Baby Luca had kept his parents awake for much of his first week home from the hospital. Since Tony was breastfeeding he didn’t have much choice in seeing to his son every time he cried even though Steve was more than willing, and made sure to get up with him every time, even in the middle of the night.
Steve and the doctor had tried to convince Tony to pump so that they could have a supply of milk on hand so that Steve could handle some of the feedings but Tony outright refused. He kept saying that he was a hundred percent committed to his son and didn’t feel like he needed to pump because what else would he be doing that was more important than feeding Luca? Steve had pointed out that the answer to that question was that there was a lot that Tony would need to be doing and sharing the responsibility with Steve would make everything easier. Tony’s only goal was to be better to his son than his parents were to him and he was taking a stand on this pumping issue, however irrational, so Steve had let it go for the week. But now....
A bit of sleep deprivation didn’t really bother Steve. The serum auto-corrected most of the everyday bad feelings that most people would notice but he saw the toll this first week was taking on his husband.
He walked into the nursery with the bottled water he had gone to get for Tony. He found him where he had left him, in the rocking chair in the nursery. Now their son was against his chest, head on Tony’s shoulder. He had finished feeding and Tony was trying to coax a burp out of him. “Come on, bambino. I’m trying to help you out here,” he whispered.
Steve approached quietly so as not to startle either of them and once he got Tony’s attention he held the water out for him to see then placed it on the end table next to his chair. “Hydrate,” Steve said simply. Tony nodded but continued his murmurings to his son while he gently rubbed and patted his little back.
“You can do it, you’re okay, huh?” Tony continued, and Steve could hear the anxiousness creeping into his voice more and more. He was sure that the baby could pick up on that and it probably wasn’t helping. Steve sat on the edge of the rocking chairs cushioned ottoman, next to Tony’s feet.
“I can try for a bit?” He offered. Tony stopped the rocking but didn’t answer right away. Steve froze because either Tony was going to appreciate the help or bite his head off. Tony’s glare a second later answered his question. “I’m just trying to help, Tony. I know you can do it.”
“I know that,” Tony snapped, albeit quietly. He leaned forward suddenly, and quickly but carefully, placed Luca in Steve’s arms then sat back with a huff. Steve ignored that for a moment.
“Hi, buddy,” he said to his little boy. “You gotta give us a little burp so we can stop worrying about it.” Steve smiled at his son who was looking up at him with clear brown eyes. “Let’s try something else.” He turned the infant around so he was basically sitting sideways in Steve’s lap. Steve supported his head with a gentle hand under his chin and leaned Luca forward a little so he was tilted slightly. Then he started up the rubbing and patting again like Tony had been doing. Tony wordlessly took the cloth he had on his shoulder and transferred it to Steve’s thigh. It took another 2 minutes but Luca did finally burp for him and spit up a little with it. Steve glanced up at Tony with a smile. “Good call,” he told him as he wiped Luca’s mouth with the clean corner of the cloth. Tony ignored what he said.
“Where’d you learn that?” He asked, sounding annoyed.
“Before we left the hospital when you were changing your clothes in the bathroom. The nurse came in and he hadn’t burped for me yet and she showed me a different way to hold him.” Steve brought Luca up into the cradle of his arms and kissed his forehead.
“You were just going to keep that information to yourself then?”
Steve sighed. “I wasn’t keeping it from you. He’s been home a week and this is the first time it’s been needed. I didn’t think of it before,” Steve answered trying to keep his voice even and calm.
“Whatever,” Tony muttered.
“No, not whatever, Tony. I didn’t purposely keep anything from you,” Steve insisted.
“Fine.” Tony stood up. “It’s his nap time so I’m going to try to sleep too.” Tony bent to place a quick kiss on top of Luca’s head and then left the room. Luca gurgled and waved his hand so Steve caught it and put his finger in his sons grip. Luca squeezed gently and Steve smiled at him.
“We love you, baby boy. More than anything. Don’t ever doubt that.” Steve stood and brought Luca over to the crib, placing him gently on the center of the soft mattress. Luca cooed and then settled, blinking heavily. “You try to get a good long rest to give Daddy a break, okay? Can you do that?” He ran his hand through his sons soft wisps of hair. “Papa loves you.” Steve quietly left the room, turning the overhead light off which triggered the night light to come on.
“JARVIS, did Tony go to bed?”
“He did, Captain.”
