"I need your help," Steve said when Tony picked up his phone.
"Sure, what do you want me to do," Tony answered easily, as if the last favor Steve asked hadn't lost him his car and got him grounded for forever.
"I… Do you promise not to go all *you* on me?" Because Tony totally would.
"*Excuse* me? Go all… Did you just insult me? You insulted me! Oh, my God, are you saying that that being me is a bad thing? You are! I am so proud of you. I'm beaming! Can you hear my beaming?"
"I'll hang up! I will hang up right now, Tony!"
Tony took a deep breath. "You came to me, remember?"
"Right." Steve rubbed his eyes. "I did. Why did I again?"
"Because I rock and you love me. So what do you need, sweet cheeks? I've got a lab in ten minutes and if I'm late the TA goes batshit."
Steve swallowed down the lump in his throat. "I need a job."
"Alright, you're hired," Tony said in a serious voice and Steve knew, he knew that Tony really was hiring him. Probably to watch tv and play video games with him when he came home for vacation.
"Thanks, but I was actually hoping you'd help me get a specific job." Steve bit his lip. "I want to be your dad's PA."
There was silence on the other end of the line.
"Tony? You still there?"
"Yeah, yeah, I… You know my dad won't go for it, right?"
"He might," Steve said defensively.
"Be practical, Steve, because Dad will be." Tony sighed. "Seriously, don't get your hopes up, okay?"
Steve clenched his jaw. "Will you help me or not?"
"Of course I will," said Tony, in a gentle voice. "What do you need me to do?"
"I need help making a video resume. Something multi-media that will blow him away."
"You know, you could always—"
"If the next words out of your mouth are sexual, I swear I will smack you upside the head."
"You're no fun!" Tony was practically pouting through the phone. "Do you want to come to Cambridge? We can make a weekend of it?"
"I can't." There's no way Steve could swing the ticket and he wasn't going to ask Tony buy it. "Can you come up here?"
"Fine, but if I catch you two sucking face again, I'm gone."
Steve blushed furiously. "You won't."
"That's what you said the last two times." Tony snorted. "Look, I gotta go. I'll see you on Friday, okay?"
"Have fun at your lab."
"Fuck you too, Rogers," Tony said cheerfully and hung up.
"No, not that picture, it's horrible!" Steve tried to push Tony away from the laptop. "I look like a dork."
"That's the way you normally look." Tony elbowed him in the stomach. "Stop, you're gonna break my laptop with your big paws."
"I don't have—"
The door opened and they both froze. When Howard stuck his head in, Steve quickly closed the laptop. "Hey, boys. What are you two doing?"
"Nothing," Tony said, his eyes wide and innocent.
Steve didn't groan, because that would only confirm whatever suspicions Howard might have. "Tony's helping me with an assignment for school."
Howard narrowed his eyes and said, slowly, "Okay. Well, dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes."
"We'll be right down." Steve smiled.
"Alright." Howard opened his mouth, then hesitated, flushing slightly. "You… You're not looking at porn, are you?"
Steve's face burned hot with embarrassment and Tony groaned.
"Dad! Oh my God, seriously! No, I am not looking at porn with your boyfriend. Now go away, please, please, go away!" After Howard left, Tony turned to him. "Really? You're dating him, why?"
"Tony, leave it." Steve frowned in sudden annoyance.
"No, really, why?"
God, Steve was so sick of this. So sick of having to justify his relationship to *everyone.* "Because he has a big dick, okay! He has a big dick and he knows how to use it!"
Tony groaned and curled into a little ball. "I hate you so much."
"Don't ask questions you don't want the answers to." Steve rolled out of Tony's bed. "You coming?"
Tony flapped a hand on him, which could mean anything from 'yes, in a moment' to 'go fuck yourself.'
Steve chose to believe he meant the former.
There was one hurdle to jump before he pitched his idea to Howard. And if Tony thought his dad was going to be a tough sell, Howard had nothing on Steve's mom. Steve made dinner that night, even though Sundays were usually her days to cook. He baked chicken and made mashed potatoes with gravy. For dessert he bought a couple of slices of chocolate cheesecake—his mom's favorite.
"You didn't hack into another government agency's computers, did you?" she asked.
"I just wanted to do something nice for you. More mashed potatoes?" She didn't answer, but he put another spoonful on her plate anyway.
She looked at him thoughtfully. "Are you pregnant?"
"Mom!" Steve gave her a horrified look and she laughed.
"Oh, honey, the look on your face." She reached over and touched his arm. "Why are you trying to butter me up, Steve?"
Steve sighed and stabbed at his chicken with his fork. "I want to get a job."
"Steve, we've been over this. You need to concentrate on school."
"I know, Mom. I know. But that was before the hospital started taking away your extra shifts." He took her hand and squeezed it gently. "I know you're having a hard time making ends meet and… I can help!"
She squeezed his hand right back "That's not for you to worry about."
"But I do. I'm old enough to get a job, at least for the summer." He took a deep breath. "They're doing a lot of hiring for Stark Expo—"
"Oh, I see." Her face went blank and she pulled away.
