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Steve was always observant.  Heightened supersoldier-senses aside, he always had an eye for detail.  As such, it was no surprise that after a mere two weeks of living in Avengers Tower, he noticed a number of surprising quirks and habits that his teammates had.   

For instance, it was actually Bruce—not Tony—who gave the team more grief about keeping a healthy work schedule.  Sure, the man could be the voice of reason when Tony, Clint, and Thor had really stupid and reckless ideas, but trying to get him out of his lab was harder than keeping Tony away from caffeine. 

He learned about Clint‘s adamant refusal to eat soggy cereal, and his preference for 2% milk.  He learned that Natasha liked to cut her spaghetti because of the mess that sometimes resulted in twirling it.  He learned that Thor has had an obsession with Motown ever since Erik Selvig introduced him to it (he likes to sing to The Supremes in the shower).  He learned that Tony drank a double-shot of espresso in the morning, a cappuccino in the afternoon, and a cup of decaf with cream and one sugar before bed.  

He knew that Bruce and Natasha collectively stocked an entire kitchen cabinet with herbal teas, but they hated any blends that were overwhelming fruity.  He knew Thor had a small library in his room of books by his favorite authors that he liked to reread in his spare time.  He knew Tony secretly enjoyed watching soap operas (or mocking them, same difference), and that Clint spent Thursday afternoons at the local animal shelter.

Steve was glad that living at StarkAvengers Tower gave him the opportunity to see all of his teammates in a different light. 

Including Tony Stark.

Sure, they didn’t get off on the right foot, and while Loki’s staff was partly to blame, Steve knew that he could’ve tried a little harder to get to know the other man first.

No, Tony wasn’t the egotistic, selfish asshole that Steve initially made him out to be.  In fact, Tony turned out to be quite the opposite.  

Yes, he was flashy and loud, and never ashamed to show off his brilliance (as off-putting as it could be at times).  He talked too much, worked too hard, and wasn’t afraid to tell people off.

But Steve had heard of Tony’s offer to fly Phil to Portland to see his cellist friend, and Pepper had told him about the ‘giant bunny incident.’  He knew that Tony had worked day and night to ensure everyone at his company could keep their jobs after shutting down weapons manufacturing; he knew about all of the work the man did for Fury before he got full-time ‘Avenger’ status, and knew that the team that found Steve in the arctic almost two years ago was funded by none other than Stark Industries (he also learned that Tony had been vehemently opposed to Fury’s fake 1940’s recovery room set up).   

Steve knew that it was wrong for him to have judged Tony before even formally meeting him, and even more wrong to make those accusations before getting to know him.

There was more to Tony Stark than just his standoffish exterior: beneath the mask was a man who always went above and beyond what was ever needed or expected of him.  He was a man who didn’t have very many friends, but revered the ones that he did have.

So it took a while for Steve to realize that Tony Stark wasn’t the flippant asshole he tried to make himself out to be.  He wasn’t the public figure that smirked at the cameras, and told off paparazzi and government officials, and he wasn’t just a man in a suit. 

Steve was one of very few people who knew that the real Tony Stark was thoughtful and selfless, and genuinely cared about others.

The problem? The man was absolute shit at showing it.

~ ~ ~

“Is this really necessary?” Bruce asked, warily eyeing the painting on the wall.

Steve was almost positive that the size of the work would actually constitute it as a mural

“Of course, it’s necessary,” Tony said. “What kind of team would we be without a commissioned portrait of ourselves?”  Hands on his hips, he looked up at the painting with a strangely proud smile.  “Besides, I look pretty damn good in it.”

“Does every team have giant creepy paintings of themselves in their living rooms?” Clint asked skeptically.  He looked like he was debating the merits of shooting a few arrows into the eight-foot-tall canvas.  “When did you even get this done?  We’ve never posed for a photo.  Ever.”

“I had JARVIS render something for the artist.”

“I don’t know whether to feel embarrassed that yet another portrait of me exists, or offended that you didn’t ask for our permission first,” Steve said, looking at the painting with a critical eye.  He could appreciate a fine piece of art, of course, and it was very well done, but Steve thought he was finally done with giant paintings of himself when he moved out of DC.

Natasha snorted. “I think you’re just offended that Stark didn’t ask you to paint it.”

