And Sunday always comes too late
But Friday never hesitate
Steve likes to think he’s keeping up with the changes in this new world he’s found himself in. He’s adjusted to getting the news online, he doesn’t double take at the way people dress on the subway anymore. Sure he still sometimes jumps when his phone vibrates but he’s married to a handsome and charismatic man. So for the most part, he feels that he’s becoming a thoroughly modern kind of guy. But this, this he just can’t get used to.
It’s supposed to be family night. But for some reason, the television has become part of their family. And he’s just about had enough.
Said handsome and charismatic husband is currently lounging beside him in a blue shirt and deliberately weathered, designer jeans. On the floor, their young son is eating his dinner, his face face tuned into the television like a sunflower turned toward the sun. For Steve, that’s the final straw.
“Turn it off, Jarvis”
“Of course, Sir.”
The picture disappears and Steve is left staring at two nearly identical, shocked faces.
Tony glowers at him, “I was watching that.”
“You were not, you’ve been playing on that Stark Pad all night.” Steve points out.
“Listening to it, then.”
Steve doesn’t doubt it. Tony is the king of multi-tasking
Peter is five and regards him with a big, gap-toothed grin. “It’s ok Pops. Want to play a game or somthin’?”
Steve chooses his words carefully, he knows he’s the old timer in a family of technology addicts.
“I just think that maybe we should start having dinner at the dining table.”
They all glance at the unused table over by the picture windows. It’s currently covered with papers Peter’s brought home from kindergarten as well as projects abandoned by Tony and even a few art supplies Steve had forgotten about.
“Maybe. That would be a good idea, right Dad?” Peter, ever the peacemaker, looks to Tony for approval.
Steve notices his husband hasn’t moved other than to set his jaw a bit. “And just why do you think that, Gramps.”
“Well, I just think we should try to set a good example.” He tries, looking over toward their son.
“And what about this,” Tony gestured to himself and raises his shoulders in question, “isn’t setting a good example.”
“It’s just that back,in my day, we had dinner at the table.”
“And ‘in your day’” Tony makes air quotes. “only half of homes had indoor plumbing.”
“I’m just saying, let’s try it.” Steve tries a placating tone. “Starting tomorrow.”
Tony blinks, looking doubtful, “Don’t you have that meeting with the new Avengers PR consultant.”
“On a Sunday?” Steve furrows his brows a bit, slowly remembering.
Tony rattles off a question at the ceiling. “Jarvis, when does Captain Hottie meet with the lady from Public Relations?”
“Tomorrow is correct, Sir.” Jarvis’ tone neutral and implacable.
The smirk on Tony’s face is less so.
“I’ll try to make it back.” Steve promises. “Maybe by seven at the latest.”
Steve pushes the PR lady to wrap it up, but still he only makes it home by eleven. The penthouse is dark and quiet. Steve finds his dinner wrapped in foil, in the fridge. There’s a post-it note in the center, obviously Peter’s work. It’s Steve and Tony, he can tell because of the facial hair on the second figure. Peter is between them, holding their hands.
For some reason Peter’s drawn himself with two sets of arms and legs, but the kid is always in motion so Steve guesses that makes sense.
Steve carefully sets the doodle aside. He’ll add it to the big scrapbook later.
He microwaves and eats his dinner in silence. He could ask Jarvis to turn on some music or maybe read out some of the day's headlines, but the truth is he just misses his family.
Steve washes up and heads for the shower, he pauses in the hallway then changes direction.
He cracks open Peter’s door. Their son is curled on his side, under the warm glow of his Captain America’s shield nightlight. He may be Tony’s by birth but he’d easily curled his way into Steve’s heart.
Steve creeps in and adjusts the blankets over an exposed arm. Peter burrows into them, pulling his stuffed rabbit closer. He snuffles softly in his sleep
Smiling, Steve slips out of the room.
He trots down the hall to his shared bedroom with Tony. His husband usually kept late hours so Steve allows himself a small thrill of anticipation. But when he gets to the bedroom the man himself is there, head tipped back against the pillows, breathing softly through his mouth. The arm holding the Stark pad is draped across his stomach.
Steve sets the pad on the charging station and gently slips off the Tom Ford glasses off his husband’s face. It’s rare to be able to contemplate Tony in repose. Usually the man is all over the place, practically bursting with new ideas and inventions.
If Steve weren’t so tired himself, he might go get his sketchbook. Instead he takes a mental picture and decides it will have to be enough.
