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Dreaming Together

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Being in the future was weird.

Before, when he’d thought about the future, he saw himself returned from war, successful, with an amazing dame. They’d have kids and a small home to raise them in, and maybe a dog. It was a simple dream, warm and golden in his mind.

When he’d thought about the future, he’d never thought of this. The technology, the fast pace, the language: everything was just different enough to make him feel constantly out of step with the world around him.

But he was still Captain America. His country might have changed, but he’s defending it, just liked he’d always wanted.

Plus, he has his team, and while it wasn’t the white picket fence that he’d always imagined, he knows that he can trust them.

He’d given up on the rest of it until Tony, which was pretty funny given that Tony was definitely not an amazing dame. Well, amazing, yes. Dame, no.

Tony taught him that his dreams weren’t wrong, just too small to fit into the future. It was only by letting them grow that he could have everything he’d wanted.

Tony talks more to machines than he does to people, and he’s addicted to coffee and hardly ever sleeps. He laughs when Steve wins their sparring matches and bites his lip when he comes, hands shaking as they move across Steve’s skin.

And Steve can’t help but think that since he has all this... maybe he can have the rest of it, too.

*

Snow is falling gently, and Steve’s not sure if it’s just New York in December or if it’s Loki, who has already fled.

Thor doesn’t look troubled, though, so Steve decides not to worry. “One day,” Thor announces when he walks up, “My brother will take a stand when we approach instead of abandoning this realm, and then you will see a true battle!”

Steve smiles and clasps Thor’s shoulder, but can’t help hoping that Thor is wrong. He’s not sure New York would survive.

They both turn at the sound of Iron Man’s repulsors to see him landing with far more grace than usual, but Steve doesn’t even have time to ask about it before he spots the tiny figure cradled against the armor.

“And who is this fair maiden?” Thor asks with a wide smile.

The little girl doesn’t answer, just hides her face against Tony’s armor, and Steve is absolutely head over heels at the sight of Tony holding her. He looks so natural, patting her back gently with the same hands Steve has seen punch though walls, and says, “We haven’t been formally introduced, but she’s a real princess, so mind your manners, Thor.”

“Apologies, my lady,” Thor intones with a dramatic bow. She giggles, turning her head to peek out from behind her curly, dark hair.

Tony beams at her. “Can you tell me your name, Princess? We need to find your mom.”

She merely sticks a thumb in her mouth, other hand still clutching Tony’s armor, but it doesn’t matter because her mother finds them, running up and flinging herself at Tony. He rocks back a little to cushion her impact, and she’s clutching Tony’s armor much like her daughter, crying and hugging them both.

Steve smiles fondly as Tony gets them both calmed down and into the hands of the police.

Tony gives him a flat look and asks, “What?” But Steve just shakes his head and smiles wider.

*

Tony is sitting at his workbench, leaning over his current project with Dummy at his side. Steve doesn’t know what he’s working on, something small but probably deadly, and Tony is focused and relaxed, talking continuously to Dummy in a low undertone.

It is so easy for Steve to imagine that it’s not Dummy, that it’s a small boy with spiky, dark hair and bright, blue eyes that Tony is teaching and encouraging.

“Tony,” he says, and Tony tilts his head so that Steve knows he’s listening, although his eyes don’t leave his work, “I want to have kids.”

That makes Tony look up, eyes wide with shock. He stares numbly, Dummy waving next to him in larger and larger motions, and then the small machine sparks, and Tony jumps and looks away. He waves his hand, and starts speaking, “Honestly, the only time you don’t have a fire extinguisher, and we need one. No, it’s fine, I’ve got it.” His voice is higher than usual and too fast, and Steve frowns. “Actually, you know what, I need that thing to fix this, yes, that thing. I’ll just go get that, right.”

He throws Steve one last panicked look and flees.

Steve sighs and rubs one hand over his face, but he lets Tony go. It’s his own fault for dropping that bombshell without any preparation. He really should know better, does know Tony better than that. He’ll let Tony calm down and then corner him tomorrow and make him talk about it.

*

“Steven!” Thor booms, knocking hard enough to make the entire door shake, and Steve jerks awake. No alarms from JARVIS or his communicator, so probably not an emergency. He takes a deep breath, and then hurries to open the door when Thor knocks again, the wood rattling in the frame.

“Thor, hi,” Steve says, squinting into the brightly lit hall. Tony is there, too, held against Thor’s side in a way that makes Steve think they’ve been drinking for some time now. Tony is also refusing to meet Steve’s eyes.

“We have come to demand the name of your new lady! A duel will be held for the right to your affections!” Thor exclaims, looking extremely excited at the prospect. “I will be Tony’s second,” he adds when Steve stares, completely bewildered.

“...What?” Steve asks.

