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If Only In My Dreams

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Hello darlings! I hope everyone’s Thanksgivings were successful, beautiful, and easy. If anybody tried out the Pancetta Sage Sweet Potato Pie or the Gold-leaf Mini Pumpkin place card holders shoot me a picture, I’d love to show off your gorgeous work for a follow-up holiday blog and to inspire everybody to get PUMPED for Christmas. (On that note, I’ve got some gooood stuff coming your way throughout the month of December to make your family’s mouths water and eyes pop, can’t wait to share). As for me and DH, our Thanksgiving was serene and magical—Connecticut even stepped it up for us with the first snowfall of the year just in time! As I’m writing this, that sweet man himself is outside chopping wood because you KNOW how we like our cozy fires once the snow starts. Nothing gets me in the mood for Christmas like the smell of wood smoke, except maybe my Holiday Hot Toddy (recipe here), how about you guys? Anyway I hope you all took my advice and overestimated your cooking portions a bit, because today is all about my favorite ways to make use of those dreamy Thanksgiving leftovers—warning: read on at your own peril, I guarantee you’ll want to get up and make some of these like, now…

XOXO, J.B.

Bucky hits save on the draft, clicking out of the Thatchery&Sprig posting form to scan over the recipes he’d pulled together last week before he publishes.

He jumps—distracted by an almighty crash and a blaring car alarm on the street outside. Bucky rolls his eyes. It may already be snowing peacefully in Connecticut (he’d checked his weather app updates to be sure, he’s a professional) but in Brooklyn it’s still just sleeting miserably and everyone is cranky about it. Not that New Yorkers are ever exactly un-cranky about anything, but still. There have definitely been more screaming matches on the street this week. It makes Bucky sort of rethink whether taking the street-facing apartment in his building was any better than one of the ones on the alley. But no, on that side the fights are just about who stole whose stash usually rather than parking spots. It all evens out. Maybe his super will finally replace the ancient windows with something insulated this year—that could help.

Hah, yeah, and maybe this is the year he actually says fuck it and really buys the farmhouse in Connecticut all his readers think he lives in. That’s just about as fucking likely.

Bucky is glaring morosely at said window, with a view of exactly nothing but grimy gray rain at the moment, when he gives another start. But this time it’s just his phone buzzing against his leg—he digs it out and sees Sam Wilson on the screen, swiping quickly to answer.

“Yup?”

“Barnes—are you sitting down?” Sam’s voice comes over the line, a little grainy like he’s calling from his car.

“Uh—yes,” Bucky says. He is in fact installed on his couch for the afternoon, trying to get his Thanksgiving stuff squared away so he can get moving on Christmas. The holidays are a real marathon for the Home and Lifestyle crowd, last year this is when he landed three of his biggest sponsors to date so he knows he’s gotta make it good.

“Hubby around?” Sam asks, and his voice contains some barely restrained excitement.

“Nope,” Bucky says with a chuckle. His fictional “Darling Husband” is decidedly not around.

“Okay well I have a proposal that involves both of you, but you can talk to him about it later because I can’t wait. Oh man, I am the best agent in the world you’re gonna flip—guess who I just got off the phone with?”

“Um…no idea,” Bucky says, starting to feel just a tiny bit of concern. “Butterball?”

Sam laughs, “No—couldn’t close that one unfortunately. But it doesn’t matter, this is better. I just got a call and offer from Pepper-fucking-Potts.”

The bubble of worry vanishes as Bucky catches some of Sam’s excitement.

“Pepper Potts like—like Stark Media editor-in-chief Pepper? Are you shitting me?”

Stark Media is the umbrella company for some of the country’s best publications—Travel mags, home and garden, cooking, tech, you name it—not to mention their not inconsiderable book imprint.

“Yes, that Pepper. And Tony Stark himself was on the call—I didn’t even know he got involved in any of the day to day anymore, can you believe—”

Sam,” Bucky breaks in, “this is all very exciting for you but what does it have to do with me?”

