Steve wanted the best for his team. Everyone knew this. Everyone also knew, despite the stern glares, and general uppity attitude (okay, it was really only Tony who accused him of that in particular) he was a hopeless romantic at heart. One of his favorite muses to draw was couples. One of his favorite holidays was Valentine’s day.
This, coupled with the fact he was a bit socially inept (in other words, despite his master-skills at reading a dangerous situation, he was positively clueless in a friendly one), lead to… Well, this.
“You think who , should date who? ” Tony asked the first time this was brought up. Tony was sitting at the kitchen island of Avengers Mansion while Steve focused on making them both coffee. It had been a few months since Hank’s arrest, and the whole team was on edge. No one wanted to mention the fact Hank, for a number of other reasons, deserved to be in that cell more than the next man.
All to say, morale has been low. Jen Walters wasn’t getting along with Clint Barton - or New York City, to be frank - Jan and Tony had just had their own messy split (Steve absolutely did not smile at the thought), and Thor was… Hell, who ever knew what Thor was getting himself up to.
So it seemed simple… Brilliant, even. “Scott Lang, and Jen!” Steve said again, with just as much gumption as the first time he suggested it. He could feel Tony staring incredulously at the back of his head so he made of show of spinning around and leveling him with a confident smile. “Jen feels kind of lost on the East Coast, so I think she could do with some distraction. And Scott is such a good guy-”
“Does Jen even like kids?” Tony asks, still looking at him like he might’ve sprung an extra head. Steve furrows his eyebrows and asks,
“Oh well… I suppose I hadn’t considered that.” Steve shook off his hesitation with a quick jerk of his head and continued with that airy confidence Tony had taught him to master, “But I’m not saying they should get married . I’m saying they should go on a few dates! See a few films, go for dinner, y’know-”
“Steve it’s you .” Tony corrected with a knowing glare, “You wouldn’t just set people up for a flimsy thing. You really think this would work, don’t you-”
“Oh hush, I can be casual .” Steve waved his hand around as if that would somehow help his case, “I can be hip , and modern -”
“Now you just gotta stop before you pop a blood vessel, Grandpa.” There was a time Steve would’ve been offended by that. But considering the way Tony Stark is giggling (yes, giggling) into his fist and trying to avert his blue eyes from Steve lest Steve catch him snickering (like he just has), he finds it hard to be offended. Hell, he finds it hard to quiet the pounding in his chest, and the rush of blood to his ears.
“Oh forget you,” Steve chides before he could say anything stupid like ‘I love you’ (remember, hopeless romantic and all), “I’ll talk to them about it, you just see.”
As it turns out, Jen was thrilled at the idea. She had no prior knowledge of Scott Lang (hadn’t even known he was Ant-Man) but was both flattered Steve had considered her, and excited to wear her new Van Dyne original pieces out on the town.
Scott definitely hadn’t realized Jen Walters, the sensible San Francisco lawyer, was actually a 7ft tall green woman, but he took it in stride when coming to pick her up from Avengers mansion. Steve watched them from the second story balcony; feigning indifference as he sketched away on a tall easel Tony bought him.
Tony poked his head out of the French doors and hummed, “5 bucks this goes south.” He said. Steve nearly jumps out of his skin at the sudden intrusion but huffs indignantly all the same, “I’ll take those odds.”
Steve continues sketching away. He ends up drawing a tall muscular woman lounging out on the lawn of Avengers mansion. Behind her a strapping, well-dressed man, goes out for a stroll. A few feet off a man practices his archers stance. He’ll add color to it at a later time, but for now, he runs his fingers over his creation and resigns himself to the library for the rest of the evening.
On the other side of town, Scott Lang had tried to be spontaneous and took Jen to the Coney Island boardwalk. Scott ended up eating a corndog too fast and the contents of said corndog returned while they rode the ferris wheel. Which then, as fate would have it, got stuck. So Jen was stuck with vomit across her lap and a bumbling apologist beside her, all while trapped in a tiny confined metal cart 70 ft in the air. Jen might’ve been able to salvage the night if she hadn’t snapped at Scott to stop talking about this ‘Cassie person’ until learning Cassie was his daughter . She was embarrassed and guilty and Scott was still partially donning his own upchuck.
