sacred new beginnings
summary: You work at the local animal shelter where you meet Bucky Barnes.
pairing: Bucky Barnes x Reader
tags: fluff, first date(s), bucky being a cat dad, nerdy!bucky
word count: 5.6K
note: as always, any feedback is appreciated! also, shoutout to @mickey-henry for help with the title and ranting about nerdy!bucky with me (and for always supporting my writing). divider made by @firefly-graphics
masterlist - fic playlist
It had been a slow day at the animal shelter. A few people had come in to look, but no one decided to adopt. Most of the cages were empty thankfully, there was a promotion a week ago where the adoption fee was waived which brought in a swarm of people. Your favorite cat, an all white one with blue eyes named Alpine, was still available. Every time you worked, you contemplated adopting her yourself. If only your apartment complex allowed pets.
You had just finished giving the animals dinner when the bell rang on the front door. When you looked up from your phone to greet them, you weren’t expecting to see the most gorgeous man you’ve ever laid eyes on. He had dark hair that fell just below his shoulders, beautiful blue eyes, and a shirt that was so tight it was hard not to stare at his very muscular torso. You hoped he didn’t notice you checking him out. He did, but he didn’t mind. He was doing the same to you. Be professional. You cleared your throat and smiled at him.
“Hi! I’m Y/N, what brings you in today?”
“Hi, I’m Bucky, and I’ve been wanting to adopt a cat.”
Your mind immediately went to Alpine. As much as you would miss her, you wanted her to be in a loving home. Hopefully he liked her too, most people who came in wanted kittens. She was turning three in just a few months.
“Any particular breed or age you have in mind?”
“No, I’m not picky.”
He followed you down the hall to where she stayed. Alpine saw you and came right up to the cage and meowed until you pet her. Bucky laughed beside you.
“I think she likes you.”
“Don’t tell the others, but she’s my favorite. I’d adopt her myself if my building allowed pets,” you sighed.
“My lips are sealed. Can I see her?”
You picked her up and carried her down to the play room. There were a few toys lying around and some treats on the shelf where the cats couldn’t reach. Bucky sat down and you let Alpine loose. She explored the room for a few minutes before coming over to him. He held his hand out for her to smell, and she rubbed her head against it.
“This is one of her favorite toys,” you said as you handed him a stuffed mouse.
He took it and threw it for her to catch. They played for a few minutes and you watched in admiration. Alpine quickly took a liking to him, she was purring within minutes. It usually took her longer to be this comfortable around someone which is why most people picked a different cat. Once they were done playing, she went and curled up right in his lap and fell asleep. You could practically see the hearts in Bucky’s eyes.
“I’m not just saying this, but she usually isn’t this comfortable around other people this quickly. I think she likes you,” you repeated his quote from earlier.
“I’m already in love,” he gushed. “So how long have you worked here?”
“Coming up on three years. We got her in about two months ago.”
“How can people say no to her?”
“I don’t know, it breaks my heart though,” you shook your head. “What made you decide to adopt? Have you ever had a cat before?”
“No, I had a dog growing up but that’s it. A lot of my friends have cats so I’ve always been around them, and I realized I’m more of a cat person. My roommate just moved out with his girlfriend, so my apartment’s gotten lonely.”
“I know how that feels. When my lease is up, I’m moving somewhere that allows animals. It’s nice living alone most of the time, but there’s days where I wish I had a roommate.”
“Mine just moved out a week ago and I’m having a hard time adjusting. It’s too quiet, which I normally don’t mind, but it’s the bad kind of quiet. I miss having someone to always hang out with, especially since I’m a homebody. It was nice just going to his room to talk or whatever,” he shook his head. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this. I didn’t mean to vent.”
You could tell he was embarrassed by the way his cheeks turned slightly red and he tried hiding his face. It made you sad, there was nothing for him to be embarrassed about. You liked that he was able to be open with someone he just met, and it seemed like he trusted you already.
“You don’t need to apologize, I totally understand that. I’m a homebody too, but most of my friends aren’t. I think a cat will be perfect for you, they’re way less maintenance than a dog and they’ll just lounge around with you all day. Especially Alpine.”
She woke at the sound of her name and stretched out in Bucky’s lap.
“Did you want to look at any more of them?”
