It’s a quiet night. Bucky ties up his hair in a low ponytail and looks at the scribbled order that Steve handed him a few minutes ago. One blonde pint and two Guinness. Good.
“‘Good evening to you, too. What can I do for you?” Bucky says, a sarcastic tone in his voice. With his peripheral view, he sees Clint coming into the pub and waves in his direction with a little smile.
“I want a Mojito,” the man in front of him states. Bucky doesn’t even look at the man, he doesn’t care, and smiles at Clint while pouring a Guinness for him. Clint doesn’t look amused and Bucky grins. Clint hates that beer.
“Oi!” the mojito-man says again.
“I don’t make that shit,” Bucky replies. He pours another beer, a double malt red one, and Clint nods with a joyful squint, sitting on the stool. Bucky puts the Guinness in a corner of the counter bar for himself and hands the red beer to Clint.
“Oh I am so sorry, I was thinking this was a pub- Oh wait, it is ! And I am a customer! So, if I want a fucking mojito, you’ll make it for me!”
Bucky lets the man have his little breakdown and stares silently, his arms crossed on his chest. When the man stops yelling, Bucky raises an eyebrow, unimpressed, and his metal arm glints in the warm light. The man in front of him notices it immediately. His eyes go from the prosthetic arm to the shiny plaque behind Bucky that says: We went to war, we survived, we came back. Be kind or we will kick your ass . Bucky sees the comprehension lighting up the man’s face and makes a little grin. Bucky already knows what the man is going to say before he opens his mouth.
“Or... or maybe not? I’ll have a beer. Blonde. Small-- You know what, man? You know what I want.” The man stays still for a moment, then turns back to his friends - table number two. Good to know. Bucky will give them a five percent surcharge.
“Oh my God, that was hilarious!” Clint says, laughing. Bucky grins and cheers with him. Then he starts pouring the blonde beer for the jackass. A pint.
“Buck,” Steve’s voice makes him turn to his right, where his best friend for life is looking at him, disappointed.
“What? He asked for a beer, I’m pouring him a beer,” Bucky says, the glass in his hand almost full.
Steve looks unimpressed. “Half pint, Bucky. Don’t make me repeat it.”
Bucky rolls his eyes, but makes a smaller blond beer and brings it to the idiot at table number two.
“Killjoy,” Clint mutters. Bucky shrugs and takes a sip of his beer.
“Weren’t you supposed to be out of town the whole week?” he asks since it’s Wednesday, and he remembers very well Clint canceled their regular Thursday night out a couple of days before. They’re friends, good friends - in fact, they are a little bit co-dependent, if he listens to Sam, but he never listens to Sam. They’re just friends, and have this night a week to hang out together, go drink beers and talk, or see a movie, or go dancing. Sam calls these nights dates , but again, Bucky thinks Sam is an idiot and doesn’t knows what he’s talking about. Clint and him are just really good friends and Bucky likes spending his day off with Clint, mostly. But that doesn’t mean Bucky has a crush on him, okay? It’s just that he likes Clint more than anybody else.
“I was. And then I came back. Earlier, ‘cause I’m the best.” Clint says with a grin.
“You did something wrong and Natasha kicked your ass?” Bucky asks.
Clint looks outraged. “I did nothing wrong, and Natasha loves me!”
“Kate, then.” Bucky says and Clint looks even more outraged.
“You’re a jackass and I sincerely don’t know why we are friends.”
“That would be because you are a jackass, too.”
“Mh,” Clint agrees and makes Bucky laugh. Then the door opens, and someone walks inside, self confidence coming out of every pore and a cheeky grin on his lips.
“Hey losers,” it’s Tony’s Hello . “Where is the love of my life?” he asks, heading to the counter, as Bucky reaches for the box of champagne that they keep in the little storage fridge under the counter just for him. The flute is ready in two steps (open the bottle, pour the champagne) and Tony smiles and reaches for it.
“Thanks, buddy. Now... where is the other love of my life?”
“Tony? What are you doing here?” Steve arrives in that very moment, with a smile full of surprise, and Tony’s eyebrows go up.
“Here he is, tall, blonde and gorgeous. Don’t you want me here? Are you hiding someone, Rogers?”
Steve blinks and rolls his eyes. “Yeah, sure, I’m cheating on you and hiding my lover in my pub. In fact, the people you see in here are not customers, they’re all my lovers.”
Steve embraces the room they’re in with his eyes. The counter occupies a good portion of the area right in front of the door, while tables are all positioned around it. From where they are, they cannot see the bigger table where Tony, Clint, Nat and their other friends usually sit, right behind the now empty fireplace. That is Steve’s favourite spot during wintertime. A customer comes out of the other, smaller room they have, the more intimate one, with few tables and softer lights.
Tony fell in love with the place as fast as he fell in love with Steve. Its’ chaotic, full of old pictures on the walls, strange collection items swinging from the ceiling, dusty lights, and an impressive collection of bottles and steins from all over the world, stuffed all around the walls.
