Bucky has a firm policy: never say no to free food, especially on Thanksgiving.
1. Maria Stark Foundation Charity Brunch
Bucky always gets an invite, he’s not sure why; maybe Stark just forgot he put him on the invite list one year and never took him off.
Anyway, it’s a great breakfast: succulent turkey gravy in crepes, “breakfast stuffing bites” made from hashed browns and sausage and egg, mini potato pancakes. Never let it be said Stark doesn’t put on a good spread. And it’s kind of fun to sit with Pepper Potts and listen to her mutter under her breath during Stark’s speech.
Plus he gets to watch Stark convince rich old bastards to put more money than they intended to into the hat for charity. His young Depression-raised self appreciates every cent Stark chisels from their shriveled old claws.
2. Soup Kitchen Lunch
He doesn’t eat much at the soup kitchen; after all, the food’s not for him. But he shows up around eleven, like he does every week, helps finish cooking whatever needs finishing, and then dishes out and makes small talk while kids shovel potatoes into their mouths and teenagers with punk hairdos and dark eyes get a couple of hours in the warm and men and women who are down on their luck get a couple of hours of hope.
He usually finds some kid who looks especially like they could use a hand, and sits down with them and shares a second helping of food while they talk. Once in a while he’s even useful.
But that’s not really Thanksgiving; that’s just Thursday, for the Bucky who remembers when Steve used to fake asthma attacks so Bucky could steal apples and walnuts off the fruit vendors’ carts.
3. Veteran’s Thanksgiving Buffet
He hooks up with Steve at the VFW, where they see things a little differently from the outside world, and where even the Winter Soldier was a soldier and someone to be proud of. He and Steve put on their uniforms — the old WWII uniforms, not the costumes — and spend a little time with men who get older every year, fewer every year. Steve doesn’t eat, too busy circulating and talking with all the old-timers, shaking hands with the new young vets back from new young wars.
As for Bucky, well, the turkey’s usually pretty industrial and the potatoes remind him of Basic, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Not to mention he gets to listen to Steve gripe about Black Friday and how frying turkeys is for people who just can’t be happy with roasting and a million other things his cranky old-man soul can really only ever express around someone like Bucky, someone who understands.
4. Avengers Family Thanksgiving
Buck and Steve go straight from the VFW to the Tower, where the Avengers are having “orphan” Thanksgiving — anyone who hasn’t got family to go to, or can’t get there this year, comes around to the Tower. Nobody is officially put on cooking but someone always does, and Steve makes sure to be there to carve the turkey and keep order. Around three o’clock he sits down in front of the turkey, closes his eyes, and speaks from the heart the way Steve always does.
We give thanks for this day, for those around the table and those absent elsewhere, for the bounty we are about to receive and the bounty of years past, Steve says, as the atheists fidget a little and the gods look amused and the religious bow their heads or lift their eyes, depending. May our friendships remain strong, may we always know right, and may we find our way in darkness, Amen.
Turkey number four: down the hatch. Bucky’s barely even slowing down yet, and takes second helpings of green bean casserole but only eats the French’s fried onions, because green beans are gross and he doesn’t have to eat them anymore. They raid the tower's wine room for drinks, and Bucky enjoys watching Steve and Carol and Sam and half a dozen other Avengers sit around arguing semi-drunkenly about football.
5. Orphan Thanksgiving
Cliques form at every Avengers Thanksgiving: it’s not really deliberate, just that there’s so many of them that it’s natural to stick with the people you know and not stray too far outside your comfort zone. I mean, you might wander off and get stuck with Wonder Man bending your ear about the time he was an Avenger, and God knows Bucky’s not had nearly enough beer for that yet.
They’ve started to meet up over the last few years, anyway. Rikki, with her guarded, nervous smile, and Eli, who’s all defiance spread thinly over insecurity that’s actually painful for Bucky to look at, because the angles of the way the kid holds himself are so familiar.
