Pairing: Agent Phil Coulson/Steve Rogers (Captain America)
Summary:
Disclaimer: Fanfiction.
AN: Inspired by a scene in the novel Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk, which Clark Gregg adapted and directed in 2008. The story is set in the fall of 2008. No super soldier serum for an old fashion boy born in the wrong decade. No moral compass in a spangled uniform for wayward Phil. One version of how they might have met under those circumstances. References to 9/11, the US Army and, indirectly, DADT. Striptease Music: watch?v=04yxr0mv0Hc

Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy

Steve nearly slams headlong into the solid wall of muscle that comprises the blond bouncer menacing in the narrow doorway of Stark Naked. He comes up short, soles scrapping against concrete, just in time to avoid a potentially catastrophic collision and a few fractured bones.

"Excuse me, little man." The bouncer jostles him around like a rag doll. Steve glares up at him, thinly veiled resentment in the face of brute force and one of his more hated pejoratives. Does he have to call him that every time? With a heavy hand clapped on his shoulder, one that could easily snap his clavicle clean in two, the bouncer gives him a sympathetic look. He bends down to meet Steve's eye line, only emphasizing the ten-inch difference between their heights. "You are aware, are you not?" He asks and his accent becomes absurdly thick when he attempts a conspiratorial whisper. "The one you seek to watch does not perform for another hour." Begrudgingly, Steve has to admit to himself that the large man seems genuinely concerned on his behalf.

"I know," Steve responds unflinchingly, his stare remains hard and challenging despite his significant physical disadvantage. Perhaps the man is only teasing him, feigning pity for the scrawny artist because of his hopeless infatuation—such a weak, undesirable little boy. Shaking free from the man's strong grip, he squares his shoulders and takes a step back.

"All right," the bouncer shrugs, standing to his full height as he brushes some blond flyaways back into his short ponytail. He motions for Steve to pass. "Oh, wait." A hand darts out and catches the collar of Steve's button down, yanking him back outside the club as if not understand his own strength. "The bag."

"Here," Steve grunts as he flops open the wide messenger bag, thrusting it up in to the man's face impatiently. The bouncer pulls out a familiar sketchbook and a fist full of various charcoal pencils. He opens his mouth to comment but, with one look at Steve's face, thinks better of it. Stuffing everything back in to the bag, he steps aside with a half-smile and a nod.

Weaving his way through the familiar club, Steve heads straight for the bar. A strange uneasiness clenches in he pit of his stomach when he recognizes, and is recognized, by a few of the other patrons. He keeps his focus on an open spot at the bar. Using his bag as a barrier between himself and the sticky countertop, he orders a Rob Roy. The man mixing drinks gives him an amused look but as usual says nothing while he rolls up his purple sleeves.

Every time, the exact same drink.

"More sketches?" The bartender asks, placing the drink on several napkins for Steve. He nods and thanks him, leaving the largest tip he can afford with an apologetic smile the man has grown accustomed to by now.

Drink in one hand, Steve searches for one of the cleaner chairs and drags it over to a small drinks table near the stage. Before settling down, he wipes the tabletop off with the flimsy extra drink napkins the bartender handed him. Satisfied, he plops down and pulls out his sketchbook. Cracking it open, he flips past all the old drawings before pausing on his most recent work. With a private smile, he traces over a few of the fainter lines, deciding to spend the next half hour attempting to reconstruct the more subtle details of the man's face from memory.

Bucky had first planted the idea in his head over a month ago. It was after work one day when Steve was complaining about the exorbitant cost of figure drawing classes in the city and the obnoxious instructors that often accompanied the better models. He needed to attend a couple in order to round out his rather lopsided portfolio. Steve gravitated toward architecture and inanimate objects rather than the human form. Bucky teased him mercilessly about his hang-ups surrounding nudity until it became obvious the awkwardness was due to his own self-consciousness and perceived inadequacy. So, indelicate as ever, Bucky dragged him to a strip club under the pretence of encouraging his friend to figure draw on the cheap. Steve had been terrified. It felt immoral and made his skin crawl but Bucky promised to take him to one of the nicer places in Manhattan to sooth his moral conscience.

