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Sam’s not exactly sure when it happened. Okay, well, that’s not actually true. He knows when it happened. It had been a few months after the Flagsmashers event in New York City. It hadn’t taken long for them to realize it was easier if Bucky moved to Louisiana. So, Bucky broke the lease on his apartment in Brooklyn and bought a cottage fifteen minutes away from Sam and Sarah’s house. They’d slowly built a new team up over a few months, started going on missions again for the government with Rhodey’s help, they made a good pair.

 

But then there’d been a particularly tough mission, one that had wound them both up so tight that it just … exploded. The next thing Sam knew he was pressed against the door of Bucky’s place and they were going at each other, breathless, and eager for it. Bucky had looked at him then like Sam was something he wanted to devour, something to take apart and put back together, who could resist that look from Bucky Barnes really.  

 

Those looks hadn’t stopped either. It wasn’t a routine thing for them, the hook-ups. But they happened at least a few times a month, always after a mission, they never talked about it afterwards either. Sam never slept over at Bucky’s place, even though a few times he’d really wanted to, had been close, he always just gave Bucky a punch on the shoulder then left. Every time though, Bucky fixed that look on him, so intense, so furtive, that every time Sam thought maybe they were making a mistake here. 

 

All that to say is that, yeah, they fucked sometimes. It was always good. But that’s all it was. It wasn’t anything more. 

 

“You gonna take the shot?” Bucky huffs out as he stands between Sam and the basket. 

 

It’s a cool Sunday morning in early October, they’re playing their normal Sunday game of pick-up at the court by the river downtown. Bucky’s covered in sweat, his hair sticks to his forehead a little, Sam has the urge to push it away for him but he doesn’t. He hates that he even has the urge. 

 

“Overthinking.” Sam watches as Bucky’s eyebrows raise in question, he uses the moment to push past Bucky for a lay up. He turns back around with a smirk at Bucky. “5-4, me. Your turn to buy breakfast.” 

 

Bucky frowns, points at Sam. “You cheated. I was distracted.” 

 

“Uhm, no, I won because you weren’t paying attention.” Sam spins the ball on his finger, smirks. 

 

Bucky narrows his eyes at Sam before lifting his shirt to wipe the sweat from his face. Sam turns away and swallows thickly. 

 

“What do you want for breakfast then? You pick and I’ll buy.” Bucky says as he walks over to the bed of Sam’s truck, pulls out his gym bag, throws his sweat soaked shirt into and grabs a towel. Sam distracts himself by wiping his own sweat away and changing shirts, as he pulls his shirt over his head he thinks he sees Bucky watching him too but when he turns towards him he’s looking the other way. 

 

They end up with coffee and breakfast burritos downtown by the river. It’s companionable, like all their Sunday mornings are, he likes Bucky, he’s a good friend. 

 

It’s nice to be able to just sit in silence with Bucky, share space with him. Not talk about anything in particular. Sometimes when they get breakfast they talk about a mission the previous week, talk about the game they just played, talk about the boys, Sarah, or even just trade war stories to one up each other. 

 

It’s easy with him. It’s always easy with Bucky. 

 

+

 

“Shut up or someone will hear you.” Sam hisses as he pulls off of Bucky. 

 

They’re in the cargo hold of the plane, somewhere over the pacific, in the middle of the night, and of course Bucky can’t shut the hell up. He’s got his hands on the back of Sam’s neck, soft, but applying firm pressure. 

 

Bucky looks down, squeezes Sam’s neck affectionately. “Don’t be so good at sucking my dick then, Wilson.” 

 

He looks up at Bucky then, heavy lidded, a little goaded on by Bucky’s tone. He gets back to it with his usual enthusiasm, pins Bucky’s hips to the wall, it doesn’t take long before Bucky’s stuttering his hips and groaning out Sam’s name. Sam pulls off of him, stands up, tilts Bucky’s chin up and kisses him. It’s filthy, but he knows that Bucky likes it, Bucky tries to follow Sam’s lips when he pulls away. 

