“I don’t think I want to do this,” Steve said, one hand circling his wrist, chafing at his starched cuff. They were on a weekend pass, and Bucky never let a weekend go by without a plan. Steve would have been happy to just walk around with Buck, maybe see the sights.
“You have to,” Bucky’s eyes darted his way as he tied his shoes. “Hélène's bringing her best pal. I already said you would.”
And Steve was suddenly, unaccountably irritated with his own best friend. He didn’t really have a reason to be. It wasn't as if he hasn’t tagged along on countless double dates with girls who weren’t the least bit interested in him. He’d done it for Bucky, every time, even though Bucky was doing it for him too. He just wanted Steve to have a good time, after all.
“Besides, don’t you think your luck's changed?” Bucky flicked his glance up and down and raised a brow. “She’d have to be blind not to think you’re the best thing since sliced bread. I should be worried about my date throwing me over for you.”
“Sure,” Steve said quietly, and sat on the trunk, tie clenched between his fingers. “Captain America.” At least Peggy Carter saw him as Steve Rogers, but Peggy wasn’t here, and he and Bucky had been over that already, his best friend mixing up his hand/bird/bush analogies, but that was alright.
“These gals are French, Rogers.” Bucky rose and patted Steve’s shoulder. “Doubt your sterling reputation precedes you.” He dropped to a crouch in front of Steve and looked up at him, all puppy-dog. “Come on...I haven’t had a night out in, well, you know how long. I deserve a little R and R. And so do you.”
Steve sighed, slipping the tie under his collar. In the end, he always went along with Bucky's plans. “Fine.”
Steve wasn’t sure if it was a self-fulfilling prophecy because he hadn't expected a good time at all, but his date, an elegant redhead named Lucienne, wasn’t the least bit interested in him, and he figured she’d been dragged along just like he was. He could speak a little French, but she kept asking him to repeat himself, making Steve wonder if he was saying something unwittingly offensive rather than just awkward. It was worse when Bucky and Hélène disappeared for an hour and a half after the meal and she’d spent most of the evening in a second cafe with her arms folded, looking decidedly unimpressed at his attempts at small talk.
“She probably doesn’t care for Yanks. Maybe she likes those Parisian fellows,” Bucky said on the way back to the small hotel, but Steve wasn't bothered. “Those guys,” he added with a hiccup, like Steve would know what he meant. He didn’t, but he imagined someone smooth and articulate in a dark suit who could always produce a lighter for a lady's cigarette just in time.
“I don’t mind,” Steve said, steering Bucky away from the curb. “She wasn't my type anyhow.”
“That’s right,” Bucky said, wavering slightly on his feet as Steve produced their key, and swung the door open, guiding him inside. “You’re hung up on that Peggy Carter.”
Steve shrugged. It didn't matter. It wasn't as if she returned the sentiment.
“You are, aren’t you? You won’t give another gal a second glance.” Bucky shook his head. “I can’t believe you’re gonna be a one-woman man, the way you look now. Jesus, what a waste. Not that you weren't a looker before. I mean, I always thought so, but you know how people judge a book by its cover.”
Steve did, for sure. Bucky was right; he got a different kind of attention now. "My face is still the same," Steve points out. "Sort of."
"Yeah," Bucky nods, smiling. "It is."
"Maybe that's the problem."
"She was a pill anyhow."
“She just wasn't keen on me, Buck,” Steve said. "Couldn't be helped." He pulled his shirt out of his pants and draped it over the back of the chair on top of Bucky’s pants and shirt. He laid both ties over them and picked Bucky’s service dress coat off the bed where he’d tossed it haphazardly and put it on a hanger as Bucky pulled back the covers and flopped on his back on his side of the sole bed. “Maybe it was me or maybe it’s Yanks in general, like you said. Or sliced bread. Maybe she goes for baguettes.”
“Well, she’s crazy, then,” Bucky said. “So tell me; have you made time with Miz Carter yet?”
“Nope,” Steve shook his head before climbing under the blankets. No point in lying about it to Bucky, of all people.
Bucky gave him a catlike smile, sly. Steve could smell a hint of Hélène's perfume on him, maybe. Or it could have been the alcohol. “Are you saving yourself?”
Steve rewarded him with an eye roll.
“You are. You are!” Bucky crowed before Steve shushed him with a wave of his hand. “Well, she's really somethin'. But have you even kissed a dame since...” he gestured at Steve. "You know."
“None of your business, Bucky.” Steve frowned.
Bucky had a point. “It’s not like I’ve really been alone much with Peggy,” Steve said, running a hand through his hair before leaning back on his elbows. “What was I gonna do, plant one on her in front of the colonel?”
“Do you even know how to kiss a girl? I know you can’t make time with one, but baby steps.”
“I’ve kissed someone,” Steve said, galled.
“Who?” Bucky leaned over him and gathered up Steve’s dog tags in his fingers before poking him in the sternum with them. “Come on, who was it?”
