Nobody was coming to take his order.
Bucky tongued the dent inside his cheek before he realized he was doing it and stopped, glancing nervously around the room. People were calmly drinking their coffee, chatting, laughing. He wasn’t sure what to do.
He wasn’t quite used to this place yet; he had only been there for a week. An incredibly cheerful senior with worryingly white teeth had given him the tour on his first day, telling him that he could call her anytime he wanted if he needed help and don’t be afraid to talk to people and here was his planning for this semester and had he caught up on Game of Thrones yet and what a beautiful day it was today, didn’t he think so?
He did think so. The campus was gorgeous, with old brownstone buildings and a crisp chilly smell in the air, and trees with red and orange and yellow leaves, which somehow looked more vivid than the ones in Romania. Everything is bigger in America. Bucky hadn’t expected the sky to be bigger, too; but it was fucking huge. Several times a day, Bucky would catch himself stopping in the middle of the road and just staring up at the sky. Why the hell was it so big? The sky should have been the same everywhere. Right? When he’d called his mother at the beginning of the week to tell her about it, she’d said it was because Romania had more hills to block out the horizon. Romania wasn’t made only of hills, though; but even on flat land, Bucky had never paid much attention to the sky. Here, though—it was all he could see, and he was getting a bit tired of walking into trash cans.
So, yeah, he wasn’t quite used to America yet. He’d been there before, for a week or two at a time—holidays. He’d watched a few series, knew about a few shows, followed a few blogs. He’d thought he already knew the place. But living there was just not the same; the differences between then and now were just beginning to appear, like a big picture slowly coming into focus, pixels dividing into tinier and tinier details.
Before leaving, he’d downloaded three Bruce Springsteen albums in his iPod, in what was supposed to be an ironic gesture; but then he hadn’t been able to stop listening to it. He listened to Born in the USA and to The Rising, and he chewed on the dent inside his right cheek when he didn’t pay attention, and he did his best to smooth out his accent and go to his classes.
But he’d been sitting at this table for over fifteen minutes and nobody was coming to take his order.
The worst thing was that he was beginning to feel like people were watching him. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He wasn’t going to call the girl—Darcy? Had that been her name? Like the dude in that Austen novel?—because he really didn’t want this to sound like a coffee date. Also, he didn’t want to ask for help about fucking coffee. He wasn’t some idiot tourist, goddammit. His father was American born and bred. Of course, considering the circumstances, it wasn’t really a comforting thought.
Twenty minutes. The guy behind the counter looked right at him, raised an eyebrow, then smirked and turned away as though he wasn’t his problem. Maybe he was busy right now, Bucky thought without much conviction. But everyone around him had their coffee already. It was a slow afternoon and no one had come in since Bucky had sat down. He swallowed and shifted again in his seat. He was pretty sure the two guys sitting at the table facing him were trying not to smirk. The girl behind him had just huffed a laugh. They couldn’t be really laughing at him—he had to be paranoid. Right?
The door jingled open and a skinny guy came in. Bucky’s eyes jumped to him with more relief than he wanted to admit to himself—maybe he could just watch how it was done. And then he could pretend he’d just been casually sitting there deciding what to drink. Good times. Nothing to see here.
Fuck, this guy was tiny.
He was unwrapping a huge scarf from his neck, the kind of horrid wool python only a mother would make. It wasn’t even that chilly outside, but he was wrapped like a Christmas present, layers on layers on layers—a large leather jacket sagging around his skinny frame, a checkered shirt, a thick pullover. He was wearing huge black-rimmed glasses, and his floppy blond hair kept getting in his eyes. He wasn’t much, really, so Bucky was surprised to realize the attention of the room had been diverted to him.
Tiny Dude looked up and met a few gazes with an oddly defiant stare, until he was looking right at Bucky. His eyes were very, very blue, and his lips incredibly pink.
Too late, Bucky realized he was staring at him like a creep, and quickly looked away. In the corner of his eye, he could see the small guy look at him for a second longer, then huff and stomp towards the counter.
“Hey!” he said, so loud the entire room stopped pretending they weren’t listening to fully turn towards him. Bucky guessed that meant he could look up again as well, and blinked at seeing this tiny shrimp of a guy so rigid with anger.
“Do you think this is funny?” he said sharply.
The dark-haired barista raised an eyebrow. “What?” he said with a nasty smile.
“Ain’t it written how can I help you on your fuckin’ badge, Rumlow? How long were you gonna make him wait?”
Bucky flushed when he realized the shrimpy guy was talking about him. Behind the counter, Rumlow’s grin widened. “It’s not my fault he’d rather sit alone like a creep than come up and order his coffee.”
Oh God, Bucky thought, cheeks flaming. Of course. What a fucking idiot—he had to order at the counter. This was a goddamn Starbucks, not a café. He’d been sitting here for fucking ages—no wonder everyone had been laughing at him—
“He’s an exchange student,” the tiny guy hissed, getting more and more worked up. “Obviously, he doesn’t know how it works. And none of you assholes—” he went on, turning round, and whoa had he just insulted the entire room—“thought it might be a good idea to give him a heads up? I’ll send you to fucking Europe and see how you—”
“Hey!” Bucky yelled.
He caught his breath and realized he was standing up. Everyone was definitely staring at him now.
“Just—shut up,” he hissed.
The skinny guy blinked at him. Bucky stared back. His palms were clammy. He hadn’t meant to start shouting too—God, he’d just wanted this dude to stop drawing attention to him like this was a goddamn national outrage.
“See,” Rumlow said, smirking. “Everyone wants you to get off your high horse, Rogers.”
The guy was still staring at Bucky, expressionless. Bucky grabbed his bag and all but ran out.
The chilly air was an incredible relief and his heart stopped feeling like it was going to beat out of his chest after a few minutes. He still didn’t stop until he’d reached his afternoon class; he was early, but sat in the hallway and waited twenty minutes for it to start, taking deep breaths.
That was the first time he met Steve Rogers.
“So,” Barton said, balancing himself on his chair with a huge grin. “Sorry, man, but I gotta ask. Do you really not know how Starbucks works?”
Bucky groaned and hid his face in his hands. “Is everyone talking about this?”
“Answer the question, Barnes.”
Bucky tipped his chair back instead and Barton’s pinwheeling arms did nothing to keep him from crashing onto the floor with an undignified yelp. He blinked for a few seconds, then just lay there, apparently alright with his newfound horizontal situation.
“Fucking Russians,” he told the ceiling. “See, this is why we had a Cold War.”
“I’m Romanian,” Bucky said.
“Don’t they have Starbucks in Budapest?
“You’re wasting your breath, man,” Sam said, coming in with three paper cups and stepping over Clint. “Physics majors can’t get anything else than numbers in their pretty little heads.”
“I resemble this accusation,” Clint said from the floor.
“And we do have Starbucks,” Bucky went on disgruntledly. “I just never went.”
He rubbed his face with both hands, then looked up at Sam who was offering him a cup. He took it with a scowl of thanks and glared at the two-tailed mermaid as if she was to blame for the whole thing.
“Cheer up, man,” Clint said, finally sitting up and adjusting the hearing aid on his right ear. “Nobody’s actually laughing at you. You just happen to star in today’s episode of the Daily Rogers.”
“What’s the Daily Rogers?”
Sam let out a little laugh. “The junior who yelled at an entire room on behalf of a complete stranger? Yeah, that’s Steve Rogers.” He popped his cup’s lid off. “And it’s not even the craziest thing he’s done this week.”
“He’s a junior?” Bucky said. “Like us? I thought he was a freshman.”
Sam and Clint did similar ‘ooouh’ noises, then laughed. “Don’t let him hear you say that. He got into fights for way less.”
“But what’s his deal?” Bucky said, feeling more and more puzzled. “He doesn’t even know me.”
“Steve Rogers,” Clint said dramatically. “How do I begin to describe Steve Rogers?”
“Steve Rogers is a complete train wreck,” Sam said.
“I hear he nearly bankrupts his medical insurance every year.”
“I hear he chained himself to a tree to protest against fracking… in DC.”
“His favorite movie is the musical of Die Hard.”
“One time, he met the dean…”
“…and he punched him in the face.”
“One time he punched himself in the face,” Clint concluded. “It was awesome.” He looked at Sam then they both cracked up.
Bucky just looked at them in slight consternation. Eventually, Clint stopped laughing long enough to grab Sam’s laptop and turn it on.
“Here,” he said, giving it to Bucky.
thedailyrogers.tumblr.com, Bucky read. He frowned, then clicked on the “about” section.
Steve Rogers. How do I begin to describe Steve Rogers? Steve Rogers is a complete train wreck. I hear he nearly bankrupts his medical insurance every year…
He went back to the main page and scrolled down the first few posts. They were all submissions from different persons, most of them reblogs, complete with shaky snapshots here and there, telling little stories about Steve Rogers. On top of the page was a picture of him yelling at Brock Rumlow, with his huge wooly scarf still clutched in his hand. Rogers blows a fuse on behalf of Starbucks-impaired exchange student. The number of views was impressive.
“Who’s handling the blog?” Bucky asked.
“We don’t know. It’s like Gossip Girl, I swear. A few engineering majors have tried to take it down once or twice but it always comes back.”
“They did a whole Tumblr just to make fun of him?” Bucky asked, frowning.
“They’re not all bad stories,” Sam said. “One time he broke his arm rescuing an honest-to-god cat from an honest-to-god tree. Someone took a picture which got reblogged on the Daily Rogers, and people sent tons of flowers to his hospital room.”
“What did he say?”
“Yelled at them for not giving the money to charity instead,” Clint grinned.
Bucky raised his eyebrows. “Seriously?”
Sam nodded, smiling. “Steve Rogers isn’t a bad person,” he said. “Hell, he might even be a great one. But that doesn’t get him a lot of friends.”
Bucky looked at the picture of Rogers yelling at Brock Rumlow for him. He looked genuinely furious.
“At least he’s campus famous,” Clint said.
It went like this: Bucky was Sam Wilson’s roommate. Sam Wilson and Clint Barton were long-time friends. Clint Barton was in the same physics class as Bruce Banner. Bruce Banner was roommates with Tony Stark. Tony Stark knew everyone who was anyone. And so Bucky was never alone, not even on his first week when most exchange students would have been awkward and trying desperately to secure a first few tentative friendships with half-strangers.
Bucky was free to watch the sky and listen to Bruce Springsteen all day. It was the middle of September and everyone agreed that they hadn’t had such a beautiful fall in years.
His mother called every week to know how he was doing.
His father hadn’t called at all.
day 47: rogers continues to sit in silence and glare without taking notes during alexander pierce’s american politics class
#he’s wearing a ferguson shirt #AND a rainbow bracelet #i love this dude
ten bucks says he won’t last the whole two hours
aaaaaand he’s done it again. rogers storming out of AP for the third time this month
thedailyrogers reblogged this
Bucky’s classes seemed exceedingly easy to him; but then again, he’d always been a good student, almost boringly so, starting on his essays as soon as they were assigned. He wasn’t very social and he didn’t talk much, which left him plenty of time. The hardest part at this point was still to figure out his way across the gigantic campus.
The second hardest was people. Bucky was slowly beginning to figure Sam’s friends out. It was like getting into a relationship after a one-night-stand. Bucky was treading carefully on that ground, saving his adventurous side for Starbucks. (Pumpkin spice lattes were his new favorite thing in the world.)
Banner was the first surprise of the fall. At first, Bucky didn’t pay him a lot of attention; he was a quiet little nerd, always smiling bashfully at people and doing his best to be as unobtrusive as possible. But then Bucky discovered he was a fucking frat boy, which threw him for a hell of a loop. (His frat was apparently very geeky, but still.) To top it all, Bucky then met Tony Stark and revised his stance on Banner entirely. Either this guy followed the Dalai Lama’s masterclass on inner peace, or smoked a lot of weed—there was no other explanation for his godly patience with Stark, whose antics Banner tolerated with the placid acceptance of a very deadpan saint. One day, he also casually explained something about air dilatation in relation to latitude and atmospheric curvature which completely went over Bucky’s head, but was apparently the answer to the Big Sky Mystery.
“Why are you two even taking physics together?” Bucky asked Clint later. “This guy is something else.”
Clint didn’t even take offense. “I know, right? Banner could actually fucking teach in this dump—he just doesn’t flaunt it. He’s in it for the physics physics.”
“And you’re in it for…?”
“Ballistics,” Clint grinned, then beaned him in the head with a pillow.
crossbones: rogers’ mom knits all his scarves and sweaters, pass it on
thedailyrogers reblogged this
At first glance, Tony Stark, engineering major, was an asshole. At second glance, he was also an asshole. On their first meeting, he made fun of Bucky’s fascination for Bruce Springsteen, touched every single thing in his dorm room, stole his coffee (“I hear you don’t know how to drink it anyway, Barnes”) and accidentally dislocated the wobbling foot of his bed.
Then he put it back together so it wasn’t wobbling anymore, also fixed Bucky’s flickering lamp, and showed up the next day with a flash drive filled with all Bruce Springsteen songs in existence, which he tossed to him before stealing his coffee again.
Bucky guessed he could see why Bruce liked him.
“Still,” he told Sam, “asshole,” and Sam just laughed.
Holy SHIT. Okay, so, we had a military presentation thingy earlier today. Bored out of our skulls until some idiot thought it would be fun to throw a can of Coke and yell “GRENADE.” Everyone scurried back but Rogers JUMPED ON IT. He fucking JUMPED. ON. IT. I AM LAUGHING SO HARD. HE ACTUALLY JUMPED ON IT.
he also yelled at everyone to get back
i mean it was kinda brave
HE JUMPED ON A COKE CAN
thedailyrogers reblogged this
At first glance, Clint was a jock; fun and easygoing and actually kinda nice under all the stupid, but loud, continuously talking and waving his hands, making ill-timed jokes to which he laughed even when no one else did, always grinning, always in a bouncy mood. Somehow, he was still way more tolerable than Tony. He was also way shrewder than he let on—he was a physics student, too, after all, and despite what he said of himself, his conversations with Banner often left Bucky in the dust.
“He’s not as dumb as he wants us to think he is,” Bucky said one day.
Banner looked up from his math homework, then turned round to glance at Clint, who was busy kicking the vending machine a few dozen feet away, rather unsuccessfully so.
“No,” he said after a long silence, turning back to Bucky.
“Guess we shouldn’t tell him we know,” Bucky said.
Bruce smiled at him then, in a way that made Bucky feel weirdly proud, like he’d unlocked some sort of friendship achievement. Then Tony came back from the toilet and snatched Banner’s calculation sheet to make loud observations on it; Bucky sat back and watched as Clint delivered a particularly well-aimed kick into the side of the machine which finally spat out a soda can.
rogers wearing an “ask me about my pronouns” t-shirt
#transWk #photo taken with his permission #for once
thedailyrogers reblogged this
At first glance, Sam Wilson, psych major, was a nice guy. At second glance, he was a fucking miracle of a roommate and Bucky thanked the heavens every day they got to share a room.
Sam bought Bucky coffee for a week straight until Bucky had it in himself to go back to Starbucks and face the sarcastic barista. (Only to discover he wasn’t working there anymore, replaced by some guy whose nametag just said “Button Bob,” but who was actually named Cameron.) Sam was minoring in Russian for some unfathomable reason. (Bucky suspected it involved a girl.) Sam was so fucking friendly he actually made it look easy to like people. (Even Tony.) (Hell, even Bucky.)
Sam was the only one who knew Bucky had been sent to the US after his parents’ divorce and his mother’s subsequent remarriage. Bucky explained it to him one night, feeling oddly distanced from his own words as he bounced a rubber ball off the wall. He didn’t tell him the whole story, but he felt like Sam deserved to know at least one of the reasons.
Sam didn’t say how sorry he was or anything. But he bought him coffee again the next day, even though Bucky was well-versed in Starbucks etiquette by now.
“Here’s your venti vanilla chai latte thing, man,” he said, “try not to die of diabetes anytime soon.”
Bucky promised himself he’d do something for Sam Wilson one day. He didn’t know what yet, but he’d make it big.
ALERT ALERT ALERT
A CONGRESS REPRESENTATIVE IS IN THE SAME ROOM AS STEVE ROGERS
BUCKLE UP GUYS
It’s the third fucking time rogers interrupts him im pissing
“BUT ARE YOU REALLY QUALIFIED TO TALK ABOUT ABORTION WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE A VAGINA”
HE ACTUALLY SAID THAT OMFG THIS GUY THIS UCKFING GUY
rogers is being escorted from the premises. about damn time
aw, and we were having such great fun too
They should expel his self-righteous ass. He’s giving us a bad name with this disrespectful attitude.
dude find ur chill. also that congressman looks like he’s about to shit an entire brickhouse
someone should have warned this poor man
thedailyrogers reblogged this
Bucky had no idea how people would describe him, be it at first or second glance. He knew he wasn’t smiling often despite his best efforts, and he was aware he barely talked at all, but people didn’t seem to mind too much.
He felt content to stay on the sidelines for now, still possessed by the novelty of it all, assessing every new situation he found himself in. Clint called him a Russian assassin and pretended to be convinced Bucky worked for the KGB. (Bucky had given up on explaining the difference between Russian and Romanian.) Banner was even quieter than Bucky, and they often spent the rainy afternoons studying together. (Banner deflected Tony’s attempts at distraction but always gave in when Clint came to poke him.) Sam mostly gave Bucky his space but always looked glad to see him or do things with him. (Bucky was going to name his fucking first-born after him.) Tony was an asshole. (Tony was an asshole.)
“Are you on the Daily Rogers?” Tony asked, plonking himself down next to him with a wide grin.
“Huh? Oh. Yeah,” Bucky said, putting down his phone.
“Keep reading, Barnes, don’t let me get in your way.”
Bucky felt guilty for some reason, as if he’d been caught masturbating or something. The truth was he’d been—without really knowing why—searching for a picture of Rogers smiling. Aside from him grinning at the camera in his Trans Week t-shirt, he hadn’t found any.
“There are a lot of posts,” Bucky said, just to say something.
“Well, it’s been up and going for three years,” Tony laughed. “People keep saying they don’t know what they’ll do when Rogers graduates.”
Anonymous asked: tbh this entire tumblr is trash and y’all should be ashamed. This is invasion of privacy and defamation of character and harassment of the basest kind.
Okay, I’ve been receiving lots of messages like this lately, so let me address them once and for all. Tell me, the lot of you: how is this worse than gossip in the hallways? I mean, we’re not making up anything. Steve Rogers is actually doing all of these things. We’re just telling each other about them. I reblog the good and the bad.
Calm the fuck down, people. No one is getting hurt here.
“Shit,” Bucky muttered under his breath for the seventh time, looking up at the sky then retreating hurriedly under the awning. “Shit, shit, shit, shit.”
The rain didn’t look like it would stop anytime soon. Bucky had tried to pretend he didn’t feel it at first, but it was the beginning of fucking October and it was fucking pouring down and it wasn’t stopping. In the end, he’d found cover—well. He’d plastered himself to a brownstone building under a ridiculously small awning—and was now miserably waiting for it to end.
Shit. He was already late for class.
He squinted. There was someone coming up the walkway, under an umbrella so big it hid them almost entirely from sight. The umbrella was red and white and blue, painted like a target.
Nothing to lose, Bucky thought, and unstuck himself from the building to run after them. “Hey,” he called. “Excuse me, do you think I could—”
The umbrella tipped back and Bucky froze. It was Steve Rogers.
They stared at each other for a few seconds amidst the downpour. Then Rogers snorted without humor.
“Come on,” he said, lifting up his umbrella, “you look like a drowned cat.”
Bucky was too relieved to say anything and ducked under the umbrella with gratitude. Rogers was so tiny he had to lift it up almost at arm’s length, and even that wasn’t enough. Bucky almost offered to hold it instead, then thought better of it. So he just hunched on himself and said nothing, tilting his shoulders to fit.
“Where you goin’?” Rogers asked.
“Uh,” Bucky said. “I—uh… Humanities building.”
“Okay,” Rogers just said, even though it was at the other end of the campus.
They walked in silence for a few minutes. Bucky worried his lower lip, stealing glances at Rogers once in a while—which wasn’t easy with how much he had to duck his head and hunch his shoulders. They were stumbling awkwardly side by side, trying to accommodate the stupid angle of the umbrella bringing them closer together with every step. Rogers was walking with a vacant stare, unaware of—or indifferent to—Bucky’s discomfort. He was dressed almost like last time, with skinny jeans and a leather jacket too big for him. His hipster glasses were speckled with water.
“I don’t know if you remember me,” Bucky blurted.
Rogers looked up. “Sorry?”
“I’m… I don’t know if you remember, um—ow,” Bucky shifted under the umbrella when it caught a strand of his long hair and ripped out a few. “We met at Starbucks a while ago? You yelled at the barista.”