Thor turned away from the painting to face Steve. “You are gifted in the arts?” he inquired.

“I wouldn’t say that…” Steve replied; he still wasn’t comfortable with talking about himself.  It was just a hobby back then, barely enough to pay the bills. 

“Cap here used to draw for the comics,” Tony chimed in.  Steve glanced over at Tony to see that the other man wasn’t even looking at him. “He even helped write the stories of his own comic book during the war.”

“That was, uh…”

“They were pretty cool,” Clint added, “I read them as a kid.”

“That is most impressive!” 

Steve felt his face heat up from all of the attention. “It’s really isn’t—”

“Do you paint as well?” Thor pressed.

Steve shrugged.  “Occasionally… I mostly just sketched, or worked with charcoal.  Paints were expensive—still are—but moreso back then.”

Thor nodded in understanding. “Perhaps you can paint a portrait of our team; when you have the time, of course.”

“Maybe.”  Steve glanced at Tony again, but immediately looked away when he realized Tony was staring at him intently. “You really don’t think this is a little over the top?” Steve asked, changing the topic.

“I can take it down if you guys really don’t like it,” Tony said, his tone defeated.  The others made non-committal noises, but Steve saw that he was frowning slightly. “I was trying to figure out a way to make this place more home-y, but we can definitely find something else.”

“No, you know what?” Steve interjected.  “It’s fine.”

Tony looked at him disbelievingly. “You don’t have to appease me or anything just because you live under my roof now, Rogers—”

Steve shook his head. “No, really.  It’s fine.  It’s just… I just wasn’t expecting to walk into this tower and see that, that’s all.”

Natasha caught the look Steve was giving her and coughed to get Tony’s attention. “Being immortalized in a painting is pretty cool, isn’t it?” she mused, subtly elbowing Clint’s side.

“Wha—Oh, uh, yeah.  I do look pretty dashing, I guess.”

“I guess after the initial shock of seeing the other guy painted on a canvas wears off, it looks rather… majestic,” Bruce added.

Tony appraised the rest of his team.  “You’re all full of shit.” 

Steve was glad to hear no accusatory tone in his voice.  In fact, he sounded amused.

“I like it,” Thor confessed, to the surprise of no one in the room.

“Of course you do.” Clint rolled his eyes. “You and your ancestors have been the subject of thousands of years’ worth of art.”

“Keep it,” Steve said to Tony. “Just, next time, ask us before you do something this…”

“Excessive?” Tony offered. “Ostentatious?”

“Extravagant,” Steve finished.

“I can do that.”

~ ~ ~

“Tony?” 

“Yeah?”

“Why is there a life-size marble bust of Natasha in the hallway?”

Tony was sitting on the couch lazily flipping through the channels. “Don’t worry, there’s one of you and the rest of the team too.”

Steve rubbed his temples. “You don’t happen to remember the conversation we all had a few days ago, do you?”

Tony looked at him worriedly. “What?  Is it too much?” 

Stark!” 

Natasha’s bark was answer enough for the both of them.

~ ~ ~

“Morning, Cap,” Tony idly greeted as Steve shuffled into the kitchen.

Steve huffed a response as he grabbed a mug from the cupboard and poured himself a cup of coffee.  He knew the caffeine wouldn’t really have an effect on him, but he still found comfort in the drink.  It was a reminder of Sunday mornings spent at the diner with Bucky after Mr. and Mrs. Barnes dragged them to Sunday mass.

Steve quirked an eyebrow at the astonished look on Tony’s face. “What?”

“Nothing,” Tony replied. “I just thought you were a morning person.”

Steve took a sip of the scorching hot liquid before replying, “Not on Sundays.”

The other man nodded in understanding. “I guess even super soldiers need their day of rest, huh?”

Steve hummed in agreement. “When did you get up?”

“I didn’t actually uh, sleep,” Tony admitted. “Couldn’t.”

“Oh.”  This was far from the first time they ran into each other after a restless night, and Steve knew better than to inquire any further; what Tony needed was a distraction. “You hungry?” he asked instead.

“Sure,” Tony responded, looking back down at his tablet.  He was playing around with some plans for some sort of vehicle: it looked too large to be another suit.

