Author's Note: I've seen the movie Captain America, but I haven't read a single page of the comics, so be forewarned... there will most likely be mistakes. Lots of mistakes. Wikipedia is already telling me I've got their backstory all wrong. Whoopsy doodles. This is my first attempt at Steve/Bucky.
Bucky sat on his bed, tossing a rubber ball against the wall and catching it with one hand, when Steve shuffled into their room at the orphanage. He didn't look like he'd been pummeled recently, so Bucky wondered about his hesitance at the door.
"Wanna toss?" he said, holding out the rubber ball to Steve. He shook his head and remained where he was, in the doorway, slim shoulders looking tight and tense.
It had only been a few months since he got over his last fever—rheumatic, Bucky thought it was this time—and he was still looking a little scrawnier than usual, even for Steve. It made Bucky want to feed him as much soup as there was in all of Brooklyn. But, of course, he couldn't do that. All he could do was smile at his friend and hope that a little bit of spirit-boosting would be good enough.
He missed Steve every time he went to the nurse's ward for those long periods of ailment. He would go and visit, when he could, when there wasn't a chance for 'contamination,' as a deep-voiced doctor had boomed at him once when he had sneaked in under Steve's plastic shield to play a game of cards with him.
It was probably not a nice thing to think, but he much preferred it when Steve would just get beat up by some punk out on the street, rather than those mysterious internal inflictions, because that meant Bucky could take care of him. He could pull him back into the tiny wash room at the orphanage and dab at his bruised, pink, and bloodied skin with an old night shirt and some soapy water. He would always take care to cup his face gently and work as smoothly as possible. He'd seen the nurse go at Steve with harsh, uncaring swipes with her pads and ointments, and Steve would flinch at her every touch. That was no good. That wasn't what Steve deserved.
He deserved kindness and protection. He was just a kid—like Bucky, but more so somehow. Something in his ultimate belief in the goodness of people, the belief that good would always win out over bad, even if it had to take a few knocks to the chin every once in a while. They were the same age, but Bucky always felt a bit older. A bit more world-wise. Steve needed someone like him to make sure it stayed that way. It would kill Bucky if Steve ever stopped believing in the power of goodness.
And then, of course, there was the kissing. That had sort of developed on its own. They would sit together on Steve's bed and Bucky would take care of Steve's wounds, then pat him on the shoulder, or bump their foreheads together as a sign of commitment and commiseration. I'll always take care of you, those little bumps said. Except one day he used his lips instead, placing a gentle kiss on Steve's temple, right above a nasty scrape he'd gotten on the way down from a punch to the gut.
It stuck. He'd fix Steve up then kiss him on the head. It was just the way things happened.
One day, Steve must've still been in a bit of feisty mood after his latest scrap—which always amused and delighted Bucky—because after his usual forehead kiss, he stuck his tongue out petulantly and said, "I'm not a little kid, you know."
That's when Bucky surprised them both. He leaned in quickly and pecked Steve on his mouth instead, then offered a chipper, "I know," right back at him. Steve had stared at him with very big, very blue eyes. His mouth opened a little bit, and that's when Bucky decided to kiss him again. Another quick little peck, just to see how he'd react.
His cheeks blushed bright red and he stammered a bit. Bucky couldn't help but laugh at him. Steve shoved him on the shoulder then, and they ended up wrestling around on the bed for a bit in between fits of cheerful laughter.
And so the kissing stuck. Steve would need a little bit of patching up, Bucky would do the patching, and then the kissing. He told himself at first that it was just practice—for the girls he would need to impress later on with his good technique and wealth of experience. But that wasn't quite it. It was the look on Steve's face afterward. When he would close his eyes for a moment and smile the smallest of satisfied smiles. It meant something to Steve. And Bucky couldn't deny that it meant something to him, too.
They were old enough now to share one of the very few two-bed rooms in the orphanage, rather than sleeping a cot away from each other in the larger room where all the little kids were. They had wanted to keep Steve in the big room, since he was still small enough to fit on the tiny cots, but Bucky had sweet-talked one of the younger ward mistresses into filling out the paperwork that kept them together. There was nothing a sideways smile and a petite, delicate flower from the garden couldn't fix, he'd found, when it came to the pretty young dames who worked at the orphanage because they just cared so much about the needy.
Steve had begun to notice his flirtations with the girls, and sometimes he'd watch them with the same open, expectant expression he'd have during school hours. Bucky almost expected him to take out a pad and jot down notes. This was a whole new learning experience for Steve, who had barely said two words to a gal in his whole life who wasn't sticking needles in his arms or thermometers under his tongue.
