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Less Than Ideal

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A hand caressed its way down his back as prosthetic fingers brushed down the valley of his spine and Sam closed his eyes in ecstasy. It had been a while since they’d had the time to take their time like this and enjoy one another. Sam pressed warm, open mouth kisses along Bucky neck and shoulder as he sat astride the other’s lap in the man’s bed. Bucky felt his chest tighten having Sam in his arm like this again. Smelling Sam’s scent, the taste of his mouth and skin had Bucky weak and he’d been dying to drink his fill of the man for a while.

“Been missing you,” Bucky breathed touching all of the naked skin on Sam at the moment.

Sam closed his eyes and tried not to cry at hearing Bucky’s words. While their moments were brief, they were bright spots lately against what felt like relentlessly, dark days for Sam. With all that Sam had going on, being in Bucky’s arms, in his bed, brought back feeling to parts of Sam’s heart he was sure had been damaged.

Sam looked into Bucky’s eyes and moved to place a tender kiss on his lips. To thank him, to give something back in that moment to let the other know he heard him and felt the same.

Bucky laid Sam down on the bed and made love to him slowly. He grasped at Sam’s hips, his thighs as he thrust, taking his time to draw out delicate moans and sighs from deep within Sam’s chest as the other wound his fingers in his hair. He held Sam tight as he once again felt swept up in the feeling of Sam’s body around him, the perfection that was all him.

“Oh my god, Bucky, oh my god yes ,” Sam begged under his breath as he felt the pleasure begin to rob him of breath and sense. Sweat had begun to break on his brow as Sam felt himself falling under, these moments were everything. He could feel again. He was alive, he was whole, he felt wanted and loved in the arms holding him and Sam wanted to live in those seconds forever.

When Bucky thrust roughly, one good time, Sam dragged his nails down his back and set Bucky over the edge gasping into Sam’s skin. Sam tumbled down along with him into blissful release as he hugged Bucky close to his chest and held on.

 

When Bucky roused, he opened his eyes to find it was almost 4:30pm. He glanced over and saw Sam up already getting dressed. He admired the rich brown skin of the man’s back and remembered placing kiss after kissed all over that expanse when he first brought Sam to his bed hours ago.

“So soon?” he asked brushing his fingers against Sam’s lower back before Sam slipped on his shirt.

Sam turned around and laid down on the bed to rest face to face with him. He rested his forehead against Bucky’s and closed his eyes.

“I’d stay here if I could, you know that,” Sam whispered. “I have to pick up Dani from soccer practice.”

Bucky nodded in understanding. He knew Sam couldn’t be late picking Dani up.

“Want me to come along?” Bucky offered. He just wanted a few more hours in Sam’s presence.

Sam opened his eyes and looked into the blue ones staring back caringly into his own.

“It’s okay. I got it,” Sam breathed softly. “It’s your day off. You should rest.”

“Kind of late for that,” Bucky said suggestively in mention of what they just got finished doing.

“Maybe so,” Sam said smiling softly as he sat up. “Get some rest.”

Bucky sat up following Sam and pulled him into a sweet goodbye kiss. “I’ll call you later,” he said softly touching Sam’s cheek. “Okay?”

Sam touched his hand nodded. “Okay,” he breathed before getting up to grab his keys and see himself out of the house.  

On the drive to the park Sam worked on ordering his thoughts and switching gears; from being a lover to getting into parent mode. He started planning dinner and thought about any other things he needed to do before tomorrow.

   


Upon arriving at the park, Sam stepped out of his car into the crisp autumn air and locked the car behind him. He crossed through the grass for the walking path through the local park and headed over to where the kids and the other parents were gathered watching the practice game. With the new school year Dani wanted to sign up for soccer with his friends. Sam wasn’t too sure if he really wanted to play or just spend more time with his friends but Sam was pleasantly surprised when his son applied himself to learning and playing soccer with his teammates twice a week.

Sam stepped up along the sidelines and looked out onto the field for Dani, number 5, in his white and blue uniform kicking the ball. Sam felt a smile come to his lips watching his son gleefully play and wondered when he’d last felt this genuinely happy.

“Fancy seeing you here,” Sam heard from behind him. He didn’t turn around and stared straight ahead. He didn’t have to turn around to know who it was.

“Why are you here?” Sam asked in monotone. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with the bullshit today. Not after he’d had such a wonderful afternoon. “Today is my day.”

“Oh come on now,” Steve said softly. “We could be more civil to each other Sam, we are still married.”

Sam rolled his eyes. “Like that means anything to you Steven,” Sam said not wanting to get into it with Steve again, especially not in public.

“Being married to you is everything to me Sam,” Steve said with sincerity, he just wanted Sam to believe him for once.

Sam looked at Steve. He searched within his eyes for the truth. “Was that before or after you fucked that other guy?” Sam asked bluntly not really caring for an answer.

Before Steve could utter a word in response they heard the coach blow the whistle signaling the end of practice. Sam stuffed his hands in his coat pockets and walked out on the field to greet their son.

“Dad! Dad!” Dani yelled happily as he ran up to Sam with his duffle bag on his shoulder.

Sam knelt down to hug his son. He hadn’t seen the little one in two days and was so happy to have him back in his arms.

“I missed you buddy,” Sam said softly looking into the little boy’s brown eyes.

“I missed you too,” he said softly. Sam could hear the sadness between his words.

“Want spaghetti for dinner tonight?” Sam asked, hoping that would lift his spirits.

“Yeah,” Dani said softly with a smile as he nodded his head.

