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Tony woke up slowly, peeled out of sleep unwillingly by the warm, breathing weight that had him pinned. A face was buried against the back of his neck, complete with stubble-scratch and sleepy nuzzles. He'd managed to angle himself so he wasn't smothered, but it was a close thing. A few more inches to the right, and he would have been completely and utterly buried.

Who'd have thought Captain America would be a cuddler? It was one of the nicer things he'd found out about Steve, along with his taste for office sex and a deep aversion to gossip columns. Added to a six-four, blond, blue-eyed frame, and kidnapping him was easily the best decision Tony had ever made.

He was just considering the merits of stretching and, maybe, opening when the door slid open. Instinctively, Tony went still. Against the carpet the sounds were faint, but high heels were a unique sort of shoe and made a unique sort of noise, even when muffled. The wearer detoured to the north side of the room, paused to the sound of rustling paper, and then cursed.

"Damn it, Tony, you were supposed to have this signed yesterday."

That confirmed his suspicions. Tony renewed his attempts at staying motionless. Like a T-Rex, Pepper saw movement. Results were still uncertain on if she could smell fear. Probably. She'd saved him from enough clingy would-be-Mrs.-Starks over the years.

A mental checklist of precautions ran through Tony's head: breathe regularly, don't tense up, don't open eyes, don't react to sounds. It might have been easier to just develop a Pepper-sensitive stun gun. Pepper's shoes circled the bed slowly, the sound not unlike an untimely fin in the water.

She was probably getting a first class view of Steve's ass, but Tony didn't much mind. Steve had a wonderful ass. It deserved to be shared with the world.

"Hm," Pepper said from the east side of the room after a few minutes. "JARVIS, are you there?"

"As always, Ms. Potts," came the immediate whisper of the house AI. Good ol' JARVIS. He knew how to handle a man's sleep.

"Can you open a crack in the blinds? About right... here?"

"Easily, Ms. Potts."

JARVIS sounded way, way too pleased with himself. Tony had just enough time and wakefulness to wonder why that was before a stab of light hit him straight in the eyes. He reared back with a shout, bucking under Steve as he tried to hide his face in a pillow.

"Gah, Pepper!" Tony snapped, blinking furiously. The world was hidden behind blurry blotches of light and tears.

The mound of warm muscle that was Steve grumbled about being shaken and slid off Tony's back to snuggle back down into the bed. From everything Tony could tell, he hadn't woken up at all, which rather fit his pattern. He'd sleep like the dead until someone made a serious effort to wake him. Once they'd managed to defeat a Frost Giant while Steve slept through it.

The make-up sex after he'd yelled at Tony had been almost worth it.

Tony glared at the blotch he was pretty sure was Pepper. Nothing else in his room was topped with orange. "What was that for? It's a Saturday!"

"You asked me to wake you up at six, remember?" Pepper-blob said firmly, not bothering to keep her voice down. She was in casual clothes, which for Pepper meant slacks and a blouse. "Busy day, you said? Everything will change, event of a lifetime?"

That did sound familiar, Tony had to admit, but for the life of him he couldn't recall anything from the night before. Other than wine. There'd been a lot of wine. Super soldiers, it turned out, handled alcohol really, really well. It took almost destroying Steve's liver to get him tipsy. Tony pressed his palms to his eyes until spots bloomed under the ones already there. Lint had nestled behind his eyeballs, he was sure of it. "Maybe if you hum a few bars."

It was funny how, after all these years, Tony had managed to work out the exact sound Pepper made when she was rolling her eyes. He expected her to say something snappy about his tin ear, but instead she cleared her throat and actually started humming. Head cocked to the side, Tony listened for a few seconds before he recognized the tune and promptly put his hands over Steve's ears.

"Okay, okay, I remember, you can stop now. I promise I'll be good." He peered down at Steve, who was still oblivious. Tony probably had a good three hours before Steve would wake up on his own. Plenty of time. "Can you get some coffee going? And maybe get me some aspirin?"

