“You know… there’s one thing I can’t help but wonder about,” Tony suddenly announces, straddling Steve’s hips and making himself comfortable there. Steve looks good in his bed, Tony muses. Dishevelled, comfortable, and lazy; it might just be Tony’s favourite look.
“What do you wonder about?” Steve asks with a small yawn. He stretches a little before he settles back onto the bed, looking up at Tony with an indulgent smile.
“You have a beautiful apartment in Manhattan,” Tony reminds him. “And yet, you’re here again. In my apartment. In my bed. Slumming it.”
Steve chuckles lightly when Tony playfully traces invisible lines on his bare stomach. He takes hold of Tony’s hands and studies them for a moment (they’re scarred and calloused, Tony knows), before he gently kisses the knuckles.
“I like it here,” he finally answers. “It’s your space, after all. And the cat is here, too.”
“I thought you didn’t like the cat,” Tony says, raising an eyebrow. Steve has always been more of a dog person. He wasn’t really the type who was able to appreciate the charms of the tough love of a cat.
“I guess he grew on me,” Steve jokes wryly. “Like a fungus.”
Tony thinks he says something about how comparing his beloved cat to a mushroom is extremely rude, but all he really remembers is his heart threatening to beat out of his chest.
He’s always dreading it, the moment Steve will finally decide that this whole… thing is too much trouble. They are polar opposites; Tony, the prodigal son fallen from grace, and Steve, the street urchin turned coveted artist. Tony can’t go where Steve is, no matter what. Even if he finally bowed to Howard’s demands, he would have to give Steve up forever. And one day, Steve will grow tired of his mess, anyway.
One day, there will be someone better than Tony. Someone easier to love. Someone who can give Steve what he really needs.
Steve smiles up at him, opening his mouth as if to say something.
“Coffee,” Tony blurts out, quickly scrambling off the bed. “I should make coffee.”
Steve doesn’t call after him, and he also doesn’t say anything when he joins Tony in the kitchen a few moments later. Out of the corner of his eyes, Tony can see him pet Nightmare, the jet-black cat gracefully accepting the willingly given affection.
Tony doesn’t dare to look Steve in the eyes when he finally hands him a cup of steaming coffee, but he does get a warm embrace and a kiss on his forehead for his efforts.
Over Steve’s shoulder, Nightmare gives him a judging look.
Tony knows he’s a coward. But he’ll keep running as long as he can.