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Bag of Tricks

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From the corner of his eye, Bucky sees you absentmindedly put yet another pen cap into your mouth as you sit in the conference room, intently listening to Steve’s lecture. Your left hand rests on a yellow memo pad, right hand scribbling as Captain America drops words like “cooperation”, “teamwork”, and “fucking cooperation” for good measure.

“Question.” Tony cuts in.

Bucky internally huffs. Here we go.

“Not that this isn’t a rousing sermon, Cap,” Stark tilts his head at Steve’s crossed arms, “But I think the teamwork issue isn’t applicable to everyone- so I’d love to leave and get back to my usual routine of genius-ing.”

“That’s not a question, Stark,” Bucky replies, immediately grumbling when Tony flips him the bird.
With a grand twirling motion of his wrist, Tony takes a deep bow and turns towards the door. Steve is quicker, sidestepping so that his broad body blocks the exit.

“C’mon Rogers, get that Dorito-shaped back of yours out of my way.”
“Tony. This is exactly what I’m talking about. Fucking cooperation.”
“If he’s cussin’, he must he really be upset,” Sam interjects as he takes a large swig from his bottle. The top is one of those “sports caps”, and the sound of Wilson sucking it squeaks its way deep into Bucky’s head. His skin crawls at the screech. Sam smirks proudly.

On your memo pad was a huge cross-hatched cloud that illuminated a surprisingly pleasing block-lettered note: FUCKING COOPERATION. Squiggly rays shot from every corner underneath each team member name. Obviously the ones less inclined to behave on mission were bolder than others. You stick your pen in your mouth as you flip the flimsy page over and regard the men arguing in front of you, fingers drumming on your pad.

“We done here?” You begin to chew on pen and pen cap alike, only intelligible because the corner of your mouth is carefully stretched enough to let words escape.

“No!” Steve calls crossly, swatting away Tony’s mock jabs to his sides, “We are not!”

You tongue the pen cap further into your mouth in annoyance, molars grinding down on the grey plastic. Bucky watches it travel from one side of your cheek to the other as you pull the pen itself out and show Steve your drawing.

“I get the message!” Impatient tapping with the chewed end leaves damp paper on the pad with each pat, pat, pat contact. “Look, FUCKING COOPERATION. Here’s all of us… mm,” you pause to suck on the inside of your cheek as a sharp canine slips and makes a small cut. When you resume talking, Bucky can see the pink tinge smeared across your teeth and on the tip of your tongue. It unsettles him that you are repeatedly so careless. It wasn’t a coincidence that the “Fucking Cooperation” meeting was held with the four of you.

Bucky thinks he’s going to lose it in this damn glass room, surrounded by Tony (a self-important asshole), Wilson (who seems to live to annoy him), and you (an idiot, hand to God). Once you swore that you’d strayed because there was a room full of rodents and that you really had to free them before the building exploded. He didn’t have the heart to tell you that they were likely all rabid and that he was dispatched to pick them off on their way out. Another time you literally walked into a den of feral cats.

You had the worst habit of putting all sorts of devices in your mouth and your outfit was never complete without a cut lip. During an infiltration of a HYDRA base in St. Petersburg, you “found some candy” and Bucky nearly had an aneurism sticking his hand into your mouth and wrestling with you to pull out two goddamn cyanide capsules before you killed yourself.

Bucky feels the vein in his head about to pop as Wilson spews yet another remark, “My question is what am I doing here because Cap- as you know, I live and breathe synergy,”

“Oh shut your shit,” Bucky snaps.

“Barnes, language,” Tony replies without missing a beat.

Wilson carries on, “Look man, just because you and Redwing don’t get along doesn’t mean you have to take it out on me.”

“Hey! You fuckin’ men- I was talking earlier!” You slump down in the chair, throwing your hands in the air, the memo pad flapping about. The pen goes back in your mouth along with the pen cap, which is completely mangled at this point. “I cooperate, okay? I always follow direc--”

“If by following directions you mean wandering into a forest, then yes, you do,” Steve corrects. Everyone in the room snorts in agreeance, which only makes you more indignant.
“What! That only happened like three ti- HEY DON’T INTERRUPT ME!” And you’re up again, hands slamming onto the wooden table, memo pad discarded completely on the floor. Steve is bracing himself for your tirade when suddenly you freeze like a statue. The clatter of the pen draws everyone’s eyes on the table as a sputter comes from your throat.

“What was that?” Tony asks

Your eyes are scanning the room wildly, one hand pounding on the table, the other clutching your neck. Bucky is launching himself across the table before he can realize it as he throws his weight over his palm. He’s behind you in an instant with his flesh fist clenched tight inside of his metal hand, careful to not break all of your ribs as he pulls in and up. All you can hear is the metal plates shifting and clicking along with the ringing in your ears. Your teammates are moving all around in blurs and far-off, muffled shouts.

A sickening hurk follows every pull as your body coils itself around his hands. He does it two more times before the chewed up pen cap launches itself out of your throat and flies across the table. Steve catches it easily before realizing the prize he’s holding onto is completely soaked with saliva and drops it.

Sam throws his bottle, which Tony snatches from the air and unplugs the top. Before you can catch your breath, he’s squirting a stream of Powerade down your throat which immediately burns a trail into your stomach. Once more, you slump around Bucky’s hands and groan deeply as he slides onto the floor on his legs.

“F.. Uh... goddamn... that was..” you force out a single cough and grab onto Bucky’s arms as you try desperately to anchor yourself to reality. The exasperated huff from behind you is one you’ve heard many times during your life, and it surprisingly does help a lot in this moment. If anything could remind you that you were alive and well, it was Bucky’s absolute disappointment in your existence. You take a shuddering breath, “That... was fucking teamwork, gang.”

 

The sigh is replaced by a loud groan as Bucky pushes you off his lap with an unceremonious plop.

Chapter Text

There was always something about women’s hair that caught Bucky’s attention. Perhaps it was the latent memories of his sisters and ma doing their hair every night and fixing it each morning in perfect coiffed rings. There was something about the smell of hairspray and the curling iron, hot and sizzling, they smelled differently in summer and winter, too. Women these days probably didn’t spend as much time on their hair, Bucky thought, but well, maybe they did. The Widow changed her look every few years and The Witch spent quite a while on perfecting those waves. Regardless, he always appreciated when a gal walked by with shiny, long, locks, bouncing against her back.

He often regarded his own hair in the mirror, taking note of its length. He wondered if he should cut it again like in those old pictures of him, but something about the shortness made him feel insecure and too open. He liked to be covered up; it was a reminder of who he really was.

The only time he really thought about cutting it for good was when you’d snatch it by the handfuls during a fight. It started off as a mouthy little spat where you threatened to rip out his hair for looking better than yours, then slowly transformed into actual pulling, then a few weeks later you were bold  enough to use it against him. You’d gotten him pretty good, all five fingers deep, and brought him down by slamming him against the wall. The face bruise was nothing compared to the tender welts on his scalp for the next two days.

He didn’t let himself stoop to your level, but it started becoming a signature move for you- and you were ballsy enough to try two hands. Of course, it left the rest of your body wide open and he easily kneed you the hell out of the way.

Bucky always appreciated eagerness, but sometimes you could be such a... pain.

You yourself had pretty gorgeous hair, Bucky admitted. It was impressive: long, thick, and he couldn’t remember if he’d ever seen you fiddle with it after a shower other than wringing the hell out of it with a rough linen towel. You’d brush it loosely with your fingers and then leave it there. Somehow it dried every time into a beautiful pile of wavy locks that was envied by many female agents. You were smart enough to pull it into a tight bun before a fight, but since there was so much of it, it generally flopped out of the band anyway.

Lately it had grown so long that it was touching your lower back and getting caught in the damndest places, like car windows and doors as well as the constantly shifting plates in Bucky’s metal hand. You had gotten so upset when he snagged a few strands during a routine grapple in the spaces of his knuckles; you’d stormed off the mat and slammed the door on the way out. The mental chart in Bucky’s head where he kept tally of how often you baffled him earned another strike.

Half an hour later as the last shot emptied in his pistol, he pulled his earmuffs off to find you leaning against the door. Bucky thought he was hallucinating as he got closer. Your signature unruly mane had been completely buzzed off and left with a close crop of even dark stubble all around your crown. He couldn’t pinch it between his smallest fingers if he tried.

“Holy shit.”

“Yeah. I know. I got tiny little bits all over me. Let’s go wrestle. I’m so gonna kick your ass.”

“Holy shit.”

You pulled a face somewhere between disgusted and amused.
“My buzzcut getting you randy or what, dude? Jesus.”

You had turned away with a suspicious eye before walking back towards the gym. Bucky easily caught up, lost in thought about how quickly a simple hair cut could change not only an appearance, but someone else’s notions. For example, he had first thought about how much he missed the very specific way your hair shimmered under the fluorescent lights of the hallway, a dull one, but it still did. Or how the curve in your waves would flick against your shoulders when you’d brush them out of the way. Or how lately, the tips of your hair would sway along your lower back, threatening to brush up against your bottom. Your long hair had given you such a strange feminine grace, making all your movements seem like they belonged to some kind of frenetic ballerina.

But suddenly, none of that existed. Bucky watched as you marched through the compound, surprised to see, for the first time, that your gait matched his own. People were swerving to the sides of the halls as you walked past, either balking at your lack of locks or your vicious stomping. When he squared up in the training room, fists raised, he couldn’t help but notice that you had exceptionally thick eyelashes and such sleek and shapely brows. Even the tip of your nose and cheekbones seemed more prominent, and shit, you sported a smattering of barely-there freckles across the side of your left cheek. Bucky thought they looked like the scattering of constellations in a night sky.

He didn’t even see you coming until your weight was already thrown over his chest and he was knocked back onto the mat with you sitting on top of him, knees to the side of his face, right hand on his thick neck.

“You didn’t even try that time, man. Usually you catch me at least half-way.” You gave him a perturbed look, followed by a strange realization, “I’m riding your collarbones, Barnes.”

Bucky shifted underneath you. His mouth hung open ever so slightly as he crunched forward, the movement of his abs threatening to pitch you over until you felt his wide metal hand splayed out on your spine. The flesh hand palmed the side of your head, brushing over until it rested on the back, heel of it on your neck. You were surprised when his fingers continued to massage, and were even more shocked when the rubbing motion started to feel so good that you leaned into his hand every which way.

He couldn’t help but touch your scalp, the bristles of short hair scrubbing against his palm. It felt so silly, but there was something so deeply liberating to see and feel your mane gone. He saw you in a completely different light- more feral and real. The mane had shrouded you in his mind under a notion of femininity, one he attached to his sisters, to all women who sported long hair. It didn’t mean that you were weak, or lesser than him, it was just... something. And seeing you without it was something else.

It stirred him even more so that you had forgone any semblance of style- maybe a fringe, or a bob, a short pixie would have looked nice, he thought. Instead... you just took it all away. A slow strike was being carved on his baffled list once more.

Bucky pulled all the way up, sliding your body down his chest to straddle his waist with your legs.

“Uh,” you intelligently posited, glancing awkwardly at the intimate position, “What is going on?”

“Why’d you shave it all off?”

“What? Dude my buzzcut is making you randy.” You struggled against his metal grasp on your back, trying to free your legs until he placed his warm flesh hand on your thigh, quieting your movements.

“I’m wonderin’,” His voice was so soft you had to lean closer to hear it.

“I dunno,” you shrugged, “Tired of it. Bored of it. Might as well. Kept getting stuck everywhere. It’s just fuckin’ hair. And honestly, it feels great. Badass.”

You swatted a few stray bits that had lingered on your shoulder, turning side-to-side. Bucky watched in awe of your striking portfolio- the gentle slope of your nose, your prominent cupid’s bow, the sharp angle of your jawline from your chin... he always thought your hair was a necessary addition to your essence, but without it, you were breathtaking.

You are obviously a fan.” You laughed sarcastically.

He could only stutter, “Y-yeah, I am.”

You reeled back in response of his admission. Bucky’s eyes kept roaming over your face and it was honestly freaking you out. He looked like he was going to kiss you.

“Christ, Barnes, what in all of hell is--”

His lips descended on yours passionately, the air around you shifting as Bucky sucked in a deep breath through his nose. Alarms were going off in your head as Bucky parted and came back for seconds, both hands now holding tight to your neck and gripping harder on your upper thigh. You pulled away, eyes absurdly wide, trying to understand the situation, “Bucky?”

He stopped, cheeks flushing and eyes suddenly finding the floor interesting. “...’m sorry...”

You shook your head, licking your lips over the ghost of his touch, trying to catch your breath.
“You’re a great kisser, Barnes, but honestly, I really want to wrestle. I think the lack of hair is going to make me fucking slippery. Hella aerodynamic, you know?” You waggled your eyebrows for good measure.

He laughed and cuffed you on the back of the head, spine tingling as your hair sandpapers against the inside of his wrist, “You’re on.”

As he watched you rise, hand swiftly running up the back of your own neck, curious to feel what he felt, Bucky added a new mark to a new list of things you did to him. He mused over the subject matter- hesitant about lingering on it for too long. You were still a pain, after all.

 

 

Chapter Text

You have a special way with words. It’s almost magical, the way you string phrases together so perfectly to describe any situation your brain pleases.

When they escape, it’s almost poetry.

