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Keeping Warm

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It was snowing when Steve woke.

The windows were already dotted with thick clumps of snow and it was piling up along the edges and in the corners. The light that came through was dim and grey from the clouds.

The bedroom was cold and dark. They’d opted not to turn the heat on when they arrived the night before, choosing to build a fire in the huge stone fireplace that took up nearly one entire wall of the master bedroom. Tony had groused about the inefficiency of fireplaces as a heat source until Steve had promised to warm him up. They’d spent most of the evening in front of that fireplace, wrapped up in each other, only rousing themselves to curl up in bed well past midnight.

Now it was morning and judging by Steve’s internal clock, it was much later than he usually slept. He could feel the chill in the air but beneath the blankets he was cozy and Tony was a warm, heavy weight in his arms.

He should get up, turn on the heat at least. Maybe start shoveling the front walk and driveway so they didn’t get completely snowed in. But he could feel Tony’s heart beating beneath his hand, hear the soft, even sounds of his breathing, and couldn’t make himself care enough to move.

This was supposed to be a vacation anyway. Ten days all to themselves, no meetings or conference calls, no board of directors or SHIELD debriefings. No missions. No supervillains. Steve pressed a kiss to the top of Tony’s head and sighed, tightening his arms around him for a moment. No running themselves ragged for days on end with barely a hello or goodbye and no time to spend together. Steve hadn’t realized how much he missed the quiet little moments where they were just a couple, the casual things like waking up together, arguing over who used the last of the toothpaste, lying on the couch with his head in Tony’s lap while they watched a movie. It had been weeks since they’d done more than kiss in passing and even longer since they’d had the chance to be together outside a quick, sleepy fumble as one or the other staggered into bed. Steve had started to feel almost touch deprived as the weeks dragged on and found himself fantasizing about ambushing Tony and cuddling him into submission. If Tony hadn’t announced he was taking a break and taking Steve with him when he had, Steve suspected he might have done something embarrassing.

Tony stirred in his arms and Steve had to stop himself from acting on the sudden urge to bury his face in Tony’s hair and squeeze him so tight he couldn’t possibly slip away. Instead he brushed his lips over Tony’s hair. “It’s okay,” he said softly. “It’s early yet. Go back to sleep.”

Tony murmured something garbled, but his tone was the same petulant note that he had when he was still half asleep and tired. It made Steve almost unbearably fond as he briefly tightened his hold. “Shh,” he said, stroking one hand down Tony’s chest. “There’s plenty of time yet. “Go back to sleep.”

Tony sighed, a deep, heaving sigh that meant he was more awake than he wanted to be. He wriggled in Steve’s arms, turning until he was lying on his opposite side, facing Steve. His fingers skimmed Steve’s belly and chest before curling around the back of his neck. “mmmf.”

Steve laughed, a breathless little chuckle that moved the tufts of hair sticking up on Tony’s head. “Morning, sweetheart.”

Tony groaned again, high-pitched and with a distinct undercurrent of whine that he’d probably deny once he was awake.

Steve kissed his nose, then both his eyelids, laughing at the way Tony scrunched his face up. “I told you to go back to sleep.”

“Only time I’ve seen you in weeks is when I’m asleep,” Tony said grumpily. His eyes were still closed, his lashes long and dark against his cheeks. “Want to be awake with you for a little while.”

“You were very awake last night,” Steve said. He stroked a hand down Tony’s back and cupped his rear, kneading the muscled flesh for a minute. Tony made a sound that Steve took as enjoyment and pushed back against his grip. “I had missed being awake with you.”

Tony hummed in agreement, his fingers tangled in the short, bristly hair at the nape of Steve’s neck, his thumb stroking the shell of Steve’s ear. “If I’d known fireplaces did it for you, I’d have put one in our room at the Tower. And the townhouse. And the penthouse on Lex.” He took a deep breath, his chest expanding to brush against Steve’s, stretching beneath the covers. “Every house I own is gonna have a fireplace by next winter.”

“It wasn’t the fireplace.” Steve kissed Tony’s mouth, a soft brush of lips. “It was the company.”

Tony finally opened his eyes and looked at Steve, his blue eyes soft and gray in the dim morning light. He smiled, the pleased, almost shy little smile he always wore when he chose to believe Steve loved him.

It had taken so many years to bring that smile into being, and even longer before Steve saw it regularly. Sometimes he spent days just trying to bring it to Tony’s face as many times as possible. Today he just kissed Tony again, soft, with the shape of that smile against his mouth.

The bed was luxuriously big, even for two men over six feet, the pillows plump and lush, the sheets soft and warm from their body heat. The comforter was heavy and bundled up around their shoulders. The skylight above them was slowly filling with snow and Steve thought again that he should go turn the heat on, shovel the walk, make sure they had candles and that their cell phones were charged in case the power went out.

But Tony was kissing his way across Steve’s chest, soft, dry touches that made Steve’s heart ache with the sweetness of it. He could feel Tony’s breath and smell his musk. Tony’s heart was beating strong beneath Steve’s hand, the pulse of it echoed in Steve’s own chest.

He touched Tony’s chin with his thumb and forefinger, urged his head up so Steve could kiss him again. Tony’s mouth was warm and pliant beneath his, he opened to Steve’s kiss without hesitation.

Steve pressed the kiss deeper, gathered Tony closer to him. Outside it was cold and dark. Here, in the space they made between the blankets and sheets, lit only by the soft light of the arc reactor, warmed only by the press of their bodies together, everything was peaceful. “Come here,” he said against Tony’s lips, taking his mouth in kiss after lazy kiss. “Keep me warm, sweetheart.”