Steve hurries home on Monday. He even finds himself whistling in the elevator as he ascends to their penthouse. He’s running a little behind but 6:30 wasn’t too late.
The bright atmosphere is in direct contrast to the scene that greets him.
Tony is on the couch, with Peter tucked against him, shoulders shaking with hiccuping sobs.
“What happened?” Steve can’t keep the confusion from his voice, this was not the way the evening he’d planned was supposed to go.
Peter’s eyes are rimmed in red, he’s clutching the pillow to his chest, tears streaking down his cheeks. It pulls hard at Steve’s heartstrings.
“Clyde died,” the boy chokes out.
Steve looks to Tony for guidance .
“You know Clyde, from his class.” Tony says this as if Steve should know this kid.
His legs almost gave way as the full implication of Peter’s words finally hit him. Steve finds himself babbling a bit, desperate to comfort his kid.
“We-we’ll go to the funeral.”
“We already buried him.” Peter sobs, “under the window.”
Steve doesn’t know what to make of that, but he presses on. He moves to crouch in front of his child and gently pulls the boys hands away from his tear-stained face.
“You know, son. We never know when it might be the last time we’ll see someone. The last time we’ll get to tell them what they meant to us. This is one of those times, but we’ll never forget Clyde and what a good friend he was.”
Peter’s sobs eventually drift into sniffles and Steve feels like he’d accomplished something here.
“Go brush your teeth. We’ll come tuck you in.” Tony says softly, with a quick kiss to wild curls.
Peter slips out from under Tony’s arm and hurries down the hall to the bathroom.
“That was a very inspiring speech.” Tony pauses a beat. “You know Clyde was the class hamster, right?
“Ah.” Steve sighes. “I did not know that.” He rests his hands on his hips.
“Maybe we should call Pete’s teacher and tell her Captain America is prepared to come deliver a touching eulogy. You know..for Clyde.”
“Shut up, Tony.”
“Make me.” It’s a challenge... and an invitation.
Steve’s eyes flick down to where his husband is sprawled on the couch. All tight, black t-shirt and dark sparkling eyes.
His eyes are drawn to the softly curved lips and he leans down.
There’s a loud sniffle from behind him. Peter is picking forlornly at the cuff of his red and blue pajamas.
“Dad, Pops? Can someone lay down with me? I'm still really sad about Cyde.”
Tony answers for both of them, “We’ll be there in a minute, buddy.”
Peter pads back to his room, the sound of his little bare feet retreating down the hall.
“I guess I’m on duty then.” Tony sighs regretfully, pushing himself off the couch.
“Dinner?” Steve tries, he’s disappointed to be honest.
There’s a flash of some unnamed emotion in Tony’s eyes before he glances sway. “Kid’s not really hungry and I already ate.”
“Something more than coffee I hope.” Steve calls after him.
“I prefer not to incriminate myself, I think I’ll plead the fifth.” Tony disappears down the hall, hips moving in a deliberate swagger.
After allowing himself an appreciative eyeful, Steve follows.
No one is home when Steve gets to the penthouse at five. He glances at the stack of take-out menus and decides tonight will be different. So with Jarvis' help he pulls out some pans and packets and gets to work. He’s been at it for about an hour when the penthouse phone rings.
“Incoming call from Boss, Sir.” Jarvis intones. “Shall I answer?”
“Yes, put it on speaker, please, Jarvis.” He adds hot milk to his potato flakes and gives it a stir. Under his ministrations it slowly begins to form a very promising ivory paste.
The first thing he hears is the wind. “Where are you? Are you in a suit??” Steve asks.
“Driving!” Tony calls back, “I’ve got the top down.”
Now that Steve is really listening, he can just hear the well-maintained purr of the Audi convertible engine.
“Are you in the city?” Steve reaches over to agitate his meat chunks in brown sauce so that it doesn’t congeal.
There’s silence for a moment as Jarvis buffers the call and eliminates the ambient noise.
“Tony?” Steve calls.
“Yeah? It’s me. I’m heading to the compound,” there’s something that sounds suspiciously like chewing. “Fury wants a mock-up of the new prototype...thing and I can’t do it in the city.”
“But I cooked!” Steve protests.
“You..cooked?” Tony’s tone is seeking clarification, he sounds stunned. “You?”
“Well, I put the things in the pan, Tony. Heat and stir.”
“Ah, yes, the bare minimum to be considered cooking.” A bag rustles over the line and Steve’s blue eyes narrow, but he decides to let it go.
