The Avengers knew how to throw a party.
It had taken less than fifteen minutes to get the ball rolling, though considering Jan had been bouncing around like an over-excited puppy and Ororo was dancing even before they put any music on, it wasn't surprising.
Jarvis, once Tony and Steve had woken him to tell him the big news, had been thrilled, in that stoic, understated Jarvis way of his, and had insisted on dressing and coming upstairs to join the celebration. So there was food – better food than the popcorn and bags of chips Clint and Peter had set up. Steve didn't even know how they fit that many bags of chips in the cupboards, though considering how huge the kitchen in Avengers tower was…
There was booze, too, a surprising amount for such a last minute party. Steve and Tony didn't drink and most of the other Avengers had their own homes for all that it sometimes felt like they lived in Avengers Tower year round. Logan kept his beer in the fridge, of course, and Jan or Ororo would sometimes have a bottle of wine or some mixers, though those two usually kept the alcohol somewhere more discreet than the top shelf of the fridge, if only for Tony's sake. But they'd managed to scrounge up enough to get Clint seriously buzzed, and Jan and Ororo were well on their way to being completely smashed on whatever those bright, fruity drinks they liked so much were called. Hank was getting just tipsy enough to cuddle up with Jan, and Peter was sitting on one of the walls, stealing Logan's beer whenever he wasn't looking.
Steve wasn't crazy about parties or drinking or the type of music his teammates generally preferred, but he didn't mind so much tonight, watching them celebrate on his behalf. Watching his team, the people who had become his family. Watching Tony.
Tony was spinning back and forth from one teammate to another, every inch his usual vocal, gregarious self, buzzed on ridiculously complicated espresso drinks that Jarvis always seemed to have perfectly timed just as Tony decided he wanted another one. Steve had long considered the possibility that Jarvis had some kind of understated mutant power that gave him the ability to be inhumanly patient and anticipate Tony's every move.
As if summoned by Steve's thoughts, Tony appeared at his elbow. He slid one arm around Steve's waist and leaned against him and Steve reciprocated by wrapping his arm over Tony's shoulders and pulling him closer. Tony looked happy; pleased with himself and the world around him, expression fond and a little surprised as he watched their teammates celebrate. Steve had a ridiculous moment of disappointment that Tony wasn't looking at him that way, so he ducked his head and pressed a kiss against Tony's temple. When he pulled back, Tony turned to look at him and the fondness was still there in his smile, and a happiness that was so fragile Steve wanted to capture it and hold it there forever.
Tony wasn't happy often enough. If it made him look like this, Steve could propose every single night.
Instead he brushed a thumb over that smile, bent his head to kiss it. "Having fun?"
Tony tipped his head to the side and pretended to think about it. "I'd be having more fun if there was laser tag. And a live band. Or a king-sized bed," he decided, giving Steve a decidedly practiced, but no less authentic, leer.
And it was really hard to argue with that last point. Steve gave himself a firm mental shake and promised himself they'd correct that oversight later, when the party wound down and it would be polite to make their excuses. "Our friends do know how to celebrate, don't they?"
"We don't always have enough reasons to celebrate," Tony said. "The Avengers deal with a lot of bad situations, face a lot of difficult things, alone and together. When something good happens that affects the whole team, it can be a little cathartic."
Steve liked the way that sounded. They were a good thing.
"And it doesn't hurt that it came as such a surprise," Tony added, and Steve couldn't help the little frown that caused. "Something coming out of left field like that. Surprises always carry an emotional punch. Makes it even easier to let loose and celebrate."
That didn't sound as good.
Tony brushed his lips against Steve's almost absently. "Which reminds me, we should definitely talk. But first," he said, pulling out of Steve's embrace, "I need to go stop Clint from touching the valuable electronics."
Steve watched him go with a strange feeling in his chest. A surprise? Coming out of left field? We need to talk?
Part of Steve wanted to drag Tony off to have this promised talk, and the rest didn't want to cause a scene. Possibly some part didn't want to know what was wrong, but Steve wouldn't let that part speak up. He did want to know what was wrong. He did want to talk about it, because if they didn't he couldn't fix it or help Tony fix it or find someone else and punch them repeatedly until they fixed it. He hadn't planned to propose to Tony tonight (if he'd had the opportunity to plan the proposal there would have been more privacy, less potential for interruption by boisterous teammates, and much more ready access to aforementioned king-sized bed. Also probably a ring, because Steve was aware that he was a traditionalist who really, really liked the idea of Tony wearing his ring) but the moment had felt perfect, surrounded by their family. When Tony had said yes it had been even better, right, the best moment of Steve's life. Steve didn't want to ruin that perfection. He didn't want to find out that Tony had only said yes to avoid embarrassing him in front of the people he was supposed to be leading, or whatever. What did that even mean, we should talk?
