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introducing mister and mister united states

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introducing mister and mister united states

 

For one thing, the world was not prepared for the Winter Soldier and all that came in his wake. The fall of S.H.I.E.L.D, the explosion of data that came with it, the sheer number of files that were made public and just how much the civilian community hadn't known was going on. For another, once all that was over and the dust settled, the world wasn't prepared for the Winter Soldier.

 

To figure out what Twitter was.

 

“It's social media,” Romanova had explained when he asked. They had been in the middle of sparring, but the question had been nagging on his mind since Stark had given him his cell phone.

 

“It's got all the fixin’s,” he'd said. “YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter. Have fun.”

 

Then he'd just left him with the phone. Bucky didn't even figure out how to turn it on for nearly ten minutes.

 

“People using the internet to make friendships and other shit.”

 

“Why?” he'd asked. She'd just shrugged.

 

“It can be fun,” Romanova said. “Make contact with old friends, make new ones, some platforms just promote random content with people you don't know. Twitter’s pretty limited to current events, since you can only use 140 characters in a single tweet.”

 

“Tweet?” he'd repeated incredulously.

 

Romanova had sighed, lowering her hands from the fighting stance she'd been on. “Do you want to spar or do you want me to explain the Internet?”

 

Bucky had considered it. He disliked not knowing things, and he had a suspicion that wasn't just his time as a weapon for Hydra influencing him. Steve said he'd been like that before.

 

“Explain the Internet,” he said finally.

 

Romanova didn't blink. She did sigh again, but she nodded and stepped off the mat. “It'll be easier using a computer,” she said. “Let's go.”

 

They went, and for the next several hours, Bucky sat in Romanova’s apartment in front of a laptop learning about social media. He knew how to use a laptop, had had plenty of cellphones in his time, but he'd never seen this side of them. Romanova showed him the accounts Stark had created for him on Twitter, Google, Facebook, showed him how to use the apps on his phone, and after a long time detailing the history of social media, then Youtube, then the strangeness of Tumblr, they ended up on a website called Vine.

 

“These are just six-second funny videos,” Romanova said, clicking on the first video on the homepage.

 

Back at it again at Krispy Kreme ,”  said the teenage black boy in the video, holding up a paper hat. Then the boy did a series of impressive backflips, until his foot hit a neon sign and broke it.

 

Romanova snorted. Bucky didn't get it.

 

“What's the purpose of them?” he asked.

 

“They're just funny,” she said. “That's all there is to them.”

 

He blinked at her. She blinked back.

 

“Okay…” he said finally.

 

Romanova sighed. “Let's try some more.”

 

Another hour was spent watching vines, and after a while, even Bucky was left with nothing to do but chuckle at the sheer absurdity of many of them. In fact, that was where Steve found them, with Romanova grinning and Bucky legitimately clutching his sides laughing.

 

“What the hell,” Steve called, laughing despite himself. “What are you doing?”

 

Bucky sat up when Steve walked in, hit mute on the video and tried to look at Steve seriously. Steve raised an eyebrow, a corner of his mouth lifting and Bucky failed. He spluttered: “Booty-quay!” and fell over laughing.

 

Steve did a double take, then looked at Romanov. “What the hell did you do?”

 

Romanova snorted. “Pro-no-unen-cing things in-corec-ly,” she said.

 

“What?” Steve repeated.

 

“Pinocchio!” Bucky laughed.

 

Steve looked between the two of them. Romanova was grinning with pride, and Steve looked absolutely delighted as well as confused. He walked over to them, leaning down to look at the computer.

 

“What is this?” he asked.

 

“It's Vine!” Romanova said.

 

“What?” Steve asked again.

 

“Don't tell me you're clueless too,” Romanova said, but she was still chuckling.

 

“Watch this,” Bucky insisted, grabbing Steve's arm and tugging him down to sit next to him before replaying the short video.

 

Pro-no-unen-cing things in-corec-ly ,”  the vine began.

 

With that, Steve was sucked into Bucky’s exploration of the internet. They spent another half hour just watching vines, Romanova eventually running out of her favorite ones and just clicking at random. Bucky’s favorites were definitely pronouncing things incorrectly, he decided, when Romanova clicked on one new vine by user Thomas Sanders.

 

You'll never have her! ”  the vine began, a guy dressed like a storybook villain shouted. He was holding a girl in a pink dress and with a knife in his hands, which was what made Bucky think storybook villain.

 

“And why is that?”  the hero of the vine asked.

 

“Because I love you,”  the villain said.

 

Bucky didn't laugh, though Steve chuckled and Romanova snorted. He glanced sideways at Steve, then at Romanov, confused and concerned. How was this on the internet? Wasn’t the user worried? The vine ended, the male hero carrying the male villain off screen bridal style, and Romanova glanced back at him, frowning.

 

“What?” she asked. “That was funny!”

 

Bucky didn't say anything. The vine was replaying, the male villain declaring his love for the male hero again. Romanova frowned as well, and Steve glanced at him, then muted the vine.

 

“Maybe we should watch something else,” he said.

 

“Wait,” Romanova said, her tone serious,  “Barnes, why didn't you laugh?”

 

“That was…” he started, but didn't finish. How was something like this so unabashedly on the internet for anyone to see? What if the cops found it? What if some church minded busybody found it and then showed it to the cops? The creator hadn’t even obscured the faces or his own name, he would be so easy to track down and arrest!

 

“Gay?” Romanova asked, eyebrows raised.

 

Bucky glanced at Steve again.

 

“Pop culture update,” Romanova said, “attitudes towards homosexuality are way different than they were during the forties. It's completely accepted and okay now.”

 

Romanova frowned for a second. “Well, mostly.”

 

Bucky blinked, having a silent moment of relief, then shock, then confusion. He glanced between her and Steve, then looked back at her.

 

“I didn't know that,” he said slowly.

 

“It's fine,” she said. “Just letting you know so you don't say anything stupid.”

 

“This one looks funny,” Steve said abruptly.

 

Bucky looked at him, then fixed his attention back on the laptop. He purposefully didn’t glance at Steve again. He didn’t want to creep him out.

 

Hey, bro what do you want to eat?” “The souls of the innocent!” “A bagel.” “Noooooo!” “Two bagels.

 

His memory of the past wasn't the greatest. There were still large gaps missing, and while most of it was on times that Bucky didn't really want to remember, there were things he felt sometimes he really should remember, back before the war. Things that surrounded Steve. There were times when Steve would look at him, with this sad expression, and when Bucky would ask what was wrong he'd smile and say nothing before walking away. Times like right now, while Bucky processed Romanova’s updated intel, even, as Steve pretended to laugh at the new vine, but had tense shoulders and clenched fists.

 

Later, after Romanova kicked them out, Bucky walked with Steve back to their floor of Stark Tower. They walked with plenty of space between them, and again, Bucky felt sure he should be remembering why that felt off, and twice as guilty that he wasn’t.

 

“Night, Buck,” Steve said as they reached their doors. Separate apartments, but across the hall from each other.

 

“Night, Stevie,” he answered.

 

Steve glanced at him, then at his feet, like he always did when Bucky called him Stevie. Bucky couldn't remember why he would do that, he didn't even remember why he called him that, he just knew that he always did and when they were kids it would make him smile.

 

Steve’s door shut behind him. Bucky went into his room, walking into his kitchen and leaning on the counter. He pulled out his phone, looking at it.

 

Romanova had told him about Google. So, he found it, and typed in something. He normally trusted Romanova’s intel, but this time, he needed to confirm it.

 

is homosexuality normal

 

He ended up on a website called Wikipedia after a while, reading article after article on the history of gay rights, reading about Stonewall, the Supreme Court vote ruling outlawing same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, Harvey Milk, drag queens, the Human Rights Association. He spent so long reading, sunlight came up over the window.

 

Bucky squinted at the window and the sunlight. He looked back at the phone, then pressed a button to return to the home screen. Absently, he opened Twitter and searched for a phrase he'd seen on Wikipedia. He scrolled for a long time, then his eyes began to itch as he finally began to run out of energy. Bucky rubbed at his eyes, then looked back at the phone as a new thought occurred to him.

 

With Hydra, he'd spent every second making sure he'd never left a trace of him behind. Looking at his own Twitter account, though, completely blank but for a username and a displayed name with a blue check mark by it, he began to see the appeal of leaving something on the internet to exist forever.

 

Romanova had shown him how to tweet. He tapped the small button in the corner, then typed out a message to be on the internet forever. He stared at it, deleted it, wrote something else, then deleted that as well.

 

He really needed to collapse, but he was determined that he was going to leave a trace now. Finally, he gave up, wanting to leave a trace but not sure what that trace should be, so he tweeted something stupid, tossed the phone down and walked into his bedroom. He was asleep before his head hit the pillow.

 


 

 

Steve was woken up by the ungodly sound of Tony Stark himself singing the National Anthem in a key that was decidedly and horrifically off. He groaned and slapped at his side table until he found his phone, picked it up, swiped at it until the sound stopped, and held it up to his ear.

 

“What do you want?” he mumbled.

 

“Your pet assassin just reached a million followers on Twitter.”

 

“What?”

 

His phone chimed in his ear. Wincing, he jerked it away from him and stared at it.

 

Tony had texted him a link. He clicked on it, belatedly hoping it wasn't just Rick Astley again, and found a tweet.

 

@therealwintersoldier: Please explain what the blue check thing by my name is.

 

“This is the only thing he's ever tweeted! And he's already got a million followers?”  Tony demanded in a screeching voice.  “I mean, sure, I gave him a shout-out, but before he tweeted that, he’d only gotten a few thousand!”

 

Steve covered his face with a hand.

 

“It took me three years to hit a million! And I'm fucking Tony Stark!”

 

Steve, when tired, had no filter between his brain and his mouth. Tony ought to have known that already.

 

“No, Pepper is fucking Tony Stark.”

 

There was silence on the other end of the line. Then:

 

“Watch your language, old man,”  and Tony hung up.

