It all starts with Steve gets his medical marijuana prescription at fifteen years old.
The whole thing sounds ridiculous to Bucky, quite frankly, who thinks that someone with asthma smoking makes as much sense as a diabetic eating a pound of candy. But apparently, his best friend insists in his usual mulish way, it actually helps with the asthma and half of the other things on Steve's laundry list of ailments.
Bucky continues to push his point for another few days, because it's common fucking sense, for crying out loud. Most of it's just to hide the fact that he's a little scared shitless of drugs, having been the pristine, slightly nerdy one throughout elementary and middle school. Everyone knows that Steve is the troublemaker, and the mere idea of Steve doing pot makes Bucky and his morals deeply uncomfortable.
Until he Googles it, in a moment of weakness. It turns out Steve was right about the marijuana. Huh.
That and Bucky Barnes has a crippling weakness for everything about Steve Rogers, but it takes another few years for Bucky to figure that part out.
They're both sixteen when Steve offers him his first hit. They're lying on their backs on an old baseball diamond, the dirt clinging to their clothes and the pungent weed sticking to Bucky's nostrils. The full moon illuminates every strand of Steve's blond hair, throwing the angles of his face in sharp relief.
Bucky's hands are behind his head, and he's trying to pick out some of the constellations, but Steve's a huge distraction, as always. He gave up long ago on insisting that he was straight -- Bucky may be straight-laced and a bit of a geek, but he's not that uptight. On the other end of the spectrum, Steve has been out and proud since their first days in high school. Bucky's vaguely jealous of that, how Steve kisses boys behind the bleachers at football games, how he wears those rainbow bracelets up and down his skinny forearms like a badge of honor.
He's not as jealous of the bruises that mottle Steve's cheekbones when Gil slams him into a locker, "fag" spat between his teeth like it was the filthiest word in the dictionary. Though a slight burn kindles in Bucky's stomach when he sees matching scrapes on Steve's knuckles and the red flush on his face after a fight, loathe as he is to admit it.
Seeing Steve right after the adrenaline rush hits, blood oozing down his hairline, his chest rattling between muttered curses about certain bullies... it's almost as good as seeing him high.
Because as Steve's eyes roll back into his head in bliss and the moon-kissed smoke curls around his face, Bucky realizes two things.
One, that he is completely and utterly in love with his best friend, and has been since that first day of kindergarten.
Two, that he really, desperately wants that joint, if he's going to be able to gather the courage to do what he wants to do.
So when Steve turns to him and offers him a hit, the way he always does, there's no way Bucky can say no. Steve's arm moves sluggishly through the thick summer air. Bucky's heart pounds a mile a minute in his chest, and his fingers tremble slightly when he takes the joint. Steve doesn't seem to notice, though. "Just suck, and blow," Steve instructs him, probably trying to be serious, but he just sounds stoned, with that familiar rasp he gains when he's like this. Bucky's mouth goes completely dry.
Fuckfuckfuckfuck. Who does he think he is? His mom will definitely find out, everyone will find out, this is what you get for hanging around that no-good Steve Rogers, honestly, Barnes, you could do so much better--
Except -- sorry coach, sorry mom, sorry Ms. Fairfax, but I never could.
The weight of Steve's eyes on his face makes the whole thing ten times more nerve-wracking than it would've been otherwise, which is really saying something.
After awhile, it starts to get easier. Bucky doesn't cough, but that night he washes the oily smoke from his hair and his skin for what feels like an hour. Steve sleeps over that night, and he just sits on Bucky's bed and smiles as if he's trying not to laugh when Bucky comes out scrubbed pink.
Smug bastard. I love you.
"Look at you, you're a wreck." Steve drawls. "Tryna' imply something? Do I smell?"
Bucky shakes his wet hair at Steve like a dog, and Steve laughs and laughs. "Fuck you," Bucky shoots back, disappearing into his closet to find a pair of pajamas. Steve just rolls over and giggles.
Little does Steve know how much he means it.
Eventually they both mellow out, sprawled on Bucky's comforter with the air-conditioner on full blast. Bucky's eyelids are a million times heavier than he remembers them normally being, but he isn't that tired. Just... feels heavier, in general.
The smallest furrow appears between Steve's brow. "You're not... you okay? Do you want more?" That's another thing; Steve usually isn't all that talkative, but pot is like fucking truth serum for him.
Bucky flaps his hand dismissively. "Affects different people differently. Shut up, would you? I'm trying to sleep here."
Steve swats his bicep. "It's barely 3AM. I want to tell you things. You know Sam Wilson?"
"Yeah," he croaks. Sharp dread fills Bucky's stomach in a way that's weird for how zoned out he feels right now. He really, really doesn't want to talk about this right now.