He scratched behind her ear which made her purr louder. You already knew his answer based on the way his smile grew wider.
“Is it bad if I say no? I just don’t think I could leave her here.”
You couldn’t help but smile at his response. “Of course not. Let’s take her back and I’ll grab the application.”
He frowned when you took her. “Application?”
“Yeah, it’s standard. Everyone who’s interested has to fill one out, just to make sure you’re a good fit. It usually takes around a week to hear back, depending on how many we get per animal.”
Bucky should’ve done more research. He was already attached, and now he’d have to wait a week to know whether he can have her? It wouldn’t be the end of the world, he could find a different cat, but he wanted Alpine.
“Oh, that makes sense. Has she had a lot of people apply for her?”
“Only a handful. Most people want kittens, so she gets overlooked. I think you have a good chance here.”
He sighed in relief. “I hope so.”
You gave him the application to fill out and got ready to close for the night. It was just you and Bucky in there, your coworker had left about an hour ago. Not that you minded, you were enjoying his company. Bucky anxiously filled out the form, it was mostly questions about his living environment, if he has any pets (current or past), and why he wanted to adopt. He gave you the completed papers and noticed you were closed up for the day. He hadn’t realized he came in right before closing time which made him feel guilty.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were about to close. I would’ve waited until tomorrow.”
You were glad he didn’t, tomorrow was your day off. “It’s alright, I don’t mind staying late if it means someone might get adopted. Especially Alpine.”
“Well, thank you for helping.”
He stepped outside and you locked the door behind you.
“Thank you for coming in. We’ll be reaching out within a week or so.”
“I look forward to hearing from you. Have a good night.”
You got into your car and watched him drive away, hoping that wouldn’t be the last time you saw him.
It had been the longest week of Bucky’s life. He thought about Alpine (and you) everyday since he put in his application. The amount of times he stared at his phone and refreshed his email or waited for a call was getting embarrassing. It was just a cat, there were plenty that needed to be adopted. He would find one.
You were relieved when your boss said that Bucky got approved to adopt Alpine. It was clear there was already a bond between them, and she would finally get to be in her forever home. Usually the applicant would be emailed if they were picked, but you decided to call Bucky. It may or may not have been so you could hear his voice again.
“Hi Bucky, this is Y/N calling from the cat shelter. I wanted to let you know you were selected to adopt Alpine if you’re still interested.”
Bucky jumped out of his seat at work which earned him some concerned stares. He smiled awkwardly and sat back down. “I am. Thank you so much, when can I come in?”
“You have three days before we contact the next person on the list.”
“I’ll be there tonight after work. Thank you again.”
“We’ll see you then.”
He couldn’t contain his excitement and he counted down the hours until he would be taking her home. You were thankful you covered your coworker’s shift today.
Bucky sped there after work, clocking out right on the minute he could. It was just you working again when he showed up. You smiled at him when he walked in.
“I’m really happy I got picked, I was getting worried.”
“It was pretty much a no brainer when I saw you two together.”
He waited near the front desk while you went back to get her cage. Bucky immediately reached for her and she started purring right away, it melted your heart.
“I just noticed you two have the same eye color,” you pointed out.
“Yeah, it’s a really pretty shade of blue.”
Bucky slightly blushed at the compliment. “Thanks. You have pretty eyes too.”
Now your cheeks were turning red. “Oh, thank you.”
It was quiet for a moment while you finalized the adoption. You wrote down a list of things to help him out, like food and vet recommendations. You also included some things about Alpine, like her behavior, likes and dislikes.
“You’re all set,” you said as you handed him the folder with all the information.
It was hard not to feel sad and a little jealous. Knowing you’d never see Alpine again broke your heart, but you were happy too. It was a bittersweet moment.
“I’ll miss you bud,” you said to Alpine. To Bucky, you said, “If you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to come back. Whether it’s a question or concern, we’re here.”
“Thank you again. I’m really excited for this one to see her new home.”
“I know she is too.”
“I guess this is goodbye,” you said, both to Bucky and Alpine.
“It was nice meeting you.”
“It was nice meeting you too. Maybe I’ll see you around?”
“Yeah,” he smiled. “I hope so.”
