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Sam pours himself a third cup of coffee. Bucky mumbles something into his second cup and goes to run his hand through his hair, but Steve braided it the night before, so it’s actually not in his face for once. Steve is making his way through his mountain of eggs, and they have a trip to the lake planned today.

“What did you say?” Sam bumps Bucky’s shoulder and stirs in sugar.

“Natasha is coming tomorrow.”

Steve pauses in his single-minded pursuit to eat more than any other person on the planet and asks how long Bucky invited her for.

“Didn’t invite her,” is the still difficult to make out response. Bucky is decidedly not a morning person.

Sam pauses with his mug (purple, because Clint gave it to Steve) halfway to his mouth. “She invited herself? Why are we just now hearing about this?”

“Didn’t invite herself.”

“Bucky,” Steve says, as close to firm as he gets with his childhood sweetheart. His fork clinks on his plate as he leans in. “What exactly happened and how long is Natasha crashing in the guest bedroom?”

“Clint said she wanted to get away for a bit and I said okay.”

Sam raises an eyebrow. “So Clint invited her without you realizing what you were consenting to.”

Bucky shrugs. “It’s not like there’s something wrong with her staying.”

Sam sighs. “Bucky. I’m asking how long we’ll be feeding another person and also how long we’re going to have to have sex quietly and exclusively in our bedroom.”

Steve turns ever so slightly pink, because he’s like that. Doesn’t matter the dirty shit he says and does all the time, he’s going to blush about any mention of sex forever.

“Dunno. Text her.”

Sam thinks to himself that he is the most longsuffering man on the planet, willingly cohabitating with two white men.

“Bucky, next time someone is thinking about coming over, give us more than twenty-four hours notice, okay?”

“Okay.” Bucky rubs his eyes and blearily drains his coffee. “‘M gonna go get dressed.”

Dressed for Bucky usually means sweatpants, maybe yoga pants depending on his mood. Underwear is a no, and shirts are negotiable. He spent enough time buckled up in combat gear that it’s understandable, and it’s not like either of his partners mind the view.

Steve resumes eating his eggs and Sam sighs deeply. He pulls out his phone and unlocks it. He has to scroll for a bit before he reaches his last conversation with Natasha, which for some reason, is about Saltines.

He must have muttered something about Saltines, because Steve says “Drinking game,” and returns to his plate. Sam has no memory of said drinking game, but maybe that’s for the better.

Bucky said you were coming tomorrow? What time and how long?

It’s maybe a little terse, but he’s just trying to get the details here. There’s no immediate response, so he puts his phone back in his pocket and stretches. He and Steve already went for a run this morning and showered while Bucky laid in bed, so it’s not like there’s anything really keeping them from gathering their things and going out to the lake already.

Sam grabs his empty bowl that previously contained oatmeal and dumps it in the sink to soak. “C’mon, slowpoke,” he says.

Steve shovels his last bite of eggs in his mouth and gives him a hurt look. “It takes a long time to eat a lot of food,” he says, as if Sam is attacking his personality and not his inability to eat like a normal person.

“If you’re gonna lap me every morning just because you can, I have full rights to any and all slowpoke jokes available to me.”

Bucky lets the dogs back just then. He lets them in for no good reason half the time, the other half being he wants to lie in a pile of happiness and drool. This morning is the latter. All of the dogs except Lulu leap on Bucky the moment he allows them to, and he goes down laughing.

Lulu is a tiny old dachshund that Steve took one look at and tucked under his arm to take home. She is undoubtedly his. She sleeps on his pillow at night, so Steve usually ends up half on Sam’s. She will not surrender to bellyrubs from anyone. Steve alone holds that honor.

“Lulu,” Steve croons. “Come here, honey.”

She waddles up the single step to the dining room and practically runs into his waiting arms. Sam would roll his eyes, but Steve is adorable when he’s mooning over that dog, so he restrains himself.

“How’s my girl, huh?” Steve is already completely wrapped up in making sure Lulu knows exactly how spoiled she is.

Sam decides he’s going to figure out what they’re bringing for lunch while his boyfriends court their dogs, because someone has to pretend to be an adult in this relationship. His phone vibrates in the middle of the sixth sandwich he’s made, so he wipes mayonnaise off on a towel and digs his phone out of his pocket.

Of course he just brought it up now. I’ll be there around 9am

Planning on two weeks but might be longer

Sam sighs.

That’s fine. I’ll make sure the guest bedroom and bathroom are tidied up tonight. Anything I need to know about?

I snore.

He laughs. It has been a long time since he saw Natasha.

Bucky is terrible

There’s no way you can be worse than him

Never say never, Wilson

Sam huffs and shuts his phone off. If they’re all going to be at the lake for any amount of time today, he has to get back to work. Bucky finally extricates himself from the pile of fur and tongues after Sam’s got all their sandwiches in a bag and is cutting carrot sticks.

“Need any help?”

Sam nods. “Fill the water bottles?”

Bucky leans in for a kiss. “Sure thing, sweetheart.”

Sam kind of wants to drop the knife and kiss him some more, but he does want to be out of here before noon.

“Steve,” he says firmly. “Stop making out with Lulu and get the camp chairs.”

Steve starts to protest, but Sam doesn’t even bother turning around. “I’m the one holding the knife, Steve, and you were the one who wanted to go out to the lake and draw today. Camp chairs.”

Steve sighs, but Sam can hear him put Lulu down and stand up. “Camp chairs,” Steve confirms. “They still in the garage?”

“Last time I checked, they were, but Bucky might have dragged them around the side of the house.”

“Did not,” Bucky insists.

“You like to stick Rosie and Greg in the other two and sit outside in camp chairs with the dogs for no good reason. Just because those chairs are rated for large human beings does not mean they were made for dogs. Check the side of the house first, Steve.” Sam slices a carrot in half, pausing so Steve can kiss his cheek.

“Will do,” Steve says, even though Bucky is continuing to deny any and all dog-related activities with the camp chairs.

“I have pictures,” Sam says sweetly. “From many, many different days. Don’t try me, Bucky.”

“They like it,” Bucky mutters. “It’s nice.”

Steve chuckles and heads towards the garage, Lulu’s nails clicking on the floor as she follows him.

“C’mon,” he says softly, and Sam knows without looking that Steve picked Lulu up again. She does have a bad hip, and she is old, but Steve takes every possible chance to baby her.

Sam thinks it’s kind of sweet, but like hell is he ever telling Steve that. He finishes the carrot sticks and dumps them in a container. Bucky’s gotten the bag they always use for their packed lunches out and put everything else in, plus the bag of Cheetos Sam’s been hiding above the fridge. He narrows his eyes at Bucky, who shrugs.

“I was gonna eat them anyways.”


“You love me.” Bucky flutters his eyelashes.

Sam puts the container underneath the Cheetos. “Shut up.”

Steve tromps in, camp chairs under his arms. “They were in the garage.”

Bucky smirks. Sam resists the urge to smack his stupidly beautiful face. Lulu bumps into the back of Steve’s calves and barks.

Sam pinches the bridge of his nose. “Steve, why did you bring the chairs inside? Please go put them on the back porch. You need to get your art stuff together and Bucky has to choose his stack of books to read and I’ve got to get leashes for the dogs and my own book.”

Steve shrugs. “You asked me to get the chairs. You didn’t tell me where to put them.” He does, however, promptly turn around and dump the chairs on the back porch.

Sam decides he’s bringing his phone and listening to an audiobook so he can have both hands free in case his boyfriends actually decide they want to send him to an early grave. Maybe he should take up knitting. He’s heard it’s good for stress. He thinks Natasha knits. Maybe he’ll ask her to teach him when she comes.

“Steve.” Sam wanders into their bedroom, which is mostly their bed, if they’re honest.

Steve’s deciding what art supplies to bring, staring at his charcoal bin with a furrow in his brow. “Hmm,” he acknowledges, not looking up.

“Will you make sure there’s fresh sheets and no weird stuff we’re storing in the guest bedroom tonight? Natasha’s going to be here at nine tomorrow.”

Steve looks up at Sam, his brow smoothing. “Of course. You alright?”

Sam pauses, uncertain of what Steve means. “Yes?”

“You just seem like you’re a little stressed right now.” Steve is looking at Sam like he’s about to tuck him in bed. “Can I do something to help you relax?”

“I’m just the only one who was even thinking about the logistics of Natasha staying with us, and gathering you and Bucky to do anything together is a first-class clown act. That’s all.” Sam raises his eyebrows.

Steve sighs and reaches for Sam’s hand, tugging slightly until Sam gets the message and sits on the floor next to Steve.

“It’s not on purpose,” Steve says, turning his head so his chin rests on Sam’s hair. “We promise.”

“I know.”

“I hope Natasha coming isn’t too stressful for you. It’d kind of defeat the purpose, us being retired and her looking for a vacation.”

“It’ll be fine once she’s here. We all like her, and if we actually want to have rowdy sex, she probably won’t be mad about being kicked out for a couple of hours. I just need to not be responsible for every aspect of making sure she’s comfortable.”

“Okay,” Steve says. “We can do that. I’ll get Bucky to take care of the bathroom, and you can go take a nice long bubble bath in ours.”

“If I take a bubble bath, Bucky will not allow me to get in alone. That man would kill for a bubble bath anytime of day, anywhere.”

“So we won’t tell him that you’re getting one,” Steve says. He rubs Sam’s shoulder gently. “Just relax tonight. We’ll handle it.”

“You forget I have enhanced hearing.” Bucky leans against the door frame. “I did hear the words ‘bubble bath.’”

Sam resists the urge to groan.

“It’s fine,” Bucky says. “If you need alone time, we’ll give it to you. You just have to let us know you need it.”

“We love you,” Steve continues. “Now let me finish getting my stuff together.”

They all tromp the half mile to the lake in relative silence, until Bucky decides he’s going to try to shove Steve- whose bag is full of nice, expensive watercolors- while holding the food bag.

Sam smacks Bucky’s head gently. “If you crush the sandwiches or make our boy cry over his watercolors, you’re doing laundry for a month.”

Bucky hates laundry and bids for every other possible job in the chore rotation besides that. Steve is a sucker and won’t make him half the time, but the other half the time, Bucky sullenly- but very carefully- does the laundry.

Bucky turns around and grins. “Stevie was asking for it by wearing those stupid shorts.”

Steve’s shorts are an abomination to the idea of clothing, but Sam consoles himself by thinking about taking them off of Steve at the end of the day. It’s the only way to put up with them.

“If I wanted your opinion on my shorts, I’d ask you,” Steve says primly.

Bucky gets Steve out of his shorts within ten minutes of setting their stuff down at the lake. Sam watches Bucky drag Steve into the water laughing, the light shining on his bare chest. Sam strips off his own shirt. The sun is just the right amount of warm, and the breeze isn’t freezing, so they’ll dry off soon enough. Besides, dunking contests between the three of them are generally a lot of fun.

Later, with many, many sandwiches and carrot sticks inside their bellies, they sit in the camp chairs and listen to Bucky read them poetry. Steve paints the lake and Sam allows himself to focus on nothing but the cadence of Bucky’s voice. He’s got a thing for Bucky’s voice, but right now there’s no other connotations besides warmth and happiness.


Sam and Steve get up at six-thirty every morning to go on their run, Bucky mumbling and grabbing at the covers. He still insists they kiss him before they leave and he rolls over to go back to sleep again. They indulge him even though his morning breath is nothing to laugh at, because if a man who was tortured and touch-starved for seventy years wants to be kissed every morning by his boyfriends, he’s damn well going to be kissed every morning by his boyfriends.

Sam half expects Natasha to be there earlier than she said, but she rings their doorbell exactly at seven minutes past nine, just when Bucky is shuffling into the kitchen for breakfast. He pauses, his hand dragging through his hair, pajama pants barely clinging to his hips.

“Door,” he says, either to Sam or Steve or both of them. It doesn’t really matter. Bucky isn’t a big fan of opening the door without a weapon, and he’s gotten comfortable enough he only carries two knives most days. That’s when he’s dressed, though, and he is decidedly not dressed.

Steve pulls the breakfast casserole from the oven and sets it on the counter, carefully positioning it on the trivet. “I’ll get it,” he says, pulling his oven mitts off as he walks.

Sam leans against the counter. “You going to put on a shirt before Natasha walks in?”

Bucky shrugs. “It’s nothing she hasn’t seen before.”

It’s a surprisingly coherent sentence for him only being awake for ten minutes. Sam feels oddly proud.

“That’s your call, then.” Sam turns around and tilts the coffee pot to see exactly how strong “Mr. I served in World War Two and I won’t let anyone forget it when I make coffee stronger than any normal human being would like it” decided to make the coffee this morning. He makes a face of disgust, but pours a cup anyways, immediately reaching for the fridge to dump cream in it. He’s stirring sugar in when Natasha walks in the kitchen, closely followed by Steve.