 

Steve dropped the phone onto his face and sighed heavily. Then he picked it back up, clicked on @therealwintersoldier and followed it. Bucky’s Twitter did indeed have the blue check mark of verification, which Steve assumed was Tony’s doing despite the lack of a profile picture and a bio, and when he returned to the tweet, he found thousands of replies varying in legitimately answering Bucky’s question to straight up sassing him. The internet really was a weird place if there were people who were confident enough to actually sass the verified Twitter account of the Winter Soldier.

 

Though, if there were civilians willing to sass the Winter Soldier, Steve wasn't going to let them have all the fun.

 

@stevengrantrogers: @therealwintersoldier it means the gods have approved your username.

 

He went back to sleep after that, but a small chime later woke him up.

 

Stark

YOUR BOTH OVER FIVE MILLION NOW IT TOOK ME BECOMING IRON FUCKING MAN TO GET OVER FIVE MILLION FOLLOWERS FUCK BOTH OF YOU

 

Steve checked his profile, then Bucky’s, and went back to sleep. He wasn't conscious enough to care.

 


 

 

Bucky woke up after a couple of hours. He showered, again trying to find the limit of the hot water, though the computer in the ceiling kept telling him that the hot water couldn't run out. After almost two hours, he let the hot water win, getting out and trying to remember, not for the first time, why having so much hot water was important to him. When he’d been in Hydra’s control, he’d only had a hose and handlers to operate it, sure, but the limit of how long the water would run before going cold seemed to matter to him. He dressed, went into the kitchen to hunt out some breakfast, but ended up just stared suspiciously at the phone on his kitchen counter.

 

He picked it up and checked Twitter. His eyebrows shot up.

 

“What…?”

 

His tweet from that morning had several thousand likes, retweets, and replies. He tried scrolling through all of them, but the sheer number of them was just too much. He only had one notification of a reply, though, from @stevengrantrogers, and like him, the account had a blue check mark.

 

“The gods approved my username?” he muttered.

 

He checked the account’s description. He frowned, then turned on his heel and walked out. Yanking open the door across the hall, he walked into Steve's apartment.

 

Steve was standing in the kitchen and looked up when he walked in.

 

“Buck?” he asked, concern evident in his tone. “Is something wrong?”

 

“Do you have Twitter?” Bucky asked shortly.

 

Slowly, Steve smiled. Bucky raised an eyebrow.

 

“Have the gods approved our usernames?” he asked flatly.

 

“It means your account is verified to actually be you,” Steve said, chuckling.

 

“I gathered that,” Bucky said.

 

“You've got over five million people following you,” Steve said.

 

Bucky tensed. “What?”

 

“Twitter accounts,” Steve said, his tone dropping into a hasty explanation, “not really, just users on Twitter who followed your Twitter account. So they can see what you tweet and stuff on their timelines.”

 

“Oh.”

 

They stared at each other a second. Steve nodded eventually.

 

“I'm making waffles,” he said.

 

Bucky didn't remember if he liked waffles.

 

“You like them,” Steve added.

 

And Bucky frowned, heavily. Like many other things he had rediscovered, he didn't like not knowing whether or not he liked waffles.

 

Steve patted a stool, and Bucky approached cautiously. He took a seat as Steve turned back to mixing his batter, using a rubber spatula to fold the flour in, eventually lifting it up to better scrape the sides. Bucky just watched it for a while, then blurted out a question.

 

“How do you feel about homosexuality?”

 

Steve dropped the bowl. “What?”

 

“About it being not bad,” Bucky added flatly. “Like how it used to be.”

 

Steve just stared at him for a second. He blinked, then looked down at the waffle batter and swallowed visibly.

 

“I think it's great,” he said, picking up the spatula again.

 

Bucky watched him, thinking it over. “I don't remember what I thought about it,” he said finally. That wasn’t quite true. He had a fairly good guess as to what he’d thought of it back then, considering how he felt now, but he wanted Steve to tell him.

 

Steve didn't say anything for a while. Bucky looked at him, then dropped his gaze, scowling.

 

“I think you felt indifferent,” Steve said finally.

 

Bucky looked back up. Steve's brows were tightened, his jaw clenched and a faint flush to his ears. Bucky didn't remember what Steve's tells were, he couldn't remember what the tightening of his brows or the redness of his ears meant. He did know that Steve was lying to him. He wished he knew  why .

 

“Really?” he said.

 

Steve nodded. Bucky looked down at the counter, his face impassive as he tried to remember anything about why Steve might lie to him, what he'd felt about it, had he been homophobic, as Romanova put it, despite having rather positive thoughts to it in the future? Had he just never said anything to Steve and now Steve didn't want to let him down? Was he depending too much on Steve?

 

“You had blueberries since you been out?” Steve asked, breaking Bucky from his thoughts.

 

“No?” Bucky answered gingerly.

 

Steve smiled to himself, then turned to his fridge and pulled from it a carton of fresh blueberries.

 

Memories came to him suddenly. Triggered by something small, usually, like a carton of blueberries.

 

“Last time I had fresh blueberries, you were living with me.”

 

Steve half smiled at him, half sad half something else. “Well, now you can have them whenever you want,” he said, opening it and dropping handfuls into the batter.

 

Bucky frowned, though, because the sudden memory felt… odd. He remembered it had been Christmas, he'd spent a big chunk of his paycheck from working at a local grocery store as well as some winnings from boxing at Goldie’s on just food, to make a big Christmas feast for him and Steve. Steve didn't have family. Why wasn't Bucky with his, though?

 

“Why were you living with me?” he asked.

 

Steve bit his lip. Bucky’s eyes caught on it, something in him turning. It happened on occasion, though he always brushed it off, but Steve was hesitating in answering and was shifting his jaw so his lower lip, caught between his teeth, slipped back and forth, the skin white where his teeth pinched it. Bucky swallowed.

 

“I didn't have anywhere else to live,” Steve said finally. “So you let me live with you.”

 

“I did?”

 

“Yeah,” Steve said, shrugging. “After my ma died, you took me in. We were best pals back then.”

 

Bucky frowned. “Were?”

 

Steve glanced at him, then away. He shrugged.

 

“You're still my best pal, right?” Bucky asked carefully.

 

Steve looked up and slowly smiled. “Yeah, ‘course I am.”

 

Bucky nodded firmly. The matter was settled.

 

Steve began pouring the batter into an electric waffle iron, and Bucky pulled out his phone. He opened Twitter again, trying to scroll through more of the replies to his tweet. He ended up seeing hundreds of the almost exact same tweet and gave up. Then he went back to Steve’s tweet and liked it. He felt weird ‘liking’ things on the internet, but Romanova had sworn it was normal.

 

He became aware that Steve was whistling. Bucky glanced between his phone and Steve, then, smiled, and cautiously pressed the new tweet button. There were options for photos and videos, he remembered. He selected video, then carefully angled the phone so it was pointing subtly at Steve’s back.

 

Steve continued to whistle.

 

“These are almost done,” he announced.

 

“Steve,” Bucky said, his smile growing.

 

Steve glanced back at him, eyebrows raised. “Yeah?”

 

“It’s bad luck to whistle indoors.”

 

Steve’s eyebrows knit together slightly. “Are you filming me?”

 

Bucky tipped the phone back to look at it. “How can you tell?”

 

“Bucky!” Steve complained, half laughing. Bucky ended the video, typed out Steve’s username, and tweeted it.

 

The phone in Steve’s back pocket chimed. Steve looked over his shoulder towards his ass, then squinted suspiciously at Bucky.

 

“What did you do?”

 

“Absolutely nothing,” Bucky answered blandly. “Complete coincidence.”

 

“I don’t believe you,” Steve declared, tugging his phone out of his pocket and swiping at the screen. “Bucky!” he repeated, scoldingly and laughing again, apparently seeing the notification from Twitter. Bucky couldn’t help the snort as Steve half scowled half smiled at him, making for an interesting face. He took a picture of him, not to tweet or anything, just because he could.

 

“You absolute jerk,” Steve said.

 

“It was cute,” Bucky said.

 

Steve raised his eyebrows. “Are you calling me cute, Buck?”

 

Bucky shrugged, dropping his gaze as he realized he didn’t know what to say. Steve snorted, shaking his head and looking away. Bucky looked back to his phone to find Twitter letting him know that @stevegrantrogers had liked his tweet. He smiled to himself, pleased with his accomplishment for the day.

 

A few hours later, Stark tracked him down in the common room, where Bucky was watching more vines on his phone. He looked up to see the short yet surprisingly angry looking man glaring at him.

 

“What?” he asked, unaffected by Stark’s expression.

 

“How?” Stark demanded.

 

Bucky blinked at him. “Pardon?”

 

Stark held out his phone, jabbing a finger at it. “You have almost eleven million Twitter followers,” he said, seething almost. “I don’t even have ten million followers! I don’t even have nine and a half!”

 

“Should I care as much as you obviously do?” Bucky asked hesitantly.

 

Stark’s eyes, slowly, widened behind his sunglasses. Very. Slowly. He pivoted, and stormed away, passing Romanova as he did, who gave him a confused look before approaching Bucky.

 

“What did you do?” she asked.

 

“I have a lot of people following my Twitter account,” Bucky answered with a shrug.

 

“He woke Steve up this morning to tell him that, too,” Romanova mused. “He’s pretty passionate about his Twitter followers. How many is a lot?”

 

Bucky switched to Twitter and checked his account. “10.9.”

 

At Romanova’s furrowed brow, he added: “Million.”

 

Her eyebrows then shot up. “In a day?”

 

“Yes?” Bucky said, a little confused.

 

Romanova shrugged. “That would set his ego off,” she said, then turned and walked out. Bucky shrugged and returned to his phone. He paused, looking at his account that had just refreshed to show his follower account at 11m instead of 10.9m, then searched twitter for Iron Man. He looked for the blue check that was attached to his name, and didn’t find it, so instead looked for just Stark. He found Stark’s account after that, clicked on it, then opened a new tweet, tagging him in it.

 

@therealwintersoldier: @tonystark mwahaha

 

He tweeted it, leaned back, and grinned, waiting. After a long moment, he heard in the distance a shout of confused rage.

 

Romanova stuck her head back in. “What did you do now?” she asked, exasperated.

 

“I have eleven million followers,” Bucky said smugly. “And tweeted at him.”

 

Romanova’s eyebrows scrunched up together, shaking her head slowly. She left again, still shaking her head. Bucky, satisfied with his accomplishments for the day, returned to Vine.

