Tony wakes to the sunlight shining in his face. He groans, instinctively hiding his face back in his pillow. The light feels too warm and bright for early morning sun and a quick glance at the digital clock sitting on his nightstand confirms his suspicions: It’s ten minutes to eleven.
Upon seeing the date and time on the clock, the first thought that crosses his mind is of the numerous tasks he has to finish that day. He sighs a long, drawn-out, and heavy sigh. He hasn’t been feeling his best for the past few days and he has the horrifying suspicion that even his ultra-workaholic self is teetering on the edge of a full-fledged burnout. Between SHIELD, Stark Industries, and the Avengers, he has no shortage of work to do. This is definitely not the time for burnout. His only saving grace for the day is the fact that Pepper has allowed him to come in the afternoon.
Closing his eyes, he relishes the brief yet sweet escape from reality, pretending just for a few moments that his day is blissfully empty. The work seems never-ending. The only reason he is in bed at all is because Steve had coaxed Tony to come to bed, complaining about how cold he was and steadfastly refusing to sleep without Tony in his arms.
After a few minutes, he resigns himself to the harsh reality of a busy day and moves to roll out of bed. Except the minute he tries to do so, his body moves further back toward the center of the bed instead of the opposite. Tony blinks at the arm tucked firmly around his middle. A warm weight is plastered against his back, a puff of breath tickling his ear.
He gets a short hum in reply, rising at the end in intonation.
Tony gets another sleepy hum and Steve burrows closer, the cold tip of his nose tucked behind Tony’s ear.
“Why are you still in bed? Did you come back to bed after your run?”
A quiet sigh, and then Steve’s gravelly voice is in Tony’s ear: “Never went.”
Tony’s lips quirk up into a small smile without his permission. “I never went anywhere, baby.”
“You’ve been busy.”
“Sorry, honey. Work gets crazy this time of the year.”
Steve hums again, lips resting against the back of Tony’s neck.
“And I’m really sorry, baby, but I have to go. More work awaits.”
“No,” Steve mutters decisively, throwing a leg over Tony’s body and pulling him in.
Tony snorts, amused. “No?”
“No work. You’re mine for the day,” Steve grumbles, arm curling tighter around Tony’s stomach.
Tony strokes the arm Steve has around him soothingly. “Pepper’s going to have my head if I don’t check off at least half the things on my to-do-list today. You want your husband to stay alive, don’t you?”
“I’ve told Pepper to give you the day off.”
“You told Pepper to give me the day off? And she agreed, just like that?”
There is a period of silence, and then:
“There may have been… some flowers involved. And some cupcakes and… bagels sent to her office, along with a—” Steve breaks off to yawn. “A very sweet and carefully worded handwritten note.”
Tony pauses. Then he gasps.
Turning around in Steve’s arms to take a proper look at him, the ends of Tony’s lips are tugged upwards in a disbelieving grin.
“Did you— Did Captain America commit an act of bribery?”
Steve frowns, squinting at Tony, sleep still heavy in his eyes. “It wasn’t bribery. It was… a gesture of appreciation.”
Tony raises an eyebrow. Steve stares back at him.
Eventually, Steve sighs in defeat. Tony’s grin widens.
“Fine,” Steve grumbles, shuffling closer to bury his face in Tony’s chest, “it was bribery.”
Tony chuckles, running his fingers through Steve’s soft blond locks.
“Captain. What would the people say?”
When Steve speaks, his muffled voice comes out rough and near incoherent, speech slurred groggily. “Captain America condemns bribery.” He lets out a content sigh, body melting further into Tony’s. “Steven Stark-Rogers, on the other hand, is not above bribery to get his husband a much-needed day off.”
Tony grins helplessly at his husband’s unfairly adorable antics, leaning down to nuzzle the top of Steve’s head fondly.
“What a menace you are, Mr. Stark-Rogers.”
His husband lets out another noncommittal hum that Tony feels against the bare skin of his chest.
“Go back to sleep, Mr. Stark-Rogers,” Steve mumbles. Tony closes his eyes obediently, slipping back into slumber with ease, a smile on his lips and a newfound lightness in his bones.
The sun is shining brightly up in the clear blue sky. The farmers market is bustling with life, with people visiting various tents stationed along the long stretch of road, each offering a variety of fresh produce as well as various finger foods and cold beverages.
