He called Sarah first.
"Something happened," he said, breathless with excitement, still not quite sure that it was real.
"Is that so?" she said, sounding amused. "Tell me all about it."
Some of his excitement died. "You know?"
Her laugh was bubbly and happy. "Everyone knows Sam. I watched the video like a million times. I'm so happy for you."
"Obviously, I would've preferred it if it didn't happen like that, but I understand that's your life now and..."
"Did you check that the ring was clean and safe, by the way? It didn't look very sanitary now that I think about it. You should wash it."
She paused. "Yeah?"
"Would you let me speak?"
He could practically hear her smile across the phone. "I'm listening."
Sarah, bless her, at least made an effort to sound shocked when she shouted, "Congratulations!"
Despite his earlier promise, Steve would not stop gloating. It was probably because he had Sam there alone, meaning he and Bucky couldn't threaten him with anything.
"I knew it," Steve said. "I knew you'd work it out."
"You did not know we'd end up engaged."
"Well, maybe not, but I did know you'd be happy together for sure," Steve insisted. "It was such a lovely video, Sam. It really just touched me right here." He patted his chest with one hand and pretended to wipe away a tear with the other.
"I'm glad you saw it," Sam said, only half-sarcastically.
"Really did appreciate the knocked-out Hydra agents in the background. It truly pulled the whole thing together."
"Yeah, I thought so too."
"Too bad there won't be a wedding."
Sam froze. "What?"
"Seeing as the two grooms are going to kill each other before the wedding in their battle over who gets to have me as their best man." He shook his head sadly.
"Oh, you think you're invited to the wedding?"
"There's no need to fight over me boys," Steve went on, as if Sam hadn't said anything. "You're both equally pretty."
"Your old ass isn't getting anywhere near the wedding. Can you even walk out of this building without breaking something?"
"Unfortunately, at the end of the day, I have known Bucky the longest, so I'm afraid Sam..."
"Okay, that's it." Sam got out his phone. "I'm getting Bucky here. You're going to see things that'll make you unable to fall asleep tonight."
Note to self: Bucky and Steve have been friends forever and they're both assholes, and when they're combined with one goal, they're the absolute worst.
So Bucky got Steve as his best man.
Not that Sam wanted that old man anyway.
"You keep telling yourself that," Bucky laughed.
"I'm leaving you for Rhodey," Sam said.
"We never did get to release that sex tape, did we?" Sharon mused, watching the engagement video on her phone.
"There's still time." Bucky winked. "I'm not tied down yet."
"This is why I need better friends," Sam said.
"So who's going to get me as their best man?" Sharon asked, a dangerous edge to her voice. "You better be fighting over me."
Bucky and Sam glanced at each other.
"Almost killed him last night."
"So I'm guessing Steve is going to be Bucky's best man already?" Sharon concluded. Then she shrugged. "So I'll take Sam."
"Okay, you say that like I'm some sort of leftover and I resent that." He slapped the table decisively. "Just for that, I'm picking Rhodey instead."
"No, you're not," Sharon said.
"No, I'm not," he agreed, deflating. "He can be a groomsman I guess."
"You know what? It'll be fun to meet old uncle Steve again."
"This is going to be the weirdest wedding," Bucky muttered to Sam.
"You're telling me? Wanda alone mis a whole mess, and Clint's bringing his entire brood with him plus some extras."
Bucky frowned. "What's wrong with Wanda?"
"I'll explain later."
"Aw," Sharon said, watching the video again. "You really broke that man's arm so easily, Sam. You need to teach me that move."
"I taught him that," Bucky said proudly.
"There is no way in hell there is going to be a single camera, journalist or spy at my wedding," Sam told Higher Up Lady.
"Half your co-workers are spies," Higher Up Lady pointed out. "And you literally got engaged on camera."
"I didn't know about the camera," Sam half-lied. He hadn't actually thought about it, but he supposed if he'd paid more attention he might've seen it. "Either way, this is private and I don't want anyone sticking their noses in."
