It was a hand shake that did it.
Bucky had had his back to the wall, no escape in sight. It was, admittedly, his fault, both Sam and Steve had told him not to go in. But he had it. He… almost, had it. If he hadn’t been kicked in the face he’d have made it out fine. But he had been kicked in the face, and his coms had been taken and smashed, and so now he was trapped, with his back, literally, against the wall.
There were four guys walking toward him, pointing guns at his face, he really hated when they pointed guns at his face. And then there… weren’t. There was the very obvious sound of bullets being fired and the guys fell to the ground. Bucky squinted into the darkness behind them, his hand going instinctively to his gun and then relaxing as Sam’s little buddy flew into view. Bucky sighed, his shoulders drooping for a moment before he gave the little flying thing a two fingered salute. It hovered in front of him, not moving.
“Redwing, right?” Bucky asked, walking a bit closer. The little bird bobbed up and down in the air. Bucky nodded.
“Great. You uh, you wanna get me outta this hell hole or should I just wonder around some more?” Bucky asked, looking into the camera he knew was there, looking at Sam. The bird hovered, not moving.
“Okay. That’s helpful.” Bucky said dryly and stepped past the bird, heading down the hall in front of him. After a few seconds, the thing flew past his head and down the hall, leading him. Bucky rolled his eyes and smiled as he followed it through the maze of hallways and out into the sunlight. Sam and Steve were waiting for him. Steve clapped him on the shoulder, patting the side of his face and wiping away a little blood from his cheek, Bucky swatted him away. Steve laughed and headed for the edge of the building to wait for their ride home. Sam nodded when Bucky looked at him.
“Thanks man. I appreciate it.” Bucky said, holding his arm out. Sam smiled a small smile and swung his arm up to meet Bucky’s, not for a normal handshake, it was more of a soldier’s solidarity hand shake, his hand hitting Bucky’s forearm and grabbing, Bucky doing the same to him.
The moment Sam’s skin touched his he felt it. The tug that had been blooming under his ribs since he’d met Sam had blossomed into a warm pulse, surging through his body with every heartbeat. Warmth flowing from the place Sam was touching him, up his arm, into his chest and then out again. He could feel it everywhere, in his arm, in his toes, wedged under his ribs. It seemed to have nestled itself there, replacing the dull pull he’d been feeling with a bright, white, feeling. A feeling so pure it made him dizzy.
He controlled his face by some miracle and dropped his hand when Sam dropped his. Bucky kept his eyes on Sam’s face but he clearly hadn’t felt it. At least not the way Bucky had. And that was fine. Bucky had been doing a lot of reading about soulmates since he’d gotten back to himself. Mainly because, he’d been feeling things. Things he’d never felt back in the day. He remembered Steve always talking about how it felt, with Peggy. The burning feeling. The pull you had before the bond revealed itself. But Bucky had never felt any of that, had mostly convinced himself that people were making it up, for whatever reason, because they wanted someone, someone that was just for them.
And then he’d met Sam. And the pull in his chest might as well have been a kick in the teeth. So he’d started reading. He would have asked Steve, but that would have resulted in questions. And Steve was damn persistent when he wanted to figure things out. So Bucky kept his mouth shut and read.
Apparently, some people didn’t “click” at the same time. In fact, that happened a lot. One person typically had the bond revealed before the other. So, Bucky wasn’t worried. He’d wait. He liked Sam. A lot. He was a good man. And if he was being honest, he was sure Sam deserved a better soul mate than him. But he knew what he’d felt when Sam had touched him. He knew what he felt every time he looked at Sam, or was around him. Knew it made his chest ache every time he touched Sam and Sam didn’t respond the way the fire in his chest was telling him he should. The pain only ebbing away once Sam was out of sight.
After a while he learned to control it. That burning under his ribs. It was easier once he relaxed. Once he stopped expecting Sam to react. He just… let it go. He didn’t push it down, he’d read that that could make things worse. He just, let go. And things got better after that. He could be around Sam and only feel the familiar pull, a little stronger than before it had “clicked” but it wasn’t an unpleasant feeling. Bucky found he kind of liked it, really liked it, in fact. It relaxed him. That pull under his ribs letting him know that Sam was around, that he was safe.
As the years passed the pull got stronger. He could sense Sam further away. Rooms away at first, then, later, miles away. He could feel him on missions. The pull in Bucky’s chest let him know Sam was okay, that he was alive. And that let Bucky concentrate on his work.