It took you a few days to get used to Alpine being gone. Every shift you would walk past her empty cage, and this went on for almost a week before a new cat took her old spot. There were a handful of other adoptions following the week of Alpine’s which made you really happy. It always felt rewarding helping someone find their perfect pet, it was your favorite thing about the job.
You couldn't help but think about Bucky while you worked. When you weren’t with a customer, your mind wandered to him and Alpine. You hoped things were going well and that they were both happy. A part of you thought about calling or texting him for updates, you could get his number from his application. If your boss found out, he wouldn’t be happy though. No one was allowed to contact customers personally like that.
Almost a month passed until you saw him again. He came in looking stressed out which made you worried. As excited as you were to see them again, you weren’t happy that it was because something seemed wrong.
“Is everything alright?”
“She hasn’t been eating her food the past few days. I know you’re not a vet, but maybe you can help? If not I get it and I’ll take her to the place you recommended. I’m just scared she might be sick or something.”
“Have you been giving her the food I put on the list? When we first switched food here, she wouldn’t eat unless we gave her the old stuff. She has a sensitive diet.”
“Yeah, I took a picture to make sure it’s the right one. See?”
He pulled his phone out to show you a picture of the bag. It was the same brand, but a different flavor than what Alpine eats.
“You got the wrong flavor. She likes chicken.”
“Wow, I’m an idiot,” Bucky sighed.
“No you’re not, it was a simple mistake.”
“She had to suffer though because I messed up. Am I a bad pet owner?”
You reached for his hand to calm him down. “Bucky, it’s really not a big deal. Don’t beat yourself up, you’ve never had your own pet before. It’s a learning process.”
Hearing that made him feel better. He had a bad habit of overthinking and blaming himself for little things.
“Yeah, you’re right. Thank you.”
You realized your hand was on top of his and you moved it away.
“So, how have the two of you been?”
“Great! She adjusted to my place pretty well. I got her a lot of toys and treats, and she always sleeps in my bed even though she has her own. It’s been really, really nice. Best decision I’ve ever made,” he smiled.
“I’m so happy to hear that, I knew you guys were perfect for each other. Alpine deserved someone loving, I’m glad she found that with you.”
“It’s all thanks to you. I don’t think I can thank you enough, a part of me feels I should let you have her when you move out.”
“I could never let you do that. I can see how happy you both are, that would be selfish of me. Of course I miss her, but not enough to take her from you or wish she was still here.”
It was crazy for him to suggest it. There were so many other animals who needed a loving home for you to choose. Taking Alpine wouldn’t be fair to her or Bucky, especially not after what he said about feeling lonely. While Bucky watched you play with her, an idea popped in his head. He hoped you wouldn’t think he sounded weird.
“You’re more than welcome to come over and see her, if you want. I can tell you both miss each other a lot,” he paused. “Plus, I’d like to get to know you more. But I get it if you say no, we don’t know each other that well and I don’t want you to think I’m a creep for just inviting you over.”
“Yeah, that would be nice. Here, let me give you my number.”
You swapped phones and put your contact information in. He put a cat emoji next to his name, and even though it was something small, it made you fall for him even more.
“I’ll text you this week. Thanks again.”
“It’s no problem, I’m always here to help. I’m looking forward to hanging out outside of here,” you laughed and he grinned.
Bucky picked up Alpine’s crate and gave you a small wave before going back to his car. The idea of getting to see Bucky’s place and hang out (is it a date? You hoped, but it wasn’t clear) had you feeling giddy the rest of your shift. Part of you felt nervous, what would you guys talk about besides Alpine? The only time you saw him was when it had something to do with her. But he did say he wanted to get to know you more, and that calmed your nerves.
It was three days later when Bucky texted you. He spent an embarrassingly long time trying to write the perfect text, and he settled on Hey! If you’re not too busy, would you want to come over tonight? If not, we can work out another time. Just let me know :) He went back and forth trying to decide whether or not to include the smiley face, but he decided to just put it. Once it was sent, he kept checking his phone every few seconds for your answer.
Hey Bucky! I’m off at 5:00, I can come over afterwards. :) You tried not to respond right away, but you couldn’t help it. Bucky didn’t waste any time either, Awesome, see you then! He included his address which wasn’t too far from your work.
“Someone’s excited today,” your coworker, Evan, said. “Does it have anything to do with the incredibly attractive guy that was here the other day?”