“Yeah,” Rogers said, and just kept walking. “I remember you. Tellin’ me to shut up then runnin’ away.”
Bucky just blinked for a second. He wasn’t sure where he’d been going with this, but Rogers’ tone rubbed him off the wrong way. “I didn’t run away,” he said. “I—you made them all stare at me. It was my first week. Do you know how much staring I’d got already?”
“Gee,” Rogers said, so dry the rain could have stopped, “I wonder what it’s like, being the center of attention.”
Bucky wasn’t going to bring it up, he wasn’t, but now here they were. “You might be used to it, but I’m not. And this Daily Rogers thing is completely fucked up, by the way.”
“Did your reading, I see,” Rogers answered, even more deadpan. “Good job bringing yourself up to date. You post anything yet?”
Bucky couldn’t understand why this tiny dude was lashing at him—and his neck was beginning to actually hurt trying not to get a faceful of wet umbrella, whose cold flap was sticking to his head with every other step. “What kind of question is that?”
“Oh, just wonderin’,” Rogers said in a voice so sharply sarcastic it made Bucky bristle even more.
“What are you even—” Bucky swallowed his anger. The whole thing was ridiculous. “And how did you know I was an exchange student anyway?”
Roger shrugged. “You did look completely clueless sitting there.”
“Hey, fuck you, pal,” Bucky said. The umbrella painfully scraped the top of his head and he finally snapped. “Look, are you going to give me the fucking umbrella or what?”
Rogers blinked up at him, looking guarded and defensive all of a sudden. “Why?”
“Because,” Bucky exploded, “it’s the logical thing to do!”
“I can carry a goddamn umbrella,” Rogers said very stiffly.
“You—are missing the point so utterly it’s—Jesus, you know what, I’d rather get soaked.” Bucky ducked under the umbrella and strode off across the grass, stretching his neck and rolling his shoulders ostentiatiously. He hadn’t dried up at all and the rain drenched him anew, cold water trickling down his neck.
He hurried up and didn’t turn back until he’d reached his building. He saw the bright little dome of Rogers’ umbrella from afar, then a renewed downpour wiped it from his sight.
That was the second time Bucky met Steve Rogers.
“This guy,” Bucky was still going on four hours later, toweling off—he’d gotten soaked all over again coming back from class. “I can’t fucking believe this guy. He was so—I was trying to have a civil conversation, and it was like he was waiting for any opportunity to pick a fight.”
“Wow, it does sound like him,” Tony said. “Congratulations, Barnes. You caught a shiny. You met the superstar. The real deal. Did you ask for an autograph? Where did he sign? Take off your shirt. No? Pants, then? Barnes, you naughty—”
“Shut your trap,” Bucky said, throwing the wet towel at him.
“I never heard you talk so much,” Clint grinned from Sam’s bed. “Rogers hit a nerve?”
“I was trying to be nice,” Bucky repeated vehemently, but Clint’s words made him flush. He was making a fool of himself again. He hadn’t raised his voice since he’d set foot on the American territory, but Rogers had somehow cracked that shell.
He realized he was nervously chewing at the dent inside of his cheek and stopped.
“What do you think, Brucie?” Tony asked, poking Bruce with his toe. On the bed, Clint squirmed.
Sitting on the floor, Bruce didn’t look up from his laptop. “I think this just confirms I should never meet him,” he said distractedly.
“Why not?” Sam asked, curious.
Bruce shrugged and said serenely, “Might not agree with my anger issues.”
Bucky snorted and flopped on his bed, burying his face in hands. “Enough sarcasm for today, please.”
“You wanna do what now?”
Bucky shrugged. “You said I should find a student job, right? And it sure beats standing behind a counter all day. Pays really well, too, apparently.”
“Dude,” Sam said, sounding impressed.
Bucky smiled at him a little. “Is that really so weird?”
“It’s not—just, you’re so quiet all the time, no one really knows what to expect.” Sam leaned back in his seat. “That’s some confidence you got there. I know I’m some prime quality man-meat, but those buns are for private consumption only.”
Bucky couldn’t help laughing. “Ah, but us depraved Romanians have no qualms selling our bodies,” he said, forcing his accent. “Haven’t you heard about mail-order brides?”
“Isn’t that Russian?”
“Now you’re just being xenophobic.”
Sam let out a laugh. “I thought you didn’t like being in public, though.”
“I don’t like making a fool of myself,” Bucky shrugged. “Choosing to be the center of attention is different. And they say the students don’t look at you at all. All they see is the, the—artistic object or something.”
“Alright,” Sam said. “So you aren’t nervous?”
I’ve been nervous since I got here, Bucky wanted to say. He knew it didn’t show, but he could feel it, something strung up and tense vibrating under his skin. He was looking for something to make it snap; posing for an art class seemed like a thorough and immediate way to exorcise this particular anxiety.
“Nah,” he said, and Sam left it at that.
God, Bucky was so nervous.
“You’re going to ease into it,” Ms. Carter said. She had the sharpest English accent Bucky had ever heard, slicing her words in precise, well-rounded syllables. She was as tall as him and, with her heels, easily three inches taller; she walked so decisively in the hallway he almost had trouble keeping up.
“Okay,” he said.
“I’m going to give you a robe,” she said as they neared the classroom. “You’ll change in this room, put it on, then come in and undress.”
“Okay,” he said, more weakly. It was all he seemed able to say. This was just stage fright, he knew, but it had planted its claws deep into his gut and wasn’t letting go. He just wanted to start this thing and be done with it.
“I’ve put you with my junior class for your first time,” Carter said. “I’ve known them for three years. They know how to welcome a new model.”
“Okay,” Bucky said again. The door was open; the students were inside and setting up their stuff on their easels.
“One more thing,” Ms. Carter said, and suddenly she was smiling at Bucky in this very particular way which made her lipstick look like fresh human blood. “If any of what happens in this class ends up on the Daily Rogers somehow,” a hint of teeth, “I’ll know it’s you, Mr. Barnes.”
Bucky barely had time to register that before he saw Rogers.
Fucking Steve Rogers absently taking out his watercolors and brushes at the back of the class. None of the other students were paying attention to him, which struck Bucky as a vivid difference from that first day at Starbucks, when the whole room had stared at him like at a bomb about to blow, or a circus monkey expected to do a trick.
Rogers was going to see his naked ass. And paint it.
This had to be a blessing in disguise, thought Bucky weakly, because his anxiety had now reached critical mass to implode into a stunned numbness. He hoped he could ride it out as long as possible.
“Mr. Barnes,” Carter said.
Bucky glanced at her. She was waiting for his answer.
“I have never submitted anything to the Daily Rogers,” he said almost defiantly. “And I never will.”
She smiled again. Her lipstick was really, really red. “Well then,” she said. “I’ll see you in a moment.”
He kept chewing the inside of his cheek while he changed, stopping himself only to start again ten seconds later. He almost forgot to put the robe on before he crossed the hallway. Walking barefoot in a school was weird. He tugged the robe around him, then walked into the classroom and held his breath all the way to the front.
He was turning his back to the class when he divested himself from the robe, which probably helped. Mooning people was a great way to feel less nervous about them.
“Alright,” Carter said. “We’re welcoming a new model today, so we’re starting him off easy.” She turned to Bucky and added, “Now, sit down and spread your legs.”
Bucky actually laughed. This Carter lady had somehow guessed he needed an electroshock here. He exhaled through his nose. He could be cocky, alright. Just imagine they’re just dying to see you. Just imagine they’re getting rock hard or soaking wet looking at you. Even tiny Steve Rogers, fidgeting behind his easel, trying to hide it, to relieve the pressure somehow without—
Whoa there. Bucky did not want to get a boner here. (Jesus, he really needed to get laid.) Thankfully, he was too nervous to actually be in danger of showing anything. He sat on the stool, grabbing it with his hands behind his back to steady himself, spread his legs—not obscenely so; just like he would’ve sat on a normal stool in normal clothing—and tilted his chin up, looking right at Steve fucking Rogers.
Who wasn’t even looking at him. He was already focused on his easel. All the students were.
Bucky’s stage fright vanished like it had never been there, and he exhaled in one big whoosh. There. He wasn’t getting struck by lightning.
He turned his head to look at Carter, who smiled at him, then gestured at him to go back to his original position. Shit—he hurriedly complied, staring ahead again, feeling strangely exhilarated. All these people were looking at him naked. He was naked in a room full of people. He repeated these words in his head until they didn’t even make sense anymore, and then he fully realized there was nothing to be scared of, not even skinny Steve Rogers who kept on drawing Bucky without the slightest hint of a sneer or smirk.
Rogers was tense, though, Bucky realized after a minute. The relatively relaxed state he’d been in before had gotten thrown out the window the minute Bucky had walked in. Hell, he looked tenser than Bucky had been a minute ago.
Fifteen minutes later, Carter asked Bucky to change position. With one leg folded, he was hiding his groin and looking away. This could’ve been a relief, and he supposed the position was also intended as a reprieve from the attention; but he really didn’t care either way, now. This was a student job, and he’d been right: he liked it better than serving coffee. Staring at the wall got pretty boring after a while, though. Thankfully, Carter made him change again after another fifteen minutes, and he found himself staring at Rogers again.
He was really so different from the last time, as though trying to make himself even smaller, for once. When he looked up, he caught Bucky looking and quickly glanced away.
All of a sudden, Bucky felt unexpectedly bad.
Carter had specifically asked him to stay away from that fucking Tumblr. This Daily Rogers business really was messed up, if Rogers’ teacher felt the need to issue rules against her students joining in. Exactly how much was it weighing on his life, if Rogers’ only refuge from it was in this room? How stressful could it be, to know that the whole campus was monitoring his every move, expecting him to blow a fuse, wanting him to blow a fuse?
What had he said to Bucky again? Gee, I wonder what it’s like being the center of attention.
Bucky hadn’t really listened. He’d seen the pictures of Rogers, heard of all the reckless things he did, and figured he must get off on the attention somehow. But now he understood a bit better why Rogers had been so ready to go for the jugular during their short-lived trip under the rain. He was still a pissy little bobcat, but—he had reasons to be. Bucky… Bucky hadn’t even given him the benefit of doubt, even though he’d disliked the idea of this obsessional blog from the start.
This was obviously Rogers’ safe place, and Bucky was ruining it for him.
“Alright, let’s take a short break,” Carter suddenly said, and a few brushes were put down, even though most of the students kept working on the finer details. Bucky snapped out of it and looked at her.
“Everything alright, Mr. Barnes?”
“Yeah,” Bucky said. “You get, uh. Used to it. Can I—?” He gestured at the easels scattered in the room, and Carter nodded. “They’re meant to be seen,” she said. “Go on, stretch your legs.”
Bucky got up, slipped on the robe—without tugging it tight around himself this time—and stepped down from the wooden platform. The students were chatting between each other now, save for Rogers, who looked content being ignored. He stiffened at Bucky’s approach.
“Hey,” Bucky said awkwardly.
“Hello,” Rogers answered in a clipped voice.
“Can I, uh, see?”
Rogers didn’t relax at all. “Be my guest.”
Bucky slipped behind the easel and didn’t even look at Rogers’ painting. Obviously, Rogers had guessed it was an excuse—unmoving, glaring at his easel, he was expecting a fight.
“I didn’t know you’d be here,” Bucky said, “I really didn’t. Carter put me with the juniors for my first time, but I can ask to be with the sophomores from now on, if you want.”
“It’s fine,” Rogers said, still stiff as hell and stubborn as fuck, staring at his own painting.
“I’m sorry, alright?” he said quietly.
Rogers froze, then blinked up at him, looking uncertain for the first time since Bucky had met him. His eyes were really blue, with freakishly long lashes.
“I’m sorry,” Bucky repeated. “I guess I’ve been kind of a dick. Um, with the whole Starbucks thing. And then last time under the rain. You’ve got—I know you were actually trying to help me both times, is what I’m saying. And now I’m here and I feel like I’m intruding on your thing.”
Rogers still wasn’t saying anything, so Bucky let his eyes wander and found himself staring at Rogers’ painting of him. It was all light brushes of colored water, almost abstract; smooth lines somehow painting the exact shape of his body, nude but in no way naked—if that even made sense. His first position was pretty detailed, his second and third a little less.
“Whoa,” he blurted, enthralled. “This—shit. This is really good.”
Rogers looked down, then away again. “No need to butter me up.”
“No, I fucking mean it,” Bucky said. “Wait—ah, here—see this guy?”
Rogers frowned. “Richards?”
“Yeah. His painting is shit. I mean, look at it. My nose doesn’t look like that at all.”
“It’s a study of your leg.”
“My point still stands.”
Rogers actually—actually cracked a small smile. It was wry and twisted but it was there. Bucky grinned at him, as though to lure a brighter one out, then looked at Rogers’ study again. “Hey, at least you got my cock right.”
Rogers flushed hot, which Bucky couldn’t help finding cute even as he thought shit, way to make it weird—but then Rogers mumbled, “Be thankful I tend to paint things bigger.”
Bucky gasped in a dramatic telenovela fashion. “How dare you! Rogers, if you’re implying—I will flash you right now. I will.” He started undoing the belt of his robe and, miraculously, Rogers stifled another smile.
“Alright, to your seats,” Carter called.
Shit—Bucky still hadn’t said the most important part. He glanced over the easel to signal her he was coming, then looked back at Rogers. “Seriously, pal, look,” he added quickly, lowering his voice again. “I will never post a fucking thing on that Tumblr.”
Rogers stiffened all over again, but some things needed to be said, so Bucky went on. “Even if you threw your water at me right now, brushes and all, I would never do it,” he said. “I’d be pissed as hell but it’d stay between us. As it should be.”
Rogers didn’t move, didn’t say anything, stubbornly staring at a fixed point on the wall.
“Right,” Bucky said, frustrated. “Good talk,” and he went back to his stool.
That was the third time he met Steve Rogers.
“So how was it?” Carter asked.
Bucky had insisted to stay and help her fold the few easels the students hadn’t put away themselves. He was still in his robe, but his nervousness was gone. He was thinking about Rogers so much—about how he’d clammed up all over again the second Bucky had mentioned a potential weakness of his—that he almost thought Carter was asking about him.
“The session,” he caught himself at the last second. “Yeah, it went great. I can do the sophomores next time.”
“Really,” she answered, arching a perfect eyebrow.
“Yeah. Works better with my schedule anyway,” he said, and that was that.
The next night was a Tony Stark night, as he’d himself announced with obvious glee. Bucky, Sam and Clint had been building up to it the whole week.
It promised to be big. Although he wasn’t part of any fraternities on campus, Stark had somehow managed to get the Gamma Ray Gamma frat house for the night. Which gave Bucky an idea of exactly how wealthy he was—he’d vaguely thought Tony sharing a name with Howard Stark was a freaky coincidence, but he should have known better.
He wondered what Georges Barnes would say if he heard that his son was going to a party thrown by his rival’s son. Probably wouldn’t give a flying fuck. He still hadn’t called Bucky since the divorce, and Bucky hadn’t tried to call him.
“So, what should I be expecting?” Bucky asked as they crossed the campus.
“Booze,” said Clint. “Lots and lots of booze. Bits of puke? Tons of girls. Better watch your glass, man.”
Bucky shrugged. If someone tried to fuck him tonight, they wouldn’t need to drug his beer. He hadn’t gotten laid in forever, and jerking off in the shower wasn’t his favorite pastime.
This was something Bucky and Sam had never discussed. Bucky was almost certain Sam was too good to take issue with his roommate being gay. But—you never really know. This Bucky had learned the hard way. So, well, he’d come out if the occasion called for it.
He picked up a flyer on their way and frowned at the enthusiastic presentation of the fraternity. GRG was, to put it plainly, a nerd gathering. Their focus was on biophysics and astrophysics, and they were actually one of the rare mixed-gender frats out there, with some chick named Jane Foster as the president, and Bruce fucking Banner as the social chair. Bucky hadn’t pegged him as an event planner—or as a fucking frat boy, for that matter, although that made a little more sense now that he’d read that flyer. They were the classy kind.
At least now he knew why Stark was hosting the event there.
“Stark isn’t part of the frat, right?” he asked.
“Nope,” Sam said. “He’s in engineering. Doesn’t belong to GRG.”
“But then why are Banner and him roommates? I thought frat boys bunked together.”
“Banner stayed with him.”
“Okay,” Bucky said, “but why are Banner and Stark friends again? They had so many opportunities to be the worst roommates in the world.”
“No one really knows,” Sam answered good-naturedly, then climbed up the stairs leading to the front door. Bass could be heard thrumming inside; the windows were pulsing with colors. “C’mon, Barnes. It’s party time.”
A girl with strawberry blond hair and a beer in her hand opened the door and grinned widely at them. “Sam, hey,” she said, “you made it. Hello, James.”
“It’s just Bucky,” Bucky said quickly.
“What am I, chopped liver?” Clint said.
“Bruce and Tony are already pretty smashed,” she said, then giggled in a way which meant she wasn’t exactly sober herself.
Huh. So Banner was something of a regular frat boy after all, Bucky thought.
“We got a huge turn-up so it started early. Hey—” she winked at Sam and added conspiratorially, “you-know-who is there.”
“What? Pepper, who’s that?” Clint exclaimed. “Sam!”
“Shut the fuck up, Barton,” Sam said, and escaped inside the house, with Barton running after him and yelling “Who is it? Who is she? Wilson, come back here!”
“Five-year-olds,” Pepper said, still grinning. “C’mon.”
Bucky smiled, then followed her inside. People were dancing all over the place, sometimes standing on couches or tables. The music was so loud it was difficult to speak in the common areas, and the hallways were chock-full of people who were tired of shouting to hear each other on the dance floor. Clint and Sam had stopped by the stairs. Clint was wincing and tilting his head from side to side; eventually, he shrugged and took out his hearing aids, then shot Sam a grin as if to say, “We’re not done yet.” He grabbed Pepper by the hand and pulled her on the dance floor, and she followed with a laugh.
“So, what was that all about?” Bucky yelled in Sam’s ear as they crossed the room to get to the bowl of punch.
“Barton is partially deaf,” Sam answered in the same tone. “Didn’t notice?”
“Of course I did, you deflecting asshole,” Bucky shouted. He elbowed someone out of the way—they didn’t even care, or notice—and grabbed a red plastic cup, filling it with punch. “Who’s the girl?”
Sam opened his mouth, then laughed and looked down, shaking his head. “Romanov, alright?”
“Your Russian tutor?” Bucky said, grinning like a madman.
“Fuck you, dude,” Sam said, but he couldn’t stop smiling.
“Where is she?” Bucky said, looking around to spot the firetruck red of Romanov’s hair. The wild colors pulsing in the darkened frat house didn’t help with anything, but he had good eyes.
He stopped abruptly. Sam looked up at him. “What?”
“Fucking Steve Rogers is here!” Bucky yelled.
It was true: Rogers and Romanov were chatting by the counter. Bucky couldn’t see them very well with the swarm of dancing people in the way, but it looked like Rogers was smiling his tiny crooked thing of a smile. He’d rolled up the sleeves of his white button-up, revealing abstract geometric tattoos on his forearms, and he was still wearing his huge black-rimmed hipster glasses.
“Oh yeah,” Sam said. “Why not?”
Bucky wasn’t sure why he was so surprised. It wasn’t like the whole campus universally hated Rogers’ guts. Still, the guy was so strung-up and defensive in public Bucky would’ve never pegged him as the party type. He yelled that to Sam, who shrugged in half-agreement.
“Romanov must have dragged him here,” he shouted back.
“Are they dating?”
“Man, I hope not.”
Bucky grinned and lifted his cup so they could drink to that. At this moment, Uptown Funk came on and Bucky decided a night of wild dancing was long overdue.
He loved dancing. He really did. The music was so loud and the flashing lights so bright he had no problem losing himself into it. He was swapping dance partners as he went, dancing with whoever would meet his eyes and answer with a smile. After a while of rhythmic clapping and stomping his feet and generally getting sweaty and breathless, he found himself dancing with a guy with really bright eyes and a devilish smile.
“I’m Remy,” he shouted over the loud music, but all Bucky heard was, I’m interested. He wanted to dance more, hadn’t exhausted his need to move yet, but this night was getting really interesting. Everyone was drunk, everyone was busy, and Bucky felt safe enough to actually make a move on this guy.
Two songs later, Remy’s hand had migrated to the back pocket of Bucky’s jeans. A pleasant buzz was running through his body, and he knew Tony had left rooms open upstairs for the exact purpose they all had in mind, and if this guy had condoms, Bucky was ready to take this show on the road. Nobody was looking at them. Maybe he could even get Remy to hold him down while they fucked. He dragged himself closer, with the vague intention to nibble at Remy’s ear and maybe shout a proposition into it—and of course, that was when he saw, over Remy’s shoulder, Rogers getting manhandled off his bar stool.
