Steve clasped Sam on the back in the threshold to his apartment. “Thanks for coming,” he told Sam. Throwing a thumb over his shoulder, Steve said: “Let me grab my keys and phone and we can get going.”
Sam nodded, hands in his pockets as he waited just inside the doorway. “No problem. Not like you’ve had thirty minutes to be ready for me.”
Steve snorted as he tucked his wallet into one pocket and his phone in the other. His keys jangled in his hand as he headed to the door. “What are the kids saying? ‘Bite me’.”
“Maybe the kids in nineteen ninety-five. Nowadays it’s probably 'blow me.’”
Fighting hard to keep a straight face, Steve pointed out: “I think Tony’s called monopoly on that one.”
Sam laughed hard at that. As they started down the stairs of Steve’s brownstone Sam prodded: “So where we going? You just said 'errands’: you got anything more specific in mind?”
Steve nodded. “Yeah, yeah. Just the grocery store, general store, and…” Steve stuck his tongue out as he fished for his phone, determined to get this right. “And some place called 'Bath and Body Works. Does that make sense? That’s a place, right?”
Sam snorted. “Yeah, it’s a place. What, run out of rose-scented soaps? Don’t you wash your hair with hand soap?”
“I don’t see any reason why that doesn’t make sense,” Steve grumbled good-naturedly at the old argument. “And it’s for Tony. I snapped some pictures of the stuff he uses in his bathroom. I thought maybe it was time I stocked up on that stuff, for when he stays over.”
Sam wolf-whistled as they bustled down the street. “Buying bubble bath for the boyfriend? Things are getting serious, huh?”
Steve fought down a blush as they jogged down the subway steps. “Seems like common courtesy, is all. He does spend the night here often enough, and. You know.”
Sam snorted as they settled onto the subway. “Looks like chivalry isn’t dead. Though I guess the morality action groups wouldn’t be too interested in holding this particular case up as an example.”
“Well they can…” Glancing around for innocent ears, Steve leaned in and lowered his voice: “'blow me.’”
Sam’s roaring laughter was swept away with the train.
Steve fiddled with his phone as they stepped into this Bath and Body store. He had a whole list of photos to go through-–he just hoped they had most of the stuff he needed here. He had gotten a hit on the Google when he searched for the name brand on the side of one of Tony’s lotions, but some of the products in his shower didn’t have labels on them. Not to mention some of them Steve wasn’t sure if they were bath products at all.
“Excuse me, Miss?” Steve got the attention of a young lady stacking bottles of… something. She looked back at him and smiled big, though it didn’t seem to be a smile of recognition-–thank goodness. It was nice to stay anonymous sometimes. “I need a little help finding some things. I have pictures and was wondering…” He held his phone out to her with a smile.
“Of course! What’s the first thing?”
“You took pictures?” Sam mumbled behind him. “Stalker…”
Steve rolled his eyes. He smiled reassuringly at the young woman. “It’s for my boyfriend. He has a lot of products I don’t use and I wanted to do something nice.”
The woman’s nose wrinkled in a cute little smile at this. “Oh, sure! Let me see.” She thumbed at the first photo. “That’s a sugar scrub. We have a whole line right here against the wall. Do you know what scent he likes?”
The next ten minutes were a blur of scent-testing and piles of plastic bottles and cups being hoisted into Steve’s-–and then Sam’s–-arms. As Steve reached the end of his photo list he grew more nervous. He had saved something he wasn’t sure of for last, mostly because… well. It had all the hallmarks of a future thing. Something he just didn’t get because he was still a stranger to this world.
Steve fiddled with his phone for a long moment as he stared at the last item. The salesclerk waited patiently, smiling encouragingly at him. “Is there something else?” she finally asked.
Steve smiled and rubbed the back of his head. “I’m not sure,” he admitted before holding out the phone to her. “It’s a… Well. It’s a rock. That my boyfriend keeps in the shower. I’m not sure if it’s for decoration or an actual… showering… tool? It might even be for cleaning the shower but I don’t think so, Ton- my boyfriend isn’t exactly the cleaning type, you know?” The thought had crossed Steve’s mind that the little oval rock in Tony’s bathroom might be a sex toy, but Tony had introduced him to most of those already-–at least, so it seemed to Steve. Not to mention that the rock was much too rough to be sensual. Probably.
The woman’s expression stayed pleasantly bland as she looked at the photo and nodded, but from behind Steve came raucous laughter.
“Is it a pumice stone? Are you asking the poor lady’s about a pumice stone?”
Steve frowned and glanced back at Sam. “I don’t know. It’s a rough rock Tony keeps in the shower. I figured since I was coming here for all that other stuff anyways I’d ask the expert…”
Sam groaned to himself as he fumbled for his phone. “Oh man, why wasn’t I filming this? YouTube would have died. Captain America confounded by a pumice stone.”
Steve turned back to the woman with an apologetic smile. She was staring at him wide-eyed now, but fighting valiantly to stay professional. “Is it? A, uh: 'pumice stone’?”
She smiled and handed him back his phone. “It is. And we have some! It’s for scraping away the rough dead skin on the bottoms of your feet. If you wanted to know.”
As the woman led them to the selection of pumice stones, Sam shifted his share of the bags over to Steve’s arms. “Hang on: I want you to pose with the stone. If I can’t YouTube it, I can at least Instagram it.”
Steve sighed but stuck the stone next to his head and smiled. “Wait to post that though, would you? I don’t want to spoil the surprise for Tony and he 'follows’ you on the instant grams.”
“Sometimes I think you do the folksy talk just to get your way,” Sam grumbled, but he held his phone to his chest. “And yes, I solemnly swear to wait a week before sharing this nugget with the world. After you share that nugget with Tony.”
Two nights later, Tony rolled off a still sweaty and dozing Steve and padded off to the shower. Steve perked up as the water rushed on, lifting his head toward his bathroom. A minute later he was rewarded when Tony called out “Hey! You got stuff for me!”
Sticking his head through the bathroom door Steve smiled gamely. “Yeah, just for. You know. Days like today.”
“Seriously, I should have just brought my own stuff, this can get expensive.” Steve watched as Tony picked up the pumice stone and proceeded to scrub the underside of his feet with it. The future sure was amazing, sometimes.
The next morning when Tony stuck Sam’s Instagram page in Steve’s face and howled with laughter, Steve grumbled as he scrubbed his breakfast dishes. And sometimes the future was amazingly irksome, too.