Apparently I can't stop writing Bucky/Steve. So here's some more!
Please be warned about this first chapter. There is some strong, triggering language in this chapter. Please keep in mind that this takes place prior to Captain America: The First Avenger, so it's sometime in the late 1930's-early 1940's. The relationship between Bucky and Steve is taboo and unaccepted. There is some homophobic language in the first chapter. If it makes you uncomfortable, please feel free to skip this. Just a fair warning. I promise it doesn't last throughout the whole fic.
Now that that's out of the way, if you want some hardcore feels to go along with this fic, check out the playlist: user/ofchaosandlunacy/playlist/13xLiQa0pPV0Zr8NW68j3I
I'll be adding things to it as I keep writing this fic, but that's pretty much the big start of it.
Bucky paced around the apartment, gnawing his lips raw as he waited for Steve to get back from his class. Steve was gonna be mad, furious, absolutely beside himself when he broke the news. He deserved that, deserved to feel the wrath of that skinny little thing bearing down on him. It was stupid of him, really, but he'd have gotten picked up sooner than later anyway. Might as well go before they make you go, that's how Bucky justified it.
Steve's key turning in the door was louder than Bucky expected, dragging him out of his spiraling thoughts. Steve looked exhausted when Bucky finally got his eyes on him; his shoulders were slumped like he was hiding from the world, his eyes down on the dingy carpet. Great, and now he had this news to tell him? What a guy he was.
"Hey doll-face," Bucky said, trying to sound chipper and knowing he failed. "Why so glum?"
Steve shrugged off his jacket, hanging it on the peg by the door. "I'm just tired."
"Why don't you come sit down," Bucky said as he did the same himself, attempting to look casual. "I... I gotta talk to you about somethin'."
Steve eyed him suspiciously, flopping down on the couch with a grunt. "Okay?"
"What're you gonna tell me, Buck? You only ever call me that if its bad news or you want somethin'," Steve said.
"I do not!"
Steve sniffed, but smiled a little. "Liar, liar."
"Hey, I'm being serious here, okay? This ain't easy," Bucky rubbed the back of his neck with a shaking hand. "Give me a break, alright?"
Steve frowned. "I'm sorry Buck, I was just yankin' your chain," he smiled softly and scooted a little closer. "Tell me what's on your mind."
Bucky stared at Steve for a long time, trying to memorize every angle in his face, every slope of his bones, every little thing about him. How big and innocent his eyes were, how his eyebrows were such a pale blond they only existed if you were up close. The curve of his upper lip, lying flush against the fullness of the bottom one. How Steve never had a hint of scruff on his face, just smooth, pale skin that finally had some color to it.
"Y-yeah. Sorry. I was just..."
"You were staring at me like you'd never see me again," Steve said, he was joking but the words made Bucky's gut twist. "I can draw you a picture, ya know?"
Bucky laughed a little, a pathetic, breathy sound. "Yeah. That'd be good. I'm gonna need one."
"Why?" Steve asked, frowning again.
"Stevie... I-I'm going to basic soon. I enlisted," Bucky muttered. He tried to hold Steve's eyes but he just couldn't. He wasn't prepared to see what was swimming there. "I had to. The draft is coming and they woulda picked me up anyway... I just...I got ahead of it, is all."
"You're leaving me?" Steve said.
"I don't wanna leave you, Steve!"
"But you enlisted! You went on your own, you could have waited for the draft," Steve pushed up from the couch, moving away from Bucky. "You chose to go! You know I can't– I can't go with you."
Bucky hung his head, shame curled quickly and deep in his guts. Going into the damn army was all Steve wanted because he was some kind of crazy. Bucky wouldn't have a choice come draft time, he'd be yanked out by his feet and thrown into the war whether he liked it or not. Steve would be left behind no matter what; no doctor in their right mind would allow him to enlist, no matter how many times he tried.
"You shouldn't want to go, Steve," Bucky muttered, it felt insubstantial, it wouldn't make Steve feel better, but it was a fact. "I need you to be safe..."