“Well, you know what they say, the best place for hiding a tree is a forest,” Tony shrugs, but smiles and Steve kisses him welcome.
“Wrong,” Clint takes a sip of his beer. “Best place for hiding a tree is a carpentry. No one will search for a tree where the trees are not trees anymore.”
The other three men look at Clint, and then is Bucky who speaks. “Well, the best place for hiding a corpse is a tomb,” he says, ‘cause Clint is right, and Clint grins at him and cheers.
Steve blinks a couple of times and then turns to Tony, smiling. “I’m not hiding any corpse,”
“Mh,” Tony says. “I believes you, for now.” And then kisses Steve again.
“Hey! Hey, dude! Why the hell you can have champagne while I have to drink this cheap-ass beer?” the idiot from table two says, looking at the flute in Tony’s hand.
Oh fucking God. Bucky is losing his patience with that guy, for real.
“‘Cause I own him.” Tony replies with a smirk, and Bucky frowns.
“You don’t own me.”
“I own your arm.”
“Donation!” Steve shouts, going behind the counter to take the tray already full of beers for table number eight.
“Oh my God, Steve! It’s Tony’s fault!”
“Double, Bucky,” Steve says, pointing at the jar under the bar. “And stop fighting like children, you two,” he adds, while Bucky slips two dollars into the swear jar. Yes, they have a swear jar, and every time Bucky swears - and he does that a lot - he has to make a donation, as Steve calls it. At the end of the year, Steve could get himself something nice, but he gives it all to charity, because he’s Steve.
“This is not a fight, sweetheart. It’s foreplay. The kind that you don’t like, you know?” Tony says. Predictably, Steve’s cheeks go pink and Tony grins, stretching over the counter to whisper to him: “I’m not complaining. I love a man who knows what he wants and goes down to take it.”
Steve goes completely red and leans towards Tony, desperate for any kind of contact with him.
“No screwing on the counter bar, you know the rule, Stevie.” Bucky mutters.
“I’m not-- We’re not--Shut up!” Steve says and runs away with the tray.
“Ah man, you’re a horrible friend,” Tony says to Bucky.
“Yeah, I know, but he is too.” Bucky replies with a shrug. Tony and Clint laugh and laugh and Bucky grins, ‘cause everybody has the kind of friends they deserve, and he and Steve deserve the horrible friends kind, lucky them.
Tony came into Bucky and Steve’s lives two years ago. He was drunk, broken and homeless, and Steve fell in love with him at the third smile. They gave him a home and a job, and soon Tony became an important part of their lives. Thanks to Tony, Bucky had his prosthetic arm upgraded - and that’s an understatement, given that, when he lost his arm in combat, he was given a heavy, static fake one. Stark’s prosthetic was almost as heavy as his natural arm, and allowed him to move it, to pick up things, to lift decent weights. Even their air conditioner came back to life, too. At least for a while.
“I can’t believe you already broke it again,” Tony says, climbing on the liquor cabinet behind the counter. His jacket lies abandoned on the stool next to Clint, who won’t stop eating his fries and drinking beer with Kate.
“I did not break anything. It’s that damn thing that doesn't work properly!” Bucky says, pouring beers for a new customer.
“Liar. The last week I saw you throwing a half empty bottle of vodka at it,” Kate says, smiling innocently, and when Bucky takes away the fries and Clint mutters, outraged, she rises an eyebrow to his friend. “What are you, a child?”
“Hey, why do I have to be punished when you are the one who made him angry?” Clint protests.
“I’m punishing you ‘cause she is your responsibility, ” Bucky intrudes.
“She is not.”
“I am not,” They say in unison.
Bucky stays still and Kate rolls her eyes. “Okay, fine. I’m sorry, Bucky . I probably misinterpreted. Even if that would be the first time in my entire life.”
“There’s always a first time,” Bucky says, giving back the fries.
Clint pats Kate on her shoulder. “Good job, kid.”
“You need to sort out your priorities,” she shoots back, but the other ignores her.
“Okay, done,” Tony says, jumping down from the cabinet. “And please, don’t throw anything at it again.”
“I don’t throw anything anywhere.”
“Yeah, sure,” Tony pats Bucky’s metal arm with a smile. “Never again, okay?” He repeats and Bucky rolls his eyes. Then Tony’s phone rings and the man goes away with his flute full and the phone already at his ear. “Pepper! Light of my life! What can I do for you?”
Bucky looks at that man who stole Steve’s heart and laughs, low and quite. Nobody would have given them a single penny, in the best case scenario, but Bucky saw those two fall so hard for each other that he has no doubt about their future. Steve and Tony are happy, even when they fight, and scream at each other and don’t talk for days. Sooner or later, one of them always makes that one single step that says to Bucky that they are living the happily ever after kind of love.
Deep inside his heart, Bucky hopes to find that for himself, too. Maybe with someone like Clint - or even the original Clint, if Bucky lets himself dream about it.
