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sam woke up to the smell of bacon and the sound of his bedroom door opening. 

“i made breakfast,” bucky said sheepishly. 

sam smiled at him, and sat up carefully. memories of the night before hit him, and his smile dropped. bucky must’ve noticed, because he said “if you wanna talk about it, sam, you can talk to me about it- or i know some discreet therapists that have no connection with me, or discreet therapists that do have connections with me. or, if you don’t want to talk about it at all, that’s fine too. it’s your choice, sam. you don’t have to make it right now, and you can always change your mind at any point,”

sam felt like crying again. bucky was being so sweet, and he just didn’t know what he wanted. he felt like he was being so stupid, and he told bucky as such. 

“sam, your feelings are valid. i will support you in any decision you make, because i love you. i just want to see you happy and safe. is it alright if i at least talk for a little bit? and you can answer some questions, if you want. if you don’t want to, just don’t, okay? it won’t be anything super invasive, just what your boundaries are,” 

sam nodded, and bucky took a deep breath. 

“i’ve been- i mean, i couldn’t really sleep last night. i feel so horrible, and- no, sam, it isn’t your fault, i promise. i promise, sammy. i just feel bad because i was friends with steve, and with you, and i never knew what he was doing to you, i didn’t even ever entertain the idea, i didn’t think he was capable of something like this. i’m sorry, sam. if i had known-” his voice cracked, and sam longed to hug him, but didn’t know if he could handle physical touch right then, “if i had known, sam, i promise, i would’ve done anything to stop him. i would’ve reported him, beat him up, whatever you wanted me to do. i’m so sorry i didn’t notice. now, last night, i did a lot of research on how to best help people who’ve been assaulted,”

sam flinched slightly, and bucky’s eyes softened, before he continued, “i’m not the best at emotions or things like that, but i want to help you, sam. can we talk about boundaries?”

sam nodded, and bucky calmly said, “sam, darling, if you don’t want to talk about it, we don’t have to. we can do whatever you want to do,” and god, sam could barely breathe. this, this was the type of love that everyone deserved. bucky, who he had once thought was an emotionless machine , had spent the whole night, awake, researching how to best help sam. his chest felt heavy with it, and he didn’t know how to best express to bucky how much this, this whole thing, the sentiment within, meant to him. he looked towards bucky, emotions laid bare on his face, and saw bucky smile softly, and nod. 

“i know, sam. i’ve got you,” 

“we can talk about boundaries. it’s just- sometimes i won’t know an answer,” he conceded.

“there’s no right answer, honey. if you’re unsure, for now, it’ll be a no, okay?”

sam nodded, and bucky let out a short breath. 

“first, i want to lay some ground rules for when we’re having sex, if we ever have sex again. we can talk about these, and obviously you get to express your opinion, but sam, these are non-negotiable. if you cannot do or respect one of these, we cannot have sex until we figure it out,”

sam gulped, and bucky smiled at him, “it’s for your safety, baby,”

“okay, first one is that you need to understand that you do not have to have sex with me. i do not need sex to survive. i went many, many years without it, and i will survive. not only will i survive, i will be perfectly fine emotionally. your body, while absolutely amazing, is not the only thing i like about you, darling. i like all of you, especially your personality. while the sex is good, i am not with you for the sex. these next ones are all contiengent on us having sex, so please, just remember, you have the right to say no. you or i reserve the right to withdraw consent at any given time. i don’t care if i’m about to orgasm, if you want to stop, we will stop. third, i’ll work to check in with you during sex, and if you say stop, no, i don’t like that, that hurt’s, or if you cry, i will stop and at the very least check-in with you. those are the only well thought out ones i have right now, but we can always add more. are these okay, do you think you can reciprocate these, and do you have any you’d like to add?”

“those are- god, bucky, you’re wonderful. thank yo-”

“don’t,” bucky growled, “please don’t thank me,” 

sam looked at him, and saw the guilt in his eyes. he made a quiet note to talk to bucky about it, and refocused on the task at hand. 

“those are amazing. i can 100% respect your consent as well, and i- can i have time to think about it? i don’t know if i exactly ha-”

“sam, of course you can have time. if at any point in our relationship you think of a new one, let me know, asap, and we’ll talk about it,”

“thank you, buck,”