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Like fragments of a dream you remember

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Title:Like Fragments of a Dream You Remember.
Author: pseudofoucault333 // Redtintedhale
Rating: M
Pairing: Steve/Bucky (With Sam/Riley, Peggy/Angie , Wade/Peter, Clint/Natasha and previous Peter/Bucky)
POV: 3rd
Summary:
Bucky is working as a Curator at Stark's Gallery, one of the best galleries in the city and Steve is the Art Student who has accepted the Scholarship to fund his third year sponsored by Stark's Gallery. Never did Steve think he would find his muse in the form of one of the suited Curators, hiding the pictures away out of shame of his fixation. But will things between them have a happy or complicated ending when Bucky finally sees Steve's work?
Disclaimer: The whole concept of Captain America etc © Marvel , don’t sue because the contents of my bank account is only worth next to nothing in US$. Also and I can't stress this enough I don't give permission for this or any other of my stuff to be reposted on Goodreads or anywhere else. If I find out it is I'll be pissed. Plot mostly based on fiction…i.e not real….but a girl can wish<3 title © Poets of the Fall.
Author Notes: Written for Stucky Secret Santa on Tumblr. Beta'd by the amazing lifesaver Viktoria <3 Comments and Kudos = pwp and cookies :D

For as long as he could remember Steve had wanted to be an artist, had loved being able to create something amazing out of something simple. To revel in all mediums, even though Pen and paper was his favourite while to learning about the history surrounding each piece. All the way through middle and high school it was the class he felt the most comfortable in which seemed to show by his grades. Over the years it had helped him to decide that it was what he wanted to do with his life no matter what.

It didn’t take much to convince his Mom that he wanted to go to Art School; though she had always been encouraging his potential since he started scribbling stick figures on construction paper. She’d been putting all his pieces from as far back as kindergarden on the fridge, held up with a multitude of magnets. It had got so bad that all the fridge had been covered in an evolution of Steve’s drawing style; some of them still sitting there. She’d also tried to save as much money as she could manage just in case, though it had been tough living as a single mother raising a teenager. It was that which had seen him submitting his portfolio forward for as many scholarships in New York schools that he could possibly qualify for.

He had ended up being offered places at all the good Art Schools in the city; getting flattering letters about how he was obviously talented and would fit right in with their alumni. But the place he’d decided to go for was Pratt’s Institute for a fine art’s degree majoring in drawing, complete with a full scholarship. It had been what he’d been only dreaming of, going to such a prestigious school with the best reputation for artist’s careers taking off during study or after graduation.

The day he received his acceptance letter he hadn’t been able to stop smiling or laughing when his Mom congratulated him and pulled him into a tight hug. It had managed to untangle the unease that had been sitting in his stomach since graduation. Yet he also knew his Mom was secretly relieved that he’d been given the full free ride. Not that it would stop him from still getting some part time job to even up his budget. He was determined to try and be as independent as possible so she didn’t worry about him.

That night found him, Peggy and Sam going out drinking in Prospect Park to celebrate with a bottle of Gin each, not the best move when Peggy had to work the next day and Sam had practice. Not to mention her place, where they’d be crashing, was on the other side of the city but it had seemed like a good idea at the time.

Yet he woke the next morning curled on her rug on the bedroom floor with a threadbare blanket attempting to cover him and a pillow that smelled of Peggy’s perfume under his head. It was a place he’d woken to many hangovers and was going to miss the sight of Angie and Peggy spooning on her bed while Sam was laid on his back near Peggy’s closet. His male friend’s gaze rested on his phone and explained why he’d woke up as he heard the odd curse when the phone fell flat on Sam’s face.

It left Steve to stare at the ceiling, his head pounding from all the Gin and the couple of cocktails Peggy managed to talk him into on the way back to hers.

Peggy had been his best friend since she came over as an exchange student with her Aunt and Cousin Sharon around six months after her parents died. He and Peggy had been in the same math class with the only free desk beside Steve’s at the back. They’d rarely said anything during the lesson, but being the kind of person he was Steve had offered to show her to her next class, most of which they ended up shared. It had cemented their friendship and they’d been close ever since, which had led to rumors of them dating through high school. But it had also helped that they both shared a passion for creativity, but while Steve was drawing and everything art, Peggy’s had been sewing and designing clothes.

She’d become renown in their graduating class as the seamstress who wore clothes so unique that everyone would always want to know where they’d come from. Every time she’d just shrug and say she couldn’t remember, always exchanging a knowing grin with Steve as they walked away. She’d even managed to develop an online business out of it on Etsy which was fairly lucrative. He was sure she would be expanding into an actual physical shop now she’d graduated. She had already been speaking to Angie and Steve a few days ago about the best locations.

Sam had been his best friend since middle school when he’d needed help with a few classes after a bad patch of pneumonia saw him hospitalised. Sam had been the one nominated by the teacher to bring him work and they’d built a friendship over those times Sam would stay to help. The friendship had only deepened in high school when Sam realised he was Bi and began to confide in Steve about all his conflicted feelings for a fellow basketball player Riley. Steve had managed to help him calm down and convince him to at the least ask Riley out; the couple had been seeing each other ever since and were set to go to Columbia on basketball scholarships.

It was around the time that Steve finally seemed to accept himself who he really was after years of not even acknowledging it. How his crushes were all on jocks and the odd nerdy guy with a lip ring in his art class. In the end he just knew that was who he was, but it had taken him quite a while to pluck up the courage to tell his Mom. To her credit Sarah Rogers had taken it well, saying she accepted him for who he was and as long as he was happy that was all she could ask for. It was the best reaction he could have hoped for.

“Oh god Sam would you stop with the bitching already! I’m sure you’ll be seeing Riley later anyway!” Angie bitched, nuzzling at Peggy’s neck even as the brunette still seemed to be sleeping soundly like always.

Angie had shared the same art classes as Peggy and Steve but hadn’t been anywhere as interested as the pair. She’d seen it more as an easy class for credit and had begged them both for help when she was at a dead end thus the three becoming friends quickly. But towards the end of their second to last year Angie stopped asking them both and began to just ask Peggy. It had been obvious there was something going on between the two whenever Steve considered it, but he’d been handling Sam’s crisis and it had disappeared amidst the cracks.

Peggy had told Steve about her and Angie the summer before their last year, seeming tetchy and unlike herself as though she thought he would judge her. But after assuring her that he understood and was happy for her Angie had just seemed to merge into the group. Just like Riley did though, Riley wasn’t around nearly as much as he wanted to be.

“Spoiled sport,” Sam’s muffled voice same from beneath his phone’s screen when it rested with a smack on his face. “I should be getting up anyway, Riley wants me to meet him at our usual Starbucks even if my head feels like it’s filled with rocks.”

“Can you guys keep it down?” Peggy groaned, pushing herself upright in bed after pecking a kiss to Angie’s lips and raking her fingers through her hair. “Ugh what did I get in my hair?!”

“Pretty sure it was that cocktail you knocked off someone’s table when we left the last bar,” Steve sighed, pushing himself upright to stretch the kinks out his back.

“Ew, so that’s why you smell like mango and gin,” Angie frowned, though began to pepper kisses over Peggy’s neck until she begged her to stop.

“I should probably be off too, Mom’ll want to start on my ‘what to take to college’ list already,” Steve groaned, kicking the blanket off him and getting to his feet, ignoring how his head was spinning.

“If you hold up I’ll come with you,” Sam called, grabbing his phone and hoodie as he sat up, kicking the throw aside and reaching a hand out to Steve for help.

