Steve rolled over and slapped wearily at the baby monitor sitting on the night stand. A second high pitched cry echoed at him before he could turn it off. "Better than an alarm," he muttered, staring at the glowing clock next to the monitor. 3:47 glowed back at him in blue. In the bed next to him, Tony sighed and sat up, rubbing a hand through his hair. "Tony," Steve murmured. "Go back to bed. Peter's probably just hungry." Tony grunted and waved a hand vaguely in his direction before stumbling out of bed and toward the door. A smile quirked the corner of Steve's mouth. He wondered if Tony realized he was still naked.
Rubbing a hand over the back of his neck, Steve sighed and climbed out of bed as well. He managed to pull on a pair of shorts before following his husband, however. Stepping out into the hall, he looked up and down the hallway. Still empty. Peter must not have woken any of the other Avengers, then. Good. Walking the few short steps to the room next door, Steve paused in the door way and leaned against the frame, watching his husband in his element.
Many people were skeptical about Tony Stark's ability to raise a child. Hell, Tony was skeptical about his ability to raise Peter. He seemed to be afraid he wouldn't be able to love Peter the way he needed to be loved, the love a father had for a son. Steve knew better, though. If Tony Stark was capable of loving someone else to the point of public marriage, he was damn well capable of loving a baby. Granted, it might have helped that Peter was an easy baby to love. He wasn't fussy, wasn't a screamer, always ate his meals contentedly, and seemed to understand just when to fall asleep. For the most part, he slept through the night and was well on his way to learning to walk. At six and a half months old, Peter Parker (Parker-Stark, if Tony got his way. He probably would. He always did.) was the perfect child to be raised by two fathers who were also superheroes in their spare time.
But then there were nights like tonight, when Peter didn't seem to need anything, yet cried for hours. Bruce said it was probably colic, but Steve wasn't so sure. He watched silently as Tony made hushing noises and cradled Peter in his arms, rocking slowly back and forth, side to side. The Baby Weave, Clint liked to call it. It was as if the body unconsciously tried to soothe a crying infant with the motion of the body. Steve's fingers itched for charcoal and paper.
Steve believed that Peter was in mourning. As much as a six month old could grieve, at least. It was barely three months since his parents had passed away and he and Tony had become his legal guardians. On some instinctive level, Peter knew his parents weren't coming back and he wanted--needed--comfort. And he found it in Tony. Steve was pretty sure there was some part of Tony, long since buried, that needed a child's comfort just as much as Peter. A part that needed to be held and soothed, calmed and comforted on a level that sex with Steve could never touch. Howard Stark had left his fair share of scars on his only son, but Peter Parker was leaving his own set of marks on Tony; marks that healed old wounds and spoke of shared grief for a parent that was never there, and never could be there again.
Peter slowly quieted in Tony's arms, uttering the occasional whimper before eventually falling back to sleep. Steve stepped into the room as Tony moved toward the rocking chair in the corner. Well, Steve called it a rocking chair because that's all he could compare it to. It was more like an enormously over-stuffed chair that conformed to your body when you sat in it and was perfectly capable of rocking itself. Sometimes Steve had a sneaking suspicion that JARVIS was really in control of the chair and not the automatic sensors that adjusted to your body movement the way Tony claimed. Clearing his throat, Steve held up the sweat pants he'd grabbed from the floor on his way out. Tony glanced at him over his shoulder, stopped, looked down, then back at Steve. His mouth was curled in a rueful smile.
Stepping forward, Steve gently took Peter into his arms as Tony cautiously shifted him over, then took the pants hooked over Steve's left arm. Steve sat on the edge of the rocking chair while he waited for Tony to put on his pants. Tony looked back up at him, hands settling on his hips. His face was tired, ever present dark circles under his eyes. The last three months had been hard on them all, but Tony took it the hardest. Too used to bottling stress up and pushing it away for no one to see. Steve leaned back into the chair, patting the half next to him, Peter cradled in his left arm. Tony's face softened, exhaustion blurring the edges of his features, then moved forward and gently settled into the chair next to Steve. Slowly, Steve transferred Peter until he was cradled in the hollow between their chests, his right arm curled under Tony and around his back. Tony bent his left arm and pillowed his head on it, reaching out with his right hand to gently lay on Peter's head.
"And you thought you'd be a bad father," Steve breathed, the sound of his voice barely audible in the quiet room. Tony huffed a silent laugh between them. Steve's left had joined Tony's in cradling the form of their son between their bodies. "You're not going to turn into Howard," Steve continued. Tony turned dark eyes on him, expression carefully blank. "You're nothing like him. Just because you resemble him doesn't mean you are him, Tony," Steve insisted, voice soft but firm. "Besides, you have one thing going for you that Howard never did."
"What would that be?" Tony whispered.
"Me," Steve answered.
A grimace like pain flashed across Tony's face. Steve realized after a moment that Tony was resisting tears. He always was the most emotionally unstable from lack of sleep.
Seconds, minutes, hours seemed to pass in a heartbeat, the silence stretching between them, broken only by the light sound of Peter breathing and Steve's heart pounding in his ears.
Tony finally let out a long sigh, looking back up to lock eyes with Steve. "Thank you," he said quietly. Steve heard the undertone, the silent for being here, for not leaving me, for loving me. For everything.
It was Steve's turn to huff out a laugh. He moved his hand from where it rested lightly on Peter's tiny rising and falling belly to cup Tony's jaw. "I love you, too," he murmured, stretching his neck forward to lightly brush a kiss across Tony's lips before leaning back. Tony's eyes slipped close and Steve's hand rose to briefly drag through Tony's hair before returning to Peter. After a while, Tony's breathing evened out, deep and slow. Steve stayed awake, watching him and Peter sleep. He didn't need to sleep as often as others these days. He watched the sun rise and slowly spill light through the curtains, watched it creep across the floor and dust Tony and Peter with golds and yellows and pinks.
Father and son breathed in unison.
The mansion was utterly quiet. Natasha would be up soon, followed shortly by Clint, to start their morning routines. The silence seemed to echo in Steve's ears. He tried to think how to describe the current of emotions he was feeling. Love, yes, for Tony and Peter. Happiness with his life. Peace for the moment. Gratitude for the life that he and Tony had. Sorrow for Tony's childhood. Grief for Peter and his parents. But mostly he felt thankful. Thankful for this second chance at life, the opportunity to fall in love with Tony and raise Peter as their son. And if that meant feeling the occasional stab of guilt for leaving his loved ones behind in the 1940's, well, he could live with that.
Closing his eyes, Steve breathed out another sigh and slipped into sleep. Thor would probably wake them all up soon anyways.