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It’s 4am and all he wanted was a mind-jolting shot of Mickey’s blackest but the sign on the door says ‘Open at 6’. Like 4am isn’t good enough.

“Well, Mickey ,” Bucky hissed, “Not all of us work Wall Street hours, you know.”

He turned and glared at the dark, cold and bleak street. It’s quiet and there’s one streetlight on across the road, but not much else could make this place look friendlier.

“Fine,” he grumbled and shifted his laptop bag on his shoulder. He’d been hoping to get in at Mickey’s and run through the last of his work, get what he could done before his 9am deadline. Why did he always do this? Why was he incapable of just meeting reasonable timelines? He sets them, for God’s sake! But he’d run out of instant coffee hours ago and he was tired. He’s got no one to blame but his own sorry self, really.

He trudged across the street, aiming for home. What was one more night of no sleep? He felt a yawn crack free of his chest, and he covered his mouth with the back of his hand.

He passed by the main drag that led out down to the highway and paused.

The 24-hour supermarket had one of those oversized, ridiculous signs that glowed so bright, even Jupiter would squint in this direction.

If he recalled correctly, there was a coffee station inside. By the auto shop. Right?

Bucky chewed his lip, the sickness that is caffeine withdrawal sucking him under. He really would need more if he had to stay up and finish his revisions.

“Ah, fuck it,” he groused and hurried down the street toward the humming, glowing, throbbing neon sign with the oversized smiling sun at its helm.

He passed through the automatic shushing doors and made his way down the expanse of the cashier area. A few employees were chatting together and even fewer customers idled in the many, many aisles.

The coffee station wasn’t much to write home about, which was why Bucky hadn’t bothered with it much before. Plus the coffee was more putrid waste than potable, but whatever , beggars couldn’t be choosers.

Someone had made a sad attempt at painting this wall of the store, in hopes it would look like a café, perhaps for waiting husbands left to desiccate by their free-spirited wives? There were a few metal-rod tables and chairs along the wall. Some were actually occupied, but only by lone souls, lone wolves, lone cowboys. There were decals of fake plants on the wall and a sad welcome sign painted above the ledge where the automatic coffee maker clung on for dear life. It was a big industrial sort of thing that offered macchiatos, hot cocoa and even coffee, wow!

Bucky smirked as he eyed the thing. He tugged at a paper cup, pushed it into place and jammed the most worn out button. The machine hummed and gurgled to life. He pulled out a few scant coins and slipped them into the weary slot provided.

The beast hummed louder and began brewing hell-water.

While he waited, Bucky scanned the store.

You couldn’t get much more Americana than this: bright and fluorescent, yet thrumming with aching sadness. It was a helluva place.

The coffee machine sputtered and popped.

“Might want to step back. She burns,” a voice murmured, making Bucky jump.

Bucky wasn’t a small guy, not by anyone’s standards. He was big and worked out because it helped him sleep, but that doesn’t mean he’s okay with strangers talking to him. He was a decrepit cave person on purpose. He’s built up a good hermitage at home, only allowing a few chosen friends to make eye contact and such.

And now some guy is talking to him in a supermarket? The gall.

He turned, ready to string together some fake-ass laugh or whatever the normal folks expected.

He blinked.

The guy.

He’s.

He’s gorgeous.

We’re talking tall with shoulders out to here , soft-looking blonde hair in a generic high and tight, and long legs and thighs thick enough to strangle Bucky good and proper.

“Hi,” Bucky blurted out, his earlier annoyance dissipated.

The man smiled at him. Wow. Wowowowowow wow.

Bucky’s brain is on the fritz. It’s been a long time since he’s met anyone worth looking at twice, nevermind forever. And forever is what he’s willing to give the piece of fine bison right here.

“Hi,” the guy said and he was still smiling. No one ever smiles like that anymore. Like they care, like they want to be happy forever. Who is this dork?

Bucky looked around. No one else is paying the guy any mind. Savages. Uncouth heathens.

“Hi,” Bucky said, turning back to tall, blonde and beautiful.

The guy somehow managed to show more teeth. His eyes were very blue and very pretty, with dark lashes and oddly heavy eyebrows. They made him look thoughtful somehow, like he’d been pondering things for ages.

“Hi again,” the man said. He tilted his head, “Your coffee’s ready.”

Bucky blinked, “My what?”

The guy pointed at the big monster-drink-maker. “Your coffee?”

Bucky looked at the small paper cup sitting there, steaming. Then his eyes widened, “Oh shit! Right. Yeah, yeah, my coffee.” He laughed awkwardly and fumbled to get the cup up and out, hissing when the cup bent under his attentions and some of the liquid splashed out. “Ah, shit.”

“Careful,” the other man said, leaning in. “Shh, hold on, pal.”

The man gently pulled the cup free from Bucky’s fingers and set it down on the formica ledge before picking up some stray napkins and handing them to Bucky. “Here.”

Bucky felt his cheeks warm and he frowned down at his stupid fingers, wiping at the hot coffee mess on his hand. Nicely done, champ.

“Let me get you a lid,” the guy said, reaching over and fiddling with the flimsy plastic receptacle.

Bucky was having a helluva moment, really.

“Thanks,” he murmured when the man offered him his drink back.

“You need sugar?” the guy asked gently.

“No,” Bucky said, sharper than necessary. Then he huffed, annoyed at his own quick mouth,  “Actually, yes. I’ll have three.”

The guy’s brows rose slowly, but he didn’t comment. He just leaned over and scooped up three sugar sachets that Buckey hastily jammed into his jacket pocket.

“Why’re you helping me with my coffee?” Bucky blurted, shifting his laptop bag strap.

The man paused, then shrugged.

Bucky looked at him properly, this great big beefy dude with a kind face. “Do you work here?” he asked.

The man shook his head, “No, I, uh,” he scratched at his chin, then down his neck. “I was passing through. Just got off, uhm, a job.”

Bucky squinted. This man was too good at playing coy.

“So you just hang out ‘round dirty supermarkets after work?”

The guy laughed, a warm, dry sort of sound, “No.” He pulled out something from his jacket pocket. “I needed one of these. I think.”

Bucky blinked at the small plastic-encased thing.

“Oh, a card reader?” Bucky blinked. “Really?”

The man nodded. “Uh huh,” he said like some kid from the block. “Boss says I need it to…get my work?” Definitely didn’t sound too sure.

Bucky eyed the gadget. It wasn’t unlike any other he’d seen. “Okay, cool,” he said.

He should probably be getting back to his own job, the one that paid his bills and kept him fed.

He just stood there instead.

The man didn’t budge either.

Bucky brought his coffee up for a taste. Yep. Total crap.

“So–“ the guy said.

“What kind of work–“ Bucky blurted.

They both stopped, then started.

“No, you go–“

“Sorry, what were you–“

God, what a mess.

“Hi, I’m Bucky,” Bucky put out a hand.

The man took it, fingers calloused but gentle. Bucky appreciated it - he hated it when dudes felt  the need to grind knuckles to show some lie of dominance in a world where it really, really didn’t matter.

“Steve,” the guy murmured.

“Well, hi, Steve,” Bucky said and hoisted his slipping strap higher. “Nice to meet you.”

Don’t ask him to come home with you. Don’t ask him if he’s into dicks. Don’t fucking fuck a stranger! Bucky’s internal dialogue rarely wins.

“So you need to read your work huh? You got all your work on a SD card? That’s interesting. You a photographer or something?” Bucky wished his mouth would stop flapping, but Steve was smiling at him again and he wanted to bask in it some more before trudging back to his own horrible existence.

The guy, Steve , blinked at Bucky. “Uh, what?”

Bucky frowned and indicated the card reader Steve was still holding. “You got an SD reader. Usually for cameras?”

“Uh,” Steve looked at the item in his hand. “Sure?” He chewed his lip. “Honestly, my colleague told me to just buy the one with the blue label and the big ’S’ on it.”

“Oh,” Bucky paused. “Okay.”

Way to ask boring and inane questions, Bucko.

Steve dug into his back pocket, pulling out a tiny little thing that was dwarfed in his gigantic hand.

“This is what I’ve got…for homework.”

Bucky leaned over and eyed it. The gadget was definitely a memory card, but not one Bucky’d ever seen. It had been modded to fit a standard SD slot, but with finer, thinner detailing.

“That’s new,” Bucky said.

Steve shrugged. “I guess?” He rubbed at his chin, then over his mouth, shifting on his feet. And Jesus , he looked kind of sheepish and confused there for a second. Like this miniscule interaction with Bucky was enough to frazzle him.

Bucky waited a moment before jumping in.

“You don’t know what that is, do you?” he said, sipping at his coffee like the dudebros in the movies.

Steve, the blonde babe from who-knows-where, smiled. “No, I don’t,” he laughed. “In fact, I was hoping I’d never have to find out, except my … boss told me I need whatever is on here tonight and I’m shit outta luck.”

Bucky grinned. He could be Steve’s lucky charm.

“You really don’t know what it is? You know what you bought?”

Steve held up the other item, the reader. “I thought I could just google it when I got home?”

“You live near here?” Bucky blurted, hoping against all hope, even though the desperation in his voice was a little terrifying to his own ears.

Steve shrugged, “Not really. Like I said, passing through.”

“Oh,” Bucky nodded, then remembered where he was: in a supermarket at ass-crack o’clock with coffee burns on his fingers, talking to a totally hot, totally not creepy stranger.

He looked down at his coffee and considered his options. Not that he should have any options at this hour, but how could he see into the future? He couldn’t have known this beefcake would materialize out of his naughtiest fantasies.

What he should be doing, is going home with his sour-ass drink and finishing up his client work before 9am.

“I could help you,” he said instead. “I live like, two minutes away. And I have a ton of other card readers, in case yours isn’t the right one.”

Steve blinked at him for a few seconds, probably determining just how much crazy he was willing to go home with.

“I promise I’m not like, a serial murderer, or a mass murderer.” Bucky laughed and raised both hands. “I think there’s a diff–,” His bag slid right off his shoulder in a bid for freedom, and he sloshed more coffee onto the faded linoleum.

“Oh jeez,” he muttered, shaking out his fingers. He let his bag rest on the floor because, well, he might as well give up on this whole interaction coming out in his favour.

A chuckle made him look up.

Steve was definitely smothering his laughter with a big hand. “Sorry, sorry,” he blurted, mouth twisting. Bucky wanted to scowl, but the guy was...really cute.

“It’s just,” Steve went on, “I don’t think you’re a serial killer. And even if you were–”

“Please don’t finish that sentence,” Bucky sighed. “No good could come of it.”

“All right,” Steve stood up, tucking his little SD card into his back pocket. “But I could still use your help, if you’re offering?”

Bucky’s fingers slowed their silly fanning. “You will? I mean, you do?” he blathered.

“Well, I ain’t getting home anytime soon,” Steve shrugged, and Bucky swears there’s a twang of some sort in his words, like he’s not from around here.

“Okay, um,” Bucky said, “Follow me then.”

And that’s how he got some strange dude to follow him home, just like in the fairytales. His mother would have a screaming fit if she knew. So she’ll never know.

Once out on the street, Bucky realized what a bizarre agreement he’d just fallen into.

Steve was asking all sorts of questions, like whether Bucky was from the neighbourhood (yes) and if he was always up at this hour (usually) and wasn’t there anyone waiting for him (Hah! No.).

He seemed honestly quite nice, if a bit odd. He asked a lot about the history of the houses they passed (info that Bucky was not able to provide because he never went to architectural college and was therefore a total moron compared to this guy).

They trudged up the road, Bucky finally giving up on his coffee and tossing it into an overflowing trash can.

“The cornicing is so clean on this one,” Steve was saying as they passed some old crusty house.

Bucky cocked a brow, “Cornicing? Really? You may have hit my one weakness. Dudes who talk cornices. You’re really turning my crank there, Steve.”

Steve turned back to Bucky and blinked. “Your crank?”

Bucky snorted, “Yeah, you’re really greasin’ my wheels with that kinda talk.”

Another blink. Bucky’s smile faded.

“Oh, wait,” Steve said slowly, “I’m sorry I just realized. Are you gay?”

Bucky frowned. Here it was already: the weirdly awkward niceness of the straight dude who now thought that Bucky’s sexuality somehow compromised their ability to get along.

“Uh, bi, actually,” Bucky grumbled.

Steve watched him, “Okay,” he said. “Though it’s none of my business. I’m sorry I asked.”