And speaking of Tony, his boyfriend was headed his way with two champagne flutes full of sparkling cider. Tony pressed the flute into Steve's hand with a smile and leaned in for a quick kiss. "Clint wants to make a toast," Tony announced.
"Oh lord," Steve said, nervous now for a whole new reason. "Should we stop him?"
"I can't imagine why you'd want to do that," Tony said, leaning against the wall beside Steve, pressed comfortably against his side and not acting at all like he was preparing to let Steve down gently. "He's either going to say something ridiculously sappy, in which case we'll never let him live it down, or he's going to say something horribly offensive, in which case we'll hold it over his head for the rest of his life." He sipped his cider and watched Clint stagger to his feet. "Or he'll get drunk and fall on his face. It's a win for me no matter what happens."
Clint managed to stay on his feet and held his beer can up.
"Toast!" Jan cheered. "Toast!"
"I'm doing that, woman," Clint said. "Now shut up." He managed to dodge the rolled up napkins Jan and Ororo threw at his head with only the slightest stagger. "A toast! To Steve Rogers, the best man I've ever known. Thank god you got pulled out of the ice when you did, man, cause Stark'd be completely unbearable without you. And to Tony! You're not half as great as you think you are, but that suit is awesome man, really. I mean, shit blows up good, I love going on missions with you because it's never boring. I hope you guys are very happy and never, ever touch where I can see you because really, Steve probably could do better even if he doesn't want to."
"I'm touched," Steve said as Tony collapsed into breathless laughter beside him.
"Drink!" Jan ordered, pointing a finger at them.
Steve obliged, sipping at the cider, while Tony knocked his back like a shot and was off again, sprawling on the couch between Jan and Ororo while their resident fashionista mixed him another virgin of whatever she was drinking. Steve braced himself for an awkward conversation and started across the room, fully intending on getting Tony to talk about what was wrong.
Thor burst into the room like a clap of thunder, all swirling red cape and flowing hair, with Mjolnir in one hand and a huge keg of something over the opposite shoulder. Steve remembered some of the Asgardian brews Thor had exposed them to over the years and had to shake his head. The team was going to be absolutely useless in the morning. He made a mental note to leave a message for the Fantastic Four that the Avengers would be unreachable until at least afternoon.
"My friend," Thor greeted him. He set the keg down on the table with a heavy thud where it was promptly swarmed by Jan, Clint and Logan and turned to clasp Steve on the shoulder. "My most heartfelt congratulations!"
"Thanks, Thor. It means a lot."
"Tony!" Thor grabbed Tony around the shoulders in a one-armed hug. "I have attended few human wedding ceremonies over the years, and aside from a tendency to suffer super-villain attack and a great deal of panicking, I am unfamiliar with your customs. You must tell me of my duties as shield brother."
Tony looked intrigued. "What would your responsibilities be in an Asgardian ceremony?"
"To get you terrifically drunk," Thor said cheerfully, "and witness the consummation once the bride price was agreed upon."
"Huh," Tony said. "Well, I'm not specifically opposed to-"
"No witnesses," Steve said firmly.
Tony raised an eyebrow. "Not even Thor?"
"Not even if it was the only way to earn world peace," Steve said. "No offense, Thor."
"Oh well, I tried." Tony grinned up at Thor. "You should get a drink before Logan cleans you out. I think he's five seconds away from drinking straight from the tap."
"The cask tis enchanted," Thor said. There was a half-smile on his face and a gleam in his eye. "And I dare say even Logan's healing abilities will be sorely tasked to keep up with Asgardian brew." He clasped both their shoulders firmly, smiling when Tony staggered a little under the force of his grasp. "I am happy for you both."
Thor left to claim his fair share of the booze and Steve opened his mouth to say –something. Because they needed to talk, if only to figure out why they needed to talk. But Tony was off again before Steve could get a word out, claiming a dance with Ororo. Steve busied himself talking Logan out of killing Peter for being a beer thief – he literally had to talk Peter down off the ceiling. Clint was laughing too hard to be any help at all, and Hank had apparently hit his alcohol limit and was asleep on Jan's shoulder. Or he had been – he was slowly sliding toward her lap, but at the moment his face was planted firmly in her... chest. Jan didn't seem to mind at all.
