Steve Rogers had a weird roommate. He stayed up late, was always working, didn't seem to have many friends, consumed coffee as if it was the only thing keeping him alive (Steve suspected it was), and was generally just an absolute riddle Steve didn't have the time or interest to solve.
He was a funny guy, caring and sweet, but he could just be so weird at times. (Plus, he stole Steve's sweaters. The only reason he didn't steal them back was because he looked really darn cute, especially with his glasses on, so sue him.)
Generally, Steve wasn't too annoyed by him. Tony hardly ever looked up from his work long enough to hold any kind of conversation, although on the rare occasion that he did, he was an easy guy to talk to. Steve liked him well enough, even though he never really made any attempt to reach out. This changed, however, when Steve woke up one night (or morning, depending on how you look at it) to the sound of something clattering to the ground. Blearily, he sat up, rubbing at his eyes.
"Tony?" He murmured into the softly-lit room, blinking at the hunched-over figure of his roommate in his desk chair. Tony didn't reply. Instead, he promptly dropped sideways out of his chair. "Shit," Steve cursed as he scrambled out of his bed, rushing over to the curled-up figure on the floor. Tony was shaking, muttering things in Italian under his breath. His glasses were on the floor a small distance away from him, and Steve realized absentmindedly that that must've been the sound that had woken him up.
"Tony," Steve called softly, tentatively reaching out to touch his roommates' shoulder. "Tony, can you hear me?"
Tony flinched at the contact, curling into himself even further, clutching his hair painfully.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he whispered frantically. "Per favore, non farmi del male, I'm sorry!"
Steve bit his lip, his hand's hovering uncertainly over Tony's slim and shaking form. He considered calling for help, but he realized it wouldn't do any good. Tony had some trust issues, Steve knew that. If he was scared by Steve's touch, who he'd known for a while now, he would be absolutely terrified at a stranger's hand on him.
"O-okay, Tony," Steve tried again, keeping his tone as calm as he could and trying to look like he had control of the situation (which he didn't, by the way). "Just-just focus on me, okay? Just focus on my voice. I'm Steve, your roommate, remember? It's about 4 AM on a Tuesday, you're in our room at school. I think you were working just now on one of your projects. You're safe here, it's just us two. You gotta breathe, though. Can you follow mine? Just in, and out. In, and out. That's right! That's really good! You're doing amazing, Tony." Steve kept praising him, encouraging him to follow his own breathing. After a few minutes, Tony's breathing had slowed, and he'd somehow ended up in Steve's arms, his head resting over Steve's heart.
"Hey, Tony," Steve said softly, stroking the boy's hair back with a fondness he didn't know he had. "You back?" Tony nodded, his hand still clutching Steve's sleep shirt, not seeming very willing to let go. Steve reached for his glasses, putting them beside the young boy for him to pick them up, remembering when Tony had told him about his little issue. Tony put the glasses back on his nose but didn't react further.
"Tony, do you have these often?" Steve asked, needing to know. Tony, still a bit out of it, simply nodded again, his hand playing absently with the fabric of Steve's shirt.
Steve was a bit shocked by this. Of course, in the few weeks he'd known the boy, he'd seen the emotional baggage wearing him down, the need for his father's approval weighing heavily on his shoulders. Tony hadn't told Steve any of those things, but he started muttering to himself when he was tired and deep in his work, and he sometimes muttered some things in his sleep. It wasn't hard for Steve to connect the dots.
"Tony, why didn't you tell me?" Steve regretted asking as soon as the words left his mouth. Of course, Tony didn't tell him. Steve didn't tell Tony much, either, and it wasn't like he'd actually taken the time to get to know him. But Tony just shrugged, his fingers still playing idly with Steve's shirt.
"You didn't ask."
"No, I didn't. I'm sorry I never reached out," Steve apologized sincerely. Tony muttered a little "'s okay" before yawning widely, leaning further into Steve (although Steve wasn't sure if Tony was even aware of anything right now, and if he knew he was practically in Steve's lap).
"Tony, did you sleep at all last night?" Steve asked, frowning. Tony snorted.
"Didn't sleep for at least three days," he said carelessly, his speech a bit slurred and caught off at the end as he yawned again.
"Three days?!" Steve exclaimed, loud enough to make Tony jump a little in his arms. "Sorry. But three days, Tony? Are you serious?"
"'s not a record, or anything," Tony shrugged, yawning and turning his face into Steve's shirt. "'ve had longer." Steve sighed.
