”Tommy, Carlos, this is Bucky.”
Bucky smiles in a way you smile when you want to impress two old dudes, and shakes hands with both of them. ”Nice to meet you”, he says, and Tommy and Carlos smile back at him.
They’re standing on a small dock in the home town of Sam, Delacroix. Bucky had come to deliver something for Sam, but it had seemed Sam could use him here to help, so he had stayed.
”So nice to finally meet your boyfriend, Sam”, Tommy says and Carlos nods next to him, both still smiling widely.
Takes a moment too long before Bucky registers what has just been said. Boyfriend..? Bucky’s cheeks flash red. Maybe because the situation is awkward, or maybe because the thought of being seen as Sam’s boyfriend makes his stomach twist, in a good way though. Sam, being Sam’s boyfriend, lover, whatever, it’s a thought that has crossed Bucky’s mind more than would be necessary in the last few weeks, months even. Being around him is getting harder and harder because all Bucky wants to do is kiss him. He tries to avoid the thought, because just as it makes him happy, it makes him as anxious. If he thinks about it too much, he starts to wonder if he’s even worth Sam's love.
”We’re not… We’re not actually dating”, Bucky says. He wants to look at Sam, to see how he’s reacting, but he doesn’t dare to.
Tommy gives a friendly laugh. ”It’s fine, Bucky. No one judges around here. You don’t have to pretend.”
”Thank you, Tommy”, Sam says. Bucky finally looks at him, and Sam is smiling, maybe a bit awkwardly too, but it’s enough to make Bucky want to kiss him right there, anything is enough these days, really. Not even an extremely awkward situation can change that. ”Carlos, Tommy, do you mind? Bucky, I need your help on the boat.”
They say goodbye to the two men, and move towards Wilsons’ boat. When they’re out of the hearing distance, Bucky stops.
”Why’d you let them think we’re dating?” He’s looking at Sam, keeping his face blank to not give away his actual thoughts.
Sam sighs. ”They’re impossible. If they think we’re dating, there’s no turning their heads. You would have stood there the whole day debating with them whether you’re lying or not, and I would have had to fix the boat on my own. They’re like, the third ones to think we’re dating."
”So now the whole town thinks we’re together?”
Suddenly Sam smiles daringly. ”Oh, is that too much for you, huh? Are you afraid of being seen as my boyfriend now, Bucky? Thought you were better than that."
Bucky scowls as his feelings had just been hurt. ”I’m not saying that. It’s fine. In fact, I’m surprised you dare to let them think we’re dating, wouldn’t have believed you had that in you, Sam.”
”I definitely have that in me. I could do it all day.”
Bucky takes a step closer. ”Really? Prove to me, then.”
Sam takes a step closer as well. ”No, you prove to me.”
”Okay. I will.”
The two of them stare at each other. Neither of them wants to give up first, to prove the other right. In that kind of a way, they tend to be a bit childish around each other sometimes.
And of course, Bucky wants to kiss Sam, it’s a constant feeling of his these days.
Sam places his hand on Bucky’s hips and leads him to the boat. The touch feels nice, even though it’s only for whatever their dare is, and it proves that Sam is, in fact, in for it. It makes Bucky hope, for a second, that maybe Sam thinks about Bucky the same way Bucky thinks about Sam, but he brushes that thought away before it sticks to his head.
They start fixing the boat. They don’t forget the dare: when people walk past them or stop by to greet them, they get close, place hands on each other’s hips. Bucky finds them brushing each other while they pass, even when there’s no one watching, and it creates a warm feeling inside him. He tries to drive it off, but is unsuccessful.
After a few hours, Sarah comes to visit them by the boat. She greets Bucky, and Bucky smiles back and introduces himself. He then looks at Sam, raises his eyebrows daringly and smiles, kinda in a mischievous way. Sam knows what he means.
”Sarah, um, this is my boyfriend.”
Sarah places her hand on her hips, looking like a disappointed mom. ”Yes, I know. I wonder why the whole town knows this before I do.”
Bucky has a hard time trying not to laugh.
”Yeah, umm, about that.” Sam looks at Bucky, and it’s now his turn to look mischievous. ”See, Bucky’s a bit shy. He was very nervous about meeting my sister. You know… to get your approval.”
