Pairings/Characters: Steve/Tony, Natasha/Pepper, Clint/Phil, Thor Odinson, Bruce Banner
Continuity: The Avengers (2012)
Genres: Angst, Drama, Hurt/Comfort, Slice-Of-Life
Summary: The Peanuts Gang (and the Avengers) help cheer Steve up on Halloween.
Date Of Completion: November 8, 2016
Date Of Posting: December 9, 2016
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Marvel and Paramount do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1485
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Yep, it’s a Halloween-themed story! Blame my lack of time for final editing, but since I enjoy celebrating Halloween at any time of year, here you go! In the middle of Winter Holiday schmoop, have some Halloween schmoop! Enjoy! ;)
The entire series can be found here.
Waitin' for a big ol’ batch
For good girls
Is what Halloween
Is all about,
Linus’ Halloween Carol
Steve sipped his Coke as he stared out at the Manhattan skyline. It was evening, and the city’s lights twinkled, mirroring the stars. It was a beautiful and placid scene, soothing raw edges that Steve was resigned to living with permanently.
He had thought of drinking Tony’s excellent booze but had decided against it. Better to keep a clear head, even though alcohol did not affect him. He had learned that after Bucky’s death.
It was late. Either the Avengers were asleep or out. Despite his very comfortable bed (or Tony’s, depending on where he chose to retire), he had been unable to fall asleep. Tony was at a Stark Industries function and would probably be home soon.
He let his mind drift. He was tired from cramming American history all day. History had always been his favorite subject, but it was a little different reading about the Pilgrims arriving at Plymouth Rock or the Union Army’s March through Georgia instead of events he should have experienced rather than sleeping for nearly seven decades.
He took another swig of Coke. At least some things were like he remembered, though it was a can, not a bottle, but it tasted the same.
The living room was decorated for Halloween: Jack O’Lanterns and a glittering black ceramic Witch mounted on the wall. It had belonged to Tony’s mother, and he dutifully put it out every year.
What do I need Halloween for? I’m already haunted. Steve almost laughed. Tony would approve.
He supposed that brooding was a waste of time, but he didn’t care. He wanted to just sit there and enjoy some peace and quiet.
“Why are you sitting here in the dark?”
Tony’s voice broke the stillness. Steve sighed. So much for peace and quiet.
“Just enjoying the view.”
Tony untied his bow tie as he walked over to the chair. “What a snoozefest,” he complained. “It should at least been a Halloween party.” He looked down disdainfully at his tuxedo.
“It’s your company. Why didn’t you ask to make it a costume party?”
“I told my assistant that’s what I wanted. She’s no Pepper.”
“Is Pepper still in Montreal?”
“Oui.” Tony rubbed Steve’s shoulder. “Hey, have you seen It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown?”
“You showed it to me last year.”
“Well, it’s a tradition to watch it every year. Let me get out of this monkey suit and we’ll watch.” Tony hesitated. “Okay?”
Steve smiled fondly. “Okay.”
Tony smiled back and went off to change. Steve watched him go. He could have turned Tony down, but maybe he had brooded enough for one night.
Fifteen minutes later noises came from the kitchen. When Steve heard the distinctive beep of the microwave and smelled fresh popcorn, he smiled and moved to the couch. He turned on a lamp on a table at the end of the couch.
Tony walked in jauntily with a huge bowl of popcorn, two cans of Coke, and several napkins. He set everything down on the coffee table. With a flick of the switch on the wall, all the Jack O’Lanterns lit up.
“Now, off with the lamp.” Tony shut off the light.
The eerie glow of the Jack O’Lanterns was fitting for the night. Tony switched on the TV via remote and said, “JARVIS, cue The Great Pumpkin.”
The distinctive jazz sound of the Peanuts theme played as Lucy and Linus went to the pumpkin patch. Steve’s fingers brushed Tony’s as he took a handful of warm, buttery popcorn, washing it down with icy-cold Coke. It was tough going, but Linus managed to get the giant pumpkin Lucy had picked out around the fence and up the stairs to their house. Once on newspapers, the pumpkin was ready and Lucy sliced the top off and began removing the pulp.
“Oh!” Linus moaned. “You didn’t tell me you were gonna kill it!”
