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You Can Guard My Life Anytime, Soldier

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“Fuck,” Tony breathed, “it is hot.”

“Which is why I, once again, ask why we are sitting out here and not in one of the shaded cabanas with the fans,” Pepper said lazily as she flipped her magazine page.

“I like the ambiance,” Tony protested.

“You can’t spell ambiance, and you like the new lifeguard,” Pepper replied calmly.

“A-m-beyawnce,” Tony retorted, “and I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

She put down the magazine and peered over her sunglasses at him. “Anthony. I am your roommate and that soundproofing is not as good as you think it is. Do you want me to elucidate further or shall we both just agree to call a spade a spade here?”

He glared at her.

“He’s super dreamy,” she smiled. “Like, 1950s Beach Blanket Bingo dreamy, so if we’re over here to perv on the new guy, I’m not upset, I’d just like to do it openly and not playing one of your elaborate mind games.”

“Steven Grant Rogers, likes to be called Steve,” Tony murmured. “I checked the employment records.”

“Of course you did,” Pepper said. “I thought you promised Darcy you wouldn’t do that any more.”

“I own the place, Virginia, I get to do what I want.”

“Again, I repeat, I thought that after that whole thing with the Norwegian guy last year that you wouldn’t dig through employment records to get phone numbers.”

“I just needed his name, Pep. Screaming ‘blonde lifeguard with the body of a fucking marble statue’ wasn’t really tripping off the tongue.”

Pepper snorted. “Well, I’m going to get an iced tea and I may have them put vodka in it. You want anything?”

Tony shook his head. “I’m speaking at the employee barbeque tonight.”

“Did Natasha threaten your balls again if you showed up drunk?”

“She scares me, Pep.”

“Good,” Pepper replied with a smile. “Someone should.”

As Pepper walked off towards the clubhouse, Tony let his gaze fix once again on the guard in chair 4.

Tony had won the Barnegat Beach Resort five years ago in a bet and it was turning out to be one of his favorite accidental investments since taking over his dad’s hedge fund at 17. Ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, the resort had needed a lot of love that Tony had shocked himself he was happy to give. It gave him a lot of excuses to use his long-dormant love of fixing engines and tinkering with machines and inventing faster ways to make stuff run.

Steven Grant Rogers of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, Tony thought to himself as he observed the man. The guy was retired Army, currently putting himself through art school with some G.I. Bill money and working here for the summer to supplement. Nat told him that he was living with some other summer staff in the dorms Tony had built the season before and was known around the staff as just a really fucking good guy.

He was a designated driver when the staff went out and did freelance graphic design in his spare time. He read like a fiend, supposedly his first request had been for directions to an Ocean County Library branch, and followed baseball like it was a religion. A Mets fan in Phillies territory was a brave act in and of itself, but one Steve seemed to handle with charm. Any time off he had, he spent traveling to Philadelphia to visit someone everyone assumed was family because Steve never talked about it, but also never swapped shifts with anyone.

He was 24-years-old, which was just at the lower limit of Tony’s personal boundary of having five years on either side of his current age as permissible fantasy subjects, and Tony also had a personal policy of not assuming anyone else’s sexuality so for the time being, Steve was staying firmly in the spank bank inventory.

But oh, what an inventory I’m building, Tony smiled to himself as he watched Steve jump down from the chair to help guide a little girl to the first aid station.

“Perv,” a low voice said next to Tony and he grinned.

“Scary Spice! How delightful to see you and I see that Pep’s been telling tales out of school again.”

“Please,” Nat rolled her eyes and sat down in Pep’s vacated lounge chair. “If someone on this planet who is attracted to dudes isn’t into Rogers, I will eat my paycheck. Anyway, we need more ice for the coolers for tonight and we are super shorthanded. Can you run to Wawa for me?”

“Can I do literally anything else?”

She rolled her eyes. “Your irrational hatred of convenience stores mystifies me, but if you want to tinker around with the freezer that just blew a coolant coil, be my guest.”

“It’s so many people in such a small space and they all want processed meats,” Tony said shuddering. “A coil is child’s play, I’ll do that.” When she smiled, he chuckled. “Which was your plan all along.”

“Thanks, boss man. Your tools are in my office.” She patted him on the shoulder and left him digging for his flip flops. With one last glance at his favorite eye candy, Tony headed off to the main building of the club.

____________________

Buck: No fuck, hot dude is your boss?

Steve sighed and kept one eye on everyone around him, making sure that no one could read his phone over his shoulder.

Steve: He owns the place. My boss is Darcy, her boss is Natasha, and Tony Stark signs our paychecks.

