Fic: How To Not Be Nothing, Chapter Four, steve/tony, college!AU.

“I literally think my legs will have to be surgically removed.”

Natasha rolls her eyes. “Stop being melodramatic and get up. We’re leaving in ten minutes.”

“No, seriously.” Tony tries to move his feet, and freezes when bolts of pins and needles rip paralyzing-ly up his leg.

“Ohmygodthisistheworstfuckingfeelingintheworldfuck.”

“Seconded,” Steve croaks, trying very, very hard not to jolt his legs in any way, shape or form.

Tony looks over to where Peter is wearing a shit-eating grin. “I hate you.”

Peter starts along the hallway, singing, “No, you doooooon’t-”

Natasha shoots Thor a weary look, who nods.

“Fear not, Steven and Tony Stark. I shall assist.”

And yes, he actually fucking talks like that, seriously, which is another reason Tony thinks he’s fucking awesome.

He thinks Thor is a bit less awesome when he grabs both him and Steve by their waists and hauls them up over separate shoulders, ignoring their yells of “MYLEGSOHGODPUTMEDOWNI’MDYING-” and “FUCKYOUFUCKYOUFUCKYOUFUCKYOU-” and carries them out the door, heading to the stairway.

-

“Move over.” Tony jabs his elbow at Bruce.

Bruce snarls. “I’m moved over as far as I can. If I move over any further, I will be hanging out the fucking window. You’ve taken half my seat.”

“I deny it.” Tony shifts his legs further into Bruce’s seat, just to piss him off, and Bruce growls and swipes them off.

“Hey.” Clint glances at them in the rear-view mirror. “Knock it off. There’s barely enough room in here as it is, and we have seven people in here.”

“Mmm,” Tony says. “Nice minivan, by the way. Very soccer-mom chique. Who owns it?”

Thor says, “I do,” and Tony stares for a few seconds before deciding nope, he doesn’t even want to know.

Peter shifts restlessly, and Tony eyes him. “I just want you to know, if you ask if we’re there yet, you will embody every single cliché of your time, ever. So don’t.”

Peter blinks innocently up at him. “I was gonna ask if someone would put on some music.”

Tony narrows his eyes, but Steve just says, “I do,” and Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ fills the car.

Tony, Bruce and Peter all stare.

Steve shrugs. “Surprises come in large packages?”

Bruce and Tony look at each other, and Bruce has a look that says: Tony fucking Stark, don’t you dare make any comments about Steve’s large package.

Tony just grins, feeling too light, and catches Steve’s eye as he does.

-

The four hours actually pass surprisingly quickly, complete with everyone singing at the top of their lungs and headbanging at the right parts, which mostly ends with Tony choking himself silent on laughter, because Natasha and Steve headbanging is one of the best thing he’s ever seen, ever.

When they get out of the car- and fuck, Tony has been taking too much abuse to his legs today- he forgets about his ‘not-touching-Steve-if-you-can-help-it’ taboo and pats him on the shoulder. “I approve of your playlist.”

Steve laughs. “Thanks. That was just the roadtrip playlist, though. You probably wouldn’t like the rest of my i-pod.”

“We’ll see,” Tony says, and doesn’t miss how Steve’s smile stretches enough to burst. It makes him feel strangled- in a good way, if that’s possible- it’s kind of a prickly feeling, and he tries to swallow it down as he turns to get the bags.

Peter tugs on Tony’s shirt as Tony hefts his duffel over his shoulder. “Yeah, kid?”

“Is that him?” Peter at least has the common sense not to point, but he nods towards Steve, who is a few metres away and digging through the supplies in the front seat.

Tony rolls his shoulders, feeling ridiculous. “Uh, yeah.”

Peter looks around Tony at Steve, and Tony feels himself holding his breath. Finally, after a few long tense seconds, Peter says, “He has a good taste in music.”

Tony lets the breath out in a huff of laughter. “Apparently. Who knew?” He rearranges the bags on his shoulder so the straps sit comfortably. “You need help with your bag?”

“I can handle it,” Peter says, looking at it like a sworn enemy.

Tony rolls his eyes. “Whatever you say.”

“I can!”

Tony raises his one free hand defensively. “Hey, I believe you!”

Peter glares, and Tony grins toothily. “Tell me when you start sagging sideways.”

Peter squawks indignantly, and Tony cuffs him on the shoulder. “Joking. Come on, the others are going.”

“Can carry my own bag,” Peter mutters to himself, slinging it over his shoulders and nearly getting crushed by it in the process.

Tony snorts, and leads him up the steps.

-

“Happy holida- holy motherfucker.”

Everyone turns to stare at the girl behind the desk, who is gaping shamelessly at Tony, who sighs inwardly and makes himself pull the trademark Stark grin. “Hey, gorgeous.”

