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Steve nestled closer to Bucky who was breathing softly. Neither boy said anything but a sense of dread hung over them both. Bucky would be gone in a few days time, exiled to a farm nestled in the cornfields of Indiana. He hugged him a bit tighter and earned a soft chuckle from his boyfriend.

“I'm not gone yet.” Steve kissed his jaw and tangled his feet with the older boys.

”You will be. This will be over soon and we'll never see each other again.” Bucky grabbed his chin and forced him to look up at him.

“I will see you again. Because you're mine and I'm yours and I'm with you, Stevie.” He held up his pinky finger and Steve twisted his own around it.

“Until the end of the line.”
________________________________________

13 Years Later
-------------------------

Steve sat at his dining table, staring down at the blank sketchbook in front of him. He could hear Sharon getting ready in their bedroom and he frowned. He slammed the book shut and pushed it aside.

He wandered into the kitchen where the coffee pot was sitting, a few minutes away from being done. He pulled two mugs out and watched the machine until it beeped. Steve poured the hot coffee out, adding cream and sugar to his own.

Sharon entered the kitchen, putting earrings in as she went. She finished and picked up her mug and took a long sip, a content sigh escaping after she swallowed.

“My flight leaves at 9 so I won't make it home after work. All my bags are packed and I'll only be gone for four days. You need to pay our share of the lawn care service, the water bill, and I need you to pick up my dry cleaning from Scott's.”

“You know that place is a money laundering front, right?” She chuckled and pulled an apple out of the fridge.

“Well they're fantastic at getting stains out.”

He watched her eat a quick breakfast and pack up her lunch. She kissed him deeply before chugging the rest of her coffee.

When she finished eating and getting ready, Steve helped her carry her bags out to her car. She was clearly frantic and he stopped her getting into her car to kiss her one more time. She smiled at him and wrapped her arms around his neck.

“What was that for?” He smiled and shrugged.

“Because I love you. I'll see you Tuesday.”

“I love you too.” She pecked him before climbing into her car and driving off.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With his weekend free, Steve decided to headed to the bookstore. His new graphic novel was on shelves and he wanted to grab a copy. As he walked down the busy streets of Brooklyn, he focused on the sound of his feet shuffling across cement.

When he stopped outside of the store, his heart leapt into his throat. A dark haired man stood in front of the books on display by the windows. He was reading the back cover of a book and hadn't seemed to notice Steve watching him.

Steve rushed inside, the bell ringing above the door as he did. The man glanced up and smiled warmly, putting the book down. He walked up to him and wrapped his arms around him.

“Holy shit! What are the odds?” Steve felt his heart leap into his throat and he smiled.

“Hi Buck.”
________________________________________

2005
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Steve was sitting on the curb when he heard gravel crunch next to him. An older boy stood over him, looking at the comic book in his hands. He sat down next to him and smiled.

“What's that?” Steve blushed and showed him the cover of the comic.

“It’s called Astrid. It's about an alien from the year 2347. Her goal is to protect Earth from its destruction by an evil alien warlord named Koltak.” He said softly, handing the boy the issue.

“She sounds badass. What's her powers?” He asked, reading the back.

“Flight, super strength, shapeshifting, and invisibility. But later in the series she discovers she's half Gather. That means she can harvest powers from whoever she defeats.” He was growing more excited describing her to this stranger, unaware of the fond look he was earning from him. “Oh! I'm Steve Rogers” He offered a hand to shake. The boy grabbed it and shook it firmly.

“Bucky Barnes.”
________________________________________

Present
----------------

Bucky pulled away, stilling smiling brightly.

“It's great to see you, Stevie. You haven't changed a bit.”

“Yup. I'm still skinny and small.” He said with a laugh, gesturing at his small frame.

“That's what I always liked about you.” Steve felt his cheeks heat up and Bucky smirked at him.

“So how have you been?” Bucky shrugged and leaned against a table.

“I'm doing good. I just moved back to the city actually.” Steve wrung his hands nervously and smiled.

“Great. It's great to see you again.” Bucky’s eyes flitted down to the gold ring on Steve's finger and his smile wavered.

“You're married?” Steve glanced down at his ring and bit his lip.

“Engaged. Her name is Sharon.” He shoved his hands into his pockets and ducked his head.

“Well I’d love to catch up more with you. What's your number?”

After quickly exchanging numbers with Bucky, the older man left. Steve watched him disappear down the busy street and sighed heavily, twisting the ring on his left finger that suddenly felt heavy and tight. He pushed his intrusive thoughts away and focused on finding a copy of his book.

