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ever and evermore

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Steve’s at the sink when Tony joins him in the kitchen, wrapping his arms around his waist and breathing deeply. 

“Hello to you too,” Steve says, smiling as he turns and pulls Tony toward him. “You’ll be happy to know I refilled the bird feeder, so Einstein will have something to do today.”

Tony smiles. “He loves those birds as much as you love watching that boat show,” he teases.

Below Deck is so much more than a boat show,” Steve says, frowning until Tony laughs and leans up to kiss the lines that start to form between his eyebrows. There are a few more now than there used to be, though not by much. Of the two of them, Tony is the one who looks the part of a retired superhero. He’d let his hair go a silvery-gray when he stopped doing so many public appearances, and he wears whatever he wants, whenever he wants. 

And while it's amazing, and freeing, and he wouldn’t trade their lives or their sprawling farmhouse for all the penthouses in the world, sometimes... he wishes Steve looked a little older, too. Steve still has every one of his Captain America muscles, and his hair still gleams bright and blond in the afternoon sun. Even now, squinting, Tony can’t see even a single gray hair among the locks of blond. 

“Whatever you say, darling,” Tony says, brushing a thumb through the soft, downy hair at the nape of Steve’s neck. He smiles when Steve shivers into the touch, leaning back into him. 

“I say... it’s lunch time. What do you think about sandwiches?” Steve asks, turning around and dropping a kiss to Tony’s cheek. 

“Sounds good to me,” Tony agrees. He holds up the bowl he brought in with him from the backyard. “I just brought these in, think we can use them?” There’s a collection of tomatoes in various shapes and sizes in the bowl, and Steve nods, taking the bowl from Tony and rinsing them. 

They make their lunch in a comfortable quiet, the sound of a lawn mower drifting in through the open windows as they eat. Steve has a newspaper opened at his elbow, and when he starts squinting down at the words, Tony gets up without a word and returns with the reading glasses Steve keeps on his bedside table. 

“Here you go old man,” Tony says, placing them on top of Steve’s paper and ducking when Steve reaches out to swat at him. 

“Thanks, honey, I love you too,” Steve says instead, smiling at Tony over the rims of his glasses that, of course, only make him look smart and handsome on top of everything else.

Tony pretends to pout about the unfairness of it all until Steve drags them off to his studio for the rest of the afternoon.

*

Einstein is already in the room when they arrive, pawing lazily at the window where he’s watching the birds. He turns and chirps at them briefly before turning back to his perch. 

“He wants to be an outside cat so bad,” Tony says.

Steve laughs, shaking his head. “He’s too spoiled for that now.”

“King of the castle,” Tony agrees. He’s looking at his laptop, wondering if he really feels like opening it and replying to whatever emails had come in since the last time he checked it.

Apparently seeing his grimace, Steve takes Tony’s hand in his and pulls him down onto the couch beside him. “Sit with me a minute,” Steve says in his ear. 

Their office-turned-studio is at the back of the house, and it’s easily Tony’s favorite room. When they’d turned in their suits and shield for good, Tony had worked tirelessly converting the room into the art studio of Steve’s dreams. It gets more sun than anywhere else in their house, leaving it constantly full of natural light, and they’d filled it with art and plants and ridiculously expensive leather couches for Tony to lounge on while Steve worked. 

Tony has a desk in there, too, where he sits and works every now and then, but for the most part, he likes to watch his husband in his element, lost in thought with a pencil or a paintbrush in his hand, eyebrows furrowed in concentration. 

Now, though, the only thing Steve seems to be focused on is Tony, pulling him down and into his lap, until Tony is settled in against him and Steve can wrap his arms around his neck, leaning up to brush their lips together. It’s chaste at first, slow and questioning before growing deeper, needier as he threads his fingers through Tony’s hair, tugging gently on the silver curls at Tony’s neck. 

“It looks good like this,” Steve mumbles into the kiss, voice deep with want and disuse and Tony’s head swims with the words. 

“Mmh?” 

“Your hair,” Steve says, carding his hand through the strands again, and Tony feels himself make a sound, deep in his throat. “I like it.”

“Oh,” Tony says, trying not to sound too surprised by the admission. “Good. I like these, too,” he says, pulling away just long enough to give Steve’s glasses a little tap. His stomach swoops and thrills a little at the knowing smile Steve gives him in return.

“I thought you might,” he says, raising a knowing eyebrow. 

And something... something about the way Steve says it, the fact that he knows him so well, everything about him, after all this time, makes all the little worries that had been simmering in Tony’s head stop and settle for good. 

So Steve doesn’t look as old as he does. It doesn’t change anything, really. Not the things that really matter. The long afternoons spent doing everything and nothing. Feeding the cat and filling the bird feeder, or lingering together over a crossword neither of them could ever quite finish. This, here, Steve’s hands in his hair and his lips hot and wanting on Tony’s. These are the things that matter.

Tony lets his eyes fall shut as Steve kisses down the column of his neck, murmuring little encouragements, and it strikes him again that he wouldn't change the life they have now for anything.

There’s not much talking after that.