Except for when it didn’t.
Sam had gotten shot on a mission a few years in, and Bucky felt it. He felt it in his chest. That fire there flaring up like an atomic bomb had just gone off inside him. He’d taken their target early and then he’d fought his way to Sam, taking out anyone who got in his way. No one really thought anything of it, he was the closet to Sam, it made sense that’d he fight to get to him after he’d been hit. And Sam had been fine. Bucky had known that before he even reached him. But that didn’t matter to the fire in his chest. It didn’t matter to the throbbing in his shoulder where he’d felt the bullet go through Sam’s body like it was going through his too. He’d picked Sam up and got them out of there as fast as he could, sitting beside Sam in the med wing for as long as they’d let him.
He’d come close to telling Sam then. It had hurt so much and he’d almost pulled Sam close and let it slip. But he’d taken several deep breaths and let go of the urge. He had to wait for Sam. He couldn’t pressure or push him. He’d get there, eventually… he hoped. Sam wasn’t one to talk about soul mates. Bucky was pretty sure he was afraid that he didn’t have one. Bucky got that. And sometimes, laying in the dark of his room, his hand on his chest, feeling Sam there, he thought maybe telling him would be a good thing. Letting Sam know he wasn’t alone would be a good thing. But it didn’t feel right. He couldn’t push himself on Sam. He wouldn’t.
So, he kept it to himself, hurting a little sometimes, but nothing he couldn’t handle, and mostly when Sam was hurting. He’d feel down when Sam did, he’d feel happy when Sam did. He’d once laughed randomly during a meeting at shield because of some happy thing Sam was feeling and he’d had to walk out. But Sam never gave any sign that he was feeling anything other than friendship. And that was okay too. Because their friendship had a good feeling too. Sam liked it, being around Bucky. Bucky could feel him feeling things when they were close. And what Sam felt around Bucky was…calm. And content. And Bucky was more than happy to live with that knowledge for the rest of his life, if that was all he got he’d be fine with it. He was fine with it.
And then he’d caught Sam staring at him.
Bucky had been laughing at Steve, he’d made a fool of himself, again. He’d tried to ask the cute guy he’d met at an after-hours art gallery thing on a date and he’d spilled red wine down the front of his white dress shirt. He’d come in dragging his feet and looking like a kicked puppy, a kicked puppy with a large purple stain on its shirt, and Bucky had lost it. He laughed so hard he was crying, tears falling down his face, his ribs aching. He laughed until Steve sighed and slumped out of the room. Once he’d gotten himself back under control he’d seen it, Sam, staring at him.
He’d shaken himself out of it after a few seconds of Bucky looking at him. They both pretended it didn’t happen. But it did. And Bucky could swear he’d felt a tug in his chest, a different kind of tug, like he was a spider at the center of its web, feeling vibrations on one of its finely weaved threads.
A few months later it happened again. It had been happening off and on over the months, but not as intensely.
He and Sam had been sitting on the couch. His feet were tucked under Sam’s thigh, his toes had been cold and Sam had insisted. They touched casually a lot now. Bucky was used to the rush at the contact. It used to set him on edge but he’d learned to take the touches and let them happen. They calmed him now. Sam’s hand was resting on his ankle and Bucky’s arm was tucked under his head as they watched tv. Then Steve walked in looking happy, he was beaming, glowing even.
“Well don’t you look as happy as a raccoon in a dumpster?” Bucky said, looking up at Steve with a smile.
“Really?” Sam asked, looking at Bucky, his brows raised. Bucky looked to him, closed his eyes and shook his head.
“I don’t know it’s just what came out.” He said. Sam smiled softly and nodded. They both looked back to Steve in unison.
“So, why are you glowing?” Bucky prompted, Steve’s cheeks turned red and he bounced on the balls of his feet.
“He said yes. We’re going out. Saturday night.” Steve said, his breathing uneven in his excitement. Bucky scrambled into a sitting position and both he and Sam leaned forward, talking fast and asking questions in a rapid fire back and forth.
“Holy shit! That’s great!” Bucky nearly yelled.
“That’s amazing man! Soooo, come on, give us the details.” Sam said.
“What’s he like?”
“What’s he do?”
“Is he cute?”
“We know he’s cute Sam, Steve has made that abundantly clear.”
“Oh shit, yeah, how could I forget? Is he nice though? That’s important.”
