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how bucky barnes won his second pulitzer

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“I swear to God Wade, I’ll fire you.” Bucky shouts into his phone while simultaneously trying to walk to work from the Port Authority train station. On the other end of the line, the World’s Worst Personal Assistant makes some half-assed attempt at an excuse that includes a lot of: “I didn’t know!” “How can you expect me to do so much, asshole?” “You love me and you know it.”

 

Bucky woke up that morning with the hope of a slow day to work on his latest editorial. Less than 20 minutes after brushing his teeth he realized Wade Wilson struck again and booked him for three interviews in the span of an hour. Which, as any journalist will attest, is physically impossible. Now his editor is expecting three new articles by Wednesday, and he has to be Uptown by noon before being in Williamsburg by 12:45. Sometimes Bucky wonders if Wade even pays attention to who he says ‘yes’ to on the phone.

 

(Actually, he knows the answer to that. Considering Wade once accidentally booked him to interview a neo-nazi straight out of American History X to discuss the ‘literary integrity of Mein Kampf ’, no, Wade Wilson does not pay attention to who he says yes to on the phone.)

 

Bucky hangs up after letting out a string of profanities vulgar enough to turn some heads around him. Maybe these horrified looking pedestrians recognize him as the James Buchanan Barnes; the one who was on 60 minutes , and won a bunch of awards for being damn good at his job. He is much too good at his job to have Wade as an assistant, actually.

 

While walking he makes a mental checklist of the things he has planned for the day, such as interviews, conferences, a call back to Russia to appease his ma who is blowing up his fucking email , and -- shit it’s Bec’s birthday next week -- fuck, he didn’t get her a gift; Wade was supposed to remind him, that bastard shit--

 

Bucky doesn’t have time to properly understand the situation around him before there’s a very massive chunk of a building five feet away from him. It takes his mind a few extra seconds to process what the fuck is going on and then the screams and cries around him start making sense.

 

He looks up just in time to see Ironman body-slamming some slimy looking flying creature into the side of the bakery across from the Bugle HQ. Goddamnit he was so close. He was so close to having a day that’s shitty enough . He didn’t need this shitty. This shitty is just unfair.

 

“Look out!” Someone beside him screams. The warning falls on deaf ears because Bucky does not look out. He stays there staring at Ironman who uses the arc reactor in his palm to blast another reptile (?). He should really try to score an interview with Tony Stark—

 

For the second time in less than five minutes the world around him moves faster than he can process. Suddenly he’s pressed against something rock hard, and there’s a loud noise beside his ear. He snaps out of the daze which befell him and struggles against the steel-tight grip around his waist.

 

“Stay still.” A commanding voice rumbles. Bucky looks up and sees the stony profile of none other than Captain fucking America. Captain America who is currently holding his waist, using his mile-wide shoulders and signature shield to block Bucky from whatever had been coming his way.

 

“The lizard things have guns?” Bucky asks, still trying to look around the good Captain’s obnoxiously wide chest to get a glimpse of the action. He silently hopes Parker had good enough sense to run out and take some photos — Bucky can only imagine the commission he'd get if he can write a piece about this, and if that piece included up-close photos of Captain America and Ironman? Bucky may just win another Pulitzer.

 

“Go take cover!” Captain America shouts, dropping his arm from Bucky’s waist. In the midst of the now battle-stricken midtown, the tall Captain takes a moment to look Bucky in the eyes. Bucky has no idea what his own facial expression must be right now, but considering Captain America’s frustrated sigh, it isn’t as concerned as it should be. “Seriously. Go get into one of the train stations, it’ll be safer underground.”

 

“Yeah… Yeah alright.” Bucky replies, “I’ll get right to that.”

 

Captain America frowns and sighs a disgruntled; “What?”

 

“Look I’m a journalist, and this is like prime material—“

 

“Sir, get underground. Now.

 

(Is it inappropriate for Bucky to think he sounds really hot when he’s being all demanding?)

 

“Alright, alright, calm down. I think I can handle some fuckin’ lizards.”

 

“They’re not—” Captain America scrubs a hand down his straining face, “Seriously. Go!”

 

Bucky takes a few steps back; making sure to roll his eyes at the melodramatic superhero. He’s about to start properly walking away when a thought strikes him and he calls back:

 

“Please tell me these bastards didn’t get to Brooklyn.”

 

Captain America had been turned around — ready to leap off and save the day — but the question makes his back stiffen, and he turns to face Bucky again. “I won’t let them get within 20 feet of Brooklyn… You from, too?”

 

“Born and raised.”

 

“No wonder you think you can handle some ‘lizards’.”

 

“No wonder you think you can, too.”

 

With that Bucky gives him a grin that is far too casual for their present situation. Bucky can feel Captain America’s eyes on him while he jogs off to find cover. If he stops a handful of times to take shaky videos on his phone, and recordings of his voice to transcribe into an article later, well. He really wants that second Pulitzer.

 

 

The ‘Alien Invasion of NYC’ was in no way as drastic and time-consuming as the Battle of New York which was about a year prior. This time around there were no civilian casualties, and only a few thousand dollars worth of city-damages. Bucky had to get some stitches on his temple, and he dislocated his shoulder which sucked, but other than that he walked away with little more than an amazing party story.

 

On the bright side, he was out of work for a few days, and the three interviews Wade so inconsiderately booked for him were understandably cancelled.

 

He came in Monday morning with a rare morning-smile because he didn’t forget the recordings on his phone. He was about to write one of his best articles to date and nothing could dampen his spirits.

 

Except maybe Peter Parker.

 

“You didn’t get anything?” Bucky asks incredulously. Peter shrugs, rubbing his wrists in that nervous way he does.

 

“I… I didn’t.”

 

“Are you fucking kidding me, Peter?”

 

“Hey!” Wade shouts from somewhere behind him, “Don’t curse at Peter. Only I’m allowed to curse at Peter.”

 

Ignoring Wade, Bucky runs a hand through his hair and walks back to his desk to start writing his article — minus the cool up-close photos he was banking on Peter taking. Bucky wonders if Peter understands being a photographer for a newspaper means taking photos of the news, not just that one freaky red human-spider from Queens.

 

He opens his email to make sure he’s clear for the day. Usual spam messages greet him alongside a handful of poorly typed Russian emails from his step-sister and foster mother, and a few more from old friends wondering about the safety of New York (as opposed to the safety of Bucky Barnes) in light of the giant lizard (??) attack.

 

There are over 5 emails from one address:

From: Steven.Rogers@SHIELD.com

Subject: Hello James Barnes Is this working

 

From: Steven.Rogers@SHIELD.com

Subject: Did you get my last message I don’t know how to do this.

 

From: Steven.Rogers@SHIELD.com

Subject: Hello James Its Steve Rogers.

 

From: Steven.Rogers@SHIELD.com

Subject: Is this JAMES BARNES WRITER FOR THE DAILY BUGLE THIS IS STEVE ROGERS.

