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New Neighbor

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It’s only a little past eight pm when the storm that’d been raging outside knocks out the power in Steve’s apartment complex.

He sighs and shuts his laptop, rubbing his eyes and blinking the tiredness from his eyes. Sure, he can still work; his Photoshop program and drawing tablet still works with no electricity, but he thinks it’s as good a time as any to take a break and get something to eat. Otherwise, he might’ve worked clear through until midnight.

He feels his way into the kitchen, glad he knows his apartment as well as he does or he would’ve face planted at some point, reaching up to flip the light switch on.

“Rogers, you’re a dumbass,” Steve mutters to himself before continuing to feel around, smacking his hand on the edge of the counter and pulling open a drawer, searching for a flashlight or a candle. He realizes he probably should’ve brought his phone with him. The light would’ve helped a lot.

He hears a thump and a loud “shit!” that he has to stifle a laugh from coming from next door. His new neighbor must be home.

“There you are!” Steve exclaims, finding the pack of tea lights he keeps in his drawer, pretty much for this exact reason. He takes them out, fumbling around until he finds the kitchen lighter, ripping open the plastic packet.

“Motherfucker!” Comes through the wall and Steve can’t help the loud laughter that bubbles up out of his chest.

He hears a crash, another thump, and loud but slightly muffled string of words that he thinks may be Russian but he isn’t positive and he grins. Apparently his neighbor hasn’t unpacked any candles yet. Hey, maybe that’s a good way to introduce himself. He likes being friends with his neighbors but he’s not good at figuring out ways to introduce himself that doesn’t involve the lame here’s a green bean casserole.

He passes over setting candles around his own apartment just yet, and grabs the opened package of candles. He has another one in the drawer, he can sacrifice a few so his neighbor doesn’t break his neck over a box. He’d really feel like a bad neighbor.

He lights a tall candle in a jar to carry so he can see his way and gathers the collection of tea lights, making his way slowly to the door. The candle casts funny shadows all over everything so he ends up dodging things that he knows aren’t even there.

He leaves his apartment and walks next door to the apartment at the end of the hall, knocking on the door.

“Hang on a sec-” a thump, “Fuck! Oww!” and a few moments later, the door is pulled open revealing a… well, all that Steve can tell at first glance is he’s a man sounding completely flustered, “Hi.”

“Hey. Uh…”Steve pauses, suddenly feeling extremely awkward for doing this, “I heard you banging around in there and though maybe you could use a few candles... I had extra…”

“Oh wow! Thanks!” The man replies, a breathtaking grin spreading over the man’s features that luckily now Steve can see since he’d moved closer to the candle, “I can’t find any of mine. I definitely wasn’t expecting it to storm bad enough the lights would go out so soon – hell, I might not even have any.”

“Yeah. That doesn’t happen often,” Steve replies, trying to casually check the guy out, “Here.”

“Thank you,” Cute smile guy says, taking the package and accepting the candle Steve’d lit for him, “Want to come in?”

“Sure. Nothing really to do now,” Steve chuckles, stepping in and promptly having to catch himself before he trips over a box, “I’m Steve Rogers. I live right next door.”

The small flame reflects off of a pair of icy blue green eyes as they connect with his, “James Barnes, but please call me Bucky.”

“Nice to meet you,” he replies, holding out a hand to shake. It just happens to be at the same time that it thunders outside the building and Steve feel the muscles in Bucky’s hand tense just slightly around his in a flinch.

So he’s scared of thunder. How fucking precious is that?

“Seriously, thank you for this,” Bucky says, using the candle he’s holding to light three more of the little tea lights and sets them all on the bare coffee table in front of his couch, “I can’t even find my phone. I was in the kitchen when the lights went out and I’d left my phone in here.” Then as an afterthought, “I think.”

“I’m pretty sure mine is still on charge. A lot of good that’s doing now,” Steve replies.

Bucky laughs quietly, a small huff of breath, “I’d offer you a beverage of your choice but all I have at the moment is peach tea. Would you like one of those?”

“Sure, that’d be great,” Steve replies, following the other man into the kitchen, really to make sure he doesn’t break his neck. He really likes the sound of Bucky’s voice and he wishes the lights would come on so he could properly see his face. Too bad he’s not holding the candle close enough to see. It’s not like Steve can just thrust his candle into his face like hey you have a sexy voice and I want to know if you’re hot, most-likely-straight new neighbor.

Bucky opens the now dark fridge, pulling out two cans and handing one over to Steve, “How long have you lived here?”

“A year and a half. A good friend of mine owns the building and when my old complex was bought out to build the new mall, he had a new opening so I got this place,” Steve explains.

“From what I’ve heard, this is a pretty sought after building,” Bucky replies, “So you must’ve got lucky.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty popular. It’s a great area, close to a lot of transport and nightlife. Clint is a really easy going landlord, too. Doesn’t mind if the rent is a little late. Plus I think a lot of guys just like ogling his girlfriend and having access to the gym downstairs to watch her practice her ballet,” Steve explains.

“So she’s hot?”

“She’s beautiful, yes. Not my type, though,” Steve laughs softly. He can see the shadow of Bucky’s eyebrow raise but he doesn’t make a comment on it, “I think Clint may’ve been saving the apartment for me and gearing up to ask me to move in anyway. The construction going around my old building really messed with my allergies.”

“That’s really nice of him,” Bucky says, a barely noticeable jump in his voice when thunder sounds again, “So what? Is there a waitlist on this place or something?”

