A/N: I didn't think I'd find a way to fit an OC into anything Avengers-related since Darcy exists in canon. But oh, I found one. Hope you guys enjoy; went kind of insane writing this, so that might show in the work, but eh, every story needs a good dose of crazy. I own nothing and no one except what you don't recognize. R&R if you're up to it! Title comes from the Andrews Sisters song of the same name; check it out, it's lovely, from the era, and pretty much the fic's theme song.
Steve couldn't really say that he envisioned his twenty-first birthday to go any particular way. He had neither the money nor the strength to have some full, fancy night on the town – and he wasn't one for all that glamour, anyway. Then again, he had no money for anything; not even for a candle he could just hold in his hands, light, and blow out. Not that it mattered; every year, Bucky would take them to the roof of their building and watch the Independence Day fireworks. The view wasn't great – other buildings tended to block the lower half of the sky, but Steve still found them amazing. In the back of his mind, he liked to think that they were not only being set off for America, but for him – by someone out there other than Bucky who cared about him. He always repressed the thought soon enough and chose instead to be humbled by the magnificent display, but it always festered.
He did have a feeling that this birthday would be different than the rest, so he wasn't surprised when he was told to meet Bucky on a street corner instead of outside their tenement. What was surprising was the several dollar bills his friend was gripping.
"Where'd you get that money?" Steve's voice was both accusatory and incredulous. Bucky smirked.
"Don't worry about it; they're pennies from heaven. What we need to be worrying about is getting plenty of cheap booze down our gullets." He took him by the shoulder and pulled him toward the grocery store across the street, the only establishment open nearby.
"You do that all the time. And when you offer me, I say no."
"Steve, you're legal tonight! Prohibition is long over; exercise your rights." He rose his free arm to the sky. "You're not allowed to refuse."
"Well..." Steve mused as they entered the shop. Bucky led him right to the selection of alcohol. The stuff had never really appealed to him, and someone had once told him that if he had enough, it could seriously harm his frail body. He didn't think it was worth the apparently invigorating rush getting drunk gave to people. Still, it might be interesting to try it – just this once. Before he knew it, Bucky had a bottle of whiskey in his hand and was putting it on the unoccupied counter.
"Aw, come on. We gotta get up to see the lights. They're even better when you're buzzed, Steve, trust me." He impatiently shoved his free hand in his pocket. Steve stood to his left, studying the bottle.
"Hold your horses, fella," came a slightly raspy but feminine voice from above their heads. Heavy footsteps stomped down the stairs in the opposite corner of the room. When they looked over, a plump girl was coming towards them, wiping her hands on her wrinkled dress. Her shoes were massive brown loafers that were far too large for her feet, but she managed to shuffle to the cash register without too much trouble. "Well, fell-as." She brushed some mousy brown hair out of her face and wiped her large nose on the back of her hand.
Bucky pulled his hand out of his pocket and dropped the money on the table, smirking. "What's a broad like you doing inside on the fourth of July?" He said smoothly. Steve couldn't tell if he was legitimately flirting with her or just trying to score a discount.
She rose a bushy brow and shrugged. "Got to work. 'Sides, the fireworks hurt my eyes." She picked up the bottle and examined the price, then took the money. She rose her other brow and looked confusedly at Steve. "You're twenty-one?"
He stiffened a tad. "What makes you think I'm not?"
She shrugged and smiled slightly. "Don't know. Must be that adorable baby face." He instantly flushed and didn't dare to look at Bucky's reaction. Without another word or look, she put the money in the register and pushed the bottle towards them. "Enjoy your Independence Day, boys. Be sure to tell your friends about the only corner store open on a national holiday." Her hands dropped to her sides as she slammed the cash drawer closed.
"You don't sound very enthusiastic," said Steve as Bucky picked up the bottle. The girl paused, sighed, and shrugged again.
"I'm not. People come here looking for opportunity, but ya can't even really get opportunity unless you're a man, white, and already rich." She went over to straighten out the shelves.
Steve cringed – although it was a barely visible gesture. "It's still safer than Europe right now."
She snorted. "Don't I know it; I could be there now if my parents didn't come here from Poland before I was even around. But, yeah, there's no man turning everyone he rules into slaves or an army of men against people who've done nothing wrong...but it feels the same down here." She motioned towards the street outside. She looked him up and down, and Steve prepared himself for another storm of judgment. "I'm sure you know all about dangerous it can be out there."
"Er...well, I suppose. But it's not like the government itself is beating me up in a back alley. It's possible to stand up to a pathetic bully."
She looked him right in the eyes – her pupils cold and grey – then shook her head.
"Boy, you're sure a dreamer, Mister..."
"Steve Rogers." He extended his hand to her and smiled. "And this is James Barnes."