 

From: Steve.Rogers@SHIELD.com

Subject: I DONT KNOW HOW TO STOP WRITING IN ALL CAPITALS IM SORRY IF IT SEEMS LIKE IM YELLING IM NOT

 

Bucky skims through the emails and finds only one to be even remotely useful.

 

James Barnes,

Hi it’s Steve Rogers. I’m not very good at sending emails so I apologize for my grammatical errors. I don’t know where the question mark or exclamation point keys are. I don’t know where the apostrophe key is either but the computer keeps automatically putting it there thankfully.

Anyways I was reaching out to see if you were okay after the invasion last week. I remember you said you were a journalist and since we were by the Daily Bugle building I assumed you were working for them. Then I did some research on the internet and I found you. Congratulations on the Pulitzer prize. If I could put an exclamation point there I would put several.

I hope you’re doing okay. And I’m happy to report the lizards did not reach Brooklyn.

Sincerely,

Steve Rogers

 

Bucky squints at the email as if it’s written in a different language. Actually, he’d probably be able to understand it better if it was in a different language.

 

To: Steven.Rogers@SHILED.com

Subject: You accidentally clicked the caps locks key, grandpa.

 

Steve, 

I’m all good over here. No outstanding medical bills to worry about or anything. Thanks for pretty much saving my life, by the way.

I was actually just writing up an article about the whole thing — I think the headline will be something like ‘Captain America: Wins Battles Against Aliens, Loses Battles Against Keyboards’

Also considering you saved my life I think we’re on a nickname-basis so call me Bucky. Only my ma calls me James

-Bucky

 

 

“We’ve gotta stop meeting like this.” Steve says. Bucky nods from his spot on the pavement. He would reply, but the breath was knocked clean out of him.

 

It was just a few minutes ago that Bucky was so innocently walking to get coffee. Then something green and fast hit him so hard in the chest, he was convinced it broke every single one of his ribs. He went falling backwards, but before his head could go slamming into the nearest fire-hydrant, someone caught him by the shoulders and laid him down gently.

 

Of course if was Captain America.

 

“Are you okay, Bucky?”

 

Bucky leans up on his elbows and nods, “Yeah. What the fuck is that?”

 

“You don’t even want to know.” Steve is looking around while he speaks, seemingly (and understandably) distracted.

 

Rubbing his now pounding head, Bucky groans, “I don’t know if you remember, but I’m a journalist. So yes I do want to know—“

 

“Do me a favor and get inside before you can nearly get killed again?” Steve interrupts with a stern, blue-eyed glare.

 

Bucky rolls his eyes and pulls himself up to his feet with some difficulty. Ribs aren’t broken, but definitely bruised. He’d like to have a few words with the green flying thing.

 

Bucky limps his way into the Starbucks he was originally trying to get to. Everyone is too busy ogling outside to make him a latte, so he counts this as one of his worse days on the job.

 

(And considering Bucky won his first Pulitzer after writing an investigative piece while in Afghanistan during the Iraq war - shadowing a unit that was taken captive with Bucky included - that sentiment certainly means a lot.)  

 

“Oh you’re going to love me.” Wade is singing through the labyrinth of cubicles on the 23rd floor.

 

Bucky squints at his desktop in thought before replying, “That would certainly be a feat. Maybe if I had amnesia, or if you were the last person on earth—“

 

“Guess who I just got you an interview with,” Wade interrupts as he leans against Bucky’s desk and screws his handsome face up in a cocky smirk.

 

“You just accept the calls, Wade. You don’t actually prompt the appointments-“

 

“Captain fuckin’ America.”

 

Bucky stops typing and looks up with wide, exasperated eyes. “Excuse me?”

 

Their email chain fizzled out a few days after Bucky came back to work after the Invasion — which was nearly a month ago. Bucky doesn’t have a lot of time on his hands between writing, writing, and occasional phone calls to Russia. He is the busiest loner New York has ever seen.

 

The last time he saw Captain America was three weeks ago when the green thing (later identified as the Green Goblin — the dumbest name Bucky’s ever heard besides of coarse 'The Devil of Hell's Kitchen') nearly killed Bucky for being in his angry-green-flying way.

 

He wouldn’t consider him and the Captain ‘friends’ per-say. They’re like acquaintances who only run into each other at office work parties. Except instead of office work parties, Bucky nearly dies every time him and Steve cross paths.

 

Even stranger is the fact the Avengers are on a tight leash by the S.H.I.E.L.D organization. Members haven’t done any private interviews, and it’s understood among the world of journalism that it’s not allowed. Sort of an unspoken understanding… Until now.

 

“You serious?”

 

“Yeah! He just called your line and asked if you could do an interview. The Bugle have been hounding the entirety of S.H.I.E.L.D for a proper interview with any one of the Avengers and Cap said he wants to ‘cash his check’ but only if you were the one writing it.” Wade shrugs and looks down at his nails to pick at his cuticles, “So anyways, he’s coming to your apartment tonight at eight.”

 

Bucky had been nodding along — of course he was stunned, but generally absorbing it all — until that last bit. Which Bucky should’ve been expecting considering Wade Wilson is The World’s Worst Personal Assistant.

 

What.

 

“You might want to brush your hair a little—“

 

“Wade I swear to God I’m gonna have you fired—”

 

“—and you definitely want to clean up your apartment. I think it’s unsafe to live in at this point.”

 

Wade walks away, leaving Bucky in cationic state at his desk. He leaves work early that day, because despite his general terribleness Wade is right — his apartment is absolutely beyond any sort of safety codes.

 

 

Bucky answers the door after the second knock. In the threshold of his Brooklyn walk-up is a khaki clad Steve Rogers, and Bucky instantly realizes he overestimated his ability to handle this entire situation.

 

“Hey, it’s nice to finally see you without the helmet on.” Bucky says, feigning nonchalance as he leans against his doorframe and crosses his arms.

 

Steve smiles, “And it’s nice to finally see you when I’m not in the middle of fighting aliens or goblins.”

 

“Come on in,” Bucky holds the door open wider, “just take a seat in the living room, or whatever. Don’t mind the mess — if you can believe it this is actually clean by my standards.”

 

Steve strips off his tan leather jacket and leaves it on the hanger beside the door. He continues walking in while replying, “I’m just happy to have an excuse to come into Brooklyn. Stark has us all living in his ridiculous building. It’s nice and all but…”

 

“It ain’t Brooklyn.” Bucky supplies.

 

Steve smiles nostalgically and nods. He sits down on one of Bucky’s couches and says, “I think the hardest thing about waking up after 70 years under ice was learning the Dodgers moved to California.”

 

Bucky scoffs, “Please we got the Yankees and there’s no team in the world like the Yankees.”

 

“So I’ve heard.” Steve says noncommittally.

