A/N: Aaannd here's the final chapter! Really short fic, I know. Like I said, it's from a prompt. Look at it this way though! I'm actually capable of finishing a fic! For those who have read Unexpected, I seriously apologize for the delay in updating. My co-writer and I have been busy and stressed with trying to find work(me) and schooling(her). Just know that the next chapter is almost done and just needs a few tweaks before I post it.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
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Damn it, Steve thought, staring at the gun attached to the thug's waistband. There are too many people here for a fight. He calculated any possible situation, violent or otherwise, should the man actually draw his weapon. Glancing at the bar, Steve got an idea.
"How about we make a little wager?" he asked smoothly. When the thug's eyes gleamed with interest, he continued, "If I can drink more than you and both of your buddies, you leave the girl and this place alone."
"And if you lose?" the brute spat.
"If I lose, then I'll walk away and leave you to your business." Steve silently thanked God that any pictures taken of him were in uniform with his mask, ensuring that no one recognized him.
The other man smirked deviously and chuckled low in his chest. "You've got yourself a deal. Joe, you go first," he called over his shoulder.
Joe, the biggest of the trio, stepped up to the bar and grinned maliciously at Steve. They were equal in height, but the Captain was more muscular. "Get us two bottles of Bicardi 151 and three shot glasses," he ordered the still frightened man behind the counter. Pulling out a coin from his pocket, Joe slapped it onto the counter declaring, "First to miss three times loses. Drink every time the coin goes into the shot glass."
The Captain nodded his head seriously. This was going to be all too easy. The bottles of liquor were unscrewed and Joe went first, lining up the coin with the shot glass and bouncing it on the counter to land in the empty container. Steve tipped the bottle into his glass and shot it back, the burn lasting longer than before, most likely because it was straight liquor instead of whatever mixed drink the bartender had whipped up for him before.
Then, it was Steve's turn to make the coin go into the small container. Mimicking Joe's movements, Steve lined up the coin with his target and flicked his wrist to bounce it home. It hit the counter… and missed. One. The coin rebounded off of the edge of the glass and clattered onto the countertop. Steve had tossed it too hard. Next time, he would have to keep his strength in check. Next time, he would not miss.
The coin clinked into the glass again and both men drank their respective shots, Joe drank his with a haughty expression because of Steve's first miss. Once again, it was Captain's turn and he lined up the shot perfectly, measuring his strength before letting the small circle of metal hit the counter… only to have it fall short and bounce off the side of the glass. Two.
"Heh, this is gonna be a quick game, eh fellas? Might as well make ourselves comfortable," said the leader of the hooligans. He greedily scooped the woman closer to him and began nuzzling her neck noisily.
Steve had to grit his teeth to keep himself from swatting the disgusting man across the room. He took a deep breath to cool his head and took his turn, watching in triumph as it finally tinkled around the glass. Carefully keeping the grin from his face, he and Joe took the shots.
The game began in earnest, now that the Captain had figured out exactly how much strength to use. Supersoldier muscle control helped things along a bit. More shots were taken and when they were finally on the twelfth shot, Joe missed his first toss. He looked mildly irritated and grudgingly slid the coin across the counter. It took him a moment to be able to sit up straight again, the alcohol taking its toll on Joe's body. He swayed back and forth to gain his balance and blinked rapidly. Steve could only imagine the kind of effect the Bicardi was having on the other male since it was not around when he was able to become inebriated.
Steve made his shot and poured his drink calmly. They were nearly down to half a bottle and the leader of the troublesome trio was looking annoyed that Steve was showing no signs of having drank that much, while his lackey missed his glass and poured the liquor onto the bar top. Steve slowly reached over and guided the man's hand over the little shot glass and poured it for him. He felt mildly guilty for getting a man this drunk and making him drink more, but at least if he could drink these guys under the table, they would be unable to make trouble elsewhere for the night.
Joe shot again and missed for the second time. He looked at the small container incredulously; most likely trying to figure out which one he was seeing was the real one. That's enough, Steve thought, and he voiced his opinion.
"No, I ain' lost yet," Joe slurred. "Boss, 'f I do lose, Mark shure make it does better." He stopped for a moment and concentrated on what he said. "Make sure Mark does better," he corrected slowly.