 

“If Joaquin heard you, that’s on you.” Sam says as Bucky grabs him and flips their positions so that Sam’s pinned against the wall. 

 

“You’re not so quiet about it either, you know.” Bucky says as he slides to his knees. 

 

Sam’s quiet as hell just to prove him wrong. 

 

+

 

“Stop cheating!” Sam shouts as Bucky once again gets handsy with him. “Keep your hands above my waist.” 

 

Bucky grins, cocks his head to the side. “This is the only time you’ll say that sentence.” Sam freezes up, Bucky takes that as the chance to get the ball from Sam and runs behind him, he makes his shot easily. He turns back, hands in the air in triumph, points at Sam. “I win! 5-4, me!” 

 

“Okay, yeah, have your moment. This rarely happens. Enjoy it.” Sam says with a roll of his eyes as he bends down to pick up the ball. “You get to pick breakfast.” 

 

“You know where I want to go.” Bucky says with a huge grin, eyes crinkled at the corners. 

 

Sam groans. 

 

They end up at fucking Waffle House because Bucky has literally no taste whatsoever. Bucky orders so many pancakes that Sam thinks he might be sick. He gets an omelet and some coffee, watches as Bucky keeps making room for pile after pile of pancakes. 

 

“You know they’re better made at home, right?” 

 

“Sure but then I have to put the work in.” Bucky waves a forkful of pancakes at Sam. “They’re good, you just don’t want to admit it. You’re a contrarian.” 

 

“Excuse me?” Sam scoffs. 

 

Bucky blinks, chews his pancakes. “You like the same things as I do, you just like to pretend that you don’t. You think it’s funny.” 

 

“Whatever.” Sam says, drinks some of his coffee. “Eat your pancakes, Barnes.” 

 

Bucky’s right, he is a contrarian, he’s just pissed that Bucky knows him well enough now to know that. 

 

+

 

“You can stand to hurry it up.” Sam groans, head tilted back against the pillow. 

 

Bucky stops moving, looks Sam dead in the eye, grins big and wide. “Just for that, I’m going to go even slower.” 

 

Sam digs his nails into Bucky’s shoulders, grits his teeth. Bucky’s always like this, he’s so infuriating. Sam regrets saying anything because Bucky does slow down, he fucks Sam torturously slow, that grin never leaving his face. There’s a challenge behind his eyes, like he wants Sam to test him, goad him on further. Sam doesn’t though, he just digs his heels into Bucky’s back and tries to spur him into going faster. 

 

It’s been such a long day, they’d stumbled into Bucky’s place after a two day mission in Colorado of all places, Sam just wanted a good old fuck but of course Bucky had something else in mind. 

 

Sam closes his eyes, gives into the moment, opens his eyes back up when Bucky starts to move faster. Bucky leans down, kisses Sam then, a few minutes later he’s coming, Sam following him not long after. 

 

They lay there for a few moments before Bucky pulls away first. 

 

Bucky comes back from the bathroom in just boxer briefs, tosses a towel at Sam. “Wanna order pizza and watch a movie?” 

 

Sam should leave, he’s tired, but he won’t say no to pizza. “No pineapple.”

 

Bucky sighs sadly. “Fine.” 

 

They watch a movie, eat their pizza in silence. When Bucky throws an arm over his shoulder during the movie, Sam doesn’t move. He lets it rest there, solid, heavy and warm against him. 

 

+

 

They’re sitting in the conference room of the new compound, listening to some update on another world ending event from Danvers when Peter slides his chair a few inches closer to Sam. Sam looks over at him sternly for a brief second before turning back to the presentation. He chances a look over at Bucky who’s raptly paying attention, drumming his fingers against the table, his jaw is clenched. He looks tense. 

 

Peter leans even more into Sam’s space and whispers, “Hey so are you and Mr. Barnes dating?” 