"I need you to not treat me like a kid," Steve snapped. "Dammit Bucky why? Why couldn't you just wait? You had to choose to go? You chose to leave me early."
"I didn't do this to leave you! Don't make it about that," Bucky yelled, then reigned himself in. He couldn't get too loud, not if the neighbors were home. "I'm not doing this to leave you! I'm doing it because it's inevitable, Steve. They're gonna snatch me away from you and I'd rather make the choice myself. I don't want to leave, I really don't, but if I have to, it'll be because I choose it, not because some mooks in uniform come and snatch me out of our bed!"
"Yeah well if they were snatching you out of our bed you wouldn't be going to war, we'd both be going to jail." Steve said.
Bucky put his head in his hands. Steve had a way of making the truth hurt a little more than it already did. "Why do you gotta say it like that?"
Their relationship was as taboo as it came, and they were lucky that not many people looked at them too long. Most people knew that they'd been friends for most of their lives and no one really blinked when they moved in together, friends did that all the time. Split the cost of the rent; make it easy on each other. No, no one suspected much until one of the neighbors asked Steve how he could stand the sounds of his buddy necking with dames through the walls all the time. Steve had turned bright red and muttered about just ignoring it, and then he started moaning into pillows whenever Bucky was inside him, trying to stifle the sounds.
No one had been suspicious until that same neighbor pointed out that they never saw any girls leave the apartment. Bucky was exponentially more suave about dodging the question, pointing out that unless you were watching all the time, you wouldn't even notice if they came and went half the time. The neighbor had been flustered at Bucky's thinly veiled accusation and didn't bring it up again. Bucky and Steve stopped having sex for a long time after that.
"Buck... is that... is that why you're going?" Steve stammered.
"Is what why I'm going?"
"Us? This whole thing? Is that why you enlisted?" Steve asked, his voice wavering.
Bucky's head snapped up, eyes wide with disbelief. "Jesus fucking Christ! Steve, no! What the hell are you thinking?"
"That maybe you got sick of having to hide all the time," Steve murmured, looking down at his feet. "That... that you decided you really did like girls instead..."
"Steven Grant Rogers get your skinny punk ass over here right now." Bucky said.
Steve looked shocked for a moment, but woodenly made his way over to Bucky. He grabbed Steve around the waist and yanked him into his lap, holding him tight.
"Don't you dare ever say anything like that again," Bucky said, scolding but gentle. "I love you more than life itself, do you hear me? Do you really think I'm sick of you? Do you really think there's a broad out there that compares to you?"
"There are plenty of dames out there better than me." Steve grumbled.
Bucky wanted to shake him. He'd never get it through his thick skull how much he loved him. How much he loved everything about him. Every bony little ridge, every soft dip and plane of him, every delicate edge. Steve would never understand it. Bucky could spend a lifetime waxing poetic about how he loved every tiny inch of that boy and Steve would never understand why.
"No one compares to you," Bucky said earnestly, squeezing Steve around the middle. "No one, you got me? I don't want any of those dames. You're it for me, Stevie. That's all."
Bucky nuzzled his face into Steve's skinny chest, pressing gentle kisses against the ridge of his collarbone. Steve squirmed, sighed, and then settled against Bucky's arms, dropping a kiss on the top of his head.
"I'm still mad at you for leaving," he grumped. "But I love you too, jerk."
"I'm sorry Stevie, I'm so sorry I have to leave you," Bucky murmured into his chest, like he was trying to get the words to stick directly into Steve's heart. "Please don't think I love you or want you any less because of this. I will love you for the rest of my life, no matter where I am. Just promise me you'll be here when I get back. Promise me you won't do anything stupid while I'm gone. I'm gonna need you when I get back."
"Yeah, okay. I promise," Steve said thickly, tears gumming up his throat. "I love you, Buck. I love you so much. Nothing's gonna be the same without you."
"I know, doll-face, I know. Let's try and make the best of it before I have to go, huh?"
The day before Bucky shipped out to basic, he'd managed to convince Steve to come out for drinks with him. A last hurrah before he had to go, a feeble celebration to take their minds off of the impending crush of separation. They'd been by each other's sides for the last decade or more without fail, and this was the first time they'd ever be this far away from each other.