“Hey, don’t get all affronted with me, pal,” Bucky eyed him. “I’m not here to–”

Steve’s hands went up, “Whoa, hold on there. I wasn’t being sarcastic. I swear.”

Bucky’s mouth flapped for a moment before he shut it.

“I actually did mean that,” Steve dipped his head, his brows raised high on his forehead. “It’s not my place to be askin’ such a personal question of a guy I just met.”

Bucky frowned and kept walking, “So why’d you ask then?”

Steve sucked on his teeth for a bit. “I...I’m not sure. I’m not very good with...pick-up lines. I tend to miss them. And when you talked about a crank of all things, I think I just hopped ahead a few squares.” He smiled at Bucky again, “I’ve never heard that word used that way before so I was only half understanding.”

“No shit,” Bucky said. He halted. “I live here.”

Steve twisted, turned about in place. He looked up at the old house sandwiched between its prettier sisters. “Oh,” he nodded. “That really was only a couple minutes.”

“Well,” Bucky said, digging in his jeans for his keys. “Now you know I’m a huge, flaming queer, you still want my help?”

Steve grinned. “Well, I dunno, Buck. You about ready to sweep me off my feet?”

Okay, so hearing his name said like that definitely had Bucky perking up.

He snorted to cover it, “Pfft, pal, I am way too overworked to sweep my own apartment, nevermind your ass off your damn feet.”

“Well all right then,” Steve said, and held an arm out. “Lead the way, Cinderella.”

Bucky headed up the front steps. “I think you got your folk tales mixed up there. I’m Prince Charming.”

“And who am I?” Steve said, following.

Bucky paused while he unlocked the door. “Hmmm, you can be Chip from Beauty and the Beast.”

“Do you mean from that animated film?”

“Yeah, of course, which other one could I mean?” Bucky answered, putting his shoulder against the sticky door. It shunted open.

“Pardon me for assuming you meant the original French version.”

“Oh, a real smart-ass, you are,” Bucky countered. “Get inside.”

“So, based on the animated film, you think I’m the innocent child that was turned into a teacup?”

Bucky waved him in. “Uh, yeah. Did I stutter?”

 


 

Twenty minutes later,  the two of them were slumped on the floor, wedged in between Bucky’s ratty sofa and the coffee table, staring at Bucky’s laptop. Bucky had tried to explain away his lack of adult furniture but lost energy halfway through his tirade about never getting paid and having bastard clients shirk their responsibilities to small guys like him.

“Why this computer?” Steve asked, watching Bucky tap at the keyboard.

Bucky was chewing on an extra long twizzler, something that Steve had turned down after taking a sniff at the bag.

“Because, pal,” Bucky said around the red candy dangling from his teeth, “ This, ” he held up the small chip card, “ain’t normal.”

Steve blinked and shifted his weight, somehow managing to look even more squished in the tight space. “It’s not?” he queried.

“Nah, man,” Bucky sighed, “It’s been modded a helluva lot. Did you think I wouldn’t notice?” he eyed the little card again. “This is fancy tech.”

“Okay…” Steve said.

“And that’s why I hauled out my PC,” Bucky said, chewing and sucking up the last inch of his twizzler. “Cuz there’s no way some rando software bug’s going anywhere near my mac.”

“Ah, okay,” Steve nodded. He held up one of the gadgets Bucky had hauled out from wherever the old laptop had come from. “And this guy?”

Bucky blinked over at the item. “Multi-card reader. I don’t think the one you bought is gonna work.”

Bucky snagged the reader  and inserted its cable into one of the laptop’s many slots. “And your little card goes in here…” he murmured, showing Steve. “And...voila!”

The two of them waited for the drive to populate.

“This your work, then?” Bucky asked. He nudged the laptop closer to Steve and let him take charge.

“Yeah,” Steve murmured and clicked into the first folder. A bunch more items appeared, all labeled in strange random sequences. He scrolled through, probably looking for something Bucky wouldn’t know to identify. He paused halfway down the screen and double-clicked file hsoto.jpeg.

All that opened up was a photo of a woman giving the V sign to the camera. A really pretty woman with bobbed red hair and a wicked smile.

Steve began zooming into the image, struggling to get his fingers just right on the touchpad. For a guy who didn’t know an SD reader from an SD card, he could at least handle basic digital file manipulation.

“Whatcha lookin’ for?” Bucky asked.

“Um, a code,” Steve murmured. He zoomed in further and further, right up to the woman’s index finger nail.

A code? What the hell kind of work did Steve do? And how BIG was this dang photo?

Steve zoomed in even closer. The pale peach pixels were materializing, splitting, separating into...

Bucky blinked, “Oh wow, is that...are those numbers? Are those coordinates?”

“Do you have a notepad and pen, please?” Steve asked.

“Uh, sure,” Bucky struggled to get to his feet and wished again that he’d cleaned his apartment before letting another human inside.

“Here,” he threw a notepad with roses printed in the corners at Steve, who caught it deftly. Bucky followed that up with a half-dry sharpie.

Steve was writing down a series of numbers that were digitally embedded in a goddamn jpeg of all things. Those were definitely coordinates.

“Are you a spy?” Bucky slid back in beside Steve, who had the worst scrawling handwriting Bucky had ever seen.

“No,” Steve responded calmly.

“So why are you writing down coordinates to a place in Midtown, from a picture of a sexy woman in black leather?”

Steve looked up, alarmed.

“If it’s some sex bovine club or something, it’s okay. We’ve all been there.”

Steve seemed more confused.

Bucky sighed, “I know it’s Midtown because I was a boy scout and my troop got lost on the day we tried to swing an orienteering merit badge. My ma had to come pick us up because a Subway driver found five stupid, sick kids crying on the street corner, surrounded by candy wrappers.”

“Uh,” Steve breathed.

Bucky laughed, nudging Steve’s shoulder with his own. “Kidding about the sex club. None of my business. But you are a spy, right?”

“No, I’m not,” Steve huffed, folding the paper up into a tiny rectangle and slipping it into his jacket’s hidden inner pocket.

“NSA?” Bucky prodded. “CIA?”

“No,” Steve said, clicking further through the mass of random files. He double-clicked one labeled z- :-(.exe.

“Whoa, wait, hold up!” Bucky cried as a piece of gnarly coding opened up and began systematically deleting whatever items were on screen, including all of Bucky’s folders. He tapped at a few keys. “AGH, my stuff!”

Steve’s eyes widened, “Oh God, what did it do? What’s happening?”

“It’s wiping my system!” Bucky wailed, banging on more keys. “Damnit! Wait! No!”

The two of them watched as the software, the virus, whatever it was, chewed up all the data left on Bucky’s drive. Windows flickered and jumped and his speakers wailed, buzzing sharply before the screen went black.

“Oh no…” Bucky hummed. Then he sighed.

“I’m...sorry?” Steve said ruefully. “I usually don’t…my colleague always does this. On our work computers. I think there may be some sort of extra … things that know this isn’t an approved laptop. Sorry?”

Bucky rubbed at his face. “Like I said, Steve, this is what my PC is for.”

“Oh…” Steve chewed on that. “So … you’ve seen that happen before?”

Bucky turned to him, “No. Never. I was kidding, mostly.”

Steve made a face, “Shit. Uh. I can buy you a new one?”

Bucky barked out a laugh at that absurd notion. “ What? No, God, jeez. I invited you into my home three minutes after meeting you. I clearly have interpersonal safety issues already, especially when it comes to hot guys from outta town. If that’s all I get out of your not-spy adventures, then I’m probably lucky.”

Steve blinked at him.

“What?” Bucky frowned. “You look lost.”

Steve’s mouth opened, then shut, then opened again, “You think I’m hot?”

Bucky blinked right back. What?

Had...had he said that out loud? To Spy-Steve? Of course he had, why not? Why the hell not?

Steve must have seen the horror rise in Bucky’s face, because he rubbed at his nose like a kid, switched his tune, and shrugged. “Either way, thanks for your help, Bucky. I wouldn’t have been back home before morning and you saved me a bunch of time. And I’m sorry about your computer?”

“Uh, sure, no problem,” Bucky said. He flailed for a moment, then pulled Steve’s SD card out of the reader. “You still need this?”

Steve smiled in a way that was so smooth and sweet, Bucky’s heart did a belly flop in his chest. How was this probable-spy so coy?

How was John McClane over here not oozing any of that Bruce Willis threat behaviour? How was this maybe-cyber-criminal vigilante not setting off any warning signals inside Bucky’s brain? The guy came outta nowhere at a superstore after midnight, was cute and adorable with Bucky for exactly zero seconds and was now ensconced in Bucky’s private (but still pretty shitty) apartment after systematically killing one of his two working laptops.

Steve took the SD card, his fingers grazing Bucky’s. He stared at the little thing, then snapped it between his index and thumb, just like that.
“No, I won’t need it,” Steve murmured, placing the two bits on Bucky’s coffee table.

Bucky stared.

“You are so a spy. Oh my God, I have an international man of mystery in my home. This is awesome. Who snaps SD cards instead of reusing them? Spies!”

Steve frowned, “Wait, I can reuse–?”

“You’re a terrible fuckin’ spy, Steve!” Bucky exclaimed, throwing his head back in a laugh.

God, he was so tired! Probably sounded like a lunatic.

Steve put his head in his hands as best he could in the cramped space. “I’m so bad at this,” he muttered before glancing up. “Look, Bucky, I’m going to be honest here. I’m not a spy. I don’t work for the government officially.

Bucky opened his mouth, but Steve cut him off with a raised hand.

“Wait,” Steve said. “I do appreciate your help, though I probably would have figured it out eventually. So thank you for trying to assist a complete stranger. I realize now that I might have been pushing my luck here. I just … never come across nice folks much anymore.”

Aw, he thought Bucky was nice! Well, that illusion ought to  be shattered any moment now.

“Hey,” Bucky murmured, nudging Steve’s shoulder. “What got you to talk to me anyhow?”

Steve looked at Bucky, “I don’t know. I thought...you…” he trailed off.

“Is it ‘cos I’m cute?” Bucky waggled his eyebrows. Nothin’ like awkward humour to cover a terrible conversation. “You can say it’s ‘cos you think I’m cute, Steve.”

Steve smiled, paused then said, “Yes, you are very cute, but that’s not what made me talk to you. I think…” he sat up straighter and twisted his head, considering his next words. “I think I’m just tired. And you were a friendly face.”

Bucky stared back at those pretty eyes and wondered what fantasy planet this guy had come from.

“Ever since I came out the ice, it’s just...it’s been hard,” Steve sighed, rubbing at his hands. “People just aren’t the same. Not what I expect. I’m a bit behind, I guess. Well, a lot behind.”

What the ever-loving fuck was he on about? “Ice?” Bucky murmured. “What ice? Are you, like, a recovering addict or something? Is that slang? Oh shit, are you an escaped convict?

Steve’s mouth twisted to the side in a half-smile. “Oh come on, you don’t have to pretend anymore, Bucky. You can say it.”

Bucky frowned, “Huh?”

“You wouldn’t seriously have invited me to your home if you didn’t recognize me, would you?” Steve chuckled, amused by whatever his brain was cooking up.

Bucky’s eyes flicked aside, then back to Steve.

Steve’s smile faltered.

“Am...I supposed to recognize you?” Bucky said slowly, horror dawning on him. “Shit, did we fuck?”

“What?” Steve startled. “No.”

“I mean, you’re definitely my type , dude,” Bucky blathered, scrolling through his shitty memories for any guy who maybe, perhaps was Steve. He’d have to have been ‘meh’ in the sack if Bucky didn’t remember him...but then Bucky did used to drink a lot in his clubbing days - Steve could have slipped under the radar. However, Bucky had serious doubts that this guy would be forgettable in bed. “You’re not ringing any bells, or my bell, haha.”

Steve looked as confused as Bucky felt, like they’d been grasping at different straws.

“You...don’t recognize me?” Steve blurted.

“No?” Bucky shrugged.

“But you invited me home! I’m a complete stranger! Why would you do that?” Steve cried. “Who does that?”

“I do!” Bucky retorted, confused and as lost as ever. “Because I’m shitty, Steve!”

“So you didn’t think I was maybe synonymous with trust and the American way?” Steve said, frowning.

“What the fuck?” Bucky said, “You’re crazy.”

