Steve almost didn’t see him, huddled up against the wall, soaked with rain, trying to shield his bag with his coat. He was glad he did, otherwise he might have run him over. The boy was stumbling, his clothes disheveled and it was clear he’d been drinking. Steve slammed on the brakes, praying the tires of his bike wouldn’t skid too much in the awful weather, an evil layer of water having built up over the pavement.
“Hey, you alright?” He shouted over the rain, pulling his motorcycle off the road. The boy turned, saw him and started to run, stumbling as he did, his legs shaking under him. Steve parked and went after him, the boy barely reaching a panicked speed. He collapsed a few feet away, sinking down to the puddle-covered sidewalk, his body shaking.
“Do you need help?” Steve asked, crouching down. The boy, young man really, tried to back away. But he stopped when he saw Steve’s face. The young man’s eyes were bloodshot and red from crying, his nose running, face flushed. Steve could see a series of blue and black marks down his neck, the size of fingers, arranged in a perfect choke hold around his- Steve didn’t want to think about it. He pulled off his jacket and offered it to him.
“Thought you were that asshole,” the young man muttered, his voice shaken. He wasn’t slurring, the rain had probably sobered him up. “Sorry.”
“No it’s fine. I shouldn’t have snuck up on you.” Steve tucked the jacket around him. “Do you need a ride?”
He nodded, wiping his face.
“I have no idea. I’m lost, I think. God I never thought that’d happen.” He laughed, weakly. It was more of a choked sob and Steve sighed. He was too messed up for Steve to just drop him off somewhere. He could get run over, or just wander off. His shirt was stained with what Steve hoped was vomit and not blood, but he was sure he saw both there on
the dark, soaked fabric.
“Come on. I don’t live far. We’ll get you cleaned up.” Steve rubbed his back. “Can you stand?”
He nodded and tried to get to his feet, his knees quaking under him until they gave out and Steve had to carry him to the bike.
“That looks like a bad idea,” he muttered and Steve sat down and nestled him in his lap, arms holding him in place. “A very bad idea. We’re gonna die. I blame you.”
Steve held him tightly and kicked the bike into gear, the engine roaring to life. “Hold tight.”
The wail the young man let out was amusing but it worried Steve. He was not in his right mind, his arms wrapping tightly around Steve’s neck as they sped through the darkened streets towards Steve’s apartment. By the time they reached it the young man was crying, but Steve wasn’t sure if it was the bike or the bruises he could see on the young man’s arms. He parked the bike and hoisted him up into his arms with surprising ease. He was thin, almost scrawny, and pale. He was a feather in Steve’s arms, much like Steve had been when he was younger.
“Put me down,” the young man whimpered into Steve’s neck.
“You can’t walk.”
Steve didn’t answer. He grabbed his bag and, with his find still gathered in his arms fumbled for the key.
He hurried inside, dropping the bags and setting the young man down on the kitchen counter. The apartment was small, a cramped kitchen attached to the living area, a small bedroom and bath in the back. It wasn’t much, but Steve was happy with it. The young man looked around as he swayed back and forth, hands gripping the edge of the counter. He looked like he was going to be sick.
Steve, stripping out of his wet shirt, went to grab the first aid kit from the bathroom, along with some towels and a wash cloth to wipe his face with.
“FUCK!” he heard the young man yell before a loud thud signaled his meeting with Steve’s hardwood floor. Steve hurried, grabbing what he could, not bothering with fresh clothes. He’d need to shower anyway.
The young man lay face down on the floor, groaning in frustration. Steve guessed he had tried to stand and his legs had disagreed. He helped him up and lifted him back onto the counter.
He did, his bloodshot eyes scanning Steve as he filled a bowl with warm water.
“Thanks.” Steve smiled. “Can you take off your shirt?”
“You gonna sleep with me?”
Steve blinked. “No, I’m going to make sure you aren’t hurt.”
“Oh.” He pulled off his shirt with a few clumsy movements. “You could sleep with me too.”
Someone already had, if the bruises and bites along the young man’s chest were any indication. Steve counted ten on his chest, five bruises forming on his arms, and the ugly dark purple of the fingers around his throat. It made him sick.
“What happened?” he asked, taking the warm cloth and running it lightly over the young man’s face.
“Party. Douchebag. Drugs I think.” He swayed and Steve wrapped an arm around his waist to steady him. “Or I was just really drunk.”
“Did you have anyone with you?”
He shrugged. “Maybe.” He winced as Steve ran the cloth over the bruises on his neck. “Thought I was going to get laid. Nasty fucker got grabby.”
“I can see that,” Steve said, swallowing his anger. He hated the fact that someone had the nerve to hurt a guy as small as this, as broken looking. Granted he had probably been drunk, but that was no excuse. “They’re going to hurt for a while.”
“Nah, I bit his dick and he let go.” He smiled like he was proud of himself. “I think he was bleeding but I can’t remember. Ow, fuck that hurts.”
“Hold still,” Steve chided, running the cloth over his chest, wiping the sweat and cleaning the red and blue bruises. “What’s your name?”
“Tony. I think.” He looked genuinely confused. “Damn I need to know what drugs he slipped me. That shit is potent.”
“Tony, do you know who it was who attacked you?” Steve asked gently, grabbing for a towel to dry him. He dried his dark hair, lightly, never adding too much pressure. Tony let him, leaning into his touch as he ran the towel down his back.
“Nope. Douche bags and fucktards usually look the same.” He nuzzled into Steve’s neck. “You’re warm.”
