“Steven, what have you got there? You look suspicious. It’s never good for me when you look suspicious.” Danny was glaring at his partner as he leaned in Steve’s doorway.
“Nothing.” Steve hid the cookbook in his desk and started to look busy by moving piles of paperwork around.
“That was not nothing. That was something, and when it’s something it usually means that we get shot at. Or kidnapped. Or..”
“Okay, okay. I get it. It’s-” Steve sighed and felt his cheeks flush hot, which he most certainly did not do. Steve didn’t blush. Though he was feeling a tad guilty over the cookbook, but it was for a surprise for his lover.
“You look guilty. Why, Steven, do you look guilty?”
“Would you just go back to work. Don’t you have piles of paperwork to finish before we leave for the Holiday?”
“Oh no. You are not going to deflect this one. You are planning something that you know you shouldn’t be doing, but are doing it anyway.” Danny crossed his arms and gave Steve that stare. The one where Danny knew Steve was going to do, or thinking of doing something completely and utterly stupid.
Steve pressed his lips together before caving in, shaking his head he pulled the cookbook out from his desk and threw it down. When he did, Danny’s eyes went comically wide and he started to sputter, but no words actually came out. Closing his eyes, Danny rubbed his forehead and took a deep breath. All the while Steve crossed his arms and tried to wait patiently, which wasn’t exactly his strong suit.
“That is Tony’s Nonna’s cookbook. The one she gave to him personally. What, pray tell, are you doing with it?”
“I’m gonna cook Christmas dinner for him.”
“Right. Okay, but you don’t cook.” Danny pointed a finger at Steve.
“I cook.” Steve said with about as much conviction as a guilty man claiming innocence. Danny laughed so hard he doubled over making Steve glare at his partner until he calmed down enough to form words.
“No, Steven you grill. Which, I can agree is really damn good. But when it comes to actual cooking you do eggs, boxed pasta, which is just a travesty, and whatever-is-in-the-freezer. You’re fiance cooks, and might I say you could learn a thing or two from him.”
“I’ll be fine, Danny.”
“Yeah, sure. I will believe that when it comes out of Tony’s mouth, not yours.”
“You don’t seem to have any faith in me that I can actually follow a recipe.”
“No. No, I don’t. Because knowing you you’ll maverick it up somehow.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?” Steve was both amused and offended at Danny’s insistence that he was going to screw this up somehow, but he knew he could do this.
“Just means you’ll start cooking and something in that crazy brain of your will turn on and you’ll think, ‘hey what if I do this instead.’ I mean it isn’t like you actually follow rules and protocols.” Danny smirked at Steve as he crossed his arms again. “You should just put that back and grill some steaks. Trust me, Tony will love it and it will keep you from a potential disaster.”
“Thank you for that sage advice. Now go away.” Steve actually made a shooing motion towards Danny who took a deep breath before he opened his mouth to continue speaking when he closed it again.
“Okay, fine. I’m not going to argue with you, but it’s your funeral, pal.” Danny turned and walked away leaving a scowling Steve standing there with the pilfered cookbook in his had.
Steve sat back down and finished making the shopping list for the things he would need to surprise Tony. He wanted to show his fiance that he was more than just the guy who gills the meat.
Steve stood in the middle of the kitchen and completely regretted his life’s choices. His hands were full of sticky pasta dough that looked way too bright green for the spinach raviolo he was trying to do. The color was an unnatural green. It did not look anything like the spinach pasta Tony would make.
He followed the recipe to the T. But when he tried to knead it, the dough stuck to everything, especially the marble pastry board that Tony had paid a fortune for to get installed and properly sealed to be able to use to roll out his pasta and homemade bread when he had time to bake.
The smell coming from the oven had Steve worried that the brick chicken he had in there wasn’t right either. In fact, nothing was going right and Steve had no damn clue how to fix it.
Of course, it was that exact moment when Tony walked into the kitchen.
Steve stood there, covered in flour, hands sticky, an unidentifiable smell coming from the oven, and a pot of water about to boil over. “Yes?” he deadpanned as if nothing was wrong.
