Chapter 1: Prologue
Very random, but I have a Snapchat specifically for ao3 stuff- I let you know when I post a new chapter or story, and if you want to dm me questions and such feel free!
Same username: anxiety_baker02
*nothing inappropriate and no spam please!
“It’s time to let people in, son. Are you ready?”
Bucky felt a hand on his shoulder.
He closed his eyes and stood carefully, so as to not jostle the newborn baby in his arms.
He gently leaned down to kiss his mother’s forehead one last time, then turned to the other six people. He could feel the tears threatening as he opened his mouth. He took a deep breath, and cleared his throat.
“I have to be, don’t I?”
“Oh, Bucky.” Sarah stretched up and hugged him.
“We’ll get through this together, honey.”
He saw his Uncle Monty nod to the funeral director, who opened the doors. A stream of people came flooding in. Bucky held his little sister to his chest as people told him how sorry they were, how his mother was a wonderful woman, how hard this must be for him. He didn’t hear any of it. He was only aware of the other six people by his side and the little girl in his arms.
Two hours later, he was numbly staring ahead as he listened to someone he didn’t know give a speech about how she is now in Heaven.
“James, it’s time for your speech,” Natasha said gently.
Bucky nodded mutely, and he handed Becca to Sarah. He stood and walked to the podium, clearing his throat a few times before speaking.
“I had a speech written, but I, uh...I don’t think it does her justice.” Bucky swallowed. “My mother was the kindest woman I ever met. She loved unconditionally, and it was impossible to not love her back. When I was thirteen, I went to Russia to stay with my father’s mother. I met a girl there, and she saved my life. She was in a rough place, and when I called my ma and told her, she told me to bring the girl back to America with me. She took her in and treated her as her own daughter.”
Bucky looked into the crowd and saw Natasha wipe her eyes.
“When I was fourteen, there was a huge blizzard. Ma found a boy on our doorstep, and when she found out why he had run away, she took him in too.”
Bucky met Clint’s eyes and saw him leaning into Natasha, crying.
“The two of them are now my best friends. But one of my favorite memories of my mother was last year. I had just turned fifteen, and I came out to her. Despite the fact that I knew she loved me anyway, I was terrified. When I told her, she just smiled and said that she was proud of me. She went out and bought a pride flag, and in June she took the three of us to the Pride parade.”
Bucky took a deep breath.
“Ma taught me how to swing dance, how to bake, and we said that one day we would open a coffee shop together. When she had Becca, I think that was the best day of her life. I know it was mine. Even though she had only known Becca for two days, I know she loved her with all of her heart. I-”
Bucky broke off, voice cracking.
“I can’t give Ma half of the credit she deserves. She was an amazing woman, and I’m going to miss her every day.”
He finished just as the tears started to come. He sat back down between Natasha and Sarah, taking Becca as his three uncles stood. They talked about how they were there the day she was born, since her father was their best friend. Monty was her godfather. When they were done, Sarah stood.
“I knew Winifred my whole life. We lived next door to each other, and we were best friends. I was her maid of honor, and she was mine. We were like sisters.” Sarah paused, collecting herself. “In the summer when we were kids, we would climb out of our windows-we both lived on the second story, mind you-and we would play in the treehouse that we shared. We always thought we were so clever, keeping it from our parents, looking back, they must’ve known. We weren’t exactly the ninjas we thought we were,” she gave a watery laugh. “Heck, Winnie broke her ankle once, and then waited until morning to tell her parents. Now, I have a son, he’s the same age as Bucky, and he’s always sick. Always has been, since he was a baby, in fact, he’s home sick right now. There were a few times that I thought he wouldn’t make it, and Winnie was there for me every time. She stayed with him when I went to work so I wouldn’t lose my job, and when money got tight, she helped me out. She was my best friend, and I love her. She deserved a better hand than she was dealt, but I know she was happy. She had an amazing son, and a beautiful daughter. Her only regret was leaving them behind.” Her voice broke and she wiped at her eyes.
Bucky clutched Becca to his chest as he cried.
Sarah kissed his head as she sat back down.
“James mentioned a girl from Russia when he spoke. That girl was me,” Natasha began.
“I was part of a program that turned little girls into...well, they took us away from our families and made us do horrible things. When Winifred took me in, I was shocked at her kindness. I had never known that people could be anything but cruel. I was just a strange girl from a foreign country, and she accepted me into her life without question. I owe her everything that I am. Without her, I wouldn’t be here today.”
She bowed her head and switched with Clint.
“I’m the boy that Bucky mentioned. When I was nine years old, my father began to beat my brother and I. When I was thirteen, my brother, Barney, took me and ran away to the circus. It turns out that Barney was just as abusive as my dad, and so were most of the people in the circus. When I was fourteen, there was an accident with a canon that they tried to launch me out of. I lost eighty percent of my hearing. I ran away two weeks later and got stuck in a blizzard. I wound up on the Barnes’ front porch, starving and freezing. Winifred took me in like she did Natasha. She brought me to the hospital, paid for me to get hearing aids, and she learned sign language, then taught it to me, Bucky, and Nat. She fed me, and when I turned sixteen in February she helped me become emancipated, and she did the same with Nat. Like Natasha said, I owe her everything. She was the mother I had always wanted but never had, and I love her for that.”
Four hours later, Bucky was still there. He gently rocked Becca as he sat on a couch, staring blankly at the wall. He felt people surround him.
“He didn’t come,” Bucky said in a monotone.
“Did you honestly expect him to?” Natasha asked gently.
“He may have been an abusive asshole, but she’s-” Bucky cut himself off with a sigh. “He’s still my father. He was her husband.”
“Do you think she would have wanted him here? Bucky, when she found out that he was hitting you, she divorced him so fast his head spun,” Clint said.
Bucky nodded, but didn’t say anything.
“Have you eaten today?” Uncle Gabe asked.
He shook his head.
“When was the last time you slept?”
“I’ve been taking care of Becca.”
“That’s not what I asked, boy.” Uncle Monty
raised an eyebrow.
“I’ve gotten maybe six hours since she-since Tuesday.”
“Bucky. You need energy for tomorrow. We’ll take care of Becca. Come on.” Uncle Tim pulled him up.
“No, I can’t leave, please, not yet.”
“You’ve been here all day, Bucky. Please, just take a break. You can’t take care of Becca if you’re not taking care of yourself. Just eat,” Clint begged quietly.
“I’m not hungry.”
He yelped as he was suddenly whacked in the head. He looked at Sarah in shock.
“James Buchanan Barnes. Your ma wouldn’t want you to do this. I know it’s hard. We lost her too. Now you get your ass up, give Uncle Monty your sister, and go eat. Then, you go to Clint’s and sleep. I don’t want to hear you argue.”
Bucky stood, handed Becca to Monty, then fell into Sarah’s arms, shaking.
“Shhh. I know. I know, honey. We miss her too. Come on.”
The next day, as Bucky stood watching his mother lowered into the ground, reality came crashing down around him. It became all too real that he had to go back to live with his father, that he had to bring Becca there and raise her in an abusive household and that there was nothing anyone could do.
Hell, just the fact that he had to raise a child at sixteen years old was enough to make him want to give up. This time tomorrow, he would be cut off from everyone who cares for him, he would be completely alone.
It felt like a punch to the gut. But at that moment, Becca sneezed, and as Bucky looked into her little eyes, he knew he would do anything for her.
Chapter 2: The Beginning
Five years later, Bucky was lying on the kitchen floor as his father kicked him in the face.
“You useless piece of shit! I am sick of dealing with you! Why can’t you be normal?” George yelled. “You stay in my house for free, you eat my food, and you’re too fucking old. You should be gone by now!” George paused in his drunken rant. “Now there’s an idea. Get out.”
Bucky’s eyes widened and he tried to get up.
George slammed him back to the ground.
“Get out of my house. I should have done this years ago! Get out and don’t come back. You can’t live here anymore. And don’t take the girl with you! I’ll call the police, tell ‘em you kidnapped my daughter. You come back, you’ll wish you was never born. Now look what you’ve done! I need a drink. I’ve been sober for two weeks, you little shit.”
Bucky didn’t point out that he hasn’t been sober since Bucky was fifteen. He had literally just gotten back from the bar. George kicked him once more for good measure, then stalked away.
Bucky stayed on the ground until he heard the front door slam, then he was running up the stairs for the bathroom. He quickly pinched a towel to his nose to stop the bleeding, and a cool rag to his face to hopefully prevent a black eye.
“Are you really leaving?”
Bucky jumped and turned to see Becca standing in the doorway. He pushed down his panic, swiped at his nose once more, and put down his rags, then knelt so he was eye level with Becca.
“I have to, kiddo. If I don’t, he might start hurting you.”
Bucky could see the tears gathering in Becca’s eyes.
“But if you do, he might hurt me anyway! You won’t be here to protect me! Please don’t leave me, Bucky.”
Bucky pulled her in close, half to comfort her, half so she wouldn’t see the fear on his face.
“I don’t have a choice. If he lays a finger on you, you call me, okay? We’ll figure this out. I’m going to stay with Natasha and Clint, you remember them?”
“I’ll leave you both of their phone numbers, mine too, some money, and if you ever need to leave, I’m going to give you directions to the apartment, okay? You hide it where Dad won’t find it.”
She nodded again. “I’m scared, Bucky.”
“I know, kiddo. I am so, so sorry. You know I would take you with me if I could. I’m going to do everything I can to get you to come live with me.”
He carried her to his room and she sat on his bed while he gave her the information and money, and packed up all of his important possessions. It all fit in his mom’s old suitcase.
“Becca, listen to me. Don’t do anything to upset Dad. Do whatever he asks, unless it harms you in any way. If he’s really drunk, let him fall asleep and don’t go near him. Never let him hear you call me, wait until he’s out of the house,” Bucky listed off everything he could think off to keep her safe.
He felt horrible pinning all of this on a five year old, but he knew if he didn’t, it would be so much worse for her.
“I will come back for you, I promise, Becca-Girl. I love you so much. Now I’m going to tuck you in, and then I’m going to go.”
He put her in bed, and felt like the worst person in the world as read her a story and watched her silently cry. Somehow, she fell asleep before he finished the book, so he kissed her forehead, got the suitcase, and walked out the front door.
The trip to Clint and Nat’s took usually took Bucky fifty minutes to walk, but tonight it took him two hours because it was nearly one o’clock in the morning, it was December and the sidewalks were icy, he was pretty sure his ankle was sprained, he didn’t have money for a bus because he gave it all to Becca, and he was fighting tears as he left his baby sister in that house, all alone.
Once he got there, he didn’t bother to knock. He grabbed the spare key from where it was hidden in the hollow behind the light fixture, and quietly walked in.
His two best friends were sitting on the couch, evidently watching a horror movie, and Clint screamed when he saw Bucky.
To be fair, the only light was coming from the hallway, and he was covered in his own blood. Nat quickly paused the TV and turned on the lights. The two of them took in his appearance-broken nose, black eye, a limp, and tear tracks stained on his face.
“What-” Nat started.
“I need a lawyer.”
Chapter 3: In Which A Lot Of Stuff Happens
December 2014-April 2016
Bucky spent the next two months meeting with his mom’s old lawyer, going through documents, not sleeping, and trying to figure out a way to gain custody of Becca. His age wasn’t the problem- he was twenty-one. No, it was evidence of abuse that was needed.
The lawyer, Alice Kingsman, had also been a close friend of Winifred's, meaning she knew exactly how bad George could be. Unfortunately, seeing as Bucky had never let George get to Becca, Becca wasn’t considered abused.
Bucky stood in the hallway looking in the mirror. He looked horrible. He had lost weight, his main meal was coffee, there were deep bags under his eyes from stress and lack of sleep, his hair had grown longer and it was greasy since he hadn’t showered in awhile. He had a permanent frown on his face. All in all, he kind of looked like a serial killer. He sighed and sat back down at the table with a fresh cup of coffee and the papers Alice had given him that afternoon.
“Bucky, you need to go to sleep. That’s your seventh cup of coffee today, it’s eight o’clock, and you haven’t slept since Sunday,” Clint said gently.
“I can’t. I think I’m almost there, I just need to read these.”
“At least take a shower, then. Just take a break, James. You won’t be any help to your sister if you can’t take care of yourself.”
Bucky rubbed his eyes; the words were blurring together on the page.
“Maybe just a quick nap.”
Someone knocked at the door as Nat took the coffee from him.
“Clint, did you order pizza?” She asked.
“I don’t think so, but you never know. It’s on speed dial, I could’ve butt dialed again.”
Natasha rolled her eyes. “Well, go check.”
As Clint left the kitchen, Bucky stood up and stretched.
He heard Clint answer the door, and after a few moments, Clint called:
“Uh...Bucky, it’s for you.”
Nat raised an eyebrow at him, and he shrugged.
At the door were two teenagers, no older than seventeen. The girl looked at Bucky suspiciously, and the guy eyed him doubtfully.
Bucky realized he was probably glaring, and he tried to soften his expression. He knew he looked like a disaster.
“Are you Bucky Barnes?”
The girl had an accent, maybe Russian.
“Do you have a little sister?”
Bucky felt the blood drain from his face.
“Oh god, Becca, what did he do to her? Is she okay?”
The boy looked down the hallway and nodded, and suddenly Becca appeared.
Bucky fell to his knees, opening his arms, and Becca collapsed into him.
“Bucky!” Becca was shaking, and Bucky realized the kids were still in the hallway. He stood up, taking Becca with him.
“Come in, please.”
They went into the living room, and Nat silently handed Bucky his coffee back. He drained it in one gulp and they sat down.
“Becca-girl, what happened? Why didn’t you call?”
Becca still had her face buried in his shoulder, so her words came out muffled.
“He broke the phone the night after you left.”
“He kept getting worser and worser, drinking more of his juice, and then he started leaving and not coming back for a few days, and then he left and he didn’t come back for…”
Becca trailed off, thinking.
“Six days, and then we had no more food and I had to drink water from dirty cups and I tried washing the dishes but then we runned out of soap and Dad came back tonight and he had way too much of his juice so I tried to stay away from him like you told me to do, but I needed water but he had spilled his juice on the floor and I slipped and broke the glass. He woked up and got really angry at me, and he grabbed my arm really hard and it hurt and I started to cry and he got more madder and then he hit my face and I fell down and he told me to clean up so I did but I cut my hand on the glass and I was bleeding and he got madder again and he hit me again, but then he left. I didn’t know what to do but then I ‘membered that you said to find you if that happened so I got the instructions that you left me and I packed my clothes into my suitcase like I did when we go camping and I got lost but then I found Wanda and she and Pietro helped me get here.”
Bucky made Becca lean back.
“He hit you?”
Becca nodded and showed him the bruise forming on her face.
Bucky reigned in the anger that hit him.
“I’m so sorry I wasn’t there, kiddo. You’re going to stay here now, okay? I won’t let him near you again, I promise.”
“James, evidence. Take pictures! And bring it to Alice in the morning. There’s no way you won’t get custody after this.”
Natasha grabbed her phone.
“Hey, Becs. You remember me, don’t you?”
Clint waved at her.
“Clint!” Clint smiled, and Becca turned to Nat. “Tasha!”
“Hey, girly. I’m going to take some pictures of your booboo, okay?”
Within five minutes, Becca was asleep. Bucky laid her in his room and brought her suitcase in, too. When he came back out, Nat and Clint were talking with the two teenagers.
“You’re Wanda, right?” He asked the girl.
“Yes. This is my brother, Pietro. Sorry about having Becca down the hallway, but we weren’t sure…”
Bucky shook his head. “No, don’t apologize. It was smart. Becca said you found her?”
Wanda nodded. “Yeah, we were passing Panino’s, the cafe by the shelter? She was sitting at one of the tables, crying. It took her about five minutes to get her to talk to us, because she said her brother told her not to talk to strangers. She showed us the directions and I guess she turned left instead of right when she left the house, and once we convinced her to let us help, we brought her here.”
Bucky ran a hand down his face.
“Thank you. Thank you so much. I don’t know what Becca told you, but our dad...he’s not a good man. He and our mom divorced when Mom was pregnant with Becca because he had been drinking more and he started getting physical with me. Our mom had a rough pregnancy with Becca, and she died two days after giving birth. We had to go live with our dad, who was still drinking, and he beat me. Never Becca, but he kicked me out two months ago and threatened to have me arrested if I came back. I’ve been trying to get custody ever since.”
Pietro nodded sympathetically.
“We know a lot of people in situations like that.”
“How old are you guys?” Clint asked curiously.
“We just turned sixteen,” Wanda answered.
They talked for awhile longer, Bucky repeatedly thanking them.
“Wanda, it’s nearly nine, we only have half an hour before the shelter closes,” Pietro whispered to her, clearly not meaning for anyone else to hear.
“Shelter?” Clint interrupted.
The twins turned red.
“Yes. We need to get there before they close the doors for the night, otherwise we’ll be in the park again.” Wanda said defensively.
“Which shelter are you staying at?”
“The one near Jefferson street,” Pietro answered slowly.
“Are your parents there?”
They shook their heads.
Clint and Nat began talking in rapid-fire sign language, then Nat turned to Bucky, raising an eyebrow.
Bucky nodded and signed of course.
“Look, we happen to have a spare guest room, and the couch pulls out. We don’t want to make you uncomfortable or anything, but I happen to know from experience that that shelter is dangerous, especially for young kids-”
“Hey, we’re not that young, old man!”
“Pietro, don’t be rude!”
“What Clint’s saying is, you two can stay here for awhile if you like, until you can find a place.”
“We couldn’t possibly impose…” Wanda looked uncertain.
“You two got James his sister back. You can stay as long as you’d like.”
Pietro looked at Nat in confusion.
“She refuses to call me Bucky,” Bucky explains.
“Because your name is James!” Natasha exclaims, then rolls her eyes. “Do you have anything you’d need to pick up?”
They shook their heads again.
“Are you sure? You don’t even know us.”
“Well, we know your names, we know you’re kind enough to go out of your way to help a little girl, and that you’re Sokovian.”
“Wait, how did you-”
“I spent a year in Sokovia, lived in Russia until I was thirteen. I know the accent. Your parents passed in the earthquake, I assume?”
“Yes,” Pietro answered curtly.
“There, now we know things about you. The offer stands,” Natasha said.
Pietro and Wanda looked at each other, then back at the others.
“Okay. Thank you, so much.” They smiled.
“Wanda, I think we’re about the same size, and Pietro, Bucky’s lost weight recently, his clothes will probably fit you best.”
“Are you calling me fat, Natasha?”
“No, Clint. I’m saying that Pietro could stand to have a decent meal, and so could Bucky. Wanda too, actually. Come on.”
Pietro took the pull-out couch, Wanda got the spare room, and Bucky slept on the floor of his room.
Over the next few weeks, they developed a routine. The twins were good kids. They went to school despite their situation, and the high school was right next to Becca’s elementary.
Once she went back to school, they walked her home every day. Bucky got a job at the local grocery store, which wasn’t the best but it was something, and he met with Alice once a week to go over the case- they were going to court soon. Nat made breakfast in the mornings since she had the earliest classes at the college, Wanda and Pietro took turns making dinner since they were the first home with Becca.
Weeks started turning into months, and eventually, the court case was cancelled.
George had been caught stealing, assaulted the officers who arrested him, and drunkenly yelling that this was all Bucky’s fault, that he was only drinking because he was stressed about the case, and when asked about the case he said, “I only hit her once but she broke my glass and made a mess! She ran away for no good reason, it’s her stupid brother’s fault. That damn bastard told her to run so he could get back at me!”
Long story short, Bucky was awarded custody of Becca, and George was serving five years in prison for theft and child abuse. Summer came and went quickly. Bucky got a job, and he began paying Wanda to watch Becca while everyone was out. Pietro got a job at the same place as Clint, and they spent their days off going to the beach, or the park, and they all got the week of the Fourth of July off and took a road trip. Wanda and Pietro fit right into their little misfit family.
Bucky knew that Nat and Clint started to think of them as the little siblings they never had, and Bucky did too. Becca looked up to them, especially Wanda, because she had never had a big sister before. Pietro and Clint bickered like brothers. They were happy.
School started up again, the twins going into their junior year, Becca into the first grade, and Bucky, Natasha, and Clint into their last year of college.
Somehow, before they knew it, it was April, and Bucky was almost done with school.
It was a Saturday and Bucky, Pietro, and Clint were the only ones home when the phone rang. Bucky lost the ‘not-it,’ and answered.
“Speaking,” Bucky yawned- he had been up all night finishing a project for a class.
“Bucky, hi. It’s Alice Kingsman.”
“Oh, Alice, uh, hi.”
“You turned twenty-three last month, right?”
“We’ve talked about the ‘ma’am’ haven’t we, Bucky? It makes me feel old.”
“Oh, sorry. Can I ask what this is about?”
“Ah, yes, sorry. It seems that your mother has left you some things, and she asked that it be given to you when you turn twenty-two.”
“Oh. Oh my god.”
Bucky turned to see Clint looking at him, but he only shook his head.
“Could you come in to look through the papers?”
“I...sure, just let me…” Bucky collected himself.
“Clint, I have to go meet with Alice, if the girls get back tell them I’ll be back by dinner.”
Clint’s eyes widened.
“Yeah, sure. Everything okay?” Bucky nodded.
“Yeah, I think so...Alice? Can I stop by now?”
“Of course. See you in a bit.”
Bucky hung up, then turned to the others. “I’ll fill you when I get back. I’ve go to go.”
“Here’s the letter, read this, and then we can go through the paperwork.”
“Can you tell me what she’s left me?”
Alice shook her head, but she smiled.
“She never told me, she told me I wasn’t allowed to read the letter, and I can only guess from the paperwork. Go ahead.”
Bucky opened the envelope with trembling hands and began to read.
My darling boy, if you’re reading this, that means that I’m dead. Alice tells me that it’s silly to do this, but I’m writing this the night that I got out of the hospital for the third time during this pregnancy.
Winifred had had a very difficult pregnancy with Becca. Bucky had to take a deep breath at the sight of his mother’s handwriting.
I know that you will probably have been forced to live with George, and I hope to God that he didn’t hurt you. If you’re still with him, don’t let him read this. As I write this, you’re only sixteen and have been through so much more than most your age. Now, you should be twenty-two, and I have a few things for you, Bucky, and a few for Becca (assuming that that’s what she was named) as well.
You know that I grew up in upstate New York, and you know that my parents passed away last year in the car accident. They left me our old home, which I am now leaving to you. I am also giving you the rights to my bank account, which has been gaining interest for six years. There should be a fair amount of money in it. There is another account, similar to your college account, that I opened for Becca. Use that for her education.
Another thing- you know that I’ve always wanted to open a coffee shop, and at this point in your life, you do too. You always say one day we’ll have our own cafe. Now, if that’s changed, feel free to use this building for anything. Sell it, rent it out, whatever you want. But I bought it in the hopes of finally opening that coffee shop. It’s about ten minutes from the house, and the area has a lovely school.
I understand if you don’t want to move your life, I’m sure you have friends- I do hope you’re still friends with Natasha and Clint.
One last thing. I have written letters for you and Becca- one for her now, her sixteenth birthday, your weddings, things like that, and they say what I would if I was there. If I’m not there, I’m sorry for everything that you must have suffered through. I love you so much. I couldn’t have asked for a better son. Love, Ma
Tears burned Bucky’s eyes as he put down the letter.
“She left me a house,” he cleared his throat. “Money, and a building for our coffee shop.”
“That’s what I thought. Now, if you want to go through the paperwork?”
Chapter 4: A Better Beginning
April 2016-June 2016
Hey guys! First, I just want to say thanks for all the positive comments, it means a lot! And second, the whole story is written, but it’s going to take a little while to post. Hopefully not too long!
He made it home just in time for dinner. He didn’t give his news until Becca was in bed, and he got everyone to sit in the living room.
“So, the lease is almost up, right?” Bucky asked.
Nat’s brow furrowed, but she nodded.
“We haven’t talked much about where we’re going after this. This is our last year of college.”
“Get to the point, Barnes,” Clint said impatiently.
Bucky took a deep breath. “My mom left me a house. In upstate New York.”
“Oh my God!” Nat exclaims.
Bucky nodded. “Her parents left it to her when they passed, and it’s completely paid off. She also bought a building for the coffee shop she always talked about, you know, the one we were going to own? She said if I didn’t want to do that anymore, I could do what I want with it. And she signed her bank accounts to me, and she had a whole account just for Becca’s college funds. It’s a hell of a lot of money.”
Bucky took a breath, and promptly started crying. He buried his face in his hands. Wanda gently put a hand on his shoulder.
“God, she’s been dead for almost six years and she’s still taking care of us.”
“She loved you so much, Bucky,” Nat said.
Bucky wiped his tears away. “Did you just call me Bucky?”
Nat smacked his arm. “Shut up, James. Now, what are you going to do?”
Bucky sighed. “I’m not sure. I mean, Alice helped me do some research, the neighborhood is great for kids, the school is awesome and close to the house, and the house is really nice. But I don’t want to leave you guys.”
Nat and Clint stared at him. “Bucky. Did you ever think that we could get a place there too?”
Bucky startled. “But you guys have your own lives. I couldn’t ask you to do that.”
Natasha rolled her eyes.
“James, you and Becca are our lives. You were the one who got me out of Russia.”
“And you helped me run away from the circus. We’ll figure it out, man.”
Bucky let out a breath of relief. “I was thinking about going to check it out after finals. Do you want to come?”
“Obviously. Now, I need to go to bed, I have class in the morning. Good night.”
Nat kissed Bucky on the cheek and stood. Clint stood up with her and they went to bed.
“We should probably get to bed too,” Wanda said.
She and Pietro both looked uncomfortable, and Bucky smacked his forehead.
“Wait! I forgot, I wanted to talk to you guys.”
They sat back down. “Look, this house, it’s pretty big. It has four bedrooms and I was thinking, maybe, you could live there with us. And before you say anything,”
Bucky rushed to add when he saw the shock on their faces.
“I don’t want you to feel that you have to. I know that you’re going to be going into your senior year, and you probably won’t want to leave your friends. It’s just that I know that I wouldn’t have gotten this far with Becca if I didn’t have you two, and Becca thinks of you as family. We all do, really, and we don’t want you two back on the streets.”
The twins gaped at him.
“Bucky...are you sure?” Pietro asked.
“Of course I’m sure. You don’t have to answer now, I just want you to know that the offer is there.”
Bucky smiled tiredly and stood up.
“It’s been a long day, though, so I’m going to head-oof!”
He was tackled in a hug by the two teenagers.
“Thank you, Bucky.”
“You’re welcome, guys. Good night.”
Two days after finals ended, the six people crammed into Clint’s car. It was tight, but they fit. It took nearly five hours to get there from Boston.
“Where are we going?” Becca asked for the hundredth time.
“I told you, kiddo. It’s a surprise!”
“We’re almost there, squirt,” Clint says from the driver’s seat.
Becca was bouncing in her seat.
“Are we there yet?”
“Five more minutes, pumpkin,” Wanda laughed.
Five minutes later, they pulled into the driveway.
“Where are we?” Becca asked.
“Well,” Bucky started. “How would you feel about living here?”
“If you want.”
To Bucky’s horror, Becca looked like she was going to cry. “But what about Tasha and Pietro and Wanda and Clint? They’re going to be so far away!”
“Actually, Becca, Clint and I are going to live right around the corner.”
“You are?” Becca and Bucky asked.
“You bought the house?” Bucky knew that his friends were thinking about buying, but he didn’t know they had done it.
“We did,” Clint grinned.
Becca smiled for a moment, but her face fell again. “Did Wanda and Pietro buy a house too?”
“No, I was thinking they could live here, with us.”
“Really?” Becca gasped.
“Really,” Pietro said.
“Can we go inside?” She squealed, and everyone laughed.
“Anything to get out of this car,” Bucky answered.
As soon as she was out, Becca sprinted to the front door.
“What’s it like inside?”
“I don’t know Becca-Girl, I’ve never been here.”
“Then how did you buy it?”
“I’ll tell you after we look around.”
Bucky unlocked the door and walked in, closely followed by the others.
“So this is the living room,” Bucky said.
“And this is the family room. Obviously there are the stairs. Through that doorway,” Bucky pointed ahead.
“Is the kitchen and the dining room.”
Two hallways extended from both sides.
“There’s one bedroom down either hallway, the other two are upstairs.
Now, Becca, I want you to go check out the backyard.”
Becca scrambled to the back door and Bucky heard her shriek.
“There’s a pool!”
They spent the next ten minutes taking a tour of the house. It was fully furnished and didn’t need repairs because it was taken care of three times a year, and the inside was cleaned once every six months. After they checked out Nat and Clint’s place, Bucky sat Becca down in their new living room. The others had gone to get dinner in order to give them some privacy.
“Becca, I have something very important to give you.”
Bucky pulled a letter out of his pocket. He hadn’t read it yet, trying to preserve some privacy.
“Why’s that important?” She questioned.
“Because it’s from someone very special. It tells you where we got the house and a few other things. Do you want me to read it to you?”
“ ‘My dear baby girl. Since you’ve gotten this letter, I guess that means I’m not around anymore. I’m your Mom. Before I say anything else, I want you to know how much I love you. I may not have known you very long, but I love you with all of my heart. I’ve written you and your brother a few letters, and if he’s followed my instructions, the room you’re sitting in is the living room. Guess what, baby girl? This is the house that I grew up in. My room was the one at the top of the stairs to the right. My best friend lived in the house next door and we used to open our windows to talk at night. Her name was Sarah.’
You know, you met Sarah a few times when you were a baby,” Bucky said, mainly to give himself a break.
“Did...did Mommy really write this?” Becca whispered.
Bucky nodded. “She did, kiddo. There’s a little left, do you want me to finish?”
“ ‘While I’m writing this, I can feel you kicking. You like to dance already, just like your brother and I. Maybe one day he’ll teach you the dance I taught him. I’m going to go to bed now, baby girl. I hope you never have to read this, and that I can tell you this in person, but if not, I want to say again: I love you. Love, Mom. P.S. I left some pictures in the envelope.’”
It took Becca a minute to say anything. “Can I see the pictures?”
Bucky nodded. There were a bunch, but Becca chose a few favorites; one of their mom as a little girl in front of this very house, one of her reading a book to Bucky when he was Becca’s age, one of their mom when she was about six months pregnant with Becca, and another around the same time, but with Bucky standing by her side. The last one had Winifred, Bucky, Nat, and Clint all in their old living room, covered in paint and glitter, laughing by a giant poster that said It’s A Girl!
“I’ll buy some picture frames tomorrow, if you want.”
Becca nodded silently. “Can I...Can I have Mommy’s room?”
Bucky felt his heart crack at the sadness in her voice. “Of course, kiddo.”
The day that Becca and the twins finished school, they rented two moving trucks and moved everything to their new houses. It only took two weeks for everyone to be fully unpacked.
They made a big deal of Becca’s birthday, going out to dinner, nice gifts, the whole nine yards, because Bucky could afford it now.
He finally felt like their lives were beginning.
Chapter 5: Finding Old Friends and Making New Ones
On July sixteenth, Bucky took a day off from working on what was soon to be the coffee shop, and drove to the small cemetery in Brooklyn. He followed the paths from memory-he came every year-and he knelt by a headstone.
“Happy birthday, Ma. I brought lilies, your favorite.”
He placed his flowers down and sat back.
“It’s been a long year. I have great news; I finally got custody of Becca! She’s so happy. Do you remember those two kids I told you about, the twins who brought Becca to me? They live with me now. You’d love them. Nat and Clint bought a house right around the corner. Thank you for everything you left us. You couldn’t have known how much help it was.
I’m opening the coffee shop. Clint, Nat, Pietro, and Wanda all agreed to work there. Pietro and Wanda will obviously only be part time, because they have school, but they’re so excited. I should have approval by next week, and I just have to think of a name. Once that’s done, I should open by late September. You and I always planned this, and I can’t believe we never thought to give it a name.
Becca loves the house, she took your old room. I’m registering her for school tomorrow. She’s so smart, Ma, you’d be so proud of her. I’ve started to teach her that dance, the one you taught me, and she loves it. She calls it ‘Ma’s Dance.’ She framed that letter you gave her, and I framed mine,” Bucky sighed. “We miss you so much, Ma.”
He bowed his head and sat there until he heard footsteps on the gravel path. His head snapped up, and he saw a woman standing there.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt…”
The woman, Sarah, blinked at him, opening her mouth. Then her eyes grew wide and she gasped.
Bucky smiled, happiness exploding in his chest.
Sarah threw herself at him. Bucky, once he had recovered from his shock, clutched her tightly.
“It’s been so long, I was so worried, you never contacted me,” she said tearfully.
Bucky cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. He moved us and gave us no contact with anyone.”
“Don’t you dare apologize for him. You’re okay?”
She held him back at arms length, examining him.
Bucky wobbled his head side to side.
“More or less.”
He grinned. “She’s great. We’re doing great since George was arrested.”
”For at least four more years, hopefully.”
”That’s amazing, Bucky I’m so happy for you! Where are you living now?”
“Well, it turns out Ma left us her parent’s house, the one she grew up in.”
“Oh! That’s a beautiful house.”
“Becca loves the stories about you living in the house next door.”
Sarah laughed. “Yes, well, we got into a lot of trouble those days. You need to visit me sometime. I’m sure I have some new stories for her.”
“We’ll do that, ma’am. You know what? I’m finally opening that coffee shop Ma and I always talked about. It should be ready by September, if all goes well. You should come by if you’re in town.”
“Winifred would be so proud of you, James Buchanan Barnes.”
Bucky’s breath caught in his throat at the overwhelming emotions that those simple words brought to the surface. Pride, happiness, grief. He pulled Sarah into another hug.
“Thank you,” he whispered.
Sarah sniffed and pulled back.
“Of course, honey. Now,” Sarah pulled out a pen and paper from her purse.
“This is my phone number. I expect a call at least once a week, I want pictures of Becca, and whenever you’re in Brooklyn, you stop by.”
Bucky smiled. “Yes ma’am. But only if you drop by if you’re ever in my neighborhood.”
“Of course. You say hi to Becca for me.”
“Will do.” Bucky turned to the grave. He pressed his fingers to his lips and then to the headstone. “Love you, Ma. See you next year.”
He nodded to Sarah and turned to leave. As he walked, he heard Sarah begin to talk. “Hey, Win. Those kids grow up so fast, don’t they? My baby’s a teacher now...”
Three days later, Bucky took Becca to the elementary school to enroll while Clint and Nat took the twins to the high school. Despite the fact that the school was no more than five minutes from their new house, Bucky managed to get lost. They managed to make it just in time for their appointment, and the secretary immediately waved them into the office, where the principal was sitting at her desk.
“You must be James,” she said kindly.
“And you must be Rebecca.” She was an older woman, maybe in her mid-sixties, and she had an English accent.
Bucky nodded and held his hand out for her to shake. Becca waved shyly.
“I’m Ms. Carter. It’s nice to meet you.”
“It’s nice to meet you, too,” Becca said quietly, and Ms. Carter smiled.
“I understand you’re her brother?” She asked Bucky.
“And her legal guardian.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Bucky repeated, waiting for the inevitable why.
It didn’t come. The woman only nodded.
“You’re going into the second grade, correct, Rebecca?”
Ms. Carter leaned back in her chair and looked Bucky over appraisingly. She suddenly nodded, as if coming to a decision.
