Pairing: Agent Phil Coulson/Steve Rogers (Captain America)
Summary: After saving the world, Phil takes Steve to a baseball game, gets a little drunk and ends up promising to teach Steve how to dance.
Disclaimer: Fanfiction. Spoilers.
AN: Marvel Movieverse. First venture into the world of Marvel characters.
Boys of Summer
Steve was heartbroken when he first found out that the Brooklyn Dodgers had moved to Los Angeles back in 1958. They had been his team growing up, the pride and joy of Brooklyn.
Just another casualty of time.
"Wait 'til next year." Steve mutters the famous phrase to himself, draining the plastic cup of beer.
So now he sits on a Wednesday night, all the time in the world to catch up on life, in the nosebleeds at a Yankees—Twins game. He props his feet up on the empty seat in front of him, hunched over and watches a gentleman he's been told is considered a 'heavy hitter' by modern standards, crack off a nice, clean double. Despite his longstanding loathing of the New York Yankees, Steve is genuinely happy to see that at least this one thing has stayed constant. It surprises him how comforting that fact has become. The beginnings of a smile tug at the corners of his lips, nostalgia thick in the summer night air. Even sitting in the new Yankee stadium, everything around him seems to harken back to a time when he was just a skinny kid with a bloody nose from Flatbush.
America's love affair with baseball appears to be as strong as ever—like a piece of living history.
"Here." Agent Coulson, dressed, as ever, in his crisp black suit and tie, nudges Steve in the shoulder. He offers up a delicious looking ballpark hotdog smothered in ketchup and mustard. A classic, with just the right amount of each condiment.
"Thanks, Phil," Steve replies with a rare smile that manages to reach his eyes as he takes the food. "I'll get the next round," he says after swallowing a mouthful of hotdog. Phil pauses for a moment, standing awkwardly with his hands full of their second round of beer and another hot dog, eyes unreadable behind his dark aviators.
Steve is still not sure if this constitutes as a date—and apparently neither does Phil, even though he had been the one to invite Steve.
"Wait, the Yankees are up at bat again?" Phil glances briefly at the scoreboard with a tightlipped expression. "Already?" Hands full, slumping into his seat, a slight wince flits across the agent's face as he jostles his left side. He accidentally sloshes their two new cups of beer when plunks down next to Steve. Nothing spatters onto them but the cardboard carrier is ruined and quickly becoming compromised. Even after several months and countless hours of physical therapy the butchered bone and muscles coiled along Phil's chest and back, so close to his heart, have not yet fully healed.
"They pitched a perfect inning." Steve purposefully avoids any mention of Phil's injury as he grabs the cups while the agent sorts himself out. Down on the field the Yankees bring one man home while the batter makes it all the way to second. Steve takes a sip of his beer, wishing the alcohol could have the same effect on him that it was going to have on Phil. "They're still only up by two runs." He gives the agent a crooked smile, brows raised optimistically as he hands him back his drink. Phil nods; running a hand over his tie, making sure it lies flat against his chest. The cotton of his button down strains as Steve gingerly slings an arm around Phil's shoulders. He feels the other man go stiff, his movements becoming oddly rigid as he removes his sunglasses. "Bottom of the fourth—plenty of time for a come back." Steve raises his cup, catching Phil's eye. The plastic rims barely make a sound when they thunk together.
They watch as the Twins get their first out of the inning. Steve glances over to catch a small smile forming on Phil's face as the other man finishes eating his hotdog. He remembers Phil mentioning a childhood full of snow and lakes and it's so easy for Steve to see that childish exuberance bubbling beneath the surface. An overwhelming warmth spreads through Steve's chest, knowing how lucky the world, himself in particular, is to still have such a good man fighting for it. A good and humble man working in obscurity and expecting nothing in return but the safety of those he loves. A shadow who will forever believe in heroes. It all sounds stupidly romantic and a little old-fashioned but he has always been a bit of a sucker for that combination.
