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To be fair, Bucky could have handled the situation differently. Maybe introduced himself as the new-comer and attempt to develop a civil, neighbourly relationship. He hadn’t too long finished his European tour and was looking for a new place to call home. He worked as a professional ballerina, as well as, a trapeze artist on the side, the earnings were enough, the job was flexible enough, plus, it got him a trip to Europe with the Valkyries for six months.

One of his old college friends, Natasha Romanov worked as a landlady at one of Tony Stark’s apartment complexes in Brooklyn and mentioned that one of her tenants was recently evicted so there was a space available. She was adamant that he filled that space. It was a cozy two-bedroom apartment, the rent was decent, and it covered all the utilities, plus the entire complex had free Wi-Fi. The building had nine floors in total, a working elevator and a fire escape. It was under Stark Industries, so everything was high-tech. How Nat managed to snag that place was beyond him, “it’s supposed to be one of Stark’s community projects or something. He’s trying to venture into new territory. Expand. So, he asked me to manage it.”

Oh right, she did say that.

He couldn’t remember how she knew a man like Tony Stark, he was supposed to though because she mentioned it to him some time back. He wasn’t going to ask again though, that would imply that he didn’t listen the first time, he didn’t want to come across as a bad friend. For sure, it’ll come back up eventually.

None of the neighbours made any attempts to seek him out an introduce themselves or nose around when he made his move, to which he was thankful for, although he suspected that Landlady Romanov had some part to play in that. The neighbours had seemed pleasant enough though. In his first week he was greeted by some of them passing through the halls, exchanged names, apartment numbers and welcomed him but hadn’t stuck around much to make any extra small talk.

The place was perfect.

Almost perfect.

On his ninth night, around 2am, his beauty sleep was disrupted by a cat. A cat, yowling to high heaven somewhere as if it was the only resident in the building. Not even the pleasant meows, but the ‘fight me’ noises mixed with some ‘pay attention to me’ howls.

Christ.

About an hour into it, Bucky plastered his ear to each wall in efforts to detect the cat’s exact location and probably to kill it, a part of him thought but he dismissed that immediately. The cat wasn’t from either of his next-door neighbours, so he stepped out into the hallway.

Nothing.

Then back inside and stop at the island table in the kitchen. That damned cat was directly above him in 504.

Disgruntled as fuck, he marched into the elevator, trying his best to ignore the Lo-fi music being projected from the speakers. He had no desire to calm and be lulled back to sleep, he needed to stay alert, focused and fucking mad! Alas, the cat could be heard through the door of 504, Bucky vaguely realized that he was the only one out in the hallway too.

Was no one else hearing this?

He could have just left it alone; maybe bang on the door and hopefully wake up the owner and get them to control their cat, maybe scare that little shit a bit. If I’m lucky it might get a heart attack with a solid boom. He didn’t hate cats or anything, he just really loved his beauty sleep. And when sleep-deprived, the brunette makes hasty decisions without seeking reasonable alternatives. Hasty decisions like slipping a note under 504’s door:

I’ll eat your fucking cat.

- 404

At the time, those five words were supposed to be translated as: ‘your cat is too loud, it’s the middle of the night and I have a show that I have to rehearse for in the morning. Can you kindly calm down your feline companion?’

But fuck a translator, right?

Obviously, 504 didn’t bother getting one because after rehearsals Bucky saw this kind little note waiting for him on his welcome mat:

Welcome to Stark Suites, 404.

Kindly fuck off.

- 504

That was three months ago.

Since then, him and 504 have been maintaining steady correspondence through a game Natasha dubbed: ‘Who’s Pettier?’

And 504 was winning by a landslide.

Hence why Bucky was currently seated in Landlady Romanov’s “office” drowning in a bad behaviour lecture, “Barnes, as your landlady I am obligated to address and hopefully resolve any issues taking place on this property,” the fucker told on him, “luckily for you, this is just a reminder.”

It escaped him why she insisted on a ‘professional’ setting, he’s been complaining about 504 for weeks, as friend-to-friend rants though. It always amazed him how she never got annoyed with him. She was always amused by the whole ordeal, always with that smirk on her face that said, ‘I know something you don’t.’ His other friend, Sam, does the same when he bitches to him at their lunch dates. Him and Nat probably talk shit about him together behind his back. She picked up a familiar sheet of paper that Barnes recognized as his most recent correspondence with 504.

Hey cunt dumpling, if your demon pussy leaves another rat on my fire escape, I’ll boil her.

- 404

He wasn’t going to, but dominance needed to be asserted.

Two days ago, 504 had stolen his laundry from the laundry room and sent it to Mantis from 506 in a basket for safekeeping. Mantis claimed that he had left his laundry unattended, 504 saw it on his way out to work and was trying to be a good neighbour. 504 also advised her not to bother Bucky about it since he’s a very busy man. Bucky hadn’t bothered to tell her that all of this happened because he went to the bathroom then got caught up on the phone. He also didn’t bother to tell her that 504 was the antichrist and had it out for him, mainly because everyone painted 504 as this angel-hero-person and Mantis is a sweet bean so he refused to take responsibility for her disappointment. Nebula might kill him.

Also, it took him four hours to crack the case of his clothes, he really wasn’t in the mood.

You shouldn’t leave your things unattended.

Lord knows who might shit on them.

- 504

“James, 504 has asked me to remind you of two important things. One, he was here first and two, Gamora is a very respected member of this community and shall be treated as such. No attacks on her will be tolerated, she’s done a lot for us.”

“Who is Gamora?”

“504’s cat. He would also like me to inform you that, and I quote, ‘my Gamora is an angel. Leaving dead rats on your fire escape is beneath her.’

“What kinda name is Gamora?”

“What kind of name is Star-Lord?”

Now Star-Lord, that ginger feline was a great guy. As if to prove some point, the demon-witch hopped on Romanov’s desk for attention. How did she get in here?

“You really should give her a chance, James,” the redhead continued, all focus now on grooming the black cat in question, her purrs filled the room, “she’s a little sweetheart and she keeps Lady Rubanna company when you’re not around.”

Low blow Natasha.

Rubanna Quormo was spunky centenarian who lived in 809. Her husband had died 10 years ago, she had no other family and Bucky believed her to be an alien; he also believed that she was spy in her early days, with the way she and Natasha got along, shooting back and forth in Russian whenever they had secrets at share. Ruby was his favourite neighbour and she knew. She was always encouraging him to get back on the dating scene; to which he’d reply, “you know you’re the only gal for me, Ruby.”

“Of course, I am,” she would say, “but I can’t provide you authentic dick, babe.”

He would then laugh and make some offhanded comment about her old, plastic, electric kettle in a poor attempt to change the subject. That thing really needed fixing.

She believed that her days were numbered, “I can feel it in my bones,” she would say. She was already a hundred and four years old and once told Bucky how happy she was that she got to meet a beautiful soul like him before she died, but she worries he might be lonely, “at least have sex with someone before I pass away,” she once quipped. He did admit to her once that it got lonely sometimes, but he kept busy.

