Bucky took another sip off his glass, angrily dropping it down on the table again. Saying he was furious would be an understatement.
Alone on the table, he took out his phone, checking the time. It was still early to leave his best friend’s wedding, and too early to be as drunk as he was. But he couldn’t help it. He knew he shouldn’t have come, but he couldn’t say no to Steve. Not even when he asked him to be his best man. He had given the lamest speech ever, but since he was already tipsy and dragging his words, everybody found it funny. Good. He would have rather seen everybody laugh at him than pitying him. Because he was sure everybody under this same ceiling knew by now his feelings. Everyone but Steve.
Fuck stupid oblivious Steve.
He took another sip of his alcoholic drink (he had asked the bartender for his strongest shit, so he didn’t even know what he was drinking now), closing his eyes real hard when he chugged it down. All he wanted to know was forget this day ever happened. Or that his feelings existed. Whatever happened first. He was too focused on his glass to notice when his other best friend sat beside him.
“Dude, you gotta leave that. It’s not helping you at all.” Sam said, placing his hand on Bucky’s shoulder. Bucky nodded, not sure if Sam was talking about Steve or the alcohol.
“You know I can’t, Sam.” Again, he wasn’t sure if this was Steve or alcohol related.
Sam sighed. “Maybe you should go home. I can drive you if you want.”
“It’s Steve’s wedding.”
“James.” Sam pronounced. Great. Now therapist Sam had jumped out. “I’m looking out for you here.”
“I know. I just…” he groaned, rubbing his face. “Okay. Let’s go, yeah.”
Sam nodded, clapping Bucky’s shoulder and standing up. Bucky chugged down the rest of his drink, and stood up, struggling a little when the world started turning around him.
“Easy, man.” Sam said, passing his arm above his shoulder. “We don’t want you to lose an arm or something.” Bucky laughed, rolling his eyes.
They started walking out of the venue, when Bucky felt a grip on his forearm. Turning back, and making Sam do so too, they saw Steve looking at them with his brows clenched.
“Where are you going?”
“Mr. Barnes here got plastered… I’m dropping his drunk ass home and I’ll be back.”
“You’re leaving?” Steve said, looking at Bucky. He sounded almost hurt. Oh.
“Uh, I mean…”
“Bucky…” Sam said, using his therapist voice. Bucky knew that meant ‘behave’, but he also knew he wanted to burst into tears and tell Steve everything he had been keeping to himself for what felt life a hundred years.
“Sam.” Bucky said, trying to stand by himself. “Can you leave me and Steve for a minute?”
“Bucky, that’s not…”
Sam walked away from Bucky, still trying to help him stand, and nodding. Ten seconds later, he was gone.
Bucky was still on the same spot, looking at his best friend right into his baby blues, and it felt like his heart was going to explode.
“Can we… go outside for a while?” Bucky asked. Steve nodded, and offered him help walking, but Bucky shook his head. He didn’t need Steve’s pity, and he knew he was going to get waves of that once he said all he had to say.
They wandered around the gardens surrounding the venue for a while, until Steve grew tired of it, and stopped, holding Bucky by the shoulders.
“Buck. What’s going on?”
Bucky looked at Steve again. He looked at him up and down. From his spiky blondish hair, through his blue eyes, which shined with the moonlight, and his perfect pink lips, which he wished he could kiss right now, his sharp jaw, and his broad shoulders, with his suit fitting oh so perfectly around them. His tie, a little loose and matching with the exact tone of his baby blues’, which he knew Peggy had personally chosen. His white shirt, through which Bucky could feel the shape of his abs, and his waist, which with he had fantasized so many times, and the pants that made were hugging his thighs, down until his shoes.
“I… wanted to read my speech.” Bucky said, looking up again into Steve’s eyes. And he felt like he was drowning on them.
“You already read that, Buck.” Bucky shook his head.
“No. I read one. But that was not what I wanted to say.”
Steve knitted his eyebrows together.
“What are you talking about?”
Bucky chuckled, freeing himself from Steve’s grasp on his shoulders. He took a few steps back, resting himself on a tree. Steve looked at him. The brunette took a cigarette, putting it on his mouth and lightning it up. When he put the lighter back on his pocket, he took some sheets of paper out of it too. He took a last glance to Steve, unfolding the papers, and cleared his throat.