The whole experience was uncomfortable and strange and borderline intolerable until halfway through the night one dancer in particular caught his attention. He was a good ten years older than Steve and had a quiet command over his athletic body. A nice jaw and strong, distinct profile that made him stand out from all the other performers who tended to blur together. Unique. Not to mention his smile that could quickly switch from nothing more than a simple up tick at the very corners of his mouth to an impish, knowing smirk. He was the perfect subject for Steve. And the vintage uniform. It fit him perfectly. Steve had always been told he had been born in the wrong century, his disposition was too sweet and naïve, old fashion, and his preoccupation with WWII memorabilia only added to the claims. So, one look at the pristine pleats in the man's military dress slacks and Steve knew he was an absolute goner. Two days later he found himself back inside Stark Naked, front row with his sketchbook propped on one bony knee and eyes glued to the gentleman in the soldier's uniform.

The time ticks away inside the club in a matter of seconds as Steve looses track while cleaning up his sketch. A few new faces filter in, wandering around the interior before all crowding around the elevated stage. It is still early in the evening and Steve's soldier is not the main attraction, but he always draws a good group of mostly regulars. They all are leaning forward, anticipation mounting, some with their ties undone and fistfuls of cash at the ready.

A stream of piano chords pours through the speakers and the stage lights dim ominously. Everything else around him fades into the background of white noise and blurry shapes. Steve hides a grin behind ink stained fingers when Freddie Mercury's quiet voice fills the room while he struggles to put on an impartially studious face. One small riptide of excitement unfurls in his stomach and he is not sure whom he is trying to fool anymore. The ruckus chorus begins and a man decked out in full military dress from the early 1940's marches out onto the stage in time with the beat.

His handsome soldier.

A Good Old Fashion Lover Boy.

Charcoal smudges as he opens to a fresh page, crisp and clean. He begins to sketch and the buttons of the soldier's jacket are flicked open with each step down the stage. The march has quickly deteriorated into a strut. The dancer tosses the jacket behind him, careless and full of energy before titling his peaked cap to one side. Several bills flutter onto the end of the runway before he even arrives to greet them each personally. Steve's eyes scan over the man's body, appreciative and calculating in the same glance. Each button on his pristinely ironed shirt slips through its opposite hole in time with the thudding beat until the second chorus ends and the shirt drops away completely. His torso is toned and lightly tanned and so wonderfully unlike Steve's own frail body. One corner of the dancer's mouth is crooked up in a suggestive smirk, faint but all the more subversive—full of a private desire. It's mesmerizing.

The tip of Steve's pencil skims over the page, gently outlining the rough shapes and figures of the man's twisting body. He turns toward the other side of the stage and Steve quickly switches to an empty section of his paper. All the muscles of his arms and back are defined with thicker lines and harder strokes. The dimples of his lower back, the valley of his spine and the swell of his ass beneath tailored trousers. Everything about the solider is sharp and effortless and Steve likes to think it requires a certain delicate finesse in order to capture it faithfully.

Just as the bridge crescendos to a smashing end, the man tosses his hat with a flick of his wrist. He aims it straight for Steve's head and it lands just so. In over a month, the soldier has only singled him out twice before; the last time was only two nights ago. A hot flush creeps up the back of his neck and he runs a couple fingers around the circumference of his shirt collar. The dancer smiles down at him and it looks broader than before, actually managing to reach his eyes. Steve takes an anxious sip of his drink, draining the glass completely.

Two thumbs hook under a belt buckle, pulling the leather strap inch by inch from the loops while the guitar plays on all around him. When he finally tugs it free, he snaps it loudly against the stage floor with the beat. A whole new wave of cash spills out onto the stage, Steve even spots a few five-dollar bills in the mix. The belt falls in a heap at his feet at the end of the solo. Next, he pops the top button of his fly, methodically unzipping and splaying the fabric wide to reveal tight black boxer briefs. The pants are stripped away and Steve pauses to actually watch.

"His nipples are uneven." A hand thumps down a pristine off-white business card onto his sketch. The straightedge is slanted to the right, implying a terrible mistake. Even with his concentration torn between the dancer's firm thighs and his drawings, Steve easily sees through the ploy. He notes that the name emblazed on the card matches the one in neon, Tony Stark. Of course. Steve sinks a little into his chair and stares fixedly at the black letters while the soldier's song comes to an end. His stomach drops. "Also, you are way too generous with your 'proportions,'" he adds, breathing into Steve's ear before standing up brusquely to adjust the knot of his silk tie. It triggers an instinct within Steve and he whorls around to confront the businessman.

"This is h—" Steve begins, his thin chest puffed out defensively just before the man stepping off the stage interrupts.

