Olive oil and vinegar, extra goat cheese, chicken, spinach, red onions and roma tomatos.
Tony hated that order. Not the order itself, but rather what it represented. He peeked out into the dining room from the kitchenette window and frowned. Sure enough they were back, laughing and acting like they owned the fucking place. Which they didn’t. At least he had that as a small consolation prize. Stark’s Pizzaria and Bar was one of about a dozen little privately owned hangouts in a university town where most of the bigger businesses were owned by the parents of the kids who went to the university. But like most college kids, they weren’t interested in five star restaurants in between exams. They wanted a place close enough to the dorms that they could walk back after getting drunk on a Saturday night. And in this, Howard Stark had chosen the perfect spot. They were within spitting distance of Asgard U, and to their credit, served some of the best pizza and Italian food in town.
So even during summer break, they kept a steady business going.
Tony made a noise of disgust and started spreading garlic butter on the hand tossed crust. This was where he would be spending his summer. Serving the spoiled trust-fund babies s that he could hopefully scrape together enough money to afford his next year’s books at MIT. It was kind of a comfort to know that the same group of university guys who were waiting on their order wouldn’t last a semester at his school. Asgard U was the kind of place where you took horseback riding and water polo as extracurricular in order to prepare you for a life of only fifteen million a year to survive off of.
While Tony was wondering if he could afford a car by third year, these guys were complaining about driving their father’s old BMW.
No seriously! He could hear them from where he was.
“I’m telling you it’s a disgrace!” The big blond one said, leaning back in his chair. “Dad said he won’t buy me a Jaguar unless I get my grades up to snuff.”
“Well then, maybe you should spend a bit less time with your girlfriends and a bit more time in the library.” Said the one across from him. A tall, willowy looking dude bout six shades too pale.
Tony didn’t like the university students. He didn’t like this group in particular. But that one dude…
He finished the pizza and picked it up with the wooden board, sipping it into the hearth style oven. “Ten minutes on the Greek special!” he yelled out and saw his father raise a hand in acknowledgement. He could still hear the group talking. It was Friday, but still early for the crowds. So the dining hall was empty except for the game on the big screen tv.
“Oh so it’s my fault I’m not like you?” The blond one laughed, crossing his arms over his meaty chest. “Not my fault girls find me interesting.”
“Girls find you pretty. There’s a difference between being interested in someone and just wanting a taste.” The lean guy said with shrug. “When was the last time you kept a girlfriend for more than a month?”
“Better then not having one at all.” The blond dude sat up, taking a sip from his coke and looking across the table. “Look, Loki you’ve been here a year. I kinda hoped you might…you know…socialize a little.”
“You mean ease dad’s worries about me.” He countered and shrugged. “I won’t pretend to be something I’m not. I thought I at least had your support…”
Tony suddenly felt like he was intruding on an intensely private conversation and began clanging dishes around as he washed them, distracting himself till the pizza was done. He knew both these guys by name. The big blond one was Thor Odinson, overall not a bad dude. Tipped well, only marginally stuck up. He was sort of what you expected from a frat boy who got in on a sports scholarship, playing quarterback for the Mighty Mjolnirs. Dating more girls at one time than even Tony could handle on his best day. When he came in with his football buddies, Tony didn’t mind him.
It was the brother, the one who ordered the pizza, that irritated the crap out of him.
Loki Odinson. Freshman on campus, full academic scholarship, smart as all hell and smug about it. He didn’t join his brother often, but when he did he always seemed to make a point of mocking the little Pizzaria. The kitchy mock Italian décor, the preserved bottled of veggies in olive oil that had never once ben opened, the macaroni art (which Tony had done in preK thank you very much you asshole). He regarded it all as tacky and then proceeded to order the most pretentious thing on the menu.
You gotta problem with a meat lovers, asshole? Tony thought to himself and cut the pizza into squares. He slipped it into the serving tray and put it on the heat lamp to be taken out.
His father stopped him. “Pepper’s on break, you’re taking it out.” He instructed quickly, checking over receipts.
“Aw come on dad.”
Howard looked at his son, then to the table. He sighed. “Look, I know their pricks, but sometimes you gotta decide what’s more important: your pride, or your drive.” He shrugged. “And frankly those guys tip enough to pay for my rent and your dorm room so hup two.” He said and smacked the counter twice to hurry him up.
Tony groaned, but picked up the serving tray and marched.
The one thing he really hated was the way Loki’s green eyes looked at him whenever he approached.
