Steve ruffled his hair. The air was warm, the sun kissing his skin as he buried his feet deeper into the sand. This wasn't paradise but, to the new homeowner, it was hard to tell him that. With emotions bubbling under his skin, rolling around in his belly, he watched the ocean dance before him, settling his ill feelings. Waves ran along the shore, brushing up to tickle his feet then quickly rolling back into the vast blue body of water to repeat the process all over again. It was all just how he imagined it would be. Summer was anew, laughters of children and their family echoing down to his small slice of the land. This was all his to enjoy every single day of his life.
He promised to cherish it, he promised to keep it all near to his heart.
There was box on the ground between his bent knees. It was dark brown with gold trimmings along the top edges, an outline of a crest embossed into the center of the lid.
Steve sucked in another breath, standing up to his feet as he dusted off the sand from the rear of his khaki shorts. With box in hand, he softly kissed the lid. There was another running wave coming to tickle him again, but instead he stepped into the rush of water coming towards him. It was warm around his legs, soothing him like a long lost friend he'd never met.
The box between his hands called for his attention.
"I miss you every single day," he kissed the lid once more. "It's beautiful here. I didn't want this at first. I didn't think I deserved it, really. Wasn't until someone told me I deserved the world that I finally found some good in myself," the tears were swelling but they weren’t of sadness, they were joy. "I'm worth something, I deserve for good things to happen to me. I was low, really low, and now, here I am. I know I was loved, am loved. You showed you who to be in the world and I’m forever grateful. I met someone, someone amazing, and he’s no you by a long shot, but it’s the closest to heaven I’ll-,” he laughed, “I love you more every day. I love you more than the day before and a day without you may not be a day worth living but I know you’re in my heart. Thank you for all you’ve done for me.”
Opening the box, the black ashes disappeared into the wind and ocean. Steve watched, a smile swept across his cheeks as he emptied out every small bit. Wiping his tears, shot a glance down to the echoed laughter’s of the children playing in the water.
Running his fingers through his hair one last time, Steve readied himself to retire inside. The warm sand between his toes welcomed him to his new home.
It was a beautiful two story Victorian-esque home that brought a smile to his face every time he realized it was all his now. There was a balcony wrapping around the top floor, both the doors to the balcony and to the beach were white French style. The walls were all wooden, pine that still smelled as fresh as the day it was cut.
The kitchen was to the left of the back doors, wide and spacious with an open floor plan spanning across to the living room that was lower than the rest of the floor with one small step wrapping around the space. The stairs were behind couch, a slimmer hallway leading up to the second floor.
It was a dream home, something that wives on HGTV cried about wanting but never being able to afford. The shocker about it all was that it was his, all his. Steve sighed happily as he began to slowly unpack a box. His phone vibrated on the table, reminding him of all the calls he missed when he was outside enjoying the view. He tapped at the screen, putting his voicemail on speakerphone.
"You have two new messages. First new message:
"Rogers, how's the house? Is it everything you dreamed of? Call me back, Rogers... Oh yeah, I saw Pepper today she said to give her a call soon. She looks happy, Steve.
"Next new message:
"Hey, Steve, uh, just wanted to say congrats on the house. I really am happy for you, man. Thanks for inviting me to the housewarming party, we’ll be sure to drop in. Call me if you think up anything you need. It's, uh, Bucky. Bye.
"End of messages."
Steve looked around the room before snatching the device from the table and heading up the stairs.
To the right of the stairs was the master bedroom; more wooden walls, and a large bay window that looked out onto the beach. There were sheets jumping out from the box beside the bed and one singular sheet spread out over the mattress. There was a shape under it, the rising and falling bringing a pleased grin to his face.
"Boxes are here," Steve called out as he slipped into the sheet. The man in bed was exhausted, his brunette hair a mess on the top of his head as he let out a lazy groan, scratching at his scalp. He was lying on his stomach, face away from Steve as he continued to protest in tired whimpers.
"I don't wanna," the tired man groaned. Steve pulled him to his back, straddling the man who conveniently moved his arm over his face.
"You do and you will. Get up and help," Steve demanded.
The man's arm fell, revealing his tired face and the scruffy mess that wasn't his usual kept goatee. His brown eyes shined hazel undertones from the sun breaking into the room as Steve smiled down at him. He was wearing an olive shirt, the kind that had buttons down to the breast bone and were sown with the sleeves rolled to the elbows. His chest revealed a scar, one that Steve had to touch to realize was an actual event in his life where the man he loved died for two minutes too long.
"Hey there, sunshine," Steve said as he kissed the man beneath him.
Tony placed his hands on Steve's hips, letting Steve fall into him. "Hey there."
"Pepper wants us to call her," Steve said as he detached from the man, standing to his feet to go to the boxes next to the window.
Tony groaned as he rolled from the bed. "She bought us something we already have and wants to know if we need a new version of that thing, I’ll say no and she’ll yell at me telling me how we can’t live off of things I used to use in college."
Standing in front of the window, Steve smiled. Tony joined him, standing behind the man with his arms wrapped around his waist.
"Did you say your goodbyes to your mom?" Tony asked, kissing the man's neck with soft pecks around the nape.
"I did,” he answered, wrapping his own arms around Tony's, "she's happy for me.”
Tony rested his cheek on Steve's back, taking in the essence of the man he loved more and more with each passing day. Placing a hand on his chest, he thought about how ready he was to let go of this. It felt good to finally be at a point in his life where he felt proud of himself, proud of his life, and his choices. Things had gotten better for him. Tony pulled Steve closer as he realized that he was finally happy.
"Me too, sunshine. Me too."