It’s been more than a year since Bucky last played the dame. More than a year since he's wanted to; he goes for the skinny boys, everyone at Floyd’s knows it, long-limbed and gawky and mouthy and blushing. Boys who get shoved around on the street; boys whose own mothers call them fairies and nancies. Hell, no one he’s fucked has been taller than him since the Krauts took Prague.
So the motions are slow to come back to him. He settles back in his chair, looks up at the man through his eyelashes, raises the whiskey to his lips but doesn’t drink. Wets it with his tongue, just a little. “So what’s your name?”
“S-“ says the man, winces, says, “Scott,” and then winces again, harder. Bucky sips so he won’t bust out laughing. Not that he blames the guy; could be he’s married, could be he has a job around here. Could be he’s just scared.
“Nice to meet you, S-Scott,” he says. “I’m Jimmy.” Which has the benefit of being mostly true.
The guy isn’t meeting his eyes, so Bucky takes the opportunity to look him up and down. His clothes are nice, nicer than anything Bucky’s ever owned; the colors are bright, the fabric is thick and fine. His jacket looks like leather, good, without a stain. His beard is neat, shaped around his jaw. Someone takes care of it for him. Bucky shifts his bet towards wife, and smiles at him.
“First time in Floyd's?” he says.
“I,” says the man, and, under all the beard, Bucky can see him going red. “How can you tell?”
“I’ve got a gift,” Bucky says. “And you look like you’ll jump and run for the door if I say boo. Surprised you had the guts to buy me a drink at all.” He lets his smile slide wider. “You must be very brave.”
The man meets his eyes for a second - and then looks away, staring wildly at his drink, at the ceiling fans, at the girl in the flowered skirt with her cloth tits spilling out of her dress. “This was a bad idea. I shouldn’t have come.” He downs his drink, puts the glass on the table.
“Hey,” says Bucky, “hey, no, c'mon.” He rags on the usual trade worse than this six days out of seven, surely the guy can’t be taking it this hard? He puts a hand on the guy’s arm. “I didn’t mean to make you feel down, honest to God.” Lets the hand trail down the arm - Jesus, he’s got muscles, probably be able to lift Bucky up and sling him over his shoulder like a rag doll. “Let me make it up to you.”
The man’s staring at Bucky’s fingers on his skin like he’s got the plague. Bucky pulls his hand back, offended. Does he have something in his teeth? Are his nails too dirty? If definitely-not-named-Scott's looking for one of the pretty little punks, or one of the girls in skirts and lipstick, he could’ve left Bucky alone; he didn't ask to be bought a drink at all.
But the man is biting his lip, hunching his shoulders. He’s not disgusted, Bucky realizes, he’s guilty.
Sympathy bubbles up. A married man, in this part of the Village at this time of night - no wonder he feels guilty. Bucky feels guilty, too, on his bad days.
“Tell you what,” he says. “Let’s get out of here, huh? Find somewhere quieter. We can talk, just you and me.” And if that doesn’t do it, well, God knows he’s tried his best, and he’ll find one of the twinks in the corner after all.
But the man swallows and says, “All right.”
“All right?” says Bucky, momentarily startled, and then, “All right,” because the guy already looks like he's having second thoughts, and he swallows the last of his drink, shrugs his coat over his shoulders. When he brushes past the man on his way towards the door, he puts an extra sway in his step.
It’s a brisk night; November's cold is settling into the air. Bucky lets the man lead the way - he seems the type to want to. God, he’s got to be half again Bucky’s size.
“Surprised I’ve never seen you around before now, though,” he says. “You new in town?”
“No,” says not-Scott, and makes a face. “Yes. I just got in this week. I used to live in Brooklyn, though. When I was young.”
“No shit,” says Bucky. “Flatbush? Brighton Beach?”
“Red Hook,” says the man. “Not far from the water.” He sounds strange as he says it - wistful, guilty again.
“No shit,” says Bucky, abruptly interested. “When’d you leave?”
“When the war started,” says the man. In the shifting pattern of the streetlights, his face looks far away.
Bucky eyes him. “You woulda been, what, seven in ‘14? Eight?”
The faraway look shatters. “Sure,” says the man. “About that old.”
He’s lying, but Bucky doesn’t know about what, or why, and he isn’t inclined to press it, any more than he’s inclined to press for the guy’s real name. “Okay,” he says, “well, you must’ve known Morris, Morris who ran the kosher deli. Big fella, size of a house.”
Not-Scott’s face splits in a grin. “Moe? Moe Scherpinsky?”
“Yeah, Moe Scherpinsky,” says Bucky, and grins back. “Used to threaten us with cleavers, said if he caught us hanging around trying to swipe salami one more time-“
“-he’d cut our toes off,” says the guy, and laughs, long and loud. “Yeah, I knew Moe.”
