Steve’s always loved this time of year. This year it’s even more important to him. Bucky’s come back to him. He smiles at the thought while looking around the Christmas tree lot, Bucky’s off a bit ahead of picking out a tree for the apartment. Steve watches him for a minute, and then goes off to find Jaime and her friends; they came along to get one for, her grandmother Abigail, who is Steve and Bucky’s oldest friend. He helps them get it loaded onto the roof of their car and tells them to drive safe. That earns him an eye roll, but it gets him a quick hug too. He goes to find Bucky and is surprised to find him helping a family tie the tree he’d been looking at to their car.
“Thought for sure we were going to be taking that one home,” he says coming up and putting his arm around Bucky’s waist.
“We were, but well, their little girl really wanted the tree. And I just… well… we can find another one.”
“We can. Come on I found one over here,” Steve says taking his hand.
“Steve this tree is missing half its branches,” Bucky says in a tone that says, ‘we are not getting this tree.’
“I like it. It reminds me of the tree we had the Christmas before the war, when it was just you and me. And we…” Bucky kisses him.
“And we strung popcorn on it for decoration. All right, punk, we’ll get this one. You’re a sap you know that, Rogers.”
“You love me anyway.”
“I do,” Bucky says pecking him lightly on the lips.
Steve beams at him. This is what he’d always dreamed of once he woke up in the future. And then Bucky came home and things were rough. There had been times Steve wasn’t sure there was light at the end of the tunnel. But standing here now, buying the first Christmas tree they’ve bought together in over seventy odd years he realizes everything this summer got them here. So, he supposes, in a way, it was worth it.
“Stevie, you’re thinking too loud again,” Bucky says pulling him back to the present.
“Sorry. Come on I want hot chocolate.”
“Marshmallows and whipped cream?” Bucky asks, and Steve just nods ignoring the look on his face. If he doesn’t he’s going to get angry about it all over again.
“Hey, punk, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I’m all right.”
“You’re also a horrible liar. I wasn’t asking in that ‘can I have those’ way, at least I didn’t mean it that way. I meant ‘I’m getting those on mine. You want those on yours too’ kind of way,” Bucky says squeezing his hand lightly.
“Oh. Come on. Let’s go get the hot chocolate. I’m pretty sure they’ll hold the tree for us.”
“We could always pay for it, then swing back to pick it up after.”
The manager agrees to have it tied to the roof of Sam’s SUV by the time they get back with their hot chocolate. Steve’s fairly sure they’ve gotten a better deal on the tree than they should have. He just can’t tell if it’s because he’s Captain America or if it’s because no one was going to buy their tree anyway. Bucky gives him a look that says ‘don’t question it.’ They go and get hot chocolate. Bucky insists on paying, saying Steve paid for the tree. Steve just shakes his head but lets him.
They get home and find Jaime and her friends having a horrible time getting Abbi’s tree into the building. Bucky tells them to get out of the way, and then picks it up with his left hand, throws it over that shoulder and brings it upstairs. Jaime and her friends’ chuckle at the noise Steve makes. He has the decency to blush furiously. When Bucky comes back downstairs he asks what’s going on. The girls just giggle and dash up to help Abbi put the tree where she wants it.
“You want to explain that… oh… really, Rogers? That get you all flustered?” Bucky teases.
“Shut up, Barnes. Come on we’ve still got to get our tree upstairs. Then I’ve got to go bring the SUV back to Sam.”
“Yes sir, Captain America sir,” Bucky teases again.
Any retort Steve is going to give gets swallowed in the kiss Bucky gives him. Steve thinks that if a kiss could be filled with promises of things to come than it would be this one. He moans into it and presses himself up against Bucky. Bucky pulls away with a peck on the lips and rests their foreheads together.
“As much as I’d love to ravish you in the doorway, I’m pretty sure everyone else in the building wouldn’t appreciate it. Now come on. You go up and unlock the door. I’ve got the tree. Least this thing is good for something,” Bucky says. It’s light and if Steve didn’t know Bucky better he’d think he was making a joke.
“Hey,” Steve says cupping his cheek.
