"Tadaa!" Tony repeated, when his first tadaa! elicited no reaction.
Steve was standing in the parking lot of TOBRU, hand over his mouth. Sam, next to him, had his thumb pressed to his mouth with his knuckles tucked under his nostrils, eyes wide. Bucky, who had weaseled one of the new experimental "hot dog croquettes" out of Sam, was chewing industriously, seemingly indifferent to the monstrosity before them.
"Is that an RV?" Steve finally asked.
"It was an RV. Now it is TRUCKBRU, the mobile eatery," Tony said proudly.
"Yes, yes, I see that," Steve nodded. TRUCKBRU: MOBILE MOLECULAR GASTRONOMY was painted in gold on the side of the cherry-red, blindingly shiny RV. "Tony, what have you done?"
"It's pretty awesome," Tony said, as if agreeing with a compliment that Steve hadn't actually paid him. "I gutted the interior, ripped out the galley kitchen, moved the kitchen to the bedroom, put the bar where the passenger's front seat used to be, and installed bench seating throughout. Very hip, very communal, super socially awkward. I can cook you a five-course meal in this motherfucker."
"You can," Sam said. "Why...why would you, Tony?"
"New York Comic Con!" Tony declared. "Steve said everyone was going, because convention food is dire and conventioneers are desperate and have cash, so I thought I'd whip something up and come join in the fun. Don't worry, it's temporary."
"You bought and gut-remodeled an RV into a mobile restaurant for a stunt?" Bucky asked around a mouthful of Vienna Beef hot dog wrapped in fried potato. Tony nodded. Bucky stuck out his fist, a huge grin on his face, and Tony bumped it proudly.
"Bruce is going to stab you," Steve said.
Which was when, with perfect timing, Bruce opened the door and climbed down, wiping his hands on a towel tucked in his apron string.
"Isn't she great?" Bruce asked.
"How the hell did you get his buy-in on this?" Sam asked.
"Bruce loves a challenge, and anyway when I found him he was running a crepe joint in a literal closet using a hot plate," Tony said. "He's used to it."
"I'm going to fill the air with flavored non-toxic bubbles," Bruce said. "Clint promised we could have him for the weekend, he's making these little edible paper airplanes you can throw into peoples' mouths."
"Does Clint know he will be cooking in a coat closet on wheels?" Steve asked.
"I'm sensing negativity," Tony said, crossing his arms. "I think you are skeptical, you giant hipster hypocrite."
"I don't let people in the truck! That's the point of a food truck, there's no seating service!" Steve insisted.
"Wait," Sam said. "You put a bar in, you said?"
"Yes," Tony said, a hint of suspicion in his face.
"Look, I got this new cocktail recipe, but it's a little too avant-garde for Potato Rescue..."
Tony threw an arm over Sam's shoulders. "Step into my office," he said, guiding him up the RV's stairs.
"I gotta go start prep, you guys need anything?" Bruce asked.
"No, we're uh, we're all set," Steve said, as Bucky finished the last of his breakfast. When Bruce was gone, Steve turned to Bucky. "Is this really happening? Are they really opening a pop-up restaurant inside an RV?"
Bucky shrugged. "I don't eat fancy things, but really, what could go wrong?"
"I don't know, but I'm going to park close by when we go to NYCC," Steve said.
"Oooh, prime seats to watch the explosions?" Bucky asked.
"Buck, no! So that I can help rescue diners when Tony sets the RV on fire."
"He almost never blows stuff up anymore," Bucky said, sounding disappointed. "You think he'd let me bartend? Oh wait no, you think he'd let me drive?"
"The going-wrong begins," Steve sighed, as Bucky got up from his perch on War On Hunger's bumper and jogged across to TRUCKBRU, banging on the door to be let in.
Tony insisted on family dinner in TRUCKBRU that night, and given the way news traveled, everyone showed up -- Thor and his investor-slash-girlfriend Jane, Sam and Steve, Logan and Kitty from the bakery, Clint and Natasha, and even Coulson and Fury arrived for the dinner that Tony and Bruce assembled in the tiny kitchen located where the bedroom used to be. Peter sat at the bar, and Bucky was allowed to sit in the driver's seat on sufferance (Tony refused to let a bike messenger drive his precious traveling eatery, but said he could be the bouncer, which pleased Bucky just as well.)
