It was half past three in the morning when Steve ventured out of the gym and up to the kitchen. The workout had been satisfyingly thorough and he intended on getting a glass of milk before heading up to bed. That was the plan, anyway, before he found Tony sitting at the kitchen table with a puzzled, sleepy expression and a metal box in his hands. A metal box with a big red button.
Steve glanced at it suspiciously before focusing on Tony’s face. It looked like the man was on the back side of an insomniac bout again. Steve poured his milk and waited to see if Tony would notice him but evidently the genius was pretty out of it because the man just sat there turning the box around in his hands like it held the secrets of the universe.
Which, you know, maybe it did. What did Steve know about things like that? Regardless, he couldn’t very well leave Tony sitting there like that, it didn’t look like he’d be able to get to bed on his own. The Captain drained his milk, rinsed the glass and then stood at Tony’s side, resting a hand gently on his shoulder.
A slow blink and Tony poked the red button with a small screwdriver or something that looked like a screwdriver. Which he didn’t have a moment ago. Seriously, where did he keep all those things to keep pulling them out of the air like that?
“Tony.” Steve said more firmly, putting some Captain into his voice. That got a better reaction as Tony’s body gained some life and shivered.
“Steve.” Tony muttered, turning his head to sort of look at him. “Hey. Hi.”
Hiding a smile, Steve slid his hand to Tony’s back, rubbing gently. The act won him a rumbled hum of satisfaction from Tony. “What are you working on?”
“You don’t know?”
Tony shrugged and held the metal box out in front of him, frowning. “I made this. It’s a device.”
Steve actually smiled this time, amused by his friend’s ability to state the obvious in this state.
“And I put a button on it. But I dunno what it does.”
That killed the smile pretty quickly as Steve tensed, “No.”
The genius squinted up at him, eyes hazy but petulant. “I won’t know unless I press the button, Steve. I wouldn’t put a button on something unless it was meant to be pushed.”
“I said no.” Steve said firmly and reached out to gingerly take the box from him but Tony squawked and jerked away.
“I need to know!”
“I’m pretty sure you don’t.”
“No, not right now. Tomorrow, after you’ve slept.” Steve proposed, hoping that by then Tony will have slept and remembered what he’d made. And hopefully it wasn’t something explosive.
“Tomorrow.” Tony scoffed and pouted at him. “Live in the moment, Cap!”
“Yeah and in this moment you need to be sleeping.” He insisted, resisting the pout because he was Captain America, okay, he didn’t give in to sleepy genius’ with doe eyes. Really, he didn’t.
With a gusty sigh, Tony put the box down and crossed his arms to stare at it, pointedly avoiding Steve’s eyes. “I don’t want to sleep.”
And that tone, quiet and resigned, told him what had caused this latest bout of sleeplessness. The strength of Tony’s nightmares never failed to tear at Steve’s heart but luckily he knew a way to fight them. Taking hold of Tony’s hands he gently hauled the man out of his chair.
“C’mon. I was heading up now anyway.”
Never shy for long, Tony looked up at him and smirked. “Offering to take me to bed, big guy?”
Steve rolled his eyes, ignoring the light heat in his cheeks, and started walking Tony toward the stairs. “You know it, Stark.”
Tony grinned, always amused when Steve played along, and followed willingly enough to make Steve think he’d already forgot about the box. “Yeah, alright. I suppose I could sacrifice my night for a cuddle.”
“Sure, Tony. Thanks, I appreciate it.”
And Tony laughed, head ducked down and shoulders shaking kind of laugh. The good kind. It made Steve absurdly proud of himself. They didn’t say anything more until they were in bed, Steve curled tight to Tony’s back and a hand protectively placed over the glow of the reactor.
“You do realize this doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about the box.” Tony said, his voice already weak with impending sleep and Steve smiled gently, face tucked against the other’s neck.
“I figured as much. Save it for the morning.” He encouraged and Tony made a vague noise but was already gone, breath steadying out into something slower. Steve wasn’t far behind himself, always more comfortable when he had Tony close at hand to protect. And if Tony helped chase away Steve’s own dreams like he did for Tony well, that just made it all the more perfect.