“Cool. Let’s get going so you can get cleaned up, get your homework done and then we can eat,” Sam said taking his hand.

“Okay,” Dani said.

“How was school?” Sam asked, looking around for where Steve was, hoping the other wouldn’t stop them before leaving. Sam glanced around and saw the other was nowhere to be seen anymore.

“It was okay. A friend of mine was embarrassed at lunch because she snorted milk out of her nose when someone told a joke,” Dani said smiling thinking back on it.

Sam shook his head and felt his heart lighten a bit at hearing that. Childhood was a wondrous time, despite what he was going through with Steve, Sam was happy to know their turmoil had only mildly disrupted their son’s life and the little boy could still find laughter and joy in the world around him.

Chapter Text

–Later that Evening–

“He won’t even talk to me anymore,” Steve complained as he sat at Bucky’s kitchen table as Bucky was making dinner. Steve had come over to hang out for a while since he didn’t have Dani for the evening.

It had been a weird day for Bucky when his two best friends started dating back in college but Bucky was understandably happy for the two of them and had the honor of being the only best man at their wedding ten years ago. But last year things were turned upside down and everything the three of them knew drastically changed in the blink of an eye. Bucky had gone from cheering them on from the sidelines to mediating, comforting and passing messages between the two of them.

“I don’t even know where his new apartment is,” Steve said. “He won’t even tell me where he’s staying.”

Bucky was thankful he had his back to Steve and the other couldn’t see the look of confusion on his face the second Steve uttered those words.

“Why would you need to know Steve? You two are getting divorced,” Bucky stated evenly. Bucky stayed mindful to remember his place and not insert himself too far into the couple’s affairs but Bucky was a ball of mixed feelings about Steve cheating on Sam and how Steve had been acting like the offended party ever since getting caught a year ago. Steve had acted like the entire situation his family was going through had nothing to do directly with his actions a year ago and it was frustrating beyond words for everyone else involved.

“I would like to know where my son is laying his head at night and to know it’s a good neighborhood,” Steve argued, not seeing how Bucky wasn’t on his side.

“The neighborhood is fine. Dani already has friends up the street,” Bucky said softly not liking how Steve was trying to down talk Sam’s choices since moving out.

“How would you know?” Steve asked snidely.

“I helped him move in,” Bucky said simply. Completely omitting the fact, he was there a few weeks before fucking Sam in the man’s new bedroom.

Steve looked bewildered.

Bucky turned around from his task at the kitchen counter and crossed his arms over his chest. “He’s still my friend too Steve. Or am I supposed to not talk to him anymore because you made a fucked up decision?”

Steve groaned. “ Not you too . Oh my fucking goodness that’s all I hear from Sam,” Steve whined.

Bucky stared at his friend completely astonished. Now he understood why Sam was always so stressed and his personal light seemed so diminished as of late, dealing with Steve like this would certainly do it.

“Maybe stop and reflect on why that is Stevie,” Bucky said shaking his head at him disappointed before turning back around to finish cooking.  

 

–That Same Evening–

After Sam helped Dani with his homework, they sat together at the quaint little kitchen table in Sam’s small apartment kitchen for dinner. Sam watched his son closely and saw the nine year old barely eating his pasta.

“Everything okay buddy?” Sam asked hoping Dani was just tired and was starting to come down from the adrenaline he built up at soccer practice.

Dani twirled at his pasta and rested his head on his little hand before he sat up straight and looked at his dad. “Is-is there a chance you and Daddy could stop being mad at each other? That you could come back home and things can go back to how they were before?”

Sam felt his heart ache and felt his throat tighten at having brought their child into their arguing.

Sam forced a smile to his lips. “Do you know how happy Daddy and I were the day we brought you home with us? Do you remember that day?” Sam asked softly.

“Not really, not anymore,” Dani admitted.

Sam didn’t expect him to really remember. Dani was only three at the time.

Sam smiled wider as he thought about how elated and happy they’d been bringing the toddler home to live with them, to complete their family at last.

“You didn’t want to sleep in your room alone,” Sam recalled. “You’d cry for us whenever we left the room, even with the door wide open, you wanted us there. Daddy and I spent a couple nights sleeping on the floor of your room with you until you got uncomfortable with us.”

Sam shoved aside the memories of how bursting with joy he’d been with Steve deciding they wanted to be parents together, going through the adoption process and the day they got the call that they’d been approved to adopt. Sam started to tear up and did his best to hide them quickly with Dani watching him. He leveled his voice and found his words again.

“What Daddy and I are going through is very difficult and it’s going to change things like we explained to you,” Sam said sticking to the agreed explanation they’d both given Dani before Sam had decided to move out six months ago when the divorce had just been getting started.

“So that’s a ‘no’ to you coming back home?” Dani ask softly, answering his own question.

Sam nodded his head. “Just because your Dad and I are not happy with each other doesn’t mean we love you any less. I don’t want you for a second to believe this is your fault,” Sam said stopping himself short of saying what Steve did that broke their marriage. “Do you understand me Daniel? This is on us, not you.”

Dani looked at Sam and nodded his head as he went back to poking at the pasta on his plate.

 

Sam sat on the edge of his bed after getting Dani in bed for the night and gave himself a few minutes to release the pent up anguish, hurt and rage he’d felt throughout the course of the day. He wiped his eyes and tried to wrangle his emotions back under his control when he heard his cell phone ring beside him. He saw it was Bucky calling and picked up not afraid to let the other hear him undone and emotional. Bucky had seen him in worse states before.