Steve watches him amusedly, and signals towards the desk lady. “Uh, we booked the suite on floor fi-”

The girl croaks, “Tony fucking Stark.”

Peter slumps against Tony’s arm, and Tony can feel, rather than hear, the words being muttered into his elbow: “Not agaaaaaain.”

But Tony flashes the grin again. “In the flesh.”

He regrets it in less than a millisecond, because he can see Steve startle in the corner of his eye, and thinks, fuck, I better start coming up with better ‘yeah hi it’s me fuck off now.’

The girl- she’s around about his age, what the hell is she doing working here- gapes again, and then manages to snap her mouth shut. “I- oh, my god, I thought I’d be cooler than this. Why aren’t I cooler than this? I’m so sorry, I- do you mind if I get a picture?”

Just let us check into the fucking room. “Not at all.”

She gushes, and yep, there’s her cellphone. She ducks out from behind the desk and loops her arm around his neck, almost squishing Peter before she notices him. “Oh, hey! Who’s this?”

Peter is glaring daggers at her, but Tony just raises an eyebrow at him as he says, “My nephew.”

“Your nephew?” She ruffles Peter’s hair, who continues glaring in a way that could kill flowers and baby chipmunks. “I never knew you had a nephew.”

“It’s a government secret,” Tony says, looking at Steve over the girl’s head. “Don’t tell anyone. We’d all disappear off the face of the earth.”

The girl looks uncertain, and Tony thinks okay, can’t take a joke, and says, “You said something about a picture?”

“Oh, yeah!” She positions her cell-phone, and Tony relaxes into the usual smile, the usual flash of light, the usual, “Thanks, Mr. Stark!”

He says, “Tony,” and the girl giggles slightly hysterically and nods.

“Um.” Bruce waves a few fingers in her direction. “Our suite?”

“Hmm?” The girl looks at him vaguely, and Tony can practically see the clockwork chugging in her head. “Fuck. I mean- bother. I mean- fuck, I am so going to get fired. I am so, so sorry, guys- the suite booked by ‘Rogers, Steve,’ right? Party of seven?”

“That’s me,” Steve says, raising a hand.

The girl nods briskly. “Okay. Okay, I can do that. Uh.” She starts typing into the computer, hitting the keys a bit too hard. “Hey, uh. Why is Tony Stark here? Shouldn’t he be in his mansion, or something? Or with his family?”

Tony bites back a retort, smiles the smile, plays the role. “Yep. This is just a quick getaway thing. Thought I’d have Christmas here with a few colleagues. We’re taking another trip down to get the presents out of the trunk.”

“Oh!” The girl beams around at a sullen room. “That’s… nice. Um.” She reaches underneath the desk and comes back brandishing a key. “Enjoy your stay, I guess?”

“Thanks,” Tony says, and they all head for the elevator, dragging their bags.

As Tony moves to the right to give Natasha more room, she shoots him a look- it’s not a glare, it’s sort of soft, sort of understanding, and it catches Tony completely off guard, because hey, I thought you hated me.

No-one says anything almost the entire way up, until it’s almost on the last ‘ding’ because mother of fuck this elevator moves slow, and Steve catches Tony’s eye.

Tony means to drop it, but then he just- doesn’t, and it stretches on for a few seconds.

Steve says, “I didn’t get a ‘hey, gorgeous.’”

There’s a wave of laughter around the elevator, and the tense atmosphere is broken, everyone smiling reluctantly.

Tony shrugs. “You didn’t act completely and utterly awed. You want compliments, you’re going to have to be breathless from my very presence. Breathless, I say.”

“Don’t start, please,” Bruce says from behind them both. “It only inflates his ego.”

The elevator finally ‘dings’ and the doors creak open and motherfucker, Tony could build a better elevator in his sleep. He’s genuinely worried for their safety.

Everyone starts filing out- okay, shoving, shut up, they’re all teenagers (minus Peter) who have been cramped in a car with minimal leg space for over three hours- and Tony only just hears Steve say, “I don’t know, he’s kind of breathtaking.”

Tony turns around jerkily, his bag knocking into his leg and probably bruising it, and Peter narrowly manages to avoid slamming into Tony’s back.

Steve is blushing, but he meets Tony’s gaze steadily. “What?”

Tony says, “Nothing.”

Steve smiles, his mouth twisting slightly, and bumps his shoulder softly against Tony’s as he passes. “Follow us.”

Tony just stares for a few seconds, stuck in his own head, but is jolted out of it when Peter jabs him in the ribs.

“He said follow,” Peter grumbles, still a bit pissed off from almost breaking his nose via Tony’s spine.

“Oh,” Tony says stupidly. “Yeah.”

He follows Steve, and it feels like breathing, like kissing, like making engines, like something natural and normal that he’d be perfectly happy doing for the rest of his life.


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