Tony was silent as they went back to the Tower, quiet in a way that hinted at an inner turmoil but Steve had long learnt to give him space during such times. Or at least, wait till he had given Tony time to share, and then ask him about it.
It wasn’t strange for the introspective mood though, especially after what they had just been through. If Steve closed his eyes, he could still see Peggy’s last look before she stepped into the portal that took her back to her time. Away from where she was still the Peggy Steve remembered. She had been as wonderful as he remembered during the time when he had been sure that she was the one for him.
It felt bittersweet, the thought of never seeing her again, but it didn't take away from the happiness Steve had in the present.
“I’m gonna just,” Tony dropped Steve off at the helipad and gestured inside, “drop in at the workshop for some time. You - you’ve got any plans?”
Steve blinked once before shrugging, walking along with Tony into the Tower.
“Not really,” he replied, quirking a smile at Tony, “we’ve had enough of excitement for the day, don’t you think?”
A flicker of an unreadable emotion passed over Tony’s face but he nodded with a plastered smile.
“Yeah,” he agreed, running a hand through his hair, “today was - something.”
“I’m gonna drop in real quick and then -,” Tony skipped over an unspoken word, “and then I’ll join you, okay? I’ll be right back.”
Before Steve could ask him anything, Tony walked away, footsteps quick and sure. Steve was certain that he had missed something but he didn’t know if it was from his imagination or if something was bother Tony in reality. He considered following Tony and talking about it but then thought twice. Tony had gotten a blast from the past himself, and it could just be the aftershocks of that. Pushing him right now would probably not do anyone any good.
Making the choice, Steve went to their bedroom, hoping that they could find some peaceful sleep to end the year. He went through some battle reports and then skimmed through the last issue of Futura, catching up on things he had missed in a while. The hours ticked by and by the time Steve was done with all the reading material he had, it was well past midnight.
Steve put his reports in the drawer by the bedside and considered his choices.
“Friday,” Steve called out, “Is Tony awake in his workshop?”
“He is awake, Captain,” the AI replied and Steve bit his lip, a mild frown marring his face.
“Is he busy with something urgent?”
There was a pause before the answer came and Steve knew that she was trying to word it right.
“Boss is currently engaged in something that he cannot leave right now, Captain,” she said and Steve raised an eyebrow, seeing the attempt in being as vague as possible.
“Uh-huh, right,” Steve got out of bed and rolled his eyes, “Seems like I’m just gonna have to go to him if he can’t leave the workshop.”
The AI remained conspicuously silent for a minute before Steve heard the intercom come to life in their suite.
“Hi, I’m fine,” Tony said and Steve caught himself grinning at the obvious attempt at appeasement.
“Good to know,” Steve replied amusedly, “Any plans of coming to bed?”
“Yeah, that, of course,” Steve heard sounds of something crashing and winced, “That was totally not trouble by the way.”
“Tony,” Steve rolled his eyes and got into the elevator, “Do you have a problem with me coming to the workshop?”
The pause was pointed before Steve heard a sigh.
“Fine, sure,” Tony said and Steve wondered why he detected something sad in the tone.
When he got out of the elevator and entered the workshop, Steve eyed the place for anything different, but it looked exactly the way it had been when they had left the Tower for the impromptu mission earlier.
“What’s going on?” he asked as he walked towards his boyfriend and Tony shrugged, a little tense but still not avoiding him.
“Nothing, just,” Tony waved a hand vaguely, “I needed to burn off some energy, that’s all.”
Steve would have let it slide if one of Tony’s newer bots hadn’t whirred across them at that moment, holding what seemed like a bouquet of the most beautiful bunch of tiger tulips.
There was a moment of absolute silence and then the bot crashed into one of the tables before righting itself back onto its path.
“Is that..,” Steve swallowed hard and wrenched his eyes away from the wheeling away tulips, “Are those for me?”
“Surprise?” Tony said weakly and Steve jerked in surprise when another bot fired a party popper. Tony resolutely didn’t turn to look at the bot and looked like he was facing a nightmare he hadn’t even concocted yet.
“You - bought me flowers,” Steve said slowly, walking towards Tony and eyed the surrounding for any more surprises, “That’s sweet, honey, but I’m a little confused about why you didn’t give them to me.”
“It’s late, isn’t it?” Tony eyed the door behind Steve and Steve narrowed his eyes.
“What is it?”
“What’s what?” Tony shot back, a little too quickly and Steve stopped a foot away from Tony.
“The thing you’re hiding,” he said dryly and looked around again, “Do you have anything else? Tony -,” Steve paused and looked at his boyfriend again, with a new dawned idea, “Tony, were you planning something for tonight?”
“Not- exactly,” Tony hedged but Steve knew that Tony was underplaying it.
“God, that’s why you wanted to stay in tonight, didn’t you?” Steve realized and shook his head, “I- I’m so sorry, I didn’t even think -”
“Hey,” Tony caught Steve’s hand and grounded him, “No, this one’s on me, relax. I wanted it to be a surprise but didn’t exactly plan the additional events that happened, so it’s not a problem. It’s fine, really.”
“I thought we were going to keep it low-key tonight and -”
“Steve, it’s not a big deal.”
“- didn’t consider that you’d be planning something here and now -”
“Steve, calm down.”
“- it’s ruined and you didn’t get to -”
“I was planning to propose tonight,” Tony blurted and Steve’s words skittered to a halt, a half-formed vowel swallowed with air. Steve could have misheard a lot of things but this wasn’t something that was going into that list and he stared at Tony, who looked torn between running out the door and facing whatever Steve had to say.
“Exactly” Tony nodded and Steve swallowed again, the thrum of his heartbeat strong against his chest. Then his mind rewound and he broke out of his trance.
“Wait, was ?” Steve asked, looking a bit concerned, “You don’t - want to propose now?”
“I -,” Tony exhaled and his shoulders dropped, “Let’s just say that my dad and your -,” there was a pause where Tony sought the right word, “- first love coming back wasn’t in the itinerary and I wasn’t sure this was right anymore.”
“This as in?” Steve asked, trying not to misunderstand and Tony’s eyes widened before he rolled his eyes fondly.
“The proposal, not us,” he chided and pulled Steve in finally, “If anything, tonight got me thinking about how we’re lucky.”
“We are,” Steve agreed and Tony nodded, nose skimming Steve’s.
“Amazingly lucky. We got a chance at having something special, us,” he said and Steve smiled, “The time to spend another year with the people we love.”
“That’s nice,” Steve commented and Tony kissed him once, light and affectionate.
“It is,” he assured, “but it also got me thinking about how I don’t want to take away this lesson, this memory from today. Something magical happened today, Steve. I don’t know if it was closure or acceptance, but whatever it was, it was special.”
“It felt good,” Steve nodded and Tony grinned softly.
“I know,” he said, arms coming around Steve’s neck, “and I don’t want it to be mixed with anything else. I planned to propose today, and I still want to do it, but not tonight. Not right now.”
“I might feel disappointed,” Steve laughed lightly but dropped a kiss to Tony’s nose, “but I think I’m just happy.”
“Pretty sure you’re gonna be anxious till I actually do propose now,” Tony teased and Steve shrugged.
“As long as it’s you and me, I think I can handle anything,” he said and leaned in to kiss Tony the way he had missed when the year had ended.
“It’s gonna be the best surprise of your life,” Tony whispered when they parted and Steve kissed Tony again.