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The Private Detective and the Bootlegger

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Steve settled into his advantage point, across from Stark’s place of business and tried to relax. He had shadowed Stark as much as he could, nearly losing him at one point, and he hoped the man would stay in one place for a while. It wasn’t that he was tired, he could do this all day, but there was a thought that he was being played with. Stark wasn’t stupid; in fact, Steve knew that Stark had a talented mind that could be put to better pursuits. He stayed where he was, keeping a good eye of the door while in the diner across the street.

He was drinking his third cup of coffee this stop when a man slid into the booth across from him. He raised an eyebrow at the man with dark blonde hair and blue eyes just looked at him. “Do you need something?”

“Why are you following Stark?” he asked.

“Nothing better to do today.”

The man smiled at that. “Really?”

“Slow day. Considering you know who I am, who are you?”

“Clint Barton,” he said. “Head of Stark’s security, so you can understand why I’m curious about you.”

I always do forget to ask about something Steve thought as he looked at the man across from him. Not much in a fight, maybe, but he heard that the man was deadly with a gun. “I didn’t realize that I was a high priority.”

“More that the boss is curious.”

“He gets like that a lot?” Steve asked, sipping at his coffee. “You want anything? Considering I’m taking up your time, you could kill two birds with one stone.”

“You talked me into it,” Clint said and ordered a coffee when the waitress came back around. “Why are you looking into my boss?”

“I was asked politely.”

Clint raised an eyebrow. “By whom?”

“I don’t reveal my clients; it’s bad form,” Steve replied.

“You’re a private detective, so it was a woman,” Clint said. “Ex-girlfriend?”

“Does he have any?”

“Why do you think we left New York?” Clint asked, smirking.

“Better job.”

“Ah,” Clint said, watching the waitress put the coffee down and waited for her to walk away. “Well, I can see you’ve already formed an opinion, so I’ll take my coffee in the spirit it was offered.”

“Of course I have; it’s against the wrong and illegal.”

“Then report it,” Clint said and smiled at Steve just sitting back. “You didn’t think about doing that? Others have and there’s been raids here and there. Helps to have a good lawyer and other people to help you get out of a sticky place. So, you can do what you want and you have your judgments. But you should know that he doesn’t care and he doesn’t judge. It looks that way but, in the end? Nah.”

“You’re paid to say that.”

Clint chuckled. “I’m paid to make sure he doesn’t die. The rest comes from knowing him. And you’re not going to do that sitting out here. The real reason I came over is that he wanted to invite you in. Open invite; anytime the place is open, you’re allowed to come in.”

“I’ll think about it.”

Clint shrugged and finished up his coffee. “Suit yourself. And thanks for the coffee,” he said, getting up and getting his jacket and hat. “Helps that you’re his type too – he’s got a thing for blondes.”

Steve’s mouth went dry at hearing that, but just nodded his head. He let go of the breath he didn’t even know he was holding as Clint turned and walk away. He tried to lift his cup of coffee but his hand was shaking. “Damn it Rogers, get it together,” he muttered under his breath. He was able to get it under control and finished the current cup before paying and leaving the diner. He was half way back to the office when he realized he was being followed. He turned around to see a well-dressed man in a black suit with smart looking black sunglasses. “Can I help you?”

“I believe we can help each other, Captain Rogers,” the man said. “A lot of people don’t remember your rank, do they?”

“Didn’t do anything special, really,” Steve replied, raising an eyebrow. “You didn’t really answer my question though.”

“Best to go back to the office to do that,” the man said.

Steve turned sharply on his heel and led the way to a dark alley. “Good as place as any. So, who are you?”

“Agent Phil Coulson of the Treasury Department,” he said, showing Steve his credentials. “Specifically belonging to the Bureau of Prohibition.”

“So you’re shadowing Stark as well?”

“It can be called that,” Coulson said. “More that I’m under cover for a part of the Bureau that’s not under Ness. He’s going after Capone specifically and ignoring the smaller yet still strong. They’ll swoop in when Ness is done with Capone and then the cycle will just start again.”

“Alright,” Steve said. “So, what? You want me to buzz off because I’m showing up on the edges?”

“You’ve been showing up on the edges since a month after Stark showed up,” Coulson said, folding his arms and leaning against the wall. “Anything you want to share?”

Steve sighed, getting tired of being accused of liking the man for the third time this week. “I’ve been hired for this job and I am going to follow it through. I’ll back off if there’s an official reason, but if not, allow me to do my job.”

“Ah,” Coulson said, something clicking into place for him. “So that’s where Natasha went yesterday. You’re quick.”

“Not really,” Steve said. “So, are you going to allow me to do my job?”

“Maybe,” Coulson said. “You might actually turn Stark into a good man. Wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.” He stood up and offered his hand for Steve to shake, grinning when he did. “Good to meet you; I’ll see you around. Don’t let Barton rattle you; he’s just overprotective of family.”

“Good to know,” Steve said, letting Coulson leave the alley first and making sure he was going the other way. Steve walked slowly back to the office before bypassing it and going home instead. A nice cold shower was in the cards and it felt like Heaven after he was done. He’d go into the office tomorrow morning, making an early dinner, organizing his notes, and going to bed early to get a good start the next day.