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The New Cold War

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The New Cold War by Orithe

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In the beginning, it started with an idea that grew into art. From the art, grew the prompt:

Art title:  The New Cold War
Ship: Steve/Bucky
Canon:  AU-ice skating
Artist’s Comments:  The idea came from an anon prompt on LJ that asked for the following:
"Since Natasha is Russian and very athletic, and Bucky is an honorary Russian and also very athletic: Both of them ice skating together. Or, better yet, doing a figure skating lift."

I really wanted to do this, since I'm a big fan of Bucky and Natasha being Russian together, plus I just watched Yuri on Ice so I was really excited about this one. I wanted a sports AU with elements of media fic, and I was hoping that someone who loves figure skating would choose to write about it. I'm really happy with what came out of this collaboration, thank you DebWalsh!!!

Chapter Text


From Tumblr
Sayresbury Watch – 2017 Training Season, t-minus 1!
The scene today at Sayresbury is quiet. Quiet, quiet, quiet! Like pin drop quiet, calm before the storm, don’t look in the closet quiet. My main girl Darcy Lewis, administrator for the center and the best smoothie maker in the history of yummyness, is gearing up for another great season at Sayresbury. I’ll be reporting from rinkside as the skaters return to the ice to train for the 2017-18 season. Expect hotness, beauty, and gossip, gossip, gossip! And many, many, MANY! pix of the delectable Steve! Captain America Rulez! Laters!

#sayresbury rules #steggy4life #steve rogers is bae #get your red hot ice right here #reblogs welcome

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 12h
Sk8ers arrv tmrw pix 2 come

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 12h
cd steve rogers b n e hotter?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 12h
No


Steve flicked the turn signal to move into the exit lane, and eased his Prius over smoothly. He could’ve taken the train up from New York, but he enjoyed driving, and got to do it so rarely these days. Besides, for the months he’d be based in Sayresbury, it’d be good to have some wheels to get out of town every so often. He loved what he did, and he loved the team around him, he really did, but every once in a while, he just felt … hemmed in.

He was only a few miles away from his destination now, at the cusp of the new competitive year. The international assignments wouldn’t be announced by the ISU until July, but after placing at both of their internationals last year, scoring a podium spot at Nationals, and a good showing at Worlds, he and Pegs were likely to score a plum spot at Skate America. Especially since the current US national champions had announced their retirement after Worlds. He and Pegs had been edged out of a spot at the Grand Prix final last season, but Steve could taste it this year – they were going to the final, and he planned to be on the podium there, preferably on the top step.

This year, the US Grand Prix event – Skate America – was in Lake Placid, NY, so his Mom would actually be able to attend. He was planning to have her take the train to Sayresbury, and he’d convince their coach to let him drive up, so maybe he could spend some time with her that week. Because, yeah, he liked to drive, and their competition schedule didn’t allow a lot of time for that. And since Mom didn’t fly, she didn’t get to see many of his competitions. And she’d sacrificed a lot to make it possible for him to pursue this dream. But travelling to and from the event, and having that week to see her at practices and meals? It would be good for both of them.

In recent years, Sayresbury, Connecticut had become his home away from home, a far cry from where he’d grown up in Brooklyn. During the lead-up to the competitive season, it was his home. Once the season started, he was there between events, until the season wound down. This year, thanks to their silver medal at Nationals, and fifth place at Worlds, they’d been invited to tour with Stars on Ice, which had been really fun, but tiring. And challenging, trying to keep up with his schoolwork as he worked toward his art therapy degree. He’d been happy to return home to Brooklyn and just veg for a few weeks.

But vegging wasn’t in Steve Rogers’s DNA. He was a go-getter. He’d had to be. He’d been a small kid, plagued with various ailments, but the worst had been his asthma. He’d started skating as a way to get exercise and hopefully build up his lung capacity, and hard work, puberty, and some cutting edge respiratory treatments had helped him grow from that small, sickly kid to the tall, robust athlete he was today. That and the crushing regimen he maintained – weights, running, kickboxing, ballet, and more. Steve couldn’t afford to spend much time on the couch, not if he hoped to stay in shape.

And he wasn’t going to be able to continue his education solely online much longer. If he was serious about his degree, he was going to have to make some decisions about his skating career versus his vocation, and soon. This could be the last year he could focus so completely on competition. It could even, maybe, be his last competitive year.

It was also, God help him, the start of a new Olympic season. How he did in the fall would set him up for his potential to make the Olympic, or alternatively – disappointingly – Worlds teams.

He wanted to skate in Pyeongchang. He wanted to skate under the Olympic rings next February. He wanted to ascend the podium on Olympic ice.

He wanted it so bad, some days the thought of it hurt. The thought of not making it that far.

This season would be both shorter and longer thanks to the Olympics. Nationals would be held earlier than usual to secure the US Olympic team. They’d compete over the New Year’s holiday this year, instead of later in January. Well, practices in December, then the novice and juniors, with the Seniors hitting the ice in January. Worlds would be held around the same time as usual, meaning that most skaters who competed at the Olympics wouldn’t go on to the Worlds that came after, not unless they had something to prove. By then, the incredibly intense Olympic season would have sapped them of everything they had.

So it was either going to be the Olympics, or Worlds.

And he wanted Olympics.

God, he wanted Olympics.

If this was going to be his last competitive season, he planned to make it count.

&&&


Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 21mins
Train 2 SBury swear I saw pretty RF boy

Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 20mins
u no the 1 w/the hair

Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 19mins
I m shook


Sasha leaned his face against the window, eyes half shut, as he watched the landscape zip by. His knees were drawn up, and he knew he was holding himself defensively, but what the hell. He was feeling defensive. Drawn and worn out, to be honest. He didn’t want to be where he was, didn’t want to be where he was going. Wasn’t really all that keen on where he’d been.

Beside him in the comfortable bench seat sat his partner of the last ten years, Natasha Romanova. She was his partner and his best friend. His worst enemy and his biggest supporter. She knew everything there was to know about him, and he suspected she knew more than he did. If it weren’t offensive to suggest it, he’d almost think she was KGB, but he knew that Natasha thought all that espionage crap was just that, crap. It didn’t stop either of them from looking over their shoulders on a regular basis, though.

Both of them had reason for concern. Natasha had met a young man, an American, and had made the mistake of falling in love with him. He was pretty taken with her, too, which only demonstrated that as much as he could be a walking disaster, he also had pretty good taste. They’d kept their relationship pretty low key, but Sasha knew that Natasha really cared about this guy, and he cared about her. Maybe enough to get married, not quite defect, but certainly move outside of the influence and control of the Russian Federation.

So, Natasha had a boyfriend.

Sasha wanted one.

And that presented a whole different level of difficulty.

Back home in Russia, the prevailing attitude toward gays, or anyone on the LGBTQ+ spectrum for that matter, was not a positive one. And it wasn’t just disapproval. In the most extreme cases, there could be prison time.

And a world class figure skater, a sports hero, coming out as gay?

Well, that would be a qualified shit show.

So Sasha hadn’t come out. There’d been a few fumbled kisses, some surreptitious groping, some hasty and inexpert – and ultimately unsatisfying – hand action. But it had been anonymous, and hurried, and something he really didn’t care to think about. He didn’t date. He didn’t go to gay bars, he didn’t swipe left or right. He just dreamed of the day when maybe he could be himself, when maybe he could find someone who’d love him for that self, and he wouldn’t have to fear reprisal.

That day wasn’t today.

So while he loved what he did, loved skating with Natasha, loved representing Russia to the world, he felt a little bit of himself die each day. It was worse when he was in the United States, because he was surrounded by people living their lives, openly, happily. He’d just spent the last two weeks with his older sister Rebecca in New York, in Brooklyn, and he’d been surrounded by evidence that there was life after gay.

But not for him. Not as long as Romanova and Barnes were a Russian pairs team.

He felt his right hand being pulled away from where it gripped his knees, felt Natasha thread her fingers between his gloved fingers, and squeeze. She shuffled closer and laid her head on his shoulder, drawing herself up into a compact ball leaning against him.

“Thank you,” she whispered, gently tugging the glove from his left hand. He watched her, frowning, but didn’t move to stop her. She held the glove in a ball in her other hand while she slid her fingers between his. He closed his eyes to the sensation; it wasn’t often that he allowed himself to touch skin to skin.

“For what?” he answered softly, holding back the near sob that the contact wrenched from him.

“For sticking with me.”

“We have a chance to medal this year. Make the Olympics. Where else would I be?”

She ran her fingertips over the tattoo that covered the fingers of his left hand, tracing the lines that emulated metal plates, covering up the scars of his youthful folly. Few people even knew the tattoo existed; he always practiced and performed with his left arm and hand completely covered, with a glove on the right so it didn’t look unbalanced. Gloved, like Michael Jackson had been, only he covered both hands – people took it as an affectation, a harmless fashion statement. It was better than the truth.

Natasha wasn’t just people, she was family. She knew the truth, both on the surface, and in his heart. She could touch him where no one else but family could. “You could be anywhere you choose to be, Sasha.”

“Well, then,” he answered, tugging his hand away to take hers in both of his. “I’m where I’m supposed to be, aren’t I?” he asked, bringing her fingers to his lips, where he gently placed a kiss against her fingertips.

“You tell the most beautiful lies, Sasha,” she told him then, smiling sadly. “And I am selfish enough to choose to believe them.”

“And I am selfish enough to let you, Natasha,” he whispered to her, and drew their held hands to rest against his heart, turning his attention back to the blurred view of the world beyond. He’d allow himself this, this touch, but soon he’d have to don the glove again, insulate himself from the world once more.

&&&


Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 2h
No touchie! Stve is MINE!!!!!

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 2h
Or Peggys ill share w/peggy

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 2h
Steggy sandwich 3some ftw!!!


Steve pulled into the driveway of the duplex where he’d be living for the next year, and smiled. While Sayresbury had become more or less home over the past few years, he’d always roomed with several other skaters in an almost dormitory environment. Not this year.

This year, he was splitting an apartment with Sam Wilson, a great guy he’d met last season when Sam had been interning at the Center, working through his physical therapy practicum. He’d demonstrated a nearly supernatural touch when it came to sussing out a pain or a knot, an abraded or damaged bone, and had made a big impression on the center’s owners and the athletes he helped. Steve had been really excited for his friend that he’d been invited back to do another season, full time and on payroll this time. It meant that they could swing the apartment together, hang out together, and Steve could enjoy a little independence at last.

Not that Steve was a raver or some kind of wild child. He was good-looking, and well-built, thanks to his hard work. He knew girls were interested, and he could have his pick from among the athletes who trained at the Center, and the ice bunnies who hung out at the rink. He and Pegs had their own fans, folks who chattered incessantly on the Internet about Steggy, and how cute they were, and wouldn’t it be amazing if they got married? On the ice?

He had to laugh at that one. It had been a pretty hotly contested topic for a few weeks after Worlds, like somehow all those fans would magically find wedding invitations in their inboxes, and Steve and Pegs would do the whole ceremony in gala costumes on center ice. At MSG.

Pegs found the whole thing hysterically funny, but her boyfriend of five years, Daniel Sousa, wasn’t quite so thrilled. The fan base pretty much chose to ignore his existence, preferring instead to follow the fairytale narrative they’d concocted about the non-existent romance between Steve and his best friend.

The only wedding action Steve had planned anytime soon was giving Peggy away when she married Daniel. In a church or a glade or somewhere completely devoid of ice. A hot-air balloon, maybe. And he was really gonna have to get on Daniel’s case about proposing sometime soon.

No, he and Pegs weren’t an item, never had been. He liked the ladies just fine, but, well, at the risk of being a cliché … Steve was pretty much gay. He didn’t discount the idea of meeting a nice woman and being attracted to her, but for the most part, what did it for him was men. Athletic, dark-haired, kinda bad boy-ish, hot men.

But because he had no intention of being a cliché, he’d kept his sexuality quiet, didn’t do the gay bar thing, even now that he was legal. He didn’t Tindr, Grindr, or any “r.” He didn’t even Tumblr, and he knew they’d eat him up with a spoon if they knew he liked the D.

Now, Sam was straight, Steve knew. Because if he’d shown the slightest interest, Steve was sure he would have happily pursued – and hopefully caught – Sam. But Sam knew about Steve, and he wasn’t concerned about Steve’s gayness. He was more concerned about Steve’s closetedness, but he’d agreed that it was Steve’s life, and so long as it didn’t overtly hurt him, he’d keep his opinions to himself.

Steve felt that they’d make good roommates, and so far, Sam hadn’t said or done anything to make him question that assessment. In fact, now that he’d helped Steve unload the car and situate his stuff in the apartment, Sam held out a bottle of Gatorade and grinned his gap-toothed grin at him. “Wanna meet for dinner later?”

“Yeah, sure. Rest of the team won’t be in for another day or two – we usually have a team-building dinner after everyone arrives. You’ll probably get invited to that, too. But yeah, let’s do something, just the two of us. Pegs gets in tomorrow. That’s when I start working, I guess.”

“Surprised you didn’t room with her,” Sam said, taking a swig of his water.

“Oh, that would have set the interwebs ablaze! They already ship us. Cohabiting? They’d be picking out baby furniture!”

“Yeah, I guess that makes sense. And of course no one knows you both like men. She does, right? I mean, I never asked –“

“At the very least. Peggy’s a very sensual woman – I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn she’s bi or even poly. But it’s not something we’ve ever discussed.”

“So where is she staying for the season?”

“She has a cousin who lives nearby. She’ll be staying with Sharon this season. But she’s due in at Bradley tomorrow around noon, so I’ll pick her up, help her get situated, and then we’ll report in. But tonight? Tonight I’m still on vacay. So lead the way. There’d better be beer involved!”

&&&


SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 1h
Selfie! Stalk him! Selfie or its not true!!!!


Their coach, legendary pairs skater Misha Petrov, met them at the train station with a big smile, and bigger hugs. They’d been skating with him for several years now, and while he pushed them to their limits every day, he knew when to respect those limits, knew when to honor them, and knew when they were just guidelines to be pushed aside. He looked out for his skaters, and was both a good coach, and a good guardian.

He knew about Sasha’s scars, and the tattoo that covered them. He respected Sasha’s reticence over them, and was always careful that the choreography and costumes never exposed more than Sasha was comfortable with exposing. Every program included gloves of some color. Every program included a costume that covered his left side from neck to fingers to waist. Sometimes they even built the program around the way he remained encased in clothing, practically mummified by it.

But the routines he crafted with them formed beautiful shapes on the ice, with challenging positions and elements. They’d been climbing steadily through the ranks of Russian pairs teams, had had some successes on the international stage, and were poised to break into the top this year. They’d made the podium at both of their events in last year’s Grand Prix, and had managed to hold onto the sixth slot for the final. They hadn’t medaled, but they planned to remedy that this season. They were coming into their own just as the Olympic season dawned, and this summer in Connecticut was intended to give them the edge they needed.

They’d missed Worlds because the Russian team only had two slots for senior pairs. They’d lost out to the reigning world champions, and the current Russian national champions. Unfortunately, the world champion pair had failed to medal at Worlds, so Russia only had two slots again this season, at both Worlds and the Olympics. They’d retired after that, an ignominious end to a promising career, under a brutal coach who was vocal about all their faults to anyone who’d listen. Sasha knew they were lucky to have a coach like Misha, who supported them and never raised his voice with them. They blossomed under his guidance – he’d watched the world champions wither and die under the influence of their vitriolic coach. He imagined they might be happier now, with the ice a memory.

For now, Misha took them to the furnished apartments where they’d make their homes for the next few months, up through the start of the Grand Prix season and possibly beyond. Natasha would be rooming with some of the other women skaters in the team, while Sasha would be rooming with some of the men. He and Natasha would be working with Misha, of course. But they’d also be working with new trainers, new choreographers, even new costume makers as they and other members of the Russian team settled in to see what working in America could do for them. They’d also be training on the same ice as American skaters, and some from other countries who came to this center to take advantage of its world-class staff and training program.

The hope was that it would all help them ascend to the top step on the podium. Put gold around their necks.

It also had the fringe benefit of putting him in the same country as his older sister, someone he loved but barely saw since she’d left Russia years ago to go to school here. She’d never gone back, except for the rare vacation, and sitting with their grandmother before she’d passed, sticking around for the funeral. They both enjoyed dual citizenship, due to their father being American and their mother being Russian. Becks had even been born here in the US, but grew up in Russia like Sasha had. And while Sasha spoke both languages fluently, he still thought of himself as Russian, despite his love of American baseball and television. And music, he would admit grudgingly. He harbored a secret desire to do an exhibition piece to a Lady Gaga medley. Maybe he’d be more American if their father had lived longer, but the explosion that had taken their father’s life had happened when Sasha was only a few years old. So he’d grown up more Russian than Becks had.

It didn’t stop her from calling him by his childhood name, Bucky. Because his full name wasn’t Sasha Barnes, as he was presented by the Russian Federation. His name was James Buchanan Barnes, something even he sometimes forgot. Becca had no intention of letting him forget where he’d come from, because she told him it might help him get where he was going.

As he surveyed the four bedroom apartment, and chose the bedroom that would be his (half at least, as there were two double beds), he smiled. He’d forgotten how much he liked being called Bucky, the name he’d chosen for himself when he was only three, based on his middle name, a family name that his father had insisted he carry on.

His father had still been alive then, and he’d loved the name. In an odd way, it was a connection to Papa, to the child he’d been.

Becks knew about him, of course, knew about his tastes. Knew who he was. As they did on every trip he made to New York, they’d talked long into the night during his stay, and this time she’d expressed concern that he was hurting himself by hiding who he was. He didn’t have a choice, he felt, but she kept urging him to take back control of who he was. Be who he was supposed to be.

Maybe he could, one step at a time. And maybe the first step was to take back his name. Maybe, if they were going to dominate that international stage this season, maybe it was time to retire Sasha, and become Bucky again. Maybe that was the change he needed.

Bucky Barnes, Olympic gold medalist.

It had a nice ring to it.

&&&

Chapter Text


From Tumblr
Sayresbury Watch – 2017 Training Season, We Have Ignition! Day 1!
Here we are, the first day of the new training season. Sayresbury looks great – the memorial garden is so pretty and peaceful. Standing there with all the names of skaters who’ve gone beyond, it really makes you pause and think. And hey, Darcy’s introducing a new smoothie flavor! Cranberry acai – so good!

Quad Lutz Groopie @skating_squee 3m
Smoothie? Srsly? Lame! Papaya mango ftw!

Quad Lutz Groopie @skating_squee 2m
Where r pix of steve???????


“Well, darling, the break has treated you well. Do anyone interesting while I’ve been gone?” Peggy asked cheekily as she fastened her seatbelt, then lowered the visor mirror so she could check her make-up.

“You’re gorgeous and you know it,” Steve chuckled, flicking the mirror back into position. “You don’t need to check.”

“And you didn’t answer my question.”

“Boring subject. Moving on,” Steve replied with a teasing note, but Peggy could tell the question rankled.

“You’re always going to be alone if you don’t at least try to find someone. You need to meet people who aren’t concerned about your technical score. For heaven’s sake, Steve, when was the last time you were with someone?’

“A gentleman never tells.”

“Oh, pish and posh. Every lady I know tells and gives measurements, darling. Down to the millimeter. Never know when one might be window shopping, you know?”

“You’re evil.”

“But you love me.”

“That I do. How’s Daniel?”

“And again with the subject changing. All right, I’ll let you slide today. But today only, mind. Daniel is fine. He’s glorious in fact. Would you like to hear his measurements?”

“No, Peg, I’d really rather not know. I don’t want to start thinking about Daniel that way. Or you.”

“You know, Daniel might just find you a tad bit sexy. If you were ever interested …”

“That’s it! That’s it. No more talk of my sex life. No more hints. No more quadruple entendre. I’m fine, Pegs. It’s okay to be single, y’know? I don’t need a man to define me.”

“You’re so cute when you’re full of shit, Steve. But all right, I’ll back off. Today. But tomorrow is another day, darling.”

“Yay,” Steve replied unenthusiastically.

“I only do it because I love you. I want to see you happy. So, tell me about Sam. He’s a slob, isn’t he? Leaves his socks and his drawers all over the apartment? Come on, there must be something not-perfect about him! Dish, darling!”

&&&


Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 27m
Airport sighting! Queen Margaret has arrived. Pix2follow.

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 15m
Is she fabulous?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 10m
Puh-leeze! When is she not?


Gossip burned itself out quickly, and by the time Steve finished helping Peggy bring all her belongings – he didn’t want to think about her luggage surcharges – they’d caught up on Sam’s stellar housekeeping and excellent taste in microbrews, Steve’s Mom, Daniel’s promotion, Sam’s fascination with the new Ghostbusters – all four of them – and Steve’s predictions for the new season. All that was left for them was to head toward the rink, to sign in and get their locker assignments and practice schedules.

“Richard said he’s been in touch with one of those Dancing with the Stars fellows about choreographing our free. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that. You?”

“So long as there are no jazz hands, I’m game,” Steve replied. “Be nice to put all those years of ballet, tap, and swing lessons to some use, y’know?”

She stopped cold in the parking lot and snapped her fingers. “That’s what we need!”

“What?” he demanded, stopping and coming back to her, a little concerned.

“A routine to swing music,” she replied impatiently – wasn’t he paying attention? Seriously, Steven … Then another exciting thought hit her, and she started striding toward the reception area, Steve caught up in her wake as she outlined the dizzying concepts swirling in her head. “Or – I know! Glenn Miller. You in your Captain’s uniform, me in my WAAF uniform and my Victory Roll – it will be glorious. Ooh! And I know just the song –“ she interrupted herself, pulling out her phone and drawing up her playlist. She held out the phone and he could hear the rat-a-tat of a staccato drumline segueing into an upbeat horn section. “We start out at opposite ends of the rink and step sequence toward each other into mirrored Ina Bauers, then fast stroke, right into a combination spin. And there’s a wonderful percussion section that would make for a fabulous choreographed sequence. American Patrol it’s called. Oh, we’d have to pad it with something else from the catalogue to hit the right duration, but don’t you think it would be perfect, darling?”

“Yeah. Perfect,” Steve replied in a low, breathy voice.

She glanced up to find him staring toward the snack bar, where Darcy Lewis, resident majordomo of the center, was chatting with a really lovely looking young man with longish dark hair, with the most well-defined and powerful looking thighs Peggy had ever seen in the sport. He was laughing at something that Darcy said.

And Steve was utterly entranced.

Peggy smiled to herself.

It was good to have a hobby.

&&&


Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 45m
Russians r here repeat Russians r here!

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 43m
Video stat

Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 31m
Sasha barnes is 2 pretty 2 live smol bean pretty eyes my baby

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 30m
I will fight u


Darcy thought the new guy was totally the bees’ knees. He was completely gorgeous, super nice, wildly flirty, and she’d bet her last magical fireball and orc killer that he was gay as fuck, because damn, girl, no one that pretty is hetero. And the fantasies that were already germinating looking at those hands and those leather gloves? Put a riding crop in one, and a length of silk, and Darcy was set for the year. He was one of the Russians training at the center over the summer, and double dayum, was he hot.

He also had outstanding taste in concession food, and was cheerfully – not to mention sexily – wolfing down one of her super special hot dog combos, and boy, did she want to follow the trail that relish just took down his perfectly sculpted pecs, or what? He scooped it up with a finger and shoved it in his mouth with a grin, and didn’t that just set the old fantasy machine whirling?

She glanced toward the entryway to see Peggy Carter – looking fab as always – and her droolworthy partner, Steve Rogers, coming into the reception area and heading toward Darcy’s pride and joy, the Twice as Nice Ice Shack.

There was lots of speculation about Steve – he was always unfailingly nice, every bit as superhot as Mr. Russian McHottie here, and never, ever dated. Like, he was religiously opposed to dating or something. He was the epitome of every nice boy on 1950s TV shown on cable. That and his all-American good looks had earned him the nickname “Captain America.” All he needed was a phone booth and a cape, and he’d have the perfect cliché. Everyone at the rink knew that Peggy had a boyfriend in reserve, and she and Steve were definitely not a thing, no matter what the fangirls and boys wanted to think.

So America – i.e., Darcy Lewis – wanted to know! Which direction did Steve Rogers swing?

But looking at how Captain America himself was frozen in place, pearly whites gleaming as he stood there with his mouth hanging open (and was that drool trailing down his chin?), Darcy was pretty sure she had his number. And the direction of his swing. And the potential trajectory.

And one look at Peggy Carter, smirking at her partner, then glancing knowingly at Comrade Gorgeous, Darcy knew what she was going to be doing this summer. She caught Peggy’s eye, and winked, earning her a smiling nod back.

Oh, yeah. This was gonna be fun.

&&&


Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 21m
Overheard Steggy LP Glenn Miller!!!!

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 45m
I can die now

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 46m
Ikr?


“Darcy, darling!” Peggy greeted effusively, snagging Steve’s wrist and dragging him toward the snack bar. And Darcy. And that delicious looking brunette. “Introduce your friend?” she prompted coquettishly. Which, anyone who knew Pegs knew that was an act to get whoever her prey was to let their guard down.

Steve groaned inwardly. He knew where this was going. Pegs’s gaydar was on high alert, and she was determined to pair Steve off before he ended up a bitter old man with a mottled bald head, a daytime drinking problem, and a life full of regrets.

And wow, that was way more specific than Steve was going for. Nervously, he dragged his hand through his thick, luxurious, very much still there, thank you very much, hair.

Steve wasn’t a vain kinda guy. Except for his hair. When it came to his hair, he babied it, he lavished the right product on it, he styled it, and he cared for it better than he did his skates. The idea of being bald, bitter or no, was enough to make him start the daytime drinking early.

So, follicles, all in order? Check. Looking fabulous? Check. Confidence mode, engaged? Not checked. He found his mouth going dry and his eyes practically crossing when he looked at the gorgeous man talking with Darcy.

And apparently, his hearing was affected as well, because he felt Peggy’s very pointed, very bony, very frigging muscular elbow grinding in between his floating ribs.

“Right, Steve, darling?”

“Huh?”

Eloquent, sure. Smooth, sure. In your fucking dreams, Rogers.

“I’d say it was jet lag from flying in from the UK, but oh, that was me, not you. Darcy was just introducing us to Sasha here. He’s with the Russian delegation, they’re training here for the summer.”

“Oh, um, hi, welcome to America –“

“I have American citizenship,” Gorgeous interrupted him, his voice syrupy smooth and every bit as delicious as the rest of him. “My Dad was American. My sister lives in Brooklyn.”

“Oh. Oh? Brooklyn? That’s where I’m from. So … you’re a New Yorker skating for Russia?” Steve cringed at the way his voice went up at the end, but the idea of being from Brooklyn and skating for anyone but the US was just … wow. It was just weird, was what it was.

“I’m a Russian with a sister who lives in New York,” Gorgeous, er, Sasha replied, without a trace of accent. “My Dad was from Indiana. My Mama is from St. Petersburg.” He paused for a moment to let that sink in, then added, “Now you.”

“Huh?”

He smirked. Full on smirked. The sexy smirk of doom. Geeze, Steve had only been in the guy’s presence was? 90 seconds? And he was already planning a bachelor party in his head.

“Now you. You tell me something about you. Isn’t that the way conversation works in this country? Or is that a Russian thing?”

“I, ah –“

“College-educated?”

“Art therapy major.”

“He can speak!”

“You’re kind of a jerk, aren’t you, Sasha?”

Sasha shrugged. “You’re kind of a punk, aren’t you, Stevie?”

Okay, that was uncalled for. And the nickname just kinda went to Steve’s dick, to be honest. And he didn’t know if this unbelievably hot and obnoxious guy was gay, straight, poly, or ace. Or anything else in between. He just knew he was the most beautiful man he’d ever seen, and that devilish smirk was inspiring all manner of inappropriate images to form in his head.

