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Safe In Your Arms

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Tony’s ears were still ringing painfully when he picked up his phone, pressed speed dial and brought it shakily to his ear.

He curled up in a ball on the floor, knees drawn up to his chest, and rested his forehead against the frame of his bed. He hadn’t even bothered to turn the light on when he came into his room; he’d blustered in and slammed the door shut, crumpling to the floor before fumbling in his pocket for his phone. The light from the screen was too bright in the darkness, stark and vibrant as it shone in his eyes.

Tony felt mounting anxiety in his gut as the phone kept on ringing. He was about to hang up when, finally, a familiar voice filled his ear.

“Tony?”

At the sound of his name, Tony felt a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding in leave his lungs in a gust that sounded suspiciously like a sob. Tony cringed; he hated that, hated sounding so weak and desperate, his father was right, he was -

“Tony?” Steve said again, a spike of concern creeping into his tone. Tony could hear the distant sound of talking and laughter in the background; he wasn’t alone then. “Tony, are you alright?”

Tony took a deep breath and cleared his throat. “Yeah,” he croaked. He cleared his throat again, clenching his fist and willing himself to calm down, keep his voice steady, at least pretend he knew how to put himself back together. “Yeah I’m fine,” he whispered. “Sorry, you’re busy aren’t you? I’ll call you later, or you can call me, whatever’s best for you-”

“No, no,” Steve interrupted, his voice firm. Tony bit into his bottom lip. “I’m not busy and I’m never too busy for you. Just… hold on, okay? I’m with Bucky and Sam but I’m gonna step out for a minute to talk to you. Alright?”

Tony nodded, then realized Steve couldn’t see him. “Yeah,” he said. “If you’re sure.”

“I’m sure,” Steve said decisively. “Hold on.”

There was the sound of him pulling away from the phone, saying something to the room that Tony couldn’t quite hear. There was the staticky sound of what was probably Steve’s phone pressed against his shirt, then the line cleared.

“Tony?” Steve said his name so gently and the thrum of chatter was gone from the background. It was just him and Tony felt inexplicably relieved to have Steve all to himself. “Are you alright?”

“I…” Tony could hear his voice tremble a bit, so he paused, taking a deep breath before starting again. “I’m sorry, I just – I called you without thinking, I don’t know, I just needed to hear you.”

There was silence on the other end line.

“Steve?” Tony whispered.

“Yeah, I’m here sweetheart,” Steve said instantly, gentle and warm. Then there was a tense pause before he continued. “Your dad again?”

Tony swallowed thickly and squeezed his eyes shut. He felt stupid, so stupid for being this upset about it, but Howard’s face was flashing through his mind, angry and strained as he shouted, the feeling of his hand flying at him and catching the side of his face –

“Yeah. Yes,” Tony choked, and suddenly his words were coming out in a rush, tumbling out of his mouth before he had a chance to properly think them through. “Steve, can you come get me? Please, I just need to get away, just. Please?”

“Of course,” Steve murmured, his voice soft and gentle. There was the sound of something jingling in the background. Keys, Tony figured. “I’ll be right there, okay?”

“Okay,” Tony repeated, then continued in a very small voice, “you’ll have to come to my window.”

There was another hard silence on Steve’s end. “I gotcha. Be right there, Tony.”

“Okay,” Tony said, knowing the relief was palpable in his tone, but not caring. “Thank you.”

“Anytime,” Steve said. Tony was surprised that some small, hopeful part of him believed it.

Steve hung up then, and Tony set the phone aside carefully on the carpet. Soon the light from the screen dimmed, then disappeared completely, and he was sitting in darkness.

The side of his face face stung, still. Howard had been drunk, his face purplish with anger and he’d shouted close enough to Tony’s face that he could smell the pungent scent of liquor on his breath.

Tony remembered the faint flicker of fear in his chest, the one he tried to tramp down down by gritting his teeth and telling himself he was alright –

Howard’s face looming over him, breath hot and sharp in Tony’s nose –

He wasn’t scared, he wasn’t –

Tony was fine, he always was, this was normal, he could handle this –

Steve was coming, he told himself, breathing deep and shaky breaths as he tried to quell the nausea in his stomach that bubbled up at the memory. He’d leave with Steve and he’d have somewhere to go.

He wasn’t alone, now. Tony had to keep reminding himself that.

