Sam lied down wondering whether every September was going to be like this.
Riley. Riley. Riley. He couldn’t sleep. His body tossed and turned as if it was comfort that was stopping him from sleeping. He rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. He looked out his window and remembering how Bucky loves autumn. This time last year, Bucky came to Sam’s apartment with a flask of soup and had invited himself in. With the warmth of the butternut soup and of Bucky’s arms, Sam had had one of the best nights of his life. He was cold and alone. He didn’t even know where Bucky was this year.
The next night felt much of the same. Sam tried to sleep. Can’t. He started thinking, thinking turns into reflecting which turning into overthinking and paranoia. What if Bucky is dead out there? Another person tied to his conscience. He worn himself out, fell asleep and wakes up screaming.
Sam squinted and checked his clock. 3 am. Three hours until his morning run with Steve. Fuck. Sam groaned. It would be their first run for a while. It had been awkward to say the least. Using missions and therapy groups as an excuse not to hang out with his best friend made Sam feel like an idiot. Bucky doing his own thing wasn’t unheard of but Steve had questions and Sam knew as much as he did. It would be hard to hide the weariness under Steve’s watchful eyes. Plus, with the whole Septemberness of it all made Sam more reluctant and guilty than usual. He knew it didn’t make any sense. He heard a shove of the door. He couldn’t be sure it was him. He covered his ears with his pillow and curled up into a ball. After a couple weeks of grief and nightmare-riddled sleep, he couldn’t be certain it was him.
Bucky opened the door to the apartment. He went to the kitchen, opening cupboards loudly, looking for something in particular.
“Sam. You in? Where’s the plantain?” Bucky had a habit of letting himself in. Bucky heard shuffling and then was welcomed with a yawn, shy gap-toothed smile.
“Fruit bowl.” Sam studied Bucky as he picked up the plantain. Looking at him like he couldn’t quite believe he was there. Sam wrapped his arms around Bucky’s belly, grounding himself.
“James Buchanan Barnes. What an honour.” Bucky’s body relaxed against Sam’s. Still as sarcastic as ever. Bucky begun to fry the plantain.
“Been a while,” About three months. Sam didn’t realise he had been counting. Bucky felt the arms around his midriff stiffen, “I shouldn’t of-”. Bucky started a quiet apology.
“You’re burning the plantain.” Sam pushed Bucky aside, stopping the apology and took over, “Idiot.”
“I know.” Bucky’s stubble rubbed against Sam’s cheek as he kissed his cheek. Sam hummed, trying to fix Bucky’s burnt food. He then pulled away and said laughing,
“An idiot who needs a damn shower. This greasy hair look isn’t cute, Barnes.”
“I’m pretty sure that t-shirt you’re wearing is mine. Still has the pizza stains and everything,” Bucky's voice muffled by the plantain in his mouth.
“Someone missed their greasy haired idiot.” He grinned, showing off the yellow pulp sprawled all over his teeth.
“I didn’t miss the talking with your mouth open. Christ, you are a mess.” Sam rolled his eyes and turned off the stove.
Bucky felt Sam’s body radiate heat as he cuddled up to him. Bucky waited to hear Sam’s breath slow before he left himself sleep.
SAM. Sam opened his eyes. He grabs the covers and reaches out for Bucky. Where? He rubs the fabric between his fingers and mumbles his name and his birthday. He slows his breathing and waits. He feels a cold flannel of his head and a hand pushing him to sit up.
“I bought some herbal tea,” Bucky said passing Sam the mug, studying him. “How long?”
“I can manage.” Sam smelled the peppermint tea. His favourite. Bucky frowned.
“About a month.” He gasped, still breathless from the memory. He felt Bucky stare.
“If I knew, I would have come back.” Sam stared at his tea.
“I can manage.” Sam said weakly before crying. Bucky rubbed circles into his back. He then took the tea in one hand and dragged Sam with his metal arm to the terrace.
They sat and watched the city. Sam wrapped up in a blanket, holding his tea. Bucky sitting by him in an big Natasha-knitted jumper. Sam sipped his tea. Bucky leaned back and looked at the moon.
“Riley.” Sam broke the silence. Bucky had guessed as much. Sam looked to the floor shyly. “I missed you.” Bucky leaned against Sam’s shoulder and looked across to him. He knew how it was which made him feel all that much worst. Guilt. He felt it the moment he left. It was a mistake leaving. He didn’t find much with the leads. He was so sure he had worked out their pattern. One of the many shitty side effects of being a puppet all those years. He was sure he could end it and be at peace. He was never made with peace in mind. He had left Sam for dead-ends and lost causes.