“Well, I think we’ll put you in Mr. Rogers’ class. I wanted him to be here today to meet you, but he had a little accident yesterday and he’s home resting.”
“Is he okay?” Becca asked nervously, and the principal laughed.
“Yes, he’s fine. If I’m being honest,” she leaned forward and lowered her voice, like she was telling a secret. “I think he has a cold, but he doesn’t like to admit he’s sick.”
Becca grinned. “Bucky does that too!”
“Hey! I do not!’
“Tasha says you do.”
Bucky rolled his eyes.
“Bucky?” Ms. Carter questioned.
“Ah. My middle name is Buchanan, and my ma hated the name James, so she called me Bucky.”
“I quite understand. My name is Margaret, but everyone calls me Peggy. Now, I think all that’s left is for you to sign the paperwork. The first day is September fourth.”
Bucky signed the paperwork, then, after taking a quick tour of the school, took Becca out for ice cream.
Chapter 6: Meeting Mr. Rogers
The first day of school came and went. Becca came home gushing about Mr. Rogers everyday. How funny he was, and how nice. On the night of parent-teacher conferences, she all but pushed Bucky out of the door, saying “You’ll love him, Bucky! He’s awesome!”
When he had pictured Becca’s teacher, he had gotten a won’t-you-be-my-neighbor type of vibe from the way Becca talked about him (and his name, of course).
So when Bucky walked into the classroom, he nearly had a heart attack. Sitting at the desk was a young man who couldn’t have been older than Bucky. And he was hot.
Once he gained control of himself, Bucky knocked on the open door. The teacher looked up from his papers and Bucky thought he saw his eyes widen slightly. But then he blinked and the look was gone, replaced by a smile. Bucky was suddenly grateful that Nat had insisted he dress nicely- You need to make a good impression, James.
“Come on in. You must be Mr. Barnes,” he stuck his hand out to shake.
Bucky obliged but shook his head.
“Please, call me Bucky. Mr. Barnes is my father.” Bucky cringed internally and rubbed at his shoulder. How cheesy was that?
But Mr. Rogers grinned. “Alright, Bucky, then you get to call me Steve.”
Bucky nodded. “It’s nice to meet you. Becca talks about you all the time.”
To Bucky’s shock, Steve looked slightly embarrassed.
“Good things, I hope.”
“Nothing but. Are you surprised?”
“You’re my second conference. The woman before you really seemed to hate me.”
Bucky raised an eyebrow, and Steve grinned again. Bucky’s stomach fluttered, and he mentally scolded himself.
“This one kid has a nuts allergy, right? So I tell the class that they can’t bring in nuts for a snack anymore.”
Bucky nodded, because he remembered getting the notice.
“Well, one kid kept bringing them in anyways, so today I told his mother about this, and she said that just because one kid is allergic it doesn’t mean that her son should suffer. I tell her that the kid could die if the nuts get near him, and she starts screaming at me, how she’ll be transferring her son to another class because I obviously don’t know anything about allergies and I’m too young to be teaching anyway.”
Bucky laughed along with Steve.
“Once I explained to her that she can’t transfer her son, she gets up and says she knows the principal and she’s going to get me fired,” Steve scoffs. “I’ve known Peggy for nearly six years, and I know for a fact that this woman is not friendly with her.”
Bucky shakes his head.
“Some people are just there to make your life hell.”
“Exactly,” Steve said. “But uh, we should probably talk about Becca now.”
He looked sheepish.
“Oh, geez. Yeah, probably,” Bucky ran a hand through his hair nervously. Bucky had nearly forgotten why he was there.
“Sorry. In case you can’t tell, this is my first year teaching.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s my first time coming to one of these things.”
Steve nodded. “Alright, well, Becca’s an extremely bright kid. She loves to learn, and I really only have one concern,” Steve trailed off.
Steve sighed. “Look, Bucky, I’m pretty sure that I’m overstepping a boundary here, so you can tell me to fuck right off, but I was wondering if Becca was ever...abused?”
Bucky’s mind went blank. He thought she was doing so well, how could he tell?
“No, Bucky, it’s nothing bad,” Steve rushed to assure him. “I’ve just noticed that she flinches whenever someone raises their voice, or if someone moves towards her too quickly.”
Bucky sighed, rubbing at his shoulder. He saw Steve’s eyes dart to it and he dropped his hand, embarrassed.
“Yeah. Well, not her exactly, but our father...he beat on me a lot, and he kicked me out of the house when I was twenty-one. She ran away two months later because he would leave for days at a time, and one day he came home and things got bad and he hit her. I got custody of her last year, and he’s in jail.”
Bucky met Steve’s eyes, preparing himself for pity, but to his surprise, all he found was understanding.
“That must’ve been real hard,” he said quietly. “My dad used to hit me a bunch when I was young, whenever my Ma was gone. When she found out, she damn near killed him.”
Bucky nodded. “Same with my ma. She divorced him when she was two months pregnant with Becca, but when she passed we had to go live with him.”
Bucky hesitated. “Do you think she should go see someone? I’ve been tryin’ real hard to help her out, but like you said, she still gets...nervous.”
Steve hummed. “I don’t think she needs to at the moment. Usually these things take time. You seem like you’re doing a great job with her, Bucky. Just keep doing whatever you’re doing, and I’m sure she’ll be fine. She adores you, you know. Always talking about you.”
Bucky could feel himself flushing.
“Just telling you what I hear.” Steve shrugged. “I think that about wraps it up, though, unless you had any questions?”
“I don’t think so,” Bucky said easily.
Steve stood with him and Bucky felt his mouth go dry. Steve was hot just sitting down, but standing up? He was about two inches taller than Bucky, and he was built like a fucking god.
Bucky opened his mouth impulsively to ask Steve out, but then he remembered that this wasn’t some random guy he had met, this was Becca’s teacher.
It would be really inappropriate to date him, and if Steve said no, then it would make things awkward for Becca. He cleared his throat, then opened his mouth again.
“It was nice to meet you, Steve.”
“You too, Bucky.” Steve shook his hand again, and then hesitated. He opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again.
“Are you going to the beginning of school party that the Hart’s are throwing tomorrow?”
“Oh! Uh, yeah, Becca wants to go, so I figured I’d take her. I’m bringing the cookies.”
Bucky mentally smacked himself- I’m bringing cookies? How lame was that?
Steve looked relieved and thankfully ignored the cookie comment.
“Oh thank God,” he laughed. “They invited me, but all the parents know each other. Plus they’re all about ten years older than me. Now I’ll have someone to talk to.”
Bucky felt his heart speed up, but on the outside, he grinned.
“And I was worried I wouldn’t know anyone.”
On his way home, Bucky shot a quick text to Wanda saying he’d be a little late, and she said not to worry. He barged into Nat and Clint’s without knocking.
“Nat!” He yelled.
Natasha looked at him from where she was sitting on the couch with Clint.
“I have a problem,” he complained in Russian.
She raised an eyebrow.
“Becca’s teacher isn’t an old man!”
“...Why is that a problem?”
“Because he’s our age and he’s hot. And he’s funny and nice and did I mention hot? He’s like a fucking greek statue! And he’s so easy to talk to and I probably made an idiot out of myself but his fucking eyes. And I want to ask him out but he’s Becca’s teacher and I can’t and how am I supposed to survive a whole year meeting with this guy and not being able to-ugh.”
Bucky face-planted onto the other couch.
“I didn’t catch any of that, dude. Why do you always forget I can’t speak Russian?” Clint complained.
Nat patted his thigh. “James wants to bang Becca’s teacher but he’s not allowed to.”
“Aw, poor widdle Bucky.”
“Shut up, asshole, you haven’t seen him! And tomorrow I have to go to a stupid beginning of the school year party that one of the PTA moms is throwing and it’s all day and he’s going to be there!”
Clint snorted. “Someone’s cranky.”
He wasn’t quick enough to stop the pillow that Bucky chucked at his face.
By the time Bucky and Becca had to leave the house for the barbeque, Clint had told the twins about his problem, and now he had four people teasing him. At least Wanda helped him figure out what to wear- a casual gray t-shirt and dark jeans. Becca was bouncing in her seat the whole ride.
“I can’t wait for you to meet Kate and America! And Daniel and Teddy and Billy!”
Bucky parked in front of the house and Becca squealed, trying to unbuckle as she got out of the car. She managed to get tangled in her seatbelt and towel.
“Becca! Slow down!” Becca stopped her struggle to look at him.
“It’s fine.” Bucky grinned at her and helped her get untangled.
They headed around to the back of the car as someone else pulled in behind them. Bucky opened the trunk.
“Alright, kiddo. You have your towel?”
Becca nodded impatiently. “And sunscreen and everything else we talked about! I promise!”
With that, she darted towards the backyard gate, where kids could be heard yelling and splashing in the pool.
“Becca, wait! I need help, my shoulder…” he trailed off because she was already long gone.
“I can carry something, if you want.”
Bucky jumped and turned around. There was Steve, standing by the door of his car.
“Oh, uh...sure, I’d appreciate that. Thanks.”
“No problem.” Bucky handed him a plate of cookies. “Your shoulder okay?”
Bucky blinked. “Ah, it’s acting up today. Old injury.” Bucky pulled a second plate out and closed the trunk.
Steve nodded. He must’ve sensed that Bucky didn’t want to talk about it, and he changed the subject. “Becca seems excited.”
“She hasn’t stopped talking about it all week.”
They reached the backyard, and they were immediately accosted by Mrs. Hart.
“Mr. Rogers, I’m so glad you made it!”
She turned to Bucky and uncertainty crossed her face.
“You too...Mr. Barnes.”
Bucky cleared his throat. “You can call me Bucky.”
She looked as if she had a sour taste in her mouth, and although she hid it quickly, Bucky shifted uncomfortably.
“Well, you can put the cookies over there.” She pointed to a table laden with snacks.
“Sure,” Steve said easily, and he lightly tugged Bucky’s towards it. “That was rude,” he muttered under his breath.
Bucky shrugged, then winced at the tug in his shoulder. “I’m used to it.”
Steve furrowed his brow at Bucky, who flushed.
“Some people don’t realize I’m her brother, they think I’m her dad. Or, they assume things that aren’t necessarily true, and they feel sorry for me.”
“That’s not okay, Bucky,” Steve protests, and when Bucky looked at him he saw genuine indignation on his face.
Bucky knew it was stupid, but he couldn’t help the way his heart skipped a beat.
“I didn’t say it’s okay, I said I’m used to it.”
Steve frowned. “Bucky-”
“Bucky!” Steve was cut off by Becca running towards them with a group of kids in tow.
“Hey, Becs. Are these your friends?”
Bucky crouched down so he was eye level with them.
Becca nodded. “This is Teddy and his best friend Billy, and this is America and Kate, and Kate’s brother Daniel!”
“It’s very nice to meet you all.”
“Hi, Mr. Barnes!” The kids chorused, and Bucky cringed.
“Alright, if you guys are gonna hang out with my little sister, you are not allowed to call me that,” he shook his head. “My name is Bucky.”
The kids giggled, and then they noticed Steve.
“Hi, Mr. Rogers,” they said shyly.
Steve laughed. “Hey kids. Why don’t you go play?”
The kids nodded and ran towards the pool. Bucky and Steve talked for a little while longer, and they were soon joined by America’s moms, Kate and Daniel’s parents, Teddy’s father, and Billy’s grandmother. The kids were all playing, some splashing in the pool, others running around the yard, playing tag.
That’s why no one noticed the yells and frantic splashing.
Bucky was laughing at something Billy’s grandmother said when he heard Becca.
“BUCKY!” Bucky’s head whipped around at the panic in Becca’s voice and saw her standing by the edge of the deep end of the pool. “TEDDY CAN’T SWIM!”
The next thing he noticed was two kids flailing around in the deep end. He didn’t even think, he just took off. He could feel Steve on his heels, but he sprinted for the pool. He jumped the fence without slowing and dove into the pool.
One of the two kids, Billy, had his arms wrapped around Teddy, but Teddy was dragging him down.
He reached out and grabbed both of them just as they started to sink again, pushing their heads above water as he violently treaded water to keep the three of them afloat.
“Bucky!” Steve was kneeling at the side of the pool, holding out his arms. Bucky struggled over, shoving Teddy out of the water.
Steve handed him off to his father, then took Billy when Bucky lifted him onto the edge. He reached a hand down to Bucky and pulled him out.
“Thanks,” Bucky breathed.
Steve just stared at him, eyes wide.
Before Bucky could register anything else, he saw Billy getting held back by Mrs. Hart as adults crowded around his best friend.
“Come here, Billy,” he said, then lifted the worried child up, ignoring the pain in his shoulder. He shoved past the other adults surrounding Teddy, then set Billy down next to him.
“Billy!” Teddy said loudly. “I’m sorry!”
“Why are you sorry? Are you okay?”
“You tried to save me but I pulled you down with me!”
“Alright, boys, someone tell me what happened,” Teddy’s father interrupted gently.
“Teddy slipped into the pool and Billy jumped in to save him but he was too heavy,” Kate squeezed past Billy’s grandma.
“Boys, what do you say to Bucky?” Billy’s grandma said.
“Oh, they don’t have to-"
“Thank you, Bucky,” the boys chorused.
Bucky felt his face burn. “Well, I wasn’t gonna let ya drown, was I?” He joked, ruffling their wet hair. The boys giggled wetly.
Once the commotion had passed, Becca hugged Bucky, and then paraded around, proudly telling everyone that’s my brother.
“That was pretty awesome, Bucky.”
Bucky jumped and turned to see Steve.
“Nah. Anyone else would have done the same. Hell, you were right on my heels,” he protested.
Steve scoffed. “I didn’t even start running until you were halfway there. No one even realized what was happening until you dove in.”
“I don’t know about that…”
“Dude. Stop protesting and accept the fact that you’re pretty damn cool.”
Bucky ducked his head.
Steve grinned and clapped Bucky on his good shoulder.
“How’s your shoulder, by the way?”
Bucky winced. “Not great. I’ll put some heat on him tonight, it’ll be fine in the morning.”
Bucky nodded. “Yep. I’ve dealt with this enough times.”
Steve looked at him appraisingly. “Okay then.” He looked like he wanted to say something else, but he looked at something behind Bucky. “Ooh, food’s out. Hungry?”
“Hell yeah,” Bucky said eagerly, and Steve laughed.
As they walked over, he could see everyone staring at him-mainly women.
“Why’re they staring at me?” Bucky whispered.
Steve looked at him, and then laughed. He gave Bucky a deliberate once-over.
“Uh...you kinda look like you won a wet t-shirt contest, Bucky.”
Bucky’s eyes widened and he looked down. His gray shirt had turned dark with water and it was clinging to his torso.
Hell, even his jeans were clinging to him.
Bucky could feel himself turning bright red.
“Oh my God.”
“I notice they didn’t give you a towel.”
“Holy crap, shut up! God, I didn’t even think!”
Steve burst out laughing.
“It’s just because they don’t like me, don’t make it weird!”
Steve shook his head. “Don’t shoot the messenger, Buck.”
Bucky’s heart jumped at the nickname, but he forced himself to ignore it.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. I’m getting food.”
He spent the rest of the afternoon with Steve, and when it was time to go home, both Billy and Teddy gave him a hug.
He felt oddly touched, and when they let him go he turned to Teddy’s father and Billy’s grandmother and offered to let them come over anytime so they could practice swimming.
Becca was so tired, she fell asleep on the drive home. Natasha and Clint were apparently at the house watching movies with Wanda and Pietro, and when Bucky walked in the four immediately pelted him with questions about Steve.
Bucky ignored them until he got Becca into bed.
Then he came out, collapsed onto the couch, and said, “I’m so screwed.”
His friends burst into laughter.
Chapter 7: A Series Of Suprising Events
The coffee shop opened on a Tuesday, two weeks before the end of September.
Bucky had come up with the perfect name. He had known that his mother would not have wanted it named for her, so he went for the next best thing: he named it Howlies, for his grandfather.
His grandfather fought in World War II, and Bucky knew that Winnifred had loved hearing his stories of his time with the Howling Commandos.
His Grandad’s three best friends-Winifred’s uncles- had all been in the Commandos too.
All of Bucky’s nerves had apparently been for nothing, because by the time they opened at eight, there was a line out the door.
Wanda had done a great job with the advertising. The building itself was beautiful. It was two stories with an open layout, except for the kitchens and bathrooms. Bucky had turned the upper half into a comfortable seating area, one couch against each of the three walls, and larger tables sprinkled throughout. The lower lever had smaller tables lining the walls, with an open space between the counter and chairs. There were four plushy arm chairs around a fireplace.
Over the course of the next few weeks, they began to open at six instead of eight.
Nat and Clint would open so Bucky could take care of Becca, then Bucky would come in after getting her on the bus.
He switched Becca’s bus route so she would be dropped off in front of Howlies, and business picked up.
On Saturdays, Bucky opened by himself, and the twins came in at noon. Sarah stopped in two weeks after they opened, and Bucky ended up taking her for dinner.
By the next month, they had regulars, and Bucky knew each by name.
Bucky picked up a tray of coffee over to the three men sitting in the armchairs. Wanda, who had the day off of school, told him they had been there since they opened. When Bucky saw them, he nearly dropped the tray.
“Uncle Monty! Uncle Gabe, Uncle Tim!”
The men turned, then stood in shock.
“Bucky! Holy shit, boys, it’s Chester’s grandson!” Uncle Tim crowed.
“We ain’t blind yet, Dum Dum!” Gabe yelled.
Bucky set down the coffee and pulled the men into hugs.
“How are you, son?”
“I’m good. We’re great. It’s been so long.”
“Last we saw you was the services for your ma. But I don’t know what you remember from then. Grief can do crazy things to the mind.”
When Bucky thought of those few days, it was blurry. He remembered how fragile Becca felt as he held her, only a week old and already the best behaved child on Earth. He remembered Sarah holding Becca when it was his turn to speak. He remembered clutching Becca as he sobbed when Sarah gave her speech, along with these three men. He remembered those four people taking care of him, staying with him and Becca between services, taking turns making him eat and sleep.
He remembered that his father never bothered to show up. He remembered the fear he felt as his ma was lowered into the ground, the moment he realized he had to raise a child because he knew that his father sure as hell wouldn’t. He remembered George yelling at him not to ever talk to any of his ma’s friends again.
But most of all, he remembered the people who had actually cared for him.
“I remember, of course I do. You and Sarah took care of Becca and I before we moved to our dad’s.”
“That’s right, kid.” Tim nodded. “But how is that little girl anyways? She’s six now, ain’t she?”
“Becca? Yeah, she’s getting big. She’s doing great.”
Gabe smiled. “And how’s George? I know he and Winnie divorced, but she never said why. He used to be such a nice kid. But he never did show up to those services.”
Bucky rubbed his shoulder. “Ah. Well. He’s in jail. For assaulting an officer, and child abuse.”
The three men's faces darkened. “He hurt you?”
Bucky cleared his throat. “Yeah. I got custody of Becca the first time he hit her, though.”
“I’ll kill that son of a bitch,” Monty growled, clenching his mug.
“Monty-” Bucky started.
“Chester and Winnie can’t, so we have to,” Tim said matter-of-factly.
“Exactly. If your grandad knew about this, the bastard wouldn’t have made it to jail,” Gabe ground out.
Bucky knew arguing wouldn’t help.
“Well, he’s in jail for awhile longer. You’ll have to wait at least another year.”
“That’s it?” Tim huffed. “How long he been in there for?”
“About two years. He’s meant to serve five, but good behavior and all that.”
“You’re telling me, pal. But Becca’s happy now, and I’ve got some great people in my life.”
“That takes a lot of strength to get past, son. You’ve done good.”
“Thanks, Uncle Tim.”
“Hold on a second. You look too much like Chester to call me Uncle Tim. Call me Dum Dum.”
Bucky grinned. “Thanks, Dum Dum.”
“You named this place for your granddad, huh?” Monty asked.
“Yeah, Ma loved his stories.”
“James! Break’s over, get your ass behind the counter!” Natasha called before he could do more than smile.
“Natasha! Look who’s here!” He called back.
“Who...oh my god!” She opened the door to the kitchen. “Wanda, tell Clint to get out here! And take over the counter!”
“Is that Miss Natasha?” Gabe asked.
Natasha flew over and grabbed them all in hugs.
“What’s up, Nat?” Clint poked his head out of the kitchen. “Holy shit! It’s your uncles!” He yelled.
After they caught up a bit more, and Bucky had introduced them to Wanda and Pietro, customers began to come in on lunch breaks, so Bucky worked the counter with Clint while Nat worked in the kitchen with the twins. When the phone rang, he cradled it between his ear and shoulder and he boiled milk.
“Is James Barnes there?” Someone with an English accent asked.
“Hi, Bucky. This is Peggy Carter, Becca’s principal. I have her here in the office. I think it’s best if you come in.”
“Why? What happened?”
“She’s been in a fight, and she won’t tell us what happened.”
“She what?” Bucky squawked.
He was so distracted that he let the milk overflow onto his hand. He yelped in pain, cursed, then dropped the cup, rushing to get his hand under water.
“What the hell, man?” Clint asked.
“Are you alright, Bucky?”
“I-shit-yes, I’ll be there as soon-motherfucker- as I can.”
“Of course,” Peggy sounded worried.
Bucky hung up. Nat had heard the commotion and stepped out of the kitchen.
“What happened, Bucky?” Clint was staring at him.
“Becca’s in the principal’s office. She got into a fight, I’ve got to go.”
“Becca got into a fight?” Natasha asked incredulously.
Bucky nodded distractedly, searching for his keys.
“Bucky, wait, at least take ice for your hand. That’s a nasty burn.” Clint tossed him his keys and an ice pack.
Bucky wrapped his hand as he got into the car, and he made it to the school in fifteen minutes.
He practically burst into the office, and the secretary waved him in. Becca was sitting by herself on one side of the desk, head bowed, while Peggy sat on the other side, next to Steve.
“Bucky, hey,” Steve said.
“Hello, Bucky,” Peggy added.
“Hello. What the he- sorry. What happened?” Bucky asked, taking a seat.
Peggy looked amused at his near-slip, but she quickly became formal again.
Steve looked apologetic. “The kids were having some free time outside, since it’s a warm day, and two kids were arguing over a swing, so I walked over there for a moment. When I came back, there was yelling, and I see Becca punch another child in the face. Apparently, the kid hit her first, but she won’t tell us the whole story.”
Bucky rubbed his forehead. “Becca, you want to tell me what happened?”
Becca sighed. “Kate and I were talking about how we were excited that Mr. Rogers let us outside. Kevin heard and he came up to us and said…” Becca trailed off.
“What did he say?”
“It’s not a nice word.”
Bucky looked at the other two, who shrugged. “You won’t get in trouble if you repeat it.”
“He said the f-word.”
“Fuck?” Both Steve and Bucky spoke at the same time, then each slapped a hand over their mouths. Bucky saw Peggy’s lips twitch.
“Becca, you don’t punch a kid for saying that.”
But Becca was shaking her head. “No, not that f-word.”
Bucky raised an eyebrow in confusion, and she huffed.
“The thing that Dad used to call you when he would drink too much of his juice and beat you up.”
The three adults looked taken aback, but Bucky for a different reason. “You mean…”
“The not nice word for gay people.” Becca nodded.
Bucky cleared his throat. “And...how did he use the word?”
“Well, he came over and said ‘my parents say that Mr. Rogers is a… you know.”
Peggy gasped quietly.
“Then I told him that that’s a mean word,” Becca continued. “And he said ‘so what, it’s still true!’ and I said does he even know what it means, and he said that it means that a boy who likes another boy, and that his parents say it’s unnatural and disgusting. Then he said what he said before about Mr. Rogers, and I said ‘so what if he is, it’s not a bad thing!’ But he said yes it is.”
Becca took a breath.
“Kate told him to shut up, because America has two mommies and they’re real nice, and then he pushed her. He said all gay people are going to burn in hell, including Mr. Rogers and America’s mommies, and then I said ‘shut up, just because a boy likes another boy it’s not a bad thing! My brother is gay!’ and then he said ‘then that means your brother is going to burn in Hell too!’ and then he hit me. Kate tried to push him away but then he shoved her onto the ground so I stepped on his foot and punched him in the face, just like Tasha taught me.”
Bucky gaped at her, then turned to see similar expressions on Steve and Peggy’s faces.
All he could think to say was, “Natasha’s teaching you to fight?”
Becca nodded slowly, then bowed her head again.
“I’m sorry I was fighting, 'cause I know violence is never the answer, but he said mean things about Mr. Rogers and America’s mommies and Bucky, and he hurt my friend, so I’m not sorry for punching him.”
“Thank you, Becca. Now, I want to speak with your brother for a minute. Could you please wait in the office?”
Becca stood, and Bucky saw something he always dreaded seeing on her-the beginnings of a black eye. “Hang on, kiddo.”
He unwrapped his burned hand and handed to ice to his sister.
“Put this on your eye.”
She took it without comment and left.
Once the door closed, Bucky slumped down.
“I am so sorry, Ms-”
“Call me Peggy, please.”
“Peggy, then. She has never gotten into a fight in her life.”
“I’m sure. She’s a great kid. Look, Bucky,” Peggy started. “Becca’s not in trouble.”
Bucky’s head snapped up. “She’s not?”
“Well,” Peggy amended. “She will have to stay in for recess tomorrow, due to school rules, but in my eyes, your sister was provoked. Kevin will receive a two-day suspension.”
Bucky nodded, and then Peggy smiled.
“Now that all of the formalities are out of the way, may I just say that your sister is an amazing little girl? She stood up to that little shit quite nicely.”
Bucky did a double take. “She-what?”
Peggy laughed. “If I’m being honest, I’m not sorry that she hit him either. That family is quite horrible. I’ve had his two older brothers in this room more times than I can count, and the mother has cussed me out so many times I’ve lost track. It’s no wonder that boy picked up such foul language.”
Steve shook his head. “She has a mean right hook, Bucky. She dropped him straight to the ground.”
Bucky cracked a smile. “Well, apparently my best friend is teaching her how to fight.”
Steve grinned. “I really wish it was appropriate for me to thank her for defending me. I should’ve known that something like this would happen. I told you his parents saw me out with that guy Sharon set me up with last month, right, Pegs?”
Peggy nodded. “The one who left you to pay the bill after ordering a lobster?”
“Yeah. God, they looked like they had swallowed a lemon.”
“What’d you do to your hand?” Steve asked suddenly.
“Oh. Well, when I got the call about Becca I was making a cup of coffee and I spilled the milk I was boiling.”
“That looks bad. Do you want me to call the nurse to look at it?” Peggy offered.
Bucky shook his head. “No need to make a fuss. I’ll be okay in a few days, but thank you.”
Peggy nodded and gave him a calculated look. She turned to Steve and whispered something in his ear. Steve’s eyes widened and his entire face turned bright red.
“Peggy! Oh my God…” he hid his face in his hands while Peggy cackled.
“You’ll have to excuse me, Bucky. I like to tease poor Steve.”
A pained look crossed her face.
“I suppose I have to call that horrid woman now.”
She went to shake Bucky’s hand, but seeing the burn, simply waved at him instead.
“I hope next time we talk it won’t be in this office,” she said lightly.
“Yeah, me too.” Bucky grinned. Steve stood and walked out of the office with him.
Steve said goodbye to Becca and slipped something into her hand. When she looked at him, he winked and made a shushing motion, and Bucky felt his heart melt.
He scoffed at himself. He had only met the man three times, for God’s sake! He barely knew him! Steve’s Becca’s teacher...even if he’s really hot, and nice, and...Bucky was so screwed.
Bucky smiled at Steve, who waved.
“What did he give you, Becs?” Bucky asked once they were in the car.
“A lollipop. Does this mean he’s not mad at me?”
Bucky glanced at her in the rear view mirror. “He’s not mad, kiddo. You’re only getting one recess inside. But Becca, I want you to stay away from Kevin.”
“I know, Bucky. He’s mean. He brought in nuts as a snack even though America’s allergic and Mr. Rogers asked him not to.”
Bucky remembered his first meeting with Steve, and his story about the woman who yelled at him. He couldn’t help his smile.
“Okay. One more thing, Becca-Girl. Don’t go punching any more kids, even if they say mean things.”
“Don’t apologize, kiddo. And I’m going to tell you something that I probably shouldn’t.”
“I’m proud of you. I probably shouldn’t be, but I am. Just don’t get into any more fights, okay?”
“Okay, Bucky.” Bucky could hear Becca’s smile.
Chapter 8: Merry Christmas Part 1
The months went by, and soon it was Christmas break. Christmas had been Winifred’s favorite holiday, so Bucky decided to throw a big Christmas celebration in the coffee shop.
He, Clint, and Natasha strung up lights, garland, and other decorations while the twins set up a Christmas tree with Becca.
Bucky advertised free coffee and food from three to eight two days before Christmas Eve, and when the day came, the place was packed. People filled both levels.
By six, everyone was having a great time. People were dancing to music that Natasha was playing from her phone, and all of their regulars were there.
Becca had insisted that she dress up in a frilly red and green Christmas dress.
Bucky was just handing Dum Dum his croissant when he heard the song come on. He saw both Clint and Pietro’s heads snap up.
“Oh no,” Bucky, Nat, and Wanda groaned together.
“Everybody clear the floor, this is my song!” Clint yelled.
“No way, old man! It’s my song!”
The song was ‘No Roots’ by Alice Merton, and the two of them took to the dance floor.
They both began to dance, very badly, and it evolved into a dance off. Everyone was laughing so hard they couldn’t catch their breath. Bucky himself was doubled over with tears in his eyes.
About halfway through, Natasha huffed, rolled her eyes, then dragged Wanda onto the dance floor, effectively cutting the boys off. She began to dance in perfect time with the song, and Wanda joined in quickly.
The laughing stopped and everyone began to clap with the beat, until the song ended. When they stopped the dance, everyone began to cheer.
Bucky glanced over at Becca and saw her happily sitting at the counter with her friends.
“Hey, Becs,” he called.
She looked at him and he grinned.
“Should we show them how it’s done?”
Becca’s eyes lit up. “Ma’s dance?”
“Yes ma’am! Nat, swap with me.”
Nat took his place behind the counter as Clint queued up the song- Benny Goodman’s ‘Sing, Sing, Sing.’
The customers cleared a large space on the floor when Bucky offered his hand to Becca.
She giggled and hopped off the stool.
They stood in the center of the impromptu dance floor, and started a quick step with the first notes. As soon as the music picked up, they whipped into a well-rehearsed swing dance. The crowd clapped along with the beat. Despite the height difference, the dance was pretty smooth.
Bucky lifted Becca into the air and swung her around, then placed her down. She went into her solo part of the dance, kicking and twirling around. They then repeated the quick step from the beginning, then Bucky twirled Becca around and around until she let go of his hand and ran to him.
He lifted her once again, this time tossing her into the air and catching her. She lightly touched down, and as the song came to an end, Becca rolled across Bucky’s back and landed gracefully next to him on the last note.
The crowd erupted into cheers, whistles, and applause.
“Take a bow, Becca,” Bucky laughed.
Becca curtsied shyly, then tugged on Bucky’s arm.
“Mr. Rogers is here!”
Bucky jumped, and then he saw him, standing in front of the crowd. He smiled at Bucky, and the man standing next to him nudged him, grinning.
Before Bucky could go talk to him, he was surrounded by people. It took him a good five minutes to get out, and even then it was because Clint and Pietro started to argue over who got to dance with her next.
While they were distracted, Gabe cut in and snatched Becca, who was giggling so hard she could barely dance. Bucky was pushed back behind the counter, and suddenly he was face to face with Steve.
“Hiya, Steve. What can I get for you?”
Luckily for him, his brain managed to stay focused.
“Hey, Bucky! Uh...I’ll have a slice of that cake, please.”
Bucky handed him a plate. “Anything else?”
“Could I get a croissant?” The man who had been next to Steve earlier appeared behind him.
“Sure,” Bucky grabbed one from the display case. “Here you go.”
Bucky looked behind Steve and saw that there were no more people at the moment. He moved them to the stools by the counter, then started talking.
“So, I’ve never seen you here before. You new?”
Steve blinked. “Oh, uh, no. I come every morning before school. I didn’t realize you worked here.”
“I’m kinda the owner, actually. I don’t work the morning shift so I can put Becca on the bus.”
Steve’s friend cleared his throat, and Steve jumped.
“Oh, sorry! Bucky, this is Sam, my best friend. Sam, this is Bucky.”
Bucky reached out to shake his hand.
“Nice to meet you.”
“This place is great, man.”
“That dance you did with Becca was really cool,” Steve said before Bucky could respond.
He thought Sam rolled his eyes, but he couldn’t tell since he was focused on Steve.
Bucky rubbed his neck.
“Thanks. My Ma taught it to me when I was fifteen, and I taught Becca.”
“She’s really good, especially for a six year old,” Steve said.
“She takes after Ma, I guess.”
“My ma tried to teach me, but she gave up. I have two left feet, I guess.”
“James!” Nat came out of the kitchen.
“Oh, hey guys.”
“Hey Natasha,” they said.
“Bucky!” Bucky turned to see his little sister running towards him. He caught her and picked her up.
“What’s up, kiddo?”
“Can we have hot chocolate, pleeeeeease?”
She stuck out her lower lip and Bucky laughed. He looked at her friends, then at their parents, who shrugged.
“Sure, why not.”
“Thank you!” She tugged on his hair.
Becca giggled as he set her down and turned to pour the hot chocolate. She looked at Steve.
“Hi, Mr. Rogers.”
Bucky saw Nat blink, which was her equivalent of gaping, and he cringed.
“Hey, Becca. How’s your break going?”
Becca ducked her head shyly. “Good. Bucky let me put the star on the tree.”
“Well, that’s very nice of him.”
While Steve chatted with Becca, Nat looked at Bucky.
“So,” she drawled in Russian. “That’s Becca’s teacher.”
Bucky sighed, but kept a casual look on his face as he answered. “I swear if you embarrass me…”
She mock-gasped. “I would NEVER, Barnes.”
He set the tray down for the kids, then turned back to Steve and Sam.
“Dude, your little sister is adorable,” Sam said.
“When she wants to be,” Bucky grinned.
“James, Becca is a perfect angel. You leave her alone.” Natasha smacked the back of his head.
“James?” Steve asked.
Bucky shook his head. “My first name. Bucky comes from my middle name, but Natasha refuses to call me that.”
“A name is a name, James.”
“Whatever you say, Natalia.”
Natasha narrowed her eyes at him.
“Don’t push me, James. I won’t hesitate to mess you up in front of your boyfriend.”
Bucky spluttered. “Natalia Romanova!” He snapped. “He is Becca’s teacher, and we’re friends. Drop it.”
“Looks like I hit a nerve,” she said in English, smirking.
“I hate you.”
“Not in front of the customers, James dear.” She patted his cheek and walked into the crowd.
“I’m firing you!” Bucky called.
“No, you’re not,” she laughed.
Bucky groaned. “Sorry about that,”
“You speak Russian?” Steve blurted.
“Wha-oh. Yeah, my grandma lived in Russia, and I spent a year there when I was thirteen. It’s where I met Nat.”
Steve nodded. Sam cleared his throat.
“Hey, Bucky. You know her name?”
Sam nodded to a woman with dark hair, laughing with Nat.
“That’s Maria. Why, you want her number?” Bucky smirked.