 

Sam chokes on his coffee. “What?” 

 

Bucky glances over at them when Sam chokes, gives him a questioning look but Sam waves him off. 

 

“Oh, I’m sorry if everyone doesn’t know yet. I was just curious. The way you guys keep looking at each other. The vibes, it’s a lot you know.” Peter says as he glances between Bucky at the other end of the conference table and Sam. 

 

“No, we aren’t dating.” Sam says firmly. 

 

“Really? You’re sure?” Peter asks as if Sam wouldn’t know if he was dating Bucky. 

 

Sam rolls his eyes. “I think I’d know if I was dating someone.” 

 

“Damn. Alright.” And then Peter opens his wallet, takes out a crisp $20 and slides it to Rocket across the table. 

 

What the hell. 

 

+

 

It’s always aliens. 

 

They were in a field in North Dakota fighting small, yellow, aliens that have some nefarious scheme that Sam hadn’t had the time to learn. It’s draining. He hated it. Sometimes he hates his job. He likes after the missions though, the time he spends with Bucky. 

 

“You coming back to my place?” Bucky asks with a small grin, a familiar grin, as they climb out of the quinjet at the airport. 

 

Sam climbs into the truck, starts it, turns to Bucky. “Do you want me to come back to your place?” 

 

“I think you want me to want you to come back to my place.” Bucky tries for a joking tone but Sam hears the intention behind it. Sees the way that Bucky’s leg is bouncing in the passenger seat, his jaw ever so slightly clenched, before he turns to look at Sam. 

 

“Think you can make it to your place? You seem riled up.” Sam observes. 

 

Bucky’s eyes go dark, he licks his lips. He doesn’t say anything though, he turns to look out the window as Sam pulls the truck out of the airport with a wave at the security man at the booth. They’re quiet most of the drive to Bucky’s place, it takes a lot of resolve on Sam’s behalf to not pull over on the side of the road to suck Bucky’s dick right there, especially so when Bucky reaches out to place a hand on his thigh. 

 

The truck isn’t off for more than a second before they’re clamoring out of the truck to run up the steps of Bucky’s small, white cottage that he’s renting. Once inside, Sam finds himself pushed against the door, Bucky’s fingers deftly removing his uniform even though it would take Sam double the time to remove it. Sam hisses when Bucky places an open mouth kiss just above where his heart is beating out of his chest. Bucky looks up, smirks, then trails kisses down Sam’s chest. They don’t even make it to the bedroom. Bucky blows him right there against the front door, Sam’s hands in his hair, coming down Bucky’s throat with a groan and Bucky’s name on his lips. 

 

“To take the edge off.” Bucky teases, all red, swollen lips. He stands and kisses Sam, Sam can taste himself on the kiss, it’s intoxicating. “Think you can fuck me in a few minutes, make it last a while?” 

 

Sam’s eyes go heavy lidded at the thought of it. “It’ll take me a while before I can come again. Not all of us have an almost non-existent refractory period.” 

 

“That’s the point. I want to feel it, don’t hold back. Think you can do it?” Bucky teases with a look thrown at Sam over his shoulder as he walks towards his bedroom. 

 

Sam groans and tilts his head back against the door for a second before pushing off to follow Bucky. He removes the rest of his clothing as he goes, finds an already naked Bucky on the bed, waiting with a warm, easy grin. 

 

“Get over here, Wilson.” 

 

Sam walks over to the bed and climbs on, Bucky pulls him down so every inch of them lines up. Sam leans down to kiss Bucky, opens his eyes to watch him as they kiss. Bucky looks content, happy, vulnerable all at once. Sam loves him like this. 

 

Wait

 

Sam pulls away from Bucky then, watches as his eyes blink open in confusion. “Sam?” 

 

He doesn’t want to think about it. He can’t think about it. So, he just reaches down and strokes Bucky’s cock. It makes Bucky close his eyes and sigh, lean his head back against the pillow. Sam leans down and presses hot, open mouth kisses to Bucky’s throat. Feels the pulse of Bucky’s rapid heart beat against his lips. 

