The room is quiet except Bucky’s soft breathing and you are shuffling around, trying to unload your luggage. Same things after every mission, you figure; come home, eat something, take a shower, do the laundry when Bucky sleeps safe and sound. Nothing to complain about, really. It’s the boringness of all of these that keep you happy the most. When the apartment door is closed, it’s a very tiny and happy world.
What surprise you is when you realise Bucky’s not sleeping as he would do usually. His right cheek is squished between his face and the pillow, baby blue eyes are focused on the way you move as you approach him with a glass of orange juice in your hand. “You okay?” you ask, concern sinking into your bones and he exhales. Sometimes it does get hard to come back to normal from what you do for a living even when the missions were not that hard, nor that bloody but it’s not the physical parts that tire him out, and you’re sure he has a war happening inside his gorgeous head.
“I am fine,” Bucky replies, his feet are dangling right outside the bed, his black pyjamas contrasting with white sheets and the pink cover, but he refuses to go under and get some rest. “I just—” he begins to speak, wringing his hands in the meantime. Something’s clearly bothering him and you wait until he lets it all out, not even making any sound to disturb the train of his thoughts.
“It’s okay Buck,” you smile, eyes softly caressing his now small figure. It’s beyond you how a big, beefy man like Bucky can look so small when he wants to. Or needs to. “You can tell me anything,”
He moves on the bed and lays on his back, one arm placed under his head, brown hair framing his face all too beautifully. “I just—” he tries to start again but the words won’t come out. It’s so strange, knowing you so intimately for months and months, sharing a house and a bed, seeing you naked, crying and letting you see the broken parts of him and yet still struggling with opening his heart to you. Bucky doesn’t like it. It’s unsettling for his traumas to come in between you and him like that when all he wants is to bare his soul to you completely. The voices in his head are completely wrong, and he is in no danger sharing how he feels or what he thinks with you. But now, even his feelings have feelings and Bucky hates them all. He is like a huge bucket of feelings —he should never utter these words around Sam or he’ll be stuck with the nickname Bucket forever—, and he is not sure if he’s young enough to let softness reach his insides and make his knees shake. His baby blue eyes find the ceiling and he spends a few minutes watching the grey paint and how you choose the colour, and you’re still waiting, patiently and quietly as if you’re not even in the room. “I didn’t like to act like as if I didn’t know you or love you,” he whispers, every word of the sentence is uttered very softly but Bucky is sure they reached where they should as his eyes rest on yours. Your expression softens and a soft thud lets him know that you’ve placed your glass on the toilet table and he awaits for your touch on his body. Your hand find his wrist, then his leg, and it settles on top of his forehead as you sit on the bed.
“Oh, so this is about the mission?” you tease, but there’s no real meaning behind your words. Your work is your work, and sometimes you need to be fast on your feet and pretend to be enemies with people you love or trust the most but it gets under your skin too. You can remember the harshness in his eyes as he settled the negotiation last night and how he kept clinging onto you in the bed afterwards. That is not a life you want to have, seeing a life you would never survive, a life where Bucky hates you.
He doesn’t waste any time and places his head on your thigh, now his cheek is squished between his face and your leg and of course, you are not thinking how warm he is. Your fingers find his hair, softly brushing them out of his face, you’re sure you both imagine the same scene and the hard, cold feeling hits you both in the same place.
“No,” Bucky replies, his voice is still soft and unsure, and he knows you’re just teasing him to make this easier. “I hate that I had to act like you were my enemy, even when it was for the sake of the mission,” he confesses and wets his lips with his tongue. He doesn’t even want to imagine the past mission, how you and he were not close even when you were in the same room, acting like you were about to kill each other, betting against each other, threatening and being mean. That’s not a life he wants to live, a life where you hate him.
“You’re goin’ soft on me Barnes?” you ask, this time your thumb is on his lips, trailing back and forth until he presses a kiss on your finger and rolls his eyes at you.
