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Bucky Barnes still wasn’t used to others knowing his name.

Surviving decades as the Winter Soldier, the mission had always been to maintain anonymity. After DC, he’d been flitting from place to place, country to country, using papers that didn’t belong to him. After all, his birth name belonged to one of the most prolific assassins in history. He never thought it would ever really be his again.

After the Snap, after Thanos, he’d been given another chance. Or a third, but who was keeping count?

He got a small place with Sam in Brooklyn. Sam thought he was taking Bucky home, but Brooklyn hadn’t been home for a long time.

He’d never tell Sam that. It was nice that Sam tried.

Tried to make a home for them here. Tried to give Bucky a new purpose. Tried to make him feel as though every day out in the field could somehow make up for the pain he’d caused. Tried to make sure Bucky knew his past as the Winter Soldier hadn’t been his choice. Tried to make Bucky feel safe in his new life here. Tried to make him feel like there was still hope for him.

Bucky never quite believed him, but he loved that Sam still tried.

In the six months they’d been living here, everyone in their neighborhood knew Sam’s name. The young mom across the hall Sam had babysat for a few times. The super that had been given an earful when it took over a month to find the time to fix their oven. The pizza delivery guy Bucky slammed a door on when he caught the guy lingering a little too long when Sam left the bathroom shirtless, fresh from the shower. The neighbor kids that knew Sam was always good for at least a few bucks for school fundraisers.

And, of course, the baristas at their local coffee shop.

Bucky held the door, Sam always went first. He watched absently as everyone behind the counter stopped to greet Sam in kind. Sam found their usual spot in the back – quiet enough that they weren’t overheard and with a clear sight of the exits. Bucky went to the counter. He only had to pay; they put the usual order in without being asked.

Sam kicked back, scrolling through his phone for a bit. “Nothing from Sharon?” Bucky asked, his arm coming up behind Sam’s chair.

“Not yet.” He set the phone down, his fingers twitching like he was expecting something. It was hard enough to get Sam to relax on planned days off. Being on call was an exercise in futility. If there wasn’t a case to work, Sam would make one. He was stubborn that way.

“Sounds like you can relax then,” Bucky said slowly, earning a light glare. “I’m just saying, when’s the last time you took a break? Caught a movie or a ball game?”

“Same as you,” he replied, brows raised.

“Yeah, ‘cause you never make time for me anymore,” Bucky replied with a pout. Sam shook his head with a laugh.

The baristas called for their order and Bucky got up to grab everything. Sam’s disgustingly healthy oatmeal and a latte with way too many specifics. Bucky’s bacon, egg and cheese bagel and coffee, black. Sam went off to wash his hands when Bucky was called back to the counter.

Becca handed Bucky a wrapped biscotti with a wink. “Forgot your boyfriend’s biscotti.”

Bucky said a quick thanks, not quite realizing what she’d said until he was sitting at the table. His face flushed hot, eyes cutting nervously to Sam’s as he sat down with a bemused smile.

“What’s up?”

“Nothing,” Bucky said, quickly averting his gaze. “Just warm in here.”

 


 

It was 2020.

Bucky was painfully aware of that fact.

Every time he watched Sam do something insane like create a photo album on his phone or prove that he did in fact have access to just about any song Bucky could ever think of on something called an “app”. Every time he moved through the streets hearing kids saying all manner of things that didn’t make a lick of sense to him but could somehow be understood as complete sentences. He didn’t know what a Tik Tok was and, at this point, he thought it best he never found out. The future was a loud and confusing shitshow most of the time, but it wasn’t all bad.

The world was more open to people of color, gay people and interracial relationships. Of course, they still had a very, very long way to go.

Even if he’d ever bought into the bullshit his father used to say about black men and gays, and he hadn’t, Becca’s assumption about Sam and he wasn’t insulting. Anyone would be lucky to be with Sam. He was unbelievably kind, stupidly brave and he inspired hope in everyone he met. A warm light seemed to follow him wherever he went, brightening every room he entered. Honest and straightforward. And, if Bucky was being honest, Sam was easy on the eyes.

