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bucky barnes: tsa employee extraordinaire

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Bucky’s fingers hesitate over his keyboard.

Search: weird purple comic book characters, he types out slowly, and stares at the search engine, unsure of why exactly he’s looking into this. A lot of different kinds of people come through the LaGuardia Airport, and he hasn’t looked any of them up on Google in the time he’s worked there, so why now?

He guesses it’s because he hasn’t ever seen someone that looks like they stepped right out of a comic book at five in the morning. Of course, New York hosts conventions, where people show up decked out in extravagant costumes—Bucky even went to a couple when he was a kid. Except people are usually getting dressed for that during the day and not before they fly into New York. Bucky imagines that it would be extremely uncomfortable to sit on a cramped plane wearing skin-tight leather and a giant cape.

Which is why Bucky cannot stop thinking about the Tinky Winky that showed up at the airport yesterday. The guy was relatively tall, though Bucky couldn’t see any of his other features due to the costume he was wearing: a bright purple leather onesie which clung to his body, three-inch purple platform shoes (he kept tripping over them), pointy shoulder pads, and a purple cape that was much taller than he was (which might have been why he kept tripping).To top it all off, the guy was wearing a full cotton face mask with misaligned eyeholes.  No way he got through security on the other side wearing that.

In other words, the guy stood out. It’s Bucky’s job, as the TSA agent for baggage claim Terminal J, to keep his eyes peeled for any suspicious activity. The job’s importance was certainly amped up after the Battle of New York, though Bucky has yet to encounter more sinister deeds than trying to steal someone’s luggage. Besides, Loki didn’t arrive in New York on a regular plane. 

Bucky sits back on his couch, scanning through the endless images of weird purple comic book guys, only to see that none of them match up with the man from the airport. Bucky should have figured that, since comic book characters don’t generally look so... lame.

Maybe it was a self-created character or something. Bucky shrugs, closing his laptop and tossing it aside offhandedly.  New York could probably handle one more weirdo, right? 

Well. 

Bucky should have known better than to disregard his gut feeling that something was off with Tinky Winky, because he’s proven right the very next day.

Bucky’s busting his ass on the treadmill at his local gym, because in order not to feel bad about his day job as a couch potato, he’s gotta compensate somewhere.  

It’s noon, so there are only a couple other people in the gym with him. Everybody else is probably at lunch or working, and though Bucky is dreaming about the pasta he’s going to be eating soon, he continues to push through. Having his playlist, “Stop thinking about food” pulsing in his ears is certainly helping him stay strong.

Apparently, he must be pretty in the zone, because it takes him much longer than it should to realize that everybody around him has completely stopped what they were doing. When he does, he sees that they’re all looking at the tv screens, which are spread out through the entire gym.

Glancing up, Bucky misses a step and falls off the treadmill. 

With a groan, Bucky lets his head fall back and continues to lay on the floor. The gym has now turned the volume up on all the TVs, giving Bucky a sense of surround sound. He locates the closest screen, happy to find that he’s still got a good line of sight from the floor. Displayed on the screen now is footage from what looks like someone’s camera phone.

Tinky Winky is standing at the check-in desk at Stark Industries, apparently trying to goad the receptionists into doing something, still decked out in the same getup Bucky saw him in: the endless amount of clashing purple colors, pointy shoulder pads, and face mask. 

“C’mon. All I wanna do is see Captain America! It’s a surprise visit! I’m here to fight him!” Tinky Winky says, as though that’s the most normal thing. He must be under the impression that it’s acceptable to declare an attack on an Avenger. Bucky wonders where he got that idea from.

Bucky starts to chuckle, because the guy looks like some high schooler who said something like, ‘Come meet me behind the bleachers. You ‘n me are gonna fight over the sandwich you stole from me at lunch’. In other words, he looks like an idiot.

The people at the gym are laughing.

Even the guy videoing the event is laughing, judging from the way the camera is shaking.

That is, until Tinky Winky busts out some sort of gun (it’s also purple) from underneath his cape. At that point, everybody quiets, and everyone at the gym is watching with rapt attention as Tinky Winky aims the gun at the receptionists.

The man braces himself against a recoil that doesn’t come, turning his head and closing his eyes as he pulls the trigger.  Everyone in the room seems to let out a sigh of relief as he hits the gun with his hand and tries again. No dice.

Tinky Winky stomps his foot, lets out a long whine, and brings the gun up to his face. “Why aren’t you lasering? I followed the instructions perfectly, even though they were in Swedish!”  At that point he sees Stark’s security guards surrounding him. He tries to run, but manages to somehow trip over his cape and fall right on his ass.  He’s still screaming for Captain America as the guards drag him away.

Bucky can’t get off the floor for fifteen minutes. He’s laughing too hard.  

 

Anyone looking at Bucky’s internet history lately would probably be baffled by his sudden interest in comic book characters and the art of cosplay. No, he isn’t making his own costume, God forbid - but if he did, it would be all black for crying out loud, none of this neon nonsense - but is instead trying to recognize who is simply dressed up as a superhero/villain for fun, and who’s a wannabe villain going to hunt down Captain America. 

He is proud to say that these days he can easily differentiate between the two from thirty feet away.  Which is good, because ever since the encounter with Tinky Winky, villains of all kinds have been making their way through the airport, all with the same agenda: to go after Captain America. Bucky isn’t quite sure why they’re flying into LaGuardia as opposed to JFK, since the Avengers are housed in Manhattan. Maybe they’re all spent out after spending money on their costumes. 

Bucky’s got identification down to a science: for one, they’re usually jittery when they’re waiting for the luggage to start making their rounds on the carousel. Shaking out their hands, bouncing up and down, that sort of thing. Noticing abnormal behavior is something Bucky can do very well due to his tours in the army. His senses are sharp, and someone looking jittery is definitely something that draws his eye. You know, in addition to the colorful outfits and capes.

Bucky’s never been able to figure out why they’re coming through the airport in full costume at night, but he’s never been one to look a gift horse in the mouth. After all, it’s given him a new friend. 

JARVIS. 

See, every time Bucky catches one of the bad guys coming through his baggage claim, he’s had to call Stark—Avengers— Tower to give a report about what happened and what he needs. In other words, he gets to chat with Stark’s AI and explain to it why he needs someone to come down to the airport and handle the situation. 

Bucky works at the airport. It isn’t his jurisdiction to handle these people outside of it. He doesn’t even get to carry a gun. 

With it being roughly a month of this happening, Bucky thought he and JARVIS were getting to be pretty good friends. The AI is always so chipper whenever Bucky calls. So it’s a surprise to him when one night, he calls the usual number to Stark Tower and he hears a different voice pick up. 

“So, you’re the guy who bothers my JARVIS at three in the morning?” 

Bucky squints. “You’re not JARVIS.” 

“Excellent observation. I’m his maker.” 

Bucky’s never chatted with a superhero before. This job just keeps bringing him new surprises. He settles back into his chair in an attempt to get more comfortable, glances over at tonight’s villain—who is currently rooting through his boarding papers to find some luggage document that doesn’t exist—and sighs. “Mr. Stark. What can I do ya for?” 

“From what I understand, you aren’t calling my AI for your weekly booty call, no?” Stark doesn’t give Bucky the chance to answer before he’s barreling on. “Well. Since you’re calling with your weekly roundup of villains who want to destroy Mr. Red White and Blue, I’ve got a new number for you to call. This will be much better for the both of us, and for the new person! He’s new in town. Could use a friend.” 

He rattles off a phone number, and Bucky is then left with a dead phone line. 

Alrighty then. Bucky punches the number into his phone, bringing it up to his ear and listening to the dialing tone. The man in front of him presents a crumpled boarding ticket, looking awfully hopeful. When Bucky shakes his head, he sighs sadly and starts rooting through the pockets of his white lab coat. 

“‘Ello?” A grumbled voice answers. 

“Hi? I’m Bucky, and I work at the airport. Stark gave me this number to call for when I have a…” Bucky shoots a side glance at the mad scientist. “Problem I need dealt with.” 

“Problem… Oh right! Bucky! Villains! Me! Okay, I’ll be there soon. Will you have any issues waiting?” The man asks politely, sounding far more awake than he was a second ago. 

“None at all.” 

 

Bucky’s pretty used to having to wait a bit before Stark’s person would arrive, even when he was still speaking with the AI. The airport is in Queens, and St—Avengers Tower is in Manhattan. Bucky’d just assumed Stark had a guy on call anywhere, or perhaps there was an even higher-up organization with people everywhere. Regardless, the person that comes is pretty quick, and the encounter is always pretty cut and dry. 

With that, he figured that he was just now calling the transfer guy directly, instead of going to JARVIS, and then JARVIS relaying to this guy. Less calling, more efficiency. 

Instead of the suited up agent that he usually sees, Bucky is faced with khakis and a button down shirt. 

“Bucky?” 

He raises his gaze up to the man’s face, and is immediately rendered confused.

Why would they send Captain America to pick up someone after Captain America?

“Why are you dressed nicely at four in the morning?” Bucky asks instead. Steve Rogers glances down at himself, and then glances back to Bucky with a slight smirk, looking at him up and down. 

“Because I was coming to see you, of course.” 

That isn’t what Bucky was expecting him to say. He opens and closes his mouth a few times, purses his lips, and feels a blush spread across his cheeks. Steve, however, just grins at him. Bucky points over at the frazzled looking man in the white lab coat. “There’s your guy.” 

“He looks like some guy I saw in a cartoon recently,” Steve murmurs absently. 

Bucky thinks for a moment, wracking his brain to remember any frazzled looking scientist he remembers on any recent cartoon. Mr. Crocker, Mojo Jojo, Dr. Doofenshmirtz…? Bucky glances over at the man in the lab coat, seeing the brown hair going in all different directions, the large chin, and the slight bend of the neck, and wonders how he didn’t make the connection himself. 

“You’ve seen Phineas and Ferb?” 

Steve shrugs. “It’s a good show. I’m Steve by the way, which I may have forgotten to mention. Must have rendered me speechless.” 

Bucky rolls his eyes, aiming for casual even if his blush persists. “I didn’t think you were going to be such a flirt.” 

Steve grins. “You’ve thought about me?” 

“Guys. As great as it is to be here, I’d really like to leave,” Lab Coat pipes in, looking about as done as Garfield the cat on a Monday. Steve looks to Bucky, who sighs. 

“This guy is gonna take you wherever you need to go. He’s with the, er, shuttle service. I’m sorry for the inconvenience, sir, and I hope you have a wonderful time in New York,” he says, smiling as politely as he can. Lab Coat looks to Steve, and then shrugs, seemingly all too happy about getting a free ride from the “airport”. He nods definitively. 

“It’s fine. Thanks.” He turns, and starts to put his luggage back into order. Neither Steve or Bucky miss the tricked out looking power drill in his bag, and they share a smile when he hurriedly covers it with a sweatshirt. 

“Well, thanks Bucky. I hope I’ll be seeing you around!” Steve says cheerfully. Bucky’s smile comes easily, which is something that never happens while he’s at work. 

“I’m sure you will. Later, Steve.” 

Steve walks beside Lab Coat on the way out, and Bucky, while appreciating Steve’s broad shoulders, notices that Steve’s both tense and alert—ready for anything that could happen. He looked so at ease in the short time he was with Bucky, and he wonders if Steve was. Or if it was just him being good at appearances. 

He shakes his head, eyes rolling over to the arrival schedule. He’d spoken with Tony Stark on the phone, and he just met Steve Rogers. And the villain, who probably just tainted Phineas and Ferb for him, didn’t even seem to put two and two together and see that the guy driving him is also the superhero he was planning on looking for. 

Bucky shrugs. He’s never been able to explain people’s logic, and he isn’t going to any time soon. 

He’s running through the events of tonight’s shift when he remembers something Stark said to him before hanging up. ‘He could use a friend’.  

 

“Bucky, has anything strange been happening during your shifts?” Bucky’s boss, Sandra asks.

She’s the head of the TSA department, but she mostly works with the security check employees than with Bucky’s division. She’s a petite woman with light brown hair, which is always pulled back into a very tight knot. For a hot second, Sandra tried to get Bucky to either grow his hair out and tie it back, or to cut it short and look more professional, since his hair is just long enough to fall in front of his face, but when she realized he wasn’t going to do that, she gave up. 

They’ve built an easy camaraderie in the two years that Bucky’s worked at the airport, because despite Bucky’s aloof presence, she is very aware of how seriously he takes his job. You know, discreetly. Which is also why she puts up with his entire personality.

Case in point: “Define strange.” Bucky’s sitting on one of the benches in the airport’s main lobby with his excellent airport sandwich and chips. See, due to the time that Bucky’s shifts are, all the actual restaurants both in the airport gate section and the main airport lobby are closed. They aren’t 24-hour places, and they all have to open shop at 6am on the daily, so they must close at some point. For food, that leaves Bucky with the airport convenience shops, which remain open for a small window during Bucky’s shifts. 

Airport food is still superior to airline food, however.

“Well, I heard that some ‘specimen’ of a human keeps turning up during your shifts, and that you keep getting yelled at by,” Sandra looks down at her phone screen uncertainly, “’weird-ass dressed people’? I’m not entirely sure what these words mean put together, so that’s how I’m going to define strange.” 

Bucky can’t help but chuckle, curious to know who exactly told Sandra about any of that. “I suppose if you’re going to define it that way, strange things have been happening during my shifts. But it isn’t anything I can’t handle. Is it just my terminal that’s been getting comments, or are other ones getting it too?” Bucky asks curiously. To be honest, he hadn’t even thought that villains might be showing up to different terminals, when he really should have. After all, not every plane sends their passengers to Bucky’s baggage claim. Surely Steve would have told him if bad guys were still showing up to fight him? 

Sandra shakes her head, raising an eyebrow. “No, I’ve only heard about your area. What’s with that?”

Of course, it’s only Bucky’s area. He isn’t sure if he should be glad or offended. 

He kinda likes being the only Savior of the Airport, though.

“My terrible luck, of course,” Bucky says, grinning. He takes another bite from his bland turkey sandwich, chewing mechanically and watching as Sandra continues to stare at him silently. He sees a smirk starting to pull at her lips, but she expertly fights it away. Bucky sighs, looking to her seriously. “It isn’t anything I can’t handle, Sandra. I swear. There’s absolutely no need to make a deal about it. I haven’t destroyed my area yet! I’ll get higher ups involved if it becomes an issue.” 

Sandra scrutinizes Bucky for a moment longer, her brown eyes narrowing slightly as she considers this. After a minute, she gives a reluctant nod. “Alright, Barnes. I’m assuming that it’s better for me not to know specifics?” 

Bucky chuckles. “Honestly, you probably wouldn’t even believe me if I told you. I had a hard time believing it myself.”

“I’m not going to ask then. Just don’t do stupid shit,” Sandra orders, jutting a finger at him accusingly. “Also, get back to work. Arrival from Vegas is about to be here.”

“Why, I never do stupid shit.”

Sandra rolls her eyes, and walks away without dignifying him with a response. Bucky’s pretty used to that kind of treatment from her, though.

Sighing, Bucky gathers his sandwich and chip wrappings into his hand, and stands up with a groan. He drops the trash into the bin placed next to him, and rolls his neck a few times, relaxing his muscles. If there’s anything he can count on, it’s the probability that a flight arriving from Vegas is going to be carrying some kind of villain. Or at least some group of high maintenance drunks. 

Call it a hunch.

Bucky trudges it back over to his post, loading up his ancient work computer and checking to ensure that all the Vegas luggage was headed to the correct baggage claim. With the confirmation, Bucky leans his head on his hand, opening the page for tomorrow’s list of arrivals. He scans through the flights, seeing that there’s no more than there usually is. Though, that doesn’t mean there won’t be more or less people than there usually is. Not every plane flies full. Bucky likes those ones best. 

The swift opening of the door has Bucky glancing up, easing into his routine checks on the passengers. Being from Vegas at, five in the morning, he easily picks out the ones who are slightly inebriated—whether it be left over from some Vegas party, or with the addition of booze on the plane. They’re stumbling over their feet, grasping at people around them to keep balance, and they’re giggling softly.

Bucky deems them harmless. He does make a mental note to keep an eye out for their transportation—whether they aboard the shuttle to go towards the parking lot, or if they get picked up.

He moves his gaze back to the entrance door, looking each person up and down.

To his surprise, no obvious villain stands out to him. Maybe it’s because a bulk of them are dressed in Vegas costume wear, or maybe it’s because there just isn’t anything wrong with this crowd.

Slightly relieved, Bucky leans forward again on his podium, beginning to count the growing number of irritated faces as the carousel takes its sweet time to power up. He’s trying to beat his total record of 17 irritated people at once, but he has yet to do so. One day.

The claim eventually starts spitting out suitcases, two at a time, and they begin their route around the large metal oval.

He notes that three pairs of people manage to get their suitcases mixed up, but they seem to realize relatively quickly. Bucky is proud of them. He continues to mentally tally all of the amusing things he keeps track of, and is doing so when a movement draws his eye.

She’s relatively short, and has unkempt brown hair that falls to her mid-back. Her expression is pinched, but Bucky can recognize the natural resting bitch face through her smeared makeup. She’s wearing a bright yellow and orange Hawaiian dress, which is kind of odd to be wearing from Vegas. She had just pulled a small suitcase from the claim, and is now unzipping it. Strange, because people don’t generally unzip their bags while still in the airport. Bucky figures she very could be ensuring the bag is hers, but his instincts are telling him to look closer. 

Quietly, Bucky gets up from his seat and strides over. He’s only a few feet away when the girl lifts an object resembling a gun from the bag.

