There was a slam from behind him as Bucky kicked the door shut with all the might his ten-year-old body could muster, and then the sounds of distant yelling from inside the room he’d just stormed from.
He didn’t care. The people his mom had taken him around to visit were assholes. He just felt bad for leaving Stevie in there to fend for himself- although to be honest, he was probably just having to be held back by Mrs Rogers as he made a desperate attempt to smash their kneecaps in.
Bucky growled at nothing, kicking a nearby rock as he marched through the unknown village. The place they were in was foreign to him; the rich side of town where Bucky rarely even heard about, let alone visited. Only reason he’d been dragged along in the first place was because of the new job his and Steve’s mom had both been offered, and their potential new bosses had wanted to meet for dinner to discuss ‘arrangements’, whatever that meant.
They probably didn’t want to discuss anything now- not after the way Bucky had reacted.
Which was great. Meant his mom had lost the job offer. Again.
And Bucky had tried, he really had- best behaviour and everything that his mom had asked him to- he knew that this was important to her. And Sarah. Probably more so to her; she and Stevie struggled to put food on the table as it was.
And he’d ruined everything.
Sniffing and adamantly refusing to cry, he kept marching, unsure of where he was going, but uncaring too. He just needed to… to find somewhere quiet.
He’d be in so much trouble when his momma got hold of him.
It was only a few minutes later when he came back to himself, realising that he’d somehow managed to wander into a field, filled with pretty flowers and lovely green grass. It was surrounded by trees perfect for climbing, and the sun shone on it in a way that made it all glow.
Not that Bucky cared. Right now, he just needed a place to sit and be grumpy.
Throwing himself forward, he fell to his ass with an angry little growl and tucked his knees up against his chest, staring moodily ahead of him. There were little flowers dotted around the grass, and he picked at them absently, ripping their petals off and then letting them flutter to the ground or float away in the light breeze.
“Hey! Don’t do that, what did the flowers ever do to you?”
Bucky jerked and turned around immediately, eyes wide and searching for the owner of the voice. He definitely hadn’t expected to be found in a place like this- not so soon anyway.
Ahead of him, there was a skinny little boy, his warm brown eyes as big as saucers as he stared down at Bucky and the angry look that was still etched on his face. The boy was dressed in clothes that probably cost more than the contents of Bucky’s entire room, but there was grass stains and muddy patches all over them. His curly hair was falling into his eyes a little, but he quickly brushed it out when he saw Bucky looking; probably out of habit.
“Those… those flowers are pretty. Don’t ruin them,” the boy said weakly, apparently losing his confidence as he saw Bucky’s grumpy look.
He probably did look quite scary- a boy already tall for his age, in the wrong part of town and picking apart flowers in this fancy field whilst wearing a look of absolute thunder on his face. No wonder the newcomer was looking a little shifty.
He made an effort to smooth out his face a little, but he doubted it did much. “Sorry,” he said gruffly, shrugging his shoulders, “I’ll find somewhere else, I didn’t know you were here-“
“No, I didn’t mean you had to leave,” the boy said hurriedly, taking a brave step forward, “I just heard you storming in, and wanted to see who you were. That’s all. And there’s better ways to make use of the flowers than to rip them up, you know.”
Bucky looked at him quizzically, and then his eyes drifted down to the little chain of colourful flowers the other boy was gripping in his hand. Apparently losing all confidence again when he caught Bucky staring, his eyes widened and he hid the offending object behind his back, taking a little step back once again. It was like he was dancing, he moved that much.
“They’re just flowers, it’s not a crime, boys can like flowers too you know, I don’t- don’t beat me up,” he stumbled, holding his chin high in defiance but failing to hide the panic in his eyes as he took another step back.
Bucky furrowed his brow in confusion. Why the hell would he think he was gonna get beat up? Bucky didn’t hurt anyone- not unless they started it first, anyway.
“I’m not gonna beat you up,” he declared, shaking his head, “and I know it’s okay for boys to like flowers. I was just angry, and I wanted to fiddle with somethin’. Sorry if I hurt them,” he said, biting his lip.
He didn’t want this boy to think he was mean. Even if he probably looked pretty mean right now- Bucky didn’t want him to be scared. He looked as if he was scared quite a lot, actually.
There was silence, as the boy ran another hand through his hair and bounced on the balls of his feet. He was keeping his eyes fixed on his floor, and Bucky was just about to get up and say he was leaving when the boy suddenly spoke up again.
“I come out to this field when I get upset, like you. But… uh, I use the flowers too. I just mess with them in different ways,” he said, like that was supposed to explain something.
Bucky looked at him in confusion, and after a few seconds the boy’s hand was slowly removed from behind his back, revealing the pretty chain of flowers again. “Have you ever made a daisy chain before?” he asked tentatively.
Bucky shook his head, wondering where the boy was heading.
“Okay. Do you want to learn?”