She doesn’t blink or even look twice at Bucky’s state of undress. “Steve said there’s breakfast casserole,” she says, plopping her duffle bag down without hesitation.

“And coffee that should be called tar,” Sam finishes. “I should not ever let that man near a coffee pot. Ever.”

“Stevie makes terrible coffee,” Bucky confirms from somewhere underneath his hair.

Steve splutters and tries to defend himself, but Natasha marches herself over to Sam, says “Mug,” waits for him to hand her a mug, then pours an inch of coffee into it. She takes a swig, like she tests bad coffee all the time, and wrinkles her nose.

“Your boyfriends are right, Steve. This is terrible coffee.”

Steve looks actually, genuinely hurt for a moment. Sam reaches out to grab his hand.

“C’mon baby, it’s not like we’re insulting you. You just make horrible coffee.” He raises Steve’s hand to his mouth to kiss it. It works, because Steve is a giant softy and loves any and all forms of physical affection.

Natasha doesn’t say anything about them being gross or needing a room, just watches them with an indecipherable look before dumping the remainder of her coffee down the drain. She’s kind of silent through breakfast, although she does seem to be amused by Bucky’s inability to be well and truly awake for at least an hour after he rolls out of bed.

She does thank Sam when he shows her to the guest bedroom and informs her that the bathroom is hers to use and if she wants, she can force all of them to use the other one all the time.

“We’re happy to host you, but perfectly willing to give you the space you need,” Sam says, and he actually means it. He’s feeling significantly less stressed than he was yesterday morning, and honestly if Natasha decided to tell him he shouldn’t expect to speak to her at all, he wouldn’t even be mad about it.

They’ve never been particularly close, but she is friends with Bucky and Steve, and he wants to give her what he can. They’re not teammates anymore, but that bond can’t really be broken the same way most coworkers drift apart. He does feel some connection with her, however tenuous it may be.

“I’m not going to hog one of two bathrooms in a house with three grown men,” she says. “But do not touch my things.”

Sam raises his hands. “None of us have any intention to do so. Just don’t leave bubble bath out, Bucky has no qualms about stealing that.”

Natasha smiles. “Do I look like I take bubble baths?”

He shrugs. “Not particularly, but I’ve learned not to make assumptions about you.”

“Good boy,” she says, and pats his cheek. “Now scram.”

Sam nods and turns away, the door shutting firmly behind him before he’s completely facing the hall again. He shrugs. Natasha can hole up in her room as much as she wants. It’s not like he’s her parent or anything.

Steve knocks on her door at lunchtime, and she emerges to eat and get a glass of water before disappearing again. Bucky walks in around four without knocking, shutting the door behind him. There’s no loud noises and he doesn’t emerge immediately, so despite Sam’s suspiciousness, he lets it alone.

They come out when Sam decides he’s making a group chat and texted everyone that dinner was ready. Bucky is laughing and Natasha has a gleam in her eye and they’re talking really fast in Russian. Steve knows a little bit, but he shrugs when Sam looks at him in question.

“They’re talking too fast,” is all Steve can offer.

Bucky does switch to English when Sam asks, but he and Natasha keep trading off what appear to be terrible jokes in Russian throughout their consumption of five homemade pizzas. She watches amusedly as Steve and Bucky eat two of the pizzas each, and she and Sam share the other one.

“It’s like a circus act,” she says. “Don’t tell Clint I said that. He’ll get mad.”

“I won’t,” Sam smirks. “And you’re right. It’s like they eat enough to power a small town every day and the only reason we aren’t incredibly broke is that Steve makes a lot of money drawing porn and I make a little bit of money being a counselor.”

Steve doesn’t technically draw porn, and all his work is under a pseudonym, but Sam and Bucky are constantly teasing him about it. It’s more tasteful nudity than anything else, but they’ll be damned if they’re going to pass up a chance to tease him.

Natasha laughs and pokes Bucky. “Does he ever draw you naked?”

“What kinda stupid question is that?” Bucky replies, setting his fork down. He shoves his chair back and walks around the table to Sam. “C’mon Sam, let me sit in your lap.”

Sam rolls his eyes, but pushes his chair back and mentally prepares himself for all two hundred and seventeen pounds of James Buchanan Barnes compressing his thighs. Bucky leans back against his chest, his sock feet hooked around Sam’s ankles. His weight will be kind of nice for approximately two minutes, and then Sam’s legs are going to seriously start protesting, but he’s not going to kick Bucky off of him and onto Steve for at least ten minutes.

Sam kind of loves how clingy Bucky gets. He grumbles because he’s kind of obligated to, but he likes how attached Bucky is to him and Steve, both physically and emotionally. It makes him feel more secure in their relationship, having that repeated reminder that Bucky wants them, not just sexually, but emotionally too.

Sam is intensely aware of the way Natasha’s eyes examine Bucky’s head resting on Sam’s shoulder and the hand Steve sets on Bucky’s thigh almost absentmindedly. Sam can’t help but wonder exactly what’s going on inside her brain.

She doesn’t ask them to tone down their affection, though. She doesn’t say a single word, just leans down and scratches Greg behind the ears.

“She’s lonely,” Bucky says when they’re climbing in bed.

Steve fluffs his pillow and pretends not to be interested. He’s terrible like that. Lulu bumps into Sam’s ankles and barks. He sighs and picks her up.

“Your dog needs attention,” Sam says, handing her to Steve. “She tell you that?” He asks Bucky.

“No, because she’s not like that. But she is lonely. That’s why she’s staring at us when I touch you, or you touch each other. She doesn’t have anyone to touch.”

“We can help with that,” Sam says firmly. “She do hugs on occasion?”

Bucky nods. “Just don’t attack her or she’ll freak.”

Sam knows Natasha freaking usually ends up with someone’s arm being broken. “I’m not stupid, Bucky.”

“Of course you’re not,” Bucky grins. He strips his pants off and climbs into bed, completely in the nude. He sleeps clothed only when under duress, and he’s never under duress in this house, unless it’s doing laundry, and even that is negotiable. Steve pulls his Kindle out and turns the light out on his side of the bed, but doesn’t get in.

“Get in bed, Sam,” Bucky says, his arm grabbing for Sam’s. “Stevie’s gotta wait for you, and you can’t keep our best guy waiting.”

Steve blushes a little, and it’s the fucking cutest thing, the way he blushes when Bucky calls him “our best guy.” Sam kisses him just for that, and when he pulls away, Steve is smiling like he’s going to put the sun to shame.

“Shut up,” Sam says, but climbs in and scoots over so Bucky’s arm is slung over him and Steve has space to get in on his side.

They used to sleep all over the place, but Sam usually ends up in the middle these days. Steve has his side, whatever else is happening. It’s mostly because he always reads before he goes to sleep, and neither of his boyfriends want him crawling over them to access the nightstand.

“Whatcha reading tonight, Stevie?” Bucky asks, his voice already softened by the darkness and skin contact.

Lulu settles next to Steve’s hips, her tags clinking slightly. The big dogs sleep in the living room, but Lulu is Steve’s darling, so she always sleeps with them. Sam listens to Steve scratch her head and turn his Kindle on.

“Tender is the Night,” Steve says.

“I didn’t know you were reading Fitzgerald,” Bucky says into Sam’s neck. “You like him?”

“Yeah, I do.”

“Will you read to us?”

“Sure thing, Buck,” Steve reaches across Sam and rests his hand on Bucky’s hair for a moment before moving to Sam’s head, his thumb tracing Sam’s ear. Steve clears his throat a little before he starts. It’s the thing he does when he’s going to read, and Sam thinks it’s the cutest shit ever.

“‘You’re all well,’ he said. ‘Try to forget the past; don’t overdo things for a year or so. Go back to America and be a debutante and fall in love- and be happy.’”

Bucky snuggles a little closer to Sam and reaches his arm over Sam out to touch Steve’s thigh.

“‘I couldn’t fall in love.’ Her injured shoe scraped a cocoon of dust from the log on which she sat. ‘Sure you can,’ Dick insisted. ‘Not for a year maybe, but sooner or later.’”

Sam only ever read The Great Gatsby in high school, so he has no idea of what’s going on, but Steve has a great reading voice, and Sam is feeling very warm and loved right now. He falls asleep to the soft cadence of Steve’s voice and Bucky’s breath on the back of his neck.


Natasha joins them on their run the next morning, and actually cracks a smile when Sam smacks Steve’s ass as he laps them.

“Run, white boy,” Sam shouts. “I’ll make you pay later.”

Steve just laughs and runs a little faster, because he’s a little shit like that.

Natasha makes pancakes when they get back, her damp hair pulled into a bun. Sam watches her muscles flex as she stirs the batter, and the concentration with which she drops blueberries into the pancakes. He’s always thought she was hot, but there’s the whole she could murder him with a bobby pin thing, so that thought has often been cut off and suppressed.

“Clint always puts the blueberries in and makes the batter a gross gray color.”

Sam is so surprised that Natasha has willingly offered unnecessary information- that she appears to be trying to start a conversation- that he almost drops the butter he was softening in the microwave. Steve pauses French braiding Bucky’s hair at the table and meets Sam’s eyes with the same subtle expression of disbelief on his face.

“Bucky does that too,” Steve says, resuming his task. “They always taste really good and look terrible.”

Natasha laughs. Sam thinks he’s going to spend the entire time she’s here being surprised. He wants to tell her she has a beautiful laugh, but he’s kind of afraid she’ll stab him if he says that, so he keeps his mouth shut and puts the butter in the crock.

“Clint’s don’t always taste the best. He makes killer sandwiches, though. Phil’s the one who makes the best pancakes.”

Steve raises an eyebrow. “Coulson lets you call him that?”

“I’m the reason he and Clint finally got off their asses and got together, so yes, I call him Phil. There’s no ‘letting me’ involved.” Natasha flips a pancake and turns her head to fix Steve with a look.

Bucky mumbles something into the hand propping his head up.

“Speak up, sweetheart,” Sam says.

“That’s not what Clint says,” Bucky repeats.

“Clint is an idiot.” She clears the griddle of pancakes and starts pouring new ones. “Phil admits it was my doing.”

Steve pulls the hairband off his wrist and finishes Bucky’s braid. He pats Bucky’s shoulder and says “All done, Buck.”

Bucky slowly tips his head back and to the side in an invitation to be kissed. Steve kisses him softly until Bucky tries to slip his tongue inside Steve’s mouth and Steve pulls away. Sam can’t help the way his mouth is a little open, because Bucky’s mouth turns red after two point five seconds of kissing and he looks kind of obscene. Steve is blushing a little because Natasha is right there, but he did pull away so Sam doesn’t know why he’s embarrassed. It’s pretty hard to mistake the sound of kissing, but she doesn’t turn around or say something sarcastic about getting a room, just lifts up the edge of a pancake to check if it’s ready to flip.

Bucky mumbles something that Sam’s pretty sure is “Been awhile since you kissed me properly, Stevie.”

Steve blushes again and rubs his palms on his thighs. “Bucky, we’re at the kitchen table and Natasha’s here.”

“She doesn’t mind,” Bucky says, insistent.

Natasha shrugs, still not turning around. “If you start having sex on the table, I will leave and take my pancake making skills with me.”

“Buck,” Steve says low and firm. “Let’s have breakfast.”

“You’ve gotta work after breakfast.” Bucky turns around in his chair and fixes Steve with an insolent look. “And when you work you never wanna do anything.”

Sam crosses his arms. “Bucky, if you want to be kissed, you can be kissed all you want. After breakfast. I don’t have to go in today until noon.”

Bucky grumbles but rubs the sleep out of his eyes. “I’m holding you to that, sweetheart.”

Natasha finally turns around, her face inscrutable, two plates piled high with pancakes in her hands. “For the men who eat more than humanly possible every meal,” she says, and shoves the plates across the table at Steve and Bucky. “Normal human portions coming soon for Sam and I.”

“Thank you,” Bucky says sincerely, before starting to plow through them.

Steve primly picks up his fork and starts the slow process of eating. Sam snorts, because it will never be old, the man being capable of eating so much and insisting on taking his damn time about it.

“It’s better for your digestive system,” Steve says, on his third bite. Bucky’s already finished two pancakes.

“Steve, your digestive system doesn’t care how slowly you eat. You could eat literal garbage and your body wouldn’t even let you get the shits.” Sam’s had this conversation a hundred times, but Steve is an old man on the inside, and it fucking shows.

Sam makes Natasha sit down with her own plate and makes his own from the last of the batter. She actually talks this meal, and not just in Russian. He hopes she’s getting the rest she needs, but again, actually asking her about that stuff seems like a medical risk. Bucky’ll talk to them if there’s something wrong.

“Sam,” Steve says, finally finished with three of his twelve pancakes.

