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Family Tradition

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Steve returned to the Avengers mansion early in the evening on Christmas Eve. He'd been visiting a few veterans he'd know during the War, as well as sharing a drink with Sharon and Nick. He'd also visited quite a few children in the hospital as well, earlier in the day, handing out presents. Peter had been with him for that part, hanging off the ceiling and walking on walls much to the kids' delight, if not the hospital staff's.

Once inside the mansion itself, he pushed back his cowl and ran his fingers through his hair. There was nothing for him to do now but change and help the others finish the Christmas tree.

Steve headed up to his room -- his and Tony's room - to change. The bedroom was empty but he expected that. Unless Storm or Jarvis had intervened, Tony was probably still in the lab.

Tony had spent the past week making custom ornaments for the Christmas tree. While the ones he'd produced so far looked nothing like any ornaments Steve had ever seen, Steve loved the wide, proud smile Tony wore every time he dragged Steve down to the lab to see them.

Steve showered, thinking about heading down on his own this time and seeing what his errant boyfriend was creating now. "Errant husband," Steve corrected himself out loud, almost gleefully. Two months, and sometimes he still couldn't believe it.

It just seemed too good to be true.

Steve climbed out of the shower, and dried himself off with one of the overly soft towels Tony insisted he needed to survive. Just like Tony insisted he needed dual shower heads, heated floor, and a towel warmer.

Steve grinned at himself in the mirror. "Who knew I'd end up with someone so high maintenance," he told his reflection.

He padded out naked into the bedroom, and pulled on his wedding band. Steve didn't wear it under his uniform gloves, but he always wore the ring at home. Tony's ring - Tony had designed the pair of them himself from a special alloy so nothing he did in the lab could damage them.

Steve pulled on a pair of soft denim jeans, then a sweater, before heading back downstairs. Ororo was at the door, dressed in black jeans and a dark blue sweater, and was breathtakingly beautiful, as always, wearing a winter coat she probably didn't need.

"Merry Christmas, Steve," she called happily.

"Headed out to Xavier's already?" Steve asked. He gave her a big hug when he reached the bottom of the stairs.

She smiled and shook her head. "I will be there tomorrow. Thor as invited me to a winter celebration with his family this evening." She sounded almost nervous, if pleased.

"Have a good time then, and give my regards to Thor and the X-men," Steve told her warmly. "Merry Christmas."

Ororo smiled again. "I will." She waved and headed out the door.

Snow had started falling again, and it swirled around her ankles like an affectionate cat.

Steve shut the door behind her. It was odd; for some reason it hadn't occurred to him that she wouldn't be around tonight.

He shook his head and headed back into the house. The spacious living room was decked out in reds and green, a large tree in the corner, still only half decorated. There were still quite a few boxes left to go, as well as the popcorn strings, Peter and Steve had made the night before.

Steve blinked at the empty room. There a fire roaring and cookies on the table, but no sign of the busy collection of Avengers he'd expected.

"Looks like we still have some work to do."A warm, strong arm wrapped around Steve's waist and a kiss was pressed to his throat.

Steve turned his head to look at Tony. There was a smudge of grease on his nose, and he'd forgotten to take his goggles off again. He had a glass of what had to be egg-nog in one hand. Steve kissed him happily, wrapping his own arms around Tony.

"Where is everyone?" Steve asked, when he broke the kiss.

Tony took a sip of egg-nog looking pleased with himself. "Oh, they're not here. Well, Jarvis is here, but he does live here."

Steve rolled his eyes. "You mean you convinced them to let us have the mansion to ourselves. Tony, this is their home too."

"It is our first Christmas Eve together." Tony held the glass up to Steve. "Here, have some, Jarvis made a fresh batch this afternoon."

Steve took a drink, and it was good, but then Steve often suspected Jarvis was a mutant with the ability to make any food delicious. "Tony --"

"I didn't convince anyone, Steve," Tony chuckled. "Peter is spending Christmas Eve with that beautiful fiancée of his, and then taking her to Christmas dinner with his Aunt. Hank and Jan are having dinner at some swank restaurant tonight with her father then spending Christmas day seeing, and I quote, 'If they can make a turkey without setting off any fire alarms in Jan's townhouse.' Luke is over with his grandma; Logan was taking Jubilee and Kitty to see Wicked --"

Steve burst out laughing. "Logan is doing what?"

Tony grinned rocking forward onto his toes. "Logan is a teddy bear when it comes to those two, and someone managed to get very, very, good seats for him for the show tonight." He smirked and stole back the egg-nog. "The point is Steve, is that this is our home. As much as the others live here, they have their own apartments and houses, and families."

Steve swallowed hard as Tony's voice went earnest. This had been Steve's home since he came out of the ice, and it had always been Tony's home. "And we're each other's family." He rubbed his thumb against the smooth surface of Tony's wedding band.

Tony leaned his head against Steve's shoulder. "When I was kid, Christmas Eve was always just for family. Just me, dad, mom and Jarvis," Tony said softly."Christmas Eve was for family, no matter how many people they'd have over the next day, that one night was ours. We'd finish decorating the tree, and we'd each open a present each."

Steve smiled softly; Tony always counted Jarvis as family. "And it is our first Christmas Eve."

"As a married couple," Tony reminded him, because they'd had several team Christmas together But this one, it was different. Steve wasn't just spending Christmas with his friend, or his boyfriend, but his husband.

Steve stole the glass again and set it aside before he kissed Tony. It was sweet, and good, and made Steve want a thousand more.

Tony leaned his forehead against Steve's when they broke apart. "So, we'll finish decorating the tree, have dinner with Jarvis, and then I'll have you all to myself." He nipped Steve's bottom lip causing him to shiver. "Rhodey and Pepper are coming over for Christmas dinner, and then the day after we'll have big dinner with all the Avengers. But tonight, it's just us."

"Do you have some new ornaments for the tree?" Steve asked.

Tony eyes lit up. "Yeah, want to see them?"

Steve nodded, twining his fingers with Tony's. "Always."