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Comfort Food
Tag: 616 Steve | August 11
DC-DCTVU-1

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#1
It wasn’t really that uncommon a sight to find Christian in the kitchen of the mansion (at least on the weekends when he wasn’t working), cooking or cleaning up or eating. He cooked enough to make sure there were leftovers enough for all of the residents of the mansion, and he had been quick to notice what things disappeared most quickly.

Tonight, however, was a little bit different. There were a lot of southern foods that could be considered ‘comfort’ foods, but this… This was something that Christian didn’t make often. Because he didn’t usually require the extreme amounts of comfort that came with this food. This was reserved for loss, usually not even his own, as he rarely allowed himself to grow so attached to anything or anyone to suffer that sort of ache. It was very, very late, or perhaps conversely, it was very early, when Christian silently made lemon pancakes. And that was odd as well, because Christian had a tendency to sing or at least hum while he cooked, not loudly, softly, but always on key.

Today the kitchen was filled with silence only broken by the scrape of spatula against pan, or the clink of spoon against bowl. The smell of buttermilk, flour, and lemon wafted through, joining the scents of saltier bacon, and earthy potatoes as they simmered and spat. On the table was a tray with crispy bacon, a bowl of potatoes fried in the bacon fat, and a platter with a small stack of the pancakes that were already cooked. Another bowl held scrambled eggs.

It would be enough to feed the entire house and then some. But for Chris, cooking was a form of stress relief, a comfort in and of itself, and food was a way to show people that he cared about them. This meal, one he had never prepared in the past for anyone in the house, including the man who had lived with Chris the longest among them, was one he knew by rote, his eyes far, far away, his motions fluid, but lacking the energy he usually moved with, face devoid of the warmth he usually possessed, and instead replaced with the mechanical actions, distracted, sad, with what might be tears shining in his eyes.

The meal felt more like ‘goodbye’ than ‘I care about you just because’ and Chris looked as though he were heading to a funeral rather than starting a day early.
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#2
It was well after midnight, but still too early for Steve to be reasonably awake. Yet, awake he was. Tonight had been unusually bad as nightmares of exploding planes and Bucky’s panicked face haunted his dreams with a rare fierceness. Tired, but knowing that there will be no more sleeping tonight, Steve throws off the covers. He meanders down the hallway towards the kitchen. If he can’t sleep, he might as well eat.

The light is on in the kitchen, which is unexpected and Steve checks the clock in the hallway to confirm that it isn’t yet late enough to be considered ‘morning’ by even the earliest morning birds standards. Steve considers moving on to give whoever is in there, their privacy, but then the smell of bacon and lemon pancakes wafts past him and he feels his feet moving into the kitchen.

Christian is baking, and by the sheer number of bowls and dishes around him Steve can assume he has been cooking for a while. Normally this wouldn’t be a bad thing. In fact Christian cooking usually meant leftovers, which made Christian cooking a very good thing in Steve’s opinion. Tonight though was different. Christian wasn’t humming or laughing or even smiling. In fact, he looked like someone just ran over his puppy.

“Hey Christian,” Steve greets from the doorway, “Isn’t it a bit early for breakfast?”
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DC-DCTVU-1

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#3
Chris was… Not in the zone, because that implied something… Good. No no, this was.. Christian was lost. That he hadn’t slept would become apparent as Steve moved into the room and got a better look at the smaller man, hunched over the stove, eyes on the pancakes without really seeing them. When Steve entered the kitchen, Christian didn’t look up, didn’t even seem to notice that someone had joined him in the room. That wasn’t usual for him, normally he was quite aware, the first to turn and beam a smile at one of his fellow residents of the mansion.

Instead, this morning, if they were choosing to call it morning, Chris nearly lept out of his skin when Steve spoke, jerking away from the stove enough to need to take a step backward and blinking tiredly at the doorway before he recognized Steve. The smile Chris attempted to paste onto his face was not his usual warm, happy one, but rather a poor facsimile of it, sad and lonely, with something a little bit broken in it, “Hey Steve,” he murmured, “Maybe. What time is it now? I have… Bacon and eggs, and pancakes. Lemon pancakes…” He looked down at the skillet, gently gliding the two cakes he’d been finishing up onto the spatula and transferring them to a plate, “Hungry?”