Sam hums around his mouthful.

“We need to go to Costco this week.”

Bucky’s head rises from a foot above his almost empty plate. “Costco?” he asks, his voice the brightest it’s been this morning.

Bucky fucking loves Costco. He’s almost been kicked out like four times because he takes all the samples and touches literally everything. The sausage incident is by far the most memorable of the four, and is exactly the reason why Sam and Steve have traded off on Bucky watch the last couple times they’ve gone to Costco.

“You can make the list,” Sam says.

Bucky’s whole face lights up. “I love making the list,” he says. “I make the best lists.”

He really does. Steve’s are usually illegible because his handwriting is either gorgeous or terrible, and it’s only ever gorgeous when he’s really trying. Sam can write a decent list, but he always forgets something really important like toilet paper or glass cleaner. Bucky’s the only one without a job right now, and therefore when he dedicates his time to something, he’s very thorough and careful about it instead of stressed out and rushed.

He buys special pads of paper just to make grocery lists. His current one is sky blue with butterflies on it, and he’s informed Sam and Steve the next one is going to be pink, but he can’t find the right one yet, so if they find something they think he might like, they should tell him.

Sam thinks that he’s never been more in love with Bucky than he is right now, and then Bucky grins even wider and tells Natasha that she should help him make the list today, and Sam feels like he needs to sit down even though he’s already sitting down.

Bucky is thoughtful like that, and it somehow manages to take Sam by surprise after all this time. Steve smiles across the table at Sam, and it’s his “We’re in love with the best guy on the planet” smile.

Sam matches his smile, and that’s when Natasha tells them to get a room. When they’re smiling at each other because Bucky is wonderful. Sam laughs and Steve ducks his head, still grinning.

Bucky rolls his eyes and mops up the syrup on his plate with his last bite of pancake. “Don’t get a room without me,” he says, his mouth full of syrup and blueberries.

“Not without our Bucky,” Steve says, his whole face glowing.

Natasha stands up abruptly and reaches for Bucky’s plate. “I’ll wash up,” she says, and she’s obviously trying not to intrude or some bullshit, but Sam really does want her to have a good time.

“Sit back down,” he says. “It’s Monday, and therefore Bucky’s day for kitchen cleanup. You’re a guest, and we want you here.”

She sits, the plates still clenched in her hands. She does not relax.

“Nat,” Bucky says slowly. “It’s nice having you here. I promise we all like you. We’re not trying to make you uncomfortable.”

“You’re not,” she says.

Steve leans forward. “You’re not a good liar when you’re around people who’ve known you as long as we have.”

Natasha’s mouth is a firm line, her eyes trained on the tablecloth.

Bucky flicks his eyes over at Sam briefly before standing up. “Nat, you’re gonna dry if you want to be so insistent about making yourself useful.”

She nods and stands, taking the plates in her hands over to the sink. Bucky pulls out his phone and taps something out before starting to clean off the counter. Sam and Steve’s phones vibrate ten seconds later.

we need 2 talk abt Nat

Steve responds first, his remaining four pancakes temporarily abandoned.

Of course. Should we go out tonight?

Might be better, Sam replies. She can have the house completely to herself and we haven’t gone out in like three weeks anyways

thats cuz were old and boring now Bucky shoots back, his phone carefully balanced in his hand. vietnamese? we gotta drive forever for it but might b worth it

Sounds good

Sounds wonderful, Steve texts a moment later.

Bucky finds Sam in their office after he and Natasha are done in the kitchen. Steve has his own office, because he’s terrible and his art stuff is everywhere all the time. Bucky’s got a desk on the other wall and his Xbox, so if Sam’s got work from home, he can be with him.

Bucky’s also writing a book (they think), but he won’t let Sam or Steve read any of it, nor will he talk about it. They don’t bother him, just make encouraging noises when he says he’s had a good writing day. Sam knows that it eats Steve alive that Bucky has something that he doesn’t talk about. Steve is also mildly overprotective of Bucky, so Sam is constantly telling Steve to calm down, and that it’s good Bucky has something completely to himself.

“You said you were gonna kiss me all I wanted,” Bucky says, with no other warning of him being in the room.

“I fucking hate when you do that, man,” Sam says, spinning around in his chair. “You’re going to give me a heart attack someday.”

Bucky grins and wiggles his fingers. “C’mon, Sam. Don’t leave a guy waiting.”

Sam sighs and stands up. “I’ve got forty minutes before I have to leave.”

Bucky’s grin morphs into a smirk. “That’s plenty of time.”

Sam kisses the smirk right off his face before fumbling them both back so he can shut the office door and lock it. Steve doesn’t need the distraction and Natasha has made it very clear she’s not interested in their sex life.

Bucky’s clingy after sex, so he’s hanging shirtless off of Sam when he heads out the door. He is wearing underwear, which is saying something, but only one sock.

“Steve,” Sam yells. “I have to leave.”

Steve, however, is in the art zone and Sam can hear his music from downstairs, so: Steve is not going to assist him in the art of detaching Bucky after sex. Sam is maybe regretting having sex with Bucky right now.


Probably not.

Sam does not regret having sex with Bucky. He regrets that he wasn’t thinking about giving adequate time for the clinginess afterwards. He could pull out his phone, except Bucky’s kind of on top of the pocket his phone is in.

“Steve,” Sam tries again.

No response.

Natasha emerges from her room after Sam’s started pleading with Bucky to just let go of him for five seconds. Bucky has practically crawled on top of Sam at this point.

She raises an eyebrow.

“He’s very clingy after sex,” Sam says, trying not to feel embarrassed. He just really needs to go to work, and Steve is unavailable to help and Natasha is kind of his only lifeline right now.

Her other eyebrow joins the first.

“Could you possibly help me get him off me so I can go? If you sit and watch a movie with him for like half an hour he’ll be good. Please?”

Natasha doesn’t say anything, but she reaches for Bucky’s arm and says, “Let your boyfriend go to work, Bucky.”

Bucky nuzzles into Sam’s neck and makes a noise of protest. Sam gives Natasha his best impression of Steve’s puppy dog eyes.

She grabs Bucky’s braid and yanks. “He has to go to work. I’ll watch a movie with you if you let go of him.”

Bucky’s nose lifts from Sam’s skin slightly. “Winnie the Pooh,” he says.

“Fine,” Natasha replies.

Bucky’s off of Sam in about a minute, which is to be expected. He’s wrapped halfway around Natasha when Sam shuts the door behind him.

He texts her an apology before putting his seatbelt on, but doesn’t really have a chance to check his phone until he gets off at six. Steve’s let him know that he and Bucky will pick Sam up for dinner tonight and one of them will drive him to work tomorrow, so Sam texts back Sounds fine can’t wait to see you both! then opens all twelve of Natasha’s messages.

I regret helping you

You shouldn’t have had sex with him before work if he was going to be like this

This is your problem and I should have made you deal with it

He fell asleep on my arm and the remote is six feet away at the other end of the couch

I don’t like Winnie the Pooh that much Sam

You owe me


Or at least something expensive


Why did I agree to this

Why did I feel pity for you

I haven’t seen Steve ever since he went up to his office will he emerge for lunch or am I trapped here until your boyfriend decides to wake up???

Sam smiles in spite of himself.

Sorry I was busy all day. I hope Steve rescued you at some point. We make him set an alarm for lunchtime or otherwise he won’t eat, and even then he sometimes doesn’t hear it or gets distracted before he can leave for food. It makes the food problem worse.

Thank you again for helping this morning. I really appreciate it.

He switches to Steve’s texts.

You know what Natasha wants as an apology for making her deal with post sex clingy Bucky this morning?

Natasha replies just then.

Steve did come down at one and he ate.

I’ll be waiting

Sam thinks that sounds too ominous for his liking, but he doesn’t know exactly how to reply, so he shuts his phone off and waits for Bucky to call. Steve nearly always drives, both because he likes it and also because Bucky drives like someone who was taught by people who wiped his brain afterwards.

He doesn’t even have to wait a minute before his phone rings.

“Sam,” Bucky practically shouts. “You left me this morning after sex and that was a dick move. Also we’re here come out right now right now c’mon Stevie and I are gonna treat you to a nice dinner and then we’ll all go home and have sex together and you can’t leave me then okay?”

Sam grabs his jacket and bag and starts to walk out the door, waving at Patricia, the only other person still in the office.

Steve didn’t even park, he’s just idling out front. He rolls down his window and says, “I heard this handsome guy was looking for dinner dates.”

Sam laughs, because Steve has never and will never be smooth. “You heard correctly, handsome.”

Bucky leans over the gearshift. “Get in the back, sweetheart.”

“Asshole,” Sam says affectionately.

Bucky moves his seat up for Sam. Steve reaches back and holds Sam’s hand for a brief moment.

“How was work?” Steve asks, putting the car in drive.

“Good. I think my one patient and I finally made a breakthrough today, and I’m very happy for her.”

“That’s wonderful,” Steve says.

Bucky twists around in his seat, shoving his seatbelt down so he can almost face Sam. “I’m not actually mad about you this morning, you know that?”

“Of course,” Sam says, blinking quickly.

“Good.” Bucky faces the front of the car again. “If I’m ever really mad at you, sweetheart, it’ll be because you went and died on me.”

They don’t really talk about that. They all know Sam is not enhanced and Steve and Bucky do not have a single strand of gray in their hair despite their age. There’s a high likelihood that Sam is going to die before either of his partners, but he is comforted by the fact that they’ll have each other.

“Not happening anytime soon,” Sam says firmly.

Steve puts his hand in the back of Sam’s pocket when they get out of the car, tugging him in for a kiss. “Sorry I couldn’t help this morning.”

“It’s fine,” Sam says, breathing in Steve’s smell and relishing the brush of his thigh against Sam’s. “I love you.”

“Love you too.” Steve’s eyes crinkle, and honestly it should be fucking illegal for Steve to smile. He’s too beautiful.

Bucky crowds into their space. “You two better not be planning to stare at each other like that all night. I want pho.”

He gets two bowls and finishes before Sam’s even halfway through his bánh xèo. Steve gets a double order of lemongrass chicken and is still eating it while Sam and Bucky split bánh bò for dessert.

“We need to actually talk about Natasha,” Bucky says. “Not just Stevie’s porn habit that finances his house husband and counsellor boyfriend.”

“Hey,” Sam interjects, with absolutely no heat behind it. “If you’re his husband, I get to be his husband too.”

“You’re his husband too,” Bucky says. “We’re all married. You happy now? We gotta talk about Nat.”

Sam nods and Steve’s got his mouth full, so Steve gestures for Bucky to start.

Bucky crosses his arms and leans back in their booth. “Nat talked to me a little more this afternoon. She still didn’t explicitly say anything, because she’s herself, but she’s thinking coming here was a mistake. Apparently Barton and Coulson finally bought a house. They’re always gonna be happy to have her, but she feels like she’s just a third wheel all the time.”

Sam wipes his mouth with his napkin and wraps his arm around Steve’s shoulders. “So what you’re saying is that she thinks she’s going to die alone and is a lot more afraid of it than she wants to let on.”

Bucky shrugs. “Pretty much.”

Steve finishes chewing, scraping his plate to gather his remaining rice into a pile. “What can we do to help?”

“Somehow, I don’t think she’ll take to being set up on dates too well.” Sam taps Bucky’s ankle with his foot.

“I tried already and she yelled at me for like a week straight. Bad idea,” Bucky confirms.

“So helping her is out of the question?” Sam actually doesn’t want Natasha to be miserable. He wants to see if they can do anything. He’s been lonely and alone himself. It’s not fun, especially when all your friends are happy and in love. He knows Steve and Bucky are intimately acquainted with the idea of being alone, more so than him, so they’re all on the same page here.

“I don’t think so.” Bucky fiddles with his fork. “I think we should give it a week and try to include her in stuff. I mean, it’s not like we can ask her to sleep with us, but we can make sure that the next time we go out she comes along.”

“But won’t that make it worse?” Sam removes his arm from Steve’s shoulders and settles his hand on Steve’s thigh instead.

Bucky throws his hands up. “Maybe. But we gotta try, Sam.”

“Okay,” Steve says, finally finishing the food on his plate. “Bucky, tell Natasha she needs to stay for at least two weeks. Make sure she knows how welcome she is and how much we want her here. If she wants to help around the house and do chores, tell her we’re doing the chore chart for the month on this weekend and we can add her in. She wants to chip in for groceries? Let her. We want to make her feel like she’s a part of the household.”

Sam nods. “That’s doable.”

“And in the meantime, we’re going to brainstorm ideas to help.” Steve flags down their waiter and asks for the bill.


