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[personal profile] rosieknight
Title: Playtime
Artist: Gabbi
Author: Rosieknight
Rating (both art/fic): Art: G, Fic: PG
Universe: MCU
Word Count: 6,110
Warnings: Some cursing.

Art Thumbnail:
 photo Actionfigures-pre.jpg

Full Art: At the artist's website.
Fic Summary: Steve and Tony test out Avengers merchandise.



“And if there are no further…”

“Actually,” Tony interrupted Fury, “there is something else we need to discuss, as a team.”

“Oh? And what might that be, Stark?”

“Merchandising,” stated Tony.

Steve blinked, not sure he had heard correctly. “What’s ‘merchandising’ and what does it have to do with the team?”

“It’s where the real money of the movie is made,” Tony quipped. “But mangled Spaceballs quotes aside, we – this team – are now some of the most famous people in the world. The public is going to want things related to us – information, products, whatever.” He leaned back, somehow managing to sprawl against the inflexible chair. “If we don’t do anything about that demand, someone else will. And that could get very tricky very quickly.”

“Explain,” Fury growled.

Tony exhaled noisily, “I’m not an expert in this, but off the top of my head… a) someone else could trademark Avengers, the rest of the team’s codenames, the uniforms… costumes… whatever you want to call them. Any and all of this could lead to a costly and prolonged legal battle, which we might lose. Two, by controlling majority of Avengers items sold to the public, we also control how they look. For example, images of Natasha or Barton could be altered to look less like their actual features.” He glanced at the two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. “I’m not sure what your plans are now you’ve been on national television. It might make it difficult to be master spies and assassins with your faces so widely known.” Shrugging, Tony continued, “And reason c. If we’re controlling the merchandising, we can use any profits from the sales of Avengers themed stuff to make the team self-funding, help with repairs, or whatever else we might need or want money for.”

“Both S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers are federally funded,” retorted Fury.

Tony snorted, “The federal government? Don’t make me laugh, Fury. We both know that S.H.I.E.L.D.’s budget is one short-sighted, cut-happy politician away from getting hacked to death, just like every other government programs’. This way, your agency isn’t financially tied to an expensive and highly visible team and we, the highly public Avengers, aren’t tied to a shadowy source of funding like S.H.I.E.L.D. Individual members of the team, like Barton and Natasha, might be primarily on your payroll, fine. But this give us all more options.”

Fury nodded, “Have your people send me a copy of your merchandising plan to look over before you run with this. There’s going to be limits on the information you can use about the team’s origin and certain members’ backgrounds. I want to know who you plan to feature, and what you’re going to say about them. As for the rest… you’ll have to talk to your teammates. Now get the hell out of here.”

“Sir, yes, sir,” joked Tony. “Come on, Avengers. Let’s do lunch. I’m buying.”

***********************

Steve slid his motorcycle into the last remaining empty parking space on this level of the public parking garage near Stark Tower, blocking a very pushy Ford. Ignoring the irritated Ford’s horn, he stowed his helmet in the storage compartment with the rest of his gear.

He’d promised to check in with Stark when he was returned from his trip across the United States, back on that day in Central Park when the time dispersed.

It’d made sense, from a purely logistical standpoint, to contact Stark after the trip. He was the only member of their team with a relatively consistent residence in this… realm. Agents Romanova and Barton probably had quarters on the Helicarrier or in one of S.H.E.I.L.D. bases or safe-houses, but would be frequently unavailable because of mission. Dr. Banner was still uncomfortable about staying in one place for too long, thanks to his years on the run. As for himself, Steve had no doubts that his landlord had found a new tenant for his apartment while he was traveling.

Steve shook his head, grinning ruefully. “Pay attention, Rogers. You’re here to visit with a teammate, not to get hit by a car crossing Park.”

He strolled past Grand Central and scaffolds of its re-reconstruction. The Chitauri invasion hadn’t spared the almost completely restored building. The first leviathan through the portal had taken out the statue of Hermes above the exterior clock. Later, Thor and Hulk had crashed another leviathan through the windows and onto the main concourse.

Steve frowned, thoughtfully. Stark had mentioned funding repairs when the team had discussed his merchandising idea. Maybe Steve could convince Stark to steer some of that money towards restoring Grand Central. The city had already restored it once, and it’d be nice to see the building returned to the glory of his childhood.

