"Explain to me again why you got me in this monkey suit?"
"Because", Tony cocked his head, "Clint's off playing James Bond with the Widow, Thor's doing…whatever it is Thor does, and we all know Bruce isn't exactly hot on being around large crowds of people." The inventor shrugged and smirked, "That leaves you, and who would pass up a chance at having a legendary super solider as his wingman?"
With that, the billionaire put the final touches on Steve Rogers' bowtie, before taking a step back to admire his handy work much like an artist eyeing up a painting. The aforementioned soldier, for his part, seemed more like he was searching for the nearest exit. He nearly glared at his friend's descendant-wondering how the heck he fell into this mess.
Just a few hours before, the Captain had been enjoying a quiet and peaceful afternoon at his Brooklyn apartment; filling up his neglected sketchbook with page after page of new artwork. But all that came to a grinding halt when Stark had suddenly phoned him; claiming there to be an "emergency that needed his urgent attention." Rogers didn't even have his bomber jacket halfway on before he was flying out the door and speeding to Avengers Tower as fast as his motorcycle would take him. Racing to the nearest elevator, he practically leaped out when the doors slid open on the penthouse level…
…only to find Tony with a glass of scotch in hand; ordering a group of tailors to fit the Captain for a suit. Needless to say, Steve was beyond confused as to what was going on, and the confusion quickly melted to annoyance when he discovered there wasn't any super villains to face or disaster to stop, as he was lead to believe. Even as the seamstresses took his measurements, he scolded the inventor like a parent giving a child a time out. Stark merely found his reaction hilarious, before explaining in detail.
As it really turned out, the billionaire was scheduled to attend a classic automobile exhibition on the rich end of town, to benefit a string of local charities. And he wanted Steve to come along with him, "to shake the dust off him", as Tony so kindly put it. And now, blonde and brunette were staring at one another; both appearing ready to paint the town red. Admittedly, the soldier couldn't help but be a tad jealous at how the inventor looked good in anything he wore. Rogers, on the other hand, felt positively awkward in his navy blue tuxedo-a garment he had never wore in his life.
Granted, he was more than flattered at his iron friend's generous offer, but, as he asked with a hint of frustration, "Why did you sound so urgent?"
"Because it WAS urgent", Tony sipped his drink, "A party with no one to go with IS an emergency."
The Captain's expression was an odd mix between wanting to thank his comrade, or smack him, "…you knew I wouldn't come if you told the truth."
"That too", the billionaire fully admitted, to which the soldier heaved a sigh. Finishing up his drink, Tony waltzed up to his friend and patted him on the shoulder; speaking sincerely, "Come on. I'm not going to have you sitting at home, feeling sorry for yourself, when you could be out having a great time." He then shrugged, "Besides, it's for charity."
Steve considered the inventor's words; amazed at just how well he could read people. No doubt, it was a skill that helped in getting him to the position he was at today. Rogers was almost touched at his sympathy.
"But you know I'm not really into the…'razzle dazzle'," he raised a brow.
Stark pouted, "…but it's for charity."
The Captain went unfazed at the puppy dog eyes. He tugged at his shirt collar, "And this tuxedo's pretty…uncomfortable."
"It's. For. Charity." the inventor pressed.
The soldier threw his arms open, "And I don't even know who these people are."
"….chaaaarrriiittteee…." Tony lulled out in a sing-song voice; grinning from ear to ear.
Steve folded his arms and stared the brunette right in the eyes-the "don't give me any more B.S." look in full effect. Upon realizing the charity angle wasn't going to be enough, the billionaire finally folded under the Captain's gaze; releasing a puff of air, "Okay…I need back up."
"Back up?" the blonde was puzzled, "For what?"
"It's not just me that's going", the inventor explained-speaking rather frank, "Pepper's along for the ride too. And ever since the whole 'Avengers' thing, anytime I show my face, the press wants the latest scoop."
Normally, Stark would've enjoyed the spotlight, and the team was secretly thankful for his ability to keep the news crews at bay. But this time, Tony stared out of the enormous windows at the New York skyline-watching as afternoon slowly turned to dusk-his face utterly melancholy, "They want to talk to Ironman, not Ironman's girlfriend…which is totally their loss, because she's way smarter than me."
Steve had to smile at that-if only Miss Potts were there to hear him say that. But she was obviously getting ready for the big night as well. But Stark remained uncharacteristically stoic as he continued, "But anytime there's a big event…and let's face it, anytime I show up, it's a big event…she keeps getting lost in the shuffle. She understands it's bound to happen…doesn't make it right, though."
