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This Little Piggie Went To Texas

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“Tony? Why are your toes pink?”

Tony barely flicked a glance away from the computerised glass tablet in his hands when Steve asked, but a smile quirked the corner of his lips as he answered. “I know a lot has changed since you were a kid, Cap, but I really hadn’t thought basic human circulation was one of them. You see, blood flows from--”

Steve rolled his eyes. “I meant, why are your toenails pink?”

“Hmm?” Tony moved the pad enough to look at his own feet kicked up onto the coffee table in front of them, and then quickly shrugged and continued typing with one hand. “Oh. I got tired of the green.”

“You...paint your toenails.”

Tony stopped typing, letting the tablet drop to his lap as he turned his head to look at Steve more fully. “Really? This is what you stumble over?”

“Huh?”

Tony rolled his eyes and gestured dramatically between them. “Of all the shit that is my life, my extravagant life style, of all my choices, and all the things that everyone thought you’d have a problem with me over--and there are a lot of things on that list, believe me, Fury sent out memos listing them all. He even included a few Pepper had thought were so vanilla, they hadn’t even occurred to her to yell at me about yet--the thing that you finally do have a problem with is the fact that I paint my toenails?”

“I never said I had a problem with it.”

Tony raised one eyebrow high.

Steve sighed and threw his hands in the air. “I really did grow up in this city, you know. Went to art college and everything. And it was art college, Tony. Even back in the 40’s, guys in art college liked to get high and paint anything.”

Tony blinked a few times, and then grinned hugely. “Cap, are you saying that you’ve--”

“I’m saying,” Steve talked right over him, knowing however Tony finished that sentence would end in Steve blushing, and that wasn’t the point of this. “that I didn’t realize you painted your toenails.” He finished. Tony was still smirking. Steve shook his head. “I didn’t say I was scandalized by it. Just that I didn’t expect it. Or didn’t notice it before.”

Tony’s grin didn’t fade at all, but he did lean forward enough to toss his tablet onto the coffee table. When he sat back, he settled into the corner of the couch, one arm draped across the back. “It’s not that uncommon, these days. Perfectly valid form of personal expression and all that.”

Steve raised an eyebrow, trying not to let his own smile show. “So you’re telling me if you went walking barefoot though the city, no one would raise an eyebrow at your toes?”

Tony snorted. “Cap, this is New York. Anyone stupid enough to walk barefoot along these streets is going to--”

Steve waved one hand. “You know what I mean. Fine, if you were to walk along the beach then.”

“Again, we’re still--”

“Tony--”

Tony chuckled, but then shrugged. “Depends where the beach was.” When Steve looked ready to sigh his name again, Tony shook his head. “No, I mean that seriously. If I walked along a beach in Dakar, Senegal, I’d probably get a lot of strange looks. Not because I’m a man, but just because nail polish in general isn’t exactly common. But if I were to walk along South Beach, Florida, the most notice I get would be a compliment on the color, or a warning that it clashes with my skin tone.”

“And what about something in between those two extremes? An ordinary beach in America.”

“Los Angeles would--”

“From what I’ve seen, LA isn’t normal for anywhere.” Steve loved making Tony grin at him by being unexpectedly snarky. He tried not to abuse it. “The Gulf Coast in Texas?”

Tony coughed and didn’t look in Steve’s eyes for a second. “Obie says I’m not allowed in Texas anymore.”

“You’re not...oh, God, Tony, what did--”

Tony sat forward quickly, pulling his arms closer to his body. “Look, in my defence, it was a very boring conference! And you ask anyone, it was all much more interesting after the peyote.”

Steve let his head drop and closed his eyes. “And I’m going to take a guess that peyote is either a hallucinogen, or an aphrodisiac?”

“Well, the former, yes. The latter, it depends on who you’re using it with. I thought you said that you went to art college.”

