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Bucky, as a rule, doesn't like working the holidays.


There are too many people around, for one. On the street, on the sidewalk, in the parks. In this day and age, with so many weird threats -- hailing from Earth and... like... space and shit -- it just makes occasions like Independence Day great, blaring targets for douchebags and jerks.


Bucky is allergic to jerks.


Bucky unleashes his best cop glare on some idiot crossing the street in a stars and stripes tank top who bumps into him, nearly spilling fresh coffee all over the front of his uniform. He receives a sheepish wave and a 'Sorry, Officer' for his trouble.


"Shouldn't be wearing the flag as clothing, anyway," Bucky mutters under his breath as he slides into his patrol car.


It's just after eleven, Bucky's got a bagel and coffee, and it's time to head out. His ten hour shift officially starts at eleven-thirty, when he arrives at the 88th precinct in Clinton Hill to pick up his partner. Then they'll head down to Prospect Park together -- which is absolutely full of people -- to take over from some of his fellow officers as crowd control and general peace-keeping.


Behind the wheel of the patrol car, Bucky checks his mirrors and is just about to pull out into the street when a motorcycle comes flying past, doing well over the speed limit.


Bucky shoves the bagel half in his mouth, biting out 'oh Hell no,' around it -- which sounds absolutely nothing like those words -- turns on the lights and sirens, and begins to follow.


It takes a few moments for the unhelmeted rider to flick a couple of quick glances around and realise he's the one being asked to pull over. He slows down significantly, before using his blinker to pull over at a safe spot at the kerb, even setting the kick stand down on his bike.


Bucky harrumphs in grudging appreciation and double-parks behind the guy. "Every fuckin' fourth of July," he grumbles, grabbing his hat off the passenger seat and wedging it on his head. Bucky gets out of his car and checks he has everything in order before approaching, paying particular attention to the man's body language, looking for any sign of trouble.


Now Bucky is the first to admit, he's not prone to getting distracted on the job, but there are already a few things at play, here. One is the fact that he's internally whining that his shift hasn't even started and already the fucksticks are out in force. Second is that the dude on the bike is big. Like, wide shoulders, probably at least six foot tall. And that's nice, he guesses, but it leads him to wonder if Tall, Fair and Speeding is going to give him issues.


But the engine is off and the guy is sitting with his hands clearly visible. Bucky's hands move away from his pepper spray and towards the ticket book in the front pocket of his shirt.


The offender is sitting there with his head hanging down a little, sneaking glances at his watch. He's got somewhere to be, clearly.


Bucky pastes a thin smile on his face. "How's it going, sir?"


The guy has a strong jaw in profile, the muscles twitching a little beneath his cheek. He looks familiar, but Bucky can't quite place it.


"Fine, thank you--" the dude flicks a quick glance to the chevrons on Bucky's arm, "--Sergeant."


"Got somewhere to be, I guess," Bucky drawls, and he shouldn't enjoy doing this, but he fuckin' does a little.


"I do, yes," he answers reasonably politely, voice a smooth baritone. "Don't want to be late."


"I'll bet," Bucky smarms back, cocking his hip to the side. "Did you happen to be aware of your speed?"


The guy flicks him a quick glance and wow, blue eyes. "I'm afraid I wasn't really looking properly, Officer."


Ahh, the ol' admission of guilt. Or at least, admission of inattention. Doesn't matter how hot you are, that'll always get you in the end.


And yeah, the guy's hot. Bucky's started to notice.


"License and registration, please," Bucky asks with something of a weariness to his tone.


"Um... no?"


Bucky arches one eyebrow. "Was that a question?"


"No." Hot guy's cheeks are starting to go pink. "But I still have to say 'no'."


There's lots of things that offenders on traffic stops can refuse, but showing their details is not one of them. "'No' because you don't want to, or 'no' because you don't have any?"


"The second one?" He winces, and looks unfairly adorable. And familiar, damnit. Maybe he's an actor, the good Lord knows NYC is teeming with them.


Bucky sighs. "Driving without a license is a misdemeanour offence under Section 509 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Code. I could issue you with a fine, or jail time, or both. Add to the fact that it's illegal in the state of New York to ride a motorcycle without a helmet."


The dude's shoulders hunch up rest somewhere around his ears. "Sam is going to kill me," he mumbles under his breath, looking at his watch. Louder, he turns his entire upper body to Bucky and says: "I'm in the wrong, Sergeant. Whatever you think is best, I'll go along with."


Bucky looks at him. And looks at him. And looks at him some more. He's not sure what his face is doing, but it's making the guy look a little more alarmed. Well, tough shit.


Without breaking eye contact with the man he flips his ticket book open, pen poised. "Name." Because yeah, he's going to have to hear this now. His brain is telling him something really fucking stupid, and he'd like to disprove it.