Romanov was nowhere to be seen; everyone else was too horny or inebriated or both to notice. Rogers got physically dragged out of the house and the front door closed behind him.
“I’ll be right back,” Bucky yelled, and ducked under Remy’s arm to wedge his way through the mass of more and more uncoordinated dancers.
Why do I even care, he asked himself, trying to think of Remy, of the missed opportunity—but he still made his way across the room and staggered to the door. He was a lot drunker than he thought, but the icy cold of the night hit him like a sledgehammer and slapped the haze out of his vision.
He looked around. Everything was still and silent, save for the laughs and yells and muffled bass heard through the thick windows. Bucky shuddered and rubbed at his arms. Rogers and the other guy were nowhere to be seen. Maybe he’d overreacted—
“Are you seriously getting up again?” sighed a hard voice, so close Bucky almost jumped. There was a loud clanging noise, like someone being pushed into a bunch of trashcans.
“I can do this all day.” That was Rogers. He sounded out of breath, almost wheezing. Another scuffling noise, then a muffled thump followed by a cry of pain.
“It’s really not that complicated. You wear your funky shirts all you want, Rogers, but stay out of my fucking way with your White Knight bullshit. Got it?”
Bucky just stood there like an idiot. They were just around the corner, in the back alley behind the GRG frat house.
Something broke inside, a glass or a plate or something, and everyone whooped in joy, laughing and shouting. Bucky could feel the thrumming bass of the music in his gut, but all he could hear was the sounds coming from the alley, the cracks and thumps of someone getting beat up.
“Christ—don’t get up again, Steve, you’re wasting both of our times here.”
Another noise, a crack, and another cry.
“Jesus, this is like hitting a kid. That how you managed to stay alive all these years? People pity you too much to actually punch you?”
“See you got a lot of experience punching kids,” Rogers panted.
“Rogers, c’mon. Do you really want me to break your other arm?”
There was a buzz in Bucky’s ears and he found himself running down the stairs before he even realized what he was doing. “Steve!”
Shit—what an idiot, he—and then his mouth kept running as if it had a mind of its own. “Steve,” he repeated, slowing his pace, making himself stumble over the gravel. “Steve. Where are you, Steve?” He was getting into it. “Steve, they’re all lookin’ f’r you.” Swaying a little on his feet to make it more real. Giggling, like Pepper had giggled at the beginning of the night. Like it was all just so fucking funny. “Steve, are you there?”
He almost physically ran into Rumlow who was coming out of the narrow alley.
“Whoa,” Bucky said, staggering back. “Hey, you’re not Steve. D’you know where Steve is?”
“Not here,” Rumlow said dryly.
“But I heard his voice,” Bucky drawled, pretending to have to hold onto Rumlow’s jacket not to fall.
“Dude, let go. You’re plastered. Go back inside and sleep it off.”
“I’m not drunk!” Bucky said loudly.
Over Rumlow’s shoulder, he caught sight of Rogers. He was getting up on wobbling legs. The blood on his face looked grotesquely vivid, like in a B-rated horror movie. Bucky had never seen anything like that. Christ, Bucky had never gotten in a fight in his life.
“M’not drunk,” he said, wondering what the fuck he was gonna do. “Hey, it’s Steve! Hi Steve!”
“Hey,” Rumlow said, shoving him. “Walk away now.”
Bucky looked at him with wide eyes. “Christ. Oh, dude, what—what’s that on your shirt?”
“What?” Rumlow said, eyes flicking down—and then Bucky headbutted him.
He’d always vaguely thought headbutting someone couldn’t be as easy as it looked in the movies, but it really was. His forehead crushed Rumlow’s nose at an awkward angle; Rumlow staggered back, mouth open, then fell to the ground with a yelp.
“Jesus!” he shouted, holding his nose. Thick, dark blood gushed out of it and over his mouth and chin, making him splutter. “What the fuck, you fucking motherfucker!”
He scrambled back to his feet, grabbed Bucky’s upper arms and shoved him into the brick. “I’m going to kill you, you cocksucking little shit!”
Bucky was paralyzed. Belatedly, he tried to free himself, but Rumlow was already drawing back his arm—and then Rogers smashed a trash can lid over his head.
Rumlow staggered back again, fell down on his ass, and stayed there—he didn’t pass out, but he looked a little stunned this time. Rogers dropped the lid and Bucky grabbed his arm. “Let’s get the fuck out of here,” he said. “Come on!”
They ran away from the frat house and under the sparse trees adorning the patch of grass nearby, until Rogers made them stop and folded in half, hands on his knees, wheezing for good this time. He sounded like he couldn’t actually breathe; he dug in his pocket for some kind of plastic thingy which he pushed into his mouth.
It was an inhaler—Jesus, he was asthmatic. Bucky just gaped at him while Rogers painfully got his breath back.
A few hoarse minutes later, Rogers managed to take a breath which actually sounded like something, and stiffly straightened up. His face was a bloody mess, which he made even messier by wiping his mouth on his arm. Streaks of red dirtied his geometrical tattoos; blood was dripping on his collar. He was holding his glasses in one hand; by some kind of miracle, they didn’t look broken. He must have taken them off ahead.
He swiped his bloody nose again, then panted, “Are you okay?”
This was the last fucking thing Bucky was expecting. “Am I—am I okay?” he repeated. “What kind of question is that?”
“I don’t know,” Rogers protested. “Why’d you freeze up like that?”
Bucky gaped at him for a second, then yelled, “Because I never got into a fight before, you weirdo!”
Rogers blinked at him.
“Jesus Christ, don’t look so fucking surprised!” Bucky said. “It’s not a normal thing people do!”
He realized he was shaking, with adrenaline and shock and retroactive fear. Rogers was frowning at him, now. “You—” he shuddered with cold, but his accusing look didn’t go away. “You’re not drunk.”
“What?” Bucky said, taken off guard again, breathing quickly. “No, of course I’m not drunk.”
“So, what, were you trying to—” Rogers scrunched his nose. “—con your way into a fight?”
“I was trying to con you out of it!”
Rogers’s expression turned colder. “I had him on the ropes,” he said stiffly.
“He said he was going to break your arm again!” A sudden thought hit Bucky. “Shit, is your arm broken? Oh, fuck, do you need to go to the hospital?”
“Calm down,” Rogers said. He shuddered again. “My arm isn’t broken.”
“Yeah? Wonder how you can tell, at this point,” Bucky said, half hysterical sarcasm and half serious. Rogers was a goddamn mess. The first two buttons of his blood-stained shirt were gone, and his hair was streaked with dirt and what might be garbage juice.
“I’m sure,” Rogers said, shuddering again. He still hadn’t quite caught his breath, puffing clouds of steam in the freezing air. “He was talking about last time.”
“Last time?” Something clicked in Bucky’s memory. “Wait. You didn’t break it rescuing a cat from a tree?”
Rogers looked up at him, surprise morphing into a hard glare. “Fuck off,” he said in a voice vibrating with anger.
“No, I—dude,” Bucky said, grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him, once. “Hey. Can you cut me some slack for a minute? Please.”
Rogers just stared, wary, but didn’t say anything.
“I’m not—I’m not laughing at you,” Bucky said. “I swear. I actually thought the cat story was a thing.”
He waited, but Rogers’ expression didn’t really change, even though he grew slightly less tense under Bucky’s hands. He was so ready to attack at all times something inside Bucky ached.
“I’m sorry,” Bucky said, and that made Rogers look away.
“Alright, fine,” he muttered. “Leggo already.”
Bucky let go of him, a bit awkwardly. There was a silence, while Rogers shuddered and Bucky finally managed to calm down a little.
“What the fuck was up with tall, dark and asshole, anyway?” he asked after a while.
Rogers shrugged, and squared his jaw—probably not to let his teeth chatter. “He put something into a girl’s drink,” he muttered, then winced as if something hurt. Hell, his everything must hurt, at this point.
“He did what?” Bucky said, aghast. “Did she drink it?”
“No, the glass ended up on the floor,” Rogers muttered. “No one else saw.”
“But how—no, okay, you know what, we gotta sit you down first,” Bucky said, anxious. Rogers looked dangerously close to collapsing; he was continuously shaking with cold, now, and he looked like he still had trouble breathing.
“I’m fine,” he said.
Bucky raised his eyebrows. “You sure?” he said. “‘Cause you appear to be full of shit. Where I come from, it’s a serious condition.”
Rogers blinked at him, as if he was trying to decide whether to get offended or not.
“Come on,” Bucky said. “It’s not far. Please.”
Rogers winced, but followed him across the dark wet grass, to Bucky’s great relief. Now that the adrenaline was seeping out, Rogers was walking even more stiffly. The ground was sloping in a gentle hill, and it was enough to make him breathless again.
“You’re in Winters?” he panted, looking at the dark shape of the dorm looming in the distance.
“Yeah,” Bucky said. “You?”
“Lehigh,” Rogers said. Well, that settled it—his dorm was on the other side of campus.
Rogers was losing his breath for good, now, and Bucky almost asked him if he wanted to take a break, but then thought twice about it and just stopped walking. Rogers stopped at once, too, and took another few whiffs from his inhaler. Then he glared at Bucky again as if daring him to laugh.
“You’re completely crazy,” Bucky informed him. He sounded a little impressed to his own ears.
Rogers’ expression softened just a little. “Fuck off,” he mumbled again, but it didn’t have any bite to it this time.
He put his inhaler away, then they started walking again across the patch of grass. Bucky could see the lights of his dorm; it had never seemed so far.
“I don’t know your name,” Rogers said, staring at the ground as he walked.
Bucky blinked. “You don’t?”
He was certain he’d told him. Hadn’t he told him?
Rogers raised an eyebrow at him. “Why? Are you campus famous too?”
“Yeah,” Bucky snapped back. “Haven’t you heard about this Tumblr? The Daily Buck. It’s all just pictures of my ass.”
Rogers’ lips twitched into what was almost a smile. “Your name is Buck?”
“It’s Bucky,” said Bucky. “Bucky Barnes. Well, that’s not really my name—it’s short for Buchanan. Which isn’t my name either.”
“That clears it up,” Steve rasped.
Then he fell to his knees and threw up in the grass.
“Shit,” Bucky hissed. Steve’s skinny body was convulsing like a giant hand was squeezing it. “Shit!”
Steve raised a hand to placate him and coughed out the last of it; then he cleared his throat, gulped down an erratic lungful of air.
“I’m okay,” he rasped hoarsely. “It’s okay. I knew it was coming.” He wiped his mouth. He did look weirdly casual about the whole thing, even though he was so out of breath he sounded like he was dying. “It always happens when they kick me in the stomach.”
What the actual fuck is this guy.
“I take it back. You’re not crazy,” Bucky said, helping him up. “You’re suicidal.”
“Am not,” Rogers said vaguely. It was a testament to how weak he was that he didn’t even refuse Bucky’s help. Bucky didn’t like how cold his skin was, and tried to walk a little faster. Together, they hobbled to Bucky’s dorm, and he slipped inside the warm building with intense relief.
His room was on the third floor; he called the elevator and gave Rogers a worried glance. Under the harsh lights of the hallway, he looked even worse for wear. His right eye was rapidly swelling.
“Why were you even looking for me?” Rogers asked.
The doors opened with a ding. “What?” Bucky asked, ushering him inside.
“Why were you looking for me,” Rogers repeated, leaning against the elevator’s wall. “You came out yelling my name.”
“I saw Rumlow drag you out,” Bucky said, pressing the button and letting the doors close.
Rogers scowled at him. “I don’t need a guardian angel.”
“Neither do I,” Bucky said, unimpressed. “You still yelled at him for me on my first week, I recall, and got pissed when I dared to complain. So kiss my ass, dude.”
Rogers blinked at him again.
The doors opened on the third floor, and Bucky dug in his pockets for the key. He opened the door, then said, “I don’t have a first-aid kit in here. I’m gonna go ask the RA. Are you sure you don’t need a hospital?”
“I’m fine,” Rogers said again. “S’just a few bruises.”
“Crazy,” Bucky repeated, then went to knock on the RA’s door. It was two long minutes before it opened on a rather tall, rather blond senior who looked vaguely annoyed, even though he obviously hadn’t been sleeping—still impeccably dressed although it was almost two in the morning.
“Yes?” he said.
“Hey, Edwin,” Bucky said. “Do you have that first-aid kit?”
“Certainly,” Jarvis said. He picked it up behind his door and gave it to Bucky. “Bring it back when you’re done.” And he closed the door in his face.
“I don’t have the most dedicated RA,” Bucky said, coming back, “but that should do the…”
He stopped talking. Rogers had fallen asleep on his bed.
Bucky blinked at him for a few seconds, then he started laughing, a bit hysterically maybe, muffling it in his fist. This wasn’t what he had in mind when he was thinking of taking a guy to bed.
It took him a while to calm down; as far as freak-outs went, he guessed it was a bit more dignified than hyperventilating or uncontrollable sobbing. Eventually, he managed to take a deep breath and looked up, tired smile still on his lips. Rogers was fast asleep. What a fucking idiot. They hadn’t even put ice on his bruises or anything.
Bucky slowly got up, slipped off Rogers’ shoes and socks and grabbed an extra blanket in the closet to cover him up. Then he stuffed himself into Sam’s bed and all but passed out.
A shuffling noise woke him up. He blinked, frowned, wondering why the light was on the wrong side of his bed. Then it all came rushing back and he sat up, blinking. Shit, his head hurt.
Steve was sitting on his bed. He’d taken off his tattered shirt, crusty with brown blood, and he was wiping his chest and shoulders with a hand towel. The cut on his forehead was held shut with surgical stripes, and his bruises were glistening a little as if he’d rubbed something on them. When he heard Bucky shuffle around, he didn’t look up, but his back got a little tenser.
“I think I got blood all over your bed,” he said. “Sorry about that.”
“What are you doing?” Bucky said, unable to fight off a yawn but trying to frown at him at the same time.
Steve glanced at him, a quick blue flash before he cast his eyes down again. “Thought it’d be pretty self-explanatory.”
“No, I mean, what are you doing,” Bucky said. “Go take a shower. It’s,” he checked Sam’s alarm clock, “seven in the morning on a fucking Sunday, you’ll find one free.”
“This isn’t my dorm,” Steve mumbled.
Bucky blinked and opened his mouth to ask, so what? Then he thought twice about it. “Would people give you shit about that?”
“Being seen in another dorm’s showers on a Sunday morning, with my face bashed in?” Steve said. “Yeah, you bet.”
“Jesus,” Bucky said emphatically.
Steve didn’t look up, still wiping blood off his neck and collarbones. He’d ruffled his hair already, leaving it fluffy and wet like duck feathers, and the abstract tattoos on his forearms were clean as well. His lashes caught the first rays of the sun, looking strangely delicate over his cheekbones. He had a black eye, a split lip, and purpled bruises along the side of his face, even more jarring now that he’d wiped the blood off his face. Without his tattered shirt, he looked even more skinny, bird bones jutting out under the skin.
Bucky realized his throat was closing up and quickly swallowed. Oh God. This really wasn’t what he was expecting to get out of the night.
Steve put down the towel and grabbed his shirt. When Bucky realized he wanted to put it back on, he got up and haphazardly shuffled to his closet, pulling out a hoodie from under the pile. He gave it to Steve, who blinked at him again, as though this whole morning was as surreal for him as it was for Bucky.
Bucky vaguely shrugged. “Condolences for your shirt, man.”
Steve was shivering; he took the hoodie with a tiny forced smile. “Thanks.”
He put the shirt aside and quickly pulled the hoodie on, ruffling his mussed hair even more. Of course, it was way too big for him, but he didn’t seem to mind. He took his glasses on the bed and began wiping the lenses with the inside of the sleeve.
Bucky watched him do it for a second, then had to look away—his throat was getting a little dry here. He grabbed his phone on his way back to Sam’s bed and looked at his texts, plonking down on the mattress. There was one from Tony, 3:12am (Barnes, are you hooking up with Rogers??? Sam says he’s in your room) and another one from Sam, 3:19 (Saw you were in my bed, went back to GRG to sleep there. You’re doing my laundry this week, man.)
And then a third one, from an unknown number. Call me back at once or I’ll call the cops.
Bucky, like the hungover idiot he was, called the number back. “…Hi?”
A feminine voice cut through his morning haze. “Where is he?”
“Uh—I—what? Who is this?”
“This is Natasha fucking Romanov and I want to talk to Steve.”
“Romanov?” Bucky repeated, baffled, but then Steve launched himself at him and pried the phone out of his hand. Bucky was too astonished to do anything else than topple back into the mattress, and Steve himself too busy to talk into the phone to get off him.
“Natasha,” he was saying, “Natasha, calm down. I’m okay, I’m fine. Yes. No, I—no! Look, I would know, okay? No, my phone was—low battery. Yes. I swear I’m okay. Look, let’s just—yes. Yeah. Yeah, okay, fine, I’ll meet you in—” He winced when she presumably hung up on him.
There was a very awkward silence. Steve appeared to notice he was basically sitting on Bucky and shuffled back to sit next to him instead. He was so light Bucky almost couldn’t tell the difference.
“Jeeze,” Bucky said, propping himself up on his elbows. “Your girlfriend doesn’t fuck around.”
“She’s not my girlfriend,” Steve mumbled, handing him the phone back. “She, uh, she’s the one who drove me to the hospital when Rumlow broke my arm that first time. She’s a bit protective now.”
Bucky stared at him. Steve—and when had Bucky started to think of him as Steve?—looked fucking adorable in Bucky’s hoodie, with his stupid glasses and his pink lips. He’d also left Bucky’s bed completely covered in blood and dirt after attempting to fight a guy twice his size. Who’d broken his arm before and threatened to do it again.
“I think I understand a bit better why they made a whole Tumblr about you,” Bucky said.
Steve bristled all over again. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Bucky looked heavenwards. “Somethin’ nice, Rogers.”
Steve looked—well, he looked puzzled. Like he didn’t know what to do with that.
Bucky vaguely wondered how much of that was nature and how much nurture—a little guy like Steve would be used to fight his way through life, sure; but most of them learned to lay low after a while, learned to accept that life was unfair and that big guys always had their way. Steve absolutely fucking hadn’t learned any of that.
“Hey, where’d you get your tattoos?” Bucky asked. “They’re cool. Kinda nerdy.”
“I—” Steve still looked disoriented. “Um. High school?”
Bucky raised his eyebrows. “High school?”
“Yeah. I, um, let a friend practice on me. It was supposed to be just a star and then it got… blown out of proportion.”
Bucky could see it now, the star on the inside Steve’s wrist with simple black lines, which had just kept growing, intersecting themselves all around his slender forearm to trace an abstract structure of triangles.
“What,” he frowned. “You mean you didn’t even want them?”
“I did,” Steve said quickly. He was flushing. “Just. Didn’t care too much about the design, I guess.”
Bucky decided to drop it. He couldn’t hope to understand all of Steve Rogers in one morning. Especially not hungover.
“Hey,” Steve said, without looking at him.
Bucky was still half-slouching and sat a bit straighter on the edge of the bed to be at eye level with him.
“Why’d you stop modeling for art class?”
Bucky paused, then shrugged. “You didn’t want me there, buddy.”
Steve—what a fucking surprise—got prickly again. ‘’I told you you could stay,” he said, jaw set. “I told you I didn’t have a problem with you around.”
“Yeah, and you’re a terrible fucking liar,” Bucky said. “You should have seen your face when I walked in. All stoic and grim like you were getting ready to endure hellfire for the rest of the semester.”
“You could have stayed,” Steve repeated, quieter.
Bucky looked at him. “Hey, I’ve got a question for you,” he said.
Steve glanced at him, then away, then down. “Yeah?”
“Why doesn’t anybody know Rumlow broke your arm?”
Steve fell silent.
“No one saw,” he said eventually. “It was in freshman year. I had actually climbed a tree earlier that same week, so. The story got mashed as an explanation on the Daily Rogers somehow. People didn’t question it ‘cause it was fun and dumb.”
“Haven’t you tried reporting him?” Bucky said, incredulous.
“Couldn’t prove it was him.”
“No, but, for, like, the drugging drinks stuff?”
“Sure,” Steve said tiredly. “But no student ever got indicted for rape around here. Something about upholding reputation.” His lips twisted bitterly. “You know.”
Bucky didn’t know what to say to that.
There was a silence for a little while, then Steve sucked in a breath again. “So, um. Where are you from?”
“I,” Bucky said, puzzled at the sudden shift in conversation. “Romania.”
“Oh,” was all Steve had to say. He thought for a second, then said, “And… do you like it here?”
Bucky smirked. “You’re crap at this.”
