Kitten claws were very sharp, and very curved, and Bucky’s well worn FDNY shirt offered up absolutely no resistance to the weapons that the blue eyed ball of fluff attached to his chest used with impunity.
He had tried to dislodge the kitten, once, ten minutes ago, and had instantly regretted it and promised both himself and the kitten that he wouldn’t do it again. As it was, he was going to have a hell of a time explaining the slash marks across his abdomen that honestly might be deep enough for stitches.
Bucky hoped that Sam was off-duty tomorrow, because he was definitely going to need to go by the firehouse and beg whichever EMT was on duty to patch him up, and he didn’t think he could bear a lifetime of Sam giving him shit for being attacked by a kitten.
Nevermind, Bucky thought grumpily to himself as he tried to steer his truck with one hand on the wheel and the other clutching the kitten tight to his chest, that the damn thing was a vicious monster and those wickedly curved little knives attached to its feet hurt like hell when they were digging into his flesh.
After nearly twenty minutes of arguing with his GPS system and juggling the cat and suffering through traffic, Bucky made it the five miles to the nearest veterinary clinic that was still open this late at night.
He managed to parallel park - even with the cat and even with his GPS stubbornly insisting this was not his final destination even though Bucky was so close to the clinic that he could see the faded remnants of graffiti on the brick facade - and then stabbed one finger on the ‘cancel route’ button repeatedly until the droning male voice cut off and he was left in blessed silence.
Bucky took a moment, let himself breathe in a deep breath. And instantly regretted it when he felt the kitten shift its claws in his chest.
“Fucking ow,” he muttered.
Blue eyes blinked up at him, almost lost in the white fur of its face. The kitten made a sound, not quite a meow but something more like a murfph .
“Yeah, same here buddy.” Against his will, he used his free hand to rub over the kitten’s head and back. It’s claws flexed again, digging deeper, and the kitten started to purr .
“Oh, so you want me to pet you while you torture me?” Bucky huffed - and regretted that too. “Demanding little murderer, aren’t you?”
The cat murfph ’d again and Bucky snorted a laugh.
Another sigh - another muttered ow - and Bucky got out of his truck and locked it up before striding towards the clinic.
Inside, it was empty and a little sad looking. Clean, very, very clean - to the point of gleaming floors and the whitest walls Bucky had ever seen outside of...ever - but the collection of furniture in the waiting area looked like it had been stolen from five different outdoor furniture stores, and the place was completely empty.
“Hey, we close in five minutes so unless this is an actual emergency, please take your pet home and come bother us tomorrow.”
Empty except for the dark haired girl sitting behind a desk, not even looking at Bucky as she spoke.
She was wearing purple scrubs and her nametag proclaimed her to be Katie Kate .
“It’s not my pet,” Bucky sighed.
The girl - the Katie Kate - looked up at the sound of his voice. She was scowling preemptively, but the moment her eyes landed on the ball of white fur trying to burrow into Bucky’s chest cavity, her expression melted.
“ Oh ! Kitty!”
Bucky rolled his eyes.
“Yeah. It’s a cat,” he confirmed.
Her eyes roamed from the cat to the rest of Bucky’s chest and then to his face. She arched one eyebrow, back to looking thoroughly unimpressed.
“But it’s not your cat?”
Bucky sighed again.
“No. It’s not my cat.”
Katie Kate was the one to sigh now, but she turned towards the computer on her table and started to type.
“It’s not my cat?”
“ Your name, dude.”
“Bucky - James Barnes.”
Both of her eyebrows were raised now, and who the fuck knew what she actually typed in, but she didn’t ask for more clarification. She probably figured she wouldn’t be getting it anyway.
“Where did you find the cat?”
“At the Brooklyn Bridge Park.” Bucky sighed yet again because this part - this part was going to hurt. “In a tree.”
Katie Kate abandoned her computer and turned her full attention back to Bucky. She very pointedly looked at the FDNY logo on his shirt and then met his eyes.
“Go on,” she commanded.
Bucky tried to glare at her, but her eyes - were her eyes actually purple? Must be those fancy contact lenses going around these days - were implacable.
“Today was the annual volleyball tournament.”
“ What annual volleyball tournament?”
“The Brooklyn Fire and PD tournament. We play against the cops and -”
“Wait. Wait . Are you telling me that every single fucking year there is a volleyball tournament where hot firefighters beat cops at the Park? Why the fuck has no one ever told me about this ? Oh my god, you’re wearing shorts. You’re wearing short shorts .” She actually stood up so that she could look over her desk and get a better look at Bucky’s bare legs.
Bucky wanted to hide, actually, genuinely wanted to hide. He felt himself blush as she looked back up at his face again, finally.
“We don’t beat them every year,” he muttered.
She was back to looking judgemental.
“Why the fuck not? They spend all day eating donuts and being assholes. You guys -” she waved a hand at him -”climb trees and rescue kittens and oh my god are there any lady firefighters on your team? Please, please tell me there are hot lady firefighters that could benchpress me so I can die of bisexual bliss.”
