Steve Rogers stood awkwardly in the elevator leading up to the top floor of Avengers Tower, dressed in a blue suit with a white shirt and red tie. He tugged awkwardly at the tie, having not worn one since that disastrous correspondence dinner that turned out to be a trap by The Masters of Evil. He wasn't sure why Tony had asked for him to come to the top floor of Avengers Tower, or why he needed to "look his best," and he had his trusty shield strapped across his back just in case. In truth, Steve felt uncomfortable without it. He'd been through a lot with this shield. As he contemplated all this, the elevator finally came to a stop and chimed as the doors slid open. Tony was standing in the center of the break room, in his usual jeans and t-shirt, and spun around when he heard the door chime. Immediately, he threw his head back in exasperation.
"God, really, Steve? Red, white, and blue? I mean, I know you can be a cliché sometimes, but-" And then Tony cut himself off, seeing the leather straps on Steve's shoulders. "Oh, for Christ's sake, are you wearing the shield? Really?" Steve gave a half smile and shrugged. On some level, he always enjoyed riling Stark up.
"Well, if you told me why you wanted me to show up, I wouldn't have felt like bringing it-" Tony cut him off, pulling a comb out of his pocket that snapped open like a switchblade and started fussing with Steve's hair, combing it into a part on the left.
"No, nuh uh, no talking right now." Steve just rolled his eyes and shook his head, sighing ruefully. Clearly, he wasn't going to get a word in edgewise in this conversation. Tony put the comb away and brushed Steve's shoulders. "All right, fine. You wanna know why I called you? We set you up with a date." Steve couldn't stop himself from laughing this time.
"We? What we? What, did the whole team decide they needed to play matchmaker for me?" It was just ridiculous enough for Steve to believe Stark had put it all together, but surprisingly, Stark shook his head.
"No, not the whole team. Bruce didn't participate. I'm beginning to think all that yoga makes him anti-fun." Steve rolled his eyes again, as Tony put a hand on his back. "All right, look. Just…act natural. No, wait, that's a terrible idea. Just…try to be cool. You'll know here when you see her. I'll see you in about…I dunno, an hour?" Steve was about to ask just what that meant, when suddenly a blue portal appeared in front of them, and Tony gave Steve a good shove in the back, sending him stumbling through the portal.
A hundred thoughts raced through Steve's mind. Was this a trap? Had Tony been replaced by a Skrull, or an Android built by Doom? Was he sent to some alternate dimension helltrap? But as Steve calmed down and got a good look at his surroundings, it certainly seemed like, if this were a prison dimension, it was a pretty terrible one. There was a bright blue sky, a crystal clear sea in clear view, and a light Autumn breeze. It looked like Steve had been deposited into an old village in Norway, with the exception of a castle in the distance. Steve found himself hoping that his date spoke English, as his Norwegian was…rusty to the point of nonexistence. The only thing about this place that was strange was that no one seemed bothered by him appearing out of nowhere. If anything, people just seemed to smile pleasantly and say "Welcome to Arendelle." Steve smiled and waved back, and started making his way down the street, taking in the scenery and keeping an eye out for this mystery date of his.
Elsa walked down the street, unable to stop herself from fidgeting with her hair and tugging at the sleeve of her dress as she did. It wasn't that the dress was uncomfortable, it couldn't be. Another one of her icy creations, it was perfectly comfortable, shimmering and sparkling white and blue like mountain snow against the winter sky. Anna had picked out a few different dresses for her, but they all had lacked...material. What was uncomfortable was this whole situation. Elsa chided herself for letting Anna continue to do this to her as she waved and smiled politely at her subjects. She should have told Anna months ago that this was a terrible idea and that she wasn't looking for a boyfriend. Well, she had, but Anna was persistent, and Elsa couldn't bring herself to put her foot down on the matter. Mostly because Anna would have made the most pitiful, big-eyed face about Elsa spoiling her fun all over again. And besides, no matter how much she might deny it to herself, somewhere in the back of her mind, she was starting to feel certain…romantic inclinations. Maybe this date would succeed where the last five or six had failed.
