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shingles, pencils, and windows to a better world

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Our houses were built so close that the eve outside my bedroom window touched his. His name was James Buchanan Barnes and he had the most shit eating grin I had ever seen.

I first met him on the roof. He sat under the moonlight, a pale glow illuminating the tattoos that adorned his upper left arm, glinting off the small silver piercing in his lip, and giving his shaggy yet styled hair a faint silvery tinge.

“I’m Bucky Barnes,” he said the second time I met him, up on his roof. His voice was smooth like oil paint and deep like the night sky. It was absolutely gorgeous.

“Steve,” I replied, looking up from my sketchbook, meeting his eyes shyly. He smiled. It was a nice smile, a small curve of his full lips, almost a smirk, and from the moment I saw it, it drove my heart crazy.

“How long have you lived here?” He asked, sliding across his roof to where the lip of his roof met the lip of mine. I did the same.

“For my entire life.” I confessed. “Haven’t seen you around, when did you move in?”

“Just last week, although I’ve lived in Brooklyn my whole life as well.” He replied. I studied his face as he spoke. He had a strong jaw and a straight nose, almost a symmetrical face. God he would be a dream to draw. With that an idea crossed my mind.

“Hey, do you think you could help me with something?” I asked nervously, unsure with how he would respond to a request like this.

“Anything.” He smiled, and I grinned.

“Just stay right there.” I told him as I flipped to a blank page in my worn sketchbook. “I’m an arts student and I’m mostly a portrait artist. I’ve been working on drawing from real life models.”

“Oh Steve, I’m no model, I’m but a humble car mechanic but I’ll pose for you.” Bucky replied with an almost flirtatious manner. When he said my name a shiver ran down my spine and I smiled slightly as he attempted the most ridiculous poses before just facing me so I could sketch him.

About an hour later the first glimmers of sunrise began to show and I was practically asleep on my sketchbook. Thank god it was a weekend.

“Stevie?” Bucky gently prodded my shoulder. I snapped out of my daze. “Go to bed, man. We can continue later.” He said with a soft smile. My heart leapt. He wanted to see me again. I nodded and packed up my supplies.

“Get some rest, buddy. Here’s my number.” Bucky quickly scribbled down some numbers and I gave him mine.

“You too.” I replied with a shy smile before climbing back through my window and into my own bed, falling asleep before my head hit the pillow. Bucky being my last thought.

Hanging out on the roof with Bucky became almost a routine in the two months that passed. We became closer and closer and I learned more and more about him. He was kicked out last year after coming out as pansexual on his 18th birthday. Nearly a year later he moved in to the house across from mine after crashing at friend’s houses and renting sketchy apartments for cheap throughout Brooklyn and living there for as long as he could before they were eventually raided by the police due to the abundance of criminals that also inhabited the buildings generally. He didn’t have much but he was slowly getting back on his feet after he got a job at a local mechanic’s shop. He was full of stories of doing reckless things with his other intimidating punk friends and getting into trouble. If i had seen him on the street with his friends I would have been terrified. I was but a small, gay, suspender wearing, Brooklyn hipster. Bucky was in fact the sweetest person I had met up until that point and I was developing feelings very very fast. I was laying, stretched out on my bed when my phone buzzed, making me jump. I had a text from Bucky.

Buck: are you busy ??

me: nope. what’s up?

Buck: I need you. Roof.

I jumped out of bed quickly. We had developed a code where if we needed someone to speak to we would text “roof” and we would meet up. It warmed my heart to know that he actually wanted to see me. I opened my window and clambered out onto the connecting roofs to find Bucky with his head between his knees, shaking. My heart dropped. Something was very wrong. I had never seen Bucky in a state that bad. My mouth was dry as I stepped over the gap between our houses and sat down next to Bucky’s shaking form.

“Steve?” He mumbled, not looking up.

“I’m here Buck.” I replied, lacing my fingers with his gently. I felt Bucky’s fingers squeeze back, letting me know that he was grateful, and we just sat there as the sun slowly went down over the city skyline. Bucky’s breathing slowly went normal and he relaxed. “Steve Grant Rogers, where would I be without you.” He said, wrapping an arm around me and pulling me down so I could lay next to him. He looked absolutely gorgeous.

“Bucky?” I asked nervously.

“Yeah Stevie?” He replied, stretching out and laying on his side to face me. My ears burned red at the pet name. Bucky smirked a little. He was definitely flirting now. My heart leapt. I needed to make some sort of move soon. It was killing me.

“My mum...She wanted to know if you would like to have supper with us.” I said awkwardly, feeling Bucky’s gaze run over my face.


“Yeah,” I replied, “She’d like to meet you.”

