Tony loved Steve. He really did. Steve was fantastic, wonderful, a total badass. He was an amazing boyfriend who loved Tony to pieces. But he was the most stubborn man in existence and was now working Tony’s last nerve during the second day of his world-class sulk as they glared at each other in Tony’s bedroom.
It had all started simply enough the day before in Tony’s workshop.
Tony only wanted a vacation with Steve. Preferably in a hot, sunny place where Steve might be naked, hopefully all the time. That’s all Tony was asking from life. A beautiful paradise with his gorgeous, naked boyfriend for a long weekend. And no alien invasion, he’d like that too.
Standing at his workbench in front of several holo screens, Tony pointed out a couple of websites with some acceptable possibilities. “How about it, Steve? You, me, the beach?”
Glancing up from the reports he was studying, Steve eyed the websites with suspicion. “Aren’t there several beaches in driving distance?”
“Yes, but a beach in Jersey isn’t the same as Aruba. We could fly down early on Thursday and be back on Tuesday.” Tony flicked through some additional sites. Ohh, that island looked perfect.
“Hmmm,” Steve said.
“Vacation, Steve. That’s what this is, a vacation.”
Acting like he’d never heard of this alien concept of ‘vacation,’ Steve said, “We can’t take that much time off.” He returned to his reports on his tablet.
Tony nudged him. “Five days? The team can spare us for five days. It’s not like we couldn’t respond to a world-threatening emergency if we had to.” Tony wasn’t ready to let go of his island dreams without a fight.
“I don’t think so, Tony.” Steve shook his head. “You’ve got a lot on your plate right now with the team and those projects you promised Pepper. I have some training exercises planned –”
“I’m not saying that we need to take the whole month off or go this weekend. It’s only five days, and we can figure out when to go. I’m thinking next weekend if we’re free –”
“I don’t see it, Tony. Five days is too long to be away.”
“C’mon, Steve, five days! The world isn’t going to end if we take off FIVE DAYS.” Tony rolled his eyes.
Steve sighed and closed the cover on his tablet. He looked up at Tony. “You know better, Tony. Anything can happen in five days. Anything. We have to protect the world. No. If you want to go to the beach, we can go to Long Island or something.”
“I’m not going to lower myself to go to the Jersey Shore because my boyfriend is a workaholic,” Tony snapped. “Aruba or bust. Even better – I can rent an island.”
Tony could actually see the moment when Steve dug his heels like the stubborn mule he was. “No, Tony. I’m not going to an island with you for five days. We can do something else,” he repeated. He glared at Tony.
“Steve – consider it. For me. Because right now, you’re being one hell of a selfish bastard.”
Steve spat out, “No – we’re needed here – we can’t leave New York for a five-day vacation on the beach. That’s ridiculous.” He got up, grabbed his tablet, and shot Tony a dirty look as he stomped out of the workshop.
So, that could have gone better, Tony reflected as his vacation dreams turned to dust.
Tony had known and dated Steve long enough to have lived through Steve’s sulks before. A sulky Steve could be adorable, with his pouting lips and grumpy hmphs and hmms. Sometimes Tony wanted to pinch his cheeks and tease his hair like Steve was a fussy toddler. But he also guessed if he tried that, he might end up with a stump for a hand. You couldn’t really take risks with a grumpy Steve.
Steve huffed and puffed and frowned and glowered his way through the tower for the next few hours. Various Avengers scattered when they heard him coming, in case he decided to chew them out for various rule violations, or, worse, enlist them in his latest training-slash-workout routine. Steve could be deadly when he was working off his anger. Even Thor took pains to avoid him.
Tony was talking with Clint and Wanda in the common kitchen when Steve appeared, grabbed a gallon of milk and glared at Tony while he chugged the milk. Tony aimed for nonchalance as Steve huffed his way out of the kitchen.
“Who put the stick up Steve’s butt?” Clint asked.
“We had an argument about going on vacation,” Tony said. “I wanted an island and he wanted the living room couch.”
