It's not unusual for Tony Stark to sleep in. People generally assume he goes on gigantic week-long inventing spree's and completley forgets about hygiene, food consumption and those around him. In reality, Tony works moderatley. Following the Afghanistan incident, cleanliness is one of his major nit-picky points. The cave had been damp, dirty and degrading and made Tony intimiatley aware of what he touched day in, day out.
Some people have told him he has OCD now but he knows better. He's just vigilant.
Tony sleeps in purely because he gets tired very, very quickly. The arc reactor was settled just at the base of his sternum and so rested heavily upon the top of his lungs. Because of this, later at night he finds himself unable to think correctly. Lack of increased oxgen decreases his ability to function cognitively and Tony's all too aware of the dangers of working in his workshop with the technology he has under his fingertips. Sometimes he falls asleep in the workshop purely because of the day's activities. If a battle has been going on, usually minor ones nowadays following the Chitauri Invasion, he gets home, cleans both himself and the armour manually and then just drops like a log into bed.
Often, it takes both Natasha and Bruce to wake him up in the morning.
Steve worries for him constantly and Bruce gets him checked out for any signs of hereditary or medically scripted fatigue. He has minor signs but they soon clear up after Pepper watches what he eats - he does supplement his body well as well as work out often but sometimes he eats too little in important things such as iron, calcium and vitamin C. Soon enough the others become aware that although Tony is fully capable of taking care of himself, he is at a more vulnerable advantage because of the necessities his tired body needs.
"It's not his fault," Bruce explained to the others one day as they sat watching re-runs of Supernatural. "it's just that with all he's been through in his life, pressure of society, pressure to be the genius his father was, he forgot to take care of himself at a young age. Couple that with the arc reactor now and he just needs to be looked out for."
"Pepper did a good job." Steve pointed out, sitting pretzel - shape on his side of the sofa. Tony often sat on the other seat.
"She did a bang up job." Bruce nodded grimly. Natasha smiled, remembering the time when Pepper would rebuke Tony for not finishing his smoothies back when the Palladium was slowly poisoning him. She pointed this out. Bruce nodded. Thor looked distressed and lowered the popcorn he was about to eat.
"Poisoned? Who would poison Stark so willingly?" he asked. Natasha smiled softly.
"No-one did, Thor. It was a side effect of the arc reactor back when he first made it. The reactor ran on the metal fuel found in the Jericho missiles - he was asked to build them by his captors - and at the time he thought he'd have enough time to get away for a while. Tony isn't stupid. He knew the potency of the Palladium. He struggled to find a viable replacement after that."
"So it was like saving yourself from death once and then having to face it again?" Steve asked. Natasha nodded.
"Yes. Thankfully though his father seemed to think that Tony would need to minaturise the arc reactor in a future Howard, at his point, couldn't comprehend. He gave Tony the atomical structure for the element he has in the reactor now."
"What's the element now?" Clint asked. Natasha passed a glance at Steve.
"Vibranium?" Clint asked, jerking his head up. Natasha nodded.
"Yeah, Vibranium. Howard made Steve's shield with it back in the war, right?"
"Well he looked into the atomical structure of it pre-hand, given that he didn't have a synthesizer to create more. Back then, Howard had found the only solid lump of Vibranium in existence. However he realised how valuble it was and researched into it afterwards. Tony found the footage later, when I was his p.a. Using a particle accelarator, he then synthesised the element in his reactor at the moment."
They sat quietly for a while. Steve was frowning hard and then asked how Natasha knew all of this. She grinned softly and later that month, Steve was reunited with Peggy Carter.
To say they were concerned was probably one of the biggest understatements of the year. Outwardly, they didn't show it given that they were currently battling off the press. The moment they set foot aboard the helicarrier though, they broke. Both Bruce and Tony had been admitted to medical with various wounds. Poor Bruce was suffering from a broken arm. He'd transformed back into good old Bruce Banner and then been caught by a rouge alien who hadn't died properly. One snapped ulna and a recurve bow through a black head later, the scientist had been carted off to the Medijet.
It had only been later on when they had re-grouped in the epicentre of the battle wherein they'd realised Tony was missing too. Frantically, Steve had contacted his AI through their earpieces and J.A.R.V.I.S had informed the super-soldier that he had been taken into the helicarrier approximatley twenty five minutes ago, ten minutes before the battle had come to an end.
Their worry was palpable.
As they entered the medical bay, Tony's regular doctor of whom he trusted with the arc reactor and his life, met them in front of the door. She smiled gently and then Bruce appeared from no-where, demanding to know where Tony was. He still looked exhausted and held a casted arm against his chest. Thor supported him instantly with a broad limb wrapped around wiry shoulders.
"You look like a big bunch of worry warts today." she teased lightly, holding a clipboard under one arm. Some tension drained away from rigid shoulders and Bruce tipped his head back, exhaling a gentle sigh.
