It's not that he wants to, or that he prefers spending his time chasing Tony around to sleeping or catching up on all the trash TV Jarvis records for him in the room Tony gave him on the Malibu property, but... Well, they both knew how Tony gets, cooped up in his workshop for days at a time, only interacting with Jarvis and occasionally, Pepper. And really, he does have better things to do than play baby sitter and test whatever new thing Tony's built in a fit of insomnia. But than, Tony always did have the best toys.
They take off from Malibu as soon as Natalie swings by for Pepper, both of them clicking through the kitchen, sipping freshly made espressos on outrageously high heels and lips quirked in secret little smiles between them.
He knows Tony is awake, but he waits to head down to his workshop until Happy pulls away from the mansion with the two most terrifying red heads he's met in his entire life, according to Tony at least. Tony is already half in the Iron Man suit, grinning wide and easy when Jim tugs off his tie, starts shucking clothes onto the couch in the corner of the room.
He rolls his eyes, stands at parade rest on the spot he knows will start to assemble the War Machine around his body, and snipes, "Been a while since you were allowed to play with the big boy toys, think you can keep up?"
They fly out as soon as the suits are on and okay'd to function by Jarvis, -because Tony is jumping out of his skin in a way that tells Jim he needs this- repulsor streams lighting up the California blue morning sky as they zoom up and out of the garage. The sound of Tony's laugh over the comm link Jarvis has set up between them; loud and fucking joyous; loosens something in his chest, in the pit of his stomach. It sinks into his bones and he can't help but smile along as they loop past each other, as he imagines the genuine smile stretching across Tony's face nonstop since they left the mansion.
Tony hasn't smiled like that in years, not really, not since before Afghanistan, and hearing the smile on his voice as he whoops, somersaults twice through the air before flying back to glide along side him. Jim rolls his eyes, Tony flips onto his back and crosses his arms behind his head, flipping his face plate up and shouting.
"Hey, Sweet Tart, how's it going?"
"I still have the bigger guns, Tony." Jim replies, only because ignoring Tony always ends in someone getting shot at, blown up, or chewed out by Pepper.
"Aww, don't be like that Sour Patch-"
"Bigger guns, Tony."
"I'll call Pepper." He finally sighs, and regrets it immediately. Tony tenses in the armor and starts to turn over, his face plate coming down to block him from view.
"Hey, wait." He starts, puts on a burst of speed to catch up to Tony, flies in close and lifts his face plate long enough to grin, big and stupidly childlike all over again for him -always for Tony, really; only ever for Tony no matter how many people he tries for- before snapping it back down, tapping Tony's side with a gauntlet and shouting, "You're it!"
The game of tag -and, really, only Tony could have Jim convinced a game that got old for them in pre school was the thing for two grown ass men to do on the first free morning they've had in months- goes about as well as could be expected. Tony is unsurprisingly fantastic at it, once they smooth out a few rules -"No, repulsors don't count." and "so help me, if you fire at my head again Tony..."- and a points system. Jarvis keeps score. Tony wins, but only just, and by the time they're back in the workshop it's about time for lunch.
Tony gets handsy when theres the promise of food and coffee, and Jim doesn't even pretend to mind the distraction of Tony's mouth, hot and eager slanting against his. They peel themselves out of sweat drenched clothes, finally padding bare foot upstairs; half naked and totally relaxed. Tony's smiling, doesn't stop when Pepper comes into view, perched on a stool at the island in the kitchen, tablet in front of her and blackberry in hand. She arches an immaculate eyebrow at Jim, and he shrugs, steers Tony away from the coffee maker on the corner of the counter by the shoulders, shoving him into a seat.
"You cook?" She asks and Tony drops his head onto her shoulder, pressing a kiss to her cheek that she smiles briefly for.
"Rhodey can do everything, can't you Cookie Crisp?" Tony says, waggling his eyebrows and still smiling. Jim rolls his eyes, ignores how his heart seems to beat too fast and out of time in favor of opening the fridge and muttering,
"I'm ignoring you and eating all of your eggs, you don't deserve them."