So, of course, he had to respond with, “I, uh –“

The smirk fell away as the eyebrow climbed. “Art therapy, huh? Good thing it’s not speech therapy. Hey, I gotta get to the team meeting. But maybe we can do this again sometime, huh? Unless you’ve got a quota.”

“Quota?”

“Quota of words you can speak in a day. You know, to hold an actual conversation? Maybe we can try that next time?”

“There’s gonna be a next time?”

“I’m here all summer. Looking to pick up a different perspective to perfect our skills. There’s gold in our future.”

“Our future?”

“Natasha’s and mine. We’re taking gold at the Olympics.”

“Ice dance.”

“Pairs.”

Well, fuck.

“Us, too.”

“You two?”

“Pegs and me. Carter and Rogers. US silver medalists. Fifth place at Worlds. We’ve got our eye on the top step in Pyeongchang.”

“Romanova and Barnes. Not if we get there first.” Sasha turned to go, and Steve didn’t want him to leave.

“I’ll see you in my rearview, pal,” he said, louder than he needed to.

“Rearview,” Sasha repeated dubiously, frowning as he turned back toward Steve. In fact, he looked downright uncomfortable, and Steve wondered what he’d said that caused the easy … flirting? No. Easy joking, that was it. Joking. He wondered what he’d said to kill the joking atmosphere.

“Rear-view mirror,” Peggy explained patiently. He’d almost forgotten she was there, as she laid her palm against his chest and stepped forward slightly, almost inserting herself between them. Steve watched Sasha’s eyes track the movement, a frown flashing across his beautiful features before it smoothed out as though it had never been. “You know, that mirror thingie that hangs down off the windscreen so you can see behind you?”

“Ah. Yes. Idiom. Sometimes I’m not as up to date. Being from Russia.”

“Dude, you flattened Steve-o here, you’re doin’ fine!” Darcy interjected with a wicked grin and a pop of her bubblegum bubble. “I like him! He’s gonna fit right in. Friday night, O’Malley’s – the staff and a lot of the skaters go over for beers and wings. And if we can get ‘im drunk enough, Steve’ll do karaoke.”

“I do not do karaoke,” Steve insisted, crossing his arms across his chest, dislodging Peg’s hand. She turned at him and made a face, crossing her eyes and warping her mouth ridiculously. He just shook his head. The side of her the internet would never know – Peggy Carter was a five year old freakazoid.

Darcy whipped out her phone and with a few passes of her thumb, located a video and displayed it proudly. Sure enough, it was drunk Steve, doing karaoke, after they’d missed the cut on the Grand Prix final. Sasha waved the phone over with two imperious, leather-clad fingers, and Darcy handed it over with an evil grin and a delighted little wriggle.

Leather. Steve stole a glance, and yeah, Gorgeous Sasha was wearing black leather gloves on both hands. He felt a shiver going down his spine that had nothing to do with temperature, but damn, it was starting to feel hot in there.

“You can sing. But you lack performance. That is why you will be on the lower step looking up at me.”

And hell, if that didn’t conjure an image for Steve, he’d have to turn in his gay card. He just looked at Sasha, feeling his own eyebrow collide with his hairline. His perfect, never going to recede, totally on point, hairline.

Sasha answered his eyebrow, and raised him a tilt of the head, but he ruined it – depending on your perspective – by suddenly realizing how suggestive his statement had been, and a dusky rose stain spread across his features and down his neck, and Steve had to fight back the urge to follow it with his tongue. His left hand, clad oddly in one of those leather gloves, shot up, index finger pointing ceiling-ward, and he announced, “Team meeting. Later.” And then he spun on his heel and disappeared down the ramp toward the small conference area attached to the rink.

And Steve got his first glimpse of an ass that was worth writing poetry to, stretching into thick, powerful thighs that could choke off his air while he … oh my God, get your mind out of the gutter, Steve!

Darcy buffed her nails on the t-shirt stretched tight over her ample bosom. Yes, Steve could think ”bosom” in the privacy of his own head, which was currently spinning with an onslaught of hormones and endorphins. “Yep, that’s Sasha, all right. Pretty cute, huh?”

“Hmm,” was all Pegs would say, but from where he stood, Steve could feel her judging him.

So hard.

&&&

Chapter Text


Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 22m
Sasha Barnes hair is better than Steve Rogers.

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 21m
I will cut u biyatch

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 20m
Play nice both pretty

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 19m
Long hair or did he cut

Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 18m
Glorious locks to latch onto

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 17m
ur killing me PIX!!!!!


Sasha – No, he had to start thinking of himself as Bucky again if he wanted to reclaim the name – Bucky opened the door to the hallway to the conference rooms where he was meeting the with the rest of the team and their assorted coaches, and flattened himself against the wall, covered his face with his hands, feeling the leather drag at his face, and slid down the wall until he was sitting on his heels. He groaned to himself, rocking back and forth.

So of course, that was when Natasha came into the hallway and found him having a complete and total breakdown over an impossibly cute guy who was his fucking competitor for gold at the Olympics, for God’s sake.

Who was definitely straight, considering the amazing woman with him and her possessive grab at his glorious, impossibly defined, and eminently lickable pecs. God, he could practically taste that little nub against his tongue –

“Sasha?” Natasha asked softly, dropping to her knees and sliding a gentle hand up his thigh. “Kotik, what’s wrong?”

“I am doooooomed,” he moaned theatrically. He knew he was being a total drama queen, but, hell, he was gay and Natasha knew it. Being a drama queen was expected and encouraged. At least once in while. Plus, he was Russian and a figure skater – drama was part of the package.

“And why are you doomed today, of all days?”

“Because I have met the most perfect man, and he is straight, unintelligible, and a direct competitor.”

“Ah. Steve Rogers?”

“How did you know?”

“Because he is totally your type. I heard about him when I met Darcy earlier. She was giving the dish on all the eligible boys.”

“Eligible and straight boys.”

Eligible boys. She didn’t say their preferences. Apparently the jury is out on Steve Rogers.”

“But his partner –“

“Is no more his lover than I am yours.”

“Oh. Oh? Oooooh.”

“Precisely. Now, would you please pick your ass up off the floor so I can get out of this uncomfortable crouch? Misha is already in the boardroom, and the others have been wandering in. Sooner we get through this meeting, the sooner we can start warming up.”

&&&


Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 3h
Russian team arrive by bus

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 2m
Stalk it!!!!!


Natasha led Sasha – Bucky – to the conference room, and they staked out seats in the far corner of the room, where the wall was at their backs, and they had full view of all who entered. Today’s meeting was just to go over the facility rules, the ride schedule, and various other administrative items. They would go over the rink schedules with their respective coaches to settle on practice times.

There was Irina and Maya, the two top Russian ladies. They were good friends off the ice, but fierce competitors on. The battle for who took last position in any given competition was always fun to watch, because whichever one of them skated last inevitably upped the ante with additional complexities thrown in, sometimes jumps to gain higher points, sometimes other elements. Sometimes it paid off, sometimes it resulted in lost scores when jumps failed or skates crossed the wrong way, and some body part hit the ice. Once they both got off the ice, they went back to being sweet friends, each congratulating the other, supporting the loser and celebrating the winner. They were always on a teeter-totter at the top of the leader board at home, and often abroad. Guessing their podium positions was a favorite drinking game among the team, and no one came away sober.

Ah, the dancers. Elena glided in like the prima ballerina she was not, while her long-suffering partner Evgeny slouched in behind her. Bucky didn’t understand how they were still together after so many years. Elena was a screeching banshee who admittedly made beautiful shapes on the ice, and Evgeny was a powerful, if a bit dull, skater who was strong enough to lift, toss, and hold her in those interesting shapes. They did well in their competitions, and had steadfastly held spots on the podium of every competition they’d entered in the past five years. But Evgeny was never happy, looking like he was just enduring the abuse Elena piled on him until the day of his release. What day would that be, Bucky wondered? Olympic gold? Or his death by partner? Ugh. That would be a grisly end. And he worried that if it was Olympic gold, Elena might just choose to eat him alive once the gold was around her neck. Bucky shuddered inwardly.

While Elena and Evgeny were steady and reliable on ice, if volatile and incendiary off, one of the other dance pairs, young Elizabeta and Gregor, were a soufflé. Lovely to watch, exhilarating in their inventiveness and courage, but inconsistent and as prone to dizzying success as they were heartbreaking failure. They aimed high, and often missed the mark, but they didn’t let that stop them from continuing to aspire. They were really very sweet, and Gregor was scrumptious. Bucky often wondered if he might not be gay, too, but was not keen to broach the subject and potentially out himself to the delegation. Because if he was not, things could get very awkward, very fast. Possibly even violent, or if he really pressed it, Bucky could find himself on the wrong end of an interrogation, and possibly incarceration.

Yes, the Americans today, even with their new president, did not realize how good they had it in many ways. Russia had all but militarized its anti-LGBT stance. Americans had the law on their side, even as hate groups sought to undo the Constitution freedoms. Some of the more conservative groups seemed to be championing the Russian response as a model for the US, but they had so much law and sentiment to break through, it was unlikely the US would ever devolve to the current Russian climate.

Either way, it just wasn’t a good time to be thinking of coming out.

Even if Steve Rogers were gay.

Perhaps especially if Steve Rogers were gay.

Bucky pinched his lower lip between his thumb and forefinger, and leaned back in his chair a little more. He continued to survey his teammates as they arrived and took seats around the big conference table. This would be one of the few times they were all in the same room together – they all had different coaches, different practice schedules, even their curfews might be different, based on age or tenure with the team, past behavior.

The third dance team was older, having weathered two Olympic teams, a multitude of Worlds and Nationals, and quite a few Grand Prix events. Viktoria and Aleksandr. They could be kind of avant garde, which meant they had a small but ravening fanbase, a group of skating fans who worshipped everything they did, and could be spurred to attack anyone who critiqued or otherwise didn’t like something about them. The fanbase was global in nature, and he would be very surprised if some of them didn’t find their way rinkside to Sayresbury. And soon.

Well, that would be fun. Not.

The other pairs team – a year or two longer in the top seed versus Natasha and him – came in next, trailed by their coach. Ekaterina and Alexei. She was a tiny little thing, even smaller than Natasha, while he was a hulking brute of a man. His exterior belied a gentle and kind soul, who worshipped his wife of five years, and his two children. Bucky knew that Alexei wanted nothing more than to complete his career so he could go home and coach little kids at the local rink, and be there to watch his children grow. Like Bucky, Alexei stayed on the circuit to support his partner. Ekaterina had started out as a singles skater, but she’d never been able to break into the top tier. When her coach suggested pairs, she’d given it a try, and with Alexei, she’d found a little magic. Hopefully not so much that there wasn’t any left for him and Natasha, but he hated to begrudge anyone a little happiness. He had no idea what Ekaterina’s plans were after the ice, but he knew she simply glowed when she set pick to ice and launched herself across the glass-smooth surface.

Finally, the single men came in. The bus must have been organized by category, for heaven’s sake! He was glad they’d gotten a ride over with Misha in his rental car, but that luxury wasn’t going to last long, he knew. Once the training season got seriously underway, Misha would stay later at the rink, dealing with paperwork and strategy. But Bucky also suspected that once the season was underway, Misha enjoyed his alone time, and spent time away from them just to keep his sanity.

Anyway, the men’s team consisted of Illya Dobrin, the current Russian national champion who’d won only because the previous five-time Russian champion, two-time Olympic medalist, five-time GPF champion, five-time World champion, Victor Nikiforov, had withdrawn from competition last season.

Next up was Yuri Plisetsky, who’d won Junior Worlds, then burst onto the Senior scene with a short choreographed by said Victor Nikiforov, taking him to a Gold at GPF and bronze at Worlds. He was young, explosive, and full of surprises. He also had a foul mouth and an usual fondness for kittens, often sneaking them into practices in his jacket. Yuri and Victor had shared the same coach, Yakov Feltsman, and had trained at the same rink as he and Natasha. In fact, Misha and Yakov worked well together, and often collaborated on new choreography for their skaters. All that changed last season when Victor simply left competition and Russia, although Bucky didn’t know much after that. If it wasn’t pairs and in Russia, he generally wasn’t interested in skating gossip, quite unlike Natasha, who lived and breathed it – practically used it like currency.

So she wasn’t surprised when Victor walked in behind Yuri and Yakov, accompanied by a really quite attractive young Japanese man … wasn’t he a Yuri, too? Or something along those lines?

“Victor, I shouldn’t be here – I’m not part of the team –“ the young man said, pulling back from the others. And that’s when it happened.

Bucky could feel Natasha’s gaze intent upon him, but he had no idea why until Victor’s hand slid into Yuri’s, tugging him into the room, and Victor placed a soft kiss upon his cheek, murmuring to him as he did so.

So, Victor Nikiforov, god of the ice, was gay?

And everyone was okay with that?

Yakov cleared his throat gruffly. “Everyone, you remember Victor Nikiforov. He’s come to his senses and is returning to the ice this season. Some of you may know Yuri Katsuki – Victor coached him last season to a silver medal at the Grand Prix Final, and silver at Worlds. He will be coaching him again this season, in partnership with me. That is why Yuri is with us, and why he will be training with us.”

“He’s also my fiancé. I don’t go anywhere without him. And he doesn’t go anywhere without me,” Victor announced with a big ass grin as he plunked himself into his seat. Yuri smacked his hand over his face, groaning, and took his seat tentatively, waving weakly at the assembled team. His face burned with a blush, but next to him, Victor was beaming like a proud papa, and wrapped his arm around the younger man’s shoulders, squeezing enthusiastically. Katsuki smiled weakly, but Bucky thought he could see real affection there, too. He felt a phantom pain skate across his heart then, wanting what they had, yet feeling like he’d never have it. Across from them, Plisetsky looked like he was about to spit nails. Or his tail was going to puff up in anger. Or he’d explode. Anyone of those would do.

Bucky leaned over to Misha and hooked a thumb toward the pair, his eyebrow raised questioningly.

“When you are a two-time Olympic medalist, five-time National champion, five-time World champion, with a room full of international medals, you can get away with dragging your boyfriend to team meetings. Hell, give me one gold medal, and I’ll think about it.”

“Does a Grand Prix event count?” Natasha asked softly.

Bucky turned to glare at her, but she just shrugged. “What? I’m negotiating here. You should be grateful.”

“Negotiating what?”

“Conjugal rights.”

“Oh, for – pffft. Shut up, Nat!”

“This sounds like something we should discuss in private, hmmm?” Misha prompted, nodding toward the other skaters. Poor Katsuki looked very uncomfortable, but Victor was as oblivious as ever. Little Plisetsky was practically hissing and Bucky half-expected him to start clawing at Victor’s face. Bucky wondered if he only had two settings, pissed off, and more pissed off.

Bucky shook his head, chuckling under his breath. Plisetsky was a gifted skater, but he was also hilarious to watch. When his growth spurt hit him, he might put Plushenko to shame, but in the meantime, he really did resemble a small, blonde rage kitten.

“Yeah, so when can we have that discussion, hmm?” Bucky asked, turning back to Misha and leaning on his forearms on the table.

Misha straightened, and looked at Bucky like he was seeing him for the first time. “You’ve met someone.” Not a question, but a statement. Bucky felt something tighten in his gut. Had he?

“I didn’t say that,” Bucky replied doubtfully, just as Natasha was nodding her head in an overly exaggerated way.

Misha glanced toward where Nikiforov unabashedly mooned over his fiancé, and frowned. “Tonight is the team dinner. Not a good time for such a discussion. Let me talk to Yakov first.”

“I don’t want him to know – that is, my business is none of his business –“

“He’s the senior coach for the delegation. He’s got his own problems to deal with regarding Victor. His guidance will be valuable. Now, is there anything else you want to drop on me today, or have you had enough fun for one day?”

“I want to change my name,” Bucky blurted, and Natasha nearly did a spit-take.

“What?”

“I want to change my name. To the name my family calls me.”

“And that is?”

“Bucky,” Natasha said softly. “Rebecca calls you that.”

“My mother, too. It’s a nickname based on my middle name. Sasha isn’t my name – my first name is James. My middle name is Buchanan. Bucky is my name.”

“I know that Sasha isn’t your legal name, but it’s a name the Russian public knows and loves. Why the sudden change?”

“Being here in the US, the country of my father … my sister reminded me that I am his son as well as Russia’s. He loved calling me Bucky.”

“I see. Well, there’ll be paperwork. We’ll need to update your documents with the ISU. But that shouldn’t be too difficult. And that’s a good story – how much of it is true?”

“All of it.”

“Well then, practice your sniffle and brush at your face like you’re shedding a tear, and you’ve got your color package for the season.” He nodded toward the white board, and team coordinator who’d finally joined them – probably checking the bus over to make sure nobody left anything behind. The meeting was about to start, and Misha gave him an expectant, almost annoyed but not quite look. “Anything else?”

“That’ll do for now,” Bucky replied with a grin, and settled back into his seat. He felt a weight lifted that he’d never really acknowledged before. Maybe Becks was right – taking back his name felt good, felt right. Felt liberating. Maybe it really was the first step to reclaiming himself.

Setting himself free.

&&&

Chapter Text


Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 57m
Where r pix? Need my Steeb fix!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 45m
Sk8ers all in closed practices this pm

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 44m
Will hide in bushes 2 get candids 2nite

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 43m
UR my queen!!!


Steve didn’t see Sasha again for the rest of the morning, as Richard Moynihan, their coach for the past ten years, kept them busy with backseat quarterbacking their 2016-2017 season. He’d scheduled them in a practice room overlooking one of the practice rinks, one with room-wide, floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the rink on the level below, a floor padded with thick mats to take the sting out of inevitable falls, and simple enough tech that even Richard could figure out how to hook up his tablet so they could watch their performances from the previous season on a big screen.

Throughout the complex, there were several practice rooms, a ballet studio, and several practice rinks. There was also a public rink, and the Olympic rink, a full size rink with seating, where the center hosted an invitational, and several galas each year.

They settled onto the comfortable mat, sprawled out to watch their Worlds performance. And then again, so Richard could go over where they’d been weak and where they’d been strong. That led to an animated exchange trying to tease out what was working for them, and what they needed to work on in order to be competitive in this Olympic season, and what they’d like to do artistically. Everyone was going to bring their A game to the ice. Theirs just had to be A plus, and then some.

The morning passed quickly with viewing, arguing, testing, rinse, shampoo, repeat. They didn’t break much for lunch, since Darcy delivered sandwiches, chips, and sodas from the snack bar, and just ate their meals where they were currently camped on the padded floor.

Steve had become so inured to Darcy’s flirting over the years, he didn’t even look up when she handed him his to-go box and a ration of shit. Darcy flirted with everyone – it was part of her persona and part of her charm. It worked surprisingly well with shy skaters, people who were uncomfortable around others.

But when she asked him when he was going to ask Sasha out for a drink, Steve paused, staring at the floor. It was Richard who came to the rescue, announcing that he wanted to talk with Darcy about stocking some sports nutrition supplements. She barely had the chance to sputter before he had his arm around her slender shoulders and had guided her out the door and down the hallway, the door to the practice room snicking shut behind him.

“Why is everyone so invested in my love life?” Steve asked quietly, still looking down, toying with a potato chip.

“Because we care, Steve. And Darcy means well, you know it’s true,” Peggy said sincerely, rubbing her knuckles gently over his. When he didn’t look up, she reached over and pinched his chin, lifting his face. “We all do. Maybe it’s time that you stopped caring about what other people think, and just let yourself have some happiness, Steve.”

“Peg! It’s an Olympic year. I don’t have time for romance –“

“Well, that’s where you’re wrong, my friend. Having someone in your life in a stressful time like this year promises to be – I know we’re apart a lot of the year, but I don’t know what I’d do without Daniel. He helps me … he helps me be the best me I can be. And I like to think I do the same for him,” she asserted, leaning forward. “I know you’re not looking for casual. But why not just try the waters, see what’s to be seen? Who cares if the fans know you’re gay? The barriers have already been broken by Galindo, Weir, so many others. Nikiforov. We’re popular enough that you could be a good example to kids who are questioning Steve. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing, coming out.”

“No. I just … I’ll think about it, okay? Just … give me time.”

“There’s my boy,” she replied, grinning widely.

&&&


Everything on Ice is Luv @iceicebaby 2h
Rumor ice god victor in sayrsbry – true false?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 2h
True whole delegation here so much pretteh

Everything on Ice is Luv @iceicebaby 2h
Fiancé?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 2h*

Katsuki Yuri is here so cute so smol so precious

Everything on Ice is Luv @iceicebaby 2h
Victuri gives me life

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 2h
Feel ya


Later in the afternoon, there was a flurry of activity, and the rink beyond their practice room was suddenly full of skaters from the Russian Federation, men, women, dancers, and the pairs teams. The ice was crowded like a public session, and for the most part, the skaters just skated around the rink, stroking and acclimating to the local ice. They could hear the chatter and the laughter as the skaters jostled, raced, or simply stroked quietly. A couple would move into the center to try out a spin, or a simple jump, but for the most part, the session looked more recreational than it did actual training.

“Looks like a team building exercise,” Richard commented, jutting his chin toward the ice beyond the floor to ceiling windows. “Makes sense – in Russia, they all train at different facilities, wherever their coaches call home base, just like we do here. If the entire US team had to suddenly train together, it’d be chaos.”

“So, they’re not used to sharing resources,” Peggy guessed.

“Or quarters. You kids are lucky you have private housing. They’re all sharing apartments, two to a room.”

“We kids, as you call us, are grown ass adults, Richard. Mama needs her ‘me time,’ and we’re all hoping that Steve here gets laid soon.”

“Peg! We just talked about this!”

“I know. And I told you that all of your friends want the best for you, darling. And if the best is from Russia with love, well, so be it.”

Richard chuckled. “Barnes, huh?”

Steve spluttered disbelievingly. “What the hell? Why does everyone assume –“

“Steve, I’m straight – ish,” Richard grinned, “and I can see that boy is attractive. And talented. Romanova and Barnes are a strong team, you could do worse than to keep an eye on them. Rivals and all,” he added with a sly grin and a side eye toward Steve. “And Darcy wouldn’t shut up about what a cute power couple the pair of you would make.”

“Yeah, yeah, let’s get back to work,” Steve replied, turning away from the window to snag the towel he’d tossed on the mat. “Let’s try the entrance on that platter lift again.”

“You just want to make sure he sees your best side, Steve,” Peggy commented, ducking her head to grin toward her reflection.

Steve glanced over his shoulder. “And what side would that be?”

“Your ass, of course.”

Richard chuckled under his breath as he walked away from the window, going to the far corner to review some things on his tablet, as Peggy dropped to a crouch so Steve’s towel went flying over her head, hitting the glass with a loud thump.

The sound of impact caught the attention of the skaters on the ice, and Peggy watched as Sasha and his partner skated to a stop at the rink wall directly facing the practice room. She rose slowly and waggled her fingers at them in a wave, grinning cheekily as Steve started on stretches to warm up for the lift. She was gratified by the sudden wide-eyed, slack-jawed expression on Barnes’s face as Steve went through his moves, bending over and providing a truly spectacular view of his gluteus maximus. She grinned, and jerked her head in Steve’s direction, giving Barnes a thumb’s up, just as his partner smacked him on the arm, laughing. A moment later, they were joined by other members of the Russian delegation, all of them intent on oblivious Steve and his magical muscle display. Barnes seemed to relax when he glanced around and saw so many of his peers ogling Steve just as avidly as he was.

But not before he’d revealed his very obvious interest. Interest that Peggy was very happy to see, but she wasn’t surprised to see him glance up at her worriedly. She smiled, holding one hand over her heart, and lifting the other, palm outward, a universal sign of trust. He grinned at her then, a bright, sun-drenched smile that crinkled around his eyes and made his face look young and carefree.

She couldn’t help herself. She had to giggle.

“Pegs, c’mon, stop goofin’ off,” Steve complained, turning then to see the crowd massed at the rink wall. He stood frozen in place, mouth hanging open, eyes wide with sudden terror.

“Told you so,” she chuckled, turning so she could snag him by his bicep to pull him over to the window.

There was a shocked moment of communal embarrassment, the entire Russian delegation glowing red enough to be a beacon to space invaders. Everyone, that is, with the exception of Barnes’s partner and – oh! Victor Nikiforov was back on the ice, how delightful. The very cute, surprisingly red Japanese man next to him hadn’t fared so well.

But they were nothing compared to Steve’s good old fashioned Irish blush.

And suddenly, the entire crowd dispersed like a dandelion caught in a breeze, scattering willy-nilly across the ice, all – again, except for Barnes’s partner and Victor – looking very intent on being busy, very, very busy, elsewhere.

Peggy couldn’t contain the chuckle that bubbled up her throat, although she did have the good manners to cover it with a delicate hand over her mouth. Just barely.

“Were they all watching me stretch?” he croaked out, staring at the empty spot where they’d all been clustered.

“Mmm-hmmm. Yes, he did. And he liked what he saw. Now, stop this dilly-dallying! Let’s get to work!”

&&&


Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 38m
puppy pile in rink b russians r really cranky fuzzballs

SailorSk8er @cosplayonice 27m
pandas?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 25m
puppy-pandas


The rest of the day went smoothly, with Richard running them through moves that hadn’t been as polished the previous season – only weeks before – as they could have been. Lifts, spins, jumps, and footwork that all needed to be pristine in their Olympic year.

Finally, Richard was satisfied for their first day back at it. Which meant he wasn’t really satisfied at all, but he was realistic about what their bodies could take. So he gave each of them a list of body areas they needed to strengthen in the coming weeks. Steve’s issues were less strength and more flexibility, so of course Peggy waggled her eyebrows at him and suggested that maybe Barnes could help him out there.

“Knock it off, Pegs. Seriously, I’m not looking for a boyfriend. And besides … he’s straight.”

“Oh, dear. Steven, you have the worst gaydar on the planet. So bad, I’d say it’s broken. If that beautiful boy is straight, I’m Prince William. And won’t that be a surprise to Daniel, hmm? Not to mention Kate!”

“Pegs –“ he shook his head, taking a step back from her to put space between them.

She wasn’t having any of it, and she closed the distance again, putting her hands on his forearms, letting them trail down to take his hands in hers. “He’s interested. You’re interested. All you have to do is talk to him, Steven. Strike up a conversation – talk about something you care about. Art, baseball, side by side triple axels. You’re normally a fairly not terrible conversationalist, after all.”

“Yeah, I really demonstrated my social skills and wowed him earlier, didn’t I?” he stared at his socked feet.

Her hand automatically lifted to raise up his chin so he’d look directly at her. “Oh, darling, is that what you’re worried about?” He shrugged. She smiled in response. “Trust me, it just makes you more intriguing. Big, handsome chap like you tripping over his own tongue – it’s endearing, like that over-large puppy who drools all over you when you visit your Great Aunt Maude.”

The pained and panicked expression that Steve shot her then caused her to bark out a laugh, which she quickly quelled behind a clenched fist to her lips. “Sorry. You don’t drool, Steve, trust me. But I thought he might, looking at you stretching. And Great Aunt Maude adored you when you came calling last year after 4CC. Tell you what, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. But tomorrow night, at O’Malley’s, I expect serenading. You have a lovely voice, and you can sing for me. Show off a little. Or, you could put something together to seduce our friendly neighborhood Russian hunk –“

Steve practically gave himself a concussion, he was sputtering and flailing so much. “I’m not doing karaoke, Pegs! I hate karaoke! It was one time, and I was drunk off my ass –“

“You were stone cold sober, and you know it. You just don’t want people to think you’re, I dunno, less than in some fashion. Stereotypically gay. Straight men sing, too, you know. Probably just as many badly as well, too. Daniel’s got a lovely voice, and he kills it at the pub.” She grinned engagingly at him. “You’re driving yourself to an early grave, Steve, all this rot about not being a cliché, and not letting the world know just how gloriously gay you are. How gloriously you you are. You’ve never had a proper boyfriend. I’m betting you’ve never had a proper snog, either. We’re your family at the center – do you think there’s anyone here who’d call up ESPN or live tweet about your sexuality? Maybe one of the fans, but none of the team, none of the staff. You choose to stay in the closet. Where that boy comes from? It’s illegal for him to even know a closet exists. And if he’s willing to take a chance … don’t you think you owe the both of you at least that?”