Poetry, if the poet sucked helium from a balloon dog and popped LSD like candy. Poetry, if the poet was an eight-year-old flanked by two empty pints of funfetti ice cream on the cusp of a sugar high. Poetry, if it was the bottom layer of hell and instead of brimstone, sinners were faced with a ball pit full of snakes. Poetry, if the world was pear-shaped and upside down.

No one can ever predict what might come out of your mouth next-- least of all, Bucky Barnes.

When Clint runs face first into the open freezer door because he’s staring too intently at his phone, you snort from the couch. “Dumb, bubblegum.”

When Natasha spins and throws you onto a gym mat with her thighs, you brush yourself off with a chuckle, “Ride my neck like a hobby horse again, ma’am.” 

When Sam goes out on a date and pats himself down to make sure he’s got all his belongings, you offer a piece of advice. “Hey! Wrap up that sausage real good before you stick it in the gumbo pot, Wilson.”

Bucky shuts his eyes at the imagery, his head feels like its retreating into his neck as he shudders all over. “Will you fucking shut up.” He groans.

“What?” You ask, closing the door for Sam who has just finished yelling at you for saying another “weird and unnecessary thing.

He doesn’t have the energy to entertain another conversation where you get the last word again. There isn’t enough bleach or detergent in the world for Bucky to wash all the crude and mystifying things you’ve said from his mind.

Once, you yelled across a firefight and called someone ugly by describing them as drawn by the left hand of God.

What the fuck does that even mean? Bucky thought.

“You spherical dumbass!” You shrieked later when a bullet splits through your bicep.

“What the fuck does that even mean?” He finally voiced, pulling you behind a stack of pallets before you turned into swiss cheese. He ripped a strip of cloth from his pants and tied it so tightly the fabric screeched.

“Spherical!” You grunted, inspecting the knot before snarling, “A dumbass from every angle. I’m gonna tear this guy three brand new puckered assholes and stuff ‘em all with bullets.” Another grunt as you cock the gun in your hand, chuckling lowly, terrifying and livid. “He’s gonna be sooooo stuffed.”

His phone rings and he picks it up to the sound of Steve’s voice slightly annoyed on the other line, “Hey, remind her to finish that report, will ya?”

“Why don’t you tell her?” Bucky asks, glancing side ways at where you tear off a hang nail with your teeth and spit it on the floor. Christ.

“She blocked me. It’s been almost two months.”

“The mission in Seattle?”

You bristle at the mention of Seattle because you had crashed a car there, thanks to Steve. It went sideways across the highway median and wrapped itself around a light pole and by the time you kicked the sunroof open, Bucky was on top of you, holding you back.

“Deaf centennial!” You screamed over the blaring traffic and police sirens. “I told you to back up! Turn the hearing aid on!”

Really, the reason you crashed was because of the gunfire blasting out both front tires. But the guy had barely just gotten away and you needed someone to take it out on. And Steve has been awfully close.

“Tell him!” You grabbed Bucky by the shoulders, “Next time at least buy me dinner before he rides my ass!”

“Fuck that write up.” The phone is out of his hand before he has the chance to get a good grip on it. “I have never crashed a car before you. How dare you.” Then with a rough jab of your pointer finger, you hang up. Bucky watches you fold your arms over your chest, mumbling about how you’d rather be living in Canada if it meant giving Steve any dissatisfaction.

“I’ll do the write up.” Bucky offers, reaching under your elbow to take back his phone.

The way your eyebrows raise in surprise makes him reel back a little. The corner of your mouth tilts up before you press both fists to your cheeks and beam. He squints and steels himself for another thing to pile up and revisits later in his nightmares.

But nothing. You only say thank you and rub a finger in circles on his chin, even poking his dimple with your thumb. “So cute. This little thing.”

Swatting your hand away, Bucky sighs, “You’re half a fruitcake short of Christmas.”

Your head turns ever so slightly to regard him, eyes fluttering back and forth as you try to decode the message. Nothing. The frown you send his way is incredulous, “Come again?” You mutter.

“Nuts.” Bucky confirms. “You’re nuts.”

Your lips part the same time your eyes widen in understanding. He thinks you might retaliate with another one of your cracked out witticisms, but instead you lean forward and place your hand on his shoulder.

Bucky waits patiently, a little scared.

“Barnes.” You sigh, “Marry me. Marry me and have my kids. Let’s populate the Earth with troll children, it’ll be such fantastic chaos.”

He blinks. A smile tugs its way onto his face as he looks down into his lap. Even though you’re certainly on-brand, there’s a slow note in your voice that tells him you could be serious.

“How about dinner first?” He asks.

You grin, “Before you ride my ass to kingdom come?”

Bucky groans and swats your hand away once more. “You ruined it.”

 

Chapter Text

You are surprisingly good with kids.

When you visited the Barton farm for the first time, all of Clint’s kids loved you. After the initial excitement over Captain America, Thor, and Auntie Nat, they always came back to you. You’d be plopped down on the couch, flipping through the channels, and Clint’s daughter would find her way into your lap with a picture book.

To be polite, you had read it to her the first time, accidentally becoming very invested in the Lorax’s plight for environmental justice and the next thing you knew, your voice was loud and booming, rising and falling with the cadence of each line. The boys had shown up, too, clapping and cheering at the end and requested another book.

Clint never let you live down reading his kids four books that evening. And building a blanket fort. And rolling yourself up in the blanket and hobbling after them.

The next time you returned, Lila had moved onto chapter books, and you were happy to help her read those as well. She had a lot of questions about volcanoes and dinosaurs, and you would answer them to the best of your ability. She knew quite a lot for a 2nd grader, so you ended up asking her quite a few questions about volcanoes and dinosaurs as well (who the heck knows how to pronounce Deinonychus anyway?)

At the end of the night, she was curled up in your lap while you braided her hair. You were glad she fell asleep because it was quite honestly a travesty that all 7 braids were different sizes and shapes.

“You ever think about raising your own kid?” Clint asked later that night.
“In this business? Pfft.”

So, you settled on being the Barton’s babysitter when they needed one.
And on one dark October night, you enlist Bucky Barnes’ help.

-

“Can you braid my hair while we watch the movie?” Lila asks as she settles in next to you on the couch. Cooper and Nate are down on their bellies in front, squished pillows underneath them to soften the hardwood flooring.

“Lila,” You sigh, “You don’t remember this, but last time I braided your hair… you looked terrible.”

“It’s okay.” She giggles, “It just feels nice!”

Bucky is on the other side of the couch, gaze attached to the slasher movie you had been told specifically not to put on for the kids. With a slight kick to his knee, you ask him for help with your eyes. Lila doesn’t know, but you can’t braid worth a shit—most of what happened to her hair last time had a lot to do with sheer dumb luck. And it was still a travesty.

She might say that she doesn’t care, but you know any eight-year-old girl cares about what their hair looks like. Even if it’s just a night in with her brothers.

He sends you an annoyed look back, because you dragged him to bumfuck middle of 80 acres of nowhere and he’s watching Planet Terror with a bunch of children. Barton is going to skin his ass when he gets back.

“Bucky, can you braid?” You whisper as Rose McGowan fires her fucking machine gun leg and the ricochet shudders through the T.V.

“Yes.” He replies.

“Help a girl out, man.” You motion to Lila, who has now covered her eyes as red sprays from an enormous wound. Bucky grimaces at the way your fingers have separated three locks. Already it is a tangled mess and you haven’t even started.

“What are you trying to do? Give the kid dreadlocks?” He scowls, slapping your hand away and scooting over so that she’s now mostly in front of him and you are squished and diagonal, pushed away by his shoulder. In mere minutes he makes short work of the herculean task you had tried to take on.

It’s a perfect fishtail braid, and he’s even used strands of her hair to wrap around the elastic neatly. You stare open-mouthed at him as Lila pats the back of her head and happily squeals at what he’s done. Bucky grunts in reply and then sinks back into the sofa, crossing his arms.

“I gotta turn this off. This can’t be good for the kids.”

--

“EARTHQUAKE!” You scream, grabbing the edge of the dinner table and rocking it so hard all the pieces of the board game fall over. Cooper is out of his seat, throwing his hands up in the air as he yells, “CHEATER!” And Nate looks like he’s on the verge of tears.

Lila could care less, still enamored by her beautifully weaved locks.

Bucky puts his face in his hands as you expertly dodge the metal dog and thimble piece Cooper is throwing at you. It’s bad enough that you had been massively in debt to the bank but shaking the board because you were losing is a new level of low. The kids chase you around the house and throw pillows at you when you climb too far out of their reach. Pastel strips of Monopoly money lay scattered all over the house.

Bucky hisses your name as you perch on the hutch in the dining room. “Get down from there! Christ!”

Nate tosses a cushion up that you swat away easily. Cooper throws a cookie that you catch in your mouth. “I’ll die before I come down.” You mutter, “Stupid, capitalist, Monopoly-monocle’d, pocketwatched motherfu—”

A pillow to the face muffles the rest of your complaint and Bucky points at you in a silent scolding. Thank God he has good aim because if the Bartons come home from date night and little Nate was calling someone a motherfucker, Laura would skin his ass.

“You are terrible with children!” He whispers when the kids leave the room to find something else to do.

Slowly, you climb down and pat his shoulder. “My favorite part about kids is the part where I give them back to their parents.” You admit. “I didn’t think they’d take this long.”

From the corner of the dining room, Nate and Cooper rush forward screaming at you. Pillows are raised high above their heads as they leap and pummel you with the fluffy squares. You shriek and fall down and make a huge show about it—something about melting and turning green and flying monkeys. It’s all too much, but the kids love it and tell you it’s what you deserve for being a cheater.

But then Nate and Cooper yelp as you snatch their ankles in your hand and stand tall, holding them upside down. It’s easy to forget that you have super-human strength because you certainly don’t look like it. But it’s on display now as you spin around on your heels and take the boys circling with you.

Nate’s head misses the corner of a wooden chair by centimeters and Bucky thinks he might fucking faint. Lila takes this opportunity to try and jump on your back to save her brothers, but she’s just a fraction too slow and your arm crashes into her instead, sending all three siblings tumbling and you as well.

Bucky sighs severely as he stands over the mess in the kitchen. One adult (tentatively labeled), three children, rubbing their heads and limbs, pouting like babies. There is a swelling mark underneath Nate’s hairline and he rubs it gingerly, whimpering when his fingers touch it.

You run to the refrigerator for an icepack before he can burst into tears.

-

Forgiveness is earned after three hurriedly made root beer floats—extra whipped cream piled so high that it overtakes the entire glass and the kids stick half their noses in it to try and lick some off. You slump heavily in a chair and dig a spoon into your own glass of fizzing cream and soda.

A single cherry is plopped on top of the bubbles. Bucky peers down at you, licking the syrup off his finger with a smirk.

“I guess you’re not so bad with kids.” He says, glancing over at where the three previously dour Bartons sit, now giddy with cheer as they slurp their desserts. Cooper has stuck his finger in his glass, scooping up the last remnants of sweetness before turning over and eyeing Nate’s half-full container.  

You throw the cherry into your mouth and grin, “Yeah. I’m kind of a miracle worker.” And then your tongue pokes around in your mouth and you shut one eye as if in intense contemplation. When you stick your tongue out again, the cherry stem has been tied into a little knot, glistening with spit.

“Woah!” Lila yells, “How’d you do that?”

“I wanna learn!” Cooper rushes forward, peering at the stem between your fingers, and then all three kids are screeching, “me too!” and jumping in circles around the table. Bucky puts both his hands up when you start explaining what to do because he—an actual, reasonable, adult—does not think teaching three kids to tie a cherry stem into a knot is a good idea.

Before he can do much else, the Barton children are shoving each other and arguing. Then they break out into laughter and take off into the living room. All Bucky hears next is screaming and the sound of six feet jumping on every cushion there is. They tumble, wrestle, run, and in general act like little hazards. Nate screeches at the top of his lungs—just because, apparently.

Bucky takes your spoon from your mouth and scoops a big chunk of ice cream for himself, resigned to getting skinned. When Clint and Laura come home and find their kids cracked out on sugar at—he checks the clock—good fuck, half past midnight, they are going to kill the both of you.

The spoon is still in his mouth when he mumbles, “You are terrible with kids.”

--

“Huh.” Clint says when he enters the living room and finds all five of you settled in comfortably with the children sound asleep. Laura’s cheeks are a bit peachier than you remember and there’s a lazy little smile that graces her features as she peers down at her children.

“Sorry—they fell asleep during the movie and I didn’t have the heart to wake ‘em up.” You say with a sheepish grin, tilting your chin up and watching him upside down.

“That’s okay, kid.” Clint grins, hand on his hip. “Jeez, you really wore ‘em out. What’dja do?” He gives Bucky a curious look but doesn’t say much else. The two of you are sharing a blanket in the middle of the floor, heads propped up by one couch cushion. Lila is to your left with her head on your arm, fishtail braid bursting apart, strands of hair flaying about around her head like a halo. Cooper and Nate are on the other side of Bucky, mouths open and snoring softly.

They’re even changed into their pajamas, teeth brushed and everything.

Slowly, Clint picks up Lila and Cooper and Laura does the same to Nate. They go upstairs to put the kids to bed while you and Bucky peel the blanket off, quietly making your exit.

Before you can reach the car, the front door swings shut and Clint is stepping out with his hands tucked in his pockets. “Hey.” He calls, “Thanks for the night. Laura and I haven’t been out alone in months.”

“Don’t mention it.” You beam. Behind you, Bucky scoffs just enough for you to hear.