“Hey,” Sam said deeply as he tried to clear his throat of the roughness and tears.

“Hey,” Bucky said hearing Sam’s voice carry through the phone. “You crying again?”

“It was a rough day,” Sam said resting his head in his hand as he held his phone with the other. “Dani asked me if there was a chance I would be coming home,” Sam explained.

Bucky felt the weight of such a question hit him in the chest.

“It’s difficult Sam. Nothing about this is easy,” Bucky stated again, because he had nothing else he could say.

“I know, Bucky, I know,” Sam said choking back tears. “But why do I feel like Dani and I are the only ones paying a price in all of this. Dani is a bright and happy kid, but I can tell it’s affecting him too,” Sam explained. “I’d take every bad feeling and all the tears if it would mean saving him from all of this –and I’m trying– I’m trying so hard to keep up the appearance that nothing is wrong,” Sam said as tears fell down his cheeks. “That I don’t feel like curling up and succumbing to the pressure. But it’s getting to me. It really is.”

Bucky ran his fingers through his hair and felt his hands shake. He wanted to comfort Sam, pull him close and console him but he was too far at the moment. He thought about how he only wanted this to end soon and with what was best for Sam and Dani.

Even if that meant I’m not in the picture , Bucky reminded himself.

Chapter Text

Six Months Ago

On a calm Sunday afternoon, Sam busied himself setting the party tables and putting out the paper plates. Bucky tied balloons on the back of the chair where Dani would sit as the birthday boy. It was Dani’s birthday and he was turning nine that day. It filled Sam’s heart with joy to see him grow and wanted the day to fun and full of good memories because Heaven knew the days ahead were shaping up to be difficult. So Dani having something nice to think back on was important to Sam.

Sam and Steve had been minimally speaking to each other since the divorce papers were delivered three weeks ago and Sam had finished moving out last weekend. It was tough explaining to Dani that he wouldn’t be living there anymore, but Sam felt it was best for himself to not have to share the same space with Steve as they went through their divorce.

Bucky glanced over at Sam and wondered where Sam’s thoughts were.

“So how is everything? You know…how are the two of you doing?” Bucky asked. He’d spoken to Steve a few days ago but he hadn’t seen Sam since he helped him move last weekend.  

“We haven’t really been speaking beyond coordinating days for Dani.” Sam shrugged. “I’ve been talking to my therapist, putting things in perspective and really weighing all of the options,” Sam explained placing napkins on each little plate.

“And?” Bucky asked taking the wrapped gifts and placing them on the small gift table provided to them by the restaurant.

“I think…with a lot of work and effort, Steve and I can work it out,” Sam said hopeful as he wondered what Bucky thought of the notion. “It’s a hurdle but if we reach out and take each other’s hand we can clear it together, don’t you think so?”

“Of course I think you two could work it out,” Bucky encouraged. “I’m rooting for the two of you ending up together.”

Sam smiled softly at hearing that and appreciated the support from his friend.

They finished up preparing the party space as other kids started arriving. Sam checked the time and called Steve up to figure out where he was with Dani. They should have been there an hour ago while he and Bucky were setting up.

“Where are you Steve?” Sam said in an even tone.

“I’m on the way,” Steve said simply before hanging up.

Sam turned his phone screen off and took a deep breath to calm his nerves.

Bucky saw the buzzer on table light up and begin to vibrate signaling their pizza order was ready.

“Going to get the pizza!” Bucky said as he got up to grab the buzzer and headed to the front of the restaurant.

“Thank you Buck,” Sam said watching the other walk away.

Sam busied himself with finishing the decorations and curling balloon strings when Bucky arrived back to the table in a hurry with the pizza. He put the pizza down on the table and approached Sam.

“Sam, Steve’s here with Dani,” Bucky said quickly, but a bit frazzled.

“Excellent!” Sam said standing to his feet to go greet his son.

Sam, wait a second . Listen- ,” Bucky said as he reached to grab Sam’s arm to hold him back and witnessed Sam’s body posture completely change before his eyes. He knew then Sam had spotted them across the restaurant walking over. Bucky turned around and saw Steve walking in smiling holding a wrapped present in his arms as Dani ran ahead of him. That wasn’t the problem however. The issue was the person following close behind Steve as he approached their party area.

The brunette woman with Steve was none other than Peggy. The same woman Steve had dated before he met Sam back in college. Bucky had only met her in passing back then but he had no ill feelings toward her. He couldn’t say the same for Sam though.   

Sam felt something old, something fragile within him snap upon seeing Steve with her but snapped himself out of it as Dani ran up to him and hugged him around the waist.

“Hey Dad!” Dani said happily.

“Hey buddy,” Sam said kneeling down to greet his son in order to hide his displeasure.

“Had fun at the zoo?” Sam asked knowing that was the plan. Steve would take Dani to the zoo in the morning so Sam could handle the party setup.

“Yes it was so much fun. Ms. Peggy came with us too,” Dani said looking at the table decorations. “All of this is for me?”

“Yes! All for you,” Sam said smiling as his son’s words sank in.

So Steve had her around their son without discussing it with him first , Sam thought .

Dani went to play with his balloons and greet his friends.

“Buck,” Sam said pulling the other close.

“Yeah?” Bucky asked watching Sam’s body language, knowing all of this was probably pushing Sam’s buttons at the moment.

“Watch Dani for a bit, I need to speak with Steve,” Sam said evenly.

“Sure thing,” Bucky said worried that Sam and Steve would start arguing in a few minutes.  

