Steve had never seen anyone like him. The man was practically leaving a sparkling trail of charisma behind him as he moved across the stage, his suit black as pitch and matching his slick hair. His voice was as smooth as silk and as captivating as shining honey on a spring day. All in all, he was quite the attractive man. Steve wasn't above admitting he could find the beauty in a man, maybe even to go as far as to appreciate it in a rather unwholesome way.
He blushed and lowered his eyes for a moment, then back up at the inventor.
A flying car. Oh, what an idea that was. This man must've been a bonafied genius, his device as brilliant as it was unfinished. A mind ahead of its time! The man certainly looked the part. He wasn't overly muscled, but slim and tight and sheathed in a suit that probably cost more than a year's tuition at the art school. Dark eyes, slick hair, and a grin that made all the girls in the audience flutter. And maybe, just maybe, his own heart gave a little lurch when the man's smile passed over him.
"That Howard Stark" the girl he was supposed to be with sighed "What a man!"
Howard Stark...so that's who this was. He hadn't caught the name earlier. Yes, Stark, he'd heard of him. A local genius, a ladies man, a regular Casanova who could rattle off science jargon like it was a folk song.
Steve was startled out of his silent worship when the man's hover device failed, sending the car slamming back upon the stage. Howard smiled and laughed it off, but the moment the spotlight slid away from him a rather disappointed look came over his face. In that moment, the small blonde had made a decision.
Steve abandoned Bucky and the girls at the spun sugar stand, slipping back between the crowd towards the futuristic stand. He knew it was a long shot, but he couldn't stop himself. His cheeks were flushed and his chest was aching from the pounding of his heart, the nerves almost too much for him. He dragged his inhaler out of his jacket, taking a quick pull off it to ease the pain in his lungs.
This was why he didn't get excited about a lot of things, he tended to just agitate his condition.
Steve ducked himself close to the exit door, keeping his eyes down and his form out of the way. He blended in perfectly, an unassuming skinny boy like him could usually disappear anywhere. All he needed was a minute, maybe two, that's all he needed. He didn't have to wait long before the girls started trailing out, giggling amongst themselves and smelling real sweet. He pressed even closer to the wall, making sure he didn't catch any unwanted attention.
"How-ard" one of the girls had an accent thicker than margarine "You promised you'd come back wit' me."
"Scram, Mandy, I don't have time for ya" there was that voice, agitated now. Howard came out of the trailer, scowling and straightening his tie. His pants were a bit more wrinkled than they were before and there was a flush to his cheeks, but otherwise looked unphased. He wiped at his mouth with his handkerchief, shrugging the raven haired woman off him with an impatient huff. Her lipstick was smudged and gone, and that's when the boy realized just what had been going on.
And just like that he was sure this was a bad idea. Instead of giving up, he pushed ahead and trailed behind the older man. The genius was eating up the distance with great strides, getting away from broads as fast as he could.
Mandy gave a cry of frustration, then threw up her hands and stormed away, "I swear to goodness, Howard, you can be the devil!"
Howard was unphased, giving her a scowl when she disappeared, "Don't have a cow, doll, you ain't that good!"
Steve looked around to make sure no one was paying any attention to them, then spoke up, "Mr. Stark!"
Howard turned around, raising an eyebrow at the lanky boy.
"Mr. Stark, I don't mean to bother you, but..." Steve swallowed nervously, ignoring the tightening in his chest "What you did back there, what you created, well...it was crazy, a real thrill. I've never seen anything like it."
The man's dark brows twitched, as if he was trying to keep himself from giving too much away, "You and everyone else, flutter bum."
Steve felt himself flush all the way up to his hairline at the compliment, he'd never been called that particular name before.
"I think you're just the living end" he couldn't keep the light swoon from his voice "To create that is nothing short of a miracle. I've always wanted to see something like it, but I never thought I'd be alive when it happened."
"Really now?" Stark pulled out a pack of cigs, toying with the plastic idly "What else have you dreamed about, kid? Got any thoughts up in that head o' yers?"
"Plenty, sir" Steve found his eyes straying to the large We Want You sign for the army, it was hanging just a few streets away "Mostly about the country, about the future."
The man quirked an eyebrow, "You want to make a difference? Is that it?"
"Yes, sir" Steve felt like he was talking to a superior officer, a fantasy of his for some time "I keep trying to enlist. It'd be swell to serve the country, to take down some Nazis and serve over sea. I love this country, sir, and I think you do to."
Steve's smile was positively glowing, "Why else would you work so hard to make technology to improve it?"
