Sam leaves quietly in the middle of Bruce and Old Steve explaining how Steve decided to fuck off and go stay in 1940’s and not tell the guy who’s stood by his side for the past 4 years about the girl he went back for. He’s aware of Bucky quietly trailing behind him as he walks through the woods but he doesn’t turn to see and he doesn’t stop to wait for Bucky to catch up.
When he gets to his car is when he finally faces the man and he jingles his keys in his hand. “The guy you usually follow is still back there.”
Bucky stands there with his hands in his pockets, smiling softly. Just like he had by the lake, when Steve had ripped Sam’s heart out and gave him a shield in return.
“Guy I followed stayed in the 40's without me, so. Maybe I don’t follow him anymore.”
Sam raises an eyebrow at him. “This is called transference Bucky. You can’t replace your Steve Shaped Hole with the nearest warm body, no matter how awesome I may be.” He smiles because it’s a joke, but it’s a jagged hard line and it’s fooling neither of them.
Bucky blinks, nods, and opens Sam’s passenger door and slips into the car. Sam stands there blinking at the air and the roof of his car for a full minute before folding into the drivers seat.
“Bucky. Maybe can a guy get a minute alone?”
Bucky looks over at him. “You’re my ride, Sam. We came the three of us together. Now there’s two of us leaving.”
Sam’s left hand tightens on the steering wheel in front of him as he starts the car, knuckles going white from the pressure. “Fine,” he says, and then makes divots in the dirt underneath the wheels as he takes off too fast.
They drive in silence the two hours to the hotel room they’d checked into that morning, the only noise the whistling wind through a misfitted passenger side back door where it gapped at the upper right hand side of the window.
Sam has to pass the stupid card key through three times beofre the hotel door light blinks green and he jerks the door open only to stop in his tracks when the first thing he sees is Steve’s folded dirty laundry on the dresser nearest the door.
“Son of a bitch.”
Bucky walks past him with a hand to his shoulder, gently maneuvering Sam out of the way. His gaze also lingers on the remnants of Steve’s travel accessories but he remains silent and sits on the bed.
Sam drops the shield unceremoniously on the floor by the side of the bed, the metallic clang rattles in his head enough to give him a headache.
“Shower,” he gruffs out, and then grabs his duffle bag and heads into the bathroom.
When he comes out, hot steam follows him out of the bathroom door and he’s got lose sweatpants around his hips and a threadbare Air Force tee on. Bucky doesn’t seem to have moved an inch.
Sam sits next to Bucky and stares at the spot on the desk that Bucky seems to be staring at, trying to see what the hell is so interesting about cracked walls. Giving up he flops backwards on the bed and shoves his knee into Bucky’s side. “This is my bed. You’re the other one.”
“Come on, Sam,” Bucky says, still looking at the wall. “Just say what you’re not saying.”
Sam plants his feet on the edge of the bed and shoves his body the rest of the way up until his head is on the pillows. “And what am I not saying?”
Bucky lets out a huff of annoyed air, and it’s the first emotion Sam’s seen out of him since standing by the stupid lake after Steve dropped his bomb. “I don’t know, Sam. You’re not saying it.”
“May be cuz I got nothing to say, man,” Sam says, closing his eyes and folding his arms on his stomach.
The snort of a laugh makes Sam’s eyes open and his head lift up to look at Bucky, because it’s not a noise he’s used to from him. “Sam you always got something to say.”
“Not today,” Sam says.
“I get it,” Bucky says, and Sam feels a hand wrap around his ankle. It makes him want to kick Bucky in the face, so he clenches his fists and closes his eyes again. “You’re pissed.”
“Ha,” Sam laughs out, and it’s not a laugh at all, it’s a four letter curse word and it tastes bitter in his throat. “What in the world would I be pissed about, huh?”
Sam kicks his foot to the side, dislodging Bucky’s grip on it. “Shut the fuck up.”