Sam approached Steve and pulled him aside. Steve followed Sam a little distance away from Dani’s party area so they wouldn’t be overheard or disturbed.

“Care to explain what you’re doing?” Sam asked crossing his arms over his chest. “You were supposed to take Dani to the zoo this morning. Just the two of you Steven. You brought her along? You brought her here?”

“I meant to tell you sooner Sam I did,” Steve said shaking his head. This wasn’t how he wanted Sam to find out. But everything had happened so fast and time was flying while they were at the zoo that morning.

“Tell. Me. What. Steve?” Sam said under his breath.

“Peggy and I are…dating,” Steve said looking at Sam. The displeasure on his face was all too evident.

Sam felt the words strike him deep in the heart but he bit his tongue at questioning Steve any further.

Sam left Steve where he stood, giving no response or indication he even heard what Steve had said and returned to the party table. Bucky glanced at Sam as he returned and knew shit isn’t right. Sam picked up the pizza to begin passing out slices to each child seated at the birthday table with Dani.

“I could lend a hand,” Peggy offered.

Sam moved around her as if she wasn’t even there. He walked over to his son and his friends and reminded himself, today was Dani’s day .

Bucky stepped up beside Peggy having seen the interaction between her and Sam. In the grand scheme of things Peggy wasn’t to blame, Steve had brought her into this tense clusterfuck of a situation without a heads up but at the same time, Bucky knew she was well aware Sam and Steve were still technically married.

“So…this thing with Steve….is it new?” Bucky asked her casually.

Steve chose then to walk back over and up to them. She looked over at Steve and smiled. “Yeah it’s pretty new,” she said.

Bucky only nodded as he scowled at Steve behind her back.

The rest of the party was tense and stressful but the children had a blast playing arcade games, singing happy birthday and eating cake.  

When things wrapped up and they’d cleaned up the table, Steve prepared to take Dani home since he had school Monday morning. Sam called Dani over and kissed his little boy goodbye.

“Be good in school tomorrow okay?” Sam said softly. “I’ll see you after school.”

“Okay,” Dani said not wanting to go home without his Dad. Dani let a tear fall.

“Don’t cry baby,” Sam said wiping his eyes. “Don’t cry. I’ll see you tomorrow. Just a few hours okay?”

“Okay,” Dani whispered softly.

Sam blinked to clear his own eyes of tears and walked Dani over to Steve. Bucky then swooped down and picked Dani up to twirl him. Dani smiled wide and chuckled.

“You’re getting big little dude,” Bucky said smiling at his godson before he set him down on his feet again. “Proud of you. Thanks for the invite to the party. Your friends are pretty cool.”

Dani giggled. “Yeah, yeah. Thanks for coming Uncle Bucky,” Dani said softly.

“Have a good night little man,” Bucky said warmly.

Dani nodded and went to take Steve’s hand as they left.

Sam stood beside Bucky and watched his son walk away holding Steve’s hand with Peggy on Steve’s other arm. Sam had no other words to describe his feelings but…fuming.

“You okay?” Bucky asked also watching Steve leave with Dani.

“No,” Sam admitted finally moving to grab his things to leave. “I’m not.”

Chapter Text

Six Months Ago // Later that Evening

On the drive back to Sam’s apartment from Dani’s birthday party, Sam ranted furiously about Steve showing up with someone else.

“But Bucky, her?! Of all people? Her!!!” Sam said angrily from the passenger seat of Bucky’s pickup. “The same woman that tried to make a pass at him after we’d been going out for two months. The same bitch that came to our wedding uninvited as someone else’s plus one,” Sam said beyond livid.

Bucky shook his head still bewildered about it as well. Steve was literally going through a divorce because he cheated on his husband but Steve still saw it proper to bring his new girlfriend to his nine year old son’s birthday party.

“I know. I don’t understand what Steve was thinking,” Bucky said a bit disgusted. “Shit makes no sense.”

They arrived back at Sam’s apartment, and carried in Dani’s birthday gifts so he’d be able to enjoy a few of them at Sam’s place.

“Wanna stay for a bit?” Sam asked turning on the TV and a few lamps.

“Yeah, why not?” Bucky accepted as he took off his coat and hung it up to get comfortable.

Sam grabbed a few beers from the fridge and brought one out to Bucky to enjoy on the couch.

“I just don’t get how he would do this,” Sam said under his breath, still shaking his head. Sam chuckled. “I am…so fuckin’ stupid,” he said before he took a swig of his beer.

Bucky looked over at Sam. “What?”

“I really was willing to take him back,” Sam said finishing the last of his beer. “Like an idiot.”

Bucky felt his heart hurt at hearing the realization and disappointment in Sam’s voice. Seeing both of his friends go through this was difficult but what Sam and Steve were going through had truly brought out sides in each other them Bucky had never seen before. While there were traits he knew about, their whole situation had really pushed each of them into difficult often unfamiliar spaces.

They sat and watched a movie as they scrolled on their phones and swapped pictures of Dani smiling at his party.

The closer the clock read to midnight, Sam glanced over at Bucky and entertained a thought that had come to him once before, only once before. He looked at his friend seated beside him and wondered what being in the other’s arms may feel like; wondered if he could silence the pain in his chest just this once by reaching out. Sam sat up and brushed his hand tentatively down Bucky’s thigh.

Bucky jumped at the sudden touch and dropped his phone. He looked over at Sam and wondered why the other had touched him.

“You okay Sam?” Bucky asked softly.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine,” Sam said scooting closer as he moved his hand down between Bucky’s thighs as his eyes grew a bit heavier.  

