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Steve had been quiet since he had returned from his latest mission. This was a different kind of quiet though and it unsettled you. This wasn’t the usual kind where the two of you would curl up together under a blanket and read your books in peace or the kind where you get something to eat from the deli a block away from your apartment and the two of you people-watch while sipping coffee. This quiet was withdrawn and solitary. Steve barely made eye contact with you when he got through the door and he’s barely said a word since.

You wait as he hits the shower and you watch as he makes himself a sandwich. Still no eye contact, still no words.

“Steve,” you say but he holds up his hand to stop any more words leaving your lips. He shrugs one shoulder as an apology and shuffles away, making a retreat to the couch.

A quick call to Natasha confirms the mission didn’t go to plan and lives were lost. Steve wasn’t to blame but still he blamed himself. Natasha asks if you need anything. “Leave it to me,” you tell her.

You sit yourself next to him on the couch. You put your hand on his knee. He lets out a sigh and shakes his head.

“You don’t have to say a word, Steve,” you say, your voice quiet, calm, measured. “Not unless you want to.”

He lifts his head and his eyes meet yours. Sadness and guilt is rolling in the stormy blue of his eyes.

“I can do the talking for you if you want. I’ll talk about anything. The weather, this cute puppy video I saw this morning, the fact Barton still owes $20 for that bet-”

A barely there smile dares to lift one corner of his mouth.

“Or I won’t say anything at all. We can sit here, together, and just be. But it’s important to me that you know you are not alone, Steve. You have me, I’m on your side. Whatever is weighing down on you? Let me share the load. I know you’d do the same for me.”

Your foreheads rest together and his eyes shut. You press a kiss to the end of his nose. That barely there smile of his comes back.

You lean against the plush cushions of the couch and you guide Steve to follow. His body curls around yours as you wrap your arms around him. He nuzzles his face against the crook of your neck, his breath ghosting over your skin. You stroke your fingers through his cropped blond hair. Your breaths align with his.

“Thank you,” he says so quietly that you might have missed it if you weren’t cuddled up together like this.

“You’re welcome.”