It was…hell I don’t know…predatory. Eager. He half expected the pupils to dilate like a cat when it saw a shiny toy.
The dude just lived to fuck with him.
Loki ignored Thor entirely when Tony showed up with the pizza. “Did you make sure to put extra goat cheese on this time, Anthony?” he said in the most exasperating tone as he flipped Tony’s plastic nametag.
The way he insisted on calling him Anthony made his spine crawl. But he smiled with a sort of vapid air and nodded. “Only way to get more is to milk the goat yourself.”
Loki arched an eyebrow. “Oh? Is that how you end up with stains all over your apron?” he pursed his lips, looking at the messy work attire.
“Sorta the point of an apron isn’t it?” Tony said back. He could only get so snarky with a customer. “Keeps my normal clothing safe for preferred stains of my own choice.”
“And I can see you have plenty of those as well.” He took off his sunglasses, toying with the ear hook in his mouth as he looked Tony up and down with speculation. “Do you even wash your clothing before you come to work or do you just sniff for whatever smells the least filthy and go with that?”
Tony felt a twitch behind his eye and worked to keep that smile plastered on his face. “Well you know not everyone has a maid to make sure their cardigans get pressed in the morning.” He said and nodded at Thor with as much of a casual hello as he could. He was determined to walk back to the kitchen without incident when a voice run out that just made him want to hurt someone.
“Yoohoo! Pizza boy! You seem to have forgotten the garlic sauce!”
If his father hadn’t given him a look of stoic sympathy, he might have lost it right then and there. “Yeah surecomingrightup!” Tony answered without turning and walked into the kitchen, hunting through the boxes of ranch, BBQ, alfredo packets until he found the garlic dipping sauce. He grabbed a handful of about six and went back, doing everything but slapping them back on the table. “Enjoy your pizza.” He said dryly.
A hand suddenly grabbed the front of his cargo pants. Tony looked down, eyes wide as saucers when he saw Loki grin wickedly up at him. He took out a fat wad of cash, all fifties, and folded them neatly into the button above the zipper. “For your troubles.” Loki said with a tone of nonchalance. Thor put his face in his head and shook, giving his brother a look of long suffering embarrassment. The thinner brother seemed to take this as his cue and stood up to go without taking so much as a second glance at the pizza. “And next time I come in here, try and have a clean shirt on.”
Thor started to get up. “Look I’m sorry about him. He can be a shit sometimes but he’s going through some personal stuff right now…”
“Look don’t sweat it.” Tony answered back. “It’s not a big deal. I deal with worse than him all the time. Besides…” he hefted the cash. “At least he paid for being a shit.” Thor kinda smiled at him, obviously embarrassed by and for his kid brother. Tony took the chance to escape back into the kitchen before the situation could get any more awkward. He was gripping the money so tightly he didn’t realize it until his palms sweated, dampening the paper. For a moment, he considered tossing the cash into the trash, but there had to be at least $200 bucks there. That was a couple of books he wouldn’t have to beg the student loans office for.
He shoved it into his tip jar and promised himself not to think about who had given it to him.
He actually succeeded in not thinking about it until his next paycheck came in and he went to deposit the money in his savings account. He sent it in through the deposit slot and sat there in his dads old car, waiting for the slip of paper to come back.
The intercom buzzed on: “Excuse me sir, the cash deposit you sent in has a folded piece of paper with it. Did you want us to throw that away?”
Tony looked up, blinking a few times in confusion. “What? Uh…yeah sure.” He absently answered and turned back to his own thoughts. He heard the whoosh…clunk sound of the returning unit in the pipes and reached out to take it, curious about the two notes in the container.
One was a slip from the bank showing a deposit of $232 cash.
The other was a slip of notebook paper that had been meticulously folded into a neat little square.
Tony opened it up, not sure what he was expecting.
He wouldn’t have recognized the handwriting if it hadn’t been for the couple of times Loki had paid with a credit card and signed with a flourish. Tony crumpled it up and tossed it in the floorboard of the car without a second thought.
When he got back to work he uncurled the note and looked at it again. Tony thought about throwing it away, then folded it back up and stuck it in his pocket.
He then forgot about it for a month until he final remembered he was out of clean cloths and it fell out in the dryer, all rumpled with barely legible numbers. Tony just sort of stared at it for a while, debating about just throwing it away for good. Hell it had been a month after all. Thor and Loki hadn’t even visited the pizzeria in that time. So in all likelihood it was just a bad prank. Loki’s attempt at a totally unfunny joke.