“You seem awfully sure, Peg. You’ve never nagged me like this before. And we just met him this morning!”

“I know. I don’t know exactly why, but I have a good feeling about this. About him. You. Together. You know that Daniel is going to propose sometime this year. And we’re going to get married after the Olympics.”

“He’s told you this?”

“I know how his mind works,” she shrugged. “But, what I mean to say is … I think this is likely to be my last season. I want the run at the Olympics, and I want a shot. I want to enjoy this year and suck the marrow out of its bones. And it would be all the richer if I knew you were happy, Steve. And I don’t want to leave you alone when our partnership is done. So … try? For me?”

“You play dirty, Carter.”

“I play to win. And that’s what we’re gonna do, Rogers. Carter and Rogers for the win. With a little … mmm … Stucky? On the side?”

“Ugh. Rogers and Barnes, if anything. Maybe. If I sing tomorrow night, you promise to let it go?”

“I can make no assertions until the moment, my dear. But I’ll think about it.”

“That’s the best I’m gonna get, isn’t it?”

“That’s my boy,” she replied with a wide smile, patting his cheek affectionately. “Now, I’m starving. Where are you taking me to dinner?”

&&&

Chapter Text


From Tumblr
Sayresbury Watch – 2017 Training Season, Day 2!*
Everybody is settling in and getting up to speed here at the center. Beautiful skaters as far as the eye can see! Check out the pix from yesterday’s group skate with the Russian team – like herding cats! Look for more later as skaters get down to business on the road to Pyeongchang!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 1h
Morning sucks In other news sgr looks graet in tight cotton

Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 45m
He stopped & talked to us!!!! Selfied! I can die happy!

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 43m
Pic or it dint happn!

Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 40m
[selfie of Steve smiling alongside young woman]
Our wedding pic

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 38m*
Jelly


Friday dawned bright and clear, with Steve getting up at, as Sam called it, “ass o’clock” so he could get to the center, take a run, grab a shower, and be ready to take on the day by the time that Sharon dropped Peggy off on her way to work.

Steve thought that by arriving early at the center, he could avoid the phalanx of Steggy fans that would stalk them over the summer, but there were already two or three hardy souls lounging around the memorial garden when he arrived, and a couple more hanging out at the snack bar inside. As he parked his car and pocketed his keys, he debated on whether the correct course of action was a head-on assault, or a tactical retreat, as the two fans in the garden spied him. One was a very cute, very androgynous person with a “Steggy is my Spirit Animal” t-shirt, short shorts, and long shapely legs, while the other was equally adorable in a Lilo and Stitch sundress, sweet little Mary Janes and ankle socks, and a bouncy ponytail massed at the crown of her head – she was going full retro. They didn’t seem scary, and smiled at him, waving shyly.

He decided that since he was going to be here all summer and into the full season, and this was a public facility in addition to being an ISU-recognized international training facility, he was better off starting out with a good relationship with the local fans. So, he took a deep breath, smoothed down his skin-tight t-shirt, and smiled and waved back, deliberately walking over to engage with them.

He pretended he didn’t see the micro-happy dance, or hear the very audible squee that they shared, and instead focused on being open and friendly. Game face.

It didn’t take long for him to find himself surrounded by fans of all shapes and sizes (where the hell did they all come from?), being asked for selfies, signatures, the state of Peggy’s health, his plans for the Olympic year, was he bothered about the Russians taking over Sayresbury, and about a thousand other questions that tumbled over him in a chaotic rush.

Finally, he had to hold up his hands in surrender, and announce that he really couldn’t say any more without some caffeine in his system, and some time to prepare before he began his morning regimen.

“Well, how can you practice without Peggy?” one of the younger fans asked.

“It’s not all specifically practice,” he answered easily. “Being a skater means a lot of different disciplines to build strength, endurance, flexibility. Most of that I do on my own, while Pegs has her own fitness plan that she follows. When we come together, we’ve already been working on all the physical and mental elements we need to make us a stronger pairs team.”

“Can we watch?” a small, timid voice asked, and was answered by an eruption of excited chatter.

Okay. Well, this was starting to escalate, and he realized he needed to set some ground rules, or his Olympic year would be a waste. He took a moment to look like he was thinking about it, and then he shook his head sadly. “No, I’m sorry. Makes me self-conscious to have people watch me sweat. And this early in the season, we’re just kinda feeling our way, figuring out what we want to do. I need to focus, and, um, conserve my energy so I peak at the right time each day,” he told them, mentally high-fiving himself for coming up with something that sounded at least hand-wavingly plausible.

“When’s that?”

“Well,” he delayed, searching his mind for a good response. Ah, got one! “When I toss Pegs into her throw double axel. We’re going for a triple this season, so I’ve got to work on a lot of things to be ready.” He made a show of glancing at his watch, smiling apologetically. “Look, folks, I gotta go – I’m already running behind on my training schedule for the day. If you’ll excuse me?” he said, sliding out of the clutch of fans and onto the open sidewalk. He started to trot toward the facility entrance, and turned so he was jogging backwards in place. “And thanks for your support – have a great day!” he called, then turned to run toward the door. He smiled to himself as he heard sighs of pleasure, a murmured, “He’s so nice,” counterpointed with “Take a load of that ass!” as he made his way through the doors and into the relative calm of the center.

He made his way quickly to the now empty snack bar, where Darcy was firing up the various machines, including a couple capable of dispensing delectable designer coffees. So, of course, he ordered a large black, and while he was waiting for Darcy to do her magic, he noticed the young Japanese skater sitting in the corner by himself, nursing his own cup of something.

“Yuri Katsuki,” Darcy told him, leaning over the counter so she could rest her chin on his shoulder. He wasn’t sure exactly how many boxes she’d had to pile up to reach that high, but hey, who is he to judge?

“I remember him from Worlds. Beautiful skater, plagued with nerves. Still, he won silver.”

“And Victor Nikiforov’s fiancé, apparently. Victor is also his coach, which is why he’s here. He’s a cutie!” she exclaimed, then popped away to grab his coffee. He started to push a couple of bills across the counter, but she waved him away. “Win me a gold, and you’ve got free coffee for the season.”

“What if I don’t?”

“There is no don’t. There is only win, young Padawan. You’re skating for the nectar of the gods now, my friend.”

He grinned at her then, broad and free. “It’s good to be with my people.”

“You’re coming with me to NYCC, you know. I’ll even pay your way if you act as my flying wedge.”

“Just me?”

“Have you seen your shoulder to waist ratio, dude? Trust me, with you in front of me, those spiffy collectibles will be mine! Now get outta here. I got coffee magic to do.”

Steve nodded, taking a sip of his coffee, his attention once more drawn to the young man sitting by himself, staring into his cup.

Why not, he thought, and pushed off the counter, making his way across the quiet space.

“This seat taken?” he asked after clearing this throat to get Katsuki’s attention. He was rewarded by a slight smile and warm brown eyes looking up at him through blue-edged glasses. “Mind if I join you?”

“Oh, yeah, sure!” he replied, and Steve was surprised to hear perfect English with a … Midwestern accent?

Steve dropped into his seat, set his coffee down, and stuck out his hand. “Steve Rogers.”

“US pair skater, yeah. Katsuki Yuri, Japanese men’s. Yuri. I’m uh, I’m waiting for my fiancé, who’s also my coach, to finish up his private session. What brings you here so early?”

“I was gonna run until I found myself surrounded by fans. So I don’t think I wanna do the outside path. Think I’m gonna do the inside track – it’s not as big, and it’s a helluva lot more boring, but it’s private. Wanna join me?”

“Oh wow, yeah. I must have missed that on the tour we took yesterday afternoon.”

“Eh, probably not. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s serviceable. And likely to be empty this time of day. Shall we?”

&&&


Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 20m
Disapearng act! Stve whr r u?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 15m
Sk8ers gotta sk8

Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 14m
But where?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 13m
Practices are private

Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 12m
Noooooo! Gotta c my man!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 10m
Gotta dial back yur caffeine! Try a smoothie


The inside “track” was barely more than a large space with a pile of boxes (containing coffee stirrers, sugar packets, and something that looked suspiciously like k-rations) in the center to create the idea of something to run around. It was, at least, air conditioned, and, situated below the complex, away from prying eyes and snapchats. Plus, they were only a stairway away from the showers, and they wouldn’t have to walk through the lobby feeling sticky and gross.

They’d left their bags up in their lockers, and Yuri had left his street clothes there as well. Now they were clad only in comfortable jeans, t-shirts, and running shoes. As Steve bent to stretch, Yuri held up his phone open to Spotify, waggling it in front of Steve’s face.

“You pick,” he said, and went back to his stretches.

Yuri nodded to himself, brought up a playlist, closing his eyes to move to the beat of the first song before setting the phone on top of stack of boards resting against the wall. The thrumming strains of Adele’s Rumor Has It filled the space, and Steve could feel the beat vibrating up from his feet.

“Nice,” Steve approved, then went back to his stretches. Yuri joined him in silence for a few minutes, then, when the next song came on, Steve asked, “Do I need to go easy on you?”

“Easy? I may not be the fastest, but I’ll outlast you.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. I’m known for my stamina.”

“Oh. Oh, really? That must be –“

“Yeah, yeah. It’s not all about sex, you know.”

“No, I didn’t mean – well, I actually meant – y’know, it must be useful when you need to pull a jump out of your ass at the last minute.”

“Exactly! You know, you’re running the tally of points in your head, and you need something to push you over the edge. Presto, instant quad in the last 30 seconds.”

“Wow. You can do that?”

“Yup. And I can promise you I’ll do it again. Makes Victor nuts. He, like, hyperventilates and babbles in Russian. It’s really cute.”

“You’re gonna be the death of him, aren’t you?”

“Planning on it.”

&&&


Victor Nikiforov @victornikiforovofficial 25m
Has anyone seen Yuri?

Thailand’s Finest @phichitchulanontofficial 22m
Did you lose him again Victor? Put a leash and collar on him!

Your Wet Dream Come True @christophegiacomettiofficial 20m
I would pay to see little Yuri in a leash and collar. Snapchat?

Victor Nikiforov @victornikiforovofficial 19m
pffffffffffft hands off my man cg!!!!!


A little while later, they were sprawled on the floor, sipping water and doing cool-down exercises while Adele bled out Rolling in the Deep. Steve thought it would make an interesting gala performance, maybe an entire medley of Adele. He doubted he’d have the opportunity to do it, though, if this really was his last season with Peggy. She tended to prefer wartime tunes, big bands and brassy numbers from the ‘40s. She loved that era and loved to wrap herself in the imagined glamour of it all. Steve had always deferred to her tastes during their partnership, and he wasn’t about to change now, he supposed.

Across from him, Yuri was humming happily to himself as he stretched out his calves and pulled back on his insteps. Steve found Yuri to be immensely personable, with a sly sense of humor that never spared his own embarrassment – or anyone he cared for, for that matter.

As they’d run, Steve had learned that Yuri was fluent in multiple languages, and had long ago mastered English by the time he started training in Detroit – he joked that he’d had to relearn Japanese upon returning home before last season. He frequently skewered his fiancé, the great Victor Nikiforov, the man who had redefined men’s figure skating for more than a decade, starting in juniors. Heck, Steve remembered hearing about Victor when he was in novice.

But Yuri was also incredibly both proud and humbled by his relationship with the living legend. “Can you imagine? Competing in the Olympics against the person you love most in the world, the person you admire most in the sport, no holds barred? He won’t throw the competition, and that’s what makes it exciting. I don’t want him to compromise for me. I want to reach that podium on my own. And it doesn’t matter if I don’t win gold – although, I want to, I promise you – if I can place in a field where Victor skates his best. I’ll have achieved my personal best. I’ll give him – and me – my best.”

Steve capped his bottle, set it down, and leaned back on his hands. “You don’t think it won’t create strain in your relationship – competing like that?” he asked curiously.

Yuri shook his head emphatically. “We’re both competitive. And we both respect the sport. We both love the ice. Neither of us it going to give anything less than our all. The difference is, now I have the confidence to do just that. Give everything I have, leave nothing held back.”

Steve whistled softly. “And your relationship is strong enough to go toe to toe.”

“Yeah. I believe it is. Because it’s the love of the ice that brought us together. I always admired him. And yeah, okay, I admit – I always had a crush. It was harmless, y’know? Like Victor Fucking Nikiforov was gonna notice little Katsuki Yuri.”

“But then he did,” Steve commented, a little hitch in his throat. He wanted what Yuri and Victor had – that pure love that brought two people together, yet set them free to be their better selves. He’d never thought seriously about having a relationship with a competitor – despite Peggy’s proddings about Barnes, and his own very real attraction. But here were two people, from two different cultures, competitors and partners, who were making it work. Because they shared a love of the ice, and a love for each other.

Was that something possible for Steve?

Yuri was still talking, so Steve shook himself away from his dreams. “Yeah. Then he did. And … I don’t even know how to describe it. Like … the world was in grayscale before. And when he rose out of the onsen like some ancient god – it was like color was born in the world.”

“Rising out of the what?”

“Onsen. Um, hot spring. My family runs a hot spring resort in Hasetsu. He came all the way from Russia to my little town, to my parents’ place. Because I’d drunkenly asked him to be my coach, and then I’d skated his routine. I … intrigued him.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah,” Yuri sighed happily. “He’s given me so much – beautiful programs, confidence – my quad flip! My love for the ice, reborn. I’d lost it, you know – my love of the ice. I didn’t think I’d ever skate again. And then … there he was, naked, dripping all over the place, declaring he was my coach.”

“As meet-cutes go, that’s gotta be one of the weirder ones.”

“It really was,” Yuri agreed, smiling fondly.

“And what’ve you given him?”

“I wondered, for a long time, whether I gave him anything! I mean, he’s Victor Nikiforov! What does he need from little Katsuki Yuri? He could have anyone, anything. He’s a god among mortal skaters. And then my best friend Phichit showed me.”

“Showed you what?”

“Victor. Before he met me, and after. Check it out on YouTube. Once Phichit pointed it out to me, I could see. I could see that this thing between us doesn’t go one way. Victor gets something from me he didn’t even know he needed, something he needed in his life.”

“C’mon, man, don’t leave me hanging. What is it?”

Yuri grinned, and thumbed open something on his phone. He looked at it fondly for a moment, then handed it to Steve.

“What am I looking at?”

“His smile. Victor never really smiled before.”

“He smiles all the time. He’s like, one big stupid smile. Like, every picture and interview in the last year – oh.”

“Exactly,” Yuri told him proudly.

&&&


Imma Sexy Katsudon @victuurilover 37m
Any rinkside reports for Yuri or Victor?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 35m
They’re both here and both in closed practices. Yuri is a cutie!

Imma Sexy Katsudon @victuurilover 35m
Pix pls! Yuri is my soulmate!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 34m
Think Victor would argue that.

Imma Sexy Katsudon @victuurilover 33m
Ill share!

Victor Nikiforov @victornikiforovofficial 25m
i don’t share yuri

Your Wet Dream Come True @christophegiacomettiofficial 25m
He reallt doesny

Imma Sexy Katsudon @victuurilover 24m
im ded


Yuri and Steve made their way back up to the main level and the shower complex, rinsed off the sweat and grime from their impromptu race, groomed and dressed, and met again outside the shower area. Steve made a snap decision, and asked the Japanese skater if he’d like to join the gang when they went to O’Malley’s that night.

Yuri grinned broadly. “Me, in a bar, with karaoke?”

“Is that a problem?”

“Dude, the Japanese invented karaoke! Of course I’ll go, thanks for asking me. Hey, does this bar have a pole?”

“A pole?”

“Yeah, like, you know, a stripper pole?”

“Um, last time I was there, no?”

“Bummer. It’s all good, though. Hell yeah, sounds like a great Friday night. I can bring Victor, right?”

“No, you have to leave him behind.”

Yuri just stopped and turned, leveling Steve with his best “bitch you best be joking” look. If anyone had been watching with a stopwatch, they would have gotten to exactly 22 seconds before both Steve and Yuri burst out laughing.

“Y’know, I think this is gonna be a good year,” Yuri announced as he got his breathing back under control.

And then they heard it.

The plaintive call of the lonely Nikiforov, echoing through the complex.

“Yuuuuuri!”

Yuri checked his watch, cursing slightly under his breath.

“What’s wrong?”

“Victor’s session ended twenty minutes ago. He’s looking for me –“

“Yuuuuuri!”

“And he’s getting closer. Wanna meet a living legend who’s really just a big ol’ dork?” Yuri asked with a twinkle.

&&&

Chapter Text


Sinnamon Roll @barnesbaby 35m
Need more pix of Sasha. Locker room, ice, bedroom!

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 34m
Srsly dude get a grip

SashaB is bae @robarnes4life 34m
I wdnt mind if he posted those but askng 4 them is gross

Sinnamon Roll @barnesbaby 33m
Im just sayin whut evrybdy wants

Kill U with my Thighs @romanovaqueen 33m
Maybe but still gross

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 32m
No stalking pix. Voluntary only.

Sinnamon Roll @barnesbaby 31m
Ur no fun

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 30m
Think u r up past bedtime


“You’re sure there is no pole, Yuri? You dance wonders on a pole,” Victor was cooing at Yuri in the back seat of Steve’s car. Beside Steve, Peggy held her hand tightly over her mouth to keep from laughing out loud. The occasional grunt of poorly contained chuckling didn’t count. When Steve glanced over at her when they came to a traffic light, he practically swallowed his tongue at the sight of Peggy choking on giggles, her eyes wide and manic with the effort.

Steve couldn’t hold it in any longer. The laughter spluttered out of him in a torrent, and left him snorting for breath. “What is it with you two and poles?”

“Yuri declared his love for me on a stripper pole,” Victor replied dreamily at the same time Yuri answered testily, ”Drunk Yuri made a fool of himself at the GPF banquet a season ago.”

“Oh, that pole!” Peggy clapped her hands. “Yes, I heard about that! Oh, Steve, we need a pole,” Peggy concluded, patting Steve on the upper arm as he pulled into the parking lot at O’Malley’s.

“Peg, you really think Daniel wants to see you on a stripper pole?”

“Darling, every man wants to see his lover on a stripper pole. But I wasn’t thinking of myself, Steve, sweetie – I think you’d look quite fetching, all oiled up, suspended upside down, just a bit of fabric stretching over your –“

Steve turned off the ignition and screamed, “Aaaaagh! Pegs! Don’t be talking about my – whatever! I’m gonna have to wash out my ears with bleach if you say anything more –“

“Such a drama queen!” Victor commented from the back seat, where Yuri sat beside him giggling.

“Oh! It takes one to know one, Nikiforov!” Steve protested as he glared into the rearview mirror at the two men canoodling behind him. “I’ve half a mind to strand you two here!”

“Oh, Steven, where’s the fun in that?” Peggy chuckled, undoing her seatbelt, then placing both hands primly in her lap. Steve stared at her blankly for a moment, and she responded by raising her eyebrow and canting her head. “Door?” she prompted him.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake. You can tease me mercilessly, but you can’t open your own goddamn door?”

“Oh, I’m quite capable, dear Steven. I just prefer to watch you wait on me. Hand and foot. Now, chop-chop! The night’s-a-wastin’!”

“Didn’t I tell you this would be fun?” Yuri asked Victor as he slid out of the back seat, and extended his hand to his fiancé to help him out.

“Yes. Who knew?”

&&&


SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 2h
When do open practices start

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 1h
Up to sk8ers and coaches. Maybe closer to gala in August.

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 57m
No sooner?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 50m
Dude sk8ers here to work not entertain

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 45m
Phoeey! When do gala tix go on sale?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 40m
Watch ths spce!


“It’s nice you keep your license up, bratjik. It’s good to have wheels, huh?”

“It’s good I have an excellent driving record, so Misha knows he can trust me,” Bucky corrected her archly. “And it took a fair amount of sweet-talking and promises to land my lutz cleanly on Monday to convince him it was okay to lend me his car to go out tonight.”

“Going to a bar.”

“Yes.”

“With alcohol.”

“Not me.”

“Designated driver?”

“And Olympic athlete. My body is a temple.”

“You hope you are an Olympic athlete! And temple? Please! Your body is hot for that Rogers dude, and he’s hot for yours. You just don’t want to miss any hot boy on boy action!”

“Natasha, don’t be crude.”

“You didn’t say it’s not true.”

Bucky was silent, glancing instead toward the phone anchored on the dash, showing the streets of Sayresbury and the route to O’Malley’s.

“I like him,” she said suddenly, flopping back against the seat with a whoosh. “He’s one of the good ones.”

“How do you know?” Bucky asked curiously.

“I have my ways.”

“You talked to Darcy.”

“And his partner, Peggy. I caught her on a break. She wouldn’t admit he was gay, and I give her props for not spilling his secrets. But she was as interested in you as I was about him. We’re like two old yentyls trying to make the unmatchable match, you know? I like her, too. I think we could be friends.”

They were approaching the bar now, and could hear the music escaping about the edges of the building, spilling into the parking lot and into the street. The parking lot was fairly full, but as Bucky turned in off the street, he spied a spot and spun the wheel to slip smoothly into it.

“You’re actually good at that.”

“I like to drive.”

“Not much chance in Brooklyn.”

“No, but Becca lets me drive on weekends. To keep my skills up.”

“Skills are important. So is game, and you know you have none.”

“When have I ever had a chance to develop game. I’m … I’m not going to do anything, you know. I’m … not ready to take the chance, y’know? We’ll just go in, have a good time, and head back to the apartment after, huh?”

“Speak for yourself. Tomorrow is Saturday, we are taking the weekend off. I plan to drink my weight in vodka, and you, moy dorogoy drug, will hold my hair back while I worship the porcelain god, no? Carry me gently back to our humble abode, and tuck me in for the night. All before you drag that beautiful boy off to kiss him senseless and have your wicked, wicked way with him.”

“First of all, you don’t get drunk. You’re Russian, and you can drink more than men three times your size without feeling any affects. So I won’t be holding your hair back, I won’t need to carry you, and I most definitely will not be tucking your scrawny ass in.”

“Good. That means you can start kissing him sooner!” Natasha announced with a sly glance before she swung open the door and bounced out of the car, tripping toward the entrance to the bar, and the music within.

Bucky slid out of the driver’s seat and thumbed the lock mechanism, shouting, “No one’s kissing anyone tonight, you little minx!” just as Natasha reached the door and it swung outward, revealing none other than the blonde godhead of Steve Rogers himself. Bucky’s hand stayed suspended in front of him as he just stared, open-mouthed, at the beautiful American skater. His competition, Bucky’s brain reminded him, unhelpfully. His wet dream made flesh, another part of his anatomy reminded him, also unhelpfully. And far more embarrassingly.

Steve stood there, outlined in garish neon light, music pulsing around him like a physical thing. He stood there, his hand on the doorknob, still and silent, staring at Bucky as Natasha pirouetted by him on her way into the dim interior of the bar. He stood there, and didn’t notice when Natasha popped out again, grinning and pointing at the statue that was Steve Rogers, waggling her eyebrows lasciviously.

And Bucky stood there staring right back, his hand stalled midway from the car door to his pocket, his lips parted as he drank in the sight of Steve Rogers in all his perfection.

He didn’t understand the effect this man had on him. He’d seen many beautiful men in his travels around the world. Most skaters aim for a level of physical perfection – they have to, to command the ice. To launch their bodies into the air, to balance on a quarter inch of steel. Their training regimens were normally more rigorous, more punishing than most any other kind of athlete. American football players would likely expire after a week of the training regimen of any top-seeded skater, single, pairs, or dance.

So it wasn’t his perfect skater body. Besides, even outside of the sport, he’d seen his fair share of men whom some might call perfect.

But none of them had ever been as perfect for him as Steve Rogers was tonight, standing there, lit from behind, in simple jeans, a tight white t-shirt, and buttery-looking leather jacket.

Bucky felt the urge to lick him from toe to head and back again.

The things he wanted to do to him overwhelmed him for a moment, causing him to practically sway on his feet. His fingers jerked, reaching for something solid to grab onto –

Abruptly, the spell was broken by an attractive man and his lovely female friend – date, most likely. Heteronormative tended to apply, after all. They walked up the steps to the door and the man stuck his hand out to Steve, and suddenly Steve glanced away, releasing Bucky from his thrall.

Bucky sucked in a greedy breath, feeling light-headed and floaty and warm.

If Steve Rogers made him feel this way with just a look … what would it feel like to actually touch him?

Would he be able to remove the gloves to do that? Would Steve accept what was beneath his clothing, beneath the gloves?

Steve was laughing with the man and woman, but as Bucky shook the cobwebs free and started to move again, Steve glanced over his shoulder at Bucky and smiled. A small smile, not some big Hollywood production. Small, private, intimate.

And Bucky felt his gloved hand, still suspended before him, rising, and his fingers move in a tiny wave.

And the smile widened, crinkling Steve’s eyes at the corners, lighting his face with an expression that Bucky wanted to keep there all the rest of his days, a smile that drew an answering smile from him, curling his lips ever so slightly in response.

And then the other man was looking right at him, and his smile was broad and warm, his head was jerking toward the venue, and his hand was waving him forward.

And Bucky’s feet were moving, crossing the distance, stepping up the stairs.

And then he was there, one step below Steve, staring up into his incredible blue eyes.

“Sam Wilson,” introduced the other guy, extending a hand toward Bucky, a tiny furrow as he glanced at the ever-present glove, but he didn’t acknowledge it out loud. Instead, he introduced himself with a grin,“I work at the center. This is my friend who’s a girl, Maria Hill. She’s a cop. You must be Sasha Barnes, the guy who threatened to snatch gold away from my roommate here.”

“Bucky,” Bucky corrected, a little breathless, taking Sam’s hand and nodding toward Maria.

“Bucky?” Sam kind of squeaked in reply.

“My name, it’s Bucky. Family name. I decided to take it back. So when I win the Olympics, it’s my family name they announce,” Bucky explained, glancing shyly toward Steve.

“Family name? What, Buckingham?” Steve guessed.

“Buchanan, actually.”

“Huh,” was Steve’s cryptic response. “Don’t think I’m throwing the Olympics just so you can win. I plan to be on that top step, Barnes.”

“Hmm,” Bucky replied, smirking, feeling a surge of confidence. Now they were talking something where he was very comfortable. “Like you plan to win at karaoke tonight?”

“I’m not singing –“

I am. And I challenge you. So, Captain America – bring it,” he countered with more bravado than he actually felt, and pushed past Steve, getting a brief taste of the heat just pouring off the guy, to enter into the bar. He heard Sam’s chuckle and Maria’s snarky, “You just got served, Steve,” as he searched for Natasha. He found her at a large table full of people from the center, including Steve’s partner Peggy.

Well, this evening promised to be interesting, if nothing else.

&&&


Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 92m
Glenn Miller. Did he play with the Eagles? Isn’t he dead?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 90m
That’s Glenn Frye. Glenn Miller died a long time ago.

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4lifen 89m
Why are they sk8ing 2 dead people music?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 80m
Cos its good. Check it out.


They were gathered in a corner booth, and over time and shifting seats, Bucky found himself nestled in the seat where the two walls joined at his back, with an unobstructed view of the entrances and exits. He relaxed back into the worn pleather upholstery, one arm splayed along the back of the bench, the other holding his drink – unsweetened ice tea with plenty of ice – and simply let himself enjoy the moment.

The people from the center and their friends were a loud, welcoming bunch, each exhibiting a competitive level assholery that did more to put him at ease than any number of friendly gestures. They teased each other mercilessly, tossing zingers at each other, matching with snarky comebacks and flipped birds. Nicknames quickly devolved into near pornography at the hands of Darcy Lewis, and he enjoyed the way that Nat seemed to find a kindred spirit right there in the snack bar.

