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grab on and never let go

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Running is a practice sent to Earth by the devil him-fucking-self, and Tony loathes it with every last cell in his body.

Tony gets running for necessity. He runs for his life all the time, or what seems like it. If a bad guy is chasing you down, or if something explodes in your vicinity, you’re going to run – it’s human nature. And Tony gets it.

What Tony doesn’t get is running for sport. For pleasure. For, God forbid, fun.

Anyone who would willingly force themselves to run is somebody that has to go, preferably to the deepest and darkest depths of hell where they will then be forced to run to their exercise-loving heart’s content.

There was a time when Tony swore to himself that he would never date anybody who enjoyed running when it wasn’t explicitly required of them. And look at him now – he’s dating Steve fucking Rogers, runner extraordinaire.

Steve, as much as Tony loves the shit out of him, obviously has a ton of faults, one of them being that he runs.

Tony can’t even think it without shuddering in disgust.

It’s ridiculous, his hatred for running, and Tony stands by that. Then again, it’s not like he has a huge problem with running, not like he normally would – all his brain has to do is remind him that it’s, well, Steve doing the running, and Tony doesn’t have a comeback for that.

To be honest, Tony doesn’t have that much of a problem with running at all. Sure, it goes against practically everything he stands for, and, sure, he’d never do it himself, but, when it comes to Steve, at least, he doesn’t mind. Steve puts such care into maintaining his body, that much is obvious to Tony, it was at the beginning of their relationship, and Steve needs the rush of endorphins that running provides him with. Tony guesses that Steve also finds running relaxing; Tony doesn’t get that last reason, because in what world anyone would find exercise even mildly relaxing, Tony doesn’t know.

He's lazy, sue him.

A big plus is the fact that Steve always comes back sweating, and Tony can admit that it’s the sexiest thing he’s ever seen – and he’s seen a lot of things.

The point about all of this is - well, Tony doesn’t have a point. All he knows is that it’s way too early for him to be alive and Steve is going on one of his stupid as all fuck morning runs, and it is now Tony’s mission to do whatever it takes to keep Steve in bed. The fact that Tony really is tired and just wants to sleep which is making him exponentially more clingy than he usually is should be embarrassing, but Tony can’t find it within himself to care.

Besides, if a few whines and pouts are needed to get Steve to stay, then Tony doesn’t have a problem with it.

The bathroom door opens and closes again and Tony forces his eyes to open. Its opening and closing the first time is exactly why Tony is awake at whatever God-awful time Steve goes on his runs (which is at 5 in the morning every morning; Tony has actually run a bunch of experiments – keeping Steve up late or not letting him sleep at all – and Steve goes out of the Tower at 5 every day without fail, and if Tony is being honest he admires him for that because that’s dedication right there. Briefly, Tony considers tying Steve down while he sleeps so he can’t ever get up, because it's also kind of ridiculous, but. Tony is pretty sure that Steve would just break the rope, so.)

Tony’s vision is blurry, but he can just barely make out Steve in the darkness – and holy shit, the sun isn’t even up yet. Keeping his eyes from sliding shut is an obstacle that Tony did not consider when he decided to wake up and attempt to stop Steve from leaving. He’s already just starting and the mission is practically in shambles.

Apparently, he made a sound that was most likely supposed to represent his overall unhappiness with the situation because Steve, dressed in a tight T-shirt and running shorts, is leaning over him and pressing a kiss to his forehead.

“Sorry,” he whispers. “Didn’t mean to wake you up.”

After another kiss to his forehead, Steve pulls back, taking his warmth with him, and Tony doesn’t bother to hold back a whine like he normally would. He forces his eyes open again, not even sure when they closed, and sees Steve standing in front of him. He lifts an arm and reaches for Steve, who he sees hesitate as if he’s debating something.

In the end, Steve moves closer again, wrapping his arms around Tony for a warm hug. Tony lets out a hum, and he really needs to get better at controlling himself and his reactions when he’s tired because he doesn’t want to come off as needy, of all the things in the world to be.

