“Who's going to be in charge of cooking?” Pepper asks, leaning against the kitchen counter. Her fingers swiftly tap at her Blackberry, already creating a grocery list. She doesn't look up as she added, “Tony, please remember you're summarily banned from the kitchen due to the incident when you tried to fix the oven.”
“That was two months ago!” Tony protests.
“I can cook!” Clint adds in. Everyone in the kitchen shakes their head emphatically.
“You have a broken arm and you think Skittles are a proper substitute for a fruit reduction. Absolutely not,” Darcy chimes in. “I've also managed to choke down what you call an omelet. You're so not allowed to touch the food on Thursday.” She grins wickedly at him. “Or I'll Tase you.”
Clint winks, smile shifting to a lazy smirk. “Is that what gets you hot?” Darcy splutters as Bruce and Steve quietly volunteer to cook. Pepper nods at them gratefully and pushes off the counter.
“Shopping, now. I've emailed you your lists of items, be back here when you've bought them all.” Pepper orders, heels clicking on the tile.
“Shotgun!” Darcy calls out, steps behind the redhead as she leaves the room. The men look at each other and shrug. How long can it really take?
“I can't believe we have this much food,” Steve says, looking around at all the bags hours later. “And the way those two women were fighting over a turkey!”
“Welcome to modern America, land of the overstuffed and greedy.” Tony comments dryly. “Alternately, remember that we're also feeding a Norse god.” Steve frowns, eyebrows drawing together. Tony puts a hand on Steve's cheek, smiling fondly at the super-soldier as he tilts his head down for a brief kiss. “You'll wow them with your culinary skills, darling.” Tony smacks his ass and grins when Steve blushes.
“Out of the kitchen, you two. Some people have to eat here.” Darcy says as she walks past, hip-checking Tony with a scowl.
“She's just pissed I didn't let her Tase the woman who grabbed the last pumpkin pie mix off the shelf.” Jane confides to Steve as Darcy starts putting the food away with jerky movements.
The preparations for the Thanksgiving feast won't truly start until the next morning, but Pepper rearranges the refrigerator for easier access nonetheless. Darcy attempts to make a pie crust late in the evening and ends up getting flour everywhere.
Steve wakes up early to start cooking, Tony tumbling from the bed only moments later to start the coffee maker. Tony is on his second cup of coffee, leering at Steve and making suggestive remarks as he boils potatoes, when the front door opens.
"We too late for the food?" Bucky's voice calls out and Tony quickly sets his mug on the counter. He sends a smile in Natasha's direction when she passes through the kitchen to grab a bottle of water on the way to her room. She returns it with a quick flash of teeth. They aren't ever going to be friends, they don't trust the other enough for that, but they get along well enough now.
“You're too early,” Steve answers, laughing. “We're just getting started. You want to help me?”
“Have you ever known me to cook, Cap?” Bucky responds, walking into the kitchen and stealing Tony's coffee.
“Yeah, I've had your fireside beans. That wasn't cooking.” Steve makes a face as he takes the pot off the flame and moves it aside. Bucky laughs as he leans into Tony's side, metal arm curling around the other man's shoulders easily.
This relationship between the three of them is new and fragile, none of them sure about the specifics between any of them except that both Tony and Bucky would do anything for Steve. It started the beginning of a truce between the two and a halt to the insults and fighting between them that were a common occurrence following the months of the Winter Soldier's defection. It's somehow turned into whatever this relationship is, with soft touches and heated gazes.
The trio's easy quiet is shattered when the television is turned on in the next room. “Parade time, everybody!” Clint yells, Thor's rumbling tone echoing not a minute later. Steve sighs into the now-mashed potatoes as Bucky stifles a laugh and goes to watch.
Bruce enters the kitchen, dressed in a faded Culver University sweatshirt. “What do you need help with?” Steve directs him to the bag of celery and knife to start creating the stuffing.
