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even 'hello' sounds like 'come here.'

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Tony definitely didn’t plan on ending up driving around these streets, but his brain is going a million miles a minute and he just needs to be somewhere else, so he gets in his car and drives and at some point he ends up watching a hooker get the crap beat out of him.

He would drive by, but it doesn’t look like the fight is going to go anywhere good and the guy on the receiving end of the punch looks like he’d fall over if a breeze hit him. He’s also not standing down even though the guy has at least a hundred pounds on him, so Tony pulls over, unwinds the window and leans out.

"Is there a problem," he calls, and the asshole stops punching. Tony makes eye contact with the little guy who is now being hauled up by his t-shirt. 

"No problem here," the little guy says stubbornly, and Tony sighs.

"Right. What happened?"

They both stay silent, and Tony says, “Look, you can tell me what happened, or I can call the cops and inform them that there are people looking for a ride around the block. Your choice, boys.”

The asshole lets the little guy go, who stumbles before righting himself, his chin high even with blood streaming from his nose. “He wouldn’t pay my friend.”

"Bitch wasn’t worth the money," the asshole grumbles, and the little guy’s jaw sets like he’s going to try to punch him again, even though Tony knows for a fact he didn’t get any punches in.

"So you didn’t pay her," Tony says, and he gets a hesitation and then a nod. "So you’re saying she provided you a service you know you had to pay for. Doesn’t matter how badly she did it, she still did it, you have to complete the transaction. No wonder Elmo over here tried to clock you one."

Elmo, the little guy mouths, frowning, and Tony shrugs. “You’re adorable, sorry, kid. Hey asshole, give the guy his money so he can refund his friend.”

The asshole looks like he wants nothing less than to jam the money up Tony’s nose, but he grudgingly gets out his wallet and forks over a fifty. The little guy takes it and pockets it, nodding once, like that was how he expected it to go all along and this wasn’t going to end up with a trip to the emergency room.

After handing over the money, the asshole spits in Tony’s direction. It lands in the gutter, and he’s muttering as he walks off. When he’s out of earshot- mostly- Tony raises his eyebrows at the kid.

"That guy was more than twice your size. What the hell were you thinking?"

He smirks, and when Tony looks at him expectantly, he says, “Sorry, you just reminded me of a friend.”

"Different friend?"

"Different friend," he nods. He wets his lips, stepping forward. "I’m Steve."


"Nice to meet you," Steve says, and takes another few steps so the beating is even more visible. He leans in, peering in Tony’s window. "Were you by any chance looking for a ride around the block?"

Tony laughs, and when Steve cocks his head at him, Tony waves a hand down Steve’s body. “Kid, you’re black and blue. You’d really offer up your services when you’re like that?”

"I get beat up a lot. Can’t just wait for the gaps in between, I have to make rent."

"Uh-huh," Tony mutters. He’s not going to deny the kid’s attractive, hot, even, but for god’s sake, there’s blood dripping from his nose onto the ground. He gives him another once-over, takes in the cheap clothes and the bone-skinny look of him, and sighs. He nods, says, "Get in," and Steve smiles before walking to the other side of the car.

Pepper’s going to kill me, Tony thinks, and the door opens and Steve slides in.

"We’re not having sex," Tony says as Steve buckles his seatbelt.

Steve shrugs. “Sure.”

"We’re not."


"I’m taking you to get patched up."

"Whatever you say." Steve wets his lips again, licking blood away as Tony pulls out into the road. "You’re not gonna pay me for getting patched up, though. If you ain’t gonna pay me, I’d rather just get out and lick my wounds myself, thanks."

"Hey, I’m paying you for your services," Tony says. "Your services are just different than they usually are."

Steve raises his eyebrows at him. “Yeah? What are they this time, then?”

"Staying still while the nurse sews up that cut in your forehead," Tony says. He glances over, and winces. "Guy was wearing a ring?"

"Yeah," Steve says, and spits blood into a tissue he pulls out of his pocket. "Ass."

Tony hums in agreement and then pauses, his fingers tapping the steering wheel. “You said you got beaten up like this a lot.”

"Not a lotta people respect my line of work," Steve says, his lips quirking. "And sometimes people get rough. Pays better that way, though, so if the rent money’s low I sometimes go for that."

Tony snorts. “No offence, but you are so, so not fit for this life.”

"Says you."

"Says the cut that needs stitches and your bloody nose."

"I make do," Steve says, with that stubborn expression again that has never really faded.

Tony tries to remember where the hell the hospital is. “Jesus, are you even eighteen?”

This time Steve laughs, a short, choppy sound. “I’m twenty-four, actually, but I get that a lot.”

"You’re twenty four."



Steve gets out his wallet, flips it open to let Tony examine his ID. He weighs about ten pounds less than is healthy and is indeed twenty-four years old.

"Huh," Tony says. "Could’ve fooled me."

Slipping his wallet back into his pocket, Steve shrugs again. “Fools a lot of people. The jailbait thing works for some, gets me paid double at times.”


"Adaptable," Steve corrects him, and shifts in his seat. "Sorry about getting blood in your car."

"I have about a million, I’ll be fine."

"Dollars? Or cars?"


"Dick," Steve says, and Tony snorts.

"How the hell do you get customers, a mouth like that?"

"I’ve had compliments on my mouth, actually," Steve says, said mouth twisting upwards, and Tony’s gaze drops down to it before he can stop himself. Steve’s smirk grows and then turns into a grin.

"Oh, look, hospital," Tony says, tearing his eyes away and turning into the hospital parking lot. Steve looks surprised, but he sits back and lets Tony navigate into a parking spot. 

