Bucky slides the open notebook across the table to his therapist. Dr. Raynor looks surprised, maybe pleased, too.
“What’s this?” she asks, taking the notebook in her hands. She handles it carefully, and Bucky stops himself from snatching it back.
“It’s a notebook, doc,” he answers, tilting his head, “you wanted examples.”
The truth is, Bucky’s mind has been a mess, going in all possible directions since his realization almost a month ago. He needs to talk about it, he just doesn’t know how. And since his therapist is getting paid to sit in a room with him for an hour every week, he might as well make it worth her time.
He has added more emotions to the list since. Emotions like,
“Yes, yes I can see that,” Dr. Raynor says, her eyes scanning the list. “This is quite a list of feelings you have here. What, or who, makes you feel like this?”
Bucky looks out of the window. The blinds are casting shadows that remind him of a jail cell. The room feels more depressing than his apartment. He went to buy a mattress after Sam’s visit and it’s placed neatly in the corner of the room. He even sleeps in it.
“Sam,” he tells her eventually.
“Your friend Sam?”
“We’re not –,” Bucky starts and stops. We’re not friends, we just work together, he wants to say. He frowns.
“What I’ve gathered, you feel very deeply towards him. And this list seems to have more positive emotions than negative,” Dr. Raynor says. The look on her face is blank as she continues, “Am I right?”
Bucky shakes his head.
He stops. “I mean, yes, I do. You’re right. I just -,”
Raynor hums and closes the notebook, sliding it back to his side of the table. “I am not going to give you relationship advice, James.” Bucky snorts at that. “I’d like you to pick any emotion from that list of yours. Let’s just talk about it.”
Bucky doesn’t need to look to remember the list. “Irritation,” he answers.
“Alright. And when do you feel irritated around Sam?”
Bucky throws his hands in the air. “Always!” It comes out with a laugh. Every time Sam talks to him, smiles at him or even looks at his direction, Bucky wants to punch him a little. Or something.
Bucky spares a look at Dr. Raynor, who is watching him with an amused expression.
“What?” he asks.
“Nothing,” she answers. “Let’s take another emotion from your list. How about worry?”
Bucky snorts loudly at that and shakes his head. “When he’s stupid and gets hurt, I worry. Simple as that.”
“And why do you?” Dr. Raynor asks.
“Because he’s my friend,” he says without thinking, and then shuts his mouth and frowns again.
Raynor nods. “Right,” she says knowingly, and then moves on, “What about the positive emotions, now that we have established that you indeed are friends? Trust, for example?”
Bucky shrugs. “Sam trusts me, I trust him back. It’s part of the job.”
Part of Bucky gets irritated by how blindly Sam seems to trust him. As he has said, Sam always annoys him.
“The job I haven’t cleared you for?” Dr. Raynor asks and Bucky snorts.
“The job you don’t have to clear me for, I’m with Captain America.”
Dr. Raynor taps her pen to the back of her notebook and sighs. “But do you trust yourself?”
Bucky doesn’t answer. He lets his eyes wander the room.
“Right,” Raynor says, “now I think that’s where the problem lies. Your lack of trust in yourself.”
Bucky stays silent, but raises his eyebrows.
“Am I right if I say you get also irritated by the trust Sam is placing on you?” she asks, and doesn’t wait for his answer before continuing, “You don’t trust yourself, but Sam does. Part of you thinks he shouldn’t. You’re constantly irritated by him, because he is there for you and you aren’t used to it.”
Bucky huffs. “Who are you to tell me what I feel?”
“Your therapist,” Raynor says. “I’m not telling you how you feel, James. You have a list of things you feel, I’m only helping you understand why you feel them.”
The words hang in the air for a time that feels like an eternity. Bucky just stares at nothing. Dr. Raynor breaks the silence by clearing her throat.
“Why did you show me the list, James? I’m sure there is a reason, other than giving me an example,” she asks.
Bucky shrugs, opens his mouth and closes it again. He doesn’t know, really.
“I’m a mess, doc,” he says. It’s not an answer to her question, not quite.
“Yes,” Raynor agrees and this brutal honesty is the reason why Bucky hasn’t yet just stopped therapy.
