Disclaimer: I don't own The Avengers, in either its comic or movie incarnations. If I did, well, FrostIron would be far from the fantasy that it is. Actually, Loki would probably make everyone his bitch, but that will sadly (probably) never happen. I don't own Harry Potter either, but I have invested many hours (and dollars) into it, so really, I deserve the right to write this story.
"Drinking is the soldier's pleasure."
~ John Dryden
Steve and the New Evening Routine
Steve had been running around New York since before he'd even been given the serum. At the time, it had been his way of trying to be strong and show that he was made of tougher stuff; now it was half because he had nothing else to do and half because he wanted to see what had changed.
A lot, apparently. Running was now a popular exercise form, it seemed; while before he'd been probably the only person in the world to even want to exert himself in such a way, now it was seen as being a healthy and completely normal thing to do.
While it had originally started as something of a fact-finding mission, running had become part of his daily routine. Wake up, make self presentable, eat enough food that even Thor was impressed, mill around ugly tower with nothing to do, eat lunch, continue being bored until afternoon cartoons began playing on the television, exit ugly tower, run.
Every day at a certain stretch of road he would run beside a fellow jogger, a tanned brunette whom he'd never spoken to, until she turned down a street and he continued straight. Sometimes he wanted to follow her, or say something, but he never did. Then, down another street, he would pass a schoolboy walking on the other side of the street and in the opposite direction. The kid, a teenager, would invariably smile at him every day, and it made Steve's step a little light for the remainder of his run.
Today, however, was different.
Tony had made himself a nuisance around the shared commons of the tower that afternoon, so while he had managed to go on his run, he had left late, much to his chagrin. Routine was something that Steve was more than merely fond of, and to have it disrupted was not something he enjoyed.
He ended up only catching a glimpse of his brunette running partner; he saw her turn off just as he made it onto the street. Quietly disappointed, he continued onwards in time to find out where the schoolkid went every day.
Steve watched him on the opposite side of the road, smiling on seeing him and grinning on being smiled at. He would have continued on without much thought, but then he noticed where the child was headed; a bar. The boy removed his tie - the only thing that identified him as school-age - and pulled out his wallet. Steve frowned - the kid was going to try and get himself a drink!
He turned and made his way across the street, checking both ways before crossing - because he was a sensible man that way - and entered the bar only moments after the boy had.
The first thing that he saw when he came in was a dimly lit entrance hall that contained a staircase going down, one going up, and not much else. The second thing he saw was a doorway on his immediate left that led to a large, bright room which was filled with tables and chairs and a bar on the far side.
The man behind the bar looked up at him from a large book and smiled, "Welcome to the Dragon's Tongue," he said amiably in an accent that somewhat painfully reminded Steve of Peggy's, "Come on in."
Steve obliged with a small smile and made his way over to sit at the bar. He wondered where that kid had gotten to if he wasn't in the room.
"What can I get for you?" the bartender asked, leaning against the bench behind him.
"Just a water, thanks," Steve replied politely; drinking alcohol was a pointless endeavour for him, so he usually tried to avoid it.
The barkeep nodded and pulled out a bottle from the fridge, "You were running, huh?" he asked, obviously noticing the signs of his exertion.
Steve nodded; despite everything that the serum had changed in his body, he was still a sweat machine, "Yeah; I run by here often, actually. I came in because I saw a teenager come in here and I thought he was trying to get himself some alcohol, so..." he trailed off at the smile the barkeep gave him.
"Black hair, really light brown eyes, almost yellow?" he asked.
"Yes, actually. You know him?"
"Yessir, that would be my son; we live upstairs."
"Ah, that makes sense then."
A shot glass of light-green liquid was placed before him and he frowned.
"On the house, since this is your first time here," he was told, "I'm Harry, by the way. I own and run this place and have for nearly thirteen years now."
"Oh, I'm Steve," he replied, picking up the glass and examining it, "What is this?"
Harry grinned, "Down it in one and I'll tell you."
Steve stared suspiciously at the yellow liquid before throwing it back. The inside of his mouth and throat immediately set alight, and when he took a breath, everywhere that the alcohol had touched suddenly felt like ice.
"What-" he gasped, "What is that stuff?"
Harry pushed the glass of water towards the blonde with a mischievous smile worthy of Tony.
Steve's eyes snapped back to the empty glass, but Harry simply tutted at him in response.
"Trust me; I named that stuff a long time before I knew what an arse the real guy was. I've got a drink for Thor and Odin, too; I even have a cocktail for Frigga."
Steve nodded without understanding; unlike most of the Avengers he hadn't researched the mythology behind their first - and most terrible - foe. If he wanted to know something, he just waited until he next saw Thor and asked the man who had lived the legends.
"Why is it named for Loki?" he asked instead of admitting his ignorance.
Harry seemed to realise that he didn't know, however, and leaned back against the bench behind him again.
"Because Loki, while being portrayed as either a half or full Jötunn - Frost Giant," he filled in at Steve's confused expression, "is also the god of fire."
Steve blinked; this was news to him; "Really? Hence the burning and the freezing?"
Harry nodded with a proud smile.
