Bucky pulled out his knife with determination.
"All of you will be extracted," he muttered darkly, then he carefully stuck the knife tip into the top of his muffin and sliced it open. Bucky examined the muffin halves on the plate, and hummed.
At the next desk over, Sam peered around his monitor. "Oh, no," he said. "You're not picking apart your food again."
"I hate raisins," Bucky complained, stabbing the knife tip into the first raisin he saw and removing it from the muffin.
Sam tsked. "Why not buy the muffins that don't have raisins in them?"
"Because the others are all sweet," Bucky said, picking out another raisin. "I want this savoury muffin, but I don't want any stupid raisins."
Sam watched him a moment longer, then said flatly, "You're disgusting."
"Do you actually like raisins?" Bucky asked, as Sam shrugged.
"I just don't buy food that I don't like. Simple."
"This muffin is superior," Bucky said, demonstrating his point by popping a cube of muffin into his mouth and moaning happily. "Mmmm!"
Then his molars crunched something squishy and sweet. Gah, a raisin . He had to lean over the side of his desk and cough it all out into the trash can.
"Disgusting," Sam repeated.
Bucky grumbled and adjusted his glasses. Then he went back to searching out more raisins before he risked eating another bite.
Natasha marched out from her office and cleared her throat pointedly. "Ahem. Barnes, there's a job that's been queued for twenty-five minutes."
"Nat, can't you see I'm on my lunch?" Bucky gestured to the muffin dissection at his desk.
Natasha smiled smugly. "This job is from Steve in Finance."
"What!" Bucky sat up straight and swept the muffin off his desk, plate and all, into the trash so he could log into his computer.
Sam peered around his monitor again and scoffed, "Not that you have a crush, or anything."
Nat turned to him. " You're not at lunch. Why didn't you take the job?"
Sam shrunk back behind his screen. "Because I'm busy?"
Bucky was already reading the IT job on the system. From Rogers, Steven, aka the hot blond that Bucky was indeed crushing on super hard.
"No, I got it!" he said excitedly, and locked his computer as he scrambled up from his desk.
"Maybe wipe the crumbs off first?" Nat suggested, gesturing to Bucky's shirt.
"Oh." Bucky brushed himself down then dashed off to the elevators.
He could take the stairs but it was, like, six floors away. Plus, taking the elevator reminded him of Steve, as that's where they'd first bumped into each other (literally, because Bucky was a klutz) and Steve had laughed it off and been so nice because he was an actual angel sent from heaven.
And now Bucky had a great excuse to talk to him again.
Except when Bucky strolled into the finance department, expecting to see Steve sitting at his desk, he saw that Steve wasn't there.
He looked around the room, virtually empty save for Scott at the little corner desk.
"Uh," Bucky said, clearing his throat. "He, um, called for IT..." He gestured at Steve's desk, and Scott finally looked up at him.
"Oh, hey, Bucky. Yeah, he waited around for you, but had to go to lunch."
"Oh," Bucky said, feeling annoyed with himself for not seeing the IT job sooner. "Yeah, I... I was tied up."
"It's cool." Scott got up from his desk, grabbing his jacket. "I'm headed to lunch too. Steve will probably be back soon."
"Right." Bucky nodded, and gave an awkward wave as Scott walked past. "See you later."
Now Bucky was alone in the office and let out a small huff.
Dammit, he thought. First legitimate excuse to talk to Hot Steve in ages, and he'd blown it because he'd been too busy messing around with a stupid muffin.
Maybe Bucky could draw the job out. Make sure he was here when Steve got back.
Yes, that would work.
Bucky pulled out Steve's swivel chair and sat in it, and he did not at all think about how Steve's ass nestled in this chair on a regular basis.
Bucky suppressed a smile, and shuffled closer to the desk. "Okay," he muttered, and tapped the mouse.
The monitor stayed dark.
Bucky pressed the power button on the monitor a couple times, but still nothing. He leaned down to investigate the computer tower, and noticed under the desk that a plug was loose from its floor socket.
Bucky rolled his eyes, and got out of the chair onto the floor. He crawled under the desk, squeezing himself into the space and reached for the plug. Bucky muttered under his breath as he pushed the plug back into its socket, and heard the computer buzz to life as it powered on.