“It didn’t go great, Cap.” Was all she said as she marched to her room. Steve had watched her barrel past with a sort of sad resignation. Tony, who had obviously waited up with him in the library, joined him in the threshold and hummed triumphantly,
“Five dollars, sir?”
“I don’t like that look on your face.” Natalia says. Her green eyes are sharp over the rim of her menu, “It means you’re about to propose something that’s too nice for me to reasonably refuse-”
“You’ve been single for a while, right Nat?” Steve begins over their Sunday brunch. Steve abandoned going to church a long time ago (somewhere around the time they lost Mar-Vell to cancer of all things, and then finding out what happened to Carol… He shudders at the memory, and the lingering guilt that’s been eating him from the inside out) but the social aspects always appealed to him. Like having an excuse to get brunch at noon every Sunday. Sometimes he would meet up with Matt Murdock - the Avengers’ trusted lawyer - at a restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen after Matt had attended mass.
Which was why he’d thought of Natalia. And her single -ness.
“Who are you trying to set me up with, Steve.” Natalia drops her menu back to the tabletop and leans back with a long-suffering sigh. Steve places his own menu down and says eagerly,
“Luke Cage is on the market!” Natalia quirks an eyebrow but doesn’t make to interrupt which is all the go-ahead Steve needs to continue, “He’s kind, and brave, and absolutely hilarious, Nat. He’ll treat you well-”
“I can treat myself well-”
“Yes, yes I know, I’m just saying someone else can also treat you well-”
“I don’t need a date.”
“Yes, I know-”
“I don’t need men .”
“Trust me, Nat, I understand-”
“Give me his number.” Nat held out her nimble hand. Steve was so startled he simply gaped at her for a few seconds before jumping into action.
“Where’d you get that pen?” Nat asks when Steve pulls one out of seemingly nowhere to scribble Luke’s number on a napkin. Steve looks down at the ballpoint pen and feels his face transform into something fond,
“Oh, Tony slips pens into the pockets of my trousers whenever Jarvis does the laundry. He knows I always end up needing one - he calls me ‘old fashioned’ because I like to jot things down. He tried getting me on of his fancy Stark-devices, but my fingers are too ‘meaty’? I dunno that’s what Tony says. Anyways, I can’t really touch the small buttons, so--”
“Jesus and you’re trying to set me up.” Natalia grumbles with a positively withering glare in Steve’s direction. Steve feels his face heat up in a way rather unbecoming of Captain America .
“Now what’s that supposed to mean-”
“Nothing,” She says while taking the napkin from Steve’s hand. “How are things going with you and Rachel?”
Steve feels like a deer caught in headlights for a few seconds.
“Didn’t really -uh.. Didn’t really work out.”
“Go figure.” Natasha says slowly. The waiter comes by and they order their food; the whole while Steve trying to figure out what in god’s name Natalia could be talking about. She quickly changes the subject; her and Steve then launching into a heated - albeit friendly - debate about the state of the economy. Natalia thinks the government should just give back all the money they’ve stolen from the working class, Steve replies it’s not stealing if you live here. In short; a pretty routine brunch between the two.
Two weeks later, Steve and Tony are sparring in the mansion’s gym. Since discovering Tony is Iron Man, Steve feels more at liberty to toss him around a bit on the mat. Tony takes it all in stride (meaning he complains, and complains, and then complains some more all while Steve bites back a chuckle and tries to seem annoyed).
He’s just got Tony pinned under him when the far door swings open and Natalia comes striding in. Steve would recognize the oddly menacing sound of her clicking shoes anywhere.
“Didn’t work out.” She says, coming up beside the wrestling mat where Steve and Tony are still entangled with one another, looking up at her through sweat-drenched fringes.
“Pardon?” Tony asks.
“Cage and I.” She says with a one-shouldered shrug. Steve pushes himself off Tony and sits back on his ass to look up at Nat better,
“Oh Nat, I’m sorry-”
“Not like that,” She waves him off, “he’s incredible in the sack but we’re just different, him and I. He’s all about street justice, and I’m all about-”
“Being terrifying,” Tony supplies, ticking each off with a finger, “sneaking around governments’ backs, threatening to kill people with normally innocuous articles of clothing-”
“Anyways,” Natasha is grinning despite herself, which seems to be a common symptom of hanging around Tony Stark. “He mentioned a friend of his is on the market.”
