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The More Things Change, the More They Stay The Same

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“Come on Stevie, where are we going and why am I blind folded, again?” Bucky lifted his hand to peak under the blindfold but Steve swatted his hand away.

“No peeking, I said! Just trust me Buck, you’re gonna love this.” Steve smiled towards the blindfolded Bucky in the passenger seat. He huffed a laugh at the discontent frown he wore.

“Oh come on, you trust me right?” Steve said playfully, as he looked between the road in front of him and Bucky as he drove . Bucky’s frown switched from one side of his mouth to the other as he pretended to think it over.

“I guess. But I swear Rogers, if this is anything like the time you told me I’d like mint chocolate chip ice cream…” he shook his head and smacked his lips in disgust just remembering the bitter taste.

“Whatever… it wasn’t THAT bad. But I’ll have you know that this is NOT like that. I promise this will be a good surprise.” Steve’s smiled beamed as he reached a hand out to squeeze Bucky’s thigh a bit as he pulled into a parking space.
Bucky felt the car come to a stop. “We’re here already?” Bucky tilted his head.
“Yeah. Wasn’t a big thing. I told you that.” Steve said as he unbuckled. He saw Bucky reach for his blind fold.
“NO! Not yet.” Steve said, straightening the blindfold back up and making sure he couldn’t peek.

Bucky sighed heavily and pursed his lips. “This better be good, string bean.”
Steve warmed at the mention of his old nickname. Pre-serum of course. He hopped out of the car and went to open Bucky’s door. Bucky unfastened his seatbelt and felt steve’s hands steadying him as he stepped out of the car.

“You know I can still function even if I can’t see, right? You don’t have to keep your hands on me for my balance. I was a renowned assassin remember?” Bucky made sure there was a small smile on his lips. He knew his humor was a little drier these days and could come off as him just being a dick.“Just shut up and use those assassin skills and listen. Try to figure out where you are.” Steve said with an incredulous shake of his head. ‘And Bucky calls ME the difficult one…’

Bucky took a deep breath and exhaled slowly as he concentrated on hearing everything he could. The cool, late October wind was softly blowing his hair a bit, making it tickle his neck. He could hear seagulls above them, smell the salt in the air, hear the cacophonous sounds of children laughing and playing and the whirring of machines. But the absolute dead give-away was the unmistakable smell of ‘fair food’. The oil from the fryers mixed with sugar on the funnel cakes and the scent of hot dogs was something he’d never forget.
A big smile slowly spread across his lips. “Steven Grant Rogers…” he drawled, as he shook his head. “Well, I’ve gotta give it to you pal. It was definitely the last thing I expected.” Bucky smiled and tilted his head in the general direction of Steve’s face.

Steve reached up and slipped the blindfold off and slipped it in his pocket, making Bucky squint against the sudden brightness of the late afternoon sun.
“I thought it’d do us both a lot of good to get out of the compound for a few hours. How long’s it been since we were here anyway?” He looked out towards the rides in thought, as he reached down and intertwined he and Bucky’s fingers together.
“Jesus, I don’t know. That was a lifetime ago.” Bucky smiled a bitter sweet smile as he searched Steve’s eyes.

“Yeah, well I say its way past time we come back to these old stompin’ grounds a relive some memories huh? Maybe make a few new ones?” Steve arched a brow as he smiled warmly back at him. It never ceased to amaze Bucky how Steve could keep this warmth and happiness in his soul despite everything he’s seen and been through.

“Only if you’re buying this time.” Bucky said with a playful smile. “I’m pretty sure that I could buy this whole park with the money I spent on buying you food, and tickets to try to win prizes at those rigged booths.”

“ME? Oh I don’t think so pal! It was you always blowin’ our money trying to impress your latest girl with your baseball throwing skills to win her a stuffed animal.” Steve Laughed incredulously as he recalled the memory.