Nikiforov and Katsuki were a welcome surprise, totally besotted with each other, yet right at home with the crew. Yuri and Steve seemed to get on really well, and that surprised Bucky that they’d made friends so quickly. Bucky had to admit that of the pair of lovebirds, he was far more curious about Victor, and how he’d gotten the Federation to lay off about his openly gay relationship with Yuri. Russian television might try to spin it as a platonic friendship, but the way Victor flaunted the engagement ring, and was in constant contact with some part of Yuri’s anatomy, he wasn’t fooling anyone. More importantly, he wasn’t even trying to fool anyone.

The easy affection, the way they’d look at one another at odd moments, the simple intimacy of the way they moved around each other … these were things that Bucky longed for. He ached for. And then he’d make the mistake of glancing at Steve Rogers, and his guts would churn and his stomach would attempt to launch into a lutz all on its own. He didn’t believe in love at first sight, he really didn’t. But there was something about Steve that had him … something … at first sight.

And when Steve would raise his glass slightly in acknowledgement, when that left corner of his mouth would lift up just so, or when the lines around his eyes would crinkle in just that way … Bucky had to quell the urge to sigh like a damsel in a bad romance movie. But he also had to wonder when the blush stained Steve’s cheeks, when his eyes dropped beneath those lush eyelashes, or when his teeth sank into his lower lip … was Steve feeling the same thing?

The idea that he might be attracted to someone who was attracted back filled Bucky with both bubbling excitement and burgeoning dread.

He’d never had to face the reality of who he was, not really. His gayness had always been a part of who he identified as, but as far as the rest of the world was concerned, it was academic. He never acted on it. Risk of exposure was minimal because there weren’t any skeletons waiting to spring from his closet when he came out of it. He was gay, but he lacked experience.

But looking at Steve … hell, it might all be worth the risk.

He was shaken from his increasingly romanticized musings by the start of the karaoke portion of the evening. A thin-framed older guy in jeans and flannel shirt, with a gray beard and a ponytail tied off at the back of his neck came bouncing to the stage, chattering rapid-fire while he introduced the entertainment for the night. He spied the group of them clustered around their table, and announced that the world’s Olympic teams were with them tonight, and insisted on introducing everyone. Well, making each of them stand up and introduce themselves, really.

So they each did, standing like they were back in school, stating their names, disciplines, and country of origin. It was all pretty silly, but he paid attention anyway so he could tuck facts away for later use.

Silly it might be, but it didn’t diminish the thrill he felt introducing himself as “Bucky Barnes” and not “Sasha Barnes.” Natasha lifted her glass of vodka and saluted him, while Darcy shouted, “Bucko!” at the top of her lungs, pounding her feet on the floor and kicking up a racket. Nikiforov raised his glass and cried, “Vkusno!” then urged his pretty Japanese boyfriend to drink up.

Steve. Well, Steve just looked at him over his shoulder and grinned.

Yeah, Bucky felt the urge to form a puddle of warm, fuzzy goo right there.

Shit.

He was snapped out of it by Sam demanding, “How’s a guy named Bucky end up skating for Russia?”

“He was born there,” Bucky answered with a smirk.

“Well, then. Can’t refute that logic. Good to have you here, Barnes,” he added with a gap-toothed grin and a nod.

Sam’s friend Maria got the best laughs of the night when she threatened to take everyone in the bar in for questioning. Turned out she wasn’t just a cop, but a detective who didn’t mind flashing her shield. Bucky had to smile at the proud grin on Sam’s face as everyone in the bar applauded his friend who was a girl.

Then the music started up. The host, who asked everyone to call him Bert, announced that to get everyone’s vocal chords warmed up, they were all going to do a couple of songs together.

And so he found himself enthusiastically singing along to Queen’s We are the Champions, pumping his fist to the beat, reveling in the key changes and the soaring notes, losing himself in the music. As he glanced around himself and saw that everyone else was enjoying themselves as much as he was, he felt a pang of unexpected homesickness. Not for Russia, or even Brooklyn. But for a place where he belonged all the time, where he could be himself and not what people told him he had to be. And he wondered, not for the last time, if he had finally found that place where he could just be Bucky Barnes.

We are the Champions segued into Another One Bites the Dust, and Bucky wondered if they were going to sing the entire Queen catalog before the night was done. But Bert called for the first volunteers to come up and serenade the bar, seduce them with their velvet tones, their smooth moves.

So of course, Nikiforov and Katsuki were the first to jump up and grab mikes, giggling between them. Yuri whispered to the MC, who queued up the song and then stepped back with a finger gun for each of them.

The music started, a kind of calliope tune, and suddenly Yuri and Victor were moving up and down in counterpoint to each other, like human whack-a-moles on the midway.

Then Yuri lifted the mike to his lips and started to sing in a nice, clear tenor.

“They say we're young and we don't know
We won't find out until we grow.”

Victor smiled and started to sing back, his voice a bit lower, with a little bit of a growly burr that would be pretty sexy if he weren’t such a doofus.

“Well I don't know if all that's true
'Cause you got me, and baby I got you.”

And then together, they jumped in place to face each other, singing in harmony,

“Babe.
I got you babe.
I got you babe.”

The group started howling. Of course they’d pick that old tune, it was old at the dawn of time. Then again, it was Cher, at a whole different level of fabulous. He had to grin as people started singing along as the verses continued, growing louder at the refrain, until everyone was shouting the lyrics, simple as they were, grinning, laughing, making faces, arms slung round shoulders, and generally one big shmoopy mess.

Finally the song was building to the final crescendo, and by unspoken consent, the singers broke off into a men’s chorus and a women’s chorus, alternating through the lines of the song.

“I got you to hold my hand.
I got you to understand.
I got you to walk with me.
I got you to talk with me.
I got you to kiss goodnight.
I got you to hold me tight.
I got you, I won't let go.
I got you to love me so.
I got you babe.
I got you babe.
I got you babe.
I got you babe.
I got you babe.
I got you babe.
I got you babe.

Until the final, slow, drawn out verse, “I got you babe,” at which point Yuri and Victor kissed sweetly, only to be pelted by rolled up napkins, sugar packets, and creamer cups from their tablemates, and a few other patrons in the bar. The bar erupted in good-natured laughter, and Victor grabbed Yuri around the waist and lifted him, his arms reaching for the ceiling, crowing in imagined victory.

As ice breakers go, it wasn’t half bad. Bucky was happy to join the enthusiastic applause and wolf whistles that thundered through the establishment.

The evening progressed with pitchers of beer, a carafe or two of wine, wings, fries, pierogis, even a pizza or two shoved into the center of the table with plates handed round so everyone could share. Bucky kept his gloves on through it all, and eventually, no one even blinked at the sight of his black-gloved hands reaching for food. Even as the seats shifted throughout the night, Bucky never seemed to get any closer to Steve. Or rather, Steve never seemed to get any closer to Bucky. Bucky held his seat with the great sightlines and the comfy corner, and Steve seemed to want to be not near him, yet Bucky had the feeling that Steve was very much aware of him, just as he was of Steve. That if Bucky turned his head, he could catch Steve watching him out of the corner of his eye.

Natasha got up and sang a rousing version of One Way or Another, and Peggy countered with Bowie’s Space Oddity, a song that sounded eerie and ethereal in her sweet alto voice. He could see why fans were intent on pairing her with Steve romantically – they were a beautiful couple, exciting to watch (and he had been watching), the stuff of romance novels. But fans wanted to smush him and Nat together, and he’d seen fanart where they did just that, smush their faces together with a caption that said, “Now kiss!” He’d also seen more explicit art showing them in acts of a passion that was simply ludicrous – Nat saved them to e-mail to Clint to remind him what he was missing when they were apart, and Clint usually asked when Bucky would be free. He was kind of an asshole, but he was an asshole who worshipped Nat, and she was pretty crazy about him right back. So he knew the internet didn’t have a whole lot of say in how people really felt about each other.

Sam got up and broke the house by singing MC Hammer Can’t Touch This, complete with outrageous choreography. Maria got up after with an exaggerated swing of her hips, touching a finger to her shapely ass and making like it burned, she was so hot. She stood there at the mike, palms outstretched to calm the crowd and drop the noise level down like she was going to sing something small, something quiet. The way she was standing there, straight-backed, hands clasped in front of her torso, head bowed, he half expected Madonna’s Like a Prayer, or maybe something even Gospel.

And suddenly there was this frantic percussion, with a guitar riff laid in, and Maria opened her eyes wide like she was mad, asking in a falsetto voice, “Are you ready Steve? Uh-huh,” with an exaggerated wink, then, “Bucky? Yeah,” with a theatrical nod, “Sam? Okay! Alright fellas, let’s go!”

And then she tore into Ballroom Blitz, complete with head-banging, manic dancing, and theatrics for days. It was a hoot and a half watching her rip up the metaphorical stage. As she hit the last couple of stanzas, everyone was singing along, fists pumping in the air.

"Oh yeah! It was like lightning
Everybody was fighting
And the music was soothing
And they all started grooving
Yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah
And the man in the back said everyone attack
And it turned into a ballroom blitz
And the girl in the corner said boy I want to warn you
It'll turn into a ballroom blitz
Ballroom blitz, ballroom blitz, ballroom blitz, ballroom blitz
It's it's a ballroom blitz
It's it's a ballroom blitz
It's it's a ballroom blitz
Yeah, it's a ballroom blitz”

By the end of the song, Maria’s hair had come completely undone, and stuck out like a halo round her head. She was flushed and laughing and one glance at Sam Wilson told him that Sam was completely and utterly in love with her. She grinned, taking a diva curtsy, turned to each corner of the bar and repeated it, and blew kisses to everyone who was still cheering and stomping.

Bucky couldn’t help but laugh delightedly at the spectacle, the energy, and then the sweetness as Maria dropped into her seat and into a kiss from Sam.

Bucky was smiling fondly at the pair of them when Steve twisted around and grinned at him. “What about you, Barnes? Thought you were gonna wipe the floor with me in karaoke.”

Bucky gave him a slow smile, and stood up, not breaking eye contact as he made his way around the table and up to the mike.

Oh, this was perfect. Steve might have managed not to sit next to him all night, but he was right there, front and center, a clean line of sight.

Bucky chose his song, stood at the mike and rested his gloved fingers lightly on the device, then slid his other hand over those fingers as the first strains of music played. He wore the gloves so much, he’d developed a second sense through the leather, and he could feel the difference in texture between the smooth chrome and the mesh of the mike.

He spared a glance at Steve, then swept his gaze around the table to see that they were already leaning forward, waiting to see what he’d do. He smiled again, then closed his eyes, and started to sing.

“Turn down the lights;
Turn down the bed.
Turn down these voices
Inside my head.”

He felt the music rising through his body, the slow, sensual build, spiraling through him to give voice to the wrenching words of the song.

“Lay down with me;
Tell me no lies.
Just hold me close;
Don't patronize.
Don't patronize me.”

He opened his eyes then, taking in the crowd that had grown quiet, leaning forward to catch the nuances of his performances. He didn’t break character, didn’t smile, but he knew he had them. Bucky’s life was all about performance, and this was just another expression of it. He drew in a shuddering inhale to breathe out the chorus, letting the searing pain rip through him, ringing on the air around him. He poured all the longing he felt, all the need, all the loneliness, and all the hope into his voice, and it sounded wounded even to him.

“'Cuz I can't make you love me
If you don't.
You can't make your heart feel
Something it won't.
Here in the dark
In these final hours,
I will lay down my heart
And I'll feel the power;
But you won't.
No, you won't.
'Cuz I can't make you love me
If you don't.”

A breath, a brief opening of his eyes, the sight of Steve Rogers leaning forward, his eyes laser-focused on Bucky, his lips parted, and his eyes dark. Bucky shifted slightly to address the mike from a different angle, adjusted his hold on it, and slid into the next verse, closing his eyes with the lyric.

“I'll close my eyes,
Then I won't see
The love you don't feel
When you're holding me.
Morning will come,
And I'll do what's right;
Just give me till then
To give up this fight.”

He opened his eyes again then, and looked directly into Steve’s then, feeling the shock of recognition as Steve registered Bucky’s intense gaze. Steve shifted in his chair then, lifting his chin defiantly, and stared Bucky down. The little divot between his brows betrayed his own nerves, and Bucky pushed just that much more to draw him in as he wound down the song.

“And I will give up this fight
'Cuz I can't make you love me
If you don't.
You can't make your heart feel
Something it won't.
Here in the dark
In these final hours,
I will lay down my heart
And I'll feel the power;
But you won't.
No, you won't.
'Cuz I can't make you love me
If you don't.”

He closed his eyes again, crossed his hands over the top of the mike, and rested his forehead there as the music segued to silence, letting the moment breathe. He felt the air shift around him, felt Steve rise from his chair, taking a stumbling step forward, so Bucky chose that moment to open his eyes, lift his head, and full-on grin as the audience broke the spell and applauded loudly for him. Steve seemed to realize he’d moved and looked around in confusion, so Bucky stepped around the mike and came right up in front of him.

“That was … that was amazing,” Steve breathed, his voice sounding labored.

“That was … performance,” Bucky replied haughtily, looking up into Steve’s under the screen of his own lashes. He poked Steve in the center of his delicious chest, and raised his head fully, staring directly into Steve’s eyes. “Now you.”

“Wh-what?”

“Now you.” Poke. “Perform.” Another poke. “Show me … performance.” And before Bucky could poke again – when he’d really prefer to be copping a feel – Steve’s hand closed over his wrist and held his hand – and his pointer finger – away from his chest.

“First of all – ow. You got bony digits, dude. Second of all – I accept your challenge. Third of all – ow!”

“Good. Now let go of me and get up there and perform,” Bucky let his voice drop into a husky growl, and he was gratified by the way that Steve’s eyes widened – and darkened – at the sound of his voice. Tucking that little tidbit away for future examination, Bucky leaned forward and whispered, “Entertain me.”

Steve stood there gaping for a moment, eyes wide and mouth hanging open, and then he smirked. “Prepare to be amazed, Barnes. I’m gonna entertain the fuckin’ pants off you,” Steve replied with a growl of his own breathed against Bucky’s ear.

And the shiver that undulated down Bucky’s spine had nothing to do with temperature.

&&&


Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 22m
We shd do a meetup for gala

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 20m
Hope I can go. Need 2 save up for tix and train

Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 18m
Omg! Cant w8 2 meet u

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 15m
Schedule posts soon. Follow blog!


Steve felt breathless, energized and ready to lift off to the stratosphere and beyond.

That voice.

Those eyes.

Those fucking lips.

And damn, that fine ass.

He didn’t remember standing. He sure as hell didn’t remember stumbling forward a few steps. And finding himself face to face – practically touching toe to toe, Steve imagined he could feel the heat emanating off Bucky’s body. Steve could certainly smell the slightly spicy scent of Bucky’s cologne dancing on the air.

And Steve was talking. He didn’t know what he was saying, but he was talking to Bucky. And Bucky was poking him in the chest. And damn if Steve didn’t want to step into that, take his hand, glove and all, and flatten it against his heart. And maybe his pec. He was sensitive there, and he’d really, really like to know what it felt like to have someone caress his – and oh, my God, he was doing it again!

Steve’s hand moved of its own volition, and his fingers closed around Bucky’s wrist, stopping the poking and removing the temptation for more touching. Steve blinked and let the last few moments penetrate his consciousness.

A challenge.

Steve never backed down from a challenge. And the fire in Bucky’s eyes as he delivered his challenge … well.

Steve’s nerves dissipated in the flare of those eyes as he accepted the challenge. Something else started heating up when Bucky leaned forward to whisper in his ear, “Entertain me.”

The only thing saving Steve from popping an inappropriate boner right then and there was the challenge. Because when Steve accepted a challenge, Steve’s little shit came to the surface, and he gave it right back.

Damn right he was gonna entertain Bucky.

It. Was. On.

&&&


Quad Lutz Groopie @skating_squee 42m
Gala on tv?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 40m
Lcl cable station.

Quad Lutz Groopie @skating_squee 37m
Sombdy youtube it!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 35m
We might have snippets on website …


Steve grabbed Peggy and Darcy, quickly explaining his plan in whispers behind a cupped hand. Darcy practically jumped up and down for joy. Actually, she did, but the torque on her chest convinced her that jumping without a sports bra was more painful than she’d expected, or so she told Steve. As he and Peggy moved toward the microphone, Darcy turned around and grabbed Dr. Jane Foster, her best not currently skating friend who was totally an ex-skater and with her husband, Dr. Thor Odinson, was the center’s owner. She also snagged her boyfriend, Ian Boothby, the quiet young British man who single-handedly dealt with all the boring accounting and business stuff for the center.

Suddenly, Steve stood there in front of the primary microphone, while Peggy and Jane, and Darcy and Ian waited until the MC provided them with additional microphones to share. He looked out over the audience, and saw Barnes smirking at him.

“Hey, you need an army, Rogers?” he taunted.

“Backing vocals. Part of the performance.”

Barnes’s smirk widened, and Steve felt like he’d done something right. Peggy looked up at him and elbowed him gently in the ribs. He glanced down and smiled fondly at her. “Ready?”

“Born ready, darling. Let’s wipe the floor with him,” she growled, and he nodded to the MC, who started the song up. Steve stepped up to the mike, embraced it like it was something precious, and closed his eyes, letting the music carry his clear tenor voice.

“Tonight you're mine completely
You give you love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes
But will you love me tomorrow?”

The audience groaned and clapped in equal measure, a few catcalls slipping through before Steve started the second verse, this time with “ooohs,” “aaahs,” and “sh-boops” from his backing quartet. Their voices blended as though they’d actually rehearsed this, and the crowd fell silent.

“Is this a lasting treasure
Or just a moment's pleasure?
Can I believe the magic of your sighs?
Will you still love me tomorrow?”

He let his eyes open and swept the crowd, who were now swaying side to side with the measured meter of the old song. The next verse carried his voice higher, and it felt like a prayer.

“Tonight with words unspoken
You say that I'm the only one
But will my heart be broken
When the night meets the morning sun?”

A little bit of shuffling, and Peggy and Jane were dancing together, with Darcy and Ian following suit after they figured out that Darcy was going to lead regardless of what Ian thought. They’d all lean forward toward the mike to sing their parts, then step back and resume dancing as Steve sang earnestly.

”I'd like to know that your love
Is love I can be sure of
So tell me now, and I won't ask again
Will you still love me tomorrow?”

The instrumental interlude followed, and Steve found himself swaying first with Peggy, then he was handed off to Jane, twirled to Darcy, and finally dipped by Ian. Ian blushed furiously as he realized what he’d done, pulling Steve back up as Darcy smacked him on the head, all accompanied by laughter. She pulled him back to dance with her as Steve grinned and took his place back at the mike.

“So tell me now, and I won't ask again
Will you still love me tomorrow?
Will you still love me tomorrow?
Will you still love me tomorrow?”

He was staring directly at Bucky as the last stanza rang in the air, his right hand over his heart, his left held out entreatingly. Bucky looked directly back, and the expression on his face was decidedly … fond.

Steve would take fond.

Fond could be good.

The music ended, and the gang erupted into applause, foot-stomping, laughter, and good-natured yelling. He felt Peggy touch his arm as she smiled up at him. “Sober Steve did okay at karaoke,” she told him, rising on tiptoe to place a chaste peck on his cheek. Her approval made him feel warm and cuddly, so he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and hugged her close.

The crowd’s reaction to Steve’s counter-song was great, and Bucky was certainly among the ones laughing and enjoying the not-quite-campy performance. He grinned at Steve, nodding as he held up his drink, and Steve smiled, blushing in return.

The MC announced they had time for one more song, and Yuri and Victor rushed up to claim the closing spot. They didn’t hesitate to choose their song, the endlessly cheesy Endless Love. As they harmonized, they also got all gooey-eyed over the song, staring deeply into each other’s eyes like there was no one else there. So, of course, there was renewed pelting of projectile napkins, pretzels, and even a few bread rolls from the audience, and repeated shouts of, “Get a room!”

It was a good night.

&&&

Chapter Text


From Tumbler
Sayresbury Watch – 2017 Training Season, It’s the weekend!
It’s quiet here in Sayresbury, with the Russian and American teams taking advantage of the first weekend in June to stock up on some serious rest before the training season really kicks in. The gang did some team-building last night at a location I can’t disclose, and this is shaping up to be a great competitive season. And hey, there were questions on the gala, which Sayresbury hosts every summer. I’ll be posting dates as soon as they’re decided, and links for tix as soon as they’re ready. We have a great group of talent this year, and the gala promises to be epic! Hope to see a lot of you there. But first – gotta dash, I’ve been working for the weekend, and it is here! Later!

Hes mine u cant have him @mrsrogers 57m
no new pix steve?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 55m
hes got the wknd off

Hes mine u cant have him @mrsrogers 54m
say it aint so!!!!!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 55m
sry my duuuude it is so


Bucky savored the quiet, and the coffee. The quiet was thanks to the other members of the team sharing the apartment still being asleep, most of them having gone out to another local bar for drinks, dancing, and darts the night before. They were all still passed out, hence the quiet.

As for the coffee, the apartment came with one of those pod brewer things, and so he’d been able to select something indulgent from the little spinny tree to start his day off with. He’d have to pick up more of those little pods so he’d have a steady supply of something tasty in the mornings.

So now he was enjoying the silence, the heady aroma and welcoming taste of his coffee, and a rare opportunity to kind of just be for a few minutes. Dressed in worn sweat pants, a tank top covered by a hoodie, his left hand clad in a leather glove made for touch screens, and comfortable sneakers, he was idly swiping through various social media streams on his tablet, smiling at speculation over the upcoming season. There were wishlists for international assignments, guesses on which teams would stay together and which would go the distance, complaints over network coverage and the fact that IceNetwork still wasn’t available on the Roku, Apple TV, or Fire TV. Wild-ass guesses on who would make the various Olympic teams come winter. It was all very mundane and mindless, the perfect balm for a morning after.

It wasn’t that Bucky was hungover, since he’d stuck to iced tea all evening. It wasn’t that he was overtired – they’d been back and in their beds by a little after 1 a.m., at least an hour before the rest of the team stumbled back. But he could still feel the excitement bubbling through his blood, the adrenalin rush of something special touching his life. Of hope and anticipation. Of looking forward to something, something that had the potential to be great.

Of looking into brilliant blue eyes darkened with desire for him. And feeling an answering desire both powerful and breathtaking.

He was drunk on possibility.

He smiled to himself as he pulled up another app and searched on the names Rogers and Carter, and started reading the threads of speculation about Steggy, and how this would be the season where the two lovers would finally realize their passion and bring it off the ice into the real world, capping off their Olympic season with the wedding of the century.

There was so much of it, fan speculation, elaborate theories, mountains of tenuous and questionable evidence that he found his smile fading a bit, as he started wondering if maybe he really had imagined it all – the interest, the heat, the magnetism.

“You think too loud.” And then Natasha was sitting astride his thighs, snatching his coffee cup away to take a sip. “Adequate.” Then she nodded at his tablet. “That stuff’ll rot your brain.”

“Do I have to ask how you got in here?”

“What’s a lock between friends and partners, hmm? Any more of that flavor? I like it.”

“Make your own.”

“Where’s the hospitality in that?”

“I’m not your host.”

“No, you’re my partner. A partner who should be doing something to strike while the proverbial iron is hot. And hoo, was he hot last night! How long did it take you to come up with that song, hmm? He was totally into it. And you.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Bucky said, snatching his coffee back before he shoved Natasha off so she tumbled like a sack of potatoes onto the sofa cushion beside him. He levered himself up off the couch and wandered into the kitchen where he set about making another cup of coffee.

“Sugar and cream, if you please,” she caroled, rolling into a modified lotus position. She grinned when he flipped her the bird.

“But seriously, Sasha. Everyone in the bar could see the sizzle between you. Why not tap that – that’s the word the young kids use, isn’t it? Tap that?”

“Dunno. And don’t care. And my name is Bucky, remember?”

“I prefer Sasha. I’m afraid you will disappear into American-ness if I don’t remind you of your Russian roots.”

He turned then, mug in hand, and just stared at her. Then he cocked his head, brow furrowed, and asked, “How could you ever imagine that?”

“Because things are changing, aren’t they? When the Olympics are over, when we both are wearing gold around our necks,” she added coquettishly, “where will Sasha Barnes settle down, hmmm?”

“Where will Natasha Romanova, hmm?” He raised a judgy eyebrow and turned back to the coffee machine. “Unless you are planning to convince Clint to uproot everything, throw away his business, his career, his entire life, to move to St. Petersburg.”

Her face fell, and he had to smirk. “As long as we’re thinking about life after gold, what will you do with yourself when you are not punishing yourself on the ice?”

“You mean when you are not throwing me into the boards and giving me unexplainable bruises?” she countered snappishly.

Ah. So he had hit a nerve after all.

The coffee poured out in a steady stream from the Keurig wannabe, and when it was done, he reprimed it with another pod. He let her stew for a moment before asking, “Clint hasn’t mentioned anything about life after the Olympics yet, has he?”

“No,” she answered in a small voice, knees drawn up now and hugged against her chest while her fingers massaged her bare toes. Blistered and bruised after only one day back on the ice.

“Have you?” he asked gently, and she lifted her face at that, the telltale glisten of unshed tears telling him that this was a moment that he could not ignore.

She shook her head.

“Maybe you need to.”

A frown bunched her eyebrows momentarily and then eased off. “Why?”

“Maybe he doesn’t realize there are choices to be made.”

She lifted her head further, her expression growing thoughtful. “Maybe,” she allowed him grudgingly.

“Maybe he doesn’t know something needs to be said,” he pressed, turning back to the coffee maker to pull the mug out from under the finished stream. He doctored it the way she liked, and brought both mugs back to the couch. “Maybe your partner needs to have a little talk with Mr. American Boy? Give him some … insight … into what it means to be a Russian athlete.”

“But why would he not know?”

“Because he lives in the country he grew up in. He’s built his career, his business, his future here. He didn’t have to give any of that up.”

“I don’t know … I don’t know if I can. I’m not like you, Sasha. My parents are both Russian. I learned English in school, watching television. I only know America because we compete here. It’s nothing like I know. But …”

“But when you are with Clint, does it matter?”

“You see, if you would just try with Steve, you might be able to answer that question for yourself,” she told him, tapping her fingers on his left shoulder. He winced at the pressure. “Your shoulder. It bothers you.”

“Out of practice,” he noted, taking a deep breath, then letting it out slowly. He masked any further discomfort by sipping at his coffee.

“We shouldn’t have done those lifts yesterday.”

“I’m a little out of shape. I wasn’t so careful about exercising during our break. Which is why, zolotse, I am going to the center today. To use the weight room, work on my strength and flexibility. You don’t want me dropping you on your head again, do you?”

“Hmm. Maybe Steve will be there. He didn’t grow those muscles overnight, you know. And perhaps he could help you with your … flexibility,” she grinned as she closed her eyes and took a fortifying sip of her coffee, then leaned back and sighed happily. “This coffee maker is a good invention. We should get one to take on the road.”

“Many hotels have their own coffee makers.”

“Not like this one.”

“Eh.”

“And they don’t have Steve Rogers, either. You should take advantage while you can.”

“I don’t plan to take ‘advantage’ of anyone. And my life does not revolve around Steve Rogers.”

“Not yet,” she agreed, taking another sip of brew, then she set the mug down on the coffee table. “But before you go to work on your own muscles, breakfast. You’re buying.”

“Am I?”

“Mmmm. Yes, you are. Now help me up. I am weak with hunger and cannot walk.”

“You are an asshole.”

“Mm. Perhaps. But I am your asshole. At least until you find a better one,” she smirked with a lascivious waggle of her eyebrows. She seemed quite pleased with herself, Bucky noted. At least until the throw pillow hit her squarely in the face.

