Steve shifted the cord-bound receiver of the phone to rest between his shoulder and chin while pulling a small handheld device, confusingly also called a phone, closer to his face. He read the message there one more time.
“—is this ‘You Know Who I Am’?”
He tried not to let his confusion out too clearly, but he was pretty sure it was a lost cause.
“Apparently not,” a glib voice on the other end of the line answered. “It’s also not, ‘I Know Who You Are,’ but I would love to fix that.”
Steve flushed, remembering the incident.
He had been stopped at a red light, waiting to turn right.
(SHIELD had issued him a driver’s licence, but there was one small problem: Steve had never actually learned to drive. During the war, he had learned to use a motorcycle well enough, and tanks were old hat at this point, but a standard American car, in a city full of pedestrians and civilians...? That combination still made Steve nervous. Steve had bluffed and covered when SHIELD handed him the license, then promptly stuck to his bike whenever possible.)
So he was stopped at a red light, waiting to turn right, which it turned out was something of a taboo nowadays (or maybe back then? Steve wasn’t sure), and then he had gotten distracted by the driver of the car behind him. The car itself was a beautiful thing, all top-down convertible in fire-engine red, gold trim and aggressive curves. Steve wanted it, and Steve categorically did not want any car.
But it was a very nice car.
With, Steve couldn’t help but notice, a very handsome driver.
A very handsome driver who did not understand why Steve was stopped at the red light, and was verging on irritated... until he saw that Steve was staring at him.
Then he stared back.
Handsome Car Guy paused, looked down, did something in his lap... Steve’s phone buzzed in his jacket. Steve pulled it out and looked—what the heck was an “airdrop”?!! Certainly not what Steve usually meant by the phrase—and then the light changed, and Steve drove off, and that was that.
But Handsome Car Guy really was handsome, and Steve now had his number, and the “therapist” SHIELD had assigned Steve over his strenuous objections had been encouraging him to get back into the world more...
Also, Steve kind of thought it might annoy Coulson. There really wasn’t any downside to that.
So Steve was calling, but he didn’t have any idea what to say. “I, uh... You were driving behind me?” he started. “In a very nice car.”
“All my cars are nice.”
“Okay,” Steve snorted, unimpressed by that.
“What, you don’t think so?”
“How many cars can you possibly need?” Steve asked automatically, then checked the impulse. “Nevermind. I was on a bike, you sent me your number—”
“Oh!” The stranger’s voice warmed abruptly. “Oh, yes, I remember you... Too transfixed by my beauty to turn—”
“That’s not how it went.”
“Really? Sure seems like it—”
“Transfixed by the car’s beauty, maybe—”
“Look, Broad Shoulders, do you want to have sex or not?”
Steve felt his breath leave his chest in an explosive rush.
He did, was the thing. He hadn’t, before—never got the chance, and wasn’t sure he would have been surefooted enough to take it if he had gotten one—and it seemed like the sort of thing...
Working for SHIELD... It wasn’t going to last. He knew that, the same way he knew where the shield (little S) was going to go when he threw it, the same way he knew when a tactic was going to work in the field. He wasn’t built for subterfuge, and while SHIELD did occasionally need his particular talents and abilities, they didn’t need them often enough for Steve to justify staying with them for too much longer.
They weren’t at war, anymore. Or at least, they weren’t at war with an enemy he could pin down.
It made a difference.
Ideally, Steve would find an alternate purpose in life, something else to do with himself. Ideally. But the thing was, there weren’t too many options out there for a guy like him. Cop? Definitely not. Sports? Pretty sure the serum counted as cheating. Firefighter? Maybe if the fires were supersized.
And came with dragons. Dragons could be good...
But failing dragons, Steve’s other option was to stick with SHIELD until something better came along. And he already knew, something better wasn’t likely to do any coming. So he was sticking with SHIELD... until he wasn’t.
Until it killed him, basically. Which, if his team continued to fuck up the way they had two weeks ago, was only just a matter of time.
Steve thought it was a pretty mediocre goal to not be a virgin when that moment came.
And on the plus side, Dr. Chan—“Call me Marie,” she had said, even though they both knew Steve was never, ever going to call her Marie—Dr. Chan had said this was good for him. Really, she would be so happy...
“Sure,” Steve said into the phone, still breathless because, where he came from, this wasn’t something you just said like that. “I’d love to.”
“Great! See you tonight.”
Apparently, the guy on the other end of the line—Steve really should get his name at some point—was some kind of a tech guru, because a second later, Steve’s phone lit up again, this time with a time, an address, and a guide to what he should wear. The last line of the invite read:
Definitely bring the bike.