Well, so much for that problem, he thought. Maybe he could do a desktop clean as an excuse to hang around waiting for Steve.
Bucky wriggled around in the small space to come back out when, horror of horrors, someone got into the chair behind him and sat down.
Shit, was that Steve?
Bucky froze, stuck in the most embarrassing position he'd ever been in. The person at the desk was wearing a sharp, navy blue suit, and definitely had Steve's build. His legs were very long and slid in under the desk, boxing Bucky in.
"Um," Bucky squeaked, his voice breaking. "I'm––"
"Huh, he fixed it already," Steve said, seemingly oblivious to Bucky's presence.
Of course, Bucky remembered, Steve was hard of hearing. He wore a hearing aid.
Bucky would have to crawl past the computer towers and escape out the other side. He began to carefully turn himself around under the desk without disturbing anything.
"Got your computer working?" another voice asked, as Bucky finally got himself together and was about to crawl out. But it was blocked by Clint, sitting down opposite Steve.
"Um," Bucky tried, but Clint was also hard of hearing and wore two hearing aids.
Oh, God, Bucky thought. He was trapped under the desk by two sets of legs, and instead of raising his voice Bucky found his throat drying up entirely as fear seized him.
What would Steve think if he found Bucky under the desk like some sort of weird creeper?
The longer Bucky deliberated on what to do, the longer he was stuck down there as the two men above him tapped away oblivious on their keyboards.
This was a disaster. And too many seconds had passed, it would definitely be awkward if Bucky spoke up or tried to squeeze out now.
Shit, he thought.
Sam was busy typing a report when Natasha came up to his desk shaking a cup of money.
"Sam, you haven't put money in for Sitwell's leaving present."
Sam pulled a face. "Yes, because it's Sitwell."
"But he's leaving ." Nat shook the money pot. "Never coming back. Surely that's cause for celebration?"
"Mm, alright." Sam dug in his pocket for spare change, and carefully selected a few cents for the pot. "That's my contribution."
"See, that wasn't so hard, was it?"
"It pained me," Sam insisted. His phone vibrated with a message, so Sam picked it up from his desk to check it. "Huh," he said, reading the message. "Bucky says he's trapped under Steve and Clint's desk."
Natasha raised an eyebrow, then said slowly, "What?"
"Yes, that is a strange text, isn't it?" Sam replied. "It's not just me."
"What does he mean, trapped?"
Sam read the text message again. "He didn't say."
"Well, go up there and find out," Nat told him.
As she was his manager, Sam couldn't really say no. He did grumble a bit as he locked his computer and got up. Sam liked his department; Sam did not like going to other departments where there were more people. That's why Bucky usually did those jobs.
Sam got into the elevator and sent a text reply to Bucky, Omw .
When he got off at the Finance floor, Sam tiptoed up to the door and cautiously peeped around the corner to scope out the situation.
Clint and Steve were there, sitting at their main desk, as normal. Scott's desk was empty, and at first Sam couldn't see where Bucky was. Then he looked closer and saw a little white face with big, worried eyes peeping back at him from under Steve's desk.
Sam blinked, taking it all in, then he tried very hard not to smirk.
Bucky gestured at him, mouthing, Help me!
Sam held up one finger for him to wait, then sidestepped back into the hallway as he concocted a plan.
A distraction was needed, clearly, but what sort of distraction Sam couldn't decide. He should probably do something soon, because this sort of thing could get awkward fast, and IT already had a rep for being weirdos. They didn't really need this desk lurking situation added to it.
Sam breathed in, and tried to appear natural as he walked into the Finance office.
Clint, who was facing the door, looked up briefly as he entered, but didn't pay him much notice beyond a friendly nod.
Sam nodded back, and casually as he could, looked around the office. But couldn't see anything obvious that he could use as a distraction.
In a panic, he headed over to the window.
Steve spotted him then and said, "Hey, Sam."
"Steve!" Sam said awkwardly. "Hi!" He pointed to the window at some imaginary thing outside. "Oh, my God! Steve, come look at this thing!"
"What thing?" Steve asked, still typing away on his computer.
"It's... an amazing thing!" Sam insisted, still pointing and starting to feel silly. "You better come see!"
