“Why, exactly,” Steve says, yawning behind his hand, “are we going to Meatpacking District on a Saturday, when all I want is to lie in bed and ache? You know perfectly well that I got back at fucking 5 a.m.”
“You can lie in bed and ache later,” Bucky says, fixing his topknot as they step out of the door and into the muggy late morning. He’s dressed in denim shorts and Steve’s dress shirt, too-long sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and there’s a pair of vintage sunglasses perched on his nose. His metal arm is covered with a holo-sleeve, and he looks effortlessly handsome, tanned and at home in the early July heat.
Steve loves him, he really does, but he would’ve also appreciated the chance to recover from his latest mission in peace, instead of getting dragged out of bed after five hours of sleep. He glances down at his shorts and wrinkled t-shirt, tugs his ballcap a little lower, and feels like a hillbilly next to Bucky.
Bucky sticks two fingers in his mouth and lets out a terrible, piercing whistle that makes Steve’s ears ring. A taxi pulls up to the curb almost immediately, and Bucky climbs in, looking self-satisfied. Steve gets in after him, grumbling under his breath.
The taxi drops them off in front of a restaurant, and Steve gives Bucky his best unimpressed expression, only slightly dampened by his sunglasses. “A restaurant? Really?”
“Shut it,” Bucky says and sashays to the door, drawing Steve’s gaze down to his hips. “I booked this damn pre-birthday brunch two months ago, and I’m not gonna cancel it just because my patriotic boyfriend decided to punch a Nazi weapons truck in West Virginia.”
Steve considers that. “Point.”
“Exactly,” Bucky confirms. “Barnes, for two,” he says to the waiter, and soon they’re sitting down with their menus. They’ve been seated in the corner table, behind a pillar, and Steve doesn’t believe for a moment that it’s a coincidence: Bucky might be all easy grace and swift adaptation to civilian life, but he’s also a paranoid fucker.
Steve’s still half-asleep and has to squint at the menu for a long time to make sense of it, until Bucky gets fed up with him, takes the menu away and orders for both of them. Steve lets him; Bucky knows his tastes better than he does himself, sometimes.
Bucky also orders a strawberry daiquiri, and coffee for Steve. Steve eyeballs him a little as the drinks come. “Bucky, it’s 11 a.m.”
“So?” Bucky shrugs and takes a long drink through the straw. His cheeks hollow teasingly around it, and Steve has to look away. “I like the taste, and it’s not like it’s gonna have any effect on me.”
Steve rolls his eyes at him but can’t help the fond grin. “You’re picking up bad habits, baby.”
“Perks of the 21st century,” Bucky says back, loftily. “I would’ve gotten punched for a sissy drink like this back in Brooklyn. Now I’m gonna drink every single cocktail I can get my hands on, as a big, beautiful fuck you to history.”
Bucky toasts him with the cocktail glass, clinking it against Steve’s coffee cup. “Happy early birthday, babe. You’re pretty fly for an old guy.”
“I’m younger than you, asshole,” Steve says, and privately thinks, I love him like a goddamn tool.
The food is so good that Steve immediately forgives Bucky for dragging him across town for a damn brunch; Bucky gives him a dry look, somehow managing to call him out on his bullshit without saying a word. When Steve leans across the table to kiss him, Bucky tastes like strawberries and rum; like baba ghanoush and sun-dried tomatoes; like the endless, sticky New York summers.