"Fuck off, Stark," he chides with a sardonic smile that has Tony rolling his eyes. "Hey Steve," the dancer turns to him, his face softening.

When the man first noticed Steve's repeated appearance in the crowd, as well as the ever-present sketchbook, he had asked after the name of his new number one fan. Flustered, staring up at the half naked man on stage, Steve had not even thought to give a fake. They never had time to talk about anything, personal or otherwise, and the soldier never inquired about the drawings. Mostly they stuck to a brief exchanges about whether or not the artist enjoyed the show. He always did and he always let the dancer know, handing over a couple rumpled five-dollar bills each night he performed.

"You know this featherweight?" Tony asks in disbelief, quickly moving to block the man's path. A hand splays against his naked chest, holding him back.

"Hi Smokey," Steve responds with a shy smile as he meets the man's gaze peering over Tony's shoulder.

"He's my not-so-secret admirer," the man answers, straight-faced with a mocking glint as he easily pushes Tony out of the way. Walking up to Steve's table, he reaches out to reclaim his hat. He leisurely tucks a few strands of hair behind Steve's ear, the pads of his fingers lingering on the surprisingly sensitive tip. Tracing down the curve, he fondles the lobe before his hand drops away. A shiver runs up Steve's spine and he clenches his fist around his charcoal pencil. Leaning down to whisper something to Steve, the dancer catches sight of the open sketchbook. "Can I look?"

"They're really just some sketches." With a sheepish expression, Steve flips the book closed despite the flicker of disappointment on the man's face. Steve glances anxiously at Tony and grimaces at his painfully bored expression.

"Just sketches, Yankee Doodle," Tony repeats dismissively, tugging at the dancer's elbow. The man seems unfazed by the derisive nickname. "C'mon, you're still on the clock." His foot starts tapping impatiently, repeatedly glancing over at the hall of Champagne Rooms in the back of the club.

"I'm aware," the man snaps back, though his face remains impassive. "Steve," he whispers his name again and Steve is enraptured at the simple sound of it. Conceding, he opens the sketchbook to his most recent work from that night. The man strains to get a better look in the poorly light club. "These are amazing." His face fills with admiration and for a single moment Steve gets to bask in the way his soldier lights up at the sight of his drawings.

And Steve wants.

Badly.

"Okay, Private Ryan, breaks over," Tony says rapid fire and earns an icy glower from the dancer. He catches the crook of his bent arm and starts to haul him away from Steve's table.

"Sir," Steve calls out, immediately bolting up out of his chair. He takes a step closer to the pair, challenging. He lowers his voice, hoping to keep the argument contained between them. "There is no need for that."

"Sir?" Tony repeats the title louder, bemused and sarcastic in the same clipped syllable. He releases the soldier, retracing his steps until he is staring down the straight line of his nose at Steve. "Tell me, Boy Scout," he gestures to Steve's appearance with a sneer, jabbing him in the chest, "you got two hundred bucks for a private dance?"

"No." Still, he presses, refusing to wilt. "But you—"

"Then sit down," Tony cuts him off. Despite the pointed look Tony gives the blond bouncer, Steve refuses.

"You shouldn't treat him like that," he restates, voice unwavering. Glancing at the dancer, he catches the beginning of a smile forming on his thin lips, threaded through with a distinct undercurrent of pride.

"Fine." Tony turns to the other man with rigid movements. "Smokey," he begins with a slight bow at the waist, venomous and patronizing, "would you please grant me the honour of accompanying me to the champagne room. You have a very loyal 'patron' waiting ever so patiently for your unique services." Annoyed with Tony's childish response, the man nods silently. "Great." A joyless smile flashes across Tony's face. Without another word, they are gone.

At the last second, the dancer glances over his shoulder. He holds Steve's gaze until disappearing into one of the private rooms. Steve can only begin to imagine what kinds of things Tony Stark endorses in his notorious Champagne Rooms. Two hundred dollars for ten minutes is a steep price for admission. Even if he had enough money to afford a secluded session with Smokey, he would never indulge that particular fantasy. For Steve, paying to observe the dancer's body for a couple sketches is the same as going to a figure drawing class.

But paying for that is something else entirely.

"Here," a red headed woman, dressed in a sleek tailored suit, drops off another Rob Roy. She places it carefully in the center of a fresh napkin, snatching away the empty glass in the same fluid movement.