“Oh!” Steve smiles, “That’s great, Nat! Have you reached out-”
“Let’s just say I’ve been there, done that.” To Steve’s surprise she looks at Tony and says, “Anyways, I gave Matt Murdock your number, Tony. He’s bisexual, you’re bisexual. He’s annoying and talks too much about legal code, you’re annoying and talk too much about robots. I think you’ll get along swimmingly.”
Steve felt like he’d been sucker-punched. Tony was simply staring up at her in both shock and awe. Natasha hums a little to herself and says, “Or unless, of coarse, you have other prospects. ” She didn’t say anything further. Instead turned on her heel and left as if… As if that was normal.
Steve can’t look at Tony. Can’t look at his sweat sheen face, and the wispy array of curls clinging to his forehead. Not his painfully clear blue eyes, or the devilish smirk he’d undoubtably be wearing, or-
Wait, did Natasha say he was bisexual.
“Did Natasha say you were…” Steve says suddenly. Sure he’s a man out of time, but he’s done his research, thank you very much. He wanted to know if queer individuals, were allowed to be, y’know. Themselves. Let’s just say it was important to him.
Tony bristled. “Is there a problem?” He asked. The heat in his tone isn’t directed at Steve. It’s a trained anger - an old, finely-tuned defensiveness that Steve knows intimately well. Steve needs to have a conversation with him about many things. First of all, about his sexuality. Second of all, about the past decade and how Steve’s been hopelessly concealing his own feelings.
But, being the socially inept man he is, what actually comes out of his mouth is; “Would you like to go on a date with me?”
This could be horrendous. They’re in the Avengers together - this isn’t just some potential office romance, this is. This is the goddamn Avengers. And Tony is his best friend. If this makes him so uncomfortable he no longer wants to be around Steve, than what the hell is Steve going to do? Steve loves him, truly loves him and losing Tony could be-
“Yes.” Tony gasps in reply. Because maybe he’s just as socially inept as Steve is.
(Steve vs. Natasha. Round one of the Matchmaking Olympics. Steve 0, Natasha 1).
“How about Rhodey, and Jess?” Steve murmurs so as the people in question could not hear him.
Tony hums, and sidles up beside where Steve is leaning against the kitchen counter of Avengers tower. Tony rests his cheek against Steve’s shoulder and follows his gaze to where he sees Rhodey and Jess in deep conversation. Beside Jess Drew is Carol, sporting her new look (which Steve loves. He’s a sucker for costume designs, always has been, and this one suits Carol beautifully).
“Why do you say that?” Tony asks in a voice just as low.
“Well, they’re always around each other.” Steve says. He looks down at Tony, who meets his gaze and- “You’re laughing at me.”
“No!” Tony says as he laughs: the thing he’s claiming he’s not doing. “No it’s just… It’s cute how clueless you can be sometimes.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” He knows exactly what it’s supposed to mean. It means, once again, Tony is about three steps ahead of him.
“Let’s see…” Tony backs away to pour himself some coffee from the steaming carafe on the counter. He starts musing aloud mockingly, clearly knowing the solution to his elaborate hypothetical and playing this game until Steve connects the dots, “Jess Drew hangs out in this tower with one other person. Her best friend, right?”
“Right. Her and Carol have always been close-”
“Exactly,” Tony gives him an encouraging nod, “so Rhodey, who has known Jessica Drew for longer than Carol, is suddenly now finding an interest in being around her. Suddenly. Out of the blue. And do we not maybe think it’s because she’s connected to someone who, let’s see, was, like Rhodey, in the Air Force? Has his same plucky sense of humor? Has the common skill of both driving me up a wall, and then rescuing me from said wall? Is, oh I don’t know, blonde because Rhodey has always had a type -”
“Carol and Rhodey?!” Steve gasps a little too loud. Jess, Carol, Rhodey, Logan and Peter (who’s still here loitering for some reason) all look to him with mild concern. Tony hides his laughter in his coffee mug - especially when Carol’s cheeks heat up to a shade of red that compliments her sash. Rhodey is sputtering in that cute way he does when he’s been caught. Jess honestly looks relieved.
