It's Friday night, and Bucky's doing what he often does; set up at his local bar with his 'clearly-in-a-relationship' friends so nobody mistakes him for not being available, knocking back a few drinks and shooting the breeze.
It's enjoyable, but he usually has more fun. Moreso because his friends don't always take the opportunity to besmirch his character and motivations and basically, hang shit on him for a whole hour.
Currently the subject is Bucky's ability to pick up with little to no effort. Personally, he doesn't see that as a bad thing, but Clint and Natasha are feeling the need to pick at him about it tonight.
"I don't get how this is a problem," Bucky says, setting his beer glass down half-full. Or half-empty. Whatever.
"It's not a problem," Clint insists, "it's the exact opposite of a problem. It is, however, supremely unfair."
"It's not like it affects you," Bucky says incredulously, "you've been dating Natasha for years. My -- admittedly, amazing -- ability to pick up literally has zero effect on you."
"I think what Clint is saying -- albeit in a dumbass way -- is that he wishes you had to try harder for it," Natasha explains further. "You know, like the rest of us schmoes."
"Yes, yes, that," Clint says, completely ignoring the insult the statement contains. Bucky screws up his face in disagreement even as Natasha raises her hand and accepts a high-five without so much as casting a glance at her boyfriend.
Bucky scoffs. "You're gorgeous, though," he argues, "t's not like you have a problem, either."
"Perhaps not... I didn't actively go on the prowl like you, however. And if we're talking about having problems picking up, he definitely did." Natasha points to Clint, who nods effusively.
"You two don't exactly have the average perspective of how difficult it is to approach someone and establish a viable connection in the first few moments," Clint says, waving his beer glass around, sloshing liquid over the side. "Your experiences are skewed and decidedly not the norm."
Bucky blinks. "Why Clint... that almost sounds... I dunno. Intelligent, or something." He dissolves into laughter when both Natasha and Clint choose an arm to punch him in. "Okay, okay! That was uncalled for."
Despite the double-thumps from both of them, neither party is offended. Bucky plays with the condensation on his glass. "Look, that's a fair point to make. I know that I have it easy, theoretically." Suddenly, Bucky has a brainwave.
He inclines his body more towards his friends. "So why don't you make it harder for me? Give me a challenge. Let's see if I can overcome it."
Clint doesn't seem sold on the idea, but Natasha immediately looks shrewd. "I want to set some terms."
Bucky shrugs. "Sure."
Natasha thinks for a moment before leaning forward on the table. "Okay. I know you have some truly awful pick-up lines, because I've heard them. I challenge you to... using only the worst of the worst, successfully pick up a person of our choosing."
"Okay..." Bucky leans back in his chair and taps a finger to his lips. "Do I get any veto over who you choose?"
"Nope. But you get to choose as to how far you take it."
Bucky nods. "Well, it's good to know that you're not whoring me out," he says, words carrying more bite than his actual tone.
"You have to use your worst, cheesiest lines, though. That's not up for debate," Natasha tells him.
Clint raises his hand. "Isn't this a little cruel, though? Leading someone on?"
Both Natasha and Bucky shush him. "It's fine," Bucky says. "Harmless bet that I won't let go too far."
"Unless he wants to," Natasha puts in.
"...Unless I want to," Bucky confirms.
Natasha half-hugs Clint. "It's okay, really. Whoever it is, we'll buy them a drink and just tell them the truth. That Bucky's an asshole and we're nice people."
"So let me get this straight," Bucky says, numbering points off on his fingers, "I need to try and pick up someone of your choosing, using nothing but my very worst pick-up lines and... that's it?"
"That's it," Natasha says, spreading her palms out wide.
"What do I get if I can do it?"
"Bragging rights. Plus we'll pick up the tab next Friday."
"And if I can't?"
"Pick up the tab tonight."
Bucky shrugs. The terms seem agreeable. "Okay. Do we shake on it? Make it official?"
Natasha proffers her hand. "Yep." They shake and Natasha furnishes him with a wicked grin. "No taking backsies now... So who's the lucky person, then, I wonder?"
She makes a great show of looking around the bar. For only the second time since Bucky entered, he casts his eye around. Suddenly, he's second-guessing agreeing to let Natasha and Clint make the choice.
The fact is, they could pick anyone... Anyone.
