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“You have all the ingredients you want?”

Bucky sighed, nodding their head. “Yes Steve.”

“You know what you’re cooking?”

“Yes Steve.” Bucky narrowed their eyes at Steve. “Why are you doing this?”

“What, making sure that my best friend has the best date ever?” Steve shrugged, putting his hands on the table. “I’m sorry for wanting to make sure you have a great time.”

“Don’t do that Steve.”

“Do what?”

“The ‘I’m sorry for caring’ thing,” Bucky held up their hand when Steve opened his mouth to talk. “I’m good. Really . Stop worrying.”

Steve held up his hands. “I’m not trying to be trouble.”

“You’re always trouble.”

“Oh ha ha. Anyways, I don’t really know Clint. I just want what is best for you.”

Bucky smiled, finally knowing what was wrong with Steve. “You have nothing to worry about Steve. Clint’s great.”

“How would I know? I’ve met him once, and the two of you spent the whole time talking to each other.”

“That was before we were dating. This is different.”

It was different. Having the label on it was… different, was the only way Bucky could describe it. We haven’t changed, not really. We just hold hands a lot more.

“Earth to Barnes, you’re doing that thing again.”

Bucky narrowed their eyes at Steve, who was waving his hand in front of Bucky’s face. “What thing?”

“The thing where you start thinking about something else and zone out to everyone around you.” Steve shook his head. “I offered you a cup of tea, but you didn’t hear me.”

“You didn’t offer me a cup of tea. You hate tea.”

“And you love it. And I know if you don’t respond, you really are somewhere else.”

Before Bucky could figure out how to answer, there was a knock on the door.

Like the mature adults they were, Steve and Bucky stood up and walked over to the door calmly.

Calmly. Ha.

We’re not adults, never will be. We fought our way to the door; I wanted to be the one who opened it, and so did Steve.

In the end, Steve won out, pushing Bucky aside with a well-timed push.

“Clint! Welcome!”

“Uh, hi?” Clint looked very nervous to Bucky. He looks like he’s about to faint.

“Give him some space Steve,” Bucky stepped forward to push Steve out of the way. “Hi Clint.”

“Hey Bucky.”

Steve looked between the pair, before shaking his head. “Alright, alright, I’ll get out of your hair. Don’t get up to any mischief while I’m out.”

Bucky watched Steve leave, before waving Clint in. “Come on, no need to stand out in the hallway.”

“Thanks. Is Steve okay?”

“What makes you ask?”

“He seemed out of breath when he opened the door?”

Bucky laughed, leading Clint to the kitchen. “He raced me to the door.”

“Uh, why?”

“Because he’s Steve?” Bucky shrugged, offering Clint an apologetic expression. “It’s how he is.”

“Sounds like an interesting person.” Clint stood in the middle of the kitchen, hands on his hips and looking around. “This is impressive.”

“What, did you think I was lying?” Bucky was proud of the kitchen, okay? When they and Steve were tossing up between two apartments, Bucky successfully argued for this one, on the basis of this kitchen.

( “Come on Steve, you know we need a good kitchen.”

“But why?”

“Because then we can save money by cooking at home.”

“But you don’t cook.”

“I’m gonna learn.” )

And lean they did. Bucky was proud of the skills they had acquired since moving into this apartment, thank you for asking.

“Not lying per se,” Clint said, looking back at Bucky. “But over exaggerating? I thought that was a sure bet. So, what is the plan for this evening? You were very secretive over the phone.”

Bucky nodded, moving to rummage in the fridge. “I have a plan, yes.”

“Do you need a hand?”

Bucky stood up, arm full of food, and turned around, raising an eyebrow at Clint. “A hand? Really?”

Clint’s eyes went wide, and his hand flew to his forehead. “I am so, so sorry. I can’t believe I said that!”

Bucky very calmly took the food over to the bench top, putting down the food, before looking back at Clint.

“I really am-” Clint began apologising again, when Bucky burst out laughing. Clint’s apologetic expression turned confused. “What?”

Bucky waved Clint off, shaking their head. “I’m glad.”

“That I made fun of you?”

Bucky stopped laughing, and moved closer to Clint. “You didn’t make fun of me. You treated me like a person; you wouldn’t believe the amount of people who make a huge deal about ignoring the arm.”

“So you’re not upset at me?”

“Not a chance.” Bucky smiled at Clint, hoping to brighten the mood. “Want to cook a meal?”

“You want me to cook a meal?” Clint shook his head. “No way. I burn water.”

“You can’t burn water Clint.”

“I have.” Clint shook his head, looking like he was reliving a memory. “I have.”

“Well then,” Bucky smiled wide, hoping to bring Clint out of whatever memory he was in. “I suppose it’s a good thing that we’re not using water.”

“We’re not?”

Bucky shook their head. “Not really. Can I get you to begin by washing the vegetables? I mean,” Bucky faced Clint, a smile on their face. “Can I trust you to wash the vegetables?”

“Oh ha ha,” Clint mock-laughed, but moved to begin washing the vegetables while Bucky finished getting all the ingredients and utensils required. “So why are we cooking?”

“You don’t like it?”

“No, I do. Just seems out of the ordinary, is all.”

“You’ll see.”

 

~

 

Two hours later, Clint and Bucky had prepared, cooked, and shared a delicious lasagne, complete with homemade garlic bread. And for dessert, a classic: ice cream.

“Okay, I gotta admit.” Clint looked over at Bucky, helping to dry the dishes. “This was a pretty good evening.”

“Why thank you for that review,” Bucky grinned, looking up from the dishes they were washing. “Not mad that you’re doing dishes?”

Clint shook his head. “Nah. You did do most of the cooking.”

“And you didn’t burn the water.”

“Yeah, who would have thought? Kate’ll never believe it; I don’t believe it.”

“I believe it,” Bucky said, before looking back down at the dishes. “I knew you wouldn’t mess up.”

Clint put down the plate in his hand, and reached over to hold Bucky’s shoulder. He waited for Bucky to look up before speaking. “Thank you. For everything.”

Bucky knew that there was something that Clint wasn’t saying, something about the way he said those four words that went beyond their surface meaning.

But tonight is not the night for dissecting words.

Instead, Bucky smiled, and reached up with their soap-covered hand and covered Clint’s. “You’re welcome.”

Clint’s face screwed up in an absolutely adorable expression, before he pulled his hand away and shook it dry. “Thanks for that . Could’ve done without it.”

Bucky considered Clint for a moment, before shaking their head. “Nah, suits you.”

Clint poked his tongue out in response.

 

~

 

“So, how was the date?”

Bucky glared at Steve as he entered the room. “You ask that as you literally walk through the door. Not even any preamble?”

Steve shook his head, dropping down onto the couch beside Bucky. “Nope. So?”

Bucky sighed, dropping their head back onto the lounge. “It was great. Not that it’s any of your business.”

“Kitchen looks clean.”

“Point?”

“Weren’t you cooking?”

Bucky sat up, giving Steve a Look. “See, people who cook usually clean up after themselves. Might be something you want to try some day.”

Steve laughed, shaking his head as he stood up. “Maybe. Want a drink?”

“Water, thanks.”

Steve doesn’t need to know how fantastic the date was. That’s between me and Clint. And if tonight was any indication, there’ll be plenty more to come.

Chapter Text

For as long as Bucky could remember, they had loved to watch the stars.

Didn’t matter if they were in the middle of the city and could only see two stars, or in the middle of nowhere and could see them all- Bucky loved watching the stars.

Bucky could tell you a dozen different constellations, on a dozen different days, and still have more to talk about. Bucky could tell you the associated stories behind the stars, what culture gave them their names, what myths they were tied to.

So when Clint suggested they go stargazing one night, to say Bucky was excited by the suggestion would be an understatement.

Bucky was so excited, that even Sam noticed. And Sam never noticed anything.

“I notice things.”

Bucky frowned at Sam. “Did I say that out loud?”

Sam nodded, unimpressed look on his face. “Yes, yes you did. And you know that you did.”

“Did I?”

Sam shook his head, before pointing at Bucky. “You really are excited for this date tonight, aren’t you?”

Bucky nodded. “You have no idea.”

“Yeah, I don’t think I’ve seen you this excited since… ever.”

“You’re right Sam,” Steve said, coming into the room and putting an arm around Bucky’s shoulders. “I certainly have never seen Bucky this excited.”

“I’m allowed to be.” Bucky shrugged their shoulders, which was slightly harder with Steve’s arm around them. “There’s nothing wrong with being excited.”

“No, there isn’t,” Sam agreed, before leaning closer towards Bucky. “So when do I get to meet this Clint?”

“If I have any say?” Bucky pretended to think for a moment. “Never.”