There were going to be so many leftovers, but it wasn’t as though they wouldn’t get eaten. If nothing else, Chris figured Steve would eat pretty much all of this stuff if it came down to it. He just wished the cooking was helping… But it really just wasn’t.

He wasn’t even hungry. But maybe Steve would be. He could hope. He wasn’t sure he really wanted company, but he really didn’t want to be alone anymore, either.
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#4
Christian is very clearly off, that is immediately apparent. The dull look in his eyes and fake smile is enough to make Steve concerned.

He takes a seat at the table while Christian lists off the impressive array of food.

"It's 2 AM. Did you even go to sleep yet?" Steve asks. Christian passes him a plate of lemon pancakes. Steve takes a bite. They are delicious. Everything Christian makes is delicious, but that doesn't tell Steve what's bothering Christian.

There is a few minutes of silence while Christian continues to feverishly bake and Steve picks at his food trying to think of what could be bothering his friend.

"What's wrong Christian?" Steve asks, "is everything with your sister alright?"

Something happening to Christians sister is the only thing that Steve can think of that could make him act this way. Although if she were in danger Steve assumes that Christian would be out there saving her and not baking.
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DC-DCTVU-1

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#5
Truth be told, Christian had been off for days now. Since the first, though he’d stayed home for part of them, diving into work, keeping long hours throughout the week, and coming home to cook for himself and Safi, play with Jonah, and work on his projects and magic, only to get up and do it all over again. He came through to Hub here and there, of course, but that first week he had been extremely scarce.

And then he had worked to make nice with Tony, for Safi’s sake, and… And he couldn’t just avoid Hub forever. Who knew when Belle would get back, and… And Christian couldn’t sleep, and the portal to the mansion was right there, so… Why not?

So it was that 2am found Christian cooking in Tony’s kitchen instead of his own so he wouldn’t wake Safi. He looked at Steve, blinked, tilted his head in consideration, and then shrugged, “Yes?” He had slept, a little bit. Tiny bit. And then he’d woken from a nightmare… “Not much, but I don’t want to go back to sleep.” He went quiet a moment before he asked quietly, “How about you? It’s sort of in the middle of the night… I didn’t think anyone would still be up and about.”

”What’s wrong Christian? Is everything with your sister alright?”

Something passed over Christian’s face at the first question, something like sorrow and loss and just plain hurt, but at the second, something else chased those away. “Well I wouldn’t really know, seeing that she went off on some adventure to fulfill a quest with a bunch of people I haven’t actually met. Without me. Without telling me when she’d be back. I assume she’s okay, and I pray for her every night.” And no, he wasn’t just a teeny tiny bit salty about that, was he?

Everyone else got to run off and do what they wanted to do, but no no, Chris had to stay back and be a burden on whoever was home because he wasn’t competent enough to look after himself.

Well, he wasn’t the one who’d been shot not so long ago, was he?!

His teeth clicked together as he slammed his mouth shut and hung his head, “I miss her, Steve. But I trust that she’s okay. That’s not… I’m fine. It’s fine.”
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#6
Christian said he slept, though Steve never would have guessed from looking at him. Steve doubts he got more than an hour, if that. Then Christian turns the question back on Steve. It's an old trick; divert questions about your own well being by asking all the questions first. Steve was an old pro at that.

"Nightmares about the war. Nothing I haven't dealt with before." Steve says honestly. If he wants Christian to open up to him it's only fair that he be open in return.

It was good to know that Belle was alright, though that didn't get him any closer to figuring out why Christian was cooking a feast at 2 AM.

"I'm fine. It's fine."

"Call me old fashioned, but back in my day people who were fine didn't decide on impromptu cooking sprees at unusual hours." Steve says.

"Talk to me Christian. What's wrong?" Steve asks, making no effort to hide the worry in his voice.
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#7
Chris wasn’t really one to tell lies. Maybe he’d guess and make that as a statement, implying it was a fact, or maybe he’d skirt around the edges of a truth he didn’t want to share, but he rarely lied. He’d slept, but not much. Then again, sleep had become more and more difficult to catch and hold onto the last week or so. And Chris didn’t have to wonder why, either. He knew exactly why he was having problems.