“If she’s a friend of Ruby, then I guess I’ll give her a chance,” after I make her shit green, “but if I catch her peeing on my fire escape again, I’ll shit on 504's.”

He wasn't going to but, you know, dominance.

“As a friend, that seems fair,” of course there’s a ‘but,’ always a ‘but,’ “but as your landlady, that would be your first strike. It really isn’t something I’d want to have to mention to Stark in the bi-annual review.”

He kind of warms up to Gamora over the next month. He wasn’t telling that to 504 though, especially after what Bucky did to her.

Consider that a warning.

- 404

Surprisingly, 504 didn’t report him to Landlady Romanov, he went to the higher power, Ruby. The earful he received was ridiculous. He still couldn’t believe she said, “504 is such a sweet boy, it’s unfair to him that you target Gamora like that.”

Knowing who she was dealing with, she never demanded an apology. She was just worried for poor Gamora since she was put in the middle of human business – which she started, by the way! And Rubes understood that 504 wasn’t innocent either.

Bucky preferred Star-Lord though, Wade Wilson from 405's cat. Wade was a Canadian war veteran with a fucked-up face but an A+ personality, incredibly cool guy with an incredibly cool cat. Natasha seemed to have a grudge against him because he was immune to her ‘Landlady Powers’ and he’s a proper trouble maker when bored. Something about Wade being a friend of Starks’s adopted son, Peter Parker and saving his life. The kid begged his dad to let Wade stay there then gave him Star-Lord as a housewarming gift. The veteran paid rent at least, more out of common courtesy than necessity. He also believed that Wade might be a hitman for hire. He just like Ruby, believed that Barnes was overdue some dick. Authentic dick, no dildos allowed.

 

*

The ‘Save Bucky From Loneliness Fan club’ was spear-headed by Sam Wilson (no relation to Wade Wilson), has been for five years.

“You know, no one gives a fuck about your arm if that’s what you’re worried about. It’s cool as hell man, plus I see tons of people with bionic limbs now,” that's not a good thing, “obviously that's not a good thing, but that's life, right?”

It was their bi-weekly lunch date and Bucky had just gotten done bitching about 504 again. His upstairs neighbor kept him up all night blaring classical music through Bucky’s ceiling. Barnes conveniently left out that after he stopped raging, the music had eventually soothed him into what was arguably the most restful sleep he had had in a while.

Since Sam was patient with him, he felt obliged to listen to his dating sales pitch once again, “and I feel like you’re afraid to put yourself back out there… after Rumlow and all,” before Bucky could even bother to pretend to be offended, Sam was quick to add, “and maybe it’ll help with your neighbour issue – I mean, you threatened to eat someone's cat. Clearly, even with the ballet and the Valkyries you still have a lot of time and stress on your hands, redirect it to romance.”

He probably should but the whole thing just felt tedious to him, “too much stress.”

Sam let out a sigh and muttered something along the lines of killing Brock the next time he saw him. Brock wasn’t the best, but they had history and Bucky thought he was it for him. But things got bad after he lost his arm and Rumlow made a choice. He ‘didn’t want a cripple' – his words. Even with the new arm Bucky wasn't good anymore.

Six years ago, Bucky had volunteer at Stark Relief Foundation after Soccovia suffered a Category-5 hurricane which wiped out half the country. He was there building houses for the citizens. Crazy enough, while on site, Soccovia was rocked by a 7.4 magnitude earthquake which lasted 3 minutes. The house him and the volunteers were working on had started crumbling in on them. They were stuck inside for 4 days as the earth underneath them had also split open. Part of the structure caught Bucky’s left arm, but thanks to the quick thinking of his team members, they managed to get him free and minimize the bleeding. When help finally arrived, the arm was already septic, and a chose had to be made.

At least it wasn’t his dominant arm.

Stark industries fashioned him a bionic arm, a prototype as well as enough compensation money to last him for the next ten years if he tried. Brock wasn’t too fond of the arm though. The breakup came out of nowhere in Bucky’s opinion soon after. And he was already in a vulnerable state, so it took a bigger toll on him than he was willing to admit. Had Rumlow known about the compensation money, he might have held out for another three years, Sam was certain.

“I never told you about eating the cat.”

“Nat told me,” Sam answered almost automatically, “listen, if I can promise you someone who won’t feel tedious, would you at least try?”

“…I guess,” if it’ll get everyone off his back a bit.

“Awesome! I know just the person!” of course, “he works with me at the hospital-"

“Oh jeez, don’t tell me it’s one of your doctor friends…” the last thing he needed was to be diagnosed. Again.

“No, he’s a nurse. His name is Steve Rogers, I've known and worked with him for 3 years and you two have a lot in common,” Bucky vaguely remembers Sam mentioning a Nurse Rogers from time to time, if his memory served him right, Steve Rogers was supposed to be this uber fit runner or something, “you both are stubborn assholes who haven’t been had anyone in like ten years.”

“How long have you been working on him?”

“2 years.”

“Fine.”

 


 

Bucky’s first date with Steve was like an outer body experience.  Not in the ‘I can’t believe I’m having such a good time, this feels too good to be true, it’s like I’m having some sort of spiritual awakening. I have ascended’ but more like, ‘wow, that’s really me out there talking to a guy. A guy. And it doesn’t feel strenuous at all.’

It was super fantastic – his words.

They hadn’t done much; originally, they were to meet for lunch, start off slow, make it cute. Bucky got to the cafe a bit too early because he shits when he’s nervous but can’t go off in civilized public places – like cafes. The idea was that if he’s nervous but out of his element then his bowels would submit. Scott Lang in 305 suggested that one. And it worked. The two slices of strawberry cheesecake and green tea also turned out to be calming agents. Don’t worry, Bucky was a fat-ass, he still had enough room for more when his date arrived.

"Barnes?"

It was too bad that the day he decided to put himself back on the market was the same day that the universe deemed it fit for him to run into Brock Rumlow. First time in half a decade too.

"Brock...how ya been?" It was meant to be rhetorical.

"Been great, been busy, just came back from a business trip oversees, supposed to meet since potential buyers today actually," he smugly informed as if Bucky was supposed to remember what career path he took.

‘Buyers’ probably something in sales ...like guns ... maybe he was a terrorist.

"That’s good to here," it wasn’t. He didn’t want to hear any of it. Why couldn’t Rumlow just pretend not to have seen him and gone about with his Arms Deal instead of trying to show Bucky up while pretending not to stare at his arm.

"So, what’ve you been up to?" He was blatantly staring now, his arm had never been a point of insecurity for Bucky, maybe in his first year, but the way Brock glared at it made him want to cover it up, "still doing humanitarian work under Stark Industries?"

"Yeah, and then some..." he wasn’t about to go into detail about his career ventures. He didn’t care about painting a picture of success to the potential domestic terrorist. He had nothing to prove to him and he just wanted to be left the fuck alone.

