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For Good Luck

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Bucky’s been driving Steve crazy ever since they moved in together. Rent in NYC is astronomical and so it just made sense to find an apartment together. Steve loves their little Brooklyn flat, even if it’s kind of far from his work and, well-- tiny. Or maybe it’s just that Bucky takes up a lot of room in their apartment.

Bucky, who does things like order two large pizzas almost every Friday night and leave no leftovers.

Bucky, whose bathrobe stopped fitting about thirty pounds ago.

Bucky, who goes shirtless more often than not because he’s “hot.”

Steve’s rapidly reaching his breaking point.

***

Sam and Natasha are throwing a “housewarming” party at their tiny new Midtown apartment, and Steve’s simultaneously excited about it and dreading it. Excited, because Natasha always makes copious amounts of the best appetizers he’s ever had, and dreading it, because he knows what’s going to happen. Bucky will get tipsy and eat all the things, and Steve will get tipsy and end up doing something really lame like jerking off in the bathroom or taking surreptitious Snapchat pictures of Bucky’s gut.

At least he has his new work friend Sharon to snap these pictures to. Sharon, who, upon first viewing Bucky, said-- in none too quiet tones-- “What a bear!”

Recently, Sharon has been encouraging Steve to tell Bucky how he feels.

He obviously likes u!!!” she texts that night as Steve’s getting ready. Steve sighs, waiting for her to finish typing before he responds. “If u got together u could just have one bed and sell the other!

Steve smiles in spite of himself. Sharon’s now resorted to appealing to his practical side. This isn’t the first time she’s made this argument-- in fact, they’d discussed it at lunch just today. Steve has to admit, it’s tempting-- if he and Bucky started sharing a room-- and a bed-- they could use the other bedroom as a studio. And he could use the money from selling the bed to take Bucky out for dinner. A large dinner.

Steve texts Sharon back as he’s pulling on his shoes: “Leaving for the party now. Meeting Bucky there. Will update if I do anything stupid.

Sharon immediately texts back: “so Bucky’s coming from work?? Hes gonna POP out of that dress shirt and u know it!!!

Sometimes Steve is glad for Sharon’s enthusiasm for his own enthusiasm for Bucky’s body. However, sometimes-- often-- it’s more of a hindrance than a help. He swallows down a little flame of arousal and thinks really hard about his mother’s cankles. There. He can do this. He can totally do this. Even when Bucky’s popping buttons off of his already too-tight dress shirt because he can’t control himself around Nat’s appetizers. Even when Bucky gets a little tipsy and starts doing things like slinging his meaty arms around Steve’s shoulders so that his gut is pressed up against Steve’s side. Yup. He can… totally, completely handle this.

Steve spends the entire subway ride thinking about stupid Bucky and his stupid too-tight shirts.

***

Steve’s standing against a wall when Bucky comes in, and as much as Steve appreciates Bucky’s face, his scruff, his man bun and his general everything, he’d be lying if he didn’t say that Bucky’s gingham-covered gut was the first thing he noticed.

The shirt’s ridiculous anyway, all the colors of the rainbow straining in colorful checks, as if there’s some pot of gold they can reach beyond the overtaxed white buttons. The appetizers are generously stocked at the party, and Steve is sure that Bucky’s buttons don’t stand a chance of surviving the evening with their dignity intact.

Then again, neither does he.

But Bucky waves from across the room and ducks into the bathroom, and when he opens the door, Steve groans and grabs for his phone.

“He CHANGED but it’s not better. It’s worse. So much worse.”

Because this situation requires emphasis, he attaches a gif of The Scream.

“snaps or it didnt happen!!”

Steve raises his phone as if he’s replying, quickly opening Snapchat and readying his phone to take a stealth snap -- a move he could do with his eyes closed, the muscle memory is so vivid -- but he glances down and can’t even manage to move his index finger to tap the circle.

Bucky’s making his way through the crowd, and now it’s thin blue cotton that will be the stuff of Steve’s dreams. He has to know. It’s on purpose, he’s clearly torturing Steve on purpose. Except for that to be true, he’d have to see Steve as anything but his best buddy.

Still, the shirt is obscene in both its fit and its message, and Steve so desperately wants to take Bucky up on what seems to be an open invitation, sprawled in faded white letters across the expanse of his belly.

Rub My Belly for Good Luck, it says, underneath a little cartoon of a fat and happy-about-it Buddha.

Steve’s not really concerned with whether there’s luck involved. He just wants to get his hands on Bucky. He takes a hasty gulp of his summer shandy, trying to buy himself some time, and then Bucky’s belly sways into touching distance, and he chokes.