“Yeah, well,” Steve said, blushing and glaring down, “rumor has it making friends isn’t one of my talents.”
“Dunno,” Bucky said, “it’s working alright with me.”
Steve looked up again. He looked like he was expecting Bucky to be laughing at him, and Bucky—Jesus, he just wanted him to relax already. “Dude,” he said, “You puked on my shoes and bled all over my bed. In Romania, it means eternal friendship.”
“I’m starting to think you don’t actually know anything about Romania,” Steve said.
Bucky grinned wider. “Well, Americans sure don’t, so I can definitely say whatever I want.”
Steve finally laughed, and it made Bucky feel like he’d won all the gold medals since the beginning of the Olympics. He was going to say something when the door opened on Sam, who still managed to look better than the two of them combined even though he’d probably slept even less.
“Oh, hey,” he said when he saw Steve. He reached out. “Glad to see you alive, man. Sam Wilson.”
“Uh—hi,” Steve said, getting up to shake Sam’s hand. “Steve Rogers.”
“Yeah, I kind of put that together,” Sam said. He was smiling, and Steve didn’t even get tense; he even smiled back, albeit a bit wanly. How was Sam doing that? wondered Bucky for the hundredth time this semester, a little desperately. Everyone smiled easily for Sam.
“So… hate to intrude,” Sam said, “but why are you guys on my bed?”
“’Cause mine’s a little bloody,” Bucky said. “Not that I’m throwing stones or anything.”
“I’ll wash your sheets,” Steve mumbled, prouder than a wet cat.
“Hell, no,” Sam said. “Do not do this man’s laundry. He needs all the practice he can get.”
“You tryna imply something here, Wilson?” Bucky drawled.
“I’m trying to imply that I want you off my goddamn bed, but you don’t seem to be taking the hint.”
Steve quickly got up, while Bucky took his time and leaned on the side of his own bed, watching Sam kneel down to open the drawer underneath his bed and pull out a towel and a bottle of liquid soap.
“How come you’re back so soon from GRG?” Bucky asked.
“We all are,” Sam said. “Barton realized he’d lost his hearing aids around four am.”
“What?” Bucky asked. “Did he find them?”
“Nope,” Sam said. “And I really need a shower right now, but the others are in the common room drinking Jarvis’ insomnia coffee if you want the full story.”
“Coffee,” Bucky said fervently.
“No, Barnes, I do mean coffee,” Sam said, smirking a little. “The black kind. Without any of that pumpkin spice nonsense.”
“Coffee,” Bucky repeated, in a more chagrined tone, but, well. It’d have to do for now.
Sam rolled his eyes, pushed the drawer shut and got up. “You owe me a story later, Barnes,” he said with a pointed look. “Nice meeting you, man,” he added to Steve before vanishing towards the showers.
“Roommate?” Steve asked unnecessarily.
“Yeah,” Bucky yawned, “the best kind. Don’t tell him I said that.” He blinked blearily, then nodded towards the door. “You comin’?”
“Steve, these are my friends,” Bucky said. “Will ya relax already, Christ.”
Two and half minutes later, Bucky could only bury his face in his hands as Tony slurred “Oh my God, it’s really him—he’s even smaller in person. Wha’ happened to his face? Why is he wearing your hoodie?”
“Pay no attention to him,” Bruce said from the corner, pouring himself coffee, “he’s still drunk.”
He looked even more rumpled than usual after his sleepless night. Tony was on his stomach on the couch, looking like he was slightly stunned by the sheer amount of alcohol in his bloodstream.
“Coffee?” offered Bruce.
“Uh,” Steve said stiffly. “I… yeah. Thanks.”
Bruce poured him a cup, then went back to the other couch to sit next to Clint, who looked downright miserable. He gave a brief smile at Bruce when he squeezed his shoulder, then went back to frowning into his coffee.
“You alright, man?” Bucky said, coming closer.
“He can’t hear you, genius,” Tony slurred from the couch.
Clint kept staring ahead and only looked up when he caught sight of Bucky. He winced, then gestured to his ears.
“The thing is, he won’t speak, and he won’t text, either,” Bruce said. He looked slightly anxious, for the first time since Bucky had met him. “I’m not sure what to do.”
Clint made a frustrated gesture, then suddenly raised his eyebrows as he looked behind Bucky, who turned round. Steve was coming towards them, paper cup in hand.
“Can you hold this?” he asked Bucky.
“Uh, sure, but—” Bucky watched in bafflement as Steve did something with his hands, with an unsure look on his face.
Clint blinked again, then his face lit up and his hands were suddenly flying all over the place. Steve responded in kind, looking a little more assured.
“You know sign language?” Bucky asked, stunned.
Even Tony cracked an eye open. “What?”
“Oh, thank God. What’s he saying?” Bruce said hurriedly.
“Uh,” Steve said, obviously trying to keep up, “that the music was too loud so he put the aids in his pocket and they fell out… probably somewhere in the GRG house…” Clint was signing effusively and Steve gestured several times at him to slow down. “He’s got spares but they’re in his room… and his roommate locked the door and he doesn’t have the key…”
Clint kept signing away and Steve went on, “He’s sorry he couldn’t tell you guys earlier… He hates talking without hearing himself, but he can’t text either so he didn’t know what to do…”
“Why can’t he text?” Bruce asked, frowning.
It was true that Clint never texted, but Bucky hadn’t really paid attention to it until then. Steve signed the question to Clint, who froze. Apparently, he hadn’t meant to let that out.
He opened his mouth as if to answer verbally, then winced and deflated. He signed something with quick, dejected gestures, without looking at them.
“He says he’s—uh,” Steve said. “I don’t know this word.”
Clint made a face, then spelled it. Steve mouthed the letters under his breath, then his eyes widened. “Oh,” he said. “Dyslexic. He’s dyslexic.”
“Whaaat?” Tony said from the couch. He snorted. “Talk about shit luck, man.”
“Hey, Stark, either crawl to your room and die, or make yourself useful and go ask Jarvis for spare keys,” Bucky snapped.
Tony just lay there and let out a snuffling noise. Clint was keeping his eyes downcast; he made an effort to meet Bruce’s eyes when Bruce squeezed his wrist gently.
“Let’s go see Edwin,” he said in his soft voice.
Clint glanced at Steve, who startled and translated with fumbling gestures. Clint gave a tiny smile, raised his hand to his mouth and pushed away from his lips. Thank you. Then he got up and followed Bruce out of the room. Bruce was still holding his wrist.
“That was awesome,” Bucky smiled, giving Steve his coffee back. “How come you know sign language, man?”
Steve shrugged tightly. “I got real sick when I was a kid. For a year or so, we thought I was going to go deaf. So, my mom and I learned.”
“Oh,” Bucky said, slightly sobered. “Well, it was still awesome.” Steve looked stiff and anxious again. Bucky raised an eyebrow. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
Steve glanced at him, then bit his lip. “I don’t think he meant to say the texting thing,” he said. “He, uh, he signed it but I shouldn’t—I shouldn’t have translated.”
Bucky couldn’t help it: he started laughing. Even when Steve glared at him, all he could do was laugh even louder.
“It’s not funny,” Steve hissed.
“It’s a little funny,” Bucky choked. He tried to calm down, but Steve’s indignant face made him lose it all over again. “Steve, you’re so—Barton says awkward shit all the time. He would have told us in like two seconds if it had ever come up before. Hell, he just did. But here you are feeling guilty for helping us out, right after getting beat up the night before for trying to protect—” he had to start laughing again. When he finally calmed down, he shook his head, grinning. “You’re so good it’s unreal, man.”
And that made Steve’s expression close all the way. He finished his coffee in a few gulps, then tossed it in the trash. “Thanks for the coffee. I’m going back to my dorm.”
But Steve was actually leaving, hurrying a little with his hands stuffed in the pocket of Bucky’s hoodie.
“Aw, Steve, come on!” Bucky yelled, but the door had closed behind him. “Steve!”
“Shut the fuck up, Barnes,” Tony whined into the cushions. “Bruce, kill him. Bruce? Are you there?”
Bucky threw his hands in the air, then let himself fall on the couch and rubbed his face for a while.
“…So you really can’t text?” Tony was saying. “Barton, you dweeb. All you have to do is install a dyslexic-friendly font on your phone. How can you not know that?”
“I want to punch Stark,” Bucky said quietly. “Does anyone else want to punch Stark?”
“He’s not that bad,” Bruce said, smiling.
“Did you guys know Barton was dyslexic?” Sam asked them both, as the three of them watched Tony and Clint argue animatedly while stealing each other’s fries. Clint’s spare hearing aids looked older, but seemed to do the trick.
“No,” Bruce said.
“That means he’s a genius, right?” Bucky said.
They both glanced at him, so he elaborated, “He’s deaf and dyslexic, and he got a full scholarship to this place anyway.”
“Yeah,” Sam said, sounding pensive.
Clint and Tony were now having a ketchup war. Bruce was still smiling. Bucky popped a fry into his mouth—then flinched when he bit hard the dent inside of his cheek on accident. It drew Sam’s attention back to him.
“So what happened to you last night, dude?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at Bucky. “Because I’d really like to know how—” He suddenly made a dying bagpipe noise. “Oh God,” he said. “Oh, God.”
Bucky turned round to see none other than Natasha Romanov stroll up to their table.
“Oh God,” Sam squeaked, then fell utterly silent.
Bucky had never seen Natasha up close and in the light of day. He only knew that she had class, red hair, and that she was tutoring Russian. Right now, he thought she was maybe the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She also looked like she wanted to kill them all, and he wondered if Sam had a death wish or if he was just really kinky.
“Hello,” she said, stopping in front of their table. “I came to apologize for my text from yesterday.”
It took Bucky a second to realize she wasn’t speaking English.
“You—” he said. His own language sounded rusty in his mouth after four months on the American soil. “You speak Romanian?”
“I am a linguist major,” she said, as if that explained everything. “And I hate to apologize in public, so this is what you get.”
“You don’t need to say sorry,” Bucky said. He became conscious that his friends were gaping at them both. Even Clint and Tony had stopped fighting for the last packet of ketchup. “You were worried for St—for your friend,” he amended. He didn’t want them to know they were talking about Steve, for some reason. “I understand. He’s easy to worry about.”
She arched a perfectly sculpted eyebrow and smirked. “You noticed that already.”
“Hey, would you like to go on a date?” Bucky asked.
Romanov raised her other eyebrow. “With you, Barnes?”
“With the gaping fool to my right,” Bucky grinned. Sam did look like a fish out of water. “He is the best person I know and he talks about you all the time.”
Now she looked like she was trying very hard not to smile. She stared at him for another moment, and just as Bucky was beginning to think Eh, it was worth a try, she said. “Sure. Tuesday after Russian tutoring class.”
She turned away. Bucky was—he was pretty gay, alright, but it was still very aesthetically pleasing to watch her go.
“What did she say?” Sam hissed.
Bucky smiled at him. “Guess who just got himself a date, Wilson,” he said. He waited for Sam’s face to fall and added, “It’s you. Tomorrow after Russian.”
Sam blinked, then his mouth fell open. “What?” he spluttered. “How? But—why did you—”
“I kept telling myself I needed to do something for you,” Bucky grinned, “guess this is it. Don’t fuck it up.”
Sam gaped at him for almost a full ten seconds. “You—” he couldn’t stop grinning and tried very hard to frown, pointing at him. “You’re still doing my laundry, Barnes.”
“Uh huh,” Bucky said, still following Romanov with his eyes. He only realized why when she sat down at her table and he saw that, yes, she was eating with Steve. Romanov told him something which prompted him to look up and around until he met Bucky’s eyes.
Bucky expected him to look away at once, but Steve held his gaze for a second, then smiled his tight crooked smile and gave Bucky an awkward wave across the crowded room. And Bucky swallowed and thought very clearly, shit.
looks like Rogers got into a fight again. check out this shiner smh
#photo taken with my StarkPhone3 #does anyone know how to remove the automatic tag it’s annoying
thedailyrogers reblogged this
Bucky rolled his eyes at the new post and looked at the search bar in the top right corner of the screen. His fingers hesitated over the keyboard, then he slowly typed three words in.
steve rogers gay
He stared at the flickering cursor for a minute. Then he felt suddenly revolted with himself and deleted it all without pressing enter.
omg look I can text
this is me
having a good tiiiiime
Bucky sighed as Barton texted him for the eleventh time in five minutes. Maybe he’d get tired, which didn’t actually seem all that likely. He’d been at it non-stop since Stark had found that dyslexic-friendly font the day before.
is barton texting you guys too? he wrote, vaguely elbowing his way to the Starbucks on the edge of campus.
yes and I regret everything, Tony answered.
Yeah :D was Bruce’s much happier comment.
Let him have his fun, man, was Sam’s wise conclusion.
It was kinda pathetic how Bucky reacted to his own name in that too-deep voice. His head jerked up, he turned around, and couldn’t help grinning like a loon when he saw Steve walking up to him, hurrying a little. Jesus Christ, Barnes, try to be at least a little cool.
But it was Steve and he was willingly coming to see Bucky, not even scowling at him or looking wary or defensive or anything, and Bucky was just fucking damn happy.
He was wearing a button-down again, the same blue as his eyes this time, with dark skinny jeans and his huge brown leather jacket. He was unbuckling his messenger bag as he came closer, and his rolled-up sleeves showed off his geometrical tattoos, and his glasses were sliding down his nose and his floppy hair was getting in his eyes and God, but Bucky was fucked.
“Here,” Steve panted. He tugged something out of his bag and gave it to Bucky. “Thanks again.”
Bucky blinked. It was his hoodie.
“Oh,” he said, trying not to sound too crestfallen. “Yeah. Right. Thanks.”
The cloth felt unusually soft under his fingers. He scrunched up his nose. “Did you wash it?”
Steve shrugged with an innocent look on his face. “Sounds like you need all the help you can get when it comes to laundry.”
“Oh my God,” Bucky said. “Thirty seconds with Sam and you already—I do my fucking laundry, alright? I just don’t use all this fancy softener shit.”
“Blame my mom,” Steve said, then his eyes widened in horror at himself when he realized what he’d said. He looked up at Bucky with defiance written over his face all over again. Go ahead and laugh at me.
Bucky just tsk’ed. “Steve Mortimer Rogers,” he said, “are you making your poor mother do your laundry? For shame. In Romania, children do their own laundry at age nine.”
Steve’s relief was obvious, and obvious also the way he tried to hide it by retorting, “No they don’t. And my middle name is Grant, Buchanan.”
Bucky almost choked on his own spit. “Oh God, do not call me that.”
“You said it was your name.”
“No, it’s not. It’s my middle name. My first name is James. But seriously, call me Bucky.”
“James Buchanan.” Steve blinked. “Like the president? How come…” His voice trailed off.
“Doesn’t sound very Romanian?” Bucky said, though he could feel his grin turn a little sour. Steve looked apprehensive, but nodded, and Bucky shrugged. “My dad’s American, wanted an American name for his kid.”
“Oh,” Steve said. “But… they live in Romania? Your folks?”
“My mom does,” Bucky said. “She remarried in the spring.”
“Oh,” Steve repeated, a little strangled. “So… your father lives here.”
“I mean, I guess,” Bucky said. “Haven’t talked to him in months.”
Steve looked mortified, so much that Bucky coughed a laugh. “Quit making that face. It’s fine.”
But Steve kept looking like he was at a funeral. The funeral of Bucky’s entire family. Whom he’d accidentally killed himself.
“Jesus, Rogers,” Bucky said. “Buy me coffee if it’ll alleviate your soul.”
“I can do that,” Steve said in a rush. “I can—I—um.” He scowled sheepishly. “Or I could just get out of your hair.”
“Nah,” Bucky grinned. “Coffee.”
Anonymous asked: hey did u know steve rogers knows sign language????? thats so cool
“This isn’t coffee,” Steve said, sounding equal parts amazed and horrified when Button Bob handed Bucky his order. “This is caffeinated syrup.”
“Lightweight,” Bucky said, making a show of sipping his caramel apple spice drink. “Ahh. That’s the stuff.”
Steve huffed an incredulous laugh and leaned back against the counter, looking out the window. The weather was mercurial, clouds pregnant with rain chasing each other across a blue sky. Bucky didn’t know why Steve seemed to have forgiven him for last time; maybe anger was so common to him he couldn’t afford to hold grudges.
“Romanov not with you today?” Bucky asked.
Steve raised an eyebrow at him. “Said she had a date.”
Bucky grinned excitedly. “That’s right! It’s Tuesday already. Hope they’re havin’ a good time.”
Steve was about to answer when Button Bob called out “Tall dark roast for Steve!” Then he blinked down and said with a big smile, “Oh, hey! You’re that Steve! I read your Tumblr all the time, man.”
“It’s not my Tumblr,” Steve began to say, but Bucky pulled him away from the counter. “Let’s go get a table. Have a good day, Cameron.”
“Hey,” Steve said, sharply twisting free. “I wasn’t gonna snap at him.”
“Uh huh,” Bucky said, taking another sip. “Just like you’re not snapping at me now.”
Steve opened his mouth, then visibly thought twice and clicked it back shut, although he was still scowling. He took a sip from his own coffee and choked a little when he burned his tongue.
“C’mon, we can sit by the window,” Bucky said. “It’s my usual spot.”
“You don’t have to spend time with me,” Steve said tightly.
Bucky raised an eyebrow. “What now?”
“I know I’m not—” Steve looked like he was chewing the words for a minute, then tried again. “You don’t have to be polite.”
“In Romania,” Bucky said, “people like you are called morons.”
Steve couldn’t help snorting. “Yeah? Good thing we’re in the US, then.”
“You’re a moron here too,” Bucky assured him. “Don’t worry. Stupidity is international.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” Steve said, but then he was smiling when he put down his messenger bag and sat at Bucky’s table.
Anonymous asked: hey did u know steve rogers knows sign language????? thats so cool
come on, tumblr, you’re failing me here. Is that the best tidbit you can come up with?
steve rogers is asthmatic
steve rogers is majoring in art
“Do you actually know whose Tumblr it is, though?” Bucky asked.
“The Daily Rogers? No,” Steve said. “Never found out. Why?”
Bucky hesitated, then said, “Don’t you think it could be Rumlow?”
Steve shook his head. “Nah. He’d make it way nastier. Besides, his url is ‘crossbones’.”
“How do you know that?”
“He was my roommate,” Steve said.
Bucky gaped for a second. “What?”
“Yeah. We, uh, actually got along for the best part of freshman year.” Steve was turning his cup in his hand. “Until we didn’t.”
“Jesus,” Bucky said. “Who’s your roommate now?”
“Some guy named Phil,” Steve said. “He’s okay but he’s a bit…”
His wince told Bucky everything he needed to know. “Spends a lot of time on Tumblr?” he guessed. “President of your fan club? Would hoard collector cards of you if he could?”
Steve laughed through his scowl, like he couldn’t hold it in anymore. “God, you don’t even know. I keep telling Nat he’s harmless, and he is, he’s nice, but—Jesus, he drives me crazy sometimes.”
“Sounds like a story,” Bucky grinned. “C’mon, what’s the worst thing he ever did?”
Anonymous asked: hey did u know steve rogers knows sign language????? thats so cool
come on, tumblr, you’re failing me here. Is that the best tidbit you can come up with?
steve rogers is asthmatic
steve rogers is majoring in art
steve rogers is irish! well he’s of irish descent
KISS STEVE ROGERS HE’S IRISH
“Nah, I don’t wanna badmouth people behind their backs,” Steve said. “And he’s—he means well, you know.”
“Aw, Steve Rogers is too good for gossip,” Bucky drawled.
For a second, he thought he’d made a deathly mistake which would remind Steve of the way they’d parted last time. But Steve just raised an eyebrow. “Oh, I wouldn’t go that far,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I’d love to know how you got Natasha to go on a date with your roommate.”
“Who said I had anything to do with it?” Bucky said.
“I saw you talk to her yesterday. I’m not an idiot.”
Bucky tried very hard not to make anything of that. Steve had been looking at Nat and he’d seen her walk up to their table—he hadn’t been looking for Bucky. At Bucky. Whatever.
“I may have asked on his behalf in Romanian,” Bucky said, pleased with himself. “I think she was already into him before that, though. She’s her Russian tutor, they know each other. And Sam was just sitting there gaping at her like she’d hung up the moon. Guess she liked that.”
Anonymous asked: hey did u know steve rogers knows sign language????? thats so cool
come on, tumblr, you’re failing me here. Is that the best tidbit you can come up with?
steve rogers is asthmatic
steve rogers is majoring in art
steve rogers is irish! well he’s of irish descent
KISS STEVE ROGERS HE’S IRISH
KISS STEVE ROGERS HE’S IRISH
KISS STEVE ROGERS HE’S IRISH
sounds like a challenge, guys
“So you do speak Romanian?” Steve asked.