“I’m not exactly happy either, Sam.”
Another laugh barks out of Sam and then Sam sits bolt up right in bed, folding his legs in and leaning into Bucky’s space. “Yeah? You seem pretty fucking zen, Buck. But then again, you he said goodbye to, didn’t he? You, he gave closure to.”
Bucky frowns. “You think I feel any kind of closure? All I’ve had for as long as I can remember is shit that shifts around me without me having any goddamn control over it, you think I’m settled?”
Sam seethes in every inch of his body, a livewire of anger and bitterness and an aching emptiness. “Then why the fuck are you so calm?”
“We get what we get when we get it,” Bucky says quietly, looking up at Sam. “Other than that, we move on.”
“Seems like that might be easier with a heads up,” Sam spits out, and suddenly, horrifyingly, finds himself on the verge of tears. Lump swelling up in the back of his throat, eyes pricking with tears. Grits his teeth to stave it off, hard enough to make his jaw ache. “How long?”
Bucky’s hand is back on his ankle, warm fingers pressing into the top of Sam’s foot. Sam feels frozen to the spot and his throat is sore and he’s so fucking exhausted.
“This morning,” Bucky answers, and thank God he didn’t make Sam clarify because he thinks he may just scream and rage and break things if Bucky tries to pretend like he doesn’t know exactly what Sam’s asking. “Before the funeral.”
Sam nods, biting his lip and looking down. “Sure. Course. While I was busy making sure Wanda was good, and the spider kid was okay. Gotta make sure Sam’s occupied so I wouldn’t interrupt you.” He snorts. “Me, always talking. Can’t have me interrupting.”
“Sam, that wasn’t it,” Bucky says, and he has never, not once, ever sounded this gentle and it makes Sam’s heart scream inside his chest.
Sam nods and barely registers that a tear falls out of his eye, only notices when it runs onto and off of his nose. “Sure. I’m sure it wasn’t. He just forgot. Didn’t get around to me.”
“Losing us fucked him up, Sam,” Bucky says, hand squeezing Sam’s ankle as another tear falls out of Sam’s eye, and God damnit, he refuses to reach up and wipe them away. “Then he lost Natalia, and it fucked him up more. I think losing Tony is what broke him though.”
“Natasha,” Sam says automatically. “Why do you call her that. Natalia. Her name was.” He closes his eyes as a fresh wave of pain racks through him, this one heavier but less confusing, because it’s grief and grief alone. “Her goddamn name was Natasha.”
Bucky nods. “Okay, Sam. Sorry. Natasha.”
“But we came back,” Sam says, and hates how small he sounds, hates how his voice shakes through it. “We came back, why wasn’t that enough. Why.” He clenches his hands int he blankets beneath him and squeezes his eyes shut, screams at himself to get it the fuck together already. “What the hell is back there that’s so special.”
Bucky waits until he opens his eyes and meets his before speaking. “Peggy.”
Sam rolls his eyes. “Peggy. Great. Sure. His long lost love. That’s great, Bucky. Meanwhile, I gave up everything for that man, two years searching for your ass, jail, two years on the run, and then Thanos took five years away on top of it, and I don’t even rate a fucking see you later.”
“I think those five years we lost was a lot harder on the living than it was on us.”
Sam jerks forward, closer to Bucky, his knee pressing sharply into Bucky’s hip. “Don’t tell me how hard shit is or isn’t for me.”
Bucky sighs, reaching up to rub a hand over his face. “What do you want from me Sam?”
Sam throws his arms out. “Get angry! Show you have feelings.” Leaning forward he pokes his finger into Bucky’s chest over his heart. “Fucking emote already!”
Bucky’s jaw clenches. “I’m tired of being angry.”
“So you just don’t feel anything,” Sam asks, snorting out a derisive laugh. “You really are a cyborg.”
Bucky’s jaw clenches again and Sam watches as his fists clench. “No Sam. I’m not. But what I feel isn’t angry.”