Sam grinned. “Maybe. She single?”
“Why don’t you go ask her yourself?” Bucky suggested.
Sam rolled his eyes, but he got up and walked over. Steve and Bucky laughed.
“I know her,” Steve whispered. “She’s a close friend, and the woman next to her is Peggy’s niece.”
“Sharon? They’re partners, right? They come during their shifts sometimes, usually when they’ve been on patrol for the night.”
“That sounds about right.”
They talked for the rest of the night.
They ended up staying open until nine-thirty, when Bucky had to kick everyone out because he found Becca and her five friends out cold on the floor upstairs, under one of the tables. He and Steve carried the kids to their cars as the parents pulled the cars up front.
After giving Daniel to his mother, Bucky came inside to find Steve coming downstairs.
“I put Becca on the couch since I wasn’t sure how long you were staying, and I didn’t want her to be on the floor too long.”
“That’s...really nice of you. Thank you.”
Steve rubbed the back of his neck.
“No big deal. I should probably head out before the snow gets too bad, though. Merry Christmas, everyone,” he said, looking at Bucky’s friends.
“I’m Jewish!” Clint called out.
Wanda slapped the back of his head.
“No, he’s not,” Nat sighed. “Merry Christmas, Steve.”
Steve laughed. “Merry Christmas, Bucky. And to Becca, too.”
“Merry Christmas, Steve.”
They waved him out, and once the door was shut, the four others in the room ‘oooooh’ed at Bucky. Clint made kissy noises.
“You guys suck. And shut up, Becca’s sleeping.”
Bucky was up early Christmas morning to make his homemade cinnamon rolls. Once he got the presents arranged under the tree, he texted Nat and Clint to come over.
“Wanda!” He called, knocking on her door. “Time to get up!”
He did the same for Pietro, before going to get Becca. He found her under her bed, only her feet sticking out. He walked quietly up to her, then seized her ankles and pulled her out. She shrieked.
“Whatcha doin’, Becca-Girl?”
Becca giggled. “Bucky! Stop! I’m getting presents!”
“But breakfast is ready! I made my cinnamon rolls!” He heard the door open. “And Nat and Clint are here.”
“I’ll be down in a minute!”
“Fine. But you better hurry before the boys get to the food.”
Bucky left her to it and ran downstairs.
His family was sitting at the table, looking like they had just rolled out of bed. Which, Bucky supposed, they had.
Pietro’s hair was spiked up like a porcupine, Nat’s was in a sloppy bun, and Wanda’s was just a rat’s nest. Clint just had his head resting on the table, snoring lightly.
“Merry Christmas, guys,” Bucky snorted.
Pietro grunted in response. Bucky set down a mug of coffee in front of everyone, and a mug of hot chocolate in front of Becca’s place.
Clint’s head shot up when he smelled the coffee.
“How long have you been up?” Wanda yawned.
“Since six. This is my third cup,” Bucky answered cheerfully.
“That’s Clint’s fourth, and he’s been awake for fifteen minutes.” Nat shook her head.
Clint had already downed the mug. Bucky rolled his eyes just as Becca came sliding in.
“Merry Christmas, Becs!” Everyone chorused.
“Why does she get a Merry Christmas?”
“Because Becca’s a little angel, and you’re not. Isn’t that right, girly?” Nat grinned at Becca, who giggled.
“Stop picking on me, I made breakfast!”
“Aw, don’t worry Bucky, we still love you,” Wanda crooned.
Bucky rolled his eyes, but he put the cinnamon rolls onto the table.
After breakfast, they headed into the living room for presents. Every single one of them loved the holidays, mainly because none of them, save Becca, had much of a childhood past a certain point in their lives.
Bucky was just grateful that he could afford holidays now.
“So, who wants to go first?” Clint asked.
“ME!” Becca yelled.
“I think Becca might,” Wanda giggled.
Becca snatched four crudely wrapped presents from under the tree and handed them out.
“You have to open them at the same time,” she said, looking nervous.
Bucky looked at the others, and they slowly unwrapped the gifts. They had each gotten a booklet.
There was silence as they all stared at it. On the cover was a picture of the five of them standing together in front of the coffee shop. It was titled My Family.
Bucky began to read it. Each page had a picture of one of them, with a description underneath.
Bucky: This is my big brother Bucky. He’s been my family since the day I was born. I love him because he’s the greatest brother EVER. He takes care of me and he saved me from our dad. He helps me with his homework and he tells the best stories about my mommy. He taught me how to dance and he takes me camping every summer. Bucky reads to me every night before bed and he does all the different voices. He keeps me safe and that’s why I love Bucky.
Bucky felt his eyes go damp as he turned the page.
Tasha: This is my first big sister Tasha. She came into our family when Bucky brought her back from Russia to get away from some mean people. She has a different mommy and daddy but she’s still my sister. I love her because she taught me how to defend myself, and she’s teaching me ballet. She’s always there when I need her, and when the boys get annoying she takes me and Wanda out for a girl’s day. She helped Bucky teach me how to read and she held my hand when Bucky was in the hospital and dad wasn’t home and that’s why I love Tasha.
Clint: This is my second big brother, Clint. He came into our family when he ran away from his brother and the circus. He also has a different mommy and daddy, but he’s my brother anyways. He’s also Tasha’s boyfriend. I love him because he makes me laugh. He taught me jokes, and he’s teaching me sign language. He taught me how to ride a bike. He also held my hand when Bucky was in the hospital. He takes me for ice cream when I had a bad day at school and that’s why I love Clint.
Wanda: This is my newest sister, Wanda. She’s Pietro’s twin. She came into our family when she and Pietro helped me find Bucky after I got lost when I left my dad’s house. Wanda is in the drama club in the high school, and she’s really smart. I love her because she used to watch me when the others were at work, and she walked me to class every morning when we went to the big school back in Boston. Now she comes on girl’s days with me and Tasha, and she tells me Sokovian bedtime stories. She makes really good paprikash and she plays board games with me and that’s why I love Wanda.
Pietro: This is my newest brother, Pietro. He’s Wanda’s twin, and he came into our family when he and Wanda helped me find Bucky after I got lost when I left my dad’s house. Their parents died just like my ma. Pietro’s on the track team in the high school and he’s the fastest. I love him because he can pick me up and still run super fast. He gives the best hugs and he taught me that it’s okay to be afraid of spiders and sometimes he gives me candy when I’m sad. He would always walk home with me when we lived in Boston and that’s why I love him.
There was one more page.
Family: This is my family. We might not all have the same parents, but we’re still a family. Every Sunday, we have a family day since the coffee shop is closed. We do something different every week. Tasha and Clint live down the road and Wanda and Pietro live with me and Bucky. Each of them makes me happy in a different way, and I love them all because they all love me.
Bucky looked up at his baby sister, who was watching them anxiously. He was the first to finish reading, and he had to clear his throat before he could speak.
He wrapped her up in a hug and squeezed her until she was laughing and pushing him away.
“Bucky, I can’t breathe!”
As soon as Bucky let go, Becca was swept up by Wanda, then Clint, then Pietro, and then Natasha. She squealed as kisses were smacked on her cheek.
“It’s amazing, pumpkin.”
“I love it, squirt!”
“Thank you, princess.”
“Best Christmas gift ever, angel!”
Bucky saw both Clint and the twins swiping at their eyes, and even Natasha sniffled.
“I’m not sure I can top that, but I guess I’ll go next,” Wanda said.
She gave Bucky some new supplies for Howlies, Natasha got the new scarf she’d been eyeing, Clint got a watch, Becca got a bunch of nail polish, and she gave Pietro a new pair of running shoes.
Pietro gave Clint a huge bag of coffee beans, which Clint cradled to his chest like a baby. Becca got a jewelry box, Bucky got a case for his phone, because he’s always dropping it, Nat got a fuzzy blanket, and Wanda got a signed copy of her favorite book.
Clint went next. He gave Becca a gift certificate to the movies and a promise to take her whenever she wants, he gave Natasha a necklace with a tiny arrow on it, he got Bucky a new rolling pin, since Clint had broken the old one trying to kill a spider, and he gave the twins socks.
Bucky hid his grin as they masked their confusion.
Bucky gave Clint a dart board, because he broke his last one, he gave Natasha a gift certificate for a weekend at the spa, and he gave Becca the toy she had been talking about non-stop. He gave the twins gloves.
Natasha went last. She gave Clint a joke book, Becca got ballet shoes, leotard, and tutu, and Bucky got a new leather jacket. The twins got hats.
The three adults let them sit in their confusion for a moment longer before snorting.
“Your real gift is under the tree,” Bucky told them.
They glanced at each other, then looked down. All the way under the tree, touching the wall, were two small boxes.
Wanda crawled under and snatched them, handing Pietro his.
“This is from all of us,” Clint said.
“Open it!” Nat urged.
The two of them quickly unwrapped the paper and opened the boxes. Both of their jaws dropped, and they looked up.
Wanda pulled the key out of her box, and Pietro did the same.
“Look out the window,” Bucky suggested.
They scrambled up and sprinted to the window.
Pietro yelled, “Oh my God!”
“No way!” Wanda cried.
Bucky, Clint, and Natasha laughed.
“Merry Christmas, guys.”
In the driveway sat two extra cars, one silver, and one red.
“This...this is too much!” Pietro protested. “We couldn’t…”
“Relax, kid. We each paid a third per car, that way it wasn’t too bad. Besides, it’s the rest of your birthday present.”
Wanda suddenly rushed forward, throwing herself at Nat in a hug. Pietro did the same to Clint, and then they were hugging everybody.
“Thank you!” Wanda gasped.
“You guys deserve it. You never ask for anything.” Bucky shrugged.
“Bucky, you let us live here for free. You three took us off the streets and gave us jobs. There’s nothing more we could ask for!” Pietro furrowed his brow.
“That’s what families are for,” Becca said, hugging Wanda.
“Yeah, what she said.” Clint patted Pietro on the shoulder.
Chapter 9: Bucky Doesn’t Get Sick!
Also, Angie is a doctor for some reason. Just go with it
Bucky gave Clint his birthday off, which meant he had to take the early shift for the first time on a weekday. He gave Nat off too, so she and Clint could do something for his birthday after she put Becca on the bus. What they did, he didn’t want to know.
The bell rang and Bucky looked up.
“Well, well, would you look at that! Barnes is actually doing his share of the work!”
“Watch it, Monty, I have the right to refuse service,” Bucky laughed.
“You wouldn’t deprive an old man his coffee, would you?”
“What about a veteran?”
Bucky pointed to the sign that said We withhold the right to refuse service to anyone.
“I was being hassled.”
Monty shook his head and brought a hand to his heart. “What would Chester say?”
“You know full well Granddad would be laughing his ass off with those two.”
Bucky pointed at Dum Dum and Gabe.
“He’s right!” Gabe cackled.
Monty shook his head. “Fine. I’ll take the usual.”
Bucky laughed as he got their order
together and carried it over to their usual seats in the arm chair.
“On the house today,” he said when Dum Dum pulled out his wallet.
“You’re a good kid, you know that?” Monty said.
“Flattery won’t get you anywhere next time.” Bucky rolled his eyes fondly. “Now, I have more customers to serve.”
He went back to the counter, and it got so busy he didn’t even notice the hour going by.
“Good morning, what can I get you?”
Bucky asked. He looked up from the register and saw bright blue eyes staring at him. “Steve! Hey, how’s it going?”
“Not bad,” Steve said. “How are you?”
“Pretty good. You want the usual?”
Steve blinked, and Bucky laughed. “We keep a list of the regular’s orders. It’s easier when we switch shifts.”
“Oh. Yes please.” Steve grinned. “I thought you got Becca on the bus in the mornings?”
“Today’s Clint’s birthday, so I gave him and Nat off.”
“Tell him I said happy birthday, then.”
“Will do.” Bucky handed Steve his coffee.
“Hey Bucky!” Dum Dum called.
“Yeah?” Bucky turned to the armchairs.
“Who’s your boyfriend?”
Bucky willed himself not to blush and rolled his eyes. “This is Becca’s teacher, Dum Dum. How much coffee have you had?”
“Only the three cups you gave me!”
Bucky sighed. “I only gave you two, Dum Dum.”
“He snuck behind the counter when you were in the kitchen,” Gabe said.
“Hey! Did you not see the sign that says ‘employees only’?”
“Shut up, boy, I was in the war! Respect your elders!”
“I gave you free coffee!”
“Your grandad would do the same as me!”
“And my grandma would kick his ass!”
“Damn right she would,” Gabe mutters.
“So would your ma,” Monty adds.
“You ain’t gonna kick my ass, boy. You’re too respectful for that.”
“Maybe, but I have the power to give you decaf.”
Dum Dum gasped. “You wouldn’t dare.”
“Push me and you’ll find out.”
“Kids these days…”
Bucky turned back to Steve, who was grinning. “Sorry about them. My uncles. You’d think they’d be too old to steal things.”
“Never!” Monty yelled, eating croissant that Bucky knew he hadn’t served him.
Bucky rolled his eyes.
“No problem, Buck. But I have to head to school. See you around?”
“Sure. Have a nice day,” Bucky said easily.
Once the door was closed, Monty whistled.
“Bucky has a crush!”
“Shut up, Monty.” Bucky shook his head. “We’re just friends,” he added, but it was too late.
He thudded his head down on the counter as he was mocked by old men.
It was a Friday night, about a month later, that Bucky got one full hour of sleep. The rest of the night he was tossing and turning, either too hot or too cold, having nightmares, or needing water. When his alarm went off at five, he dragged himself out of bed. By the time he reached then bathroom the world was spinning. He sat on the edge of the tub with his eyes closed, then slowly went through his morning routine.
He managed to not crash the car, but he got to work nearly thirty minutes late. Dum Dum, Gabe, and Monty were sitting at one of the outdoor tables.
“Bucky! Where have you been! I need my coffee!” Dum Dum asked as Bucky unlocked the door with shaking hands.
“Sorry, Dum Dum. I’m not feeling like myself this morning. Couldn’t sleep last night,” Bucky responded as they walked in. “How long have you been outside? It’s freezing!”
“Yeah, we know! You’ve never opened late before. You sure you’re alright? You hungover or something?”
Bucky winced. “You know I don’t drink, Monty. No, I only slept for an hour last night.”
“Why didn’t you have someone else open for you?”
“Nat and Clint are off today, and the twins deserve to sleep in. The usual?”
They nodded. When Bucky handed him his coffee, Gabe grabbed his wrist, and then slapped the back of his hand to his forehead. Bucky winced. “Gabe! What-”
“Bucky, you’re burning up. You need to go home.”
“I’m not sick,” Bucky protested. “I don’t get sick.”
He walked back to the counter when the door opened, managing not to weave.
“Good morning, what can I get for-oh, hey, Steve.”
“Morning, Bucky,” Steve grinned at him.
“Usual?” Bucky asked.
“That’d be great.”
“Never see you here on Saturdays, you going somewhere?”
“Yeah, actually. I just went on a run with Sam, and I’m going to head out to Brooklyn to visit my…” Steve trailed off. “Bucky, are you feeling okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine, why?”
“Um...you’re just kinda...pouring lemonade into the coffee machine...”
He yanked the bottle back, but his hand was shaking so bad he spilled it everywhere, and then dropped it.
“Oh, son of a-” He bent to clean it up, but he moved too fast and the room started spinning. He closed his eyes and leaned against the counter.
“Barnes!” Dum Dum barked, coming behind the counter with Gabe and Monty.
“Stop. Slow down.”
“Dum Dum, I’m fine-”
“Like hell you are, boy. Go home.”
Bucky stood and walked unsteadily to the other side of the counter. “I’m not going home,” he said stubbornly.
“Holy crap, Bucky, what’s going on?”
Steve asked, coming over to stand next to him.
“Nothing! I’m fine, I just didn’t sleep last night. I’m just tired.”
“Are you sure?”
Bucky nodded, which was a mistake. He was suddenly very dizzy. “You know, maybe I’ll just sit down real quick,” he moved for one of the stools, but suddenly legs gave out.
He went to lean against the counter, but he misjudged the distance and missed, falling to the ground.
Bucky must have blacked out for a minute, because the next thing he knew he was blinking up at blurry faces. He could only hear snippets of the conversation.
“Bucky! Jesus, you’re burning up! What-”
“Rogers, go get a jug of cold water!”
“Bucky, kid, stay awake, you with us?”
Suddenly, Bucky was being hit by something ice cold.
“Agh!” He spluttered. “What the fuck!”
“Barnes, you just passed out. Call someone to take you to the doctor before I take you to the hospital myself,” Monty snapped.
“You got a fever that has to be over 100 degrees. Not sick my ass,” Gabe said.
Steve gently helped Bucky sit up. “I’ll be fine, just let me take a quick nap on one of the couches-”
“No fuckin’ way, Barnes. I’ll drive you to the doctor myself.” Steve stood, offering Bucky a hand.
Bucky took it, but he stood too fast and staggered into Steve. Before he could apologize, his phone rang.
“ ‘lo?” He croaked. Fine, maybe his throat was a little sore.
“Wanda? What’s up?”
“Becca woke up with a 102 degree fever. Her throat’s killing her and she can’t stop crying. Pietro’s putting her in the car now, should we take her to the clinic or the hospital?”
“Oh God. Um…” Bucky couldn’t think, his head hurt too bad. “Hospital, that’s closer. I’ll meet you there.”
“Are you okay?”
“I...don’t know. I’ll be there in a few minutes.” He hung up.
“Who’s in the hospital?” Monty asked.
“Becca’s got a high fever, Wanda’s driving. I gotta get there, where the hell are my keys?” He patted along the counter, then turned to Steve. “Clint, where’d you put my keys?”
“Bucky, you’re getting delirious.”
“I am not delicious! What the fuck!”
Everything sounded muffled to Bucky.
“Oh for chrissakes…” Dum Dum muttered. “He’s more stubborn than his grandad.”
“He can’t drive like this,”
“Can so!” Bucky protested.
“I’ll drive,” Steve offered.
“You’re going to Brooklyn, you don’t have to!” Bucky said, fighting through the fog in his mind.
“I have time, it’s no problem. Come on, let’s go.”
“Bucky, give me the keys, we’ll lock up.”
“I dunno where Clint put them!” Bucky cried. “And don’t eat all my coffee! I mean...drink all my food, wait, don’t food my drinks!”
He shook his head, then nearly cried from the pain it caused.
“Come on pal, I gotcha,” Steve said as he supported Bucky out the door.
“ ‘m sorry,” Bucky muttered as he sat in Steve’s car.
“Don’t worry about it, Bucky. What are friends for, right?”
Bucky groaned and put his head in his hands. “I think I might be a little sick, Steve.”
“No shit, Sherlock,” Steve muttered as he shook his head.
They pulled into the parking lot and Bucky staggered into the emergency room. He stumbled up to the desk.
The nurse stared at him, then pointed to the waiting room. Wanda and Pietro were there, with Becca curled up on Wanda’s lap. They were all in pajamas. Wanda spotted him and frowned as she took in his appearance. Bucky walked over with minimal weaving and gently touched Becca’s back.
“Hey, kiddo. You don’t feel good, do you?”
Becca turned to face him, and the tear trails down her face broke his heart.
“My throat hurts, Bucky. And my head, and I’m so cold but I’m sweating and I don’t like it!”
She reached out and Bucky took her, but since he could barely stand on his own, he sat down on the floor.
“I know, Becca-Girl. The doctor’s going to make you feel better.”
“Bucky, why are you all wet?” Pietro asked quietly.
Steve cleared his throat from behind them. From the way they jumped, none of the three had realized he was there.
“He passed out at Howlies. Dugan made me pour water on him. He’s got a nasty fever.”
“Mr. Rogers?” Becca asked blearily.
“Hey, sweetie. I drove your brother here because he heard you were sick.”
“Oh. Thank you.”
Steve smiled gently and took a seat.
“You don’t have to stay, Steve. You’ve done more than enough.”
“I want to make sure you guys are okay. If you don’t mind, anyway.”
“I don’t mind. What about Brooklyn?”
“I called my ma from the car, told her I’d be late. You don’t remember?”
“Not really. Everything’s...fuzzy.”
“Rebecca Barnes?” A nurse stood at the door, and Steve took Becca from Bucky as he struggled to stand. Pietro and Wanda each took an arm.
The five of them made their way into the room the nurse indicated.
“Put her here.” She patted a bed. “You sit too, honey.” She looked at Bucky with no room for argument. “The doctor will be in shortly.”
Steve laid Becca on the bed gently.
Bucky sat on the other bed slowly. “Okay, fine. I’m definitely sick.”
“You idiot!” Pietro groaned. “You probably got up this morning, nearly passed out, then got ready for work anyway.”
Bucky didn’t bother to answer.
“Oh my God! That’s exactly what he did!” Wanda cried.
“Could you keep it down? My head hurts a bit.”
Before they could scold him further, the doctor came in.
“Hello. I’m Doctor Martinelli and-Steve?”
“What are you doing here? I thought you were going to see your ma?”
“Bucky blacked out at work-”
“Bucky? As in the hot-” she started, but Steve talked over her.
“And I drove him here since Becca’s sick.”
The doctor turned to see Becca curled up on the cot, and she immediately became professional again.
“Yes,” Becca whispered.
“Can you tell me what’s wrong?”
“My throat hurts real bad.”
“Okay, sweetie. Can you sit up a little?”
Bucky started to get up to help her, but Steve pushed him back down.
“Don’t move. You’re going to pass out again.”
Bucky glared at him half-heartedly and Steve only raised an eyebrow.
Doctor Martinelli turned. “He’s right...Bucky, was it? Just sit back.”
Bucky sighed and Wanda helped Becca sit up. Doctor Martinelli looked in her throat with a flashlight and shook her head. She took Becca’s temperature, then turned to Bucky.
“She’s got a temperature of 102.4 degrees. It looks like strep, and I’m betting that’s what you have, too. It’s been going around. Steve said you passed out?”
Bucky started to nod, then decided against it. “Yes ma’am.”
“Don’t call me ma’am. What happened?”
“I couldn’t sleep last night, I got maybe an hour, and I woke up dizzy. I went to work and Steve came in and ordered his regular. I guess I must’ve been delirious or something, because I started pouring orange juice into the coffee machine.”
“Lemonade,” Steve corrected.
“Right, lemonade. I jerked it away but I was shaking and I dropped it, and then I moved too fast and I fell down. Next thing I know Steve’s pouring water on my head and the Commandos are yelling.”
“Howling Commandos. Dum Dum Dugan, Monty Falsworth, Gabe Jones?” Steve volunteered.
“Oooh, yes. Peggy’s boys.”
“Then Wanda calls and says Becca’s sick, so Steve drove me here.”
“He called me Clint, and wasn’t making sense at one point. He doesn’t remember me making a phone call in the car.”
The doctor nodded. She took his temperature, which turned out to be nearly 104 degrees. She did a throat swab on him and Becca, and they both tested positive for strep throat. Doctor Martinelli prescribed them both antibiotics and plenty of rest.
“Thank you for everything, Steve,” Bucky said as they walked out of the hospital.
“Don’t worry about it, Bucky. Just get better. You sure you don’t want a ride?”
“No, it’s okay. There’s room in Wanda’s car.”
“Bucky,” Becca said quietly.
“What’s up, kiddo?”
“Can you tell Mr. Rogers I won’t be in school on Monday?”
Bucky smiled. “Mr. Rogers, Becca would like me to inform you that she won’t be in school on Monday.”
“Of course, sweetie. You feel better soon, okay?”
“Thank you,” she whispered.
After he said goodbye to Steve, Wanda drove them to pick up their medicine. Nat and Clint insisted that Becca go to their house so Bucky didn’t have to worry about her. Bucky took the antibiotics and some benadryl, and he slept until six in the evening. On Sunday.
He had gotten up only when one of the twins woke him for his medicine, and then crashed again. Once he was up for good, he felt much better. His throat didn’t hurt and his fever was gone.
He found Steve’s number from the Becca’s course syllabus and put it into his phone.
-Hey Steve, this is Bucky Barnes. I got your number from the syllabus, hope this isn’t weird. I want to apologize for Saturday because I know I was kinda out of it, and I probably left without thanking you, so thank you. And sorry you didn’t get your coffee, next time you come in it’s on the house!
He hit send, then regretted it. He should’ve just waited to see Steve in person. Before he could think too much, his phone buzzed.
-Hey Bucky! Don’t worry, not weird at all. And no need to apologize, you were sick, you needed to get to Becca. Hope you two are feeling better!
-Well, I just slept for 33 hours straight, so yeah I definitely feel better
-lol I wish I could sleep that long. It’s been maybe 2 months since I last slept for more than six hours.
-Oof, I know the feeling. When Becca was born, I didn’t get a solid night’s sleep until she was four 😴
-I’m like the opposite of a bear- I work all winter and hibernate in the summer
-😆 honestly same
-Peggy’s glaring at me for texting at the table, gtg sry!!
-NP, see ya
Bucky set his phone down and grinned.
By Wednesday, he was back to work and Becca was back in school.
“I’m cutting you off, Monty.”
“Dammit, Barnes, you can’t do that!”
“Monty, your hands are shaking.”
“My hands always shake, boy! I am a paying customer!”
“Alright, fine, fine.” Bucky made Monty another coffee, but he used decaf. Thank God Monty didn’t notice.
Wanda and Pietro came in for their shift and Becca’s bus dropped her off half an hour later.
“Afternoon, Miss Becca!” The Commandos cried.
Becca giggled. “Hi Uncle Gabe, Uncle Monty, Uncle Tim!”
Becca had insisted on using her ma’s names for them. She set her bag down at her normal spot, where the counter meets the wall, and pulled out her homework.
“How was school, angel?” Nat put a hot chocolate in front of her.
“Good. Today’s Kate and Daniel’s birthday and their dad came in and we had cupcakes. They’re having a birthday party tomorrow, Bucky, can I go?”
“Were you invited?”
“Yes. They invited me and Teddy and Billy and America.”
“I’ll drive,” Clint offered, setting down a plate of cookies for her.
“Thank you, Clint!”
“You’re welcome, squirt.”
Dum Dum came up behind her. “Miss Becca, do you know what a poor old man has to do to get some coffee around here?”
“Help me with my homework?” Becca said, smiling brightly.
This was their routine. The Commandos helped Becca with homework like they did Bucky’s ma.
“Sure, why not. Whatcha got today?”
“I gotta write a story for National Vietnam Veterinarian’s day.”
“You mean veteran?” Clint asked.
“You’re in luck then, missy. I happen to be a Vietnam veterinarian.” Dum Dum winked. “So are the others. Come on over and I think we can help you out a bit.”
Becca skipped over and listened to their stories. Bucky just hoped they weren’t too graphic.
Chapter 10: Celebrations
One afternoon in mid-April, Bucky was serving coffee to Maria and Sam when the door burst open. Wanda and Pietro came sprinting in.
“They’re here!” Wanda exclaimed breathlessly.
“The letters. Our letters!” Pietro said.
He and Wanda each waved an envelope in the air.
“Vermont?” Clint asked excitedly.
The twins nodded. They had each applied for a few colleges, but they both really wanted to go to SHIELD Academy, up in Vermont.
“Well?” Nat prodded. “Did you get in?”
“We haven’t opened them! Wanted to wait to tell you,” Pietro explained.
“Then what are you waiting for? Open them!” Bucky said eagerly.
The two of them looked at each other, then tore into the envelopes. Their eyes scanned the words quickly.
“I got in,” Wanda breathed. “Oh my god! I got in!”
Pietro was staring blankly at his paper.
“Kid?” Clint said gently.
Bucky waited anxiously- what would they do if he hadn’t gotten in?
“I got a full ride scholarship for track,” Pietro whispered.
Wanda shrieked and threw herself at him. The coffee shop erupted into cheers. Bucky, Clint, and Natasha grabbed the two of them in an group hug.
“You deserve it,” Clint said.
“I am so proud of you two,” Natasha declared.
“You worked so hard for this.” Bucky squeezed them closer.
When they pulled back, the twins were wiping at their eyes, grinning.
“We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you,” Pietro said lightly.
“Alright, we’re closing early. Call your friends, we’re having a party,” Natasha announced.
Wanda gasped. “They must’ve gotten their letters, too. Come on, we have to call them!”
She dragged Pietro to the back. They closed the coffee shop at three and went home.
All but two of their friends were in the same foster family, and the parents were both SHIELD alumni. Bucky had only met them a few times, but they seemed nice enough. He had met their other friends once, but never either of their parents.
“They’re here!” Becca called from her post at the window.
Bucky looked outside and saw a van pulling into the driveway. Four teenagers got out and ran for the house. Wanda and Pietro ran out the front door and met the halfway, and they all started yelling.
Another car pulled up, closely followed by another. A boy got out of the first one, and a girl out of the second. They joined the yelling mass.
Bucky laughed and went to greet the parents.
“Thanks for having them over, Bucky,” Phil Coulson said.
“Of course. College is a big deal. I’m assuming they all got in?”
Melinda May rolled her eyes. “It seems like it, doesn’t it?”
Three people came up to them.
“Hi, I’m Peter’s aunt, May Parker.” The first woman smiled warmly.
“It’s nice to meet you, I’m Bucky Barnes. This is Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton.”
Bucky turned to the other two. “I’m glad everyone could make it. The twins are so excited.”
“So is Shuri,” the man said kindly. He had an accent that Bucky couldn’t place. “I am T’Challa, Shuri’s brother.”
“I am Okoye, their head of security,” the woman next to him said.
Bucky raised an eyebrow as T’Challa sighed.
“Okoye, we’ve talked about this. Does he really look like he’s going to kill me?”
Okoye looked Bucky up and down.
Bucky stumbled as someone crashed into his legs.
He lifted her on his shoulders and she giggled.
“This is my little sister, Becca. Becca, this is Mr. Coulson, Ms. May, Ms. Parker, Ms. Okoye, and Mr. T’Challa.“
Becca waved shyly.
“Why don’t you come in?” Bucky offered, seeing the kids disappear into the house.
“Let me do a sweep first.”
T’Challa rolled his eyes. “Okoye, my sister is already in the house.”
T’Challa closed his eyes. “I don’t understand why Shuri is allowed to go by herself.”
“Because the princess can take care of herself. You, on the other hand…”
“Sorry, princess? Your Highness?” Clint cut in.
“Shuri didn’t tell you?” T’Challa ran a hand down his face.
Natasha shook her head, frowning.
“Our father is the king of Wakanda. It’s a small country in Africa.”
“I’ve heard of that place. Oh my god, that means that Shuri is the genius princess, doesn’t it?” Bucky asked excitedly.
“I suppose so. It’s hard to think of your little sibling as a genius, though.” T’Challa laughed.
After they had become accustomed to the fact that there was royalty in their midst, they found the teenagers surrounding a computer.
“Hey, pizza’s here!” Bucky called.
They were in the kitchen like rockets.
“So, what’s the plan?” T’Challa asked as they settled at the table.
“Well, SHIELD Academy has a few different dorms, and we’re going to get there a week early so we can get our pick. We want to go into the Carol Danvers building, because they have the nicest suites, and they have this policy that if two of the four residents have full ride scholarships, all four can live there for free. Both Simmons and Shuri got academic scholarships, so we don’t have to pay. Each suite has two rooms, so Jemma and Daisy will be roomates, and Shuri and I will room together.” Wanda said in one breath.
“The building we want to get into, the Abraham Erskine, is exactly the same. And since all four of us got some sort of scholarship, we don’t have to pay either. Lincoln and I will room together, and Peter and Pietro will be together,” Fitz explained, slightly calmer than Wanda had.
“That’s great, guys. So, I know Peter’s going for computer science and chemistry, what’s everyone else going in for?” May asked curiously.
“Biology and chemistry,” Jemma answered.
“Mechanical engineering,” Fitz said.
“Engineering and business.” Shuri said through a mouthful of pizza.
“Environmental and political sciences, and I’m minoring in computer science.” Daisy shrugged.
“I’m going for psychology and child care management,” Wanda said.
“Electrical engineering,” Lincoln added.
“Athletic training and business.” Pietro stuffed a slice of pizza in his mouth.
“I remember our SHIELD days, Phil,” Melinda May said casually.
“Yeah. You knocked me out at least twice a semester.”
Melinda snorted. “You shouldn’t have tried to spar with the girl who was training to be an agent.”
“I was training to be an agent too!”
“Not again, guys.” Daisy rolled her eyes.
Before Bucky knew it, the twins had graduated and he was picking Becca up from her last day of third grade. It was a half-day, so when he walked into the classroom at eleven-thirty, kids were yelling and laughing and parents taking pictures. It also happened to be Becca’s eighth birthday.
“Hey, Bucky.” Bucky turned to see Teddy’s father, holding Teddy’s little sister.
“Hey, Ed. This is crazy.”
Ed laughed. “You should see the kindergarteners. I had to pick up this one about thirty minutes ago. It took me fifteen just to get out of there.”
“Actually, I’m glad I ran into you. I’m having a start-of-summer/birthday party for Becca this afternoon and she wants all her friends to come.”
“Sure! And hey, Teddy can swim now, so that’s one less worry.”
Bucky laughed. “Great. And of course, Alice is welcome too. We have floaties if she needs them.”
“Thanks, Bucky. What time?”
They talked for awhile longer, joined by the rest of Becca’s friends’ parents. They all agreed to the barbeque, and then Bucky spotted Steve talking to Peggy. He walked over.
“Happy summer,” he greeted.
“Thank goodness,” Peggy said. “Don’t get me wrong, I love the kids, but-”
“Sleep,” Steve cut in. “I miss sleep.”
“So listen, I’m having a start-of-summer slash birthday party for Becca slash graduation party for the twins this afternoon, and I was hoping you two would come? You’ve just been such a big influence on Becca this year.”
“That sounds lovely,” Peggy declared. “I’ll be there. But would you mind if I brought my wife?”
“Of course, anyone’s welcome.” There was an obnoxious laugh from across the room, and a child whining, easily recognized as Kevin and his mother. Bucky winced along with Peggy and Steve.
“Okay, maybe not everyone.”
“I’m in. Can I bring anything?”
“Nah, I think we’re okay. Just come around 3?”
“Sounds good. See you then!”
Bucky said goodbye and collected Becca.
Nat and Clint closed Howlies at two forty-five. They set up the backyard with a few tents for shade, strung some fairy lights on the porch, got the pool cover off, and set up some games for the kids.
Bucky put snacks out just in time, because people started coming fifteen minutes early. Dum Dum, Monty, and Gabe were the first there, followed by the twins’ friends, Phil and Melinda, May Parker, and T’Challa and Okoye. Next came Becca’s friends, one by one with their parents.
“This is mainly a kids party, Monty. I am not giving you alcohol. Besides, I don’t keep any in my house.”
Monty rolled his eyes. “Come on, boy, you don’t have anything?”
“No, Monty. Be good, it’s Becca’s birthday.”
“Dammit. How is it possible that you don’t even have beer?”
“Because no one in my household drinks.”
“Now Monty, you know you’re not supposed to drink with your new medication.”
Bucky turned. “Peggy, hi!”
“Hey Bucky. Hello, Monty.”
“Hi there, Miss Carter. Boys! Look who’s here!” Monty called to Dum Dum and Gabe, who were talking with Leo Fitz on the other side of the yard.
Peggy rolled her eyes affectionately.
“Bucky, this is my wife...oh, where’d she go? Angie!”