What was baffling, was that Bucky had never thought anyone would think they were dating.

But, why wouldn’t they?

Sam and Bucky lived together. Neither of them had ever brought anyone home. They went grocery shopping together, jogging together, and they went to dinner together. They were always seen together, they had inside jokes, they drove the New Avengers crazy because they never needed words. By all appearances, there was absolutely no one else in Bucky’s life that even came close to Sam.

Which said a lot more about Bucky than he realized.

“Okay, not that I’m ever going to turn down free tacos, but is there a reason you asked me to lunch?” Scott asked, tossing a chip in his mouth. He swallowed, offering a smile. “I’m kind of seeing someone.” Bucky rolled his eyes, sipping his water. “From what I heard, so are you.”

Bucky set his drink down, eyes narrowing. “Who told you that?”

Scott’s eyes widened nervously, “Uh, no one, no one. Really!” At Bucky’s stare, he muttered, “Just… everyone.”

“What?”

“Hope, Jan, Cassie, that guy that delivered us shawarma that one time, my mom,” he trailed off, head cocked to the side as he studied Bucky’s face. “This comes as a surprise to you?”

“A bit.”

“Well, news travels fast. You look at anyone for more than two seconds and there’s already like five fanfics about you and some guy that just asked you for directions. I get that. I know that doesn’t really mean anything, but the way you look at Cap 2.0,” his face flushed as he choked down a laugh. “And you’re not always looking at his face.”

“We’re just friends.”

“Really?” he asked, clearly doubtful. His eyes widened, “Wait, really?”

He ran a hand through his hair. “Sam’s…” He let out a slow breath, his stomach twisting, “if I was a teenage girl, I’d call him my best friend.”

“Sure, sure. Everyone has a best friend,” he said. “Luis and I are BFFS. We lived together for a bit. We even took care of Cassie together for a while there.”

“And people thought you were screwing?”

Scott choked on a tortilla chip, scrambling for his water. “Christ,” he panted, setting the cup down roughly. “I don’t know. Probably. I’d have to ask. It’s a possibility. I don’t always swing that way but, sometimes I do. And Luis is a great guy.” He thought for a moment. “You know, I’m surprised we never did, actually.”

“You mean you would have?”

“I don’t know, maybe,” he said with a thoughtful smile. “It’s about trust, you know? And at the time, there was a no one I trusted more than Luis.”

It went without saying that there was no one Bucky trusted more than Sam. Hell, he wasn’t sure if he trusted anyone outside of Sam.

Then again, that was partially why he’d asked Scott to lunch.

 


 

Peter wouldn’t stop staring.

Bucky put up with it for about two minutes before he set his mug down with a glare. “What?”

Nervous hands nearly launched a cell phone into Bucky’s face. He snagged it smoothly, finding a text chain with someone named MJ followed by as many hearts as would fit on the screen. He’d barely read, “If I’m not back in an hour, call for help” before Peter snatched it back.

“Um,” he licked his lips, “is this – did I do something wrong? Because if this is about the comm system that went missing, I swear that was Ned and not because he’s secretly Hydra or anything but he just likes to feel included and I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal and he never talks when we’re out in the field and –”

Bucky held up a hand. “Do you ever breathe?”

Peter took a deep breath, eyes wide. “Please don’t fire me, sir.”

Shaking his head, Bucky pinched the bridge of his nose. “Don’t call me ‘sir’. And I don’t even think I can fire you.” Peter let out a slow breath. “I just thought I’d check in.”

“Because I’m not doing a good job?”

“No, because you’re twelve years old and fighting criminals in your pajamas.”

“I’m not! Mr. Stark made me a suit.” He replied, mouth twisted stubbornly. “And I’m not twelve. I’m seventeen.”