Steve had resisted at first, begging Bucky for a quiet night in, just the two of them and some stories on the radio. He'd wanted Bucky to hold him and just let him cry, because he couldn't stop snotting everywhere for a week. Any time he saw enlistment notices or recruitment tents, it was like the floodgates opened and he was reminded that his best guy was about to be gone. Steve wanted Bucky to make love to him that night, for the last time in God knows how long before he was starved for his sweetheart's touch. Bucky promised he would, that he'd love him until he couldn't breathe (which didn't take much, if you were Steve Rogers), and he'd give him all the air in his chest just to do it all over again. But just an hour or so, let's just go out for a bit, we both need a drink. Steve couldn't deny the truth in that.
Steve was tipsy, warm in his nose and cheeks from the glass of good whiskey that Bucky had splurged on for him. Bucky had drunk two himself by the time Steve finished his first. Bucky had just strolled off to the bar, turning on that stupid Bucky charm as he leaned against the oily wooden surface and sweet-talked a couple of deeply discounted drinks for a future soldier and his friend.
It was warm and sweet on Steve's tongue, spicy whiskey that tasted like honey and fizzed like there was soda water in it. It was good, and the bubbles tickled his nose. He felt a little relaxed, and Bucky did too, reclining in his chair and smiling easily at the dames who flirted with him from across the room. He never made to go talk to any of them, but gave them that easy come, easy go smile and turned his attention back to Steve. Red-cheeked and grinning, Bucky was a little drunk.
Bucky tended to get a little grabby when he was tipsy. He scooted his chair just a little closer to Steve's, his eyes sweeping the room and he let his hand fall beneath the table and squeeze the top of Steve's skinny leg gently. Steve nearly jumped out of his skin, swatting at Bucky's wandering hand.
"Will you be careful," he hissed softly, but his eyes shined with the appreciation of the gesture. "Don't go getting us killed before you leave."
Bucky rolled his eyes lazily, propping his chin on the heel of his free hand. "We're fine, stop worryin' so much."
"Don't get too cocky now, soldier." Steve joked.
Bucky grinned, a lecherous little thing that made Steve blush. "Ah c'mon, even I know I gotta wait till we get home for that."
Steve snorted. "You're drunk."
"So are you," Bucky fired back, his mouth quirking up just slightly into that easy, Bucky smile. "Doesn't take much."
Steve opened his mouth to speak, a witty jab on the tip of his tongue when another voice cut across his. Nasal and high-pitched, a New York accent from across the river.
"What does it take to get a pretty fella like you to buy a girl like me a drink, huh?"
She was a pretty enough dame, with curly red hair and brown eyes. She was wildly curvy and shoving her chest in Bucky's direction, which he didn't seem to notice at all. He leaned back in his chair, bringing his hand back up to the tabletop to tap lightly at the stained wood.
"Well, there's two fellas at this table ma'am, you're gonna need to be specific." Bucky said.
"I thought I was," her voice annoyed Steve, grating and loud. "I said the pretty one."
Bucky laughed and looked up at her, smiling that smile that danced between flirting and politely screaming: get the fuck away from me. "What's your name, pretty girl?"
"Lisa, I'm James," Bucky said. "And I appreciate your guts coming up here and asking for a drink, but ya see, I just ain't got the cash left. I mighta splurged a bit for me and my buddy here. It's my last night in town, see."
"Oh? Where ya going?" Lisa asked.
"Basic," Bucky shrugged like it meant nothing. "Off to the army to defend our fine country. So, if you'll excuse us, my friend and I are gonna finish our drinks, and I'm gonna take my tipsy little soldier butt home. 0300 comes around before you know it."
Lisa scoffed, much more resilient than expected. "Why are you gonna spend your last day in town with another fella? Shouldn't you get your hands up one last skirt before you go? Nothing but fellas in the army," Lisa made a disgusted face. "Unless you like that kinda thing."
Bucky could damn near feel Steve's blood pressure skyrocket. He sighed, playing wounded. "Ah sweetheart, come on! Do I look like the type to you?"