“You sure you don’t want any kids? You’re damn good with ‘em.”

Bucky snorts louder, kicks the dirt beneath this boot and puts his hand on your shoulder, “Her favorite part is giving ‘em back.” He announces before you clamp your hand over his mouth. His eyes twinkle under the moonlight as Clint waves goodbye and retreats into his home. The screen door clicks quietly, and you watch the yellow glow of each room turn off until the cabin is just an afterimage against the darkness.

“You think brushing twice was good?” You mutter with a sigh as Bucky pulls out of the dirt driveway.

“No, which was why I suggested mouthwash.”

A silence passes before you suck on your teeth and say, “Hey, check it out.”

Peeling your lips back, you show him the cherry stem from earlier in the night, now neatly tied with another knot next to the first one. Bucky scoffs and snatches it from your teeth.

“I swear to all fuck, how you got them fooled is beyond me. Fuckin’ Planet Terror, then shaking the goddamn Monopoly board, and then teaching fuckin’ kids how to tie--” he throws the stem back in your face, “and then ice cream at midnight.”

“Hey! They had fun!” You cry, dodging him.

“They threw up!”

You cackle, because they did all throw up, and it was really funny. Bucky groans and rolls his eyes because you would absolutely be the worst mother. Your kids would grow up in the most chaotic household. But, he thinks, they’d be loved. So maybe you wouldn’t be the worst. You also had them help you clean up the house and were firm with them when they didn’t want to. Bucky feels a smile grow on his face. Maybe you are good with children.

“You’re pretty responsible, Buck. You think you’ll ever have kids?”

It’s a quiet question. Suddenly your demeanor is sullen as you turn to gaze out the window, peering at the full moon and he knows where your mind has wandered to.

Clint has something the rest of you can only dream about. You might crack jokes about being terrible with children, but it’s no secret that domesticity is something you long for. A baked apple pie in the windowsill, running under summer sprinklers, hanging the sheets up to dry, dancing through the living room barefoot, kind of life.

There are mobiles of stars and paper airplanes in your dreams, swaddling cloth with giraffes and moons. Gerber Baby food jars and baby-proofed corners. There are nights when you think about what the gene experiments did to your body and all you can do is stare silently.

The irony of you being so good with children is not lost on him.

A warm hand clamps itself over yours. Bucky links his flesh fingers through your smaller ones, holds onto the wheel with his metal hand.

“Nah.” Bucky says, “My favorite thing to do with kids is give ‘em back.”

A short laugh escapes as you grip his hand tighter, letting the moment pass on by like it always does. Usually you ride the wave on your own, crash on your own, and awaken the next morning in disarray on your own. But this time, his warm hand is holding you steady as the pain crests and ebbs away.

“Hey.” You say, rubbing your thumb over his in a surprising show of affection. Bucky feels his heart pick up a faster beat as you worry your lip with your teeth. Then, because you’re always full of surprises, you stick your tongue out where the cherry stem has collected another knot. “Check it out.”

He laughs, a deep, rumbling, genuinely joyful sound as he squeezes your hand. “You’ll have to teach me that some time.” He says, shaking his head.

Your lashes flutter as you blink slowly in contemplation. Bucky’s heart picks up again when you turn to him and shyly say, “If you pull over, I can teach you right now.”

Chapter Text

Some things just get you riled up.

Stupid things, mostly. Things that bubble out of the incomprehensible blue of your mind. Innocuous things, sometimes things that made most others unwell: Sam picking up the corner of the couch to grab the remote, Maria wiping lipstick off her teeth disdainfully, goddamn Smurfette talking Smurf gibberish to Papa Smurf.

It was always a mixed bag.

So, when the bomb explodes on a regular Wednesday afternoon recon mission in the flat ghost town prairie of Gun Barrel, Texas of all places, a sudden tickle travels up your spine.

Destruction, apparently, is the flavor of the day.

Bomb aside, Texas is the pits when you’re not in a major city. Hours and hours of driving, your thighs chafing in the back of the mini-van, stupid easy-listening crooning because Steve can’t stand any excitement. Grumpy old fuck.

There hadn’t even been any sights to see, other than cows of enormous sizes, dilapidated barns, flat, straight, endless pasture, and—

“Hey!” You had yelled, pointing.

“What?” Two voices replied, whipping around to see what your exclamation was meant for.

Bucky scoffed when he realized your smashed finger against the window had been pointing to the swirls of yellow flaxen threads piled atop each other: hay.

You thought it was hilarious. Steve, spitefully, turned up the warble of ancient, sizzling-static, sometimes accompanied by a shrill voice. Bucky leaned his seat back until it hit your knees.

“Grumpy old fucks.” You muttered, drowned out by terrible noise.

So, again, when the bomb explodes and levels the top floor, you are aching for something good. Rubble crashes from the ceiling, tearing cavernous holes in the current room while an alarm blares, dousing the entire place in abrupt and flashing red. Your blood is rushing, heart beating madly to the rhythm of the siren’s shriek.

Gunfire erupts from the next room where Steve is, but you either must make it to the stairwell and survive, or chance being crushed with him.

Risk, you realize with a ferocious grin, is the flavor of the day.

You barrel through the door, taking it completely off its hinges and sink your knife into the man scrambling to get Cap. It rips him neck to his goddamn tailbone and the eggshell-white notches of his vertebrae slip out to greet you.

“Hell!” Steve screams, “Is that fucking necessary!?”

He pushes you roughly out the collapsing room and nearly throws you down the stairwell. There’s some smart comment or another that gets lobbed at him, but Steve prudently ignores it and your voice ebbs away when you are launched down three flights of stairs. Bucky is stepping fast paced by the thirteenth story.

You gasp for breath and put one hand on his shoulder, “Race ya.”

Steve’s heavy boots land with a thud, breaking up the moment. An enormous piece of drywall crumbles and sprinkles dust and fire from above.

Move!

Your arms break out in goosebumps when Bucky grabs the back of your suit and takes you down.

-

Wednesday night in a shared hotel suite sheds too much light on your problem. An itch that can’t be scratched, sitting on a queen-sized bed while two others smush up on the pull out because of some old-fashioned boy-chivalry.

You take the last shower to relieve the frustration, feeling somewhat sated when you emerge bright pink from scrubbing. The robe is tied loosely, and you slip into the kitchenette to find a snack, tiptoeing through the dark shadows so neither of them will be bothered.

The mini fridge has tiny bottles of vodka and a chocolate bar and they all get tucked under your arm. When you turn around, Bucky is peeking over your shoulder.

“Goddamn, Barnes! I almost shit myself!”

He catches your pilfered treasures deftly in his hand and set them on the counter. The fridge door swings open limply, yellow light reflecting the lines of his face, confused and a little bewildered by the spread of alcohol and candy.

You quirk your head too, because one side of his mane is singed off. “From the fire?” Your wry smile tells him it’s as bad as he thinks it is, and Bucky frowns, running his hand through, clenching his fist around the frayed ends. "Do you want me to trim the rest?"

For the first time that you’ve known him, he looks like a little boy, almost petulantly so and a little flutter in your stomach gives you pause. Lingering behind him, your fingers reach up to grip his hair, catching the uneven strands between them. He still smells like smoke even after his shower. The ashy scent mingles with the hotel complimentaries—dusty cedar and pine notes accompanied by gunpowder. Clean sweat that is just purely boy.

Because Bucky always keeps a knife on him, he wordlessly places one in your open palm and sits down on the floor silently.

“Where’s Cap?” You ask, surprised when your voice comes out unsteady.

The first handful slices through with a whistle and Bucky tenses under your touch. “Went out.” He replies. Another strip comes clean off and you work to even the edges, cutting in delicate motions. “Watch the ears.” Bucky warns as you crawl around him on your knees.

“What? You need ‘em?”

The long side is clipped to match the burned side, and your fingers slowly slide upwards, palm rubbing against his scalp, strands pinched. A few more cuts and then you begin to even out the back, smiling slightly at the softness of his dark locks.

Bucky leans into your hand with a slow hum, and you poke his neck with the handle of the knife to straighten him out—to give him distance from you. Or to give you distance from him.

He grumbles when you fist his hair again, tucking the knife into the front waistband of your underwear and shuffle around to look at the front. With two hands, you pinch the sides and fluff the top, moving tufts left and right to ascertain the correct way to part his hair. They all looked about the same.

“Well, it’s not bad—but I’d certainly get it redone later.”

He’s peering at you with half a frown and a furrowed brow, and you shrug in response, pushing your hand forward one last time nearly out of habit now. When Bucky suddenly sighs with your palm over his head, you come to the third realization:

Bucky, apparently, is the flavor of the day.

The two of you stare at each other in the dim light of the kitchenette floor. It probably wasn’t a good idea to chop off all his hair in the dark, but all of that is out the window now as you blink at him. With his hair away from his cheeks, he looks changed.

Strikingly handsome.

The overhead light starts to flicker, showing you his face in half-second pulses. He blinks once. Twice. His mouth opens ever so gently.

Then the door swings open with a clatter and Steve announces his return with three grease-soaked bags of fast food plopped on the counter. “You two okay? Is that a knife in your—Jesus! Will ya cover up?”

You hadn’t noticed that the front of your robe has fallen open, revealing the sheer bralette and underwear with Bucky’s knife tucked in the front. As Steve sputters and turns around, pulling out his meal, Bucky reaches forward and takes his blade from your hip, bottom lip pinched between his teeth.

His eyes lock on yours as he moves forward onto his knees. You’re trapped in his gaze, unaware of his hands tugging on the front of your robe, pulling it shut. Steve’s body lands heavily onto the couch, and the crashing of its back against the wall rips you from the moment. Your eyes flutter, searching Bucky for answers.

He gives you nothing but a slow sweep of his tongue in the corner of his mouth. His lips purse, breath escaping in a tiny, hot, pant.

Then slowly, he lifts himself up to his feet.

“Hey, Stevie, where’d you park the car?”

Steve perks up from the couch, “Just to the left, why?”

You follow the shape of Bucky’s legs as he steps out of the kitchenette, turning ever so slightly to look down at your crouched form still on the floor. He tucks his knife back into its sheath.

“We’re going out for a bit.”

You nearly plant face-first getting to your feet, toes slipping against the scattered dark strands of Bucky’s hair.

“You got a haircut!?” Steve hollers as Bucky yanks the door open. “Buck?” And then he sees you running after, damp cotton robe flapping against your thigh. “Wha—”

The door slams shut before Steve can get another word out and Bucky is pressing you up against its frame, hands underneath your breasts, holding you up. “We’re not goin’ anywhere,” he whispers before scraping his teeth against your collarbone, “I’m gonna fuck you in the car.”

Holy shit.

Bucky pulls you along by the band of your top, not giving a fuck if your tits fall out in the middle of the parking lot.

Apparently, you think, with a shuddering groan as he looks back mischievously, you are Bucky’s flavor of the day.

 

Chapter Text

Car creaking. Fogged windows. A hand slammed against the glass, sliding down. Steve, poor old Steve, squinting at the windshield as he steps out into the darkness.

There is a clunk and a bang and the left door swings open suddenly, Bucky’s head falling forwards, yours beneath it leaning back, skull nearly slamming into the metal frame. Two sets of shoulders glistening with sweat and mouths open in ringing laughter.

“Fuck me!” You yelp, “You grabbed the handle, dumbass!”
Bucky shushes you with a palm to your mouth. “It’s fine! Get back in here befor—”

Steve sees. Is what he means to say next.

Oh, Steve sees.
“What?” You lift yourself up, licking his throat, crunching forward to push him back in the car. The yellow streetlight falls on your sternum, Bucky’s arm reaches up to shield your bare chest and you swat it away obliviously. “Gimme that mouth!” You demand.

He pushes his entire hand to your face, mouths at Steve to fuck off, you pervert. And Steve mouths back, finger pretending to scrawl into the air: I’m gonna write both you up!

“Barnes! I can’t fucking breathe!”

Bucky tugs you back, lifting his body so you can shimmy underneath until you’ve disappeared from view. His eyes glare at Steve, still standing with his arms crossed, gesturing furiously. Indecency!

Bucky grins, lips parting slowly to silently pronounce each syllable: Grumpy. Old. Fuck.

Chapter Text

Bucky is missing another shirt on Saturday morning. He rifles through his closet, slapping the hangers to the left and down the pole where they clack against each other fearfully. Last week, this happened too. His favorite red Henley with the threadbare hem and black buttons— all day he had searched for it until—

Oh.

With a slightly exasperated groan and a backwards tilt of his head, he closes the closet door. Quietly, he slips out of his room and down the silent hallway until the chatter of voices from the kitchen meets his ears.

Wilson stands at the stovetop, flipping pancakes the size of plates— heavy, thick, wheat ones, overloaded with blueberries. Steve is to his side, pouring milk and stealing fruit when Sam isn’t looking. Natasha is perched on the countertop, sipping black coffee.

And then, his eyes skip over to the dining table where a pair of delicate feet are propped up on the glass, toes tapping off-beat to a tuneless song.

You.

No matter how many times Tony and Steve tell you to stop putting your feet on the table, you still do— almost out of spite and with glee. You match Steve in stubbornness and Sam in annoying-ness. You’re just a step behind Natasha when it comes to acting, too. The combination could be lethal if you weren’t such a lawless brat, squandering your talents on petty revenge.