The walk home was filled with detailed memories about their year together when they were teens. He hadn't thought about Bucky since he was in college but seeing him again had brought dozens of thoughts and emotions flooding to the surface of his mind. He shook his head and turned onto his street, pushing him out of his mind.
________________________________________

Steve sat on the edge of the pool watching Bucky do laps. His muscles rippled across his back as he did a smooth breaststroke. He felt his breath hitch and he chewed on his lip. Bucky finished his tenth lap across the large pool and effortlessly pulled himself out of the water.

Bucky patted himself down with a towel as he approached Steve who was swishing his legs in the water. He sat down next to him and stuck his legs in the water next to his. He deliberately brushed his leg against Steve's and delighted in the pink blush that covered his cheeks.

”So do you plan on actually getting in?” He asked, wrapping his towel around his shoulders.

”I can't get in if the water is too cold.” He answered softly. Bucky chuckled and places his hand on Steve's knee.

”We could probably heat it up if we tried."
________________________________________

Steve sketched another outline of his main character, not really focusing on what he was creating. He tapped his pencil against his chin and sighed. Bucky was still at the front of his thoughts and he glanced down at his phone. He thought about texting him but he didn't want to see too excitable. That and it wasn't appropriate to text someone at one in the morning.

His phone rang suddenly, shocking him out of his thoughts. He flipped it over to see an incoming call from Sharon. He smiled and answered, hoping his fianceé would distract him.

“Hey honey. How was your flight?” He heard a rustling and his brow furrowed. There was a noise he couldn't quite discern and he turned his volume up.

”Oh God! Oh fuck!” His face reddened and he realized he was hearing Sharon...pleasure herself.

“Uhhh...Sharon?” There was another moan and then his face paled when he heard another voice come through.

”You like that, baby? Does that punk you're marrying fuck you like this?” A man asked, earning another moan from Sharon.

”No! Please keep-” Steve ended the call and clenched his jaw tight.

A million thoughts rushed through his head before he stood, screamed, and threw his phone across the room, it landing softly on the carpet in the living room. He braced himself and leaned heavily on the dining table. He inhaled sharply, desperately trying to clear his mind.

“God damn it!” He finally shouted, punching the table.

His knuckles were bruised when he went to bed an hour later.

Chapter Text

Steve walked backwards, leading Bucky through his yard into the woods behind his home. His eyes were closed and he was holding onto the blondes hand tightly. They finally stopped after walking for several minutes, the older boy dramatically wiping his forehead.

”Har har. Open your eyes.” Bucky opened his eyes and his jaw dropped at the sight.

Hidden amongst the many trees in the small forest was a tiny cabin. It was leaning slightly and the glass in the windows was warped but it looked cozy. He walked towards it and touched the side of the small house..

”How'd you find this?” Steve smiled and walked over to open the small door.

”I built it actually. I was ten when I finished construction. But I take good care of her.” He knelt and motioned for Bucky to follow him through the small door.

The inside of the cabin was decorated with drawings, knick knacks, and windchimes. A full sized bed laid on a raised wooden bed frame and it was covered with sun bleached blue sheets and mismatched pillows. A small shelf next to the front window was filled with non perishable snacks, a small dining table set up under the window next to it.

”This place is amazing.” Bucky said, breathlessly. He paused, looking at Steve who was adding more sketches to the few bare spots on the walls.

”You really think so?” Steve asked with a wary smile.

”It's perfect.” He answered, never taking his eyes off the smaller boy.
________________________________________

Present
---------------

Steve woke up the next morning with an ache in his chest. He didn't know why until he looked over at his phone that had a small crack across the screen. He remembered the phone call he'd received the night before and he groaned.

Sunlight streamed in through the window and he rubbed his eyes, rolling over to stare at the ceiling. The buzz of the city could be heard nearby and birds were chirping somewhere outside his window. He sat up and grabbed his phone, checking the texts he had received from both Sharon and Bucky.

Bucky: good morning

He smiled and sent him back a quick message before climbing out of bed. His schedule was empty for the next few days and he wasn't sure what to do. Something shimmered on the vanity across the room and he frowned.

Some pieces of Sharon's jewelry sat strewn about. He ran a finger across the gold necklace he'd gotten her for Christmas and sighed. Inspiration struck and he began shoving jewelry into her small jewelry box.

He spent the rest of the day packing her things up in boxes he'd gotten from the dumpster behind the bodega near their apartment. The smell of rotten fruit and cigarettes permeated off the boxes and he hated how happy it made him that her clothes would smell.

He rented a U-Haul the next morning and piled all her belongings inside, not worrying if anyone would break in and steal her things. Whenever she texted him, she received curt one word responses. He wanted her to know she was getting the cold shoulder.

When Sharon entered their apartment on Tuesday, Steve was eating breakfast on the couch. He flipped through channels, ignoring her presence. She put her bags down by the front door and moved towards him before stopping at the sight of her missing furniture, tchotchkes, and all the photos of her.

“Were we robbed?” She asked, sounding nervous.

