It is commonly believed that Steve cannot lie. Much like Washington, he has this weird reputation for being totally honest all the time.
Like with Washington, this is a total myth.
Steve is actually a very good liar, provided he knows he’s going to lie and has his lie down before he tells it.
No one knows Steve’s ability to lie better than Bucky, though there was a time when he was as blissfully unaware as everyone else. There was a time when Steve was able to successfully hide health issues and emotional problems, insecurities and fears. That ability shattered the day Bucky came home to him collapsed on the floor, barely able to breathe and utterly incoherent from fever.
there was a moment where bucky thought steve was dead and he never forgave steve for that
After that, Bucky was more aware. He was able to figure out Steve’s tells, or just know when things didn’t add up. He knew when Steve needed him to wrap an arm around his shoulder and when Steve needed him to stay home. Steve never stopped lying, but Bucky lied too. Now they were on even ground, since Steve was rarely fooled. There were days where Steve felt worthless, pointless, like a burden. Those were the days where Bucky held him close and ran his fingers through Steve’s hair and talked about all the ways Steve was good and how much better Bucky’s life was because of him, until Steve was sobbing into Bucky’s shoulder but they were good tears.
Years later, Steve is still lying. Nat says he’s not a good liar, but that’s not true. He’s lied successfully for ages, pretending that he was okay. Sam was the first to see through it. Nat saw that he was lonely, but not that he woke up screaming more often than not. Not that he still dreamed about Bucky falling, or about being so cold he couldn’t move. Not that the better nightmares were the ones where he jumped off and followed Bucky into oblivion.
Bucky’s there, but he’s not Bucky anymore. Not really. Bucky wasn’t that quiet, or that serious. Bucky didn’t keep so much distance from everyone. Bucky didn’t look at Steve like Steve was a stranger.
It hurts to look at Bucky these days. Things pile up. Ugly missions that stick with him. Failures he can’t forgive himself for. Smile. Keep calm and carry on, as the queen used to say.
One night, after a mission, he’s sitting quietly in his living room. It’s something he does, and it never helps. Usually it just ends with him feeling utterly worthless, because thinking turns into an ugly cycle of guilt.
Bucky is too quiet. Steve doesn’t even realize he’s in the room until he sits down next to Steve on the couch.
"I’m fine." Steve says automatically, because he’s been saying it to almost everyone since they got back from Moscow. Bucky’s expression doesn’t change, it’s a blank mask. Maybe his eyes narrow just a little, but Steve looks away. "I’m fine." He says again.
Bucky reaches out slowly, like he’s not sure of what he’s doing or thinks Steve will want him to stop. Steve’s too startled to protest as Bucky starts running his fingers through Steve’s hair.
"I’m fine." Steve protests weakly. Bucky keeps up his movements, and they’re so careful and gentle that they break Steve’s heart. Bucky doesn’t say anything, and Steve doesn’t think his expression, or lack thereof, changes.
"I’m not going to be fine if you keep this up." Steve tries to joke, but it’s more broken than he means it to be. Bucky pauses, and for a second, Steve’s sorry he said anything because it was so nice to be fussed over, even that little tiny bit.
Then Bucky’s fingers start carding through his hair again, and Bucky seems a bit more confident in that movement.
"It’s okay," he says, very quietly. "To not be fine."
Steve finds himself curled up in Bucky’s lap, sobbing, his arms wrapped around him with Bucky still petting his hair. He feels stupid, but also lighter, better. Bucky could always tell when he was lying.