Blue Star Diner (somewhere off I-90 near Missoula, Montana)
“Take a seat by the window and I’ll be right with you, handsome,” shouts a waitress with blue hair, a crisp blue and white checked uniform, a red trimmed white apron with a blue stars along the edge. Steve scratches his jaw and chooses a window booth. The seats are comfortable faded red leather, the tabletop edged in cold metal. Tapping his fingers on the table, he lets his eyes roam around the interior of the Blue Star Diner. There are the framed pictures on the wall, and he can’t help but smile sheepishly when his eyes fall on a Captain America poster.
“My Arnold used to collect all those Captain America comics when he was a kid. Coffee?” says the waitress handing him a laminated menu and brandishing a carafe of coffee.
“Yes, ma’am,” Steve says glancing down at the menu in his hand. The waitress, Lynette, according to the name written on the red name badge pinned to her uniform, flips over a white mug on the table, fills it to the brim, and pulls a handful of creamers out of her apron pocket. “Thanks.”
“I’ll give you a minute,” Lynette says wandering off to refill the empty coffee mugs on another table. Steve is halfway through reading the menu when his phone buzzes inside his jacket. He pulls his phone out and slides his thumb across the screen.
Darcy: Are you still coming to visit today?
He can’t help but smile at that. Darcy’s his...well, Darcy is his best friend. His only friend outside of the team. The reason he has stopped in a tiny diner in Montana on his drive along I-90 to Seattle.
Steve: I’m at the Blue Star Diner. The map on my phone says I'm about an hour out from you?
He sets down his phone, sips his coffee, and looks through the menu while he waits for Darcy’s reply. He doesn’t have to wait long.
Darcy: Pfft. Not the way you drive, Rogers.
Darcy: Order the Blue Star Meatloaf.
Darcy: Lynette’s pies are the bomb.
Darcy: Don’t tell my grandmother I said that. :oX
Darcy: See you after lunch then. :o)
Steve: I promise not to tell. See you soon, Darcy.
“Have you decided on lunch?” Lynette asks, brandishing a notepad and a red pen with a blue star bouncing on a spring.
“My friend says I have to order the Blue Star Meatloaf.”
“Hashbrowns, mashed potatoes, or fries with that?”
“All three and a vanilla shake,” Steve says, and Lynette looks him over with a little humming sound.
“Anything else, handsome?”
“What pies are on the menu today?”
“Cherry, apple, caramel apple, peach, blueberry, chocolate cream, rhubarb, and strawberry.”
“I’ll have a slice of cherry and a slice of the caramel apple please,” Steve says smiling up at Lynette who shakes her head and scribbles his order down on her note pad.
The ride through the town of White Pine proves enlightening, with its neat brick buildings, colorful bunting flapping in the breeze, and lights strung across the street. When he stops to let a family cross the street, his eyes alight on Lewis & Co General Store, Lewis and Sons Law Offices, and Lewis Books.
The road to the Double L ranch is narrow and twisting with views of open fields, trees, and mountains in the distance. He makes the turn onto the Lewis family property. The drive is tree lined, the sprawling house hidden behind a row of pine trees. He had expected a small ranch house, but the Lewis house is huge, two floors, stone fireplaces, and a wraparound porch. He kicks the stand on his bike, grabs his bag, and heads for the open door.
“Steve,” Darcy shouts when he raises his hand to knock on the doorframe. She’s a blur of red and glossy brown curls when she barrels into his chest, wrapping her arms around him. Steve lets his bag drop to the floor and hugs her back, breathing in the apple scent of her hair. From the first day he met Darcy months ago she has always been affectionate towards him, towards everyone, and he can never find the words to express how nice it is to be treated like everyone else. “I thought I heard the bike roar up.”
“Hello, Darce, miss me?” Steve says dryly, though he can’t keep the grin off his face, and can’t help tightening his arms around her just a little bit more. Darcy looks up at him, scrunching her nose, and tilting her head to the side.
“It’s been all of two weeks since we watched Gone with the Wind together, and you stole all the jelly beans.”
“I did not,” Steve says, slightly affronted, he only ate most of the jelly beans, not all of them.
“Pfft. Starburst Jelly Beans, Steven. You owe me a bag,” Darcy pouts, reaching up to pinch his cheek.
“Quit it, Darce,” he grumbles, pushing her hand away. Darcy grins, pushes her glasses up on her nose, and bends down to heft up his bag.
“Damn, what the hell have you got in here, Steve? Rocks?”
“Give me that,” he says, making a grab for his leather bag, and Darcy dances back a step out of his reach.
“So I finally get to meet your boyfriend,” says a voice down the hallway. Steve looks up to see an elderly woman with wild white curls, kind eyes, and sharp smile.
“He isn’t my boyfriend. He’s just my friend, Grammy,” Darcy says, shifting his bag from one hand to the other.
“Mhmm, just keep on saying that, dear.”
“Steve, meet Grandma Lewis.”
“Call me Betty,” Grandma Lewis says.