“Yeah there is. But Clint has a soft spot for anyone with any kind of disability since he’s deaf himself, and Army vets, or single moms. He’s going to get them in as soon as he possibly can. He keeps an apartment or two open at all times just in case,” Steve answers, “You weren’t on the waiting list?”

“Nope. I am a vet, though. I just assumed there weren’t many applicants,” Bucky says.

“You were in the military?” Steve asks, suddenly even more intrigued, “I tried to enlist but I have a list of health issues the length of my arm so I couldn’t.”

“Maybe it’s better you didn’t then,” Bucky replies, not unkindly, “Yeah. I was in Special Forces. I was in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a bunch of places I’m not allowed to talk about,” He chuckles.

“I understand,” Steve grins, “I have a friend who was para-rescue. Some of the ops he went on, he couldn’t talk about either.”

“When you say couldn’t, you don’t mean…?” Bucky asks, a little worried about the past tense the blonde used.

“Oh no! He’s still alive. He’s just gotten out. He works down at the VA now,” Steve says quickly, “His boyfriend was in an accident over there and got honorable discharge so when his deployment was up, he didn’t re-enlist.”

“Para-rescue and works at the VA,” Bucky starts, “You wouldn’t happen to mean Sam Wilson would you?”

“Yeah, that’s him,” Steve grins, “You know him?”

“Yeah, I saw him for a bit when I was discharged. He helped me out when I needed someone to talk to. My team was ambushed on an op. I got injured and they wouldn’t let me come back. I messed up my arm pretty bad, almost lost it but I managed to get by with just some nerve damage and a bunch of scars. Battle Scars, you know?” Bucky grins, wiggling his fingers.

“Wow. Well, I’m glad you still have your arm,” Steve laughs a little, worrying a little if that was the right thing to say.

“Me too,” Bucky says, “but I made it through so it wasn’t as hard of an adjustment as it could have been,” he pauses and takes a drink of his tea, “Well, that got awful heavy for a first conversation.”

“It’s okay,” Steve says, “Where are you from?”

“Brooklyn. I grew up there but when I came back stateside, I moved up here to Manhattan. It’s nice. Plus there’s a pretty good view of Stark Tower and I like to see it. It’s so unique, it reminds me how nice it is to be home and not overseas in all that,” Bucky replies.

“Oh please don’t let Tony hear you say that. He’d never let you hear the end of it,” Steve tell him, running a hand through his hair and pushing a few wayward strands from his forehead.

“Tony? Stark? Oh I don’t think that’ll be a problem. I’ve never met the guy,” Bucky snorts.

Steve makes a mental note to introduce them the next time Tony decides to come bug him, “You said Brooklyn? I grew up there, too! We must not have been in the same district or I know I would’ve remembered you.”

“I lived in Brooklyn Heights,” Bucky replies.

“Oh. That’s why. I was in Bed-Stuy,” Steve says, “Then I moved when I went to art school.”

“Cool,” Bucky replies, moving to the couch in the living room and sitting on one end while Steve takes the other, “Well, we’re neighbors now so we should know one another. Tell me about yourself, Steve Rogers.”

“Well, I mentioned I went to art school. I’m an artist. I do commissioned paintings and drawings but my main work is inking comics and for animated series. I have asthma, so don’t panic if I ever start wheezing. I just need my inhaler,” Steve laughs softly, rubbing the back of his neck a little embarrassed. But it always is better to get that out of the way instead of someone panicking because they don’t know, “I bake a lot so you’ll probably be gifted a lot with cookies or cakes that I made on a whim and either didn’t want or made too much of.”

“Hi, I’m Bucky and I love baked goods,” Bucky says solemnly.

“Hello Bucky,” Steve answers with a grin, “Welcome to Baked Goods Anonymous. Or should it be Sweets Anonymous? Because Baked Anonymous sounds like we’re potheads.”

Bucky lets out a musical laugh, “You don’t do that right? The smell annoys me.”

“Asthma, remember?” Steve grins. “Your turn. Tell me about you?”

“Well, I’m an ex Special Forces which you already know, so the last whole chapter of my life has been overseas mostly. There’s a lot of things I used to do that I don’t like anymore and things I used to hate but want to try so as for hobbies, that’s all up in the air right now,” he chuckles, “So there really isn’t much to tell about me. Get back to me on that in a few months and I can probably tell you more.”

“Well do you like video games? We can start with that,” Steve looks around, “Or at least when the electricity comes back on.”

“I do actually. I am the bomb at Mario Kart,” Bucky says.

“Well we’ll have to play some time,” Steve says, hoping for an excuse to get to know his new neighbor. He could always use a new friend, and the guy is pretty charming he has to admit.

“I’d like that,” Bucky replies, a smile turning up the corners of his lips.

With a quiet whine of the refrigerator coming back to life, the electricity pops back on. There are faint cheers from some of the other tenants but Steve’s eyes are immediately drawn to a pair of icy blue ones looking right back at him.

Damn.

He thought Bucky was cute in the candle light but he really couldn’t see him well at all could he? Long brown hair is pulled back in a messy bun to show those sharp cheekbones and jawline that are so much more than cute.

And those soft pink lips. Well, Steve wouldn’t mind sitting in his lap and feeding him a piece of cake, watching his lips close around a spoon. Well, he can’t think too much about it and he needs to stop staring before he looks like a creep.

He finds Bucky looking over him as well before a brilliant smile lights up his entire face, “Well, nice to meet you officially, Steve Rogers.”