He threw it into the trash.
Maybe fate is a kind, gentle thing who wants what is best.
Or maybe she’s a fickle bitch who ships people.
Tony was willing to bet on the latter when he saw Loki walk in. He was alone, sipping on a smoothie from one of the places up the street and making it obvious he wasn’t here for the food. He searched the place languidly until his eyes landed on Tony. His brow furrowed and he strode to a booth, looking around impatiently for a menu despite the fact that it was printed above the counter.
Pepper gave Tony a pleading look and he shrugged. Let the bastard wait. He though, the realized if he didn’t go over there it would be Pepper who was stuck dealing with this asshole. He took one of the print out carry out menus with him and slapped it in front of Loki. “What can I get for you?” Tony started trying not to look him in the eye.
Loki picked up the menu and hummed. “Nothing here really suits my tastes.” He started.
“Well then make something up. You can customize your own pizza…” He started and then gave a short gasp.
Loki’s hand hung lazily on his pocket, just two fingers crooking into the folds. “I don’t want pizza from a shitty little dive.” He instigated, his grin coming back as he made sure Tony was watching his face. “I want sushi…or something equally high class.”
Tony closed his eyes, sighed, and took two steps back. “I can suggest Sakura up the street but we don’t serve sushi here. Closest thing I can suggest are the pepperoni roll ups.”
Loki seemed put out. “I don’t want to go alone.”
“Have your brother take you.”
Loki rolled his eyes. “He’s dating some new pre-med girl, Jane something. Stupid oaf is really over a barrel for this one. Besides, my brother is defiantly not the kind of company I want tonight.” He argued and took a firmer hold on the pocket of the jeans.
Tony licked his lips subconsciously and breathed out a heavy sigh through his nose. “Okay. Uhm…I don’t know what kind of guy you think I am…”
“Oh I think I know exactly what kind of guy you are, Anthony.” Loki drawled out. “After all, you have something of a reputation for…summer romances.”
That was it. Tony went red around the cheeks and clenched his jaw down hard. “No. No you don’t.” He insisted angrily. “Yeah, you know what. I’m bi. So what? Not like it’s any big secret.” He shrugged it off. It wasn’t. Even his dad knew and it wasn’t any big deal. But the fact that Loki would try to use that against him didn’t just piss him off. It told him a lot about Loki’s…personal problems. “Believe it or not, not everybody has to deal with an unsupportive family.”
Loki started and his face sneered up like he was about to shoot his mouth off. But Tony cut him off. “Look, if you’re interest, good for you. But I’m not. At least not in a guy like you.”
“Oh? And what exactly is wrong with me?” Loki snapped, irritated by this outright rejection.
“Uh, you’re an arrogant prick for one.” Tony answered like it was obvious. “You come in here flashing money and act like you can just have whatever you want. And then when I don’t respond to your passive aggressive flirting you leave your brother to apologize for you.” The pizza boy chuffed like it was kind of pathetic. “Dude, nobody likes that guy.”
The college freshman grit his teeth and stood up. “You’ve got a lot of pride for somebody covered in flour and pizza sauce.”
‘And you’ve got a lot of fucking gall for somebody who’ve never had to get dirt under their fingernails.” Tony snapped back. “You wanna ask me on a date? Ask me on a fucking date. But don’t pussy foot around it and think you come off as aloof and charming!” Tony started in and realized that the rest of the customers were watching them with curious glances. He backed off, not wanting to harm his father’s business. But when he looked back around, Loki was headed out the door, his pretty face not giving a single backwards glance.
The pizzeria closed at just after one a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. So by the time Tony got off work he was somewhere between bone tired and dead. He tossed his apron in the dirty hamper, clocked off for the night and grabbed his cell phone, asking his dad if he needed any help before being told to go home and get a few hours shut eye before tomorrow. He smiled, knowing Howard would still be there another hour or two, going over the receipts for the night. Right now all Tony could think about was shower and sleep, and even then not in that order.
So he was not in the mood to see Loki, leaning against the dilapidated fence in the ally way, looking like he was disgusted to even find himself there.
Tony stopped, made a noise in the back of his throat, and walked past him without even a hello.
Loki did a double take, snorted, and then walked after him. “Why don’t you just take the car?” he jerked him thumb back to the old Pontiac.
“It’s my dad’s and he needs it to drive home.” Tony said shortly.
“So you’re just going to walk it?” Loki asked and saw Tony nod. “How far do you live?”
