“Are you and uncle Sam married?” It’s AJ who asks, with his mouth full of food and pointing at Bucky with his fork. Sarah chokes on her water and Bucky’s eyes divert to Sam, who looks back with wide eyes. There is a small smile playing on his lips, though, and Bucky feels his face heat up.
He turns to the boy, clears his throat and shakes his head. “Uh, no, we’re not.”
AJ looks… disappointed? He is frowning with his whole face, still watching Bucky. “What do you mean?”
And what the hell is Bucky supposed to answer that? Sam is shaking with laughter next to him and Sarah is still coughing and Bucky wants to disappear under the table away from the prying eyes.
“Uh, well,” Bucky starts and then shuts up to find the words. He turns his eyes to Sam, who just smiles. Stupid Sam.
Cass points at him with a knife. “Mr. Jones called uncle Bucky Mr. Wilson,” he says matter-of-factly, while Sarah takes the knife out of the kid’s hands. Cass takes a mouthful of the food and then continues, “And I heard Mrs. Williams say uncle Sam and uncle Bucky act like an old married couple, and that it’s weird because they’ve only seen uncle Bucky twice.”
It’s Bucky’s turn to choke on the bite of food he’d just taken. Sam pats him roughly on the back, still a smile on his face.
“Did they, now?” Sarah asks and eyes Bucky and Sam with a grin on her face. Bucky has never felt this small. Cass and AJ are both nodding.
This is not what he expected when Sam had texted him about the cookout. ‘I know I said separate vacations, but we have a cookout this Saturday. Come?,’ the text had said. Bucky had answered with a thumbs up emoji and booked his flights right away.
Bucky has packed enough to stay.
“Well,” Bucky says again. “Uh, we’re not. Married.”
Sam snorts and finally decides to back him up. “Yeah, we’re not. It’s quite early for that.”
Bucky jerks his head to gape at Sam, million questions in his eyes. Early. The clear implications of Sam’s wording hang in the air and Sam just shrugs, but almost shyly. Bucky frowns and focuses back on his food just as AJ continues the conversation.
“Will you get married?” AJ asks and Bucky ignores the question, very aware of the redness of his face. If he’s lucky, everyone just thinks it’s because of the coughing fit.
“Shush,” Sarah saves them from answering. She shoots a look at Sam that Bucky doesn’t quite understand, but Sam seems to, judging from the nod he gives her. AJ shrugs and goes back to his food.
They get interrupted with some couple Bucky doesn’t know, but that seem to know him, and who weirdly enough tell him they’re glad he’s there. Bucky thanks them awkwardly, following the conversation Sam is having with the pair with only half of his attention. Sam is so in his element here, it makes him seem younger. Sam is in his element in the sky, too, flying and in the battle, but this is so different. Sam is beautiful.
The thought hits Bucky right in the chest and it’s hard to breathe.
The couple leaves and Sam places a hand gently on Bucky’s leg to get his attention and jerks his head towards the boat. Bucky nods and digs his hands in his pockets as they get up.
They walk to the boat in silence, Sam’s hand on Bucky’s back to guide them through the crowd of people. Instead of going inside, Sam sits on the edge of the deck. Bucky sits next to him, and while Sam’s eyes are on the water, Bucky’s eyes are on Sam.
“I’m glad you came,” Sam says quietly, still not looking at Bucky. There’s a smile on his face. “The boys love you. And everyone else, too.”
Bucky feels content. Delacroix feels home, and it scares the hell out of him.
“Yeah,” Bucky says, shoots a look at the direction of the tables and the crowd. “Exactly when did I become uncle Bucky?”
“Sarah calls you that around the boys. I told her not to in case it weirds you out, but since you helped with the boat, you’ve basically become family. There’s no stopping Sarah.” Sam laughs softly. Bucky leans closer to brush their shoulders together.
“I like it,” he whispers.
Sam finally turns to look at him, and Bucky flashes him a genuine smile. Sam looks happy and Bucky wants to kiss him.
Shit, he really does.
It’s not the first time Bucky has thought of it, but every time it gets more real. Bucky lets out a shaky breath.
“Married, huh?” he asks with a laugh, maybe to break the moment with a joke. A bad one, though, as it turns out that Sam looks almost flustered hearing the word.
“Sorry about that,” Sam says. “The people here can be a bit much. And jump into conclusions. But they are good people, don’t mean it in a bad way.”
“Never thought they would,” Bucky said, then grins. “And to be fair, we do act like an old married couple, sometimes.”
Sam laughs loudly at that, and it carries over the water. He is fidgeting with his fingers and they fall into a comfortable silence. It’s what Bucky thinks both of them need right now, a moment of quiet before jumping straight back into the crowd of people.
“Sam, I–,” Bucky breaks the silence, but his voice betrays him. Sam places his hand on top of Bucky’s left one. Bucky feels the pressure, the warmth. When he talks, he talks quickly, but with a soft voice, “Please tell me I’m not–, not imagining this. Us. Because I thought I was hoping too much, but hell. Your nephews call me uncle too, and the whole town thinks there’s something.”
Sam shakes his head, squeezes Bucky’s vibranium arm tighter. “No,” he breathes out, “you’re not. Imagining it.”
Bucky turns his hand slightly to tangle their fingers together. He stares at the clasped hands for a while.
This is real. They are real.
“I’d like to stay,” Bucky whispers. “I don’t need to go back, I have nothing left there. Here, here I have you. I’d love to have all of you, if you’ll just take me.”
Sam is watching him with an intense look. If Bucky was standing, he’d not be anymore - he wants to melt under the gaze.
“Please,” Sam answers just as quietly, taking in a sharp breath. “Stay.”
Bucky’s heart is trying to escape his chest as leans in closer, looks at Sam straight in the eyes. “Kiss me, Sam Wilson.”
Sam kisses him. He does it with intent, his lips are soft against Bucky’s and his hand is cupping Bucky’s jaw. They fit together and Bucky is left breathless, leaning their foreheads together with still closed eyes. It’s not a long kiss, but it holds emotion Bucky can’t describe. He feels overwhelmed by it.
“Shit,” Bucky says with a short laugh. “Shit, Sam.”
“Yeah.” Sam lets out a giggle and Bucky’s fingers find his waist, just to touch, take Sam in. He wants all of Sam, all of the life Sam is welcoming him in. He wants it all.
“We should’ve done this weeks ago,” Bucky murmurs. “Shit.”
He wants to stay there forever.
“I thought only married people kiss,” AJ’s voice says behind them, and Bucky bursts into a genuine laugh, leaning back away from Sam. Sam is smiling too.
“Not married, kid,” Bucky says, “but you’ll be the first one to know once that’s a thing.”
AJ seems happy with the answer and crawls to sit between them, holding on to Bucky’s left arm.
Yeah, Bucky likes it there.