“Good morning, Buck,” Steve greeted as he came into the kitchen and headed straight for the coffee pot.
“Morning,” Bucky responded, not even bothering to look up from his bowl of cereal.
Steve didn’t take offense at his lack of enthusiasm though; Bucky was notorious for not being a morning person. Frankly, Steve was surprised to see him out and about this early.
“What are you doing up?” He wondered aloud, after taking a sip of coffee. “You got something planned with Sam for Valentine's Day?” He guessed.
“It’s Valentine's Day?” Bucky asked, then paused and looked up, genuine confusion showing on his face. “Wait — why would Wilson and I be doing anything for Valentine’s Day?”
And now it was Steve’s turn to look confused. Sure, neither Sam or Bucky had ever come right out and said it, but…
“Well, ‘cause, I mean, you’re dating… right?”
“Umm no,” Bucky said, and sort of snorted. “Why would you think that?”
“You two are always together.”
“We work together and we live together,” Bucky said, rolling his eyes. “So, of course we’re always around each other. Hell, if that’s all it takes to be in a relationship, then I guess I’m involved with you and Tasha too.”
Steve wanted to roll his own eyes; Bucky knew very well it wasn’t the same thing.
“Except you and Sam literally go on dates,” he shot back. “The movies and dinner last weekend—”
“They made a new Creed movie,” Bucky interrupted. “We couldn’t miss it. And I got hungry afterwards, because I’m always hungry.” He shrugged. “Us eating together isn’t exactly a newsworthy event.”
Except… in hindsight he guessed it was kind of newsworthy that he had insisted on paying for Sam’s movie and his meal.
Then again, I always insist on paying for Sam, he thought to himself, before it hit him: not exactly helping your case here.
“Okay,” Steve went on, looking as unimpressed with Bucky’s answer as Bucky himself was starting to feel. “But what about a couple of weeks ago when you two went dancing?”
“We stopped at a bar that happened to have a dance floor, so we danced,” he explained.
Only, that wasn’t exactly accurate.
It was really more of a cocktail lounge than a bar. Also, the word “happened” was doing a lot of work. Bucky had taken Sam there because he had done some research and found out they had a live band that played old standards, and Bucky figured it was only right to introduce Sam to his music since Sam was always catching him up on all the music he’d missed out on.
And, okay, maybe now that he thought about it he could see how someone might call it a date. He wouldn’t though, and Sam certainly hadn’t, even if they did only dance with each other all night.
“But you two danced with each other? For hours?” Steve asked, sarcastically. “You and I have been best friends since we were like six, so why haven’t we ever danced with each other?”
“Maybe because you have two left feet, punk,” Bucky replied, then tipped his bowl up to his mouth so he could drain the last of his milk.
“Whatever,” Steve mumbled, but noticeably chose not to argue the fact. “I guess my two left feet are also why you got invited to his parents’ house for Sunday dinner last month, while Natasha and I had Chinese food.”
Now who’s leaving out part of the story?
“In China,” Bucky clarified, more than a little incredulous. “You and Tasha had Chinese food in China while you were there on a mission.”
“Okay,” he conceded. “But it wasn’t like we had been invited to dinner before we got called away on that job.”
“So what?” Bucky shrugged. “You’ve both met the Wilsons a couple of times, I guess Sam just figured it was my turn.”
“It was a Sunday dinner though,” Steve said, giving him a meaningful look.
But Bucky was lost.
“Again, so what?”
“So, large Sunday dinners are a big deal in… African-American culture,” Steve stumbled out awkwardly.
Bucky fell out laughing. “What?”
“It’s true,” he said, defensively. “I watched a whole movie about it once. Great soundtrack,” he added, offhandedly.
“Oh my God, you’re ridiculous.”
Sure, Sam’s parents, and his sister and her family, as well as a few cousins and an aunt and uncle had been in attendance, and the dinner was more of an all day event than strictly a dinner time event, and okay, the meal was amazing and the type of spread that Bucky had thought people only whipped up on holidays, but still… Him being invited couldn’t have been the big deal that Steve was making it out to be, even if he could admit to himself that Sam inviting him had definitely made him feel special.
“Well, what about,” Steve said, but Bucky cut him off that time.
“Give it a rest, Stevie.” He stood up and walked his dishes over to the sink. “I think I’d know if we were dating, and I say we’re not.”
“But are you sure?” Steve mumbled, smartly, before topping off his coffee cup and heading out the room.
Bucky heard him though, and even though he wasn’t about to admit it to his know-it-all best friend, after talking to Steve, Bucky wasn’t quite so sure after all.
Five minutes in and Natasha couldn’t take it anymore. So, she carefully folded down the top corner of the page she was trying to read and called out:
“Either come in or go away, Barnes.”
The sound of footsteps suddenly stopped, and there was about thirty seconds of complete silence before Bucky opened her door and slipped inside her room.
“How did you know it was me?”
She scoffed. “If you think I don’t know the sound of each person’s footsteps who lives here, you’re crazy.”
“Right, I’m the crazy one.”
Natasha turned in her chair and gave Bucky her full attention, looking about as disinterested as she always did when she saw him (or most people).
“You have about two minutes before I stop listening and get back to Scout and Dill, so I suggest you use them wisely.”