“Twelve,” Bucky muttered, sipping his coffee.

“And you don’t have to check in with me, Cap already does. Once a week,” he said with an eye roll.

“He does?” Bucky asked, his voice warming with a fondness. It was Sam, of course he did.

“Yeah, he actually uses his phone as a phone and randomly calls me sometimes. He thinks that if he hears my voice, he can tell when I’m lying.”

Bucky bit down a smile. “He’s just looking out for you.”

Peter held his gaze, nodding once. “I know. You both do.” He scratched at the back of his head, his voice quieting. “Did you ever tell him about—”

“No, I didn’t,” Bucky said quickly and Peter nodded, letting out a slow breath. “But I should have. You go out chasing big fish on your own again, I’m going to drag you home myself.”

“I didn’t know it was going to be that bad! One second I’m stopping a bank robbery and the next, Kingpin’s chasing me.” He picked at a spot on his jeans. “I thought it would worry Sam if I called and I don’t like it when he worries so…”

And Bucky supposed he should just be glad the kid called him before going into that warehouse alone. If anything, it made it so that Sam didn’t wake up to something awful the next morning. “I don’t want to make it a habit of keeping secrets from him.”

Peter nodded, staring into his cup of cocoa. “I know. I don’t like lying to MJ, either.”

Bucky’s face warmed but he ignored it, sipping his coffee.

 


 

They’re deep in the snowy mountains in Austria when Bucky takes a hit meant for Sam.

Peter’s nerdy friend accidentally tracked down a Hydra lab hidden in a mountainside. The kids stayed behind, much for Peter’s displeasure, but Sam wasn’t risking it. The adults took the jet and landed in the middle of a firefight.

Bucky worked best under pressure, at least he told Sam he did. He’d cleared a path to the lab for Hope and Scott when he saw one of the bastards gunning for Sam. He’d barely had time to shove the guy aside when he felt the familiar white-hot slice of a gunshot cutting through his neck. Cursing, he dropped down to his knee, grimacing as he slammed his metal fist into the guy’s stomach, disarming him.

“Buck? Buck! Talk to me!” Sam shouts over the comms, his wings curling tight to form as they sliced through the air.

He was coming, that much Bucky was certain. Sam wouldn’t leave him here to die in the snow. God, he fucking hated the snow.

His vision blurs, the blue sky giving way to blood stained and the taste of grit and iron on his tongue. His knees are soaked through and he’s shivering, shaking hands pressed to the wound in his neck.

Gloved hands land on his shoulders, his head falling back as he finds worried brown eyes peering down at him. Sam’s goggles rest on his head, his mouth moving quickly but Bucky can’t make out what he’s saying. He’s clearly worried and if Bucky wasn’t so weak, he’d be upset about that. Sam worried too much.

“I’m fine,” he tried, the words hushed. Sam stared at him, cursing before he shouts something into the comms. “I’m fine,” he said again.

And then promptly passed out in the snow.

 

 

Judging by the repetitive beeping, Bucky was in a hospital bed.

He knew that before he even opened his eyes. He could hear the soft patter of rain on the windows, he could feel the crisp, thin sheets beneath him and from the cool feel of them, someone had put him in a hospital gown. Everything smelled of antiseptic and he wasn’t sure if that was marginally better than the acrid scent of blood.

When he opened his eyes, he found Sam.

At some point, he’d curled up in a nearby armchair. Arms crossed, foot propped up on the chair as he snored, his face pressed to the back of it. That familiar relief set in, his breath catching as something settled within him. Sam was safe and he hadn’t gotten himself killed. All in all, Bucky would call it a win.

“How are you feeling, Mr. Falke?”

Blinking, Bucky turned away from Sam a bit dazedly, carefully at the tight pull of the stitches along his neck. A doctor peered in at him from the hallway. She was dressed in a pair of dark blue scrubs, her hair pulled back in a serious bun. He couldn’t quite place her accent.

