Steve had been lounging in the corner of the TOBRU kitchen during a slow time for the food truck, watching Tony and Bruce do prep in advance of the nightly rush, when someone yelled the name. Every head in the kitchen lifted and turned as Pepper, who had been discussing the night's specials with one of the waitstaff, let out a yell and ran down one of the kitchen's narrow aisles.
She collided in a hug near the doorway with a tall, slim, youngish man in jeans and a rugby shirt under a green jacket; for a second Steve thought Jarvis must be some secret boyfriend he hadn't been introduced to, until Tony came forward and also hugged the man. Steve narrowed his eyes.
"Look at you," Tony said, clearly pleased, stepping back and holding this Jarvis by the arms, studying him. "You look great. I mean, for a loser who abandoned me."
Steve's eyes narrowed further.
"Well, one can't stay in one place forever," Jarvis said, in a cultured English accent. "And you were frankly holding me back."
Steve's eyes became suspicious slits in his face.
"I was preparing you," Tony admonished, dragging the interloper into the kitchen. "Hey, come here, meet your replacement."
Steve almost stood up, because clearly this was some ex of Tony's, and he was about to be icily polite when Tony, instead of reaching for him, gestured at Peter to stop chopping carrots and come forward.
"Jarvis, Peter Parker. Peter, this is Jarvis, he was my last protege," Tony said, as the two men shook hands. Steve relaxed a fraction. Protege. That sounded distinctly nonsexual. "Maybe when I get tired of you and fire you for real you can join him in exile."
"He thinks he's funny because I didn't open my own white-tablecloth avant-garde monstrosity," Jarvis said.
"He thinks he's funny at all," Tony said. "Oh! Oh my god, Steve! Good, great. Steve c'mere," he said, so eagerly that Steve allowed himself to relax a little more and stood up, though he still eyed Jarvis warily. "Jarvis, look at this, Look at him," Tony continued, shoving Steve forward. "Look. I have a social life."
Jarvis smiled with disarming charm. "You must be Steve," he said, offering his hand. "Tony texts about you with alarming frequency. Also, I ate at 107 once. You made the most amazing potato-leek soup I've ever eaten."
"Uh," Steve said. 107 had been his restaurant, back before what he could now recognize as a tiny minor nervous breakdown that had led to War On Hunger. "Thank you."
"It's such a pleasure."
"Jarvis trained under me and then abandoned me to open a gastropub," Tony said, hovering around them like an excited bee. "In Williamsburg."
"Williamsburg is where people who like gastropubs are," Jarvis said imperturbably.
"Wait, you're not Vision Jarvis, are you?" Steve asked.
"Yes! You've heard of it?"
"Bucky and Sam and I had dinner there like a week ago," Steve said. "The house-made sausage was amazing."
"Wait, why were you having house-made sausage with Bucky and Sam instead of me?" Tony asked.
"Because you were, quote, blowing things up with Bruce, and Bucky and Sam need me as some kind of weird third wheel so they can pretend they aren't dating," Steve replied.
"Why are they pretending they aren't dating?" Tony asked, sidetracked.
"I don't know, I assume they'll figure it out eventually," Steve said. Jarvis was watching them, starry-eyed.
"Sorry," he said, composing himself. "It's just, this is a bit like one's father bringing home a new date and it's your favorite football player."
"You are fired for calling me your dad," Tony told him.
"You can't fire me, I quit fourteen months ago."
"You were fired, fired for wanting to open a gastropub."
"He's an investor, you know," Jarvis told Steve, who looked at Tony. "He owns 25% of Vision."
"And have you ever brought me a house-made sausage?" Tony asked. Jarvis, poker-faced, reached into the pocket of his coat and produced a paper-wrapped package. Tony's eyes got huge.
"Listen, I can't stay, I just came to bribe you with sausage and tell you we're having an industry night on Monday," Jarvis said, as Tony pressed the package to his nose and inhaled. "We're hosting some lectures on gastronomy, very short things, like TEDtalks? I'd love for you to come and speak."
"Monday, Monday -- BRUCE!" Tony called.
"OH MY GOD, JUST GO," Bruce called back.
"He's my favorite," Tony said.
"You're welcome too, of course," Jarvis said to Steve. "I was planning to ask Tony if he'd bring you."
"Love to," Steve said. "Is it open-invite? I could probably drag Potato Rescue and Mjolnir along, maybe the kids from Chaotic Neutral? It's the bakery down the street."
"Oh, do! The more the merrier. Anyway, I must be off. Next time you're someone's awkward third wheel, call ahead, I'll make sure to have something exciting for you."
"You're not allowed to dump me for him," Tony said, as soon as Jarvis was out of earshot.
"You are the most insecure diva I've ever met," Steve replied.
"He does make really great sausage," Bruce said as he elbowed his way past with a platter of something alarmingly pink.
"I'm pretty sure if I want house-made gastropub sausage from Vision I can convince the co-owner to buy me some," Steve said, as Tony hid the sausage away in the fridge. "Go, cook," he added, kissing Tony on the forehead. "I'll come by in a few hours and put a pot of my infamous potato-leek soup on for after the rush."
"LOVE YOU BEST!" Tony's voice drifted out, as Steve strolled out of the kitchen and across the parking lot to War on Hunger.