“Do you think…” he paused, and rubbed the back of his neck nervously.
Natasha was pretty much the last person he wanted to talk to about this stuff, conversations on romance were her and Steve’s thing; his interactions with her were always decidedly more on the professional end of things. But he’d already brushed off Steve’s questions, and it wasn’t like he could talk to Sam about this. Tasha was his only option left.
“Do I think…” she repeated slowly, gesturing for him to continue.
“Do you think Sam and I are dating?” He blurted out.
“You guys aren’t dating,” she said, lips twitching as if she wanted to laugh.
“Thank you! Steve said—”
“Which is kinda sad considering the fact you’re in love with him,” she interrupted, and gave in to her desire to laugh.
“No I’m not,” he shot back immediately, but he felt as if he’d been punched in his stomach. Love? Who said anything about love?
“Umm yes you are,” she responded. “You follow him around like a puppy, hanging on his every word, while cartoon hearts float around your head.”
“I do not!” He practically spat.
It wasn’t Bucky’s fault that Sam was the most interesting person he’d ever met. Of course he liked being with Sam and hearing what he had to say, so sue him. But he did not make heart eyes at the guy.
“You absolutely do,” she said, still laughing. “Don’t feel bad though, Sam’s totally in love with you too.”
“No he’s — wait, what?” Too much was happening at once. “You think… you think Sam’s in love with me?”
“I think your two minutes are up,” she replied, picking her book back up.
“What? I’m not even the person you should be talking to about this, and neither is Steve. Sam’s into you, and you’re clearly having some sort of meltdown because you just realized you’re into him. Maybe he’s who you need to talk to,” she said, and then true to her word she opened her book and started reading as if Bucky wasn’t even there.
Maybe she’s right, Bucky thought as he let himself out of her room. He had classified it as “hanging out,” but their weekend get-togethers were appearing more like dates now that he thought about it. And up until a few minutes ago, he thought the love he felt for Sam was strictly platonic, but did people really think about their friends the way he thought about Sam?
Bucky had never been in love. Hell, Bucky had never even dated anyone since before he left for the war.
But now that the idea was in his head, he really wanted to date Sam Wilson.
Oh, Bucky was nervous. Bucky was the type of nervous that he didn’t even think he could get anymore. (After everything he’d been through in his life, what more was there for him to feel nervous about?) And yet, here he was standing outside of Sam’s bedroom door, feeling like he might throw up if he went through with this.
But, queasy stomach aside, he was going through with it anyway.
Because, see, he and Sam may not have knowingly been dating, and he wasn’t sure if what he felt was love, but it was definitely something . Something different, but solid and strong. Something that made him happy. Something that brought him more peace than he’d felt in decades. Something that he wanted to hold onto for the rest of his life.
And with that in mind, he took a deep breath and knocked on Sam’s door.
“Come in,” Sam called, and Bucky walked inside, gently closing the door behind himself.
“Hey, man; what’s up?” Sam said, grinning up at him from where he was lounging on his bed.
“Nothing much,” Bucky replied, stepping further in the room. “I uhhh just wanted to talk to you for a minute.”
Sam paused his show and shifted his attention back to Bucky. “Okay, shoot.”
“Remember when we went dancing the other night?”
“Yeah; you moved pretty good for an old dude,” Sam replied, cheekily.
“Please,” he rolled his eyes, “I danced circles around you.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Sam smirked. “What about it?”
“Well, Steve, he umm... he kinda thinks that was a date.”
“He does, does he?” Sam asked, leaning against his headboard and folding his arms across his chest.
An unreadable expression suddenly took over Sam’s face, and frankly Bucky didn’t know what to make of it, but he soldiered on anyway.
“Yeah, actually, he thinks a few things we’ve done together were actually dates.”
“Okay,” Sam said slowly, and got up from his bed. “And what do you think?”
“I think,” Bucky stopped, and took a deep breath. This was what he was there for, but that didn’t make saying it any easier. Especially when Sam’s normally overly expressive face was staring back at him blankly.
“I think I like you a lot,” Bucky admitted. “I think the way I feel about you is so far beyond friendship that I can’t even believe that I ever thought that was all it was. But mostly, I think that a fella as special as you deserves to be one hundred percent sure that he’s being taken out on a date. So, Sam, sweetheart, will you go out with me?” He closed the distance between them and grabbed Sam’s hand.
There was a brief moment (that felt like forever to Bucky) where Sam didn’t appear to be having any reaction at all, but then a brilliant grin broke out on his face.
“Of course I will, Barnes.”
“Wait — really?” It was everything Bucky wanted to hear, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t a little surprised.
“Yes, really,” Sam said, rolling his eyes as he wrapped his arms around Bucky’s neck. “I know you don’t think I take just anybody to Sunday dinner at my mama’s house.”
“So, that’s really a thing? ‘Cause Steve—“
“Do you want to talk about Steve,” he said, carding his right hand into Bucky’s hair while his left hand clasped the back of his neck. “Or do you want to do something else?”
“Baby,” Bucky replied, finally getting with the program, “I want to do everything with you,” he said, and then leaned up and kissed Sam.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, sweetheart,” Bucky said, when they finally broke apart.
“Happy Valentine's Day, Bucky.”