Steve scoured the cabinets for a pan to fry some eggs in, but stumbled upon a waffle iron instead.  “Hey, JARVIS, do we have any waffle mix?”

“Indeed, Captain.  There should be a box in the top left cabinet by the refrigerator.”

Steve thanked the AI and busied himself with the waffles, measuring out the ingredients and mixing the batter.  It wasn’t until he was waiting for the batter to cook that he took his first real look at Tony that morning.

Or rather, what he was wearing.

Tony must have felt Steve’s gaze because he looked up from his tablet.  “What?  Do I have something on my face?” he asked, frowning.

Steve shook his head, but his gaze didn’t drift from the dark robe that Tony was wearing.  “No, just… that robe looks awfully familiar,” he said, studying the intricate gold embroidery.

A flicker of something unidentifiable flashed in Tony’s eyes, but it disappeared before Steve could try to decipher it.  “It’s a robe,” he said, getting up for some more coffee. “There are hundreds of thousands of styles out there. You probably saw it in a store window or something.”

“I guess,” Steve replied, knowing a dismissal when he heard one.  He took the waffle off of the iron, put it on a plate, and held it out for the other man.

Tony eyed the plate cautiously. “Uh, I don’t…”

Steve furrowed his brow in concern.  “You don’t what?  Is something wrong?”

Tony glanced at Steve‘s face before looking back at the plate again. “No, it’s… It’s nothing,” he said.  He practically snatched the plate from Steve’s hand before sitting back down at the table.

“So…” Steve started.  “I was thinking that we could all go to a show today.”

“A show?”

“Yeah, it could be our first team bonding thing.”

Tony snorted. “Captain America wants to initiate team bonding activities.  Why am I not surprised?”

Steve shrugged.  “I think it’d be fun.  Thor’s wanted to see a live musical ever since Clint made us watch West Side Story, and don’t tell Natasha I told you this, but she’s a huge Rogers and Hammerstein fan.”

Tony grinned. “So our little assassin is secretly a thespian.  Who knew?”  He polished off the rest of his waffle. “JARVIS?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Find six tickets for Once.”

So Steve rounded up the rest of the team after breakfast, and after putting on their best disguises, made the trek over to the Theater District.

The rest of the afternoon was more-or-less what Steve had predicted: Clint and Bruce ended up falling asleep halfway through the show, and Steve noticed a misty-eyed Natasha mouthing the words along to the reprise of “Falling Slowly.” 

Tony was a surprise, though.  Steve had half-expected him to fall asleep, and half-expected him to be constantly checking his phone.   But despite the occasional vibrations signaling new notifications, Tony never took out his phone.  His eyes were glued to the performance for the entire duration of the show (in fact, he only took his phone out on one occasion during their whole outing, and it was to take a selfie of the entire team outside of the theater). 

Afterwards, Thor brought it upon himself to buy everyone a t-shirt, and spent the entire walk home singing the entire soundtrack (and if anyone noticed Natasha quietly harmonizing every now and then, no one brought it up).

All in all, Steve considered it a success.

~

…until the Wrecking Crew decided it was a perfect time to attack the Theater District.

“Evacuate the civilians!” Steve barked, blocking a particularly brutal kick from Bulldozer. 

“I’m guessing this wasn’t supposed to be part of our team bonding today?” Natasha remarked. “Where the hell is the Fantastic Four?  Or that Spider kid?” she asked, jumping back just in time to avoid the Wrecker’s crowbar.  Clint took the opportunity to jump over him and kick him in the face.

“Iron Man, did you call them?” Steve asked.  He, Clint, and Natasha had to rely on hand-to-hand combat since they were caught without any weapons.  Fortunately, they still had two heavy hitters: Thor could summon Mjolnir from any location, and Tony had been wearing his bracelets for his latest armor.  Bruce was trying to herd civilians away from the scene, refusing to unleash the Hulk unless absolutely necessary.

Steve hoped it wouldn’t come down to that.

“Richards says they’re stuck in another dimension,” Tony informed as he surveyed the scene below him. “Spider-Man just finished up with a bank robbery, but he’s coming from Brooklyn, so who knows how long it’ll take for him to get here.”