“It does actually. He told me I can come over to see Alpine, so I’m going when I get off.”
“I doubt he invited you over just to see her. What exactly did he say?”
You repeated what Bucky said from the last time he was there and read your texts. Evan smirked.
“He wants to get to know you better? He’s definitely crushing on you.”
“I don’t think so, he’s just being nice. He never said it was a date anyways.”
“Well, I’m still jealous. I expect every detail tomorrow.”
“You got it.”
It was only 2:00, and you knew the next three hours were going to drag on. Bucky stressed cleaned his entire apartment until it was nearly spotless, he even went out and bought a new candle to impress you. He thought about cooking dinner, he figured you’d be hungry after work, but he wasn’t great at cooking so he decided against it.
5:00 finally hit and Evan winked at you when you left for the day. You pulled up Bucky’s address on your phone, it was only a ten minute drive. After fixing your appearance and changing out of your work clothes, you began the short drive over. It didn’t give you a lot of time to overthink or get nervous. You walked up to the door and buzzed the number for his apartment.
Bucky jumped at the sound of the buzzer and pressed the button to let you in. He paced back and forth near the door and opened almost immediately after you knocked. Right away you could smell the candle he picked, it smelled like sandalwood and vanilla. Alpine meowed when she saw you and came over to greet you.
“Hey, how are you?” Bucky asked.
“Good, work was slow today, but I’m good. How was your day?” You asked as you scratched behind Alpine’s ear.
“Not very eventful, it was my day off so I just laid around with this one all day.” He realized you were still standing in the hall. “Sorry, come in.”
His apartment was nice, not too small but not too big. It seemed perfect for two people, but you could see how he felt lonely being there by himself. There was a bookshelf full of different books, a few picture frames of his friends, family and Alpine, and a record player with a bin of vinyls next to it. There wasn’t a lot of color, except for a few pillows and a blanket on the couch.
“I like your place, it’s nice.”
“Thanks. My old roommate was better with interior decorating, so I’m trying to make it look somewhat nice since he took everything.”
You went over to look at his book collection. It was full of the classics, with a few sci-fi novels and some comic books. He felt embarrassed, in his mind you probably saw him as some weird nerd. You moved on to look through his records, he had mostly older music, the only current ones being Harry Styles.
“Sorry, I shouldn’t look through all your stuff like that,” you apologized.
“I don’t mind, as long as you don’t judge me for my taste or anything. Especially for the comics.”
“I wouldn’t judge you for what you like. I think you have good taste, and an impressive book and vinyl collection. Have you always been into reading?”
He was sitting on the couch and you went over to join him, making an effort not to sit too close. You weren’t sure if this was a date or not, and you didn’t want to embarrass yourself. Better safe than sorry.
“Yeah, ever since I was a kid. I always enjoyed reading the classics in school, and science was my favorite subject, hence all the sci-fi books. I was teased for being a nerd, and for a while I stopped reading and almost sold all my comics. Then I started making friends with similar interests and realized I should just enjoy what I want and not care if others think I’m nerdy, which isn’t even a bad thing.”
It was nice seeing him light up a little as he talked about his interests. You felt sad that people made him feel bad for enjoying something he loved, but happy that he stopped caring and embraced it instead.
“I never understood why people use the word nerd like it’s a bad thing to be. I think it’s impressive you like science, I was never good at it,” you laughed. “I just realized, I never asked what you do for work.”
“Oh, I help design tech at Stark Industries. I started not too long ago, I just graduated from grad school back in May so it’s my first adult job. During school I worked at the comic store and was a tour guide at the science museum downtown.”
“Wow, that’s huge! I’ve heard it’s hard to get hired there, so congratulations. I’ve actually never been to the science museum before, but I’ve stopped in the comic shop before just to browse but didn’t find anything that interested me.”
“Thank you, I’m really lucky Stark took a chance with me, it’s been my dream job since high school. I’m a little offended you’ve never seen the museum, we need to change that.”
We. He wanted to go with you.
“Well, I can’t pass up a chance to go with my own personal tour guide,” you smiled.
Alpine woke up from her nap, she was stretched out in between you and Bucky on the couch. You picked up a toy from the basket and she immediately pounced on it. He smiled as he watched you two.
“Want me to put on some music?” When you nodded, he asked, “Any requests?”
