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while you were sleeping

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Everyone’s gone to bed except for him and Steve, and Steve seems pretty comfy with sleeping on Tony’s chest, the weirdo. He has this thing for the arc reactor, Tony has realized- Steve draws it, renders it in charcoal and watercolours.

It’s comforting, Steve told him once. It means you’re around.

Tony doesn’t remember what he had replied, but he’s sure it had been sarcastic and short-lived, since he remembers going down to the workshop to let himself blush like a twelve year old girl.

"Fuck, I love you," Tony hears himself say, and then he freezes. But Steve’s deep breathing doesn’t stir and none of his teammates pop out from behind the TV to yell ‘AHA,’ so Tony relaxes.

Minutes pass and the Tower seems well and truly asleep, so Tony takes a breath and says, quietly, just in case: “You know, I can’t tell you how much easier it was when we hated each other. That was- simple. I could handle that.”

Steve’s chest lifts and falls, and Tony tells himself it would be getting too creepy if he brushed that bit of hair back from Steve’s forehead. 

He sighs. “I don’t even know what the hell happened, honestly. All I can remember is suddenly we liked each other and it, it fit, it worked. And that was fine, it was good, made us a better team and whatnot. But then I got too attached, as always. I tried to ignore it for the first few months, told myself it was because you’re hot- which, oh my god, you’re so hot, it’s unfair. Fuck you for being so hot, Steve.”

He’s whispering now, and Steve keeps breathing deep, uninterrupted breaths as he sleeps on Tony’s chest, his cheek pressed against the arc reactor.

"But it wasn’t," Tony says, and pauses, swallows against a suddenly dry throat. "It was because you’re a sarcastic little shit, and you’re interesting, and you care so fucking much, and you care about me and you argue with me and sometimes I think I could argue with you for the rest of my life and be happy with it, because at least you’d be around, and come on, arguing can get pretty fun when it comes to us. And, and you’re really funny, which was a kicker, Cap, I didn’t expect that."

One of his hands is trapped under Steve’s arm, so he uses his free hand to push it through his hair, eyes on Steve’s sleeping face. 

"You’re incredible, Steve," Tony says, soft. "I wish you’d believe it, it’d obvious you don’t, you have the self esteem of a teenage girl, it’s awful. You’re amazing, you don’t realize how fucking good you are, how lucky we all are to be around you. How lucky I am to- to fall for you, even though some of the time it hurts like a bitch and I’m convinced you’re the worst thing that could ever happen to me. But most of the time I’m just, I’m just glad I got to know you. It’s a privilege, it really is."

He falls silent, and nothing moves apart from their chests, filling with air and then emptying. Tony listens to them breathe in tandem, slow and even, for a long time.

He winces when he realizes his legs are going numb. “Okay, shit,” he mutters, and eventually just nudges Steve off of him while wriggling out from underneath him, and ends up falling onto the floor.

"Ow," he says into the carpet, and gets up with the least amount of noise he can get away with.

He’s looking around for a blanket to put over Steve when he feels a hand close around his wrist.

He stiffens, turning around to apologize for nudging Steve out of his sleep, but stops when he sees Steve’s expression.

Steve is staring at Tony with bright, shiny eyes, a disbelieving smile on his face, and hope and absolute terror leap in Tony in equal amounts.

"Uh," Tony says. He clears his throat. "I was going to get you a blanket-"

"Did you really mean all that," Steve blurts, sounding so damn happy, which he doesn’t sound like often enough.

He’s smiling, smiling is a good thing, he isn’t going to punch you, Tony reminds himself. UNLESS HE’S LULLING YOU INTO A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY, another part of his mind screams, and Tony tells that part to kindly fuck off.

"I, well, yeah, yep," Tony says, and shrugs. Shrugs a few more times for good measure. God, he is so bad at this.

The fingers around his wrist tighten and then loosen. “You- love me?”

"Yeah," Tony mumbles after a moment, and Steve laughs, this lovely, happy laugh, before he tugs Tony in so Tony is all but on his lap.

Tony’s breath catches as Steve runs his thumbs down Tony’s cheeks. “All those things you said,” he says. “God, Tony.”

"You could’ve mentioned you were awake," Tony protests weakly. 

"I- sort of thought I was dreaming," Steve admits, and Tony’s chest clenches. "Didn’t want to risk waking up."

Tony nods jerkily, leans forwards so his forehead is bumping Steve’s. “From your reaction, I assume you’re not going to kick me off the team.”

"I’d never do that."

Tony snorts. “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

"Tony."

"Look, I’m really embarrassed right now," Tony says, meeting Steve’s eyes cautiously. "Just- if you’re going to let me down easy-"

"What part of this says I’m letting you down easy, or at all," Steve says, and Tony holds back a shiver when Steve’s stroking fingers trail down the sides of his neck. "I’m keeping you for as long as you’ll have me, mister."

Tony feels his mouth do a funny little spasm. “Well, good.”

"Good," Steve says softly, and presses a kiss to Tony’s chin, his cheek, before pressing a hesitant kiss to Tony’s lips, which open instantly under his.

Steve breathes a moan into Tony’s mouth before pulling back, peppering Tony’s face, his neck, with kisses.

"Keeping you," he mutters, and Tony tilts his neck back, lets Steve press his lips there before moving up to kiss his eyebrow, then his ear, and this time when he goes to kiss Tony’s mouth, Tony keeps him there.