As the opening credits rolled, Steve saw a shadow in the hallway. It paused, then moved down the hall. He indicated to Tony that he would be right back. He used the bathroom, dawdling for about five minutes. When he emerged from the bathroom he heard sounds in the kitchen. Smiling slightly, Steve returned to the couch and Tony said, “JARVIS, continue.”
Natasha emerged from the kitchen with a bowl of popcorn and can of Coke. She sat down cross-legged in the overstuffed chair at the end of the couch, and Tony quietly said, “JARVIS, from the beginning.” Steve saw the small smile on Natasha’s face.
Last year all the Avengers had watched the show, commenting on the action. It had been a great introduction to an important piece of postwar American culture.
“I love that opening bit,” Clint said. He was sitting next to Phil, who was unwrapping a Reese’s peanut butter cup snatched from a big bowl of candy on the coffee table. They were sitting on the couch in Tony’s living room, with Thor on the other side and Steve next to him. Natasha sat on the floor in front of the overstuffed chair with Pepper as the occupant. Tony entered the living room as Bruce took the chair at the other end of the couch.
“Educating Steve, huh?” Tony clapped a hand on Steve’s shoulder as he sat on the couch arm.
“He needs plenty of education,” Clint snorted.
“Try sleeping for nearly seventy years and see how sharp you are,” Phil said.
“A gallant riposte, Agent Coulson,” Pepper said with a flourish in her voice.
“Thank you, Ms. Potts.”
“Oh, brother,” Clint said. “Listen to the Mutual Admiration Society. ‘Agent Coulson.’ ‘Ms. Potts.’”
Natasha shook her head. “Behave, Clint.”
“So this is a Halloween tradition?” Thor asked.
“Yes, and then trick-or-treating!” Pepper said.
“Bucky and I used to trick-or-treat,” Steve said.
“Didn’t realize ancient times observed the custom,” Clint quipped.
“Listen, we had newfangled things like telephones and horseless carriages, you know,” Steve said.
Tony squeezed his lover’s shoulder in appreciation of Steve’s retort.
“The custom really took off in postwar America,” Bruce commented. “The Baby Boomers were being raised in suburbia, perfect for going house-to-house.”
“Ah.” Thor relaxed. “There were such customs in Europe of giving out food and drink to keep evil spirits away.”
“What I find interesting is that kids today watching this show must be baffled by the kids going around the neighborhood by themselves.” Pepper carded her fingers through Natasha’s red hair.
“I know!” Phil exclaimed. “Baby Boomers roamed their neighborhoods without parental supervision all the time. In the summer, you’d leave the house after breakfast and be back in time for supper. Otherwise you were free as a bird.”
“It was like that in the city when I grew up,” Steve said.
“It was always like that until the 21st century,” Clint said. “Now kids has playdates and their free time is filled with organized sports and classes. No pick-up sandlot games, that’s for sure.”
“Has America become so dangerous?” Steve asked sadly.
“Some people think so,” Pepper replied. “Kids fell prey to bad people, but that’s always been the case.”
“I’m all for child safety,” Bruce mused, “But have we replaced childhood freedom with fear?”
“Maybe it’s just a simple as getting a rock,” Clint said as on-screen, Charlie Brown lamented getting one in his trick-or-treat bag.
Snoopy climbed aboard his doghouse and was off fighting the Red Baron. After his crash, he made his way across World War I France. The nighttime scene with its eerie quiet punctuated by the sounds of the big guns firing in the distance was reminiscent of some of Steve’s own experiences in World War II. The music score was perfectly haunting.
He relaxed as the Halloween party scene started. Bobbing for apples was a game he had enjoyed as a kid, not to mention free apples.
As he watched the Peanuts gang, his sense of relaxation increased. He smiled and felt comforted by Tony sitting close and Natasha being just as quiet. The glow of the Jack O’Lanterns was soothing as Steve immersed himself in a world gone by, that he had never experienced. He felt sad for a moment, but it passed as he knew how lucky he was right now.
On-screen, Charlie Brown’s little sister Sally vented her frustration at missing ‘tricks-or-treats’ and the party to sit with Linus in a pumpkin patch waiting for the elusive Great Pumpkin.
“You owe me res-ti-tu-tion!”
Steve’s eyes began to close as Linus went on his rant about the Great Pumpkin as the end credits rolled. He felt Tony’s lips kiss his forehead and a blanket drape over him by Natasha. His aching heart was soothed as he drifted off into peaceful sleep.