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Born to Run

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"What the fuck is in a Godmother?"

Amaretto and vodka, 1/1, Clint signs back across the bar. It's easier to use his hands than yell when the place is busy, and sometimes when it's really loud he turns his hearing aids off anyway. Bucky holds up an 'ok' symbol and gets to work, dodging under Darcy's arm to grab the amaretto as she reaches up for scotch. His necklace catches on her decorative belt as he leans down, and he quickly jerks it free before the chain can snap. The dog-tags (courtesy of Steve, he used to wear them as Captain America) are fine, he knows they won't get yanked off, but he checks to make sure the AA chip is still in its holder before he goes anywhere. Steve got him a fancy one for his one-year and he doesn't want to lose it.

The club is packed tonight, being that it's a Saturday and that they've got a special live performance from the Natasha Romanov. Natasha doesn't do burlesque, as a rule, but she's agreed to do a live dominatrix demonstration and she's a big enough celebrity in niche circles that the place is full on that promise alone. Her stipulation for helping out the club tonight was that she got to choose her own sub for the demonstration, not be saddled with some random asshole audience member who might not know how to keep his hands to himself.

Clint's been wearing his collar all night, he's pretty excited.

"Hey, don't get jealous." He pokes Bucky in the arm when he catches him eyeing the collar as they restock the bar before opening. Darcy's already been tucking ones in the collar like it's a stripper's thong all day. "Nat's done this for me a few times, it'll look more professional if I know what I'm doing than having some newbie fuck up all over the stage."

Bucky shrugs and gets back to work. He doesn't tell Clint that his previous experience with dog collars is making his hands sweat and his chest tighten. Alexander Pierce flashes behind his eyes every time he catches sight of the thing, but Bucky keeps it together. He calls Steve on his smoke break and talks to his boyfriend until his heart rate comes down to normal. He's not going to relapse tonight, he's come way too far for that.

Pierce doesn't control him anymore, he's not going to let him ruin this.

Bucky's biggest vice, currently, is caffeine. He white-knuckled his way through his first few shifts at the bar with a can of Red Bull or Monster constantly at his side to swig from every time he felt a craving, and he hasn't broken the habit even if it's now easier to pour drinks all night and go home sober. He hasn't been too tempted to break his sobriety since he started working here, even if he can practically taste the booze sometimes.

His hot bouncer boyfriend makes out with him on his breaks. That helps too.

"One Godmother, thirteen bucks." Bucky thanks the guy and pockets the tip as he moves on to the next customer.

He makes good money these days, he's popular at the bar and the tips are decent. He's not as outgoing and funny as Clint, and he certainly doesn't have Darcy's assets, but he's friendly and good-looking and he can be charming as hell when he wants to be. He's good at ID-ing the middle aged women and telling them they look too young to drink, he gets a lot of tips that way. He's also not above flirting like hell with men and women alike to get tips, he takes a lot of pleasure in their expressions when Steve stops by to kiss him over the bar before he heads home after a shift. It feels good to use his looks to his advantage again, rather than have them used against him.

The bar has thrived ever since Phil and Clint closed it down for a month and completely redid the interior, re-opening it right on a holiday weekend. The place has a nineteen-forties theme now, the stages converted to a classic burlesque look and the dancers' new costumes fitting right in. Pin-up girls are stencilled on the walls, in fancy underwear rather than totally nude. Old-school glamour as far as their budget would stretch, and the customers seem to love it. Bucky especially likes the fact that their uniforms are more like costumes, shirts and suspenders and the whole old-fashioned get-up, because it means he can hide his arm brace under his shirtsleeves.

He's still kind of self-conscious about his arm, although it's been getting better since he can afford to get physiotherapy regularly. Permanent damage is still permanent, and he has to wear the brace even though he can manage to do a few things with it off now. He can't work a whole shift without the support, he tried a couple of weeks ago and Clint sent him home before he could break any more than the six glasses he'd already dropped. But as long as he can hide most of the brace under his sleeve then he's not too shy about it.

The bar lights dim suddenly and the lights on the main stage come up as music starts rolling through the speakers. Bucky has to prompt his customer to pay for his drink before he walks away, because suddenly everyone in the bar is fixated on the man who walks out onto the stage.

Huh. So they roped Steve into introducing Natasha.

Bucky can't deny that it's a good choice, although he can tell that Steve is nervous underneath the smile he flashes to the audience. He looks like a matinee idol, his blonde hair parted and combed back neatly in a forties style, his white shirt pressed and just the right side of too-tight. His pants aren't exactly leaving much to the imagination either, they must be borrowed.