“I’m fine. Really. Go on.” To Steve’s surprise the smile reaches Bucky’s eyes; and Steve thinks maybe he was making a joke.
The rest of the day is spent decorating the tree. By the time they’re done its dark out and Steve decides to just leave it on. Sinatra is singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in the living room Bucky’s in the kitchen fixing them dinner and Steve smiles at the fact he’s singing along with the Christmas music while cooking. He watches from the doorway for a second before he has to go into the bedroom, suddenly overcome with emotions. He sits on the bed and stares at the pictures of them above the mantle not sure what’s wrong. That’s where Bucky finds him half an hour later when he comes to get him for dinner.
“Stevie?” Bucky asks crouching down in front of him.
“Hold me,” Steve requests. Bucky hops up and sits next to him and takes him into his arms.
“You all right, punk?” Steve shakes his head.
“I didn’t think I was ever going to have this. Not now. And then you came back and I still wasn’t sure. I mean…” Bucky kisses him softly.
“Sorry. I’m ruining the mood.”
“Nah. But come on. Dinner’s ready.”
“I love you.”
“Love you too,” Bucky says standing and pulling Steve up with him. He kisses him softly then leads him to the living room.
“You tryin’ to romance me Sergeant?” Steve asks when he sees the living room. Bucky’s added a few candles to go with the tree lights.
“What if I am Captain?”
“It’s working,” Steve says as he sits down on the floor.
They have dinner and Bucky cleans up quick then he goes back out into the living room and pulls Steve into his lap on the couch. Steve stretches out a bit and they cuddle while looking at the tree. Just letting themselves be. Bucky kisses Steve’s shoulder or neck occasionally and Steve snuggles in every once in a while.
“So what does my guy want this year for Christmas?” Bucky asks.
“I don’t know. I mean I got my Christmas present really early this year. You know, Pepper asked me that first year I was back if I wanted anything. Tony insisted we all come to the tower for Christmas. I told her she couldn’t get me what I wanted. I was pretty sure no one could. She dropped it, Tony of course pressed the issue. I snapped at him. Asked him if he could build a time machine. Everyone was there. I stormed off. Nat came and found me. I told her what I wanted was you. I just wanted you back. Not that she understood how I meant. She told me recently she thought I just meant my best friend and she kicked herself when she realized what I really meant. I’m surprised the Sinatra record doesn’t have a hole in it where ‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’ is I played it so much that year,” Steve finishes quietly.
“Stevie,” Bucky says kissing the back of his neck.
“Sorry. I’m ruining the mood again.”
“Nah. Well, now that you’ve got me back, there’s nothing else you want?”
“I’m on my own got it.”
“What about you?”
“A quiet day, just us. I don’t think I’m up to having everyone around. Not this year. I want to be a little selfish have you to myself. I was thinking we could exchange gifts with everyone the Saturday before Christmas. Have a dinner party here. But I just want you to myself for Christmas.”
“We are such saps,” Steve says with a chuckle.
“Yeah we are,” Bucky says chuckling himself.
“Looks like I’m on my own then too. I don’t know how you’re going to top my birthday anyway.”
“I’ll think of something. You okay?” Bucky asks kissing the back of Steve’s neck again.
“Yeah. I don’t know what that was. Just got to be too much for a second. This is gonna sound stupid but I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and it’s going to have all been a dream.”
“Doesn’t sound stupid. It’s why I get so clingy sometimes. If I’m touching you I know you’re really here.”
Before Steve can respond there’s a knock at the door. He gets up and opens it to find almost all of the kids in the neighborhood there. They want to invite him out for a snowball fight. Joe, who’s one of the older kids, says they figured with him being sick all the time, he probably never got to have a snowball fight. Steve tries to beg off, wanting to spend the night with Bucky curled up on the couch. Bucky however, is standing behind him putting his coat on him before grabbing his own.
They head out and Steve wonders when it started snowing. A few of the kids tell him this afternoon. Melissa’s snowballs aren’t reaching very far at all so Bucky goes over and shows her how to pack it really tight. Then he throws it for her, hitting Steve square in the face. Steve answers by throwing one at Bucky and soon the two of them are engaged in their own snowball fight. The kids all make a circle around them with half rooting for Steve and the other half rooting for Bucky. It goes on for an hour before the kids are being called inside. Bucky throws one last one then pulls Steve by the scarf in for a kiss. Steve thinks it’s filled with that promise of things to come.