 

“Listen, if you think you’re a New Yorker and you don’t support the Yankees I’m not sure we can do this interview.” Bucky sits down on the arm chair next to the couch where Steve sits stiff as a board.

 

Steve smiles and Bucky’s mind is reeling with ways to include in his article the fact Captain America has a dimple.


 

 

“Hold up” Bucky holds up his hand and tries — failingly — to stop laughing as he asks, “You decided to take on six guys by yourself? And you were only 95 pounds?”

 

Steve laughs with him. His feet are kicked up onto Bucky’s coffee table next to the now empty bottle of cheap wine Bucky opened hours ago. Beside that is Bucky’s discarded notebook.

 

“Oh yeah. I was a rascal, alright.” Steve says. He shrugs and he looks proud. He’s telling a story about the time he got his ass kicked in a Brooklyn alleyway and he looks smug.

 

“Jeez and I thought I was a bad kid” Bucky sets down his equally empty cup of wine (red solo cup to be exact, because he’s classy.)

 

“Yeah?” Steve pries.

 

“Oh yeah. Got kicked out of two orphanages before I was 15.”

 

Bucky Closed-Book Barnes frowns a little. Wade Wilson has been his accidental best friend for years, and not even he knows about Bucky’s childhood.

 

Steve has these empathetic blue eyes that can send anyone over the deep end, Bucky supposes.

 

“Well damn” Steve chuckles. Bucky snaps out of his own hopeless self-pity to appreciate the fact Steve doesn’t seem sorry. He isn’t sympathetic for the poor-orphaned-Bucky-Barnes and that’s more refreshing than Bucky can explain. “You were a rebel then?”

 

“Oh hell yeah!” Bucky says exaggeratedly, making Steve laugh even harder, “I smoked cigarettes, wore leather jackets — whole nine yards.”

 

“Were you in orphanages your whole life?”

 

Bucky shakes his head, “Nah. When I turned 15, a Russian woman said she would be willing to take in a foster child. I was instantly offered because of my track record and for the fact I already knew a little bit of Russian. She’s been my mom ever since.”

 

“Any siblings?”

 

Bucky can feel the warmth in his smile. “Little sister. She just turned 16, actually. My mom took in a bunch of kids before me, but they live all over Russia. We didn’t see them often.”

 

Steve’s smile is downright blinding, “Well now she’s got a Pulitzer Prize winning son in the United States, too.” (And Bucky is swooning.)

 

He blames his libido for his juvenile crush on Steve Rogers, but in reality he thinks it could be because of the fact they’ve spent over two hours talking about their favorite movies (“Tony Stark finally convinced me to watch Star Wars and I must say it’s very addictive.”), candy (“Steve you’ve never tried a Sour Patch Kids? What the hell is wrong with you?), and of course books (“Bucky would you judge me if I said my favorite book is the Wizard of Oz?”). It’s easy to pine like a 15 year old idiot when he’s laughing with a literal Greek Adonis.

 

“Oh shit, Steve it’s nearly one in the morning.” Bucky sits up straight and scrubs a hand over his face. Steve is noticeably surprised himself, and follows Bucky to the kitchen to dispose of their cups and bottle. Bucky insists he doesn’t need to help clean up. Steve insists, too.

 

Bucky walks him out to his motorcycle parked on the corner.

 

“Bucky?”

 

They’ve stopped walking seeing as Steve’s bike is waiting beside them. Bucky turns, his arms hugging his chest against the mid-September cold.

 

“Yeah?”

 

Steve looks down at his feet while turning his keys over in his hands. His eyebrows are screwed together, and his bottom lip is caught between his teeth This ‘nervous-middle-schooler’ look suits him, which is irritating because no six-foot superhero should be allowed to look cute .

 

“I just…” Steve looks up, sighs, “Since I came back I haven’t felt like I fit in anywhere, y’know? It’s been a constant game of catch up, and it’s exhausting. I can’t even do my laundry without feeling like…” He shakes his head and looks out onto the street. “What I’m trying to say is… Thanks. It’s been over 80 years since I lost track of time just hanging out.”

 

Bucky gives Steve’s bicep a gentle punch (which hurt Bucky’s hand more than anything), “I get you, man. I don’t think I’ve ever lost track of time with someone before.”

 

They exchange tentative smiles and quiet goodbyes, and with that, Bucky turns and leaves. Steve’s bike doesn’t rumble to life till Bucky has his front door open and he’s halfway inside. He humors himself with the thought Captain America watched him walk to his door.

 

 

From Steve Rogers: I am getting better at text messaging but I still can not find the exclamation point and question mark and I don’t know how to do those faces

To Steve Rogers: you’re such a grandfather

From Steve Rogers: If I could send you a frowning face I would

To Steve Rogers: !@#$%^&*()_+”:><?”=- :) :( :D :P :/ D: jealous? ~`|][

From Steve Rogers: Stop it

 

 

It isn’t like him and Steve go out frequently. Sometimes he’ll stop by Bucky’s apartment and they’ll binge watch TV shows, or Steve will tell him stories from ‘back in the day’. They’ve only gone out in public two or three times and it was merely quick runs to get coffee, or more popcorn.

 

So Bucky really doesn’t understand where this Hydra asshole is coming from when he says: “The reason we took you is because we know the Captain will come running right into our trap.”

 

Bucky frowns. “What?”

 

He’s been in this cold, musty jail cell for the good part of an hour. He had been walking down his street to get to his apartment when something cold and wet was held over his mouth and a bag was thrown over his head. This wouldn’t be his first run in with kidnappers but that, of course, doesn’t make this any more pleasant. Also doesn’t help he has his hands tied behind his back and he has an itch on his chin.

 

“Shut up.” the Hydra replies.

 

“Someone’s in a bad mood.” Bucky tsks.

 

The man seethes, “I said shut up.”

 

“You could at least show a guy some courtesy.”

 

“I don’t owe you anything.”

 

Bucky nods his head towards the metal bars he’s been sitting behind, “Oh yeah not at all. You don’t owe me anything.

 

The thug gives him one last frustrated glare before storming off down the long corridor he came from. Bucky groans and scoots himself to the back wall of the small cell. He’s been trying to keep track of time but that’s proven difficult. From what he can gather it’s midday. When he was first thrown into his cell he caught a quick glimpse at the digital watch on his captors wrist which read 13:02.

 

So if it’s nearly midday on a Saturday, that means people will only start to realize he’s gone in a day and a half. He can make it a day and a half. That’s if, of course, the cops just so happen to know exactly what Hydra base he’s located in. And considering it probably took all night and the majority of today to drive here… Yeah Bucky’s screwed.

 

He doesn’t think they’ll starve him, but then again he has no idea how super-villain-Nazi’s like to do things. He just hopes they won’t start torturing him, because that’s when things start to really suck. He has scars to attest.