Lisa studied Bucky for a moment, her hawkish eyes flitting between him and Steve. She made that same, disgusted face again. "Maybe you are. I've always heard faggots are the ones you least expect. Shame you'd go for boys as it is, but a skinny little shit like that?"
Bucky's smile fell and he leaned forward, his eyes gone hard and dangerous. "That'll do. You trying to get us in trouble over here? You can't go making accusations like that, pretty girl. That's not nice."
"All I'm saying is that you look a little suspicious. Holed up in the corner of a bar, spending your money on a fella like that." Lisa sneered.
Bucky sighed, getting desperate now. He curled a finger in Lisa's direction and she leaned down to him. He pushed up and kissed her, thorough and sloppy. Steve clenched his fists under the table, stupid dame, stupid, stupid girl. Trying to screw everything up for them. When Bucky pulled away, he had red lipstick on his mouth and teeth. He swigged from his honey-whiskey drink and pushed it toward her.
"Here, have mine," Bucky said. "And while you're at it, maybe stop trying to get fellas arrested with your bullshit, huh? Get outta my face."
Lisa gaped at him for a moment before stumbling away from the table, leaving the drink behind. Bucky shrugged and tossed the rest of it back, wiping his mouth with a napkin, watching where she was headed. She blended into a table of other girls dressed similarly to her, but there were three brutish looking guys with them. One was big, bigger than Bucky and Steve put together. The other two were about Bucky's size, and kinda scrappy looking. Bad news.
"You might wanna finish that up," he murmured to Steve. "We should probably go."
Steve nodded silently, and sipped down most of his drink, he couldn't finish the whole thing; he probably wouldn't be able to walk if he did. Bucky wasn't offended, just slowly got up from his seat and nodded his thanks to the bartender who called him over. Hesitantly, Bucky approached and the bartender handed him a bottle of decent whiskey, with a grin and a salute.
"For the soldier," he said in a boisterous voice that made Bucky a little nervous. "You're gonna need that, son. On the house."
Bucky smiled, swallowing thickly. "Thank you. That's very kind of you, sir."
Steve followed Bucky out of the bar, feeling eyes on his back as he went. Once outside, Bucky spat on the ground a few times, swearing under his breath and tugged Steve around the corner. They weaved through the backs of buildings before coming to a stop in the back of an alley. Bucky scanned the area before uncapping the bottle of whiskey and taking a healthy swig. The first one he swished around his mouth and spat out in a big, sloppy puddle at his feet. The second one he swallowed, cringing at the burn.
Steve laughed. "That bad?"
"She tasted like burnt toast and cigarettes," Bucky gagged and spat on the ground again. "Which, for the record, is an awful mix that I never, ever want to taste again. Always brush your teeth, and never, ever smoke."
"I couldn't smoke if I wanted to, pal," Steve chuckled again. "It'd probably kill me."
Bucky frowned, but shrugged as if to agree. "Sorry buddy, I think you're right."
Steve held his hand out for the bottle and took a modest swig. "Is that the first time someone's called you that?"
"What? A faggot," Bucky snorted and rolled his eyes. "I am what I am."
Steve gaped at him. "Buck!"
"It can't hurt you if you own it, Stevie," Bucky said. "I'm a queer and I don't give a stinking shit. I've never had a dame love me the way my boy does, I'm never gonna have it and I don't want it."
Steve looked at him like he'd just fallen from heaven. Those big blue eyes swimming. "You're amazing, you know that, right?"
Bucky smiled, "I've been told a time or two," he glanced around the alley, listening carefully. "It's just us back here. C'mere, I think I'm clean enough now. Kiss me."
Steve did a quick, cursory check of his own before he launched his little body at Bucky. Bucky gathered him in his arms and kissed him hard and deep. Not that gross, sloppy thing he'd given Lisa, but a real kiss. One that explored every whiskey sweet corner of Steve's mouth, tasting the softness inside. Bucky groaned softly when Steve's tongue swept inside his mouth, matching his move for move, a lazy, slow thing.