"Steven Rogers," says Hot Guy, aka Steve Rogers, aka Captain Fucking America.


"Date of birth," Bucky continues somewhat calmly, although his voice is a quarter octave higher than it should be.


Captain Ame-- Rogers' cheeks go redder. "Uh. July four, nineteen-eighteen."


Bucky lets out a little strangled sound.


He has pulled over Captain Fucking America on Independence Day, which so happens to double as his birthday. He was probably rushing off to headline a parade or punch Nazis or some shit.


A bald eagle is going to fucking shit on Bucky's head, he just knows it.


"I should have a license," Rogers says sheepishly, giving him the soulful blue eyes treatment, "I have been meaning to get one, I just keep putting it off. And then when I think about it, the DMV is closed."


"That and I guess you're out catching assholes and stopping aliens," Bucky says without thinking.


That earns him a small smile that looks like the sun peeking over the horizon, or a new litter of puppies, or a perfect daffodil. Fuck his life. "Same as you, right?"


Ohhh he's done. Bucky snaps his ticket book shut quickly. "Okay. So you're clearly--"




"--you," Bucky waves his hand vaguely, "and you're probably on your way to somewhere important--"


"To Prospect Park," Rogers supplies helpfully. "I've got this veterans' lunch event, and some disadvantaged children meet-and-greets, before setting off some fireworks at ten tonight?" His cheeks get pink again. "I'm sort of the guest of honour."


Because of course.


Bucky presses his lips together and stands at his full height. "O-kay. Well, seeing as it's... a holiday, I'm going to let you off with a warning this time."


Rogers startles him by exclaiming 'No!'. He goes on to explain: "I really think you should at least give me a fine. I'm the one that fucked up--"



and it will be a good reminder for me to go to the DMV." He smiles a little, and why wasn't it ever mentioned that Captain America's left cheek dimpled slightly? "Who knows? It might be fun."


Bucky shakes his head. "Pal, nobody has fun at the DMV, not even the cars."


It's a fucking shitty joke, but Rogers laughs anyway. Bucky laughs a little with him, and he doesn't feel quite so strange about the situation anymore. The traffic ticket book makes an appearance again, and Bucky flips to the blank page. He starts filling out the violation information and gets to write down Rogers' phone number, amongst other bits and pieces of information.


Not that he would ever use the number. Because wouldn't that be a major breach of ethics.


The way that he feels Rogers' eyes on him as he writes, though...


Bucky clears his throat and finishes the ticket with his name and badge information. Everything's done save for the amount of the fine. The minimum is seventy-five dollars, and Bucky almost writes that, except he gives Rogers a discerning look, who responds with a curious expression.


"What?" he asks guilelessly.


Bucky taps the birth-date with his pen. "Nineteen-eighteen, huh?"


"That's right."


Bucky writes '100' in the fine amount field on the ticket. "I figure you can afford one buck for every year, right?"


Rogers gives him a grin; bigger than the last one, and his dark lashes flutter down. Bucky wants to punch something. "Yeah, I can."


Bucky points his chin towards the motorcycle. "Can you lock that thing up somewhere safe? I can't let you drive off without a license."


"Oh. Oh, sure," Steve says and gets up, and damn. He's maybe an inch taller than Bucky, and all of him looks like perfectly sculpted muscle. "I'm going to have to call for a ride," he mumbles to himself.


It's the perfect response, really. "I can take you to Prospect," Bucky offers. "Just have to detour by the 88th to pick up my partner." He raises an eyebrow. "Will that make you too late for where you need to be?"


Steve shakes his head emphatically. "I'll tell Sam to stall. It'll be fine."


"All right, then," Bucky says. "Lock up and jump in."


Steve wheels his bike into the alley and makes sure it's unobtrusive and secure, while Bucky sits back into his car and makes sure the passenger seat is clear. He takes off his hat and rubs his forehead. Because how did he become Captain America's personal escort to Independence Day festivities?


Rogers slides into the passenger seat and gives him a big smile. Bucky wants to smile back and also shoot himself in the face. He can want both things. He settles for a polite nod, a hand raked through his hair, and they head towards the 88th.


It's a pleasant ride, and after Rogers calls his friend, Sam, they amicably chat along the way. If anything, the ride seems too short, because before Bucky knows it, they're at the 88th. Torres is waiting outside for him, frowning at his tardiness.


"You're going to have to jump into the back," Bucky murmurs, and Rogers looks surprised for a moment, before stepping out of the front seat and relocating to the back middle.


Torres walks over curiously, and unlike Bucky, identifies Rogers immediately. She gives Bucky a seriously suspicious look. "Did you arrest Captain America on Independence Day, Barnes?"


Both Bucky's and Rogers' cheeks go red. "No. I did issue him a fine for speeding, though," Bucky says with all the dignity he can muster, "and we're now giving him a ride to Prospect."