“Cut the chatter and surrender already!” Thunderball yelled as he lunged for Thor.

“It is not in our style to surrender to pathetic weaklings such as yourself,” Thor quipped before sending him flying into a dumpster. 

“Great job, Thor,” Clint said when Thor arrived to help him and Natasha, “because what three unarmed Avengers need are even angrier superhumans enchanted by Asgardian magic.”

“My apologies.”  

Clint scowled. “You don’t sound apologetic at all.”

“I am not,” Thor confirmed before striking the Wrecker with lightning. “The Wrecker and Thunderball are subdued for now,” he announced when the former fell to the ground in a heap.

“Bulldozer’s down, too” Steve replied. “Someone try to get in touch with Spider-Man again.” 

“The police better get here soon,” Clint said, “They won’t stay that way for long.  Where’s Spidey with his webs when you need him?”

“Is there any sign of Piledriver?”

“No, th—On your six, Cap!”

Steve turned just in time to see Iron Man fire a repulsor blast at the villain. “Thanks.”

Tony retracted his faceplate after landing next to Steve. “No problem.  Since family time got cut short, how about we all go to dinner?  I’m in the mood for pizza.  What about yo—”

Steve’s eyes widened when he noticed Bulldozer regain consciousness. “Tony, look out!” he yelled before pushing the man out of the way.  He took the brunt of the villain’s headbutt, sending him directly into the closest building.

~

“You idiot!” Tony reproved. “If you weren’t lying on a hospital bed, I’d kill you myself.”

Steve just closed his eyes and leaned back on the bed, trying to block out the bright lights of the room. “Oh, how the tables have turned,” he mumbled.  

“You almost died—”

“But I didn’t.”  

Tony seated himself in the plastic chair next to the bed and chose to scowl at the IV connected to Steve’s arm instead. “You have four broken ribs and a concussion.”

“They’ll heal,” Steve said stubbornly.  

“The serum can’t heal everything!”

“Well, it’s doing just fine now so shush,” he said, no heat in his words.  He had a massive headache and Tony’s yelling wasn’t helping in the slightest. 

Tony gaped. “How are you so calm about this?  Bulldozer just headbutted you into the Lyceum Theater.  Do you know how thick that skull of his is?”

Steve finally turned to look at him. “I have a vague idea,” he responded, drily.

“This isn’t the time for jokes, Steven.”

“Oh, that’s rich coming from you,” Steve responded.  

Tony sat back and studied his bruised face for a few moments before asking: “Why did you do it?”

Steve looked at him incredulously. “You’re seriously asking me that?”

“I had the suit.”

“Yeah, well his head would’ve just smashed it in and you would’ve had internal bleeding,” Steve stated.  

Tony wanted to argue that the armor could’ve taken it, but he didn’t want to admit that he hadn’t had a chance to test it on anything as hard as the Bulldozer’s helmet. Yet. “You didn’t have to do that.” Tony clenched his fists, his nails digging into his palms almost hard enough to bleed. “You didn’t have to put yourself in harm’s way like that.”   

Steve gave him an appraising look before shrugging his shoulders. “You would’ve done the same for me.”

“How do you know that?”

“You’re my friend.”

~

Steve managed to charm his way into an early check-out from the hospital.  He had expected Natasha or one of the SHIELD cars to pick him up, so he was shocked to find Tony waiting outside by his Rolls Royce.  Tony wordlessly opened the passenger door and ushered him inside before Steve could so much as utter a ‘hello.’

The ride back to the tower was excruciating: Tony drove so cautiously that Steve was half-tempted to get out of the car and walk back himself.  He was sorely tempted to say something, but he bit his tongue.  Tony was furious with him as it was—he didn’t need any more ammunition.

There was a small crowd of reporters outside the tower, but Tony ignored them, seamlessly pulling into the garage and parking the car next to Steve’s bike.  They sat in the car for a few moments, Tony’s hands still gripping the steering wheel.

“I’m sorry,” Steve said, “You had every right to yell at me.  I wasn’t thinking anything except that you were going to get hurt and…”

Tony shook his head and sighed. “I know.  I didn’t mean to yell, I just… All that kept going through my head was that I—we—could’ve lost you.”

“You’re not getting rid of me that easily,” Steve said with a small smile.