Breathe – he told himself. He supposed it shouldn’t be so hard to remember how to do it properly, but his lunged ached faintly, begging for more air no matter how much he took in.

Tony stayed that way, gulping in air like he was drowning, folded in on himself on the floor in the dark until his phone blinked again with a text.

- standing under your window right now

Shakily, Tony stumbled to his feet and hurried over to the window, pushing it open as quietly as he could. He poked his head out and, sure enough, Steve was standing right there, barely visible in the darkness. His hands were jammed in his pockets, his head tilted back as he craned his neck to look up at Tony.

“Hey,” he whispered, and Tony gave him a wavering smile.

“Hey,” Tony said back, just as softly. “I hope those muscles aren’t just for show, because you might have to catch me.”

Steve grinned up at him. "I’m not gonna let you fall,” he assured Tony.

“Better not,” Tony grumbled. He jammed his phone into his his pocket and braced his hands on the window ledge. Luckily he was on the first floor of their house – he’d picked his room when they’d moved to this house a few years before for this reason – so the distance from his window to the ground was not too significant. Still, it was far enough that he risked injury jumping that far. He’d done it before, though, and those times he didn’t have a Steve to cushion the fall just in case, so he wasn’t exactly worried.  

Tony swung one leg over, gripped the sides of the window like he’d done so many times before, and ducked his head out. He surveyed the ground below as he leaned forward.

“How are you gonna do this?” Steve whispered, brows furrowed in what was probably slight concern.

“Well I usually just jump,” Tony explained. “I’ve gotten very good at it over the years, don’t worry Steve.”

He swung the other leg over, and settled so he was sitting on the ledge, body cowed forward as he kept his body angled in the space of the window. He scooted forward a little bit, but paused when Steve raised both hands in a “wait” gesture.

“Hold on,” he said, “turn your body sideways a bit.”

“I’m not sure what you’re hoping to happen here,” Tony said, one brow arching up, “but that sounds like a recipe for a broken neck.”

“I’m gonna catch you,” Steve told him, stepping forward so he was positioned just beneath Tony, and extended his arms. “You’re gonna jump into my arms.”

Tony let out a short laugh. “Yeah, no, we’re not doing that.”

“It’s safer than just throwing yourself at the ground,” Steve insisted.

“Jumping into your arms from this height is not safer, Steve,” Tony countered. This was really a bad time to be discussing this; he was practically dangling on the outside of his house in plain view of anyone who might happen to go by, and Howard was due for coming back into his room again for more yelling any moment. It wasn’t really the best time to be arguing over escape methods.

“I’m not gonna drop you, Tony,” Steve told him gently, his voice careful. “Trust me, okay?”

“Steve–”

"Honey we have a limited amount of time here,” Steve told him, his voice still low and soft despite the urgent intention of the words. “My bike’s parked pretty close by and it’s only a matter of time before someone notices it. I’m not gonna let you fall, okay? I promise.”

Tony stared down at him, frowning. Steve was looking up at him, arms out and ready to catch him, mouth set in that familiar stubborn line. Tony knew that look; Steve wasn’t going to back down on this.

“Worst case scenario,” Steve continued when Tony didn’t respond right away, “you fall on me and I cushion the impact.”

“I don’t like that option,” Tony objected quickly, his frown deepening. Steve getting hurt instead of him didn’t exactly sound like the lesser of two evils.

“Good, because I’m not gonna let that happen,” Steve said firmly. He gestured with one hand. “Come on.”

Tony stared down at him for another long moment before deciding.

“Fine,” he said on a heavy sigh, and arranged himself the way Steve wanted him. “Better?”

“Perfect,” Steve said. “Now, jump.”

Tony jumped. No preamble, no more waiting; he slid off of the ledge and pitched himself downwards, towards Steve’s waiting arms.

Steve, of course, caught him easily. One moment he was airborne and then the next Steve was catching him with a soft grunt rumbling in his throat, the solid muscle of his arms wrapping around Tony’s wiry frame as he held him tight against his chest; one arm hooked underneath his knees and the other braced around his back. Tony’s arms came up instinctively to loop around Steve’s neck, clinging to him.

“There,” Steve breathed, and the asshole didn’t even sound like he was straining under Tony’s weight. The muscles on his boyfriend were truly ridiculous (and glorious, if Tony was being honest). “Told you I’d catch you.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Tony mumbled, burying his face in the crook of Steve’s neck. “Stop being so smug. You’re big and strong, we get it.”