Pepper's lips pursed, but she nodded and turned to go. "JARVIS, make sure gets out of bed in ten minutes?"

"With pleasure," the AI replied, more than a little smugly. Even the walls were against him.

Tony snorted and let himself curl back up around Steve. Nine minutes, thirty seconds.

Counting down.


When Tony oozed his way into the kitchen in a pair of loose pajama pants and with his hair in a mess, Dummy was waiting for him with a tray of his usual breakfast drink, coffee and a pair of aspirin. Pepper and Natasha, morning birds both, were at the breakfast nook. They'd taken his favorite part of the bench, the bit that caught the morning sun and had a perfect view of New York stretched out below, leaving him to sulk in the darkness. From the way Nat smirked at him, she knew exactly what they'd done. He clutched his glass of green, healthy whatever it was and sank down onto the bench, not at all sulking.

Without looking up, Pepper slid a file folder across to him, pen clipped on top accusingly. "These were due yesterday. Sign them," she said sternly. "Stark Industries is ahead of the marriage law in most ways, but we still need to formalize our policies. If these get rejected because you didn't get to them in time, you get to explain to the lawyers why fact doesn't match paperwork."

"And may I go to the parade today if I'm a good boy, Mommy?" Tony asked in a singsong. "I'll even bring back gifts. You both like dancing g—ow!" Someone kicked him under the table.

"No," Natasha said flatly, sipping her tea. "Just sign your paperwork."

Feeling the toe of a very pointy shoe nudging his shin, Tony sighed and did as he was told, shuffling through the pile at light speed. From anyone else, he would have taken more time, but with Pepper and Natasha he didn't bother. If they were going to defraud him, they'd just forge his signature on a will and Natasha would slip something lethal into his food. Done, and done.

Ten minutes later, the entire stack had been carefully signed, initialed and shuffled into a jumbled mess as revenge. "There. Now what?"

Pepper and Natasha glanced at each other with that silent couples-only communication that Tony had once tried with Steve, to the confusion of everyone involved, especially the waiter. It had gotten them fresh drinks, at least. The ladies, however, had worked it down to an art form, and somehow elected a spokeswoman in Pepper. She leaned forward and folded her hands. "Now you tell us what this is all about. Before I have to explain it to the press, please."

Tony shrugged and finished off his unnameable goop and started on his coffee. He hadn't been able to stomach solids for breakfast since the palladium poisoning incident, but he still missed early morning bacon. "I thought it was obvious. I'm going to propose to Steve."

"A year ago you were kidnapping him, and now you're proposing?" Peppers eyebrows arched, orange and angry and more than a little intimidating in the morning sun. "Don't you think that's moving a little fast?"

"No, fast was when I did three saki bombs and a co-ed slumberparty my first night at MIT. This is slow."

As was usual when his college life came up, Pepper looked horrified. "You were fourteen!"

"And three fourths." That extra eight months had seemed very important at the time, Tony remembered. In his head, he hadn't been fourteen so much as nearly fifteen, and that was just a year shy of sixteen. "Anyway, that's not what this is about. This is about me, and Steve, and growing old together and maybe having a lot of cats. Or dogs, I like dogs." Or kids. Steve seemed like the kind of guy who would want to adopt more kids than Brangelina, and Tony wasn't sure he could screw up enough that the agencies would say no to Captain America.

"No cats," Natasha said immediately. "Cats are harder on furniture than Hydra, and we just finished reupholstering."

Dogs or kids, then. Hopefully dogs. "The point is that I want to make an honest man of him."

"You want to make him an honest man?" Pepper's eyebrows rose so high that he thought she might need surgery to put them back in place. "You? Tony Stark?"

Okay, when she put it like that... "Fine, let him make one of me. You're missing the point, and I'm starting to think it's on purpose."

