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I just couldn't say it out loud.

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“Are you flirting with me?”

“Yes?” Bucky tries. It comes out like a question, and Bucky clearly notices. (Some part of Sam’s brain, the only part not stuck on, “Holy shit, holy shit,” points out that that’s a good thing.) He scowls, lifts his chin like he’s daring someone (defiant, that one part of Sam’s brain supplies) as he says, “Yes,” firmer, deeper.

And yeah, okay, Sam’s going to need a moment to process that, because. Holy shit.

He didn’t mean to say it. He didn’t. The plan’s always been to keep his damn mouth shut. He’s been doing pretty good. Hell, it was almost habit. But then there was Bucky, in his kitchen, still putting his hands through his hair like he expected there to be more of it (it's been weeks since he’d had Natasha cut it – not as short as it was in the old photos, but short; it's a damn good look). Leaning across the breakfast island with his stupid little half-smiles and fucking eyelashes, and – and Sam’s mouth had gone and opened itself without his fucking permission.

Except Bucky said yes, and Sam – Sam’s honestly having a hard time processing that.

He takes too long trying, obviously, because Bucky’s shoulders hunch up around his ears and his jaw goes tight. He doesn’t look at Sam, and this time, it’s because his eyes are fixed firmly on something over Sam’s shoulder. “It’s fine,” he says, shoving his hands in his pockets. Takes a step back, and Sam has to stop himself from reaching out to pull him back.

“Hey, no, wait – ” He stops, forces himself to take a breath, because this needs to be done right. Steve probably won’t ever talk to him again if he fucks this up. He’s pretty sure Natasha would skin him alive.

More than that, Bucky deserves it done right.

“You wanna go get coffee?” is what comes out this time. Could have been worse, he figures.

Bucky actually looks at him, eyes meeting his for a second before skittering away. “What?”

Sam doesn’t look away. “Coffee. A date.” He keeps his voice level, steady, but it feels like there’s sand in his mouth and his pulse is ringing in his ears, scarily similar to freefall, and Bucky’s got to hear it. Enhanced hearing, and all that.

Bucky almost scoffs; Sam’s going to take that as a good sign, even if he still isn’t looking at him. “I know what a date is,” he mutters, shoving a hand through his hair to hook it behind his ear. The surprise that flashes across his face when it falls back twists in Sam’s chest. “You’re asking me on a date.” Not a question, this time, but not sure, either.

“If you want,” Sam says. He watches Bucky’s shoulders ease as he ducks his head, a move he recognises from the Smithsonian footage.

When Bucky looks up, meets Sam’s eyes and keeps looking, his smile isn’t as crooked as before. “I want,” he says, and Sam breathes.