"Is it safe you for to be on the field again, you know with the-"

"Yeah, it’s fine," what the fuck was he playing at here? One metal arm doesn’t suddenly make him an invalid!

"And it’s whatever honestly," he threw flippantly, "If anything happens, I either die or get compensated heavily for it again - So win-win I guess." Rumlow’s eyebrows got lost in his hairline with that one, probably wondering how far his previous compensation went, "at least it’s not HYDRA."

If Bucky cared enough, he would have remembered how hard Brock worked to get into the HYDRA company. He then might have tried putting two and two together and conclude that his ex was an Arms Dealer for HYDRA. Or at least in sales. And it would explain why the man looked so offended at his HYDRA remark. Good. Maybe now he’ll go away.

"Sorry, I’m late babe. Gosh, I hope I didn’t have you waiting too long,” that came from neither of them, but a voice closer to the ground. Bucky heard the voice from behind, then the owner snaked their arm around his waist in a half hug.  Almost intimate, almost as If-

"Who’s ya friend?"

"Not my friend," he replied instinctively while trying not to flinch the stranger’s touch. He was obviously trying to help him get out of the situation, "just someone I used to know."

"Well "someone he used to know," he repeated with his free hand outstretched, "I’m Steve, nice to meet you."

The whiplash Bucky got was a given, finally having a good look at him. The man was gorgeous. Was this his Steve? Please let this be his Steve. Of all the Steves in New York this blue eyed, 5-foot doll needed to be the one. Bucky never prayed so hard in public in his life.  He felt so annoyed with himself for holding back on asking Sam what his Steve looked like, he didn’t want to come off as shallow or picky and he hadn’t cared much at the time. He should have fucking asked him!

He hoped his staring didn’t sell them out, hopefully Brock thought he was just entranced by his boyfriend’s beauty because fuck, who wouldn’t mind waking up next to that cutie every day.

"Brock Rumlow, same to you," it didn’t sound like it, "How long’s this been going on. You don’t really seem like Bucky’s ... type."

The wasn’t true, Bucky didn’t have a type. Dick is dick. Once it had an Interesting personality and wasn't toxic, he was down. Theoretically at least. It wasn’t his fault that Brock was his first and only (since high school) then left him in the dust.

Steve’s only reaction was a light squeeze to Bucky’s hip. Not at the insult but at the mention of Bucky’s name.

Maybe it really was his Steve!

Bucky’s brain might have been malfunctioning and trying to repair itself at light speed, his palm might be beginning to sweat, his heart might have been racing, and his bowels were battling his poor brain but damn it, he wasn’t gonna let Steve lone-wolf it on the battlefield. This was a team effort, "Two years."

Maybe Brock thought he was the best dick of Bucky’s life. That he had broken him so badly that he wouldn’t be able to function with anyone else romantically. Then that would explain why he was so taken aback by the idea of Bucky in a relationship at all for so long.

A newcomer like Steve didn’t care though so he took the lie further, "yeah, Bucky was at the hospital getting his arm serviced and I was in the waiting room waiting on a friend. I saw his beefcake sitting there looking like he had just rolled outta bed. I saw my opening and just had to shoot my shot," squeezing Bucky’s hip again, they made eye contact for the first time since Steve came up and shit, Bucky was a goner, "best decision I ever made."

If this wasn’t the Steve that Sam had promised then he was going make him the one, "so how do you know Bucky?"

"I-"

"Oh, don’t you remember doll?" Pulling the blonde in closer - when did my arm even reach around him?

"Me and him were best friends in high school, lovers in college, then he broke my heart after the accident," team effort, bitch.

"Oh," Steve looked so disappointed, "that was him..." disappointed that that was the guy who broke his heart. As if Brock Rumlow wasn’t good enough for Bucky. It was written all over the blonde face, "Oh well, more for me!"

Brock was seething.

Bucky was living.

"Doesn’t it bother you?" Count on Rumlow to redirect the attention to someone else’s flaws when he felt cornered, "his arm?"

The blonde Angel was ready for him, "why would it? It’s a part of him. Just like a scar, it has a story. Whether Bucky chose to wear a bionic arm to go loose doesn’t concern me, it’s his choice and to humiliate someone or scorn them because they don’t look ‘normal’ is plain stupid. It doesn’t get you anywhere, " just when Bucky thought it couldn’t get any better, "plus, his grip is super firm and I like it rough, so soon as that cool metal grabs my throat, I almost blast off immediately. Fuckin’ SPLOOSH!"

That did the trick.

Rumlow fucked off.

If it wasn’t creepy, Bucky would have gotten down on one knee and propose to Steve then and there. Forget Rumlow, Forget Sam’s Steve if this one wasn’t it, he wanted this blonde Angel to be his. And if he was already taken, his partner would have to conveniently disappear. He was positive that Wade knew how to make that shit happen.

When the coast the clear, Steve let go on him (to Buck’s dismay) and began a nervous ramble, "I’m so, so, sorry about that, when I came in, I just saw you looking so uncomfortable that I had to come help, you know? And he seemed like a bully. I don’t like bullies. They suck donkey dicks and deserve a guillotine. Oh jeez, I’m so sorry again, I was all in your personal space, that’s not cool. And I don’t even know how you feel about being touched! I’m so terri-"

"Please tell me that you’re Steve Rogers," he really wanted to comfort him, you know, be the suave guy people sometimes thought he was, but he almost shat himself a while ago and didn’t care for apologies.

"...Yes," Steve slowed down, as if forgetting the initial reason for coming here and that Rumlow name dropped his date’s weird ass name in the middle of him being petty, "What kinda name is Bucky, man?"

Oh, Bucky was gonna marry him.


 

 

Bucky Barnes was never a curious man. In fact, he near prided himself in how spectacular he was at minding his business, especially when meeting new people; never one for conversation. His friends – fine, even some of his neighbours he found himself asking questions, digging a bit deeper or wanting them to elaborate during conversations. But he never cared for strangers it made broadening his social circle a bit difficult, but he never cared. 

He found that he best got to know things about folks in the middle of their rambles. After two weeks of knowing Scott Lang, for example, he knew the guy’s favourite food – Burger King’s Chicken Fries, his favourite colour – red, he has a daughter named Cassie who comes to visit him after school twice a week and stays with him on most weekends and he has a healthy relationship with his ex-wife and her husband. And at no point did Bucky ask him any of these things directly.

Most of his friends that he had never minded that he was more a listener in the beginning. Once they got past the stranger phase you’ll be rewarded with a big talker.

Bucky really liked Steve though, hadn’t felt so attracted to someone in such a long time and he loved hearing his voice, craved it after their first meeting.

After their run-in with Rumlow, they left the café, coffee and pastries forgotten and just walked. Pigged out at the nearest gyro stand and walked some more. Talking was involved, of course with Steve being the main talker and Bucky making witty remarks – Steve wasn’t complaining; there was also laughing. So many giggles. Steve had such a cute laugh and a hideously sweet snort to go with it.

