Steve rubs his forehead. The noise of the future gets to him occasionally. Not so much the volume, he grew up in New York and then went to war; it's pretty comforting to know cabbies are just as foul-mouthed and short tempered as they were seventy years ago. He sometimes thinks about going to London to see if the English are still as good at insulting you to your face whilst apparently being incredibly polite; he still remembers fondly the time Peggy complimented a general, the general smiled indulgently at the pretty girl, and Falsworth went five different shades of red trying not to choke on his tongue. Apparently she'd just called him a blithering idiot who couldn't find his ass with both hands, worse than useless and that she hoped he'd fall off the face of the earth. All the other commandos' faces had been something to see.
The problem he's having is the type of noise. It's the low-level hum that all the electronic devices emit, and in a place like SHIELD where they've got a thousand and one screens and devices on at once, it's like being in Howard's lab when he's running the really big generators. Only with more beeping and the occasional blast of what he's informed are classic songs or film scores from cellphones. He recognises a couple - one of the fellows on the range has the Tarzan yodel as his message alert, and someone who's in the canteen at the same time as him has Anything Goes - but most of what they call classic is after his time. Today he opts for the fresh air rather than the gym for some respite, the traffic noise and yelling and distant sirens ever present. It's a lot better than the unsettling quiet and rustling of the forests of Europe.
"So how's the future treating you?" One of the agents that litters SHIELD asks, leaning up against the wall and pulling out a packet of smokes from inside his coat. You don't see them much - it's another of those welcome to the future things, no smoking inside. The agent sees him glance at the pack, and sighs. "Yeah, I know, bad habit and they'll kill me someday, but I figure this job's got more of a chance than these." He taps one out and lights it, the glow accentuating his cheekbones.
"Really?" Steve asks. "I thought it was just over - you know, like the old VD or Nazis under the bed posters."
"Yep. Whole host of nasty diseases. Cancer, mostly." The agent says cheerfully. "You want one?"
"Never got the habit aside from the occasional one I could scrounge for my asthma, and most of the time I couldn't afford those." Steve says.
"Cigarettes for asthma?" The agent asks, stopping mid inhale and coughing as the smoke goes down the wrong tube. "Now I've heard everything, and I work for SHIELD."
"Frozen national icons are just ten a cent, huh?" Steve asks.
"Yep." The agent stretches out a hand. "Anyway. James Barnes. Bucky to my friends."
Steve takes it. "Steve Rogers. But then you already know that." He pauses. "The only nickname I used to have was Cap, but Steve works better while they're figuring out what to do with me." A glint of metal catches his eye as Bucky's sleeve rides up, and it's not a watch or bracelet. He turns the hand he's holding over, curious to see what new future device it is.
Bucky shrugs, pulling off his glove and waggling his fingers. Which are also metal. "You know how I said this was high-risk? Got myself a new arm courtesy of R&D after I served in Afghanistan."
"Bomb?" Steve asks, fascinated by how it moves like a real hand, imagining this kind of thing on all the men he served with who lost limbs. The fake limbs he's seen so far all look like they used to be on robots or mannequins, no matter how advanced, and it's mostly legs. Afghanistan's the current war, though they call it peacekeeping. Apparently America is constantly fighting some war or other, the location just changes. There was even one called the Cold War, which is the oddest sounding thing he's ever heard about fighting. Makes it sound like they spent the entire time in the Arctic.
"Fell off a train." Bucky says. Steve blinks. "Yeah, it takes a while to explain. And a few drinks."
in which they go for a drink and Bucky has to break some bad news.
"You still on for that offer of a drink to introduce a soldier on medical leave to the world?" Steve says the next time he sees Agent Barnes in the canteen. "I figured we could trade stories about falling off things and being guinea pigs for the military."
Bucky raises an eyebrow as he kicks the chair in front of him out for Steve. "Who said I was a guinea pig?"
"That arm ain't standard commission." Steve says, putting his tray down. "Did a bit of searching on a computer, and that there is a 100% step forward those with nothing left to lose experimental procedure." He gestures at himself. "Speaking as an experienced guinea pig."
"Okay, you got me there." Bucky says. "Though what's this about falling? You crashed that plane, we have the audio records to prove it."
