The clinic was bustling as Bucky Barnes entered, looking around and gathering his wits. This was not something he particularly enjoyed but it was one of the ways he could help others. And if he’d told his students he was going to do it...well he better show up the next day with the bandage to prove he’d gone through on his word.
Somehow his last class of the day had taken a turn and off topic conversation carried them here: a blood drive. This was one of the many ways a person could help their community and beyond. How many people would actually give, Bucky had challenged. He’d promised he would. And now here he was, standing awkwardly at the desk as a receptionist worked to hand out clipboards and nurses scurried from one patient to the next.
Never having done this before, he wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. He had tattoos; it wasn’t a fear of needles. He was squeamish about blood if he was honest. Which he hadn’t been with his students.
The friendly receptionist, an older woman with gray hair who reminded him of his grandmother, gave him a clipboard and he sat in a folding chair to fill it out. He was stumped four questions in; he didn’t know his blood type. Was that something he should know? Chewing his lip the receptionist seemed to know his dilemma as she spoke.
He chuckled nervously, “Well...yes,” he answered honestly. She smiled warmly.
“Don’t worry, Dr. Rogers will set you up and you’ll hardly feel a thing. He’ll type your blood at the end. Leave that question blank,” she instructed as glanced over her shoulder and then waved him up. “Just sign the bottom and follow me.”
Bucky scribbled his signature and stood, following her back to a reclining chair. He had to admit, his nervous were getting the best of him but he was determined to follow through. He’d about psyched himself into it when a man approached, clad in a white lab coat with the clear M.D. written across the front right in black stitching.
“Dr. Rogers, this is-“ she referenced the form before grinning, “Bucky Barnes. It’s his first time,” she explained as she handed the doctor his clipboard.
Dr. Rogers was about six inches shorter than Bucky was himself, maybe more but that didn’t matter. He had striking blue eyes and defined cheekbones and Bucky was struck by the depth those eyes held. His smile was warm with just the hint of snark as he spoke, “Ah, thanks Regina. Some fresh blood, huh?”
Bucky's cheeks went pink and his heart pounded a little erratically. “I uh, challenged my seniors in US History to donate. I, of course, had to follow through,” he wasn’t really sure why he told the story, something about the handsome slender blonde man was making him even more nervous. Why were doctors always so damn attractive?
Dr. Rogers nodded as he marked a few things on the clipboard, grinning as he raised his head to find Bucky’s eyes. “I heard about that; we had three of your students an hour ago. I wrote them each a note so you’d have proof they did it. You drive a hard bargain. Guess I’ll have to write you one too, huh?” He was smirking now as he set down the clipboard and Bucky found himself feeling very vulnerable in the chair as Dr. Rogers started gathering items onto a tray beside him.
Bucky laughed a little, “Yeah, if you don’t mind,” he stretched out his right arm, rolling up the sleeve of his button down past the elbow. The Army Special Forces insignia was tattooed into his forearm and Dr. Rogers seemed to pause as he saw it, fingers stalling as he reached out to touch Bucky.
“Military?” He asked as he continued his movements, probing a few veins on Bucky’s arm. “Clench your fist,” he murmured as he peered up at Bucky curiously. Bucky followed orders and did so before replying.
“Yep. Special Forces,” he replied as Dr. Rogers picked one that plumped upon Bucky’s fist being squeezed. “You?” Bucky found himself asking for not reason in particular other than conversation. His cheeks grew hot as he waited for the reply.
Dr. Rogers swiped an alcohol swab along the vein after tying a tourniquet with expert ease. His own cheeks grew pink. “Oh no, unfortunately I was never well enough for that. Asthma and all,” he explained with a shrug, “Didn’t stop me from trying to enlist several times before med school but they kept turning me away. Figured I could be of use elsewhere. I volunteer here, I work for the VA,” he explained, almost shyly, as he prepped the needle and tubing.
Bucky was surprised they hadn’t met. He frequented the VA for therapy, both mental and physical. “Really? Brooklyn Campus or…?”
“Yep. My specialty is women’s health and obstetrics,” so that made sense why Bucky had never met him before.
