Steve Rogers, 27 years old and currently watching ‘Say Yes To The Dress’ at 3am in his boxer shorts and clutching a bag of Cheetos, is pretty sure his life got derailed at some point. His job, which had been billed as ‘the new wave of animation’ turned out to be just like the old wave of animation – same styles, same art… same everything.
He’d hoped that things would be different this time around, but since Peggy left, Shield just wasn’t the same. He was pretty sure the CEO had good ideas, but the way they went around implementing them wasn’t ideal. He grabbed another handful of Cheetos and munched his way through them. Maybe it was time to take Stark Studios up on their offer.
All Steve had ever wanted to do was draw. He’d grown up with Disney and Don Bluth, Pixar and Dreamworks on constant repeat, loved the new style of CGI – but his heart would always belong to the hand drawn animation of the old school Classics. He’d been working on a short of his own, painstakingly putting together seconds of animation – trying a new method of using watercolours.
None of that, of course, really excused him for watching bad TV in his underwear on a Friday night, but still. He was artistic, right? He got to act like a slob every now and then – especially since he’d taken an extra hour on his run that morning.
Sam had been pissed because he was still trying to work off that Halloween candy he’d bought ‘for the kids’ before realising that there was little chance of kids walking up 8 flights for some candy, and then eating the lot. Steve hadn’t been quite so bad, he’d managed to give most of his away.
Normally he’d not give into the blues, the Cheetos at 3am in your shorts blues – normally he’d work out, make something healthy and organic and full of vegetables and get some sleep, but he was so done with being good all the time. Doing what he was told by everyone.
Admittedly, doing what he was told by Doctors did change his life – he was no longer 95lbs of wheezing teenager with a bad heart and worse long term prospects. A little too late to escape the bullying but not too late for senior year, he’d shot up, and out – open heart surgery to fix a faulty valve meant he was no longer at risk from suddenly dying of a heart attack, and his new asthma meds meant that his lungs were not actively trying to kill him – and now at the grand age of 27 years old, he was built (as Sam liked to say) like a ‘fucking tank’. He didn’t get picked on, mostly people tried to pick him up – but he remembered being the last guy picked for sports, and the one no one wanted to date. In fact, the only friend he’d ever had growing up was Gabe, who’d moved away to live with his grandparents in Iowa, leaving Steve absolutely desolate without his best friend. Of course, now he had more people around him – Sam, who worked as a therapist and ended up on Steve’s couch more often than not because he saw some crazy shit in his job. There was Peggy, who had moved out to Washington for a new job, who skyped him almost every day just to catch up. There was Thor and Jane, who kinda came as a joint package with Jane’s BBF Darcy, and Steve’s liver couldn’t quite keep up with all three of them when they got started. He’d even go so far as to say Tony and Pepper were friends too, although he wasn’t quite sure if they were just trying to get him to go work for them.
But no one, not really, whom he could call at 3am while eating Cheetos in his boxer shorts when he was feeling a little down.
He must have drifted off. Must have, the light was slowly filling the apartment from outside, and the show was some early morning crap that was trying to tell him about how a colon cleanse would add years to his life – when he was snapped out of his doze by what could only be described as a full on scream. Jumping to his feet in an instant, knocking the half eaten bowl of chips out of his lap and sending them like little orange rockets all over the damn apartment, it took him a moment to work out that the noise must have come from somewhere… upstairs. He could hear movement from the normally silent apartment, and then another scream. Steve knew it would take longer to run up a flight of stairs than it would to use the fire escape, so he launched himself towards his window, grabbing his baseball bat as he went. Whatever was going on in the apartment above him, it wasn’t good – and his mind was instantly filled with horror stories. A robbery gone wrong? A murder?
Would he get to the apartment too late, just in time to see some blood soaked serial killer lurch out of sight – but not before the guy saw his face… The cold metal of the fire escape was painful on his bare feet as he booked it up the rattling stairs. Would he end up in Witness Protection, with a new name and a new job? What would Sam and Peggy think if he just vanished without a trace? He couldn’t let that stop him though, he had to do what was right.
The window was open, probably to let in the crisp morning air, and Steve took a breath before climbing through. In the middle of the room was a man, bare-chested and frozen in place, messy, long hair falling out of some kind of elastic at the back of his head. He looked utterly terrified, and Steve gripped the bat tighter.