“Oh yeah Stevie he better be nice or we’ll have to sit him down and have a talk.” Bucky said, motioning between him and Sam.
“And what’s prince Charming’s name anyway? You learned that, right?” Sam prompted, he and Bucky both scooted forward a little, Bucky opened his mouth to ask another question and Steve held up his hands.
“I can’t answer your questions if you don’t stop asking them.” Steve said, sounding put out. Bucky turned to Sam and raised his eyebrows. Sam snorted and then they both looked back to Steve, Bucky held his hands out, palms up, motioning for Steve to talk.
“Thank you. He’s smart, and funny. He’s an artist. Don’t make that face at me Buck. He’s very cute. I’ve said that before. He’s…he’s great guys, okay. I mean so far. I don’t really know his so well yet. But I do know he lost his soul mate. That’s kind of how we met. I lied about that. It wasn’t an art thing. It was group for people how lost their soul mates. Sorry I lied, I just… needed to do it by myself. But really, he’s…great.” Steve rambled, his cheeks going pink again. Bucky nodded and smiled.
“Steve. I don’t care that you lied about that.” He said.
“Why would we care about that. You’re just tryin to find that someone with shared life experiences. Nothing wrong with that.” Sam said with a reassuring smile. Bucky nodded next to him. Steve seemed to relax a bit.
“Just one thing. One, small thing.” Bucky said, looking from Steve to Sam and then back again.
“What?” Steve said when Bucky just looked at him. Bucky smirked at him and leaned forward farther, his elbows sliding down his thighs to rest on his knees.
“You didn’t tell us his name.” Bucky said slowly, smiling.
“What? Sure I did.” Steve said, his face doing that thing it always used to do when he was being evasive.
“You sure didn’t.” Sam said, smiling next to Bucky. Steve huffed and looked at the ceiling. He looked back down, closed his eyes and mumbled something.
“What’s that? Speak up mumbles.” Bucky said, Sam chuckled next to him. Steve opened his eyes and glared at them, they both smiled brightly at him. Steve took a deep breath and let out slowly.
“I said, his name is Anthony.” Steve said quietly, still mumbling. Bucky dropped his jaw open and he heard Sam literally gasp next to him.
“No it’s not!” Bucky said, already holding in laughter. Steve just glared at them.
“Holy shit.” Sam breathed. Bucky snorted and then cleared his throat to stop the laugh.
“It’s-“ Bucky hummed a small noise, trying not laugh.
“It’s a good name.” he said, his voice higher than normal. Sam snorted next to him and suddenly buried his face in Bucky’s shoulder, his hand tapping on Bucky’s bicep as he shook with silent laughter. Bucky bit his lip and shook his head, still managing to keep himself together, just barely.
“Seriously man, he sounds great. Really nice. He uh-“ Bucky cut off and patted Sam’s hand on his arm.
“Shh I know.” He whispered to Sam and then looked back to Steve.
“Does he uh, does he like robots too?” Bucky asked, his voice squeaking on the last work as he finally broke and started laughing. Sam snorted loudly against his shoulder and then fell back against the couch, clutching his stomach, his face was shining with tears. Seeing him laughing so hard made it worse. Bucky doubled over, his lungs burning.
“You guys suck.” Steve grumbled, pushing Bucky off the couch as he walked past them to leave. There was a loud thud when Bucky hit the ground, the sound made Sam laugh even harder, he was gasping for air now, his hand smacking the couch as he tried to breathe through his laughter. Bucky gasped on the floor, feeling very much like a fish out of water. They laughed for almost ten minutes. Bucky feeling light headed once he finally got control again. And that’s when he noticed Sam staring. Bucky smiled at him, feeling good, feeling light. Sam smiled back.
“You think we should go apologize?” Sam asked, looking away and wiping his palms on his jeans as he sat up. Bucky shook his head and pushed himself off the floor.
“Naw. Maybe later. He knew we were gonna be jerks. That’s why he mumbled it. Now I don’t know about you, but I could use some water.” Bucky said, rubbing the wetness off his face and then holding his hand out to Sam. Sam chuckled lightly and nodded, then reached out and took Bucky’s hand, letting him pull him to his feet. Bucky tried not shiver when he took Sam’s hand, he wasn’t sure if he managed or not, but he didn’t really care. He was feeling too good to care. He did shiver when Sam threw his arm over Bucky’s shoulder’s as they walked to the kitchen, Sam either didn’t notice or pretended not too. Sam chuckled again and pulled away, walking to the fridge and throwing Bucky a water bottle.