"I didn't order…" Steve objects but she is already out of earshot. "Thank you."

He sips the drink, surreptitiously peering around the club. It is much stronger than the first one he ordered. More people arrive to watch the other dancers perform group numbers that his soldier never participates in. They only feature men closer to Steve's age, early twenties, hairless and practically identical body types and facial features. After waiting for almost an hour, Steve begins to suspect that he read too much into the look Smokey gave him. The drink was probably compliments of an apologetic Mr. Stark, hoping to retain a devoted customer, and not from his soldier.

Just as Steve finishes packing up the last of his art supplies, he senses someone standing behind him. For a split second he does not recognize the dancer—he looks so unassuming out of his uniform. A simple white button down, open at the collar, black slacks and a utilitarian backpack. But the peaked cap in his right hand and the soft blue of his eyes are unmistakable.

"You never draw anyone else," he states bluntly, as if challenging Steve to refute the claim they both know is true. The skin covering his sharp cheekbones is already hot, obscured for now by the low lighting. His solider leans in to slick back the blond strands of Steve's hair, slipping the hat snugly onto his head. "Do you want to get out of here?" Catching the brim of the cap, he tilts it to the right.

"Yes," Steve answers automatically, slinging his bag over his shoulders. He hasn't the faintest idea what the man is actually proposing or where they will end up but he implicitly knows it is exactly what he wants and where he wants to be. With this man standing before him. His heart jumps into his throat, pounding so loud in his chest that he is sure the other man can hear it.


Without touching, they stand close together on the short subway ride to Flatbush. Both men lean on one set of sliding doors while other late night passengers brush past, ignoring them. Steve hides his fidgeting hands in his jacket pockets and tries his best to decipher the dancer's inscrutable expression. When the compartment begins moving once more his shoulder gently knocks into the other man's bicep.

"It's Phil, by the way," the man admits casually, shouldering his backpack. Steve catches him shuffling closer. Intimate. A strange, tentative trust. In the most basic way, it makes him feel wanted—something he has not experienced in a very long time.

"What?" Steve looks up suddenly at the sound of the man's voice. "Oh," and the words register. A name, his real name. "Phil," he repeats it with a slightly dazed smile, tongue curling around the gentle consonants. "Hello, Phil." The man, Phil, chuckles good-naturedly. It lights up his whole face, crinkling the skin at the corners of his eyes. He looks happier than Steve has ever seen him.

It seems real.

"Nice to meet you," Phil offers. The subway shudders to a stop and Phil ends up pressed against Steve's slight frame. It takes a few seconds before he regains his footing and breaks the full body contact between them. "Officially," he adds with a wry grin.

"Well, I'm still Steve," the artist responds lamely with a stiff shrug and a lopsided grin.

"I know," Phil's tone remains impartial but his eyes are full of laughter.


When they arrive at Phil's shoddy apartment, even worse than Steve's dump in another part of Brooklyn, they have to be quiet not to wake Phil's roommate, the only one who apparently has the night off from work at Stark Naked. It is mostly bare inside his cramp bedroom, white walls and black sheets with only a few personal items sprinkled throughout. The sole photograph he spies is one of a teenage Phil and an older woman Steve assumes is the man's mother—his high school graduation, class of '94. It seems Steve was correct about the ten-year age gap. A large stack of letters, actual hand written letters, lies underneath the photo. They all look several years old, yellowed and slightly crumpled around the edges. Each one well read. On the very top, mostly concealed by the picture, is a glossy brochure for the NYPD police academy. Beyond those few items, there are no other clues about the more intricate elements of Phil's personal life.

A charismatic enigma.

"So, I've wanted to ask for the last couple weeks," Phil says, hanging up a few of the shirts he had left scatter across his bed into a tiny closet.

Steve immediately notices the pristine green service uniform hanging on the back of the door. It is not a costume. Every stitch lies flat and perfect, authentic. Of course, he thinks, ex-military. A few pivotal pieces of the jigsaw start to fall into place. Army, enlisted, Sergeant First Class, if Steve remembers all the different insignias correctly. Judging by his age and rank, Phil must be a career solider recently released from active duty—probably not by his choice given his current situation. No one was waiting for the returning soldier. Something inside Steve's chest aches, his shoulders slumping as he watches this all too familiar stranger bend down to empty his backpack.

If Steve was not a goner before, he sure is now.