Pepper reached across the table and took his hand, clasping it. "We just don't want you to rush into things," she said, sincerity dripping off her voice like oil from a leaky engine. Tony stared at her, eyes narrow, and sure enough Pepper's lips started to twitch. He yanked his hands away, and she toppled over sideways into Natasha, giggling.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, but you should see your face," Pepper snorted, covering her mouth. Natasha smiled with her, reminding Tony that he still didn't know what Pepper saw in her. Come to think of it. JARVIS got alone pretty well with Natasha too. Bonded over pushing me around, probably.

"Fine, thanks, I'm a laughing stock, I get it," he grumbled, clutching his coffee. It wouldn't laugh at him. At least, not until he'd made an AI-enhanced coffee mug. Which wasn't a bad idea, actually. It didn't need to be another JARVIS, it just needed to be smart enough to know how to keep the coffee warm and fresh. If he took the same basic programming and—

"Tony." A manicured nail dug into his forehead as Pepper poked him. "Do you want us to go out and leave you two the day alone?"

For what had to be the millionth time that week alone, Tony realized how incredibly lucky he was to have Pepper. Natasha, he was still in the air on, but definitely Pepper. "Please? Go— go watch the parade and dance around in the streets or something. It's Pride, right? I hear that's all the rage."

He loved making Pepper roll her eyes. It was a national pastime, nearly. "We'll think of something," she smiled, nudging Natasha off the bench and then following her. "We'll be back by noon. Don't blow anything up, and try not to start any fires, and call if you need more time."

As soon as the sunbeam was free, Tony slid over and claimed it like a greedy cat. "I'll be an angel," he promised, hand to his heart.

One out of three wasn't bad.

By half after seven, he'd already asked Pepper not to come home until dinner. He'd need at least that long to replace the food processor and get a new door for the refrigerator. Even JARVIS had lost patience with him and had ordered Tony out of the kitchen while he phoned repair shops. The AI hadn't been programmed to gripe under his non-existent breath, but he definitely gave an impression of it.

Even for Tony, it was a new low.

The room was back to sleeping-friendly levels of darkness when Tony finally carried the breakfast tray in. Steve had had sprawled even farther across the bed, gloriously naked and drooling onto the red silk sheets. Tony set the tray down and took a moment to admire the view. Everything about Steve was perfect, from the muscles in his back to the faint scatter of nearly invisible hair on his legs. He'd been created from raw material, of course, but so had Michelangelo's David. It didn't do anyone good to sneer at art because of its origin.

And Steve was a work of art.

The bed dipped under his knees as Tony crawled up Steve's body until he'd straddled his hips. Blue light from the reactor cast sharp lines across Steve's muscles, defining them in all their glory. Tony kissed his way up the spine, across Steve's broad shoulders and to his nape. Clipped bristles of hair tickled his nose when he nuzzled there, smelling like leather and bar soap. It was about due for another cut, but Tony liked it long and a little shaggy. It made him look younger, less like a war hero and more like a guy who could be a permanent fixture in Tony's bed with a little bit of encouragement.

It also got Steve carded whenever he tried to buy a beer, which was an entirely different form of entertainment.

"Steve," he murmured, lips brushing against the back of his ear. The skin under Tony's fingertips shivered. Slow, gentle touches, that was how he'd learned to wake up Steve. Aggressive methods like shaking worked faster, but they were also just a black eye in progress. "Come on, Steve. Time to wake up, muffin. I brought you breakfast."

The shivers increased, turning into full-fledged twitches, and then a slow undulation that nearly stuck Tony's tongue permanently to the top of his mouth. When Steve finished stretching, he twisted his head and eyed Tony from the corner of a sleep-fuzzed blue eye. "Did you just call me muffin?"

"Would you prefer cupcake?"

Steve's eyes fluttered closed, thought taking effort. "Maybe," he answered eventually, getting the word out around a yawn. "Is it frosted?"

"Buttercream," Tony promised, fingers drawing lines down Steve's body just to watch him twitch. "With sprinkles."