The road is also lined by trees on either side, their towering height allowing their leaves and branches to form a natural canopy high up above, effectively shielding people from the sun’s scorching heat. There is even a gentle summer breeze that blows every now and then.
All in all, it’s a wonderful summer day, perfect for an outdoor date.
Now, if only Tony’s husband would stop ruining the day by being a stubborn bastard.
“Steve, this is getting ridiculous.”
“Give me a bag!”
“You have a bag.” Steve nods at the bag of red apples Tony is carrying.
Of course, that is nothing compared to the four bags of produce Steve is carrying. He even refuses to distribute the weight evenly between his two hands, insisting on carrying all four bags with one hand and using his other hand to hold Tony’s instead. He tries to reach around Steve in an attempt to grab one of the bags, grunting in frustration when Steve moves the bags beyond his reach. “Steve, your arm’s going to fall off. Just— Give some to me.”
“Tony, your shoulder just barely healed.”
“It’s completely healed. It’s fine, Steve. Just—”
Tony reaches for the bags again only for Steve to catch his arm and bring it back down. “I’ll be fine, sweetheart. I’m a supersoldier.”
“You do not get to pull the supersoldier card right now.”
“Steven, let me hold some of the bags.”
“You want something to hold? Fine, I’ll give you something to hold.”
Steve reaches for Tony’s arm and secures it around his own waist. Tony glares up at his husband and removes his arm from said waist with a sigh.
Letting out an abrupt grunt and doubling over dramatically, Steve clutches his own waist and fakes a pained expression. “Oh, why is my waist suddenly so heavy?”
“Steve, that doesn’t even make any sense—”
“Oh, God. So, so heavy. If only my husband were around to help me hold it—”
Tony rolls his eyes, slipping his arm back around Steve’s waist.
Pulling Tony closer so that he is pressed flush against his side, Steve beams at him, smile bright as the sun. “I feel a lot better now. Thank you.”
He leans down to kiss the tip of Tony’s nose. Tony wrinkles his nose, but he is determined to not let his glare falter.
“Ugh, I don’t know why I put up with you.”
“Love you too, sweetheart.”
Steve’s face falls the second he sees Tony walking into the study. Somehow, Steve has managed to infuse an impressive amount of frustration into the two syllables making up Tony’s name.
Tony freezes after having taken a few steps into the room, wide eyes blinking in bewilderment and a mug of hot tea in his hand. He racks his brain to figure out whatever sin he has committed to make Steve’s face crumple up like that—sandy brows furrowed and the edges of his lip tugged down into a displeased frown.
Coming up with nothing, he pads over quietly to the desk and sets the mug of Steve’s afternoon tea down on an empty space between a wooden penholder and a Stark Industries memo pad. Looking up at Tony from his seat in the plush leather office chair, Steve’s frown deepens.
Tony takes a few steps backward, hands raised in surrender.
“Whatever it is I did wrong, I’m sorry, and it’s one hundred percent my fault. Look, I even brought you a peace offering. A cup of tea to make you feel all warm and cozy?” Tony flashes him a wide, placating grin, gesturing to the mug sitting on the desk. Never mind that Tony has been bringing Steve his tea everyday for years now.
Not even sparing a glance at the mug of steaming English Breakfast, Steve stands up wordlessly.
Slowly, Steve begins walking toward him, eyes on Tony and frown still in place.
“What? I said I’m sorry.”
Steve continues to walk toward him and Tony continues to walk backward until he feels his back hitting the wall.
Slumping forward, Steve buries his face in the crook of Tony’s neck with a grunt, hands coming to rest on Tony’s waist.
“How am I supposed to get any work done if you walk around the house dressed like this?” Steve whines.
“What—” Tony blinks, looking down at his own attire—or rather, the lack thereof. Having just woken up from a nap, he is dressed only in his boxer briefs. A laugh bubbles up his throat, his entire body shaking with it. “Steven.”
“Don’t you ‘Steven’ me,” Steve grumbles.
“I don’t walk like this around the house all the time. I just woke up, honey.” Tony chuckles, hand coming up to bury his fingers in Steve’s hair, massaging his scalp lightly. “Go and finish your paperwork.”