"Call me Bucky." He went from rubbing the back of his neck to giving her a little wave.
"Moira Shilsky." She grinned at him and shook his hand eagerly, her palms rough and dry. "Can't say I've ever had a customer be so nice."
"That's just who Steve is," said Bucky, coming up next to him and slinging his arm over his shoulders. "He's like a walking handshake."
"You say that like it's a problem." She finally let go of his hand. "So, are you just celebrating America's independence? 'Cause I think a couple bottles of any ol' giggle water would suffice for that."
Bucky hugged him closer, looking proud. "He's legal today."
Moira's face instantly lit up. "No foolin'? How was the cake?"
Steve blushed and looked down. "Yeah. Uh, I haven't had cake; haven't for many years, actually. It's fine, though, I get to spend the day with my best friend and that's good enough for me."
"Ah, Steve, not in front of the girl!" Bucky locked his arm around his neck and gave it a light squeeze. Moira just looked on with her mouth slightly agape.
"...You didn't have cake? Wait here." She bounded up the stairs, losing a shoe on the way. Steve and Bucky exchanged a look.
"This is already panning out to be one of your better birthdays. Alchie, a girl, and from the looks of it, cake."
Steve blushed again, an even deeper shade of red. "I should have stopped her...but she went up so fast." He considered something for a moment. "Actually..." he went to the bottom of the stairs. "You really don't have to do anything, Miss Shilsky!" Oh, this was so impolite, calling up to a place where customers were so obviously not allowed, but he felt so bad. He could hear Bucky chuckled, so he turned around and gave him a hard stare.
"Oh come on, be flattered!" He urged, twisting the bottlecap left and right. "Even I didn't get you something of real substance, which is what you really need."
"What makes you think she's getting me food? She could just be getting a candle or something. She could even be putting together some kind of prank to smoke us out of the store." His face slightly fell.
Bucky smiled slightly and shook his head. "You punk, she's a Brooklyn Jew; most of what they do is make and eat food. I mean, look at the size of her."
Steve was about to retort when a string of frantic, muffled Yiddish broke out over their heads, followed by a loud groan, a plate hitting the floor and shattering, and then more Yiddish in that same high-pitched voice. Then Moira ran back down the stairs holding a square block – so big that it filled the entirety of her palm – of plain brown cake on a napkin. "I got you the last of the pound cake. I hope it's good enough; my ma makes great food, my brother and I just attack it every time. Oh right, it's Kosher; I hope that's okay."
Steve could barely even sputter a response. He couldn't remember the last time a stranger had done something so kind. She had taken something from her own possessions and given it to someone she had just met a few minutes earlier. The sight of it was so...humbling. A nudge from Bucky pushed him forward as Moira looked at him expectantly.
"I...thank you so much. This is way too nice."
"Bah." She shoved the cake at him. "You can't have a birthday if there isn't cake."
He smiled. "Well then, I'm a lot younger than I'm supposed to be."
She laughed heartily; a loud, bellowing sound. She stopped suddenly. "Oh god, you weren't kidding earlier either." Her eyes widened. "I'll get you the whole cake."
"No no no, please don't; this is more than enough." Not for Bucky, and he was probably going to pay for that later, but she deserved the rest of her cake.
"Well, ooookay. 'More than enough'; hah. Not even for tonight, lil' Scamp. I think I know a thing or two about food if I got like this." She patted her hip. "You better come in for the rest sometime."
"Will do." Bucky started to push Steve out. "You have yourself a good Fourth of July, Moira."
"You too, boys." She tipped an imaginary hat to them. "Happy birthday, Scamp. Steve. Mmm, not sure which one I like better. Many happy returns."
An hour later, atop their apartment building, Bucky was drunkenly lumbering about, shouting obscenities and and things about patriotism. Steve was buzzed off only a few gulps, and that was enough for him; sitting cross-legged on the ground and nibbling on the pound cake was fulfilling enough for him.
"We gotta go back, man," Bucky slurred, pantomiming throwing darts at the fireworks. "I bet she'll give us free stuff."
Steve smiled a little. "Oh come on, we don't want to cost her business."
"Tch, she's doing just fine." He adopted a dreamy expression. "'Sides, she promised the cake." He bent down and stole a chunk of the slice.
"Well, you can have it all." Steve brought his knees to his chest and rested his chin on them. He craned his head, trying to see the fireworks going off between the buildings. Bucky groaned and plopped down next to him.
"I've had all my birthday cakes – even if they were just bottles of alcohol that I just called cake." He leaned on him and nudged his shoulder. "You deserve yours, man."
Steve sighed as a whole line of white fireworks went off simultaneously over the buildings, sparkling and cascading down the sky. Finally, he felt himself fully relax. "Maybe..."