“I’m Steve Rogers!” Steve barked back. “I thought that was obvious.”

“Steve Rogers?” Bucky blurted, “Am I supposed to recogni–”

He paused, brain chugging a few steps behind his mouth.

Flashes of stars and stripes and valour and army montages crashed into him. News reports about the Battle of Manhattan, of superheroes and aliens and destruction filled his eyes.

A man in a garish red and blue getup on social media. A bunch of weirdos in costume and a big green blob–

“Holy FUCK,” Bucky gasped, eyes clearing. “You’re Captain America!”

“Finally,” Steve looked heavenward.

Bucky got to his feet in a rush, banging his knee in the process. “You’re Captain America!” he repeated.

“Shhh,” Steve hissed, also standing.

“But–but–” Bucky babbled. “You’re hot! Like, super crazy hot! Like, wet-dream-inducingly beautiful and handsome and brave and moral and oh my God I’m saying all of this out loud to Captain America!” Bucky squeaked on every exhale.

“Hey, it’s okay, it’s okay,” Steve laid a hand on Bucky’s arm.

“I thought you were, like, an old fart! Or at least like my dad, or something,” Bucky wheezed. “Not this!” he waved a hand at Steve’s person, all six foot two inches of muscle.

Steve’s hand had moved from Bucky’s arm to his back, rubbing between his shoulder blades, which was both helping and also not helping.

“I can’t believe I invited Steve fucking Rogers home with me, like he was some piece of ass ,” Bucky hissed. “I deserve to go to jail.”

Steve chuckled, “It’s, ah, it’s not a bad thing, Bucky. It’s refreshing.”

“If you were a woman, this would be like, the grossest thing ever,” Bucky countered. “I’m a monster. I should become celibate as punishment.”

“Please don’t,” Steve said, “It’s fine. Bucky, come on. You’re good. You’re nice, you helped a guy out. If anything, it makes you seem even nicer knowing it wasn’t Cap you were being nice to. As if you were being very genuine.”

Bucky covered his face with his hands, “I need to process this.”

“Okay,” Steve murmured, still rubbing his big warm hand on Bucky’s back.

They stood like that for a moment before Bucky uncovered his face and looked at Steve properly.

He should be apologizing profusely for ever implying anything ever in the face of America’s greatest national icon. He should feel bad and he should probably pack up his things and move to Colombia. His family could live out their shame in peace.

But Steve was smiling at him. And Steve was standing really close. And Steve (Captain America!) smelled really nice.

And Bucky was a weak, delicate flower of a man. Sure, he weighed upwards of two-ten on an average day and could dropkick most people into Hell’s Kitchen, but he was still just a smart-ass from Brooklyn who struggled to eat healthy and wash his face most mornings.

“You …” Bucky cleared his throat. “You wanna hang out for a bit?” he said.

He felt like he was asking a kid in the playground to be his friend.

Steve smiled that soft smile of his and Bucky punched himself internally for not assuming that such a perfect face could only be attached to the most perfect human on earth.

“I can stay for a bit,” Steve answered. “Are you hungry?”

Bucky’s eyes lit up.

Steve grinned. “I’ll order us a pizza. Let me get this, and you get back to your work, okay? You did mention something about that.”

Bucky gawped like a frog, then nodded, trying desperately to hold back a blush.

He could not be crushing on Captain America. That was plain ridiculous and wasn’t allowed.

But also, he was going to enjoy every last second of this morning. Screw his clients to hell and back, he had a friggin’ historical artifact to woo before his time was up.

Chapter Text

“And then he ate, like three pizzas all on his own, Sam,” Bucky said from under his duvet. It was nice and warm and safe under there. “The man can put it away. It’s not something I thought I’d ever find attractive, but watching him eat almost three pounds of pepperoni and Hawaiian pizza was...inspiring. He’s a big boy.”

“Hold up,” Sam said from the other end of the line. “You’re expecting me to believe this bullshit story about you spending a night with the Captain America? Man, you are well over your limit of crazy for the week.”

Bucky frowned, “Hey, I’m not lying, asshole. He was really here. In my house. Eating pizza and drinking fuckin’ ginger ale like an old fart. God, he even said he didn’t like that it was kinda fizzy. Except he said ‘bubbly’, which is fuckin’ adorable.”

“Really? You’re not lying?” Sam sighed. ”If that’s so, then why would he even stick around, huh?”

Bucky chewed his lip.

“I don’t know…” he muttered, “He just did okay? I wasn’t hallucinating.”

“Did he leave his number, Don Juan? Because you sound smitten with your caffeine-fueled daydream.”

Bucky couldn’t stop the creep of a smile across his lips. “Yeah,” he said. “Guy was terrible with my phone. He had a Starkphone, Sam. A Stark phone! You know how much those motherfuckers cost? Jesus, I think it’s the only smartphone he ever got used to ‘cos he definitely didn’t know what to do with my dang android.” Bucky recalled the memory fondly. Steve had almost broken Bucky’s phone, the plastic rectangle creaking as he attempted to punch in his digits with his super-strong fingers. Eventually, Bucky had taken pity on the guy and let Steve read the number out to him while he put Captain America’s personal phone number into his contacts.

Realistically, either the number was a fake and Steve was too nice to say, or the feds were gonna storm Bucky’s dirty house and hold him at gunpoint before shooting his phone to bits.

“I still think you’ve worked yourself into delirium,” Sam said.

“When are you coming back to New York, Wilson?” Bucky interrupted. He switched to speakerphone so he could stare at his screen. He tapped his contact list, scrolling immediately to the one labeled Steve.

“I live here, Barnes,” Sam said. “I got a job and a house. You know this.”

Bucky snorted, “Washington ain’t home. This, Brooklyn, New York, is home.”

Sam sighed audibly, “I’m not having this conversation with you. My mother has it with me every other day. And hey,” Sam said this louder, “Why the hell ain’t you up yet?” Like he could see Bucky accomplishing nothing from under his bed covers.

Bucky grunted, still staring at Steve’s number. He tapped it, opening the texting area. “I’m tired.”

“It’s 2pm, man,” Sam sighed slowly, agonizingly.

“You think Captain America will text me back if I send him the eggplant emoji?”

“Really, dude?” Sam said. “You still on this?”

“Would the peach butt be cuter?”

“I’m not here for this,” Sam said. Bucky could feel Sam’s ire through the phone. “Call me when you’ve been to the gym. I gotta go. Veterans of America need me.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Bucky grumbled, thumb hovering over his keyboard. “You hero.”

 


 

Bucky wiped at his brow with his small towel. He was drenched. Always grossed out by the idea that maybe the gym didn’t clean the towels, he brought his own. It was peach-coloured with his name embroidered on it along with swirling blue flowers, because his mother’s needlework was worth showing off.

He walked through the busy gym, his muscles aching already. He’d done one really good spin class and then focused on weights for the remainder of the hour. His chest muscles were going to burn tomorrow.

He needed these workouts more and more. They settled him, took the edge off his stress and helped him sleep.

Plus it didn’t hurt that the cute Korean guy from last week had picked a bench closer this time. Bucky was pretty sure , like 72% sure, the guy was working his way up to saying hi and/or proposing shower handjobs.

A week ago Bucky would have been gagging for the attention. He’d have been totally game and up for any action from anyone half as attractive.

He rubbed at his hair, flicking sweat off the back of his neck. His hair tie was coming undone, reminding him again how unruly his mop had become.

The big guy on the bike, the one who always wore the massive headphones, was back. He nodded at Bucky, who just tilted his head as he passed.

He made his way back to the locker room, contemplating whether it was worth taking time to shower here, or head home. He spun the dial on his lock, mind full of upcoming projects.

He dug around in the backpack and felt it vibrate.

Oh no, was it some reminder for some thing he’d forgotten about? Dentist? He was gonna have to learn to read his calendar in the morning.

He pulled out his phone and his eyes widened.

 

 Hi Bucky. It’s Steve. Did you finish up your work? Hope so.

“Holy fuck!” he said, voice echoing. A guy getting dressed looked up at him. “Shit!” Bucky said. “Holy fuck!”

“Hey, pal, cool it,” another, taller man said, coming out of the showers in an indecently flimsy towel.

Bucky ignored him and just stared at his phone. Captain fucking America had texted him! For real!

“Shit shit shit shit,” he breathed harshly, fumbling with his phone. He tapped out a message.

 

 Hello Steve how are you. How’s Mr. Stark and his robot army

No, stupid! Don’t be a smart ass, play it cool. He tried again.

 

 Well howdy partner–

No!

He couldn’t respond to this here , covered in sweat and a looking like a hot mess. But could he leave Steve hanging? The guy was from another century, maybe he didn’t understand the minutiae of text language. Bucky could not fuck this up. He was zinging right now.

So he jammed his towel and shit that had tumbled loose back into his bag before zipping it hastily. He grabbed his lock, slipped it into its usual bag pocket and slammed the locker shut.

“Hey, buddy!” another guy barked from around the corner. “Watch the hardware, will ya?”

“This is an urgent matter of me gettin’ laid!” Bucky said loud enough for everyone in the locker room to hear as he stormed out.

“Well, all right then,” the mysterious voice echoed behind him. “Go get ‘er I s’pose.”

 


 

“You’re not helping!” Bucky barked at his laptop fifteen minutes later. He’d thrown himself into the shower and scrubbed himself clean, running through every possible thing he could say that would make him seem impressive and perhaps alluring to one Captain America, buns of steel. He’d run through his repertoire of anecdotes, his double entendres and the many, many emojis he would usually employ for such an occasion, but none of them worked for Steve Rogers . He deserved the royal treatment.

So Bucky had ended up watching youtube videos on how to chat up guys. The vast variety of videos available were aimed at teenage girls dealing with palm-sweaty crushes, but he would take what he could get when his brain was running low on caffeine. The modern era: what a joke.

He tapped at another video espousing ‘ways to woo the guy of your dreams’. The second a suburban Mom appeared on-screen, he slammed his laptop shut. “Nope.” He was not taking input from some lady who found her sweetheart at her high school spring fling and married him and lived happily ever after. He couldn’t handle that shit.

He leaned against the kitchen counter. His place was a fuckin’ pig sty. Paper coffee cups littered the marble top, along with empty grocery bags and unwrapped fruit he was pretty sure were already past their consume date. That’s why he left them in the plastic baggies: because he never got round to be healthy anyway.

His phone was sitting there, dark.

“Alright, come on, you shmuck,” he said to himself. He stood in his kitchen in a pair of shorts and nothing else, contemplating how to talk to one of the Avengers without scaring him off.

He opened the text message from earlier and his heart kinda did a roll in his gut at the name Steve .

He began.

 

 Hey Steve! Yes I did. Client was happy. :)

He hesitated. Was the smiley face too familiar? Ah, hell. He pressed send, then dropped his phone on the counter, immediately scrabbling for his newest jar of instant coffee. He filled up a cup with water, shoved it into the microwave and set it to go.

Then he paced for a second, chewing his lip. He stared at the mess in his kitchen.

“Jesus fuck, is this how I live?”

He proceeded to drag his arm across the counter, sliding all the garbage over to the plastic bag he used as a trash container. He picked up the bagged fruit, sniffed it, and threw it in too. He bent over and picked up a few stray sugar sachets and stirrers that had escaped his many coffee runs. Then there was the bag of twizzlers from last night’s endeavours.

“Oh, sweet babies, I missed you,” he pulled one free and bit into it, the long end dangling wildly like a snake tongue. The twizzlers could stay.

His microwave dinged.

He pulled out the steaming cup and dunked in a teaspoon of Nescafé’s finest. He swirled in some coffee creamer and sugar and then tried to sip at his too-hot drink without feeling the mad urge to look at his phone.

What was happening? He shouldn’t be able to feel like this, not at his age. It was just a text.

To Steve, the nice guy who’d helped him with his coffee.

He yelped when his phone buzzed, sloshing coffee over his chest. “Ow!” he cried, grabbing for a tea towel. He picked up his phone, stared at the screen, and scowled.

“Sam!” he barked into the device.

“Hey there, buddy,” Sam said, “You sound more awake this time. Got your eight hours?”

“Sam! I texted him. I messaged Steve,” Bucky said.

“Sorry what?” Sam responded.

“I texted Captain America! ‘Cos he texted me! He texted me first! He fuckin’ loves me, right? It’s gotta be love. I mean, his ass was love at first sight, and we never got much further than him watching me work on Jeremiah’s stupid website, but love is love, Sammy.” There was silence on the other end. “Sam?” Bucky said.