Immediately alarmed, Bucky moves to intercept. In the back of his mind, he’s laughing at the irony of having told Sandra that the situation was easily handled and did not pose a threat to anybody. In addition, he’s realizing he should have probably called for assistance before intercepting, but he feels alright about his chances.

Before the woman can do anything with the gun, Bucky has quickly snatched it from her loose grip. Around them, nobody is paying them any mind. Quickly, the woman blinks angrily at him. 

“What—”she begins, but Bucky cuts her off, speaking in a low, steady voice. 

“I’m going to need you to come with me. We’re not going to make a scene, no?”

The woman huffs, irritated, but doesn’t protest. Bucky nods at her, snatches her suitcase, and spins them around and heads towards one of the relatively camouflaged “Authorized Personnel Only” doors. He leads her down a narrow hallway, completely bare and reflecting a harsh light. It isn’t a hallway that Bucky goes through all that often. In fact, he can count on one hand the times he’s been here. 

Airport jail.

There’s a side door towards the end of the hallway, leading them into a small office space. The room is dark, and there’s only ever one person on shift at a time. Currently, a kid named James is working, and the only reason he knows the guy’s name is because he and Bucky share it. He’s fresh out of college, and is still fairly new at the job. 

The job, of course, being the jailer for airport jail. 

James, having been nodding off, nearly falls out of his seat when Bucky and Vegas woman come through the door. Not sparing him a glance, Bucky takes the woman through the second door, and points at the dusty chair before turning right back out.  

“What’s goin’ on?” James asks uncomprehendingly, looking at the woman through the one-way mirror. Bucky leans on the desk, taking his phone from his pocket to text one of the other baggage claim guys to keep an eye on his terminal.

After dropping his phone back into his pocket, Bucky takes the blaster gun and takes a complete look at it. From what he can tell, it’s almost an exact replica of the blaster gun that Purple Guy had in that initial Stark Industries footage. When this whole mess started. 

“What the fuck is that?” James asks, suddenly wide awake and alert. “Is that from her? Why does she have a gun? Why does the gun look like that?” 

Bucky sighs. “I wasn’t really playing 20 questions with her, James.”

Behind the mirror, Vegas woman has her arms crossed, and her foot is tapping impatiently. She doesn’t look very happy. Bucky supposes he wouldn’t be either. 

“Okay, but what are we supposed to do with her? I’m not exactly qualified to handle a case like this. It would be my first one! They put me on nights because nothing ever happens!”

Bucky could go into a full answer about how that is not true, but he doesn’t really have the motivation to do so. He should figure out where to go next.

“I’m going to figure it out.”

James shoots him an unimpressed look. “That doesn’t exactly tell me what we are going to do now. We can’t just have her sit there all night while you try and figure something out. So, what do we do with her?”

Bucky lets a long stream of air leave his nose, and he closes his eyes, willing strength to flow into him. “Do I look like some sort of colorful superhero? I’m not exactly qualified to go up against a potential supervillain.”

At least not a legit one. 

“But, Bucky. We have to do something,” James repeats, as though Bucky isn’t aware. The repetition manages to get Bucky to remember that James doesn’t know what to do, and that he’s probably anxious. “Weren’t you in the army, or something? What did you do then?”

“Sometimes we called in airstrikes. Think that would be useful now?” Bucky asks, the sarcasm seeping into his voice. He should probably be more considerate, but it’s an autonomic process at this point for Bucky to be a dick.

“Just call someone,” James sighs. And then, his eyes suddenly brighten with uncontainable excitement. “I heard that you’ve been hanging around Captain America! Call him!”

How did…. When did he even hear this? Bucky really wants to know who’s apparently keeping an eye on him, because he was under the impression that nobody ever pays attention to what he does. Maybe Steve is just going around and telling random people all of their airport stories. Bucky wouldn’t put it past him. 

By default, Bucky answers sarcastically. .

“Alrighty, I’ll check the phone book. Do you think his number will be under ‘C’ for Captain America, or ‘A’ for America comma Captain?”

James blinks owlishly at him. “What’s a phone book?”

Oh god.

Bucky feels old.

He simply shakes his head, not bothering to answer. Knowing he doesn’t really have a choice, since Sandra is off and this kind of falls under his villain duty, Bucky resorts to the knowledge that he kind of does have to call Steve. 

Bucky grumbles to himself as he pulls his phone back out, and starts to search for the text message JARVIS sent him with Steve’s contact information. Upon finding it, Bucky taps at the phone number and brings the phone up to his ear as it dials. 

To his surprise, it isn’t all that long before Steve picks up.

Rogers,” the familiar voice answers, sounding slightly out of breath. Odd.

“Hey, Rogers. It’s Barnes. Wanna come down to the airport? I have someone that’s here looking angry because I stole her blaster gun. And maybe also because I put her in airport jail.”

On the line, Steve chuckles. “Yeah, I’ll be there as soon as I can. I’m always happy to come to the airport and see you, doll.

Bucky rolls his eyes, probably should have been expecting something along those lines. “Alright, I’ll meet you by the terminal entrance. I’ve got to take you down a secret path to get to airport jail. See you in a few.”

Oh, a secret room. Color me intrigued.” 

 

 

It’s twenty minutes before Steve arrives, and Bucky used that time to look through the rest of the woman’s suitcase contents (he found an emerald catsuit and goggles), and to ask ill-advised questions. Bucky was slightly happy to find that his hunch about the Vegas plane ended up being correct, because he can now apparently predict when a villain could show up. That’ll be nice for the future.

Bucky’s leaning on the wall, watching as the dawn sunlight begins to peek through the sky when a sleek black car pulls up to the curb. The driver is instantaneously getting out of the car and opening the door to the backseat, where Steve steps out, smiling.

“Thanks, Happy,” he says to the driver, and turns to Bucky. “Is it okay if he stays here if he is in the car?” 

Bucky shrugs in answer, which seems to be enough for Steve. Rounding the corner, Bucky sees that Steve is dressed in a skin tight blue shirt, with the Captain America shield emblem plastered on the front, along with a pair of athletic shorts. Bucky raises an eyebrow in question, but Steve just shrugs. “I was running.”

Of course he was.  

“So, this woman was apparently going to hunt you down, but she was going to do it tomorrow, so she could get a nice block of sleep in beforehand. She needs her beauty sleep, you see,” Bucky explains, leading them back down the familiar path. 

“Hi to you too, Buck,” Steve greets with a smile.

Bucky shakes his head, but doesn’t bother to hide his own smile. 

When they get into the office, James immediately startles, blinking furiously. All the blinking can’t hide the obvious hero worship in his eyes, though.

“Hell—Hi, Captain Am—Steve,” he stutters out. Next to Bucky, Steve smiles, slightly amused. 

“Hello.”

James nods and falls back down onto his chair gracelessly. Apparently, he’s finished speaking to Steve. Bucky wants to face palm, but he manages to refrain. He turns back to face Steve and claps his hands together.

“Okay, so my boss has officially given me free reign to deal with this villain shit as I please, so there isn’t exactly a protocol here. Eileen here, who’s supervillain name is the Emerald Power, wants to blow you to smithereens with yet another of these blaster guns,” Bucky says, holding the gun in question up to Steve, “because, according to her, ‘nobody that hot should get to exist.’

Even before Bucky finishes his sentence, Steve is starting to chuckle. He purses his lips, trying to keep the full laughter at bay, but is still unable to keep short giggles from escaping his lips. He breathes in deeply to try and calm down.

“She wants to blow me to smithereens, because I’m too hot to exist?” Steve asks, even though that is literally what Bucky just told him. 

And then he gets the joke.

“Ha ha, Rogers. Stop corrupting the kid,” Bucky says, jutting a thumb over in James’ direction. James whines, but still doesn’t speak. Bucky wonders what it must be like to be able to render someone starstruck. He should ask Steve.

“I’m an innocent flower,” Steve declares, and then ruins it with a wink. “Think she’d recognize me if I went in there?” 

“Maybe she only thinks you’re hot when you’re wearing your Captain America suit,” Bucky muses.

Steve smirks. 

“Is that what you think too?”

Bucky pushes at Steve’s back, forcing him to take a couple of steps forward. “Just go in there. I’d really rather not be here all day.”

Steve turns around and faces Bucky, who shoves the blaster gun at his chest. Steve grasps at it, pouting slightly at Bucky not going in with him.

Bucky closes the door.

Once the door closes behind him, James can apparently speak again. “He’s so great.”

In the room, Eileen is looking at Steve with an appreciative glint in her eye. She leans backward on the chair, crosses her legs, and curls a strand of her hair around a finger. She has yet to look at Steve’s face, but Steve isn’t put off by it.

Steve actually doesn’t appear to notice. He’s currently fiddling with the gun, picking at the cheap neon paint that’s covering it.  

“Hello,” Eileen drawls, a smirk in her voice.

“Hi. I’m Steve.”

God, he’s so fucking awkward.

“So, you brought a blaster gun to the airport. Doesn’t seem very smart,” Steve begins, and Eileen shrugs nonchalantly.

“I need it for something.” 

Steve nods, turning the gun over in his hands. He grins. “Did you know that it wasn’t going to work?”

Immediately, Eileen’s flirty behavior twists into one of suspicion. Her eyes narrow and she leans forward onto the table, thinning her lips. “What?”

“Yeah. See, there’s absolutely no mechanism to get the laser to fire! I’ve got a friend, you see. He’s kinda smart. And he was complaining one day about this exact blaster model that he saw someone try and use a couple months back. He was honestly disappointed in whatever idiot manufactured the thing, because it would never work!” Steve explains, suddenly quite amused. 

Eileen’s brows furrow as she fixes her gaze on the gun in question. She shoots Steve a tight-lipped smile. “I suppose you’ve saved me quite some embarrassment. How thoughtful. I suppose I’ll need a better plan.”

“Plan to disable Captain America, right?” 

Eileen squints, watching Steve attentively. She doesn’t appear to be caught off-guard that he knows her mission, but rather suspicious that he knows. Which, she could easily just assume that Bucky had told him, but that’s also if she even remembers Bucky exists. She seems preoccupied with just Steve.

“Y’see, a lot of people have been coming to see me lately. All wanting to take me down for all different kinds of reasons. From thinking I was immortal, an alien, a robot, you name it. But your reason? That one is one of my favorites. I’m kind of flattered to be considered ‘too hot to exist’. I’m definitely going to have to save that one for the next time Tony is going on about how he’s the most attractive Avenger,” Steve muses.

Bucky’s grinning widely, highly amused at Steve right now, because he’s so fucking savage. Eileen is sitting in her chair completely slack-jawed because, like nearly every villain he’s encountered, she had absolutely no idea that Steve Rogers is the man behind Captain America. It’s almost as though they all think superheroes never take off their costumes, and who’s legal names are, for example, Captain America. 

“You set the bar too high,” Eileen mumbles, but she’s embarrassed. Steve, the man she was after, repeating her motive to her face, is apparently enough to make her feel silly.

Bucky’s having the time of his life. 

 

Bucky eyes the guy dressed up like a Power Ranger from across the baggage terminal, comparing him to the pictures from the image search displayed on his phone just for his peace of mind. 

“I can’t find my bag!” he exclaims from the far-left hand side of the baggage claim carousels. Bucky grins to himself, munching away on his apple, and waits for Power Ranger to come back to his podium. Which he does, exactly thirteen seconds later. 

“Where the hell is my bag?” he demands.. Bucky shrugs, trying to look innocent. It was very easy to spot the duffle bag with a neon pink ‘BAD THINGS INSIDE’ sign plastered on top of it, and since Power Ranger was distracted with the vending machine at the time, Bucky quickly snatched the bag and put it behind his podium. Ever since, Bucky has been sending the guy on a witch hunt for his bag as he waits for someone to come deal with him.

Technically this can be called ‘luggage theft’, but Bucky only has the best intentions in mind, and he doubts he will get in any trouble. After all, he’s become a pro at this. 

“I’m sorry, sir. I know that your bag is somewhere on these carousals, they just don’t tell me which one,” Bucky explains vehemently as he can. It isn’t true, because the bags could only ever be sent to one carousel. The plane sends them all up at once, so it’s highly unlikely that only one bag would just magically go to a different claim. 

Power Ranger crosses his arms and sighs.  “I guess I’ll keep looking." 

“You do that.”  Bucky grins brightly when Power Ranger trudges it back over to Baggage Claim 1, waiting for the only two suitcases there to make their rounds. Suitcase Hide-and-Seek is one of Bucky’s favorite ways to keep someone in the airport, because it never fails to amuse him.

Bucky could just as easily just take the guy to airport jail, but where’s the fun in that?

He’s taking another large bite from his apple and is watching Power Ranger stomp unhappily to the next Claim when he hears a familiar voice.

“Hiya Buck. You look nice today."

Bucky couldn’t imagine being so perky having to come to the airport every single week, but apparently, Steve Rogers doesn’t feel that way. He always shows up with the brightest grin, which is almost blinding to be honest.

And he flirts with Bucky. 

“Hi, Rogers.” Bucky greets, turning to face Steve, and looks at him for a minute, “Your shirt material looks decent.” He winces. Bucky Barnes: the king of compliments over here.

Steve beams at him as though he’d just said, ‘I love you’. Bucky rolls his eyes, nodding over at Power Ranger. “He’s looking for his luggage.”

Steve turns to look with him, planting himself directly next to Bucky and pressing their shoulders together. Steve is warm, and if Bucky relishes in that a little bit, then what of it?

“And where is his luggage?” Steve asks, breaking Bucky’s silent appreciation for the super serum’s “hot water bottle” feature. 

Bucky smirks, kicking the duffle bag onto Steve’s feet. Not expecting it, Steve jumps backwards. He squints at the neon message plastered on the bag, and gives Bucky an unimpressed look.

“’Bad things inside?’ I’m disappointed, and I kind of want to teach How to be a Villain classes. My head might not survive with all the face palms I put it through due to their stupidity. Also, are you even allowed to steal luggage? Because this is the best thing I’ve seen all day.”

Bucky opens his mouth to reply, but Power Ranger is stomping back over to them.  “Obviously, my suitcase is not here, so if you’d stop talking to your boyfriend and find it, that would be excellent. I need that bag for something I’m doing later,” he says, voice coming out slightly muffled from behind his helmet. Bucky can see Steve perk up at the word ‘boyfriend’ from the corner of his eyes.

“Actually, the strangest thing just happened. It was insane! I just looked at the ground, and right underneath my feet was this duffle bag!” Bucky exclaims picking the duffle from off the floor, “I wonder how it got there!”

Next to him, Steve is doing an awful job at trying to conceal his giggles.

Power Ranger moves to snatch the bag, but Bucky doesn’t let him reach it. “Nope. See, my friend here has somewhere he wants to take you.”

Steve leans forward with a mischievous grin. “How do you feel about taking a car ride with Captain America?”

“Captain America! He’s who I need to see! Where is he?”

“I’ll take you to him. Go meet me at the doors.” 

Power Ranger takes off, a spring in his step. Bucky shakes his head at the naivety, and turns to Steve, who is still standing next to him.

“Yes, Rogers?”

Steve rolls his eyes. “Can’t I just hang out for a minute? Wanna stretch the highlight of my day.” 

“You should go and deal with Power Ranger over there, he appears to be ranting at someone wearing a shirt with your shield,” Bucky says, nodding over to where Power Ranger is doing exactly that. Steve groans, banging his head on the top of Bucky’s podium. 

“Why can’t you give me a nicer present? Villains aren’t exactly what I ask for on my wish lists. Also, what is a Power Ranger?”

“You and me both, Rogers. Google can tell you what a Power Ranger is. Now shoo, I have to work.”

Steve pouts for a minute, sticking his bottom lip out, but Bucky’s glare doesn’t waver. “Buck, sometimes I get the feeling that you don’t like me very much.”  

Bucky looks to the ceiling, silently asking for strength. “I like you just fine. Go take the bad guy away.”

Steve grins happily. “Okay! I’ll see you next time!”  

Whenever Steve smiles with his teeth, Bucky thinks of Chip Skylark.

My shiny teeth and me.

Some days, Bucky thinks about what life was like before it got crazy. This is one of them. 

 

“I’m just saying. If I got to hang out with Steve Rogers every week, I wouldn’t be complaining,” Sam, Bucky’s self-declared best friend, says. “Especially if he was flirting with me! Bucky—you haven’t been seeing anyone since before I even knew you, so I think it’s high time for you to get some.”

Bucky rolls his eyes. He’s currently out with Sam at their go-to diner. They have a standing reservation here every Thursday night, Bucky’s day off, because Sam decided that they needed an entire meeting place for Bucky to rant about work. The diner itself is this hole-in-the wall place that’s been around since before Bucky was even born, but it’s quality has remained steady. There’s a pair of red booths with glass barriers on top of them to go with each table. The tile floor is checkered black and white, and the bar is made of black granite. Bucky likes to think of it as vintage

The meetings started a couple of months ago, when work had gotten exciting. Before? Bucky spent his shifts spinning around in his chair trying to keep himself entertained. In other words, not much to talk about. “Sam. I am not going to date Steve Rogers. He’s like, 90 years old now.”

Sam squints at him, shaking his head. “He’s twenty-five, and you know it. Ice years don’t count.”

“Good point—he’s like an excitable golden retriever. Someone referenced him as my boyfriend—a villain no less! —and you should have seen how he perked up. Reminds me of a dog and the word ‘walk,’” Bucky says.

“Well, if a villain thinks you should be together then it must be some kind of sign. Though, I’m not sure why Rogers would want to be around you, when you should be telling him all about me,” Sam says, gesturing at himself.

