title: only thing to do is jump over the moon
summary: Olympics AU; Tony is a world-class gymnast and Steve is the perfect athlete; also sometimes everyone needs to let off a little steam in an Olympic size swimming pool.
notes: ~3100 words. wow okay late to everything as usual. this is probably horrible and it ends abruptly but it's been sitting on my desktop since closing ceremonies and i just want it posted so. have baby's first foray into steve/tony. also lol at the title, it's okay you can too. also also lol at the fact that it's an Olympics AU because when have I ever been into writing alternate universes jeez.
It's dark and a bit chilly when Tony gently steps into the pool, a lot like he'd expected it to be and nothing at all as he'd expected all the same. He treads the water for a moment, just floating around, his brain still wrapping his mind around the fact that he's here, in the Olympic pool, that he's competing in the Olympics.
It's three am and most of the athletes have gone to bed, the training for some starting at five and competition for others a few hours after that. Tony knows he should be asleep as well, resting his body for the days to come, but his mind has never worked in easy patterns of awake and asleep, choosing instead to prattle on until exhaustion sets in and he crashes hours at a time.
He paddles around for a few laps, letting the water glide over him like silk. Mostly he just floats along on his back and stares into the open space above his head. He hadn't learned to swim very well as a child, too busy with weight training and advanced geometry and all the other trivial pursuits his father had shoved him into until finally, finally Tony found one he could enjoy for himself, and well, if it bothered his father a little, that was only an added bonus.
Gymnastics was all consuming once you committed, and never let it be said that Tony Stark only half-assed commits to things he enjoys. But between training and school and his father's watchful scrutiny, there just wasn't time to learn to swim properly. That is, until a few years ago, when his Achilles tendon snapped mid-performance at the World Championship and nearly ruined his career. But he fought back, keeping in shape and training in the water until his ankle could bear his full weight again, until he could fly over the vault and stick his landing with minimal pain. He'd fought hard to recover, worked twice as hard as any other athlete he knew, and made it back in fighting shape and qualified for the Olympics in little over a year.
The high dive looms over Tony's head as he floats around on his back in the pool, lost in his thoughts, until finally he decides that it's now or never, climbing out of the pool and up to the ladder. Ten meters is a long climb up, but Tony’s not afraid of heights in the slightest. He starts climbing.
"Should you really be doing that?" a voice calls from several feet below him. He startles, but to his credit, he doesn't slip on the ladder.
"No, but that's never really stopped me before," he replies, but he heeds the warning a bit nevertheless, taking his time once he gets to the platform, debating on whether or not he should really do this. His coach would murder him if he knew Tony was even out of bed, let alone standing ten meters in the air on a concrete platform. The pool's still forever below him, and suddenly it all seems so far away, the vault, the high bar, his dad's lack of appreciation of his talent. The whole world is simply the space between him and the water. He takes a deep breath and a step towards the edge. He dives.
The air rushes past his free fall and the rush of speed makes his face feel funny as he tries to smile, presses the skin back awkwardly. He tries for a front tuck around halfway down, just mimicking what he's only ever seen on TV. He almost succeeds, manages to get his head facing down into the water before he hits the surface, but his arms and legs are all wrong and he's completely unprepared for the sting of the water the moment he hits, not enough breath stored in his lungs and what little is there rushing out at the impact. He struggles to the surface, swallowing a lungful of water on the way there, but he feels free and alive in a way he hasn't in a very long time.
"Well, congratulations, you didn't die," he hears from behind him while he's still coughing out water, the same voice as before he jumped. He takes a few gasping breaths then turns around to see who else could possibly be sneaking in to a closed pool after hours. It's probably the last person he'd ever expect to break any rules.
"If that's your way of complimenting my diving skills, you need to work on your execution," he replies to Steve Rogers, America's golden boy for the decathlon, the ‘best athlete the world has ever seen.’
"Definitely not a compliment. That was pretty idiotic, in my opinion."
"Well, it's a good thing I didn't ask for your opinion," Tony snaps back, his head suddenly pounding from his recent lack of oxygen. It's time to leave the pool now, absolutely. "What are you doing here anyway, Rogers? Shouldn't you be safely tucked away in your bed, ready to face another morning as the poster boy for apple pie and consumerism?"
Steve's expression shuts down, but only for a second. Long enough for Tony to catch it but not time enough to wonder what it means. "I don't need much sleep these days," is all he says.
"So you decided to break into an Olympic pool and what, paddle around until you exhausted yourself?"
"I think that's more what you decided to do, but yes, I decided to find a little bit of relaxing peace and quiet. Instead I found you."
"You found nothing, I was never here."
"Don't you compete tomorrow, Tony Stark?"
Tony's honestly a little surprised Steve knows his name, with all the athletes the United States had sent this year. They'd brushed shoulders walking into the Opening Ceremonies and passed each other at the village a couple of times, but beyond that, no real contact. As if he's reading Tony's mind, Steve says, "I make a point to learn my teammate’s names."
