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Save a Horse, Ride a Captain

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Bucky made his way carefully across the bar. There wasn’t much of a crowd, not after eleven o’clock on a Thursday, but the floor kept sliding out from under Bucky’s feet, so Bucky had to watch his steps closely anyway. He might have underestimated the hit his alcohol tolerance had taken after nine months of enforced sober living on deployment. That, or the frozen margaritas Dum Dum had ordered several rounds of were 80% tequila.

Still, Bucky could do this. He could complete the mission. Morita and Dum Dum were snickering behind his back, but whatever, he’d show them, Bucky was on it.

He had a lock on his target: a blond man sitting in a corner booth facing away from the room whose straining-at-the-seams t-shirt stretched over a broad back and muscular shoulders. The man could probably bench-press a rhinoceros. Carrying one guy, even a guy as big as Bucky, wouldn’t be a strain.

Bucky tapped him on the shoulder, swaying back and forth a little as he waited for the man to turn around. “Hello,” he said, and then promptly forgot what else he was going to say, because this guy was fucking beautiful. “Wow. Good face.”

Two of the guy’s friends, a man wearing a suit that fit so well it had to be bespoke and a man with a cute little gap between his front teeth, started cracking up. The petite redhead sitting next to them cocked her head to the side and pulled her phone out of her handbag. Beautiful Face just looked kind of pained, so Bucky redirected. He was a gentleman. He could take a hint. No hitting on beautiful guys who were uncomfortable with that sort of thing, no matter how lickable their jawlines were.

“Hello,” he repeated, doing his best to mind his manners. “I’m very sorry to bother you. Can I have a piggy-back ride?”

“Excuse me?” Beautiful Face said. His friends were watching unabashedly. The redhead was using her phone to record Beautiful Face’s reactions.

“My friends won’t give me a piggy-back ride,” Bucky said, slowly and clearly, so Beautiful Face wouldn’t have trouble understanding him even though Beautiful Face had put away at least five shots of something, judging by the glasses by his elbow. “Morita said it’s beneath his dignity and Dum Dum would just fall over. So they said to ask you.”

“Well, Steve, he makes a compelling case,” said Rich Friend.

“Yeah, Steve,” said Cute Gap-Tooth Friend. “Give the man a piggy-back ride.”

Bucky squinted at Rich Friend. “Are you Tony Stark?”

The man spread his arms wide, nearly smacking Beautiful Face in his equally beautiful pecs. “In the flesh.”

Bucky processed this information. “Will you give me a piggy-back ride?”

“No, I absolutely will not,” Tony Stark said. “One, I’m too old for that shit, two, you’re about fifty pounds heavier than me and I’d throw out my back even if I were fifteen years younger, and three, you already asked my friend Steve here for a piggy-back ride, and a gentleman never steals his friend’s piggy-backers.”

That was very true. Bucky turned back to Beautiful Face, who was apparently named Steve. “I’m sorry, Steve. Please give me a piggy-back ride.”

Steve stared at him. Bucky looked back hopefully.

“Yeah, okay,” Steve said abruptly.

“Really?”

“Yeah, why not.” Steve unfolded himself from the tiny booth like a golden retriever springing out of a corgi-sized kennel crate. He looked a little pink under the barroom lights. Behind him, Cute Gap-Tooth Friend and Redhead were discretely high-fiving. “Where to?”

Bucky hadn’t thought that far. “The bus stop? I live in Flatbush.”

“Sounds good. Hop on.” Steve turned around and squatted, and if Bucky hadn’t drunk so much the sight would’ve given him an immediate and very awkward Pants Situation.

“Thanks, Steve, you’re the best.” Bucky wrapped his legs around Steve’s waist with a pleasant sense of accomplishment. He sent a sloppy salute across the room to Morita and Dum Dum, who were both looking on with dropped jaws, for some reason. As if Bucky hadn’t talked strangers into way weirder things than this. Served them right for underestimating his natural charm.