For one fraction of a moment, the brunette appeared downright disgusted with himself, as attested by his frown. But a second later, the mask was up again as he fully faced the Captain, "If the press starts to hound me…and I know they will…I want you to keep Pepper company."
The soldier blinked at the surprising axe being dropped. He had only met the red head a handful of times; all of which were either at formal meetings or just in passing. She seemed nice enough-beautiful for sure. But this would be his first opportunity to really get to know her…and maybe possibly discover more about Howard's snarky son as well.
But like hell if he was an expert with women, and he knew Tony knew this. He tried his best to not sound inconsiderate as he asked, "But why me?"
And then Stark threw him for another loop when he winked at him, "Because you're a picket fence and apple pie kind of guy-high morals, know what I mean?" Evidently, the soldier didn't, judging by his blank expression, so he explained more bluntly, "I trust you to not get into any funny business with my girl."
Ah, so THAT was it. He needed someone who could keep an eye on his girlfriend, without eyeing her up. Now Rogers understood why HE had been chosen for the job…and it left him wondering if he should be insulted or flattered. Either way, the inventor was clearly taking this seriously, and who was he to not help out a teammate in their time of need?
So, steeling himself for what was undoubtedly going to become an eventful, but awkward evening, Steve released a sigh, but forced a smile, "Okay…you win."
Tony practically pumped his fist in victory, "I knew you'd come around." He put an arm around the Captain's broad shoulders as he called out, "JARVIS, tell Pepper we're ready, and have Happy bring the Rolls Royce around front." He then led the blonde towards the elevator, "Trust me. This is going to be one night you'll never forget."
There was no doubt in the soldier's mind about that, as evidenced by his most pitiful "why me?" expression, as he was ushered out to a fate unknown.
To say the mansion was fancy would be an understatement.
Steve could only stare in amazement as Happy effortlessly pulled up to a house that looked more like a castle, with a yard that extended into a luxurious garden. A brick driveway circled around a rather large fountain, and two enormous spotlights lit up the night sky like a red carpet premiere of a four star movie. A line up of equally-expensive cars were slowly making the rounds; dropping off passengers who were most likely the ones donating their riches.
"What did I tell you?" Tony was sitting next to him; making some final preparations in a side mirror, "Pretty swanky, huh?"
"Y-yeah…" the solider merely mumbled; his gaze flicking over to Miss Potts, who was conversing with Happy in the front seat. She was already in the car when the inventor shoved him in, so he hadn't gotten a chance to take a gander at her. But she was obviously dressed to kill as well, which made him all the more nervous. The Captain had grown up poor, for lack of a more gentle word, and Howard had been his only real exposure to high society life. But even then, it wasn't much, since the elder Stark was almost always tinkering with something in his work shop. So he was forced to just imagine how the other half lived.
He never thought it'd look quite like THIS…and suddenly, he wished Thor was with him. The Asguardian was a prince, and even if he wasn't from Earth, he could still give sage advice on this sort of thing.
But Steve was just a kid from Brooklyn…1940's Brooklyn…where you were lucky and thankful just to have a decent meal and a job that actually paid you.
The jet black Rolls Royce came to a stop, to which Happy kindly escorted Pepper out of the car first, before attending to his boss. The brunette gave the blonde a thumbs up, "Ready to rock and roll?"
Rogers nodded; gripping the door handle and smirking meekly-his conscious screaming, "You don't belong here."
A second later, the Ironman and the Captain stepped out of the vehicle, and into a swarm of flashing cameras.
The next half hour was nothing but a blur to Steve as the paparazzi swept up both him and Tony-asking all kinds of questions about the Avengers, or armor…or girlfriends. To all of the pestering reporters, Stark answered them like a professional, with his clever remarks that actually didn't tell you anything, and you wouldn't realize it until long afterward. The soldier kept up a grin for the cameras' sake, but his eyes were completely focused on the staircase leading up to a set of oak doors. They just had to make it inside, and then they'd be safe.
It was a full ten minutes before they finally crossed the threshold and security was able to fend off the news crews still wanting a piece of the superheroes. The Captain breathed a sigh of relief, believing the worst to be over…until the billionaire dragged him over to grab some drinks and meet his friends. Apparently, "friends" was a loose term, however, for it was painfully obvious that the inventor barely knew any of these people himself. He found a way around his forgetfulness by introducing Steve first, to which the socialites would be forced to name themselves, and then Stark would suddenly "remember" who they were.