“If that means me and Angie can have some peace and quiet before work then I’m all for it, see you later,” Peggy said, the sound of the covers moving and kissing telling the two boys to get out if they didn’t want the noises echoing in their ears.

Mrs. Carter was making breakfast while Sharon was sat at the counter on her phone, the blonde toying with her lucky charms. Though she looked up at the sound of their footfalls and flashed them both a smile. It was something Peggy and Sam always teased Steve about; how Sharon always only smiled at them when he was around and she had an obvious crush on him. But none of their crowd was cold-hearted enough to tell her he was gay, maybe if they had this would have stopped long ago.

“You boys have a good night out?” Mrs. Carter asked, moving to grab plates for the two like always. Usually after a night out the group would hang around, eating breakfast and downing more coffee than was normal to ease the hangovers. That sounded pretty good to Steve right now but he knew if he didn’t get home his Mom would worry.

“As amazing as always Mrs C, just wish Riley had been able to come with,” Sam smiled, flashing a glance at his phone for a text from his boyfriend asking where he was.

“You gonna be hanging around until Peggy and Angie come down?” Sharon asked, her phone now facedown on the counter beside her as she ate a mouthful of the marshmallow charms swimming in her milk.

“No can do I’m afraid. My mom’ll be wanting me home and Sam and Riley have a breakfast date,” Steve said with a reluctant smile.

“Oh that’s such a shame. Hopefully we’ll still see the both of you around even if Steve’s at Pratt’s and you’re at Columbia Sam,” Mrs Carter said over a coffee as the two edge towards the door.

“Of course you will Mrs C, who else will help me and Riley with our tiffs and remind Steve that him being single doesn’t mean he’s not hot?” Sam grinned, nudging Steve in the ribs as he glared at him.

“I’m sure you’ll find someone else for that,” Sharon giggled, causing them both to pull faces at the blonde at the mere thought as they left, calling their goodbyes to Mrs Carter over their shoulders before the door closed.

XOX

Stark’s Gallery had been one of the biggest and most prestigious in New York City, starting off as a wedding present for Mr Stark’s at the time fiancée Pepper Potts. It had long since become a lucrative business, where the best and more popular artists would fight and be willing to sell their own mothers to get their work hung on the walls. Over the years it had also become the place where new and up comers would fight to get just one piece, let alone their whole collection, displayed. It helped that Mr and Mrs Stark had lots of contacts in the art world that could start and help build someone’s career.

Bucky had been a curator at the Museum of Modern Art at the time when the opportunity to apply for a position at the gallery had sprung up. He’d have never known about it, no matter the contacts he’d managed to accumulate, if his best friend Natasha Romanoff hadn’t become one of the top curators and favourite of Mrs Stark.

She’d texted him for a drink after one particularly bad day at the office that left him wanting to wring the head curator by the neck and hang his body from a sculpture in the foyer. He had a habit of changing things and going over Bucky’s head to get the pieces he wanted in the best spots instead of giving other artists a chance, it was getting on Bucky’s last nerve.

He ended up slouched at the Shield’s bar between the museum and the gallery, nursing his first scotch on the rocks of the night as he waited for Natasha to appear. He’d just downed the last of his second when he decided getting pissed was a good plan; when the redhead appeared, looking as prim and proper as she always did. She offered him a placating smile and a supposedly reassuring slap on the shoulder before sitting beside him.

“Clint, I’ll have my usual when you’ve stopped drooling at my cleavage, again,” Natasha quipped, setting her bag down on the bar as the blond left the two alone.

“And same again for me as well when you have the chance,” Bucky called after his retreating back, setting his empty glass down on the bar and pushing his flashing phone into his jacket pocket. It made it so much easier to ignore it that way.

“Loki getting on your case again?” Natasha asked, crossing her legs at the knee and pushing a twenty across the bar to Clint when he reappeared with the right glass and bottles.

“You have no idea, seriously I was this close to stringing him up by his scrawny neck and telling Hand to hell with the job,” Bucky groaned into his hands when he heard Clint set his new drink down.

“Well what would you say if I could help you out with that?” Natasha asked, taking a sip of her expensive Prosecco, delicately.

“What? Do you know someone who can make a murder look like a suicide? Where do I sign?” Bucky asked, causing the redhead to roll her eyes.

“Dramatic as always James, but no not that. I meant, I have a job offer for you.” Natasha said, which had Bucky pausing before his drink reached his lips.

“What job offer? Where?” Bucky asked with a raised eyebrow, Natasha’s red lips quirking at the corners like she knew he was interested.

“At Stark’s. Scott, one of the head curators, is moving states to be closer to his family and we need someone to fill his gap as soon as possible. I suggested you to Pepper since I know how badly you want a get out of jail free card from The Museum of Modern Art. She’s keen to speak to you tomorrow lunch time,” Natasha said, the smugness on her face really didn’t look like it belonged on her features.

“Really? Wow…Nat I don’t know what bullshit you must have fed her but wow,” Bucky said, flabbergasted as he set his drink down.

“Don’t say anything, just make sure the next round is on you and we’ll go over your resume and possible questions so you don’t embarrass me,” Natasha said, picking up her glass and bag before leading the way towards a table in the corner. Bucky willingly bringing up the rear like an eager puppy.

XOX

The next day Bucky made his way to Stark’s Gallery on his lunchbreak after making his excuses about a doctor’s appointment to a nosy Loki. Natasha stood with a fairly timid guy in a suit, a young bespectacled man trying to painstakingly position a bird’s eye photo of Niagara Falls with the help of a taller man who kept trying to cop a feel instead of focusing on the task. The shorter squawked indignantly when the taller squeezed his ass and slapped his hand away.

“Wade, I swear to god if you do that one more time you’re sleeping on the couch! And not even the good couch…the crappy couch on the roof!” The shorter man glared, once the picture was hung perfectly, pushing his glasses up his nose before he reached for the next one.

“Peter, once you’re finished with the Canadian ones Bruce will help you rearrange the Parisian…we won’t get it finished at this rate if Wade doesn’t get a grip,” Natasha said, glaring at the man from behind her clipboard who put up his hands in defeat and grabbed the next picture for Peter.

“Nat…” Bucky said cautiously, not wanting to piss the redhead off anymore than she currently was as he edged towards them. He was more than familiar with Natasha’s temper and it was often best not to get on her bad side. Thankfully Natasha looked up and offered him a smile.

“James, right on time. Bruce have you got this covered? I just need to show someone to Pepper’s office,” Natasha asked, offering the clipboard to the suited man beside her.

“Sure, no problem,” Bruce smiled, though his shoulders hunched once the clipboard was in his hands as he double checked the other collections. It left the younger couple to make out rather nosily against the closest wall.

“Just ignore them, Wade always seems to get hot for Peter when he tells him off…I just hope they don’t get come all over the walls again,” Natasha sighed, leading Bucky through the gallery towards the very back door that she opened with a swipe key.

The door opened to a short pristine corridor with four other doors sprouting off it though Natasha led him towards the one straight ahead, greeting someone who was sat behind the desk outside the door. The young brunette gave Bucky a rather obvious once over as Natasha knocked on door.

“Come in!” A voice called, causing Natasha to give Bucky a quick once over before opening the door and leading Bucky inside.

“Pepper, this is the guy I was telling you about to replace Scott. James Barnes,” Natasha said, closing the door behind Bucky and leading him closer to the door.

