“Honey, it happened!” Tony's face morphed into a pained expression as he pulled his phone away from him and cradled his newly pained ear.
“Steve, calm down. What happened?”
Tony stopped moving. He could feel his heartbeat drumming in his ears. Did he miss Peter crawl for the first time? How was that even possible? He was always with Peter. Always. Even when he wasn't physically in the same room as him, Tony could see Peter 24/7 using the nanny cam on the desk in his office. This wasn't possible. No. Tony had gotten up to get a report from Pepper three minutes ago. This made no sense.
“I missed it?” Steve must have been too excited to hear the sudden melancholy that had seeped into his voice.
“It was amazing! He was bouncing in the ExerSaucer, but he started looking tired so I took him out and laid him on the jungle gym, and last I saw before I went to grab a water from the fridge, he just being transfixed by the plastic hanging monkey. I wasn’t even gone twenty seconds, Tony. Twenty seconds! When I came back, Peter was pushing against his little arms trying to get to where I was standing before. He was trying to follow me.”
Tony could distinctively hear Steve turning and talking to Peter in the background. “That’s umm,” he coughed, trying to clear his throat. “that’s amazing.”
“I’m so proud of him, Tony,” Steve’s voice was filled with so much unadulterated pride as he continued to say some more things to Peter. Tony tore his gaze to the baby monitor on his desk where he could Steve balancing his cell phone in between his shoulders while he gently bounced Peter on his leg. Peter smiled largely and suddenly his adorable little laugh flooded through the phone.
“I think I’m gonna come home during my lunch hour. Okay?” Steve’s attention was so focused on Peter that he couldn’t hear the desperation that was laced in Tony’s words.
“Okay, hun, we’ll see you soon. Say goodbye to Daddy,” Steve said to Peter. Peter just continued laughing as Steve hung up the phone.
Tony stared at the paperwork in front of him, no longer sure what he originally had planned for all of it. When his lunch hour started, Tony dashed out of his office and rushed into his car, frantically telling Happy to ‘step-on-it’.
When they pulled up to the tower, Tony ran out of the car and didn’t stop until he was on the elevator, moving upward. Closer to Peter.
“Hi, baby boy,” Tony called out as soon as he saw the little tyke. Scooping Peter up in his arms, the toddler's face broke out into a huge smile. “Papa told me you crawled today! Did you crawl? Did you crawl?”
Tony turned around when he heard Steve’s muffled laugh behind him. “And to think, I thought you raced over here to see me.”
“Well, you are as cute as a button,” Tony placed a kiss on the tip of Steves' nose, “but I’m afraid this little skirt warranted my visit.”
“Ya know, I never understood that phrase. Do you find buttons cute? Because I find them-” Peter started fidgeting in Tony’s arms, upset that he wasn’t the focus of their attention.
“Aw, I’m sorry, Pete. How about you show Daddy what you learned today? Hm?” Tony bent down and placed Peter on the carpet. The babe only looked at the ground before raising his hands, wanting to be picked up once more.
“I don’t think he wants to show you.”
Sighing deeply, Tony went to pick up Peter, once the curly haired boy started crying. “It’s okay, you’ll show me later.”
Tony stayed home for the rest of the day, watching and waiting. Not wanting to miss seeing Peter crawl again.
Steve knew something was wrong.
Every once in a while, he would look over at his husband and see a faraway look in his eyes. His beautiful chocolate brown orbs muddled by a foggy sea of grey clouds.
“Are you alright?” He asked after the pair had finished eating dinner. Peter was in Steve’s lap, drinking the bottle he just made him.
“I’m fine,” Tony waved his hand dismissively.
“I said I’m fine, Steve,” The brunette voice had an underlining edge to it that he wasn’t expecting. Tony looked at Peter before walking out of the room and Steve heard the faint click of their bedroom doors closing.
Looking down, Peter remained transfixed on his bottle, leaving Steve alone with his thoughts.
Yawning loudly, Steve finished brushing his teeth and was about to collapse on his bed when he noticed that a certain genius philanthropist was significantly absent. Forcing his feet to move, he trudged out into the hallway where he saw a light casting under the doorway of Peter’s room.
Slowly opening the door, he saw Tony on the ground, with his arms securely wrapped around his bent legs which were tucked against his chest.
“Tony,” he asked tentatively, “Are you alright?”
“I missed it, Steve.” He listened as Tony started sniffling, “I missed it.”
Steve bent down and wrapped his large arms around Tony’s front. Pressing x amount of kisses all over the sides of his head, wishing he could take away his husband's sadness. “Tony,” he said, turning his face so he could kiss the falling tear, running down the brunettes cheek. “He’ll do it again.”
“But what if I’m not there to see it?”
“That’s just a bunch of ‘what ifs’,” Steve said simply. “We could spend the rest of our lives dwelling on the past, wondering how we could have changed outcomes by doing things differently. Do you know how many times I wondered what would have happened if I listened to Bucky and stopped trying to enlist in the army? How many times I wondered, what if I had stretched my arm a little further, saying Bucky from falling off that train. Or how many times I wondered what if I had never come out of the ice? What if I was still down there? What would the world be like today?” Tony shook his head. “I try to stop myself from wondering ‘what if’. Because everything that I’ve done, everything that has happened, brought me here. To you. And to him.”
The two looked at Peter sleeping soundly in his crib in front of them.
“Don’t worry about the ‘what if’s’, because Peter will crawl again. And so what if you miss it the next time? There still is the time after that, and the time after that, and the time after that.”
It took two weeks, four days, three hours, and twenty-seven minutes, but Tony finally got to see his son crawl.