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oh meet me, my darling, where the sun sets over the barley

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Steve looks at his reflection in the mirror and smooths a hand over his beard. He has cleaned it up a little, trimmed it so it's a little less rough looking and overgrown, but he decided not to bother picking out the gray hairs that have started growing in between the blond. He used to be able to do that a few years ago but the patches have gotten so big, it's not worth the effort.

He takes a step back and turns his body ever so slightly while his eyes move down over himself. His outfit is simple because there's no reason to bother with formal wear when he'll only be around family but he has still made some effort. It's a simple pair of worn denim jeans that are cuffed over his shoes and a shirt that sits nicely on his shoulders.

Steve looks at himself.

Then he shrugs and mutters, “Good enough.”

He leaves his bedroom after pocketing his phone and heads to the front door. Cooper stands from where he's been laying on the floor right outside the open door and comes trotting after him with his ears perked and his tail held high and wagging excitedly.

Steve grabs the keys, then he crouches down in front of Cooper and takes his muzzle in one hand while he pets his head with the other. Cooper leans into him and licks at his face, and Steve smiles at him apologetically.

“Sorry, buddy,” he says. “You gotta stay back.”

Cooper doesn't understand but he sits down and keeps quiet when Steve leaves.

The walk to Bucky's apartment from the subway isn't a long one but Steve manages to cut it short anyway, walking fast and just shy of running. They're not in a rush, they're in good time, but Steve hasn't seen Bucky all week and he's impatient. He misses him, sue him.

When he makes it to the right floor and finds Bucky's door, he only pauses for long enough to do a quick fix of himself before he lifts his fist and knocks on the wood. He can hear movement behind the door, something that sounds a lot like dog paws clacking against the wooden floor, and only seconds later the door opens.

Bucky smiles at him from the other side. His hair is down today and he's shaved since the last time Steve saw him, his jaw smooth now instead of covered in stubble and it makes his pink lips more prominent. It draws Steve in without thought, leaning in to kiss him hello.

Bucky chuckles against his lips and mutters a, “Hi,” before he kisses back.

Steve hums but doesn't stop kissing him, instead he grabs onto him and pulls him closer.

They kiss for a while, slow and unhurried in Bucky's doorway. Steve could honestly do this all day and maybe take it even further but then Bucky puts a hand on his chest and pushes him away, breaking the kiss and putting some distance between them. Not much but enough.

Steve tries to chase after him but Bucky turns his head away with a snort.

“Steve,” he says and gives him a look. “We have somewhere to be, remember?”

Steve sighs and hangs his head, resting it on Bucky's shoulder.

Bucky pats it and says, “I thought you were excited about this.”

“I am,” Steve says and lifts his head. “But I haven't seen you all week.”

“Oh, so now you're clingy?”

“Now that I get to kiss you? Yeah.”

Bucky snorts and shakes his head. “You're an idiot,” he says fondly.

“Takes one to know one.”

“Careful with the insults or you might not get to kiss me again.”

Steve narrows his eyes, lips tightening into a thin line.

Bucky smiles at him. “Come on,” he says. “We can spend time together after.”

“Okay,” Steve says and lets go of him. “It's a date.”

“It's a date,” Bucky echoes.

Steve smiles, then he brings a hand up to cup Bucky's cheek and brushes a thumb over the smooth skin. “You look good, by the way,” he says.

“Thank you,” Bucky says, leaning into his hand. “So do you.”

Steve looks at him for a moment. “You sure we can't be a little late?” he asks then.

“I'm not gonna be responsible for making you late to your friends' engagement party.”

“Not an engagement party.”

“Okay, celebration then.”

“But you could.”

“I won't. Let's go.”

Steve sighs but he doesn't argue.

 


 

Bucky is nervous, Steve can tell.

He hasn't stopped fidgeting the whole way over and now that they're standing in front of the door, he keeps shifting from one foot to the other and taking in deep breaths. Not having Titan there probably isn't helping.

Steve looks at him from the corner of his eye for only a moment before he takes his hand, intertwines their fingers, and gives him a little squeeze.

“You're gonna be fine,” he says, quietly after leaning closer.

“I know that,” Bucky says in a breath. “Meeting your partner's family for the first time is just... a lot. I wanna make a good impression.”

“You know most of them already,” Steve says. “And I've been talking you up, so.”

“Oh, well then I'm obviously gonna do great,” Bucky says flatly.

“Stop it.” Steve elbows his side. “They're gonna love you.”

“If you say so,” Bucky says. He doesn't sound convinced.

Steve squeezes his hand. “I've got you. You ready?”

Bucky takes in a deep breath, then he swallows thickly and nods.

Steve nods back, then he lifts his other hand and knocks on the door.

Natasha is the one who answers the door only seconds after. She opens it and sticks her left hand out right in his face to show off the ring that sits on her finger. It's a simple silver band with no bling or diamond or anything on. It's not what he's ever expected to seeing on her finger but it suits her.

“I'm engaged,” she says in lieu of a greeting.

Steve blinks at the ring, then he stares at her. “What happened to not liking marriage?”

“I have a convincing fiancée,” Natasha says with a shrug.

Steve smiles at her. He lets go of Bucky's hand and steps into her space to embrace her in a hug that she returns with a quiet chuckle. She squeezes him first and he squeezes her back, and then they step apart and smile at each other.

“Congrats, Nat,” he says. “I'm happy for you.”

“Thank you,” Natasha says, then she looks at Bucky. “And hello to you.”

“Hi,” Bucky says and he smiles but even that looks nervous.

Steve reaches out to grab his hand again.

“Well,” Natasha says to them both. “Come on in.”

Everyone is seated in the living room. Peggy, Daniel, Sam, and Riley have made themselves comfortable on the couch while Sharon is sitting on the armchair next to it with Lily planted in her lap. Lily doesn't stay there for long because the moment they come into the living room, she flies up and runs over to launch herself at Steve.

Steve catches her, lifts her up into his arms for a hug. She stays clinging to him even after the hug ends and he lets her but he turns his attention to everyone else and everyone else looks back at him, eyes curious and waiting.

Steve takes in a breath and squeezes Bucky's hand.

“Everyone,” he says and looks at him. “This is Bucky.”