“No. Your things are in the U-Haul trailer outside.” She stammered and rushed into the living room, standing in front of him.

“What?! Is this your way of being funny? Because it's not.” He shoveled another spoonful of cereal into his mouth and turned the tv off.

“I'm not being funny. I'm dumping you.”

Steve brushed past her, moving into the kitchen. As he laid his bowl in the sink and began washing it, she burst into the kitchen. She stammered, dumbfounded but he just finished washing the bowl and laid it in the drying rack.

“What is going on?!” She almost shouted, her voice panicked and strained.

“You cheated on me!” He finally snapped, glaring up at her. “I heard everything when you accidentally called me a few nights ago.”

“Oh my God.” She whispered, her hand going to her mouth. “Steve, I'm so sorry.” She reached out to touch him but he slid out of the way of her grasp.

“Just go.” He placed his engagement ring in her hand and left the kitchen, disappearing into their…his bedroom.
________________________________________

Steve lowered himself slowly into the pool. The water was warm but still a slight shock to his system. He inhaled sharply and turned to exit before bracing himself and turning back to face the shallow water. He thought about removing his wide framed glasses but thought better and kept them on.

He swam slowly for several minutes, growing acquainted with the water. Once he felt confident, he began swimming towards the slightly deeper water but not going past five feet. A breeze caused the water to lap quietly against the sides of the pool and he shivered.

”You couldn't wait for me?”

Steve turned to see Bucky approaching the pool, towel slung over his shoulder. He dropped it onto a lawn chair and dove gracefully into the deep end of the pool. He emerged and shook his hair, water droplets splashing the pools surface like rain.

”I waited 15 minutes.” He answered quietly. Bucky swam over to him and smiled, pulling Steve close to him in the water. His cheeks reddened and Bucky bit his lip, admiring the flush on his face.

”You're too impatient.” He ducked under the water and swam away. Steve patted the water on his face to stop the flush.
________________________________________

After tearfully leaving the apartment, Sharon hooked the trailer up to her car and drove away. Steve watched her drive off, shaking like a leaf the whole time. He took a deep breath before grabbing his keys and wallet and heading out to the nearest bar.

When he arrived at Arlowes, he expected to have one or two drinks. But he was 11 drinks deep by 9pm and he was more drunk than he'd ever been in his life. As he sipped at his 12th drink, Bucky entered the bar and headed straight for Steve at the bar.

“Hey Bucky! How'd you know I was here?” He asked, his speech slurred heavily.

“You texted me, Steve.” He glanced at the empty glasses in front of him and frowned. “How many drinks have you had?” Steve counted on his hands, swaying as he did.

“Eleventeen.” He burped and Bucky furrowed his brow.

“What?” He glanced up at the bartender.

“He's on his twelfth but I switched him to tonic water four drinks back.” The bartender cleared the empty glasses off of the bar and turned towards the sink to start washing them.

“Why are you drinking your heart out, Stevie?” He smiled and wrapped an arm around his neck.

“Because, as I was telling Clark here,”

“Clint.” He corrected not turning from the sink.

“Yes! As I was telling Clint, Sharon moved out today. Turns out she's been cheating on me for like...a long time.” He took another sip of his drink and leaned heavily on the bar. Bucky rubbed small circles on his back and sighed.

“I'm so sorry, man. That's terrible. Is there anything I can do?”

“Undo the last four years of my life?”

They sat in silence for a while before Steve stood. He threw a $100 on the bar and slapped the top, pointing at Clint and smiling before telling him to keep the change. Bucky followed him out of the bar as he stepped outside and immediately threw up in the bushes outside.

He stood and wiped his mouth, grimacing at the bitter taste. Bucky led him towards a convenience store down the block, hoping to get some water into his stomach.

After buying a bottle, he led him back outside onto a bench where he handed him the water. He took a long sip and sighed, rubbing his head.

“I hate sobering up.” He mumbled, taking another sip. Bucky leaned back and placed a hand between his shoulder blades.

“You're not the type to drink himself blind, dude.”

“Yeah, well, I'm not having the best week.” He rubbed his temples and sighed. “And you want to know the worst part?”

“What?”

“I'm not upset she cheated. I'm upset I wasted so many years with someone I wasn't in love with.”

They sat in silence for several minutes, Bucky just rubbing his back reassuringly.

Chapter Text

Steve sat in his cabin, sketching Bucky who laid asleep on the bed. The thin blanket laid across his stomach and his bare legs were spread across the mattress. He sighed in his sleep and rolled over, uncovering himself with the blanket.

He focused on sketching the small details of the scene laid out before him. His art teacher had told him he needed to start focusing on the small picture and accentuating the tiny details. So he focused on the moles on his upper thigh, the baby hairs at the nape of his neck, the huge scar on his upper left arm.