A woman appeared at Peggy’s side and Bucky smiled, embarrassed.
“I don’t remember much about our first meeting, but it’s nice to meet you when I’m not delirious,” he said as he extended a hand.
Angie Martinelli laughed as she shook it.
“It’s nice to meet you when I’m not in doctor-mode.”
“Your wife has been an amazing help with my sister this year.”
“Yeah, she’s not bad,” Angie smirked. “She and Steve are the best at that school.”
“Angie,” Steve protested, appearing out of nowhere. “Stop it!”
“Hey, Bucky. Your house is beautiful.”
Steve opened his mouth to say more, but Dum Dum and Gabe got there before he could.
“You just saw us last week-oof!” Gabe lifted her off of her feet while Dum Dum did the same to Angie.
“So, I guess you know each other?”
Bucky raised an eyebrow.
Peggy laughed. “I was an agent of SHIELD during Vietnam, and I worked with the Commandos.”
“So you knew my grandad?”
Peggy tilted her head, then her eyes widened. “My word, you look just like he did! You’re Chester’s grandson, aren’t you?”
“He was a great man. And your grandmother was the sweetest woman. Oh! And that makes Winifred your mother!”
Bucky grinned. “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
“She was a darling girl. I was devastated to hear about her passing. I’m terribly sorry.”
“Yeah, we miss her. But hey, I’ve got these clowns to keep me company.” He jerked a thumb towards his uncles.
“Who’re you calling a clown, boy?” Dum Dum asked, attempting to stick a spoon to his nose.
They all talked for awhile before Becca came running over and Bucky lifted her up.
“Hey, cupcake. What’s up?”
“Can we play with the water guns?”
“Hmmm...well, that means I have to dig them out, and fill them up, and you’d have to put a bathing suit on…”
“Bucky!” Becca squirmed in his arms.
“We did that before, remember?”
“We did? Are you sure?” Bucky scratched his head, pretending to think.
Becca nodded seriously, and then she lifted the hand that had been hidden behind her back and shot him square in the face.
“See? I told you!” She giggled.
“Becca!” He spluttered. “That’s it!” He looked at the others. “Excuse me,” he said to them, who were watching in amusement.
He took off at a sprint towards the pool. Becca shrieked and twisted in his arms, but he wouldn’t let go.
Bucky held her tighter, and when he was sure the deep end was clear of children, he jumped into the pool with her in his arms.
When she kicked at him, he immediately released her. When he reached the surface, she was already out of the pool and there were kids surrounding him on all sides, each armed with water guns. He put his hands up, treading water.
“You kids don’t know what you’re getting into,” he warned.
Teddy squirted him.
“Fine. This means war. Clint, take out your hearing aids!”
Bucky got out of the pool, ignoring the kids yelling at him. While Clint diverted their attention, he and a few others sprinted to the shed, where he had hidden a large plastic bin and some supplies of his own. He began handing them out.
“Alright, Jemma, you, Peter, and Daisy take these,” he handed them two water guns. “Lincoln, Pietro, and Fitz, you get the water squirters, Angie, Shuri, Okoye, you split the water balloons. Steve, you get the water blaster. Clint will get the hose. If Nat’s on their side, they're planning strategy, which means we go crazy. Understand?”
“Got it. Shuri, you take right, I got left, okay?” Angie grinned.
“Let’s go!” Daisy cried.
They burst out of the shed. Bucky waited until he was sure everyone was occupied, then he ran to the house.
He crawled out of his window on the roof to where he had set up his own station. He had known that something would happen sooner or later, and he planned for it. The super soaker was set up just behind where the tree covered anyone’s view from the ground, but he had a perfect view and a clear shot.
He saw Wanda creeping up on Steve, and he sent a blast of water at her. She yelled and Steve turned, then looked up at where the water came from, saluting. Bucky grinned.
He saw Clint spraying the hose at all of the kids, and he saw more people joining in. Soon, everyone was involved.
Angie launched a volley of balloons at Peggy, who retaliated by dumping a bucket of water over her head. Bucky was just thinking that he hadn’t seen Nat when he found her, locked in a standoff with Melinda May. He saw Phil Coulson back to back with Dum Dum, with Monty and Gabe on either side.
Shuri was pelting T’Challa with water balloons on one side, and Okoye on the other.
America got too close to the roof, and Bucky silently slid down a bit. When he reached the edge, he dumped a whole bucket of water over her head. By the time she shrieked, Bucky was on the other side, ducking so no one could see him. He started shooting the super soaker whenever someone from the other team was in range.
At one point, he hit Becca when she was too close, and knocked her flat on her butt. Daniel ran over to help her, but Bucky shot him, and he landed on the ground too. He didn’t come down until he was out of water, at which point he took the hose from Clint.
“You still love me, right?” He heard Nat ask Clint, and he turned to see him on the ground with her hovering over him, water balloon raised in one hand.
“Depends on if you do that,” Clint said.
Nat hesitated, then shrugged and brought the balloon down on his face.
“Bucky, cover me!” Steve yelled, breaking his attention away from his friends.
He sprayed the hose at anyone in Steve’s path, and he ran over, grabbed both Peggy and Angie, then managed to drag them to the pool and dump them in. Everyone stopped and stared.
“I was on your team, Steven!” Angie yelled.
“So?” Steve grinned.
Suddenly, Wanda shrieked and Bucky turned to find Clint carrying her to the pool, dropping her in. Soon, nearly everyone was either jumping in themselves or being pushed in. Bucky found himself at the edge of the pool next to Steve, with Becca and her friends surrounding them.
“Give up?” Kate taunted.
“Never!” They said together.
They were immediately hit by six blasts of water, and they looked at each other.
Simultaneously, they grabbed their chests and fell backwards, landing in the pool with a splash. They surfaced to cheers and laughter. After fifteen minutes more of playing in the water, Bucky got out to start the grill.
“Food’s ready!” He called, about half an hour later as he put the last plate down on the buffet.
He barely got out of he way as a stampede of children reached the table.
“James. Eat.” Nat handed Bucky a plate and she and Clint sat next to him.
Steve came over with Peggy and Angie.
“So. How long do you think before FitzSimmons are together?” Peggy asked.
“Soon, I hope. They’ve been like this for years,” Phil Coulson sat down with Melinda May.
“Honestly, it’s going to take some sort of near-death experience. Fitz is too shy,” Melinda said.
“Daisy and Lincoln are dating, though, right?” Angie asked.
Coulson sighed. “Not yet. Probably by the end of their freshman year. She just broke up with that piece of crap.”
Nat raised an eyebrow. “You didn’t approve?”
“We used to, but he was getting into some shady stuff.”
“Drugs?” Steve questioned.
May parker sat down with T’Challa and Okoye at that moment.
“Not sure. He used to be a great kid, but this past year he started hanging out with a bad crowd. His foster family isn’t great, and it seems like he’s taking after them. He’s going to Hydra University.”
“Sounds like George,” Dum Dum said, sitting heavily with Monty.
“George?” May asked.
“My father,” Bucky supplied. “Apparently he was a nice kid when he was dating my mom, but when I was, let’s see…fourteen, he lost his job and started drinking.”
“He did more than drink, son.”
“I know, Monty.” Bucky looked around at the questioning faces. “He used me as a punching bag,” he supplied, rubbing his shoulder. “But I got custody of Becs, and we’re happy now.”
“That’s great, Bucky.”
Bucky went to answer, but he saw the kids sitting in a circle, whispering.
“Hey, what are you kids plotting?”
They jumped, and Becca ran over. “Can they sleep over, Bucky? Pleeeeease?”
“If that’s okay with their parents, then it’s fine with me.”
“Thank you!” Becca kissed his cheek quickly and ran off.
Bucky chuckled and turned back to the people around him.
“Your kids are welcome to stay too, of course.”
“Are you sure? That’s a lot of kids, Bucky.”
Bucky shrugged. “They’re good kids. I’m not worried. They can borrow clothes from Wanda and Pietro.”
“Then thank you,” May said.
“They’re welcome anytime.”
“You’re too nice for your own good, James.”
“Shut up, Nat.”
“We’ll stay over too, don’t worry,” she winked at Melinda.
“I didn’t invite you, Natalia,” Bucky mock-protested.
“You seem to be getting close to Steve,” she commented slyly in Russian.
Bucky rolled his eyes. “Friends, Natalia. We’re friends.”
“You sure? Because as of today, he’s not Becca’s teacher.”
“Natalia. It was just a crush, but now I’m over it. He’s my friend.”
“Whatever you say, James,” she sighed in English. “Men are idiots,” she commented.
“Damn straight,” replayed Angie, Peggy, and May all at once.
“What’d we do?!” Cried Steve, Clint, Gabe, Coulson, and Monty.
Bucky rolled his eyes.
After everyone finished, they did presents, and Clint started a fire and they sang Happy Birthday to Becca over s’mores. Then they let the kids play with sparklers.
The adults began to leave around nine-thirty, and Peggy, Angie, and Steve were the last to leave. Bucky and Clint walked them out.
“Oh my god,” Bucky said. “Is that your bike?”
“That’s so cool. Damn, I always wanted a motorcycle.”
“Yeah, they're so much easier than a car. But my ma hates it.”
“I can see that,” Bucky grins.
“Thanks for having us over,” Angie said.
“Yeah, this was fun,” Steve added.
“Your house is lovely.”
“Thank you. All of you are welcome anytime.”
Bucky and Clint waved them off, then headed inside to corral the nine extra people in the house.
Chapter 11: Just Bro Bonding Time, Of Course
“James, get ready, we’re leaving in ten minutes!”
Bucky looked up from the TV. “Where are we going? It’s eight o’clock, I have to put Becca to bed.”
Nat smirked. “I didn’t tell you? Maria Hill invited us out with friends. Hurry up, now you have nine minutes.”
“Wha-I can’t go out on such short notice! When was this planned?”
“Relax, Bucky. Pietro’s watching Becca. Seven minutes, and you need to fix your hair, too.”
“Oh my god, Natasha,” Bucky sighed in exasperation, but he stood.
He turned to Becca, who was trying not to giggle.
“Kiddo, you’ll tell me the truth. How long has this been planned?”
Becca hesitated. “Tasha said it was a secret.”
“Fine, it’s been planned since last week. Hurry up, you have five minutes.”
They pulled up to the bar fifteen minutes later.
“Before we go in, since I was tricked into this, I have some rules.”
“James, live a little.”
Bucky ignored her. “I won’t drink, I’ll be the designated driver, I am not here to meet anyone for a date,” he shook his head when Clint opened his mouth. “Or a one-night stand.”
“Fine, fine. Come on, being late is rude.”
Somehow, Natasha managed to find Maria in the crowd, and she dragged Clint and Bucky behind her as she made her way over.
“Hey, guys! Glad you could make it!” Maria called.
She was sitting in a large corner booth with a bunch of people, only four of whom Bucky recognized: Sam, who had evidently started dating Maria, Sharon, who was her partner in the police force, T’Challa, and Okoye. The other six were new faces.
“Guys, this is Natasha Romanoff, Clint Barton, and Bucky Barnes,” Maria said as they sat down.
“What’s up, I’m Tony Stark,”
“I’m Pepper Potts.”
“HELLO, I’M THOR. IT’S NICE TO MEET YOU!” A large blonde man boomed.
“Sorry, he’s three glasses in. I’m Jane Foster.”
“ ‘Sup, I’m Darcy Lewis, Jane’s bestie.”
“James Rhodes, but please call me Rhodey.”
“It’s nice to meet all of you,” Natasha declared. “And it’s nice to see you two again,” she said to T’Challa and Okoye.
“I feel like I’ve heard your name before, Bucky,” Tony said.
Bucky shrugged. “I own Howlies, the coffee shop in town.”
Tony’s eyes widened, and a smirk crossed his face. It was quickly wiped off as the table shook and he winced.
“Ow, Pepper! Why’d you kick me?”
Pepper shrugged. “Sorry, accident.”
Tony squinted at her, then sighed. “Ah, right. Sorry, I’ll be good.”
What’d I do? Bucky signed to Clint, who was grinning.
You’ll figure it out eventually. Nat responded.
“We’re just missing St-”
“Sorry, I’m late, my car broke down and I had to walk to the shop to get my bike.”
Steve appeared at the table wearing a leather jacket, grease on one side of his face, and his hair looking like it had gone through a hurricane.
“I am so telling your ma you lost your helmet, Rogers,” Sam cackled.
“Don’t you dare, Wilson, I will kill you. Besides, I didn’t lose it, it cracked when my bike went into the tree last-Bucky?”
Steve cut himself off as he sat down across from Bucky.
“Hey, Steve,” Bucky answered, only slightly flustered.
Steve cleared his throat. “Natasha, Clint, hey! Didn’t know you guys were coming tonight.”
“I invited them. Hope that’s okay?” Maria grinned.
“Yeah, of course, sorry, didn’t mean to be rude.”
“Steve, you’ve got something on your face,” Darcy pointed out.
“Ah, crap. I was changing my oil earlier.”
“Here, let me-”
“Stay away from me, Tony, last time I let you help me I didn’t have eyebrows for a month!”
“It only took him three years to figure this out,” Sam mock-whispered to Bucky.
“Shut up, Samuel.” Steve scrubbed the grease off.
“Now that we’re all here, what does everyone want to drink?”
“ANOTHER!” Thor yelled, slamming his glass on the table.
Jane rolled her eyes.
Maria and Sharon both ordered a non-alcoholic drink.
“We have early shift tomorrow. No hangovers allowed,” Sharon explained.
When it was Bucky’s turn, he shrugged. “I’ll have a coke, I’m DD tonight.”
“You’re DD every time we go out,” Clint whined.
“Because I don’t drink, Barton. Do your hearing aids need new batteries? I swear I’ve said that every time someone offers me a drink.”
“Yeah, I know. Just kidding, Bucky. I’ll have a beer, thanks.”
“And I’m sure the boy scout’s gonna have his usual?” Tony asked Steve.
Steve rolled his eyes. “Not a boy scout, I just don’t like alcohol. Leave me be, Stark.”
“Whatever, the DD’s get the refills. I can drink as much as I want, Happy’s driving tonight.”
“Happy drives you every day, Tony,” Pepper points out.
“Yeah yeah, whatever. First round’s on me!” He declared, standing up and heading over to the bar to place the orders. Rhodey rolled his eyes and went to help him.
“Drinks are here, dummies!” Tony announced as they came back.
“Tony, don’t be rude!” Pepper admonished.
“Nah, he’s fine. Sounds like my uncle,” Bucky scoffed.
“Dum Dum?” Steve asked.
“Who you calling Dum Dum, dum dum?”
Steve, Nat, Clint, and Bucky burst out laughing.
“Dum Dum Dugan, Stark,” Natasha said.
“Wait, you’re uncle is Timothy Dugan?” Tony said incredulously.
“Well, not exactly. My Grandad was Chester Alston.”
“Oh my god. I can’t believe you know the Howling Commandos.”
Bucky grinned. “Yeah, they’re pretty cool.”
Bucky found out a lot about everyone.
Sam worked at the VA. Maria and Sharon were police officers, which he knew already, but he found out that they worked with Phil Coulson and Melinda May. Tony owned Stark Industries, which made sense. Pepper was his girlfriend and the CEO of his company. Rhodey used to be in the military, but now he works for the government. Jane and Darcy were scientists, Thor was Jane’s boyfriend, and he worked with them, studying odd weather patterns.
Two hours and five rounds later, they sent Steve and Bucky up to get shots.
“How’s Becca doing?” Steve asked, leaning against the counter while they waited.
“She’s great.” Bucky smiled. “But lately she likes to hide outside, and then attack people with water guns. I’m going to have to start wearing a raincoat whenever it’s my turn to find her.”
“Oh god,” Steve laughed. “That must be interesting.”
“You’re telling me, pal,” Bucky rolled his eyes. “But honestly, I don’t care. It’s good for her to be a kid.”
“I’m sure. She’s such a sweet-” Steve stopped talking, looking over Bucky’s shoulder with a frown. “Miss,” he called out suddenly.
Bucky turned to see an uncomfortable-looking woman look at Steve in confusion.
“Miss, don’t drink that.”
“I-what?” The man next to her rubbed her arm, and she visibly shrank away.
“He just slipped something in your drink,” Steve explained.
The woman paled, looking at the drink she had just picked up.
“I did not!” The man protested.
“I ain’t talking to you, pal,” Steve said calmly. “But I saw you do it.”
“She’s clearly not interested. Why don’t you leave her alone?” Bucky inserted.
“Why don’t you two mind your own damn business?” The man growled angrily. He was clearly drunk.
“You okay?” Bucky asked the woman.
“I will be, once he gets away from me.”
Steve looked at the man. “You heard her.”
The man sneered at them, but he backed away from the woman. She immediately stood and walked over to Steve and Bucky.
“Thank you,” she said.
“Of course. You sure you’re okay?” Steve asked.
“Yes. He was a creep, but I didn’t think he’d actually put something in my drink.”
“People can be horrible,” Steve said.
“I think I should head home now, but thank you again.”
“You okay going alone?” Bucky asked.
She nodded. “Yeah, I don’t live far. Thanks again.”
She waved and walked away.
Bucky picked up their tray of drinks and turned towards the table, only to walk into a fist. He stumbled backwards, dropping the tray with an oof. People started yelling.
“You shoulda minded your own business!” The man shouted.
Before Bucky could get his bearings, he was hit again, and this time the punch knocked him off of his feet.
He automatically covered his face. Years of honed instincts kicked in and he refused to cry out as a foot connected with his midsection
He looked up as the assault stopped suddenly, seeing Steve standing in front of him, throwing his own punches. Bucky scrambled off of the floor.
“Take it outside!” The bartender yelled.
The man swung at Steve again, and Bucky caught his fist, then punched him square in the nose.
The man cried out, and then Steve sent him crashing to the ground.
“ENOUGH! WE’RE POLICE! What is going on-oh for god’s sake Steven, it’s our night off!” Sharon cried as their friends cut through the crowd.
“He started it!” Steve growled while he pinned the man’s right arm, and Bucky pinned his left.
“I don’t give a damn who started it, finish it before I have to arrest you again,” Maria sighed.
“Bucky, let him go!” Sharon called.
Bucky looked at Steve, and they grudgingly released the man.
Sharon and Maria immediately got between them.
“What happened?” Sharon asked.
“Steve saw him put something in this woman’s drink and he called him out, the guy got pissed, then swung at me when we were heading back with the drinks.”
Sharon glared at the man.
“If you’re not gone in the next ten seconds, you’re spending the night in jail.” She and Maria pulled badges out of their jackets.
The man scrambled away.
“All of you, out!” The bartender glared at them.
The four sober people helped load the other ten into cars, then headed off.
Bucky started driving when he saw Steve kick his motorcycle. He rolled down the window and pulled over.
Steve ran a hand through his hair and sighed.
“My bike won’t start because the garage did a crappy job fixing it. I’ll have to call them to pick it up.”
“It’s getting pretty late. Do you want to call in the morning? I can drive you home now and bring you back tomorrow,” Bucky offered.
“I don’t know, my place is pretty far out of your way.”
Bucky shrugged. “You can crash at my place if you want.”
Steve hesitated. “I don’t know. I don’t want to put you out.”
“It’s not a big deal. Least I can do after you saved my ass in there.”
“Of course. You just have to ignore the lightweights in the back.” Bucky pointed to Clint and Natasha, who were out cold.
Steve got into the car.
“Don’t worry about it.”
They chatted lightly as Bucky drove, stopping only at Nat and Clint’s, where Steve helped Bucky lug them inside.
When they got to Bucky’s, they found Pietro stretched out on the living room couch, watching TV, and Wanda curled up, asleep, in the armchair.
“Dude, you couldn’t let her sleep on the couch?” Bucky asked, startling Pietro.
“Oh, hey, you’re back. Holy shit, what happened to your face?”
Bucky looked in the hall mirror and winced. His right eye was nearly swollen shut, his face was bruised, and he had a split lip.
“First of all, language, and second of all, there was an incident at the bar.”
“You got into a fight? Did you win?”
Bucky rolled his eyes. “Well, it wasn’t a fair fight.”
“What do you mean?”
“He means the guy was drunk off his ass and it was two on one,” Steve spoke up.
Pietro craned his neck.
“Hey, man. My motorcycle broke down so Bucky’s letting me crash here, I hope that’s okay?”
“Yeah, of course. You want my room?”
Steve’s eyes widened. “No thank you, I’ll sleep on the couch.”
“You sure? I don’t mind.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Steve grinned.
“Your whole family is so polite, oh my god.”
Bucky rolled his eyes. “You should be flattered. He’s usually a little shit.”
Pietro gasped dramatically. “How dare you! I am offended, I have a wonderful personality!”
Bucky laughed. “Shut up, you’re waking your sister.”
Wanda was stirring, and she rolled over in the chair. At least, she tried to. The chair was too small and she ended up falling onto the floor. She sat straight up, eyes wide.
“What the hell?” She rubbed her eyes while Bucky and Pietro laughed.
Even Steve couldn’t hide his smile.
“I told you not to let me fall asleep, Pietro.”
“You’ve been up since yesterday, dummy.”
“Wanda! Why?” Bucky asked.
Wanda blinked. “I’ve been planning for our dorm with Jemma, Daisy, and Shuri. What the hell happened to your face?”
“He was in a fight!”
“Oh my god! Did you win?”
“He and Steve ganged up on a drunk guy.”
“Okay, that is not what happened,” Steve interjected.
“Steve?” Wanda asked.
“He’s crashing here tonight, since his motorcycle broke down,” Pietro supplied.
“We can speak for ourselves, you know,” Bucky said.
Pietro rolled his eyes. “You were taking too long.”
“Alright, get to bed, you two. We have the water park tomorrow.”
“Are Natasha and Clint going to be ready for that?”
“Nat, possibly. Clint, no. But that’s not my fault. Be nice to him,” he added, almost as an afterthought.
“I’m always nice to him,” Pietro said innocently.
Bucky raised an eyebrow.
“Alright, fine, I’ll be good. You sure you don’t want my room, Steve?”
“I’m sure. But thanks.”
“Good night, then. Want me to make breakfast tomorrow, Bucky?”
“Sure, kid. Thanks.”
Wanda kissed Bucky’s cheek as she passed. “Night, Bucky. Night, Steve.”
Once they were in their rooms, Bucky and Steve sat on the couch.
“Do you want to go to sleep, or we can watch TV or something?” Bucky asked, not quite sure what to do.
“I’m still kind of hyped from that fight. TV?”
“Sure, you want popcorn?”
“That’d be great.”
Bucky saw his reflection again on his way back to the living room.
“God, I don’t miss getting one of these every week,” Bucky said conversationally, gesturing to his eye.
Steve frowned. “I’m sure.”
Bucky cringed. “Sorry, I didn’t think about how that would sound.”
“No, don’t be sorry. I just hate that you had to go through that.”
Bucky raised an eyebrow. “Didn’t you tell me that your dad beat you, too?”
Steve shrugged. “Well, yeah, but Ma kicked him out two months after he started. Didn’t you deal with it your whole life?”
“Not exactly,” Bucky said. He hesitated. “Do you want to hear the story?”
“You don’t have to tell me, I don’t mean to pry.”
“I don’t mind talking about it. Most people think it’s a taboo subject, or something, so I really don’t talk about it much.”
“Then sure, go ahead.”
“Okay, well...when I was fourteen, my dad lost his job. He started drinking a lot, and he was a mean drunk. He always took it out on me, and I never told my ma because I thought she was dealing with enough. She had to work full time to support us, and she was always taking on odd jobs. I came out to her when I was fifteen, and my dad found out. He was pissed, to say the least.
“One day, Ma came home early. She walked in on him hitting me with his belt. I actually thought she was going to kill him. I had never seen her angry, and it was scary. She kicked him out, and she was two months pregnant. She had a really tough pregnancy with Becca, and two days after she was born, Ma died. We had to go live with our dad, which meant I had to raise Becca and protect her from him. He cut us off from our old family friends. I had Nat and Clint, but not often, since he controlled how often I was out of the house, and who I talked to. I was sixteen, and I was alone.” Bucky shrugged.
“The beatings got worse, and he drank more. He kicked me out when I was twenty-one, Becca found me two months later, and here we are.”
Bucky noticed he was rubbing at his shoulder and he dropped his hand.
“Jesus, Bucky. I can’t believe you’ve gone through all of that, and you’re still so…”
“You’re awesome, Bucky. You’re so kind, and loving. Everyone who knows you adores you.”
Bucky felt himself turning red.
He mentally slapped himself. Stevie? Really?
Steve either didn’t care or ignored the name.
“You can tell me to fuck off, but your shoulder. Did your dad do that?”
“Ah. Yeah. I was....I dunno, nineteen? Twenty? Becca was four, so yeah, I was twenty. Any way, one night he came home, so drunk he barely recognized me. He had a metal bat, and he went crazy. He swung at Becca, and I jumped in front just in time. He clipped my shoulder, and Becca ran away. He got pissed and kept hitting me in the same place. My shoulder was dislocated from my original fall, then broken from the repeated hits. It shattered in one place, and I couldn’t get to the hospital to get it fixed for six months. By that time, I had permanent nerve damage in parts, and I have arthritis in it now, so it aches if I overuse it.”
Steve was silent for a solid minute, just looking at Bucky.
“It’s going to hurt like hell tomorrow, then,” he said finally.
Bucky snorted. “Oh hell yeah. But thanks for listening, Steve. Other than Natasha and Clint, and the twins, you’re the only one I told about that.”
“Well, I’m glad you trust me enough to tell me.”
Bucky smiled. “Yeah, well, we’re friends, ain’t we?”
“I don’t get into fights with just anybody, you know.” Steve winked over-exaggeratingly.
“That reminds me. Maria said something tonight about arresting you? I wanna hear about this.”
Steve groaned. “I don’t like bullies,” he said.
“Yeah, I noticed.”
“I’ve gotten in a few fights in my life.”
“Okay, fine. A lot of fights.”
Bucky laughed and Steve grinned. After an hour of Steve telling Bucky how he met his friends, and Bucky telling Steve how he met his family, they went to bed.
Bucky woke up to a face inches from his own and he jumped back.
“Jeez, Becca. Don’t do that.”
“What time is it?”
“Seven-fifteen. What’s wrong with your face?”
Bucky groaned. “I got into a fight.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, kiddo. Someone was being mean to a woman last night, so Mr. Rogers and I helped her. The man just got angry.”
“Why is Mr. Rogers sleeping on our couch?”
Bucky sat up, stretching. “He needed a place to stay last night, so I let him sleep here.”
He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, then looked at Becca.
“You didn’t wake him, did you?”
Becca shook her head. “Nope. Pietro told me to close the door and be quiet.”
“He was right. Is he making breakfast?”
“Pancakes. And he made you coffee.”
“Did he tell you to wake me up?”
Becca giggled. “Maybe. But you gotta get up soon, we have to be at the waterpark by eleven or else the lines will be too long!”
Bucky groaned, standing. “Alright, I’m coming.”
“Morning, Bucky,” Pietro said when Becca dragged Bucky into the kitchen.
“Hey, kid. Smells good.”
“Thanks. Strawberries, blueberries, or chocolate chips?”
Bucky just looked at him. Pietro laughed.
“Chocolate chips it is, then.”
Just as Pietro gave Bucky his pancakes, Steve walked into the kitchen, hair sticking up all over the place.
“Morning, Steve. Nice hair.”
Steve half-heartedly glared at him. “Have you looked into the mirror this morning?”
Pietro snickered, and Becca giggled.
“I’ll give you that one. My face is worse than last night,” Bucky agreed.
“I meant your hair, but now that you mention it…”
“Easy there, I’m not the only one with a banged up face,”
Steve winced as he prodded his split lip, and the cut on his forehead. “Touche.”
“Do you want pancakes, Steve?” Pietro asked.
“Yes, please. Is there any coffee?”
“There’s always coffee in this house.”
“Wanda still sleeping?” Bucky asked.
“Yes. Can I wake her?” Becca said eagerly.
“Let’s let her sleep, princess. She didn’t go to bed until late.”
“That didn’t stop you from waking me up!” Bucky complained.
“Do we have to do this every Sunday?” Pietro rolled his eyes.
“No, because usually I’m the one cooking and waiting for you to wake up at ten.”
The other three laughed.
“Hi, Mr. Rogers.”
“Good morning, Becca. How’s your summer going?”
“It’s good! We’re going to the water park today!”
“I heard! That sounds like a lot of fun.”
“I’ve never been, but my friends have and they said it’s really cool.”
“I’ve never been to this water park, but I’ve been to others and it’s one of my favorite places to go in the summer.”
“What’s your favorite ride?”
“I like the log flume.”
“That’s what Bucky said, too!” Becca cried. “Daniel said his favorite ride is the dragon bowl one.”
“That sounds fun.”
Wanda woke up at nine, and five minutes later, the front door opened.
“They’re alive!” Bucky cried loudly as Natasha and Clint dragged themselves into the kitchen.
Clint must not have been wearing his hearing aids, because he didn’t react.
Natasha flipped him off.
“Little eyes, Natalia.”
“Sorry, Becca,” Nat grunted.
Clint walked straight over to the coffee machine, grabbed the coffee decanter, and didn’t bother using a mug. He just chugged it.
Steve looked at Bucky, who shrugged.
This is normal, he mouthed.
Natasha took Steve’s mug out of his hands and began to drink, then she stopped.
“You’re not James,” she said, tilting her head.
“Nope.” Steve grinned.
“Don’t worry about it. That’s my second cup anyway.”
“What are you doing here?” Nat shot a discreet look at Bucky, who rolled his eyes.
“Bucky let me crash here, since my bike broke down. You don’t remember me getting in the car?”
Nat shook her head, and then groaned. “How much did I have last night?”
“Six shots of tequila and five rounds of your usual drink.”
“Ugh. Why didn’t you stop me?”
“I tried. You just sent me up for more shots.”
“You got into a fight, right?”
“I did. I hope you’re up for the water park.” Bucky smirked.
Natasha started to answer, but then she looked at Becca. “Of course I am. We’re going to have fun today, right, girly?”
Clint turned, and jumped at the sight of Steve.
What’s he doing here? He signed.
“He slept here last night because he couldn’t get home,” Pietro said, dropping a pancake in front of Wanda.
“Speaking of, do you want to go get your bike?”
“That’d be great. I’ll see you guys. Maria told you that we go out twice a month, right?”
“I’m going to throw up,” Clint said, and he ran for the bathroom.
Steve and Bucky grinned.
“Bye, Becca,” Steve said.
“Bye, Mr. Rogers!”
Steve hesitated as he stood. “You can call me Steve if you want.”
Becca’s eye went comically wide. Bucky saw Pietro hide a laugh, and Natasha and Wanda both giggled.
Steve nodded. “Why not? I’m not your teacher anymore, I’m just your brother’s friend.”
Bucky smiled, and nodded at Becca when she looked at him for permission.
“Okay, thank you, Steve!”
“Did you hear that, James? He’s not her teacher anymore.”
Bucky kept a neutral face. “But he’s my friend. Not making a move on a friend, Nat. How many times must I tell you I don’t like him like that?”
“Until I believe it,” Natasha answered in English.
Bucky rolled his eyes.
Chapter 12: Allergies and Empty Nests
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Over the course of the summer, Bucky had all of their new friends over many times, including Peggy and Angie, of course. They all adored Becca. Hardly a week went by that Steve wasn’t hanging out with them. He was quickly becoming a fixed point in their lives.
BUCKY -Hey Nat wants me to invite u over for dinner tonight
STEVE -why doesn’t she text me lol
BUCKY -bc she’s being lazy
STEVE - I’ll be there
-is ‘there’ ur house or theirs?
BUCKY -theirs, 4:30
It was six o’clock, half an hour after they had finished eating, and everyone was sitting around the table, laughing.
“And since he wasn’t wearing his hearing aids, Clint couldn’t even hear us telling him to watch out for the squirrel.”
“Nat!” Clint whined. “Rabies shots are no fun!”
That made everyone laugh harder. And Bucky had been there.
Becca began coughing, again. It had started halfway through dinner, just her clearing her throat, but now she was wheezing and practically coughing up a lung.
“Are you feeling okay, Becca-Girl?” Bucky asked in concern when the coughs had subsided.
“My mouth is itchy,” Becca said, breathing heavily. “And my throat feels funny.”
She began coughing again, and a few sneezes between this time.
“Is she allergic to anything?” Steve asked immediately.
“She’s never been tested!” Bucky breathed, rubbing Becca’s back.
Looking at her, he felt stupid. Her face was bright red, splotchy hives starting to pop up. Her eyes were watery, and her nose was running.
“Sweetie, open your mouth for me,” Steve said gently.
Becca obliged, and Steve looked inside.
“Her throat is closing. Hospital, now.”
Everyone scrambled out of their seats.
Bucky scooped Becca into his arms and ran for the door.
“Keys! Go, we’ll meet you there.” Clint threw his car keys to Bucky, who missed because he didn’t want to jostle
Steve picked them up and gave them to Bucky, taking Becca. Bucky started the car while Steve got Becca into the car seat.
As soon as Steve was in the car, Bucky sped off.
“Where’s the hospital?” he asked Steve frantically.
“Take this left. Here!”
Bucky turned sharply. He heard Becca’s breathing become heavier.
“Easy, Becca-Girl. You’re going to be fine, I promise, just keep breathing.”
“It hurts, Bucky!”
“I know, kiddo, we’ll be there in a minute!”
More coughing erupted from the backseat.
Bucky followed Steve’s directions, going almost eighty miles per hour in the thirty mile speed zone, weaving between cars.
Just his luck, lights went off and sirens began to wail behind him.
“Cut across here,” Steve said, pointing at the median strip.
Bucky floored it, flying across the grass and into oncoming traffic. He turned sharply, thanking god that the car didn’t tip.
He couldn’t think through his panic. He saw the sign for the hospital and within moments he was screeching into the parking lot. The cop car came in behind him.
Becca’s breathing was becoming panicked and shallow.
Bucky nearly tore the car door open, ripping Becca out of her restraints, and he sprinted into the emergency room, Steve on his heels.
“Help!” he yelled. “Please, she can’t breathe!”
Becca’s face was becoming an odd purplish color.
“Her throat’s closing!” Steve added.
Nurses swarmed over. Angie Martinelli rushed out of one rooms, then froze.
“Oh my god, Becca!”
Becca was taken from Bucky’s arms, placed on a gurney, and wheeled behind closed doors. He heard the words anaphylactic and critical. Bucky tried to follow, but he was held back.
“No, that’s my sister, please!”
He felt a hand on his shoulder. “You need to talk to Angie, Buck. You can’t do anything now.”
Bucky took a deep breath. He turned to see Angie in her scrubs, looking worried. He also saw Sharon and Maria, in uniform, standing in the waiting room, looking shocked.
“We were just talking,” he choked out unsteadily. “I looked over and she was making this face, rubbing at her throat. She said it hurt, and her mouth was itchy, and she kept coughing. She was wheezing, too. Steve said her throat was closing.”
“Is she allergic to anything?”
Bucky shook his head. “She’s never been tested, but she’s never had a reaction.”
“Alright. What did you have for dinner?”
“Um.” Bucky realized he was shaking. “Barbeque shrimp, chicken, uh, rice. She’s had it all befo-” he cut himself off, slapping a hand to his head. “She’s never had shrimp. Oh my god, I’m so stupid, she’s-”
“Bucky, hey, this is not your fault,” Angie said firmly. “She doesn’t have any drug allergies, right?”