 

“What do you want?” Sam asks roughly. Whatever Bucky he wants. He’ll give it to him. 

 

“You know what I want.” Bucky answers, presses a tender kiss to Sam’s jaw. 

 

Yeah, Sam does know. He reaches over to the bedside table, grabs the lube and a condom, makes quick work to coat his fingers. Then he’s kissing Bucky again, impossibly slow, hard at the same time, and presses a finger in. Bucky’s mouth opens at the press of the first finger in, they’re not kissing now, just sharing air as Sam slowly works Bucky wide open. 

 

Sam .” Bucky sighs, eyes squeezed shut, throat bared for Sam again. 

 

Sam presses tender kisses to Bucky’s throat, his collarbone, his bicep, where his metal arm meets flesh. He reaches down and pulls up Bucky’s leg so it’s slung over his shoulder, trails his hand down Bucky’s thigh, leaving a trail of lube but he doesn’t care. He slicks himself up as Bucky watches, Bucky’s eyes half lidded, his hands gripping Sam’s sides as Sam slides in with a groan. 

 

“Hey, hey. Look at me.” Bucky says when Sam tries to bury his head in Bucky’s shoulder. “Come on, give me this, please .” 

 

Oh . Sam presses his forehead to Bucky’s as he fucks him soft and slow. He feels the burn of a second release build inside him, almost impossibly, only Bucky could ever do this to him. Will ever do this to him. 

 

They never fuck like this. It’s always rushed, from behind, they don’t look into each other’s eyes during it. This is why, maybe. Sam thinks he’ll never be able to do this again now that he’s had it this way. He doesn’t think he can do it again actually. 

 

Bucky pulls Sam down then, arms around his shoulders, mouth to Sam’s ear. “Come on, let go. Let go, Sam.” 

 

Sam reaches down to stroke Bucky, feels Bucky stiffen, feels his come against his fingers. Sam’s own orgasm hits him so hard that all he can do it’s fall onto Bucky, into his arms, and bury his face in Bucky’s sweat soaked neck. They’re both panting, sweaty, Sam pulls out even when Bucky tries to hold him close. 

 

They lay there side by side on the bed, both stare up at the ceiling. Something’s different now, Sam feels it in his skin, in his bones, his heart. 

 

Sam has to get out of here. 

 

“Thanks.” Sam says, knows it’s stupid the second he says it. He stands and fumbles around in Bucky’s drawers for some of his spare clothes he’s left at Bucky’s place over the past few months. He dresses with his back to Bucky, when he turns around Bucky is eyeing him warily. 

 

Bucky bites his lip. “Sam, it’s okay. Just stay.” 

 

“I gotta get home. Stuff to do.” 

 

“It’s 10 p.m. at night. What do you have to do? Stay.” Bucky sits up in the bed on his knees, reaches out for Sam, wraps his arms around Sam’s neck to pull him in. “Just stay tonight, please .” 

 

The soft please, Bucky asking Sam for something, Sam sighs and shakes his head. “Fine.” 

 

He lets himself get pulled back into the bed with Bucky. He lets Bucky pull him  in close, he lets Bucky curl around him, he lets himself fall asleep in Bucky’s arms. He lets himself have it, just for the night, because soon he’s going to stop whatever this is that they’re doing. But tonight, they can have this at least. Tonight he can have Bucky.  

 

+

 

They’re playing their Sunday basketball game when Sam decides to bring it up. 

 

“I think we should stop hooking up.” Sam says as he shoots from the free throw line. 

 

Bucky freezes for a moment, stands up straight to level a questioning look at Sam. His eyebrows are furrowed, shoulders tense, he looks like Sam’s just punched him. It makes Sam want to go to him, pull him in close, which makes him even more sure that he’s making the right call. Because he cannot be thinking those thoughts about Bucky. 

