Apparently, searching for the Winter Soldier means moving to New York and hell no is Sam Wilson moving to Brooklyn.
"Nah, man," he explained. "I love you like whoa, but hell no. Harlem or bust."
Steve didn’t get it, but whatever. He offered to let Sam have his floor in Stark’s godawful tower, but again: hell to the no.
"I know people in Harlem," he explained further.
He should have known that sentence would put a cloud over Steve, but at least the argument held water for him. That was what Brooklyn was about, anyway. He was going to where he used to have people.
So Sam moved back to Harlem.
At three AM on a Thursday night, the buzzer for the front door of his apartment went off.
"If you’re here to kill me, come back in at least five hours," he told whoever it was through the intercom.
"Sorry, Sam," came Natasha’s voice. "We need a place to lie low."
Fucking whatever. He buzzed her up.
She had a different buff, blonde superhero with her this time. He introduced himself as Clint and shook Sam’s hand. Then he winced and shook out his hand which Sam could now see was turning no-good-very-bad colors.
Natasha shrugged. “You should see the other guy,” she said.
"Other guys,” Clint corrected. “So many other guys. At least twenty.”
Sam raised an eyebrow.
"Fifty," Clint continued. "Probably fifty."
Sam repeated internally: fucking whatever.
"I left my straightener in DC," he told Natasha. "Bad for your hair anyway."
"Please," she scoffed. "Straight hair is so last year."
Two months later, Clint showed up with Bruce Banner. A lot of people in Harlem knew about Bruce Banner.
Sam put on the Enya CD he always told people he only had because an ex left it in his apartment. (This was a lie.)
Clint gave him a look.
"Look, Harlem thanks the dude for stopping the other dinosaur dude and everything," Sam explained. "But he is not allowed to break my apartment. I don’t have the funds to build a new one from scratch."
Bruce looked…not green, not in the bad way, but green like sea-sick sort of green. Like a hangover or something. His head was lolling and Clint was basically holding him upright.
Bruce Banner showed up in the daylight hours two days later with Tony Stark. Tony made fun of Sam’s CD collection. Bruce Banner fixed his leaky shower.
Sam thought to himself, OK, this is my life now.
Tony had to help with the shower. It went off and soaked them both and they left wearing all of Sam’s clean jogging clothes.
Steve came by with the Winter Soldier—“he’s Bucky"—in the middle of the night a couple weeks later.
Sam kept the place stocked with first aid kits and poptarts these days.
About an hour after they arrived, Natasha and Thor arrived. Then ten minutes later, Clint and Tony. Then Bruce.
"Everybody gets poptarts and beer," Sam announced as he ushered Bruce in. "It’s all I have on hand."
The Winter Soldier—Bucky—looked so fucking stunned at the suggestion that Sam made a bag of microwave popcorn just to fill the sudden depth of “feed this boy” feelings that had swelled up. It was something he inherited from his mom, no doubt. She was always feeding people who looked like that.
Yeah. This was his life now.
There were superheroes having a slumber party in his living room.