 

Chris, is that a weed?” “No, this is a crayon.” “I’m calling the police!

 


 

 

“This is ridiculous! I’m Tony fucking Stark!”

 

“Mhmm,” Pepper said, completely not listening.

 

“This dude has had a Twitter for less than forty-eight hours!”

 

“Totally,” Pepper agreed.

 

“His handle is almost the same as Donald fucking Trump! Because I made it to fuck with him! Bucky, not Trump, I'd use much more devious methods to fuck with the giant cheeto.”

 

“I know,” Pepper said.

 

Tony’s face filled her vision abruptly. Pepper jumped and dropped her phone.

 

“You’re just playing Flappy Bird,” he accused.

 

“I’m playing Candy Crush and I have the right to,” Pepper said, sticking her nose in the air and picking her phone back up. “I’m the CEO of a massive multi-million dollar international company, I’m allowed to enjoy mindless mobile games.”

 

Tony looked very displeased. “Were you listening to a word I was saying?”

 

Pepper opened her mouth. She inhaled, trying to recall what he’d said. “You’re mad that Donald Trump has a Twitter.”

 

Tony quirked an eyebrow, then crossed his arms over his chest, leaning back. “While, yes, I, like the rest of the world, would like that baboon to stop complaining that he’s not President, that’s not what I was talking about.”

 

“I wasn’t listening,” Pepper said. “I’m tired and I want to play Candy Crush.”

 

Tony plucked her phone out of her grasp, swiped at the screen, then presented it back to her. “Look!” he said. “Look!”

 

She looked. It was, in fact, Twitter, but it wasn’t Donald Trump, it was a verified user with no header, profile picture, and a name that was the exact same as its handle, with only three tweets.

 

“Why are we mad at this Twitter person?” she asked.

 

“That’s Barnes,” Tony said. “He has 11.3 million followers. Since yesterday morning.”

 

“Impressive,” Pepper said.

 

“I have 9.46!” Tony insisted.

 

“I have 2 million,” Pepper said, sighing. “Your point?”

 

“No, no, no, babe, you have 2.98 million,” Tony corrected, then shook the phone at her. It switched orientation twice before stabilizing as landscape mode, then switched back to portrait. “But Barnes has three tweets, one of them is laughing at me, and 11.3 million followers!”

 

Pepper took her phone back. She scrolled the short distance to look at Barnes’s first tweet, then the second, then the third, then watched the video that was the second tweet. It was Steve, his back to the camera, the camera, in fact, focusing on his ass, whistling and cooking something. She paused the video and looked back up at Tony.

 

“Why is this more important than my pre-bed Candy Crush?” she asked in a longsuffering tone.

 

Tony pouted, as much as a nearly forty-year-old billionaire can pout over something as petty as someone having more Twitter followers than him. Pepper raised her eyebrows at him, then patted the bed beside her.

 

“Can you just calm down and come to bed?” she asked. “So you can criticize my Candy Crush strategies and we can pretend to watch Netflix?”

 

Tony pouted a little more, then sighed and dropped onto the bed. She patted his knee and returned to Candy Crush while Tony wriggled beneath the blankets and dropped his head on her shoulder.

 

“JARVIS, turn on Netflix,” he announced, petulantly.

 

“There you go,” Pepper said, patting his knee a second time.

 

“Would you like to resume watching The Big Bang Theory, Sir?” JARVIS asked.

 

“I’d like to watch Friends,” Pepper said.

 

“Yes, Ma’am,” JARVIS said, and Netflix complied.

 

“You’re playing Candy Crush, though,” Tony mumbled.

 

“And you’re watching me play Candy Crush,” she reminded him. “And in a few minutes, you’re going to pass out from sheer exhaustion since I’m fairly certain you haven’t slept since Wednesday.”

 

Tony frowned. “What day is it?”

 

She glanced at him, briefly, then returned to her phone. “Monday.”

 

“I slept two days ago.”

 

“That would still be too long of a gap.”

 

Tony shrugged. Five minutes later, he was snoring quietly. Pepper smiled to herself, continuing to play her mindless mobile game while not paying any attention to the TV.

 


 

 

It was probably three in the morning. Bucky had ended up sharing vines he really liked to Twitter, then just watching and retweeting them there, when he received a message from Steve.

 

roger roger

Buck it’s three in the morning

 

That was how he was aware of the time. Bucky considered ignoring the message, when another came.

 

roger roger

Go to sleep

 

He retweeted the vine compilation he’d been watching instead.

 

roger roger

Buck seriously this is bad for your health go to sleep

 

He replied finally. He was free, if he wanted to stay up all night exploring the wonders of the internet and snorting over weird letter placements in “fresh avocado” he could.

 

                                   Make me.

 

Steve didn’t answer for a while. Bucky returned to Twitter and his vines, enjoying his freedom, and after about ten minutes, the door opened.

 

“Alright,” Steve announced, crossing his arms over his chest and looking at him with a judgy expression, “go to sleep.”

 

Bucky raised an eyebrow. “Is this how you make me?”

 

Steve held out his phone. Bucky leaned in.

 

“This is a poll,” Steve told him, “your Twitter followers want you to sleep.”

 

@stevengrantrogers: should @therealwintersoldier keep watching vine until dawn comes or go to bed

he should go to sleep                                                 89%

nah            11%                                                                

 

Bucky scowled. He disliked having Twitter used against him.

 

“Off to beddy-bye you go!” Steve declared, then grabbed his arm and pulled him up off of his couch.

 

“You’re a menace to society,” Bucky said.

 

Steve gave him a gentle push, and he toppled onto his bed. “Even super-assassins need sleep,” he said.

 

Bucky offered Steve both middle fingers. Steve snorted and walked out. He heard the door shut, then rolled over to grab his phone.

 

Steve had stolen it.

 

“Little punk,” he muttered around a yawn.

 

He slept, for a few hours until nature called him to wakefulness. Bucky groaned into his pillow, not wanting to leave his cocoon of warmth, but got up and stumbled, rubbing at his eyes, to the bathroom. After relieving himself, he felt a bit more awake, enough to go looking for his phone, only to remember that Steve had stolen it. For a moment, he glowered into nothingness, then turned around and walked out of his apartment across the hall.

 

He found his phone on Steve’s kitchen counter, and Steve still in bed, snoring. Bucky glowered at him for a moment, then opened Twitter, started a video, and started shouting.

 

“HE’S BEAUTY, HE’S GRACE!”

 

Steve woke with a jerk and scrambled to get out of bed, tripping on his blankets and landing on the floor as Bucky continued: “HE’S MISTER UNITED STATES!”

 

“Bucky, what the fuck?” Steve muttered, standing up to reveal that he was only wearing boxers. Bucky’s eyes went wide and he hastily ended the video.

 

“You’re a menace to society,” he repeated firmly, determinedly not looking lower than Steve’s face, focusing on his sleep-rumpled hair. He typed out Steve’s username to tag him on it and tweeted the video while Steve glared at him.

 

“You just tweeted something,” Steve accused lightly.

 

“Don’t steal my phone,” Bucky warned.

 

“It’s six in the morning!” Steve protested. “I put you to bed three hours ago!”

 

“I had to pee,” Bucky defended himself.

 

“So you come in here and shout at me?” Steve asked, one eyebrow raised and an incredulous smile curling his lips. He grabbed his own phone off the side table and looked at it, then turned his head up to stare at Bucky with disapproval.

 

“HE’S BEAUTY HE’S GRACE HE’S MISTER UNITED STATES!”  screamed Bucky’s voice from the phone.

 

“Bucky, what the fuck?”  Steve in the video repeated.

 

“The whole world just got a view of my boxers,” Steve said flatly.

 

“Only 11 million people,” Bucky corrected. “That’s, like, 10% of the whole world.”

 

Steve dropped back onto his bed and offered Bucky the same fingers Bucky had shown him only a few hours previous. “I like to sleep, you jerk,” he said, flopping backwards with his middle fingers still pointing up.

 

“Don’t steal my phone, ya punk,” Bucky retorted, already turning to leave, but he heard Steve sit up rapidly and turned back. Steve was staring at him, mouth slightly open. “What?” he said.

 

Steve shook himself. “Nothing,” he said, lying down again.

 

“What?” Bucky insisted, stepping forward.

 

Steve lifted up onto an elbow, considering something. “I didn’t think you remembered that gag,” he said finally. “The jerk/punk thing.”

 

Bucky frowned. He didn’t. Steve nodded, looking away. “You don’t. Never mind.”

 

“I just always call you punk, though,” Bucky said hesitantly.

 

“No, it’s – never mind,” Steve mumbled.

 

Bucky didn’t like not knowing things. He’d spent a large portion of his life not knowing things, and God help him, he would know things now. He approached the bed and dropped onto it, poking Steve firmly in the foot.

 

“What?” Steve muttered.

 

“What’s the thing?” Bucky insisted.

 

“I call you jerk, you call me punk, that’s it,” Steve said.

 

“What’s the reason, though?” Bucky asked.

 

“We just do,” Steve mumbled in answer. “Let me sleep.”

 

“Stevie, I remember less than half of our lives before the war,” Bucky said sharply, and Steve sat up a little, “I do things that I don’t understand sometimes, like calling you Stevie or punk, but I know they were important. What’s the reason?”

 

Steve blinked several times. He sat up properly, rubbing at his eyes.

 

“It was when we first met,” he said finally. “At school. I was nine, you had just turned eleven, these bullies were hustling me for my lunch money, as per usual. You showed up and fought ‘em off, and I scolded you for not letting me fight my own fight. Called you a jerk. You called me a punk for trying to beat off two guys twice my size and then not be appreciative when someone came in to save my ass, which clearly needed saving.”

 

Steve looked at him, blinking slowly. Bucky’s gaze drifted to the bed covers, his brow furrowed and mouth downturned. Now that Steve had told him, he could remember that, how Steve had already got his lip busted when he came in and how the two bullies decided that he wasn’t worth the trouble anymore after Bucky broke one of their noses.

 

“Why do I call you Stevie, then?” Bucky challenged.

 

Steve opened his mouth, then shut it and looked at his hands in his lap. “Another time, Buck,” he said quietly.