Steve supposes this doesn’t count as a win for his matchmaking abilities.
Steve had obviously met the Young Avengers before. He just forgot that-
“Did you just… Did you just try to set my boyfriend up with his brother?” Teddy Altman asks slowly, looking at Captain America in utter horror
“Did you just try to set me up with Billy?! ” Tommy practically screams while careening into the training room. Steve opens and closes his mouth a few times.
Yeah he should really give up this matchmaking thing.
“On your left!” Sam shouts through the comms as he flies past Steve, taking out nearly 15 armed guards on his way. Steve sends his mighty frisbee careening through the air like the physics-defying hunk of metal that baby is, and for just a moment Sam misses it.
“Hey Falcon, you busy day-dreaming?” Bucky snickers under his breath. Steve barks at them to focus , and keep the comms clear , but there’s no real heat behind his words. He’s just as excited as them two to be back in action again.
Ever since Bucky moved back to Illinois to start up his… Whatever-the-fuck-it-is, with Sharon, neither Sam nor Steve have seen him. Sure Steve writes him constantly and sometimes hitches a private-jet with Tony, whenever Tony goes to play Dr. Mechanic, but it’s not the same as this. Fighting alongside each other in the streets of Berlin. Punching Nazis. As casual Friday nights go.
Sam never gets to see Bucky, because why the hell would Sam fly to Illinois for anything?
“Yeah daydreaming about you one day taking a damn shower.”
“Woah, Sammy, you imagining me in the shower ?”
“Boys!” Steve barks again, this time sounding actually annoyed which makes the whole thing even more fun.
The Hydra base residing in the Berlin underworld was handled before midnight. Steve is talking with the local police, while Sam and Bucky linger on the outskirts of the crime scene, feeling just a bit out of place now that there was no one to punch.
“So… Illinois been good?” Sam asks. A few years ago him and Bucky had gotten pretty close. After, of coarse, Sam and Steve had practically torn the Earth apart looking for the brainwashed robocop. After that the three of them became something of a unit - Bucky would take random side jobs with Sam, and Steve would always find a way to insert himself with an over-eager gusto. One night, the three of them sharing a few beers at Josie’s in Hell’s Kitchen, Steve had pulled Sam aside and admitted how truly happy it made him to work alongside them. Sure Bucky was his ‘sidekick’ but that bond ran deep. Steve may have been only about a decade older than Bucky, but Steve was born with an older heart. Sam picked up on the way Steve would lovingly tell Bucky how proud he was of him, or the way a hand on Bucky’s shoulder would linger. The way Bucky looked at him like Steve had all the answers. Afterall, Bucky met Steve when he was what, twelve? It wasn’t a surprise to Sam, nor was it out of the picture, to see the father-son bond there.
At first, Sam was kind of intimidated to throw himself into the mix. But Steve never treated Sam like a sidekick, he treated Sam like an Avenger. He scolded him, and sure beat the crap out of him when they’d train together, but it was all for Sam’s benefit. Steve had this uncanny ability to make everyone around him better . That first time - after a jog through central park when Sam finally was able to beat Steve back to the Mansion - Steve tossed his arm over Sam’s shoulder and said through a chuckle, “You’re really giving me a run for my money, son!” Sam realized with a surge of pride he really belonged here. On the Avengers. Training with Cap. Fighting alongside Bucky Barnes. It felt good. Still does.
Initially, Bucky and Sam were never serious around one another. Bucky liked to make bird jokes ( “Hey Sam, that pigeon there your cousin?” ) and Sam was constantly sticking gaudy magnets to Bucky’s arm without him noticing. They weren’t really close friends. Not the way Bucky and Steve were, or Bucky and Nat. Sam didn’t mind.
