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Mistake on the Part of Nature

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Bucky's memories may be returning, but Sam is pretty much resigned that "basic social niceties" are going to be the last thing to come back, if ever. Which is why he's not completely surprised when he walks into the kitchen and Bucky responds to his cheerful "Morning, sunshine!" with,

"What the hell is wrong with your bananas?"

To be clear, Sam is still, you know, a little surprised. But after five weeks of this kind of thing, he has the presence of mind to do a quick search of the kitchen before he answers.

"Well, for starters, looks like some maniac has taken one bite out of every single one of them and thrown them all in the garbage."

"What's—" Steve stumbles into the room, rubbing at his eyes. His hair looks ridiculous. The serum might have made him immune to the common cold or runner's knee, but it can't protect him from bedhead. There's something comforting about that. Steve takes in Bucky's betrayed look and Sam's confusion, follows Sam's gaze to the pile of mangled fruit in the trash can. Sudden comprehension fills his face. "Oh," he says. "Bucky found out about bananas."

"What," says Sam.

Steve just shakes his head and joins Bucky at the table. He leans in, conspiratorial. "It's the weirdest thing, Buck," he's saying. "They're all like that, doesn't matter where you buy 'em. Everyone in the future just acts like this is how bananas are supposed to taste." Bucky makes a disgusted face. "I know," says Steve, and somehow his expression contains outrage, empathy, and a kind of loopy relief. "I know. You're the first person who—" He sighs. "Thought I was going crazy–"

"Well, you ain't," says Bucky. "They're…pulpy. Mealy."

"And bland," Steve agrees. 

"They taste like shit—"

They're both smiling now, heads ducked together, the only two members of some exclusive little club. Super-Soldiers Against Modern Bananas.

"Uh," says Sam, and they both turn to look at him, as if suddenly remembering he's in the room, "are you sure this isn't, like, a nostalgia thing? Some kind of a 'back in my day—'"

Bucky shoots him a glare that feels really, really disproportionate to the situation.

"It's okay," says Steve, "he doesn't get it. Nobody gets it." The 'nobody but you' is clear in the fond curve of his smile, in the sudden ease of his shoulders, and yep, Steve and Bucky are officially having a moment about bananas. It's okay, they've had moments about weirder things before. They're not actually together, Sam's pretty sure, mostly they just watch each other a lot, secret longing looks, or at times like these, eye contact that is way too significant for seven in the morning. Sam doesn't ask. They've got time to work it out on their own.

Instead, he grabs his phone and does some quick googling: bananas different past present. He scrolls down a little, clicks a likely-looking article, reads. "Oh," he says. "Guys. Here you go. The bananas you grew up with were a species called Gros Michel, but in the fifties a banana plague wiped them out—because apparently there are banana plagues—and now we eat a different kind."

"They couldn't call 'em something else?" Bucky protests.

"Like 'lie-fruit'," says Steve.


Bananas are not, nor have they ever been berries, but it seems best to let that slide. Sam skims ahead a little. "Yeah, apparently you can still find Gros Michels in Thailand, but they're not for sale in America—"

"Wait!" says Bucky, wide-eyed with some realization. For a moment, he sounds very earnest, almost young. "What about banana candy?" They both blink at him. "Well," he says, "it's not like the plague knocked out banana flavoring—" 

"Man, don't get your hopes up, banana-flavored anything is nasty," Sam tells him absently, scrolling down. "It's way too sweet and it never tastes anything like bana—" He pauses mid-syllable. "Huh."

Steve and Bucky exchange a look. There's a beat. "That gas station down the street sells candy, right?" says Steve.

"Uh, yeah, think so," says Sam. The gas station is down the street, in that it's five miles down the street, but Steve is already out the door. Super-speed and all that.

Sam glances towards the trash bin. "'Course, I'm not sure what I'm going to eat for breakfast now," he says.

He's mostly talking to himself, but after a moment, Bucky says, "You really like the new kind?" Sam can't tell if there's accusation in Bucky's tone or not, but he nods. "It's okay," says Bucky, "you don't know any better." This is the nicest thing Bucky has said to him since moving in a month and a half ago. "Sorry I ruined all your stupid shitty bananas," he adds, which is now the second-nicest. "Thanks for lookin' into it, I guess." 

"Hey, what are friends for," says Sam, opening the fridge. Bucky says nothing, which is not unusual. "Or friends of friends, it's cool."  Sam knows Bucky's going through a lot, and doesn't want him to feel pressured to be buddy-buddy just because Bucky and Steve are crashing at Sam's place for a while. It's a weird situation. Sam respects that. "Want some strawberries?" he asks. 

"It's just—you make him sleep on the couch," says Bucky.

Sam shuts the fridge door and turns around. "What?" Steve does sleep on Sam's sofa; the night they found Bucky, Steve surrendered the guest bedroom without a second thought. But saying Sam forced the decision is sort of insane.

"Every night," says Bucky. "You guys fighting or something?" His lip curls, bitter. "Domestic quarrel?"

"No," says Sam slowly. "Uh, you do know that he and I are not romantically involved? Like, at all?" 

The way Bucky just sort of looks at him answers that question. "Men can be with men now," he says, a challenging tilt to his jaw.

"If they want to be, yeah—"

"He lives with you," says Bucky.

"I mean, so do you," Sam points out. He rinses off the strawberries and sets the carton on the table. "Seriously man, you just assumed? You never thought to talk about it with him?"

Bucky frowns. Not the 'brainwashed living weapon' frown Sam remembers chilling his blood from across a pile of burning rubble. It's a distinctly different frown. "Lots of things me and Steve don't talk about," he says quietly.

"Maybe you should," Sam suggests. He nudges the strawberries towards him. "Take one, they're good." Bucky eyes them dubiously, as if expecting another bait-and-switch. "Got 'em at that fancy farmer's market at Dupont Circle. They were grown by the Amish, is that old school enough for you?"

Bucky picks up a strawberry and takes a cautious bite. After a second, he nods. "Okay," he says, mouth full, "you're one for one, Wilson."

"Also," says Sam, "y'know, for what it's worth. Steve never dropped everything he was doing to buy me gas station candy like I was someone's pregnant wife with a craving—"

"Shut up," says Bucky, grabbing another strawberry, "you like dumb bananas." But something in his brief flickering smile gives Sam a sudden urge to ruffle his hair. He doesn't, if only because Bucky could crush Sam's skull with one hand. 

"Quit eating all my fruit, freeloader," says Sam instead.

"Then don't put it where I can reach, dumbass," says Bucky. So Sam pulls up a chair and they sit around eating way too many strawberries, waiting for a back-from-the-dead American hero to bring them candy flavored like a fruit that is itself nearly dead. It's not how Sam thought he'd be spending his morning, but yeah, he'll roll with it.