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Captain Hot Perfect Teacher

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"Scott, did you tell your parents?" Steve asked, checking his watch once more. It was already four o'clock, and he didn't know how much longer he should keep one of his students past the bell. "It was very important one of them made it here today. I'm gonna have to tell Principal Phillips, and I didn't wanna—"

At that precise moment, the classroom door flung wide open, practically forced from its hinges. On instinct, Steve muscled Scott out of the way, behind him, fearing the worst, like maybe there was a madman on the loose inside the school.
 
It was alarming when a man actually collapsed through the door, using the wall as a crutch as he entered inside, wincing, bleeding from one ear, and clutching a rather broken-looking arm to his stomach.

"Woah—" Steve darted forward to catch the man from falling onto the floor. "Are you okay?"

"Barnes." The man breathed the word directly into Steve's mouth. His breathe heavy with the scent of blood and cool October air. Steve had to use most of his strength to keep the man upright until he got him stabilized against, of all things, his class' Everyone's A Hero bulletin board.

"James Barnes. I had — oof — a three o'clock."

That was when Scott piped in behind them with, "Mr. Rogers, that's my dad."

Steve glanced down at the boy for further clarification, and he just shrugged. In fact, he didn't seem concerned at all for his father who was indeed leaking blood on the linoleum.

"Um—"

*****

"Sorry 'bout the—" Scott's dad, Mr. Barnes had a wad of paper towels pressed against the side of his face. They slowly turned red the longer they touched skin, seeping up his blood. His blood. He was bleeding at Steve's parent-teacher conference, and God, there had to be protocol on this but Steve was drawing a blank here.

Steve blinked as he picked up the folder from his desk and cleared his throat attempting to carry on. "Thank you for coming, Mr. Barnes—"

"Bucky. People call me Bucky," the man said distracted, lifting the paper towels from his face to access the damage. "Fuck," he muttered under his breath as though he hadn't expected to find that much blood either.
 
"Oh-kay." It helped to be personable with the students' parents, but Steve definitely wasn't sure he wanted to call this man — Bucky. Somehow that seemed a little too personal.

Groaning as he jostled his hurt arm, Bucky retrieved the roll of paper towels off the desk behind him. Steve had found them in the bathroom once he saw there was more blood than could easily be explained should another teacher find them. Using his good hand, he collected another fistful of paper and then plopped it to his face. At this point, Steve just stared at him, at how nonchalant he seemed about the bleeding, really about the entire situation. His face was covered in scraps and scratches and day old stubble. He was wearing a black suit and black tie—a nice one if you could look past the blood—plus there was a ripped hole in the left knee and dirt and rocks up the side of him. He looked like he'd just jumped from a moving train.

"If you don't mind me asking, sir, is everything okay? I mean you—are you okay?"

And that's when Scott, who was sitting in the desk beside his dad, said, grinning, "He's a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Mr. Rogers," as if that explained everything even though it explained nothing.

"Oh." Steve only knew vague information about S.H.I.E.L.D. and most of it was just from the reports he saw on the nighttime news. It was always stuff about homeland security threats and undercover operations overseas, but he didn't know if that's what those guys really did. "And by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent he means you—"

"I kill people for a living," Bucky answered. There was a long drawn out pause until eventually he laughed—a coughing smirking wheeze—at his own joke. And that made Scott laugh. They were both just laughing, and Steve wondered if they were out of their minds. 

"Um—"

*****

"Are you telling me you killed someone on your way to a parent-teacher conference, Mr. Barnes?" Steve whispered harshly at Bucky with one eye on his kid, suddenly fearing for Scott's safety and well-being.

"Did I—what?" Realization fell over Bucky's face when he saw Steve was jotting things down as he spoke. "Wait a second, pal! No, I was involved in…well…a situation."

Steve glanced up, eyebrow perking, and stared at him some more. Stared at the lines of dried blood down his jawline.