That was until Steve died. Bucky took up the shield, and Sam vowed he’d be the Bucky to his Cap . He said as much, and Bucky had set his jaw, looked Sam dead in the eye and said, “I don’t need a Bucky. I need you.” and it had felt far too intense a line for their brand of friendship but Sam felt it too. They needed each other. For a while Sam thought it was the feeling of being orphaned - the two of them lost in the world without Steve . But it… It wasn’t.
Sure, fighting alongside Captain America, no matter the man behind the mask, felt just as awe inspiring. But late nights in the New Avengers headquarters, when Sam would occasionally drop in to drink IPA’s with Bucky, were different than nights spent with Steve. Sam always thought there was something in the way Bucky’d look at Sam when he thought Sam wasn’t looking. Something in his blue eyes that might’ve been loss, but it also might’ve been… Well, Bucky was dating Natasha at the time so it didn’t matter. Plus, Sam didn’t swing that way, and Sam was almost positive Bucky didn’t either. It was wartime, and tensions were high and whatever , it was probably nothing anyways.
Then Sam was Captain America. And Bucky, without hesitation, was at his side. It went kind of the same, except different. This time Sam was dating Misty, so the looks were… Why was Sam even thinking about that? It was nothing. Nothing at all.
“Earth-to-birdbrain,” Bucky was saying slowly, very much in the present. Sam shook his head and turned to Bucky with a, “Say again?”
“I was askin’,” Bucky says with a small grin, “how Misty was doing?”
“Oh!” Sam says, pretending he definitely heard that, “We-uh… We split.”
Bucky’s shit-eating grin dropped like a ton of bricks. His eyes went gentle, and Sam thinks it must be all the yoga he’s been doing lately. That’s why he’s suddenly so good at this feelings-stuff. Or maybe the meditation. Or the cat . “I’m sorry, Sam.”
“No worries,” Sam shrugs, “you know the life. She had to move, I had to… Fly around with some metal wings. It was doomed from the start.”
Bucky harrumphs and says, “Not everything has to be ‘doomed’, Sam. You’re a catch.”
“Well I know that .” Sam waggles his eyebrows; which had its desired effect and Bucky rolled his eyes with that small grin that’s so familiar. Just then, Steve returned to their small gathering on the side of the road. He looked tired, but satiated. The sign of a good fight won. They took their three-man party to a nearby pub, where Bucky grabbed him and Sam their usual IPA’s, and Steve his classic whisky on the rocks. A classic celebratory drink that Steve only indulged in when he was alone with them (he wouldn’t drink so much as a beer when around Tony, and there was hardly a time when Tony wasn’t around).
“Well, cheers to getting the gang back together.” Bucky says while tipping his glass to the other two.
“Cheers to getting your ass back from bumblefuck Illinois .” Sam says. Bucky has that little grin again that Sam can’t seem to look away from. Eventually he does, for decorum's sake, and the three continue drinking and recounting stories from the few months since they’ve all last been together.
Somewhere between Sam raving about the new bird feed he got for Red Wing, Bucky explaining Tony’s new upgrades to his arm, and the third round of drinks, Steve says;
“Oh! I’m glad I got you both here, I just remembered something!” The two other men look to him expectantly, already wearing their skepticism like a mask because they’ve known Steve long enough to know this can’t be good- “I wanna set you both up on a blind date!”
“What .” The two former Cap’s say in unison to the one, absolutely beaming and present-day, Cap before them.
“Yeah! Look, Buck, there’s this fella I met at the V.A’s office. Smart, funny, and he works as a commercial airline pilot so travels a bunch. He can visit you in Illinois! And Sam,” Steve then turns to him, “There’s this incredible dame I met at the hospital the other week, when Tony and I were there for a St.Jude’s fundraiser. She’s a pediatric oncologist which - yeah, dark job - but incredibly gifted, and with a wicked sense of humor. She even managed to land a few jabs against Tony.” Steve is laughing at the memory.
Both Sam and Bucky are kind of speechless. Bucky takes a long sip of his drink, and Sam is simply reeling because…
“I didn’t know you were into… Fellas .” Sam says, biting back a laugh at the term. He always felt like he was in an old western when Steve got all 1940’s on them. Bucky, still looking down at his amber drink, shrugs nonchalantly,
“Fellas, dames… Nice person’s a nice person, who am I to be picky.” He says, as if it was as simple as that.
