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Eventually Steve gives up. Super soldier or not, there’s only so long he can keep himself distracted at the gym. Sure, his body can take it, (although maybe the heavy bag can’t) but it stops keeping him preoccupied after a while. A shopping trip should really not take this long anyway. Maybe they just didn’t tell him they’re back.

Still, when he gets back to the floor he shares with Bucky, it’s still empty. He has to remind himself that Pepper would have called if something went wrong, but he manages to keep his heart rate steady.

Tony had called Steve a “helicopter parent” when he balked at Pepper and Bucky going out by themselves. He’s not sure the exact definition of that phrase, but given the current unease in the pit of his stomach after only four hours of Bucky at the mall without him, Steve’s probably going to have to admit Tony was right.

Not to his face of course. But yeah, he needs to let go a bit.

In the meantime, there’s no ignoring his ridiculous metabolism. Steve’s piling the ingredients for an impressive sandwich onto the kitchen island when he looks to the edge of the counter a note resting on top of a book.

Steve,
Try to fill this with some stuff that’s a little less depressing. Your old one creeps me right the fuck out.
Bucky

Steve’s face heats as he puts the note aside to examine the sketchbook beneath. The contents of his now nearly full book did tend to range from dreary nostalgia to outright horror. But, as Sam would say, he’s working through some stuff.

Doesn’t mean he wanted Bucky to have to see that.

Still, when Steve cracks back the cover to that first crisp new page, he can’t ignore the symbolism of all that open space before him. Things have been looking up lately.