Steve laughed quietly at Tony’s grousing, and he felt him press his lips to the top of Tony’s head, lingering there for a long moment with his face pressed into Tony’s hair.

“I’m not being smug,” Steve told him. “Just glad you’re safe.”

Steve’s voice, probably intended to be casual and light, sounded far too raw and honest, and Tony could hear the underlying meaning behind the words. I’m glad you’re safe now, he was saying. I’m glad you’re in my arms and away from your asshole father.

“I’m fine,” Tony said, the words sticking painfully in his throat. He squirmed, kicking his feet to signal Steve to put him down.

Steve obliged, bending over slightly to set him carefully on his his feet. His hands hovered awkwardly in the air for a moment when Tony didn’t release his hold on Steve and back away; Tony couldn’t seem to manage to let him go. Steve’s solid warmth felt so good against him, the column of his broader body pressed against his own. Tony found himself stepping closer, tightening his arms around Steve’s neck and pressing his face against his chest, breathing in the clean, soft scent of his shirt. The softness felt so good against the still heated sting on his cheek, soothing the faint throbbing that lingered on his flesh.

A beat, then Steve seemed to realize that Tony wanted him close, and he curved his arms around Tony’s waist. His head bowed forward, leaning his head slightly to the side so that it rested against Tony’s.

“I’ve got you,” Steve whispered, and he did, Tony knew that he did; he felt Steve’s warmth around him like a blanket. He was safe, so safe, Steve was holding him like he was precious and treasured. It was a moment of weakness to cling to Steve like he was a lifeline, but he needed it. He needed Steve in that moment more than anything in the world, and he didn’t have the strength to deny himself what he needed when Steve was giving himself so willingly to him.

“Tony?” Steve whispered after a while, his voice breaking through the silence.

“Yeah?” Tony answered, the words muffled in Steve’s shirt.

“Let me see your face?”

Tony’s back stiffened at that, his chest tightening. Steve went still and a little tense in response.

“Sorry,” Steve murmured, squeezing Tony softly, reassuringly. “I’m sorry, I just want to see how bad it is.”

“It’s fine,” Tony said shortly.

“You know it’s not.”

Tony didn’t answer. Steve wasn’t new to this, he’d seen the damage that Howard could inflict more than once before, but Tony still had an instinctive impulse to hide any blemishes he left on his skin. Usually it was easier, but Howard had been sloppy and drunk tonight. Normally he didn’t go for the face, but he’d been out of control, scotch running thick and potent in his blood –

“Please?” Steve asked, pressing on, even though his voice was gentle and undemanding. He was asking Tony, not forcing him. Tony knew he could brush it off, insist that Steve didn’t need to look at it, it was fine.

It would’ve been easy to do if he couldn’t hear the concern in Steve’s voice, the genuine worry evident and plain to Tony’s ears.

He didn’t answer, but he also didn’t resist when Steve leaned a bit away from him and brought a hand to his chin, tilting his face slightly so Tony was staring up at him.

Steve let out a sharp exhale when he was faced with Tony’s face full on. In the milky moonlight it was probably hard to see what Tony assumed was a dark, purpling bruise around his eye and over the crest of his cheekbone, but Steve looked instantly distraught, which meant it was pronounced enough that he could see it in the dim light. Tony wasn’t surprised. Howard hadn’t held back tonight.

“Shit,” Steve hissed, his face crumpling a bit. His fingers tightened momentarily on Tony’s chin before he dropped his hand, tugging Tony close again. He wrapped his arms tightly around him again, hugging Tony rough and tender all at the same time. “Shit,” he said again, sounding so broken and pained.

Tony shivered. He wished he could sink into Steve, meld into his heat and absorb everything that was him. His fingers dug into Steve’s back; he was so close but it wasn’t enough, he could drown in Steve and still want more –

“Take me away from here.” Tony could hear his voice crack as he spoke, the broken cadence of the words, but he didn’t care. Steve was solid and warm against him and that was all that mattered. “Please? I want to leave here for forever, Steve.”

Steve’s hand started slowly stroking up and down his back, his other tightening on the curve of his waist. Lips pressed against his forehead, the coldness of Steve’s lip ring sharp against his skin, and Tony could feel himself melting, melting into him –

“Of course,” Steve said, and his voice sounded broken too. Tony wondered if he was trying not to cry. If Tony hadn’t felt so raw, broken open and exposed to the thin, cool night air, he might have teased Steve about tears ruining his bad boy rep. Steve would probably laugh and roll his eyes, give Tony that fond smile that always made Tony’s heart jump a little bit in his chest.

