“What the hell is wrong with you?!” Sam wasn’t sure what his face looked like, but he was willing to bet he didn’t look very happy.
Bucky just looked at Sam and raised his eyebrows, just a little bit. “Many things, Samuel, you know this. I’m afraid you’re going to have to be a little more specific.”
Sam grunted, trying very hard not to kill Bucky then and there. “You know full well what I mean! You don’t answer my texts, for weeks might I add, and then you have the nerve to suddenly show up here?!”
Bucky did manage to look embarrassed at that, even though he didn’t look Sam in the eyes. “I was busy!.”
“Doing what exactly?”
“You know.” Bucky mumbled, still avoiding Sam’s eyes.
“One text, Bucky, that’s literally all I would’ve needed. I would even be okay with one that just said ‘im alive stop bothering me now’, wouldn’t be happy, but I’d accept it, you know.” Sam honestly had to start making better friends. Like, it’d be great if he made a friend that didn’t fuck off into the past or one that knows how to actually stay in contact. But Sam knew as no other that times were difficult and honestly he couldn’t blame Bucky for it. He didn’t exactly have the best life so far and Sam was just glad he showed up.
“Hey, if it makes you feel any better, I brought cake!” Bucky actually managed a smile and not one of the fake ones Sam had seen enough of this last year. This one actually looked… happy. Which was a new look for Bucky, but definitely a good one.
“You know how to bake?!”
“What, no? Store bought, Samuel.”
Maybe Sam should have killed Bucky when he arrived. “If you don’t stop calling me Samuel right now, I’m going to throw you off the pier.”
Bucky took a step towards Sam, looked at him, finally looking him in the eyes, and raised his eyebrows. “Yeah? How are you going to do that, Sammy? We’re like 50 feet away from the pier and I’m willing to bet I’m a lot heavier than you think.”
Sam grunted at that and took a small step away. It’s not that he didn’t want to be close to Bucky, because believe him, he really wanted to, but he figured that the cookout wasn’t the best place for doing that. “I’ll let this one slip, but only because I trained yesterday and I’m still very sore! Not because I cannot carry you, because trust me, I can, I just don’t want to overwork them, you know.” He made a point of stretching out his whole body and he couldn't help but notice Bucky staring at him. Hmm, interesting. Very interesting.
Bucky cleared his throat and looked back at Sam’s face, almost gleeful. “So, can we finally have some of that incredible food you haven’t been able to stop raving about these last few months?”
☼ ☼ ☼
Sam didn’t really get a chance to have a chat with Bucky while they were having dinner. Sure, they’d sat at the same table, but Bucky was suddenly making friends with everyone left and right. Which was… a side of Bucky that Sam hadn’t seen before. Sure, he had heard the stories, but ever since he met him, Bucky has been… holding back apparently. Sam couldn’t blame the guy of course, and this was a welcome sight. A lot of the neighbours came to say hi to Bucky, because apparently word spread fast around here. Bucky managed to charm every single one of them, Sam included.
His nephews were glued to Bucky’s side the whole evening. They were enthralled by his vibranium arm for one, and they were amazed by his strength. Sam had missed a lot of their lives, but it looked like they were very happy and he wasn’t taking that from them. Sarah kept glancing at Sam, but he kept ignoring her very pointedly. He knew what he looked like when he looked at Bucky and he wasn’t very interested in talking with his sister about that. So, he spent the dinner catching up with neighbours and friends who he hadn’t seen for about five years. They kept talking his ears off about what he had missed in the time he was gone and how happy they were “he had finally brought someone home. It was about time again.” Sam wasn’t even in the mood to correct them, so by the end of the dinner almost everyone believed he and Bucky were together and Sam wasn’t sure that he even minded. But of course news travelled fast and before he knew it he was being pulled away by a very strong vibranium arm.
“Buckaroo.” Bucky’s eyes shot up and looked straight at Sam.
“What?! If you’re gonna call me Samuel I can’t give you a nickname?” Sam walked away, looked behind him to see if Bucky was following, yes he was, of course, and took a seat on the edge of the pier. Bucky sat down next to him, leaving absolutely zero personal space between them, which meant they were touching from shoulder to legs.
“You do know Bucky’s not my real name right? So you’re like, making a nickname of a nickname.”
“Yeah, well, it’s fun. It’s a cooler name than Bucky, anyway.” Sam challenged him. Honestly, Sam loved the name Bucky. He loved Buck even more, but he wasn’t sure if Bucky was ready for that yet. After all, the last time Sam called him that, he was pretty sure Bucky was going to push him out of the plane. So until they got to that place, he’d call him Bucky. Or Buckaroo. Or Buckabee. Buckadoodle was also a good one, but Sam didn’t think he’d get out of it alive if he called him that.
Bucky looked at Sam and laughed, another one of his real laughs, which were starting to come out more and more. Sam had seen him laugh like that a few times during dinner and it made his insides do some funny things. “Fine. Then I’m calling you Sammy.”
“That’s what my sister used to call me.”
Bucky smiled, put his arm around Sam and rested it on his shoulder. He looked out onto the water with a peaceful smile on his face. “It’s a good name. Hey Sammy?”