You’re leaned back in the chair, comic book in hand with a silly lopsided smile and your hair tied in the messiest of buns. Strands loop out from the elastic, flop against your ear pathetically. There is a smudge of toothpaste on the corner of your mouth, and when you lick your dry lips, you lick it away too.

“Hey, when are those pannies ready?” You ask over the line of the glossed book.

“Don’t call them panties! And don’t rush perfection!” Sam hollers back.

“Okay…” You try again, “When are those pancakies ready?”

“Pan-cakes.” Steve sends over his shoulder, “Pancakes. One word, two syllables, no ‘y’ at the end.”

“Uh. It’s I and E, sir.” And when Steve sighs in displeasure, you tug the collar of the shirt over the bridge of your nose and hide your snickering inside. You pop a finger in your mouth and flip the page, leaving a wet round print on the edge. Tony is going to kill you when he finds out that you are desecrating his rare collection with spit.

With a snort and shake of his head, Bucky runs his hand through his bangs and walks up next to the table. “Huh.” He mumbles, finger rubbing the sleeve spilling from your shoulder, threatening to flood all the way down to your elbow. The specked brown fabric, slightly pilled is familiar beneath the pads of his thumb.

The very one he was searching for this morning. That timeworn thing, half falling apart because it’s been so many times washed.

“This looks familiar.”

“This?” You ask, eyes wide, “Is it— is it yours? Aw jeez, Barnes. I found it in the laundry room. It just looked so comfy.” One foot scratches the other and the shirt rides up your legs and folds against your stomach. Your rub the fabric against your collarbone, shifting it side to side, and the middle falls in-between your breasts, outlining the shape of you.

He has to bite down on his cheek to stop his next expression, but hums a noise of surprise anyway, “Wonder how it got in there.”

You shrug and blush, give him a fake demure smile before scooting your chair back and heading over to grab food. He follows lazily behind, watches the hem swing at the top of your thighs, a tiny inch of your athletic shorts peeks out underneath. You’re ridiculous, he thinks.

“Yummy yummy yummy, get into into my tummy.” You pull three pancakes onto your plate and Steve glares at the way you use your fingers even though there is a fork in your other hand.

“Your germs are gonna go into my tummy.”

Shocked, you press three bent fingertips to your sternum, “Captain, sir! It’s called a stomach! Two syllables. No Y!”

Steve follows your hand with a wry smile, then the slightest tilt of his head happens as he narrows his eyes on your chest.

“Captain Rogers, are you checking out my tit-tats?”

With a stutter, Steve flushes and turns around, busies himself with getting his own pancakes. Everyone else follows suit and soon enough the dining table is seated with all five, pouring syrup and cutting fluffy stacks into smaller pieces.

To his right, Bucky watches you roll up a pancake like a log and dunk it into a lake of syrup you’ve squirted on your plate. With your mouth full, you take your fork and steal a triangle from him. Syrup dribbles onto your— his shirt.

“We literally have the same food.” he complains.

“But… yours is better; Wilson put more love into yours. I think he put fingernails in mine.”

Across the table, Natasha smirks, “Arsenic, maybe.”

“Actually,” Sam corrects, “It’s rat poison.”

Behind another log dripping with syrup and melted butter, you grin and waggle your eyebrows at Sam, tongue slipping out beneath the roll to lap the dripping syrup away. Bucky kicks you under the table, a quiet reminder to stop being so obnoxious.

Instead of heeding his advice, you shove the rest of the sticky tube into your mouth and choke a little.

“Jesus Christ.” He mutters, turning away from where you are pounding on the table and coughing. “You dead?”

“Rest in damn pieces.” Sam adds.

Steve continues to stare suspiciously as you press your cheek to the glass surface and catch your breath.

You’re going to drive him crazy, he thinks.

He hides the smile behind a cut of pancake and a swig of coffee. A few more bites and he loads his plate into the dishwasher, returning to his room to take a shower, even thanking Sam for breakfast without an insult. Wilson looks after him curiously but takes the compliment where he can get it.

On his way back to his room, Bucky stops by the familiar door decorated with a single poster you printed off in the lab—a kitschy and poorly edited photograph of Sam with a rainbow-colored clown wig over his head, not even fully covering his hair. Underneath his torso are the words Sam Wilson, Local Dumbass.

You had made it after a mission where Sam’s wing clipped your shoulder and your gun went off into a gas tank, blowing out half the floor. It’s been almost half a year and you still haven’t taken the poster down—vowing not to change it until the year passes. Petty revenge, Bucky scoffs to himself.

Bucky pushes past the door and yanks open your closet, staring at the piles of shirts and shorts, mountains of pants and dresses you’ve never worn. On top of each heap are a million pairs of panties, like you just grab your laundry basket and throw it in. You probably do. The doors are always shut probably because you have the object permanence of an infant and if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind, too.

He laughs when he sees the assorted hangers on the pole, varying sizes and some bent completely out of shape. There are precisely four, neatly aligned next to each other, out of place with the rest of the disordered space.

His hand reaches up to tug on the familiar red Henley he found last week over your torso as you sat watching a movie with Natasha. You had tied an elastic band to the bottom of it, the tiniest sliver of your hip showing beneath.

Next to the red is a gray long-sleeve. Next to that is a cream-colored shirt he hardly wears but you mentioned one night that you liked seeing him in lighter colors. Ironic that you’d steal it from him, then.

At the end of the row, folded neatly over the bar of a plastic green hanger, is a single pair of his black boxers and he nearly hisses when he yanks it off in mortification.

“What?” Your voice calls from the doorway, “They’re clean.”

“Jesus! Why do you have these?”

A wide grin stretches over your mouth, “I wear ‘em to sleep sometimes. Mostly when you’re not here.”

“Darlin’, you got your own clothes.” Bucky smiles, wishing he could genuinely find your antics annoying and not so damn cute. Walking forward, his fingers reach under your shirt where the smooth plane of your stomach starts, other hand moving over your head to push the door close. “It’s hard to keep a secret when you’re so obvious about it.”

You whine, bratty again, and he shuts up the noise with a press of his mouth over yours, “It was only fun for like, two months.” You mutter into his mouth, “But really, Buck. Everyone here is so oblivious that we could probably fuck on the conference table and they wouldn’t notice.”

A strangled breath falls out of his mouth, “We- we haven’t—f—” He can’t even bring himself to say it, because unfortunately, he is so stupidly shy when it comes to you. “D-don’t say f...” His face burns red and he attempts to look at anything else but your devious smile as you tap a finger over the band of his sweatpants.

“Fuck?” You laugh, “Fucky-fuck-fuck, Bucky-Buck-Buck.”

Then, quick as a whip, you leap up and lock your ankles around his waist, knees splayed out to his sides. Automatically, his hands catch underneath your bottom. Three months of secretly dating and all he’s done is kiss you senseless in utility closets. And now you’re saying… Jesus.

You’re going to kill him, he thinks.

Leaning back, you almost pitch out of his hold but then you stop yourself and slowly shrug the shirt—his shirt from your torso. “You wanna, right? Three months, Bucko. You’re playing a slow burn game that I am not good at.” You grin and drop the shirt onto the floor, the sight of your bare skin turning his entire body hot. “Bucky…!” You whine loudly, bouncing in his arms, “Come on!”

He groans at the way you shift against his groin and thinks fuck it. If you kill him, it’ll be a good thing. Rest in damn good pieces. Bucky sighs and tilts forward, pressing his nose to your neck, inhaling the scent of maple syrup. “Baby, you’re so—”

The door slams open and you yelp, falling out of Bucky’s hands and onto the floor on your back. “What the fuck!”

Steve is pointing, wide triumphant grin across his face, “I knew it! I knew that shirt looked familiar!” Bucky pitches forward, covers your bare chest with his body and nearly crushes you underneath.

“You fucking perv, Steve! Stop trying to look at my tit-tats!”

“I didn’t mean to!” Steve cries, turning around. Bucky kicks the door shut with his foot as you continue to curse out Steve on the other side of the door. With an amused sigh at the way your nose scrunches up as you hurl insults, he presses his nose to your collarbone again, licks away the stain of syrup you’d dropped earlier on yourself.

--

He wakes up in your empty bed around noon, groggy and a little confused as to why you’re suddenly gone. Disappointment and fear sparks in his chest at the thought of his lonely state. Was it bad? Maybe this is how you’re breaking up with him. Fuck—was it that bad?

Bucky slowly gets up, slips on his sweatpants from the earlier morning and scoops his shirts into his arms, mind set on clearing out his belongings from your room if the relationship is truly over, not even bothering to put a shirt on.

The hallway isn’t empty this time—down the walkway you are crouched with something in your hand in front of Natasha’s room, but you pay him no mind. Bucky tucks his clothing under his arm, turning around to close your door before his eyes catch sight of what’s been newly taped to it.

An enormous poster decorates the plain paint. Steve’s face is blown up and touches each corner. Over his eyes you’ve photoshopped two enormous breasts and under his chin are the words: Steve Rogers, Local Pervert.

Bucky sputters before a loud howling laughter tears itself from his throat as he pitches over to hold himself up on the door frame. It’s obscene—the petty revenge, it’s your worst one yet. He’s really going to fall in love with you, he thinks.

Down the hallway, you look over and grin at him, taping yet another poster to someone else’s door. Over your torso, again, as always, is his shirt.

Chapter Text

It’s never the revealing outfits that catches Bucky’s attention.

The shredded tank top exposing a lacy bra— an exciting blend of sexy and sweet, or the skintight white dress from last Saturday’s outing that hugged so snugly he could see the cleft of your ass. He doesn’t bat an eye.

Silk robes and nothing else to mission debriefs. Boy shorts and a frayed crop-top emblazoned with a summer camp logo. Nothing. Once you answered your door in fishnet tights and a tank top, half pulling on shorts, and because Bucky was so used to it, he threw the book you asked to borrow onto your bed and left as if he never saw you.

Your clothing collection leaves very little to the imagination because frankly, you leave very little to the imagination. Bucky knows more about you than he knows about Steve and it would only make him uncomfortable if he didn’t know you for so long.

There is no filter between your brain and your mouth, and you have absolutely zero sense of propriety.

Between burping in the middle of dinner, clipping your nails and scattering them on the floor of Sam’s room when he irritates you, complaining openly about pissing out of your ass after eating an entire box of Triscuits, your prancing around in nothing but socks and a t-shirt doesn’t even register in his mind as inappropriate. All of that sounds like a Tuesday night when you’re applying a mud-mask and wrestling to get him to try it, too.

It’s the dress you wear to Clint and Laura’s 10-year anniversary that kills him.

A lemon-yellow and soft fabric with loose capped sleeves, flowing down to your shins and cinched neatly at your waist with a thin bow. The sheer material gives him a clear view of your legs inside when you dart through the beams of the afternoon sun.

It makes you look otherworldly and gorgeous. Delicate like you never are, and to his utter shock, it stirs him wild.

He finds himself situated between Steve and Sam and staring at the back of your head during the vow exchange. Your hair is still wet because you had overslept and sprinted down the road to get here on time. Luckily, the Barton’s had extra accommodations just a few miles away—Clint’s newfound hobby as a retired Avenger and rural dad. Unluckily, your heel broke off and you ran barefoot, dragging blood over the lush grass.

Water droplets collect on the nape of your neck and roll down into the fabric, soaking the back until it turns orange. He pinches himself because no way. No way is he thinking about dragging you behind the barn in the middle of a vow renewal ceremony and—

“Earth to Bonky!” Your fingers snap in his face. Three of your nails are chipped, and you shove your pointer back into your mouth, teeth nipping against it to tear it free. “Let’s get fucked up on some bubbly.”

He feels lightheaded because the cocktail hour has begun and that he didn’t even notice.

You grab him by the waist and lurch forward, throwing your broken shoes under the chair and pretending like they don’t exist.  

Picnic tables are set for the guests, thin off-white linen tablecloths adorned with the exact kind of decorations perfect for a ceremony in the back of the Barton’s farmhouse. Eucalyptus dollars and dusty green lamb’s ears burst from the entwined centerpiece running through the middle of each tabletop. Creamy garden roses are placed sporadically along the length of the vine, split open peaches and blackberries lie waiting to be tasted on polished ceramic plates.

It’s beautiful.

Bucky couldn’t care less.

Your teeth sink into a ripe yellow peach matching that damn dress and its juice spurts from your mouth and down your chest in sticky trails. Bucky chokes on his champagne and spits back into the flute and both of you look like complete idiots who either need bibs or need to be quarantined away from the real adults.

“What is going on with you two?” Sam mutters behind a stiff jaw as his eyes roll from left to right, “Y’all embarrassing me in front of the ladies.” Bucky puts a hand up in apology and steers you away from Laura’s shocked sisters and over to the rolled-up cutlery where he slaps a cloth napkin over your sternum.

“I was saving it for later; I can get a little slurp-slurp if I bend down far enough.”

“Will you shut—please, it’s distracting.”

A furrow of your eyebrows shushes him as you slowly dab at the liquid on your chest. In your other hand, you hold onto the half-eaten peach suspiciously. Bucky tenses when you look him up and down, taking in his stiff posture and the way he is fisting the crystal glass in his hand. “You… okay?”

“Fine. They’re just… gross.” He grunts.

You quirk your head even further and narrow your eyes at the way he stands, weight pressed on one leg, arms crossed suddenly as if he’s protecting himself.

