Stark Tower - a few months after defeating the Chitauri

It was a rare person who would disagree that Tony Stark was the epitome of confidence. After all, how many times had he been called arrogant, vain, self-centered, or conceited? Plenty - and he'd deserved it every time, whether he'd been called out for a smart-ass comment or for preening in the mirror or for excessive bragging. Confident was actually one hell of an understatement.

That was why he felt so strange right now, looking in the mirror and combing through his hair with shaking fingers. For the first time he could recall, he wondered whether he was good enough; to him, every wrinkle he typically considered distinguished was suddenly an indicator that he was borderline geriatric, the formerly intense brown eyes seemed small and squinty, the eyebrows he normally thought striking became overwhelmingly bushy. What the hell was wrong with him? Stupid rhetorical question. He knew, of course.

Oh, gods. Why had he ever agreed to be an Avenger? His entire life was fucking ruined, and it was probably going to get a lot worse in about five minutes when -


"Mr. Stark?" A familiar artificial voice requested his attention. JARVIS. "You have a visitor. Doctor Bruce Banner -"

"Yeah, yeah. Let him in." Shit. He was early. Not that it mattered, really - would five more minutes really have turned the hardest thing he'd done in his life into a cakewalk? - but the time might have been nice. He could have maybe borrowed Pepper's tweezers and fixed his eyebrows… Except Pepper had taken all of her stuff with her when she moved out. And wait. Had he seriously just considered plucking his eyebrows? He was going completely crazy, wasn't he? Goddammit.

"Uh… Stark?" The call came from the lobby, reminding him that he was being a terrible host, that he was already screwing this up.

Tony's heart raced as he stepped into the lobby, then abruptly stopped when his eyes met Bruce's. For a moment, he didn't say anything - he just took in the wonderful, wonderful sight.

"Hey," Bruce acknowledged him with an adorable smile. Oh, no. Adorable. He'd just used the word "adorable" to describe a man. Shit. "So what did you want to talk to me about?"

"Well," Tony started. At least his voice hadn't shaken - it sounded as cocky and self-assured as ever - but internally he was still a bit of a mess, and he couldn't think of a follow-up. Understandable, since this conversation had the potential to be extremely awkward and he'd never had to discuss anything of the like before, but still irritating. "I'd probably sit down, if I were you."

The smile on Bruce's face turned into a concerned frown, but he did as he was told, lowering himself onto the couch. "What's going on? Is someone dead?"

Bruce was on his couch. They were completely alone. Dirty thoughts swirled through Tony's head, ideas of exactly what he wanted to do to his fellow scientist on that couch right now. It made responding a little hard - made a few things a little hard, actually - but at the same time, it reassured him. He still had a ridiculous sex drive, even if it turned out that he was kind of… well… that he was… shit. He had to say it, didn't he?

It somehow came out with his typical indifference and ease. "I'm bi." And I only realized because of you, he almost added.

Bruce started, then nodded. "Yeah. Um, okay. I… I mean, thanks for trusting me enough to tell me." Was there a sudden excitement in his eyes, or was Tony imagining it? Probably just projecting, but…

"You mind if I sit there?" Tony pointed at a spot on the couch next to where Bruce was sitting.

"Well, it's your tower, right? You can sit wherever you want." Including on your face, hopefully.

Stark flopped onto the couch, exuding a rather misleading air of nonchalance. How was he supposed to even start explaining how much he wanted - his hopeless search for the right words ended abruptly as Bruce started to speak.

"You know I'm gay, right?" He fidgeted nervously, then looked up at his companion with a hopeful gaze; the expression in his eyes was unbelievably endearing. Tony's heart soared.

"Now I do."

The pair sat in silence for almost a minute. Ordinarily, quiet would be tense or awkward, but right now - for Tony, at least - it was giddy. He'd never, never been so excited. Finally, he found the words he needed.

"You know there's a reason you're the first person I told, right? Beyond the fact that I trust you."

He definitely hadn't been imagining Bruce's excitement; it resurged, lighting up his eyes and putting a grin on his face. But then he seemed to doubt himself, and put forth a rather less intriguing suggestion than the truth. "I suppose you figured my scientific background would make me less likely to cling to old prejudices against -"

"Don't play dumb," Tony cut him off. He didn't act like the flippant, condescending person he usually did when correcting people; he paired the somewhat harsh words with a gentle tone and a soft look. "You're incredibly smart. That's part of why I want… well… you have these eyes, these captivating… I mean, you're ador… oh, screw it." He abandoned his words, tilted his head, and leaned in.

He wasn't surprised when the kiss was reciprocated enthusiastically, responding by putting one hand on Bruce's back and the other on the nape of his neck, winding fingers through his hair. And then there were arms around him, pulling him closer.

He broke the kiss, but left their bodies pressed together and their faces no more than a few centimetres apart. "Could you… would you stay for dinner?" To anyone who knew Tony, the implication was obvious.

Between ragged breaths came a response: "Actually, I was thinking we should skip dinner. And the show, and whatever else might come before." Yeah, he knew Tony.