"Tony, that's not healthy," he told him softly. "You gotta start taking care of yourself, kiddo. Your health matters too, you know? You matter." Tony's grip tightened on Steve's shirt, letting out a little sniff, and Steve was afraid he was going to cry.
"I love you," Tony whispered. Suddenly, he shot up, scrambling away from Steve and suddenly looking a lot more awake. "Wait, did I say that out loud? Oh, shit. Shit, no, no, no. Did I say love? I didn't- uh, I meant as a-a f-friend. Yes, as a friend. Not-not anything romantic, or anything. That would be crazy!" He chuckled a little manically, his hands running through his messy hair as he spoke, avoiding Steve's eyes at all costs. Steve, who was recovering from his initial shock over the words, grinned at his antics, getting up off the floor. "... And I mean, you wouldn't want me, I'm a whole bunch of shit you don't want to deal with, trust me. I mean, I never stop working, I'm pretty sure I have a caffeine addiction, I have major daddy issues, I just had a panic attack- oh, god. That too. I just had a panic attack, and- and you saw that, and, oh shit. That's- that's bad. I'm sorry, I don't-"
Steve cut him off before the boy could work himself into another attack doing the first thing that came to mind. He kissed him.
Tony shut up immediately, his tense body melting completely. His knees suddenly turned weak, but Steve put his strong arms around his waist and pulled him closer to keep him upright. When they broke apart, Tony looked like he'd totally shut down. His hands were still on Steve's chest, and he blinked at him stupidly (adorably) from behind his glasses.
"Oh, oh. Did I break you?" Steve said, grinning. Tony spluttered loose syllables, unable to form cohesive words. Steve chuckled, stroking the boy's curls from his forehead gently. "Look, I don't know if I love you, per se. I just know that I really like you, and if you're open for it, I'd like to try this out," he said, gesturing between the two of them. Tony let out a high-pitched sound, and Steve laughed, pulling him closer for a hug. "I'd be happy to talk about this more with you, see where we're going to take this. Because we don't actually know each other too well, and I feel really bad about that. Only, not when it's four in the morning, if that's at all possible."
Steve looked at the clock, mind running to choose the best course of action.
"How about this," he started, pulling Tony away from him slightly to look him in the eye, keeping his hands on the boy's shoulders. "I'll call us in sick for tomorrow, because you really need the rest and I didn't finish the paper I need to hand in tomorrow." That at least got a little giggle out of the dazed genius, and Steve fell in love a little bit more. "We'll talk about this -about us- in the morning, when we've both had a good night's rest, okay?"
Tony nodded, unable to stop another yawn from escaping. He looked a little unsteady on his feet but Steve didn't remove his gentle hands from the kid's shoulder, leading him over to his bed. He got back to his own, giving Tony some privacy to get changed.
Steve was already nodding off again when he heard Tony shuffle beside his bed. He turned towards him, looking at him questioningly. Tony, now dressed in sweatpants and a loose shirt and sadly without his glasses, shuffled awkwardly with his feet.
"I don't- uh, I mean... I can't really-" he bit his lip as he searched for what to say. Steve waited patiently for the kid to find his words. Tony gestured in the air vaguely, something he did very often that Steve found to be quite adorable. "Screw this. I can't sleep alone, especially after a panic attack. So can I-" Tony's sudden-found courage dropped again, and he paled, backtracking quickly. "You know what? Never mind," he chuckled awkwardly. "It's fine, I'm just whining. I can just-" He gestured back towards his bed, attempting to run off again, but Steve grabbed his wrist gently, smiling at him softly.
"Bed's big enough for two," he stated simply. "Besides, I've been a little cold recently..." that was a lie, Steve was basically a heater in human form, but he decided that if he switched the roles and had Tony think he was helping him out, maybe he would feel a little better about it. Thankfully, it seemed to work, as Tony practically lit up.
"Oh, well, I can help you with that," he beamed. Steve quickly held up the covers and allowed Tony to climb in. Tony quickly clung to him like a koala, a clear sign that he was most definitely sleep-deprived as he avoided physical contact when he was in the right state of mind. Steve chuckled at his antics and held him gently, reveling in the way Tony seemed to just fit. "This better?" Tony mumbled into Steve's chest, followed by another yawn. Steve stroked Tony's brown curls.
"Yeah, much better. Thanks," he replied softly.
"'s no pr'blem," Tony muttered, already falling asleep fast. Steve couldn't resist dropping a kiss on Tony's fluffy hair before he settled comfortably, allowing himself to drift off. They'd work everything out later. First, they both deserved some sleep.