“What about,” Bucky says, casts around, “Nellie Montgomery? She came up from Georgia in nineteen-eleven, nineteen-twelve, you might’ve known her-“
“Sure I knew her,” the guy says, grinning. “She used to bake with my mother. Gave me buns at Christmas.”
“Funny,” says Bucky, “she used to do the same thing for a friend of mine.”
The man’s grin stays put, but the light in his eyes fades. “Funny,” he says. “Funny thing.”
They walk in silence for a while. The man’s leading them west, towards the river - Bucky can hear the water, lapping faintly at the banks.
“So where do you live now?” he says.
The man shrugs, staring ahead. “All over. Washington, for a while. Then upstate. Then - well, I’ve been traveling. Europe. Sokov - the Soviet Union. Africa.”
Bucky eyes him, suddenly suspicious. The man had read like the rest of Floyd’s crowd - butch, sure, but plenty of the men there are butch. Hell, Bucky’s butch, when you don’t put him next to a guy like Scott. But Washington says G-man, and traveling says G-man, too - who the hell’s from Red Hook who’s been to Africa? Who the hell goes to Russia these days at all?
But if the guy’s been to Berlin and Russia for Uncle Sam, they can't be sending him out to catch pansies on Christopher Street. Besides, Floyd always pays up on time. Bucky rolls his lip between his teeth.
“And what’re you in New York for?” he says.
“Business trip,” says the man.
“Must be a nice business,” Bucky says, casually, “sending you all over like that.”
The man makes a face. “Not so nice.”
"No?" says Bucky. "You a sales guy? Journalist?" Cop?
A brief pause. The man says, "Jewelry. I'm here looking for a certain stone."
Oh, he’s mob. Bucky relaxes. He's been to Europe - sure. Dublin, Belfast. Sicily, maybe. Well, even mobsters have to get their rocks off somehow. Christ, no wonder he’s so antsy about getting caught.
“Don’t suppose you meet a lot of other guys from Brooklyn out there,” he says.
The man smiles faintly. “One or two.”
“Yeah?” says Bucky. They’ve reached the water, where the shadows pool on the cement. Under the lapping of the river, he can hear the faint animal noises of other men, out in the dark. He leans back against the railing, looks up at the man from under his eyelashes again, grins slow. “Tell them I said hi.”
But the man doesn’t take the invitation. Instead, he puts his elbows on the railing, rests his chin on his hands. “A friend of mine says falcons live around here,” he says. “Peregrine falcons.”
“Yeah?” says Bucky. What the fuck, is this some kind of come-on?
“In the Verra - in one of the bridges,” says the man. “They like it up in the tall towers, he says. It reminds them of cliffs.”
“That’s neat,” says Bucky blankly.
The man shakes his head, his face half-hidden in shadows. “It doesn’t make sense to me,” he says. “All these animals that the city drives out, wolves and whales and eagles and beavers, all these animals that see the lights and the noise and the, the thing that used to be their world, and run away - and the falcons stay. Thrive. They make peace in their high places.”
Bucky stares at him. This doesn’t sound like a come-on.
The man looks away, the light sliding over his face. “I think he might have known you,” he says. “My friend from Brooklyn.”
“Really,” says Bucky, faintly impatient. “Small world.”
“He might have,” says the man, “but I don’t know if he'll say he does, if I ask him. I’m not sure.”
Bucky blinks, and then gets it. He says, gently, “Does he look anything like me?”
The man's face freezes. Bucky reaches out to him, touches his cheek, his shoulder, carefully meets his eyes. “Hey," he says. "It’s okay if he does. We’ve all been there, pal. There’s nothing wrong with it.”
A muscle in the man’s jaw jumps. He says, so quietly that Bucky can barely hear him, “A little.”
“Hey,” says Bucky. “You look a little bit like a friend of mine, too.”
The man’s eyes go wide, and then he buries his face in his hands. “Oh, God.”
“Not much,” says Bucky, grins at him. “Lose ten years and about a hundred pounds. You’re Irish, right?”
“Yeah,” the man says. Again, Bucky can’t quite read his expression - shock, sadness, fondness, want, guilt, guilt, guilt. “Yeah, I am.”
“Hey,” says Bucky, “what do you know, so am I,” and kisses him.
It’s nice, the beard. He’s used to stubble burn - even the prettiest girls have that, scrapes along his cheeks, turns his face pink and smarting. But this is easy, practically soft. He’d been right to think somebody is taking care of it.
The man is a hesitant kisser, as gentle with Bucky as Bucky’d been trying to be with him. He’d been wrong to think this man wanted him to play the dame; this guy won't take the lead in a dance, let alone toss Bucky over his shoulder. Bucky’s the one who gets a hand in his hair, maneuvers him against the railing; Bucky’s the one who presses their bodies together; Bucky’s the one who rocks his hips upwards, and feels the man’s hardness against his stomach.