Howard finally ripped open the package, tapping it hard against this palm, "Listen, kid, if you're giving me a line-"
"No line, Mr. Stark, I promise" Steve could barely look the man in the eyes, it felt like he was being burned "I'm sorry for taking up your time. I'm gonna get back. I just wanted to tell you that I think you're crazy smart and...I believe you'll change the world one day."
Steve turned on his heels, already fishing his inhaler out. His cheeks were practically on fire, he felt like a total nerd. Only a real dummy would go up to this brilliant man and just ramble on about how amazing he was. Where was his subtly? This was Howard Stark, ladies man extraordinaire. Was he trying to get himself killed? He was practically throwing himself at the man's feet, and that was grounds alone for a thrashing or worse. Showing your affection for another man...it just wasn't done.
Thoroughly disgusted with himself, he breathed in the sweet relief of his medicine.
Steve stopped, turning on his heels to find the genius heading toward him, a serious look upon his face.
"Don't move" Howard commanded, a smirk slowly pulling at his lips "Let me get a proper look at you."
The blonde obeyed, biting the side of his lip while the older man started a circle around him. He could feel every inch of his body assessed and scrutinized, feeling like a gazelle in the killer gaze of a lion. He could feel fingertips brushing across the length of his shoulders, down the backs of his arms...it sent goosebumps across his skin.
"A little slim" Howard clicked his tongue, though he didn't sound disapproving "I didn't catch your name."
"Steve Rogers, sir."
"Steve" the man tasted the name on his tongue, coming back around to face the boy. His stare was lingering and thorough, taking in every detail. The blonde dropped his head, breaking eye contact and concentrating on the gravel. Strong, calloused fingers grabbed his chin and forced his eyes back up again. Howard held his face firmly, thumb daring to trace the lower curve of the smaller man's lip. Steve felt a shiver of fear and desire work through his spine, and for a dangerous moment he was afraid he was going to black out from the dizzying sensation.
"You damn near have the prettiest set of eyes I've ever seen" Howard confessed, brow furrowed "And I've seen lots."
"Th-Thank you" Steve could feel the heat in his ears now, he was sure he looked akin to a tomato.
"What's wrong, sweet cheeks?" Howard pulled him forward, the blonde practically swaying into the older man's body "Never had another man shine a light on you?"
Steve brought his hands up, touching the man's wrist in an attempt to make him let go. There was something in those eyes, a raw lust and a capacity for cruelty that frightened him. He couldn't pull away, something inside him begging to be pinned down and ravished by this man. And that particular feeling scared him more than anything else. He knew he'd always been a bit off, but this was something else all together. He swallowed down his arousal, lowering his hands and counting the seconds until he was released.
"Such a good boy" Howard let go of the boy's chin, bringing his cigarette pack up and tearing the top off with his teeth. The blonde followed the movements, pink tongue darting out to wet his dry lips. The older man pulled out a cigarette, letting it dangle between his lips as the pack disappeared back into his jacket.
"You follow orders."
"How well?" Howard produced a matchbook, but didn't make a move to light up yet "How far will you go for this country? For your fellow man?"
"As far it needs."
Howard broke off a single match, "I like you, kid. You've got something in that heart of yours. You got a brain to match?"
"Yes, sir, if I'm given a chance to prove it" Steve nose scrunched up for a moment "Not many people listen to someone like me."
"Well, I'm listening to you now" Howard replied, dragging the match against the book to produce a flame "How many times have you tried to enlist?"
Steve was thoroughly baffled, "How did you know-"
"I'm a genius, remember?" Howard took a drag off the cigarette, smoke pouring from his lips "Don't clam up now, answer the question."
"Five, I think" the blonde wasn't sure "You only get told 'no' so many times before you stop counting."
"Well, I think it's time for a 'yes', don't you?" Howard tossed away the match, pulling the cig from his lips and releasing a small cloud "I saw you eyeing that recruitment office. You want to try again, don't you?"
Steve nodded, thinking there was no point in arguing. Of course Mr. Stark knew how to read people, he was practically famous for his weapons and futuristic work. If he couldn't figure a person out he would have never gotten this far in the world.
"Well then you're going to need an in, and I happen to know someone who will actually give you their ear" Howard's gaze swept over the crowd around them, making sure no one was paying them any attention "His name is Erskine. Dr. Abraham Erskine. He's the recruitment doctor three blocks from here, and he happens to be in today. I think he'll give you the chance."
"You really think so, Mr. Stark?" Steve was rocking on the balls of his feet "How do you know? Everyone says no."
