The first few times he’d woken up to Tony touching him, Steve had been so startled he’d nearly kicked him off the bed by pure reflex.
"What?" Steve said, tugging the blankets back into his lap, trying to ignore the way the back of his neck was burning. "You- Tony, stop laughing-“
"Oh, Steve." Tony grinned at him, even as he was nursing a bruise against his thigh, and Steve could see the engineer in him trying to figure out how to change that so that he’d get a better response with more nudity involved the next time around. "I’ll break you out of it, one day."
Steve had bitten down on his tongue then, thinking he’d never get around his war-trained instincts, that he’d never stop jerking awake listening first for sounds of grenade shrapnel blooming against the walls. But somehow Tony came along, bustling in seamlessly- or at least, with as much casual grace as he could dredge up- and they ground down the hard ridges that didn’t fit, until somehow they both found this in-between space where Tony didn’t reach for the drink before talking anymore and Steve could feel honestly calm for the first time in a long time.
This time Steve wakes up to Tony tracing little circles along his sides down to the line of his hips. It’s the feeling of Tony’s hands on his skin that gets him first, easy and slow. Steve smiles, because this time he hadn’t looked first at the doorway to figure out how to make a quick break, and that’s a victory in itself.
Tony kisses along his ribs and there’s no heat in it, not today. Steve likes the way he handles the lingering aches from the battle the day before, slow and maybe a little gentler than he would like to admit to being capable of.
"Tony," Steve says softly, reaching for the sides of the other man’s face. Tony noses a little at his fingers and Steve feels him smile against the whorls of his thumb.
"You didn’t even open your eyes this time," Tony says, his fingers trailing against the delicate skin of Steve’s wrist. There’s something like pride there in his voice, something like ownership, something else entirely. "I broke you out of it after all."
Steve does look at him then, and he thinks, you did, you did, but he doesn’t say that. He just leans in closer so that he can kiss Tony on the mouth.
Tony kisses him, tender and languid and long, and his eyes are bright when he pulls back. “Still, we have to repeat it a couple more times,” he says, grinning as he slowly divests Steve of his pajama pants, “Just to be sure, you know.”
"Oh," Steve says, realizing only just then that Tony only has his boxers on. "Right."
"Maybe with a lot of nakedness," Tony continues, smiling in a way that promises a great deal of good things as he fits his mouth against the curve of Steve’s hipbone. "Just to be sure."
"Okay," Steve says, smiling helplessly, thinking, yes, this is yours, this is safe, this will stay. He licks into Tony’s mouth then and slots their fingers together. “Just to be sure.”