He took a moment to shoot a message off to the Fantastic Four – only a little surprised when Reed turned out to be awake to receive it and respond, the man kept hours as crazy as Tony's – and was considering whether it would be impolite of him to bow out of a celebration in his honor so he could go brood in peace when Tony swung by and pressed a glass into his hand.
He took it automatically, noting that it was one of Jan's fruity things, but Tony was gone before Steve could thank him, making a beeline for the kitchen. Steve frowned a little as he lifted the glass, and the smell of alcohol hit him before it got anywhere close to his lips.
Steve set the glass down on the coffee table and followed Tony into the kitchen in time to see his lover spit a mouthful into the sink and gratefully accept the cup of coffee Jarvis handed him. He spat the first sip of that out, too, then gulped about half the cup, looking more unnerved than Steve had seen him by anything short of Ultron.
"Hey," Steve said, pressing a hand against Tony's back, fingers splayed out between his shoulder blades. "All right?"
"Fine," Tony said. He looked a little off-balanced, but not upset, and Steve and Jarvis exchanged a glance before the older man busied himself on the other side of the kitchen. "Sorry about that."
"Don't apologize." Steve slid his arm around Tony's waist until they were standing side by side. "I'm guessing Jan forgot she was supposed to be making yours virgin?"
"That Asgardian stuff packs a punch and she was already having a good time," Tony said ruefully. "It's my own fault. I know better." He took another sip of the coffee and sighed. "I freaked myself out more than anything. That first sip, when I realized my mistake – I thought about it."
"But you didn't," Steve said. "I think that's the part that counts." He hesitated a moment, then added, "I'm glad you gave it to me."
"I knew you wouldn't give it back," Tony laughed. He leaned against Steve's side, let his head drop onto Steve's shoulder and Steve tightened his grip, pulling Tony just a fraction closer. "I also knew that I'd never be able to look you in the eye if I gave in. So."
"I'd have loved you even if you did," Steve said, pressing his lips to Tony's hair. "I'd have been worried and probably a little mad-"
"And disappointed," Tony said. "You have no idea how terrifying you are when you're disappointed. Logan doesn't want to disappoint you. Luke Cage's mom has nothing on you." He finished off the coffee and set the mug down in the sink. "I'm not in a very sociable mood all of a sudden."
"Do you want to be alone?"
Tony turned his head, pressed a kiss to Steve's throat. "Not even a little."
Steve rubbed Tony's back. "So… I guess we should talk?"
Tony pulled away a little, eyes narrowing slightly, and Steve wasn't sure whether to be relieved or alarmed at the flash of panic that crossed his face. "What's wrong?"
Steve pulled away and grasped Tony by the shoulders, resisting the urge to shake him a little. "You!" he said, and instantly regretted his word choice when Tony frowned. "Not you, don't be ridiculous, but you said we needed to talk before. You said– " he dropped his hands and took a step back, not caring if he looked like he was on the defense. "You said this came as a surprise. And you didn't make it sound like a good one."
He could see Tony replaying their earlier conversations, and the exact moment he realized what Steve was talking about. He sagged against Steve's chest. "Don't worry me like that," he said. "I thought you were-" he gestured vaguely at nothing in particular and Steve didn't even try to fill in the blank.
"So you're not going to let me down easy?" he asked.
Tony leaned back far enough to give Steve an exasperated look.
Steve tentatively rested his hands on Tony's shoulders again. "So when you said this was all a surprise and that it was out of left field and that it packed a real punch?"
"Just that. Steve." Tony was looking at him with that little smile again. "I wasn't expecting a proposal tonight. And I really doubt the rest of the team was, either. That doesn't make it a bad thing."
"You said we definitely needed to talk," Steve said. "Who says that? It never means anything good."
"We should talk," Tony said. He was leaning into Steve's personal space again, his head heavy on Steve's shoulder, his hands resting on Steve's hips. "There's going to be the media to deal with and we'll have to make an announcement, which I know you hate. And no matter what we do, people are going to use us as an example, for better or worse. I know you don't always like the attention of being a celebrity – or of being a celebrity's lover – but it's going to be ten times worse now."
