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One Day

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     Steve Rogers was completely and utterly exhausted. Of course, nearly 96 hours without sleep would do that to a person but he had a perfectly reasonable excuse for his pulling off of four consecutive all-nighters. And that excuse was currently unconscious and oblivious to the world on the hospital bed in front of him. Steve glanced up from his cluttered sketchbook for a moment to eye Tony Stark with a look of pure devastation.  

    It had been four full days since the Avengers had finally found and rescued Tony from the sadistic trickster god known as Loki (Thor’s insane ‘adopted’ brother). Four days since witnessing Tony weak and hysterical and so goddamn broken that Steve had (and still did) wanted to rip Loki apart with his bare hands. And then, four days of absolute, heart wrenching silence that couldn’t be filled by Tony’s dry wit and bad, corny jokes. All in all, the worst four days of Steve abnormally long life.

    He turned his pained gaze away from the genius’s motionless body (From the dark bruises and ragged scrapes and the dried blood still staining parts of his clothing in random, scattered patches), trying to ignore the pangs of fear and longing that were now hitting him so hard that he could barely breathe (A feeling reminiscent of his days as an asthmatic kid before that pesky super-soldier serum entered the mix). Needing to distract himself, Steve let his eyes flicker around the dreary hospital room he had been holed up in for the past four days as if he hadn’t already come to know it like the back of his hand, much to his distaste. In all honesty, it wasn’t the most desirable room to commit to memory. The only recurring adjective he could think of when observing it was: depressing. There was a significant lack of colour or décor, no windows and dim lights that made the area look more like a morgue than a sick bay. It was also completely and utterly silent apart from the sounds of Steve shifting in his small, plastic chair and the smell of disinfectants burned his nose whenever he breathed in. It wasn’t too difficult to grasp why he had chosen that particular adjective to describe this place. It was certainly well earned.

   Maybe, Steve pondered, turning heavy-lidded gaze back to his sketchbook, he should ask if they could redecorate a little, make the hospital wing a little more… pleasant to spend time in. And, seeing how dangerous their jobs were, it would probably be a good investment for the future and Tony was all about-

    Wait.

     Tony.

    Steve started a little as he suddenly remembered why he was here, why he had opted to spend so much time in this depressing sick bay. Tony. Tony was here and hurt and damn it, sleep deprivation was starting to turn Steve into a real mess but he’d last. He had too. Because Tony was here, albeit half dead and looking like absolute shit but he was here and alive, which was more than he could have asked for given the events of the last couple weeks.

    Steve let his sketchbook drop onto the blindingly white, vinyl flooring of the sick bay and abruptly pushed himself up from his tiny chair. He felt his heart squeeze a little as his eyes, once again, fell upon his injured friend. God, what he wouldn’t give to see Tony up and around again, teasing Steve with that oh-so familiar, amused twinkle shining in his eyes. What he wouldn’t give to hear his voice again. Steve fell to his knees beside Tony’s bedside, his kneecaps hitting the floor with a startlingly loud, painful thump, although if actually did hurt he didn’t feel it. What did hurt though, was the desperate longing he felt that urged him to reach out and grasp the other man’s hand or sweep his damp, brown locks from his forehead. As it was, Steve simply watched Tony sleep (In the most non-creepy sense of the term), comforted by the fact that he could still see the slow, steady movements of his chest. Up and down, up and down, up and down… Steve felt his eyelids grow even heavier and immediately jerked his head to the side, unwilling to fall asleep now. What if Tony woke up? He wasn’t sure why, but Steve was absolutely certain that he had to be there when Tony finally opened his eyes again. But, then again, the movements of his were so reassuring and perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad for Steve to rest his eyes for just a moment…

    Up and down...

     Up and down...

    U p  a n d  d o w n . . .

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     “Steve?” Natasha’s low voice was surprisingly, if not actually gentle, as she crept into the dimly lit sick bay. It didn’t take her very long to spot the exhausted man that she had been looking for, draped half on his friend’s hospital bed and half on the cold, unforgiving floor, his ridiculously small chair sitting nonchalant and forgotten behind him. It seemed like  a rather uncomfortable position, especially for someone as big and burly as super-soldier Captain America, as Steve’s upper body was hunched, unnaturally, over the bed, his long legs folded awkwardly beneath him as if he had been kneeling at Tony’s bedside before he had fallen asleep. His cheek rested in the crook of his left elbow, tellingly close to Tony’s hip and his right arm was reaching, apparently unconsciously, towards the other man’s hand, which, somehow, seemed to be reaching for Steve as well.   