“Ride ‘em, cowboy,” Tony Stark said.

“Who’s the horse in that metaphor?” Redhead said.

“Not another word,” Steve told his friends, and carried Bucky out of the bar.



 

Bucky woke to sunshine, birdsong, and regrets. Not as many regrets as he would have expected, though--he had vague memories of someone cajoling him into drinking a full glass of water and insisting he brush his teeth before he was allowed to crash onto his couch and sleep. Who had it been, Morita? Dum Dum, maybe? He had gone out with the Howlies, he was pretty sure, and then--

“Good morning,” an amused voice said, and Bucky opened his eyes a little faster than was comfortable. There was an unfairly gorgeous man in his apartment, and for a moment Bucky let himself pretend that he had gotten really spectacularly lucky, even though he had a vague memory of insisting that his helpful new friend take the bed after going to the trouble of--

Giving him a piggy-back ride home, what the fuck, Morita. Bucky’s cheeks burned with belated mortification. It was a total violation of the bro code to send your pals out to embarrass themselves in front of unfairly gorgeous men.

Except this particular gorgeous man had actually taken Bucky up on it. And was now in Bucky’s apartment, smiling at him and holding a glass of water.

Bucky sat up cautiously, holding his breath while the contents of his head and stomach shifted. The gorgeous man waited patiently, then handed Bucky the glass of water when it was clear he wasn’t about to throw up.

“Thanks.” Bucky took a sip of water and wondered if this was some bizarre hangover-induced hallucination. If so, he was in no hurry to return to reality. “Did you carry me all the way back to my apartment?”

“Yeah,” the man--Steve, that was his name--said, looking down at his feet a little. “It wasn’t that far from the bar.”

“It’s, like, five miles.”

Steve gave him a weird little guilty look, and sudden recognition crashed over Bucky.

“Oh, fuck me sideways,” Bucky said. A split second before he would have said you’re Captain America, he saw Steve’s face draw tight, and changed his next words to, “No wonder your arms didn’t get tired.”

That surprised a laugh out of Steve, and when Bucky just followed it up with a plaintive request for coffee, the lines around Steve’s mouth relaxed. And then he actually went and made Bucky coffee. Bucky leaned his head back against the couch cushion, stared at the ceiling, and tried to figure out what he’d done to deserve this. It was either something horrible, or something amazing.

“I added a little milk,” Steve cautioned as he handed Bucky the mug. He’d made a second one for himself, like he wanted to hang around a little longer instead of rushing out of Bucky’s apartment as soon as possible. Promising sign. “I figured that would be easier on your stomach.”

“Thanks.” Bucky wrapped his hands around the coffee and took a careful sip. He wasn’t as hungover as he would have expected, but given that he’d apparently gotten drunk enough to accost Captain America in a bar and demand a piggy-back ride, he wouldn’t have been surprised to be hungover for the next week. “Seriously, thank you, you didn’t have to do any of this. I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable.”

Steve blushed, and it was only then that Bucky remembered congratulating Steve on his face.

“Oh God,” Bucky blurted. “I totally hit on you while I was sloppy drunk. I’m so sorry.”

“Nah, you were a perfect gentleman. All you did was compliment my face. And, uh.” Steve cleared his throat. “What I would have said, if you had been remotely sober, is that it takes one to know one.”

Bucky raised his eyebrows. A flush was climbing up Steve’s neck to join forces with his scarlet cheeks. “Seriously, that’s your line? A little grade school, isn’t it?”

Steve relaxed again, clearly more at home with being given shit than with flirting. “This from the guy whose romantic approach began and ended with ‘good face.’”

“Well, it worked, didn’t it?” Bucky leaned back and swung his legs off the couch. Steve’s eyes followed the flex of his thighs as he moved. Oh yeah, Bucky was getting a really good feeling about this. “I got a kind, handsome gentleman who makes coffee for poor indisposed invalids to come home with me, didn’t I?”