Even without looking at him, Steve could feel the emphasis in the words. He wondered if Tony was doing that air quotes thing that Clint had taught Thor to do. “Just because I was aware of what went on around me--”

“Oh, you lying liar who lies!” Tony cackled. “You said it exactly so that I would think--”

Steve finally did laugh, shaking his head as he looked back at Tony again. “And you are changing the subject! Are you seriously telling me that if you went walking along a beach in Texas, no one would raise an eyebrow at the very male Tony Stark walking around with brightly painted toenails?”

Tony started to say something, then caught himself, and changed his mind, dropping his eyes for just a second, before looking back up at Steve with a begrudging shrug of one shoulder. “Well, maybe...” he paused. Then brightened. “Wait, Obie’s dead! And he totally went evil!”

Steve blinked hard; he was used to Tony’s quickfire shifts in dialogue, but this time even Steve lost track. “What?”

“I can totally go back to Texas! Rules totally don’t count when they’re made by a surrogate father who then tries to murder you multiple times!”

Steve’s mouth gaped for a moment, his brain trying to find something to say to that, but Tony had already thrown his head back with a wide grin. “JARVIS, how soon can you get me to Texas?”

“You have a morning meeting with the shareholders at 9am, Sir.”

“Yeah, sure, totally not what I asked, JARVIS.”

“It was Miss Potts who programed that into your schedule.”

Tony sighed. “Fine, fine, how soon after I get her to kick me out of the boardroom can you get me to Texas?”

“The jet will be fueled and waiting for you at 10am, Sir.”

“Excellent.” Tony hopped up, rubbing his hands. “Come on, Cap, let’s pack your swim trunks.”

Steve couldn’t help it. He started laughing. That finally got Tony to stop and look at him again. “Don’t you want to go to Texas?”

“Tony, I--”

“Aww, come on, Steve. All work and no play, yadda yadda.” Tony waved one hand in the air quickly. “No, never mind, we haven’t worked our way up to Stephen King novels yet.” He clapped his hands together happily now. “We’re playing hooky. As soon as I can play hooky without Pepper hunting me down and hurting me, that is. She’s vicious, don’t let her freckles fool you.”

“They honestly never did.” Steve shook his head, before bracing his hands on his knees and standing up, shrugging at Tony before turning to head out of the room. “I can’t go to Texas with you, Tony.”

“What? Why? Come on, now I want to walk on the beach!” Steve could hear Tony following behind him. “I bet you’ve never been to Texas, right? We’re expanding your horizons!”

Steve chuckled, “I just can’t, Tony.”

“Come on. Why not?”

Steve couldn’t help but feel smug at that whiny tone that had crept into Tony’s voice. He stopped at the doorway to turn and to point at Tony’s feet. “Because my only swim trunks are red. That color pink will clash horribly. I could never pull it off.”

Tony gaped at him for a moment, before giving a huge, shark like grin. “I do have other colors, you know. Dozens, in fact.”

Steve paused a moment longer before asking hopefully, “Purple?”

Tony blinked. “You want purple toes?”

He shrugged. “At least it wouldn’t clash.”

Tony winced. “We’ll work our way up to the differences between coordinating and complementary colors later. Sparkle, matte, or chrome?”

Steve chuckled as he turned to walk away again. “You pick.” Steve waited until his back was turned before letting the grin break free. He took two steps before pausing, and turning back to add in his most innocent ‘You Can Trust Me, I’m A Superhero’ voice, “You know, you never cease to surprise me, Tony. You truly are a good man.”

Surprise and pride both shone from Tony’s eyes for just an instant before he locked both down and checked his expression back into his standard smirk of superiority. Steve shook his head and turned to walk away again. “Most guys I know would have taken that opening as an excuse to take me to a nude beach, so I wouldn’t have to worry about clashing colors.”

Steve made it all the way to the staircase before he heard Tony’s strangled, “JARVIS!”

“The flight plan has already been altered, Sir.”

GOD, I love you, JARVIS.”

“As per your programing, the feeling is mutual, Sir.”