It wasn’t the time. As it was, Tony just clung to Steve, trusting him to take care of him for the few brief moments when he couldn’t stop himself from succumbing to it.

Chapter Text

Even after all the months they’d been dating, Tony still wasn’t used to how exhilarating it was to be on the back of Steve’s motorcycle.

It was exactly what he needed tonight, too. The feeling of being pressed against Steve’s back with his arms looped around his waist made him feel more steady; the comfort of his solid form always made him feel more grounded. The rushing of air all around them as they rode made him feel like maybe if they went far and fast enough, maybe his problems would slip away into the distance. Maybe then, Howard could be a distant memory.

He knew it was a matter of time before he would have to go back, but he tried not to think about it. Right now he was with Steve, and that was all that mattered.

Steve hadn’t said where they were going when they hopped on his bike and drove away; he’d just silently handed Tony his spare helmet and got on, seeming to be just as eager as Tony was to get away. So, Tony didn’t know where they were going until they were halfway to Steve’s house, the familiar landmarks registering in his mind from the few times he’d been there.

He felt himself relax a bit; Steve’s house was safe. Steve’s house didn’t make him feel like he always had to be watching over his shoulder, or like he was somehow in the way for simply existing. It was exactly where he wanted at the moment.

They pulled up into the driveway some minutes later, and Tony scrambled off of the bike, reaching up to pull it off. Steve followed suit, revealing helmet mussed hair. It was a look Tony had always adored on him.

“Nice hair,” Tony teased, reaching up to run his fingers through it. Instead of taming the unruly strands, somehow that made it stick up more. Oh, well. It was cute.

“Shut up,” Steve grimaced, batting Tony’s hand away. He smiled softly and stepped forward, looping one arm around Tony’s waist and pulling him in tight against him. Tony responded by wrapping his arms around his neck, tilting his head up to look Steve in the face.

“Um,” Steve began, looking a little bit guilty. “So, Sam and Bucky are here. I was in such a hurry to come and get you that I forgot to tell them they should probably head home. If you want, I can talk to them while you head up to the guest room –”

Tony frowned. “What? It’s the middle of the night, Steve. Don’t send your friends home because of me.”

Steve’s brow furrowed, his lips pressed into a thin line. “They’ll understand, Tony, really, I can’t ask you to–”

“Don’t be silly,” Tony said, stepping back and breaking out of the circle of Steve’s arms. It didn’t matter that they were here; he’d met them a few times and he knew that they were both great, plus it would serve as a significant distraction to interact with people. Nice people, especially. As long as Steve was there, it was perfect.

“I’m going in to say hi,” Tony continued, sidestepping around Steve, who was still frowning, and making his way up to the front door. A beat, and then he heard Steve following behind him with a sigh.

“Quiet,” Steve whispered as they stepped inside. “Mom’s asleep. They’re downstairs.”

Tony nodded and gave Steve a tight smile, bracing one hand against his solidly muscled arm as he toed his shoes off. Just as he was turning to make his way to the stairs, Steve pulled him close wrapping him tightly in the circle of his arms for a moment longer.

“Steve, you’re squishing me,” Tony mumbled, his voice muffled against Steve’s chest.

Reluctantly, Steve let go, and Tony reached out to squeeze his arm gently, then he was disappearing down the stairs, Steve following behind him.

When they descended into the basement, they discovered Bucky and Sam sitting on the floor, their backs against the couch, hovering over the laptop that was sitting on their knees. They were sharing a pair of ear buds, both of them snickering under their breaths.

Bucky was the first to look up. His eyes rested for a split second on Tony, and he would’ve had to have been completely stupid to not notice the way his gaze lingered on Tony’s face for a moment, his brows drawn together. Bucky’s eyes flitted to Steve, who was standing behind Tony with a hand on the small of his back.

Just as Tony was starting to feel anxiety curl in his stomach, the moment passed, and Bucky’s face broke out in a grin.

“Tony, come watch this with us,” he said, waving him over. “We’re watching youtube videos of people falling down.”

Before stepping forward, Tony reached back towards Steve and squeezed his hand gently. He wasn’t really sure if he was reassuring Steve or himself; perhaps both of them. I’m okay, he was saying. Thank you.