"Damn right, I will," replied 'Boss' venomously. "Useless pile of shit! Can't even get through half a bottle of 151 without swayin' around." He swatted at the back of Joe's head and made him stumble drunkenly out of his seat and fall to the floor in a heap. Apparently, he was drunker than he had let on.
Not even pausing to glare at the Boss, Steve got down from his barstool and knelt down to help the drunken man to his feet. "You don't have to keep going," he whispered. "You can just walk away before things get worse."
"Gerroff!" Joe spat, ripping his arm from the Captain's grip. He stumbled a few steps to the bar and grabbed the coin again. "I can do this," he said. His tone was solemn and slightly panicked. What was he afraid of if he lost? Steve glanced at Joe's boss again and remembered the gun on his hip. The gun that he would not allow to be used if he could help it.
Steve weighed his options. If he let Joe lose, he risked possibly endangering Joe himself. If he lost intentionally, he would have to leave the bar at the mercy of the two remaining men. Unless… Steve thought, calculating odds and the amount of time he would have. Nodding his head, the soldier made up his mind.
He quickly strode over to the bar and pretended to stumble as he took his seat. Steve clamped a hand on Joe's wrist, stopping the bounce he was about to toss. "'Ts m' turn," Steve slurred. He made eye contact with the disoriented man and squeezed the wrist reassuringly, giving a small smile. Joe must have understood the gesture, because he gave an almost relieved smile of his own and put the coin back onto the counter.
Steve picked up the coin and took one more look into the other man's eyes and flicked his wrist. The clink of metal against glass was almost palpable as the coin bounced off the rim of the shot glass to land on the counter and roll to the floor. Steve only shared Joe's look of surprise for a moment before he stood to leave.
The Boss's face was pure triumph as he cheered and groped the woman in his arms for the umpteenth time. She looked dismayed and disappointed that her savior had let her down. The bartender had a similar expression on his features as Steve turned from the bar. His face turned confused when he caught the wink the tall man gave him. Stepping out of sight from the curious gazes of the other customers, Steve could hear the raucous laughter of the two troublemakers behind him.
The street was busy as usual for this time of night as he left the bar. Steve looked for the nearest street sign and quickly pulled out the small rectangle of plastic that everyone insisted he carry to dial three numbers. "911, what is your emergency?"
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Steve waited while the police officers showed up and he calmly explained the situation inside.
"Thank you, Mr. Rogers. We've actually had several complaints about this particular bunch. Now that we know one is carrying a weapon, it gives us a reason to take them in," one of them said. The other just stood lazily by the car, smoking a cigarette.
"Not a problem," Steve replied with a long learned respect for authority. "Just be careful. I don't know how much more they've had to drink since I stepped out."
"You can leave things to us, sir." He nodded to emphasize his point. Both officers went in without a second glance at Steve.
Curiosity and worry got the better of him, making the supersoldier wait by his bike for the officers to come back out with their quarry. He jumped slightly when he heard raised voices and glass clattering around, but he smoothed his expression when he saw the three men being led to the police cruiser. Satisfied only when the door closed on the yelled curses flying from within, Steve kicked his motorcycle to life and headed home, replaying his adventure in his head as he drove and feeling the rewarding sensation of a good deed done.
Steve stepped into his apartment and tossed his coat onto the old fashioned couch, ready to just take a shower and go to bed. Just as he passed through the kitchen to get to the bathroom, a glint of gold caught his attention and reminded him of the reason he needed to get out.
Picking up the small piece of paper, Steve read the lines again, feeling the sting of regret as vividly as the first time he read them. The words swam in his mind as he placed the invitation back onto the table and turned his back on it, opting for sleep instead of the shower. Steve stripped down to his boxers and climbed under the sheets of his bed slowly, mulling over the past as he so often did. He fell asleep to the sound of the horns honking in the street, the sound of his own upbringing, with the image of those damned words imprinted behind his eyelids:
We would like to cordially invite you to the wedding ceremonies of:
Anthony Stark & Pepper Potts
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A/N: Well, there ya have it. Go ahead and tell me what you think!