That son of a bitch . Bucky smiles, trying to look all shy . It’s funny, because if Bucky was actually Sam’s boyfriend, hell yeah he would be nervous about meeting Sam’s sister. As, you know, being an ex-assassin from the 40s with a metal arm, he might not look like the perfect man for somebody’s brother. But Sarah doesn’t point out his arm, nor the fact that she might recognize him as the Winter Soldier. She just nods her head, and says: ”Um. Okay. Well, nice to meet you, Bucky. You’re always welcome here. In fact, you two could join the dinner soon.”
”Yeah, we will. Thanks Sarah”, Sam says and takes Bucky into a hug from behind. Sarah smiles, and leaves.
Bucky rolls his eyes even though Sam can’t see it. ” Bucky’s a bit shy. ”
Sam gives a little laugh behind him, talking just next to Bucky’s ear. ”It’s not like you would be the most talkative person around anyone else besides me.”
The words send a warm wave through Bucky’s body. Besides me. For a moment everything feels like it’s real and he wants to turn around and kiss Sam. But maybe that would be too unfair, for both of them. For Bucky, because maybe it wouldn’t be real for Sam. For Sam, because he wouldn’t know how real it would be for Bucky.
”Okay, fair enough”, Bucky just answers.
Sam lets go of Bucky, and they start heading to Sarah’s house. Bucky takes carefully Sam’s left hand into his own, and Sam doesn’t pull it back.
”You’re surprisingly good at this”, Bucky says teasingly.
Sam glances at Bucky. ”Yeah? And I’m surprised you’re still here despite all this.”
”Easy peasy lemon squeezy.”
”Never. Say. That again.”
Bucky laughs. ”No promises, man.”
They arrive at the house, and Sam’s nephews run outside to greet them. AJ and Cass, Bucky remembers. They hug Sam, and then they turn towards Bucky. Sam smiles and now it’s his turn to raise his eyebrows daringly. Bucky rolls his eyes.
He kneels down to talk to AJ and Cass better. ”Hi guys. My name is Bucky, and I’m your uncles boyfriend.” He offers his hand for the boys to shake it, and they both take it.
”Mom told us about you! Why - ” Cass says but AJ interrupts him.
”You have a METAL ARM? THAT’S SO COOL, SHOW US!”
Bucky gives a laugh and pulls his sleeve up. They boys are amazed by his arm, and for once he feels kind of good about it.
”Are you an Avenger too?”
As always, Bucky has to think for a second before answering. It’s a thought that keeps him up sometimes, but it’s not a debate to have right now, so he nods. ”Yeah. That’s how I met Sam.”
”That’s so COOL!” AJ says and turns at Sam. ”Why didn’t you tell us you have an Avenger boyfriend? With a METAL ARM?”
Sam laughs. Bucky’s looking at him, how his eyes squint a little bit and how when he laughs, he always laughs with his mouth widely open. He looks stunning, and suddenly there’s a wave of sadness that goes through Bucky instead of the warmth. He’s sad that none of this is actually real, it’s only happening because they’re both immature pieces of shit.
”Come on now guys. I’m hungry”, Sam says and they get inside.
The dinner is delicious, and it’s not as awkward as Bucky had been afraid of. Of course, Sarah asks him questions that apparently one’s supposed to ask when they meet their brother’s boyfriend for the first time, but other than that Bucky feels relaxed and at ease. At one point, he even forgets he’s supposed to play something, because Sam’s family feels so comfortable.
After the dinner, Sam takes a beer and offers Bucky one too. They get back to the boat, and the sun has already started to settle down. The sky looks beautiful with its orange and pink colors.
”You were pretty good with AJ and Cass.”
They’re now sitting on the deck next to each other and not actually doing anything useful anymore.
”Yeah, it was the arm.”
They both laugh. Bucky’s looking up at the sky, but when Sam takes his hand into his own, Bucky turns to see him. They’re looking at each other and then - and then Sam kisses Bucky. Sam kisses Bucky and it’s perfect because it’s all Bucky has been able to think about anymore. It’s perfect because it’s Sam and it’s Bucky . Sam kisses Bucky and Bucky kisses Sam back.
Bucky pulls himself away from the kiss, just a little bit, because he has to ask. ”You know there’s no one to pretend for anymore?”
Sam smiles. ”I know.”
It’s now Bucky’s time to kiss Sam, and nothing about it is fake.