“Let’s get back upstairs, jerk,” Steve says, and blushes at the sound of his voice.
“Yeah. Yeah, come on.”
Steve pulls Bucky inside and kisses him as they go up the stairs. He barely gets the door open before Bucky’s yanking his jacket off. Clothes get strewn throughout the living room. They make it to the bedroom and Steve puts the brakes on. He doesn’t want to rush this. Bucky kisses him softly and rests their foreheads together. Steve runs his fingers through Bucky’s hair, loving that he’s let it grow out again. Bucky arches into the touch and moans when Steve massages his scalp a bit.
“Come on, handsome. Let’s go take a bath. I’ll wash your hair.”
“Steve, I’m okay. I am.”
“Yeah, well maybe I want to pamper you a bit.”
“Okay, if you insist,” Bucky says, but Steve hears the silent ‘thank you for knowing me so well’ at the end. He kisses him softly.
The rest of the night Steve spends showing Bucky how much he loves him. Bucky curls around Steve later and rests his head over his heart and kisses him softly. This time Steve lets the ‘thank you’ slide. He knows Bucky was with him the whole time.
They wake the following morning and Bucky insists on returning the favor. Then he makes Steve chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Draws him a bath. Steve drags him into it with him and they end up spending the day in bed. Bucky gets up and makes them lunch and then dinner but for the most part it’s just a quiet day at home.
The month goes like that, the two of them reveling in just being with each other, and soon it’s almost Christmas. Steve still has yet to figure out what to get Bucky and he’s fairly certain Bucky’s just as lost when it comes to him. They’ve got gifts for everyone else and the party is set for Saturday night. Steve is pacing the living room trying to think of something to get Bucky when his phone rings.
“Hello?” Steve says, it’s not a number he recognizes.
“Captain Rogers, this is Vicki, Jaime’s friend. I’m at Macy’s with Bucky. You might want to get down here. I mean he’s okay. But not. Store was a little more crowded than he expected I think. He’s not really saying. Jaime and I’ll stay with him till you get here.”
“I’ll be there soon as I can. Thanks.”
He gets to the store forty five minutes later. Bucky’s sitting at the Starbucks on the third floor. Vicki and Jaime are sitting with him and he’s talking to both of them; trying to get them to go finish their shopping. He goes over and drops a kiss to the top of Bucky’s head.
“Stevie,” Bucky breathes out. Steve thinks he sounds a bit relieved.
“You’re okay. I’m right here. I’ve got you. I love you,” Steve says, using the one thing that’s always gotten through to him.
“Can we go home? Too many people,” Bucky says; and while it’s clipped sentences it’s not exactly the Soldier.
“Course we can, handsome, come on. Girls, I don’t know how to thank you.”
“No biggie. You sure you’re gonna be okay, Bucky?” Vicki asks. To Steve she seems reluctant to leave.
“I’ll be okay now, yeah. Thanks you two.”
“Knock it off, Barnes,” Vicki says as she gives them both a nod.
“Sorry Bucky, I know she can be a bit much,” Jaime says as she heads off. Bucky just waves her off with a smile.
Steve takes Vicki’s vacated seat and takes Bucky’s hand. He rubs over it with his thumb until Bucky looks over at him. He then goes to stand but Bucky keeps him where he is.
“Thought you wanted to go home.”
“Let me just calm down a bit more. Shit. Steve I haven’t… it hasn’t been that bad in a while. It came out of nowhere. I don’t even know when Jaime and… her friend showed up. I don’t remember them getting me here.”
“You want to stop at the tower, talk to Sam or Bruce?”
“No. I’m okay now. Though the shopping trip was a bust in more ways than one. I still don’t have anything for you. And if this is what happens you’re not going to get anything.”
“We need to find a mirror. Cause I already told you I got my Christmas present really early this year.”
“Love you too, Buck.”
“Excuse me,” someone says suddenly.
