Sam pushed the notebook and pen across the breakfast table to Steve.
“Come on, man. Just try it. You might like it more than you think,” Sam said.
Steve sighed. He was tired of everyone he knew trying to fix him. He was fine. The Avengers were doing great. Bucky was back and living with him in the tower. What more could he ask for?
“I’m not a writer, Sam,” he replied.
“You don’t need to be. You keep too much bottled up. It’s not good for you. Now, if you really don’t want to give it a try you could always go see a therapist or something…” Steve glared at him. He didn’t want to talk to a stranger. He didn’t need to talk to anyone. “Yeah, I thought not. So try the writing.”
Sam was just trying to help. Even if Steve didn’t think he needed help. Even if he thought there wasn’t anything that could help. He took the notebook and pen.
“You ok, doll?” Bucky asked.
Steve rubbed his eyes. He’d been staring at this stupid empty notebook for so long that Bucky had gotten back from his evening sparring appointment with Nat.
What was he even supposed to do with this? All of the things that had happened to him were just too big. There weren’t any words for what it felt like to watch Bucky fall, to wake up without him, and then to find him again as a weapon for Hydra.
Crashing the Valkyrie. All the years in the ice. Hydra being in Shield. Everyone dying. Peggy dying.
All he could do was just stare at the page. It seemed too small a space for those thoughts. He didn’t even know how to break them down into words.
“Steve?” Bucky walked up behind him and put one hand on his shoulder.
“I’m fine, Buck. Just thinking,” Steve responded.
“…Alright. You wanna cuddle on the couch before bed?”
“Yeah. Yeah, that’d be great.”
He shut the notebook and shook his head. This was never going to work.
“Well?” Sam asked Bucky. The two of them were ostensibly out about town to help Bucky readjust to being in public again. More accurately, they had left the tower so they could gossip about Steve.
“Nothing. He just stares at it, frowning like I stole his last pair of clean socks.” Bucky sighed. It had taken him months to get to the point where he felt more like a person than a weapon, but the more he remembered about his past and growing up with Steve the more he realized that Steve wasn’t doing so well himself.
The memories he regained of Steve were filled with smiles, laughter, and passion. That kid liked to think himself funny; always had a joke on hand and a grin to lighten up the room. Growing up the two of them palled around, played games, went on adventures, got into scrapes…
The Steve he sees now, dedicated though he may be, never smiled let alone laughed. After Bucky started sleeping through the night himself, he realized that Steve wasn’t staying awake for his sake. Steve just couldn’t sleep in general; said he hadn’t been able to since he woke up from the ice.
The kid Bucky used to know had dreams. He was gonna do something someday. Ironically, the guy Bucky knows now is the fulfillment of all of those dreams. Despite that he seemed…hollow. Empty. Yeah, Steve did everything he could to help every day, but he had no hopes for himself beyond continued service. He never made plans for the future and refused to talk about the past.
And the way he threw himself into harmful situations turned Bucky cold. Steve had never been afraid of a fight, but the way he acted now was beyond reckless. It was like he wasn’t even trying to dodge sometimes.
The very few times Bucky had seen him be genuinely happy were all after they became lovers as well as friends. While Bucky felt proud and lucky that he got to be the one that brightened Steve’s life, he knew that he couldn’t be the only thing.
So he enlisted Sam, who apparently knew something was a little off with his friend but had no idea how bad it really was. Like everyone else in the future, he had just assumed that Steve was a somber guy.
Getting Steve to try and express himself through writing was only the latest in a long list of things they had tried to carefully nudge Steve’s way. So far it looked like it was working about as well as everything else.
Sam tapped his fingers on one knee.
“Alright. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll try and think up something else that way I’ll be ready next time I talk to him.”
Bucky shook his head.
“Good luck, man.”
They both knew how stubborn Steve could get when he had decided he didn’t want to do something. Sam was going to need all the luck he could get.
Steve tried several more times over the course of the week, but each time he just ended up staring at blank pages. He said as much to Sam the next time they got together for lunch.
“I’m sure that it really is helpful for some folks Sam, just not for me,” Steve said as he cut his sandwich in half.
“Uh huh. Have you given it a chance? Like, really gave it a solid go?” Sam asked.
“Yes, and nothing happened. I’ve been staring at an empty notebook for days.”
Sam leaned back and pursed his lips in thought.
Good, Steve thought. Maybe Sam would leave him alone now.
“Maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way.” Steve felt briefly relieved and vindicated. “Alright, try this. Try writing something fun.”
“Fun? Really Sam?”