Bucky had heard a lot about Mrs Stark, though the business world still called her Ms Potts since her reputation was not built on her husband’s name. Even if it had been formed around his business primarily. She was a very intelligent and strategic business woman who, from the looks of whatever was on her computer, was still trying to run her husband’s company single-handedly while browsing art pieces for the next opening.

“Ah right, of course,” The shorter redhead smiled, clicking both her computers shut and shoving her phone in a drawer. It immediately began to play some tone which didn’t sound recognisable to Bucky but Pepper chose to ignore. “Please come have a seat Mr. Barnes.”

Bucky shook her hand when she offered it and sunk down into one of the two seats on the opposite side of the desk. He pulled his resume out his leather ledger and offered it to Pepper who took it between manicured fingers; Natasha lurking silently around the room but Bucky had long since got used to ignoring Natasha.

“So, Natasha was telling me you’re currently working at the Museum of Modern Art. I’m surprised you’d be so keen to want to move away from that opportunity,” Pepper said strongly, though her gaze lingered over Bucky’s resume as she tapped a finger against her lips thoughtfully.

“Yes well, I feel like it’s time for me to move on into something more specialised. I really like being able to help local artists get the connections that they deserve to move forward. It’s kind of hard to do that when you have to focus on just the position of the artwork when one piece doesn’t always represent their whole work. Besides it seemed like an opportunity I couldn’t just let pass me by,” Bucky said, causing Pepper to nod in agreement as she set the resume down to look at Bucky, her hands clasped together on the desk.

“Well you definitely sound like you understand the ethos of our gallery and from what I’ve seen and heard you’re hardworking. Yes, I think you’re exactly what our gallery is looking for. Darcy,” Pepper smiled, pressing a button on her desk causing the door to open and the young brunette from the desk outside appeared with a grin.

“Ms Potts…anything I can do?” Darcy asked, a Stark Tablet in her hands as she looked at the redhead behind the desk.

“Yes, contact Human resources and get them to forward me the introductory Pack for Mr. Barnes. I want it in his inbox by the end of the day,” Pepper said, offering Darcy Bucky’s resume which she took with a nod.

“You got it. Oh before I forget the Pratt Institute has send me the list of candidates and portfolios for the scholarship for you to sift through,” Darcy said, her fingers moving over the tablet even as her gaze remained on Pepper’s face.

“Natasha?” Pepper asked, as her phone began to ring from the drawer again.

“I can look at it no worries. Bruce is keeping an eye on Peter Parker’s collection being set up and it doesn’t take two people to do that,” Natasha agreed, taking a look at Darcy who nodded to let her know she’d hand it to her.

“Ok great, well it’s been a pleasure to meet you Mr. Barnes. Unfortunately I need to get that this time. My husband can get a bit tetchy when I’m not keeping an eye on the company for him,” Pepper said with a put upon smile as the three other occupants all made their way towards the door, just as Pepper pulled the phone out her drawer.

XOX

It had been two years since Steve had started at Pratt’s institute and he’d managed to make his way through two different scholarships from the previous academic years as they only lasted a year a piece. He’d signed up for his classes for his third year before the start of summer and moved to Sam and Riley’s place so he could keep his job without having to get multiple buses to get there from Brooklyn.

The summer had been a fairly good one, meeting more new people while he worked as a barista on campus and part time curator at the Pratt’s institute’s own Gallery which he was considering continuing when the term started again. He’d seen Peggy a few times when she and Angie nagged him to come over for dinner, though they were always thinly veiled attempts at blind dates. None of them had ended up going as far as a second date so far, though the two lesbians didn’t have good enough taste in men so it was slightly excusable.

Though it soon seemed like both sets of friends seemed to think he needed someone as he ended up being set up with one of Sam and Riley’s teammates from their Columbia team. While Brock was attractive, there was no denying that with the way his ass looked in those jeans, he was getting tired of his friends trying to impact on his love life. Not that he had much of a love life to begin with, admittedly, but if he wanted someone he would have found someone by now.

“Oh come on Steve, Brock couldn’t keep his eyes off you,” Riley sighed, as the couple met with him the next morning at the café Steve worked at, under the pretence of getting coffee to see if he was going to call his blind date.

“And? I mean he’s fuckable but I want there to be more between us in a relationship you know. I couldn’t see Brock actually wanting to seriously date me. He’d probably want to get in my pants after going out the first time anyway,” Steve said, putting more sugar than Sam usually took into his long black and pushing it across the counter towards him.

“Is that really such a bad thing? I mean he could have been rocking your world last night if you hadn’t suddenly decided you’d had enough,” Sam asked, raising an eyebrow as Steve grabbed his own coffee and signalled he was off for a break before following the couple to a table.

“I don’t know. Like I said, he’s hot but there wasn’t any spark like there was between the two of you when you first met. You know what I mean?” Steve asked, sinking into his chair and watching the two exchange knowing looks.

“Sure, but you have to admit that the longer you wait for that spark the more destined you are to die alone, unloved and a bitter old virgin,” Sam said, while Riley nudged him in the ribs to shut him up.

“Who’s destined to die an unloved bitter old virgin?” Peggy’s voice quipped, as she and Angie appeared offering Steve beaming smiles of innocence. Like it was purely coincidence they were there.

“Steve, he’s turned down another guy he’s been set up with,” Riley said, as the girls pulled up chairs and joined the table.

“Steve, you aren’t still on the spark quest are you? You should have given up on that by now surely,” Angie said, rolling her eyes as she sipped her cappuccino.

“Yeah because getting lectured by my friends who claim to know what’s best for me is really helpful. Look, I know you guys all love me but I’m not going to force myself to date someone I don’t see myself having a future with. Just so you guys don’t feel bad at the knowledge I’m a virgin that needs to get laid before he’s thirty. Now my break’s over, I’ll see you all later,” Steve said, downing the last bitter mouthful of his coffee and getting to his feet.

He didn’t hear a single objection from any of them and knew they knew he was right. Though he didn’t doubt for a second that it was going to stop them from continuing to set him up in order to help him find this guy with the supposed spark. He knew they just wanted him to be happy and appreciated it; but their way of going about it was just so frustrating. Showing him frogs and hoping he’d see a prince in the midst.

It was after work as he was walking reluctantly back to Riley and Sam’s while he was smelling like burnt espresso, antiseptic spray and sugary caramel syrup that he got a call. He wasn’t really in frame of mind to answer it no matter who it was; just wanting to go to bed and indulge in several hours of mindless streaming online. Anything so he didn’t have to think about how this was his life, but the call made it impossible for him to change his mind.

“Hello?”

“Hello is this Steven Rogers?” The voice on the other end was brisk, professional and filled with an accent that definitely didn’t sound local. It sounded like it belonged to a lawyer or investment banker so he had no idea why she was calling him.

“Yes, speaking,” Steve said cautiously.

“My name is Ms Romanoff from Stark’s Gallery. I’m calling on behalf of Ms Potts, the patron of the Avengers Scholarship.”

Immediately Steve stopped in his steps, he’d vaguely recalled something about Stark’s Gallery being mentioned as a sponsor in one of the scholarships he’d applied for. But he hadn’t expected to get a curtsey call even if it was probably to tell him thanks but no thanks. Admittedly he had had more than his fair share of calls about scholarships but they never made him feel this breathless and on the edge of something important before.

“Yes, of course Ms Romanoff, what can I help you with?” Steve asked, making sure to push a sense of calm and confidence into his voice.

“Its how I can help you I’m more interested in. I wanted to call to tell you how impressed I was with your portfolio, I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it in my entire career in the art world.”