 

Bucky runs a hand through his sweaty hair, wipes his forehead with his forearm. “What do you mean stop?” 

 

“I think we should stop hooking up.” Sam pauses, takes a breath. “We should stop.” 

 

Bucky blinks. “Why?” 

 

“You need a reason? Maybe I just want to stop.” Sam scoffs, tilts his head. 

 

Bucky chews his lip, looks away from Sam, bends down to grab the ball that rolled to a stop at his feet. 

 

“Seems kind of sudden is all. Is this about the other night?” Bucky asks. 

 

It’s 100% about the other night but Sam’s not going to admit that. 

 

“No, I just think… the team’s questioning us now. I don’t need it affecting the team.” Sam grabs the ball from Bucky, shoots it again over his head. “5-3, me. I win.” 

 

“You cheated, again .” Bucky sighs in exasperation. “You’re a cheater, Wilson.” 

 

“It’s not cheating. It’s taking advantage of my opponent. I know your weakness.” Sam jokes, well he tries to joke, but then a look crosses Bucky’s face that scares him a little. It’s vulnerable. He looks like he wants to say something else but he doesn’t, his face goes carefully blank again, he uses his shirt to wipe the sweat from his face. Sam looks away. 

 

“Whatever. I’m not paying for a full breakfast. You can get whatever smoothie you want at the smoothie bar though.” 

 

They walk to their respective vehicles in silence. There’s a tension between them that Sam can’t shake. 

 

“We good?” Sam asks as Bucky climbs onto his bike. 

 

“Yeah, Sammy. We’re good.” He starts the bike, leans back, appraises Sam. It makes Sam’s body go hot, that familiar heat he’s gotten used to the past few months. “No extra protein in your smoothie. Standard smoothie today.” 

 

“Jeez, on a budget all of a sudden?” 

 

“No, I just don’t think cheaters should get extra protein in their breakfast smoothies.” 

 

Then he pulls his helmet on and Sam watches him pull out of the parking lot. He climbs into his truck to follow, hopes nothings changed, hopes that he’s made the right decision. 

 

+

 

“Hey, you and Barnes okay?” Scott asks as they handcuff the men knocked out on the ground in the warehouse they’d infiltrated. 

 

Sam huffs. “Yeah, why?” 

 

Scott sighs, shakes his head softly. “Break-ups are hard, man.” 

 

Sam stands up slowly, drops the man he’d been handcuffing a little roughly to the ground. He looks around, no one else is close to them, so no one else hears Scott. He looks across the warehouse to where Bucky’s standing in the corner, he’s talking with Joaquin about something, his hands waving around, he looks pissed. He must feel Sam’s eyes on him because he turns then, smiles tightly at Sam then goes back to talking to Joaquin. 

 

“We were never dating.” 

 

“Hmmm.” Scott hums, comes to stand next to Sam and looks at Bucky. “Are you sure about that?” 

 

“That’s the second one of you to ask me that. I think I’d fucking know if I was dating Bucky.” Sam bristles, walks away from Scott. 

 

He finds Bucky later on the plane as everyone else is resting with their eyes closed. Sits down next to him on the bench, presses his shoulder into Bucky’s. 

 

“Sarah’s having a cookout next weekend. Can you make it?” 

 

Bucky tilts his head. “If you want me there.” 

 

“Of course I want you there, Bucky.” Sam reassures, he finds that he means it. Of course he wants him there. He always wants him there. 

 

Bucky smiles, nods, leans his head back against the plane. “Then I’ll be there.” 

 

Simple as that. 

 

+

 

“What’s going on with you and Bucky?” Sarah asks as they sit at the table shucking corn. 

 

“Nothing. We’ve just been busy, you know how it is.” 

 

“Y’all break up?” Sarah asks without looking up from the table. 

 

That gets Sam’s attention. His own fucking sister, really? 

 

“Sarah.” Sam pauses. “We were never dating.” 