“Play whichever is your favorite.”
He put on his favorite Marvin Gaye album and went into the kitchen to get Alpine’s dinner ready. She ran in when she heard the can opened and meowed until Bucky set down the bowl. When you put the toy back, you saw how full the basket was. It made your heart warm that he was spoiling her.
“Did you buy every toy from the pet store?” You teased.
“Almost. I wanted her to have options, but of course she loves playing with my hair ties the most,” he laughed.
“I’m not surprised, she’s always loved playing with anything but her actual toys.”
“Hey, are you hungry? I haven’t eaten dinner yet, we could order something if you want? My treat.”
My treat. Is this a date? You wanted to ask, but you knew if he said no you’d be crushed. You were having fun just talking and getting to know him. Even if he wanted to only be friends, you’d be okay with that. You couldn’t help but fall for him though, there was just something about him.
“Yeah, that sounds good.”
He ordered from one of those food delivery apps and you thanked him for paying. While you two ate, Alpine sat in between you and played with her favorite toy. She was purring loudly and you knew it was going to be hard leaving not just her, but Bucky too. It helped knowing you’d see them again, but it was such a nice night and you didn’t want it to end.
“Have you always lived in Brooklyn?” Bucky asked.
“No, I moved here for college and loved it so much I stayed. I volunteered at the shelter a few times a week, and they offered me a job after graduating. It was perfect.”
“I like how passionate you are about what you do, it’s cute. Most people complain about their jobs, which is understandable, but I can tell you love what you do. You’re good at it too.”
You looked down at your hands and picked at a hangnail, his compliment had you flustered.
“Oh, uh, thank you. I’m just lucky to have a job I enjoy,” you shrugged.
“I am too, it took a lot of work, but it was worth it,” Bucky paused and looked down at your mouth. “You got something near your lip, let me get it.”
“N-no, I can get it,” you stuttered.
But it was too late. He leaned closer, close enough to kiss, and gently swiped his thumb across the corner of your mouth. The touch sent a chill down your spine. Bucky lingered for a moment before pulling back.
You didn’t respond, you were fighting the urge to touch the same spot he just did. Out of the corner of your eye, you saw that the clock said it was almost 8:30. It wasn’t that late, but you barely slept last night and were starting to get tired. An involuntary yawn slipped out and Bucky frowned slightly. Were you bored of him already?
“I’m so sorry, I promise I’m not bored or anything. I just didn’t sleep well last night, and I had to get up extra early for work,” you apologized when you saw his face.
He felt relieved, he could tell you meant it and weren’t just saying it to be nice.
“That’s alright. You should head home and get some sleep. I’ll walk you to your car,” he offered.
You said goodbye to Alpine and Bucky followed you outside. He leaned against your car and looked down at you. It made you realize how much taller he was than you. Neither of you spoke at first, it was clear neither of you wanted the night to end yet.
“Thank you again for inviting me over. I had a great time.”
“Of course, you’re welcome anytime. Are we still on for the museum?”
“Yeah! I’m off again on Sunday, we could go then?”
“Perfect, it’s a date,” he smiled.
Your heart did a somersault as you got into your car. Sunday couldn’t come soon enough.
Of course the next few days dragged on. Bucky offered to pick you up, he said he wanted it to feel like a true date. He showed up right on time and made the effort to get out and open the car door for you. It was already going better than most of the dates you’ve been on.
You noticed his hair was freshly cut and that he shaved. Bucky was dressed casually but still cute, in a maroon henley shirt that accented his muscles very nicely, light blue jeans and white Converse. He smelled like the candle from his apartment, it was intoxicating in the small space of the car. The radio was quietly playing in the background.
“I like your haircut, it suits you.”
“Thank you, it was getting too long.”
“So, when was the last time you were at the museum?” You asked.
“Too long, almost a year probably. I kind of got tired of it when I worked there, but I was starting to miss it.”
“I’ve been looking forward to going.”
Bucky grinned at that, he still hesitated to share his interests with people since he used to get teased, but he felt comfortable around you. You loved listening to people talk about things they're passionate about, you adored the way their eyes lit up and the huge smiles they got.
“I’m happy you’re coming with me.”
