After the success of the first phase of Operation Tribute, Thor was eager to get started on phase two. Steve was less enthusiastic, unwilling to dredge up the memories of his past and afraid to put them behind him. Thor respected his reluctance at first but quickly grew tired of it which was why he was sitting in Steve's room, waiting for him to return from the gym.
Steve trudged up to his room, having managed to distract himself for a solid five minutes before Pepper had interrupted his workout, insisting that he came upstairs and ate something, because, according to JARVIS, Steve hadn't eaten breakfast or lunch.
Steve ate a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs under the watchful eye of Pepper and the computer before returning to his room. He wished JARVIS had sent anyone but Pepper. He would've told them to leave him alone and continue with his workout, but he couldn't be rude to a woman. JARVIS probably knew that, sneaky intrusive computer.
"JARVIS is no longer our friend," Steve said, not even pausing when he spotted Thor on his bed. The two of the had been spending more and more time together recently, and he was actually more surprised that Thor hadn't come down to the gym with him than the sight of Thor in his room.
"You're going to hurt his feelings," Thor said.
"Computers don't have feelings," Steve said, taking his shirt off and tossing it into his hamper. "I'm going to shower."
It was a hint for Thor to leave, but the god didn't budge.
"I don't recommend that course of action," JARVIS said, his voice cheerful as it filled Steve's room. "Given recent comments, you'll find that any shower you try to use will only have cold water."
Was he being scolded by a computer? Steve sighed, his hands pausing on the button of his pants. He'd taken cold showers before, and it wasn't like he was going to be taking a long shower. Maybe the cold would even distract him.
"JARVIS, please don't allow any shower Steve touches to turn on," Thor said, and Steve stared at him, shocked.
"Since when do you know how to work JARVIS?" Steve asked, wondering if perhaps it had been Thor behind Pepper appearing at his workout. "And since when did you decide to sabotage my workouts?"
"Six hours is not a workout," Thor said, unconcerned that Steve was angry. "You act like I don't know why you go down there for such an extended period of time. Besides, we made a promise, and you have failed to hold up your end.
Steve wished there was somewhere he could run to, because he didn't want to have this conversation, but there was nowhere for him to go. Pepper wouldn't let him back near the gym, JARVIS wouldn't let him take a shower, and he doubted that Thor would leave his room. Steve didn't like feeling trapped, and he didn't like being pressured into things he wasn't ready for.
It had seemed like a good idea at the time when he suggested that they do things that reminded them of the people that they lost in order to honor them and to reappropriate the activity. Now that it was his turn, he was starting to rethink that decision. Dancing had been something that he and Bucky did, something that he had wanted to do with Peggy. It had been his parting promise to her. He wasn't ready to put that behind him. Thor would understand, right?
Steve looked over at Thor who was watching Steve with his arm crossed, preparing for a fight like he knew what was going on inside Steve's head. He was looking decidedly stubborn, and that didn't bode well for Steve's change of heart.
"JARVIS, it's time," Thor said.
The familiar sound of jazz music came through the room, and some of the tension in Steve's body immediately eased. He had missed music like this, the playful slide of the notes, the way his body wanted to start moving just at the sound of saxophones.
Steve was distracted as Thor began to dance, his legs kicking awkwardly, his arms flailing about, and Steve couldn't help his laugh as the Norse god of thunder tried to swing dance. The movements were too quick and Thor got his foot caught in the bed skirt and fell to the floor with a large crash.
He looked miffed as he got to his feet, because he wasn't used to failure, but then he saw the large smile on Steve's face, and he matched it with one of his own.
"I have been trying to learn on my own, but I am not succeeding."
"It's a fast dance," Steve said. "I never really got it when I was younger. JARVIS, pull up an instructional video, please."
"It would be my pleasure."
A video appeared before them, and they watched it through twice before slowing it down and trying it themselves. Thor screwed up his face in concentration and stuck his butt out, trying to mimic the dancer on screen, but he ended up throwing off his balance and landing on his face.
Steve tried to cover up his laugh with his hand, and when he wasn't successful, he offered the pouting Thor a hand up.
"This is a difficult task you have selected for us," Thor said.
"Imagine what it was like for me growing up," Steve said. "This was the only way to pick up dames, and I was abysmal."
"This was a courting ritual?" Thor asked, confused.
Steve nodded, absentmindedly flipping through the videos, trying to find one that might be a little bit easier.
"You are courting me then?" Thor asked, and Steve spun to face him, his face turning bright red.
No, that wasn't what was happening. That was certainly not what was happening. They were friends, trying to help each other cope with recent traumatic events. Steve tried to say all of that, but nothing came out of his mouth.
"In that case, we should be looking at these," Thor said, pulling up a video of a couple doing the lindy hop.
Steve forgot about his embarrassment as they watched the video, awed at how fast they were moving and at how the man threw his partner around. Around his waist, over his back, through his legs, and he never once dropped her.
"Yeah," Steve said when the video finished. "We definitely should not be jumping forward to that stage."
"It is easy," Thor said. "I lift heavy things all the time."
Before Steve realized what was happening, Thor had tossed him into the air. He caught Steve, one hand on his shoulder, one hand on his stomach, and it was like a punch to the gut. Steve fell limp in Thor's arms, trying not to throw up.
"A little gentler next time?" Steve asked once he could speak again.
"Of course," Thor said, picking Steve up again. This time he tried to throw Steve around his back, and he mostly succeeded, except when he forgot to catch Steve and actually ended up dropping him on his head.
"Not really an improvement," Steve said as Thor helped him back to his feet.
"Perhaps we are not advanced enough for this," Thor agreed.
"Maybe we just weren't meant to dance," Steve said. Maybe he just hadn't found the right partner.
"Nonsense," Thor said. "I will play one of your songs, and we will dance regardless of skill. Perhaps I will even teach you how Asgardians dance. JARVIS? A song if you will."
A moment later saxophones came pouring through the room, and Steve became very still as he realized what song JARVIS had chosen. A few bars in, Ella Fitzgerald began to sing.
I want to be happy
But I won't be happy
Till I make you happy, too
Life's really worth living
When we are mirth-giving
Why can't I give some to you?
Steve looked over at Thor, who seemed to be oblivious to the lyrics, doing something that looked like a mix between a really poor attempt at the lindy hop and something more primal. He was slightly bent over, his fists beating his legs, then his chest, before he shook them at the sky. All this while he was trying to do lindy hop kicks.
It looked absolutely ridiculous, and Steve began to laugh until the sound shook his body, and he fell to his knees. He was still laughing as Thor looked over at him, torn between pouting again and laughing himself. Eventually, the latter won, and Thor's booming laugh echoed through the house.
Well, maybe they weren't made for dancing. At least they knew they were good at causing mischief.