First time Avenger's fic. This is Stoni hardcore so scat if you don't ship it. (Kidding, cuz even if you don't you should read this.) I love getting feedback so R&R for me please. Can't wait to hear whatcha think. Also check out my other fics please please please.
Pepper had been talking now for a long time, a really long time. Nat had been patient, waiting her turn to say something or maybe point out a dress but Toni was not patient. Toni was generally an impatient person and had a hard time listening to long conversations when she had better things she could be doing. Like thinking about last night. Last night. Last. Night.
"Alright Jarvis, I want honesty- brutal honesty- tell me what you think of the redesign. How does it look?" Toni asked her computer-generated companion.
"In my brutal honest opinion I'd say it'd look better in red, white and blue but if you want silver and curves then that's fine too." A distinctly male and American voice replied. Toni spun around to discover Steve Rogers sitting on a toolbox in the shop. Toni clicked her tongue.
"I'm pretty sure you just described War Machine, which I am not." Toni shot back, examining the super soldier's expression; half amusement, half confusion.
"Don't you mean Iron Patriot?" Steve replied. Toni laughed, a quiet chuckle to herself that lit up her face.
"I prefer War Machine. It has a more patriotic ring to it, don't you think?" She asked coolly, returning to the modified Ironman suit. Steve bit his lip, resisting the urge to argue. He knew how Toni was, especially with the whole patriotism thing. She would set the bait, hook Steve and then reel him in- cooking him for dinner later. Steve was learning now. Learning that it was easier if he just ignored the sly comments and attempts to get a rise out of him. Toni was good though and sometimes made it really hard.
Instead Steve focused on the good in Toni. The way her laugh could ignite the whole room or her smile was like the sun; always glowing when it shone. And even while she was working, slightly sweaty from the shop's heat and the heavy labor, her hair always managed to look amazing. Like right now for example. Her long curly mass of dark brown hair was pinned up into a messy bun, rolled onto the back of her head and bobby-pinned into place. Steve could appreciate that, the way she looked good under any circumstances. Like how even after everything that happened in New York last year- even with her going through a space portal- she still ended up looking amazing afterwards.
Steve stopped before his stomach would explode, the constant dwelling on her looks was going to drive him insane. Also, it just occurred to him, why was he remembering New York? An incident that had really pulled their relationship taught. And a time when Steve did not appreciate Toni's good looks or thinly dispersed moments of kindness.
"Why change the suit?" He asked, shocking himself out of more thoughts of Toni. "Red and gold always looked really good on you." He said, flushing as he realized how that sounded out loud. Toni glanced over her shoulder at Steve, a moment where she'd dropped her façade of taunts and jokes, and looked like Toni- the Toni that Steve appreciated so very much. She returned her gaze to the suit and patted its now curvy side.
"It'll still be red and gold. It just needs a paint job. And as for the curve I figured ever since I kind of outted myself on public television that Ironman is technically Ironwoman it's a safe bet that I can change the suit. It actually drops twenty pounds from the suit. Weight is valuable on machinery like this and cutting that out really helps." She said. Steve nodded, hoping that he looked like he was following.
"If I may Miss." A pleasantly British voice said. Jarvis's melodic, feminine vocals split the two's shared split-second gaze. Toni turned back to the suit and waved the virtual advisor off.
"Get on with it Jarvis." Toni demanded. Jarvis cleared her throat, which Steve found odd for a virtual being.
"Well Miss, the newly added curves for breasts do cause a problem for structural capacity. One good blow to the chest and it would break your sternum. Not that you have a sternum anymore, Miss, but it could still kill you or cause serious injuries." Steve thought, after hearing that short speech, that the once pleasant voice now held an aura of horror. Toni pursed her lips and crossed her arms.
"You're probably right J." Toni conceded.
"Miss, I am a computer-generated consciousness. I am right ninety-six percent of the time. The other four percent accounts for human emotions which are unpredictable and rash." She said sweetly, but it was sickly sweet, uninviting now with the image of Toni's chest being caved in. Steve realized he was blushing a few seconds later, and he was glad Toni didn't turn around to see his pink stained cheeks. Instead Toni continued working, removing the chest plate and setting to work on a modified one. She started spewing science facts, dropping words that Steve didn't understand, to explain away her mistake. Within ten minutes Toni had forced scotch into both their hands and intermittently throughout the construction Toni would have Steve hand her her glass.