1. You tell doc why you brought it up. Just say it out loud, coward.
2. You leave the conversation there.
And option two sure feels more optimal.
“I’m in love with Sam,” he blurts out.
“Yes,” Raynor says again, and Bucky can’t help but laugh quietly. She is smiling. “Thank you for telling me.”
“You’re not gonna ask me how that makes me feel?” Bucky asks.
“No,” Raynor says. “Our time for today is up. But James, it’s normal to be scared.”
Bucky takes his notebook from the table. He isn’t scared, he wants to say. “What do you know?” he asks instead and gets up from the couch.
Dr. Raynor winks. “A lot more than you think.”
Sam calls him as he steps out, and for once Bucky answers the phone without a second thought.
“You know, next time,” Bucky starts loudly over the blaring fire alarms, “you let me come up with the plan!”
They are running out of the building, or at least that’s their ultimate goal, and Bucky isn’t even sure who is following them but they don’t seem happy. Bucky hates his life.
“Right, because it was my fault these guys decided to join us!” Sam yells to him and catches Bucky by the wrist to pull him to the stairway. “Up!”
Bucky really, really hates his life, but he follows Sam up the stairs. Thank fuck Sam is wearing his stupid wings, he supposes, even if he hates flying with a deep passion.
“This wasn’t quite what I thought you had in mind when you called me,” Bucky huffs. They get to the top and Bucky kicks the door open to get them out. It aches in a way it shouldn’t, but Bucky hides the pain behind his usual glare.
“Yeah? What did you imagine?” Sam asks and takes a hold of Bucky’s left hand. There is a short moment where they just look at each other, and Bucky manages to even panic for a bit, and then Sam grins and spreads his wings. “Hold on, Terminator!”
Bucky hates him so much.
He isn’t scared of falling, but the shots coming from the rooftop filled with bad guys are kind of alarming and Bucky scrambles for his gun. He manages to get in a few good shots before they are too far ahead, hovering over a forest.
“Oh, y’know, I thought you were going to hold on to that promise of a movie night and I was gonna be safely at home,” Bucky eventually answers the question, “not, I don’t know, holding your hand for my dear life! Can you put me down?”
Sam laughs but the sound gets lost in the wind. He flies closer to the treeline and Bucky lets go of the hand he’s holding to drop on the ground. He stumbles, while Sam lands gracefully next to him and takes his wings off to pack them.
Sam throws him a hoodie. “They didn’t get our faces, I think, but let’s be careful.”
“I hate you, by the way,” Bucky says, throwing his jacket to Sam and putting the hoodie on.
“Sure you do, honey.”
The city isn’t far, and they take the casual walk through the forest as a good time to go through what all went wrong in their plan. What was supposed to be an easy run for old Hydra files, became a collision of four different parties looking for the same information. Bucky managed to catch the memory stick and stick it in his boot, but there were approximately three too many shootouts and two too many explosions in a plan that was supposed to have none.
“Hey, at least we have the files,” Sam says and Bucky snorts.
“And about twenty guys are looking for us,” he adds, “and I’m pretty sure I got shot a little. Great planning, Sam.”
Sam looks alarmed. “You got shot?”
Bucky actually checks his leg and yeah, there was a clear hole in his clothes where the bullet had scratched him. He shrugs. “A little, it’ll heal. Point still stands, though.”
Sam raises his hands to surrender. “Okay, bad planning, my fault! But Buck, technically you’re not even cleared for missions, so–,”
“Hey, don’t you go on how I’m not supposed to be here when you were the one who called me and I was the one who got the files,” Bucky says, “and don’t call me that.”
Sam looks like he wants to argue, but he keeps his mouth shut.
They are still going to stand out like a sore thumb, but it’s getting late and dark and with good luck they can get to their hotel without any problems. Hotel room isn’t exactly a safe house, but it’s their only option. (Since someone didn’t do an extraction plan. Idiot.)
Of course it’s just ridiculous to hope for good luck, when it’s them two. But Bucky also knows both of them love the action and things going sideways, sometimes.
“Two behind us, one across the street. One on the roofs,” Bucky says casually.
“Two across the street,” Sam corrects him. “Now would be a good time for that plan of yours.”
