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Tony’s chest starts to hurt, as he imagines the terrible tightness Steve
must feel in his chest, his own heart pounding hard against the casing
of the arc reactor.
Steve takes a juddery, whaling breath that
makes his tiny frame shudder and Tony calls it. That’s it, they’ll just
go down to medical, he’s not going to wait when—
“Here.” Natasha grabs his hand, pulls it away from Steve, and slaps something into his palm.
It’s Steve’s inhaler.
my god,” Tony says and scrambles to get it pressed between Steve’s
lips. “Okay, buddy, this is it, here we go, take a deep breath for me
Steve whimpers, but he breathes as deeply as he can and
Tony depresses the plunger. “Okay, now I know you don’t want to, but
hold your breath for a few seconds—that’s it, great job. You’re doing
“One more,” he says when Steve breathes out shakily. He
depresses it again and Steve takes another breath, deeper this time. He
doesn’t have to be told to hold it this time. “There you go,” Tony says
and sets the inhaler aside, rubbing circles on his back. “Good boy. You
did such a good job.”
Steve’s lips start to regain color and that
seems to be his breaking point—he starts sobbing. Tony gathers him up,
cradling him against his chest and slumps back against the couch,
holding him close. “Jesus, don’t scare me like that,” he breathes and
kisses Steve’s forehead, feels his pulse fluttering like a bird under
Rhodey and Pepper come rushing back in. “Tony, we
can’t find it, I called medical let’s take him down now before—” Rhodey
stops mid-sentence. “You found it.”
“Not me, her,” Tony says,
pointing and Natasha. After a moment of just feeling Steve breathe and
being overwhelmingly, sickeningly grateful for it, he reaches over and
hooks his hand around the back of Natasha’s head and reels her in,
pressing a rough kiss in her hair. “Good girl,” he tells her, voice
thick. “You were paying attention earlier, huh? You’re so smart.”
Natasha blushes and pats Steve’s heaving shoulders gingerly.
“Is he gonna be okay?” Sam asks, voice high and worried.
“Yeah, yes, he’s gonna be fine,” Tony says and rubs Steve’s small back, shushing him.
“Oh my god,” Pepper says, sinking wobbly-kneed onto the couch, one hand pressed over her heart. “Oh my god, Tony.”
He laughs shakily. “Oh, yeah, we’re fantastic at this.”
“JARVIS, let medical know we’re all clear, will you?” Rhodey asks.
small noises Steve is making are killing him. “You’re gonna be fine,”
Tony assures Steve and holds him a little bit tighter, reassuring
himself of it, too. That was awful. God. That was. God.
sweetheart, come here,” Pepper says, and Tony looks up to see him
crossing to her, eagerly climbing into her lap as he dissolves into
tears, too. “Oh, honey,” Pepper says, aching, and starts stroking his
back. “It’s okay. Everyone’s okay now. I’m sorry, you must have been
Bruce, who appears to have never left the couch, is white-faced, but quiet, watching Tony cuddle the daylights out if Steve.
am not cut out for this, man,” Rhodey says and drops down on the floor
next to Thor. Natasha sits down next to him and lays down across his
stomach to give him a hug. Tony huffs a laugh at Rhodey’s expression,
which says he’s dying of cute, and Steve stirs a little, red eyes
peeking over his skinny shoulder.
“How are you doing, buddy?” Tony asks, running his fingers through his fine, blond hair. “Better?”
Steve sniffles and curls up even smaller. “Yeah,” he says, but his voice wavers.
Steve’s lower lip trembles, but he just looks away, curling up into a tighter ball.
Tony smooths down the soft hair at the back of his neck. “C'mon,” he murmurs. “What is it?”
Steve lifts his head so Tony leans in a little further. “Now nobody will play with m-m-me,” Steve whispers.
Tony says, drawn out, and cups Steve’s face in his hands, brushing the
wet tracks on his cheeks away with his thumbs. “That’s not true.
Everybody still wants to play with you.”
Rhodey pushes up on to his elbows. “Hey, what? Of course we’ll still play with you.”
“Bu-but I get s-s-sick,” Steve wails and his breathing starts to hitch.
“Whoa whoa whoa,” Tony says, “Steve, breathe.”
“But I want to pl-pl-pl-h-hey!” he sobs.
Tony is flabbergasted. “Steve, nobody is saying you can’t!”
reappears suddenly, his pudgy cheeks set in a scowl. He climbs up into
Tony’s lap, totally ignorant of Tony’s ow when he grabs a fistful of leg
hair. “I’ll still play with you,” he says fiercely.
Steve manages to get himself under control enough to choke, “Y-you w-will?”
wants to play with me either,” Clint tells him and slaps a hand over
his right ear a few times. “My ear is broke so they won’t. We can play.
If you want.”
Steve sniffles and rubs at watery blue eyes. His face is heartbreaking. “O-okay,” he agrees.
“I’ll still play with you, too,” Sam says from where he’s curled up in Pepper’s lap and then sticks his thumb back in his mouth.
Thor flops against the couch. “My brother likes sitting games. I will teach you.”
Some of the light comes back into Steve’s face and he nods so hard it looks like his head’s going to fly off.
Tony says. “Everybody still wants to play with you. You just have to
take it easy sometimes and we’ll make sure we keep your medicine nearby
from now on. Okay?”
Steve nods shyly, beaming at the other kids. Ok, he signs and Clint grins big enough to split his face.
Tony sighs. “Now we’re all gonna sit here and watch some of Meet the
Robinsons because you just took ten years off my life. Honest to god,
Steve, it doesn’t matter how old you are, you’re trying to give me a
And it’s totally worth it he decides when Steve twists around and hugs him tight.