“Okay, if he wakes up before I come back can you tell him I’m still in the tower and I’m only going to be a few minutes? And if Luca wakes up before Tony can you alert me? I’ll come right back. I don’t want to wake Tony unless I have to.”
“Of course, I’ll let you know as soon as either of them wakes up.”
“Thank you,” Steve replied sincerely. He headed to the elevator and straight down to the Stark Industries corporate offices. It was just before 5 so he thought he could just catch Pepper before she left for the day. He knocked on her door and he heard her say to come in.
“Hi,” he greeted as he entered and strode over to her desk.
“Steve, hey,” she returned happily. She came out from behind her desk and gave him a quick hug. “Is everything okay? I didn’t expect to see either of you so soon.”
“Everyone’s okay,” he assured her. “Well, kind of. I actually had a favor to ask you. I know tomorrow’s Saturday and this is really last minute and you probably have plans,” Steve trailed off as she put a hand on his arm.
“What do you need?”
“Tony’s exhausted. And irritable, and I don’t blame him,” he hurried to add. “I need some time with him, just us, to talk and relax. Even it’s just a couple hours which is probably all we’ll get between feeds. But, if Luca’s in the other room Tony won’t relax fully, he’ll want to check on him or have me do it. If you could just hang out with Luca on the communal floor for a couple hours tops it would be a huge help.”
“I would love to spend some time with Luca, Steve. Tomorrow’s fine.”
“Absolutely. Are you sure Tony’s going to be okay with that though?”
Steve shrugged. “He won’t be thrilled at first but you’re not leaving the building with him and there’s no one he’d trust more with him, other than me, than you. Can you come by around noon? He’ll just have woken up from his nap and eaten so he’ll be good to go for a little bit.”
“Sounds good. I’ll see you then.” Pepper gave him another quick hug and Steve headed back to their floor. He entered the bedroom and found Tony curled on his side facing away from Steve. He climbed onto his side of the bed and laid on his back, careful not to jostle Tony.
“I’m sorry,” Tony whispered, but Steve jumped anyway.
“Jesus, Tony. I thought you were asleep.” He rolled onto his side, facing Tony’s back and waited for him to turn. When Tony finally did turn Steve could see his eyes were red and teary. “Why aren’t you sleeping, sweetheart?”
“I’m sorry I got mad at you,” Tony said urgently. “Don’t leave, please.” Tony reached out a hand and Steve met it with his own halfway, lacing their fingers together in a tight grip.
“I’m not going anywhere. And it’s okay. You’ve been through a lot in a week, Tony. You’re still healing, you’re not sleeping. If you wanna get mad at me sometimes I can take that.”
“You left,” Tony said sadly.
“I just went downstairs to ask Pepper something. That’s all. And now I’m back to cuddle with you if you want that?” Tony nodded and moved closer to Steve and Steve pulled him close once he could wrap his arm around him.
“What did you need from Pepper?”
“I asked her if she could come over at noon tomorrow and watch Luca for a couple hours.” Tony stiffened and Steve felt and heard his sharp intake of breath.
“No, Steve. He’s a week old, are you serious? He’s not leaving us,” Tony started to pull back but Steve held on.
“She’s just going to be in the communal living area with him. JARVIS will still be able to tell us if he really needs us, but if all he needs are some cuddles and a diaper change Pepper can handle that so we can talk.” Tony relaxed slightly so Steve lessened his grip on Tony.
“Talk?” Tony asked.
“I think we should. Nothing crazy, but we need a minute to ourselves to regroup, I think. It’ll do us both good.”
Tony sighed. “Okay.”
Steve was surprised that it didn’t take more convincing. “Okay. Thank you.” He kissed Tony’s cheek. “Now sleep.” Tony chuckled but dutifully closed his eyes and tried.
The next morning came and Steve could practically feel the anxiety pouring off of Tony. To the point where he started to second guess his plan. Tony was in the nursery changing Luca out of his pajamas looking about as stressed as he’d ever seen him. He walked up behind him and circled his arms around the smaller mans waist, resting his chin on Tony’s shoulder. Tony didn’t really acknowledge him he just continued trying to maneuver Luca’s arms and legs into his clean onesie.
“Are you mad?” Steve asked finally and Tony sighed.
“No,” he answered softly. He leaned forward a little to pick up the baby so Steve let go. “Wanna go see Papa?” Tony kissed Luca’s cheek and then offered him to Steve who took him immediately. “Pepper will be here in an hour, Steve, and I just,” Tony shook his head. “It’s overwhelming.”