She sighed. "I guess I should just be happy everyone's got their clothes on in this one."
"People still found a way to complain about it though," Sharon said, reading the comments. "Apparently Sam's too violent, and being surrounded by people you just beat up isn't romantic enough for a proposal."
"Again," Bucky said, "are Nazis really people?"
"Aren't you going to tell us not to get married?" Sam asked Higher Up Lady. "I get that it helps the image to have me in a committed relationship, but having Captain America married to a man still can't be very well received."
"Obviously, everyone's against it," she said. "But at this point, Sam, you've helped save the world and the country like twenty times. You literally just saved my life last week with those damn robots."
"They really don't stop, huh?"
"Do whatever you want, Sam. Wear the suit and the shield at the wedding and have a fucking orgy. I don't even care anymore."
"Do you wanna come to the wedding?" Sam asked.
She smiled at him, the first genuine smile that he could ever remember seeing. "I appreciate the offer, but there is nothing you can say or do or pay to make me go to this wedding. I have had enough of your personal shitshow."
Sarah watched the video, Steve watched the video, Sharon watched the video, Rhodey watched the video, the whole damn world watched the video. But Sam didn't. He didn't have to. He remembered it perfectly.
They'd found another Hydra camp, because those fuckers never do stop, and this one was in the desert of all places. Because of course it was.
He and Bucky had handled it, but it'd been a bit more of a challenge than last time and by the time they had the last man on the ground Sam was exhausted. Their backup was coming to help them arrest the agents involved and get them home, but they were still a few minutes out and Sam really needed to lie down.
He found a table covered in whatever illegal research they'd been doing and cleared it out, lying down on his back on top of it, taking a moment to close his eyes and feel his muscles relax.
"You good?" Bucky asked.
"Perfect," Sam said. "Just tired."
"Getting old on me?"
Sam flipped him off.
Sam laughed, dropping his hand.
"Hey, Sam," Bucky said, voice softer.
"I love you."
"Yeah, yeah, you too."
"No, I mean..." He went quiet.
Sam cracked an eye open and saw that he was standing with his back to Sam, staring up at the Hydra symbol painted on the wall.
"These people hurt me," Bucky said carefully, clearly doing his best to keep his voice steady. "They hurt me and made me into someone I'm not. Someone dangerous and cruel. Someone who didn't deserve love."
"No, just let me finish." He took a deep breath. "I thought I'd become someone who didn't deserve love or happiness. And yeah, Steve helped me with that. He made me feel worthy of friendship, worthy of being saved, but you... Sam, you made me feel loved and happy."
Sam sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the table.
"Now I stand here and I look at that, and I still feel afraid. I still feel cold and disgusted with with all the things that I did. But I don't feel like I don't deserve to be happy anymore. I don't feel I don't deserve to be with someone like you."
Sam didn't know why it was that particular moment that had him do it. He just felt the overwhelming need to ask him, right then and there. To let him know that this love was forever.
The room had basically been smashed into pieces and he found a piece of metal wiring that had gone loose. Grabbing it, he wound it around his own finger until it became ring-shaped, and then placed it in his open palm.
"Bucky, I love you."
Bucky turned around just as Sam fell to his knees.
"Do you want...?"
"Oh, hey, no!" Bucky jumped back, sounding horrified.
Sam's heart fell down to his knees. He felt like he'd been in the chest. He could hardly breathe.
"I don't think this is the time, Sam," Bucky said apologetically.
"No, I get it." He curled his fingers around the ring. It made sense. Bucky had needed a long time to be able to even say 'I love you', so Sam really shouldn't be surprised that he wasn't ready to get engaged yet. Or ever. It was possible Bucky just didn't want to get married at all, and Sam... Well, Sam could live with that, couldn't he? "It's fine, Bucky, forget about it."