"The killing people was a joke. S.H.I.E.L.D. makes people uneasy. Jokes help. It's in the manual.” Bucky tried another joke, and it landed about as well as his first one. Steve had a fine sense of humor on most days but not really when it came to his kids. This guy was over an hour late, only to show up looking like death chewed up and spit out.

Sensing Steve wasn't letting him off the hook, Bucky gathered his face into something more serious. "Listen, I got an earful from Scott's mother about making it to this meeting. I got called on assignment. It was short notice so I came straight here." Bucky reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a round badge. It was gold with a black eagle emblem on it. "Like I said, there was a situation. But I promise I'm listening."

"Okay." Steve sighed settling back into his chair again. Under the circumstances, Scott's father had managed to show up, while bleeding profusely from his head, sure, but it was more than Steve could say for others. Might as well continue. "Your son is becoming a disciplinary problem, Mr. Barnes."

Bucky's mouth darkened into a sharp straight line. He took a long calculating look at Steve, perhaps needing to decide whether the teacher had it out for his son. Eventually he glanced down at Scott, who just hung his head down like a puppy. The muscles in Bucky's jaw tightened.

"How much of a problem we talkin' about?" Bucky asked, clearly running over possible charges in his head.

"Fights. Three already this month," Steve told him. Somehow Scott sunk down in his chair even farther, and Bucky followed suit, looking equally childlike in his own dejection like Steve had only called him to this meeting to confirm he was a bad parent.

"Look, Mr. Barnes. Scott is a good kid. He is smart, good at math, a lot smarter than I was at his age. And he doesn't like to see his friends getting bullied around. You should be proud. How you raised him, I mean. He helps others who need help." Scott managed a small smile even though he didn't dare lift his head. "But he can't go around punching people. Even the bad guys."

Bucky let his gaze linger on Steve's face for longer than was actually comfortable. He was surprised by something Steve had just said, in a good way though because eventually, he kind of smiled and put a hand on his son's shoulder. "I agree, Scotty," he said then glanced back at Steve. "With Mr. Rogers…was it?"

*****

Sharon Carter poked her head out of her classroom just as Bucky and Scott said their goodbyes. Bucky promised three times on his way out that Scott wouldn't be any more trouble but just to call if he was. Watching as they disappeared down the hallway, Steve wished to himself that he always had this much parental cooperation from his students' parents. Usually they were much more peeved to learn they were raising the bad-kid-in-class.

"Who was that?" Sharon asked, following Steve back inside his classroom. She was the fifth grade reading teacher and Steve's hallway neighbor. She had been in her first year of teaching too when Steve had been hired on a few years back. They had bonded over their mutual first-year failures and had stayed friends ever since.

"That—" Steve looked at her. "—was Mr. Barnes. Scott's father."

"Oh, your little MMA fighter. How'd that go?" She asked, settling onto the corner of Steve's desk, picking up the small Iron Man figurine he kept by his pencil sharpener. His kids loved it too.

"Good actually," he said, leaning back in his chair, folding his hands across his stomach. "Promised Scott wouldn't get into anymore fights. Both seemed really sorry."

"Only you," Sharon said, shaking her head. "Yesterday, I got screamed at for twenty minutes after one of mine failed a test. Like it's my fault when their kids don't study." She rolled her eyes. "Boy, you're lucky."

Steve made a face, thinking back to Scott's dad. "I wouldn't exactly say that."

Sharon snorted at him. "Of course you are. Everyone loves you, Steve. Students adore you. Parents adore you. No one yells at your parent conferences. You're like one of those perfect teachers they feature on 20/20."

"You're exaggerating," Steve told her.

"Don't even try to deny your life, Steve Rogers!" After she finished laughing, she replaced the figurine on Steve's desk with a thump and moved to stand up, straightening her skirt. "I could use wine. And some Sam time since he totally agrees with me about you. Are you in—" But something stopped her mid-invite. She tilted her head, squinting. "Is that blood on your shirt?"