Steve turns to find one of the sales girls standing in front of their table. She’s holding a bag, which she hands to Bucky. She explains that he’d bought something but then the panic attack hit and Jaime and Vicki had been so focused on getting him somewhere that they forgot to grab it.
“Thanks,” Bucky says taking the bag.
“No problem. I put the receipt in the bag for you. Have a merry Christmas.”
“You too. Thanks.”
“Why do I get the feeling you were already having the attack and you have no idea what you bought?”
“Because you’re right. All right, let’s take a peek.”
“No! Just wrap whatever it is up. I’m sure it’ll be fine. You ready to go?”
That night Steve worries Bucky’s going to have nightmares but he sleeps straight through until he wakes up for their morning run. Which now that it’s winter they’ve turned into a walk through the neighborhood before stopping at the Starbucks to grab coffee. Bucky kisses him softly then hops out of bed. He pauses when he realizes Steve hasn’t moved.
“You… Oh Stevie. You stay here and sleep. I’ll bring you back something,” Bucky says quietly, before kissing a sleeping Steve’s forehead.
He goes into the closet in the hall first and checks the Macy’s bag. It’s not as bad as he thought. Though he’s not sure he’s got the size right. It looks like it might be a tad too small. Then again these days Steve likes his shirts small, so it may be just right. He puts it back in the hiding spot, which if he’s honest isn’t much of one, though Steve’s promised not to peek, and heads for Starbucks.
Bucky gets back to Steve on the phone with someone. Bucky smiles because Steve’s trying to come up with something to get him for Christmas. He wonders when Steve’s going to realize he could just get him a paper sack filled with snow that would melt five minutes after it came inside and he’d be happy. He goes over and puts Steve’s coffee on the table then kisses his cheek before disappearing into the bedroom.
Bucky shuts the door and locks it then goes into his top dresser drawer. He pulls out a black box and opens it. He’s still amazed they were found. He doesn’t remember the fall. But he could have sworn he’d had them with him. They’re going to need to be cleaned up though. He’s just not sure where he can get it done. He grabs his phone and calls Pepper. As much as he’d like to do this on his own, he wants someone he knows is good.
“Good morning, you. I just got off the phone with your other half,” Pepper says by way of greeting.
“I figured. Look, I managed to get something from the Smithsonian. I need to get it cleaned up a bit. Any chance you know someone in Manhattan who could do it on short notice?”
“Actually, I have someone right in Brooklyn for you. West End Jewelers. Tell them I sent you. You should have it by Christmas that way. If not I’m sure you can figure something out.”
“I can yeah. So you planning on giving me a hint?”
“Not a chance. Talk to you both on Saturday.”
The rest of the week Bucky barely sees Steve during the day. But every night he comes in arms full of bags. Bucky says nothing. It’s two days before the party when Steve finally asks if they’re going to exchange gifts with each other at the party too.
“Nah. I was thinking we could just do it Christmas Day. We already told Pepper we weren’t going to the tower for dinner anyway. Unless you wanted to.”
“No, Christmas day is fine. Come cuddle?” Steve asks. Bucky goes and settles in his arms.
“You okay?” Bucky asks. Something’s been off with Steve and he can’t figure out what.
“Just want to cuddle my fella in front of the fire, jerk.”
“Steve, I know you better than I know myself most days. Something’s bugging you.”
Steve kisses him in response and Bucky thinks maybe Steve really did just want to cuddle by the fire. They fall asleep trading lazy kisses. Bucky wakes an hour or so later to find the fire’s burned itself out. He cuddles Steve even closer and goes back to sleep.
The day of the party arrives and Bucky is more nervous than he expected to be. Steve tries to ‘help’ and Bucky ends up kicking him out of the apartment for the rest of the afternoon. Steve gets back just as everyone is settling in. His arms are loaded down with packages. Bucky pecks him on the lips and says nothing.
“Everything looks perfect,” Steve says coming behind Bucky and wrapping his arms around him.
“Yeah. Food seems to be going over pretty well too,” Bucky says quietly. Steve kisses the back of his neck and Bucky settles against him.
“Love you,” Steve whispers into his skin.