“Ouch,” Clint said. “Wait, does Steve even understand what a vacation is?”
Tony shrugged. “Maybe. Not sure. Didn’t get to discuss it.”
“He should take some time off,” Wanda observed. “He works so hard.”
“Apparently the world would stop turning if Steve takes a second off from superheroing.”
Clint blanched. “I have a training session with him later. I’m going to die.”
“Maybe not,” Wanda reassured him. “I’m sure he’ll work it out soon.”
“Not in the next three hours, I’m guessing,” Clint said.
Clint wasn’t wrong and later showed up looking he’d gotten the worst of a fight with Thanos. He slunk off to bed early to renew his close relationship with painkillers and ice packs.
Steve kept up the sulking through the afternoon and into the evening. It was a group dinner night and Steve sat at the end of the table grunting answers to difficult questions like “pass the bread” and “would you like more water.” It was not easy to ignore a six-foot, two-inch, 220-pound, blond adonis supersoldier who was determined to be grumpy and sulky and speak only in monosyllables. The Avengers tried the best they could.
“Tony, can you talk some sense into your boyfriend?” Natasha said pointedly as they cleared the dishes.
Ha. She wished. “Try Sam.”
“I did. Sam said he’s not Steve’s keeper.”
“That’s your job now!” Sam called out from the kitchen.
“Hey! I could use a little help and sympathy here,” Tony replied.
Sam replied, “You should have thought about that before you dated him.”
Tony huffed out a sigh. He should be angry. It wasn’t like he had done something completely unreasonable like demand that Steve wear a t-shirt at all times stating he was Tony’s Property, Hands Off (that attempt had not gone well) or given Steve an 8-foot-tall stuffed rabbit. He asked nicely about going on vacation and Steve irrationally said no.
In fact, the more Tony thought about it he was angry, real angry. This was ridiculous and stupid. Why the hell did Steve get the final word about their plans? Did this mean no vacations ever, just because Steve couldn’t step away from the job?
Grrrr. Double grrrrr. Tony retreated to the peace of his workshop where he’d be able to escape Steve for a while. Maybe, just maybe, Steve would come to his senses soon.
Steve was blessed with amazing stamina and endurance, which Tony had ample opportunity to enjoy. But Tony wished Steve didn’t use those gifts when he was in a snit. Because Steve could keep up a snit for a long time when he wanted to.
Usually Steve worked himself out of his moods. Sometimes it was a nice long run, sometimes it was a marathon. He’d come home, back to his sunny optimistic self, with kisses for Tony and maybe more, depending on how guilty he felt.
This morning, though, Steve had shown up on Tony’s doorstep, fresh from his run and a shower. Against his better judgment, Tony let Steve into his bedroom, expecting apologies and some reasonableness.
But alas, that was not to be, as Steve said, “Ready to apologize?”
To Tony, who had been the wronged man.
Tony’s anger came back to him in a rush. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Tony said. “I asked you about going on vacation, a real vacation, and you shot me down. God forbid I should suggest a seven-day vacation, you might drop dead from the sheer horror of considering that much time off.”
“Tony, we’re needed here. You can’t plan emergencies. I’m not being unreasonable. ”
“Yes, yes, yes, you are. Fine, I get that you grew up in the Great Depression, you and your mom never had any money to speak of, and then you went off to war. Guess what, Steve, you can take a vacation now. Lots of people do that all the time now in the 21st century.”
Pissed off, Tony ushered a protesting Steve out the door. “Come back when you’re ready to seriously discuss this instead of expecting me to apologize for your craziness,” Tony stated firmly and shut the door in Steve’s surprised face.
He hated fighting with Steve. He really did.
They could be doing anything right now. Watching a movie. Walking through Central Park. Going to one of those art galleries Steve was fascinated with. Or a hardware store, Tony could spend hours in one of those places. Whatever, wherever, as long as they were doing it together. Instead, Tony was holed up in his bedroom and Steve was somewhere else in the Tower.