Elsa was so distracted by her musings that she didn't even notice when she walked into a wall. Or, at least, Elsa's first assumption was that what she'd walked into was a wall. It was certainly hard enough to be a wall. But walls, Elsa realized, usually don't wear clothes, or grab you to keep you from falling over.
Steve hadn't been paying attention to where he was going, just taking in the sights of this strange little town he'd been literally shoved into. When the young woman bumped into him, the only reason he caught her was instinct. When Steve looked down to stammer out an apology, he was stunned into silence. She was gorgeous. From her silvery blonde hair to her bright blue eyes to her red lips to the arch of her eyebrows, Steve was sure he'd never seen a more beautiful woman in his life. Slowly, his manners returned to him, and he let go of the woman, once he was certain she was able to stand.
"I-I'm sorry about that." Steve stammered. "I wasn't…wasn't looking where I was going." And his voice was the most wonderful sound Elsa had ever heard. Whoever this stranger was, he was the most handsome stranger Elsa had ever met. Butterflies flittered around in Elsa's stomach as she looked at him, and a tingling ran all along her arms like electricity. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she was hoping she didn't look like a slack-jawed idiot, but in the moment, she didn't care. And when the man said "Uh, I'm…looking for someone that my friends set me up with. But they didn't exactly say who", Elsa's heart soared, and she couldn't stop herself from blurting the next words out.
"That's me!" She said, practically shouting, a dazzling smile on her face so wide that it nearly split her head open. Then, remembering herself, she straightened and spoke in a more calm, measured tone. "I mean, my sister did the same thing to me." Remembering her manners, she curtsied, never breaking eye contact, her smile more dignified and restrained. "I am Queen Elsa of Arendelle." Even though she was keeping herself composed on the outside, she was practically squealing with excitement on the inside as Steve smiled.
A Queen. That took Steve a few seconds to process. Tony had tried setting him up with a handful of celebrities, Olympic athletes, and supermodels, and Thor had even attempted to put him on a date with the Lady Sif, but a Queen was way outside his circle of understanding. He was just a dumb kid from Brooklyn. As he pondered this, a voice screamed in his head "Tell her your name, stupid!", and that sounded like a very good idea.
"Uh, Steve. Steve Rogers." He said, then bowed awkwardly. "Captain Steve Rogers." As long as they were exchanging titles and all. Though calling himself a Captain made Steve painfully aware of his shield, and he hoped Elsa wouldn't find it stupid. Already, he was cursing himself just for bringing the stupid thing. "I'm…not from around here." He said dumbly, and Elsa gave a small smile, looking him up and down.
"I gathered from the way you were dressed." But even as she said it, that little voice of self-doubt was racing in her mind. "Oh God, was that mean? Did it sound mean? Am I saying his clothes are weird and stupid?" Quickly, she attempted to cover it. "I mean, you dress very nicely, Steve, but you're just dressed differently from the other men." She held out her arm for Steve to take and smiled. "Shall I show you around my kingdom?" Steve smiled in return and hooked his arm around Elsa's, and her whole body tingled.
"Lead the way." Steve said, smiling wider than he had in a long time. Steve and Elsa walked all over town, and Elsa acted as a bit of a tour guide, telling Steve about the history of both the area and Arendelle as a whole. She mentioned many times how she hoped she wasn't boring Steve, but Steve himself was a bit of a history buff, especially since he was technically a part of history himself. Naturally, he left that last part out, and simply told her he was more than happy to learn about her kingdom. After walking around for a long time, Steve and Elsa decided to stop at one of the restaurants in town with outside seats. Being a gentleman, Steve pulled out Elsa's chair for her. Elsa was glad Steve didn't ask to see the castle, as she wasn't quite ready to bring him home just yet. Mostly because Anna would never let her hear the end of falling in love with a man she'd just met.