And that was the first thing the soldier learned about Tony that night. As much as he claimed and appeared to be a social butterfly, in reality, he was arguably the most isolated guy imaginable. It was clear in his brown eyes he'd rather be in his lab, putting his mind to something, than be hanging around these men and women who's eyes glazed over when he launched into his tech jargon. Perhaps that was why he had become attached to Banner-he had finally found an intellectual equal.
Really, the only other person the billionaire counted as a true friend (besides Happy) was Rhodey. Steve had met the pilot on more than one occasion-finding instant companionship in a fellow military man. And Rhodes, in turn, was more than excited to talk to the legendary Captain America. He wished the pilot could've attended the party, but he was currently on a mission-operating his own suit of armor now.
No wonder Tony was so adamant about the Captain coming with him…inside, he probably felt just as out of place as the blonde did…two lonely souls facing an awkward evening together.
But the inventor was an expert on hiding this notion, as he laughed and joked along with whatever these businessmen told him, so the soldier did his best to be polite and play along. But the more the conversations dragged on into unfamiliar territory, the more Rogers shied away from the crowds and busied himself with snacking on the orderves-taking in the decadent house. A few onlookers (mostly women) gave a few curious glances at him in passing, but all were content to leave him be as his mind wandered. This wasn't his side of the tracks at all…he should've just stayed home.
"Too ritzy for you, huh?" a feminine voice lulled from behind.
Steve slowly turned on his heel, to find Miss Virginia Potts smiling at him with her ruby red lips-her copper locks draping her shoulders like a water fall. She was wearing a white, fur scarf, underneath of which was a silky red dress that hugged her curves perfectly.
…and for a split second, an image of a certain brunette came to his mind instead…and internally, he was sweating.
A red dress…why did it have to be a red dress?
"I…I guess so", he finally stammered out, "N-not that that's a bad thing, it…just takes some getting used to."
Pepper giggled at his blushing cheeks, "Yeah, Tony's not much for easing people into something. If he's diving into things, he's taking you with him. But it all works out…" Her gaze drifted as she added more quietly, "…most of the time."
Her lips were trained to a tiny smile, but her eyes weren't fooling anyone. It was the very thing Stark had warned Rogers about before they arrived…Potts had gotten ditched…again.
But ever the loyal friend, the solider was determined to keep his promise…even if she did remind him of…
"Y-you look lovely tonight", the Captain grabbed the first words that came to him-keeping his line of sight focused just on her face.
The red head perked up, "Oh, thanks. I just threw this on."
She spoke as if it were no big deal, which made his eyes widen. "Just threw this on?" His entire life savings probably couldn't afford the scarf alone. He was pulled from his thoughts when the CEO took a step closer, "You don't look so bad yourself."
"Thanks", he glanced down at his spiffy new suit, "Whoever his tailors are, they work pretty fast."
"Really?" Potts raised a brow, "They seem to take their grand old time when they wait on me."
If the tailors are mostly men, I can see why.
It was then that Pepper took note of the color of his tuxedo, and she let out a laugh as she pointed at her own dress and scarf, "Hey, look at this…red, white, and blue…looks like we both found the right partner tonight."
Steve nodded…and inside, he was nearly crying.
Remember your promise…remember your promise…
"I'm, uh…really happy for you and Tony", he desperately tried steering the conversation away from himself, "He's very lucky to have you in his life."
Her eyes fell shyly to the floor as a sad smile broke out. Immediately, the soldier cursed himself for emphasizing the inventor's obvious absence. Quickly, he muttered, "I…I know he's really sorry…for being…preoccupied."
Miss Potts shook her head and forced a chuckle, "I know he is…and on the business end of things, I've been in his shoes…hell, I'm STILL in his shoes." Her gaze fell upon her superhero lover as he told some joke to a group of socialites, who roared with laughter. Her voice became wistful, "People ask me why I put up with him…why I stay with him. Everyone thinks he's a jerk…and he CAN be, sometimes…" Instinctively, her hand moved up to her chest, "But I know he has a heart…he's constantly working to do the right thing. More than once, I've found him conked out in the lab, or asleep at a work bench…and it's in those moments I realize…he's not just doing what he does for himself, or for the world…he does it for me…to keep me safe…to keep us all safe."
