It looks at Steve harmlessly. About eight inches, firm, sweet smelling, upward curving, and yellow. Tony looks at him expectantly.
“It’s a banana, it’s not going to bite you.” he huffs in exasperation, coming around the island in the center of the Avenger’s kitchen to perch on the stool beside his, “They’re good I promise.”
He snatches one from the remaining bunch of five and cracks it open at the top, peeling it swiftly and cramming practically half of it in his mouth.
“See?” he mutters through bulging cheeks, chewing and making yummy noises, like Steve is a child who won’t try spinach because it’s supposed to be disgusting. He isn’t a child however, and reaches out for the banana with new resolve, taking in the texture of it under his fingers the dull gleam of it under the white kitchen lights.
He’s never eaten a banana before. Always too expensive, if the shops had them in stock at all. The cost to import food had apparently gone down significantly with the advent of flash freezing and commercial cargo planes and all. He fingers the top and bends the stem back the way he’d seen Tony do, a split appeared in the peel which he then used to pull the segments apart.
It was kind of beautiful in a way apples never were, perfectly suited for a hand to hold, with convenient stress points in which it could be pulled apart. He shook off the sudden feeling of being a monkey at the zoo, or in cartoons he used to see at the theatre and gentled his grip not wanting the pale fruit within to pop out and cause someone to slip to their own comedic demise.
“C’mon take a bite, I’m dying in the suspense here.” Tony tossed his now empty peel into the sink - Steve was pretty sure that wasn’t where it was supposed to go - and continued to chew lazily.
When he finally did take a bite, the flavor was subtle, sweet, and matched the cool texture against his tongue. It was exactly how he’d always thought it’d be but could never actually realistically imagine. Like a first kiss, you know it’s going to be lips, warm, maybe wet but you don’t actually know the feeling until it’s happening, too fast and too long all together -
“Jesus this is like watching food porn. Remind me to introduce you to new food all the time.”
Steve ignored him and swallowed. Who knew what Tony was talking about half the time anyway, for now, he was going to enjoy the rest of his first banana in peace.
It’s cold in New York in January, just like it’s always been. The simple fact the weather has not yet deserted him comforts Steve a great deal more than he cares to admit casually. He revels in the way their breath clouds white before them as they walk and how his gloves feel, keeping his fingers warm even as the tips of his ears sting in the wind. It’s just like it always was, even before he was Captain America, when he was just Steve, sketching the steaming sewers from a door step, waiting for Bucky to hurry up.
But now it isn’t Bucky lagging behind but Tony, dragging him along, sleek black gloves holding his phone tightly like it’s giving him directions - and wait, who knew, maybe it was giving him directions. In any case Tony doesn’t like the cold, and no wonder, his coat is far too thin but he’d said something about it being fashionable not functional and to quit dawdling or they’ll be late.
Late for what, Steve isn’t quite sure. It has something to do with a truck, meeting a truck. He thought for a moment perhaps Tony meant a bus, but that couldn’t be right, Tony owned his own fleet of vehicles not to mention a flying metal suit of armor, so he probably wasn’t trying to catch a bus.
Finally they come to a stop in front of an abstract stone statue that stands in the middle of a public square. Around them at least are about a half dozen other people, waiting presumably for the same thing - the truck thing. Tony pulls his collar up further, hunching his shoulders away from the cold as well as the looks of the people around them. Steve is beginning to understand why he’s always wearing sunglasses - people apparently just recognize him on the street, like he’s in the movies or something.
They don’t have to wait long enough for anyone to start coming up to them however, a large blocky white and red truck pulls up to the curb, its side proclaiming it’s The Crepes Truck. This...doesn’t really clarify anything.
Steve peers at the images decorating the panels of the truck, noting a Crepe appears to be some kind of ...golden brown floppy thing with a filling, while a man jumps out of the back of the truck and sets up a small chalk board explaining the prices and flavours in a bright excited voice.
“What kind do you want?” Tony appears at his elbow, already fishing bills out of his wallet, eyes still hidden behind dark plastic.