Bucky: Tony Stark, like the hedge fund guy?

Steve: Evidently yeah, but I’m not the only one who didn’t know, so there are a lot of folks fawning over him here. It’s weird.

Bucky: It’s weird you’ve been wanking off to the fourth richest guy in America and didn’t know it? #TypicalRogers

Steve: I swear to God, you and Peggy being friends is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

Bucky: Peep Show, man. Greatest show.

Steve rolled his eyes and put his phone back in his pocket, but it buzzed one more time.

Bucky: Sneak some photos to bring on Monday. Give the crip some art, man.

Steve knew if he – once again – reminded Bucky that he wasn’t a cripple that would lead to either more yelling or aggressive GIFing, so he put the phone back in his pocket and headed over to get another beer from the cooler.

“Hey, everyone,” Nat called as she clinked a glass to get all of their attention. “Mr. Stark wants to say a few words before we all head home.”

“For fucks sake, I did not, fine, hello,” Tony muttered the first few words, but Steve was close enough to hear him and had to hide a smile. “To those of you who are spending your first summer with us, welcome! We like to say around here that we take the job seriously but not ourselves, and I hope you find that to be the case.

“I’m Tony and I’m around sometimes, but your real boss is Nat, so make sure to pay attention to her. We have some big celebrations this year, both for members and for the community, so there’s a lot of opportunities to pick up some extra shifts and we’re always looking for more good folks to join the team.

“I know it’s only one week after Memorial Day, but it’s fucking roasting here and all the science says this summer is going to be one of the hottest on record, so please also hydrate and take care of yourselves, etcetera. I pay for a doctor to be here all summer for you guys, so I don’t want to hear any bullshit about not having insurance. This summer, you do, and if I find out you’re being stupid, I’ll have Nat kill you which I think she can do with her thumb.”

“Confirmed,” Nat called from the side of the makeshift stage to a round of laughter.

“So, our next big event is the Pride fest weekend, and then the 4th of July, and we always do a Christmas in July thing for the local kids and there’s a big book drive with the library for that, and then August is when all the New Yorkers come and if you think New Jersey and Pennsylvania folks are pushy, just wait for August and I say that as someone who is a born and bred New Yorker myself, so I know of what I speak. Make sure that we have your end dates for anyone going back to school, and what else….”

Tony snapped his fingers. “Oh yeah, have a great time, okay? And if there’s anything we can do to make a guest have a better time than they’re having, we want to do it. Some of you may not know our model, so let me break it down for you.

“To be a member here is pretty cheap, actually, and the fees are determined on a sliding scale of income. The thing is that you have to be here a certain number of weeks during the season so that it can kind of feel like a family environment. That’s how we get a lot of guests helping with the parties – some of them are more invested in place than I am, and I like it that way.

“There are only three areas of the club that are members only – the showers, the pool, and the east beach bit with the grills. Everything else is also open to the public, which means our parties as well. No one who isn’t staff can be in the dorms and that’s for insurance because I really don’t care who you do in your spare time, I just really hate insurance premiums.

“My main thing is for you guys not to be dicks to each other or the guests and all the normal employment rules apply. If you have any questions, ask Nat or Darcy because they know more than I do anyway. Have a great summer, guys, and if I don’t see you before, I’ll be back for the Pride party as always.”

Tony waved and headed over to were Nat and a red-headed woman were standing to a smattering of applause.

“Why did he say ‘as always?” Someone to Steve’s left asked and the guy standing with them snorted.

“Tony Stark is the pansexual poster child of his generation. Pride is his Christmas.”

Well, we’re going to tuck that away, Steve thought to himself as he fought the blush he knew was creeping up the back of his neck. Instead of dwelling on that, he pulled back out his phone.

Steve: When are you cleared for work?

Bucky: Sam says three more weeks. Why?

Steve: Stark just said they’re always looking for people. Want me to see if maintenance has an opening?

Bucky: Sure, why the fuck not. It’ll be interesting to see what I can do with one hand.

Steve: You have two hands, Buck.

Bucky: I have one hand and a hook thing. Let’s not be crazy here.

Steve: You gotta think positive, jerk.

Bucky: Yeah, yeah. Go hit on your boss.

Steve: No.

Bucky: Actually, don’t. You are terrible at this. Wait until your best wingman gets there.

Steve: I still will not.

Bucky: Challenge accepted.

Steve: FML.

Bucky: That’s what you’ll say to Stark.

Bucky: *eggplant emoji*

Steve: *eyeroll emoji*

Bucky: *hearteyes emoji*