"That's nothing," Steve said. He clasped his hands together in the small of Tony's back, enjoying the way his boyfriend – his fiancé, he thought with a silly little swell of pride – hummed against his throat. "Breaking the news to Black Widow that you're permanently off the market… that's going to be scary."
"Well, I'm going to be on another continent when you break the good news to Bucky Barnes," Tony said. "If he tries to kill me again, he can't come to the wedding."
"I'll see what I can do," Steve said solemnly, because Tony would make him sleep in his old room if he started the argument over whether Bucky hated him or not.
"Liar," Tony said, but it was affectionate, and tinged with genuine amusement, so Steve wasn't too worried. "I mean it. This is a big thing and we're both famous. We won't have a moment of privacy and – Steve, people are going to talk about our relationship, our pasts, our future. We won't have a private life for a while. Are you going to be okay with that?"
The Superhuman Star – a weekly gossip magazine that specialized in the usual dreck and borderline slander, but regarding superhumans and mutants instead of starlets and politicians – had run an article two months earlier accusing Steve of abusing Tony. They'd also had headlines alleging that Iron Man was a cyborg from the future, that Steve was a mercenary for hire, and that Tony was cheating on him with a harem of nubile young women he kept at his office. Steve was aware that it could probably get worse, but it would take actual effort on someone's behalf. "I can live with that."
"All right," Tony said, his voice indicating that he didn't believe a word Steve said. "Don't go blaming me next week when Perez Hilton is talking about how we're only getting married so our love child isn't born illegitimate."
"I think if I got you got pregnant we'd have bigger problems than Perez Hilton."
"You say that now," Tony said, "but I know how you get about the paparazzi. One will get in your way the next time we're attacked by the Wrecking Crew and blind you with a flash bulb and all you'll be able to talk about for a week is lack of respect for privacy and failing values and how back in your day you had real journalists."
He was probably right. Steve could live with that, too. "Clint was right, you know."
Tony gave him a measured look. "I'm not half as great as I think I am?"
Steve grinned and kissed him. "You're pretty great. No, the other part."
"That you could do better than me?" Tony was giving him the one eyebrow look, the one he'd obviously learned from Jarvis, the one that meant he was in a lot of trouble and should give up and apologize now while he was ahead.
"The other part," Steve said. "The part about me not wanting anyone else. And the part about us being good together."
"He never actually said that second part," Tony said.
"That's how I chose to interpret his toast," Steve said.
"When he sobers up I'm going to tell him he propositioned us to a threesome."
"He's going to avoid you for days." Weeks. Maybe longer. Steve made a mental note to rearrange the training schedule so Tony couldn't use hand-to-hand as a way of maneuvering Clint into an embarrassing situation. He'd done it before. Peter still got flustered when Steve assigned him to grapple with anyone.
"I don't want anyone else, either," Tony said. "Just so you know."
Steve tugged at Tony until they were pressed together, chest to chest and dipped his head to claim a kiss. "Not even Thor?"
Tony pretended to think about it. "Well, if you were amenable, I'd be all about that. But it's not a deal-breaker or anything."
"Maybe for your birthday," Steve said.
The noise from the next room suddenly increased and a familiar voice boomed. "Where's the happy couple?"
Tony pulled away only for Steve to catch him and pulled him back against his chest. "Was that Ben Grimm? What's he doing here?"
Johnny Storm appeared in the kitchen doorway, wearing a paper party hat and carrying a beer in each hand. "Hey! I found them, Ben!" He gave them an exaggerated wink. "I'll leave you two some privacy." He ducked back out the door and they could hear him shouting, "They're making out in the kitchen, dude!"
"Why are the Fantastic Four here?" Tony asked after an awkward moment of silence.
Steve winced. "I might have mentioned this to Reed? And asked him to keep the Four on alert since the Avengers were going to be hung-over in the morning."
"That's going to backfire." Tony sighed. "Should we go back in there and be responsible team leaders?"
"Actually," Steve said slowly. "I was wondering if it would be rude to slip out of our own engagement party and leave our guests to fend for themselves."
Tony slid his hands under Steve's t-shirt, palms pressed flat against his back, fingers brushing the skin soft enough to tickle. "I'm pretty sure it's expected of us, actually."
Something crashed in the next room and Peter started laughing somewhat maniacally. There was a growling sound that might have been Logan, or Jan if she was really mad. An ominous rumble of thunder seemed to be coming from inside the building itself.
They stared at each other for a moment. "I think you said something about a king-sized bed?" Steve asked.