Tony already felt exhausted by the time he got back to the hotel room that night. It wasn’t for any particular reason, but the arguments, the meetings, the need to constantly be on top of any issues that might come up before anyone else even thought of them—it was all part of trying to push Stark to always be better, more ethical, and the kind of company he wanted it to be, and he knew that, but some days it got to him more than others, and the trip had already been a long one. The board was pushing for weapons development again, as if their arguments that supplying equipment for SHIELD wasn’t far from producing weapons would somehow convince him that weapons development was a good thing. As if he didn’t already wonder if supplying SHIELD was the right thing to do.
So he was tired. Even if he’d seen it coming. Even if he’d been prepared. Even if he had no right to complain. Even the hot water and steam of the shower wasn’t quite enough to relax him, and he found himself with his forehead buried in his arms under the spray, thoughts fuzzing out in an endless feedback loop of everything he could do, everything he could try and build and sell to them so they’d be confident about the direction of the company, ways to juggle his schedule, the upgrades he needed to finish for the Avengers. He tried to force his mind away from it—he needed to sleep, and having his mind running Mach 5 wasn’t going to help with that, but the thoughts were there, running in his head, the whole time he soaped up and shampooed his hair.
He sighed as he stepped out of the shower and dried off, rubbing at the back of his neck with the towel before he pressed his face into it. He took a deep breath. He needed to wind down if he was ever going to be able to sleep.
When he opened his suitcase, he was going to reach for his pajamas, but then he saw it—the sweatshirt of Steve’s he’d snuck out of his closet and packed just before he left. Steve didn’t know he’d taken it, but, well—it smelled like Steve. That was the thing, like his skin, with just a touch of his aftershave, and—he was going to be away for two weeks, and then probably caught up in business for who knew how long after he got back. He couldn’t call Steve at every hour of the night just to bother him, especially not every time he had trouble sleeping, but a sweatshirt, of Steve’s, surely that wasn’t such a big deal for him to take.
It seemed almost ridiculous, somehow, to take it out of the suitcase rather than just running his fingers over it, and actually shrug it on over his pajama pants, but that was what he’d brought it for, wasn’t it? Tony told himself irritably, and then turned off the lights, slid into bed.
It was warm, and big on him, and well, comfortable, and when he inhaled, he smelled Steve. It wasn’t like having Steve’s arms around him, or anything like that—nothing could replace a sensation like having that strong, steady strength nestled against him, arms draped around Tony’s body or holding him close, but it was almost like he could imagine Steve lying beside him, radiating heat, as Tony breathed in the smell of him. Steve was always warm, and it was like his shirt held onto some fraction of that. Tony pulled his pillow down and blew his breath out, burying his face in the collar of the sweatshirt. He wondered how Steve was doing, if he was sleeping well, if he missed Tony at all, as much as Tony missed him, just seeing his face, even turning downwards into a scowl, hearing his voice. He’d probably notice how wired Tony was, tell him he should work it off in the gym.
The thought made him smile, and in another few moments he was drowsily slipping into sleep, Steve’s scent in his nose. He wasn’t sure what his last thought was before he fell asleep, but it was something about what Steve would have said to the board, a wry thought, but still bright with the warmth of it.