He didn't know who he could trust.
This team was rag-tag at best, nothing like the loyal and obedient soldiers he was used to leading. 'Captain America' may have been a stage name, but darn it if he didn't live up to the title. How was he supposed to command these headstrong and, in some cases, self-centred people? They had the brains and the brawn, surely enough, but these were not soldiers. These were not mindless drones. They worked in ways his recently thawed brain couldn't fully comprehend. Heck, when Bruce and Tony got talking, he felt like they were speaking a secret language. His two assassins understood each other on an intimate level and had a long history. And the human (he used that term loosely) juggernaughts, Thor and Hulk, even had a friendly rivalry going on after their epic sparring match in the flying death trap they call a ship.
He hated to admit it, but he was the odd one out.
Or was he?
There was one person he could think of who seemed to understand; or at least tried to in their own, weird way. Agent Coulson – not exactly a military man, but close enough.
The way he followed him around SHIELD headquarters like a loyal pup was almost endearing, and although Steve was used to hero-worship, finding it 40 years in the future only proved the Agent's devotion, at least in his mind. He'd assumed he'd be long forgotten in this future of peace, greed and monotony. He needed advice, and he needed it badly.
Rising thoughtfully to his feet, Steve made a beeline for the retracting doors. A pair of inquisitive brown eyes rose from behind some sciencey-looking-thing and followed him lazily across the room.
"Yo, Captain Amateur, where you buzzing off to?" The prying voice rang through the metal room.
"There's someone I need to talk to…alone." Came the short reply.
Tony raised his spread hands in front of him in a 'woah, someone is PMS-ing' gesture, his mouth quirked in an amused smile. Steve almost huffed, nose in the air. This man was infuriating at times.
"Don't even think about following me." He warned.
"Oh, don't flatter yourself. As much as I love you, believe it or not I've got better things to do than wonder what Captain Patriot is doing with someone…alone." He finished, suggestively. "Besides, I'm sure it will be up on youtube later."
"I don't understand that reference."
"Oh, well more fun for me."
Steve spun on his heel and left the room, Bruce passing him in the doorway. The doctor looked pointedly towards Tony after spying the defensive expression on the blonde man's face. Tony beamed innocently at him, hands working busily on his little project, but Bruce hadn't failed to notice the bug he'd somehow attached to Steve's shoulder as they passed.
"Now I know what you're going to say…'Oh, Mr. Stark, you antagonize the boy something horrid!' But come on, he needs to be taken down a peg or two. Have you SEEN the way he struts around in that ridiculously tight outfit every day? It's maddening! Like, put on a pair of jeans for crying out loud, I have enough assholes around the place."
Bruce sniggered and joined him at the table, holding a piece of alloy in place for Tony to solder. "I think it's because it takes him so long to get into those spandex pants, he saves us the trouble if there's suddenly an emergency."
"Them tights are a FASHION EMERGENCY." The playboy implored, bringing up a screen in front of them. "Now lets see what our little Stars n Stripes is up to…"
"I swear you must have a never-ending list of nicknames for him." Bruce sighed,
but he leaned forward, intrigued. He hadn't spent much time with the Captain, and this was as good a chance as any.
Steve rounded the corner, his ears rather pink. He'd heard every word – Tony sometimes forgot how his confident voice carried through the metal corridors. If he'd felt excluded before, it was nothing compared to how he felt now.
Just then, a slight figure bumped into him, rebounding off his chest. The Captain grabbed them without thinking and drove them into the wall, binding their arms to either side of their head.
"…Agent Coulson?" He breathed, too surprised to let go immediately. "You're actually the person I wanted to see."
Upon his release, the shorter man smoothed down his suit and looked up at the other man, a little breathless. Steve rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly, clearing his throat.
"Sorry about that…old habits, you know."
Phil actually beamed, shaking his head slightly. "Oh, not at all! It's just like in the #12 issue of the 'Captain America' comics, when you pulled the assassin down from the window and slammed him against a wall. I've had worse, believe me."
Steve smiled at that. He hadn't the heart to tell his apparently number-one fan that that never actually happened. Those comic books!
"Yes…I don't doubt it. You've had quite a colourful history."
"Nothing like yours, believe me I know. I've seen all the videos on youtube - erm, well you know…SOME videos. Only one or two, really…" He trailed off, biting his lip. "But, what did you want to see me for?"
Steve blinked. He needed to find out what this 'tube' all about him was. "I was wondering if I could talk with you-" he leaned in, tilting his head towards the Agent's ear, "…alone?"
Phil visibly shivered, his eyes a fraction wider than they were before. "You mean-" he started, double-checking the corridors, "…in your private quarters?"
Steve had no idea why he sounded so hopeful. In the military, it was a daily occurrence for one to invite their colleagues to their rooms for private chats. There were no other areas you could talk uninterrupted or overheard, camps weren't exactly spacious.
"Yes…if that's alright? I know it might seem a bit sudden, but I really need you." He looked to the floor, almost ashamed to appear so weak.
Agent Coulson didn't seem to mind, however. In fact, he couldn't seem to follow him fast enough, despite all of his out-of-character fumbling. He seemed to be breathing rather irregularly, and Steve wondered if he was uneasy.
"Are you really okay with this? I don't want to push you." Steve had stopped outside of his door, hand on the lever, and Agent Coulson eyed it eagerly.
"I must be honest. I…have considered it before. But I didn't want to ask you, in case you thought it was, you know. Improper." His face seemed to flush at that.
Steve sighed with relief. So, the Agent had noticed his struggle with adjusting after all, and had wanted to ask him about it! He really was a fantastic agent. Steve pulled the door open and invited him in, motioning to the large sofa by the window. Agent Coulson seemed to almost teleport onto it instantly.
