The first time Tony sleeps with Steve, it’s completely by accident. There’s no sex and there’s no groping in the middle of the night. Instead they fall asleep on the sofa during a movie marathon, wrapped around each other as the DVD menu plays all night long. Tony only realises they fell asleep when he wakes the next morning with a crick in his neck and the arm of the sofa poking into his foot.
It isn’t until later that he realises he slept through the entire night without waking.
He thinks it’s a fluke. Besides, every now and again, he has nights where he sleeps… though usually it’s after a night of binge drinking or sheer exhaustion after a string of sleepless nights. He dismisses the rare night as a pleasant surprise and doesn’t think of it again. At least, he doesn’t until he and Steve fall asleep on the couch together a week later. Again, he sleeps through the night. Perhaps maybe there is something to Steve and Tony’s new-found ability to sleep comfortably through the night. He doesn’t tell Steve, though, of this miraculous discovery. Not when this relationship (or whatever it is they have) is just starting. He doesn’t want to fuck this up — doesn’t want to make it weird between them before they even have a chance to begin. He also doesn’t want Steve to sleep with him because of some sense of duty.
He wants Steve to sleep with him because Steve wants to. Because he wants to wrap his arms around Tony or use his reactor as a reading lamp. Or just because Steve wants to talk all night long, interspersing words with kisses and caresses.
By the time winter hits, they have moved into one room together. Their first time (and many other times) have happened and any sleepless nights are because Steve’s stamina is endless and Tony wants desperately to keep up with him. Even after all these months, however, Tony still hasn’t realized the secret to his restful nights. He wishes he knew so he could pass the secret on to Steve when he wakes in the middle of the night, covered in sweat and staring wide-eyed up at the ceiling. Tony hasn’t learned how to rid Steve of his nightmares the way Steve has slowly erased Afghanistan from his subconscious. When Steve thrashes, Tony holds him close and reminds him that it’s 2012 and not 1942. When he shivers, Tony warms him as best as he’s able to with his shit circulation (thanks to the arc reactor) and, with his body, reminds Steve that he isn’t encased in ice.
It’s sometime in January when Steve is called away for a few nights to run a SHIELD mission. With Steve gone, Tony doesn’t sleep. He winds up down in the garage, tinkering until the wee hours of the morning when he finally passes out, covered with a blanket by a thoughtful Dummy.
Only when Steve returns a week later and Tony is wrapped around him so tightly there isn’t a bit of space between them does Tony realize why Steve is the key to his restful nights.
With Steve around — Tony has finally found warmth.