"Do you think I'm a pushover," Steve asked as they sat in Howard's workshop. Steve was supposed to be studying for finals and Howard was just… tinkering.
"Yes, completely. Pass me that screwdriver." He held out his hand.
Steve sighed and gently smacked his palm with said tool. "I’m serious. Do you?"
"No, I don't. If anything I'm the pushover in this relationship." That should probably upset him more than it does. "Why?"
"I don't know." Steve shrugged. "I was Skyping with Bucky and… and he said I was a pushover."
"You probably shouldn't put much stock in the opinions of guys who are nicknamed Bucky."
Steve smiled at that. "He's one of my best friends."
"Which means he was probably winding you up." Howard put down the screwdriver and stretched. "Why don't we watch a movie? Or I could give you a blowjob."
Steve's eyes lit up. "Can we watch The Philadelphia Story?"
"Seriously? You'd rather watch a movie than get a blowjob? Are you sick?"
"I can get a blowjob anytime, Howard. But how often do we watch movies together?" Steve hopped off his stool and tugged on Howard's hand. "Let's go, Stark."
"I hate you so much right now," he said, allowing himself to be pulled to his feet.
"Aww, poor baby. You get the dvd set up and I'll make popcorn, it'll be fun." Steve gave him a peck on the cheek and grinned.
Howard grabbed Steve by the front of his t-shirt and kissed him hard on the mouth. "I'm such a pushover."
"And I love you for it, babe."
They were in their favorite position on the couch: Howard sprawled on his back, head in Steve's lap, a bowl of popcorn sitting on his chest, when Steve interrupted their movie viewing.
"So I was thinking," Steve said.
"Did it hurt?"
"Funny." Steve ran buttery fingers across Howard's cheek in retaliation: Howard just smirked at him and wiped the butter off with a napkin. "Like I said, I was thinking, your birthday—"
"No." He looked up at Steve. "No party, no presents, no balloons or special meals, no birthday wishes. Nothing."
Steve looked absolutely devastated, but this was one thing Howard refused to give in to. The last birthday he voluntarily celebrated was his 21st (the less said about the 40th bash Tony put together the better).
"Steve, promise me."
"I promise," Steve muttered. "Nothing special."
"Thank you." Howard set the bowl of popcorn on the coffee table, then turned over and nuzzled Steve's crotch. "Let me show you how much I appreciate that."
Steve gently pushed him away. "Let's watch the movie."
He frowned, stung by Steve's rejection. "Are you pissed at me?"
"No, I want to watch the movie." Steve ran his fingers through Howard's hair and smiled gently at him. "Maybe later, okay?"
"Okay." He sat up, cupped Steve's face—was Steve warmer than usual?—and kissed him. "I love you."
"I love you, too." Steve kissed Howard's palm, then turned back to the movie.
He took his cue from Steve, watching the tv screen for a few minutes, before he said, "Do you have a fever?"
"Oh, yeah. The SHIELD doctors say it's no big deal. Pass me the popcorn."
Howard almost stayed home on his birthday, but with all the paperwork on his desk, he felt it best to go into work after all. And it wasn't so bad, really. Most people knew he didn't do that birthday thing, and his secretary ran interference so whatever cards and gifts he did get, would be opened and dealt with accordingly.
It was Steve he was worried about. Steve who could be like a dog with a bone when it came to things like holidays and birthdays and, God, Howard did not want to hurt Steve again. He'd been doing it too much as of late.
The only warning he got when he walked in the door, not that he needed a warning, was a look from Jarvis and a "Steven has informed me that he is giving me the night off."
"Really?" That was… unprecedented.
Of course with pay. "Well, I hope you have something lovely planned. Where is your new employer?"
"Where he's been all afternoon, sir, in the kitchen."
Please, don't let it be a cake. "Thank you, Jarvis." He set his briefcase on the couch, took off his tie and jacket, and warily made his way to the kitchen. The smell of freshly baked cookies hit him as he entered the room and his mouth watered.
Steve was sitting at the island, flipping through a cookbook and eating what looked like a chocolate chunk macadamia nut cookie. He looked up and smiled. "Hi."
"Um, hello." At least it wasn't cake.
"You want some cookies?" Steve waved the cookie in his hand.
