Bucky hated that there was only one shower and bathroom in the apartment. He'd seen how places were built now days, felt like nearly every bedroom had a bathroom attached to it. Unfortunately, when he and Sam got back from the blip, a sketchy apartment with only one bathroom was all they could afford. And that was with their combined money, never the less on their own.
Hated that he had to bring clothes into the bathroom, only for the humidity to make them damp, because he was too damn afraid of walking back to his room with only a towel. Because what if Sam saw him?
He knew it was unreasonable, on some level of consciousness. Knew Sam wouldn't care, if he didn't care about so many other things Bucky had going for him. What would a couple scars do to change that?
It still made him sick to look at himself, though.
And he couldn't get his brain to stop asking itself what Sam's reaction would be, if that was Bucky's. Knew enough to know it wouldn't be a good one.
Sam had asked about it, a few times. Not directly. Wasn't even sure Sam knew about how bad the scar was. But during the warmer seasons, he'd ask why Bucky never wore tanktops. Never went to bed shirtless. Never went swimming. Bucky would respond with a glare, telling Sam to drop it— and he would, which Bucky was thankful for each time.
Today, however, went differently than usual.
Bucky went for his daily morning shower: normal. Sam went for his morning run: also normal. Where it went wrong, however, was after Bucky stepped out of the shower. Picking up his clothes and beginning to put them on, when Sam barged into the bathroom not realizing Bucky was still there.
They both froze, Bucky half dressed with underwear and pulling his pants up above his knees. That wasn't the part Bucky was worried about, though. And it didn't seem to be the part Sam was focusing on either. At first, Sam's eyes shot up to meet Bucky's, standing in the doorway, before they fell to the shoulder.
Bucky could feel his stomach churn, like he was going to throw up and his stomach was going to come out with it.
But he still couldn't find it in him to move, to open his mouth and say something. It was just stuck and he couldn't do anything. He hated it. Instead his eyes were trained on Sam, bracing for whatever reaction was to come. For some reason expecting himself to be yelled at, and preparing himself for that. His posture was strict, shoulder blades drawing together to meet in the middle of his back, jaw clenched, waiting for something.
Sam swallowed hard, eyebrows relaxing into a more natural position. "So that's what all the sneaking around's been about?" He tried to joke, though his eyes were still fixated to where flesh met metal. Bucky made a little noise in response, he wasn't sure what he had wanted it to be or if he'd wanted it to come out at all. "Does it hurt?"
And it was an honest question. An honest and sincere question Bucky hadn't been expecting. He'd been expecting disgust from Sam, not sympathy.
"Sometimes, yeah." He was finally able to get it out, to will himself to move enough to say something. Once he realized he could move, he turned around and started teaching for his shirt. Trying to cover it. To keep Sam from seeing too much, because Sam was being nice about it for now but he didn't know if that'd last.
"I'm sorry." Again, it was so sincere. And again, Bucky hadn't been expecting it, causing him to pause in place for a few seconds once again.
"It's not fine, Bucky. You didn't deserve what they did to you." It shouldn't have affected Bucky as much as it did to hear those words. Shouldn't have had to stop himself from shaking, to will his legs to work under him. "Can I…?" Sam voice trailed off, and Bucky almost fell to his knees. He didn't, though. He kept himself together enough to stay standing and to give a nod.
He still couldn't help but flinch when the hand touched his shoulder, where the scar began. No one had touched him there in so long, at least not with a gentle hand, and Sam was. It was gentle and caring and the touch conveyed everything Sam wanted to say.
Bucky sagged under the touch. The finally allowing himself to relax in front of Sam since he'd walked in.
They spent that night sitting together, Sam rubbing massage oil into Bucky's shoulders in hopes to get some of the tension and pain out. It helped, a bit, though it didn't make much of a difference to Bucky. That doesn't mean he didn't ask Sam to repeat it every night for months, though, because it was nice to have someone look at it without disgust. And
Bucky knew that, eventually, with Sam's care he might be able to tolerate the scar left by Hydra too.
That, just maybe, one day he could come to accept it as part of himself. To one day grow to not be ashamed of it.
The massages brought him one step closer to that. Letting it be out in the open, not hidden under clothing like he'd kept it since escaping Hydra. He trusted Sam, though. Trusted him to not judge Bucky, to take care of him. Even the ugly parts.