    Forgetting about her stoic reputation for a moment, Natasha smiled softly at the pair, amused yet saddened to find them in this position yet again (Don’t ask). How was it that she managed to get stuck being friends with two of the most oblivious men on the face of the Earth? What had she done to deserve a punishment this dire? Both were so obviously smitten with each other that it was truly a miracle neither one had come to this realization yet. And people still considered Tony Stark to be a genius. Clearly they had never seen him interact with Steve. But, Natasha supposed, that was just the way they worked and who was she to judge? In the long run, she wasn’t much better. They’d figure it out eventually, hopefully sooner rather than the later. Life really was too short to wait for something like this. She lightly brushed her fingertips along the side of Steve’s jawline before swiftly leaning over and planting a delicate kiss on Tony’s temple. “One day, boys,” she whispered, straightening up and smoothing back a lock of brightly coloured hair. “One day.” And then, she was gone.

    A few moments after Natasha left, Steve’s hand twitched a little bit closer to Tony’s and, fingertips now just barely touching, the two slept on, completely obvious to themselves and the rest of the world around them.


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    “Steve?”

    Steve’s eyes immediately flickered open at the sound of his name. Or, well, it wasn’t his name exactly that had pulled him from his much-needed sleep but the voice who had used it. It was hoarse and exhausted and more than a little broken but it unmistakably belonged to Tony Stark, the voice he had been longing to hear for the past four days. Quickly, he pushed himself back up to his knees (Trying extremely hard not to notice the close proximity of their fingers) forcing his still asleep legs to rise in an awkward kneel. Raising his head from the arm it had previously been resting on, Steve found his eyes immediately locking with Tony’s weary, brown ones. The ones he had found himself sketching so often that he thought he could no longer be made speechless by. Apparently, like he so often was when it came to Tony Stark, he was wrong.

    After a long, tense moment of unwavering eye contact, Steve finally shook himself out of his stupor and forced himself to speak. “Tony,” he whispered, his voice more than a little gruff as well. “You’re- you’re awake.” He felt himself inwardly cringe at his choice of words. Wow, great observation there. Who are you, Captain Obvious? He shook his head at himself probably looking absolutely crazy to Tony. Well then, what’s new? Steve leaned his elbows on the uncomfortable hospital bed in an attempt to stabilize his shaking arms for a moment.  

    “Yeah, no kidding,” Tony responded, although there was a significant lack of his usual bite to those words. There was only a deep exhaustion that cut Steve to his very core. Tony’s gaze flickered away from Steve’s for a moment, growing slightly cloudy, before returning, a little bit steadier than before. And perhaps more aware because his eyes visibly widened at what they saw. “Steve,” he murmured, hand twitching slightly as if… as if he wanted to reach out to him. “You look… tired.”

    That was the understatement of the year. Steve smiled slightly at the thought if only to try and distract himself from the pang of longing he had felt when he noticed the small movement of Tony’s hand. The realization that maybe he wanted to touch him just as badly- if only only to assure himself that Tony was real and actually here (Although a small part of Steve (More like the majority of him) was well aware that that statement was a blatant lie)- struck him hard. So hard, in fact, that Steve found himself actually struggling to breath, feeling as if he had just had the air knocked out of him. Well, this is certainly a new development, he thought to himself as he fought to return air to his lungs. Once he had regained control over his breathing (Steve desperately hoped that he had looked more refined than he felt), he decided to actually respond to the observation that Tony had made. In an effort to make him smile, Steve replied with a quote that he often heard Tony shouting when he or Rhodey attempted to help him get actual sleep. “Yeah, well, you know. Sleep is for the weak and all.”

    Tony opened his mouth to respond, looking absolutely astonished by what Steve had just said. He closed his mouth and then his eyes but when he opened the latter there was now real amusement dancing within them. “You never cease to amaze me, Steve Rogers,” Tony finally remarked, shaking his head in surprise. When he glanced back up at him, there was a small smile curling up the corners of his lips.

    And, for God’s sake, Steve actually felt his heart flutter when he saw that smile. His heart legitimately grew wings and began to rapidly flap them all about. It took him a moment to realize that his eyes were directed at Tony’s lips (In his eyes’ defense, Tony really did have a lovely smile) but when he did he immediately let his gaze drop, feeling his cheeks turn a flaming scarlet. This was not going very well.

    Tony bit down on his bottom lip ( God, not this again!) , looking a bit pensive if not outright awkward. “So, er,” he mumbled, seeming to be at a loss for words for once. He absently raised a hand to rub the back of his neck wincing a bit with the movement. Steve clenched his fists, instantly reminded of where Tony had been for the last two weeks and why he was currently stuck in this hospital bed- being tortured by a psychopathic god. Once again, he felt that murderous rage from before floor through him at the thought of Loki. He swore, if he was ever unfortunate enough to see that poor excuse of a god again he was going to rip him apart limb from- “How long was I out?”