“You wound me Barnes.”

 

~

 

When Clint had said that they were going stargazing, Bucky hadn’t had much thought as to the location. Maybe a park in the city? Maybe a little drive?

Bucky certainly did not expect a two hour drive to a property in the middle of nowhere.

“Where are we?” Bucky asked as Clint parked the ute next to an empty field.

Clint waved Bucky to the back of the ute, rolling out a blanket and following Bucky into the tray. “It’s Sharon’s place.”

“Sharon?”

“Well, her Aunt’s place, anyway,” Clint shrugged as he pulled a thermos out of his backpack, and began pouring two cups of hot chocolate. “Maybe. Pretty sure it’s her Aunt’s, in any case.”

“Who is Sharon?”

“Natasha’s wife. Well, in all but certificate anyway,” Clint handed over a cup, making sure that Bucky had a hold of it before letting go. “When I mentioned that I wanted to take you stargazing, and how much I love it here, she let me borrow the ute.”

Bucky smiled at the hot chocolate, it was delicious . “Am I ever going to meet these people?”

“One day?” Clint shrugged, putting the thermos back in his backpack before looking at the sunset. “We’re a bit early, aren’t we?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“I just didn’t want to miss out because of traffic.” Clint basically said that last bit to his cup, a frown beginning to form on his face.

No. I don’t like Clint frowning. Bucky looked at the sunset, before looking at Clint. “Clint?” Bucky waited until Clint was looking up again to finish their sentence. “The sunset isn’t bad to look at.”

Clint kept his expression neutral. “You’re just saying that.”

Bucky shook their head. “No way; you know I don’t lie.”

“You don’t,” Clint echoed, before the beginnings of a smile began to pull at his lips. “You’re pretty great Bucky.”

“You’re not so bad yourself Clint.”

 

~

 

The two kept up the conversation as they watched the sun set, waiting for the stars to appear.

By the time stars began to be seen, the temperature had dropped quite a few degrees; the two were sitting much closer together, cups of hot chocolate refilled.

“You see that square, with the kind of tail?” Bucky pointed, with their cup of hot chocolate in their hand, in the general direction. Clint followed the direction, nodding. “That’s Pegasus. The square is called an asterism. The first ever exoplanet was found within the constellation. And I figure you might know the story of Pegasus.”

“I might, yeah,” Clint smiled, having turned to face Bucky. “You really like the stars, huh?”

“You have no idea,” Bucky smiled, before looking back up. “There’s just something about them, that draws my eye. I also love mythology, and it all ties together.” Bucky breathed out, turning back to Clint. “I’m talking too much.”

Clint shook his head. “No way! You’re fun to listen to.”

“Really?” Bucky scrunched up their nose. “No way.”

“Yes way!” Clint laughed, reaching out with his free hand and putting it on Bucky’s shoulder. “Tell me about… the Southern Cross. I can see it.”

Bucky was distracted from the hand on their shoulder by Clint’s question. “The Southern Cross?”

“Yes.”

“The constellation that can only be seen in the southern hemisphere, and below a latitude of twenty five degrees?”

“Yeah, that one.”

“Clint, we’re nowhere near that.”

“You sure?” Clint frowned, gesturing with his cup towards the sky. “Then what’s that constellation?”

“That,” Bucky looked up at the sky. “Is the constellation Leo. It looks nothing like the Southern Cross.”

Clint shrugged, moving closer to Bucky. “You sure?”

“Pretty sure, yeah.”

“Oh well,” Clint sighed, resting his head beside Bucky’s. “Guess you’ll just have to teach me more.”

“Guess so,” Bucky agreed, putting their cup down to wrap it around Clint’s shoulders. Clint seemed to like that, moving his own arm so that he could put his head on Bucky’s shoulder.

Bucky had a smile on their face as they continued to point out constellations to Clint, and answered each of Clint’s questions, no matter how ridiculous they were.

This is perfect. Even if Clint’s being ridiculous, this entire setup is great. And definitely something that I’d like to do again.

Maybe more often.

Like every day.

Wait.

Bucky paused to cough, trying to shake out his thoughts. He looked at the man beside him, who was looking up at the sky with a smile on his face.

A smile that I put there. Me , Bucky Barnes, put that smile on Clint’s face. Maybe spending every day with Clint wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Chapter Text

“So, you’re the mysterious Sharon.”

There was nothing about Sharon’s appearance that made Bucky nervous, almost as though she had very carefully chosen her look to cultivate a sense of calm. The soft pastel of her blazer, her black jeans, her red ballet flats; her clothes  screamed safe. Even her hair, tied back loosely in a bun, was non-threatening.

Of course, her smile and her slow movements also added to the feeling.

Sharon laughed, shaking her head. “No way, I’m not that mysterious. Barton here just doesn’t talk about me much.”

“I wonder why?” Clint said absently, giving Sharon a knowing look.

Sharon held up her hands, giving Bucky a smile before turning to Clint. “Hey, you got me back for that.”

Clint shook his head, lips pursed together. He’s not saying something. “Never.”

“Anyways,” Sharon turned to Bucky again, smile still on her face. “I figure you want to meet Natasha.”

“Before that, thank you for suggesting the place for stargazing. It really was great.”

“Oh, my Aunt’s place? No problem, it really is the best,” Sharon leant closer, but didn’t lower her voice. “If you ever want to go there, even without Barton, just let me know.”

“You’re wonderful Carter, just the best,” Clint muttered, moving through the flower shop towards the back. “I’m going to go find someone who actually appreciates me.”

Sharon watched Clint walk away, before turning back to Bucky. “Me and Clint have an interesting history. I can assure you though, I care about that man a whole lot more than I should.”

“Yeah?” Even though Bucky asked, they knew that Sharon wasn’t lying.

Sharon nodded. “He and Nat come as a package deal. Which really makes it weird that you haven’t met her yet. Wonder what that’s about.”

Bucky had been wondering that themself. Sharon was right, so far as Bucky could figure; Natasha and Clint were as close as Steve and Bucky, as much as Bucky knew about Natasha. Because while Clint would often speak of her, four months after they had begun dating and Bucky had yet to meet her.

“I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about,” Bucky answered, to which Sharon nodded.

“Probably for the best, While you’re here, can I interest you in some flowers?”

Bucky shook their head immediately. “Sorry, I’m allergic.”

“And Clint brought you here?”

“I’m not deathly allergic,” Bucky was quick to reassure Sharon. “Don’t worry; just itchy eyes, itchy throat, might even sneeze on you.”

“You would not believe the amount of people who come in here that are allergic to flowers.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Earlier today, had someone who couldn’t even place their order, they couldn’t stop sneezing.”

Bucky joined in Sharon’s laughing. “That’s ridiculous.”

“I don’t like this.”

Bucky turned to see Clint returning, with who they assumed was Natasha, given the way she was standing next to Clint.

“I’m not trying to steal them from you Clint,” Sharon sighed, her smile clearly indicating that she wasn’t worried.

Clint narrowed his eyes at Sharon. “More worried about you telling Bucky lies.”

“What, like that time in Tokyo?”

Clint groaned, walking over to Bucky and hiding his head in Bucky’s shoulder. “I regret this.”

Bucky patted Clint’s back. “Don’t worry, she didn’t tell me anything about Tokyo.” Bucky waited until Clint was looking up again to add, “Yet.”

“She’s already influencing you,” Clint muttered, shaking his head before gesturing to Natasha. “Natasha, Bucky. Bucky, Natasha.”

Clint stepped out of the way as Natasha stepped closer. When she smirked, Bucky’s eyes widened.

“I know you.”

Natasha nodded. “I suspect so.”

“What?” Clint and Sharon exclaimed in confusion.

Natasha smiled at Clint. “I’ve been working as a barista at Bucky’s favourite coffee place. Three mornings a week, long black.”

“Of course, you’re a brunette when you make me coffee.”

Natasha shrugged, extending a hand to Bucky. “I have my reasons. Nice to meet you, partner of Clint.”

“Nice to meet you, Clint’s best friend.”

Natasha nodded. “Quite right. Though why it has taken Clint four weeks to properly introduce us is beyond me.”

All three sets of eyes turned to Clint, who rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “Uh…”

Bucky, sensing that Clint was in trouble, reached out to take his hand. “It’s okay Clint.”

Clint looked up at Bucky, giving them a small smile.

“Clint!” Sharon called, dragging Clint’s attention to her. “Can I have a hand out the back?”

Clint narrowed his eyes at Sharon, before turning back to Bucky, giving their hand a squeeze. “Be right back.”

“Not going anywhere,” Bucky smiled, squeezing Clint’s hand back before letting go.

