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When You Can't Sleep

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Steve wanders into the common room of the Tower, blinking blearily. It’s not crowded tonight. Only Natasha, Bucky, and Thor are in the usual spot, sprawled all over each other in a pile of pillows on the floor. Nat is the only one still awake. She nods at him from where she’s reading, sitting upright and propped against Thor’s bare chest. Steve absently thanks God that they finally convinced him to start wearing at least boxers to sleep.

“Take a spot, Cap,” she whispers, and pats a pillow next to her. Bucky is curled up along her other side, his metal arm flung over Thor’s waist. Steve smiles, and decides not to risk his usual belly-flop onto the pillows—it’s rare that Bucky feels relaxed enough to touch any of them in sleep, even when he joins the nightly dogpile.

They all come down to the common room on nights when they can’t sleep. The Avengers are various degrees of fucked up. But it does Steve’s heart good to know that his team finds it a comfort to fall asleep side by side, to hear each other breathing in the dark. And he’s come down here more than once.

Steve carefully lifts Thor’s arm and cuddles up against Natasha’s free side. “I almost forgot how loud he was.”

Nat shoots an amused glance at Thor, whose mouth is hanging open as he snores, but then looks shrewdly back at Steve. “You haven’t been down here in a while.”

“Yeah, well. I tried to draw for a few hours, but, uh…”

Smirking, she turns back to her book. “Stark will be back tomorrow.”

Steve turns bright pink and doesn’t say a word.


By five o’clock in the morning, Steve is getting a little antsy. Even Natasha has fallen asleep by now. He sighs and flips over onto his back, trying vainly to get comfortable. He squeezes his eyes shut and imagines the exact blue of the arc reactor, imagines painting the whole room blue with light. But it’s dark, and he can’t sleep.

Steve gets up, rubbing the back of his neck, and returns with his sketchbook and pastels.

An ambulance wails outside. Bucky twitches, but only a little.


Steve wakes up to camera sounds and someone giggling. He blinks slowly for a second, then his eyes shoot open to see Clint standing over him with a phone. Its camera light flashes again.

“Oh, shit!” Clint squeaks. He tries to sprint off, but Steve’s reflexes are faster than his sleepy mind and he grabs Clint’s ankle. Clint goes down with a yelp.

“No breaking teammates’ ankles!” calls Bucky from across the room, imitating Steve.

“I—” Steve lets go of Clint immediately. A pang of fear shakes him awake. He’s too strong, should’ve controlled himself, shouldn’t have—“Clint, are you okay? I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to grab you—”

“Cap,” he says in a strangled voice, still giggling, scooting backwards across the rug. “Cap, I’m fine. You barely hurt me.”

“Thank god,” Steve sighs. “What time is it?”

“Almost ten in the morning,” says Bucky, walking over and handing Steve a granola bar. “Didn’t you sleep at all? I don’t think I’ve seen you wake up this late since high school.”

Steve grunts and starts wolfing down the granola. Bucky stands next to him companionably, flipping through his phone. Then he barks out a laugh that makes Steve jump a little, and for some reason, Clint gets up and bolts from the room, laughing the whole way.

He opens his mouth to ask, but Bucky has already turned the phone’s screen towards him so he can see. It’s a group message from Clint to the team: a photo of Steve asleep, drooling over what is unmistakably a drawing of Tony’s arc reactor, bright blue pastels smeared on his cheek.

Steve can feel himself blushing. He touches his face, and his fingertips come away blue. Bucky claps him on the shoulder and walks away, still chuckling.

Steve’s phone buzzes once. Then again. He groans and checks the group chat.

Thor: I am glad you slept, my friend!
Black Widow: Clint I am going to kill you
Bucky: Nat you can’t, I’ll defend him
Black Widow: I’d like to see you try it Barnes
Bucky: That archer is cuter than you and I will defend him
Black Widow: Come here and say that
Clint: Guys, guys, ask me out to dinner before you fight over me
Tony Stark: Oh my god is this real
Tony Stark: Oh my godddd
Clint: 100% bona fide Captain Adorable

He tosses the stupid phone aside and walks off to take a shower, shaking his head. He can feel the blush spreading down to his chest. Maybe they should have a team talk about information privacy or…something.


When Tony returns that night, he’s designed an app for Steve’s phone so it can glow the same blue as the arc reactor.