“Grammy, meet Steve Rogers, my best friend, you know aside from my iPod. Oh and my laptop,” Darcy grins, rocking up onto her toes, his bag swinging back and forth in her hands as Grandma Lewis steps closer and takes his hand in both of hers.
“Don’t I feel honored,” Steve says, arching a brow at Darcy.
“You should be,” Darcy says, sticking her tongue out at him.
“Well, aren’t you a fine specimen of a man,” Betty says feeling up his arm and patting his chest.
“Er, thank you?” Steve says, rubbing the back of his neck, Darcy snickering beside him.
“Which room can I put Steve in? The blue guest room?” Darcy asks as he fails at pulling his bag out of her hands.
“Oh no, dear, Tommy will be flying in tonight with his boyfriend. Steve will be in your room,” Betty smiles and pats the side of his face.
“That liar. Tom said he wasn’t gonna make it,” Darcy pouts.
“That’s because you asked him. I just told him, dear.”
“Is there a hotel in town? I can go—”
“No. You’re here, you’re family,” Betty nods and claps her hands together.
“Come on, Steve, I’ll show you my room. It’ll be fine,” Darcy says, tugging on his jacket sleeve.
“But—” Steve starts, planting his feet firmly.
“No use arguing with her. You can’t win, believe me, even my mother can’t win an argument with her.”
“No need to keep the door open, dear. I wouldn’t if I were you,” Betty says with a leer and wiggles her eyebrows.
“Go on skedaddle now. I have things to do,” Betty says with a slightly unnerving smile, making a shooing gesture with her hands. Darcy hefts his bag up on her shoulder and steps towards the curving wooden staircase.
“Come on, Steve,” Darcy says, looking over her shoulder at him. Steve takes a step to follow her when a hand squeezes his ass and his step falters.
“Oh, if only I was forty years younger,” Betty cackles behind him as he chases up the stairs after Darcy.
“Your grandmother just...” Steve trails off when they reach the relative safety of the top of the stairs.
“Grammy just what?” Darcy turns to look at him eyebrows twitching up.
“Uh, never mind,” he mutters, scratching the back of his neck and taking a closer look at the framed photographs hanging on the walls.
“She pinched your ass didn’t she?” Darcy grins crookedly at him and he huffs out a laugh. “I can’t say I blame her. What? Don’t look at me like that. Just because we’re friends and nothing more doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the view. Or that you can’t either.”
“Um,” Steve says, keeping his eyes on a photograph of a group of five children, four older boys and a little girl holding a puppy in her arms. “Is that you?” he asks, it’s a cowardly move but he isn’t going to admit that he has definitely noticed and admired Darcy’s curves on more than one occasion.
“Yup, my brothers, too. They will all be here for dinner later...apparently. I may have forgotten to mention it’s a bit of a full house around here this week. It’s this whole town anniversary thing. There are picnics and a carnival—the whole small town gig, yanno?” Darcy says, stepping down the hall and opening a door. Steve nods, but he really has no idea about small town community spirit. “This is us.”
Darcy’s room is neater than he expected, done up in creams and purples, a window seat with an open book and Darcy’s iPod, a large desk with her laptop and an open bag of Starburst Jelly Beans. She drops his bag on the corner of her four poster bed and plops down beside it. “Closet's there, bathroom is through that door. It's gonna be just like a slumber party, we can stay up late eating junk food and watching bad movies on my laptop."
“How is that different than any other night we hang out,” he asks, though he isn’t at all convinced he shouldn’t go find a hotel for the night. It’s true that they do tend to spend a lot of time together, at least since he and Beth went their separate ways. It still didn’t mean that it was fine to have two single people share the same bed. Steve’s never thought of Darcy as anything other than a friend who managed to worm her way into his life despite his being a grumpy bastard most of the time. Darcy rolled with his moods, sat with him after bad missions and his breakup with Beth, who couldn’t deal with him coming back from missions busted up and, in Darcy’s words, ‘hissing like an angry cat’. Still.
“Stop thinking so hard, Steve. What’s the worst that can happen? We’re totes cool. You’re my best friend. Really, dude, you need to chillax. We can paint each other’s nails, and you can tell me stories about how much things cost in the good old days.”
"Chillax," Steve says flatly as he unzips his bag and pulls out a neatly folded checked shirt. Darcy snorts, flopping back on the bed, stretching her arms over her head. Her green t-shirt rides up, revealing pale skin above the top of her jeans. Steve swallows hard, focusing on pulling a few books and his Kindle from his bag.
"What is the rule about using modern slang?"
"I forget. Why don't you remind me?” he smirks, and Darcy rolls her eyes and grabs one of his books, idly flipping through the pages. “Were you going to tell me about all this?”
“The house? The shops in town with the Lewis name on them.”
“Oh that,” Steve mocks softly, raising his brows as he pulls his toiletries bag out and fiddles with the zipper.
“Big family,” Darcy sits up, shrugs, and pulls the bag out of his hands and takes it to the bathroom for him as she talks. “Grammy had eight children, and before that Great-Grandpa Lewis had ten. There are a lot of cousins and second cousins. Not everyone still lives in town, but a lot of them will be here for Grammy’s birthday and the Barn Dance.”