Sam rolls his eyes again, smirking. “Then what the fuck do you feel?”
“Sad,” Bucky yells, eyes flashing as he leans forward further into Sam’s space. “I feel fucking sad .”
Sam’s smirk turns into a smile. “Sound pretty mad now.”
“Yeah, cuz you piss me the fuck off,” Bucky yells, now poking his own finger in Sam’s chest. “I didn’t come back here with you to be your goddamn punching bag.”
Sam moves closer, voice lowering. “Then why did you come back here?”
“Because when I first came back, you used to say to me sometimes it helps to talk about your shit,” Bucky grits back. “Seemed like maybe you had some shit you’d want to talk about.”
“Yeah, I did,” Sam says, nodding. “And you never once did to me, so why the fuck would I to you?”
Bucky’s eyes are captivating, vacillating between angry and understanding, and never wavering from Sam’s. “Because who besides me would get what you’re feeling about Steve.”
They’re both breathing in hard little pants and Sam suddenly realizes there’s something else besides anger pumping through his veins right now as he and Bucky’s eyes remain locked. That barely contained zing of lust he’s felt whenever they’ve clashed against one another over the past two years, the want that washes over him when Bucky’s close enough for him to smell his shampoo, his soap, his underlying musk.
His eyes flick down to look at Bucky’s lips and he knows Bucky knows because it’s then that Bucky licks his bottom lip. “Maybe I don’t wanna talk,” he grouses.
“Then what do you want--”
Sam pulls Bucky forward by his shirt, crashing their lips together, breathes out as he pushes his tongue past Bucky’s lips and deepens it, reaching out his free hand to grasp Bucky’s shoulder to pull him closer.
“Sam,” Bucky whispers, stiffening and pulling back.
“Come on, we’ve been heading here since the start,” Sam says, pulling Bucky on top of him as he lays back on the bed. “What are we holding back from now?”
“You’re saying Steve’s why you’ve held back,” Bucky asks, pressing himself down on Sam, hard against his thigh despite the way he still holds himself back from kissing again.
“I’m saying I’m gunpowder and you’re the match and neither of us wanted to blow up Steve, but he’s not fucking here anymore,” Sam growls, “so fucking come on .”
Bucky moans, low and dirty as hell, and then crushes their lips together again as he lowers himself more fully on top of Sam, hand going to Sam’s hip to tug on the waistband of his sweats. “And here I thought I was the volatile agent,” Bucky says, biting at Sam’s jaw, scraping his teeth across the sensitive skin.
“That’s what everybody else thinks too,” Sam says, reaching up to slide his fingers through Bucky’s hair, gripping tight and yanking his head back to lick and bite into the side of Bucky’s neck. “I’m just better at hiding the fact I’m about to absolutely lose it.”
“You want me to take you apart,” Bucky says against Sajm’s throat, tugging Sam’s shirt up and moving to bite into Sam’s ample pectoral muscle as it’s exposed, tongue sliding slowly over the nipple. “Light the match and burn us both?”
“Less talking, more burning,” Sam says, shoving Bucky off of him and sitting up enough to yank his shirt off before reaching over to pull on Bucky’s shirt. “Get your fucking clothes off.”
Bucky kneels to peel his shirt off, reaching down and yanking on his own pants down, kicking them off the bed as he gets his hands on Sam’s sweats, pulling them down. “What do you want,” Bucky asks, leaning back down over Sam, wrapping his hand around Sam’s cock as he breathes in his face, eyes searching Sam’s. “Wanna fuck me? Me fuck you? Want me to suck your cock, jerk you off, fuck up against me til we both come?”
Sam, his sweatpants still binding his feet together as they’re only half pulled off, reaches up to grip Bucky’s hair again, pulling and yanking until he flips them over, lands on top of Bucky, kicks his sweats the rest of the way off, and grinds his hips down against him. “Don’t give a fuck, just wanna get off.”