He just didn’t know how to deal with the issue at hand.

So he came down to the kitchen and started cooking, because at least that was comforting, it was warm and familiar and it reminded him of mornings spent at Belle’s apartment on the weekends. Nodding at Steve’s answer, and of course he’d turned the question back to Steve, both because it redirected the conversation as well as politely asked after Steve’s well being, as was expected from southern manners. “Yeah, nightmares.” Chris nodded, letting Steve know that it had been what Chris had seen in his own dreams that had him in the kitchen cooking for a veritable army at 2am.

Yeah… Belle was fine, or at least, Chris was pretty sure of it. Each evening, before he knelt at his bedside to pray, he spent time healing Belle’s doll, sending her healing and energy and stamina and whatever else he could through the talisman, hoping it helped, hoping it did his sister some good.

He said he was fine, mostly because he had to be fine, he needed to be fine. And he hoped and prayed if he said he was fine, said it often enough and really tried to mean it, he could will it to be true.

Turning to look at the food he’d made, Chris blushed and lowered his gaze back down to the pancakes he was cooking, “I like to cook.”

”Talk to me Christian. What’s wrong?”

“What isn’t wrong?” The words were drawn out, as though pulled out of him, unwilling but spoken, admitted, nonetheless. “He knows, Steve. Jaya told him, she was trying to help, but… He knows, and he…” Chris shook his head, tears welling in his eyes as he turned his attention resolutely to the food in the pan.
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#8
"I like to cook."

That is an understatement. Steve had never met someone who liked to cook as much as Christian. Every event was an excuse to cook with him,but usually it was a happy, or at least peaceful, cooking. This was not that.

Steve can hear the heartbreak in Christians voice as he elaborates. Steve doesn't need to ask who "he" is.

"I'm sorry," Steve says standing up. He puts a hand on his shoulder and gives it a squeeze.

Steve doesn't have much experience with dating. Though he does have plenty experience with rejection.

"What can I do to help?" He asks, not removing his hand from Christian's shoulder.
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#9
He really did like to cook. Acts of creation; cooking, making his automatons… Acts of healing; feeding someone else, offering care and comfort, healing and supporting someone he cared about… These were the things that Christian enjoyed most.

Sometimes, though, it wasn’t just that simple. Yes, he loved to cook, took massive amounts of enjoyment and pride in the act of it, loved to feed and take care of those whom he saw as ‘his’ people, like Safi and Belle and Steve and Thea and even Tony.

Tonight, however, wasn’t about others. It wasn’t about pride or enjoyment. This, what Christian was doing, was a desperate attempt to find comfort, to find his sense of space and self. Most nights, Christian slept quietly, and through the night, regardless of what he dreamt. Nightmares weren’t all that uncommon, bad memories in the forms of bad dreams were even less so, but tonight, he had no sooner put his head to the pillow before…

He couldn’t think about it. Wouldn’t think about it.

And yet, when Steve asks, Christian had to answer. It wasn’t a compulsion, but rather… Steve was good, and Steve was kind and Christian was tired. He was exhausted, and that made him weak, weak enough to speak, to just give in and give the vaguest of explanations.

Sorry. Yeah, Chris was sorry, too. “It wasn’t like I expected anything different. I just…” The weight of Steve’s hand on his shoulder was a surprise, but it was also a comforting pressure, and Christian, tired as he was, leaned into it, accepting that comfort.

Wordlessly, Christian removed the pan from the burner, setting it on a free, unlit one, turning the gas off on the stove even as he turned to look at Steve.

God, he looked so much like Safi. If Safi had shaved his beard off. For a moment, Christian’s mouth went dry and he struggled to draw in a breath, doing so raggedly before letting it out in a soft huff. He leaned forward, not quite touching Steve, before shaking his head, “I… I don’t know. I don’t know what to do. I just… I can’t sleep, Steve, I can’t, and I… I don’t know what to do.”
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#10
"Sorry" Christian says as if he has anything to apologize for.

"Don't apologize," Steve says kindly. Christian turns to face him and he looks so lost and so exhausted as he tries to put into words what he's feeling. It's disjointed, but at least he isn't trying to claim that he's fine anymore.