“Well, what are we waiting for?” Bucky said, sitting up and brushing off his clothing. I smiled and lead him through my window and into my bedroom. Bucky had been to my house before but my mother was never alone. She knew that I had a thing for Bucky but she wanted to meet him before she’d allow me to make any sort of move. I loved my mother with my whole heart and I was so grateful she was such an accepting mother. Me and Bucky made our way down the rickety stairs to find my mother had made pasta for dinner. We sat down across from my mother. My heart was racing, Bucky was sitting next to me his tattoos showing, his lip piercing glinting in the light, his hair ruggedly handsome, and my mother was sitting across from us. I wondered what she was thinking of him. Did she think he was one of the other punks with their loud basement shows, and they’re reckless ways? I made eye contact with her across the table and she gave me a small smile, reassuring me. I let out a breath that I didn’t know I was holding and smiled back. Thank God.

Thunder rolled outside of my house as I lay in my bed, my mind a mess of conflicting thoughts. I had fallen hard and fast for Bucky, but I doubted that he saw me as anything more than a little brother. Should I tell him or should I keep our friendship safe and just live with the pain. I stared at my black phone screen, debating wether to text him or not, when a small pebble hit my window. I looked across the roof to see Bucky leaning out his window. I opened mine, making sure the rain wouldn’t get in. I couldn’t tell him.

Bucky beckoned for me to go over to his house and I lifted the window and began walking across the watery roof. As I was just about to climb through Bucky’s window, my foot slipped on a loose shingle and I fell, my head hitting the side of Bucky’s house. Just before I went tumbling off the roof entirely, Bucky managed to catch me and haul me into his room.

“I guess I’m falling for you in a few different ways.” I mumbled, stroking Bucky’s lips with my thumb before passing out cold in his arms.


When I came to, I was laying on Bucky’s bed to find he was softly playing his acoustic guitar, facing away from me. I sat up slowly and winced as a shooting pain passed through my head. Then what I had said before I passed out came back to me and I groaned out loud. Was Bucky going to feel weird around me? My stomach churned at the thought. Bucky heard that I was up and turned around with a concerned look on his face.

“You feeling alright?” He asked, walking over to me and studying the bruise on my forehead.

“Y-yeah?” I said, still terrified of what I had said to my friend. His face fell and I swore silently.

“Hey Steve, did you mean-” He began.

“Yes. I’m sorry Buck, that was really not the way I wanted to tell you but-” It was my turn to be interrupted. Bucky helped me up and gently placed his hands on each side of my face and kissed me very softly, like I was a porcelain doll. I moved one my of my hands to rest on his chest and returned the gentle kiss, standing on my toes to reach him.

When Bucky pulled away he gently rested his forehead against mine, away from my bruise that was just above my hairline, and held my waist with his large hands.

“I can’t think of a better way you could have told me.” He grinned, kissing my head. “Now grab your sweater, I’m going to wine and dine you, you gorgeous fucker.” I gently pushed his chest and laughed with him, loving how he praised me and pulling on my sweater. “Let me just text my mother, she’s been pretty sick and I don’t want to worry her.” I said as Bucky pouted like a puppy because I was taking too long.I rolled my eyes and sent the text before Bucky grabbed my hand and excitedly pulled me out the door to his motorcycle.

But soon after Bucky and I started dating officially, something took a turn for the worst. Mother got sick again.

“Steve...” My mother croaked from the hospital bed. I awoke with a start and met my mother’s eyes.

“Mum? How are you feeling?” I said frantically, grabbing my mother’s thin hand, rubbing my thumb over her near translucent skin.

“Stevie...I want you to start facing reality,” She whispered. My stomach dropped.

“No, no, no mum don’t say that you’ll pull through. You always do.” I was fully awake now and gripping the metal frame of my mother’s bed so tightly my knuckles were white and my legs were shaking.

“I love you very much, baby but this time is the last. You and I both know that I won’t live forever.” She murmured, kissing my shaking hand as hot, panicked, tears spilled down my face. I could hear her heart monitor gradually slow before it flatlined suddenly. Doctors rushed the room and I was escorted out. It was a blur of papers and contracts and payments I could barely afford before I made it back to my house. My awful, silent, empty house. I made a beeline to the roof and as soon as I sat down I broke down. My mother was everything to me, my teacher, my inspiration, my best friend. Sobs tore through my throat as I sat there, letting the pain hit me in the chest full force. At some point Bucky climbed over to my roof and pulled me against his warm chest.

“She’s gone.” I choked out, letting him envelope me.

“I know.” He said quietly, holding me as tight as possible, kissing my head. I gripped him for dear life as he carried me over through his window and into his bedroom, laying me down on his soft bed.

“Do you need to shower?” He asked, knowing full well that I hated the smell of hospitals and in that moment I reeked of one. I nodded and Bucky handed me a towel and one of his shirts for me to wear. I kissed him gratefully and stepped into the bathroom, wiping more tears off of my face. She wouldn’t want me to cry. She’d rather have me celebrate her life. I knew that, but I couldn’t help but cry. It was so empty without her.

