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the right partner

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A huge saloon. That's where it all starts. It's dark, but somehow everyone in it can be seen — the sun is slowly going down outside, glowing through the windows, a beautiful sunset in orange and yellow tones filling the room with no lights on. There's candles everywhere, shadows of masked strangers walking across the room, and somehow it Steve feels warm in the middle of it. It's a gorgeous party, well thought, the 18st century atmosphere making him feel like a time traveler. Everyone is dressed up nicely and on theme, pompous dresses and well made suits, masks of every type on their faces.

A thousand strange eyes.

Steve looks around the room one more time, taking it all in, checks his suit — a white, hand made suit with silver details on it — and then sat up with his glass of champagne. He feels lonely even in the company of so many people.

There's every type of mask in the faces of the guests. There's the simple ones that don't hide much (that's the one Steve's wearing), but add a little something to the looks; there's the black masks that makes the eyes of who's wearing even more mysterious; there's the ones that cover the entire face. There's demons, angels, every type of character, everyone there with a role to play. And there's one particular mask that makes Steve take another look.

You see, everyone there is covering their eyes or the entire face, but not this one — he is wearing a black mask that covers his nose and mouth. His eyes were in plain sight, blue, huge eyes studying the room. Like he wants to be a paradox — you can see my eyes, you can see what I mean, but you can't ever guess what I'm going to say behind this mask. Steve can't tell if he has a beard, what's the shape of his cheekbones or his lips, how his smile looks like. You couldn't ever see if he was blushing, if he was licking his lips while talking to you, how heavy is his breath.

It's so smart it makes Steve laugh a little. No one there had this idea.

There's his suit too — a blue, delicate suit, with black details on it. It looks like Steve's, like they it was their intention to be matching, but they didn't knew each other. Steve can't stop starting. All about this guy makes him want to look more and more.

Until Mr. Blue Eyes returned his gaze.

Steve immediately looks away, because honestly, the last thing he needs here is someone thinking he's a creeper or something, and besides, flirting with looks never was really his area. He's more for the conversation. Not the case right now. So he looks away, takes a sip of the fancy champagne and checks his phone.

He thinks the situation is handled until he hears a few steps coming in his direction.

"Is this seat taken?" The masquerade man asks, pointing to the chair next to Steve.

Steve shakes his head. "No, be my guest."

He graciously sits down by Steve's side.

"Your mask," Steve starts. "I like the idea of it. It's... Definitely something no one thought about here."

"You are actually the first one to like it," He answers. "I guess being different has it's prizes."

"It's amazing. I feel like an idiot in this stupid simple mask next to you," Steve laughs and James shakes his head smilling. "May I ask your name?"

"James,"  the guy reaches his hand. "James Barnes."

"Steve Rogers," they shake hands.

"Nice to meet you, Steve."

Suddenly, the room gets even darker, and Steve notices the sun is completely down now. The lights turn on, the cristal chandeliers glowing on all their glory illuminating the entire room. You can see all the faces better now, the twilight atmosphere changed to starry night one. Everyone is sitting on their tables, knowing what's about to come. It's time for a dance.

A slow waltz starts playing, the sweet notes of a violin filling the room. Steve looks at James, and sees he's looking at him too. There's crinkles on his eyes, right above the black mask that hides the lower side of his face. He's smiling, probably.

"Would you like to dance with me, Steve?" Steve nods and takes his hand, smiling back.

"It would be an honour."


Steve feels like he's flying. James is a skilled dancer who conduces the steps like he's been doing it for a long time. The music is sweet and the room smells like roses and candles, but he takes a moment to concentrate on James' smell.

He smells like wine and mint.

Their dance is smooth and it flows like they known each other for a long time, swinging and swaying their upper bodies in different directions. It's so sweet that it feels like a dream.

It lasts for what it feels like eternity, both never wanting the night to end. The songs go on and on, and they adapt for each one, each time dancing closer and closer to each other.

When another slow waltz starts playing, James spins Steve around in the middle of it and leans his partner, their faces inches apart. Steve feels his warm breath on his mouth, their gaze never leaving each other. He smiles to James.

"Where have you been all my life?" James asks.

"I've been waiting for the right partner. Guess I just found one," he replies.

James responds with a soft kiss on his lips, and for the first time in a while Steve feels lucky.

Happy.