“We really should apologize.” Sam said after taking a drink. Bucky took a big swig, his cheeks poofing out, he looked at Sam for a moment and then nodded, swallowing the water with a little difficulty.
“Yeah. We will… Should we tell Tony about it first though?” Bucky asked, taking another drink and raising his eyebrows over the bottle as he looked at Sam. Sam stared at him. And then a smile slowly stretched across his face.
“Man, yes.” Sam said, snapping his fingers and pointing at Bucky. Bucky nodded and lead Sam out of the kitchen, heading to Tony’s lab.
A few weeks later Steve was talking about his guy. But he made the mistake of calling him “my tony” in front of Sam and Bucky and they lost it again. They’d been in the training room this time. Sam had collapsed against the punching bag laughing, holding himself up. And Bucky had gotten a fist to the jaw. It didn’t stop him laughing, he just rubbed at his jaw as Steve walked out on them, grumbling about his poor choice in friends. Bucky and Sam kept laughing and went back to training. Sam somehow not noticing that they were punching their punching bags in unison.
They went to the fair about two weeks later. Steve pressured him into the fortune teller booth and Sam looked a little rattled coming out of it. Bucky was a little scared what she may have told him. But he didn’t look at Bucky any different, just took the corn dog he was offered and went on with the night. They’d made it home and started looking for small boxes and space saver bags, determined to shove the giant unicorn into the teeniest tiniest box they could find. They managed pretty well and sent the package off to Wade, grinning at each other.
Then Bucky had made that stupid joke about falling for Sam. He hadn’t meant to say it. It had just popped into his head and the adrenaline coursing through him had destroyed his brain to mouth filter. But Sam’s reaction told him he’d fucked up. He looked terrified. And then Steve had shown up, their knight in star spangled armor, and he’d pretended nothing had happened. But the following awkwardness told Bucky different. He’d really fucked up this time… maybe. Or maybe he’d said exactly the right thing. He couldn’t be sure. All he could do was wait.
He only had to wait a few weeks. Sam caved sooner than he expected. He’d been watching Aladdin, again, he fucking loved that movie, and Sam had come in and just, started talking. He was a little embarrassed, not even able to look at Bucky. So Bucky filled in the blanks for him quickly. His heart beating so fast in his chest that he thought he might actually start vibrating soon. The warmth in his chest pushing and pulling like it never had before, like the ocean was somehow being contained in his chest, tides pressing against his ribs as it struggled to get free. And then Sam had moved closer. Bucky wanted to reach out and touch, the urge stronger than it ever had been before. His skin was tingling, the air around him feeling thin and thick all at once.
Then Sam reached out and touched him.
It was like a damn breaking. Bucky wasn’t sure why it was so different this time. He guessed maybe it had something to do with intent. Sam had reached out this time, touching his hand because he wanted to touch. Knowing what Bucky was to him, accepting it. Sam’s skin touched his own and all the tension, all the need, all the one-sided feelings Bucky had been feeling for years, rushed out of him. He felt the tension behind his ribs pulse and then ebb away. His chest still filled with warmth, but it was different. It wasn’t hot, or bright, it was… soft, like sunshine in the early morning when you’ve just woken up, still lying in bed, warm and sleep fuzzy. It was like nothing he’d ever felt before.
It was like coming home.
He opened his eyes and looked at Sam. Sam had the same look on his face that Bucky knew was on his. And then Sam had startled babbling, apologizing for some imagined hurt he’d caused Bucky, and Bucky couldn’t have him thinking that. But he was, for once, at a loss for words. He kissed Sam instead, warmth surrounded them on the couch as he eased Sam’s worry. And then they were cuddled up on the couch, Sam a wonderful weight on his chest. Sam drifted off minutes later, Bucky watched him sleep for as long as he could, just because he could. Fighting off sleep just to look at him a little longer and then eventually drifting off himself.
“Hey, Buck, wake up.” Sam’s voice whispered, drifting through Bucky’s sleep filled head.
“Mmm?” Bucky groaned, not moving, he was so tired, and cozy. Their bed was always so cozy.
“Come on sleepy head, wake up, I got something funny to show you.” Sam said quietly. Bucky felt Sam’s fingers trailing gently up his back, and then felt his lips pressing kisses into his shoulder.
