“Did you enjoy yourself today?”
Tony looks up from the pile of dirty dishes in the sink. “Oh, yeah,” he drawls with a mildly annoyed look on his face. “Nothing beats having to clean up your own party.”
Steve rolls his eyes. “They did offer to help.”
“Yeah, but they’d just mess everything up,” Tony counters. “Have you seen Carol’s pathetic attempts at dishwashing? She actually manages to make them dirtier.”
“Me?” Tony feigns shock. “Why, I would never!”
Steve picks up a towel and starts drying the dishes in the rack. “I don’t understand why you of all people won’t just buy a dishwasher.”
“I don’t trust Clint with technology.”
“Tony. You gave him exploding arrows.”
“That’s different,” Tony says with a shrug as he scrubs the last of the caked-on chocolate off the plate in his hand. He rinses it off under the hot water before turning off the faucet and drying his hands with another towel. “I don’t know why I put up with all of you and your shenanigans.”
“Shenanigans? Really? And you all make fun of me for my age?” Steve jokes.
Tony smiles back, but it doesn’t quite reach his eyes.
“Hey, you okay?”
“Tony, we’re dating,” Steve reminds him, encroaching on Tony’s space. “And we’ve been friends for years.”
“So what? You really think you know me that well?” Tony says, almost a challenge.
“I do,” Steve answers without hesitation. He takes pride in it.
Tony sighs. “I guess I’m just a little… I don’t know. Overwhelmed?”
“Was it too much?” Steve asks. “Natasha and I tried to reel them in as best we could, but Jan and Clint insisted on the fireworks display—”
“Of course they did,” Tony says with a chuckle. “But no, it wasn’t too much. I just wasn’t expecting it.”
“Well, that is why they call them ‘surprise’ parties,” Steve says, wrapping his arms around the other man.
“Y’know, you’re lucky you’re cute because sarcasm isn’t a very good look on you,” Tony retorts, but he melts in Steve’s arms, resting his head on Steve’s shoulder.
“What’s going on?” Steve asks again.
“I just… I haven’t—Nevermind. It’s stupid.”
Steve kisses his temple. “You know you can tell me anything.”
Tony buries his face into the crook of Steve’s neck. “I don’t deserve this,” Tony admits, his voice slightly muffled by the fabric of Steve’s t-shirt. “I haven’t done anything to deserve any of this.”
Steve pulls back and keeps Tony at arms’ length. “You can’t be serious,” he says, looking at him incredulously. “Tony, you gave them a home! You gave me a home. Is it really so unbelievable that that wouldn’t mean something to them? To all of us?”
“Anyone could’ve given you that,” Tony counters “It’s just a house—”
“It’s not about the house, Tony. It’s not even about the new gear that you give us, or your Iron Man suit, even though they’re amazing,” Steve explains. Tony’s looking anywhere but him, but Steve is determined to make the man understand. “It’s about the fact that none of this was ever asked of you, and yet, you’ve given us so much. You’ve single-handedly managed to give each and every one of us a… a family… and we know that we’ll never be able to pay you back, but—”
“That’s ridiculous. None of you have to pay me back.”
“We know that,” Steve says fondly, cupping Tony’s cheek. “It’s… All we wanted to do was to let you know how much we appreciate everything you’ve done for us.”
“You do that every day,” Tony murmurs. “All of you. I don’t know how I lucked into such an amazing group of people, but… I’m glad I did. The things I do are just a blip on the radar—”
“I really don’t appreciate you undermining everything I’m trying to say,” Steve says with a sigh.
“Sorry,” Tony says sheepishly. “But a Mother's Day party?”
“I know everyone jokes about you being the mom of the team, but you kind of are, Tony. The Avengers would be nothing without you.”
“Right,” Tony mutters, and the tone in his voice is so unconvincing that it physically pains Steve.
It hurts knowing that this man—this wonderfully brilliant and caring man—honestly believes he doesn’t deserve anything good in his life, regardless of all of the good he’s done on his own already—that he truly doesn’t see his role on the team or his place in it.
“You’ve saved my life more times than I can even remember,” Steve says, cupping Tony’s face. “Ever since I woke up in this time, you were there: whether it was you having my back in a fight as Iron Man, or you showing me around the city, you were there. You never made me feel outdated or unwanted, like some washed up relic. You made me feel wanted, like I actually mattered. Like… Like I still had something to give to this world. You gave me a family—you gave me a home—and I… I could never thank you enough for that.”
Tony touches their foreheads together. “You gave me a home too, y’know,” he says quietly. Steve swears he can hear Tony’s voice break a little, but he doesn’t comment on it.
Instead, he captures Tony’s lips with his in a kiss.
…a kiss that is interrupted a few short moments later by a resounding crash in the living room.
Tony groans. “Are you kidding me right now?”
Steve kisses his cheek. “Come on, we should probably check up on them.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Tony acquiesces, lacing his fingers through Steve’s and following him out of the kitchen. “I did have fun today, by the way.”
“Yeah?” Steve squeezes Tony’s hand. “I’m glad.”
“It’ll be a pretty tough act to follow though.”
“How do you mean?”
“Oh, honey. If you think I won't be exacting some sort of payback on Father’s Day, then you are sorely mistaken.”