"...Jumping? Got my paratroopers and everything." Steve offers. "Well. Technically. They kept telling me off for not using a parachute."
In the hole in the wall but still clean bar Bucky drags them to, Steve's wincing as he looks at the menu. "No-one told you about the prices, huh?" Bucky says sympathetically. "Be glad we're not in one of the fancy uptown ones."
"How does anyone even afford to drink?" Steve asks. "Ten of those would cover a soldier's pay for a month!"
Bucky shrugs. "Welcome to the future. Think of it this way, at least it probably tastes better. And stay away from the Budweiser."
When Steve stops gaping like a landed fish at the prices, they get back into swapping stories. "Did you hear what they tried when I woke up?"
"I don't think there's anyone who didn't hear about the clusterfuck that was your jailbreak." Bucky says, sipping his beer. "I think they convinced the tourists they were filming the latest big budget. Heard whoever in psych was responsible for thinking it'd work got a rocket up their ass from Fury."
"I thought I'd been captured by the Nazis, there were so many details off." Steve says. "I mean, if they'd just used a modern Dodgers game on the radio they'd have had a better chance convincing me it was real."
Bucky starts to reply, then pauses, remembering the amount of ranting his grandpa did with a few beers in him about O'Malley. "Um. About that, Steve, there's something I gotta tell you..."
The barman comes back a few minutes later to see the big blond guy with his head in his hands and his friend patting him on the back sympathetically. "Bad news?"
"Poor guy just found his favourite player got traded." The friend says. "Steve, it's not the end of the world."
"Traitors." Steve mutters resentfully. With feeling. "This is a joke, right?"
"Nope." His friend says. "Look it up on the official site, it's there in black and white."
"Is this why Coulson kept changing the subject when I asked?" Steve asks.
"Probably." His friend says. "You could always try supporting the Mets. That's who most people from Brooklyn support these days."
"The Mets." Steve looks like he wants to spit, even though that's definitely a Brooklyn accent he's got. He's now glaring at his friend like the friend suggested drowning puppies for fun. "You want me to support the *Mets*." He drains his beer, then adds darkly "I've seen the Mets play, Bucky."
The now-named Bucky raises his head to catch the bartender's eye and grimaces. "I think we're going to need another. This might take a while."
Chapter 3: 3
time to fill expenses forms in.
Bucky's holed up in a quiet office with Natasha to get a bunch of paperwork done. Expenses, mostly.
The door opens, and Coulson walks in. "Barnes. I hoped I'd find you in here."
"Sir?" Bucky asks. Then pauses. "No matter what Barton says, Jersey was his decision."
"I'm all too aware of that, Barnes. Actually, I wanted to talk to you about Captain Rogers."
Bucky freezes. Coulson's voice hasn't changed from reasonable, but given that it's done that in the middle of Coulson having an AK-47 in his face and a Somali pirate screaming at him, he's not holding any stock in that. Natasha flicks an eyebrow at him. Specifically, the eyebrow of 'I told you this was suicidal'. Bucky's been hanging out with - some might even say monopolising - Steve. Aka Captain America. Aka Coulson's idol. Bucky is dead. So, so dead. Even Clint couldn't get away with this.
"Sir?" Bucky asks, more from reflex than anything.
"How's he settling in? You're probably the expert on this." Coulson asks, with nothing more than his inquisitive expression in place. Never trust that expression. It's almost as bad as the helpful one. That expression is the first thing those guys in the 7-11 footage saw before the flour was deployed.
"...Fine? For a guy who missed seventy years. He's acclimatising." Bucky says, using his pen to surreptitiously poke Natasha in the thigh. He has his reasons.
"Good." Coulson says, smiling faintly. "Inform me if there's any noticeable problems, will you?"
Bucky frowns. "You're not going to accuse me of, I dunno, corrupting him?"
"You're proving he can function and integrate a lot faster than the shrinks were expecting, Barnes." Coulson says. "It's a good indicator of mental stability." He pauses. "Should I be?"
"He could be doing 'fake it til you make it', sir." Bucky says doubtfully.
Natasha shrugs and and purses her mouth. "It works for more people than you'd think." To prove her point, she flicks him in the arm. The metal one. Subtle she is not.
