Steve slowly opened the door and held his breath as the avengers alarm blared behind him. He walked in quietly and what he saw surprised him to say the least.
He was in Tony’s room which looked more or less as he’d expected. A large bed, a TV hanging from the wall, a door leading to his bathroom but overall not very personal. The only thing unusual in it was Tony himself.
He'd always expected Tony to be the kind of man to sprawl out naked and take up the whole bed. But now that he was in Tony’s room (his heart beat faster at the thought of Tony’s room) as he slept, he realized how different Tony was from his expectations.
Tony had a huge bed- that was for sure. It was large enough for Thor to splay out in a star shape three times. However, when Steve looked over the crimson covers, the only sign of Tony being there at all was the little lump near the edge of the bed, closest to the window. He walked over, only feeling the tiniest bit guilty for seeing Tony at his most vulnerable, and what he saw took his heart, stomped on it, ripped it into shreds and put it in a blender.
Tony was sleeping. He laid on his left side with his right hand tucked under the pillow. Steve couldn't see what he was wearing, if he was wearing anything, because the satin covers were pulled up to Tony's nose with his left hand clutching them tightly.
In the books Steve had read to catch up, whenever someone slept, no matter who they were or what their backstory was, their face was somehow magically calm and void of any negative emotions, be it anger or sadness. Tony's face, however, showed something worse than either of those. His eyebrows were furrowed in regret and his eyes squeezed shut in fear. He looked almost like a child trying to hide from the monsters under their bed.
Steve's plan was to gently reach out and shake Tony awake but right as his hand touched the quilt, Tony's eyes shot open and he stood up on the bed with a knife in hand, making a weird gesture that called a gauntlet to him before Steve had a chance to react. This was probably completely the wrong time to notice that Tony wore a tank top and sweatpants to bed but Steve was…well, Steve.
"Oh my- Steve?!" Tony breathed, his eyes were still panicky and he was breathing heavily to calm his heart rate. He lowered his armoured hand so it was no longer pointing at Steve's face, put the knife back under the pillow and asked, "What the hell?!"
"Tony, I'm sorry." Steve stepped back quickly, feeling guilty and more than upset about what he'd just seen, "I didn't want to wake you but the alarm's been going off for no reason and no one knows how to turn it off so everyone's freaking out, Bruce especially."
"Okay. It's fine. I'm sorry for nearly killing you."
"I'm sorry for startling you. I had no idea you were so..." he wanted to say paranoid, "prepared."
Tony let out a laugh and in attempting to lighten the mood he said, "Being kidnapped and nearly killed multiple times has its perks."
"Tony..." Steve wanted to cry. He wanted to kill everyone in the world except Tony and then he wanted to hug him and cry some more.
"Cap- uuhh Steve...It's fine. I'm used to it. It's just a part of life now." Tony started walking towards the door but then Steve grabbed his arm to stop him.
"It shouldn't be." He said, giving Tony a sincere and hopefully concerned looking frown when he looked back.
Tony walked on.
Steve watched as he sorted the alarm out and put all the avengers at ease. He made sure the two spies were certain nothing was happening and he helped calm Bruce down with a small bowl of chocolate custard (whoever said the avengers were adults?) and some slow bedtime music. Thor joined in on the custard and Tony told him a Midgardian story about a caterpillar. When he was done he was surprised to see Steve still up.
"Why haven't you gone back to sleep? It's-" he checked his watch, "-two in the morning. Come on popsicle, even superheroes need their sleep."
He started ushering Steve to the elevator but Steve stopped him, saying, "You're a lot different to what I expected you to be."
"Well, I hope I'm not too disappointing but seriously Steve, if the avenger alarm goes off for real tomorrow and you haven't had a good night's sleep, we're gonna be in trouble."
He carried on shoving at Steve's back but Steve just turned around and looked him in the eyes.
"You're not disappointing, Tony. At all." Tony looked surprised at these words and stopped pushing, which urged Steve to talk more, "You're so...strange and- I mean, it's a good strange! You make cool things with your tech and you're always trying to help people! You're kind and-"
"Steve, I don't deserve this." Tony backed up to the wall, looking ashamed and feeling a little embarrassed. He was looking at the floor and playing with his hands. He looked so insecure which was quite a contrast to the narcissistic Stark mask he put on for people.
"Yes. You do, Tony." Steve walked up to him and bent his head down right as Tony looked up.
Steve felt drawn to him somehow. He'd always felt pulled towards Tony. Even if he wasn't saying anything, just his mere presence screamed for Steve's attention. He found himself staring at him in the workout room and going down to the workshop without any reason other than Tony's company.
"Steve! I'm not-"
He couldn't finish his sentence because before he knew it, Steve's lips were on his and he was caged between the wall and 220 pounds of Captain America. It was just a soft yet firm touch of lips and Steve was gentle, trying to transfer all the emotions he had for Tony through the simple kiss he gave him. Then he broke away and looked down at Tony who was breathing heavily with his cheeks flushed.
"Was that...alright?" He asked quietly, as if at any moment Tony would run away.
"Yeah..Steve..." Tony looked up at him with hope in his eyes.
"You know, I really like you Tony," Tony's breath hitched, as if he didn't already know this from that kiss they just shared. Steve thought carefully before he spoke again, "I noticed how scared you were back in the, um, bedroom..And I want to help you with it."
"Steve, I don't deserve you." Tony stared at him in awe, wondering how Steve could possibly like him the way he liked Steve.
"Now, how about we get you to bed?" Steve grinned.
"I thought we were getting you to bed." Tony leaned forward, brushing his nose against Steve's.
"Sure. Just promise you'll go to bed as well?"
They walked to Steve's room in comfortable quiet. The elevator was filled with flirty glances and relieved smiles. Steve still had a million worries about Tony but he figured that now he had actually told Tony that he cared about him, he could work one step at a time.
At Steve's door neither of them could bring themselves to say goodbye. They stared at each other for a good while before their lips met once more. It was passionate and heated with Tony's arms wrapping round Steve's neck and Steve bringing him closer by his hips.
They never really finished that kiss. But minutes later (or hours, who knows?) they ended it and left it an unspoken promise to definitely have more of them.
Steve went into his room and to Tony's surprise he grabbed Tony's wrist and pulled him in with him.
Nothing happened. There was no sneaky sex or late night talk about the future. Instead, they just slept. Steve noticed the difference of having Tony in his own bed, gripping a knife under his pillow versus sleeping in Steve's room with said owner of said room wrapped around him like a shield of protection. His face was still creased with worry but they would work on that. Little by little Steve would help Tony with his anxiety and Tony would unknowingly help Steve with his problems in return. That was the great thing about Tony. He was always doing the unexpected.