Actions

Work Header

Lucky Seven

Chapter Text

“No, leave the bike with me! I'll fix it,” Tony says, as the Avengers stand in the rubble-filled aftermath of a rogue Kree faction's misguided attempt to take over Roosevelt Island. “Happy can drive you home. Of course, if you still lived in the Tower--”

Steve sighs and pulls his cowl off, running his hands through sweaty, dirty hair. He'd left his last bike with Tony, when he lived at the Tower, and had never seen it again. It's probably still sitting in the corner of some lab, forgotten, behind the detritus of more exciting projects. Tony had eventually bought Steve a new motorcycle. In fact, he'd bought Steve six new motorcycles, one from each of the top performance brands. Steve had shuddered at the expense; the waste. Much as it was nice to run his hand over a Ducati, Captain America had to ride an American brand and... he just missed his old Harley. He'd told Tony as much, and the next day, four more Harleys had appeared in Steve's section of the Tower's parking garage. Including a vintage one from 1945. Painted in red, white and blue with Steve's shield logo.

What Steve now thinks of as The Motorcycle Incident had been one of the final straws in Steve moving out of the Tower and back to Brooklyn. He wants to live in peace and quiet. He wants the ability to do simple day-to-day activities without Tony Stark inserting himself into every single one of them. He likes Tony; heck, he likes all the Avengers. But he's tired. Tired of being a symbol. Tired of having no life other than the job. Tired of people assuming (admittedly, mostly out of kindness and friendship) that they could make better choices about his life than he could. Tired even of battle. Another week, another fight. Dust and wreckage and blood on the asphalt and SHIELD agents on mop-up and red light, blue light.

He'd hoped the move to Red Hook would make a difference but so far, a month later, it just underlines how he has no friends other than the Avengers. But he isn't going to tell Tony that. And he certainly isn't going to leave his bashed-up Harley with him.

It isn't that far from Roosevelt Island to Red Hook, even in the state his bike is in. As he shrugs his leather jacket on, and his helmet, Natasha strides over. “Hey, handsome. Don't forget your date tonight!”

Steve groans. He had completely forgotten.

Natasha punches his shoulder, affectionately. “No cancelling! She's a fashion designer. Friend of Janet's. Very hot, and very artistic.”

He wants to cancel. He just doesn't want to make any sort of effort tonight. And people are always such an effort. But... he can't complain to himself one moment about not having any friends other than the Avengers, and then cancel out on dates with potential new friends who are not Avengers. He texts the girl; her name is Bree.

 

SGR: Hi, it's Steve. My bike broke down and I can't pick you up. Do you mind meeting me at the restaurant? It's a nice local place in Red Hook called Sketch.

BREE: OK. 8 still good?

SGR: Sure. See you then. I'll probably be wearing a brown leather jacket.

BREE: I know what you look like, Steve.

 

Steve waggles his phone at Natasha. “There, I just reconfirmed.”

Natasha throws him a proud smile as she walks away towards Clint's car, and fake-applauds a little.

Steve sighs and starts up the bike. Its steering is fucked, the back wheel out of alignment, and the engine had taken the brunt of a few blasts from a Kree laser-gun. Top speed is about 20 miles per hour. But he manages to limp past the emergency vehicles around the perimeter (red light, blue light) and across the bridge. He ditches the BQE for more local streets where it'll be safer if the bike konks out completely.

It's just after sunset when he gets home to his apartment he'd rented in the new luxury building (“Steve, you have to choose this building. It at least has security,” said Natasha) in the old, waterfront neighborhood. He locks his bike up and limps upstairs to shower. There's a SHIELD agent living next door to keep an eye on him, and the upstairs apartment is kept vacant for safety. From the bathroom window he can see a street full of the places he wanted to live, the little brownstones with their front stoops and back gardens, where he could have had some rose bushes, maybe a little vegetable patch.

He stands under the hot water for half an hour, leaning against the shower wall, before he can even summon the energy to soap himself off.

Maybe the girl will be nice, he thinks, as he throws on an old pair of jeans and a clean t-shirt and his leather jacket. Bree. It's a funny name. He finds a lot of the modern names funny. They even name children after stores, now: his first Tiffany had been quite a shock, and there's a girl who works at the Tower who had been named Gucci.

The restaurant is a place he'd been looking forwards to trying out for a while, a little local place that does gourmet burgers and has crayons and paper at every table. Its walls are plastered with the resulting sketches, and the little place always catches Steve's eye as he passes on his way to Fairway, the local supermarket.