Tony smiled back. “Good.”

~

An old, but well-preserved, photo album turned up in Steve’s room a few days later.  It was tucked away in the bookcase by his desk, but Steve was certain that it hadn’t been there before.

Curiosity getting the best of him, he leafed through the pages, and upon seeing the dates of the photos, he realized that the album must have belonged to Howard. 

He froze when got to a photo about halfway into the book.

It was a candid of all of the Howling Commandos, including Peggy, Howard, and Colonel Phillips, on one of their very few days off.  They were stationed in France that night, and Bucky, Jim, Gabe and Howard thought it would be a brilliant idea to get rip-roaring drunk on some questionable wine.  The aforementioned were draped across the card table in various states of drunkenness, while everyone else looked on with a mixture of amusement and disapproval.

There were so many details in the photo that Steve could have fixated on: everyone’s smiles, Peggy’s hand on his arm, the Cuban cigar balanced between Dum Dum’s fingers, the obvious closeness they all shared…

At that moment, however, Steve could only focus on one particular detail in the photo: the dark, gold-embroidered robe haphazardly thrown around Howard’s shoulders.

~ ~ ~

“Uh… Tony?”

“Yeah?”

“Why is there a bronze copy of Michelangelo’s David in the lobby?”

“That isn’t the statue of David,” Tony said, frantically scribbling numbers on his tablet. “It’s Clint.”

“Clint,” Steve said dubiously.

“Yep.”

“Wait, so that giant rock by the elevator—”

“Is the Hulk, yeah.” Tony paused and looked up from his work. “Still too much?”

“A bit.”

~ ~ ~

Tony threw himself on the couch, the sudden movement jostling Steve’s hand enough to mess up the shading of his sketch.  Steve just erases the mistake and begins shading in the shape again.

“Is that me?” Tony asked, looking over Steve’s shoulder.

“No, it’s another genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist that lives here.”

“You better be careful, Rogers, or people might start thinking you actually have a sense of humor.”

“I’ve been told that I’m pretty fucking hilarious, actually,” Steve said, deadpan.

Tony stared at him blankly for a few seconds before bursting into laughter. “You… you’re something else, Steve.”  He took the safety goggles off his head and carelessly tossed them in the direction of his workbench, missing the surface by a couple of feet.  “JARVIS, order a couple pizzas for us?”

“Of course, sir.  Shall I request an order for garlic knots as well?”

“What kind of question is that, J?  Have I ever been known to refuse garlic knots?”

“My apologies.  ETA for pizza is thirty minutes.”

“Thanks, J—Hey!  Dummy, stop it!  Don’t put that there, that’s—!” Tony was abruptly cut off when half of the objects on the workbench fell to the floor.

The robot made a pathetic whining noise.

“Oh, stop looking so guilty.  You knew exactly what you were doing.”

Steve put his sketchpad down and walked over to pet Dummy’s arm.

“Stop coddling him, Rogers,” Tony ordered, leering at the robot.  “He needs to learn a lesson.”

“You need to stop being so mean to him, Tony.  He’s just trying to help.”

“Yeah, well it would help if he actually learned how to clean up messes instead of making them bigger.”  Tony picked up Steve’s sketchbook and looked through the pages of sketches of the Natasha, Clint, Thor, Bruce, Sam, and even Tony, Dummy, and Butterfingers. “You’re a real good artist, Steve.  Dummy actually looks somewhat intelligent in this one.”

“He doesn’t mean that, Dummy,” Steve assured.  He patted the bot’s arm once more before sitting back down on the couch.  He watched Tony trace the lines of his latest sketch.  “If he’s such a problem, why don’t you reprogram him?” Steve asked, even though he already knew the answer.

Tony’s fingers froze over the page.

Steve stole a glance at the bot as it tried to put all of the fallen items back on the table.

Tony let out a shaky breath.  “He wouldn’t be Dummy.”

Steve looked back just in time to see Tony rub his eyes.

“Can I—” The other man’s voice broke a little.  “Can I keep this?”

Steve gently pried the sketchbook out of Tony’s hand.  He signed the drawing and carefully ripped out the page before wordlessly handing it to him.

~

“You framed it?” Steve asked the next day, after noticing the sketch hanging by the bots’ charging stations.

