thank you so much for your kind words, babe! i'm happy i was able to make you happy with it 🥺
pairing: rockstar!bucky barnes x journalist!reader
summary: after a fight between steve and bucky breaks out during rehearsal, bucky walks out on the band and you follow him. while you're taking a walk through the streets of topeka, a group of fans recognizes him and invites the two of you to a house party.
word count: 2.7k
warnings: language, drinking, fluff (wow, finally!), angst, chaotic bucky, overwhelmed reader, a lot of feelings for just one night
author's note in the end!
“What’s up with you and Bucky?”
You were scribbling a piece of landscape on the corner of your notebook when you heard Scarlet’s slightly accented voice address you from her seat next to you. She had been quiet through the whole trip, knitting a blood red scarf with her delicate hands - you had no idea how she could concentrate like that inside a moving bus filled with men that behaved more like sugar high toddlers around her. Scarlet’s calm and inherent insight were some kind of magic.
“Um… Nothing, I think. Bucky is Bucky, you know. You know him.”
Your friend watches you splutter through her pink, heart-shaped glasses. Under her scrutinizing green eyes, you feel small, as if you were a child lying to their parents. Sighing, you put your worn out pencil down, and thought of what could say to avoid her question - only because you didn’t know what to say.
There wasn’t anything “up” with you and Bucky other than your initial, mutual dislike of each other, and the consequent animosity that followed. It wasn’t because you’d decided upon a truce and that you were on speaking terms now didn’t mean there was something up.
In your eyes, at least.
You started simple, throwing a question back at her. “Why do you ask?”
“You two seemed pretty cozy without the rest of us that night at the pool.” She’d stopped working with hands, letting her needles fall onto her lap. Her words had a hint of teasing, though her face remained serious. “And backstage in Arizona. It looked a little too up close and personal for two people who barely talked to each other not too long ago.”
“Fair.” You pointed. “He’s the one who came to me at the pool, I was just minding my own business. He was weirdly chatty that night. And yesterday… Bucky was concerned about something he told me and he didn’t want me to write about, so asked me not to, that’s all.”
“Are you going to?”
“Going to what?”
“Write what he asked you not to.” Scarlet threw back, chuckling, knowing you were averting the subject. It wasn’t pressuring, she was just teasing you - but something inside you stirred, agitated with the question.
Shrugging, you avoided her gaze. “I don’t know. I don’t think so…”
“So now you’re keeping his secrets?”
“I don’t keep anyone’s secrets. Just my own.”
That went out a little too fast, and a little too defensive. Though you were telling the truth about not keeping secrets - your place there wasn’t to hide anything, but expose it - you admit you were being too lenient with Bucky - someone who, as Scarlet had just said, you barely spoke with only a few days ago. You didn’t know if you could explain that, so you didn’t.
“Yeah.” She nodded slowly, looking away from you, smiling and picking up her knitting tools where she’d left them. “I can see that.”
Moving to shoulder her lightly, so as not to disturb her knitting, you let out a nervous laugh. “Stop!”
There was more to those three words than what was on the surface. You tried not to think about them as you stared at the blurred images running through your stained window for the rest of that morning.
Soundcheck, incredible as it may seem, was the most peaceful part of your days - usually, that was, until things changed in Topeka.
Topeka, Kansas, was a small town, and your second-to-last stop on The Howling Commandos’ national tour - their concert venue was also small, and during the band's rehearsal, you sat backstage alongside Peter, who was helping you sort through your notes and interviews - which were almost finished, with the exception of one dark-haired, bad tempered guitarist.
It was all you needed to wrap things up and go home, but Bucky seemed to be avoiding you anywhere you went since the incident in Santa Fe, and his little game of push and pull was getting on your nerves.
Not that Bucky didn't get on your nerves on a daily basis.
The brash and sudden sound of feedback echoed through the room, as fast as lightning, and you watched, stunned, as instruments were dropped and Steve raised his voice, settling his microphone back in the stand.
"Seriously? Do you really need to show off during fucking rehearsal?"
Steve wasn't one to raise his voice - his presence was commanding, as frontman that was practically his job, but he was also collected, the band's guiding hand, a steady force. Things were tense between him and Bucky, however, but you hadn't seen it explode until then.
"And by showing off," Bucky emphasizes with air quotations, sarcasm dripping in his every word, "you mean playing the song the right way?"
"That's not what I mean and you know it, Bucky."
As much as you, sadistically, liked seeing Bucky being told off, it hurt to see them fighting. There was no Steve without Bucky, and no Bucky without Steve - like Mick and Keith, Page and Plant - you couldn't conceive of them apart.
"You know what? No. I don't, Steve."