Dread must show on his face, because Natasha starts to laugh. Because she's a horrible friend. "Are you planning on picking any women? Because I haven't changed my stance, I'm still hella gay."
"What are you worried about, Buck? You don't have to follow through, remember," Natasha fake-soothes.
"I wouldn't mind seeing if he can pick up women with horrible lines," Clint muses.
"Keep in mind, women are less likely to see the funny side of a bet like this," Bucky says quickly, with sudden visions of him getting punched, slapped, or drinks thrown in his face.
"That's true," Natasha grudgingly admits.
"Also, now that I think of it... we're in a queer bar, so the likelihood he's hitting on a lesbian is, y'know, high," Clint puts in.
"Also true," Natasha agrees. "Any women in here are probably not expecting a dude to come up and hit on them, anyway. I'll concede that." She elbows her boyfriend in the side. "Let's choose a worthy candidate for Bucky-bear."
She makes a show of looking around, whispering to Clint occasionally. Bucky tries to see where they might be considering, but they're both playing it cool. All he can do is sit and drink his beer while they decide. He drums his fingertips against the table. It's a nerve-wracking prospect, but he'd be lying if he wasn't slightly excited by the challenge.
A few minutes later, both Natasha and Clint sit back in their chairs, smug radiating. Bucky cocks an eyebrow and puts his beer down, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "Okay... who's the lucky guy, then?"
Clint nods in the direction of the corner of the bar. "Blondie in the corner, grey button-down, sleeves rolled up."
Bucky grins and looks around, only for the smile to freeze on his face.
Blondie in the corner. AKA the really attractive guy Bucky had already clocked when he entered the bar -- and a few times before -- the one he'd had every intention of approaching a little later. The one who hit all of Bucky's buttons, and then some.
And he has to go up and use the absolute worst pick-up lines in his arsenal. The ones that'll guarantee any actual chance at having a drink with him is likely shot to hell. That is, y'know, if the guy he's sitting with isn't a boyfriend already.
Bucky doesn't bash his forehead against the tabletop repeatedly by sheer force of will.
Well, at least that takes away the moral ambiguity of letting him down if the lines crash and burn. On the off chance Blondie doesn't laugh him out of the bar, he'd go there. He'd definitely go there.
Fuck his life.
Bucky tries to unfreeze his smile and turns back to Natasha. "You sure. Looks kinda easy," he says, deceptively calm.
"Yeah, well, we thought we'd be nice to you, bro," Clint smirks.
"We know your type," Natasha adds, booping him condescendingly on the nose.
"Thanks," he says with fake enthusiasm. As he turns back to look at their chosen subject, Blondie's cute friend gets up from their table, leaving him alone.
Bucky stands and downs the last of his beer, dusting hands on the back of his jeans. "Well, I've got a dreamboat to charm, don't wait up."
Clint whoops loudly and Nat slaps his ass as he leaves. Bucky grimaces and rubs his stinging right butt-cheek. Natasha's slaps are legendary.
Words flit through his head as he makes his approach, trying to pick out something that he considers bad, but hopefully won't get him entirely humiliated.
"Sooooooo... see anyone interesting out there?" Sam asks, and Steve rolls his eyes.
"Are we doing this again? Because the answer's gonna be the same as last time," he bites back with little vitriol. Sam's his friend, after all.
"I know, I know. We talked about this, though," Sam bumps their shoulders together. "You don't put yourself out there enough. You work long hours, sure--" he mentions before Steve has a moment to protest, "--but plenty of people do and still have fulfilling personal lives as well."
"You're saying i'm not fulfilled? I'm plenty fulfilled!"
"Just... It's okay to give people a chance," Sam says. He drains his glass and slaps Steve on the shoulder. "Okay. Hang tight, I'll be back."
Steve nods and watches Sam leave. It's not the first time he's heard the 'take more risks!' speech from Sam, but it's been the first time he's heard it since he sky-dived as a brazen 'fuck you' in response to the last lecture.
He knows where Sam's coming from, though, and it's not a malicious place. Steve has a worrying tendency to avoid cultivating any sort of connection with people he doesn't already know. His work excuse is generally just that: An excuse.
It's not that he doesn't want new relationships, it's just they seem like so much effort. Even when people come to him and he doesn't have to lift a finger to initiate, he rarely ends up letting them in.
