like how he leaves the towels on the floor and shocks you with ice toes in the night and only drinks half of any given drink and the way his hair flops in his eyes and drives you crazy


When he tells the girls about Steve, he finds that once he starts, it gets real hard to stop. So he tells ‘em Steve’s a stand-up guy. Which is the truth. He tells ‘em that he’ll never show up late for a date or get fresh or step on their toes while they’re dancing. Also true, all of it. Steve’s more of a gentleman than Bucky’ll ever be. He doesn’t tell ‘em that Steve can’t dance to save his scrawny backside, but what they don’t know won’t hurt.

He also doesn’t tell the girls that Steve’s loyal, and honest, and brave to a fault.

He doesn’t tell them that Steve’s got a sharp mind and a kind but ferocious heart.

He doesn’t tell them that Steve’s got a temper — one that only flares up, hot and sudden, in the face of injustice of any sort, no matter how small. That Steve’s stubborn enough to drive you nuts most days and fierce as one of those big cats they’ve got down at the Bronx zoo. That Bucky’s seen him stare down down asthma attacks with the same quiet, bloody-minded determination with which he stares down bullies, even as he’s fighting for every breath and shaking with the effort of it.

He doesn’t tell them that Steve leaves his wet towel on the dirty apartment floor or that he can’t ever seem to finish a whole glass of whatever he’s drinking or that sometimes he crawls into bed with Bucky in the winter months and his long, icy toes make Bucky yelp and shove him away only to pull him close again, grinning, or that the sight of Steve’s blond mop of hair constantly falling across his face makes Bucky crazy in a way that sends his breath hitching and his heart lurching around in his chest like they’re riding the Cyclone at Coney Island.

He doesn’t tell them that the first time Bucky met Steve the little punk was face-down on the asphalt, mouth full of blood and eyes full of fire, trying to push himself back up for another round with that bonehead Jeff Franklin who’d just stuffed a handful of mud down Maria Gianopulos’ pretty new dress.

"You can’t do that," Steve’d said, simple. Steady.

"The hell I can’t, Rogers," Jeff had spat, smiling all toothy and clenching his slab of a right hand. Steve had stood, dusted off his too-big trousers and planted himself like a tree in front of Maria, who’d stopped crying and was glaring at Jeff — had said, bold as brass and cool as the Hudson in January, "maybe I didn’t make myself clear."

He’d raised his bony fists and stood his ground, and Bucky’d seen that he didn’t know a thing about footwork or how to protect his thumbs or even how to throw up a decent block. Steve had just stood there, ready to take another hit, ready to take a hundred if that’s what it took. Something small and brightly colored deep in Bucky’s chest had fluttered awake and started singing at the sight. He was rolling up his sleeves and walking to Steve’s side — saying, “Hi, I’m Bucky. Plant your right foot in front a bit and loosen those knees up, and drop your shoulders.” — before he’d even given it a thought. Steve had looked up at him for a second or two, sharp blue eyes searching for any sign of pity on Bucky’s face and, finding none, he’d smiled. They’d never looked back.

There are some things about Steve Rogers that Bucky Barnes gets to keep for himself, even if Steve himself isn’t his to keep.