He was being looked at almost fiercely, and the boy’s knees were crouched a little, like he was preparing to run at a moment’s notice. It made Bucky frown again, because why the heck did this person seem so convinced Bucky was going to try and hurt him?
“Yeah. Okay. I’d… I’d like that,” Bucky answered, trying to smile a little, despite his foul mood.
The boy’s eyes widened, like that had not been the answer he was expecting. Bucky noted that he had very nice eyes. And hair. In fact, he was even prettier than Dorothy- the girl who sat in front of him at school. Everyone loved her- but she didn’t share a patch on the boy stood in front of him right now.
“I’m Tony,” he stated, finally stepping forward and holding out his hand.
“Bucky- nice to meet you.”
“Come with me,” Tony said, pulling on Bucky’s hand and leading them to the left, where the trees met field, “I know a place full of so many flowers you won’t even know what to do with them all.”
“So why were you angry?” Tony asked, his knee knocking against Bucky’s as he carefully wove a tiny little stem through the gap in another.
Bucky paused, face clouding over. He put his chain down carefully, in case he ripped it in his frustration. “Mine and Steve’s momma met their new bosses, and they’re really stupid.”
“What did they do?” Tony asked, “did they not know how to count to ten?”
“No, not that kinda stupid,” Bucky waved him off, “they were just mean. And wrong. There was an advert on the TV and it had two boys in it and they said that it was disgusting but it isn’t disgusting. I like boys. I know I’m not disgusting. An’ I told ‘em that much myself, ‘cuz I ain’t afraid of no dumb adults,” Bucky said defiantly, hands fisting against his legs as he thought back to their gross faces.
Tony was staring at him, and Bucky realised that maybe Tony thought he was disgusting, too, so he jumped to his feet angrily. “If you don’t like it either, you can take your flower crown and scram, ‘cuz you’re just stupid too-“
“No!” Tony raised his hands, eyes wide as he looked up at Bucky, “No, I don’t think it’s disgusting. I just think you’re… you’re really brave. I could never do that to adults. I tried to do it once, when my dad called me an idiot, but then he just hit me and so I didn’t do it again,” he said, looking at the floor again like he was… like he was embarrassed or something.
Bucky frowned again, confused. Why would his dad have hit him? Weren’t parents supposed to keep you safe from being hit, not be the ones to do it in the first place?
That being said, Bucky had noticed the angry red mark that was cutting through Tony’s cheek, and wondered if that was the reason he was in this field in the first place. And if it was his own dad that was doing that, it made everything even worse.
“I’ll beat him up if you want,” Bucky said, sitting down again so that his leg was pressed up against Tony’s. “Like I said- I’m not scared of no adults.”
Tony’s eyes were wide, and he was staring at Bucky like he was his guardian angel or something. Bucky liked Tony looking at him like that; it made him feel all fluttery inside. “You’d really do that? For me?”
“Yeah,” Bucky nodded his head adamantly, “definitely.”
Tony smiled, but then shook his head and sighed. “No. Dad’s strong, and even if you’re strong too, he’s big. I don’t want him to hurt you too. That’s why I come out here. I like flowers. They’re pretty. And dad can’t yell at me when I’m here.”
There was a short pause, and then Tony’s eyes widened as he turned to face Bucky. “You can’t tell anyone you saw me here, okay? If dad finds out I like flowers he’ll call me stuff and hit me and stop me coming, and I really like it here, so you can’t, okay, you can’t-“
“I ain’t telling your dad shit,” Bucky told him, liking how the curse word sounded on his tongue. He wasn’t sure what it meant, but he’d heard someone yell it on the street, and thought it would be a good thing to use here. “I like flowers too. And you. I wouldn’t tell him anything that might hurt either of ‘em.”
Tony relaxed a little, and nodded gratefully. “Thank you. And by the way, I definitely don’t think it’s disgusting. I like boys too- more than I like girls. But I just don’t tell anyone because I don’t want people at school or home to beat me up more,” he admitted, worrying at his lower lip and avoiding Bucky’s eyes again.
“But… why are you telling me then?” He asked.
Tony looked at him, and then shrugged, his cheeks beginning to turn pink.
“’Cause you’re my friend. Right? And friends can tell each other secrets.”
Bucky thought about every secret of Steve’s he had kept, and then nodded his head. “Definitely.”
“Good,“ Tony broke off, finally finished with the little chain of daises he’d been making through the conversation. He raised it up and smiled at his work, before shuffling forward a little and carefully placing it around Bucky’s neck. “It suits you,” he said quietly, and Bucky thought the blush that was spreading through his cheeks again was very pretty.
Bucky nodded looking down at the chain around his neck and smiling. “You can wear mine when I’ve finished- it won’t be as good though, ‘cuz you’ve been doing it longer and I’m still learning-“
“I think it’s great anyway,” Tony assured him, picking up the half-finished masterpiece, which was a little uneven and splayed. But Tony was practically beaming at it, and it made Bucky feel lovely and special.