When he gets out, Steve pauses, turning back and grimacing. “I really did a number on your seat.”

There’s spots of blood all over it, and Tony says, “Million cars, remember?”

"Still," Steve frowns.


Steve preforms his services perfectly, staying rock-still the whole way through his stitches- he only needs two in the end, and Tony sits in a chair and watches.

At one point, Steve meets Tony’s eyes and Tony gives him a thumbs up. Steve cracks a smile, which is the most he moves during the procedure. 

"You were really still," Tony remarks when they’re making their way back to the car, Steve stitched up and clean of blood apart from his clothes. "Like, I didn’t know you could be that still."

"I’m getting paid," Steve shrugs, and Tony nods.

"Which reminds me, we need to go to a cash machine. I don’t carry around hundreds in my wallet."

Steve looks at him, and Tony says, “Hey, you were a statue. That deserves at least three hundred.”

"Right," Steve says, and winces again when he sees the blood drying on Tony’s passenger seat.

They drive to the closest cash machine, at which point Tony gets out and tries to remember his pin number. He has to text Pepper, who sends him it and a frowny face. He sends her back a heart and gets out two hundred dollars, then another two hundred.

"For a job well done," Tony says when he gets back in the car, handing Steve the crisp bills.

Steve takes them cautiously, folding them in his wallet and then stroking his thumb over it. “Thanks,” he says slowly. He swallows. “This is more than any of my art ever got.”

Tony says, “No problem. Can I, uh. I mean, I could drop you off at home. Still no sex,” he adds, in case Steve’s forgotten.

Steve looks at him from under his lashes. “Not even a little bit of sex?” He sounds almost hopeful.

"Not even a little bit," Tony says, eyes on the road as he pulls out into it. "No sex is going to be happening, nosiree. Noooo sex."

Steve makes a low noise in his throat, and then looks out the window towards the buildings. “Shame.”

Tony agrees, but he doesn’t say anything until Steve points and says, “There, that’s me,” and Tony says, “That one,” and Steve says, “Uh-huh.”

"Nice building."

Steve shoves him lightly. “Yeah, shuddup, I bet your mansion is a billion times bigger than the whole thing.”

"Well, yeah, but it’s still a nice building."

Steve snorts, and his fingers rub the skin above his stitches. “Thanks,” he says again, and Tony waves him off. He looks over at Steve, who is eyeing Tony with half-lidded eyes, and Tony is expecting it when Steve leans in and kisses Tony.

Steve’s lips are soft, chapped, and his hand brushes Tony’s cheek before he pulls back.

Tony tries to get his breath back. He should definitely not be that winded from just one kiss. “How, how much for that?”

"That one’s for free," Steve says, and this time when he wets his lips, Tony watches the track his tongue makes. "You sure you don’t wanna come up? It’s- it’d be for free, too, though you already kinda paid me, I sorta feel like I’m slacking, here."

"Who’s slacking, you sat perfectly still, we’ve discussed this," Tony says in a thin voice, and Steve huffs a laugh.

"I take it that’s a no?"

"Yes," Tony says. "I mean, yes, it’s a no. It was- it was nice to meet you, Steve. Even with the blood that is going to take forever to get out of that seat."

Steve ducks his head in a nod, smile shy now, and he’s getting out of the car when Tony thinks fuck it, Pep’s already pissed with me about Japan, and says, “Hey, what if I could get you a job?”

Steve turns back, and there’s the stubborn set of his jaw again. “I’m not anybody’s charity case-“

"Charity, who’s doing charity, certainly not me, all I know is that my assistant told me she knows a guy who’s looking for an artist to draw comics for his paper, do you know anyone?"

Steve hesitates, hand still on the car door, one leg resting on the sidewalk. “You’re serious.”

"Well, are you any good?"

"I’m- I’m okay," Steve says, frowning, and Tony gets out his phone.

"Okay’s good, I can text him right now and say I know just the person."

Steve shifts his jaw back and forth, glancing back to his building and then back at Tony. Seconds pass before he says, “Okay,” like he’s still not sure Tony isn’t going to stab him with a pen.

Tony fires off the text. “Done. You’re hired, Steve.”

"It’s my real name," Steve says suddenly. "Steve. It’s not- my hooker name, or anything. I’m Steve Rogers."

"Tony Stark," Tony says. "And you don’t, uh, I mean, if you want to, you can still hook- is that the right word? You can still do it, if you want. but you don’t have to, your job will start Monday if you agree to it."

"You’re crazy," Steve says, a grin blooming. "What is wrong with you?"

"There’s a list of that somewhere," Tony says, and looks down at his phone as it starts to ring. "Stay," he says to Steve, and flips open his phone. "Hey, Gerry. Yeah, I’ve got- he’s right here, if you want to talk to him."

Steve looks warily at the phone when Tony hands it to him, but then he clears his throat and presses it to his ear. “Hello, this is Steve Rogers speaking.”

Tony watches as Steve confirms that yes, he’s that Steve Rogers who painted that one thing that Gerry’s son loves, and that yes, he’s free to come in on weekdays, and yes, that wage is certainly acceptable. He hangs up still looking a mix of confused and deliriously happy. “I have a job.”

"Yay," Tony cheerleads. He takes his phone back, and ignores the several texts he has from Pepper that are still coming in. "Good for you, I’m really happy it worked out, anyway, nice meeting you, I already said that, bye, Steve-"

He twists the keys in the ignition, and squeaks when Steve crawls across his seat and kisses him, half climbing into his lap as he does. 

"Come up to my apartment," Steve breathes into Tony’s mouth, and Tony says, "Shit, yes," and Steve kisses him again before shifting back until he can get out of the car to lead Tony up to his place.