Bucky grumbles incoherently, stares off into the distance and finds interest in hay bales and chickens. He unbuttons the front of his blazer and straightens his spine, anything to stand a little taller and ground himself. His hands begin to fiddle by his sides, and he fixes his tie in a moment of unease.

The grass shuffles beneath your feet as you step in front of him, blocking the perfect view he had of a yard he longed to throw himself across. You hold the peach out in front of his face with an amused grin.

The glint in your eye tells him the kind of trouble he’s in. “This? Oh, Bucky, this isn’t gross… It’s actually delicious—” Your bottom lip is rolled between your teeth as you gasp and moan.

He glares straight through your face and into The Abyss. You are milking it.

“—Mmm.. oh god! Juicy.” A squelch breaks the silence as your mouth sucks the nectar onto your tongue, “Sweet. Tangy. Wet, and so  soft…” Your tongue lewdly traces the corner of your mouth and up over the top of your lip. Maddeningly slow. “It’s kind of like eating…”

You place the fruit under your nose and plunge the tip of your tongue inside, flicking a few times at the edge of where the soft yellow flesh meets the thin layer of fuzzy orange-pink skin. “Kind of like eating pus—”

A hand spikes the peach out of your face and clear across the yard. When the two of you are finished following its trajectory as it pathetically rolls to a stop so far away it’s nearly gone, your heads turn back to see Steve hovering with a glower.

“Not. Okay.” He grits out, “Family event!” Steve yanks his thumb back to the tables where no one else seems to think anything of your absence, but granted, not everyone has super hearing. “Don’t make me come back here.”

Steve struts off with a final huff, giving Bucky a disappointed sigh—or perhaps a sympathetic one. Your smirk is barely hidden by the back of your hand as you watch Steve clomp away and then you erupt into laughter so hard you have to hold onto Bucky to keep yourself upright. Your wrist is splayed over his shoulder, forehead pressed to your own arm as you giggle.

Rising from your chest and mouth is the smell of ripe peach flesh, enclosing his senses completely. It is summery like the sun and the yellow of your dress. Ripe and sweet and tangy, just like you had said. Bucky licks his lips and groans when your breath blows over his neck.

“You think he–?” You ask quietly, turning so that the tip of your nose barely brushes against him.

Bucky shrugs. “Not like this is out of the ordinary for you.”

Another gust of air rushes down his back when you exhale, “True. Meet me behind the barn, Barnes?”

And then you’re off, extremely proud of yourself, bare feet sneaking away as quickly as possible so no one will notice your absence from the mingling. Bucky watches you disappear behind a row of trees and around the corner and shudders in excitement.

The two of you have been fooling around sporadically for the past month, but as you promised– and he delivered– nothing has changed. He still yells at you for oversharing, and you still clobber him with a box of Triscuits and a jar full of something for his face once a week. The only difference is that now sometimes he shows up half-dressed, too.

Bucky grins to himself as he takes a step after you. Then he pauses and heads the other way.

 

Five minutes later, he turns the corner and finds the dress that started it all hiked up over your hips and you erupt into laughter again at the sight of two peaches in his hand.

Chapter Text

His brain is mush from last night’s celebration. Bucky crawls out of bed at a snail’s pace on his belly like a snake and he swears if anyone came into his room, he wouldn’t even give a shit. Asgardian mead. Who the hell just has that kind of thing on hand?

He grunts all the way to the shower, steps clunking heavily like anchors tossed into the ocean.

The warm spray relieves a bit of the pain and slowly, he peels it back and returns to life, walking now, not crawling, into the kitchen a little more optimistic about the day ahead.

Until, that is, a screaming motorized blade shrieks its way down the entire length of his spine. His damn fingers tingle with the earth-shattering sound.

“God what is that!?” He’s somewhat aware that he’s being too loud.

“Shut up,” Your voice whines, muffled against your elbow and the marble counter. “Stop yelling.”

Your finger pulses again on the button and the coffee grinder roars to life. You seem unbothered by it, even though two seconds ago you were scolding him for his volume. He hates you right now, slumped over on the countertop and wearing a terribly bright pair of neon green shorts that say—what the hell—they say, “Girls Don’t Poop”.

Bucky Barnes hasn’t vomited since 1935—but he feels like he might this morning.

Three French presses are steeping coffee at the same time. Seven cups are arranged in a row by your head, in various stages of empty.

He snatches the kettle from the stove before it can whistle and send the pain to his toes next. “Thank you.” Your finger jabs the air, pointing to the grinder and then the empty press by its side.

“Everything is shit.” You whine, “Fuck Thor and his fucking… witches brew. Poison. Liquid crack. Concentrated trash bag space punch. My fucking bones hurt. I feel like I’m dying. At the very least, like I’ll never be happy again. My sweat is sweating. I fell asleep outside of my own bedroom. Couldn’t even make it inside.”

Bucky snorts, because at least he wasn’t that sloppy. He doesn’t remember much, but a moment of clarity returns to him in the outline of a chorus of cheers and something being tossed. “Was that before or after you took your panties off?”

You whimper and bury your forehead deeper into your arm, a little bit embarrassed. “You remember that? That’s the last time I wear a thong—felt like my ass was eating it.”

He shuts his eyes at the image, tries not to comment on anything involving your ass. Instead, he mutters, “You drinkin’ all this coffee to vibrate yourself out of existence or something?”

“Just trying to feel normal again. Remember? Bones hurt.”

“Is it working?” Bucky takes another sip, feels the bitterness drip down and sting him awake.

“Not yet. I’m not sure how many coffees it takes to be happy, but so far, it’s not twelve.”

Bucky sputters the next mouthful and it catches in his nose, makes him choke and cough all over the counter. You suddenly follow suit, except it’s on your own spit and the two of you look like complete morons to Steve who is sauntering in, completely fine.

“Told ya to lay off the mead last night.” He says airily, wiping sweat from his brow after a jog. He pauses by the hallway entrance before padding back to the living room, stepping on the back of the couch with a ballerina’s grace. You and Bucky gape at how he balances on the back of it, reaching up toward the ceiling.

With a thump, Steve lands back down and trots over to the kitchen. His arm pulls back before a tiny black thong quietly smacks Bucky in the face.

“What the fuck!?” You slam Bucky against the counter clumsily in a poor effort to retrieve your unmentionables. He grunts and shakes it loose, one hand pushing your face back as the other grips your thong. He opens his mouth to cuss Steve out but the look on Cap’s face shuts the both of you up.

Steve looks like a dog with a bone. Smug as all hell as he crosses his arms, purses his lips as he glances from your bright red face to Bucky’s, to the triangle of fabric in your hand. Steve waggles his eyebrows, sucks on his teeth, and grins— shit-eatingly proud.

“Thought you’d want those back, Buck. You’re the one who took ‘em off her last night.”

Chapter Text

Bucky watches from a distance as you hurl through the air and land right heel-first on the training dummy, knocking its head off and making it bounce off the floor with enough force to lodge itself into the ceiling. The room of SHIELD recruits clap and cheer, and when the dummy’s head flops back down you kick it like a hacky-sack at Maria Hill.

“Great demonstration,” Hill catches the head and tucks it under her arm. “Are you interested in teaching a course in hand-to-hand combat with a focus on aerial recovery? Legitimately?”

“Only if you promise not to fall in love with me.” You send a wink at her and then, as soon as you see Bucky’s bewildered face through the other side of the glass, you leap after him. He’s convinced you’re dumber than a bag of rocks, but you’re not deterred by it—especially not after Maria Hill’s validation. Puffing your chest, you skip forward, “Hey, Buck! I’m legit!”

Immediately, you trip and face plant into the nearest surface. The room collectively hisses in discomfort.

“I take that back.” Maria hurriedly ushers the recruits out before they can witness anything else.

Bucky slips through the door and roughly yanks you up by your elbow, wincing when your nose reveals a line of blood dripping into your mouth. “Legit, my ass. Come on. Stark called for us.”

-

The air in the conference room is stagnant and overwrought with a million unsaid—unscreamed—expressions. Tony pivots on his lifted heels, finger jabbing toward the big screen where a dark and grainy image is projected.

“Care to explain this? Friday pulled it from a broadcast coming from the cell.” He narrows his eyes at you as you slump down into the swivel chair until only the top of your head shows. “How about you?” Tony gestures to Bucky.

Tony has a laser pointer in his other hand, and he shines the red spotlight on the picture where Bucky’s knees are bent and planted to the ground. The dot trails over his thigh and then over the smaller frame beneath him.

You’re there, arched upward into his torso, legs hooked around his tapered waist, heels digging into his spine. Four of his thick flesh fingers are shoved inside your mouth, pulling your cheek open, and the dim light catches a sliver of your wet tongue. His other forearm is pushed onto your sternum, holding you down.

It looks bad.

It looks like Bucky is dry humping the daylights out of you in an abandoned Hydra facility.

Sam erupts into a screeching laugh when he finally pieces it together, pitching forward until he’s flattened against the wood table. “Ho-Homygod— This is the best day of my life. Is this the cyanide incident?”

Bucky is red from head to toe.

Natasha rolls her eyes and slides away from the table. “Tony, she ate two cyanide capsules. Barnes was wrestling them out of her mouth.”

Tony stiffens for a moment as he ponders the truth behind her statement. Then, he quirks his head like an owl, flares his nostrils, and stoops beneath the table to find you resembling a boneless pile of flesh.

“Everyone is dismissed.” He sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose in irritation. “I wish I could fire you.”

A quiet whimper escapes your lips, the most pathetic noise to ever come from a human being. “But…” You whine pathetically, “I’m legit.”

-

A few nights later, you find yourself sneaking through yet another dusty old hideout. Surprise, surprise, Hydra is bad with maintenance and loves asbestos.

Steve made you an outline of all your tasks on his mission, written in all caps, folded neatly, and shoved it into your back pocket before departure. You skimmed over it on the plane before crumbling it up. The first bullet point had glared: NO CANDY.

Tightass.

You easily clear the wing and dispatch your status to Sam who is waiting patiently in the jet, fingers on the console. Bucky is patrolling the perimeter and you are taking the east side while Redwing zooms through the west.

There have been trip wires (newbie shit) and also surprisingly advanced attempts at entrapment so far (motion sensors, temperature regulated alarms). They’ve all been expertly pulled apart and rewired and you are taking a short break fucking around in the hallway, peering at dusty paintings of – some old dead bald guys. You take a picture of one and send it to Tony, labelled it’s like looking into the future.

Chortling, you continue down the corridor aimlessly until you hear a creak.

The knife in your hand is blade-first and coming down hard on the body sneaking up until— “Oh Barnes!” You cry happily, tucking it back into the strap on your wrist. “Good. You’re here! There’s only one more room—I’ve been crushing it.”

Literally two seconds after you say that, you turn the corner and run face-first into the door. Bucky pauses as if he doesn’t quite register what just happened before slowly reaching forward and gently applying pressure to the handle.

It’s written all over his face: you’re an idiot. You are seriously lacking some brain cells.

He leads the way carefully, swatting cobwebs hanging from the ceiling and taking stock of each corner, rifle pointed forward and alert. Behind him, your boots thump noisily against the floor and a chair is tipped over when your arm crashes into it.

Bucky spins on his heels and catches the chair before it can fall on top of what looks like a very obviously placed … box.

It’s a box.

A giant red box is on the floor, outlined with a square of white tape. Two abnormally unsoiled items in a room made almost entirely out of forty-year old dandruff. Your hands are already on both sides of it before Bucky can knock you out of the way.

“Don’t!” He screams because fucking anything could be under there!

A wild animal! A toxic chemical! A bomb! Snakes, for fuck’s sake! His eyes widen at the fading shadow cast on the floor as you lift the top away. Then, his heart stops beating.

It’s a slice of cake. And a cup of tea. A single slice of vanilla sheet cake neatly decorated with a blush-pink rose and two perfectly piped green leaves. The faint smell of jasmine wafts into the air.

Bucky barrels into you before you get the chance to lick your lips.

“Wilson!” He calls into the comm as you push his face away with an offended yelp, “They’re in the east side—set a trap for us! Get over here and bring your stupid bird too! I swear to God—NO! DO NOT!”

 -

In the hovering Quinjet, Sam Wilson leaps to his feet and swoops out of the cabin, wings folded as he dives. “Come again?!” He taps on the comm wedged inside his left ear, “Barnes!?”

“– fuck– gonna—fucking— stop BITING ME!”

A furious row of explosions blare in Sam’s ear as he banks a sharp left and lands on two feet, tearing his way inside the facility, checking on his wrist all the while. Redwing’s camera is glitching, but he can make out flashes of gunfire and what looks like at least five bodies, not including his two teammates. Bursts of white erupt on the screen and Sam’s heart picks up a tremendous pace before he kicks the door down, pistols out and aimed.

A silence smothers the room before grunting and screaming erupts again over Sam’s shout of, “What is going on in here?!”

-

“And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the exact moment I came upon my fellow Avengers,” Sam pauses, waving his hand with a bow at the image projected on the conference room screen.

Friday pulled another image from the broadcast before Sam shot out all the cameras in the facility.

It seems that the previous video of you eating cyanide had been intercepted through a bounced signal from the original recording’s output and those on the other end decided you were enough of a proper imbecile to be tricked by something as simple as a slice of cake.

They weren’t wrong.

Tony’s laser is in Sam’s hand and he points the dot in flashes five times, “Dead dudes. Check.” The dot moves on, landing on two splayed out legs before it runs up the side of Bucky’s body pressed to the concrete. “Barnes. Check.” Bucky shuts his eyes and slams his head into the table. “And… here we have this.”