“Get a room would you?” Tony calls from across the room.
“Shut it, Stark,” Nat warns as she winks at them.
“I think it’s sweet,” Jane says, smiling as Thor drops a kiss on the top of her head.
Gifts are exchanged and the only one not happy with theirs is Tony. He says he thought for sure they were all only getting invitations. Everyone else groans and hits him. Bucky goes into the bedroom without anyone noticing, or so he thinks.
“Buck?” Steve asks coming into the room.
“I’m fine,” Bucky’s lying through his teeth he knows. He hopes Steve doesn’t.
“I know we haven’t talked about it since the summer, but I still want that.”
“You do?” Bucky asks, surprised.
“Course I do. Buck, it’s always been you. Peggy knew it. Look, after… well… after you fell, she came to me said she loved me enough for both of us. Said she’d marry me. She knew I loved her, even if it wasn’t in the same way I loved you. I just… well I wanted to give you time to figure out who you are now. I’m sorry if I made you think…” the rest of what Steve’s going to say is swallowed in the kiss Bucky gives him.
“Ready to head back out there?” Steve asks when Bucky pulls away.
“Yeah. Look, I’m sorry…” Steve quiets Bucky with a kiss.
“Don’t. It’s okay. I love you.”
“Love you too.”
They head back into the living room to find everyone but Sam gone. Sam’s just putting the rest of the food into the fridge when they come into the kitchen. Bucky frowns.
“Snow’s getting worse. I only stuck around cause I knew you guys would let me crash on the couch.”
“Oh. Yeah of course you can. I’ll…” Steve kisses him softly.
“It’s okay. Deep breath okay. Why don’t you go hop in the shower. I’ll get stuff for Sam.”
“Steve,” Bucky says cuddling into him a bit. Steve notices Sam go into the hall and get the things to make up the couch himself.
“You all right?” Steve asks concerned.
“Yeah. I’m gonna go shower. Clear my head a bit.”
“Wait just one second. I love you,” Steve says kissing him again.
“I love you,” Bucky says when they part.
“That been happening a lot?” Sam asks, once Bucky’s in the other room.
“No. He had a panic attack at Macy’s the other day. He’s been a bit off since then.”
“You know Tony didn’t mean to pressure you guys right? We just all thought you would have asked him and set a date.”
“Let me guess he and Clint have a bet going,” Steve says angrily.
“Yeah. Although, with the way Bruce flared up tonight, I’m almost convinced it got called off.”
“Did the big guy come out?”
“No, but his eyes went green. He was about to.”
“How did you all calm him down?”
“Of course,” Sam chuckles softly at the tone in Steve’s voice then outright laughs at the glare that earns him.
“Uh oh Sam what did you say? That’s his ‘I’m going to kick your ass face’. Got to admit I’ve missed it,” Bucky says coming out of the bedroom in sweats and a hoodie.
“A bet. They made a bet,” Steve mutters under his breath, going over and resting against Bucky.
“Sam, we’re going to say good night,” Bucky says leading Steve into the bedroom.
“Come here,” Bucky says once he’s settled on the bed.
Steve curls into Bucky and kisses him. He shifts so he can hold him and then smiles into Bucky’s hair. Bucky goes to grab a hair tie from his night stand but Steve stops him. They lay wrapped around each other in silence for a bit and Bucky thinks Steve’s fallen asleep when he speaks quietly.
“I can’t believe them.”
“Stevie, relax. It’s all harmless. We’ll just take the money for us. Or we’ll get Pepper and Nat to gang up on them and put it towards the wedding. No harm done.”
“You’re not…” Bucky kisses him.
“Stevie, it’s okay. I’m okay.”
“You just…. I don’t want you to feel pressured.”
“I don’t. They’re idiots. I know you’ll wait. And it’s not that I don’t want to. I do. I just want to be more comfortable. Not have panic attacks in major department stores.”
“I think that makes you perfectly normal. I ran into the sales girl from Macy’s earlier. She asked if you were okay. I told her crowds bothered you. She said she completely understood. Said that’s why she shops super early in the morning. And never on the weekends. Said to tell you during the week in the morning was better.”