&&&


SashaB is bae @robarnes4life 22m
not enuff pix sasha!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 21m
dude i posted 200 pix last nite from russian skate session

SashaB is bae @robarnes4life 20m
not enuff pix sasha!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 19m
this is a robo-account isn’t it. no pix for you!


“Hey, Maria, how do you take your eggs?” Steve called over his shoulder from where he was preparing his part of the breakfast goods. She answered, giving him a list of fillings she wanted in her omelet.

“Is this how you guys always eat? ‘Cos if so, I might just have to convince you to ask me to move in,” Maria, clad only in panties and one of Sam’s button downs, surveyed with wide eyes the dinette table and counter, and all the food on offer.

“Dunno. This is our first Saturday together,” Sam answered, snagging a piece of bacon and popping it in his mouth.

“Thinkin’ by next weekend, we’ll be hitting the diner a few blocks over, or eating leftover pizza,” Steve added over his shoulder. “This is first weekend, best behavior brunch. By next weekend, neither of us’ll give a shit.”

“Yeah, that’s the likely scenario,” Sam agreed, grabbing another piece of bacon and stuffing it whole in his mouth. After he’d swallowed, he nudged Maria and asked, “Would you only wanna move in for the eats?”

Maria dropped into the chair Sam most definitely did not pull out for her, and took the plate that Steve handed her. She looked over the offerings and smiled. “Mmmm. Mostly. Company’s not bad. You two haven’t had time to turn this into a frat house yet.”

Steve snorted, and swept his spatula under the omelet in the pan. “And we’re not gonna. One thing traveling so much has taught me is that it pays to be organized. Neat.”

“My hero,” Maria announced, making grabby hands at the omelet Steve slid onto her plate.

Sam pointed out the items he wanted in his omelet, and Steve assembled it silently. Then Sam asked, “You’re not gonna get all prissy about bein’ neat, are you?”

Steve tilted the omelet pan to even out the egg mixture, and shook his head, laughing. “Dude, I’m not neat by nature. I’m neat by necessity. Trust me, one of the things I’m looking forward to most after the Olympics? Besides being able to eat anything I damn well please? It’s getting in touch with my inner slob.”

“Well, then, we’ll get along fine.”

“I think I might pass on the idea of moving in, then,” Maria announced, reaching for her coffee cup.

“Really?”

“Well, no one’s asked me yet, anyway. But a pair of slobby bachelors? Ugh. Think I’ll keep my own place for a while longer.”

“And if somebody did ask you?” Sam added suggestively.

“Then somebody might want to think about waiting a while.”

“Well, somebody can join me to eat – enough with the hypotheticals. Let’s get real with food, huh?” Steve asked, adding Sam’s omelet to his plate. He’d already plated his own, and now he turned off the stove, joining Sam and Maria at the table.

Maria chewed thoughtfully for a moment, and then shook her head. “Well, no, I think there are some hypotheticals that deserve examination. Like that … beautiful boy who sang to you last night. Explain to me why you’re having breakfast with your roommate and his … um, friend who’s a girl, I think you called me, Sam? Why us and not him?”

“I barely know him. He just got into town a coupla days ago –“

“So?” Maria asked around a mouth full of eggs.

“So, Steve here isn’t exactly out, Maria,” Sam pointed out gently, side-eying his roommate.

“Seriously?”

“There’s this … stereotype, I guess. That male skaters are gay. Y’know, like male dancers are gay. And I just … I don’t wanna be a cliché, I guess, and …”

“You realize that’s total bullshit, right?”

“Huh?”

“Look, I get the idea of privacy, of not sharing your sexuality with the world. That’s your choice and nobody else’s. But when you deny yourself to yourself, it’s not the healthiest way to deal with your sexuality, Steve.”

“I’ve been telling him pretty much the same thing.”

“So what, this is gang up on Steve day? I just made you breakfast!”

“And it’s really good, Steve. Really good. But, you know, this is your choice. Be honest with yourself about why you don’t want to be out. Pretty sure your friends will stick with you no matter what. Your fans, too.”

“My fans want me to marry Peggy and make pretty ice babies.”

“That’s why you don’t wanna come out? Because your fans won’t approve?”

“No, it’s not that, it’s just that … I’m a grown-ass man.”

“Yeah?”

“I’m in my twenties.”

“Yeah?”

“And I’ve never …”

“Oh. Oh, well, that’s okay. Lots of people wait. It’s okay to be a virgin, Steve.”

“No, it’s not, well, yes, I am, but … I’ve never dated. I don’t know how.”

“At last, something I can actually help with!” Sam exulted, sharing a high-five with Maria while Steve seemed to shrink in on himself.

&&&


Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 2h
ne news peggy costumes?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 100m
srsly dude its been like 2 seconds

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 90m
you mentioned music – is she gonna do pinup girl?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 85m
patience young padewan all will b revealed. later.


“Yes, darling, I’m settling in. You know that Sharon is a great roommate. It’s nice to have some stability for a bit. I miss you, though.”

“I don’t know why you can train down here, Peg. Aren’t there any ice rinks in DC?”

“I’m sure there must be, but they’re not a world class ice training center like Sayresbury. And besides, we’ve been training here for ten years. It’s like coming home. All my friends are here, Daniel.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s just … I don’t like being so far apart. I asked about a transfer to the New York office, but there aren’t any openings in my grade. Most people want to trade up to the home office – I just wanna be closer to you, babe.”

Peggy touched her fingers to the space just under her neck, smiling a pained little smile. She hadn’t known that Daniel had looked into an assignment closer to where she and Steve trained. To be honest, she hadn’t realized that Daniel missed her that much.

“You know it’s just for one more season, right, darling? After the Olympics, Steve and I will tour if we have the option, and then we’re done. He’ll finish his art therapy degree, and I … well, there must be something someone who can speak, read, and write seven different languages can do in Washington, DC. Don’t you think?”

“Seriously, Peg? You’re really gonna be ready to retire?”

“Of course. Why do you think I wouldn’t be?”

“Oh, you know.”

“Daniel, have you been following the blogs again? You know that’s not good for your blood pressure.”

“And Twitter.”

“Oh, God, well, that explains everything. Daniel, darling, the Twitterverse is a collection of primary school fantasies. Tumblr, too. My God, have you seen some of the fanart they do?”

“Yeah, Peg, I have. And it’s pretty damned specific.”

“It is all imagination, and you know it. But some of my costumes have been revealing enough that a reasonable approximation can be made. But that’s all it is, my darling. Imagination run wild.”

“I’m afraid that some of those fans might come after me. For getting in the way of their precious Steggy.”

“Well. That’s something that we might be able to deal with in the not so distant future, I think. You see, our Steven has found someone.”

“Steve’s out?”

“Not quite yet, but I expect soon.”

“Who’s the guy? Want me to do a background check?”

“Well, that might not be a bad idea, but discreetly, darling. Discreetly. We wouldn’t want to scare the young man off, and you know what Steve can be like. But I think this one might be worthwhile. He’s a lovely young man on the Russian team –“

“Captain America is dating a Russian?”

“Well, not dating yet. And I understand that Barnes is American, too. Dual citizenship, apparently. He has his own issues to deal with in the motherland. As far as I know, he’s not out, either. But Daniel – the sparks those two strike off each other. I’ve never seen Steve like this. It gives me hope.”

“Hope?”

“That he’ll be happy when I leave him, darling.”

Daniel was silent for a long moment, and Peggy worried that she’d said something wrong. Then Daniel, God love him, said, “You’re trying to make sure he has a support network when your partnership is over.”

“We’ve been together more than half our lives, Daniel. Since juniors, when my father was assigned to the British Consulate in New York. We’ve grown up together. There’s nothing romantic between us, but in many ways, ‘Steggy’ is real in that we do love each other. But it’s time for us to each love someone else, to the fullest measure.”

“And this helps with the fans because … ?”

“I hope they’ll soon be replacing ‘Steggy’ with ‘Stucky’ in their hearts. If Steve and Barnes really do have the something special the rest of us see, and they let themselves have it, well. Only the hardest heart could be against something so remarkable.”

“I’ll start that background check on Monday when I’m back in the office. And check your schedule – I’d like to come up for a visit sometime soon. See Steve. Meet Barnes myself.”

“That would be wonderful, darling. And oh, I’ll ask Steve if they’ve got room at his place for you. He’s sharing a house with Sam Wilson, our new physical therapist.”

“Um, I can’t stay with you?”

“Oh, of course you can! It’s a bit cozy, but yes, darling, I’d love for you to stay with us. Let me just confirm with Sharon – just be a mo.”

Peggy stuck her head out in the hallway linking the bedrooms on the second floor and called out to her cousin to confirm she could invite Daniel to stay the weekend. Her cousin not only confirmed, but put in a request of her own.

“Sharon says you are welcome any time. Doubly so if you show up with Agent Thompson in tow. Apparently Sharon’s got a bit of a pash for your partner.”

“He’s not my partner, but he kinda likes her back. Yeah, sure, I’ll see what he has to say. And Peg? I love you.”

“I love you too, Daniel,” she answered, smiling. “I love you so very much, darling.”

&&&


Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 22m
Omg! Just saw Sasha Barnes! OMG! He is pretteh.

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 21m
super nice too

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 20m
get a selfie!!!! get it!!!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 19m
down kitten hes here all summer


The center was surprisingly busy when Bucky arrived a little before noon. He frowned as he crossed the lobby, dodging and sidestepping screaming children, texting teenagers, and frustrated-looking parents. The lobby was a mass of cacophony, almost painful in its volume and variety of sounds. He found himself ducking into the Snack Shack and found a moment of unexpected quiet there as Darcy spun and danced within her domain, serving up smoothies, burgers, and fries like a fast food dervish.

“Hey, Bucky Bear! Come in for a public session?”

“I’m sorry, a what?”

“Saturday and Sunday the rinks are open for public sessions. Usually the athletes take the weekend off, so we open the rinks to anyone with the cash. Come summer, people love letting us foot the bill for the AC that keeps the ice solid. You’re not one of those OCD types, are you?”

“OCD?”

“Obsessive compulsive disorder. Can you loosen up?”

He nodded, still looking around him worriedly at the swirl of small people and harried adults. He was starting to regret leaving Natasha back in the apartment with free rein over his Netflix account.

Darcy grinned widely at him, and that made him feel immediately less anxious. “You’ll fit in, then. What can I do for you?”

“I wanted to work out, work on some stretches,” he answered, rolling his left shoulder to indicate its stiffness.

“Ah, well, the workout rooms are free. Nobody who isn’t an Olympic level athlete wants to spend such a pretty day in a sweaty old workout room. You’re in luck, no one’s here today, so you’ve got your pick of the litter. Wanna coffee?”

He’d already had a couple of cups, back at the apartment, and then with Natasha at the diner. Anymore coffee, and he’d have the jitters and a sour stomach to contend with. He shook his head. “Bottle of water?”

She spun again, snapped open the refrigerator case, and suddenly a cold bottle of water was lobbing its way toward him. He caught it deftly and went to dig out his wallet. She waved him off. “On the house. Today. But swing back before you go, huh? When it’s quieter. I got questions.”

“Questions?” he repeatedly nervously.

“Questions,” she winked and nodded sagely at him. “Head down to the gym wing. Check in with Thor and let him know what room you’re gonna use.”

“Thor?”

“Big, muscly, blonde guy. Owns the place. We just need to know where you are for safety reasons. Plus, he’s a fun dude. You met his wife last night.”

“Um …?”

“Jane. Dr. Jane Foster, astrophysicist and a bunch of other things. She sang back-up with me and my dude, and Ms. Peggy Carter. Jane’s my best bud from college. Thor’s got some alphabet soup of his own, in, um, quantum physics and shit.”

“So how’d he end up owning a figure skating training center?”

“Pretty sure strip poker was involved. So, go say hi. I gotta feed the hordes!”

&&&


Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 59m
no weekend practices? bummer thats when I have time to travel

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 45m
sry l8er in summer some may choose to do weekends but don’t count on it

Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 40m
do they eat at center or go out? any chance random encounter

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 37m
food is graet at ctr why wd they want go anywhreelse?


Bucky wandered down the corridor leading to the workout rooms – rooms fitted with combinations of barres, floor mats, weights, treadmills, and other fitness equipment – savoring the sudden and enveloping quiet. As soon as he’d passed through the door separating the fitness section from the frantic world of the lobby, it was like he’d stepped through a portal to another land. He figured he’d try out the room furthest from the melee for maximum privacy, but first he had to locate the mysterious Thor.

He found him in the office directly across from the room he’d thought he’d use, and he felt a stab of disappointment that the furthest flung room was the closest to the center’s owner. He’d have to double-back to find a spot that offered the privacy he craved.

Thor was a big guy. Like, gargantuan big. Larger than life big. Special effects big. And breathtakingly gorgeous. His muscles looked like they’d been carved from divine marble by a godly hand, and his face was equally otherworldly, framed in a halo of messy dirty blonde hair pulled back from his face and anchored in an untidy bun.

But the most striking thing about the man wasn’t his looks or his size. It was his grace, as he moved to a soundtrack only he could hear – literally, Bucky could see the wires trailing from the earbuds in his ears – shuffling, gliding, pirouetting, leaping. You’d think the office would be too small for such shenanigans, but his spatial awareness was flawless as he danced, eyes closed, limbs loose, spirit free.

Bucky hated to interrupt so joyous a moment, so he just leaned against the door jamb and watched until the song and the dance came to an end. Bucky couldn’t help himself, he started clapping furiously as soon as Thor stopped moving, and the big man snatched his earbuds away and grinned wide, bowing.

“Thank you, kind sir!” he boomed at Bucky with that impossibly wider grin, and Bucky couldn’t help but grin back. “You must be one of the Russian skaters, yes?” He surged forward, hand thrust out toward Bucky.

Bucky hesitated a second, then met Thor’s open palm with his gloved hand. Thor pumped it, then held Bucky’s hand a moment longer, turning it over to look appraisingly at the back of the hand. “Injury?”

Bucky felt the small intake of breath. People weren’t usually so forward about their curiousity. He felt something uncoil in him, and he nodded, holding up his left hand. “Burns.”

“You needn’t feel the need to cover them here, friend. None will judge you, and none will discomfit you.”

“I, uh –“

“Or, you may leave them on if it makes you feel better. But don’t feel you need to cover up to spare anyone the sight of your truth. Now, Russian skater with American accent … you are the Bucky my fair wife met last night, yes? She spoke highly of your voice and performance quality. I am sorry I missed the show last night, but I was travelling. You’ll perform again? I would love to hear you sing. And I understand you challenged young Rogers to sing as well! My lady Jane thoroughly enjoyed singing backup for him. Well, you’re here to work out, yes? Let’s get you sorted. Across the hall okay?”

Bucky nodded, suddenly feeling like it really was. Maybe privacy wasn’t as important as understanding. Maybe hiding wasn’t as important as being seen. With a smile at Thor, he started to tug off the gloves, arching his eyebrow in question to the big man. Thor simply smiled at him with a delighted look, and Bucky found his hands free in public for the first time in many years.

Thor glanced at Bucky’s left hand and his eyes widened. “May I?” he asked, his voice low and reverent.

Bucky inclined his head and extended his hand, exposing the intricate design of silvery interlocking plates, a mechanical hand covering the extensive burns that scarred his flesh.

“It is remarkable. All the more so in that it makes art out of hurt. How far up does it go?”

“Shoulder up to the scapular.”

“And you hide it why?”

“It’s ugly. And tattoos … they are not approved by the Russian people. Tattooed flesh means you are gay or criminal, bratva, um, mafia. Not someone to represent the country in sport.”

“Ah, yes. I am sorry. It is difficult to let go when you must hide. Back here, there is no social media. Fans cannot enter. It is a safe zone, yeah? You don’t have to hide here.”

Bucky chuffed out a breath of air. The idea of not hiding, even a small part of himself, was novel and intoxicating.

“You haven’t asked how it happened.”

“You’ll tell me if you choose. My job is to make you feel comfortable, to be able to train and reach your goals. Fulfill your potential. If telling me how the scarring came about helps you get there, I am happy to listen. I will admit I might be more interested in learning how you came upon the design, for it is especially interesting to me professionally – when I am not running the skating center, I work in quantum physics, but for a hobby, I am a robotics engineer.”

Bucky felt himself tense up, a flare of cold worry slicing through his bowels. No, he wasn’t ready yet for that. But he smiled wanly at Thor and nodded. “Maybe I’ll get there.”

“Yes. And there is no less honor if you don’t. Come, let us get you set-up. You’ll need a locker, an access code, and supplies. Let‘s go.”

&&&


Kill U with my Thighs @romanovaqueen 45m
No nat siting tday?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 44m
weekend

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 30m
not cheering on Sasah?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 29m
wweknd


The room that Thor ushered him to – the one he’d originally coveted – was perfect for his needs – barre on one side, pulley weights on the other, rings hanging from the ceiling, and a firm but forgiving mat in the center. No big equipment, but the equipment he was looking for. He smiled to himself, pulled out his phone and queued up his favorite music, positioned his earbuds, and looked critically at the long-sleeve t-shirt he wore. Thor had seen his hand, and he’d expressed curiosity and wonder, not judgment and revulsion. He wasn’t ready to expose the arm in all its peculiar glory, but he was ready, around Thor, to roll up his sleeves, figuratively and literally. It was with a sense of rebellion that Bucky shoved his left sleeve up to just below his elbow, and thumbed on the music.

To the strains of Born This Way, Bucky began to work the barre.

&&&


Quad Lutz Groopie @skating_squee 5m
Weekends are boring. Need fix.

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 3m
Youtube for reals


Bucky’s muscles burned and ached, mostly the good kind, the kind that told you you’d worked hard and made progress. His left shoulder still twinged, still felt off, and he frowned as he rotated the arm, feeling gently at the muscles and tissue around his shoulder joint.

“It bothers you more,” Thor said suddenly, and Bucky nearly fell in surprise. “Sorry, I did knock. You were lost in the music, no doubt.”

Bucky pulled the earbuds out and blushed heatedly as he nodded at Thor. “What’s up?”

“We will be closing in a half hour, and I thought you’d prefer to shower here rather than drive home crusted in sweat. Perspiration can be acidic, and have a deleterious effect on vehicle upholstery, as well.”

“Huh?”

“Sweat can stain the seats.”

“Oh. Yeah, it’s not my car. Shower it is.”

“And talk to Sam tomorrow. I’ll leave him a note to expect you.”

“Okay, um, thanks. Hey, is Darcy still here?”

“She is closing up the snack bar and setting the place to rights. Why?”

“She said she had questions for me.”

“Ah. I’d better show you the back exit then. When Darcy has questions, good rarely comes from them.”

Bucky nodded his thanks, then hurried off to shower. He was happy for an opportunity to sidestep Darcy the Inquisitor.

&&&


From Tumblr
Sayresbury Watch – 2017 Training Season, week 2!
And we’re back! The first full week of training starts today as the teams start to settle in here at Sayresbury. Gonna try to pick up some candids to share as the team tries out the facilities and sees just how great they are. Darcy is thinking about adding some new smoothies to the menu in honor of the Russian contingent. Ideas for names much appreciated!

SashaB is bae @robarnes4life 22m
bananabarnes

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 21m
russian wet draem

Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 20m
Ugh whocares?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 19m
Shd I sweeten it with discounts on gala tix?

Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 18m
Ill have 20 ideas for u in 10 mins


Bucky spent Sunday at the apartment, a damp towel wrapped around a heatpad shoved under his shirt. Misha dropped by to talk about the training schedule, and noticed the lumpy mass over Bucky’s left shoulder, and shook his head. When Bucky asked about borrowing the car to go see Sam before the other skaters arrive on Monday, Misha glanced at Bucky’s shoulder and nodded. “I hear good things about Wilson,” he commented, and slid his extra set of keys across to Bucky.

Monday morning, Bucky got up early to get in the car to go to the center, and found Victor sitting on the apartment building steps, toying with his phone. Victor wanted to get to the center to work out before Yuri got there, because he was convinced that Yuri didn’t know that he had to work to keep his figure the way it was. But he wasn’t sure how to get a cab in this backwater place, and the face that Victor turned up toward Bucky was sad, pathetic, and so very extra. So, purely Nikiforov.

Bucky couldn’t help but laugh at that and tell Victor to get in.

They were just settled in the seats, arguing over the radio station, when Yuri came dancing down the front steps of the building, trotting over to a stand of trees that masked the complex trash and recycle bins. On the other side sat a car. And in that car, sat Steve Rogers. Looking far better than anyone should at asscrack o’clock. And Yuri pounded his fist on the hood of the car and waved to Steve Rogers, then jumped in the passenger seat. A beat later, the car pulled quietly out of the lot. Bucky had to admit that a Prius was a good choice for an early morning stealth mission.

But Bucky definitely hadn’t had enough coffee to handle the sputtering, hissing, keening mess beside him. He was definitely not on board for the fists pounding on his right arm, or the wail that started deep in the seat next to him and spun up into a piercing shriek.

“Calm the fuck down, Victor! And keep it down. I can’t drive when I’ve got a grenade going off beside me. Yuri is not cheating on you! Buckle up, we’re tailing them,” Bucky announced, putting the car in gear and practically pulling a donut right there in the parking lot to chase after Steve and Yuri.

Steve had several car lengths’ lead on them, but Bucky could be lead-footed when he wanted to be, so it wasn’t long before he closed the gap and was practically tail-gating Steve’s Prius. Misha’s car was a rental, and a more conventional car at that, but Bucky had to admit he appreciated the lack of exhaust going up his nose as he practically drove his vehicle up Steve’s tailpipe.

They didn’t have far to travel before they were at the center, and Bucky slotted his car right next to Steve’s at the front door. He hadn’t even turned off the ignition before Victor was out of his seatbelt and erupting out of the car toward the other car. Yuri got out, spied Victor, and vaulted over the sloped nose of the car, grabbing Steve by the wrist as his feet hit the ground.

“Hi, Buck,” Steve started to greet with a frown, but Yuri snagged him by the wrist, and they were off and running.

Bucky waved toward Steve’s rapidly retreating back – and what an impressive expanse that was – as Victor stomped toward him, and caught Bucky’s wrist in a vice grip, racing after them. Bucky didn’t even have a chance to close the car door before he was running maniacally around the center’s buildings, through the manicured walkways, and making toward a thick stand of trees at the edge of the property.

They broke through the trees – and it felt like some of the trees were breaking through Bucky’s skin, trying to trip him, and otherwise further ruin his morning. Then suddenly the trees fell away, revealing an expanse of lawn stretching from the edge of the trees, down a slope toward what looked like the high school running track in the distance.

Yuri spied it, grinned at Steve, and peeled off, leaving Steve to tumble down the hill a bit until he halted his fall and just thudded to the ground there, legs splayed, gasping and laughing,

Bucky felt Victor release his wrist as Victor chased down the hill after his fiancé. A moment later, Bucky walked over to Steve, rubbing at his wrist, and dropped down into the grass beside him, chest heaving.

“What the hell?” Bucky gasped out.

“I didn’t realize we were so close to the high school. That’s a nice looking track.”

“You got something against walking?”

“I like to run. It’s good cardio. That’s going to be an interesting marriage,” Steve nodded toward the pair racing around the track, Yuri still well ahead with a comfortable lead.

“Victor thinks something’s going on, y’know. Between you and Yuri.”

“Victor knows that Yuri and I started running together. What, he thinks we’re doing something kinky? What’s Victor’s excuse for being with you?”

“He’s working out behind Yuri’s back so Yuri won’t know that Victor’s not naturally perfect.”

“Yeah, that sounds like Victor. And Yuri knows, he just lets Victor think he’s pulling one over on him.”

“Match made in heaven.”

“Yeah, they kinda are goals, y’know?” Steve levered himself to his feet, and looked down, holding out his hand to Bucky.

It was closest to Bucky’s left hand, but his shoulder was really aching this morning, so he grabbed Steve’s hand with his right, an awkward crossover that brought him lurching to his feet, stumbling against Steve. He put out his left hand to grab Steve’s arm, and Steve’s left arm curled around his torso to stabilize him. It was weirdly and enticingly intimate, their lips just inches apart, and their bodies heating the slim space between them. Steve’s arm felt like steel and heat around Bucky’s waist, and the urge to fall further against him and let his hands slide over the plush flesh of his chest, slot his mouth over Steve’s, was almost overpowering. Almost. Bucky drew back jerkily, muttering, “Thanks, sorry.”

Steve lifted his hands up in surrender, then glanced back at the track where Victor was still chasing after Yuri, the young Japanese athlete nimbly keeping out of arms’ reach of the Russian champion. “Hah. Yuri told me when Victor was first coaching him, he had to drop a lot of weight. So he used to run around Hasetsu where he lived with a knapsack full of rocks. Pretty sure he can stay ahead of Victor. Pretty much forever, if he wants to.”

“Especially since running is not Victor’s thing,” Bucky agreed, grateful for the distraction, and pretty sure that Steve came up with it just for him, not because he had any real interest in the hijinks of the Katsuki-Nikiforovs.

“Yeah. Think I might give the track a try. You?”

“Um, no. I’m hoping to see your friend, Sam. Thor told me I should have him look at my shoulder –“

“Thor? You met Thor? In your first week here? Took me three years of training before I finally met the legendary Dr. Odinson. Wow. He’s kind of a mythical beast around here. Hardly ever around. He and his wife – Jane, Dr. Foster, you met her Friday night – they both work at MIT, like super-genius quantum physicists. They don’t have a lot of time for the center, so Darcy pretty much has free reign.”

“What’s Darcy’s connection to two mad scientists?”

“She was Jane’s friend and then her intern, but after Jane teamed up with Thor, she had access to his team. So, apparently they bought the center for Darcy to run. Plus Jane was an amateur skater when she was young, and Thor’s got an Olympic medal somewhere. Seriously.” Then Steve looked at Bucky more seriously. “Are you in a lot of pain?”

“Sorry, what?”

“To see Sam. He’s a wizard in his own right. I had a strained roto-cuff last season. He worked his magic on it, and I ended up not missing any competitions. We were even able to do a couple of shows with the Stars on Ice tour after the season ended, all thanks to Sam.”

“Good to know. Maybe I need to get some of that magic now. If I’m going to beat your ass this season.”

“You keep thinkin’ that, Barnes. It’s good to have a dream, even if it’s gonna get dashed soon,” Steve told him with a grin, starting to shift downhill. “Tell Sam I said he should give you the works, okay?” He turned and trotted a few feet down before pausing and turning back to Bucky. “Hey, Barnes, you do hoops?”

“Huh?”

“Basketball. You shoot hoops?”

“Baseball’s more my thing. Or football – what you call soccer.”

“Baseball. I can work with that. We’ll toss some balls – it’ll be good for strengthening your shoulder. Okay?”

“Yeah, yeah sure.”

Steve nodded and grinned at him, then turned and started running down the slope toward the track, where Victor was still trailing behind his fiancé, who had started running backward and taunting the ice star.

Steve wanted to play ball with him. Was that a bros kind of thing, or a let’s make it a date kind of thing?

Part of Bucky was convinced it was a bros thing, but another part of him thrilled at the idea it might be a date thing. Truth be told, an awfully big part of him hoped for the date kind of thing.

&&&

Chapter Text


Eros @yuurifan 56m
True that yuri k runs naked evry day?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 55m
The internet is a weird place. No, not true.

Eros @yuurifan 54m
What abt viktor n?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 54m
Pretty sure victor doesn’t run at all. Cant say for naked.

Hes mine u cant have him @mrsrogers 53m
What about steeeeb?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 52m
Srsly nobody is naked near ice.