After watching Clint walk away, they turned to Natasha, who was watching him with a keen eye.

Unlike Sharon, Natasha didn’t try to dress soft. Her black leather pants, her black ankle boots, her black shirt with a plaid shirt jacket over the top, all screamed hostile. Even her hair, strikingly red, seemed to be designed to set you on edge.

And yet, Bucky didn’t feel nervous around her. Maybe if they had met a year ago, it would be a different story.

If Natasha had been the one to find me on that street, instead of Clint…

Bucky shook their head, not wanting to go down that particular track. They focused back on Natasha, who for whatever reason wanted them to feel on edge.

“You care for Clint.”

“I do.”

“You wouldn’t hurt him.”

“Not a chance.”

Natasha watched Bucky for a moment; if Bucky was guessing, they’d say that she was trying to figure out if they were lying. Seemingly satisfied, Natasha nodded.

“Welcome to the family,” Natasha smiled, what Bucky figured was a genuine smile. And with the smile, Natasha’s entire demeanour changed. No longer was she trying to project hostility; she was positively warm now.

I have her approval .

“It’s a mess,” Natasha continued, “Though I figure you might have figured that out by now.”

Bucky shrugged a shoulder. “I’ve met you two, and Kate. Oh, and Lucky.”

“Best not forget Lucky,” Natasha agreed. “Clint’ll never forgive you.”

“What’s Clint never forgiving?” Sharon asked, walking back with her arm looped through Clint’s.

“Forgetting Lucky,” Bucky answered. Clint nodded.

“Damn right you better not forget Lucky.”

“I’d never dream of it darling.”

Clint looked down at that, the tell tale signs of a blush visible on his cheeks. Sharon smiled at Bucky, before pushing Clint towards them.

“Come on then, let’s go get some coffee,” Sharon said, reaching out for Natasha. “Meet you at the usual Clint?”

“Yeah,” Clint sighed, looking at Bucky. “We’ll meet you there.”

“Should you maybe be leaving?” Natasha called as she and Sharon walked past them.

“Maybe,” Clint muttered, taking Bucky’s hand and leading them out of the shop. “Who’s running the shop?”

“Pepper,” Sharon answered over her shoulder, before focusing back ahead.

“You okay?” Bucky asked once Sharon and Natasha were a little bit ahead of them.

Clint nodded. “Yeah, I’m great. Natasha approves of you.”

“How do you know?”

“Trust me; if she didn’t like you, you’d know.”

Bucky didn’t realise how having the approval of Clint’s family would make them feel;

It feels perfect.

“So what did you and Sharon talk about?”

Clint shook his head, eyes wide. “No.”

Bucky laughed at Clint’s answer. “No?”

“No. You don’t wanna know, trust me.”

“Of course.”

Because I trust you, probably more than I should. No, definitely more than I should. But I trust you. Completely.



Chapter Text

 

“I’m sorry for being late.”

Skye shook her head with a smile. Her hair is blue today, she’s happy. But not too happy; it isn’t a purple day.

Bucky had learnt pretty quickly that Skye’s hair colour corresponded to her mood each day, and they thought they had the pattern figured out. Occasionally, Skye’s colours would throw them, but Bucky put that down to Skye being Skye.

“No problem Bucky. When the desk told me that you’d be late, I was shocked, I will admit. You haven’t been late once.”

“I know.” Bucky had worked hard to be early to every appointment they had had with Skye. At least ten minutes, as a minimum.

Always take the time to scout a place, no matter how familiar you are with the place.

But today was different, as evidenced by the purring bundle of fur in their arms.

“I assume the kitten is the cause?”

Bucky looked down at the kitten, who was looking up at them with wide blue eyes, which looked completely out of place on their face.

They’re too big, too big for such a small head.

“Yeah,” Bucky sighed, before looking up at Skye again. “I found this one…” Bucky paused, coughing. No, Can’t tell Skye where I was. Not yet. “I found this one on a street earlier today. Took them to the vets, they reckon the mother abandoned them due to their size. I uh, I have the adoption papers in my bag.”

“They’re ready for you to adopt just like that?”

“The kitten kind of won’t leave my arms. Not without a fight, anyway. They told me exactly what I had to do, what signs to watch for, even gave me a number that I could call at any time if I had concerns. “

“And are you sure you’re in a position to look after this kitten?”

Bucky gave Skye a wry smile. “You’re not subtle.”

Skye shrugged, unapologetic. “That’s why you like me. You said so yourself.”

“I did, yes,” Bucky sighed, looking down at the kitten again. They had gone to sleep, finding a comfortable spot. “I can’t abandon them.”

“You don’t owe them anything.”

“I found them,” Bucky looked up again. “I found them, and as long as they’re in my arm, I know they’re safe. If I let go of them…” Bucky shrugged as best as they could. “I’m not going to.”

“Okay,” Skye seemed to accept this answer, before moving onto the real issues. “Today.”

Bucky blew out a breath. “Yeah, today.”

Because finding an abandoned kitten was not the first monumental event of the day. No, that honour went to ten am, physical rehab. And the reason for the appointment right now.

A prosthetic arm.

Bucky hadn’t even had a chance to figure out how they felt about it. Leaving the physio, they had wanted to walk straight to their appointment with Skye.

They got sidetracked, which lead to finding the kitten in their arms right now.

“You know what my first question is going to be.”

“I know,” Bucky sighed, looking back at Skye. “You won’t like my answer.”

“You’ve been distracted by the kitten, and haven’t had a chance to figure out how the arm fits into your life now.”

“Got it in one,” Bucky laughed. Am I really that predictable?

“Well?”

“Well what?”

“I figure you’ve got a place for the arm.” Skye nodded towards the kitten, who was asleep on the prosthetic, rather than Bucky’s flesh arm.

“Maybe.”

“So talking about the arm is probably best done at another time,” Skye said, moving so that her legs were crossed under her. “So how about we talk about someone else.”

“Someone else?” Bucky feigned innocence, even though they knew exactly Skye meant.

“Someone else.”

“Fine. Why do you want me to talk about Clint?”

“Because he had featured in a lot of our discussions recently, and you have taken a big step in your life today.”

“He knew I was going to physio today.”

“But did he know you were getting an arm?”

Bucky shook their head. “I wanted to surprise him.”

“Really?”

She doesn’t look convinced. That’s probably fair; I’m not entirely convinced myself.

“Yeah. I didn’t want him worrying about me.”

Skye still didn’t seem to accept that answer, but decided to change the course of their conversation. “You worry about him though?”

“All the time!” Bucky raised their voice, before remembering the kitten in their arms. Bucky calmed down, focusing on Skye. “The man is a walking disaster sometimes. Last week, he burnt his cereal. Cereal Skye! How does someone do that?”

The smile on Skye’s face was one Bucky had seen many times; you’re talking, and that is great.

No, that sounds patronising. Skye really cares that I get better.

“I don’t know Bucky. How bout you tell me about what led to the burning of cereal?”

“Well, it all started last Tuesday…”

 

~

 

Therapy always left Bucky exhausted, no matter what was discussed. Too many walls got build up and torn down in those sessions, Bucky could never keep track. That’s why they blocked out the entire day for their sessions.

But today was different, with the kitten resting in Bucky’s arms.

Skye was right; Bucky really hadn’t thought about the prosthetic, not like they thought they would be earlier today.

Because this kitten in their arms? This kitten they had known for eight hours? Had suddenly taken over half of their thoughts.

“You are so small,” Bucky told the kitten, who was asleep. Again. You are so small, and sleep an awful lot.

Bucky’s entire world seemed to zero in on the kitten. At least, until they heard the door to the apartment opening, and then the other half of their thoughts entered the room.

“I can explain.”

The word’s were out of Bucky’s mouth before they had even thought to say them.

Clint looked at Bucky with an amused smile on his face. He dropped his keys in the keybowl, before walking to lean on the kitchen counter, watching Bucky. Lucky followed, sitting obediently at Clint’s feet.

Bucky looked down at the kitten in their hands, and shook their head. “I couldn’t leave them.”

“Yeah?”

“I found them…” Bucky trailed off, biting their bottom lip.  I can’t tell him where I was. Not yet; maybe not for a while. That’s not the conversation we should be having right now.

“Doesn’t matter where I found them. I found them, and I took them to the vet; they said that they had been abandoned, and that they would put them into their adoption program.” Bucky looked up at Clint, sure that their face was impossible to misread. “I couldn’t leave them.”

Clint came over to sit beside Bucky, keeping his distance from the kitten. “You don’t have to explain yourself.”

“I don’t?”

Clint shook his head. “Nope. You found a kitten, and you couldn’t abandon them. I get that; have I ever told you how I found Lucky?”

