It starts with a sandwich on a Monday afternoon. Ham and cheese, to be exact. Steve’s not sure what brings on the urge. He can always eat, of course, but he’s not especially hungry right now. He is feeling restless, though, and has the strange notion that fixing a sandwich will solve the problem. Once the sandwich is put together and sitting on a plate with a few carrot sticks he dug out of the crisper drawer, Steve just looks down at it, still feeling slightly odd.
It takes him a few minutes to realize he doesn’t want to eat the sandwich. He wants to give it to Tony. It’s a natural enough impulse; Tony doesn’t eat near enough, and Steve’s been on a one-man mission to fix that ever since they got together about a year ago. In fact, he decides, the whole thing would look a lot better if it had a glass of juice next to it and maybe, if he plays his cards right, he can convince Tony to eat and drink something healthy instead of whatever he’s planning on eating today (coffee, most likely, and only coffee).
Tony’s in the lab when Steve gets down the stairs, plate in one hand, glass in the other. He has to do some awkward shuffling in order to get a hand free to open the door, but he manages it. Once inside, he sets the food on Tony’s workbench, far enough away that there won’t be any accidents of the spilling variety, but close enough that Tony can reach out and grab it if he wants.
Feeling obscurely better, Steve smiles happily. Tony doesn’t acknowledge him, just carries on with whatever it is he’s working on, but Steve’s used to it. Steve just goes to work on his painting in the corner of the lab Tony’s given over to him, content.
Half an hour later, Steve’s brought back to reality from that fuzzy world of art by Tony’s voice saying, “What the hell is this?”
Steve looks up, startled, and sees that Tony’s indicating the food. “It’s a sandwich,” he says, confused about what Tony’s confused about. It’s pretty obvious, really. Bread plus meat plus cheese usually equals sandwich in Steve’s world.
“Yeah, obviously,” Tony says and he rolls his eyes. “But what’s it doing here? I didn’t order room service.”
“I just felt like making it,” Steve says, which is the absolute truth. “Then I didn’t want to eat it and thought you might like it instead.”
Tony frowns at him. “You,” he says skeptically. “You didn’t feel like eating? You, who is always hungry and could eat a whole freaking cow if presented the opportunity?” His eyes narrow suddenly and he says, “What’s the catch?”
“Nothing,” Steve says honestly. “I just didn’t want it. Can’t a guy do something nice for his lover?” He very carefully does not say, ‘Can’t an alpha do something nice for his omega?’ even though he really wants to. He and Tony are so much more than that, more than instinct and the natural response, but sometimes Steve can’t help but look at Tony and think possessively, ‘mine.’ He knows better than to bring it up, though; Tony’s often contrary just for fun and if he knew Steve was thinking something possessive, he’d turn it into something Steve never meant for it to be, take control of the situation and make it a challenge. Tony Stark is no alpha’s omega (even if he kind of is).
“Sure you can,” Tony agrees, shrugging. “Now do something even nicer for me and come give me a backrub.”
“Okay,” Steve says happily. Any chance to touch Tony is usually pretty alright in his book, and helping him in any way, especially physically, always makes something deep and low inside Steve’s belly feel warm and pleased.
The backrub leads to sex up against the worktable, of course, but Steve wasn’t expecting anything else. He just clutches desperately at Tony’s hair as the man falls to his knees and starts to nuzzle at Steve’s cock through his pants. And afterward, if Steve happens to leave a few bite marks on Tony’s neck while the man is rubbing off against him, well, that’s nothing Tony disapproves of, at least in the abstract.
The next morning, Steve gets the very real urge to cook French toast. It’s odd, but not that worrying. He usually just eats cereal, but if he wants French toast today, so be it. He grabs the eggs and milk from the fridge, the toast from the pantry and the spices from the cupboard and sets to work.
It’s not until after he’s finished cooking, just as he’s sliding the last golden-brown slice onto a plate, that he realizes he doesn’t want to eat French toast, after all. He wants Rice Krispies, just like yesterday. The French toast, though, he’s got something very specific in mind for it.
It takes him a while to find a suitable tray, but he keeps the toast warm under foil, so that’s okay. He digs through nearly every cupboard in the kitchen, looking for something, anything that will work. He’s very nearly about to give up and just use his shield upside-down when he spots what he wants: a folded up piece of metal stuffed behind a mountain of cake pans in the third cupboard from the refrigerator. Very carefully, he extracts it from its home and gives it a quick rinse. Then, he loads it up with the pile of French toast. Add a glass of milk and it’s ready to be carried into their bedroom.