Jim wakes up three days later with Tony leaning over him, so close he could count his eye lashes if he wanted to -he doesn't, but it's not a bad option to have,- and smiling like he himself had just woken up and remembered Jim was there. He doesn't flinch away or yell, though he should, follow it with a call to Pepper so they can have the talk about personal space and boundaries again and pretend Tony's listening. He does frown a little, poking Tony in the neck and making him chuckle. Jarvis lights up the floor to ceiling window with weather reports and a notice that Pepper is in the kitchen waiting for Tony.
"Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey, Snicker doodle."
"We talked about this man, you can't use that unless there's actual eggs and bacon for breakfast."
"Alright, Wakey, wakey, coffee and... Well, more coffee, I guess." Tony shrugs, tugs Jim's hand into his own and pulls him to his feet.
They shuffle into the kitchen, and Jim only notices they're still linked together by their pinkies when Pepper's smile widens, hiden quickly behind a well manicured hand.
"Good morning Jim, sleep well?" She asks, nodding towards the oven that went sadly unused most days. He pushes Tony onto a stool again and investigates, finding a plate stacked with pancakes, another with bacon being kept warm inside.
"Sleep is for the weak." Tony mumbles, brightening slightly when Jim places a plate in from of him and turns to fix their mugs of coffee.
"Fine, thanks, how bout you Pepper?" Jim says, handing Tony his coffee and nudging him over a bit with a bump of his hip.
"Wonderfully, especially since I wasn't woken at all through the night to handle a Tony crisis." She says, sipping from the mug that had already been in front of her. Tony shovels pancakes into his mouth, garbling his response.
"Don't talk with your mouth full, Tony. Swear you were raised by wolves."
"Yeah well, dad, wolves, same basic principle." Tony says and they all freeze for a moment. It was the same response they'd had at the mention of Howard as far back as Jim could remember, and seemingly the only one that wouldn't end in blood shed or drinking until their kidneys shriveled up and died.
And then Tony giggles, low at first but it grows until all three of them are laughing, a little hysterically, Pepper's head falling onto the counter as her shoulders shake. Tony's hand is fisted between Jim's shoulder blades, and he shoves and pulls until Tony is sitting mostly in his lap, forehead pressed to the side of his neck. He traces a thumb over the edge of the elastic of Jim's shorts.
They stay sitting like that until Happy comes in to drive Pepper and Tony to the office, his eyes falling on them once before he smiles and greets Tony with a quiet, "Hey boss."
Tony cracks an eye, grins and burrows his face closer to Jim's skin, causing goose bumps to spring up on the back of his neck.
"This isn't even, like, in the top 10 worst things you've caught me at Hogan."
Jim stays behind when Pepper finally hustles Tony into the car, Tony winking over the top of his sunglasses as they pull away from the mansion.
He watches four episodes of Jersey Shore before turning the tv off in disgust at how engrossed he'd become. Jim is pulling on pants and an old MIT shirt when Jarvis chimes in, sounding far more amused than he has any reason to be.
"Pardon me sir, Mr. Stark would like to know if you are available for rescue missions?"
"I bet he does," Jim says, smiling despite himself. He tugs off his clothes except for his briefs and starts towards the workshop.
"Sir?" Jarvis asks, like he already knows what Jim is going to say.
"Think I'll take my suit for a spin today Jarvis."
"Very good sir."
Jim pauses long enough to tap the ground as he gathers Tony to his chest, offers a terse, "Gentlemen." and takes off, laughing along with Tony as they dip low enough disturb the water on their way back to the mansion.
"My hero." Tony chuckles, pulling Jim's helmet off for him and pulling him down until their lips meet. Jim huffs a laugh against his cheek before pushing him back gently, allowing Dummy and Butterfingers to pull him out of the suit.
"Someone's gotta be." He says, but he smiles, making sure he doesn't rumple Tony's suit too much as he pulls him until they're pressed together so close he breaths against Tony's cheek. He tilts his head down, and Tony slants his mouth up and against his and they stand like that, in the middle of the workshop, machines chirping around them until Jarvis tells them Pepper is on her way down.
"Hide me from the queen of menacing heels and frightening competence?" Tony says, sighs really, against the spot he's been nibbling at on Jim's neck.
"I don't know," he says, chuckles and let's Tony nip at his finger tips, "What's in it for me?"
Tony doesn't even think about it, just orders Jarvis to kill the lights and pulls Jim down on top of him in the back seat of the closest convertible, "I do put out to life saving, suit stealing, Pepper hiding, Lieutenant colonels."