"Can't you just describe it?" Steve said with a shrug. "I've gotta finish these reports."
"Is it those pigeons humping again?" Clint asked.
Sam lowered his arm in defeat. "Um... no. It's something far more interesting."
Sam didn't know what.
Clint raised an eyebrow at him, and even Steve side-eyed him. Sam cleared his throat and turned to leave.
"Anyway, I can't stand around here chatting all day!"
He hurried out of the office, glancing back to Bucky under Steve's desk staring at him open mouthed. Sam winced in reply, and left.
He'd have to escalate this to Natasha. She was their manager, after all. She'd have to manage this situation.
Bucky couldn't believe how useless Sam had been.
That was it, then, Bucky realised. He'd have to stay under this desk forever. This was his life now.
At least until end of the day when hopefully no one would notice him and he could escape with his dignity intact.
But Bucky wasn't having much luck today, as just then Clint dropped a pen and it rolled under his desk.
Bucky's eyes went wide.
Oh, no .
He flicked the pen gently with his finger so it rolled across the floor closer to Clint's chair, but Clint was already leaning down to retrieve it and happened to glance under the desk.
And did a double take when he saw Bucky.
Bucky felt his heart stop beating as they stared at each other. Clint frowned mildly, and Bucky put a finger to his lips.
Miracuously, Clint went along with it and straightened up in his chair.
Bucky breathed a sigh of relief, left alone under the desk once more. His phone, held in his hand, flashed silently with a message.
It was from Clint.
Any particular reason you're under the desk, dude?
Bucky's cheeks burned in shame as he hurriedly tapped back a reply.
I was fixing the plug when you two both sat down and trapped me in here! I tried to say something but neither of you heard and now I don't know what to do!
Clint's reply took ages to come, and when it did was a simple LOL .
Bucky seriously considered punching Clint's foot.
Then Clint sent another message.
Don't panic, I've texted Nat. She'll distract Steve and you can get out.
Oh, thank God, Bucky thought. He texted back, Thank you! I owe you one.
Natasha got into the elevator, having had both Clint and Sam ask her to resolve the Bucky under a desk issue.
By now she was kind of curious anyway, and wanted to take a look.
The elevator doors opened at Finance, and Natasha adjusted her blazer then strode out, high heels clipping on the floor as she walked down the hall. When she entered the office, Clint caught her eye and grinned.
Steve's back was to her, so Natasha glanced under the desk area to confirm that, yes, Bucky was indeed trapped under it. She shook her head at him minutely, but he gave her such a stricken look in return, she decided to act quickly.
Natasha looked around for a prop. Grabbing the first piece of paper she found, she held it out and walked over to the far side of the office.
"Steve," she said firmly, "can you check this report for me?"
"Huh? What's that?" Steve replied, turning around in his chair.
"This report," Natasha repeated, louder this time. "It's all wrong."
Steve was quiet a moment, then got up from his desk. He came over to her, looking at the paper she held.
Natasha looked out the corner of her eye as Clint wheeled himself back from his desk and made gesturing motions to Bucky.
"Natasha, this is a blank sheet of paper," Steve said flatly.
"Yes," Natasha said, and had to touch Steve's shoulder to make sure he didn't turn around while Bucky hurriedly crawled out of the Finance office on his hands and knees. "This is clearly why it's wrong."
"Okay?" Steve said, bemused. "Is this a prank?"
"Hah!" Clint barked, making them both look over. "Yes, you caught us!"
Natasha checked the door just in time to see Bucky crawl off into the hallway. He'd made it out.
"Yes, Clint's idea," she said, handing Steve the paper. "Hey, you guys haven't put in for Sitwell's leaving fund."
Clint groaned loudly, but Steve only smiled and fished in his pocket for a dollar.
Natasha took the dollar. "Great! Thanks. See you guys later." She turned and walked out, Clint yelling after her, "Drinks after work?"
"Sure!" she called back.
Out in the hallway, she caught the elevator before the doors closed. Bucky was leaning against the wall with his face in his hands.
Natasha pressed the button for the basement, which was their floor. "Well," she said, trying not to laugh. "That was interesting."
"Please don't tell Steve," Bucky groaned.
"I won't tell Steve," she promised. "Why don't you come out for a drink with us after work? You could try talking to him."