“Yeah, of course,” Bucky said. “I’m totally bilingual.” He licked his lips with intent and grinned.
It was a cheap move and he expected to be scoffed at, but color rose a little in Steve’s cheeks. Bucky blinked. Surely, this had to be wishful thinking—little Steve Rogers with his loud mouth and bruised face probably wanted nothing to do with a gloomy exchange student who was scared of fights. And yet, Bucky surprised himself with a sharp pang of longing. God, Bucky wanted him—Bucky wanted him to want.
But Steve was at war with the entire world and probably not eager to feed the Internet more than rumors.
Bucky still couldn’t stop, though—he hadn’t let himself flirt with someone in a long while, except with that Remy guy he’d ditched to go rescue Steve’s bony ass.
“Go on,” Bucky said, “ask me to say something in Romanian. You know you want to.”
Steve smiled again and shook his head, but—
“Steve Rogers?” someone suddenly said, making them both look up at a blonde with a lopsided smile and slanted eyes.
“Uh,” Steve said. “Yes?”
“I’m Lorraine.” And she grabbed him at the collar with both hands, tugged him up and kissed him on the mouth.
Steve’s eyes widened; he stayed frozen for a second, then let out a muffled sound and twisted away. She stepped back with a laugh, then got out her phone and threw a bright “Thanks!” his way before leaving the shop.
Steve was furiously blushing; he wiped his mouth on the back of his hand.
“What the hell was that?” Bucky said, baffled. “Hey!” he called after the blonde who—he suddenly realized with an icy feeling—was typing something on her phone.
“Leave it,” Steve said, rigid and flushed hot.
Bucky got out his own phone for a quick check and got instant confirmation. “Pizdă proastă,” he hissed, getting up so violently his chair toppled back.
“Bucky!” Steve called after him.
Lorraine was walking fast—she’d found a bunch of girl friends outside the Starbucks, apparently, and Bucky had to run to catch up to them.
“Hey,” he said, grabbing her wrist and forcing her to turn round. “You. Kiss me.”
“What,” she said. “What? What the fuck—no.”
“Dude,” said one of her friends—Darcy, Bucky realized. “Handsy. Uncool. Back off now.”
Lorraine obviously didn’t recognize Bucky—she hadn’t paid attention to him, a minute ago. “Kiss me,” Bucky repeated, getting into her space. “I want a kiss. And then maybe I can show you a good time. How about that?”
“What the fuck is wrong with you? Let me go!”
“I’ve got a taser,” Darcy warned, raising her eyebrows. “Fuck off now, Mr. Weirdo, thank you and goodbye.”
“What?” Bucky said, scoffing without mirth, stepping back and spreading his arms, “come on, what’s wrong? You just did it to Steve Rogers because the Internet told you to.”
Lorraine froze. Darcy and the other girls blinked, then looked up at her.
“Uhh, what is he talking about?” Darcy said, squinting.
“Bucky!” Steve exclaimed, coming up behind Bucky, breathless again. “Fucking leave it! Come on!”
“You assaulted him,” Bucky said, jabbing his thumb at Steve. “But I can’t even ask you for a kiss? I have been more polite than you.”
“Jesus Christ, Bucky,” Steve hissed through gritted teeth, tugging at him.
Lorraine was heating up. A few of the girls were still staring aggressively at Bucky, but most of them, including Darcy, were raising eyebrows at Lorraine.
“Fucking gross,” Bucky spat, and finally let Steve drag him away.
Everyone was looking at them again, and Bucky was pretty sure he saw some people hastily putting their phones away. He scowled, but didn’t try to escape Steve’s grip until he’d dragged them both into the nearest building, and from there into the men’s room.
“What the fuck?” Steve hissed the second the door slammed shut behind them. “I told you to leave it alone and you just—”
“No,” Bucky said. “I am not sorry, so you can cut that shit out right now. Well,” he amended, “I am sorry that this is gonna end up on the Daily Rogers. But only for that.”
“I can get by on my own,” Steve yelled, “I don’t need your help!”
Bucky’s heart was still racing with adrenaline and that was probably why he started yelling as well. “You,” he scoffed, “are such a fucking hypocrite. You would’ve done the same for me. You would’ve raised hell for literally anyone else. But you’ve got a goddamn martyr complex the size of Stark’s fucking ego, which is pretty fucking huge—”
“You don’t know anything about me,” Steve said, “except what you’ve read online, so why don’t you fuck off!”
He shoved Bucky back; Bucky stepped back, then forward on instinct, but paused when he realized Steve’s fists were clenched—he was expecting an actual fight. He was expecting Bucky to hit him.
All his anger left Bucky like water from a sink.
Steve just stayed there, eyes wide and shoulders tense, heaving with how hard he was breathing. He was so pale the bruises on his face stood out all the more.
“I’m not gonna fight you,” Bucky said, shaking his head and stepping back. “I’m not.” He groped for the door and opened it to leave, leaving Steve to stand there alone.
Bucky’s phone buzzed around midnight. He’d been laying in his bed, staring at the ceiling. He rolled to his side and squinted at the sudden light of the screen.
Was this whole evening a ploy to get him in trouble? If so, nicely played.
Bucky stared perplexedly at the screen for almost one minute before he realized this had to be Natasha. Yeah—he recognized the number from last time. How had she gotten his number in the first place, anyway?
How was your date? he texted back.
Fine. He could almost hear her politely deadpan tone. How was yours?
Ha ha fucking ha.
I’ve got to say, it’s refreshing to have someone else get him into fights for once.
Bucky buried his head in the pillow. When he resurfaced a minute later, there was a new text. He’s been moping around all evening. He won’t ever say it, but he’s sorry.
We ARE talking about Rogers, right?
The one you yelled at for embarrassing you in public once? Yes.
Bucky grimaced. Yeah, okay, touché. A new text blinked on the screen.
He asked me what pizda proasta meant
Bucky couldn’t text fast enough. DONT TELL HIM
The door opened on Sam, who saw he was awake and turned on the lights. “I’m gone for, what? Five hours, and this is what happens? You’re all over Tumblr, man.”
“Don’t care,” Bucky said breathlessly, staring at Natasha’s three little dots blinking ominously on the screen.
“How can you not care?”
“How was your date?”
“You’re trying to change the subject,” Sam said. Then his face split into a grin. “Alright, it was awesome.”
Natasha’s answer blinked on. I told him it was a Romanian swear and left it at that
Bucky’s sigh of relief almost emptied his lungs. Natasha was still writing.
besides, I can’t say I don’t share the feeling. It’s not the first “challenge” TDR issues
Bucky’s lips ticked up at that, though without any joy to it. I don’t regret what I did, he texted back. But now it’s all fucked.
of course not :)
Bucky stared at the screen for a solid ten seconds, chewing the dent in his cheek. Natasha Romanov using emoticons was somehow the weirdest thing which had happened to him today.
Pretty sure it is, he typed back. But thanks.
“Dude,” said Sam, whom Bucky suddenly realized had been talking for the past five minutes—probably waxing poetic about Natasha’s eyebrows or something. “I’m starting to feel like you’re not listening to me.”
“No, I’m texting your crush,” Bucky couldn’t help saying.
“What?” yelled Sam. “Gimme that!”
“It’s a—ouch—private conversation, Wilson—stop!” Bucky said, starting to cackle as Sam tried to snatch his phone. “Seriously, how’d it go?”
“Fine, I think!” Sam yelled. “But now you’re scaring me!”
“Don’t worry, man,” Bucky grinned, “I’m pretty sure she likes you,” and Sam looked like he was about to cry glitter.
It was easier to laugh with him than to focus on the complete mess of things Bucky had done. Because he’d fucked up, so utterly that he hadn’t even thought of denying he wanted Steve when Romanov had implied it. It was too late for that, now.
It was too late for a lot of things.
Bucky woke up in a spectacularly bad mood the next day, and the next and the next. In fact, three days had passed and Bucky was getting fucking tired of people, all people, in general—but mostly Clint fucking Barton at the moment.
“This is my fault,” Clint lamented. “I’m the one who posted that sign language thing on the Daily Rogers.”
“It’s not your fault,” Bucky said, exasperated, for what felt like the tenth time. “I don’t know why you thought that was a good idea, but what happened wasn’t your fault. Sam, you got any more goddamn laundry?”
Sam clicked his tongue. “It’s all in the bag, man.”
“I can’t believe you are making me do your laundry. You’re gonna marry Romanov in two years and have her kids in five and it’s all thanks to me, and you’re making me do your laundry on a Friday night.”
Sam just laughed. Clint, meanwhile, was still holding his own pity party. “Do you think he’s pissed?”
“Steve Rogers is always pissed,” Bucky muttered darkly.
And he knew that. He should have known to defuse Steve’s anger like before, but he’d been so angry, himself. And his anger for Steve had turned into anger at Steve and now, well, it was too late for regrets.
“I should go apologize,” Clint said.
“Oh my God, dude, it’s fine,” Bucky yelled. “Why are you even here, anyway?”
Clint flinched and Bucky wanted to kick himself. “Not like that,” he said. “Jesus, Barton, I don’t mind that you’re basically living here. Just wondering why.”
Clint shrugged. He was like a five-year-old kid sometimes. “I don’t like my roommate,” he muttered.
Sam looked honestly surprised, like he’d never questioned Clint’s presence enough to wonder why he wasn’t spending his evenings in his own dorm room. And now Bucky felt like crap for asking. Great.
“That Laufeyson guy?” Sam asked. “I didn’t think he was that bad.”
“He’s just—” Clint chewed on his lip, shrugged. “I don’t like him.”
“I’m fine with you being here, but wouldn’t you rather go hang with Banner?” Sam asked.
Clint curled harder on himself. “He’s probably got better things to do.”
“Is this because of your big gay crush on him?” Bucky snapped. “Because I’m pretty sure he’s gay for you too, you fucking moron! And I would know, because I’m gay as fuck!”
Sam and Clint gaped at him for a second.
“Okay, man,” Sam said carefully.
“Cool,” Clint added.
Bucky realized his heart was hammering, and suddenly, he felt like throwing up.
God, it was so stupid. Of course they wouldn’t mind. Of course nobody would mind here. He knew that. He just wanted to yell at something, and wondered if that was how it felt to be Steve Rogers all the time, and then he was even more pissed—so much that a strategic retreat was all he could do to limit the damage.
“I’m going to the basement,” he said, and shouldered the bag before storming out of the room.
He was still fuming on his way down, pressing the elevator button ten times in a row. Little angels were printed on Sam’s laundry bag, and Bucky was so ready to get even angrier that even this small detail pissed him off beyond belief. Sam was so good it had only taken minutes for Natasha Romanov to see it, and Clint and Bruce were stupid in love with each other and too stupid to do anything about it, and Bucky really fucking liked Steve, okay, but they’d ended up shouting at each other every fucking time they’d met and now it was all fucked.
And America was a really fucking nice country except for how his father lived there and still hadn’t called. The doors of the elevator opened and Bucky got out in the laundry room, empty and silent save for one lone machine already running. Bucky opened Sam’s bag and got the dirty laundry out, shoving it into an empty machine. He realized he was tonguing at the dent inside of his cheek and stopped, gritting his teeth.
He’d hoped it would heal, but he’d bitten himself so hard when George Barnes had hit him—no son of mine, it was such a desperately cliché line it burned Bucky even more to have heard it with his own two ears, spitting blood on the floor and gaping at it, unable to understand at first—no son of mine, and now he was here with a scar where no one could see and he was pretty sure his father had disowned him, politely agreeing with his mother’s suggestion that Bucky be sent overseas so they could reconnect, and then nothing, just money in Bucky’s bank account, so it couldn’t be said that he’d abandoned him, but it was true, he’d abandoned him.
And Bucky had repressed his shit like a champion for fucking months but Steve fucking Rogers was bringing it all back up to the surface with his bony fists raised in defense of the whole damn world, Steve Rogers was everybody’s fucking champion and no one’s fucking friend, and Bucky was hyperventilating and leaned against the washing machine, breathing hard.
The thrum of it beneath his hands was soothing somehow. It took him a few minutes to calm down. Eventually, he took a deep breath and ran a nervous hand through his hair, looking up.
And Steve was there.
Bucky blinked several times, but Steve didn’t go away. He was standing there and looking at him like they were on both ends of a boxing ring.
“Jesus,” Bucky said, and his voice sounded more bitter than intended. “Now I get why Sam’s laundry couldn’t wait.”
“Nat said I should apologize,” Steve said with his head held high in defiance, like the most important thing was for Bucky to know this hadn’t been his idea.
All Bucky noticed was that his hair was wet. It was raining outside, Bucky knew, but Steve had an umbrella. Why hadn’t he taken his umbrella?
“No, it’s okay, man, I’m the one who’s sorry,” Bucky said sourly. “There was no need to set me up, Christ. You can go back to your dorm, now.”
He expected Steve to go away. For a few minutes, he believed he had. But then Steve spoke again, slightly startling him.
“I’ve lived with the Daily Rogers for three years,” he said, sounding like he had to force the words out.
Bucky looked at him.
“People got used to it. I got used to it. You’re the only one—” Steve’s sentence trailed off.
For a second, there was nothing but the thrumming purr of the washing machines.
“There’s Natasha,” Steve tried again, “but I knew her before college. There hasn’t been anyone else since. Friends or—or otherwise. Not for long, anyway. You’re the only one—who doesn’t think it’s normal. You’re the only one who doesn’t treat me like… Who seems to be interested in…” He swallowed. “In me. I guess.” He scoffed at himself, without mirth, raised his eyebrows and looked away. “I’ve been told I’m too dramatic.”
Bucky walked closer, never taking his eyes off him.
“I am,” he said. “Interested in you.”
Steve’s eyes flicked up then, quick and ready, like he expected Bucky to be laughing at him. Their gazes locked, and Steve’s expression turned into uncertainty as Bucky kept getting closer.
Bucky stopped inches from him. They stared at each other for a while.
Steve’s gaze was getting defiant again. “You plannin’ on doing something about it?” he asked in the most confrontational tone Bucky had ever heard.
“Don’t know,” Bucky said under his breath, getting even closer, curving down so their noses would brush. “You gonna punch me?”
They were so close.
“Why would I do that?” Steve said, and Bucky was so, so close to him. He could feel his breath on his skin. His heart was hammering in his ears.
“Just checking,” he said, angling his head, “just bein’ polite,” so close their lips ticked together, like a spark of electricity between them.
Steve let out a shaky breath, right into Bucky’s mouth. They stayed like this for an impossible second, stretched so tense something had to snap.
“You’re—” Steve said, but then Bucky was kissing him.
It was just a press of the lips in the whirring silence of the basement, the waterfall rush of Bucky’s blood in his ears.
They parted, just enough for a thin barrier of air to stand between their lips again. Then Steve kissed Bucky, and this time it was hungry and open-mouthed, and Bucky grabbed Steve’s thighs and lifted him up, and Steve would have probably protested if he hadn’t been taking advantage of being higher than him—pulling hard at Bucky’s hair and forcing his tongue into his mouth, and of course Steve kissed like he fought, but Bucky absolutely didn’t fucking mind—he sat Steve on top of a washing machine and pressed against him, putting his mouth on his jaw, his neck, his collarbone, sucking and biting and gasping when Steve wrapped his legs around Bucky’s waist and grinded their hips together.
Steve’s hand in his hair was driving him crazy, pulling like he was already fucking Bucky’s mouth, and that thought made Bucky weak in the knees; so he dropped on the rough cement, grabbing Steve’s skinny hips to drag him closer and mouth at the denim like a starving man. Steve arched into it with a breathless moan, twisting Bucky’s hair even harder.
“We’re,” he wheezed, “we’re—we’re in the laundry room—”
“Don’t care if you don’t,” Bucky breathed hoarsely. “Please. I want—I need—”
“Yeah,” Steve gasped, “yes, yes, Christ—”
They were both fumbling with the button of Steve’s jeans now, Steve eventually batting Bucky’s hands away and opening it himself—but he’d had to let go of Bucky’s hair for that, and Bucky honest-to-god whined with the loss until Steve freed himself from his underwear, grabbed Bucky’s hair again and fed it to him.
And they didn’t have a condom and they were in the laundry room and this was a terrible idea altogether, but Bucky didn’t give a shit because his hands were digging bruises in Steve’s hips and Steve’s hand was in his hair and all he could taste and smell and feel was Steve, hot and rock hard in his mouth, and the washing machine was thrumming so loud Bucky couldn’t hear anything else, lost in himself, bobbing his head, sucking when he could, choking when Steve thrust up only to try and take him deeper the next second, and he didn’t know how much time passed before Steve’s hips began to stutter and he gasped, “Christ, Bucky, I’m gonna—” and this would’ve been a brilliant time to pull back; but Bucky only swallowed him deeper and was actually grateful, viscerally relieved when he felt Steve shoot bitter and hot down his throat, hand twitching in Bucky’s hair, thighs trembling around his head, moaning haltingly, bracing his elbow on the machine when he couldn’t keep himself sitting upright anymore.
The cycle ended shortly after that.
Bucky just knelt there, with his face pressed against Steve’s denim-clad thigh, breathing deeply. Steve was running his fingers through his hair now, almost petting him, and Bucky let out a sigh like he was evacuating the last year along with it.
“I should,” Steve began, dazed, then tried again, “Don’t you wanna—”
“No,” Bucky murmured, “no, it’s good—it’s good like this. Next time.”
The hand in his hair stopped. “Next time?”
Bucky looked up. “Yeah,” he said, with a twinge of worry piercing through his blissful haze. “Uh. If you want.”
Steve huffed a laugh. He looked so fond looking down at Bucky, with his stupidly long eyelashes. His pupils were still blown. “Yeah,” he said. “You—really?”
“Did I just blow you in the basement,” Bucky said, rubbing slow circles into Steve’s hips, “or is it all just a dream?”
Steve was still resting on his elbow, raising an eyebrow at him. Bucky’s eyes briefly closed when Steve’s hand ran through his hair again. “You coulda just wanted to blow me in the basement and be done with it.”
“What, and then post my achievement in the Daily Rogers Challenge tag?” Bucky snorted, just before he realized it wasn’t funny at all.
Steve did laugh, though, a sorry little excuse for a laugh. Bucky felt himself blanch and looked up. “They—did anyone ever actually—”
“Nah,” Steve said. His thumb rubbed across Bucky’s temple, catching a strand of hair. “That kiss was the worst it ever got. The previous one was High Five Steve Rogers, I think. It’s not so bad, really. Most of the time.”
Bucky got up on slightly wobbly legs to cup Steve’s face. “You’re a terrible liar,” he said before kissing him again.
And if Steve clung to him a little tightly then, well, it was between them and the washing machines.
When they parted, Steve was frowning a little. “I don’t understand, though,” he said. “Why would you…” He gestured at himself. “All I’ve done is yell at you.”
“All I’ve done is yell at you,” Bucky said.
“Yeah, but you’re,” Steve gestured at Bucky this time, as if Bucky was missing something essential about them both—something fundamentally worthless about Steve and fundamentally brilliant about himself.
“You tryna tell me I’m too good for your skinny ass?” Bucky said, incredulous. “Because I’m pretty sure it’s the other way around.”
Steve scowled. “Stop saying I’m good. And I wasn’t even sure you didn’t actively hate me.”
“I wasn’t even sure you were gay,” Bucky countered.
Steve bristled again. “I’m not gay. I’m bi.”
Bucky blinked and Steve drew himself a little straighter on the washing machine. “That gonna be a problem?”
Bucky laughed. Steve didn’t. “What?” he said.
“Oh, nothing,” Bucky grinned, “just wonderin’ if the whole anger thing’s linked to your refractory period.”
“God, you’re a jerk,” Steve said, but Bucky was beginning to make out the different shades of his anger, and this one wasn’t to worry about.
He was still tense, though, so Bucky rolled his eyes and interlaced their fingers. “Of course I don’t care you’re bi, you stupid punk,” he said. He brought Steve’s hand up to his lips. “What fucker would have a problem with that.”
“You’d be surprised,” Steve said, a little weakly because Bucky was tonguing his scraped knuckles.
He could taste blood and feel Steve’s minute flinches, fingers tightening around his. Bucky might have an oral fixation, alright, but he was a-okay with it. He sucked one of Steve’s fingers into his mouth, then released it and grinned. Steve couldn’t look away from his lips, which made Bucky grin wider.
“Your mouth is just,” Steve began, sounding like he was trying to scoff, but he couldn’t finish his sentence.
“My mouth is just what?” Bucky said, still smiling until Steve drew him in for another kiss.
Bucky’s hand was already crawling up Steve’s thigh when Steve’s hand on his wrist stopped him. Someone was coming down the stairs.