Bucky fills in the code for 'grocery supplies cooked up into explosive ordnance'. "In that case I should inform you that Rogers is the biggest card sharp you've ever seen, will use his pretty blue eyes for evil, and used to earn pennies as a lookout for speakeasies as a kid, sir."
Coulson's mouth twitches. "Good to know. It's something to add to the database." The meticulous, giant, scary database of Captain America facts in his brain. Most of which he does not share with his fellow Cap obsessives on the internet.
Once he's left, Natasha returns the poke in the thigh. "Is that true?"
"His innocent face rivals Coulson's, Nat." Bucky replies.
"Impressive." Natasha says, ticking off the 'no delays at customs' box. She waits a couple of minutes before asking "Pretty blue eyes?"
Bucky scowls. "Captain America is ridiculously good-looking, it's just a statement of fact."
Chapter 4: 4
Can't leave them alone for ten minutes
Bucky's on surveillance, waiting for his target to turn up, when the news about New York starts coming over every possible channel you can get. The problem is that he's in Hong Kong, so unless he gets a jet right now, the chances of getting back for it... Responses to his somewhat frantic messages are 'stay put and complete your mission'. Barton went off grid a few days ago. Nat's texts get terse, and that's saying something. Steve doesn't answer either, but given that several pieces of footage feature a figure in a patriotic cheerleader costume, he can guess why. Coulson definitely had a hand in that costume's design, and he's not sure who he needs to rag on first for how tight it is around the ass, Coulson or Steve.
His target turns up while the battle's still going on, along with an added bonus, and he's on the first flight back to New York he can get, all sixteen fucking hours of it.
Steve's waiting at the airport when Bucky lands. "What did you do to New York? I was only gone for two weeks and I come back to this. Is Brooklyn still standing?"
"Just about." Steve shrugs. "It's a long story." Bucky's got no luggage besides carry on and his rifle's being shipped separately. There's no trains because of the mess the aliens made and you can see the trucks all heading in with supplies, so Bucky gets loaded onto the back of Steve's bike.
"You're going to spread your brains all over the highway one of these days." Bucky says, putting on his helmet as Steve secures his bag to the back. Steve refuses to wear a helmet. Bucky is very attached to his skull being intact, thank you.
"I drove without one all the time before." Steve shrugs.
"Yeah, well some of us actually use our brains, punk." Bucky says.
"I'm the punk in this? You're so the jerk." Steve replies. He swings his leg over the bike, and Bucky follows suit. Steve turns on the engine, then turns his head. "Seriously? Punk?"
"...Shut up. I spend my time with a ninety year old, his speech patterns are rubbing off on me." Bucky scowls.
Chapter 5: 5
Stark's poking at the hardware in front of him. "I'm seriously considering leaving you to the tender mercies of the SHIELD mechanics if you don't treat this arm with more respect, Farmboy."
Barnes cocks an eyebrow as Stark inserts a screwdriver and twiddles it to open up a panel. "Yeah, right, like you'd let those - what did you call them last time? 'Half-bright hamfisted gerbils who couldn't use legos, let alone operate advanced circuitry and hydraulics' near the arm you built."
"I could detach with love." Stark says, moving his attention to the coupling in Bucky's shoulder, socket hanging out bare without its arm. "It's a thing. Or maybe not. Definite executive decision. No detaching with love for people who still need to complete a basic electronics course."
There's a knock at the door, and Steve pokes his head around it. "Hi, Tony, sorry for interrupting you, I just wanted to see -" He pauses, then comes in fully, shutting the door behind him. "...Does that hurt?" He asks, staring in fascination at the empty joint.
"It's a metal arm, Capsicle, it doesn't have nerve endings unless I tell the sensors to engage." Stark says, pulling out a penlight. "Jarvis, get a shot of this. Are we talking oil build up or corrosion?"
"Are you implying I don't wash, Stark?" Bucky asks.
"You should, heaven knows where you've been if this is corrosion." Stark says. "Metal and plastic alloys can be just as sensitive as skin, you just need to find the right chemicals. Though I admit I'm kind of impressed that you found something to defeat something I've made."
"Are you sure it doesn't hurt?" Steve asks as Stark pulls at a wire.