Steve gave him a faint smile and a slight nod as he released Tony’s hand. It was hesitant and a little bit shaky, his mouth was still tight and his eyes were worried, but it was enough.

Tony ended up sprawled on the couch with Steve, behind Sam and Bucky, as they watched the laptop screen that the two boys on the floor politely angled so they could see. As usual, Tony found himself using his boyfriend as a giant pillow; his head resting on Steve’s broad chest, who had his arms curled around Tony. Somehow, Tony was half in Steve’s lap, with Steve’s hand softly stroking his hair.

At one point, Steve startled and dashed up the stairs, mumbling under his breath about how Tony should have been icing his bruises right away, how could he have not thought of that? Tony had to insist that it wasn’t necessary for Steve to hold it against his face for him, which resulted in Steve giving him worried glances as Tony gingerly held it up to his own face. It was tender, but the coolness did feel good.

Normally, Sam and Bucky would give them endless grief about this; being touchy was something that almost always got them a fair amount of teasing. They couldn’t hold hands around the two of them without being assaulted by gagging noises and balled up pieces of paper that were thrown at their heads.

There wasn’t a bit of that tonight. Instead, Sam and Bucky jibed at each other and occasionally at Steve, but never about the affectionate way he was holding Tony, or the fact that he kept pressing soft kisses to the side of Tony’s face.

Tony figured that meant that he looked even worse off than he thought.

He tried not to think about it too much. Instead, he tried to focus on the rhythmic sensation of Steve’s fingers carding through his hair, the sound of Steve’s heart beating in his ear.

It takes about an hour before Sam and Bucky decide that they’re ready to crash, and by that point Tony has already been dozing for a while, not really paying any attention to the conversation that three of them were carrying out in hushed voices. So, Tony was half asleep in Steve’s arms and only half noticed when Bucky and Sam left.

The room was quiet and empty except for the two of them when Steve kissed Tony’s forehead and whispered his name.

“’M sleeping,” Tony mumbled, turning his face into Steve’s chest. He winced when the movement resulted in a twinge of pain. Right. He’d forgotten about the bruises for a second there.

Luckily, his face was buried in Steve’s shirt, so he didn’t have to see the pained expression he wasn’t able to keep off of his face.

“You can’t be sleeping if you’re talking,” Steve countered.

“Really? Because I’m doing it right now,” Tony said. If he wasn’t half asleep he probably would have sounded extremely haughty. As it was, he mostly just sounded petulant and groggy.

Steve huffed a sigh that sounded more like a fond laugh than anything, and Tony felt him move like he was shaking his head.

“Alright,” Steve said, “I guess you leave me no choice.”

Then all of a sudden there were arms braced under Tony’s knees and across his back, and he was being lifted into the air.

Tony let out a rather undignified squeak as Steve started heading towards his bedroom, carrying him effortlessly, like he weighed about as much as a backpack. Damn, sometimes he forgot how strong Steve was.

“Steve,” he protested, reluctantly opening his eyes to glare up at his boyfriend. “What are you doing, I am perfectly capable of walking.”

Steve hunched one shoulder, unconcerned. “Thought you were sleeping,” he said, a hint of smugness creeping into his voice.

Tony curled his finger into the fabric of Steve’s shirt and wiggled in his arms. “You are ridiculous, put me down.”

Steve just smiled at him and kissed his uninjured cheek. Tony glared.

Despite the fact that Tony was very vocal in his complaints, Steve carried him all the way up to the guest room, and didn’t release him until he’d kicked the door open quietly and placed Tony gently on the bed.

Tony continued to glare up at him. “Are you going to tuck me in too?”

Steve looked down at him very seriously. “I can if you want me to.”

Tony rolled his eyes and flopped on his back. “I think I can manage.”

“Well, if you’re sure… wait, hold on.” With that, Steve ducked out of the room, returning a few moments later with a t shirt in hand.

He tossed it over to Tony. “This alright to sleep in?”

Tony caught and nodded. Within moments, he had tugged his own shirt over his head and pulled Steve’s on. He pulled his jeans and socks off as well, throwing them aside before scurrying to get under the blankets.

Steve was still standing in the doorway, his arms crossed, leaning against the doorframe. He looked a little bit unsure, as if he didn’t know if he should come into the room or not. Like maybe Tony might not want him here.

As if.

“Come here?” Tony asked quietly, patting the bed next to him.