 

“Why?” Bucky insisted. “Why’s that important?”

 

“Just, I’m tired, another time,” Steve said, lying back again. Bucky watched him yank the blankets up over his shoulders, tucking them around his neck. It was a habit Bucky remembered him doing since he was young; the room they were in was very comfortable temperature wise, there was no way Steve was cold, but Steve always kept the blankets tucked tightly around him to keep as warm as possible, since the heat in his mother’s apartment was just enough to keep them from freezing but not enough to be comfortable, and even when Steve lived with him, the heating there wasn’t much better. Looking at him then, Bucky could remember, during the winter months, the two of them pressing close together at night, trying to keep warm under every blanket they owned. Steve used to fit just perfect against the curve of Bucky’s chest with his head tucked beneath his chin, cheek resting on his outstretched arm. And thinking about it, Bucky knew somehow that Steve still fit just perfectly in his arms despite being much taller and broader than he’d been when they were kids.

 

“We slept in the same room,” Bucky said abruptly. “Same bed.”

 

Steve lifted up again, looking over his shoulder at Bucky. “It was cold,” he said.

 

“Must have been cold all the time,” Bucky muttered.

 

Steve looked away again. “New York’s cold,” he answered quietly.

 

“Was it cold in Italy?” Bucky asked, though he had no clue why he felt like asking, just that he remembered holding Steve, as he was now, not just as a kid before the serum. “In Germany? All the other places we went?”

 

“It gets cold everywhere,” Steve said shortly, dropping his head onto the pillow again.

 

Bucky poked his foot. “What aren’t you telling me?” he demanded. “Why aren’t you telling me?”

 

Steve kicked at him lightly. “I’m telling you all sorts of things,” he said. “I want to sleep.”

 

Bucky gave up. He stood, hesitated, then made for the door. He glanced back over his shoulders, at Steve curled up under his blankets with a slight arch to his back, as if to fit another body, and left.

 

He dropped onto his own bed and curled up under his blankets, staring at the ceiling. He shifted onto his left side, then back onto his right to stare at the door. He felt cold. The blankets had lost all their heat, and were chilly against his skin. He just stared at the door, for a while, then rolled onto his back, shifting upward to lean on the pillows, and tugged out his phone, just looking at it for a while.

 

He went to his own account and played the video of Steve. The camera shook as Bucky barged into the room, Steve scrambled and then fell, standing slowly with a confused expression. Most of the replies, and there were hundreds already, were basically wolf whistling and cat-calling, people complimenting Steve’s boxers and figure in suggestive ways that tugged Bucky’s mouth into a scowl. Some people were scolding him, Bucky, for waking up Captain America, one user @moonythejedi307 specifically said: “shame on you he needs his beauty sleep.” Plenty more simply thanked him for posting it, another user called @_june_clark said: “you’re a blessing to this world thank you for this gem to society,” though Bucky wasn’t sure how shouting at Steve at six in the morning was a gem to society. He stared at the replies a little longer, then scrolled back up to the video and just stared at it. It played over and over, silent, while Bucky just watched Steve falling and then standing up to blink blearily, and tried to remember what Steve wasn’t telling him.

 

He switched to Google, searching for the exhibit he’d seen in the Smithsonian, thinking maybe something there would trip his memories again. He ended up staring at a photograph of his own face for a long time, remembering nothing.

 

Twitter chimed. He switched to it, finding that Steve had replied to the video.

 

@stevengrantrogers: @therealwintersoldier and you call me a menace to society.

 

Bucky liked the tweet, then went back to Google. Tired, and wanting answers, he searched just for his name and Steve’s.

 

The results were varied. Most of them were from newspapers and magazines, a few Wikipedia results and the Smithsonian exhibit. He moved to the second page of results, and found some Tumblr blogs, a few forums and something called Reddit. Romanova hadn’t explained that one to him, so he clicked on it.

 

As he read through it, his eyebrows steadily grew more and more furrowed. The concept of Reddit seemed simple enough, a forum for anonymous users to post questions and theories, a bit like Tumblr, but the particular post he was reading made absolutely no sense. He read through it three times, and in the end, he had no clue how the original poster came to such a conclusion, though he figured it would be absolutely useless in triggering his memories.

 

There was a share button on the page. Bucky, in his confusion, decided to ask Twitter what the fuck this post meant.

 

@therealwintersoldier: how do people think steve’s my brother?  www.reddit.com/r/CaptainAmerica/comments/has_anyone_considered_the_winter_solider_is_cap’s_brother/

 

After five minutes and a lot of unhelpful Twitter people, Bucky tried some more Reddit posts. Most of them were just as unhelpful, many outlandish as the first, and two suggested that he and Steve had been lovers.

 

“‘M fairly certain Steve would’ve told me that,” Bucky muttered to himself, and exited Reddit. He dropped his head back onto the pillows and stared up at the ceiling, with even more questions than he had started with. Abruptly, he thought that he wouldn’t have minded if those two theories had been true. But Steve would have told him something like that.

 

His phone chimed, and for once, it wasn’t Twitter. He rolled onto his side, his face smushing against the pillow, and found a text waiting for him.

 

short angry man

I warn you, Reddit is not for the unwary. Stay clear of as much as possible unless you want to find the furry community.

 

Bucky frowned. He searched Google for ‘furry.’

 

Stark texted him again as Bucky’s eyes went wide in horror. Was nothing out of the question anymore?

 

short angry man

Don’t google that

 

                                    Too late.

 

I warned you.

 

Bucky shuddered, and resolved not to spend too much more of his time on Reddit before returning to vine to cleanse his mind of what he’d just read.

 

short angry man

By the way, you’re on the news again.

 

Bucky sat bolt upright, wide-eyed staring at Stark’s text. Stark sent another, telling him to turn on CNN.

 

“JARVIS, turn on CNN?” Bucky said. “Whatever CNN is?”

 

“CNN is a media company, also called Cable News Network.”

 

The TV on the opposite wall turned on, showing a woman in a crisp skirt suit, addressing Bucky and the other viewers in a very matter of fact tone, though halfway through her speech, Bucky started laughing and failed to sober himself.

 

“Following his pardon by the President of the United States, Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes, former Nazi prisoner of war and brainwashed Hydra agent, took to an unusual method of adapting to the modern world: Twitter. His Twitter handle was tweeted out by Tony Stark, and in the following two days, he gained over ten million followers.”

 

His Twitter handle, apparently because it was called that and not a username, appeared on the screen as well as an image of his first tweet from the day before.

 

“Barnes posted only four tweets as well as sharing and retweeting several Vines, but two of his tweets were videos of the famed Steven Rogers, also known as Captain America. The latest of these featured Barnes entering Captain Roger’s bedroom and shouting the line:  “He’s beauty, he’s grace, he’s mister United States” , just to cause Captain Rogers to fall out of bed, dressed only in boxers.”

 

The video appeared on screen and played, Steve’s last word was bleeped out, as well as his entire lower body blurred out, with only faint blue pixels indicating he wasn’t just naked. Bucky fell onto his side, snorting.

 

“The rest of the world seems to agree with Captain Rogers; Barnes, what the hell?”

 

short angry man

Congrats, you’re viral and you’ve ruined Captain America

 

Bucky composed himself long enough to text Stark back.

 

                                 Ha!

 

He then collapsed into laughter once again, the news broadcast continuing in the background despite his completely ignoring it. He heard knocking, then sat up in time for Steve to walk in, one eyebrow raised and his arms crossed over his chest.

 

“So, only a small portion of the world, huh?” Steve asked blandly.

 

“Twitter users have been questioning how Barnes got access to Captain Roger’s bedroom, several positing that the two are living together now that Barnes is a free man.”

 

“I’m a blessing to this world,” Bucky answered.

 

“Suggestions that they are not only living together –”

 

“JARVIS, switch it off,” Steve said abruptly.

 

The TV turned off, the newscaster in the middle of talking.

 

“What?” Bucky said, now getting somewhat concerned, wondering if perhaps he’d stepped over a line.

 

“Nothing,” Steve said quickly, “I just didn’t want to keep listening to that.”

 

“I didn't upset you, did I?” Bucky asked cautiously.

 

“No, no, it’s fine, in hindsight, it’s funny,” Steve answered him, a little too quickly, “and to be honest, I’m fine with you ruining the perfect image of Captain America.”

 

“Stark texted you that too?” Bucky asked.

 

Steve snorted, nodding.

 

“So, what’s the problem?”

 

Steve shook his head. “There’s no problem. Never mind. I just came in here to sigh at you dramatically.”

 

Bucky raised an eyebrow. “You gotta scare me into thinking I messed up to do that?”

 

“Sorry,” Steve muttered.

 

“Forget it,” Bucky said hastily. Steve started to turn away, paused, then left without a word. Bucky stared after him for a while, until the door shut and silence fell over the apartment.

 

“JARVIS,” Bucky said cautiously.

 

“Yes, Sergeant?”

 

“What was that CNN lady about to say when Steve turned it off?”

 

The TV switched back on again, the newscaster talking about something else, then the image rewinded and resumed.

 

“Twitter users have been questioning how Barnes got access to Captain Roger’s bedroom, several positing that the two are living together now that Barnes is a free man. While reports do suggest that Barnes is staying in Stark Tower with many of the other Avengers, Twitter questions how Barnes was so blase about entering the Captain’s quarters, such that many suggestions that they are not only living together in Stark Tower but as roommates have been made all over the Internet.”

 

“I don’t get it,” Bucky muttered.

 

“This may have connections to the statement Captain Rogers made to Fox News the year prior to Sergeant Barnes’s resurfacing as the Winter Soldier.”

 

“What statement?” Bucky asked, sitting up.

 

The newscaster was replaced by a video. Steve was standing outside Stark Tower, dressed in civilian clothes and looking harassed. A microphone was shoved in his face, which probably explained his irked expression.

 

“What do you think of the Supreme Court’s decision to declare same-sex marriage a constitutional right?”

 

Steve, in the video, sighed and glanced over his shoulder towards the entrance to Stark Tower, then looked back at the camera and the reporter.  “I think people are trying to get me to say something contrary about it, but I’ll tell you what. If people hadn’t been so stubborn when I was a kid, my life would have been a hell of a lot easier.”