“Not that I know of. Jesus, I shoulda had her tested.”
Before Angie could scold him again, the doors slid open and Nat, Clint, Pietro, and Wanda burst in.
“Is she okay?” Natasha asked breathlessly.
“She was going into anaphylactic shock,” Angie stated. “I’m going to go see what I can do. Steve, call English. She’ll want to know.” She looked at Bucky. “We’re going to do everything we can, Bucky. I promise.”
Bucky nodded, then allowed himself to be sat in a chair in the waiting room.
“You were the ones chasing us?” Bucky asked Sharon and Maria as they sat down.
Sharon nodded. “Yeah, we didn’t know, obviously.”
Bucky shook his head. “You were doing your job. Are you still on duty?”
Maria held up a radio. “We’ll stay unless we get a call. Becca’s more important.”
Peggy came in fifteen minutes later. Twenty minutes after that, Dum Dum, Monty, and Gabe showed up, saying Peggy had called them.
Maria must have spread the word, because within the hour, the waiting room was completely filled by people there for Becca; Sam, Tony, Pepper, Rhodey, Thor, Jane, Darcy, Okoye, T’Challa, Shuri, Jemma, Fitz, Lincoln, Daisy, Phil Coulson, Melinda May, Peter, and May Parker.
Natasha had even told Becca’s friends’ parents, so America and one of her mothers, Teddy and his dad, Billy and his grandmother, and Kate and Daniel and their mother were all there.
It was two more hours of near-silent waiting. Bucky alternated pacing and sitting, bouncing his leg.
“Rebecca Barnes?” A doctor who wasn’t Angie came out.
Forty people stood. The doctor cleared his throat.
“Her brother,” he clarified.
“That’s me,” Bucky stepped forward.
“Would you like to talk in-”
“Just tell me what’s happening with my sister,” Bucky snapped.
The doctor nodded in understanding. “She’s stable,”
There was a sigh of relief from the whole room.
“She’s stable,” the doctor repeated. “For now. There is a chance that she could have another episode within the next twelve hours. We want to keep her for the next twenty-four hours for observation.”
“But she’s okay?” Bucky whispered.
“She’s okay,” the doctor said. “You should be able to see her within an hour.”
Bucky brought a shaking hand to his mouth. “Thank you,” he managed.
The doctor nodded and walked away. Cheers erupted throughout the waiting room. Bucky let out a choked sob of relief and nearly doubled over. He ended up stumbling into Steve, who hugged him.
“She’s okay, Bucky.” Steve was smiling so wide Bucky thought his face may crack.
Bucky looked around and saw everyone in pretty much the same state; hugging, laughing, and Bucky swore he saw a tear run down Monty’s face.
His phone rang and he excused himself.
“Hello?” He answered without looking at the caller ID.
“Is she okay?”
“Yes. Is Becca okay?” The worry in Sarah’s voice was palpable.
“Thank god. My phone was off and I only just got Natasha’s text.”
“Natasha...nevermind. Thank you for calling, it means a lot.”
“Of course I called. I was so scared.”
“Yeah, tell me about it,” Bucky sighed. He rubbed his face. “You know, so many people showed up when they heard. I mean, I know everyone loves her, but I just wasn’t expecting…”
“People care, Bucky. She’s the sweetest little girl.”
“I know. Oh, the doctor’s back, I need to-”
“Go ahead. Give Becca my love.”
“Of course. Thanks, Sarah.”
He walked back to the waiting room and looked at the doctor.
“You can see her now,” he said.
Many people started towards the door.
“Ah, immediate family only,” the doctor said.
Four people continued forward. The doctor raised an eyebrow.
“They’re immediate family,” Bucky insisted.
“Let them in, Lenny, the poor girl wants her family.” Angie appeared behind the other doctor.
The doctor-Lenny-sighed and let them through.
“Right in here,” Angie gestured to a door.
“Thank you,” Clint said, and they walked in.
Becca looked so small in the bed, scared and tired.
Her eyes opened. “Bucky!” Becca’s voice was raspy.
“How’re you feeling?” He sat next to her on the bed.
“My chest hurts. And my throat.”
“I’m sure. We’ll stay away from shrimp from now on, huh.”
After a few minutes of them talking, Wanda’s phone rang.
“It’s Daisy, facetiming,” she said, answering the call.
She grinned, then gave the phone to Becca. “It’s for you, pumpkin.”
Bucky looked and saw everyone in the waiting room grouped together, waving. Daisy’s face was up close, and it looked like she was standing on one of the chairs.
Becca’s mouth fell open. “Why’s everyone here?”
“We’re here for you, darling,” Peggy called.
“All of them?” Becca whispered.
“All of us,” Sam answered.
Becca smiled sweetly.
“Feel better, Becca!” They all chorused.
“Thank you!” She giggled, but it turned into coughing.
The phone was passed around so that everyone could wish her well personally, and then she fell asleep again.
Clint and Nat fell asleep on the small cot in the room, Wanda was dozing in one chair, and Pietro in the other. Bucky stayed up, drinking the crappy coffee from the nurse’s station. The nurses finally kicked him out around two in the morning, saying his pacing was going to wake everyone up.
He walked down to the gift shop, which was closed, and then back to the waiting area. He stopped short at the sight of Steve out cold in one of the chairs. He walked over and gently shook his shoulder. Steve snapped awake, startled.
“Bucky, hey. How’s Becca?” Steve stretched, yawning.
“Still sleeping, which Angie says is good. Why are you still-” he stopped, smacking his forehead. “Shit, you don’t have any way to get home. I am so sorry.”
“Don’t apologize, you were preoccupied. Besides, I could’ve gotten a ride with a few people. I wanted to make sure Becca’s okay.”
Bucky sighed. “Thank you, Steve.”
Something clattered behind them, and Bucky jumped about six inches into the air. He put a hand over his pounding heart, breathing hard.
“Sorry. My nerves are shot.”
“Buck. Stop apologizing.”
Bucky nodded, trying to slow his rapid breathing. His chest started to hurt, heart pounding harder. He gasped, suddenly feeling dizzy.
“Bucky?” Steve reached for his arm.
“I need to sit down,” Bucky managed.
His eyesight was beginning to blur, and he started hyperventilating.
“Nurse!” Steve yelled, helping Bucky into a chair.
Bucky clutched at his chest as a nurse rushed over. Realization hit him; he was having a heart attack.
“My chest...I can’t breathe…heart...”
The nurse furrowed her brow, quickly assessing the situation. Her face cleared.
“You think you’re having a heart attack?”
Bucky closed his eyes, nodding shortly.
“No, you’re going to be fine. It’s a panic attack.”
“What?” Bucky gasped.
“A panic attack. No wonder, with all the stress you’ve had. Now, focus on your breathing. In, out. You can do it, there you go.” She continued talking,
Bucky forced himself to take deep, even breaths. He focused on her voice, and eventually became aware of Steve’s hand on his back. After a few minutes, his chest didn’t hurt and his heart returned to it’s normal pace.
“I take it you’ve never had one of those before?”
Bucky shook his head silently.
“I’m not surprised that you’ve had one today. You should really rest. And no more coffee.”
She pointed to the styrofoam cup on the ground that Bucky wasn’t even aware that he dropped.
“You feeling better?”
Bucky nodded again. “Thank you.”
“Just doing my job.” She smiled and returned to her spot at the nurse’s station.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. That was scary, though.”
“I used to get those when my asthma was bad, and I couldn’t breathe. They fucking suck.”
Bucky laughed quietly. He hesitated. “Do you want me to drive you home? Or, at least to my place? So you can sleep somewhere more comfortable?”
Steve was already shaking his head. “No, I’m good. You feel like taking a walk?”
Bucky shrugged. “Sure, why not?”
He stood unsteadily, leaning slightly on Steve. He opened his mouth.
“Don’t you dare apologize again.”
Bucky laughed softly. “Fine. Where are we going?”
“The gift shop. There’s candy.”
Bucky frowned. “It’s closed.”
Steve grinned. “Come on.”
“Steve…” Bucky said warily, but he followed him anyway.
“Are we going to break in?” Bucky asked when they reached the gift shop.
“Nope.” Steve dug into his pocket, then proudly pulled out Angie’s keycard. “She figured I’d be staying, so she gave it to me.”
He opened the door and turned on the light.
“Are you sure this is okay?”
“Sure. I’ve done it before.”
“Yeah. Peggy was in the hospital for a week one time, and Angie gave me her key so I could get her candy because she wouldn’t leave Peggy’s room.”
Once Bucky was sure he wouldn’t get kicked out of the hospital for it, he and Steve ate some candy, and they both chose something for Becca. They left money on the counter, then wandered around a bit more.
They managed to get lost, scolded by three nurses, and nearly caused a fire all in the span of forty-five minutes. The fire thing was totally Steve’s fault, though.
Becca was discharged the next day. Within a week, she was back to her normal self.
Two weeks later, Bucky was helping the twins and their friends move into their college dorms.
“Dude,” Clint grunted. “Did you put bricks in this mattress?”
“No, it’s just-SHIT!” Pietro dropped his end of the mattress, slipping backwards on the stairs.
The mattress was too heavy for Clint on his own, and when it started sliding down the stairs, it pulled him with it. The two of them, plus the mattress, smacked into Bucky, sending him flying down the stairs.
He tumbled head over feet. He landed hard on top of one of Pietro’s trophies that had flown out of the box he had been carrying. He didn’t have time to recover before Pietro landed on top of him, followed by the mattress, and then Clint.
“I’m okay!” Clint said loudly. “The mattress broke my fall!”
Bucky groaned. No one was making any move to help them. He could only hear laughing.
“I am so glad I got that on video,” Natasha cackled.
“Get off of me,” Bucky said to Pietro.
“I can’t! The old man is pinning the mattress down!”
“Clint! Get the fuck up!”
“Geez, you can’t give me a moment to recover,” Clint grumbled.
He rolled off, pulling the mattress with him. Pietro scrambled up, and Bucky rolled off of the trophy, groaning.
“Okay, I’m done. Delete that video, Natasha.” He stood to find her, the twin’s friends, their guardians, Wanda, and Becca on top of Steve’s shoulders, all laughing at him.
“I’ve already sent it to the girls. Now move, Okoye and I have this. Go get the rest of the boxes.”
“Don’t worry, guys, I’m fine. Just a concussion, nothing to worry about.” Bucky rolled his eyes, and took Steve’s offered hand.
“Really?” Becca’s eyes went wide.
Bucky immediately regretted his words. She had seen the real thing too many times.
“Sorry, kiddo. Bad joke.”
“Should we go help the girls with their dorm?” Steve jostled Becca, and she grabbed his head.
“Don’t do that!” She squealed.
“Do what?” He did it again. “This?”
“Steve!” She yelped.
“Oh my god. Bucky, I’ve lost Becca!” He turned sharply, and Becca squealed again. “Do you see her anywhere?”
Bucky smirked. “Nope. I haven’t seen her.”
“I’m right here!” Becca giggled.
“Did you hear something?” Steve looked around.
“I didn’t hear anything. You know, maybe Becca’s back by the cars.”
“I think you’re right. Let’s go check!”
Steve grabbed Becca’s ankles tightly and took off, Becca laughing the whole way. Bucky jogged after them, laughing.
Three hours later, they were saying their goodbyes, somewhat tearfully on most parts.
“I feel almost like a proud parent,” Bucky said as they got in the car. “Like the kids are leaving home for the first time.”
“Uh. You kinda are, Buck,” Steve said lightly.
“Yeah, it’s empty nest syndrome.”
“The house is going to be so empty!” Bucky complained.
The other three adults laughed.
“Oh my god, you’re right,” Nat said suddenly. “They’re all grown up!”
“We’ve known them for two and a half years,” Clint added. “This is crazy.”
“Guys. What if Wanda gets a boyfriend?” Bucky asked.
The car jolted as Clint swerved. “No. No boys.”
Natasha rolled her eyes. “What about Pietro getting a girlfriend?”
Bucky closed his eyes. “I swear, they grew up too fast.”
Steve laughed at them. “You guys do know they’re only, what, five years younger than you?”
“Stop making me feel old,” Bucky groaned.
“We’re the same age, dude.”
“Wait. Before we know it, they’ll be graduating!”
Clint swerved again. “Stop that!”
“But they’ll be having kids!”
“And Becca will be in high school!”
“Getting a boyfriend,” Natasha added, smirking.
Clint swerved harder. Cars began to honk behind them.
“No. Nuh uh. Squirt, no boys until you’re thirty. Understand?”
“We started dating when we were fifteen, Clint.”
“No, Nat, he’s right. Neither can Wanda, and Pietro can’t have a girlfriend. They’ll get their hearts broken
Natasha rolled his eyes. “Don’t listen to him, girly. You can date when you find a nice boy. When you’re sixteen.”
“Boys are icky,” Becca giggled.
“Yes we are, kiddo.”
So I wrote this chapter about three months or so before I found out I have a really severe shellfish allergy, which sucks because shellfish is one of my favorite foods. But on the other hand, I can edit this because I know what it’s like to have an allergic reaction. Panic attack is probably not accurate, though, so I’m sorry
Chapter 13: Merry Christmas Part 2: Fancy Seeing You Here
I’m sure you guys saw this coming, I’m not great at subtlety ;p
“Something’s going on with your brother,” Dum Dum said to Bucky as a crash was heard from the kitchen.
“Yeah, I know. He’s been like this all week.”
The bell jangled when the door opened. The wind whipped it all the way open, and Steve rushed in. Bucky ran over to help him shut the door. By the time they got it shut, snow was carpeting the ground.
“This storm is crazy,” Steve panted, leaning against the door.
“I know. Becca almost blew away when she walked outside this morning.”
There was a crash, followed by, “Aw, coffee, no!”
“I see Clint’s still the same?”
“I can’t figure it out,” Bucky complained.
“Maybe he’s still freaked that Wanda got a boyfriend.”
“That was almost two months ago.”
Steve raised an eyebrow. “Your point?”
“He got over it last week,” Bucky conceded with a grin.
“I know what’s wrong with him,” Monty said as Bucky stepped back behind the counter.
Monty looked around conspiratorially, then opened his mouth. Bucky and Steve leaned in.
Before he could tell them, however, the door opened again. This time, Steve rushed over to help shut the door as Natasha and Becca struggled in.
“Bucky! Natasha had to carry me because the wind knocked me over!”
“That’s crazy, kiddo! Natalia, do you know what’s happening with your boyfriend?”
“He’s been acting off lately. Maybe he’s sick.”
“Well, he’s breaking my kitchen.”
Nat sighed. “Clint!”
There was a huge crash from the kitchen.
Clint’s head poked through the doors.
“You’re back, hey! Good, I wanted to-whoa!” He slipped forward, falling face-first on the ground.
“Clint, oh my god.” Natasha ran over and helped him up.
Bucky saw his uncles smirk, and he exchanged a confused look with Steve.
“What is going on with you?” Nat asked, as she and Bucky helped him over to a stool.
Clint bowed his head. “Look, I want to-I’ve been trying-I...you know what, fuck it.”
He slid off of the stool and down to one knee, pulling a box out of his pocket. Natasha gasped, slapping a hand over her mouth.
“Holy shit,” Bucky whispered, grinning.
“I’ve known you since we were fourteen. I’ve been in love with you since we were fifteen. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to do this romantically, but when am I ever romantic?”
Natasha laughed softly.
“I love you more than anything. You are the only person in the world I want to spend my life with. Natasha Romanoff, will you marry me?”
Nat beamed. “Yes. Of course I will, oh my god!”
Clint smiled widely and slipped the ring on her finger. He stood and she tackled him, kissing his face as he spun her around.
Bucky whistled, and everyone cheered.
When Clint set her down, Natasha paused.
“Is this why you’ve been so nervous lately?”
Clint nodded sheepishly.
“Did you honestly think there was a chance of me saying no?”
Clint shrugged. “I dunno, I mean-”
Nat kissed him. “You idiot. God, I love you.”
“Congratulations!” Becca ran over to them, hugging their knees.
Bucky gave in and hugged them too. “I am so happy for you two. Get out of here, go celebrate.”
He smiled as he watched the two them run outside into the storm, hand in hand.
“Can I be in the wedding?” Becca asked excitedly.
Bucky was fairly certain she would be the flower girl or something, but he wanted to leave the decision to the couple.
“That’s up to Natasha and Clint, kiddo.” He shook his head when Becca opened her mouth. “And don’t ask them.”
“Okay. May I have a hot chocolate, please?”
“Sure. Steve, want your regular?”
“Yes please. But make it to go, I think. This storm is getting real bad,” Steve called from where he was talking with Bucky’s uncles.
Bucky looked out the window and realized he couldn’t see anything but white.
“Alright,” he declared. “I’m driving everyone home.”
“We live across the street, boy.”
“You live on Third Street. That’s a fifteen minute walk on a good day.”
“We’re not helpless old men, Bucky,” Gabe said.
Bucky disn’t bother to reply to that. “Let me close up, then we’ll get to the car.”
“Steve, I’ll need directions to your house.”
“Buck, you don’t have to. It’s not that far.”
“I want to make sure everyone’s home safe. Don’t worry about it.”
“Yeah. But, uh. Would you mind staying here with Becca while I drive these three home? I don’t have enough room in the car.”
“Of course. We’ll finish our drinks.”
Bucky spent the entire five minute drive being mocked by his uncles. They, like the rest of his family, didn’t seem to care that they were just friends.
The drive to Steve’s was slightly calmer, mostly just Becca chattering about the wedding.
“Thanks for the ride,” Steve said as they pulled into his driveway.
“Bye Steve!” Becca said.
“Bye, Becca. Bye Bucky.” Steve hesitated as he opened the door. “Text me when you get home, otherwise I’ll be freaking out all day.” He smiled self-consciously.
“Sure thing, Steve.” He waited for Steve to get inside before pulling away.
When he got home, Natasha and Clint were inside waiting for them.
“You guys are home early.”
“Closed early and drove Steve and the Commandos home. Didn’t want them out in this,” Bucky answered, sending a quick text to Steve.
“Cool. So we wanted to talk to you.” Clint cleared his throat. “First of all, we want to get married in April, which gives us four months to work out the details.”
“Second,” Natasha started. “We want to spend a few days away, just to celebrate. But the place we want to go is nearly booked. The only opening is…” she trailed off.
Bucky raised an eyebrow.”
“The only opening before June is in two days.”
Two days. Which was the day before Christmas Eve. Now he understood why she seemed nervous.
“Oh. Guys, you just got engaged. We don’t mind, right, Becca?”
Becca shook her head. “Nope! We can do presents tomorrow! It’ll be like we have two Christmases!”
The other two smiled in relief.
“There’s one other thing we want to ask you, squirt.”
Becca looked at Clint. “What?”
“Will you be the flower girl?”
Becca’s eyes widened and her mouth formed an ‘o’.
“Really?” She breathed.
“Of course. Do you want to?”
“YES!” Becca squealed. “Thank you!”
She hugged Natasha and Clint.
“Thank you,” Clint said.
Later, after they had eaten dinner, while Clint was tucking Becca in, Natasha and Bucky were watching TV.
“James,” Nat said softly.
“Nat,” Bucky turned to her.
“Will you walk me down the aisle?”
Bucky blinked. “I...of course, Nat. I’d be honored.”
Nat smiled at him, then grabbed him in a hug. Bucky squeezed her back, swallowing hard.
Clint came back down then, and he smiled.
“She asked you?”
Bucky pulled away. “Yeah. Have you told the twins?”
“We called them earlier. I’m surprised you didn’t hear Wanda screaming from the bakery.”
Bucky chuckled. “Have you decided who’s going to be in your parties?”
“I asked Wanda to be my maid of honor, and I’m going to ask Maria, Sharon, Okoye, and Pepper to be my bridesmaids.”
“Obviously, I asked Pietro to be my best man, and for my groomsmen I’m going to ask T’Challa, Coulson, Sam, and Steve.”
“That’s amazing, guys. I’m so happy for you.”
“Are you sure you’re okay with us not being here for Christmas?”
“Of course. Besides, we’ll have the twins.”
The next day, Bucky got a call from Wanda.
“How’s college treating you, kid?”
“You talked to me two days ago, Bucky.”
“That’s what everyone tells me. So, what’s up?”
“You know the storm?”
“The raging blizzard going through the whole Northeast coast? The reason I had to close early yesterday? Nah, haven’t heard of it.”
He could practically hear Wanda roll her eyes. “Stop being such a dad, Bucky.”
Bucky ignored the way that the simple comment warmed his heart.
“You going to tell me why your so nervous?”
“Wanda, I can hear you tapping your pencil against the desk.”
Over the years, Bucky had picked up on her nervous habits.
She sighed. “All the roads have been closed until Wednesday at the earliest. And all flights have been cancelled. There’s no way for us to make it home for Christmas.”
Bucky felt disappointment flash through him, but he managed to keep it out of his voice.
“That’s okay. I wouldn’t want you out in this, it’s dangerous. Are all of your friends still there?”
“Um, yeah. They couldn’t get home either.”
“Okay. I want you to go out, buy a ham, or whatever you want to eat, make a big Christmas dinner, and enjoy yourselves. Don’t worry about not being here.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure. We can always call you. Besides, it’s not like you can control the weather.”
After he had talked to Pietro and assured him it wasn’t a big deal, Bucky told Becca. She took the news better than he thought she would, which was a plus.
It wasn’t until she was in bed that Bucky realized that he had never bought the food for Christmas. He frantically searched through the kitchen, only to realize that he needed to go to the store. He wasn’t stupid. He knew that the store would be empty, especially with the blizzard.
“What am I gonna do?” He groaned, hanging his head.
All he could think of was the shitty Christmases he and Becca had had before their lives turned around. Of course, he knew it wasn’t the same, but that didn’t stop him from freaking out a bit.
He walked into his room and found the photo album he had hidden under a loose floorboard.
“Hey Ma,” he said quietly. “I messed up this year. We don’t have food for Christmas and I’m sure the stores are all sold out. I don’t know what to do. I need you to tell me what to do.”
He sighed, knowing this was pointless. But then his eyes fell on a picture of his mother and Sarah as children. Sarah. She’d know what to do. He ran back downstairs to call her, only to find a missed call from Steve. He looked at the time. He figured he could call Sarah later, and called Steve instead.
“Hey, it’s Bucky. Sorry I missed your call, I left my phone downstairs.”
“No problem. I’m bored, so I figured I’d call you.”
“Wow, I’m honored, Stevie.”
“You should be,” Steve said seriously. “I don’t talk to just anybody.”
“So, what are your plans for Christmas this year?”
Bucky groaned and thunked his head down onto the table.
“Sorry, I’m just stressed. You know how Nat and Clint are going away to celebrate their engagement?”
“Well, the twins are stuck at school because of this damn blizzard. It’s just reaching them and the roads are closed and all flights cancelled.”
“That’s not even the worst part. I figured, okay, Becca and I can celebrate by ourselves, no big deal. Then I realized. I never bought Christmas dinner. And that’s one of Becca’s favorite parts!”
“Oh my god. I’m sorry, Buck. How’s she handling it?”
“Well, I didn’t tell her about dinner. She’s disappointed about the twins, though.”
“I’m sure.” There was a pause for a minute. “Hey, I just had an idea.”
“Why don’t you and Becca come to my ma’s for Christmas?”
“Steve...we can’t impose on your Christmas.”
“No, it’s just Ma and I. Besides, she’s always nagging on me to bring my friends over. She’ll love you guys.”
“I don’t know…”
“Bucky. Don’t overthink it. It’ll be fun.”
“She won’t mind?”
“Not at all.”
“Thank you, Steve. I’ll have to double check with Becca, but I’m sure she’ll be excited.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Christmas day, they drove the four and a half hours to Brooklyn to Mrs. Rogers’ house. Becca slept most of the way, which Bucky was grateful for. Luckily, the blizzard had slowed down, so the drive was smooth. Steve only skidded once, although that almost gave Bucky a heart attack.
When they arrived, Bucky woke Becca up, and he grabbed the pie he had brought.
“Ma, we’re here!” Steve called as they shut the door behind them.
A woman came out of the kitchen, throwing herself at Steve so fast Bucky couldn’t even see her face.
“Oooh, Merry Christmas!”
Bucky knew that voice. He heard it on the phone once a week. He stared as she turned to him and Becca, then froze.
“Well, if it ain’t Bucky Barnes.”
“Sarah!” Bucky pulled her into a hug.
She pulled back abruptly, smacking him on the head.
“You didn’t call me this week.”
“I meant to, I swear! I got caught up with Christmas things.”
She sighed, shaking her head. “Well, you’re here now, I suppose that has to do. Oh my, is that your sister?”
Bucky smiled. “Yes ma’am.”
“She’s gotten so big!”
Becca, who was hiding behind Bucky, waved shyly.
“Hello, sweetheart. Last time I saw you, you were a baby.”
“I’m sorry, can someone tell me what’s going on please?” Bucky glanced at Steve, who looked utterly lost.
“Steve, these are Winifred’s kids.”
“No shi- sorry, Ma. Winnie was your ma?”
“Yeah, and Sarah’s your ma!”
“Small world, god.”
“Bucky, who’s that?” Becca whispered, tugging on Bucky’s coat.
“I used to live next to your mommy,” Sarah said.
Becca’s eyes widened. “You’re that Sarah?”
Sarah chuckled. “I am. I heard you like hearing about the trouble we got into.”
“Come on into the living room and I’ll tell you about it. Boys, go shovel the driveway. My arthritis is acting up.”
“So’s Bucky’s,” Steve muttered.
Bucky elbowed Steve as Sarah looked at them.
“What?” She narrowed her eyes.
“Nothing,” Bucky said. “We’ll go shovel.”
Sarah eyed them for a moment before heading into the living room with Becca.
“She is going to kill you when she finds out you didn’t tell her,” Steve said under his breath.
“Shut up. It never came up.”
Steve rolled his eyes. “Let’s go. Or she won’t let us have dessert.”
“You think I’m kidding?”
“That driveway won’t shovel itself, boys!” Sarah called.
Bucky stopped laughing and they got to work.
They came in half an hour later, freezing. They found Sarah and Becca in the kitchen, working on dinner.
“Thank you,” Sarah singsonged.
She handed Bucky a heating pad without sparing a glance.
Bucky sheepishly put it on his shoulder.
“I expect the whole story later.” Her tone left no room for argument.
Dinner was ready about three hours later.
“I still can’t believe neither of us figured this out,” Bucky said.
“No kidding. Geez, Becca even looks like the pictures of your ma when she was younger.”
“You know what else I can’t believe? I never knew Sarah’s last name.”
“I never knew Winnie’s.”
“I never knew you were the friends that Steve told me about. I should’ve guessed. An adorable little girl with an awesome brother? Obvious.”
Bucky felt himself blushing and looked at Steve, who was also turning red.
“Wait,” Sarah looked as if she were thinking hard. “Does that mean that your friends who got engaged...oh my. Natasha and Clint! They’re getting married!”
Bucky grinned. “Yeah. In April.”
“I am so happy for them. Honestly, I thought this would come much sooner.”
“Me too,” Bucky and Steve said simultaneously.
“I’m going to be the flower girl,” Becca told Sarah happily.
“That’s wonderful, sweetheart.”
Later, after dessert, they were looking through old photo albums.
“Do you remember playing together when you were kids?”
Sarah pointed to a picture of the two boys as toddlers in Bucky’s old house, playing happily.”
“Vaguely,” Steve said.
“Same. You were a lot smaller, though.”
“Yeah, I know.”
He pointed to a picture of him as a teenager.
He couldn’t have been more than one hundred pounds, soaking wet, and he was, at most, five foot four inches tall.
“You probably got into twice as many fights then as you do now.”
“Try three times,” Sarah scoffed.
“You were a little punk back then, weren’t you?” Bucky smirked at Steve.
“Shut up, jerk.” But Steve was smiling.
“You two were inseparable as a children,” Sarah remembered fondly.
Bucky looked at Steve, who smiled at him. He grinned back, then startled when he heard a snore. Becca was sound asleep, head on Steve’s lap, feet on Bucky’s.
“Oh, that is adorable,” Sarah cooed.
She grabbed her phone and snapped a picture.
They talked for awhile longer, but then Sarah’s gaze fell on his shoulder. She didn’t say anything, just raised an eyebrow. Bucky sighed.
“He went after Becca with a bat. I jumped in front.”
“I’ll kill that man,” she muttered, shaking her head.
“You’ll have to get in line. It’s a long list.”
“Add me on that list, please,” Steve piped up.
Bucky rolled his eyes. “I believe Natasha and Clint are first on the list, along with the twins. Then the Commandos, then Sarah, then you.”
“Let me at him first, they can have him when I’m through.” Sarah growled.
“You’re not on that list?” Steve questioned.
“Depends on the day.” Bucky shrugged.
“I slapped him, once,” Sarah sighed wistfully. “The day Winnie kicked him out. I should’ve kicked him in the balls when I had the chance.”
Bucky snorted. “You and me both.”
“Just out of curiosity, when does he get out of jail?”
Bucky rolled his eyes at Sarah’s overly-casual tone.
“Don’t roll your eyes at me, James Buchanan.”
“Sorry, Sarah. He gets out in the spring, due to good behavior.”
“I am going to hit that man so hard-”
“Ma, calm down. You’re waking Becca.”
Sarah laid her head back. “Sorry, sorry. How’re the boys, by the way? And the twins?”
“The Commandos are good. And Wanda got a boyfriend.”
“I bet Clint loved that,” Sarah laughed.
“He was panicked for almost two months.”
“I can’t wait for Pietro to get a girlfriend.”
“He’s going to be worse.”
“Imagine when Becca gets a boyfriend.” Sarah looked at him knowingly.
Both he and Steve immediately shook their heads.
“Oooh, just you wait. How’s Sam?” She asked Steve.
“He’s good. I think he and Maria are going to move in together soon.”
“Good for them! You know, Bucky, I’ve been meaning to ask you. Do you have anyone special right now?”
Bucky chuckled. “Nah. I haven’t had the best of luck with relationships.”
“How many relationships have you been in?”
Bucky shifted uncomfortably. “Um. One.”
“Well, what happened?”
“He cheated on me a bunch,” he paused, and then added quickly, “AndhetriedtokillBecca.”
“That’s horrible-wait, he what?” Sarah cried.
“Did you just say he tried to kill Becca?” Steve asked incredulously.
“You have to explain that, dude.”
Bucky sighed. “I called him out on the cheating thing, and he got mad. Two days later, in the middle of the night, I heard Becca scream. I found her downstairs, with the guy cornering her. He had a knife. Thank god he was drunk, he only grazed her arm. I managed to knock him out before he could do anything worse.”
Bucky looked up and found both Sarah and Steve gaping at him.
“Jesus Christ. Did he get arrested?”
“No. His uncle was the police chief, and they passed it off as a misunderstanding.”
Sarah looked shaken. “How could they-”
“Since I didn’t want them digging into our life, I didn’t push it.”
“God this is just like how George didn’t get arrested sooner.”
Bucky hesitated. “Actually, yeah. That police chief was a good friend of his, and that’s another reason his son was with me. I didn’t know until after, obviously.”
Sarah threw up her hands. “I should’ve adopted you when I had the chance. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, give me that man’s name and I will-”
“Ma, you need to calm down. He doesn’t want to talk about it.,” Steve interrupted.
Bucky looked at him gratefully.
“Yeah, it’s not really Christmas talk.”
Sarah closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I suppose you’re right. I’m sorry, Bucky. Now, who wants more pie?”
The next morning, Bucky was woken up by his phone.
“Hello?” He mumbled sleepily.
“James Buchanan Barnes! I cannot believe you!”
“No, it’s Wanda! You did not tell me that Natasha and Clint were going away for Christmas!”
“Aaaand I’m awake,” Bucky groaned.
He sat up, stretching, before quietly walking into the kitchen. He looked at the time.
“Wanda, it’s not even six in the morning.”
“I know that! I just got a text from Clint asking how it felt being home for Christmas!”
“Look, kid, I just didn’t want you or Pietro to try to drive home in that blizzard.”
“But you and Becca were alone!” She continued to rant while Bucky went through a cup and a half of coffee.
“Wanda,” Bucky yawned. “Someone’s beeping in.”
“You are about to get your ass handed to you.”
“Wanda! Alright, I’ll get back to you once I hang up with whoever this is. And after I’ve had about two more cups of coffee.”
When Steve came into the kitchen an hour later, Bucky was on his third cup of coffee, vaguely listening to Natasha yell at him.
Bucky hit mute. “Morning.”
“Morning. Why are you on the phone so early?”
Bucky hit the speaker button and angry Russian swearing filled the room.
“Ah. How long-”
“Wanda called...hang on,” Bucky sighed and unmuted the phone. “No, I do understand. Nat. Natasha. Natalia! You asked me a- Natasha, you asked me a ques-I’m trying to answer-” Bucky groaned and shook his head, muting her once again. “Apparently it doesn’t matter if I’m speaking Russian or English, I’m not allowed to interrupt. Coffee?”
“That’d be great. So, what’d you do?”
“Wanda found out Nat and Clint went away for Christmas, and she told them that she and Pietro didn’t come home for Christmas. I got a nasty wake up call from Wanda at quarter to six, then Nat beeped in about an hour ago.”
“Dude, it’s eight o’clock.”
“I know. Oh for god’s sake,” Bucky growled.
“Natasha. Don’t you dare come home-Becca and I-we’re fine,” Bucky saw Steve trying not to laugh and he made a face.
Steve rolled his eyes and took the phone out of Bucky’s hand.
“Natasha...no, wait, I don’t speak Russian...yeah, it’s Steve. Bucky and Becca came with me to my ma’s for Christmas. They’re fine. Yeah, I promise. Okay, have a nice trip, bye. Bye.”
Bucky gaped at Steve. “What the hell, man? How?”
“I’ve had to deal with Mother Hen Peggy for years.”
“Teach me your ways, I beg you.”
Steve snorted. “We should leave by ten if we want to beat traffic.”
Chapter 14: The Wedding
So the next few chapters are going to be kind of short, just because they had to be split up weird
The wedding was on April sixth, a Sunday. Natasha and Clint had decided to get married in Bucky’s backyard, which meant Bucky had to deep clean his house and decorate the yard. The twins and their friends came home late Friday night, to help set up.
“You nervous?” Bucky whispered to Nat as they got ready to walk down the aisle.
Nat shook her head, but Wanda slapped her arm.
Natasha rolled her eyes, but she was grinning.
“I’m not nervous, just excited.”
“You should be. You look beautiful.”
Nat smiled at him.
The music started and the bridesmaids walked outside, one by one, followed by Becca, who was doubling as the ring bearer. Bucky watched through the window as she threw flowers everywhere. Wanda went next, kissing Nat’s cheek before she went.
Finally, Bucky took Natasha’s arm, and they stepped outside. Everyone stood, all eyes on them. Bucky glanced at Natasha. She was smiling, the happiest he had ever seen her.
He looked ahead at Clint, and he had eyes only for her. After what felt like an eternity, they reached the makeshift altar, and Bucky was releasing Nat.
He kissed her cheek, then hugged Clint. He took his seat in the front row as his two best friends turned to each other.
Sarah took his hand as they exchanged their vows.
