Some days, SHIELD actually has what can be considered light days; sometimes, they even have what might generously be referred to as weekends. This is one of those days, something like a Saturday, where activity is buzzing along at a normal level, all the major threats either in the hands of undercover agents or satellite branches. It's only one, but Fury has kindly told Phil to, "Get the fuck off my ship, Coulson, and get some fucking sleep before you come back."
For once, Phil is taking him at his word, getting ready to head out, but as he's going, Steve falls into step beside him. "Captain," Phil says amicably, but his smile says more than that.
"You're taking a break?" Steve asks, and he only sounds a little amazed.
"For once in my life," Phil says.
"Um," Steve says, and he looks like he always does when he asks for this, like this is going to be the time that Phil says no, that he scoffs or runs out. "Do you mind if Steven comes over this afternoon?"
It's been a long way from that first tentative "Can I call you Mister Coulson?" to this point. Phil would like for it to be predictable; he would like to be able to correlate it to weary days, fights, good moods, but it isn't like that. All Phil's learned is that there's another thing inside Steve, another side of him, something he wouldn't dare show anyone else. He's put his trust in Phil enough to let him see this, and it makes Phil's heart swell more than he'd admit to think about that. He's not going to let Steve down; if it's what Steve wants, then Phil's damn well going to spoil him rotten.
"Of course not," Phil tells him. "Steven's always invited."
Steve nods, looking relieved. "See you at home, then."
When Phil gets home, Steven's already there; he's sitting on the floor in the living room waiting. It's better this way, when Steve doesn't have to worry about how looks when he switches gears, because that part makes him more self-conscious than anything else. "Daddy, you're home," he says excitedly, but he doesn't stand up; the illusion loses something when Steve towers over him. He hugs Phil's legs when he walks over. "Did you bring me something?"
Phil chuckles. "Would I forget?" he says. He reaches into his pocket, pulling out a Milky Way bar and holding it out. Steven reaches for it, but Phil pulls it back. "Only if you promise not to get it on the carpet."
"I promise I'll be careful, Daddy," Steven swears, and Phil gives him the candy bar. Steven unwraps it, taking small bites, savoring it. "Thank you," he says, through a mouthful of chocolate.
"You're welcome," he says. He strokes Steven's hair. "What do you want to do, baby?"
"Can I have a coloring book?" Steven asks. When they started this, Phil wondered what he'd sound like, if he'd slur his words the way adults think kids do, but his voice is as straight and true as it always is, and something about that is calming, reassuring.
"Of course," Phil says, standing up. "Do you want dinosaurs, Egypt, or horses?"
"Dinosaurs," Steven tells him. Phil's not surprised; he's been working an obsessively detailed drawing of a coelophysis, which is pretty impressive considering the most complicated thing Phil ever remembers coloring as a kid is a bunny rabbit. The coloring books are in a cabinet in Phil's office along with the rest of Steven's things, even though Steve wanted to lock them up. Phil knows that sometimes, locks only make the things inside them more interesting, more salacious. Phil just puts them in a shoebox labeled with the name of a fictional nephew and has done with it.
Phil comes back with the book and the crayons, and Steven holds out his hands eagerly, taking them and setting them down on the floor. He puts his candy bar aside and lays down on his stomach before he flips the book open to his dinosaur, pushing the spine as flat as it will go and smoothing the pages down carefully.
Phil walks over to the TV, flipping through the DVD cases and picking Phineas and Ferb; if he's being perfectly honest, it's for him and not Steven, because all Steven really wants is something bright and colorful in the background. Phil's developed this weird fondness for the show- something about the platypus appeals to him.
He slots the DVD into the player and sits down in his chair, picking up the remote. He presses play, the cheerful cartoon starting up. He sits back, relaxing, letting the quiet comfort of the scene wash over him. Steven is concentrating hard, delicately shading around his dinosaur's spots, carefully scraping away the errant crayon marks when he wanders outside the lines, nibbling on his chocolate bar while he critically assesses his work. He looks happy, calm; he's sometimes sort of hyper when he's little, but today he just looks content.
Phil knows how much this means to Steve, how much he needs Steven, how good it makes him feel. It was a disorienting, almost scary prospect at first, but Phil never said no; Phil doesn't know whether he could say no to anything Steve wanted that wasn't SHIELD related, but thankfully they haven't hit the point yet where he has to find out. Phil never anticipated, though, how much he'd like it himself, how soothing it would be to shut the world off and just sit with his boy. Steve doesn't have to be the stalwart Captain America and he doesn't have to be the feared Agent Coulson; all they are is Steven and his Daddy, and nothing else matters.
Maybe it's a little strange that his boy is forty-six years older than him, but if that's the weirdest thing that happens today, then it is a blessed day indeed.
Steven is putting the final touches on his drawing, coloring in a cerulean sky behind it. He stuffs the last of his candy bar into his mouth, chewing on it meditatively as he inspects his picture. He seems to see what he's looking for; he rolls over and sits cross-legged, holding the dinosaur up for Phil's inspection. It's signed in the corner in cursive that's as neat as it can be for having been done with a dull black crayon, just 'Steven' and the day and month. "Do you like my dinosaur, Daddy?"
"It's a beautiful dinosaur," Phil tells him. "Can I put it on the fridge?"
Steven frowns, looking upset. "But then I can't do the other side."
"That's much more important," Phil agrees. "You did a great job," he says, and Steven blushes a little. "Are you going to do another one?"
"I dunno," Steven says, flipping through the book.
"Why don't you come sit with me instead?" Phil says, and Steven crawls over, sitting down next to his recliner.
Phil runs his fingers through Steven's thick hair gently, ruffling it a little. "Daddy," Steven says reproachfully, ducking his head. "You're messing up my hair."
Phil chuckles, smoothing it down. "I'm sorry," he says, laying his hand on Steven's neck, rubbing circles with his thumb. Steven seems appeased; he rests his head against Phil's leg, hooking an arm around it.
They just rest there for a long time, calm. On the TV, the disc ends, and Phil turns off the player before the overly-loud main menu can start again. Phil yawns; it was a long morning, and a nap doesn't sound like a half-bad idea. Steven would probably like that too, a good long cuddle. He hears a soft noise, and he looks down; that's when he realizes that Steven is sacked out already, snoring gently.
In a perfect world, he could scoop Steven up and carry him off, but that is definitely a non-option. "Steven," he says softly, shaking his shoulder, and Steven rouses. "Let's go to bed, baby."
Steven nods, blinking, and Phil helps him up. He puts his hand in Phil's and lets himself be led away. In bed, he falls asleep in Phil's arms, and Phil holds him, just like he's supposed to, for just as long as he needs it.
Steve says he's sorry when he wakes up, but Phil kisses him quiet. "Don't ever be sorry for being who you want to be," Phil says, just like every time.
"I'll try not to," Steve says, and Phil kisses him again.