Bucky chuckles, shaking his head. “You want me to play matchmaker between you and Captain America? I dunno if that would work out.”

Sam huffs in indignation. “Well, if you keep shrugging off his flirting, I’ll step up. Just show up at your work, slide in between you two and say, ‘Ya like jazz?’ and then bam! Instant boyfriend.”

“I don’t think you’re supposed to take relationship cues from the Bee Movie, but definitely let me know if that line ever works for you.”

Sam simply grins in response, which is quite a strange sight since he’s sipping his milkshake at the same time. Bucky throws a fry at him. Direct hit: center of his forehead.

“I’ll have you know that it’s an excellent line. I’m sure if you used it on that star-spangled ass, he would be falling over himself to go out with you!” Sam exclaims. Animated movies are one of his friend’s most favorite things, so Bucky is pretty used to having to hear various references from them.

“I have to deal with villains at work now, Sam. I’m the Savior of the Airport, and that’s a pretty hefty job. I can’t be getting distracted by floppy blond hair, dorito torsos, or low flirty voices,” Bucky says, submerging a fry into his melted milkshake.

Sam smirks, looking as though someone just told him their most embarrassing preschool story. He gets to experience a lot of those first hand, since he’s a preschool teacher. Bucky doesn’t like that expression very much. “Buddy, I think you’re already distracted by those things.”

Bucky scoffs, and curses the fact that Sam knows him so well. Even after just two years, Sam is the one person that knows Bucky the best out of anyone. They met shortly after Bucky returned from his last tour at the VA. Sam was also attending the group session, and he was an easy presence for Bucky, who might have been just a bit timid. “Well, maybe. But Rogers doesn’t know that.”

“You think he’s pretty! My little Bucky has a crush,” Sam says, wiping an imaginary tear, “I’m so proud.” 

Bucky rolls his eyes. “I’m older than you, and taller than you, so I can’t be your little anything.”

“Just promise me one thing.”

Bucky raises an eyebrow, silently allowing him to go on.

“If Captain America becomes your boyfriend, you have to promise me that you’ll get him to introduce me to Tony Stark.” 

 

Not every shift at the airport has exciting villains that come in for Bucky to mess with. Without them, Bucky’s usually bored, but he still has to keep a watchful eye out for any villain that might show up. So, he can’t make like his coworkers in the other terminals and sleep on the job. Apparently being the Savior of the Airport includes paying even more attention than he normally would have.

That’s a lie. Despite Bucky’s exterior behavior, he really does care about his job. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t still be working here. Especially since the Battle of New York, which alone has determined that pretty much anything can happen. Gods? Aliens? Brotherly feuds that destroy a city? Anything. Bucky likes to think he does his part by at least trying to keep the baggage claim areas safe.

Which, to him, is a big part.

Regardless, some days are just slow. Bucky generally works the night shift, which ranges from 10pm-6am. Not very many people take such a late flight on the weekend unless they have to, so Bucky’s company is usually just with the piano that plays music by itself. They’re good friends, him and the piano.

To help pass the time, Bucky has elected to take up soap carving. He’s seen some pretty great soap ducks, ones he’s mistaken for actual rubber ducks, and he’s decided that he wants one. He’s an expert with a knife, he can twirl and throw one with great accuracy, so he figures that using a knife to carve a yellow duck from a block of soap should be simple. After all, all he have to do is follow the shape of a rubber duck, and be delicate with the soap, right?

Wrong.  

Turns out, soap carving is difficult. Because apparently, you need artistic skill to be able to do it well (and maybe a carving knife).

He has a google image search of rubber ducks up on the ancient work computer, but Bucky has found that his block of soap is too small to be carved with simple moves. With the size of the soap bar he has? His duck is going to be tiny. He absolutely refuses to give up on it though. He really wants a duck and he’s really bored. The next flight doesn’t arrive for another hour.

His podium is littered with soap shavings, but he’d like to point out that he’s still awake. When Bucky walked through terminals H and I a couple hours ago, both of the baggage claim security employees were asleep. His soap duck currently looks like a triangle melded with a rectangle. He has another bar of soap in his podium cabinet, but Bucky will get this to look like a damn duck or so help him. It should not be this difficult! 

The triangle head breaks off.

Shit!” Bucky exclaims frustratedly, throwing the rectangle piece of the soap at the wall. Directly next to a tall man with a mop of blond hair, who looks awfully surprised. Well, at least Bucky didn’t hit him in the face. Would that have counted as defacing a national icon? Bucky wouldn’t want to go to jail for that.

“What did you just throw at me?” Steve asks, striding over to him, a cup of coffee in each hand. Bucky blinks at him in confusion. He knows that he didn’t call to get Steve sent down here, because there is no villain in the airport’s vicinity. 

“What are you doing here?”

Steve shrugs, holding one of the cups of coffee out to Bucky. “Answer my question first.”

Bucky rolls his eyes, taking the cup and setting it down before bending under the podium to fetch his second bar of soap. “I threw soap at you. I was trying to carve a duck out of soap, and the head snapped off.”After unwrapping the new bar, Bucky moves to carve it, but stops when Steve chuckles. He glances up to him and sees a highly-amused expression on Steve’s face.

“Doll, if you’re going to carve soap, it might be a good idea to use a bar that doesn’t have the word Dial already carved into it.”

Bucky huffs, looking down and allowing his hair to curtain his face so Steve can’t see the blush that quickly paints his cheeks at the name. 

“Shut up,” Bucky grumbles, despite knowing very well that Steve was right, “You didn’t say why you’re here?” 

Bucky starts carving off the edges of the soap, and it’s a few minutes before he notices that Steve still hasn’t said anything. Glancing up at him, Bucky sees Steve’s eyes transfixed on the hand Bucky’s using to handle the knife. He raises an eyebrow.

“Like soap, Rogers?” 

Steve blinks several times before matching Bucky’s gaze. “Soap is okay. Makes me smell nice. But I like you more. You can work a knife so… artistically.”

Well. Bucky wasn’t expecting Steve to be so forward. The guy just keeps surprising him. 

“If I was truly artistic, I would be able to carve a damn soap duck,” he mutters, returning to the action at hand. Next to him, Steve chuckles. One of his hands creeps into Bucky’s eyesight.

“Want me to try? I’ll carve you a pretty duck, Buck.” Certain that Steve sure as hell won’t be able to carve a duck any better than Bucky with those big ass hands, he hands him the soap bar and the knife. Grinning, Steve immediately starts shedding the Dial engraving away from the soap with very careful hands. After which he begins to round out the soap into something he can work with.

Bucky scowls, having been proven wrong. Apparently, Steve knows how to carve a bar of soap. “Does the serum just make you able to do anything, or have you actually carved a bar of soap before?” Bucky asks, watching as Steve delicately makes an indentation into the bar to begin the shape of the head.

Steve chuckles. “This is the first time I’ve carved soap before. Honestly, I didn’t know it was a thing people did until I saw you trying.”

Bucky rolls his eyes, because of course he didn’t

“Here, I’ll explain how I’m bullshitting my way through this,” Steve says, walking around the podium to stand directly next to Bucky. They’re so close. Bucky can feel Steve’s heat through their shirts, and goddamn is he a furnace. Thank you, serum.  

“You can’t press too hard into the soap. You have a tiny amount to work with, and a pretty sharp knife. There’s not as much room for mistake than if you were carving a piece of metal, or something. Also, I’m not sure why you started with something so complicated as a duck, when you could have just carved a ‘B’ easily, but oh well,” Steve murmurs, outlining the shape of the duck.

“I just wanted a duck,” Bucky mumbles, crossing his arms over his chest. He might be pouting just a little, because he doesn’t understand why this is so difficult. Yes, more research could have been done, and he could have looked up tutorials or tips, but he thought he’d be fine

“You know, if you wanted a yellow duck, they sell these things at the grocery store. I think they call them rubber ducks. You keep ‘em around and they don’t disintegrate when they’re put in water for long periods of time,” Steve teases. 

Bucky rolls his eyes, finally taking a sip from his coffee, now having gone lukewarm. Funny enough, it’s exactly what Bucky would normally order for himself. Either Steve somehow knew that, or he’s just a really good guesser. Bucky isn’t complaining. Coffee is always good (and it isn’t airport coffee so. Bonus). 

They sit quietly together while Steve continues to sculpt a duck. It actually ends up turning out very well (not that anybody’s surprised). It’s almost exactly like one of those ducks Bucky would have mistaken for rubber. If Bucky didn’t already know he hadn’t, he probably would have thought Steve had done this loads of times before. 

After he is happy with the final touches of wing details, Steve holds the duck out to Bucky with the brightest grin. “Here’s that duck you wanted.” 

Bucky takes it from him gently, not wanting to break the head off again. “Thanks, Stevie.”

Steve’s face somehow manages to brighten even further, which Bucky didn’t think was even possible. The corners of his eyes crinkle a bit, and his mouth is pulled into a toothy grin. “You gave me a nickname!” he cheers.

It’s intriguing every time Bucky sees Steve go from talking with this sharp mouth to an excited puppy. It would be completely strange on any other person, because only Steve could manage to be both at the same time. Bucky just shrugs at him, but he can’t help but appreciate a Happy Steve. “So, you’re just going to hang out here? It’s boring, you know. Also, why are you awake so early?” Bucky questions from behind his coffee cup. 

Steve’s face kind of closes off at the question, but when Bucky moves to retract the questions, Steve shakes his head and begins to speak. “I was asleep for seventy years, you know. It wasn’t long after I was defrosted that the Battle of New York happened, so my head’s been kind of busy. Sometimes sleeping is just difficult. And I, uh, thought you might be here,” Steve answers, looking down and speaking to the duck in Bucky’s hand.

Bucky blinks a few times, having not expected an answer like that at all. From the time they’ve known each other, they’ve never really delved into the real stuff. Their interactions thus far have been very superficial: banter, teasing, lighthearted conversation. He has a feeling that Steve doesn’t really talk about this a lot, what with how he was looking at the soap duck when he said it.

“Um. Have you thought about going to the VA? Or your organization probably has someone, too. I know your experiences are… unique, but I’ve found that it’s pretty helpful.” 

Steve nods thoughtfully. “I was originally paired up with someone from SHIELD, but it didn’t really work out. It was a very clinical setting—I felt like I was being examined the whole time. But I can look into the VA.” He turns the duck over in his hands, studying it. Bucky looks down at the duck along with him, searching for something to say, when Steve speaks again. “Wait. You served?” 

Bucky blinks. “I did, I was in the army for three tours as a sniper. I started working at the airport shortly after I got back. It was nice, having something to do.” He glances back up to Steve, giving him a half smile. Steve appears to be happy that Bucky shared about himself. They sit in silence for a moment, until Steve clears his throat. “So, uh, when’s the next flight coming in?”  

Bucky notices the obvious way that Steve tries to change the subject, but he isn’t going to call him out on it. It meant a lot that Steve felt he could talk to Bucky even some. He glances over to the arrivals/departures screen, seeing that the next arrival is due in twenty minutes, and he relays the information to Steve. 

“So, your job is to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior and to answer people’s questions about baggage claim?” Steve asks curiously. Bucky looks to him from the corner of his eyes. 

“Yes, and if some whacko villain shows up, it’s going to be your fault by association,” Bucky declares. 

“By association?!” Steve exclaims, sounding adorably offended. 

“Yeah. Your patriotic aura is probably sending messages to all the bad villains in the vicinity, telling them to come to the New York Airport. Because the good villains wouldn’t have to fly coach, of course.”

Steve huffs. “My patriotic ass takes offense to that.”  

“I said nothing about your patriotic ass,” Bucky says, raising an eyebrow. Steve shoots him a cocky grin. 

“Maybe you shoulda.” 

“That doesn’t even make sense. Why are you like this? I thought I was supposed to be in awe of the great Captain America.” 

Steve chuckles, shaking his head. “Nobody was in awe of me after they saw me in that costume during the Battle of New York. Did you know that it wasn’t even a legit uniform?” 

“Steve. That outfit looked like a child’s Halloween costume. I’m very well aware that it had no ability to protect you at all. Honestly, I’m not quite sure how an alien didn’t figure that out.” 

Steve shudders, probably remembering the horrors of having to wear a uniform like that. Bucky can’t imagine. He still remembers how horrible it was to be dressed up like Superman in a similarly designed Halloween costume when he was seven. Not comfortable. 

“Yeah, well. If you’re an alien who only functions through a connection to a spaceship, then you’re not likely to be very smart.” 

Point. 

The passengers arriving from Ohio trudge through the door, all of them sporting very similar expressions of unhappiness. Another reason why Bucky enjoys the night shift is because absolutely none of these people want him to be perky and annoying. They’re tired, and they just want to get to wherever it is they’re going. Bucky’s sure they only have the attention span to find their luggage and to find their transportation.

“They look like zombies,” Steve whispers dramatically. Bucky chuckles, because even though they do resemble zombies, he did not expect Steve to make that connection. 

“How do you know about zombies?”   

Steve smirks. “Buck, I know about everything. For example, did you know that when you’re carving a bar of soap, it’s a good idea to use a carving knife?”

Bucky feels like he’s being called out.

He would like to repeat: why is Steve like this? 

Bucky throws soap shedding at him. 

 

The airport is quiet. The only noises to keep Bucky company is the familiar tune of the self-playing piano and the occasional monotone PA announcements informing people of random pieces of information. Bucky has learned to tune that voice out, though he could probably match the exact tone and mood of it if he tried.  

Currently, Bucky is attempting to complete the newspaper’s crossword page—his newfound hobby he picked up after ultimately deciding to give up soap carving. It’s simple, and he can’t really screw it up like he kept doing with the soap. If he doesn’t know the word, he will just key in the definition into the ancient computer and it will eventually (after twenty minutes) tell him the answer. No need to throw the crossword page at walls out of sheer frustration. 

Though, despite Bucky giving up carving soap, Steve still hasn’t. He’s shown up to Bucky’s shifts twice this week on his own account (he even bought a fucking replica of Bucky’s uncomfortable chair with him to sit on) with backpacks full of different blocks of soap and a carving knife. Bucky looked at him like he was crazy, but he just sat down and started carving ducks, looking like there was no place else he’d rather be.

With each duck Steve finished (all of which were varying in shape, size, color, and expression), he would casually hand it to Bucky. As though he wasn’t making Bucky these tiny little duck presents. He even carved a Captain America duck (it’s large and it’s blue, with a super dorky face and a tiny shield on its back. It’s Bucky’s favorite and is the only duck he’s brought home with him).

The other ducks Steve’s made him sit on Bucky’s podium, and he’s made it clear that nobody is to move them during shifts Bucky isn’t there.

You could say that he’s keeping all his ducks in a row

Bucky glances up at clock on the wall, happily seeing that it’s nearly time for Sam to arrive. By some miracle, Bucky whined enough about airport food that Sam offered to bring him something warm and real, just to get Bucky to shut up about it. It is for this reason that Sam is Bucky’s best friend.

Friends who bring each other food are friends for life, according to Bucky—Sam thinks that a friend who helps out on show-and-tell day at preschool is a friend for life, but Bucky disagrees with that statement. Because no true friend would make anybody suffer through show-and-tell day.

The sliding doors open, revealing a disgruntled Sam wearing sweatpants and a giant shirt, carrying a bag of food from Noodles Emporium. Bucky loves noodles. He knows that Sam is deathly tired, because it’s three in the goddamn morning, and he wanted to be sleeping. But Bucky’s text spamming skills are strong when he wants noodles. And Sam is the only person he knows that drives a car.

“Here’s your damn food,” Sam announces, handing the bag over to Bucky, who grabs at it eagerly. Once he’s free of the bag, Sam drops his head onto the edge of the podium and groans tiredly. Bucky’s already forking a string of noodles into his mouth when Sam’s groan abruptly cuts off. He slowly lifts his head, but keeps his gaze fixed on the podium.

“Why are there like a thousand ducks right there? That smell like soap?”

Bucky is a polite man, so he waits until his mouth is empty before answering. “They’re soap ducks, Sam. And there’s only about twenty-three of them.”

“None of that tells me why you have twenty-three soap ducks, Barnes,” Sam says, rolling his eyes to the ceiling.

Bucky sighs. “Steve carved ‘em.” 

At that, Sam’s cloudy expression melts away into something extremely teasing and excited, as though Bucky had just dropped noodles on his shirt or something.  

Steve, huh. You neglected to inform me that you were speaking to him outside of villain encounters. Or that he was bringing you trinkets to woo you.” 

“He is not wooing me. We’re friends,” Bucky mumbles, and he did not do a very good job of making that sound believable. Even though it’s the truth.  

“You have absolutely no idea, do you?” Sam asks, shaking his head in both amusement and disbelief. Bucky tips his head back with a groan, because he was sure that Sam had forgotten about this crazy ass idea. 

“He’s being pretty obvious about it, too. Keeps hanging around you despite how difficult you can be, he makes you soap ducks that you then keep, he’s given you a nickname of your nickname! Most importantly, he comes to the airport even when there isn’t a bad guy, which is crazy, because who else do you know that just willingly drives to the airport, Bucky?” Sam asks, waving his hands around as he speaks to emphasize his point. 

Because Bucky has noodles hanging out of his mouth, he just weakly gestures at Sam as an answer to the final question. 

“No, that is not the same, because I am here to avoid the thousands of ‘I want noodles, Samuel’ texts I would have kept on getting.”