Still. It’s too early, and Tony wants to sleep and wants Steve to stay, so. No one can blame him if he gets a little bratty about it, can they? And no one can blame him if he, using Steve’s relaxed state, tugs Steve down onto the bed to keep him there, preferably for the rest of the day.

Tony didn’t think it through, now that he’s actually thinking about it, because Steve, thoroughly caught off guard, lands heavily on top of him, which causes him to let out a soft, “Oof,” as the air is pressed out of his lungs. Jesus Steve is much heavier than Tony, they both know that, but Tony didn’t consider how most of that would come from sheer muscle. Steve is ripped, and Tony can’t believe he both forgot about the man’s muscle mass and failed to account for the fact that all of that weight would be on him.

Steve, like the wonderfully considerate gentleman that he is, immediately tries to get off of Tony, and Tony appreciates that, he does, but Steve getting off of him to not crush him also means that Steve is going to leave and Tony can’t have that. So, really, there’s nothing else for him to do but wrap his arms around Steve and cling to him like a koala latches onto their mother. At least, Tony thinks that’s the right animal. To be completely honest, Tony’s brain is only running at about fifty percent of his total possible brainpower, and he’s so out of it that he can’t bring himself to think about it and find the right animal for the metaphor he’s trying to push across in his head.

Anyway.

It’s a win for Tony, as Steve is warm and soft, and he buries his face into Steve’s neck, letting out a soft sigh. Steve, in a show of strength that Tony would be more turned on by if he was more awake, doesn’t make a sound or break a sweat as he stands up and puts his hands on Tony’s back.

Tony makes a happy humming sound in the back of his throat, and he’s seriously considering staying here, like this, and never leaving. His legs are wrapped around Steve’s back and his arms hang over Steve’s broad shoulders and Tony could work like this, just direct Jarvis to do things for him, or he could look over Steve’s shoulder and work like that. This position is the greatest position Tony has ever been in, and it’s not even mildly sexual. Well. It could be, Tony guesses, if one tried hard enough.

Ha. Hard. Sex. Dicks get hard during sex. Get it?

Tony is a comedic genius.

“Stop complimenting yourself in your head,” Steve says, his voice fond in Tony’s ear.

Tony, aghast, replies, “‘M not,” even though he was most definitely doing just that.

A huff of laughter leaves Steve. “Sure you’re not.” He starts attempting to remove Tony from his body, but Tony just squeezes harder and refuses to let go with a shake of his head. “Tony,” Steve warns. “I have to go on my run now. I’ll be back.”

And Tony knows that, he swears he does, but he gets a little unreasonable and irrational and overly emotional when he’s awake at ungodly hours in the morning, so it’s not his fault that all he does is squeeze harder, shaking his head again, and say, “No,” the pout on his lips audible in his voice. If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s Steve’s, because Steve is just so - Steve. He’s just Steve, and he’s a warm and soft and very lovable Steve, and Tony cannot be held responsible for anything he does while in his company.

“Sweetheart,” Steve begins, and Tony purrs at the rush of warmth that goes rocketing through him, “c’mon, it’s time to let go.”

“No,” Tony stubbornly repeats. “No, I’m not letting you go. I refuse. You can’t make me.”

God, Tony sounds like such a child, but all he wants right now is for Steve to stay and he doesn’t know how to tell him that.

(He could just man up and say it, but - no. That would require Tony to provide reasons and explanations for his behavior, most of which are so disgustingly emotional, and Tony feels like he would rather drop fucking dead than do that.)

When Steve starts back up his attempts to dislodge him, Tony doesn’t worry all that much – Steve never actually uses the full extent of his strength because he doesn’t want to hurt Tony, which means that the likelihood of Tony getting off of him is extremely low.

Tony yelps when Steve pinches his side. It was a relatively soft pinch, one that Tony barely even felt, but still. It’s the principle. “Hey!”

“Let go, Tony.”

“Not a chance in hell,” he says, pulling back to glare at Steve. “It’s too early for anyone to even consider being awake, and you need to come back to bed.”