"I don't like macadamia nuts." He sat across the island from Steve. If Steve gave him one, he could probably choke it down.
"Oh, no, these are mine." Steve grabbed the cookie jar off the counter, took off the top and offered it to Howard. "These are yours."
"You... You made me persimmon cookies." Howard reached in and took a few.
"No, because that would make them birthday cookies and you don’t celebrate your birthday. These cookies are non-birthday related. They're non-birthday cookies." Steve set down the jar. "Milk?"
"Yes, please," he said, though he could really do with something stronger, and took a bite. "They're very good non-birthday cookies."
Steve grinned at him and poured them both a glass of milk. "Maybe next year I'll make you some non-birthday cupcakes."
"Whoa, hold on there. That might be a bit too much for me." He drank some milk. "So Jarvis tells me you gave him the night off."
Steve blushed. "Yeah, sorry about that, but I thought… I thought we could break some of Tony's rules and I didn't want him stumbling on us. You don't mind, do you?"
"Don’t make a habit of it," he said gently.
"I won't, I promise." Steve smiled at him, then walked over and kissed him. "How was work?"
"Busy. Very, very, busy." He wrapped an arm around Steve and pulled him closer. He hated his birthday, but this wasn't so bad. "So what's for dinner?"
"I thought we could order from Angelo's." Steve nuzzled his mouth and pressed against him.
"You hate Angelo's. You think their pizzas have too much sauce. Which they don't, by the way." He tried to slip his hands under Steve's shirt, but was stopped.
"But you love Angelo's. And we got what I wanted last time." Steve nipped his bottom lip and smiled.
Howard blinked, they had. He also remembered that Steve had promised Howard that they would get what he liked next time. "You're an asshole."
Steve beamed at him. "Eat your cookies. I'll call Angelo's."
After dinner, which was perfect, Steve led him to the living room and pushed him down on the rug in front of the fireplace.
"Very cliché," he said, drawing Steve down beside him.
"Yeah." Steve kissed him, slow and deep, easing a tongue between his lips.
Howard hummed softly and nipped Steve's tongue, sliding hands under Steve's shirt to touch smooth, warm skin. He frowned when his fingers skittered over a strange patch of skin on Steve's stomach. He breaks the kiss. "What the hell is that?"
"Oh, yeah!" Steve laughed and pulled off his shirt, then he stretched out on his back.
Howard let out a surprised snort and touched the temporary tattoo on Steve's belly. "Property of Stark Industries, huh?"
"The gift shop at Stark Tower didn’t have a 'Property of Howard Stark' tattoo. I couldn't even find one online, though there's one for Tony."
He skimmed his fingers against the writing, then leaned in to lick a strip across it; Steve's breath stuttered. "Nice. So very nice."
"I thought you might like it," Steve said. He ran his fingers through Howard's hair and smiled. "I'd love a blowjob."
Howard raised an eyebrow. "I don't get one first?"
"If we were celebrating your birthday, yes. But since we're not, you'll just have to wait. Now get on it." He tugged at Howard's hair. "No one's getting any younger, Howard."
Howard glared at him and Steve grinned back, unrepentant.
"So?" Steve asked, his voice slurred with the aftermath of pleasure.
Howard glanced at Steve, who looked flushed and happy, and sighed. "This was the best non-birthday I've ever had. Thank you."
"Ha!" Steve closed his eyes and smirked.
Howard turned on his side to run his fingers down the curve of Steve's shoulder, down the arm to the inside of the elbow, where he encountered pink, puckered flesh. He frowned. "What happened here?"
"Hmm? Oh." Steve's face tightened before relaxing back to nonchalance. "I cut myself."
Howard curled his fingers against the wounds, his belly tightening in discomfort. There was something about the inflection in Steve's voice that didn't sit right with him. "How?"
There was a slight hesitation, then Steve said, "I was working on a project for art class, we were doing a section on metals, and I wasn't paying attention to the sharp edges. It's no big deal."
Except that it was because Steve was lying. Howard knew what accidental wounds looked like, especially ones from metal, and those looked… He swallowed hard. "That’s why you should wear safety gear when you're working with metal."
"Yeah." Steve opened his eyes. "Hey, relax. They'll fade away soon enough."
Howard nodded and pressed a kiss to the flesh. "I love you."
Steve pulled him closer. "I love you, too."