“You can’t expect me to get any work done after seeing you like this,” Steve says, almost mournfully, nuzzling the delicate spot under Tony’s ear and sending a shiver down Tony’s spine.
“Shut up, you sweet talker. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before. Also, you have to finish your paperwork. We have dinner plans, remember?”
“Can we cancel dinner?” Steve asks hopefully. He runs his index finger along the boxer briefs’ elastic waistband and Tony squirms, ever ticklish.
“We can’t, darling,” Tony says, soft and apologetic even as he grins. “We’ve cancelled on Carol and honeybear twice already. They’ll kill us if we cancel on them again, especially if the only reason we’re doing it is because you can’t keep your hands off of me.”
“Your fault for walking around naked.”
“I’m not naked.”
“I can get you naked.” Steve slips his thumbs under the waistband and Tony grabs his wrists, stopping him before things can truly escalate.
“Nope,” Tony says with a breathless giggle, squeezing his eyes shut and resolutely ignoring the delicious curl of heat in the pit of his stomach. “Dinner plans.”
Steve lets out a defeated sigh, stepping back with a pout. “I hate it when you’re being responsible.”
The sight brings a fond smile to Tony’s face and he hooks his fingers under Steve’s chin to drag him into a soft, languid kiss.
“Please,” Tony says before planting another kiss on his husband’s jawline, “you love me.”
“I do, sweetheart,” Steve whispers, blue eyes gazing down at him softly. “I really, really do.”
When Tony walks into the art studio and sees the floor littered with paintings of different shapes and sizes, he whistles.
“Look at you go, Picasso.”
Steve turns to him, brush in hand, face lighting up like a Christmas tree. There’s a streak of blue paint across his cheek that Tony is tempted not to tell him about.
“Picasso?” The sunlight streaming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the studio illuminates the entire room. From the doorway, Steve’s blond hair gleams golden.
Tony winces as he steps into the room. “Sorry, did I miss the mark completely? Art’s always been more of Pepper’s thing.”
Steve grins, easy and bright. “I know.”
Over the years, Pepper and Steve have cultivated a monthly routine of sorts. They have a standing date—sans Tony—whenever Pepper comes over to visit. Bonding over Tony’s antics and the intricacies of fine art, they get along pretty well, much to Tony’s surprise and delight.
Tony tiptoes cautiously around the studio, taking extra care not to step on any of the paintings Steve has laid out to dry. When seen from up above, the wooden floor of the studio would probably look like some rendition of abstract art, the vibrant colors on the different paintings lying on it coming together to form another picture altogether.
He finally manages to make his way to where Steve is sitting, stationed in front of an easel carrying a piece of stretched canvas which has been painted with streaks of red and gold. He looks around and frowns at Steve. “There’s no place to sit. There’s barely any place to stand.”
Steve looks around to confirm Tony’s observation and laughs sheepishly. “Sorry, guess I got carried away.”
The art studio is always in some state of disarray and it drives Tony up the wall sometimes, if he were being honest.
“But there’s always a place for you to sit, sweetheart,” Steve croons, voice all soft and honey sweet. He curls an arm around Tony’s waist and draws him closer, fingers stained with dried paint of different colors resting on the small of his back. Steve nuzzles his stomach and plants a feather-light kiss on the spot just below his sternum. He looks up at Tony with a child-like grin. “Come sit on my lap?”
“Sap,” Tony remarks, but proceeds to sit down sideways on Steve’s lap, his legs perpendicular to Steve’s. Spotting the smears of colorful paint staining the floor and the painting supplies scattered all around the studio, Tony clucks his tongue in disapproval. “You know this is going to take forever to clean up, right?”
Steve’s grin widens and he starts trailing kisses along the column of Tony’s neck. “Maybe this was all part of an elaborate plan to get you to sit on my lap.”
“I highly doubt that.”
“Hm?” Tony’s eyes are glued to his armor as he circles it to inspect the damage from all angles, the suit looking slightly worse for wear. Nothing that a little tinkering and a new paint job won’t fix, but the real problem lies within. He had experienced a brief glitch with his right repulsor mid-battle and he is hoping that he will be able to pinpoint the source of the problem immediately after JARVIS finishes running diagnostics.
“Come here for a second?”