“Uh, yeah, I’m just...wondering if you need to get more sleep.”

Bucky rolled his eyes, “Do you still not believe me?”

“Not really, man,” Sam murmured. “Why would Captain America be in your ‘hood, in Brooklyn, late last night? He lives with the Avengers, doesn’t he? In Manhattan.”

“You make it sound like Brooklyn’s in fuckin’ Morocco,” Bucky said. “I can see Manhattan from my roof.”

“Well, might as well be,” Sam sighed. “I mean, you’re just sexualizing the shit out this random guy. Maybe he was a doppelganger? A scam artist.”

“A what? Don’t be stupid, he told me who he was ! Captain America does not lie. I think.”

Sam groaned, “And you believed a total stranger at face value? Dude, you should know better! How do you know this wasn’t some twink who–”

“Okay, he was not a twink. You need to review your gay dating terminology–”

“-a guy ,” Sam pressed on, “who probably knows that Captain America rarely gets his photo taken out of his costume. No one really recognizes him, right? So how’re you to know this random dude you invited home, like an idiot–” Sam was being overly harsh, Bucky thought. “Wasn’t just playing you because you like ‘em big and beefy?”

Bucky’s mouth flapped. He scowled, “You’re very rude, you know.”

“Look, pal,” Sam sighed loud in his ear, “You might be grasping here, is all I’m saying. Lookin’ for something in some rando.”

“Why would anyone want to play me? ” Bucky said. “I got nothing of value, Sam. I rent a floor in a dilapidated house while the other units go empty because this place is probably gonna get condemned, collapse and kill all occupants, myself included, one day. I work paycheque to paycheque and have a six-year-old computer and the most basic of cable and internet deals. I have second-hand Ikea, not even new fuckin’ Ikea shit. I don’t have cash, gold or fancy kicks to resell. WHY would anyone want to scam me?”

“Hey, hey,” Sam said. “You’re plenty worth it. Remember, bad guys don’t care. They just come at you with no concern. Sociopaths.”

“Are you saying I’m totally worth murdering, Sam Wilson?” Bucky asked. “Perfect candidate, worth the mess?”

“Absolutely,” Sam laughed loud in Bucky’s ear. “You’re funny and handsome and anyone would be lucky to murder your fine ass, okay? I’m just worried.”

“Well, don’t be,” Bucky snorted. “I got everything under control.”

Do you thou–”

Bucky’s phone buzzed against his ear and he yelped. “Sorry Sam! Gotta go! Steve messaged! Maybe! I dunno, we’ll see, bye!” And Sam’s exclaim of dismay was cut off by Bucky’s thumb. He flicked to his notifications.

 

 Steve: 

Glad to hear it.

Bucky knew he shouldn’t, but he felt elated like a pre-teen. It wasn’t anything special, it wasn’t anything at all, really, but this Steve was real .

He jumped when the phone buzzed again.

 

 I enjoyed hanging out with you. You’re very funny. I hope your clients appreciate that.

Bucky was a grown-ass man who clutched at his naked chest like a damsel. Was this guy for real ? He paused, then tapped out a response.

 

 Thanks! I work really hard on my patter. I watch a lot of stand-up.

He chewed his lip and pressed send. The urge to just throw dirty emojis at Steve was becoming overwhelming.

He took a leap of faith to compensate.

 

 Hey, I had fun too. Wanna hang out again soon?

The message bubble was silent. Bucky waited.

He chewed on his twizzler.

 


 

It was a week later when he was working on a new client’s design, high on red bull and probably due for a nap, when his phone buzzed. He’d stopped freaking out every time it happened, despondency driving the happiness out of him by day three of no return texts.

Bucky eyed the glowing screen. It seemed really bright in here. He squinted at the window. It was dark out. Shit, had he forgotten to turn on the lights again? Would he ever learn?

He picked up his phone gingerly and wiped at his eyes.

 

 I would. Mind if I come visit?

Bucky blinked, not daring to believe it.

The message was from Steve. Or the man Bucky believed to be Captain America.
Sam’s words had gotten to him, and Bucky had rounded out his week with a binge session on the internet. There were, admittedly, very few images of the famous Captain. Tons of social media gave up images of a man in the Cap uniform, but no civilians seemed to have snapped a good image of Steve Rogers’ face. So Bucky had drowned himself in more tabloid fodder that speculated about the man’s real identity, was he actually from the 40s, was this a hoax? He was strong, but maybe ~ ALIENS~ were the real culprits here. He trawled wikipedia, soaking up the history of Captain America: the iconic man with a plan. Bucky had never been very interested in the whole superhero Avengers thing. Even when Manhattan was toppling and aliens burst from the sky, Bucky had done his best to stay clear. It was sickening, those memories, watching his home city almost burn to the ground. Tony Stark was not a New York fan favourite anymore. Yeah, efforts were being made to rebuild things, years later, but it wasn’t something Bucky could get invested in. It was deeply unsettling and it depressed him on a level he’d rather not explore. So Steve Rogers hadn’t been a focus for him.

The photos online didn’t give up much more detail. There were exactly two photos of Rogers from before the serum. One was his army-issue enlistment photo. A short guy in army uniform with a sour look in his eye and eyebrows too big for his face.

The other was the same guy clearly coming straight off training, in a white t-shirt and sweat covering his face. Those were all that survived WWII.

And basing his memory of the man from last night with these two photos...Bucky couldn’t be sure his Steve was that Steve.

And even if this was Captain America texting him, why the fuck was he spending even a second of his precious life around Bucky? Bucky was nothing. Captain America...was everything.

He stared at his phone, which had gone dark again. He’d just finished up his meal of reheated lasagne. He was working hard on this new website, for a client that that had been given to him by word-of-mouth. He should continue working and stop pretending the hot guy from last week was a life-changer.

He unlocked his phone.

 

 Yes. Please save me from this drudgery.

It was only a handful of seconds before he got a response.

 

 All right Cinderella, I’ll see what I can do.

 


 

So three hours into this and Bucky’s skeleton has yet to materialize outside of his body. A good thing.

His eyes though, are not getting the memo. They refuse to behave.

He couldn’t stop himself from staring, from sneaking glances at the man sitting across from him at the Taco Bell.

Steve had shown up, declaring he was hungry and it’s wasn’t up for debate, they were getting food. Except food foraging after midnight was a gamble on the best days.

So here they were, at a local strip mall Taco bell with two trays loaded up with tacos and burritos and a mix of fries and drinks because apparently Steve ‘never got to eat this way’.

“So what, you eat only catered cuisine?” Bucky murmured from around his mouthful of Cool Ranch Taco Supreme. Fuck, what a delicious combination.

“Mostly,” Steve said, sticking half a seven-layer burrito into his face. He swallowed it down not unlike a damn python. “The tower’s got a whole kitchen set up with special meals crafted to suit my ‘special’ metabolism.” The guy snorted and took another munch of his dinner. The guy had already eaten three goddamn soft tacos and now this.

“Your metabolism is special? Oh you fancy,” Bucky cooed, licking at his messy fingers. His own taco was beyond satisfying. Terrible food always was. “What makes is special? Are you lactose-intolerant?”

“I’m eating cheese,” Steve murmured, cocking a brow.

Bucky shrugged, “Half my friends can’t have milk and still they gulp it down, to hell with biology.”

Steve smiled, a new burrito in his hand. “I can see that. No, I just...need to eat. A lot. Fairly often.”

“Uh huh,” Bucky said round a mouthful. He’d given up trying to be alluring. Tacos were more important than his self-respect.

Steve unwrapped his burrito carefully, like it was a baby or something.

“I was told the kitchen’s worked hard on adding extra nutrients to all my meals, so
I don’t have to chew so much, or eat them out of house and home.”

“Huh,” Bucky chewed, staring at Steve again.

This man was definitely the scrawny dude from the pictures. He just had to be. The nose was right, all bent outta shape and a little too big. His eyes were just as pretty, dark blue with long eyelashes, and those eyebrows–well, they were still dark and heavy, offsetting his soft-looking mouth.

He was Captain America and Sam was wrong and Bucky was right!

And he was staring again. Steve looked at him from over his drink.

“But it’s frustrating,” Steve went on, eyeing his open burrito with a gleam in his eye. “‘Cos yeah, it’s filling stuff, and the protein shakes do a fair bit, but honestly, this?” He tilted the burrito in his hand, as if it were on display, “This is a thing of beauty.”

“Talk to me when your butt falls off later,” Bucky said.

Steve shrugged and bit into his burrito.

Bucky’s phone buzzed and he pulled it out.

He wiped his fingers as best he could, laying the phone on the table for easy reading.

“What’s going on?” Steve said, slurping at his drink like a kid. The place was almost empty, so it echoed.

“Grindr,” Bucky muttered, tapping the messages with his pinkie.

“Hmm?” Steve leaned over.

Bucky probably should consider being more private about his dirty goings-on, instead of spinning his phone so Steve could see better. “Okay, this guy? We went on a date a while back and he keeps messaging me. Won’t get the hint, you know? I should block him, actually. Keeps sending me winky faces, like flirting with me’s gonna help his case.” Bucky tapped the screen some more. “Ah, and this guy,” he scrolled through to a new profile. “I went on a date with him too. He was terrible. He said he didn’t like eating in public, which was weird. Until I realized there was a fuckin’ warrant out for his arrest. That’s why you always do internet searches on dudes, man.”

“Wait,” Steve blurted, dropping lettuce on the table. “This is … dating?”

“Well, sort of,” Bucky said, not wanting to give credence to his ways and means of procuring dick. “I use it to meet random guys. Blind dates sometimes, if you get a weird enough dude who uses fake photos.”

“But if you’ve never met your date,” Steve began, “How do you know the right man shows up?” He looked bewildered; it was adorable. “It could be a person dressed as a full clown, Bucky. Or a magician. Or a mime.”

Bucky choked on his laughter, “What is your issue with the magical professions? You don’t like kids’ parties? You got problems with folks making their life’s work a bit abnormal?”

Steve pouted, “No... just, if you’re going for dinner with a stranger, I wouldn’t want it to be a clown.” Oh bless his heart! Dinner!

“A literal clown,” Bucky said.

“Or I suppose even a figurative one,” Steve shrugged. “You never know.”

“Most people yell at me because I should expect more axe-murderers. You’re the first to mention clowns.”

“Oh, I didn’t think of axe-murderers!” Steve looked aghast. “Bucky! You can’t date random axe-murderers!”

“What?” Bucky snorted and giggled like an idiot, sprinkling cheese bits everywhere. His taco was a lost cause at this point. “They murder axes, not people.”

Steve rolled his eyes, “You should take your personal safety more seriously.”

“Yes, Mom,” Bucky bit into what was left of the hard taco shell.

Steve watched him from behind a fancy pair of fake glasses. The baseball cap was overkill at this time of night, but it did seem to help with hiding his face. Bucky hadn’t said anything when Steve had shown up looking like a nerdy bro, but then Captain America probably had his reasons, who was Bucky to call him out for it?

“Any idea what the guy with the warrant was wanted for?” Steve said, shifting the topic not so subtly.

“Embezzlement, I think,” Bucky said.

“That’s … rude?” Steve said weakly.

“Damn right it is,” Bucky said. He licked at a stray taco bit that was trying to slither down his chin. He failed. Steve leaned over and wiped at him with a napkin and Bucky did not fall apart. Instead, he blathered. “Once there was this dude, Zachary, oh he was a can of peaches, let me tell you. Whipped out his laundry list of salacious proclivities on the first date, after pretending to be all pious online. He was talking about how much he wanted to, like, whip me and hold me down and choke me out, oh my God, it was fuckin’ terrible. At a great sushi place too. He tainted that restaurant forever.”

Steve blinked. “What?”

“Yeah,” Bucky nodded, brows high on his forehead. “I know. What bad etiquette.”

Steve blinked, frowned, then laughed abruptly, probably from surprise, “Yeah, etiquette. That’s the problem. I don’t know.” He shook his head and rolled up his burrito wrapper into a tiny ball. “I don’t know how you do it, Bucky.”

“Do what?” Bucky set his cell down on the small table between them.

“How do you find love through your phone?” Steve said, all blue eyes and earnest concern.

“Oh, pal,” Bucky sat back in his seat, wiping at his lips with the napkin he may or may not keep forever. “You are too precious for words.”

