best chicago restaurants

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Title: Nice Work If You Can Get It
Rating: Mature (Steve/Tony, background Pepper/Natasha)
Summary: Steve swore he’d never be a kept man, but a lot can change in five years.
Notes: This is a sort-of, could-be sequel to Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do, my cop-and-gangster AU set in Chicago in the early 1930s. This isn’t necessarily what did happen after – but it’s what could have. Written for @wandererriha and @scifigrl47, who asked for it. 

It’s less porny than you wanted, I’m afraid. :D

***

Afterward, Steve wished it had been more dramatic – he wished he’d stormed into the commissioner’s office, or the mayor’s, and thrown his badge on the desk or something similar. He should have, he reflected. But instead, he simply cleaned out his desk (never very cluttered to begin with), typed his resignation letter, and left it on the blotter. He didn’t know who found it or who turned it in to the commissioner, and he was sure he didn’t care.

He should have sent a copy to Clint. Clint would have published it in the paper, and Steve’s vitriolic excoriation of Chicago’s civil service could have maybe had some effect. But he didn’t think of it until later.

He just resigned from the force, viciously and permanently, burning his bridges behind him the way Steve tended to do.

The corruption of the Chicago police department has been known to me for some time, but I could no longer collude with it when I became aware of the extent of the graft and the abandonment of any thought of civil service at its highest levels. I resign in vocal protest over the behavior of the Chicago police and the Chicago mayor’s office and its morally reprehensible refusal to serve the people to whom it swore service.

It was noon when he resigned, a brisk, chilly Friday in September of 1938. He walked out of the precinct with a few valuables in a satchel – a framed photo of himself with Tony and Pepper, a small booklet of news clippings, a favorite pen – and went to the Iron.

“Good afternoon, Detective Rogers!” called the maitre’d, as he shed his hat and coat in the reception room of the best restaurant in Chicago. “Get you seated in just a minute, I’ll have someone lay out your table.”

“No need,” he said, giving her the best smile he could muster. “I’ll just have a sandwich at the bar. Check this for me, would you?” he added, handing her a satchel. “I’ll pick it up next week.”

She looked perplexed, but nodded. “However you want, sir. Mr. Stark’s on the premesis, shall I let him know you’re here?”

“Sure, tell him I’ll be up after I eat,” he said, giving a nod to the mirrored glass of the Iron’s second-floor office, overlooking the dining room, just in case.

(There is a readmore below! Read more! :D)

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When Billy Shuckle was a little boy living in the streets of north Chicago, he only had one dream; to own the greatest steakhouse in the world. Billy’s uncle, Bernie Shuckle, owned a small restaurant, a hole in the wall barely discernible from its brick exterior. It was there that Billy learned the magic of a well-cooked steak. “The meat does all the work, lil’ buddy,” Bernie would say, “All you need to add is love.”

Bernie fell on hard times. The restaurant closed and he left town. He left Billy behind with naught but his dreams. Dreams of steak.

After dropping out of high school, nobody thought he could make it. But he had skills nobody had ever seen. He worked his way through culinary school, washing dishes at night as he dreamed of the magic he’d create in a kitchen of his own. After graduating at the top of his class, he traveled the world and learned the art of the steak from the grandmasters. And he learned more than just steak. He learned to fight, to laugh, to love, to sacrifice. He made friends with whom he shared a bond thicker than A1. And when his training was complete, he returned with the friends he’d made to that abandoned hole in the wall where he’d decided what his dream was, so many years ago.

It wasn’t easy opening the steakhouse, but Billy and his faithful crew persevered, and at long last opening night arrived. The tables were set. The stoves were fired up. The line forming outside was hungry. Showtime.

That first night went by in a flash. Billy couldn’t tell you the specifics of it. It was a blur of heat and the sizzle of the grill and the chatter of the dining room. It was a resounding, unprecedented success. And many more nights just like it followed. The inspiring tale of Uncle Shuckle’s Steakhouse swept through Chicago within days. So ecstatic was the praise from its customers, it quickly caught the attention of the most renowned young food critic in the city – Coolio Hunkrumps. And Coolio wasn’t about to let Shuckle’s be crowned the best new restaurant in Chicago before he had a say in it. 

Coolio arrived for his reservation right on time. He sat. He ordered. He waited. And when the steak arrived from the kitchen, it seemed to have a heavenly glow surrounding it. A glow emanating from Billy Shuckle, who had seen to serving Mr. Coolio himself. 

“Your steak, sir." 

"thanks bruh”

Coolio, always one for theatrics, inspected the steak from every possible angle. He poked and prodded with his fork, and after five agonizing minutes, he took his first, highly-scrutinizing bite.

What Coolio experienced in that bite could not feasibly be put into any known culinary terms. With this bite Coolio knew that he had met the Steak God, and that his quest for the perfect steak was at long last over. He envisioned a future in which he ate every meal at Shuckle’s, where he and Billy would form the greatest bond between cook and critic the world had ever seen, and he had watched Ratatouille 43 times. But what– HOW could he express the feelings that piece of meat had just inspired in him? His usual forced eloquence failing him, Coolio spoke the honest words of the chill teen he was.

“it’s raw bruh” Coolio whimpered

“Excuse me, sir?” Billy asked, shocked and horrified. 

“this steak is raw tbh” Coolio reiterated, tears in his eyes

The whole restaurant had gone silent. The Coolio Hunkrumps had received a raw steak? 

Uncle Shuckle’s would never recover from the damage done by such a cold, condemning, heartless review from the city’s top critic. 

The end.