Chapter 1 : Hey Little Songbird
Warnings : Mafia!Steve Rogers, Mobsters, Heartbreak, Cheating, Eventual romance, Sexual innuendo, Age-Gap (Reader is 21 and Steve is 30 so 9 year difference)
New York, 1933 - Wintertime
Smoke wafted in your face as you entered the club you worked at, your tattered brown coat wrapped around you tightly as your shoes stuck to the sticky floors of the club where drinks had been dropped numerous times, stains upon the floor. Times were tough, simply not enough money for anything.
Living off scraps from the club like a stray dog.
Empty promises raised their nasty heads as you entered the dressing-room round the back. The empty promises that once escaped your high-school sweetheart’s lips. Promises of a better home, better food and the wedding you always dreamed of. But he was a singer, singers like him liked to butter up a girl until they got bored or famous.
Both happened to you and your lover.
The sweet harmonies the two of you once sang together long forgotten . What remains now is a cold bed, an empty stomach and having to witness your boyfriend sleeping with some other girl.
The sweet puppy love was gone, it was now tarnished and unable to return to what it once was. Tears began to form in the corner of your eyes as you saw Wanda, your long-term friend and colleague. You pushed them back as you saw her open her arms for you, last night when you found out about your boyfriend and his little thing on the side you’d called Wanda from a payphone near the affluent bar your ex worked at, Wanda was working at the time but rushed to the phone when she heard the bouncer calling her over about how you were crying and needing Wanda. You knew that the whole club knew what happened but you in your tearful state the night before could not stop yourself from crumbling down as soon as the Bouncer answered the phone. Wanda’s voices pulled you back from reflecting on what happened just the night before
“That scumbag will get what’s coming to him! I promise!” her accent thickened as her rage increased, you giggled weakly and smiled slightly “Thanks Wan, I’m just going to work my ass off for those tips and save to get my own place.” You couldn’t stay at your shared apartment anymore, too many memories that would make you crumble.
He cheated on you, there is truly no going back from that betrayal. He pushed you away for his fame and career and slept with another girl. You couldn’t stay with a man who broke your heart in two ways. He was one of those faux-rich kind of men, ass-licking the big dogs in the most luxurious spots in town, enjoying the high-life. Meanwhile, you’re stuck singing in a sleazy club for a few dollars here and there.
He abandoned you, and you wanted out.
Reaching for the clothes rack in the dressing-room,you picked up a long white dress which trickled to the floor elegantly. The fabric was silky and ornate in its intricate design details, this dress was a hang-me-down from the previous girl who worked here before you, a girl called Birdie if you remembered correctly. Going behind the changing-screen, you slid the dress on, it accentuated your figure in all the right places. With a glance to the mirror, you smiled, the dress made you look heavenly in aura, graceful like a swan in flight. Over at the vanity, you picked up a handful of bobby-pins to slide into your hair, smoothing down the frizz and stray hairs which you tamed with a waft of your finger. The final touch was the lipstick, a splatter of red tinged your lips, it was a deep red which complimented your skin tone divinely, the one luxury you bought for yourself in this troubling time of economics.
You were ready to start your set of songs, before that you decided to peek through the red curtains of the stage to see if any patrons were sat at the booths, you usually took requests from them for an extra dollar or two, made sure you came home with a heftier amount of cash than if you didn’t. It was early in the day for the club so it was quite barren, bar the boss, Big Louis and his gaggle of goons who smoked close to the bar as Pietro, Wanda’s twin mixed drinks quicker than it took to neck a shot.
But that’s when you noticed in the corner of your eye that one booth was taken, one booth which held one man on his own. A man you’d never seen before round the club. He sat on his lonesome with a glass of whiskey in hand, staring deeply into it. You had to admit that this man was beyond attractive, he oozed a sense of power and control and as if the whole bar and everyone in it was at his command, that power made you subconsciously bite the corner of your lip out of nerves and out of another emotion you couldn’t pin-point exactly. His suit was perfectly pinched and altered to fit the man’s form which was built like a god, like one of those Greek god statues you’d seen in a Museum of history once.
You pulled back slowly from the curtains, cheeks tinted a faint shade of pink which you’d just put down to the rouge you applied to your cheeks. Mentally, you prepared to head out there just when Ricky, one of Big Louis’ goons turned the corner and squawked “Oi! The Boss wants ya!” you turned to face him “But I’m about to start my se-” you were rudely interrupted by him “The Boss wants you now!” he snapped and insisted, you sighed and walked round back to get to the bar, not wanting to face the stranger in that lone booth just yet.