 


 

Bucky was so horny, it was killing him. He glared at nothing.

It was 1pm.

He was in bed. Alone. Again. On the Lord’s day.

How had this happened? How did he manage to spend another random evening with Captain Ass5000 and not woo the guy into bed?

Because you’re scared, he thought morosely to himself. And he’s too good for you, you trash panda.

Bucky needed to get up, but he felt heavy, weighed down by all the food they’d eaten and the regret gurgling inside his belly. Or maybe it was the cool ranch taco. He couldn’t get up. His life was meaningless without companionship.

Steve was a funny guy, once you realized he was less saccharine slapstick and more grim gallows in the humour department. Bucky loved, nay, adored funny guys.

Steve had actually hung around for a while longer after their Taco Bell ordeal, walking Bucky back home. He’d lingered in the kitchen for another hour or so, poking around Bucky’s things like an inquisitive chimp.

Bucky smiled softly into his pillow at the memory of Steve finding his stupid spiralizer, the one Becca had bought him for his birthday. Bucky’d had to then explain that it was for basically twirling vegetables into more palatable shapes, which confused the hell out of Steve. “Why not just eat them diced?” he’d said about carrots and zucchini. “Why change how they look? They don’t taste any different.”

And that had just opened up a whole debate about the obsession people have nowadays with justifying their eating habits, justifying being healthy, convincing themselves to just eat. Then that got them into ‘ back in the thirties’ , Steve’s ma had to make carrots last forever, Buck, regardless how they looked once boiled, and drizzled in a good ol’ teaspoon of nothin’.

Which had turned into Bucky calling out Steve’s love of boiled vegetables, which was tragic and sublime all at once. The beefy guy who still boiled everything because it was like being home. Compared to Bucky’s method of just deep-frying everything, well, together they didn’t quite make a healthy meal.

God, they’d made such memories!

And Bucky was still in bed by himself, wishing Steve hadn’t said he was busy for the next little while and leaving like a distant friend.

Though he had mentioned how Bucky had cheered him up and how Bucky was worth the drive out of Manhattan.

Bucky was worth an uber. He was valuable .

And horny. All amped up and nowhere to hump. Bucky had been okay most of the night, just playing it cool, too cool perhaps. Because his evil night brain conjured up all the other visuals he didn’t need once alone in bed.

Goddamnit, Steve had the cutest crinkles beside his eyes when he laughed, and such straight teeth, shown off by his beautiful smile. And those big hands of his, perfect for handshakes, and holding burritos and …

“Oh, God,” Bucky whined and rolled onto his belly so as to press his dick into the mattress. He shifted his hips.

Steve Rogers was going to make him go mad! The guy had been so friendly, so sweet, so funny all night, the perfect date, really.

Except he wasn’t a date, just a...random pal? Bucky hadn’t asked what possessed the man of a million stars to spend his Saturday night with a Barnes (and not even the most interesting Barnes. Becca at least could talk history and politics. Bucky just ate and snorted chip fragments everywhere). Steve even paid for all the food, just lumping Bucky’s paltry meal in with his giant order, flashing some kind of shiny hologram credit card from his Starkphone, leaving the cashier in awe. Was Captain America rich? Did Bucky bag a rich date with an Avenger? How did the guy make money anyway? Did Bucky’s tax dollars fund his stupidly tight spandex? Was Bucky just thinking about his spandex now? Could he invest in Steve’s uniform? Did he have Stark-branded underwear? Were they briefs or maybe a thong to get rid of panty lines on the suit? These were all important questions for curious minds!

“Fuck this,” Bucky said and rolled over to get his phone. He was low on battery after having just fallen into bed fully-clothed, high on life and a cute face.

He opened up his texts, ignoring anything and all that had nothing to do with Steve Rogers.

He immediately pulled up their last interaction. Posing, he took a photo of himself lolling in bed, tongue out, frowning, and fired it off.

 

 Come back safe, loser.

He groaned. He should get to the gym. He needed to punch his frustration into oblivion. The sandbags could take one for the team.

He tapped his phone, "Hey phone genie, set a timer for two PM."

His phone blooped. "Did you mean alarm?" the modulated female voice said back at him, challenging him with her tone.

"Okay, listen, bitch," he growled, tapping at the stupid screen, accepting it's prompt. He stuck out his tongue and threw his phone aside in frustration. He needed to either get laid, pronto, or go beat the shit out of something.

So he got out of bed, hauled his sorry ass to the shower, where he proceeded to give himself the unsexiest of handjobs in the name of water conservation and efficiency.

Then he hastily pulled himself together, tugging on a faded workout tee and shorts.

He scrubbed his hands through his hair, wondering where his last hair tie had gone.

His phone buzzed.

Bucky paused.

He stared at his phone, snuggled up in his duvet like an innocent little thing.

He dived across the bed, bouncing heavily. He grabbed his phone, flipped it over and his heart almost exploded.

There was a photo.

Steve was sticking his tongue out, his back to some hardcore-looking metal grate, hair combed to the side like a real dork and God , his eyes were bright and friendly, just like last night. It hadn’t been some fucked up dream.

Steve looked good. And probably working. And if Bucky wanted to go there, he could just see something blue at the bottom of the frame, perhaps a collar from a certain spandex suit that Bucky definitely did not want to imagine Steve sitting in.

He opened up his messages.

It buzzed again before he could type.

 

 Steve:

Will do my best. Especially for a face like that. ;)

Bucky’s mouth worked, "A winky emoji? Really? Really?" He rolled over, his phone clutched to his chest in both hands, until his face was buried in his bedding. He took in a deep breath and proceeded to yell a string of sex-laden profanities into his bedspread, wishing he wasn’t as dumb and elated as he currently felt.

Chapter Text

Something was fucking up his design.

“Argh,” Bucky groaned and scrubbed at his hair. He was almost done with this client’s site but in the last hour he’d been flummoxed by some error and he couldn’t find where he’d messed up.

His friends’ group chat was open and they were throwing suggestions his way.

“Cripes, I need a break,” he muttered and awkwardly got to his feet. He’d been thinking more often recently that he should invest in a desk and maybe a chair too. Sitting on the floor was never supposed to have been a long-term thing. Yet, here he was.

His knees creaked, reminding him of the downward slope he’d been on since his thirtieth birthday.

Ambling over to the kitchen, he opened up the fridge and peered in.

He pulled out an orange juice box, just like the kind his mom used to give him for school. What can he say? They were on sale in bulk.

He stabbed the straw into the juice and went back to his spot in the living room.

He promised himself a good hour at the gym if he could just finish this project. Client was launching on Monday, so it’s not like Bucky was late or anything, but he needed it all to be glitch-free.

“Now if I was some fucked up code, where would I hide?” he murmured. He stood there in his sweatpants and tee, slurping at orange juice while his brain processed. He knew the shopping and account options on the site were functional, plus he’d made sure to purchase all the correct security certificates so why wasn’t–

“Ah, dangit!” he said, rushing over to the laptop.

He slipped down into his blanketed hovel and put his juice aside.

“Forgot to update the image gallery, guys,” he murmured to his chat group, like they could hear. “Stupid security protocols, fucking up my redirects.”

He clicked through all his web pages and sought out the standard code and grinned. “Aha!”

“This is why they pay me the big bucks,” he crowed, copying and pasting the update. He went in to preview the site and voila!

“Success!” he cried, throwing his hands up. “What a dumb mistake, Barnes!”

He whistled while he wrote up his project completion email to his client, copying and pasting his standard feedback format. He double-checked his links and wording and pressed send.

“Sweeeet,” he cried, clapping like a dork.

Now he could reward himself with some punishing gym time.

His phone buzzed.

Bucky grabbed it frantically, thinking maybe Steve was back from whatever jaunt he’d been on and Bucky could harass him some more. They’d been texting back and forth while Steve was gallivanting in who-knows-where, but then the responses had stopped. Bucky put it down to Steve being, you know, busy, and not that he was, you know, dead.

 

 

Becca:

Hey, you watching the news?

 

Bucky frowned.

 

 

No. Why?

 

 

Becca:

Channel 172

 

Bucky tried to grab his remote, but it was sitting on top of the back seat cushion, which forced him to crawl up onto the sofa. He clicked through the channels, ignoring his DVR notifications.

Channel 172 was the news. Bucky stared, trying to figure out the jumble on-screen.

The headline stated BOSTON ON LOCKDOWN. AVENGERS ON SCENE.

The videos flashing on-screen showed buildings crumbling and masses of people screaming, running as massive chunks of masonry fell from the sky.

“What the f–” Bucky gasped.

More shots, clearly taken from cell phones showing a Starbucks front window exploding inwards as a massive green...person crashed inside, roaring.

“Was that the hulk?” Bucky breathed out. He pushed the volume up.

A news reporter was speaking, "–planned revolt has the Avengers tied up with all citizens being told to evacuate.”

Another video flashed into view. In an open square were seen people screaming and running as snake-like monsters trampled towards them. A flash of metal and the famous red white and blue shield slashed into the chest-area of the nearest beast, severing it clean through. Bucky’s eyes widened as the shaky footage showed Captain America leaping into the fray, yanking his shield free and immediately turning, smashing it into the face of another monster.

The video changed to more screaming, more people running and detritus flying everywhere. Iron Man’s flashing beams and shiny red suit couldn’t be missed.

Chaos reigned supreme.

“Holy fuck,” Bucky said, heart in his throat. He leaned over, dragging his laptop up to his level and immediately logged into the news website he favoured.

He scrolled through the many, many headlines and found one that tracked everything by time.

Seems the Avengers had been on location when whatever this attack was began.

“Fuck,” Bucky stared at his screen, his thumbnail between his teeth already. “Alien portals? What now? ” He scrolled. “Fire-breathing snakes from alien portals? Oh my God.

His heart was in his throat as the story unfolded. Three people confirmed dead. Many more injured. The aliens were being held back by sheer Avenger force. Where was the armed forces? What about the kids and the old folks?

Bucky’s brow was furrowed as he watched the TV, and then his computer.

Shit. Was Steve okay? How old were those mobile videos? Was there anything recent?

He moved onto twitter where he found the trending topic. Trending topic, how fucking mundanely morbid. There he was able to see new photos by the second. Folks trapped in buildings, even more declaring their locations and calling for aid.

Photos were popping up, showing a messy, destroyed city with cleared streets and injured people and police cars set up as roadblocks.

His heart leapt as a photo of Captain America came to the fore. It was Stevefstark. He was handing over a child in a pink raincoat to her mother, tears streaming down the girl’s face. God, even under the cowl, Bucky could see Steve’s fretful compassion. Bucky zoomed in. There was a cut on Steve’s jaw. Some fucker had nicked the beautiful, stunning, perfect face of one Steven Rogers. They were going to DIE.

More tweets declared sightings of Thor and Iron Man and Black Widow and the guy with the arrows, whose name nobody could ever remember, apparently.

Bucky ferreted through the barrage of tweets.

 

 

Cap just broke us out of the bank on State St. by himself! Thank you, sir! #BostonSiege

 

 

Never thought I’d ever say this. My head hurts and my leg’s p. busted but at least I met Thor?

 

 

#BlackWidow & #Cap spotted on Court St heading west! Fire dept following. #Boston

 

Bucky couldn’t look away. There weren’t enough photos, not enough confirmations. What if this turned into another Battle of Manhattan? What if the Avengers weren’t enough? What the fuck were they thinking?!

This superhero shit was insane! It was madness! No wonder most of ‘em were orphaned or single because their damn families and spouses would be hauling their asses home and whoopin’ ‘em until dawn every day for such fuckin’ idiocy!

Bucky was so mad! And so scared! Fuck!

 


 

Bucky didn’t make it to the gym until almost 10 PM. He was a ball of nerves and the punching bag was taking one for the team.

There was only one other guy over by the weights, probably because everyone was glued to their TVs watching the clean-up in Boston.

Bucky felt helpless. He’d even considered taking a bus, or train into Boston, do something. But Sam talked him out of it, as did his sister.

How was he supposed to sit at times like this?

Then there’d been that one video, shot from a damn phone again. Shaky footage showed a group of teenagers exiting their school as fast as they could, while monsters screeched and lasers fired overhead. The whole scene turned bad quick when the front wall of the school gave way, crumbling over in a massive sheet of structural steel and concrete. Screams echoed and all the kids curled over, the camera-holder yelling as well.