“I met Steve Rogers when I was 6. He was 5 at the time, but he was so tiny I thought he was my sister’s age. And she had been born just one month earlier.” Steve rolled his eyes so hard that Bucky almost heard it. He smiled, and then continued. “He had just started school, and I was on my first day of second grade. It was playtime, and we were all on the playground, because it was too hot to stay on the classrooms. All my boy friends had started to play this stupid game where they’d chase the girls they found pretty around the whole playground, because Alexander Pierce’s 8-year-old brother had told him that if you fancied a girl you have to be mean to them so they would like yo back. Alexander Pierce’s brother was an asshole, and so was him. Anyway, I thought that game was stupid, so I was playing houses with my friend Dolores, whom I called Dot. That’s not really important, it’s just that you never remembered her actual name, so I have to remind you every time. I was the father, and she was the mother, and her new doll was out little daughter, and we were so proud of her because she was graduating that day. Suddenly, I heard a cry not really far from us, so I took my role as a father real serious and went check what was happening. When I arrived, I saw my classmate Brock Rumlow, and some other assholes all surrounding 5-year-old-just-out-of-womb Steve Rogers, and, since my new wife was watching, I decided to man up and told Brock to leave the guy alone and go chase those stupid girls he was chasing. Not that I found them stupid, they were all pretty smarter than me.” Steve chuckled at the comment, and Bucky decided to keep going. “I introduced myself and Dot to Steve, and he did the same with himself. We asked him to play with us, but Dot said that she didn’t want to be the mom anymore, and suddenly I found myself with a new husband and two daughters. I didn’t know back then, but I would fantasize with that kind of family a few years later.” he glanced at Steve, who didn’t say anything. Well, Steve knew he was gay. He just didn’t know he was really gay for him. “Ever since that day, Steve and I became the best of friends. We discovered that we lived nearby, so we made our mothers meet and they became friends too, making it easier for us to meet more. All the neighborhood said that we were joined by the hip. And it was true. For me, Steve was family. And so was Sarah. I swear I loved Sarah more than I loved some of my aunts. Specially the one with the bangs and the four husbands. It was a hard hit for all of us when she left us.” Steve looked down to his shoes, and Bucky continued, to take the sadness away as soon as possible. “But I remember one thing she told us once, when we were having dinner at her house on one of our private slumber parties, back when we were only 8 years old. ‘Never forget to be who you are, no matter who or what tries to stop you to do so.’ And so did I. Right after the funeral, I decided to come out to my family. I was 17, at the time. Steve was only 15. A few days later, I came out to Steve. I will always remember his face when I told him. He widened his eyes as big as the moon, almost, and started to ask me a lot of questions. Only one really hit me. ‘Since when do you know?’ I never replied to that question. Not because I didn’t know, but because I didn’t want to accept it. Ten years later, Steve, I’ll answer you. Ever since I met you, and Dot’s doll made us husband and husband.” Steve knitted his eyebrows together, and took a step on Bucky’s direction, opening his mouth to talk, but the brunette kept going. “I also dropped out of school that year, because Sarah had told me to be who I wanted to, and I didn’t want to be someone who would study a degree he didn’t like and end up working on a job he didn’t like. I became a football trainer for my sister’s school the next fall. Steve started Art School that same fall. We both were finally doing something we liked, and I could see Steve was starting to feel better. He also met Peggy that year, a little before Christmas. At first, I didn’t like it, I was jealous. I wanted Steve to finally understand that I loved him, and I wanted him to love me back, even though I knew that would never happen, because Steve was straight and had a girlfriend. The next spring, puberty finally hit Steve, and he became taller than me, his asthma was gone and he started to exercise, making him the man he is today. And even though I was happy that he was finally feeling good on his own body, I was feeling awful, because I wanted him too, but he was just Peggy’s. I thought Peggy wouldn’t stick around much time, but look where we are now. It’s been almost ten years since Margaret Carter appeared on our lives, and it’s never been a day that I haven’t felt miserable. It hasn’t been a day that I haven’t felt like it wasn’t fair, that I haven’t felt that should be me, that I haven’t felt like it was unfair, because I loved him first.” Bucky was staring to struggle to talk, since he was on the edge of crying, and his eyes were watery. “And I know I shouldn’t be complaining, that I should be feeling glad that I’m on his life, even as his best friend, but I just can’t stop thinking… ‘What if?’” he felt a hand on his forearm, and right there he noticed that he was shaking. He took Steve’s hand away, and continued reading the last sheet of his speech. “I’m glad that I got to be a part of Steve Roger’s life. I’m glad I got to see him grow, change, and mature. I’m glad that he chose me as his best friend, or his brother, or whatever he thinks we are. I just wished… it hadn’t been this way for me. And if he doesn’t want this anymore, it’s okay. I wish you a happy marriage, Steve, and a happy life.” he released a long sigh, and folded the papers again, finally letting the tears down his cheeks.
He felt two big arms around him, dragging him against a hard body, and he hugged him back, sobbing and letting everything go.
“Buck… Why didn’t you tell me?” the blonde said, running his hand all over the former’s back
“What would have that fixed, huh? Would you suddenly have become gay and started loving me back?” Steve, for once on his life, stood silent. “I thought so.”
“I just… You never… I didn’t know.”
“Of course you didn’t. I tried to make it the least obvious possible.”
“I… don’t know what to say, Bucky.”
“You don’t have to say anything, Steve. You married her for a reason.” he said, releasing himself from Steve’s grip and taking a few steps back, putting a little distance between them. “It’s okay. It’s been 21 years. I can do another few more.” Steve looked down to his shoes, not knowing what else to do. Bucky sniffed, rubbing the tears away from his face. “I’ll go look for Sam… I should head home. Enjoy the rest of the party, and your honeymoon, okay?” Steve looked at him, smiling sadly and nodding. “Hey, don’t make it awkward. It’s the same. Don’t blow your own wedding because of me.” Bucky tried to joke. Since Steve didn’t reply, he went inside the venue again. Sam was right on the first table, shaking his leg nervously.
“Hey.” Bucky said. Sam looked up.
“Did you tell him?” Bucky nodded, and Sam stood up, hugging him. Bucky laughed.
“It’s okay. Let’s go home. I’m going to have the biggest of hangovers tomorrow. I hope I forget all of this shit…”
But Bucky didn’t forget, and neither did Steve. When the latter came back from his honeymoon, he tried to talk to Bucky about it, but the brunette said it was all water under the bridge. No matter how hard Steve tried, Bucky always found an excuse.
Steve eventually dropped the issue, and Bucky and him went back to his old life, never talking about it again. A few years later, Bucky found someone, too, and Steve was as happy as he was relieved.
But the ache of his own secret burned on his chest too. He was the one that had loved Bucky first, too.