And so the night went on, Steve listening till he couldn't listen anymore. Toni talking until she couldn't talk anymore and then finally the breastplate was done. And when Steve checked his watch he discovered that the two had stayed up late. Later than Steve was actually used to; four a.m. Plus, seeing as it was summer, the sun would be up in a couple of hours which really left Steve no time to sleep and plenty of time to dwell on Toni's talking. Toni's voice. Toni's laugh. He really had to stop.
And that left him with one person to turn to.
Natasha woke up to the quiet sound of knocking on her door. In a groggy attempt at a waking up she checked her clock. She didn't really process the actual time but it did register that it was ungodly early.
"Nat." Called a voice. "Nat are you awake?" And then her door cracked open and Steve's head popped in. Nat pushed a hand through her messy red hair, catching on the knots caused by sleep. She really wished she could say no but Steve sounded distressed and knowing him if she didn't help him now then they'd all being hearing about it for a good long time to come.
"Mmm hmm." She mumbled putting on her best 'I'm-not-actually-pissed-at-you' face. Steve looked apologetic as he entered and sat down on the floor by her head.
"Sorry." He disclosed quickly, grabbing hold of his toes as he sat with crossed legs. "Look I have a problem." He told her. Nat looked at his face, examining it carefully. Girl problems. Definitely girl problems. But which girl? Nat's brain kicked in to overdrive, thinking loudly over Steve's unnecessary introductory explanation. It obviously wasn't herself, Steve trusted her too much as a friend. Not Pepper, she was far too modern and sweet-with-an-edge. Naturally Peggy Carter was too old at ninety-something. Out of their group that narrowed it down to Toni and Jarvis and unless Steve was pulling a 'Her' on Nat then that left Toni. Nat chewed her lip.
"Why Toni?" She interrupted. Steve looked at her.
"You know me better than to ask that. Why Toni? Not because she's the only available one right? Because if that's the reason then I am getting you out of the tower and we are going date-hunting." She stated firmly. Steve shook his head.
"No. Not that... I guess I've just grown... enamored with her." He replied, wiggling his socked toes which were being gripped by white-knuckled hands. "And I tried not to like her. I kept telling myself 'think of the team, think of the team' but it didn't work." Natasha sighed. The Steve she was looking at now was not the Steve from even a few months ago. This Steve was weary, not broken but weary, and solemn. Sunken eyes and dark bags betrayed the fact that this man in front of her was probably not in his best state of mind. She grumbled something and opened her mouth to speak, mentally preparing herself for the advice she was about to give.
"Well this is Toni, so obviously no declarations of love. You could probably just ask her to dinner, but like I said; this is Toni, so make sure it's expensive. And if you're going to get her flowers don't get her flowers you've thought about too much or too little. No cards with them, no candy, just flowers." Nat told the famous Captain America. "You better get some sleep, try and eradicate those bags." She said, pointing with her pinky to underneath her eye. Steve nodded, mouthed a quiet thank you and left the room with a 'Sorry again.'
Steve was the first up, as per usual with the Avengers. He was seated at the bar in the middle of the adjacent dining room, separated from the kitchen by two potted plants. It was surprisingly Clint that appeared on the living floor next. He looked barely awake, driven by the need for food. His hair looked like a shorter version of Marie Antoinette's styles. Steve noted the bags present under his eyes also. It appeared their silent guardian was sleeping fitfully.
Clint entered the kitchen, drawing Steve's gaze off the book on the table in front of him and up to the hero searching for food. Clint slammed the cabinet door shut.
"Alright, where are the goddamned poptarts?!" He growled. Suddenly Thor was there, startling Steve with his tendencies toward sneaking.
"I have taken the tarts that pop friend Clint. Sif and I have discovered their glory and have put them on lockdown. We will contact you when we are in need of more." Thor said, padding over to the fridge which he pulled open and proceeded to bury his head in. Clint grumbled what sounded like some carefully chosen curse words at Thor and then went back to his search for breakfast.
"So this is an odd question but I need a nice place to eat here in New York. Like really nice." Steve piped up with.
Without removing his head from the fridge, Thor said, "The First Teriyaki just down the street is very a high quality establishment. They serve the roasted and glazed flesh of cattle and poultry." Clint just glanced at him, while searching for a clean bowl to pour his cereal in.
"You are asking completely the wrong people Steve. My idea of a nice restaurant is a sit-down McDonalds." Clint replied.