“You needed me, Sir?” you spoke shyly, smoothing out the wrinkles of your dress, watching as Big Louis turned around, cigar in one hand and a drink in the other “Yeah Toots, I was hopin’ you could entertain our ‘guest’ up front?” he asked which made you frown “Just him?” you could see Big Louis visibly gulp as he glanced to the stranger’s booth “Yes. Just him. Do whatever he asks. I’ll pay you double hey triple! IF you do this for me. A small favour really!” There was a flash of desperation in his eyes, you’d never seen Big Louis so shaken before, he was the big boss of this place and took no funny business from anyone. Yet this new patron had him physically shaken and desperate? Briefly, you nodded in agreement, you needed that cash and it would get you the hell out of dodge.
Turning on your heels, you headed straight for the booth which is where the ‘guest’ was seated at. Glancing to the doors for a small moment, you saw the bouncers guarding the door alongside four new men dressed in full suits, not letting anyone enter or exit. As you approached, you felt the stranger’s eyes on you, they were a striking shade of blue you noticed as you got closer to the booth. His eyes never left you, you’d never felt so anxious or intrigued by a man before. The blue-eyed stranger took a swig of what seemed to be whisky, letting it swirl in the glass slightly, his eyes never left you as he cleared his throat to speak “Hey little songbird~” you froze, his voice was as alluring as his eyes, it had a hint of danger interlaced in its melodic tone but that only further drew you in.
He spoke up again “Gimme a song? I’m a busy man and I can’t stay long.” He cracked his knuckles “I’ve got clients to call, I got order to fill… I got walls to build.” he smoothed out his jacket for a moment and reached his hand out in your direction as if motioning for you to sing for him. And in that moment, your mouth went very dry.
‘I got riots to quell
And they're giving me hell back in Hades...’
How could one man have such power and control over you, it was baffling. From what he’d said, you knew he was a man of power. That was already evident when you first laid eyes upon him and from just seeing his mannerisms and the perfectly pinched and altered designer suit. But you couldn’t tell or know just how powerful he was, you drew a blank when you tried to comprehend that.
Suddenly, you realised you’d been silent and had let your mind drift astray and didn’t return to the current conversation till he spoke again “Little Songbird, Cat got your tongue?~” he teased which flustered you, leading to your fingers playing with the material of your dress as he began to chuckle “Always a pity for one so pretty and young~” he tapped his fingers against his glass, the rings he wore clinked against the glass gently.
‘When poverty comes to clip your wings
And knock the wind right out of your lungs
Hey, nobody sings on empty’
You’d recently turned 24, in this man’s eyes that meant you were young still, you could tell he was older but not drastic. You could tell he’d been aged by the world because of his eyes, they withheld pain and sorrow which could only be fully seen in the eyes of those who’d experienced the horrors of the current real-world of New York that everyone was trying to survive in. If you had to guess, he seemed to be at least thirty, definitely aged and in your eyes aged like a fine wine. He’d seen the world in ways you hadn’t and that further drew you in a led you to open your mouth and begin to sing for him “Strange is the call of this strange man, I want to fly down and feed at his hand, I want a nice soft place to land, I want to lie down forever…” You could feel his gaze upon your face, eyes were softly closed as you sang, you tried to keep yourself from shaking.
The man softly clapped, your eyes opened to see his face, his golden hair in the light reflected and made it resemble a halo or a crown as they were shrouded in dim lights, he reflected like a beacon. His eyes locked on yours for a moment before the drifted gently to your figure “Hey little songbird, you got something fine~ You'd shine like a diamond down in the mine~” He gestured to you with his hand before reaching into his jacket pocket with his other hand, retrieving a small white card and placing it on the table as he spoke up “And the choice is yours if you're willing to choose… Seeing as you've got nothing to lose~” he chuckled and reached to touch your chin with his thumb and forefinger, the feeling of the cold rings that were upon his fingers on your face made you shiver as he continued to speak as he held your chin “...And I could use a canary~” His voice resonated and grumbled which twinged something inside of you, something raw and unrefined.
Out of pure nerves and feeling the eyes of Big Louis on the back of your head you continued to sing, pulling away from his grasp on your chin “Suddenly nothing is as it was… Where are you now, Oscar? Wasn't it always the two of us? Weren't we birds of a feather…” the words which left your lips, the man’s expression changed for a moment, as if analysing your words in his head, before long he pat the seat beside him, motioning for you to take a seat beside him “Little songbird, let me guess he's some kind of poet and he's penniless?” He questioned as you sat beside him, you shyly nodded and stared down at the floor, how did he know that? It was as if he’d read your mind.
‘Give him your hand, he'll give you his hand-to-mouth
He'll write you a poem when the power's out’
The blue-eyed stranger was sat close to you as he kept speaking to you, as if reassuring you, the man which terrified Big Louis, was being compassionate to you? You felt his breath upon your shoulder, you shivered as he spoke again “Hey, why not fly south for the winter?” he motioned for the card which lay face down on the booth’s table in front of the two of you with his finger. You glanced to the table but your eyes fell upon a shape in his pocket, the shape of a gun on his thigh, you played with your hair out of nerves. He had a weapon and if he was as powerful as you’d thought, he had no qualms about firing that weapon in here…
He saw your gaze upon the shape in his pocket, and as sensing your nerves he smoothed his pant leg as if trying to brush it off.