“Oh… Oh my god, I thought Sam knew…” Steve is saying slowly; his eyes gone as wide as the coaster collecting the dew off his glass, “Buck, I’m so sorry I didn’t mean to out you-”
“Steve, stop,” Bucky says. Sam knows that look; Steve is spiraling, “it’s Sam , I’ve been meaning to get around to telling him I just haven’t found the right time. Kinda a weird thing to just throw out there right? Like hey, Sam, how’s the bird? By the way I’m bisexual. ”
“That sounds perfectly normal to me.” Sam says, “Especially considering Red Wing’s a dude. You saying you wanna fuck my bird?”
“Alright,” Steve takes back control of the conversation, “either way, sorry, Buck. You should’ve been the one to tell him. Anyways, we’re all gonna be in New York for the next week while we wrap up this Hydra stuff, so I thought you two could have your dates on Friday?”
Steve looks damn giddy , and who is Sam to tell him no, right? He’s Captain America. Sam nods in assent, as does Bucky. Bucky’s smile looks a little tight, and Sam wonders on it a moment before getting up to buy them another round.
Sam stands at the bar and thinks about Bucky with a guy. First of all, this guy has to be able to call Bucky out on his shit. Fine, Bucky can drink all his tea and his nasty green juice all he wants but he deserves to get crap for it. Tea and liquidized vegetables are fucking nasty . And the goddamn cat. Sam has only met it once, but it’s a small cuddly demon . Its fur got all over Sam’s clothes, and Bucky refused to say anything other than “Aw, Sam, she likes you!” for like fifteen minutes straight. Maybe Sam is only thinking like this about a guy because this is what he’d assumed Natasha did. Sam nods astutely to himself and doesn’t think further on it.
(Doesn’t think about the fact Bucky needs a guy who’s been by his side through the thick of it. Doesn’t think about the fact Bucky needs a guy who’s sharp and funny, but also gentle and observant. Someone who only playfully mocks Bucky’s Jesus-hair, because he knows the long-hair is a coping mechanism. Someone who doesn’t even mock the journal or the meditating, because that someone is the one who recommended the journal and the meditating. And now, fuck, Sam is getting lost in the hypotheticals and he’s drunk enough to admit he’s talking about himself, right? He’s talking about himself being with Bucky?)
“Nope.” Sam says aloud when the bartender hands him his round. The man gives him an odd look, but Sam just shakes his head as if that’d clear this bizarre exchange up. He tosses down a truly generous tip and takes the round back to the table where the conversation has (thankfully) shifted back to Tony and Steve and whatever weird new old-person thing they’re doing now.
“You did what?” Tony asks slowly, trying not to reveal just how much he wants to ring Steve’s neck.
“I set them up! On blind dates!” Steve laughs all merry and clueless; like some awful version of Santa Clause that specializes in trying to ruin people’s love-lives. And is also buff, and hot, and nothing at all like Santa Clause.
“I set Bucky up with that guy, Greg, from the V.A.’s, and Sam with Claire from the hospital.” He says while continuing to idly straighten up their living room. It was an odd week because most, if not all, of their friends are in Manhattan, and so Steve went ahead and sabotaged yet another potential budding romance. Tony bites his tongue but he wants to say this is like that time he set up Jess and Clint, or Tigra and Danny Rand, or Steve and any-person-who-wasn’t-Tony-before-Nat-had-to-intervene.
But he doesn’t, because Steve hasn’t looked this relaxed and happy in months. Things were finally settling down for them, what with Tony back in a physical body, and Steve having no pressing and life-altering qualms to deal with. All their friends are relatively safe and in one piece. It’s nice, and if Steve wants to think he succeeded in making his two closest friends as happy as he is then. Fine. Tony will let him have it. Even though every instinct inside of him wants to yell at him for being goddamn clueless .
So the next morning, Tony goes to Carol instead. Well, more like he called her about 16 times, texted her double that, and then ended up just knocking on her door. 15 knocks per 10 seconds.
This was all in the span of five minutes.
“Jesus, Tony, what the fuck-” She growls, tearing open the door. She’s in pajamas, her hair a hot mess and- oh right, it’s 7 in the morning.