"I stumbled on that drink quite by accident; I'd forgotten about a barrel of Jötunheimr and when I tested it to see if it was any good, that happened," he recalled, "It's been somewhat popular to buy a shot of it and burn it since the battle, which is a bit of a waste, really, but I suppose it's better than burning down the entire pub."
Steve nodded and sipped his drink pensively. It sounded like something that Clint would like to do; the man still had pictures of Loki from his time in SHIELD custody attached to the heads of his practice mannequins.
"Do you name many of your drinks after gods?"
Harry nodded and stepped off the bench the gesture at the bottles behind him, "All of the ones that I make myself are named after mythical beings, but they're not just Norse. I started with Celtic, then Norse, and then I moved onto Egyptian and Mesopotamian. I have some from different versions of ancient Chinese myth and whole heap of creatures from Japan," he then pointed to those sitting on a separate shelf, "Those are for Native American stories, stretching all the way from the northernmost Eskimos to the most southern South American Natives. Hawaii is included too. The shelf underneath represents many of the Polynesian and Australasian stories."
Steve hadn't known how many myths about gods and creatures had existed until that moment. As he read the strangely decorative labels, he suddenly realised that being "just a kid from Brooklyn" wasn't going to cut it as an excuse for so little knowledge in the open world he found himself inhabiting.
"I also have a bunch more under the counter," Harry finished, looking rather sheepish, "which is where I also keep the normal drinks for boring people."
"Wow... Just... How do you find the time? You look too young to have made up all of these," Steve exclaimed.
Harry grinned in return, "Why thank you; you don't look too bad yourself, for an old man."
Steve's eyes turned back to Harry with a start, "You recognised me?"
"Of course," he said with a nod, "I was in the bank that day, you know, with the grenade thing? You saved my life and probably the lives of everyone in that room from those things."
"Just doing my job..." Steve murmured, looking down.
"Mate, I was a cop for almost two years in England before I decided that being a hero was the worst job in the history of ever. Trust me, what you do goes beyond "just a job"."
Steve opened his mouth to respond, but was cut off by a call from the hallway.
"Dad! What does sowilo do when you tilt it forty degrees to the left and- oh. Hi," the boy who had walked in finished lamely. Steve took a moment to examine the teen - Harry's son - more closely than he had before. Asides from the hair, there didn't seem to be much of his father in him - a heart shaped face, dips next to his mouth that would probably turn into dimples when he smiled and eyes that were as eerily golden as his father's were green. It struck him that Harry looked somewhat like Loki, but he dismissed it immediately.
"Hello," he replied, nodding to the young man.
The boy nodded back and then continued towards the bar, "Anyway, one book said that it increases the power, but the one that Nan bought me said that it increases a person's foresight and clears thought. Do you know?"
"What's the context?" asked Harry, holding his hand out for the paper in his son's hand. Steve sat, silent and completely lost, and watched the man smile slightly, "When it's used that way, tilting it doesn't change the effect at all."
"A trick question?" he exclaimed in response, "That's not fair!"
Harry laughed; "Welcome to Runes, Teddy; every symbol has about twelve meanings, even when they're right way up."
Teddy grumbled as he took the sheet back and glared at it, practically stomping up the stairs and back to wherever he'd come from.
Harry smiled indulgently and with obvious fondness at his son's minor tantrum.
"Does he take after his mother?" Steve asked, wondering if it would be rude to ask for another glass of water.
Harry took his glass and filled it again, "You have no idea. If I had known that he was going to be such a hellion when he hit puberty, I would have left him back in England with his grandmother!" he laughed good-naturedly.
"I HEARD THAT!" the teen in question yelled from upstairs.
"DO YOUR HOMEWORK OR I'LL FLIRT WITH YOUR HISTORY TEACHER AGAIN NEXT PARENT-TEACHER MEETING!" he yelled back. The response was a horrified "eep!" and then silence.
Steve was about to say something about Harry's appearance and his son's age when another shot glass was placed before him.
"Thor's Hammer; not quite the most powerful drink, that title belongs to the Odinsleep, but I thought you might enjoy the irony."
Steve picked up the shot glass and decided just not to ask anymore.
"Bottoms up," he said, raising it in a toasting motion, and downed it in one hit.
For a moment he felt nothing, and then suddenly there was a tingling feeling racing from his stomach all the way to the tips of his fingers and toes - almost like he'd been zapped by a low voltage battery. He shuddered through the strange feeling and wondered how the hell a drink had the power to do that to a person.
"Magic," Harry answered with a grin, and Steve realised with a tiny flicker of embarrassment that he'd asked the question aloud.
Steve remained at the pub for another two hours, occasionally interrupted by a query from Teddy about some problem or another, until actual paying customers began entering. He tried to pay what he felt was owed for the drink-sampling but his money was waved away with a stern glare from Harry; "Next time you come you can pay, not this time. Bring a friend or something; I'd love to hear stories about the Avengers from the figurative horse's mouth."
Steve realised on his way back to the tower than Harry had only mentioned his identity as Captain America twice throughout the afternoon, and smiled to himself; it was good to be Just Steve to someone after so long as a nation's idol.
AN: What started as a one-shot... is no longer a one-shot. There are at least two more chapters to this (probably up to four, I'd say), so hold onto your butts people.