“I’ll come back to bed after you let go of me and after I go out to run for an hour or two.”

“But Steve,” Tony whines, drawing out Steve’s name an unnecessarily long amount of time and feeling slightly embarrassed by the way Steve rolls his eyes.

He half expects Steve to mock him, but Steve doesn’t do that because Steve is respectful and nice and not one to act like a literal four-year-old. Instead, Steve calmly replies, “Tony,” and that just serves to make Tony even more determined to never let go.

Tony lets out a growl of frustration, because he doesn’t know how to get Steve to get back into bed, and resists the urge to kick his feet or wiggle his body or bite Steve’s shoulder – all of that goes way past the line of childish, and Tony has his limits, however out there they may be.

“Tony, I’m just going to run for an hour, and then I’ll come back and stay in the bed with you for as long as you want.”

Tony, admittedly, is tempted. Just a bit, but tempted nonetheless. But, no. He wants to stay with Steve now and not have to let go, and Tony doesn’t know when he got this clingy and attached, but, fuck it – it happened, and Tony is going to embrace it to the fullest extent.

Tony is a clingy bastard, but he’s accepted that about himself now and decides not to dwell on it any longer and hug the shit out of Steve instead.

So, he ends up not responding, laying his head down on Steve’s shoulder while he waits for Steve to relent and climb back into bed and hold him for a few more hours.

Steve lets out a sigh that sounds suspiciously like a huff of annoyance – Tony quickly pushes away thoughts that Steve is annoyed with him; he’s had too many people tell him that, and he’d hate to think that it’s true and he really is hyper-emotional and so desperate for love and affection that he ends up smothering people – and shakes his head.

“Fine. Guess you’re coming with me.”

“Wha–” Tony squawks. “Like, on a run with you? In public?"

“Yep,” Steve says, already turning around and making his way out of the bedroom and towards the elevator. “You know, since you won’t let go of me.”

Tony debates his options, as thoroughly as he can manage, and quickly concludes that Steve is bluffing. He has to be. There’s no way that Steve would be willing to subject himself to the ridicule and loss of dignity that would come with running around with Tony hanging from his front. There is no way, Tony is sure of that, and yet Steve is getting closer and closer to the elevator and is showing no signs of slowing down and Tony is definitely not freaking out right now, not even a little bit.

Okay, fine – Tony is most definitely freaking the fuck out because Steve isn’t stopping and he can’t possibly be serious about going on a run, in public, no less, with Tony hanging off his front, can he?

Yes, he can.

Tony doesn’t know why he ever doubted that Steve would go through with it – Steve never says anything he isn’t willing to do; something about honesty and following through with threats – but he did, and now he has to think about what’s more important to him: staying with Steve or preserving his manly reputation.

The fact that he doesn’t even hesitate speaks more about him than anything he has ever said.

Tony pouts again as he continues to hang off of Steve. There’s a small bounce in Steve’s steps – because of course he’s excited to subject Tony to this – but Tony ignores that. Steve runs freakishly fast – Tony knows that because he may or may not have secretly followed Steve out one day and he saw a blur and that was that – so Tony is most likely going to be bouncing around the whole time, which means he might as well revel in the comfort Steve’s steps are providing him.

They’re in the elevator now, and Tony is drifting further away than he’d like, but he really can’t help it – Steve is just so comfortable and Tony is still extremely tired (he knew he should have gone to sleep earlier than he did). Tony figures he might as well get as much sleep in as he can, so he closes his eyes and relies on Steve to carry him. Steve isn’t going to drop him, Tony isn’t worried about that, he knows that Steve will never, ever, let him go, so Tony, mostly against his will but not really, ends up falling asleep.

~

Tony wakes up on the couch on the communal floor sometime later.

Blinking groggily, Tony pushes himself up and turns his neck from side to side to relieve the tension. Fucking Steve, leaving him on the couch.

“What’s the time, J?” Tony asks.

“It is five thirty-eight in the morning, sir.”