Sam points to you, bottom lip clenched tightly between your teeth as you lurch forward, one hand outstretched and smeared with frosting while the other holds your torso barely an inch from the ground, paying no mind to the two elbows digging into your stomach. Sam points again to where your crotch is pushed right into Bucky’s face.

“Jesus Christ.” Steve mutters, flushing red, “I wrote you directions for a reason…”  

“Excuse me,” You huff, “Cake is not candy.”

“Really?!” Bucky snaps, “That’s the hill you’re going to die on!? You ran into the door! You knocked over a chair! You looked at the one thing that did not belong in the room and you picked it up even after I told you not to!”

Steve jumps back into the grilling, “And if you would have read the rest of the list—NO FOOD AT ALL was number two!”

“Oh yeah!?” You’re near hysterical now, shrieking at the top of your lungs. Stupid men ganging up on you. “What was number three? No fun!? I’m Captain America and I’m such a tightass–”

Bucky cuts you off, throwing his hands up into the air, “Number three was get the blueprints!”

“Oh.”

The room falls silent as you tuck your hand into the pocket of your pants. “Why didn’t you just say so? I nabbed ‘em as soon as I got in there. Marked off the locations of all the cameras and security alarms—not like that matters since Wilson shot them and I disarmed the rest in the east wing. Also, there were corridors and secret entryways not in the file. It’s on here now.”

Carelessly, you chuck the flash drive from your pocket at Steve and it smacks him in the chest. Sam crosses his arms and cocks his head at you, “Shit. Didn’t know you were all that.”

You frolic to the door, “See ya later!”

Three men watch on in shocked silence as you prance down the hallway, banking a sharp right towards your room. Steve stares from Sam to Bucky and then to the flash drive in his hand.

Sam clucks, “You know what… All things considered… the girl is legit.”

-

He calls your name, bangs on the door with a hard fist and when it cracks open, you peek your head out with tired eyes. “Sup, buttercup?”

“Why are you like this? The cyanide? The cake? You had the flash drive the whole time!”

You shrug off what sounds like an accusation, “I dunno. I’m good at my job.” Bucky crosses his arms. “Barnes!” You scold with a growing grin, “I’m legit! I just… you know. Why put all the pressure on myself when you’re around?”

You snort a little, scratch your tummy underneath an oversized shirt absently, and shrug your shoulders repeatedly like you’re dancing. Bucky narrows his eyes. “Are you telling me you’re an idiot because of me?”

“Yeah, Buck. I know you’ll take care of me.”

He freezes. Feels a sudden swell of heat rush from his chest to the top of his head. Bucky opens his mouth to retort, but nothing comes out. He closes it. You give him a sleepy grin, leaning on the door and swinging it wide, faltering against the knob with a yelp.

Swiftly, and true to his character, Bucky catches you with one arm.

Hanging from his hold, body twisted around, you look up into his blue eyes. They’re strangely tender, dancing over your face with an inquisitive glimmer.

The moment shatters when Bucky’s gaze stops at your neckline. “Is that—" he frowns, “Is your shirt on backwards?”

You nod. “Uh huh. Inside out too.”

His eyes slip shut. With a sigh, he drops you flat on your back and turns around. “You’re an idiot. I hate you.”

Down the hallway as he stomps off, cursing the moment the thought you were cute or something… he hears your voice calling.

“I’m an idiot— but I’m legit, right? And I’m your idiot, right? Bucky? Bucky!”

Bucky holds back a grin. Flicks you off behind his back. Legit or not, he would never give you the satisfaction of knowing.

Chapter Text

Your head is pressed against the smooth wood grain of the conference room table. Some terribly old tree a sadist lobbed off and carved down to decorate the desolate meeting space. Not much else in here but it, ten rolling chairs, and a projector that hums too loudly.

Tony is going off again about your inability to take anything seriously. Hah. That’s rich coming from him.

“I’m hungry.” You whine, “I can’t think on an empty stomach.”

A collective sigh from each team member and you flick them all off.

“You just ate!” Steve is accusatory.

“Shut up, you enormous human-shaped Dorito. Corn-chip lookin’ ass…” Insults muffle themselves out on the surface, your warm breath fogging the plane, “Cool ranch lookin’– crunchy-ass… blue-bagged… bitch.”

A silence passes as everyone else stares on, waiting for it to end. Bucky groans to your right, sighs noisily, and thumps you on the back with his vibranium hand. You cough because your spine is probably crushed.

“Great meeting. This was an incredible waste of my time.”

He kicks the chair backwards and hops to his feet. There’s a deafening crackle of something that pulls your attention sideways, the first time your head’s been up in about twenty-five minutes. You’re elated.

“You got snacks?”

“What?”

“You got chips? You crunched like a bag of Lays.”

Sam snickers to your left. Then he wheezes and flops over, guffaws following rapidly. “A- A- A bag of L-Lays!” He cries, “Naw, girl. Those’re his joints. The boy is ancient.”

Bucky burns bright red head-to-toe under your scrutiny as you turn from him to Steve. With a shrug, you place your head back down. “Steve, your days of being called a Dorito are over.” A lazy finger jabs itself over your shoulder at the new object of your ire.

“New Dorito. Nacho Cheese Flavored. Stale, maybe.”

Chapter Text

The metal door crashes open, rattling the steel cage of the room. You spin in—triple axel with no clear trajectory—and barely stick the landing.

Handcuffed to the reinforced table is Someguy Whatshisface. A Hydra waterboy or something.

“Close the door.” The intercom buzzes with Steve’s voice. Two-way glass and all, this guy’s gone through the ringer with Natasha and she got fuck-all. Bucky already pulled out the cyanide capsule embedded in his incisor, so…

Now it’s your turn.

“Another pretty girl?” He asks, left eye welded shut by bruising.

“Wrong.” Bucky’s voice crackles overhead.

You slam one boot high onto the table, hands on your hips, leaning into a stretch. “Damn, my groin is fucked up today.” Crossing your arms and shaking your head, you look to the glass, “I’m gonna redo my entrance.”

Steve yells no and you can hear Bucky cursing your arrival before he gets cut off.

A roll of your eyes before you place your hand behind your back. A smooth cream staff is revealed and Someguy raises his eyebrow.

“Hey,” you blink, waving it in front of his face, “Did they teach you “Hot Cross Buns” in Soviet Russia?” The recorder isn’t even to your lips yet when Bucky sprints up, panicked, and slams the door shut.

-

It only takes about twenty minutes. Eighteen renditions of “Hot Cross Buns” with your semi-functioning fingers and your single audience member is screaming bloody murder for you to stop. The recorder shakes in your hand— a result of shooting two 5-hour energy drink three minutes before your appearance. Your teeth are vibrating.

“HeyIgotlikesixtymoresongsleftinme–” a shallow breath, “andthenthe—” gasp, “THE ENCORE—” a blaring E flat you don’t even get to finish because he starts to knock his forehead into the table and crying in Russian.

Bucky kicks the door open, claps his hands together and cackles. “Alright, get outta here.”

You throw your hands up in the air, “What the fuck, man? I’m in the middle of my setlist. This guy is Mclovin’ it.”

Bucky snatches the recorder above your head and flings it down the hallway, “He called you the devil and apologized for not talking sooner.” He does a double take when it’s magically replaced by a different instrument—metal, compact.

The cowbell is shaken so violently Bucky thinks his ears might fuck right off. He’s half a second away from spinning his head 360 like an owl because he is only mortal and you really are the devil. One more rattle and he snatches it out of your hand, and it goes flying down the hallway, too.

When the harmonica is pulled out—where the hell are you keeping these things—he does it again, and you’re fresh out of devices to torture the world with.

So, with a huff and a furious tapping of your foot that is practically uncontrollable by now, you take a deep breath and scream. And scream. And scream. Steve is pleading in the background for you to stop, but even the intercom is drowned out by your caterwauling.

For the third time in half an hour, the door bangs open again, and Steve is gasping for air, arm full of various items. Cowbell, triangle, harmonica, recorder, bagpipes, a washboard, and no less than seventeen spoons. He calls your name slowly, eyeing the trove in his hands, “If you come with me, and if you are good and quiet, I will give your toys back.”

You shut your mouth and skip away.

-

At three in the morning, Bucky jolts awake to the screech of a million off-tune sounds. You stand at the edge of his bed, bagpipe tucked under your arm, harmonica strapped around your head, foot kicking the hell out of a hand drum.

His head spins 360 and you don’t even bat an eye.

Chapter Text

His door creaks open.

Bucky’s barely out of the shower and dressed when the slowest scrape of its hinges makes him turn. Tinny. Barely audible. But he has super hearing and the sliver of light pouring through is accompanied by a shadow. Hm.

He calls your name. “The hell are you doing?” He mumbles, “How’d you pick my lock again?”

You stand in the doorway, arms inside an oversized white shirt, looking like an extremely lumpy bag of marshmallows. One bare foot scratches the adjacent ankle and then you crack all your toes with a pathetic whine.

“Is that mine?” Bucky tosses his towel onto the bed.

You moan despondently before squatting down and letting the hem of his shirt engulf your legs. The lumpy bag of marshmallows has melted. He shakes his head. Wants to laugh but he stifles it for now. 

“What is it?”

“Sad.” You whisper, tucking your face into the shirt, too. He kneels by your side. Knocks on your scalp.

“Can’t be sad. Your head’s full of nothing but sawdust.”

“Sad.” You reply again, muffled by your knees.

A small chuckle escapes because he can’t help it. The only time you’re shy is when you’re like this. Still an idiot. A little cute. But he knows what to do.

So, he gets to work and squeezes one arm under both folded legs, wedging them apart. His other arm catches your curved back when you tip over.

“Okay, sad girl.” He smiles, carrying your limp body across the room. You look like a Renaissance painting—splayed out and wilted, eyes staring dully into the ceiling. Stunning, but he’ll never say it.

A sniffle and you squeeze your eyes shut.

Yeah, you’re sad. He knows. It’s inexplicable, and it’s very fucking real.  

With his foot, Bucky slides the wet towel onto the floor and lays you down atop his sheets where you continue to groan dramatically. He reaches over your body, takes the far edge and pulls it around, tucking it beneath your back. He does the same to the other side and soon enough, you’re wrapped snugly in its cocoon. Only your head is visible.

“Okay, sad girl.” He says again, “How’s that? Better now?”

A silence before you blink at him. Your head jerks a few times, eyes pointedly staring at the open space nearby.

Bucky slips in, lies on his side and chuckles at the way you hobble with your entire body closer to his. “Okay, sad girl.” He whispers over the top of your head, “Better now?”

You sigh and press your forehead to his chest.

“Better now.”

Chapter Text

He doesn’t let you see him when he goes in for repairs. Laser fire and his side, colliding into the beam in order to push you to safety, singed the limb off at its bicep. Small fixing, you’ve seen him do. But this is big. It throws his entire equilibrium off and he walks disrupted and nervous from the hangar.

“Buck?” you call outside of the frosted glass, wiping soot off your own cheeks. He’s only visible as a barely-there smudge of black and peach. “Hey— thank you for saving my dumb— can I come in? Buck-” a futile attempt at another joke, “Ay, lemme see what that thang do— Buck?”

He snarls, “Get out.”

-

It’ll take at least three days and you haven’t seen him in two. Finally impatient that he’s avoiding you like the damn plague and a little hurt that he hasn’t forgiven you for getting his arm ripped off in the first place, you bang on his door, mouth ajar and ramble-ready.

It’s silent as it opens, just like him behind it, left side covered by the frame. A cream-colored sling from the med bay is knotted at his right shoulder and he shifts to hide himself from your eyes.

A moment of recognition. A furrow of your brow and the softest sound of your heart breaking when you realize: no, he’s not mad.

He doesn’t look when your hands find the loop by his neck, only stares at his feet before closing his eyes. When it slips off, your fingers replace the cotton, palm roving over the ridged plane of his former injury. Seventy years later and it still has so much power over him.

A gentle breath from your quickly closing throat. Tongue leaden. No words at all. Rare from you.

Instead, your head dips, mouth finding the seam of his past, pressing tender kisses to the raised notches of scar tissue. Bucky is stiff for a second before he sighs, leaning too, so that his torso bends over yours. Two arched spines, keeping each other safe.

“You don’t hav—” he starts, but your hand is on his jaw, thumb brushing over his bottom lip.

“Thank you.” You say against that relic of his, words tumbling forward. “For being you.” You pull back and stare into his eyes, gunmetal grey with a neon blue glow. “Perfect just the way you are.”

Maybe nobody’s ever said it to him before. Maybe you’re a little too impulsive in saying it now, but the shock gives way to sentiment and Bucky bites his lips. Mutters a thank you. Smiles against your palm on his face.

-

The next morning, you return to his quarters with the prosthetic from Tony. Bucky greets you by the door with a small smile. Asks you to place it under the bed.

He walks beside you to breakfast with a lighter step.

Chapter Text

Bucky walks in on you standing in front of the T.V. with one hand on your hip while the other one gestures viciously. 

He shakes his head. You really shouldn’t be watching the news because it would only make you more insane. A few minutes of that kind of political commentary and your top would blow clean off.

“The hell is this?!” You scream.

“Why are you watching that? Aint like they say anything good on it.”

“I fucking know!” An outraged scoff, “This isn’t even about foxes!”

Bucky freezes mid-step, “What?”