Steve is right on time but there are no single blonde girls in the restaurant. He waits outside for 15 minutes, and wonders if he shouldn't have dressed up more. He then wonders if the girl stood him up. He shoots her a quick text to see where she is but gets no reply. He feels terrible for wishing she has stood him up, so he could go home and get some sleep and not have to make conversation.

Steve realises he's pacing up and down the street in front of the restaurant and possibly looking creepy, so he decides that he'll slowly walk around the block once, and if Bree is not there when he gets back, if there's no text to say where she is, he'll just text her back again and say he's going home.

Red Hook is a patchy neighborhood, with open lots, old brownstones, and a lot of industrial buildings all mixed together. It's also pretty quiet at night and a long way from the subway. The burger place backs onto one of the more industrial sections of the area, and as Steve reaches that part of the block, he notices a pretty brick building that looks like it used to be a firehouse, or a carriage house.

It's one of those moments that he loves about New York City: rounding a block to find a little piece of architecture that's offbeat and surprising and charming. He was immediately drawn to the building, its big double doors and its long, arched windows made up of small rectangular panes of glass. The whatever-it-is is shut up tight for the night. The lights are off on the ground floor but light filters out of a curtained second-floor window. It must be a business, Steve thinks. The doors have a big red star painted on them, half on one door, half on the other. Huh. Red Star. That could be anything. Bakery; art gallery; pricey clothing store.

Steve peers in the window to see if there's a sign, or some more indication what the space is used for. Then he huffs out a laugh, fogging the window and shakes his head as he steps away. It's a motorcycle repair shop. There's a brand-new, cherry-red Indian Scout parked in view of the window, and a turned-off neon sign above that says BIKE REPAIR.

Steve grins to himself as he finishes his circuit of the block and approaches the burger joint again. He's definitely going back there tomorrow, providing the world gives him a day off from having to save it.

Outside the burger joint, a thin blonde in very high-heeled shoes is standing, arms folded, looking a little annoyed. Steve realises that it's Bree, his blind date, and walks up and introduces himself. “Did you have trouble finding the place?” he asks.

The girl sighs. “Ugh, I forgot Red Hook is basically the moon. It's like, half an hour's walk from the subway,” she says, glancing down pointedly at her precarious, strappy high heels. Steve looks down too. She's so... thin, in skinny jeans that emphasise how long but also how borderline emaciated her legs are.

He thinks briefly about what it would be like to make love to her, and imagines accidentally snapping one of her bones.

Steve has only had this body for a few years. He is still new to it, still occasionally forgets his strength and breaks a glass or pulls a door off its hinges or crushes a drawer handle. And sure, he'd messed around plenty, between USO girls and nurses and the occasional more successful of Nat's endless string of blind dates. (They always wanted a kiss, just to say they'd kissed Captain America, and Steve felt somehow he'd be disappointing them if he didn't. But it rarely went further.) Truth be told, though, he was scared of having intense feelings for someone, of being in a position where he'd really let go during sex. He could badly hurt his partner. But at the same time, he wanted to love. He saw the gentle touches and hugs that Natasha and Clint traded and he longed for that sort of physical comfort. But Bree was Blind Date #12 and so far, none of the dozen girls Nat had fixed him up with had been... right.

“...Steve?” Bree says, concerned.

Steve blushes, realising he's spaced out for a few minutes. “I'm really sorry. I just moved here and I'm still getting used to the neighborhood,” he says, offering her his arm to escort her in to the burger place. “But, I did just find a place that might be able to fix my bike, so next time, I promise, you won't have to walk from the F train.”

“This place is... quaint,” Bree says, looking somewhat judgmentally at the basic little restaurant.

They slide into a booth and Bree looks at the menu. “Oh God, they don't have a license,” she groans. She catches Steve's look of confusion and shows him both sides of the menu. “No booze,” she explains.

“Oh, sorry. I, I don't drink. I never even thought--” he starts, then he stands up. “There's a bodega down the street? I could get us a bottle of wine from there?”

“No, it's okay,” Bree says, putting an arm on his. “I'll just have iced tea. I could do without the wine calories anyhow.”

Steve smirks. “I warn you I'm going to order about three burgers. I eat like a horse.” He's nervous. He's never good with new people unless he's being Captain America, and he doesn't want to be Captain America right now. He just wants a burger and a conversation. But what do you say to people who aren't superheroes or spies? Steve's hands reach over of their own accord and grab a piece of the drawing paper and the bowl of crayons. He starts sketching.

