Pinching the bridge of his nose, Steve tried to wake himself up a bit more. It'd been two hours into his shift and all he wanted to do was rest. Another hour would do me good, he lied to himself. The door slowly slipped open to reveal a large man with blonde hair pulled into a loose ponytail and a smile wide enough to be seen across galaxies was carrying two coffee cups. Theodore, the head heart surgeon, was a friend of Steve's.
"You look like you need it," Theo, or sometimes Thor when the staff felt the need to mock him, stated with enthusiasm that Steve only witnessed in flight attendants and morning people he meticulously avoided for obvious reasons. Steve shook his head and waved his hand aimlessly, turning down the man’s offer. "Take it. I spent eight dollars on these because the girl at the counter rejected my advances," a smile appeared across Steve's lips, a low chuckle to follow thereafter. Taking the drink, he nods slowly as he examined the x-rays before him.
"Tell me what I'm looking at," Steve said plainly. Theo squinted, turning his head from side to side before shrugging his broad shoulders not in ignorance but in knowledge of what he saw.
"It seems to me to be a tumor," he stated before sipping the hot beverage.
"Now how do I tell the mother of the five year old patient that?" Steve asked, doing the same.
Theo stopped drinking, a large gulp to signify his discomfort in the situation. It wasn't easy being a doctor, the bearer of bad news and the one held responsible when the matter wasn’t fixed. Theo never knew what to say, he wasn't the best with expressing himself. "Tell her about their options. Pamphlets save me from using words they won’t understand."
Steve smirked. "Isn't there a heart somewhere that needs transplanting?"
"Go look for me; I'm not on call for another twenty minutes."
The chirping of Steve's beeper disrupts their slow conversation. "And your prayers have been answered."
"Whatever crawled up your ass this morning must have a brother up that baristas. I'll never get over paying full price for these," his smile was wide while his words began to fade as Steve left the room.
"Thanks for the overpriced joe," Steve called back before boarding the elevator.
He wasn't on-call for the ER often, he was often in cardiology or orthopedics but today he got the short end of the stick due to his tardiness. Steve wasn't a surgeon yet but he had to work his way up. Bucky understood that. Steve always dreamt of marrying his best friend, not Bucky in particular, but someone who was a best friend first. Then high school came along, a few months before junior year James ‘Bucky’ Barnes moved into the neighborhood and everything changed. They were best friends, the best of friends. When college entered the picture it was a miracle that they were accepted into the same school, the same dorm hall, too. Then Steve called it a phase, unsure of who he loved and what he loved but there was a girl, a sweet girl with brown hair and naturally bright pink lips that she always painted red. Then they kissed. A night of heavy petting and love bites as those red lips stained his face and Steve, with his hand squeezing her thighs, could think of nothing but James. It wasn't her fault, he enjoyed it, by God did he, but he wanted to be in the arms of someone else. Instead of admitting it, they went all the way. Their relationship didn’t last long because as much as he wanted to love the girl, seap into the ‘norm’ of society and have a family, Bucky was worth the sacrifice.
It took years for him to admit to Bucky how he felt. Scared and unsure of how he’d take it but they shared the same feelings. As much of a shock it was to Steve, they were on same page longer than they realized. They tip-toed around one another until Steve caved, pulling the shaggy haired brunette into a kiss. That was the moment Steve knew he’d be marrying his best friend.
The elevator ding brought the blonde back to reality, his eyes wide and bright as he tucked the ring back into his pocket and walked to the nurse desk to find his new patient file.
"Darcy," he called out to the girl who chewed her gum too hard and listened to her music too loud. "Darcy!" He called louder for her attention as she pulled the headphones out to smile at him.
"Sorry, doc. New Foster The People album came out and -"
"Folder," he interrupted with his eyes shut.
"Room 7," she said as she handed over the manila folder with an apologetic smirk.
Shaking his head, he said his thanks before turning towards the room.
The door was open, a curtain pulled to hide the face of the man who was named:
"Mr. Anthony Stark? I'm Dr. Rogers, I'll be taking care of you. Says here you came in for a wounded arm?" Steve questioned with his face buried into the folder.
"I think it's only a scratch but yeah, been bleeding for a few days now," he answered while holding up the wounded limb. "And you can call me Tony. Anthony is ... not what I liked to be called," his laugh bubbled from within his chest.