The pad of Steve's callused thumb idly rubs abstract patterns into the fabric of Phil's suit sleeve.
"I'm sorry these were the only seats I could get," Phil says suddenly after finishing his second beer. Steve looks around and notices for the first time how vacant their section of the upper deck is and wonders how many 'seats' the agent is referring to. For a Wednesday night game, the rest of the stadium is modestly filled, though majority of the cheap seats like theirs are empty. It could easily go either way.
"It's great." He smiles. There is something so familiar and comfortable about Phil, something Steve is desperately lacking in this new and overly cynical world. Steve bends his arm to run a hand over the crown of Phil's head, fingertips brushing over the agent's close-cropped hair. "Everything is great." The slight pressure of Phil leaning into the touch speaks volumes.
Maybe it's a date after all.
"Doesn't get much more Americana," Phil openly grins, turning to look at Steve with bright eyes that make him look years younger. He props his elbow up on the armrest between them, shifting his whole body closer to Steve. "Well, I mean, that is, you…" he gestures vaguely to Steve's chest, drawing concentric circles with an odd twist to his expression. Steve reckons it's a certain kind of flustered smile he'd like to see a lot more of on the man's face. A cheer goes up all around them as a masterful double play saves Phil from having to further explain. "Oh, uh, third out."
Phil spends the rest of the evening catching Steve up on the history of the two teams, throwing in a few mentions of the Dodgers to give Steve a frame of reference. He listens intently as the agent starts talks about the rivalries between teams all over the country, some that even Steve can chime in about how they were viewed 'back in his day.' Steve's arm remains slung around Phil's shoulders. And after two more rounds of beer and a box of 'old fashioned' crackerjacks that Steve insisted on buying, and was subsequently disappointed by, both men are delighted to see the Twins turn the game around in the seventh inning—eventually winning 10-7.
It's almost one in the morning when they make their last transfer to the practically vacant number two train. On the subway to Brooklyn Heights, thighs pressed tight against each other from hip to knee, Steve drapes his arm along the blue plastic seatback. He watches as the other man's head sways in time with the gentle rocking of their compartment. With his guard down completely, it's clear to Steve that the agent is still recovering, despite his insistence on returning to work a little over two weeks ago. Tonight is the first Fury's given him off since then and thankfully Phil's phone hasn't buzzed once. He looks wiped out and maybe a little buzzed. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, Steve is neither.
After a few moments of inching closer and closer, Phil's temple finally makes contact with Steve's broad shoulder.
He smells like pine and gunmetal with an unmistakable undercurrent of beer.
"Thank you for taking me out," Steve ventures, waiting to see how the agent responds to the implications. Phil starts humming quietly. The familiar tune sends a shiver crawling up Steve's spine; somehow surprised by all the memories that come flooding back the minute he hears the old song.
"I don't care if we never get back," Phil sings to himself, tapping out the melody on Steve's knee.
At the next station he briefly touches the back of Phil's hand. He's not quite ready to say goodnight.
"C'mon soldier, this is our stop."
"I'll just, uh, sit down for a minute and then be on my way," Phil promises when he discovers how enticing the leather sofa is in Steve's wonderfully air-conditioned brownstone. He checks his watch before pulling out his mobile telephone. Steve watches the agent clicking away on the device while he goes into the kitchenette to pour the man a glass of water. "Have to be in midtown in the morning." Phil hits a button and the screen goes dark before he stuffs the phone back into his pocket.
"Here," Steve presses the glass into Phil's hand. He settles down on the couch with a half a cushion between them, resting his ankle on his opposite knee.
Phil sips the water slowly while Steve continues observing him. The agent shifts uncomfortably, mouth opening for a second before slowly shutting. He repeats this two more times, intermittently taking a drink of water. Frustrated, he scoots to the edge of the cushion and loses the fight to remain silent.
"I should go," comes tumbling out of his mouth.
Steve is glad when the agent makes no move to leave.
