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Not the First Time

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“It’s disgraceful,” says Steve, slamming the cupboard doors harder than is wise. The hinges miraculously stay attached. “Damned disgraceful.”

Bucky squints at his coffee mug, at the corner of the newspaper, doesn’t say anything. Steve is no respecter of hangovers, especially not when Bucky knew perfectly well he had to work the next morning. And Steve’s been up long enough to go get the paper.

“Are they giving Poland to him next?” Steve asks, fumbling on the counter. “Lithuania? All of Europe, wrapped up in a nice red bow?” He slides the eggs onto the plates he pulled out and sets one in front of Bucky.

Bucky stares at his plate for ten seconds trying to figure out what’s wrong with it before he says, “Need a fork.”

“Get your own fork,” Steve says, dropping one in front of him as he goes to sit down across the table. “As if Hitler’s gonna stop at the Sudetenland. He didn’t stop at the Rhineland. He didn’t stop at Austria. They’ll just overrun Czechoslovakia now that they’re allowed in...” He keeps going for a while as Bucky eats his eggs and drinks his coffee and tries to feel human again. Bucky’s not actually sure where Czechoslovakia is, and certainly couldn’t spell it.

“And no one in Europe is accepting Jewish refugees, isn’t that disgusting?” Steve asks when Bucky’s done. Bucky sighs.

“Yeah. Eat your breakfast, Steve.” He finishes his coffee, stands and takes his plate back to the counter. Christ, it’s quarter to seven already. “We got any aspirin?”

“No, we’re out,” Steve says through a mouthful of eggs. “Sorry.”

“Ain’t your fault.” But they should keep some around. He calculates how close it is to the end of the month, how much they have to spare. “Could maybe pick some up after work.”

“I’ll do it,” says Steve. “I’m taking Mr. Rosenberg’s sign over today anyway.”

Bucky glances at the sign that’s been taking up space in their excuse for a living room for most of the week, and doesn’t ask if Steve can carry it by himself, because his headache doesn’t need to get any worse. At least it’s stopped smelling like wet paint in here. He goes to put a shirt on.

“See you tonight,” he says, coming out with his jacket over one shoulder. “Take care of yourself.”

“You take care of yourself.” Steve’s running water into the sink for the dishes from breakfast and last night’s dinner, which they’d left to sit when they went out to the bar. Steve doesn’t often drink, because half a pint would put him under the table, but usually Bucky can get him to come along anyway. He’d half-carried Bucky home last night, if Bucky’s remembering it right. And now he’s in his undershirt and trousers and bare feet, and Bucky thinks of the contrast, this pale skinny guy propping him up last night, the washed-out hair and hollow cheeks over his hot fury for the safety of people he’s never met.

“Always do,” Bucky says from the door. He waves a little as he goes, and Steve waves a plate at him.