Bucky held Sam’s wrist to stop the hand’s movement. “Sam get a grip, we’re not doing that,” Bucky said simply.

“So you’ve thought about it?” Sam asked softly moving his face closer to Bucky’s.

Bucky got up to stand on his feet and put some distance between them. Sam only got up and walked up to Bucky calmly.

Sam brushed his thumb against Bucky’s bottom lip and Bucky fought every feeling in his body that wanted it to happen between them. Bucky opened his eyes, not sure when they had closed and looked at Sam in the low light of the living room.

“You don’t actually want me Sam,” Bucky tried to reason with his friend.

Sam raised an eyebrow. “I don’t?” Sam asked looking at Bucky’s lips wanting a kiss. He moved in closer.

“You’re upset. Acting out, angry at Steve,” Bucky said stepping back.

Sam rested his hand on Bucky’s chest and got closer to him. “Why can’t I do what I want as well? Why should I continue to fight for something that’s no longer worth saving?” Sam asked aloud before he leaned in and kissed Bucky. In an instant, a sizzling feeling surged through Sam’s limbs when his lips touched Bucky’s.

Bucky moved away, feeling guilt rake his insides at enjoying that brief press of Sam’s lips on his own.

“Sam we can’t,” Bucky said again, knowing this was wrong and they’d both regret it eventually.

“Just this once Buck,” Sam pleaded softly. “It’ll be just this once. Please.”

Bucky considered Sam’s words but if he were honest, he didn’t need to plead with. He’d wanted to kiss Sam for a while now and the opportunity before him was too good to be true. All the same Bucky brought Sam close and kissed him deeply. Sam felt his knees go weak as Bucky caressed his tongue against his own. Sam reached up to touch Bucky’s hands resting against his cheeks and didn’t want Bucky to let him go.

 

Shirtless in Sam’s bed, lost and losing time as they continued to kiss and touch Bucky didn’t think feelings like this existed. His hands on Sam’s skin, his lips against his throat brought a joy to Bucky’s heart he didn’t know he could feel. Sam moved to undo his pants and the fog began to lift from around Bucky’s mind. Worry pooled again in Bucky’s veins at thoughts of what this could do to them.

Bucky wasn’t fully sure but he was more than certain he had serious feelings for Sam. But he couldn’t allow a chance at a one night stand with Sam to ruin a fifteen year friendship.

Bucky stopped Sam’s hands on his pants.

“I don't want to do this if that means there’s a chance of losing what we already have Sam,” Bucky said looking into Sam’s eyes.

Sam heard Bucky’s words and pressed a kiss to Bucky’s cheeks so sweetly it softened Bucky’s heart.

"If you don’t want to do this it’s okay Buck," Sam assured him. “I’m sure there’s a riveting movie we can watch instead,” Sam said trying to crack a joke to lighten the mood but Bucky couldn’t go along with it.

"Be serious Sam," Bucky said again.

"I am. Whether or not we do this,” Sam said softly, resting his forehead against Bucky’s. “We’ll be alright. Always ."

Bucky searched Sam eyes before drawing him down to kiss at his lips. Sam continued unzipping his pants and Bucky put the worry out of his mind, if only for a few hours.

  


The next morning Bucky woke up in bed alone. He got dressed and sat on the edge of the bed for a while thinking to himself about what they’d done. Guilt racked his insides; he knew he shouldn’t have gone through with it. He should have tried harder to stop it.

He’d slept his best friend’s husband.

Bucky got up and went to find Sam sitting on the couch relaxing.  

“Sam. Can we uh…talk?” Bucky asked leaning against the back of the couch.

Sam paused the TV and turned around to listen.

“I’m sorry for taking advantage of you. I’m sorry I wasn’t a better friend to you last night. I shouldn’t have–,” Bucky started apologizing before Sam cut him off.

“Don’t be sorry,” Sam said simply resting back against the arm of the couch.

“What?”

“I’m an adult Buck. Despite the drinks and being upset I knew exactly what I was doing last night. What I asked for ,” Sam said looking into Bucky’s eyes. “I have no regrets. I hope you don’t either.”

Bucky stared back into Sam’s with a clear understanding of where they stood on the matter. This was their secret, be it for better or worse, it was what it was.

Chapter Text

–Present Day // Next Week–

Bucky answered the door after he heard the doorbell ring and saw it was Sam standing on his front porch.

“Hey,” Sam said stepping in. He walked up and pressed a soft kiss to Bucky’s lips. Sam let the kiss linger for a second longer and opened his eyes when their lips parted.

“Hey,” Bucky said softly crawling his way out of the feelings Sam stirred within him. He looked at the bag on Sam’s shoulder and smirked. “Rough day at work?”

“You have no idea,” Sam said walking on into the house to drop his overnight bag in the closest chair as Bucky shut the door.

Sam didn’t stay over often but when he did, it was usually to escape the silence of the apartment when his days off from work lined up with the days he wouldn’t have Dani.

“Want to order in?” Sam asked smiling softly. “My treat since I’m freeloading on you.”

“You’re not freeloading and you know it,” Bucky said moving back to his spot on the couch.

Sam sat down beside him and looked at him. “This can’t be easy on you,” Sam said softly in a moment of clarity, acknowledging the unpleasant truth of the situation.

Bucky looked at Sam worried the other knew his secret. That Sam had figured it out and knew about the feelings he’d developed for him. “Sam, I–.”

“Being pinned between Steve and me,” Sam said finishing his thought.

