After Steve’s nervous fidgeting gets annoying instead of cute, Bucky starts threatening him.
"If you don’t go over there in the next five seconds I’ll go over there and shove my tongue down his throat," Bucky says finally, out of sheer desperation, because these two idiots have been gaga over each other for years now and there’s only so much a man can take, watching his best friend make goo-goo eyes at Stark and looking away in time to miss the look being returned tenfold.
Steve twists his hands together. God knows how sweaty they must be by now. “You wouldn’t.”
"I would," Bucky says, half-convinced. "You’ve pushed me that far, Rogers."
Steve sighs, still sneaking glances over at Tony as he talks to Bucky. “Buck, quit it. If I go over there and ask him to dance, he’ll either laugh in my face or make some excuse so I don’t feel bad. Even if he agrees- I don’t want a pity dance.”
Bucky catches Sam’s eyes and makes a motion towards Steve that he hopes communicates how done he is right now. Sam, the fucker, makes the connection but waves helplessly towards Natasha, who is dancing with him.
Traitor, Bucky thinks at him, hoping Sam can catch bad vibes from the glare Bucky is aiming at him. “Well,” he drawls, un-slinging his arm from Steve’s shoulders and taking a step towards Tony. “If you won’t-“
"What are you-" Steve grabs his arm. "Buck, he hates you!"
"So I’ll get punched." Bucky shrugs him off. "I’m serious, Stevie, if you don’t go over there-"
"Nothing I can do about it, my feet are-"
"He’s going to punch you and he’ll hurt his hand on your dumb face-"
"Oop, almost halfway there-"
"Fine," Steve hisses, and Bucky hardly manages not to do a victory fist-pump. Steve is flushing red all over, which is hard to see in the dimmed lights, but Bucky supposes Tony will be able to see it once he gets close enough.
"I’m only doing this to stop you getting hit," Steve whispers furiously, and Bucky nods seriously and watches as Steve’s anger carries him over in a stalk that would never happen if Bucky hadn’t pushed him to the brink.
Screw anyone that said Bucky Barnes wasn’t a grade-A friend.
Steve’s anger fizzles out with every step he takes, and by the time he’s a foot away from Tony it’s gone and is replaced by the usual gut-churning nervousness.
Tony is turned away from him, standing in a semi-circle with Bruce and Pepper. Steve’s about to scrap the whole idea and walk off, let Bucky get punched after all, but then Pepper notices him.
He smiles weakly and is pretty sure it comes out half-grimace, which is nothing compared to Pepper’s blinding grin that breaks out when she sees Steve’s blush.
She pokes Tony’s shoulder, and then slaps him on it and points over his shoulder. “Steve wants to talk to you,” she says, weirdly smug, like she knows something he doesn’t.
Tony’s reaction is not promising: he jerks and then whirls around, eyes wide as he stares at Steve. “Hey,” he says, sounding breathless even though Steve has been watching him for the past twenty minutes and knows he’s been standing still the whole time.
"Hi," Steve says, and Bruce and Pepper are both moving back into the crowd as fast as they possibly can, what’s up with that?
They stand there, blinking and fidgeting until Steve realizes, oh, right, and blurts, “Uh, Bucky said- he- would you like to dance?”
"What does that have to do with Bucky Barnes," Tony says after a second, and Steve flounders, making pointless ‘um’ noises, and god, this was a terrible idea, Steve is going to retreat with his tail between his legs and go home and bury his head in his pillow and try to forget this ever happened.
He’s turning to leave and do just that before Tony says, “Hey, no, wait,” and there’s a hand on Steve’s arm turning him around. Tony’s eyes are as bright as ever under the lights. “You said something about a dance?”
"Yeah," Steve says, and swallows. "I. A dance? With me? Do you want-"
"I want," Tony nods, and Steve swallows again.
"Okay," he squeaks, and god, he’s one of the biggest guys in their school apart from Thor and he’s squeaking like he hasn’t since puberty.
Like it’s meant to be- or, more likely, Bucky broke into the booth and paid someone to do it- a slow, romantic song starts, all piano and slow, gauzy notes, and they rearrange themselves awkwardly on the dancefloor.
"I’m not, uh-" Steve swallows again as Tony puts a hand on his waist, takes his other hand in his. Steve puts his hand on Tony’s shoulder and tries again. "I don’t know how to dance," he admits quietly.
Tony’s smile is small, but it warms Steve to his toes, filtering through the blinding nerves. God, he’s going to sweat all over Tony. It’s going to be awful.
"I’ll teach you," Tony promises. "Box step, Steve, easy as pie. Follow my lead."
It takes a while for Steve to look up from their feet, but when he does, Tony’s expression makes him stumble.
Tony doesn’t seem to mind.