Bucky would be lying if he said he didn’t turn frequently on his trek back up the hillside, that he wasn’t watching Steve Rogers’s impeccable ass moving in those snugly fit jeans. And he’d be lying if he claimed he didn’t pause at the crest of the hill, just by where the treeline began, to watch Steve stretch on the the grass inside the track, before he started trotting forward, gaining speed, long legs pumping, arms pistoning, head held high as he rocketed around the track. He lapped Victor, and joined up with Yuri, who laughed and clapped with delight as he fell in step with the American. Bucky swore he could see the steam shooting from Victor’s ears and nostrils as he ducked his head down and tried to force his body to move faster. Yuri turned around, saw him gaining, and paused to do a little dance before sprinting ahead again.

Victor was going to be one tired champion.

Yuri was going to be one groused-at fiancé.

The make-up sex was likely to be apocalyptic. He was glad they had their own damned apartment, and that he didn’t share the wall with them. Let Dobrin and Plisetsky deal with the wall pounding. Ugh, Plisetsky was an angry old man in a child’s body – a champion’s body, but still. Maybe Bucky should recommend a room swap so Dobrin’s roommate was more age appropriate to share a wall with the Katsuki-Nikiforovs. Then again, Plisetsky could get really creative with the swearing, so the entertainment value of the current arrangement could not be denied. And technically, now he’d turned 16, he was at the age of consent. Nah, let ‘im stew … it’d be hilarious.

Honestly, Bucky just hoped that the reward at the end of this race was worthwhile for them both. They might be a little odd, but it was clear they adored each other. It was the kind of relationship that Bucky wished for himself – someone to love him just as he was, without asking for changes to suit them, someone who could be themselves without filter.

He hoped he could be that kind of lover back, that he could accept everything about the person he loved, be supportive and still find ways to laugh and be spontaneous. He wouldn’t mind someone who was also gorgeous and great in bed (not that he had any comparator), but the looks and the sex were well beyond secondary. He just wanted to finally be himself, without reservation, and for his partner to be equally free.

Was that so much to ask?

Finally, he turned away and pushed his way back through the trees. There were a lot more of them than he’d realized as he’d crashed headlong through them earlier, attached to Victor Fucking Nikiforov. He glanced down at himself and realized he’d picked up some vegetation during their chase, and looking around to confirm there was no one about, he tugged off his right glove and patted down his hair.

Sure enough, there were twigs and leaves stuck haphazardly throughout his do – he looked like a frigging tree boy, all the better to seduce Steve Rogers. Fuck his life sideways. He might as well just give up and accept his future as a bitter old lonely gentleman, the type of guy who spent his dotage pruning his plants and petting his cats and screaming at kids to get off of his lawn, the type the neighbors looked at sadly and shook their heads over a wasted life.

Yeah, that was his future. Starring Bucky Barnes, fucking drama queen. He was already spending too much time with Victor, and they’d only just got here.

But right now? His present? He was dealing with this damned shoulder. And maybe he could find out something more about Steve Frigging Rogers from his goddamned roommate. Grumpily, feeling besieged by a world that put a perfect Steve Rogers in the same place as his ungainly, leafy self, he tugged his glove back on and stalked through the trees, around the center to the front door, passed by the snack bar without a glance (he could hear Darcy woo-hooing to him, offering free coffee and assorted pastries if he’d just stop and gossip), and made his way to the medical suite and Sam Bloody Wilson.

&&&


SashaB is bae @robarnes4life 22m
Any sasha sightings?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 21m
He endorses our smoothies

SashaB is bae @robarnes4life 20m
You give them out for free?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 19m
Only to ppl I like


In the next ten minutes, Bucky learned that the center took the physical well-being of its clientele very seriously. In addition to the support staff, the medical suite included a permanent nurse on staff, a masseuse, GP, orthopedic, and chiropractic doctors on call 24/7, all with privileges at Sayresbury Memorial, and in addition to the PT intern who’d start their practicum in another week or so, Sam Wilson, who acted as both physical therapist, and counselor, having completed his coursework, practicum, and final certifications in both fields. His philosophy was, he told Bucky, the mind-body connection was everything. You can’t treat one if you’re not paying attention to the other. He apparently also had training in acupuncture, reiki, and a smattering of chiropracty, enough to judge that someone would be better served with a proper chiropractic adjustment by a properly licensed chiropractor.

And according to Steve, this man worked miracles. Bucky was prepared to believe.

He wasn’t, however, prepared for the way that Sam greeted him.

Sam took one look at Bucky’s dishevelment, which was still very much apparent despite Bucky’s efforts to erase the damage, and Sam grinned that wide, gap-toothed grin, the smile that made you feel like you’d won the lottery, passed all your exams, and just got awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, all in one. He reached out and plucked a twig Bucky had somehow missed, and glanced at it, tossing it into the trashcan. “Please tell me that Steve was involved, along with kissing and declarations of undying love.”

“Um, Steve was involved, but the kissing and declarations of love are probably still chasing each other around the high school track.”

“Sorry?”

“Victor and Yuri dragged each of us through the trees to the high school property, then left us to chase each other around the track.”

“So, you and Steve didn’t talk?”

“He asked me to toss balls, does that count?”

“Balls?”

“Baseballs.”

“Forget I said anything.”

“Are you telling me that Steve Rogers is gay?”

“I can neither confirm or deny – it’s not my story to tell.”

“You kind of let the cat out of the bag, Wilson. With your assumptions, I mean.”

“I have a vivid imagination. And a girlfriend who ships everyone. You came to see about your shoulder. Let’s see it.”

“It’s right here.”

“I need to actually see it, touch it.”

“Hmm,” Bucky replied doubtfully, but he grudgingly removed his jacket. It was hot anyway. Early June in Connecticut wasn’t necessarily hot, but it was warming up, and being covered so much often led to being overheated.

“Shirt, too,” Sam prompted, nodding toward Bucky’s long-sleeve t-shirt.’

“No.”

“Yes.”

“I don’t expose my arm.”

“Why?”

“It’s not attractive.”

“I’m not interested in dating you, Barnes. I’m here to help. And I can’t help if I can’t see and touch.”

“Do you know someone who is interested in dating me, Wilson?”

“You two need to talk to each other. Use your actual words and stop involving the rest of us all in your drama.”

“I’ve only been here five days. What drama have I caused?”

“Jesus, just talk to Steve, will ya? And get that shirt off – I need to examine you properly if I’m gonna help. I’m not gonna cop a feel, and if you’re worried about cold hands, I tend to run hot, so no worries there,” Sam added, wrapping his hand around Bucky’s wrist to demonstrate. “See?”

Sam’s hand was in fact very warm. So no cold extremities. Nice. Still … “I don’t like to expose my arm,” Bucky admitted quietly.

“Thor’s note said that. But I really do need to be able to examine it properly if I’m to help you. And God’s honest truth, Barnes? I want to help you. I’m good at it. You need my help, or you wouldn’t be here. I can see around your eyes that you’re in pain. So let me do my job, okay? This is a safe zone. Whatever’s going on with you, it stays in this room. Okay?”

Bucky studied him for a long moment, and finally decided that what he saw in the man’s eyes was sincerity. Sighing, he nodded. The only people who ever saw Bucky Barnes’s upper torso and left arm were his doctors and his tattoo artist. And since the arm piece had been completed years ago, that left only his doctors, and he hadn’t seen them since before Russian Nationals this past season.

He understood Wilson’s request, but he felt small and exposed and even a little betrayed. Thor had said this would be a safe space, and Bucky didn’t feel safe at all …

Wilson’s hand, warm and steady settled on his right shoulder, and concerned eyes met his. “You wanna talk about it?”

“What?”

“Why you don’t want to expose your arm?”

“It’s ugly.”

“It’s an arm. How ugly can it be?”

“It’s scarred.”

“Ah. Thor said it’s also tattooed?”

“To mask the scar.”

“And is that what’s giving you trouble? The scar?”

“Not completely. The skin is tight, but the pain, it’s in the joint.”

“Okay. Look, I get it. I do, Barnes. I’m not asking you to take your shirt off and parade around the center. We’re in a closed room, no one can see in. I want to help you, and I need you to work with me so I can do that. I’m going to feel around the shoulder through your shirt, but if I tell you again I need you to take it off, I’m gonna need you to do that, okay?”

Bucky nodded glumly. He closed his eyes tightly, and waited, braced for impact, for Wilson to touch his shoulder.

The touch was surprisingly gentle, softly probing, questing, reassuring even as his fingers pressed against his clothed skin.

“Burns?” Sam asked softly.

Bucky nodded.

“Skin grafts?”

Again, Bucky nodded. “Experimental. They helped the burns heal, but they did not heal cleanly.”

“No, I can feel keloiding. Your system overcompensated in generating new tissue. So the tattoo masks the scars?”

“The design incorporates the scars, makes them part of the flow.”

“That sounds amazing. May I ask you how you received such extensive burns? Industrial accident?”

“Fire.”

“How old were you?”

“Ten.”

“So when something like that happened to you, you just raced right in?”

Bucky shrugged. “There were kids littler than me who needed help.”

“Yeah, course there were. And what – falling debris got you?” Bucky nodded. “You and Steve are made for each other, y’know? That sounds like something he’d do. Only he carries his scars where no one can see them, too. What’re you gonna do after skating, hmm?”

“I’ve been training to be an EMT.”

“Steve wants to be an art therapist. Hell, you stick around, the three of us could go into practice together,” Sam chuckled softly. Bucky found himself relaxing a bit, and smiled at Sam. Going into practice with friends. Having friends. Yes, he wanted that. “Well, it feels like the skin could use some moisturizing – it feels tough, leathery. As for the joint, I don’t feel anything out of place. There’s definitely inflammation going on, though – I can feel the heat, even through your shirt. I’d like to recommend a soak in the whirlpool, and a deep tissue massage to start. And moisturize the shoulder, neck, and arm. All of those things are gonna have to be done without the shirt.”

Bucky stared wordlessly at Sam, and Sam smirked, tilting his head to the side as he said, “Silent treatment don’t work on me. My Mama’s got you beat, Barnes. If I can withstand the Look from Mama Wilson, Bucky Barnes doesn’t stand a chance.”

“The whirlpool – is it private?”

“I can make sure it is. Ditto the masseuse. Dottie doesn’t like people traipsing through her domain, anyway. Says it harshes her mellow, and disaligns her chakras or some such bullshit, whatever the hell that means. We can put together a schedule so you can get the treatment you need, where no one can see. But first, the shirt’s gotta go.”

Resigned, Bucky nodded. “Okay. Just this once.”

“No, I think we need to do this every day for at least a week, see how it progresses. Come in early, get it all done before the hordes descend. You gonna give Nikiforov a ride every day?” Bucky shrugged. He hadn’t really thought about it. This was the first Monday he was at the center. “Well, my point is, anyone else who’s here at this time of day has their own agenda, their own thing. Physical therapy is gonna be yours for a while. Okay?”

&&&


Kill U with my Thighs @romanovaqueen 2h
Any gossip for RoBarnes routines?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 2h
Dude they just got here

Kill U with my Thighs @romanovaqueen 2h
You had steggy’s

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 2h
Overherd, my dude, overheard. Romanova and Barnes aint talkin


The morning passed quickly. Sam was right about the soak, the massage, and the moisturizing. After an intensive session, his shoulder felt looser, more nimble, and far less painful than he could remember it being in a long time. He started his warm-ups with a renewed vigor and confidence, and Natasha noticed it as soon as she arrived to start her day. She thrust a paper bag full of warm scones and those little pots of butter he liked into his hands as soon as she was in the practice room. “If I know you, you haven’t properly fueled for the day, so eat. You’re looking good,” she added, nodding toward his shoulder.

“Sam helped.”

“Good. Keep at it.”

“Let’s try that platter lift.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously.”

She grinned at him, piled her things in the corner of the room, and took a running start at him, leaping as she came closer to him. He caught her around the torso and deftly brought her body over his head until she was perfectly parallel to the ground. Laughing, he spun her in place for several rotations before reaching up for her hand with his left, and balancing her on his right. She shifted so she was standing on his shoulders, then seemed to jump away, only to cross her legs around his neck and drop down. With a flip in the air, he was putting her back on her feet, still holding her hand with his left.

“Better. I feel more centered that time. Again!”

&&&


SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 17m
Pix?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 16m
Ill try gonna ask for group photo op

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 15m
Closeups. Extreme closeups.

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 13m
Its all in the lens


Eventually, Bucky and Natasha transitioned to the ice. Misha had decided to stay back at the complex, working on music selections and playing with choreography ideas on paper. Basically, he refused to take the bus, and didn’t see the point in taxis or Uber where he actually had a rental car. Bucky realized that if he was going to do these early morning physical therapy sessions, he was going to have to come up with a better plan for transportation that didn’t involve emptying his bank account entirely.

But not having Misha to curtail their antics meant that today’s practice felt more like the early days when he and Natasha first met at their first rink. They’d played on the ice, the little girl with the flaming red hair, and the boy with the storm-swept eyes. Chasing, egging each other on, showing off, and just plain alight with the joy of the ice, Bucky and Natasha – Sasha and Natasha – had met on the ice, and found their platonic soulmates, their missing halves. They’d been together ever since. Bucky had told Sam there’d been a fire. He hadn’t mentioned it had been the rink where they’d met, and that Natasha had been one of the children trapped inside that day. There had been no way that Bucky would have allowed her to burn. It would have been like killing a part of himself. They never spoke about it, just recognized at a cellular level how much they meant to each other. Their silence was both Russian stoicism, and louder than the most dramatic declarations of love. It just was, a truth of the universe.

So, this day was like a free day, in which they practiced a little, played a little, raced a little. Shouted their joy at being together and free silently into the void, and simply allowed each other to be. And when Steve and Peggy moved into the practice room overlooking the ice – and didn’t Natasha raise a highly judgmental eyebrow at that development, to which Bucky just shrugged – the silliness just intensified.

For a few minutes, Bucky and Natasha just sat up against the wall at the entrance onto the ice, their legs stretched out in front of them, each sipping at the beverage of their choice. Their relaxed – nay, lazy – posture belied the intensity of their gazes toward the mezzanine window of the practice room where Steve and Peggy were working through an energetic and powerful floor exercise.

“He might have made a good ballet dancer. Although those shoulders would have gotten in the way, I think,” Natasha murmured, sipping at her coffee.

“Those thighs could launch a thousand leaps,” Bucky sighed next to her, sucking at his water bottle. He pulled it away and swiped the back of his hand over his mouth. “Those thighs … my God, Natasha. Those thighs.”

“How anyone assumes you are straight is beyond me,” Natasha observed, not taking her eyes off Steve and Peggy. “Do you see how he reaches to lift her? I like the shape of that. Do you think you could try that on my approach into the lift?”

Bucky leaned forward and narrowed his eyes as he studied the move when they repeated it again a moment later. “Hmm. It’s a strong hold. Very stable lift. Yes, let’s try that.”

So they scrambled to their feet, set their drinks aside, and mimicked the leap and lift that Steve and Peggy did. It didn’t quite gel the first time, so they tried it a couple more times until they were satisfied. Then they started horsing around with the lift, to where Bucky had Natasha suspended over his head with one hand while he pounded his chest like Tarzan, stomping around outside the boards of the rink. Natasha was laughing so loud, and wriggling so much, that Bucky finally had to touch her back down on the ground, where she dissolved into laughter, rolling around on the floor.

“We must do something like that in our gala performance!” she howled. “Big strong man, all brawn, no brains!” she giggled in a terrible fake Russian accent, a parody of her own mother tongue.

He stood there and reached down with his hand to her, saying, “Come. Let us do ice tossing.”

“Ice tossing?”

“Yes, you are small Russian woman, I am big Russian man. I will toss you across the ice like tiny Russian ragdoll,” he responded in an equally silly voice.

“That’s what they think of us, isn’t it? Posturing and funny accents.”

“No, I don’t think so. There’s fur hats and borscht, too. Russian tearooms and bratva. Vodka!”

“Oh, toss me, you big, bad, Russian boy!” Natasha simpered and giggled. “Perhaps I should toss you, instead,” she said, eyes big with glee as she got to her feet.

“That would get the audience’s attention. Let’s work on that for our gala. But for now – ice tossing and waltzes!” Bucky announced, gesturing toward the mezzanine where Steve and Peggy now swirled in a stilted waltz.

There was definitely the one-two-three cadence, but it was jerky and lacking flow, as though one of the pair was counting off awkwardly. “Oh well. He has no rhythm, it’s a good thing he’s pretty,” Natasha giggled.

“He really is,” Bucky breathed enthusiastically before he caught himself.

Natasha curled into Bucky’s embrace, and ran the edge of her hand delicately down the side of his face. “Let yourself be happy, Sasha. Don’t be sad anymore. I am selfish, and I want to see you happy before our Olympic year ends.”

He looked at her, words failing him. Then he smiled softly and drew her into a hug. “I am always happy when I am with you, zolotse. You are my home.”

She returned the embrace, then liberated her hand so she could smack him upside the head. “Then I am kicking you out – get a new home. A better one,” she nodded toward the mezzanine, where Steve and Peggy’s less than stellar waltz had given way to either a seizure, or an awkward but enthusiastic attempt at 1960s surfer dancing. “Oh. That we must do. Come, get your skates on – I want to frug the ice!”

&&&


Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 10m
Gala tix?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 8m
Coming soon

Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 7m
Who will skate?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 5m
All training here who want 2

Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 3m
Sign me up


The afternoon passed as quickly as the morning, punctuated by inspiration, perspiration, and wild creations. Bucky and Natasha were used to practicing with other members of the Russian team, but they’d rarely had the opportunity to spend time around skaters who came from different training traditions, or who experimented across the spectrum quite the way that Steve and Peggy did. It was invigorating and fun.

“We should ask them to share ice with us,” Natasha announced seriously as they were doing their cool-downs. “I think they could bring out the best in us, and we them.”

“They’ve got their eyes on Pyeongchang, too, you know. We’re likely to be going head to head with them this season.”

“As foreplay, it has interesting possibilities,” Natasha smirked at Bucky.

“You’re getting annoying, you know that? So pushy!”

“So looking out for you. And like it or not, I’m not going to stop. In fact, I am planning to mount a campaign with the assistance of my co-conspirators.”

“And they would be?”

“I am thinking Darcy and Peggy. I may have to recruit additional operatives if the mission requires it. I am currently working on infiltrating myself into their confidences. We will make a formidable force in the name of love and get-some for our favorite ice tossers.”

“Ugh!”

But true to her word, Natasha had arranged with Darcy to hang out with the center guru, and get a ride home later with her. That meant that Bucky would be returning Misha’s car to him tonight, and he’d have to start thinking about how he was going to do the early PT sessions, and not monopolize his coach’s vehicle.

Thankfully, the center had those amazing private bathing rooms, so he didn’t have to walk through an open locker room with his arm exposed. After the productive day of messing around and actual practice, he was sweaty and gross, and he really needed to put his shoulder under hot water for a while. Every minute he was here, he thanked Thor and Dr. Jane’s consideration and foresight in making the center a stress-free, inclusive training center. He was definitely getting spoiled.

For example, Bucky had never seen a bathing complex quite like this one. The bathing rooms were gender-neutral, branching off on two sides of a terracotta tiled hallway. Each unit had a solid door, an anteroom for changing with a sink and ample counter space, floor-length mirror, and a comfortable seat, all in terracotta tile, bamboo, and soothing neutral colors, with an attached enclosed shower stall with built-in bench and all the amenities. Fully self-contained, there was no need for gender separation.

Each bathing alcove boasted multiple jets in the wall, rainwater shower head, handheld unit, the works. Steam was vented off to the steam room, filtered and recycled to make use of the resource. Bucky was able to take his time in the shower, then pay some attention to the skin of his neck, shoulder, and arm. He couldn’t reach all the places the therapist did, but he got a lot of them. And he had to admit taking care of the skin was already yielding positive results, just as the shoulder already felt more flexible, stronger.

He was feeling pretty good about his day and his potential future when he walked back out to the parking lot, his kit bag slung over his shoulder. He unlocked the door, tossed his bag in the back, and slid into the driver’s seat, only to be surprised when a silver-haired head suddenly popped up from where it had been resting on its owner’s crossed arms against the passenger side window.

“Oh. You’re here. Do I need to ask how you got into a locked car?”

“It wasn’t locked.”

Bucky scanned back through his memory of the day, and he had to admit he didn’t remember locking the door that morning with all the confusion. In fact, he didn’t remember closing the door, so someone must have done it for him.

“Okay. So why are you here now?”

“I came with you, I go with you.”

“It’s not like we’re dating, Victor. You could go home with Yuri and Steve.”

“I need friends other than Yuri. Yuri told me.”

“Well, yeah, that’s true. So, you want to be friends?”

“I think we have much in common. We are both Russian. We are both very good at what we do. I am better, but you are improving. And we both are attracted to very beautiful men.”

“I never said –“

“You don’t have to. I can be observant, despite what Yuri says. So I forget to eat sometimes? He is very distracting. But I can see when someone else is lonely, when that someone is pining for someone. And that someone is pining right back.”

“You trying to play matchmaker?”

“I ship you and Steve. Buckeve. No. SteBucky. Ugh! Stucky! Oh, that sounds like a jam. You know, I think I’m hungry.”

“It sounds stupid, is what it sounds like. Why not just SteveBucky, hmm?”

“So it is true. You like him.”

“I didn’t say that. And besides – it’s dangerous.”

“To come out as gay in Russia. Only dangerous if they allow it to be known.”

“What’s that mean?”

Victor explained how he and the Federation had dealt with his relationship with Yuri in the face of prejudice and possible reprisal in Russia. At first, Victor didn’t realize what he felt for Yuri was love – he’d never been in love before, and he’d never made any real decisions about his own sexuality. He tended to date women, sometimes men, sometimes people who identified somewhere else on the gender spectrum, but never for any length of time, or with any depth of feeling. He’d followed the pleasure for the most part, not emotion. So it took a while to recognize the feeling. And by the time he did, it was too late. He was in love. Emphatically, irrevocably, miraculously in love.

His on-ice kiss with Yuri at Cup of China was edited from the Russian broadcast, but clips found their way onto social media, evoking an unexpected swell of support from fans across Russia. The Russian fans shipped Victor and Yuri. And then his return to compete on behalf of Russia, with his track record, was enough to silence any naysayers in the Federation. In fact, it had been part of the deal. That didn’t really help Bucky in the short term, but it gave him a goal - if he could excel, if he could make it more worthwhile to keep him than to ban him - or worse, arrest him - then maybe he had a hope of coming out to the Russian people, and the world.

Victor went on to say that he was unhappy that the Russian media erased – and continued to erase – his relationship with Yuri, and in fact for the most part erased Yuri himself. There was very little coverage of Katsuki Yuri in the Russian press, even though he was the current World Silver Medalist. Victor had thought that when they returned to his home in St. Petersburg to train, the media would wake up and recognize his relationship, recognize Yuri. But they continued to steadfastly ignore the truth in favor of a more palatable lie for the Russian people. When the opportunity to train in the US came up for the season, Victor had been glad to put Russia behind him, even though it meant leaving his beloved poodle, Makkachin, with Yuri’s parents in Japan. He knew the dog would be well-cared for, spoiled beyond recognition. He also said that Yuri was a different person in the US, more confident, more at ease in his own skin. While Victor knew the language, he wasn’t well-versed in the culture, so Yuri was the leader here, even more so than in Japan.

“So, what, they pretend Yuri doesn’t exist?”

“They call him my protégé, say that he was living with me because I am his coach, not his fiancé. Our rings they call ‘friendship rings’, and they focus on any conversation I have with a female, asking if this is the lady that will at last win Victor Nikiforov’s heart. I hate it! I love my Yuri and I am so proud of him. I want the world to see how wonderful he is, how he may someday surpass me. But how can they see all that if they refuse to see him at all?”

“Wow.”

“Yes, wow. I have represented Russia with all my heart, my entire life. But now, in my hour of greatest joy, Russia turns her back on me. I think that perhaps, when this season is over, I will not return to Russia to live. Perhaps we will settle here, maybe back in Hasetsu. It’s easy to be happy there, where everyone knows our names, and celebrates our love. You know?”

“I’ve never had that, but yeah, I can imagine – I can dream it. The hardest thing is hiding yourself. The next worst is when the world around you refuses to see you.”

“Yes. You get me. I told you we have much in common. If I were to rent a car, would you drive it?“ Victor asked abruptly, looking intently at Bucky.

Bucky looked right back. “Be your chauffeur, you mean?”

“Be my friend, instead? And drive me around, yes. Yuri can also drive, so it would only be things like today, going to the rink ahead of him. Maybe shopping so I can buy him presents.”

“Will I be able to borrow the car for myself sometimes?”

“You mean to take Steve Rogers out on a date? Absolutely. But let me remind you of the pleasures of double dating with your very good friends.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Bucky grumbled, finally starting the car up and exiting the center parking lot.

&&&

Chapter Text


God of the Ice @nikiforovftw 57m
True fax VN has chaffer at center?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 55m
True fax VN has good friends who don’t let him drive

Your Wet Dream Come True @christophegiacomettiofficial 45m
Gr8 relief! I have ridden in car driven by @victornikiforovofficial

Your Wet Dream Come True @christophegiacomettiofficial 45m
Streets are safer wo him behind wheel

Victor Nikiforov @victornikiforovofficial 43m
U left out that someone was distracting me @christophegiacomettiofficial

One Hot Katsudon @katsukiyuriofficial 42m
Is there something you need to confess @victornikiforovofficial

Your Wet Dream Come True @christophegiacomettiofficial 41m
Only he has attn span of fruitfly

Thailand’s Finest @phichitchulanontofficial 40m
No surprises then

Victor Nikiforov @victornikiforovofficial 39m
Y R we friends @phichitchulanontofficial @christophegiacomettiofficial

God of the Ice @nikiforovftw 37m
Flail.


The next week ran pretty quietly after that eventful Monday. Victor was serious about renting a car, so Bucky and Yuri helped him pick out a car that would be delivered to the apartment complex Monday evening. Paperwork was signed, Bucky and Yuri were named as drivers, and they were set for the duration of their training tenure.

“Y’know, he’d really rather travel with you,” Bucky pointed out as he locked the car and pocketed one set of keys. Yuri had the other, since they’d both agreed they couldn’t trust Victor with them. He was a bright, immensely talented guy, but he often failed to notice the hole in the road, the door closed right in front of him, and anything remotely practical about their lives in the US. And if he was given keys, it was quite possible they might never been seen again. Fortunately, it wasn’t hard to say no to him, since he did not have a driving license that was valid in the US. Not, Yuri had pointed out, that that would stop him if he was determined enough. Better to avoid the problem, and not let him near the keys in the first place.

Yuri looked at Bucky over the roof of the car and shrugged. “I know. Some mornings I need a break, though. I love him, I really do, but you’ve seen him – he gets clingy. Some mornings I don’t want clingy,” Yuri shrugged. “Bu-ut,” he added, glancing at Bucky slyly, “I’d be willing to negotiate a trade. I’ll drive Victor and you go with Steve.”

“Or we could all go together. Road trip to the center. Your matchmaking efforts are much appreciated, but … well.”

“Well, what?”

“No one can confirm that Steve is actually gay. Victor may have avoided official notice, but I’m not a five-time World champion. I can’t risk exposure on guesswork.”

“That’s it? That’s what’s holding you back? Huh.”

Yeah, huh.”

“But if he were gay, or bi, even – you’d be interested?”

“Are you speaking for him? Are you like, really a matchmaker? Or just another annoying friend who ships us and don’t really care how frustrating it is not knowing for sure?”

“No,” Yuri admitted sadly as they turned toward the apartment complex and made their way up the stairs to their group of apartments. “Not speaking for him. And I understand. Victor doesn’t think I notice, but I see how things are in Russia. No one says a word about the great Victor Nikiforov being engaged to marry another man because no one actually knows it. Total news blackout. Y’know, I don’t really know if I’m gay or I just love Victor – he’s the only person I’ve ever been attracted to, my entire life. But some days the blind eye turned to us makes me want to go all out, be as flamboyant and wild as possible. Drag, camp, tattoo a rainbow across my ass, nipple clips with battery powered neon propellers on them – the whole nine yards. Just to shake them up and make them actually look at me. Look at us. Victor deserves better, y’know?”