He thought about reaching for your hand. It was so close, resting right on your thigh with his on the gear shift. Screw it, he thought. Bucky grabbed your hand and interlocked your fingers, resting them on the console. He could probably hear your heart pounding over the soft music playing. Neither of you commented on it, but you both were smiling like idiots.
It didn’t take long to get to the museum. Parking was a pain, he ended up having to park a few blocks away. You frowned when he let go of your hand so you two could get out of the car, but he held it again as you started walking. It was a beautiful day outside, and downtown was full of people enjoying their weekend.
“Alright, I’m ready for the tour.”
Bucky started with the first exhibit, his voice naturally came across loud since he was used to talking to large groups. A few people gave you guys weird looks as he pointed everything out, but he didn’t care. As long as he was making you laugh, nothing else mattered. You were actually learning a lot thanks to him, and it was easy to see how excited he was to be back. He looked like a kid on Christmas morning.
A few kids actually stopped to listen to him as well. Some of the parents thought he was an actual guide, but he had to explain he used to be. You still caught them listening in, and it made you happy that other people were impressed with his knowledge.
“How are you enjoying the tour so far?”
“So far, so good.”
He squeezed your hand and kept walking. It took almost two hours to get through everything and your feet were tired from all the walking, but it was so much fun. Bucky never once let go of your hand, it was a feeling you could get used to.
“That was seriously so fun. I want you to give me a tour of every museum in the city,” you laughed as you two walked back outside.
“I think you’d get sick of hearing me talk so much.”
“I don’t think so, I like listening to you talk.”
He almost kissed you right there.
“I’m glad, because that’s all I’ve done the last two hours. Wasn’t really much of a date for you, huh?”
“It was! It was different, usually it’s dinner and a movie.”
“We could do that too. How about Saturday night?”
Well, that was smooth. How could you say no?
“Yeah, Saturday is great.”
You started walking back to his car. The sun was about to start setting and the air had cooled down to the perfect temperature. Bucky got another idea.
“We should watch the sunset. There’s a spot not too far from here with a great view.”
“Let’s do it.”
He led you up a short hill in the park near the museum. A lot of other people had the same idea, they were spread out on their blankets, waiting for the view. You found one of the last open spots and sat in the grass next to Bucky. He slid his arm around you and you leaned into him. Within a few minutes, the sun slowly dipped below the horizon, making the sky look like cotton candy.
“It’s beautiful,” you whispered.
“Yeah, it is,” Bucky agreed, but he wasn’t looking at the sunset.
You turned to look at him and blushed when you met his gaze. His eyes looked down to your lips, then back to your eyes. It felt like time stopped as you both slowly leaned towards each other until your lips touched. The kiss was soft and slow, he wanted to take his time with you. When Bucky finally pulled back, both of you smiled shyly at each other before laughing softly.
“I normally don’t kiss on first dates,” you teased.
“Well, this is technically our second, right?” He teased back.
“I didn’t know if the other night counted. I wanted it to, but I was nervous to ask.”
“I was too. It wasn’t really a proper date though, it seems I’m not the best at those.”
“As long as I get to see you, I’m happy. I don’t care what we do.”
He kissed you again before standing up, holding his hand out for you to grab. Once you were back in his car, Bucky offered you the aux cord to play some music.
“What if we did carpool karaoke? I have the perfect playlist.”
“Yes, please. Be warned I’m a terrible singer though.”
“I am too,” you said as you hit shuffle.
The first song was Dancing Queen by ABBA, a classic. You and Bucky sang as loud as you could, and with the windows down the people in the next lane could definitely hear you. Neither of you cared, you were both having so much fun. He knew almost all of the songs, and he enjoyed listening to your voice when he didn’t. You didn’t want to get out of the car when he pulled up to your apartment.
“Thank you for tonight Bucky, it was perfect. Tell Alpine I miss her and I’ll see her soon, if that’s alright.”
“Of course it’s alright, I had a great time tonight too. I’m looking forward to our third date.”
You leaned over and kissed him before getting out of the car. He rolled the window down and watched to make sure you made it inside safely. You turned around and blew him a kiss that he pretended to catch.
It was hard leaving him after such a fun night, but at least you had Saturday to look forward to. You never expected something this great to happen from Alpine’s adoption, but as you headed up to your apartment, you thanked the universe for introducing Bucky to you.
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