 

“Can I get a water or something?” Bucky shouts, “Maybe a cigarette? Not a menthol though, those are fucking nasty—“

 

Distantly Bucky hears gunshots, and general chaos follows. He sits up a little straighter, trying to narrow in on the voices shouting far off.

 

Somewhere further down the corridor, a door comes bursting off its hinges. Bucky only knows this because the door goes flying directly passed his cell as if a battering ram strapped to a nuke slammed into it or something. Bucky silently commends whoever accomplished that feat.

 

“Bucky?” Someone shouts. The voice reverberates off the brick walls.

 

“Over here.” He replies. “Did you bring my cigarettes?”

 

Pounding footsteps reply until there’s over 6 feet of star-spangled-superhero standing in front of him with panic in his blue eyes. “I told you those aren’t good for you.” He says breathlessly.

 

“Yeah well, getting kidnapped by Hydra probably isn’t either but look where we are.” He shrugs. Steve’s face is still screwed up in an obscene amount of concern.

 

“Calm down Steve I still got all my limbs, and most importantly my witty personality.” Steve takes the metal lock beside the rusty gates and bashes it twice with his shield. The lock gives way like it’s made of glass, and with one solid tug Bucky is a free man.

 

Steve rushes in and unties his wrists as if Bucky himself is also made of glass.

 

Andy Dufrane who crawled through a river of shit came out clean the other side, ” Bucky recites as he stands and brushes of his knees. When he looks up Steve has his head cocked,

 

“Huh?”

 

“Our next movie… Shawshank Redemption. The guy escapes from jail — actually never mind, I don’t want to spoil it.”

 

Steve looks at him contemplatively before seemingly accepting the answer and nodding.

 

 

“What the fuck. “ Bucky groans, but with the rag strapped around his mouth it sounds more like incoherent growling.

 

He left the office at 8pm, and was waiting on the platform at 42nd street. That’s when something wet and cold was pressed to his mouth, and surprise-surprise, he’s a fucking hostage again. This time they tied his mouth shut along with his hands and ankles. He thinks maybe Hydra told these guys about Bucky’s tendency to give lip. That’s a thought — do super-villains keep in touch? That would make sense but then again, Bucky doesn’t really consider these people to be the pinnacle of villainous insight.

 

They’re wearing costumes for crying out loud. (Also, he's pretty sure he overheard them say their name was the arm? Or was it the wrist? The hand, maybe?)

 

It’s been about a month since his last kidnapping, and this time around he thinks he probably has a better chance of making a break for it. His ankles aren’t strapped too tight, so if he wiggles around a little more he’ll have a shot at slipping the rope off and exploring his hostage-suite.

 

He assumes he's underground considering it looks like he’s in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ hideout — complete with rancid sewer water dripping in the distance, and all. He doesn’t know what these people want from him, but he overheard some mumbled plans of ‘luring Captain America right into their hands’. When are people going to realize luring 250 pounds of jacked up superhero to your secret lair isn’t the best fucking idea.

 

Bucky still doesn’t understand why he is the chosen one. Sure, him and Steve have been hanging out more. They jog in the mornings together (correction: Steve runs while Bucky jogs 15 feet behind him and complains), Steve will meet up with Bucky after work with Starbucks and they’ll take the train back to Brooklyn together, and just last week they took a day trip to Coney Island to look at fish in a shitty aquarium like 5 year olds. Apparently in the world of 'bad guys' this constitutes Bucky as prime ‘bait’ material.

 

They’re friends for crying out loud. If kidnappers really want someone that Steve cares too much about, they should be taking that stupid fish Steve never shuts up about.

 

(“Bucky I have to get home, Charlie eats on a schedule.” “It’s a fucking goldfish, Steve.”)

 

Bucky is sitting there for what feels like an eternity. It’s been a few hours and he’s hungry, uncomfortable, and exhausted from his frequent attempts to wiggle out of his constraints.

 

He’s considering taking a nap when the echoing sound of fighting snaps him back into the present. There’s gunshots, shouts, and footsteps. Bucky is too annoyed to really be concerned at this point.

 

From outside the wide metal doors across from him, Bucky hears the distinct sounds of America’s favorite super soldier.

 

“Where is he.” Steve’s muffled voice demands.

 

“It’s going to take a little bit more than that for me to give him up to you.” Bucky’s guard chuckles. There’s more fighting. Steve asks again, angrier, “Tell me where he is, now.

 

Bucky goes into overdrive. He sits up straighter and kicks his legs as hard as he can. The ropes budge just slightly. There’s more fighting from outside, and Bucky hears the gut-wrenching sound of Steve’s pain-filled groans. Did these assholes really get the upper hand on Captain America?

 

Now Bucky is really starting to grow concerned. He kicks harder. He remembers one of the soldiers he bunked with in Afghanistan, Frank. His voice rings in his head “You ever get your legs tied up, force isn’t the key - maneuvering your legs is. Be strategic, not just angry, otherwise you’ll tire yourself out.”

 

Bucky takes a deep breathe and does just that. From the other side of the door Steve thankfully gets the upper-hand, and now he’s interrogating the guard again. To Bucky’s horror his captor replies:

 

“Give us the access codes or we’ll kill him before you can even find him.”

 

Steve goes silent. Bucky curses. He shuts his eyes and focuses; rolling his ankles and using the toe of his sneakers to try to push off the ropes.

 

“We’ll kill him, Cap.” the guard says with a maniacal chuckle, “I can have him dead in two seconds. Tell me those codes, or you’ll have to carry him out in a body bag—“

 

Bucky kicks the ropes off his ankles. He stumbles to his feet and runs to shoulder checks the metal door opposite him. With the rag still in his mouth he shouts, trying to get any sort of attention from his friend. He kicks the door as hard as he can, then continues ramming his side into the hard metal.

 

The fighting on the other side stops. Bucky knows he’s done good when he hears the guard give a quiet, defeated: “Shit.”

 

In the next few seconds the metal doors come flying open, and Steve is standing before him with wide panic-filled eyes. “Bucky!” He gasps, rushing forward and untying the rag around his mouth. Bucky coughs dramatically and whines, “Jesus, I think that’s the worst form of torture — not being able to throw in my snarky one-liners. I almost died there, Steve.”

 

Steve has a worried crease between his eyebrows as he walks around Bucky to untie his hands. He niether laughs at Bucky’s joke, nor says a word. Just continues untying.

 

“Follow me.” He says quietly. Bucky doesn’t have to be told twice.

 

They step over the unconscious guard and double time it through the maze of tunnels. Bucky gets to show off his fighting skills when two guards come out of fucking nowhere. Bucky throws a mean left-hook (he was the city boxing champ when he was 15, thank you very much) and tries to smile accomplished at Steve but the Captain’s face is still screwed up in some emotion Bucky can't pinpoint.

 

They make it outside and Steve ushers Bucky into one of the Stark issued fighter jets. In the pilot's seat there’s a smirking Black Widow, and riding shotgun a tired-looking Hawkeye.