“Where are they?” He whispered, voice low to stop Charles Manson from overhearing him, and the man didn’t move. “Stay here.” Steve said, lifting the bat higher and creeping through to the kitchen. The apartment was a carbon copy for his own, so he knew that if he went through the kitchen he’d get to the hallway and then the bedrooms. The wrapped leather around the wooden bat gave a squeak at the force of his grip as he moved silent on bare feet, slowly moving towards wherever Ted Bundy was keeping himself.
He was sneaking through the hallway towards the first room when he realised he should totally have gotten the guy in the living room to call the cops – too late now, he was almost at the door…
Carefully and slowly he edged the door open with his foot, a two handed grip on the bat. He was ready. Jeffrey Dahmer was gonna get fucked up if he thought he’d get one over on Steve Rogers.
The room was empty. An unmade bed and what obviously must have been some struggle – drawers were open, clothes all over the floor. Maybe the guy in the living room had interrupted a burglary in the act, maybe the guy had a gun. Maybe it was more than one person and Steve was walking into a trap.
His heart was thumping hard, like he’d run a marathon, and he was aware that he was gonna die in his boxer briefs – when they told him mom how they found him, they’d tell her he was wearing boxers with orange Cheeto stains on them and she’d be embarrassed because she’d always told him to wear clean underwear in case he got hit by a truck or something.
One room left.
He moved silently, ears straining for any kind of sound and hearing nothing but his own heart thudding in his ears, towards the door. The last room was some kind of study, with a computer and files and a cup of coffee that had obviously been sitting overnight. This place hadn’t been trashed – and it was empty of serial killers, armed robbers or the guy from Saw.
Steve lowered the bat. “Huh.” He said, stepping back into the hallway. The front door was locked, and like him, the guy in the living room had a deadbolt and a chain on there – because it wasn’t the best area and safety first.
He padded back through to the living room and shrugged at the man still frozen on the spot – terror clearly written on his face – and shrugged. “They must have climbed out of the wind-” he started, but didn’t get much further before something on the man’s head moved. All eight, thick, hairy legs.
“Get it off!” The man hissed, panic clearly tightening his throat as Steve stood staring in terror. That wasn’t a bathtub spider, which could get to some pretty impressive sizes. No.
That was a fucking tarantula. Not ‘like a tarantula’ or ‘the same size as a tarantula’ but an actual fucking tarantula. He whimpered, and shook his head. “Please!” The man begged, trying not to move as the gigantic spider moved another leg. Slowly. Terrifyingly.
“I can’t.” Steve said, or at least tried to say – his lips moved but no sound came out. Did they bite? He was pretty sure they bit people. Oh god, the good-looking shirtless guy was gonna get bitten by a deadly spider as Steve stood holding a bat in his Cheeto stained underwear, unable to move. Steve was scared of precisely two things. Drowning (an unfortunate accident on an ice covered lake meant that he was totally not up for ice baths, ever) and spiders.
Mostly just spiders.
Sam had bought him a little battery powered vacuum with a long nozzle so he could suck them up and not have to get too close – it was supposed to be a joke gift, but Steve had found it to be a life saver with the giant bathtub spiders. They ended up in a little tub he could empty out of the window, which he could slam shut and refuse to open for a few days afterword, in case they crawled back up.
Peggy had laughed her ass of that a guy who’d quite gladly square off against 4 or 5 guys if he thought they were picking on someone wouldn’t open his window after throwing out a spider just in case it crawled back up for revenge.
The spider on the attractive, shirtless man’s head though, was most definitely evil. It was glaring at Steve with all of its black, beady eyes, and he was pretty sure it was working out if it could jump from the (very) attractive man’s head on to Steve. They could jump, right? He was sure they could jump, because how the hell else did it get on the dudes head?
The man whimpered again, and Steve flinched back automatically. Outside he could hear someone on the ramp – probably because of all the screaming – but his entire focus was on the spider. The massive spider. That was looking at him. “Help!” The man hissed, muscles straining with how hard he was trying not to move.
Steve’s little vacuum wasn’t going to work on that, would probably just piss it off, and chew his arm off or something. Christ, it would probably –
“Hey, have you guys seen-” A female voice said from the window, jolting both of them with shock. Steve watched in horror as the spider slid from the top of the man head onto his shoulder – and he freaked, his whole body spasming and lurching involuntarily. Both He and Steve let out duel screams, nothing manly about it for two guys who probably weighed over 400bls between them, as the spider hit the ground and scuttled under the couch, far too fast and waaaay to fucking creepily for Steve – he immediately launched his body onto the nearest surface off the ground (a coffee table) at the same time the (very) attractive man did exactly the same. Thank god it was sturdy, because if it gave out from under their combined weight, Steve would actually die.