So, he had to make the extra effort so that Steve wouldn’t be too turned off by him too quickly. The plan was simple, If Steve allowed it to go so far, he’d make the extra effort to ask Steve things until they got past that stranger phase, by then Bucky will be comfortable enough in his skin to not hold back and words will flow. In theory at least.

He was conscious of it at first and asked the wrong things, like when Steve mentioned that he had a cat, instead of asking ‘what’s it called?’ he asked, “how old is it?”

He never asked the cat’s name, gender or what looked like, but Steve seemed satisfied with Bucky only knowing he had a three-year-old cat.

It didn’t take long to get pass the stranger phase, Steve was super easy to talk to, their conversations felt effortless. Bucky still found himself not asking the right questions more often than he would like, but he chalked it up to that giddy feeling he felt whenever he was with Steve. And the blonde didn’t seem to mind.

 

They had decided to take things slow, like, real slow. They talked more, mostly over the phone and got to know each other before rushing into things. They were both busy and scared people, so they needed to make sure. The majority of their first month was spent texting each other whenever they could. Friendly banter, some mild flirting, nothing too serious. Both assured that the other was the only one they were interested in. Sometimes, when their hours synced up, they would go on lunch dates. Bucky always looked forward to those.

In the second month, they made more efforts to see each other. Trying to keep it casual and integrating each other in to some part of their almost-daily routine – working out together and meeting up for morning runs.

Not only was Steve an uber fit runner like Sam mentioned, but he was almost an MMA guy as well, “I’m already 5’4” and my job is unpredictable, I gotta be able to defend myself and be able to safely subdue people somehow if it ever comes to that.”

Could he be any more perfect?

They started getting physical in their third month, not sex, not yet, but physical enough. Scott found it strange, “you guys have been together for the better part of three months. How have you not been In each other’s homes yet?”

Said the guy who’s been perusing the FBI agent overseeing his house arrest.

“What are you talkin’ about man, you’re way worse than him.” Wade is a real one, honestly.

“Okay, but at least Woo-bunny has seen my place.”

“You don’t have say in that matter though,” Bucky often wondered if Scott ever called the guy ‘Woo-bunny’ to his face. He probably has, ‘Woo-bunny probably couldn’t stop blushing either.

“See, still worse.”

They were all sunning outside the building in a patch of lawn. They couldn’t go too far because of Scott’s ankle bracelet but this was just as good. The nearest park in town was packed with people, annoying children and unnecessary noises. Wade might snap if he stayed there longer than five minutes. Luckily, Tony Stark designed the apartment complex with a mini park and grass everywhere. If you add some lawn chairs, get some sunglasses, possible cold drinks and calculate the precise shade-to-sun ratio to determine the perfect spot, then it’s practically a party.

“Scotty, don’t tease Bucky about his love life, be thankful that he finally got one, it has helped us out a lot,” Ruby was here too.

She supplied the guys with the cold drinks – passion fruit juice, to be precise with that mouthwatering apple pie she makes whenever she feels like it, which is not often enough, much to everyone's displeasure, ‘art is never rushed, it just comes to you’ was always her excuse. Star-Lord was present as well, spread out of the grass absorbing the sun with the rest of them. Honestly a cool guy.

“And he hasn’t had a proper spat with 504 in days, so I would think Steve is doing wonders to his behaviour.”

Wade smirked a bit, “oh yeah,” he always had that look when 504 was mentioned, they all did, like they knew something about 504 that he didn’t.

Maybe 504 was a mercenary like Wade, he could kill him with a quick move and not break a sweat. It would explain why Thor from 702 was always buffered by his roommate-brother-boyfriend, Loki whenever the topic comes up, like Thor was about to reveal a hot secret and Loki caught him just in time.

How does the roommate-brother-boyfriend thing work anyway?

“Oh, we were both placed in the same foster home when we were very young in Norway. We were always attached at the hip, so our foster parents decided to adopt us. I guess the platonic love gas gradually grew into romantic after we both hit puberty,” oh right, Thor did mention that.

He didn’t trust Loki though, he could never figure the guy out, but he was sure Loki was a witch who would kill him in his sleep if he wanted. But, Thor trusted Loki with his life so, so he guessed the witch wasn’t too bad.

“I still think it’s weird that you fight so badly with someone you’ve never met.”

“And I think it’s weird that you jerk off to your parole officer,” Bucky snapped. Shit, he really needed to stop doing things like that, that kind of mind of malice is reserved exclusively for 504.

Scott wasn’t a dickhead, he was just attracted to awkward but cute Asian FBI agents who obviously had a thing for him too. Scott didn’t deserve back-talk.

“Either way, Steve is a wonderful influence on Bucky,” Ruby interjected before Scott could even think about taking offense to Bucky’s words, “and Jimmy’s influence on you has been spectacular as well, Scott, so you better treat him right when your time is up.”

Scott would treat Jimmy Woo like a king if given the opportunity.

No one was worried.

Good influence or not, Bucky offered to babysit Erik Lehnsherr from 604’s twin demons later that day. Not so much Wanda, Pietro was the one to be wary of at times, he’s way too fast for an eight-year-old, too light on his feet and had a bad habit of disappearing and reappearing at the worst possible time. His best quality was his overprotectiveness over his sister, even though she didn't need it. He was tamable though, nothing hot cocoa and some X-Force couldn't fix. Plus, Bucky would be caught dead before passing up the opportunity to stomp the shit out of 504’s ceiling.

Pietro would gladly assist.

Plus, he got Intel from his inside man Clint Barton (from 303) that today was 504’s off day which made it even sweeter.


 

Wanda was a fucking snitch.

He had sworn Pietro to secrecy and the boy would never dare break something as sacred as a Vibranium Pinky Promise so how the fuck did she find out?

“Vision told me,” Vision, Wanda’s imaginary friend, Bucky was ready to start believing that she was some kind of witch like Loki, that witch was always fond and weirdly protective of her too, or maybe she was just weird. She was weird.

Vision wouldn’t even be an issue of not for the small, unexplainable incidences that happen around her from time to time.

“Vision did it,” was always her excuse, or, “Vision didn’t like that,” something along those lines.

As a precaution though, “I-Is Vison here right now?”

“No, he went outside for some fresh air, but he did tell me to tell you that you shouldn’t do such childish things to 504, he's nice.”

“Well you go tell Vison to mind his business,” Erik chuckled at that one, it was funny how defensive Bucky always got when someone scolded him and complimented the enemy.

“Really James, 504 is a nice guy, you should probably cut him some slack,” ugh, not Erik too.

After Bucky and Pietro got finished stomping and running around the house for a solid thirty minutes, with a brief fifteen-minute intermission then continued for another forty-five, 504 had made a call to Lehnsherr complaining about his children. Well, Bucky imagined it to be complaining, with a lot of yelling, and threatening, and seriously verbally abusing Lehnsherr over the phone like the monster he was.

But according to Erik, 504 just asked about the kids, if they were fine; Erik mentioned they were being babysat and was probably giving the sitter a hard time. He then assured 504 that he will call and find out what was going on. Which he did, and Bucky reassured him that Pietro was an absolute darling and that Loki took Wanda for some Disney time with him and Ruby (and probably do witch/alien shit too).