”You're so pretty. It's not fair.” He whispered, closing his sketchbook.

”You're not half bad yourself.” Bucky said sleepily.

Steve smiled and walked over to the bed, kicking off his shoes and climbing in next to him. He let his friend pull him into his arms and they fell asleep together.
________________________________________

Steve approached the restaurant Sam had asked him to meet at. It was a small little bistro about 15 blocks from his apartment but virtually unknown by anyone. As he entered, a maitre’d was immediately in front of him, menu in hand. He led him to Sam's table where he was talking softly to another man. Steve sat down and took a sip of his water.

“Hey Steve. This is Riley.” Riley smiled and reach across the table to shake his hand.

“Nice to meet you.” Riley stood and leaned over to hug Sam before leaving the restaurant. Steve watched him walk away before turning to Sam with a confused look on his face.

“He's an old friend from the air force. We've been...reconnecting lately.”

They ordered some appetizers before Sam steepled his fingers and stared Steve down.

“What happened?” He sighed and slumped in his seat.

“Sharon talked to you already?”

“She talked to everyone. She said that you kicked her out for no reason and broke off your engagement.”

“Do you believe her?” Sam stopped buttering his bread and scoffed.

“Of course not. There's no way in hell you'd ever do that without a damn good reason.”

“I found out that she's been cheating on me. And she can lie all she wants too. I've got a recording. I record all my calls.” Sam smiled and bit into his bread roll. He chewed for a few moments before wiping his mouth and then laughing.

“I always knew your paranoia about threatening phone calls would pay off someday.” Steve laughed and shook his head.

The two men ate the rest of their lunch, offsetting the breaks between eating with easy conversation. After paying, the two of them decided to walk around Brooklyn. Sam was his best friend and it had been a long time since they had spent time together.

“So what's going on with you since the breakup?” Steve scuffed his heel across the cement and shrugged.

“I've been spending some time with an old friend of mine.” Sam grinned.

“Looks like we're doing the same stuff these days.” Sam said, looking over at his small friend. “What friend is it?”

“Bucky Barnes.” Sam stopped walking to stare at Steve, jaw dropped.

“Your lost high school love?! The one who had to move back to Indiana?” Steve nodded and Sam just shook his head in shock.

“We're just friends now, Sam.” Steve said, walking away from his dumbfounded friend. Sam jogged to catch up with him.

“Just friends. For now! What if you fall for him all over again and spark an undying romance for the ages?” Steve rolled his eyes.

“I doubt it. He's older and wiser now. There's no way he'd go for me.” His tone was sullen and it surprised him. Sam laughed.

“Well you've clearly been carrying a torch for him all these years. It explains why you're not upset about everything that happened with Sharon. You know, your ex-fianceé who you dumped a week ago?”

“Just stop focusing on my love life. Tell me about yours. Riley seems nice.” Sam smirked.

“Yeah. He's nice. But we're still just friends. Unlike you though, I'm going to do something about that.”
________________________________________

Bucky burst into the cabin, backpack slung over one shoulder and a blanket over the other. Steve looked up from his homework and frowned. The older boy laid the fluffy, king sized quilt down on the bed and threw his bag onto the spare chair they'd moved in a few months before.

”Why'd you bring such a big blanket for the bed?” Bucky kicked off his shoes and jumped onto the bed, wrapping himself in the quilt.

”It's for maximum snuggling.” He explained, gesturing for Steve to join him on the bed. Steve cautiously laid down his pencil before crossing over to the bed. He kicked off his own shoes and climbed into the bed, letting Bucky wrap him up and pull him close.

”It's so warm.” He said, pulling the blanket higher. Bucky grabbed Steve's hand and frowned at how cold it was. He moved closer, wrapping his hands around both of Steve's and laying his head in the crook of his neck.

”You forgot your gloves again, didn't you?” Steve didn't answer but he knew it was unnecessary. His silence answered his question.

”I worry about you. A lot.” Bucky finally said after a long moment of silence. Steve hummed in disapproval.

”Why?”

”Because I really care about you. Duh!” Steve smiled and closed his eyes, letting sleep pull him under, Bucky still in his arms.

Chapter Text

Steve sat the kitchen table eating his breakfast and reading the newest edition of Astrid. His mother had been at work for a few hours already, leaving him behind some pizza money for lunch. Her work hours were always hectic and she very rarely made it home while Steve was awake. The distant sound of the grandfather clock in their living room reminded him it was almost 10 and he sighed.

He headed out to the cabin after finishing Astrid, carrying his new sketchbook in one hand and a package of generic Oreos in the other. The door to the cabin was ajar as he approached and he paused. There had been break-ins in the past, a raccoon and homeless man respectively. He poked his head in and sighed in relief when he saw Bucky laying in the bed flipping through a magazine.