"Don't be so disappointed. I know this is bringing back some memories," Bucky chuckled, "but we're surrounded by knocked-out Hydra agents who might wake up at any moment and I'm pretty sure that camera is still recording and our back-up is going to be here soon, so unless you want to get caught with your pants down in front of all of the people we work with plus the world, again, we should probably save it."
Sam suddenly realised how this must look and quickly scrambled back up on his feet. "Jesus, Bucky, I'm not trying to give you a blow job."
"Then what are you trying to do?" Bucky asked, confused.
Sam didn't respond right away. Bucky stared at him. Sam stared back, unblinking.
"What have you got in your hand?"
"Nothing, we don't have to..."
"Sam," he repeated, stricter.
Sam reluctantly lifted his hand and opened it.
"I couldn't help myself, I had to ask. But it's fine, we don't have to... Mph."
Bucky basically jumped onto him, wrapping his arms around his shoulders and kissing him until he couldn't breathe.
"Are you kidding me?" he shouted angrily between kisses. "Now?
Sam laughed. "Yes. Now."
"I thought you said ten years! If I knew it was allowed sooner, I would've done it already."
Sam was a bit confused about the ten years part, but he still grinned at him. "You thought I'd let you have all the fun? As if."
"Fuck you, Sam." Bucky pulled back. "You are the worst." He held his right hand up between them, letting Sam slide the ring on, the metal dark against his skin. "The absolute worst." He pulled him in for another deep, biting kiss.
Of course, that had to be the moment that the back-up arrived, guns blazing, to find Sam and Bucky all wrapped up in each other.
Sam couldn't find it within himself to care.
"You don't have to keep using the window, you know," Sam said, lying on the floor next to his bed. "You live here. You have a key."
"I know," Bucky said, lying on his back on the bed, his arms and legs spread like a starfish. He was still panting, something Sam was feeling very smug about. "I just like the noise you make when you're surprised."
Sam hit him half-heartedly on the arm that was dangling off the bed. "You suck."
"Well, you're not wrong."
Sam snorted, rolling over on his stomach. He'd already tried to get Bucky to make room on the bed several times, but he was unmovable. Sam rested his head on his folded arms, looking at Bucky's dangling hand. There it was, the harsh, metal ring that Sam had slipped on him. He could stare at it for hours.
"Sarah told me I should clean it," Sam said. "She might have a point. Or maybe I should just get you a new one."
"Sam, I love your sister, but she's wrong. If anyone tries to take it off, I'll kill them."
Sam grinned, secretly pleased. Yeah, it was a hunk of metal that he'd gotten out of a Hydra facility, but it was his hunk of metal. He'd made it for Bucky and it meant a lot that he wanted to keep it.
"What did you mean by ten years, by the way?" Sam had to ask.
"Don't you remember, we had that conversation about the future and stuff? You said, you know, maybe in ten years, once you've handed over or retired the shield, maybe..." He trailed off.
"That conversation was about kids, not marriage," Sam recalled.
"Yeah, I know, but I figured... Forget it." Bucky finally got off his back, rolling to his side so he wouldn't have to look at Sam.
Sam's lips spread into a wide grin. "Wait, you want to have kids with me?"
"I do not," Bucky said, voice muffled.
"Yes, you do," Sam teased. He climbed up on the bed and shuffled forward until he was pressed against Bucky's back, their legs tangled together, his head resting against his shoulder. "You doooooo."
"Now, is that how you speak to your future husband and father of your children?" Sam admonished him.
Bucky groaned loudly. "Why am I even with you?"
Sam kissed his cheek. "I've got no idea, but I'm so glad that you are."
Bucky twisted his head back so he could look Sam in the eyes. "I love you."
"I love you too. I can't wait to marry you."
"Neither can I." Bucky made a face. "It's terrible, isn't it?"
Sam kissed Bucky lightly on the lips, breathing him in. He never wanted to let him go.
"It's an absolute disaster and it's all your fault."