Natasha keeps to herself the next couple of days, but Bucky assures Sam and Steve that he talked to her and she agreed to spend two full weeks with them. He also shows off their list, which is mostly in Natasha’s handwriting, because Bucky was looking through their pantry and fridge and relaying what they needed. Sam and Steve nod approvingly and Bucky tucks it carefully into his wallet.

Friday when Sam gets home from work, Bucky is in the side yard, him and Greg and Rosie in the camp chairs, and Natasha in the fourth one with Lulu on her lap. Sam looks on in surprise as Bucky reads to her and the dogs. He’s even more surprised by the expression of contentment on her face. He’s not exactly into interrupting the moment, but they do need to go to Costco.

He decides he’s going to get Steve roused from his artist’s coma first and let the others be for a few more minutes. He takes a photo first, though, because it’s adorable and he wants to show Steve. Said boyfriend is chewing on the end of his pen and staring at the half finished nude in front of him.

“Steve,” Sam says, careful not to startle him.

Steve doesn’t look up. “The feet are wrong,” he says dejectedly. “The feet are fucking wrong.” He drops his pen in disgust and rubs his eyes. “Is it time to go to Costco?”

“No, it’s look at the cute shit Bucky is doing time.” Sam unlocks his phone and pulls up the photo of Bucky, Natasha, and the dogs.

Steve grins. “That is pretty cute.”

“Okay,” Sam says, leaning in to kiss Steve. “Now it’s Costco time.”

“Okay,” Steve says against Sam’s lips. “Now now or in five minutes now? Because you need kissing right now.”

Sam’s kind of glad it’s harder to tell when he blushes. He lets Steve kiss him for another minute, soft and without anything behind it, just physical contact between two men in love.

Steve’s the one to pull away first, another soft press of lips against Sam’s before he says “Alright, alright, we gotta go shopping now.”

“No, Stevie,” Bucky says from the doorway. “We gotta go to Costco.”

Sam claps a hand to his chest and turns around. “Heart attack, Bucky. Heart attack.”

Bucky grins. “Nat is getting dressed. Said she wanted to change and I wasn’t about to argue with her.”

Steve stretches. “I need shoes. Want me to drive or are you doing it?”

“I’ll drive,” Bucky offers.

Sam and Steve say “No, you won’t” at the exact same time. It has nothing to do with Bucky only having one arm and everything to do with how terrible a driver he is.

“Geez, way to make a guy feel loved.” Bucky claps his hand to his chest in mock disgust. “I’m telling on you to Nat.”

“Telling me what?” Natasha appears behind Bucky’s shoulder just then.

Sam fights the urge to deny everything. He honestly shouldn’t be freaked out by her after so many years of being her teammate in life or death situations, but she never drops the air of “I know twenty-seven ways to kill you without a single weapon and you know it,” so Sam thinks maybe he’s justified.

He realizes with a start that she never drops that attitude because it’s her shield. No one can get close enough to hurt her if she doesn’t let anyone get close. Bucky probably has a pass on it, because he doesn’t care. He knows just as many or more ways to kill someone without a weapon. There’s a safety in knowing someone is on your level, Sam supposes. He needs to talk with Bucky and Steve about their official plan to Help Natasha Romanoff be Less Lonely.

But first, Costco.

“That Sam and Steve are being mean and won’t let me drive.”

Natasha raises an eyebrow. “I’ve experienced your driving. It’s not happening.”

Bucky groans. “You’re all being mean.”

“No, we’re being safe.” Sam slaps Bucky on the back. “Let Steve get some shoes on and then we’ll go. You’ve got the list?”

Bucky steps forward, shoving his hand in his pocket. “Of course I’ve got the list. Who do you think I am, Steve?”

Sam doesn’t answer because Natasha is wearing a dress. She’s worn dresses before. That’s not what has him shocked. What has him shocked is that it’s not skintight, it’s yellow, and there are flowers on it. She looks soft.

She notices he’s staring and crosses her arms. “What,” she says defensively.

“I like your dress,” is all Sam manages to say to save himself. He’s not sure it works completely, but she does say thank you.

Steve feeds the dogs before they leave, giving Lulu a kiss on the head and informing her they’ll be back soon.

Bucky says, “Yeah, yeah, Stevie. You love your baby. C’mon. Costco time.”

Sam drives, and Bucky rarely ever relinquishes shotgun, so Steve is in the back with Natasha. Sam is pretty sure they get along alright if they do actually talk, so he’s not particularly worried about anything happening. He’s not thinking about why he would be worried about being semi-alone with Natasha.

It’s forty minutes to Costco, so Bucky commandeers the radio and they listen to Marina and the Diamonds the entire time, Bucky singing along. He has a wonderful voice, and neither Sam nor Steve pretend to hate pop, so the car is filled with their happy singing. Natasha doesn’t join in, but when Sam catches a glimpse of her face in the rearview mirror, there’s a hint of a smile on her lips.

It takes forever to find a spot, because it’s a Friday night, but Sam manages to be only sixteen cars from the entrance, so he counts the ten minutes spent circling as worth it.

“List check,” Bucky says once they’re parked, his entire face lit up. He pulls his wallet out and produces the butterfly covered piece of paper.

“Card check,” Sam says, and all three of them pull their Costco cards out.

“Cart duty,” Steve says.

“I’ll do it,” Natasha says.

Sam turns around and pretends to appraise her. He knows there’s probably no one better than Natasha Romanoff to navigate the maze of Coscto on a Friday night, but he’s not entirely sure she’s ever been to one.

“Have you ever even been to Costco before?” Sam raises an eyebrow.

She shrugs. “No, but how different can it be than any other grocery store?”

Steve laughs and Bucky yells indignantly. “How fucking dare you, Nat? It’s fucking Costco!”

“Yeah,” Sam says. “It’s fucking Costco.”

Steve has a very solemn look on his face. “We get the privilege of introducing you to Costco.”

“We’re popping your Costco cherry,” Bucky shouts. It’s loud enough a woman walking to her car gives them a dirty look.

Steve blushes a little.

Sam shakes his head and jingles his keys. “Come on, you lot. Give Nat the regular cart, Steve. You get the big one. Show her where the center of gravity is on it, and she should be alright.”

Natasha is giving them wary looks. “If you start speaking some weird lingo, I’m going to sit in the car the entire time.”

“Food court,” Bucky says excitedly. “Food court, Nat.”

She gives him a blank look.

“He’s in love with Costco pizza,” Steve says. “Sometimes I think he’s gonna leave us for it.”

“I would never, Stevie,” Bucky says, finally opening his door. “But I might for their ice cream. Sorry, Sam.”

Sam shrugs. “I might leave me for Costco pizza. No apologies needed.”

Natasha trails after them, trying to pretend she knows exactly what’s going on. She takes a cart with raised eyebrows when Bucky pulls one out and hands it off to her with a flourish.

“Bucky fucking loves Costco,” Sam says, by way of explanation.

Steve has his card out ready to flash at the greeters, but Bucky beats him to it.

“I know who you are,” the lady at the door says, narrowing her eyes.

Bucky just smiles and says “Good evening,” before shoving his card back in his wallet and sticking his hand in Steve’s back pocket.

Natasha’s taking in every man, woman, and child going past them, the aisles rising in front of them.

“You need to sit in the car?” Sam asks, not making his voice anything except measured and calm.

“I’m fine,” she says, and pushes the cart forward.

It takes her a couple of turns to get the hang of it, and Bucky grins proudly at her when she doesn’t clip anyone, their cart, or a display.

“Where are we off to first?” Sam looks at Bucky in question, even though they’re halfway across the store already.

“We’re starting with toilet paper,” Steve says, a hint of amusement in his voice.

“And then produce,” Bucky states, withdrawing his hand from Steve’s ass to pull a pen from his pocket. He shoves the pen in his bun and then pulls his list out. Every time one of them brings something back to the carts, he carefully places the list on top of the closest flat surface and crosses something off.

Natasha has no clue where anything is, so she stands with their carts in particularly crowded sections while Sam, Steve, and Bucky peel off in different directions. She watches in either horror or awe or both as they fill both carts completely and start piling things. Sam would be joining her if he hadn’t been doing this for a long time now. So what if Steve and Bucky eat enough for ten people? It’s just his life. She doesn’t complain about the weight, just shifts her shoulders and adjusts for it while she steers.

Bucky’s practically vibrating when they pass a sample stand that actually still has samples. “Sam,” he whisper-shouts. “Sam.” He clutches at Sam’s arm, almost nonverbal with excitement.

“I’m getting your sample for you,” Sam says firmly. “Or Natasha can do it, if she wants.”

Natasha crosses her arms. “I’m good.”

Steve returns with the dog food over his shoulder just then. People are definitely staring at his muscles as he walks by (and it’s not like Sam isn’t staring at Steve’s muscles too), but his focus is completely on Sam and Bucky. He grins at them when he drops the bag underneath Natasha’s cart, rearranging the toilet paper.

“I’ll get Bucky’s sample,” he says. “Stay right where you are, Buck. We don’t want a repeat of the sausage incident.”

Bucky grips Sam’s arm a little tighter. “I’m gonna be good, Steve. I promise.”

Steve puts up a warning hand and crosses the cart traffic. He says something to the sample lady, who smiles and touches her hairnet. He takes four samples, gesturing over to where Bucky, Sam, and Natasha are standing.

The sample lady’s smile tightens when she sees Bucky. She starts to say something angrily, but Steve smiles at her again and says something that must be placating enough he’s allowed to leave with their samples. The power of Steven Grant Rogers is the only reason Bucky wasn’t actually kicked out of Costco, after all.

Bucky grabs the paper cup from Steve as soon as he’s within range.

“Ooh, it’s a smoothie,” Bucky says, dumping the contents of the cup in his mouth immediately.

Sam kind of wants to kiss him right now, but not exactly with so many people around, so he settles for a hand on Bucky’s cheek. When he pulls away, Natasha is looking at her cup, her face empty of any hint as to what she’s feeling.

“That’s good,” she finally says. “Better than I expected.”

Sam downs his cup in half a second, because they never ever fill these things all the way, and it’s a crying shame. “Yeah,” he agrees. “It’s good.”

“Shut up,” Bucky says. “It’s great. We’re getting it. Stevie, go ask the lady where the smoothie mix is. We’re definitely getting it.”

“We don’t need it,” Steve protests, but everyone knows that Steve is going to buckle in less than a minute.

“Stevie,” Bucky says, crossing his arms. “Nat likes it. I like it. Sam likes it. You like it. We’re getting it.”

Steve sighs and gathers their cups so he can throw them in the trash can on his way to get the smoothie mix.

The checkout lines are all the way back to the floral arrangements, and Bucky heaves a deep sigh. “We’re gonna be here a long time, Nat. Wanna play count how many doves are in the rafters?”

Natasha looks up, startled. Maybe they should have mentioned that their Costco has a bit of a dove problem.

“I’m good,” she finally says. Then, “Why are there fucking birds in the ceiling?”

“Good question,” Sam replies.

“We have no clue,” Steve finishes. “But Bucky likes them, and I think if the management knew, they’d get rid of them just to make sure Bucky didn’t come back.”

“What exactly did he do to warrant all the dirty looks?” Natasha leans her elbows on her cart, pushing the pack of pasta forward slightly.

“We’ll tell you someday, but I’m pretty sure if we brought it up in Costco we’d be asked to leave.” Steve shrugs. “Bucky’s not ashamed of it, he’s just pissed that Costco people don’t like him more.”

“Costco should love me,” Bucky mutters. “We give them enough of our fuckin’ money that they should be crawling all over themselves to thank us. Not threatening to kick me out.”

“Of course,” Sam says, rubbing Bucky’s shoulder.

Bucky leans against him, resting his head on Sam’s shoulder. “We should watch a movie when we get home,” he says.

Steve nods and Natasha shrugs.

“It’s a plan,” Sam says.

There’s a new guy checking them out that none of them have seen before, but he’s still got Bucky’s Costco membership picture tacked next to the cash register.

Steve grits his teeth when he sees it. “They’re acting like he’s a criminal,” he says, his voice low and angry.

Bucky bumps the back of Steve’s neck with his nose. “Calm down, Stevie. I’m not mad.”

“Should be,” Steve says, even lower.

Sam places a hand in the small of Steve’s back and smiles at their cashier. “Whatever size boxes you want,” he says. “We’re a bunch of strong people.”

The cashier’s eyes flick over all four of them, lingering on how Natasha is a little apart from the men and Bucky’s empty sleeve. He laughs a little nervously and says “That you are, sir.”

After their carts are full again, Steve turns to Bucky. “Are we just getting the usual or something different tonight?”

Bucky shrugs and turns to Natasha. “Nat, you okay with pizza, or do you want a hot dog? They’ve also got salads and chicken bakes and turkey and provolone sandwiches, or maybe you just want a smoothie?”