Tony is really fucking glad that no one is around to hear him curse Steve and mornings and runs in rather colorful language.

“Good morning to you too, Tony.”

Ah. He spoke too soon.

Tony looks up to see Natasha staring down at him. To anyone else, she’d probably look deadpan and emotionless, but Tony has grown close enough to Natasha to see the way the right corner of her mouth is slightly tilted up and the way her shoulders have lost their usual tense edge to know that she’s amused.

“Steve hasn’t come back yet?” he asks her, sinking back down into the couch when she shakes her head.

Tony should probably go back to sleep, as he knows it’s most likely what Steve expects him to do, but he feels like being petty and staying up just to throw off Steve’s expectations and spite him. Because, seriously. Leaving him on the couch, of all places in the Tower. Tony would’ve rather been put back in his very comfortable bed on the penthouse. Which isn’t to say that the couch isn’t comfortable, because it is – Tony bought it for his friends, after all, after it was decided that they would all be living in the Tower with him; sue him if he wanted them to be comfortable if they wanted to lounge around – but still, like always: it’s the principle

That doesn’t matter right now. What matters is the fact that Tony is going to hole himself away in his lab for the next twelve hours and not come out until it’s time for dinner with the rest of the team. It’s not all just about Steve, though – Tony has a ton of stuff to work on for SI, things he’s been slacking on and things that he really should get started on doing.

“He wanted me to make sure you didn’t try to sneak away to your lab. Something about him wanting to fall back asleep with you when he got back.”

The second sentence goes unheard by Tony, who’s too caught up in his thoughts.

Most of the time, Tony loves the fact that Steve knows so much about him, but sometimes it gets on his nerves.

He lets out a huff and closes his eyes, almost complying with the unspoken order from Natasha to stay on the couch that was clear as day in her voice. But then he realizes that Steve is not the boss of him and that Steve can’t stop him from doing anything.

Opening his eyes and swinging his legs off of the couch, Tony starts to stand up so he can make his way to his lab and get started on some project – he has a lot of them that he hasn’t been working on, and he’s starting to fall behind on his workload – but before he can move any further, Natasha is standing in front of him.

The woman moves like both a cheetah and a gazelle at the same time, and it’s scary.

“Just go back to sleep, Tony.”

“I don’t want to go back to sleep,” he replies, a little irritated.

Maybe he would’ve wanted to go back to sleep had Steve not tried to leave and then carried Tony down here, but the fact of the matter is that Tony is tired but he’s not going to give Steve – or Natasha, for that matter – the satisfaction of knowing everything he’s about to or wants to do.

Natasha eyes him for a moment, and then her eyes turn back to amusement laced with a bit of smugness, too.

“If you don’t lay back down, I’ll have Thor come and sit on you.”

Tony considers the threat. Natasha, unlike Steve, is a bluffer – it’s probably a requirement of her job and a big part of her skill set – but that doesn’t mean that Tony can tell her bluffs apart from things she’ll actually do. He ends up grumbling underneath his breath as he gives in, but only because Thor is one heavy guy, and Tony doesn’t want to risk all of that weight on his chest.

Natasha sees the moment Tony sinks back into the couch and smirks, knowing she’s had her victory. She sits down next to Tony, bringing her legs up to sit criss-cross. Tony has half a mind to tell her to keep her feet off his couch, but then she’d do something scary like - Tony doesn’t know, stab him with one of those knives she can pull out at a moment’s notice, and Tony doesn’t want to risk that, either.

Letting out a long-suffering sigh, Tony lets his head roll to the side to look at her as she sits there with a care-free expression and, funnily enough, one of those knives of hers resting in one of her hands.

(She’s only cleaning her fingernails, but it’s still mildly terrifying.)

Tony sighs again. “Wanna play Mario Kart?”

Natasha shoots him a glance and follows it up with a sharp grin. “And kick your ass? Gladly.”

