Bucky rifled through the compacts trying to find his blue eye shadow amongst all the other colors he’d brought with him. When he’d first gotten here, he had just dumped his bag of cosmetics on the scratched and chipped surface. He grimaced wishing he’d taken more care now that the clock on the wall was ticking away the final thirty minutes before everything started. Finding the blue he wanted, he tried to apply it the way the instructions on the back explained, but only ended up smearing it unevenly across his brow bone.
"Damn it," Bucky sighed.
Bucky looked over at where Steve sat in a rickety chair. He had set aside his well worn copy of ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ and now looked over at Bucky half out of his seat. “Just let me know if there’s anything I can help you with, Buck. I don’t like feeling as though I’m sitting watching you life you’re a display.”
He set the eye shadow down and smiled into the mirror, knowing Steve could see it. “You’re the only one who doesn’t make me feel that way, Steve, or one of the few I guess.” Bucky answered. He reached for blush, figuring he couldn’t mess that up. Even as a kid, he hadn’t made the mistake of over applying blush. “Besides, Steve. Bucky’s grin widened as he brushed on the rose color. “I believe you promised Peggy you would never ever try to apply makeup on me again, remember?”
Steve chuckled. “True, but I don’t think you’re trying to infiltrate any Nazi clubs this evening, so the stakes are a little lower. Besides, I think she also made you promise not to do your own make up ever again, isn’t that right, Mr. Barnes?”
“I’ve been practicing,” Bucky said with a laugh. “Have you been practicing too, Mr. Rogers?”
“Not since I dressed up like your Nan,” Steve answered. He and Bucky shared a warm laugh over the memory of Steve in the corset and garters.
“You know, there’s something called “White Clown Stick,” and it makes a much better base for eye shadow than whatever you’re using.”
Glancing at the mirror, Bucky could see Clint’s tall form leaning casually in the doorway. He was already in full dress, blonde wig coiffed and makeup better than Bucky could hope to do. His pose exaggerated the curves of his hips and caused the front to the lilac gown to fall gracefully in front of his chest.
“If it’s what you used,” Bucky answered, continuing to look at the mirror rather than turn around, “then I think I’ll pass. I want to look a little more natural and little less circus accident.”
Clint laughed, pushed past Steve, and sauntered over to Bucky. He gripped the back of Bucky’s chair, leaned over, invading Bucky’s space, until Bucky leaned back in his own chair.
“Maybe you can help him with his make up,” Steve said, watching them both from his chair. “It seems ‘steady hands’ only applies to guns and knives.”
"I can see that." Clint patted Bucky's head. "We'll set you straight, don’t worry."
Bucky rolled his eyes then glared at Clint. Clint just kept smiling at him until Bucky caved in and relinquished the makeup into Clint’s waiting hand.
“You know, liking dresses doesn’t mean I gotta like the rest of it,” Bucky grumbled as he closed his eyes to allow Clint to fix the eye shadow job he’d made a mess of.
“Sure, but at this event, a little make up isn’t a bad thing.” Clint answered as he blended the eye shadow colors. He put the brush down and gave his work a critical look. “I promise I’ll go easy on you.” He said as he picked up a small brush and began to brush it across the lipstick. “Steve you should watch.”
“For those times I need to apply lipstick, Clint?” Steve asked dryly, but Bucky guessed Steve was smiling at the back of Clint’s head.
“Naw, so you can watch me do something infinitely better than you or sidekick boy here.”
“Can I kick him Steve?”
“Don’t talk while I put lipstick on you,” Clint snapped. “a nd I’ll kick back, right Steve?”
Steve made a show of putting his nose back into his book, long since having learned when to stay out of Clint and Bucky’s spats.
It didn’t take long for Clint to finish, and Bucky had to admit Clint did know what he was doing. He even had a few tricks that Bucky had never seen before, even from Peggy.
“You’re lucky you’re not going for a female illusion here,” Clint commented as he applied a finale dusting of powder. “It would take more time than I have to soften that jaw of yours.”
Bucky shrugged. “I just want to look nice, not look like a dame.”
“You’re so cute when you say dame, isn’t he cute Steve.”
“I am never “cute”, Barton,” Bucky insisted. “Tell him, Steve.”
Steve kept reading, but Bucky could tell he was trying not to laugh.