*****

"I have several licenses to carry this weapon on public property," Bucky explained to Steve the next time they met. They were standing in the back of the classroom, near the reading corner that was currently decorated with Santas from around the world, listening as Mrs. Spulaneki shared her tales of life as a State Farm Insurance agent. It was boring. And the kids were yawning and falling asleep, but her son Greg looked proud so Steve let it continue.

"Um..." was all Steve said because they hadn't actually been holding a conversation. They had been just standing in mutually agreed upon silence, but Bucky said it like he was answering a question.

Bucky leaned to his side, accidentally nudging his shoulder with Steve's. "You keep staring at my gun. I thought I'd let you know. I'm trained to use it," he said quietly.

"Oh."

"Highly trained."

"I don't doubt that."

Steve didn't realize he'd been looking, and now he was embarrassed to have been so obvious about it. Though when Bucky had shown up, Steve barely even recognized him. It was Occupation Day, and Bucky came dressed in full combat gear, black head-to-toe with black steel toe boots, and black-out paint around his eyes. He also had an automatic rifle, something much fancier than Steve had ever seen during his stint with the army, obviously high military grade. He was a tad frightening except all the kids—especially Scott—thought he was a superhero. So, Steve had gone with the flow during Bucky's presentation. Until he had demonstrated his extremely advanced knife fighting skills on a dummy during the end, which Steve cut short because he felt like it was traumatizing to his class when Bucky stabbed the dummy in the heart.

"I'm not going to shoot anyone," Bucky continued with reassurance like he thought Steve had assumed otherwise. "You probably think I'm dangerous since well..." He gestured at his gun. "But I'm not. Dangerous."

"Mr. Barnes, you don't need to—"

"I know. Just thought I'd throw that out there," Bucky said.

Steve nodded without looking at Bucky because the entire room was clapping and so was Steve even though he hadn't heard a thing Mrs. Spulaneki said for the last five minutes. He flashed his best everything's-under-control smile and joined her at the front of the room.  "Alright, kids, thank Mrs. Spulaneki for coming to visit us today."

Nineteen voices sing-songed in unison, "Thank...you...misses...Spull...nee...key."

Even Bucky, Steve noticed. He did indeed look scary standing in the back. Black, shadowy, and armed. Watching with an unnerving smile as Steve introduced the next parent to the class. 

*****

"So you're the bleeder!" Sam Wilson looked like this was the best day of his life when he realized who the man saying hello to Steve actually was.

Bucky eyed Sam carefully before he nodded back. "The bleeder in the flesh." He gave Steve a quick side-glance. "He mentions that to other people, huh?"

"Oh yeah, man!" Sam laughed, friendly and good-humored like always. "We teachers like to trade war stories. Bleeding S.H.I.E.L.D. agent at a parent-teacher is about as good as it gets. Think he won twenty bucks at our union meeting with that one."

Steve wasn't sure why but seeing Sam interacting with Bucky made him nervous. Nervous like when you introduced friends to other friends even though Bucky wasn't his friend. He wasn't someone Steve even knew well. He had just happened to wander into Lucino's—a shady looking hole-in-the-wall pizza parlor in downtown DC that reminded Steve of his childhood in Brooklyn—on the third Thursday of the month. Sam and Steve's regular dinner date to trade those aforementioned war stories.

Sam didn't teach at Steve's school. He was in high school. Taught math and science. Occasionally they coached a neighborhood youth basketball team together in the summers. He was Steve's best friend, but he never missed an opportunity to yank Steve's chain a little.

"It was fifteen. And I didn't keep it. I used it to buy food for Phil."

"Phil?"

"Class snake."

"Wow—" Bucky bit his lip like he wanted to laugh, like everything about Steve amused him to no end.