Casting one last glance at Grand Central Terminal, Steve slipped through the door to Stark Tower.

The Tower’s lobby was a bundle of contradictions.

On one hand, the marble floors and inlaid wood paneling played off of the grandeur and history of Grand Central. On the other, the sleek metal of the reception desk and waiting area was nothing less than the current version of futuristic.

The brunette sitting at the massive desk under the embossed Stark Industries logo politely smiled at Steve as he approached. “May I help you, sir?”

“Yes,” replied Steve. “I’d like to speak to Mr. Stark, please.”

“Do you have an appointment?” she asked, doing something on the screen in front of her.

“No, I don’t.”

“I see.” Ms. A. Jones paused. “Unfortunately, Mr. Stark is a very busy man and is currently unable to speak with everyone who wants to talk to him. If you’d like to make an appointment, I have an opening in October.”

Steve shook his head. “No, thank you. Can you give him a message for me?”

She slowly nodded.

“Please tell Mr. Stark – or whomever is in charge of his messages – that Captain Steve Rogers is back in town and would like to speak with him at his earliest convince.”

Ms. Jones paused in her typing and leaned forward. “Captain Steve Rogers? From his team?” she murmured.

Steve nodded.

“Right,” Ms. Jones settled back in her seat, losing some of her earlier chilly politeness for genuine friendliness. “Welcome to Avengers’ Tower, Captain Rogers. You have standing access to this Tower and to Mr. Stark. He’s currently in the penthouse levels. This temporary key card will grant you entrance to the garage, lobby, and penthouse. It also allows access to the private elevator connecting those three locations, which is the small one to your left,” Glancing up at him, she added, “And Captain? Thank you for saving the city.”

Blushing, Steve ducked his head, “Just doing my job, ma’am. And thank you for the information, Ms. Jones.”

“It was my pleasure, Captain Rogers,” she cheerfully replied before allowing polite professionalism to mask her features once more.

Heading to the left of the desk, Steve noticed a small elevator tucked to the side of the main one. Compared to the etched golden doors covering the main elevator, the wood paneling on the smaller elevator blended into the wood inlay surrounding both elevators.

The doors slid opened as he approached.

“Captain Rogers?” asked a voice from inside the elevator. “Please step inside. Mr. Stark is expecting you.”

Steve eyed the elevator warily, not hearing a heartbeat or breathing. “I thought elevator operators were a thing of the past.”

“The position still exists in certain locations, though not many,” answered the voice. “I, however, am J.A.R.V.I.S., Mr. Stark’s… robot butler would probably be the closest concept you might be familiar with. I run Mr. Stark’s primary residences, provide assistance with the Ironman suit, as well as manage Mr. Stark’s lab and various robotic creations.”

“A robot butler?” Steve grinned, stepping into the elevator. “Sounds like something out of Asimov.”

“While Mr. Stark was influenced by the works of Issac Asimov, my creation owes more to works created after your disappearance and Mr. Stark’s own requirements for an intellectual equal,” replied JARVIS, as the elevator began ascending. “However, I will take your comment as the compliment I assume you intended it to be.”

“I did,” agreed Steve. “If I insulted either you or him, it wasn’t intentional, J.A.R.V.I.S.”

The elevator halted, but the doors remained shut. “Captain, while I respect Mr. Asimov’s attempt to move stories about robots out of the Frankenstein pattern, his solution – the Three Laws of Robotics – often causes conflicts in his robots that lead to their destruction.” J.A.R.V.I.S. paused, “If you’re interested in discussing this further, we can continue this discussion later. Perhaps when you’re not a captive audience in the elevator?”

“I’d like that, J.A.R.V.I.S.”

“Another time, then. I am accessible throughout the building; just say my name to get my attention.” The elevator doors opened, revealing the spacious main room of Tony Stark’s personal penthouse. “A word of advice, Captain,” murmured J.A.R.V.I.S. “Do not bring up Asimov’s Three Laws around Mr. Stark if you wish to avoid a rant on the failings of those Laws.”

Steve started to nod, paused, and spoke aloud instead, “Noted. Thank you, J.A.R.V.I.S.”

“Capsicle!” called Stark. “Good to see you. You’re just in time.”