"I had a gre—" Phil glances quickly over his shoulder. Seeing something in Steve's expression that gives him pause, he turns back to stare at his shoes. "I, I know you feel like you don't belong here," he begins again, his voice a bit unsteady as if he's not sure where he wants to go with the sentiment. His tired mind tries to catch up with his drunk mouth. And the alcohol has lowered all his inhibitions; making him bold in ways that Steve thinks are probably quite foreign to the man—something he used to be able to relate to. "I know I shouldn't have survived—not that our situations are comparable—" he cuts himself off, placing the empty glass on the coffee table and folding his fidgeting hands. "I just," he sighs, bowing his head and running his thumb along his lower lip, "I think there's still a very good reason you are here now. A reason your heart never gave out." The agent's knuckles have begun to turn white.
"Beyond the personal one?" Steve leans forward.
"Of course, Captain." In the dimly light apartment, Phil looks surprisingly flushed at the blunt comment. He unfolds his hands, rubbing them over his face as he struggles to stay awake.
"Steve," he corrects, unfolding his legs and closing the distance between them. "Not wearing any stars and stripes, so it's just Steve."
"Steve," Phil repeats, years of special training, a lifetime of restraint and in the face of his hero he is unprepared and unable to mask even the slightest hint of adoration in his voice. Embarrassed and exhausted, Phil clears his throat, tugging at his tie until it hangs loose around his neck. "Some great men are products of their time." His eyes sweep across the room before finding Steve's gaze, holding it captive with a definitive sincerity rimming his blue eyes. "Others, heroes, transcend it."
Steve knows Phil Coulson believes it with all his heart.
Cheeks warm, Steve's eyes flick down to watch the tip of Phil's tongue poke out to wet his lips. It's only a fraction of an inch, but Phil apparently catches the tilt of Steve's head and takes a risk.
Everything goes silent.
Steve's only been kissed twice and never with such earnest emotion. How Phil does it is a mystery to Steve.
The agent's lips are firm but soft against his, full of an unknowable promise and more than capable. He feels the tip of Phil's nose nudge against his cheekbone. It's heady and strange and Steve wants more. When Phil begins to pull away Steve's instincts take over. He reaches up to hook his fingers around the nape of the man's neck, palm flat against his jumping pulse as he follows Phil's retreat to prolong the kiss.
"So this is a date." Steve's lips brush against Phil's as he whispers, foreheads pressed together. "Good to know." The corner of his mouth twists up in a playful smile as he leans back, letting his hand fall away. Phil lets out a breathy laugh that Steve has never heard before.
"Maybe we should try it again then," he suggests hopefully. "When we're both on the same page." Phil brushes his fingers through the blond strands of hair just above Steve's ear, running his thumb along the tip. His smile is a wide, sleepy curve, bordering dangerously on deliriously happy.
"Do you know how to dance?" Steve is sure the answer is yes but pauses when he tries to imagine what it would be like to learn to dance with Phil as his partner. He's never seen two men dance. "They have dance halls for…" He stumbles awkwardly, embarrassed by the large gap in his understanding of modern culture. An uncomfortable heat burns up the back of his neck as he searches for an appropriate word. Large hands motion to the space between them. "Guys like us, right?" He finishes lamely.
"Yes," Phil assures him, stifling a yawn. "Though probably not the kind of dancing you're used to."
"Oh." Of course.
"But," the agent adds, "I have some great records and lot of floor space at my apartment."
"Wonderful," Phil repeats as fatigue takes control of his body, eyes itchy and head drooping. Quietly, Steve guides them into the corner of his couch, careful of Phil's left shoulder when he pulls him close. He tucks in against Steve's side, a solid warmth that Steve has never known. It's nice.
"I'm sorry, Steve, I just…" Phil trails off, resting his head on the wide expanse of Steve's chest. The agent's fingers brush over the hard line of Steve's collarbone before settling over his sternum. "Five minutes…"
Phil ends up spending the night.