Steve cleared his throat because now Bucky eyes were fixed on him, and tonight, for once, his face was just his face. No blood or anything, just his face. Bucky was boyishly handsome and freshly washed and normal. His wide-set eyes were bright blue and calculating as always but kind too. Steve wondered if this was Bucky's day off, if S.H.I.E.L.D. agents wear grey Nike shirts and track pants on their days off and order in pizza just like everyone else. Except there was probably a gun tucked in Bucky's pants or in his sneakers. Steve wasn't sure where and looking probably wasn't appropriate, but he very much assumed there was a gun. Somewhere.

"Mice are expensive," was all Steve could think to say after too much silence had passed.

Bucky smiled at him again, even wider, and Steve kind of wished he would stop. "I'll bet," he said. He waited for moment longer, but Steve just nodded with a polite cursory smile. "Well—okay. I should go. With my pizza." He tapped the large box he was carrying and headed for the door. As he exited, he gave Steve a little dorky salute when he saw him still watching him.

Once it was closed, Steve stared at the door until Sam finally interrupted him several seconds later.

"Mice are expensive?" Sam repeated, laughing and shaking his head. He folded the pizza that had been sitting on his plate untouched during Bucky's interruption in half and took a huge bite. "Think you left some parts of that story out, dude."

"What?" Steve pulled a slice from the tray sitting onto their table. "No, I didn't. I mean class pets are good. Teaches the kids responsibility and teamwork, but supplies are pricey."

Sam stared at him for a few seconds. Pizza hanging mid-air in front of his mouth. Eventually he shook his head again, closing his eyes too. "Good god, Steve," he muttered.

*****

"No fighting this time?" Bucky placed his hands on his hips, sternly, waiting for an explanation. He glanced down at his son curled up on the row of chairs in the administrative office.

Steve gave the poor kid a concerned smile. "Afraid not. Scott just has the stomach bug that's been going around. Half the school is out sick."

It had started last Tuesday and quickly spread through the second grade. Hit fifth on Monday, and Steve had been losing his students, left and right, ever since. There were several parents along with Bucky picking up their kids too. Steve grabbed a paper from the stack on the counter and handed it to Bucky.

"This is a flyer. What to watch for to make sure he isn't dehydrated. Recommended foods from all the area doctors. You can take him to his physician, but he probably just needs to work it out of his system. It's gonna be pretty bad for the first twenty-four hours," Steve said.

Bucky reviewed the paper in his hands and then sighed scrubbing a hand down his face. "Yeah. Stomach flu. I can do stomach flu," he said, letting his hand drop away.

"Surely your son has been sick before...?"

"Yeah, yeah. Just not on my weekend," Bucky said, laughing in an uneasy cadence.

Steve hesitated for a second, but he gripped Bucky on the shoulder. "You'll be fine," he said reassuringly. "Liquids and rest. That'll do it."

Bucky peered down at Steve's hand touching him, and Steve immediately drew it away like that wasn't allowed by Principal Phillips or maybe S.H.I.E.L.D. regulations. After a second though, Bucky smiled up at him and opened his mouth to speak but looked away when someone shouted nearby.

"Agent down!" The woman who interrupted them had red hair and a S.H.I.E.L.D. badge on her suit. She headed over to Scott to motherly pet his forehead. "Not looking to good there, Agent Barnes."

Scott lifted his head and slowly brought his feet to the floor. "Agent Romanoff, code—I think I need to barf."

"Uh-oh!" The agent yelped in surprise. Quickly, she helped Scott to his feet. She smiled at both Bucky and Steve as they passed them on the way to find a bathroom. "Was that…HPT?" She asked in a stage-whisper as they got through the door. "Barnes said level ten but I think he undersold it."

The door closed, and Steve immediately looked at Bucky. "HPT?" he asked confused.

"That was my partner Agent Romanoff. Bit of a inside joke." Bucky's face was suddenly red. "Not worth explaining." He coughed and held up the paper again. "Thank you," he said sincerely. "For, uh, staying with Scott until I got here."

"Just doing my job, sir," Steve said but wished he hadn't after it left his mouth.