“Do you want to draw?” he asks, offering Bree a piece of paper.

“Sure,” she says. “I wanted to be a fashion designer, but I ended up in PR. Be nice to sketch a few dresses again.”

“Yeah, I wanted to be a soldier and I ended up as a chorus girl,” Steve says.

Well, that kills the conversation stone dead. Great one, Steve, he thinks to himself. How do you normal?

The waitress comes over, a cute hipster girl with horn-rimmed glasses, a Louise Brooks bob, and a chest tattoo of sparrows and scrollwork. She takes their order (three bacon cheeseburgers for Steve, a salmon and avocado salad for Bree), and looks over their shoulders at their sketches. “Oh, you drawing Red Star?” she asks.

“Huh?” Steve says, then looked down, realising he'd sketched the little Victorian brick building housing the bike repair shop.

“James is great,” says the waitress. “He brought my Vespa back from the dead. Like, that bike didn't need repair, it needed a séance.”

Steve smiles. He liked hipster girls. They were sassy.

“So, um, save the world today? I saw something on the news about aliens and Roosevelt Island,” Bree says. “What was that like?”

Steve's smile falters. “It was... there are a bunch of people staying in a gym now who lost their homes and all their possessions. We got them evacuated in time, but they lost everything. And I was right next to this woman who'd been out getting groceries, and her leg got crushed by falling mortar. I, I, I don't remember much about the fight. Just... just... afterwards, when it was finally quiet again except for people crying and looking for each other, and all the emergency vehicles and their lights. Red lights. Blue lights.”

Bree is looking at him with a shocked expression on her face. And not a I'm shocked about the human tragedy of this expression, but a you have no actual grasp on societal norms expression.

Steve puts his head in his hands and sighed. He has no grasp on societal norms.

“I'm sorry, Bree. I should have cancelled. Tonight's not a great night. I'm really tired,” he says through his hands.

She smiles at him. “It's okay. I guess I expected something... different. I work in fashion PR and it's a very surface thing, fancy secret restaurants with no names over the door, and being judged on your outfit, and nobody ever saying how they really are, how they really feel... I wasn't prepared for real. Or for walking,” she laughs. “Steve, I could have worn Converse. Oh my god. And you wouldn't even have cared.”

“I don't know what Converse are,” he says, still through his hands.

“Sneakers. You'd know them if you saw them,” Bree explains.

He peeks out from between his fingers. “You want to, uh, try again at some point? As friends,” he says. “But no secret fancy restaurants or being judged on your outfit.”

Bree smiles again, and she really was very pretty, in an angular, slightly startled-looking way. “Okay.”

They finish their dinner and Steve calls a cab to take her back to her place in Williamsburg.

He texts Natasha as he walks home.

 

SGR: I should have cancelled.

NAR: Ugh. Sorry. Janet really likes her. Maybe as a friend, though?

SGR: I dunno. That's where we left it but I'm not sure I'm going to get in touch with her again.

NAR: That bad?

SGR: No. Not really. Just not... not good. Not her. She was fine, I guess. Me, mostly.

NAR: You'll find someone good.

SGR: I'm beginning to doubt it. Night, Natasha. See you at debrief.

NAR: Night xx

 

* * *

 

The next morning, Steve comes back from his run to find his bike won't start at all. He doesn't bother to change out of his running clothes to wheel it the four blocks to the bike shop, which was, thankfully, open. It was also clean and eerily quiet. The big double doors are open, and that plus the huge windows let in a ton of sunlight from the street onto a neat front office with white walls and a long counter, and then a partly-closed door to a much larger back area. In the window, the Indian gleamed, its chrome-work now bathed in the neon of the sign above it.

A pretty, curvy girl with long brown hair sits at the office counter, facing the door, tapping away at her phone and ignoring the laptop open next to her. She was maybe in her mid twenties, wearing a simple floral-print day dress. She had an arm full of jangly bracelets, and long nails coated in metallic-green polish. Her hair is clipped back on one side with a big yellow silk flower, and she chews on lips painted dark red-brown as she texts.

Steve comes in with his banged-up Harley and he hears a low whistle from somewhere in back, though he can't see anyone back there. At the sound of the whistle, the girl looks up, sees Steve's bike, and makes a face. “Oh my god, your Harley got in a fight,” she says “And dude, I hate to break it to you, but I think it lost.”