"Try Masa, it's a very nice Japanese place downtown. It's Toni's favorite place to eat." Someone said. Steve spun around to find Pepper standing before them in a white powersuit. Steve opened his mouth to ask how she knew when she continued. "It was an educated guess Steve, and I'm glad that I'm right or that would have been a very awkward moment. It's expensive but if you want to make a good impression it's her favorite place. You know, I'm glad it's you taking an interest in her." Pepper stated kindly. Behind him he definitely felt the looks of both Clint and Thor.
"Speaking of, where is our genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist?" Clint butted in, adding the last bit in a teasingly smooth voice. Pepper looked over at Hawkeye.
"Yes, actually, where is Toni? I came early to talk business with her." Pepper said. Steve was surprised he knew the answer. He'd gone down to the training room on the occasional morning that he needed to hit something really hard and found Toni was always there. It appeared to be her morning routine.
"I'll go get her." Steve said, standing and going to the elevator.
"Isn't it cute?" Pepper mumbled as the elevator doors closed. Clint looked up, spoon in mouth and shrugged. Thor continued to scrounge the fridge, ignoring Virginia altogether.
Toni had grown to learn that her favorite routine was waking up every morning and punching the shit out of a suspended sand bag. Not only did it allow Toni to rid herself of stress or anger but it was just a fun thing to do, she'd learned. She stopped with one hand slamming into the bag when she heard the sliding doors open. Steve walked in, she could tell by the way he cleared his throat and shifted his weight before talking that in deed it was the super soldier behind her. She wondered why she'd know that.
"Pepper's looking for you." Steve said. Toni growled something under her breath and turned around, unwinding the wraps around her hands.
"You look like you got something else to say there Capsicle." She grumbled, leaning back on the weight rack. Steve bit his lip slightly, trying to ignore the nickname that was an odd mix of endearing and so annoying.
"Yeah, actually. Pepper was just telling us of a place downtown called Masa and I was thinking of going tonight. I thought it'd be easier if I went with you, because she said it's your favorite and, uh, you could be my guide." Steve said, holding his left elbow and he wrapped his left hand tightly around the back of his neck. Toni blinked, caught off guard.
"Um. Yeah, sure." She mumbled, putting her stuff in her gym bag.
"Yeah alright, should I just meet you in the lobby at, uh seven?" Steve asked, lowering his hand from his neck.
"Well if all goes according to plan today then I should be done at six." She replied, picking up her bag and making for the door. Steve fell in next to her.
"That also sounds good." He said.
Toni was intercepted by Nat and Pepper in her shop. At first Toni was concerned that it was about business things, which she actively tried to avoid, but was surprised by Pepper's greeting.
"You need a new dress." The CEO stated. Toni blinked.
"You need a new dress Toni. I've seen what your closet is full of and you cannot wear a cocktail dress or a t-shirt to Masa with Steve." She said, pulling at the t-shirt-over-long-sleeve ensemble that Toni was currently sporting.
"Steve came to me last night with questions and Pepper gave him the idea for the restaurant. We both know Steve asked you to dinner, now the important part is you. This is Steve we're talking about so something minimalist but fancy. Nothing crazy modern because... Steve." Nat butted in with. Pepper nodded in approval but Toni stared at them with blank eyes. Nat sighed and continued. "Toni, we're talking about Steve. He's going to show up in a tux with a dozen roses."
"Probably two dozen." Pepper correct, leaning closer to Nat who simply ignored the comment.
"So what's going to happen now is we're going to get you in one of those five convertibles and we're going to drive to all the stores you know and we're going to find five perfect dresses, one for each point of the star on Steve's chest." Nat growled, there was a certain ferocity in her voice that kept Toni from objecting. Pepper just smiled as she turned Toni around and went to get her something presentable to wear outside. Nat watched them go.
She'd never really had anyone to treat like this, no one to force on a shopping spree. She'd always been Black Widow and now here was Toni, who Nat found herself oddly intrigued at seeing a more feminine side of. She realized, almost bitterly, she'd never had a 'Get in losers, we're going shopping' moment.
She could feel her inner fairy-godmother tapping at its glass cage.
So when Toni returned garbed in skinny jeans, a skin tight Pink Floyd t-shirt and an army green jacket Nat grinned. She grinned at the thought of going shopping with Toni and Pepper. Toni, on the other hand, spent the ride in silence, blowing strands of her hair up and down as entertainment. Nat wondered why she wasn't enjoying this. It was, after all, some good relaxing time after everything that had happened recently.
They made it, granted with some difficulty concerning traffic and a Toni Stark sighting, to the 5th avenue Louis Vuitton. It took little to no time at all for Nat and Pepper to locate seven dresses that they thought looked good on Toni.