“Pretty sure I was going soft on you since we met, babe,” he says and a smirk appears on your face because he just walks right into that one, forgetting how you can bend and twist his words to tease him.
“I thought you were going hard instead of going soft,” you joke, wiggling your eyebrows at him and he elbows your ribs softly and you giggle. Everything settles, the rooms and the rocks and the memories, all the missing pieces of a puzzle are found and then, you giggle and nothing makes sense in his brain anymore.
“Can you not take my cock in your mouth when I’m trying to express my genuine feelings to you?” Bucky says and he regrets saying it before he sees the smirk expanding on your face.
“Oh, I thought you liked your dick in my m—” you try to say but he elbows you again before you get to chance.
“Don’t even finish that sentence!” Bucky warns you and slouches his shoulders. Why is it so hard to talk when he needs his words the most?
“So you don’t want me dickin—” you start to mischief again and this time Bucky doesn’t elbow you but just stares into your eyes, and you can see the emotions piling up in that beautiful tone of blue. You move and zip your lips and pretend to throw away the fictional key. He breathes in and out, and you both settle on not talking until he can come up with a full sentence.
“I think,” he starts to speak and god, does he think. Overthinks, re-thinks, disassembles his thoughts and regroups them. Bucky Barnes lives inside his head more than he actually lives but he decides, it’s time to stop that. “I want everyone to know I love you,” he confesses. “I think I want a wedding and rings, I want you to wear a white dress and I am pretty sure I want Morgan to be our flower girl,” his brows are furrowed and hands gripping your thigh hard because Bucky Barnes wants to get married. He is one hundred and something years old, and it makes him giddy to think about cakes and balloons, invitations and speeches. He is one hundred years old and something more, and he wants to be yours. As much as he wants you to be his.
“Is this a proposal, then?” you ask, careful not to say something you shouldn’t. You would marry him in the blink of an eye, that’s as solid as a rock, you know it from your heart. You would marry him right now, in the city hall wearing pyjamas and all, and you were sure you would marry him a day after your first date. But you would marry him the way he wants the most, with horse carriages and fireworks if they please Bucky.
“No,” Bucky speaks because he’s not one to spring something important to you like this, and sure as hell he’ll make a scene out of the proposal with roses and candles, maybe even fireworks if he can make that happen. “I am just declaring that I’ll ask you to marry me and I don’t want you to be surprised when I ask,
He doesn’t like surprising people. Nor likes to be surprised. Plans and organisations, those are his field, and he is going to spoil you, those are the things you are both sure. Bucky will take you out to choose the dress —he wants to be the first one to see your reaction when you find the one— and he will be there to taste all the cakes in the world until you decide which one will be yours. Life’s good without surprises too, you both figure but you still want to let him know, he’s not the only one who thinks about marriage. Hell, you even think about white picket fence and kids, swings and playgrounds and maybe another summer vacation before the summer even ends but that’s how life goes with Bucky. Only the good moments, the memories you share, are called your life and the bad things have already left, and you make sure they’re dead and gone, nailed in a coffin they could never open.
“I wouldn’t be surprised, you know?” you ask, after an hour or more, spending time just cuddling on the bed, the laundry is forgotten and Bucky already decided what kind of ring he’ll buy for you, and you know what it’ll be. “I was ready to marry your ancient ass when you swooped my feet off the floor after our first date,”
Bucky stops breathing and pecks a kiss on the back of your neck where your hair ends and your skin is soft and places another kiss there before he speaks. “I know,” he says, and he knows. He wouldn’t want to ask if he wasn’t sure you would marry him in a heartbeat. What kind of a person would propose to someone who would actually be shocked with the idea of marriage, anyway? Bucky knows relationships —or at least he thinks so— and he decides it’s better to be sure of someone, or something, than to be shocked and surprised. He settles behind you, hands roaming on your stomach and your arms, and he’s happy and you are too. And he says all these things to you —only to you— because he’s sure he loves you, and he’s sure you love him too.