“Mr. Falke?”

Falke? Oh, real clever, Sam, he mused. “Still breathing.”

She smiled, leaning against the door jamb. “We were able to repair the damage. The bullet came very close to your carotid artery. Thank the maker your partner got you here in time.”

Bucky nodded, returning to Sam. How he’d managed to fit himself in such a small chair, Bucky would never know. “And he’s okay?” Bucky asked quietly, looking to her.

Smiling softly, she moved further into the doorway. “Yes, he’s fine. We checked him over when he brought you in. Not a scratch on him. He said you were protecting him when you were hurt?” Bucky nodded once, her words settling the last of his nerves. “You must’ve done a great job.”

“He cares a great deal about you,” she added, drawing his gaze. “I could hear it in his voice. That and he wouldn’t leave your side.”

“He’s just being careful,” he rasped.

“He’s trying to take care of you. My partner is the same way,” she said with a laugh. “Even if it’s just a cold, Greta won’t let me leave our bed. It’s how they show affection.”

Her words tightened the vice around his heart, watching Sam sleep for a moment. She slipped out quietly, sliding his chart into the slot outside the door. He knew she’d made an assumption; the same others have been making. He could’ve corrected her, told her Sam and he were partners but not romantically.

Instead, he slid further beneath the covers, lulled to sleep by Sam’s quiet breathing.

 


 

“Can I just say, I’m insulted I’m last on your list?” Jen asked, leaning back in her chair.

Dressed in a sleek black dress and heels sharp enough to cut steel, she was rather intimidating. No wonder she had such a successful career as an attorney. Bucky would be more than a bit nervous if he found himself on the other end of her questioning in a courtroom.

“You’re not last,” he said, poking at his pasta.

“Close to, then,” she remarked, sipping her wine. “Is this a date?”

“No!” he blurted out, cheeks burning as she laughed softly. “I didn’t mean—”

“No, no, I know,” she said smoothly. “It was a joke.” Bucky nodded, relaxing some before she added, “I know you’re happily involved with someone.”

Wincing, Bucky set his fork down. “Does everyone think…” he trailed off, covering his face. “We’re not dating.”

Jen was quiet for a moment. “Does Sam know that?”

Dropping his hand, Bucky stared at her. “What?”

“Is Sam aware that you’re not dating?” she asked bluntly. “Because, I gotta say, if everyone and their mom thinks you guys are a couple, probably stands to reason he’s heard the same thing at some point. And he’s not going out of his way to suddenly make time for his teammates.”

She frowned, tapping her fingers on her glass. “Well, probably because he’s always made time for us,” she mused with a soft smile. “He’s a great guy.”

As much as he respected her, Bucky wasn’t sure he liked her all that much at the moment. “I know that.”

“Then these little visits with the Avengers isn’t an attempt to tell us, one on one, that you’re not dating the sweetest guy on the planet?”

“No, it’s,” he stumbled over his words. “It’s not that,” he finished finally.

“Why does this bother you so much?”

“It doesn’t,” he tried, letting out a frustrated huff.  He lowered his voice, focused on a rip in his jeans. “This is everyone thinking the wrong thing and telling people and then acting like it’s true.” He looked to her, his face drawn. “It’s putting all these ideas in my head.”

Jen studied him quietly, covering his hand. “You are good enough, you know?” Her fingers closed over his before he could pull his hand away. “You’ve been through a lot and I know enough to know telling you that probably won’t fix whatever you’ve got going on in that your head of yours, but, I thought I’d say it anyway.”

Leaning back, Bucky ran a shaky hand through his hair.

 


 

“You lose my number?” Sharon asked, sitting down next to Bucky on the fire escape.

He smiled, knocking into her shoulder as he stared out into the building across the street. “Thought you’d call me an idiot.”

“Oh, you caught me.” Laughing she looped her arms through the railing. “Still, my feelings are hurt.”