Having Sam lay it out yet again, so thoroughly, is apparently all that’s necessary to get the idea to wedge itself into Bucky’s head more permanently. It isn’t that Bucky hasn’t considered before—especially since Steve flirts with him all the time, but why would it happen? Steve’s an Avenger—the new number one sought after man in the world, and Bucky is a vet working at the airport. It would be the strangest matchup.

“Sam, it wouldn’t work,” Bucky protests. 

Sam shrugs, grinning. “I dunno. I’d be worried about my Best Friend title, but something tells me that he’s gonna take up the role as Boyfriend.” 

“You say weird things when you’re tired.” 

“Yeah, yeah. We will see! Goodbye, dear, have fun at work!” Sam says, backing away with an overexcited wave. 

Once Sam has left, Bucky pulls out his phone. 

TO: Star Spangled Ass [2:36am]:

Why are people so weird?

 

3:21am. 

Essentially the middle of his shift. It’s been a very slow evening—essentially none of the flights have been even nearly full. Of the people who were on the flights, not very many of them had checked any bags, so they just go straight past baggage claim and out to pick up. Bucky isn’t having to run the carousels for very long, and he finds himself bored.  There are two more arrivals for his terminal until he’s off of work, and they’re fairly spread out. Without things to keep track of, to do, Bucky has to come up with jobs for himself. He knows there’s always the walkthrough of the terminals, to see how many of his coworkers are sleeping on the job, to randomly talk into his radio, but Bucky’s managed to find the one comfortable position in his chair. Something that never happens, so he’s got to take advantage of it while he can. 

He is jolted from his position by a loud mantra of quacking sounds. Steve’s designated ringtone. 

FROM: Star Spangled Ass [3:23am]

I’m bored 

Bucky rolls his eyes, disappointed about the fact that he will never find that sweet spot of comfort in his chair ever again. He’s never been able to in all the years he’s worked at the airport, so there isn’t much hope. At the same time, Bucky feels slightly giddy over the fact that Steve thought to text him just because. 

Glancing around him, Bucky finds that there is still nothing going on. No people around, no sounds of footsteps, nothing. Prime time to answer a text from America’s Sweetheart. 

TO: Star Spangled Ass [3:25am]

thats funny, me too. also, your text spooked me out from being comfy

What can he say? He’s bitter. 

FROM: Star Spangled Ass [3:25am]

The horror! 

Bucky figures that no words can express how unamused he is with Steve, so he decides to take a picture of what Sam has deemed his ‘someone just pissed in my cornflakes’ expression: furrowed brows, drastically narrowed eyes, and the corners of his lips slightly downturned into a frown. Happy with the result, Bucky grins and sets his phone back on his podium. He looks over at the arrivals screen, noting that there’s a delay with one of the upcoming flights. Bucky groans internally, because delays are not limited to any certain time. It could just be a thirty minute delay, or the flight could be delayed until tomorrow. Bucky is never sure when to expect the plane until it actually leaves the airport, thus making his job slightly more frustrating. He likes knowing when things are coming. 

Bucky’s phone quacks. 

The text from Steve is a cartoon drawing of Bucky’s selfie, similar to the kinds of drawings Bucky has seen done at Coney Island with the very large heads. Only, instead of his features being large and exaggerated, they are drawn small and scrunched in the middle of the face. 

There is absolutely no way Bucky can stop the laughter that bubbles up, nor can he look away from the drawing. It’s completely ridiculous, and it might just be his favorite thing. He saves it, and taps on his photo collage app. Bucky lines the selfie up with the drawing, while a few more chuckles escape from his lips. He sends the comparison photo to Sam, though it’s unlikely he will reply for a couple more hours. Sam needs to know that Steve Rogers is an ass. 

TO: Star Spangled Ass [3:34am]

I know I should be insulted, but this is the greatest picture of myself I think I’ve ever seen 

FROM: Star Spangled Ass [3:36am]

I really tried to capture the essence that is Bucky Barnes 

Seeing that there’s about twelve minutes until the next plane arrives, Bucky decides to draw a picture of Steve, drawing the picture of Bucky. He pulls a random piece of scrap paper from the drawer and tries to envision what Steve looked like when he drew the picture. He was probably giggling to himself, probably had to bite his lip to keep a steady hand. Maybe he was wrapped in a blanket burrito, despite that probably making drawing difficult. 

Steve looks like a total dork in a blanket burrito and giggling to himself as he draws Bucky, at least according to his own cartoony drawing. For extra flavor, Bucky draws a several bars of soap in a pile at the foot of the couch Steve is drawn on. 

Bucky is glad for the year he tried to learn to draw, because the sketch comes out pretty alright. He quickly takes a picture and sends it to Steve with the caption ‘Have I captured the essence of Steve Rogers?’ 

He slips his phone back into his pocket, as he only ever has it out while the airport is dead. Never when there are people around. 

Unless he’s calling Steve about a Situation, that is. 

Since the program that matches flight arrivals to baggage claim carousels is already up and running, it’s quick for Bucky to see which ones to prepare for activation. It takes roughly a million years for the machines to start up, and then it takes longer for the luggage to actually arrive at the claims. Bucky’s learned that there’s no sense in starting the machines until about the passengers actually come through the doors, no matter how much he wants to help make it all quick and painless. 

It’s always going to be a slow process. 

Once people begin to file into the doors, Bucky begins to scan each of them. He makes a mental note regarding the excitable child trying to run ahead of her parents, because there’s a chance she runs from them as they wait for their luggage. Both parents seem quite attentive for this time of night, but you can never tell. 

Nothing else draws his eye, and Bucky starts up the machine. The loud ringing sound of the carousel causes several people to jump, and a few of them cringe when the metal plates of the machine begin to circle around. They aren’t the greatest two sounds in the world, to be fair. 

When the chute of the claim starts to spit out luggage, people start filing away slowly. There aren’t many people there to begin with, but a couple of them still come to Bucky with questions. Each issue is resolved simply, save for the woman who was upset that the large blue bow on top of her suitcase strap got lost in translation. She had been grumbling about how she’s going to have to make her bag look pretty again. Bucky assured her that her bag looked very nice. 

Two bags, one black and one yellow, continue to make their rounds in the carousel, despite there not being anybody around to claim them. Bucky hops off of his chair and removes both bags from the carousel, wheeling both of them next to his podium. If the bags aren’t claimed within the hour, he will start looking into contacting the owner. He pulls his phone from his pocket, smiling at the three text messages from Steve. When Bucky is about to tap on the messages app, he hears the door slide open. 

Bucky puts his phone back, and looks over to find a man dressed in a large bumblebee costume…stuck in the door. Grey jeans stick out from the large bee body that make up the man’s torso. Protruding from the arm holes is a teal and maroon striped sleeved shirt, and the man wears a yellow and black knit hat with antennas sticking from the top. He’s grumbling angrily about how it was ‘already a pain to sit in this costume on the plane for three hours’ and how he did not account for the width of doors when he was planning this whole thing out. 

Bucky has to purse his lips in order to refrain from laughing outright. Knowing that he shouldn’t, but not wanting to pass up the opportunity, Bucky grabs his phone and switches it to the camera. As the bee guy keeps trying to wedge himself through the door, Bucky quickly takes a picture of him, aiming it so it’s obvious the guy is stuck in the door. 

TO: Star Spangled Ass [3:43am]

JPG.0297

I like big butts and I cannot lie

“The fuck? Did you just take my picture?” Bee guy does not look happy right now. Shit. 

“I’m sorry, sir. I was, ah, taking a picture of the costume? My sister hasn’t been able to find a bee costume she likes for her kid,” Bucky stammers, knowing full well his answer was shit. From the look on Bee’s face, he knew it too. Double shit. 

“I can’t have anyone see my photo. It’s going to ruin my anonymous advantage for something I have to do tomorrow!” He makes more of an effort to get through the door, and Bucky realizes that he’s about to have a Situation on his hands. Because of course the guy dressed in a giant bumblebee costume is here for Steve. Having mastered the ability to text without looking at his phone screen, Bucky texts Steve. 

TO: Star Spangled Ass [3:45am]

Steev iv got one of ur villains here. Van’t mids him. 

“Are you going to a costume party?” Bucky asks in attempt to buy himself time. The guy still looks pretty peeved. 

He scoffs, shaking his head and deciding to focus on getting himself through the door. Upon doing so, he gives a loud whoop of victory and turns toward Bucky, eyes landing on the luggage next to him. Honestly, Bucky would be pretty okay with just letting the guy leave, because he’s probably harmless and Bucky’s found himself in a corner, unsure of how to proceed. 

Only, when Beellian (bee + villain = beellian? Yeah?) takes his bags, he unzips the smaller yellow one, pulling out a giant pot from a plastic wrapping. Plastered on the apex of the pot is the word ‘Beeyoncé’. This is too good, honestly. 

“I think you’re gonna give me your phone,” he says cockily. 

Bucky raises an eyebrow, unimpressed. “Why? Because you have a large pot, Beeyoncé?” 

“A large pot of honey, which I am not afraid to use. I have enough.” 

This tells Bucky exactly what he needs to know, but he decides to confirm it. “What? Does your suitcase have another pot of honey?” 

Both suitcases, yes,” he says happily, and then turns serious, “So that’s why you should just hand over that phone.” 

Bucky nods slowly, one hand reaching into his pocket while the other reaches down and grabs the black suitcase. When he has hold on the suitcase, Bucky does the only thing he can think of to slide out of this situation and stall until Steve gets here. 

Bucky runs away, stealing someone’s suitcase. 

Sandra probably won’t be happy with him if word gets out about this. 

Behind him, Bucky hears a surprised yelp before footsteps come thundering after him. Bucky runs down the main hallway, passing check in desks, elevators, and regular TSA screenings. He gives the polite nod to the TSA agent working the front, Evelyn, who looks extremely bewildered when she returns the nod. 

In the clear of anyone else, Bucky pulls his phone out and taps on Steve’s contact. 

“Buck?” 

Bucky cuts a corner, peering around it to see Beeyoncé the Beellian coming closer. Bucky gets onto the escalator. “Heya, Steve. Are you gonna be here soon?” he asks casually. 

“Uh, yeah? Like ten to fifteen minutes? Why?” Steve asks, apparently confused. 

“Okay, cool. I’ll try to circle back to my terminal by then. I’m kinda getting chased? If you see the guy in a giant bee costume, he’s the one.” Bucky looks behind him, seeing Beeyoncé climbing the escalator. Out of time. “Okay, Steve, gotta go!” 

“Wait, Bucky—“ He hangs up the phone, stopping at the top of the escalator and trying to decide where exactly he wants to go. 

He remembers. It’s the perfect

Something warm and goopy hits him on the ass. 

“Please, no.” The pungent smell of honey floods his nose, and Bucky knows that Beeyoncé just hit him on his ass with a handful of honey. 

Sandra will literally kill him if he’s the reason the airport gets covered in honey. He’s gotta hurry. Luckily for him, one of the outside terminals is under construction, because they’re widening the roads for pick up and exit as well as adding another parking garage. There’s no access to anybody but construction workers, which means nobody else will be around to be put in the crossfire of honey throwing. 

He hops on the escalator going down, jogging down the steps and taking care not to trip and fall down on his face. Another glob of honey hits him on his back. 

“Fucking hell!” Bucky exclaims, immediately cutting right to head down towards the Delta Airlines terminals. He has to run through three Delta blocks in order to get to the elevator that will bring him down to where Southwest Airlines terminal construction is. 

“Stop…! Running…!” 

Bucky’s pretty sure there’s some sort of angelic spotlight shining on the elevator, and to his surprise, the doors are opening immediately after he presses the call button. He quickly presses the button to the Lower Level, and then scans for the Close Door button. 

There isn’t one. But of course. 

Bucky backs into the back side of the elevator, hoping that Beeyoncé doesn’t catch up in time. A high pitched squeak penetrates the quiet area of the airport, signaling that the doors are beginning to close. 

Finally. 

There’s the beginnings of a relieved grin on his face when the distinct bee costume clouds the elevator. Since there isn’t enough space for him to get into the elevator, Beeyoncé settles for throwing honey. 

Right in Bucky’s face. 

The doors close, and Bucky slowly brings a hand up and wipes his face of honey. Using his other hand, Bucky shoots off a text to Steve telling him to meet them in the construction area of the airport instead of the regular terminal. He wills himself not to think about the honey seeping into his clothes and sticking to his face, and instead to focus on handling this villain as quickly and as efficiently as possible. 

The doors slide open, beeping softly to signify the arrival. Greeting him is a sight which looks like the aftermath of the airport being hit by a meteor. There’s groups of broken up pieces of concrete everywhere, the beginnings of an unsteady structure wavering above him, and the entire place is covered with white dust due to the destruction of the original setup. 

Bucky walks out into the main clearing and shakes out his hands. Though nobody is here, the bright light stands are lit up still, for the sake of the other drivers. One of Bucky’s hands is sticky with dried honey, which will not come off no matter how much he tries to wipe it on his uniform. Or on Beeyoncé’s suitcase. Bucky places the suitcase behind one of the large piles of broken concrete, not wanting any more pots of honey to get into the guy’s grasp. 

Quickly, Bucky scans the area for anything that he might be able to use to his advantage, but not to do any sort of damage. 

Contrary to popular belief, TSA employees are given jack shit in terms of defense weapons. On his person, Bucky’s got a radio and a keycard with his awful employee photo on it. He doesn’t carry a baton, taser, or gun of any kind. Even the mall cops are more equipped than he is to handle issues. 

The elevator doors trudge open, and Beeyoncé wedges his giant suit through the doors before they’re completely open. He huffs in frustration, stumbling forward when there is enough room for him and his suit to go through the door. Luckily for him, he manages to catch himself before he drops the pot of honey. 

“I feel like I’m in a deserted rodeo, and you ’n me are gonna have a showdown,” Beeyoncé comments, grinning at the prospect. Bucky rolls his eyes. 

“There is absolutely no reason that we have to do anything.” 

“I know you’re up to something. Why the hell else would we go running all across the airport, and why would you lead me to the most deserted place on site?” He doesn’t give Bucky the chance to respond before he’s speaking again. “It doesn’t matter. I’m dropping the honey,” the pot shatters, the honey spreading onto the ground, “and we are going to do some nice hand-to-hand. I’m gonna grab your phone, and have you ready for whoever you have coming so I’ll be able to bargain my way out of here nicely.” 

Though Bucky is surprised at the sudden change from throwing honey to hand-to-hand combat, he doesn’t show it. Instead, he raises an eyebrow and simply says:

“Sure you don’t want to take off the bumblebee costume first?” 

The man in the large bumblebee costume starts charging towards him, which is as hilarious as you’d expect. A chuckle escapes Bucky’s lips, but it is short lived because he immediately sets himself up for defensive blocking. He’s completely aware that the entire exchange on his part needs to be blocking, because he has absolutely no grounds to make an attack. That would just make things much messier than they already are. 

Beeyoncé is momentarily surprised at the fluidity of Bucky’s blocks, because although he is quick to move both his arms and legs, Bucky is able to keep up easily. He likely thought Bucky was inexperienced, but that doesn’t stop him from continuing. 

One thing he does have, however, is his costume. He utilizes the thick plushy body by ramming against Bucky. This knocks him off balance for just enough time to land a few jabs to Bucky’s stomach. 

Not wanting to block hits for the rest of the night, especially when he still has arrivals to handle, Bucky starts walking the both of them towards the pool of honey from where Beeyoncé dropped the pot. Once there, it doesn’t take long before he loses his footing and slips backwards on the spilled honey, the large plushy ass of the bee costume breaking his fall. 

“This was fun,” Bucky says brightly. “I’d like to know though; what’s your motive behind dressing like a bee to go after Captain America?” 

Beeyoncé blinks in surprise. “Um. I figured that if I threw enough honey at him, it would slow him down enough to…” 

“To?” 

At this, the guy flushes. “I actually hadn’t thought that far? I just know that he’s the hot topic right now, so surely having him around could be nothing but good for me.” 

This is certainly a first for Bucky. Every one of these people that have come through for Captain America have had some sort of motive, even as lame as they have all been. But this guy is doing all of this without a motive more tangible than for publicity. 

Only, Bucky remembers something. 

“If you want publicity, why did it matter if I had your picture?” 

Beeyoncé sighs, and pulls himself together enough to begin an explanation, which Bucky figures must be complicated and difficult to follow. After all, it doesn’t seem like the guy had put together a plan very well. Bucky holds a hand up to stop him from speaking. He should probably have stopped trying to understand why these people do anything, but curiosity always gets the best of him. “I’ll give you props for the name and for the costume, though.” 

Beeyoncé the Beellain sighs, laying on the ground (difficult to do in a giant bee costume) obviously done with the day. Bucky can relate, because he too has to sit in honey-covered clothes for much longer than he would like. 

Seeing that the guy has no apparent plans to move anytime soon, Bucky chooses a nice chair of broken concrete to sit on, and pulls out a lollipop from his pocket to munch on to pass the time. He figures that Beeyoncé will probably just get off scot-free, since it’s unlikely he’s going to go through with the plan. Steve’s guys will probably just do some questioning or something along those lines. 

He imagines that perhaps there’s a designated group of special agents that got stuck handling these villains that come through—questioning them and filling out paperwork for a premeditated plan that hadn’t actually happened. Bucky should ask Steve. Maybe it’s like a mother telling her child ‘Don’t even think about it!’, and it works because the kid is scared. 

“Are we just going to sit here all day?” 

Bucky blinks and checks the clock on his phone. 4:53am. Only about an hour until he can head home, and the last arrival should be around in twenty minutes, assuming it’s still on time. 

A quiet ding interrupts his thoughts. 

