d probably thank you for liberating him from the tyranny of having to separate his whites and colors."
The model/boy scout hesitates as he sorts through the jumble of Tony’s words—which can sometimes be no small task—before he asks, “Are you sure?”
"Absolutely. Being clothed offends his Viking ancestry, or something."
"No, I’m meant—" but the model/boy scout cuts himself off mid-sentence and smiles. It’s only a quirk in each corner of his pink mouth, but it makes Tony’s heart kick and he suddenly feels as though he had one too many shots of espresso injected directly into his bloodstream. Huh, Tony thinks, cataloging the strange jerk in his torso even as the other man continues with, “You know what, never mind. I’m just going to go do my laundry.”
"Are you going to need help?" Tony asks, flirting instinctively as he shoves his hands into the front pockets of his favorite jeans. Normally it’s a casual gesture, but Tony is oddly nervous and feels the strange need to hide his restless hands. The model/boy scout’s lack of a shirt is probably the culprit. "I hear finding the right soap to water ratio for maximum cleanliness is particularly tricky."
The model/boy scout laughs, a light and clear sound that should be obnoxious, but isn’t. The action exposes all his straight, white teeth; it makes the corners of his blue eyes crinkle with an adorable, all-American boy charm; and the last string of tension in his broad shoulders dissolves, leaving him loose-limbed and leaning incrementally forward towards Tony as he murmurs “Is that so?”
"I can solve all sorts of problems," Tony offers. His heart thumps erratically. "I have a minor in mathematics and a major in mechanical engineering; it’s time I used my powers for good instead of evil."
"And I’m a visual arts major," the blond replies good-naturedly, "but last time I checked, I didn’t need advanced calculus to clean a load or two of dirty socks."
A small lull in their conversation follows, in which he and Tony regard each other for a second time. Tony’s mouth wants to open up and word vomit, to make the model/boy scout stay longer, but his brain manages to reign in the impulse. Pepper always tells Tony he can come off too strongly when the other person doesn’t know what to expect from him; Tony is belatedly determined to act less like he needs his own warning label and more like a normal human being.
"Thanks for the offer anyway," the model/boy scout says, swiping his palm over his military short hair and flicking a wet tongue across his bottom lip. "Maybe next time—ummm—you know, I just realized that, if you’re not Thor, I don’t know your name."
"Tony." Tony blurts. "Uh, Tony Stark."
"I’m Steve Rogers," the model/boy scout says warmly. He extends his free arm to shake Tony’s hand and Tony practically rips the pocket clean off his jeans in his haste to comply. When Steve’s impossibly broad palm envelopes Tony’s smaller hand, Tony wonders if it’s possible to fall in love with another person’s handshake. Inanely, Tony remembers that way his father always told Tony a man that was defined by his handshake. Tony had never believed the old adage—it was easy to fake a good handshake, Tony being the paragon of ‘fake it till you make it’—but if the saying is true, then Tony is without a doubt screwed.
(And not in the good way, Tony mentally laments.)
Tony holds onto Steve’s hand a beat longer than is appropriate, trying to memorize the warmth and the width of his palm. Steve doesn’t seem to notice. Then again, Steve doesn’t seem to notice the way Tony’s fingers linger against his skin as they pull away, or the way Tony’s hand slowly curls around the negative space where Steve’s hand had been, either.
"I guess I’ll see you around?" Steve says.
"Yeah," Tony all but croaks. "Yeah, I guess you will."
When Steve leaves, he casts one final glance at Tony from over his enormous shoulder. Tony feels the look burn all the way down, from his throat to his toes. Then, as Steve disappears from sight, Tony falls back bonelessly into the Pit that is Thor’s bed, covers his eyes with his palms, and fails to think about something other than Steve’s perfect chest, his perfect smiles, and his perfect rear end.
"And that was two months ago?" Rhodey asks as he polishes off his first beer. They’ve migrated from Pepino’s to the bar several blocks downtown. Neither Tony nor Rhodey particularly like said bar, but it’s the only one within walking distance of the university.
"Six weeks and four days, actually, but let’s not argue semantics."
"And you haven’t talked to him since?"
"Unless you count the non-verbal conversations we have in my wildest fantasies and the occasional Dude Nod Of Acknowledgement, then the answer is a pathetic and resounding no." Tony finishes off his two fingers of cheap whiskey and waves at the bartender for another. When she sets it in front of him, Rhodey stops Tony from handing her his card and slaps a twenty down.
"Another for him and two more Bud Lights for me," Rhodey tells her.
"I know you’re going senile in your old age," Tony says as the bartender fills another tumbler of whiskey. "But the deal was for the first round, not all of them."
"Tony," Rhodey says with immense gravity, "there are times when the only thing I can do for you is buy you a drink and silently mourn your social skills. This is the buying you a drink part. Please shut up so we can move onto the mourning."
For once, Tony does as he’s told.
chapter two: in which tony and loki have a diva-off