“I don’t know. I’ve never had one before.” He tucks his hands into his pockets, “I’m not sure I even know what they are.”
“That’s the point, you need to try crepes before you die,” he pauses for a moment apparently looking over their choices, “and New York street food.” the last is said with veiled disdain and Steve appreciates what Tony is doing, going out in the cold, risking being hassled by random pedestrians, eating food from a truck.
They take their place in the small line up that’s formed to give their order - two blueberry with whipped cream and an extra large coffee for Tony - and then wait patiently nearby as all the food is made, fresh, on demand. Steve already sees the appeal of the trucks while Tony merely tucks his gloved hands into his armpits and gazes at the statue like it’s actually interesting.
“Why are you doing this?” He asks after a few moments, unable to resist the question. it’s been lingering around since he’s been...well since he’s been back - or forward depending on your perspective - but since he’s been introduced to Tony. It was rocky at first, their relationship, but the initial tension soon gave way into a strange kind of partnership that worked well in the field as well as in civilian life, like this. But still, why did Tony do anything for him? Teach him about reality TV and the stock market and what crepes tasted like when he had his own already over-full life to lead.
“Because crepes are God’s gift to pancakes.” Tony replies swiftly but turns, already knowing his answer isn’t going to fly, and so he pulls his glasses down to peer over them at Steve. His eyes have dark smudges under them, Steve wonders if he ever sleeps.
“Because you’re pathetic Rogers, never having eaten a banana, sheesh, you need to understand America as it is today, and -” He lowers his voice, “No book or person being puppiteered by Fury is going to be able to give you an accurate representation of real life. Of American every day living.”
“And you think you can do that. The genius billionaire philanthropist.” Steve follows him as he takes a few steps up to gather their newly called order from the window in the side of the truck, shoving a piping hot crinkly paper wrapped blueberry filled brown floppy thing into his hand. Tony shoves his glasses back up and trades a fifty for his coffee, waving away what was sure to be more change than what their meal actually cost.
“You forgot playboy . Why does everyone forget playboy?”
They walk towards the benches lining the square around the statue and settle upon one that makes the statue look like a large blob of wax balanced on its tip.
“Believe it or not I am the American dream Steve. Successful, handsome, brilliant, risky, cocky you name it, I’m living it. Now eat your crepe before it gets cold.” he sets his coffee down and peels back some of the paper on his own crepe, revealing a folded brown flank to sink his teeth into.
Steve doesn’t know what to say to that, so he copies Tony’s actions and takes a bite of his own crepe. Flavours burst in his mouth, hot and bright, the blueberries syrupy sweet, against the cool wash of the cream. Below it all is a magically subtly sweet base of crepe, folded in and around everything keeping the miracle safe and warm for devouring. He must be making noises because Tony has paused in his own eating to watch him, but Steve can’t be bothered to care, this is the best breakfast he’s ever had and the more he eats the more hungry he seems to be.
When he’s finished the last of it and licking whipped cream from his fingertips - his gloves had gotten lost somewhere in the middle when a dribble of blueberry syrup was escaping - he crumples his paper holder a little forlornly and lobs it into the nearest trash bin. Before he can even contemplate asking if they could get more, Tony is offering his own barely touched crepe up for him.
“Are you su-”
“Take it. Seriously. I’m not that hungry and watching you is making up for an entire lifetime of bad decision making.”
He gingerly lifts the crepe from Tony’s hands and then proceeds to demolish it, unable to keep in his moans of delicious satisfaction.
Watching Tony puttering about the gas range with a kiss-the-cook apron hung atop an iron maiden T-shirt, a wooden spoon in one hand and a glass of scotch in the other is to say the least a little weird. But, having lived and worked with him for months now, Steve can safely say, it’s just Tony. He tries not to over think what’s happening in front of him, a veritable bevy of sea life seems to be being tossed into one gigantic pot and occasionally clucked and poked at, but he’s sure it’s a little more complicated than that.
“It’s Cioppino Steve, it’s really really not much more complicated than that.” The ice in his glass clinks as Tony sets it down and gives him a level stare over the steaming pot.