“On the USO tour,” Steve said, thinking quickly. “One of the dancers.” He had indeed kissed one of the dancers, but it was more accurate to say she’d kissed him. He’d carried her offstage and helped wrap her ankle when she’d twisted it jumping out of the way of the falling fake-Hitler he’d fake-cold-cocked. It was a thank-you kiss, and pretty chaste, as kisses go. It's not like they weren't chaperoned the whole time, the dancers. He'd earned a disapproving glance from the director from the USO just for that.
But Steve figured it counted anyway.
“I’m impressed,” Bucky smirked. “Did you get to second base?” He groped one of Steve’s pectorals and he flinched.
“Are you scandalized? Oh sweet Jesus...you didn’t, did you? Geez, Steve.” Bucky’s face was close again, and his eyes looked a little unfocused, dark. He’d really had too many. “So how’d you kiss her?”
“Like...” Steve was exasperated. “Like normal. Normal kissing, okay?”
“Tongue?” Bucky licked his lips. “You at least slipped her your tongue, didn’t you?”
“Like this, alright?” Steve tilted his head forward and caught his lips on Bucky’s and well, moved them a little, until he realized that Bucky was completely still. Good. Maybe he’d shut him up for the evening. He blinked and flopped his head back on the pillow. “Ya happy?”
“That wasn’t...” Bucky paused, and tugged on the chain holding Steve’s dog tags again; his thumb was stuck in a loop. “That wasn’t too awful.”
“Gee thanks, Buck.” Steve shut his eyes.
“You know what they like?” Bucky murmured.
Bucky tugged on the chain impatiently. “Dames.”
“They like it when you sort of touch their faces, Steve. You know, like hold their faces when you lean in for a kiss. I mean, they love that.”
“They do, huh?”
“Yeah. Never met a gal who didn’t. You just...you...here.” He disentangled himself from the chain and Steve felt warm fingertips travel the side of his jaw, then move backward into the short hair at the nape of his neck. “See, you hold ‘em steady and then you lean in. Keeps you from missing and planting one on their ear if they don’t see it coming.”
Steve nodded slightly.
“Like this,” Bucky said, and then his lips were pressed to Steve’s, a firm, growing pressure. His lips were soft, though. Very soft. Steve’s eyes shut almost automatically, but he couldn’t resist opening them again, and found himself staring into Bucky’s as he pulled away, hand still in his hair.
“Well,” Steve said after a moment, squinting up at him. “That wasn’t too bad, I guess.”
“Not too bad?” Bucky looked disappointed, then indignant. “I’ll have you know I’m a great kisser.”
Steve wanted to smile, but kept the feeling close.“I’m sure you are, Buck.”
“I wasn’t really giving it my all, there,” Bucky huffed. “If I was smooching you for real, you’d be impressed.”
Steve felt his shoulders tense but forced himself to shrug, his shoulder hitting Bucky’s forearm. “If you say so.”
“I do say so,” Bucky replied, and leaned in again, his other hand sliding up Steve’s arm to his shoulder. He moved closer, and Steve felt Bucky’s lips ghost against his, the heat of his breath. Bucky tilted his head slightly -- Steve’s eyes were closed but he could tell -- and his lips met Steve’s again, moving softly, gentling them apart like Bucky was unlocking something precious. Oh. This was. Oh.
Steve melted deeper into the pillow when he felt Bucky’s tongue slide against his, not hard and demanding like he'd sort of expected, but deliberate. This was just...nice and soft and slow and wet, and wonderful, and Steve tried to match what he was doing. He brought an arm up to circle Bucky’s waist, the other around his shoulder, and Bucky deepened the kiss, then pulled back before surging forward again, and now...now that was demanding. Steve felt his heart race something crazy, and couldn’t stop himself from tightening his grip. Bucky let out a faint wince.
“Sorry,” Steve made an effort to breathe normally. In, then out. That was how it went. "I'm sorry," he said again, and Bucky shook his head slowly, still-damp lips stuttering against the edge of Steve's jaw.
“S'okay,” he murmured.
“You’re right, I’m uh...impressed,” Steve managed in reply. His face felt like it was on fire. “You’re really good at it.” He could feel Bucky’s smile against his skin, and reluctantly loosened his grip again as Bucky slid his hand away from the back of Steve's neck and leaned up on one elbow.
Bucky's eyes searched his, and he didn't seem very tipsy at all, not anymore.
“I do, Bucky.”
“Good. You...you're pretty decent yourself.” Bucky cleared his throat and mock-punched Steve’s chest before moving back and away and turning to collapse onto his stomach. “See? Now you’ll know how to kiss proper and not embarrass your country. Or Brooklyn. Or me, for that matter,” he mumbled into his pillow.
“Good, that's good,” Steve said softly. "Thanks. I wouldn't want to...to embarrass anybody." He reached over and yanked on the pull cord for the lamp, pitching the room into darkness. He rolled over, tucked the pillow under his neck and pressed the tips of his fingers to his mouth.
It was a good long while before Steve fell asleep.