“Shit,” Bucky hissed while Steve hastily zipped himself up. A long pair of legs appeared and turned out to belong to a dark-haired, pale-faced senior Bucky knew from somewhere.
“Pardon me,” he said icily, and Steve quickly stepped down from the machine. It was obvious what they’d been doing, but the senior looked blissfully uninterested in that, or in Steve being Steve. He just grabbed his clothes and left without looking back.
They waited till the door upstairs slammed shut again, then glanced at each other. Steve was the first to crack up, and Bucky quickly followed suit, giggling like an idiot.
“Oh, man,” he said, then stepped closer to Steve again. “Okay, where were we?”
Steve was still smiling, but shook his head. “We can’t stay in that basement forever.”
“We got clothes and water,” Bucky objected, before licking his lips again, “and I’m sure I can find something to eat.”
Steve laughed, then gasped when Bucky cupped his crotch, burying his face into his neck. Steve’s hands were in his hair again, and Bucky pressed against him, rubbing him with the flat of his palm.
“Bucky,” Steve said, “Buck,” and Bucky relented, moving his hand back to Steve’s thigh.
“Sorry,” he murmured into his shoulder.
“No, it’s just—” Steve sounded puzzled. “Isn’t it your turn?”
Bucky tried to think of a good way to say this, but his courage failed him. He tried to save the weird shit for the second date. Or the third or the fourth. “M’fine. Next time.”
“Oh,” Steve said. “Okay.” He looked unsure, but didn’t ask anything more. Bucky was pretty sure this subject would come up again, and he was half-hard in his pants, but—too complicated for now. To have Steve there with him was already fucking miraculous. He didn’t want to ruin it right away.
“So you wanna go face the world?” Bucky asked.
Steve wrapped his skinny arms around him to pull him close again. “On second thought,” he said, and Bucky laughed a little in the crook of his neck.
They didn’t have sex again in the end, just spent hours talking about nothing, Bucky trying on Steve’s glasses for size (“Jesus Christ, you’re fucking blind”), Steve’s gathering Bucky’s long hair in some kind of messy bun, Bucky following the lines of Steve’s tattoos with his tongue, Steve straddling him to give him slow, almost experimental kisses Bucky could have spent the whole night enjoying.
It was a long time before the sudden realization of silence shook Bucky up. Sam’s laundry was done—must have been done for a while—and they were both nodding off, especially Steve who was leaning against Bucky’s shoulder.
“Hey,” Bucky said, shaking him softly. “Wake up. Like you said, can’t stay here forever.”
But Steve shook his head and pressed into Bucky. “I don’t wanna go back to my dorm.”
Bucky would’ve smiled, because Steve was half-asleep and sounded like he was completely drunk, but—there was an undertone of true distress in the way he was clinging to Bucky. Bucky thought of what Steve had said about his roommate, of his sour little laugh when he’d said it’s not so bad earlier, and felt his heart clench.
“Come sleep with me,” Bucky said. “Just for tonight. I’m sure we’ll fit.”
“Wha’s that s’posed to mean.”
“Means you’re five foot nothing, Rogers. Hate to break it to you.”
“Fight me,” Steve muttered.
But he got up without question when Bucky shifted under him, shivering with fatigue. They went up the stairs, wavering a little, then got into the elevator and pressed the third floor button. Steve looked dead on his feet, like it wasn’t his first sleepless night in a row; and Bucky himself just wanted his bed.
They walked the darkened hallways in a daze. Bucky was pretty sure they came across Jarvis at some point—did this guy ever sleep, seriously—but he might have hallucinated him, seeing as his brain was beginning to form dreams even though he wasn’t unconscious yet.
Sam was lightly snoring and didn’t wake up when Bucky opened the door. Steve took off his pants, then crawled into Bucky’s bed and sighed with contentment when Bucky joined him. It was a bit awkward at first, but then Bucky shifted back and Steve curled up a little and suddenly they fit like the pieces of a puzzle, Steve tucked in the crook of Bucky’s body.
“Thanks,” Steve said under his breath.
Shit, Bucky thought just before he fell asleep for good, I totally forgot to bring back Sam’s laundry.
Bucky shifted and snuffled. He felt warm. And good. He hadn’t felt this good in a long while. There was someone with him in bed.
“Guys?” Sam repeated. “Hate to be a bother, but it’s almost noon and there’s someone at the door to kill Steve. I’m very proud to say she’s my girlfriend of three days.”
“Oh God,” Steve murmured into the crook of Bucky’s neck, and Bucky thought this was probably the best damn morning of his entire life. Steve was really with him. It hadn’t been a dream.
“Hey,” he said. “You’re still here.”
“’Course I am,” Steve mumbled, but Bucky could feel him try not to smile.
Bucky looped an arm around his waist and brought Steve’s slender body on top of his. He ran his hands flat down Steve’s back, slipped them under his shirt. Steve was bony, but warm, and tensed at first but then relaxed under Bucky’s lazy caress, like he was slowly learning to let himself enjoy it.
“You guys are gross,” Sam said. “Are you coming, or what?”
“I take back what I said,” Bucky muttered, “he’s the worst roommate ever,” but it was impossible to feel grumpy with Steve nosing at his neck and dozing off again on top of him.
It took them long minutes to extricate themselves from the bed and each other. Bucky gave his hoodie to Steve again and they went to the common room where the others were already waiting—sans Banner, who spent his Saturdays attending to his social chair duties. It felt like a repeat of last time, except Steve’s face wasn’t bashed in, no one was hungover, and Natasha was sitting between Clint and Tony, looking absolutely pissed off.
“Oh God,” Steve repeated, faintly.
“Jeeze, what d’you do?” Bucky murmured.
“Left my phone in my dorm,” Steve said. “I didn’t plan to spend the night here. She, um. She worries.”
“Man, I wonder why,” Bucky deadpanned, and Steve shot him a look but couldn’t say anything because Natasha then uncrossed and crossed her legs again, and it commanded their entire attention.
“Steve,” she said in an icy tone. She gave him his phone—an old thing that looked like it couldn’t do much more than call and text. “Good to see you’re not dying in a ditch somewhere.” The worst part was that Bucky knew she wasn’t even exaggerating.
“Nat,” Steve began in a defeated tone, but Natasha just said, “Sit.”
Bucky sat down next to Steve, expecting to be allowed to doze off for a little while longer while Steve got chewed out; but to his surprise, Natasha started talking to him.
“Now, listen to me, Barnes,” she said in her perfect Romanian. “I will not have Steve hurt. He is not always easy to live with and he has been through a lot. If you cannot stomach it, walk away now.”
Next to her, Clint started signing with an unusually serious look on his face, with the occasional input from Sam whispering into his ear. Steve blinked, then blinked again, then glanced at Bucky.
“Are you getting the shovel talk too?” he stage-whispered.
“Da,” Bucky answered him, raising an eyebrow, before turning back to the others. “Guys, isn’t it a little early for this? You could’ve let us sleep in, at least.”
Natasha and Clint looked at each other. Tony apparently took that as a cue, because he perked up and waved his phone. “No it isn’t,” he said. “You guys have been on the Daily Rogers for two hours.”
Steve paled. “What?”
He tried to snatch Tony’s phone but Tony literally jumped backwards on the couch, clutching it to his chest. “Christ, get your own phone, Rogers.”
Bucky had already pulled out his. It only took seconds for the page to charge.
Anonymous asked: Hey remember that exchange student from last week’s DR challenge incident? He and Rogers are TOTALLY HOOKING UP
hah, wouldn’t that be nice. Does anyone have proof?
Bucky and Steve exchanged a look.
“Do you think—” Bucky began.
“That guy from last night? In the laundry room?”
“What guy?” Sam asked.
Natasha leaned forward. “Oh yes,” she said in a dangerous voice, “do tell.”
Her tone gave pause to everyone—except for Sam, who just looked even more besotted.
“I don’t remember,” Bucky said. “He didn’t even look at us. He was… tall, I guess? With long dark hair? I didn’t look at him either.”
Clint looked a little pale, but before Bucky could call him out on it, Steve sprang to his feet. He looked green around the edges. “I shouldn’t stay here.”
“Steve—Steve!” Bucky called, and this time he ran after him till they were both in the hallway.
Bucky managed to grab his wrist, but Steve twisted away, stepping back.
“No,” he said, breathing fast, “this is why I don’t—it’s not right to ask that of you, okay? To endure all this bullshit on top of my own—you won’t stand it, you’ll hate it and it’s better to just—to just—”
“Steve,” Bucky said when Steve started wheezing—shit, he didn’t even have his inhaler. “Steve, please, calm down, Stevie, just breathe.”
“I can’t,” Steve said, gasping for air, “if we’re doing this, Buck, I don’t wanna—” wheeze, “don’t wanna hide, don’t wanna look over my shoulder all the time, or worry when we’re in publ—” he gasped, forced air into his lungs, “and you won’t stand it, not in the long run and I can’t—”
He finally gave in and stopped trying to talk, painfully gasping for air. Bucky grabbed his hand and put it on his own chest so Steve could feel him breathe and do it with him—and after a while Steve did, trying his best to inhale and exhale in time with Bucky’s slow breaths. Eventually, he managed to suck in a deeper, still shaky breath, and Bucky drew him close, wrapping his arms around him.
“We’ll be fine,” he said. “You’re not gonna let a bunch of gossiping assholes get in your way, are ya?”
“They’ll scrutinize you too,” Steve said, clutching at him. “It’s what happened with Sharon. She couldn’t—she didn’t—”
“Her fucking loss,” Bucky said. “I’m with you.”
Steve looked up at him. Bucky gave him his best lazy grin. “C’mon,” he said, “let’s be famous together. It’ll be fun.”
Being with Steve Rogers, Bucky belatedly realized, also meant being out.
He would’ve been lying if he pretended that it didn’t panic him a little, but maybe he’d needed to get shoved out of the closet for good. Still, the next day, he almost couldn’t get out of bed; and by the time he had to meet Steve for lunch, his stomach was coiled tight in fear.
Then Steve saw him and called uncertainly, “Hey, Buck,” as if still bracing himself for Bucky revealing this had all been a prank, and Bucky decided all this fear was worth it if it meant kissing Steve hello in the morning.
A flash went off when they parted, and they exchanged a grimacing smile.
“Here goes,” Steve said. “Last chance to get out.”
“Fuck off,” Bucky said casually, then grabbed his hand, lacing their fingers together. “C’mon, it’s chicken fingers today. I’m fucking starving.”
omg they ARE together. Look at them, they’re soooo cute
I’m so in love with their size difference <3
honestly rogers is precious as always but HOT DAMN I could eat his bf with a SPOON
#who is he #and more importantly #who do you think tops
thedailyrogers reblogged this
“I cannot believe,” Steve said loudly, “some people are still opposed to gun control in this day and age.”
“You got a fucking problem, Rogers?” Hank yelled, getting up so suddenly his chair screeched behind him. “Go ahead and say it to my face!”
“Have been for the past ten minutes, but hey, good to see your brain’s finally caught up.”
Bucky was eating his strawberry yogurt calmly. These were the rules: Steve got into whatever fights he wanted, but he never asked Bucky to back him up. Bucky did it anyway.
“You wanna take this outside?” Hank was hissing. “Let’s fucking take it outside.”
“I think he’s trying to prove he’s non-violent, iubitule,” Bucky said.
“I can see his point,” Steve said, voice dripping with sarcasm. “Fists don’t hit people. People hit people.”
“Jesus,” Hank said, throwing his hands in the air before finally giving in to his friends’ coaxing. Most of them looked wary of ending up on the Daily Rogers—a reasonable fear, Bucky thought; a lot of people around them had their phones innocently out.
Steve sat back down and stole Bucky’s yogurt to take a spoonful.
“What does iubitule mean?” he asked, giving it back.
“Somethin’ nice,” Bucky grinned, and leaned over the table to kiss him. It tasted like strawberry.
His amount of work was getting slightly overwhelming—unlike other exchange students, Bucky was very lucky not to have visa issues thanks to his double nationality, and he was spared a lot of problems on that front; but the classes demanded a lot of his attention. The essays were just fucking piling up and the deadlines weren’t getting any further away. Bucky spent his days in the library or hunched over his laptop. He’d thought he wouldn’t have the time for anything else, but in the midst of this growing maelstrom, dating Steve was easy.
Bucky had expected more issues and more fury to trudge through, but Steve’s anger was now directed at about everyone and everything but Bucky. It was amazing, like watching fireworks go up. Steve was a constant Fourth of July, and Bucky felt special, getting to watch it so close.
It would have been way easier to give in to the honeymoon feel, of course, without the Daily Rogers looming over their heads. On the best days, they only got mildly harassed, and only from afar—people waving at them, sometimes catcalling when they were holding hands, or just watching them a bit too intently. Steve looked resolved to endure it stoically—women have it so much worse, Buck, they don’t need a Tumblr to get this kinda harassment every damn day—but Bucky sharing his fate made him hesitate until Bucky threatened to go to class in his underwear if Steve didn’t stop asking him if he was okay with all this.
“You wouldn’t,” Steve said, and Bucky said, “I’m a life-drawing model—try me,” and Steve grumbled a lot and didn’t explicitly back off, but relaxed a little more after that.
On the worst days, they had to actively hide from the crowds to get a moment of peace. In the first days of November, the Daily Rogers issued a new “challenge” (Santa Steve! Get a picture) and suddenly people were pursuing Steve with Santa hats and begging him to put them on. Steve, Bucky realized, didn’t react to the harassment he was facing—not when it wasn’t actively aggressive, anyway—but still wouldn’t allow anyone to bug Bucky. Bucky had the perfect excuse to return the favor without Steve getting angry at him for it. Well—he still got angry when Bucky did things like literally growling at a pair of adventurous freshmen, but Bucky thought it was worth it.
After the first week, Bucky now had a small but hardcore fanbase on Tumblr as well, and the Daily Rogers’ followers count kept going up. Bucky kept reading it to desensitize himself, or maybe because of some weird fascination. A lot of people were very involved in solving the mystery of who put his dick in whom, apparently. Steve and Bucky hadn’t gotten past the handjobs stage yet, and even those weren’t a daily occurrence with the mid-semester exams coming up. Steve still slept in Bucky’s bed every other day, though. Bucky was touch-starved—hadn’t realized to what extent until Steve came along—and Steve seemed like he was, too. They sometimes fell asleep apart but always woke up twined together.
Sam was a saint, always welcoming Steve casually like a third roommate, and his patience was probably greatly improved by the fact that things were going well for him and Natasha, too. He never complained when Steve slept in, even though with Clint and sometimes Banner and Stark hanging around, their room was quite crowded. (Clint and Bruce were avoiding each other’s gazes, blushing furiously whenever their eyes met; and Bucky sometimes wondered what was going on with them, but there was no nosy Tumblr to clue him in here.)
The point was: it was easy. Steve and Bucky were just—they were right together. It felt like falling into an old pattern of teasing and banter, like they’ve known each other forever and would always know each other. Steve was smiling more, and Bucky had stopped tonguing the dent in his cheek, and thought maybe it had even started to heal a little.
we still meeting at two? he texted during economics class.
sure :) Steve texted back.
Bucky should not have found his use of emoticons so freaking adorable. With Romanov, it was just scary. Sam would’ve probably argued the opposite.
Question, Steve added. Why is Barton texting me all the time?
Bucky almost snorted out loud. means he likes you. think of him as a slightly socially impaired golden retriever
Steve didn’t reply. Bucky knew he was puzzled by how easily his circle of friends had taken to him. But then again, they’d absorbed Bucky with the same ease at the beginning of the year. Steve was awkward around them, more skittish and abrupt than he’d like—Bucky had learned to recognize the slightly helpless look on his face which meant he hadn’t wanted to be this aggressive, as if they were going to disown him over one abrasive comment. Bucky wished he could reassure him; Tony was insufferable, Clint was overenthusiastic, Banner was eerily serene and Bucky himself knew there wasn’t much interesting about him, but they all banded together. (Sam was a resplendent socially-adjusted star who mysteriously liked spending time with all of them nerds.)
Steve had a lot of fans and probably a lot more enemies, but he hadn’t been exaggerating when he’d said he didn’t have friends save for Natasha. And Bucky himself didn’t make connections easily. The developing thing between them felt all the more precious and all the more baffling, like they’d found a cheat code in a game otherwise impossible to beat.
The weather was remarkably shitty, a strong wind howling across the campus and making the windows shudder from time to time, sending rain against the building like someone was hosing it down. Bucky hoped Steve would be okay reaching the Starbucks.
Hey Barnes, Natasha suddenly texted him, be early. Dorm Lehigh, room 616.
Huh. Bucky put his phone away, but couldn’t quite concentrate on his class and ended up leaving fifteen minutes early, which he never usually did. He dredged his way across the soaking wet campus until he got into Lehigh and knocked on Steve’s door.
A nerdy guy with an unfortunate already receding hairline opened the door. His eyes widened when he saw Bucky. “Oh my God,” he said. “You’re the boyfriend!”
“And you must be… Phil,” Bucky said.
“Did Steve tell you about me?” Phil said excitedly. “That’s so awesome. Oh, I’ll give you guys some privacy—got French horn practice anyway.”
“You don’t have to,” Bucky began, but then Phil was coming out with a monstrous thing in his arms which looked more like an actual tuba than a horn, and waggled his eyebrows at him.
“Don’t forget to put a sock on the door!” he yelled before disappearing in the hallways.
Bucky watched him go, a little dumbfounded.
“So, that was Phil,” Steve said.
He sounded so awful Bucky instantly forgot about Phil and peered inside. Steve was sitting on his bed, wearing a hoodie Bucky identified as his—Steve must have stolen it again last time. It was the first time Bucky saw Steve’s room. The wall behind him, over and around his bed, was covered in trinkets and postcards and a few drawings. Steve’s quilt was obviously handmade, too. It was colorful and lively, and Bucky felt vaguely homesick.
Steve sneezed—or rather, he let out a noise not unlike the mating call of an agonizing duck.
“You okay?” Bucky said.
“Yeah,” Steve said, “why wouldn’t I be,” but then he sneezed so hard he almost knocked his glasses off, then sniffed.
“You’re sick,” Bucky said.
“I’m not sick.” Steve sniffed again. “Why are you here already?”
Bucky couldn’t help feeling a little hurt by that. Something must have shown on his face, though, because Steve’s eyes widened the next second, his face taking that helpless look Bucky knew so well. “That’s not—I didn’t mean it like—”
“It’s okay,” Bucky said. “I did kinda barge in without—”
“No,” Steve said a bit too forcefully. “It’s okay.” He sniffed again. “We can still go out.”
“And disappoint Phil?” Bucky grinned. “I don’t think so.” He dropped his bag, then sat on Steve’s bed and pulled him close. “We can play doctor.”
“Bucky,” Steve warned.
Bucky inched closer, waggling his eyebrows. “I’ll be your nurse.”
Bucky squished their faces together. “We’ll share body heat for surviv—”
Steve hit him with a pillow, then started laughing—and then coughing so hard Bucky was worried he’d spit out a lung. The windows trembled again with wind and rain, as if on cue.
“Oh yeah, we’re definitely staying in,” Bucky said. “D’you think Starbucks delivers?”
They watched stupid cat videos and Bucky made Steve drink lots of water and Steve absolutely refused to kiss so as not to contaminate Bucky, while still denying he was sick in the first place. Steve ended up falling asleep—abruptly, like he always did. Bucky was beginning to understand part of Steve’s pigheaded character meant he only slept when he literally collapsed from exhaustion. This time around, he was obviously very, very sick and utterly drained by his efforts to appear healthy. One moment, he was cracking jokes with a hoarse voice, and the next he was dozing off on top of Bucky, glasses askew on his nose.
Bucky carefully took them off, and folded them before putting them on the nightstand. Steve was so light—it made something in his chest clench. To have him there, on top of him, breathing his bird’s breath into the crook of Bucky’s neck, felt so unspeakably precious. Bucky wasn’t sure what he’d done to earn it. But if he could have this, right here, right now, he didn’t really care about the rest.
He was so fucked. But he’d known that for a while now.
He tightened his hold on Steve, wrapping his right arm around him, then got out his phone. He had half a mind to text Nat, but he saw that the RSS feed for the Daily Rogers was up and it made his brows knit together. He opened the website and froze.
Anonymous asked: STEVE ROGERS HAS AIDS
Bucky blinked several times, thunderstruck.
His phone buzzed, making him start. Steve snuffled and shifted, but didn’t wake up. Bucky switched to texts. It was Natasha.
Don’t go on the Daily Rogers
Too late, he texted. He had to try several times; his fingers were trembling a little.
I will find whoever wrote this, she answered. I will find them, and I will kill them
Bucky felt nauseous. Do you think it’s true?