“I know that you and I would not think to challenge a lady,” Thor says, completely misinterpreting Steve’s confusion, “But Jane has informed me that here you honor women by treating them as equals capable of fighting their own battles.” The last is said earnestly and somewhat stilted, as if he was a child repeating a lesson learned by rote.

That does not really clarify things. “Tony, what’s going on?”

Tony looks up at last and gives a small smile. He tries to focus on Steve, but eventually settles for leaning his head back against Thor’s chest and facing Steve’s direction. “Nothing,” Tony says, his words pronounced slowly but steadily. “Don’t worry about it. You can break up with me without,” he pauses and goes on more carefully, “con-se-quences. Or duels. No duels needed.”

“Okay,” Steve says carefully, a knot of alarm settling low in his stomach. “That’s... good to know, I guess, but I’m not breaking up with you.”

“Right, yeah,” Tony agrees. “Been there, done that.”

Steve takes a deep breath, ignoring Thor’s gentle confusion. Steve cannot believe he is having to say this, but, “Tony, we have not broken up.”

“Yes, we did,” Tony says immediately.

“No, we didn’t,” Steve argues. “I didn’t break up with you. You didn’t break up with me.” He pauses. “Did you want to break up?”

“No!” Tony exclaims.

“Ah, my friends, I see!” Thor laughs, body shaking with it and making Tony jerk. “A misunderstanding only. I am very glad that nothing has come between you.” Then he frowns. “Although, I was greatly looking forward to the duel.” Tony makes a face at that, but Thor can’t see him. “I will leave Tony in your care, Steven, so that you may make amends.”

“Yeah,” Steve says, accepting a swaying Tony from Thor’s hold. “Thanks for looking after him.”

“It was nothing, my friends. I believe I will have some Poptarts and then retire as well. Have a good evening!” Thor winks and grins.

Steve doesn’t know how to respond to that, but Thor turns and leaves without waiting for a response, so he pulls Tony inside and shuts the door.

Tony is squinting at him in the low light, an exaggerated pout on his lips. “You did break up with me,” he insists.

Steve sighs and fetches a glass of water from the bathroom. “Drink this,” he orders, and Tony does, but once it’s empty, the look is back.

“You did,” he whines softly, leaning into Steve as he starts to undress Tony.

“I’m not talking to you about this while you’re drunk,” Steve says firmly. “We’ll talk tomorrow, okay?”

“Okay,” Tony says and crawls into bed, cuddling up to Steve as he pulls the covers over them both. “Steve?” he asks after a minute.

“Yes, Tony?”

“I’m glad you didn’t break up with me,” Tony says, voice small and still faintly slurred.

“Me, too,” Steve replies. “Now go to sleep.” Tony sighs and goes limp, and soon his breathing evens out, but Steve lies awake in the dark for a long time.

*

When Steve wakes up in the morning, Tony is already awake and quietly watching him. He looks blurry, but wears his hangover with the ease of long practice.

“I’d think I was dreaming,” Tony says, voice rough, “But I never have headaches and morning breath in my dreams.”

“This is real,” Steve says, fitting his hand over the curve of Tony’s rib and rubbing his thumb gently back and forth. He doesn’t say that it serves him right for drinking, because as much as Steve hates it, Tony has enough people who judge him without Steve adding to it. “Want to tell me why you were so sure I’d broken up with you?”

Tony tenses, but doesn’t move away. “Well, you said you wanted kids. I can’t give you kids. I figured you’d finally found someone who could.”

Steve closes his eyes briefly, sad beyond words at Tony’s assumption that he’ll eventually leave even if he is well-acquainted with this particular insecurity, and then smiles, teasing, “You mean my genius billionaire boyfriend couldn’t think of a single way to give me a kid?”

Tony sighs. “Not what I meant. I can’t - Steve, listen to me - I can’t be a father. I literally cannot do it. And if telling you that means you leave me now instead of later... well, then it’s probably for the best.”

“Tony, no,” Steve interjects before Tony can say anything else. “Hey, listen. It wasn’t an ultimatum. I wasn’t saying ‘give me kids or I’m going to leave you’. That’s not what I meant at all. We’re in a relationship, so I told you about what I want. If you don’t want the same thing, then we talk about it and decide what we’re going to do together. Do you understand me, Tony?” he asks, making sure Tony’s eyes are locked on his, “Together. Because that’s the only way I want to do this.”

“Okay,” Tony replies, voice thick with emotions. Steve smiles and kisses him gently, enjoying the way Tony grips his wrist and pulls him even closer.

“Hey, Tony,” Steve says after a minute.

“What?”

“How do you feel about a dog?” Steve asks hesitantly.

Tony gives him an incredulous look for a second before he bursts out laughing, long and loud. When he winds down, smile still crinkling the corner of his eyes, he says, “We can definitely talk about it.”

“Good,” Steve says and kisses him again.