"Don't. Mom, Howard can get me a really good job working for him. I could even make more than minimum wage!"
"I said no, Steven," she said, raising her voice. "Too much of your life is wrapped up in Howard Stark as it is."
"And how are we supposed to manage when they shut off our electricity or we get evicted?"
"I'll think of something."
"You don't have to!" Steve's voice wavered. "Mom, please, let me do this. Let me help. I've…. I know I've been nothing but trouble lately. Let me do *something* right."
Her eyes softened. "Oh, honey, you—"
"Yes, I have. Mom, I know I've been trouble." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I'm not a kid anymore. Working for Howard will be a good thing. He'll find me a good job with good pay, and he'll have a legitimate reason to give me a letter of recommendation to colleges. Mom, people would *kill* to have a letter of recommendation written by Howard."
She crossed her arms over her chest, looking conflicted.
"Please. I'll keep up with my chores and helping Mrs. Choi around her apartment, too. I swear."
Her shoulders slumped and Steve knew he had her. "Alright, fine."
He bolted out of his seat and hugged her. "Thanks, Mom. You won't regret it."
She hugged him tightly. "I already do."
It was silly. Steve knew it was silly, but he was nervous and he didn't know why. He knew what Howard looked like naked. He knew what Howard looked like with come on his mustache, so why was he so nervous?
He was being stupid. Steve straightened his tie and swallowed hard.
When Howard walked into the den, he did a slight double take, and then blinked. "Is this... Are we trying something new today?"
Steve almost laughed. "No, I… I've got a proposition for you."
"A proposition?" Howard frowned, but let Steve usher him to his chair.
"Yes. I made a presentation and everything. Just watch it and keep an open mind, okay? Please?" He couldn't help himself, he pressed a soft kiss to Howard's mouth.
Howard cupped his face and smiled. "Anything for you, babe. You know that."
Steve certainly hoped so. He pulled away, opened his laptop, and started the PowerPoint presentation. Then he sat back and watched Howard's reactions, his hands clasped tightly in his lap.
It started out alright, Howard looked surprised, but not freaked out surprised. Then Howard's face went completely blank and Steve knew.
Steve bit his lip, hard, and stared at his hands. God, he was so stupid. Tony was right, of course Tony was right. He blinked rapidly and kept his breathing even. He didn't look up until the presentation ended and Howard snapped the laptop shut.
Howard cleared his throat and said in a gentle voice," That was an impressive presentation. Is that what you and Tony were working on last weekend?"
"Yeah." Steve worried at his bottom lip.
"The thing is, Steve, this summer is going to be demanding and I need an experienced PA. It would look funny if I hired a sixteen year old who's never had a job before."
"Sure, I get it." Steve got to his feet; he just wanted to go home.
"Steve, please, you have to understand my position. I—"
"I said that I get it, okay!" He clenched his hands into fists. "You don't want me to work for you. I understand."
"Babe." Howard sighed and got to his feet. He walked over and put his hands on Steve's shoulders. "It's nothing personal."
"It is personal! It—" Steve pressed his lips together and took a deep breath through his nose. "We could make it work. It'd be perfect. I already know you. I know so much about you. I know how you like your bagels—whole wheat with strawberry cream cheese—and that you prefer your coffee light and sweet, but you always get it black when you're at work because you think people will judge your coffee preferences. And I… I know you wear Mickey Mouse boxers on those days you have a meeting with your Board of Directors. It's your version of picturing your audience naked."
"I don't mix business with pleasure."
That was such a lie, but Steve didn't call him on it. " I just—"
"You just what?" Howard stroked his cheek.
"Never mind, it's nothing." Steve pulled away.
"Oh no, I'm not falling for that." Howard grabbed his arm. "It's something and if I don't pry it out of you now, it'll come back to bite me on the ass later. So spill."
"I thought it would give us a good reason to hang out together."
Howard shook his head in confusion. "We do."
"Yeah, here." Steve gestured to their surroundings. "But we never… We don't go out to dinner or to the movies or… We can't even take a walk around the park! I want us to do things together, Howard. I want us to do normal things."
"Steve." And Howard's voice went soft again and he pressed a warm kiss to Steve's jaw. "I know. I want that too. Don't you think I want that too?"
He shrugged and Howard pulled him close. He buried his face against Howard's neck and breathed in his very expensive cologne. "All we do is have sex. And I love it, you know I do, but I want us to have more than that. I want more."
"I'm sorry," Howard said softly.
"Me, too." Steve gently pushed away from him. "It was a stupid idea."
"No, no, it wasn't." Howard sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "Look, you can't be my PA, but if you want a job… I need someone to organize my social calendar until I can hire an assistant. How does that sound?"
It wasn't what Steve wanted, not by a long shot, but he knew it was the best he would get. "Alright."
"And maybe you could PA for Tony. He's going to need someone he trusts by his side this summer."
"Yeah, okay." Steve smiled, trying not to let the disappointment get to him.