Steve slumped through the door. Today had been awful. More than he had predicted and he’d set himself up for the fact that it was going to be bad. It started well. Waking in your arms, the slow lovemaking. The shower together. The resistance to leaving and the promise that he could shirk of his duty and just stay in bed. That you’d make it worth his while.
As much as he had wanted to spend his birthday just with you he knew he couldn’t. His birthday had stopped being about him the moment he took the super serum and put on that ridiculous red, white and blue suit complete with booty shorts over tights. He had a duty, and if this made people happy he’d do it.
Not all of it was terrible really. Getting up to find Bucky and Sam had made him breakfast was nice. The fact that the others had come to join him for it was touching too. Though by the 18th joke about his age he was more than a little over it.
The parade was too much. Way too much. It was too loud. The screaming of the crowds managed to hit that exact spot that he was taken right back to the ISO tour and feeling like a dancing monkey. Plastering that fake smile on his face as he waved to the crowd made his stomach knot and it felt like he had a heavy weight pressing down inside him.
He actually quite enjoyed talking to veterans. He would have enjoyed it much more if he’d actually been able to spend the time to talk to them properly. Share some stories. Maybe a drink. Make some meaningful connection with them as human beings and not just pause briefly to say a few words before he was ushered onto the next person.
Then there was the whole ceremony thing. Sitting on stage while people he didn’t know gave speeches. More jokes about his age. Some kind of plaque. A god damn statue that was being placed in Brooklyn like that was ever what he fucking wanted in his life. He gave a speech. Thanked people in false words. Spoke about Nazis and the state of the country. Not that anyone even listened anymore. He shook hands with way too many people. To the point that it started to feel like it wasn’t even him doing it. Each time the men squeezed his hand hard like they were trying to assert their strength on him. He understood. He’d been the little guy once too.
Then it was a party. Thrown by Tony of course. He tried to relax and enjoy himself but drinking did nothing and the room was full of strangers still, most of them wanting their own piece of him. His friends had tried to help. Pulling him out of long awkward conversations. Getting him to play pool. It still wasn’t what he wanted. He just wanted it to be small. Dinner and cake and maybe only one or two mentions of how he’s a hundred and then everyone moving on from that particular joke.
There were more speeches. A giant cake in the shape of his shield with layers inside of red, white and blue cake because of course, that was all there was to Steve Rogers. The American flag and a shield. Then the fireworks had started.
That was when he’d excused himself. It was one thing to have to pretend to be having fun when he wasn’t. It was a totally another thing to pretend that he wasn’t hearing gunfire and mortar shells exploding with each flash of color.
They were still going off now and he set his jaw, trying to just make it to his room so he could bury himself under his pillow. When he opened the door he had not been prepared to find a blanket fort set up around his bed. He chuckled and felt himself relax just a little. The tightness in his jaw released as he laughed and he felt his shoulders loosen and drop just a little.
He could see light radiating through the blankets from fairy lights and he approached the bed and popped his head in. You were lying on your stomach watching a movie on the TV that you had encompassed into the fort Piles of pillows were stacked all around you and you had a plush blanket draped over your body. You looked up at him and grinned up at him. “What’s going on in here?” He asked.
“Thought you might be a little done with the festivities. Made you a place to hide.” You said. “Can’t tell there are fireworks in here.”
He climbed in with you, already feeling light. There was a tightness in his chest and all he could think was how lucky he had been when you came into his life. “What are you watching?” He asked.
“Wizard of Oz.” You answered sitting up cross-legged. “Want me to start it over?”
He shook his head. “No, it’s okay. That’s an oldie. One of my favorites.”
“Yeah. I know. I guess I have a thing for classics.” You say and lean in against him.
“That’s the one you get.” He said kissing you on top of the head.
“Been getting a lot, my love?” You asked looking up at him.
“Just a bit. You could say that.” He replied.
You sat up and scrambled to the edge of the bed and when you returned you had a cupcake with a single candle on it and a lighter. The cake was chocolate and had bright yellow frosting on top. You lit the candle and held the cake up to him. “Happy birthday, Steve.”
“The frosting is yellow.” He said.
“Mmm…” You hummed. “Thought you might have gotten sick of red, white and blue.”
He smiled and cupped your jaw for a moment looking deep into your eyes as he ran his thumb over your cheek. “I love you so much, you know?”
“I know. I love you too. Now blow out the candle and make a wish.” You answered.
He took a deep breath in and blew, the candle flickered and winked out. You took the candle out and tossed it in the trash before lifting the cake to Steve’s mouth. “What did you wish for?” You asked as he took a bite.
He chewed and swallowed, sucking on his lip to clean the sugary frosting off. “I didn’t. I’ve got everything I want right here.”
“That is so sappy. I can’t even.” You said and smashed the cake into his face.
“Oh, now you’re in for it.” He said, grabbing your hips and flipping you onto your back. You squealed and kicked your legs as he tickled your sides. Slowly he stopped looking down at you. You gazed back up at him and bit your bottom lip. “What is it?” He asked.
“Nothing. Just thinking about how much I love you.” You answered. “And also you have some frosting, right…” You brought your lips to his and kissing him deeply, your hands running up over the muscles of his back. He pressed his weight down against yours and hummed contentedly against your lips. You pulled back gently and smiled up at him again, ruffling his hair. “Happy Birthday, Steve.”
He kissed you again and realized maybe it was after all.