 

Bucky blinked as the video clip ended, replaced by the newscaster again. She continued to speak, but he wasn’t listening again.

 

“JARVIS, what did that mean?” he asked the ceiling.

 

“I believe Captain Rogers was implying he or someone he knew before he was frozen in 1945 was in some way homosexual.”

 

Bucky blinked at the TV. “Rewind again,” he said.

 

The image did. Steve’s face reappeared, harried and not looking into the camera, but slightly off to the left. “Play it,” Bucky said quietly.

 

“If people hadn’t been so stubborn when I was a kid, my life would have been made a hell of a lot easier.”

 

“Whether or not Captain America was implying he was involved in a homosexual relationship with the Winter Soldier and if that relationship has resumed, more on that at 11.”

 

“Turn it off,” Bucky said hastily, and the TV cut out. Bucky continued to stare at it, however, his mind blank.

 

“Sergeant, shall I call the Captain for you?”

 

“No,” Bucky said hoarsely. He cleared his throat, dropping his gaze onto his phone.

 

“Shall I call Miss Romanov?”

 

“No,” Bucky snapped. “Don’t call anyone. I’m fine.”

 

“Yes, Sergeant.”

 

Bucky clenched his jaw, staring at the phone. Perhaps it wasn’t so outlandish, those last two Reddit posts, if fucking CNN decided to speculate about his and Steve’s relationship on national fucking television.

 

If he’d wanted to make a mark, he certainly was making one now.

 

Bucky changed into workout clothes and made his way to the gym three floors below him. It was empty, since it was about nine a.m. and everyone had finished their training for the day or planned it for later. He dropped the phone onto a mat and started punching.

 

Steve would have told him. Steve would have said something if they hadn’t just been friends, he wouldn’t have left Bucky to just find out through TV and the internet, he would have told him.

 

The punching bag split, spilling sand everywhere. Bucky gave up and dropped onto the mat, arms on his knees, staring into the blue rubber and scowling.

 

Steve was hiding things from him, he knew that. There were things that he’d remember and ask Steve about, and Steve had given some weak excuse as to why he’d never mentioned it. Like the fact that they had lived together, or that they’d had to sleep in the same bed because of the cold –

 

“Sergeant, the Captain wishes to speak to you. May I inform him of your location?”

 

Bucky blinked. He didn’t remember anything, but the pieces that he did remember suddenly didn’t make any sense anymore.

 

“Yeah,” Bucky said, standing. “I want to ask him something.”

 

“He is on his way, Sergeant.”

 

Bucky was standing on the mats, arms crossed over his chest, when Steve came in five minutes later.

 

“So, I finished watching that news report,” Bucky said before Steve could even speak. “I don’t remember a single thing about you and me doing…” he made vague gestures with his hand, not even sure how to word it, while Steve’s face progressively got paler. “And I sure as hell thought that if that were the case, you would have told me.”

 

Steve said nothing. Bucky crossed his arms again.

 

“But you didn’t tell me,” he finished. “So, either tell me, or lie to me, and remember that I can tell when you’re lying. Probably because I was your fucking lover, even if I can’t remember it.”

 

“What did you want me to do?” Steve burst out. “You barely remembered your own name at first, how was I supposed to explain to you what we were?”

 

“Maybe you coulda started with we were fucking lovers!” Bucky shouted.

 

“How could I know how you’d take that?” Steve demanded, his voice rising in volume as he went on, Bucky’s eyes growing wider. “What would you want me to say, ‘oh, hey, by the way, Buck, you called me Stevie when you were fucking me in the ass or when you were kissing my neck’ ‘hey, buddy, I used to suck you off in the shower because it was easier to mask the noise there’ ‘hey, Buck, I know you’re having trouble coping with your past, but just to let you know, we were a lot more than friends so now you can cope with that too’?”

 

Bucky blinked. Steve glared.

 

“What did you want me to do?” he snapped.

 

Bucky couldn’t find any words. Steve crossed his own arms over his chest, as they stared at each other, at an impasse.

 

“There was never a right time, or a right place, you haven’t remembered half of your childhood, I didn’t want to dump that on you randomly, it wasn’t fair to you,” Steve said.

 

“When were you going to tell me?” Bucky asked.

 

“When you remembered it,” Steve answered softly. “If you did.”

 

Bucky stared at him. He couldn’t understand how Steve could do this to him, how he could do it to himself, or why he didn’t get it. How could he do it to himself?! “I don’t have to remember any of that to know you’re special to me!”

 

“I wasn’t gonna drop something like that on you and expect everything to just go back to the way it was,” Steve muttered.

 

Bucky gaped, blinking rapidly and out of words. He looked around, his hands going to his head to clutch his temples, and tried to think of what to say or do; he was angry more at himself than at Steve, because he should have remembered this! He should have remembered something like this more than the last time he had fresh blueberries or the fact that their apartment was always cold, this was something he would have wanted to remember desperately.

 

He was trying to remember. And none of it was coming back to him.

 

“This is why I didn’t tell you,” Steve added quietly. “Because I knew you’d be upset.”

 

Bucky tried to look at him, tried to explain that he was upset with himself, not at Steve, never at Steve, but the words didn’t come and Steve dropped his gaze as well.

 

“I’m sorry,” Steve said quietly, then turned and left.

 

Bucky dropped back down to the mat, staring at his hands and at a loss for what to do. He couldn’t remember. He couldn’t remember anything, Steve’s blunt and explicit words had sent his stomach flipping but his memory remained stubbornly locked away from him.

 

With an abrupt shout of rage, Bucky surged to his feet and slammed his metal fist into a wall. The concrete cracked and splintered under his weight, and the ceiling chimed lightly above him.

 

“Sir would like to request that you refrain from abusing the tower itself, rather, focus your punches on the equipment provided.”

 

“Fuck off, JARVIS,” Bucky growled.

 

“Yes, Sergeant.”

 

Bucky remembered nothing, because Hydra had taken it all from him. Hydra had probably done their worst to his memories of Steve, since Steve had been his focus point once he’d started to rebel. After that fight on the bridge, after confessing to his handlers that he had almost recognized his target and their attempts to further wash it from his brain, Bucky had used Steve to drag himself out of their grip and into the light. And now, Steve had once meant more to him, and he couldn’t remember more than just a single night, trying to keep warm.

 

“Sergeant, would you like me to summon Miss Romanov so that you two might spar?”

 

“I said, fuck off, JARVIS,” Bucky snapped again.

 

“Sir has requested I do my best to keep you from damaging the structural integrity of the building.”

 

“I’m not going to fucking bring the tower down!” Bucky shouted.

 

“I am sure you do not intend to, Sergeant, but Sir worries that your efforts might get away from you while you are distracted.”

 

“Oh, and I bet he knows exactly what’s distracting me, is he listening in to all my conversations?”

 

“No, Sergeant, Sir is not even aware of your actions at this moment. It is a general, standing order that when you or any other member of the Avengers strike the walls, I remind you to please don’t.”

 

Bucky glared at the ceiling, half panting and half growling. Finally, he stalked off to find a new punching bag.

 

“Fine,” he muttered. “I’ll leave the precious walls alone. That’s not even a load-bearing wall.”

 

“As I said, it is a general, standing order.”

 

“Thanks, JARVIS,” Bucky said sarcastically.

 

“You sound greatly agitated. Is there perhaps some way I might help?”

 

“Not unless you know how to bring my memories back,” Bucky quipped. He punched, and the bag split. “Great.”

 

“There are reinforced punching bags in the left wing of the gym. Sir had them installed for the Captain’s use, so they should withstand your increased strength.”

 

Bucky paused. “Sir had them what?”

 

“Installed for the Captain’s use, Sergeant.”

 

“Steve?”

 

“Yes, Sergeant.”

 

“Steve needs reinforced punching bags?” Bucky asked quietly.

 

“Yes, Sergeant. It is one of his methods of de-stressing.”

 

“What else does he do?” Bucky asked hastily. It probably wasn’t fair, getting the ceiling to tattle on Steve, but then again, it wasn’t fair for Steve to hide from him the fact that they’d been lovers seventy years ago. “When he’s stressed?”

 

“He frequents the roof to smoke cigarettes. I give out the mandatory health warning whenever he does, however, his biology is altered such that nicotine has little to no effect on him as well as his risk of cancers being remarkably low.”

 

“Steve smokes?” Bucky repeated.

 

Another thing he couldn’t remember. Had he ever smoked? He growled in frustration, stalking off towards the left wing, where a panel was lit up helpfully, to find the reinforced punching bags reserved for Steve, apparently. He squared up in front of one, then punched as hard as he could with his metal fist.

 

The bag swung a little, but remained intact.

 

“I have results for your query.”

 

Bucky paused, looking up at the ceiling again, frowning. “What query?”

 

His own voice replayed at him.  “Not unless you know how to bring my memories back.”

 

“Leading experts in the fields of retrograde amnesia recommend Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, EMDR for short, hypnosis, neurofeedback, cognitive therapy, occupational therapy, and bilateral sounds to improve the amnesia.”

 

Bucky stared, mouth open slightly, at the ceiling. “I… didn’t think you’d actually try to fix my memory,” he said finally.

 

“It is my duty to answer any and all queries made to me wherever possible, Sergeant. I can search for psychiatrists who specialize in restoring memory loss if you wish?”

 

“No,” Bucky said hastily, “no, I’ve had enough of poking and prodding by doctor’s.”

 

“As you wish, Sergeant.”

 

Bucky dropped his gaze back to the punching bag, though he didn’t resume his attacking of it. He thought over what JARVIS had told him, then asked the ceiling: “Is hypnosis really a thing?”

 

“Yes, Sergeant. The American Psychological Association reports hypnosis to be “powerful, effective therapeutic technique for a wide range of conditions, including pain, anxiety and mood disorders.” By placing the patient in a relaxed state, access to memories that have been repressed is made easier.”

 

“I haven’t repressed my memories,” Bucky muttered, looking away, “they were stolen.”

 

“They are in your brain somewhere. Whether it was you or Hydra scientists doing the repressing, the process remains the same.”

 

Bucky clenched his jaw again, looking at the punching bag and finding himself torn.