Bucky sucks in a breath as Sam rocks against him and kisses the underside of Bucky’s chin before reaching up to grab Sam’s face, maneuvering him to kiss him properly. Kisses him until they both can’t breathe. Moans long and loud as their cocks slide wetly together with every movement.
“Oh fuck,” Sam hums as he lifts himself up slightly to wrap his fingers around both his own and Bucky’s cocks, pumping them together slowly and then faster. “Bucky, fuck.”
“Yeah, Sam, come on,” Bucky whispers back, hips jerking abortively into the slide of Sam’s hand. “Faster, harder, do it.”
Sam cries out as Bucky flips them again, smashes their hips together tighter, trapping his hand, smoothly pistoning his hips against Sam faster and harder, choked stuttered ahs punching out of Bucky’s lungs with every thrust.
“Come on, make me,” Sam mumbled against Bucky’s shoulder, slamming up to match Bucky’s thrusts in counterpoint. “Make me come, fuck.”
“Gonna,” Bucky gasps, thrusts becoming erratic as Sam bites into his collarbone. “Gonna come, Sam, fuck, I’m gonna--”
Sam wraps his arm around Bucky’s neck, pulls him tight down against him, as he’s taken over by the most powerful orgasm he’s felt in a good long damn while, jerking and twisting and moaning as he feels the wet hot liquid spill between them.
Bucky keens in the back of his throat and then Sam feels more come spurting out onto his stomach as Bucky comes too, shivering and shaking on top of him. “Fuck, fuck yeah, Sam.”
“Get off me,” Sam says after Bucky collapses on top of him, spent and limp. Bucky slides over to the side of them and sucks a wet kiss into Sam’s shoulder. “You need a shower.”
Bucky leans up on one elbow and stares at Sam until Sam looks at him. Leaning down he kisses Sam one final time, slow and languid, before he gets up and walks into the bathroom.
Sam lays there for a few moments until he hears the shower start up. Sits up and swings his legs over the side of the bed and begins pulling on his shirt, his boxers, his sweats. Standing he grabs the keys and his duffle, grabs the shield, and leaves with a fire burning in his chest while the water’s still running.
Months later, after Sam’s come back to himself more and more, that anger loosening and easing until a dull ache, feeling more and more like sadness and loss, he texts Bucky even though Bucky never texts back.
He doesn’t say sorry. Not for his anger getting the best of him, not for fucking and leaving, and not for giving up the Shield to the museum.
After Zemo, after Madripoor, after Riga, after Bucky’s helped him rebuild his family boat, as they stand in the field and work on angles and velocity and trade off catching the shield, only then does he apologize.
He doesn’t say it with an I’m sorry, he says it with an explanation. Opens himself up and lets Bucky see the insides of him, who he is, why he is, how he is, where he is. Bucky’s apology is more straightforward and it’s heartfelt and Sam feels those last embers of anger and sadness and loss settle into something manageable. Something tolerable.
And after Karli, after New York, when Bucky gets his first invite to the cookout when he doesn't even know what that really means for a community like Sam’s, they stand out on the dock and watch the sun go down.
That night Bucky stops Sam before he goes upstairs to bed, a hand on his wrist and a soft smile on his face.
“What’s up, Buck.”
“Maybe I’m not gunpowder anymore. I think maybe you’re not either,” Bucky says, stepping closer. Meeting Sam’s eyes he smiles wider. “But I still feel the fire, Sam. Do you?”
Sam doesn’t say anything, simply reaches over to lace his fingers through Bucky’s short hair and pull him forward into a kiss. Simpler. Gentler. Slower.
“I think maybe this,” Bucky says, leaning his forehead against Sam’s with his eyes closed, hands sliding down to grasp Sams hips, “is where we were always heading from the start, Sam.”
“I don’t know,” Sam says, spinning them around and pushing Bucky up against the wall and pressing his body against him. “Let’s find out.”