"Who got you this time?" sighed Buck, his expression unamused as he surveyed my purple-black eye.
"Rob and his buddies," I muttered, clenching my right fist.
Bucky's brow furrowed, his eyes glaring. "The bastards," he spat.
"Hey," I punched his arm half-heartedly. "Language."
He nodded to the bar stool next to him and ordered me the drink he already knew I wanted, slapping the coins onto the counter harder than he needed to. The bar was dim and quiet on a Tuesday night, and we were two of the few guys who didn't have anywhere else to be. When he saw my bandaged left hand he shook his head and grinned. "Y'know, you really gotta work on that left hook."
"I know. It's just...well, when they talk about girls like that-"
"You can't help but give them something else to laugh about. C'mon, Steve. I don't see why you have to throw yourself out there when you know you'll lose."
"'Cause someday I'm gonna win," I insisted. "And if I don't, who will?" I swished the whiskey in my cup. "Besides, it's not as if I ask to get beat up. People just don't want to listen to the truth." I looked up to see Bucky laughing at me.
"You know how much of a punk you are? Oh, Steve, you're too bold for your own good. Honor, patriotism, bravery...y'know, you can take a break once in awhile. Have a little fun." He clinked my glass and took a long gulp. When my expression didn't change he rolled his eyes. "You're a killjoy, really."
"Well look who's talking!" chirped a young woman, her blonde curls bouncing as she perched on the bar counter on the other side of Bucky. "Mr. Goodytwoshoes here won't even let me sweet talk him into a kiss." She fluttered her eyelashes and pursed her lips. "Now, even you must think that's silly, Steve."
"Not really, Annie. Not when he takes another girl out to the movies every Friday night."
He looked as if he wanted to kill me with his eyes.
"James Buchanan Barnes, you awful cheat!" exclaimed the blonde, slapping Buck with her purse. "I thought you took me out for a reason!"
"I did! Annie-"
"Don't you 'Annie' me! From now on you better call me Ms. Parks and stay out of my way if you know what's best for you!" Bucky protested in vain and the girl left without a backward glance.
It was my turn to laugh. "Well, it serves you right. What did I tell you about asking two girls out at once?"
"Oh, shut up," grumbled Buck crossly, finishing his drink. "I don't know why I ever tell you anything."
I smirked. "You were too giddy to stop. You went off on a tangent about how she was the prettiest girl in town and the love of your life and very unconvincingly reassured me that she probably had a sister somewhere. Y'know," I shrugged, "you gotta learn sometime."
"Well once you get a date you won't think it's so funny."
"I'm sure," I laughed, raising my glass. "Cheers."
"If you ever get a date," he muttered.