Tony’s still asleep when Steve gets into the room, despite the fact that it’s nearly ten in the morning. Steve hates to wake him, because the man really does not get nearly enough sleep, but he also doesn’t get nearly enough food, so it’s probably an equal trade-off. He sets the tray down out of the way on the dresser and crosses to the bed.
“Hey,” he says, gently shaking Tony’s shoulder. “Wake up. I have a surprise for you.”
“Hmm?” Tony asks, face scrunching up adorably. “What?”
“A surprise,” Steve repeats.
“It had better be sex,” Tony says grumpily, eyes blinking open.
“Well,” Steve says, considering. “It’s not, but we can do that after, if you want. Sit up, okay?”
Tony sighs exasperatedly, but obligingly sits up. It warms Steve to see the movement, because it reminds him that Tony loves him enough to fulfill his requests, even when he doesn’t see the point.
Quickly, Steve fetches the tray and brings it back to Tony, who looks rather unimpressed. He sets the tray down on Tony’s lap and then sits down at the foot of the bed to watch.
“Breakfast in bed?” Tony says, obviously confused. “What’s the occasion?”
His eyes go wide suddenly and he starts to look guilty. “Um, it’s not, you know, our anniversary or anything, right? Because, you know I lose track of time, Steve, this is totally not my fault. It could happen to anybody, provided they are superheroes and run a multi-billion dollar company and in their spare time, make revolutionary and innovative inventions. I mean, did you see that last prototype I cranked out-”
“It’s not our anniversary,” Steve cuts in quickly before Tony can get on a roll. “I just felt like cooking and thought it would be a nice thing to do for you.” He gives Tony his best puppy-dog eyes, the ones that can make the man give in and do anything.
“Oh,” Tony says, looking relieved. “Okay, then. Uh, sure, I’ll eat your breakfast or whatever. You’re not just going to watch me the whole time, though, right? Cuz, I love you, Steve, but that’s a little creepy, to be honest.”
“I was going to eat cereal,” Steve explains, blushing. “I’m not really in the mood for French toast.”
“You’re a weirdo,” Tony tells him. “In case you weren’t aware. But fine, by all means, go get your cereal and then hurry your ass back here, Rogers. We’re having sex after this and if you’re not finished eating, I’m going to have to start by myself.”
Steve hurries to comply.
Wednesday evening, Steve realizes he’s in the mood for cheeseburgers. He knows, even as he’s cooking the meat, that he’s probably not going to be hungry for them once they’re done, but he’s surprisingly okay with that. With any luck, Tony will be persuaded to eat at least three of them. Tony needs fed up, really, and if that’s what comes out of these odd cravings Steve’s been having, well, he honestly can’t complain.
The burgers smell delicious once they’re done and Steve decides he’ll have one after all. Maybe two, even. The rest, though, they’re for Tony.
Tony, of course, loves cheeseburgers and doesn’t even complain about Steve dragging him out of his lab to eat them. He moans lewdly when he takes his first bite and it’s honestly all Steve can do not to hop over the table and jump him right then and there.
He resists, but barely, and he’s rewarded afterward by cuddles on the couch as they watch an old James Bond movie. Steve’s not really a fan of James Bond. It was after his time, sure, but Steve enjoys plenty of things from the same era. He’d loved Star Wars, for example. The Bond movies, though, are generally crass and campy at the very least, with no artistry to speak of. Even apart from that, though, the very character of Bond is something Steve just can’t abide by: a cocky, ruthless alpha who thinks it’s okay to put omegas down, treat them like sex objects, and even physically hurt them. Tony, he knows, would just shrug and say, “It was the sixties, Steve.” Still, that’s no excuse.
About half an hour into the movie, Tony notices Steve’s discomfort and says, “We can watch something else if you want. You know, like if this movie is offending your delicate alpha sensibilities or whatever.”
Steve considers it, but Tony seems to be enjoying the movie. “That’s okay,” he says and pulls Tony closer. There’s a lot Steve would put up with just to see Tony smile.
Thursday, Steve cooks enough spaghetti to feed an army. He enjoys pasta, but he never meant to make so much, especially since no one but he and Tony are around to eat it. He has to drag Tony kicking and screaming from his lab, but he also gets him to eat two platefuls, so it’s a definite win.
On Friday, Steve buys and cooks a whole turkey. He serves it with mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and stuffing. It takes hours and is a lot harder than Steve anticipated, having never cooked anything like it. He follows Jarvis’s instructions meticulously, though, and it all comes out smelling delicious. Tony looks a bit bemused when Steve coaxes him upstairs, but he eats so much he has to go lie down afterward. Steve just preens.