"The drawings?" Phil asks, tossing the artist a curious look over his shoulder. "What are they about?" Steve snaps back to attention as Phil closes the closet door and throws his backpack under the frame of his twin bed. "Not that I mind," he adds quickly with a flash of a smile. Steve feels the pressure in his chest swell.

"I'm building a portfolio in order to apply to art school," Steve explains, standing awkwardly in the middle of the small bedroom, strategically hiding behind his messenger bag. He clasps both hands behind his back, careful not to get in Phil's way.

"Drawings of me stripping can get you into a fancy art school?" Phil arches a doubtful eyebrow and it seems odd in Steve's mind to think of this man in those terms, as nothing more than a 'stripper'. He offers to take Steve's bag, placing it out of the way, before sitting on the edge of the mattress. Casually, he toes off his cheap shoes, nudging them to the side while watching the artist with bright, expectant eyes.

"Anatomy," Steve pipes up defensively, clearing his throat. "Figure drawing." Without his shield of a bag, he feels exposed and vulnerable but he prides himself on maintaining eye contact. Restless under Phil's gaze, he begins wringing his hands, rubbing at the ink stains he scrubbed at for an hour that afternoon. "I need a lot of practice. I've never been good with the," he pauses, swallowing his embarrassment as he gestures vaguely at Phil's physique. "The human body." He jams his hands into his pockets, balled into tight fists. "And, well, you're perfect." The smile on his face feels gawky and so he tries to throw in a blasé shrug to balance it out.

"Hardly," Phil scoffs.

"No, I mean—" Steve starts babbling and in his rush to reassure Phil, he finds the courage to close the distance, settling down on the mattress beside the man with one hand resting on his thigh. "I—" He sucks in a deep breath, staring up at the ceiling while he speaks. "To me, you are," he states plainly, voice steady and certain. With a short squeeze he pulls his hand away from Phil's leg. "Everything." Steve glances down to quickly gauge the other man's reaction.

"You're not so bad yourself," Phil counters, pulling the peaked cap off of Steve's head in order to get a better view of his face. Steve cannot read anything the eyes that run appreciatively over the length of his scrawny frame, lingering on his hands and lips. Apparently, Phil sees a different man than the one Steve is forced to confront every morning.

"Don't." Steve shifts uncomfortably and begins to suspect that the poor lighting in Stark Naked has perhaps permanently damaged Phil's vision. As he folds in on himself, those sharp elbows dig into the lean muscle of his thighs. Every odd angle of his body seems to jump out with each breath he draws. He never had to learn how to accept a compliment—never fathomed anyone would give him a genuine one, at least when it came to his own looks. His mind starts racing with a million excuses, maybe Phil feels obligated, or worse, pities him. Of course, pity. "You don't have to do that."

Steve was so damn naïve to chase after this man.

"I say what I mean." Strong fingers curl around his chin, forcing him to look up into Phil's surprisingly stern face. "There is a difference between a dancer and a whore." He hits each consonant hard and square on the head. They ring off the tip of his tongue and seem to hit Steve right between the eyes. The back of his neck is burning with a bright flush. "Do not confuse the two," he finishes, releasing Steve's face.

"I didn't—" Wide eyed and reeling, Steve sputters at the idea. "I never—" The heat is spread up his ears and across his cheeks. "I—I just…" He falls silent when Phil runs the pad of his thumb over one of his angular cheekbones.

"You are attractive," he reiterates bluntly. Steve furrows his brow, desperately searching for the well-hidden lie. He comes up short. "And strong," Steve huffs quietly in disbelief. "Where it counts." Phil taps two fingers against Steve's chest, just over the hard bone of his sternum.

"I'm sorry." Steve resists the childish urge to hide his face in his hands; instead he boldly faces his embarrassment, though his voice sounds so frail in his own ears. "I'm new to this…"

"What?" Phil's tone is lighter, tilting his head slightly to one side. "Going home with a stripper or sex?" Phil jokes, hoping to diffuse some of the tension.

"All of the above," he confesses with too much honesty undercutting his own attempt at matching Phil's offhanded levity. There had been a few propositions before but every other man made him feel minute and weak and worthless—whether it was their intention, and sometimes, often, it was, or not. The silence expands between them, and Steve refuses to look up from his undone shoelace.

"Oh." Clearly Phil did not expect that answer. He runs a hand down the side of his own face. "I don—"

"I should probably go," Steve stands, quickly gathering his bag and heading for the bedroom door.