Bucky! Are you okay? Are you hurt? What the hell?” Steve questions, running towards him with the damn Captain America shield up and ready. 

Bucky does a face palm. “Yes, Steve. I’m just fine. You, on the other hand—why the hell would you bring the shield?” 

Steve looks at Bucky in confusion, projecting the question, ‘Why wouldn’t I?’ and Bucky decides to wait him out. He can see the moment of realization, because his brows relax and he glances hesitantly at the guy dressed like a bee in the honey. “I didn’t think about that when I got your call. I thought you were in trouble.” 

Despite how warm Bucky feels at the thought of Steve caring enough about him to rush to the airport with his shield, it still wasn’t the brightest idea. 

“Bucky. Do you have honey on your face?” Steve asks, amusement flooding his tone. 

Beeyoncé laughs smugly. 

“Shut up, Steve.” 

 

Steve had apparently wrangled one of the Special Agent guys to show up at the airport in order to handle Beeyoncé, so he could help Bucky out if he needed to. Even though Bucky ended up not being injured at all, because he knows how to hold his own, Steve decided to stick around anyways. 

Bucky had to store the shield under his podium, because Steve didn’t want to send it with Agent. The thing is huge. 

“You still don’t have to stay,” Bucky repeats for probably the third time. Steve’s in one of the small airport chairs next to him, and the arrival of people are about to come through the door. He’s probably bored. 

“I beelieve I’m perfectly fine right where I am, honey,” Steve says happily. 

Okay. Full disclosure, Bucky wants Steve’s bee jokes to go away. Since there wasn’t enough time after the walk from the construction zone to Bucky’s baggage claim terminal, Bucky has to handle his final arrival with honey-soaked clothes and a sticky face. Giving Steve prime opportunity to use all of the bee puns he apparently knows. 

“So where’s the flight coming from? Stingapore?” 

“I don’t like you anymore,” Bucky declares. 

“You should bee a little less stingy with your affections, Bucky.” 

Steve is enjoying the hell out of this, which is a sharp contrast from how Steve was once he got out of the elevator tonight. Bucky hadn’t ever seen him worried before. Even after the fact, he gave Bucky a once over to try and locate any possible injuries. He told Bucky that next time, he shouldn’t engage because one of these people could end up being very dangerous and armed, no matter how silly they look. Appearances can be deceiving. 

“I’m going to hit you on your head with your shield,” Bucky threatens emptily, and Steve barks a laugh, until his expression morphs into one of thoughtfulness. 

“We should spar some time. It would be fun.” 

Bucky has no idea why Steve would want to spar with him, seeing as he hasn’t exactly kept up with anything more than just going to the gym, but he says, “Alright. Sure, Steve.” 

The conversation ends there, because the group of people start to roll into baggage claim. Some of these people are in business suits instead of pajamas, because it’s late enough in the morning for meetings and conferences to be starting. 

Four people come up to Bucky with luggage questions. The first three are standard location issues—one bag got sent to the wrong terminal, another went to the wrong city, and the third got mixed up for someone else’s bag. 

When the fourth person walked up and asked Bucky why his glasses case wasn’t in the front pocket like he’d left it, Steve was holding back a laugh and shooting Bucky a bewildered look, almost as though he was asking, ‘Seriously?’

Bucky doesn’t know why he’s surprised, Steve’s watched him work before. 

He supposes that he should maybe cut Steve some slack. After all, seeing people in the airport is a completely different experience than seeing them out in regular environments—especially during the night hours. The only exception is probably Walmart during the same hours, and that’s just from what Bucky hears. Perhaps its the building, and not the people themselves. 

Except its totally the people themselves. 

Finally, the clock strikes six and Bucky is free from work. The morning shift person, Frank, trudges in as unhappily as he always does, and Bucky high tails it to the restroom. He is not going to be making his way home with a sticky face. He will deal with the rest when he reaches his own shower, but his face has got to be washed. 

“I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a bathroom this large before,” Steve comments from somewhere behind him. In all honesty, Bucky didn’t even know Steve came in here with him. 

“We’ve got a lot of people running around this place.” 

Bucky flips the water on, setting it to a lukewarm temperature. When there, he cups his hands together and splashes his face with the small pool of water. Because he isn’t in a commercial, some of the water runs down his neck and into his shirt. Both are sticky with honey residue so it doesn’t even matter. He wipes his hands down his face and looks at his reflection. 

Bucky looks like a hot mess. Better than he was expecting, though. 

“How are you getting home?” he asks Steve. 

“I’ll drive my motorcycle.” 

Raising his eyebrows, Bucky looks at Steve through the mirror. “Motorcycle?” 

“Yeah, you didn’t think I ran here did you?” Steve chuckles, before scrutinizing the sink he probably wants to sit up on. 

Bucky scowls. In his defense, Steve runs a lot, and it probably isn’t insane that he could run to the airport from wherever he lives in Queens. “You’re too heavy for that sink,” he mutters. 

“Well, I’m not going to sit on the floor.” 

“I’ll have you know that Talia mops the floors extremely well, and she would not be happy if a super soldier broke a sink all over it.” 

Steve pouts. 

It isn’t cute. 

Turning back to the task at hand, Bucky puts a squirt of soap into his hands before throwing water on his face again. 

“I think you should quit your job and go be an actor in the face commercials,” Steve muses. As if Bucky hadn’t been thinking about those commercials like three seconds ago. “Because you are beeautiful.” 

Bucky does not succeed in willing the blush away from his cheeks at that awful pun. On the off chance he’s asked, he’s going to blame it on the face cleansing. “Get all of your bee and honey puns out now, because after today you’re never going to be able to use them again.”

“But honey, another bee-themed villain could come into the picture. You never know! Maybe it’ll be the queen bee next time!” 

“I’m the queen bee of this place, Steve,” Bucky scoffs, squinting at his reflection in the mirror. He swears he still feels sticky. Steve chuckles fondly and shakes his head. 

“You’ve missed like, half your face.” Bucky releases a sound of confusion, because he sees absolutely no honey anywhere on his face or in his hair. 

“I don’t see anything!” 

“Well of course not. Your face is all wet,” Steve says, as though it’s the most obvious thing in the world. Which, Bucky supposes, it is.  “Here, can I?” 

Bucky stares dumbly as Steve pulls a paper towel from the dispenser, puts a dollop of soap on it and wets the towel slightly in the sink. He holds it up in question. 

“Um, yeah.” 

Steve steps closer, reaching his arm out to start dabbing the towel on Bucky’s face. In a place Bucky is sure he’d cleaned. When he informs Steve of this, he chuckles softly. 

“Bucky, you can’t just spread slightly-soapy water around your face to clean it.” Bucky doesn’t reply, words having left him when bright blue eyes look happily into his own. It’s essentially a moment copied exactly from every cheesy romance movie: the closeness, the staring-into-each-other’s-eyes-and-not-saying-anything, the simmering tension, the whole deal. 

And like every cheesy romance movie, the spell is broken the minute someone else joins the picture. This time, its a frazzled looking man rushing in and groaning. 

Shit. I thought this was the check-in desk!” 

Bucky blinks. “You just—“

“You just passed them,” Steve cuts in. The man shoots finger guns at Steve and rushes out of the bathroom. When Steve finds he’s still standing close to Bucky, he doesn’t step away. Rather, he flicks his gaze across Bucky’s face—notably pausing on his lips before jumping back up to meet Bucky’s gaze. “Any more stickiness?” 

Clearing his throat, Bucky shakes his head. “Nope, all good.” Steve smirks at him and steps back. 

“Excellent. Now, as great as this clean bathroom is, I’m not sure I want to hang out here all day.” 

“Suit yourself,” Bucky shrugs. As they walk out of the bathroom, Bucky feels his phone buzz with a text. 

FROM: Sam Sparks[6:25am]

U should ask the guy out already.  

It takes a moment for Bucky to remember why exactly Sam is telling him so, because Steve drawing a caricature of Bucky’s selfie feels like it was a week ago. 

Nope, only three hours ago. Wow. 

“Bucky, d’ya want a ride home, or just to the subway station?” Steve asks. When Bucky glances up at him, he’s got the hints of a hopeful look in his eyes, as though he wants Bucky to say yes. Only, when he opens his mouth to answer, it isn’t his voice that replies. 

“What the hell is all over your uniform?” 

Because naturally, Sam Wilson has showed up at the airport. On the morning in which Steve is also at the airport. This is going to be loads of fun for Sam, if Bucky knows him. 

“Why the hell are you here?” Bucky grumbles at Sam’s brightly grinning face. Next to him, Steve looks between the two curiously. 

“I thought I’d come pick you up from work. But that’s not important! Do introduce me to your friend here, Barnes!” Sam says cheerfully, as though he doesn’t know who Steve is. 

Shooting subtle daggers at Sam’s face Bucky says, “Steve, this is my friend, Sam. He has a car.”

Steve nods, jutting a hand out for Sam to shake. “A very good quality in a friend. Steve Rogers.” 

“Yeah, I kind of put that together. It must be what Bucky looks for in the people he associates with, assuming that beauty parked right there is yours?” 

“No wonder he puts up with my ugly mug.” 

“Your mug isn’t ugly,” Bucky grumbles at Steve. Sam looks completely delighted, as does Steve, so Bucky changes the subject. “Honey is what’s all over my uniform, to answer your question.” 

Sam raises an eyebrow. “Do I want to know?” He thinks for a moment, and then nods. “Yes, I do.” 

“Bucky got hit three times with honey thrown from a guy dressed like a bumblebee,” Steve sums up happily. 

“I love your job,” Sam tells Bucky. 

 

Sam is making Bucky run. Bucky has absolutely no idea how he ended up here, because one moment he was picking Bucky up from work, and the next he was changing out of his uniform and into athletic clothes instead of pj’s. Though he runs on the treadmill at the gym, running outside is a whole different ballgame. It’s early summer, so there are bugs everywhere. On top of that, the muggy heat means sweating with no relief. 

Why’s he here again? 

“Bucky! You’re running slower than my great grandma!” Sam calls from in front of him. What can Bucky say? He’s not too much of a runner. 

“I could lap you if I really wanted to!” Bucky declares. 

“I can’t hear you from all the way up here!” Sam singsongs. Sighing, Bucky ups his speed just enough to shorten the distance between himself and Sam. He’s pretty sure the only reason Sam has him come on these runs is to boost his ego. 

They’re running the trail in Forest Park, which is mostly through the woods. Bucky’s seen a few other jogging couples out, all of whom jogging with their partners instead of way ahead. Sam should take note. He had figured that Sam would at least run next to him for the time it took to badger him with questions about Steve, but Sam didn’t even do that. 

When Bucky feels his phone quack with a text, he slows down to a walking speed so he can check it and not fall on his face. 

Steve’s sent him a lovely mirror selfie of himself in the 21st century version of the Captain America suit. He’s shooting the camera an enthusiastic thumbs up with the hand not holding the phone, and he’s even pulled the freaking cowl over his head. The costume is just as bad as Bucky remembers: the random zippers, the velcro-looking attachments, and the painfully bright colors. 

Although slightly confused at the random selfie, Bucky is not one to complain. He’s grinning when he taps out his rely. 

TO: Star Spangled Ass [8:10am]

I see you’ve kept the outfit. 

I hope it was in order to burn it. 

Nodding proudly at his response, Bucky pockets his phone and starts running again in order to catch up to Sam, who is probably half a trail ahead of him at this point. Bucky briefly considers just running back to the parking lot, but he decides that he oughta stick through the whole run. At least if he does that, he won’t feel as badly about the waffles Sam promised to treat him to as a bribe for coming.  

He and Sam jogged the trail for about an hour, and are now walking around it in order to cool down some. Bucky’s going to have to take a second shower due to the sweat currently drying on his skin, but he’s proud to say that he made it through the run without falling over. 

“So you’re going to have enough time for waffles before you start getting all tired?” Sam asks. 

Bucky answers by shooting Sam a flat look, because of course. He doubts that anyone is able to start getting sleepy when there’s a plate of waffles in front of their face. It just can’t be possible. Even if that person had to run around an airport because they were being chased by a giant bumblebee. 

“Alright, alright. No delaying. Let’s go play ‘Where’s Sam’s Car?’” Sam says cheerfully, holding up his keys. Sam always acts as though he can never find his car, when he always knows exactly where it is. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t act like he’s forgotten, however. One time he went as far as to act like a different model of the car he drives was his own. Bucky was pulling on the door handle before Sam started chuckling. 

“Is it over there?” 

“Sam, it’s by the main trail entrance.” 

Just then, a someone comes barreling between them and nearly making Bucky step right into the drainage ditch. He’s about ready to yell angrily at the guy because, surely he saw two people walking right in front of him, until Bucky realizes he knows that torso. Nobody else has the exact shoulder-hip ratio of a Dorito. 

“That fucker,” Bucky grumbles before sprinting after the jogger. He just knows Steve is there laughing and trying not to look back behind him. 

“Bucky! You can’t chase people!” Sam calls. 

Bucky is right on Steve’s heels when the blond looks back. Blue eyes widen and he tries to speed up. Only, there isn’t enough time. Bucky is too close, and he tackles Steve into the grass. 

“That wasn’t very polite, Mr. Rogers,” Bucky says, rolling off of a laughing Steve and trying to catch his breath. 

“Last time I checked I’m not wearing a sweater vest,” Steve says. Sure enough, when Bucky lolls his head to look, Steve is wearing a tight ass purple Under Armor shirt. He groans helplessly. 

“Why’re you here?” 

“Needed to run off some frustration,” Steve says, pulling himself into a sitting position. Bucky continues to lay in the grass and is about to ask when Sam jogs up to them. 

Bucky! Why the hell—“ Sam starts, sounding horrified, until he sees just who Bucky tackled, “Oh.” 

Steve grins toothily. “Hi Sam.” 

“Do you make it a habit to make people tackle you?” 

“Kinda in the job description,” Steve says with a smirk pulling at his lips. Bucky eyes him from where he lays in the grass, seeing the jovial expression Steve is sporting. He smiles softly. 

“Bucky.” He looks up at his name, “Why didn’t you tell me that Captain America is an ass?” 

“I have! Isn’t my fault you wouldn’t believe me.” 

“Aw, Buck. You say the sweetest things.” Steve clasps at his heart and flutters his lashes dreamily. 

“As nice as it is to finally see the Steve and Bucky Show, could we at least move to where there’s food?” Sam asks. 

“Waffles!” Bucky exclaims happily, pulling himself up from the ground and turning to Steve. “If you don’t like waffles, I’m going to have to request another Avenger to come to the airport.” 

“Good thing I like waffles then,” Steve says, standing and offering Bucky his hand. From the corner of his eyes, Bucky sees Sam waggle his eyebrows, and he takes the offered hand with slightly heated cheeks. 

“So why’re you still here in Queens? I thought you lived in Avengers Tower.” 

Steve chuckles. “I live in Queens, Bucky. There’d be no way for me to get to your airport fast enough if I was in Manhattan.” 

“I thought you brought the Avengers Plane or something,” Bucky mumbles. 

“Nope, I’m here. Figured it would be a good place to be, what with Manhattan being too… much and Brooklyn being too unsettling.” Steve ducks his head, speaking softer. Bucky can imagine how both of those places might seem to Steve. What was once his home isn’t familiar anymore, and Manhattan is certainly a good representation of the city never sleeping. 

However, Bucky thinks, Steve at least had a group of people he knew in Manhattan: the Avengers. Who does Steve have here? 

He shakes his head at himself minutely, because Steve has him. And Sam, maybe. 

“I’m glad you chose Queens.” Bucky smiles at him, knocking his shoulder against Steve’s. “Because only the inspiration for all of this uprising in this cheesy villainy should have to deal with it,” he adds. 

“Jerk.” 

Ahead of them, Sam looks pleadingly at the sky. 

 

Sitting at Sam and Bucky’s usual diner, Bucky is tapping his foot impatiently. He can smell the sweet aroma of cooking waffles and warm syrup, but there still aren’t any in front of him. The diner isn’t exactly busy per say, but Bucky assumes a lot of the people here have also ordered waffles. 

He sighs, turning back to Sam and Steve, both sitting across from him in one of the booths. 

“Gettin’ sleepy there, Barnes?” 

“No, I’m not lame. I can stay up all day if I wanted to.” Bucky doesn’t want to, though. His bed is comfortable and he sees absolutely no reason in ditching it to prove a point to Sam. That is, unless Sam were to egg him on. Then all bets are off. 

“It’s hard to remember that you’re on a backwards sleep schedule,” Steve muses. “I’d assumed you just worked at the airport day in and day out. That perhaps you even lived there, you’re there so much.” 

Steve wears a small smirk, while Sam starts laughing and claps Steve on his back. 

Bucky sputters. “I don’t live at the airport!” 

“See! Even Steve knows you’re at the airport a ton!” Bucky crosses his arms with a pout, not particularly liking the idea of Sam and Steve ganging up on him. In Bucky’s world, it would be him and Steve ganging up on Sam, which is a much nicer idea. 

Now, it isn’t the first time Bucky’s heard something along the lines of “you work too much”, because in all honesty, he does. His shifts are long and slow, and he only takes a day off one day a week, on average. He doesn’t like the idea of missing something, and he sure as hell doesn’t trust anybody else’s eyes as much as he does his own. 

Working generally doesn’t bother him. It gives him something to do, and he feels at ease with the purpose of keeping his area of the airport safe. He feels comfortable when he’s at the airport, all things (villains) considered.

“Speaking of work, why were you in the suit today?” Bucky asks Steve curiously. At the mention of the suit, Steve lets out a long groan and leans his head back against the booth. When he pulls it back up, he leans forward on the table with a very serious expression on his face. 