"That's a lot of teammates, mate. And no, I don't compete until Thursday. Tomorrow's the individual all-around, I didn't qualify. I didn't want to qualify, honestly, vault and bar are my thing, I've never really been all that fond of floor, lots of showiness and well, being close to the ground, and the rings require way more singular concentration than I've ever been able to muster in my life, trust me, I know, that's exactly what my coach yells at me all the time." He tries to stand up and walk away, knows he's running his mouth too much, hates the sound of his own voice sometimes. He has a lot issues: smoking, drinking, all sorts of habits that a world-class athlete shouldn't do, but rambling when he's the center of attention is probably the one he hates the most. He expects Steve to point it out, to maybe say he's sorry for the misunderstanding and walk away, or share some inspiring story like he seems to do frequently on the news programs, or flash a million dollar smile and laugh and blush until everyone has forgotten what the question was. It's not like Tony spends a lot of time watching Steve being interviewed, it's just that it's hard to avoid.
"You like to be in the air," Steve simply replies, causing Tony to stop dead in his tracks. No one, no one has figured that out before, no one knows him well enough to figure it out, really, even though Tony’s pretty sure it’s not that obvious. And yet somehow within ten minutes of meeting him, Steve Rogers thinks he knows everything.
"It's none of your business, you know," he snaps back, doing his best to storm out gracefully and failing when the world goes blurry and he stumbles just a bit. Steve catches his shoulder and pulls him back upright and Tony can't help but notice how warm his shoulder feels even after Steve's removed his hand. Steve just stands there, watching Tony, waiting for him to move again.
"Thanks for catching me I guess, it'd suck to survive that dive only to be sidelined by tripping over my own feet. So are you gonna swim or just stare at me?" Tony asks. "Because I'm trying to be on my way out, I'm just...having some problems. As you've seen."
"I was going to swim a few laps," Steve says, and then just looks at Tony in a way that makes him incredibly uncomfortable but also incredibly intrigued at the same time. "You want to swim a few with me?"
Tony catalogues his body; his head's still throbbing and his legs sting from the impact of the water, and he can feel the general sluggishness of being in the water for a period of time swarming his consciousness. He could probably sleep now, if he tried. "Yes," he replies.
Steve peels off his over shirt as Tony splashes his way into the pool, the water now more welcoming and warm after he's spent time out of it in the cold air. He turns to splash at Steve, and gets caught up staring at the man as he slowly sinks his way into the pool, fingertips gripping the side tightly. It's not that Tony's never seen him shirtless before, they really do like to show Steve's 'perfect form' on the news programs, touting how he's the best all-around athlete the US has ever had, and well, that's always bugged Tony, like how do they know he's the absolute best, it's not like everyone chooses to participate in the decathlon, but that's not the point. The point is Tony has never seen Steve up close, and that's what he brushes this sudden fascination off as, an admiration of human perfection, and nothing else. Nothing at all.
"Shall we?" Steve says, and Jesus, Tony feels like he stepped into a '40s movie where he's playing the role of the girl, and he's being led into a movie theater to watch the damn thing.
"We shall," he smarts back, and kicks away from the wall. His form is the worst and he gets all of three strokes before Steve's passing him in the other lane, all speed and agility and that human perfection Tony'd been admiring moments before. Tony stops when he reaches the other side and just watches Steve as he stretches stroke for stroke back to their starting point. "Is there anything you can't do perfectly?" he calls when Steve surfaces on the other end, shaking water out of his ears.
To his surprise, Steve laughs, loud and full in a way that echoes around the big empty space they're in. "I'm not so hot in the kitchen," he says.
"Wonderful." Tony’s a good cook; actually Tony’s an amazing cook, his father had made him take lessons, even though ‘cooking was the wife’s job’, it was always a good idea to be prepared to fend for yourself.
"Why don't you swim back over here and I can give you some pointers on how to make your strokes more efficient?" Idly, Tony wonders how many laps it would actually take to wear out Steve.
"I'm not touching that one with a ten foot pole. How about you swim back over here so I can save up my energy and kick your ass on the second try?"
"As you wish," Steve replies, and Tony's seen The Princess Bride; he knows how this one is going to end, and he's no woman. Even if he does happen to be good in the kitchen.
"Do you ever even break a sweat?" Tony blurts when Steve arrives in front of him, mere seconds after departing the opposite end of the pool. It's unnatural, is what it is, Tony thinks.
"Well, generally, not in the water. Or if I do, it all gets washed off. I don't know, Tony, do you ever break a sweat in the water?"
"I don't generally spend a lot of time in the water to find out, honestly."
"No, you wouldn't. Too busy training, right?" The way Steve says it is weighted and ever so slightly sad.
"Wishing you were somewhere else right now?"
"No, no, it's not that. I'm grateful to be here, to even have the chance to be here, but I don't know, you ever feel like you're missing out on more important things in life when you spend all your time in training?"
"Wow, bringing down the house there, Steve-o. But yes, boy do I ever. That's why I do my very best to succeed without spending all my time in training, a fact that thrills my father to no end, let me tell you."