The “so do you” was silent, as Bucky quirked a critical eyebrow at Yuri. Yuri just grinned back.

Yuri paused suddenly and looked Bucky right in the eye. “Hey, if Steve were, you know … would you be interested back?”

The audacity, the pure sincerity of the question made Bucky pause and look at Yuri with a newfound respect. The swirl of assumption, of friends making decisions for him, of expectation and the sense of entitlement they had over his life, no one had ever asked the question with such simple earnestness.

Not, did he like Steve? Not, did he want to bang Steve like a drum? No, instead, if Steve were gay, if he were actually interested, would Bucky be interested back?

He allowed himself the smallest of smiles and nodded, a bare shift of his head, once. Yuri smiled, his brown eyes warm and full of understanding.

&&&


Her Glorious Majesty @queenmargaret 2h
News re: C&R SP?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 2h
Glenn Miller is out no word on whos in

Her Glorious Majesty @queenmargaret 90m
No Steve in uniform? Shame!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 1h
Don’t count him out yet


A few days later, Yuri and Steve were cooling down after their morning run together. They’d moved their runs to the high school track, which proved to be much more fun than the basement storage room, even if they did sort of draw a crowd which grew bigger each day. Once they’d each achieved a pleasant burn and a flood of endorphins, they’d trotted back up the hill with their entourage in tow, then passed by the Snack Shack to each snag a drink and a snack, courtesy of their own fairy godmonster, Darcy, who commanded the troops to cease and desist when they looked like they would continue following the boys.

Then Steve and Yuri had ducked into the athlete center where no one could follow, so they could be sweaty and gross and just manspread shamelessly where no one could judge them for a few minutes before they picked up the next stage of their daily regimen. Then they each ducked into one of the bathing alcoves, which had been built to be relatively soundproof, so their conversation went on hold for a few minutes.

Now they were in the locker area, each attending to some ritual that hadn’t felt right in their respective bathing rooms – Steve ruffling his hair with a fluffy towel, Yuri practicing single jumps on the bench while they chatted idly about various folks at the center. The conversation shifted naturally (because Yuri made it happen) to Barnes and Steve’s attraction to him. “You really should, you know.  Give it a try. What've you got to lose?”

“Why are we friends again?”

“Are we?  Friends, I mean?  I'd like that.  I mean, here we are, a couple losers who have it bad for pretty Russian skaters ... I got that right, didn't I Steve?  You really do like Sasha – I mean, Bucky."

Steve groaned into his hands.  "Everybody's tryna talk me into it.  But truth is, I fell the minute I laid eyes on that pert little perfect butt, and then he turned around, and I was a goner.  Everything since is just noise."

"Yeah.  I tried to deny that what I felt for Victor was anything other than a little professional crush.  But he moved into my life, and every day was ... more vivid than the last.  With more music, more color.  More taste and smells.  He walked into my life, and that's what it was - a life.  Sound familiar?"

"I don't even know if he's into guys!"

"Well, unless his resting bitch face is 'I wanna eat you alive and fuck you into next week', pretty sure he's into you, even if he isn't into guys.  Seriously, his smolder when he thinks you aren't looking?  Better than porn." 

“Use that a lot, do you?”

“Not since Victor moved in,” Yuri answered cheekily.

“Ugh. Yeah, I feel the sparks, but … I can never get him alone. Like that time on the hillside, he stumbled into me, and it was like he was electrocuted. He couldn’t get away from me fast enough. He doesn’t want to be around me, I –“

“Then make him come to you.”

“What?”

“Yeah. Do you have to be the predator? Become the prey. Instead of chasing, let him chase you. You can be a spicy little pork katsudon, make him so hungry for you he can’t do without.”

Steve frowned at the food reference, but he did know that Yuri was fond of certain dishes, and had shared some of his katsudon earlier that week when they’d had a potluck lunch day at the center. It was pretty awesome, and it seemed to have some special meaning for both Yuri and Victor. “Okay. So, how do I do that?”

“Change your routine. He’s used to seeing you do things at a certain time, in a certain place. Change it up.”

“Like?”

“Like … our run. Every day we meet and we run together. Once we moved it out of the basement, we generated a crowd – spectators, if you will. Who do you think is nonchalantly working on his non-fat latte with all the fangirls and boys, hmm?”

“Yeah, but what about you?”

“I’ll get Victor to run with me. He could use the cardio. You saw what he was like that day – old man needs to up to his game! Trust me, his stamina could use some building up. And when someone asks me where Steve Rogers is, I’ll tell them you’ve chosen to follow a different regimen, away from the center – away from all the attention. If that someone happens to be a hunky Russian pairs skater, then I’ll give that person more specifics – out of earshot of the fans, of course.”

Steve chuckled. “So where do you propose I go running then?”

“This town’s got a downtown, right? Which probably means some kind of public park, probably with running paths. Sooooo …”

“Yeah, actually it does. It’s a pretty nice park, too – little gazebo, big fountain where the kids throw money then try to dive in and scoop it up,” Steve chuckled. “Yeah, it would be nice to have a little change of scene. But how’s he gonna find me, hmm?”

“Oh, leave that to me. And Victor. We’ll find a way,” Yuri told him, grinning madly.

“What?”

“I really love a good epic love story, don’t you?”

“I wouldn’t say –“

“When you find the right person, even if only the two of you know, it’s epic in its own right. I have a good feeling about you two. So … let me work some magic, and we’ll see what’s to be seen, huh?”

“How do you know so much about this?”

Yuri blushed and ducked his head. “Well, I’ll admit I have an expert coaching me.”

“Come again?”

“I’ve been sharing all the rinkside gossip with my best friend, Phichit. We trained together in Detroit. Four years we were roommates. And Phichit is the king of social media. I can’t believe you call yourself a skater and you’re not following him! He’s also completely obsessed with matchmaking his friends, and when I told him about you and Barnes, he started plotting right away. The escape to a more private locale was totally his idea.”

“You’re discussing my love life with a stranger?"

“Not a stranger – Phichit! Phichit Chulanont, from Thailand. He’s my best friend.”

“Chulanont … oh, he came in fourth at the GPF, right? Impressive skater. But can he be trusted?”

“Please! I told you, he’s my best friend. And he knows how to keep a secret. He really wants to see you guys get together. You’re both assigned to Skate Canada – I can’t wait for you to meet him! I’m planning to go just so I can see it!”

“Okay. So the circle of conspiracy has widened … okay, I can live with that. Because if he leaks anything – anything, Yuri – you’re the one who’s gonna be hurting.”

“Pffft. Phichit is the puppet master. He’s already plotting what Victor will do to get Bucky at the park at the right time to see you run.”

“You really think Victor is going to go along with it?”

“That old softie? Yes. He’s the best person I know. And he and Bucky travel together every day – I told you, Victor even rented a car so they could do that. I think Bucky needed a friend as much as I did. I know Victor did. So, yeah, I know I can get Victor on board. He’ll do anything to see me happy, after all.”

&&&


SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 20m
Need Sasha Barnes news stat!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 19m
Hes still hot

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 18m
Waaaah! Truth. News????

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 17m
OK dont tell ny1 hes doing weight and flexibility training

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 16m
Part of his regimen

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 15m
Hes looking hotter

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 10m
That all ur giving me?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 5m
4 now


At the same time that Yuri, with his global conspiracy made up of Phichit and Victor, was putting his plans into action, Natasha was taking matters into her own hands. She and Peggy had hit it off well, and met at the Snack Shack almost every day for lunch. If the crowd was feeling generous that day, Darcy would join them, and the three women continued to plot and plan the eventual Greatest Romance in the History of Ice. GRITHI, for short. It turned out Darcy had a fondness for meaningless acronyms dating back to her intern days with Jane, and an addiction to bad romantic thrillers.

Natasha could work with that.

They’d been meeting for lunch for a little over a week when she finally felt their burgeoning friendship was ripe enough for her to propose blending their training programs. When she first mentioned it, outlining why she thought it could be useful and how they could help each other in this coming Olympic season, Peggy had simply stared at her, chewing her taco salad thoughtfully.

“You want us to train together.”

“That is the proposal on the table, yes.”

“Share ice, share training tips, share choreography?”

“Well, no. Work together on basics. No, I agree, when we each get into working out the actual elements of our programs, it’s probably not a good idea for us to share the ice. We’re not scheduled to compete against each other until November at Skate America, and then again in December, since I’m sure we’ll both make the Final. I mean, if we shared a coach, even though we represent different countries, we’d still see each other’s programs. But we don’t, so no. You hate the idea, don’t you?”

“No. I don’t love it, either. What would be the purpose, really?”

“Really? Other than benefitting from each other’s different experience? Getting competitive almost five months ahead of schedule? Putting Steve and Sasha together in a space where they can’t avoid each other.”

“Oh. Well, then. You should have led with that! I’m in.”

“In what?” Darcy demanded, dropping into the seat across from them, and plunking her tray down emphatically. “I love my job, but the next out of town fan that swans by the snack bar whining about the quality of the free fucking wifi here is going to learn how to stick the landing for a triple axel off my goddamned foot. Fries?” she offered, pushing her tray into the center of the table.

Darcy’s fries were a guilty pleasure of nearly every athlete training at the center that summer. The secret was high quality oil, the right temperature, and a second pass through the fryer. But it wasn’t fries that the women needed to discuss, it was the increasingly disappointing and endlessly frustrating lack of action from their two favorite love muffins. Peggy quickly recapped for Darcy’s benefit, while shamelessly piling up her plate with Fries of Perfection.

“Oh. My. God! That is perfect! We needed a hook for the gala. You guys!” she waved her hands at the pair of them, and settled back in her seat with a big grin.

“Us guys?” Peggy repeated delicately, eyebrow arched and ready to pass judgment.

“Yeah, you guys! It’s perfect. Russia and the US – honorary US,” she nodded toward Peggy. “The Cold War? You guys are the new Cold War. Don’t you see? We can play up the national rivalry, make a game of it. Ooooh, social media,” she added like it was a drug. “It’d help get people here, although there are already fans asking about tickets – you guys are both draws! But think of it – you could even do a number together –“

“Together. All four of us on the ice at once?” Natasha asked, chuckling. And then her smile settled into a slow, sly, smirk. “Two pairs, who trade partners. Or, cold war prisoner exchange! I skate with Steve, you skate with Sasha. And then we switch again. You and me, Steve and Sasha. It could be fun.”

“It could be mad,” Peggy responded, popping a fry in her mouth, her eyes wide and her brows bunched together. “It could be … just the thing, darling.”

“Except every time the Buckmeister sees Steve coming, he finds some excuse to duck away. Seriously, he’s like a blushing virgin –“

The sharp look that Natasha gave her caught Darcy off-guard, and suddenly she was coughing, choking on her soda. “Really?” she demanded.

“I didn’t say a word. And neither will you.”

“Oh my God, they really are made for each other,” Peggy breathed.

“Steve, too?” Darcy squeaked.

“Not one word,” Peggy warned, the red of her fingernails appearing more blood than valentine.

“Lips, sealed, promise. But you’ll think about what I said, the gala?”

Natasha glanced at Peggy, and let her smirk broaden. “I think we can work something out.”

&&&


Quad Lutz Groopie @skating_squee 2h
Practices open to public?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 1h
Not at this time. Some fans hang out to see sk8ers around center tho.

Quad Lutz Groopie @skating_squee 59m
Weekends?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 58m
No sk8ers. Smoothies, though.


“Train together.”

“Yes.”

“As in, actually share ice.”

“Yes.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“I’m not going to do it. It’s too much, Natasha. You ask too much.”

“Afraid that too close to those thighs you’ll – what do you call it? Pop an inappropriate bone?

“Boner. And ew.”

“I’ve already spoken to Misha. And he has already spoken to Yakov. They approve. So if you really don’t want to do it, you’re going to have to explain why.”

“Because you are evil incarnate.”

“I am, but that’s not an excuse to take full advantage of the opportunity here. Just watching them, we’ve already picked up some useful fixes for our technique. They could learn from us as well. It’s fair. And it could be fun. Give our practices a more competitive edge. You do well in a competitive environment, Sasha. It makes you hungry and you push harder. This is our Olympic season, Sasha. Imagine, almost five months of additional competition making you hungry. By Pyeongchang, you will be starving. For more than gold, I think.”

“Your mind is in the gutter, Natasha. Not a good place.”

“You should join me – you might find more than you expect.”

“I might I’m not going to get out of it, am I?”

“No.”

“You owe me.”

“I know,” she nodded agreeably. “That will never change.”

Fine.”

&&&


Hes mine u cant have him @mrsrogers 44m
NE juicy rumors?

Imma Sexy Katsudon @victuurilover 43m
How is Victor liking US?

God of the Ice @nikiforovftw 40m
I cannot believe Im on same continent as Victor!

Imma Sexy Katsudon @victuurilover 38m
Hes been here b4 for Skate America worlds too

God of the Ice @nikiforovftw 36m
I was young and stupid then didn’t know who he was

Hes mine u cant have him @mrsrogers 30m
Ugh singles! Gimme pairs any day!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 25m
Victor likes french fries. And smoothies.

Imma Sexy Katsudon @victuurilover 20m
Together?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 19m
Mabye


After an awkward start where the two teams and their type-A coaches jockeyed for position, connected body parts like elbows and eyes, knees and ribcages, after bruises and poorly calculated distances and clearance lanes, the Olympic-eligible teams of Carter and Rogers, and Romanova and Barnes started to relax into a rhythm that was actually fun for them all. Sharing ice stopped being a wrestling match, and started to be productive and entertaining.

All four skaters sought excellence in themselves, and pushed themselves to be the best. With four of them on the ice, direct competitors in the season to come, they were constantly egging each other on, delivering flawless, creative, and exciting positions and elements. And making attempts that failed spectacularly, splatted with Keystone Cops enthusiasm, and drew blood on more than one occasion. When it worked, though, it worked beyond their expectations.

On the second afternoon, Bucky executed a perfect delayed spiral, segueing into a sit spin that carved a half-dollar sized hole in the ice, and then stand smoothly into final pose. Then he flipped Steve the bird, and announced, “Now you!”

Steve then circled around the ice for a few minutes, one hand on his hip, the other pinching his chin while he thought about it. Then suddenly he started to skate around the rink, growing steadily faster, until he launched into a Tano Lutz, landed cleanly on the correct edge, then moved into the delayed spiral and the remainder of the choreography Bucky had presented, and concluded as he stood at center ice, wrists crossed and hands stretched up in supplication.

“Top that,” Steve tossed over his shoulder as he skated back to the boards where Peggy covered her giggles behind her hand. Natasha’s eyes were rolled so far back in her head, all that could be seen was whites.

Peggy and Natasha tried out various adjustments to their solo elements, and on occasion would do pairs holds together to search for the right spot for a hold, the right angle to better launch. They each tried throwing each other, and a few times attempted lifts. They agreed that the body lines created by two women skating together were intriguing, and they continued to play around with doing more and more pairs elements together.

By the third day, the other skaters at the center were taking breaks around the foursome’s practices, leaning against the boards and casually commenting on the elements, the competition, their guesses for what Steve or Bucky were going to try next, and generally turning the occasion into just that – an occasion. Sometimes, other skaters would get on the ice, and emulate the snippets of routine the boys tried. Victor in particular enjoyed playing with what they were doing, embellishing it with single walleys, a flying sit spin, an extended spiral sequence, and a quad or two. Yuri of course had to give it a go, and by the fourth day, Darcy had to move the practice to the big, Olympic-sized rink because so many of the other skaters wanted in on what Steve and Bucky were doing.

By Friday, she insisted that the following week, they had to open at least one of these practices up to the public.

“The social media response will be fab. I swear to God, you guys – the gala will sell out because of you. We might have to do a second weekend. This is gonna be great!”

She was sharing a snack with Peggy and Natasha, and Natasha paused in her consumption of fries to ask, “Where does the money from the gala go? Operating expenses?”

“Hell, no. Goes into a scholarship fund, pays for lessons and rink time for kids who can’t afford it.”

“Schedule the second weekend, darling. We’ll sell them both out,” Peggy ordered, and Natasha nodded firmly.

“I love you guys. I’m gonna be so sad when this season is over and you go home, Natasha!”

Natasha was uncharacteristically speechless at Darcy’s declaration. She worked, she traveled, she practiced, she competed. She had colleagues and acquaintances. She had Sasha. She had Clint. She didn’t really have friends. But the grin that Peggy gave her, and the quick squishy hug that Darcy gave her before she left the rink – presumably to set up the schedule – made her wonder.

Is this what friendship felt like?

If so, she liked it. She might just have to keep it. And suddenly, the concept of living in America if Clint ever asked her didn’t seem quite so daunting.

&&&


Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 20m
Omg omg omg omg omg!

Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 20m
Steve Rogers running in Philips Park!

Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 20m
Borrowed my dads long range lens!

Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 20m
Pix to come!

Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 20m
Omg omg omg omg omg omg omg!!!!!


Steve had shifted his running from the high school with Yuri to solo round the town park, but so far, he just ran to the appreciative glances of the early rising townies who paused to watch him coming, and turned to watch him going. Each day, the moms with strollers and the teenaged girls (and boys) seemed to grow in number, despite the early hour. Makeup was on point, too. And there was a growing number of attractive, available looking men, too.

But no Bucky.

True, he’d see him later at the rink, but no matter how perfectly his practice outfit hugged his figure and showed off his muscles, he couldn’t get Bucky to do more than watch him professionally. At least not while Steve could see him – Peggy swore that Bucky was practically drowning in his own drool when Steve turned his back. Their discussions were always about the moves, the elements, the point value, the difficulty level. He hadn’t even been able to get him to commit to just going outside and tossing some balls around, to help with strengthening his shoulder and arm.

So far, all efforts to bring him together with his Russian prince had had the same results.

Bupkis.

And nada.

And one very large, sexually frustrated goose egg.

Not that Steve planned to jump Bucky’s bones – or the really well-defined, completely lickable musculature covering said bones. But spending so much time around Bucky on the ice, not knowing if there was a chance, yet wanting that chance so badly

Steve was starting to wonder – seriously wonder, like crisis of faith wonder – if Bucky was in fact interested, or if all the glances, the challenges, the dares in his eyes were all in Steve’s imagination.

But could everyone be reading it so wrong? Could Peggy be overlaying some wish fulfillment fantasy on the Russian skater?

He supposed it was possible.

After all, his own lack of action was rooted in that fear. But the others laughed off his uncertainty with such conviction, he’d come to truly hope …

Steve slowed down to a trot, letting his muscles relax as he did one last circuit of the park before doing his cool-down exercises so he could go back to the rink and shower before they started in on their on-ice prep.

With a start, he realized he now had a better understanding of what the fans must feel, the people who fantasized about being his special person, his wife, his husband, his bae. And he also acknowledged that what he felt for Bucky wasn’t just a silly crush. Over the past couple of weeks as he’d gotten to know him – even cursorily – he’d come to really like him. Like him more than anyone else he’d ever known. And he really, really wanted to know him better.

Like Peggy, he had a good feeling about this one being special. Maybe even the one.

If he could only get him to notice him …

&&&


Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 2h
Istg I saw Steve Rogers in the bodega down the street from my apt!

Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 2h
No way! Where?

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 2h
Brooklyn.

Drag Queen of the Ice @figure_biyatch 2h
Hallucinating. He’s in Sayresbury.

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 1h
Ur right. Girl can dream tho


The group did O’Malleys again on Friday night, but Bucky begged off, claiming he had a commitment to Skype with his mother in Russia. They tried to talk at least once a month, and with both their busy schedules, once they committed to a time, they both made every effort to keep it. Bucky had seemed genuinely disappointed that he wouldn’t be doing karaoke with the gang again. And Steve really thought he saw Bucky looking at him with a look of longing. It wasn’t in his imagination – it wasn’t!

Yuri assured him he was correct, the chemistry was real. But so, apparently, was the fear. As the gang worked their way through alcohol, food, and half the songbook, Yuri kept up a running commentary of suggestions from his friend Phichit, whom Steve now followed on Instagram, too. Even though they hadn’t really met, the IMing they’d enjoyed in the last week was fast making Phichit one of Steve’s favorite people. He had a sunny disposition and a sly sense of humor. Steve was happy to have him in the friends corner, because he felt that Phichit really could be a great spymaster – he didn’t want to run afoul of his bad side. And he found himself looking forward to his first international – Skate Canada – all the more, since Phichit would be there, representing Thailand. Yuri just kept getting more excited at the prospect, despite it being months away.

After feeling Bucky’s absence at O’Malley’s, and without practice to look forward to, Steve found himself at odds that weekend, and decided to take a drive home to visit his Mom. He’d only been in Sayresbury a couple of weeks, but when things got confusing, he always liked to talk them through with Mom.

“You, sharing ice with another pair? How competitive is Peggy? Oh my word!” Mom chuckled softly.

“She’s pretty chill, actually. She and Natasha have hit it off. I think they’re gradually becoming friends. Honestly, I think they hatched the idea together.”

“And the boy?”

“The boy?”

“The boy you like, Steve. He’s the Russian, right?”

“You can always see through me, can’t you?” Steve asked, smiling slightly at how well his Mom could read through his bullshit. He hadn’t even mentioned liking someone, yet she’d been able to see immediately that there was someone.

“You got all your tells from me, so of course. And I’ve never seen you quite like this. So that tells me he’s something special. Is he cute?”

“Come to Skate America and you’ll see for yourself.”

“We’ll see. Is he nice?”

“Yeah.”

“Is he interested back?”

“I don’t know. And it’s making me crazy!” he whined, dropping his forehead onto his crossed forearms.

“Steve, I think the answer is pretty clear. If you want to know, you need to ask. You need to use your big boy words, and ask. The worst that happens is he says no, and then you know.”

“The worst that could happen is I insult him, and he never wants to speak to me again.”

“If he’s insulted at the idea he’s gay and you’re interested in him, Steven Grant Rogers, then he’s not someone you want in your life anyway.”

“I … you’re right.”

“Of course I’m right. I’m your mother. Now, finish your dinner, and then you’re taking me to the movies. I’ve been dying to see Wonder Woman with someone who understands the comics and can explain the references to me.”

&&&


Everything on Ice is Luv @iceicebaby 3h
What do sk8ers do on weekends if not sk8?

One Hot Katsudon @katsukiyuriofficial 1h
Sleep

Everything on Ice is Luv @iceicebaby 58m
Omg!

One Hot Katsudon @katsukiyuriofficial 57m
Not that big a deal. Sleeping is good.

Eros @yuurifan 50m
!!!!!!!!!!


Darcy had printed up posters on Friday afternoon, announcing the first battle of the New Cold War, featuring the teams of Romanova and Barnes vs. Carter and Rogers. The open practice would be free, but donations to the scholarship fund were encouraged and much appreciated.

After the hundredth tweet asking about the train station, Darcy announced a shuttle bus that would run for four hours leading up to the practice, and four hours after. She charged a nominal fee for the shuttle, to cover gas and extra hours for their part-time driver, Eric. He was a retired astrophysicist who still liked to hang out with Jane and Thor – he’d been Jane’s doctoral advisor before he’d retired. He liked driving the bus for the center’s synchro team, the Pride. When she explained that the open practice was to drum up interest in the gala, and that they might be able to pick up some donations for the scholarship fund, he was totally on board.

God bless Dr. Eric Selvig and his big damned heart.

&&&


Quad Lutz Groopie @skating_squee 2h
Sayresbury here I come!

SashaB is bae @robarnes4life 90m
Cannot believe! On train now – see soon!

Kill U with my Thighs @romanovaqueen 1h
Save me a seat!

Hes mine u cant have him @mrsrogers 45m
We gotta take a group selfie!

Her Glorious Majesty @queenmargaret 30m
Dying. Cant make it so jelly!

SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 25m
Stream!


By the time Wednesday dawned, the center was teeming with young people of all shapes, sizes, points on the gender spectrum, and every variation possible. Most of them seemed to have taken sides in the “new cold war,” declaring their allegiance to either “Team Steggy” or “Team SashaNat.” Some of the designs looked professional, which was amazing considering the short timeframe between the announcement and the date, while others looked hand-drawn or craft store ironed on letters. As Steve got out of his car and thumbed the lock on his keyfob, he wondered momentarily how the Romanova and Barnes fans were going to take to Bucky changing his name. It was definitely going to mean a lot of wardrobes would have to be adjusted, that was certain.

The crowd hadn’t noticed him yet, and he realized with a growing panic that he was going to have to pass through the mob. He could only hope they were as nice as the kids who sometimes greeted him when he arrived, but the sheer number of them was daunting.

His phone pinged suddenly, and he pulled it out of his pocket to glance at it.

“Thor on his way to rescue you. Standby for extraction. – D.”

He looked up and saw the big man striding through the throng with a jovial expression and a hearty wave. The fans parted like the proverbial waters of the Red Sea, spilling up on the verges and curbs like lapping waves.

“Ah, Steven! Come, let me escort you safely to your practice rink. The hordes look hungry this morning!”

And as they passed hurriedly – determinedly – through the multitude, Steve thought that maybe he could see a predatory gleam, or an unusually hungry glance his way. He found he really appreciated the protective aura of the godlike Thor.

And Thor didn’t leave his side until he was safely on the other side of the athletes’ zone. Ian was sitting at a little kiosk Steve couldn’t remember seeing before, wearing something that looked like it could be a uniform.

“Playing security,” Ian whispered as Steve looked quizzically his way. “Asking anyone who tries to get in for their security pass.”

I don’t have a security pass.”

“No one does. But they don’t know that.”

Steve had to chuckle at the simple logic, and he grinned at Ian as he passed into the athletes’ area. Thor remained on the other side, waving cheerily, then took up his sentry post one step and to the right of Ian, his massive arms crossed over his mountainous chest. Steve could never find Thor frightening, but he supposed to the uninitiated, Thor was positively terrifying.

Darcy met him with a latte, her clipboard, and a serious expression – she’d even put on her glasses. “Ah, you’re here. I’ve moved you to the big rink. I’ve got people pulling out the stands so there’s places for people to sit. You good with the Olympic-sized rink for today?”

“Oooh, since when did I become a celebrity?” Steve teased Darcy with a cheeky grin.

“Since we’ve got over 200 fans on site waiting to see you and Barnes go at it on the ice. And more coming over the next three hours. This is bigger than our biggest gala to date, and it’s not even a fucking gala.”

“So what? Today we’re dancing monkeys?”

“Please! You’re dancing monkeys on unicycles. You’re beyond the best. Just go out there, be fabulous, and get some Russian tail.”

“Um, Darce? Your innuendo is showing.”

“Gettin’ you hot and bothered, big boy? Go get your man, will ya? The unresolved sexual tension around here is starting to congeal. You’re worth so much more, Steve-o! Get it, boi!”

Shaking his head, Steve headed to the locker rooms without another word, but he had to grin when Darcy shouted, “Hashtag newcoldwar is trending, asshole! Make it count!”

&&&


SashaB is bae @robarnes4life 1h
This place is so cool! Love serenity garden

Sinnamon Roll @barnesbaby 1h
Wat u doing in garden when sasha is there?

SashaB is bae @robarnes4life 58m
Took tour. Place is pretty. Might try to convince rents to let me take lessons here

Sinnamon Roll @barnesbaby 57m
:O

SashaB is bae @robarnes4life 55m
<3:


And make it count, they did. The open practice ended up being more than just Steggy and SashaNat – and Bucky did nothing at that point to change his name, since the request was still working its way through the Federation and hadn’t become official. He wanted to have a little drama around it, too, the reclamation of his name. So Sasha Barnes skated onto the ice to practice with his long-time partner and best friend, Natasha Romanova.

They hadn’t talked about what they were going to do – he’d so far avoided spending any time alone with Steve since he still wasn’t certain which way the guy swung. The others didn’t really get it, but he was concerned that if he expressed interest and Steve wasn’t that way, things could get ugly for him very quickly if Steve was insulted by the overture. So, until he had some form of guarantee, he was hesitant to put himself out there. And that meant avoiding temptation at all costs.