Maybe Steve should give it a try. He knows he's not a lost cause; he has a good job, a big heart, an off-the-wall sense of humour... oh, and he's not too bad to look at, either.
Steve's staring at his steadily depleting beer supply when he notices someone walking towards him.
It's a hot brunet in fitted jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. His walk has a little swagger to it, which is cute, but not over-the-top. He's attractive enough that Steve's casual interest is piqued, and he sits up straighter in his chair.
There's a clever light shining in his eyes, and Steve cocks an eyebrow. Hoping against hope maybe the brunet has just as much going on the inside as he does on the outside. If he's about to turn over a new leaf and at least try getting to know a perfect stranger... he might as well start with this guy.
Bucky stops at Steve's table and stands there, cocking his hip to the side, pasting a charming smile on his face. Steve arches a brow in expectation.
"You know," he starts, and Steve finds his voice husky and pleasant, "if I had a nickel for every time I saw someone as beautiful as you, I'd have five cents."
There's a pregnant pause in which Steve and Bucky stare at one another, before Steve bursts into hysterical laughter. He has to clutch his stomach, it hurts so much.
Bucky inwardly winces to see the incredibly attractive man laugh so hard directly at him, but he stiff-upper-lips it and keeps the smile plastered on his face.
Steve eventually stops laughing, and looks up into Bucky's face. "Oh, that was something," he wheezes.
"Something good?" Bucky tests the water.
"Something absolutely awful. I mean, really, that was horrendous."
Weeeell, as sketchy as the concept was, that wasn't actually a 'No, go away'. And the line actually was terrible.
Bucky chucks his thumb over his shoulder. "See my friends over there?" he asks, gesturing to Clint and Natasha.
Steve peers around Bucky and sees a blond and a redhead who look over in his direction and wave cheesily.
"Yeah," Steve says slowly. "What about 'em?"
Bucky leans forward and leans both palms on the table, resting his weight on them. It brings him close to Steve's face. He drops his voice, like imparting some kind of secret. "They wanna know if you think I'm cute."
Steve blurts out another snorting laugh, and Bucky knows it's ugly, but also kind of cute at the same time. "Oh wow, that's also terrible," he says, but can't help smiling a little.
Bucky's mouth turns up at the corners a little. Surely Clint and Nat can't expect every single word he speaks to be a zinger, just most. Besides, it would really help him if he had a little more information at his disposal. "What's your name?" he asks, cocking his head to the side.
"Steve," Steve answers and holds out his hand to shake, possibly against his better judgment, but this is the most interesting conversation he's had with a stranger in months. "You?"
"Bucky," Bucky responds, taking Steve's hand and shaking it. Rather than let it go, however, he holds on gently to the blond's hand, thumb brushing over the skin rhythmically. "Now Steve, Steve... with eyes as blue as window cleaner, when I first saw you, I knew that we could win the Stanley Cup in tonsil hockey."
Bucky says the lines with such gravitas, Steve can't help a big grin. Because it's absurd is what it is. These are the fucking worst lines in history, and they are most definitely not working.
The smile is bright and sweet and kinda cheeky-looking. And Bucky is legitimately momentarily stunned by its beauty. "Oh wow," Bucky enthuses, "did the sun come out or did you just smile at me?"
Every line is awful. Awful. But while the lines are on the nose, Bucky doesn't seem to be sleazing onto him physically, which is odd. Just using every shit-house pick-up line in the book.
A light goes off in Steve's head... because maybe that's the point. And if it is... two could play at that game.
"I see what you're doing," Steve says shrewdly, and Bucky gives him a not-suspicious side-eye.
Steve bites his lip, wondering whether he has the nerve to continue. With Sam's words about putting himself out there ringing in his ears, he tries. "I wish I were an ion," he begins slowly.
Bucky seems confused. "What?"
"I wish I were an ion," Steve repeats, "so I could form an exothermic bond with you."
Bucky is stunned into silence for a handful of heartbeats, before he starts howling with laughter. "Are you shitting me?" he says to Steve, who merely gives a shrug back.
"Wow," Bucky exhales and shakes his head, pleased beyond belief. Suddenly this challenge has gotten a lot more interesting. "You know, I play the field, but it looks like I hit a home run with you."
