It was a bad day.
Bucky woke up shaking, crying, sweating, and nauseous. Fantastic. Another nightmare. Another night of being ripped away from his husband over, and over, and over, until there was nothing left to do but scream and cry and panic. If he had woken up just a few hours later, he would have been able to roll over and cuddle close to Steve- instead, when he rolled over, all he saw was their bright red alarm clock staring him in the face. 4:53. It was going to be a few hours before Steve "I-have-to-run-every-single-fucking-morning-or-the-world-falls-apart" Rogers came back from his time with Sam. He never took his phone, so there was no way Bucky could contact him.
Almost every morning in the Rogers-Barnes household ran like clockwork. Steve woke up at the ungodly hour of 4am to go on a run with his best friend, Sam. They would be out until 6am, at which time, Steve would come home, shower, and crawl back into bed with the love of his life. Bucky would wake up around 8am, 9 if he went to bed late the night before, and make breakfast for the two of them. They would watch television, go to the gym, and finish the rest of their day.
Some mornings, however, were not so pretty. Some mornings, Bucky would wake up on days like this one; crying, shaking, the works, and wrap himself around Steve until the rest of the world faded away. Steve would pet his hair and run his fingers down Bucky's back, lulling the man back to sleep. Some mornings, Bucky would wake up screaming and aggressive, and Steve would walk with him to the gym, where they would spar and box until the former assassin had no more need for it, then they would both crawl back into bed. Very rarely, Steve would be the one to wake up from nightmares, crying out for Peggy or Bucky, and the latter would wake up and cradle his husband until he was okay. Even more rarely, Bucky would wake up while Steve was on a run and have no one to turn to. Those were the most frustrating mornings, because in those cases, Bucky had to calm himself down.
The scariest part of it all, to Bucky, was that after months and months of therapy, the nightmares were still happening. Therapy was supposed to help, and it was, but not as much as he wanted it to. Sure, he woke up less frequently in the night, and he was more secure in his feelings and emotions, but he wanted to be safe. To be fixed. He just wanted to be okay, and he wasn't yet. He knew he would be, eventually, but he wasn't yet.
He had one emergency contact that wasn't Steve, but he had never used it before. He was never bad enough, never alone enough. Today, however, was different. Today, he needed that comfort. He rolled to the other side of the bed, dialed the number, and let it ring.
Three rings, and the line clicked on.
"Bucky?" A tired, concerned voice muttered.
"Hey... I hate to do this, I feel bad waking you up. I'm so sorry, but Steve is out and you said I could call if I ever needed you, and I'm really bad, and it's really bad, I just need somebody here right now, I'm sorry." Bucky mumbled shyly.
"Shh, shh, it's okay. I know what I said, and I meant it. We'll be over in five. Stay safe" And at the click of the line going dead, Bucky breathed a sigh of relief. Help was on the way. They weren't as good as Steve, but Bruce and Thor were his friends, and they knew what they were doing. Bucky bundled his blankets around him a little tighter, and steeled for just five more minutes of alone time before he was safe, in somebody else's hands.
Sure enough, not even five minutes later, the door to Bucky's room opened gently, shedding some light on the man burrito softly sniffling in the corner. Thor and Bruce walked over to him, gently sat him up, and handed him a bottle of water, a heated blanket, and some crackers. They also shuffled their Saint Bernard puppy, Bronco, onto the bed. Bronco had always taken a liking to Bucky- Bruce said it was because "dogs are incredibly intuitive, and know when people need them around." Bucky wasn't sure about that, but he was grateful for the dog either way. Bucky loved Bronco and Bronco loved Bucky, so Thor brought him around whenever possible.
Bruce and Thor sat on the bed next to Bucky, one on either side, and slung an arm around him. Thor grabbed the remote and turned on the television, flicking through the channels.
"Anything you're in the mood for, Barnes?" Thor asked, looking toward the man to his left. Bucky just shook his head and buried his face in the dog on his lap, sobbing.
"Something happy, then!" Thor continued flicking through channels while Bruce ran his fingers through Bucky's hair, which was tangled from tossing and turning all night. Eventually, they found some cartoon that was on, something about a ghost boy. Bucky just laid there, crying into Bronco's fur, letting Bruce stroke his hair.
They all sat on the king-sized bed for a while, losing track of time in the comfort of each other, until the door to the apartment creaked open. Bucky's head shot up from where he was soaking the dog, eyes red-rimmed and irritated.
Heavy footsteps thumped through the apartment, coming closer to the room, until the door swung fully open and Steve stood there. Upon seeing his husband in bed, with his two best friends, obviously having been crying for a while, Steve walked over and kissed Bucky's head.
"How long have you been here?" Steve asked, addressing those who didn't live there. They shrugged, holding up their hands.
“Few hours, maybe. Bucky needed us, so we came over. He’s getting better now. Rough night.” The scientist explained calmly.
“Oh, fuck. Did he say what it was about?” Steve inquired, not fully knowing what do to with the situation. He was always here for Bucky, always. And now, he goes out for a few hours and it turns out his husband needs him. He felt guilty, but recognized that there was no way he could have predicted this.
“We didn’t ask. James needed us, and we figured we would just come over and distract him.”
From the blanket came an unintelligible murmur, and all heads swung toward it.
“What was that, doll?” The supersoldier prodded the mound of Bucky and fluff gently, hoping to stir him.
“I said- ugh get off me you slobbery beast- don’t call me James. Nobody calls me that but my ma, and she ain’t been around in years.” Bucky threaded his fingers through his hair, combing it out to some degree. Thor mumbled an apology and something about “not getting the nickname,” and Steve pulled the dog off Bucky’s lap so that he could pull Bucky up.
“Come on love, how’s about we get you into the shower, hm? Bruce and Thor will still be here when you get back.” The aforementioned nodded, urging Bucky to go get clean. Bucky nodded dully and shambled his way to the bathroom, stripping off his shirt on the way in.
After a long, hot shower, Bucky crawled back into bed on top of Steve. Bruce and Thor shuffled accordingly to fit the two rather large men, and everybody settled back into their rhythm of quiet breathing and watching t.v.
After Bucky was fully calmed down, breathing slowed and muscles relaxed, Steve rocked him gently.
“Hey, you wanna go get breakfast? We can go up to that diner you like, hm?” Bucky nodded, and shifted to get up and get ready. He threw on some ratty jeans and an old t-shirt.
Shit. Gotta run by a store soon, pick up some new clothes. I’m startin’ to get nasty. The former assassin laced up his boots, stood, and motioned to everyone that he was ready to head out.
The group of men forced themselves into Steve’s 1990 Miata, swearing and shoving each other.
“Steve, man, you need to get a bigger car.” Bruce whined, and Thor and Bucky groaned in agreement.
“I am six-foot-two and 220 pounds. If I can fit my giant ass into this car, so can you.” More groaning ensued at Steve's declaration
Now that the four men were screaming along to the radio off-key, on their way to breakfast, the troubles of the morning seemed far in the past. Bucky was okay now, he was with his closest friends, he was having fun, and the things in his head couldn’t hurt him anymore. He was safe, and happy, and that was all he needed.
They ate a huge breakfast, went to the fair that was rolling through town, then went home and had dinner together. They all played Mario Kart for a few hours, and soon enough, Bruce and Thor had to leave to put an end to their long day. Steve and Bucky showered together, climbed into bed, and fell asleep wrapped around each other, as usual. They were in love, and they had each other, and that’s all they needed to take on the world.
It was a good day.