"Is he alright?" Steve asked. Doctor Leaney nodded, pushing back dark hair from her forehead.
"He's fine. He's refusing to sleep until he see's Doctor Banner which is an admirable battle considering the amount of painkillers we've given him. He's got pretty bad concussion so we're keeping him in for the night. He's also got burns, cuts and the odd deeper wound as well as a sprained ankle. The worst came with his ribs - he's snapped four and bruised three which is causing him breathing difficulties. However, judging by your concern I'm going to take a guess that you'll help him recover easily."
She smiled and stepped aside to let them through. Bruce shouldered his way through first and sighed heavily in relief as he took in Tony's dopey grin. He was drugged to high kingdom come but looked at ease despite the bandaging keeping his ribs together.
"Heyyyyy, Bruceyyyy." Tony slurred. His eyes kept slipping shut before the genius forced them open.
"Hey, Tony. How're you feeling?"
Steve smiled gently from his position by the door. The billionaire lolled his head onto one shoulder, squinted and then smiled openly. The Avengers felt oddly warm at the simple gesture: Tony never freely smiled at them. Even though he was drugged up on god knows how many painkillers it was lovely nevertheless. They stayed for a couple of minutes more before going off to wash themselves and change into more comfortable clothes.
Tony dropped off to sleep as they left and when they came back they assembled themselves around him. With much prodding and poking, Steve sat beside Tony's bedside on his direct left. About halfway through their vigil, Tony awoke and came eye-to-eye with Steve.
"Evening." Steve murmured. Everyone else was asleep around them and Tony's eyes slowly moved to track their positions. In the gentle light of the reading lamp Bruce had left on, the harsh lines of Tony's body were softened. Shadows encompassed the one side of his face and his long, slender fingers twitched gently on the bedsheets. He sighed gently and then reached out to tug at Steve's arm gently. The super-soldier felt a bit confused.
"He wants you to sit with him." a low voice whispered. Steve looked up to see Clint watching them through half mast eyes. Steve felt a soft blush go across his cheeks. Tony didn't stop tugging, weak encouragment beginning to chip at his already gooey heart. Peggy had warned him about this. When she'd been Tony's godmother and he had been sick, he wouldn't stop pestering until he got the cuddle he wanted.
He could hear Clint's smile as he moved Tony gently up against his chest, aware of his ribs, and allowed the billionaire to snuggle back asleep.
Tony was still exhausted the next day when he was discharged from the medical section of the quinjet. Doctor Leaney bade him a goodbye as he was carted off under the protection of the Avengers, smiling warmly at their affection. The moment he got into contact with a sofa he let his knees buckle. Steve had to catch him incase he hurt his already heavily bruised ribcage. Doctor Leaney had told him to keep an eye on Tony's breathing throughout his recovery and so he asked J.A.R.V.I.S to monitor it for any unusual fluctuations.
Thor settled in his customary armchair and delved into his pockets for the medication Tony had been prescribed. Bruce settled beside the dopey inventor and pressed one hand to his forehead. The other sat in his lap. He had refused his own painkillers simply because the Hulk would react badly to it - also, his arm was knitting back together thanks to the Other Guy's help.
"He's got a temperature but that'll go down as he recovers. Keep an eye on his concussion too - I think he woke up in the night and threw up before Steve became his teddy bear."
Steve blushed. Natasha grinned.
Tony frowned at something only he could see then and shifted where he sat. Bruce encouraged the billionaire to drink the water with the pills instead of dry-swallowing them and then let him settle against Steve's legs. The super-soldier tried to awkwardly insist Tony would be better on the cushions but the genius had other ideas and wrapped his arm around one large thigh.
"Stay." Tony said with a gentle sigh. He was much more aware than last time and the team caught the gist that this demand was directed to them all. They settled themselves down with the exception of Clint who wandered off to make hot chocolate. Pepper arrived twenty minutes later to busy herself up with checking on Tony. She didn't care what the Avengers told her - she wanted to see for herself. The dynamic friendship between Tony and Pepper was always lovely to watch. They had gone out on one occasion before they both decided it was good for them to end it - Pepper felt that it wasn't working out and Tony didn't want her to stress over his own wellbeing as well as the company.
She said it was bullshit because here she was, poking him in the eye for being a jackass and getting himself blown up.
His smile was the relief they all needed and before long, they had settled down. Tony pushed his head against Steve's thighs, making the super-soldier laugh softly. The way he vyed for the head-scratching was very much like a cat. Tony was warm, safe and happy here and Steve felt as though he could relax. As he carded his fingers through Tony's short, soft hair, he felt a soft vibration emanate fromt the genius's throat.
Twenty minutes later, his eyes had slipped closed and his body had softened once more into a long sinous collection of gangly, disproportionate limbs that suited the inventor well. Surrounded by his family - hell how had he ever coped without them? - Tony felt safe.
Maybe Steve wouldn't object to further snuggling later, if he asked nicely.