After I was finished, Bucky wrapped me up in his arms again and lay down on his bed with me as I continued to cry quietly. I had felt so connected with him that night, and it amazed me that someone could stay with me throughout that breakdown and not tell me to suck it up.

When I came back from my shower, Bucky was waiting on his couch with a blanket and my favourite movies.

I bit my lip and blinked back another wave of tears and hopelessness as I walked quickly to collapse onto Bucky. It felt like my world was ending. Like everything around me was going with her. Bucky pulled me tighter against him, knowing that I always felt comfort with him and held me for a very long time.

“We’ll get through this baby-doll. I promised.” He whispered into my hair. i

“Did I ever tell you that my full name is James Buchanan Barnes?” Bucky asked one night as he lay over me, a year after we started dating, pressing my body into the mattress as his lips roamed the pale skin of my neck. I laughed quietly. Even after a year I was still finding out new things about him.

“You seem like a James.” I replied, running my fingers through the soft baby curls at the base of his skull as his mouth continued to work wonders on my neck.

“I don’t tell many people. I only let the people I love call me James. It makes the relationship special.” He said softly. By then his lips had retreated from my neck and were now hovering over mine as he gazed intently into my eyes, searching for a reaction. My heart began pounding. He loves me? I licked my lips.

“How many people have you told?” I asked, gazing back at his steel blue eyes.

“Just you.”

My cheeks flushed and my heart began to beat faster. I pulled him closer so I could kiss his warm mouth like nothing else in the world existed. “I love you too.” I replied against his skin, letting the stubble around his mouth drag across my smooth skin around my mouth. He loves me. He loves me. He loves me.

“Who would have thought a punk like me would fall for a Brooklyn hipster with a praise kink the size of the fuckin’ sun like you.” Bucky grinned as his calloused hands ran up my thin torso. I laughed. It was true, my praise kink was insane. “Not that I’m complaining, you’re the best thing that’s happened to me baby-doll.” He murmured, sparking a storm of butterflies in my stomach.

Bucky’s skillful hands began slowly unbuttoning my shirt and I let him. I wanted him so bad. I wanted all of him, his flaws, his loud music, his rough hands, his stubble that would give me burns, just him. He was the light in the darkness for me. Before I met Bucky I lived in the empty void that I fell into after my mother died. It was like nothing was real and I made my way through life, wishing the next day would never come, living in the empty house that only made it all worse. Bucky was my light. He saw what I was going through and made sure I would get out of it, and somehow, we fell in love.

“How far are we going with this.” Bucky asked. By then we were stripped down to our underwear and breathing heavily.

“All the way.” I whispered horsely. I felt so vulnerable, laying out underneath Bucky, completely exposed. My skinny frame made my ribs stick out, and my hip bones were like razor blades, but Bucky, god, he made me feel beautiful. He made me feel safe and indestructible and confident. He made me feel loved.

“Jesus Steve...You’re so gorgeous.” He said, his eyes roaming my body. My ears flushed red. Bucky ducked his head down and began feathering my chest with kisses and small love bites.

“So perfect.” He whispered as his strong hands gripped my hips tightly, leaving bruises. My heart swelled as Bucky kissed all over my torso, muttering sweet things and praising me. “James...” I sighed, testing out his first name. Buck let out a quiet moan as he gently bit my right hip bone. “Fuckin’ hell Steve that was hot.” He groaned. I smiled and Bucky sat up to gaze at me. “You look like a prince.” He said, gazing from my flushed face to the hickeys that littered my torso.

“You look like a knight in shining armour coming to rescue me.” I said, running a hand along Bucky’s sharp jaw. I gently placed my hands on the back of his neck, pulling him on top of me fully and kissing him almost desperately. Bucky’s teeth sunk into my lower lip and I allowed his tongue to enter my mouth. My breathing became heavier as the kiss became deeper. Suddenly I could barely breathe at all and I realized that it wasn’t just emotions doing this. I pushed Bucky’s chest hard and wriggled out from under him. What a perfect time to have an asthma attack. I ignored Bucky’s hurt protests as I stumbled out of his bedroom, my hands fumbling with the pocket of my jacket for my inhaler. I managed to get it open and use it seconds before I collapsed on his floor. After a few minutes of gasping like a fish, the sexy atmosphere was gone and Bucky was trying to hold back his laughter. I glared at him, trying to keep a straight face as I sat on his bedroom floor in just my boxers, holding an inhaler.

“James Buchanan Barnes, do not laugh at my medical condition.” I said, my serious tone breaking on the last word and I burst out laughing with Bucky.

“I’m sorry baby-doll,” Bucky wheezed through laughter.

“I hate you.” I grinned as I climbed back into Bucky’s bed once again, letting him get on top of me.

“Let’s take it a bit slower.” He said, pecking my lips softly. I smiled up and him, letting my hands slide over his tattooed skin and muscled back.