”Why aren't you at school?” He asked, ducking inside. Bucky closed the magazine and frowned.

”Why weren't you?” Bucky retorted, crossing his arms. Steve put the cookies on the shelf and sighed.

”I'm in a relief program during the fall and winter quarter.” He explained. “I stay home on Thursdays and Fridays. I just stay ahead of my schoolwork at home.”

”I thought you were ditching.” Bucky said sitting up.

”You're the one ditching. So get to school. Or I'll kick your ass.” He stood and crossed the small room to stand over Steve.

”I'd like to see you try.”
________________________________________

Steve mulled over what Sam had said to him a few days before. He wasn't sure if he still had feelings for Bucky. It seemed implausible that he still would after 13 years. He had heard crazier things before though.

He looked up at Bucky who sat next to him, staring up at the huge theater screen in front of them. Steve wasn't sure what was even happening the movie. The puppet on screen was joking about something with a woman but he tuned it out.

“This movie is hilarious.” Bucky whispered, leaning against Steve's shoulder to talk to him. His whole arm felt like it was tingling and he inhaled sharply

Bucky seemed oblivious and turned his attention back to the movie. Steve wiped his palms on his jeans and sighed. He glanced over at his friend who was currently slowly licking butter and alt off his fingers.

“I'm going to the bathroom.” Steve whispered, slipping out of the aisle, rushing out of the theater.

When he made it into the bathroom, he splashed water on his face. His cheeks were blazing and he groaned. He felt like that dumb wide eyed 15 year old who'd fallen for Bucky the first time. As he leaned against the counter, he heard someone clear their throat behind him.

Standing behind him was Bucky, drink in hand.

“Did you follow me?” He practically shouted.

“No. The movie is over. I came in here to pee.” He seemed confused at Steve's loud questioning. He put his cup down and walked over to the urinal.

Steve grabbed the cup and rushed out of the bathroom, leaning against the wall. Bucky emerged after a few minutes and took his cup back. They were both silent as they left the theater and headed down the street to the parking garage where his car waited.

“I'm sorry for yelling at you.” Steve finally said. Bucky stopped walking and turned to look him.

“Are you ok? You're really red and sweaty.” He froze and braced himself against his friend.
He suddenly felt dizzy and blinked rapidly.

“I thought I was just nervous but...I think I'm sick.” Bucky threw his cup into a nearby trash can before putting his hand to Steve's forehead.

“You're pretty warm. I think you have a fever.” Steve sighed and Bucky made a question noise. “What were you nervous about?”

“Can you just help me get home?” He pressed his keys into his palm and slowly continued walking.

When he entered his apartment, he immediately collapsed into his recliner. Bucky headed to the bathroom, returning with Motrin, ibuprofen, and an ear thermometer. He handed it to Steve who stuck it to his ear, yawning as he did.

“You're running at 101.6 degrees, Stevie.” He groaned and sat up, taking the medicine out of his hands. Bucky got him a glass of water as he popped two pills and a tablespoon of Motrin.

“Thank you.” Steve said, after sipping some water. Bucky pushed his hair away from his eyes and smiled down at him.

“I care about you, remember?”

“Duh!” Steve responded, with a weak laugh.
________________________________________

Bucky and Steve walked down the sidewalk together, shoulder to shoulder. The bus had just dropped them off at the end of the block and they were eager to get to the cabin. They were about to turn into Steve's backyard when his mother called out to him.

”Hey boys. I'm home for the night. Do you want to stay over for dinner?”

”I'd love that, Mrs. Rogers. I have to call my mom but I'm sure she won't mind.” She nodded and disappeared back into the house.

Mrs. Rogers?” Steve asked.

”I'll never get her approval if I'm not as sweet as pie.” They continued walking through the yard, heading into the woods.

”My mom already likes you, remember?” Bucky looked down and buried his hands into his pockets.

Once inside the cabin, Steve began eagerly describing his art class experience. He was too excited about the fact that he was up for prize and was oblivious to how offish Bucky was being. He sat in the bigger dining chair, pulling his legs up under him.

”Do you like me?” Bucky interrupted suddenly, still looking distant and nervous.

”Of course I do.”

”But do you like me?” Steve wasn't sure how to respond so he just stared at him for a moment before stammering out an, ‘uh'. Bucky sighed and turned away from him.

”Why are you asking?”

”Because I like you! And I thought maybe you did too because of how…” He trailed off and picked his backpack up off the floor. “I'm an idiot. I'm going home.”

He started towards the door but Steve jumped up, stopping him before he could leave. He held tightly to his wrist, pulling him to face him. The two boys stared at each other for a long moment before Bucky leaned down and captured his mouth with his own.

Steve had to stretch to his full height to reciprocate properly. He was lifted slightly by Bucky who kissed him fiercely. He sighed and wrapped an arm around his neck. The kiss felt amazing but he knew he was doing a terrible job.