The buzz of his phone felt like a zap of electricity. ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW
I don’t KNOW, Bucky texted. he’s always sick!!! he’s sick right now!!! how do YOU know?
Barnes I will rip your guts out I swear to god
SHUT THE FUCK UP, Bucky texted so angrily he almost broke his phone. for fucks sake im worried for him not for me. you can go fuck yourself
There was a long silence.
Then, where is he anyway? she asked.
sleeping. Bucky had to add, on top of me. drooling a bit
tmi, idiot. Sam called Stark. He says he’s gonna try something
I thought no one could hack the Daily Rogers, Bucky said.
Stark sounds like he’s in a mood. I’ll let you know. Warn me if Steve wakes up before then
There was a long, long stretch of quiet. Bucky wrapped his other arm around Steve, who was still snuffling into his neck. He thought of the first time they’d fucked, in the laundry room—without a condom or anything.
Bucky trusted Steve. Steve probably wouldn’t have let Bucky do anything to him if he hadn’t known he was clean. But that still had been a stupid, stupid thing to do. Bucky couldn’t ask him, though. Christ, if Steve saw the post, he’d know what Bucky had been thinking, and he’d blame himself.
Bucky was filled with shame when he realized he hadn’t gotten tested since he’d left Romania. They hadn’t fucked without a condom again, but—it had been stupid enough doing it once.
His phone buzzed again. Stark took down the post. Hopefully not too many people will have seen it.
Bucky ran a hand through Steve’s floppy hair and breathed him in, closing his eyes, exhaling slowly. He was still trembling. Who would post such a thing?
Rumlow, said a voice in Bucky’s ear. But it had been an anonymous ask. Whoever ran the Daily Rogers had chosen to publish it. Maybe it was Rumlow too. He could have two urls.
There was the matter of the day they’d gotten together, though. Rumlow hadn’t been in the laundry room. But this dark-haired guy had seen them. Must have known what they’d been doing. Another anonymous ask published by the Daily Rogers.
“Buck?” Steve’s drowsy, stuffed voice made Bucky’s thoughts scatter. “Did I fall asleep?”
“I did wonder why it’d gotten so quiet,” Bucky said, and Steve groaned into his neck.
They were gonna be alright. Bucky was going to go get tested, and they were gonna be alright.
Bucky hated needles and the blood test in itself filled him with trepidation. The girl at the desk made him fill a thoroughly extensive file of his sexual activity for the past four months. Bucky was relieved to write he hadn’t done anything worse than unprotected oral, but he still felt a tinge of shame when he handed it in.
She told him the results would be sent in a week or so—surprisingly fast, but apparently it was something they did so more college students would come and get tested. Bucky thanked her several times and hurried back to the campus.
The anonymous ask had been taken down quickly enough to make no waves, apparently. Nothing that had resurfaced yet, anyway. Sam, Nat, Bucky and Tony were the only ones to know, and none of them were going to tell Steve.
“Bucky,” Steve said.
Bucky jumped. “Uh. Yeah? Sorry. Lost in thought.”
“You gonna tell me or what?”
Bucky’s mouth felt dry. He thought of the test he’d taken without telling Steve, then he thought of the AIDS anonymous post, and he swallowed hard. “Tell you,” he said, “um, tell you—what?”
It was vaguely snowing outside, and they were bundled together in Bucky’s room, cramming for the finals—well, Bucky was cramming, and Steve was working on his portfolio. He was wearing Bucky’s hoodie—his hoodie, now; he’d claimed it forever, probably—with the sleeves rolled up, his hair was getting in his eyes, and he was looking at Bucky seriously over his black-rimmed glasses.
“I’m okay with the way we are now,” Steve said. “But you’re not and you won’t say anything and it’s startin’ to grate at me. Sam is at Nat’s, so spit it out.”
Bucky was confused. Steve didn’t sound like he was talking about the Daily Rogers, or anything else he feared, really; but then Bucky had no clue what he was talking about.
“I—” he said.
Steve looked uncomfortable, but that wasn’t going to keep him from speaking up his mind. He put down his pencil. “I’m talking about when we fuck, Bucky.”
Bucky’s brain froze. Steve looked exasperated, but also a little anxious. “We don’t have to have sex,” he said. “Not for my sake. You know that, right?”
“Whoa—just—wait,” Bucky spluttered. “Back up a sec. For your sake?”
“Yeah, I mean,” Steve vaguely gestured at himself. “If you’re not… I mean, I know I’m not…”
“Steve, I want you,” Bucky said, incredulous and a little desperate. “How can you doubt that? You’re so—Jesus, you gotta know I can’t take my eyes off you. I just—I don’t—where the hell is this coming from?”
Steve was a bit flushed—he could attack a guy twice his size, but compliments would do him in every time. “Buck, I ain’t fishin’ for praise here, I just—”
“I want you,” Bucky said, “so bad, I want you all the time, if we could—”
“You don’t get off!” Steve snapped.
Bucky’s stunned silence made him wince, and he amended, “You do, but—less often than me, and you never look like… it’s never… you’re not into it.”
And Bucky was back to feeling like he was swallowing sand. Oh.
“Are you ace?” Steve asked, blue eyes earnest. “It’s okay if you are.”
Bucky buried his face in his hands. “Jesus Christ, Steve.”
“No. I’m not ace.” Bucky took a deep breath, then swallowed. He had to tell him. This was no big deal—he knew Steve would be fine with it. But…
But he was scared.
“Bucky,” Steve said.
When Bucky looked up, Steve had put aside his drawing supplies and was opening his hands. “Um. C’mere? If you want.”
Bucky blinked, but complied, shuffling on his knees across the room to let Steve hold him tight.
“Why am I getting a hug?” he asked, muffled with his face into Steve’s shirt.
“’Cause it makes it easier to talk about stuff,” Steve said. He ran his fingers through Bucky’s long hair, undoing a few knots as he went. “C’mon. You know you can tell me. Right?”
Bucky nodded, wordlessly—making Steve accidentally pull at his hair. “Shit—sorry.”
“No,” Bucky said. He was a coward, but Steve was right: it was so much easier to say this with his face buried in the crook of Steve’s neck. “You can, um, do that again.”
Then he buried his hand in Bucky’s hair, grabbed him in a solid grip and pulled.
Bucky felt like his whole body was lighting up—responding naturally in a way vanilla sex didn’t quite evoke. A thrill ran through him, relaxing his muscles, and he breathed more deeply.
“Oh,” Steve said, and yeah, Steve knew stuff, he was already making guesses about the finer aspects of Bucky’s sexuality—he actually knew a shit ton of things about sex—so of course he would figure it out.
He didn’t say anything, though—just pulled even harder, slow but firm, until Bucky let out a little whine and bucked his hips.
“Wow,” Steve said, sounding honestly baffled. “That bad?”
Bucky instantly shrank on himself, and Steve let go of his hair to hold him tight again. “No—sorry, I don’t mean it like that. I’m just… surprised, is all.” He laughed. “I’m a moron. It makes so much sense in retrospect. That first time in the laundry room…”
“Yeah,” Bucky rasped into his shoulder.
“Bucky, look at me. You don’t have to be ashamed of jack shit.”
Bucky forced himself to pull back and meet his eyes.
“I know I’m the commanding type,” Steve said seriously, with an innocent look. “It’s completely normal to be intimidated by me.”
Bucky snorted, then started laughing. “Christ, you’re just—you’re a punk.”
Steve was grinning. “So what,” he said, “should I throw you on the bed and have my way with you?”
He meant it as another cheesy joke, but Bucky looked up a little hopefully, and Steve’s cheeks colored again. That made Bucky look away. They still hadn’t fucked each other yet, and Bucky tried not to imagine Steve fucking him unless he wanted to come in ten seconds.
Maybe he shouldn’t have been aroused. He still didn’t know for sure whether either of them was clean. But—but—
“Look,” he said, because he wasn’t a really active part of the BDSM community, but he knew the basic rules. “This is the part when I say that we don’t have to do this—I’m fine with the way we—”
Steve got up. He was small, yeah, but Bucky was still sitting on the floor. Steve slid his hand up Bucky’s neck, tangled his fingers in his hair at the root, gripped—and Bucky’s eyes fluttered shut.
“Just tell me what you like,” he said, “and we can work from there.” He tugged a little harshly. “C’mon, tell me.”
Bucky swallowed. “Um,” he said. “Being—being ordered around. Made to do stuff. In bed, I mean, I’m not doing the damn dishes for you.” The joke fell flat. He swallowed again. “Not being able to move—being held down or tied up or just… having to stay put. And—pain. I’m a—I’m a—it’s what I like.”
There. He’d fucking said it. He reopened his eyes, which he’d closed at some point. He expected about any look on Steve’s face.
He didn’t expect dilated pupils and a shortened breath.
“I think,” Steve said, but then he had to start again. “You’d let me do stuff to you?”
Steve looked embarrassed again. “I don’t—” he looked away, then back at Bucky, unsure. “Not many guys expect me to be on the dom side. Or girls, for that matter.”
Bucky shuffled up, getting to his knees. Steve’s hand twitched in his hair.
“Steve,” Bucky breathed with intent, looking him in the eye, “please.”
He licked his lips. He could play dirty when he set his mind to it, and he knew Steve couldn’t look away from his mouth. Bucky shuffled closer and pressed his face into Steve’s groin, breathed him in. Steve’s erection was pressing against the fabric of his jeans. Bucky nuzzled the buckle of his belt, then looked up. “Make me,” he said.
Steve’s hand tightened in his hair. And then—it pulled back.
“No,” he said. “It’s your turn.”
“Steve,” Bucky whined, but then Steve’s voice dropped and he pulled viciously at Bucky’s hair. “I said you’re gonna come and that’s fucking final.”
And that sent all of Bucky’s blood southwards. He exhaled a shaky breath and looked up at Steve, who was flustered, himself, but not losing any of his commanding tone. “Open your pants. Then grip your wrists behind your back. If you let go, this stops. Got it?”
Bucky nodded so fast he gave himself a head rush. He fumbled with the buttons of his jeans, then pulled the zipper down. His cock was tenting his underwear, leaving a dark stain against the fabric already.
“Jesus,” Steve said, before he tried for a firm tone again. “Alright, hands.”
Bucky crossed his arms behind his back, gripping his forearms with his hands like Steve had said. Steve let go of his hair, and trailed his fingers under Bucky’s jaw for a second.
He went to the door and locked it. Then, very casually, he came back, knelt behind Bucky and cupped him, eliciting a twitch.
“Damn, Buck.” He rubbed him, gripped him, twisted a little. “You’re ready for it, aren’t you?”
Bucky couldn’t see straight. Steve’s left hand was back on his nape, toying with his hair; his right hand slipped Bucky’s boxers down, letting his cock spring free. Bucky had gotten aroused with him before, but never like this, never so mind-numbingly hard. This was what he really liked—and boy, did it show. He would have been self-conscious, but the tinge of shame only added to the waterfall rush in his ears.
Steve gathered pre-come at the top, then rubbed Bucky slick with it, slowly. He was holding him so tight it almost hurt, but he was keeping his pace unutterably slow.
“Gonna make you come all over the floor, Buck,” he said. “Maybe make ya lick it clean afterwards.”
Bucky had gone full non-verbal in the space of two minutes. He gasped, tried to thrust his hips, but Steve pinched him—with the hand on his nape, he found a space there and pinched Bucky cruelly with his nails until he winced.
“Steve,” Bucky whined, pressing back into him.
“I said stay still,” Steve said, still jacking him off tight and slow. “S’okay, you just lack training. Nothing a good cane won’t fix.”
“Steve,” Bucky panted, eyes wide. His mind was completely and utterly blown. Steve was going so slow—it was driving him mad, he needed—
“Please,” he said, and Steve suddenly gagged him with his hand.
“Figures you’d be needy. Shut up.”
Bucky groaned and let his head tilt back, into Steve’s shoulder. Steve shuffled closer, gripping Bucky impossibly tighter, making him whine because it hurt and it was good and he needed more he was gonna go crazy—
“You want it bad, huh? Want me to go fast?”
Bucky was reduced to nodding and whining against Steve’s hand, and the humiliation prickled at him, made him even harder, straining and twitching in Steve’s stringent hold, needing—
“You’re not getting it. You can come like this.”
Bucky moaned raggedly, twitching his hips in small aborted thrusts. Steve’s erection was poking his side. He got off on it. He liked it. He liked it.
“Come on,” Steve said, and removed his hand from Bucky’s mouth to slip it under his shirt. Bucky instantly started babbling. “Steve, please, Steve—” but then Steve twisted his nipple hard and Bucky’s whole body jolted. Steve kept digging his nails in, went to torment the other one, alternatively teasing and hurting him, his other hand going just this much faster on Bucky’s cock, which was still agonizingly slow, a long tug up and then down, and then back up again, so fucking slow.
“Come on, Buck,” he said, and then, “yes, there you go, come on, there you go,” and Bucky had no idea what he was talking about because he was on the very maddening edge but he wasn’t coming—he wasn’t—but then he realized he was, stutteringly so, in spurts on the floor and on Steve’s hand, jerkily at first and then blindingly when he realized it was happening—he moaned, panted, whined, and Steve was suddenly jacking him faster and Bucky’s hips stuttered and thrust and he was already coming but it was like he started coming all over again, unable to control the noises he made, gripping his own forearms tight and coming.
It wiped his mind, a little—knocked him into a daze until he felt weaker than a newborn foal, wobbly and trembling as he came down. Steve was pulling him close, pulling him down.
“Come here,” he whispered. “S’okay, you can let go now. Come here.”
And then Bucky had his head in Steve’s lap and his arms wrapped around Steve’s hips and he was breathing slow and deep, feeling like a thunderstorm had passed through his mind then gone on its way, leaving everything behind new and vivid.
It took him a long time to figure out the way up from down again.
He blinked, then realized Steve wasn’t hard anymore. Shit, how long had he been lying there?
“God,” he muttered, “m’sorry, I’m—” but Steve put an end to his uncoordinated attempts to get back up. “Stay here, Buck. I got you.”
“But you didn’t finish,” Bucky slurred.
“Said it was your turn.”
Steve laughed a little. “Bucky, stop acting like I got nothing out of it—that was fucking amazing. Just—Christ. You were so—” He flushed a little and shut up, then frowned. “I can’t believe you weren’t gonna tell me.”
“I was gonna,” Bucky said, burying his face into Steve’s shirt. “S’just. It’s weird.”
“Yeah, it is.” Bucky peeked up, smiling. “You coulda hurt me more, you know.”
“Noted,” Steve said with a little laugh. “What about the rest? Anything you didn’t like? I kinda barreled on—”
“There was nothing,” Bucky said, “nothing I didn’t like. I liked when you gagged me. I loved when you,” he gestured to his chest. “And I’m a sucker for… you made me do it the way you wanted it and that—that’s just…”
He sighed so blissfully Steve laughed again, and trailed his fingers in Bucky’s hair for a little while.
“What about what I said about you being needy?” he said quietly.
Bucky blinked. Oh yeah, that part. “It was… good,” he said, then amended a bit hesitantly, “when you said it.”
“You know I didn’t mean it,” Steve said. “Also about the training and caning stuff. Just words.”
Bucky was twitching again just from that. “That was very okay,” he assured him. Then he laughed. “God, of course you’d be the type to do a full debrief.”
“People should always do full debriefs,” Steve said, with his Righteous Eyebrows on.
Bucky grabbed Steve’s hand, laced their fingers together. “So, what, you a Dom? For real?”
“Um,” Steve said. “I tried… well—a lot of stuff.”
That made Bucky’s eyebrows rise, but Steve wasn’t finished. “But like I said… no one really ever… expected that from me, so. But I have. Fantasies?” He was blushing. “I’ve always liked being rough. People would rather push me around.”
“And people would rather I push them around,” Bucky said.
He must have had a really dopey smile, because Steve’s lips twitched a little and he asked, “What’re you lookin’ at?”
“You’re too good,” Bucky said hazily. “We fit.” He raised his hand to touch Steve’s jaw. “I never had that before.”
Steve just looked at him. Bucky blinked, then rubbed a hand over his eyes. “Huh. Brain-to-mouth filter. Sorry.” He wanted to roll out of Steve’s lap and then get up, but Steve stopped him. “Not that way, unless you want sticky white stuff in your hair.”
“Gross,” Bucky said, inching back into Steve’s lap. He looked up. “You’re not really gonna make me lick it up, are you?”
Steve just looked at him, like he was considering it, and that tapped into the very submissive core of Bucky, so much that he physically shuddered and felt his cock twitch again.
But then Steve cracked up and shook his head. “Don’t trust college floors much,” he said. “’Specially not yours.”
“Thank God,” Bucky said, sarcastic. And then he blurted, “I got tested, you know.”
Steve blinked. “What?”
“Last week. I went to get tested. I’m sorry I didn’t go before.”
“Oh,” Steve said, looking surprised that Bucky would be so thoughtful—when he’d probably done this weeks ago without needing to be reminded. “I—”
Of course, that was when Bucky’s phone buzzed.
where are u guys?
in the dining hall, Nat answered. hurry. don’t let steve look
“Bucky, what’s going on?” Steve said. “Gimme your phone.”
“No!” Bucky said, keeping it out of reach.
“Buck, stop mothering me!” Steve yelled. “I’m gonna see it eventually!”
“Stark took it down last time,” Bucky said. “He’ll do it again.”
“Took what down? Bucky—hey!” Steve grabbed a handful of Bucky’s shirt. “Bucky, tell me what’s happening,” he said, “or I swear to God—Bucky, you said we fit!”
Bucky stopped dead.
Steve swallowed. “You said—we fit—and I never had that before either, okay? I never had that.” He was pale. “Buck, don’t treat me like I’m gonna break. Not you.”
Bucky looked at him.
“Okay,” he said.
“Okay,” Bucky repeating quietly. He took a deep breath. “’Bout a week ago someone posted an ask on the Daily Rogers saying you had AIDS.”
Steve’s sheer surprise overcame any other kind of shock for a second. “What?” he stammered. “But I don’t—I don’t.” The blood drained from his face. “Is that why you went to get tested?”
“No,” Bucky said firmly. “I got tested to make sure I didn’t give you anything.”
“Why didn’t I hear about this?”
“Stark managed to hack in it somehow and remove the post,” Bucky said. “Don’t think anyone saw it.”
“But you saw it!” Steve said. “Why didn’t you talk to me? I coulda told you I wasn’t—”
“I didn’t ask you ‘cause then it’d sound like I didn’t trust you,” Bucky said.
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” Steve yelled. “You don’t just let somethin’ like that loom over you and do nothing—”
“I didn’t do nothing,” Bucky shouted, “I went to get tested!”
They stopped and panted at each other for a second.
“I went to get tested,” Bucky repeated. “Not because I give any credit to some cowardly fuck writing shit about you. But because it was about time I did it, anyway.”
Steve shook his head, but said nothing for a long while.
“You got your results yet?” he asked.
“In a few days,” Bucky murmured.
There was another silence.
“Bucky, you gotta tell me about stuff like this,” Steve said, voice shaking just a little. “You gotta tell me.”
“Okay,” Bucky said softly. “Okay, Stevie. I’m sorry.”
“Ain’t no sorry,” Steve said. “Just—don’t do it again.”
“Okay,” Bucky repeated, even quieter.
Steve swallowed, then looked at him. “So show me this one.”
Bucky’s hand clenched around the phone, but Steve was right. He deserved to know.
Bucky showed him.
Anonymous asked: STEVE ROGERS SOLD HIS ASS IN HIGH SCHOOL
Steve was still holding Bucky’s shirt, but Bucky felt his hand slip and caught him just in time to keep him from collapsing completely.
His phone clattered to the ground.
“Steve! Steve,” Bucky called, bringing them both on the floor, slowly. Steve hadn’t quite passed out, but he was pale and limp. “Christ. Steve.”
“M’fine,” Steve said hazily. He was already pushing to get up. “I’m fine. Drop in blood pressure. Happens all the damn time.”
“Dammit, Steve, stay still,” Bucky said, but Steve wasn’t listening.
“It’s Rumlow,” he said. “He’s the only one to… the only one to know. He and Nat.”
“To know what?” Bucky asked, disoriented.
Steve squared his jaw and picked up the phone, glaring at the anonymous ask. Then he gave it back to Bucky.
“That one is true,” he said, without looking at him.
Bucky blinked. Then he said, “Steve.” More firmly, “Steve.”
Steve looked up. His eyes were so blue.
“I don’t care,” Bucky said. “I don’t even need to know why. I don’t care.”
“How can you not care?” Steve asked, sounding almost angry. Of course he sounded angry.
“In Romania,” Bucky began, then he gave up and said, “fuck it—I love you,” and kissed him there, in the middle of the hall.
