Freedom, fireworks, and family
It’s a pre AOU setting, because I like that Phase the most. Happy birthday, Steve! This one’s also for @usenecessaryforce , who inspires the best of Steve for me.
Clint was the only one among them who liked fireworks. Steve would have been surprised about it, considering how less Clint cared for explosions if not targeted at bad guys. He would have also been surprised about this with Clint’s ear taken into account; the days leading up to July 4 were never quiet and Clint sometimes preferred to rest his ears.
It didn’t surprise him now though. After living together for three months, Steve had picked up that Clint would enjoy visuals without his hearing aids if they would get too loud.
Thor had gone to celebrate the weekend with Erskine and Jane; it was amusing how much Thor loved to cook on a barbeque. Steve wondered if it reminded the guy of the simple things in this complex world. A world that could sometimes alienate Thor, even if unwitting in intention. Maybe it was nice to be welcomed by people who had known him without powers.
“JARVIS, another 2 degrees please,” Bruce called out without looking away from his tablet and Steve smiled to himself when the AI increased the room’s temperature as requested. Bruce wasn’t the biggest fan of fireworks but he was also not as averse to them as Natasha. The festivities of Kolkatta during Durga Puja was louder, he had once quipped while sipping on fruit beer. Bruce liked the taste of fruits in everything, Steve had learnt three weeks into their new home. Natasha said that they were fresh and he enjoyed getting them without having to worry about them rotting away in bad refrigeration. Steve thought that it was because they were easy, without hassle of pairing to eat.
Tony once told them, offhanded while designing a new Avenjet upgrade, that they never overwhelmed Bruce. They were real, simple in taste, and never suffocated his senses. Steve liked to think that this was Tony’s usual sneaky impression of a friend. He knew though that it was reflective of something from Tony’s own thoughts.
“Penny for your thoughts?” Tony asked as he plopped onto the other side of the settee, stretching his legs and brushing Steve’s folded knee lightly.
“Only a penny?” Steve quirked a grin at the tired but comfortable looking man who rolled his eyes at Steve even as he deliberately dropped his feet onto Steve’s lap.
“I’m saving for Clint’s college fund,” Tony quipped back, rolling his shoulders to work out a few cricks, “that is, if he ever grows up.”
“Sure, Mr. Billionaire,” Steve snorted and patted Tony’s ankle once to stop him from jiggling his legs, “Finished your work binge?”
“It’s a perennial process, Cap,” Tony shrugged easily, looking at home as he glanced up at the sky through the window, “Nat still in the gym?”
“And Clint’s still on the roof,” Steve nodded, looking out the window himself, feeling thankful for the sound-proofing.
“We should have lasagna for dinner,” Tony suggested, a small smile playing on his face as he saw a red and gold firework dazzle the sky.
Steve grinned, looking away from the window to raise an eyebrow at Tony.
“I thought you’d given up?”
“Just because you don’t want a birthday cake or party, doesn’t mean we don’t get to eat your dumb, stupid favourite dish,” Tony rolled his eyes and kicked at Steve when the blond pinched Tony’s ankle.
“I don’t want to celebrate, Tony,” Steve let out a small chuckle at the exasperated sigh from the man steadily growing to be his best friend.
“It’s just dinner,” Tony said with a huff, “and you anyway make terrible lasagna, so it’s more of us willingly torturing ourselves than us celebrating, really.”
“I’ll remind you of that the next time you eat my share,” Steve teased and caught Tony’s foot when it dug into his thigh.
“Fine, whatever, Troll Rogers,” Tony shot a glance at Bruce across the room before looking back at Steve with an easy half-smile, “You don’t want to starve Bruce, do you? Poor homeless child with a bad fashion choice syndrome and cursed curly hair - hey!”
Bruce flipped Tony the bird even without looking up and Steve chuckled as Tony hugged the pillow Bruce had thrown, a mock hurt expression on his face.
“You’re such a whiner,” Steve pushed Tony’s feet off his lap and stood up with, a small smile on his face.
“Coming from you? Ironic,” Tony shot back and faked a yelp when Steve pulled him up, “Stop it, no, go do your kitchenly duties yourself. Steve, no, god - You’re such a lazy ass, nobody believes me!”
“Every chef needs a sous chef, Iron Man,” Steve slung an arm over Tony’s shoulder and walked over towards the kitchen, a sense of calm in him, “Besides, family dinners are incomplete without family cooking.”
“You’re such a goober, my gosh,” Tony grumbled even as he laughed and batted away Steve’s hand ruffling his hair, “Fine, whatever, let’s cook your birthday disaster.”
“Family dinner,” Steve repeated and caught Tony grinning at him before getting out the pans and saucers needed. Steve grinned back and got to work on dinner, because it was the best gift and the only one he needed in this new world.
A family to dine with.
When Clint finally came down from the roof and Natasha came up from the gym with a pale face but no haunted expression and Bruce helped in serving the slightly messed up lasagna, Steve looked over at Tony.
“Eat up, winghead,” the genius said but his eyes held a small twinkle of happiness.
Happy birthday, they never said. But it was.
It was happy.