Bucky looked down at the dog in question, who was sitting in front of the couch, watching the kitten cautiously. “You said Lucky found you.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Clint sighed, looking at his dog before looking back at Bucky. “Point is, I’m never going to ask you to explain why you have a kitten in your arms. However,” Clint frowned slightly, actually looking at Bucky’s arms. “I might ask why you have two arms.”

Bucky reached out with their right arm, patting Clint’s cheek. “I had the appointment today.”

“You said it was a physio appointment.”

“Yeah, they fitted the arm up. It’s on trial for two weeks,” Bucky twisted their lips, bringing their arm back to pat the sleeping kitten. “Not sure how I feel about it just yet; been quite an emotional day.”

“I’ll bet.” Clint slid closer on the couch, looking down at the kitten. “It’s so small.

“I know!” Bucky looked back at the kitten, smile beginning to tug at their lips. “In my bag are adoption papers. You wanna help me fill them out?”

“Course,” Clint answered, leaning over the couch to retrieve Bucky’s bag. He pulled out the papers, as well as a pen. Bucky watched the kitten as Clint filled out the form.

“Okay, I filled everything out. Except the name.” Clint waited for Bucky to look at him, and raised his eyebrows. “Any ideas?”

“Kot.”

“That’s Russian for cat.”

“So?” Bucky shrugged their shoulders, before looking back down at the kitten. “Kot.”

“I’m writing Kot,” Clint said, Bucky practically hearing the smile in his voice. “There, it’s done. Can’t change it now.”

“Not going to.”

“We can take the forms in first thing in the morning, if you want.”

Bucky looked up at Clint, frowning. “Don’t you have class tomorrow?”

Clint waved a hand at Bucky’s question. “I can get Kate to cover me.”

“Really?”

“She owes me about a dozen covers, I owe her about a dozen, we have an understanding.” Clint shrugged then, smiling at Bucky. “Besides, this is more important; we’re getting a new member in our family.”

Bucky looked back at Kot. They hadn’t thought about it like that; family.

It made sense. Lucky was definitely part of their family, so it only made sense that Kot would also be considered family.

“I guess I didn’t expect you to be so accepting.”

“Who could say no to that face?”

Bucky assumed that Clint was referring to Kot; when they looked up, Clint was beaming at Bucky. Bucky rolled their eyes, laughing.

“You are a sap, Clint Barton.”

Clint shrugged, smile still firmly in place. “Takes one to know one.”

Chapter Text



In all honesty, Bucky hadn’t meant to do it.

Bucky had spent a lifetime allergic to flowers; nothing deadly, but nothing pleasant either. Understandably, Bucky did their best to stay as far away from flowers as possible.

Apparently, Kot has other plans. Kot loves flowers, loves to bring them into the apartment anytime she went outside.

Bucky watched Kot waltz back into the apartment through the window, head held high and roses clearly visible in her mouth. She waltzed over to Bucky’s feet, looking up at Bucky.

“Where did you even find roses at this time of year?” Bucky asked, bending down to pick up Kot, putting her into their arm and pulling the rose from Kot’s mouth.

Kot meowed in response, reaching out to try and get the roses back. Bucky held them up out of reach, shaking their head.

“Why are you like this?”

Kot gave up on getting the roses back, instead burrowing down into Bucky’s arm, going to sleep.

Bucky smiled at Kot’s antics, moving to throw the roses into the bin and took a seat at the kitchen counter. Bucky pulled their laptop closer, making sure that Kot was comfortable as Bucky worked.

 

~

 

Three hours later, and Kot came back into the apartment with yet more roses in her mouth.

Bucky sighed, taking the flowers out of Kot’s mouth and pulling out their phone.

“Romanoff Espionage. You need a spy, we know the why.”

Bucky frowned. “Sharon, that was terrible.”

Sharon’s laughter filled the phone. “You should hear some of the one’s we’ve come up with over the years. What’s up Barnes?”

“My cat likes to bring home flowers.”

“Yes, I see how that could be a problem.”

“I was hoping you might have a solution,” Bucky said as they watched Kot take a drink.

“Hmm… you know, I might have an idea.”

“Sharon, don’t keep it to yourself.”

“Okay, okay. I know some people, they make these cat toys in different shapes. They probably have some flower versions.”

“Could you text me the address?”

“Of course. Good luck Barnes.”

“Thanks,” Bucky said, hanging up the phone. They bent down, and Kot moved over to climb into Bucky’s arm. “Come on you, we’re going to go find you something else to chew on.”

Kot meowed, snuggling into Bucky’s arm.

 

~

 

Bucky came home an hour later, with one satisfied Kot.  The flowers were made out of a felt that was harmless to cats, while also being durable enough to withstand anything a cat could throw at it.

And the best part of all?

“No pollen,” Bucky smiled at Kot, who took the flower in her mouth before trotting over to her bed.

(Her “bed” was nothing special; she had a proper bed, but for whatever reason she preferred one of Bucky’s old shirts. The shirt Bucky had been wearing when they found Kot, to be exact. Kot dragged that shirt everywhere ; wherever she wanted to rest, there the shirt would be. Bucky, and Clint, had tried to get the shirt back several times. Every time, the shirt went back to Kot’s possession. After three weeks, Bucky and Clint just gave up trying to get the shirt back. It was now known as Kot’s bed.)

Kot settled down, lightly chewing on the flower.

Buck snapped a picture of Kot on their phone, smiling at it as they went back to their laptop. Before resuming their work, Bucky sent off a text to Sharon.

To: Sharon

Attached: 1 photo.

[Isn’t she adorable?]

 

Bucky got back an answer almost immediately.

From: Sharon.

[AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW]

 

Bucky smiled at the response, putting their phone down beside their laptop before resuming their work.

 

~

 

“Today sucked .”

Bucky looked up from their laptop, smiling as Clint walked in, making his way straight to Bucky. Clint wrapped his arms around Bucky’s waist, dropping his head onto Bucky’s shoulder.

“That bad huh?”

Clint groaned into Bucky’s shoulder. “No idea. No idea. And no, I don’t want to go into it.”

“Okay,” Bucky patted Clint’s hands. “I can make you a nice hot cup of coffee.”

Clint lifted his head, resting his chin on Bucky’s shoulder. “Is there pizza in that deal?”

“I’m sure I can manage a call.”

Clint turned his head, giving Bucky’s cheek a kiss. “Best. You. The. Are.”

Bucky laughed, shaking their head as Clint continued to hold on their waist. “I can’t make coffee or order pizza if you keep holding onto me.”

“I hate logic,” Clint muttered, giving Bucky another kiss before ( reluctantly. Totally, completely, reluctantly ) letting go of Bucky’s waist to allow Bucky to make a coffee. Clint turned around, looking over at Kot. “What’s Kot got?”

“Oh, Kot decided that roses were a fun thing to keep bringing into the house.”

“We didn’t get the cat that brings home dead mice, no, we got the one that brings home flowers.”

“Exactly!” Bucky said, turning around to smile at Clint. “Exactly! So, I called Sharon, she said she knew some people who made toys for cats. Kot know has a flower that she can eat, with no allergic reactions from me.”

“Awesome,” Clint turned around, walking over to go sit in front of Kot.

When Bucky first brought Kot home, Kot had not liked Clint. In fact, Kot had not liked much except for Bucky. It had taken a while, and a lot of patience on Clint’s part, but the two had now reached an understanding.

(Bucky was pretty sure that the understanding had involved pizza.)

“Hey Kottiekot,” Clint purred, reaching out towards the flower. Kot dropped the flower, watching Clint reach out and take the flower. “This is pretty cool; you’re one lucky kitty.”

Kot meowed at Clint, before reaching for the flower. Clint laughed, dropping the flower back onto Kot’s bed.

“What?” Clint asked when he came back to the kitchen, where Bucky was standing with an amused expression on their face.

“Watching you two get along is always nice,” Bucky answered, handing over a fresh cup of coffee. Clint took it, wrapping his hands around the cup.

“Delicious ambrosia,” Clint sighed, happily drinking the coffee.

Bucky frowned at Clint’s hands. What happened? “Clint?”

“Yeah?”

“What happened to your hands?”

Clint frowned, putting down his cup to look at his hands. “Huh, allergic reaction. Haven’t had one in a while.”

“What are you allergic to?”

“Nothing major,” Clint waved a hand, picking up his coffee again. “It’s a synthetic compound, not really found anywhere except in felt.”

“Felt…” Bucky’s eyes widened, looking over at Kot. “That flower’s made out of felt.”

“Oh…” Clint nodded, taking another drink of his coffee. “So I’m not to touch the flower. Got it.”