“I’ll have to remember that for Valentine’s Day,” Bucky says shifting so he can kiss Steve.
“Get some sleep, handsome,” Steve says when they part.
“Not sleepy. Want to cuddle.”
Steve smiles at the fact Bucky’s already half asleep. He kisses him softly and shifts to hold him more. Bucky wakes with a start at three. There’s someone in the apartment. He’s about to go on alert when he remembers Sam stayed over. He wraps himself more around Steve, who runs a soothing hand through Bucky’s hair even though he’s still sleeping.
The next morning Sam’s gone when Bucky emerges from the bedroom. Steve’s up wrapping presents in the living room and jumps to hide everything. Bucky wanders into the kitchen laughing as he does so. Steve beams at his back, even though he can’t see it.
“Punk, tell me you didn’t try to cook in my kitchen,” Bucky calls over his shoulder.
“’Course not Buck. Sam just scrambled up some eggs,” Steve says, but Bucky can tell by his tone he’s lying.
“Want to try that one again?” Bucky says leaning into the doorway. Steve gulps.
“I was trying to be a good host. Sam wanted eggs so…. How bad did I screw up?”
“C’mere,” Bucky says crooking his finger. Steve goes to him immediately. There’s something in Bucky’s eyes. Steve can’t put his finger on what it is, but he likes it.
When Steve reaches him Bucky kisses him senseless. Steve leans against Bucky for a second before looking at him. Steve isn’t sure he likes that look. Bucky takes his hand and steers him into the kitchen.
“All right, let’s see what you’ve learned. Make me some scrambled eggs.”
Steve smiles and does so. But he makes an omelet instead. Bucky is impressed. He arches a brow at Steve, who just smiles back at him. Bucky finishes his breakfast and sets about doing dishes. Steve goes back to wrapping presents. By the time he’s done the tree has a good haul underneath it.
“You don’t think you might have gone overboard do you?” Bucky asks later that night, when they’re snuggled up on the couch.
“Nope. Have a lot of time to make up for.”
“I need to go back out tomorrow morning then. Wasn’t aware we were getting each other gifts for every year we missed.”
“Buck, you… I can return…” Bucky kisses him softly.
“Don’t. It’s all right. I just wasn’t expecting you to do all this. I can handle it. I’ll just get to the stores early enough that the crowds won’t be a problem. And I can always call one of the girls to go with me.”
Bucky ends up going out on Christmas Eve. Steve worries because he knows how crowded the stores can be. But he knows the pile under the tree has grown quite a bit since the day he put his gifts under. When Bucky gets back late in the afternoon, looking exhausted and with only a bag in each hand he wonders what took so long. But he doesn’t say anything. He goes over to Abbi’s for a bit to see about getting her to come for dinner. When they get back Bucky’s cooking and the pile looks even larger. Steve shakes his head in amazement.
They have dinner with their friends from the neighborhood. Melissa, one of the little girls in the neighborhood, who’s quite fond of both of them, gives them a present. It’s pictures she’s drawn of the two of them. Bucky immediately puts them on the fridge causing her to giggle happily. Everyone stays till it’s time for them to head for Midnight Mass, which Bucky’s decided he’s going to. When they get home, Steve collapses onto the couch and is asleep in minutes. He knows Bucky joins him at some point but he’s not sure when.
He wakes the next morning to Ella singing Christmas songs and the smell of breakfast. Bucky brings him his coffee and then sets breakfast out on the coffee table. Steve can’t believe the amount of food and wonders out loud if Bucky’s planning on inviting people over after all.
“Shut it, punk. This is called… well…. I…. um…” Steve kisses him.
“I think so? I mean I don’t feel like I had an episode. But then I did cook enough to feed us and all the Commandos so who knows.”
“It’s fine. I mean I wasn’t planning on eating again till dinner anyway. Cause I know you’ve got a feast planned for that.”
“I do. You sure it’s okay?” Bucky asks a bit nervous.
“It’s perfect. I was just surprised is all,” Steve says, kissing him senseless. When they part Bucky’s smiling widely.