Steve tore his eyes from the pages to meet the chocolate brown eyes of the man before him. His face felt hot and flustered, his lips pulled into a wide smile that he didn't know existed until his cheeks began to ache. Tony was handsome. It was weird to even call him handsome because Steve was used to the words 'cute' or 'hot', even 'gorgeous' every once in a while but handsome was a bigger compliment. His face wasn't overly defined with a chiseled chin or a hand crafted jaw line, he was simple, average almost but utterly handsome. There was a goatee to hide most of his chin, a mustache that Steve wish he could grow as perfect.
"Well, Tony, if you don't mind, I'll need to remove the bandage to take a closer look,” Tony nodded reluctantly.
"Good looking and has manners, aren't you a rare specimen? Can I keep you?"
Steve chuckled out of kindness. Washing his hands, he peered over his shoulder at the brunette man. "Sure you don't want to take me to dinner first?"
Tony shrugged slightly, making a noise that mocked some sort of uncertainty. "Meh, life is too short for dinner. I think we can pull off jumping right into marriage or something. I need some sort of excuse to constantly stare at that face. And that butt."
Pulling the paper towel from the dispenser, Steve played shocked all too well. "And if I'm uncomfortable with you staring at my butt?"
Tony snorted. "Part of the terms and conditions."
"Have you been staring this whole time?" Steve asked with a laugh.
"I didn't stare, merely glanced. And it's a new age, doc. If you're not gay, you'd ignore me obviously flirting with you, fix my arm, and charge the insurance company for miscellaneous charges such as paper upcycle management or something. Do you really need five paper towels to dry your hands?"
Steve smiled, pulling the stool with him as he dragged the seat to the table. The gloves snapped loudly, only stinging his wrist for a slight second as he carefully removed the bandage from the bloody wound.
"I like everything to be by fives and there are thousands of paper towels around this place, we recycle here," there was no point in telling the man about his small quirk or the fact that the hospital had upstanding qualities. It wasn't as if Steve was nervous, he dealt with good looking men all the time but it was the forward behavior coming from a man like him that caused him to clear his throat for no good reason and adjust in his seat a time or two. "It may be a new age but I can't divulge personal information like that about myself. There's a chance you could sue me for sexual harassment or something. Not sure what your intentions are. Or, would be."
Tony raised an eyebrow, a smirk crossing his lips as he picked at the man's words. "My intentions, huh? This is new, never actually got this far before. Well, I - ow! Shit!" The wound was no longer bleeding but the gash was split wide open, gaping open wide enough for the muscle to be seen along the bone of his arm.
"You need stitches for your scratch. I need to clean it out before I begin. How did this happen?” Steve questioned while looking through the drawers of the room.
Tony made a face, his lips stretching to the side before speaking. “Uh, it’s been a few days. I fell through the glass door on my shower.”
Steve cocked his head to the side. “Why didn’t you come to the hospital sooner? Do you have other wounds?“
Tony shook his head. "No, just the arm." He rubbed his neck with his viable limb.
“The good news is that it isn’t that bad, it looks bad but I don't need to cut it off, and you can still talk about how nice my ass is but it needs about fourteen stitches.”
"That's awesome. I was more than sure a few Dora the Explorer band-aids would’ve done me well but stitches work. Not gonna tell you how to do your job," Tony joked as he winced slightly at the wash stinging his wound. "As for my intentions, well, I was intending on wooing you enough to let me take you to dinner, since you insisted I should, and if you didn't then I would sue you for checking my prostate without my consent.”
For once, in what felt like years, Steve bellowed out a deep laugh. “That is not how you woo someone,” Steve coughed out while washing out the wound with a syringe filled with water.
"It seems to work for me all the time," Tony said admittedly, staring at his arm and fleeting glances at the man.
Steve threaded the large curved needle before finally sticking it into the clean skin. "Let's say I am what you think I am; how do you know I don't have someone?"
Tony scrunched his face at the look of his new scar in the making. "If you are and possibly do, then I say that person isn't doing all the right things because you haven't stopped smiling since you stopped looking at my chart."
Steve cleared his throat. “If I wasn’t hospitable, then you'd think I was a bad doctor.”
“I know the difference between flattery and hospitality. Your bedside manners are great, doc, but look. You may have someone or you may not or you may not enjoy the company of those who also stand to take a leak. Either way I’m interested in you, I think you are the best looking man I’ve ever seen and I’d love to take you to dinner.”
Steve bit his lip, teetering on his indecisiveness before he looked over his shoulder for lingering ears and eyes. The last stitch was in. The thick layer of gel covered the fixed wound before Steve jumped to his feet. “And that’s all she wrote.” Steve announced with a wide smile. It was all habit after a while: bandage, papers, prescriptions, signatures and his cell phone number. His eyes were wide as he wrote the digits on the back of his card. This is happening, he told himself. Looking at the man then the card, he wrote at the bottom:
Call me Steve.