Erik was satisfied.

Upon arrival on the other hand, Wanda was quick to tell her father about the fun game him and Pietro played. Great, if 504 knew that he was the one babysitting then it’s possible that he saw figured out it that he did it on purpose. Then he’ll report him again.

His first official strike.

“Erik,” please say no, “did you tell 504 that I was the babysitter?”

“Nope.”

“…are you planning to...?”

“Not really.”

“Do…do I owe you anything...?”

“Oh, heavens no.”

Wonderful, “okay great!”

The smirk hadn’t left his face, “I'm not saying to drop it because I see that this is a sensitive subject for you, but just be careful in your battle with 504, it's been six months now, it’s bound to get worse before it gets better.”

What the fuck is this, “why? Is he an assassin or something?” jeez, he’s getting defensive again, “is that why Loki keeps shutting Thor up whenever we talk?”

“… something like that…”

“Fucking knew It!” he muttered to himself before facing Erik again, “I'm not backing down though.” Natasha was powerful enough to stop murder, no question.

“Still, be careful. Just don’t get yourself evicted.”

It was you. I can’t prove it, but I KNOW it was you.

- 504

 

What you talkin’ about, man?

- 404

 


 

 

Four months into Scott Lang’s house arrest, Natasha had appointed him the Building Warden. Leading up to that decision, she had received a string of complaints from some of the tenants expressing their concerns over sharing the same roof with a convicted felon. A convicted felon who spent more time with Wade Wilson than anyone liked. Wade Wilson, the shady character who lived there for free if he changed his mind.

While Romanov wasn’t fond of Wilson, the thought of him influencing Scott into shady activity or crime was ridiculous. Scott cared too much about Cassie to take such risks again and he seemed way too interested in his parole officer to mess that up. Besides, he spent half the time learning magic to impress Agent Woo. The man was harmless.

But to placate the residents and keep Lang busy, she made up a position for him. Things were getting hectic with her anyways, so an extra pair of eyes and ears wouldn’t hurt, and he was glad to take up the position. The job mostly consisted of addressing any complaints and fixing broken shit, the man had a master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering, let him put it to use.

“It’s kinda funny that everyone feared him while he was sitting on his ass all day, but now everyone’s cool with him having access to their homes,” Stark was right, people are stupid.

“What was he even in prison for anyways?” Bucky queried during his orientation of the building when he first moved in.

“Something about transferring stolen funds from HYDRA back into the clients’ bank accounts,” she never quite remembered the story, only how she felt at the time when Clint told her, “real good Samaritan work, but then he got distracted – you see, broke into his boss’s house to do it then started eating his food and tried to steal his car but set it on fire and drove it into a pool instead. He’s kind of stupid. Dumb-smart. We have a lot of those living here. Stark was impressed, though so he helped fight his case and agreed to work under Stark Industries full-time when his house arrest is up,” then became quick friends with Wilson after that.

 

Before Bucky moved in, things were mind-numbingly boring for the Warden, at least where fortnightly reports were concerned. It was just him fixing a bunch of Stark Tech or servicing them while Ruby refused to replace that ancient electrical kettle she probably had since before the war. Next thing he knew, he was shaking hands with this handsome, beefy, Bionic Ballerina, then some days later he starts a war with his upstairs neighbour – 504 of all people.

“I don’t know what kinda savages Ms. Romanov is welcoming into this place but you gotta do somethin’ Scott,” said a worried 504 two days after his first correspondence with the new resident, “what kinda person threatens to eat someone’s cat?!”

Yeah, that’s strange. He knew a man as beautiful as Bucky had to have some flaw, and obviously the arm wasn’t it. Maybe he was like… a domestic animal-eater. Poor 504 though, he’s never seen 504 so worked up about anything.

“I think he’s supposed to be the Landlady’s friend from kindergarten or something, they seem really close when I met ‘im,” Scott was willing to give Bucky the benefit of the doubt.

“Listen, I’m just worried for 'Mora, you know she’s a free spirit and I have to work. I can’t keep her locked up in my room while I'm out, she’ll go crazy. The last thing I was is for some creep to prey upon her while she’s off on one of her adventures,” 504 complained, “what type of father would I be if I let that happen?!”

504 was right, that black had was a free spirit, crazy enough to fall in love with fat-ass Star-Lord, ‘he isn’t fat! Just a little fluffy is all.’ Okay, Wade.

“Alright, alright, calm down,” Scott said, “if it helps, I'll keep an eye on him and make sure he’s harmless. I’ll even ask Wade to help me out.”

That seemed to ease him up a bit, “Thank you. I really don’t wanna get my hands dirty on this.”

“Please don’t.”

Turns out, Bucky was more bark than bite. He became fast friends with him and Wade.

504 got his hands dirty anyways.

And the two fought each other for almost a year without ever seeing each other’s faces.

 

I’ll rip your eyes out and use them as ping pong balls if you ever send those shitheads to my place again.

- 404

Bucky was called, then visited by travelling salesmen, upon recommendation from his lovely neighbour. Apparently, when doing random calls, the salesman had called 504 who then directed them to his neighbor, who always raves about their organization. 504 was kind enough to mention that 404 was extremely shy they would have to coax him a bit. Said coaxing entailed several calls from an unknown number throughout the day and three visits. This really wasn’t how Bucky envisioned spending his weekend.

What you talkin’ ‘bout boy?

- 504

In case you were wondering, 504 got his landline number from the Building Warden, “I thought I was being I good bro, man. I said he wanted to apologize to you.”

Dumb-smart.

“He lives directly above me; don’t you think he could have just knocked in the fucking door to talk?”

“Yeah, but he’s a busy guy...”

“I’m a busy guy too, Scott. Give me his number.”

“What, why?”

“To apologize.”

“...but you just said-”

“I’m a busy guy, too aren't I? And I have just seen the error of my ways, let me call him.”

 

I am going to murder you in your sleep

- 504

Bucky ordered 10 large pizzas and had them delivered to 504. I hadn’t heard the outcome of the altercation but based on their correspondence later that day, he was satisfied.

Bold of you to assume that I ever sleep

- 404

Yes, he knew it was childish of him, but so was sending lingerie salesmen to his door on a Monday. And yes, he did make a purchase.

Fuck off, it made him feel sweet.

 


 

 

“So,” trust the man, Tony Stark himself to know the comings and goings of his apartment complex, “have you told Nurse Rogers about your Thousand Year War with your upstairs neighbour friend?” Bucky supposed it was the man’s job to know. The whole building already did.

“Of course not, I don’t want him to think I’m a fuckin’ creep. And he’s not my friend!”

“You also don’t want poor old Rogers to think he’s dating a child now do you?”

“Fuck off, man.”

