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a story all about how My Life Got Flipped, Turned Upside Down (Not the Prince of Wakanda mix)

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It takes Sam about ten minutes to really wake up. This bed is nice, the floor’s not moving, the air smells clean. It all speaks of safety. Sam has rarely woken up safely since he let Steve and Nat in his house and made them breakfast, so he's determined to enjoy it while he can.

When it starts to feel like he's sinking into the mattress, in danger of being swallowed by a pillow top, he throws off the covers and rolls to the floor,  head bowed and on his knees. “Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for waking me up this morning. I thank you for giving me a good place to sleep last night. I thank you for feeding and clothing me, giving me the strength to travel the world doing your good work.” For the first time that morning, Sam opens his eyes and looks around the room he slept in. The bright light from the eastern-facing windows makes him think he has plenty of time before anyone expects to see him.

Honestly, he doesn't know if anyone expects to see him. Getting back to Wakanda and smuggled into this royal guest house, those female guards had been focused on the greatest danger, on Bucky, and the bureaucrats? functionaries? officials? had been trying to make the King run the government. Only the flight attendants had paid any mind to him.

He closed his eyes, touched his forehead to the soft cotton sheets he'd slept under. “Dear Lord, I thought you brought Steve and the wings to me. I thought I knew what you wanted me to do with my life. I thought I understood how I’m supposed to help people. But I don't understand how I can help them as a fugitive. I don't understand, if I'm not supposed to help people with this extraordinary technology, what it is that you want me to do.

“I'm looking for a way forward, Lord. Is there anything you need me to do in Wakanda? I'm willing, but these people don't need my help. I know that they're hurting from the loss of their king, but this country is beautiful and her people are strong. Am I supposed to learn—”

Knock-knock-knock.

“Give me a second,” Sam shouts. He doesn't know if he can be heard through the thick, heavy door, so he pulls on yesterday's shirt and opens the door barefoot and unwashed.

Steve stands on the other side of the door, stone-faced the way that means he's not crying. “We can use the Dora Milaje training rooms if we're there together. Do you want to go?”

Sam shrugs. “Scott will do anything you want, man.”

“He and Clint left. They're going to sneak back in the States, go to Panama and head north,” says Steve. His shoulders collapse and he slumps against the door frame.

Sam frowns back at him. "I told you, don't ask me to run when you want to talk. Come on." He opens the door wide and steps back.

Steve sits in the armchair. He's too big for it, but Sam lets him get squeezed a bit too tight. It’s little enough to give Steve some hint of what Sam is feeling. Sam sits on the foot of the bed. The bed’s a little bit higher than normal, which makes it just right for sitting. “It's done?”

Bucky is…,” Steve nods and looks down.

He meant the cryogenics, not the man, but Sam doesn’t want to fight over semantics with a grieving widow, so…. “So, it's time for us to move on, I guess. I've been thinking about next steps, but the work we were doing was too high profile for us to just go back to it.” Sam runs a hand over his face. “I—we might never get back to New York, man. Shit—”

“There's a lot of places we can help, Sam,” Steve breaks in.

Sam closes his eyes and shakes his head. “There’s not a lot of places where my mom is. Not a lot of places where—,” his voice breaks, and he doesn’t even know what he was going to say.

“Losing everyone you knew is the worst feeling in the world,” says Steve. He gets up and sits next to Sam, puts an arm around Sam’s waist, and pulls the two of them together.

Sam sniffles, because he’s still thinking of maybe never seeing his mom again. But it’s also been too long since Steve straight up cuddled him, so he’s able to pull himself back from the brink of tears really quick, let the teasing thought out as soon as it comes to him. “That’s the problem with trying to cry on your shoulder. I always end up feeling like an asshole because your sob story is—.”

“It’s not a contest,” says Steve. “Let’s be sad together.”

“No,” says Sam, suddenly filled with resolve. His world is not ending. He’s got, well, Steve. And possibly Wanda. And a little help, however miniscule, from the ruler of the most advanced nation on Earth. And with the world the way it is now, it seems likely that some sort of global menace will come, and they’ll stop it, and the confusion about whether to applaud them or jail them will last long enough he’ll get to see his mom again.

He stands and tries (fails) to pull Steve up with him. (Steve is an immovable rock, physically and emotionally.)  “Let’s get breakfast together.”

Steve lets go of his hand, looks down at the floor. “Ok, but first. What I cam here to say is." Steve looks up at Sam through his lashes, pensive and troubled looking. "Iloveyou,” says Steve. “I’m always, I’m always running out of time, and I don’t know what’s going to happen next, so. So, I love you.”

“I know,” says Sam.

Steve blinks at him. “Han Solo ‘I know’ or…? What do I do with that?”

“You’re too fucked up to do anything with that. You’re too fucked up for me to do anything with that with you. Except, ‘I know.’” He squeezes Steve’s shoulder, then grabs his hand again and pulls until Steve stands up. “Breakfast. Meet me in the hallway dressed and ready to go in ten minutes.”

Breakfast is delicious, a stew from vegetables he doesn’t recognize, bread with a peanut-based spread on it that is really not very much like peanutbutter, and coffee plentiful and hot. Wanda wanders in during Steve's fourth bowl of stew.

Sam didn’t realize how closely they were being watched until a royal guard comes in at exactly the time that Wanda finishes her toast and coffee. The guard says, “It is a matter of national security to have some knowledge of your whereabouts and activities. Yet, it is also a matter of security that you leave. To that end, we have secured you Mbangawain passports and the most recent location of Bruce Banner. He has some experience in staying off Western radar.” She hands the passports to Sam, and he doesn’t react for a moment, because he wasn’t expecting it. No one hands him things when he’s sitting next to Steve. Except now. So, he takes them and looks. They are as described. “The passports are not Wakandan because our people don’t travel. They would only draw attention to you.”

“Of course,” says Sam. “And the lack of connection to Wakanda if we’re recaptured by the UN is a happy coincidence.”

She doesn’t respond to that, just says, “His Majesty will see you off tonight at seven,” and withdraws.

Well, Lord, thinks Sam, that’s a pretty clear pointer towards my next step.