There had been a loud crunching sound and light and then…

Bucky punched harder.

Then Steve was there, arms up, shield holding back the wall, the cracks rippling over the concrete while he barked at everyone to get free.

The kids all scrambled, running for their lives, while Steve winced, holding back enough building materials to flatten them all.

Bucky’s heart felt like it was about to explode from terror. Why was nobody helping him? What was Steve thinking? He could’ve died! Was he insane?

Footage afterwards showed that the school did indeed collapse, but it also showed Captain America busting his way out from the rubble like a real true-blue hero before pressing his hands to his knees, gasping for air, standing, and heading off to some other fucking catastrophe.

How did he do it?

Bucky had had enough of staring at his phone, willing Steve to respond to his one frantic text. Bucky didn't want to drown him in messages. It looked as if the Avengers made it out of the massacre, but no press conference until morning...so.

Bucky punched the sandbag. Once, and again. And again.

He hissed out a breath through his teeth, feeling the tension bunched between his shoulder blades. He’d go at this for another hour at least, just to make sure he could conk out.

 


 

He wasn’t able to sleep.

He laid awake most of the night, frequently checking his phone for the news and photos of anything Boston-related. He even tracked the #Cap tag now, admitting defeat. The media had started out with just following the story, then recapping it, so they were devoid of social commentary. Now that hours had passed, the creeper stations were starting their judgement reels. They started calling out faulty actions the Avengers may or may not have handled well. They analyzed more footage, zoomed in for finer commentary and began slowly, systematically tearing into each Avenger. They always steered clear of Thor, though. Probably because he could literally just press a button somewhere and blow up the planet, or something.

But Captain America was a favourite. Perhaps it was because the public just ate him up that the reels could go very far right and rubber-band back over to the left whenever they needed. He wasn’t as polarizing as Iron Man, who always seemed to be ready to draw broadswords with anyone at any time, but he was a contentious character.

Finally, the sun rose and Bucky deemed it appropriate to haul himself out of bed.

His client hadn’t responded, so that was good. Probably caught up in the news too. He’d invoice the guy on Monday.

Bucky waited for his water to heat up in the microwave. He poured himself a bowl of Corn Flakes and almond milk. The lone banana he’d managed to keep fresh he also cut up onto his cereal.

When the microwave beeped, he was able to make his coffee, slowly stirring in the creamer.

The sun was arcing brightly through his living room windows, making him squint.

His cellphone was dark.

He needed to shower.

But first, breakfast.

Making his way to the sofa, Bucky settled in, feeling tired, grumpy and disheveled. He carefully put his coffee down and settled into his seat, bowl and spoon in hand.

He poked at the remote with his foot, wishing he had more dexterous toes. When the remote fell off the sofa and under the table, he groaned. Putting his bowl down, he bent over and dug out the stupid plastic stick of power. He flicked the TV on, the news channel blaring back to life.

Chewing his breakfast, he couldn’t look away from the many images and people on-screen.

There was a PR event happening. Cameras flashed and people rustled about.

He paused, mouth full.

Holy shit.

The Avengers were walking out from some side door and seating themselves behind a long white table. First the Black Widow who ignored all the reporters and cameras, then Tony Stark, who waved from behind his sunglasses and cream suit.

And then finally, Captain America, still in his full uniform. Though Tony and the Black Widow looked fresh and cleaned-up, Steve did not. His suit had a black burn along the shoulder and he wasn’t wearing his gloves. The cowl was scratched up and dirty, which had Bucky fretting about projectiles and bullets and falling concrete.

“You idiot,” Bucky blurted softly, imagining Steve staying longer to help people for as long as he could. He didn’t have the luxury of sleep or a bath, it seemed.

Once the Press conference got going, Bucky felt his stomach drop.

The reporters were ruthless, accosting them with accusations and condemnations. First, for not being able to stop the aliens before they attacked(???) and then for failing to save every single person. That last one seemed to hit Steve the hardest, as everyone acknowledged the deaths of a handful of Bostonians.

Bucky was astonished at the sheer audacity of these reporters.

How dare they accuse perfect, lovely, sweet Steve of not doing the best he damn well could? How very dare they!

Bucky’s clenched his spoon so tight it actually hurt.

Steve was too stoic for this. He should be clapping back, but he wasn’t.

Hell.

The poor guy.

Bucky had seen previous press conferences with the Avengers on youtube. Cap was known for his fiery responses and for the press’ inability to anticipate his answers. This time, though...he just looked tired.

Bucky wanted to hug him and pet his hair so bad.

 


 

It was three more days of watching the news, trawling twitter and punching sandbags before Bucky just gave up and texted Steve again.

Hey. Are you okay? Just checking in.

Sam and Bucky didn’t comment on Steve. They talked a bit about the incident, but were both too somber to really get into it. Bucky’s parents had called, asking if he was okay, as if he’d somehow materialized in Boston for some unknown reason and got his face chewed off by a snake-alien. “Ma, seriously,” he’d whined. “No.”

And so his day went on.

He couldn’t fix the roiling in his belly, nor the anger in his head.

This was ridiculous. Months ago he wouldn’t have been this bad. Sure, these Avengers incidents were happening more and more. The insurance companies had already started selling Alien and Super Insurance to all the citizens in major cities to counter the country’s fears of destruction and property loss. So it wasn’t new. And yeah, mass terrorism and bombings were horrifying always. But Bucky could avoid thinking about it if he steered clear of the media. He always had to to tamp down his own anxiety.

But this time was different. This time he was invested because of, well, Steve. Before, Captain America had just been this guy who was made of miracles and super-juice. Who was probably blonde, probably ancient and probably lame and boring. Now, he was this smiley, handsome son of a gun with thick arms and a sweet sense of humour and blue, blue eyes with long eyelashes. He was funny and odd and sexy and probably straight, and he wound Bucky up in a way no other man ever had before. Or woman, come to think of it.

Bucky’s cuticles had taken some damage from the stress of wondering whether his attraction was to the Captain America, or the Steve portion of said man. He felt a sickness in his belly at the idea that Bucky was nothing more than a fanboy.

He didn’t want to be that.

Steve had been cute that first night at the supermarket. He had been! It wasn’t a false memory, right?

“Blagh,” he groused, jammed into his sofa late that night, still staring at his phone.

There was a tapping sound.

Bucky frowned. He muted the TV and waited.

Was that the front door to the house?

Another tapping sound.

He leapt off the couch and dashed to his own apartment door. Throwing it wide, he ran down the hallway to the connector doors and threw himself down the stairs.

Someone was outside in the dark.

He unlocked the house’s main front door and pulled it open, eyes wide.

“Steve!” he breathed out.

The man himself was standing there in a plain navy hoodie, jeans and no-name branded sneakers.

His hair was neat, but not brushed, so it was just sort of a tidy mess.

And he was staring at Bucky, hands in hoodie pockets, looking as if he was worried Bucky’d turn him away.

“Oh my God,” Bucky said, relief flooding him, and threw his arms around the other man. “Jesus, fuck. So glad to see you,” Bucky muttered into Steve’s neck.

They’d definitely never hugged before, but Bucky didn’t care.

“Hey,” Steve murmured back, his hands gently pressing to Bucky’s sides. “Hey, Buck.”

They stood there, Bucky all but strangling Steve for a few moments.

He pulled back and pressed his hands to Steve’s cheeks, heart pounding. He looked him over. The cuts he’d seen on the news and the internet, they were gone. He rubbed his thumb over Steve’s jawline, right where a cut might have been.

“You’re okay,” Bucky blurted. “I mean, I know you’re okay. I saw you on TV, on the news. But you’re really okay.”

Steve smiled softly, “Yes. I’m fine.”

Bucky’s eyes flicked across Steve features. The man looked exhausted.

“You came all the way out to here? From Boston?”

Steve sighed, “I was supposed to go...back to HQ,” he muttered. “But I didn’t want to.”

“Aw,” Bucky smiled, “You skipped class just for me?”

Steve smiled that lopsided smile that made Bucky’s gut do swan dives. “I guess, yeah. Just wanted to be with someone who…” Steve shrugged.

“Someone who isn’t the government or a reporter?” Bucky said, leaning in. He held himself back. Don’t smooch the guy! He admonished himself. Pull it together, Barnes. Let the man live.

“Sure,” Steve nodded.

“Well, come on,” Bucky ushered the guy in and locked the door after checking that the street was clear of spies and aliens. Can’t be too careful.

Steve followed him back to his apartment.

“Want pizza?” Bucky asked, letting Steve back into his home. “I was just gonna order,” he fibbed.

“Sure,” Steve said, sighing.

Bucky watched him move about. No injuries at all, it seemed. No limping, no wincing.

Bucky called up Pedro’s down the street and made his usual order, plus an extra three pizzas and a side of fries, dips and drinks.

“Hey, don’t pay so much,” Steve murmured, listening to Bucky read out his credit card info.

“Hush, gumdrop,” Bucky said, pulling his credit card back, free of Steve’s massive hands. “Just got paid. My treat.”

Steve eyed him skeptically.

Once done, Bucky waved Steve into the living room.

“Okay, so are you hurt anywhere?” Bucky said, pushing Steve into his spot on the sofa. “Do you need me to inspect, bandage or perhaps massage anything back to full happiness?” he said with a grin.

Steve cocked a brow at him, “No.”

“Pity,” Bucky sighed, “I’m excellent at massage.”

“Are you now?” Steve settled back into his seat while Bucky bent and tugged at his stupidly ugly sneakers. “What are you doing?”

“Getting you comfy,” Bucky huffed. “You just saved the universe. You can take your shoes off, pal.”

“I didn’t–” Steve began.

“Shut up and relax,” Bucky said with a glare. He pulled at Steve’s socks, too.

“Do you, like, not sweat, or something?” Bucky eyed the sock in his hand. “These don’t even stink.”

Steve laughed, “I do sweat, quite a lot actually. The serum didn’t stop that.”

“Hmm,” Bucky said, laying Steve’s items under the coffee table. He folded his laptop and cleaned up the miscellaneous candy wrappers littered about the place.

Steve was staring at the TV, still showing the silent news.

Bucky threw the remote at him. “Pick a movie channel. Come on, bub, you’re gonna relax even if I have to strap you down.”

“Hmm,” Steve hummed, “Sounds good.”

Bucky did not read into that whatsoever.

Bucky rummaged in his measly storage closet for an extra blanket.

“You wanna stay here tonight?” he asked, then yelped as a pile of sheets fell on his head.

“Um…” Steve mumbled.

Bucky got free of the mess of fabric and stared across the room at Steve. “You’re welcome to. I don’t have any work for a while.”

“Wow, you really did get paid, huh?” Steve murmured.

Bucky threw a blanket at Steve’s head. “Yup.”

Steve was eyeing Bucky’s sofa, probably to determine just how much of himself he could scrunch down to fit.

“You can sleep in my bed, you ass,” Bucky sighed, jamming his closet closed again.

“Really?” Steve asked.

Bucky cleared his throat. “Yeah. You mind sharing? I can take the sofa, of course.”

Steve watched Bucky walk back over, take the remote and begin flicking through the channels on offer.

“I don’t mind sharing,” Steve said softly.

Bucky looked down at him.

Steve was staring up at him.

God, this man had just battled with aliens and saved school children from death. He was a freakin’ superhero with muscles woven from steel and here he was, sitting on Bucky’s sofa like it was nothing. Steve was staring up at Bucky with those pretty eyes of his and a pouty mouth, all innocent and sweet...

Bucky squinted down at Steve. Wait a second.

“You’re not as innocent as you look,” he said.

Steve’s lips slipped into a smile. “What?”

“Oh my God, Steven Graham Rogers. Are you saying we can bunk together without you being awkward?”

“Grant,” Steve said.

“Whatever,” Bucky waved him off.

“Why would I be awkward?” Steve asked. “I came here to see you, Buck. I missed you. You’re the only sane person I know, honestly.”

Bucky blinked. Bucky was a damn mess and everybody knew it. What was Steve talking about?

“You can’t be sassy at this hour, Steve,” Bucky said. “My brain ain’t doing so good.”

Steve frowned and stood up. “Hey, what’s that mean?”

“It means, ” Bucky said, switching his eyes to the TV and trying to read the stupid menu without falling apart. “You gotta rest. You gotta sit down, eat and then snuggle me until you fall asleep if that’s what you need.” Okay, the snuggle part just slipped out.