The more the CEO talked, the more Rogers found himself imagining Peggy standing there…saying those very words. And it made him wonder…had he done the same thing to her as Tony was now doing to his secretary? When he went off to battle, did Agent Carter ever get questioned in the same fashion? Did he make her just as lonesome?
…and did she wait up for him when he disappeared?
He noticeably flinched when Pepper laid a hand on his arm, and he looked downward to see her smirking up at him, "Wanna' go look at the cars?"
The front yard was just the previews. The BACKyard was the area that was truly…immaculate, to say the least.
As it turned out, the driveway extended and circled all the way around the house; the path lined with large trees and bushes all carved to look like various animals. Had the situation been different, the Captain would've spared a laugh at such an odd sight. But he was too engrossed in staring out at the nearly endless line up of vehicles-polished and shimmering as if they were built yesterday.
He only paused in his ogling when Miss Potts took his arm in hers and motioned to follow her, "Come on this way. I think I found a little surprise for you."
Her words made the soldier blush-wondering just what she had in mind. But he let himself be pulled along as the pair made their way down the line. There were more than a few Audis and Lamborghinis, and a Rolls Royce not unlike the one he and Tony arrived in; all of which were being carefully inspected and tended to by their respective owners. But Pepper seemed completely disinterested as she merely trotted past (or maybe she was just avoiding the stares and whistles from the mechanics).
But the more they walked, the more Rogers began noticing a pattern to the designs of the cars. Little by little, the years seemed to tick backward as they progressed farther down the line-the models becoming exponentially archaic, but no less beautiful of course…almost like witnessing a real life timeline…
And then they finally arrived at the back of the line…and then Steve saw it…and his heart nearly melted…
Sitting there, bathed in the moonlight-it's glow practically forming a halo around its frame…was a navy blue, 1942 Dodge Sedan.
Pepper took a moment to admire the solider's awestruck expression, before chuckling, "I thought you'd like it."
Like it? By all accounts, the Captain was in LOVE. Without a word, he slowly advanced on the vehicle-circling around and gazing at every fine detail-hoping what he was seeing wasn't a mirage. From the fresh wax, to the crystal clear windows, to the gleaming hubcaps and fully pumped tires, the whole kit and caboodle appeared to have come right off the assembly line.
"She's a real beauty, ain't she?" came a voice.
Rogers poked his head up to find an older gentleman walking towards them. He was dressed in, what had to be, his best suit, with a matching cap-his thinning hair poking out on the sides. As he made his approach, he winked at Miss Potts, "Oh, and the car's nice too."
The red head giggled at his joke, while Steve took the initiative and shook the man's hand, "Looks like we're both in pretty company tonight. This is Miss Virginia Potts. I'm Steve Rogers."
"Ah, the famous Pepper Potts. Glad to know my baby's attracting such classy attention", the old man grinned, "And nice to meet a fellow Steve, Mr. Rogers. Just call me Mr. Ditko."
The Captain nodded in recognition, before turning back to admire the craftsmanship of the vehicle, "This is a '42 model, right?"
"You hit it right on the nose", the gentleman gave his prize a gentle pat, as if it were a family pet, "This used to be my granddad's car, before he put it in storage. I'm lucky to have found it. In those days, most of these beauties were melted down for scrap metal…it's rare to come across an original."
The solider agreed; knowing all too well what he was talking about. His eyes glazed over at he thought back to days long past-feeling completely in his element for one moment…maybe the car show wasn't such a bad idea after all, "…I'm sure your grandpa would be happy to know you're taking care of his possessions."
Mr. Ditko inclined his head, before raising an eyebrow at his odd admirer, "You seem pretty interested in this stuff for such a young fella'…most of you folks are off lookin' at those modern hotrods-not botherin' with an engine that still needs wound up."
Rogers blushed; debating how to answer him. Thankfully, Pepper came to his rescue and smiled; patting him on the shoulder, "Let's just say he's not most folks. We appreciate old fashioned. Without this, we wouldn't be where we are today."
Steve smirked at her kind words, but couldn't help but wonder if she was referring to the car or him. He didn't dwell on it for long, for she continued, "So was it pretty much like new, or did you have to restore it?"
"Oh my, yes; she needed some work", the man chuckled, "Mainly just a new paint job and replacing some worn out parts. Cost me a pretty penny, but it was all worth it. She can roll with the big boys just as well." He tossed in a wink, "Wanna' hear her purr?"