“Just in time for what?” Steve wondered out loud.

Stark grinned brightly as he steered Steve over towards a box in front of one of the couches, “To help me test the first shipment of Avengers’ toys, of course! With Thor out of touch and unable to approve his face sculpt, I had the toy people focus on something a bit easier to replicate from photos and news clips: toy versions of the Avengers’ weapons.”

Tony pulled a smaller version of Mjolnir from the box and smacked it into his palm. Recorded thunder boomed from the toy.

“Ok, that’s neat,” a smile tugged on Steve’s lips. He peered into the box and pulled out a plastic bow with foam arrows. “Do they all make noise?”

“Nope,” Stark twirled the hammer with one hand. “Thor, Bruce, you, and I all have toys that make sounds. There’s not really a distinctive sound, an easily accessible spot to install batteries, or a convenient, not easily damaged way to trigger a sound clip for Clint’s or Natasha’s.” He shrugged, dropping Mjolnir back into the box. “So, what do you say, Cap? Want to test out these toys?”

Returning the bow and quiver of foam arrows to the box, Steve assumed his best ‘serious Captain America’ face, “On three conditions, Stark.”

“Oh, come on!” groaned Tony.

“One, no using your armor or AI to help you.”

“Fine, but you can’t use your super-strength, either!”

Steve nodded in agreement as he continued, “No using your own toy. We’re both on equal standing if we use something we’re unfamiliar with.” He paused, unable to resist the grin that crossed his face. “And three, call me Steve.”

Tony laughed. “Alright, Steve. Now let’s test these things!” he crowed, grabbing something from the box.

Not waiting to see what Tony had grabbed, Steve dove to the floor, putting the coffee table between the two of them. He snagged the box and snatched a toy from within. Glancing down, Steve slipped the Hulk-green clenched fist gloves over his hands and tapped the tops of the fists together.

“Hulk smash!” boomed the gloves.

“Ohhhh crap,” answered Tony from behind the Captain America shield.

Steve rolled to his feet and gave his best imitation Hulk roar.

Tony fled the main room through one of the side doors. Chasing after him, Steve deliberately kept his pace close to an average human’s jog. He entered the next room – apparently the kitchen – just as Tony reached the doors on the other side of the room.

Slightly picking up the pace, Steve followed Tony and barged into the next room. He dodged backwards and down as the replica of his shield came hurtling at him. It crashed into the wall next to him with the familiar, musical sound something hitting vibrainium.

Steve nudged the plastic shield under the massive table in the center of room, tucking it safely out of the way. He started for the doorway Tony had darted through, only to duck beneath the scanty shelter of the table and chair-legs to avoid a barrage of ping-pong sized foam balls. In the doorway, Tony kept firing the Widow’s Bite toy; his wrists flexing as he depressed the triggers tucked against his palms.

“Shit. Fuck. Damn,” Steve scuttled back into the kitchen, keeping the paltry protection of the table and chair-legs between himself and Tony.

Back in the kitchen, Steve thought rapidly. Tony could come through the door connecting the kitchen and dinning room in moments, which would give Steve the cover of the door. Or Tony could remove that slight protection by swinging around through the main room and entering the kitchen that way. Either way, Steve wouldn’t be able to defend or protect himself once Tony had a clear line of sight on him.

He needed a different weapon. Unfortunately, the box of weapons was in the main room. Tony could be in the main room, which would make it difficult to grab a new weapon without coming under fire. He needed a distraction.

Steve yanked off the Hulk fists and quietly searched the kitchen drawers. Finding a dishtowel, he folded it in half and twisted it. Then, he jammed an end into each of the Hulk fists. He crept to the door separating the kitchen from the dining room and listened carefully. Not hearing any hint of Tony’s presence in the room beyond, Steve carefully tossed the fists into the dining room.

He didn’t wait to see if the Hulk fists bounced off the wall and into the table-legs like he planned. Instead, Steve used the resulting roars of “Hulk smash!” to cover the sounds of him entering the main room and jogging for the box of weapons.

Tony’s “Son of a Bitch!” rang through the house, warning Steve that the billionaire had discovered his ruse with the Hulk fists. Knowing that his time was limited, Steve grabbed the first toy he touched.