"Deeply in my soul, Capsicle." Stark says. "Who puts works of art through trauma like this?"
"I was talking to your patient." Steve says dryly, leaning against the table.
"Lab experiment." Stark says, waving a hand dismissively. "The correct term is lab experiment."
"Or crash test dummy." Bucky offers.
"I think you'll find that's the person in the room who moonlights in a flying suit of armour." Steve says. "But really, it doesn't hurt?"
"The electro sparky things that connect to his nerves are deactivated so I can work on it without him twitching incessantly." Stark says, fumbling for a set of tweezers. "I didn't know you cared. What was it you came looking for? Bea Arthur's phone number?"
"I actually came to see if your patient was still wanting to go for that drink." Steve says, rolling his eyes at Bucky, tilting his head at Stark. "I mean, we can leave it if you've got serious work planned."
"Nah, this is just routine maintenance." Bucky says. "Be done pretty soon."
"Steve, Steve, Steve. Are you trying to tell me you have something approaching a normal human interaction in this century?" Tony asks, then pauses. "Though I'm not sure Barnes here passes for normal."
"Considering my competition for that title's two geniuses, a Russian assassin, a Norse god, a super-soldier, and an ex-carnie, I think I'm the closest to normal around here." Bucky says.
"Says the sniper with a metal arm." Steve points out.
"I'm not the one with a Robin Hood fixation." Bucky replies. He pauses. "Also, fuck you, Stark, Bea Arthur is out of your league." No-one disses Bea Arthur in the intelligence community who's got a passing acquaintance with Agent Wilson. You can still get half the FBI office in Delaware to twitch by humming the Golden Girls theme.
Chapter 6: 6
"Home again, home again, jiggity-jig." Bucky says, kicking the door closed behind him and toeing his boots off.
Steve frowns from where he's putting his coat up. "...What's that from? It sounds like the Wizard of Oz, but -"
"Bladerunner. Sci-fi." Bucky says, opening the fridge and staring into the slightly empty depths. So sue him, it's been busy recently in the department of taking down international terrorists. Going to the store slides down your priority list a bit. That's why he declared it movie night after their latest debrief, and called the pizza delivery place on their way here. "Influenced a lot of stuff that came after it."
"Speaking of movies you think I need to watch, what's the next one?" Steve asks, rifling through the pile of dvds and blu-rays Bucky's marked for the next stage in the getting Steve Rogers up to speed on all the good movies he's missed whilst frozen programme. It could possibly use a catchier title.
Bucky grabs a couple of beers. At least he's got some of that left. "The Transporter. You definitely need to watch that."
"I'm not convinced this movie we're about to watch is a classic of cinema, Buck." Steve says as Bucky settles on the couch, kicking his feet up onto Steve's lap. Steve gives them a half-hearted shove but he's learnt that they just creep back during whatever they're watching.
"You take that back, Jason Statham is a modern god." Bucky says, pulling the remote out from where it wedged itself in the cushions. "Anyway, you agree with me about Citizen Kane."
Steve makes a disgusted face. "Longest film of my life. Couldn't even manage some decent dialogue and it's a fucking sled. Now Casablanca, I agree with that being on the greatest lists."
Bucky raises his beer bottle to clink against Steve's. "You don't diss that film in SHIELD." he pauses. "And word to the wise, say a bad word about Claude Rains near Nat and Barton and say bye-bye to your life expectancy."
Steve blinks. "...More than Errol Flynn?" Clint's love for the Adventures of Robin Hood is... actually, it's probably on the level you'd expect for someone whose chosen weapon is a bow and arrow.
"Claude Rains was a gentleman. Flynn wasn't." Bucky replies. Steve thinks that one over, then nods. He's got a point. "Speaking of cultural references, have you managed to get anywhere with that list yet?"
"You made me watch the Star Wars movies." Steve says as the menu comes up. "But you only showed me three. Someone said there were more."
"No there aren't." Bucky says on auto.
Stve turns to look at him, looking disappointed. "I'd really like to see them, Buck. if only for the cultural references."
"No you don't. You really, really don't." Bucky says, then narrows his eyes. Steve's practically sticking his lip out. "That's your 'Captain America is disappointed in you, son' face, Rogers. You don't fool me."