"Steve." Phil bolts up off the bed, raising his hand to stop the artist from leaving. And he has never heard his name like that. "Stay," he says, quieter, imploring. And he means it. He wants Steve. Steve Rogers, as is. "Unles—" Steve drops everything, turning and with two quick steps, drags Phil down for a desperate kiss. It is all teeth and tongue and this is the only thing Steve has any practice with so he might as well give it his best. He sucks and licks at Phil's thin lips, feeling them yield and part eagerly for him. "Yes," Phil moans, fingers scrabbling along the slope of jutting hipbones.

Steve's clever hands are almost trembling as he rubs the thin fabric of Phil's shirt collar between thumb and forefinger. He stops abruptly when his fingers fall on the top button, pulling back to look up into the man's face.

"May I?"

And somehow it is so completely different, being the one to undress the man, Phil, with his own hands. At his own pace. To touch. Everywhere. Every inch. He has seen Phil practically naked three times a week for a month and yet each patch of flesh is a new discovery. The soft and hard planes of his skin and muscle, so warm and real under his fingertips, feels like a revelation—a sensation he has fantasized about for a long amount of time.

Phil eases the jacket off Steve's narrow shoulders and a faint smile ghosts over thin lips.

"Suspenders?"

"They work better than a belt," he explains rather than admitting that most belts he purchases require him to cut an extra notch in order for him to cinch them tight enough around his waist for practical use.

"I like them," Phil outright grins, hooking his fingers under the black braces and running up the length of them. They stretch a little, pulling Steve flush against his body while he resumes kissing the shorter man. He starts to slip each one off Steve's shoulders, trailing his fingers down lean arms. "Old fashion," he murmurs against his throat, pressing more open mouth kisses along his pulse.


"What do I do?" Steve whispers, sitting naked between Phil's parted legs. His face is so open and unashamedly confused that it is possible to actually pinpoint the moment Phil begins to melt. Nervous hands skim over knee and thigh, unsure where to even start. But he is bolstered by the knowledge that Phil wants this too. Phil wants him, like this, said it so frankly that Steve's toes curled inside his socks. The flesh of his lower lip catches between his teeth as he looks down at Phil, lost but eager. "I don't want to hurt you," he says quietly and Phil is unable to stifle the moan of pleasure that escapes his throat at those unfamiliar words.

"You are unreal." He pulls Steve down for a slow, searching kiss. "Here." Taking Steve's hand in his own, he drags it over the topography of his torso to rest against the crease of hip and thigh. Phil smears a dollop of lube over his own fingers while Steve absentmindedly strokes his thumb along the ridge, soothing over bone and corded muscle. "Watch." One finger eases inside him, gentle at first, just enough to delicately stretch. Another is added, more deliberate, and then a third to open himself up further. When he looks up, Steve is captivated and hard. He grabs Steve's wrist, pressing those long fingers to his lips before sucking them inside his mouth. A whimper escapes Steve as Phil's tongue swirls between his fingertips, flicking against the sensitive skin connecting each digit. With a slick pop, he pulls the saliva-slicked fingers from his lips.

"Are you sure?" Steve checks, pressing his forehead against Phil's. Warm breath passes between them, noses bumping when he leans in to kiss him. Phil traces the sharp contours of Steve's cheeks and rounded jaw with the pads of his fingers, blindly mapping out his defined features.

"Yes," he says, pulling away far enough to give him a reassuring smile. He spreads his legs a little wider. The first slides in effortlessly and soon both long, elegant fingers scissor and plunge deeper inside of Phil's body. An endearing look of pure concentration takes shape on the artist's face, chewing the inside of his right cheek. Steve figures he must be doing something right when he hears the faint, contended sighs. A blunt fingernail glides over Phil's prostate experimentally. "St-steve," he moans, back bowing, hips arching off the mattress as his feet scrabble against the bed sheets.

Steve panics and immediately stops.

"Bad? Good?"

"Very good," Phil gasps as he settles back onto the bed, cock leaking precome against the flat of his stomach. Ducking down, Steve swipes his tongue over the wet spot, crooking his fingers just so and Phil has to bite his lips to prevent the next low groan from waking his roommate. "Okay," he breathes, voice hitching on the second syllable. With an insistent tapping on his wrists, Steve finally withdraws and patiently settles back on to his heels. Phil rearranges his pillow before fumbling with one of the foil packets he had stowed away in the very back of his closet. "Come here." Carefully, he rolls the condom onto the Steve's thick cock. Coating him with lube, Phil gives him a few lazy strokes, before lying back.