“You sure you’ll be fine?”

“Yeah,” Clint waved away Bucky’s concern. “Yeah, it’s like you and flowers? It sucks for a bit, but I’m not going to die.”

“If you’re sure,” Bucky turned to the freezer, getting out an ice brick for Clint’s hands. “Here, it’ll help with the itching.”

Clint took the ice brick, trying to juggle it and the coffee.

“That’s not going to end well,” Bucky said, watching Clint with wide eyes.

Needless to say, Bucky was right.

Chapter Text

 

Bucky had never particularly enjoyed love songs. After all, the majority of songs on the radio were love songs, essentially.

So why need a separate genre?

Waste of time, just another way to get money; pick a reason, Bucky had probably argued it at some point in their life.

And ever since falling in love with Clint, the love songs just made themselves even more noticeable.

Which was very inconvenient of them.

Watching a video online? Oh, let’s have a music video play beforehand.

Listening to the radio in a supermarket? Love song, followed by love song, followed by another love song.

Itunes suggestion? Yep, love song.

“Please stop,” Bucky muttered to their laptop, when it auto played a love song after their previous song. “Why do you do this?”

Bucky had wondered if they were supposed to like love songs now that they were in love themselves. Bucky had spent a lot of time thinking about this question.  Bucky took their earphones out of their ears, dropping them to the table.

“What’s wrong with your laptop now?” Sam asked, sitting across the table from Bucky.

Bucky looked up at Sam, considering him. On the one hand, Bucky did not want to have this conversation with Sam. On the other hand, Sam was not going to stop staring at Bucky until they opened up.

“Am I supposed to like love songs?”

“What?”

“Love songs, Wilson. Am I supposed to like them?”

“You don’t like them?”

Bucky shook their head. “Never have.”

“Understandable. They can be repetitive.”

“But am I supposed to like them now that I’m in love?”

Sam actually looked like he was taking the question seriously. Which is definitely weird. This is definitely weird, and I’m going to wake up and discover that it was all a dream. A terrible, no good, weird dream.

“I know that the type of music you like can change over time. Steve’s definitely has.”

Bucky laughed. “Well, when someone changes the songs on his phone, of course he’s going to be exposed to new songs.”

Sam pointed at Bucky, a smile on his face. “You aren’t completely innocent in that, Bucky.”

Bucky shrugged. “Not denying it. Could we go back to my question?”

Sam nodded. “Yeah, yeah. So you don’t like them?”

“Nope.”

“And you don’t know if you should or not?”

“Yep.”

“Well, why do you think you need to suddenly like them?”

“Because I’m in love?”

“When you like country songs, does that mean you’re going to start wearing boots and ride horses?”

“I don’t like country songs.”

“Fine, bad example. Do the songs you like always correspond to your life?”

Bucky thought about that. The obvious answer was no; Bucky liked music because of the music, not because of what was happening in their life. Bucky didn’t associate music with events, with times in their life.

So what made now different?”

“No.”

“Then why does not liking love songs now matter so much to you?”

Bucky frowned at Sam. “You reading my mind?”

“I’m not going to dignify that with a response. You’re deflecting.”

Bucky sighed, rubbing at their forehead. “I know, I know. Or maybe I don’t? I know this shouldn’t matter as much as it does, and yet.”

“And yet it does,” Sam finished for Bucky, nodding in understanding. “Maybe I’m not the one you should be discussing this with.”

“Maybe I know that,” Bucky sighed, closing their laptop. “Maybe I just wanted to try and figure it out first.”

“That is possibly the smartest thing I have ever heard you say.”

Bucky, the mature adult that they are, stuck their tongue out at Sam.

Sam, the equally mature adult, stuck his out right back.

 

~

 

Clint often hummed songs to himself as he walked around the apartment.

Well, ‘to himself’ was relative; Bucky was always able to hear it. Sometimes they were sure that Clint did it on purpose, to try and get Bucky to smile. (And every time, it would produce a smile on Bucky’s face.)

“What has you so upset today?”

Bucky was always amazed when Clint was able to tell when Bucky’s smiles weren’t entirely genuine.

Bucky put their keys into the keybowl, before entering the apartment and hugging Clint.

“Missed you.”

“Missed you too,” Clint smiled, putting a hand on Bucky’s face. “Now what’s wrong?”

Bucky looked down for a moment, before looking back at Clint. “I don’t like love songs.”

“Okay?” Clint was trying to understand it, Bucky could see it in his eyes. But he doesn’t quite understand . “Okay, so no love songs. Got it.”

Is it that simple? Bucky watched Clint for a moment, finding nothing but understanding in his eyes. It can’t be that simple. If it was that simple, why is it bothering me so much? Maybe I need time to think it through a bit better.

If you can’t articulate it to yourself, how can you expect to articulate it to someone else?

“You don’t get it. Not quite, I don’t think,” Bucky reached up to Clint’s hand, patting it. Easy way out, maybe, but it’s the best thing to do right now.  “But that’s okay. It’s my thing to figure out.”

“Okay,” Clint smiled, before letting go of Bucky’s face. “How about I make some food, eat our way through our problems?”

“You’re going nowhere near the food,” Bucky laughed, turning to go and begin to make some food.

“You’re funny,” Clint muttered, moving to go and pick up Kot. “Me and Kot are gonna hang out, be best friends.”

“Uh huh,” Bucky nodded, watching as Kot looked very unimpressed with Clint.

As Bucky was cooking up some pasta, they heard Clint begin to start singing to Kot.

“There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow…”

“My favourite song,” Bucky smiled, turning to Clint. “Really?”

“Hey, not every love song is about love,” Clint shrugged, beginning to dance around the apartment with Kot.

Bucky turned down the pasta, in order to be able to film Clint and Kot. Because that was hilarious .

And maybe Clint’s right. And maybe Sam’s right. Maybe I don’t need to worry about not liking love songs.

Songs can be love songs, without being about love.

Chapter Text

 

Today was a good day.

It wasn’t hot, it wasn’t cold. There was just enough sun peaking out through the clouds to stave off the wind, but not enough to burn. The wind was just enough to stop the sun from being hot, but not enough to be cold.

Like Bucky said, today was a good day.

Which was why Bucky decided to walk to the cafe that he was meeting Clint at for lunch. Normally, Bucky would catch a train, or a cab, depending on the weather. But today was good , so a walk it was.

Earbuds in, backpack on, sunglasses down, Bucky made their way to the cafe. Their head bobbed along to the music, thoughts of what they were going to cook for dinner.

Salad, definitely. Parmigiana, probably. Ice cream? Absolutely going to happen.

They didn’t expect to encounter anyone on their walk; it was the middle of the day, pretty much everyone they knew would be at work, or on the other side of town right now.

Bucky certainly didn’t expect to see Clint, walking out of a store arm in arm with someone else.

An adult entertainment store? Bucky frowned at the store, before turning back towards Clint.

“Clint!” Bucky called out, pulling out their earbuds.

Clint turned around, smile widening. “Bucky! What’re you doing here?”

Bucky frowned, tilting their head. “We’re meeting for lunch.”

“I know that,” Clint answered easily. “I’m on my way there.”

“Perhaps you want to tell Bucky who I am?”

“Right, right. Bucky, meet Wanda.  She’s like my kid sister.”

Bucky looked at the woman still holding Clint’s arm. She was smiling at Bucky, but the smile didn’t quite reach her eyes.

She’s just as cautious of you as you are of her.  Her eyes  don’t match her face; it’s a young face, but her eyes have seen too much. She cares about her appearance; her eyeshadow matches her nail polish, which matches her lipstick, which matches her rings. Her outfit doesn’t match her age; nothing about her matches, except for her make up.

It’s a ruse, but for who?

“I’m not a kid,” Wanda extended a hand to Bucky, which they shook. “Clint is just old.”

“Wanda…” Clint rolled his eyes, but Bucky could tell that it wasn’t through any annoyance.

“But you are old.”

Clint narrowed his eyes at Bucky, who just smiled in response. “You’re mean.”

“So sister? Seems like there’s a story there.”

“Yeah, there is,” Clint smiled at Wanda. “Wanna join us for lunch?”

Wanda looked to Bucky, almost like she’s asking me for permission to say yes. Bucky nodded at her. “Sure. Where are we going?”

“Only the best restaurant in town!”

 

~

 

“This is not the best restaurant in town,” Wanda observed, looking around the restaurant. “But it is okay.”

“Oh shush, you’ll like it once you eat the food,” Clint waved off Wanda’s concern. “How was work?”

“Dreadful,” Wanda said with no inflection in her voice.

“I rather doubt that.”