Steve's hands were bunched in the front of Bucky's shirt, gripping tight like it was the only thing keeping his feet on the ground. Bucky's hands had slipped under Steve shirt in the back, his fingers pressing gently against the ridges of his spine. Steve's back was one of his favorite parts of him, he was so thin that Bucky could see how his spine curved and he loved to trace that beautiful bent line with his fingers, feeling every little bump of vertebrae under his hands.
"Would you look at that, boys? Turns out she wasn't wrong after all," A voice called from behind them. "Those two were a couple of dick sucking fairy boys!"
Bucky's blood froze in his veins as he pulled Steve away. He shoved Steve behind him, blocking him with his body despite how Steve protested.
"Don't be dumb this time," Bucky hissed. "Just be careful!"
The three men from Lisa's table at the bar were fast approaching down the alley toward them, yelling obscene things at them that included more derogatory terms for a gay man than Bucky and Steve together knew existed.
"Listen fellas! There's no need for all this," Bucky called when they got too close for comfort. "We ain't hurtin' anyone, ya hear? We just wanna go home in peace."
"Well see that's were you're wrong," the big one sneered. "That girl you put your dirty faggot mouth on? That was my sister, and I take personal offense to what you did."
Bucky swore under his breath. "Get the hell outta here," he said to Steve. "Don't fight with me, just go. This is gonna get ugly."
"They'll kill you!" Steve hissed.
"Yeah, and whatdaya think they'll do to you? Get out of here!" Bucky said.
A meaty fist landed in Bucky's face before he could mutter another word to Steve. It knocked him for a loop and he staggered sideways, blood exploding from his bottom lip. He spat on the ground, before launching himself at the other guy who was going for Steve. Distract them make them come for me. Please, please, please don't hurt him. Bucky was desperate to protect Steve, he'd take every hit if it meant Steve was safe.
"GO ON! GET OUTTA HERE!" Bucky yelled. "RUN YOU PUNK, GO!"
Another fist smashed down into his gut and knocked the wind out of him. Someone else from behind kicked out his knees, and he landed with a grunt only to receive a kick to the chest for his trouble. Bucky was seeing stars but he didn't care, as long as he heard Steve's footsteps running the opposite way. The guys were yelling abuse at him but were far too concerned with beating Bucky to a pulp to follow him.
Something cracked in his midsection when the big guy kicked him in the stomach. Bucky groaned and clutched his gut as another boot struck him in the side of the head. His brain was screaming for him to get up and fight, but the three guys were just too much. He landed maybe two weak punches on one of them, only to be rewarded with a kick to the gut that probably cracked another rib and a stomp on his prone arm. He heard something crack, screamed his throat raw because the pain was blinding. He was bleeding from his head, his nose, and his mouth, his whole body felt hot and sore. Breathing was a challenge but he didn't care. Steve was safe; Steve had listened and not joined the fight. He was safe.
The big guy knelt beside him, grabbing his hair in a thick hand, and wrenching his head back hard. Bucky gasped and that was nearly as painful as the rest of his body. He was swallowing blood and it made his stomach sick, but goddammit Steve was safe, that's all that mattered.
"I hope your boy-fucking life was worth it," the big guy growled in his face. "I oughta kill you for putting your queer mouth on my sister. Or maybe we should go find your skinny little fairy boyfriend and show him a thing or two about being a real man."
Bucky spat blood at his face, seething on the inside. "Leave him the fuck alone!"
The threat was pathetic. He could hardly breathe, let alone speak. The guys just laughed at him, and the big one threw him to the ground and kicked him in his bad left arm.
"You ain't even worth it," the big guy spat on the ground next to Bucky's head. "Don't show your faggot face around here ever again. You do, I'll fucking kill you and your little shit boyfriend."
Bucky was flirting with unconsciousness, his head swimming as he heard their footsteps start to fade away. He was wheezing like Steve did when his asthma acted up, alone, bleeding, and broken in that alley. His left arm was throbbing something fierce, his head pounded, his stomach hurt. He'd be covered in cuts and bruises by the end of the night but goddammit Steve was safe. He'd take any beating, any consequence as long as that beautiful boy stayed safe.
