"The Boy from Ipanema"
"No," Pepper said, putting her hand over Phil's mouth. He blinked at her. "You're coming with us tonight, and you're not leaving early."
He calmly moved her hand down. "I only leave early because I'm co-director of SHIELD, and sometimes—"
"No," she repeated. "Director May said that she's got an old friend ready to cover you, just in case." In other words, Fury. "She agrees that you need a real night out—"
"That's rich, coming from her."
"And," Pepper said, glaring at him, "that you need to spend it with your team. This team, the Avengers. Not your old team."
Melinda had taken over the Bus crew after Phil asked her to share the reins of SHIELD with him. The two teams – the Bus and the Avengers – needed a leader and a liaison respectively, and Phil felt that it was more sensible to become the Avengers' liaison. If anything went… wrong with him, he was surrounded by powerful people who would not hesitate to put him down. Several months on, he'd given them no reason to subdue him, and Bruce performed weekly examinations. With such uncertain parameters, it was impossible to say whether Phil was in the clear, or ever would be. The only blight on what was, otherwise, a very nice job.
He had permanent lodgings in Stark Tower, got to spend time with Clint and Natasha outside of SHIELD work, had the support of superheroes in repairing SHIELD's image – and getting rid of the last of the HYDRA moles – and Pepper Potts always organised the best events. They took place at swanky venues and everyone dined on world-class catering. All in all, Phil could have been doing much worse.
And he felt… safe. He knew that the Avengers could be relied upon to do the right thing, when… if the time came.
Nearby was the greatest perk of working with the team of superheroes. No, not Steve Rogers (Phil was still trying to get past their awkward beginning).
"Come on, Phil," Pepper said, wheedling now. That was possibly even scarier than her usual commanding personality. "You promised."
"I can't remember. Just say you'll come."
He noticed Bucky shifting in place out of the corner of his eye. Phil's heart sped up. He had initially attuned himself to James Barnes's presence when the Winter Soldier joined the Avengers at Steve's request. Phil automatically kept note of any threats. Now… he didn't consider Bucky a real threat. Not a life-threatening type of threat.
Now Phil noticed Bucky's presence for an entirely different reason.
"I…" He sighed. "All right. I'll come along."
"Great! Because Director May mentioned that you can dance, and I expect to see some moves tonight."
Before Phil could protest, Pepper bustled off, ending the conversation. He looked around, but received no support from the others, the traitors.
The problem was that Phil was friends with very observant people. It was a big problem.
"It's true," Clint said, slinging an arm around Phil's shoulders as they straggled at the back of the group, Natasha on Phil's other side. "Got it straight from Steve."
"We weren't even mid-conversation," Phil said. "What on Earth is 'true'?"
"That Bucky saves his last dance for whoever he likes the best."
"In other words, if Barnes returns your feelings, he will ask you to dance last of all," Natasha said dryly. "This is supposed to reassure you in the event that he doesn't ask you to dance right away."
Phil was trying to ignore the fact that they were possibly a bit too loud for comfort, considering that Bucky and Steve had very good hearing, and weren't all that far away.
"We're here," he said, seeing that Tony had ducked to the side. They all followed him into the club. Instead of the usual bump-and-grind atmosphere, they had ended up at some place more to Phil's tastes. A band playing jazz music, people wearing clothes which actually covered the right parts of their body, and an old school movie feel. He could see their old soldiers smiling, taking in familiar surroundings, and nodded approvingly when Tony gave him a raised eyebrow. Pepper winked.
The large group chose a corner of the room to sit, and watched for awhile as they waited for their drinks. They chatted, Steve singing along to the music sometimes, Bucky tapping on the table, and Phil absently tapping his feet.
After the first round, Natasha dragged Clint onto the floor, and they began to demonstrate just why they were substitute instructors for SHIELD's dance classes. The others cheered them, Phil smiling proudly. He'd taught them some of those steps. They returned to their seats while Pepper ordered more drinks.
At some point, Phil had noticed Bucky leave his seat, but he was giving half a mind to Clint's words. He hated the insinuations that one, people knew about his feelings for Bucky, and two, that they might be returned. He knew they wouldn't be. When he felt a heavy hand on his shoulder, that confirmed it, as far as he was concerned.
"Can you really dance?"
"Yes," Phil replied.
Bucky nodded, eyeing him. Then he held out his other hand. "Dance with me?"
I knew it, Phil thought. He smiled anyway, and took Bucky's hand. He noticed Natasha and Clint's confused expressions as Bucky led him on to the dance floor, and shrugged subtly enough for them to see. Once among the other dancers, though, he didn't let himself dwell on the thought that he wasn't being saved until last. He'd heard himself that Bucky only danced with each person once. If Steve was right, and Clint, and Natasha… then it was possible that Bucky had overheard their conversation on the way here, and was making it known that he didn't want Phil in that way.
'The Girl from Ipanema' began to play. So the music wasn't just from the forties.
"May I lead?" Bucky asked. Phil nodded. He tried not to shiver when Bucky's hand landed on his waist. "Would you like me to swap hands?"
"No! No. It's fine."
