It’s been fifteen years since Steve came out of the ice, and nearly ten since he’d gotten the nerve to ask Tony on a date.
They’ve been through a lot together. The only person who knows him better than Tony at this point is Bucky.
Steve likes to think he knows Tony just as well.
One of the things he’s learned a lot about is Howard’s parenting, and he may have liked the guy during the war, but with time, and every word out of Tony’s mouth, his memories and his opinion have soured. He carries a lot of anger about the way Howard treated Tony, and the endless repercussions of it. Every day it affects Tony.
So when the Avengers are thrown back in time and find themselves greeted by the stunned faces of Peggy, the Commandos, and Howard himself, it’s not Peggy Steve goes to first.
She watches, open-mouthed as he barrels straight past her, through the Commandos to the back corner where Howard is just looking up, pushing a pair of protective goggles onto his forehead with a little frown. He can hear Sam and Clint saying his name, confusion in their voices, and Tony saying, “Wait, is that—”
Howard’s eyes go wide in surprise. “Steve Rogers,” he says, “is that really you? God, you look ol—”
“You,” Steve snarls, and pulls his fist back.
At the last second he realizes what he’s doing and pulls the punch just enough so he’s probably not broken Howard’s jaw. He crumples to the floor clutching his face amidst the sound of everyone in the room shouting in surprise. Steve reaches down and hauls Howard up by the front of his shirt, all that anger, all that rage he’s had to brush aside for so long bubbling up with a roar. “You son of a bitch,” he hisses. “You spent all your god-damned energy on me instead of your god-damned son, what the hell is wrong with you? How could you do that to him? How could you not see—”
Someone grabs him and drags him away from Howard, Bucky’s metal hand prying his hands free of Howard’s shirt. They don’t stop pulling on him until they’ve hauled him outside and the snap of cold air brings Steve back to himself a little. He’s shaking, heart pounding like a rock against his chest. “Let me go,” he snaps, jerking at their hold. “Let me go!”
They do, and he staggers forward. He catches himself and starts pacing, needing to expend the surge of energy somehow. He can feel Thor and Bucky—they’re the ones who dragged him out, he can see at least that clearly now—watching him. He tears the cowl off and digs his fingers through his hair, violently enough that he feels the sharp prick of hairs being pulled out.
Then he sees Tony, the faceplate retracted to reveal the utterly bewildered expression on his face. “Steve—what…what the hell was that?”
All the anger fizzles out and Steve slumps, one hand coming up to cover his face in embarrassment. “Shit,” he says. “Shit, Tony, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I—I lost it.”
“Well, yeah,” Tony says, still sounding flabbergasted, “I saw. But why? I thought you—” His throat clicks. “I thought you got along with him.”
“I did,” Steve says. “I did. Before I knew—” Three brisk strides bring him to Tony, and he lifts his hands, cups Tony’s face, the fierceness of his love like a tangible thing, sharp inside him. “What he did to you was inexcusable.”
Tony blushes and his eyes dart to the sides before dropping down between their bodies, his hands curling and uncurling. “Well, he’s not gonna win any Dad of the Year awards or anything, but…”
“You deserved better,” Steve insists.
Tony peeks up at him through his eyelashes. “Hey, I got you out of the deal, I don’t think I did too shabby.”
Steve kisses him, very gently. “You should have had it all.”