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Don't judge a book

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“There’s that nerd.”

Steve was jolted back into the present when he heard one of his old friends speak. He’d been looking around the gym and trying to remember what it had looked like when he’d been a student there. Not a lot had changed really, but there had been less alcohol and fewer decorations, no fairy lights and no stage set up along one wall. Even so, it was familiar. Comforting even, in a weird sort of way. It had been ten years since he’d graduated high school and left the place behind, but Steve had still felt something settle inside of him when he’d walked back through those doors.  


“Over there,” Chad said, pointing to the other side of the gym. “Oh, what was his name?”


Steve resisted rolling his eyes. The others around him all laughed as though that was the funniest joke they’d ever heard. Adam threw his arm over Steve’s shoulders and Steve resisted the urge to shrug him off.

“You remember him, right? God, he used to have such a crush on you. He’d follow you round after practice like a lost dog.”

“Pathetic little fag,” Callum sneered, prompting another round of laughter. 

Oh, yeah. Steve knew there was a reason Bucky had beaten Callum up so many times in school. Don’t cause a scene, he chanted in his head. Don’t cause a sceneSteve. Not here, not now. At least wait until 9pm.

“What the fuck did you just say?” Whoops. So much for that idea. But really, these guys were being dicks.

Callum’s face screwed up in confusion, but before he could say anything, Kyle re-joined them, his hands precariously cradling a round of shots. Ugh, great. That’s all these guys needed.

Christ, he was glad he’d stopped talking to these guys years ago. He hadn’t even recognised them when they’d walked in. Steve had been running majorly late and hadn’t gotten there right at the start of the reunion event, walking in and searching around for his date, ignoring everything else going on. It had been Kyle that had called out to him, beckoning him over to the group. It had taken him a minute to recognise his old football team and Steve really wished he hadn’t.

As soon as high school had finished, Steve had practically thrown his football kit back at the gym teacher and legged it, getting out of the town and not looking back. He hadn’t kept it touch with any of his ‘friends’, not on Facebook or anything. It was only Bucky that had stuck with him, but that was Bucky. He wasn’t going anywhere.

“God, this school was full of fucking nutters, wasn’t it? 

Steve barely held back his sneer at Kyle’s words. This group were the nutters, not anyone else. The only reason he’d stayed on the damn team was to secure a football scholarship that got him into college. Thank fuck that the guys on his college team had been actual adults, liberal minded and accepting. Imagine if he’d been stuck with these dickheads for four more years. Steve shuddered as he sipped his beer. 

Zoning out of the conversation going on around him, Steve let his gaze wander around the gym. It wasn’t long before he caught sight of the ‘nerd’ that they’d been talking about and he felt a familiar swoop in his stomach. Before he had a chance to act on it, to lift his hand or smile or something, the man’s attention was called away by someone Steve wasn’t sure he recognised, and he was pulled back into the conversation anyway.

“What do you think, Steve?”


“Callum has the least game.”

Steve resisted rolling his eyes. He really didn’t care, but he had no excuse to leave yet.

“Yeah,” Adam agreed with a laugh, “like last month when you struck out with that slut in the bar.” 

God. Steve tried his hardest not to grimace. Of course they were all still friends who hung out. Guys like them always stayed in their packs. 

“Whatever. At least I have a life.” Steve looked over to Callum. He knew what was coming; men like this prick always pushed the attention off themselves by bullying someone else. “Not like that fucking nerd. I bet he wasn’t even that clever.”

“He went to MIT actually.” 

There was silence after Steve’s snapped comment before Adam scoffed. “Nah, there’s no way.”

Steve rolled his eyes. “He did. Trust me.”

“What? The fag kept in touch? Did he follow you around campus at college as well? Begging for scraps under the table.” 

Steve’s hands curled into fists at his sides and he was about to abandon his not causing a scene rule when Isaiah got an idea.

“I dare you to ask him out.” 

What? Oh my god, were these people serious? Isaiah had been quiet until then and Steve had been holding out some hope that he wasn’t as much of a dick as the others were.