They share things, after all. Things that even Steve doesn’t really get, about standing back and observing, about taking what you’re given and then taking a little more, cause God knows if you’re gonna get anything else. Bucky sits down with them and passes around the plate of pie he’s managed to filch off the buffet. Rikki takes a slice and Eli hesitates, then takes one as well, and they eat and catch up and don’t talk about anything of consequence. It’s just nice to have a family, and Rikki and Eli and Bucky, well, they’re as close to a family as any of them has got any more.
6. Future Foundation Dinner
Don’t ever fucking turn down an invitation to any meal at the Future Foundation, let alone Thanksgiving. Bucky leaves from the Tower in a cab headed straight for the Baxter Building.
Reed did something to the turkey, Bucky doesn’t even know what, but it’s amazing. All the kids prepare meals from wherever they come from, as a way of sharing culture, and there’s at least two food fights.
None of the kids give two craps where Bucky came from or what he did, they all just think he’s someone’s super cool uncle, and after dinner he and Johnny have hot mulled cider in the back of the Fantasticar on the way to Westchester.
The Fantasticar. How is this the life of Bucky Barnes.
7. Jean Grey Academy Dinner
Ben flies them up to Westchester because while Reed’s turkey is amazing, it’s not fried, and Logan doesn’t just fry a turkey, he fries all the turkeys. Organic, local turkeys grown on farms near Westchester, delivered still gobbling to the school, prepared fresh (possibly by Logan himself) and then fried. Fried. Fried turkey. Bucky’s not a strong man in the face of fried turkey.
The kids at Jean Grey Academy are a lot more uppity than the ones at Future Foundation, but they still think Bucky’s a badass, and he’s allowed to rough-house with them a little more. Mutant football, man, it’s hard to beat, and Bobby keeps the cold beers coming.
Inevitably he gets thrown off campus for picking a drunken fight with Logan, which is almost as much fun as mutant football. Anyway, that’s how he knows it’s time to stagger back into the Fantasticar, where Kitty is now at the wheel and wearing a suspiciously pretty dress.
Oh right. He has one more party to attend.
8. Jan van Dyne’s Cocktailgiving
Bucky is not dressed right for Jan van Dyne’s super-swanky Thanksgiving cocktail party, but everyone there is stupendously drunk by the time they crash it anyway, so it hardly matters. There are delicious little chocolate things and awesome cream puff things and gallons of fancy booze portioned out into tiny dainty glasses. Candied turkey? Yes fucking please, why not?
Bucky ends up getting poured into a cab by one of Jan’s boytoys or possibly bouncers or something, anyway, the point is, he ends up in the cab and gives an address and when he gets out he realizes oh, that’s where he is.
9. Sandwich Day
Bucky wakes up around noon, only slightly hungover and happily warm. He’s curled around Natasha, who somehow not only snuck out of bed but made a sandwich and snuck back into bed with it without waking him, as only Natasha can do.
He sits up, silently accepts her judgement (not as harsh as it could be) and with more enthusiasm accepts half of her sandwich. Thick rye bread from the Russian bakery down the street, turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and French’s fried onions.
Good lord how he loves this woman.
"Thanksgiving is not meant to be an orgy, you know," she says, as he uses leftovers to destroy his hangover.
"It is if you do it right," he replies.
10. Friday, Residential Care Home
The day itself is the family dinner, and Bucky can’t go to that without raising too many awkward questions. Super heroes, they deal with ‘brainwashed soviet assassin kept in stasis’ just fine, but it’s really hard to explain to a fortysomething accountant that you’re his mother’s older brother who was kept in stasis for most of the Seventies.
They leave Becca alone on Friday, though, so Bucky can turn up at the home where they assume he’s Becca’s grandson, and sit by her bed and tell her all about this year’s celebrations. She makes him eat her dinner, which is mostly leftover casserole from the day before. Not because she’s worried he’ll go hungry. She just doesn’t like green beans, and he’s always eaten her beans for her.
Today’s a good day. Probably because of the meal jogging her memory, or so he likes to think. Becca calls him Jimmy, not Pa, and asks after Natasha.
When he leaves, she wishes him Happy Christmas.