“Thank you,” Steve murmured feeling flustered, as the confident calm vibe began to fail. He’d never exactly been comfortable with getting compliments anymore than he was critiques about his work but knew it was something he was just going to have to accept and try not to blush.

“That’s why myself and Ms Potts agree, I’d like you offer you this Academic Years’ scholarship.”

“I….wow I really don’t know what to say. I just thank you so much,” Steve stuttered.

“Oh believe me Mr Rogers it’s an honour. And to celebrate I think it only fitting that you come to tonight’s exhibit opening.”

“Did….did you say tonight?” Steve asked, toying with his lower lip between his teeth.

“Yes tonight, you get to meet my fellow curators and Mr Stark with Ms Potts of course. Is there a problem with that?” He could hear the questioning tone in her voice and knew immediately it was her version of a test. Turn it down whether it was at last notice or not would be like shooting himself in the foot before he got on a plane.

“No, no problems at all,” Steve managed to murmur faintly as he made himself keep walking.

“Excellent. I’ll text you the details and see you tonight.”

The phone’s tone sounded in his ear causing Steve to swallow as he hung up and immediately texted Peggy. He wasn’t even sure he owned anything that was suitable for an Art Gallery exhibit opening let alone something good enough to create a good impression with the patrons of his scholarship. It was this that found him pacing back and forth uneasily in the spare room at Sam and Riley’s as Peggy ransacked his closet. All while Angie and Riley laid on his unmade bed watching. Sam wasn’t due home yet but he didn’t doubt Riley would have texted his boyfriend at some point to tell him the news.

“Come on Peggy, there must be something!” Steve whined, hyperventilating into his hands over his mouth while Peggy threw all the clothes he owned to the floor. Obviously hoping she’d magically find something suitable.

“Steve, calm down,” Peggy said soothingly, pausing from her task to guide him by the shoulders to his desk chair. Pausing to cast a glare at Angie and Riley in the process for not doing it sooner which had the two murmuring.

“Calm down!? You are kidding me right? I have to be at an art exhibition opening at Stark’s Gallery in three hours and I’ve nothing to wear! How the hell can I be expected to be calm about now?!” Steve panted, as Peggy returned to her task when she was sure he wasn’t going to leave the chair.

“Well he could always go naked and model as a statue in the middle of the exhibit I’m sure he’d fit in just fine,” Riley grinned, causing him and Angie to laugh amongst themselves while Peggy threw a pair of Steve’s boots at the both of them to shut them up.

“Whoa, ok then…no time for jokes, got it,” Riley said, rolling his eyes when the shoe thrown his way nearly smacked him square in the face just as Sam arrived.

“Do I dare ask?” Sam asked Steve as he looked from the increasing pile of clothes to Peggy to the shoes on Steve’s bed and then to Steve who was still breathing into his hands and shook his head silently in response.

“Our other halves aren’t being helpful again,” Peggy huffed, picking out a shirt from the pile of Steve’s clothes.

“And I’m not surprised in the slightest. Ok Angie, Riley, Out.” Sam sighed, wearily. He’d long since got used to Riley and Angie being a bad influence on the other ever since he started dating his boyfriend, but sometimes they just pushed it too far.

“Aw come on Sammy! I’ll be good if you let me stay,” Riley pouted, getting up from the bed and approaching his boyfriend who cast him a glare that told him not to try it on right now.

“Yeah come on Pegs, I was only kidding around.” Angie pouted, casting her girlfriend a puppy dog look which usually melted the other woman’s heart.

“We don’t have time…just…just go elsewhere.” Peggy said defiantly, putting Steve’s shirt and new pair of jeans Steve barely wore on to the bed.

The pair soon reluctantly left, each pausing to kiss their other half apologetically. It left Sam to ease Steve while Peggy continued to sift through his clothes in case she found something better. She left the room once it was assembled on the bed and Sam helped Steve change even if his anxiety was still debilitating bad. By the time Steve was ready, there was an hour before the opening and he still needed to get to the gallery itself. Thankfully he had some cash for a cab and hugged both his friends in thanks before managing to get there with half an hour to spare.

The outside of the gallery was completely modern but with a rich twist, all marble columns and pristine white walls with wall length windows that let passers-by look in at the odd couple of pieces on display there though at the moment an enlarged flyer for the opening exhibition was sitting on a canvas held up on an easel. The sign of 'Stark’s Gallery' was in gold italic letters a few floors above the door and there were rumours that each letter was actually not gold plate but gold leaf, worth a fair bit of stolen. Not that anyone would dare try with the doorman at the only door out front acting as security.

The inside was all cement floors and white walls, meant to be a blank palette enough that you could enjoy the art without getting distracted by anything else. It was the perfect stage for an exhibit and helped Steve feel more at ease as he walked inside. At the moment the inside was filled with guests, buzzing waiting staff in black and white uniforms carrying silver trays back and forth and a few caterers murmuring around with a brunette woman who didn’t look like the type to argue with. A young pair of men, one with glasses and younger than other, made their way through the crowd sometimes getting stopped by a guest easily pointing out who the artist in question was.

The group that caught his attention was a group of five, two redhead woman dressed in pristine expensively branded suits with high heels chatting with the three men in suits. But every so often the redhead in the taller heels and hair down would risk a glance at the door as though she was expecting someone, looks like that’s his cue. He made his way towards the group and was rewarded with a smile by her when she spotted him and beckoned him over. Steve made sure to plaster a smile on his face as he approached them, hoping it was believable and didn’t look fake.

“You must be the infamous Steve Rogers,” the taller redhead said, with a smile as he shook her hand nearly recoiling at the strength in her grip.

“And you must be Ms Romanoff?” Steve asked, hoping he’d used the right name for the right person. The last thing he wanted to do was to insult the patron of his scholarship.

“Please just call me Natasha, only our clients need to bother with all the formalities. Come on, let me introduce you to the others,” Natasha smiled, pulling him by the wrist after her.

Pepper seemed to be an amazingly strong and supportive patron compared to the ones he’d had in the past; asking him lots of questions about his work that Natasha had shown her to help finalise her decision. It was relaxing just speaking to her about something he was more familiar with, while her husband seemed to get tetchy at her lack of attention and was soon playing a game on his phone. He only stopped once Pepper swiped the phone out his grasp, continuing to talk to Steve the whole time like it was common to do so, and paused to steer Tony to one of the two other curators before he could complain.

Natasha was speaking to the other curator in sly whispers with the odd glance his way that caused the other man to blush, hiss something at her and stalk off into the crowd before the redhead could even come up with a good comeback.

“Who’s that?” Steve asked, interrupting what Pepper was saying as his fingers began twitching with the urge to start drawing at the sight of the other man. His perfect facial features, the muscles straining the material around his biceps and the way his stubble caused shadows to cast over his slightly tanned skin made Steve want to brush his lips and tongue against his neck to see what his skin tasted like.

“Oh, that’s James Barnes our newest curator. Don’t mind him and Natasha, they seem to have that kind of relationship like siblings more than anything else,” Pepper shrugged, as she sipped her champagne, the pair watching the photographer behind the exhibit pause to speak to a group of attendants, his hand still rested in that of the elder male beside him that had been following him around.

“James huh?” Steve murmured, his gaze following the man’s retreat, suddenly feeling like the night wasn’t going to be so awkward or boring.

He spent the rest of the night speaking with the other curator Bruce who seemed to know more about art than he thought. Natasha also finally introducing him to the man behind the exhibit and the previous year’s scholarship that he’d seen around socialising. Him and Peter seemed to bond as much as was possible while Peter’s boyfriend Wade kept trying to pull him every which way and ended up skulking off to get the couple some drinks while Peter and Steve spoke about their experiences at Pratt’s institute over the years.