“What the hell is Fox News if it’s not a channel about foxes? I’m trying to look at some red boys. Arctics. Fennecs. Vulpes vulpes, y’know?”

The light goes out in his eyes and Bucky stares into the big, gaping abyss of where your brain should be.

Chapter Text

“Stop that.” Bucky chides as you scoop a finger of icing into your mouth, “Expiration date’s gonna kill you.”

“Only if I let it.” Is the muffled response as your shove most of your face into the canister.

He’s been on your case about eating old food for as long as you’ve known him, but you haven’t died yet… so, Bucky: zero. you: five gallons of milk, half a dozen cupcakes, and a bag of semi-gray salami.

“I was only queasy for like three minutes after the salami.” You remind him, feeling a little sad that you’re getting near the end of the pilfered dessert. Then, a pause as you peer inside. “Huh. There’s something… green.”

Bucky snatches it from your hand, looks, and launches it clear across the room. “MOLD.” He shouts, as the can clatters into the living room. “It’s mold!” He scrubs his eyes with the heel of his palm, “You’re– God! I swear if it weren’t for me you’d be dead.” Bucky rambles on, leaning back in his chair and throws his hands up, “Gotta use my brain for both of us– you’re so fucking stupid. You— you’re such a fucking donut.”

“A what?” The corner of your mouth is housing a tiny dollop of buttercream and you lick it off.

“A donut.” Bucky retorts, “Your head. It’s fucking missing something in the middle. Like a brain.”

Your eyebrow quirks, “If I’m the donut… does that make you the donut hole? You know? Cause you’re like, my brain?”

Bucky groans, “No.” But you ignore him.

“Aw. You’re my brain, Barnes. You fit so well in my little donuthole. A perfect fit. In the hole. The little hole inside me. My hole.”

Bucky slams his head into the table with a whimper, wishing he had let you eat the mold after all.

Chapter Text

Bucky is examining his new object of annoyance one evening as he sits in the living room. A three-inch scab on his elbow, crusted over with dried blood from when he was sent flying into porous concrete last week. 

He hates this part the most—when it itches and all he wants to do is rip it off. He hates it more than the pain because at least pain is immediate. This takes patience. And he is not.

He’s glad for a distraction as you waltz in with a large scrapbook under your arm. “What is that?”

Turning to regard him, you beam and already he feels uneasy, “Oh– I’ve never showed you?”

Then, you roll up your sleeve where a drag of the same injury matches his because when Bucky fell, he unfortunately fell on you, too.

You plop down beside him, begin to pick at the scab. Bucky stares in horror as you peel it off, much too deft to be a spontaneous decision. The hardened strip lies threateningly in your palm.

“It’s my collection.”

When the scrapbook falls open, he’s greeted with pages of them– crusted blood under contact paper and neatly penned notes about where and how. Like a goddamn serial killer.

You stick this one next to a torn heart-shape. Sliding a pen from behind your ear, you write: Manhattan. Flattened by Barnes’ fat ass. 

“Hey, Barnes.” You grin, looking at this elbow and his skin just crawls. “Can I have that?”

Chapter Text

The press conference was supposed to be a breeze– public relations yada-yada to answer some silly questions. Fans want interaction. The Avengers are closer to movie stars these days than saviors. The line blurs often.

Except, the thing goes sideways when some fucko with pit-stains taps on the mic, looks pointedly at Bucky, and then the word war criminal echoes through the room. The rest of the diatribe fades out into a faint warble.

Steve’s hand is barely slammed on the table before the crowd erupts into shouts and chairs are knocked over with people jumping from their seats. Bucky’s up too, and looking like he doesn’t know if he should follow the jet-stream trajectory of your path or keep his distance.

You’re in the middle of it– one hand fisting the front of the poor fuck’s jacket, knuckles turning as white as the undershirt beneath. Your nose is pressed up against his, and your teeth are bared for the world to see. Someone discreetly snaps a picture and the sound of the camera’s shutter draws a groan from Tony.

“You feeling brave today?” You hiss.

He shakes his head furiously and you exhale, sated with the response. Slowly, your fist uncurls, leaving a wrinkled shape of your fingers and thumb in a vengeful knot. With a calm smoothing of your palm, you press the jacket lapel flat and leave the room without another word.

-

Twitter explodes almost immediately. The picture snapped makes headlines and the news. There’s both backlash and reverence. You’re named the internet’s (Scary) Girlfriend of the Year. Badass Bae. The phone won’t stop ringing.

Bucky clicks the T.V. on where Tomi Lahren is screeching about how it’s uncouth and unpatriotic for a female Avenger to be defending an ex-Soviet assassin– and harassing a civilian to boot. She’s calling for your resignation letter and your head on a plate.

He’s a little angry that you’re now the subject of the media’s ire and scrutiny because you came to his defense. He’s still … a divided opinion for most.

But, he counts his blessings because the guy from the press conference hasn’t given any interviews. He’s been eerily silent and three days have passed. Tomi Lahren’s bleach blonde head is urging for him to speak up. To phone the station and vilify you.

Next to Bucky on the couch, you grin, lopsided and sly until your shoulders begin to shake silently.

“What?”

“I’ve been calling that shithead at night,” You admit in between gasps of laughter, “Just breathing into the phone.” Tucking your hand into your back pocket, you produce a suede wallet and fling its contents onto the floor. 

“I’ve bought a million pairs of Winter Soldier underwear with his own money and had them shipped to his house. Red and black Edible Arrangements. Subscribed him to porn parodies. Anyway– good luck, Tender Lasagna. He ain’t going anywhere near a phone lest he wants to hear me laughing at his tiny dick at 4 am.” 

Bucky pales. Doesn’t know where to start. First, you just called a woman Tender Lasagna. Second, you stole a person’s wallet and are essentially terrorizing them into silence. Third– wait, what the fuck.

“Porn what?!”

Another lopsided smile as you turn off the screen, “Don’t you know? We’re all the rage. It’s called Winter Soldier Balls Deep in Badass Bae.” Then, a friendly pat on his shoulder before you give his thighs a look.

“Don’t worry, Buck. No one’s laughing at your dick at 4 am. They’re definitely doin’ something else.”

Bucky chokes, opens his mouth to retort but no sound comes out. He resigns to staring at your profile in dismay as you crack your knuckles and mumble quietly to yourself as if nothing ever happened at all.

“Fuck,” and he marvels on a bit in wonder and fear when you sigh, “I’m really craving lasagna now.”

Chapter Text

When Bucky gets activated again, by some Zemo devotee with the most annoyingly nasal voice you’ve ever heard, he goes savage.

It’s absolute helter skelter and worse than you could have ever imagined The Winter Soldier. The stories do no justice to how menacing he truly is. Powerful, sinister, with his mask on, he’s a wild animal. The arm—Christ, you’ve never seen him wield it like that.

He flattens the SUV you’ve barely rolled out of, shouldering a grenade launcher with ease. You’re beyond pissed when he aims it at you. Dead eyes. Nothing. Not even one single flash of recognition and Steve is screaming at you to stop being so stubborn, goddamnit!

Sorry Cap. You snatch a loose brick from a nearby crumbled structure and fly forward, the fastest your feet have ever taken you and when he fires, by the good grace of God or the Devil—whoever—it misses. You tuck away animal sacrifice to show your thanks for later.

Punches and kicks. Bucky dangling you in the air before you finally get the upper hand and catch his neck between your thighs.

The brick between two hands comes down on his temple. Blood squirts from his forehead like a geyser and he drops. With the discarded launcher by his legs, you swing it one more time into his face for good measure and the sound of the impact may be something you never forget.

A wretched cry spills from your throat, half in anger, half in anguish.

To the horrified villain tucked away in a car—sorry Cap for the second time because hell no you won’t let even one iota of this motherfucker survive this—you fire with a snarl, and he becomes indistinguishable from mashed red berries sprinkled with metal and glass. Your pistol blasts repeatedly into every enemy corpse on the ground until your wrath is sated. Double-double tap because fuck them.

Steve catches up and pants by your side, distraught and holding his head.

You fall to your knees, running your hand gingerly through Bucky’s bloodied hair.

God. He looks like shit. His face is completely purple on the left, riven slants bursting apart and flooding, nearly exposing his skull and your insides feel just as destroyed.

“Wake up, you little shit. Wake up, damn it.” His name is invoked like a prayer between your gritted teeth.

Slowly, blessedly, he obeys, although one eye is swollen shut and his exhale gushes out a tidal wave of blood. You smooth away stray locks with a choked cry, thumb pressing over his cuts to hold them close as much as you can.

Steve shudders a relieved sigh because the city would be leveled otherwise. Zemo would be liberated from the Raft to be flayed alive, otherwise. The surrounding carnage already makes his spine tingle with dread.

“Who knew?” You say shakily, “All you needed was recalibration via a swift crack to the noodle.”

“Jesus. Wh-What’d you crack my noodle with? A c-car?” Bucky groans before absently rolling himself into your lap and you know he’s continuing the joke for your sake. His hand feels around for yours, nestling both of them into his hair.

“How the— how the hell did you know…” Bucky pauses when you sniffle.

“Remember when I hit my head on the cabinet door yesterday and went Rain Man for half an hour?”

“You scared the shit out of me. You called me James.”

You laugh long and hard and rub the tears from your cheek until his blood is smeared all over your brow.

“Yeah. I did scare you, didn’t I? Well, James…” You lean back on one palm, other hand linking itself through his, married together by rust and a quiet understanding. “Consider us even. And please…”

He doesn’t need you to finish. Bucky shushes your pounding heartache with a grip and a slow curling smile— as much as he can, because it’s hard to right now. You reply with your own, just as torn.

And Steve, poor Steve, hovers above and shakes his head at two idiots obviously in love.

Chapter Text

Tony’s back early from Santorini, glasses slipping nearly off his nose bridge at the sight.

The blender has exploded. Gummy worms and heavy cream on the counter tops. Peppermint gelato and half-demolished chocolate chess pie. There is a rainbow swirl lollipop stuck to the ceiling. 

In the commons, Steve and Bucky are sprawled out on the couch, legs stretched as they lean back. There’s a slab of prime rib on Bucky’s left cheek and Steve has a bag of frozen peas on his shoulder. 

Before Tony can demand any answers, Bucky opens one eye and points outside the glass panel of the side wall where Peter is spinning you in a circle with a thick line of webbing. You’re going so fast it looks like a human-sized centrifuge. Morgan is clapping with glee, bouncing up and down and Tony’s heart might swell at the sight of his daughter so joyful, but half her face proudly presents a scribble in bright red lipstick and the rest of her face is smeared with glitter.

On her hand is his glove.

“WHAT UP—-” A woosh as you fly past, “DADDY—” Another one and your voice cuts itself off, waiting for your return before the greeting finishes, “MOREBUCKS?” The tail end of your hair whips Tony in the face and he sputters indignantly.

“What the – excuse, me sweetheart,” He peels the glove off Morgan’s tiny little hand and the nanobots retreat back into his watch. “S-H-I-T is going on here!? I was gone for one day– not even a full 24 hours!” Your hair comes back and slices him on the forehead again.

“We had so much fun, daddy!” Morgan giggles, latching herself to his calf, “And why did you spell out shit?”

Bewildered, Tony shrieks and tucks his daughter under his arm, readying himself to launch into another scolding, this time directed at Peter because you are shameless and unconcerned that his 6-year-old daughter has now learned to spell and dictate shit. You probably taught her.

Before he can, though, Peter halts to a stop and you stumble a few paces before leaning over a tree.

Your vomit is a bright neon green.

From inside, Steve and Bucky groan and see themselves off to bed.

Chapter Text

Thursday morning greets Bucky with a granola bar straight to the temple. He’s heading out for a jog and has barely washed his face when it smacks him square between the eyes. A sputter of indignance erupts before he shakes his limbs awake and glares at the direction the projectile came from.

Strangely enough (or is it?) the hallway is empty. A lone water bottle sits serenely eight feet away, red polka-dotted sticky note attached to its lid, reading: stay fucking HYDRATED, you RAISIN. And eat breakfast.

His eyes fixate on the note and its decorative splotches. Quashing a snarl, Bucky lurches from the corridor and kicks your door open.

“You stupid hypocrite!” He hisses, flinging the paper towards where you’re perched by the end-table. He’s trying to, anyway. The stubborn adhesive won’t let go of his thumb and you blink owlishly at his antics.

“What?”

“Telling me to take care of myself?”

A vicious stomp before he slaps it to your forehead, pushing your skull back a little.

“I thought this shit was polka-dots!” He accuses, “It’s from your face!”

Bucky gestures forcefully at your cut lip and the leftover pink smudge of a bloody nose, both crusting over in their healing process—the last remnant of your ham-fisted face-plant into some door or another. Or maybe running headfirst into Steve’s shield during training…. Again.

Idiot. Stupid—hurt– idiot.

His gut twists a little when you gingerly wipe at your mouth and wince in pain. He takes the note back, suddenly guilty.

“No,” you deny, pointing at yourself, “This is blood from my face.”

Bucky raises an eyebrow.

That,” a jab at the flimsy square in his hand, smirk growing. “Is from my uterus.”

Thursday morning greets you with Bucky’s elbow and your second bloody nose of the week.

Chapter Text

“Thank god for days off like these,” your mouth is full as you sigh—wetly chewing a mush of slimy orange pulp, “Time to relax and eat whatever I want. No regrets.”

