The ice rink looked so inviting in the crisp morning air, its flat white surface reflecting the brightly lit Christmas village around it.
Steve had stumbled upon it on his walk to the library by Bryant Park, and had stopped to take in the scene.
It was early, and there weren't too many people about yet. Steve wandered down the paths through the compact Christmas village, admiring hand crafted wooden toys and gifts, and chefs making hot crepes and sugary waffles to order. Carols played everywhere he went, some that he recognised and other songs he didn't know.
Eventually, Steve found himself back near the rink, wishing he'd come here with someone so he could have a go.
The ice made him nervous, reminded him too much of the chill of the arctic.
Not that Steve would admit that to anyone.
He'd never been able to try ice skating before. That one time slipping and sliding over a frozen lake in France with the Howling Commandos and all their equipment didn't count.
This wasn't occupied Europe, and he wasn't on a mission. This was an ice rink in New York City lit with pink and blue lights, where people in warm coats and woolly hats skated round and round, laughing and having fun.
Maybe no one would notice if Steve bumbled in on his own?
He was just a bit concerned about what the headlines might say the next day if anyone noticed him and took his picture. Captain America, spotted alone again. Can't skate at all.
Maybe he should leave.
Steve was about to turn away when a figure caught his eye, a guy about his age, wrapped up warm in a red scarf and wearing an oversized slouchy hat. His long dark hair escaped the hat as he zipped past at breakneck speed, backwards and in a perfect circle around the outer rink. He made skating look effortless.
There was a yellow arm band over his sleeve too. Steve watched the guy zip and weave among the other skaters, flying past ones who were skating fine, and slowing down to check on the ones who weren't as good.
Maybe he worked here at the rink, Steve thought.
The skater circled round again, this time slowing down as he skated past.
Steve felt shy as they made eye contact. He didn't mean to stare, it was just...
The guy was really handsome.
Steve liked the long hair very much.
As if responding to his thoughts the skater twirled around and came right over to Steve, gliding in on the ice.
"Hey," he greeted, voice husky and breath pluming in the cold air. He held onto the fence and shot Steve a very devastating grin. "You gonna have a skate?"
Steve must've looked as terrified as he felt, as the guy laughed.
"It's easy once you're out there. Come on, I'll show you."
"I... I don't know."
The guy rested his arms on the fence so he could lean in. He had pale blue eyes.
"It's free to skate," he said with a smile. "Come on. Live a little."
"Well, if it's free..."
"The skate hire is twenty, though. Unless you got your own?"
"No, but... Okay, you talked me into it."
"Sweet! It's over here." He pointed off to the side. "Kate will sort you out with some skates, then you come out on the ice and I'll be here if you need a hand. The name's Bucky."
"Okay," Steve said, a little awestruck. "I'm, um. I'm Steve. And thanks."
"Don't thank me yet, pal," Bucky said before winking at him and skating away.
Bucky was, admittedly, a flirt.
It was just the way he was. And a stacked blond with a chiselled jawline and baby blue eyes? Yeah, Bucky was definitely a flirt for that.
He skated around the rink with ease, looking for anyone who needed assisting, but they were all good.
Steve, when he eventually got onto the ice, really needed some help.
Bucky tried not to smile, watching Steve cling to the perimeter fence as his long legs threatened to slip out from underneath him.
"All right there, Bambi," Bucky joked, coming to an abrupt stop on his skates and sending up a spray of ice.
Steve just stared at him with something like betrayal for getting him out here.
Bucky laughed, and held his hand out. "C'mon, big guy. It'll be easier when you're standing. Trust me."
Steve looked at Bucky's hand, but he struggled to let go of the fence.
He looked real nervous.
Bucky changed tack immediately and slid in close beside Steve, taking a firm hold of his upper arm.
"It's cool, pal," he assured. "Just lean on me. Jesus, you're heavy. Okay, wait a sec..." Bucky dug his toe pick into the ice for leverage and tried again to get Steve standing. This time he managed it, and Steve let go of the fence.
"Knees locked," Bucky instructed, "and legs straight."
Steve was standing up on the ice and he looked rather surprised about that.
"See? You're doing great," Bucky told him, as he moved them forward slowly. "Now, hold my hand. Just platonically, of course."
"Huh?" Steve wobbled, but Bucky steadied him.
"Whoa, there, Bambi. Keep those legs straight for me."
Steve was getting a nice rosy flush on his cheeks, and Bucky smiled deviously.
"I know it's probably your first time, Stevie, so I promise I'll go easy on you."
Steve wobbled again, cursing under his breath.
Bucky held his hand tight and started showing Steve the basics of moving his feet.
As much as he wanted to flirt some more, plenty of customers would start showing up soon, and he did really want to help Steve learn to skate.
"You look familiar," Bucky mentioned, eyeing Steve's profile as he skated all on his own for the first time.
This prompted Steve to wobble a bit, but he managed to right himself.
"Got one of those faces," Steve murmured, staring down at his feet.
"Steve, eyes up," Bucky instructed. "Look where you're going."
"Oh, right. Sorry."
Bucky watched Steve and tried to think why he seemed so familiar.
"You an actor?"
"Um... I did act a little," Steve admitted. "Seems like a long time ago now."
Bucky huffed a laugh at that. "Yeah, I feel you. I used to be a figure skater."
Steve glanced up at him with that awed expression back on his face and suddenly Bucky felt a little shy himself.
Steve was real cute. Bucky hadn't expected such a built and handsome guy to be so endearing.
"Did you wear fancy costumes?" Steve asked.
Oh, Bucky thought, smiling to himself.
He glanced ahead quickly to check the way was clear, then he swivelled around to skate backwards, easily matching Steve's pace so he could look him in the eye.