“I know,” Steve agreed. “Look, it’ll go by so quick and he’ll be right downstairs. But if at any point it becomes too much we’ll just go get him, okay?” Tony nodded hesitantly.
“I’m going to change before Pepper gets here,” he said, vaguely gesturing to his clothes which had various baby related stains on them. Steve leaned in quick to kiss Tony before he left, gaining a small smile from him and counting that as a success.
Steve looked down at Luca who had woken up just a few minutes ago but looked wide awake and curious. “You’re gonna spend some time with your Auntie Pepper today, baby.” He ran a finger down his sons cheek and Luca made a squeaking sound in return. Steve smiled. “You’re gonna have a good time, I promise. And Daddy and Papa will be right here if you need us, okay? Okay.” Steve answered his own question and headed to the bedroom where Tony was changing. He sat on the end of their bed, watching Tony as he picked out some new clothes for the day.
“Is he okay?” Tony asked eyeing Steve.
“Perfect,” Steve replied instantly. “I was just explaining to him that he was going to hang out with his Auntie for a little while. He seemed agreeable to that.”
Tony quirked an eyebrow. “Oh, did he?”
“Mm-hmm,” Steve nodded seriously and Tony laughed. He had changed into a pair of jeans and still had his shirt off. He made grabby hands at Steve.
“Hand him over. I’ll feed him before I put my shirt on.” He took Luca from Steve and sat at the head of the bed leaning against the headboard. Steve went to sit on the other side next to him and slid a pillow under Tony’s arm so he could rest the arm that was supporting Luca. Luca started feeding almost immediately and Tony smiled down at him. “He’s the hungriest little boy I’ve ever seen,” Tony told his husband. Steve laughed and rested his head on Tony’s shoulder, also looking down at Luca.
“He’s healthy, that’s for sure,” Steve agreed. Tony hummed in agreement. He knew that Steve worried about their son being sick like he was as a child but so far every test had proved he was 100% healthy, even without any sign of the serum in his system. Steve brought his hand up to cup Luca’s head gently. The two men stared down at him quietly. The only sounds were Luca’s snuffles as he breathed through his nose and swallowed greedily.
“Sorry to interrupt, sirs, but Miss Potts is at the door,” JARVIS announced.
“Let her in, J,” Tony replied.
“I’ll go, take your time,” Steve said as he got off the bed and left the room.
Tony nervously brought Luca out once he had finished and shyly greeted Pepper. Pepper smiled knowingly.
“Hey,” she said softly, kissing his cheek and hugging him. “Hi, Luca.” She waved a finger at him. “You know we’ll come right back the second you want us to, or you can come down and get him. We’ll basically just be in another room,” she assured him.
“I know,” Tony replied, nodding.
Steve stepped forward. “So, I have his diaper bag packed with everything you might need. Diapers, change of clothes, pacifier, blanket, a toy,” he trailed off. She slung it on her shoulder.
“We’ll be perfectly fine for 2 hours, I think,” she smiled. “I’ll give you a minute.” She stepped away toward the door and Steve sidled up to Tony.
“We’ll see you in a little while, sweetheart,” Steve told his son, kissing his nose. Luca scrunched his face in reply and Steve chuckled.
“You’re not going far, kid. You’ll be okay, and we’ll be right there if you need us,” Tony said, more for himself than the baby. He lifted Luca higher in his arms, pressing his lips to the top of head for a moment, breathing him in. Steve squeezed Tony’s shoulder comfortingly and then they went over to Pepper who took Luca gently into her arms.
“I’ll bring him back when he gets hungry,” she smiled at the two men and left their floor.
Steve looked over at Tony and noticed him discreetly wiping the tears off his cheeks. “Come here,” Steve said pulling Tony into his embrace.
“I’m fine,” Tony said, muffled into Steve’s shirt. Steve hummed a small sound because he doesn’t agree but doesn’t want to start an argument. “I should take a shower actually. I put on clean clothes but I still feel gross.” Tony pulls away and Steve lets him even though the point was for them to spend time together. At least he’s doing something to take care of himself.