Tony spared him a thoughtful glance before resuming his work.  “Dummy insisted.” 

“…right.”

~ ~ ~

Clint fidgeted with his shirt collar. “Why are we here again?”

“It’s for the kids,” Natasha replied, taking a sip of her wine.  

“I don’t see how dressing up like penguins and eating overpriced food helps kids.”

“It doesn’t,” Bruce said, trying hard not to look too bored as he stirred his drink.

“C’mon, guys, it ain’t that bad,” Steve assured. “Look, Thor’s having a good time,” he added, gesturing to the blond man animatedly telling stories to a small crowd.

“It’s Thor,” Bruce pointed out.

Steve scanned the room, looking for anything that seemed even remotely interesting.  He had to admit that events such as this also bored him to tears, but as team leader, he couldn’t let that show.  While Thor was still telling battle stories, Natasha, Clint and Bruce appeared to be in deep conversation.  Tony was, of course, at the center of the room surrounded by throngs of people; his voice a perfect accompaniment to the live jazz band playing on stage.  

He had no idea why Pepper told them all go to the function since it was mainly him and Tony that had to go to these events.  It was a good organization (he had JARVIS research it for him), but the team would have preferred to visit the sick children themselves.  None of them had any real business being there, except Tony of course, but Steve knew that he was always just as enthused as the rest of the team about going to any public functions.

Usually, Steve and Tony would hang back and keep each other company, trying to avoid prolonged, unpleasant conversations with the attendees.  They would people watch until it was time for Tony to make whatever speech he had lined up for that night, and maybe linger for a few minutes after until they made an excuse about Avengers business and leave before the hors d’oeuvres were even served.  

All Steve wanted was to have Tony at his side, helping him fend off the high-society ladies that almost seemed to gravitate towards him, and reassuring him that the night was almost over.  He wanted to hear Tony’s incessant chatter, needed it to calm his nerves whenever he was paraded around like this.  Unfortunately, some big-shot engineer or another had practically dragged Tony away the second the team stepped into the room.

With a sigh, Steve gestured to the bartender for another ginger ale.  

“Fancy meeting you here.”

Steve turned around at the familiar voice. “Tony?”  His voice most certainly did not crack: he was just surprised that the man still wasn’t schmoozing the crowd he was with not two minutes ago.

“Enjoying yourself?”

"Of course, I am.

"You're a terribly liar, y'know that?"

“I’m fine, Tony,” Steve said, sounding unconvincing to even himself.

Tony made a non-committal noise but nodded anyway. “You meet anyone that strikes your fancy?”

“Not really, no.”

“I noticed you caught the attention of quite a few young ladies,” Tony remarked. “Surprised you didn’t take up any of their offers for a dance, though.”

Steve shrugged. “Not interested,” he said, feeling no need to elaborate—he already told Tony about his missed date with Peggy.

“What about that guy over there?” Tony asked, inconspicuously gesturing towards a young brunet man wearing a charcoal suit. “He’s been making eyes at you all night.”

“Nope.”

“The redhead by the wine bar?”

“No, thanks.”

“How about—”

No, Tony—”

“What about me?”

“I said n—wait, what?” Steve gaped.

Tony extended his hand, a playful smile on his lips. “Dance with me.”  

Steve’s gaze flitted from Tony’s face to his hand, and back again.  “But I’ve never…”

“I know.”

Steve still eyed him skeptically. “I’ll step on your toes.”

Tony grabbed his hand anyway and led him towards the dance floor. “It’ll be worth it.”

~ ~ ~

“Tony, no.  Stop—Not here—oh.”  Steve groaned when Tony bit down on his collarbone.

“Why not here?” Tony murmured against his skin.  “I could get down on my knees,” he suggested, his fingers resting above the button of Steve’s jeans.  “I could—”

“Tony,” Steve warned before pushing him against the wall of the elevator.

“I just—” Tony’s breath hitched when Steve slotted a leg between his, “I want to show my appreciation for our lovely date,” he insisted. “To thank you for taking me on the best first date I’ve ever had—”

Steve cupped Tony’s face and brought their lips together.  He gasped when Tony swiped his tongue across his bottom lip and deepened it.  Steve felt the near-painful grip of Tony’s hands as they clutched their shoulders and tried to find some sort of leverage; Steve was sure that man would’ve been on the floor if Steve’s body wasn’t pinning him to the wall already.  