“Nat. You’ve been in my life since I was fourteen. When Winifred taught us sign language, you learned it faster than I did, and I’m the deaf one.”
Everyone laughed softly.
“You helped Winnie teach me, and soon, I was falling for you. I knew you were the one when we were seventeen. It was the day that some kid had been making fun of someone, and you beat the everloving shit out of him.”
“I love you, Natasha. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life showing you how much.”
Bucky watched Nat swipe at her eyes, before starting on her own.
He was surprised, however, when she reached for Clint’s ears, taking out his hearing aids. She gently set them down, and began to sign along with her vows.
Bucky saw that Clint’s eyes shone with tears.
“Clint, I started to fall for you the moment you came into my life. I learned to sign quickly so I could talk to you easier. When we started dating, you taught me that I didn’t need to impress you, or be anything but myself. You accepted me as I was, even with all the things I’ve done. You said you knew I was the one when I beat that kid up? It was maybe three days after that when I knew. We were in the park, and someone said something rude, and I can’t even remember what anymore. When I tried to get to them, you held me back. At first, I was pissed at you, but then you told me that the kid was the superintendent's son, and I realized that you were just trying to keep me from getting expelled. No one besides Winnie and James had ever cared enough for me to want that. I knew then that I wanted to spend he rest of my life with you. I love you so much.”
Bucky looked around and he was thankful he wasn’t the only with tears in his eyes. There wasn’t a dry eye anywhere.
Bucky gestured for Becca to go forward.
“Do you, Natasha Romanoff, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?”
“I do.” Natasha took a ring from Becca and slipped it onto Clint’s finger.
“Do you, Clint Barton, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?”
“I do.” Clint slipped the ring on Nat’s finger.
“Then you may kiss the bride.”
Bucky cheered with everyone else when the two kissed.
Becca threw the remaining flower petals over their heads, and everyone laughed.
The party was also held in the backyard, half an hour after the ceremony.
“Where are they going for their honeymoon?” His uncles sat next to Bucky as they watched the newlyweds have their first dance.
“The Caribbean, Nat’s always wanted to go.”
“And the twin’s are going back to college?”
Bucky squinted at the three men. “I’m not going to be lonely, if that’s what you’re asking. They’re only gone for three weeks, and I have Becca.”
Monty held up his hands. “Alright, alright. But won’t you need help at the coffee shop?”
Bucky shrugged. “I’m sure I can get by.”
“That was a beautiful ceremony,” Peggy announced, sitting down with Steve and Angie.
“It really was,” Angie sighed. “And look how happy they are.”
They all looked to the dance floor, where the song was slowing down. Clint was looking at Nat as if she had hung the moon, and Nat was looking at Clint as though he had hung the stars.
When the song ended, Natasha came over and grabbed Bucky.
“Dance with me?” she asked.
“Of course,” Bucky took her hand and led her to the dance floor.
Another slow song began, and he began to lead her around the floor. He saw Clint dancing with Sarah.
“Thank you for everything, Bucky.”
Bucky looked at her. “Did you just call me-“
“Give me a break, I just got married.”
Bucky smiled at her. “You’re welcome, Nat.”
“I never thought I’d get married,” she said quietly.
“I did. You’re amazing, Natalia. You deserve to be happy.”
Natasha smiled at him. “So do you, James.”
“I am happy,” Bucky insisted.
“I know you are. I just meant that you deserve to find someone to be happy with.”
Bucky chuckled. “Maybe someday. But for now, I have my family, and my friends. And I’m happy with that.”
The song came to an end, and Natasha kissed Bucky’s cheek.
“I love you, James.”
“Love you too, Nat.”
“Good. Now find someone to dance with.”
“Have fun!” She patted his cheek and went off to mingle.
Bucky rolled his eyes, then stole Sarah for a dance. For the next hour, he danced with Pegg, Angie, Wanda, Becca, May Parker, and even Melinda May, once. He finally was allowed to take a break when they called all of the couples out to the floor.
“I think half of the women here are in love with you, just from watching you dance,” Steve commented slyly as Bucky sat next to him.
“Good thing I’m gay then, right?”
Steve laughed. “Seriously though, you’ve been dancing for over an hour.”
“Everytime I tried to sit down, Nat glared at me.”
“Yeah, you can’t argue with her on her wedding day.”
“You can’t argue with her on any day,” Bucky sighed jokingly.
“So, that’s Wanda’s boyfriend?”
Bucky looked out to the dance floor.
“Yeah. He seems nice enough. Even Clint seemed to like him.”
“That’s good. When did Pietro get a girlfriend?”
“Last week. Clint hates her, says she’s going to break his heart.”
“Yeah, that’s probably true. So, no date for you?”
Bucky ran a hand through his hair. “Nah. Like I said, I don’t really date. You?”
Steve shrugged. “I’m sort of seeing someone, but we only met last week. Probably won’t work out.”
“I...don’t have the best of luck in the dating department.”
Bucky scoffed. “Tell me about it. What’s wrong with this guy?”
“I dunno. He seems real nice.”
Steve rolled his eyes. “I’m not used to meeting nice guys who are actually nice, you know?”
“Yeah, I get it. Oh god, the song is over, Nat’s going to make me dance again.”
Steve only laughed at him.
Chapter 15: The Warning Signs
Here comes angst!
A week and a half after the wedding, Steve invited Bucky and Becca over for the day.
“Steve, the flour goes in the bowl, not on the counter,” Becca pointed out sweetly.
Bucky snorted when Steve gasped in mock-offense.
“How dare you, I know exactly where the flour goes!”
Steve looked at Bucy, who nodded, and then threw a handful of flour at Becca. She shrieked and Bucky burst out laughing.
Becca was trying to get some flour to retaliate when the oven timer went off.
“I’ve got it,” Steve said. “I want the first cookie.”
“Hey-” Bucky was cut off by the doorbell.
He looked at Steve, who shrugged.
“I’ll get it.”
He went to the door, and Bucky went to take the cookies out of the oven.
“Becca-Girl, can you go ask Steve where the cooling rack is?”
“Sure.” Becca hopped off of her stool and ran after Steve.
A moment later, her piercing scream rang through the house. Bucky took off immediately, and he found Steve standing protectively in front of his sister, who was clutching his legs.
As soon as Becca saw Bucky, she catapulted herself into him.
“What happened?” He asked Steve.
“I have no idea-I was just talking to him, and Becca saw him and screamed.”
Bucky saw a man standing just behind Steve.
“Who is he?”
“This is that guy I told you about at the wedding,” Steve said. “Becca, what’s wrong?”
Before Becca could answer, the man stepped forward. When Bucky saw his face he stepped backwards so quickly he nearly stepped on Becca.
He could feel the panic building, and his only thought was not again.
“Oh. Oh god.” He put an arm behind him and around Becca.
“Buck, what’s going on?”
“My god! Bucky Barnes? It’s been ages!” The man exclaimed.
He moved to hug Bucky, who growled.
“You know each other?” Steve asked.
Bucky sighed and cleared his throat.
“Steve, this is my ex boyfriend.”
Steve tilted his head in confusion, but then his eyes widened and he whipped his head towards Brock.
“You’re the one who hurt Becca?” He said quietly.
Brock sighed, shaking his head. “Is he still telling people that garbage? Let me guess, he fed you some sob story about his shoulder?”
Bucky managed to keep himself quiet, though he knew it would be no use to try and control Steve.
“What do you mean?” Steve narrowed his eyes.
Brock rolled his eyes. “Oh my god, he did! He probably told you about his father abusing him, too. Steve, it’s all lies.”
“Come on, Becca. We should go.” Bucky bowed his head and took Becca’s hand.
“Bucky, wait,” Steve gently touched his arm.
“It’s okay, Steve.”
Brock snorted. “See, he’s running away. He knows the truth is out.” He shook his head. “His father was a great man! Always donating to the police station, hell, he was a second father to me! You see, your pal, your buddy, your Bucky, he got George thrown in jail for no reason. I think he just wanted Winifred’s inheritance to himself.”
Bucky growled and clenched his fist.
“Leave her out of this.”
“Bucky, you need to calm down, we’re having a rational conversation,” Brock said patronizingly, then turned to Steve. “See, he’s the violent one. But hey, I get it. You’re friends with him the same reason I dated him; he’s pathetic, right?”
Bucky grabbed Steve’s arm before he could lunge at Brock.
“You lying son of a bitch.”
Brock scoffed. “I may have cheated on him, and I may have gotten a little too drunk one night. Can you blame me? He may have the looks, but that doesn’t change the fact that Bucky here is worthless, am I right? God, he’s clingy, he’s a liar, he’s stupid, he’s annoying, and he’s weak.”
Bucky could feel himself shrinking in response to Brock’s words, just like when they were together.
Steve took a deep breath, glaring at Brock.
“That doesn’t explain why Becca is terrified of you.”
Brock held up his hands. “Fine, you got me. But come on, the little brat had it coming.”
With that, Steve snarled and shoved Brock into a wall. Bucky shouted wordlessly and Becca screamed.
“Becs, go into the living room. It’s okay, I promise.”
Becca nodded fearfully and ran away.
When Bucky turned back, Steve was pinning a wide-eyed Brock to the wall, arm at his throat. Brock’s feet were barely touching the ground.
“Listen to me, you piece of shit. Bucky is the strongest man I know. He is not pathetic, and he is not worthless. He has been through hell and back and I’ll be damned if I let you screw with him again. He is anything but a liar. He is braver than you’ll ever be. You’ve had this coming since you hurt that little girl. You’re lucky I’m the only one here, because if the rest of her family was, you’d be dead. And if you come anywhere near any of us again, I will kill you. Now get the hell out of my house.”
He dropped Brock, who straightened and cleared his throat.
“Fine, I’ll go. But you should know…” Brock stalked closer to Bucky. “You’re father doesn’t have much time left in jail. I know someone very willing to pay his bail. I’d watch my back if I were you.”
Bucky couldn’t stop himself; he swung his fist right into Brock’s jaw.
“Get out,” he snarled.
Brock-looking scared shitless- scrambled for the door and Bucky slammed it behind him.
He stood there breathing heavily for a moment, unable to bring himself to look at Steve.
“Becca, he’s gone,” he called after a minute of silence.
Becca tentatively walked into the hall.
“Are you okay?”
She nodded silently.
“I am so sorry, Becca. I didn’t…” Steve shook his head.
“It’s okay,” Becca whispered.
She reached for Bucky, and his heart broke when he saw her fighting tears. He lifted her up and she buried her face in his neck.
“Shhh, I’ve got you, kiddo.”
Bucky looked at Steve. “I guess we should go.”
Steve looked crushed. “You don’t have to.”
“I know, but I think I should bring her home.”
Steve nodded. “Buck, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. It’s not your fault. She’s just scared.”
“It is my fault though. If I had known…”
“Steve, don’t beat yourself up.”
Steve cleared his throat. “Alright. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
Bucky managed a smile. “Yeah. I’ve got the morning shift for the next week.”
Steve rolled his eyes slightly. “You have all the shifts for the next week.”
Bucky nodded, and turned to leave. He paused for a moment and looked over his shoulder.
“Thanks, by the way. For what you said.”
Steve rubbed the back of his neck. “Just the truth.”
“Bye Steve,” Becca said softly, raising her head a bit.
Bucky has no sooner said goodnight to Becca than his phone rang.
“Hey, Buck. Look, before you say anything, I just want to apologize for what happened.”
“You don’t need to. It wasn’t your fault.” Bucky sat on the couch. “He’s a manipulative douchebag.”
“I’m not denying that. I just...you wouldn’t have had to deal with that if I hadn’t brought him back into your life.”
“Don’t. Please. If anything, I should be apologizing for putting you in that position.”
“Don’t even think about it, Bucky.”
Bucky sighed. “You know what? I don’t care about that. Do you know why?”
Bucky could practically hear Steve frowning.
“Because you believed me over him.”
Bucky heard Steve scoff. “Of course I did, you’re one of my best friends.”
Bucky felt oddly touched by that. He cleared his throat.
“You know what else?”
“By the time I got to the door, I saw the way you were standing.”
“How I was…”
“You were shielding Becca. You didn’t question why she screamed, you just put yourself between her and Brock.”
There was silence on the other end for a moment.”
“I care about Becca a lot, Bucky. You too. But I didn’t do that on purpose.”
“I know that. That makes it even better, in my opinion.”
“So...what I’m hearing is...you’re not mad at me?”
Bucky chuckled softly. “Hell no. I should be thanking you.”
“No, I didn’t do anything.”
“You threw him into a wall and threatened him, Stevie.”
“I was provoked.”
Bucky snorted. “How were you provoked? He was insulting me.”
Steve cleared his throat. “Like I said. I care about you.”
“I’m tired,” Becca complained two nights later.
“So go to bed,” Steve said easily.
“I don’t wanna!”
Bucky looked at Steve and rolled his eyes, but luckily, the phone saved him from arguing back. He ran to the kitchen to answer it.
“Hi, it’s Alice. Kingsman?”
“Oh.” Bucky cleared his throat. “Um, hi.”
Bucky heard her sigh.
“Listen, Bucky, I don’t want you to freak out.”
Bucky frowned. “What’s wrong, Alice?”
“I wanted you to hear it from me. George was released this morning.”
The world suddenly turned upside-down. Bucky braced himself on the counter.
“What?” He croaked. “I...I thought there was another month, at least.”
“So did I. But apparently not. Someone appealed on his behalf. But listen. His parole says he can’t come near you or Becca, and he can’t contact you at all.”
Bucky swallowed thickly. It was difficult to speak. “Okay.”
“I’m so sorry, Bucky.”
“Don’t be. Thank you for letting me know, Alice. I appreciate it.”
“Of course. Call me if you need anything. Anything at all.”
“I will. Thank you.”
Bucky hung up quickly, starting to recognize the beginnings of a panic attack. He stood still for a moment, trying to collect himself.
“What’s up?” Steve walked into the kitchen.
“Could you just keep an eye on Becca for a few minutes?”
“Uh. Yeah, of course. Is everything okay?”
“Hm? Oh, yeah, I just need...ow.”
Bucky was cut off with a sudden chest pain.
He grunted, clutching at his chest, trying to control his breathing. Steve was next to him in an instant, a hand on his back.
“Bucky, Jesus, you’re having a panic attack, aren’t you?”
“I don’t want Becca to see me like this,” he gasped. “Please, Steve.”
Bucky didn’t wait for an answer, instead rushing up the stairs into his room. He just made it before his legs gave out, and he collapsed against the door. He didn’t try to move, just put his head between his knees and tried to breathe.
As much as he focused on anything else, all he could think of was George. Everything else drained away, and he was back in Boston, his father’s voice in his head.
It’s your fault she’s dead!
Why can’t you be normal?
I’ll kill you. And the little brat.
One day you won’t be around to protect her.
Bucky wasn’t sure how much time had gone by when it finally began to wind down, but suddenly he became of another voice mixing in with George’s.
“I’m right here, Bucky.”
You’re not my son.
I hate you.
“Can you hear me yet? Doesn’t matter, I guess. Just breathe, remember.”
Bucky shook himself after another moment of listening to Steve, then stood and opened the door.
Steve fell inside, evidently having been leaning against it.
“Bucky, thank god,” he said. “Are you alright?”
“I...yeah. Thank you. Where’s...um...where’s Becca?”
Bucky scrubbed at his face. He cringed when his hands came away wet; he didn’t know when he started crying.
“She fell asleep about ten minutes ago. I put her in her room, then came to find you.”
“Oh.” Bucky swallowed, then sat back down on the floor.
Steve sat next to him, and they sat in silence for the next few minutes.
“Was this because of the phone call?”
Bucky nodded, rubbing his shoulder. He saw Steve watching him, and he closed his eyes.
“He got out today.”
Steve nodded. “That’s was I was afraid of. I’m not going to say it’s okay.”
It was quiet again, until Bucky couldn’t stand it anymore.
Bucky felt Steve turn, but he couldn’t bring himself to look at him.
“Of course you are, Bucky. He made your life hell.”
“No, Steve, I mean I’m scared of him. I always have been. I get these nightmares where he finds us, and he hurts me again. If something happens to me, he gets to Becca. And now it’s a real possibility. I can’t…” Bucky’s voice broke. “I know he’s going to find us.”
“Bucky,” Steve said softly. “Come on. Look at me.”
Bucky sighed, but did as Steve asked.
“That’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s okay, you know that, right?”
Bucky nodded, taking a breath. “He’s going to try and hurt me, Steve.”
“Do you really think so? I mean, do you think he’d risk going back to jail?”
“Yeah, I do. And I’m terrified. He’s the only thing that really scares me.”
“And that’s okay. But Bucky, you’re not alone this time. You have your family, and me, and the rest of our friends. We won’t let him hurt Becca. Or you.”
“All of us will do anything for you guys. You know that, right?”
Bucky smiled. “Thank you, Steve.”
Chapter 16: You’d Think They’ve Been Through Enough
Still (late) April 2018
Lots more angst, sorry guys! Some fluff, though
Three days later, Bucky found himself once again sitting on the couch with Steve.
“So, you haven’t slept since you got that call, have you?”
Bucky breathed out slowly. “No.”
“Is it because you’re stressed or because you’re keeping guard?”
“Can’t it be both?”
“I guess so. Would it make you feel better if I spent the night? You could at least get a few hours sleep, and tomorrow we can get you a security system.”
Bucky stared at him, but before he could answer, there was a loud bang on the front door, and a muffled curse. Both he and Steve jumped, and Bucky reached for the bat he had placed by the threshold of the room.
He brought a finger to his lips, telling Steve to stay quiet, and hid behind the doorway to the living room.
He waited until he heard someone enter the house before jumping out, yelling and waving the bat.
Natasha and Clint screamed, and Bucky immediately dropped his bat.
“Jesus, you scared me!”
“We scared you?! James, you just attacked us with a bat, what the hell!”
“What are you guys doing home? Oh my god, did I mix up the days? Was I supposed to pick you up?”
“No, we came home early, we wanted to surprise you.”
“Well, that worked. I missed you guys!”
He finally pulled them into a hug.
“We missed you too,” Clint said.
“I’m surprised she didn’t wake up,” Steve inserted.
“Steve! Hey, what are you doing here?”
Natasha hugged him.
“I was bored, and Bucky invited me over.”
“Well, now that that’s all settled, Bucky, buddy, why don’t you tell us what’s wrong?” Clint raised an eyebrow.
“I-what? Why would you-pfft, nothing’s wrong!” Bucky stumbled over his words, rubbing his shoulder.
“You obviously haven’t been sleeping, you’re still shaking from before, and you’re jumpy.”
“I’m not jumpy!” Bucky protested.
Something banged and he jumped nearly a foot off the ground.
Nat raised an eyebrow, and Bucky flushed when he realized she had knocked on the wall.
“He’s out, isn’t he,” Clint said resignedly.
Bucky nodded. “Becca doesn’t know. She’s been stressed enough lately.”
“What happened with her?”
“That’s my fault, actually,” Steve said regretfully. “I had been seeing a guy who turned out to be Brock Rumlow.”
“I’ll kill him,” Nat and Clint snapped simultaneously.
“Steve broke his nose already,” Bucky said.
“Good job.” Clint nodded. “Where can we find him?”
“Steve told him to leave town. I don’t think he’ll be back.”
“James, why didn’t you call us?”
Bucky shrugged. “I wasn’t going to interrupt your honeymoon.”
“Jesus, Bucky. How are you now?”
“Fine, as long as there aren’t any more surprises.”
Natasha tilted her head. “Then you probably shouldn’t turn around.”
Of course Bucky quickly turned, and shouted again.
“Oh my god!”
“Surprise!” Wanda and Pietro exclaimed quietly.
They were standing by the kitchen door, holding their suitcases.
Bucky laughed and pulled them each into a hug.
“Sorry if we startled you,” Pietro said when Bucky released him.
“Don’t be, I’m just glad to see you guys.”
“Alright, so now that we’ve got that out of the way, tell us what happened with Brock and George,” Wanda instructed, sitting in the living room.
Bucky hesitated. “Don’t you want to relax? It’s late, and you’ve probably been in the car for forever…”
“Bucky, we have the next two weeks to relax. Please don’t worry about stressing us out.”
Bucky looked to Steve, who nodded.
“Almost a week ago, we were at Steve’s house, and Brock came to see him. Steve obviously didn’t know who he was, but Becca saw him and freaked out. He tried to tell Steve that I was lying about George, and Steve kinda threw him into the wall. He told me that George would be getting out of jail soon, and two days later I got a phone call telling me that someone appealed on his behalf and he’s out. I don’t know if it was Rumlow or his uncle, but either way, he’s out.”
Clint rested a hand on his shoulder gently. “We won’t let him get to Becca.”
“Or you,” Steve added.
Bucky nodded gratefully. “But enough about that. I want to hear about your trip. And school.”
They spent the next hour catching up, until Pietro fell asleep, leaning on Clint.
“We should head out. We’ll be over for breakfast at nine,” Natasha announced.
“You mean I have to wake up early and cook?” Bucky teased, holding the door for them.
Clint rolled his eyes. “Night everyone.”
Once they drove away, Bucky tried to wake Pietro so he could walk to his room.
“He’s out cold,” he said in annoyance.
Wanda snickered. ”I’d think you’d know by now that he doesn’t wake up easy.”
Bucky huffed. “It’s been awhile, give me a day or two.”
He ended the sentence with a grunt as he lifted Pietro into his arms.
“Jesus, how much does he eat?” Bucky said stiffly.
“A lot.” Wanda rolled her eyes. “I can’t believe you can lift him.”
Bucky snorted and looked at Steve, who seemed to be staring at him in something like shock. Bucky shook his head, realizing that Steve must’ve zoned out.
He managed to get Pietro into his bed without dropping him.
“I’m shot. Goodnight, Steve. Night, Bucky.”
Wanda kissed Bucky’s cheek and went into her room.
“Do you want me to go?” Steve asked after a moment.
Bucky bit his lip, hesitating. “Would you mind staying? I just feel worse with them in the house and-”
“You don’t have to explain yourself, Buck. I don’t mind at all.”
Bucky smiled tiredly. “Thank you, Steve. Do you want me to pull out the couch?”
Steve suddenly grabbed Bucky by his shoulders. “Barnes. Go the fuck to sleep.”
Bucky laughed and saluted. “Yes, Captain Rogers.”
Steve rolled his eyes.
Bucky woke up to the smell of bacon. He glanced at the clock, then jumped out of bed. It was ten-thirty.
He sprinted down the stairs and slid into the kitchen.
“Sorry I overslept,” he started.
He tilted his head looking around. Wanda and Pietro were sitting at the table drinking coffee.
“Where are Nat and Clint?”
“Not here yet. They were awake the whole drive yesterday,” Wanda said.
“Steve and I are making breakfast!” Becca declared.
Bucky looked to where the two of them were at the counter. Becca was standing on the step stool, Steve standing behind her, helping her measure ingredients.
“No problem. We’ve been having fun, right Becca?”
Becca giggled and flicked some flour at Steve.
“Hey, I told you what would happen if you did that again,” Steve said seriously.
Becca’s eyes widened, then she squealed and tried to run away. Steve caught her and began tickling.
“It’s been like this all morning,” Wanda said, smiling.
Bucky grinned, but it faded as he looked back to his little sister and Steve. Time seemed slow down as he watched Steve play with Becca, realization dawning one him. His eyes widened, mouth forming an ‘O’. Bucky saw Steve let Becca go, turning to smile at him.
“Bucky, you okay?”
Bucky was suddenly aware of Pietro waving his hand in front of his eyes.
He snapped out of his daze, looking at the twins, who were staring at him in knowing amusement.
“I...what? Yeah, I’m fine. Uh...you know what? I’m going to go get Nat and Clint. Yeah. I’ll be right back.”
He backed out of the kitchen slowly, and even though he didn’t look at Steve, he could feel the other man’s questioning gaze on him the whole time.
As soon as he was out the front door, Bucky sprinted to his friends’ house.
He banged on the door, then burst inside without waiting for an answer. He found Clint and Natasha in the living room, having woken up only a few minutes ago.
They stared at him in concern.
“I’minlovewithSteve,” he blurted quickly.
“You’re in llama’s eve?” Clint signed, squinting at him.
Nat tilted her head. “I didn’t catch that either.”
Bucky sighed, then took a deep breath.
“I’m in love with Steve.” He signed along this time.
Nat and Clint looked at each other.
“Congratulations, you’re officially the last person to know,” Natasha said drily.
“What!” Bucky yelled.
“Besides Steve, obviously.”
“James, honestly, I can’t believe you didn’t know. I mean, you trust him with everything, and I mean everything about your old life.”
Bucky sat and buried his face in his hands.
“What do I do now?” He groaned.
He looked up at Nat, who shrugged.
“It’s no different than what you’ve been feeling for god knows how long, just act normally.”
“Now, I’m starved, let’s go back to your place and get food.” Clint stood, offering Bucky a hand.
An hour later, they sat around the table, planning the day.
“We’re going to the mall first, right?” Wanda asked. “I really need to go shopping.”
“Sure. Then where?”
“Perfect. You in, Steve?”
Bucky and Steve both stared at Clint.
“I don’t want to barge in on your family day,” Steve said hesitantly.
“Come on, Steve!” Wanda exclaimed.
“Please, Stevie?” Becca asked.
Steve smiled and looked at Bucky.
Bucky shrugged. “You know you’re always welcome.”
Natasha winked at Bucky from behind Steve. Bucky stuck his tongue out at her.
It wasn’t until they were leaving the restaurant they had dinner at that disaster struck. It was seven o’clock and it was starting to get dark.
“You need to get your hearing aids checked, old man!”
“Joke’s on you, I’m not wearing my hearing aids!” Clint called, stepping into the street.
He turned back around to face the rest of the group, walking backwards.
“Besides, it’s not like-”
The rest of his sentence was drowned out by a car horn.
Since he wasn’t wearing his hearing aids, he didn’t hear it, but the rest of them did. To Bucky, everything happened in slow motion.
All of them were yelling at Clint to move, but he wasn’t understanding. Bucky watched as his Clint turned his head, registering the car. He felt Becca pulling his hand, he heard everyone screaming, the squealing of the car’s tires, and then suddenly there was a blur a movement from Bucky’s left, a thud, and a body sailing through the air, landing nearly ten feet from the car.
All at once, time resumed, and Bucky was sprinting over to Clint.
Only it wasn’t Clint lying spread-eagled in the road. It was Pietro. Clint was sitting on the opposite side of the road, stunned.
It took Bucky a moment to realize how it had happened, replaying the accident in his head- now he realized that the blur he had seen was Pietro, running to Clint and shoving him out of the way.
All of this had happened within thirty seconds, and Bucky was the first to reach the boy.
He was immensely relieved when he found a pulse, albeit faint, blood seeping from his head, and spreading across his abdomen.
Wanda suddenly let out a heartbreaking cry, dropping down next to her twin.
“He’s alive, but he needs help, now.”
“Someone call an ambulance!” Steve shouted.
“He saved my life,” Clint whispered.
“The bastard drove away,” Natasha yelled.
Bucky swore, trying to examine Pietro.
“Is Angie working today?” Clint asked Steve frantically.
“I-I don’t know, god, let me call.”
Steve dug out his phone, and dialed.
Within moments, he was speaking.
“Angie, wait, are you working today? ….Because Pietro was just by a car! ...ambulance is on its way...I don’t know- Bucky! What’s broken?”
“I don’t know!” Bucky cried. “Tell her he’s bleeding from his head and his stomach, and he’s not waking up.”
A strangled sob left Wanda.
“Becca, get back! Steve, keep her away!”
Two minutes later, the ambulance pulled in and Bucky was pulled away, and he took Becca from Steve.
“No!” Wanda screamed.
Clint caught her around the waist, holding her back as she struggled.
“Let me go!”
She ripped away from Clint, only to be held back by Nat.
“He needs you to stay calm, Wanda, let them help him.”
After a quick examination, the EMT’s loaded Pietro into the ambulance. Only one person could ride with him, and Clint volunteered.
Bucky counted every second it took until they were at the hospital. By the time they entered the waiting room, Wanda was nearly in hysterics.
“Wanda, they won’t let you in if you don’t calm down,” Steve said gently.
“You can’t tell me to calm down! You don’t understand, if he dies, I die!”
Steve just looked at her, and Bucky watched as she collapsed into his arms, sobbing.
Peggy came with Angie and took Becca home while they waited. The twin’s friends and their parents were there within half an hour.
“It’s my fault,” Clint whispered after the first hour of waiting.
Bucky opened his mouth to protest, but Wanda beat him to it.
“Please don’t blame yourself, Clint. It makes it so much worse.”
Clint nodded, then started crying again. Wanda took his hand and cried with him.
The second hour brought no change, other than people showing up to wait it out with them. The Commandos brought coffee, and Bucky didn’t question why or how they broke into his cafe. Wanda’s boyfriend, Jack, showed up, along with all of Bucky’s friends.
Pietro went into surgery in the third hour.
Bucky looked around and saw Jane, Tony, Pepper, Shuri, Daisy, Fitz, Maria, Sharon, and Sam fall asleep one by one as the fourth hour dragged by.
About half way into the fifth hour, Bucky jumped up when Sarah rushed into the room, looking frantic.
“Did you drive all the way here?”
Sarah pulled him into a hug. “Of course I did. How is he?”
“There’s no change. He’s still in surgery I think,” Steve said, hugging his mother.
“That poor boy.” Sarah shook her head and went over to hug Wanda.
“Did you know she was coming?” Bucky asked Steve.
Steve shook his head. “I thought she might, but not until tomorrow.”
Just then, a doctor came out, and everyone who was still awake looked towards him hopefully. He just shook his head.
“There’s still no change. He’s in surgery, and it’s very critical. He’s crashed twice.”
“How much longer?” Wanda asked softly.
“We don’t know. I’m sorry. He has severe head trauma, internal bleeding, many fractures, and he lost a lot of blood. He needs a transfusion, and we’re having a shortage. Does anyone have type A or O blood?”
Wanda, Steve, Sarah, Clint, and Jane all stood.
“How much does he need?”
“Twelve pints. I can only take two pints from each of you.”
“Angie has type O,” Steve said. “Ask her.”
The doctor nodded and brought the five of them into the back. Bucky began pacing.
Well into the seventh hour, the doctor came out again only to inform them that there was no change.
Bucky excused himself, and ran for the bathrooms. He splashed some cold water on his face, and jumped when he saw Steve behind him.
“Is it any good telling you to go home to sleep?”
“Not a chance in hell.”
“I thought as much. Do you want me to bring Becca to school tomorrow, or is she staying home?”
“Could you drive her? I don’t want to freak her out anymore than I have to.”
Steve nodded. “Of course. Keep me updated after I leave.”
“It’s two-thirty in the morning, do you want to go get a few hours of sleep?”
“Not a chance in hell,” Steve repeated Bucky’s words.
Bucky nodded, and then he began to cry. He had stayed strong as long as he could, but suddenly he couldn’t. He knew Steve wouldn’t judge him.
His knees gave out and he sat on the floor, sobbing.
Steve immediately sat next to him, grabbing his hand.
“We can’t lose him, Steve.”
“And you’re not going to,” Steve said gently.
“He crashed twice already! God, I should've been the one to get Clint-”
Steve suddenly grabbed Bucky by the shoulders.
“It shouldn’t have been any of you. That driver is the one to blame.”
Bucky made himself look at Steve and found that he was crying too. He nodded, and they sat there for awhile longer, waiting for the tears to stop.
When they collected themselves, they sat back in the waiting room. Bucky found more people asleep, including Sarah, Jack, T’Challa, Jemma, Lincoln, and Peter.
It was the ninth hour when the doctor came out and told them that Pietro was out of surgery.
“Can we see him?” Clint asked.
The doctor cleared his throat. “He’s out of surgery,” he repeated. “But he’s still asleep. We’re not sure when...or if...he’ll wake up.”
Wanda let out a dry sob.
“Please, can I see him?” She whispered.
“Let her see him, Donald,” Angie said, stepping into the room.
Bucky, Clint, and Nat stood.
“One at a time, I’m sorry,” Angie clarified.
She put a hand on Wanda’s back and led her through the doors.
Bucky didn’t know when he fell asleep, but suddenly he was waking up and it was light out.
“What time is it?”
“Eight. You’ve only slept for two hours.”
Nat was already shaking her head. “No. But you can go see him if you want.”
Bucky nodded and stood. Nat caught his hand.
“Just...he doesn’t look good. Don’t freak out.”
Bucky swallowed but nodded again.
“They let her stay in there since he’s a little more stable. Not much, but a bit.”
Bucky found the room easily and knocked softly.
Wanda glanced up to acknowledge him, then went back to looking at her brother.
Bucky caught his breath when he saw Pietro.
He was hooked up to a machine and IV’s going into his arms. His face was just a swollen, bruised mess. There were stitches on his forehead and arms, his right wrist was in a cast, and his left leg was elevated. All of his limbs were covered in angry bruises.
“They said that if he doesn’t wake up by Thursday, then he probably won’t wake up at all,” Wanda whispered after awhile.
“Other than the obvious things, he has three broken ribs, and one of them punctured a lung. There’s severe lacerations in one of his kidneys, and a lot of internal bleeding. He hit his head pretty hard, but I guess for once in his life his thick skull came in handy because by some miracle, he only has a minor concussion. If-when he wakes up,” she corrected herself. “When he wakes up, he should be able to make a full recovery eventually.”
“He’s strong, Wanda. He’ll get through this. Now I’m going to say something, don’t bite my head off.”
Wanda nodded skeptically.
“I think you should go rest.” He held up a hand before she could protest. “I will take you home for a few hours. You can shower, change, take a nap, and eat. You’re no good to him if you’re not helping yourself.”
Wanda started to protest, then sagged.
“Okay,” she whispered.
“Atta girl. We’ll send someone in to keep an eye on him, okay?”
A few hours later, Wanda was out cold on the couch, while Bucky dozed on the other. He jumped up when someone knocked and answered the door before they could wake Wanda.
“Hey, Steve. Come on in.”
“Hope I didn’t wake you.”
“I was just dozing, don’t worry about it. What’s up?”
“I figured I’d bring you guys lunch, and Natasha said you were here.”
Bucky ran a hand through his hair.
“Thanks, Steve. And thanks for taking Becca this morning. How was she?”
“She’s scared, but I told her I’d get her if anything changed.”
“Thank you so much.”
“I don’t mind at all. How’s he doing?”
“You saw him before you left, right?”
“No changes since then. We just have to hope he wakes up.”
“God, I should’ve done something,” Steve said suddenly.
“Hey, whoa whoa whoa, weren’t you the one telling me that it’s no one’s fault?”
Steve rubbed his neck. “Yeah, I guess.”
“Then listen to yourself. No matter what happened, one of us would be lying in that bed. Pietro just made the choice before any of us could.”
“That...was very well put.”
Bucky laughed softly.
Steve glanced at his watch. “Lunch break’s ending. I’ll pick Becca up, if that’s easier. And I can bring her by the hospital.”
“That’d be great. Thanks, Stevie.”
“Anytime, Buck. Keep me posted.”
Thursday came and went. Pietro didn’t wake up.
“Honey, you need to come home,” Natasha said gently.
“But what if he wakes up while I’m gone?”
Bucky, Nat, and Clint looked at each other. Wanda hadn’t been home since Monday, choosing instead to shower in the locker room and eat in the cafeteria.
“Wanda, you need to rest.”