“Clint, you never worked in an ‘ adult entertainment store ’,” Wanda put air quotes around the words. “Is dreadful.”

“How did you get a job there? If you don’t mind me asking.”

“No mind,” Wanda took a sip of her water. “So, I needed a job with flexible hours, so I could attend university. Clint knows the owner of the store, got me an interview. It isn’t completely dreadful,” Wanda leaned across the table slightly, as if about to convey a secret. “Clint just prefers when I say it is.”

“No I don’t,” Clint rolled his eyes, shaking his head. “I just like hearing you smile.”

“I smile plenty,” Wanda stuck her tongue out at Clint. “You just don’t listen .”

“Hilarious,” Clint muttered, before turning to Bucky. “So back five years ago, this new family moves into the apartment across from mine. They’ve been in the country not long, accents thick as anything. A dad, three kids. I offered them a smile, and help to get them set up with jobs, schools. Five years later, and I’m stuck with them.”

“Stuck with them, like he doesn’t love us.”

Bucky turned to face Clint fully, resting their arm on the table, hand resting on their first. A smile was on their face.

“What?” Clint asked, looking at Bucky curiously.

“Just when I think I have you figured out, you go and surprise me.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

“Never. I think it’s great.”

“You were right, they are terribly cute.”

Bucky’s head flew off of their fist at the new voice, while Clint dropped his head in resignation.

“Pietro, why?” Clint shook his head, looking up at the newcomer. “Why are you like this?”

PIetro shrugged his shoulders. “You need to be kept on your toes, old man.”

This Pietro was strange. He doesn’t sit still; his eyes are constantly looking everywhere and nowhere at once. The white hair is strange, but seems to fit in with his personae. He’s close to Wanda; their eyes are the same. Twins? Probably. He was able to slip in without me noticing, that was weird. Must be fast.

“I’m not old,” Clint muttered again. “Pietro, I’m not sure that I want to introduce you to Bucky.”

“But you have,” Pietro smiled, turning to Bucky. “So you are the one who has stolen Clint’s heart. I feel sorry for you.”

“He’s not that bad,” Bucky answered easily. “You two twins?”

Pietro looked surprised. “Yes. Not many people see it.”

“It’s in your eyes.”

“Good to know,” Pietro said. “So, as Clint’s honorary younger brother, I feel like it is my duty to warn you: if you break Clint’s heart, I will hunt you down.”

“I believe you. But I don’t plan on breaking Clint’s heart.”

Pietro stared down Bucky, both unblinking. Pietro eventually nodded, seemingly satisfied with what he saw in Bucky’s eyes. “Good. Clint, I approve.”

“As always, your approval means everything to me,” Clint sighed, before perking up when the food arrived. “Alright. Now children, it’s time to learn about the best restaurant in town.”

As the four ate lunch, Bucky enjoyed being able to meet this part of Clint’s life.

Wanda and Pietro are great; they both really care for Clint. And Clint cares for them, in his own unique way.

 

~

 

“So?”

Bucky stared right back at Clint. “So?”

“So what do you think of the Maximoffs?”

“I think they’re great.”

Apparently, this was not the answer Clint was expecting. He sighed dramatically, dropping down onto their couch. “Everyone loves them. Natasha, Sharon, Kate, you. Everyone loves those two troublemakers.”

“But so do you,” Bucky pointed out, sitting down in the small bit of space left by Clint.

Clint quickly moved to lie in Bucky’s lap. “I know; they’re my little siblings. Guess you should meet Lorna next.”

“Lorna?”

“The twins’ younger sister. Her hair’s green.”

“Sounds interesting. I enjoyed meeting your family.”

Clint rolled his head up to smile at Bucky. “You really mean that, don’t you?”

“Of course. Not going to lie to you.”

Clint smiled again. The two stared into each other’s eyes, until the moment was interrupted by Kot climbing onto Clint’s chest, and promptly falling asleep. Lucky also came over, resting his head on Clint’s legs.

Clint and Bucky burst out laughing, Bucky also taking the chance to snap a photo.

My family.

Chapter Text

The past two years were, without a doubt, the happiest of Bucky’s life.

They finally felt like they knew what their place was in the world, and were happy .

Maybe happiness at the way things were, was the reason why they hadn’t thought to the future.

Everything in the now is perfect, why would I want it to change?

Of course, it was Clint who put the idea into their head.

It was a normal Thursday night; Clint typing up reports ( or pretending to, more like. Probably working on his novel that I know absolutely nothing about ), Bucky playing a video game.

“Tax benefits,” Clint had muttered, seemingly out of nowhere. He had continued typing, not even looking up.

“Tax benefits?” Bucky, pausing their game, turned to face Clint.

Clint looked up briefly from his laptop, before looking back down. “Just looking at some things. Did you know married couples enjoy tax benefits?”

“Never really thought about it.”

“Neither have I, but it’s all here,” Clint gestured to his laptop. “There’s actually a lot of benefits.”

“Why are you looking at that?” Bucky asked, before their eyes widened. “You’re not…”

Clint almost dropped his laptop in his rush to close it, shaking his head and his hands. “No, no! No, I’m not.”

“Okay.”

“Not yet.”

What ?”

Clint put his laptop down on the floor, underneath the couch so that he wouldn’t stand on it. (It had happened. Too many times. Hence the ‘under the couch’ thing.)

Clint then turned to face Bucky, face open in a way that it rarely got. “Bucky, I can’t, I won’t imagine a life without you with me. And maybe one day that included a wedding, maybe it doesn’t. But if I did ask, you would know that I’m asking. I wouldn’t go with a terrible segway like tax benefits.”

“I was gonna say,” Bucky spoke, with a smile on their lips. “If that was a proposal? It wasn’t a very good one.”

“Aww, Bucky,” Clint put a hand to his heart, feigning shock. “You wound me.”

“Uh huh,” Bucky nodded, before turning back to their game. Clint laughed, dropping his head onto Bucky’s shoulder.

“You know that makes it hard for me to play?”

Clint shrugged, making himself comfortable on Bucky’s shoulder.

“Don’t you have work to do?”

“Nah, I’m pretty comfortable right where I am.”

 

~

 

Bucky didn’t think much about the incident until a week later, when they made an impromptu stop at Steve’s apartment.

“How are you?” Steve asked after letting Bucky into the apartment.

Bucky shrugged, making their way straight to the couch and dropping down face first onto it.

“That bad, huh?” Bucky heard Steve say, sitting on the floor in front of the couch.

Bucky shrugged as best they could. “Maybe,” they mumbled into the couch.

“You wanna share with the class?”

“No…”

Bucky could hear Steve’s laugh, and felt his hand on their back. “That bad?”

The thing was, it wasn’t that bad. Not really.  Like the time last week, it had hit Bucky out of nowhere.

An innocuous overheard comment at work- a colleague talking about tax benefits- had reminded Bucky of what Clint had said. And got Bucky thinking again.

Marriage… the thought’s never really crossed my mind. And yet, the idea isn’t completely ridiculous.

But marriage ?

Do you see a future with Clint?

Of course. That’s not in doubt here.

So what’s the problem?

Bucky couldn’t come up with an answer to that. Which was why they were now lying face down on Steve’s couch.

“Don’t know what to do,” Bucky eventually said, in answer to Steve’s question.

“About what?”

Bucky rolled their head so that they could stare at Steve.

Steve held up his hands, smiling slightly. “Fine, fine. Tea?”

“Please.”

Steve nodded, standing up to go and make some tea. Bucky closed their eyes, waiting for Steve to bring over the tea.

When Steve came over, Bucky sat up, taking the cup of tea in their hand. They were halfway through their tea before they spoke to Steve.

“Do I want to marry Clint?”

Steve, to his credit, didn’t react to the question. He’s been asked weirder. Steve put down his tea, crossing his legs on the couch. “Am I the one you should be asking?”

“No,” Bucky sighed, looking down into their tea. “But I need to talk to someone about it that’s not in my head.”

“And not Clint.”

“And not Clint.” Bucky blew out a breath, turning to Steve. “What do I do?”

“You ask the man to marry you.”

Bucky turned around, frowning at Sam. “How long have you been there?”

“Since you said the first question,” Sam walked into the room, taking a seat on the spare chair.  He leant forward, looking at Bucky. “Well?”

“Well what?”

“Well, why is this a question?”

“Because I don’t know what to do.”

“Well then,” Steve said, a smile on his face. “I think you actually do.”

Bucky turned the frown onto Steve. “What?”

“I’ve known you a really long time, Bucky. And I know you; you never worry about things unless you actually want them.”

“Really?”

“Why don’t you trust yourself on this?”