Steve carefully set his untouched coffee aside, his eyes fixed on Bucky’s face, a dimple forming in his left cheek as his smile grew. In the privacy of his own head, Bucky maintained that ‘good face’ was a perfectly accurate descriptor. “How indisposed?”

“Not that indisposed. I could rustle up some breakfast, treat you to apology pancakes for making you go to the trouble of hauling my drunk ass home.”

“It wasn’t any trouble,” Steve said, apparently automatically.

“How about some thank you pancakes, then?”

“Make them getting-to-know-you pancakes, and you’ve got a deal.”

“You drive a tough bargain,” Bucky said solemnly, “but I can work with that.”



 

You have entered the group Howling Commandos

DumDums
WE FUCKED UP

WE FUCKED UP REAL BAD

Jones. Gabe Jones.
Who’s in jail

Morita the merrier
nobody yet but barnes might be headed there

Jones. Gabe Jones.
Oh boy

Sitrep?

Morita the merrier
okay so

we were at a bar treating sarge to some real booze after his months of sad sad deprivation

and who should we see across the room

but captain. america. for real, captain america

DumDums
CAPTAIN FUCKING AMERICA

Morita the merrier
drinking with tony stark

DumDums
FUCKING TONY STARK

Morita the merrier
excuse me, who’s telling the story here

DumDums
AND THE BLACK FUCKING WIDOW

AND THE MOTHERFUCKING FALCON

IN FUCKING BUSHWICK ON A FUCKING THURSDAY

Morita the merrier
and barnes was already completely wasted because his liver has forgotten everything barnes lovingly taught it before he shipped out

so we thought it would be funny

Jones. Gabe Jones.
Oh no

Morita the merrier
to send him over there to ask captain america for a piggyback ride

and then he’d get his drunk ass laughed out of the bar and we’d carry him home

Jones. Gabe Jones.
A solid end to a solid evening

Morita the merrier
right?

DumDums
BUT THEN

Morita the merrier
I AM TELLING THE STORY DUM DUM

but then

barnes goes up to him

and he doesn’t get laughed at

instead captain america just unfolds his seven fucking feet of pure muscle

like swole coming out of his booth to shame mankind

Jones. Gabe Jones.
Bullshit he’s that tall

DumDums
HE’S NOT THAT TALL BUT HE IS VERY TALL

Morita the merrier
and barnes GETS ON HIS BACK

And CAPTAIN AMERICA GODDAMN CARRIES HIM OUT OF THE BAR

Jones. Gabe Jones.
He said yes??

Morita the merrier
apparently?????

Jones. Gabe Jones.
What the fuck did Sarge say to him?

Morita the merrier
no idea

wrong angle for lip-reading

but whatever it was got him on cap’s back in five minutes flat

Jones. Gabe Jones.
Damn

You didn’t ask him when they got back?

DumDums
THEY DIDN’T COME BACK

SARGE RODE CAPTAIN AMERICA OFF INTO THE SUNSET

Morita the merrier
we haven’t heard from him since

what if he took him to jail

what if captain america was so offended that he piggy-backed barnes right to the drunk tank

what if we got barnes arrested by a walking medal of freedom

Jones. Gabe Jones.
Did you check his apartment

Morita the merrier
no

no we did not

Jones. Gabe Jones.
Jesus, Sarge leaves the room and you guys forget how to do simple recon

Morita the merrier
yeah yeah

heading over there now


1 new chat from DumDums

DumDums
UPDATE

SITUATION CRITICAL

CAPTAIN AMERICA IS AT SARGE’S APARTMENT

Jones. Gabe Jones.
What.