Bucky smirked to himself at the close call almost blurting out his feelings like an idiot. He rested his head against the back of the couch and sighed.

“It sucks, yeah. But as bad as it gets, it’s minimal compared to what you’re going through,” he said looking over at Sam partially confessing his perspective within his statement.

Sam dropped his eyes and rested his hand on top of Bucky’s. “Thank you for being there for me this past year Buck. For Dani as well,” he said moving to hold Bucky’s hand.

Bucky looked at Sam’s hand holding his own and reminded himself that he couldn’t let his feelings lead him to make decisions blindly. He had to remember Sam wasn’t his, in any way, despite every kiss they shared and Bucky wishing for the facts to be different.

“Of course,” Bucky whispered softly.

 

The first night they slept together mindfulness was present in their actions, in every touch and whisper. Despite the overwhelming conflict Bucky felt in touching Sam so intimately he was surprised to find that feeling was all but gone the next time Sam kissed his cheek softly and looked into his eyes. By the light of day Bucky would feel differently, but in those moments when Sam reached for him, Bucky found himself willing to be there to comfort Sam, to wipe his tears and push the painful thoughts away if just for a little while.

Sam worked his hips sitting in Bucky’s lap while in bed. He closed his eyes and let go of the bad feelings and hurt in his life and let the kisses Bucky placed upon his skin soothe him a bit. Sam ran his fingers through Bucky’s hair and brushed his lips against Bucky’s temple.

“Oh my god Sam,” Bucky breathed resting his hands on Sam’s hips as the other rode him slowly, taking his time. Bucky grasped a handful of Sam’s ass and heard the other groaned as he tugged on his hair.

Sam refused to draw a comparison when he shared these infrequent moments with Bucky, he just wouldn’t do it. But there was no missing the fact there was something different in Bucky’s touch, something Sam hadn’t felt in years to his heart’s sadness. In Bucky’s touch, his kiss, in how he held Sam in place but at the same time made it known that just touching Sam meant so much.

When they’re muscles began to ache and neither could take another round, they decided to shower and call it a night. In the dark, they laid side by side not touching, not talking but Sam couldn’t get over the nagging thought now at the forefront of his mind.

“How long Buck?” Sam asked softly in the dark.

“What do you mean?”

Sam moved to lay on his side so he was facing Bucky in the dark. “How long have you had feelings for me?” Sam asked, worried now that what they were doing might mean more to Bucky than it did to Sam.

He’d been found out.

Bucky remained silent for a moment and weighed his options. Telling the truth would get it out there so they could address it but ignoring it may do more harm than good, Bucky figured.

“Do you really want to know?” Bucky whispered brushing his fingers against Sam’s wrist where it lay on the bed between them.  

“Please don’t tell me since before I married Steve,” Sam said, not wanting to know Bucky had gone that long with buried feelings for him.

“Not that long,” Bucky confessed. “Just a little over six months.”

“When we announced the divorce?”

Bucky looked over at Sam through the dark unable to him clearly make out his face but he could see his outline.

He didn’t want to keep the truth from him. “Steve told me in confidence a few weeks before that he didn’t think he could do it anymore and I couldn’t understand how he could feel that way. It was then I realized, my feelings for you were more than just…platonic,” he explained. “I never coveted you while you were married. Well not before you separated from Steve. I would never do that. But throughout this process, I’ve seen so many sides of both of you and…I can’t deny what I feel for you.”

Sam listened. “The first time we had sex, after Dani’s party…,” Sam mentioned wanting clarification.

“I was conflicted because of my feelings for you. I wanted you, yes, but…not in that way if that makes any sense. You pressed but that doesn’t matter –I still went along with it when I should have told you then and there how I felt,” Bucky blurted out.

Sam sat up in the dark and sighed to himself. Everything, he thought sadly. Everything in my life is so complicated .  

The one thing Sam had been sure he was in control of in his life was beginning to come into focus as something completely different.

“Sam?” Bucky said sitting up as well.

Sam came up from his thoughts and sighed. “I’m going to go,” Sam said softly getting up to find his clothes.

“What? Wait? Why?” Bucky said turning over to turn on his bedside lamp as Sam had gotten out of bed and had begun dressing.

“This isn’t fair to you Bucky that’s why,” Sam said simply with his back to him as he dressed.

Bucky got up and slipped on his boxers. “How so?”

Sam slipped on a shirt from his overnight bag. Bucky watched Sam’s back and saw Sam wipe his face quickly before grabbing the bag. Bucky rounded the bed quickly and blocked Sam’s path to the door. Sam kept his eyes low, refusing to look Bucky in the eye. He just wanted to get out of there. Bucky took the bag out of Sam’s hand and tossed it on his bed.

Sam started to complain just when Bucky took Sam’s hands into his own.

“I want you to talk to me Sam,” Bucky pressed gently. “You’re literally shutting down right before my eyes and I don’t want you to think that you can’t talk to me,” Bucky said feeling his worry build within him.

Sam looked into Bucky’s eyes and tried to hold it together. Tears fell from his eyes as he shook his head. He couldn’t form the words.

“Just throw words out, I’ll piece them together,” Bucky offered reassuringly. “Just say something. What’s wrong right now?”

Sam stared back at him.

“Is it the fact that I have feelings for you? Do you think you’re taking advantage of me? Using my feelings to get what you want out of me?” Bucky asked trying to fill in the blanks.

More tears fell at Bucky’s last statement.