"If you tell him I sent you, he'll say yes" Howard reached out again, giving the boy's pale cheek a light pinch "Just talk to 'im. Let him see what I've seen, and I'm sure he'll give you the go ahead."
"Thank you, Mr. Stark" Steve clasped the man's hand, giving in a firm shake "Thank you so much. If I get in...if they let me, I'll owe you so much!"
"Alright, eager beaver, don't bruise the merchandise" Howard joked, pulling the boy ahead of him and pointing down the road "Get outta here, straight that way. Remember Erskine, and if anyone gives you any lip tell them you've got a message from Howard Stark. Don't let 'em tell you no."
And just like that, Steve was gone into the crowd.
Through training and bootcamp and the loveliest soldier he'd ever met (there just wasn't another like Peggy), Steve made it to the facility that would change his life. He was stripped of his hat, tie, and shirt, and was asked to lay out on a device that looked like it wanted to eat him. He'd never seen anything like it, that was for sure.
"Comfortable?" the good doctor came up, resting his hands on the side of the machine.
"It's a little big" he was proud of how steady he sounded "Did you save me any of that schnapps?"
"Not as much as I should have" the doctor pulled a face, then smiled "Sorry, next time."
Steve gave a slight nod, breathing in noisily. His chest was aching from the flutter of nerves, but he managed to suppress it. This was what he wanted, this was what he had been waiting for.
"Mr. Stark" Erskine spoke up, looking down at his chart "How are your levels?"
Steve looked back sharply, cheeks catching a bit of color at the mere sound of the man's name. He hadn't thought about Howard in a while, boot camp had kept him too busy to indulge in such fantasies. He suddenly realized how exposed he was, his arm twitching up to cover himself but being subdued at the last second.
Yes, that voice.
"Good" the doctor stepped away, only to be replaced with the handsome inventor. He looked just as good as he had months ago, his crisp white contrasting with his dark vest and slick hair. Even in this stressful environment, Howard managed to look immaculate.
"We may dim half the lights in Brooklyn, but we're ready" Howard's eyes were only for him "As we'll ever be."
Steve cracked a smile, "Mr. Stark."
"Don't look so nervous, kid" Howard laid a hand on the boy's neck "You keep this up and your heart's gonna jack rabbit outta your chest."
"I'm trying" Steve took a deep breath, but the rasp there was pathetic.
"You think I'm going to let them hurt you?" Howard winked cheekily "Between me and the doc, you'll be fine."
Howard pat his cheek, "It'll be over before you know it."
Behind them, the doctor was talking Peggy into leaving. Steve caught her eyes as she walked away, giving her a smile as well. She smiled back, a silent 'good luck' hanging in the air between them. Stark saw this and raised an eyebrow at the blonde, getting another blush out of him.
"You carrying a torch for that dame?" Howard teased, bulking a strap across the blonde torso.
Steve looked around, raising his head a bit, but no one was really listening, "Maybe."
"Aw, baby face, you're breaking my heart" the genius's hand returned, this time pinching his cheek "And here I thought you were sweet on me."
"Stop it" Steve brushed the man's hand away, but there was a smile on both their faces.
"It's almost show time, kid, I gotta go" Howard pulled away, starting to turn.
"Mr. Stark" the raven haired man looked back at him "She's real pretty and all...but you're still the living end."
"You better believe it."
Howard was the first voice Steve heard when he woke up, "Steve! Can you hear me? Jesus, look what we did to him..."
The first thing Steve felt was the genius's hands on him, smoothing over his neck and arms to ease him out of the machine, "It's gonna be okay, kid, just breathe."
He heard the doctor and Peggy, and he appreciated the applause of the staff, but it came down to one thing. Howard grabbed his face and made him look at him, concern etched into his dark eyes.
"How do you feel?"
Steve felt a million things in that moment, but only one was relevant, "Taller."
Howard laughed and scrubbed a hand through his hair, "Perfect."
The moment Howard Stark heard that Steve Rogers had taken a dive into the ocean, he'd dropped to his knees. His fingers had dug into his pants until they were bone white, breath labored and lips pursed tight to keep from screaming.
"You stupid son-of-a-bitch."
AN: There'll be more flashbacks in future chapters. But remember, this is a Stony (Super Husbands) fic all the way. I just wanted to put some background first. Tony's in the next chapter. And I know there's the whole Peggy/Steve great big love of the century...nyah. But! This is slash-world, and in slash-world Steve still 'carries a torch' for Howard