 

“Can you perform hypnosis, JARVIS?”

 

“Theoretically. I am an AI and thus can learn the techniques of hypnosis instantly, however, I would not advise attempting it without a professional.”

 

“You’re as professional as I’m willing to get,” Bucky said in low, sharp tones.

 

“Then at the very least allow for Miss Romanov or Captain Rogers to –”

 

“Fine, Romanova,” Bucky interrupted, “but don’t call Steve!”

 

“Very well. Shall I have her meet you here or in your quarters?”

 

“My quarters,” Bucky muttered.

 

He started back out of the gym as JARVIS said: “As you wish, Sergeant.”

 

After retrieving but not looking at his phone, Bucky took the elevator back up to his floor. His jaw tightened as he stepped out of the elevator, his gaze fixed on Steve’s closed door, then he purposefully switched his attention to the ground he was walking on, walking with his hands shoved in his pockets to his room.

 

Romanova was sitting on his couch, staring at the ceiling with her head thrown back. Without looking at him, she said: “JARVIS said you wanted to see me.”

 

“Yeah,” he muttered, dropping into a chair, his eyes still glued to the floor. “I want to try hypnosis. JARVIS won’t do it without a witness.”

 

Romanova lifted her head. “Hypnosis?”

 

“To get my memories back,” he added.

 

“From who?”

 

“JARVIS.”

 

Romanova quirked an eyebrow, adjusting her seat on the sofa to look at him properly. “He’s an AI, can he even do that?”

 

“Theoretically,” JARVIS chimed in.

 

Romanova glanced up at the ceiling, her lips pressed into a thin line on her otherwise expressionless face. “I’m not sure I like the idea,” she said slowly. “Or why you decided you to call me instead of Cap.”

 

Bucky clenched his teeth together again, silent.

 

“Because of Cap?” she asked.

 

“Will you do it?” Bucky said through his gritted teeth.

 

Romanova leaned back, crossing her arms as she appraised him. For a long moment, the silence stretched, until she spoke again.

 

“JARVIS, is this safe?”

 

“Theoretically.”

 

“Is this going to damage his brain any further?” Romanova corrected. Bucky looked away from her.

 

“Predictions indicate that attempting hypnosis should not trigger any conditioning created by Hydra, as records indicate, such conditioning has successfully been undone.”

 

“Will it mess up his memory?”

 

“Predictions indicate it should not.”

 

Romanova was quiet for a moment longer. Then:

 

“Alright. Do it.”

 

“Lean back and make yourself comfortable, Sergeant,” JARVIS announced.

 

Bucky shifted in the chair, leaning his head against the back of it to stare up at the ceiling, jaw still tight. His phone chimed.

 

Romanova glanced at him. Bucky sat up a little to check it.

 

roger roger

Hey I found this on that site you’d been using a lot I thought it was funny  https://vine.co/v/e5qeMqquUhP

 

Bucky glanced up at Romanova. Romanova raised an eyebrow.

 

“Take your time, Sergeant,” JARVIS said.

 

He clicked on the link.

 

“Well, if it isn’t the man with the giant metal frisbee.” “I’m Captain America.”

 

Bucky frowned, confused.

 

“The man with the giant metal frisbee.”

 

He snorted.

 

“What?” Romanova muttered.

 

“Steve sent that to me,” he said.

 

“Cap sent it to you?” Romanova repeated.

 

Bucky nodded, chuckling as the video looped before locking his phone, shaking his head. “This is the kinda dumb shit Stevie would find funny,” he said.

 

“I’m sure the Captain was only trying to cheer you up,” JARVIS commented.

 

“I don’t understand him sometimes,” Romanova said softly.

 

“Shall we begin?” JARVIS asked.

 

“Right, yeah.”

 

Clearing his throat, Bucky leaned back in the chair, tilting his head up towards the ceiling and letting his eyes fall shut.

 

“Ready,” he said.

 

Quiet string music, barely audible though not to the point where he was struggling to listen, began to play from the speakers throughout the room. Bucky felt the temperature in the room rise by a few degrees, and JARVIS began talking, though in a slightly altered voice, somewhat more feminine, and lighter, musical, and slightly slurred together, as if someone half-asleep was speaking.

 

“You are in a room. You are alone in the room, sitting in a chair. You are comfortable. Your back is supported, your feet propped up, your skin warm and your muscles relaxed. Take a deep breath, inhale for seven seconds and hold it for three, then exhale for seven seconds and hold it for three.”

 

Bucky inhaled. He recognized the technique as a method of slowing your heart rate, one he’d used many times when adrenaline began to get to be too much.

 

“You breathe in, deep, and the air fills your lungs. You breathe out, deep, and your mind is clear. Focus on your breathing. One, two, three, four, five, six, and seven. One, two, and three. One, two, three, four, five, six, and seven. One, two, and three.”

 

He felt his heart rate decreasing. His breathing began to even out on its own, following the pattern of seven, three, seven, three.

 

“Your body is relaxed. The tension starts to leave your body, starting with your toes. I’d like you to curl your toes inward, then relax them.”

 

Bucky complied, though he wasn’t sure how that was meant to help.

 

“Now, flex them upward, and then relax.”

 

He did, still unsure what curling his toes was meant to do.

 

“The tension is gone from your feet. I’d like you to flex your ankle, up, then relax, then down, and relax.”

 

His ankles did feel stretched nicely.

 

“Now, the tension is gone from your ankles. I’d like you to flex your calves, then relax.”

 

The process continued. JARVIS, still speaking in that lighter, slightly more feminine tone, instructed him to flex and relax nearly every muscle in his body, from his toes upward, and even his metal arm. Finally, he had rolled his neck, exhaled, and found himself legitimately relaxed.

 

“The tension is completely gone from your body. With your eyes still closed, I’d like you to picture the room around you. You are seated in a chair, your legs stretched out in front of you. Before you is a table. On that table, there is a picture frame. Don’t worry about what’s in it, just focus on seeing the frame.”

 

Bucky, though a little weary, imagined as he was instructed.

 

“Tell me what you see.”

 

He hadn’t expected to have to speak, but gathered his thoughts just enough to answer. “The table is square. It’s brown, and small. The picture frame is black, made of wood.”

 

“Now, relax again. Breathe in deep, and exhale deep. Inside the picture frame is a photograph. It is of you and someone else, before you left for England to fight in the war. What do you see?”

 

His mind immediately conjured an image, one that somehow felt like a real photo he’d seen somewhere.

 

“I see myself, in my uniform,” he began. His words were soft, a little slurred, just like JARVIS’s. “This picture was taken right before I shipped out to England.”

 

“Who is with you?”

 

“Steve.”

 

“What does he look like?”

 

The memory came clearer to him. “He’s shorter than me. Wearing an overcoat, suspenders. Work clothes, but some of his nicer ones. His lip’s busted, ‘cause he was in a fight earlier.”

 

“When was this photo taken?”

 

“It was December, 1941.”

 

“Now, imagine that you are leaning back. Let your mind drift. Breathe in, and out, and in your mind, stand up and turn around. On the wall behind you, there is another picture of you and of Steve, younger than the last photo.”

 

Bucky imagined as he’d been told, and the picture his mind brought up was of them as kids.

 

“What do you see?”

 

“Me and Stevie, in the schoolyard at lunch. The school’d just gotten this fancy new camera, Miss Letterman was goin’ around taken everybody’s pictures. We’re sitting underneath the old walnut tree in the back, we were hiding from Georgie Finch and Liam Elliot, they wanted to snag the candied apple Stevie’s ma had put in his lunch bag.”

 

“Did they get the candied apple?”

 

“Nah. Stevie shared it with me.”

 

“Now, breathe in, and breathe out. Ahead of you is a hallway. As you enter it, you see on your left another picture frame, but this time, the photo is just of Steve. What do you see?”

 

“He’s sitting by our Christmas tree,” Bucky replied, not even thinking anymore, the memory just coming to him. “It’s not much of a tree, it’s this little fir that got left at the grocery store lot. I paid ten dollars for it, but Stevie got so happy ‘cause he hadn’t had a real tree since he was a kid. He’s wearing an old pair of my pajamas, and he’s unwrapping a present.”

 

“What’s the present?”

 

“It’s a sketch pad and some pencils. Not real fancy ones, just number two pencils, but they’ve got good erasers on the ends.”

 

“Did you give it to him?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“What did he say?”

 

Bucky smiled then. “He said he was gonna make me pose for him. Said he was gonna have me do a nude.”

 

“Did you?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“How did it turn out?”

 

“I don’t think he finished. We got distracted.”

 

“By what?”

 

It was coming to him easily then. Steve’s giggling as he told him to stop horsing around, his own teasing and pretend flexing, then how quickly it deteriorated into the two of them on the couch, kissing and then more. Steve got all flushed like he always did, they almost forgot to keep quiet, but lucky for them, the sharp old lady next door had gone to visit her grandkids and the apartment on the other side was empty.

 

“I kept complaining about being cold. I told him to come warm me up.”

 

“Now, breathe in, Sergeant, and breathe out. You turn around, and behind you is another picture. It’s the first time you kissed anyone. What do you see?”

 

“It’s Stevie,” he said, as if it was obvious. “It’s his fifteenth birthday. I told him I loved him, tryna make it sound like I loved him like a brother, but I messed it up, or whatever, ‘cause he kissed me.”

 

“Describe the scene.”

 

“It was about one in the morning. We were sitting on the fire escape, I’d stolen a couple of cigarettes from my dad for us to smoke, we were watching the fireworks. I had my arm around him, ‘cause he was cold, he was always cold, and I said  ‘I love you’  and he looked me in the eye and asked me if I meant it like a friend or what? I think I didn’t say anything, I just looked at him, then he just leaned in and kissed me.”

 

“Did anyone find out?”

 

“No. We were terrified, but no one ever did find out. When I got sent to boot camp at first, I sent letters to his house pretending they were for his sister, but he doesn’t have a sister, they were for him. Pretended his name was Susan instead of Steve, and as long as I didn’t get too graphic the censors never found out I was writing to my fella, not my girl. We lost contact after I got shipped out to England, my letters got lost, his got lost, everything was lost. Then I got captured.”