”Can we do that a lot more now?” Steve asked as Bucky pulled away. The older boy laughed.

”Just try and stop me.” He leaned down, kissing him again.

Chapter Text

Steve walked slowly to the cabin, his arms weighed down with his mother's old boombox. He had several CDs and cassettes in his backpack and he was eager to add another feature to the cabin. As he approached, he noticed the dim yellow light emanating from the small house and he smiled. He opened the door and stepped through, looking over at Bucky who was flipping through a magazine.

”I got us a radio!” Steve crowed, putting it down on the middle tier of their shelves. Bucky looked up, pulling a headphone out of his ear.

”Why? I have an iPod, remember?” His smile wavered and he looked down at the radio, feeling like he'd made a mistake.

”It's stupid. I'll give it back to my mom.” He put his backpack down dejectedly but Bucky put his things down and crossed the room to rifle through the backpack filled with music.

”Paul Anka? Your mom listens to old people music.” He pulled the cassette out and placed it in the machine, pressing play.

The opening chords to Put Your Head on My Shoulder began and Steve smiled. It was easily one of his favorite songs and he swayed a bit as the music poured out of the speakers. Bucky noticed him and grabbed him, pulling him into his arms and dipping him.

”Jesus! Are you trying to kill me?” Steve asked, laughing, his heart pounding. Bucky pulled him back and kissed his cheek, quickly, several times.

”Just trying to get your blood pumping.” He said, chuckling. Steve just rolled his eyes and leaned up to kiss his cheek.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Steve awoke the following morning, sweating and nauseous. He rolled over and noticed that there was a note and a glass of water next to his bed. He grabbed the note and sat up slowly.

Slept on couch. Breakfast is cooking now.

The note was scrawled out in Bucky’s familiar chicken scratch writing and he smiled at it. He rubbed his forehead before glancing down at himself and frowning. The oversized shirt he wore to bed every night was hanging in his with frame.

He shook the thought off and wandered slowly out of his bedroom, making his way down the hall towards his living room. The smell of pumpkin wafted through the house and his stomach rumbled.

Bucky sat at the dining table, two trays of pumpkin muffins cooling off on trivets in front of him. He looked up at him and smiled, putting down his phone. Steve sat down next to him and weakly smiled before laying his head on the table.

“Thank you for staying to make sure I was ok.” He mumbled. Bucky ran his fingers through his hair and smiled at him.

“No problem. I'll go get you some coffee.”

“Two parts coffee, one part liquid creamer.” He said, barely lifting his head.

His eyes fluttered shut and when they reopened, his coffee mug sat in front of him. A plate with a muffin and some sausages sat in front of him as well and he frowned. He propped his head up and he took a weak nibble of the muffin.

“Do you have anyone who can come check on you today? I would but I've got a class I need to get to.”

“I've got loads of friends. I'll ask one of them to come over.” Bucky raised an eyebrow.

“Really? You never had friends when we were…” He trailed off and the room fell silent.

“Did you dress me last night?” He practically shouted, making Bucky jump with surprise.

“No. You wandered off to your room after you took some medicine and when I checked in on you, you were in that and unconscious in your vanity chair. So I put you in bed, grabbed a blanket out of your hall closet, and crashed on the couch.”

“Thank you for staying with me. All night.” Bucky smiled and took a sip of his coffee.

“Someone had to keep an eye on you, pipsqueak.” Steve groaned.

“I hate that nickname!”

“Yeah...I know.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Steve rushed into his publishers office, the next two comics under his arm. She looked up at him, smiling warmly as he entered. She lowered her glasses and steepled her fingers.

“Good morning, Steve. You're late.” Her tone was playful and he knew he wasn't in immediate trouble.

“I'm sorry, Peggy. It's been a crazy month.” Peggy nodded and motioned for him to sit.

He took a seat in front of her desk, laying his binder down on the surface in front of him. She stood and crossed the room to pour them both a cup of Jasmine tea, adding sugar to his. She placed his cup in front of him and leaned against the edge of her desk.

“How’re you doing? Sharon has spread some nasty rumors as of late. I love my niece to pieces but I know when she's telling a lie.” He sighed and leaned back, taking a long sip of the hot tea.

“It's...complicated. I feel betrayed because she cheated but I also feel relieved that I finally had a reason to dump her.” He paused, looking up his publisher. “Does that make me a bad person?” She shook her head.

“Heavens no! Everyone who feels stuck in a relationship always hopes for an out like that.” She grabbed the binder off her desk and began flipping through the pages. “So Astrid has finally made it off Planet Dal?”

After his meeting with Peggy, Steve began the drive home. She'd told him that his 49th and 50th issues were fantastic and she send them off to polished off and printed out. He couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that her somehow gotten lucky enough to write and illustrate his favorite comic series, let alone make it to his 50th issue.