Bucky rested his forehead on the cool metal, closing his eyes. “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well, I figured you saved the best for last. Thanks for just letting yourself into my apartment.” She was quiet. “Any reason in particular you’ve been spreading the rumor that you guys broke up?”

Sighing, Bucky took a deep breath before he met her eyes. They were narrowed, brow furrowed in worry. As strange as it was to see, Bucky was almost flattered. The past two weeks had been a lesson in how much this strange hodge podge of a family had come to care about Sam and he. About Bucky in general. He didn’t have much space for family – it had been decades since he’d had one but, he’d somehow wound up smack dab in the middle of a group he had no other word for. A teenage pain in his ass, a smart mouthed ex con, and three of the bravest women he’d ever met that could shrink and grow and match him shot for shot in marksmanship. And Sam who’d never fit neatly in whatever box Bucky tried to put him in.

“We didn’t break up,” at her relieved nod, he added, “we were never dating.”

Frowning, Sharon shook her head. “I’m sorry, but that doesn’t make any sense.”

“Of all people, I thought you’d know,” he said.

“Why? Because I’m with you guys the most? You realize I see the way you are when no one else is around?” She let out a huff, “You don’t trust anyone. I don’t take offense to it. Believe me, if I’d been through what you had, I wouldn’t trust anyone either. After what happened in DC, I’m not exactly making friends easily, either. But, with Sam, you’re different.”

Bucky opened his mouth and she held up a hand. “I get it, everyone’s different with Sam. But, you… Sam’s the only one you really smile for. He’s the only one that you laugh with. The way you guys move around each other, it’s like you’re always aware of where he is, and you don’t even have to think about it. You two don’t even have to use words. Do you know how rare that is?”

“You ever think maybe that’s just friendship?” Sharon quieted. “I don’t have very many people. Or, I didn’t think I did.” He focused on the building across the street. “Sam’s my best friend. He’s my partner.”

“Okay, you’re not dating,” Sharon said softly. Bucky shook his head. Something must’ve shown on his face because she looped her arm through his and rested her head on his shoulder. “But you want to be.”

It wasn’t a question. “Look at what we do, dating is the last thing we should be worried about.”

“What’s the point in living if you never let yourself have anything?” She sighed, her warmth seeping into him. “It’s okay to let yourself be happy, James.”

They watched the sky change color.

 


 

Scott and Hope’s wedding was quite the shindig.

The venue was clearly above Scott’s pay grade and it went without saying Hope’s parents had footed the bill. With glossy marble floors, bright twinkling lights above and a spread that meant even the Hulk wouldn’t go hungry. A decent crowd had gathered and there was music and dancing.

Bucky draped his suit jacket along the back of his chair, poking at his cake as he watched Sam across the hall. He’d snagged Jen for a dance and it said something about Bucky that the sight only left him strangely satisfied more than anything else. He wasn’t jealous at all – he knew Sam was going home with him.

Sipping his champagne, he watched Jen’s sharp red dress flutter around her ankles as Sam spun her around the dance floor. Jen was pretty as a picture, but Bucky only had eyes for Sam.

Sam looked great in everything he wore, be it sweats or his Cap suit; it was one of the most annoying things about him. He and Bucky were wearing the exact same midnight blue suits, but it looked basic on Bucky and amazing on Sam. It hugged every line of his body lovingly, tapering in at the waist and drawing Bucky’s gaze to the curve of his ass.

“Stop ogling the groomsmen,” a voice chided.

Bucky startled, looking over to find the bride sliding into the chair next to him. Or trying to. Bucky leapt up to help, pulling the chair back and taking Hope’s hand as she carefully moved her train.

She yanked her veil off, setting it aside with a grumble. “Damn thing wasn’t even my idea.” Bucky’s brows rose. “My mom cried when she saw it in the shop. Wasn’t getting out of there without it.”

“You look great.”

“I know,” she said with a wink, sharing a laugh. “Is the cake any good? I didn’t really get to eat any.”