 

She stops what she’s doing, looks up at Sam, like he’s the stupidest man on earth. “Are you for real right now, Samuel?” 

 

“What the hell. Yeah, I’m for real. We were never dating!” 

 

She clicks her tongue, shakes her head. “You both look at each other like you’re in love. Everyone sees it. Not my fault if you two are too stupid to see it for yourselves. Whatever you’ve been doing, figure it out. You’re too old for intimacy issues.” 

 

“I’m too old for intimacy issues? What the hell is that? Jesus.” Sam kicks at her under the table like when they were kids. 

 

“I’m just saying.” She pauses, gives him an exasperated look. “Holding back because you’re scared something can go wrong is so typical of you. Just think about what you’re missing out on if things go right .” 

 

Sam doesn't say anything else. He just keeps shucking his corn.

 

Bucky shows up a few hours later with a bottle of wine for Sarah and store bought cupcakes for the kids. Which gets him delighted squeals and hugs. Sam watches him with Sarah and the boys, with his friends, watches him smile like he should’ve been at the cookout from the start. Like he’s family. Something in Sam’s chest goes tight. He knows what it is, he’s known for a while, he just hates it. 

 

Bucky finds him a few hours later sitting on the dock behind the house. “Samuel.” Bucky whispers, hands him a beer. 

 

“Thanks.” Sam smiles, grabs the beer from Bucky, takes a sip. The sun’s just set behind the trees, the water looks orange and pink from the sunset. He turns then to look at Bucky, who’s incidentally looking at him, that look on his face that used to only be reserved for their stolen moments alone in his bedroom. His face is so full of adoration, of love, that it makes Sam feel scared. He knows his face looks the same way sometimes. That’s why everyone thinks they’ve been dating. 

 

“Nice cookout.” Bucky tips his beer back, takes a sip. 

 

They sit there for a while, legs hanging from the dock, looking out at the still water. It’s companionable, like it always is, and Sam finds that all he wants to do is kiss him. He wants to kiss him as the sun sets, kiss him in the morning, kiss him as he eats plates of pancakes, hold him close through the night. 

 

He fucking hates it. 

 

“Thanks for coming.” Sam chokes out, instead of absolutely anything else. 

 

Bucky grins, nods, tilts his head then a little to look at Sam. But then he looks back out at the water, leans back on his hands. Sam doesn’t know how long they sit there for but it’s dark by the time they head back to the house, everyone gone, and Sarah’s eyeing them with a shit eating grin on her face. Sam glares at her behind Bucky’s back. 

 

+

 

It’s dusk on Sunday morning, the birds have just started to wake up, the skies a purple pink, and Sam’s at the court making free throws. It’s different, playing without Bucky, it’s not as fun. He’s mad that he misses Bucky, that he misses this stupid routine, that he misses the companionship. He’s mostly mad he misses just spending time with Bucky, his laugh, his gentle teasing. He’s mid-shot when he hears the sound of Bucky’s motorcycle, the tell tale rumble, and turns around to see Bucky climbing off. 

 

He’s in gym shorts and a workout tee, so he’s here to play. Sam runs to the basketball on the ground, picks up, turns back around to face Bucky on the court. 

 

“What’re you doing here?” He asks, canting his chin up in a show of defiance. 

 

“It’s Sunday. We play basketball on Sunday’s.” Bucky leans forward and grabs the ball from Sam’s hands, dribbles in twice, then looks back at Sam with a grin. “You can’t get rid of me that easily, Samuel.” 

 

“Wasn’t trying to get rid of you.” Sam grumbles. 

 

Bucky backs up with a grin so he’s at the free throw line now, shoots, hits the backboard and the ball lands at Sam’s feet. They stare at each other for a few beats. 

 

“What are we playing for?” Sam asks. 

 

Bucky looks thoughtful for a second, runs a hand over the stubble on his jaw, then grins. “If I win, we keep doing what we were doing. If you win, then we stop, for good.” 