"This one's really weird Pepper." Toni called from behind the curtain. Pepper ignored her, checking her phone.
"That's what you said about the last two Toni. You've only tried on three now. Work with us here." Pepper called back. Toni huffed angrily and exited the curtain-concealed circle. The dress was long and lavender with lavender lace trailing down from the shoulder to the knee. Toni squirmed around in it but Pepper grinned, poking Nat's shoulder.
"Yeah, yeah. Consider that one the first of the five." Nat instructed, returning to Lolita. Toni hobbled back to the stall and tried on the next one. Pepper and Nat ignored the grunts as Toni attempted to put on a dress by herself. Then the next one was on and she was standing before them again. It was a simplistic long slip dress, red with gold slits. Pepper practically squealed, and then looked like she was about to tackle Nat in a fit of excitement.
"It's like it was designed for her!" Pepper cried, pulling the book from Nat's hands. "It's absolutely perfect!" Nat nodded in approval.
"Yeah, I like that one the best too. But still, you've got three more to go. Book Pepper." She said, which was the most excitement they'd seen from her all day. Toni grumbled something under her breath.
"Why can't we just toss those other three in the pile and call it good. I'll probably never wear these anyways." Toni growled. Pepper tsk-tsked her.
"You will if we say so." Toni groaned and spun on her heel back towards the curtains. The next three were the final three, exterminating the need for another store as Nat and Pepper both agreed that they looked great on Toni, which made Toni breathe a sigh of relief.
The ride back was rambunctious, with the convertible's stereo turned up loud to Titanium as the three sang along. It seemed that even with Toni being Toni the two were able to build up even a little excitement for that evening.
Steve found himself fidgeting slightly as he sat across from Toni. He didn't mean to be, he'd meant to be impressive and Captain America-y. Instead he was shifting his weight from side to side in his chair, wishing that the waiter would show already and relieve some of the tension. And every time the two meet eyes Steve would see her hair. The way it cascaded down over her shoulders in thick dark brown locks. And the little crystal earrings suspended from her ear lobes. She'd somehow found a dress that was so Ironman it was unbelievable and then she added the earrings and the red, gold and silver made her look so gorgeous. He felt so awkward sitting there. Something had to be done about it.
"I'll be right back." He muttered and then bolted for the bathroom. Relief washed over him. Man with a Plan does it again. Steve thought. He was glad to find the bathrooms empty, perfect for a pep-talk.
Toni smiled as the waiter walked over.
"Can I get you anything to drink miss?" He asked.
"The strongest sake you've got." She groaned. He nodded and disappeared. Alright Toni, it's all you. You've got to be Toni and live to fight another day. Captain America can't break you so easily. Come on Toni, this is easy. This is just one evening with Steve. Charisma got you here, charisma can get you out. She told herself.
What are you doing Steve? It's a dinner date not a dinner-don't-talk-to-her! Come on Steve, you can do better. You are the Captain America... oof, I think that makes it worse in this scenario. Just talk to her. One word. That's all you need. Like last night in the shop, it should be easy like that. Get her started on science and then you don't even have to do any talking!
Get him started on America and you don't have to do any of the talking! Yikes, I wonder if that's why he finds me impolite. Just don't say anything like that and you're fine Toni. And don't bring up anything stupid like World War Two or ice. Ice is definitely not a good subject. Suddenly Steve was there, reclaiming his chair. Toni panicked, as her pep-talk was still in flight.
"I'm thirsty, are you thirsty? I am and ice water would be nice." She stammered. Steve gave her a confused smile. Goddamn. "I ordered Sake." She mumbled, blushing slightly as she straightened the napkin in her lap. "I know you don't really drink but I thought you could have at least a glass with me." Steve looked at her.
"Uh yeah, sure. It's not that I don't drink though, it's more that it can't get me drunk so I don't self-pity drink anymore." He replied. She nodded.
"If I was unable to get drunk then I would be heartbroken." She told him. He shrugged.
"I've grown used to it."
"Mark my words Super Soldier, I will figure out a way to get you drunk." She promised. Steve grinned.
"Okay." And suddenly the sake was in front of them and they were laughing and smiling and Toni was cracking jokes and laughing at Steve trying to crack jokes. And Steve couldn't help but think that it hadn't, in fact, been a mistake asking Toni to dinner. That Nat was right, in the end, because he was having a good time and Toni was too. That was what really made him happy that night, that one idea; Toni was happy too.