Unable to say anything that can make Christian feels better Steve decides to roll with what's been working so far. Hoping that he isn't overstepping his boundaries he pulls Christian into a tight hug. Then he guides him to a chair and gently sits him down.

He sets a plate of lemon pancakes down in front of him and hands him a fork.

"I can't fix this for you, but if you need someone to lean on, I can do that." Steve says.
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#11
Christian feels like he has a lot to apologize for. He’s not...Normal. And oh god, sometimes he wishes he were. Because if he could be normal, if he could hit people to defend himself and talk about feelings and be brave then maybe he wouldn’t be in this mess.

That he was a mess over the situation with Safi, and even with Jaya, was something that Steve seemed to pick up on even when Chris had tried to blow it off and say he was fine. He’d be fine; tomorrow he’d wash up and put clean clothes on and go to work just like he did every day, and no one would so much as suspect that there was anything wrong. Because Safi would be there, and he’d notice if Chris were off, and Christian wanted Safi to be able to continue on and be happy and comfortable, and that meant pretending that nothing had changed. Christian could do that, he could be fine for Safi. He had to be.

He had to make himself fine. He had to fix this so he could keep being okay with Safi.

The hug seemed to almost take Christian by surprise. Most people didn’t do that, they didn’t hug him. Sure, there were always warm smiles and nods, words that were meant to comfort or cheer him up, but… Mostly physical affection came from Belle and Safi. There was a moment where Chris didn’t seem to react as he processed, and then he simply seemed to melt into Steve’s hug.

Safi gave the best hugs; warm and inviting and reassuring and safe and caring and comforting.. Steve’s hugs were pretty damn great, too, filled with some of those same things, and right now, Christian didn’t have the emotional strength to fight against the sense of comfort being freely offered. He went nearly boneless in Steve’s arms with a soft sob, hiding his face and letting the larger man hold and guide him.

When he opened his eyes to see the pancakes, to feel the fork in his hands, Christian blinked, looking up at Steve as though to ask how he’d gotten here. And maybe he really wasn’t quite sure, because he’d just been cooking, and he hadn’t made up this plate, had he? Maybe Steve.

”I can’t fix this for you, but if you need someone to lean on, I can do that.”

Steve was one of the best. And it hit Christian all at once. Captain America was offering to stay and comfort him. Captain America, who looked exactly like Safi. “Please don’t leave,” the words were spoken quietly, hoarse and desperate. As though it would keep Steve there, Christian moved to eat the pancakes. He wasn’t hungry, but it gave them an excuse to stay here. It would, maybe, make Steve feel better, if he ate. So he ate, not much, a few bites, and it was done just as mechanically as the cooking had been; they didn’t taste bad, but he didn’t really want food.
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#12
After a tense second Christian relaxes in Steve's arms, Leaning on him heavily for support. Steve pretends not to hear the small sob that slips out of the smaller man. Everyone deserves their moment of weakness without judgement or comment.

Christian hesitates after Steve hands him the fork and Steve makes the 'go on' motion, encouraging him to eat before fixing himself another plate.

Steve almost misses the words, they're spoken so softly.

"Please don't leave."

"I won't" Steve promises. He waits until Christian takes a bite before digging in himself. The pancakes are light and buttery. Steve makes a note to ask him for the recipe at a more appropriate time.

"Does Safi know you're making a feast instead of sleeping?" Steve asks.
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DC-DCTVU-1

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#13
It’s a blessing, to have someone who knows. Not that he cares for Safi the way he does; there are people who know that, of course. Jaya had figured it out without ever actually meeting Safi, and the other Tony, the one that looked more like Christian that Christian was entirely comfortable with (sexiest man of the year FOUR times? How did that even work when he couldn’t even get Safi to want… He shouldn’t go there, that way lie dangers.), he had said that Chris was pining. (And so okay, maybe he was.) But for someone to know, someone that Chris was pretty sure could be trusted (Steve was CAPTAIN AMERICA for Pete’s sakes!) to know just how much Chris was hurting? That was sort of a relief. Like a secret he had finally shared with someone. A weight that someone else could help lift for a tiny little while.

Chris hadn’t meant to make that…noise...but Steve didn’t comment, and it too, offered just the tiniest of relief.

