Part three of Halloween AU.
Somehow, for all that his mother warned him, Steve is not prepared to face one of the fae.
She’s beautiful, in that eerie, perfect way that all fae are beautiful. She’s got pale skin, red hair, green eyes. Her ears are round like a human’s but that only means that she’s very old and skilled at glamours. She’s got freckles. Steve doesn’t know why he’s surprised that she has freckles. It seems almost too human like they would be seen as blemishes among the fair folk. She’s tall, too, willowy, almost. Steve’s certain that if it hadn’t been for her glamour, she would have brushed the ceiling.
“I’m looking for Steve Rogers,” she tells Kamala simply, and Steve sees the teen’s mouth moving in a silent prayer as she turns from the register, eyes round with fear. He doesn’t know what Muslims believe about the fae, but he’s certain what they believe probably doesn’t matter when they’re finally faced with one. His mother had whispered fears and cautions about the fair folk in his ear ever since he could remember, and he hadn’t been prepared. He doesn’t want to go out and speak to this fae.
But when a fae asks for you by name, you answer.
The fae looks him up and down, and Steve can’t help but straighten his shoulders and puff out his chest defiantly. He is what he is. He’s used to being found lacking. He owns it. The fae’s eyes meet his finally, and he wavers for a moment when the glamour hazes, like there’s suddenly a wall of heat between them, and he sees skin white as snow, eyes completely awash in green, hair like burning fire. But he keeps meeting her eyes, because he’s not a coward.
The haze fades immediately, and Steve almost stumbles when he realizes the fae is smiling at him. It transforms her face entirely from the blank, judging mask it had been. Her eyes crinkle at the corners and she has laugh lines and dimples. She’s very pretty.
She tells him the name she is called here is Pepper.
“Jim told me that Tony came here, after he was attacked” she says over a cup of coffee after the diner is closed, as Bucky putters around locking up and wiping tables and mopping. Steve’s fingers tighten around his mug. “Yes. I found him in the supply closet.” “He must have sensed that Jim had been here,” Pepper muses. “Jim has been his safe place ever since they met.” Steve wants to ask when that was, and how that happened, because he can’t imagine people taking a grown man, let alone a vampire, befriending a child very well. “You must have been safe, too,” she adds thoughtfully, and Steve sits up a little straighter. “For him to come here directly after he was attacked.” “He asked for a cup of milk,” Steve explains, feeling a little stupid as soon as he says it and this beautiful fae stares at him. She purses her lips, trying not to smile, and mostly fails. “Tony despises milk almost as much as he despises blood.”
That’s an eye-opener, Steve thinks, looking down into his coffee. A vampire that despises blood. No wonder he was always hungry. No wonder he looked so scared after having someone force their blood upon him. “Tony’s very old,” Steve offers after a moment, searching, seeking, but Pepper doesn’t answer. She looks amused. Fae folk usually were when humans tried to trick or outsmart them, though. “That’s—quite a long time to despise blood, when you need it to survive.” Pepper shrugs one delicate shoulder. “Tony’s a bit strange,” she says, as if that isn’t the biggest understatement of the century.
Steve sends her off with an entire cherry pie that had been leftover that night, feeling a little stupid. She’s fae. She probably had much better things to eat, things humans didn’t dare for fear of being stolen into their world of trickery and deceit. He refuses payment when she opens her purse. Pepper looks entirely too amused. “It’s not considered a deal when I’m paying for merchandise, Steve Rogers.” “I was raised Irish Catholic,” bursts out of Steve’s mouth before he thinks better of it.
Pepper stares at him, mouth opened in a surprised ‘o’ before she throws her head back and laughs. On top it sounds like bells ringing in its beauty; underneath, the fae part he knows is there sounds like broken glass being ground together. “I have always been absolutely delighted by the Irish,” she says when she can speak without giggling. “Catholic, Protestant, it’s never mattered. You’re all the same at your core.” “Please don’t ever say that to the devout Irish people,” Steve tells her. She laughs again and leaves carrying her pie. “Do you think she took me seriously?” Steve asks into Bucky’s chest later. “I think if she ever talked to an Irish nun, they would immediately break their vows and commandments to punch her in the face,” Bucky replies sleepily.
The next day, Steve gets no orders except for three meals for the first two hours of opening. It’s very strange. He peeks into the dining room.
Tony, Pepper, and Colonel Rhodes are sitting at a booth, talking, laughing. The sight of a fae at ease fills Steve with a terror he does not completely understand. Still, he manages to snag Bucky’s attention from where he’s wiping down the counter. Bucky tilts his head the way he does when he’s listening but doesn’t want to take his eyes off what he’s watching. “What the actual fuck,” Steve whispers as quietly as he can. Bucky shrugs. “You useless animal I don’t know what I see in you. You’re the worst. The worst. I can’t believe I put my dick in you. I can’t believe I let you put your dick in me.” Tony spews his Coke all over Colonel Rhodes.
Steve belatedly remembers that Tony has excellent hearing. Steve slinks back into the kitchen and doesn’t come out until after the trio has left. “Can I keep this?” Bucky asks of the crisp one hundred dollar bill he holds up. Steve snatches it out of his hand because he blames Bucky for everything wrong in his life.
Steve screams when he steps out of the diner to find Tony there. Oh God. What if he thinks Steve is secretly a racist? What if Tony’s a homophobe? Steve will fight but now that he knows that Tony has a fae backing him up he’s a little worried about how she could make him suffer if he hurt Tony.
Tony looks… hurt. “I thought you weren’t scared of me,” he whispers, as if he’s crushed to find out the opposite is true. “He’s not,” Bucky replies, slinging an arm around Steve’s shoulders. “He’s scared of your girlfriend.” “I don’t have a girlfriend,” Tony says in confusion. “Or—does that mean something different now? Language keeps changing. I guess Pepper is my platonic girlfriend then. Does that make Rhodey my boyfriend?” Bucky makes a wheezing noise like he wants to laugh but even he finds it inappropriate. “The word hasn’t changed,” Steve explains quickly. “Oh. Then Pepper isn’t my girlfriend. I’m actually kind of terrified contemplating Pepper dating or having sex because the fae are so creepy.” “Thank you,” Steve exclaims. Tony frowns at him in confusion. “…You’re welcome.”
Eventually, after staring at each other for a while, Steve asks, “So did you need something?” “Rhodey says I should get your contact information,” Tony answers after some thought. “In case I need help while he’s deployed.” “Oh,” they say, touched, and Bucky begins, ”That’s so—” “He says if you let anything happen to me he’ll drop everything to come back to the states and murder you.” Tony smiles guilelessly when they stare at him. “He wouldn’t do that though. He just talks a big show.” Steve and Bucky smile weakly as they take Tony’s phone and put their numbers in. This precious lamb actually believes that his friend wouldn’t murder them.
“Did they ever catch the guy who assaulted you?” Bucky asks as Tony takes his phone back and squints at the screen, tongue poking out adorably. Tony looks up at him, frowning, then looks back at his phone. “Pepper only stopped by that first time because she was going to follow the trail from your supply closet to find my attacker. I don’t know what happened to the lady that attacked me but I assume that Pepper made sure it was terrible.” “…If she only stopped by that first time to follow the trail, why did she come back?” Steve asks after a moment.
Tony lifts his gaze to stare at him in contempt. “She liked your pie, Steve.”