He's not blind, okay, he always knew that his best friend was stupidly attractive on a platonic level. Then he learned he had a thing for twinks, which was, all right, he could live with it -- but with tonight's realization smacking him in the face with all the subtlety of a bullet train, Bucky's feelings could be spared the newest story about Steve's latest one-night stand with Sam fucking Wilson. Asshole doesn't know how lucky he is, Bucky thinks bitterly.
And it's weird -- that possessiveness comes out of nowhere. It catches him off-guard, and should feel strange, but at the moment it feels completely justified.
Bucky clears his throat and tries again. "Yeah, everyone knows the rumors."
For some reason that just makes Steve frown, and Bucky wants to kiss it away. Jesus fucking Christ, what is his life. "No, we didn't -- I'm going to kill Natasha." He sighs, scrubbing his face with the heel of his hand. Bucky hums in what he hopes is a neutral way, but probably just sounds tired, and rolls over so his back faces Steve. He really, really doesn't want to hear this right now.
"What's your problem?" The words come out clumsy, but Steve responds before Bucky even has them fully out.
"Listen, he was totally coming on to me, okay. But I said no! Told him I wasn't into him, s'all." Steve blurts, before continuing in a tighter voice, "and since when do you listen to rumors before hearing me out?"
Bucky doesn't know if it’s his ruined high or the late hour or both, but right now he's just frustrated. Mostly with himself and his stupid fucking feelings, which doesn't at all explain why he feels the urge to lash out. "Since you started sleeping with every guy you lay eyes on, that's why. I mean, Christ, Steve. The whole school knows you're gay, you don't need to rub it in at every given second."
It's quiet for a long time, and Bucky can barely process his own words when Steve volleys them back with a steel-tipped blade. "If you're a homophobe, you could've told me a long time ago, Buck."
Bucky's eyes fly open, and he rolls over to face Steve, despite how he can barely see the other boy in the pitch darkness of the room. Shit, shit shit. "No, that's not what I meant--"
But Steve's already getting up, the bedsprings creaking as he turns away from Bucky and heads out the door.
As the bedroom door slams shut, Bucky throws his head back against the pillow in frustration. Goddamn his stupid mouth and these stupid drugs. He really should’ve known better. He contemplates running after Steve but suddenly he feels like he weighs a million pounds, the anxiety and fear compounding in his chest and turning into lead.
After enough minutes go by and the anxiety is practically suffocating him, he turns to grab his phone where it’s charging by the bed. 3:39AM, and his heart drops when he sees no texts or calls from Steve, even though his best friend is the most stubborn person he knows and could easily cold shoulder someone for weeks.
It takes Bucky a solid ten minutes to compose the “Hey, where are you? I’m sorry.” text. It didn’t take long for him to realize that his righteous anger was really just jealousy at Steve’s level of confidence.
The “typing” icon pops up, disappears, pops up, disappears. Bucky feels like he’s about to lose his fucking mind, until the message pops up. “In the yard.”
Dragging himself out of bed takes a Herculean effort, but he gets it done and quietly tiptoes downstairs so Steve’s mother doesn’t wake. Under the harsh light of their back porch, Steve is working through another joint. He looks like an vengeful angel, his freshly showered hair glinting golden and haloed with smoke.
Steve doesn’t look up at Bucky when he sits down next to him, but he does scoot over in acknowledgement. Bucky opens his mouth to officially apologize, but because his self-control completely goes out the window around Steve, he ends up saying, “You do realize this isn’t the yard.”
The look that Steve shoots him is mostly weary, but Bucky can trace the upsetness lingering behind the eyes. “Fuck, Steve, I’m sorry. I don’t know why I’m being such an asshole right now. You...” I think you’re the love of my life, but I’m way too comfortable around you, so I say things that hurt you. You honestly deserve someone better. “You didn’t deserve any of that.”
Steve angrily flicks the ash, sending bright sparks that land on their shoes. “I guess I should just dial back the gay, huh,” he spits, and Bucky recoils. “God, Buck, you sound just like Gil.” That’s a low blow, comparing him to the bully whose tormented Steve for most of his school career, but it’s not entirely inaccurate. At that moment Bucky realizes he has a lot of explaining to do, or else their friendship might be in jeopardy. His heartbeat jumps into double time. The thought of losing Steve over such a stupid, off-handed comment makes him want to crawl out of his skin and die.