    “What? Oh…” Steve let his murderous thoughts drift away and glanced back up at Tony who was staring at him with a small look of concern on his handsome face. “Um, four days,” he answered, his hand unknowingly inching a little bit closer to Tony’s. “I- We were worried that you weren’t going to wake up. You know how Loki can be. We thought that he might have put some spell on you or-”

    “Well, Capsicle, I’m awake,” Tony interrupted, his tone gentle and soothing. It took Steve a moment to realize that Tony was trying to comfort him despite the fact that he was the one currently sitting in a hospital bed after being kidnapped and beaten. And the thought of that nearly broke his heart.

    “Oh, Tony,” Steve murmured, suddenly overwhelmed by a flood of emotions. He buried his head in his hands, trying to come to terms with the millions of thoughts and feelings currently swarming through his mind.

   “Um, Steve? Hey, hello. Look, I’m okay now! A bit bruised and tired but nothing that a hot cup of coffee won’t fix, right? Right, Cap?” Tony questioned uncertainly, sounding rather worried by the fact that Steve had yet to remove his arms from his head.

   And then Steve felt a slight pressure on one of his hands, which just had to be Tony once again trying to comfort him. At that, Steve just kind of lost it. “My God, Tony,” he croaked, voice slightly muffled as he lifted his head to glance back up at Tony. “This world does not deserve you.” And then, without even thinking about his next actions, Steve kissed him.

   He wasn’t even entirely sure how it happened. One moment he was kneeling at Tony’s bedside, overwhelmed by how perfect that man was, and the next he was up on the bed, hands tangled in his messy hair and kissing him. And it was nice . In fact, it was more than nice. It was beautiful, breathtaking, incredible. It silenced the longing that had been plaguing Steve’s heart for almost as long as he could remember. Tony’s lips were soft and warm, and it just drove home the fact that he was here and alive and finally, finally , safe again. Relief seized a hold of Steve and he pulled Tony even closer to him, kissing him with even more fervor than before. He would have kept going forever, completely content to finally have Tony in his arms, but then he remembered, serum or not, he was still human and humans needed to breath and good God did Steve need to breath. So, he broke away, leaning back slightly so that he could see Tony’s face and gauge his reaction. And what he saw brought him back to reality much faster than he would have liked.

   Tony’s skin had gone ghostly pale, his eyes widening to the point that they looked like they were going to pop right out of his head. He was panting heavily as well, his lips nervously quivering as he stared at Steve. But the thing that happened to scare him the most was the terror that was flashing in Tony’s eyes. The complete and utter fear that was now seizing control of his features. It was at that moment that Steve realized what he had just done.

   “Shit,” he whispered, scrambling away from Tony so fast that he nearly fell off the bed. “Shit, shit, shit, shit. I’m sorry, Tony. I’m so, so sorry. I didn’t… I wouldn’t… Oh God…” he rambled, his cheeks flushing a hot, fiery red.

   “Steve.” Tony’s voice was so soft, so gentle that Steve could just feel his heart breaking into a million different pieces.

   “I know, I know. I’ll- I’ll just go,” Steve blurted, swallowing hard as he attempted to stop the tears that threatened to spill. He was about to stand when Tony spoke again.

   “Where the hell do you think you’re going, Rogers?” he growled, all tenderness completely gone from his voice. But then, despite the fact that he was sporting two broken ribs, Tony Stark crawled across the bed, slid one hand behind Steve’s neck and kissed him right back.

   So many emotions began washing over him at once, each one doused with a nice healthy dose of unadulterated relief. Steve, once again, tangled his fingers in Tony’s hair, pulling him even closer. Now that he had him, there was no way he was ever letting go again.

   Until the clapping started.

   “Bravo! Bravo!” Thor boomed, wildly clapping his hands from somewhere behind the pair. “Natasha, I do believe you now owe me 100 American dollars!”

   “Shut up, Thor!” Natasha hissed, as Steve and Tony broke apart to glare at the other four Avengers.

   “Do you need something?” Tony inquired, his right arm still slung along the back of Steve’s neck.

   Clint smirked. “Well we were just stopping by to see whether you were awake or not but you seem to be a bit…” he paused, dramatic as ever, that little shit, “preoccupied.”

   Natasha rolled her eyes before promptly grabbing a hold of Clint (Who whined in protest as her hand clamped down on his shoulder)  and Thor, who was still watching the pair with a jolly twinkle in his eyes. “Come on boys, let’s give these two a little alone time,” she ordered, literally having to drag them out of the room with Bruce obediently following close behind.

   “Now,” Tony began, turning back around and grinning mischievously at Steve. “What were we talking about again?”