Apart from having an annual medical check-up that the brunette usually avoids, he was sure to attend his triannual bionic appointments as he dubbed them. One of the downsides to having a cybernetic implant or being one of the first to receive one was it had to be serviced three times a year to ensure no malfunctions occur and Stark was always checking, making sure that the tech agreed with his body. He always found it strange that Tony Stark personally saw to his check-ups, it crossed his mind that maybe he felt bad about the Soccovia thing, but of course not, millions have been injured or killed in action under Stark Industries – compared to them, who was Bucky?

According to Stark, Barnes was the first human subject to have a Vibranium implanted by Stark Industries instead of Anti-Metal. Therefore, Stark probably saw him as his pet project of sorts.

“You don’t even know who your neighbour is, or what he looks like,” or his name because absolutely refused to give that cretin a name.

Next thing the guy had a cute name or something, then what the fuck was Bucky going to do? Having a name makes him more human, especially an attractive one. Humanizing someone just complicates spite and Barnes wasn’t having that. So, he made sure that no one had ever mention his demon-neighbour by name.

“I figure if I ever see a new face, then that’s probably him,” he replied.

“But it’s been almost a year though, how did you manage that for so long?” Bucky honestly didn’t know.

In fact, a part of him found it puzzling as well. Unfortunately, his spitefulness out weight that heavily.

Steve chose that moment to return from his bathroom break, “manage what?”

“Oh nothing,” Tony quickly switched the subject, “just how you’ve managed to be together for so long and not have sex yet. You two are obviously really in to each other.”

It’s true, otherwise Steve wouldn’t accompany Bucky to get his arm serviced and dub it as a date, Barnes thought, “We’re not in any rush though,” he really did admire how just brushes off shit that would have him flustered and defensive at an almost laughable speed.

“And we’re busy people,” Bucky added, thankful that Tony lied, but now he suspected that Stark and Natasha probably discussed his love life at least once.

Tony replied, “yeah but Steve, you hadn’t had dick in like twenty years though,” voice teasing as if he knew this to be a fact.

Wait, “you two know each other personally?”

“Yeah,” Stark replied, again, a bit too quickly, “Rogers here was the anesthetist for my surgery when I had my arc reactor removed,” he tapped his chest.

Bucky vaguely remembered hearing about the one and only time Stark visited Afghanistan. It happened while he was in college and he remembered there being controversy and a string of court cases and something about an assassination attempts from within his own company. He remembered hearing about the billionaire’s chest being blown up and he somehow managed to survive. If he tried hard enough he would find that memory of their first meeting after Bucky lost his arm, he would see vividly the circular shaped glow emitting from the center of his chest.

That was neither here nor there in this very moment.

“We never dated if that’s what you’re wondering,” the blonde teased but Bucky believed him.

 “So, everything seems to check out, any discomfort or anything like that?” Stark inquired, successfully changing the subject.

“No,” not since the first year, back then, after the pain had subsided, the arm felt uncomfortable and heavy. The heaviness never left, Bucky just got used to it.

“Alright, now, I have a proposition for you…”

 

Bucky’s prosthetic arm was the product of a partnership between Stark Industries and the Wakandan Design Group, the first of its kind. Since then, they have embarked on numerous projects that Bucky could care less about and he was asked to be a part of their latest one.

They were offering him a new, lighter, fully upgraded cybernetic implant. The arm extensions would still be attached to his shoulders, but the prosthetic would be better suited for his body to support it. It would be more flexible and feel closer to his flesh arm than his current one. The major physical difference was that his upgrade was black and gold. Either way, Bucky accepted. He was scheduled to tour the Caribbean with the Valkyries in a few months and this new arm might help him perform better, with practice first that is.

“Okay great” stark exclaimed, “if you like, we can have it sorted out by the end of the week and we have you go through a test run for two weeks to be safe,” great, that should give enough time to figure out if he had to modify his training.

During the two-week trial, the brunette found that Stark’s promises were indeed sound. The upgrade felt a lot closer to the flesh arm than the previous, and he didn’t have to strain as much during his training. He was indeed a satisfied customer. Even better, his triannual check-ups were changed to biannual.

Nine weeks later, Bucky was on tour again, nothing too major, just 50 days.  

He also took it a step further and asked his boyfriend to tag along, “we wouldn’t be able to do stuff every day and I don’t really expect you to watch every show since all are the same, but you get free food and time off. Sorry you have to spend your vacation island hopping so much…”

Bucky still couldn’t believe he was the one who proposed the idea to his boyfriend. Six months into the relationship and he was rambling wreck, still, it was a giant step for them both.

“I don’t care about that, I get to spend more time with you so it’s a bonus for me. Plus, get me for a week after back home, no worries,” bless this blonde angel.

Steve was also lucky enough to take out 60 days' vacation time (30 days unpaid). He wouldn’t be spending the whole tour with Bucky though. After day 30, he was expected to fly out to Washington to visit his old friend, Peggy Carter if Bucky remembered correctly. After which, he’ll be heading back home to get his home and stuff in order, probably see about his cat too.

It was neither here nor there for Bucky, he was just thrilled to able to spend so much time with him, “even weirder that you’re gonna live with him for a whole month but you still don’t know where or how he lives,” Scott again of course.

“Why, you afraid he might be a serial killer?” it was a joke honestly.

“I mean,” but it blew over the ex-convict's head, “he is a nurse, right? Doubles as an anesthetist too? Sounds like he knows many ways to kill you and make it look like natural causes,” that was kind of a valid point, “look, a man’s house is his castle, right?”

“Right.”

“So, judging by his living conditions, you can sort of tell the kind of person they are or pick any kind of vides you missed for so long. Like what if he collects fingers or something.”

Well, if he was a finger-collector, then he’s a finger collector, was Bucky’s first thought, “realistically, worst case scenario is that he’s really messy judging by how busy he usually keeps himself. Or, he can be a super germ freak based on his profession. But at the same time, you can be a dietician creating meal plans for obese folks all day then turn around and pig out at the nearest Burger King as soon as you’re off the clock,” he hoped he got the point across, “so I guess it’s whatever, man.”

 

“Your friend is right you know, about the natural causes thing,” Steve later told him on the plane, as he cuddled into his flesh arm “does it scare you?”

“Of course not,” he replied automatically, “I’ll just have to keep you happy is all,” he hadn’t mentioned Scott’s concern about not knowing where his lover lived.

“Well, you’re doing an A+ job so far.”

Steve had no idea how much it meant to Bucky, to hear him say that. At this point, if he really were a serial killer, Bucky couldn’t think of a more satisfying way to go.

 


 

504 was losing his shit.

It was his first day back to work but he had overslept, he couldn’t find Gamora anywhere and his apartment building was on fucking fire. Everything happened so sudden, one moment he was spinning through his home, getting dressed, packing his things and laying out cat food, then next thing he knew, his door is being busted open with a firefighter rushing him out of the building. How the fuck did he not smell the smoke or hear the alarms? Only when he touched down on the ground floor did he realize that he hadn’t seen his cat for the morning. The fire department was still directing panicked traffic and he was seconds way from charging back into the building. Although, one of the officers did promise to keep an eye out for the feline, it did nothing to sooth the resident.