So when the four of them converged on the ice, there wasn’t a plan. They gravitated toward each other and skated in rotation looking at each other for inspiration. Finally, Steve smirked, and said, “You’re always the instigator, Barnes. Pick something, and then do your ‘now, you’ thing, okay?”

“Yeah?” Bucky grinned back. “Got anything in mind?”

“Pick something. Anything. ‘Cos you know anything you do, I’m gonna do better,” Steve taunted.

And didn’t that just make the competitive flame roar to life inside him. “Fine. Strap in, buttercup. Shit’s about to get real!”

&&&


Quad Lutz Groopie @skating_squee 1h
I never knew I needed this in my life

Kill U with my Thighs @romanovaqueen 1h
Better than stars on ice

Quad Lutz Groopie @skating_squee 1h
Ikr?


For the next two hours, folks sitting in the stands around the rink were treated to a non-stop display of skating prowess, spins, jumps, throws, ina bauers and spirals, races, trash talking, giggle fits, attempts to take over the shenanigans by Katsuki Yuri, Victor Nikiforov, and Yuri Plisetsky, applause by Thor, and just general nonsense and fun. At one point, Darcy started playing random selections of music over the sound system, just to see what the foursome would come up with. Instant choreography erupted for a variety of musical styles, but everyone in the place was stunned at the display that Sasha Barnes put on when Darcy played Gaga. And when an Adele song started, there was no holding Yuri back.

Victor displayed a heretofore unknown fondness for Bruno Mars and Harry Styles/1D, while classical music inspired Natasha. But when a big band number blared out of the speakers, Peggy was all over it, and the others fell in line with Peggy in full command.

By the time the four pairs skaters waved off any new musical choices, all exhausted and ready to call it a day, the audience was as pumped as if they’d been at a world class competition. Darcy was about to make an announcement when Thor took the mike and told the audience, “We hope you enjoyed this impromptu show of excellence. If you enjoyed what you saw, please remember that we are raising funds to cover skate scholarships for students who wish to learn to skate, but cannot afford the fees. Your donation could help make a child’s dream come true. You might even help the next great Olympian. And don’t forget – everyone will be skating in our gala, in August. See you then!”

Darcy then pressed every skater into service to hold a bucket (popcorn, never used) at each exit to collect donations, while Ian scurried around swapping empty buckets for ones that filled quickly.

By the time they finished signing autographs, taking selfies, and closed the doors behind the last straggler, Darcy was beaming, as was Thor (in other words, no change). Darcy ran around hugging every last one of them. “You guys! Just … you guys!” she burbled, ignoring the happy tears trailing down her cheeks. “You did good.”

&&&


Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 2h
You came. You saw. They conquered. C&R and R&B SLAYED

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 30m
Ded. I m ded. Hw did I miss this? My live is over

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 29m
Under a rock last week?

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 28m
Down shore. No wifi on beasch

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 27m
Come to gala in August.

Steggy is my Spirit Animal @steggy4life 26m
Stop me, I dare u!


There’d been talk of retiring to O’Malleys for self-congratulatory drinks after the open practice (and wildly successful impromptu fundraiser), but the fact was, the athletes were too worn out from the intensive workout and the stress of the audience. Everyone was feeling a buzz, though, even through their exhaustion.

“How much did we raise?” Ian asked as the group milled around expectantly.

“I haven’t tallied all the donations yet, but it looks like enough to offer at least ten kids free lessons for the season. Y’know, I wonder if we shouldn’t partner up with a rink closer to the city, offer free lessons to kids who can’t get out here easily.”

“I think that’s a lovely idea,” Peggy answered. “It was a city rink where Steve and I first met. Near the British Consulate. If it hadn’t been for that public rink, we’d never have started skating together. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without it. And him,” she added, looking over to Steve and smiling warmly at him. He blew her a kiss and grinned.

Bucky snorted softly. “Natasha and I met much the same way. Public sessions at a public rink. I was fascinated by spinning. And her red hair.”

“You kept following me around until I decided I would keep you. We started skating pairs so we could play together on the ice,” Natasha agreed with a fond smile, reaching over to ruffle Bucky’s hair.

“I don’t remember a time before the ice,” Victor said softly from where he sat on a bench. He looked up at Yuri, who stood next to him. “For me, the ice has always been there.”

“I remember a time before the ice. Because I remember the first time I saw you skate – then I had to, too,” Yuri answered, touching his fingertip to the crown of Victor’s head. Victor’s face bloomed into a huge smile as his hand closed around Yuri’s finger.

“Okay, that wins the sweetest, gaggiest, awwwwiest confession of the day!” Darcy exclaimed. “Now, c’mon, get your asses out of here. I need to finish up the receipts and you’re all distracting me with your distractiness,” she waved in their general direction. She pointed at Ian, and added, “You. You’re helping.”

“Of course I am,” Ian muttered, and moved to join her as the others stood up, groaning, shuffling, and creaking their way toward the exits.

&&&


Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 20m
Thank u 2 all who came to our open practice session!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 20m
U guys raised enough for 10 kids to get lessons for a year!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 20m
A year, guys!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 20m
If we did it again would you come?

[It is unsubstantiated whether the response to this tweet actually broke the internet, or if it was a faulty hard drive in one of the servers in the backbone at Temple University. The outage last 30 seconds before traffic was shunted to a redundant server.]


The next day, Darcy called an emergency meeting of the GRITHI team. The three women were just starting to tuck into their lunches when Yuri and Victor came over to join them, followed by Sam.

“Um, ladies who lunch?” Darcy challenged the invasion of the menfolk.

“Um, I’m betting you’re plotting over our favorite sad gay boys?” Sam demanded as he snagged a fry from the huge pile in the middle of the table.

“I am not your favorite sad gay boy?” Victor asked Sam.

“You’re not sad,” Yuri pointed out.

“You are right. I am very happy. Okay. You may proceed,” he agreed.

“Wait, you guys, too?” Darcy asked.

“Us guys too? Who do you think’s been doing all the legwork around here. To no avail. I swear, gay white boys – present company excluded – I think – have heads like blocks of ice. The pair of them! We need a major offensive if we’re ever going to get them together.”

Victor shrugged. “I don’t know why you don’t just lock the pair of them in a room by themselves, and let them work it out. Or not.” He tasted a fry, then reached over and grabbed a fistful, eyes widening with amazement. “Vkusno,” he murmured under his breath.

“Seriously? When did we start living in a bad ‘80s romcom?” Darcy asked flatly, glaring at Victor.

“When Bucky met Stevie,” Sam replied, deadpan. “We’ve tried everything else. Barnes is terrified to say anything because of the political situation back home. Steve is afraid to say anything in case Barnes rejects him. They’re at a stalemate. Locking them in a room together just might do it.”

“Not a room,” Yuri corrected. “A rink.”

&&&

Chapter Text


Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 35m
No more steve in park

Her Glorious Majesty @queenmargaret 32m
Scare him away???

Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 30m
Bunch of moms with babies

Her Glorious Majesty @queenmargaret 29m
Where now?

Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 28m
Wish id worked harder to fail pe

Her Glorious Majesty @queenmargaret 27m
?????

Mrs Steve Rogers @stevesgirl 25m
Summer school share track


One of the key elements of any successful global conspiracy is timing.

Luck is another key element, and the conspirators bent on bringing Steve and Bucky together were having none of that. Lady Luck had packed her bags and moved to Saskatchewan, leaving Sayresbury, Connecticut in her rearview mirror.

So far, repeated attempts to put the men into situations where they would have no choice but to admit their feelings had failed spectacularly. Steve had finally given up on running in the park when a couple of the soccer moms had started asking to run with him, and had returned to the center and running with Yuri on the high school track. He announced that fans with smartphones were easier to deal with than moms with strollers.

Natasha’s attempts to browbeat Bucky into admitting his feelings to Steve had backfired, finally annoying him to the point where he lost his temper and yelled at her. He’d told her he needed some time on the ice alone. Yesterday, he’d booked the private rink for two hours, then followed with his workout routine. Natasha and Sasha were then on the ice together with Steve and Peggy to do their combined practice. After that, Bucky had collected Victor, and they’d headed back to the apartments, leaving Natasha to take the bus, hang with Darcy and Peggy, or beg a ride from Misha. In the end, Darcy had dragged her out for a drink and then given her a ride home, patting her should consolingly as Natasha worried she’d pushed too far. Instead of leveraging her influence over him, Natasha feared she’d forced a wedge between them, and worried she’d inflicted permanent damage on their friendship.

Peggy wasn’t faring much better with Steve, who simply insisted that Peggy was mistaken, and walked away each time she brought it up.

Even Sam’s efforts to cajole Steve were now met with a stony shake of the head. And when Yuri attempted to broach the subject of Bucky with Steve, he’d just shaken his head, his shoulders slumped dejectedly, and said, “Give it up, Yuri. He’s not interested.”

Never had the group of friends seen two white boys with their heads so far up their own asses that they couldn’t see what was right in front of them – their perfect match, ready and waiting for a sign of interest.

Someone was going to have to make the first move, yet both men were paralyzed and incapable of forward motion.

The GRITHI committee – with Phichit Chulanont attending via Skype – had met each day in secret in the Snack Shack, discussing permutations, plans, and possibilities. Then the Friday after the open practice, an opportunity simply presented itself and said hello.

“Sasha wanted to work off some steam. He’s practicing some moves that he wants to incorporate into our short, but he said he needs to work on them solo first before he involves me,” Natasha announced as she snagged a handful of fries and stuffed them in her mouth. She smiled sadly around the bouquet of spuds.

“You mean he’s still not talking to you, so he’s off by himself where you can’t nag,” Peggy translated, and Natasha set aside her game face, and nodded glumly. Peggy patted her gently on the shoulder, commiserating silently. Then Natasha picked up her milkshake and started to draw it up through the straw aggressively, her face collapsing into a frown.

“Yeah, I have him booked in private practice rink C for the morning. He’s working on your short? Guys, I need you to be thinking about your gala performances!” Darcy complained, although her grin belied the tone of her voice.

“I’d had my heart set on a Glenn Miller number for our long, but Richard nixed my ideas for choreography. He said we’d be too far apart on the ice for too long for the judges’ tastes. So we’re going to do that for the gala. I love the music, and what we’ve got so far – darling, you’ll never be able to top it,” Peggy tossed over her shoulder at Natasha. Natasha stuck out her tongue, and went back to sucking her milkshake up through her straw.

“I have discovered a new singer. I would like to skate to his music. With your Pride,” Victor announced, hand hovering over the fry pile as he appeared to carefully select a few fries, before he just grabbed a handful of his own and dumped them on his plate.

“Well, that sounds intriguing,” Darcy commented, sitting up in her seat. “Care to share the deets?”

“No. Not until I talk it over with the Pride’s coach. I have a meeting set up for later today.”

“Yeah, I’m on my own, ‘cos this guy wants a big production number,” Yuri groused. “I can’t believe you never saw a synchronized skating team perform before.”

“It is a thing of wonder, so many skaters moving together in perfect unison. I cannot help it, Yuri. You know that I am always looking for ways to surprise. This will definitely surprise you,” Victor added with a twinkle, shoving two fries in his mouth at once.

“Well, maybe I’ll surprise you by doing a routine with someone else,” Yuri bitched. “Maybe I’ll do a routine with … Steve! Or Bucky!”

“No, darling, you’ll do a routine with Natasha and me. And we’ll get Ms. Lewis back on the ice, too. We’ll be Yuri’s Angels,” Peggy teased, reaching over and wrapping her arms around Yuri’s bicep. “We’ll dress you up in a glorious vintage tux, we’ll be wearing evening gowns cut up to our asses, and the entire audience will be shaken, not stirred.”

Yuri grinned at Victor, all teeth and smug “I won.”

“Guys, that’s all really cute – and I really think you should think about putting Yuri in an evening gown cut up to there, too – but it’s not solving our problem. Nothing we’ve done has gotten those two blockheads together,” Phichit commented from the Skype window on Yuri’s phone.

“I know,” Darcy whined. “I thought you were the Guy, Phichie! Work your mojo before the season’s over!”

“Wait,” Yuri said suddenly. “Weren’t you talking about doing a routine together, the US and the Russian pairs teams?”

“Yes, we’re toying with a medley from White Nights, an ‘80s movie about US and Russian dancers who defected to each other’s countries,” Peggy answered, but the raised eyebrow and directed glare from Natasha made her amend, “What? There’s some fabulous music from the film. If only we could figure out how to get Steve out of his skates and into shoes, he could do an incredible tap routine to that one song.”

“Steve tap dances?” Sam asked as he dropped into the only open chair at the table. He waved the fry plate over, and Victor grudgingly passed it along.

“I know, to see him dance in hold, you’d think he has no rhythm. But put him in tap shoes and send him off on his own, and he’ll blow your mind, darling,” Peggy chuckled.

“Okay, but back to the question. You’re doing a routine together. Bucky is practicing stuff by himself. We’re a bunch of idiots, you know?”

“Um, come again?” Darcy prompted.

“We just need to tell Steve that Bucky has some ideas he wants to go over with Steve privately, and send him to the private practice rink. We were always only going to get them together on the ice. This is perfect.”

There was silence around the table for an extended moment, broken only when Darcy breathed out, “Well, shit!”

&&&


Kill U with my Thighs @romanovaqueen 2h
How soon can we buy tix 2 gala

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 105m
Patience young padewan

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 104m
We r discussing how many shows

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 103m
U guys were so great for practice, we’re thinking 2 weekends

Kill U with my Thighs @romanovaqueen 100m
How many nights?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 99m
Talking it over with gang. Cld b 2 4 6 maybe

Kill U with my Thighs @romanovaqueen 90m
Squeeeeee. I want tix to all!


Steve let himself into private practice rink C feeling both nervous and thrilled. Bucky had asked to talk to him. Granted, it was about their shared routine for the gala, but it was just the two of them, no one else, face to face. Maybe Steve could finally get a read on the gorgeous Russian, and figure out what was going on.

He had his hopes and dreams where Bucky was concerned. But he also had his fears and concerns.

He stood in the corner, quietly watching Bucky move across the ice to the rhythmic beat of Gaga.

“I can be good, if you just wanna be bad
I can be cool, if you just wanna be mad
I can be anything, I’ll be your everything
Just touch me baby, I don’t wanna be sad.”

Bucky was seductive as he moved forward in entreaty, then coiled back in fear, tacking across the ice in a push and pull that was mesmerizing. Then the beat shifted in the chorus, and Bucky moved into complex weave of twizzles and modified Charlottes, spinning on the ice, skating forward, then pivoting his body on his stationary leg, then launching into the next twizzle. It was an interesting combination of elements, one that might earn some serious pointage for its difficulty and originality.

“As long as I’m your hooker (back up and turn around)
As long as I’m your hooker (hands on the ground)
As long as I’m your hooker (back up and turn around)
As long as I’m your hooker (get down).”

Then he raised his gloved hands to face height, clenched his fists, and started spinning in place, only to strike out with his right pick to abruptly halt the spin in a spray of ice. And again. And again.

“Hooker (yeah, you’re my hooker)
Hooker (government hooker)
Hooker (yeah, you’re my hooker)
Hooker (government hooker).

I’m gonna drink my tears tonight
I’m gonna drink my tears and cry
‘Cause I know you love me, baby
I know you love me, baby.”

Another abrupt change in choreography, and Bucky was picking up speed, and Steve could see him shifting his weight in approach to a jump. A nicely rotated triple lutz! As he attacked element after element, Steve found himself wondering if Bucky had any quads in his arsenal, and just why he was a pairs skater when he was clearly capable of being a top-tier singles skater.

Finally, Bucky’s routine brought him around to the end of the rink where Steve was standing, trying to be small and unobtrusive so he could just watch, and Bucky spied him, and coasted over toward him, hands on hips, and a scowl on his beautiful face.

“Steve! What the fuck? This is a private session. What don’t you get about that?” Bucky berated Steve, and Steve took a step back, frowning.

“First of all, fuck you, too, Barnes. Natasha told me you were looking for me and wanted to go over some possibilities for our shared routine –“

“What the hell? I didn’t say anything about that. Now, lemme get back to my thing, okay – I don’t have anything to discuss with you Steve –“

“Yes, you do!” called Natasha through the door cracked open. “And you’re not leaving this rink until you do!” Then the door snicked shut, and they could see the deadbolt get thrown.

“What the – Natasha, open this door immediately!”

“Talk first. Door after,” she called, and they could both hear the titter of laughter from several people on the other side of the door.

“I think we’re stuck. So … let’s talk about what you just did. It was amazing, Bucky.”

&&&


SashaNat is Hawt @robarnes2002 22m
Will we get to see C&R and R&B together on ice again?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 20m
Magic 8 ball says prospects look good

Quad Lutz Groopie @skating_squee 19m
Yuris & victor?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 18m
Both Yuris same time with VN? Eh. Don’t get hopes up

Hes mine u cant have him @mrsrogers 15m
2 hrs steve skating im happy

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 14m
Hed be deadtired!

Hes mine u cant have him @mrsrogers 10m
Ill take care of him!


They kind of stared at each other for a long moment. Then Bucky noticed Steve had his skates thrown over his shoulder, and he told him to put them on, show him what he’d got. Without a word, Steve nodded, and sat down on a bench by the wall to put on his skates while Bucky skated aimless circles at the rinkside opening, his gloved hands fisted on his hips. He skated up to the wall as Steve stepped on and put his hand out to Steve; Steve took it, and they then wordlessly started skating around the rink, just a simple stroking motion, their hands still linked.

Bucky wasn’t quite sure why he put his hand out to Steve, or why he was still holding his hand, but even through the leather, he could feel the heat of Steve pouring into him. He longed to feel skin, but that would mean revealing his shame.

When he’d looked into Steve’s eyes, he’d seen wonder, admiration, pleasure … and something else? Something more personal, more potentially frightening? Perhaps something wonderful?

He couldn’t tell, but he needed to know. He’d shut Natasha out because all she did was push, but she offered no solutions.

Here was Steve, and there was no time like the present. If only he’d say something …

“Race ya?” Steve grinned at him.

&&&


Thailand’s Finest @phichitchulanontofficial 25m
Nething?

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 24m
All quiet

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 23m
Maybe theyre ded

One Hot Katsudon @katsukiyuriofficial 22m
I have faith

Victor Nikiforov @victornikiforovofficial 21m
U have keys?

One Hot Katsudon @katsukiyuriofficial 20m
U know it


They raced for a while, circuit after circuit of the small rink, each trying to push forward, and the other catching up and sprinting ahead. As they grew faster and faster, they started grabbing at each other to slingshot themselves past the other. They laughed and giggled like children, stumbling and tripping each other, sliding across the ice on their butts or their knees, and scrambling back to their feet and racing off.

Then they started doing tricks, each one egging the other on, grabbing each other’s hands and spinning in circles, then doing solo tricks until they were popping quads and spins and spirals. Steve slowed down a little to pace Bucky, moved closer and jokingly claimed he could throw Bucky in a double axel, and with a grin, Bucky challenged him to actually do it.

Then they moved into the embrace of the throw hold, their bodies heated from all the horseplay, breathing hard, and suddenly they were face to face. Steve stopped, staring into Bucky’s eyes, then let his gaze drop to Bucky’s lips. Bucky felt his heart lurch and clench, then flutter as his stomach swooped dangerously as Steve’s hand slid down his spine to cradle him in the small of his back. He sucked in a breath and willed his nerves to steady as his gloved hands moved out of position of the throw to tangle in Steve’s hair. Again, he longed to feel, this time the silky hairs caught between his fingers, and soft skin of Steve’s neck.

“You know this is just like a bad romcom, right? Our friends locking us in here, playing fucking matchmakers like they’re Julia Roberts or some such shit,” Steve said, perhaps the most unromantic thing he could have thought to say. Surprisingly, it was the right thing to say, and Bucky felt his nerves calm.

“But who doesn’t like a good romcom, huh? Y’gotta believe in love, don’t you?” Bucky whispered, feeling Steve’s other hand shift to cup the back of his neck tenderly, urging him forward with a gentle pressure.

“So, I guess now is as good a time to tell you I’m gay,” Steve said softly, lips parted as he leaned closer but not touching, not yet. “And I really, really like you, Bucky Barnes.”

“Hmm. Then I guess now would be a good time to tell you that I too am gay,” Bucky agreed, his voice hushed. “And I think I like you, too, Steve Rogers.”

“So, then, now would be a good time to tell me to stop,” Steve replied, ghosting his lips over Bucky’s.

Bucky tightened his hold, drawing Steve closer. “Don’t.”

“Don’t what?”

Don’t stop.”

Steve smiled then, looking into Bucky’s eyes as he lifted his hand to smooth Bucky’s hair back, then cradle Bucky’s cheek in the palm of his hand. “I was really hoping you’d say that,” he said softly, his smile broadening as his lips drew closer to Bucky’s. Bucky couldn’t help but smile back, and smiling, they kissed. Soft, quiet, chaste, barely there and yet so intense that Bucky felt his lips catch fire. Then each of them shifted slightly, finding a better angle, and their lips touched again. This time, Bucky surged up into the kiss, arms circling around Steve’s impossible shoulders, while Steve’s hands smoothed down Bucky’s back to hold him close at the waist. And as they kissed, they started to rotate lazily, no longer circling each other’s orbits, but spinning slowly together on their shared axis.

&&&


Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 10m
Rivalry between Carter & Rogers and Romanova & Barnes heating up!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 10m
Join us for the New Cold War

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 10m
Lets get it trending kids!

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 10m
#newcoldwar

Sayresbury Watch @sayresbury_watch 10m
See you in august!


Eventually, they moved off the ice and settled onto a bench in the corner of the space, where they could keep an eye on the door, but they weren’t in a direct line of sight when their friends finally opened the door and set them free.

It wasn’t so easy keeping an eye on the door when their eyes were closed as they kissed, but it only took a moment or two before neither of them cared.

It wasn’t easy to think straight when their brains were steeping in hormonal soup, and their bodies responded to every kiss and touch. Bucky was the first to break away, pulling back breathlessly as his left hand trailed down the contours of Steve’s deliciously developed chest. “Is this … is this real?” he asked softly.

“I want it to be. You?” Steve answered gently, letting his hand close over Bucky’s and hold it fast.

Bucky nodded, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed hard. “I … I am not out. At home –“

“It’s dangerous, I know. I’m not out, either. I’m not ready to share something so …”

“Private?”

“Precious. Something so precious. With the public. I’d like … I’d like to take this slow, see where it takes us. I don’t want people interfering or passing judgment –“

“Our friends –“

“Are a necessary evil. But they’ll keep our secret.”

Bucky smiled then, and leaned over to kiss Steve’s lips again. “I have a secret I must share with you, then. Before we go any further, I …” He glanced down at his hands, still encased in leather. He turned them over, frowning at his palms. Steve laid his hands over Bucky’s and squeezed gently.

“You don’t have to do anything you’re not ready to do. We can take our time, I promise you –“

“It’s not that. I haven’t shown many people. And never someone … someone I like, like I like you.” He pursed his lips, willing down the hesitation. He needed to know. Needed to know how Steve would react when he saw him. The real him.

He pulled off his right glove and set it on the bench between them. Then, taking a deep breath, he pulled off the left, and held the naked hand out to Steve, palm down. Scar up.

Steve took his hand reverently, silently, and let his thumb caress the lines of the tattoo and then the scar.

“It’s a burn,” Steve whispered.

“From a fire.”

Steve lifted the hand to his lips, and pressed a kiss into the center of the scarring, his eyes intent on Bucky’s. “Why do you hide it? It’s part of you.”

Bucky explained the bias against tattoos in Russia, explained that before he covered it, too many people were disgusted by the sight of his damaged flesh. The tattoo put him in control, but he’d quickly learned that the tattoo didn’t make it any easier to show off his arm and hand. So they’d remained hidden for years now.

Steve’s other hand circled Bucky’s wrist, and gently slid up his arm, pushing Bucky’s jacket and shirt up just a little. “May I?”

“Do you really want to see?”

Steve nodded solemnly.

Bucky counted his breaths for a long moment, then nodded decisively, standing up and stepping away so he had room to move. His eyes never left Steve’s as he first shrugged off his jacket, tossing it on the bench. Then he curled his nude fingers around the edge of his shirt, checking in again to make sure that this is what Steve wanted. Then he breathed out in a whoosh, and suddenly had the shirt up and over his head, flung to the floor. Like stripping off a bandage, he left himself no quarter. He stood there, naked from the waist up in the frigid rink, his skin hot and prickly with imagined embarrassment, imagined shame. He still held Steve’s eyes, and felt emotion explode in his chest as Steve rose, his eyes full of awe, his fingers reaching out to the edge of the tattoo covering the cap of his shoulder, tracing down his arm in segmented plates of metal, like a mechanical construct.

“It’s beautiful,” Steve breathed, pressing his lips to the top of Bucky’s shoulder.

“It is ugly. You don’t have to lie to me.”

“I’m not lying. It’s part of you. It’s beautiful.”

Tears slid down Bucky’s face.

Steve’s lips moved down the line of scarring, as his fingers intertwined with Bucky’s. “Does it give you pain? Is this why you see Sam every day?”

“A little. He helps with the shoulder joint, too. You were right – he is a wizard.”

“Can I ask …?” Another kiss to the top of his arm.

“My first rink. There’d been a power failure, and the place was running on an old backup generator. It exploded, the building was instantly in flames. I … I tried to help.”

“How old were you?” A kiss to his bicep.

“I was ten. My father, he’d died only a year before. Helping his coworkers escape when his work site had an explosion. He was killed when the building collapsed while he was trying to help people get out.”

“So you had to do the same thing? Risk everything for strangers –“ A kiss to the crook of his elbow.

“Natasha was in there. She was my friend. There were other little kids, some younger than me. This was my home rink. I knew everyone. There was screaming. All I knew was that they couldn’t die like that. So I … so I helped. I got caught under debris, but the others - they got me out.”

“How long were you in the hospital after?” A kiss to his forearm, raised to his lips and held there by both of Steve’s hands.

“Over a month. Sam noticed there’d been a skin graft. It healed wrong. There was infection.”

“So you are brave as well as beautiful. And stupid. I think we may be a match made in heaven, Bucky Barnes,” Steve told him wryly, pressing a kiss against Bucky’s wrist.

“Yeah?” Bucky asked, turning his hand in Steve’s grasp to expose the sensitive skin of his inner wrist. Steve smiled and kissed there, too, moving down to his palm, planting a kiss, and then turning his hand over to ghost his lips across Bucky’s knuckles.

“Yeah. I’m pretty much known for Stupid Steve Tricks, too. Or so … well, pretty much everybody I know tells me. Including my Mom.”

“Do you come with a warning?”

“Oh yeah. Beware of Steve Rogers. Only the bravest need apply.”

“You said I was brave.”

“The bravest.”

“Okay.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

This was real. This was happening. Bucky shivered slightly, and Steve smiled, pulling him close and wrapping him in his arms, the heat radiating off Steve’s body, the closeness, the care, warming Bucky from the inside out. And they were kissing again, and barely noticed the sound of the lock being thrown, or the door opening, or the soft chorus of, “Ooooooh,” that greeted the sight of the two of them wrapped up in each other’s arms.

And Bucky didn’t flinch when he felt someone drape his jacket over his naked shoulders, a small hand reaching up to pat him fondly on his left shoulder, followed by soft footfalls that moved away, and the sound of the click as the door snicked shut once more.

Some days it was good to have friends, even if they were pushy and nosy and didn’t take no for an answer. Even if they fought against you in a war you thought you had to win, a war in which you were fighting against yourself. Who knew enough to step away and let nature finally – finally! – take its course.

Some days those were the best friends to have.


#withfriendslikethese #ifoundmysoulmate #itsgood2bhome