 

Sam laughs. “So, it’s like that.” 

 

“Looks like we both have an incentive to win.” Bucky darts forward then, grabs the ball from Sam, dribbles and runs to the hoop, shoots, makes it. “1-0, me.” 

 

Sam grabs the ball off the ground, levels a stare at Bucky. He bounces the ball once, twice, a third time and then tilts his head to the side. 

 

“Alright, first to five wins.” 

 

“Four more points and I win then.” Bucky smirks, feints towards Sam so that Sam has to pull back with the ball. 

 

Sam dribbles, licks his lips, Bucky’s eyes flick down to watch the movement just like Sam knew he would. He runs past Bucky and shoots, the ball flies through the basket with a woosh

 

“1-1, now.” 

 

“You cheated again as always.” Bucky leans down to grab the ball, dribbles it. “That’s your only move.” 

 

Sam guffaws. “How’d I cheat?” 

 

“You know how.” Bucky narrows his eyes. “I can play that game too.” Then he smirks and yanks his shirt off. 

 

Sam’s mouth immediately goes dry, he feels like he might choke. Bucky grins, ties the laces around the waist of his gym shorts, then tugs them down a fraction so Sam can see just a hint of hair. He remembers then what Bucky tastes like, how it sounds when he comes, the adoring look he gives Sam afterwards. 

 

He’s the devil, the fucking devil. When Sam looks back at Bucky’s face, he’s grinning, eyes alight with mischief, he dribbles and tries to move around Sam but Sam follows him. Bucky huffs out an annoyed grunt, holds the ball for a second, then grins again and swerves around Sam to make his second basket. 

 

“2-1, me.”  

 

Sam’s annoyed now, knows it shows in his face, so he grabs the ball where it’s bouncing at their feet and immediately shoots. 

 

“2-2, tied.” Sam smirks, tilts his head enough just to anger Bucky. It works. 

 

Bucky glares at  Sam. “That’s actually cheating.”

 

“We didn’t set any rules. All's fair in basketball.” 

 

Bucky jogs to grab the ball, spins it a few times in his hand, looks at Sam with that intense stare of his. He shoots from the corner of the court then, misses, it bounces off the hoop and lands a few feet from Sam. 

 

Sam grabs the ball, dribbles it, Bucky jogs and stands in front of him, close, too close. Sam can smell his aftershave, can see the freckles that scatter his shoulders, he remembers how they taste too. Sam shoves him with his shoulder and runs to the basket, he shoots, the ball goes through the hoop with a woosh

 

“3-2, me.” 

 

“I do have one question for you.” Bucky says as he dribbles the ball, tries to feint to get by Sam but Sam follows him so he can’t. “Why’d you break it off that night? What happened?” 

 

Sam doesn’t want to talk about it. He doesn’t want to talk about how Bucky had been so gentle with him, so attentive, sweet, that something inside Sam broke that night. Too many emotions. He hadn’t wanted to feel what he felt that night, but he had, and if he can’t go back then he could stop whatever it was they’re doing. 

 

“Are we talking or playing basketball?” Sam asks, a little out of breath, as Bucky shoots from the corner and misses. 

 

“We can do both. At least I can.” 

 

“Man, I’m not talking about this.”

 

Bucky bites his lip, looks down at his feet for a second, then runs to be between Sam and the basket. He’s blocking, but only half heartedly now, Sam’s not sure why. Sam shoots, the ball skims around the rim, looks like it might fall back out but at the last minute tilts in. 

 

“4-2, me.” 

 

“Yeah, Jesus, I know.” Bucky grimaces, grabs the ball. He holds it for a second, looks from Sam’s hands then back up to his face. “I felt what you felt that night too.”

 

Then he shoots, because he has Sam disarmed and frozen, and he makes it. 

 

Bucky turns to look at Sam and says, “4-3, now.” 

