Thank you to the wonderful and amazing Lancinate for being my beta yet again, you are amazing my darling, and DAMNIT EVERYONE GO READ L'S STUFF RIGHT NOW BECAUSE IT'S AMAZING (and on AO3 so yeah, just search their name yo)
So this story is kinda vague and weird, not unlike some of my other stuff. But it's not very long so yay short, vague, and weird wheeee!
Pepper said to him once that life sometimes doesn't make any sense. That sometimes you'll do everything in your power to become the person you want to be, but still end up a neurotic borderline sociopath with an ego the size of Jupiter and more money than sense. He'd responded with mock outrage, objecting to the insinuation he suffered from neuroses. She'd just rolled her eyes and walked off, muttering something under her breath about presumption and self-absorption.
Pepper said to him once that you can't always assume the worst of people. That no matter how much of a dick you are, there's always a tiny possibility that someone cares enough to stay. He knows that's bullshit.
Pepper said to him once that you can't always assume the best of people. He remembers what happened with Obadiah, and thinks maybe there's some truth in what she's been telling him all these years.
He's putting the necklace around her neck before some fucking black tie formal bullshit, and she's laughing about how cheesy the damn thing is, and couldn't he have made her a tennis bracelet or something.
He tells her his brain sometimes doesn't make any sense, and she should always assume the cheesiest from him. She laughs and kisses him, and that's when he mumbles something about getting married against her lips. She doesn't say anything, but then Tony doesn't really expect her to.
He spends the rest of the evening telling the paparazzo they eloped somewhere in Brazil. Pepper spends the evening not correcting him.
Clint said to him once that life never makes any fucking sense, and that you have to make the most of it while you're still hanging on. He'd nodded and chuckled a little, smiling into his coffee.
Fury told him, about an hour later, that he'd better start acting like a normal person, or he was going to send him to the toughest goddamn shrink they had remaining on staff. He goes out for coffee with Clint the next day, instead of staying in.
Natasha told him once that she makes a game out of terrifying psychiatrists into resigning, and Steve reminds himself not to get on her bad side unless it's a matter of life and death.
Everyone just assumes they've met. Everyone knows everyone in the world of world-saving, and Captain America must know Iron Man's girlfriend-wife-fiancee-whatever-who the hell knows any more.
It's three months after the Malibu house fell into the sea when Steve and Tony see one another again. Nobody can remember how long ago the battle was, and they spend an uncomfortable two minutes debating whether or not it was really that long ago they'd saved the world.
Then Tony mentions something about a movie version of the battle, and Steve cringes, complaining about whatever the hell fair use is, and that he wishes camera phones were still a couple hundred years off. Tony laughs, claps him on the shoulder, and introduces him to Pepper, calling her "the woman who convinced me to get into making camera-phones."
Steve doesn't know what to do with his mouth, eventually deciding to stick out his hand and shake hers. He apologizes, and Pepper smiles, gripping his hand firmly as she winks at him and tells him Tony's being an ass.
Pepper tells him that Tony doesn't make any sense. They're back in New York. The tower still only has an 'A' on it. Tony says it's in respect to the lives lost, but Pepper tells Steve it's because he's becoming a sentimental old fool.
Pepper tells him that you can't always assume the worst in people, and Steve tells her he's already learned his lesson on that one.
Pepper tells him you can't always assume the best of people, right before she kisses him lingeringly on the cheek. He blushes, and asks her what she means, and she doesn't say anything. He doesn't really expect her to.
Steve tells him the world still makes no sense, even though the forties seems like a different lifetime. Tony tells him that in a way, it was a different lifetime, and Steve can't help but agree.
He's building another suit now, the torso suspended from the roof of his workshop by a metal cable that looks far too light to carry the immense weight. Steve points this out, and Tony tilts his head up, eyebrow raised, and points out he made the cable, and that Steve shouldn't always assume the worst.
Steve crouches down beneath the suit, and peers up at the mess of wires and electronics. Tony's eyebrow remains raised, and he says Steve he shouldn't have changed his opinion his character. Steve turns his head, eyebrows knit in confusion. His heart beats a little faster, and his face is close enough to Tony's for their breaths to mingle. Tony grins, and zaps him with an exposed wire.
Steve goes back to his apartment feeling unsettled, the sound of Tony's laughter still ringing in his ears.
Thor says to him that one must remember to treasure the things that make one happy. Steve has no idea whether Thor's making a generalization, or if he's talking about something specific.
Bruce is shoving Tony out of his lab, when he tells him he needs to stop being an ass, and do what feels right. That life doesn't always make sense, and that Tony needs to stop being so neurotic.
Tony still has no idea why everyone keeps calling him that.
Pepper tells them that life doesn't always make any sense. That you have to toss aside assumptions, labels, and doing what's considered normal.
Steve laughs and tells her that their lives are anything but normal, and she runs a hand through his hair and glances at Tony.
"Do you really want to be normal, Steve?"
He feels a swell of desire in his chest, and it's like a light has just been switched on, in a part of his brain he didn't realize existed.