It was winter again by the time Tony had been able to convince the UN and the public that the Avengers weren't, shouldn't be considered, criminals. He won them all their freedom, allowing them to come home. He reunited them with their families; Clint and Laura, Scott and his daughter, Sam and his mother... They had all been able to reach out, to visit and reconnect. Not all of them were received with open arms, Laura was furious with Clint (and him, too, though she told him it wasn't his fault, that Clint had made his own decisions). Scott had to be supervised with Cassi while he and his ex-wife tried to figure things out.
But they had all come home.
Part of Steve hadn't been sure what to do with that. Since waking up from the crash, it hadn't been New York that had been home to him. It had been the Avengers. It had been Stark, then Avengers Tower.
Steve wasn't sure he really had a home to come home to. But he couldn't help but to try. When they had landed the press had been there, and there had been pressure for Iron Man and Captain America to shake hands and smile, and they had done exactly that, but Tony's smile could have been fake. It was hard to tell. But Steve had meant it when he told Tony he had missed him and wanted to make things right. That he was sorry for all of it. For not telling Tony, for fighting against him. For hurting him. All of it.
Today, though, the press was absent, allowing a moment where they could be honest. Where Tony could be angry or dismissive or forgive Steve or tell him it was broken forever. One way or the other, Steve would know. Finally. It was equally relieving and frightening to know he would find out for sure.
Friday let him into the building and guided the elevator to the penthouse. Steve made quiet small talk with the AI, trying to figure out if she held a grudge. If she didn't, then maybe Tony had, or would eventually, forgive him. At least maybe give him a chance to try to mend things between them. If not, then maybe Tony was still angry. Or... he shouldn't do this, try to figure things out. It would go how it would, and no matter what way things went today, Steve needed to respect Tony while staying true to himself. And no matter what, he needed to listen to the other man.
When the doors opened to what had been the Avengers living quarters, Steve stood in awe. It was exactly how he remembered it. As though they had only been gone a few days. Maybe on a mission somewhere rather than exiled, fugitives from their home.
"Good to have you back, Cap."
Steve closed his eyes at the familiar voice. Tony sounded friendly, like nothing had changed. "Tony.. I need to tell you. I'm so sorry. For all of it. For not tell you everything when I first found out. For not listening to you when you were trying to keep us together. For not believing in you like I should have. For hurting you. Because God, Tony, I hurt you... I never thought that I could ever.. but I did, and I hate that I did. I should have been better. A better friend..."
"Cap. Steve." Tony's voice so near... Opening his eyes to look at the smaller man standing right in front of him, Steve blinked. Tony was smiling. "It's alright now. You're home now, Steve. I'm sorry, too, you know. Not all of it was your fault. I kept too many secrets, I know that. We need to work on our communication skills. All of us."
"Now come on. We need to call everyone else home."
Opening his eyes, Steve had a moment of confusion. Where was he?? This wasn't...
This was Wakanda.
Wakanda was beautiful in the morning, with the sun rising over the horizon, scattering vibrant colors over the sky and making the clouds look like they had been painted in watercolors.
Wakanda was a beautiful place, but it wasn't home.
It was time. Past time, really... Steve climbed out of bed and moved to get dressed for the day; he needed to speak to T'Challa. Steve was going to go home, come what may.
First he was going to stop at Coney Island and say goodbye to his past. Eat a hot dog from Nathan's. And then he would march forward into his future.