"Admit it," Sam said, helping himself to some experimental macaroni made from cheese, cooked in a vodka cream sauce. "This isn't half bad. It's kinda fun."
"I didn't say it would be bad," Steve protested. "I just think it's a poor life choice to put that many chemicals, compressed air canisters, heating elements, and homemade kitchen devices in a small metal box that's powered by highly flammable gasoline."
"Is that...not exactly what you do?" Thor asked. Steve scowled.
"If it's a hit I might convert it to hybrid!" Tony called from the kitchen, where he was finishing a number of acid-poached steaks.
"I guess if I trust anyone to heavily modify the fuel system of an RV, it'd be you," Steve called back.
"Such love. Are you undermining me because you're jealous?" Tony asked. Steve blew him a kiss. "We're not in competition. I cost too much for your clientele."
"Classist!" Steve said. Clint and Natasha were watching the exchange like it was a tennis match. Coulson was making notes on the macaroni. Fury was making notes on the other side of the notepad, analyzing Sam's as-yet untitled avant-garde potato cocktail.
"We already have reservations coming in for the six o'clock seatings," Bruce said. "Couple of celebs at the con, couple of very adventurous attendees. Plus we're doing a seating on day three for the winners of the cosplay contest, which should be awesome."
"I plan to attend and cosplay myself," Thor announced.
"What are you going as?" Steve asked curiously.
"I thought a Jaeger pilot," Thor said. Tony laughed as he brought out a huge bowl of entirely purple salad. "Jane has agreed to be my copilot."
"What's your Jaeger name?" Sam asked.
"The Crispy Crab, naturally," Thor said, and a ripple of amusement spread through TRUCKBRU.
"I could cosplay," Bruce said thoughtfully. "We have some kind of professional services pass, and we don't really need to prep until an hour or two before seating, given the TRUCKBRU menu. I could dig out my old Star Trek uniform."
"You have a Star Trek uniform like...just lying around?" Peter asked.
"Is that a problem?" Bruce asked mildly.
"No, chef," Peter said hurriedly, stuffing his face with purple salad so he wouldn't be obliged to speak further.
"What about you, Steve?" Bruce asked. "You've got a very comic book physique."
"I've got a costume lined up," Steve said.
"You do?" Tony asked blankly.
"Yeah. I'm not going to the con, I don't like big crowds or long lines," Steve said. "But I'm doing a themed menu and dressing up."
"What are you dressing up as?" Tony asked, looking like he was already picturing something skimpy.
"Tuck your tongue in," Natasha advised him.
"I'm gonna be America, from that Hetalia cartoon," Steve said. "It's a pretty easy costume, and I have the bomber jacket already."
"Huh," Sam said. "That seems like it'll really suit you."
Steve had to admit that Comic Con went more smoothly than he'd anticipated. Most of the people attending were used to lines and were grateful for food that hadn't been sitting under a heat lamp indefinitely, and when Steve started agreeing to photos with various Hetalia fans in return for donations to the Food Pantry Fund, he doubled his usual daily intake.
"I tell you what," Sam said, during an afternoon break in the action, "Tomorrow? I'm serving nothing but fries. I'm gonna do up like ten different sauces and just offer a french fry bar all day, that's all anyone's buying anyway."
"Maybe some of the mashed potato fudge?" Steve suggested.
"You just want me to make that because you like it," Sam said.
"I'll give a discount on my Locavore Sliders if people buy fries and a slice of fudge from you," Steve offered.
"Good deal," Sam agreed, sipping on a latte from Chaotic Neutral's coffee-and-pastry "Virtual Truck" (a table with a cardboard cutout of a truck in front of it). "TRUCKBRU should start seating soon, yeah?"
"First seating's not until six," Steve said. "But Tony said there were a couple of VIPs who booked an early meal."
"Hmm, private chef style," Sam mused. "Wonder who they are -- Steve?" he asked, as Steve craned his neck to see if the man coming towards the trucks was who he thought it was.