"I know. I know you were. But—" Bucky licked his lips. He studied the ground for a moment. "Nevermind. I should—" He thumbed a gesture over his shoulder.

Steve watched the long strides Bucky made towards the door. "Level ten, huh?" he called out, smirking as Bucky's shoulders hitch-up like a cat at the sound of his voice. He reached the door as Bucky did and turned the knob, opening it for him. "Captain Steve Rogers. Did two tours with the army. Pretty sure I know a code name when I hear one, Agent Barnes."

"Ffffuck."

"I'm late to lunch duty." Steve patted him on the shoulder as he passed by him. He reached the corner of the hallway when he remembered something and turned back. Bucky was still there, watching Steve go. "Liquids. Lots of liquids," he told him again.

*****

"Thank you. Goodbye, Sheila. See you next week."

Steve clicked the end button on his phone with a smile. He penciled in the word 'brownies' beside Maggie Atwell's name then took a long drink from the beer bottle in front of him. He snuck a peak at the Mets game he found on TV—it was just Spring Training so he had it on silent while he finished his work. He scanned down to the next student on his list and flipped to the B's section in the binder he kept with all his parent information.

He skimmed through Scott Barnes' info, and suddenly, there was too much blood pumping through his veins because there was more than one number listed. He thought it spoke to his character that he had never thought to check the emergency information for Bucky's number. Not that he would've used it. Not at all. Calling a student's parent to fraternize would have been highly inappropriate.

His fingers dialed the number on auto-pilot, and it took Steve a few seconds to understand the line already connected and it was ringing he heard on the other end, not buzzing from his head. While he waited for an answer, his brain helpfully supplied a repeating: Hang up, Steve. Hang up, Steve. Hang up, Steve. Until he heard a voice on the end.

"Agent Barnes." Bucky's voice sounded distant, crackled with static in Steve's ear. "Two eyes on the target. No sign of the drop. No movement inside unless you count this guy's snoring. Romanoff will check-in at oh-three hundred."

"Um—"

There was a sudden stillness over the line, and when the other end came back, it was loud and crystal clear. "Who the fuck is this?” Something hard and dangerous bubbled beneath the controlled surface of Bucky's voice. "Whoever you are I can track your location. I press one goddamn button and the entire U.S. military surrounds you in less than two minutes, pal."
 
Steve peered slowly to his left at the large floor-to-ceiling window of his loft. There was no one except the alley cat that slept on his balcony. But for a second, he imagined the sound of helicopters and a spotlight closing in on him. "This is Steve Rogers? Your son's fifth grade teacher," he said, thinking how lame that sounded.

"Wrong phone. Shit," Bucky cursed. A couple beats passed before he said anything else. "Are you writing down that I just threatened you? You are, aren't you?"

"I believe I caught you at work, sir." Composing himself, Steve just read from the paper because doing more than that might have made Bucky angry again. He didn't think he could handle that. "On May fourteenth it's the fifth grade field day. Our, uh, end-of-school party. You don't have to but if Scott is gonna participate, he needs five dollars, his bathing suit, and a snack. For his classmates."

"God," Bucky groaned into the phone.

"Most parents elected to send desserts. So, maybe something else?"

There was absolute silence for thirty seconds like Bucky had put the conversation on mute. The call eventually returned, and he said unsure, "...Hawaiian punch? I can send Hawaiian punch?"

"That's perfect. The kids love it."

Bucky cleared his throat. "So I think I'm single-handedly winning you that crazy parent competition," he said with a smile in his tone. "Is there like a grand prize?"

"Parent threatens to send the military to your doorstep? You gotta think so," Steve said, laughing.

Bucky inhaled sharply, but he still sounded amused. "It wasn't really gonna be the entire military. Just...some."

"Some." Steve smiled at nothing, at the air in front of him. For a moment, he listened to the shallow breaths coming through the speaker. "Well. You probably need to—"

"Mister—er, Steve. Steve? Wait, don't hang up," Bucky said in a rush. He sighed. "Just talk to me a little longer."

