There is only one happiness in this life. To love, and be loved. - Fred Sirieix
“I don’t make a very good boyfriend.”
The woman behind the camera scribbled in her notebook. “Why do you think that is?” she asked, voice far quieter than his without the addition of a microphone.
Steve Rogers grimaced, running a hand through his hair which had been painstakingly styled earlier in the day. “I guess I don’t really know what a good boyfriend is. I haven’t had all that much experience. It’s never been much of a priority, to have someone else in my life. Romantically, I mean. There’s always been something else that’s gotten in the way.”
The woman smiled encouragingly, making Steve feel even less composed than he had before. Somewhere in the world on some tiny screen, Natasha would be illegally downloading this moment to treasure his eternal embarrassment. Fuck her, anyway, he thought, forcing a huge goofy grin onto his face. Grin and bear it.
“Why love now?” prompted the camera, after he’d stared helplessly into it for several seconds.
He shrugged. “A…friend is getting married next year. I can’t turn up to another wedding alone.”
There’s a sympathetic tut on the other side of the room making Steve close his eyes and sigh, wondering (not for the first time) just what he’s gotten himself into.
“How did you know?”
The barman smiled, gently placing the pint in front of Steve. “I seem to serve nervous people for a living. How long’s it been since you were on a date?”
Steve thought about the question. “An embarrassingly long time. I’d rather not say how long on TV, if I’m honest.”
The other man barked out a laugh. “Fair enough. So what kind of man’s coming to see you this evening?”
“Hopefully someone who’s kind and caring,” he frowned. “And who doesn’t hold the gaps in my pop culture and celebrity knowledge against me.”
The bartender laughed again, making Steve smile. “And good looking too?”
Steve felt the blush spread across his face. “Well, not really necessary but it wouldn’t be unappreciated.”
“You’re in luck so. Once you don’t mind a man bun. Looks like that might be him at the door now.”
He spun around on his stool so fast that he fell off it and landed awkwardly on the floor. The barman roared with laughter and Steve could just feel every camera in the place swivel around to zoom in on him.
Smooth, Rogers. Smooth.
James “Bucky” Barnes sat slumped in the chair, glaring half-heartedly at the camera through thin frames.
“You don’t seem very happy to be here,” commented the camera woman, looking incredibly frustrated. Considering he’d met her less than ten minutes ago, Bucky too this as a personal victory.
“What an astute observation.”
“Look, you’re the one that filled in the application forms. If you could just say something that we don’t have to heavily edit, that would be great.”
Bucky rolled his eyes and muttered a curse. “I’m here because of my sister. Love you, ‘Becca.” He said in his brightest voice, grinning wildly at the camera. The woman looked even more disturbed than she had previously.
“What did ‘Becca do to get you here?” she asked slowly.
“We had a bet, the exact terms of which I’m not at liberty to say due to the original nature of the deal. Basically, if she won, I would have to go on a blind date of her choice. I was super confident I would win, because I always win, obviously. And when she said blind date, I thought she meant she’d set up the date with her best friend’s brother or something. Not that I’d have to come on some stupid TV show. And now here I am.”
“You know most people would have just ignored the consequences of such a bet.”
“You don’t know my sister.”
“What are you looking for in your date for this evening?”
“Someone who’s really good at sex. The penetrative kind, but still knows how to use their hands. I can appreciate a man with two hands.”
Bucky spied his date from behind and appreciatively took in the outline of a toned back and strong arms. While the maitre d’ chatted away to him, Bucky thought absently that perhaps this wasn’t a bad idea after all. Then the blond fell off his chair and Bucky winced at the painful display of awkwardness.
The man (Steve?) was bright red in the face and bumbled his way through pulling a seat out for Bucky and introducing himself. He bit his bottom lip to stop himself from laughing.
“I’m sorry,” said Steve, slapping a hand to his forehead as he finally ceased spewing random words at Bucky. “I’m a lot more nervous than I thought I was.”
“It’s okay,” replied Bucky casually, actually talking to his date for the first time.
“So, um, Bucky. That’s what he said your name was, right?”
“Who calls their kid Bucky?”
He rolled his eyes. “My ma, by technicality. She landed me with the worst name going, I had no choice but to adopt a ridiculous nickname. Trust me, it’s better than the real alternative.”
“So what is your real name then?”
His eyes twinkled as he leant across the table. “That’s a second date question.”
Bucky hid his grin in his Vodka and Coke as somehow, defying all laws of possibility, Steve turned even redder.
“It took me a long time to figure it out. I think that I actually knew for years, I just couldn’t see it in myself. I came from quite the Catholic background and my mom…she never judged people for who they loved. But she died when I was real young and I ended up cycling through homes and families. Not all of those people were very kind or accepting. They had their opinions. I used to keep my head down as much as I could. I already stood out enough ‘cause I was a sickly little thing, nothing like I am now. I didn’t need something else to make me different.”
“I hit Basic Training,” he laughed. “There were a lot of…interesting specimens. I wrote this letter home to my best friend, confessing all of these feelings. I was terrified, convinced it would bring some kind of horrible end to our relationship.”
He snorted. “No. I got a letter back from her a few days later. ‘About fucking time you noticed, Rogers’.”
Steve murmured his thanks to the waiter as he accepted the plate of food, focusing once again on his date. “Are you still living in Brooklyn then?”
“I went back about ten months ago. Needed a place to stay and got stuck with my baby sister.”
“I’m sure it’s not that bad.”
“You’re far too optimistic and you don’t know Rebecca.”
“I’d love to have had a sister. Or any siblings really,” mused Steve.
Bucky scoffed in return. “You’d think that, but you’d be very wrong.”
“So where were you before you went back home?”
Bucky stared at his gloved hands for a moment. “I was around. Afghanistan and Iraq mostly.”
“You’re ex-military,” stated Steve in disbelief. Bucky looked back up with a frown and nodded.
“You’re not one of those nuts that’s against war or the army right? ‘Cause I would’ve hoped they’d screen out those people in this whole dating business. Considering my past and all. Which they knew about.”
“No, no. No, quite the opposite really.” Steve shook his head, laughing. “Sorry. I was a Green Beret. Up until about two years ago.”
Bucky let out a low whistle. “Impressive. But just how special are you really, Rogers?”
“That’s actually classified.”
“I don’t miss my arm, if that’s what you’re asking. I miss the independence, not having people look at you as if you always need help. Pity. Life was a lot easier with all of my limbs. I miss that. But there are some benefits.”
“Some people are willing to do a lot for their damaged veterans. Sexually.”
Steve gazed at his dress shoes, smile tucked on the lower half of his face. Bucky watched him, a little anxious for the first time since they met about what was to come next. Sitting in front of the camera together, side by side in front of the love heart backdrop was a huge improvement. Apparently the camera woman also found Steve endearing, as she was focusing her attention mainly on him and avoiding giving Bucky the same death glares she had earlier.
“Would you like to see each other again?”
Bucky closed his eyes, waiting on the answer of his date.
“Definitely,” said Steve, confidently despite the colour of his cheeks. “I mean, that is, if you want to as well.”
“Are you insane? Of course I want to,” replied Bucky, staring straight at the other man. They smiled at each other, oblivious to the woman in the room. “Any chance you’d want a drink? Like right now?”
“Do we have to? I was only trying to be polite in front of the cameras.”
Bucky shoved Steve so hard he fell off his second seat of the evening, landing with giggles.
Bucky would like to confirm that Steve fits his original criteria for his date.
They’ve been in a relationship for three weeks.
Steve has yet to meet the infamous ‘Becca.
But they’re working on his pop culture knowledge.