"We talked about this! You can’t just run off a song anyway you want, if you want to change something, you tell us. This isn’t your band, Bucky."
"Maybe I need to hear it again. Maybe I refused to listen the first time you tried to tell me how to play my own music."
Exasperated, Steve sighed, planting his feet in place in a defiant manner. His sky blue eyes turned to you, then. “I’m not saying anything in front of the goddamn writer.”
Before you even had the time to feel offended, Bucky interjected. “No, please. Anything you have to say, you can say in front of her.”
At the sight of Bucky’s open arms, not backing down from Steve’s stubborn threat, Scott stood from his place at the corner and intervened, putting himself in between the frontman and the guitarist, calling them out. “C’mon, break it up, let’s take five. Everyone out of the room for five minutes!”
Suddenly, your mismatched papers and post-it notes scattered over the amp you were sitting on got immensely more interesting. Your chin dropped as you kept your head low, trying to make yourself smaller and out of everyone’s gaze - you knew your presence was, at times, unwanted - but it was in times like this that you felt you were overstaying your welcome.
You liked the illusion of belonging, a little too much even. It was easy, pretending you were accepted, the reality of being an outsider was a lot harsher.
After gathering everything into your notebook, you noticed the room was empty - except for you, and a pacing Bucky.
It was an eerie atmosphere. The yellowing white paint chipping on the walls, the empty seat on Clint’s drum kit, the hushed voices on the corridor outside - you held onto the notebook, pressing it to your chest as some sort of shield, and braced yourself to make your way out.
“You!” A voice calling out startled you. Turning, you found Bucky, in clear distress, pointing at you, in the middle of the room. Likely sensing your confusion, he repeated himself. “Yeah, you. C’mon, let’s go.”
You stopped in your tracks, fazed. Bucky didn’t seem to care, grabbing his trusted, brown leather jacket from where it hung on the back of a chair and putting it on in a haste. Sudden movements and manic behavior weren’t usual for the smooth, quiet man you knew, until now. “Go… where?”
“Anywhere. Everywhere.” He sighed, running a hand over his wild hair. “Anywhere that’s not here.”
Contradicting your own best judgment you followed Bucky’s steps to the double doors - and when he sensed your uncertainty, he grabbed your hand, keeping it in a firm hold as the two of you made your through the small group gathered just outside of the entrance, guiding you away from the venue and into the street.
The strange comfort of Bucky’s calloused hand in yours was short lived - and if your skin still tingled after you let go, feeling all too empty at once, you did your best to ignore it.
Uncomfortable silence wasn’t uncommon between you and Bucky - and it’s not that you were shy to start a conversation, but you often didn’t know how to act around him. His volatile attitude and the fact that you didn’t know where you stood with him didn’t help. Still, seeing a tormented Bucky sit down at the curb, blank stare directed at the parked car on the other side of the street, your compassion spoke louder than your uncertainty.
When you joined him, sitting side by side, the fabric of his battered jeans touching the bare skin of your thigh - which made you wish you’d worn something a little longer that day - he looked at you, an unreadable expression on his face.
“I’m sorry about… whatever happened between you and Steve.” You started, offering him a kind smile. “It mustn’t be easy.”
“Don’t be sorry.” Bucky shook his head. “That’s showbiz for you, it’s all a fucking joke. Right now, I just wanna focus on what’s real. Real feelings, real people.” You had a feeling Bucky was more talking to himself more than anything, until he turned to you again. "You know, you know all about us and I don't know shit about you…" He questioned. "Tell me, what's your family like?"
"It's always been me, my mom and my sister. But, a few years ago, my sister felt that my mother’s overbearing ways were too intense, so she left for San Francisco with her boyfriend, Darryl, and became a stewardess. Plus, she left me all her albums, and she and mom won’t talk to each other.” You laughed at yourself, reminiscing. “I left for college, too, and now I only see her on holidays. I wonder if she’s lonely, but I don’t really miss home.”
Taking a deep breath after confessing it all, you laughed, again, this time in relief. "It's good to talk about that. Really good. But here I am telling secrets to the one guy you don't tell your secrets to."
“Don’t you dare use my words against me!” He teased, shouldering you lightly, lingering a little at your side, causing you to snort.
“Oh, please. That’s what I do best.”
“What am I going to do with you?” He mumbled, rolling his eyes.
As the mood lightened between you and Bucky, you watched a white van approach from your peripheral. The vehicle slowed down as it passed in front of you, and you could see a dark skinned girl behind the wheel, her long hair tied with a bandana, and, unexpectedly, she waved at you.
"Hey! You're Bucky, from The Howling Commandos!"