Bucky is totally gonna fuck his brains out later.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pride to introduce our headline act this evening." He's got notes written on the back of his hand, and Bucky simultaneously wants to squish his cheeks because this dork, and suck his dick because he looks hot as hell right now.

"The best dominatrix on the East Coast, she's kindly taken time out from her regular job with Shield Entertainment to be here with us tonight. She's asked that you don't take pictures during the performance, so please respect her wishes or you might end up part of the show." Pause for laughter, and Bucky can see Steve relax when the joke lands. "Without further ado, the star of our show: the Black Widow, Ms Natasha Romanov."

The audience erupts in applause and catcalls. Steve takes the mic with him when he walks off the stage, and Natasha comes out with a radio headset mostly hidden by her curled hair. She's every inch the Black Widow tonight, her corset in red and black fits her like a second skin, and her black pants and boots are both soft, dark leather. There's an hourglass insignia on her necklace, and Bucky recognises it from the buckle of Clint's collar.

Thor pushes past him to relieve Clint late, as usual. The Scandinavian isn't a bad bartender, and he's big enough that when he gives someone the wrong drink they generally don't complain, but he's got a problem with punctuality. Clint punches him on the arm as he hops over the bar and pushes through the crowd to the stage, just in time for Natasha to summon him up.

She takes his chin in her hand and kisses him on the forehead, leaving a perfectly-shaped print of red lipstick on his skin. As far as Bucky understands it's not sexual between them when they do this, it's something Phil isn't into but Clint needs, but he's never witnessed them do it before.

Natasha is completely relaxed, hypnotic in her confidence and immediate command of the room. People aren't even ordering drinks right now, everyone is focused on Natasha and Clint.

"When you're dealing with a pet, it's important to reward good behaviour."

Bucky realises how much of a bad idea it was to work tonight just a second too late. He feels the hair on the back of his neck rise at Natasha's smooth voice, at the way she pets Clint's hair when he sinks to his knees at her feet.

It's obvious they've done this before, now that he sees it. Bucky had no idea Clint was submissive like this, but the way he looks up at Natasha like she hung the moon suggests that he very much is, and he drops into subspace fast too. He can see the way his pupils are blown almost from here.

The reason it gets to Bucky is because, God, everything. Dog collars and kneeling and pets and… He didn't realise it would be like this, he should have asked Natasha what she was planning to do before he agreed to work this shift. He still has trouble just having vanilla sex with his boyfriend sometimes, he'd been getting ahead of himself to think he could handle seeing a live D/s show.

Bucky's just sick of having to think about how much he can handle all the time. He used to throw himself into every experience, not caring what happened to him because he'd be numb from booze or whatever pills he'd taken and it wouldn't matter. But since Hydra he has to be careful with himself all the time. There's always the chance that his mind might break on him, that something tiny might set him off and he'll freak out. It's so embarrassing to not be in control of his own mind.

He feels fragile, and he hates it.

"A firm hand is good."

Natasha reaches down and yanks on Clint's hair, hard. He raises his head with a pained sound, keeping his eyes on Natasha the whole time.

Bucky can feel himself start to sweat. This isn't good, he should get out of here. Phil is in the back doing the books, there's nothing to stop him going back there and begging him to take the rest of his shift. Phil would do it, he'd understand why Bucky needed to go home early, but Bucky's frozen in place as Natasha pulls Clint's hair again and he pants out a gasp of pain.

There's nothing behind his eyes except Pierce. He wishes faintly that Steve hadn't left already at the end of his shift. He's not sure he's going to make it home on his own tonight. He feels like his legs won't work.

"Good boy." Natasha coos at Clint, and some of the crowd laugh. Bucky hears the echo of Pierce cooing the same thing in his ear as he cleans him up after one of the Winter Soldier Tapes and –

Bucky's hands are shaking harder now. He needs to leave before he accidentally breaks something, and his mind finally comes back online as his breathing picks up. He puts down the bottle he'd been holding and taps Thor on the shoulder, glad the big guy is always happy to cover for him when he needs a minute. He can get out of here before this turns into a full-blown panic attack.

"I'm waiting for service."

"Sorry, pal. I'm going on my—" Bucky freezes when he turns back to the bar to deal with the customer.

He feels like he got dunked in a bath of ice. His blood freezes.

"Yakov." Alexander Pierce smiles at him, shark-like in the dark beyond the bar. "You've been a very bad boy."