"Um." Steve waited for his head to supply him with a rational reason to hang up instead. But it didn't. "About what?"

"Anything." Steve felt a muscle in his face twitch. "Stories. Your best war stories. You did Afghanistan, right? Tell me 'bout that." But Steve didn't answer him. "Oh, c'mon. I'm seventeen hours into an extremely boring stakeout. I could use the entertainment if I'm gonna stay awake all night."

Steve hesitated once more, but then he remembered some long nights of his own when he had been stationed overseas. "Iraq," he corrected. "Except if it's entertainment you’re after, that's gotta be 2008. First year I became a teacher. I could tell you a thousand stories of personal misery and disappointment."

"Yeah? Go for it," Bucky sighed again, sounding like he was settling in. "I got all night."

*****

Steve was facedown on his living room couch when he woke up the next morning. He had a hell of a headache and could have used eight more hours of shuteye. He lifted up onto his elbow, slowly working out the stiffness in his shoulder. It took another five seconds for him to even remember how he had made it here, why he didn't sleep in his bed last night. He blinked back at the bright day beating down on him from the window.

"Shit," Steve said when saw he was actually still holding his cellphone in his hand. "Agent Barnes?" He put the phone to his ear, even though he knew there wouldn't be any answer. He lowered it and looked at the screen. It was flashing several indicators. Low battery. End call. New message. He flicked the screen with his finger to pull up his inbox. There was a message from a number he didn't recognize. Once the message opened, he couldn't help the grin that appeared across his face.

Sunday, May 7. 6:41:26 A.M.
MISSED SUNRISE, CAPTAIN.

With his text, Bucky had even attached a photo, a selfie of him and the woman Steve recognized as his partner Agent Romanoff grinning their faces off. There was a beautiful sunrise over their shoulders and a city skyline that wasn't anywhere Steve could pinpoint. Maybe eastern Europe. Steve saved the picture in his phone's gallery and then flopped back onto the couch. A part of him suddenly wished he knew where Bucky was for certain.

Steve didn't even realize just how much until the fifth grade field day rolled around. All the kids showed up with their snacks and adorable little arm floaties. But it was the best part of the morning when Scott Barnes lugged two jumbo size containers of Hawaiian Punch and an entire two sleeves of multi-colored cups to the party table where Steve was busy collecting all the other kids' items.

"My dad sent cups too," Scott told Steve, rolling his eyes. "He made me promise I'd say that."

*****

"'ello?" Steve tilted his head against his shoulder, holding the phone to his ear, as he slipped into the front seat of his car. He dropped the box of items he packed up from his classroom on the empty passenger seat then grabbed the phone with his hand again.

"Is this Captain Steven Rogers, U.S. Army?"

"Um—" Steve twisted the keys in the ignition of his car. It's the last day of school, and there weren’t many people left in the parking lot. Still, he scanned his surroundings, suddenly feeling like there was a sniper somewhere.

"Sir, are you Steve Rogers?" It was a woman. She sounded urgently official, like military official. "Sir?"

"Speaking, yes. No one's called me that in a long time. What's this about?"

"Rogers, this is Agent Maria Hill with S.H.I.E.L.D. Are you in a secure location?"

"I'm in my car? At an elementary school?"

"Patching you through. I can keep this channel open for three minutes so make it quick. Understand?" Agent Hill asked him but didn't wait for a response. Then he heard a series of clicks followed by static and the sound of what Steve thought was gunshots. "I'm breaking six high-security protocols, Agent. I want those Bulls tickets courtside."

Steve didn't understand what the hell was going on until he heard another voice in his ear.

"Steve?" It was Bucky.

Something heavy dropped into the pit of Steve's stomach because there was an awful lot of background noise on the line. Gunfire, cracking, screaming. Which was why it threw him off when Bucky started the conversation off with, "I'm calling you. I hope that's okay."