His home was on fire.

What the fuck.

“Steve?”

Under any other circumstance, 504 would have been thrilled to have heard his boyfriend’s voice calling out to him, but all he saw when he turned was those perfect golden eyes and jet-black fur of his best girl staring back at him, “Gamora!”

He scooped her up in his arms, “oh, my precious girl, I’ve been looking everywhere for you!”

He was so wrapped up in his girl that he had almost forgotten his boyfriend frozen in front of him. How did he know where he lived? They’ve never been to each other’s’ homes or exchanged addresses. Was he just passing by? No, he couldn’t have, Bucky wasn’t the type to mingle in strange crowds, especially during distress; Steve didn’t think that the brunette was one to stalk either, and no stalker is going to come right out and greet their victim, right?

Bucky had Gamora in his arms when he came up to him, he visibly taken aback when Steve rushed to her and his kitty seemed very familiar with him. His expression had morphed from confusion to horror as he watched the blonde interact with the feline, Steve could tell that his brain had short-circuited, but what for?

“This is your cat?”

“Yeah, my baby girl, Gamora, the one I told you about,” Steve had mentioned Gamora a few more times on their dates, never by name because he never saw a reason to, “what are you doing here, do you live nearby?”

“Um…”

Before Bucky could muster up an answer, Land Lady Romanov intercepted him with Wade and Star-Lord in tow, “oh! I see you two have finally met,” now it was Steve’s turn to look confused, Nat and Wade knew about his relationship from the beginning, if anything he should be the one introducing Bucky to his friends and neighbours.

Wade gave Steve a pat on the shoulder, barely holding back a shit-eaten grin, “I sense things are gonna get sad soon, so let’s live in the moment,” turning directly to the blonde, “Steve Rogers, Mr.504, I’d like you to meet your lovely neighbour and arch nemesis, antichrist personified,” then faced Bucky, “James Buchanan Barnes, Mr. 404. Now that you can both put a face to the numbers, names to notes, maybe your grievances can be settled properly in person.”

What the fuck, “Or, maybe you too might find each other attractive and settle your differences, maybe date. The possibilities are endless at this point,” Natasha added.

Lang appeared also, flanked by three FBI agents, his Woo-Sweetheart included. When Bucky’s mind comes back to him, he will remember that the fire department evacuated the tenants beyond the muster point, which was beyond Scott’s boundary and it triggered the ankle on his ankle bracelet.

Agent Woo and his guys practically flew to the apartment complex, “and maybe you guys cannot be weird anymore, now that you know where each other lives. Probably fuck, or hate fuck, I don’t know how y’all are gonna feel now.”

“Lang!” Agent Woo interjected, “you shouldn’t throw around words like that. These two obviously have things to work out. They might be fragile.”

Did Scott gossip to his fucking parole office?

“Anything for you, dear heart,” Agent Woo wisely refrained from responding.

They all then strolled off to their own devices, Natasha to the Fire Chief and who knows where the rest went, leaving him and Steve alone again. If Bucky tried hard enough, he could see all his friendly neighbours glancing at them as they pass by. Even Loki with that smirk he always has plastered on and Thor seemed eager to talk to them but digressed.

They didn’t get much conversation in because Tony Stark arrived soon after and the blaze was finally contained. Bucky was spinning. Too many things were happening at once. He returned to his home to meet it burning down, he just found out his boyfriend was living literally above him this whole time and he still couldn’t find Ruby.

His home was on fire and he couldn’t find Ruby.

“I sense things are gonna get sad soon…”

He couldn’t find Ruby.

 


 

On the morning of the fire, Rubanna Quormo woke up feeling drained yet vaguely content.

Gamora had passed by for her special treats, as usual, and kept her company while her human slept in. While retrieving the cat treats, Ruby had decided that cup of tea was a good idea and turned on her kettle. What she didn’t plan on was for her body to decided that rest was imminent. She sat in her armchair and drifted off while petting Gamora, who was perched on her lap after having her snack.

Water still boiling in the kettle.

She died peacefully in her sleep.

That footage would be viewed by Tony Stark three days later.

Tony Stark routed all his residents to the Stark Tower for the duration of time the complex had to be restored. In those two months he allowed everyone to live their rent free. He received zero complaints from his tenants, even though they were creeped out by the omnipresent AI in their temporary homes, seeing, listening and interacting with them.

Scott and Wade, of course, had no qualms about J.A.R.V.I.S.

“He has the same voice as Vison!” Wanda wasn’t helping at all.

After viewing the footage, Stark had informed everyone on how Lady Rubanna had passed. She had cameras in her apartment installed when she had first moved in and they were sync to the Stark Cloud, ‘just in case.’

After the fire was contained, Tony Stark had his AI do a head count and made calls to whoever was absent from the scene, like Mantis, to ensure their safety. No one had to tell Bucky that Ruby was the only one missing. When he arrived home and saw the smoke, he immediately dashed to the eighth floor to get her but was intercepted by one of the officers, only to find Gamora on his way back out.

He remembered his heart racing, anxiety creeping up on him as he searched every face in the crowd not finding Ruby. He remembered clutching unto Gamora for the first time, and her not fighting him. Then he recognized Steve, his angel that he wanted oh so dearly to introduce Ruby to, but the circumstances never permitted and there was never in a rush. For the first time, he regretted taking things slow with Steve. He remembered his heart stopping the moment he laid eyes on his boyfriend, Ruby escaped his mind in that moment to wonder why Steve stood in front of him in only the lower half of his scrubs was.

When he called out to him, Steve’s eyes spotted the cat in his arms and rushed to her immediately. Then it hit him, Steve was 504. He had to be. He hadn’t known his cat’s name, but he was cuddling this one, near crying, so relieved to have found her.

It would explain all the questions and the looks he sometimes got when the topic of Steve came up. Why Stark was quick to explain how they knew each other, deliberately omitting that the blonde lived in his building; why Scott always talked about how weird he found the relationship or why Wade always had that look on his face as if he knew a hot secret; why Ruby was so pleased with his relationship and gave Steve her blessing even though she hadn’t met it. It would also explain Lehnsherr’s behaviours towards the situation and why Loki had always intercepted Thor in their conversations.

Bucky had never mentioned his first threat to eat 504’s cat but Sam still knew about it.

Did Steve know about this?

He didn’t remember much of what Wade, Natasha or Scott had said when they joined them, but based on Steve’s facial expressions throughout, he believed that his boyfriend was in the same oblivious boat as him. He remembered looking around at the crowd, seeing Tony Stark rush out of his car and the fire being reduced to smoke.

The fire.

Ruby.

He couldn’t find her.

The fired looked as though it was centred from the eighth floor.

Ruby’s floor.

Fuck.

His memory was hazy after that. He hadn’t remembered much but Steve told him that he was hyperventilating when he heard Stark’s AI state the only person unaccounted for was Ruby. That he had started crouching down, holding his head in his hands, body curling in on himself. Soon after, he passed out. He had found himself on a bed at the Stark Tower, with his head resting on his boyfriend’s lap and said boyfriend carding his fingers through brunette’s hair.