Bucky desperately wanted to turn around and walk out. But he still had a damn kitten attached to his chest.
“Carol and Okoye could bench press you,” he confirmed. “Natasha could murder you just by glaring at you.”
“Oh my god, that is so hot.”
“So, there’s a cat attached to my chest and I’d really like to change that?” Bucky said, not quite snapping but so close because, as much as he too appreciated Natashia’s murder glare and Carol and Okoye’s physical strength, there was, in fact, a cat attached to his chest .
Katie Kate rolled her eyes and picked up the phone receiver on her desk. She pressed a button.
“Clint, there’s a hot guy with a kitten out here who desperately needs your help. Also, I’m going home so if he murders you I’m sorry.”
She hung up the phone, gave Bucky a brilliant smile, and gestured towards the collection of outdoor furniture.
“Have a seat and Dr. Barton will be with you in a moment.” It was the most professional she had sounded yet - and paired with the way she had described him when actually talking to the vet - it gave Bucky whiplash.
Still, he sat down in the comfiest looking seat and cradled the cat that was still very stubbornly clinging to him.
A moment turned out to be five minutes - long enough for Katie Kate to shut down her computer, lock the front door, turn off the open sign, empty the trash, and give Bucky one last lingering glance before she hefted a backpack over one shoulder and vanished from sight.
Eventually, though, a door across from her vacated desk opened and a harried looking man in a white lab coat and purple scrubs stepped out.
Bucky’s eyes were drawn to his feet immediately, to the bright flash of purple Converse that had him smiling slightly as he remembered the guy he had hooked up with last month at a warehouse party had had those exact same shoes and -
It was the exact same guy.
Bucky saw the moment that recognition filtered in for him . Saw the way his tired expression morphed into confusion and then a smirk of pleasure that transformed his frown into a bright, devastating expression that made Bucky’s heartbeat stumble. Again. Just like it had the last time that smirk had been turned his way.
“Clint?” Bucky said his name, made it into a question because they hadn’t traded names last time they had… met. Had barely traded kisses before Clint was unfastening Bucky’s fly and then his mouth was on Bucky’s cock and names hadn’t really seemed important at that point.
“Hey,” Clint said, smirk still in place, bright blue eyes dancing with humor and heat and Bucky… shit. Why hadn’t Bucky gotten his number before?
“Hey,” Bucky repeated the greeting, feeling like an idiot but also feeling like he was basking in the sun, for a moment, Clint’s enthusiasm was so brilliant.
“So, is it James or Bucky? Kate’s note said that you were pretty but too dumb to know your own name.”
That brought Bucky crashing back down and he scowled. Clint laughed.
“She’s not great on customer service,” Bucky had to point out.
“She’s training to be a pathologist. Wants to study infectious diseases in invertebrates and - uh, yeah. She’s just helping me out for a few months before she goes back to Thailand to do more field research. She’s in it for the animals, not the people.”
Bucky nodded. He supposed that made a certain amount of sense. If she liked people more, she might have wanted to be a doctor, or something else.
“What about you?” Bucky had to ask, because he was more than a little floored to see his hookup in a lab coat and purple scrubs but he wasn’t actually dumb. He knew how to talk to a hot guy. Kind of.
“Me? Oh, I’m in it for the hot firefighters that rescue kittens from trees and are in dire need of my assistance.”
Clint, clearly, was not at all dumb.
“You didn’t tell me you were a veterinarian,” Bucky said.
“You didn’t tell me you were a firefighter. Think of all the roleplay we could have done in that warehouse bathroom.” Clint’s eyes were sparkling again, and Bucky kind of wanted to drown in them. “Or did you have a list of vet roleplay scenarios you wanted to work through?”
Bucky snorted a laugh.
“Can’t say that I did, but now? I might have to start making a list.”
Clint grinned again and gestured towards Bucky.
“Come on back and let me meet your new friend. And, uh, after that, maybe I can take you out to dinner?”
Bucky had spent all afternoon sweating, trading taunts with the cops in Rumlow’s squad because of course that asshole’s guys had made it to the final bracket in the tournament and of course Bucky had had to stop Steve from starting a fight with them twice in one game, and then he had had the cat situation and the traffic and the Katie Kate thing and - honestly? Dinner with Clint sounded like the best offer Bucky had ever had in his entire life - even better than last month when, after grinding on Bucky’s ass for two songs, Clint had leaned down and whispered into his ear let me suck your dick in the bathroom. I’ve got lemon flavored condoms I need to try out .
“Dinner would be amazing,” Bucky said as he stood up. “But only if you give me your phone number. So I can ask you out again.”
“Tough bargain.” Clint pretended to consider. Bucky hoped he was pretending, anyway. “But, yeah, okay. Least I can do for New York’s bravest.”
Listen. I could have gone on for another 30k because for some reason Vet!Clint and Firefighter!Bucky is like, wholesome goodness that I didn’t know I needed to write?!