Bucky looked down at their tea again, looking for answers. “For the past two years, I’ve been happier than I ever have been. And I don’t want that to change.”

“And you think that proposing will change that?”

Bucky shrugged, looking up again. “This is why I wanted to talk to someone. Cause it sounds stupid when you say it, but when I say it?”

“It festers in your head until it’s all you can think about,” Sam answered. “And never a good result.”

“You’re being remarkably insightful for once,” Bucky pointed at Sam. “You feeling okay?”

“Oh ha ha,” Sam shook his head. “So, you know what you’re going to do?”

“Yeah,” Bucky sighed, putting their tea down on the table so that they could rest their head on Steve’s shoulder. “I think I do.”

“That’s great,” Steve said, putting an arm around Bucky’s shoulders. “You’ll have to let us know how it goes.”

“Of course.”

 

~

Bucky might have made a decision, but that didn’t necessarily mean that they were going to act on said decision.

Because why act, when you can do recon first?

With that very simple piece of logic in mind, Bucky made their way to a small flower shop in the middle of a street of tattoo parlours, a pub, and a motorcycle repair place.

(Bucky was 89% sure that Natasha had a hand in every business on the street in one form or another. Only 89%, because sometimes Sharon through in bits of information that made Bucky question the fact. Though, Sharon was probably doing that in order to stop Bucky from knowing the truth.)

( Barton has some strange friends. )

Pushing the door to the flower shop open, Bucky made their way to the front counter, where Pepper was working.

Pepper is nice, calming. She fits into the place, like she’s a flower herself. She knows her way around the world, but always knows just how to make you feel at home.

“Bucky!” Pepper smiled wide when she saw Bucky. “Come to see our new arrivals?”

That was another thing Bucky liked about Pepper; she never asked how you were. It’s such a stupid question, and not using it is just another reason to like Pepper.

Bucky shook their head. “I’m here to see Natasha. Or Sharon. Either or.”

“You look nervous.”

Bucky tried to school their features. “Do I?”

Pepper gave Bucky a small smile. “Alright, they’re both in, actually. In the office, follow me.”

Bucky followed Pepper, who knocked on the open door, sticking her head inside.

“You have a visitor.”

“Send them in!” Sharon called out. Pepper waved into the room.

“All yours.”

“Thanks Pepper,” Bucky smiled at her, before entering the room, closing the door behind them.

“Closing the door? Must be serious,” Natasha observed, gesturing to one of the ( many, many, so many ) chairs in the room. She sat behind her desk, while Sharon was leaning against the desk. She gave Bucky a curious look. “What’s the matter?”

Bucky sat down, putting their bag on their lap. “Something Clint said to me got me thinking.”

“Something Clint said?” Sharon, sitting next to Bucky, prompted when Bucky fell silent.

Bucky looked down at their lap, right hand running over a leather-covered left hand. “Tax benefits.”

“Clint was talking about tax benefits ?” Sharon sounded surprised; Bucky didn’t blame her.

“Yeah, I know how it sounds.” Bucky looked up then, noting the expectant looks on the two women’s faces. “Married couples get tax benefits apparently.”

“Clint dropping hints?” Sharon asked, while Natasha shook her head.

“Not hints, probably Clint researching something else,” Natasha said, watching Bucky for a reaction. “This lead to a talk?”

Bucky nodded.

“And Clint isn’t opposed to the idea.”

“No, and neither am I. I’ve… I’ve been thinking about it, and I would like to propose to Clint.”

“That’s wonderful!” Sharon said, smiling.

“You’re here for advice?” Natasha asked, ever the pragmatist.

Bucky shook their head, turning to face Natasha fully. “No? Yes? I don’t want to mess up.”

“Oh, Bucky,” Natasha came around the desk to sit in front of Bucky, taking hold of their hands. “You could do nothing more than ask Clint, anywhere, anytime, and he’d say yes.”

“I know,” Bucky laughed a little, looking up at Natasha. “I’d like to make it a little bit nicer than that.”

“Of course,” Natasha smiled, that smile that Clint had been very quick to explain to Bucky.

“That smile is dangerous, Bucky. It never bodes well; usually means Tasha is about to do something absolutely mischievous.  And you probably won’t like the idea of it at the beginning, but once she does whatever it is that brought the smile to her face? You’ll wonder why you ever doubted her.”

So Bucky sat there, listening to Natasha’s plan, with input from Sharon. And a similar smile began to form on Bucky’s face.

This might just work.

 

~

 

“Oh, and before you go,” Natasha said when Bucky stood to leave. They paused, tilting their head at Natasha. “As the closest thing Clint has to family, I approve of you asking him to marry you.”

“Thank you Natasha.”

Bucky knew that that would mean a lot to Clint, though he’d never outright say it; the way that Bucky had been accepted into Clint’s family had made him happy, Bucky knew. Could see it in the way Clint would always smile when Bucky was sharing a story with Sharon, or talking to Natasha about bikes, or offering Wanda advice on her clothes, or listening to Pietro explain his latest training that was going to take him to the Olympics.

Clint’s family had accepted Bucky, welcomed him, and that meant everything to the both of them.

 

~

 

The next part of Bucky’s quest involved a visit to the Maximoff’s.

“Bucky!” Lorna, answering the door, reacted to Bucky the same way she always did: open arms, and a wide smile. Her hair was a bright green today; she’s recently dyed it. Probably yesterday. Looks good.

Bucky returned the smile, bending down to hug her.

(Though not as much as they had had to bend when they first met Lorna; she had grown .)

“Lorna, your hair is looking great.”

“Thank you.”

“I hear you got a perfect score on your last history test.”

“Yeah,” Lorna smiled as she closed the door, walking with Bucky into the main room of the house. “All thanks to your tutoring.”

“Nah,” Bucky waved a hand, sitting down next to Lorna on the couch.On the coffee table, textbooks lay strewn across; a mixture of Lorna’s high school reading, the twins’ various university readings, and Eric’s readings for work.  

It’s a mess; there’s no organisation to it. And yet, they manage to make it work.

“You’re the brains of the operation.”

“Thanks,” Lorna smiled. “What brings you by?”

“Actually wanted to talk to Wanda.”

“Oh, she’s in her room; want me to go and get her?”

Bucky shook their head, standing up. “She won’t mind if I do, will she?”

Lorna shook her head. “Nah, not a chance. She loves you. Want anything to eat or drink?”

Bucky shook their head. “Thanks for the offer, I’ll make sure to see you before I go.”

“You better.”

Bucky nodded, waving over their shoulder as they made their way up the staircase, down the hall, to the second door on the right.

Bucky knocked on the door, and stood back. They heard rustling in the room.

“Lorna, I swear, if you’re hear to steal another -” Wanda paused when she opened the door and  saw Bucky. “You’re not Lorna.”

“Not the last time I checked,” Bucky answered, coming in at Wanda’s waved hand. “What is Lorna stealing today?”

“Highlighters,” Wanda answered, taking a seat on her bed, while Bucky took a seat on her desk chair. “She keeps losing hers.”

“Well that’s no good.”

“No, it is not,” Wanda agreed. “So what brings you by?”

“I have a scenario to discuss with you.”

“Oh?”

“I’m going to ask Clint to marry me.”

Wanda acted much in the way that Bucky thought she would; with a lot of smiling, and clapping.

“That is awesome! When?”

“Soon, I hope.”

“You will let me do the hair and makeup for the wedding, right?”

Haven’t even proposed, and she’s already planning the wedding. Bucky smiled at Wanda’s confidence in what Clint’s answer would be.

“Wanda, I would dream of asking no one else.”

“Good.” Wanda tilted her head slightly, eyeing Bucky. “Why are you telling me?”

“I want to hear how you think I should propose.”

As they suspected, Wanda was more than willing to share her ideas.

Bucky spent the afternoon talking with Wanda (and Pietro, who showed up after his training).

Both gave him many ideas, which combined with what Natasha and Sharon had said, left Bucky with a lot to think about.

And a lot of confidence. This is going to work.

 

~

 

Bucky might have a plan, Bucky might have confidence, but that did not mean that Bucky was going to rush into asking Clint to marry them. No, Bucky was going to take their time, and wait for the most appropriate moment.

That night, was not the most appropriate moment.

Bucky came home that night to see Clint asleep on the couch, Lucky asleep on his legs and Kot sleeping on his chest.

“Adorable,” Bucky muttered under their breath, making sure not to wake any of the sleeping residents. Bucky went and got a blanket for Clint, covering his legs where Lucky wasn’t, and moving Clint’s half-full coffee cup from the floor. Clint hummed in his sleep, causing a smile to form on Bucky’s face.

Bucky decided to do their work from the bedroom, unwilling to wake Clint.