But every so often Steve’s gaze would waver through the crowd and spot the attractive curator speaking to someone with a bright smile that seemed to get close to blinding when he laughed. Steve could feel himself falling in a way that he hadn’t ever felt before despite them not even meeting yet. But it seemed to be noticeable to Peter after a while who gave him a knowing smile.

“Bucky’s quite something isn’t he?” Peter asked, around the glass of sparkling water Wade had given him before disappearing out back for a smoke.

“Hm? I mean yeah…not that we’ve had much of a chance to speak yet. But his aura and presence seems to be very inspirational,” Steve said softly.

“Yeah, inspirational is definitely the word for it alright. He helped me to inspire my new collection before I met Wade not that we knew each other that long. Though I highly doubt he looks at me the way he does you right now,” Peter grinned, watching Steve flush and turn his gaze to the pictures just as Bucky snuck a peek in his direction.

“If you say so,” Steve brushed off, letting Peter steer him to the next collection of photos.

He wasn’t exactly an expert when it came to photography; the only photos he took being selfies with friends every so often on a night out or the odd inspirational scenery on the rare occasions he managed to have a day off work. But he had to admit that Peter’s work was flawless and deserved to be on display in the gallery.

“Besides, with you having studio space here with the scholarship I’m sure the two of you will be speaking sooner than you think,” Peter smiled, pushing his glasses up his nose.

Steve tried not to let the thought bother him and enjoy the rest of the night, leaving with Peter’s number in case he wanted to talk or needed his expertise. A sense of anticipation in his stomach that he couldn’t wait for his scholarship and the academic year to start.

XOX

The night the exhibit was opening Bucky wasn’t really that keen to go, feeling exhausted after all the organising that he’d had to do for the next exhibit at the end of the next month. Not to mention all the pieces he was having to locate from all over since the other galleries would only deal with him. But Natasha had been insistent that he come and he knew better than to argue with her; though she had mentioned something about him meeting the new recipient of the Scholarship that the gallery sponsored for the next academic year. Which he didn’t understand the importance of his presence let alone actually meeting this kid.

He’d met all the staff from the gallery before including, reluctantly, Tony Stark who had got on his last nerve the couple of times they’d had a dinner out together both as a goodbye for Scott and a celebration at Bucky’s appointment. He could only just handle the guy in small doses but anymore than that and he was sure Natasha would have had to restrain him. Still he’d gone home to change after a long day at the gallery double checking everything, and made his way back to restrain the redhead from throttling the waiting staff and caterers.

He was relieved when it was open and all the guests were there to fill the space and the silence but the sight of the student for the scholarship had his body stiffening as Natasha and Pepper wittered with Steve about his work. But he didn’t fail to notice the twinkle in Natasha’s eye as if she knew what was going through Bucky’s head. That he was exactly Bucky’s type.

His type had always been the same since high school, blonds with blue eyes and a body to die for but not a part of them that they obsessively fixated on. They were smart, often wearing glasses, and studying subjects that were complicated but not the norm like Philosophy, History and as was his weakness Art. The sight of anyone that attractive with his skin covered in paint; with granite from pencils smeared on their fingertips and he was a goner. This guy really was no exception at all and he felt his mouth go dry, swallowing as he tried not to be too obvious. But he knew from the grin on Natasha’s face that she knew and was going to make his life a living hell when the night was over.

He left the group to go and grab a desperately needed drink; hoping for some reprieve but heard Nat’s high heels following and knew it wasn’t gonna happen. Still he managed to order a drink at the bar before the redhead appeared.

“So what do you think of Steve?” Natasha asked, a hint of teasing in her voice saying more than her words.

“He seems like a good enough kid,” Bucky managed to make himself say, taking a desperately needed sip of his drink once it was in his possession.

“Oh come on James, he’s more than that. He’s exactly your type,” Natasha jeered, taking a glass of white wine from the tray of a passing waiter.

“Yeah and?” Bucky sighed, knowing this wasn’t going to be so easily avoided.

“Don’t you ‘and’ me Barnes. You haven’t dated in years…I’m getting worried about you being more career focused and neglecting your love life,” Natasha said, a look of concern flicking on her face that Bucky didn’t appreciate and never had every other time she tried to get involved.

It was true that he barely dated, but more because while he was growing up it was so much easier to not get attached or date. To just find someone to fuck when he felt the need instead of going to all the trouble to date and get to know someone that would let him down in the end anyway. It was something Natasha had never seemed to understand; being that her work and study had always been so much more important to her. Even when she had been asked out multiple times no-one had ever been good enough for her.

Though he did have a feeling by the way she and Clint kept flirting when they hung around Shield’s that there was something going on there between them. But there was nothing to say that this kid was the one that would make him want to care, make him want to actually date and get to know someone for the first time and give up the uncomplicated solitude.

“Just because he’s my type it doesn’t mean anything Nat. Now excuse me but I need to mingle with our guests since neither you nor Pepper are going to bother,” Bucky said firmly, casting her a look and weaving amongst the crowd before she could say another word on the subject.

But even while he was trying to be professional he couldn’t stop his gaze from lingering in the direction of the boy, watching him speak enthusiastically with Bruce and Natasha, the way it was so easy for him to bond and get to know Peter even while Wade was flitting around trying to get the photographer’s attention like a puppy.

He knew that towards the end he was being obvious by the way Peter met his gaze and raised a knowing eyebrow. He watched Peter jerk his head at Steve questioningly and bit his lip in silent confirmation causing a sly grin on Peter’s lips. He was so painfully obvious that he was surprised Peter didn’t point it out to Steve.

But he managed to keep away from Steve for the rest of the night, the gallery soon emptying around two am leaving him and Natasha to overlook the pack up of the caterers and waiting staff. But he didn’t manage to avoid Nat’s third attempt at pushing.

“So Peter told me something interesting before Wade led him home,” Natasha said, gaze on her clipboard.

“Define interesting exactly, where he’s concerned that’s a rather broad spectrum,” Bucky said carefully, his gaze on his phone where Clint was asking how much longer until him and Nat were done.

“He told me that you couldn’t stop watching Steve the whole night,” Natasha pried, watching him instead of making sure the waiting staff took the right glass ware.

“Is that really such a crime? To watch and appreciate a good looking guy?” Bucky asked, though he knew from the way she rolled her eyes that she didn’t buy it for a second.

“You’re going to have to get over this James, he’s going to be around the gallery a lot with the studio space out back. So either act on it or remain painfully celibate and professional,” Natasha said, calling up to everyone to hurry before leaving Bucky sighing.

By the time they left the Gallery that night he really was no surer what he was going to do than before.

XOX

Since spotting the mysterious James, Steve hadn’t been able to stop drawing him. It had been the case since the exhibition opening and continued on since he started using the studio space out back of the gallery.

It had been eerily quiet the first couple of days; like a blank canvas with the blank white walls, the hardwood floor and the collection of easels sat in the corner which from the amount of paint they were covered in were quite old. There was a drawing desk in another part of the room with a stool and spot for him to put his stuff, though at the time he’d been more focused on just laying on the floor sketching different aspects of Bucky’s figure from memory over and over again. There were pages of eyes, hands, lips and noses and even then he still wasn’t sure they looked right; but he then moved on to scribbling arms, legs and torsos with some nude and some clothed. Only then did he branched out on to drawing full sketches. He was always careful to keep the sketches out of sight on the rare occasion Bucky passed to the staffroom or went to Darcy but he knew it didn’t go unnoticed by Darcy.