She looks a little taken aback by Bucky’s knowledge of the menu, as does the cashier. The people behind them are getting kind of impatient but Sam, Bucky, and Steve focus their attention on Natasha and wait for her answer.

“What’s the usual?” She finally asks, tapping the fingers of one hand against her other wrist.

“Four supreme pizzas, one cheese, and one pepperoni. I always get their berry sundae and Sam gets their smoothie, but Stevie likes to get lemonade,” Bucky rattles off.

“Pizza’s fine,” she says. “And I’ll get some ice cream too.”

“Okay,” Steve says. “You get all that?” he asks the cashier, his card in his hand.

“Yes,” the cashier says, then names the same obscene number their total always is, and Steve inserts his card.

The food court is crowded and noisy like it always is, and Sam turns to Nat again. “We can eat in the car if you want.”

“I’m fine,” she says again, but Steve notices the way her knuckles are turning white on the cart handle too, and announces that he would rather eat in the car.

Sam backs him up. “We’ve been here for an hour and a half. It’d be better to start the drive back and Bucky can feed me while I drive if I need it.”

Natasha opens her mouth to protest, but Bucky slings his arm around her shoulders and says, “C’mon Nat. You don’t have to be uncomfortable because you don’t wanna ruin the Costco experience. It’s fine.”

“Okay,” she says, and doesn’t relax until their pizzas are procured and the groceries are in the back of the car.

Sam sits in the driver’s seat, but doesn’t start the car right away. “We want you to be with us and be happy,” he says. “We meant that, and I’m speaking for all of us when I say we still mean it. Was the whole thing terrible, or are you alright?”

“It was mostly okay,” Natasha says, her voice sounding kind of faraway. “Is it always that bad?”

“Nope,” Steve says, easy and confident. “It’s Friday night. Middle of a weekday it’s almost deserted.”


That seems to be it where Natasha’s concerned, because she opens the pizza box on top of the stack and grabs a slice.

Bucky feeds Sam half his sundae while Sam drives, because Bucky kind of really likes sharing his food with his boyfriends for some unknown reason. Sam thinks it’s because Bucky has enough to share, but he’s really not here to psychoanalyze his boyfriend. It means he gets ice cream, and he’s not complaining.

Sam didn’t eat a great lunch and it is later than they normally eat, so he manages almost a whole pizza by himself, the box in his lap and a slice in the other. By the time he pulls into their driveway, Natasha’s got the last two slices of cheese on her lap, staring them down.

“I could technically eat these,” she says, pondering. “But I don’t know if I should.”

“I’ll take them,” Bucky says. “But Steve’ll probably need them more than me. He exercises.” Bucky waves his hand in something like disgust. “More calories out. Give the pizza to Steve.”

Steve is nothing if not unselfish where the men he loves are concerned.“If you want them, take them, Buck.”

“Not happening. Eat the fucking pizza, Steve,” Bucky says, unbuckling his seatbelt. “Now come on. We have perishables in this car.”

Steve sighs, but eats the pizza while they cart groceries inside. He’s finishing the last piece when they start putting everything away, and Sam kisses his stupid mouth because he kind of loves that Steve is so stubborn about the way he eats. Not that he’s ever going to tell Steve that, but that’s beside the point.

“You taste like ice cream,” Steve says, licking his lips.

Bucky slaps Steve’s ass and presses frozen peas on Sam’s back on his way to the fridge. “Stop macking on each other and help put the food away. Nat’s being more helpful than the both of you put together.”

“Yeah well, you taste like pizza.” Sam ignores Bucky, smiles, and kisses Steve again.

Steve’s got that look in his eyes when Sam pulls away, but they really don’t have time or space for that right now. Maybe if Natasha wasn’t here, but she is, so they break apart, drink some water and finish putting the food away.

Bucky leans against the wall. “I’m pooped,” he says, with a completely serious expression on his face. “Let’s watch Winnie the Pooh.”

“Bucky,” Sam starts, then closes his mouth. Bucky hasn’t bid for Winnie the Pooh when they watch something in a couple of weeks, but when he does, it generally means he’s having feelings about being a family. Which is good.

“Only if we watch The Tigger Movie,” Steve says. “We haven’t watched that in awhile.”

“Deal,” Bucky says, and breathes out through his nose. “You should watch it with us,” he says to Natasha. “We’d like that.”

“Yes,” Steve says emphatically. “We would.”

Sam adds his voice to the pile, but he’s not exactly sure Natasha cares.

“Maybe for a little bit,” she says, her hands behind her back. “I’m kind of tired, though. I might go to bed early.”

“Alright,” Steve says. “We’re all going to change into pajamas. If you want to get more comfortable, you’re welcome to.”

They all go upstairs to their bedroom and move around each other to get their pajamas with the ease of people who have loved each other a long time. Bucky refuses to put on a shirt, but he does concede to pants with no underwear. If Natasha weren’t here, he would be completely naked, but he seems to understand the idea that she might not be into that, so he doesn’t put up a fuss about wearing more clothes than he wants to in his own home.

Natasha has changed into sweatpants and a tshirt when they come down, in the loveseat and on her phone. Greg and Rosie are at her feet, mostly asleep. She looks up when they pile onto the couch, then smirks when Sam, at the bottom of the pile, says “Does one of you have the damn remote?”

Silence meets his question.

“I’m not getting it,” he says. “I’m trapped and it’s not happening.”

“I made the Costco list and put most of the groceries away while you two were being dumb,” Bucky says. “Natasha helped more than you two put together. You get it, Stevie.”

Steve sighs and leverages himself free from the tangle of arms and legs. Bucky ends up with his head pillowed on Sam’s stomach. Sam’s got his head on Steve’s chest, and Steve has a hand in Bucky’s hair. Lulu is asleep in her bed for once, so there’s no dog butt in Sam’s face. They’re not always this in each other’s space, but tonight they’re wanting the comfort of each other’s touch.

Sam looks over at Natasha while the opening credits are playing. She’s got her arms crossed, but she’s put her phone away and is watching the screen. Every time he glances over at her during the movie, her eyes are fixed on the TV.

After an hour, when the movie is almost over, she stands up, says “I’m tired,” and leaves, her bedroom door shutting quietly behind her.

Bucky turns around to look at Sam, his forehead wrinkled.

“When the movie’s done,” Sam whispers, then laces his fingers through Steve’s.

Bucky groans when he tries to sit up at the end of the movie. “I’m never moving,” he announces, flopping back onto Sam.

Sam grunts. “You’re fucking heavy, Bucky. You can’t do that to me. Harass Steve with your body weight all you want but some of us are normal human beings.”

“Stop being a baby,” Bucky says. “So are we gonna talk about Nat now?”

“Her room is right there,” Steve says firmly.

“I’m not moving,” Bucky says, just as firmly.

“She doesn’t have enhanced hearing,” Sam interjects. “But if you think she hasn’t heard us right now, you’re being stupid.”

“Hey Nat,” Bucky yells.

Sam slaps Bucky’s shoulder. “The hell did you do that for?”

Natasha’s door creaks open and she sticks her head out. “What?”

“You mind if we talk about you?”

Sam can’t see Bucky’s face, but he’s ninety-eight percent sure Bucky’s got a shit-eating grin pasted across his face. Sam pinches the bridge of his nose and takes a deep breath.

“I can’t really control what you talk about,” Natasha says, her tone perfectly even. “Now leave me alone, I’m trying to sleep.”

Her door shuts a little harder than it needs to.

Bucky tilts his head back, still smiling. “See?”

“We’re going upstairs,” Sam says. “We’re going to talk. Steve wants sex, so we’re going to have sex. Then Steve is going to read to us, and we’re going to go to sleep. Move, Bucky. The list has been made.”

“Stop bringing lists into this,” Bucky says indignantly. “I don’t want to move.”

“I’ll carry you,” Steve offers, his fingers combing through Bucky’s hair.

“Deal,” Bucky says, finally sitting up.

Steve carries Bucky like a bride all the way up the stairs and dumps him on their bed, then flops down beside him. They look up at Sam in question and he sighs.

“Fine. We can have our Natasha meeting lying down on the bed, but no sex until we’re done.”

Bucky and Steve nod solemnly in unison, and Sam just knows they’re not going to finish this conversation until tomorrow morning. Still, he’s going to try.

“Do you think our plan so far is working?”

Bucky shrugs. “I think so, but Nat likes to hide her feelings, so I might be totally wrong.”

“It was good tonight,” Steve says. “She was happy with us.”

“Yeah?” Sam sits down on the edge of the bed, still out of reach of both of his boyfriends. “I realized she puts up that thing where you are constantly aware of her being capable of killing you so she pushes everyone away.”

Bucky stares at him for thirty seconds before curling up with laughter. “You’re a fucking therapist sweetheart, and you can’t figure that out until you’ve known her for ten years?”

“Shut up,” Sam says, and pokes Bucky’s stomach.

It’s a mistake, because then Bucky can roll onto Sam’s arm and pin him down closer to Bucky and Steve.

“I’m going to do something with her this weekend,” Steve says, sitting up so he can strip his shirt off. “Maybe I’ll ask to draw her.”

“Good idea,” Bucky says. “Know what’s an even better idea?”

Steve looks at him expectantly.

“Letting me blow you.”

“Okay,” Sam says. “So we all think Natasha is feeling less lonely?”

“I’m feeling lonely right now,” Bucky says, rolling closer to Steve.

Sam gives up and starts taking his clothes off. They did actually talk, and Bucky’s already kicked his pants off so he figures they’re good for now.


Natasha runs with Sam and Steve in the morning, saying nothing about last night. She sits with Bucky and messes with his hair at the table while Steve makes a pot of oatmeal and Sam cuts fruit up. Sam’s pretty sure they weren’t very quiet last night, but she still hasn’t said anything, and he’s sure as hell not going to bring it up.

“I’m going to fix the porch light today,” Steve says. “And repaint the porch railing. Any of you wanna help?”

“You should’ve let me make the list,” Bucky says slowly, his spoon halfway to his mouth. “The faucet in the downstairs bathroom won’t stop dripping.”

“You should have said something,” Steve says to Natasha, who is studiously examining the bits of apple in her bowl.

“It doesn’t bother me,” she says, and takes a bite without looking up.

“I’ll show you how to fix it,” Sam says, surprising himself.

Steve turns to Sam and raises an eyebrow, silently asking when Sam became so buddy buddy with Natasha. Sam shrugs, not really having an answer.

“Okay,” she says. “I’ve got some stuff I have to do after breakfast, but I’ll be done by ten.”

“Sounds good,” Sam replies, refusing to allow it to be awkward.

Bucky yawns and shoves his hair back, fumbling at the ponytail on his wrist. “Stevie, will you do my hair?” he asks, draping his arm across the table.

Steve pulls the ponytail off and pushes his chair back to walk around the table. He’s well-practiced in the way Bucky likes his buns, and Bucky’s hair is neatly out of his face and up within thirty seconds.

“Thanks, Stevie.” Bucky yawns again, louder this time. He reaches down to pet Rosie underneath the table.

Steve rests his hand on the back of Bucky’s neck, his thumb rubbing circles. “You’re welcome,” he says softly. “Anytime, Buck.”

Bucky’s decision to get rid of his metal arm and not get another one was carefully thought out. Bucky likes telling people that it was because he couldn’t be bothered with it, but really it’s because he wanted a chance to have his own body completely to himself. It’s not like he never goes to do something and then realizes he doesn’t have his other arm, but he likes it this way. He wants it this way. People stare, but they tend to do that anyways because Bucky looks kind of intimidating.

“Oh,” Steve says, pulling his hand from Bucky’s neck and coming around to sit down again. “Chore chart. You want to do it at lunch?”

“Fine by me,” Sam says, then downs the rest of his coffee. Bucky made it this morning, surprise of all surprises, but he makes good coffee, so Sam’s having another cup when he gets up.

Natasha knocks on the open office door at exactly ten. Bucky’s sitting in his chair writing, and he pauses typing to glance up at her.

“Hey Nat,” he says, then returns to his task.

“You ready to fix the sink?” Sam asks, closing his browser window and putting his computer to sleep.

“That’s a dumb question,” Natasha replies, her expression bland.

“Yeah, sweetheart,” Bucky pipes up. “Don’t ask dumb questions.”

Bucky doesn’t look up again, but Sam flips him off anyways.

“Alright,” he says. “I’m just going to go in the garage and get what I need.”

Natasha is waiting for him in the bathroom, leaning against the sink. It’s dripping quite steadily, enough that he wonders exactly how she hasn’t climbed a wall in irritation.

“This is actually pretty easy.” He lays down a towel so the floor won’t kill his knees, because again, he’s not exactly young here, and he never treated his body well when he was young. “The first thing we have to do is shut the water off.”

Sam opens the cabinet underneath the sink and clicks on his flashlight. Natasha crouches next to him to see, still carefully not touching him.

