Things had been more than a bit awkward between you and Steve after the karaoke night.
Well, more accurately, you had been more awkward. You suddenly seemed to have developed a heightened awareness of your best friend, noticing the moment he entered the room, finding yourself focussing all of your attention on him and studying every minute detail of his features.
You’d always known that Steve was a good-looking man. A person would have to be blind not to notice just how ridiculously attractive he was. Tall, broad-chested, the shoulder-to-waist ratio of a Dorito, with a heart-stopping smile and fanfiction blue eyes framed by disgustingly long eyelashes. He reminded you of old-fashioned Hollywood heartthrobs like Cary Grant or Gregory Peck.
But you had never before found yourself actually feeling physically attracted to Steve. It wasn’t his looks that had endeared him to you. It was his sweet personality, his old-fashioned charm and gentleman-like manners, his tough but fair moral code, and his unexpectedly dirty sense of humour that had drawn you to him like a magnet from the moment you had met him.
However, since that night at the karaoke lounge, you had found yourself thinking almost constantly about him. You suddenly noticed every glance, every gesture, every comment, and analysed every single little detail to try to determine just how long your best friend had harboured feelings for you.
Looking back over every interaction you’d ever had with Steve, you realised that the signs had always been there, but they were subtle enough that you’d never really paid attention to them before. The way his eyes always found yours no matter where you were in the room. The special smile that he reserved just for you. How he went out of his way to seek you out at every function.
Steve always opened the door for you when you went to get coffee together; he always pulled your chair out when you went to your favourite diner for lunch; he always offered to pay, even though you insisted on paying for your share. But you’d assumed that it was just due to his upbringing. He was simply being the gentleman his mother had raised him to be. Wanda had been insisting for ages that you were Steve’s favourite, because he never did any of those things for the others, but you’d laughed off the suggestion as playful teasing. Now you understood that she’d been telling you, with her usual subtlety, just how deep Steve’s affection for you ran.
Your best friend was in love with you. And you were beginning to suspect that perhaps you cared for him as more than just a friend, too.
You were in serious trouble.
Your friendship with Steve had always been casually physical. You had no issue with sitting with your legs draped across his lap, or snuggling up to him on the couch, or playing with his hair as he lay with his head on your lap when watching a movie. You would quite often hold his hand whenever the two of you walked around New York City in your free time. You’d freely given him kisses and cuddles – always strictly platonic, as you did the same with everyone else – and would regularly leap onto his back and demand that he give you a piggyback ride, usually when you’d had too much to drink and your legs no longer worked properly.
However, since the karaoke night, you made a point of avoiding physical contact with Steve as much as possible. The easy affection you’d shared now seemed strained, all because you were embarrassed that you’d kissed him.
Steve had thought non-stop about that kiss since it had happened. He’d replayed every nanosecond of it in his mind. He wished fervently that he’d kissed you back, but he’d been in such a state of shock that you’d actually kissed him in the first place that by the time his brain had caught up with what was happening, you’d already beaten a hasty retreat.
He needed to get things back to the way they’d been before. Now that he had a glimmer of hope that you reciprocated his feelings, he was more determined than ever to win your heart.
So now, whenever he saw you, he made a point of touching you. A pat on the shoulder where his hand lingered just a fraction of a second longer than necessary, a hug that lasted slightly longer than usual, brushing a strand of your hair behind your ears… and whenever he sat next to you, he made damn sure that his leg pressed against yours, or his arm was around your shoulders, or his pinky finger would inevitably end up linked with yours. He felt the spark of attraction every time he touched you, and he had a strong suspicion that you also felt it, although you very carefully maintained a neutral expression and acted as if nothing had happened.
It was getting to the point where he was desperate to kiss you again. It took every ounce of restraint he had not to grab you whenever he saw you so that he could kiss you until you both saw stars. Especially every morning when he saw you shuffle sleepily into the kitchen, adorably dishevelled and in those tiny sleep shorts and singlet that you always insisted on wearing instead of pyjamas. It was beginning to wear down his resolve to always be a gentleman around you.
Steve glanced at his calendar and realised that tonight was game night. That meant darts, table tennis and, of course, pool. He had a sudden thought, and grinned to himself when he realised he had the key to getting you to go on a date with him.
You were never able to resist a challenge, and he was damn well going to give you one.
Steve had been driving you crazy all night. Putting his hand on your back, lingering there, tracing patterns up and down your spine, all while pretending that he wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. Making suggestive comments with a perfectly innocent expression on his face, knowing that it was making you grind your teeth in exasperation. Leaning in close to whisper to you, so that his lips brushed the shell of your ear when he spoke.
If Steve Rogers was trying to make you spontaneously combust from pent up sexual frustration, then he was doing a mighty fine job of it.
And now, after Clint had once again comprehensively beaten everybody at darts and Bruce had stunned everyone by defeating reigning champion Natasha at table tennis, Steve made a suggestion that had every Avenger staring at him in slack-jawed amazement.
“Are you serious right now?” You looked at Steve, trying to determine if he was pulling one of his pranks. Don’t let the all-American good looks fool you, folks. Captain America is a massive troll.
He nodded. “One game, doll. Me against you. If I win, you go on a date with me.”
Ripples of excitement ran through the team. Did they just hear correctly? Had Cap finally worked up the courage to ask you to go on a date?
You stared at Steve with a stupefied expression. “You honestly expect to beat me at pool? You seriously expect me to take that bet?”
He smirked at you. “Unless you’re scared you might actually lose for once,” he taunted.
You narrowed your eyes at him. He was up to something, you could just feel it. “Fine. But when I win, you need to go to the next Yankees home game with me. In a Yankees jersey.”