 

“So you must be James.” Black Widow purrs. She shoots a look to Hawkeye who promptly ignores her.

 

“Is the base cleared?” Steve asks, all business. Black Widow nods and replies, “Danny is doing a final sweep with Colleen but yeah, it’s cleared.”

 

The jet takes off. Bucky leans against Hawkeye’s chair.

 

“Either of you guys got a cigarette I can bum?”

 

 

“Steve, c’mon” Bucky complains. It’s been three days since the kidnapping and Steve has insisted on picking Bucky up from work every day and walking him to his apartment every night. It’s cute, having a giant guard-puppy and all, but Bucky isn’t 10. He can handle himself.

 

But that’s not what’s been bothering him — what’s been bothering him is the tense silence that consumes Steve the second he sees Bucky. Which is highly unusual for them considering they’ve gotten into several three-hour long conversations about acorns and cat-leashes.

 

“What?” He asks quickly. Too quick — as if he’s been waiting for Bucky to say something.

 

“Why the silent treatment? Every since I got kidnapped by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—“

 

“—You keep saying that and I don’t understand what that means.—”

 

“—you’ve been acting weird. What’s up?”

 

Steve looks down at his Keds, and hitches his shoulders up in a drawn-out shrug. “I dunno.”

 

“Don’t pull that. C’mon, man.”

 

They reach Bucky’s apartment. Bucky rounds on Steve — stepping in front of him and bowing his head to catch Steve’s eyes. When he succeeds, Steve sighs and scrubs a hand down his face.

 

“I just… I’ve been thinking a lot.”

 

“Well that’s never a good thing.”

 

Steve shoots him an unamused grimace. “Shut up.”

 

Bucky crosses his arms and squares his shoulders. Steve continues staring at him but he looks far off, like he’s not seeing Bucky but something far away in Bucky’s eyes.

 

Finally he takes a deep breathe and says in almost a whisper, “I was two seconds from giving those guys classified S.H.I.E.L.D access codes... I was two seconds from causing the organization I work for a world of hurt — from potentially hurting a lot of people. The only reason I was taking so long was because I was trying to remember if I had the numbers right…”

 

Bucky frowns and asks before thinking, “Why?”

 

Steve blinks and he’s looking at Bucky again — really looking at him with oceans of something in his blue eyes. “Because I really thought they were going to kill you.”

 

Bucky blinks a few times. At a loss for words, he comes up with a weak: “Well that’s not good, Steve.”

 

“I know… I know and I just…” Steve runs a hand through his neatly styled hair and sighs, “I know it’s not good.”

 

They stand there on Bucky’s stoop in strained silence. Bucky isn’t sure if either of them say goodbye, but eventually Steve leaves to catch his train.

 

Later that night, Bucky texts Steve a Game of Thrones joke he found on Twitter. Steve replies and it feels like everything is back to normal.

 

 

They’ve been sitting in this coffee shop for over an hour, and for a good part of that time Steve has had his forehead resting on the tabletop. He’s also been groaning and Bucky is really starting to get embarrassed (okay, no actually, he’s been embarrassed this entire time because there have been a handful of people giving them looks — silently asking Bucky “what the fuck did you do that has the big guy looking like a goddamn mess?” )

 

“Steve, can you not look like you’re dying in the middle of the Bean?”

 

“Bucky, this is a big moment for me.” He grumbles in reply.

 

Bucky rolls his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose, “Couldn’t you have a gay crisis somewhere less conspicuous?”

 

Steve mumbles miserably, “It’s not a gay crisis.”

 

“You sat down, told me you think you had a crush on your neighbor back in 1937, and now you haven’t picked your head up in twenty minutes. This is a gay crisis.”

 

“Stop saying that.”

 

“Not until you admit it’s a gay crisis.”

 

Steve finally picks his head up. He’s trying to look angry, but really he just looks panicky. Bucky’s been there — he’s had his crisis too. (Of course he was 21 at the time, not nearly 100.)

 

“No one was okay with it back in the day.” Steve says. He wraps his hands around his coffee cup and stares daggers at the lid, “People knew there were queer people out there, but it seemed so rare and completely out of the picture. I only realized now that maybe I looked at my neighbor differently y’know? I thought it was just normal back then, but now I don’t think so.”

 

Bucky takes a sip of his coffee before replying, “You said you had a girl, right? Peggy?”

 

Steve’s face goes soft — as it does when he talks about his former mentor — he smiles sadly, “Yeah.”

 

“Well, how’d you feel about her?” Bucky presses.

 

Steve looks contemplative, but when he answers the assurance in his voice is unwavering, “I loved her.”

 

“And were you attracted to her?”

 

Bucky has seen the old black-and-white photos of Peggy Carter. He completely understands Steve’s wide (amused) eyes when he says, “Most definitely.”

 

“Okay now take that feeling, and apply it to your neighbor. Is that sort of how you felt? Keep in mind I’m no therapist, Steve.”

 

Steve shrugs, still looking nervous and insecure. Bucky sighs and straightens his back, realizing he's going to have to be a Good Friend and give Life Advice .

 

“Alright well when I was in college I realized real simple. I got really drunk, sucked a guys dick, and seriously enjoyed it. Like enjoyed it a lot . Then him and I started doing stuff like that every weekend. Soon enough I realized I never really… Liked girls sexually. I didn’t like girls the way I liked guys. Girls are beautiful — that’s just a fact of life — and I’ve had my share of girlfriends who were absolutely incredible. But in strictly sexual settings… I guess I always felt like I was faking it when I slept with girls. I felt like I was trying too hard to enjoy it.” Steve is staring at Bucky like he’s Albert Einstein giving a lecture. He nods along and chews his bottom lip. Bucky wouldn’t be surprised if he whips out a notebook and starts taking notes.  

 

“With guys, it just felt natural. Same thing with starting to like someone. I always felt like I had to try to have romantic feelings for women. But with men, I could just sort of meet a guy and instantly feel a spark. Like a, ‘hey maybe you and I could be more than just friends’ rather than just platonic feelings, y’know?”

 

Steve nods very slowly and looks down at his coffee again, “Okay. I have a lot to think about but… Thanks, that helped.” He says.

 

“No problem. And remember, it's alright to like both as well. I'll find you some articles to read - my assistant is pansexual, which is something else you should read up about." Bucky smiles and lets himself chuckle with a mood-lightening, "It’s not everyday you get to help your 100 year old friend realize he’s got an itch for guys too.”

 

Steve looks up and is serious when he says, “You never told me you were gay.”

 

“Oh shit,” Bucky pats his shirt as if looking for something, “I didn’t wear my ‘Hi I’m Gay’ pin? Damnit.”

 

Steve rolls his eyes, but it's admittedly fond. “We’ve been friends for nearly four months. I feel like that’s something that would come up in conversation.”

