Bucky gets the call at the same time that news of the G20 attack reaches all of the major stations. He and Sam don’t have time to plan beforehand, which means no comms, just some vague notion that they’ll find each other in the thick of the action. It also means that Bucky unfortunately doesn’t get to see Sam put on the new wings and suit.
He’s not saying he’s looking forward to it, but, well. He’d be lying if, after the last couple of days of him and Sam speaking their piece about the shield and Steve, effortlessly passing the shield between them like a well-oiled machine, he hasn’t been thrumming with excitement at the prospect of a proper team-up. The wings had meant a lot to Sam, and so it’s been a long time coming, is all. And Bucky wants to be there, at Sam’s side, letting Sam know that he’s there to stay. No more running off and no more unanswered texts.
Tragically, the way their reunion actually goes down is less than ideal.
Bucky can see the shield flying at him in the distance, catches it easily with his left hand, and uses it to knock back one of the Flagsmashers – the knifey one. Sam touches down a second later, and in retrospect Bucky places this as the moment that it all goes downhill.
Sam lands on one knee before rising slowly, and it feels like someone’s placed a vacuum directly into Bucky’s lungs. He passes the shield back to Sam without a word.
Wakandan tech was sleek – he’d known that. Obviously, the material of Sam’s old suit had been bulkier, thick enough to be practical against all manner of knives and bullets, but unwieldy and certainly not form-fitting. The new suit, though, clings to Sam’s body in a way that accentuates the contours and curves and muscles of his torso and chest that Bucky had known were hidden under the looser clothing Sam usually preferred. It's just that seeing it all on display is a little more overwhelming than he'd expected.
Even in the muggy summer air, Bucky’s usually fine with the heavy leather of his uniform and the way his tac pants aren’t the most breathable, but right now he can feel the sweat pooling on every surface of his skin. And as if that’s not enough, the vibranium hugs Sam’s thighs and calves. It’s really, really not a visual Bucky needs right now. And okay, he gets that Sam needs the suit to be as aerodynamic as possible, he just feels like Shuri went a little overboard with the fit, that’s all.
Sam folds his wings in neatly and Bucky just stares at him, slack-jawed and stupefied. At least Sam doesn’t seem to pick up on his struggle yet.
And then Sam grins at him, radiant and bright and at exactly the same moment that knifey Flagsmasher decides to deck Bucky clean in the side of the face. Vaguely, he hears Sam shout his name and can hear the sounds of the ensuing scuffle behind him. He turns around in time to see Sam subdue the Flagsmasher with a clean uppercut to the jaw and a smash of his new wings that sends the guy flying into the side of a building.
God, he looks so damn good. The white of the suit is a nice touch against the more subdued blues and reds, Bucky thinks hysterically.
“What happened?” Sam asks, concern coating both his voice and eyes.
“Um, just a little distracted,” Bucky says quickly.
“That’s not like you,” Sam says with a frown. “You okay with what we’re about to do?”
“Yeah,” Bucky says, and then immediately wants to put his fist in his mouth when he says, “the new suit looks good on you.”
Sam doesn’t seem to make the connection, though, because he grins, pleased and brilliant and true, and it immediately feels like someone’s taken a sledgehammer to Bucky’s knees, sends his heart fluttering.
“You’re looking good, too,” Sam says, nodding, even though Bucky’s not wearing anything but his usual combat attire. He can already feel his cheeks burning, and it spreads up to the tips of his ears. Had they ever complimented each other before?
Sam needs him to be focused when they take on Karli and Walker, and he’s swooning like he’s a schoolboy with his very first crush again.
“The conference is way downtown. Let me give you a lift,” Sam says. He extends a hand. Bucky’s brain short circuits.
“What?” Sam says defensively when Bucky takes a second too long to answer or move or do much of anything, really.
Realistically, Bucky knows flying is the fastest way to get to where they’re desperately needed, it’s just he also knows the only way Sam is going to be able to carry him while flying is with a bridal carry.
Bucky swallows. “Nothing,” he says. “Let’s do this.”
He grabs Sam’s hand and then Sam’s lifting him and they’re flying high above the city lights, Bucky nestled snugly against Sam’s chest. Jesus Christ. He prays to a god he doesn’t believe in that he can keep it together until the mission is over.
When all is said and done and Sam gives his big speech to the press – God, he’d sounded so dignified and looked incredible – Bucky staggers back to his apartment and turns on his phone again.
The only message he has is from Shuri, and it’s just a looped GIF of Bucky getting decked in the face. That in itself wouldn’t have been so bad had it not been for the fact that Sam had also been in the frame. It’s clear for all to see that Bucky’s gawping at him. Dammit, the video footage it’s created from is grainy – likely a security camera – and somehow Bucky still manages to look besotted and enamored in it.
Great. He wonders how much of a bribe it would take for Shuri to scrub the entire video from existence, or at the very least, prevent it from ever reaching Sam’s phone.