 

~

 

It was a week before Bucky decided to enact their plan.

“Plan” was probably too strong a word; Bucky had an idea of what they were going to do, as well as all of the ideas given to them last week.

Yet even with such a nebulous “plan”, it went wrong.

“Where are you?” Bucky frowned, phone to their ear; the sound was distorted, and Clint was meant to be home an hour ago.

Stuck ,” was Clint’s answer.

“Stuck?”

In traffic.

“Where?”

Other side of town.

“Really?”

I’m sorry; I’ve been looking forward to lasagne all week. It’s not burnt is it?

Bucky turned to look at the lasagne, which was just going golden in the oven. “It’ll be fine; when do you think you’ll be home?”

There was the sound of a muffled conversation on the other end of the phone. “ Yeah, let’s not guess. I’ll be home soon. Love you.

“Love you too,” Bucky replied, hanging up the phone when Clint disconnected, Bucky turned off the oven, before walking over and collapsing onto the couch.

It’s a good thing I don’t plan my life to the minute, Bucky thought, rolling their head to the side as they felt Kot make her way up their back.

“You comfortable?”

All Bucky received in response was the sound of a sleeping Kot.

Looks like I’m stuck here now.

 

~

 

The next thing Bucky knew, Clint was kneeling in front of them, smiling.

“Hey there sleepy head.”

Bucky frowned, rolling over. “Where’s Kot?”

“Hanging out with Lucky,” Clint answered, helping Bucky to sit up. He sounds out of breath . “Sorry I’m late.”

“What time is it?”

“Eleven thirty seven.”

“Why are you out of breath?”

Clint looked up at Bucky sheepishly. “So I might have gotten out of the cab and run home?”

“How far?”

“Ten kilometres? Give or take a mile.”

Bucky shook their head, laughing. “Why?”

“Because the traffic was stuck , Bucky! Stuck!” Clint raised his hands in the air. “I was going nowhere. And I wanted to get home to see you. So I ran.”

Bucky was still shaking their head, their laughter dimming to a smile. “I can’t believe I want to marry you.”

“I know it was stu- what ?”

Watching Clint’s entire face change in an instant was interesting, to say the least. His arms dropped, jaw slack, eyes wide. He’s shocked.

“You heard me,” Bucky smiled, sliding forward in order to sit on the edge of the couch.

Clint shook his head, moving forward so that he was between Bucky’s legs, resting his hands on Bucky’s thighs. “No, I didn’t, because I’m deaf. You’ll have to say it again, clearly .”

Bucky shook their head, before putting their hand on the side of Clint’s face, leaning forward to kiss his forehead. Bucky then pulled back, and raised their hand to sign along with their words. The two had come up with a way for Bucky to sign one handed, while still being understood by Clint; the process was ever evolving, but was worth every moment as Bucky watched Clint’s face.

“I want to marry you, Clint Barton. Marry me?”

“Oh good, I wasn’t hearing things,” Clint smiled, putting his arms around Bucky’s neck. “Of course I’ll marry you.”

As if sensing the momentous occasion, both Kot and Lucky made their presence known; Kot was chasing Lucky through the house. Lucky jumped up onto the couch, somehow getting his head in between Clint and Bucky, while Kot climbed up onto Clint’s shoulders, watching Lucky.

Clint and Bucky shared a look, before bursting out laughing.

 

~

 

Their life together didn’t change, not really.

Bucky just got to say that he was engaged to the best person in the world, a sentiment that Clint also shared.

They had a party, inviting their respective families over. Turns out, their families were more connected than they had known.

Steve knew Natasha from university,  and Sam knew Sharon through frequently the same cafe.  Sam also knew Rhodey, who was friends with Clint, and whose husband was the one to give Wanda her first job. It turned out that Steve and Pietro often ran together at the park, a bit of friendly competition between two runners. Wanda and Lorna were dazzling everyone they talked to; Wanda with tales from both university and work, and Lorna with her wide range of knowledge on everything.  And Pepper and her girlfriend, a mysterious woman named Maria, knew just about everyone somehow ; Bucky had honestly lost track.

(Never having met Maria before, never even knowing Pepper was dating someone, Bucky could only deem Maria mysterious; the woman gives away nothing, except a deep adoration for Pepper. They are happy together .)

Kate, over a video call from the other side of the world, started off by expressing her disappointment about not being consulted in the planning. She did congratulate the pair, reminding Clint not to mess up. Clint had smiled, telling Kate to enjoy her semester abroad, and not to miss him too much. Kate had stuck her tongue out at him, but ended the call with a smile.

Somehow their families, both found and forged over years of trials and joy,  fit together perfectly , almost as though it was meant to be.

Everyone was beyond happy for the couple, everyone making sure to take a moment to congratulate the pair.

Admittedly, it got to be a bit too much for Bucky, so they subtly made their way to the open window leading to the fire escape, and climbed to the rooftop.

The night air was warm enough to not need a jacket, but not too warm as to be unbearable. Bucky made their way to one of the sides, leaning on the railing. They were not surprised to find Kot dancing along the railing, coming to curl up between Bucky’s arms.

“You like it up here, huh?” Bucky muttered, running a finger through Kot’s fur. Kot was still tiny, much smaller than what a cat of her age should be; the vets reassured Bucky that it was nothing they were doing, but a result of her unfortunate start to life.

“Thought I’d find you up  here.”

Bucky turned to look over their shoulder, smiling at Clint coming over to lean beside them. Bucky looped their arm through Clint’s, resting their head on his shoulder.

“Bit too noisy,” Bucky admitted.

Clint nodded. “Don’t I know it. It’s great, don’t get me wrong. But so many people, in our small apartment?”

“Recipe for disaster,” Bucky answered, smiling as Clint pressed a kiss to the top of their head.

“Exactly,” Clint breathed against Bucky’s head, before turning to look out at the night sky. “Hey, look, the Southern Cross!”

Bucky shared Clint’s laugh. “It’s even more impossible here than the last time you said you could see it.”

“Oh well,” Clint sighed, lifting their head. “Look at me?”

When Bucky did, Clint shone them a brilliant smile. “We’re engaged.”

“Yes, yes we are.”

“Do we need to set a date?”

Bucky shook their head. “Not tonight. No rush, right?”

“No rush,” Clint agreed, leaning forward to kiss Bucky’s cheek. “Though we should probably go back inside at some point. It is our party, after all.”

“Yeah, I know,” Bucky said, before looking up at the stars. “Just a little longer?”

Clint answered by wrapping his arms around Bucky’s neck, leaning his head on Bucky’s shoulder. “Love watching you watch the stars.”

“Love you.”

“Love you too, you giant sap.”

“Takes one to know one Clint.”

“You are so lucky I love you.”

Bucky’s reply was interrupted by Kot jumping onto their shoulder, causing Clint to jump back.

“Looks like someone disapproves of how long I was hogging you,” Clint said, staring at Kot.

Bucky laughed, reaching up to scratch behind Kot’s ears. “Don’t listen to Clint, you’re important too.”

Clint responded by going to Bucky’s other side, looping his arm through Bucky’s. “Come on, let’s return before they realise we’re gone.”

“Clint, if the people in that room haven’t noticed that we’re gone, I’d be concerned.”

Clint considered that for a moment as they walked down the stairwell. (Not the fire escape this time.)

“I guess you’re right. There are some crazy observant people in that room.”

“How did we manage to be friends with so many spies?”

“I don’t know!” Clint shook his head. Reaching their front door, Clint paused, moving to stand in front of Bucky. Clint moved one hand to Bucky’s shoulder, the other on Bucky’s waist.

(Kot was still on Bucky’s left shoulder, and Clint wasn’t going to try and fight Kot.)

“I love you so damn much.”

“You know how much I love you; why are you saying that now?”

Clint nodded at the door. “Because I’m almost a hundred percent sure that once we open that door, there’ll be a cake, and yelling, and a general surprise atmosphere.”

And you’re warning me so I won’t be shocked, Bucky thought, smiling at Clint. “Thank you.”

“I know you’ll like it, but you might not like the yelling. Everyone asked me to ask you if you’re okay with it.”

Everyone was willing to make sure I was comfortable? “I can’t believe I was lucky enough to have met you.”

“The feeling’s mutual,” Clint assured Bucky, squeezing their hands. “You ready?”

Bucky nodded; Clint let go of one hand in order to open the door.

As the door opened, it felt like the door was being opened to the next part of Bucky’s life, and it filled them with joy more than anything.

With Clint by my side, how can I go wrong? I love Clint, and trust him so, so , much. Our future together is as bright as the stars.

(Yes, Bucky gets poetical sometimes. If they keep it to themselves, who will ever know?)