Steve chuckles and allows himself a few moments to look Bucky over properly. Bucky seems to slightly posture under his gaze, and Steve's okay with that. The more he looks, the more there is to like. "So I have to know what's easier; you getting into those tight pants or getting you out of them?"
Bucky laughs delightedly. He can keep this going. Indefinitely, if needed. He clutches at his heart dramatically. "I was wondering if you had an extra heart on you, mine seems to be stolen."
Steve laughs and squeezes the back of his neck shyly. He's sure his cheeks are going mildly pink, but that's okay. It's not every day he gets to trade shitty pickup lines with a cute guy. "Are we gonna do this for the entire conversation?" he asks.
"Why not? I'm easy," Bucky shrugs. He motions to Sam's empty chair, and Steve nods. Bucky slides smoothly into it and gestures to Steve. "Are you?"
The pink flush on Steve's cheeks deepens. He says the first thing that comes to mind, which is, to be fair, scraping the bottom of the barrel. "If you were a booger, I would pick you first."
The look of revulsion on Bucky's face is worth it. He screws up his nose and pokes his tongue out. "Disgusting," he remarks. "You smell... we should go take a shower together."
The moment that Steve's trying not to swallow his tongue is when Sam returns. He looks at Bucky in his seat and cocks an eyebrow. Steve gestures between the two of them. "Sam, Bucky... Bucky, Sam."
Sam reaches his hand out to shake, and Bucky takes it tentatively, becoming more confident as the seconds pass. He figures if Sam were Steve's boyfriend, there'd be a lot more posturing and yelling.
"Nice to meet you, Bucky," Sam says, a wry smile curving his face, before turning to Steve. "Having fun?"
Steve nods, vainly trying to keep from being embarrassed by his best friend. Bucky smiles charmingly in Sam's direction. "Nice to meetcha, Sam. Do you like to dance?"
Sam gives a little smile. "Yeah, I do, actually."
"Awesome," Bucky responds. "Could you go dance so I can talk to your friend?"
It's a risky move, one that could come across as so douche-y, or even end in physical violence. Steve's eyes widen impossibly large, and he's ready to run interference, but Sam is just too cool for words. His eyebrows go up, and he gives Bucky a '... really?' expression, but he must be picking up on Steve's desperate, pleading signals to leave them alone for a bit longer.
"Sure, why not," he says, giving a magnanimous smile, and pats Steve on the shoulder. "Behave," he says, before giving Bucky a funny 'I'm watching you' hand-gesture and walking back to the bar.
"Speaking of drinks..." Bucky says as he turns his attention back to Steve, "you're nearly all done. Did you want a Gin and platonic, or would you prefer a Scotch and sofa?"
Steve closes his eyes and shakes his head. "Wow, I'm not sure these are getting better or worse..."
"Weeeell, let's face it; I'm hot, you're hot, and we both know you've got a crush on me," Bucky says, leaning forward and ghosting a hand over the back of Steve's. The touch sends Steve's pulse racing.
He's smiling so wide his cheeks hurt. It's honestly the first time in ages he's felt so... reckless? Free-spirited? In-the-moment? He's not quite sure, but it's been a while since he's felt that fluttery excitement talking to someone. And if they stop speaking in awful pickup lines, Bucky might be someone he'd actually like to get to know better.
Steve chews on his bottom lip. "I'm no mathematician," he beings, "but I'm pretty good with numbers. Tell you what, give me yours and watch what I can do with it."
Bucky whistles. Steve is actually getting cuter and more interesting by the second. He could've believed the 'cuter' part easily, but the 'more interesting' fact is definitely a welcome surprise. Pulling out his phone, he passes it to Steve. "Hey, if a fat man puts you in a bag at night, don't worry. I told Santa Claus I wanted you for Christmas.
Steve plugs in his phone number, double-checking he has the right digits. Bucky takes the phone back and immediately pulls up his texts. He looks deliberately at the number and spends a few moments typing.
Steve's pocket vibrates a second later. Bucky's sitting across from him looking smug, so Steve makes a point to look at his messages.
[21:39] Unknown number
Are you a tamale? Cuz you're hottttt
Steve chuckles. "Well, I'd best tie your shoes together, I don't want you falling for anyone else."
Be still his fucking heart. Bucky might be a little in love with this idiot.
He also thinks the experiment has been successful enough, and he's more than met Nat's conditions.
Bucky stands and holds a hand out to Steve. "Hey... d'you wanna, I dunno, get out of here? Find some food?"