“Sit up for me.” Tony did as he asked, leaning back against the cabinets so that Steve could look at his bruises again. Steve grabbed a bottle of herbal crème, arnica that he used after practice, and squeezed a bit on his fingers. He started to rub it’s gently into Tony’s skin.
“This is going to help the bruises, ok?” He explained as he went from one to another, his hand reaching up to Tony’s neck. He tried to ignore the flinch when his fingers touched the bruised skin. “It won’t get rid of them, but it should help.”
Tony nodded. “I think he fucked up my back too.”
Steve slid him of f the counter and helped him stand. A series of long red lines ran down Tony’s back, where nails had dug into his pale skin. Steve sighed and grabbed for the cloth again, gently washing his back, trying to soothe the irritated, almost bleeding skin, before applying a bit of crème where he could.
“You should be more careful.” Steve grabbed a fresh towel and wrapped it around him. “Anything on your legs?”
Steve sighed. “Honest?”
“Off.” He gave a light tug at Tony’s jeans and turned his back as he stripped down to his boxers. More bruises, some older, but there were fresh dark handprints clear on his thighs and ankles.
Tony shrugged. “Not that bad.”
Steve wanted to tell him that it was, tell him he was lucky he was even able to stand. But he didn’t. It wasn’t his place. He was playing Good Samaritan, not obnoxious parent. He lifted Tony up onto the counter again, gently so as not to add to the bruises and pain already present. He went about cleaning his legs the same way he did his chest, rubbing the arnica on the bruises. He swore under his breath when he glimpsed a set of dark finger tips down Tony’s ass.
“You are not touching me there.”
Steve laughed. “Don’t worry, I won’t.” He dropped the bottle of crème back into the box and wiped his hands. “You need help walking?”
Tony shook his head but his knees gave out when he tried. Steve scooped him up, ignoring the string of curses and the light thumps of Tony’s fists on his chest. He carried him to his bedroom and set him on the bed.
“You can sleep here if you want. I’ll be on the couch if you need me.” Steve patted his head before turning to go. “The bathroom is through there if you need it.”
Steve stopped at the door. “Why what?”
Tony was looking at him, his eyes teary. “Why do you even give a fuck?”
Steve smiled. “You needed someone to help you. And I hate bullies. And my personal moral code wouldn’t let me just leave you out there. You’d probably wind up under a bus. Or worse.”
That got Tony to laugh. “Or worse… I uh… Thanks… You know for uhm, being a decent person, I guess, Mr. attractive blonde.”
“Steve.” Tony tried out the name and smiled. “Suits you.”
“Get some sleep. I’ll be on the couch.”
Tony nodded and curled up on the bed, arms wrapping around himself. Steve left him, going straight for the fridge to find a beer. This wasn’t how he had planned on spending his night after work, but hey, it could be worse. Add one to his list of good deeds.
Something started buzzing and running, loudly. It was Tony’s bag; or rather his phone that was throwing a tantrum as Steve pulled it out and answered.
“Tony where the ever loving fuck-”
It was Rhodey, his teammate. Why was he calling random drunk guy?
“Rogers, why do you have Tony’s phone? Is he with you? God why is he with you?” Rhodey sounded exhausted and worried sick.
“I found him wandering around campus. I brought him home with me. I didn’t know he was a friend of yours.”
“If by friend you mean major pain in the ass yes.” Rhodey sighed. “Thanks, man. I can come by to get him.”
“No, Rhodes it’s fine. He’s sleeping. I took care of him, he’s pretty messed up. He needs sleep more than anything.”
“Yeah.” Steve glanced at the bedroom door. “Someone got rough with him he said.”
Another sigh. “Shit.”
“I’ll be fine, Rhodes. I don’t have classes tomorrow. I can keep an eye on him.”
“You don’t have to. I was supposed to keep an eye on him.”
“Rhodes, it’s fine,” Steve assured him. “You sound like you need rest.”
“I’ve got it handled. No worries.”
Rhodey was silent a moment or two and Steve knew he was fighting an argument in his own head. “You’re a good man, Cap.”
“You want me to come get him tomorrow?”
“I’ll call you if I need help.”
Steve looked up at a soft sound. Tony was standing in the doorway of the bedroom, shivering, arms wrapped tightly around himself. He looked like death, covered in bruises, eyes filled with exhaustion.
“Was that Rhodey?” he asked.
“Yeah. It’s fine. Go back to bed.”
“I can’t sleep.”
“You didn’t try.” Steve tossed the phone on the couch and ushered Tony back into the bedroom. He helped him back into bed and pulled the covers over him. “Sleep. You need it.
We’ll talk in the morning.”
He patted Tony’s chest lightly and made to pull away, but Tony’s hand wrapped around his wrist and held him there.
“I’ll sleep on the couch.”
He sounded so broken, so goddamn scared. Steve took in the bruises, the redness of his eyes, the raw lips, the shaking hands. He sighed and pulled off his jeans before sliding into the bed next to him.
“Thank you,” Tony whispered, curling up next to him, face pressed into Steve’s chest. “Thank you. Thank you.”
He was dozing, sleep finally taking him. Steve ran a hand over his hair absently, listening to the ragged breathing. He shouldn’t be doing this. He should be on the couch, giving him space.
But Tony clung to him as if he needed Steve to survive. And Steve couldn’t bring himself to move. So he wrapped his arms around Tony, pulled him close, and drifted off to sleep.
They could deal with the awkwardness in the morning.