He cautiously licks the spoon full of potato. “Tastes ok.”
“I’m sure.” Tony agrees mildly, not sounding sure at all.
It grew quiet, too quiet actually. Steve blinks.“Wait a minute, where’s Peter?”
“Spending the night at Ned’s apartment. It was a last minute sort of development.”
“Oh” Steve mulls it over, they’ve discussed it before. “Have we decided he’s old enough for sleepovers?”
“Considering that we have to leave him with Happy and Pepper on a fairly regular basis for missions, I’m going to go with ‘yes.’ Also might be nice to have another backup in the mix. Ned’s mom is a peach.” Tony’s chewing again, his words muffled.
Steve is continuing preparations for his now solitary dinner when a thought strikes him, “Wait, does this mean we’ll have to host Ned, here?”
“Sleepovers at our penthouse? It’s more likely than you think.” Tony quips.
Steve laughs. His husband’s ability to crack a joke in almost any circumstances was something Steve treasured.
It’s with this warm feeling running through him that he tries to exact a promise. “Tomorrow, dinner, ok?”
There’s silence on the line and he’s not sure if Tony heard him.
Then Steve hears Tony clear his throat and a quiet allowance, “We’ll see.”
Which is not the enthusiastic agreement that he’d hoped for. He feels the distance acutely. “Will you be home tonight?”
“It will probably be morning.” His spouse murmurs. “I’ll call you.”
“Tony, make sure you get some sleep. I love you.” He says seriously, trying to impart the emotion to his husband over the phone.
“Love you too, Glamour Pants.” Tony answers, it would sound flippant, but Steve can hear the smile in his voice. “I’ll be in touch. Jarvis, end call.”
Steve wakes up alone. He spends his day at the local Shield facility doing whatever they ask him too. It generally ranges from security briefings to training new recruits.
He gets periodic texts from Tony that end with the news that he’s made it safely back to town.
Steve is back home by four and optimistic about the evening. It gets even more promising when Tony’s already waiting for him when he gets there. They’re just getting their bearings when a harried Happy hurries in with Peter, fresh from school.
Peter holds out his hands, covered with what Steve can only hope is chocolate. “I’m stickkyyyy.” He giggles, haphazardly swiping his fingers at his parents.
“Yes, you are.” Tony says fondly, sliding of the stool at the breakfast bar and moving to turn on the sink.
“He got it all over the door of the sedan.” Happy grouses.
Steve levels a look at the kid, “Peter.” He says sternly. “Wash your hands and go help Happy clean up the car.”
“Ok, Pops!” Peter shouts, the volume is a little shocking.
Tony corrals him over to the sink with an ease born of experience.
“Did you have fun at your sleepover?” Steve asks over the sound of the water.
“Yeah!” The kid grins, dutifully soaping his fingers. “Ned’s mommy made us brownies!”
“You know you’re supposed to eat them, not wear them right?” Tony asks shutting off the sink and reaching for a towel.
Peter doesn’t get to answer because the Avengers alarm flares to life.
Tony and Steve lock eyes in silent communication.
“Go with Happy, kiddo.” Tony gives Peter a gentle squeeze.
“You got him?” He asks Happy.
Happy’s all business now, “I got him, Boss”
Peter is watching them with solemn eyes, all traces of earlier mischief gone. He darts over and throws his arm around Steve's waist, squeezing tighter than Steve would have expected, he winces.
“It’s ok, son, go with Happy. He’ll take you to see Miss Pepper.” He eases Peter back to Happy.
Happy gently leads Peter to the penthouse elevator.
Steve turns back to Tony who is busy scanning a briefing document on his phone.
“I’ll grab my gear and meet you at the jet.”
All he gets in answer is a terse nod.
It’s Hydra because of course it is. All Steve wanted was one dinner at home. The frustration bubbles over.
“You’re the reason we can’t have nice things!” He mutters, binging the shield off someone’s head. The Hydra agent goes down in a heap.
There’s a flare of repulser fire behind him and Steve turns his head to see Iron Man hovering off to his left.
“You seem tense.” Tony observes.
Steve rolls his shoulders “ I am pretty tense,” He punches a guy in the face. “Especially for a guy whose kid spent last night at a friend’s house.”
“Oh, have I been neglecting you?” Tony practically purrs.
War Machine crashes the party. “Quit staring at his butt Tone’s and help me get that guy.”
“What guy?” A green laser beam shoots by, missing Iron Man by inches. “Oh that guy, you should have been more specific, Platypus.”