“BUCK! BUCKY! YOU HERE?” A loud voice interrupted, and both of them jerked, Tony’s eyes flashing with panic as he dropped the chain and turned. Bucky made note that he didn’t like loud voices.
Quickly grabbing his hand, he caught Tony’s attention. “Hey- don’t worry, that’s just my friend. He’s called Steve, and I’ve been gone a while, so everyone’s probably worried. And mad. But not at you,” Bucky explained hurriedly. “Do you wanna go, or do you wanna meet him?”
Tony paused, before looking across at the boy who was even tinier than him, shock of blonde hair falling over his face as he stumbled through the long grass and searched for his friend. “I’ll stay.”
“Good, because he’s great- you’ll love him,” Bucky grinned, before pulling them both up and waving. “STEVIE!”
Steve turned, eyes locking on to both of them immediately. He frowned a little at the sight of Tony, but it was gone in a second and replaced with a friendly smile. “WE’VE BEEN LOOKING ALL OVER FOR YOU, IDIOT,” he yelled across the field, beginning to jog across until he had caught up with them. “Your mom’s gonna give you an earful when you get back, you know?”
Bucky grimaced. “Yeah, I know I was stupid- I ruined their jobs-“
“No no, they don’t care about that. The people were assholes, they turned down the offer as soon as you slammed out of the door,” Steve explained, “your mom’s mad because you just wandered off for two and a half hours in a place you don’t know. Idiot.”
“I had Tony,” Bucky said defensively, “we made flower crowns. And now we’re friends and he’s gonna hang out with us, okay? He needs to teach you how to make flower chains- he’s awesome at them,” Bucky explained, squeezing Tony’s hand and smiling, gesturing proudly to the chain around his head.
Steve stared at it for a few seconds, and Tony was all jittery again, but then Steve just smiled in wonder and stepped forward, examining the work around Bucky’s neck. “That’s so cool! Can you make me one?” He asked, eyes wide.
Tony practically beamed, and nodded his head happily.
“But I get to make Tony’s,” Bucky added quickly, shooting Steve a look.
“Why can’t I make one for him too?” Steve asked, frowning.
“’Cuz I’ve known him longer and I asked first,” Bucky replied.
Tony giggled a little, and Bucky’s stomach went all fluttery again. “You can… if you want, you can both make me one?”
Steve opened his mouth to reply, but upon seeing the desperate looks Bucky was throwing his way, he slowly shut it again, comprehension dawning on his face. “Oh. I didn’t realise… uh, you know what, Tony, I think I’ll leave it to Bucky. He’s better at them than me, and he did ask first.”
Tony just shrugged, and then smiled at Bucky again. They were still holding hands. “Okay.”
“Uh, Buck- I hate to break this up, but if I don’t come back with you soon, I think your mom’s gonna call for a search party,” Steve said sheepishly, interrupting their moment and rubbing the back of his neck awkwardly.
Bucky sighed grumpily, but nodded his head. “Yeah yeah, whatever. Tony, do… do you want to come ‘round to my house sometime? Steve will probably be there, and there’s a nice meadow behind our garden. You can teach us how to make even cooler chains than before, and… and I’ll be able to make you one all on my own?” Bucky asked it like a question, and looked stubbornly at his shuffling feet as Tony’s hand squeezed around his own.
“I’d like that, yeah,” Tony said softly, prompting another beam from Bucky.
“Cool! I’ll… I’ll meet you here at the same time tomorrow, and we’ll walk down, okay? Sound good?”
Tony nodded happily, a little stunned expression on his face as his gaze jolted from person to person, as if he expected the joke to be revealed.
Bucky squeezed his hand a little tighter and then let go, the great big grin still on his face. Bad moods seemed impossible now. “I’ll come find you tomorrow then, Tony,” he called out behind him, walking up to Steve and then making their way toward the roadside.
There was a pause, and then the sound of hurrying footsteps prompted Bucky to turn around again. He only had a chance to look at Tony in surprise for a second, before suddenly the smaller boy had leaned up and planted a kiss on his cheek.
It lasted 0.3 seconds and the butterflies that Bucky had been feeling all afternoon suddenly exploded in his tummy, lighting up his face bright pink and turning his knees to jelly. He felt like his heart was doing somersaults as he watched Tony lean back down again, covered in a pretty blush of his own, and then turn tail and run back through the grass, waving behind him as he went.
Bucky stood there, stunned, until Steve suddenly burst out laughing and elbowed him in the ribs. “Bucky and Tony, sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-“
“Shuddup,” Bucky said gruffly, unable to take the smile off his face as he shoved Steve gently.
Steve continued to giggle all the way home, but Bucky didn’t even care. He was going to look up how to make the best flower-crowns that night, so that he would be able to impress Tony when they next met tomorrow.
“I think he’s gonna be real good, Buck,” Steve said, suddenly solemn, as he nodded his head pensively.
“I know he is,” Bucky agreed, head still tilted in the direction the other boy had run.
He was gonna make the best flower crown for Tony. Just you watch.