It was after two in the morning, Christian hadn’t been sleeping all that much lately, and his appetite had left him over a week ago; he wasn’t hungry, not even a little bit, but Steve wanted him to eat, so… Chris ate. Slowly, methodically, the sort of small bites of a person who wasn’t sure their stomach could handle food just yet, and only a few of those, but enough to get Steve started on his own plate, and that was good. That meant that Steve would stay for a while at least to eat, and Christian would rather eat and feel sick than be alone. He asked Steve not to leave, and Steve agreed to stay. Because naturally, of course, Steve would stay if he was asked. Because Steve was good and kind like that.

Growing up, Christian had loved Tony Stark for being so much like him, for being someone so relatable. Now, he loved Steve for being real and for being so kind. His childhood heroes, ‘friends’ when he hadn’t had any, not that he’d ever believed they were real people, not that he had had them as imaginary friends, but he had still turned to them when he’d been lonely and Belle wasn’t there.

Does Safi know you’re making a feast instead of sleeping?”

Christian’s gaze snapped up, his eyes blinking and then widening slightly. Shaking his head, he answered quietly, “No. The portal here is in my closet… I didn’t want to wake him, so I just… I figured the mansion’s so big, and there’s not all that many of us here, so I wouldn’t bother anyone, and you could all have breakfast in the morning, and I could just clean up and go back before I have to get ready for work…”
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#14
Steve was worried by how lackluster Christian was while eating his food. Although at least he was eating, so Steve supposes he can count it as a win. Steve knows he's taking a risk; prying into Christian's personal life like this. Christian could very easily just shut him out. It's not like they know each other that well. Still he has to try. Christian clearly needs someone to lean on. He's relieved when Christian responds.

"Well you're always welcome here and you're certainly not a bother." Steve says. Technically he has no right to say that. It is Mr. Stark's mansion after all, but he can't imagine Mr. Stark being so cruel.

"We're you planning on staying up all night cooking and then going to work tomorrow? When exactly are you planning on getting some sleep?" Steve asks, then bites his lip. He knows he has a problem with nagging. The boys always used to give him a hard time about it during the war.

"Sorry. I'm not trying to get on your case. I just don't like seeing you upset." He adds hastily.
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#15
Christian was one of those people who always seemed to be in motion; energetic and quick, always smiling. He was a master of ‘fake it till you make it’ and even when he was hurting, he could put on a smile that fooled everyone. Well, maybe not everyone... Belle always seemed to know when he was hurting, when he was simply putting on a facade, but most people, his coworkers, his ‘friends’, they thought him to be a genuinely happy person, always quick to smile and laugh.. Really, Chris was lonely, and right now, he just didn’t have the energy or willpower to force the facade. Yes, he could have shut Steve out, he could have told him to go away or left himself, he could have lied and insisted that he was fine, just bored or unable to sleep. But Steve seemed to actually care, and… And he was Captain America, you couldn’t lie to him. Or at least, Chris couldn’t, not easily.

Always welcome. He actually sort of believed that; days before, Chris had gone to Tony, had apologized for…well, for being a complete ass, and had asked if they could be friends. Tony had agreed, and while some of the things Tony had said had hurt and rankled, had brought up things that Christian would have preferred not to deal with or think about or admit, they had decided to be friends. And that was good. Because it would make Safi’s life easier, and keep things easier between them. It would still be awkward, and Chris was still hurting (as evidenced by tonight’s impromptu pancake feast) but Safi could at least pretend that nothing had changed, and that was good, Chris would take that, because that meant that he didn’t have to deal with losing Safi as a friend on top of the rejection he was trying to work through.

Though he was left wondering why Safi couldn’t like him like that.

But that was his problem, not Safi’s. Still, not being a bother? That was harder to swallow. He snorted softly, “I’m pretty much always bothering someone, Steve. Right now I’m bothering you; you’d be off doing whatever, or have headed back to bed if I weren’t here being a pest.” His voice was flat, speaking the words as facts rather than sounding like self pity. He was what he was. And he bothered people. And that? That wasn’t really his problem.