“Tony, pay attention.” Steve grinds out, but only because he’s pretty distracted himself at the moment.
Refocusing, he throws the shield with unerring accuracy and takes out the laser while Iron Man and War Machine take care of the rest of it.
The Hulk manages to break through Hydra’s line then and after that it’s all downhill.
The fighting rages on for over an hour, but they manage to end it just as the sun goes down.
Steve cuts off the Hydra leader mid-oration, knocking him out with a well timed punch. Nat shocks him with a Widow Bite for good measure before they toss him in the back of a Shield containment vehicle with the rest of his minions.
“You didn’t even let him finish his evil speech.” Clint sighs.
Steve shrugs, scanning the area. “Eh, I’ve heard it all before.” His energy is flagging a bit. He’s always tired after a fight, it’s the adrenaline crash he supposes.
There’s a rumble and impact behind him as the Iron Man suit lands on the pavement.
He smiles wearily and shakes his head, Tony has always had a flair for the dramatic.
The face place pops open. “We won, right? Feels like we won, but you look like you went a few rounds with Mike Tyson and came out on the losing end.”
Steve shakes his head. “I’m just tired.
Tony sheds the armor, it folds up neatly into a briefcase at his feet.
Steve watches him, rapt. No matter how many times he’s seen it, he’s still a little dazzled.
“How’s Peter?” Steve wants to know.
“Pep says he’s sleeping.” Tony pulling his phone out.
“Good,” Steve sighs, his head falling forward on a wave of exhaustion, “that’s good.”
“Hungry?” Tony asks, looking fatigued but more alert than Steve felt. “There’s a nice little Greek place on west fifty-fifth?”
“Are you hungry?” Steve feels like he could sleep for a week.
“I could eat.” Tony’s stomach lets out a low growl.
Steve chuckles at his spouse’s rueful grin. This feels closer than they have been the last few days.
Tony’s not above wheedling, “Some moussaka and a nice little baklava? What’d you say, Cap?”
“All right.” Steve grins, tugging off his helmet. “But sometime this week, dinner at home.”
Tony doesn’t answer, he continues to tap away on his phone.
Steve watches his face and the subtle tightness in his jaw. There’s a picture here that he can’t fully make sense of yet. Tonight, though, he’s too tired and the answer eludes him.
It’s quiet in the Rec Center and that calm lends itself to contemplation. Steve is setting out his supplies, brushes, primer, charcoal pencils for sketching. After dealing out so much necessary destruction in his life as a soldier and Avenger, this little oasis of creation is something he was fast coming to depend on.
The phone rings while he’s going through his paints, setting aside the vermilion, titanium, and ultramarine for later.
He answers the video call and the picture flashes to life with Tony and Peter in the kitchen surrounded by takeout boxes.
Peter is beaming and Steve watches as he clambers from the stool up onto the counter. If it was there, Peter would climb it. They’d once found him on top of the refrigerator when he was three. They’d had to get more creative about hiding the cookies after that.
Tony clears his throat expectantly. It startles Steve out of his thoughts.
“Well, we’re waiting.”
“Waiting for what?” Steve can feel his brows drawing together in confusion.
“Dinner.” Tony gestures to the counter. Peter giggles and waves before starting to make faces to himself.
“Tony...I’m teaching my art class tonight.” Steve sighs.
Tony’s eyebrows rose as a wave of understanding seems to roll over him. “Ah. Better luck next time, then.”
“I’ll be home at nine.” Steve reminds them. “Love you both.”
Peter waves enthusiastically, “Bye Pops!”
“Love you too, Spangles” Tony says with a cheeky grin that has Steve rolling his eyes fondly.
Jarvis ends the call but something is niggling at him. Tony isn’t one to forget schedules, definitely not Peter's and usually not Steve’s. In fact, he’s the one that had encouraged Steve to pursue his art.
And despite Tony pretending that they were ready to eat, he and Peter were nowhere near the dining table, which Steve was willing to bet was still covered in clutter.
This coupled with Tony’s recent emotional reticence and the mysterious, urgent, trip to the compound the other night had Steve was starting to suspect something else is going on here. Tomorrow, he thinks.
By Friday, Steve had given up on family dinner at anything resembling a table.
Peter hands him a plate as they settle onto the couch in front of the television. “Here, Pops, I got you some pizza.” He rubs his nose with his sleeve.
“Thanks, Pete.” Steve smiles in thanks, taking his food.
Tony slips in beside him, setting down a drink for him.