“Well, could’ve fooled me. It’s still cooking something with multiple parts and timing and-” Tony is giving him that look again, the one that asks him if he’s really going to be surprised, really, it’s the future and all but he’s been around for over six months and should have a handle on things by now.
“I can read and I dated an Iron Chef one time. Three naked breakfasts later I can cook. It’s not that hard.” Tony observes the screen in the counter top once again, checking the recipe no doubt - or maybe his youtube hit-counts you could never really tell with Tony.
“What’s an Iron Chef?”
Tony looks at him with exasperation.
“Really? That’s what you took away from that? Iron Chef? Not, I don’t know, naked breakfasts? ” he waits, like he thinks Steve is going to apologize and look properly scandalized and chastise him about proper kitchen hygiene but instead he just sits there and waits. “It’s a thing, a TV thing, JARVIS record some Iron Chef for Steve.” He then proceeds to pull a knife from the knife block as JARVIS acquiesces and begins chopping away at some green onions.
“Is it like the Iron Man?” Steve asks hesitantly after a few moments of nothing but the snick snick of knife on greens.
“What my suit? What?” Tony continues chopping without looking up at him.
“An Iron Chef.”
Tony pauses then and looks up at him, gauging his expression, calculating like if he’s trying to decide on a joke or a drink.
“It’s not a robot that makes me dinner, that I had some kind of kinky food sex with, if that’s what you’re thinking.” he scoops up the onions with the side of his knife and heel of his hand, depositing them smoothly into the bubbling pot. Steve hadn’t been thinking that, but now it’s kind of in his head, and he isn’t sure how to even go about imagining such a scenario so he decides to quit while he’s ahead.
“Well, whatever it is, it’s very kind of you to make... this just because.”
“Cioppino, and it’s just because you’ve never properly tried seafood now that it won’t make your tongue swell to the size of your shield.” It’s not the first time Tony’s hacked one of their files, not even the first time he’s hacked Steve’s file - but apparently this time he browsed more thoroughly. Combing through the fine details in order for him to pull out the one morsel that noted his life long allergy to shellfish - cured along with everything else by the super soldier serum. Thus it became another one of his little projects to get Steve up to date with everything that he considers good and modern and American. Which is a lot of stuff.
So he stays quiet and watches Tony cook, and drink, and hum to himself when he tastes the broth. He knows this is just one of the only ways the other man knows how to show affection, with things. Giving things, building things, inventing things, and apparently, cooking things as well.
When he finally announces that it’s done and offers Steve a spoon, a weirdly tiny fork with not enough tines, some kind of nut cracker, and a tea towel to be apparently used as a bib, he thinks Tony’s joking.
Eventually when they’re both situated with over-flowing bowls and Steve understands how to poke with the fork and crack the shells with a sure grip, slurping and soaking hunks of bread in the tomato broth below, Tony turns to him expectantly.
“It’s amazing,” he says, lips trying hard to form words without letting any scallop escape. He’s a little ashamed that he’s stooped to talking with his mouth full - imagining for a moment his mother’s soft face gone disapproving - but it’s just so good, he doesn’t want to pause even for a second, in case he missed something. The last glimpse of Tony he gets before he’s focusing back on the meal at hand is one of a self satisfied man, almost...proud.
4. Avocados/Mexican food
They’re dark, oblong and feel a little bit like he always imagined a dragon would. They give a little bit under his finger tips - Tony assures him this means they’re ripe - and when a knife rings the pit inside and he twists, they come apart in two easy halves.
Steve doesn’t really know why he’s been tasked with creating guacamole, only that he has, and it mostly just means doing whatever Tony tells him to do when he tells him to do it. The pits come out with a firm rap of the knife and another twist, perfect, shiny, brown billiards.
While he’s busy scooping the bright green and yellow insides into a bowl, he watches with amusement the activity in the kitchen. Tony is directing the action, arguing with Clint about pinatas and stirring a pan full of browning ground beef and taco seasoning.
“Seriously, I’m amazing with a pinata. You don’t even know.”