 

“You don’t know what I felt that night.” Sam bites out as he picks up the ball. “We we’re just fucking, Bucky. That’s it.”

 

Bucky laughs. “Tell yourself that I guess.” He bounces the ball to Sam, lifts his chin a little. “Your shot.” 

 

Sam wants to take the shot, make it, have this all be over with. They can go back to being just partners, maybe, maybe after some time everything he feels will go away. They never should’ve started whatever they’d been doing in the first place. 

 

“What I don’t understand,” Bucky says, “is why you think I wouldn’t be in love with you too?” 

 

Sam meets Bucky’s eyes then, sees the sincerity in them, the vulnerability in them. He runs past Bucky and jumps, the ball goes in with an easy woosh , the net swinging a little after the ball falls to the ground. He turns back to Bucky, sees his face carefully recompose itself, the vulnerability from moments before gone. 

 

“Guess that’s that then.” Bucky says with a forced laugh. 

 

Bucky turns to leave then and something inside Sam cracks all over again, like it did a few weeks ago. He’s totally bungled this, he has to fix it. 

 

“Double or nothing?” Sam calls out before he can change his mind. 

 

Bucky freezes, turns around mid-way through the court to look at Sam. He looks hopeful, the look on his face spurs Sam into walking towards him. Once he reaches Bucky, he pauses, lays a hand on Bucky’s hip and pulls him in. 

 

“Double or nothing?” He asks again, softer, his eyes never leaving Bucky’s. 

 

“Sammy.” Bucky breathes out. He reaches up, cups Sam’s face with his hands, rubs his thumbs along Sam’s cheekbones. He looks at Sam then, the way he always had when they hooked up, like he couldn’t believe he was holding Sam. It’s a look that Sam tried so hard to ignore for so long but now that he sees now, here, it’s how he always wants Bucky to look at him. Sam doesn’t know how he missed it, how he hadn’t realized he could have all of Bucky until now. 

 

“There’s no halfway for me. All in or not at all.” No more hookups, Sam wants to say, but he doesn’t. He wants everything with Bucky, the inside jokes, falling asleep in his arms, waking up in his bed, all the good and bad together. He wants to love Bucky and allow himself to be loved in return. “Can you do that?” 

 

Bucky laughs. “Sweetheart, I’ve been all in. You’re the one just now catching up.” 

 

Then he leans forward and kisses Sam. It’s soft, hard, everything at the same time. Sam sighs into it, tries to deepen the kiss but Bucky chuckles softly and pulls away. 

 

“We’re in public.” Bucky whispers, kisses Sam’s lips softly one more time then pulls away. “Come back to my place and stay. Give me your nights and your mornings. No more leaving, just stay.” 

 

Sam thinks for a moment, then smirks, squeezes Bucky’s hip. “Alright but you’re buying breakfast since I won.” 

 

Bucky laughs, a big loud laugh, his eyes crinkle in the corners. He grabs Sam’s hand, pulls him towards his bike and Sam’s truck. “I think we both won. I’ll buy you whatever you want though. Whatever you want, it’s yours.”

 

“Okay, cut it out.” Sam groans and bumps their shoulders together. “No mushiness.”

 

“Damn.” Bucky whistles, shakes his head. “Tell a guy that I love him and then I can’t even be mushy? What’s the point?”

 

Oh .  

 

Sam pitches forward and kisses him again then. “No breakfast, let’s just go home.”

 

“Yeah?” Bucky asks as he throws a leg over his bike. The suns just coming up over the trees now, it adds a glow to Bucky, he looks happy, content. Sam wants him so much that it hurts. 

 

“Race you there?” Sam asks with a wiggle of his eyebrows as he climbs into the truck. 

 

“Not everything needs to be a competition, Wilson!”

 

“First one there gets a blow job in the shower!” Sam yells as he starts his truck. 

 

He’s never seen Bucky start his motorcycle so fast before. They race home, Sam isn’t really sure who ends up winning, he just knows he won, in every way that counts.