“What’cha doin’?” Tony rocked back on his heels while stuffing his hands in his pants pockets.
“Making Christmas Eve dinner.”
“Right,” Tony exaggerated the word as he set his briefcase down and took off his jacket, then his weapon’s harness, and put his gun away all the while not saying anything. Steve just watched while Tony went through his nightly routine. A couple of minutes later he came back.
“Okay, what in the hell are you trying to cook and how the hell did you get that god awful color?” Tony raised a brow as he leaned on the counter, and Steve could tell he was trying not to yell about what a mess his marble pastry counter was. Steve cleared his throat and waved a hand over the dough.
“The spinach raviolo with egg yolk? And I may have added some green food dye.” Steve’s voice rose in pitch as he felt his face flush.
“Why would you try to make such a difficult dish when you don’t even know how to make pasta?” Tony was more amused than angry as his mouth turned up in a half-smile. Steve could tell he was ready to laugh.
“I was trying to impress you.” Steve smiled as he held his hands out towards Tony who was now looking around at the disaster of a kitchen.
“You broke the yolks,” Tony stated so matter of fact that Steve didn’t even try to stop the laugh that bubbled up out of him. Then Tony started and after a few seconds, the two of them were doubled over in laughter over the whole situation. Steve finally got himself together, forgetting that his hands were covered in wet, green dough, he wiped his face of tears that were falling.
When Tony looked up at him with that smile, Steve moved forward, mischief shone out of his eyes.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“This,” Steve proclaimed before taking Tony’s face in his hands and pulling his fiance towards him and laying a big sloppy kiss on Tony’s lips.
“Oh, I will so get you back for that.”
“I know. And it will be worth it.”
Steve went to the kitchen and cleaned up his hands.
“Okay, what the hell is that smell?”
“Oh, Shit!” Quicker than he thought possible, Steve raced to the oven and pulled it open. Black smoke started to billow out as he grabbed oven mitts and pulled what was left of the chicken out of the oven.
“Steven, my love, what did you do?”
“Tried to make your Nonna’s brick chicken.” Steve furrowed his brow as he set the hot pan in the sink. Tony walked over to look at the blackened carcass of what used to be a succulent, free-range, naturally fed chicken.
“You used actual bricks?”
“Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?”
Tony hung his head and slowly shook it from side to side. “That’s why I have this,” Tony reached under the counter pulling open one of the doors and pulled out a heavy-looking thing with blunt spikes. “This is specially made for that type of chicken. What did you do, go to the side yard and pull bricks from the pile we have sitting there?”
“And what if I said I did?”
“Because you don’t just put bricks on top of food like that! You cover them in foil first.”
“Oh. Well, I knew that.” Steve tried to play it off, but even he knew the words fell flat.
“Babe, I really appreciate that you put in a lot of effort to do something special, but why didn’t you just throw some steaks and potatoes on the grill and we could have had a nice meal out on the lanai, turned on the Christmas lights, and watched the boats out there past the surf. You could have made that coleslaw I like, and grilled a few veggies.”
Steve pouted as he shrugged his shoulders.
“I wanted to do something different. I just wanted to show you how much I really love you.”
“Oh, Babe. You didn’t have to try to do something like this. Just, you be you, Steve. I don’t need big gestures. You show me every day how much you love me.”
Steve smiled and leaned in towards Tony for another kiss.
“So I guess I shouldn’t tell you that the brussel sprouts with cranberries didn’t turn out?”
“Did you try to cook the cranberries with the brussel sprouts?”
“I promise to clean the oven spotless.”
Tony opened his mouth like he was going to say something, but he just turned around and walked back to the other room. Steve followed and watched as Tony pulled on his jacket and grabbed his wallet and keys.
“Where are you going?” Steve felt apprehensive about Tony leaving on Christmas Eve.
“First, I’m going to clean my face, and because I’m starving, I am going to go pick us up some dinner, somewhere that’s open, and you are cleaning up this kitchen.” Tony was out the door before Steve could respond.
And that was how Tony and Steve started their tradition of having McDonald’s late-night Christmas Eve dinner.