Keeping Up Appearances
Bucky x Reader
Fake Dating AU
Chapter 2 - All Other Chapters
Summary: When an old friend comes back into your life you struggle to maintain the lies you’ve told. Bucky Barnes has no idea what he’s gotten into by agreeing to be your fake boyfriend, but you have no idea what to do about the very real feelings you have for him.
Manhattan glimmered in what remained of the day’s light. You could see it as you crossed the Manhattan bridge in Bucky’s car. It’s like it was mocking you, presenting places you remembered vividly, like how you would remember a dream right after waking up. You had hoped the memories, like your dreams, would fade over time until the specifics were so fuzzy it wasn’t worth trying to recall, but here they were cutting through your mind like sharp scissors.
Most of your Manhattan memories included Pepper. Shopping, dining, living, dancing, roaming the streets at three in the morning just to see who was awake; that was who you used to be.
Bucky let out a low whistle as he passes La Bernardin looking for a place to park. You quickly look down at your dress. You hoped Pepper didn’t recognize it, having helped you pick it out on one of your many shopping trips. The black fabric was only slightly faded and you hoped the lighting of the restaurant would stave off any notice. You quickly swiped your eyes over Bucky again, hair brushed and styled, shirt unwrinkled, he didn’t shave but you liked the way the stubble framed his full lips.
You hadn’t noticed he had pulled into a parking garage not far from La Bernardin until he was unbuckling his seat belt. You checked the time displayed on the dash before the car was shut off: 5:52 pm. You released yourself from the seat belt and turned your body awkwardly towards the driver’s seat prompting Bucky to remain in the car despite the air rapidly becoming hot and stuffy.
“Whatever level they reach we have to match it, otherwise it won’t look real.”
He nodded, but the look in his eyes told you he did not really take in the significance of your words. He hadn’t met Pepper, he doesn’t know the way she thinks.
“I’m serious. If they are holding hands, we have to hold hands. If they feed off of each other’s plates we do too. If they kiss-”
“I get it! I get it!” Bucky says with a laugh, escaping the uncomfortable heat of the car. You followed him out and took the slight slope down to the garage entrance.
“I do want to draw a line right now. If he starts sucking on her toes I’m not doing that. Feet creep me out.”
You shoved him lightly for his joke but didn’t protest when he came back to you so that your shoulders brushed closer than before. You needed his jokes, you needed his casual attitude to anchor you down. Was this how you always used to be? So on edge and guarded, thinking every word and action thoroughly before execution; how had you survived this. You didn’t you thought bitterly, you only prolonged the inevitable.
She was seated at the table already, facing the door and giving you no time to compose yourself or stop Bucky’s oogling as he took in the decor. You should have told him to act like he had been here before.
She waved, her movements the perfect mixture of relaxed and controlled, the wave of royalty. You lifted your hand back and wiggled a few fingers, feeling like your hand was too big all of a sudden and you realized your nails were still short and unpolished. You brought your hand quickly to your side. She stood as you reached the table and drew you into a hug.
“How are you?” She gushed, he voice loud in your ear but soft in the hush of the restaurant, “I’ve missed you so much. Come on, sit.”
Bucky, who had stood a respectable distance back as you reunited, strode forward as you parted. He grabbed the back of his chair and pulled it out, sitting before you. Pepper raised an eyebrow, in the minute way she did when she found something interesting. You lowered yourself into your chair next to Bucky and across from Pepper.
“So, where is he? I thought we were introducing boyfriends today.” You tried to play it off as a joke, keeping your smile affixed to your face, but inside you were fuming. If her boyfriend didn’t show up then you and your ‘boyfriend’ would be the main show for the evening and the facade wouldn’t make it through the first course.
“He’s running a little late.” Was all she said.
The waiter came around with sparkling water and a wine menu which you studiously ignored, needing your wits about you. Bucky didn’t seem interested in the wine or the water, and his face was becoming more and more of a grimace as his eyes read each line of the menu.
“Babe,” you called, the word sounding odd in your ears as you looked at Bucky, “introduce yourself to Pepper.” You added a subtle hand to his knee under the table, hoping he would respond to the pet name but ready to squeeze if his attention did not redirect to your friend.
He looked up and smiled wide, first at you, then at Pepper, “Bucky Barnes.”
His hand reached out dangerously between the glasses to shake hers. You watched Pepper accept his hand with grace and quirk her eyebrow just so again. You wanted to bang your head against the table. You wish you had had more time to coach Bucky, he didn’t even know the basics!
Pepper opened her mouth, as if to ask Bucky a question, but her eyes moved from him to just behind you. Her face broke out into a wide smile, her shining eyes crinkling. She looked so happy it took you aback. You turned slightly and watched the object of her attention stroll toward your table, head high and confidence palpable. It felt like he owned the room and very well might have, because he was Tony Stark. The Tony Stark!
“Holy shit.” Bucky muttered in disbelief, you should have scolded him with a glare or a squeeze to his knee but you were just as shocked. Tony Stark rounded the table, kissing the top of Pepper’s head before settling himself into the last empty seat at the table.
There were no need for introductions, everyone knew Tony Stark and Tony Stark didn’t care to know anyone but Pepper. He flagged down a random waiter and ordered a bottle of wine so quickly you couldn’t even catch the name. He must come here a lot or expect wherever he goes to have exactly what he wants.
