Steve loves Bucky the same whether he’s the boy who lights up every room or the tired-eyed soldier who carries too much guilt on his shoulders. Bucky loves Steve the same whether he’s ninety-pounds of idealistic sass or two-hundred pounds of national icon. They’d die for every version of each other. Pass it on.
He had his own blaster out and fired a cluster of tight shots above her head. Jyn could only guess one of the rebels had been aiming the explosive her way. Cassian had shot one of Saw’s rebels to save her life.
“Tell that to the one who killed our men.” Jyn looked to Cassian. In her mind’s eye, she saw him fire his blaster in the plaza, felt the grenade explode over her head. She remembered the cold, guiltless sensation that had passed over her then; shame found her now, gripped her heart, and she tore through it with anger.
The thing most people didn’t seem to realize, Jack often thought, was that modeling was a physical job.
It wasn’t physical in the same way hockey was, obviously. But modeling required a total control over his body that most people didn’t possess. And Jack had grown up under intense scrutiny, knew how to hold himself to look the thinnest, knew how to school his features so no one knew he was angry or upset. He wasn’t the most outgoing or self-assured guy at his agency, but Jack knew he was a good model. And while it certainly wasn’t the profession he’d dreamt of as a child, he’d really grown to love it. Like with hockey, when Jack went into his focused mode at work, it was like all the noise and fear in his head went silent. Perhaps he’d never achieve anything as earth-shattering as winning the cup, but Jack was content in his life.
Except for now. Jack hated doing public events, even ones for charities like tonight. Though he was almost 30, Jack had the urge to find his mother and hide behind her skirts at the mere thought of making small talk with strangers. But his agent had insisted, networking and public image and blah blah blah, so Jack was here, gripping a tonic water tightly, politely nodding at something some old man was saying. Jack had stopped paying attention a while ago.
At first, when Bucky comes back, he and Steve maintain their totally healthy and not-at-all emotionally constipated communication style. Sentences trail off into unspoken sentiment. Memories are mentioned in lieu of discussing the present. “Hey,” replaces, “I’ve missed you so damn much, and I love you more than anything,”
It all changes with one note.
Steve catches Bucky in the bathroom mirror, staring at his reflection, at tired eyes and at metal and empty space in the place where his left arm used to be. There’s self-loathing, tied like an anchor around his neck, where self-confidence used to be, and Steve understands it, generally – but damn it, not for this.
Steve can’t help it. He leaves the sticky note in the middle of the mirror, passive-aggressive pink. ‘You’re gorgeous,’ underlined about six times next to a tiny doodle of himself, rolling his eyes.
Bucky doesn’t mention the note. He doesn’t take it down, either. When he looks at the mirror, Steve sometimes sees him smile.
A few weeks later, Steve hasn’t been sleeping. Every night, he sees Bucky fall. He goes to bed one evening and finds a note on the pillow. “It’s not your fault!!!” scrawled in a messy, hurried hand. It means too much. It means more than Steve can say.
The notes go back and forth, after that. ‘And what you did isn’t yours,’ on Bucky’s armory. ‘You’re still that kid from Brooklyn,’ on Steve’s old uniform, ‘I’ve changed, too,’ on Bucky’s hairbrush, ‘I remember us,’ on Steve’s underwear drawer and, ‘You’re worth all of it,’ on Bucky’s favorite chair. Until one day, Steve finds, ‘I love you,’ on a pot of his favorite soup in the fridge, and Bucky finds the matching note on the bottom of the morning coffee on his nightstand.
After that, they decide to try talking. Among other things.