“Why did almost everyone that I’ve spoken to congratulate me and say that ‘we’ make a really cute couple?” He looked at Sam and Sam could see a sparkle in Bucky’s eyes. At least he wasn’t upset. He was happy almost.
Sam tried to look him in the eyes, which was a little difficult, seeing as they were sitting next to each other in a very close proximity. So instead he settled for looking half at Bucky and half back at the party, that was still going in full swing. “People just. They kept talking about everything I’d missed these last few years and then they all said how happy they were that I finally brought someone home again, after all these years. And I didn’t really feel like correcting them, you know? They all looked so happy.” Sam almost whined. “Why would I tell them the truth?”
“Well Sammy, maybe because we’re not together…” Bucky laughed. It wasn’t a real laugh though, it was more like a breathless laugh. Not one of the real ones, there was almost a little sadness behind it.
“Buck.” Bucky looked at Sam and he was doing that weird staring thing again. Okay, so no Buck yet. How about…
“Buckadoodle?” At that Bucky couldn’t help but laugh. He had to remove his arm from Sam’s shoulder, Sam tried very hard not to be a little disappointed at that, so he could clutch his chest while he was laughing. Yeah, Sam had been learning Bucky’s different laughs the last couple of months and he was sure this was a new one. Probably not for Bucky, but for Sam, definitely. This was a full-blown happy laugh, where he was squinting his eyes due to the laughter, and Sam could even see some tears forming. Sam was trying very hard to keep a steady face, but Bucky’s laughter was so infectious, that he couldn’t help but join in for a bit. After they had cooled down, and Bucky had wiped his eyes, Bucky looked back at Sam. He even turned his body a bit, so he could fully look Sam in the eyes.
“I like Buckadoodle. You can keep saying that.” He hurried to add “If you want to, of course. Anyway, you were about to say something.”
“Yeah, uh, you know I’m not the best at words.”
“Bro, look who you’re talking to.”
Sam tried to suppress a laugh at that, and failed. “Okay, fair point. I just.” Deep breaths, Sam. It’s only Bucky. You know what you want to say. You’ve literally practiced this before. Yeah, yeah, I know. Not the thing to focus on right now. “You trust me, right?” Bucky nodded and scooted a little closer to Sam. Their knees were touching right now and they were so close. “Same. Can I ask you a question?” Another nod. “What did you feel when you found out all my neighbours thought we were together?”
Sam almost couldn’t believe it, but he was fairly sure Bucky was blushing. Who had thought. James Buchanan Barnes, 106 years old, blushing like a schoolgirl. “Are you going to make me say it out loud?” Bucky groaned, closed his eyes and turned his head towards the sky.
“I mean, if you really don’t want to-” Sam backtracked immediately. The last thing he wanted to do was make Bucky uncomfortable.
Bucky opened his eyes again and looked into Sam’s eyes. He mumbled something so softly that Sam couldn’t hear. “You may have super hearing, but I am in fact a very regular human being and I do not. So, mind speaking up just a little bit?” Sam teased.
“Fine. I liked it very much. I would like it very much if we were together.” Bucky was back to avoiding Sam’s eyes, but he had a small smile on his face.
“Sam! Don’t be mean! Say something or I’m throwing you into the water.”
That got a laugh out of Sam and Bucky couldn’t help but chuckle as well. “Can I try something?”
Bucky narrowed his eyes. “If it involves me and water, then no Samuel you may not.” Sam decided to let the name slip for now, because he was focusing on something way more important. “No Buckaroo, it does not. Now, mind closing your eyes?”
He immediately obeyed and Sam was left staring at a very relaxed Bucky. “If I’m interpreting this correctly and you don’t like it, feel free to shove me into the water or whack me on the head or something.”
Bucky chuckled and whispered, “Just kiss me, Sam.”
So Sam did exactly that. He cupped Bucky’s face in his hands and leant forward. Bucky put one hand on Sam’s cheek and the other on his waist. Their lips met very softly, almost just a quick peck. That only fuelled something in Sam even more and immediately went in for another kiss, this one a little less sweet and more needy. Not too much of course, Sam was still a gentleman, but just enough. He felt Bucky responding to everything he did and he could even feel him smiling. After a while they had to pull back, both of them a little out of breath.
“Ha! Did I just make a super soldier tired?” Sam couldn’t help but gloat.
“Shut up.” Bucky smiled at Sam and put his other hand also on Sam’s waist. “That was nice.”
“It was. Very nice, Barnes.”
“You’re not too bad yourself, Wilson.” They put their faces together, just their foreheads touching, and stayed like that for a while.
“So, was the sofa comfortable enough last time that you’d consider doing it again?”
Bucky fake gasped at that. “Sammy! We haven’t even gone on a date yet, and you’re already inviting me over to your place?”
Sam took Bucky’s hand in his, stood up, and tugged Bucky with him. “Stop being such a dumbass. If you behave well enough, you may even get to crawl into my bed tomorrow morning for some cuddling.”
“Oooh, cuddle time with Captain America, yes please!”
“You’re such a loser.” Bucky kissed him at that, and after a way too intense kiss for where they were, they broke apart and walked back to Sam’s truck, hand in hand.