Bucky rolls his eyes from next to you on the couch before turning his attention to the T.V. 

Groceries had been dropped off earlier in the day and you requested a handful of fruit this time: durian, persimmon, soursop? What the hell are those? So far, mangoes seem to be your favorite. At least he knows what that is, and at least it’s reasonably healthy.

“Man, I love mangoes,” you continue, throwing your pajama-clad legs over his, “Numb tongue and all. No regrets.”

“Say that again,” Bucky commands stiffly after his brain catches up to your comment, “Your tongue goes numb?”

Upon closer inspection, your face is glowing and tender patches on your neck are quickly flowering down. Bucky grabs the front of your shirt in panic, assessing the quantity of your intake. The tupperware in your hand is collecting juice, entire serving consumed save the pit which you’ve even nibbled all over. 

The row of teeth marks stares at him.

“You’re allergic to it!” He yanks the container from you and chucks it on the coffee table with a glare. “Friday?!” Bucky calls, pitch reaching skyward with alarm, “Where’s the Benadryl?!”

The A.I. hums to life, “There’s a bottle in ma’am’s side drawer for times like these; she’s aware of the consequences of her actions.”

What?”

You pause too, and send him a lopsided grin, lips swollen shut.

“What … else… is … she … allergic … to?”

“Durian, persimmon, and soursop, sir.”

Bucky glares accusing daggers. Time to relax and eat, my ass, he thinks. “You did this on purpose, didn’t you?”

Your mouth opens the same time your eyes roll back and you vomit all over his toes. With a wilted chuckle when Bucky’s fists tighten around your collar, you realize…. you might have one regret.

Chapter Text

It’s supposed to be a fun and light-hearted thing—a season full of shiny-glowing-fantastic-twinkling excitement and ruddy red noses and misty breath in the chilled air. A season of joy and celebration, of spiked eggnog, fuzzy striped socks, and sliding down the compound hillsides on Steve’s shield.

And he’s screwed it all up.

It sinks in like the swollen marshmallows in his now cold cocoa, drooping to the bottom where the rest of the sediments lie. Outside, snowflakes gust and whip, blanketing the pine trees and skeletons of shrubbery in white flurries. Red holly berries peek out where they can and glare at him with their crimson eyes.

His phone lights up with picture messages of Steve and Sam, hurriedly trying on a cluster of sweaters in preparation. Horrid renderings of cats on ornaments. Oversized slouchy sleeves flecked with tinsel. Santa’s dreadful ass-crack peeking out of a chimney.

Bucky grumbles and turns his phone face-down, leaning back in his chair to stare at the Christmas tree in the corner. He wants to scream and put his leg through the damn thing.

Soft footsteps draw his attention to the hallway when you emerge, blinking slowly as you stifle a yawn from behind your hand until you see him. Then, you scoff and disappear back down the hall.

“Wait!” Bucky calls, leaping from his seat and nearly knocking the tepid mug from the table, “Damn it, wait!”

You’re gone. Stomped back to your room and even if he starts running now, he wouldn’t be quick enough—only getting the slamming door on his nose. He’ll try anyway.

Bucky slumps against the panel, pushing his chest against the cold metal of it and his cheek until his words come out smushed into his teeth.

“C’mon!” A pathetic whine of your name before he sticks his fingers underneath the slit of the door like a cat, wiggling the bent tip back and forth. Incredible. The Winter Soldier sprawled out all over a corridor, begging for forgiveness over this.

Only silence replies; you’re probably on the bed, thinking about scratching his eyes out. He can practically see you flicking him off with both hands. You’ve never been this upset before, and it deeply troubles him considering the dynamic of your very friendship spun on the axis of one single truth: Bucky’s the annoyed one. You’re the fuck up.

And now he has no idea what to do.

One week of it and he’s completely lost; the start of it all—December 1st when Tony announced: Ugly. Christmas. Sweater. Party.

Two days before Christmas, the team will be gathering in the common area for a white elephant gift exchange, and sweaters will be judged based on ugliness. What a stupid idea.

The winner will be awarded with “no team meetings for a month” and Tony’s personal stash of bourbon as long as no one touches his whiskey.

Upon the proclamation, you had clapped your hands together and grinned, “We’re gonna win this damn thing.”

And Bucky, being regular Bucky who ignores your half-witted ideas and short-sighted fixations, muttered, “Whatever,” and went back to thinking normal-person thoughts.

For the next several weeks, you dove into your knitting, the needles clicking together faster than he’s ever seen, weaving sparkling black and bright cherry red. The rows were tightly bound, looped and coiled expertly until he could finally make out the shape on the front of it.

He really did love your sick sense of humor—although he’d never admit it—funny, twisted, always brought him a bit of joy.

“Fuck no,” he had laughed at the image of a mutilated deer, antlers dangling silver ornaments showcasing his sigil. “I am not fuckin’ puttin’ that on. It looks like hell.”

“You agreed!” And then the needles and yarn hit him right in the nose.

On your way out, a low chuckle came from the corner of the living room where Steve sat sipping a cup of steaming chai. “You know Christmas is her favorite holiday?”

A snorting laugh bubbled the surface of Steve’s tea, “Good goin’, Buck.”

-

“Last Christmas” is on, blaring synth beats through the halls. George Michael croons sweetly, longingly, grieving an unrequited love before jingle bells ring in the scattered percussion.

Bucky hears your voice as you carol along to possibly the cheesiest song of all time—infuriated and baffled that you won’t speak more than two words to him but will sing your heart out to this crap. George Michael, Wham! and all of England can eat his whole ass.

He trudges from his room and into the den where the lights are dimmed and the table is set with snacks and a crock pot of hot chocolate. A dish of pine cones sits in the middle, flanked by a merry snowy village filled with little ceramic teddy bears and reindeer. On the edge is a deflated Santa Hat filled with paper scraps and pens for the voting process at the end of the night.

It is seven-thirty and you are standing next to Sam with bent elbows, wiggling your hips to the chorus, sliding back and forth on the polished floor in fuzzy socks. The two of you are facing the window, pointing at the flurry and a mountain of sludge that was previously a horrid misshapen lump of Snowman Steve.

Bucky squints a little, alert when he sees two matching sweaters—black on the back. Hell no, he thinks.

Sam turns around and Bucky’s worst holiday fears are confirmed. One innocuous “Oh hey, man,” and all the warmth drains from him.

On Wilson’s chest is that terrible disfigured deer you constructed, its antlers spearing out from its head to reach all the way up to his shoulders.

Bucky flies across the room and before either you or Sam can do anything about it, he’s peeling the hem of it over Sam’s head, kneeing him in the groin, and taking him down onto the floor. “What the hell!” Sam yells, struggling to get out of his grasp. “Shit—get off—Barnes!”

“A red star isn’t even your fucking symbol!” His hair is in his eyes along with Sam’s elbow, their limbs and joints knocking into each other in the wrestling bout. The sleeves and front are being stretched terribly, but neither of them seem to notice.

“Hey,” Your calm voice calls from above them—falling on four deaf ears. “Hey,” You try again, and when it doesn’t seem like two grown men can stop aggressively fondling each other over a damn pullover, you raise your hand and decisively land it across the back of Bucky’s head in a deafening crack.

A swell of multiple shocked gasps rises from behind you and when Sam and Bucky freeze, they see the rest of the compound’s inhabitants staring at the scene like a disfigured Nativity display. They also see your palm, at the end of your motion, resting next to your shoulder.

Bucky gingerly rubs his wound. “Ow,” He grumbles.

“Room… now.” You command, pointing your finger down the hall. Wilted, he shuffles away dutifully, saying nothing to the others as he passes. When he’s gone, you look scornfully at Sam and your beloved jersey, loosely hanging at the edge of his torso, pulled nearly apart.

“Voting starts in twenty, kid,” Tony mentions breezily.

“Yeah,” You reply through gritted teeth, “Don’t worry, we’ll be there.”

-

Steve coughs behind his hand awkwardly when Bucky steps back out, the once snugly-fitting sweater around Sam hanging collapsed and loose on Bucky’s right side. You’re close behind, bouncing on your heels and smiling as if nothing had gone wrong. Steve’s not sure which is worse: your wrath or glee.

“You, uh, you alright?” He calls quietly.

“Oh yeah, absolutely. Right, Buck?”

Bucky swallows, “Uh. Yeah.”

He has no fucking idea; when you shut the door behind him, the sweater in your hand was calmly unfolded and held up to his shoulders, damage assessed by a calculating mind. Bucky still has no clue what possessed you not to scratch his eyes out that very second.

Then, you looked him up and down and said, “Put it on, Barnes. Show’s about to start.”

And if he was a weaker man, he’d be shaking in his goddamn boots at how calm you are.

The team gathers around the tree, various colored pens and torn scraps in hand as they evaluate each other’s attire. Natasha is boldly displaying a patchwork kind of cardigan with what looks like the Michelin man ominously hovering behind a tree. Tony, of course, has custom-ordered a perfectly sized wreath knitted around his arc reactor heart. Steve has completely missed the Christmas memo (or is perhaps the politest Grinch on Earth) wears blue, the tiniest hint of gold tinsel woven through.

And Sam – stupid, stupid Sam– who didn’t plan on being robbed of a perfectly knitted sweater five minutes before the voting process, is out of the game.

Bucky is about to write your name down, because a medium part of him feels guilty for hurting your feelings while a much larger part of him feels apprehension about what exactly might happen if you lose, but you suddenly dig your hand into his pocket.

All five fingers shove deep until your fist is gripping tight and your knuckles stab his thigh.

“Hey! No hanky-panky during voting!” Tony is scandalized.

A vicious snap of his pocketknife swings open and before he knows it, your left hand is fisting the yarn on his chest and your right is ripping it straight through. The room falls silent when you do it a second time and Bucky’s at a loss for words until the breeze hits.

Chills.

A tendril of AC sneaks through the two open holes you’ve carved and goosebumps bloom all over his chest. Dread settles in his tummy.

His nipples are pebbled and exposed for everyone to see and with a quiet click of the blade retracting, you tuck it back into his pocket. 

“Let the voting begin.”

No one moves. No one makes a single sound and the whole place is quieter than a crypt until a shrill wheeze squeaks out of Sam’s nostrils. Through the choked snickering and the slowly building crescendo of everyone else’s laughter, Wilson admits, “They’re browner than I thought they’d be.”

There’d be no need for a voting process, Bucky knows. You’ve stolen the show – or rather, his nipples have stolen the show, and the once-worthy prize is now his Sisyphean burden to bear. He closes his eyes and counts to a million.

Screw exemptions from team meetings, Bucky thinks, praying desperately that when the bourbon is bestowed to him, by some miracle of sweet baby Jesus, he’d be able to get shitfaced again.

Chapter Text

You’ve been lying immobile on the couch for exactly 3 hours, 54 minutes, and 31 seconds– almost as long as Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers Extended. He threw a blanket over you the first time he walked by, a pillow, the second time, and has taken to continuing until you’re covered entirely with a row of cushions.

It hits hour four and you’re still unresponsive. So Bucky asks, “Spit it out: what’s the matter?”

“Hmp,” is the eloquent reply before you turn and face the cushion instead. “Shit world. Shit life. Shit, shit.”

With a roll of his eyes, Bucky stalks forward.

You yelp when he descends, all 200 pounds of him flattening your spine, precariously balanced on top of your body and the pillows he’s laid down. A pathetic wheeze squeaks its way from your lungs as you choke, “B-Barnes– you! BARNES – I c-c-can’t brea—the—”

If he wasn’t so tall, it’d be perfect. Like one of those viral planking videos that blew up the internet a few years ago. Instead, his head hangs over yours, shins resting on the side, feet dangling off. Bucky folds his arms under your collar when you try to pick yourself up.

“What was that? Can’t hear ya,” A pause, “Gee whiz, this couch sure is mighty comfortable today. Life can’t be shit with a couch this nice!”

You can’t even laugh; there’s not enough air in your lungs for it. So instead, you give up. He wins. Burying your face in his forearm, you push down a grin.

“Alright, alright– get off, you big lug. If you lie on me for any longer I’ll shit myself.”

Chapter Text

It lasted twenty-nine days. Just a little more than four weeks before you find out Agent Whatshisface had been going out with a different girl behind your back. When the news breaks over the compound, your face briefly flashes shock before steeling into your usual facade. 

“He’s an idiot,” Steve starts, patting your back. “Wanna go out tonight?” Sam offers. “I’m gonna fire his ass,” Tony threatens.

You only shrug, “Whatever,” and head into your room.

In the corner, Bucky folds his arms across his chest and taps his foot rhythmically. 

The rest of the day passes by smoothly enough and strangely, you show no sign of disappointment or heartbreak. Not even anger– something they all feared. Instead, after dinner, you go for a swim and knot your hair up tightly after a shower. The sun sets peacefully over your serene face before you wave from the door at dusk. “Going for a walk! See you later!” And Nat looks around after Friday bids you goodbye.

“Where’s Barnes?”

Inside the bottom level of the cement parking garage where your ex-boyfriend parks his car, you walk calmly with your knife in hand. Fifteen feet away, that shiny, ugly, maroon shitcan on wheels gleams back at you.

Two large boots stick out behind the right side, body hidden by the metal frame.

When you arrive, you find Bucky already finished cutting the breaks.

“Hey,” He greets flatly, slipping his arm around your waist, as if neither of you are in a compromising and illegal situation, “Let’s go get burgers. Pre-murder makes me hungry as hell.”