Tony thought about it. “Three and half miles…give or take.”
The university student blanched. “Three and a half miles? On this side of town?”
“No. Half mile on this side of town. Three miles on a side of town you probably wouldn’t be caught dead in.” Actually that was a bit harsh. It was a town built around a university after all. True, like any city it had its divide between the poor streets and the affluent, but Howard was smart with money. They did alright. Never great, but alright. He just wasn’t keen on having Loki follow him there and make sarcastic commentary about his home, neighborhood and family.
“Why don’t you let me drive you?” Loki offered, taking out the car keys and clicking them. Tony nearly dropped his jaw when he saw a dark green Porsche parked across the street flash it’s headlights.
He stopped dead in his tracks. “That…is your car?”
Loki shrugged. “Yeah I guess so. I wanted a Jaguar but dad says I have to pick a major first.” He walked over to it, perhaps with little more swagger to his step now that he had Tony’s attention. “Well…do you want a ride or not?”
Tony hesitated. Okay he was not so car fancy he would let this bastard drive him home! Not by a long shot. He shook his head. “No thanks.”
Loki bit his bottom lip and took a step towards him. “I’ll let you drive.” He promised, tossing the keys at Tony.
Three and a half miles by foot means cutting through other peoples yards and over obstacles like streams. That quickly becomes five miles in a car.
Still, that wasn’t to say Tony wasn’t enjoying the smooth ride.
“Stop over at my dorm, I need to pick something up.” Loki said, pointing to one of the fancier housing dorms on the campus. Even a place like Asgard U had rules. Freshmen had to live in the campus dorms, where as sophomores could join a frat house. It made Tony a little more than nervous to see the dorms with the name Odinson emblazoned on a plaque as the major contributors to having it built. “Do you want to come up?” Loki asked, trying to look as though he didn’t care one way or the other. “I might be a minuet.”
But Tony wasn’t falling for that trick. “No thanks. I’m good here.” He took the keys out of his pocket and tossed them at Loki. “Wouldn’t want you to think I’m running off with the car or anything.” He said with a smile at just how put out Loki looked. It was kind of nice seeing that he was such a petulant little shit as he walked up the steps to his dorm room with a quick pace. Tony did notice that he had a nice ass on him. Hell he could notice that and still not like the guy, right?
It took Loki ten minutes to get whatever he needed and come back down. Assuming he had actually been getting something and not just soothing his wounded pride. He gave Tony back the car keys and they headed for Tony’s house, driving the rest of the way in silence. When they got there Loki just slipped out of the car without looking at him, taking the car keys back and speeding off as fast as he could with a frustrated look on his face. Tony laughed, maybe feeling a little better that he’d actually gotten under the spoiled bastards skin so easily just by refusing to…
The car turned at a cross section, screeching the tread off the tires as it turned around and the turbo hit, pulling up with a jerky start right in front of Tony.
“Lose something, princess?” Tony couldn’t help himself.
Loki got out of the car and walked over the grass towards him. He took a deep breath and sucked in his lips a little, glaring at Tony as though the man infuriated him to no end. Finally he chuffed. “Go on a date with me
Tony paused, considered, than let a smile tug at the corner of his lips. “I’m sorry could you repeat that? I don’t speak arrogance.”
Loki gave an indignant little noise and jerked back around. “Do you want to go on a date with me?” he spat out, almost like a threat. When Tony took just a little too longer to answer, Loki’s eyes got wider. “I’ll pay. We can go somewhere nice…or you can pick.”
Tony snorted and shook his head. “You’re kind of clueless aren’t you?” he started in and let himself get just a little closer. “You’re new to this aren’t you? I mean like you just came out and all…”
Loki licked his lips nervously. “Dad’s not exactly big on the whole gay son thing.” He explained shortly.
“Yeah. Yeah I mean…I kinda figured. Look…” Tony said firmly, putting on his no bullshit face. “One date. No pressure. No games. Just. One. Date.” He help up a finger for emphasis. “And from there…well…we can see how it goes.” He offered and was charmed despite his best attempt at staying neutral by just how relieved Loki looked.
Something sort of spur of the moment his him and he touched Loki’s shoulder gently, almost in commiseration with him. He leaned in close and their lips touched in a warm, experimental press. A tingle went through him, starting in the chest and moving through to his stomach. He peeked and saw that Loki’s eyes were closed and his hand moved to touch Tony’s voluntarily. “Okay. Two dates.”