"Okay." Bucky looked at him strangely, but then swung Phil out on the beat, and back again, without warning. Startled, Phil's free hand landed on Bucky's chest. For a moment, he could feel the warm, hard muscle, and he nearly swooned. But then Bucky was moving his hips, and nudging Phil's knees. He quickly began to move his feet in a triple step, back and forth, following Bucky's lead. He kept his hands on Bucky's upper arms, and began to smile again. Bucky smiled in return, and spun Phil out again, before tugging him back into place. As they grew used to each other, their steps grew more adventurous. Phil couldn't recall the last time he danced for the sake of dancing, let alone in public, and to one of his favourite styles of music.
"You know what you're doing," Bucky commented.
"So do you," Phil said.
"Well, I used to do a lot of dancing," he said. "This kind."
"Of course. You must be pleased that we're here tonight, instead of somewhere else."
"Yes. The other places… they give me a headache."
"I'm glad to escape whenever I can, I have to admit," Phil said. "They're definitely headache-inducing."
Bucky smiled, and spun Phil around. "It started with a crush on Carmen Miranda."
"Doesn't it always?" Phil remarked. If he was bisexual, there was still no reason for Bucky to have feelings for Phil, let alone lo…
"A buck for your thoughts?"
"What?" Phil stared at Bucky, who grinned cheekily.
"With inflation, I doubt a penny would cover it these days," he said.
"Oh. Uh, they're not worth it."
"You won't let me be the judge of that?"
Thanking all the available gods, Phil was relieved to note that they'd reached the end of the song. There was applause, and he blushed when he saw that there was a wide berth around them, and that the applause was for them. He felt the chuckle through Bucky's chest. As the clapping died down, and the band jumped into the next number, Phil pulled back. Bucky didn't let him go.
"Another?" he said.
"You… you want to dance with me again?"
"But I thought…"
"You thought what?"
"That you…" Damn it, why couldn't he complete any of his sentences? Bucky frowned slightly, and led Phil over to the bar, away from the others. He kept his arm linked around Phil's while he ordered two drinks.
"That I what?"
"That you never dance with the one person more than once a night," Phil said.
Bucky snorted, and downed half his drink in one go. "I don't have the right dancing chemistry with any of them. I'm just being polite. And now that I can dance with both men and women, it means more dancing for me." His smile turned bitter. "I remember that I enjoyed it before… before…"
"Yes," Phil said. He brushed his fingers against the side of Bucky's closest hand, which happened to the be the metal one. There must have been some kind of sensor in it, because Bucky glanced at him.
"Will you dance with me again?" he asked. "Please, Phil. We never get to see you."
Puppy dog eyes. Always the puppy dog eyes.
"Of course," Phil said. "Just let me know when it gets to the last dance."
Bucky averted his eyes. "Why?"
"Because I know you… I know you prefer to save that for someone else."
"Steve told you that?"
"More that I heard it on the grapevine."
"Well… yeah, it's true. I like to save the best `til last. There just hasn't been the opportunity to have a best. Not `til now."
Phil rubbed the scar left from his surgery. "Uh-huh? Then tell me when you want to stop."
"I was hoping…"
Then Bucky shook his head fiercely, and drained the last of his drink. Phil hurried to finish his, and let Bucky steer him back onto the dance floor in time for the next song.
"What were you hoping?" he asked. It was his turn to ask the questions.
Bucky faltered on a step, and nearly trod of Phil's toes. He apologised, and fell back into their rhythm. The music was slower, and they were forced to dance closer by the number of other couples, including some of their friends.
"I," he began. "I, uh, asked you to dance first because you always leave early, and I didn't want to waste my chance." Phil stared at him. "And I was hoping… that we didn't have to stop. You, uh… You're supposed to be my last dance, too."
When the words penetrated Phil's mind, and he comprehended their meaning, he acted without thinking. Probably not the best idea with a formerly-brainwashed ex-assassin, but he looked so damn kissable. It was the downcast eyes, the lower lip being chewed, the pink cheeks… Yes. So Phil slid one hand up behind Bucky's neck and pulled his head down. A second later, Bucky was smiling into the kiss. There were some whistles, and Phil gently broke the kiss. Bucky ducked his head, a huge smile trying to break its way out. Phil pressed closer to him as the song came to an end, and noticed their friends giving him the thumbs up. He met Natasha and Clint's eyes, and mouthed 'Thank you'.
"I just want to dance with you," Bucky whispered.
"I'd like that. I didn't think you noticed me."
"When you're around, you're pretty much the only one I do notice, Phil."
"Can I suggest something?"
"After this dance, let's go home."
"…Why?" Bucky said, sounding confused.
"Because I have a phenomenal music collection, plenty of room to move, and only JARVIS watching us," Phil replied.
Bucky smirked. "And a bed nearby. In case we get tired."
Phil rolled his eyes. "That, too. Is it a plan?"
"Hmm. Maybe after another dance. Let's give `em a show to remember."
And because I suck at writing dancing scenes, I'm ending this here.
We need more Bucky/Phil stories. I mean, if they drag Bucky into the Avengers, and the Avengers see Phil again, Bucky and Phil will meet. It's logical.
Anywho. Came up with the idea for this fic because I was thinking about writing a story where Any1 and Any2 like each other, and Any1's friends has reassured them that Any2 likes Any1, and always asks whoever they have a crush on to dance last… but Any2 asks Any1 to dance first. But only because their views have changed, and they don't want to waste any time, when they might never get their dance.
Hope you liked it. I keep accidentally writing Bucky/Phil. Oops. Please review, and I'll keep writing more!