“Everything good?” He asks, checking in.
Steve smiles and digs in.“Yeah, we’re good.”
Later as the movie plays on, Steve slips his arm around Tony’s shoulders. He doesn’t have a lie detector but this might do.
“You want to tell me why you’re avoiding eating dinner at the table?”, he asks lightly once he’s sure Peter is engrossed in the show.
‘Aha’ Steve thinks.
“I never said that.” Tony objects, setting down his phone. He’s not meeting Steve’s eyes.
“Didn’t have to.” Steve starts making soothing circles with his thumb on his husband’s shoulder. “I’m getting pretty good at recognizing avoidance techniques.”
Steve held his breath, this could go south quick if he wasn’t careful. He could practically see Tony’s brain whirling before he finally answers.
"Listen, Steve," Tony starts and then stops all together, lips pressing together as he seems to wrestle with a memory.
Steve freezes, not daring to speak and possibly damage the fragile moment.
“We used to do it.” Tony’s voice is flat when he finally starts again; and Steve knows he’s not talking about their little family. “Every night, eat at the table,” his tone is bitter, “play acting at happy family. And I’ll tell you what, it was anything but.” His wounded brown eyes flash to Steve’s finally.
Time to really listen, Steve thinks. “So you don’t want to have dinner at the table because to you it doesn’t feel like something loving families do.”
“Yeah, that’s pretty much the gist of it.” Tony’s jaw tightens. “But I know it’s different for you…,” he falls back onto sarcasm. “Because back in the day,” he gestures, “very little entertainment besides watching great aunt Bertha eat her peas…”
“Ok, ok,” Steve holds his hand up in surrender, a smile playing at his lips. “We don’t have to do it. This is good enough.” He feels Tony slowly relax against him. “I love this, you, me and Peter. I look forward to it.”
“Us, at the table.” Tony corrects, still defensive.
Steve shakes his head. “It doesn’t have to be.”
They slip into a companionable silence, until Tony breaks it.
“I guess I don’t mind eating at our table every once in a while.”
The tone is begrudging and Steve knows that’s as good as he’s going to get. He also realizes that Tony wouldn’t be this difficult if there weren’t significant trauma there. Sometimes he wishes he could go back and have a word or two with Howard.
“Once a week, once a month or maybe just once.” Steve agrees. “We can see what works for our family.” He lightly squeezes Tony’s shoulder.
When their eyes finally meet, it’s warm and electric. Steve takes his arm from around Tony and links their hands, curling their fingers together.
He can’t resist and leans in for a kiss, then another, he can’t get enough. It’s good, he leans back and clears his throat. “So when can Peter go to Ned’s again?”
Peter’s head whips around and his face lights up. “Ned?” he asks excitedly.
“Now you’ve done it.” Tony sighs.
Steve laughs. The future is bright with possibility, and it’s Friday and he’s so very much in love.
I don't care if Monday's blue
Tuesday's grey and Wednesday too
Thursday I don't care about you
It's Friday I'm in love
Peter is carefully turning the paper, his safety scissors tight in his grip.
“Good, ”Steve encourages, “just be careful with the smaller cuts.”
The boy turns the white square, cuts and turns again.
Steve furrows his brows, “Can I just... help a little?” He reaches out.
Peter pulls away, “I‘m doin’ it!”
“Yes, you are.” Steve placates. “You’re doing it all by yourself.”
His son grins and manipulates the paper in his grip, making small snips as he goes. As he works toward the middle, he squints in concentration, tongue poking out from the gap where his front teeth were missing.
The last cut has Peter making a noise of triumph before carefully unfolding and showing off his handiwork. “Look, Pops! I did it!”
Steve beams back, Peter’s enthusiasm contagious. “Good job, son. We’ll save it to put it on the tree in December. Would you like to make another one?”
Peter’s smile becomes polite but expectant. “Can I have tablet time now? Pleaase?”
Steve sighs, “Sure you can, but only for an hour.”
He watches his kid put on his headphones and goes to find his husband. He doesn’t have to go far.
“He did it again.” Steve says, leaning against the doorframe.
Tony doesn’t look up from where he’s assembling something from a pile of machined parts. “The world's most circular snowflake?”
“Yeah. I don't know if I’d call it a snowflake though.” Steve holds up the delicate piece of paper.
“What does that look like to you?”
Tony glances up and squints, “Some kind of web, maybe?”
“Yeah, exactly.” Steve agrees.
Tony shrugs, “Don’t worry, he’ll probably grow out of it.”