AU!College Roommates. As your best friend, Bucky was determined to look out for you and if that meant offering you a place to stay indefinitely, so be it.
Pairing: Tol!Bucky Barnes x Smol!Reader Warnings: Some profanity. Also. We’re all fucked. Author’s Note: gUYS PREPARE TO GET WRECKED. But not with this chapter.
It was just a routine walk home with Bucky when you admitted you’ve been struggling to pay your rent since your former employer shut down his sandwich shop a few weeks ago.
He had blanched and immediately prepared a mental list of questions and options to explore, but your enthusiastic grin made the words die in his throat.
How could you look so damned innocent and sweet with just one smile?
“I found a nightclub to work at, and they even offered to hire me right then and there at the bar! I won’t have to worry anymore!” you cheered, happily placing your soft hands over your heart. “Isn’t that exciting?”
Bucky’s eyebrow twitched, and his jaw clicked at the thought of you serving drunken idiots with nothing but a counter to protect you. His languid stride came to a halt and he turned to gaze at you.
What were you thinking?
You were the most troublesome, innocent, caring, attractive woman he knew and you wanted to work at a nightclub bar? Where men would definitely try and do anything to attain your attention?
No. Hell no. Over his dead fucking body.
You slowed to stand beside your best friend.
The dark, rare sardonic look he bestowed on you made you flinch, and your grin slipped as you tilted your chin down and looked away.
“…is t-there something wrong?” you whispered quietly, fiddling with the frayed end of your navy blue shirt. There must be, because you rarely ever inspired the look he was drilling into the side of your face in that very tense moment.
“Yes,” he muttered grumpily. “There is something very wrong with you possibly working at a bar, in a nightclub.”
“I also got a job offer at a pub,” you commented, finally meeting his frustrated expression with your own confused one. Maybe a pub would be a better choice?
“That’s almost the same thing,” he bit out through gritted teeth. “And they’re not places you belong.”
You frowned and your brows knitted together. “But it’s not the same…and what do you mean…?”
Gah! See? No self-preservation whatsoever, you couldn’t even piece together why he was so concerned in the first place.
He groaned, and rubbed the back of his ear in agitation. “Look, can’t you find somewhere else? A department store? A vintage shop, anything but a bar?”
You flushed, and Bucky had to will himself to keep breathing amidst the beauty of it.
You were going to kill him. You were absolutely going to be the death of him and he didn’t even think he’d mind as long as it was caused by that very look.
“I could work at a strip club,” you murmured thoughtfully.
Bucky sobered, and he almost choked on his spit. You weren’t joking.
You giggled, and sheepishly scratched the back of your wrist. “I mean…not like that, I could be a janitor or something.”
The sour way he pursed his lips and scrunched his nose hinted that you shouldn’t elaborate any further or even consider it as an option.
Your embarrassed blush extended to your chest and he patiently waited for you to spill whatever naive thought you were entertaining in your mind.
“…I can’t find any of other place, they’re either not hiring…or I’m not good enough…” you mumbled.
If he wasn’t annoyed before, he certainly was now. The anger burning through his veins was absolutely maddening and he hated that the heavy feeling was directed toward you.
“You’re the best person I know,” he declared, grabbing your hand. Your eyes widened, startled by the sudden movement and the conviction behind his words.
“They’re the ones who aren’t good enough, and they don’t deserve you.”
“I..I…” damn you were stuttering again. Leave it to Bucky to just go and throw out compliments in such a matter of fact manner. “T-thank you…”
“I’m your best friend, and best friends look out for each other’s best interests, and I don’t think you working at any these places would be good for either of us - don’t look at me like that - it would suck for me too because I’d have to be there glaring at men and chasing them away with sticks.”
You laughed, imagining your grumpy best friend waving around a giant stick and loudly threatening anyone that dared look at you pervertedly.
“That’s not very nice, Bucky,” you chided, glancing down at your joined hands.
Then your eyes narrowed and you shrugged daintily, appearing genuinely perplexed. “I don’t think anyone would really stare at me, I’m not that pretty.”
“Are you kidding?” he asked incredulously. “You’re stunning.”
There he goes spewing that nonsense again. You lifted your free hand to harshly jab your index finger on his chin, and wrinkled your nose in displeasure.
“Stop saying stuff like that.”
Despite the painful poke, he sighed wistfully. You were just too cute sometimes, even when you’re exasperated. “I only speak the truth.”
Your cheeks warmed all over again, and you dug your finger harder into his flesh. He grunted and swatted your hand away. “Please don’t choose any these places, it would break my heart.”
He rubbed your knuckles with his thumbs, and when you didn’t immediately respond he glanced down to see you on the verge of tears, head bowed in shame.
You didn’t want to hurt him, and nothing upset you more than the idea of doing so.
Shocked, he blinked a few times, before registering that there were indeed tears rolling down your cheeks. “N-no don’t cry!” he floundered for a moment before pulling you toward him.
Within moments his body became a protective shield hiding you away from curious bystanders as you clutched his cotton shirt and softly cried into his chest.
“I won’t be able to pay my rent if I don’t take any of these offers,” you wailed, feeling conflicted. “Everyone lives with their parents or they don’t have space, I don’t have anywhere to go!”
Your words were muffled, but he understood them anyway and he scowled as he looked out into the distance.
With tuition, rent, and no other financial support coming in other than what you produced yourself he could see why you were so desperate. A lot of people were in your predicament…but…you were his best friend and you didn’t deserve this, or being limited to working at questionable establishments.
He wished you said something sooner, rather than plastering a serene smile on your face everyday. He would have never known the extent of your struggle had you not been ecstatic enough to tell him about the nightclub.
He sighed, and stroked your hair gently a few times, before tracing soothing patterns on your back. He let you sob until the noise was nothing more than periodic hiccups, and then he gently pried you off and held you at arms length.
“You can stay with me for however long you need to, don’t worry about money, rent, food or whatever else.”
Your eyes watered again and you shook your head firmly. “I can’t just..I can’t accept all that!”
Bucky frowned. Why the hell not? “It’s just me, you can have my room, we’ll make it work.”
You looked uncertain, and downright scandalized.
He didn’t want to have to pull the friendship card, but you were being so selflessly stubborn. “You’d do the same for me.”
Your eyes widened, mouth parting in shock, because he’s right. You grudgingly realize what he’s getting at and that he was giving you a way out…but still.
You’re going to protest, and he tiredly closed his eyes.
“Trust me…I’d rather have you staying with me, than knowing you’re struggling to balance school and paying rent by working at a grungy club…pub…whatever, just please…”
The raw worry on his face and the coiled tension of his body made you feel guilty. You didn’t want to be a bother, but saying no would probably be even more upsetting for you both.
And maybe…just maybe this was a chance to finally catch up on your studies with financial worries?
It was a chance you sorely needed. You bit your lip and nibbled on it for an agonizing five minutes.
Finally you nodded. “O-okay,” you clasped one hand over your heart and wiped the edges of your eyes with your forearm. “I promise I’ll repay you somehow!”
He’d never let you, but you didn’t need to know that, it was hard enough convincing you to accept his help as it was.
He gave you a noncommittal smile, silently basking in the relief your answer brought him.
“We’ll worry about that some other time.” He glanced at the darkening sky. “Come on, we’ll get something to eat, and figure out the rest of the logistics.”
He held out his elbow for you like he always did, and your bottom lip trembled as you looped your arm through his. Bucky truly was the best.
You were lucky to have him, and as you both strolled across the street, you mumbled out a tiny, barely audible, ‘Thank you.’
GUYS ARE YOU FUCKING EXCITED BECAUSE I AM HOLY MOLY.