“So, big plans for tomorrow?” Kate asks and Bucky’s eyebrow go up while he takes a sip from a new, iced pint.
Kate blinks and then turn to Clint, who is drinking his beer like the world depended on it. “Well, isn’t Thursday your weekly date night?” she asks.
Clint doesn’t flinch.“Well, yeah. I was thinking--”
“That’s never a good sign.”
“Ah-fucking-ah, Barnes. Shut up and listen, okay? It’s almost two years since you have that shiny new arm of yours, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“Then, it’s time to prove your ability. You can’t go around and tell everyone that you were the best sniper in the damn Delta Force without showing some evidence.”
“I can because I was. And you know what? I still am, fuck you very much. I’ll prove it to you. Choose a place and time, Barton, I’ll kick your ass upside down.”
Clint grins and nods, and offers him a little card with splashes of colours on it. “Tomorrow. Me, you and a loaded shotgun.”
Bucky is so unimpressed. “Paintball? Seriously?”
“What? Too macho to get dirty?”
“No. In fact, I was wondering about you and your ass.”
Clint smirks. “What’s about it, Bucky bear?”
“Well, it will be difficult for you to sit on your butt, after I’ll have it nice and kicked all day long.”
Clint laughs and Bucky smiles - ‘cause he’s an idiot and has a mothereffing crush on Clint, but he’ll be damned before admitting that Sam is right.
“Paintball? Cool!" and yes, of course it’s Sam, who walks right through them with a smile, ‘cause Bucky is so lucky . "When?"
"Tomorrow," Kate answers, and Sam takes the cardboard from Bucky's hand.
"Really cool. Hey, Steve! What do you think about paintball, tomorrow? Me and you against these two losers.”
Steve blinks and turns to look at Tony, at table number five - their table - with Natasha. “Tomorrow? Well, technically Tony and I already have something to do and I don't--”
Tony waves a hand dismissively. “Oh, stop with that look, you big baby. Who cares of what we have planned to do? We can do it whenever we want. And you know what I think about paintball, Steve. Paintball wins everything. And you know what? You guys do not have any chances against me and Natasha, right sweetheart?”
“You can say it, Stark. And don't call me that way never again,” She says with a terrifying smile. Fuck, Bucky loves and fears that smile - like whoever knows Natasha.
“Wow wow wow. Are all of you coming?” Clint says, standing up from his stool.
“Yes, Clint, we’re coming," Sam says. Then he smiles, slow and quite, putting a hand on Clint's shoulder, but looking at Bucky. "Unless it’s a date, that is. Because, if it’s a date, say a word and I’ll make sure no one will come and interrupt you.” And - ah, fuck, of course. Sam is a monster and Bucky cannot forget that. Like, ever.
“Sam, Jesus, shut up, okay? Two pals can go out and have fun without wanting to bang each other, you know?” Bucky says, 'cause Sam always says things like that, and Clint will eventually get tired of it, sooner or later. Who wouldn’t? There is always an end for someone’s patience, even when that someone is Clint, who’s really patient and never has a problem with those stupid bad jokes.
“Two pals? Sure. You two? Nah,” Sam says and Bucky rolls his eyes.
"So... tomorrow, then?" Steve asks, looking at Bucky - because he's a really good friend, and any sign from Bucky would be enough for Steve to cancel every plan and leave the two of them alone. Bucky almost considers it, but then he would have to explain it to Clint, and things would get awkward really fast.
Bucky sighs and doesn't look at Clint. "10 a.m.?"
"Actually, I already had booked for noon. Is it okay for everyone?"
"Noon? Late sleep morning, I see, you really are trying hard to woo him, aren’t you? But don’t worry, you already got him," Sam says with a smirk. Clint looks at him unimpressed, and Bucky feels panic coming up, 'cause Clint will understand everything sooner or later, if Sam doesn't stop with that stupid shit.
"Tomorrow, at noon. Deal?" Bucky asks, and everyone nods.
"Good. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I've got to pee," Clint says, instead, and leaves.
Bucky follows him with his eyes until he disappears behind the corner, and sighs. Fuck, he needs to talk to Sam and cut that fucking shit.
"How about you? Don't you want to shoot at your boss?" Sam asks Kate, who rises an eyebrow.
"Clint’s not my boss, and I can shoot at him whenever I want," Kate stands up and stretches, collecting her purse. "However, I have more important things to do that lurking on my friends," she adds with a angry look to Sam. After that, she leaves, without another word.
Everything goes quiet for a while. And in that moment Bucky realises what the radio is playing.
“What the fuck is this shit?” he murmurs and switch it off. “Country music in my playlist? Are you for real, Spotify?”
There’s a disappointed hum from table two, but with one look from Bucky, they stop.
Clint eventually comes back, but doesn’t look at him, and sits at the table with Tony and Nat. Bucky sighs and keeps filling the new orders.