"I suppose the one of the nice things about you being Queen is that we don't have to pay for lunch." Steve said with a smile, then immediately thought "Does that sound like I'd use her for her money? Or that I'm a cheapskate? Oh God, fix it, fix it!" "Not, uh, not that I wouldn't pay for lunch, I just…don't think my money's good here. I mean, I'd be more than happy to, I just…" Steve decided to cut himself off by drinking a glass of water as Elsa chuckled lightly. He decided to change the subject when he spoke again. "So…I've heard plenty about your Kingdom, or, Queendom, I guess. But what about you? You said you have a sister?" Elsa nodded and smiled, then remembered it would probably be polite to go into detail.
"Well, yes. I have a younger sister named Anna. She's about three years younger than me, so she's 21. She's married to a nice young man named Kristoff, who sells ice in the Summer. He's the Arendelle royal Icemaster and Deliverer. A title he earned after…let's say he and my sister had a bit of an adventure." She smiled, twirling one of her fingers on the tablecloth, color rising in her cheeks as she saw Steve smiling and listening intently, looking at her like she was the only thing in the world. "My sister and I were very close when we were little, but then we…" Elsa's voice caught in her throat, and she could feel the cold chill gathering in her palm as she remembered that awful night. Her chest grew tight and it felt like there were chips of ice in her lungs, her whole body growing cold as her breath grew short. She was worried she was going to have a breakdown, which would probably ruin the chances of a second date, when Steve laid a huge, warm, gentle hand on top of hers. Elsa looked up, and saw Steve's gray-green eyes full of concern.
"Are you all right?" Steve asked, squeezing her hand gently, and it was as if a warm Summer breeze washed over Elsa's whole body, and she sighed, feeling the chill leave her body as she relaxed, almost collapsing back in her chair. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, nodding slowly. She took a sip of water to calm her nerves.
"Y-yes." She said, a faint smile on her lips that slowly grew as she spoke. "It was just…we had a falling out when we were younger. It was my fault. But we patched things up. Like sisters do." Steve smiled and nodded, then looked down at his hand and blushed, drawing away almost reluctantly. "So…you know a little about me. But what about me. You said you were a captain. Do you have a boat, or are you a soldier?" Steve laughed a little at that question. So many ways to answer that one.
"No, I'm definitely not a ship captain. Truth be told, I've never much liked boats." Steve paused, not quite sure how to phrase this. How exactly do you tell a medieval Queen what a superhero is? "And I'm…not a soldier. Well, not anymore, anyway. I was. A long time ago." He reached back and tapped the shield on his back. "That's where I got this. And I guess that I still am a soldier. Just not for any country. Now, I fight for people." Elsa smiled again. God, she'd been turned into a smiling fool today. But she couldn't help it. Steve was just too much. A soldier for the people. Like a hero out of the stories her mother used to read to her and Anna when they were little. For a few minutes, they were awkwardly quiet as their sandwiches were brought out to them, and when the server left, Elsa was the first to speak.
"You said you were a soldier," Elsa began, trying to delicately approach the subject. "Have you…did you go to war?" Steve's face darkened, and he looked down at his plate, and Elsa was worried she'd said something horribly wrong. A hundred thoughts were racing through Elsa's mind about what could have happened, about what she might say to cover up her mistake. At the same time, Steve was thinking at the same frantic pace. What could he tell her? About the Super Soldier Program? About his friend that he thought had died? About how he almost died? About the girl who he loved, who loved him, but moved on after he was presumed dead? About waking up to a world that was completely unlike everything he'd ever known? No. No, definitely not. Too much to bring up on the first date. Maybe too much to ever bring up. Better to just give her the shorter version.