“I’m not tired.”
“You have to be hungry.”
“You haven’t eaten all day.”
“I had a granola bar an hour ago.”
“That was at six this morning. It’s almost four o’clock.”
Bucky sighed. “Wanda, please, just for a few hours.”
“No! I am legally an adult. I can do what I want, and what I want is to stay here!” Wanda snapped.
“And everyone says...I’m the stubborn...one,” a voice rasped.
Bucky inhaled sharply and looked down at Pietro, who looked the same.
In fact, Bucky would have thought he had imagined it if not for the look on everyone’s face.
“Pietro?” Wanda whispered.
“Everything...hurts,” Pietro grunted. “Can’t open...my eyes.”
“Your face is pretty banged up,” Clint joked through tears.
“Wanda, press the call button!” Nat urged.
“Call button? Am I...in the hospital?” Pietro asked weakly.
“Don’t you remember what happened?”
“I remember...yelling, and Clint about to get hit...Jesus, I got hit by a car, didn’t I?”
Bucky laughed wetly. “You scared the hell out of us is what you did.”
“How long was I…” Pietro managed to open his eyes, but squinted against the brightness.
Before anything else could be said, the doctor came in and kicked everyone besides Wanda out.
Bucky sprinted into the waiting room, where everyone was once again gathered.
“He’s awake!” Bucky cried. “He woke up!”
There was an instant uproar. It took three nurses to remind everyone that this was a hospital and that they needed to be quiet.
“Where’s Becca?” Bucky asked Peggy.
“Steve took her to your house to get lunch.”
“Thanks, Peggy. I’m going to go get them, I’ll be back.”
She nodded, and Bucky sped home.
He opened the front door so quickly it slammed into the wall.
“Kitchen,” Steve called.
Bucky ran in.
“He woke up! Pietro, he’s awake, he started talking to us.”
Becca gasped and Steve let out a relieved laugh.
“Can we see him?”
“I don’t know, the doctors kicked us out and I came to find you. Let’s get back.”
It was an hour before the doctors let them back into the room, and Bucky took Becca with him.
Becca burst into tears when she saw Pietro sitting up with a tired smile on his face.
“Hey, it’s okay, princess. I’m okay now. Want to sit?” He patted the bed next to him.
Becca nodded, sniffling. Bucky gently helped her on the bed, and she immediately cuddled up to Pietro.
“So, what’d the doctors have to say?” Clint asked.
“I’m free to go once the concussion is gone and I can breathe without my ribs screaming.”
Bucky raised an eyebrow at Wanda.
“He should be out by Wednesday.”
“How do you feel?”
“Like I’ve been hit by a car,” Pietro joked.
“Not funny, kid. Why...why did you do that?” Clint asked quietly.
Pietro looked at him in confusion. “You’re my brother,” he said simply. “I love you. I was the only one fast enough to do anything, and I wasn’t just going to stand there and let it happen.”
Bucky saw the way Clint’s eyes misted over, and how he cleared his throat before shaking his head.
“Stupid bastard,” he muttered.
Chapter 17: So You Think You Can Dance
Here’s a light-hearted chapter to break up the angst
Pietro got out of the hospital Tuesday afternoon. He was in a wheelchair for the next month at least, but he was cleared to go back to college after the break. They spent the remaining five days together, letting the stress of the past week drain away.
Bucky volunteered to drive the twins back to school, but they declined.
Bucky reopened the cafe the following Monday. By that point, it had been closed for two weeks, and Bucky needed to restock most of his supplies.
Everything was back in order by Wednesday, and Bucky was swamped. Luckily, he had Nat and Clint back to help him, and he had learned his lesson while they were away. He needed more people, so he hired his uncles to help.
They already blatantly ignored the employees only signs, had spare keys, made coffee for people when Bucky was busy, and helped out a lot when Nat and Clint were on their honeymoon. It was just a matter of making it official.
“Barnes! You’ve got a visitor!” Gabe called into the kitchen.
Bucky handed his whisk to Clint and went into the main room. To his surprise, he found Peggy Carter waiting at the counter.
“Hey, Peggy. Is everything okay?”
“Yes, Becca’s fine. I’m just on my lunch break, so I assumed it would be a good time to talk to you.”
Bucky laughed. “So what’s up?”
“I was wondering if you catered.”
Bucky blinked in surprise. “Well, not usually, but I’m sure we could if you wanted. What’s the occasion?”
“I’m sure Becca or Steve told you about the dance-a-thon for the school fundraiser?”
“You happen to be the most popular cafe in town, and since it’s a twenty-four hour event I suggested we ask you to supply coffee for the adults and hot chocolate for the kids, and some food perhaps.”
She stared at Bucky expectantly.
“I...of course! It’s Saturday, right?”
Peggy nodded. “I hope it’s not too last minute.”
“Not at all. I just need to talk to Clint and Natasha, but I’m sure they’ll love it.”
“Perfect!” Peggy smiled. “If you’re not too busy, we can talk about your payment now.”
Bucky immediately shook his head.
“It’s a charity event, there’s no need-”
“Nonsense. If you don’t accept the money, I’ll have to find a place for that will.”
Bucky raised an eyebrow. “How about this. Instead of paying me, give the money to the school. Consider it a donation.”
Peggy looked at him appraisingly for a moment.
“I think I understand why you and Steve get along so well,” she said finally.
Bucky tilted his head, taken aback. “Why?”
“You’re both so benevolent,” Peggy muttered.
Bucky blinked, then chuckled, shaking his head.
“Send me a list of what you want us to bring and the time you want us there.”
Peggy smiled. “You’re a good man, Bucky Barnes. Thank you.”
Bucky felt himself blushing, but he grinned.
“Say hi to Angie for me.”
On Saturday, they had to be at the school by four-thirty in the morning to set up, and Becca fell back asleep on the bleachers while they got ready.
Nat and Clint were both participating in the dance-a-thon, meaning they had decided to sleep until they needed to be there.
The actual event started at six, and people who were still half asleep lined up as soon as they smelled coffee.
“You are a lifesaver,” Steve mumbled, appearing out of nowhere.
He snatched the half-empty cup from Bucky and took a sip.
“Hey! That was mine,” Bucky complained.
Steve shrugged. “You’ve probably had two already.”
Nat cuffed him on the head.
“Ouch! Fine, three.”
“No one likes a liar, Buck. This is mine now.”
“I’ve been up since four!”
“I didn’t go to bed until 2.”
“Steve wins, James. Pour yourself another cup and stop whining.”
Bucky sighed and made a face when Steve stuck his tongue out at him, but poured himself another cup. You don’t argue with Natasha.
Half an hour later, people were dancing around the gym, now more awake. Becca helped Bucky at the coffee station for awhile, then she found her friends and ditched him. He sat and watched Clint and Nat twirl around, and Steve came to sit with him.
“You know I can’t.”
“That’s true, I saw you at the wedding.”
Steve snorted. “Nothing says congratulations like falling into a table and knocking it over while completely sober.”
“At least you didn’t knock over the cake.”
“Yeah, but it was a close call.”
“Shut up, Barnes.”
Every two and a half hours, the dancers got a ten minute break, meaning every two and a half hours, Bucky was swamped with exhausted dancers.
At two in the afternoon, Bucky called Dugan to bring more coffee. It was nine o’clock when the DJ spoke up.
“For the next song, there’s been a request. Dancers, without stopping, please make some room in the middle of the floor. Would James and Becca Barnes please come on out?”
Bucky startled, glancing at Steve, then rolling his eyes.
“Really, Natalia?” He called.
He saw her smirk. “You need to wake up a little!”
He glared at her, but nevertheless took Becca’s hand and led her to the center of the floor.
The first strains of ‘Sing, Sing, Sing,’ began, and Bucky led his sister into Ma’s dance.
They effortlessly went through the steps, and when the song came to an end, the gym was filled with cheers.
Bucky and Becca took a bow, then went back over to the coffee station.
“I always forget how well you two do that.”
Buck grinned. “Years of practice on my part, pure talent on hers.”
At three in the morning, the remaining dancers were sluggishly moving around the floor, most leaning on each other so they didn’t fall over.
Becca and her friends were out cold on the bleachers, and Bucky had seen Steve cover them all with a large blanket.
He fell asleep around three-thirty only to be woken by Nat and Clint ten minutes later.
“Please take our place for half an hour,” Clint begged.
“Stand up. Take our cards and dance for half an hour. We’re exhausted, we need twenty minutes to nap, then ten for coffee, food, and bathroom.”
“Can I do that?”
Clint nodded, gesturing to two other couples on the floor who were slightly more energized than the rest.
“I need a partner then.”
“We weren’t just talking to you,” Natasha yawned.
Bucky looked to his left and saw Steve blinking at them sleepily.
“Fine. But nothing fast, I don’t wanna accidentally kick anyone,” Steve muttered.
“Alright,” Bucky agreed.
The two of them took the cards and walked out to the floor.
“Don’t get us eliminated,” Nat called after them sleepily.
Bucky was suddenly wide awake when Steve took one of Bucky’s hands in his own, putting the other on Bucky’s shoulder. Bucky put his hand lightly on Steve’s waist and slowly began to spin them around.
“You’re such a liar,” Bucky said after five minutes.
“What’d I do?”
“You keep saying you can’t dance.”
“I really can’t. Besides, you’re leading.”
“But you’re good at this,” Bucky protested.
“Fine, I’m good at slow dancing. I may have taken a class when I was seventeen, as per my mother’s instructions. I just don’t like doing it in front of people. Anyway, I’m sure I’m going to step on your toes at some point, so heads up.”
Bucky snorted. “I don’t care. I taught Clint how to dance for his wedding, my feet were bruised for a week.”
A little later, a new, faster song came on.
“Don’t you dare, Barnes.”
“I won’t let you hurt anyone, Rogers. Just follow my lead.”
Bucky pulled Steve into a quicker dance, twisting them around and spinning Steve, pulling him in before he knocked into Peggy and Angie.
By the time the song ended, both he and Steve were breathless with laughter.
“That wasn’t too bad,” Steve said.
“You didn’t even step on my foot.”
“I hit you in the nose, Bucky.”
Bucky laughed again. “Yeah, that hurt. How did you do that?”
Fifteen minutes later, Natasha and Clint came over to relieve them. Bucky took one look at the glint in Nat’s eye and understood why she had made him dance.
“What?” She asked innocently.
“You know what.”
“You had fun, didn’t you?”
Bucky sighed. “Yes. But I do wish you’d let it go. He doesn’t like me like that.”
Natasha smacked his head before she started dancing again.
“You’re so oblivious, James.”
“I’m realistic, Natalia.”
Natasha rolled her eyes.
At six o’clock Sunday morning, an air horn blew, signaling the end of the event and startling many people awake.
Peggy groggily headed towards the stage and took the microphone. She yawned before speaking.
“Congratulations to all of the people left standing! This has been a….a long….” Peggy trailed off, head drooping.
Bucky watched Steve hurry up to the stage and help Peggy sit before taking the microphone.
“As Principal Carter was saying, it’s been a long twenty-four hours, and we want to thank everyone who participated. Let’s get a round of applause for everyone left standing! Pepper Potts and Tony Stark, Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton, Melinda May and Phil Coulson, and of course, Angie Martinelli and our very own Principal Carter!”
People clapped and cheered, but with the effort of people who want to go home and sleep.
“Also, we want to give a special thanks to Bucky Barnes, who supplied the coffee.”
The claps and cheers were significantly more energetic. Bucky smiled and waved a hand. Steve caught his eye and smiled.
“One last thing before you go home. Tonight we raised over ten thousand dollars for our school! Thank you all for your donations. Now go home and sleep!”
People slowly flooded the exits. Bucky was separated from his friends, but he found them in front of the stage, with Steve holding a sleeping Becca. Clint and Nat were pretty much sleeping standing up, leaning on each other so they didn’t fall. Angie was sitting next to Peggy, both out cold.
“Alright, how are we getting them home?”
“I don’t want any of them driving,” Bucky said. “Peggy and Angie can stay at my house, neither of us should drive that far either.”
Steve nodded. “I can drive them there, you take Nat and Clint home?”
“Sure.” Bucky looked at the two women, then nudged Clint. “Get Becca in the car. Don’t drop her please.”
Clint nodded tiredly as Steve handed him Becca.
Bucky clambered on the stage and effortlessly hefted Angie into his arms.
“You get Peggy?”
Steve blinked at Bucky then shook himself and followed suit.
They carried the two women out to Steve’s car, and they quickly cleaned up the coffee station. Ten minutes later, Bucky has dropped off Natasha and Clint at their house and stumbled up to his house. Steve was leaning against the front door.
“Locked,” he mumbled.
“Oh, god. Sorry.” Bucky pulled out his keys and quickly opened the door.
“Should we pull out the couch?”
“No, they can have my room. Do you mind getting Becca into bed while I get it set up?”
“Not at all.”
Once Bucky has put clean sheets on the bed, he closed the curtains to shut out the beginnings of the sunrise and ran downstairs to grab Angie. He found Steve asleep on the couch. He just smiled and took two trips to bring the women upstairs.
“Steve, get up, come on,” Bucky whispered, shaking Steve.
Steve muttered in his sleep and swatted at Bucky.
“Come on, Rogers, get your ass up.”
Steve cracked open one eye.
“Stand up, you’re not sleeping on my couch again. That’s my bed today.”
Steve wrinkled his nose but stood up, allowing Bucky to lead him into Pietro’s room.
Steve collapsed on the bed, out cold once again. Bucky snorted and shut the door quietly before shutting himself in the living room and falling asleep on the couch without bothering to pull out the bed.
Bucky woke up nine hours later, somehow feeling rested. He followed the sound of TV into the family room, where he found Becca eating a bowl of cereal on the couch.
“It’s almost five o’clock, Bucky.”
Bucky yawned, stretching. “How long have you been awake?”
Bucky stared at her. “And you didn’t wake anyone?”
Becca shrugged. “I went into your room but Principal Carter was in there with Doctor Martinelli. I found you in the living room, and you were snoring loud. Everyone was up for a long time.”
“Have you eaten much?”
“I had Lucky Charms for breakfast, oatmeal for lunch, and these Golden Grahams are my dinner.”
“It’s all I can make!” She said indignantly. “ ‘sides, I also had an apple.”
“Alright, how about I make you a real dinner.”
Becca nodded eagerly.
“Am I the only one awake?”
“Yep. I’ve been real quiet.”
“Thanks, Becca-Girl. How do pancakes sound for dinner?”
It was half an hour before Peggy came downstairs.
“Good morning,” she yawned.
“It’s five-thirty, Principal Carter,” Becca giggled.
Peggy’s eyes widened. “Oh gracious, I’m terribly sorry, Bucky. We’ve quite overstayed our welcome.”
“Not at all, Peggy. I only woke up half an hour ago, and Steve’s still sleeping.”
“Well, thank you for letting us stay here, though I’m embarrassed to say I have no clue how we got here.”
Bucky smiled, slipping some bacon on a plate for her. “You and Angie fell asleep once the marathon ended so Steve and I brought you here.”
“And you gave us your room?”
Bucky shrugged. “Of course. You’re guests.”
“And where is Steve sleeping?”
“In Pietro’s room.”
“And you slept…”
Bucky rubbed the back of his neck at Peggy’s piercing gaze.
“On the couch. But that’s okay, I really don’t mind.”
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You’re a wonderful man, Bucky.”
Bucky jumped when someone else spoke up.
“I’ll agree to that. Coffee?”
“Same place it always is, Steve. Sleep well?”
Steve nodded. “Didn’t mean to fall asleep here, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Why’d you move me off of the couch?”
“Because whenever you crash here you sleep on the couch.”
“So you’re telling me you slept on the couch?”
“That’s not what I said at all,” Bucky dodged the question, placing a plate of pancakes in front of Steve.
“No, but you did.”
Bucky rolled his eyes. “So?”
Steve huffed and shook his head. “What time is it anyway?”
“Angie still sleeping?”
“I’m right here,” Angie yawned, stepping into the kitchen.
She kissed Peggy on the cheek and stole her coffee.
“Thank you so much for letting us stay here, Bucky.”
“It was no problem.”
Bucky saw Angie roll her eyes at Peggy, but he ignored it.
It was three weeks before things went downhill.
Chapter 18: The Return of the Shithead
Late May 2018
“Monty, just because you work here now doesn’t mean you can have free food!”
“Me! I’m the owner!”
“You can’t boss me around, boy, I changed your diapers.”
“Monty,” Bucky sighed tiredly.
“Can I get free food?” Steve leaned across the counter, grinning at Bucky.
“No! You don’t even work here!”
“No, but I know the owner. Doesn’t that count for something?”
Bucky thudded his head on the counter as Steve and the Commandos laughed at him. The bell rang and he shoved everyone away.
“Go take your breaks, I can’t deal with all of you ganging up on me.”
Bucky made a face at them so they knew he was kidding.
Bucky put his rag down and turned to the customer.
“Welcome to Howlies, what can I get y-”
Bucky did a double take, stumbling backwards.
“You...what the hell are you doing here?” He whispered, eyes wide.
He crossed out from behind the counter.
“I want my daughter,” George demanded.
“No. You’re breaking your parole by being here, I’m calling the police.”
By some miracle, Bucky managed to keep his voice relatively steady.
“Don’t even think about it.”
Bucky could smell the beer on his breath.
“Since when do you tell me what to do?” George sneered.
“Everything okay?” Steve asked uncertainly, coming up to stand next to Bucky.
“None of your business,” George growled.
“No, it’s not okay,” Bucky said at the same time. “Steve, call the police.”
“What’s going on?”
Bucky felt himself begin to shake, and his chest was becoming tight. He leaned on Steve slightly, who immediately put an arm around him to steady him.
“This is a private matter, dumbass, go away.” George reached out and shoved Steve back.
Steve barely stumbled, but anger filled Bucky.
“Hey!” Bucky yelled.
“What the hell!” Steve said. “Do you know him, Buck?”
Bucky glared at George. “Steve, this is George.”
Bucky watched realization fly across Steve’s face, quickly followed by rage, before his fist flew out, clipping George on the side of his jaw.
“You son of a bitch!”
The Commandos came rushing up.
“What is God’s name is going on here?” Dum Dum cried.
“You bastard!” He shouted, lunging for George.
Bucky held him back, trying to stop the other three men from attacking. Once he managed to push them back, he turned to George.
“How did you find me?”
“You ran into a friend of mine last month, don’t you remember?”
Bucky grunted. “Rumlow.”
“Alexander Pierce’s nephew, that’s right.”
“Don’t come near me again.”
George scoffed. “Oh, really? You think you can tell me what to do?”
Bucky stood straight. “Yes.”
“Don’t be stupid. Give me the girl.”
“You worthless piece of shit, don’t you get it? No one cares about you! You don’t matter. Rebecca is better off without some queer raising her.”
“You mean she’s better off with an abusive asshole who’s tearing her away from everyone she loves,” Steve growled.
“She’s five, what does she know?”
“She’s eight!” Everyone snapped.
“Well maybe I would’ve known that if this little bastard hadn’t taken her away from me!”
With that, he lunged at Bucky, knocking him back into the counter.
Bucky cried out as George gripped his bad shoulder.
“Do you know that it’s your fault? You’re the reason I drink so much? And you’re the reason your idiot mother kicked me out. I’m going to kill you. And one day I’ll kill that little brat too.”
Before Bucky could respond, George was ripped off of him.
He watched in horror as George punched Steve in the face, sending him reeling backwards into the wall.
Bucky saw red and the next thing he knew he had George pinned to the wall, left hand at his throat, right hand fisted in his shirt, holding him completely off the ground.
“You have fucked up my life long enough. You hurt my little sister, and now you’ve broken my best friend’s nose. You are not my father. You are not Becca’s father. You are a stranger who is not welcome here.”
“I...raised...you…” George rasped out, eyes wide.
“No you didn’t. Winifred Barnes and her family raised me. My new family and I are raising Becca. All you ever did was hurt us. Now get the hell out of here and don’t come back. If I ever see you again I will send you back to jail so fast your head will spin.”
He carefully released George, letting him stumble onto the floor. George stared at him for a moment before snarling and leaping at him again.
This time, however, Gabe and Monty caught his arms while Dum Dum grabbed his legs. They carried him, kicking and screaming, out the door, where they quite literally threw him out. They slammed the door, locked it, and drew the shades.
Bucky’s legs finally gave out and Steve caught him, supporting him over to the chairs.
“Panic attack?” Steve asked quietly, rubbing his back.
Bucky shook his head, controlling his breathing.
It was five minutes of dead silence before Bucky spoke up.
“I knew he’d find me.”
“It’s my fault. If I hadn’t brought Rumlow back into your life…”
Bucky was already shaking his head.
“He would’ve found me anyway. It was just a matter of time.”
“We’re reporting him to the police. They’ll catch him, Bucky,” Monty said.
“He’s going to hurt Becca.”
“He won’t. We’ll make sure he doesn’t hurt her.”
“I just got off the phone with Coulson. He said he’s coming down himself.” Gabe announced, coming back from the kitchen.
“Doesn’t he have more important cases?”
“Maybe, but you’re his friend.”
Within five minutes, there was a knock at the door. Monty peeked through the shade before unlocking the door and letting Coulson in. He was followed by Melinda, Sharon, and Maria.
“Did he hurt anyone?” Melinda asked immediately.
“I think he broke my nose,” Steve said softly.
Bucky looked at him for the first time since George left and was surprised to see blood still dripping from his nose, a few napkins held to it.
Sharon inspected it, then suddenly grabbed his nose and set it.
Steve yelled and jumped away.
“Don’t be a baby, you’re fine.”
Steve glared at her and rubbed his nose.
“Okay, what exactly happened?” Coulson asked.
“I was behind the counter, kinda distracted I guess, and I heard the door open. I didn’t look up until I asked what he wanted, and when I realized it was him I asked what he was doing here and I came to the other side of the counter. He told me he wanted Becca, and I told him no, and that I would call the police because he’s breaking his parole. He said ‘don’t even think about it,’ so I told him to leave. Steve came up to us then, and George kept telling him to go away, and when he didn’t George shoved him. When I told Steve who he was, Steve punched him. My uncles came up then, and I found out that George found me because of an old acquaintance of mine, Brock Rumlow. George shoved me into the counter and threatened to kill me and Becca. Steve pulled him off of me and George punched him in the nose. I managed to pin him to the wall, but when I let him go he came at me again. My uncles caught him and threw him out.”
Bucky took a breath.
“You said that he was breaking his parole?” Maria asked.
Bucky nodded. “He’s not supposed to be near or contact Becca or me.”
Before anyone could ask anything else, the door slammed open. In the blink of an eye all four police officers had their guns drawn and pointed at the door, and Bucky found himself shoved behind Steve.
To his left he saw his uncles each armed with a large kitchen knife. Once the initial panic had passed he saw Clint with his hands up, eyes wide, protectively standing in front of Natasha who had her back to them, bending over to shield Becca.
There was a collective sigh of relief as they were recognized.
“James! Are you okay? Oh god, Steve, your nose!”
“He’s gone, then?” Clint asked quietly, putting a hand on Bucky’s arm.
“Actually, we’re going to look for him now. Chances are he’s gone, but if he’s not, we’ll get him.”
Two hours of searching later and no trace of George.
Steve slept at Bucky’s house since Bucky had never gotten the alarm system, and it became a routine for the next two weeks.
“Jesus Christ, Bucky!” Clint cried on their way to the bar to meet their friends. “You two are practically married!”
“We are not!”
“James, you live together.”
“No we don’t! He’s spent two weeks at my house. That’s all.”
Natasha growled in frustration. “I swear, you two are the densest people I have ever met. Worse than Clint!”
“Hey! ...that’s fair,” Clint said.
“Just…let me be, please. I like having him as a friend, I don’t want to lose him.”
“I call DD tonight,” Nat said before they got out of the car.
Bucky and Clint squinted at her.
“I don’t feel like drinking tonight. I promised Becca I’d take her to get things for the twins’ coming home party tomorrow and I don’t want a hangover at the mall.”
“Whatever you say. You know I’m not drinking anyways if you change your mind.”
Three hours later and Steve, Natasha, Pepper, and Bucky were the only sober ones.
“So, are the twins excited to come home?”
“I think so. They like it at college but I know they miss it here,” Nat said.
“Of course. And Wanda’s boyfriend lives around here, right?”
Bucky nodded. “Half an hour east.”
“She must be happy about that. But that reminds me. Natasha, does Wanda know?” Pepper asked, looking Nat in the eye.
Nat raised an eyebrow. “No one else knows. She’ll guess, I’m sure. I figured you and the rest of the girls would guess tonight. What about you, does Tony know?”
Pepper shook her head, smiling. “I’m telling him tomorrow, after his hangover’s gone.”
Bucky looked at Steve, then back to the girls.
“I’m so confused.”
“Boys are so oblivious,” Pepper said, rolling her eyes.
“Just because you don’t tell us things doesn’t make us oblivious,” Steve protested.
“Especially you two boys. You two are utterly hopeless.”
“Honestly, it’s getting a bit annoying.”
“What are we doing?” Steve and Bucky asked at the same time.
The two women just looked at each other at the same time, rolling their eyes.
“Hey, guys! Guys, you gotta...gotta come dance! We wanna dance!” Clint slurred, proceeding to turn green and throw up on someone’s shoes.
“Aaaand that’s our cue. Let me know after you’ve talked to Tony, Pepper.”
“Will do. I’d better get him home anyways. Night guys.”
The three of them said their goodbyes and helped a singing Clint out to the car.
Chapter 19: Nightmares Coming True
Two days later, Bucky’s worst fears came true.
“So, how’s your summer going?”
“You just saw me to days ago, Steve,” Bucky laughed.
Steve rubbed the back of his neck. “Hey, you never know, something could’ve changed.”
“Well, you already know about Nat, so not much. Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”
Steve looked insanely nervous.
Steve’s eyes widened. “Uh…”
He quickly took a bite of his lunch.
“Steve, what’s wrong?”
Steve sighed. “Well...I wanted to talk to you.”
“Should I be worried?”
“No! I mean, I hope not. Just...okay, look. I have to tell you something.” He took a deep breath. “I-”
Before Steve could finish, Bucky’s phone went off.
“Sorry, that’s the house. Just let me check in?” Bucky looked at Steve guiltily.
Steve nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, of course.”
Bucky nodded slightly and answered.
“Hey, Wanda. Everything okay?”
“Becca? What’s up, kiddo?”
“He’s in the house! He just came in! Wanda told me to run and I did but I’m so scared-”
Becca sounded panicked, but she was only talking in a whisper.
Bucky felt himself pale. “Becca, slow down. What’s going on? Who’s in the house?”
Steve looked at him, an eyebrow raised.
Bucky put the phone on speaker.
“It’s him! It’s Dad! He came in the house and Wanda told him to leave and he hit her but he started fighting him and told me to run. The back door was locked and I couldn’t get out!”
Bucky and Steve locked eyes. Bucky felt as though his chair had been ripped from underneath him.
“Oh god, Jesus, okay. Becca-Girl, where are you now?”
“In Pietro’s room.”
Bucky nodded, trying to breathe.
“Can you get out of the window?”
“I think so.” Becca was obviously terrified.
“It’s locked, how do I open it?”
“Right on top, there’s a little switch. Pull it towards the curtain.”
Panic flowed through Bucky. He was trying hard to stay calm for Becca, but it wasn’t working. Steve reached out and took his shaking hand.
“Wanda just screamed and there was a loud crash!”
“Okay, sweetie, get under the bed. Now!”
“Yes. Are you under?”
“Don’t make any noise. At all. We’re staying on the phone, but don’t let him know where you are.”
“Okay. I’m scared!”
“I know, kiddo. We’re going to get you, don’t worry. It’s going to be okay.”
All Bucky could hear was Becca’s breathing and the pounding of his heart. Then suddenly there was the sound of a door hitting the wall and a hitch in Becca’s breathing.
“Shhhh, we’re here. Don’t make a sound.”
“Where’d you go, you little bitch?” Bucky heard George roar.
He inadvertently squeezed Steve’s hand tighter. Steve glanced at him, Bucky’s own panic mirrored on his face.
They heard the door slam again, and Becca sighed.
“I think he’s gone-AHHH!”
She let out an ear splitting scream.
“Becca! Becca, what happened? Becca!”
“Who’s on the phone, brat? You’re worthless brother?”
Becca started sobbing. It was far, as though she had been pulled from the phone, then got louder.
“I told you I’d get my daughter back.”
The line went dead.
Bucky looked wildly between Steve and the phone.
“He got her. Steve, he got Becca!”
“I know. We’ve got to go, we’ll take my bike, it’s faster. Where is everyone?”
Bucky shook his head. “Uh, working. We need police, I have to call the police.”
“Okay. We’ll call the police, come on.”
“He’s got her, Steve.”
“Look at me, Buck,” Steve said firmly.
Bucky looked at Steve and he could see that he was just as scared as Bucky.
“We will get her back. I swear to you.”
The front door was cracked open when they got there, and Bucky pushed it in. He looked to the living room, where Wanda was laying on the ground, unmoving.
They ran over.
“Wanda, hey, wake up.”
Her head was bleeding, but she began to stir.
Bucky let out a breath of relief. “Thank god. Wanda, hey, you’re okay.”
Her eyes snapped open. “Becca!”
Bucky bit back a gasp. “Can you sit up?”
“Bucky, he came for her!”
“We know, Wanda. Easy.” Steve put a hand on her back.
“Is she going to be okay?”
Bucky looked at Steve, and Wanda cried out softly.
“He got her.”
“It’s my fault!
“Hey, it is not your fault, understand? You tried to give her time.”
Wanda nodded and began to cry.
“How bad did he hurt you?”
She shook her head.
“I tried to fight him off, I was scratching his face, and I used what Natasha taught me, but he managed to grab my hair. He slammed my head into the wall and that’s all I remember.”
“Probably a concussion. We’ll get you to the hospital soon.”
Wanda shook her head, then turned green. She stood and bolted for the bathroom.
Bucky bowed his head.
“What am I supposed to do?”
He glanced at Steve, but Steve was looking st the ground.
“I don’t know, Bucky. But we’re going to do everything we can.”
Once the initial shock had worn off, they began to plan. Everyone met at Bucky’s house.
“Bucky, I hate to say it, but you know him best.”
Bucky nodded and Melinda continued.
“Do you think he’s taking her back to Boston, or would he stay somewhere local?”
Bucky thought. “Honestly, I doubt he would take her back to Boston. He doesn’t have a house there anymore. I called my lawyer, and she said he was had rented a house in Jersey. Since he’s on parole, I doubt he’d go back there either, just in case someone checked in.”
“So you think he’s somewhere local?”
“I think he’s stupid enough to stay where I can find him, yeah.”
Maria wrote this down on a notepad. “Do you have any pictures of him?”
“I have one, Clint can you-”
Clint was already heading for the attic. He came back moments later and handed a small picture to Sharon.
It took two more hours of questions and calls before they narrowed down George’s location to a two mile radius an hour away from them.
“We can't just burst in,” Coulson warned. “We don’t know what the situation is.”
“Well what are we going to do, then?” Bucky growled.
“We’re all on your side, James,” Natasha said gently.
“I know, I know, I’m sorry.”
“Our best bet is to send two people up to the front door that he won’t recognize, then, depending on the situation, we’ll go from there.”
“Clint and I can go to the door.”
“But he knows you.”
“He won’t recognize us.”
“Didn’t you live with him for a year?”
“When we were fourteen, and he was drunk almost every night.”
Coulson sighed. “Alright. We’ll get you a comms unit.”
A tense drive later, they were parked around the corner from the location.
Bucky waited in a van with Steve, Maria, Melinda, and Sharon. Coulson had stayed behind with the twins to take Wanda to the hospital.
They watched the small screen anxiously as Natasha knocked. They had fitted her with a nearly undetectable body cam. It took a few moments for the door to swing open, and a very drunk George appeared. He had angry red scratches across his face, a black eye, and a split lip.
“Hello, we’re moving in across the street, and we wanted to introduce ourselves.”
“Becca’s there,” Bucky said.
“How can you tell?”
“See Nat signing? She said it’s okay, stay quiet.”
“Becca can sign?”
“We’re teaching her.”
“What happened to his face?”
“I think Wanda did that.”
“Natasha, can you hear me?”
Natasha signed yes.
“What are you doing with your hands?” George barked.
“My husband is deaf, I’m just signing what I’m saying. This is a lovely house.”
“Tell us where Becca is.” Maria instructed into the comms.
Natasha shifted, and the camera showed the side of Becca.
Send someone through the back door, we’ll keep him distracted. Nat signed.
“Send me,” said Steve.
“Are you sure you have the right-”
“Don’t say no just because I’m not a cop.”
“I was going to say temperament,” Sharon answered smoothly. “You tend to fight anyone who pisses you off.”
“Not while Becca’s in danger. Send me.” Steve said softly.
Melinda nodded. “Go.”
About two minutes later, they could see Steve creeping into the living room.
She’s tied up, Steve’s trying to get her out.
Bucky felt his stomach turn, and he took a few deep breaths.
“Nat says she’s tied up, and Steve’s trying to get her out.”
We’re losing his attention, you need to do something.
“We need another distraction.” Bucky thought for a moment. “Let me draw him out.”
“No,” Maria said immediately.
“Wait, that might work,” Melinda mused.
“You can drive up, and get him angry. Ignore Nat and Clint, and make sure to draw him out.”
Bucky nodded, and they explained the plan to Natasha and Clint. They were to run back to the van when he showed up.
A moment later, Bucky was pulling in front of the house with the smaller car.
He got out and slammed the door.
“You bastard!” He yelled.
George squinted, then shouted wordlessly.
Natasha and Clint ran as he stormed out of the house.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” He slurred.
“I came for my sister.”
“Well you’ll never find her, because she’s not here.”
Bucky raised an eyebrow. “She’s not?”
“Where is she, then?”
“None of your damn business! Now go away!”
“Why don’t you make me?”
George sneered at him. “Gladly.”
For someone so drunk, he was surprisingly steady on his feet. George landed a hard blow on Bucky’s jaw before he could prepare, sending him stumbling backwards.
Bucky steadied himself, blocking the next swing and landing a punch on George’s stomach. George doubled over, and Bucky shoved him to the ground, pinning him down.
“You ruined my life,” he growled quietly. “I have trust issues. I have nightmares. I have permanent damage in my arm. I hated myself until my family and friends convinced me that I wasn’t worthless, that people do care about me. But I hate you most of all because of what you put Becca through.”
Bucky’s voice gradually rose until he was shouting.
“She didn’t have a chance to grow up before you traumatized her. I had to raise her, and I was sixteen. You beat me constantly, and I had to raise a baby at the same time! Why wasn’t I enough for you? Why do you hate me so much?”
George glared up at him silently.
Bucky felt someone touch his shoulder and he whipped around wildly, calming only when he found Melinda.
“We’ve got him from here. Becca’s in the van,” Maria said.
Bucky glared down at George one last time before climbing off of him.
He all but sprinted back to the van, where he found the other five people.
All Bucky saw was a blur as Becca launched herself at him. He fell to his knees and caught her, feeling the tears streaming down his face.
“I’m so sorry, Becca-Girl. I’m so sorry,” he whispered.
Becca nodded into his shoulder, sobbing.
“Did he hurt you?”
Becca nodded again, and Bucky fought the urge to return to George and murder him.