"I like sprinkles." Big hands shoved at him, forcing Tony to lift up enough to let Steve roll over. Crinkles from the sheets lined his cheek and shoulder, and nothing short of an attack by Hydra was going to get his eyes open all the way. "What are you doing awake?"

"I made you breakfast," Tony started to explain, but even half-asleep Steve's expression went flat and faintly horrified. "Okay, I gave us an excuse to remodel the kitchen and then ordered take out for breakfast. Better?"

"Not by much." But Steve smiled and brushed a kiss over his lips, which meant that he probably hadn't smelled the smoke yet. "What did you get for us?"

"For you. I already ate. Sit up." Tony scrambled off the bed to get Steve's breakfast tray, arranging everything on it just so. It would have been so much better if he'd been able to do it by hand, but part of being an engineer was knowing when your genius wasn't enough. "I called up Lars and had them send up some of those danishes you like."

"But Lars doesn't deliver."

"Anyone delivers for enough incentive." Before turning around, Tony glanced over his shoulder. Steve had sat up and covered himself, damn it, but... "Close your eyes."


"Just— humor me, okay?"

He didn't think Steve would do it at first. For as easily as Steve trusted people, no relationship that started with Hi, I'm Tony and I'm your kidnapper today was without its bumps. Silently, he pled with his eyes for Steve to, just this one, let him have his way. The expression had never worked on Natasha, and it only sometimes did on Pepper, but maybe....

Sighing, Steve tilted his head up to the ceiling and closed his eyes. "This had better not explode."

"No, the kitchen already did that. This is explosion-free. Promise." As carefully as he'd ever done anything, Tony carried the tray over and finished setting it up: coffee, milk, juice, danish, fork, fruit and right in the middle, the main event.

Tony stared at it, tempted in a flash of panic to snatch the thing up and pretend it hadn't happened. That he hadn't somehow fallen for a man so noble and handsome and kind that he was practically the platonic ideal of everything Tony had ever wanted. He'd never even been close to happy in his life, and the whole concept of happily ever after was, bluntly, terrifying. If it weren't for supervillains nearly taking the world apart once a month he would have been certain it was headed for doom. Or, quite possibly, Doom.

"Before you look," Tony's voice caught on the word look, almost choking. He settled on the edge of the bed to buy himself time for a deep breath. "Before you look, promise me that we'll never run out of evil to throw me through a wall every now and then. And that we'll fight. Maybe a lot."

"What?" Of course, Steve's eyes snapped open. "What are you... oh."

The ring glittered as he picked it up and turned it around. Tony hadn't been able to resist a ring with a little bit of sparkle, but it was barely any worth mentioning. Just a thin line of blue diamonds set into the platinum band, where they wouldn't be in the way in a fight.

Tony couldn't breathe as Steve inspected the ring, looking at it from every angle twice, his expression unreadable. Nervously, he put the ring on and twisted it about before sliding it off again. On, twist, off, like a nervous habit in the making. Steve didn't even seem to realize he was doing it. It was maddening. Not that Tony had expected an immediate and enthusiastic yes!, but he would have liked a clue. Any clue. Even a bad clue, at that point.

Patience, never a Stark family strong point, finally broke down. "Well?" Tony asked, trying not to bounce on the bed. "What do you think?"

Steve frowned down at the ring, putting it on his finger and, finally, leaving it on. "I think..." In a sudden burst of motion, he pushed aside the untouched tray and leaned over the edge of the bed to rummage in his discarded pants. When he straightened, gold glinted between his fingers. "I think we had the same idea."

Stunned, Tony let Steve pick up his hand and slip the ring on. He stared down at the little, simple gold band. No diamonds, only a little engraving—simple and classic, of course. "I... Really hadn't been expecting this. Don't know what to say."

"How about yes?" Their fingers laced, bands clinking where they touched.

"I asked you first," Tony protested automatically, but a kiss cut him off. No argument could be worth winning the required him to stop kissing Steve. Even tasting like morning breath and still with those ridiculous marks on his face.

When the kiss broke, the only thing Tony could see was Steve's smile.