“Okay, okay,” Bucky stepping closer so that he was face to face with Sam. He wiped Sam’s tears and whispered, “I don’t want you to feel bad about that, because what you’re asking for, I’m more than willing to give right now…especially to you.”

Sam burst into tears and Bucky hugged him close not understanding what still had Sam so upset.  

Sam shook his head. He couldn’t accept that from Bucky. He just couldn’t.

I’m no better than him ,” Sam sobbed. “ No better than him. He knew I’d stick around. He counted on my feelings keeping me right where I was. I can’t do that to you Bucky. I can’t .”

Bucky bit his bottom lip and felt tears come to his own eyes as he held Sam closer in his arms. To have the one he wanted so close but feel so far away was worse than if he’d never known Sam at all.

The circumstances that brought them together would be the one to ultimately keep them apart, Bucky realized as he began preparing his heart sooner than he expected for the day when he’d have to let Sam go for good.

Chapter Text

–Two Weeks Later –

After Sam stayed over that night, he and Bucky hadn’t seen much of each other. They’d talked and come to an understanding but Sam was no longer comfortable with the dynamic of their affair once Bucky’s feelings were in the open. Despite Bucky telling him it was okay, Sam knew all too well about the compromise Bucky was making. It felt like a small price in the beginning but over time, and it was always in the blink of an eye, the price would become too much and leave you feeling devastated, resentful and questioning why you ever compromised in the first place. So Sam decided to fallback, to not call as much, to sit with the silence of his apartment and actually face his new reality since leaving the home he was currently sitting out in front of.

Sam glanced at the house he picked ten years ago with Steve when they were only engaged and remembered all the conversations they’d had about it being perfect for them. It ate at Sam’s heart that the sight of the house brought back more bad memories than good. He sighed to himself and got out. He’d been waiting for thirty minutes for Steve to send Dani out.

Sam walked the pathway to the porch and purposely ignored the swing he installed out  there so he could sit outside with Dani while teaching his son to read. Sam rang the doorbell and heard a commotion inside.

“Just a minute!” Sam heard from the other side of the door.

The door flung open seconds later to reveal Bucky standing there.

Sam nodded gently at the other and tried to smile but he felt no such thing being made to wait for half an hour in the driveway. He stepped inside as Bucky closed the door.

“Dad!” Dani yelled from the middle of the floor where he sat playing video games.

“Are you ready Dani?” Sam asked softly.

“I’ll go get my stuff,” Dani said getting up to run upstairs.

 Bucky looked at Sam longingly. He’d wanted to call, to check on Sam and see how he was doing but figured the other wanted his space so Bucky had no choice but to respect that.

“Been okay?” Bucky asked softly.

“Yeah, making it. You?” Sam asked.

“Doin’ okay I guess,” Bucky said.

“What happened?” Steve asked walking back into the living room just then.

Sam rolled his eyes and looked at Steve across the room. “Did you forget it’s Tuesday? Did you somehow forget I come to pick up Dani at 4PM every Tuesday or do you just not give a fuck about wasting the time of others?”

“Here we go again,” Steve said throwing his hands up as he walked back into the kitchen.

Sam followed him into the kitchen while Bucky went as well.

“Common courtesy is all I ask Steve. Seriously, is that too much to ask after everything else?” Sam asked wondering what the other man’s problem was. If he didn’t know any better he’d swear the man was doing it on purpose. “I’ve been waiting for thirty minutes for you to send Dani outside to meet me.”

“I’m sick of these schedules!” Steve exclaimed. “There I said it.”

Bucky listened to his friends talking and could tell that they were about to get into it. Bucky backed out of the room and checked the stairs. Dani was just walking down the steps. He left the kitchen as Sam said, “What do you suggest we do since you’re full of so many brilliant ideas Steve?”

Bucky leaned against the stair railing as Dani was coming down.

“Where’s Dad?” Dani asked.

“Talking to your Dad,” Bucky said smiling. “Let’s go wait outside for him.”

“Okay,” Dani said softly.

Bucky followed his godson to the front door and hurried to open the door as he heard Steve raise his voice. He ushered Dani outside and shut the door behind them quickly.

“Wanna sit?” Bucky asked motioning to the top step on the porch steps.

He and Dani took a seat and watched the cars pass on the street for a minute before Dani shrugged off his duffel bag and held his face in his hands.

“I know they’re fighting Uncle Bucky,” Dani said soberly.

Bucky looked over at the nine year old seated beside him and felt bad that his attempt to distract Dani hadn’t worked.

“You know they love you though right?” Bucky said softly. “That none of that is your fault?”

“They keep saying that but they’re always fighting over who picks me up or where I’ll spend the weekend,” Dani said sadly.

“Dani, your dads are dealing with a lot right now. Trust me; you are not to blame for their problems. For all their want to do their best, sometimes parents just can’t. You may not understand right now, but your parents are human and they make mistakes. But you’ve done nothing wrong in all of this. They’re trying to figure things out,” Bucky said staring off into the distance. “Take it from me as someone that’s been where you are, it sucks right now. But in time it’ll get better.”

“Really?” Dani asked looking hopefully up at Bucky.

Bucky thought back on what he and his sisters went through between his parents. Bucky was older than Dani was now, but he remembered working through separating the guilt and understanding what was his responsibility to deal with and what belonged to his parents exclusively. Once he’d figured that out, things evened out for him.

“Yeah,” Bucky said smiling warmly. He pulled the little boy closer and gave him a hug. “I’m here if you ever wanna talk okay?”

“Okay,” Dani said feeling a little better after talking.

“Love you little dude,” Bucky said as the door behind them opened.