They hear Pepper's heels before they see the woman. “Really, you couldn't dress down for once? This is a family gathering, not a working lunch.” Tony says in lieu of greeting, though he does kiss her cheek. The woman's eyes roll and she smacks his chest lightly.
“Hey, do we have snacks yet?” Clint asks, wandering into the kitchen and opening random cupboards. Bruce lifts the knife in his hand and points it at the doorway as Pepper gathers the container of sugar and the bag of fresh cranberries in her arms.
“If you're not cooking, go watch the parade.” Natasha orders, appearing behind Tony like the ninja she secretly is. Tony jumps at the sound of her voice but he and Clint get the hint and leave.
Tony spends the next few hours explaining who the character balloons are to Bucky and Thor, with little help from Clint who just sits in his chair laughing. He braves the kitchen for drinks as Spongebob floats on the screen, returning with beers and the first bag of potato chips he saw, so Tony figures he won't use him for a test dummy anytime next week. He takes his seat again next to Bucky, pressing against his side insistently until the man relents and puts an arm over his shoulder. Tony grins to himself as the next balloon appears on the tv screen.
Steve plucks the turkey from the sink, shaking the water off before carrying it over to the table.
“Do you know what you're doing?” Natasha puts her hands on her hips as he drops the bird onto a shallow pan.
“It can't be that difficult, can it?” Steve asks, scanning the directions for cooking.
“No, it isn't that difficult.” Agent Coulson responds in a dry tone as Tony stifles a yelp at his sudden appearance. “Unwrap the turkey, put some water in the bottom of the pan and put it all in the oven.” Directions given, the older man opens the refrigerator and gets himself a beer before sauntering out and taking a seat on the floor in front of Clint. The marksman's legs shift so the agent is bracketed by them; Bucky notices the small smile on both men's faces as the agent absentmindedly brushes a hand over Clint's ankle.
Bruce's watch beeps loudly and everyone in both rooms stops to stare at the scientist. He looks up at their wide-eyed expressions and presses a button to stop the noise. “The dog show starts in ten minutes.” He explains, setting down the spoon he'd been using to mix the stuffing ingredients together. “I think some of them are rather cute.”
“Is that the best idea?” Bucky asks Natasha quietly, in the kitchen for a new round of drinks. “I mean, what happens if his favorite pup doesn't win? Won't he-” The man raises his arms in a poor approximation of the scientist's alter ego.
Natasha shrugs. “Won't be my problem. We're all off-duty for today.” The paring knife in her hand flashes as she dices an onion, not even looking down at the vegetable. “Besides, I think Betty is watching it with him, she usually keeps him on an even keel.” Bucky nods slowly, unconvinced and backs out of the room. He sits next to Tony on the couch, handing the bottles around as the smells from the kitchen start to permeate the entire floor.
The parade has wound down and they're all half-watching the sports commentary before the football game when the door opens. Darcy and Thor bounce in, Jane following at a more sedate pace.
“We have brought dessert foods, my friends!” Thor announces as Darcy sets a pumpkin pie on the table.
“I got the measurements right at home.” Darcy explained, muttering something about calling her mom that no one had the heart to joke at. Jane and Thor squish together on the loveseat and join the others at staring at the television with glazed eyes.
The sports channel shows the the various football games, rapid fire commentary from the announcers about different player statistics and possible outcomes filling the room in between Steve and Pepper's quiet conversation in the kitchen.
Bruce and Betty return to the group as Pepper informs them that the turkey is done. Steve carries it to the long rectangular table, setting it at one end with a large carving knife next to the platter. He slaps at Tony's hand when the man goes to cut into the meat.
“Not your job, Tony. You aren't the head of this family.” Tony feels like he should protest but Thor speaks before he can, leaning forward as he speaks.
“On the subject of family,” he starts and Natasha bites back a growl at where this is probably headed. She sees a similar look on Coulson's face and gives the agent a grim smile.