Bucky slid over his plate, letting her finish his slice. She took it gratefully, taking a big bite. “What’s next?” Bucky asked.

Hope eyed him shrewdly. “What do you think?”

“You know? Honeymoon, vacation, that sort of thing.”

“When’s the last time you took a vacation, Barnes?” At Bucky’s stutter, she took another bite, grumbling, “We’re not like anybody else. There’s no relaxing and ‘settling down’ and who the hell wants that? It’s boring.”

“Really?” He wasn’t judging – he and Hope agreed on a lot of things.

“The only reason this works, the only reason we work is that… Scott gets me,” she explained, the corner of her mouth turning up. She found Scott in the crowd doing some sort of chicken dance with Luis and Cassie. “That dork understands me in a way no one else ever did. I wouldn’t be happy being some stay at home housewife, cooking and cleaning. I can’t do either and I wouldn’t want to. This is just the next great adventure.”

“Doesn’t that scare you?” he asked quietly, his voice wavering.

Hope looked to him, her eyes widening. “Oh, I’m freaking terrified,” she admitted. “But it’s Scott. If I’m going to be scared, I’d want to be scared with him than miss out on something great. Wouldn’t you?”

Bucky held her gaze, his voice soft. “No offense, but Ant Boy’s not exactly my type.”

Hope laughed with a shake of the head. “Oh, I know. I’ve seen your type.”

Rolling his eyes, Bucky jokingly made a grab for his cake, risking a fork to the hand.

 

 

When they arrived home, Sam was exhausted, yawning as he shuffled through the front door.

Bucky touched his lower back, carefully guiding him forward as he turned on the lights. He helped Sam with his suit jacket, draping it across the couch before his own followed suit. Sam turned towards him with a smile in thanks, the fondness in his gaze giving pause. All at once, he recalled Sharon’s words.

What’s the point in living if you never let yourself have anything?

“Buck?” Sam asked, brow furrowed.

Licking his lips, Bucky steeled himself, straightening his shoulders as he peered down at Sam. “I got all prettied up tonight and you just ignored me?”

Sam blinked at him. “What?”

“I was your plus one tonight and you didn’t even dance with me. That’s rude, Wilson. Some kind of date you are.”

Cocking his head to the side, Sam bit his lip, a teasing light in his eyes. Warming, Bucky fought a smile as Sam snapped back, “I’m a great date! I’m generous and attentive—”

“Attentive? You ditched me to dance with an Amazon.” He moved in closer, holding Sam’s gaze solidly.

“Yeah, I did,” Sam said with a soft laugh, moving in closer. They were standing close enough that he could feel the warmth of Sam’s body, see the way his chest softly rose and fell beneath his thin white dress shirt. Imagined, if he put his hand there, he’d feel the beat of Sam’s heart.

Bucky wondered if it was racing, the way his was.

Sam was waiting, still as a statue as if he feared chasing Bucky away. “I’m out of my depths here, Sam,” he whispered. “I don’t,” he swallowed nervously, running a hand through his hair, “I’ve never really done this before.”

“Just try,” Sam said with a gentle smile. “It’s just me.”

The words gave Bucky pause. “Exactly, it’s you. I don’t want to fuck this up. I can’t.”

Sam nodded, reaching out and taking his hand, squeezing it reassuringly. “What’s going on with you?” Bucky’s mouth moved wordlessly before Sam added, “I feel like I’ve hardly seen you the past few weeks. You know, since your date with Jen.”

“Date?”

“Word travels.”

“It wasn’t a date.” He averted his gaze, studying their hands. He was taller than Sam, but you’d never know it looking at them now. His shoulders curled in, feeling all of sixteen trying to talk about his feelings. “You know why it wasn’t a date, Sam.” His eyes met Sam’s, watching as he froze, chewing on his lip as they stared at each other. Finally, Sam nodded, his eyes guarded.