 

“Breathe in, deep, and breathe out. You turn and walk down the hallway, and on your left is another picture. This one is of the first time you saw Steve after the serum. What do you see?”

 

“I was kinda out of it when he found me. He got me unstrapped from the gurney they put me on, hauled me up and draped me ‘round his shoulders like a rag doll. I didn’t recognize him at first, but he was checking me out, looking for injuries I guess, and I just said  ‘Stevie?’  and he said  ‘I thought you were dead.’

 

Bucky chuckled, a little sadly though, remembering it in hindsight. “I said  ‘I thought you were smaller.’

 

“What did you think of him then?”

 

“I didn’t give a shit. After we got out, back to base and all, there was this big party, celebrate Captain America and the rescue from the Azzano. But after it was all over, I went to his tent. Mine was right by the rest of the men’s, but his had gotten set up behind the mess hall, with Agent Carter and all the dancing girls nearby, but none of them were there, so I went to his tent. We talked for a while, he kept dancing around the subject, and I got so fed up of being right there but not being  there , you know, that I just grabbed him and kissed him. He was surprised, I think, ‘cause after I kissed him, he couldn’t look me in the eye, he just kinda asked if I felt the same now he looked different.”

 

“And what did you tell him?”

 

“It wasn’t even a question for me. I didn’t give a shit, so that’s what I told him, then I kissed him again.”

 

“Breathe in, and out, taking deep breaths. One, two, three, four, five, six, and seven. One, two, and three. One, two, three, four, five, six, and seven. One, two, and three. You turn around, and on the right wall is another picture. It is the first time you were with Steve. Where were you?”

 

“Do you mean sex?” Bucky asked the ceiling.

 

“Yes, Sergeant. Where were you?”

 

“His ma’s apartment, in his room. He’d had influenza, and it turned into pneumonia. His ma was doing a night shift at the hospital, and she asked me to watch out for him, ‘cause she was pretty sure that it was gonna be it for him. I was trying to keep my hopes up, ‘cause if he died, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Probably step off the top of a building.”

 

“How old were you?”

 

“I was eighteen, almost nineteen, he was seventeen.”

 

“When was it?”

 

“January. Coldest fuckin’ January it had ever been. Never stopped snowing. It was always bad for him when the snow kept up like that, messed with his asthma, made it easier for him to get sick.”

 

“What happened that led to it?”

 

“It was cold. We were in the bed together, he was shivering but he had a really bad fever, but it was coming down, I think. His ma was scared he was gonna die, I told you, yeah?”

 

“You did say that, yes. Were you?”

 

“Yeah. I always got scared. But I was tryin’ to keep his spirits up. He started talking about how he was worried about his ma if he did die, ‘cause she could hardly keep the rent up with both her jobs and what money Stevie got from odd jobs and the last of his dad’s pension, and I just didn’t want to think about him dying, so I started kissing him, it got intense, one thing lead to another. His ma got home about five in the morning, he was asleep but I wake up easy, I got up and made it look like I’d been sleeping on the floor. She came in and his fever had broken, she was so happy.”

 

Bucky grinned to himself, remembering. “When he woke up and I told him his fever was gone, he just laughed and said I must’ve fucked it out of him.”

 

“Breathe in, deep, for seven seconds. Wait, and then, breathe out, deep, for seven seconds. You continue down the hallway, and on your left is another picture. It’s of the day Steve came to live with you. What happened?”

 

“It was the same day as his ma’s funeral. He tried to say he was just gonna keep living in her place when I told him he could come live with me, ‘cause he hated being a burden, he wanted to take care of himself. But I told him he didn’t have to all the time. I could help out, I was with him ‘til the end of the line.”

 

“And what happened next?”

 

“He packed up his ma’s apartment, came to live with me. There were two bedrooms, and we put Stevie’s stuff in the second room, but he slept in my room unless there was people over. No point in pretending when it was just us, you know?”

 

“Breathe in, deep, and breathe out. At the end of the hallway is a door. You open it, and behind it is your bedroom. What does it look like?”

 

“It’s small. The bed’s an old queen I picked up at a yard sale, frame, box spring, mattress, all for thirty dollars. I was proud of that thing. Then we found out it creaked, we ended up doin’ most of our business in the shower. The water muffled the noise, anyway. The dresser’s mine from growing up, it’s got my initials carved into the bottom drawer, ‘cause when I was seven, my dad gave me a pocket knife, and the first thing I did was carve up my dresser. The wallpaper’s peeling a little, it’s this old lady pattern with cabbage roses. Steve used to copy them to practice, I always thought they were ugly. The floor’s worn and one of the board’s under the bed’s loose, so we hid vaseline and money sometimes, when I won over at the boxing ring at Goldie’s, under there. There’s a rug, though, that used to be in Steve’s room at his ma’s place, that we got covering the floor and the loose board.”

 

“Is there any other furniture?”

 

“No. Just the bed and the dresser. I had a desk at one point, but I sold it to fix the radiator.”

 

“You turn around, and exit the bedroom. You’re in your apartment. What’s in front of you?”

 

“It’s the living room. The kitchen’s off to the side, there’s a bathroom between our room and the room we pretended Stevie lived in. It’s small, but it was our home for a long time.”

 

“What’s in the living room?”

 

“Old couch, a leather recliner that used to be my dad’s. Ma gave it to me when I moved out, ‘cause he died when I was a kid. There’s Sarah’s gramophone and radio, and her rocking chair in the corner, though we never let anybody sit in it. I got this ugly ass rug at that yard sale, I used to have it in the bedroom but when Steve moved in we put it in the living room. There’s a little coffee table, too, I keep the papers on it.”

 

“Is there anything else?”

 

“No. There’s a baseball bat propped up by the door to the bedroom, ‘cause once somebody broke into Mrs. Gooseberry’s next door. Her name wasn’t actually Gooseberry, we called her that ‘cause she was sour all the time. But somebody broke in once, we heard her yelling, and Steve tried to run off to go help her before I was even out of bed, in his boxers and nothing else, and I had to grab him and stop him ‘cause otherwise, Mrs. Gooseberry would’ve seen the hickeys on his chest. Anyway, I grabbed that bat out of the closet and went over, ‘cause I was wearing a shirt, and hit the son of a bitch right over the head while he was tryin’ to get the old lady to crack her safe. She left us some money when she died, too, so she wasn’t all that bad. Woulda turned us in to the coppers in a second if she found out we were gay, but other than that, not bad.”

 

“Did you spend much time there, you and Steve?”

 

“Yeah,” Bucky answered, then chuckled to himself as he remembered. “The couch wasn’t nearly as creaky as the bed, if you know what I mean.”

 

“You mentioned the shower. Why did you spend more time there?”

 

“Sound got muffled by the water. We had about twenty minutes of hot water at a time, thirty if it was late at night or the middle of the day. We could multitask.”

 

“Breathe in, and breathe out. You are standing in the living room. The radio is on, playing quiet music. You take a seat in the recliner, and lean back. Breathe in, one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven. Hold it, one, two, and three. And breathe out, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. One, two, and three. Continue to breathe. Become slowly aware of the arms of the chair beneath your palms. Your feet touching the ground. Slowly become aware of your knees, of your hips, of your back and neck. You are relaxed. Your breathing is slow and steady. You are aware of your own body. Feel the fabric of the seat under your arms, how your neck curves against the back of the chair. Slowly, come back to wakefulness, and open your eyes.”

 

Bucky was hardly aware as JARVIS guided him out of the relaxed state, but as the AI commanded him to open his eyes, he did, blinking slowly. Romanova was sitting across from him, her elbows on her knees as she leaned forward, watching carefully.

 

“How do you feel?” she asked.

 

Bucky opened his mouth, then stopped, his gaze dropping to the ground.

 

“You were talking. Just to let you know, I heard your answers to JARVIS.”

 

He nodded vaguely, though he didn’t really care. The memories were still in pieces, in fragments like the photographs JARVIS had him picturing, but there was no denying, he remembered things now that he didn’t before, things that Hydra had definitely worked to keep him from remembering.

 

“Was the session successful, Sergeant?” JARVIS asked, his voice normal once again.

 

“Yeah,” Bucky muttered, staring at the ground still. “Yeah. Thanks.”

 

“It was my pleasure. If you ever wish to attempt a second session, I am at your service.”

 

Romanova was studying him. He didn’t look at her, but knew she was watching him closely.

 

“How do you feel?” she repeated. “Fine?”

 

“Fine,” he said.

 

He had remembered the pattern of the wallpaper just as easily as the exact moment he’d first kissed Steve, first  ‘I love you’ s and when Steve had rescued him from the Azzano. He’d remembered that the bed frame creaked so they’d had sex in the shower and on the couch and standing up more often than in it, that Steve’s asthma made him prone to infections in the winter and his mother’s rocking chair never got used after Sarah died.

 

“You want to go talk to Cap?” Romanova asked carefully.

 

Bucky rubbed his face with a hand, dragging it down to cover his mouth as he stared hard at the ground.

 

He remembered all those things. Yet, his feelings towards Steve hadn’t changed any?

 

“Or tell me something?” Romanova asked.

 

He glanced at her, then back at the floor. He leaned back in the chair, trying to understand.

 

“I don’t feel different,” he said finally.

 

Romanova tilted her head to the side, watching him. “Did you expect to?”

 

“I don’t know,” he muttered, “more like I loved him, I guess.”

 

Now, she raised an eyebrow. “Don’t you?” she asked. “Did you really need to remember all those things to know who you love?”

 

He looked at her, and studied her just as she studied him. “What do you know?” he asked cautiously.

 

“I know I trust three people with my back,” she said. “Cap, Clint, and you.”

 

He blinked. “Me?”

 

She shrugged. “You’re the only one who went through anything like the Red Room. Nobody else knows what was like.”

 

Bucky looked away, hesitating again. Romanova stood up, her arms crossing over her chest.

 

“I know, then, that for people like us, nobody gets to see us vulnerable,” she told him. “No one gets to know our weak points, no one gets to know when something gets to us. No one gets to know our secrets or our treasured memories. And if someone does get to know those things, that’s the best you can hope for.”

 

Bucky didn’t answer her, and she left. He ended up picking up his phone again, looking but not really seeing the last text Steve had sent him, thinking over what Romanova had said.

