Steve falls for people a little bit at a time, and then all at once. He never notices it’s happening until he’s hip deep in it, caught up in the curve of their smile and the bark of their laugh and the stubborn tilt to their jaw
because it’s always the stubborn ones that
catch him unaware and pull him in, and
that probably says something about him
that he doesn’t really care to think about.
And sometimes he falls for people in the comfortable, platonic, vital way that everybody needs to stay alive. Sometimes he falls for them as brothers and sisters, and that’s fine, and sometimes he falls in love with them and thinks nothing of it, because he’s Steve and he can convince himself of a lot of things. It can be hard to tell the difference, he thinks, when comparing the sling of Bucky’s arm over his shoulders with the quick, clapping pat of Tony’s hand on his upper arm. Especially when you aren’t looking for it.
It’s always something, though. With Bucky it was the lightning fast slash of his grin in his face, the way it smacked across his mouth and crawled up to his eyes. With Peggy it was the tilt of her chin and the flash in her eyes, bright and sparking and pulling him in, in, in until he couldn’t have gotten his feet back under him if he’d tried. And with Tony, it’s —
With Tony it’s his hands.
There’s nothing special about them, not really. Aesthetically, they’re average hands, square in the palm and a little wide and blunt on the fingers. Could be anybody’s hands, honestly, because they’re not really the hands of the billionaire he was born as, but they’re not the hands of the mechanic he became. They’re somewhere in the middle, rough palms and some scars and strangely tapered at the ends, a tiny smidge of elegance that’s almost out of place, but somehow works.
They’re steady hands, but they’re always moving. They’re gesturing when he talks, they’re flicking through the air for emphasis, they’re sliding over a counter top. They’re curled around a glass, they’re settled on his hips, they’re (surprisingly infrequently) dragging through his hair. They’re folded to the knuckle against a work bench, rapping against the wall, smoothing over metal. They’re hands that know, intimately, everything they touch, whether that’s the swell of a woman’s hip or the sharp, jutting angles of a faceplate.
But they’re just hands —
bare hands that slap him on the back or the
shoulder and sometimes fingers that curl in
Hands like anybody else’s —
that pick up his shield and twirl it between
them and he doesn’t even mind, even though
he won’t admit it
So what’s the big deal about them —
and why does he wonder sometimes
what it would feel like to have those
hands (hands that are so sure and
steady and c a r e f u l with tools in
their grip or repulsors pressed to
their palms) focused on him, for even
just long enough to grip the back of
his neck and squeeze, like he and
Bucky used to do?
Maybe because he doesn’t want it to be like it was with Bucky.
Maybe because Tony’s hands are so much Tony just like Bucky’s smile was him and Peggy’s eyes were her, and they say so much about him, how he has to move and be seen and be heard and constantly do, and how they’re capable of so much violence and so much passion and such care, too.
He sketches them a couple times, from memory, and his memory’s good.
(It’s perfect, actually.)
But his suspicions are confirmed when he flips the pages and stares, a frown knitting between his brows, because without Tony?
They’re just hands.