Bucky scans the area around them and spots his chance, narrow alley ahead of them. Without thinking more of it, he grabs Sam’s hand and pulls him closer.
“Go along with it,” he says with a low voice as he adjusts the hoodie to cover his face better.
This is a bad idea for two reasons, Bucky thinks to himself as he looks at Sam’s direction. Sam is looking back at him with narrowed eyes, but doesn’t pull his hand away.
1. You are too attached.
2. Sam will figure it out.
“You know that story Steve told, of him and Natasha? When we asked if Sharon was his first kiss since, y’know?” Bucky explains, his eyes still on Sam. They are very close now, with their thighs touching with every step. He sees the realization hit Sam.
“Right,” Sam says. “I hate this plan.”
Bucky squeezes his hand. He could share the sentiment. “When your back hits that wall, laugh.”
He doesn’t give Sam any more warning, backing him against the brick wall as naturally as possible. Sam lets out a giggle, a fucking giggle, and Bucky brings his hand to cup Sam’s cheek while the other travels to Sam’s waist.
They have a silent conversation with just their eyes, and to Bucky’s surprise Sam is the one to move forward for a kiss.
Bucky feels dizzy. He hates himself, he hates the situation, but he loves the feeling of Sam’s lips against his own. It’s hungry, determined, and Sam’s hand is behind his neck holding him in place. It feels amazing.
When he’s sure the guys coming behind them have passed, Bucky forces his eyes open to pull them on the dark alley. They are still pressed together, faces just inches from each other.
There are three facts about the situation:
1. Sam kissed you, and didn’t even hesitate.
2. It was definitely for a show, but,
3. you both enjoyed it.
“I still hate this plan,” Sam says breathless, and they both know he’s lying.
“And I still hate you,” Bucky murmurs, then forcing himself apart from the other man. He’s lying, too.
It’s a detour to their hotel from there, and they walk it in silence.
“Okay, okay, I have to ask. Was that your first kiss since?” Sam speaks with his mouth full of food. They are sitting on the floor of their small hotel room, facing each other. Sam’s laptop is on the other bed, downloading the files they have gathered.
“Yes,” Bucky says, because what’s he going to do? Lie? “Didn’t really have time, brainwashed and all.
Sam looks at him with narrowed eyes. “I don’t believe you.”
Bucky raises an eyebrow, leaning on the wall behind him. They are both staring at each other, now, but when are they not.
“You don’t just not kiss anyone for like, what, eighty years and know exactly how to do it,” Sam says and Bucky lets out a surprised laugh.
“I knew you didn’t hate it,” he answers. “What can I say, some things you just know how to do no matter how many times they brainwash you.”
“Yeah, kiss and assassinate. Two most valuable skills,” Sam says with a laugh. Then he continues, “I never said I hated the kiss, I hated the plan.”
Bucky shrugs, and then breaks their eye contact. He doesn’t know what to say.
Eventually, he asks, “Wanna do it again?” with a small smirk.
Sam almost chokes on his beer, flustered. Bucky laughs. He has said it as a joke, but Sam looks like he’s considering it and the laugh quiets down.
“Not if it’s only for a mission,” Sam says, and it’s that easy, Bucky realizes, talking about it.
“Okay,” Bucky says.
“Okay?” Sam asks.
“I want to,” he answers, “if you want to. I’ve wanted to, for a while. Or, a long while. I think I only realized a while ago. I mean, I only told my therapist I’m in love with you this morning, but I’ve definitely thought of it for a while. For like, a month. Maybe longer, now that I think about it.” Bucky shuts up, he’s rambling.
“You want to?” Sam sounds disbelieving, but pleased, and then asks, “Wait, you’re in love with me?”
Bucky just shrugs again. “Yeah, I guess I am. Don’t know why, either, since you’re an asshole and all.”
Sam smiles. “You’re an idiot,” he says.
Bucky doesn’t hesitate to smile back.
“For what it’s worth, I think I’m in love with you, too,” Sam tells him and Bucky’s smile widens. “That’s why I hated the plan. Wanted it to be real. Guess it was.”
“Yeah,” Bucky agrees, “guess it was.”
Easy as that, huh.
Dr. Raynor will laugh at him when she finds out, Bucky just knows it.