“Now I know why we haven’t met,” Bucky chuckled a little and watched Steve blush so pretty, “I lost from the knee down on my last tour, five years ago. I have spent a lot of time there, orthopedics and ya know..,” he gestured to his head with a wave of his hand but Steve wasn’t deterred it seemed. Bucky hardly felt the prick of the needle, far too distracted by the doctor tending to him.
“Oh,” Steve murmured with what could only be described as empathy, “It’s damn important to take care of yourself after something like that. I’ve seen too many cases where they didn’t and...well you know,” he drifted off as he tapped the needle and tube down, watching as the blood flowed well into the bag. He idled though, didn’t run off to help someone else. Bucky nodded, catching Dr. Rogers’ eyes once more. “I respect you for takin’ care of yourself.”
“Thanks,” Bucky was surprised he didn’t ask about the leg or anything further, and decided to follow up with, “But you get to deliver babies for a living. That’s got to be a cool job.” Bucky was absolutely sure he could never ever do that, but hearing a baby’s cry for the first time had to be surreal.
The doctor smiled sweet and fond and Bucky knew it then for sure--he was attracted to this man. “It’s a very gratifying job. I love every part of it,” there was no question he meant it as he spoke, “I love my job. But I also love my volunteer work, hence-,” he gestured around and Bucky grinned, despite the sudden queasiness in his stomach as the blood flowed from his body. He caught sight of the bag as Steve stepped away to grab Bucky a cup of water and he suddenly remembered why he did not do this.
“Hey, uh, Dr. Ro—,” Bucky began, laying his head back against the cushion. Dr. Rogers turned back and Bucky watched the smile fade from his face as concern took over.
“Mr. Barnes, are you feeling okay? You’re looking awful pale,” he began, stepping closer and checking the blood flow and the needle placement. He was about half done, which was certainly faster than normal. “Mr. Barnes, how do you feel about the sight of blood?” He asked gently. Bucky groaned a little.
“Not great,” he admittedly, feeling light headed as he closed his eyes.
“That’s something you definitely should have told me before we started,” the doctor replied ruefully, albeit in a calming tone. Bucky felt nauseous and far too hot.
“It didn’t come up in conversation. And I liked...our conversation,” Bucky confessed brokenly, spots swimming behind his eyelids. He could hear Dr. Rogers saying something and then suddenly...nothing.
He awoke to wet clothes pressed to his head and neck, the sound of talking and the familiar doctor in his line of sight. He blinked rapidly, trying to remember where he was and what was happening. It felt a little bit like waking up after surgery all those years ago, and he panicked, struggling to sit up.
“Easy, easy Mr. Barnes,” the familiar voice settled him somewhat but Bucky struggled until he caught sight again of the handsome doctor who was reaching out to push him down. Bucky could have easily overpowered him but he chose to listen, falling back against the chair.
“Bucky,” he mumbled, not even sure why he corrected him. A flicker of a smile crossed the doctor’s face.
“Bucky,” he corrected, “You’ve been out cold for about five minutes so I need you to just lay still and relax for a few. Do you remember where you are?” The doctor, Dr. Rogers he remembered now, had his hands on Bucky’s shoulders and Bucky didn’t mind it at all surprisingly.
He nodded, awareness coming back to him as he fully opened his eyes and looked around. “I do. Blood drive. You and I...were talking. Is it over?” He glanced down at his arm and up at the now empty bag. Dr. Rogers nodded with a wry smile.
“I’d say you’re definitely finished giving blood for a while,” he assured Bucky, handing him a cup of water. His smile was so kind. It made Bucky feel small waves within his stomach. He hoped it wasn’t residual nausea.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mention it,” he began, his left hand fussing with the bottom of the paper cup.
“Water under the bridge,” the doctor waved him off and picked up a blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope. “Mind if I check your vitals real quick though? Can’t have you passing out again or having a heart attack on me,” He gave Bucky a semi-silly smile and Bucky couldn’t help but smile back.
“Thanks Doc,” Bucky replied easily. The man’s cheeks flushed.