“Right, right,” Sam comes back to earth, putting his business voice back on. “Apparently, they’ve been keeping an eye on Thatchery&Sprig since sometime last year, and they’re thinking about acquiring you! Like, full sponsorship, free reign and publication options in Home and Hearth—and a book deal man! This offer is crazy, I don’t even know where to—”

“Jesus,” Bucky says, suitably impressed. Home and Hearth is one of the oldest home magazines around, a perennial occupant of every doctor’s and dentist’s office in the country not to mention the go-to for every housewife who hasn’t pledged themselves to Martha Stewart instead.

“I know!” Sam exclaims. “Okay here’s the thing though, I know it’s kind of short notice but…they want to do a kick-off piece about your Christmas stuff.”

“Okay…” Bucky says with some trepidation.

“Tony and Pepper—they want to come stay with you that week, bring a photographer and do the whole thing with you—like, part profile of you, part of them, which is nuts, they haven’t done a profile since they got hitched and—” Sam rushes to continue as Bucky’s stomach drops. Because that…is not going to work. “And okay, you know that Captain? The one who just won the Medal of Honor, been doing the morning shows circuit because everybody realized at his ceremony that he’s also super hot so now everyone’s obsessed? They wanna bring him too, totally a publicity stunt but the dude just told Good Morning America that he doesn’t have any Christmas plans because he hasn’t got any family to stay with and I think Stark saw an opportunity to capitalize while they launch this thing with you at the same time—”

“Sam,” Bucky says, absolutely pained over what he has to say next. “Sam we can’t—they can’t come here.”

“Wh—why?” Sam’s voice drops into something devastated and pleading. “Bucky, look—I know your man is really private and all but come on this is a once in a lifetime chance! A three book deal, Stark-level exposure! Tell me you can’t sell him on opening up the house a little bit, just this once—”

“I—I hear you Sam it’s just—” Bucky glances helplessly around his messy, shoebox apartment. What can he say to get out of this? There’s no way Sam will drop it. The idea of his Darling Husband’s desire for privacy has gotten him pretty far since he started this whole thing, like why he never posts photos and talks about him by name but…he highly doubts it’s going to cut it now. Bucky sighs heavily.

“Are you free right now? To meet?” Bucky asks, resigned.

“Uh—I mean I’m free for a bit but I don’t really have time to get up to Connecticut, I’ve got a dinner—”

“How about Brooklyn?”

There’s a very long, pregnant pause. When Sam replies his tone is dubious. “Yeah. I could do Brooklyn.”

“I’ll shoot you a pin to the place.”

 

Bucky opens the door to Sam with an extremely sheepish expression. Sam’s face, on the other hand, is blank.

It darkens somewhat as he steps into Bucky’s apartment, taking in his shitty second-hand couch, his packed to bursting kitchen (all these fancy recipes have caused him to acquire a lot of random shit, okay?), and finally landing on the corner set-up where Bucky photographs his projects—a rustic looking wooden table top propped on sawhorses with the ferns and gold foil wallpaper tacked up behind it. That wallpaper costs $50 a yard, but Bucky liked imagining being able to paper a whole wall in his dining room with it instead of purchasing one sheet as the backdrop to his photos.

Sam stalks over to the couch, dropping onto it and closing his eyes for a moment. Then he looks back up at Bucky, glaring.

“Ta-da,” Bucky says, feebly.

“I hate you. So much.”

Bucky walks over to drop down beside Sam with a huff. “Yeah. I’m really sorry man—I didn’t really expect anything like this to happen when I started.”

“I—how—wh—” Sam begins several jerky, aborted questions before finally landing on, “what the fuck?”

Bucky rubs his hand over the back of his neck. “Um, so I was working as an assistant in a medical office, right? And I had a lot of time on my hands like, all the time at work just dicking around on the internet. And I kept reading all these dumb lifestyle blogs and I just thought—this is so easy, I could do this and I bet people would eat it up! I could be the gay Connecticut Pioneer Woman! Or whatever. So I just kind of started it as a like, joke?” Sam shoots him another baleful look. “But then people did eat it up and then you got in touch about representing me for sponsorships and it just…snowballed?”

“I—husband?” Sam chokes out, looking close to apoplectic as he takes this information in.

Bucky shakes his head. “Um…fiction.”

Sam groans impressively, leaning forward to bury his face in his hands.