“Good, we’ll know who to call when Doom invades an eight-year old’s birthday party-”
“IT IS A MOST FORTUITOUS DAY FRIENDS!” Thor burst in on the action, or would, if he didn’t have to be careful of knocking his new headwear askew in the door frame.
“....You found a sombrero.”
Steve starts dicing up cherry tomatoes, popping one into his mouth as he grins back at a beaming Thor. It’s the fifth of May and for some reason, Tony thought that was the perfect reason to have Mexican fair for dinner, and the rest of the group had agreed. Now, there was something of a fiesta being planned for the evening that was clearly spiraling into madness.
Bruce, maybe the wisest of them all, had earlier volunteered to run to the store for more tortilla chips - but the location of store he decided to visit and time for his return was up for debate. Natasha upon wandering into the kitchen and surveying the madness had quickly determined that a drink (or several) were completely necessary to make it through the rest of the night and had been working with the blender in her own corner ever since.
Steve is on guacamole duty. Not that he really understands what that is, but it seems simple enough, a dip of some kind. He begins mashing the avocados hesitantly with a fork, but they give under his slightest pressure easily. Tony is quickly crowding in next to him, taking the fork by force, his warmth entirely flooding Steve’s right side.
“Don’t mash them too much, you want to leave lumps. Like porridge, only, not at all, no oats just-” Steve stops listening, merely watches Tony’s quick fingers, making even lump to mush ratio, and soon he’s being handed the fork back and slapped on the shoulder. When he goes, it’s strangely cold on his right.
When they eat, it’s a raucous affair, more akin to a family dinner than a somber business-only team, and Steve can’t say he misses those stiff first few encounters when they were all eating together. Thor is still wearing his sombrero, although Clint has tried to steal it several times, and Bruce did finally return. Tony’s left eye is bruising from where Natasha punched him when he tried to kiss her after she delivered him a margarita, and the atmosphere is generally rife with amusement and cheer.
He finally gets to eat, trying a bit of everything, but his favourite dish by far is the guacamole. It’s salty and creamy and the avocados seem to melt in his mouth mild and delicious. It’s good on chips, in wraps, on salad, and he can’t stop coming back for more. He’s a little sad when they polish off the bowl, but manages to snag the serving spoon for himself, sucking on it greedily as he piles up their plates and totes them back into the kitchen.
He starts the water in the sink running, preferring to wash the dishes by hand, and for once Tony pulls out a dish towel, steps up beside him, and offers to dry.
5. Ice Cream
“Why would I want to eat that? Why would anyone want to eat that?” when Tony said he had a birthday surprise for him, Steve did not think it would be presented standing in front of a small Brooklyn ice cream parlor that offers unique and unusual flavours. Steve has always had a sweet tooth, penny candy for the movies, the M&Ms in his (and Bucky’s when he was fast enough) rations, and ice cream more recently - fighting back the gripping dark nature of something so cold with flavours so creamy sweet.
But these flavours weren’t appetizing sounding at all. Red beet, tuna fish, parsnip? What happened to chocolate and vanilla? He looks warily at Tony who merely shoves his hands into the pockets of his white linen suit and rocks back on his heels.
“Because some people prefer a little intrigue and variety in their desserts. What’s life without a little experimentation?” He takes a step forward and turns to look back at Steve as he walks into the shop, bell above the door tinkling their arrival.
Inside is dim and crowded, children and mothers and college students all reaching for their cones and spoons and calling out ridiculous orders that make Steve’s skin crawl. At least it’s cool inside, they’re in the middle of an early heatwave that promised a memorable and enjoyable fourth of July evening, but the day was proving to be uncomfortably hot and sticky.
Tony doesn’t look anything other than cool, as always in public, although Steve is beginning to doubt his sanity, bringing him here, maybe the heat is getting to him. Steve is so busy contemplating how Tony isn’t sweating under his goatee he completely misses the fact Tony has already ordered for him.
Before he knows it, a cone is being pressed into his hand and he’s being shoved out the door. The Ice cream looks normal enough, a milky brown colour with small red-brown bits strung through it. Despite his better judgement, he takes a slurp of it, already beginning to melt in the heat and rolls the sweet sweet taste around in his mouth, hesitantly chewing on one of the bits.