She seemed to latch on to him from day one and start to pull him out for coffee or bring him lunch when he hadn’t had any, claiming he’d die without her around. But she also began to appear like a ninja like she was hoping to catch him out and see what he was doing so it had been only a matter of time before she managed to sneak up behind him while he was trying to perfect Bucky’s chin on a portrait in progress.

“Well, someone has a crush on one of our resident curators doesn’t he?” Darcy teased, bringing him back from his internal creative place and offering him a coffee from the café down the street.

“I do wish you wouldn’t do that Darcy,” Steve cursed, covering the sketch on the desk.

“What? Embarrassed about your little crush? Though that is looking pretty good,” Darcy said, sipping her latte as she tilted her head at what she could see from another sketch.

“Yes! And maybe at the moment…I can’t seem to be able to draw anything else even if I tried to,” Steve sighed, stirring the sugar around in his macchiato hoping it would help motivate him to finish something.

“Maybe that’s for a perfectly good reason. Maybe your creativity is acting as your conscience and trying to push you to do something about you and Bucky,” Darcy said, with a raised eyebrow like she knew more about how Steve’s brain worked better than Steve did.

“Maybe but there’s nothing worse than trying to get into a relationship with someone at your workplace, or base of your scholarship in this place,” Steve said, shifting the loose sketches out of view at the sound of familiar footsteps walking down the corridor while Darcy pulled up a spare stool not about to let this conversation go.

“Well there’s nothing in the terms and conditions of your scholarship that’s against doing just that. Besides it didn’t seem to stop Peter,” Darcy shrugged, causing Steve to frown even as he remembered Peter’s words about Bucky inspiring him.

“Wait what?!” Steve asked, setting his coffee down on the part of his desk not covered in sketches so he didn’t spill it on anything important.

“Well Peter and Wade had one of their odd wobbles like they do and broke it off not long after Bucky started here. I still think it was because of Bucky but I never asked either of them about it,

Anyway Peter was lonely and they got talking about art and stuff helping them get closer from day one, so they ended up dating a bit and then…well you know. But Wade came back after a couple of months and Peter broke him and Bucky off; it seemed completely mutual really.

Aside from the fucking neither of them were really into it and Peter knew Wade was it for him anyway,” Darcy murmured from behind her cup, though was cut off at the sound of Bucky’s voice calling her name from the doorway, causing both Darcy and Steve to turn towards it.

“Yes Mr. Barnes, anything I can help you with?” Darcy asked, with a face and voice of feigned innocence. Which from the look on Bucky’s face he didn’t believe in the slightest that at the same time had Steve’s hand grabbing the nearest pencil and paper in the hopes of catching unnoticed.

“I need a paper copy of the inventory of the pieces for the next exhibitions I need to chase up; if I’m not interrupting anything,” Bucky said with a glare, causing Darcy to merely get up with her coffee still in hand and leave.

It left the two men alone, Steve still frantically scribbling away at every detail of Bucky’s features that he could manage while the real thing was stood in front of him, but the sound of the elder man clearing his throat caused him to look up.

“So I don’t think we’ve actually managed to speak to each other since the night of Peter’s opening,” Bucky said, walking casually towards the desk while Steve’s fingers continued to move.

“We’ve both been busy,” Steve agreed, putting his pencil aside and picking up his coffee once the sketch was pushed into the depths of his sketchbook amongst the others.

“That we have, though I still feel like I should introduce myself. I’m James Barnes but everyone round here seems to call me Bucky…unless they’re Natasha,” Bucky smiled, pushing his hands in his pockets.

“I know, the other curators and staff I spoke to wouldn’t stop talking about you that night,” Steve murmured, around his cooling coffee.

“And you’re the infamous Steve Rogers from what I’ve heard. Natasha and Pepper haven’t stopped gushing about your work since they saw your portfolio for the scholarship,” Bucky said; with a sly flirtatious tone in his voice as he hovered at the desk.

“That’s me, though whether my work is really that good or memorable is in the eye of the beholder as the saying goes.” Steve said, offering him a shy smile.

“I guess we’ll just have to see then won’t we? Still hopefully we’ll get to know each other more while you’ve got this scholarship,” Bucky smiled, reluctantly easing his way back towards the doorway where Darcy stood with a handful of papers and a knowing look as she watched the pair.

“Your papers Bucky, anything else?” Darcy asked, taking a sip of her coffee once they were in Bucky’s possession.

But the elder man didn’t reply, pausing to meet Steve’s gaze as he moved with a quirk on his lips. Steve’s gaze followed his ass as it moved towards the door, feeling a spark of arousal flowing through his veins as he left. He was getting in way too deep.

The clearing of Darcy’s throat caused his gaze to jump back to the brunette and sigh as he turned back to the sketches at the look she flashed him before following Bucky’s lead. Steve knew that he was going to still be drawing Bucky regardless and it wasn’t going to ease his body’s reaction to the man anytime soon.

XOX

One late night, several weeks later, Bucky was at the gallery way past closing time doing inventory to double check that all Peter’s works were wrapped up securely ready to be transported to the Chicago gallery in the morning. Usually Darcy or Kate would be the one to do the checking; but it had been a busy day of moving in another couple of miniature exhibits from local artists that were replacing Peter’s.

Well that and he’d needed the excuse to stay way from the apartment he and Clint shared while Natasha was over. Especially after a few rather thinly veiled threats about what she’d do to him if he so much as dared to come back before midnight. He could definitely do without those sounds haunting him for the rest of his existence.

Finally he finished up double checking everything and set the clipboard by the packages to mark to Kate which pieces were going where; the last thing he needed was for one of them to turn up at another gallery instead. Peter would never forgive him and Darcy would never let him hear the end of it.

He left and locked up the storage room before deciding to go grab his things and maybe go to a bar to distract him before he could go home. Though as he was walking to the staffroom he spotted a light shining from the studio where Steve spent most of his time when he wasn’t at Pratt’s for a tutorial or lecture.

The two of them had only spoken on the odd occasion when they were in the staffroom at the same time or waiting for Darcy to appear with their coffees. They never spoke about anything substantial, he only knew the basics from Steve’s Scholarship application form and the other man kept to himself letting Bucky fill the silence. There was also the fact he was secretive about his work; often hiding it whenever Bucky came to the studio. Sure he could understand an artist not wanting him to see things until they were finished, but even Peter had let him sneak a peak at a few things.

Bucky bit his lip as he edged towards the studio doorway and spotted Steve bent over an easel with a palette rested on the fist of one hand while a paintbrush was in the other. He was chewing his already swollen bottom lip over and over; a sign he’d come to associate with concentration over the weeks they’d been speaking. Steve was dressed in an old pair of paint coated jeans with a fraying hole in one knee and a red handprint over the zipper and a white singlet covered in multitudes of different colours. Though the sight of his pale bare muscular arms combined with the tension from what he was doing had Bucky’s lips itching to kiss and mouth at the tendons of his neck while his fingertips slid his zipper down to caress his cock. It seemed to be the same every time he saw the man and was causing his self control to wane.

From where he was stood in the doorway though he still couldn’t see what it was that Steve was working on. He always seemed to position himself in such a way that he could hide it from prying eyes. No matter how Bucky moved or whenever he appeared in the room, he could never catch a glimpse and knew Steve wouldn’t let him see even if he dared to ask.

Bucky stayed in the doorway, watching Steve paint and on the odd occasion put more paint of a certain colour on to the palette, but soon he put the palette and brush aside to stretch his aching muscles. Which was definitely Bucky’s cue to make his presence known.