Tony walks to where Steve is lying down on the workshop couch, long legs stretched out comfortably along its length. He beckons Tony closer.
“Come here, I need to tell you something,” he whispers, like someone who is about to divulge a monumental secret.
Tony bends down obediently. Steve reaches up to cup Tony’s cheeks in his hands, leaning close until their noses are brushing against each other.
“You look really good in a tank top.”
The corner of Tony’s mouth jerks upward in an amused smile. “You just called me over to say that?”
“Well, no. I also wanted to do this.” Steve promptly hooks his arms and legs around Tony and pulls him down.
Letting out a surprised yelp, Tony lands on top of Steve’s body. Steve grins smugly before tilting his head to growl playfully in his ear. “Caught you. You’re trapped now. Good luck escaping.”
Tony tests Steve’s hold. Steve’s limbs tighten their hold in response. Hiding a smile in Steve’s chest even as he sighs, Tony says:
“Steven, darling, love of my life. As much as I’m enjoying this, I’m afraid that my broken armor isn’t going to fix itself.”
“Shhh,” Steve whispers into his hair, “you look tired. You deserve a break.”
“Okay, okay. And maybe, I just wanted to hold my husband for a moment. Can we stay like this for a while? Give me one minute.” Steve plants a kiss on the top of his head. “Please?”
“...Okay. One minute. Start the countdown.”
“Sixty, fifty-nine, fifty-eight…” Steve begins.
Tony allows himself the luxury of melting into Steve’s arms, relishing the way the solid warmth of Steve’s hold squeezes the tension out of his own muscles.
“Fifty, forty-nine, forty-eight…” Steve’s warm breath tickles Tony’s forehead as he continues to count down.
“Forty, thirty-nine, thirty-eight…” Eyes closed, Tony focuses on Steve’s voice and the steady rise and fall of his chest as he breathes.
They stay like that for a while, both of them calm and content, Steve’s hushed voice counting down the seconds the only sound in the room. Time passes by slowly and too quickly at the same time, and the next thing Tony knows, Steve has reached the final ten seconds.
“Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five…”
Then Steve turns quiet. Tony waits, but when Steve doesn’t continue the countdown, he looks up. His husband is already gazing at him, face looking deceitfully innocent.
“Hm?” Steve says distractedly as he caresses Tony’s right eyebrow with the pad of his thumb.
“You stopped counting.”
“Oh. Did I?” Steve asks, still maintaining his ridiculous charade. “Sorry, sweetheart. You know how forgetful I am.” His thumb migrates down to Tony’s bottom lip, as does the gaze of his blue eyes. “I am a centenarian, after all. My memory is just not what it used to be.”
Tony sighs fondly. “Continue the count, please.”
“Will do, sweetheart.” Steve smiles. “Thirty…”
“You stopped at five.”
“I did?” Steve’s smile widens, leaning forward to capture Tony’s lips in a kiss.
“I know what you’re doing,” Tony says against Steve’s lips.
When Steve leans back, his face is all confusion. His blue eyes, however, are teeming with mischief. “And what is it that I’m doing? I told you, sweetheart, I’m just a very forgetful person.”
Tony rolls his eyes before resting his head back on Steve’s chest.
“Let’s go, soldier.” He pats the side of Steve’s thigh. “Start with five.”
“Sir, yes, Sir. Five, four, three and a half, three…”
“Two and a half, two…”
Tony pokes him in the side.
“One and three-quarters…”
Giving up, Tony breaks into laughter. “Honey.”
“One and a half, one and a quarter, and…”
“Uno. Okay, good job, Captain. Let me go now.” Tony tries to wriggle his way out of Steve’s hold, but Steve’s limbs remain unyielding.
“Shhh. Zero,” Steve whispers. And then:
Laughing gleefully, Steve finally releases Tony. “Okay, okay. I’m letting go.”
Tony extricates himself from Steve’s hold. Steve glides his fingers along Tony’s arm as he does—determined to get his fill of physical contact until the very last second—and it ends with him catching Tony’s wrist just before Tony is about to stand.
His warm blue eyes hold Tony’s gaze as he brings said wrist to his mouth, pressing a lingering kiss to the pulse point. Something warm unfurls in Tony’s chest at the way Steve’s every movement screams of his reluctance to let Tony go.