The Captain nodded, almost a bit TOO enthusiastically, which made Miss Potts laugh. The gentleman obliged by sliding into the cab and starting the ignition. Immediately, the engine sprang to life; rumbling like a content cat-the motor giving off an air of hidden power…a strong machine contained in a simple, humble package.
"Well, what do ya' think?" Mr. Ditko called out.
The soldier grinned from ear to ear, "It sounds like Heaven, sir."
The man let out an earnest chuckle, "Glad to hear it, son." He then turned off the car and got out; passing his keys off to a chauffeur that had since arrived. He patted the young man on the back, "Make sure whoever's drivin' my baby takes care of her." He then turned to his two admirers, "I'll see you folks out front."
With that, Mr. Ditko trotted away; whistling a tune as he went. Both the Captain and CEO glanced at one another in confusion. "Where's he off to?" he asked.
The young man who had taken the keys came up to them both, "Don't you know? The celebrities that came to this party are going to drive the cars around the mansion."
Realization dawned on Miss Potts, "Oh yeah, I forgot. Tony's one of the drivers in the parade." She glanced back at the house for a moment, "Who knows where he's at right now."
The chauffeur let out an impatient huff, "Well, everyone's getting to their cars, so unless he shows up in the next ten seconds, this thing's going nowhere." He then held up a clipboard, "Only he or Miss Potts are permitted to operate this vehicle."
The red head folded her arms, "I'm Miss Potts."
The young man took another peek at his clipboard; spotting a picture of her in the profile he was given. He nodded once, before handing over the keys, "Very well then. Have a nice trip, ma'am."
Before the trio could argue anymore, the gentleman took his leave-shouting out directions to his co-workers. Pepper just shook her head, mumbling, "I KNOW Tony set this up. Why would MY name be on the list too?"
Rogers shrugged, "Precaution, I guess?" The blonde and the red head could only stare at the various other socialites as they each piled into their respective vehicles. He then turned back to the CEO, "So…what do we do?"
Pepper limply shrugged, "…I guess I'm driving."
Resigning themselves to the situation, Steve stepped ahead of Miss Potts so he could hold open the driver's side door for her. She thanked him at being the ever-present gentleman-being mindful of her dress as she carefully slid inside the cab. Once she was secure, only then did the soldier circle around and climb into the passenger seat; the shiny, black leather interior cool to the touch. Upon settling in, the blonde let a content sigh escape him…it was the closest thing he'd ever have to a time machine. He closed his eyes and smiled-imagining some low bass jazz tune playing in the distance…
…until the red head broke him from his dream when she mumbled, "…oh crap…"
The Captain faced her; blinking in confusion, "What's wrong?"
Her lips formed a thin line as she tried in vain to not panic. She merely pointed at the large knob-marked with strange lines, numbers, and letters-her voice a tiny stutter.
"…I don't know how to drive a stick."
Rogers was put off at this admission for only a moment, before it dawned on him-almost all modern cars now, from what he understood, were all automatics. One didn't have to shift gears themselves anymore. No wonder she was staring at this old Dodge as if it came from another planet. But ever the one to take charge, he gave her a comforting smile to try and keep her calm, "Oh…well, don't worry. It's not too hard. I'll talk you through it."
Pepper nodded, although there was no hiding her fear as her eyes darted over the unfamiliar controls, "Okay, good…well, let's at least start it up first."
Quickly, she stuck the key in the ignition and began to turn it. Steve sat up in alarm, "No, wait!"
But his warning came too late. All at once, the engine made the most unpleasant rattling sound imaginable. The red head jumped back as if the steering wheel was about to eat her face, "What? What'd I do?"
Before answering, the soldier killed the motor, then stared at her sheepishly, "Um…you have to put the car in neutral first, or you'll stall the engine."
"And that's…bad?" it was more of a statement than a question, and her face turned beet red.
He inclined his head with a simple, "Yes."
She took a deep breath; vowing to not make the same mistake twice, "Okay…well, let's get out of park too."
She made a move to grab the stick, only to discover there was no "P" symbol on the handle. Sensing her confusion, the Captain explained, "There's no 'park'. You just use the emergency brake."
The CEO appeared ready to stick a dunce cap on her head for messing up yet again. She quietly muttered, "…right."
Things only went downhill from there-for both of them.