Smooth and used to the attention, Bucky stood up, a charming smile on his face. You stood along with him, feeling awkward, as if you weren’t supposed to be there. "Yeah, on my better days I'm Bucky, from the Howling Commandos." Bucky chuckles, and places a hand at the small of your back, pushing you a little forward. "And this is my journalist friend, Y/N Y/L/N."
"You wanna go to a party at my friend Thor's house? I know you're a big rockstar and all but you wanna hang with some good people tryna have a good time?" The other kids in the van cheered, calling Bucky to join.
“I, uh- I’m not sure if we should…”
“We’ll be there.”
You and Bucky spoke at the same time, and as you saw him nodding profusely in your direction, you knew you were up for a long night.
Watching Bucky Barnes, rising rockstar and virtuous guitarist, charm a bunch of college kids from Kansas, was something to behold.
It turned out, Thor was the girl’s boyfriend - Hilde, as she presented herself - and he had his parent’s house free for the weekend, which was why there was a huge party happening. There were trucks parked in the front yard, beer kegs spread through the yard, their backyard pool surrounded by people, and the inside of the house not doing that much better. Thunderous rock music bounced from the speakers placed in his parents’ living room. Following Bucky around all night, playing babysitter to a 30-something guitarist, wasn’t how you liked partying, but then, to be fair, you weren’t there to party.
Bucky, on the other hand, was having the time of his life. He smiled freely, telling his road stories to the curious boys and girls who would listen, crowding around him as any fan would - their eyes sparkled, not believing what they were seeing. You found it adorable - not the dazzled kids your age, but Bucky. Carefree and weightless, a beer in hand, dancing with a bunch of kids who didn’t want anything other than having fun with him.
That was the Bucky you wanted to have around, but you watched from the sidelines, knowing he wasn’t the one you could have.
You found him alone, later in the evening. Standing by the pool, blue eyes reflecting the swirling light. He’d shed off the jacket, flushed from the heat in his white henley. It was the most vulnerable you’d ever seen him - and not only because he was clearly drunk - smiling to himself, swinging the beer in his white plastic cup. As if he was just a guy you’d meet at a regular party - but Bucky Barnes wasn’t just any guy.
“Don’t you think we should… go back to the others? They must be worried about you.” You suggested, stepping in front of him. Speaking quietly, you tilted your head to look into his downward eyes.
“No. They can deal without me.” He stood his ground, downing the rest of the beer in his cup. “You can leave if you want to, I’ll be back when I feel like it.”
“No! No, I’ll… I’ll stay with you. I don’t think anyone wants me near right now.”
Bucky smiled, all teeth and danger. “Oh. See, I knew you liked me.”
“Hiding together at some college kids’ party doesn’t mean I like you.” Flustered, you crossed your arms as you argued.
“Yeah. That’s what you tell yourself, princess.”
A groan escaped your lips before you could suppress it. “I liked it better when you…”
“Wanna get in the pool?”
Bucky’s interruption had you taking a step back. You stared at him as if he’d grown a second head. “The pool? Bucky, we’re not even…”
“C’mon.” He stepped to meet you, suspiciously slow. “Don’t you ever have a little fun?”
“I have plenty of fun, thank you. And stop interrupting me!”
With each step forward from Bucky, you took a step back, avoiding the touch of his body, until you couldn’t, just one slip away from the water, and he placed both hands on each side of your waist. “C’mon... It’s just water, or are you afraid of getting a little wet?”
Just like that - in the middle of your weak protest, holding onto his bicep for dear life - Bucky managed to lift you up, just enough to jump, and in a very long, slow motion, second, you were falling in the water, holding onto Bucky, his arms still around your waist, and not letting go.
You spluttered as you resurfaced, trashing against him, soaked through and chest deep in dirty, pool water. Bucky laughed freely, steadying you. “Tell me you didn’t like that!”
“I can’t believe you!”
“Believe me, sweetheart.” His softened tone and close eye contact had you stopping in your tracks. He was too close, closer than you’d ever let him. The smirk on his pink lips draws your attention, and he must’ve had noticed it, because the next thing you felt were those same lips, closing into your open ones, in a light and, but the furthest from innocent, kiss. “The night has just started.”
You gasped in stunned silence, as you heard the noises of all the other people around the pool deciding it was as good a time as any to jump in as well, splashing and screaming all around you - but all you could see was him.
a/n: i'm gonna be honest here and say that i'm not sure about how this chapter turned out... but i really wanted to give you guys an update and i missed this story, so here we are! as always, reblogs and feedback are very welcome - i really want to know what you thought of this one.
sorry for the cliffhanger! i'll see you when i see you <3
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