Torres takes lingering looks at the both of them -- and Rogers gives her a sheepish wave -- before bursting into laughter. She doesn't stop for twelve blocks. By this time Bucky and Rogers have joined in, because it's impossible not to by now.


"...You nearly arrested... Captain America... on his birthday..." Torres wheezes, and Bucky shakes his head.


"You're making this sound way worse than it actually is," Bucky gripes.


"To be fair, I really was speeding without a license," Rogers cuts in.


"Yeah, I'd probably not broadcast that too loud to any other cops," Torres suggests with a smile, "Bucky went easy on you."


"'Bucky'?" Rogers asks, curiosity piqued.


"Nickname, don't worry about it," Bucky dismisses.


They make it to Prospect almost on twelve. The officers they're to replace look mildly harried and annoyed, until they see Rogers exit the car with them. Suddenly there are a lot more smiles to be had. Torres goes over to talk with them, very obviously leaving Bucky alone with Rogers.


"Thanks for your understanding," the blond says sincerely. "I know you could've imposed a bigger fine, or even something worse. I appreciate it." Bucky tears his eyes away from Rogers'. He takes out his ticket book again and flips the page to the unissued fine. He scribbles a terrible drawing of a box present next to his signature and tears off the top part of the ticket. "Happy Birthday, Captain," he says with a flourish and hands it to Rogers. "Try not to speed anymore, and get your goddamn license and a helmet."


Rogers looks down at the piece of paper with amusement as he starts to back into the park. "Will do, Sergeant--" his eyes search the paper for a moment, "--Barnes."


Bucky lifts one shoulder in a shrug. Might as well. "Call me 'Bucky'," he offers, and Rogers grins.


"Steve!" Rogers responds, and gives a wave before jogging into the park amidst the other Independence Day merry-makers.


Bucky watches him -- Steve -- go, and presently, Torres rejoins him. She opens her mouth but Bucky cuts her off. "Not even one word."



The rest of his shift is not nearly as exciting. Lost children, some illegal fireworks (sparklers, really, but they still count), and a few D&D's. Nothing a sobering up at the local station won't cure. Lots of clothes with the stars and stripes on them to annoy him. It's not a law that's enforced, it's just disrespectful, man.


Finally, finally, nine o'clock hits. Some more officers come to relieve him and Torres. It's time to head back to the precinct and then go home. Sure, they'll miss out on the fireworks, but Bucky's remarkably okay with that.


They're walking through the park to meet with their replacements, when someone yells Bucky's name. He looks around to spot Steve running towards him. Bucky's eyebrows approach his hairline as Steve comes to stand directly opposite. There's one lock of hair on his forehead that Bucky is finding it hard not to brush away.


"I'll wait at the car," Torres states to nobody in particular. She squeezes Bucky's elbow and walks away, leaving them alone. Again.


Well, alone as they can be in a park full of people.


"You're not staying for the fireworks?" Steve asks, after a moment.


"Shift's over," Bucky tells him, "got to head back to the 88th and then I'm on my way home."


"Oh." Steve chews on his bottom lip and it's unfairly distracting. He reaches into the inner pocket of his leather jacket and pulls out his carbon copy of the traffic ticket in Bucky's handwriting. Unfolding it, he points to the phone number on the top left. "I figured I'd tell you that you could use that number to give me a call sometime. You know. If you wanted to... do something?"


Bucky blinks once, twice, three times. "Yes? I mean, yeah. I could do that." His voice gets more confident as a slow smile blooms on Steve's face. "I couldn't have if you didn't give me permission."


"Well, I am," Steve returns. "Glad I ran into you again to give it."


Bucky nods abruptly. He has his own copy of the traffic fine, he'll just have to remember to copy Steve's number before he files it away. "Okay, well... I'll call you, then. Maybe," Bucky winces, wondering if it's too soon, "tomorrow? If you're not busy?"


Apparently not, because Steve nods enthusiastically. "Tomorrow would be great."


That's a promising response. He gives it a little thought, and arches an eyebrow. "Out of curiosity, what would you have done if you hadn't run into me, Steve?"


Steve gives an affable shrug and gestures to the ticket again. "You had your badge number on there, and I knew the precinct. I would've called the 88th and asked to speak with you."


Bucky whistles, impressed. "That's pretty good."


"Thanks," Steve grins. He looks over his shoulder to see a man waving impatiently at him. Steve shoves the paper back in his pocket and starts backing off. "Hey, so I have to go... call me?"


"Yeah, definitely," Bucky nods. Steve lights up the night sky with his smile better than any fireworks display and waves to Bucky, all the while walking backwards towards his destination. Bucky waves back, shaking his head in a mystified fashion when he finally loses sight of Captain America.


Maybe working the holidays isn't so bad after all.