“It would be very rousing. I think you would quite enjoy it, Captain!” Thor cried, beaming. “Would you like to come along?”
“Sorry, Thor,” Steve replied, smiling apologetically. “I can’t tonight.”
“Ah, yes. Of course. It’s Thursday night,” Thor said, nodding to himself and smiling widely. “Send the Man of Iron my salutations.”
Steve couldn’t help the smile that tugged at his lips. “I will. Enjoy your movie, Thor.” The Norse God left the apartment shortly afterward, leaving Steve to badly attempt reading a book and watch the clock. Tony was never ready for fondue before seven and, though he told Steve he was welcome to come earlier, he found the supersoldier a nuisance if he came any earlier.
Steve frowned a bit to himself as his eyes drifted from the clock to the calendar hung beneath it. Tony laughed at his old-fashioned ways, the physical calendar of paper and dates a source of never-ending amusement to him. He frequently reminded Steve that his StarkPhone had the date on it and a convenient calendar-planner function.
He looked at the date and sighed heavily. Technically tomorrow marked the one year mark since their first fondue night, but it felt like an anniversary anyway. He flushed in embarrassment and dropped his eyes back down to the copy of Prince Caspian from the marked calendar.
It wasn’t an anniversary, he told himself. They weren’t in a relationship—Tony wasn’t sweet on him at all. Tony had a girl. It was apparently very serious: Tony had introduced her to the Avengers at the last group Fondue night. Her name was Brie Daniels and Steve knew, objectively, that she was a very beautiful woman. Tall and slender as the modern ideal admired, with long blonde hair that was curled artfully as well as the high cheekbones and vibrant blue eyes Tony seemed to favour.
She’d fumbled with the fondue, dropping in a square of bread into the pot. Steve watched on, fighting to conceal his jealousy as she followed the etiquette and kissed Tony. It was almost lewd with its enthusiasm and Steve had been unable to fight off his scowl. When Brie had turned to Natasha and given an equal gesture, Tony had turned to Steve to share his mirth. Steve could only stare at the bright red gloss rubbed into Tony’s lips, jaw clenching. They turned down in a frown and Steve stood quickly, excusing himself with a murmured apology.
Tony and fondue were entirely to blame for the whole mess. Particularly that tradition. In the low light, nearly a year ago now, Tony had explained—hand wrapped warm and firm around Steve’s wrist as he tried to reclaim the square of bread from the pot.
Steve had flushed in embarrassment, still not quite over the shame of misunderstanding the implications of the evening. Steve had licked his lips as Tony moved closer, nervous. His lips were surprisingly soft, the kiss gentle—facial hair pleasant on his sensitive skin. His tongue had tasted like chocolate and strawberries as it briefly flicked inside his mouth.
Steve had whimpered a little when the engineer had pulled away. Tony exhaled shakily. “Damn it,” he whispered, forehead leaned against Steve’s. “Why is it the one time I try and be moral it’s this tempting?”
Steve frowned, confused. Tony pulled away, shaking his head. “So, fondue...”
Steve jumped, snapping back to the present when his StarkPhone trilled with the announcement of an email. He glanced at the screen and put it away with a frown. Fury and his concerns about Spiderman could wait—everyone knew that Thursday nights were standing commitment. After the two times a villain had attacked New York on Thursday nights, even the criminal classes had learned to take the night off.
(There may have been twenty Doombots beaten to shrapnel by Captain America’s shield and Doctor Doom hung, weeping with fear, from an impossibly high flagpole by Ironman. Steve regretted only the broken knuckles that took a week to heal.)
Tony had never missed an evening. A couple of times he’d had to hold important meetings over the phone, giving them half his attention while he silently battled Steve for the best fruits. But he’s always been there, and there was always fondue.
At least it meant that if Tony was aware of his feelings, he didn’t mind them. He was probably used to people wanting him when he didn’t reciprocate. Tony was brilliant, but he wasn’t exactly warm to everyone. Few people had this exception—Pepper, Bruce and Steve; at least those were the ones he knew about. Even Coulson, whose supposed death had given him such vicious motivation, and Rhodey, Tony’s self-proclaimed best friend, were still treated almost callously.
He looked up at the clock and leapt to his feet eagerly before he could stop himself. Blushing in the privacy of his own apartment, he forced himself to walk sedately over to the kitchen bench to collect his keys from the bowl.
He’d stop letting Tony send Happy to get him a few weeks in. He had his own transportation, even a parking space in Stark Tower (that everyone but Pepper referred to as ‘Avengers Tower’). Besides, he liked his bike. It was custom made, given to him by a motorcycle company as...sponsorship or something. Steve wasn’t sure what he was being sponsored for, since it was prior to his joining the Avengers but Fury hadn’t allowed him to question it.
He was halfway to the tower before he was aware of it. Shaking his head at his own distraction, he turned into the underground parking lot. “Evening, Jarvis,” he greeted.
“Hello Captain,” the AI answered. “Shall I tell Mister Stark you’ve arrived?”
“I’m sure he’s expecting me, don’t worry yourself, Jarvis.” Steve said, smiling. The elevator pinged as it reached the top floor and the doors opened smoothly. He unwrapped his scarf and hung it up on the hook beside the door. “Tony!” he called. “I’m here.” No answer came and he shrugged, taking off his motorcycle jacket. “Hey, do you have any more of those imported mangoes left? I’ve been craving them all week...”
He trailed off, spotting Brie standing by the mirror, clearly dressed up for a night out. “Hello,” he said awkwardly.
She gave him a cold look. “Tony!” she said, turning to yell back towards the house. “Steve is here!”
The engineer appeared, tying his tie with a frown. “Cap?” He asked, confused. “What are you doing here?”
Steve’s stomach sunk. “It’s Thursday.”
“Thursday? What—ohh.” Tony shuffled guiltily. “Fondue Night.” He finished buttoning his tie. “I thought we could do it tomorrow night instead.”
Steve felt utterly devastated. “Why? We always do Thursday night. Even the League of Villains know that.”
“Tony, darling, we’re going to be late,” Brie cooed, hanging on to his arm. She turned to Steve and gave him a bland smile. “We’re going to a movie premiere.”
“Right,” Steve said. He set his jaw and straightened his posture. “You two enjoy your night. Is it okay if I use the gym?”
“You’re always welcome to anything in the Tower, Cap,” Tony said, still frowning in agitation.
Steve hummed in acknowledgement, catching Brie’s flash of irritated expression though Tony didn’t. He nodded to them both and headed back into the elevator.
He destroyed three punching bags and didn’t feel guilty.