DumDums
HE MADE SARGE DRINK WATER AND TAKE AN ASPIRIN AND SARGE INSISTED ON GIVING CAPTAIN AMERICA HIS BED

BECAUSE HE’S AN EXTREMELY CHIVALROUS DRUNK

Jones. Gabe Jones.
Morita please explain

Morita the merrier
we went up to barnes apartment

and Captain Fucking America answered the door

in a pair of barnes pajamas pants

Jones. Gabe Jones.
NO

DumDums
YES

THEY WERE RED WITH TINY PENGUINS

Morita the merrier
and barnes was out cold on the couch

and Captain Holy Shit America explained very politely that he was sticking around until morning to make sure barnes slept it off okay

Jones. Gabe Jones.
So you’re telling me that Captain America is sleeping in Barnes’ bed right now

Morita the merrier
like if goldilocks were seven feet tall and slurped down protein shakes instead of porridge

yes

and then he thanked us for coming to check on barnes

and said we were good friends

and dum dum had a crisis of conscience and blabbed that we dared barnes to ask him for a piggyback ride

Jones. Gabe Jones.
Goddammit Dum Dum

What happened to operational security

DumDums
I’D LIKE TO SEE YOU RESIST INTERROGATION IN THE FACE OF CAP’S BABY BLUES

Morita the merrier
and Captain fUCKING Amerifuck thanked us for giving him the opportunity to

and I quote

“meet such a smart, funny, interesting guy”

Jones. Gabe Jones.
What the FUCK

Morita the merrier
yeah

guess they did a lot of talking while barnes was getting carried home

and whatever he said impressed Cap so much he stuck around in case barnes got pukey

Jones. Gabe Jones.
Wow

Is he really that nice??

I thought we agreed it was imperialist propaganda???

Morita the merrier
apparently not?????

Jones. Gabe Jones.
Jesus tap-dancing Christ

How did this happen

Morita the merrier
we can ask barnes when he wakes up

if he’s still speaking to us


1 new chat from Don't call me James

Don't call me James
His name is Steve, guys

Morita the merrier
BARNES

DumDums
SARGE

Jones. Gabe Jones.
HE LIVES

Jones. Gabe Jones.
WHAT THE FUCK

Morita the merrier
TELL US EVERYTHING

Don't call me James
Woah there

Calm down

DumDums
CALM DOWN??????

Morita the merrier
YOU GOT A FUCKING PIGGY BACK RIDE FROM CAPTAIN AMERICA

Don't call me James
What did I JUST say?

His name is Steve

Morita the merrier
well excuse us for not being on a first name basis with a living legend

Don't call me James
That’s your own fault

You could have gone up to say hi like a normal person instead of daring me to humiliate myself in front of him

Morita the merrier
well

only a little bit

you’ve done way more embarrassing things

Don't call me James
Sadly this is true

Still your fault

But because I’m so goddamn magnanimous

And the soul of generosity

If you bring coffee and donuts you can come by for pancake leftovers and meet him yourselves

DumDums
HE’S STILL THERE???

Don't call me James
He says hi to you guys, by the way

Not that you deserve it

I won’t tell you not to embarrass me because I know a lost fucking cause when I see one

But seriously: his name is Steve.

Not Captain America.

STEVE.

And if you assholes pull this starry-eyed routine on him I’ll kick you the fuck out

Understood?

Morita the merrier
roger

Jones. Gabe Jones.
We’ll keep it under control

I’ll sit on Dum Dum if I have to

DumDums
THAT MIGHT BE BEST

Don't call me James
Good

By the way we made out a little

Okay so see you when you get here

Don’t forget the donuts

Don't call me James has left the group chat

Morita the merrier
WHATHTEFUCKKK

DumDums
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jones. Gabe Jones.
BARNES YOU ASSHOLE

Morita the merrier
so

red white and blue sprinkle donuts?

Jones. Gabe Jones.
Too soon, Morita

Too soon

By which I mean that Barnes would literally murder us

Morita the merrier
solid copy

how about cupcakes with Steve and Bucky written on them

DumDums
YES

WITH LITTLE HEART SPRINKLES

Jones. Gabe Jones.
Of course with little heart sprinkles, Dum Dum

We’re not amateurs