“You really haven’t figured out that that was all to show off for you, have you?” Bucky said with a smile and a shake of his head.
Steve couldn’t help the blush that crept into his cheeks and he looked down as he swung their hands together between them.
“Come on, Romeo. Let’s get a hot dog.” Steve smiled and said as he pulled Bucky’s hand and they began walking down the side walk to the entrance to Coney Island.


Over the next two hours, as the sun sank lower in the sky, Steve and Bucky rode every ride they had. Steve doubled over laughing when Bucky went to The High Striker to, as the carnie said, ‘test his strength’. The base where Bucky hit the mallet, cracked and sent the metal ball inside skyrocketing toward the bell so hard that it dented the bell. The handler of the game was slack jawed with awe as Bucky placed the hammer down and pulled a still laughing Steve away before anyone started asking questions.
As the sun began to set, and they’d had just about as much fair food as they could possibly stuff into their stomachs, Steve lightly elbowed Bucky and nodded his head towards the ferris wheel.

“Wanna keep up our tradition of always riding the ferris wheel last?” Steve asked with a soft smile as he gazed at the brunet. God Bucky looked so happy. Especially in the warm light of the carnival lights and games flashing around them. Steve would give anything to keep this light hearted, happy go lucky Bucky around but he knew that with their profession, it couldn’t always be this way.
“What kind of boyfriend would I be if I didn’t take my date on the ferris wheel?” Bucky said with a sly grin. Steve smiled fondly as his heart leapt. Of course they were boyfriends. But they were much more than that too. Always had been. The actual word wasn’t said very much. So the few times it was, always made his heart warm and his soul sing.

Bucky put his arm around Steve and lightly guided him forward toward the ride. They didn’t speak much as the waited in the short line for their turn to board the wheel. Each of them just quietly taking in the sights, sounds and nostalgia. Bucky glanced at Steve and Steve looked at him as well. They both just gazed at each other for a moment. Memorizing this instant. Solidifying it as permanent in their minds. Bucky never wanted to forget this moment or this feeling. Ever.

Steve was a bit startled when a couple small kids giggled loudly as they ran passed them to board the Ferris wheel. Steve wondered for a moment how long it had been their turn to get on. Bucky nodded and Steve went first and hopped in the next cart that rotated down to the platform. Bucky slid in beside him and shut the small door and then the wheel began rotating to fill more seats behind them. As it rotated up one by one by one, they got further from all the carnival noise and the oldies music playing. They looked out at the setting sun over the water and could see flocks of seagulls being fed on the beach far down below.

“City looks a lot different up here than it used to.” Bucky said as he slid his arm to rest behind Steve’s shoulders.

“Yeah the city does. But this looks exactly the same.” Steve said with a soft reverence as he still gazed over the water. Bucky watched Steve as he looked out over the water. He smiled at the wonder still apparent on Steve’s face.

“Yeah I guess some things just don’t ever change.” Bucky slid his hand up to gently rub at Steve’s neck as they both looked out. Steve reached down and rested his hand against Bucky’s leg.

“Oh, I almost forgot!” Steve said suddenly as he reached a hand to the inside pocket of his jacket. Bucky watched, puzzled as to what Steve had almost literally up his sleeve. Bucky beamed when Steve pulled a 12oz glass bottled Coca-Cola out of his jacket.

“Did you think I wouldn’t remember?” Steve said with a smile as he easily popped the cap off in his hand.

“You always had to have one last soda on the ferris wheel before we went home.” Bucky shook his head fondly. “When did you even pick that up?” He laughed.

“I bought it while you went to the restroom about 30 minutes ago.” Steve beamed. 70 years later, and Steve still loved whenever he could actually surprise Bucky Barnes. Steve took a drink from it and then handed it to Bucky to hold.

“And I also know,” Steve said as he rummaged in the opposite inside jacket pocket. “That YOU always preferred to have one last hot dog.” He said as he pulled out the foil wrapped food.

“You’re just full of surprises today, aren’t you Stevie?” Bucky beamed again as Steve handed him the hot dog. “I’m assuming you bought this at the same time too?” Steve nodded with a victorious smile.