“Hey Steve, what are you still doing here so late?” Bucky asked, watching Steve turn the easel to the wall to dry before Bucky could catch a glimpse. Only then did he turn to look at him with a small smile.

“Erm, Bucky hey. Yeah, well I got back late from my Fine Arts Seminar so I thought I’d spend a bit longer here catching up. What about you? Usually you’re the first out the door with Natasha,” Steve asked, closing his sketchbook and shoving it into his bag which he put over his shoulder before grabbing his hoodie.

“I’ve been sexiled by my flatmate and Natasha for the night. I have a few hours to kill so thought I’d do the inventory for tomorrow. I was just about to go out for a couple of drinks after locking up if you wanted to come with?” Bucky asked, watching Steve grab his own set of keys for the studio and make his way towards the door; hesitating at the offer.

“Erm, I’d…I’d love to but I’ve got an early class. Rain check?” Steve asked, locking up the studio.

“Yeah, sure of course. I’ll see you around tomorrow then,” Bucky smiled watching Steve flash him a smile and take the side exit out the alley between the gallery and the deli next door.

Bucky gathered his things and resigned himself to a few drinks alone; with the added possibility of a night in a stranger’s bed to ease the arousal that had spiked at the sight of Steve.

XOX

Steve arrived at the gallery the next morning to no sign of Bucky yet; not that it was especially uncommon. Every so often Bucky would be a couple of hours late after going to a fellow dealer or speaking to a recently discovered Artist he’d seen online, but something didn’t feel right about it today. It seemed to be all the more accurate by what he heard Natasha talking to Darcy about him not coming home the night before.

“…I mean I did say me and Clint wouldn’t be done until midnight; but I didn’t expect him to take it as an invitation to get pissed and find someone. Especially with him and Steve,” Natasha said, flashing Darcy a knowing look as the redhead added some sugar to her Americano.

“Maybe he finally had enough after being around someone as hot as Steve and having to act professional. I mean maybe if they’d pull their heads out of their asses and just ask one or the other out,” Darcy shrugged, the rest of her sentence disappearing at the sight of Steve.

“No do go on, tell me about how everything would be fixed if I just acted like Peter did,” Steve said, ignoring the clenching in his heart at the thought of Bucky with someone else.

A faceless nameless figure that touched his body, abused his lips with his teeth and his cock; that fucked and was fucked by him so hard that they’d kept the neighbours awake. After he’d heard about Peter he’d been trying to distance himself from the man that was his muse and inspiration all into one, not wanting to be just another guy he fucked, which from the sound of it he did a lot.

“Whoa Steve, hey we didn’t realize you were there…and no-one’s saying that,” Darcy apologised, though the redhead merely raised an eyebrow at his tone like she knew what was really going on in his head.

“Yes you were, you think just because of whatever I feel for Bucky I should just ignore my morals and fuck him just like that. But it doesn’t work that way for me and I’m not about to become just another one of those guys he fucks or calls for a fuck when he feels like it. Now excuse me I need to get to the studio,” Steve said, not knowing why he was feeling so out of sorts to the point of jealousy let alone like he needed to explain himself.

He felt the two women’s gazes following his retreating back, throwing his bag aside and groaned once he was grabbing a new canvas and putting it on to a new easel from the pile in the corner. His fingers then began to sketch something he’d been dreaming of since he met Bucky but had been trying to deny.

Bucky leaning shirtless up against a wall, his jeans open at the zipper and his head tilted back against the wall with his lips parted as a silent but undoubtedly sinful groan was pulled from between them. Another figure, which was him in his dreams but was going to be more like a shadow in the piece, was kissing Bucky filthily as his hand rested over Bucky’s heart. He’d never been so inspired by arousal or want of someone before but knew it would easily become addictive as long as he was around Bucky.

He was just adding the details to Bucky’s torso, to his hands and jeans when he heard Bucky’s footsteps in the direction of the staffroom; probably hoping to grab his coffee before he was called to help Kate with the moving of Peter’s pieces into the truck. Yet it didn’t stop Steve from hearing what was said with both doors open.

“Wow, someone’s looking like they got a good fucking last night,” Natasha said, though there was tone of judgement in her voice that Steve knew was her way of letting him know she wasn’t happy about it.

“Yeah well I was exiled from my own apartment thanks to you and Clint. I had to find something to do,” Bucky’s voice was murmured as he took a sip of his coffee, letting out a sinful moan of appreciation.

“Well you definitely look like you found someone to do.” Darcy quipped, her heels clicking as she went to give Pepper her coffee when the other redhead appeared on the phone minutely disrupting Steve’s ability to eavesdrop. Though soon Darcy and Pepper were in Pepper’s office and it was easy again.

“….I mean did you really think he wouldn’t have heard all the office gossip about you and Peter? No wonder he turned you down last night,” Natasha sighed, the clunk of something being thrown in the bin spelling the end of her coffee.

“Oh come on Natasha, I thought Darcy would have been able to keep her mouth shut when she saw how much I like him. I guess not. And it’s not like I actually found someone last night, I just got wasted at Shield’s and Bobbi pulled me into her place to sleep it off on her couch. She agreed to let me shower when I got up but you know how far it is from there to here,” Bucky said, there was the sound of pleading in his voice like he wanted her to believe him.

“It’s not me you should be pleading with. From what I saw Steve obviously likes you a lot and him saying no was his way of saving himself from a bad situation. You need to tell him everything. This can’t go on any longer Bucky, one of you was bound to snap I’m just surprised it was Steve,” Natasha said, her heels clicking as she left the staffroom to go out front and check on Bruce.

It left Steve rubbing out the position of the other figure’s lips with Bucky’s on the canvas and moving it to his neck. It seemed to fit better, and he had a feeling this was going to be one of those pieces better off not painted or coloured in anyway. He just hoped that it wouldn’t be awkward when Bucky found out the truth.

The rest of the day Steve continued to draw, sometimes to paint and on the odd occasion use charcoal, each piece, leaving them to air and dry on various easels around the room. Bucky was busy helping Kate and Darcy was obviously trying to be good for once by putting her matchmaking on the backburner. Natasha and Bruce were so busy out front, that by lunch time as Steve was about to leave for his shift at The Gallery Cafe he wasn’t sure if he and Bucky would be speaking before the end of the day.

Instead of covering the pictures like he would have usually done or putting them facing the wall; he left them visible with the door unlocked for the first time since he started coming to the gallery. He left a note in case Bucky did come in, over the alluring picture of Bucky against the wall and grabbed his things before leaving. Hopefully Peggy and Sam could help him decide what to do when Bucky did finally speak to him.

He texted both his friends on the way, and tried not to fixate too much on what he’d heard Natasha say. About Bucky liking him which part of him had in the least suspected and how he’d been putting it off too long from telling him. But he did have to admit he was relieved that Bucky hadn’t been with someone the night before or at least he hoped that was true. Maybe if things did happen with him and Bucky he wouldn’t feel so on edge all the time.

XOX

Bucky spent the rest of the day trying to mull over what he was going to say to Steve while helping Hunter and Kate move Peter’s exhibit into the truck. His muscles ached from Bobbi and Hunter’s bad couch, made worse by the manual labour; but he had to admit in a way he’d been surprised that he hadn’t succumbed to his old bad habit. He’d been flirted with a few times at Shield’s while getting steadily drunker; a beautiful Asian woman with a gorgeous smile, a man with a wicked smile and the body of a model and a guy who could have easily taken him but none of them had felt right. Not as right as the sight of Steve covered in paint did.