“See the handle there?” He points and reaches to turn it. “Always go clockwise to turn the water off.”

He has no fucking clue if she’s bored out of her mind already, or is only here to placate him, Steve and Bucky. He’s started, though, and like hell if his momma raised a quitter.

“Okay,” Sam says. “Now we need to plug the drain so we don’t lose a washer in the pipes. Makes our lives a whole lot harder than they need to be.”

By the time he’s hauled himself upright- again with the not being young thing- Natasha has the stopper in the drain and is leaning against the wall with her arms crossed.

“Done,” she says. “What next?”

Okay. So maybe she’s not bored. Sam doesn’t even know why he’s trying to read into this so much.

“There’s a couple different kinds of faucet.” He reaches down to open the toolbox and pull the screwdriver out. “The one in this bathroom is a compression faucet, which is easy to identify because it’s the kind with two handles.”

She’s watching him when he stands up, not looking exactly interested but not bored either.

“Do you want to take the handles off?” Sam proffers the screwdriver, figuring it can’t hurt to actually try to involve her.

Natasha takes the screwdriver and then carefully and neatly dissembles the handles.

“Now we need to take the nuts out,” he says, focusing on keeping a straight face. It doesn’t mean anything, because Bucky walks past in the living room, cackling.

“You are an actual child,” Sam yells, because he can, and Bucky is.

Natasha’s smiling a little when he returns to the task at hand.

Sam clears his throat and hands her the wrench. “As I was saying, we’ve gotta get the nuts out.”

Once she’s done, he reaches over and pulls the stem out of the left side. She moves out of the way so he can get the right too. He grabs the abandoned screwdriver and starts unscrewing the bottom of the stem to get at the seat washer, explaining as he goes.

“And now we go to the hardware store with this in tow. Only way to make sure we’re getting a replacement that fits properly.” Sam pauses and looks at her. “If you want to go with me. You don’t have to.”

He has no clue why the fuck he’s making such a big deal about a ten minute trip, but maybe this is going back to his weird feeling about being alone with Natasha. It’s not like he’s going to cheat or anything, just. He can’t really get a read on her. But he’s trying. They have a plan to help her be less lonely. He lifts one shoulder in a shrug, hoping that the silence isn’t going to turn awkward.

“I’ll go,” she says.

She sits up front, so she’s close to him again, but she doesn’t start conversation, and Sam doesn’t know what the fuck to say without Steve or Bucky there to ease the way, so he just concentrates on driving.

Natasha follows him into the store, her flip flops breaking through the background noise of fellow customers. It feels odd, knowing that the Black Widow wears flip flops in her down time. It just feels odd knowing the Black Widow in her down time. Maybe that’s it. He never really hung out with her outside the battlefield, and when they did stuff as a team, he always hung out with other people. He doesn’t know how to be friends with Natasha, and he’s known her longer than the people he currently works with.

Sometimes, Sam hates himself just a little.

He doesn’t know exactly why she agreed to come, but maybe she wants to do something about the not being friends thing. He’ll take it. It’s honestly awkward and weird not being friends with someone both his partners are friends with. She’s living with them, for however long, and it’s been an entire week without an actual conversation between the two of them. He figures he ought to be an adult about it, now that he’s having epiphanies.

“I’m sorry I never bothered trying to be your friend,” he says after he’s checked out and Natasha is walking beside him back to the car. “Your friendship is important to both of the people that I love and I kind of wrote you off.”

She doesn’t stop walking, but there is a tiny hitch in her next step. “Oh?” she asks.

“It wasn’t on purpose,” Sam says, feeling the need to explain himself a little. “I’d like to try.” He turns to face her when they reach the car, but doesn’t move to unlock it yet. “Can I do that?”

Natasha eyes him for a long moment, then says, “Apology accepted.”

He laughs a little in relief. “Good,” he says. “Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me.” She raps on the window. “Unlock the car. I never did anything either.” She’s wearing her seatbelt before she says, “I guess I’ve been kind of jealous.”

Sam whips his head around to stare at her, his hand paused right before he turned the key in the ignition. “What?”

“You always had Steve and Bucky’s attention. I mean, they’re my friends, but you’re the one they spent all their time with.”

He opens his mouth to protest, and then he realizes she’s right. Even before he, Steve, and Bucky figured out the romantic part of their relationship, they spent most of their free time together.

“I’m not completely at fault for that,” he finally says, starting the car.

“I know.” There’s not even a hint of resentment in her voice, and he’s trying to figure out what that means when she says, “I hear your dick had something to do with it.”

Sam can’t help the laughter that bubbles out of his mouth, and after half a second, she joins him. He’s not exactly sure they’re one hundred percent cool and best buddies now, but he feels infinitely better entering their house than he did when they left it half an hour ago.

Natasha reassembles the sink herself, actually giving Sam a grin when she unplugs it and turns the water back on. The faucet doesn’t leak when she turns it on and off again experimentally. She has her hand up for a high five, but Sam is so surprised he stares at her hand for long enough she pushes her hand in his face.

“You’re getting slow in your old age, Wilson.” There’s a hint of something that might be happiness in her voice.

She’s not exactly that happy after mountains of egg salad sandwiches are consumed at lunch. The whiteboard they use as their monthly chore chart has been wiped clean and Steve is holding the board for Bucky while Bucky meticulously writes out August at the top. He then passes the marker to Steve and holds the ruler while Steve makes the boxes for the calendar. Steve hands the marker back and Bucky labels the days of the week across the top, then starts numbering the days.

Natasha watches, her face as neutral as it always is whenever any of them are actively expressing how well they all know each other. Sam’s writing out the jobs on pieces of paper and folding them in half so they can draw them from one of Bucky’s many beanies.

“I’m going to fuck up your chore chart,” she says suddenly.

Steve looks up from the whiteboard with a start. “What?”

“I’m only going to be here for another week, and you guys divvy up jobs by the month, yes? I’m going to fuck it up and it’ll be more trouble than it’s worth.”

Sam looks at her with an amused smile. “We actually draw by the week and then dump the slips in again for the other weeks. Helps break up the monotony. If we want, we can volunteer for a job we like, but we try to keep a good rotation going. We like it this way.”


Steve smiles at her. “It’s fine, Nat.”

Bucky offers Nat a smile of his own.

“Okay, now I’m getting creeped out,” she says, crossing her arms. “Stop smiling at me.”

Sam ducks his head, but when he glances up, Bucky’s grinning so widely his gums are showing a little.

“I am going to hit you, Barnes.” Natasha’s voice is kind of flat, like she’s trying not to show something, and Sam wonders- not for the first time- exactly what the fuck is going on when she’s like this.

“No, you aren’t.” Bucky tips his head slightly. “Stevie, tell Natasha to stop being a spoilsport.”

“Stop being a spoilsport,” Steve says, without looking up.

Natasha sighs. “I don’t know why I’m friends with you.”

“It’s because you love us,” Bucky says, and there’s the distinctive sound of him tipping his chair back on two legs, which is a fucking terrible idea with only one arm to balance him, but he likes playing with fire when it comes to precarious seating situations, so Sam’s going to let him fall on his ass if he does start to tip too far. Steve won’t let Bucky actually fall, but it’d be funny if it ever actually happened. It doesn’t, because Sam has the (mis)fortune of being in love with a ninja. Bucky’s going to give him a heart attack for real one day.

Bucky draws laundry for all four weeks, and by the end of the chore assignments, Sam is practically crying, he’s laughing so hard. Bucky’s laundry face is truly something to behold. It only takes Bucky a minute to gather himself and turn to Steve, ready to start the spiel.

“Save it,” Natasha says. “I’ll take this week.”

Steve almost chokes on his drink of water. They aren’t exactly…clean when they have sex, and the sheets almost always need to be changed. She is unknowingly volunteering to wash come covered sheets, because there is no way in hell they’re going a week without having sex.

“Nope,” Sam says smoothly. “You’re not getting your hands on my underwear. I’ll take this week, and then you’re stuck with the rest, Bucky. Don’t let him give you his puppy dog eyes, Steve. You’ve taken his laundry duty for three months running now.”

Steve sighs. “You’re right.”

Bucky neatly prints who’s got what job in front of every week, and then divides each day into four lines for the first week, and three lines for the other weeks.

“When you’ve done your stuff, put a check mark or something in your line. We do alphabetically, so I’m at the top, you’re next, then Sam, and Steve is last.”

Natasha nods in understanding.

“Okay,” Sam says. “I have an inbox that needs clearing out.” He pushes his chair back and stretches, groaning a little. When he lowers his arms, Steve, Bucky, and Natasha are all looking at him. “What?”

“You have nice abs, sweetheart,” Bucky says, then pushes the dry erase marker towards Steve so he can cap it.

Sam fights the urge to blush. “Not as nice as yours, honey,” he shoots back.

“You know it,” is Bucky’s response, and if Natasha weren’t here, Sam would probably be grabbing Bucky and licking his abs by now, but she is here, watching them with that look on her face that says nothing at all.

“Emails,” Sam says eloquently, and leaves the room.

Steve comes in after a minute. “Are you okay?” he asks, his eyebrows drawn together. “You were acting a little weird in the kitchen.”

“Natasha’s the one acting weird,” Sam says, not looking up from his computer. Steve’s hand on his shoulder finally draws his attention.

“Sam,” Steve says softly. “Is something wrong?”

“I don’t know,” Sam admits, leaning back in his chair slightly. “I kind of apologized for never putting in the effort to be her friend, and she kind of apologized for being jealous of all the time you and Bucky spent with me and then she made a joke about my dick and we both laughed. And then Bucky started flirting with me, and she was just standing there with that blank look on her face and it was awkward. So I left.”

The furrow in Steve’s forehead appears again. Sam shrugs, then reaches for Steve’s hand with his own.

“I really don’t know,” Sam says. “I’d like to, but I don’t.”

“Okay,” Steve says slowly. He leans down to kiss Sam, then rests his forehead against Sam’s. “I love you.”

“Love you too.” Sam smiles his Steve smile, trying to fit all the sunshine that Steve makes him feel into a single action.

“Your smile could make a guy crash his car,” Steve says, his hand coming up to brush Sam’s cheek.

“Funny,” Sam replies. “Yours was outlawed in forty-three states for the damage it caused.”

Steve laughs and kisses him again.

“I really need to clean out my emails,” Sam says finally. “I’ve been putting it off for approximately three months.”

“I know.” Steve straightens up. “You keep complaining about how stressed it makes you feel, having a cluttered inbox.”

“I’m starting this month off right,” Sam says. “Cleaning out junk.”

“Good.” Steve rests a hand on Sam’s cheek briefly before informing him that the porch railing isn’t going to paint itself and that he needs to get to work.

Bucky texts Sam after an hour.

u gonna b in there all day?

im bored

steve is being boring sam

save me

Sam stares at his phone for a long minute, then finally starts typing.

I’m starting this month off right, Bucky. My inbox is getting cleared today.

If you don’t want to be alone come in the office and write while I work

He pauses before sending his last text.

Or ask Natasha if she wants to play a game or something

Bucky’s response is almost immediate.

shes sitting on the floor w greg & rosie & being very quiet & just petting them while they fall asleep

im not gonna disturb the dogs if they wanna sleep

im bored sam

steves painting the porch


Sam sighs.

Turn on the TV or something

dont want 2

Ask Steve for some paper and draw something




Sam waits two minutes and selects fifteen emails to send to the trash before Bucky finally gives him a clear answer.

ok ill do that


Sam sends him the kissing face emoji and returns to his task. His neck hurts and he’s pretty sure his wrist needs to be iced by the time his inbox is as empty as he can make it, but Steve gives killer massages, so he’s mostly just looking forward to melting into a puddle under Steve’s hands.

Bucky wanders in just then, gripping a piece of paper. “I drew Nat and the dogs,” he says, offering the piece of paper to Sam. Bucky isn’t as good as Steve is, but if he wanted to, he could make some money off his art. He doesn’t want money, though, as he’s told them multiple times. “I just like doing it for me,” he says, and rolls his shoulder in something like a shrug every time.

There’s a charcoal smudge on Bucky’s cheek and across half his nose. Sam licks his thumb and tells Bucky to hold still while he gets most of it.

Bucky makes a face. “You’re not my mom.”

“I most definitely am not,” Sam agrees, finally taking the drawing from Bucky.

Natasha and the dogs are a little hazy, their figures just distinct enough to know what they are, but everything about the drawing is soft. Sam rests his index finger beside the curve of Natasha’s neck. It’s exactly right, and so her.

“This is really good, Bucky.”

“Thanks. You’re married to a real star here, sweetheart.” Bucky smiles- his real and open one, not his shit-eating grin or his quick acknowledgement of emotion. “I’m gonna give it to her.”