"You don't need to feel like that. I want you to be comfortable with me." Steve removed his outer armor and set it down near the door. Was it just his imagination, or was the Agent watching him like a hawk? He brushed it off as nothing, it was his job to watch and be observant, after all. He settled himself next to the brown-haired man on the couch, kicking his boots off and setting the red monstrosities to the side. Agent Coulson was noticeably fidgeting now, looking anywhere and everywhere but at Steve. His body was rigid, sitting as straight as humanly possible, and the pink flush spread across his usually pale cheeks.
A little worried, Steve reached over and used the back of his hand to feel the Agent's face.
"You're so hot." he gasped, his brows furrowing together with faint worry.
The reaction he got from that seemingly innocent line and gesture was remarkable. Agent Coulson slowly jerked his head around to face him; his hands were clenched on his knees and his knuckles white. It took him a few moments to croak out a response. "…Y-you too."
Steve tilted his head to the side in mild confusion. "Really? I feel quite fine."
"Yes…you're fine, you're so fine."
Agent Coulson inhaled sharply and turned away. "I'm sorry, I just…I don't know what I'm doing. I've never, I mean…You're CAPTAIN AMERICA. You're the most amazing, most-"
"I know, I'm not supposed to show my weakness, it's probably quite a shock to you." Steve dropped his hand. "But even CAPTAIN AMERICA-" he smiled sadly, "needs a little help from a willing soldier."
Agent Coulson wheezed and adjusted his tie, rocking back on the couch in disbelief. Was this real life? Being alone with Captain America in his private quarters, and already at first base? It was like one of his fanfictions had come to life – he wasn't quite prepared for it.
Tony and Bruce were holding onto each other for support, Tony roaring with laughter and the other shaking violently with silent gasps as tears escaped from the corners of his eyes.
"The poor fool doesn't get it!" Tony cried. "Captain Virgin is using the kind of one-liners fanboy's WET DREAMS are made of, and he doesn't even know it!"
"Poor sap just wants to TALK!" Bruce cackled, removing his glasses and wiping his eyes. "Agent Kawaii is G2F over there!"
"His legs are pretty much spread!" Tony Stark nickered, jabbing at the screen. "But he's too shy to make his move, he's just waiting for Steve to take the wheel and just - but he just - oooh, man, I need a drink, this is both hilarious and frustrating to watch!"
"Make that two, Iron Dude, make that two!" Tony cheered and sloshed them both a bourbon and coke to sit back and watch the show with.
"Thanks for coming here, Agent." Steve ventured, attempting to break the staring contest he was now engaged in with the hawk-eyed man. "I um, well lately I've been feeling like a bit of a failure, you know. None of the other team members are making this easy on me. Sometimes I think I don't live up to my stage name, like Captain America is a joke to them."
Agent Coulson merely stared at his mouth, but was listening intently.
"I…need to prove myself to them as a leader, show I'm strong and MAKE them WANT to follow me. This team needs a leader, and that responsibility seems to have fallen onto my shoulders. I can't…I…" His shoulders slumped then, and he pinched the bridge of his nose to try and hold back the lump that was forming in his throat.
"No one wants me."
Agent Coulson extended a comforting hand, hesitantly brushing it down the side of his arm. "There's someone who does, you know."
Tears threatened, the little devils pricking at the sides of his eyes. He was moved. This man reminded him of an old friend…so loyal, so unfailingly loyal. Just as Steve dared to emerge from behind his hand, he felt a pair of lips ghost over his, so feather-light it was like it barely even happened. He didn't move, didn't dare, as Agent Coulson pulled the much larger man into an embrace. He knew it probably looked ridiculous, but right now neither of them cared. He sank gratefully into his arms. How long had it been since someone comforted him, since someone actually saw that this is what he needed? He was always supposed to remain so stoic and strong, but he couldn't deny he'd spent many nights clutching at his pillow and fighting back the longing for a decade and people robbed of him.
He was tired of holding back, and denying himself. Experimentally, he ran his large hands across Agent Coulson's back, feeling the bumps and grooves of his shoulder blades and spine. His breath hitched as the warmth spread from his fingers tips to a place he never knew he had inside of himself. The smaller man hummed and slowly brushed the tip of his nose along the thin fabric of the Captain America uniform, finally reaching the bare skin of his hero's neck. Steve found himself leaning back as light kisses were peppered all along his jaw line, and he closed his eyes. To not be in command like this – it was thrilling, and such a change of pace that he found it almost relaxing. But when Agent Coulson sheepishly darted out a warm tongue to swipe at his pulse point, Steve decided being submissive was not for him, and cupped the coy man's face in his hands before leaning down for a deep kiss. Agent Coulson inhaled huskily through his nose and returned the gesture, roughly. He just had time to mumble 'god bless America' before being shut up again by a very patriotic mouth.
"Yeah?" Stark breathed.
"I think this needs to be uploaded to a different 'tube' site." Bruce said, lowly, averting his eyes from the 18+ action on the screen.
"Amen to that. You know, I think I'll call it 'I want YOU – for gay sex.'"
Bruce groaned, setting down his glass and switching off the screen.
"You know, like those Uncle Sam posters that-"
"YEAH YEAH, I get it I get it, very clever!" The doctor interrupted, waving a flippant hand as he excused himself to the bathroom.
"Lotion's in the top cupboard." Tony grinned.
Bruce gave him a dirty look as he closed the door, and Tony switched the screen back on, leaning back in the chair with one arm behind his head, drink in hand.