Fifteen minutes later Steve went to check on Tony because he hadn’t heard a sound since the water turned on. “Hey, sweetheart. You okay in there?” He asked as he stuck his head in the bathroom. The steam billowed out and Steve wondered how hot the water had to be for the amount of heat and condensation in the room at the moment. “Tony?” When he didn’t answer again Steve pulled the back of the shower curtain open and peeked in. Tony was standing under the spray, head down, water running over his face and shoulders shaking with silent sobs. “Oh, Bubba,” Steve whispered. Steve reached in and turned the water off but Tony still didn’t turn to him so he grabbed a towel and stepped in behind his husband wrapping him up and turning him around. “You’re okay. Come on, I’m gonna help.” He held Tony for a minute then walked him over to the edge of the tub, stepped out himself, then helped Tony out.
“Sorry,” Tony said weakly as Steve removed the towel to dry him thoroughly. “I’m just so tired,” he whimpered.
“You do not have to apologize for this,” Steve said sternly. Once Tony was dry Steve helped him step into his boxer briefs and then towel dried his hair more so it wouldn’t drip. Tony shivered and sniffled and Steve stopped to look at him.
“How are you feeling physically? How’s the pain?” Tony subconsciously put a hand to his stomach rubbing it lightly.
“Sore still. But better than it was.” Steve nodded.
“Let’s get you warm.”
Steve grabbed a pair of Tony’s dark gray sweatpants and helped him slide them on then handed him a tank top which he managed himself. Steve went to the closet and got one of his own zip up sweatshirts for Tony to wear, knowing it would be big on him but comfortable.
“Stand up for a sec,” Steve motioned to Tony. He helped his arms into the hoodie and then zipped it up all the way. Tony was drowning in it but he looked cozy and warm.
“What are you smiling at?” Tony questioned.
“You look cute,” Steve said wistfully. Tony rolled his eyes but Steve caught the small smile before he dipped his head to Steve’s chest. He cupped the back of Tony’s head with one hand and brought the other to Tony’s waist. “I don’t want to fight with you, but I do think it’s time we readdress the milk situation.”
Tony tried to pull away instantly but Steve held on, though he loosened his hold. “Steve, stop,” Tony choked out.
“I love you, Tony. And you can do this. You have been doing it beautifully but you don’t HAVE to do it alone. You can’t keep up this pace. No one would be able to,” Steve let Tony go as he struggled to turn away. “It’s not a failure to share this with me, Tony. Even if you just pump a little bit so I can do some of the night feeds and you can rest a little more it would make a world of difference.” Steve approached Tony again, turning him gently. “You are going to be the best dad. You already have been. Doing this doesn’t mean you care any less.” He cupped Tony’s face in his hands and Tony let out the sob he’d been holding back. “Anyone that spends even a second with you and Luca would see that you love him more than anything in the world.” Tony nodded fervently. “Maybe we could just try it out once, and see how it goes. See how Luca takes to a bottle and see if you get a little more sleep?”
Tony was shaking but he nodded in agreement. “Okay, tomorrow though? Not today?”
Steve agreed right away. “Yeah, tomorrow sounds good. You know I’m not trying to make this harder on you right?”
“I know.” He snuggled back into Steve.
“Why don’t we go sit on the sofa? You’re shaking, Bubba.” Tony nodded and leaned more heavily into Steve’s chest. “Can I carry you?” Tony lifted his arms and looped them around Steve’s neck in answer. Steve was going for a bridal carry, he crouched a little so he could sweep one arm under Tony’s legs and one behind his back but once Steve had leaned down a little Tony hoisted himself up and wrapped his legs around Steve’s waist so that they were chest to chest. Steve brought his hands to Tony’s thighs to support him and smiled. Steve was more than willing to accommodate his husband if he wanted to be clingy for a bit. He walked them to the kitchen first, grabbing a single serve bottle of orange juice and carrying that back with them to the sofa.
“You’re going to have to unhook your feet from behind my back so I can sit us down, Bubba.” Tony dropped his legs down by Steve’s sides without a word and Steve sat down slowly.
Tony ended up in basically a kneeling position on the sofa cushion, straddling Steve, and he settled his weight back onto Steve’s thighs. Steve instantly brought his hands up around his husbands back, hugging him close. Tony buried his face into the space below Steves chin.
“It’s okay, you’re okay,” he soothed as he continued the patterns his hands were rubbing on to Tony’s back. Tony sniffled and he knew he was holding back tears, though he couldn’t see his face at this angle.
“I’m sorry,” Tony gasped, but Steve was already shaking his head.
