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At 4 AM

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Tony was exhausted.  It was the sort of exhausted where he’d stopped really noticing the sleep deprivation a while ago, it was just sort of there, jittery under his skin, making him have to concentrate harder to keep his hands steady with the soldering and building up behind his eyes until he started to wonder if the fumes were why they were burning or if he’d smeared oil in one of them before he realized it was just the lack of sleep.  He downed another cup of black coffee, noticing it was grainy and sludgy and making a face but forcing it down anyway, and told himself it wouldn’t be that much longer, he just had to get this done.

When the voice cut into his work, he would have jumped, if he hadn’t trained that reflex out of himself a long time ago when he was elbow-deep in wires (in this case, upgrades to one of the quinjet engines).  Instead he looked up into the frowning, slightly concerned face of Steve Rogers.  He had one hand braced on the engine and was looking down at Tony where he was crouching on the floor.  ”Uh,” Tony said, vaguely.  His voice sounded rather scratchy, he noticed as if from far away.  ”Hey.”

"Hey, yourself," Steve said.  "What are you up to?"

"Working," Tony told him, reached for his other screwdriver.  "What does it look like."

"Sleepwalking," Steve told him drily, then licked his thumb, reached down to rub it over Tony’s forehead.  It made a warm tingle go through him, prickling under his skin, which was a bit embarrassing.  Tony just hoped he wasn’t blushing.  "Your face is covered in grease," he informed him.

Tony scowled.  ”I know,” he said.  ”I was going to take a shower before I came to bed.  And you’re not as funny as you think you are.”

"I am every bit as funny as I think I am, thank you, mister," Steve said.  "Do you know what time it is?"

"It’s 1 am," Tony said.

"Try again, math genius," Steve said, smirking.  "It’s 4 am."

Tony blinked.  ”Really?” he said.  His head felt heavy, and kind of hurt, he realized.

"Really," Steve told him.  Tony looked up at the clock on the wall, and it swam blearily in his vision.

4 am.  Well, damn.

"You didn’t sleep last night, either," Steve observed.

"Yeah, well," Tony said, finishing with the interior panel he was replacing and pulling his hands out to wipe them on his jeans.  "Some of us have work to do."

"I’m a widow to the job," Steve said, mournfully, pulling a fake sad face that Tony knew was fake but still felt like a blow to his chest with guilt.  Damn those big blue innocent-looking eyes and the sad little pout Steve got to his lips.

"Har har," Tony said in the most sardonic tone he could manage this sleep deprived, then frowned down at his hands.  "I mean," he said, scrubbing at the oil on his wrists, "I had a lot to do for the business last night, but I didn’t want to let the quinjet repairs go too long, and this is the last engine to upgrade—"  He felt that sick welling of guilt rising up in him again and swallowed against it.  Steve was right, he was a horrible boyfriend, neglecting him all the time, and—

Steve reached out, curled his hand around Tony’s neck, and kissed the disgusting, greasy, sweaty side of his head.  ”Stop that,” he said.  ”I was joking.”

"Yeah, well," Tony said, shrugging and trying his best to brush it off.  "It’s nothing new, that’s for sure."

"And you end up lying alone in bed all the time while I’m off patrolling or on a mission," Steve said.  His fingers drifted down along Tony’s jaw, curled briefly around his chin.  "Hey," he said.  "Stop it.  How much do you have left to do?"

"It’s just this," Tony said, apologetic.  He looked up at Steve.  "I’ll come up to bed after, I swear."

"Nah," Steve said.  "I’ll stay down here."  He tilted his head toward the cot in the corner.  "I want to be with you.  Come wake me when you’re done."

"Steve," Tony tried, "go back to bed—"

"Nope," Steve said.  "I’d rather be here." He leaned in and kissed Tony, a quick little brush of his lips.  "Mmm, engine oil," he said.  "That’s my guy."

Tony had to laugh, and shoved at him.  ”You jerk,” he said.

Steve winked and sauntered over to the cot.  Tony watched him go, feeling his heart doing something strange, hot and tight in his chest, rather than just the expected flush of heat from watching the muscles in Steve’s ass shift.  ”Okay,” he said, swallowing hard.  ”Sleep well.”

"Mmhmm," Steve agreed, settling himself into the cot and flicking the blanket there over his bare feet, pillowing his head on his arm.  He smiled at him.  "Sure thing."

When Tony was finished, he took a quick shower, rushing through it, careful to wash his hair and scrub the grease from his hands, then went to kneel beside the cot, touching one hand to Steve’s shoulder.  ”Steve,” he tried.

Steve just smiled and snaked one hand out to tug at Tony without opening his eyes.  ”Hey!” Tony said, “Steve, wake up—what about the bed, come on—” but Steve got him around the waist and finally it just wasn’t worth it to fight it and Tony let himself be dragged into the cot.  It groaned a little, but they both fit, if they were pressed tightly together.

"Shh," Steve said.  "Sleep now, darlin'." He turned his head without looking and brushed a soft, lingering kiss over Tony’s lips.  Tony felt a wave of heat go through him at the sweet, slow touch of warmth, even as Steve’s arm slid around him, hand going to the small of his back.  "Love you," Steve sighed, and Tony felt his throat seize up.

"Steve," he said, and his voice was barely more than a whisper, he did whisper his name the next time, half thinking he shouldn’t wake him, "Steve—"

"Shhddup it’s four am," Steve slurred.

"Actually it’s five," Tony said, half-laughing, near-hysteria catching in his throat.  "I—I love you, too, you know that?  You know, right?"

"Of course I know," Steve mumbled.  His hand slid up into Tony’s hair and he pressed their lips together again, sleepily.  "Don’t lose your marbles; you’re nervier than a live wire ‘cause you didn’t sleep.  You go to sleep now, mister, y’hear?"

Tony pressed his forehead into Steve’s shoulder and took a few deep breaths, and Steve arranged the blanket over both of them, slung his arm over Tony again, and seemed to go back to sleep.  It was actually plenty warm; Steve’s big body like a furnace radiating warmth all through Tony, and he felt his eyes closing despite himself, even though he felt like he shouldn’t be able to sleep after that.  ”I love you, too,” he sighed, and then he was asleep.  He might have dreamed the brush of Steve’s lips against his forehead, but maybe he didn’t.