“She’ll love it,” Sam says, standing up and pulling Bucky into a hug, careful to keep the drawing clear of their connected bodies.

Bucky rests his head on Sam’s shoulder, breathing in deeply. “You always smell so nice,” he says softly.

Bucky likes really fruity smelling conditioner and body wash, so he kind of always smells like a tropical paradise. Steve likes it and Sam still doesn’t know how to feel about it.

“You just always smell the same,” Bucky continues. “‘S comforting.”

Sam hums. “Glad I can be of service.”

“Shut up, Sam. You’re ruining the moment.”

“And what moment would that be?”

“The one where I tell you I love you.”

“I think we’ve already had that moment.”

“It’s happening again, loser.”

“You’re the one who loves me, so that makes you a loser too.”

“Nope,” Bucky shakes his head, nearly clipping Sam’s jaw in the process. “Stevie’s the real loser because he loves both of us.”

Sam laughs and kisses the side of Bucky’s head. “You’re on dinner tonight,” he says. “What are you cooking?”

Bucky giggles. “Rats.”

“Doesn’t sound very appetizing.”

“Yeah, well, it’s all I could rustle up with such short notice.” Bucky finally pulls away, but keeps his arm wrapped around Sam’s torso.

Sam smiles at him. “Yeah?”

“I’m actually doing teriyaki chicken and rice and broccoli,” Bucky says. “But rats sounds more interesting, doesn’t it?”

A strand of hair slips loose from Bucky’s bun, and Sam reaches to tuck it behind Bucky’s ear without thinking. “More interesting, but not as appetizing.”

“Coward,” Bucky says with a completely straight face. He slips his hand into Sam’s and tugs. “C’mon, I’m consulting Nat.”

Sam follows, glad to not be sitting at his computer anymore.

“Nat,” Bucky says, a little loudly.

She raises a finger to her mouth and shushes him, but Greg and Rosie have already lifted their heads. She sighs and stands up, pulling up her jeans.


“Sam says I shouldn’t make rats for dinner.”

“Coward,” Natasha repeats, perfectly straight faced. “They’re actually kind of good.”

Sam looks from Bucky to Natasha and back again. “You two are fucking with me,” he says. “Stop.”

Bucky sighs. “You’re being boring, sweetheart.” He lets go of Sam’s hand and slaps his ass. “I’ve gotta defrost the chicken and then you owe me a round of Mario Kart.”

Sam turns to Natasha and raises an eyebrow in question. “You want to play with us?”

She shrugs. “Can’t hurt.”

Steve comes in half an hour later to Bucky cackling, Natasha gripping her remote so tightly the plastic looks like it’s about to break, and Sam trying to decide if he’s laughing at Natasha or Bucky more. He gave up playing ten minutes in, content to watch them duke it out.

“Join the peanut gallery,” Sam says, thumping the cushion next to him. “It’s better than TV.”

Steve offers up his paint covered hands in apology. “I need a shower.”

“Have fun!” Bucky yells, not removing his eyes from the screen.

Sam rolls his eyes. “Join us when you’re done, huh?”

Steve nods. “I’m done for today.”

When Steve comes down the stairs, Sam reaches out his arm. Steve comes to him, folding into Sam’s side as if he belongs there.

“You smell nice,” Sam says softly. He turns his head to breathe in the smell of Steve freshly showered, always warm, always solid, always Steve. “Bucky told me earlier he likes that I always smell the same. It’s comforting, apparently. I kind of made fun of him, but he’s right. It’s nice, the way you always smell the same. It makes me feel like I’m home.”

Steve’s cheek warms against Sam’s forehead. “Sam,” he breathes. “You’re gonna embarrass a guy here.”

“Hmm?” Sam tilts his head.

Bucky whoops as he wins the race. Natasha grits out, “Another,” and then Sam’s attention returns to Steve.

“You always say stuff like that,” Steve says, still quietly, but Bucky could listen in if he wanted to. “Stuff that makes me feel like I don’t know what I ever did before I met you.”

“Well,” Sam says. “You generally got yourself in a lot of trouble. When I came along, you just had someone to get into trouble with.”

Steve laughs, low and deep. “You’re not wrong.” He turns his head to kiss Sam, and Sam lets him.

Bucky and Natasha finish their race, her winning this time, overall tied, and Sam and Steve are still kissing, but with a little more heat.

Bucky catcalls them. “Looking good, sweetheart. Stevie, you gotta put more tongue in there. Sam’s probably been begging for it for at least ten minutes by now.”

Steve blushes, pulling his mouth away from Sam’s.

“Stop ruining the moment,” Sam says, still up in Steve’s space.

“Come on,” Natasha says. “You should start dinner.”

“Yeah, it’s not like there’s anyone else here gonna do it. You wanna help?” There’s the sound of Bucky standing up and walking over to the TV to turn it off. “I think Sam and Stevie need some special alone time.”

“Shut up, Buck,” Steve says, his eyes still on Sam.

“Yeah, yeah. I’m gonna go make dinner like a responsible person, and Nat’s gonna help me, because she’s responsible too, but you two make heart eyes at each other all you want.”

Sam laughs a little, and then kisses Steve again. “I should have gotten a shower with you,” he says regretfully, once he’s pulled away a bit.

“Yes,” Steve says slowly. “You should have.”

“We’ve got time before dinner,” Sam grins. “Bucky’ll be at least forty minutes.”

Steve hesitates.

“Stop it,” Sam says. “Natasha knows we’re adults who have sex with each other.”

Steve leans in and kisses Sam like he’s been wanting Steve to the entire time, with a lot of tongue. “Okay,” he says, then grabs Sam’s hand like he’s going to run.

Sam starts running before Steve gets a chance to start, laughing when Steve catches up and starts to pull him up the stairs, almost dragging him.

“Have fun!” Bucky yells from the kitchen. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!”

Natasha laughs a little, then says something in Russian. Bucky answers her, and she laughs louder.

By the time Sam and Steve emerge clothed from their bedroom, dinner is ready.

Bucky grins when he sees them. “I was just about to come break the party up. You two wash your hands?”

Sam rolls his eyes and Steve blushes, because of course he does.

“I’m not going to dignify that with an answer,” Sam replies, leaning against the wall in the kitchen.

Once Steve’s gotten over himself, he settles in to eat just as slowly as he always does. Sam notices that Natasha is watching Steve tonight, not necessarily any two of them together. He’s got no clue what’s going on inside her brain at any given time, but why should would be watching Steve is truly beyond Sam.

Steve’s nearly done when he stops suddenly in his conversation with Bucky about the dogs needing to get their checkups this week. “I almost forgot,” he says, snapping his fingers. “I was going to ask if you’d sit for me, Nat.”

She almost drops her fork. She doesn’t, because she’s the Black Widow, but she almost does. “You want to draw me?” The disbelief is evident in her body language, but her face is that same mask that Sam’s starting to become very, very familiar with.

“Yes,” Steve says, then takes the last bite of his broccoli. “I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t mean it.”

“Like, tonight?” She asks, her figures gripping her fork tightly.

“No. Tomorrow. If you’d only like to sit for a certain time, that’s fine, but I’ll take you as long as you’ll let me.”

“Um.” Natasha says. “I’ll have to think about it.”

“That’s fine.” Steve scrapes his plate with the edge of his fork. “Just let me know.”

She disappears after dinner and doesn’t reappear, though. They’re all reading in bed when Steve’s phone vibrates.

“She says she’ll give me two hours,” Steve reads, his brow furrowed. “That’s it.”

“You think she’ll manage to be alone with you for that long?” Sam puts a finger in his book to hold his place and turns to look at Steve.

“Why wouldn’t she?” Steve looks confused.

“You didn’t notice her looking at you the entire time we ate?” Sam fumbles for his bookmark and replaces his finger with it. “She looked like she might be thinking about murder or something.”

Bucky flips the page in his book. “She always looks like that.”

“Fair point. But do you have an explanation for why she was staring at Steve?” Sam tugs on Bucky’s ponytail a little.

Bucky swats his hand away without looking up. “Stevie is hot as hell. I’d be staring at him too if I was sitting across from him at dinner.”

“Are you saying that Natasha is thirsting after our boyfriend?” Sam turns to Steve. “Steve?”

Steve holds his hands up. “Don’t look at me.”

Bucky slaps Sam’s thigh. “Stop making it weird, Sam.”

“Natasha is the one who made it weird.”

“Yeah?” Bucky finally puts his bookmark- a tissue folded in half- in his book and looks up. “Who’s the one who was staring at Nat during dinner, huh?”

Sam opens his mouth, thinks for a moment, and shuts it again.

“I’m trying to read,” Steve says, but it’s useless.

“Sam, do you have a thing for Nat and you’ve never told us?” Bucky props his head on his hand and stares at Sam in a way that is distinctly disconcerting.

Sam splutters. “I do not have a thing for Natasha. I’m just trying to be her friend, and she keeps acting weird.”

“She might like you better if you called her Nat,” Bucky says, rolling onto his back. “All her friends call her Nat.”

“I’ve noticed,” Sam says, but finds he can’t come up with anything else to say. “Can I go back to reading now?”

“You’re the one who disrupted us,” Bucky says. “Own up to your problems, Wilson.”

“Stop antagonizing me, Barnes.”

“Staring at Nat,” Bucky says, and sticks out his tongue.

Steve sighs deeply and puts his book down. “Can we just stop the staring conversation?”

Bucky lifts his head up and stares at Steve suspiciously. “Oh my god,” he says. “You totally noticed her staring and didn’t say anything. Oh my god, Stevie. Do you have a thing for Nat too?”

Steve does something Sam isn’t expecting and Bucky can’t be. He blushes.

Bucky flops back onto their bed. “I’m moving,” he announces to the ceiling. “My boyfriends may or may not be leaving me for one of my best friends.”

“Listen,” Steve starts. “She’s beautiful. I have eyes. I’m allowed to have eyes. And she’s lonely, and we’re trying to make her feel welcome here, so I didn’t want to say or do anything to make her uncomfortable.”

“My boyfriends aren’t going to leave me because they have a thing for Nat,” Bucky says dramatically, flinging his arm out and hitting Sam in the chest. “They’re going to leave me because they want to make her feel welcome.”

“Stop it,” Sam says, once he’s gathered his breath again. “We’re not leaving you.”

“I know. I’m just teasing you because it’s funny. Besides, Nat is definitely hot. If she was into it, I’d do her.” Bucky tilts his head to look at Steve. “Now that we’ve established that we’d all do Nat if the occasion ever offered itself, you think we can actually go back to reading now?”

“No,” Sam says. “Steve’s sex drive won’t let him. He’s thinking about you doing Nat now.”

Steve carefully smoothes the cover of his book, not looking up.

Sam cackles. “I was joking, Steve.”

Steve does his best to shrug, but his face betrays him. “I’m allowed to think it’s hot.”

“You sure are,” Bucky says, hauling himself upright. “Sam, get the books off the bed before we crush them.”

Sam gathers the books and puts them on the other nightstand, and when he’s turned back, Bucky’s crawled onto Steve’s lap. Steve’s ears are absolutely crimson as Bucky says absolutely filthy things. Sam grins and plops down beside Steve, sliding a hand up Bucky’s thigh. He’s not exactly young anymore, but like hell if he’s sitting this out.


Steve turns absolutely crimson when Natasha comes out of her room the next morning to join them for their run.

“Good morning,” he says, a little unsteadily.

“You choke on something?” She asks, pushing past him to stretch.

“Nope,” Steve says, then turns to Sam with a pleading look on his face.

Sam grins. “You made your bed, now lie in it.”

“I’m not talking to you right now,” Steve says, then opens the back door to let the dogs out. He picks up Lulu and kisses her before setting her down carefully on the porch.

Natasha looks at Sam when Steve sets off faster than he normally does. “Everything alright?”

“Just fine,” Sam replies. He’s totally smirking right now, and he doesn’t even care. “Don’t ask him about it, it’ll make it worse.”

She raises an eyebrow at him, but when he doesn’t elaborate further, she sets her shoulders and they fall into a steady pace together.

“Get it, Steve!” Sam yells when Steve passes them the first time.

“I’m not talking to you,” Steve yells back.

“We’re not actually fighting,” Sam says to Natasha. “Promise.”

“Okay,” she says, a little warily.

Steve grabs Sam’s arm when they’re cooling down, pulling him slightly ahead of Natasha. “Just going to borrow him for a minute,” Steve says, smiling in apology.

Sam speeds up a little to keep pace, waiting for Steve to decide there’s enough distance between them and Natasha for him to start talking.

“She’s my friend,” Steve says finally. “I value her friendship, and I don’t want to jeopardize that. Can you please lay off?”

Sam feels a little terrible, but only a little. “Okay,” he says. “But only if you acknowledge exactly how much you enjoyed last night.”

“I liked it,” Steve says. “Are you happy now?”