If Steve wanted to play dirty, so could you. Steve absolutely hated the Yankees, and the entire world knew it. It would be absolute torture for him to turn up to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium, dressed in their gear, and you would enjoy every single second of his discomfort.
“Sure.” He held out his hand, waiting for you to shake on the deal. You shrugged, then shook to make it official.
Nat immediately started taking bets, with most of the team backing you to defeat Steve. Only Clint seemed to think that Cap had any chance of winning. Steve was the only one who ever gave you a run for your money, and had come close to beating you several times in the past.
As you racked up the balls, Bucky looked at Steve in horror. “What did you agree to that for, punk? You know she’s going to kick your ass, right? You’ll be wearing a Yankees shirt before the week is out.”
“We’ll see,” Steve replied, a wicked glint in his eye.
It had been a close game, with Steve missing only one shot after he broke, thus allowing you to take control and sink all but the black. It looked like you were going to maintain your undefeated status after all.
Steve stood directly behind you as you lined up your final shot. Looking back over your shoulder, you frowned at him. “What on earth are you doing, Steve?”
He shrugged nonchalantly. “Just checking that you’ve lined your shot up perfectly.”
You snorted with derision. “You’re trying to distract me, and it’s not going to work. Do you honestly think I’m going to miss?”
“First time for everything, doll-face.”
“Never gonna happen, Rogers. I am not giving up the chance to see you in a Yankees jersey.”
You turned your attention back to your shot. However, you suddenly found it exceedingly difficult to concentrate, as Steve had leaned over you and placed his large hands on your hips. Murmurs of delight, shock and surprise were heard from the others, unable to believe the sight before them. Steve Rogers was being handsy and openly flirting with you. In front of the entire team. Wonders would never cease.
“What the hell, Rogers?” you squeaked with indignation.
He gave you a mischievous wink, squeezing your hips, his fingertips digging into your flesh. You were fairly certain you were going to find finger-shaped bruises the next day. “You always say that nothing can distract you. Let’s put that to the test, shall we?” He leaned over you once more, his breath tickling your ear as he whispered huskily, “Pretty sure you’re not going to make this shot, doll.”
You did your best to ignore him. You really did. You were a trained sniper after all, and had years of experience at blocking out distractions, concentrating solely on your intended target. Taking a deep breath, you brought the cue back, and exhaled just as you took your shot to sink the black and win the game.
In the same instant, Steve pressed a feather-light kiss to the back of your neck. It was a mere whisper of a touch, so soft that most people probably wouldn’t have felt it. But you, who were trained to notice the slightest change in direction of a breath of wind, felt it as if you had received an electric shock.
Several things happened at once.
You jumped up with an undignified shriek as if you had been shot, causing your head to crash into Steve’s nose with a loud thump. He fell to the floor with a cry of pain and a gush of blood, as Bruce and Sam raced to his aid.
Your sudden movement caused the tip of the pool cue to rip a massive hole in the felt on top of the pool table, making Tony yell that he was taking the cost of fixing it out of your salary.
You completely mistimed the shot, sinking the white ball and hitting the eight ball with such force that it flew off the table, straight into Thor’s face, causing him to sport an impressive black eye for nearly two weeks.
And you lost the game.
You entered the medical bay, arms crossed over your chest. Steve was sitting forlornly on the bed that the medical staff had bullied him onto. He winced as the nurse finished placing the plaster on his nose, but visibly brightened when he noticed you standing in the doorway.
“Despite your best efforts, Captain Rogers’ nose isn’t broken. So he’ll live,” Dr Cho advised you in an amused tone as you came and stood by Steve’s bed.
He grinned at you sheepishly, ignoring the cut on his bottom lip from where the back of your head had connected with the front of his face. “Idn’t dat grade newd? My node idn’t brogen!”
You snorted. “It certainly sounds like it’s broken.”
“It’s just from the swelling. It should go down in a couple of days.” The nurse smiled at you as she turned to leave the room. “You did a pretty impressive job, Agent Y/L/N.”
“I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I’m hard-headed.” The nurse snorted as she attempted to suppress her laughter.
Dr Cho gave Steve some pain medication and instructions on how much to take and when, then left the two of you alone. You stared silently at Steve while he squirmed uncomfortably. Your gaze softening slightly as you took in his pitiful expression, you asked, “So are you going to tell me what the hell that was all about?”
“I jud really don wad do wear a Yangees shird in publig. It would ruin my image.”
“I really fuckig hade da Yangees.” The puppy dog eyes he gave you would have worked on absolutely anybody else.
“Is that the only reason you decided to cheat?”
“I didden cheed!” Steve cried indignantly.
“Oh, really? So that little stunt you pulled was, what, just for the hell of it?”
Steve pouted. It shouldn’t have looked as adorable as it did. “You alwayd dell me dat nudding ditrags you. I jud wadded to dee if it wad drue.”
“And that whole thing about taking me on a date if you won? Did you really need to resort to cheating to get me to go on a date with you?”
“Well, dis way you cand day no.”
Smacking his shoulder, you glared at him. “Steve Rogers, if you want to go on a date with me so desperately, then just bloody well ask me!”
Suddenly turning serious, Steve looked at you with a hopeful expression on his handsome, slightly beaten up face. “Y/N, will you plead go on a dade wid me?”
Rolling your eyes, you replied, “If it will prevent you from acting like a complete idiot in the immediate future, then I suppose I can go on one date with you. We can’t have America’s favourite senior citizen being unhappy, can we?”
The smile on Steve’s face could have generated enough power to light up a small country.