“I need your help setting two very nice, very kind, very hot people on blind dates.”
Carol looks at him through her tangled blonde hair. Her blue eyes are crusted over, burning with an annoyance that could easily lead to him getting a photon blast to the face in a few seconds.
“I brought you coffee.” Tony says, holding up the travel tray he had in his free hand, “And a bagel. And my undying love, and friendship, and admiration, and wow did you do something with your hair? It looks amazing. And I think you’ve gotten more fit since I last-”
“Shut the fuck up, Tony.” She takes the tray and steps aside so he can walk in to her place. Funny, Carol thought moving out of Avengers Mountain and into her own place would mean she’d be able to have more ‘down time’. What an absurd thought, Tony mused, had she forgotten Tony was her best friend?
Tony made himself comfortable on her couch, and cooed at Chewie who was busy glaring at him with her usual feline-indignation. Carol comes in a few moments later; her hair now out of her face, and most of the crust cleared from her eyes. Her pajama pants are red, and littered with tiny yellow Iron Man helmets. A gift from Tony she had vowed she’d never wear.
“Alright, so what are you talking about?” She asks, sitting across from him on an armchair closer to the window.
“Steve is trying to set Sam and Bucky up on a blind date. But not with each other.”
Carol takes a sip of her coffee before asking, “Is that… A problem?”
“Yes, Carol! Do you even listen to me when we go on our morning walks-”
“-I told you, Bucky told me he likes Sam.”
Carol snaps her fingers, her eyes momentarily going wide while she gasps out, “Oh shit , yeah! You did tell me that… But, wait he didn’t tell you he likes Sam-”
“No he hinted at it very suggestively. He said he wasn’t really looking to date casually , and then said he’d need someone who understands him-”
Carol started unwrapping her bagel and scoffed down at it, “Tony that hardly means he meant Sam .”
“But it does.” Tony says confidently, “Look, CareBear, for all that Steve lacks in romantic intuition, I make up for it. How’d I know Rhodey had the hots for you? Or that Thor was interested in Jen? Hell, I met Gambit once and knew he’d end up with Rogue. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, the second Spidey met Johnny Storm I knew--”
“Alright, alright.” Carol waves him off, speaking through a mouthful, “So you think Sam and Bucky-”
“I know Sam and Bucky. So now it’s just a matter of setting up those two poor civilian souls Steve tried to set Terminator and Bird Brain up with, with someone else . All the while we get Sam and Bucky to go on a blind date with each other .”
Bucky straightened his tie for probably the third time in the span of just as many minutes. He feels ridiculous, sitting here at one of his favorite Italian restaurants in Tribeca. He’s in a properly secluded area of the main dining hall, waiting for his mystery date to turn up.
The location had changed fairly last minute, and oddly enough it was Tony who told him that the plans had changed. Bucky didn’t question it; largely because he didn’t want to be here, anyway. He was really just doing this for Steve. Steve who can never be content when just himself being happy; he needs to make sure the rest of the goddamn universe is too.
It wasn’t Steve’s fault he couldn’t read minds. How could he know Bucky only took the job in Berlin because he heard Falcon was on the job? How could he know Bucky only agreed to stay an extra week in Manhattan because he hard Falcon would be hanging around, too?
So Bucky is in love with Sam Wilson. Whatever.
Though Bucky hadn’t realized it, it started the first time they worked a job together just the two of them. Bucky was still quiet and jittery; it had only been a few months since his psyche break from Hydra. He hadn’t felt comfortable around anyone but Steve, but Steve was busy fighting Iron Man or something, and Falcon needed the help. Bucky had been waiting in a SHIELD holding room when the wall beside him exploded. He would’ve been concerned, but like clock work a handful of angry looking pigeons fluttered into the room. Bucky remained sitting, waiting.
“FUCK , fuck, fucking SHIT!” a voice screamed. Barreling in came none other than the Falcon. He was being swarmed by birds, covered in feathers, and tumbled onto the ground at Bucky’s feet like the world's worst delivery service. Bucky just stared down at him. Baffled. “No, no don’t help or nothin’!” Sam screamed, “Please, keep sitting there you piece of shit!”