On Saturday, Steve cooks an entire wok full of stir-fry. Tony just grins and goes to get the sake.
On Sunday night, the rest of the team comes back from their various vacations and are all ravenously hungry. Natasha takes one look at all the leftovers in the fridge and says, “Thinking about having pups, huh?”
“What?” Steve sputters. “No!”
The truth, though, now that it’s out there, is that Steve has been. Every time he passes a couple on the street pushing a stroller or with a little toddling pup in hand, he can’t help but to let his eyes follow them. He can just picture a little pup with Tony’s dark eyes and curls, blinking up at the world sleepily while Steve reads to him before bed. That’s not what this is about, though, this cooking thing. It can’t be.
Natasha gives him a skeptical look. “So you haven’t been getting cravings for food and then not wanting it when it’s done? You haven’t had an overwhelming desire to feed Tony up?”
“Well,” Steve hesitates. “I guess now that you put it like that…”
“That’s basic alpha instinct, Steve,” Natasha tells him, turning back to the fridge to pull out the stir-fry. “It’s a mating ritual. You’re courting Tony, feeding him up, trying to convince him that you could provide food for him and a pup.”
“But I’m not doing any of those things,” Steve protests. “I mean, I want him to eat, sure, but it has nothing to do with pups. He just doesn’t eat enough, is all.”
“Uh huh,” Natasha says. “Sure.”
Monday morning, Steve wakes up to a smell he’s come to know and love.
“You smell like heat,” he says, nuzzling the back of Tony’s neck.
Tony just shrugs, unconcerned and still sleepy. “Only because you’ve got your nose pressed up against the back of my ear. We’ve got a week or so before it hits.”
Steve is both comforted and a little wistful at this pronouncement. He loves to have Tony during a heat, craves it sometimes, but on the other hand, they’re nowhere near ready to just forget the world and stay in bed for three days. They still have things they need to do, things they need to talk about. And on that note…
“I have something I need to tell you,” Steve says guiltily. He’s given some thought to what Natasha said last night and has come to the conclusion that she’s absolutely right: Steve’s subconscious has been tricking him into a courtship ritual. Instinct alone just won’t cut it in a situation like this, though. He and Tony are actually going to have to talk about it. Steve does want pups, it’s true, but Tony’s half of this relationship and it’s his body, so he deserves at least half of the decision-making process, if not more.
“Is this where you confess that you’ve been courting me and secretly desperately want pups?” Tony asks, rolling around in Steve’s arms to face him.
Steve’s jaw drops. “How did you know?” he asks incredulously. “I didn’t even know!”
“It may have escaped your attention,” Tony says casually. “But I’m a genius, Steve. And besides, you’ve been giving off pheromones left and right. What do you think triggered this heat? My body obviously agrees that it’s time to procreate.”
Well, that sounds promising, but just because Tony’s body is onboard with the plan doesn’t mean Tony’s mind is. Steve loves Tony’s body, loves his soft skin and his hard muscles, loves his scratchy goatee and his dark eyes, but really, it’s his mind that Steve is in love with, so that’s what matters.
“And what do you think?” he asks, cautiously. He’s trying not to hope, he really is, because he knows Tony’s got daddy issues and commitment issues and all other types of issues. If Tony doesn’t want pups, Steve’s going to be disappointed, but he’s not going to press. He’s going to respect Tony’s decision and probably go volunteer during story hour at a library or something. They’ll work this out, no matter what Tony decides.
Tony just shrugs again. “I don’t know, Steve. I mean, I’m not sure I’d be any good at it, raising a pup.”
“I think you’d be brilliant,” Steve tells him. He absolutely does, too. When Tony loves something, he gives it all of his considerable dedication and brainpower. Tony probably wouldn’t be a conventional parent by any means, but he’d be a great one and that’s for damn sure.
“Yeah?” Tony asks, voice quiet and almost shy. “You think?”
“I know,” Steve tells him firmly.
“Well,” Tony says after a long moment, “I mean, why not, I guess. Pups can’t be that hard, right? And if we happen to screw it up, well, everyone’s pretty screwed up these days anyway, you know? I mean, not that I think Captain America would have it in him to screw up a pup, but you never really know-”
“Tony,” Steve interrupts. He’s elated and excited and incredibly turned on. They’re going to have a pup, he and Tony. He’s sure there are going to be freak-outs down the line, fights and struggles, but right now, they’ve got to celebrate. Tony is Steve’s omega and more than that, Tony is the love of his life, and Steve needs to show him how much that means to him. “Kiss me.”