Steve only has to consider the prospect for a moment before he takes Bucky's hand. "Sure. Lemme just--" he gestures to the bar where Sam is having a chat to the bartender. He quickly ducks over and explains to Sam he's leaving. His friend is remarkably calm about being abandoned, telling Steve in no uncertain terms to 'have fun' and 'be safe'.
Cheeks flaming, Steve turns around to see Bucky standing at his original table with his friends, talking furiously. Steve goes up to collect him. The duo stare at Steve with unblinking eyes as he approaches.
Bucky's finished gloating to Clint and Nat about winning their stupid challenge when Steve turns up, looking adorable and shy and beefcake-y. "Steve!" Bucky greets warmly, "what's a nice boy like you doing in a dirty mind like mine?"
Clint groans audibly and Natasha makes gagging noises, but Steve grins. Bucky slings an arm around Steve's waist and waves goodbye to his friends, but not before he can mouth 'I win' like an asshole.
They find a shitty neightbourhood hole-in-the-wall place that is open late to service drunks -- and it serves tamales, of all things -- and talk.
Turns out, they're actually kind of compatible, and isn't that the most fucking awesome thing Bucky's had happen for a while. They sit across from each other, eating delicious tamales and kinda-sorta playing footsie under the table with one another.
And they still speak in bad pickup lines every once in a while.
Steve feels the atmosphere get charged the more he speaks to Bucky. From footsie, to occasionally brushing fingers together while reaching for the same condiments, he's feeling antsy in his skin the longer he makes eye contact with Bucky. He thinks Bucky feels it, too, judging by the way he's constantly licking his lips and dropping his gaze to Steve's own.
Eventually, Bucky clears his throat, ankle coming to rub up against Steve's. "So... mind if I end this sentence in a proposition?"
Steve smiles indulgently. "Go ahead," he says.
"Are you gonna kiss me or do I have to lie to my diary?"
Steve gives the sweetest, throaty chuckle. With deliberate calm, rises from the dilapidated booth sofa and leans across the table. Bucky moves to meet him half-way. Their lips touch, and starbursts fire behind Steve's eyelids. Bucky's mouth tingles.
The kiss starts to deepen, but Steve's all-too-aware of their awkward position. He pulls back slightly, Bucky chasing his lips, eyes half-lidded and fluttering, and Steve's not seen anything so goddamned sexy in his life.
"So, uh..." Bucky says, licking his lips desperately, "My bedroom has a very interesting ceiling."
Steve stares at Bucky for a long moment, before biting into his plump lower lip. "I would very much like to see this."
Steve's back is pushed against the doorframe of Bucky's bedroom, Bucky's mouth sealed on top of his, tongue in his mouth. Steve pushes Bucky's jacket off his shoulders, and with a little help, it hits the floor with a soft sound. He's kissing past Bucky's mouth and down his jaw, while Bucky untucks Steve's shirt and gets hands on his torso.
"Wow," Bucky murmurs out, running his hands along the blond's abs. "The only reason I would kick you out of bed would be to fuck you on the floor."
Steve snorts out a laugh into the curve of Bucky's neck, before scraping his teeth along the tendon, and Bucky shudders.
With a pull, Bucky pops a few of Steve's buttons in an effort to get his shirt off, and maybe leaves a few fingernail scrape marks on Steve's arms.
Simultaneously, quick fingers work at Bucky's belt and fly, opening his jeans enough so that a triangle of fabric of his underwear is showing. They're slightly too tight to do much more than sag on his hips a little, but it's enough for more friction from a strategically placed, and well-muscled thigh. Steve is into everything Bucky is dishing out as well as giving a lot back, too, and damn, Bucky didn't actually think his night was going to end so well--
Bucky stops biting into the firm curve of Steve's shoulder and laves his tongue over the bite soothingly. Steve groans, fingers skimming the brunet's lower back beneath his jeans' waistband.
"Before we get too far," Bucky pants, still pressing kisses over Steve's delectable deltoid, "you should know that my friends bet me to pick you up using only the very worst pick-up lines in my arsenal."
Steve's hands stop moving and he meets Bucky's eyes for one, very serious moment, before giving his bitten shoulder a shrug. "'kay."
"You're fine with that?" Bucky double-checks, stalling his movements.