"Very fancy costumes. All tight and sparkly, with nothing left to the imagination." He winked, and enjoyed watching the blush spread down Steve's neck.
"That... that sounds swell," he managed to reply.
Bucky laughed. "That's one way of putting it. Hey, I'm doing the Christmas show here in a few weeks for charity. Pretty sure I'll be in a ridiculous and revealing outfit. You should come."
"Oh, I... yeah. That's... I'd like that. I've never seen any figure skating before." Steve gave him a warm, genuine smile.
"Cool. Yeah, you should come." Bucky smiled back, and started to feel a blush heat his own face.
Bucky was feeling pretty good until he skated by the rentals and Kate beckoned him over.
"You rang, your majesty?" He skidded expertly to a stop, spraying ice over the fence just to be a jerk.
Kate brushed some ice off her coat sleeve while giving him a flat look. "We're swapping in twenty. And don't think I didn't notice you trying to hit on Captain America, either."
"Wha..? Oh, blondie." Bucky grinned. "I'll make a skater of him yet."
Kate just stared back, then rolled her eyes.
Bucky patted the fence. "Okay, grouchy. I'll be back in twenty. And I'll get his number by then, just watch me."
He winked at her but she only made a gagging motion in reply.
Bucky skated around the rink again, on the look out for Steve. He spotted him skating up ahead, a little wobbly but generally doing okay.
"Hey, champ," Bucky greeted as he slid in beside him. "Miss me?"
Steve turned to him and offered a tentative smile.
Something clicked in Bucky's mind then as he realised what Kate had said, and why Steve seemed so familiar.
He was Captain America.
Bucky wobbled and fell down on his ass, yelping in surprise.
He lay sprawled on the cold, hard ice in shock.
Captain America very carefully edged around and skated up to him. "You okay?" he asked.
"I... Yeah, I'm--" Bucky tried to get up, and a sharp pain cut through his tail-bone. "Aah! Fuck."
Mortified, Bucky looked up and whimpered, "I think I broke my ass."
"You're an idiot," Kate told him as the EMTs lifted him in a stretcher.
Bucky was lying on his side, and he covered his face with his hands and groaned.
He was an idiot.
He was an Olympic level skater and he'd slipped over like a total amateur.
In front of a national icon, no less.
Steve had gotten safely off the ice, and was waiting for them by the fence. He approached the stretcher, a concerned look on his handsome face.
"Bucky, I'm so sorry."
Bucky grimaced in reply, tried to smile through the pain. "Not your fault, Steve. Happens to the best of us."
Kate snorted at that, and waved him off. "Have fun at the ER."
Bucky flipped her the bird and gritted his teeth as the EMTs secured him onto a gurney.
"I can't believe this," he groaned.
"They'll do an X-ray at the ER," one of the EMTs said. "Might just be bruised."
"Bucky, is there anything I can do?" Steve looked down at him pleadingly.
Bucky gathered enough sense to reply, "Yeah, actually, you can give me your number and take me to dinner."
He grunted in pain as the gurney moved and they started to wheel him away.
"When I can sit down again," he added.
"Just get one of those inflatable rings," the other EMT said. "You know, like the kids toys."
"Hey, excuse you, pal," Bucky said to him, "I'm trying to get a guy's number here. Don't make me sound like an even lamer date, thank you."
The EMT only laughed and shook his head.
Steve smiled shyly, still walking alongside them. "I can come to the ER with you?" he offered.
"And let you see me having my ass checked out? No way."
"I dunno," Steve murmured, "that doesn't sound so bad."
Bucky laughed despite his embarrassment and the twinge of pain. "Ow. Oh, man. Shut up and give me your number, Steve."
They swapped numbers, Steve waving goodbye at the roadside as Bucky was loaded into the ambulance.
Bucky texted him from the ER as he waited to see a doctor.
Steve was a little slow at texting, but he replied every time. And he was even more charming the more Bucky chatted with him.
You better take me somewhere nice, gdi.
I'd love to. What do you mean, I'd better? Will you hunt me down if I don't?
LOL no. But you're responsible for my broken ass.
I thought you said it wasn't my fault? :(
I fell over bc I realised you were Captain America, and as you can see it kinda floored me.
Wow. I didn't know I could literally sweep a guy off his feet so easily. ;)
You are such a lil shit. :p
Seriously tho. My ass.
It's probably just a hairline fracture. A buddy of mine, Dum Dum, did exactly this same thing when we were crossing a frozen lake in winter.
And did he gripe much after?
Yes. For months.
Good. Then you know what's coming. I'm seeing a doctor now, I'll send you a selfie.
I don't know what that means, but okay :) Good luck!
Bucky was slightly put out to find out that his ass wasn't completely broken after all, and it was a hairline fracture. It would heal within a few weeks, if he took it easy.
Details didn't matter so much when he had actual Captain America texting him about it, checking up on him.
Everyone else Bucky knew thought his ass situation was pretty funny, and kept bringing him inflatable rings for him to sit on while he recovered at home.
So, when are you taking me on a date? :p
Whenever you feel up to it :) Just say when.
I think by next weekend I'll be good.
Obvs I can't put out tho, not with a broken ass... ;)
Well, my ass ain't broken :)
Srsly tho, I want to go on a date with you :)
You got it, Buck :)
On Sunday, Steve took him on their first date. They ended up postponing dinner and went to the theater instead, because it was dark and hopefully no one would notice Bucky sneaking in a small inflatable ring so he could actually sit down.
It was a little awkward when he shifted during the movie, because the plastic ring made a noise like a loud fart.
But Steve found it funny and he had a real nice laugh, so...