Steve smiles. “Nah. You should see the other guys.”

The girls' eyes narrow as she looks at Steve for the first time. “I think I did, on the news.”

“Can you fix it?” he asks.

“Fuck no,” the girl says. She holds up her immaculately-painted nails. “And damage these babies?”

Steve stutters his confusion, pointing to the sign that clearly says BIKE REPAIR. “But--”

The girl slides off the stool she was sitting on and huffs out a sigh. “Okay, let's try this again.” She sticks out her hand and Steve shook it. “Hi, I'm Darcy. I don't fix the bikes.”

Darcy then opens the door to the back area. A chubby black pit bull with a white chest and socks comes waddling out, panting in the heat. Darcy points at the dog, who was making a beeline for Steve, wagging her tail so hard she looks like she is at risk of capsizing. “That's Pingu. She doesn't fix the bikes either.”

Pingu the Pit Bull flops over onto her back at Steve's feet, showing a lot of white belly, and continues to wiggle so hard in delight that Steve can't help laughing at her.

Darcy just sighs. “Pingu, you are such a slut,” she says, fondly. Then to Steve: “That dog has more game than anyone in this whole neighborhood. Trust.”

Then she kneels down to Pingu and says, “Pingu, high five!”.

Pingu, still on her back, raises a front paw and smacks the hand that Darcy proffered.

“Who does fix the bikes?” Steve asks, leaning down to scratch Pingu's belly. He's rewarded with a series of pig-like snorts of ecstasy from the dog.

Darcy calls over her shoulder. “James! Harley with an owie. Several owies.”

There was a clanking sound from the back, of a heavy piece of metal being put down.

Darcy straightens up and her voice drops to a whisper. “Um, things you should know. James doesn't smile at new people, it's a Russian thing, it's not personal. In fact he kind of sucks at the whole making a good impression concept in general. If he offers you tea, don't drink it, it's disgusting. Other than that, he can fix any bike in the whole--”

But Steve doesn't hear the rest of what Darcy says, because then James walks in, distractedly flipping a monkey wrench in one hand.

And Steve feels his insides go into freefall.

James is stunning. Six feet of lean muscle and tattoos and piercing, pale-blue eyes, in an old, thin white t-shirt and faded Levis. The jeans hang low on his hips then hug tight over muscular thighs. His long, dark hair is drawn up into a messy twist at his nape, and held there with a rubber band. He's wearing old, half-laced hi-tops, and Steve idly thinks, Converse. Everything about his clothing is frayed and simple and comfortable, draped over a body that's as turbocharged as the racing bikes Steve can glimpse in the back workshop. It's a contrast that pulls at Steve, sending him off-balance, short of breath, in a way that nobody has since he woke up in this noisy, over-lit future.

James has a smudge of grease on his right cheekbone. A lock of his dark hair has escaped the band at his nape and instead brushes his jaw.

Steve has to shove his hands in his pockets to still the urge to wipe at the grease; to tuck the lock back behind his ear. He feels like his blood is fizzing, like he can feel every inch of the distance between him and James, his situational awareness going into overdrive.

 

The feeling isn't mutual.

 

James walks right past Steve like he isn't even there, and squats down facing away from him to look at the Harley.

His knees poke through holes in his faded jeans. His left arm has a complete sleeve tattoo, all wires and silvery plates like it was part of a jet engine. A shiny chrome robot arm topped with a red star on his deltoid muscle and a serial number on his forearm. Some words in cyrillic flank the serial number, designed to look etched into his arm, as if it were a coachbuilder's identification plate. His right shoulder has a black cat crawling down the upper arm, teeth bared, one paw on a crossed rifle and dagger, its tail wrapped around a torch. It looks like something from a military unit, and has an acronym in Cyrillic interwoven in the torch's flames. Steve's eyes then move to the broad back under the thin t-shirt, watching the play of muscles as James reaches forwards to touch the Harley's engine.

James runs his index finger along the laser holes in the engine. “Jesus Christ.” His Russian accent adds a sort of fierce music to the syllables.

Darcy rolls her eyes. “James, manners.” Then she looks over at Steve. “I'm sorry but he was literally raised by bears so he has an excuse.”

James grins up at Darcy, fond and relaxed, and if Steve thought he was gorgeous beforehand, his smile was blinding. It lit up the entire room and Steve wanted more than anything for that smile to be directed at him.