Chad laughed loudly and clapped Isiah on the back. “Dude. Awesome idea. I’d fucking pay to see that.” 

“Are you serious?” Steve couldn’t keep the disgust from his voice as he grimaced at the men in front of him.

“$50. Ask the nerd out on a date. Oh, Christ. It’ll be like prom all over again.” 

“Wait,” Steve turned to Isiah slowly, eyes narrowed and tone deadly. “You asked him to prom?”

Chad snorted unattractively as Isiah looked scandalised. “Of course not.”

Steve was just about to relax when Isiah chuckled. “I asked him to homecoming though. We had a right laugh. Little dickhead thought someone actually fancied him. Ha! Just imagine.”


Jesus. How did Steve stomach these people for even long enough to play one match in high school? These people were vile. Bullies even now, years after their teenage years had ended. They were just dicks and Steve wanted to deck them all.

“I’ll raise you.”

Steve looked at Adam and barely repressed his sigh. Adam held Steve’s gaze and crossed his arms across his chest, a smug look covering his handsome face and making him look positively ugly.

“Make it a kiss and we’ll give you 100 bucks.”

What the ever living fuck? “You want me to kiss a guy we went to high school with for $100?” 

Callum laughed, the sound nasty and grating to Steve’s ears. “Well, obviously don’t actually kiss him. Just get close enough and then pull away. Dude, it would be the best entertainment I’d have had in weeks. He’d absolutely cream his pants, thinking the big football star wants him after all this time. The look on his face when he’ll see it’s all a bet, oh man.”

Adam chortled, bent over as he clutched at Callum’s shoulder. “Oh, just imagine. Dude, get your camera ready.”

What the actual fuck was wrong with these people? They were disgusting. Just vile people and Steve wanted to scream at them all, to take a leaf from Bucky’s book and knock them all out.

“Aren’t we a little old to be doing things like this? It’s been 10 years since high school. We’re better than this.”

“Not for that little shit.”

But then again, $100 was $100, Steve supposed. Might as well get it from these fucktards than have to work for it. 

Steve looked over to the man now standing on his own again, leaning back against the gym wall. He looked bored out of his mind, but so impeccably beautiful. His dark hair was perfectly styled and his suit looked as though it was painted on, his features so defined even from so far away. Steve turned back to the group of guys staring at him like he could make or break their Christmas.

“Give me the money first and then I’ll do it.”




His legs shook a little as he walked over to the man. Was Steve really going to do this? He had had such a crush on the other man in high school and the guy had only grown up to be more attractive.

When the man turned his head and met Steve’s gaze, Steve’s heart thumped wildly in his chest and he started walking faster, dodging the crowds without breaking their eye contact. Steve barely slowed down as he crossed the gym and drew level with the man of his goal. He reached out and took the man’s face between his hands, bending just enough to catch those beautifully full lips with his own, tongue darting out to taste. The kiss was a long one and Steve moaned into it happily, changing the angle to deepen it.

“Well, hello to you too, handsome.”

Steve broke into a smile and swept his thumb over Tony’s cheekbone.

“You made it then,” Tony said, his smile wide and his eyes dancing, “I thought I was gonna have to send out a search party.”

“I got held up. You know how it is.”

Tony hummed, his gaze drifting from Steve’s face. “Oh yes. The delightful football team. I did wonder when they’d catch you.” He paused and readjusted his grip on Steve’s shoulders, his hands absent-mindedly drifting up to play with his hair. “Why are they all staring at me like you’ve turned purple?”

“Huh?” Steve said distractedly, before he followed Tony’s eyeline over his shoulder. “Oh, them… right.” He dug into his pocket and lifted up $100. “Fancy dinner?”

Tony’s mouth fell open and he laughed in disbelief. “They didn’t!”

“Oh yeah,” Steve grinned, “those fucking idiots just gave me $100 to make out with my fiancé. Champagne? It’s on them.”