He reaches down, and the man gasps, his hips stuttering. Bucky smiles, kisses under his chin. “I should ask,” he says, quiet. “You ever done this before?”
“Yes,” says the man, “yes, but-“
“-but not for a while,” says Bucky. “I get it. You’re doing great, you’re doing - oh, fuck,” because the man, with sudden initiative, has palmed Bucky’s dick through his pants. And God knows it’s been a while for Bucky, too - he tries to brace himself against the man, fails, ends up with his head buried in the man’s shoulder, gasping. Fuck, that’s good - the man’s hand is big and warm and just a little rough, just how Bucky likes it, exactly how Bucky likes it, and he can feel his own precome on his palm, getting it all slicker, faster, so fucking-
“Stop,” he says, “stop,” takes a step back. The man had been grinning; now the grin fades, and Bucky waves a hand. “No, Christ, that was - I want to blow you. Can I blow you?”
That wonderful blush again, pinking the man’s cheeks under the beard. “I - are you sure?”
“Am I sure,” says Bucky. “Jesus, what the hell kind of a question - yes, for God’s sake, let me suck your cock, you want me to say please?”
The man goes, if possible, pinker. “No,” he says, “no, that’s, uh - You can. If you want to. You can do that.”
“Thank God,” says Bucky fervently, and goes to his knees. It’s been a while since he did this, too, but it’s all coming back to him, easy as he could ask for: tongue, lips over teeth, and his mouth and hand together, the man’s cock hard and heavy. He can’t take the whole of him - too big - but the guy’s losing it anyway, breathing hard and cursing above him. Bucky’d forgotten how good he is at this. He’d forgotten how good this is.
He can feel the guy trying not to thrust into his face, but he can’t help himself at the end. Bucky takes it, only choking a little, and swallows down the come. When he gets up, brushing gravel off his pants, the man is breathing like he’s run a marathon. Which certainly doesn’t hurt Bucky’s ego any.
The man blinks his eyes open. Bucky has to look away; they’re bright with emotion, raw and open, more than he can look at, more than he can bear to see from a piece of trade on a Saturday night. “Can I finish you off?” he says.
“Yeah,” says Bucky, presses close into him. “Here, come on.”
Now it’s his turn to be pressed against the railing. The man is kissing him while he jerks him off, which is nice at first, until Bucky can’t keep up his end of things any more and has to pant against his face, his fingers digging into the man’s shoulder. It's just as good as it was before - astoundingly good, shockingly good, like the guy's been jerking Bucky off every weeknight for years, and Bucky's suddenly glad that he's not looking at the guy's face. “Fuck,” he says. “Oh, fuck,” and then, inevitably, awfully, disastrously, because some dumbfuck part of his heart can’t bear it, “oh, fuck, Steve-“
The man stops.
“Shit,” says Bucky. “Christ.” He tries to shove himself away, can’t quite get the leverage. “Fuck. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t,” says the man, clears his throat. “Don’t be sorry.”
Though he isn't looking at the guy, Bucky makes a face; the man must be able to feel it, because he shakes his head. “It’s - you said, earlier. It’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with it.”
A brief silence. The man says, “You can say it again.”
Bucky jerks his head back, stares at the guy. “Sorry?”
“You can,” says the man. And then his hand starts moving again, and it’s hot and slick and impossible not to push up into, and Bucky, half-disbelieving, says, “Steve-“
“Yeah,” says the man. “Yes.”
“Fuck,” says Bucky. “God, Steve, just like that. That’s so fucking - god, you’re so good, you’re so - Steve, I’ve wanted so-“
“I know,” says the man, “I know, come on,” and Bucky comes in pulses into his hand.
It’s a long few seconds before his vision clears. The man is digging in his jacket pockets; he pulls out a handful of coins, two subway tokens, and a sparkling green stone before coming up with a crumpled white handkerchief, which he wipes his hand on. When he looks up and sees Bucky watching him, he hastily tucks the stone back in his jacket, and Bucky jerks his gaze away. That's nothing he wants to get mixed up in.
“So,” he says. There's something hard and cold and unhappy in his stomach. He doesn't like it. “It was nice to meet you, Scott.”
“Yeah,” says the man. “You too.”
Bucky nods. “Maybe we’ll see each other later.”
Again, that swirl of emotions - but no guilt, this time, just fury, grief, and a brief and terrible softness. “I hope so,” he says. “I hope we will.”
When he’s about a block away, Bucky looks back at the man. He’s staring out at the river, hands in his pockets. High over the water, scraps of white are falling upwards into the darkness, tumbling on the wind. Birds of the city, swallowed by the sky.