 

“Honestly with the amount I talk about Han Solo's immaculate physique, I thought you would’ve pick up the hints.”

 

 

Bucky gets kidnapped again. This time by mutants, or something. Not the good kind obviously - these seem to be the type that got rejected from that professor's school in upstate New York. Maybe these Mutants are just pissed the Wolverine gave them a C, or something. That would piss Bucky off too, honestly. 

Steve rescues him like the good friend he is, and Bucky meets Tony Stark. As expected, he’s an asshole. Bucky loves him.

 

 

On Tuesday, “So why has it taken you so long to tell me about Captain America’s red white and blue cock?” Is Wade’s version of ‘good morning’. Bucky chokes on his coffee.

 

“What?”

 

Wade rolls his eyes, as if Bucky is the one being difficult. “Why haven’t you told me about-“

 

“No, no I got that part. I’m just asking a more general ‘what the fuck are you talking about’.”

 

They step off the elevator and onto their floor and Wade starts handing him spreadsheets for god-knows-what because he is the World’s Worst Personal Assistant.  

 

“Do you not read gossip magazines?”

 

“I do not — Wade what the hell is this page for?” Bucky frowns at the stapled pages of numbers now in his hand, “Is this a budget sheet—“

 

“Well everyone knows you two are fucking. Why didn’t you tell me, I thought I was your best friend?”

 

Bucky glares at his unmoving profile incredulously and tries again, “Wade, seriously, what are these spread sheets?”

 

“Bucky,” Wade replies sternly, “answer my question.”

 

Defeated, Bucky plops the pile of papers onto his desk and turns to Wade’s expectant face. “We’re not fucking. We’re just friends.”

 

“You’re telling me you’re just ‘friends’ with the all American beef-cake superhero? Is that why you’ve actually been doing your hair lately? For your friend ?”

 

Bucky frowns and tucks a strand of dark hair behind his ear. He recently got a haircut just to clean it up a bit. It’s still long enough for him to push behind his ears (a force of habit at this point) but short enough so that he doesn’t look like Kurt Cobain anymore. That doesn’t mean he’s trying . If he looks good with sort-of long hair than that’s no one’s business — “I can’t believe I’m even listening to you” Bucky says aloud.

 

“Just admit you two are fucking.”

 

“We’re not,” Bucky groans. His phone buzzes in his back pocket. He slides open the most recent text and instantly regrets not waiting for Wade to walk away before checking.

 

From Steve Rogers: How about Chinese take-out for dinner? Starbucks has a new drink and I’m so excited to make you try it tonight when I come pick you up. Do you like cinnamon? Have a good day at work <3

 

Bucky looks up at Wade, “He just learned about emojis so he likes to use them a lot. He doesn’t know what they mean...”

 

“Oh!” Wade chuckles, “I didn’t realize hearts had a different meaning back in the 40’s!”  

 

Bucky glares at Wade while he walks away.

 

 

"So why did you ask to do an article with me?" Bucky asks. The question has been nagging at him ever since Wade accused him and Steve of sleeping together. Usually Bucky never lets anything Wade says get to him — by virtue of the fact it's Wade — but now sitting here on his couch with his feet resting on Steve's lap he can't help but wonder.

 

Steve shifts around in his seat, looking nervous. Bucky is suddenly a lot more invested in the question than he was two minutes ago. "Honest answer?"

 

"No I want you to lie to me."

 

Steve has his own feet kicked up on Bucky's coffee table, and he looks like the epitome of domestic comfort in the middle of Bucky's messy apartment.

 

"I uh... I actually didn't."

 

Bucky startles at the revelation and sounds far too accusing when he asks, "What?"

 

"I didn't offer to do the interview. Tony Stark had one of his assistants call on my behalf and without my knowledge."

 

Bucky sits up straighter. He shouldn't be offended, but he's sort of offended. "What?" He asks again.

 

Steve chews his bottom lip and picks lint off of Bucky's fluffy socks. "Tony wanted me to just meet you in the hopes I'd... y'know..." Steve blushes so bright Bucky thinks he's about to explode or something, "In the hopes I'd stop talking about you so much."

 

Bucky's mind short circuits. He fish-mouths for a few seconds too long before finally asking; "What?" Because he's a wonderful journalist who has such a way with words.

 

"After we met those two times I... I talked about you a lot."

 

"Why?"

 

Steve looks at Bucky with pleading eyes — silently begging Bucky to 'just get it so I don't have to say this out loud '. Bucky continues glaring at him in complete uncomprehending confusion so Steve groans and continues, "Because I... I thought you were — I mean I still think you are — the… best looking guy I've ever seen in my whole life. And I never saw someone react so stubbornly in the face of aliens. When I did some research on you, I found out about your stay overseas and that incredible investigative piece you wrote from Afghanistan and... I dunno you intrigued me. You're brave, and funny, and handsome so I... I talked about you a lot at meetings."

 

It's Bucky's turn to blush. Despite the offending color on his cheeks, he scoffs and gently knocks Steve's shoulder. "Thanks. I am pretty attractive, ain't I?"

 

"But then I realized you were a damn punk." Steve quickly snaps back. He’s smiling again — still blushed, and a little nervous, but grinning easily as they fall right back into their usual selves.

 

"Ah shut up Steve. You had a crush on me. Mr. I-Never-Realized-I’m-Sorta-Gay had a gay crush!"

 

Steve looks at him long and hard with so much perplexity etched into his features. He asks so quietly, Bucky nearly misses it: "Had?"

 

Steve catches himself and laughs over his accidental confession. He turns back to the TV and swallows thickly. Bucky stares down at his own feet and his stomach curls into knots.

 

So Captain America may have a crush on him.

 

 

Bucky starts noticing maybe Wade (and a plethora of gossip magazines) have a point in their suspicions. In a moment of weakness Bucky picked up a few tabloids at Gristedes and hated himself pretty much immediately afterwards.

 

But looking through the captured photos of 'Captain America, and the Captain of Journalism' (Bucky would be lying if he said he didn't like that one) he can see how maybe people aren't fishing so much for this story.

 

There's a handful of paparazzi shots from their morning jogs. Usually Bucky just looks miserable and tired, but Steve always wears a chipper smile while he looks at Bucky. When they stop to take water breaks, Steve is either laughing at something Bucky is saying, or gingerly pushing hair off his forehead. Bucky never even noticed he did that.

 

There's some shots of them at museums — shaky photos taken off a smartphone — of Bucky staring at paintings, while Steve stares at Bucky.

 

But the most damning of them all was that time they went for a walk through Central Park. Steve had stripped off his own scarf to wrap around Bucky's neck, and Bucky kept playfully knocking Steve’s shoulder to get a laugh out of him. Steve walked too close to his side, and their elbows were touching practically the entire time.

 

Long story short, it seriously looks like him and Steve Rogers are dating.