Steve's lips curve in a wry grin, and he brushes his fingers across Bucky's cheekbone. "I had your sister last year, and she sucked. Wanna defend your family honour?"
Bucky makes an outraged noise. He grabs Steve by the arms and turns him around. "My sister's a saint!" he announces, before guiding Steve backwards and pushing him down onto the bed. Bucky takes a moment to peel his jeans off before he jumps onto the mattress, straddling Steve's hips.
Steve has messy hair and a kiss-swollen mouth, bite marks on his shoulders and one on his pec. Bucky's got a hickey at the juncture of his shoulder and neck, a rumpled, half-unbuttoned shirt, and half-hard dick pressing into the crotch of Steve's trousers.
Grinding down and kissing Steve is so hot, Bucky feels a little light-headed. Those huge hands come to cup his head and waist respectively, and it's gentle and urgent in equal measure. Steve can't help lifting his hips for friction against Bucky's body, delighted and the groans it punches out of the brunet.
Bucky starts snaking down Steve's body, planting stinging bites and soothing kisses all the way down Steve's torso. Steve lies back and lets the sensation take him, staring up with glazed eyes.
"Wow, there ya go," he says in a mystified tone.
Bucky lifts his head from Steve's hip in confusion. "What?" he queries.
"Your ceiling really is interesting," Steve remarks.
Taking a moment to process his words, Bucky allows himself a slow smirk, fingers working at Steve's zipper.
"I told you so," he says as he sinks back down, and soon, Steve isn't thinking of ceilings anymore.
It's Friday night, and Bucky's doing what he often does; set up at his local bar with his 'clearly-in-a-relationship' friends, knocking back a few drinks and shooting the breeze.
Only this time...
A tall, gorgeous blond slides onto the stool next to Bucky after a shy hug hello, sitting close enough that their thighs brush under the table. Clint and Natasha both stare at the both of them with something akin to disbelief.
"Steve, this is Clint and Nat. Clint and Nat; Steve." Bucky gives a little grin as Steve motions a small wave at Natasha, and reaches across to shake Clint's hand.
Clint waves the waitress over and Bucky encourages Steve to order a drink. They make smalltalk until she returns with four bottles of some craft beer.
"How would you like to pay?" the waitress asks Natasha.
"Put these on our tab," she says, gesturing to her and Clint's drinks.
Their server smiles nicely, before turning to Bucky and Steve. "And your drinks, sir?"
"Put these on her tab," Bucky announces, bumping his leg against Steve's.
The protests start immediately. "We didn't agree to pay for the both of you," Clint says at the same time Natasha states, "That wasn't part of the agreement."
"Surely you remember saying last week 'pick up the tab', don't you?" Bucky reminds them. "You didn't say I couldn't bring someone along."
Clint frowns as though he's trying to recall the conversation, but Nat looks sharp and annoyed. She knows what she said. With the waitress still waiting at their table, Natasha grudgingly nods her head and agrees, letting the girl beat a hasty retreat.
"You're an asshole, Barnes," she frowns.
"A thirsty asshole," he counters, "let's toast."
Bucky's congratulating himself internally and misses Natasha's shrewd gaze until she's already holding up her bottle.
"To Bucky and Steve, who hooked up because we bet Bucky to pick him up using horrible lines," Natasha says sweetly, before affecting a surprised look. "Oh my goodness, I probably shouldnt've let that spill..."
Clint gasps audibly. Even for Nat that's a bit of a dick move.
Steve, however merely smiles and still clinks their bottles together. "Oh, I know." He gives Bucky the dumbest, gooiest expression. "When Bucky looked deep into my eyes and told me he was a burglar and was gonna smash my back door in--" there's a slight pause as Clint spits his mouthful of beer out all over the floor, but Steve continues unabashed, "--I knew he was the man of my dreams."
There's a moment of dead silence, before Clint groans, looking to be in physical pain. "That's the worst. You're the worst," he says before turning Natasha. "What have we done?" he whispers.
Nat's mouth twists in disgust, but it comes nowhere near her eyes, which are crinkling at the corners. "You deserve each other. Ugh," she says, taking a long pull of her beer.
Bucky bites his bottom lip savagely to keep from laughing. He turns to Steve and toasts their bottles privately. "Well, on a scale of one to ten, Steve, you're a nine and I'm the one you need."