“Well, it wasn’t the plan when I laid down to go to sleep earlier, no, but it’s not like I’m going back to bed now.” He blinked at Steve, “Tomorrow night?” He knew that he wasn’t really getting enough sleep. He knew that his schedule had been blown to hell and that Steve was right, but… He had to go to work, and he knew that he wasn’t going to get much rest tonight. The apology earns a small but honest smile, “You’re not on my case all that much here, Steve. I grew up with a sister, and I live with Safi. If either of them knew…” he rolled his eyes, “But I can’t just miss work, and sleeping…” a shudder ran through him, “I’d rather not.” Reaching out, Chris gave Steve’s arm a quick pat, just once before he pulled back with an apologetic smile, “I’m not overly fond of feeling like this, either. I’ll be fine, though. I just…” he grasped for anything but the truth and came up short, muttering, “Have to stop feeling.”
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#16
Did Christian really believe he was bothering Steve? Because he really couldn't be farther from the truth.

"You're not bothering me. I wasn't getting anymore sleep tonight anyway. In fact I was coming to the kitchen to get a snack and what you made is much better than anything I could have made" Steve says taking another large bite of pancake. They really were delicious.

Steve rolls his eyes a bit at the mention of Safi. In Steve's opinion Safi didn't have the right to hurt Christian like this and then turn around and act overprotective. He didn't say anything though. He knows Christian would rather have Safi in his life even in an unhealthy nobody-talk-about-emotions type of way then not at all, and though he doesn't agree with it he respects Christian enough to let him make his own choices.

Christian reached out and pats Steve's arm. Stop feeling? Is it even possible to just turn off ones emotions like flipping a switch?

"You know in all my years, I've never managed to just 'stop feeling' things, especially things that hurt. If you figure it out, let me know." Steve says.
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#17
If you’re told something often enough, you begin to simply take it as the truth. Especially when you’re told when you’re young and more impressionable. ‘You’re annoying,’ and ‘Stop bothering us,’ had been routine statements to Christian, and so he had come to view himself as annoying and bothersome. He tried not to be, not to pester and harass… But often, especially on nights like tonight, he seemed to fail in that.

Steve, however, said he wasn’t being a bother. That the food was welcome. The smile Chris gave him was tentative; Steve was kind, even if Chris were bothering him, he might tell him he wasn’t… Though Christian didn’t think that Captain America was much for lying, either, even if it were to be nice. “I’m glad you like them. They’re one of my favorites, too.” At least, when he could taste them properly, but tonight, everything just seemed to taste like cardboard.

Maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow things might be better than they were right now. He had to believe that, because were pretty rotten at the moment. Maybe tomorrow night, he’d be able to sleep without a nightmare, without a pit in his stomach. He kept waiting for that knot to unwind, to go away. Waiting for the ache to fade away.

Steve wasn’t wrong; Christian would rather have Safi in his life and never admit his feelings out loud than to lose the man entirely; his friendship was worth more than the ache caused by those unrequited feelings. And if everyone could respect him enough to allow him to make decisions for himself, then he wouldn’t be in this state in the first place.

If you figure it out, let me know.”

Chris shook his head with another heavy sigh, “I just… Is it really so bad? To just want it to stop? I could be happy being his friend then. I could… I just want to be happy with what I have. It should be enough, Steve. It’s not like he told me to leave and never come back. I should be relieved that he still wants me around.”
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Marvel-616 Universe

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#18
Christian gives him a shy smile that Steve returns. It's nice to see Christians mood improving, however slight. "Maybe someday you can teach me how to make them," Steve says.

Steve keeps eating. He hopes he's actually helping by being here. He wonders if it will be possible to convince Christian to catch a few hours of sleep on the couch before going back. The man can not go to work without getting at least a little sleep. But Steve suspects that if Christian is going to get any rest he needs to get out at least some of his emotions regarding Safi. Thankfully it appears that Christian is opening up to him.

“I just… Is it really so bad? To just want it to stop? I could be happy being his friend then. I could… I just want to be happy with what I have. It should be enough, Steve. It’s not like he told me to leave and never come back. I should be relieved that he still wants me around.”

"Of course it's not a bad thing to want the pain to stop, but we don't always get to control how we feel about things...or people," Steve says, "and Safi should feel lucky that he has a great friend in you. And if he had told you that he didn't want you around than he wouldn't have been worth half the time or effort you've given him."