"I've read about your father, huge industry mogul that dominates every business venture he gets into and lets nothing stand in his way."
"Yep, that includes his son, don't worry, the articles don't lie."
Steve treads water like does everything else – easily. "Tony, I'm sorry,” he says after a moment.
Steve shrugs. "I don't know. It just seems like the appropriate thing to say."
Tony’s used to being apologized to, ‘I’m sorry Mr. Stark I’ll pick your dry-cleaning right away, “Sorry I wasn’t there to see you perform, son’ and so on and so forth. He probably hears the words three or four times a week, but never really with so much sincerity behind them, and never for so little wrongdoing at the time. "Thanks, then. I think. So uh. Wanna race again?"
"I'd hardly call that a race. And honestly, no, I'd rather do this," As Steve finishes his sentence he wraps a hand around Tony's shoulder, in the same place as before, and pulls him closer in. Tony moves easily, his entire body weight probably feeling like an air bubble to the great and powerful Steve Rogers , and Tony's all caught up in the moment, already totally willing to do whatever Steve wants him to; Steve pauses with both his hands touching Tony, and their eyes meet, wide-eyed expression to wide-eyed expression.
"Yes," Tony breathes, and that's all it takes for Steve to close the gap and kiss him good and proper. And it is good and proper, Tony notes, wrapping his arms around Steve like...well, like a fucking girl and whatever that's fine, he'll play that role if it gets him this close to perfection, Steve's warm hands pulling him closer and closer until there's no space for water to flow in between them, just torso on torso and a thin layer of swim shorts separating them. Tony's hard, and well, let's face it he's been half-hard since Steve stripped off his shirt and climbed in the water, and before long he's rutting up against Steve with no cares in the moment, Steve's tongue sucking and pulling at Tony's and his hands roaming everywhere they can touch. Tony just clings to Steve's neck, too caught up in the feeling to do much else.
"Wait, don't you have somewhere to be in the morning?" Tony realizes, pulling back slightly, his synapses still firing despite all the attention, his brain never shutting up.
"It's just discus in the morning, I could win that with my eyes closed," Steve says confidently, and Tony's pretty sure that'd be dizzyingly impossible, physics and gravity and balance and all that, but he just doesn't care anymore.
"Steve," he says.
"Tony," Steve responds, and Tony's left wondering how in the span in like an hour he's gone from wanting this man to get the fuck away and leave him to dive to his own disastrous fate to grabbing hold of this man and never wanting to let him go. Tony's pretty sure his whole worldview shifted somewhere there in between their first actual meeting and this moment now, arms groping at each other and legs twisting and tangling together.
They keep sinking under the water level, bobbing up and down like a buoy, both sets of legs too tangled in each other to properly support their weight as their exchange of oxygen grows deeper and fiercer. Tony's dizzy from it all, from the high dive to the swimming to Steve's chest pressed against him to Steve's lips crushing against his even as he's pushing Tony up against the pool wall and bracing himself up with his arms and Jesus, Tony's never going to stop being impressed by the pure strength Steve possesses. He manages to stop clinging to Steve like some kind of schoolgirl long enough to wedge a hand down in between them, erections pressing up against each other and rubbing and driving him mad.
He adjusts for the inches of height Steve has on him, wrapping his legs around Steve's body so that their pelvises meet at exactly the same place, and then hastily slides his hand into Steve's shorts. Steve gasps and breaks away from Tony's mouth, his head falling against Tony's shoulder. "I've never-" he starts.
"What, gotten a hand job in a pool? Well, I've never given one so we're equal here."
Steve doesn't reply, but Tony feels him shifting his weight over to his left arm, can see the muscles struggling under the weight of them both, even in the water, and then Steve has his free hand around Tony, has his hand around them both, and suddenly Tony understands where the expression 'seeing stars' comes from.
“Let me,” Steve says, and with Steve’s large hand working at them both despite the friction the water creates, it doesn't take long until Tony's tentative grasp on control breaks, and he comes, shuddering against Steve's chest as Steve finishes himself off.
"Well, this night totally went in a different direction than I expected," Tony manages to say after a bit, his head tucked against Steve's. He can feel Steve smile against his cheek, but he doesn't reply. "Hey you. You with me here? I know I'm mind-blowingly awesome but I can't imagine I've worn America's greatest athlete out?"
"I'm awake. I just didn't- I'm here." Steve pushes himself off the wall, off of Tony and it takes a lungful of chlorine-flavored water for Tony to remember how to swim. "Besides," Steve continues, still smiling, "I'm the one who did most of the work."
"Well I guess next time I'll have to do all the work and show you how awesome I am, huh."
"Next time," Steve says, giving Tony a long look that frankly makes Tony feel a little bit more than exposed, previous incident notwithstanding. "Unfortunately I have somewhere to be in the morning and you were right when you said I should probably be resting right now. Goodnight, Tony."
Tony watches the wet trail of footprints Steve leaves behind for as long as he can, then carefully makes his own way out, his legs a bit unsteady.
He definitely doesn't have any trouble falling asleep once he makes it back to his room.