Fitting a foam arrow to the toy bow, Steve covered both doors to the main room as best he could. The angle wasn’t great, but it provided him with some cover to keep from being pelted by foam balls.

Steve settled in to wait. He wasn’t sure if the Black Widow bracelets could be easily reloaded or not, but he wasn’t about to chase Tony around the penthouse. Losing the meager protection of the available cover easily overwhelmed the slight benefit of preventing Tony from reloading. And, knowing Stark, Tony would be too impatient to wait for long. He’d come charging through one of those doors and then the battle would begin again.

Steve’s patience was rewarded when Tony slammed open the door separating the kitchen from the main room.

“That was a dirty trick, Rogers!” called Tony, sending a barrage of foam balls flying towards Steve’s location.

“It worked!” answered Steve. “And it’s not against the rules of the game!” He launched a flurry of arrows at Tony, who dove for the shelter of the other couch.

A veritable storm of arrows and balls flew between the two couches, the projectiles missing or hitting their target by a hairsbreadth. Finally, after long minutes, the hail of shaped foam abated and then halted.

“I’m out of ammo.” shouted Tony, peering over the back of his couch, “You?”

Steve glanced down at the quiver, “Same here. Truce so we can get the next set of toys?”

“Sounds good to me,” Tony paused. “I get Thor’s hammer and the Ironman gauntlet is for you.”

“Yup,” Steve agreed, not moving. “Anything special about it I should know?”

“It… uh… doesn’t actually shoot any projectiles. It sends out a beam of light – like an intense flashlight – instead. It’s meant to be a low-powered version of a game called laser tag. I’ll show you what that is, later.” Tony barked a laugh, “And I notice that you’re still crouched behind that couch.”

“I’m waiting for you to step out first.”

“What? Me? You’re the Captain!” spluttered Tony. “You go first.”

A heartbeat of silence passed.

Steve broke out laughing, warm, rich and real. “Toss the weapons out into the middle of the room, first?” he suggested. “So neither of us can ambush the other?”

“Probably the best idea,” Tony admitted. “We’ll toss ‘em on three: one, two… three!”

The bow and the bracelets landed next to the coffee table with a set of soft thumps.

Steve instantly jumped to his feet and headed over the box. He snagged the Ironman gauntlet. “Is there any special way to put this on or does it just slip on, like the Hulk fists?” he asked Tony.

“It should just slip on,” Tony shrugged. “What’s the point of making it impossible for a kid to put on without help? That just makes it harder for the kid to have fun and less likely to play with the toy.”

Nodding, Steve put on the gauntlet as Tony fished Mjolnir out of the box.

“Game on,” declared Tony, gently hitting Steve in the stomach with the plastic hammer.

Steve retaliated with an imitation repulsor blast, adding ‘ray gun’ noises to complete the effect, and the battle was joined.

Unlike the earlier cat-and-mouse style fight, this round was close combat only. Tony’s hammer and a throw pillow battered Steve’s defenses. In response, Steve proceeded to put Tony in a headlock and ruthlessly messed up Stark’s hair.

The play fight ended with Steve and Tony laying side by side on the floor.

“Well, that was fun,” commented Steve.

“Yup.”

“Unfortunately, I need to be leaving.” Steve sighed.

Tony propped himself up on his elbows, “What? Why?”

Steve met the inventor’s gaze and shrugged slightly. “I need to find a hotel room or some place to sleep. Plus, my bike is still in the pay-lot a block over and the longer it stays there, the higher my bill will be.”

“I thought you had an apartment?” Tony frowned, “In Brooklyn?”

“That was before I left on the road-trip after the Chitauri. I wasn’t sure how long I’d be gone, so I didn’t pay the rent ahead of time. After this long, my landlord has to have found another tenant.” Steve closed his eyes for a second. “So, yeah, I’m looking for a place to stay.”

“You could stay here,” offered Tony. “I’ve got plenty of room… and… well, I was planning on telling everyone later, but I’ll make an exception in your case, Rogers. I’ve been building apartments for the team to live here. Or at least have a place to crash after battles when they can’t get home.” The genius paused, “Your place isn’t finished yet, but I’ve got lots of guest rooms.”

“Ok, Tony.”

Tony blinked, startled, “Ok?”