Turns out some big bad guy had turned the birds against Sam which was as hilarious as it sounded. Bucky hopped in and had to literally punch a few birds for Sam who had the nerve to look insulted on behalf of the demon pigeons. That was when , actually. Bucky, after swatting a bird away, looked over at Sam.
Sam was standing, still covered in feathers and small bleeding scratches. His mouth was hanging open, his whole face morphed into pure righteous fury . “Dude!” He had cried, breathless, “It isn’t the damn birds fault, you dick! Just… Shoo ‘em off!” His tooth was chipped. His nose bleeding. Oh fuck, I think I love this guy , Bucky had thought and then the thought never left.
“Oh… Oh no way.” A familiar voice said behind him. Bucky craned his neck and-
“I… I thought I was getting a hot doctor, not a homeless… You.” He says, motioning to all of Bucky’s person.
“And I thought I was getting a hot pilot, not a bonafide furry.”
Sam’s face scrunched up in confusion, “Who the hell taught you what a furry was?”
“Black Panther.” Bucky deadpanned and Sam, unable to contain it, laughed so hard the patrons surrounding them turned to look at him.
Sam, though tentatively, took the seat across from Bucky. “So Stark texted you-”
“And changed the plans for my date,” Bucky says, and the pieces start to click. Of coarse Tony would pull some shit like this.
“As he did for me.” Sam nodded, as if in resignation, “So is this like… A joke, or something? Us going on a date for like… A prank?”
Bucky shrugged and took a sip of his water, “I dunno. All I do know is that Stark said I could use a Stark Industries company card for this, so I say we treat ourselves, yeah?”
Sam grinned, that lopsided, toothy grin that makes Bucky’s insides go hot. “Yeah, why the hell not.”
Three Weeks Later
“Hey Sam!” Steve says over the phone. Sam groans a bit, sitting up in bed and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes in some desperate attempt to match Steve’s energy.
“Morning to you too, Steve.” Sam says while biting back a yawn. Steve continues on, as if not realizing he called at 6 in the morning.
“Look, I wanted to apologize again for what happened with Claire… Who could’ve known she’d run into Natasha so conveniently before your date? And then who would’ve known Natasha had a thing for doctors, right? Ah, I’m really sorry, Sam-”
“Steve, don’t worry about it.” Sam says for the 500th time since that night. He felt a little guilty, not telling Steve that-
“But I’m calling to redeem myself.” Steve says, and he sounds a bit winded. He must be going for his morning jog and thought of Sam. On any other day, Sam would be with him, but Sam had a job in the midwest and which other Avenger would go handle it other than one who basically had an airplane strapped to his back? “I met this great lady in the C.I.A, I think you’d just love her-”
“Steve,” Sam sighs. He’s really gotta tell him. He knows Steve won’t be angry - hell, he’ll be thrilled . But it’s 6am, and Sam just wants to go back to sleep . “You know what just… Why don’t you run the idea by Tony.”
“Great idea!” Steve chirps, “He always trusts my matchmaking abilities. Afterall, who was the one who set up him and myself, right?”
“Well that was Natasha-”
“Me, of coarse.” Steve says, with a satisfied sigh. Clearly completing his run. Sam rolls his eyes and smiles. Delusional old man. He means the best.
“Alright, Steve, let me get back to work here, alright?”
“You betcha, Sam. See you when you’re back on the East Coast!” Steve hangs up, and Sam returns his phone to his night table. He slips back under the covers and sighs.
A moment later, a metal arm lands across his chest and gently curls its fingers into his hand. “Run what idea by Tony?” Bucky’s voice is groggy and hoarse. Sam loves his morning voice.
“Steve’s setting me up with some lady in the C.I.A.” Sam chuckles lightly into his pillow. Bucky lets out a blow of air that was basically his morning-equivalent of a laugh.
“Oh, funny you say that, because I apparently have a date with a hot young FBI agent next week.”
Sam shakes his head against the pillow and shuts his eyes against the early sun shining through Bucky’s bedroom window.
Even despite Steve’s meddling, Sam found a reason to visit Illinois afterall.