“You got my dress?” Bucky asked as he avoided a fake punch from Clint.
Steve nodded and reached into a bag beside him.
“A bag! Steve, a bag,” Clint said aghast. “You put an expensive silk dress in a bag?”
“Purely to horrify you,” Steve said as he passed Clint by, shaking wrinkles from the dress. “Do you need me to turn around, Bucky” Steve asked with a small laugh.
Bucky and Clint both made scoffing sound. “Like you haven’t seen all of this before,” Bucky said as he began to unbutton his shirt.
“And enjoyed it,’ Clint quipped, earning himself a sharp look from both Steve and Bucky. Clint just laughed. “Sorry, but that’s not secret.”
Bucky continued to glare as he pulled on the dress. Steve though smiled over at Clint. “I suppose it’s not. We could say it’s as secret as your fondness for drag was.”
Bucky could hear Clint chuckle as Clint helped zip the dress up, then tugged a bit to make sure the green silk fell correctly. "I spent years in a miniskirt, what makes you think I was trying to keep it secret?"
"I hear so much of the infamous mini skirt," Bucky said. "And yet I've been denied pictures."
"My fashion sense evolved. I hunt down pictures of me in that get up the way Lucas hunts down copies of the Star Wars Christmas Special. Trust me, you're not missing anything but my legs, and I've got nicer numbers to show those off. When Jan found out about me she-" Clint broke off and Bucky felt him fumble as he attached the beads that draped across the back of Bucky's dress.
"Is she the one who designed your outfit tonight?" Bucky asked. He lowered his voice, and the playful tone of seconds before had disappeared. The air in the room felt heavier and both Steve and Clint seemed quieter than before.
He could tell Clint nodded. "She spent months making clothes for me. I remember her saying how much fun it was because drag fashion was so much less inhibited. I’ll take her word on that. I know what I like but not much beyond that. But anyway, she enjoyed designing for me. Probably would have loved designing for you too, especially the challenge of that arm. Give Jan a design challenge like, ' robotic arm" and she was in heaven.
Bucky's lips twitched. "It would have been swell to see what she came up with." He wet his lips. He hadn't known her well, even when she'd been alive, they'd been on opposing sides for the most part and comments about her from the New Avengers had been tainted with spite and resentment.
"You ever consider padding?" Clint asked, sparing Bucky the need to change the subject himself. Any question of what Clint meant was removed when he slapped his hand against Bucky’s ass.
Bucky, turned and gave Clint a flirtatious smile. "You don't think my ass looks nice enough?"
"Oh I think it looks fantastic, Buck, but a little more roundness would set the dress off."
Bucky shrugged. "But then I don't think I'd enjoy it as much. I don't know. Maybe later, but right now, I like that this looks good on me without a lot of additions."
Clint nodded as he adjusted his breast plate. "Can't argue with that, especially when the dress works so well on you as is. You work the 'boyish figured' look. One day, you've got to let me try something on you with a little more of a flapper look."
"Give me a little more time before you get me up in sequins and feathers."
Clint raised his eyebrows, "I said flapper, not showgirl, but if that's where your mind is Barnes, I can certainly help with that."
"God no," Bucky laughed. "I'd hate to encroach on your territory Clint." Then he turned to Steve and smiled. “How do I look?”
"Better than I did," Steve said with a smile as he stood and went over to Bucky. He kissed Bucky on the cheek. “You look great Buck."
“You did a great job Clint and we are all impressed," Clint said in between a cough. Steve gave him a pained expression that spoke of years of friendship.
"You did a good job, Clint," he mimicked. Steve went over and gave Bucky a quick hug. “Best of luck to you both."
“Yeah well, just make sure he gets out onto the runway in about 10 minutes. I need to make sure I didn’t get anything on my dress."
Bucky leaned in closer to Steve as Clint left the room. As the door shut, he took a deep breath, smiling as he felt Steve’s hand wrap around his waist..
"You doing ok?” Steve murmured.
Bucky nodded. "This is fun, and it's nice. I’m not dressing like this for a mission or some other excuse, and Clint’s been. . ." Bucky just grinned up at Steve. "It's just really fun."
Steve nodded then kissed Bucky on the cheek. "knock 'em dead, tonight pal."