It had taken Bucky nearly an hour, he supposed, to drag himself to his feet and stagger out of that alley. The few people still out on the streets were staring at him and he knew he must have looked a mess. Bleeding and dirty, hobbling along because he wasn't sure how long he'd be conscious. He jumped every time he heard a noise behind him, ducked into other alleys when he heard voices, terrified that those who'd beat him nearly to death were still close by.
He wanted to go home. He wanted to see Steve, wanted to let him fuss over his cuts and scrapes and clean him up. He wanted to cry and scream and punch things because the goddamn world wasn't fucking fair. Just because the person he loved was a man, they were condemned to a lifetime of disgusted glares and back alley beatings because they dared to love each other. Because they dared to be proud of each other and because they wanted to have a life together. They'd be ripped apart from their foundation just because they were both men, and it made Bucky furious.
No matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't go home to Steve. He couldn't bring himself to drag his broken body back to their apartment, not with the stares he'd collect, not with the people who hurt him lurking. He couldn't go back to Steve, and the thought of it crushed whatever was left of him inside. He should have just listened, they should have stayed in and been together. Bucky would have left for basic the next day, sure, but at least he could have kissed Steve one last time, he could have seen his smile one last time, could have heard his voice and felt his body next to his one last time.
He'd never see Steve again.
That was enough to shatter him from the inside out.
Bucky staggered toward an empty bus stop, sitting down laboriously on the bench. His ribs were aching fiercely; his arm was a nonstop throb where he was sure it was broken. He cradled the bad arm against his chest, wiping blood from his face and nose with the sleeve of his jacket.
A bus trundled up a few minutes later, its doors hissing open. The driver looked down at Bucky, bloody and bruised.
"You alright, son?"
Bucky shook his head. "Need to get out."
The driver was quiet for a moment, considering the battered boy on the bench. "Get in. Come on, now, don't dally."
Bucky got to his feet heavily, wincing with every step as he boarded the bus. It was empty and dim and Bucky fell into the nearest seat.
"I don't have much money," Bucky said, his voice rattling in his injured lungs.
"I didn't say anything about money," the driver said as he reached up and flicked off a light. Out of service. Bucky nearly wept with gratitude. "Where to, young man?"
"Anywhere. Don't care. Just not here." Bucky choked out.
"You oughta get yourself to a hospital. Ya don't look good," the driver said as the bus rumbled down the street. "What happened to you?"
"Will you kick me out if I tell the truth?" Bucky slurred.
"Doesn't seem fair to do that," the driver glanced back at Bucky in the mirror. "What's your story?"
"Got beat up by three lunkheads," Bucky murmured, licking his cracked, bleeding lips. "Had to defend my boy. He's sick, small y'see. They woulda killed him. I'd die for him a hundred times, s'long as he's safe."
The bus driver chuckled. "You a queer, son?"
Bucky flinched. "Yeah. You gonna turn me in?"
"I don't think so. Doesn't seem right. You're already down far enough," the driver said. "I personally don't see the big hoopla about it. I don't remember reading any rules that said you had to love a gal just because you were born with a pecker."
Bucky did cry then, fat ugly tears leaked out his eyes, burning the cuts on his cheeks where he'd been kicked. He shuddered and wheezed because crying so hard made his bad ribs feel like they were breaking all over again. He wrapped his good arm around himself, like he was trying desperately to hold everything inside but the dam was breaking and he was falling apart, swept away by the heavy wash of emotion.
The driver just sat quietly, maneuvering them out of Brooklyn while Bucky fell to pieces in his seat.
"What's your name?" The driver asked.
Bucky had to wait until his sobs slowed to manageable hiccups before he could answer. "James Barnes, sir."
No one was allowed to call him Bucky anymore. No one but Steve.
The driver laughed. "Good manners and all. Well James, I've got a place I can take you. Lay low until all this blows over and you can go back home if you want."
"Can't go back," Bucky said. "They'll find me... find him... I can't..."
"Alright, alright. Whatever you need," the driver said. "You just sit tight. We'll make it by morning."