“Bucky, I had to go to high school today.” 

How could Bucky respond with anything other than cackling? The way in which Steve said that single sentence made it sound like he had to disarm a bomb or that he had to go to a party where he had to socialize. You know, something scary. 

“Why were you at a high school in the costume?” Sam asks, confused. 

“I was asked to film various public service announcement-like infomercial videos for the school. For things like gym activity demonstrations, the fuckin’ Captain America Fitness Test, to scolding all the kids in detention—I would have been in detention when I was in school it was a thing! I am not the leading authority on following the rules! One of them was over patience and I was honestly there like, ‘I have no more patience for these!’” Steve says in a rush, finishing off with a series of unintelligible sounds that tell Bucky that Steve was frustrated. Bucky flattens his lips, preventing any sort of laugh from escaping. He’s never seen Steve rant like that, and it was definitely a sight to see. 

At that moment, before either Bucky or Sam could respond to Steve’s mini-rant, the waiter comes by and slides three plates of waffles in front of them along with a smaller plate of each side of bacon and sausage. When Steve’s food is in front of him, he cuts a piece of waffle off and chews it with a pout. 

Bucky has never seen someone pout while eating a waffle. 

Bucky didn’t think he would find someone adorable as they ate waffles with a pout. 

It’s a day of firsts. 

“I’m not sure why I’m surprised you would have been a regular in detention as a kid, but I am,” Sam muses, looking at Steve curiously. “What kinds of things would you have gone for?” 

Steve finishes his current bite of waffle before he speaks, the beginnings of a flush on his cheeks. “I got in trouble for a lot of things. Mostly with my mouth and not bothering to keep it shut when I should have. Talking back to teachers, muttering things under my breath, ‘verbally aggressive’ comments to other students who were only presentable when the teacher was watching them… those kinds of things.” 

“That is so much better than the idea of you being a rule follower,” Bucky says with a grin, the corner of Steve’s lips quirking up with him. 

“I’m glad you approve.” 

Bucky and Steve just grin at each other, at least until Bucky feels a sharp kick to his shin. When he looks over, Sam is waggling his eyebrows and pointedly looking over at Steve. 

“So Sam here told me that now that I know you, he wants to hear all about his idol Iron Man,” Bucky says casually, ignoring the look of outrage Sam is now shooting at him. 

“Iron Man, huh?” Steve hums. “I always expect people to be interested in Thor.” 

Thor would be Bucky’s second favorite Avenger. 

“That’s Bucky’s second favorite!” Sam says. 

Thanks, Sam. 

“Oh?” Steve looks at Bucky curiously. “Who’s your first?” 

Bucky’s face heats up quickly at Steve’s sly smirk, and he forks his last bite of waffle into his mouth in order to put off answering the question. Sam apparently gets tired of Bucky taking his sweet time to chew, so he chimes in again. 

“Despite his constant hatred of the spangly outfit, Bucky here has always favorited Captain America. Even before he started showing up at his workplace.” 

Thanks again, Sam. 

“Spangly outfit! That’s what Stark called it.” Sam looks unreasonably excited that he used the same term Tony Stark did when regarding Steve’s Cap costume. He settles into his seat with a proud grin on his face and nods at himself. Bucky rolls his eyes. 

“Was your outfit how you and the Avengers broke the ice? Or did the aliens to that for you? I bet going up to people and saying ‘So how about them aliens?’ was social gold! Only second to your colorful outfit, anyway.” 

Steve shakes his head fondly at Bucky, and Sam kicks him in the shin again. 

“All the alien ice breakers were used right after Thor showed up. Also during Thor showing up,” Steve says, tilting his head. 

Bucky grins. “Sounds like a story you should tell me.” Only, before Steve has the chance to, three little beeps chime from Sam’s wristwatch. 

“Well, you’ll have to just tell Bucky,” Sam starts, serving Bucky with another pointed look, “because I’ve got to get home and make myself smell nice for work. Even though I'm aware preschool kids don't care. Steve? Good meeting you, I can now see a bit of why Bucky likes having you around so much. I’m sure I’ll see you around again. Bucky? Bye.” Sam stands, throwing a couple of bills onto the table. 

“Bye honey! Have a good day at work!” Bucky calls after him, just as Sam says to him whenever he brings Bucky food at the airport. 

Turning back to the table, Bucky notes that both he and Steve have finished their food, and that there probably isn’t a reason to stay in the restaurant when they could go somewhere else and have it just be them. And perhaps Bucky’s couch. He’s never asked Steve to come over before, but Bucky thinks he’s in a place where he’d like to give the ‘natural progression of things’ some assistance. That, and he’d like to be at home. And also with Steve. It only makes sense. 

“Steve? D’ya want to move this to my apartment?” Bucky asks. Steve’s eyes brighten at the question. 

“Yeah! If you, uh, don’t mind?” Steve says, trying to reign in on the excitement he started out showing and attempting to come off more casual. Bucky rolls his eyes affectionately.

“Stevie, I just asked if you wanted to come. Of course I don’t mind.” 

 

Though taking a cab would be faster, Steve and Bucky decide to just walk to his apartment. It’s still mid-morning, so it isn’t very hot yet and there aren’t a ton of people out walking. Bucky doesn’t have work tomorrow, so even if he doesn’t get to sleep when he normally does, it won’t be that big of a deal. He’s still got until noon before he starts getting tired as it is. 

“So, Thor?” 

Steve nods, immediately launching into storytelling mode. 

“So we’d already captured Loki, and this thunder suddenly appears! I’m thinking, oh it’s just a storm! No reason to worry. That is, until we see Loki looks all shaken, which was a bit confusing. And then this dude appears, having landed on the top of the plane. He takes Loki and drops to the ground.  Stark flies out after them. And I get my parachute,” Steve starts. 

“Way to think about your safety, Steven. Otherwise I woulda slapped you.” 

“I had a parachute! Anyway, so I enter to find Stark and Beefy Blond Guy having out in the woods. Before I got there, Stark was taunting the guy by making fun of his outfit,” Steve looks at Bucky pointedly, “and I heard something said about ‘Shakespeare in the park’, but who even knows—“

“I can’t believe all the Avengers are snarky shits. Deciding to talk about Shakespeare right before a fight. Did Thor at least tell Stark that he looked like a tiny knockoff Transformer?” Bucky interrupts hopefully. 

Steve barks a laugh, apparently knowing exactly what Bucky is referencing somehow. “That’s amazing, I’ll have to remember that. So anyway, Beefy Blond Guy launches his hammer at Stark, and I take the opportunity to tell everyone to settle down. All calm headed.” Steve looks awfully proud of himself, but Bucky knows there’s gotta be more to that story so he serves Steve with a flat look. 

“It didn’t work, shockingly enough. I ask the guy to put the hammer down, reasonably. So naturally, he jumps in the air, going to hit me with it,” Bucky frowns, but Steve waves him off, “only I raise my shield above my head, and boom. We go flying in opposite directions. And that is my first encounter with Thor,” Steve finishes, grinning. 

Bucky slaps his shoulder with the back of his hand, squinting at Steve. “Why didn’t you move out of the way? You didn’t know what was going to happen.” 

“To be fair, I didn’t know that was the hammer of a god.” 

“Why are you like this?” Bucky grumbles, shaking his head. 

“You like it,” Steve claims confidently. 

“Uh huh.” The affirmation is enough to make Steve beam brightly and start walking with a slight skip in his step. Clearing his throat, Bucky decides to ask the question that’s been on his mind regarding the rest of the Avengers. “I know you’ve said you aren’t close with them really, but why did you decide to leave a group of people you knew in favor of a city without anyone?” 

Steve hesitates before answering, watching his feet as they walk leisurely through a relatively empty sidewalk. “I suppose I just wanted to be able to start fresh, in some sort of way. With the Avengers, they’ve all got this preconceived idea about me. Some on a grander scale than others—Stark grew up constantly hearing about me from his father. I thought starting smaller would be good,” Steve pauses, a slight smile lighting his face, “and it has been. I’ve gotten to relearn myself in being here. Steve.” 

“I like Steve,” Bucky comments, the three words meaning far more than their simplicity. Steve shoots him a crooked grin, and they walk in easy silence for the last stretch to the apartment. Bucky hadn’t thought about how weighing it could have been for Steve to be faced with what people expected of him. He can’t imagine balancing what appears to be two identities, but he’s glad Steve didn’t end up buried. Bucky much rather prefers the sassy dorky Steve than the goody stickler-for-the-rules superhero. 

“I can’t believe I’ve been putting the moves on you for months and I’m only now getting the invite to your place.” There’s a smirk on Steve’s face, and the sentence was said like a joke, but Bucky sees a hint of something in Steve’s blue eyes that conflicts with that. He’s not sure what it means. 

Maybe Bucky’s just seeing things that aren’t there. He shakes off the thought, deciding just to go along with the joke as they step into the elevator of the lobby. “I was playin’ hard to get, Stevie.” 

Steve’s eyes widen and his mouth parts slightly in some sort of realization. When he says nothing, Bucky doesn’t ask. They step off the elevator, walking down the hall to get to Bucky’s door. Bucky pushes the door open, tossing his keys onto the glass plate next to the door and mentally high-fiving himself when they don’t fall onto the ground. 

He turns around to Steve, who is standing just inside the doorway, looking unsure. Bucky rolls his eyes. “I’m going to change out of these gross clothes. Make yourself at home! Nothing is rigged to jump out at you.” Given permission, Steve loses the timid stance and starts looking around. Bucky turns away and walks down the short hall to his bedroom, peeling his shirt off of his skin. 

Throwing open the doors to his closet, Bucky picks out one of his soft t-shirts, a pair of sweatpants, and a pair of fuzzy socks. He doesn’t care that he’s got Steve over—he’s gonna be soft and comfortable. 

When Bucky comes back into the living room, he sees Steve standing in front of the tv with the one object in the apartment he forgot Steve would see. 

The blue Captain America soap duck Steve carved for him. 

“I thought all the ducks stayed at the airport!” 

Bucky, trying to come off as though he isn’t blushing furiously, shrugs and scurries into the kitchen, unceremoniously opening the cupboard and looking at food so he isn’t standing there awkwardly. “It’s my favorite,” he mumbles, on the off chance that Steve didn’t hear him. Bucky grabs a package of Oreos, stuffing two in his mouth and setting the rest aside. 

“I’m glad you like it,” Steve says, touched. Bucky glances up to see Steve placing the duck back on top of the tv, smiling at it fondly. Turning back to Bucky, Steve raises an eyebrow. “Two things. One, we just got back from breakfast. Why are you eating? Two, Oreos are not morning food.” 

Bucky scowls. “Don’t judge me, Steven. Oreos are all day food. And technically this is my evening.” He grabs a cup from the cabinet, waving it at Steve in silent question and grabbing another at Steve’s nod. After setting the drinks on the coffee table, Bucky flops down onto the couch next to Steve. They sit quietly for a moment, and Bucky realizes he should have thought of something for them to do before actually getting here. 

He glances around the room, scanning it for ideas when his eyes catch on the white console with the single game case sitting above it. 

Well. They say you can only truly know your friends after playing Mario Kart. Bucky bought the Wii for that single game to play with Sam. It’s been gathering dust ever since they played last December. When Sam called quits because Bucky threw his remote across the room. 

In Bucky’s defense, Sam wasn’t wearing the wristlet and the opportunity was wide open. Sam had been right on his tail with a blue shell and Bucky was so close to the finish line. He did what he had to do. 

Grinning mischievously, Bucky turns to Steve. “Have you played Mario Kart before, Steve?” 

Steve looks at him quizzically, lips quirked up in hesitant amusement. “Can’t say I have.” 

“Excellent.” 

 

To Bucky’s utter glee, Steve is awful at Mario Kart. Even before Bucky had started playing dirty. 

Time after time, Steve is driving at full speed and he rams into different objects. Walls, plants, statues, Goombas, computer drivers… everything. Bucky’s never seen a more reckless Mario Kart driver. He does a weird chuckle every time he does it, too. Still, Bucky finds it fun to screw him up even more. 

Steve squawks in outrage when Bucky sends him falling off of the map. “Fuck! Bucky!” He turns and is wholeheartedly glaring at Bucky, who can’t help but start laughing his ass off—thus making continuing the game slightly more difficult. Steve is glaring at him up until his kart is dropped back onto the map. 

Bucky decides to drive in the grass, effectively slowing down his character and allowing the gap between himself and other drivers to shorten some, and allowing him to watch Steve’s screen. Steve, who just rammed into another wall because he turned the wrong way. He’s sitting on the edge of the couch, with his eyebrows furrowed and chewing on his bottom lip in determination. Bucky feels something warm and fond rush through him. 

“Ha!” Steve suddenly exclaims excitedly. Apparently while Bucky was distracted in looking at Steve, the guy had managed to get the mega mushroom power up, and is happily running down every single character in his path. Drivers, goombas, koopas, whatever. 

Bucky figures its high time to start making more of an effort into finishing the game. At least before Steve gets close enough to start using any power ups he gets on him

“‘M catching up to you, Buck.” 

“I’m still half a lap ahead of you, Steve. I’ve got time.” 

Steve chuckles lowly, mumbling something Bucky can’t hear. Bucky’s on his final lap, and he doubt he’s going to lose his winning streak in this round, seeing as he’s pretty close to the checkered finish line. 

When he receives three green shells from the question block, Bucky grins. Now he has a shield from whatever the other users could throw at him. He’s settling back into his lounging position on the couch when someone blond and heavy slumps into a curled position on his chest. 

Bucky sits there, completely bewildered at why Steve is laying on him, until he realizes that his hands—which are holding the Wii steering wheel—are smushed under Steve. Effectively making Bucky unable to play without driving into everything. 

Steve is laughing happily, which only intensifies when he gets the lightning strike power up and turns all his opponents into miniature drivers. 

“Steve! Get off!” Bucky wriggles his arms and tries to free them, but Steve isn’t letting up. He’s pretty sure Steve is pressing himself into Bucky’s chest. Which, by itself would probably render Bucky into a fumbling mess. But right now? Bucky can’t let Steve win. 

The issue is that given Steve’s position against Bucky, there’s a very low pool of ways in getting him off. The only ways Bucky can currently think of is either slipping up or down off of the couch. To prevent the possibility of kicking Steve with his feet, Bucky decides to slip down. 

It involves a lot of wriggling with background laughing from Steve, but Bucky soon gets himself free. 

“Aha!” Bucky says triumphantly, turning right back around and using Steve’s lowered defenses (thank you laughing), to pull Steve’s steering wheel right out from his hands. Steve’s character, Bowser, is inching up much to close to Luigi for his liking, so he sends Bowser off a waterfall before getting Luigi to the finish line. 

Steve’s pulling at Bucky’s shirt to try and get him to give the controller back, but he isn’t trying very hard. 

Bucky flops back down on the couch with a sigh of relief when the victory music starts to play. 

“Cheater.” 

Steve stares at him with wide eyes, gesturing back from Bucky to the tv to his own controller while sputtering. “You started it!” 

“I only played dirty within the game. You took it outside!” Steve squints at him, shaking his head and trying to look all disappointed. Bucky sees right through it. “I want another game.” 

Bucky squints right back at him, knowing that this next set of maps isn’t going to be played nearly as tamely as the ones before. Playing the game the right way is boring anyways. Bucky is still squinting at Steve when he chooses the Special Cup courses. Rainbow Road. All bets are off. 

When they go through the Dry Dry Ruins level, things are relatively tame. Some shoving, hitting each others controllers, small stuff. As the courses go on, however, acts against each other get larger. 

“This isn’t exactly the situation I woulda thought of if I ever ended up here,” Steve declares. He’s straddling the back of Bucky’s thighs, trying to grab at the controller that Bucky’s got under his shirt and sandwiched between the couch cushion and his stomach. Bucky’s still trying to make an attempt at racing, but he continues to see computers fly past him. 

Bucky makes a noise of curiosity. “Yeah? Trying to get my shirt off isn’t your idea of fun?” 

Steve grumbles something about Mario Kart, people, and Bucky in particular. 

He soon gives up on trying to get his own controller, settling for plucking Bucky’s out of his hand and sabotaging Luigi from winning the race in every way he can. 

Steve and Bucky are strongly holding 11th and 12th place by the second lap of Bowser’s Castle. 

Bucky slithers out from under where Steve’s sitting on him, leaving Steve’s controller under the cushion and tries to go for his own, opening and closing his hands in a grabby motion. 

“Hi Bucky. Need something?” Steve asks casually, putting the remote out of Bucky’s reach. If Bucky tries to move in any direction, Steve moves the controller to compensate. 

Scowling, Bucky decides to pull out the big guns. He settles his hands on Steve’s shoulders and puts his knees on either side of Steve’s thighs, straddling his lap. 

“Stevie,” Bucky drawls, and Steve blinks at him like a shutter camera. A smirk plays along Bucky’s lips, and Steve seems to have forgotten what they were just doing, because he sits there and simply looks at Bucky, eyes dancing around his face. 

Deciding to further Steve’s distraction, Bucky tilts his head up just enough to softly brush their noses together as he simultaneously plucks the controller that has gone slack in Steve’s loosened grip. When Bucky leans back to settle on his thighs, he shoots Steve a wink before turning around on his lap, getting right back into the game. 

It isn’t long afterwards that Steve snaps back into reality. 

“Cheater,” he grumbles, huffing at the difficulty in trying to play while Bucky’s sitting on him. Yet Steve doesn’t attempt to make him move. In fact, he repositions himself to account for the added weight. 