Wherever Bucky was, he was running at full-speed because Steve could hear the sharp, rabbit-quick, cadence of his breath. "You normally use S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to make your personal phone calls?" he asked.

"I'm not—" Bucky inhaled, practically gasping for air. "Really in a situation with—" Two beats before his voice lowered in Steve's ear. "—good tower signal. I had to improvise."

"Where are you exactly?" Steve was squeezing the phone in his hand tight enough to hurt.

"Prativnik S'Lyeva!" Bucky answered, obviously not to Steve. Then Bucky was cursing and groaning in muffled noises that Steve couldn't understand. Steve sat there, helpless and slightly horrified until Bucky came back, and he breathed in relief, leaning his head against the steering wheel at the other man's voice.

"Guh—ugh. Holy shit! They make that look so much easier in the movies," Bucky said, struggling for air, clearly in pain.

"You okay?" Steve asked him.

"Cracked rib. Broken toe," Bucky reported. "Nothin' I can't handle, Cap." Steve didn't even know what this was, so he just remained silent, listening as Bucky eventually caught his breath, oddly calmed by the liveliness of it. "What time's it there?"

Steve's eyes darted to his dashboard. "4:21. Did you just call me to—"

"Obviously not. I called to see if you wanna grab dinner sometime. With me. On a date," Bucky told him. "Just checkin' you aren't—" He let out a moan in pain, and it was clear he was on the move again. "—still my son's teacher. Seems Scotty's been on summer vacation for fifty-one minutes. Think I played this one pretty smooth."

"Agent Barnes, I gotta get you off this channel!"

Bucky was running again, and his voice jostled up and down. "You don't need to answer. I get it. Uh, I understand if you need time to think it over. I just needed to ask you before something—"

"Yes," Steve interrupted, making an impulsive decision because for God's sake Bucky needed to hang up and concentrate.

"Yes? Was that yes? Might also have a concussion. So."

"You name the place." Steve smiled. "And I'll be there."

"Wow," Bucky said. Then he was running again. "Ok. You are saying yes? Really? Nevermind. I'll call you. When I get back."

"Holdin' you to it...oh, and Bucky?" Steve said quickly before the connection ended.

"Yeah? Yeah, I'm still here."

"Parent calls while on assignment in Russia to ask you out on a date?"

Bucky snorted. "Of course, you speak Russian," he muttered under his breath, but then he chuckled. "Grand prize?"

"Grand prize," Steve agreed, just as the line went dead.

*****

"So you're saying...at age ten...Steve Rogers was a little troublemaker?" Bucky grinned lazily, leaning his head against the wall beside Steve's door, just content in watching as Steve fished the keys from his pocket.

Steve let out a hearty laugh as he pushed the key into the lock. He turned it, shaking his head. "At age ten, I was scrawny and all talk. I didn't like bullies. Good in theory, but Mom spent a lot of time cleaning me up," he said, swinging the door open.

That went well, Steve thought as he flicked on the kitchen light. His date with Bucky had went more than well if he was going to be completely honest with Sharon and Sam tomorrow since of course they would ask and afterward they would tell Steve how they told him months ago to get with the program.

He hung his keys on the rack by the light switch. "Did you want some—oh!"

Steve startled backwards against the wall. He hadn't heard Bucky come up behind him. A fact that seemed unbelievably impossible now, considering how close Bucky was to Steve when he turned around, how Bucky's knee was already settled between his.

Bucky didn't even hesitate before he took Steve's face in his hands, fingers slipping around his jaw and ears, tangling in the hairs at his neck. He gently pulled Steve to him, pressing their mouths together, and kissed him in such a quick blur of heat that Steve actually didn't do his part for most of it.

"Wow—" Bucky panted against Steve's mouth. "You make me a little weak in the knees." He huffed out a dry laugh. "I can do weak in the knees," he said, pressing his forehead into Steve's shoulder for a second as Steve took him by the elbow.

