"Shit," Tony muttered, dropping his tools and snatching the dirty cloth from his worktable, pressing it over his bleeding forearm.
"Sir, this is approximately the third time this has happened," JARVIS spoke up, sounding slightly reprimanding. Tony sighed, rubbing a hand down his face in exhaustion.
"Yeah, I should- I should probably get some sleep," he muttered. "Yeah, I'm gonna do that. J, save my work, please."
Tony yawned into his arm, dragging his feet towards the elevator. He snatched a first aid kit as he passed, pulling out a bandage and wrapping it around yet another bleeding cut as the elevator rode up. Once he came up to his own floor, he didn't bother changing as he slipped under the covers, a content sigh escaping his lips. He thought back to what he'd been able to finish the last few days (because he was sure it was more than one if he was this tired), and what projects he would still have to work on. He started making blueprints in his head, jumping from one project to the other.
And suddenly, the barest hint of sunlight was creeping into his room. Tony blinked blearily at the window and the light slowly seeping in. He frowned. It had only been 10 PM yesterday when he'd gone to bed. How come the sun was up already? Tony sat up in bed, rubbing at his eyes. He hadn't slept. He'd actually gone to bed once, and he hadn't even managed to fall asleep. For once, it wasn't the nightmares keeping him up, but simply his ever-racing mind.
Deciding there was no use in trying to fall asleep now, he climbed out of bed, pulling on some sweatpants and a sweatshirt he'd definitely stolen from someone else as his hands disappeared inside the sleeves. He stumbled out of his room, yawning as he stood in the elevator, leaning against the wall. JARVIS greeted him but Tony only managed to mumble something incoherently in response.
Stumbling a little, Tony stepped out of the elevator, making a beeline for the coffee pot he could find while blindfolded. Blessedly, there was already a steaming cup of coffee on the counter, and Tony took it greedily, not even thinking about how the cup had gotten there in the first place. He walked over to the couch, draining his cup in no time. Deciding he was way too tired to stand up, he leaned against the armrest, leaning his head on his hands. If he could just rest his eyes for a second...
Steve walked into the kitchen fully dressed and ready to go on his morning run. When he got there, however, he noticed his coffee was absent. He wasn't a big coffee drinker, but he always took one cup in the morning, just to wake himself up a bit more before heading out. He frowned at the empty spot on the counter, wandering into the living room to see if he'd maybe just misplaced it. What he saw made him stop in his tracks.
His cup was on the table, empty. On the couch was a very rumpled Tony Stark who was seemingly half asleep, his head lolling on his supporting hand. Slowly, his head fell forward before it slipped from his hand and Tony awoke with a start, looking at his hand in confusion.
"Tony?" Steve called, gaining the other man's attention. Tony turned to look at him, and once again, Steve froze. Tony looked horrible. He had dark circles under his bloodshot eyes, his eyelids drooping in exhaustion. He'd lost his usual tanned color, his skin pale. The genius looked especially small in the big sweater he was wearing- oh, so that's where Steve's clothes were disappearing off to.
"'ey, Steve," Tony yawned, leaning his head back on his hand.
"Tony, have you slept at all this week? You look horrible," Steve asked, concern eating at him as he walked forward to crouch in front of the billionaire. The fact that Tony didn't even crack a joke or sarcastic comment had Steve's concern multiply tenfold. "Tony?" He repeated gently, watching Tony startle awake again.
"Huh?" Tony blinked at him, struggling to keep his eyes open. Steve put a gentle hand on the man's knee, absently rubbing soothing circles with his thumb.
"Hey, how about you get to bed, huh?" Steve suggested softly, but Tony shook his head, yawning widely.
"Can't sleep," he said, closing his eyes again and leaning back on his hand. His other hand gestured vaguely towards his head. "Mind won't stop."
"Nightmares?" He asked, surprised when Tony shook his head again.
"No, not this time," he muttered, sighing as he ran a hand tiredly down his face. "It's just... my brain. It won't shut the hell up for once. I actually went to bed last night and I didn't get a wink of sleep, just because this thing-" he knocked his hand against his head, "doesn't have an off-button."
Steve stayed silent. He'd never thought of it like that, how there must be downsides to being a genius with ever-flowing ideas. He squeezed Tony's knee in sympathy, not knowing what to say to make him feel better. Then he perked up, smiling softly as he stood up to sit beside the tired genius, close enough to touch, knowing Tony might need something grounding.
"How about I tell you a story," Steve offered. Tony blinked one eye open to look at him incredulously.
"... A story," he repeated, sounding skeptic. "You know what, go for it. It's not like it can get much worse than this." He waved his hand lazily before dropping it like dead weight in his lap.
"Okay," Steve said. "But you'll have to sit a bit differently-" He pulled the engineer close, forcing him to lean into Steve's side. Tony spluttered.
"Hey, what are you doing?" He exclaimed, trying to push himself out of Steve's grip. But Steve held him closer effortlessly, readjusting them both. "Steve, get off. What are you- oh, this is actually quite nice," he said suddenly, melting comfortably into Steve's side, his head on the blonde's chest. Steve chuckled softly and Tony reveled in the way it vibrated in the man's chest. "Okay, tell your story, old man," he muttered, already dead weight in his teammate's side.
"Okay, well." Steve cleared his throat. "Once upon a time, there was a young boy, who wanted nothing more than to fight like all the other men in the city-"
Steve wasn't even halfway through before he noticed Tony's breaths had evened out, and he'd finally succumbed to sleep as his mind quietened. Steve smiled softly as he leaned back, holding Tony close. The sun had begun to light up the room with a soft glow, the warmth seeping in with it. Steve closed his eyes contently. He could do one morning without his run. This was good, too.