Bucky unwrapped it and saw that he even remembered to put his favorite condiments on it. He looked up at him with almost a comical amount of adoration because of this hot dog.

“I could kiss you so hard right now.” Bucky said as he searched Steve’s eyes

“Well then what are you waiting for? It’s not the 30s anymore Buck. We don’t have to hide, remember?” Steve said with a warm sideways smile.

Bucky took a moment to balance the drink and the hotdog in his left hand and hooked his right one behind Steve’s neck and pulled him in for a kiss. God it felt so good. They’ve kissed quickly in public before a few times, yeah whatever. But never here. It was like they were practically kids again.
As their lips slid together, Bucky’s mind was flying through old memories of them. He remembers being in this same ferris wheel a lifetime ago, daring to curl his fingers around Stevie’s long spindly ones when they got to the top and nobody could see. He remembers how his heart raced so fast, he thought it’d break through his chest. He remembers the first time he leaned in for a kiss at the top too. Remembers how red Steve’s cheeks, neck and ears got. As the memories flooded back, the kiss deepened and it was like they were finally releasing all this tension that had built up.

Over the last few weeks finally back home with Steve after Wakanda, they had worked through metric tons of issues and adjustments. But this felt like the last chain being broken free. Actually, really, honestly and completely free.

Bucky pulled back as he gasped for air. There was such a giant weight off his chest that he hadn’t even really known was there. He’d gotten so used to having things weigh him down emotionally and mentally, he’d just accepted it and forgotten what it was like without them. He smiled as he noticed Steve’s blushed red cheeks and rouged lips.

Steve panted with him as they smiled together and the wheel started its final descent. Steve cleared his throat and ran a hand through his hair trying to smooth it anywhere it might have gotten mussed. Bucky took a big gulp of the coke. He’d always relished the burn of a big sip of it as it went down.

“Hey, leave me some.” Steve joked and grabbed the bottle. He leaned in for one more quick kiss before they got too low. He still wasn’t one for much public display of affection.

“I love you.” Steve whispered before he pulled away and took a sip of the coke.

“I love you too Stevie.” Bucky said fondly as he took a big bite of his hot dog and the wheel finally came to a stop at the platform.
Bucky held Steve’s hand when they got off and intertwined their fingers as they walked away. Steve gave him an inquisitive glance knowing that Bucky was even more of a stickler about no PDA nowadays than he was.

“I don’t give a fuck.” Bucky said triumphantly with his head held high and his chin tilted up a bit. If not for Bucky’s long hair, Steve would have been convinced he’d been sent back in time right that instant. This was more of the swagger that Bucky had when Steve had first seen him in his uniform. God it was good to see him like this again.
They walked back to the car in mostly silence. Still hand in hand as they finished off the hot dog and coke together before chucking it in a trash bin near the curb.

It was a quiet companionable silence in the car also, as Steve drove down the streets, headed back towards the bridge that takes them away from their childhood in Brooklyn back to their lives in Manhattan.

Bucky’s thumb idly traced back and forth over Steve’s hand as the streetlights pulsed through the car in the night. Honestly, Bucky couldn’t remember a recent time he’d ever felt like this. Yeah back in the day he did. But not since.. well not even since he was captured with the rest of his unit at the beginning. That’s when it all began to change then. He’d always felt like he had acid in his veins after that. He’d felt better after cryo the last time obviously. But it wasn’t until this moment. This very instant. That he finally felt like himself. He didn’t think he’d ever feel this way again. He tilted his head lazily to the side to look at Steve. His rock solid anchor throughout his entire life.

Steve must have felt his gaze after a moment because he looked over with a tired but happy smile for a moment before looking back to the street ahead.
“Thank you.” Bucky said softly. His voice barely above a whisper but Steve heard him. He always did.

“No need to thank me Buck.” He said as he raised their hands together to kiss the back of Bucky’s. “But you’re welcome.”

That night was the first night in weeks that Bucky would sleep soundly and not wake from a nightmare in a cold sweat.