“I’m really sorry, I had no idea it would make its way to like, Stark Media level, that’s crazy!”

“No. No, I refuse.” Sam says, lifting his head and pointing an accusing finger at Bucky.

“Refuse—refuse what?”

“I refuse to refuse this offer! It’s too good Barnes, we cannot let this deal go.”

“Sam,” Bucky says, slowly, like he’s talking a child down from a tantrum, “I know but—this is it man. This is Thatchery&Sprig, it’s me and my laptop. There’s no farmhouse in Connecticut to host anyone even if I wanted to so…I appreciate you getting this deal for me but—it’s not possible.”

“Man screw you! I’m not letting this deal go for me! Do you know what kinda pull I’d have at my firm if I get a client an exclusive like this with Stark?”

“Sorry,” Bucky says again, and this time he really is.

“Shove your sorry. So you’re a big faking faker liar—time to man up and take it to the next level.”

“I—” Bucky starts with a confused frown. “How?”

Sam clasps his hands in front of himself, flexing them against each other in a way that makes Bucky not sure if he’s thinking about the question or just thinking about strangling him. Could be either. Or both.

“Look okay.” Sam says, finally. “It’s less than a week they’d be there. You cook your fancy Christmas stuff—wait, you do actually cook, right?” Bucky nods, and Sam looks relieved by that at least. “Cook your fancy shit, make your centerpieces or holly bramble wine or whatever shit, they snap some photos—and then it’s done, you plead back to that whole ‘my husband loves privacy’ thing and take this amazing new career move you absolutely don’t deserve but I absolutely do and we never speak of it again.”

“You—um, how? Cooking and my holly and witch hazel wreaths are the easy part. Unfortunately I lack the farmhouse and the husband and I feel like that’s reeeeally probably the part that they’re gonna notice is missing so—”

“Airbnb. I’ll find something that matches all your bullshit. Can’t be that hard. And then…” Sam heaves an almighty sigh, like a man headed straight for the firing line. “I will be your Darling Husband. You’ve never named or described him for his privacy” he says the word acidly, “so that at least works in our favor and I won’t have to like, hire an actor or something.”

Bucky can’t help himself, he smirks at Sam with raised eyebrows. “This a proposal, Wilson?”

“Man fuck the fuck off. We’re doing this.”

Bucky pauses, actually considering what it is that Sam’s suggested. It’s not…as crazy as it seems on the surface. Well, three years ago Bucky would have thought it absolutely was. But that was before he accidentally became a famous blogger based on an entirely fictional life and managed to keep it all going out of his shitty Brooklyn bachelor pad. Keep it going so well that Stark Media wants to buy it. So maybe…maybe with a little more investment in the trappings…

“Aren’t you straight?” Bucky asks, of the many questions popping into his mind for some reason that’s the one he vocalizes first.

“Yes. But I’m pretty sure we can sell the weekend without consummating anything and all you’ve said about fucking ‘darling husband’ is that he’s handsome and amazing so I definitely fit that bill. You owe me this, Barnes.” Sam fixes him with a menacing stare, “It’s this or I swear to god I might murder you in this apartment and blame it on the crackhead I saw on the stoop.”

Bucky bites his lip, honestly thinking it over. Then he grins, and reaches out to take one of Sam’s hands in his.

“In that case—my angel, light of my life,” he says in a saccharine voice, “how do you feel about inviting some publishing moguls and a war hero into our love nest for the holidays this year so we can deceive them for money?”

Sam just groans again, sinking back onto Bucky’s couch and kicking at him with one foot to stand so that he can stretch out on it, one hand to his forehead.

“Please tell me you have the ingredients in this apartment for one of your dumb cocktail recipes,” Sam says, eyes closed, “I would like three.”

“You got it, DH.” Bucky moves away to the kitchen, thinking that he actually does have the ingredients for one of the special December bourbon cocktails he’s been meaning to test out. He doesn’t usually get to do his run-throughs with anyone else for feedback. He wonders if Sam likes rosemary.

“And two ibuprofen!” Sam yells after him.

“Yes my dove,” Bucky says, pulling tumblers off his bar cart as he goes. “You want those separate, or ground in?”

“I…I hate you.”