“Sure,” Sam replies. “Have fun drawing her today.”

Steve groans a little and Sam laughs.


Sam’s doing laundry when Natasha suddenly storms down the stairs, walking out the back door without shoes on, that blank look on her face. He pauses, sodden sheets in his hands. They drip onto the carpet for three seconds before he shoves them in the dryer and closes it. He’s just started it when Steve comes thumping down the stairs.

He looks completely distraught. Like someone kicked one of the dogs or something equally bad just happened.

“Steve,” Sam says slowly, hitting the button to start the dryer. “You want to tell me what just happened?”

Bucky rolls his chair to the office door and pokes his head out. “Yeah, Stevie, what happened?”

Steve stares at them, lifting his hands helplessly. “I fucked up,” he says. “I really fucked up.”

Sam shoves the towels load in the washer and scoops soap into the drawer. “You want to tell us how exactly you fucked up?”

“I kissed Nat,” Steve says, staring at his hands like they’ll give him an answer.

Sam’s mouth drops open.

“You what?” Bucky stands up.

“I kissed her,” Steve repeats.

“Well,” Sam says slowly, trying to gather himself. “I think we should discuss this like adults.” He closes the washer and starts it, trying to figure out where to start. “Can we have details?”

“I finished drawing her,” Steve says, finally looking at Bucky, then Sam. “And I gave it to her because it was for her. She thanked me and then she hugged me. And then-” He breaks off, twisting his hands together. “She was right there, and there was last night, and I kind of wasn’t thinking,” he finishes lamely.

“Steven Grant Rogers wasn’t thinking,” Bucky drawls. “Mark it on the calendar.”

“Bucky,” Sam says, a hint of warning in his voice.

Bucky shuts up, but he goes to Steve and carefully covers Steve’s hands with his own.

“Did she kiss you back?” Sam asks, his hands on his hips.

Steve looks up at Sam, startled. “What?”

“Did she kiss you back?” Sam repeats. He takes a step closer to Steve.

“For a moment,” Steve says. “Half a second. Then she was gone. Because I fucked up.”

“Did you want her to kiss you back?” Sam asks, thinking that he’d like a drink for this conversation, but apparently they’re doing this sober, which is fine, it’s fine, it’s just weird. Not how he planned his Sunday morning going.

“I-” Steve meets Sam’s eyes and squares his shoulders. “Yes, I did.”

“Okay,” Sam says.

“Okay?” Steve repeats.

“Maybe this is the real answer to our plan for making Natasha Romanoff less lonely,” Sam says, crossing his arms.

Bucky looks at Sam, then Steve, then Sam again. “Sam, are you proposing that we ask Nat to do us? On the regular?”

Sam shrugs. “Our bed’s big enough. It’s nice having her around. If she’s willing. And you are.”

“I think we’ve established that we’re all willing,” Steve says. “More than willing. But it’s not about us, is it?”

“No,” Bucky says slowly. “It’s not.” Then to Sam, “You want to go out or should I?”

“I’ll go,” Sam says, surprising himself. “I’ll go,” he says, a little firmer.

“Yell if you need us,” Bucky says.

Sam snorts, then slips on his shoes and walks out back. Natasha is throwing Greg’s favorite ball for him and Rosie over and over again, her focus intense and her aim vicious. She has to hear him approach, but she doesn’t turn around, just pries the ball from Rosie’s mouth and throws it to the far end of the back yard. Greg sniffs Sam’s hand and licks it, then chases after his sister.

“So,” Sam says, crossing his arms. “Steve kissed you.”

Natasha doesn’t answer, doesn’t turn, doesn’t do anything except look at the dogs running back to her.

“Bucky and I aren’t mad about it,” Sam continues. “In fact, we’re fine with it.”

Now she looks at him- just a flash of her hair and eyes, and then she’s looking back at Greg and Rosie.

“This is an invitation.”

She finally faces him after she’s thrown the ball again. “For what? Kissing Steve?”

Sam shrugs. “If that’s what you want. I think you should know, though, that the three of us have kind of had a plan.”

Natasha narrows her eyes, but doesn’t look away again. “What kind of plan?”

“We wanted you to be less lonely,” Sam says boldly.

She flinches and turns away.

“We purposefully spent more time with you. We wanted you with us, and to not be lonely or unhappy. We wanted to help.”

“Do I look like I need help?” She spits, her hands clenching at her sides.

“Not particularly,” Sam says mildly, shoving his own hands in his pockets. “But that’s exactly why you’d never ask for anything. You know, I’ve been trying to figure out that look on your face. You have it when you’re watching us three interacting, and you had it while you were staring at Steve last night. I think I’ve realized what it is that you’re trying to hide. It’s not just loneliness. It’s want.”

Natasha faces him fully for the first time.

“You wanted, and you told yourself you could never have it,” Sam says quietly. “And I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. If you want it- if you want us, you can have us. All of us. We are kind of a package deal.”

She doesn’t move when Rosie drops the ball at her feet, barking and jumping up. She doesn’t move a single inch when Sam reaches out to tuck a strand of hair that’s come loose from her ponytail. She doesn’t move when he says, still quiet, almost tenderly, “Natasha. Nat.”

He leans down to kiss her, and damn it’s been a long time since he leaned down to kiss anyone, and she is tiny. She doesn’t move until after his lips have pressed against hers and left again, just says “Oh,” quietly.

Sam can’t help his smile as he moves his hand to trace the shell of her ear. “If you want us, we’ll be in the house.”

“Wait,” Nat says, her hand coming up to grab his arm. “I-” she stops almost as soon as she starts. “You’re serious?”

He raises an eyebrow, then turns his head. Steve and Bucky are watching them, and when Bucky notices Sam can see them, Bucky gives Sam and Nat a thumbs up and Steve smiles. Sam turns back to look at her.

“Does it look like a joke?”

“No,” she says, swallowing hard. Greg has slobbered up half her leg by now, but she doesn’t particularly look like she cares. She stares at Sam for a long moment, and then she slides her hand up to his neck and tugs him down to kiss her again.

“Okay,” she says, once they’re both breathing their own air again. “Okay.”

“Want to go inside now?” Sam asks, tilting his head towards Steve and Bucky.

“I don’t think there’s anything else to do now,” Nat replies. “I think they’re trying to be polite.”

Sam laughs. “Yeah, I think they are.”

They don’t hold hands while they walk back, because he doesn’t think they’re exactly at that point and he’s not going to push anything on her.

Steve opens the back door and steps aside, letting them come inside. He’s grinning a little too widely for him to pretend to be more serious.

“Go on, Stevie,” Bucky says. “Kiss her for real this time. Don’t be shy about tongue. You’re always so shy about tongue.”

“Shut up about my tongue,” Steve says, but he’s looking at Nat like he looks at Bucky- like he looks at Sam.

Sam pinches Bucky. “Shut up. You’ll make him too nervous to actually do anything.”

Bucky pinches Sam back. “He had the balls to do it in the first place.”

And then Steve steps forward and Nat steps forward and Steve honest to god picks her up to kiss her. There’s definitely tongue involved.

Bucky pretends to swoon against Sam. “Wowee, Stevie. You oughta kiss me like that more often.”

Nat flips him off, still kissing Steve.

Bucky laughs raucously. “Or maybe I oughta kiss you like that?”

Nat pulls away then, pushing at Steve’s shoulder. “Okay, okay, Steve. Let me go kiss your boyfriend.”

“Okay,” Steve says, and sets her down.

Bucky waits for Nat to come to him. “How do you want me?” he asks, his voice a little less joking and a lot more serious.

She takes his hand and kisses it, watching the shiver that traces up his spine. “The way you are,” she says hoarsely, then she rises on her tiptoes and Bucky leans down, and okay. This is definitely just as hot- maybe hotter- than Steve kissing her.

“Well,” Bucky says, when Nat settles back on her heels. “We should have done that a long time ago.”

“Yeah,” Steve says softly. “We should have.” He goes to stand between Sam and Bucky, taking their hands in his own. “Do you want to be with us?” He asks. “I’m guessing Sam already offered, but this is official from all three of us at once.”

“Yes,” Nat says, not even hesitating. “I do.”

“Good,” Sam says. “I’m just going to warn you right now that my sex drive isn’t what it used to be, but Bucky and Steve can and will go all day if you want.”

She laughs. “I think I’d like to start with something a little more tame.”

Steve raises an eyebrow.

“Concept,” Nat says. “Me on the couch, with you, cuddling.”

“Excellent concept,” Steve says almost immediately.

“Fantastic,” Bucky confirms.

Sam reaches for Nat’s hand with his free one. “A wonderful start.”

“Oh my god,” she says suddenly. “I actually fucked up your chore chart.”


Sam’s mom comes for Thanksgiving, and so do Clint and Coulson. Nat always calls him Phil, but none of the rest of them can make themselves do it. They barely fit into the kitchen, but Sam happily sits squished in between Steve and Nat.

The phone call to his mother was less eventful than he was thinking it would be, seeing as he’d been living with two men for years now. She had asked him if she made them happy and he had said yes, and she had said alright.

And then she asks if this means grandchildren right after she asks Clint to pass the sweet potatoes. Sam, Bucky, and Steve freeze.

Natasha appears to be unfazed, however. “I’m sterile,” she says nonchalantly, scooping green bean casserole onto her plate. “But we might foster at some point.”

“Oh,” Darlene Wilson says. “That’s nice.”

They haven’t talked about fostering kids, but Sam thinks it might be nice, so he nods and takes a bite of his turkey.

Darlene is going back after dinner, insisting that she wants to be home tonight, despite Sam, Steve, Bucky, and Natasha’s protests, so they wave her out and then go back inside for after dinner drinks with Clint and Coulson.

“Your mom likes me,” Nat says to Sam, sounding a little surprised.

“Why wouldn’t she?” Sam puts an hand on her shoulder. “You’re a pretty great person.”

“I know thirty ways to kill you without a weapon,” she says, but doesn’t shrug his hand off.

“I know,” Sam says. “But you love me.”

“Yeah.” Nat stares at him. “I do.”

He kisses her, and then drops into a squat. “C’mon,” he says. “Piggy back ride.”

She giggles- Natasha Romanoff, Black Widow giggles- and wraps her arms around his neck. Clint laughs when he sees them, and then Bucky makes Steve give him one. Coulson gives Clint a flat no when asked, but Steve agrees to take Clint for a round of the house.

They all fall on the couch afterwards, exhausted.

“I can’t believe you got yourself three boyfriends,” Clint says, his glass of water almost empty. “Trying to outdo me or something?”

“Nope,” Nat says, grinning. “Just three times as lucky as you.”

“I’m sitting right here.” Coulson says drily.

“Yup,” Clint says happily, then turns his attention to Nat and the guys again. “She won’t tell me what happened besides Steve kissed her first. As her best friend of many years, I’m owed at least three more details than that. Preferably all of them.”

“I kissed her second,” Sam says, rubbing his Nat’s ankle with his thumb.

“Surprise,” Bucky says. “I was last. Kissing her, that is.” He winks at Clint.

Steve pauses with his orange juice halfway to his mouth. “Oh, is it my turn? Well, she fell asleep on me first.”

“Oh?” Clint arches an eyebrow.

Steve- predictably- blushes. “Not like that,” he protests. “Like on the couch.”

“If we’re going to start discussing our sex lives,” Coulson says, “I’d rather abstain.”

“We are not discussing our sex lives,” Nat says firmly. “We’re putting on the Food Network and passing out on the couch in food comas like we should be.”

“What she said,” Sam agrees.


Nat brings home a snake after Christmas. Which is fine and everything, except they have to elevate the tank so the dogs can’t get into it and now there’s rats in their freezer.

Bucky cackles when he finds out. “We really can have rats for dinner, Sam.”

“No,” Sam says.

“Coward,” Bucky and Nat say in unison.

Bucky loves the snake, but takes three days to come up with a name when Nat asks him. “Costco,” he finally decides.

Sam shouldn’t be surprised. Steve laughs and says, “Bucky fucking loves Costco.”

“True in more ways than one,” Nat says She gestures at Bucky, who has Costco draped over his neck and is cooing something.

Bucky tries to bring Costco to bed. His partners inform him emphatically that Costco is not a dog. He tries again the next night, just to be sure, then complains that they’re all annoying and lame. Except he’s not actually mad, and even if he was, he couldn’t be for long when his best friends are the people he lives and sleeps with, so: Nat gets a snake, and it’s kind of nice minus Bucky trying to bring it to bed.

Nat being there in the first place: definitely better than nice. Sam wonders why the hell he didn’t get to know her sooner. She’s got a wicked sense of humor, is more than good in bed, and is a wonderful human being besides.

He thinks he’s very, very lucky to be in love with so many wonderful people. He never would have thought this would be his life, but he couldn’t be happier.