Steve absentmindedly shakes his head, trying to clear it. What is going on with him? The first time someone treats him like... like normal, not like Captain America, and he's suddenly wishing he's their best friend? Get a grip, Rogers.

Darcy fishes out a plastic container of what appear to be baby wipes from behind the counter and shoves them at James, clearing her throat meaningfully.

James puts down the wrench, takes a baby wipe, and wipes the grease off his hands. He extends his right hand to Steve and Steve takes it. James' handshake is strong, and Steve feels like James is looking right through him with those wide, pale eyes over those aristocratic cheekbones, which contrast so spectacularly with his body's powerful build and the silver, red and black ink down his arms.

It all falls to pieces when James opens his mouth, saying in a low, breathy growl, “Hi. James Barnes. I saw you on the news. Did you drive that back here from Roosevelt Island? If so you're an idiot.”

Darcy facepalms.

“Babe,” she moans, still hitting her forehead with her hand, ”I've seen videos of you street racing. You don't get to call anyone an idiot for doing stupid things on a bike.”

Steve can't tear his eyes away from that pale, unsettling gaze. “Hi. Steve Rogers.” he manages, finally. “You're not the first person to tell me that.”

James gets up and begins to wheel the Harley into the back. “Darcy,” he calls. “Get me tea?”

“Uuuugh,” Darcy groans.

James looks back over his shoulder at Steve, who hasn't moved. “Do you want some tea?”

Steve thinks of Darcy's dire warning against tea (she is at that very moment making desperate crossed arms x-means-no motions at Steve and shaking her head emphatically), and then thinks, fuck it, live dangerously.

“Sure,” he says.

“Darcy, get our guest tea and cookies please.” James waves an immaculately-inked arm at Darcy, then grabs the Harley by the handlebars and starts rolling it into the back of the shop.

Without looking at Steve, he says, “This way. Also next time, please come round the back. There were girls taking pictures of you through the window while we were talking. That must get tiresome. Go through the alley from King Street, it's the door with the red star. Usually open.”

“Thanks,” Steve says, looking over his shoulder, and there are in fact a trio of teenage girls standing outside the store, watching him through the window and tapping away at their cellphones. He waves at them and flashes an awkward smile, before going into the back of the shop.

The back is a huge space, mostly exposed brick. A large, comfortable-looking, old-fashioned sofa is against the wall that divides the front and back of the shop. A workbench runs against the right-hand wall, scattered with tools and parts. Long windows over the counter give a view of a sunny alleyway which has a pickup truck and a small trailer parked in it. A spiral staircase sits in the back corner, presumably leading up to a living or storage area on the second floor. Around the space, on the cement floor or up on stands, are several bikes. A nice Triumph street bike and a couple custom racing jobs in various states of assembly. Something huge and powerful under a dust sheet that looks an awful lot to Steve like parachute silk. A vintage Vespa, robin's-egg blue.

Steve eases down onto the sofa, and Pingu paddles up onto the cushion next to him, flopping down with her big head in his lap. He watches as James clamps the front wheel of the Harley to secure it to a work stand, and hooks a stool with his foot to sit down on. He looks around and thinks to himself how the garage has surprisingly good natural light. How it would have made an amazing painting studio. How long it's been since Steve has drawn a damn thing.

His roaming eyes notice a bunch of trophies shoved underneath the workbench. A couple have fallen over. He finds that odd. Most places would have the trophies up front, on display.

Steve doesn't have much more time to think about it as Darcy appears with a mug of tea and a plate of cookies. As she puts them down on an upended wooden crate next to the sofa, she whispers to Steve, “It's okay if you don't drink the tea. He'll just use the leftover to de-grease engines."

“Are the cookies safe?” Steve whispers back.

“You tell me,” says Darcy. “They're a new recipe I'm trying.”

The tea is very strong, very sweet, and very smoky. It's not nearly as bad as Darcy makes it out to be. It's very similar to the Lapsang Souchong that Peggy used to drink constantly, and its smoky, tarry taste reminds him of red lips, seamed stockings and a rapier wit. The cookies are amazing, cranberry-oatmeal and still hot from the oven, and Steve moans as he bites into the first one. He's going to eat the whole plate of them and he doesn't care who knows it.

But first, he's going to see about his bike. He gets up, wandering over towards the work stand where his poor Harley is sitting, his hands cupped around the mug of tea.

James looks up from his examination of the bike and pats the pockets of his jeans. “Darcy? Have you seen my wrench?” he says.