~

At some point, fifteen or so minutes before Steve comes back from his run, Tony goes back to his bed with the full intent of sleeping for a week. Mainly because he’s very much procrastinating, which is going to annoy Pepper, but also because he kept losing to Natasha so bad that his pride has taken a huge hit and he needs time to recover from that. He decides to go back to sleep just so he can have a viable excuse to tell Pepper when she asks why he didn’t get anything done today – catching up on all the sleep he’s missed this week alone is important – and, not surprisingly, he ends up falling asleep within five minutes of him laying down.

Seriously, at this rate, one would end up thinking that Tony never sleeps. Which. He doesn’t. But that’s not the point. God.

Regardless of Tony’s sleeping habits, he goes back to sleep and wakes up to Steve sliding into bed next to him.

His eyes don't open and he's already shoving himself against Steve's side, contently sighing when Steve turns on his side and pulls him closer, making it so their chests are pressed against each other's and Steve's face is buried in Tony's neck. There's just something comforting about being pressed up against Steve, and Tony can say he does it for warmth all he wants – the fact of the matter is that Tony likes it, and that's all there is to say. Or not say. Honestly, Tony lost track of all the things he can or cannot admit to a long time ago and he doesn't feel rested enough to even attempt to remember what those things are.

God, Tony just - really fucking loves Steve, and it's making him choke up to even think about how large that love is. About how much of that love Tony feels pouring out of him on a daily basis.

Even though he knows that Steve loves him too, Tony can't help but doubt it. He's Tony, someone who's done so many bad things in his life that he doesn't deserve to be shown any semblance of love, especially not from someone as good as Steve fucking Rogers, aka Captain America, aka the literal main focus of most of Tony's teenage fantasies. Sometimes, Tony finds himself thinking that Steve and the universe are playing one big prank on him, however stupid and silly that idea might be.

Steve hums, his breath ghosting over Tony's neck and causing him to shiver. "Stop questioning my feelings for you."

Tony pulls back, his eyes half-lidded but somehow still narrowed. "Okay, seriously," Tony says, voice demanding, ignoring the way his throat clenches up because maybe this is it, maybe this is when Steve decides that he can't handle Tony and all of his doubts. "How the fuck do you always know what I'm thinking?"

"Well, that was just a guess," Steve chuckles, and Tony rolls his eyes. "But it's easy. You think so loud it's pretty much impossible to not know what you're thinking."

"Thoughts aren't loud," Tony grumbles, putting his head against Steve's chest so he can feel the laugh that rumbles there. "You can't hear them."

"Says who?"

"Science."

"Then science is wrong."

"Is not," Tony defends, secretly smiling to himself because this is one of the things that he loves the most about Steve – the easy banter, the sarcastic remarks, the back and forth that is just so easy to fall into. "It's science."

Steve hums again. "Yeah, I know. And it's wrong."

Tony retaliates with a pinch to Steve's side, but Steve just laughs, the sound a warm and fond thing that pushes its way into Tony's chest and curls around his heart.

After a few moments of silence, Tony speaks.

"So, what would it take for you to stop going on your runs?" he asks, both joking and seriously wanting to know the answer.

Steve's response is immediate, and that either means that he's been thinking about his answer for some time – and has had to answer it before – or that Tony is just that predictable and Steve already knew what he was going to ask, and Tony doesn't know when he allowed himself to grow close enough to Steve to become predictable and easy to figure out, but he can't say that he regrets it.

"Me being dead is the most likely option."

Tony huffs – but it sounds pretty similar to a laugh – and shakes his head as best he can, shifting closer to Steve. For warmth, obviously. He doesn't offer Steve any other reply than the weird huff/laugh sound his throat decided to produce, and it's okay because he doubts that Steve was looking for one, anyway.

Steve shifts again, a happy sound leaving him, and holds Tony a little tighter to his chest, something that makes Tony extremely happy himself.

Tony doesn't exactly know how he ended up with Steve Rogers – and he sure as hell doesn't know how he hasn't done anything to completely ruin it – but right now, in this moment, Tony knows that he's going to try his absolute hardest to keep him.

Even if that means putting up with the man's running habit.

("Stop complaining about me running in your head."

"Bastard.")