"I don't really...do...this..." Steve started to say he didn't usually have sex with people on the first date, but his words trailed off when he saw how laser-focused Bucky's eyes were on his mouth.

"That's fine," Bucky assured him, nodding up and down. "I just want to kiss you again. 'S that okay—"

Since Steve thought that was more than okay, he kissed Bucky again, held him by base of his neck as they stumbled dumbly into the kitchen. Their mouths were hot together, hungry and open. And it felt like Bucky was trying to crawl inside of Steve's skin, using his hands all over him, tugging and pulling and touching. Their momentum sent Bucky onto the kitchen counter, and he rested his hands on the back of Steve's hips, widening his knees and pulling Steve forward against his body. He dangled an arm off Steve's shoulder, the other hand in his hair, and kissed him slow and deep.

"I don't wanna—" Bucky said between kisses. "I can't—"

Steve was lost in the taste of Bucky's mouth, the way he moved, and breathed, and he wasn't sure what Bucky was trying to tell him. "W-what? he asked, taking a deep breath. "I know I said I don't do this but—"

Bucky leaned away and put a hand on Steve's chest, holding him at arm's length. "I'm not—I'm so bad at normal. I work all the time. When I'm home, sometimes I hardly sleep. And I—I can get distant?" He looked up at Steve with something apologetic and sad. "I won't be able to tell you where I'm going. Or what I do. Not all the time. 'Cos I do things normal people don't wanna know about. I just don't want you to get the wrong idea about me. About who I am."

Steve stared at Bucky for a long time, letting the air return to his lungs, thinking about what Bucky had just said. Eventually he placed his hands on Bucky's shoulders, squeezing the muscles there. "Come on," he said, smiling, attempting to ease his worry. But Bucky just sighed, and worse, there was something about him now that was unsure of Steve.

Immediately, Steve hated the idea that Bucky could believe there was a reason to pull back from whatever the two of them could potentially become. "You do realize the first time I met you—you were bleeding and made jokes about killing people?"

Bucky didn't answer, and Steve just brought their mouths together again. Bucky let him without much protest. When he leaned back, he waited until Bucky looked at him. "I think I know who you are, Bucky," he said.
 
"And you're..." Bucky wrapped his right foot around the back of Steve's thigh, and Steve wondered when and how he got out of his shoes and socks. "Still interested?"

Steve just sighed letting their foreheads rest together for a few seconds. "I spend the entire month of August in a classroom buried under a mountain of paperwork. I rarely get a good night's rest the week before grades are due. I come home covered in craft paint and snot and who knows what else. I catch the flu every year, and anything else my kids have, I get too. I'm extraordinarily cranky the Monday after a holiday, and I will spend most Friday nights grading papers instead taking you out. I might not be the guy you think I am either..."

There was a smile on Bucky's face when Steve looked up, one that Steve hoped stayed there for a long time. "Sounds dangerous," Bucky said, as the corner of his mouth upturned slowly into an even warmer grin. "I can do dangerous."

*****


Missing scene.

Extracted, team log. Krakow Mission. Duration, 28 secs.

Goddamn it, Barnes. Are you taking personal calls during my mission?
Sorry, Colonel Fury. It was a mix-up.
Who the hell is that, Barnes?
CHPT.
CHPT? Nice. When’d you get digits?
What the fuck do you send with a fifth grader to a school party?
CHPT's arms? Like greek marble, Agent Hill.
Marble? Sounds better than my Saturday nights.
Cookies, pretty sure it's chocolate chip cookies.
You think, Clint? Seems awfully lazy. Barnes has been trying to hit that since October.
'Tasha, kids eat cookies.
But is Barnes even capable of making cookies? Ya seen his apartment? Scary.
Models are telling me the best choice based on your lack of culinary prowess is drinks. Number one kid's beverage in the U.S...Hawaiian Punch.
Roger that, Agent Hill.