Needless to say, the duo counted themselves lucky that they were the last ones in line, for the back end of the parade was looking more like a driver's ed class by the minute. Miss Potts managed to finally start the car without incident, only to run into another road block when it was time to actually get driving. The new student stared down at her feet-trying to find the gas and the brake pedal, only to discover there were THREE pedals. Steve simply remarked that the extra lever was the clutch. She responded by not knowing what a clutch WAS…to which the blonde did a face palm.
He then had to explain how the clutch helped to shift the gears…and THAT turned into an adventure in an of itself as she attempted to accelerate, only to have the poor vehicle stop and start-the engine wailing in agony like a wounded animal as gears were shifted too early or too late. As the pair made their way around the house, the soldier winced at the constant coughing and chugging sound coming from the defenseless machine-all the while the CEO looked about ready to curl up in a corner and die. There was no doubt in both of their minds that her little "driving lesson" was attracting more attention than the parade itself. It made them wonder why no one was rushing over to help…unless the party guests were getting both dinner AND a show; giggling and snorting at the red head thoroughly embarrassing herself.
But to her credit, Pepper was NOT about to give up, and Rogers was proud of her in that sense-amazed she could even work the pedals at all, in high heels. He tried his best to sound encouraging; telling her she was doing a great job for a beginner…even as the car cried out in protest…and how his stomach did barrel rolls at the constant lurching.
But when a huge puff of smoke burst out of the exhaust with a loud pop, the secretary finally threw in the towel. She was NOT about to be responsible for ruining such a beautiful car.
By then, the parade was passing through the garden-the road lined with even more trees and bushes carved in various animal forms. The Captain was about to make another comment about how Miss Potts was driving in the wrong gear…when suddenly, the car swiveled off to the side as she made a hard right turn. Instinctively, he braced himself, and yelped out a little louder than necessary, "Where are we going?"
"I can't take this anymore…and don't lie to me, 'cause I know you can't either", she struggled to turn the wheel as far as it would go-realizing too late that old cars also didn't have the luxury of power steering, "We need to switch places."
Steve was utterly thrown at this change of plan, and merely blinked at her, "But, I thought you're only allowed to-"
As the Dodge rolled to a stop behind a giant, leafy elephant, Pepper fully faced the Captain-her expression leaving no room for argument, "Let me rephrase that. We're switching. Now."
The soldier stared into her eyes for about half a minute-thinking that a war zone was much safer than being in a car with her behind the wheel, as much as he hated to admit it. And Mr. Ditko would have their heads on silver platters if they rolled up to the mansion in an empty frame. Her face then softened from annoyed to pleading, as she silently begged him to take control of this foreign machine. So with that, he finally muttered, "Yes, ma'am."
Without another word, the blonde and the red head slid out of the car-being as stealthy and quiet as possible as they circled around and swapped places. Being his gentlemanly self, Rogers made a move to open the door for her, but she had already hopped into the passenger side of the cab and slammed the door, to which he gave a limp shrug, more to himself. Resigning to his fate, he then climbed into the driver's seat-engaging all the proper gears, before pulling back onto the road and falling in line behind the other vehicles again, all the while hoping that none of them noticed their temporary disappearance.
For anyone who witnessed the earlier drama, it would've instantly been noticeable, for the car seemed to sigh in relief as a more experienced driver took the wheel. No more chugging; no more grinding; no more lurching. Just a calm, smooth ride in the coolest car on the lot (in the soldier's opinion, that is).
Pepper merely watched as the Captain's hands glided over the stick shift and wheel effortlessly-navigating the controls like a seasoned pro. He couldn't help the joyous grin spreading across his face, which made her smile as well. He looked like he was having the time of his life.
And for all intents and purposes, he WAS. Driving this pristine Dodge was like slipping into an old, familiar suit. A part of him was initially afraid that his time in the ice would've caused him to fall out of practice, but to his relief, it was as if he had just driven yesterday. And with that revelation, as the engine thrummed to the beat of his heart, a part of his soul-a fragment he believed to have buried away with the rest of his old life, was reignited.
And for one, precious second, he was truly home again.
"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" Miss Potts broke the quiet with a kind smirk.
Rogers chuckled as he patted the wheel, "Well, I'd be lying if I said no."
The red head giggled, to which the blonde joined in, but more at the notion that, just for ONCE, the roles in regards to culture shock had been reversed. As much as he loathed to look down upon anyone, admittedly, it was utterly hilarious how the secretary completely failed at something that was so simple to him. He only wished his lesson in "old school" would've been given to Tony instead. Now THAT he'd have absolutely no regrets about.