“Is this-” he eyes the cone suspiciously
“Bacon. Maple bacon to be exact.” Tony confirms.
He takes another swipe at it, and decides it’s not so bad. Actually kind of good really. He isn’t so sure about some of those other flavours but Tony hasn’t made him promise to come back or anything so no harm done. They stroll down the street, Tony didn’t actually order anything, and is free to talk and watch him as much as he pleases, and apparently he pleases a lot.
Steve ignores most of it, concentrating on walking and eating without getting melted ice cream all over his fingers or tripping on uneven pavement. He fails anyway and ends up licking his hands and making a generally sticky mess of things. But it’s a hot day, he’s in Brooklyn and no one is threatening to destroy the city so all in all, it’s shaping up to be quite a good birthday so far.
“You’re getting it everywhere, I can hardly look at you, but at the same time can’t look away. It’s like a train wreck-” Tony’s babble gets a little more focused on him and he starts paying attention again, taking the cue to perhaps lick up some of the ice cream that’s migrated to his lips and chin-
“I can’t decide if I’m repulsed or turned on. As it is I think the semi in public is sadly unappreciated so, here.” Tony hands him a wad of napkins, produced from his pockets and miraculously dry, that Steve begins wiping his face and hands with as he crunches down the last of his surprisingly mouth watering treat.
“Never going to look at bacon the same way again.” He’s muttering still when Steve returns from throwing his napkins into a trash bin.
“You and me both.” Steve replies, uncertain what he’s really agreeing to, but his opinion of bacon has definitely changed. He’s a little disappointed Tony didn’t join him in this one new trial of a new American culinary masterpiece and rolls his still sticky lips together in thought.
“Well, time to get going, you’re the birthday boy, what’s next?”
“Are you sure you didn’t want to try anything? I should have offered you a bite.” He regrets it in hindsight, but Tony has never not participated in one of his introductions before.
“It’s fine, I’ve had it before.” He’s been like this lately, closing himself into his own little world again, like before they’d been friends, before they’d really been teammates. Steve’s insides suddenly feel too cold and he doesn’t know if it’s because of the ice cream or the fact he can’t see Tony’s eyes behind his glasses.
It’s crept up on him, like the future, like Tony’s friendship, like everything these days seems to do. And he’s afraid. Afraid of losing the easy camaraderie, bumping elbows over a sink full of sudsy dishes or pounding doombots into the concrete. Afraid of the creeping warm feeling in his chest when he makes Tony laugh in honest. Afraid of what it all means.There’s a flow to it, and the more time he spent over the past ten months in this partnership, the more he wanted of it.
But now this is happening, this withdrawal. Tony likes to push away the things that get too close, that get under his skin. Steve’s seen it happen numerous times before, ignoring the problems and avoiding them, building things around them until you can’t even see the original source any more. It’s all hollow jokes and leering expressions, eyes hidden, warmth gone.
Steve can’t ignore it any more, he doesn’t want to be pushed any further, he wants to pull.
“Are you sure?” he reaches out, curling his hands around Tony’s lapels, ignoring the noise of protest he made, “I mean, after all you should have had at least a taste.” he jerks him forward, hoping this won’t be a move he regrets, head already swimming, eyes shut tightly as their mouths met, just a tad too hard to be entirely comfortable. It takes Tony a moment to realize exactly what’s going on, seconds that tick by in Steve’s mind as he kisses his best friend, hoping he isn’t wrong, that he isn’t ruining something worth beyond all the words and ridiculous food on the planet.
But, like the ice cream in the sun, Tony melts against him, lips moving against his, opening, sweeping the last sticky sweet traces of his treat away, chasing it from behind his teeth and sucking it off of his tongue. It’s heady, and honestly, a little bacon flavoured and can’t go on for much longer before they start attracting stares and shaky cellphone videos on youtube. He pulls away at the thought of that, Tony following him for just a moment before collecting himself and pulling back.
“That was new.”
“Well, what’s life without a little experimentation.”