Once he got home, he looked around his empty apartment and sighed before inspiration struck. He pulled his phone out and quickly tapped out some invitations to his friends.

Steve was going to celebrate his 50th issue with a dinner party.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

”I wish you'd read them. They're really good comic books.”

Steve had the latest issue of Astrid in his hands and he leaned against Bucky, flipping through the pages. She was off on another grand adventure with her new sidekick, Switch. They were a shapeshifting alien badass who was constantly flirting with Astrid. They were easily Steve's newest favorite superhero.

”I'm just not into comics, Stevie.”

”Well I'm not into science or cars but I pretend I am to make you happy.” Bucky laughed and kissed the top of his head.

”You don't have to pretend. It's obvious you're not interested.” Steve glared up at Bucky who just kissed the tip of his nose and grinned at him.

”Stop being charming.” He grumbled, earning a laugh from the older boy.

”I can't. It's in my bones, baby.” He nuzzled his cheek and placed a soft kiss on his throat.”That's not fair!” He grumbled, not attempting to stop him.

Chapter Text

Steve sat on the front steps of his porch, resting his head in his hands, dozing off. The sun slowly crept over the trees and the birds were slowly starting to wake up. He hated waking before the sun on weekends but Bucky insisted he wake early so they could go on an adventure.

The familiar sound of boots on pavement sounded out next to him and he turned to Bucky approaching, his backpack hanging off his shoulder. He threw it on the porch next to him and leaned down to kiss him. Steve never worried about neighbors seeing them during moments like this which is why he leaned into the kiss, tangling his fingers in his boyfriends hair.

Bucky pulled away with a huge sleepy grin and bit his lip. He glanced up and his smile faded quickly. Steve turned around to see his mother standing in the doorway, purse on her shoulder, and her scrubs on. He stood quickly and she stepped out the front door, closing it behind her.

”Mom. I'm so sorry.” He said, worry lacing his voice. Bucky looked down ashamed as Sarah approached Steve.

”For what?” Her voice was soft and she smiled at him, brushing his hair off his forehead.

”You're not angry at me?” Sarah scoffed and shook her head. She walked down the steps a bit to place a reassuring hand on Bucky’s own shoulder.

”I'm not going to angry at my son for being happy.” He smiled and she kissed his forehead. “I've also seen you two kiss dozens of times in the backyard before Bucky goes home.”

Both boys laughed with relief and she laughed with them, giving them both a hug.

”Remember this, Steven.” She started, “Nothing you ever do will make me love you less.”
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Sam laid across Steve's couch while he vacuumed his carpet, trying to tidy up his messy place before the rest of his friends arrived. He turned the vacuum cleaner off and leaned against it, wiping sweat off his brow. His friend looked up from his book and smiled.

“Looks great, buddy.”

“You could help, you know?” Sam waved him off and went back to reading his book. “I ordered food for 20 people. Do you think that's enough for everyone?”

“Who all is coming?” He asked, closing his book and laying it aside.

“Bucky, Pepper, Rhodey, Tony, Natasha, her new boyfriend, Peggy, Gabe, Bruce, and you.” Sam thought for a moment.

“Well I invited Riley too. And didn’t Bruce say he was bringing that guy he was seeing?” Steve chuckled.

“You mean the Nordic prince he met on a message board? There's no way that guy is real. He's just too naive to believe he's being catfished.” Sam sighed.

“Poor guy.”

The sushi he ordered arrived 20 minutes before Bucky arrived with two bottles of champagne. They both had neat little bows on them and Steve thanked him with a smile. The rest of his friends slowly trickled in after a few minutes, each arriving with different congratulatory gifts.

Natasha had excitedly introduced him to her new boyfriend, Clint, who jokingly mentioned their brief encounter at Arlowes a few weeks before. She teased him about not realizing he wasn't drinking alcohol after his eighth drink. Once they'd wandered off, Peggy approached with her husband.

“I can't believe you've already written 50 comics. I'm so proud of you.” Peggy congratulated him with a hug. Gabe hugged him and mentioned something about wanting a cameo in the next issue.

After the couple drifted away to grab food and drinks, Bruce approached him. He gave him a quick hug and handed him a figurine still in its box.

“I know you wanted to wait to open your gifts after everyone left but I really wanted you to have this.” Steve stared at the small, golden Astrid statuette and gasped.

“This is a collector's item! There's only 10 of these in the world. How on Earth did you get one?”

“My boyfriend actually sent it to me a few months ago. I mentioned you wrote Astrid and he thought you'd like it.” Steve's face pinched at the mention of his ‘boyfriend’.

Everyone had quieted as well and Gabe, Peggy, Clint, Riley, and Bucky looked around confused. Tony took a step forward and placed a hand on Bruce shoulder. The scientist looked confused at everyone sudden mood change and his brow wrinkled.

