Thor Odinson didn’t actually come to New York to make friends; he mostly came to New York because he wasn’t sure where else to go. Having been ejected from the family business, he had few options. He’d managed to find backing from the venture capital firm Selvig Foster Lewis, who fortunately knew a good investment when they saw one, but they’d also gently insisted he open in a specific neighborhood and Lewis had made a few minor demands when it came to the brewpub. Nothing he couldn’t do, of course; he was very good at beer.
But he had come here to make beer and cook food, not to socialize, at least not at first. It had been a surprise, a delightful surprise, to find that the fellow in the food truck was as good as a brother and more loyal than some he could name; that the frankly strange people who cooked in the dark at SHIELD down the street were also sly and funny; and that the madmen at TOBRU appreciated gastropub fare. He’d been worried, secretly, that they’d turn up their nose at his crab crisps and the things he did with herring. People could be snobs about herring.
“Steve!” he called, at the end of a relatively quiet Sunday night, when he saw Steve walk into the pub. Steve waved, gave him a somewhat unenthusiastic smile, and settled at the corner of the bar where even the hipsters who’d seen his recent documentary wouldn’t bother him. Thor ambled over and asked, “Crab crisps or baconost crackers?”
“Just a beer,” Steve said. “Whatever’s on tap.”
Thor raised an eyebrow. Steve was as picky about drinking as he was about eating; he could taste a lot in a single sip of beer and normally he was very specific about what he wanted.
“Something troubles you, my friend,” he said, deciding that Steve definitely needed baconost crackers and teriyaki venison skewers to raise his spirits. He poured out an IPA and a shot of Akvavit, flashed them at the sous chef, got a nod in return, and brought them over to Steve. Steve did brighten a little when he saw the IPA.
“Just a long day,” Steve said. Thor held out the shot glass and Steve shot it back, which gave him just enough time to slip the plate of baconost crackers onto the bar without Steve being able to stop him.
“Venison skewers are coming,” Thor informed him.
“Honest, Thor – “
“When our friends are distressed, we feed them. This is the way of chefs,” Thor pointed out. “Would you thwart my need to provide comfort?”
“No, just – “
“Eat a cracker,” Thor ordered, holding up the thin, buttery crisp with a dollop of bacon and cheese on top. Steve sighed and popped it in his mouth. “Is that not better?”
“All right, so it’s better,” Steve admitted.
“Now, tell your bartender what troubles you.”
Steve shot him an amused look. “You really love playing this role, don’t you?”
“I’m in earnest. It hurts that you doubt my desire to hear your woes,” Thor told him, clutching his chest.
“I just thought Tony and I had a date for tonight after TOBRU’s dinner rush, but the Parker kid got them in the weeds – “
“Surely not, he’s so quick! Like a little spider.”
“Well, I don’t know the details, but the point is, Tony’s still in the kitchen, he barely had a minute to tell me he’d be late if he manages to show up at all, and I don’t even know…” Steve shrugged. Thor handed him another cracker. “I don’t have relationships a lot.”
“Who has the time? If Jane Foster weren’t an investor in Mjolnir, we’d never see each other,” Thor said.
“I doubt that,” Steve replied slyly. “It’s just – I don’t know how to read any of the signs, and Tony’s got all this experience, and I’m just a guy in a food truck.”
“Not just. He takes great delight in you!”
“Maybe. Sometimes I wonder if he’s blowing me off. I know we’re all married to our kitchens, but I don’t know how to tell when the kitchen is an excuse.” Steve looked up at him. “Am I needy?”
Thor gaped. “Did he say such a thing? He’s not too famous for a thrashing!”
“No! Just. I don’t know if I am! I don’t know if he’s serious or if I’m just, you know, convenient because I’m always around.“
Thor gave this due consideration. “Life in this city is very different, you know, to where I came from. Asgard Grill is large, but the people are less formal, less concerned with niceties. Sometimes I too have trouble understanding certain signs and signals. But I think Tony and Bruce are blunt men as well. Surely if he wished to be rid of you he’d just feed you more kale.”
Steve, whose dislike of greens was well-known in their little circle, made a face.
“You see, my friend? He entices you. His new tasting menu is nearly all food I know you have licked and enjoyed.”
“Oh my god, you’ll never let the licking thing go, will you?” Steve asked, as one of the waitstaff dropped a place of venison skewers on the bar. Thor took one and handed the other one to Steve, who gnawed on the crispy edges of the meat with delicate bites.
“Well, if you are so fearful, you may as well ask. The worst that will happen is he’ll end it then and there,” Thor said pragmatically.
“That’s horrible!” Steve exclaimed.
“Yes, but over quickly.”
Steve sulked over his venison. “Maybe I should grow a mustache. Keep things interesting.”
“That will not help your reputation as a hipster, my friend. Though you will recall I have many times advised you to embrace it. The right hipsters have money to spend on grass-fed beef,” Thor reminded him, gesturing around the pub, where more than a few of the remaining diners were wearing obscure band t-shirts and had full-sleeve tattoos.
Steve gnawed on his skewer. “It’s probably nothing.”
Thor glanced over Steve’s shoulder as the door opened, and then turned to Steve with a grin. “I suspect you’re right. I’ll bring you a porter.”
“A port – what – “ Steve followed his gaze. Tony was standing in the doorway, looking around, and his face lit with a grin when he landed on Steve. Thor strategically retreated, pulling a pint for Tony and plating the last of the night’s crab crisps, Tony’s particular favorite, while Tony kissed Steve (also Tony’s particular favorite, and everyone in the world could see that except perhaps Steve) hello.
“Oh my God, I know your day was long but I win, that was hellish,” he heard Tony say as he sat on the stool next to Steve. Steve leaned his chin on a fist and watched him talk, the most besotted young man Thor had seen since their butcher at Asgard Grill, Volstagg, was courting. “The promise of this is literally the only thing that kept me from choking half my staff and all of my patrons with exploding jello shots.”
“Can you truly make jello shots explode?” Thor asked, as he brought Tony’s drink and snack over. Tony stuffed two crab crisps into his mouth and washed them down with the beer.
“I’m going to find out,” he said. “Thor, you are a bosom pal. Now shoo, I’m wooing.”
Thor gave Steve a pointed look. Steve rolled his eyes and nodded.
“Anyway, seriously, you can ask Bruce, by ten I was just muttering date with Steve, date with Steve. I’m really sorry I’m late.”
“That’s okay,” Steve said, as Thor wandered off to give them some privacy.
“So, how was your evening?” Tony pressed. “Did you sell a lot of organic things?”
Thor sat just out of earshot, so that he could bask in his friends being happy without invading their privacy. He kept one eye on Steve’s gradually widening smile as he worked on some new food pairings for a beer tasting flight he was going to introduce. He was determined to make New Yorkers appreciate Smörgåstårta if he had to invent a whole new kind of beer to do it.
By the time he’d worked out the pairings, Steve and Tony were sitting close, Tony talking fast and urgent as usual, Steve relaxed and cheerful now that he’d apparently been reassured.
Clint and Natasha, crossing the street from SHIELD, greeted Bruce outside Mjolnir, waving take-out boxes; Thor gestured them to come in, and left Tony and Steve to their canoodling so he could get first crack at whatever food they’d brought along.