"Like a flash of light in an endless night
Life is trapped between two black entities
'Cause when you trust someone, illusion has begun
No way to prepare, impending despair"
Anesthesia - Type O Negative
1940 - It wasn't the first fight Steve Rogers had gotten himself into and Bucky knew it sure as hell wasn't going to be the last, but as the pain shocked through him and he pulled back for another punch he knew that defending his best friend would always be worth it.
When the fight was over Bucky helped Steve to his feet, flinging his arm around his shoulder to keep him upright.
"I'm okay, Buck. I can walk!" Steve protests "You're the one that's bleeding." he grabs Bucky's hand with the bloodied knuckles smoothing his fingers over the dry skin.
"S'nothing I can't handle." Bucky brushes Steve off. Some people are worth the pain they (inadvertently) cause, but Bucky could never tell Steve that. Steve is his closest friend, most days his only ally, but there are so many things Bucky could never say to him, thoughts he keeps tucked in the dark corners of his mind, corners that just seem to get darker the more years go by. The only time Bucky lets himself examine those thoughts is during the early morning hours between waking and dreaming when Steve is still asleep and Bucky can watch him from across the room. They only have one bedroom and it isn't very big, Steve's cot is set up against the wall opposite Bucky's bed, but there's only a sliver of space between the two. Just enough space to shuffle sideways from the door to the window. Sometimes Bucky thinks that if he reached his arm out when Steve is all sprawled out their hands would touch. In sleep Steve takes up far more space than anyone that small has any right to, his limbs splayed out in protest of such a slight frame being forced to contain the biggest person Bucky knew.
When they get back to the apartment Steve is bristling and still won't back down. "You just don't get it, Buck. I couldn't just walk away."
Bucky lets out a laugh, "You never can."
"What am I supposed to do? Just keep my head down and let someone else get hurt?"
"If it keeps you from getting hurt, maybe..." Bucky can't help but let his hand stray to the cut about Steve's eyebrow. "At least let's get you cleaned up."
"I already told you I'm alright, I'll take care of this though if you let me take care of you." Steve says gesturing to Bucky's right hand and the drying blood congealing around the knuckles.
"Fine, fine..." Bucky lets out an exaggerated huff and rolls his eyes as Steve directs Bucky to their tiny bathroom and he stalks off without further complaint. Another thing Bucky could never admit is how much he loves letting Steve take care of him. Clean and bandage his wounds after a fight, undress him and roll him into bed after a long night - Bucky even lets Steve trim his hair and shave his face. He claims it's to save them the money at the barber, and that is true, but to Bucky it means so much more.
Steve has Bucky sit on the closed toilet and turns on the tap so the water has time to run clean. Using a threadbare towel and the lightest of touches he washes the blood away and bandages Bucky's hand. All too soon Steve lets go and shoos him out of the bathroom with a smile and a promise to take care of his own scrapes next.
While Steve gets cleaned up Bucky really should be trying to figure out what they'll be eating for dinner. Instead he lays on his bed, staring at nothing in particular, lost in his thoughts. He's drawn out of his reverie some time later by the sounds of Steve moving around the kitchen.
"You need to eat something. You keep pulling those double shifts at the dock and drinking your dinner you're gonna kill yourself." Steve sets two plates down and Bucky sits to eat, even though he isn't hungry because not arguing with Steve is just easier.