Instead, he pulled Becca back and inspected her. There was a large bruise forming on her cheek, and rope burn around her wrists and ankles.
“I was hiding under the bed, like Steve told me to, and then the door shut so I thought he left, but then he grabbed my ankles and pulled me out! I was fighting but he pulled my hair hard and it really hurt. When we got here I was still fighting so he punched me in the face and tied me up.”
Suddenly, she gasped.
“Is Wanda okay?”
“She’s going to be fine, angel. I just talked to Mr. Coulson and he said she’s home from the hospital.”
“How about we go home, squirt? We’ll get you checked out and we’ll get you some ice cream.”
“I think we all need some ice cream after that,” Bucky muttered.
Chapter 20: Bucky Learns About Women and Other Things
Bucky found out just how strong the bonds that women formed could be in late July. It started just as he and Wanda were about to leave the mall.
“Will you tell me what Nat’s hiding?”
Wanda rolled her eyes. “Bucky, she’s going to tell you soon. She doesn’t even know that I know. Well, actually, she knows, but we haven’t actually talked about it.”
Bucky groaned. “Why are women so secretive?”
“Why are men so oblivious?” Wanda countered. “It’s honestly the most obvious...thing…” Wanda trailed off, staring at the food court.
“Wanda? What’s the matter?”
She had gone pale and looked like she was going to puke. Bucky waved a hand in front of her face and she blinked.
“I’ll be right back. I need you to promise me that you’ll stay here no matter what.”
“I-what? What’s going on?”
“Bucky, please,” Wanda said, slightly desperate. “I’m embarrassed enough. Just stay here, okay?”
“Uh...okay? What are you-”
But Wanda was already walking away.
Bucky sat at the closest table as he watched her order a shake from one of the vendors. He saw her point to something near him and the vendor's face turn sympathetic as she turned around and made Wanda another large shake. She shook her head when Wanda tried to give her money and Bucky was utterly lost as Wanda walked back towards him.
She stopped at a table with two people; a girl facing Bucky, and a guy facing away from him. Bucky could just make out what was being said.
“Hi, I’m Wanda!” She said, plastering a smile on.
Bucky watched in confusion as the guy shrank down.
“Um, I’m Mary?”
“It’s so nice to meet you! You must be his sister.”
The girl-Mary-raised an eyebrow. “No.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, his cousin?”
“No, I’m his girlfriend.”
Wanda tilted her head. “Oh, really? And how long have you two been together?”
“Four months, but I don’t understand -”
“Four months? Wow, because our six month anniversary is next week! At least, it would be. I’m his now ex-girlfriend. In case it’s not perfectly clear, Jack, we’re through. You’re a cheating, lying asshole. Don’t talk to me again.”
Wanda stood and dumped one of the shakes on top of the guy’s head.
Bucky was filled with anger when he recognized the guy as Jack, Wanda’s boyfriend; ex-boyfriend, now.
“Mary, I suggest you dump him too, but that’s just my opinion.”
Wanda stalked back over to Bucky.
“Let me kill him.”
Bucky advanced and he saw Jack take a few steps back, eyes wide in fear. He bumped into Mary, who shoved him forward.
“Bucky, no.” Wanda grabbed his arm.
“Please, can we just go home?”
Bucky was about to protest again when he saw Wanda’s face; un-shed tears filling her eyes.
“Alright. Come on.”
He threw his best murder-glare at Jack and watched him practically piss himself before turning away.
Bucky and Wanda turned back to see Mary rushing towards them.
“Wanda, I’m sure you don’t want to talk to me, but I swear, I had no clue. I am so, so sorry. I never would’ve- I’m not that kind of person.”
Wanda glanced at Jack, who was now covered in the second shake, and fries, and she nodded.
“I believe you.”
Mary shook her head. “I’m so sorry. It’s just,” she bit her lip. “He drove me here, and I don’t have anyone, and I know it’s a horrible thing to ask but do you think you could give me a ride?”
Wanda took a breath. “Of course. He was cheating on you, too. You don’t need to apologize anymore, it wasn’t your fault.”
Mary gave a tentative smile. “Thank you, so much.”
Wanda nodded. “This is my older brother, Bucky.”
Bucky smiled. “Hi. Mary, right?”
Mary shrugged. “You can call me MJ.”
“MJ? Do you go to SHIELD?”
MJ nodded. “Yeah. I think I’ve seen you around campus. You have a twin, right?”
“Yeah, Pietro. I’ve heard about you. Peter Parker, he’s mentioned you.”
“Oh, Peter. Yeah, we were lab partners. He’s nice.”
As they reached Bucky’s car, Wanda turned to MJ.
“So, I totally get it if you want me to leave you alone, but do you maybe want to come over? I think we have ice cream.”
MJ smiled. “That would be great.”
“Good. And if you don’t mind I’m going to have my older sister come over.”
“Not at all. But...why are you being so nice to me? I was dating your boyfriend.”
Wanda turned around in her seat. “Like I said. You didn’t know. And just because I was with him longer doesn’t mean he wasn’t cheating on you too. I mean, he convinced my whole family he was a good guy.”
“You may want to hold off on telling Clint and Pietro if you don’t want to testify in court,” Bucky added, turning into their neighborhood.
“That’s true. I’m surprised you didn’t do anything, Bucky.”
“You asked me not to, and you’re upset. I didn’t want to make it worse.”
Wanda sniffed. “Just wait until something like this happens to Becca.”
Bucky stiffened. “She is not dating until she’s thirty.”
Wanda laughed wetly. “Nat and I are going to fight you on that.”
“Is Becca you’re...daughter?” MJ asked quietly.
Bucky laughed. “Nah. She’s my little sister.”
“How many siblings do you guys have?”
Wanda shrugged. “It’s kind of complicated. None of us are related by blood, besides Pietro and I and Bucky and Becca. Nat and Clint, who are now married, grew up with Bucky, after his mom took them in. When we were sixteen, Pietro and I lived on the streets, and Bucky, Nat, and Clint took us in. We moved here almost two years ago and we live with Bucky while Nat and Clint live down the street.”
“Huh. Okay, then.”
Bucky pulled into their driveway, and as they got out, he saw tears on both of their faces. He felt bad for not noticing immediately.
“I’m sorry, girls. I’m really not good at breakup stuff, I’ve never dealt with it before, so you can wait for Nat inside. Pietro’s probably in the living room. Do you want me to distract him while you two sneak into Wanda’s room?”
Wanda shook her head. “It’s okay. He’s going to find out eventually, and I’ve just texted Nat.”
Bucky shrugged. “It’s Jack’s funeral.”
Both of the girls giggled quietly.
“Bucky!” Pietro called as soon as the door shut. “Monty called from the cafe. He said Becca’s fine, and he told me to tell you that the chair was broken when he got there- What’s wrong, Wanda? Who’s that?”
Wanda took a deep breath. “This is MJ. She’s Jack’s ex-girlfriend.”
Pietro furrowed his eyebrows. “Why is she here?”
“Because he was cheating on me with her.”
Pietro blinked, then narrowed his eyes.
“He was what?” Pietro growled.
“He was cheating on us. She’s just as hurt as I am, and no, I don’t want you to kill him.”
MJ wiped at her eyes. “I wouldn’t mind if he did.”
“You’re not supposed to tell him that!”
Bucky snorted. “Alright, girls. You want the family room? I can send Natasha in when she gets here.”
Before either could answer, the door burst open.
“I’m here. I’ve got the comfy blankets. Family room, everyone else will be here soon. Clint’s not far behind, get in before he can question it.”
Natasha shuttled the girls into the family room before anyone could protest.
“I’ll be in in a moment, let me get a charger.”
Bucky followed Nat into the kitchen.
“What did you mean, everyone else?”
She silently handed Bucky her phone.
NATASHA: EMERGENCY. Wanda’s had her first break up. She caught him cheating, and she’s bringing the other girl home. I’ve got the blankets Meet at Bucky’s, stat.
PEGGY: Angie and I will bring the ice cream.
DAISY: Jemma and I are on our way. May’s driving us but the boys are in the car. We’ve got funny movies.
NATASHA: that’s fine, they’ll hang with Bucky and Clint.
PEPPER: I’ll bring the popcorn.
OKOYE: Princess Shuri and I will be there in five minutes with the sad movies.
SHURI: please cool it with the princess thing Okoye
DARCY: I’ve got the trashy magazines!
JANE: I’m bringing the pajamas. I’ve got plenty to go around don’t worry!
MARIA: I’ll be there with tissues.
SHARON: I’m bringing the candy
MAY: I’ve got the makeover kit!
“Oh my god...how do you even-”
The front door burst open again, revealing a horde of angry women.
“We’re here! Where are the girls?”
Bucky silently pointed to the family room door, eyes wide. He watched as Natasha slapped a sign on the door that said No Boys Allowed!
All fourteen women disappeared in a flash, leaving eleven guys standing in confusion.
“Sorry, but what the actual fuck just happened?” Tony Stark burst out.
“I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t think we should interrupt them…” Phil Coulson said slowly. “Sorry for busting in like this, Bucky, but we were in the car and suddenly the girls were yelling about movies and the next thing I know we’re here.”
Steve laughed. “I was out to lunch with Sharon and suddenly she’s trying to take my motorcycle. She doesn’t even know how to drive it!”
Everyone migrated into the living room, laughing.
“Aunt May just did a U-Turn, ran into our house and then we were on our way here.”
“Okoye and Shuri also started talking about movies, and they didn’t tell me why.”
“Maria and I were on a date and suddenly she’s asking me to go buy tissues!”
“Jane grabbed all of her onesie pajamas and made me drive her here.”
“Pepper nearly blew a gasket, tried to jump on one of my prototypes with the popcorn maker.”
“Natasha just ran out of the house with all of our blankets.”
“Do any of us even know why we’re here?” Steve asked.
He was met with shrugs, and they all turned to Bucky and Pietro.
“I’m not entirely sure what happened…” Pietro said.
Bucky sighed. “Wanda and I were out at the mall when she saw her boyfriend. With another girl. She dumped a shake on him and so did the other girl. They’re both in there.”
Bucky watched as Clint’s face slowly turned red.
“I’m going to snap that little fucker’s neck. Why didn’t you snap his neck, Bucky!”
“I wanted to, and I almost did! Wanda asked me not to.”
“I’m going to kill him next time I see him,” Lincoln muttered.
“Join the club!” Pietro said angrily.
“Why would he do that? I mean, Wanda’s great!” Peter shook his head.
“Exactly! It makes no sense. He seemed so nice,” Fitz sighed. “It’s like Ward and Daisy all over again.”
“Except Jack didn’t try to kill you and Jemma.”
“Hang on, Ward tried to kill you?” Steve questioned.
“It was some hazing thing for Hydra U. He shoved us into a box thing and threw us into the water. We nearly drowned.”
“How did I not hear about this?” Bucky asked incredulously.
“It looks like we’re going to be here awhile. Who wants food?”
Monty dropped Becca off after closing time, and she was immediately snatched by Peggy into the family room. Bucky peeked into the room around eight and saw sleeping bags spread out everywhere, and no clue where they came from.
Things got hazy around eleven, since he had been up since five, and the next thing he knew he was waking up and it was light out.
He lifted his head, disoriented. He found himself sitting on the floor using Steve’s head- which was resting on Bucky’s shoulder- as a pillow. He felt his face grow warm but he ignored it in favor of looking around his living room.
Peter and Pietro were sharing the couch, Coulson was somewhat crushed underneath Clint, with Thor’s head on Clint’s legs. Lincoln was on the chair and Fitz was leaning against the side, snoring. Tony and Sam were sleeping head-to-toe, and he could just see T’Challa curled in the corner, almost like a cat.
He snorted to himself and gently moved Steve’s head. He checked his watch- it was only six o’clock. He quietly moved out of the room and shut the door.
He crept across the hall and looked in on the girls, all of whom were still asleep. He yawned and looked around, deciding to go for a jog.
He changed, and, after checking on everyone again, quietly headed out. He made it just over four miles before turning around and coming home. He stopped at the bagel store and picked up three dozen bagels.
He got home around seven-thirty and opened the door to a bustle of activity.
“Morning, James,” Natasha called from the kitchen.
“Uh, morning. Everyone’s up?”
“Yep! Oh, are those bagels? Gimmee!”
Angie swooped in and snatched the bag from Bucky.
“Whoever wants cream cheese on this side, and butter on this side.”
Bucky looked around, still somewhat confused as to how his house had been taken over.
“Get up and go shower, James. You’re sweaty and disgusting. I’ll save you a bagel.”
Natasha practically shoved him up the stairs, and when he came back fifteen minutes later, everyone was outside, and some people were in the pool.
“Thanks for the bagels, Bucky!” Daisy called as she ran by.
“Uh, you’re welcome?”
Bucky shook his head, sitting next to Steve.
“I wasn’t expecting so much energy this early in the morning.”
Clint raised an eyebrow. “Really? You have twenty-four people at your house, and you didn’t expect this?”
“Hey, to be fair he didn’t know we were coming,” Steve said.
“Okay, true. Sorry about that, by the way. Didn’t mean to fall asleep.”
Bucky shrugged. “Everyone did. Where’s Becca?”
Before anyone could answer, Becca appeared in front of them, throwing a bucket of water in Bucky’s face.
“Pietro told me to!”
“Why would you listen to him?!”
“Because it was funny,” Becca giggled.
“It was pretty funny.”
“Shut up,Steve. You know this means you have to go swimming, right kiddo?”
“But I’m not in my bathing suit,” Becca said confusedly.
Bucky suddenly scooped Becca up and ran to the pool. He threw her in, laughing when she came up squealing.
Someone suddenly shoved him from behind, and he just managed to twist and avoid falling in, causing Pietro to fall in instead.
“Nice try, man, but you can’t-” he was cut off as he was shoved again, harder this time.
He fell into the pool with a yell, and he surfaced to see Steve laughing at him.
“Really, Steve? I thought you were better than that.”
“What it God’s name gave you that impression?” Peggy cackled.
Bucky shook his head. “I honestly have no clue. At least help me out, would ya?”
Bucky raised his hand to Steve.
Once Steve grabbed it, Bucky pulled with all his strength and Steve came tumbling into the pool.
It was his turn to laugh as Steve came up coughing.
“That was a foul!”
“Foul? What is this, sports?” Darcy called.
Eventually, everyone left around one in the afternoon. MJ hesitated at the door.
“Thank you so much for having me. I didn’t mean to overstay my welcome.”
Bucky smiled kindly at her. “Don’t worry, you didn’t. Besides, it’s not like you were the only one here. You have a ride home?”
MJ nodded. “Mrs. Parker is giving me a ride.”
“Good. You’re welcome here anytime, and you can call us if you need anything.”
“Thank you, Bucky. And I just wanna say, you and your boyfriend are very cute together.”
Bucky felt himself turning bright red, while Natasha and Wanda started laughing.
“Steve’s not my boyfriend, but thanks.”
MJ blushed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-”
“Don’t worry, hon. They’re in love with each other, but they’re oblivious.”
“It’s true, Bucky.”
“Wanda,” Bucky sighed.
“We’re just saying, MJ never actually said she was talking about Steve. You assumed, because you’re in love with him.”
Bucky groaned. “Nat, don’t you have to go home?”
“Nope!” Nat smiled and waved to MJ, then wandered down the hall.
An hour later, Bucky found himself sitting in the family room with his family, Nat and Clint standing in front of the others. Bucky, Becca, and the twins each had a box.
“Are you finally going to tell us your secret!”
“Maybe,” Nat smirked.
“Alright, open them!” Clint announced.
Bucky opened his box.
“Turn it around, James.”
Bucky did, and he found the words:
YOU’RE GOING TO BE AN UNCLE!
written across the chest.
He read it, blinked, reread it, and then his gaze snapped to Nat and Clint.
“Are you serious?” He whispered.
They nodded, beaming.
“Oh my god!”
He leapt up and grabbed them in a hug. Pietro was just behind him, along with Wanda.
“How far along?”
“Three months. Must’ve been the honeymoon.”
“I don’t know what my shirt means,” Becca said loudly.
Natasha smiled and knelt in front of her.
“Read it to me.”
“Baby’s best f...fry-end?”
“Baby’s best friend.” Becca looked at Natasha. “But I don’t know any babies.”
“Well, angel, in a few months, I’m going to have a baby.”
Becca gasped. “You’re prominent?”
The adults laughed. “Not quite. I’m pregnant.”
Becca giggled and hugged Nat.
They celebrated for the rest of the day, and it wasn’t until dinner that Becca dropped the bomb.
“How are babies made?”
Bucky spit out his water while everyone else laughed at him.
Chapter 21: They’ve Waited Long Enough
Two weeks later, George was back in jail indefinitely. Sarah came up to stay with Steve and to fuss over the Barneses.
Becca’s bruise was fading, but the fear was still there. She woke up every night, crying from the nightmares.
It was a Saturday night. Pietro and Wanda were out, and Steve came over for dinner. He ended up staying later, and he and Bucky were watching a movie.
“What’s that?” Steve asked out of nowhere.
Bucky looked to where Steve was pointing, caught off guard.
“Uh...oh! Oh, yeah, that’s a baby monitor. I got it yesterday morning for Becca. Now I can hear her through it instead of waiting for her to come to me.”
Bucky nodded. “They just won’t stop. I figure at least now I can help her a bit sooner, and this way she doesn’t take over my bed.”
Right on cue, Bucky heard Becca beginning to stir.
“Ah. Excuse me.”
Steve waved him off, and he ran up the stairs.
He gently opened Becca’s door, watching her begin to wake up fully, crying. Finally, she bolted upright.
“Hey, Becca-Girl, I’m here. You’re okay.”
Becca stared at him, panicked, before relaxing back against the bed.
“Can I do anything for you, kiddo?”
Becca shook her head, then hesitated. “I don’t wanna talk about the dreams.”
Bucky shrugged. “You don’t have to.”
“Can we talk about something else? I want to district myself.”
Bucky raised an eyebrow. “You mean distract?”
“Yeah, that. Please?”
“Of course. What do you want to talk about?”
Becca thought for a moment, then her eyes lit up.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Are you in love with Steve?” She asked bluntly.
Bucky choked on air.
“I-what? Am I- why do you- love? What made you- why…” Bucky cleared his throat. “Uh. What makes you think that?”
“Because. You look at him the way that Clint looks at Tasha.”
Bucky groaned, dropping his head.
“I’m that obvious?”
Becca giggled quietly. “That means yes?”
Bucky sighed. “Yeah, Becca. I’m in love with Steve.”
“I knew it! Are you going to date him? What about kissing?” She gasped. “Are you going to get married?!”
“Whoa whoa whoa. Slow down there, kiddo. He doesn’t even know how I feel.”
“So tell him.”
“I can’t. And you can’t either!”
“Why not? He looks at you like Clint looks at Tasha too!”
“I doubt that, kiddo. And because. Well. Alright, you know I never say this, but it’s an adult thing. You’ll understand when you’re older.”
Becca just stared at him, and he caved.
“Fine. Look, I may feel that way about him, but he’s still my best friend. If he doesn’t like me back, it might make him feel weird. Oh my god, I sound like a fucking teenager- ah, shit, that’s a bad word. That was another one. Okay, I owe two dollars to the swear jar, I guess.”
“Are you okay if I go back downstairs?”
Becca nodded slowly. “Thank you, Bucky.”
Bucky ruffles her hair. “No need to thank me. It’s what I’m here for. Goodnight.”
He kissed her forehead and tucked her back in before heading back downstairs.
“Sorry about that, I-”
Bucky trailed off when he saw Steve sitting on the couch, looking shocked. His gaze immediately snapped to the monitor and he realized what he had done; admitted his feelings for Steve through a goddamn baby monitor because he forgot to turn it off. His stomach began to churn.
“Oh my god, Steve, I’m sorry, I just-”
“Did you mean it?”
“Did you mean it, Bucky.”
Bucky sighed, somehow realizing through his haze of panic that he was stuck. He didn’t see any other choice but to tell the truth, even if it meant he lost his best friend.
“Yes. I did. I do. I’m really sorry, I shouldn’t have let it get this far, but...why are you smiling like that?”
Steve was trying (and failing) to suppress a large smile. He stood.
“Because I'm in love with you too, idiot.”
“I love you, Buck. I have for awhile now, but I was scared you didn’t feel the same.”
Bucky laughed. “Natasha told me I was being so obvious.”
“Peggy told me that. And Sharon.”
Bucky hesitated. “Are you sure, Steve?”
Steve blinked. “Yes. What do you mean, why?”
Bucky looked down. “I come with a lot of baggage. I’m raising a child, and we’ve been through hell.”
“If you’re saying Becca’s baggage-”
“No! God, no.”
Steve shook his head. “Then I don’t understand.”
“It’s just...Becca’s not the only one with nightmares, Steve.”
There was a pause, and then, “I snore.”
Bucky glanced up at Steve. “What?”
Steve shrugged. “I snore.”
He stepped forward and took Bucky’s hands.
“I hate getting out of bed in the mornings. I hate grading papers so I complain about it constantly. I haven’t been in a real relationship in over two years. I get into fights. But I love you, Bucky Barnes, and if you're willing to give me a chance, I will tell you that every day. It’s what I was trying to tell you the day Becca was taken.”
Bucky couldn’t hold back his grin.
“Of course I’m willing to give you a chance. I love you, Steve.”
“Good. Does that mean I can kiss you now?”
Steve lowered his voice and stepped closer until they were nose to nose.
Bucky’s stomach swooped.
HIs heart was pounding, and he was sure Steve was going to be able to feel it. Then he realized he could feel Steve’s heart beating just as hard as his own.
He nodded, unable to form words with Steve this close. Heat was radiating between them as Steve slowly closed the space between them, gently pressing his lips to Bucky’s.
As soon as they came into contact, both of them melted. Bucky wound his arms around Steve’s neck, and Steve had one hand in Bucky’s hair, the other on his back, pressing him impossibly closer.
Bucky lost track of time, losing himself in the kisses. He didn’t know how long it had been, but he did know that somehow they had ended up on the couch, Steve pressing Bucky back onto the armrest. Finally, they pulled apart, gasping for air.
“That was so much better than I imagined,” Steve breathed.
Suddenly Steve groaned and Bucky looked at him, confused.
“Do you know how many ‘I told you so’s we’re going to get?”
Bucky sighed exasperatedly, throwing his head back. He shivered when Steve pressed his lips on his exposed neck.
“I say we don’t tell them right away. We’ll see who figures it out by themselves.”
Steve laughed. “I like that idea. I say it takes Natasha a day and a half.”
“You’ve known her way longer than I have, and you expect her not to figure it out?”
“Good point. I still say two days.”
Steve nodded. “That’s fair.”
Bucky pulled Steve back in for a quick kiss, pulling back after a moment to rest his forehead against Steve’s.
“How long?” Steve whispered.
Bucky didn’t need to ask what he meant. “I don’t know when it started. I mean, the first time I saw you, you were fucking gorgeous, and not what I was expecting. I guess I had a crush on you for awhile, but I thought it went away. Then one morning, actually, it was the morning of Pietro’s accident. Do you remember how you made breakfast?”
“Well, I just saw you being so great with Becca, and I thought, hey, I’m in love with him. I never did anything because you were Becca’s teacher, and after that you were my best friend. I didn’t want to fuck it up.”
Steve laughed softly. “I can’t believe how stupid we were.”
“What about you?”
“It was actually the night before you. Well, not entirely. I mean, I wanted to jump you the moment you walked into my classroom. You were hot as hell, I remember you had your hair pulled back, and then I found out how much you love Becca. I’ve wanted you since then, really, but like you said, I kinda suppressed it because you were Becca’s brother and it wouldn’t exactly have been appropriate, and then you were my best friend. But that night, you just lifted Pietro up, and I just stared at you. First of all, you’re really fucking strong.”
“And second, you carried a nineteen year old to his room instead of letting him sleep on the couch for one night. You care for everyone so much, Bucky. You always let people stay at your house, like after the school fundraiser, and Wanda’s breakup. And I just realized that I love you so fucking much.”
Bucky looked into Steve’s eyes, searching. For what, he didn’t know, but he was satisfied with the honesty he found there, and the love.
“God, I love you too, Steve.”
Steve pulled him back into a searing kiss, only to jerk away a few minutes later.
“When do the twins come home?” He panted.
Bucky looked at the clock, then groaned.
“Any minute. If you’re not staying the night, you should probably go.”
Steve snorted. “If we’re letting them figure it out on their own, I definitely shouldn’t stay the night.”
Bucky smirked at Steve.
Steve groaned, but he sat up, climbing off of the couch.
Bucky chuckled, taking Steve’s extended hand. Steve pulled him up and Bucky found himself pressed against the other man.
They both laughed, before staring at each other. Bucky found that his gaze kept dropping to Steve’s lips, and when he looked back up, he saw Steve doing the same.
“So...how long until the twins come home?” Steve asked breathlessly.
Bucky glanced at the clock. “Ten minutes. At most.”
“Then we have at least five more minutes,” Steve murmured before leaning down to capture Bucky’s lips in a heated kiss.
He gently pushed Bucky against the wall, deepening to kiss. Bucky bit back a moan when Steve slid his hands into his hair.
Again, he lost track of time, but before he knew it he heard keys in the lock.
He and Steve jerked apart, managing to make themselves presentable just as Wanda poked her head into the room.
“Hey, Bucky, Steve. Just letting you know we’re back.”
“Thanks. You have fun?”
Wanda nodded. “Yeah. We met up with everyone. MJ met us at the movies.”
“Peter has a crush on her, doesn’t he?”
Pietro walked in.
“Are we talking about Peter’s massive crush on MJ?”
Bucky laughed. “Apparently. He won’t ask her out yet, right?”
“Nah, he knows she’s not ready after what happened with Jack. It’s only been a few weeks.”
“Good. Does she know?”
“Nope. But I think she may be starting to feel the same.”
“And he doesn’t realize?”
“He’s oblivious. Just like some other people I know.”
Bucky managed to turn his smirk into a glare. “What, you mean Sam? Because I think Maria’s waiting on a proposal.”
“Among others.” Wanda gave him a pointed look.
“Actually, I think Sam’s planning a proposal,” Steve inserted.
“Really? That’s great!”
“I know, but he’s terrified. What type of guy is scared to tell someone how he feels?”
Bucky choked on his laughter, instead rolling his eyes.
“Some people are just clueless. Like Peter.”
Wanda and Pietro stared at him in exasperation.
“I’m heading to bed,” she said finally.
“Me too. Night guys.”
“I should head out, I guess.”
“You sure you don’t want to stay? It’s pretty late,” Pietro offered.
Steve shook his head. “Nah. I should head home. Ma’ll have my head if I get in after one. You know how she is, giving me a curfew. In my own house. When I’m twenty-four.”
“It’s twelve-thirty, so I’d hurry if I were you.”
“That late already? Crap, I really have to go. Goodnight, guys.”
He waved, smiling at Bucky.
Bucky waited exactly forty-five seconds after the door closed before slapping his forehead.
“I forgot to ask him something, I’ll be back.”
He ran outside, making sure the twins weren’t watching.
“Did I forget something?” Steve asked, taking his helmet off.
Bucky grinned. “Yeah, you didn’t say goodbye.”
Steve furrowed his brow. “Yes I-”
Bucky cut him off with a kiss, and he felt more than heard Steve laugh.
“You’re coming to breakfast in the morning?”
“Of course. Ma’s coming too.”
Steve smirked at Bucky before pecking his lips one last time.
“Okay, I really have to go now.”
Bucky woke up with a smile on his face and it took him a few seconds to realize why. When he did, he nearly laughed out loud. He took a quick shower and got dressed before heading downstairs.
“Why is everyone always in my house before I’m even awake?” He asked the people milling around the kitchen.
“Because you gave us keys.”
Bucky rolled his eyes.
“Morning, Sarah. Morning, Steve.”
He smiled at them, and Steve grinned back.
“Morning, Bucky. Did you sleep well?”
“I did, Sarah, thanks. How about you?”
“I did, though Steve woke me when he came home. It was almost one o’clock.”
“I’m twenty-four, Ma. I don’t have a curfew anymore. And especially not in my own home.”
Bucky snorted and Steve made a face at him.
“Besides, it was Bucky’s fault.”
“What! No it wasn’t!”
Steve raised an eyebrow. “Oh, it was completely your fault.”
Bucky hid a smirk. “Can you explain how it was my fault?”
“You-you wanted to watch that last movie.”
“I seem to recall you wanting to see that movie just as much as I did.”
Natasha gasped. “Oh. Oh. My. God. FINALLY!”
Bucky looked at her, startled. “What? What happened?”
She kept glancing between them, smacking Clint. A smirk slowly spread across Clint’s face.
“It’s about time!” He declared.
Wanda tilted her head, and then her eyes widened. “Oh my GOD. That’s why you were being so weird last night!”
Sarah gasped. “I’m so happy for you boys! Honestly, it was getting a bit pathetic.”
“I...What?” Bucky said, looking around.
“You know what,” Pietro said, grinning. “F-Uh, flipping finally.” He glanced at Becca.
Bucky and Steve looked at each other.
“How the f- er, how did you realize?”
Natasha rolled her eyes. “You’re staring at each other all lovingly pathetic, instead of pining-ly pathetic. So, tell us what happened!”
“What? What happened?” Becca asked.
Bucky looked at her, surprised.
“Oh. Do you remember what you asked me last night, when I came upstairs after you had your nightmare?”
Becca’s eyes darted to Steve, then she nodded.
“Well, he heard us talking, and you were right.”
“You mean you’re getting married?”
“Whoa, not so fast,” Bucky and Steve said in unison, then they laughed.
“Not quite, kiddo. But we are dating now.”
“Finally!” Becca cried.
“Now, tell us what happened.”
Bucky felt himself blushing.
“Becca had a nightmare last night, and I went upstairs. Out of nowhere, she asked me if I was in love with Steve, and she told me I look at him like Clint looks at Natasha. After I told her the truth, I walk back downstairs and I realize that the monitor was left on and Steve heard everything I had just said.”
“How romantic,” Clint drawled.
“Hey, it worked didn’t it?” Bucky argued.
Steve laughed, walking over and wrapping his arms around Bucky.
Bucky grinned and reciprocated, resting his forehead on Steve’s.
He heard a camera shutter and he looked over to find Natasha on her phone.
Seconds later his own phone buzzed. He pulled it out and saw that Natasha sent the picture in the group chat with all of their friends with the caption:
NATASHA: they finally got their shit together, it happened! Steve and James are officially a couple. Unfortunately, they’re now going to be sickeningly sweet.
Steve and Bucky laughed, before Bucky pulled Steve into an exaggeratedly long kiss.
Chapter 22: Epilogue
Six and a half years later
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Bucky woke up to a bright light shining in his eyes, and groaned when he realized his curtains were open. He rolled out of bed, shivering when he realized he was only in his boxers, the cold air hitting his skin. He pulled a t-shirt on and walked over to the window, looking out at the snow-covered yard.
A minute later he felt a pair of arms wrap around his waist, and warm lips pressed to the back of his neck.
“Mmmm, good morning.”
“Good morning, sweetheart.”
“It’s so early. What’s got you so happy?”
“I was just thinking about how we’re married.”
Bucky laughed. “We’ve been married for five years, Steve.”
Bucky turned in Steve’s arms.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Bucky smiled. “Merry Christmas, Stevie.”
“Merry Christmas, Buck.”
Steve kissed Bucky lightly.
“You’re wearing my shirt,” he said.
“I was cold,” Bucky shrugged, smirking to himself.
Steve groaned, and kissed him deeply.
Bucky moaned softly- he knew Steve loved it when Bucky wore his clothes. Bucky didn’t know why, but it usually worked well in his favor, and he abused the hell out of it.
Steve huffed at him when they broke apart.
“Not fair. We don’t have time to do any of the things I want to,” he whined, sticking his face in the crook of Bucky’s neck.
“I’ll make it up to you tonight, sweetheart,” Bucky said, inhaling sharply as Steve nipped at his neck.
Steve pulled away.
“I’m holding you to that,” he said, grinning ferally.
Just as they were about to kiss again, one very excited little girl ran in.
“They’re here!” She exclaimed.
“Who’s here?” Steve asked, breaking away from Bucky to pick her up.
“Aunt Nat and Uncle Clint and Willow and Mary and James, and Aunt Wanda and Uncle Pietro and Carol! And I heard people downstairs, so probably Uncle Tim and Uncle Monty and Uncle Gabe. Maybe Grandma and Aunt Peggy and Aunt Angie too.”
“Why on earth would they be here? We just saw them all last night!”
“It’s Christmas, Daddy!”
Bucky tilted his head. “Are you sure? I thought Christmas was last year.”
“Christmas is every year, silly.”
“I wish someone would’ve told me, I would’ve bought some presents! Did you know about this, Steve?”
“I didn’t. That’s too bad.”
“I’m sorry, Winnie, but there’s always next year.”
“I know you’re just kidding, Dad.”
Steve smiled. “Of course we’re kidding. Why don’t you go wake Aunt Becca? Nicely, please.”
Their daughter wriggled out of Steve’s arms and they watched her run down the hall.
“She’s getting so big,” Bucky whispered.
“We’ve had her for three years next month, can you believe it?”
Steve shook his head. “We’d better get
downstairs before she rips into the gifts.”
They headed downstairs after putting on some warmer (and more guest-appropriate) clothes.
“Merry Christmas everyone,” Bucky called.
People were sitting at the kitchen table, and three children ran over to them, grabbing their legs.
“Merry Christmas, Uncle Bucky! Merry Christmas, Uncle Steve!”
“We’re hungry, and Mommy said Uncle Bucky would make us synonym rolls!” James exclaimed as Steve picked him up.
“Did she now?”
“Well, I guess it’s a good thing I already made them last night!”
“I heard something about cinnamon rolls?”
Becca entered the kitchen, yawning, with Winnie in her arms.
James scrambled out of Steve’s arms as he saw his aunt and cousin.
“They’ll be ready in a few. Merry Christmas, kiddo.”
Bucky kissed the top of Becca’s head and handed her a cup of coffee.
“Morning, everyone. Merry Christmas!” Becca smiled and kissed Steve’s cheek as she passed.
“Loving the hair, squirt.”
Becca rolled her eyes.
Bucky leaned against his husband, looking around the room.
Sarah was sitting with Natasha and Clint’s son, James, who was playing patty cake with Mary, their two year old daughter as Winnie watched and laughed.
Wanda and Nat were talking to Pietro and his fiancé, Carol Danvers. Clint was hovering as Angie, the Commandos, and Peggy cooed over Willow, their one-month old daughter.
This was his family. He had found it all on his own, and it had started out little, and broken, but still good. It had grown exponentially over the years, and now he had so many people that he loved, and who loved him. He and Steve even had a daughter now.
Yeah, it’s still good.
Bucky felt Steve drop a kiss on his head.
Bucky smiled and pecked Steve on the lips.
Steve smiled softly, and Bucky could tell Steve was thinking the same as him.
He knew he had to start the cinnamon rolls, and though he was loathe to leave the comfort of his husband’s arms, he didn’t really mind.
He’d do anything for his family.
Whatever kept them all happy.
So, here it is! The end. I hope you guys enjoyed it, and again, I really appreciate all of your support!
Also, I have a Snapchat specifically for ao3 stuff- I let you know when I post a new chapter or story, and if you want to dm me questions and such feel free!
Same username: anxiety_baker02
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