It took a moment for him to realise that they were clutching at each other’s arms, and there was quite a lot of nice, warm, bare skin that was distracting Steve from the killer spider that was lurking under the couch.
“Oh Jesus fucking Christ,” The man was saying, over and over, hand gripping Steve’s forearm tightly. “Holy shit.”
Steve, who was pretty sure he was going to have a heart attack, just held on tight, eyes fixed on the point where the spider had taken off under the couch. Probably some kind of psychological terror tactic, Steve guessed, probably hoping they might let their guard down so it could launch itself back at them.
Dimly he was aware of someone laughing. It certainly wasn’t him, and it wasn’t the guy who was shivering against his side, miles of skin pressed against his. Under their bare feet, the wooden table gave an ominous creek, and Steve winced. If the table broke he’d be a sitting duck for the killer spider.
There was a sudden flash, bright and harsh on the edge of his vision that made him see spots – and he automatically looked to see what it was.
There was a woman climbing through the window from the fire escape, bright red hair shining in the early morning light. She was wearing figure hugging black clothes that Steve noted dimly in the back of his mind, were hugging a very nice figure. In her hand, she was holding a phone. With a camera.
And she was laughing her ass off.
“Oh god,” She was saying, between laughs, “That’s made my week.” She paused once she was through the frame, and leaned out. “Peter!” She called, looking up. “I found her!” When she looked back at them both, still perched on the table and blinking out the flash from their eyes, she smirked. “My nephew didn’t notice she’d gone awol.” She said, walking calmly over to the couch and peering under, obviously oblivious to the danger of the killer spider launching itself at her face. Both of the men whimpered, and the table creaked again, freezing them both in place. “She’s totally harmless,” The woman was saying, as a skinny teenager swung through the open window and landed on his feet.
“Oh god, I’m so so so sorry!” He said, running over to the couch where the woman was still peering under immediately. “I must have left the cage open last night and she got out, and I’m so sorry!” He said, reaching under the couch and pulling his hand back, spider in his palm. He swung around to face them, and Steve pulled back at the same time as the (very) attractive shirtless man did – the table tipped back with their combined weight, sending them sprawling over the floor, a mess of tangled limbs and nakedness as they tried to get out of the way.
“Peter, just take her back upstairs.” The redhead said, “We’ll apologise later.”
“Oh, yeah, um, okay!” The teen said, pulling away, taking the killer spider with him.
Steve didn’t move a muscle until both the boy and the woman left through the window, the same one he’d climbed through only a few minutes before. Once they were out though, his whole body relaxed – he let out a long breath he didn’t even notice he’d been holding. “Holy cow.” He muttered, and the man who was still tangled up on the floor with him, started laughing – a little hysterically.
“I am going to go boil my skin off in the shower.” He said, but made no move to untangle his legs and arms from Steve. “Jesus Christ, I think I just knocked like, 80 years off my life.” He paused and then looked at Steve. “Who the hell are you?”
“Uh,” Steve said, “I live under you. I heard a scream, thought you were being murdered or something.”
“That explains the bat.” The man said, still not making any attempt to move. “I’m Bucky, Bucky Barnes.” He blinked. “Not fond of spiders or ice.”
“Steve Rogers,” Steve said. “And, uh, same, actually.”
“Yeah, bad incident with a frozen lake.”
“Yeah. Got black out drunk at a party and fell into a snowdrift. Nearly lost my damn arm.” He paused, moving only enough to get a look at Steve, and grinned. “You gonna save my life in a pair of ratty ol’ boxer shorts?” and laughed when Steve blushed crimson.
“I was asleep.” Steve said, pulling back a little. “I thought someone was being attacked. I didn’t bother putting on my under armour.”
“It’s a crime you even bothered with the shorts, to be honest.” Bucky said, and Steve shot him a questioning look. Yeah, he was cute, but that didn’t mean he swung for Steve’s team.
“You think?” He said, giving Bucky a slow look up and down. He was pretty fit – the type of fitness that comes from working and not working out – and he was incredibly attractive.
“Yeah.” Bucky agreed. “If I’d have known I was gonna have blond knights in shining armour come save me, I’d certainly have had second thoughts about sweat pants I picked off the floor.”
“I’ve seen your bedroom.” Steve pointed out. “It’s a miracle you found anything at all.”
“You say that now, but you’ve never seen me naked.” The other man said, with a wink. “It’s pretty near miraculous.”
And Steve couldn’t help but laugh his ass off.
Turned out he was right.