“Hmm.” Bucky hummed, pressing his face into the pillow and then turning over under Sam, wrapping his arms around him and pulling him down on top of him, holding him there.
“Buck let me go.” Sam said, laughing into Bucky’s shoulder. Bucky shook his head and kissed Sam’s neck, his lips barley ghosting over his skin, making him shiver.
“Seriously Buck let me- aah Buck let me go.” Bucky smirked when Sam’s hips moved against him as he ran his tongue over Sam’s neck. He did it again, dragging his teeth over the wetness and then pressing his lips to the skin and blowing as hard as he could, a ridiculous raspberry sound filing the room along with Sam’s laughter.
“Stop it you dork I have something to show you!” Sam said, trying to squirm out of Bucky’s grasp, laughing in Bucky’s ear.
“Sorry, no can do, I’ve got all I need to see right here.” Bucky said, moving his hands away from Sam despite his words, letting him roll off to lay by his side. Sam smiled at him, shaking his head. Bucky rolled onto his side, his arm under his head, and looked at Sam.
“I hope this thing is as funny as you think it is. Cuz I was havin a good time.” Bucky said.
“You were sleeping.” Sam said, rolling his eyes and fiddling with his phone.
“I can have good times in my sleep.” Bucky said, his voice going low as he reached out and pressed his hand against Sam’s chest, dragging his fingers down and smirking at him when Sam shivered again.
“Will you stop, there’ll be time for that later. I got an e-mail from Wade this morning.” Sam said, looking pointedly at Bucky. He took his hand away from Sam’s skin and pressed closer.
“Holy shit he got it.” Bucky said, sounding almost in awe. Sam nodded at him and smiled, then held his phone up so they could both see it. Wade had sent a video. Sam pressed play and the first thing they heard was Wade screaming.
“Wade. Wade! Calm down you freak.” Peter Parker’s voice said, he was clearly holding back laughter, the camera shaking a little as it moved up from the floor to show Wade. He was sitting on the floor, his legs spread in a V in front of him, his head resting on the giant unicorn Bucky had won for him.
“I CAN’T CALM DOWN PETE! LOOK AT IT!!!! IT’S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING I’VE EVER SEEN!!!” Wade yelled, looking into the camera, his face screwed up like he was pretending to sob. There was a snort from behind the camera and Wade grabbed the unicorn around the neck and rolled on the floor, hugging it close. The camera shook and turned around to show a sleep ruffled Peter, his hair sticking up in all different directions, his hello kitty pajamas wrinkled, a huge smile on his face.
“He’s been like this for almost an hour now. It’s amazing.” Peter said, the smile not leaving his face, his voice full of amusement.
“Petey come touch it! It’s so SOFT!!!” Wade yelled in the background, Peter’s mouth dropped open in a huge, giddy smile. The camera shook again and panned back to Wade. He was now star-fished on top of the unicorn, sprawled out on the floor. Peter was laughing again. And then Wade was up and on him. The camera turned around again and both their happy faces were in the frame, even though the camera was shaking like crazy.
“Seriously thanks guys! We love it! Him more so than me, but still.” Peter said, tilting his head to the side so that Wade could push closer.
“I love it so much thank youuuuuuu! It’s the best present anyone’s ever given me! And the way it exploded out of the box was SO COOL!” He shouted, making Peter flinch, and then he was gone again. The camera stayed on Peter.
“I better go. You don’t want to see what he’s doing now. It’s-“
“They might wanna see!”
“They really don’t.”
“You don’t know their lives Petey!”
“No, But I know mine, and I don’t wanna be seeing what I’m seeing and I love you. So…yeah.”
“Okay wow, rude.”
“Not rude, just…it’s weird.” Peter said, making a face. They heard Wade scoff in the background and then Peter screamed and the camera shook violently.
“Wade no, I don’t want to be a part of this! I don’t love the unicorn that way! Wade no!” Peter yelled, laughing loudly, and then the video cut off. Sam and Bucky looked turned to each other slowly.
“He’s dead right?” Bucky asked, his voice extremely serious, his eyes wide. Sam’s lips twitched as he nodded.
“Definitely.” Sam said.
“He’ll be missed.” Bucky said, pressing his fist to his mouth and pretending to cry. Sam snorted, tossed his phone onto the nightstand, and rolled on top of Bucky.
“Sam no! I don’t wanna be a part of this!” Bucky screeched, making Sam laugh as they rolled around in the sheets of their always cozy bed.