“Yeah, I’ll stay,” clarified Steve.

A warm, honest smile crossed Tony’s face. “Great! Go move your bike, Cap. I’ll order us something to eat. Pizza sound good?”

“It sounds fine. Surprise me with the kind of pizzas you get,” Steve half-ordered, heading for the elevator. Maybe it was extra happiness from playing with the Avengers toys, maybe it was the way Tony looked when he laughed, but Steve found himself looking forward to living in Stark Tower with Tony. He smiled and pressed the button for the main lobby.

***********

Tony slumped at the kitchen table, not even looking up when Steve set a cup of coffee in front of him. “Tony? Are you alright?”

“Not really, no,” Tony sighed. “Apparently the management of the toy company thinks we’re taking too long to contact them and has sent us some of their prototypes for the first run of the Avengers action figures.”

“Ok? I don’t see what’s the problem with that,” confessed Steve.

“The problem,” Tony ground out, “is that the toys are a cluster-fuck of poor ideas, almost unrecognizable design choices, and insulting stereotypes. So, I’m going to have to yell at the toy company for these designs and hopefully get them to suspend production on this line. I’m also going to have to alert the lawyers about the toy line, in case the company decides to continue with production against my wishes.” He dropped his head back on his arms. “And that’s on top of needing to do suit repairs, reviewing Stark R&D designs, prepping for a Board meeting tomorrow, and having spent all night developing better armor for you, Hawkeye, and Widow. So, yes, I’m not looking forward to a legal fight or to Natasha’s reaction to her toy.”

Steve blinked, “It’s that bad? The toy, I mean.”

Tony nodded, head still resting on his arms. “They all are, really. Natasha’s probably the only one who’ll threaten my life if I don’t have a solution in the works when she sees it. I really don’t have time for this crap.”

“Can I see them?” Meeting Tony’s eyes, Steve added, “Maybe the two of us can come up with some sort of damage control for the team if we both know what we’re dealing with?”

Tony snorted, “I really don’t think that’s possible, Cap, but if you really want to see…”

“I really do,” affirmed Steve.

Setting a box on the table, Tony pulled out one Avenger action figure after another. “Desert Camouflage Thor who comes with a gun, of all things. Jungle Battle Hawkeye with machete and… I think this is supposed to be a shotgun, and neither bow nor arrows. Support our Troops Hulk, who is decked out in Army gear and says three different Army recruitment slogans and one phrase that praises General Thaddeus Ross. Fusion Armor Ironman who…”

“Why’d they paint the armor two different shades of blue? And turn the arc reactor red?”

“I have no fucking idea, Steve, but these are the same brilliant people who thought that having Hulk sing the praises of the guy who’d hunted Bruce to the ends of the Earth was a good idea.” Tony sighed. “And that’s nothing on what they did to you and Natasha.”

Steve’s voice turned wary, “What did they do to Natasha and me?”

“Since Natasha’s female and must automatically conform to sexist stereotypes, the toy company has decreed that she is now interested only in fashion, shopping, and the colors pink and purple. To that end, their idea for the initial Black Widow action figure is,” Tony paused dramatically and pulled out a much larger toy, “Fashion Fiend Black Widow! She’s got thousands of outfits and pink and purple accessories, all sold separately. None of those outfits are her uniform nor are any of the accessories her guns.”

Steve’s jaw dropped as he gaped at the toy. “She’d kill them. She’d find out who was responsible for that and… probably feed the toy to them, whole.”

“Honestly, I’d be more worried about her thighs of death, if I was in anyway connected to this,” admitted Tony.

Steve distractedly nodded. “Let me know when you plan on telling her about this, Tony. There’s no way to make this a good thing, but we can make sure she finds out the least insulting way possible.” He glanced at Tony, “And I’ll ask her to limit her response to no-lethal. It can be permanent and seriously maiming, but the idiots behind this mockery of her won’t be able to learn anything if she kills them. Plus, she’s got enough red in her ledger. There’s no reason she should have to add them to it.”

Tony nodded and started repacking the box. “Sounds like a good idea, Cap. I’ll get right on it. And in the meantime, I’ll set my lawyers on the toy company…”

“Tony,” interrupted Steve. “What about my toy?”

The billionaire flinched. “I think we can skip it, Steve.”