Despite attempting to actually race for the rest of the map, Steve and Bucky don’t make it out of 11th or 12th place. 

“Oh! This map is pretty,” Steve says, eyeing the preview for Rainbow Road. Bucky smirks to himself, because Steve’s got no idea what’s coming. This map ruins friendships almost as badly as Monopoly does. Bucky starts the race quickly trying to get back into first place from where he was in the lineup, and it takes Steve less than a second before he drives right off the edge of the road. 

“The hell?!” 

With Bucky still sitting on him, Steve soon realizes his current position isn’t going to let him play the game very easily. He tries a couple different positions before huffing. Bucky rolls his eyes and decides to make things easier on him. 

Bucky turns to where his back is facing the long side of the couch, unceremoniously flopping down onto it, leaving his legs hanging over Steve’s thighs. 

“I didn’t think you’d be so touchy,” Steve comments, gaze never wavering from the tv screen. Bucky shrugs, because he supposes that’s a fair assumption. 

“I’m comfortable,” he explains simply, because really, that’s all there is to it. He’s in his home—not at work or in public where he needs to be actively alert—and he feels at ease, even with Steve here. 

Steve doesn’t reply, but there is a small uplift of a smile when Bucky glances over at him. 

There’s a few moments where the only sound is the game music. Until. 

“Why is there a damn rainbow in space anyway? I’m pretty sure that can’t actually happen, so why, Mario? What good does this level do? Why have speed boosts when they just boost you right off the road? I can do that myself, I don’t need it to be faster. Bucky, I don’t understand!” 

Apparently laughing while playing this map makes it real easy to fall off the road, but Bucky can’t help it. Steve looks so offended at the game—his eyebrows are pulled together and his bottom lip is sticking out. 

Quit looking at his lips.

Come lap three, Bucky feels the familiar feeling of drowsiness make itself known. He grumbles petulantly when his character’s hit with a blue shell, and Steve pats his leg in false sympathy as he pushes his way into first place. It took him awhile, but Steve eventually got the hang of the map. 

Steve’s smug grin when he finishes first probably would have won first in the competition for smugness, if such a thing existed. Bucky squints at him until he laughs it off. 

“Isn’t it late for you?” Steve asks. 

Glancing at the clock, reading about noon, Bucky shrugs. “Kind of, but it’s no big deal.” He doesn’t exactly want Steve to leave. Both of them seem to hesitate before speaking again, but Bucky beats Steve to the punch. “We could just watch something random on tv?” 

At Steve’s nod, Bucky switches the input to regular tv and choosing a random comedy about a fake psychic detective. They get through an episode before Bucky’s eyes start involuntarily drooping; something that doesn’t escape Steve’s notice. He tells Bucky that he should get to bed, that they can talk tomorrow maybe at work, or through phone if Bucky wants. 

“Goodbye, honey. Don’t let the bee-bugs bite!” 

“You’re the worst, Rogers.”

 

“It is not a dildo!” 

This evening’s apparent villain is sputtering, red in the face. Bucky hasn’t been on shift for long, but he plucked this guy out from the crowd upon first glance. Luckily for Bucky, the guy came up to him asking about which exit sign would take him to the taxi service, allowing him to get a complete glance. The goatee, hair cut, and glasses were all screaming hipster, but no hipster would put in the gym time required to get biceps that size. Boots were steel toed with thick soles, pants were regulation paramilitary, only they were paired with a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt which is much too baggy for someone who obviously cares a lot about his physique. 

If that wasn’t enough of a sign, visible through the unzipped bag that’s held tightly in the guy’s hands is a green spandex onesie, which Bucky is sure would certainly be something to look at on this guy. 

Finally, to top it all off, the guy is gripping what, on a offhand glance, looks to be a black pistol with orange and yellow painted flames on the bottom of the grip and the barrel. Only, on more of a closer glance, it’s easy to tell that this isn’t a pistol at all. 

It’s a dildo that’s in the shape of the gun. 

The cockhead, although made subtler thanks to the blending of the flames, is right at the end of the barrel, where the muzzle would have been if it was a legitimate pistol.  

Bucky chuckles. “Buddy, there isn’t a bullet chamber. Did you not notice that? Hell, there isn’t even a trigger.” He turns the object over in his hands, while Beefy Hawaiian Shirt is blushing like a tomato. Bucky honestly has no idea how he thought this was a legit gun, but it’s made his week. 

“I hadn’t looked at is very closely yet. I liked the flames. And I didn’t need identification to buy it.” 

“Oh I’m sure. Are you gonna defeat Captain America with a dildo?” 

He looks thoughtful. “Maybe I could?” 

“As entertaining as I’m sure that would be, I suggest you enjoy New York in a different way, though I’m not saying you can’t use this for your own purposes,” Bucky says, handing the dildo back to Beefy Hawaiian Shirt, “and please do be more careful when traveling with sex toys in the future.” 

Bucky smiles brightly, directing the man towards the lit up Exit sign and not towards the piece of paper with ‘Exit’ written on it in Sharpie with an arrow pointing left. 

It’s something Bucky thought of the other day. He directs someone through there, a couple of other fake direction signs scattered about the way, leading the person right back to Bucky’s desk. An excellent and entertaining way for Bucky to send someone in circles until Steve arrives. 

Bucky hopes he gets to use that distraction plan before Sandra ends up seeing it and asks him what the hell he’s doing. 

Beefy Hawaiian Shirt shoves the dildo back into his bag, muttering a quiet ’thanks’ before glancing around them and pushing through the doors. 

With a couple minutes to spare before the next arrival, Bucky dials Steve’s number in order to recount the encounter. As usual, it doesn’t take long for Steve to pick up. 

“Steve!” 

“Hey, Buck. Got someone for me?” 

“Almost, but I’m fairly sure I made him see the error of his ways,” Bucky announces proudly, resting an ankle atop his knee and leaning forward to rest his arms on the podium. 

“What’d you do? Better not have been something stupid.” Bucky huffs. He is not stupid—he’s been at this for several months now!

No, I only informed him that what he thought was a pistol was actually a dildo in the shape of a gun!” 

Steve hums curiously, rather than sputtering with surprise like Bucky had figured he would. “Kinda wish I could have seen that. I mean, I’ve seen the Avengers themed dildos, but a gun sounds much more creative.” 

“Avengers themed? Wait, so you have—? No, I can’t talk dildos at work.” 

“It’s mostly blue, and it’s got a lot of sparkles on it. Not too over the top, I don’t think.” 

The doors push open, the next arrivals starting to file in. While still on the line, Bucky starts up the carousel for their baggage. 

Bucky’s eyes are wide. “I am not talking to Captain America about his Captain America themed dildo!” he hisses under his breath. Steve erupts into loud laughter. Bucky shakes his head. “I’ve gotta go. Next arrival is here. Goodbye.” 

“Bye, honey!” 

Off to the side, having been listening into the airport employee’s phone conversation, a man clad in black attire smirks. 

 

Bucky’s currently dealing with the line of people with common luggage issues, asking why their bag hasn’t shown up yet and what not. There were a few of them with this arrival, but he finally gets to the last person in the line. 

The man is of average height, slightly more built than an everyday guy. He’s dressed in a skin tight black t-shirt with two black straps crossed over his torso, creating an ‘X’, paired with black cargo pants and empty holsters wrapped around his legs. He’s smirking widely, flashing white teeth at Bucky. 

“Evening. Anything I can help you with?” Bucky asks. The guy chuckles, as if Bucky just said the most hilarious thing. 

“You know? I think you’re exactly the person to help me,” he says, pointing a black gloved finger at Bucky and leaning forward onto the podium. 

Bucky doesn’t get a very good feeling off this guy, but he continues as normal. There isn’t anything he can pick out to make any sort of warranted move. When the man doesn’t say anything more, Bucky sighs. 

“Okay. What’ll it be? Luggage issues, transportation, directions? Food court is down towards the main lobby to the right. Though, there isn’t much that’ll be open.” 

Again, the man laughs. “That’s funny. Naw, I didn’t come here for a flight.” 

Still, he hasn’t said what he did come for. 

“Are you waiting on someone to get here? The arrival screens are on the wall next to us,” Bucky tries, gesturing to the large blue lit screens. 

“You could say I’m waiting on someone to get here. Only, he probably isn’t going to show up as one of your arrivals,” he smirks with a shake of his head. Turning back, his gaze locks on Bucky. “No, you see, a little birdie—well actually a few little birdies—informed me that you, Bucky, have some pretty strong connections to one Captain America.” 

Bucky narrows his eyes, instantly on alert. He eyes the cell phone that sits right in front of him quickly before looking back up. Wrong move, because a gloved hand drops down and snatches it before Bucky can figure out any sort of way to grab it. 

“Nuh uh. Can’t risk you doing something that’ll ruin my plan. Y’see, my name is Brock Rumlow, and the ah, company I work for has had it’s sights set on Captain America for quite some time now. Only, we’ve had some issues locating him. That is, until I overhear some idiot blabbering about the airport employee and a Captain America lookalike who foiled her plan to destroy the icon himself.” He pauses to laugh again. “And it didn’t take much to uncover just what’s been going on here at the airport these last several months. And after verifying that it is truly Steve Rogers that you’ve been calling up, well. I knew it was time to make a plan. And you, Bucky, are my star player in this plan.” 

In the back of his mind, Bucky was wondering just how long Brock Rumlow was going to talk. At the front of his focus, however, is the slow movement of Rumlow’s arm from the podium back around his pants. 

“Luckily for me, since I’m not getting on or off of a flight, I had absolutely no trouble bringing this in with me,” Rumlow comments, revealing a custom-made SIG pistol. 

Bucky knows he has no choice but to cooperate with whatever Brock Rumlow tells him to do. They’re currently in a very open part of the airport—doors right in front of them and behind them, a large hallway connecting them to other parts of the airport, and elevators shortly down the way. In other words, people can come from all sorts of directions, putting them right in the crossfire. 

In addition to that, Bucky has absolutely no weapon of any kind at his disposal. 

He’s certain that Rumlow has done his research on how the airport works, because both he and Bucky are aware of the fact that the security guards—the ones with some kind of weapon—aren’t due to stroll through the terminal for at least another hour. 

That leaves Bucky with his walkie, something he rarely has to use, and something that will be difficult to use  with how Rumlow is eyeing him. 

Sandra isn’t due to come into work for a few hours, so Bucky has to make contact with head of security or whoever’s working airport jail tonight. 

He hopes to everything that isn’t James. The kid isn’t ready to handle a legit threat. 

“What do you need from me?” Bucky asks flatly. 

Rumlow hums thoughtfully, as if he doesn’t have the next part of his plan worked out already. “I think you and I are going to go somewhere more remote. As much fun as making a scene would be, I can’t really get what I need if authorities show up,” he says, walking around the podium and gripping at Bucky’s arm. “Come with me. Do not do anything you’ll regret.” Looking Bucky up and down, Rumlow’s eyes catch on the walkie. “Leave that.” 

Well, fuck. 

Bucky grudgingly unhooks the holster and unceremoniously drops the device onto the podium. Satisfied, Rumlow starts to move them, moving his arm around Bucky’s neck and pressing the nozzle of the gun into his side in a manner that obstructs it from view. 

“You know, I was surprised to find that this airport had so many areas nobody goes to. Random closets, storage bays, lost and found rooms for luggage, out of order bathrooms, you name it. The whole area under construction, too, is a gold mine for what I need to do. Especially seeing that you work after regular construction hours,” Rumlow comments, shooting a grin at any of the people they pass, though they pay him no mind. 

Bucky really wishes construction projects didn’t take so goddamn long. He can’t fault Rumlow for taking him there—it’s the perfect site for villainy. 

The elevator ride sure as hell is awkward. 

At the site, Rumlow leads Bucky down to the luggage hold, where bags are sent from the checkin desk to wherever the flight’s gate is. Essentially, it’s just a room with a conveyor belt and some packaged monitors that won’t be set up until the facility is ready for use. 

“Sit over there,” Rumlow directs, waving the gun at the conveyor belt and pulling Bucky’s phone from his pocket. 

Unable to do anything but comply, Bucky does what he’s told. 

“Don’t try to escape, you don’t exactly have a way out of here that isn’t through the doorway I’m standing in front of. And going through the belt like a piece of luggage probably wouldn’t be the wisest decision.” 

Bucky sighs, resting his arms on his knees, prepared to wait for some sort of opportunity. He’s not planning on sitting here as bait for Steve, and he’s not planning on being part of a plan to get Steve captured. 

“Alrighty then. Lucky for me I already have the passcode for your phone. Ooh!” Rumlow grins. “Looks like you’ve got a few texts from the man himself. Clever contact name for him, by the way.” He sets the gun down on top of the unopened monitor boxes, freeing both of his hands to focus on whatever he’s going to do with Bucky’s phone. 

There’s that opportunity Bucky was hoping for. 

 

There’s no reason for Rumlow to be stalling. He’s going through Bucky’s text conversations with Steve. It’s a bit weird. 

“So is this just going to be you or are we waiting on your backup?” 

“Just me. I’ve got a driver for the van, but he’s not part of the extraction,” Rumlow releases easily. 

From what Bucky can infer, Rumlow is excited. He’s very proud of himself for getting here, for working out all the kinks in the mission to apprehend Captain America—which supposedly nobody else in Rumlow’s organization has been able to make any headway on. Brock Rumlow is reveling in all of this. 

“Alright, I’m going to call your guy now. Keep your trap shut.” 

Bucky rolls his eyes. As if Steve isn’t going to know the predicament Bucky’s in after Rumlow tells him

To add to the whole scene, Rumlow puts the call on speaker to ensure Bucky hears both sides of the conversation. The phone doesn’t ring for very long, and when it stops, Rumlow looks giddy. He releases a breath and adopts a more threatening looking expression. 

“Hi Bucky,” Steve says cheerfully. “Got something for me?” 

“Well, I’m not your airport employee. But I do have him for you.” Bucky can see the cringe that goes through Rumlow’s face after the sentence is spoken. 

Guy really is new at this whole blackmailing thing, apparently. 

“What? Who’re you?” 

“My name is Br—no. You can call me Crossbones.” Rumlow nods, as though the codename is new to him. Given that he introduced himself as Brock to Bucky, it probably is. “And I’m just a man on a mission.” 

“What mission is that?” Steve asks warily, and Bucky can hear some rustling on the other line sounding like Steve is getting up. 

“It probably won’t be as shocking to you, since Hydra supposedly was obliterated by you at the end of the war, which wasn’t long ago for you, but yeah! They’re who I’m working for, and they are still very interested in you.” 

The silence on the other line is deafening. Steve must have frozen in whatever he was doing. 

“That’s right. We’ve been underground ever since Hydra had to reform, but with the news that you’re around with that serum still in tact, well. We kind of had to come out of the shadows for that. That serum would be a great asset to accomplishing our goal for world order. It would certainly help speed up the process, anyway.” Brock opens his mouth to continue speaking, only Steve speaks first. 

“Where’s Bucky?” 

“No need to worry, Captain. I’ve got your boy toy right here with me. He should be just fine, so long as you come and meet me here, alone. Call it a trade. Or blackmail, whichever word you prefer.” 

“Okay, just don’t hurt him.” Steve says, and Bucky furrows his brows. He’s just going to give himself over? No. 

Bucky won’t let it get that far. 

Brock looks surprised. “Really? I was expecting him to be a great bargaining chip, but I sure as hell didn’t expect it to be this easy. You know, it was pretty much music to my ears to hear that you ditched the Avengers to move here. It was a miracle to hear that you are pretty much on your own here. I started to question how you got the jump on Hydra the first time around, because really? This is too easy.”

“Maybe you’re just smarter,” Steve suggests sarcastically and slightly muffled, like he’s shuffling into clothes. Bucky smiles to himself. Steve’s an ass. 

“That’s a possibility. I’m good at what I do, Captain.” 

“I’m sure it’ll be great to tell your Hydra friends all about this.” A door slams on Steve’s line. 

“I hear you’re on your way. Come to the lower level of the construction site at the airport. If you bring or tell anyone, I’ll shoot him. That’s the only way you can truly get people to follow orders, you know. Through pain. It doesn’t need to be pain to the self specifically, which hadn’t been something I thought out before. You can just turn towards friends. Loved ones. Use them against your target. It really pulls out a sense of compliance that nobody even knows they have!” 

As Rumlow’s getting started on yet another monologue, Bucky knows it’s his best chance to make the move. 

As quick as he can, Bucky moves to snatch the gun off of the monitor boxes. 

He isn’t fast enough—Rumlow’s hand intercepts him and the gun is hit down towards the side, away from either of them. 

Gripping Bucky’s wrist almost painfully, Rumlow locks gazes with Bucky. “You just gave yourself a world of trouble,” he growls out. 

“Bucky?!” 

“Be fast, Captain. Your boy here just really pissed me off.” Rumlow ends the call, ignoring the frantic protests from Steve. “I was really hoping you were just going to be compliant, but now I have to hurt you.” 

“I couldn’t bear to hear you talk any longer,” Bucky sasses, ripping his arm from Rumlow’s grip. They stand opposite each other for a moment, each doing a size up of the other, until Rumlow begins to advance. A fisted hand flies towards his face, which Bucky dodges, sending his own at Rumlow’s stomach. 

He hits nothing, as his hit is dodged as well. 

Bucky knows that he’s not going to best Brock in a hand-to-hand fight. Despite being familiar with the technique, Bucky hasn’t kept his combat skills up to par like he keeps himself in shape. 