So it didn't much surprise him when Steve came to him with his request.
He stood in the doorway and shoved both hands in his pockets. He looked down at his shoes instead of at Bucky.
"Pretty soon..." he started.
"Pretty soon what?"
Steve kicked his foot out in an aw-shucks! kind of way that made Bucky smile, but his friend remained tight-lipped.
"Spit it out, Steve."
"Pretty soon we'll start taking—" He swallowed, and his overly large Adam's apple bobbed up and down. "—taking dames dancing, right?"
Bucky chuckled and rolled his eyes amiably at his clueless friend. "Yeah. Pretty soon, all right."
"Well... it's just..."
"I don't know how to dance...?" It fell out of his mouth all fast-like and questioning.
"Everyone knows how to dance. You just... you just do it. It's easy."
"Can you, maybe, I dunno... teach me... just a little?"
Bucky tossed the rubber ball from hand to hand and thought for a moment. He really only knew a few moves himself...
"Yeah, all right," he said. He stood from the bed and wiped his palms on his trousers. Steve closed the door and moved in to meet him. His chest puffed out a little bit as he took a very deep breath, as if he were about to dive into the river.
"Here, grab my hands."
Steve did it without a second thought.
Bucky tried to teach him the jitterbug first. It... didn't go so swell.
"Aaaaaand that's my foot again," Bucky said.
"Here, we'll take off our shoes and try again," he said, toeing off his boots. "Just keep with the beat. One—two—three—four—no, no. Back, step back, not up."
Steve dropped his hands and sighed in frustration. "This fast stuff just isn't working."
"All right," Bucky agreed. "We'll try the slow stuff then."
Steve looked a little nervous at that prospect, but eventually he nodded that steadfast nod of his that meant he was game for anything. What he lacked in size, he sure made up for in guts.
"Here. You put your hands on my hips."
"And I'll put my arms around your shoulders."
Steve stared at him head on. "You're the dame, right?"
"Yes, Steve. I'm the dame." He placed his left hand over Steve's on his hip, then moved them closer together, so that their bodies were touching.
"Oh," Steve breathed out, a little huskily, as if he hadn't expected any contact.
Bucky had to admit that it felt pretty darn good. Steve's body was warm from his attempts jitterbugging. He looked up at Bucky with that patented puppy dog expression of his that was... well, it was plain adorable, is what it was, and Bucky couldn't be blamed for thinking otherwise. No living person in all the world could resist those winsome eyes.
"Now we just kind of sway," Bucky instructed. "Ain't much to this, you know. Just gotta feel out your partner. You gotta lead, though. Wherever you go, I'll go with you."
Steve was doing... something with his hips, though Bucky couldn't rightly call it 'dancing'. It was more like... lurching from side to side. He didn't bother pointing it out to Steve, though, because it didn't feel too bad. Not too bad at all.
"Sometimes the girl'll wanna put her head on your shoulder, okay?" he said, dropping his head so that it nestled against Steve's neck. He breathed in. Steve smelled like Brooklyn. Like steam and dirt and motor oil. Bucky liked it. It was familiar and comforting.
An idea formed in his head. He gave Steve a new set of instructions.
"I can't do that," Steve protested upon hearing them.
"No it's not."
"You can do it. Just dip me. It'll be fine. The girls love it. Trust me. You'll win all their hearts over in no time, Romeo."
Steve still look unconvinced. But, brave little soldier, he gave it a go. He gripped an arm around Bucky's waist and lowered his back, attempting to balance him on a knee. But Bucky's weight was far too much for Steve to handle, and soon enough they both crashed to the floor. Steve landed on top of Bucky. There was a very cross look on his face. Bucky only laughed. Their noses were close together, and Bucky held on to Steve so he couldn't move off.
"I told you," Steve huffed at him.
"This was inevitable."
Bucky winked at him. "I know."
"You... wanted us to fall?"
Bucky smiled up at him indulgently. "Oh, Steve."
"Just shut up and kiss me already."
Steve stared at him for a moment, then grinned that small, secret little Steve-Grin that let Bucky know he was pleased with this particular instruction, even if he wouldn't say so. And then they were kissing—sweet, soft kisses that made Bucky feel like he was home.
After a few more minutes of smooching, Steve pulled up a little bit and squinted at him in that fetchingly earnest way of his.
"Is this part of the lesson?"
Bucky chuckled. "You don't need lessons in this."
And then his lips found a home again.
A short time later, and beautifully out of breath: "I still don't know how to dance, you know."