“Listen, I... You’re right. But it’s not because I’m homophobic,” and with that thought Bucky would chuckle at the irony, if it weren’t for the delicate situation he’s in right now. “I just... You know I’m also definitely not straight, but I don’t know much more than that. You’re just so... confident about who you are, and I--”
Steve scoffs at that, his eyebrows cutting dark lines into the half of his face Bucky can see. “Don’t try to turn what you said into a compliment. You said I was rubbing it in.” Steve pauses to take a drag, and Bucky is pretty sure his chest is about to burst. “Whatever issues you have about being closeted, you know I’m here for you, Buck. But don’t try to drag me down when you’re feeling... confused, or whatever it is.” Steve shakes his head and sighs. It seems like he’s approaching forgiveness, or the outer reaches of it, but there’s still something tense about his posture.
Bucky is painfully careful with his next words. He has to lick his lips a few times, and his tongue is drier than a sheet of sandpaper. “I know. It’s just hard.” He stares, fixated on Steve’s old converse and his own black socks. Maybe it’s the weed, but they’ve never spoken so honestly about sexuality. Mostly it’s Bucky teasing Steve about his latest hook-up, or Steve texting Bucky about his latest crush. This night feels... different, and that’s what makes Bucky finally take the plunge.
He gathers all the breath he can in his lungs and says, “There’s actually this guy I’m really into, if you can believe it.”
Bucky wasn’t sure how he expected Steve to react. His best friend freezes, eyes widening in surprise. “Yeah?”
“Yeah, it’s... been going on for awhile now, actually,” Bucky ventures, trying to sound appropriately aloof.
Steve has the same look on his face as when he’s trying to solve a difficult math problem. That, or he’s focused on keeping on a straight face. “Wow, I’m. I’m happy for you.”
Steve is the worst liar Bucky has ever met. Bucky secretly loves it. A part of him also knows, maybe Steve is just taken aback right now. It’s not like Bucky has ever demonstrated a romantic interest in anyone over the course of their ten-year friendship.
“What for?” Bucky drawls, back to his old playful self. “It’s just a crush, nothing to be excited about.”
“I guess, but.” Steve licks his lips and takes another hit. What Bucky wouldn’t give to be the end of that joint. “Still a big moment. I’m guessing it’s a guy...?”
Bucky can’t quite name the expression on Steve’s face right now, but “happy” isn’t it. “Does he go to our school?”
He can’t suppress a laugh at that one. “You’re getting warmer.”
Steve’s expression twists. “Is it Sam?”
“No!” Bucky runs his hands through his hair, suddenly wishing he could rewind this conversation back to the apology and redirect appropriately. “What makes you think that?”
“You seemed to get pretty upset when I brought him up earlier, is all,” Steve says defensively.
“Trust me, it’s definitely not Sam.”
“Stop playing around. Who is it?”
“I don’t know, this is kind of fun-”
Steve groans, “Bucky, c’mon...” and Bucky chooses that moment to lean over and touch Steve’s lips to his own before he can think twice. Of course Steve tastes like the summer night, the ozone weed, and something sweet that’s distinctly his own. Steve is frozen when Bucky parts, his eyes closed.
“It’s you, you big idiot,” Bucky finally murmurs. He can barely hear himself over the blood pounding in his ears. Steve opens his eyes slowly, as if waking up from a dream. A smile tentatively spreads across his face, igniting one on Bucky’s as well.
“You’re serious?” Steve stammers, and Bucky suddenly remembers that one of the common side effects of smoking pot is anxiety. “I can’t-- I feel like you’re messing with me right now, Buck. Please tell me you’re not.” Bucky can’t stand the pleading pitch and quickly covers Steve’s hands.
“I’m dead serious. I’ve been crazy about you for pretty much as long as I can remember,” and it’s weird hearing it aloud and knowing it’s real, but worth it for the grin that ignites Steve’s beautiful face.
“Wow.” Now Steve actually sounds breathless. “You know I was only chasing all those other guys to distract myself from how bad I wanted you, right?”
Bucky’s heart skips a beat in his chest; he definitely didn’t know that. “Who’s the asshole now,” he laughs, and Steve swats at him. “Breaking my heart for a few good-looking dickheads-”
“Buck, stop,” Steve whines, and Bucky presses another kiss to Steve’s cheek like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
“Okay, okay. Let’s go back upstairs.” Plucking what’s left of the joint out of Steve’s hand, he takes another drag and puts it out on the dirt below them.
Steve pauses. Bucky knows that mischievous glint in his eye. “You know, sex is really good while high. I’ve never done it, but I’ve jerked off, and it’s always different-”
“Great, enough talking, more walking upstairs.” Bucky feels like he’s walking on a cloud. He still can’t wrap his head around it; he actually has everything he’s ever wanted since grade school.
Maybe Steve was a bad influence, and Bucky couldn’t have been more grateful.