After a little while, Steve’s hands hesitantly came up to tangle in Bucky’s hair. When Bucky pulled back, Steve gave him his tiny crooked smile.
“I shoulda told you,” he mumbled.
“You didn’t have to,” Bucky said. “You never would’ve had to. Hell, Steve, what do I care?”
“Most people, they’re gonna stick their dick in a former teenage hooker, they appreciate a warning,” Steve said.
Bucky raised an eyebrow. “And here I was hoping you’d stick your dick in me.”
Steve blinked at him. And then he started laughing. It was probably the same kind of laugh Bucky had muffled behind clenched fists the first night Steve had slept in his bed, bloody and bruised. But Steve looked like it did him good; when he was done, he wasn’t ashen like before, and he was only wheezing in the good way.
“I love you too,” he said. “I really fucking love you.”
“Shut up,” Bucky mumbled awkwardly, pulling him close again.
It was a terrible way to react to a declaration of love, but, well. He wouldn’t have known what to say. Nobody had ever said that to him.
Steve looked like he understood; he gave in to the hug, breathing into Bucky’s shirt for a minute.
“I told Rumlow,” he mumbled, voice muffled. “Freshman year. I was being dumb. But he was—” He shrugged. “I thought I could tell him.”
“You are a terrible judge of character,” Bucky said. “Look at who you’re dating.”
Steve stepped back to smile at him, his little crooked smile. “You’re better than the lot of them, Buck. You’re the best person I know.”
“Didn’t you meet Sam? I was sure you’d met Sam.”
“Jesus Christ,” Steve said. Things were going back to normal. “Fine, have it your way and go die alone.” He ruined his effect by grabbing Bucky’s hand and interlocking their fingers, squeezing tight.
He took a deep breath, then said, “You said the others were waiting for us?”
“Yeah. They’re in the dining hall to grab the best wifi on campus. Stark’s trying to take the post down. But we don’t have to go.”
“We’re going,” Steve said at once. He looked up, eyes searching. “You’re okay, right?”
“Am I—” Bucky cut himself off and smiled. “Yeah, Stevie, I’m fine. C’mon, let’s go.”
It was freezing outside. Bucky thought of their warm little room with longing. He wasn’t exactly okay. What Steve had told him hadn’t fully sunk in, but the sheer maliciousness of the ask was what worried him most. He wanted to get back to the moment half an hour ago, with Steve’s voice in his ears and nothing else in the whole damn world.
“When I was seventeen, my mom got sick,” Steve said. They were still holding hands. Easier to talk like that. Bucky could understand it.
“Like real sick,” Steve went on as they walked along the pathway, puffing out clouds in the cold air. “And we needed money for the hospital and for this place and for a ton of other things.” He shrugged. “So I waited till I was eighteen, so I wouldn’t get anyone in trouble. Friend of mine hooked me up with this online thing.”
Snowflakes were twirling around. A sudden thought struck Bucky.
“Anything to do with your tattoos?”
Steve’s lips twisted in what could’ve been a smile in another life. “Yeah. They only had a slot for a guy with tattoos. Any tattoos. It was so dumb but I needed the job. A friend of mine was practicing, could do it for free s’long as it was just lines. So I got ‘em.”
Bucky wanted to know if Steve had only done stuff on cam, or if he’d met strangers, too, strangers who’d put their hands on him, strangers who could have hurt him, so damn easily. But Steve answered that with what he said next, trudging angrily in the snow.
“I’m a professional,” he said. “Or I was, anyway. I never barebacked. I went to get checked every six weeks. I’m clean.”
He wouldn’t look up. Bucky’s fingers tightened around Steve’s hand.
“I’m with you, iubitule. You know that, right?”
Steve looked up at him. The tip of his nose was red in the cold. He was wearing his huge ugly scarf. “I know you are,” he said. “But Buck—I also know who you are. And I’d understand.”
It took Bucky a few seconds to understand what he meant. He hadn’t even realized Steve might know about George Barnes and his business empire. When he finally got it, Bucky laughed a little, mirthlessly. “Oh, don’t worry about my reputation, Rogers. Pretty sure my dad already disowned me.”
Steve blinked. “What?”
Bucky shrugged. “I came out last year, and, well. He’s old-fashioned that way.” It was almost easy to stop his voice from wavering. “So, hope you weren’t in it for the money.”
“Curses,” Steve said quietly. “You discovered my evil plan.” His hand squeezed Bucky’s harder. “I’m with you too.”
Bucky looked at him, then away, with a thin smile. “You’re a sap.”
“You started it.”
They didn’t say much more as they walked to the dining hall, but they didn’t let go of each other’s hand.
“You told him,” Natasha said at once when they came in.
“Yeah, he did, and I’m okay,” Steve said. “I am.”
Bruce and Clint were there, too. For once, they weren’t dancing around each other. Clint was scrolling down his phone and Bruce staring at it with his face entirely devoid of expression. Sam had gotten up when they’d come in, even though the dining hall was nearly empty.
“Hey,” he said, coming closer. “I’m sorry about this, man.”
Steve shook his head. “It’s not your fault.”
“No, I think it’s all of our faults,” Sam said, voice serious. “We looked the other way and we let it happen. Telling ourselves it wasn’t that bad.”
Steve looked like he never knew what to do with people being nice to him, or even vaguely decent. “It’s not that bad.”
Sam glanced at Bucky. “He always this awful at lying, or is today special?”
“He’s always like that,” Bucky assured him, and Steve punched him in the arm.
“It’s not stopping,” Clint said, still scrolling down. “There’s more and more. It’s like it’s open season, Jesus.” He winced. “They’re getting really nasty.”
Steve didn’t ask to see, which relieved Bucky very much.
“Where the fuck is Stark?” Natasha asked. “He said he’d meet us here, but he’s not answering his phone.”
“I can go look for him,” Clint offered, but then the doors at the back of the room opened and Stark came in, hair disheveled like something had blown up in it, holding a laptop in front of him and typing one-handed with a manic look.
“This,” he mumbled, “is very, very, very frustrating. Is there coffee anywhere? I could use coffee.” He saw Steve and winced. “Oh, good, you’re here.”
“Are you getting somewhere?” Bucky asked.
“No,” Tony said, “like I said, frustrating, they changed the password and they made it good this time.”
“What about all these asks?” Sam said. “There’s dozens of them.”
“That’s the usual traffic,” Tony said, settling on the corner of the table, facing them all. “Coffee, c’mon, it’s a dining hall, I’m sure it can be found.”
Steve looked at him.
“What do you mean, the usual traffic?”
“It’s Tumblr, duh. Idiot little anons spewing their venom all over the place—it’s not new. Usually I just don’t let them through. But they changed the password and I can’t crack it and it’s getting annoying.”
There was a pause interrupted only by Tony’s frantic typing and muttering. They all just looked at him.
Then Bruce flipped the table.
Bucky did not see it coming. Bruce had stayed frozen and silent during the whole affair. But he got up and flipped over the entire table with unsuspected strength, sending a few empty cups of coffee to crash everywhere, throwing Stark’s laptop to the ground and throwing Stark himself to topple backwards.
It could have been funny. It would have been funny, if it was in a movie. But Bruce had actually thrown a fucking table and he now looked like he wanted to break Tony’s actual neck, and there was nothing funny at all about all this.
“Bruce!” Tony squeaked. “What the fu—”
“It’s you?” Bruce roared. “It was you the whole time?”
And for the first time Bucky understood that Bruce hadn’t been kidding at all every time he’d mentioned anger issues.
“How could you,” Bruce hissed heinously, striding across the flipped table to grab Tony’s collar, choking him, “how did you dare, you miserable piece of—”
“Bruce, Jesus Christ!” Clint said, grabbing him from behind. “Let him go!”
Tony twisted out of Bruce’s grip and scrambled backwards, coughing; Bruce fought to break free from Clint’s hold and stalk forwards again. “You lied to me for three years,” he said, “you knew how I felt about this, you pretended to care, you pretended to try to take it down, and you were lying this whole time!”
“I didn’t hurt anybody!” Tony yelled back. “It was just for fun!”
“For fun?” Bruce shouted. “Clint, let me go!”
“No,” Clint said, panting a little with the effort.
“Clint, I’m warning—”
Bruce’s elbow suddenly connected with Clint’s face; Clint stumbled backwards with a single cry of pain. Bruce almost lost his balance, eyes wide.
Sam rushed forward to help Clint, who was hissing with pain and trying to contain the flow of blood rushing from his nose. Bruce stepped back, looking horrified.
“I didn’t mean—” he was pale, glancing at Bucky and Steve and Tony and then Clint again, “I’m so—I don’t—” He was stumbling back.
“B’fine!” Clint blurted from the floor. “Bruce, you idiod, b’fine.”
“I’m sorry,” Bruce said, and then he ran out of the room.
“Aw, shit—Bruce,” Tony called, starting to get up, but Natasha was suddenly in front of him and slamming him back down with a foot to his chest.
“You stay here,” she snarled. “Sam,” she said, “take Clint to the bathroom. Clint: I’ll find Bruce. And you,” she said, looking at Bucky who nodded grimly at her, no words needed.
She locked eyes with Steve for half a second, then ran out of the room after Bruce.
Bucky looked at Tony, who was still gaping at Natasha; but then he noticed Bucky’s eyes on him and suddenly started talking very quickly.
“I didn’t let anything through that wasn’t true or harmless,” he said. “It was an experiment, alright? It wasn’t even supposed to be just about Rogers, just a blog about the campus, a social, fuck, a social study! I thought it’d last a few weeks at most but people kept sending me stuff and it was all about him!” he exclaimed, turning to Steve. “It’s not my fault! It’s what people liked to talk about! And it turned into this big thing and I couldn’t see any harm in—”
“What about the AIDS ask?” Steve asked, voice very tense.
Tony stopped short.
“That wasn’t me,” he said. “People try to take the Daily Rogers down, or to break in—all the time. It’s good practice for me, actually. But they somehow got past me for the first time in three years. They must have gotten someone good. They hadn’t changed the password, though, so I changed it myself to keep them out, and deleted the ask.”
“That was your miraculous feat of computer engineering?” Bucky growled. “You changed the password of your own Tumblr?”
“Yes,” Tony said dryly, getting back up. “But then their guy figured it out again, and this time he was quick enough to change it and I’ve been trying to crack it for an hour.” He scowled. “Jesus, stop looking at me like that. How many times am I gonna have to say it? No one was hurt.”
“Yes,” Bucky said, “you were,” and he punched him in the face.
Tony fell back down with a yelp and Steve pulled Bucky away, but he was already stepping back. It was the first time he punched someone; it hurt more than he’d thought, and he was mindlessly shaking his hand, but it was a distant concern.
“If you’re gonna tell me not to fight for you,” Bucky began without looking at Steve.
“Yeah, I am,” Steve said. “It’s not worth it.”
Bucky glanced at him. The look in his eyes was cold and mostly tired. Bucky felt a pang of pain for him. “Steve…”
“Let’s get out of here,” Steve said. “Let’s go get coffee.”
Bucky nodded, with a knot in his throat. “Yeah, alright. Coffee sounds great.”
Just before they left the dining hall, they heard Stark say, “Guys—come on,” but then the door closed behind them and they were out in the clear crispy air.
They sipped coffee in silence for an hour or so. The Starbucks was almost empty. Steve was looking out the window, and Bucky wasn’t going to disturb him. Their ankles were tangled under the table, making up for all the other ways they weren’t touching.
The jingle of the door made them look up. Natasha came in with a very sheepish-looking Bruce, hunched on himself and staring at the floor. She brought him to their table and told Steve, “Will you come help me pick a drink?”
“Sure,” Steve said after a second of hesitation. He got up and followed her to the counter. Bucky stayed alone with Bruce; Natasha and Steve deserved a few moments alone.
In the corner of his eye, he could see them exchange a few words Bucky couldn’t hear. Natasha squeezed Steve’s bony shoulder; he glared at her, but then she smiled and he smiled back, and then they both turned towards the list of drinks and that was that.
Bruce wasn’t saying a word.
“So,” Bucky said after a long, awkward minute. “Anger issues, huh?”
It was such an insensitive thing to say it drew a wan, tired smile out of Bruce.
“I’m sorry,” he said under his breath.
“You ask me, Steve gets angry enough on a regular basis,” Bucky said. “Thanks for shouting louder than him.”
Bruce glanced up then back down, lightning quick. He looked mostly confused—like he couldn’t understand why no one was yelling at him. It broke Bucky’s heart a little.
“Is Clint okay?” Bruce asked in a small voice.
“Ask him yourself,” Sam called.
Bruce stiffened abruptly. Sam closed the door behind him, then pushed Clint towards them and walked towards the counter. (Natasha gave him an appreciative look, and they high-fived casually before pecking each other on the lips. Natasha then drew Sam into her debate with Steve over which drink to pick, which the three of them were way too involved about.)
Clint had bloody paper towels hanging out of his nose in twisty little rat tails, browning stains on the front of his shirt, and he looked completely ridiculous. He was glaring at Bruce, who shrank in on himself even more.
“I’m so sorry,” Bruce said wanly. “It was… it was an accident.”
“I dow, you boron,” Clint said. “Look ad be.”
Bruce looked up, and Clint looked at him, and Bucky suddenly realized he should have been with the other three pretending to argue about Starbucks drinks.
He hurriedly drew back his chair. “I need another coffee.”
“Ah, Bucky,” Natasha said casually when he hurried up to the counter. “Nice of you to join us.”
“Shut up,” Bucky said, cheeks heating. “You’re the one who left me there with them.”
In the background, Bruce and Clint were sharing the most unsexy first kiss ever, which neither seemed to mind or realize. Bucky resolutely turned his back to them.
Sam glanced at Steve. “Are you going to be alright?” he asked in an undertone.
Steve nodded. “Yes,” he said. “Actually, I think I’m going to take another dark roast. What do you think?”
Natasha rolled her eyes, but put her hand on Steve’s shoulder and left it there. Sam grabbed her free hand, then smirked at Bucky. “I dunno,” he said, “I think he should try the sweet stuff once in a while.”
“You’re the worst,” Bucky said, and Sam slung an arm around him. In the midst of all this, Steve’s hand found Bucky’s, and they all held onto each other.
“Huh.” Bucky shut off his phone. “Stark musta gotten in. It’s gone.”
“The asks?” Steve asked sleepily.
“Nah. The whole thing.”
Steve slowly sat up in the bed and pulled Bucky’s phone towards him, squinting at the bright light of the screen. When he saw the error page, he just stared for a few seconds.
“Must’ve been their goal all along,” Bucky said, reaching up to pet the flimsy hair on Steve’s nape. “Rumlow and whoever else flooded the askbox. Ruin the whole thing.”
“Why would they want it shut down?”
“Because Stark was right, much as I hate to say it,” Bucky said. “It wasn’t only a bad thing. It gave you power. It gave you protection. It gave you visibility. Like any other kind of fame.”
Steve said nothing for a long time.
“I don’t understand why Stark told us,” he said eventually. “He made it seem like he’d let it slip out, but he told us.”
“He’d lost control of the situation. Maybe he panicked.” Bucky trailed his fingertips in Steve’s golden hair. “Maybe he got to know you this past month and felt guilty. He always does things in the most ass-backwards way.” He shrugged. “I don’t know. Banner was the one who was really his friend.”
Steve was looking into the dark.
“Do you think they’ll be alright?”
“Stark and Bruce?” Bucky asked. “I don’t know. Guess time will tell.”
Steve stayed silent for an even longer while.
“It’s gone,” he said at last, like he was testing out the words. “It’s really gone.”
“Yeah,” Bucky said. He slipped his hand under Steve’s shirt to feel his back under his palm, the slow expanse of his ribs when he breathed. “You gonna miss it?”
Steve said nothing for a while longer. Then he smiled, a faint wan thing, but still his first real smile since Tony had revealed himself.
“Hell no,” he said.
I can’t believe the Daily Rogers is gone :( it all happened so fast! we’ll always have the #dailyrogers tag but it’s just not the same…
We should start another one! Who’s with me? #bringitback
You guys are fucking hopeless. This tumblr was awful from beginning to end. Did you read the asks they were sending last night?
Did any of you ever stop to consider Rogers’ actual feelings? No. You just wanted to have your fun.
It led to him getting sexually assaulted and you’re talking about starting it up again.
ummm kisses aren’t sexual assault last time I checked :/
where the fuck do you get off???? of course they are
Show more notes
Bucky’s heart was hammering in his chest. For a split second, he envisioned the worst and knew how it would feel—but it was just a split second, because then he opened the envelope, and he knew.
The noise of the door opening made him look up; Steve was chatting with Carter, but excused himself when he saw Bucky waiting for him.
“Hey,” Steve said, hurrying closer. “You got ‘em?”
“Yeah,” Bucky said.
“So I’m clean,” Bucky shrugged, trying to play it casual. “I told you it wasn’t—mm,” because then Steve kissed him. He grinned, then gave in to the idiocy and hugged his tiny boyfriend, because he hadn’t been worried—really, he hadn’t—but still, it was suddenly much easier to breathe.
“That’s good,” Steve said, gripping his hair and getting on his tiptoes to say in his ear, “’cause I have plans for tonight.”
Bucky shivered. Steve released his hair. “’Course, I woulda have plans too otherwise. Only they would have involved a condom.”
“You’re such a romantic,” Bucky said, but he couldn’t stop smiling.
It had snowed for good, and they walked up to the dining hall side by side to stay warm.
“We still meeting up with the others for lunch?” Steve asked.
“Yeah, I—” Bucky cut himself off; Stark was disappearing around the corner, hurrying up in the obvious hope that they wouldn’t see him.
There was an awkward moment; then Steve shook his head. “You know, I’m not even mad at him,” he said. “I think he’s getting punished enough, anyway.”
“Banner still not talking to him?”
“No,” Steve said, “and he moved out of their dorm, too. Sleeps at the frat house now.”
Bucky shrugged. He was still angry at Stark. Bruce still looked miserable whenever they talked about him—he’d been so convinced people would be mad at him for attacking Tony; it was obvious enough he was still mad at himself. Bucky wasn’t sure what to think about that. The Bruce he’d seen that day had scared him, but he couldn’t say he didn’t understand his reaction.
Hell, he’d punched Stark. His knuckles still ached a little. It had felt good.
Maybe Steve was right, maybe Stark had been punished enough, but Bucky still saw red whenever he thought of the way he’d made Steve suffer for three long years. Bucky wasn’t ready to forgive yet. He left that responsibility to Banner, anyway. When the time came, maybe he’d follow.
Natasha was already in front of the dining hall, waiting for them. She was talking to a tall, thin guy with long black hair.
“Hey,” Steve said. “Isn’t that the guy from the laundry room?”
“It’s Laufeyson,” Bucky said, realizing it as he said it. “Clint’s roommate.”
As they got closer, the look on Natasha’s face got clearer. She had her business mask on, and Laufeyson looked just as cold and composed, if slightly more amused.
“…and so we’re even,” he was saying. He looked up and saw them; his thin lips curved into a smile, and then he turned away. “Pleasure doing business with you,” he tossed over his shoulder.
“What did he want?” Steve asked.
“Insurance against me,” Natasha said.
She smiled, a nice smile, kinda like a shark. “He was their hacker. The one who kicked Stark’s ass twice. Did it for the sport of it, apparently.”
Bucky looked at Laufeyson’s retreating back. “How did you find out?”
“Oh, Clint had an intuition,” she said. “He’s very observant.”
Bucky blinked. “So it was Laufeyson? The ask on the day we got together?”
“No,” Natasha said. “That was Stark himself. But all the others?” She waved a small flash drive before their eyes. “Shouldn’t have trusted Laufeyson to keep their secrets.”
“What’s on this?” Steve asked.
“The names of every single asshole who sent an ask on the last day,” Natasha said. She gave it to Steve. “Here. It’s yours.”
Steve took it, looked at it, and then pocketed it.
“You’re gonna throw it away, aren't you,” Bucky said.
Steve just pushed the door of the dining hall. “I’m gonna keep a table,” he said, and vanished inside.
Bucky rolled his eyes. “Fuckin’ self-sacrificing noble idiot.”
“Don’t worry,” Natasha said. She waved an identical flash drive at him. “I’m not noble.”
Bucky grinned at her. “Keepin’ this for leverage?”
“You bet.” The flash drive disappeared in her bag.
Sam, Clint and Bruce were coming up the walkway, and Natasha waved at them. Bucky tongued at the dent in his cheek, only to realize it wasn’t there anymore.
Somehow, it didn’t surprise him.
“Except for Rumlow,” Natasha went on. “I need to find a creative idea.”
Bucky was not a violent man. Or—he’d thought he wasn’t. But he felt himself grin wider. “I’m all for arts and crafts.”
There’s nothing here.
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