GOD I’M GIBBERING THIS WAS SO GOOOOOOOOOD
Can’t sleep either, huh?
(Sam + Steve + road trip + crappy motels. From that night on they don’t bother to book separate rooms.)
I’m not saying truck-stop hookers, but I’m not NOT saying it
clearly, putting me and Nat in the same room for an extended period of time was a very bad idea. SHE MADE ME DO IT.
It was a dark and stormy night, and the truck stop bar where Bucky Barnes was accustomed to spending his nights was as smoky as ever. This was the pits, the dregs, the bottom of the barrel: the lowest of the low passing through, although in fact nobody really passed through, so much as showed up from nearby ranches and sat in stupors and drank until it was time to go home. The air stank of misery; it stank of despair; it stank of unwashed denim. He pulled the brim of his hat down as he leaned against the bar, surveying the paltry crowd. What a sight, he thought grimly. What a sight this was. This was what he had been reduced to. He had never felt more alone, and he had been alone all his life.
“How’s things, Buck,” Al, the bartender, said.
“They’re going, Al,” Bucky said, taking the glass he was handing him. “They’re always going, and there ain’t nothing I can do to stop ‘em. That’s the bitch of life, isn’t it, Al? You can’t never stop a goddamn thing.”
“Sure, Bucky,” said Al. “If you say so.”
“I do fucking say so,” said Bucky. Nobody understood him. That was half of his problem. The other half was that he was alone, even though there were people all around him. That made the loneliness worse.
He was thinking about the profound quality of his loneliness when the man walked in, and everything in the boozy, hazy little purgatory of the bar went as still as if God himself had stopped the earth’s rotation for a moment, just to mark the occasion. He had blue eyes like cornflowers and biceps the size of his own head, and on his bare arms were not one, not two, but a veritable multitude of tattoos that on anyone else would have seemed hideous but on this man seemed simply entrancing. He was, in a word, about as good as it was going to get within a hundred-mile radius of this particular bar. Bucky’s heart stopped in his chest.
SLOW CLAP IT OUT GUYS
walking. Apparently walking is a thing he has to learn how to do again.
"You walk like you’re trying to kill someone, Bucky," Steve says, in what Bucky knows sounds like a supportive tone to the idiots around them, but what is, in fact, Steve Rogers’ patented Why Are You Such A Moron voice.
"People don’t talk to me when I walk like this," Bucky points out.
"They also won’t give you coffee."
And well, fine.
bedtime. The sleeping thing is rough. He thinks it’s safe to blame that on—well, life in general. He’s been frozen on and off for years, and they never kept him awake long enough to need to sleep (he thinks it’s why—well, he thinks that the sleep deprivation contributed to his programming failing). Before that, it’s been the goddamn war, and you slept when you could, where you could. And before that, there’d been the odd jobs Bucky had always worked, anything for an extra penny.
Steve, who’s always slept like a goddamn princess, doesn’t want to hear it. He throws a futon mattress on the floor (Bucky doesn’t even know what a futon is) and pointedly goes to bed. Bucky lays there, and he can feel Steve looking at him.
"Just go to sleep," Bucky snaps, night after night after fucking night.
"You’re keeping me up," Steve replies.
They go to bed at 9:30 and wake up at 7:00, like they’re actually 95 and 96.
"I didn’t want to say anything," Steve says over waffles when Bucky points it out, "but you could really use the beauty sleep, Buck."
Bucky smacks him. “Punk.”
(He gets used to it—eventually. He just requires some physical exertion before he goes to bed, and if he enlists Steve in that—well. It’s for a good cause, and Steve’s always been a sucker for those.)
eating. Steve Rogers can’t cook. Bucky doesn’t know who thought Steve could cook, but he can’t. Sarah Rogers taught Bucky all the family recipes because Steve was never going to carry on the family traditions, only shame.
The Winter Soldier didn’t eat for taste, he ate for sustenance. And it’s a weird thing, retraining himself from that. To eat and enjoy it, to consider a meal, to sit down and consume.
But there’s more available now than boiled dinners and potatoes and whatever things you could get cheap.
"Everyone eats well now," Steve says one night over Indian food. "It’s not seasonal, and you don’t have to make a bone last for a whole winter."
That’d been a bad winter—Steve’d been sick a lot, Bucky’d been working to help support both their families, and Sarah’d just started getting sick. There’d been one bone and by the time they threw it out, they’d gotten months’-worth of broth from it.
They get a lot of take out, places they have to look up, because Bucky thinks he’s been to at least some of them, but can’t remember. It’s easier, somehow, to eat it when it’s an adventure, a fixed point of shared experience instead of—well. This is good.
dating. “You clean up nice, I don’t get why you think she wouldn’t,” Steve says, rifling through his mail. The girl in 9H just flirted with Bucky, and Steve is offended on her behalf that Bucky wasn’t fumbling all over himself to get her number.
"I got a mirror," Bucky points out, because he knows he cleans up nice. He knows, even with the metal arm, he’s got enough going on that a girl will forgive that. Knows he can spin it into a sob story—hell, could just say wounded in combat, which is true. Doesn’t even need a cover—
But that’s the problem. He thinks about it all as covers, lies, how to seduce, edit his own history, get what he wants and then go. And maybe that was how it was, before the war. Maybe that’s how they’d been, but he can’t remember. And even if it was, it was a game, simple and light-hearted and nothing like being whored out for a cause.
"So?" Steve prompts, and Bucky longs for the days when he was goading Steve into dates, not the other way around.
Steve sighs, and picks up a take-out menu as Bucky locks the door of the apartment. He’s seen—they’ve come a long way. Guys who date other guys don’t have it as bad—can even marry, in New York. They even got a word for people who like both, but—thing is. There are other things Bucky’s got to get right. Like going into crowds, feeling threatened, walking like a human, having a social interaction, eating three meals a day and sleeping at night.
The whole dating thing—
"Sudanese?" Steve asks.
"Yeah," Bucky says, and then sighs when Steve hands him the phone to order, because Steve hates ordering food.
TO MANY FEELS I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THESE FEELS, GODDAMN IT.