 

Bucky shuts the magazine and leaves it on the seat next to him for someone else to acknowledge. It's one of the rare days when Steve is busy, and can't ride the subway home with him. Bucky is glad — he needs the solitude as an excuse to think more.

 

The train rattles into Brooklyn, and he takes a longer walk home than strictly necessary. There’s some leftover snow piling up on the curb as a constant reminder it’s January.

 

Bucky hasn’t had a proper boyfriend since college. After that he dabbled in the art of consecutive hookups with the same person at any given time — pretending it’s maybe something for a little bit before drifting apart and forgetting it ever happened.  Bucky wouldn’t say he has commitment issues or anything, but he has gotten very used to his loneliness. And despite the general sadness that comes hand in hand with such aforementioned loneliness, Bucky is a creature of habit and his solitary routine is comforting.

 

With that being said (or at least thought, as his mind wanders with him on his walk) he can’t stop considering Steve Rogers to be an enigma in his routine-based world.

 

For Bucky to say Wade Wilson is his best friend is as sad as it is untrue. Bucky met Wade when he first started at the Bugle as a nobody-intern, and Wade was an unqualified sports writer. They hit it off instantly due to their mutual love for getting shit-faced drunk and sleeping around. So Wade has been his fair-weather best friend who doubles as a terrible assistant, and this was perfect for Bucky Barnes who never really had a ‘best friend’ before. He had people like Wade, and that’s all he ever wanted.

 

Now he goes for walks, and watches movies on his couch with Steve Rogers. They grab coffee, and greasy burgers at the local diner. They take day-trips to museums and parks, and generally enjoy each other's company. He talks to Steve, and Steve talks to him. Bucky I-Don’t-Do-Emotions Barnes gave advice to Steve about his 100 year old not-girlfriend. Steve can tell when Bucky’s in a bad mood just by the way he texts, so he’ll stop by the Bugle building with coffee and (begrudgingly) cigarettes.

 

Bucky feels his stomach turn with the realization they have a connection . They have a sort of bond that best friends do, even though Bucky has no idea what that really means.

 

(Except maybe now he does.)

 

He’s only ever had ‘crushes’ on guys he found hot. Guys he spotted from across the way and thought to himself, ‘yeah, I’d smash’. Steve exceeds all possible expectations for physical appearance, and Bucky is now in the conundrum of thinking ‘yeah, I’d smash, and then maybe afterwards we can watch a movie or just talk or something’ and that is absolutely horrifying. Maybe he’s in love.

 

His phone is ringing in his back pocket. When he picks up Steve greets him with a chipper: “Buck! I’m coming over right now because I think I found the greatest thing of all time…”

 

Bucky resents the way he smiles instantaneously, “What’s that?”

 

“Are you ready for this? It’s cookie dough — but it’s already made . All we have to do is put it in the oven . We can even just eat it right out of the packaging! No flour required or anything! I’m telling you Buck, the 21st century is incredible!”

 

Bucky laughs his entire way home.

 

 

The train is rattling back and forth through the Swiss Alps, and Bucky is running harder than he ever has in his life.

 

Just a few minutes prior, he was shackled to a sink in one of the closet-sized bathrooms in the third train cart from the engine. He heard footsteps on the roof and knew it was only a matter of time before Steve would be kicking down the door and looking at him with a much-too-worried expression.

 

Of course, that is what happened, and now the two of them are taking off through the train to reach the balcony on the caboose where someone is going to airlift them the hell out of there.

 

Bucky couldn’t even remember how he got taken this time around — he was injected with something while sitting on the subway heading to Steve’s apartment. He woke up crouched over on a cold tile floor, swaying with the train and only realizing he was on another continent when Steve hastily informed him of the situation five minutes ago.

 

“Stay close.” Steve commands while shooting Bucky a stern glare. They slow to a walk, and Steve is holding up his shield wearily. In the cart ahead they hear the uncomfortable sound of silence. Bucky has a sinking feeling in his chest this isn’t about to go well for them.

 

From behind them, two men come barreling in guns blazing. Steve spins around and tosses Bucky behind both him and his shield.

 

Steve takes both men out in seconds, and starts speaking rapidly to someone over his intercom. Totally disobeying his superhero friend’s orders, Bucky lurches forward to steal a gun out of the limp hand of one of the now incapacitated guards. He feels better with a weapon in his hand — the last time he carried a gun he was in the deserts. The soldiers in the unit he shadowed taught him a few tricks, and he was definitely a naturally gifted marksman. He only has so much time to admire his own credibility when Steve is shouting something and the whole cart erupts in gunfire.

 

Bucky dives behind a nailed down metal shelf to cover from the bullets raining down on them. Steve is on the other side of the train cart, ducking behind his shield and looking a million different degrees of concerned. Bucky would laugh if they weren’t, y’know, in the midst of heavy fucking gunfire.

 

Beside Bucky are a number of stacked metal boxes. He swiftly shoves aside one of the boxes and creates a small space for himself — a small enough window to aim his pistol while still remaining fairly unseen.

 

He breathes in slowly, and breathes out slower. He shuts one eye and pretends he’s back in the blazing heat. Bucky’s heart is pounding in his ears while his finger tickles the trigger.

 

Before he can fire, one of the agents gets the upper-hand on Steve who had stood up and tried taking on the gunmen with just his shield and willpower. His shield goes flying down the train cart, landing beside Bucky who sees it as both a warning and a green light.

 

He breathes in slowly once, twice, and then he shoots.

 

One of the agents goes down with a non-lethal hit to the bicep, and that distracts the thug fighting Steve for long enough that Steve can quickly knock him out. Bucky takes another breath and fires again. A second agent grabs his shoulder and falls to his knees.

 

The agents’ are momentarily stunned in both confusion and intrigue, which gives Bucky the chance to leap up, grab Steve’s shield, and run. The two of them are side by side again — Bucky unloading his jacket while Steve uses his shield to deflect bullets.

 

Bucky notices the heat first, and then the deafening sound of the blast.

 

The train cart is blown apart by the power of a grenade, and Bucky has just enough time to realize their side is still barreling forward before he’s getting sucked into the windy current below them.

 

He’s about to fall. He’s about to fall off a damn mountain. He always liked the snow, and now the snow would be his final resting place. It’s poetic, really. Despite the fact he’s not in Russia, he’s sure his ma will appreciate the wintery symbolism.

 

He’s holding on to the edge of the torn apart train and his fingers give way. At this final moment, when everything is going startlingly slow, Steve grabs his hand.

 

“Hold on!” He shouts desperately. Bucky holds on with all the strength in him. Steve tugs him back onto the cart, and Bucky once again is on solid — albeit rocky — ground. Him and Steve are laying on their backs, gulping mouthfuls of cold air.

