Title: Pity Party Table For One
Prompt: I'd love something with post-serum Steve having to look after a miserable cold-ridden Bucky and the role reversal of Steve getting to look after Bucky for once.
Pity Party Table For One
Bucky sat hunched over his drink at the bar. His head throbbed as the swing music played loudly in his ears; he definitely wasn’t in the mood to dance. His throat burned with soreness from the coughing he’d been doing; he hadn’t even touched his drink. His nose was a faucet that wouldn’t turn off; the involuntary sniffling was starting to annoy even him. Still he sat at the bar and stared down at his drink. Yeah, he was a little tipsy. Yeah, he was a little sick. But he knew leaving the club right now would be a bad idea. For one, he wouldn’t be able to stay on his feet long enough to make it out the door.
“Bucky? What are you doing here?”
He didn’t look up. He didn’t want to see Steve right now. Steve, who’d spent every moment of his life plagued with “chronic or frequent colds” according to his medical history until the government had done… whatever they’d done. And now there was a cold going through the barracks and Steve was somehow the only soldier without a runny nose. It wasn’t fair.
“Hitch-uhh!” He only barely caught it against the side of his hand.
“Oh, buddy, here…” Steve’s hand dove into his back pocket for a handkerchief. But all it felt was the inside of his pocket, body heat, and pocket lint. “Oh.” Quickly he turned. Three giggling girls in sweaters and skirts passed by, eyeing him with entirely obvious intentions. He smiled at them. “Pardon, do any of you have a handkerchief?” Steve accepted the first one thrust at him, though two more were just behind. He thanked them and promised them a dance before turning back to Bucky, who was busy rubbing his nose into the cuff of his sleeve. “Here,” Steve tried again.
Bucky wanted to refuse it. But he knew all too well how it would look to be sitting there rubbing his nose on his sleeve while a handkerchief was dangling in front of his face, because Steve had always looked so pathetically stupid when he was stubborn like that. So Bucky snatched it and honked his nose into the folds of the feminine, lace hanky embroidered with roses.
“You should be in bed,” Steve told him, leaning casually against the bar just as a beer was plopped down for him on the house.
Bucky grumbled to himself and kept his head ducked down. With the hanky pressed to his nose, no one but him knew how much his nose was twitching under the cloth. The twitching intensified until maddening tickle grew impossible to resist. “ih-ih-HITCH-uhhhh! H’chuhhh!”
Then he felt a hand on his back, rubbing. And Steve leaned close, whispering, “Take it from someone who’s had every cold on the planet at least once: it’s better to nip this in the bud when you can. I’ll help you out of here if that’s what you’re worried about. I can tell you’re probably running a fever. Probably a little dizzy? Weak?”
Bucky’s cheeks burned hot with embarrassment and anger and who knew what else was in the mix. Probably a fever, just like Steve said.
“You were a prisoner of war. You were tortured. Damn right your body was weakened enough for a nasty cold to move on in. That’s not your fault. But you can’t fight it with a beer. You’ve got to go lie down and take it easy, that’s the best way to fight it, Sargent. And pretty soon you’ll feel well enough to ship back out and help me take down Hitler.”
As far as inspirational speeches Captain America made, Bucky had to admit that this was one of the better ones.
“Or you can keep sitting here alone feeling sorry for yourself. It’s your call.”
Bucky looked up finally. “Let’s go.” His voice was gruff, hoarse. As he was helped to his feet, he smiled at the irony of the situation. Leaning on Steve Rogers for support, he made his way out of the bar.