They were so immersed in the kiss that they failed to hear JARVIS tell them they finally arrived at the communal floor of the tower; failed to notice the elevator doors open, or Clint and Thor waiting outside the doors with devious smirks on their faces.

“Awww, how nice,” Clint cooed, and that was all the warning the couple got before Thor snapped a photo on his camera.

The couple broke apart at the bright camera flash, choosing to glare at their teammates instead.  However, given their disheveled appearance, it wasn’t very effective.

“Are Mom and Dad home yet?” Natasha called out, her eyes still glued to the Say Yes to the Dress rerun playing on the television.

Steve blinked in confusion. “Mom and—”

“Yes, we are,” Tony announced, playing along and tugging Steve out of the elevator. “And did our lovely children behave while we were gone?”

Steve’s cheeks took on a slightly rosy hue at their teammates’ nicknames for them.

Bruce looked up from his book, the expression on his face clearly unimpressed.  “You two aren’t really our parents, y’know.  Regardless of how much we may joke about it.”

“Don’t sass your mother like that,” Steve joined in, making Thor and Clint double over in laughter, and Natasha to choke on her soda.

“Excuse me?” Tony cut in, mildly offended.  “Why am I the mother?”

“Well, it can’t be Steve,” Clint said, as if pointing it out as the most obvious thing in the world.

Tony scowled.  “And why not?  He’s such a mother hen; why is he the dad?”

“I can be the mother if you’re that insecure about your masculinity, Tony,” Steve teased, pulling the other man into his embrace and kissing his cheek.

Tony fought a smile as he half-heartedly pushed him away, but not before Thor snapped another photo.

“I’m really beginning to regret giving you that Polaroid,” Tony muttered.

“I’m glad you did,” Thor said cheekily. 

“Any reason you’re hounding Steve and I like the paparazzi tonight?”

“I enjoy being able to take mementos of important milestones in our lives.  ‘Tis your first outing as a real couple!” Thor reminded. “That in itself is enough cause for celebration.”

“Um…”

“We are very happy for you two,” Thor said earnestly.  

Tony nervously cleared his throat. “Uh, thanks?”

Steve directed a smile at him and squeezed his hand in reassurance.

Thor turned his attention to the photos in his hand. “These are magnificent.”

Clint leaned over to look at the mostly developed photos in Thor‘s hand. “They really are,” he agreed.

Steve felt his face heat when Thor held the photos out.  “They, um.  They are rather… cute?” he tried.

“Cute’s an understatement,” Clint said. “They’re fucking adorable.”

The first photo was of the two of them in the elevator: because Thor managed to only capture them from the neck up, it looked a lot more family-friendly than it really was.  The second photo, however, was probably what Clint and Thor were getting so excited over: Steve had both of arms wrapped around Tony, the other man laughing as Steve kissed his cheek.

Steve stole a glance at the man whose hand was still in his own: he was studying the photos, but the expression on his face was unreadable.  

“Would you two like them?” Thor offered.

Steve shook his head. “No, it’s okay.”  He didn’t need them, not when he had the real thing.

…and a couple sketchbooks filled with pages upon pages of Tony, but no one else really had to know that.  

Thor nodded and then looked at Tony expectantly.

“I’m not one to keep photos,” Tony replied nonchalantly.

“Yeah, just giant paintings of yourself,” Clint retorted.  

“Very well, I shall keep them here for now,” Thor said, placing them on the table, “just in case you decide to keep one after all.”

“Yeah, thanks but no thanks,” Tony replied dismissively, but Thor just gave him a slightly amused look.

“All right, kids,” Steve said, dragging Tony out of the room, “your parents are going to bed, so don’t stay up too long.”

“Yes, dad,” they all chorused, making Steve laugh, and Tony only huff in annoyance.

“I am not the nurturing type,” Tony protested.

Steve wanted to tell him otherwise, but he decided against it.  “Did you really have fun tonight?” Steve asked once they entered Tony’s room and shut the door.  “You can be honest,” he added. “I know you’re probably used to more uh, upscale things.  Something fancier than some silly boardwalk games and—”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Tony said, cutting him off with a chaste kiss. “Of course I had fun.”

