Bucky thought it would be Tony Stark and other pro-registration Avengers that he'd have the greatest problems with after Steve came back. Because no matter what the pro-Reg side had done (and Bucky had been pretending to be too jaded by time and wars past to notice, but he'd never not listened as Fury, Sam, Sharon, and Cage had related stories) Bucky had known, deep down, that Steve would forgive them.
Steve could forgive anyone of anything; it was the only reason Bucky could wear a uniform modeled on Steve's without wanting to claw it off of his own body.
So Bucky had been prepared, even as his arms had reached out and greeted Steve back with the welcome home hug that had been put off for entirely too long, for the adjustment that would come with having to force down his hatred of the friends that, in Bucky's view, had stabbed Steve in the back. Because Steve wouldn't see it that way, especially not now that there were bigger issues to address, and reasons to set aside every difference that had torn the Avengers apart.
And Bucky wasn't going to waste time fighting with Steve. Not after the year they'd lost.
The "hey, I tried to shoot Tony Stark in the head" conversation would probably be cause for enough argument. So although Bucky didn't have any intentions of forgiving anyone for what he saw as a betrayal, he planned on keeping his disgruntlements to himself. Not for himself, not for the cause they were fighting for, but for Steve.
What Bucky hadn't been prepared for was the distaste he began to develop for the people Steve called friends who had been on the right side of the war.
Nothing they did was as in direct conflict with Steve, of course. (Well, there was Barton, but even Barton's comments lacked the biting edge that Bucky had been told they'd once carried.) Little things, like not making sure that Steve actually took time out to eat between battles, or continuing to not wash their fair share of dishes in the sink, grated on Bucky's nerves. This aggravated Bucky, because he'd always been sure that pettiness wasn't among his bad traits.
All it took was one casual comment in reference to Steve's trip through time and back for Bucky to figure out what was really bugging him. Although Bucky usually got along pretty well with Barton, the comment was enough to make Bucky question why that was. "Maybe Cap doesn't want to talk about what he went through."
The comment made Bucky realize that it wasn't just small things that was driving Bucky more insane than he already was. It was that no one, among those that should, seemed to get the fact that memories weren't something Steve would ever stop cherishing. Memories were why he forgave and why was able to pull two different teams of Avengers together into one coherent unit.
Steve's friends thought he needed to be given time to forget, when that was the last thing Steve would ever want to do, or ever would do.
And dammit, why didn't they know him better than that?
The ever-growing pile of pro-Reg teammates that kept taking up space in their increasingly shrinking headquarters made Bucky tense up and squeeze his fists into his palms to keep from punching people. But the people who Bucky expected to know Steve better than that made him want to shake them until they explained what the hell was the matter with them.
But Bucky needed his memories, as much as Steve did, and he remembered well the releases Steve had sought the last time they'd been in a war. A lot had happened since then, and Bucky wasn't sure that Steve would still welcome the same type of release from him, especially not now that Sharon was in the picture. But at the very least, Bucky would try.
Part of his plan involved cabbage soup. It was far more of a dinner food than a breakfast food, but in order for it to be any kind of surprise at all, Bucky had to make it while everyone else was asleep, with only the occasional Jessica and Danielle murmurings to keep him company.
"Does this mean you're going to stop breaking dishes?" Jessica asked, as Bucky stirred in ingredients that came entirely from sixty-year-old conversations about a mother who'd never known what a great man her son would become. There was a tiredness on Jessica's face that made Bucky feel guilty for the harsh thoughts he had been harboring about Steve's teammates, because the battles had been hard on them too.
He made an internal promise to think less harsh thoughts about them later. "I never broke any of them on purpose. I was washing them," Bucky answered.
"Uh huh." Jessica dipped a spoon into the soup pot and wrinkled her nose at the smell.
"Cabbage is supposed to stink," Bucky answered defensively. "And you try washing them with a metal arm some day."
He only broke the dishes - entirely accidentally - when he was aggravated, but somehow he didn't think telling her that would follow under his code of "be nice to Steve's friends," so he scooped up a bowl full of soup and went to Steve's room.
Steve woke up before Bucky's second step into the room. "Is that cabbage soup?" Steve asked, confusion and hopefulness in his voice.
"It is," Bucky confirmed, handing the bowl over. "It won't be as good as your mom's, but ..."
"Nothing's ever as good as what she made," Steve answered, taking a bite. "But it's wonderful, Buck. Thank you."
"You don't have to thank me," Bucky denied.
"It sounds silly, especially with everything we have to worry about right now, but do you have any idea how much I've been craving this? I hated it when it was all we had to eat, day in and day out, but - "
"But memories are important," Bucky interrupted. "And considering where you've been, the craving's probably even stronger than it used to be."
Steve looked up at him and nodded slowly. "I had to watch her make it, all over again. It's not the worst memory, but it's the smell I keep waking up to." He gave a smile that couldn't quite decide if it wanted to show up on Steve's face, and offered, "this morning is the first time it hasn't been a dream."
"Must have been some trip," Bucky prodded.
"It was. You can probably imagine the details, though, so I'll spare you."
"Don't spare me," Bucky said firmly. "Pretend I can't imagine the details."
"Why would you want me to do that?"
"Because," Bucky answered, his urge to shake Steve's friends coming back, "you're doing the stoic leader shtick to protect the rest of us. I don't need that; I didn't want it when I was a child and I certainly don't want it now."
Steve was quiet for a moment, before he said gently, "You were never a child, Bucky. The circumstances we met under never allowed it."
"Then stop treating me like one and talk to me."
Steve's hands wrapped around the soup bowl tightly, and his eyes shown with something Bucky imagined was gratitude. "Well, sit down, first."
It was the first order that Steve had ever given that Bucky obeyed without hesitation.