 


 

 

The death of a loved one is never easy, and Bucky had taken it the hardest. He tried not to show it, but repressed emotions always had a way of seeping out. He hadn’t cried since the evening he woke up in Steve’s lap and he hadn’t made mention of Ruby since Stark had held the meeting. He hadn’t noticed but he had also distanced himself from his friends and neighbours, filling up most of his time in training or working out for hours at Stark’s gym, in attempts to keep himself as busy as possible.

His behaviour left everyone uneasy. They waited for the explosion, but it never came.

When Natasha or the others were lucky to run into him, which was extremely rare, they would ask how he was doing, his answer was always, “I’m fine.”

He wasn’t.

The only one able to catch more than a glimpse of him was Steve. They shared a room at the tower. After doing that for a month overseas it just felt right, plus, Steve wouldn’t dare leave him alone after witnessing him breakdown the way he did. If Steve had allowed it, the brunette’s behaviour might have put a strain on their relationship. He had no intention of pushing Bucky to explore his feelings, he didn’t see the need, when Bucky was ready he would approach him.

What he did find himself doing frequently though, was addressing Bucky’s wellbeing to the others on his behalf, “he’ll be fine,” they hoped he was right.

“Did you the two of you talk about the neighbour thing?” Sam once caught Steve during his shift.

He hadn’t seen Bucky since the morning of the fire when they had gone for an early morning run, nearly a month ago. Later that night after calming Bucky down, Steve had informed Sam about what had taken place, he then waited a few days before reaching out to Bucky. All his calls went unanswered and his text replies were short and abrupt. He was friends with Bucky long enough to know that he needed his space, he would come around when he was ready. Plus, Steve was with him, the blonde would make sure that his boyfriend didn’t do anything stupid.

“Of course not,” the blonde answered, they were having lunch – well, Sam was, Steve ran away for ten minutes to recharge with granola bar and some coffee.

“Do you ever plan to…?”

“That’s up to Bucky,” he distracted himself texting on his phone.

“How is he, by the way?”

“He’ll be fine,” Sam believed him.

 


 

 

It took four months before they could move back into the apartment complex.

Steve and Bucky had moved back into their respective homes and hadn’t once visited each other. They would still go on dates when they could and texted each other when the time permitted. It was as if their last six months of development hadn’t happened. Steve was unbothered though.

“This ain’t healthy man, he might need an intervention or something,” Wade confessed to Steve one afternoon on his way out to work. Wade, Scott and Star-Lord were outside sunning in the shade again, the third lawn chair reserved for Bucky left vacant.

“You think so?” Steve’s curiosity was genuine.

“Yeah, man, you’re the only person he’s talked to in months!” it really was frustrating watching your friend deteriorate slowly in front of you while you were helpless to fix it.

Steve understood, so he refrained from making a quip about him being jealous, it wasn’t the time for that.

Scott sipped his juice in silence.

“Well,” he still didn’t think it a wise idea to approach Bucky on the subject, but he supposed a gentle nudge could help speed things along.

In his opinion, the usual time allotted for dramatic grief was that time between the death and the funeral. He never understood why but he figured it had something to do with the physical discarding of the body; and since Lady Ruby explicitly wished to not have a funeral…

So, what’re we supposed to do with your body then?

Fuck if I know, it won’t be my problem now will it?

Buck never got that closure.

“I guess you can try to talk to him,” Steve concluded, “he’s supposed to return a little later today, probably already back in the state by now.”

Bucky had spent the week in California with the Valkyries. Steve thought it would do him good, a change in scenery might do him some good.

 


 

 

“ARE YOU FUCKIN KIDDING ME?!!”

Bucky had returned home within the same hour Steve had left. Distractedly, he waved to his friends in the grass and continued up the stairs. They returned the greeting but didn’t pressed further, the ballerina looked exhausted from travel – their intervention could wait another day.

As exhausted as he was Bucky took the stairs.

When he opened his door, he was smacked by a pungent yet familiar odor.

What the fuck?

He rushed in to open his window only to find a note on the window sill.

 

Don’t think that just because you’re my boyfriend I was gonna forget that fuckin’ shit your stupid ass pulled.

- 504

 

A week before him and Steve left for the airport, he had spent the entire day drowning himself with bottles of water and expelling the urine into a jug. He allowed the half-filled jug to marinate on his fire escape for a week, in a corner nearest his window where the sun hit it just right, then waited until the night before his departure, with Loki’s help, pour into 504’s – Steve’s ventilation system. It wasn’t something he was proud of, he felt dirty, as if he had sold his soul to the devil, or the witch more specifically; but sometimes you had to allow necessary evil in order to save the world, right? Also, he had read somewhere that stale urine would stink up the room and linger for a while once sufficiently circulated and airborne. He needed 504 to be properly bothered.  

Disgusting.

He was aware.

But he was on a high, he had gotten a new, fresh as fuck arm and his boyfriend was travelling with him for a month, he felt untouchable. So, it was necessary to send 504 a crisp Fuck You before he left.

Looking back on it, and with the added knowledge that Steve spent most of that time away from home, it probably wasn’t the best idea. The scent wouldn’t be as strong when Steve returned, with the running through the vents and all that, but he probably had his power off as Gamora left in Ruby’s care at the time. Meaning, if Steve was lucky, the scent was probably faint, lingering, but everywhere.

Bucky had forgotten about it, Steve obviously hadn’t, and returned the exact same favour while he was away.

P.S – Happy Anniversary, babe

“You know what this son of a bitch did to me?!” he rushed back outside, dropping his ass unceremoniously unto his reserved lawn chair.

“Who?” Scott questioned, startled by Bucky’s sudden outburst, that Bucky was in front of them speaking sentences.

Wade was stunned.

“Shitty 504!” he huffed, lifting Star-Lord into his lap to pet his stress away.

He could always count on Star-Lord to be there for him, such a great guy.

“…your boyfriend?”

“Yes! That pissy fucker,” then he went on a full rampage, ranting and bitching about his pissy apartment which was fucking gross.

They were both gross, honestly, fucking made for each other. Who in their right minds would do that shit? On their anniversary too? Both Wade and Scott were thinking it but were never dare say it out loud. At least not now. They just needed to hear their Bro complain; in that moment, they couldn’t get enough of his voice.

“Look on the bright side though,” Wade couldn’t help it, “now you have the perfect excuse to live with him while plotting revenge,” because Bucky wasn’t letting it go, ever; he was never one to back down from a fight, especially one that he started.

Bucky leaned back in the chair, “fair point,” he reached over to pour himself some of the remaining juice and took a sip, then said hintingly, “you know, I think Ruby left Nat a copy of that passion fruit and the pie recipe just in case.”

Scott mocked offense, “what? You tryna say my lemonade is shit, Bro?” The gravity of Buck’s comment hadn’t slipped Wade or Scott.

Fucking shit, man.”

Steve was right.

He’ll be fine.