"Phil?" He positions the head of his cock at Phil's entrance, waiting for his permission. His hands glide down over solid thighs, pushing them further apart while massaging inconsequential patterns into the cradle of Phil's pelvis. The rhythmic touch grounds him. Each nerve ending alight. Phil nods, reaching up to brush the hair out of the artist's eyes.

Steve presses against the ring of muscle and carefully pushes into him. All of the doubt weighing heavy in the back of his mind disappears within an instant. Each of his senses converges on the singular sensation surrounding him. He watches the subtle change in Phil's expression, the wince of pain quickly giving way to pleasure, before the foreign and wonderfully tight heat overwhelms him completely. Thin lips fall open in a silent moan. Eyes falling shut, Steve sucks in a stuttering breath, turning to press his face into the palm of Phil's hand. And Phil smells like coffee and cheap aftershave and New York City and it makes him impossibly harder.

Rocking his hips, buried to the hilt, Steve feels the man clench around him. Torrents of adrenaline start coursing through his body as he thrusts again, slow and purposeful. He starts a rhythmic push-pull, rolling his hips until the old mattress springs begin to creak beneath them. The sound goes straight to Steve's cock and he gives into reckless impulse. One large hand slides down his pale throat, pressing flat against Steve's chest to feel the fluttering heartbeat rattling against his ribcage. His skin prickles all over and a thin sheen of sweat breaks out on his chest and the back of his neck. Not now, Steve thinks frantically. He focuses on switching to a more steady pace, hoping to use it as a metronome to control his own irregular pulse.

"Your heart's beating so fast," Phil murmurs, both palms touching the flushed skin stretched tight across his bony torso. His fingers splay out, covering the width of Steve's entire chest. They slide easily through the sweat. "Steve?" A look of pure concern draws his brows together.

"It's fine," he swallows thickly as his hips twitch erratically. "I just—" he pauses, inhaling deeply, eyes screwed shut as his blood rushes through is body. The muscles of his arms tremble and buckle beneath him, falling flat on top of Phil's prone form. His skin is too tight, his bones too brittle, joints inflexible. The pounding in his ears is deafening, a constant thud growing faster and faster and faster until he thinks every vein and artery might burst with too great an influx.

"Breathe."

Phil holds him.

"I'm sorry," Steve wheezes out, forehead resting against Phil's collarbone. Every inch of his pale skin is hot and slicked with sweat. He lets out a weak puff of laughter. It comes out mirthless. "I—"

"Don't." A pair of lips presses against Steve's temple, strong arms still encircling his shoulders.

Steve listens to Phil and bites back the apology that had been on the tip of his tongue. Instead, he concentrates on slowing his heart rate and levelling out his staccato breathing. He can feel Phil's heart against his chest, quickened with arousal but stable. Steve tries to match it. Phil runs his hands over the rolling bumps of Steve's spine, gentle and patient and Steve suddenly understands this man is rare. Someone far more intuitive and compassionate than Steve ever could have imagined the first time he saw Phil strip down to his briefs for a fist full of bills.

"Okay," Steve sighs, turning to look Phil in the eye. There is so much excess adrenaline coursing through his system and he is still hard enough to push his hips tighter against Phil and drag out a gasp from the man beneath him. A broad grin flits over his lips, confidence rebounding spectacularly. He does it again, drawing back and bucks his hips with a little more force. Quickly, he finds a better cadence that has Phil pushing back to meet his every thrust and his heart rate consistent.

Both of Phil's hands clutch at his slim waist, leaving several long, angry red streaks. They clench around him and suddenly Phil is nudging him with a bent knee until their positions are reversed. Confused and flat on his back in the tiny bed, Steve watches the other man straddle his hips and slide down onto his cock. Oh. And he cannot help but moan at the sight, bucking up into Phil.

"Would you ever draw us like this?" He stretches out above Steve, careful to keep his weight off the slighter man. Balancing with one palm pressed against the wall, he leans in close to run his tongue along the curve of Steve's ear.

"You, yes," Steve admits between pants, hands sliding around to grip the swell of Phil's ass and spread him wider, pushing deeper. Canting his hips, Steve finds the man's prostate once again, hitting it with each thrust.