 

The moment of not-so-serene serenity comes screeching to a halt when in the corner of his eye Bucky spots a figure approaching them. Bucky goes from the slow-motion of the explosion, to the sudden fast pace of a split second decision. He lurches for the gun that had slipped from his hand and twists around just in time to take the bullet aimed at Steve’s head in his own left arm. He empties his round, hoping his shaky hand manages to nail the guy at least once.

 

He does, and the lone agent crumbles to the ground. Bucky only then registers the pain shooting through his arm, and the warm blood trickling down his bicep. The train continues raging down the tracks. Steve yanks Bucky over to the side and sits him against the wall.

 

“Buck! Oh my god, oh my god, are you okay? I should’ve been paying attention — I panicked, I-I’m so sorry, we have to stop the bleeding." Steve is pressing his hands to the wound on Bucky's arm. His eyes are teary, and his voice is angry as he says, "Goddamnit Buck why did you do that—“

 

Bucky uses his right hand to latch on to the collar of Steve’s suit. He tugs him in close and plants a kiss right on his stupid lips to shut up his hopeless blabbering.

 

Bucky pulls away and drops his hand to hold onto his wound over Steve's hands, “Because I think I’m in love with you, you big stupid jerk. Also it wouldn’t look so good if Captain America fucking died on a train in the middle of nowhere—“

 

Steve leans in and kisses him. It’s ridiculous — Bucky is bleeding, Steve is covered in soot, and they’re rocking back in forth on a blown-apart Hydra train in the middle of a bunch of fucking mountains. Bucky should write a book about this, or something. (Maybe that's how he'll win his second Pulitzer.)

 

They’re interrupted by a cough and a snarky,  

 

“Really, Cap? After all the times we talked about the ‘perfect moment ’ to tell Bucky how you feel you choose… Now?” Tony asks. And even behind the mask, Bucky can tell he’s rolling his eyes.

 

“I think it’s romantic,” Clint says after coming from fuck knows where, “in a really weird not-romantic kind of way.”

 

Bucky groans and pulls himself to his feet. “Shut up both of you, I’m injured.”

 

At that moment something red comes swinging into the cart. Landing perfectly on two feet is a skinny man wearing red spandex. “Mr. Stark, is the train cleared?” Spandex asks.

 

“What the hell is that?” Bucky frowns.

 

“Oh, hey Bucky!” Red person (who looks just like that freak that swings around Queens stopping bike thefts and oh, it's SpiderGuy) chirps while offering him an eager wave. That’s when Bucky also recognizes the voice and goddamnit — “Parker ?”

 

“We have time for introductions later.” Tony interjects, “I think Cap is going to have an aneurism if you don’t get that wound checked out soon, Barnes. Or because that was his first kiss since 1940. Either way, get out of here; we’ll stop the train.”

 

 

The entire cab ride from NYU Langone to Bucky’s apartment has been filled with in-and-out radio frequency, and Steve’s not-subtle glances in his direction. Bucky keeps his eyes facing his own window.

 

He needed a few stitches, and his arm will be in a sling for a while, but nothing serious. Stark insisted on covering the entire treatment and Bucky was not about to pass up on that offer.

 

The driver leaves them at Bucky’s curb and Steve has his wallet out to pay for the cab before Bucky can even reach for his own. He starts getting out of the car but of course Steve made sure to hop out first and walk around to open Bucky’s door for him.

 

They walk inside and Bucky takes his time slipping off his coat and organizing all his medical papers into a somewhat neat pile. He makes it to the living room and sees Steve sitting on one side of the couch trying — and failing — to look nonchalant. Bucky knows why he’s nervous and honestly, the whole thing is a level of ‘cute’ that should not apply to a grown man.

 

Bucky sits on the opposite side of the couch and kicks his feet up onto the coffee table. He reaches for the remote and clicks on the TV. They don’t even make it through three minutes of Law and Order before Steve is shifting nervously and asking;

 

“Did you… Did you mean what you said on the train?”

 

Bucky looks over and notices the entire ‘casual’ facade has vanished into thin air. Steve’s wringing his hands in his lap, looking at Bucky with searching blue eyes. Bucky mutes the TV and turns to face him fully.

 

Bucky runs through a list of things he could say. He could say ‘sort of, I mean. I sort of like you’ or he could even say, ‘look Steve, I don’t wanna make things awkward. You’re my friend, y’know?'

 

But in a shocking turn of events he decides to tell the truth instead; “I… Sort of, yeah. I know love is a real strong word, and I’ve never actually been in love with someone before. I don’t really know what that feels like. What I do know is that I like you.” Bucky can't remember the last time he felt both confident and nervous at the same time, “We get on real well, and despite the fact I’ve only known you for half a year I consider you one of my closest friends. I just… Yeah. Yeah I meant what I said on the train.”

 

Steve scoots closer to him on the couch and bows his head while replying quietly, “And did you… Hear what Tony said? When he flew in—“

 

“Something about you picking the right time to tell me how you feel?” The grin on Bucky’s face is downright evil, “Please tell me you were planning on hiring a plane to write it out in the sky? Or maybe spell it out in rose petals on my bed?”

 

Steve gently punches his shoulder (the good shoulder of coarse), “Shut up, punk. It isn’t everyday you gotta build up the courage to tell your best friend you got feelings for him.”

 

Somehow, Bucky’s smile gets even wider. “How long did you hold a torch for me?”

 

Steve’s smirk is fucking proud when he replies, “The second you asked me if those ‘lizards’ were in Brooklyn.”

 

Bucky laughs. When he leans in to kiss Steve this time it’s slow and lazy. Like the first of many, rather than the first ever . They kiss and Bucky shifts around until he’s nestled against Steve’s side. Steve’s arm is around his shoulders and Bucky’s legs are draped over the couch’s armrest. Steve kisses his temple like it’s the most normal thing in the world — save for the fact the smile on his face is glowing.

(Save for the fact it took them more than 70 years to find each other... And they did.)  

 

To Steve Rogers: I didn’t forget our anniversary right?

From Steve Rogers: No. Besides it’s only been a few months, don’t anniversaries only count if it’s been a year?

To Steve Rogers: It’s not my birthday?

From Steve Rogers: Which one of us is the “senile old man” again? 

To Steve Rogers: I’m just trying to figure out why you sent me flowers at work, jerk

From: Steve Rogers: You told me you like yellow roses :)

To Steve Rogers: Yeah so you just sent me a bunch? Just for the hell of it?

From Steve Rogers: You like yellow roses, and I like you. It only seemed right.

To Steve Rogers: You’re such a nerd.

From Steve Rogers: By the way, it’s your moms birthday today! (I had a feeling Wade wouldn't remind you)

From Steve Rogers: I like to consider myself the world's best personal assistant, thank you very much. 

To Steve Rogers: What in the world am I gonna do with you, Rogers? 

From Steve Rogers: What in the world would you do without me? ;) 

 

Bucky looks down at his phone and genuinely wonders what in the world would he do without Steve Rogers.