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The Bucket

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“You have got to be freaking kidding me.” Sam glared at the Beetle as if he could melt it with his eyes or maybe encase it in stone, like the Bug they’d put inside that Seattle troll statue’s fist he’d seen when he was on his way to PJ training at McChord. “Did you miss the part where we’re supposed to be hiding from the bad guys, not calling attention to ourselves with a beater Bug?”

“They’re surprisingly roomy!” Steve’s forced cheer only made the whole thing more insulting. Sam was not putting his sublime ass in that brokedown old bucket—he was pretty sure something had died in it, he could smell it even this far away. What did they even have here—raccoons? Badgers? Maybe a hedgehog. “The curved roof gives us lots of headroom.”

It was hard to get a read on Barnes but Sam was pretty sure he didn’t like it either.

“Maybe the new Beetles these days, but this thing is a hell of a lot smaller and even those don’t exactly fit three big guys. I know, I dated a girl who drove one. The doors are practically falling off it, how much better you think the engine is gonna be? It’s a two-hour drive. On the autobahn, Steve. The autobahn.”

“Look, between the two of us we only have so many euros and we can’t use cards. I sure as hell don’t have my international drivers license on me, do you? This guy’s willing to give it to us no questions asked and until we get to Sharon, we’re kind of up a creek with no paddle.”

Sam glanced at Barnes for backup, but he only shrugged. Asshole.

“Fine, whatever. Shotgun,” Sam said, narrowing his eyes at Barnes.

Bucky shouted, “What?” and took a step back, pulse jumping in his throat and his face so stricken Sam almost forgot about the fact that the dude had tried to kill him four freaking times. FOUR.

“It just means who gets to ride in the front passenger seat, Jesus, chill, I’m not asking you to actually use one on the guy. How do you not know that, Highlander? It’s been around since the stagecoach days. You know, the guy who rode on top with the shotgun?”

“Sam…” Try as he might, Steve couldn’t hide the fact that he was verging on a laugh. There was still a lot of trauma here, but flipping Bucky shit seemed to bring him out of himself, and Sam was willing to take his cues from Steve in this respect.

“Because I grew up in New York during the damn Depression, genius. It wasn’t like we had a car.” His eyes darted to Steve’s, as if he was looking for confirmation or something.

“We didn’t even learn to drive till we were in the army, either of us.” Ugh, the way those two were looking at each other now was too annoying.

“So, what, does he just get to call the front seat and I don’t get a say?” Bucky gave Steve a concentrated dose of puppy-dog eyes, a really freaking unfair advantage.

Steve heaved a giant put-upon sigh. “Look, I’ll say it again. You don’t have to do this, Sam. I’ve got backup coming, you should take care of yourself, get out of this now before it gets any worse. You’ve been a great friend to us both and you don’t need to do any more.”

With a huff and a shake of the head, Sam said, “And how’s that gonna look. Everyone else getting involved and me ditching you when you need it the most. That ain’t what friends or colleagues do. That ain’t what I do.” He raised his eyebrows at Bucky and gave him a half smile.

Steve nodded and looked down at the ground, and he could swear he saw a little glimmer in Bucky’s eyes.

“But I am not sitting in the back of the goddamn bus. I am telling you that right now,” Sam said emphatically.

“Rock paper scissors?” Bucky offered and Steve just held his hands up, trying to appease.

Sam grudgingly held his fist out, and Steve counted, “One…two…three.”

“Ha!” Sam shouted, maybe a little too gleeful at Bucky’s crestfallen face. Somehow he’d known Bucky would choose rock; he bet Steve always went for scissors. “Bite me. Go get the stupid keys for your stupid car and let’s blow this stupid pop stand.” Barnes muttered something in a language Sam couldn’t identify as Steve grinned and patted him on the shoulder. This was gonna be one loooong-ass drive.