“My fault. Didn’tevenfindanythingItwasallpointlessIwishIdidn’tleaveI’msorry.” Bucky spewed his stream of consciousness.
“S’alright. I trusted you.” He paused, sipping his tea. “And I still trust you, James. I let you and your greasy hair leave.” Sam turned and smiled. His eyes had started to get heavy. He leant against Bucky and slowly drifted off to sleep.
“We’re idiots.” Bucky whispered to him before picking him up and carrying him back to their room.
Sam looked at his clock and groaned. It was running time. Slowly, he edged out of the bed. But felt a large teddy bear-like man pulling him back and muttering Stay, Stay, Stay, like a mantra.
“Steve is going to be at the door soon. Are you going to let me get changed?” Sam was still trying to pull away and get out of the bed with all his strength.
“No. You haven’t slept. Fuck Steve. You’re staying.” Sam did need his sleep. But Bucky had an ulterior motive. Bucky tightened his arms around Sam and tickled him. Sam flinched silently trying not to laugh. Don’t give him the satisfaction. Bucky stopped tickling and started to give him a hickey. Sam sighed and his body relaxed. He quickly reached for his phone to text Steve that he would meet him later with Bucky. Bucky straddled Sam’s lap and gave Sam a shit-eating grin as he begun to pull his jumper off. He then leaned into Sam, giving him a series of neck kisses than begun to lead south.
“Fine. You win.” Sam panted through the kisses.
“You’re letting me win. Fuck, you must be tired then.” Bucky spoke warm breath onto Sam’s stomach. Sam chuckled.
Bucky was sprawled over their one sofa napping, covered in food crumbs as Sam arrived through the door. Sam’s usual light and chipper steps were replaced with slower, staggered steps. A long day avengering. Sam running on maybe three hours of sleep and still tried to save the world from some villain trying to end it. First thing Sam saw was Bucky lying on his couch. Sleeping dirty asshole. He groaned. And rolled his eyes. He had been back for not even a full day and he had Buckyed the place up again. Sam walked over to Bucky’s still sleeping body and sat on him. Sam heard a shout and continued.
“What are you doing?” He said, rubbing his eyes and taking deep breaths. Sam was trying his patience. Bucky wasn’t a big sleeper but when he was he was out cold. Sam knew this.
“Sitting.” Sam started to watch whatever was on the TV, not caring by Bucky’s confusion.
“On me. You’re sitting ON ME.” Bucky sat up slightly, pushing Sam onto his lap. “If you really want to sit on me, you only have to ask, Sammy.” Bucky run his tongue across his teeth and then bared his teeth in a menacing manner only he could pull off. Sam rolled his eyes and continued ignoring Bucky. Bucky pulled Sam back the depth of the sofa into a tight hug. Sam struggled to seem disinterested. He did love a Bucky hug.
“Insufferable. You are insufferable ass, James.” Sam said with no real malice.
He got up and gathered the toiletries needed for a good bath. Maybe bubbles? Definitely bubbles, he thought looking at the various bath bombs in his hands. He needed a little pampering after his long day and the general mess his head had been as of late. He started to run the bath, “Would it hurt you to eat the popcorn, not roll around in it?”
“I don’t know. Do you have to wake me up after my first proper sleep in months?” Bucky said, also yelling but still lying on the sofa. He was tired.
Sam let out a deep sigh and settled into the bath. He dryly said to himself, sinking further into the bath.
It’s like he never left.
“Doll,” Bucky squished the other’s cheeks trying to ruse him gently, “can we go to karaoke night?” Sam’s tired eyes lit up as he heard the words We and Karaoke. They were lying down, limbs all tangled on their too small couch, watching Scrubs reruns. Sam had tried to get Bucky to go the annual karaoke night at the tower. The fact that when Sam went to karaoke, he often got so drunk that Steve or Nat would end escorting him to the apartment. Sam would fall asleep somewhere on the thousand floors of the tower. Once they had to start a search party looking for him. Sam had send him dirty texts whilst sitting by Tony. By the end of the evening, everyone knew know the ins-and-out of their bedroom life. The possibility of being present during that gave a Bucky a preemptive headache. The idea of interacting with the other Avengers- outside of bumping into when he looking for Sam and Steve- was not something he would revel in. But he knew it was the just the thing to make Sam feel better.
“That is my favourite thing you have ever said.” Sam grinned at him, still sleepy. Bucky frowned, pretending to be hurt,
“What about my dirty talk? I thought you loved my dirty talk, doll.”
“Barnes, there is nothing sexier to me,” Sam rested his eyes, “than the potential of making you uncomfortable.”