Steve took Bucky’s chin and turned him to look at Steve. “I’m sorry, Buck,” he murmured. “If you were worried.”

“Damn right I was,” Bucky said, “But that ain’t the thing.” he wavered. “You coulda died, man.”

Steve just stared at him. God, why was it so tense in here? The guy had just arrived.

Steve’s gaze fell to Bucky’s lips. Oh hell no.

Bucky pulled away, his stomach fluttering wildly. No, nope, nopnopnope. He was reading into this too much.

“Where you going?” Steve asked.

“Gotta take a shit,” Bucky blurted, assured that that would kill any and all of whatever was going down.

He shut himself in his tiny bathroom, breathing hard.

He eyed his reflection.

“What? You wanna judge me too?” he griped.

 


 

Steve really could eat. Bucky always seemed to forget just how proficient the man was at inserting huge amounts of food into his face.

“Impressive,” Bucky said as Steve cleaned off the last garlic dip. “That’s three pizzas, a box of fries, four cokes and three dips. Nicely done.”

Steve patted his belly, which still looked as ripped and solid as ever. “Thanks, Buck. don’t forget the complimentary one-bite brownies.”

Bucky was about to speak, but a burp ripped free of its own volition. He sounded like a truck horn. He gasped and covered his mouth. “Oops.”

Steve snorted and fell back on the sofa laughing. God, he had such a nice laugh. Deep and gentle. Not like the grunts Bucky always ended up fucking. The guys who laughed like angry, snuffling rhinos.

Bucky shook his head and stacked up the pizza boxes. Barely an hour and a half after the food had arrived, and all of it was gone. Fuckin’ impressive indeed.

“Big boy’s gotta eat,” Steve said, smiling wide. “Didn’t you say that?”

Bucky tried not to let that sound as awesome as it did. Apparently Steve referring to himself as a big boy just did things to Bucky. Also, Bucky must say that a lot.

“Hmm,” Bucky humphed and took the trash to the kitchen.

“Your place looks different,” Steve said.

“Yeah, I cleaned it,” Bucky snorted.

“Oh,” Steve stood up and wandered about the apartment. He didn’t have far to go, but yeah. “You got new art?”

Bucky looked up. “A friend of mine does illustrations for magazines. She gifted me one, so I framed it.”

Steve was staring at the framed print on the wall. “I like it,” he murmured.

“I’ll let her know Captain America approves,” Bucky said, tying up the trash bag.

He stacked the trash bags by the door for the morning and wiped down the countertop.

“You know,” Steve said, making Bucky jump.

“Jesus Christ!” Bucky yelped. “How’d you get here so quietly?”

Steve was in Bucky’s space. He smiled. “I’m Captain America.”

Bucky blushed for some unfathomable reason. Stupid body malfunctioning again.

“But I’m not just Captain America,” Steve went on.

Bucky blinked at him. The two of them barely fit into his tiny kitchen. Steve was a big guy and Bucky wasn't any smaller. Not helping the bodily malfunction situation.

“I get that,” Bucky said, voice gruff.

“Do you?” Steve murmured.

Bucky was an expert at reading signals and Steve was blaring like a fire truck right now. Bucky was reading all the signals.

“Steve,” Bucky cleared his throat.

“Yes, Buck?”

Bucky blinked and licked his lips. Steve smelled good.

“Steve,” Bucky repeated. “You’re not gay. So stop that.”

Steve leaned in closer. “I never said that.”

Bucky processed that before frowning. “What?”

Steve chuckled and stepped back. “Sorry. I thought it was obvious.”

“Wait, wait,” Bucky said, his voice rising. “You’re not gay. You can’t be. You’re Captain America.”

“So?” Steve shrugged.

“But–” Bucky opened and closed his mouth, flustered. “But you can’t–you never–no one said–”

“It’s not something that I was really aware of until I woke from the ice,” Steve said. “Maybe it was there the whole time. Who knows.”

“So…” Bucky frowned harder. “When?”

Steve thought for a moment. “There have been a few times. A few people. Men and women, Buck.”

“But–” Bucky flailed his hands. “This is ridiculous!”

“Why?” Steve blinked at him.

“Because if I’d known you were swinging through both damn saloon doors, I woulda tried harder to get in your pants!” Bucky cried angrily. “But I’ve been wasting time!”

“Why are you angry?” Steve asked, folding his arms and smiling crookedly. He leaned against the fridge.

“I don’t know!” Bucky cried.

“You saying you wouldn’t have been so nice to me all this time if I’d been upfront?”

Bucky pouted, “I...well, can’t say. Maybe I woulda. You’re really sweet, you moron. You confuse me on the daily. I probably would’ve just fuckin’ bent over right away. Like a real classy gal.”

Steve tilted his head. “I don’t think so, Buck.”

“Oh ho ho, you underestimate how hot you are, Rogers,” Bucky squeezed past Steve, feeling the sheer muscle of him pressing back, unyielding. “And you underestimate how desperate I can be.”

Steve followed Bucky into the living room.

“So, you don’t want to bunk with me?” Steve asked.

Bucky rubbed both hands through his hair, pushing his locks away from his face. Now he could see it, Steve’s eyes were caught on the bottom of his shirt, where the fabric rode up and revealed his tummy. Dangit!

“Steve,” he said, trying to level out his voice. “I would bunk with you even if it was in a trench in the frozen Russian tundra and all we had for lube was our Slavic tears.”

Steve’s brows rose.

“So you are definitely staying over,” Bucky went on, “But why didn’t you tell me you were into men?”

Steve shrugged, “It’s not important.”

“But you’re you! You should be out there! Guys would fall over themselves for you. So many free meals! You’re not out there, trawling for ass, for affection, for love?”

Steve’s expression softened.

“I thought you weren’t looking for love, Bucky?”

Bucky rolled his eyes. “We’re not talking about me.”

Steve came closer. He ran his hand up Bucky’s arm. He was staring, keeping eye contact as his hand ran up Bucky’s neck. It paused over Bucky’s ear, thumb beside Bucky’s brow.

“You know,” Steve murmured, his voice deep and comforting in a whole range of confusing ways. “You’re the only person I wanted to to see. I don’t know, you’re great, Bucky. You’re funny and you’re sweet and you’re very, very cute. I didn’t think me saying hello that one evening when I wasn’t supposed to be round here would ever amount to me being here. With you.

Bucky’s mouth opened. He didn’t know what to say. “But you’re…”

“Captain America, I know,” Steve sighed.

“No,” Bucky scowled, “You’re perfect. You’re like the epitome of what every man could be if we all got our heads unstuck from inside our asses.” He could feel Steve’s thumb rubbing against his skin. “And you have this amazing body.”

Steve smiled wide. “Let’s not forget.”

Oh God, he was leaning in. Was he going to kiss Bucky?

Bucky moved closer, nerves overtaking reason, and threw his arms up and around Steve’s neck.

“Mmmf!” Steve laughed when Bucky kissed him.

It was cute until it got steamy. Bucky kissed with fervour and Steve gave it right back. What probably could have been soft and sweet turned into a blazing furnace in moments.

Bucky gasped for breath, his tongue meeting Steve’s. God, it was great!

Steve’s hands gripped Bucky’s ribs and Bucky could feel the strength in there.

“Unh,” Bucky breathed, pulling back. “Fuck,” he leaned in and kissed Steve again.

Steve groaned and tugged Bucky in close. “You smell amazing,” he huffed against Bucky’s lips.

“I just ate garlic,” Bucky responded.

“Me too,” Steve chuckled.

Bucky nipped Steve’s lower lip. He had both arms wrapped around Steve, holding his face close. He was kissing this amazing guy and nothing terrible had happened to him. What a world.

Steve’s hands were big and warm, and sneaky, it seemed. They were lifting Bucky’s shirt. Thumbs ran along the waistband of his sweatpants.

“Oh, wow,” Bucky said, pulling back. He felt dizzy. It had been a long time since some guy had made him feel like this. Steve hummed, his thumbs sliding into Bucky’s pants. “You’re actually interested, huh?” Bucky said.

“I am,” Steve said. “Have been for a while.”

“A while?!” Bucky squawked just as a big hand grabbed his ass cheek. “Steven Gregory!”

“Grant,” Steve chuckled. “My middle name is Grant.”

“Oh my God,” Bucky felt like he was wilting. He was big, he was strong, he worked out, he was a grown-up... but Captain America was fondling his ass so how could he be expected to function?

“You’ve never shown me your bedroom, Buck,” Steve’s voice was little more than a rumble.

“Oh, the grand tour, huh?” Bucky said, “thought you’d never ask.”

He pulled away, and immediately stumbled over his laptop charger. Steve caught him by the elbows. “Careful.”

“Shit,” Bucky laughed. “Okay. Follow me.”

Steve did as he was told. Well, Bucky dragged him over to his bedroom door. He pushed it open, revealing his big comfy bed with its many blankets and pillows.

Bucky flicked on his bedside lamp.

“Wow,” Steve said, “It’s like a fort in here.”

“Shut up and get naked,” Bucky said.

“Mmm,” Steve said, wandering around Bucky’s bedroom, pointedly not undressing at all. Rude. He paused at the many more art prints on the wall.

“These all done by your friends?” he asked.

“Mostly,” Bucky said. He fluffed the blankets a bit and kicked his own sweaty sneakers under the bed. He went over and shut the closet so Steve wouldn’t have to stare at his abominable untidiness.

When he turned back, Steve was lying on the bed, head propped on his hand.

“The hell?” Bucky cried, “How do you move so quietly!”

Steve smirked. “Practice.” He patted the bed beside him.

Well, okay then.

Bucky clambered onto the bed. When he reached Steve, he kissed him.

Then Steve’s hands were under his shirt, pulling the fabric. He tugged harder and Bucky moaned into his lips.

A loud ripping noise made Steve’s eyes fly open, meeting Bucky’s wide ones.

“Oh, God, Buck, I’m sorry,” he pulled back. “Shit.” he looked at Bucky’s t-shirt, at the small tear he’d caused.

“Do it,” Bucky said, heart thumping. “Fucking go for it.”

Steve paused, then tugged. Bucky’s t-shirt tore slowly. Steve smiled and Bucky basically fell onto him. Steve rolled, putting Bucky’s back on the bed. He sat back on his own knees and using both hands, tore Bucky’s t-shirt in half, just like that. The tearing sound was loud in Bucky’s ears.

Steve was staring at Bucky's now naked chest.

Bucky’s eyes were wide, breaths heaving.

“Mmm, Buck,” Steve murmured.

Big, warm hands pressed against Bucky’s chest, smoothing over his skin.

“God, yes,” Bucky shifted, his cock hard in his pants. He pushed at his own sweats, shoving them down over his hips.

Steve helped him, pulling the pants off and away.

Bucky wasn’t shy about his body. He worked hard to stay strong, fit. Many a man had commented on his body and he was aware it looked good these days.

He’d found over the years that men were a lot harder to please when it came to physique. The guys he’d dated had, for some reason, much higher expectations about body image than the women he ever got frisky with. What a conundrum.

Steve rumbled deep in his chest, his admiration more than apparent, if the tent in his jeans said anything.

He sat back and yanked off his own hoodie and the t-shirt underneath.

Bucky almost choked.

Steve was magnificent. All curves and muscle and wow!

“Hot damn ,” Bucky breathed in awe. “Jesus fuck me sideways. Look at those tiny hips. Those abs. Those tits. Jesus.

Steve chuckled and unbuttoned his jeans. He rolled sideways so as to wiggle out of them.

“Are you wearing tighty-whities?” Bucky said.

Steve paused, “Um. Yes?” He threw his jeans aside and got back onto his knees so he could knee-walk back between Bucky’s legs.

“Well,” Bucky sniffed, “We can train that outta you, for sure.”

Steve laughed loud, head thrown back.

“You are somethin’ else,” he said, crawling over Bucky like a panther.

“You better believe it,” Bucky growled and pulled him in for a kiss.

 


 

“Oh jeez,” Steve gasped, “Bucky.”

Bucky stared up the length of this gorgeous, beautiful man. Steve’s muscles flexed as Bucky went down on him again.

Truth be told, Bucky was excellent at giving head. One of his proudest achievements, really. He’d even managed to overcome his ol’ pesky gag reflex. The wide-eyed look of surprise on Steve’s face when Bucky had swallowed him all the way down had made all those random practice dicks worth it.