By that time, the parade had, at long last, come to an end, with a clapping and cheering crowd of people greeting them at the front of the mansion. An older gentleman then emerged from the house with a flock of cameramen and reporters following him. Steve recognized him as one of the socialites Tony had introduced him to. Apparently, this guy was the one who put this whole shindig together. He just wished he could remember his name…Stan-something…
As the man with the paparazzi began escorting each driver out of their vehicle, the soldier smiled and shrugged, "Well that wasn't…so bad." He made a point to play off the earlier fiasco as if it never happened.
But when he turned towards Pepper, he instantly noticed her face going pale, and she muttered under her breath, "Oh crap…"
The Captain repressed a sigh; the first time she spoke those words, it led into the drive from hell. NOW what was the matter? But he kept his tone light, "What's wrong?"
She slowly faced him-a look of dread creeping into her eyes, "…Tony and I were the only ones authorized to drive the car…if they see YOU driving…"
Her voice trailed off, but Rogers no longer needed an explanation, and he too, began to worry. Showing up at a private party at the last second was one thing-Stark had enough credentials to allow the solider access without an invitation…but these were show cars. Not just any random person off the street's permitted to drive them unless they're given permission. If the camera crews saw HIM get out of the driver's seat and not Miss Potts…suffice it to say, they'd have some serious explaining to do.
"Oh…okay…" he tried to think fast, "…we'll just switch again."
But the secretary held back a gasp, "We can't switch now! They'll see us!"
The Captain quickly surveyed their surroundings. The camera crews were more than preoccupied with talking to the celebrities, but there were still at least a hundred by-standers gathered around. There'd be no fancy bushes to hide behind THIS time. The press was drawing ever closer, and the red head began to panic, "We're gonna' have to switch right here."
She said it so fast, the blonde almost didn't hear her. He raised a brow, "…what?"
Her eyes widened, not liking the plan, but seeing no other option, "We have to switch INSIDE the car."
Now Steve was utterly puzzled at such a crazy notion…but the more he thought it through…the more he began to blush, "Wha…um…how are we going to do that?"
Somehow, he already knew the answer, and he DIDN'T like it one bit. Without another word, Pepper's hands scrambled to find the handle underneath the seats. A second later, she tipped back both seats to the point they were almost laying flat. She then lied down and beckoned with one hand, "Alright. Climb over me."
At such a simple command, the solider actually jumped-more than startled at such an…intimate proposition, "…what?"
Her eyes kept darting out the window; scanning for any nosey reporters, "Quick, before they get here. Climb over me."
For a moment, Rogers was rendered completely speechless…how could he possibly do such a thing? And to a woman he barely knew? He was raised better than that, and he'd rather face the consequences of the switch around than risk defiling her in any way, shape, or form. Face turning beet red, he stuttered, "Ma'am…I'm sorry, but…there is NO way I'm going to…"
He couldn't even finish the sentence. And Pepper couldn't help but let out a groan. Normally, she would've been flattered at his overt politeness-it was rare to find these days…but this was an emergency! At long last, she huffed, "Okay, fine! Just slide over and I'LL do it!"
Although the blonde was certainly NOT fine with this plan in any form at all, it seemed that letting her do the…finite moves was a tiny bit more forgiving. So he merely gave a tiny, nervous nod, before lying back and shifting over to the passenger seat, at the same time that Miss Potts flipped over and attempted to climb over top of him. Throughout the entire ordeal, the Captain kept his eyes tightly shut-trying to retain as much modesty as possible. And to that, the CEO was grateful, for her tight dress was NOT suited for extreme movement of any kind, and her awkward positions would've left a more dirty-minded man something to ogle at.
The voices from the cameramen were drawing nearer, causing the two drivers to scurry faster. But they also had to pay close mind to not rock the car, and keep their grunting to a minimum, lest the on-lookers get suspicious…or worse, think they were doing something else…
They had almost finally made the switch…until Pepper's foot got tangled up in the steering wheel…and her dress snagged on a lever…
…and in one, fluid motion, she fell forward…landing right on top of Steve…their lips millimeters from touching.
In a moment that felt like hours, the red head and blonde stared into each other's eyes-stunned beyond belief…and maybe even enjoying it a tiny bit. But the soldier was more scared than anything else. He barely got to first base with Peggy, and now he was…oh God…
In those few seconds, his heart began to race and his mind began to spiral.
"Must be a dream."
"You're so vile!"
"Her hair smells so nice…"
"But she looks kind of like…"
"Get your mind out of the gutter!"