“Of course this is a holiday for family. Where we will all be on our best behavior, I am sure.” Fury's measured tones interrupt the Norse god. The team turns as one to watch the one-eyed man walk into the room, taking the empty place at the head of the table. Loki trails behind him in a handsomely-cut suit of black and green, waggling his fingers at Tony as he passes him. The god sits next to his brother, Darcy on the other side of him.
The director of S.H.I.E.L.D. picks up the carving knife and slices into the turkey methodically, spearing pieces with the overly large fork held in his other hand - Steve still doesn't understand why a normal fork won't do for the task but he hadn't argued with Pepper - and placing them on a platter.
Loki cuts his turkey into small, neat bites while Thor attacks his drumstick with reckless abandon. The god of mischief raises a thin eyebrow in Steve's direction when he notices the gobsmacked expression on his face. “You don't honestly believe I'm incapable of blending in?” He calls down the table. “Or are you shocked I can follow your customs better than your own?” He nods toward Clint, who is pouring gravy into a lump of mashed potatoes that he's formed into the shape of a volcano with a child-like grin.
Natasha rolls her eyes at her partner when she notices what he's doing, elbowing him hard enough to jostle the gravy all over the rest of his plate. Fury coughs and they both stop, Clint's cheeks darkening at the glare.
Everyone's attention is drawn by Fury's commanding voice. “It is traditional on this day to give thanks for one thing in our lives. Captain, if you wouldn't mind going first?”
Steve thinks for a quick moment, looking at the rest of the people at the table. His eyes linger on Tony and Bucky, smile going soft at the two brunets. “I'm thankful for the fact that we are all here today, uninjured and in sound mind-”
Darcy interjects with “That's certainly debatable for some of you,” to muted snickers from Clint and Loki both.
The Captain hurriedly finishes up with “-and new relationships.” as he smiles at his two lovers.
“I know I'm going to regret asking this,” Fury prefaces but soldiers on, “but what exactly is Tony Stark is thankful for?”
“You mean besides the absolutely fantastic sex I'm getting on a regular basis?” The billionaire responds flippantly. Steve hurriedly sets his drink down before he can take a sip and coughs loudly while Bucky stares straight ahead. Pepper pats the metal arm next to her in commiseration. “Yeah, I'm thankful I'm not dead.” Tony taps the arc reactor that glows dimly through the cotton of his shirt.
Bucky quickly follows that up with “I'm thankful I'm living in the goddamn future and I don't need a cane!” Laughter ensues as the grin grows wider on Bucky's face.
“I'm thankful we're all able to be here.” Pepper's mouth thins when her eyes meet Loki's bright green gaze but she doesn't say anything else. Natasha agrees, though her glare to Loki says otherwise.
“Is it really necessary to go around the table if we're just going to repeat what's already been said?” Clint questions as he stabs green beans onto his fork. He sighs at the twin glares from both ends of the table. “Fine, I'm thankful for better relationships and the new recurve bow that Tony designed.” He tilts his water glass in the genius' direction and grins.
The ringing of Fury's phone stops Coulson from sharing what he's thankful for, though the table can guess it's either the recent lack of damage in Tony's lab or having the marksman in his bed. Fury listens to the phone as the table grows quiet and Steve pushes back his chair, muscles tensing to move.
“Avengers Assemble,” Comes the order as the director ends the call and half of the group stands from the table. Darcy turns to Loki with a pout. “You couldn't have given us one day of peace, dude?” The god looks at her.
“Wasn't me. I knew how much this day meant to my brother,” he pauses to tear another piece of his dinner roll, “and believe me, Ms Lewis, I have set no plan in motion for this day.” Darcy scoffs and reaches over him for her own roll.
“You're just waiting for the havoc of Black Friday, aren't you?” Loki's eyes widen innocently in Fury's direction, smirk playing on his lips. The director's eye turns to look at the duo.
“If you feel like sharing your plans, it would be certainly be an asset to our shopping, Loki.” Fury smiles as he stands. “Don't let your food get cold.” He leaves the room, heading in the direction of Thor's call to arms.
Darcy and Loki share a look, the only two left at the table. “More green bean casserole?” Darcy offers.