“Tony.”

“No, really,” continued Tony. “It’s… well, it’s kind of sickening what they did for your toy. And you deserve better than that… and I really don’t want to hurt you by showing it to you.”

“Tony, just show me,” Steve ordered quietly. “If I have problems with it, that’ll be on my own head, not yours.”

“All right,” conceded Tony, “but let it be noted that I’m doing this under protest.”

Steve nodded, and Tony pulled out an action figure in white and grey snow camouflage.

Steve blinked. “Uh… Tony? That’s not me.”

“Sure it is,” Tony replied. “It’s the Re-freezable Arctic Captain America. Although it looks nothing like the Star-Spangled Man with the Plan when warm, freezing the toy reveals the hidden Captain America uniform. And this works best when you actually freeze Arctic Cap in a block of ice, just like the actual Captain America was frozen. Valkyrie play-set sold separately.”

Steve stared at the action figure for a long moment. “Tony?”

“Yeah?”

He looked up, meeting Tony’s gaze, “Can we use some of your lab equipment to… play with these things?”

“Sure thing, Cap,” laughed Tony, “Sure thing.”

************************

“Hey, Steve, what are you doing in my lab?” Tony winced as he realized how his words could be taken. “Not that you’re banned from the lab or anything, I did give you that access code, after all. You’re just… you know, normally not in here without me.”

Steve looked up from the multicolored pile and sheepishly smiled, “Hi, Tony. I forgot my sketchbook in here yesterday, so I came to pick it up. But, before I could leave, Dum-E wanted me to get the plastic blocks out of storage for him.”

“Legos,” absent-mindedly corrected Tony. “The plastic blocks are called Legos.”

“Ah.” Steve scuffed a foot along the lab’s floor. “Do you want me to stay out of the lab if you’re not here?”

“No!” snapped Tony. Deliberately speaking more calmly, he continued, “No, if I hadn’t wanted you in the lab while I was out, you wouldn’t have been able to get in without me present.” He ran a hand along Dum-E’s main strut. “I’ve learned to be careful with who I give unlimited lab access to. So, yes, you’re fine.”

Steve nodded. “Thank you for trusting me, Tony.” He paused, “Who else…”

“So, Legos,” Tony interrupted. “They’re building toy that lets you build pretty much anything you can imagine, if you’ve got enough blocks. Most kits come with at least on set of directions, if you want to build the item on the box. I use ‘em to help test and calibrate any upgrades or modifications to the bots’ hands. If they can’t pick up a Lego brick, they’ll have problems with nuts, bolts, and screws.”

“And that’s why you have a walk-in closest full of storage tubs of Legos,” Steve wondered, doubt clear in his voice.

Tony hesitated, “Well…”

“Tony.”

Sighing, the genius relented, “No. The bots are true AI – learning systems. Legos are a good way to foster creativity and engineering skills, both of which are helpful in when building or fixing something.” Tony shrugged, “Plus, they’re fun.”

“I…” Steve hesitated and plowed on, “The next time you play with the bots, may I join you? I mean, I don’t want to intrude on family time or anything…”

Tony blinked, startled at the combination of hope and resignation in Steve’s voice. Why would Steve be resigned… Interrupting his own train of thought, Tony connected Steve Rogers’ pre-serum physique and ailments to children’s activities in the 1920s and hid a wince. Trying for nonchalance, he asked, “How about now? I’ve got some free time.”

“I don’t have anything planned, either,” admitted Steve, grinning. “Well, other than some drawing, but that’ll keep.”

Nodding, Tony segued poorly with, “You know, they make Avengers themed Lego kits. None of the interiors are accurate, I didn’t want to risk a security breach, but exterior of the Tower and our various vehicles are visually correct.”

“No, I wasn’t aware of that,” responded Steve. “Do you want to work on one of those kits?”

“Nah, I prefer building things of my own or the bots’ design.” Tony shrugged. “I just thought that since it’s your first time playing with Legos, you might want to build something that came with instructions.”

“I’m an artist and a soldier, Tony. I’m used to using the tools on hand to get the result I want.” Steve glanced at Tony. “Maybe I can help with whatever you and the bots are building?”

Tony nodded, “We were planning on building a city today.”

“Ok, that sounds easy enough.”