The atmosphere in the club could be cut with a knife.
You were intrigued and scared of the man who was sat so close to you. But you were more intrigued and curious of the stranger, probably foolish of you but it was true. Feeling his hand upon your clothed back, it was a gentle touch as the other hand slowly reached to touch your chin, giving you enough time to pull away from him if you wanted, he waited to see if you pulled away from him. He sighed as he spoke “Little Songbird, what’s your name?” he asked, holding your chin gently as he awaited an answer, eyes locked on yours, your whole body tingling from the interaction, his voice soft and tender which danced in your ears, he felt strangely safe. Though he was dangerous, clearly, you still felt safe around him as if he could protect you.
“(YN) (LN).” You introduced yourself to the stranger, he nodded and hummed, it made a grumbling growl sound in his chest as he spoke once more to you “(YN), look all around you...
See how the vipers and vultures surround you.” He motioned to those at the bar who stared at you intently, watching like a predator in the grass, you’d never been that observant to notice the type of looks they would give you. Only Big Louis seemed disinterested, knowing that in this moment you were protected by his ‘guest’. You felt a chill run up your back, how had you not noticed you were like prey to them. Memories of work-shifts when there would be sneers and glares and touches which lasted too long for your comfort, the smell of cigarettes lingered on your dresses on nights like those. How could you have been so oblivious. The only people you could maybe trust here was Wanda, Pietro and maybe this new stranger? Something was forming, was it trust or something else?
“They'll take you down, they'll pick you clean~ If you stick around such a desperate scene.” The stranger spoke, his voice in your ear which sent shiver down to your heart and made your body quiver, could you trust him? You looked at him, your lips slightly parted as he stared down at you.
Could you trust a wolf among a pride of hungry lions?
He whispered into your ear “See people get mean when the chips are down…” He growled which made you bite your lipstick stained lips. You stared up at him, you felt his breath upon your skin, eyes wide as he picked up the card that he’d placed on the booth’s table and handed it to you
‘SONGBIRD VERSUS RATTLESNAKE’
“What is it?” you asked, keeping your hand back until he answered you, the card still turned so you couldn’t see what was on the other side, your eyes glanced up to his and he held the card out to you, holding it between his forefinger and thumb “Your ticket.” He flipped it around to show his name on the other-side and a number. Your eyes widened as your eyes fell upon the name on the card
The notorious leader of the Avengers Mob, he’d been involved with mob activity in the city since he was in his teens. From the Howling Commandos, to Shield and now the Avengers. He’d risen into power over the years. He was feared and loved by the city, depended on who you were and who’s territory you were living inside of. Your eyes fluttered up to Steve Rogers, who’s eyes were on you. You’d gained the interested of a notorious Mob Boss.
The interest of the ‘King of New York’...
And here he was. Giving you a ticket to his secret paradise. It was only spoken about in rumours about the secret underground run by Steve Rogers and the Avengers Mob. Anyone who wasn’t a part of the family wasn’t allowed in or out, that’s why it was only myth and rumour. No-one in the Avengers Mob was brave enough to rat out the location as they knew it would mean there would be hell to pay if they ever did.
Steve Rogers didn’t know you, why would he let you in? You reached for the ticket and stared at it, your finger brushed against Steve’s, you grasped the ticket as Steve’s hand picked your other hand up and brought it to his lips, laying a kiss upon your knuckles “The choice is yours. Just know this… I desire to learn more about you, to know you. To learn your quirks.” he stopped speaking for a moment and stared at you “I want to know your dreams and goals.” his voice soft and sounded like poetry, like the promises your ex used to make. You stopped that train of thought as he spoke again
“I could give you anything you desire, anything you ask of you could receive. Treated like the little goddess that you are turning into~ But… That choice is up to you.” He pulled back from you and rose to his feet, leaving you sat there in the booth, his finished whisky glass upon the table. You were frozen to the spot where you sat, clutching the ticket in hand. Steve bowed his head slightly “Thank you for the song, Little Songbird...” he winked and wandered over to Big Louis who simply shook his hand and spoke briefly. The voices of everyone was muffled, it was most likely the shock of all of this. He was giving you the opportunity of a lifetime, to get out of your old apartment where memories of your ex lingered and to be whisked off to what Steve made out to be paradise. You pondered what could be the catch, there was no such thing as true paradise on earth, there would always be darkness.
(YN) was a hungry young girl and Steve Rogers gave her a choice to make...