“Dude…you're being catfished.” He said.

“What? No I'm not. Thor is real.” Natasha frowned.

“How can you be sure? With all the new technology now, it's really easy to pretend to be someone else.”

“Guys, let's not turn Steve's party into an intervention.” Rhodey said, attempting to defuse the situation. “We can talk about this later.”

Bruce shrugged off Tony's hand and glared at him. Pepper mumbled, ‘here we go’, under her breath and took a sip of her white wine.

“He's real! I thought we were done with this argument.” Tony sighed and threw back the rest of his beer.

“I looked this dude up. He's the crown Prince of an entire country. What is he doing on message boards on science websites trying to hook up with people?” Bruce groaned.

“You realize I've spoken with him, right? We've Skyped dozens of times.” Tony growled in frustration.

“You know better than I do how easy it is to fake something like that. I know you're smarter than that. You're the smartest person I've ever met. Maybe who's ever lived!”

“Do none of you believe me?” Everyone looked down or away from him and he sighed. Bucky tentatively raised his hand and Steve facepalmed.

“I do.” Bruce laughed and walked over to put a hand on his shoulder.

“Thank you! See? He...uh” He trailed off and looked at Bucky. “I don't actually know you.”

“I’m Bucky. I'm a friend of Steves.” He shook his hand with a smile. “And I'm not sure it means anything but I believe you.”

There was an awkward silence that fell over the room. As Steve opened his mouth to speak, there was a loud rap on the front door that made everyone jump. He frowned and looked at Sam who shrugged and turned back to Riley.

“I didn't invite anyone else.” Steve quickly explained to his confused guests.

“Maybe it's a serial killer.” Tony said jokingly. Pepper smacked the back of his head and he winced. He looked around at everyone who was staring at him expectantly. “Do you want me to open the door?”

“You suggested the serial killer thing, man. It's only fair you do the honors.” Rhodey said with an amused look on his face.

Tony disappeared around the corner, clearly annoyed. The click of the door opening and some muffled talking could be heard before the door closed again. He reappeared with a woman dressed in light, silver armor who's long black hair was braided down her back. She glared at everyone in the room for a moment before looking down at her wrist and tapping something out on the projector screen displayed there from her silver bracelet.

“Can I help you?” Steve asked. She smirked and shook her head.

“Just doing a quick security sweep.” Her voice was gruff and she flicked her wrist, the projection disappearing.

“For who?”

As if on cue, the door opened again and the sound of heavy footsteps reverberated down the small hallway. A tall man with cropped blonde hair and an eye patch stepped out of the hall, sweeping his knee length burgundy coat out behind him. The soldier smiled at the dumbstruck looks around the room and stepped back, leaning against the wall.

“Thor?” Bruce asked, looking completely shocked.

Thor smiled down at Bruce and stepped forward to pull him into an embrace. Tony just watched and pulled his phone out to snap a photo. The blonde prince pulled back a bit, still grinning. He leaned down to kiss him gently and brushed his curls away from his eyes.

“I had to come to Manhattan for business. I thought you'd like for me to join you at this party.” Bruce nodded and reached back up to hug him tightly.

“He's fucking real!” Tony suddenly exclaimed.

Thor turned to stare at him confused. Steve stepped in front of him and smiled up at him, offering his hand.

“I'm Steve. Thank you for coming. Grab something to eat if you're hungry. We have sushi!”

“Steve! Did you like my gift?” He asked, letting Steve lead him towards the dining room.

“What the fuck?!” Rhodey just rubbed Tony's back and led him away from the others.
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Steve huddled close Bucky as they ate their lunch. The buzz of the cafeteria around them was nearly deafening but they just ignored the others and discussed their upcoming photography project.

”Hi Bucky!” The two of them looked up to see Bonnie Perry standing in front of them.

”Oh! Hey Bonnie.” Her face was red and she tucked a strand of long black hair behind her ear.

”I was wondering if you wanted to go to homecoming with me.” Steve snorted and Bucky stammered wildly.

”I'm flattered but I have a date.” Her face fell and she looked over at Steve who was trying not to laugh.

”What are you laughing at Rogers? Something funny?” He nodded.

”Everyone here knows Bucky is gay. Why did think he'd say yes to you?”

”I thought that was just a dumb rumor.”

”Sorry, Bonnie. I'm going with Steve.” She scoffed and turned on her heel, storming off. Steve rolled his eyes.

”Do you think we're going to get beat up now that everyone will know were dating?” He asked, crossing his arms on the table.

”They can try.” Bucky said with a smile. “But I'm never going to let them near you.”

”You know I can handle myself, Buck.”

”I know.” He leaned closer and smiled at him. “It's them I'm worried about.”