Gutted and upset, Tony sat in his room trying to get some ideas going. But all he could think about Steve, why they were fighting, and whether he should break down and just apologize. He was secure enough in his relationship to think that this fight wasn’t going to end everything. Maybe. He didn’t know.
Oh, god. What if Steve was never going to come back? What if this really was the end of everything? Tony shuddered. This wasn’t worth breaking up a relationship over. Maybe he was being unreasonable. It was just a five-day vacation, after all.
But a vision of a smiling, naked Steve next to a sunlight-dappled pool popped into his mind. And Tony’s anger flared up again. What the hell was wrong with Steve that he’d deny Tony a chance to even discuss a vacation? And if Steve couldn’t work with Tony on the small things, Tony didn’t have to put up with it.
Finally, an hour later, Tony heard a soft knock on the door. “Come in,” he said.
Steve shuffled quietly into the room, looking somewhat abashed and ashamed. “Okay, I was pushing it to expect you to apologize.”
“And?” Tony stood up, his arms crossed, as he waited for Steve.
“We can’t go on vacation –”
Tony groaned in frustration. He wanted to bash his head against a wall from Steve’s mulishness. “Not this again. Seriously, Steve, are you saying to me, your boyfriend of a year and your superhero partner of many more, that we can never, ever go on vacation because we might get invaded by aliens?”
“But we might – we get invaded by aliens at least once a month. Then there are the supervillains, Tony …”
“Paramedics go on vacation. Emergency doctors, police, firefighters, the President of the United States. All these important people manage to take time off. Are you saying that what we do is so superior than we can never take a few days off?”
Steve cast his eyes down and hung his head. He sighed. “No, I’m not saying that. All I’m saying is that maybe we could go somewhere within driving distance for a day or two …”
“Right, you consider that a compromise. I’d agree, but I have a sinking feeling that you’d find an excuse to get out of a short trip to Cape May or the Hamptons.”
“I’m not – I wouldn’t – yeah,” Steve mumbled. He had a stricken look on his face. “You might have a point there.”
“Look, Steve, I love you and I love to spend time with you. I get what you’re saying, I do. But you can’t decide unilaterally what we’re going to do and how we spend our time. I want to take vacations with you! I want to spent time with you! But if you won’t compromise on this, what else won’t you compromise on?”
All the fight left Steve as he slumped. Then he seemed to spark to life. “But you called me a selfish bastard.”
“That might have been a little harsh,” Tony admitted. “Umm, that was way harsh.”
Steve reached out his arms, beckoning to Tony. Tony hesitated for a moment, but then let Steve draw him in. “I hate fighting with you,” Steve said, pressing his lips to Tony’s head.
“Me too.” Tony had to fight to not be distracted by the warmth and solidity of Steve’s body, especially since Steve was hugging him. “But, Steve, could you just take a five-day vacation with me?”
“I’ll be worried all the time –”
“The team can take of it. We can be on call if they can’t. And I’ll do my damnedest to distract you in the meantime.”
“Oh?” Steve was winning the war of distraction now, with one hand resting on the small of his back and the other teasing through Tony’s thick hair.
Tony pulled back to look up at Steve, who was smiling fondly at him. “You should know I’m talking about a clothing-optional vacation here.”
“Oh? Ohhhh ….” Steve flushed red as it dawned on him what Tony was suggesting. “I – I – I could do that …” He flashed a smile at Tony. It made him look adorably goofy.
Tony stretched up to give Steve a kiss. “Good, because I’m really into the naked, sexy funtimes.”
“Was that what all of this was about?”
“No,” Tony confessed. “I mean, it’s a big part of it, but I’d like a few days to sleep in late, have breakfast in bed, drink under the stars, with nothing to do and all day to do it. With someone I love.”
Steve could only kiss in him in return. He said, “I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry too.” Tony squeezed Steve. “Let’s forget about it. Hey, I found this island that would be perfect – landing strip, indoor and outdoor pool, views from every window, workout room, master bedroom with a patio steps from the ocean ….”
Badge Art by Inoshi