“Sorry, conference call ran over. Did you order yet?” He said to Pepper and only to Pepper. You must not even register on his radar. You started when you felt an arm encircle your upper back. You turned to look at Bucky, the first time your eyes had left your latest dining guest. His head tilted slightly to the couple across from you and you noticed Tony’s arm draped over the back of Pepper’s chair as they spoke quietly. You turned back to Bucky and smiled with a nod of approval.
You breathed deeply and settled into the crook of Bucky’s arm, half wanting to seem at ease and half finding yourself actually at ease, feeling warm and comfortable as you inhaled the scent of his deodorant. It wasn’t expensive or heavily perfumed, in fact you were sure Bucky used Old Spice bought in packs of two or four but the smell mixed appealingly with his own scent and you breathed in deep and greedy wondering if you would ever get to be this close to him again, wondering if next time it could be because he wanted to and not just for show.
Tony proceeded to order for everyone when the waiter came back with the wine. You smiled in thanks as a glass was poured for you but did not touch the expensive alcohol. You continued to smile so politely it made your jaw hurt. You weren’t a fan of the oysters Tony got for the table.
“So how did this happen?” Bucky asked when the waiter left, his free hand moving back and forth between Peoper and Tony. Your hand, which you just realized was still on his knee, was warm and sweaty. You moved it up and down in short strokes along his pants to dry it.
“We actually met at a friend’s wedding in Scotland.” Pepper began with a gush of happiness, your painful smile relaxed. You were happy to see her so happy.
“We both knew the groom-” Pepper continued while Tony was leant back against his chair, sipping wine. His eyes remained only on Pepper behind his purple tinted glasses. They looked happy. They looked like they were in love. You hoped you and Bucky looked the same.
“-After a few months of long distance I ended my trip early and came back home to be with him.” She finished, bringing her body back against her seat and looking into Tony’s eyes. They were lost to the outside world for a few moments and you felt Bucky shift uncomfortably next to you. They broke their connection when Pepper turned to face you again.
“Tell me how you met. You have been so secretive about this one in your letters.” Pepper said with a finger trained towards Bucky.
Your eyes widened and your breath hitched in your throat. You hadn’t thought of this, hadn’t come up with a cute story of how you two met. You were so screwed.
“We met when she moved in next door to me about two years ago.” Bucky began in your silence, “The day she moved in was very noisy. I could hear her all day though the wall of my bedroom. Around eleven I was in bed and I heard this loud banging that was rattling my wall. I got out of bed so pissed off and I stomped over to her door and banged just as loudly as she had been doing on my wall. She opened the door and all anger I felt melted away.” He looked over to you then as if you were the only two people in the room as he continued. “She just looked so adorable in her pajamas with her hair a mess. We got to talking and…here we are.”
Bucky was good. Very, very good. It wasnt the exact story. Yes, you had met the day you moved in and yes you had been hammering a few nails into the wall you didn’t know you shared with Bucky. But when Bucky came around banging on your front door late at night there was no beginnings to a love story. What you did could barely be considered talking it was more of a screaming match.
“Do you know what time it is?”
“Do you? Because you’re the one banging on my door at almost midnight.”
“You’re the one banging on my wall at almost midnight.”
The whole thing ended with you slamming the door in Bucky’s face. Since then you had calmed down, especially as your friendship with Sam blossomed and you ended up seeing Bucky more and more. You realized Bucky was looking at you in soft amusement that to the others probably looked very romantic. You couldn’t help leaning forward and kissing his cheek whispering a thank you in his ear before pulling back.
“Cute.” Tony’s tone was short and clipped, like he didn’t think the story was that cute.
Pepper was watching you with interest, absently rubbing her pointer finger with her other hand.
“Such thin walls…” she mused, and your spine straightened, ready to find an excuse for your cheap apartment. Before the conversation could continue the first course of dinner was served and the table went silent as they ate or, in the case of Bucky, poke at the small, strange portions of food.
Throughout dinner and with each glass of wine Tony loosened up into a more engaged character. He was charismatic and a pleasant storyteller and kept Pepper’s attention off of you and Bucky effectively blocking any opportunity to delve too deeply into your relationship. The whole table was laughing along with a story Tony was telling about his trip to Machu Picchu and the alpaca who decided Tony was his new mother when the check arrived.
You had been dreading this part more than anything else. The time to pay hundreds of dollars for a meal Bucky barely ate and you could barely stomach around your nerves. You fingered your credit card with anticipation of being handed that small black booklet containing your check.
“Thank you Bradly.” Tony said to the waiter as he handed him a platinum card without making eyes contact. Your shoulders sagged in relief as Bradly walked away from the table.
“Thank you.” You said, hoping not to sound to relieved as you put away your card.
Tony nodded once and waved you off draining the last of his wine.
“Any friend of my fiance is a friend of mine.” He slurred. Pepper smacked his shoulder harshly.
“Tony!” Pepper chided. Her brows were furrowed in anger but her smile battled to win the feelings fight. She turned to you with a wide smile and pulled a chain from under her collar. Hanging from the end was a stunning, gold band with a large, sparkling diamond practically blinding you and it swung from the chain.
“Well, the secret is out. We’re engaged!” She squealed with delight practically bouncing in her seat.
“I can’t match that doll.” Bucky whispered hurridly in your ear before you rose out of your chair to join Pepper in her excitement.
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