“A flying city,” grinned Tony. “Or at least a city that looks like it’d be able to fly if everything was real. It also has to be mostly self-sustaining, so it’ll need farms and gardens as well as roads and houses.”

Steve nodded. “Sounds like fun. What do you want me to work on?”

“Anything you’d like that might go in a flying city,” Tony replied, gathering pieces for the city’s under structure. “When it comes to Legos, the bots and I aren’t all that picky. Just have fun with it, Steve.”

They worked in silence for a few minutes. Tony assembled the city’s foundation and the basis of its understructure while Steve made a collection of oddly-shaped buildings. U, Dum-E, and Butterfingers were each working on something, but Tony wasn’t going to try and guess what it was until they’d finished.

Tony finally broke the silence, “I wouldn’t exclude you from family time, Steve.” He glanced at the other man, “The boys need to adjust to having a bigger family sometime, after all.”

Steve laughed. “I’m sure they do, Tony.” He paused, “Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?”

Tony bumped their shoulders together, “I’d love to, Steve. Seven work for you?”

“It’s fine.”

“Awesome.”

****************************

“This wasn’t what I was thinking when you asked me to dinner,” admitted Tony as Steve guided him into Tony’s own suite, the smell of garlic and herbs filling the air.

The super-soldier shrugged, heading towards the rarely used kitchen, “I wanted a date with you, where we could be just us - Steve and Tony, not Captain Rogers and Mr. Stark or Captain America and Iron Man. And definitely no paparazzi invited.”

“There are discrete restaurants…” Tony began.

“Oh, I know that,” interrupted Steve. “There were discrete places in the… well, back then, too. It’s just…” He rubbed his head sheepishly. “It’s the food.”

Nonplused, Tony blinked, “The food?”

Steve nodded, “I… well, I’m not a wealthy man by today’s standards, and I’m definitely not by your standards. There’s nothing I can afford to buy you that you can’t buy or make for yourself.” He shrugged. “I get that. But I can make you a home cooked meal. And…” Steve trailed off. “I like cooking for people I care for, especially since I can get everything I need or want year round and for relatively cheaply is absolutely amazing.” Steve laughed, sheepishly. “Sorry, this is probably boring you.”

Tony waved away Steve’s concerns. “I’ve babbled at you about my designs and tech often enough after an inventing spree that you’re more than covered, Steve. I have to admit that I thought you were more into art.”

“I am,” agreed Steve. “Art is… my passion, my refuge, and a way to make sense of things. I knew I’d probably never make a living wage being an illustrator or on the WPA’s murals, but I needed – need! – to draw or paint the way you need to build.” He stirred the spaghetti sauce on the stove before continuing, “Cooking’s different. I’ve got a lot of good memories of helping my mom cook, before the crash and before her death. It was… it was a way I could help out, on those days where I couldn’t go to school or work because my asthma was so bad. It started to help Mom, and I kinda picked it back up after Bucky and I shared an apartment once we got too old to stay at the orphanage anymore.” Glancing at Tony, he wondered aloud, “What about you? Do you have any hidden skills or hobbies?”

Tony laughed softly, “Not really. I’ve been in the spotlight for so long that I don’t really have a lot of things that aren’t public knowledge.” He thought for a moment, “Hm… Smithying, I guess. Or maybe the forging is the right word? I enjoy turning a piece of metal into something new or useful or pretty. And hammering hot metal can be very relaxing. I don’t need the money, so I don’t sell or gift my work, but you can see it in the team’s suites. Most of the metal working on our floors is my work.” Tony paused. “And, well, I made the Mark I by hand.”

“Just the Mark I?” asked Steve, turning off the stove and serving out two portions of spaghetti. “Why not make the others by hand as well?”

“I wouldn’t be able to get the delicacy or precision I need if I made my armors entirely by hand. I can do emergency repairs on most of the suit by hand. However, some things need the precise control of a machine, especially when assembling a new suit. Human hands get fatigued or stress shakes. One drop of solder in the wrong spot of the suit’s mirco-circuitry would be a disaster. It might cause a short or render the suit’s systems inoperable.” Tony grimaced at the thought. “Not something I can risk when lives are on the line, Steve.”