"Hooo shit," Sam said, following his gaze. "Is that...?"
"Yeah, I think so -- oh my god, it's his entire family too," Steve said.
"Be cool," Sam told him.
"That must be Tony's early seating. Do we act casual? Where do we look?" Steve asked.
"Don't ask me, man, I'm gonna go hide in the truck. There's gonna be papparazzi, you should get your face somewhere else if you don't want another Hot Hipster Chef headline," Sam said, hurrying away towards Potato Rescue. Steve ducked inside War On Hunger, spotting a couple of sneaky-looking guys with cameras -- Sam hadn't been wrong.
He was so focused on avoiding the cameras and not looking at Tony's early seating that he didn't notice anyone was at the window until there was a smart rap on the service table.
"Hey, hello? Anyone here?" a voice called. Steve, horror filling him, leaned through the hatch.
"Hi," he said awkwardly. "Can I help you?"
The man looked up at him, a hint of a smile on his face. "I hope so. We're booked for a meal at Tony Stark's place."
"TRUCKBRU," Steve managed. "Across the lot."
"Yeah, my wife's getting the kids settled, but. I hear it's great food but I'm not sure my two year old is ready for molecular gastronomy. And I heard you have really good little mini hot dog things you're serving? Could I get maybe five or ten for my little ones? Do you have tater tots? I've seen tater tots, they looked more elegant than food court tater tots."
"That's Potato Rescue," Steve said, leaning a little further out. "HEY SAM!"
"OH MY GOD," Sam yelled back.
"YEAH FINE," Sam's voice drifted out. Steve saw the pop of a camera flash.
"Sorry," the man grimaced.
"It's no problem, they won't get much from that angle," Steve stammered. "Mini dogs, right."
He opened the fridge and took out a packet of the pre-made mini dogs, wrapped in pretzel dough, and poured it out into the fryer. "Just be a minute."
"Tots up!" Sam called. Steve leaned out the window again and caught the cup of tater tots as it whizzed past.
"Wow, you put on a show," his customer said, looking impressed.
"Gotta move fast in this business," Steve replied.
"Yeah, mine too. What do I owe you?"
"On the house," Steve said.
"Nah, come on -- "
"It's fine, really. Toss some cash in the food pantry fund if you want."
"Oh, hey, nice," the man said, stuffing what looked suspiciously like a hundred dollars into the jar. "Haven't I heard about you? The hipster food truck documentary?"
"Yep," Steve agreed, draining the dogs and gently patting off some grease before tucking them into a tray with the tots on top. "Here you go. Ketchup and mustard's in there, and there's a mild avocado sauce if they're feeling adventurous."
"Great, I appreciate it. Hope you do some good business today," he said, with a genuine, warm smile.
"Thanks, it's been pretty good so far," Steve said. "Enjoy your meal, Mr. Downey."
As the other man left, Steve's phone buzzed. He looked down from watching Bucky hold the door to TRUCKBRU, and found he had a text from Tony.
His goatee isn't as amazing as mine.
Steve rolled his eyes and texted back. Did you know your VIP was Robert Downey Jr?
I suspected. His wife booked the reservation. She has amazing hair.
You maybe could have warned me.
I didn't know he was going to make a snack stop. BTW his kids are devouring the dogs and tots.
It was followed by a thumbs-up emoji and then a smiley in a chef's toque. Steve had barely cleared the screen and was about to check over his inventory when Kamala texted.
I leave you unsupervised for five minutes!!! OMG!!
Steve frowned as a link appeared. He tapped it and found himself staring down at a photo of himself, handing Robert Downey Junior a tray of food. The War On Hunger logo was clearly visible on the awning over their heads.
It was a tumblr post. It already had two hundred reblogs. And was captioned with the location of the food truck court.
Steve looked up. In the distance he fancied he could see a dust cloud rising as hungry, hooked-in fans began hurrying towards the trucks.
"Brace for afternoon rush," he called to the others. Logan gave a wave to acknowledge he'd heard; Bucky, standing outside TRUCKBRU, stepped directly in front of the door and crossed his arms.
Sam's dismayed yell of "More motherfucking fries!" was pretty restrained, Steve felt.