“Meet me for dinner later?” Steve whispers against his skin.
“Of course, baby. Wouldn’t miss date night for anything,” Tony promises.
With that, Steve lets Tony’s wrist go with a sigh before throwing an arm over his own eyes.
“Now go. Before I change my mind.”
Tony leaves, snickering all the while at his husband’s dramatics.
“I need a hug. And a kiss. And I need you to tell me that you love me.”
It has taken years for Tony to be entirely comfortable with asking for affection in such a blatant way, but over time he has learned that doing so—actually communicating his needs and wants—has actually done wonders for their relationship. He desperately needs some loving at the moment—the end-result of a long day of all work, no play, and the worst of all: no Steve.
Plus, there is also the fact that Steve always turns all soft and happy without fail whenever Tony does ask for some affection.
Steve blinks and turns his head around from where he is crouched in front of the oven, waiting not-so-patiently for his mac and cheese to finish baking. At the sight of Tony sitting atop the kitchen counter, legs swinging lightly and eyes staring back at him expectantly, a slow smile blooms on his face. He stands up and makes his way to Tony.
Enveloping Tony in his arms, Steve presses his lips to Tony’s temple. Tony scoots forward and wraps his arms around Steve’s broad shoulders, locking his ankles around his husband’s waist like a koala on a tree.
Pulling back slightly to plant a kiss on the corner of Tony’s mouth, Steve cradles his jaw, thumb rubbing his cheek affectionately. “I love you, sweetheart. So much.”
Then he pulls Tony close again, gently placing Tony’s face back in the crook of his neck. Steve rests his head against Tony’s and sways their joined bodies together slightly from side to side, humming a slow love song that Tony knows he has been listening to repeatedly for the past week.
Tony inhales and lets Steve’s comforting scent fill his lungs, a mix of his coconut-scented body wash and the laundry detergent they share together. It smells a lot like home.
For the first time since he woke up in the morning, Tony’s day is finally looking up.
“This is nice,” Tony mumbles tiredly into Steve’s shoulder.
Steve hums sympathetically, gradually stopping their swaying. His hand comes up to massage the back of Tony’s neck. “Rough day?”
“Something like that.”
“You did a great job today.” Steve’s fingers are still pressing into his neck in slow, circular motions. “You worked very hard at the office. I love you.”
Lips brushing Steve’s neck as he speaks, he says, “You don’t know that. You weren’t there.”
“There are some things that I just know. For example, my husband worked hard today. My husband did an excellent job today.”
“Here’s another example. I didn’t see you at all today, but I knew, I just knew that my husband looked beautiful today.” Steve pulls back, cupping Tony’s cheeks and looking down at him. “And would you look at that,” Steve says, voice hushed with something akin to awe, “I was right after all.”
Tony squeezes his eyes shut. “You are so corny,” he says, in the hopes that his remark would distract Steve from his burning cheeks. Years of being married to Steve and the man can still make Tony blush like no other. He just doesn’t understand how Steve can make all these sappy declarations sound so sincere, so genuine. Like he’s just stating an indisputable truth.
“I am also so very right. You are beautiful.”
“Corny.” Tony keeps his eyes shut.
“Beautiful,” Steve whispers in his ear, warm breath tickling his skin. A fleeting kiss is planted on Tony’s cheek.
For a few seconds, nothing happens. Hesitantly, Tony opens his eyes. He is greeted by the sight of Steve bending down slightly to meet his eye level, hands planted on the counter on either side of Tony, eyes looking straight into his.
Steve’s smile turns lopsided when Tony meets his eyes.
“Hey there, beautiful.”
Tony punches Steve’s shoulder lightly in protest and buries his face in his hands.
“Jesus Christ, stop. I will hurt you.”
“Hm, feisty. I like it.”
“Please just go check on your food or something,” Tony mumbles miserably, voice muffled by his own hands. “It’s probably burning.”
Chuckling lightly, Steve finally lets him off the hook with a kiss to the top of his head. “Love you, sweetheart. Go shower, dinner will be ready in a minute.”
Tony hops off the counter and makes a hasty escape, lest Steve continue torturing him with more saccharine words that make him want to melt into the floor in embarrassment.
His husband can be so ridiculous sometimes.
(He wouldn’t change it for the world.)