Disclaimer: I do not own the Avengers, or Tony, or Steve.
"You know," Tony starts conversationally, "most people are asleep at this hour."
Steve snorts, not looking up. "Like you?" he asks, gently bearing down on the graphite stick, making the line darker; thicker, there on the jaw line. Tony hasn't even noticed that he isn't actually sketching the skyline of the city yet.
"That's different," Tony mutters, bending closer to study some tiny part of his repulsor gauntlet like it contains the secrets of the universe, and Steve can't suppress the grin that breaks out over his face. Tony has on those funny-looking welding goggles, and his tongue is sticking out just far enough for Steve to catch a hint of pink, and the man is just so into it.
It's always so obvious that Tony loves his work, loves building, and tinkering, and losing himself in the depths of his lab. Steve knows that feeling, only he loses himself in the sound of a pencil on paper, and the dark lines taking on the shapes his eyes and mind conjure up.
Watching Tony is always a treat, though, and the sleek dark lines of Steve's sketch manage to come together well enough to show the Tony that Steve sees; the one that enjoys this time to play with his machines, and be himself, and honestly Steve's honored that Tony has let him in close enough to see this.
He studies the sketch for a long moment, lets his eyes wander the path of the lines that make up Tony bent over his work station, a look of intense concentration on his face. Steve nods to himself, then adds a light shading to what shows of Tony's chest, using the eraser to lighten up the space around the arc reactor in order to show the bright glow of what everyone thinks of as Tony's heart.
He's proud of the sketch; it's good work, and there's no denying that his own feelings about the subject came through, but there's a certain edge of embarrassment spreading through his gut, too. It looks so much like Tony, like what he sees, and thinks, and feels about Tony; he's afraid he put a little too much of himself into it.
"Huh," Tony says, and Steve jerks his head up to find the subject of his art standing right in front of him, staring down at the picture curiously. "That doesn't look like the New York skyline to me," he teases, but Steve can hear the pleased surprise in his voice.
Steve blushes, and Tony laughs at him, reaching out to turn the paper around so that he can get a better view.
"Can I have it?" he asks, a little hesitant in a way Steve isn't used to, and he blinks.
"You want it?" he asks in return, a little disbelief leaking through his voice as he looks down at the drawing. It isn't much; barely a cleaned-up sketch over half the page really, and not something he'd expect Tony to want.
Tony must see the 'why' on his face then, because he shrugs.
"Why not?" he asks, but Steve only raises an eyebrow, unimpressed, and Tony relents. "You drew it," he offers, quieter; serious.
"Yeah," Steve sighs, looking down, "I guess not everyone can say they have one of Captain America's drawi-"
"I don't want it because 'Captain America' drew it," Tony interrupts, putting a hand on Steve's shoulder. Steve looks up at him, a little wide-eyed because he isn't used to being the focus of Tony's intensity.
"I want it," Tony continues once he sees Steve's paying attention, "because you drew it, Steve."
He doesn't know what to say to that, so he carefully tears the sketch out of his book, signs it simply 'Steve', and hands it to Tony wordlessly.
Tony grins when he takes it, his fingers smearing grease along the edges, and stares down at it for what feels like an impossibly long time. Steve can't read the expression on his face when he looks back up.
"Thanks Cap," he says finally, and what?
"What for?" he can't help but ask.
Tony shrugs, obviously trying for casual as he turns away towards his desk. For a moment Steve doesn't think he's going to get an answer out of his friend.
"It's nice to know," Tony finally answers, gesturing to the sketch, "that someone still sees something good when they look at me."
There is something immeasurably sad in that, and Steve can't just leave it there. Hearing those words from Tony; the amount of loneliness there…He just can't. He stands, walks over to his teammate, and tugs him around.
"Tony," he says when their eyes meet, and Steve's hand is still holding tight to his shoulder, "you are a good man. I wouldn't change you for anything." He does his best to sound completely convinced of that, which isn't hard because he Iis/I, and Tony being Tony is the one constant Steve has learned to trust in this time.
"I trust you with…Everything," he adds, lower, and leaves it at that.
Tony just ducks his head, and turns to busy himself with the frame one of his robots has timidly put on his desk, apparently for the sketch. It's almost adorable, how embarrassed he is, and Steve grins, backing off to his little table, and his sketchbook again. He doesn't say anything more, doesn't expect anything from Tony either, though he does notice the glances shot his way out of the corner of Tony's eye. He sits back down, making it clear he's intending on staying, and watches Tony relax the tiniest bit, like he thought Steve might leave.
"You don't have to stay," he finally says, not looking up, his voice as blank as his face.
Steve leans back in his chair and props his feet up. "Not going anywhere," he says, closing his eyes, and crossing his arms behind his head.
He opens one eye just wide enough to see Tony smile, real and private, at him before going back to work.