Steve knows that Safi isn't a bad guy. He has a level of respect for the man after hearing about his similar health history and desire to join the military, even if being around him was sort of like staring into an uncomfortable fun house mirror. However, Safi also frustrates him to no end. Safi doesn't have to return Christian's feelings, but pretending that everything is fine when Christian is hurting and making Christian feel like he needs to just be grateful that Safi doesn't hate him after finding out about a crush is just cold.
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Nyte

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#19
It was nice to be told you weren’t a pest or a bother, even if you didn’t think it was true, it was still nice to hear. But Christian didn’t doubt Steve’s words, because he was Steve Rogers, and because he was trustworthy. Teach Steve how to make lemon pancakes? Chris blinked, “Oh, um, sure… They’re not all that hard, really, judging how much flavor to put into them is the hardest part.

The problem with catching a few hours of sleep on the couch was that he would be just as likely to fall into a nightmare here than at home. Maybe even more likely.

One of the reasons that Christian refused to blame Safi for how he was hurting was because he knew that Safi wasn’t just choosing to not love him back. It hadn’t been a choice, for either of them. Yes, it hurt. Yes, Christian was a mess. But Safi was still his friend, he hadn’t pushed Chris away or started acting like anything was wrong between them. And that meant that Safi was doing his level best to make it work, even knowing how Chris felt, and not feeling the same way. “I know, Steve. If we could just choose how we feel, then either I could choose not to care about Safi like I do, or he could choose to care about me.” Steve’s words earned him a look filled with surprise, “I’m not so great a friend, Steve… I mean, sure I can cook, but I babble. A lot. And I’m funny about food and what I make. And I don’t… I don’t really know how to be a friend.” He shrugged, dismissing the admission as quickly as he made it. “Safi’s been an excellent friend. Made sure I don’t have to go to Gotham alone, he looks after me and protects me…”

He looked down at the table; he knew that Steve and Safi didn’t get along so well. He wasn’t stupid or that naive, even if he were hopeful. But still… Safi has been one of the best friends Christian’s ever had. One of the only real friends Christian has ever really had. “I can tell him nearly anything,” nearly, because there’d been one secret he hadn’t wanted to reveal, the obvious one, the one that had caused all of the problems between them lately, “And even if it’s not something he’d normally be okay with, he accepts it. And that… That’s a rare thing, Steve. A friend who accepts everything and doesn’t walk away. Who can have conversations with you about cake icing or color schemes, even though those aren’t really his interests. Who you can tell a secret to, the sort of secret that would get you into trouble with other people, something you’re maybe ashamed about or afraid of, and he tells you it’s okay, that even if he doesn’t like it, or doesn’t understand it, or is even a little hurt by it, that that’s okay, because it’s you and he knows you... I’ve never had anyone like that before other than Belle, but that’s Safi, Steve, and…” He blinked away tears, “And I just want to have that. Even if that's all it ever is, that's something I want."
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Marvel-616 Universe

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#20
"Babbling is far from the worst trait you can have." Steve says. Bucky had been a talkative kid, but he was also brave, loyal, and selfless. Steve considered those much more important qualities in a friend than how talkative one was. It was heartbreaking to hear Christian explain why his quirks made him a bad friend, as if everyone else didn't have quirks of their own.

Christian lists off all the reasons Safi is a great friend, his eyes welling up with tears. Steve cleans up the table as he thinks about what yo say next. It seems that Christian has what he wants; Safi is still his friend and hasn't pulled away after finding out about the crush, but obviously Christian is still miserable.

"Would talking to Safi help? He's proven that even after finding out about your crush he still wants to be your friend and you said he's been accepting of you." Steve says. Steve tries to put himself in Christian's shoes, but it's difficult. He doesn't have a lot of experience with friendship to draw on. Arnie and Bucky were always his main sources of friendship. And though both of those friendships are technically over (Bucky's because of Bucky's death and Arnie's because Steve isn't sure if Arnie is alive anymore) neither of those friendships ended because of feelings running wild. He can't imagine either of them ending a friendship over something like this though. He also doubts Safi would either. Yet Christian seems terrified of the possibility and he does know Safi better than Steve does. Steve gives a tiny sigh. He's really out of practice with the whole concept of friendship.
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