 

He didn’t feel different. He felt the same as before. His emotions were something he didn’t like touching, things he avoided, no matter how big or small. He hadn’t really thought about how he felt about Steve, not really.

 

He clicked on the link again. The vine played over, and over, and then Bucky copied the link and switched to Twitter, penning a new tweet and posting it without thinking. He ended up back at the video he’d taken of Steve the day before, of him making waffles with blueberries, and trying to pin down, for the first time in a very long time, what his emotions had been when he’d done it.

 

Steve had been whistling. Bucky had focused the camera on Steve’s ass without thinking about it, and in hindsight, he recognized that it was a good view of his ass.

 

“These are almost done,”  said the video.

 

“Steve.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“It’s bad luck to whistle indoors.”

 

Steve turned around, smiling a little confusedly, then furrowed his brow. Bucky paused it, looking at the crease between his eyebrows, the way the right corner of his lip lifted higher than the first.

 

He’d felt happy.

 

“Are you filming me?”

 

“How can you tell?”

 

“Bucky!”

 

Steve’s laughter came from the phone, exasperated and amused, and the video stopped, switching back to the beginning and waiting for him to play it.

 

He’d felt happy. His stomach had been flipping in his chest and he’d felt like smiling so much he might have burst. Bucky tried to understand, tried to pinpoint why he was so happy, what Steve did to him that made him feel like that, but it slipped through his fingers, like trying to catch soap, like trying to define the feeling of love.

 

“JARVIS,” he said, in a last ditch attempt to understand what it was, “what’s love feel like?”

 

“I’m sorry to say I wouldn’t know, Sergeant.”

 

Bucky nodded, having half expected that or some textbook definition. He’d felt happy. He couldn’t say anymore. Looking at the frozen image, Bucky wondered, if, perhaps, that was enough.

 

“Perhaps it would be better to ask the Captain himself?”

 

“Probably would,” Bucky muttered.

 

The ceiling chimed, and Bucky looked up to see the top of the doorway lighting up, as if indicating what way he should go.

 

“I’m sure the Captain would be more than happy to explain it to you.”

 

For a moment, Bucky just stared at the door. Then, he tossed the phone onto the coffee table and followed the light out of his apartment. At Steve’s door, he knocked.

 

Almost a minute went by. Bucky nearly left, but then the door opened, revealing Steve. Dressed in a towel.

 

Perhaps Bucky didn’t understand what it meant to feel happy watching Steve make waffles. Perhaps he didn’t really know why he didn’t feel different, remembering things now than before, but he understood what a twinge in his dick meant.

 

“Uh,” he said, unable to look away from Steve’s chest. He was still wet, a droplet of water clinging to his nipple for dear life before falling to the ground.

 

“Sorry,” Steve said, taking a step back, and inviting Bucky in, “I’ll go get dressed.”

 

“Don’t worry about it,” Bucky mumbled, stepping inside.

 

Steve started towards his bedroom, but Bucky wasn’t much for patience.

 

“JARVIS is capable of hypnotizing people,” he started.

 

Steve paused, looking back to him with a raised eyebrow.

 

“And hypnosis is good for treating amnesia,” Bucky added, his voice trailing off.

 

There was silence for a while. Bucky glanced up at Steve, finding him staring at him with a furrowed brow and an open mouth.

 

“He had me imagine this room, and all this picture frames,” Bucky continued, having no idea what else to say. “And he would say just these vague things at first, like, the first one was just a picture of me and someone else before I shipped out, but I saw a picture of you and me, at the Stark Expo.”

 

He hadn’t even remembered it was the Stark Expo until then.

 

“Then, he started to get more specific of what the picture was about, kinda like leading me to my memories. Like…” Bucky swallowed, looking back at his feet. “Like the first time I kissed someone. First time having sex.” He cleared his throat again. “First time we had sex.”

 

Steve just stared at him. Bucky, his face hot, rambled on. “And I still don’t remember a lot, most of what JARVIS hypnotized outta me was just bits and pieces, but I remember what our apartment looked like. Like, the ugly wallpaper. Your ma’s rocking chair. And what you meant about the shower.”

 

Since Steve still wasn’t saying anything, Bucky tried to find more words to fill the silence, and it wasn’t difficult, his thoughts just spewing out now that he’d gotten started.

 

“I don’t understand what I’m supposed to be feeling, but I know that I felt happy then and I feel happy now. Yesterday, making waffles, that was happy. And the day before, when Romanova was showing me what the Internet was and you came in and we watched vines together, that was happy.”

 

He swallowed with some difficulty. “You’re happy, to me,” he said. “Like, when I try to think of good times, I think about you, even just times as dumb as making waffles, not just back before the war. I’m happy when I’m around you, when I’m thinking about you, and I didn’t think I’d get that ever again, but I am. With you.”

 

In the silence, Bucky looked into Steve’s eyes. Steve’s adam’s apple bobbed in his throat, catching Bucky’s eye, and he thought of something else to say.

 

“I can remember that your neck’s sensitive.” Steve shut his mouth with a snap. “That before the war, I had to be careful around it unless it was winter and you could get away with wearing turtlenecks. I remember that you really loved it when I kissed your neck.”

 

Steve swallowed visibly again. Bucky took half a step forward.

 

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to be feeling, Stevie,” he muttered, “but I know that I trust you. I’m happy with you. That it is cold without you. And I guess whatever that means, as long as we're here, we're together, I'll be happy.”

 

“I didn’t think…” Steve whispered. He didn’t finish.

 

Bucky gave a nod, then turned towards the door.

 

“Wait, Buck.”

 

He turned back, and Steve had moved right in front of him. He grabbed him by the shoulders, tugged him in, and planted his lips on Bucky’s, who froze for a instant, then put his hands at Steve’s waist to kiss him back properly.

 

Steve’s lips were warm, a little chapped. His skin was still damp, Bucky feeling the water seep into his own clothes as he realized they were pressed very tightly together.

 

“You gotta put on some clothes, Stevie,” Bucky mumbled against his lips, “or this is gonna be an entirely different trip down memory lane.”

 

“I’m good with that,” Steve whispered.

 

Bucky felt his spine shiver. He wrapped his arms around Steve’s waist more tightly, his tongue pushing into Steve’s mouth, his whole mind going out the window and his chest swelling with that still untraceable emotion that felt enough like happiness that it was probably love.

 

He dropped his hands to Steve’s hips, bent, and lifted Steve up easily; Steve wrapped his legs around his waist as Bucky carried him back towards Steve’s bedroom, towards a bed that wouldn’t creak, in a place and time where no one would even care if it did. He dropped Steve a little roughly onto the bed, still kissing him, but pulled back long enough to tug off his shirt when Steve pushed at the hem. His fingers curled into the front of Bucky’s jeans, pulling him in, undoing the button and dragging down the zipper. Bucky straddled Steve's lap, putting his mouth on his neck and letting his hands explore like he hadn't touched him in seventy years.

 


 

The sun was dipping slowly beyond the city skyline. Bucky and Steve were curled in the blankets, Steve's back pressed to Bucky’s chest, his head tucked under Bucky’s chin, his cheek resting on Bucky’s outstretched arm. Their legs were tangled together, Bucky’s right hand resting on Steve's stomach, the other laced with Steve's left. The way they laid, wrapped in each other, was the same as they had done as kids in the 30’s. Their eyes were open, their lips smiling, they were content.

 

“We don't even gotta worry ‘bout Mrs. Gooseberry,” Bucky said softly.

 

Steve's smile grew. “You know, I don't even remember what her real name was.”

 

“Lydonberry,” Bucky murmured. “Gloria Lydonberry.”

 

“Was it?” Steve murmured.

 

“Yeah. She was alright.”

 

Steve hummed, his smile steady as Bucky kissed the top of his head.

 

“Stevie,” Bucky mumbled into his hair, “you know what I like about this century?”

 

“What?”

 

“We don't gotta worry about anyone. We could get married if we wanted.”

 

Steve chuckled. “You wanna get married?”

 

Bucky looked at him, a slow grin taking over his face. Steve twisted to look up at him, his eyebrows raising.

 

“You asking me to marry you?” Bucky asked cheekily.

 

“I always imagined you'd ask me,” Steve retorted, just as cheeky.

 

“Alright, marry me, then, ya punk.”

 

Steve let out another happy hum, kissed the dip in Bucky’s clavicle, and said “Sure, ya jerk.”

 

Bucky laughed and caught his lips in another kiss before Steve relaxed, putting his back to Bucky’s chest once again.  They stated that way, until Bucky prodded Steve in the hip.

 

“What?” Steve murmured.

 

“We can tell people now, too, admit we're gay and wanna get married. We don't have to pretend ever again.”

 

Bucky sounded so delighted, Steve laughed and reached out for the side table, grasping his phone. He opened Twitter, started the camera and flipped it around to face them. Bucky grinned, the kind of grin that only happens when you finally get to say you love something after a very, very long time.

 

“Bucky and I are getting married,” he said, and posted it.

 

Bucky kissed the back of his neck. “Love you, Stevie.”

 

“Love you, too, Buck.”

 


 

epilogue

 

“Just last week, Captain America and Sergeant J. Bucky Barnes made history when the two posted a short video to the Captain's Twitter announcing their engagement. Either through planning or complete coincidence, the announcement was made June 1st, the start of LGBT Pride Month. The two have made no further comment, though Barnes has continued to post almost daily videos to his Twitter featuring the Captain being, quote, “adorable.” Favorites include just 11 seconds of the Captain snoring, attempting to make pancake art, and crying over the Titanic film. My personal favorite, however, will always be the now famous “He's beauty, he's grace, he's Mister United States.”

 

“JARVIS, pause.”

 

The newscast paused. Tony looked at Pepper.

 

“No,” she laughed, “you are not proposing again just to out-do Steve and Bucky.”

 

“Fuck,” Tony hissed under his breath.

 

Pepper laughed again. But then she subtly took out her phone, started a video, and pointed it towards Tony, pouting at the paused TV.

 

“Hey, babe?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I'm pregnant.”

 

Tony's shocked face sent her into bursts of laughter. Twenty minutes later, #IronBaby was trending on Twitter.