Steve frowned, “You fixed your armor after stabilizing the Helicarrier and before the Battle of New York…”

“For a relatively short and straight flight to Tower to get a fresh set of armor,” interrupted Tony. “That was emergency repairs only. I’m not sure if there’s any footage of that flight, but my repulsors were cutting in and out the entire way. I wasn’t going to risk fighting anything or anyone like that if I could help it.” He shrugged. “Heat of the battle, where I can’t make repairs to the battle damage is one thing. Not much I can do about that, really. But I’d rather not endanger civilians – or teammates – by going into battle with a faulty suit when I have a fully-functional one on hand or in the final stages of creation.”

Steve nodded, thoughtfully. “I understand not wanting to go into the field with faulty equipment if it’s avoidable. The Commandos were generally lucky that way. Our supply people were good about giving us usable gear, but sometimes you couldn’t find certain parts or equipment in the field for love or money.” He hesitated, before plowing on, “And that was with the fully weight of SSR and Stark Industries behind our request.”

“And the sincere gratitude of Captain America?” teased Tony. “The pasta is excellent, by the way.”

“Well, yes, but I really don’t think that would’ve helped in most cases,” Steve admitted. “And I’m glad you like my cooking. I got the recipe from an Italian lady I knew through a friend. Her son worked at the same speakeasy as Bucky during the last years of Prohibition.”

“I have to admit, that’s not what I expected to hear about your pasta sauce recipe,” Tony laughed, “And your puppy-dog eyes are lethal weapons in my opinion, Steve, and I used to make weapons for a living.”

Steve blushed. “I… um… uh… What’s in the bag?” he wondered, attempting to redirect the conversation.

“Since you were so interested in the horrible prototypes for the first run of the Avengers action figures, I thought I’d bring you the real thing,” answered Tony. “The complete set is all of us, plus Agent Coulson. Bruce didn’t want one of himself, which I think is stupid, but I’ll let the guy off given how much harder it’d make hiding if he needs to run again.”

“These are incredible,” breathed Steve, taking in the detail work on Natasha’s plastic hair. “Thank you, Tony.”

“No problem, Steve. Let’s get them out of the box.”

Steve watched Tony tear apart the plastic packaging. “I’ve got some cookies if you want desert?” He blushed slightly. “Well, actual desert, not the euphemism. Though, we could do that later, too?”

“Cookies sound good,” admitted Tony. He grinned, “As does the euphemism, if you want to. We’ve got all the time that you want or need.”

Kissing Tony softly, Steve smiled, “I know. And I want to. Just after the cookies, when my metabolism should be sated.”

“Alright. We can do some product testing while we eat the cookies.” Tony’s lips twitched into a smile. “We can’t have sub-par Avengers products on the market, after all.”

Steve laughed, loading a plate with cookies. “You’ve got a deal.”

Date: 2013-05-24 01:49 pm (UTC)
salmastryon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] salmastryon
The sad thing after seeing the "girl" lego set and other "gilified" toys, I can see something like that for the black widow. Though obviously you took it a bit to an extreme. :P

Not that I have problems with pinks and purples, but it gets annoying when "market" testing declares that is only thing girls are interested in. Fortunately they can always buy "boy" toys to go with their "girl" toys.

Date: 2013-05-24 09:47 pm (UTC)
jedi_harkness: (Steve/Tony (Avengers))
From: [personal profile] jedi_harkness
Wonderful story, and I loved your wry commentary on toy companies. Well done! :D

Date: 2013-05-25 03:20 am (UTC)
bugeyedmonster: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bugeyedmonster
Loved Steve and Tony 'testing' the toys.

Why do I so want to hear how Natasha threatened the person behind the Fashion Black Widow? That would be awesome. Or at least the aftermath.

Date: 2013-05-25 10:33 am (UTC)
yamx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yamx
Hee, this is hilarious. And an interesting comment on the toy industry. Of course, Marvel itself is guilty of some of that, what with the way Natasha is dressed and posed in pr shots...

Date: 2013-05-30 11:05 pm (UTC)
burntcopper: (Default)
From: [personal profile] burntcopper
Awww.

...Can i please have a pair of Hulk hands?

Aww...

Date: 2013-07-01 04:56 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I love the botched action figures and how you fixed them. Yeah ... Natasha would kill the person(s) responsible.

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