“It’s not what you think,” Sam began. “Jen asked me out a while back and she’s great, but I wasn’t in a place to say ‘yes’ at the time. So, I turned her down and she saw the way I was with you and just assumed. I could’ve shut it down then, but I didn’t realize at first what she thought. And, by the time I did, it spread.”

“Everyone thinks it, Sam.” Sam winced and Bucky felt a twinge in his stomach because this wasn’t the point of all of this. Not at all. He’d never wanted Sam to feel guilty. “It’s nothing you did.”

“But Jen—”

“Jen’s just one person. It’s not just about her. It’s about,” he waved his hand in frustration. “It’s about Mr. Kim giving me sunflower seeds because of that pathetic garden on the fire escape. It’s about Hope asking how ‘we’ are when it’s just me on a stakeout with her. It’s about never getting asked if I need a plus one to a wedding because they all know I’m going with you.”

He let out a slow breath. “It’s about Becca at the café giving me two coffees, even when I come in by myself because she knows I’m going home to you.”

Sam’s staring at him and it’s just as well because Bucky didn’t know how to have this conversation with himself – let alone with Sam who was looking at him like he hung the moon. “It’s nothing you did.” He forced himself closer, taking in a deep breath. “Everybody I talked to… it was all me.”

Pressed flush together, “Buck,” Sam began, his hand tightening warm and strong around Bucky’s. “I love the way you look at me.” He smiled, his eyes soft. “Everybody else sees me as a replacement or the guy that stood beside Cap but, you’ve always just seen me. You’re honest with me and you make fun of me and I always know you’ve got my back. Hell, you took a bullet for me.”

“You’re my best friend.”

Sam squeezed his hand, a fondness in his eyes that made it hard to look away. “You’re my best friend.” He laughed, averting his gaze. “I don’t want to lose this. I can’t.”

He chewed on his lip, eying Bucky beneath his lashes. “If this isn’t something you want,” he began, his words hanging in the air.

Bucky touched Sam’s face, stomach twisting into knots as he found himself leaning in closer. Sam’s eyes fell closed, lashes fluttering as their lips met. A soft touch, so much so that Bucky wondered if he’d imagined it. Sam deepened their kiss, a hand sliding into Bucky’s hair. Tugging lightly as warmth spread between them, Bucky’s heart fighting to burst out of his chest. His breath caught, lost in the feel of Sam’s lips, cradling him in his arms. Smiling into their kiss, he traced the curve of Sam’s cheek, feeling him shiver in response.

Pulling away, he opened his eyes to find Sam grinning at him. “We never needed words.”

“Might’ve been nice, though,” Bucky muttered. His eyes fell to their hands, fighting a smile. “So, I’ve been an idiot.”

“I could’ve told you that,” Sam chimed in.

“You have. You do. A lot.” Sam laughed, earning a helpless smile. “Everyone’s pretty sure I’m in love with you and I’m pretty sure they’re right.”

He met Sam’s gaze, breath catching at the wonder he found there. Was it possible Sam had been just as much in the dark? “Yeah?”

“Yeah. I’m not sure about a lot of things, but I’m sure about you.” A warm smile slowly spread across Sam’s face, the soft light in his eyes leaving Bucky weak and nearly wordless in response. He struggled to find his voice. “So… we should probably go on a date.”

Sam bit down a laugh when Bucky’s voice cracked in the middle. “You’re serious?”

“Sam,” he began, glowering.

“You’re actually serious?” He repeated with a smile. “That’s how you ask someone out? That wasn’t even a question.”

“Don’t make me say it.”

“I have to. I’m giving you gold right now. I look amazing tonight, I’m funny and charming. I’m a catch, you’re really lucky, you know that?” Bucky rolled his eyes, even had his hand tightened around Sam’s.

“Yeah, I know,” he said softly and Sam quieted, smiling in response.

Pulling Bucky into his arms, he murmured, “I’m lucky, too.”