Steve chuckles, rubbing a hand over Bucky's foot in his lap. "Agent Sitwell showed me a clip of it to make sure I'd understand the true horror of Jar-Jar."
"Sitwell's good people." Bucky says. "Some of the time. When he's not scarring you on purpose for your own good."
Chapter 7: 7
and a wild wade wilson appears...
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Bucky looks at the target, then Clint. Both targets are liberally peppered with very tightly focussed groupings. "Break before switching weapons?"
"Nicotine or twitter?" Clint asks.
"Both. I'm a multitasker." Bucky says, putting the safety on.
"That's not what your boyfriend says." Clint says as he logs out of the program they're using.
"Fuck you, I come with toys pre-installed." Bucky says.
Outside, Bucky's scrolling through a page of photos of sleeping corgis Nat tagged as 'archer off duty' and the resemblance is kinda scary. Not that anyone's pointed it out before. At all. Clint should be stretching his shoulder in prep for using bow, but keeps tapping his ear doubtfully.
"Problem?" Bucky asks, adding a comment of '#3, see Laos' and 'Lucky: still smarter and prettier than his owner'.
"Wondering if my implants got knocked during the last mission." Clint says doubtfully. "I keep hearing this clicking noise."
"Could always ask Nat to recalibrate." Bucky says.
"I've been kicked in the head by Nat enough for one lifetime, thanks." Clint says, then nods at Bucky's phone. "Anything interesting? If it's Dog Cops spoilers, don't tell me."
Bucky scrolls a bit more. "You're safe. Nat's on a Night Vale spree again."
"I try to educate people about the perils of wheat and wheat by-products, but do they listen? Noooo." A voice says to the left of them. Attached to the ball of insanity known as Wade Wilson. "And now my glory is stolen - stolen, I tell you - by some schmuck radio announcer in the middle of the desert."
"Wade, if you go around claiming you're Steve Carlsberg again, Hill's said she's going to suspend your explosives privileges again." Bucky says.
"Restrict my artistic impulses! Oh, the humanity!" Wade cries, slumping against the drinking fountain. Which hasn't worked since it was installed and is currently home to three rubber ducks.
"How you passed the psych evaluation is beyond me." Bucky says.
"I continually perfect my lapdancing skills and tailor them for the target audience." Wade says, flicking one of the ducks in the head before taking it out and tossing it from hand to hand. "The boy bukkake'd by the American flag is looking for you. I told him I'm not an answering service."
"But your skywriting business is booming." Bucky says. "Spill, Wade."
Wade huffs. "Your spoilsport of a boyfriend wouldn't pay my prices, even with the star spangled perfect ass discount." Wade brings the duck up level with his face, then chucks it back in the fountain. "I'm thinking my hair's counting against me given his thing for sassy brunettes."
Bucky lights a cigarette, shaking his head. "That's where you're going wrong, Wilson. Steve doesn't have a thing for sassy brunettes, he has a thing for classy dames."
"Are you saying you're a classy dame, Barnes?" Clint asks.
Bucky takes another hit, blowing the smoke out in a long stream. "The classiest. I'm right up there with Rita Hayworth, Sigourney Weaver and Gina Torres."
If you wish for visual reference of Agent Wilson and long-suffering Clint, please check http://arrows-and-duct-tape.tumblr.com
Want to know who Lucky and Dog Cops are? check the #hawkguy tag.
Chapter 8: 8
Bucky drains the last of his drink and rubs his stomach. "Gotta go drain the lizard. Back in a few."
Steve snorts. "Seriously? The lizard? That's a new one. Snake I get, but lizard? Does it crawl up the side of houses in hot countries?"
Bucky scowls. "It's a legitimate phrase for taking a leak. Screw you." He pushes back from the bar. "Don't go getting into any trouble while I'm away."
"How can I, you're taking all the trouble with you!" Steve calls after him.
Bucky comes back from the mens' room to see Steve talking to a girl, a little flustered but that's normal. Steve cannot handle getting hit on by women. 0 to blushing and stammering and 'ma'am' in under thirty seconds. Steve explains it as 'I spent more time being skinny and short than I have like this, which do you think I still think of myself as?' Bucky would be more sympathetic but the blushing and stammering's cute as hell. He leans on the bar, getting Elenie's attention.