"No, I can't!" Bucky moaned dramatically. "I'll need a month to recover from this ordeal."
Natasha rolled her eyes. "Barnes, get a grip."
Bucky spent the rest of the afternoon sulking at his desk, going through his caseload of IT jobs onscreen.
In fact, he was pretty sure he'd never leave his own office ever again. If someone's computer broke down and he couldn't fix it remotely... Well, Sam would have to do it. Bucky would meanwhile die a hermit in the IT department and never interact with anyone else in the building, bar Sam and Natasha, ever again.
Bucky was staring miserably at his screen when the workspace instant messenger started flashing in the corner.
Oh, great, he thought. What now?
Bucky opened the messenger window and felt his eyes bug out when he saw the name Steve Rogers. He let out an involuntary little noise of alarm, and read the message.
Thanks for fixing my computer! :)
Bucky blinked as he read over the words.
Steve was... thanking him?
Bucky's heart fluttered, because he was hopeless. He quickly typed back a reply, You're welcome! :p
He deliberated over his choice of smiley face for a full thirty seconds before he sent the reply, and waited eagerly for Steve to write back.
Annoyingly on the workspace messenger system, it didn't show any typing ellipses. It did show who was online, but that wasn't always helpful as most users logged on during the day but never opened their chat windows.
It was supposed to be for work purposes only, after all.
Bucky drummed his fingers on the desk as he waited, and jiggled his knee too.
No instant reply.
Well, Steve was just being nice then. He probably didn't want to talk to Bucky, a lowly IT guy and human disaster extraordinaire.
Bucky went back to his main window and tried to concentrate on work.
His IM flashed again with a new message, surprisingly from Steve. Bucky read it, then pressed his face closer to the monitor and lifted up his glasses to make sure he wasn't seeing things.
You coming for a drink after work with us?
Bucky dropped his glasses back into place and bit his lip.
Now what did he do?
If it were anyone else, Bucky would've just been honest and said, thanks but no thanks. He hated bars, he was an antisocial nerd, and he didn't drink much anyway.
But this was Steve. Hot Steve.
Bucky exhaled on a groan, trying to figure out how to reply.
"I wish you'd stop making weird noises," Sam muttered.
Peering around his monitor, Bucky sent Sam a pleading look. "Are you going with Nat and the others for a drink after work?"
Sam snorted. "No, I have my D&D game at Pietro's."
"Of course you do," Bucky murmured, and moved back behind his monitor.
Sam was more of a nerd than he was.
Okay, he thought, you're on your own, but you can do this, Barnes.
He typed back a reply, hedging his bets: I'm not sure yet, where is it?
He sent it and cringed at how awkward that sounded.
But Steve sent a reply almost immediately, It's that Italian place two blocks down. It's real nice! We usually get a booth together. You should come :)
Bucky felt so excited that he almost said yes right away, then another message from Steve came in.
It's the least I can do after you fixed my computer!
Bucky's cheeks heated up, and he smiled. He replied, That's my job, lol!
The smile dropped off his face when he saw Steve's reply, Were you really trapped under the desk?
What? Bucky replied. No?
Clint said you got stuck under the desk , Steve wrote back.
Only an idiot would get stuck under a desk, Bucky replied. He groaned in despair, rubbing a hand down his face.
He was going to absolutely murder Clint.
Lol, Steve replied, is Clint pranking me again? Either way, you should let me buy you a drink!
Bucky rarely drank anything alcoholic, but he felt like he needed one after today.
Sure , he wrote back. Sounds good! :)
Great! Steve replied. Btw, I once got locked in that giant supply closet on third for nearly an hour.
Bucky tittered under his breath, feeling a sense of relief. Oh, no! he typed out. How?
Idek , Steve replied. The door just shut and I was stuck in there. There was no cell reception so I couldn't send a message for help. In the end I reorganised all the shelves until someone finally opened the door, and I just said hello and walked out like everything was normal. :D
Lololol , Bucky wrote. And you lived to tell the tale!
I've done plenty of stupid things , Steve replied. I'll tell you more over that drink later. :)
Maybe going for a drink with Steve would prove to be more fun than he'd thought.
Great! he replied. I can't wait. :p