“Really?”

“It wouldn’t have mattered what we did because I was with you.”

Steve was still unconvinced, and it must have shown on his face, because Tony just shook his head and linked their hands together.  

“I had fun,” Tony said sincerely. “I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed myself that much.”

“What about—”

“Best night,” Tony said, cutting him off with a chaste kiss. “Ever.”

“…you know, the night’s still young,” he said, gently pushing Tony onto the bed.

“You mean our date isn’t over?” Tony said, feigning surprise. “What else did you have planned?”

“A few things,” Steve replied before capturing Tony’s lips with his.

~

The next day, Tony took him to the movies.

Steve pretended not to notice the Polaroid sticking out of Tony’s wallet when they got their tickets.

~ ~ ~

“Why is there a mobile in the library of Thor storm-chasing?” 

“He’s chasing after Loki,” Tony corrected.

Steve sighed.

~ ~ ~

“All right,” Bruce said, setting the turkey at the center of the table. “Dinner is served.”

Finally,” Clint said, reaching for his fork.

“Shouldn’t we say something first?” Natasha suggested, swatting Clint’s hand. “It’s Thanksgiving, after all.”

“That’s a good idea,” Steve agreed.  He turned to the man sitting at the head of the table. “Would you like to do the honors, Tony?”

Tony’s choked on his water. “Wh—what?  Why me?”

“It is because of you that we are all here together,” Thor replied.

Tony coughed. “Uh… I’m good.  I don’t really…” he trailed off.

“May I proceed, then?” Thor asked, and everyone nodded in agreement.

“Go ahead, Thor,” Bruce said, sitting down at the last empty chair.  

“Very well.”  Thor picked up his wine glass and got up from his seat.  “I am very thankful to be here, sharing this feast with such admirable companions on this holiday.  We would not be here were it not for Tony’s generosity and willingness to take in such a group of unique individuals.  I am very grateful to know you all, and proud to be fighting alongside you.”  He took a moment to glance at everyone at the table before smiling. "And I am truly humbled and thankful to call you my ‘family.’” He raised his glass. “So, I would like to make a toast: to family.”

“To family,” the others chorused as they raised their glasses.

Tony remained relatively silent for the duration of the meal—only speaking if asked a direct question.

It wasn’t until after dinner, when the team was seated around the television watching Grumpy Old Men that Tony spoke without prompting:

“So what’s everyone doing for Christmas?” 

~ ~ ~

Steve knew something was off the moment he stepped out of the elevator. 

“Hi, honey,” Tony greeted from the couch. “How was your meeting?”  Days of Our Lives was playing on the television, which didn’t surprise Steve one bit.

“It was fine,” Steve replied. “Tony, what—” He stopped in his tracks when he realized what was so different about the room. “Where did the mural go?”

“Pepper had it moved into storage,” Tony replied, focusing his attention back to the show.

Steve made his way to the opposite wall, examining the single photo that had now taken the mural’s place: it was taken Christmas morning, with all of the Avengers piled on a large arm chair.  They were still in their pajamas and wearing ridiculous themed hats, wrapping paper strewn at their feet.  Jane, who had been visiting, insisted that the team take a photo of their first Christmas together.  Clint, who was perched on the back of the chair, and Thor, who was standing behind it, were giving each other bunny ears.  Natasha was seated on one of the arms; her feet dangling off the edge.  Bruce was sitting on the floor trying to clean up the mess of paper.  Steve sat in the middle with Tony on his lap. 

It was the only photo of them, Steve realized, that wasn’t staged or taken for some sort of publicity stunt.

“Too much?”

Steve looked over and realized that Tony had come over to stand next to him.  He glanced back at the photo, trying to formulate a response.

Tony sighed. “It’s still too much,” he said dejectedly. “I knew it.  I’ll find something, I swear—” Steve reached out and grabbed his arm. “Steve, what are you—”

That was all Tony was able to get out before Steve drew him in for a dizzying kiss.

“So… not too much?” Tony asked when they pulled away.

“It’s perfect, Tony,” Steve said, kissing his nose. “It’s perfect.”