Brock Rumlow, on the other hand, is supposedly a Hydra agent. Even with the simple look of him, Bucky can infer that Brock goes through all sorts of training. He’s quick and he can anticipate his opponent, from the bit Bucky just saw. 

Bucky can’t beat him like this. He needs to get to the gun. 

Brock advances him again, and Bucky makes a move to the left, out of reach of any arm or leg that Rumlow could throw at him as Bucky goes around. 

The gun isn’t far, only a couple steps. 

He’s reaching for it when Rumlow comes up next to him, throwing a black boot right at the side of Bucky’s knee, just slightly below the kneecap. 

The searing pain is palpable as soon as Bucky crumples to the floor. He immediately moves his weight off the injured knee and clenches his teeth to avoid making any sort of sound. Brock’s chuckling, and he’s coming right back with a leg to kick at Bucky again, despite him already being on the ground. 

Bucky intercepts, wrapping his arms tightly around Brock’s leg and immediately rolling his entire body weight over in order to send Brock crashing down to the ground. 

Brock drops Bucky’s phone somewhere on the ground. Better not have broken. Can Bucky even send a phone bill to Hydra? 

Bucky elbows Brock just under his chest, knocking the wind right out of him for added effect. With Brock momentarily stopped, Bucky hauls himself upright, unable to put really any weight on his injured knee with how weak it feels. 

Seeing the gun, Bucky limps on over. “Do I look like some delicate flower, jackass?” With the gun in hand, Bucky turns right back towards Brock and aims right at him, looking all kinds of unimpressed. 

Brock meets his gaze with a sneer. “As if you’re actually going—“ 

Bucky shoots at the ground right next to Brock. 

“Just because I work TSA doesn’t mean anything. If you had read up on me like you did Captain America, you woulda seen I did three tours in the Army. But if you wanted to keep going on that monologue you were about to start, go right ahead. I’m sure it’s got a lot of good stuff about true strength or whatever, but you’ve made sure we wouldn’t have any witnesses, and I’m not the one who threatened Captain America.” 

Rumlow closes his mouth with a glare, gaze never straying from Bucky. At that, Bucky breathes a sigh of relief. He limps back over to where the conveyor belt is and sits down to rest his leg, but he keeps the gun right on Rumlow. 

He realizes that tonight could have ended very differently, and he still feels amped up with the adrenaline. 

A shield with legs comes bursting through the doorway. 

“Aw,” Bucky grins lazily. 

A head pops up above the shield, looking awfully confused at the fact there’s no commotion at all going on. “Bucky?” Steve spares Rumlow a glance, and upon seeing Bucky sitting down with the gun, Steve breathes a sigh of relief and stows the shield on his back. “Bucky.” 

Bucky is just starting to haul himself back up when Steve pulls him up the rest of the way and starts scanning him for injuries. 

“Steve. I’m okay,” Bucky tells him, but he doesn’t seem to hear it. “Steve.” 

Wide blue eyes jump up and meet his own, and Steve’s gloved hands frame his face. 

“I’m okay. Well I guess not completely, there is a knee—“ 

Bucky’s words are cut off when a pair of lips meets his own. 

Steve’s lips are warm and slightly chapped, and Bucky only just has enough time for his eyes to slip closed and relish in the feeling of the kiss before it’s over. 

“If you’re just going to keep pulling the upper hand on these bad guys right before I get here, I’m not going to bother getting into uniform,” Steve murmurs, a smile laced into his words. His cheeks are flushed red and he’s trying to look exasperated but it’s not working for him at all. 

Bucky hums. “More Under Armour if you’re taking requests.” He’s still feeling very giddy and revved-up, though he’s not sure how much of that is from everything with Rumlow or how much is from that kiss. Who’s to say, really? 

Steve’s sappy expression melts into something mischievous, but a groan from Brock keeps him from speaking. “Can we finish this already? I’m ready to leave this goddamn airport, and I don’t need to see you two flirt all night.” 

“Backup should be getting here in a few minutes.” At the sharp look from Rumlow, Steve shrugs. “You told me to come alone, you didn’t say how long I had to be alone.” 

Brock mutters something inaudible under his breath, reaching to massage at his ankle. Bucky grins proudly, but realizes he should sit back down and tend to his own injury while they wait. Concern immediately filters back into Steve’s expression. 

“Just an unstable knee. I’m fine. You though. You’re lookin’ fine as hell in that new Cap suit,” Bucky says fervently. The suit is dark blue, with a silver star and three protruding lines from each side, giving a winged appearance. It’s made out of an actual protective material, which would be much better against guns or knives. It doesn’t seem to be quite fitted to him though. 

Steve looks hot

“Yeah? It’s still going through final alteration stages, but I’m pretty happy with it. I’m getting this suit plus one in the regular red white and blue. Guess you weren’t the only one unhappy with the other suit.” 

“You won’t hear anything but positive comments from me.” 

Much more backup than normal shows up for Rumlow, an intimidating man dressed in all black with an eyepatch being the one to drag Rumlow right out of there. Bucky assumes the existence of Hydra is probably a big deal, and he’s sure Brock’s going to have fun with those interrogations. Man with the eyepatch doesn’t look like the type to listen to Brock’s shitty monologues. 

An ambulance also shows up, and despite every protest from Bucky, Steve makes him go to the hospital so his knee can get checked out. 

Steve rides in the ambulance with him, so Bucky guesses it could be worse.

 

Bucky is bored out of his mind. 

He has been forced to take at least a week off of work due to the injury to his knee, even though there’s no real damage. Rumlow didn’t kick the knee right at the side of the kneecap, so he wasn’t able to cause any of his ligaments to tear. The only thing the doctor said was to keep weight off of it for awhile and to give it the chance to stabilize. 

That’s all fine—Bucky doesn’t want to blow out his knee. The thing is though, Bucky can take it easy just fine at work. He’s literally sitting in a chair the entire night and barely moving. He’d certainly be able to allow his knee time to rest and heal. 

Yet, no matter how much Bucky said so, neither Steve or Sam were hearing it. Bucky tried to reason and say that Steve had no say, what with him probably injuring himself frequently whenever he’s being a superhero, but damn is the guy stubborn. When Sam arrived, being Bucky’s emergency contact, he sided with Steve and wouldn’t budge his opinion. 

At least a week off work. No arguments. 

Bucky was also given a set of crutches to use, as well as a standard knee brace. Sam glared at him until he agreed to use both of them until at least a week is up. Bucky was worried Sam was going to decide to live with him to ensure Bucky was being good, but Sam has settled for texting the >.> face to him every other hour. 

As it is, Bucky’s become one with his couch. It’s day three. 

Steve’s apparently been busy keeping up with the questionings of Rumlow, what the impacts are for the things he, as well as the guy Rumlow had as the planned driver, say about Hydra and their agenda. Steve’s boss, the scary guy with the eyepatch, says if they can nip this in the bud as soon as possible, then things should be smooth sailing. Steve’s happy Hydra was uncovered before they started another world ending plan to create order. 

In other words, Bucky hasn’t really gotten the chance to see or talk to Steve since they parted ways after the hospital. They probably need to talk about some things. Like, how Steve got a new suit, whether he’s really going to start wearing more Under Armour, how he kissed Bucky, how nice he looks in blue… normal stuff. 

Bucky’s decided that he’s happy to move forward with Steve, and given that Steve didn’t freak out over the kiss, Bucky assumes Steve’s on the same page. Getting a formal answer is still probably the way to go, though. He’d certainly like kissing Steve again. Especially with all this free time he has this week. 

Bucky thinks that would be a much better way to pass the time than watching random shows on tv. 

Despite being all settled into the idea of starting something with Steve now, isn’t to say he didn’t have several moments of second guessing and weighing every single hypothetical he could think of. Once Bucky started rattling on about what if the Avengers don’t think he’s good enough for Steve? Sam cut him off and asked him if Steve made him happy. 

When he reflected over the past several months since he met Steve, Bucky realized that nobody makes him smile as easily as Steve does. And that was that. 

A knock on the door startles Bucky from where he’s laying upside down on the couch. He flips around so his legs are on the ground instead of the back of the couch. “Coming!” Foregoing the crutches, Bucky uses his good leg and hops over to the front door. 

He unlocks the door and opens it to find Steve standing there, dressed casually in a pair of dark wash jeans, a white t-shirt, and a dark blue bomber jacket. He’s cradling a small black and white soap duck in his hands and smiling crookedly. “Hi Bucky. I thought you might still be up.” 

Bucky shrugs. “Been on this schedule too long to switch back. You wanna come in?” At Steve’s nod, Bucky opens the door the rest of the way and lets him walk in. 

“You aren’t walking on that leg are you?” 

“No, I’m hopping.” Bucky says, hopping right back on over to the couch. Steve chuckles, shaking his head fondly. 

“You’re silly.” 

“You’re a dork. Are you gonna give me the new duck?” 

Sitting down next to him, Steve hands the black and white soap duck to Bucky. From what Bucky sees, it kinda looks like him. The duck body, beak, and eyes are black, while it’s head and hair are white. 

“This is going to sound totally lame and you might never talk to me again, but it won’t leave my head. I call it Bucky the Ducky.” 

“Oh my god,” Bucky says, laughing immediately, and falls to lean against Steve’s side. Steve, for his part, just smiles at Bucky affectionately. 

When Bucky’s laughter subsides, Steve nudges Bucky’s leg with his foot. “How is it?” 

“Still feels pretty wobbly and I get pulses of pain every now and then, but the painkillers help with that. I still maintain that I should be able to go back to work.” 

Bucky expects Steve to disagree again, but he stays quiet. Sitting up some to be able to look at him better, Bucky sees him looking conflicted about something. 

“I’m sorry this happened, Bucky.” 

“Steve. It’s not your fault.” Steve turns his head with furrowed brows, eyes searching Bucky’s. They drop to his lips for a moment, but jump right back up. 

“It was easier, to think of more when all I was causing you were run-of-the-mill villain hopefuls that couldn’t do any harm to you. Now…” Steve shakes his head. “Now that I’ve seen that I can cause you to be put in the crosshairs of dangerous people just by being around you? I don’t think I can do that to you, no matter what I want.” 

“No, Steve. No. You haven’t deliberately done anything. Even if we had just had formal encounters with each other whenever I called someone in, the same thing could have happened. Rumlow would have been happy with me just having your contact information and nothing else. Me being personal to you was just icing on the cake.” Steve opens his mouth to start talking, but Bucky shakes his head sternly and continues. “Even if we put you aside, it’s still my job at that airport to keep everyone there safe. Which, I know I probably take on more than my actual job requires, since there are people like James who have actual weapons, but regardless. Even if I had no connection to you, that’s still what I would be doing. So quit trying to shoulder all this imaginary fault over something you have no control over.” 

Steve opens his mouth and closes it a couple times, seemingly unsure of what to say. Bucky can see he still wants to find some part of this to blame himself for, but Bucky isn’t going to let that happen. 

“What would be your solution, anyway? To just not let yourself get close to anyone? Be alone and unhappy your entire life? That would still leave someone getting hurt—you. I won’t let that happen,” Bucky declares, taking Steve’s hand in his and squeezing it. “That kiss was the highlight of my whole damn week,” he adds with a smirk. 

Steve brushes his thumb along the back of Bucky’s hand. “Okay, Bucky,” he agrees softly. Bucky gives a single nod. That was easier than he expected it to be, given how stubborn he’s seen Steve be. 

Now that it looks like everything is hashed out between him and Steve, Bucky remembers he has to do something. He slips his hand in between the couch cushions, fishing around for the phone he knows slipped through at some point throughout the day. He thumbs open his conversation with Sam, seeing a couple unread >.> faces from the last couple of hours. 

He taps the camera icon, and flips it around so it’s using the front facing camera. Bucky holds the phone out in front of his and Steve’s faces. 

“What?” 

“I have to inform Sam that I ‘got my Steve shit together’ and he can’t argue with photographic evidence,” Bucky explains and grabs Bucky Ducky with his other hand and putting it into frame. Bucky raises an eyebrow at the screen, but his expression completely changes to one of surprise when he takes the picture and feels Steve placing a kiss on his cheek. 

“Photographic evidence,” Steve repeats. “Nothing more damning of you getting your 'Steve shit' together than a coupley photo.” 

Well, if there were any doubts about where they stood, there aren’t now. 

Bucky rolls his eyes and a blush creeps along his cheeks. “Who even taught you about those? I thought I was going to be safe from sappy photos.” 

Steve moves so he can rest his head on Bucky’s shoulder. “Bucky, I’m not sure why you think the 21st century invented sappy couple photos, because it definitely did not.” 

Bucky mumbles nonsense to himself as he goes to text Sam. And saves the photo. 

TO: Sam Sparks [1:47am] 

JPG.2077

I got my Steve shit together.  

FROM: Sam Sparks [1:50am]

Looks like you got your Steve. 

Happy for you, man. 

“So in case you were confused, we’re totally dating now,” Steve says. 

Bucky raises an eyebrow. “I’m pretty sure I was the one to tell you that, but alright. Now that we’ve established that, let’s move onto the other things I told myself I had to talk about. Namely, your new suit, whether you’re gonna wear Under Armour to my work and how I’d survive that, and how excellent you look in blue.” 

“Oh, doll. You flatter me.” Steve grins and sits up just enough to be level with Bucky, only a couple of inches separating their faces. When Steve doesn’t move any further, Bucky rolls his eyes fondly and closes the bit of distance between them. 

Even without all the adrenaline, the kiss leaves Bucky breathless. 

 

TO: Sam Sparks [12:13am]

Guess who got a new job title?  

FROM: Sam Sparks [12:15am]

The same guy who’s also gonna be buying me drinks on his next day off? 

TO: Sam Sparks [12:16am]

Nope. New job title doesn’t get me any more money, so you’ll have to find a different drink guy. 

FROM: Sam Sparks [12:19am] 

Fuck. 

Setting his phone down with a grin, Bucky looks up to see Sandra striding on over to him, followed by two excited looking heads of airport checkin and the airport gates. 

“Bucky.” Sandra starts, and Bucky raises a confused eyebrow. She’s about to speak again when the head of checkin jumps in. 

“I still can’t believe it, but Captain America just asked to have us look at his private jet!” she squeals. Sandra looks thoroughly amused. 

“Okay?” 

“By ‘us’, she means he wants you to come look at his plane,” Sandra says, sounding like she’s doing her best not to laugh. 

“I don’t know anything about planes! I work in the TSA department—we don’t deal with the actual planes!” Bucky protests. 

Head of gates gives him a one-shouldered shrug. “Don’t matter. Captain asked for you specifically to come and make sure the cockpit on his jet is in working order.” 

“The… cockpit.” That fucker, how do these people not see Steve’s game? “I still don’t deal with the planes.” 

“Doesn’t matter. Bucky, go.” 

Seeing that he’s obviously not going to get out of this, what with the heads of two different departments being starstruck by Steve, who’s already been at the airport about a thousand times, Bucky sighs and steps away from his podium. 

“I’ll cover. Try not to take too long when checking the cockpit, Barnes,” Sandra murmurs as she walks by him, and Bucky blushes. 

He walks in between the two airport heads as they chatter about how they got the call from Steve, how they never expected to talk to a superhero since they all live in Manhattan, and about how crazy it must be for Bucky and how lucky he is. 

Bucky doesn’t answer them, since the both of them talk enough to keep the conversation going and then some. They flash their passes at the ID scanner to get access through the doors marked Authorized Personnel Only, which opens to a long stretch of hallway similar to the one that leads to Airport Jail. There’s no personalization to it, just the regular greyscale walls and harsh lighting with some signs that direct to various places like luggage sorting. 

It takes a moment for Bucky to realize they’re following the directions towards “Private Hangars”. He’s never been to that part of the airport before, so even though this was a ploy by Steve to get him out of work, Bucky’s kind of excited. 

Head of gates flashes his ID card, buzzing open the door they’ve stopped in front of. “The Captain said he didn’t need anybody but you to look at his plane, no matter how many times I offered,” he mutters sadly, “so you’ll just go through these doors and head down to where it says Private Hangar C. You’ll open the door and see a plane. Should be easy enough to figure out.” 

Bucky nods in understanding, slipping through the door and finding his way to the hangar. When he opens the doors, the small plane is unmistakably Steve’s. It’s literally got his name plastered on the tail instead of the regulation numbers as well as a copy of the wings from his Cap helmet on the side of the pilot windows. 

Steve himself is leaning against the doorway of the plane, arms crossed over his chest as he smiles excitedly, brightening up upon seeing Bucky walk in. “Heya, Buck!” 

Bucky shakes his head, wishing he could cramp down on the fluttery feeling that erupts at seeing his boyfriend. This only started being a common occurrence after they got into the actual relationship. 

He bounds up the steps of the plane, doing his best to look at Steve disapprovingly, even after Steve kisses him in greeting. It doesn’t work very well. “Did you really just use the Captain America card to get every airport boss in the building to unwittingly agree to let you ravage me on a plane?” 

Steve pulls Bucky against him, walking them backwards into the plane. “And if I did?” 

“Well next time you should use something less obvious than requesting me for the cockpit.” Bucky says, rolling his eyes exasperatedly but pulling at Steve’s jacket in clear direction to take it off. No wonder Steve doesn’t look sheepish—Bucky doesn’t exactly give him any reason to. 

“But that’s where we are, silly. And, next time?” Steve says hopefully, and sure enough, he’s walked them into the front of the plane. It’s just as small and cramped as every pilot’s room on any plane, certainly small for the both of them, but Bucky isn’t going to pass up the opportunity. He rolls his eyes and leans in to nip at Steve’s bottom lip, kicking the door closed. 

“Yeah, alright.”