Bucky has been sick for the better part of the month.
It’s been miserable, for sure. Especially being around Steve who, contrary to his youth, remains healthy always. And so damnably chipper that Bucky actually chanced the harsh cold to make it to the store and stare blearily at the shelves while trying to find that vapor rub he loves so much. Because, let’s face it, Bucky is the hard, intense Bitch Face to Steve’s Labrador puppy smile and while he may love Steve like a brother that doesn’t mean he has to put up with his Little Miss Sunshine shit all the time.
He belatedly realizes that Steve should be the one out of the house standing lost in the pharmaceutical isle of Walmart. Since he lost his arm while in the army he’s always been more about immediate action than forward planning. Anything to keep himself safe. Just not always the best plan, per-se.
Either way, it’s in that isle, somehow only being able to find Baby Aspirin over literally any other kind, which Bucky gets bumped into.
It’s really more like getting rammed into because he just about goes arse-over-teakettle in a puddle of coughing, wheezing goo. So he rights himself, sniffles, and turns to give the most furious look he can to the asshole who’s careening through Walmart at two am.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry.” The man stutters out looking, somehow, more disheveled than Bucky.
There’s not a lot of times in Bucky’s life that he can remember in which he’s actually done a double-take but here he is anyway. The man still all-up-in Bucky’s business is gorgeous. He has dark, silky hair, warm eyes, a smattering of freckles, and dimples. So far he’s hit the jackpot on Bucky’s list of must haves and now he’s feeling so gross that he’s embarrassed he tried to go out at all.
“’S no problem.” Bucky manages, throat raw, while he rights himself.
The man gives Bucky one look and then goes off a mile a minute, “Look, I know how this is going to sound but I need you to pretend to be my boyfriend.”
“Wha?” Bucky manages, brow furrowing.
“Please?” The man begs, looking frantic.
Bucky shrugs and nods, “I’m Bucky.”
“Cool.” The man nods and shakes his hand, leaning back to look out the isle for a second. “I’m Tony. We have thirty seconds before they show so we gotta talk fast.” He grabs Bucky’s metal hand and doesn’t flinch a bit. “We’ve been together for four months. I go to MIT. My mother’s name is Maria we have lunch with her every Saturday and we both hate my father, Howard. You’re turn.”
“We have game night with my best friend, Steve, twice a month. I’m a disabled vet. Make up the rest. I’m very sick. Please help me find the adult aspirin.”
Tony nods with a smile and starts looking the shelves over, “Gotcha, sugar.”
It’s then that a man enters the isle, smile large and hollow, and walks up to Tony without so much as a second look Bucky’s way.
“Tony, I’d swear you were running from me. How have you been?”
He tries to lean in for a hug but Bucky just puts his arm around Tony’s middle and pulls him in like he needs to lean on him. Which isn’t that much of a lie.
The man corrects himself and looks at Bucky more closely, “Who’s this?”
“My boyfriend, Bucky.”
“Nice to meet you.” He looks down at Bucky’s silver hand before sneering. “I’m Justin.”
Bucky doesn’t even dignify him with a response.
Tony’s hand flashes out like a viper and grabs a bottle of Adult Aspirin and smiles thinly, “Well, I hate to leave you but I have to get someone home. He’s been sick for days.”
“I can tell.”
Bucky gives him a look and pointedly coughs in his direction.
“Yeah, well, nice seeing you. We really gotta do this again sometime.”
And then Tony is steering Bucky to the cheek out with the vapor rub, pills, and a last-second decision candy bar in tow.
“You really saved my ass there.”
Bucky shrugs and moves to get his wallet, “I didn’t do much.”
Tony swipes his card before Bucky can pay and doesn’t even say anything about it. Bucky won’t look a gift-horse in the mouth, though.
“Coughing on him was nice.”
“I was going to cough anyway, it may as well be for a good cause.” Bucky sniffles and collects his bags. “Who was he anyway?”
Tony shrugs, “Abusive ex.”
Suddenly, Bucky is tense and ready to fight, “Why didn’t you say so?”
“Because I didn’t think it mattered.” Tony laughs and walks out of the store with him, still holding his hand. “Where did you park?”
The cold is even bitterer than it had been before and snow was beginning to fall, and so Bucky responds despondently, “I walked.”
“Oh.” Tony says and takes one look at Bucky and another at the sheets of snow and shakes his head. “I’ll drive you home.”
The ride home is comfortable. Tony’s car has heated seats and Tony’s keeping the heat on full-blast so Bucky’s just about ready to fall asleep. Where the metal meets flesh is aching something terrible so in between giving directions home he tosses a few pills in his mouth and dry-swallows them. It doesn’t take long to get there before Tony’s pulling into his apartment’s parking lot and doing his best to find a parking spot.
“You can just let me out here.”
Tony shrugs, “I can, but I was going to walk you to your door.”
Bucky lets him, figuring it’s for the best with how feverish he’s feeling, and allows himself be manhandled to his apartment.
“So, I know you’re kind of sick now but maybe when you’re feeling better we could go on a date. A real one.”
Bucky eyes him skeptically and sniffles, “I look like shit.”
“I’m good at seeing the good under the gunk.” Tony smirks, “Think about it?”
Bucky acquiesces and hands over his phone to Tony, “Put your number in, I’ll text you.”
Tony nods, punching it in, and just before he leaves he gives Bucky a peck on the cheek and says, “Don’t keep me waitin’, sugar.”