Darcy leans in from the front room, whistling. “Heads up!” she says, throwing the wrench in James' general direction... just in time for Steve to step into its path.

From behind him, Steve hears James' growled “fuck!” and he ducks, but suddenly a body barges in front of him and the wrench is grabbed before it can come into contact with his head. Steve stumbles, startled, and James puts an arm behind him, on his back, to steady him.

Close up, James smells like cinnamon and clean cotton and motor oil and musk. Steve suddenly wishes he'd showered; that he'd worn anything other than his dirty running clothes to drop the bike off. They're both a little startled, and there's a moment where they just stare at each other. James rakes those pale eyes over him, checking that he's okay, before grunting and stepping away, removing his hand as if he's burned it.

“Darcy, your aim remains terrible. Do not throw things.” James says, walking back to the bike and spinning the wrench between his fingers again.

“Sorreeeee,” Darcy cringes in the doorway. “Oh shit I almost brained Captain America i'm just going to go away for a while byeeee.”

James sits down on the stool by Steve's bike, and taps the wrench against his hand. “So I can fix this. Give me two days. One day for parts, one day to put them in. You need a loaner?”

Steve is watching James' long fingers, the way they unconsciously manipulate the wrench. Only when the silence in the workshop lasts for a few seconds too long does he realise he's been asked a question, and he was supposed to answer. “Uh. What?” he says.

“You need to borrow a bike while I'm fixing yours?” James asks. “If so, you can take the Indian.”

“No, I'm okay,” says Steve. “Got nothing planned for the next couple days.” He looks up at James, thinking, I could make some plans. Maybe we could grab a burger or something. Their eyes meet again for a moment and Steve is about to ask, when James looks down, away, blushing slightly, and turns back to the bike. Steve loses his nerve. The guy's obviously not interested in making friends.

“Give Darcy your number, we'll call when it's done,” says James, already taking the cowlings off Steve's bike. Steve gets up to go, but freezes when James turns and glares at him. “Also, next time, don't drive a broken bike. Please. Call us. I'll come in the truck and pick it up. Yes?”

Steve felt annoyance flare up. What was wrong with his life, that even strangers were questioning his choices? “It's not necessary,” he says, a little steel edging into his tone. “I can get myself home. Even if I can't, I heal fast.”

James keeps staring at him and tilts his head. It's both adorable and... strangely intimidating, in a way Steve's not used to from civilians. “You are a soldier. So, healing fast doesn't mean less pain. It just means feeling pain more often. If you want to be an idiot, I can't stop you, but I pick bikes up for our other regulars all the time. Your choice.”

“Um. Okay,” Steve says. His mind can't stop turning over James' words. Usually when he said he healed fast, people would say he was lucky or that must be great or some other platitude. But James had somehow seen through all that to things that Steve didn't even want to admit to himself: that it made people take him for granted. That they assumed his wounds didn't hurt as much, because he got them so often. But they never stopped hurting. They always hurt just like the first time. What had Bree said? I wasn't prepared for real. Maybe she wasn't the only one living behind a veil of pretense.

James grunts and turns his back on him with a certain finality, focusing his attention on the damaged Harley.

Steve goes out to the front office and swaps numbers with a still very contrite Darcy. She's noticed that he ate all the cookies she'd given with the tea, so she thrusts a full tin of them into his hands, mumbling sorry sorry sorry and not meeting his eyes.

The teenage girls are still out front, and now they have autograph books. He ducks out the back.

It's the whole of the six blocks home until he stops feeling butterflies in his stomach.

Steve groans to himself as he unlocks his door to his bland apartment, his few possessions still mostly in boxes. How do you make friends, he asks himself, flopping down on his unmade bed. I don't think I know how to make friends with people outside work.

It had never been much of a problem before. Not until he finally met someone he connected with. Not until James.

He wanted to be the one to make James smile. He wanted to hear what his laugh sounded like. He wanted to--

 

He wanted to run his hands up under that thin t-shirt to see if James' body was as hard and strong as it looked.

He wanted to tangle his fingers in that long dark hair and yank.

He wanted to know what James tasted like.

He wanted.

 

Oh.

 

Oh.

 

Steve palmed the growing, straining bulge in his sweatpants and bit his lip as a fiery warmth sparked up through his stomach and thighs. Shit, he thought, as his mind filled with images of ice-blue eyes and inked skin and red, bowed lips.

Just his luck to develop a crush on the local grease monkey, who was 1) straight and 2) apparently the only person in New York City not interested in Captain America.