By the time the truck was packed, it was lunchtime and Bucky was hoping this was the chance he’d been waiting for. He made his way to the studio but found no signs of Steve, just the multiple easels holding multiple pieces proudly causing Bucky to stop in the doorway as he took them all in.

Each of them was of him, in some position, with some expression from a close up portrait to full length. Some of them coloured, like one of Bucky smiling brightly from behind a coffee cup or the one of him laughing in a crowd of faceless unimportant figures and some of them were just plain sketches like the one of him leaning against the wall looking thoroughly debauched and amazing. There was also one of him in charcoal, laid on his back with a close up of his torso and face. Every single piece was amazingly detailed and the fact that he had been the subject of all that work left him speechless.

He spotted a note resting against the one of him against the wall and made his way closer towards it to pick it up. It was only on a scrap of paper with a few simple words:

‘To Bucky, my muse and my inspiration. P.T.O’

He turned it over to see the address of a café and a time, and bit his lip as he reluctantly made himself leave the pictures. He did make sure to close the door behind him since he had a feeling these were only for his eyes to make a point. He made up an excuse to leave to Natasha; his mind still racing though she didn’t seem the least bit surprised and just told him to do the coffee run on the way back.

He made it toward The Gallery café, and stopped to see Steve behind the counter making coffees with a dimmer version of that smile he would always send Bucky when he was around. He looked like he was anything but the amazingly talented artist that Bucky knew him to be and it was kind of saddening that he still had to work such a job to pay for things the scholarship didn’t cover. Still he pushed the note into his pocket and joined the short queue, watching Steve every so often move to chat to two people sat at the counter near the coffee machine.

“You’re sure it was a good idea showing him those pictures? I mean I know if a guy had been drawing pictures of me for months that I wouldn’t take it too well,” Bucky heard the male of the pair say when he was closer down the queue.

“Psssh, you’re just jealous that Riley doesn’t know how to draw a straight line without a protractor Sam. I’m sure he’ll love them Steve,” The woman said, offering Steve a smile and moving her gaze else where. Though she seemed to freeze when her gaze rested on Bucky like Steve’s work had been so good she recognised him immediately.

“But what then? I mean so he didn’t sleep with someone last night? What’s to stop him doing that again? You know how much I wear my emotions on my sleeve,” Steve murmured, as he finished off a latte and passed it to the right customer.

“Er Steve, you have a visitor,” the woman said, interrupting Steve’s train of thought and causing him to frown as he looked at the counter and froze at the sight of Bucky stood there with a smile on his lips.

“I got your note. Hope you don’t mind,” Bucky said softly, causing Steve to swallow and bite his lip as he flushed bright red. He took a glance at the woman who had dragged her male companion away to a table to give them some privacy.

“No, not at all. Jemma, I’m taking my break, I shouldn’t be long though so I can still take over for Skye and Claire when they leave,” Steve said, causing the girl at the till to look between them with a smile and practically push Steve from behind the counter.

“We’ll have your macchiato waiting for you when you’re done Steve,” Jemma beamed, leaving Steve to smile and lead Bucky to a table in the more private corner of the café.

“So, you saw my work then,” Steve said, once they were sat down and Bucky was fidgeting with Steve’s note.

“Yeah I did, and I absolutely love every bit of it Steve. Pepper and Natasha weren’t exaggerating in the least about your passion and talent,” Bucky beamed, moving to rest his free hand on Steve’s only for the other man to pull his hand out of the way.

“Glad to know you like it. It’s been…a real burden to look at you every day and not be able to make myself draw anything else. To fixate on every little thing and hope to God that I wasn’t being so obvious. Every time I look at you I get inspired to draw, to create something and it’s getting harder to repress,” Steve sighed, chewing at his lower lip.

“I don’t understand why you’d want to repress something like that. I mean like I say, they are amazing, you are amazing Steve,” Bucky said, with a frown that caused Steve to look at the note in Bucky’s hand.

“You don’t get it. Every picture is becoming more and more…fixated on what I want to do or how I want to see you now. How I want to see you as a lover instead of just some guy who inspires me by just being around. I know that we may want that to some degree but I don’t want to be just another Peter,” Steve said, causing Bucky to groan in the back of his throat.

“Steve, you are not just anything. You would never be another Peter or whoever else I may have dated because you are unique. You are flawless; like you were just made for me. I’ve been trying to repress it for too long and I don’t think I can do that anymore. I just want you, that’s all,” Bucky said soothingly, brushing his hand against Steve’s cheek and watching him flush and swallow.

“You want to cash in on that drink I passed?” Steve asked hoarsely, watching Bucky’s blinding smile shine through; the smile that had drawn him to the man in the first place.

“Oh definitely. I’ll meet you at the gallery and we’ll take it from there,” Bucky whispered, watching Steve bite his lip and nod. “But for now I need to order the coffee run for the gallery, it was the only way Natasha would let me leave.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Steve smiled, pecking a kiss to Bucky’s cheek as he led the way back to the counter.

XOX

It didn’t take long for Bucky and Steve to get serious; though not as fast as Steve had feared and despite how he thought the gallery staff would react it had been met with little controversy but more a sense of finality. Steve still spent more time than he should at the gallery to be around Bucky; still on the odd occasion getting inspired by his boyfriend’s body but he had been able to move on to landscapes and the kind of thing which had been in his portfolio in the first place. Still there was one piece he still hadn’t managed to complete for his collection of Bucky; one of him completely nude.

It wasn’t something he had realised would be so hard, though every other time he’d tried they weren’t together. But now that they were, he was worried about what the implication of being around a naked Bucky might mean. After all he was still a virgin, and still didn’t want to rush things which Bucky completely understood.

But after a night of furious making out Bucky seemed to decide to ease the pressure for him and began to undress himself, still kissing and groping Steve’s dressed form to reassure him. The feeling of Steve’s calloused hands brushing against the skin of his chest was ten times more intense than he’d imagined, sucking and biting Steve’s lips to the brightest red possible made pride flow through him. Leaving hickeys and bites on Steve’s neck filled him with possessiveness he’d never felt before which got better every time Steve begged him for another one.

Soon Bucky was laid naked on his bed with Steve straddling him fully clothed; worshipping his body with his lips, that were so painful by how the odd moan of pain would come from between them, as Bucky’s hands slid under Steve’s shirt and caressed his sides.

“Buck I’m still not ready,” Steve groaned, when Bucky’s fingernails clawed at the skin of his side causing Steve’s hips to jerk longingly.

“I know…I know…but I thought you should get that naked picture done. Or at least a sketch of it. Besides you know how I love to pose for you,” Bucky whispered against his lips causing Steve to moan as he kissed Bucky deeply before reluctantly getting off his boyfriend to grab his pad.

It was true that Bucky had come to love posing for Steve, sometimes he got bored staying in one place and Steve would compensate by taking a picture but in the position Bucky was in so he would easily be able to handle it. He’d even willingly moved into some positions Steve had already done to double check that they were realistic enough, though Bucky never doubted that they were.

He felt Steve’s hand brush against his shin and turned his head to see him sat in a chair by the bed; looking debauched as hell and absolutely perfect at the same time. His sketchbook was rested on one of his theory books for Pratt’s and he had one pencil in his hand and another in the binding in case he needed it. Bucky smiled wistfully as he heard the scratching of pencil against paper and couldn’t stop his eyes from closing as he drifted into the perfect kind of peace, with his talented boyfriend happily doing what he loved beside him.

Fin.