She comes over. "What'll you have, stranger?"
"Same as last time."
"Cosmopolitan on the rocks, got it." She says, opening the fridge behind her to get a bottle out.
"You know me so well. Do I get an umbrella?" Bucky asks.
"You and blondie are regulars, I oughta by now." Elenie says, putting a napkin down with the beer. With writing on. 'Go save your boyfriend.' Boyfriend is underlined. Twice. Bucky raises an eyebrow. Elenie's mouth thins, and she angles her head in Steve's direction. Steve is... not looking comfortable there.
Bucky nods and saunters over, slinging an arm round Steve's waist. "Hey babe, miss me?"
"Just making friends." Steve says, hand coming down to rest on Bucky's. His tone's neutral, but the girl he's talking to's eyes flick down to their hands in disapproval.
Bucky leans up and kisses Steve's cheek, pointedly eyeing the girl as he does it. "So anyway, sorry to interrupt but I need to steal him for some very important stuff."
"This important stuff wouldn't be that horrible cocktail Elenie threatened me with, would it?" Steve asks.
"I can neither confirm nor deny since her exact words were 'get your boyfriend over here or I cut you off'." Bucky says as he steers Steve away. The girl glares at him on a level that seems a bit excessive for sudden boyfriend appearance, but doesn't follow.
Bucky and Steve set up on the other side of the bar, chatting for a bit. The girl gives them one last glare and leaves. Elenie's shoulders finally go down. "Sorry, should've warned you about Nadia. Girl does not take 'not interested' for an answer, the only way to get her to back off is significant other appearance."
She goes to serve someone else. Bucky tips his bottle back. "So, um, sorry about that. The boyfriend thing."
Steve shrugs. "Buck, you've seen what I used to look like. Add being an artist, then becoming a chorus boy. If I had a problem being called a fairy I'd never have made it down the end of my street." He snags Bucky's beer, taking a sip. "Not like it wasn't entirely untrue."
"Give that back and get your own." Bucky says, grabbing it. Then pauses. "Oh. Really?" Steve nods. "Yeah. Me too." His phone vibrates in his pocket, and he pulls it out to to see a message from Nat.
"Problem?" Steve asks, using the distraction to grab the beer back off Bucky again.
"Apparently we need to bring vodka. And doughnuts." Bucky says, frowning. "Judging by the smiley face, I think Clint got hold of her phone."
Chapter 9: 9
Steve does not approve of what you did to his favourite serials.
Steve sits down next to Bucky on the sofa. "So what're we watching?"
"Flash Gordon." Bucky says, swinging his feet up into Steve's lap.
"That's still around? I loved the comics and serials and radio show." Steve says, passing Bucky a beer. "Did they keep the costume or update it?" Bucky bites his lip. Steve gives him a look. "Bucky, what're you not telling me?"
"...It's a really rollicking adventure with baddies you can hiss at?" Bucky says.
"Bucky." This is the deeply unimpressed look.
"It has a really awesome soundtrack? By Queen, I know you've heard some of their stuff, even you admit it's awesome. And it's quotable. Like, really quotable."
"Bucky." Deeply unimpressed is now edging into a glare.
Bucky squirms slightly. "Look, it's a classic. I wouldn't be showing it to you if I didn't really enjoy it."
"This is one of those so-bad-it's-good ones, isn't it." Steve sighs, taking a swig of his beer. "Like Red Sonja."
"Nothing compares with Red Sonja, Steve. Nothing on this earth." Bucky says, pressing play. "And everyone is awesome in this. You'll really like Dale Arden."
"Well, I suppose it can't actually get worse than a giant stone yak." Steve says.
The film starts. "Bucky." Steve says. He's got his arms folded. That's not a good sign.
"Yes?" Bucky says, taking a sip of his beer.
"Why is Flash a dumb football player? He's supposed to be a polo player." Steve says.
"I guess they thought polo wouldn't work so well these days?"
"Because so many people played polo back in the day." Steve says, and adds. "And a Yale graduate."