“Still nothing to be sorry for, Tony. You can sit here like this all day if you want. There’s nowhere I’d rather be.” He pushed Tony back a little so he could look at him. He looked exhausted, which was to be expected after giving birth, and he was pale.
“Should be with the baby,” Tony mumbled.
Steve sighed. “He’s okay with Pepper right now, you know that,” he assured him. “He’s probably sleeping anyway. It’s okay to take care of yourself when you need to, Tony. And right now you’re my priority.” Since Tony was wearing Steve’s old SHEILD hoodie Steve pulled the hood up over Tony’s head to keep him warm and pulled him back against his chest. “Are you sure this is comfortable with your legs bent like that? We can lay down if you want?”
Tony stiffened and his hand grasped Steve’s bicep. “No,” he spoke quickly. “Like this, wanna stay. Please”
“Of course,” Steve agreed. “It’s fine, Tony. I’m comfortable with you in my lap, I just wanted to make sure you were.”
Tony settled more firmly against him once he was assured that Steve wasn’t moving. “Love you,” Tony said into Steve’s neck.
“I love you.” Steve kissed the side of his head and then uncapped the orange juice. “Drink a little of this for me?” Tony pulled his head up and took the bottle, sipping slowly. He handed it back when he couldn’t drink anymore. “Why don’t you close your eyes? We’ve got maybe an hour left. Make the most of it,” he smiled.
“‘Kay,” Tony replied softly. He put his head back down onto Steve’s shoulder, facing his neck, and his hands were at Steve’s sides just slightly behind his back holding tightly to his T-shirt in two fists. Steve had one hand on the back of Tony’s neck rubbing his thumb against the short hairs there and the other hand held Tony securely to him. In a ridiculously short amount of time Tony fell asleep and Steve followed soon after with his face buried in Tony’s hair.
JARVIS woke Steve with an announcement that Pepper was at the door. “Let her in,” he said tiredly. “How long were we asleep?”
“It’s been one hour and twelve minutes, Captain.” Steve sighed. At least they got a decent nap in.
“Hi,” Pepper said as she entered the living area. Luca was whining in her arms, waving his little arms in anger. “I think he’s hungry. His diaper is dry and I tried holding him but he won’t calm down.”
“Yeah, it’s about that time. Thank you, honestly. This really helped us.”
Pepper smiled, glancing at Tony’s face that looked so peaceful in sleep. “I’m sorry you’ll have to wake him.”
“Well, I got him to agree to try and pump tomorrow so we can make a better schedule so maybe this won’t be an issue much longer.” Luca’s cries picked up in volume and Tony snuffled and his eyes shot open, lifting his head.
“Hey,” Steve said. “It’s okay. Pepper brought Luca back to eat but he’s okay.” Tony nodded, releasing his breath and looking over to Pepper.
“Hey, Pep.” He held his arms out for his son.
“Do you want to sit next to me instead, Tony?” Steve asked.
“No, I’ll stay here if you’re okay.” Tony unzipped the hoodie and lifted his shirt then took Luca from Pepper and held him to his chest. Once Luca latched on Tony relaxed.
“Call me if you need this again, or anything else. Got it?” Pepper ordered. They both thanked her and she left the two men to relax with their son.
Steve put his feet up onto the coffee table so Tony would be able to lean back slightly on his bent knees. He put his finger in Luca’s gripped and the boy held on tight as he drank nestled in the small space between his fathers chests.
“Steve,” Tony said after a few minutes. “Thank you. You were right about me needing this today and we do need to make some changes. I get that.” Steve smiled brightly.
“Look this was always going to be a lot of work. I just want to make it as easy on you as possible. You gave me this,” he gestured to Luca. “I have a son and we’re a family. I have you. I never thought I’d have any of this, before or after the ice. So, I’m the one that should be thanking you.” He moved his hand off Tony’s waist and brought it to up his cheek, rubbing his thumb lightly along his husbands cheekbone. Tony turned his head and kissed Steve’s palm.
“I’ll probably keep snapping at you. At least until this kid’s out of diapers. You sure that sounds so great to you?” Steve knew Tony was joking, he laughed when he said it, but he also knew Tony’s insecurities could rare their ugly head at any moment so he didn’t laugh. He held Tony’s eye contact.
“Sounds amazing. I plan on keeping you the rest of our lives.”
“Sap,” Tony mumbled but he was blinking quickly trying to avoid more tears.
“You love it,” Steve countered.
“Yeah. Yeah I do.”