Bucky’s hand is on his back, patting firmly as Steve gasps for breath.

“You okay there, buddy?” Bucky looks concerned, eyes crinkling at the corners. From up close, Steve can see the little shots of grey in his dark beard.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m good.” Steve takes a fortifying swig of his Leinie’s and forces a smile. “Hey, you try one of these yet?” He holds up the bottle and Bucky’s interest is immediately piqued.

“No. Any good?” Bucky smiles and Steve could just kiss him right then and there.

“Yeah,” Steve replies, seemingly incapable of making actual conversation. He’d been prepared for the tortured dress shirt, but he did not plan on this goddamn t-shirt, and he’s thrown.

“Here,” Steve says, in lieu of other things. “Let me grab you one.”

And if he grabs Bucky a plate of appetizers, too, what of it? It was on the way, and if Bucky’s grin is any indication, it was a good choice. The tiny bit of guilt in the pit of Steve’s stomach will just have to learn to shut up -- or get drowned by another shandy. Yeah, that seems like a good idea.

***

An hour later, Steve’s tipsy and half-listening to Viz, one of his old college buddies -- now a Ph.D student at Columbia -- talk about his latest A.I. lab experiments. He and Bucky had met Viz-- short for ‘Jarvis’, somehow; poor kid, named after his dad-- in the dorms at NYU and he’d helped the both of them limp through Physics with passing grades. He’s more than a little robotic and technical, like the robots he studies, but he’s always been a favorite of Steve’s. And he should really honor him by paying more attention to him, but he just really can’t right now. Not when Bucky’s still parading around belly-first in that frankly obscene t-shirt.

Luckily, Viz doesn’t need much more than an occasional “uh-huh” or “mm-hmm” to keep going, so Steve’s mostly just keeping at least one eye on Bucky, who’s now chatting up some little dark-haired dude with a goatee and $500 jeans.

“Wait--” Steve interrupts Viz, who looks confused. “Who’s that?” He jabs a finger in Bucky’s direction, already feeling the jealousy prickle in the back of his throat.

Viz’ face breaks into a rare smile. “Oh, over there with James?” (Viz never quite got the hang of “Bucky,” saying he was too British for such nicknames. Privately, Steve thinks that someone who goes by ‘Viz’ really shouldn’t have such qualms.)

“Yeah.” Steve’s hand is worrying the neck of his beer bottle, and he takes a big gulp to steady himself.

“Oh, yes!” Viz looks delighted. “That’s my friend from school, Tony. Biomechanical engineer,” he informs Steve, as if Steve cares about anything than the fact that it seems like maybe this Tony character is hitting on Bucky. His Bucky.

“Canyouintroduceme?” Steve asks, all in a rush, and Viz blinks, and then nods.

And then they’re over by Bucky and-- Tony-- and Steve’s almost vibrating with anger. Viz makes the pleasantries and introductions and all Steve can focus on is that it seemed like maybe Tony was flirting with Bucky.

He has to do something. He excuses himself quickly and heads to the bathroom, which Natasha has decorated in some sort of thrift-store Art Deco-meets-the-80s scheme. He texts Sharon.

SOS some yuppie Columbia PhD student is all over MY Bucky”

Sharon immediately messages back. God bless Generation Z. For all of their grammatical shortcomings, at least they are always plugged in.

Shit. do something to distract him!!”

“Like… KISS HIM”

“Or bring him more food lol”

Three texts come in rapidly from Sharon, and Steve sighs.

Luckily, when he comes out of the bathroom, his problem is solved. Tony’s arm is around the waist of one of the hottest women Steve’s ever seen-- a tall, leggy strawberry blonde.

“My fiancé, Pepper,” Tony says, by way of greeting, as Steve rejoins the group.

“Charmed,” Steve says, with evident relief, and immediately excuses himself again to get another beer.

He returns with a scowl and another plate of nibbles for Bucky, which he unceremoniously shoves into Bucky’s hands.

“Thanks, pal,” Bucky says cheerfully, and starts to munch right away. Steve’s irritation evaporates and he realizes, absently, that he might be a little drunk.

Well. Maybe more than a little.

***

By the time Steve finally manages to shed Viz, Tony, and Pepper, Bucky’s a little drunk, too. It’s impressive-- Bucky’s a big guy (and Steve can never forget that), so he must’ve had more to drink than Steve realized. As for Steve, well, he passed tipsy a beer or two ago. It’s not that he ever forgets how small he is -- he owns a mirror, after all -- but Bucky’s forever telling him that it’s amazing he can cram all that attitude into a 62-inch frame. And so sometimes he drinks to the capacity of his attitude instead of his body, which probably explains why he’s standing so close to Bucky, laughing directly into his face.