"I…served in a war, yeah." Steve said slowly, looking back up at Elsa, and she felt her dread wash away as he looked at her, not with a smile, it would be strange to smile talking about this. But at least he no longer had that darkness on his face. "It was pretty huge. I didn't enlist to kill people, or because I loved my country. Not to say that I don't love my country, I mean…uh…" He stopped and took a long breath as Elsa giggled at his flusteredness. "I just wanted to do the right thing and help people. I had-I had a really close call near the end of the war, and decided it was time to come home. When I got back…things had changed a lot. I'm still trying to catch up." Elsa could tell from his tone that Steve was hiding something. Three years of talking to Anna on a regular basis had helped her pick up when someone was lying, or at least hiding the truth. But for now, she had the feeling it was better not to bother him about him about it. She smiled, this time putting her hand over Steve's.
"Well, I hope you don't get too busy catching up to stop and chat every once in a while. Maybe more than just chat." She blushed slightly. Did she really just say that? And had she actually tried to sound sultry? God, she must have sounded so stupid! Steve bit his lip, stifling a laugh.
"Just-" he stopped, trying to keep the laugh in, hoping she wouldn't think he was laughing at her. "Just once in a while?" They laughed together, then spent the rest of their time just making small talk, asking about favorite colors and hobbies. But nothing too extreme for the rest of that afternoon. As the sun started to go down, Steve looked down at his watch and saw that his time was just about up. He looked back at Elsa and smiled regretfully. Part of him didn't want to go, but he knew his place was back at home.
"Looks like I've got to be going." Steve said as he stood up, then walked around and pulled out Elsa's chair. She frowned as she stood up, reaching up to place a hand gently on Steve's neck, looking up at him with soft, sad blue eyes.
"But I'll definitely see you again, right?" And looking at that face, Steve wouldn't have been able to say no, even if he wanted to. He smiled, putting a hand over Elsa's, and another hand at her waist.
"Definitely." He said, giving her hand a reassuring squeeze. They stood awkwardly for a moment, wondering what they should do. Neither had much experience with dates. Should they kiss? Would that be too soon? Would the other person be mad if they weren't kissed? Steve started to lean down for a kiss, and Elsa's heart thundered in her chest like a drum.
Before they could do anything, though, the air shimmered, and the portal Steve had been pushed through before burst into existence, glowing and quivering like water. Elsa looked at the portal with only slight surprise. She'd seen plenty of strange things, and at least it explained what Steve meant when he said he wasn't from around Arendelle. She looked up and saw Steve's regretful, torn expression, and leaned up to give him a quick peck on the cheek. It was the first time she'd ever kissed a boy, and she couldn't help but giggle as his face turned bright red. Still on her tip toes, she leaned up and whispered "Maybe next time." Steve swallowed and nodded wordlessly, and walked to the portal. He had one foot in, when he remembered it would be rude to leave without saying anything. He turned and looked back at Elsa, trying to be cool.
"I had a great time, Elsa." He said, a wide smile on his face, enjoying the taste and the sound of her name. Elsa grinned back and gave a little wave with her fingertips.
"So did I, Steve." And on an impulse, Steve blew her a kiss. Her eyes went wide with surprise, and her cheeks turned so red they looked like they were burning. Steve chuckled, and walked through the portal, which snapped shut behind him. The citizens of Arendelle looked mildly interested at the entire spectacle, and Elsa, having forgotten everything about dignity and grace and royal restraint, skipped back to the castle.
Tony was standing in the center of the break room, looking just pleased as punch, arm crossed over his chest and grinning ear to ear. As if he'd been restraining himself ever since Steve had left, he lunged at Steve, wrapping him up in a hug and mussing his hair.
"Way to go, Tiger!" He shouted jubilantly. "I knew hanging around me long enough, you'd learn how to be smooth! Oh man, the look on her face. Captain America: Ladykiller. Do you like it? I like it." Steve laughed, pushing Tony away playfully.
"You have lousy timing, you know that?" Tony laughed, and the two friends made their way to the couch and ordered pizza before Tony sent out the call to the rest of the team, so Steve could tell everyone (everyone that would answer, anyway. Thor was dealing with The Absorbing Man in New Mexico, that could take an hour or two, and it was past curfew for the Maximoff twins at Avengers Academy) all about his day.