Steve hesitated. “You sure?”

Tony rolled his eyes and patted the bed again. “Come here,” he said again, this time trying to make it sound less like a question and more like an invitation.

Steve obliged, closing the door behind him and flicking off the light before crossing the room. He crawled onto the bed next to Tony, immediately reaching over to pull him into his arms. Tony went willingly, curling into Steve’s body as relief flooded through him at the contact. He hadn’t realized how tense he was feeling until the tension melted from his bones as he relaxed into Steve’s embrace.

“I can’t stay here, you know,” Steve whispered. He turned his face so that it was pressed into Tony’s hair and placed a kiss there. “I want to, but my mom…”

“Please,” Tony scoffed around a yawn. “I know Steve, I just…”

Tony paused. He was getting a lot better at it lately, but it was still hard for him to voice his need for comfort from Steve. Well, from anyone for that matter. He hadn’t exactly lived a life with nurturing figures giving him warmth when he needed it. No matter how much he craved it, he’d been taught his whole life not to beg for warmth and affection, so he was hardwired to keep quiet and not ask anyone for it.

With Steve, it was different. They’d been together for a while now, longer than anyone had ever stayed with Tony and put up with his quirks, and despite his worries and fears, he would have to be blind to not see the way that Steve openly adored him. Steve wasn’t a good liar; there was no way he could put on an act for this long.

Some days it was hard, yes, but ultimately he believed Steve when he told him he cared about him, or when he held Tony’s hand in public or kissed his cheek sweetly when they were parting, completely shattering the bad boy persona. No amount of tattoos or piercings could make that one time they went out for ice cream and for some reason, Steve kissed Tony’s nose, any less cutesy than it was. Tony still remembers blushing beet red when the group of girls sitting a few tables over giggled.

Steve wasn’t embarrassed, though. He just kept on looking at Tony like he was the world, like it didn’t matter that they were being corny as hell and complete clichés.

Tony knew Steve cared about him. He knew he was allowed to ask him for boyfriend things, like cuddles or hand holding. Sometimes he just needed a moment to gear up to it.

Luckily, Steve was patient. “You just what?” he prompted gently.

Tony took a deep breath. “Do you mind staying here with me for a while? I mean… just until I fall asleep? I don’t.” He paused, took another deep breath before continuing. “I don’t really want to be alone right now.”

Steve kissed his head again and pulled the blankets up around the two of them. “Of course,” he said. Tony had known he wasn’t going to say no, but he still had to fight to not let out a sigh of relief.

God, he was a mess. He was almost eighteen and he nervous about asking his boyfriend to cuddle with him.

As if sensing his inner dialogue, Steve pulled Tony in closer to his chest. “I’ll stay as long as it takes you to fall asleep, okay?”

“Okay,” Tony whispered, turning his face so it was pressed into Steve’s shoulder. “Thanks.”

“Anytime,” he said. “Want me to talk to you until you’re asleep, or do you want to just lay here?”

Tony considered it for a moment. “Can we just lay here?”

“Of course,” Steve answered. “Anything you want.”

Tony laughed softly and nudged Steve’s leg with his knee. “Don’t say that, I could make you regret it.”

“Nope,” Steve said. “If it’s possible, I’d do anything to keep you safe and happy, Tony.”

Tony didn’t answer that. He just lay there quietly while Steve started to trace his fingers up and down his spine, his eyes squeezed shut. How he ever managed to get this lucky, he had no idea, but he was going to soak in every moment of it.

They fell silent then, Steve stroking Tony’s back and Tony laying quietly in Steve’s arms, trying to focus on breathing and how warm and solid Steve was, while not letting thoughts of his father creep unbidden into his mind. He listened to Steve’s breath, his steady heartbeat, letting it lull him to sleep.

He was just about to drift off when Steve shifted and switched to stroking his fingers through Tony’s hair.

Tony was awake enough to hear Steve when he spoke in a quiet, sad voice.

“I’m glad you called me, Tony,” he whispered. “I just wish you didn’t have to.”

Tony didn’t answer, just burrowed in closer to Steve, whose arms tightened around him minutely. Silence fell over them again, and Tony returned to listening to Steve’s heartbeat. He could think about everything tomorrow; right now he was just tired.

He drifted off to sleep soon after that, with Steve’s fingers still carding gently through his hair, his heartbeat strong and steady in Tony’s ears.