imagine bucky before the war, poor as hell but always determined to look good, always determined to buy a dame a drink even if it meant he couldn’t take a cab back home. he always slicked back his hair and made sure every night to shine his shoes and press his shirts and steve always gave him shit for it, would always yell things like “jesus bucky you off to meet the president or somethin?” and “why the hell are you wearin your nice slacks? it’s almost 90 degrees outside ya punk.” bucky would just smile winningly and reply “you know i’ve always gotta be ready to impress a lovely lady stevie.”
when they’re fighting in the war bucky finds a way to keep his hair nice and his clothes looking sharp, even though there aren’t really any dames to impress anymore
the winter soldier has no concept of self worth because he does not belong to himself. his trainers have not instilled in him a desire to care for himself other than the essentials: bandaging wounds, stitching cuts, digging bullets out of his scarred flesh. he does these things because they are necessary. there is no tactical advantage to washing his hair so he does not. there is no merit in shining in his boots so he doesn’t waste the time to do so. if his clothes somehow impair his ability to fight and shoot and kill then he will fix it in the most prudent way possible with no regard as to how he looks because he wasn’t programmed to
after months of rediscovering himself, months of running and hiding and killing (only those he chose to, and only those that deserved it), months of slowly regaining his memories (steve, frame tiny but determined, hugging him one last time before he shipped off; steve, standing over him, bigger than he remembered, though he was always so much bigger than other people gave him credit for; steve, reaching reaching reaching for him on a train in the middle of winter but not being able to reach far enough; he remembers falling, but not what comes after, not for a long time; when he does remember, it’s - well. death would be kinder), months of avoiding steve and natalia (or is she natasha now?) and the man with wings. after months of this, he’s finally ready to turn himself in, to sit down and talk instead of run. so he goes to a barber shop (nothing fancy, just a local, family-run business smack in the middle of brooklyn) and asks for a haircut, something that’ll make him look nice and respectable - he’s got someone he wants to impress
"oh my god"
"what is it? what the fuck did you do to my arm, stark??”
"i think…i may have built in a…uh, a dildo"
"well get it the fuck out of me!"
"heh…that’s what she sai-"
"I DON’T CARE WHAT SHE SAID JUST GET THIS THING OUT OF MY ARM"
clint initiaties it, to absolutely no one’s surprise, by turning everyone’s laundry a sickening shade of purple
tony retaliates, because it’s tony, by setting the toasters on fire. every single toaster in avengers tower. all of them, up in flames
steve tries to convince them to stop it before it really begins, but when that doesn’t work he gets proactive and replaces all the oreo filling with toothpaste
bruce, the kind angel that he is, refuses to participate
thor joins in at this point, outraged that someone destroyed all his double stuff oreos, and electrifies every doorknob in the tower
natasha breaks three hair straighteners in the aftermath of thor’s prank, so they’re all expecting her to do something next. they’re right, of course: she soaks their toothbrushes in cayenne pepper and smirks when they all rush to the kitchen, looking for sweet liquid relief
bucky is…confused, by all of this. steve explains, or at least tries to, but bucky doesn’t really see the point of hurting or inconveniencing his friends when he can choose to do otherwise. so when it comes to be his turn (he knows it’s his turn because everyone is watching him warily and he hates it, hates that they think he’s gonna do something even though he knows it’s just the stupid prank war) he looks up ‘nice pranks’ on google. when the avengers find gummy worms in all the fruit, their smiles are wide and kind and bucky soon finds himself in the middle of a very insistent group hug
Imagine Bucky does his best to stay strong during the initial memory wiping - give them anger, give them curses if you have to, don’t ever give them weakness - until his memories of Steve start to go.
You know the war, the Howling Commandos, the girls, the dancing would go first. Then maybe his old buddies from school, the Brooklyn streets he’s walked everyday for years, his favorite meal his mother used to make for him every birthday are next. And then his mother’s tough, hard-working hands, his sister’s laughter, his own laughter.
But when they start taking Steve - Steve who’s been there since they were just kids giggling on couch cushions on the floor and Steve who followed him from Brooklyn all the way to a Hydra base and Steve who was the last warm face he ever saw (he thinks - he thinks there was a train and an outstretched hand and falling) - when Bucky starts losing Steve he just can’t hold it together anymore. He begs his captors to stop and he cries and he pleads for Steve not to go - until he doesn’t have a name to cry out for anymore. Eventually he stops crying all together.
Saw the anon ask about Bucky finding out about Steve overseas.
Imagine Bucky in his barracks, the rain pouring down on the tent. The guy next to him is reading a new comic his mom sent him in that day’s mail.
"Which one is it this time?" "A new one, Captain America, apparently he’s a big hit back home. Look at this guy"
He throws the comic over to Bucky and he starts to look through it. The story seems familiar. He scrambles through the pages to find where Captain America comes in. He finds the page and groans as he sees the name Steve Rogers printed in black and white.
"I told him not to do anything stupid while I was gone, what did he let them do to him?"
Bucky grabs a few damp blank pages from over his cot and finds a pencil that isn’t broken, and starts writing.
"Dear Steve, I saw the comic, Captain America. Is this real? I know you wanted to join the army and fight, but what did you let them do to you? Do you know if its safe? I should be there with you. I hope this letter gets to you before you let anything else happen to you.
I’m with you till the end of the line, Bucky
also, did you pick out the outfit or did someone else?”
He folds up the letter and starts to write out Steve’s address when he hears his commander telling for the 107th. Time for a mission.
Imagine Bucky learning how to play the piano. It’s slow going at first- his arm was built for power, which doesn’t always mean precision. He starts on a battered old upright he found on a curb. It’s terribly out of tune, but he doesn’t mean to make a living off of it, just to find something that distracts him. Sometimes it’s frustrating, struggling to find the connection between what he hears in his head and what he wants his hands to do. He starts slow- remembered nursery rhymes and lullabies, simple and uncomplicated.
The more he plays, the faster he learns how to take the the music he hears around him and to put it in his hands. He starts going to jazz clubs and student recitals, watching how the other players perform. He digs through Steve’s record collection, sitting in the twilight, listening to the jazz standards and trying to recreate them on his own. He swears he can feel Steve listening to him across the apartment, but he never actually comes and listens. He thinks that Steve realizes this is something for Bucky to do- it’s less performance, more a way to rediscover how he fits in things.
One morning he wakes up and brushes his hands across the keys as he walks by the piano on the way to the kitchen. He smiles when he realized at some point, Steve had someone come in to tune it, and decides to take a moment to play before he begins the day.
imagine bucky playing mario kart for the first time- carefully going through all of the characters and racing as all of them (although he does steer clear of bowser, because it brings back some pretty bad memories) against the computer before he tries to go against any of his friends. and, wow, okay, he’s actually good at mario kart, it’s kind of terrifying, clint is kind of afraid of him. but then bucky plays rainbow road for the first time, and tony has to turn up the music in his lab because bucky’s cursing so loudly it’s carrying through the whole tower.
imagine bucky being the reason why they had to put up bulletproof glass around the tv screen, because he’s broken five of them trying to win rainbow road.