"Steve," Phil groans quietly into the crook of the artist's neck, licking and sucking the pink skin beneath his lips.

"But I couldn't do you justice." Steve releases him, stretching his thin frame up to run both hands down Phil's chest, his abdomen, until wrapping firmly around his painfully hard cock. His entire body jumps at the contact; overexcited to finally be touched in everyway he has needed since Steve pulled off his tight black briefs.

"I don't—" He stifles a moan, head tipped back, his whole body arching as the artist jerks him off in concert with his thrusting hips. "I don't know about that," he says in a rush before Steve swipes his thumb over the tip of his cock, nudging his prostate at the same moment and Phil comes completely undone all over the other's stomach.

It is too much for Steve. The ropey come caught between his fingers, the look of release on Phil's face, the one he put there. Phil has to clamp a hand over Steve's mouth, stifling his jaw hiccupping moan. The shout of Phil's name is lost between the crevasses of his fingers and palm, low and full of previously unknown bliss. He is all too happy to drown in the feeling. Steve practically collapses on top of Phil, breath coming in ragged spurts as his heart slowly returns to a normal resting rate.


Hours later, they both wake up to Phil's third roommate arriving home from her late night shift, one memorable redheaded waitress. Lying in silence, his back pressed against Phil's chest, Steve has a heated internal debate with himself. Eventually, he comes to the conclusion that he should probably start getting dressed. Fortunately, Phil has other plans and quietly asks if he could have another look at a few of Steve's drawings. Wrapped in one of the bed sheets, with a sated smile plastered permanently on his face, Steve retrieves his messenger bag. He digs around and pulls out the book along with a few choice pencils. Hands covered in charcoal from the inside of his bag, he carefully flips through to his most recent group of sketches. Quietly, he draws his knees up to his chest and watches Phil examine the drawings.

"Were you a soldier?" Steve asks suddenly, even though he already knows the answer.

"Three tours in Afghanistan," is the only answer he supplies and Steve does not press him for any more information. Phil turns the page, staring at Steve's striking interpretation of his striptease. It looks much more seductive, personal, tellingly colored by the artist's perspective—almost as if he had been dancing just for Steve. Every minute detail, the way his knuckles curl around his belt, the angle of his hips when he struts, the broad smirk he wears when he is having a particularly good show, is captured with such caring precision.

"I tried to enlist," Steve says after a pause, staring blankly at the piece of paper propped on Phil's knee. He cards a hand through his hair, scratching the back of his neck. "After 9/11." The long list of health issues, past and present, hereditary and just plain dumb luck, roll through his mind in bold red ink. A litany of reasons why he was broken, unsuited to defend those he loved and for any of those he defended to ever love him. In hindsight, it had been foolish to even try going to he recruitment center. He reaches over to pick at the corner of the sheet, folding it over and flicking it distractedly. "They didn't want me." Phil glances over at him, expression unreadable.

"They don't want men like us." And Steve knows he'll spend close to a lifetime trying to figure out all the possible nuances and meanings behind those words. But there is one deafening phrase that tumbles around inside his head, one reason why Phil was discharged and left struggling to pick up the pieces of his life.

Steve leans over, fingertips dusting black charcoal along Phil's cheekbone while he kisses him breathless. He pulls away and Phil follows instinctually, prolonging the kiss with tongue and teeth. Both hands tangle in the short hair at the nape of Phil's neck, pulling him closer. The tip of his nose rubs against Phil's as he tilts his head the other direction, licking into the other man's mouth.

"Thank you, for earlier," he murmurs against Steve's pliant mouth. A slow smile forms on his thin lips as he draws back. "I've never seen anyone talk to Tony Stark like that before," and Steve has the decency to blush, pulling the sheets higher up around his chest. "Besides me," Phil laughs, knocking their shoulders together.

"I don't like bullies." It slips out automatically before he realizes the possible implications. His mouth opens and closes once before he starts to qualify his statement. "Not that you can't defend yourself or, I mean—"

Phil kisses him silent.

"Good." He nods, mouth set in a razor straight line. "I need someone like you on my side, soldier," Phil teases, stealing another kiss. "And trust me, Steve," he adds, allowing the playful smirk to come through as he places the sketchbook in Steve's lap. It is open to the drawing of Phil he had been perfecting just a few hours ago. Lips brush against the delicate shell of his ear. "You do me justice."