by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Steve lay stretched out on his side, the sheets and blankets a warm and pleasant weight on his body, and smiled slightly as he let his eyes wander over Tony. He was still sleeping, his back turned to the windows and the early morning light they let into the room. His expression was relaxed in sleep the way it rarely was when he was awake. Tony tended to tackle life with intensity and focus.

Slowly, trying not to wake Tony with the motion, Steve reached out and traced the dark, neatly trimmed line of Tony's goatee. It was almost soft, as long as he followed the grain of the hairs, but the slightest deviation brought out the prickly side of the short bristles. God knew it made kissing interesting.

Still, Steve thought, sliding his thumb over the point of Tony's chin, he liked it. It framed Tony's mouth beautifully, and if it made kissing a little prickly, well, it also made kissing Tony unique among the people Steve had been involved with. That seemed...right, somehow.

"Do you not like it?"

Steve looked up from Tony's mouth and found him awake. "No, I like it," he said. "Why?"

"A lot of women don't," Tony said. "They won't always say so, but I could always tell. They kissed differently."

"They why keep it?" Steve asked curiously, his fingers still playing over the goatee, drifting every now and then to brush Tony's lips.

Tony smiled slightly. "I like it."

Steve had to smile at that. "Would you shave it off if I asked?"

Tony pretended to consider for a moment. "Nope," he said, eyes twinkling.

"Why not?" Steve asked, raising his brows.

Tony reached up and caught Steve's hand in his own, pulling it away from his mouth. "I like the way you kiss me."

Steve knew a hint when he heard one.