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habitation infiltration

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Bucky wasn’t kidding about Steve’s autograph reflexes being a problem. It turns out he, in a fugue state of bureaucracy, signed his driver’s license as Captain America, so when he buys a house has to sign all the paperwork as such. Big C, big A, big swoosh, everything. According to Bucky, the realtor was cracking up.

When Sam finds out about this, of course, he does the only logical thing. “Oh, hey guys, fancy seeing you here,” he says, strolling through the front door with a duffle bag over his shoulder. “In my house, which I own, because I'm Captain America. I live here, it says so right on the mortgage.”

There’s a silence. Steve and Bucky are both at the kitchen table, now craned towards him. Sam pauses. “...Y’know, the joke loses a little something when both of you look way too excited about it.”

“Stay as long as you like,” Steve says, too quickly.

“We will give you the good towel,” Bucky says.

“That’s sweet, guys, but wait did you say good towel.”

“Yes?”

“As in singular. As in you own one good towel.”

“Sure,” Bucky says, looking puzzled.

“Do we need more?” Steve says.

“Oh, my god,” Sam says.

It takes Sam two months, four Target runs and a gruelling IKEA campaign to realize that his name is on half the utility bills somehow and he has, in fact, moved in. This is an inopportune realization to have when you’re in the middle of installing a very heavy microwave in what you are discovering is, in fact, your kitchen.

Luckily Bucky keeps the mortgage paperwork in a safe that - fuck, Sam knows the combination to. They gave him the combination to the safe that contains all their paperwork. Which, admittedly, is a couple of moldy birth certificates and a bunch of printouts that definitely exist in like four other places and also online, but Sam also knows where they keep their guns and the gummy bears they keep hiding from each other and the stack of fake passports and the even moldier nude drawings Steve did way back in nineteen-thirty-whatever -

Oh hell no.

Sam slaps the mortgage paperwork onto the breakfast table in front of Steve the next morning. “You did this on purpose.”

“Greatest tactical mind,” Bucky says.

“Who wants French Toast?” Steve says brightly.

“Me!” Natasha says.

“Do you live here too?”

“I live in the moment, Sam,” Natasha says, taking a seat. “Specifically the moment where I get French toast.”

Sam looks from Bucky, who is, in fact, stirring a massive bowl of batter, to Steve, whose guilty shoulders are prying frying pans out of the kitchen cupboards. Natasha, wearing what looks like matching green plaid pajamas, has produced both an apple and a knife and started peeling.

Sam sits down heavily at the table. “This ends in us getting a dog.”

“Steve’s allergic,” Bucky says absently.

“Steve? Steve the supersoldier, cyanide gives him an upset tummy, nerve gas gives him a headache Steve?” Sam says, just to get things straight.

Bucky has stopped stirring. He’s now staring at nothing. “We. Could get a dog.”

“Now you’ve done it,” Steve says.

“Seriously?”

“We could get many dogs,” Bucky says quietly, emphatically.

“How has this not come up before?” Sam says incredulously.

“They’re not exactly thinking their way out of Plato’s cave here,” Natasha observes. “It’s mostly old people talk and eating.”

“No landlord,” Bucky says, starting to look delirious. “No allergies. Steve. Dogs.”

“You did this,” Steve says, pointing a finger at Sam.

“Me? How did I do this?”

“Two dogs. No. Twelve.”

“You reminded him!”

“That you’re Captain America? That you are literally superhuman? His memory’s not that shitty -”

“He wasn’t thinking about it!” Steve says defensively. “He doesn’t think of me that way!”

As far as Sam can tell, Bucky’s brain damage largely manifests itself as a sort of really intense absentmindedness. Things Sam has witnessed Bucky doing include placing a handgun in the dishwasher, trying to put on a second pair of pants and cracking an egg into his coffee. He also, when not paying much attention, tends to treat Steve like an elderly Jack Russell terrier. He puts blankets over Steve when it’s cold, keeps force feeding him iron-rich things like spinach and liver, and has a habit of walking three city blocks when he needs to smoke.

Steve, who is not at all a feeble little terrier and is in fact a massive wrecking ball with the constitution of a cockroach, enables this horrifically. Sam has witnessed on several occasions a half asleep Bucky pick up an extremely awake Steve and carry him to the bedroom. “Come on, pal, let me give you a hand,” Bucky had mumbled, to which a perfectly awake Steve said “Okay!”

Personally Sam thinks that should have snapped Bucky out of it, since by all accounts Tiny Terror Steve was kind of a raging asshole, but it’s possible nothing can shake the Barnes foundation when it’s been set. He’s also witnessed Bucky mumble “Have you gained some weight recently?” To which Steve had replied - all three hundred pounds of him in Bucky’s arms - “Nope!”

Now, Steve is saying “We can’t have twelve dogs,” and sounding extremely unconvincing about it.

“We have a yard,” Bucky says. “We have the time. Steve. Dogs.”

“Do I need to worry about this?” Sam says.

“You need to worry about selling your old house,” Natasha says, handing him a chunk of apple.

“Seriously?”

“I can help. I’m a licensed realtor, probably.”

"Two dogs," Steve says.

"Twelve dogs."

"Four dogs."

"Twelve dogs."

"Three dogs, maybe four, and Natasha and I have veto power over any future dogs," someone says, and Sam realizes with a sense of deep resignation that it’s him.

"Three dogs," Steve says, deeply relieved, and Bucky doesn't actually protest, which is as good as an agreement. For now. That can be an argument for another day, which Sam will be involved in, because apparently he lives here now. He's not upset about it, exactly, but it would've been nice to be told.

On the other hand, Sam’s basically never going to make his own breakfast again. Or dinner, or lunch, or midnight snack if he has anything to say about it, and he will, because Steve is going to be paying for his “tactics” for a long, long time.

What the hell. "Someone say something about french toast?" Sam asks, and goes to get himself a plate.