“Yes, really. Look. It doesn’t need to be realistic. It doesn’t even need to be something that makes sense. Just…write about something that makes you happy. Anything. Think of it like…a happy day dream. Try that.”
Steve quietly munched on his sandwich and while he mulled this over in his mind.
Two days later and he was still thinking about it.
Write something that made him happy.
Being able to reconnect with Bucky was the happiest part of his life, even if it was shadowed a bit by all the trauma Bucky was still working through and all the guilt that Steve felt over the whole situation.
If he had only been a little better he would have caught Bucky before he fell and none of this would have happened. If he had only gone looking for the Bucky, Hydra would have never gotten him. If only he had been around in the years after maybe he would have found the Winter Soldier sooner.
Steve sighed. He was so bad at this.
He tried again.
If he could have anything, do anything, what would that be?
Well. Being with Bucky helped. ‘Boyfriends’ seemed to tame a word for them and ‘lovers’ too exotic. Partners, maybe? Steve had been fantasizing about Bucky since they were teenagers. Those happy fantasies were one of the few things that got him through the first two years out of the ice.
Steve chewed his lip in thought. Write happy day dreams, huh. His happiest day dreams were always of Bucky.
He grabbed a pen and opened the notebook. Before he could think about it, he wrote down the first thing that came to mind.
Bucky gives great blow jobs.
Steve winced and chucked a bit. How bland it looked written then alone; how embarrassing, even. And then Steve realized it.
He was smiling. He even chuckled a bit.
Sam was right.
Steve furtively glanced around his living room. For the first time in ages he felt a trickle of excitement. It felt like he was doing something illicit; something delightfully disallowed.
Not that he thought Bucky would mind at all. Steve learned long ago that if something involved sex, Bucky was generally happy to at least give it a try. When they became partners, that little habit had been a great barometer for how Bucky was feeling.
There were still many, many nights were Bucky couldn’t deal with sexual contact, preferring to cuddle or simply not touch at all. Steve was just so damn grateful Bucky was there in the first place, it didn’t matter much to him what they did.
But the fact of the matter was that Steve couldn’t imagine Bucky being upset at Steve writing smutty things about him.
Still. It felt weird to write about that kind of thing here in the living room. Out in the open. Where anyone could see.
He glanced around the room. No one was around; no one would be around for a couple of hours.
Steve tried another sentence.
Bucky has beautiful hair. It is fun to pull.
Steve grinned. This was so exciting!
He spent the rest of the evening happily scribbling down whatever random smutty thing he could think of.
Bucky came home from his target practice session with Clint and was greeted with the sight of Steve hunched over the notebook Sam got him, giggling like a maniac.
Bucky’s jaw dropped a little.
“Steve?” he called out.
Steve’s back immediately shot straight and he slammed the notebook closed.
“Bucky!” he squeaked.
Steve Rogers just squeaked. Bucky’s eyebrows hit his hairline. The last time he heard Steve squeak like that was when they were kids and Bucky had caught Steve looking at a Tijuana Bible.
“Everything alright?” Bucky asked.
“Fine! I’m fine! Everything is fine! I’m just gonna. Go. Into the bedroom. And write a bit. You know. In my notebook.” And with that Steve was gone like a shot down the hallway.
Bucky just stood there gaping.
“Huuuuuuuuuh,” was the only thing he could think of to say.
He wandered into the kitchen and grabbed a glass of lemonade from the fridge while he pondered this strange new turn of events. Steve came out shortly after that, a little flushed and still sort of smiling.
“Hey! How was shooting with Clint?” he asked.
“Good. It’s always fun to try and beat the birdbrain,” Bucky replied easily.
“Think you might be up for a little couch time? Jarvis has the next season of that British Baking show you like all queued up.”
Steve seemed…lighter, somehow. Like maybe the weight of the safety of the world wasn’t quite as heavy right then. Bucky felt a huge grin split his face and a warm buzzing in his chest. He wondered if this is what Steve felt like when Bucky first started to regain bits of his old self after moving in with him.
“Yeah, Stevie. I’d really like that.”
Bucky owed Sam something really nice after this.
Steve had the whole notebook filled in days. For the first time in ages he was excited about something. He couldn’t stop thinking about all the things he wanted to write.
He also couldn’t help but think he was being a complete pervert, but. Well. To hell with it. It made him happy.
For the first time since he woke up from the ice, something other than being near Bucky made him happy. So what if it was a little…unorthodox. He was going to get as much joy out of it as he could.
That afternoon he had Jarvis order him six more notebooks.
And colored pens.
Steve couldn’t wait.