“Mmm,” Bucky hummed around Steve Rogers’ huge cock. It was big, yes, but Bucky would handle it.

He’d thrown Steve in head-first, asking to be fingered right at the beginning so they could work Bucky up to the final event.

Steve was totally game, going against all Bucky’s preconceived assumptions about the guy.

Steve Rogers was not naive, nor was he terrified by sex. That was just the gossip rags making shit up. This man knew his way round a cock. Well, another cock.

Bucky’d been hard for so long it was a wonder his own didn’t petrify and fall off.

Steve moaned again, head falling back on the pillow. God, his lips were so pink, so pouty. And his neck and chest were slightly sweaty. This man was too beautiful for real life.

Bucky sucked Steve down, then sucked his way back up his length. He showed Steve’s cock head some extra love, suckling wetly there, tongue massaging and rolling.

The plug in Bucky’s ass was making him feel faint. It felt tighter with every heartbeat. He needed it because there was no way Steve was leaving here without Bucky giving his dick a good go.

“Oh, Bucky,” Steve breathed and opened his eyes. “Come on.” He waved Bucky closer.

Bucky pulled off, panting. His own lips felt raw and wet from the precome and saliva. He wiped at his mouth, so turned on it was probably dangerous.

Bucky crawled up Steve and settled himself on that broad chest. He slid down in such a way that Steve’s cock settled on his butt, just there.

“You’re very good at that,” Steve said.

“How many blowjobs you had?” Bucky said.

“Not any as good as that,” Steve hummed.

“Girls or guys?” Bucky asked.

“Men only,” Steve murmured. “The women before the war...well, it wasn’t really done as much, I suppose.”

Bucky snorted, “Yeah, I doubt it, pal. You probably didn’t know anyone as easy as me.”

Steve ran his fingers over Bucky’s hair, tucking it behind Bucky’s ear. “You’re not...easy.”

“Oh,” Bucky chuckled, “I am very easy.”

“You mean promiscuous?”

Bucky nodded, “Pretty much.”

Steve just watched him.

“Does that gross you out?” Bucky asked.

Steve frowned, “No. It just means you actively seek out and get the sexual gratification you desire.”

“Wow, big words,” Bucky chuckled and nipped at Steve’s chin.

Steve shifted beneath him and Bucky shivered, feeling Steve’s cock rub along his ass.

“You think you could go like this?” Steve rumbled. His hands fell to Bucky’s ass.

“Yeah,” Bucky breathed.

Steve’s fingers trailed along his skin and down...down until they met the flat protruding end of the plug Bucky had insisted on.

Steve nudged it and Bucky’s eyes fluttered. When the plug shifted, it pressed right up against his prostate.

“Is it time to remove this thing?” Steve asked.

Bucky felt those long fingers grip the end and pull.

“Ohhh…” Bucky’s eyes closed at the sensation. He shifted higher so Steve could get at it better. The plug pulled free and Bucky all but purred.

“Well,” Steve said, clearing his throat. “That’s, uh, a neat thing.”

“Yeah,” Bucky huffed. He shifted, rubbing his own cock against Steve’s lower abdomen. “It's one of my best one. Mmmm.”

Steve’s hands kept wandering, the plug dropped to the bed. Bucky felt Steve pull his cock away from Bucky’s ass.

“Come on sweetheart,” Steve said, “up.”

“You want me to ride you?” Bucky pushed up on his hands.

“No, hush,” Steve whispered. His hands pushed at Bucky’s hips instead. Oh. Right.

Bucky got his knees planted, hips in the air. Then he could Feel Steve guiding him. Bucky licked at Steve’s neck. He kissed his jaw, his chin, then his lips. And Steve always kissed back, attentive and generous.

Steve’s cock pressed against Bucky, rubbing gently.

The copious amount of lube they’d used earlier was leaking from Bucky’s ass, making it very easy for Steve to slide between his ass cheeks.

“Fuck me,” Bucky murmured into Steve’s wet mouth. “Please.”

And Steve obliged with a gentle kiss. He guided himself to Bucky’s hole and pressed in.

Bucky shifted his own hips, tilting them to welcome Steve inside his body.

“Mnnnhhhhh, oh Jesus,” Bucky moaned. “Fuck, you are huge.”

Steve paused.

“No, keep going,” Bucky slapped Steve’s shoulder. “I want it in me.”

“Okay,” Steve breathed, and Bucky realized maybe this was taking its toll on him too.

Bucky slid his hips down, guided by Steve’s hands on his hips. Every millimeter of Steve’s cock thrummed through Bucky, making him hotter, hornier. “Ugh,” Bucky bottomed out. He looked down at Steve. Shit, he was on his hands. Must have needed the extra angle and push.

Steve’s eyes were dark, his hands soft and caressing. “You feel amazing,” he murmured.

Bucky felt himself flush with and idiotic pride. “Yeah?”

Steve nodded, “Yeah.”

“Well, let’s go then,” Bucky retorted, and pulled his hips up.

Every drag and slide had him shaking, shivering. Thank god for the butt plug. He was only just loose enough to handle Steve. God damn this felt amazing. And it was so slow, so agonizingly slow. Like Steve couldn’t bear to waste a moment just wildly fucking Bucky. Steve guided Bucky’s hips, so strong that Bucky couldn’t fight the flow.

When Bucky tried to shove his own hips down, Steve halted him, barely flexing a muscle.

So Bucky played with him. He ran his hands all over Steve’s fucking amazing chest. He squeezed Steve’s pecs and tweaked his nipples.

“Stop playing unfair,” Steve grunted, pecs flexing beautifully. Bucky flicked his nipples again.

“You stop,” Bucky said, sticking out his tongue.

Steve growled and snapped his hips up.

Bucky gasped as that immense cock slid home again. “Oh my God…do that again.”

Steve actually complied, sliding out slow and then pumping in, hard.

Bucky all but fell apart. “Yesssss, Steve.”

“Bucky,” Steve gasped, pumping up again. And again, his cock heavy.

He set up a fast beat, pumping in and out, skin smacking against Bucky’s ass. Then he got a bit carried away and slipped free. Bucky’s butt hit Steve’s abdomen as Steve’s dick slid out of him and wetly up his left butt cheek.

“Nooo,” Bucky whined and rolled over. He wriggled and poked and prodded until Steve complied, rolling on top of him.

Bucky hooked his own knees over his elbows and tilted himself, spreading his ass wide.

“Come on, big boy,” he purred.

Steve’s eyes went wide and his mouth fell open with desire.

“Bucky,” he moaned and lined up, pushing back into Bucky’s wet and stretched hole in one hard go. “Unhh.”

“Oh, Jesus, fuck yes,” Bucky cried, feeling Steve’s weight pin him down. The other man was heavy and pressed Bucky into the bed. Steve grunted and began fucking him. Really, really fucking him.

“Is…” Steve gasped, staring down at Bucky, “Is this okay?”

“Yes,” Bucky gasped. “Perfect.”

“I’m not hurting...you?”

“Oh fuck!”  Bucky gasped, eyes rolling as Steve cock filled him up like no other. “No. This. This is great. Shut up.”

Steve kissed him then, all tongue and gasps.

The two of them clung to each other, rutting hard into one another. It was unlike any other kind of sex Bucky had ever had. It was fucking awesome.

“Steve,” Bucky gasped. “Steve.”  But before he could finish the thought, he was coming, all tight and heavy from his nipples to his hips. Steve watched him fall apart, keeping his cock thick and heavy deep inside Bucky, just watching.

Then Bucky squeezed down hard and Steve stuttered.

“I’m–” he whispered and Bucky felt it, felt the hot come filling him up, tight against his walls.

Steve moaned into Bucky’s neck, shivering all over as his orgasm took him apart.

 


 

“Wow, you really filled me up, pal,” Bucky murmured, wriggling against Steve’s side. They’d attempted to clean themselves, but gave up.

“Oh, um,” Steve stuttered. “Sorry?”

“Nah,” Bucky squirmed, feeling the wetness between his ass cheeks again. “Don’t mind it.”

“You like that?” Steve murmured into Bucky’s hair. He’d spent the last five minutes just petting Bucky, combing his fingers through his hair, and trailing them down his side and back.

“Mmm,” Bucky hummed. He rubbed his palm over Steve’s still spectacular pectoral. His nipples were very pale, now that Bucky had the time to notice things. His own nipples were much darker, stood out more.

“You don’t have chest hair,” Bucky blurted.

“Ah, yeah,” Steve said.

“Side-effect?” Bucky asked.

“No,” Steve said. “I didn’t have any hair going in, so…” he shrugged, jostling Bucky.

“So the...serum...just kinda exaggerated what you already had?”

“Basically, yes,” Steve said softly.

“Your cock must have been fuckin’ impressive before it, then,” Bucky chuckled.

Steve sighed.

Bucky pushed up to his elbow and stared at Steve.

“You don’t wanna talk about that stuff, huh?”

Steve didn’t hide his feelings well. “It’s not that,” he said, “It’s just all anyone wants to talk to me about. You’re probably one of the first people to not bug me about it.”

“Only because I was dumb and didn’t click who you were,” Bucky said.

“You’re not dumb,” Steve smiled. “Just...not sharp.”

“Oh, that’s so much nicer.”

Steve laughed and kissed Bucky’s nose, just once. This could be normal couldn’t it?

Bucky watched Steve. “Are you sure you’re okay?” he murmured.

Steve blinked up at him. He nodded.

“‘Cos no one seemed to ask you,” Bucky said. “Not at that conference. Not in Boston.”

Steve’s brow furrowed. He rubbed Bucky’s back. “People don’t have to ask,” Steve said.

Bucky rolled his eyes. “Just ‘cos you have magic healing blood or whatever it is, doesn’t mean you aren’t hurt, Steve.”

“Well–”

“No, I mean it,” Bucky insisted. “How come nobody checks in with you? You can’t just be strong and sturdy all the time. That’d be exhausting. When you showed up tonight, you looked dead inside.”

“Did I?”

“Yeah,” Bucky said softly and kissed Steve’s nose again. “And it was obvious to me you weren’t okay.”

Steve smiled, “I’m so glad I met you, Buck.”

“Is it ‘cos I’m cute? You can say it’s ‘cos I’m cute.”

Steve laughed loud and tugged Bucky in for a tight hug. “You’re very cute, Buck. The cutest.”

 


 

“Cook eggs in butter, they taste better,” Steve went on, standing at the stove in a pair of Bucky’s sweats.

“We have teflon non-stick shit now, Steve. Get with the times.”

“You shut your damn face and eat my fuckin’ eggs, Barnes,” Steve threatened, pointing the spatula at Bucky from across the counter.

Bucky smiled dopily. He loved the way Steve’s words would slip back into what Bucky now recognized as a true-blue Brooklyn accent. It was slightly tilted, different to what Bucky was used to. Now it made sense.

“Okay, but you gotta dish about the Stark Tower, or whatever it’s called now. Online forums say it probably has wicked smoke machines throughout, so Tony Stark can make dramatic entrances whenever he wants.”

Steve snorted, a smile breaking free. He glanced at Bucky, “You’re not far off.”

Bucky grinned, “Come on, tell me he’s as arrogant as he seems. The guy must be a bit of a dork, even if he is a giant genius millionaire.”

“Billionaire,” Steve corrected.

 


 

Bucky was working away, two weeks later. His latest gig was so much fun, he barely had time to spare for other mundane tasks like showering or eating. Building websites for animal shelters was definitely his new favourite thing. All the dog and kitty pictures only made his heart swell larger every day.

Steve was still on mission in Washington and wouldn’t be back for another few days. Bucky could swing this project, get it done, get paid and then have time to get a haircut, maybe work on his squats and then bone his boyfriend into the ever-loving sunset. Yes. Goals. He had goals now.

He sipped at his black coffee, as brewed by his new-fangled Stark coffee-maker Steve had dropped off one day, saying it wasn't worth the fuss. The coffee was bitter, but so strong it made his brain fizzle nicely.

His phone buzzed loudly and vibrated itself almost to the edge of the coffee table.

Bucky frowned and picked it up before it met its untimely death. He was still slouched on the floor working. Baby steps.

“Sam? Hey,” Bucky said, a smile breaking across his face.

“Dude! Barnes!” Sam cried from the other end, almost deafening Bucky. “You will not guess who the hell I met while out running this morning!”