“Oh God, you don’t want to go to that, believe me. It couldn’t be any more cliché, but it raises a lot of money for the town and its charities. Grand tour?” Darcy says before dragging him out of her room and taking him on a whirlwind tour of the house. She babbles on as they walk through the rooms and out onto the covered porch, around through the kitchen, pilfering cornbread muffins from the cooling rack. Steve tries to examine the family photographs dotted all over the house, but anytime he looks too closely at them Darcy tugs on his shirt sleeve to distract him.
“No. Oh God, no, Tom! You would have to pay me money or do a Clockwork Orange on me to make me watch that,” Darcy says as she leans forward, spearing the last pork chop out from under the nose of her eldest brother, Will, and drops it on his plate.
“Hey, lizard breath, that was mine,” Will says, fork still held up.
“Bite me, Billy Bob. You weren’t quick enough and Steve’s a guest.”
“Darce, I don’t want to be a bother,” Steve says, frowning down at the pork chop on his plate.
“Don’t worry, Steve. It’s fine, Will’s supposed to be on a diet anyway. Right, Melinda?” Darcy asks, turning to look at Will’s wife as she spoons food into her youngest child’s mouth. The baby spits out the green peas and shoves a fist into his mouth, and Melinda sighs and wipes her hands on a napkin.
“Eat your salad, Will,” Melinda says, lips twitching as Will grumbles and spears a piece of tomato with his fork.
“Steven, our Darcy tells us you work at SI with her. That’s how you met?” Elaine asks, and he sets his cutlery down to answer.
“Yes, I work in SI, but we—”
“Oh my god, Mom. Enough with the questions. Steve’s not on the witness stand,” Darcy says as she breaks a cornbread muffin in half, placing the larger half on the edge of his plate.
“I just want to know who the man is that is sleeping in my daughter’s bed,”
“You never questioned the boys on who they brought home. Remember when you and Daddy went to Vegas for your anniversary and came back early? Which was lucky as Tommy’s girlfriend was in the middle of robbing us blind.”
“Hey,” Tom shouts, pointing his fork full of potatoes at Darcy.
“Sorry, Tom, but you have terrible taste in women. Thank god your taste in men is better,” Darcy grins, raises her glass at Tom’s boyfriend, Nathan, who grins back and pats Tom’s cheek.
“We can all drink to that, Thomas,” Betty laughs raising her bottle of beer and taking a sip.
“I just want to know—” Elaine starts to say.
“Ellie, leave them alone. Steven’s a very sweet boy. I like him better than when Michael brought you home,” Betty says pointedly. Elaine splutters, and Darcy’s dad, Michael, sighs heavily and shakes his head.
The rest of dinner had been no less interesting than the start. Darcy sat beside him and made general commentary on her family while rebuffing any other questions her mother sent his way. It had been nice in the end, watching Darcy interact with her family. Long after the coffee had been drunk and the chocolate cake demolished, it was late and time for bed. He was more than a little bit anxious of the sleeping arrangement by the time they had closed the bedroom door leaving them alone in Darcy’s room. Logically, it shouldn’t be any different than all the times Darcy fell asleep on his shoulder while they watched whatever movies she or his team felt was imperative to watch.
“Stop it,” Darcy says as she pulls something out of a drawer while he runs his fingers along the seam of his t-shirt.
“Being weird....well, weirder than normal.”
“And we’re friends because?” he arches a brow, letting his hands fall to the side and picking up his Kindle.
“Because I’m awesome and you love me,” Darcy grins, poking him in the side on her way to the bathroom.
“You are awesome,” he agrees, sitting at the head of the bed and slipping his socks off. Steve settles down with his Kindle while Darcy gets ready for bed in the bathroom. He is midway down the page when Darcy steps out of the bathroom, her hair braided over her shoulder and sparkly red polish on her toes. "What are you wearing?" Steve blurts out.
"Uh, pajamas," Darcy says, tugging at her pajama bottoms covered in the cartoon faces of himself and his team. "They're cute. Grammy bought them for me last week."
"No buts. I'm wearing this for your benefit, Rogers. Normally I sleep naked," Darcy says as she pulls the quilt back and hops into bed. Her breasts bounce in her blue tank top and Steve struggles to tear his eyes away from the sight.
"I didn't need to know that," he huffs out, rubbing his knuckles along his jaw.
"The more you know," Darcy says waving her arm in an arc her hand opened wide. Steve stares at her blankly, brow furrowed. "Sheesh, tough crowd."
They end up watching movies on Darcy’s laptop until she falls asleep beside him, her glasses perched crookedly on her nose. He takes her glasses and folds them up carefully before placing them on her bedside table. Steve brushes a strand of hair away from her face, her nose wrinkles at his touch and she burrows down into her pillow. He checks his email on Darcy’s laptop, replies to a few before closing it and settling down to sleep a carefully measured distance from Darcy’s sleeping form.