“It’s Steve. Call me Steve,” he added quietly.
Bucky definitely liked this doctor, even though he was sure he’d never see him again.
His bed was cozy as he settled into it. The small apartment was all Bucky needed, a studio in Brooklyn not far from where he grew up. He felt more tired than usual, and that was saying something. He was sure the whole blood drive thing had to do with it.
Just thinking about it put a strange pit in his stomach.
That doctor had been adorable. Kind and sweet, handsome as hell. Bucky found himself usually attracted to the muscular, tall type but this guy...something about him, maybe it was how he smiled or just the way he spoke had stuck with Bucky. He’d been thinking about him since he’d left.
But the embarrassment and humiliation stayed at the forefront of his experience and that alone would prevent him from ever seeking the guy out again. It would be one of those brief moments in time he’d reflect back on with fondness. Besides, that doctor was far out of his league. He was a war vet, an amputee, and a high school history teacher. That guy was a doctor .
He could dream but there was no reality to that match.
Bucky grabbed the bottle of water off the night stand as he flipped on the television. Maybe he wouldn’t see him again, but he was still following all the rules. Drinking water, he’d had a good dinner, he was taking it easy...he could be a good listener. Sometimes.
Just as he settled on ESPN his phone started buzzing on the nightstand. Catching the clock it was almost nine. No one called that late. He didn’t recognize the number but he answer anyway, mostly out of curiosity and nerves. What if something was wrong with his sister or ma?
“ Hi...um is this Bucky?”
Bucky knew that voice because he’d just be near the man who owned it a few hours ago. “Dr. Rogers?”
The man chuckled, “ Hi. Yeah, it’s me. I uh was just calling to check on you, after everything,” he went on to explain, “I wanted to make sure you made it home okay, no more fainting spells.”
Bucky’s cheeks felt hot as he replied, an embarrassed smile on his face. “I did. Thanks for checking. I didn’t realize the blood drive cared so much,” he meant it as a compliment but the man on the other end laughed a little again.
“ Well, it’s not really protocol, I just…”
“ I’m sorry that happened,” Bucky cut in quickly, “I’m pretty damn embarrassed about it to be honest. Thanks again for taking care of me.” Somehow saying it over the telephone line made it easier.
“ Hey, it’s okay pal. Really. It happens more than you’d think. I’m just glad I was there to make sure you were okay.”
Bucky could hear the sincerity in the man’s voice and wondered briefly if that was how he spoke to all his patients. Shut up Barnes.
“I uh,” the man continued, pulling Bucky from his thoughts, “ I was wondering...and please know this is not protocol and I probably shouldn’t even be asking this now but no ever said I wasn’t a dumbass so I was wondering if you’d want to get coffee sometime. Soon maybe. Coffee soon. With me.”
It caught Bucky off guard and he stared ahead at the muted television for a moment. The adorable doctor wanted to have coffee with him ?!
He tuned back in to hear a hurried “— don’t feel pressured or anything, it’s totally okay if you don’t want to I just—“
“ Yes!” Bucky interrupted, his heart pounding in a way it had not for a long long time. “Yes. I’d really like to get coffee with you, Steve,” he figured the first name was more appropriate now, though something about Steve being a doctor made his belly flip flop in the good way. “Soon,” he added because absolutely he wanted it soon.
He could hear the smile in the man’s voice as he replied, “ How’s Friday? Around 6pm?”
“Perfect.” He would be out of work and showered and ready. Easy. He already couldn’t wait. “I’m so glad you called, Steve. I really am.”
“ Thanks, me too ,” Steve replied and the smile was still evident, “ Make sure you keep drinking water, ” he said it without that doctor tone and Bucky laughed. Oh this guy…
“Don’t worry, Doc. You made a good impression. I’m actually listening for once.”
“ I’ll see you on Friday, Bucky .”
They exchanged their goodbyes and Bucky settled back against the headboard. He also realized they didn’t pick a place. He’d have to text Steve tomorrow. Huh. Another reason to talk to him. Something tightened in his chest and he realized it was excitement. This was a very good thing, he realized. It was time to try something new. He couldn’t wait.