After the mess that was the Sokovia Accords had been handled and the tensions had calmed between everyone, a collective decision had been reached; they needed a fucking break. All of them, every last hero and Stark employee. Even the undercover agents needed it.
They couldn’t all just go on a giant joint holiday, of course. It’d almost seem like a regular workday then. Some time away from your colleagues was always a great idea, especially when they were all superheroes that could kill anyone they were pissed at.
So all the heroes went their own ways. Clint decided to just go back to his farm. Wanda was invited to join him but instead decided to go to Wakanda with Rhodey and T’Challa. Sam also wanted to join them but everyone made him admit that it’d be better for him to lead the replacement team. Vision, Natasha and Scott were recruited to form what Sam liked to call ‘The Cooler Avengers’. Natasha had tried to convince him that the name was too long but gave up after Scott rallied against the change. Vision just asked if he could ‘retire already’.
As for Stark, Pepper convinced him to go on a vacation to Europe and to leave Peter in Happy’s hands.
“If Happy could take care of you while we were on the break, then he can take care of a fifteen-year-old,” Pepper had said, shoving Tony out of his workroom.
No one wanted to remind her that, not two days into their separation, Tony had taken the first steps towards retiring his company, built four new suits and impulse bought the Dunkin’ Brands.
But, with everyone else already on their way to vacation/superhero in their respective countries, it left Steve and Bucky to choose whether they were in for saving the world or relaxing. Needless to say, after the events earlier in the year, it was a quick and unanimous decision.
After getting his new arm, Bucky only wanted to test it out. So Stark had suggested a road trip.
“The world’s changed since you two were first canoodling. Might help everyone around here if you gramps get a bit more used to this bright new world.”
Steve wanted to argue that they were perfectly fine adapting to the future, thank you very much, but Bucky’s excitement at the idea convinced him to make no comment. If pride made his ‘thank you’ sound stiff to Tony, then it wasn’t his fault, honest.
And so, two weeks later, the two supersoldiers were on their way around the country. Neither men wanted to be pressured or ordered around during their well-deserved break and decided to ‘borrow’ one of Stark’s cars. It belonging to Stark, it was of course modified to accommodate two dangerous men if they were in trouble.
An hour into their journey and three chip packets later, Bucky noticed an odd silence in Steve.
After the pair had reunited, Steve almost never shut up, something that seemed to surprise everyone else. To the world, Steve Rogers was basically synonymous with peace and quiet. With Bucky, Captain America took a backseat as Steve became more comparable to an excitable puppy.
Which was why the silence rang so false in the light blue Santa Fe.
Bucky tore his gaze from the window to glance at Steve over the handbrake.
“Steve?” Bucky asked. The blond was flushed, shifting in his seat as his hands trembled on the steering wheel.
“You don’t look great, man,” Bucky said, his concern seeping into his voice.
Steve threw him a half amused look, although the effect was lessened a bit by his feverish face. “You sure know how to woo ‘em, Buck.”
“You’ve been wooed plenty, punk.” Bucky rolled his eyes and reached with his left hand. Gently touching Steve’s cheek, Bucky let out a sharp breath. “Jesus, Steve, I thought you couldn’t get sick?”
“I can’t,” Steve mumbled, shifting away from Bucky’s cool touch.
“Yeah? Well, your body temperature disagrees.”
“High metabolism and what-not, Buck.” Steve threw a smile at Bucky. His expression dropped as his friend’s concern registered in his mind. “Really, Buck. I’m fine.”
Bucky only hummed and went back to looking out the window. Before long, he found himself looking back at Steve.
After a long silence, he spoke quietly.
“Is it your arm and shoulder?” Bucky asked.
Steve sighed before clutching the steering wheel tighter with his left hand.
“Yeah, my right.”
“I think the helicopter? Honestly though, could be some other time. I’ve never been the most careful person, you know.”
“Yeah.” Bucky's disapproval was radiating in powerful waves, attacking Steve with unwanted guilt.
“The doctors’ said that it's mostly psychosomatic, though. That probably means the serum's still in top shape.”
Bucky went silent again. Steve hadn’t told him about his pain. Even after close to 80 years of being so close together, Steve still didn’t want to show his pain. The little idiot , Bucky thought, fondly. ‘ Least somethings don’t change.
“Steve,” Bucky said, breaking the silence. When the blond looked at him, inquisitively, Bucky smiled softly. “Pull over. Let me drive for a while.”
“You don’t have to.” Steve’s reddened eyes were basically screaming at Bucky to disagree.
Bucky smiled again. “I want to.”
Steve looked out for any cars nearby. But the road was empty and had been for miles.
He pulled over and Bucky stepped out of the car, moving to the driver’s side. Pulling the door open, he held it open as Steve slipped out the car and stretched, bones creaking in protest.
“Guess I’m getting old, huh?” Steve teased, moving a hand through his hair.
Bucky snorted. “I’ll start believing it when I see it, kid.”
Bucky slipped into the driver’s seat and waited for Steve to reenter the car. When they were both seated and buckled, Bucky started back on the road.
When a quiet fell over the car again, Bucky threw a glance at Steve. The blond was nodding off, looking much more peaceful than he had while driving.
Turning back to the road with a smile, Bucky drove on.