“I wrote you a prescription for something to ease the pain since it was a pretty deep wound and the next one is for …” he paused to think. It was difficult for him to hold his professional composure. “It’s my card if you need anything. You can just call the hospital and ask for me but,” Steve smiled, "I figured that you'd need me right away."
Tony caught wind of his hint. Running the tip of his tongue across his top lip, he smiled. "Thank you very much, Dr. Rogers."
"You gave him your number?" Natasha, Steve's only other friend, asked with her eyebrows raised and eyes scanning the lunch area. "Can you do that?"
"He was just an ER patient. If he was admitted, then no, but I honestly don’t know,” his voice was flat, more matter-of-fact than he usually was.
"Does this mean you're over Bucky?"
Steve couldn’t find words, so he shrugged. Natasha was an accidental friend. They met at the gym, silently fighting over a machine until she challenged him to a boxing match. He thought it was silly, primarily because he couldn’t bring himself to fight a girl over a exercise bike. Either way, it happened and the two exhausted themselves before one could be declared a victor. The next night it was all a laugh.
Natasha leaned back in her seat, propping her feet upon the table before letting out a soft sigh. "Don't have sex with him. I don't mean like ever but don't make this out to be a sex thing. I know you're not ready to open up or anything but don't just be in this for the sex. Stick to picking up guys at the gym for your sexcapades."
"It just makes me feel better. I like not being the bad guy. At least with one night stands they think I’m perfect."
"You know what makes you the bad guy? Being that stereotypical douche who can’t keep it in his pants after the person he loves leaves him."
Steve shook his head, fighting off the boiling anger. "We were engaged, Nat. It’s not easy to open myself up to people after that."
"Well, it’s been almost a year. He has Sam and you don't even remember the names of the guys you slept with. This guy wants to know you and not just fuck you, so I think you should give him a chance. Maybe this time something could work. You can’t keep waiting for Bucky."
Natasha sipped her drink with a discontent frown on her face. She was right, she was always right. If Steve's conscious could be externalized, he was more than sure that it'd be her. As much as he didn't want to admit it, it was time for him to move on. Bucky had found someone, something Steve learned through social media (all thanks to Natasha who still was friends with him on Facebook). Sam Wilson was tall, handsome, and athletic. It was sickening to think of him with someone else but it was time to move past what they had, what they could've had.
"He texted me but I don’t know what to say to him,” Steve said flatly. He wasn't enthused whatsoever.
"How old is he?" Nat asked.
Steve was clicking through his phone as he blurted out, "Older."
Nat's eyes were wide. "How old? Like 60?“
"No, no, I'd say late 40s by the least,” he quickly clarified.
"Oh. Wow. He must look really good for his age," The two were silent. Steve's phone was buzzing with notifications, though his face twisted into a frown at the last text. Natasha spoke again. "Tell him you two should have breakfast.”
Steve shrugged, his eyes never breaking from the screen. "Bucky wants to come get the last of his stuff tomorrow and I'm sure I'll be exhausted after my shift today. I don't know. Maybe I can tell him to shoot for the weekend.”
"It's Tuesday!" she yelled out. "You're going to let him linger around all week? Rogers. No," she laughed while shaking her head.
Steve shrugged again, his face still expressionless as he set the phone down on the metal table. "What do you want me to do? I don’t know how this works. I’ve only dated two people in my entire life. One was a woman who did all the work and the other broke off an engagement with me via whiteboard."
Natasha glanced at the free device, then the brooding man before snatching it and taking off running. Steve turned red, flying out his seat as the woman dashed over empty seats. The congregation area was practically empty, though the two cared little about bystanders. It was a game to Natasha while it was possible embarrassment for Steve. She texted as she ran, looking over her shoulder at the bigger man who yelled her name.
"Stop trying to fix my love life!" Steve yelled out to get as he jumped over a fallen chair and maneuvered through tables.
"If you don't go on a date now, you never will," she protested.
The phone chimed, a simple whistle notification since preset stuff didn't require much work on Steve's behalf.
Natasha stopped running. Huffing with a smile as she tossed the man his phone. "Someone wants to take you for breakfast."
Steve read the text and felt his stomach flutter.
How about breakfast tomorrow?
It's a date.
“I don't even like breakfast,” Steve huffed with his free hand on his waist.