“So, I say we have breakfast then start opening these gifts. Otherwise we might be here till New Years. I think we might have overdone it,” Steve says with a chuckle.
Bucky just kisses him. They finish more of the food than Steve thought they would. They wrap up the leftovers then start on the gifts. Bucky makes Steve open what he’s come to think of as the “panic attack” sweater first. Steve has him open one and to Bucky’s surprise it’s the same sweater in a different color. Bucky can’t help but laugh at that.
Steve gets him one of Tony’s tablets. Bucky gets Steve a laptop. And while Steve thinks it’s a bit much he doesn’t really complain. There’s clothes, and Bucky gets Steve the watch he’s had his eye on. Steve gets Bucky the pots and pans set he’s been debating buying (‘Stevie they’re way too expensive’) as well as a few cookbooks. They hit the middle of the pile and Bucky starts to sense a theme every box is empty. He arches a brow at Steve but doesn’t say anything because Steve arches his own brow. Finally they’re down to two gifts each. They’re small and Bucky insists Steve open one before the other. Steve does so and gasps.
“I don’t know how. I decided not to question it too much. I mean I was going to just get you yours back. I mean I figured you ought to get to have them. Stan, the security guard at the Smithsonian, said they had mine. I don’t remember much about the day of the fall. I mean I don’t know maybe I wasn’t wearing them. I did have the wool coat on. Maybe the way they sat wasn’t going to be comfortable. Or maybe because of the mission I didn’t wear ‘em. I had JARVIS confirm they were mine. I mean I know you can…,” Steve kisses him hard.
“You didn’t wear ‘em. None of us did. Phillips insisted. Said it was too dangerous as it was. He said he’d send an extraction team in if things went south to get our bodies. I…. they….. Buck,” Steve goes and just wraps himself around him.
“I didn’t do this to upset you. I just…. The guys used to write their girls they were gonna give them to them. I had this memory of all of us around a fire before you got there. Denier and Falsworth asked me if I had anyone back home I wanted to have them. I said no. I had to. I couldn’t say you. But…I wanted you to have mine. You’re my guy,” Bucky says kissing him.
“Okay open this,” Steve says handing Bucky one of his gifts when Bucky ends the kiss.
“We really need to stop doing the whole thinking alike thing.”
“I don’t mind it. So, Sergeant, you willing to wear my tags?”
“To the end of the line,” Bucky says kissing him.
“All right so this one needs a little explaining after you open it,” Bucky says handing Steve his last gift.
Steve opens the box to find a ring. It’s a silver band and Steve notices it’s got sgrjbb4e inscribed on the inside. He looks at Bucky and then the ring a few times. He tries to speak and can’t. Then he practically tosses Bucky his last gift. Bucky opens it to find the same ring inside. His has I’m with you till the end of the line inscribed.
“Mark and Greg talk to you too?” Bucky asks with a chuckle.
“Yeah. I was… it was when you hit that rough patch in October. I went out for a run and ran into them and the dogs by their building. They asked what was wrong. Guess I wasn’t hiding it well. I mentioned wanting to let you know I was gonna always want to marry you. That I wanted forever with you. They suggested a promise ring. I can’t believe we picked out the same rings.”
“We didn’t. I don’t think. When I was looking at rings yesterday the sales girl didn’t let me really choose one. Said she knew the perfect one, and gave me this one.”
Steve takes the ring out and slides it onto Bucky’s right hand. Then kisses him senseless. Bucky puts Steve on his and soon they’re wrapped around each other on the couch trading lazy kisses while Christmas music plays in the background.
“Merry Christmas, Buck,” Steve says when they part.
“Merry Christmas, Stevie,” Bucky says kissing him again.
Steve wakes a little while later, not even realizing he’d fallen asleep, and just beams like an idiot. This is what he’s wanted for Christmas since he woke up. Back then he hadn’t really dared to give it much thought. Then Bucky came home and he let it simmer in the back of his mind. But there were times he wasn’t sure it was going to happen. But now, laying here wrapped in Bucky’s arms, he knows everything they went through was worth it. Steve has what he’s wanted for Christmas since the day he realized he was in love with Bucky Barnes; and it’s more than he could have hoped for.