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Shields and Shots

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Even if Stark Tower hadn't been the most glaringly conspicuous building in New York to begin with, Sam never could have missed it today - at least, as long as the pre-nightfall fireworks didn't blind him or anything like that.

Tony Stark's lack of patience was in the clusterfuck of things he was either famous or infamous for, depending on the day and the wind and some wacky science shit, but what the greater public didn't know was that he had even less of it than they thought. He was a man about the show, and it always went on.

However, none of the things Sam Wilson knew about Tony Stark could make the extravagant celebration that he lands at the Tower for seem out of character: food so fancy even Nat had some pronunciation troubles; an absurd amount of red and blue and white decor that looks a little like George Washington threw up all over the place while riding a bald eagle; waiters, bartenders, models, spies, and superheroes galore...and a notably absent guest of honor.

Jane pauses in the middle of her - probably impromptu - speech about stars to greet him.



"Take it you didn't feel like dressing up," she teases, and he rolls his eyes before waving at the bouncing Darcy, stalling for Jane back over by the guests that'd been listening to her wax scientific, and heading inside. He sneaks back behind one of the bars while Nat's distracted, and waits to hug her at his own risk. Nat smacks Sam for surprising her, but welcomes him, and as expected, she's the one who knows where Steve's gone.

A dozen practically-obligatory greetings later, he makes it to Pepper's office. The room is dark, the shade pulled down over the window, and Sam knows to brace himself.

He half-expects Steve to groan or tell him to buzz off when he opens the door, but it's Peggy Carter's voice he hears, and he realizes it's even worse than he'd thought.

"Even after he died..." her morose voice says, a sigh and half a smile following as the light from the video sharpens Sam's view of the room.

"You're gonna drive yourself mad like this, birthday boy."

"Wanda made me muffins this morning. Stuck a candle in one of 'em, made me wish. I had half a thought to wish I didn't have to live with any of this."

"Gonna drive me mad like this, too."

Steve doesn't respond, but he does do them both the favor of turning the tape off.

"You know what'd help? A drink."

"Been there, tried that."

"Shut up, man. This is your night, and by extension mine, and I'm not going to let you mope through it."

Sam stretches his hand out, and Steve grumpily cocks his head.

"I can pull the whole 'she's your ex, I am your not-ex' thing, if that would help."

Steve chuckles, and rises from his seat to come over and press a needy, and indeed, alcohol-tinted kiss against Sam's lips, and Nat obligingly endows them both with Cap-colored drinks as soon as they arrive.

The Avengers team proper watches the works together, and eventually, Steve falls into an uncharacteristically restful sleep as the Twins continue to cheer at the fireworks blazing in the sky, marking their Captain's date of birth.