He is incredibly conscious of the fact that he’s close enough to reach out and do just what Bucky’s shirt asks of him. Maybe he could get away with it without giving himself away, even, just a brush of fingers over the swell of that stomach, over where the BELLY stretches over the widest part, and oh, hey, sorry! So drunk, ha, and they could gloss right over it.

Or, you know, they could not. Steve’s fingers twitch at his sides, and this might be the best idea he’s ever had. But Bucky shoves another canape into his mouth and sways a little in a way that takes Steve’s target out of casual touching range, and Steve’s just drunk enough to step forward after him. Bucky’s listing a little, and Steve grabs both sides of the godawful menace that’s Bucky’s shirt and tugs him forward.

He was intending to steady Bucky on his feet, maybe work in that surreptitious belly touch, but he tugs harder than he meant to, and Bucky tilts forward, stumbling against Steve until there’s nothing surreptitious about the way the curve of his belly’s pushing against Steve.

OhGodhe’stouchingmeI’mtouchingthebellyohGod

He can’t send that text, but he composes it wildly in his head.

“Always thought it’d happen a little more… organically, but… ” Bucky says, and then he’s leaning down and sloppily kissing Steve on the lips. Hard.

Beer is organic, Steve thinks to himself, and then he stops thinking at all.

***

Then they’re in an Uber, and then they’re making out, and then Steve’s fumbling his keys into the apartment door. If Steve stopped to think about the way Bucky’s belly is pressing against him as they stumble through the doorway, he’d probably need to grab his inhaler, but then they’re on the couch and Bucky’s on top of him and ohgodohgod, the way Bucky’s practically crushing him into the saggy couch cushion is everything.

Bucky’s beard rasps over his neck and his cheek, and if this is how Steve dies, he’s not going to be mad, because his fingers are tangled in Bucky’s hair and they’re kissing and he’s hard, and Bucky’s shirt is creeping up as they make out, and ohgodohgod …

… and that’s the last thing Steve remembers.

***

Until the next morning, that is. When he wakes up to a throbbing head and-- oh god-- an empty bed.

What happened? He was kissing Bucky, and Bucky was kissing him back and lying on top of him with that huge gut almost smothering him in the very best possible way, and then… nothing.

Steve sits up and rubs his eyes hard, and then realizes that he can hear whistling from the kitchen. He makes his way there slowly-- Jesus, he’s so hungover-- and finds Bucky, looking cheerful, shirtless, and very, very huge. Making breakfast.

“Morning!” Bucky says, and moves away from the stove to press a big kiss to Steve’s cheek. “Thought you were going to sleep all day.”

Steve just blinks. Is this real life? He stares at the way Bucky’s belly sways a little when he moves back to the stove to expertly flip some eggs, and shakes his head. Nope. Still real. This hangover makes it all real.

“So… did we… um… “ Steve starts out, awkwardly, trailing off as Bucky meets his eyes and smiles. God, Steve could just live on the vision of those little eye crinkles and that deep belly button.

Bucky pauses in his cooking. “No. We didn’t. You fell asleep.”

Steve is ready to sink into the fucking linoleum when Bucky smiles again and winks. “Don’t worry, doll. We’ll get to that. But I need to eat first.”

Oh. Steve pretty much falls into his chair. If Bucky cooking makes for excellent viewing, Bucky eating is practically a spectator sport, and Steve would gladly attend every event.

Bucky sets a modest plate of bacon and eggs in front of Steve and then slides his own chair back from the table so he can settle into his seat. The plate in front of him is … not modest. But Bucky just grins at Steve and starts forking eggs into his mouth, while Steve watches like he paid to see it happen.

He hasn’t touched a bite of his own food, and Bucky’s plate is nearly empty. Bucky looks across the table, swallowing his last bite of bacon, and frowns.

“Not hungry?”

Steve shoves his chair back, and it screeches across the floor. “Starving.”

He stalks the few steps around the table and climbs into Bucky’s lap, reaching for the fork that clattered onto the table as he made his approach.

“Aren’t you hungry?”

“You have no idea,” Bucky mutters, and Steve runs a hand over his round belly, trailing his hand through the dark hair.

“You really are a bear,” he says without thinking, flushing red when Bucky gapes at him. Then his chubby cheeks contort into a smile and he makes his free hand into a claw.

“Then rawr.”

“Rawr? Seriously?”

Bucky sighs. “Are you gonna feed me or what, Stevie?”

Steve reaches over to the plate and gets a big bite of eggs and potatoes on the fork.

“Open wide.”