"Um. Maybe they didn't think the actor could pull it off? He went on to be pretty decent." Bucky says. "Look, stop getting so bogged down in the details. They had to update the Earth stuff a bit. Be glad I never showed you the 80s Cap tv film."
"There's an 80s Captain America tv film?" Steve asks, surprised. "No-one's even joked about that one." One of the first things Steve mastered after google was imdb, just to check if he got credited properly for all those propaganda reels. And yep, there he is as Steve Rogers (I) (Actor and Self). The amount of Steve Rogers (character) listings were a little overwhelming. He's tried to avoid them unless someone insists to either check details (normally history buffs or fans) or update him on in-jokes (Bucky and Clint).
"People try to forget it exists. Even Coulson tries to forget it exists. If you're not careful I'll find it on youtube and make you watch it just to see how long it takes you to fall asleep from the sheer dullness." Bucky threatens. "Now shaddup and watch, Steve."
Partway through the trial on Arboria, Bucky notices Steve's looking at him. "What? Take a picture, it'll last longer."
"Wouldn't want to inflate your ego." Steve says.
"In an organisation that employs Tony Stark and Wade Wilson, I think my ego is perfectly healthy." Bucky says, crossing his feet.
Steve winces. "That's... not a good yardstick to measure your ego against, Buck."
"Says the Star-Spangled Man with a Plan." Bucky says, turning back to the tv. A few minutes later he realises Steve's staring at him again. And noticed that Bucky caught him looking, and looks away. "What? Do I have something on my face?" Bucky asks, putting down his beer.
Steve shakes his head, then flushes and mutters "Fuck it." He takes a deep breath, leans forward and the next thing Bucky knows, he's kissing Steve. It starts out a bit tentative, and then one of them tilts their head and it's good, it's seriously good. And no, seriously, Bucky is kissing Steve. Who he's had a thing for for ages, only Steve is Captain America and Coulson is seriously going to kill him and yes that is his hand fisted in Steve's top and Steve's hand up his shirt and - suddenly, no Steve. Bucky is not okay with this turn of events.
Bucky opens his eyes, blinking. Steve is now back on his side of the couch, groping between the cushions for his phone. "Seriously?"
"It's the Bat Signal." Steve says, grimacing. Bucky will one day get over the fact that Steve refers to his SHIELD ringtone as that. One day.
"So? They stopped, we can -" And that's when his phone starts blaring from the table.
Steve reaches over Bucky to grab it. "Rogers. Yes, got it. Yes, ma'am, Barnes is here, I didn't kill him and steal his phone. Ten minutes. Got it." He looks down. "They'll be here in ten minutes to pick us up."
Bucky scowls as Steve goes to put the bottles in the kitchen, turning off the tv. "We're going to be talking properly about what you just did, Rogers. Don't think you can avoid it."
Steve looks down at his feet and scratches the back of his neck, looking twenty different shades of adorable as he does. "You seemed kinda into it."
"Just because I reciprocated extremely enthusiastically does not mean I'm a cheap date. I don't put out until at least the second date." Bucky says, getting up off the couch to go grab his boots. Their gear'll be in the car picking them up. "No matter what vile slander Nat and Barton spread."
"Who says I'm not doing this to make Nat get off my back about dating?" Steve retorts.
Bucky pauses in pulling his boots on. "The fact that I'm being used hurts my ego, deeply, Steve. I'm making it the third date before putting out now."
Steve picks up the bag his shield's in, putting it over his shoulder. "Actually, is now a bad time to break it you that I kissed you just to get out of watching that movie?"
"This is not helping your case." Bucky says, glaring at him.
They're taking the stairs down to meet the car when Steve hesitates. "Do you ever feel like some of these missions could do with more info?"
"Is this about that last mission where Nat was off on her own thing?" Bucky asks. "Look, Steve, that's normal for this kind of gig. Everyone's got their own mission brief."
"Maybe, but you don't think letting the others know so that we don't trip each other up is a good thing?" Steve says. "Fury just stonewalled me."
"He's got his reasons." Bucky says, reaching out and putting a hand on Steve's shoulder to reassure him.
"Maybe, but not knowing what those reasons are is really starting to bother me." Steve sighs. "Things just haven't been adding up lately and I can't take the above my pay grade excuse much longer."