"Tony's going to kill you!"
"Don't do it, don't do it, don't look, don't look, DON'T-"
Just then, Pepper broke the tense silence when she noticed his rising dread. Not wanting him to fully panic, she kept her voice even, calm, but also firm, "Listen carefully. The camera crews are going to come over. We're going to calmly get out of the car, smile, and pretend this never happened…understand?"
Ever so slowly, Steve inclined his head; his expression looking, for all the world, like a lost puppy, "….yes, ma'am."
With a final sigh, and without further incident, superhero and super secretary untangled themselves; taking their original positions in the cab. It was perfect timing, for just then, the paparazzi swarmed the car-the cameras flashing a mile a minute as Miss Potts made a glamorous entrance. They asked her a few questions, to which she gave an answer with a smoothness that all but rivaled her boyfriend. But whatever had been said fell on deaf ears, for the Captain was too preoccupied with keeping his pounding heart in his chest-taking a step back to let the reporters do their thing. The spotlight was on the red head, and he had no qualms about not sharing it.
At long last, the group moved on to interview someone else, and the CEO let loose the breath she was holding. It was then that the soldier came to stand next to her, and without really thinking, she linked her arm with his…a silent gesture that said, "it's okay. It's all over now." When she noticed his shaking hand, she patted him on the shoulder-tossing in a smile. And he couldn't help but smirk back; amazed at how fast the woman could collect herself. Maybe it had to do with being associated with so many…odd people. Either way, the message came across loud and clear that there were no hard feelings between them.
The pair quickly made their way back inside the mansion, where a new slew of party-goers were congregating. Among them, of course, was Tony Stark, who, upon seeing his familiar friends approach, tipped a glass of champagne to them, "Hey you two-where'd you disappear to?"
Pepper wasted no time in puckering up and giving her boyfriend a smooch…partly also to assure her own loyalties. And the inventor was fooling no one-he knew EXACTLY where she and the blonde had been. She exposed his lie with, "You owe both of us, Tony. BIG time."
The billionaire rubbed the back of his head, "Yeah, sorry about that. Mr. Lee just kept blabbin' to me, and I couldn't escape. I'll make it up to you."
Both of his friends shook their heads. Typical Stark. Most likely, both of them would have some kind of expensive gift on their respective doorsteps by morning. And this time, they deserved it-this WAS one night Steve "would never forget"…
…and it was only made worse when the brunette held out a plate of cheesy bread and raised a brow.
"You want some fondue?"
Rogers face went deathly pale…and for a long, hard minute, he just stared at the plate with total horror…
Tony was about to say something, when the Captain found his voice, "…where's Happy?"
The inventor pointed to the buffet, "Over there. Why?"
But instead of giving him an answer, the soldier brushed past his friend and Miss Potts-calling out to the chauffeur in a panic, "Happy? Can you please take me home?"
The billionaire blinked; utterly puzzled as to why the solider would leave halfway through the party, "What's wrong, Cap?"
Said Captain still didn't answer him, instead nearly yelling to the bewildered driver, "Just take me home!"
As Steve and Happy hastily left the party, Pepper put a hand to her mouth, but mostly to cover the blush reddening her face. Tony just looked around-totally confused.
"Was it something I said?"
EVERY fan fiction regarding Steve is about his mishaps with modern tech. Just for ONCE, I wanted to see a story where the roles reversed, and all parties involved learn that culture shock can work BOTH ways.
As for the choice of car, that came from a Bill Cosby sketch called "The $75 Car", from the album, "Why is there Air". He talks about the first car he bought when he came out of the service, and he says:
"I bought a 1942 Dodge with the money I saved up from the service, and it had four bald-headed tires. So with my last few dollars, I bought a snow tire, and about 75 sand bags for traction. So in deep snow, I'd just dig into that one wheel and the car would raise up...and I wrote 'Captain America' on the side. That was the kind of car I had."
He then gets into a long story about one of his girlfriends, but later on, he mentions "getting into the Captain America car" again. As soon as I remembered this routine, I went-THAT'S the car I have to use. Just type "1942 Dodge Sedan" in a Google image search.
And on a final note, I made a point to mention Rhodey in this, since most fan fiction writers seem to have forgotten about him...which is totally unfair, considering that he was (and still is) Tony's best friend long before the Avengers showed up. I just think it sucks that he basically got thrown out in favor of the superpowered people (in the eyes of the fans, it seems anyway).