Sam stepped out on the porch and shut the door behind him. He took a deep breath and steadied himself.

“Sam, you okay?” Bucky asked standing up again.

“Yeah,” Sam said smiling emptily. Bucky could tell his smile wasn’t genuine. It wasn’t reaching Sam’s eyes. “Sorry for making you wait Dani. Ready to go?”

“Yeah,” Dani said getting on his feet. He grabbed his duffel bag and started for the car.

Sam moved to walk away but Bucky touched his arm to halt him for a moment.

“Sam, are you really okay?” Bucky asked again.

Sam looked into Bucky’s eyes and knew he shouldn’t talk to Bucky anymore about what he was going through. But what Steve had just laid on him would more than likely break him if Sam didn’t tell someone.

“I’ll talk to you later,” Sam simply said before walking away and going to his car where Dani was waiting for him.  

 

–Later that Night–

Bucky left Steve’s place moments after Sam and Dani departed. Sam’s demeanor shook Bucky in a way he couldn’t explain and it bothered him as he waited for Sam to call him. He knew Sam was making dinner, helping Dani with homework and getting him settled for the night. But when 11PM rolled around and Sam wouldn’t answer his calls, Bucky decided to check in on Sam.

He walked quietly up the steps to the second floor where Sam lived and gently knocked on the door. The door opened a moment later.

“What are you doing here?” Sam asked wiping his eyes, shaking his head.

“I called you several times and you didn’t answer. I came to check on you. After this afternoon, I was worried about you Sam,” Bucky said being honest about his intentions. Seeing Sam cry never got any easier no matter how many times Bucky had seen it.

Sam opened the door and welcomed the other in. Bucky went in and took his jacket off.

“So what were you and Steve talking about?” Bucky asked wanting to know.

Sam shook his head and threw up his hands. “Only what I should have expected because what divorce would be complete without a custody battle to match right?”

“What?!” Bucky said in disbelief.

“Steve wants to take me to court for custody of Dani,” Sam said out loud. As the words left his mouth Sam felt his world sway dangerously. “He wants to take Dani from me and I-I, Bucky I don’t know what I’m going to do if I lose him,” Sam stammered as he shook his head, his words lost to his anxiety and stress.

Bucky couldn’t believe Steve would even think of a custody dispute. He hugged Sam close and held his friend. He sat with Sam and had a single drink with him to calm his nerves. Sam tried to wonder about losing Dani a few times but Bucky wouldn’t let him complete the line of thought. He kept steering him away from thinking about that and onto other things, anything but the notion of losing his child.

It was closing in on 1AM when Sam’s eyelids started growing heavy. Bucky helped him into bed and got Sam comfortable. When Bucky leaned over Sam, Sam pulled him close and kissed his lips. Bucky pulled back and stared into Sam’s eyes.

“Stay with me,” Sam whispered in the low lamp light of his bedroom. “...I miss you.”

It was exactly what Bucky’s heart wanted to hear after two weeks. He missed Sam terribly…but they weren’t going to keep making that mistake.

“Dani’s sleeping in the next room and you’re not in the right headspace,” Bucky whispered to him softly. He leaned down and rested his forehead against Sam’s. “Because I love you…we can’t keep doing this.”

He moved back from Sam and looked at his sleeping face. Sam had shut his eyes and had drifted off to sleep.

Bucky caressed his fingertips against Sam’s cheek and felt at peace with what he’d decided. He got up and turned off the remaining lights on in the apartment and locked both latches behind him as he left to go home. 

On the drive home Bucky sat with the fact he no longer knew what his position was anymore in the whole situation.

Chapter Text

–A Week Later –

Sam showed up at Bucky’s place to hang out on their day off. They hadn’t met up for a hang out in a while and after the evening Bucky talked him down from the overwhelming worry about a custody battle over Dani, Sam realized he missed his friend.

Sam knocked on the door and waited for Bucky to answer. When he did Sam smiled warmly and presented their lunch orders, hot and ready to be consumed. Bucky couldn’t even complain because he’d just been wondering what to have for lunch.

“Didn’t come empty-handed,” Sam mentioned.

“That you didn’t,” Bucky said smiling. “Got the sauces?”

“Of course,” Sam said stepping inside to head to the kitchen.

They unpacked their food and dug in. They talked, they ate and regained a bit of the easygoing atmosphere they used to enjoy with one another before things got murky and complicated. While they couldn’t pretend things weren’t forever changed between them, they each felt a little better having their friend back for an afternoon.

They sat on the couch and watched some TV. They caught up on their show together and discussed it before Sam had to leave to pick-up Dani.

“An afternoon really flies doesn’t it?” Sam mentioned gathering his coat at the door.

“It always flies when I’m with you,” Bucky said referencing hanging out with Sam but they both locked eyes when they thought about how they used to spend those afternoons in the past. Curled up with one another in bed, lost in each other without a care for anything else until they had to return to reality.

A long pause arrested them as they stood at the door.

“Should get going,” Bucky reminded Sam gently of where he needed to be.

“Yeah,” Sam said softly heading out.

Bucky stood at the door watching Sam walk to his car. Sam stopped and turned around. As Bucky was about to ask if Sam forgot something, Sam stepped up to him and pressed a soft kiss to his lips.

“Thank you for lunch Buck,” Sam whispered softly before he turned around again and went to his car.

Bucky stood there a bit dazed and wondered what that kiss was for. He smiled to himself as he touched his lips softly. He headed back inside and shut the door behind him.

 

Steve sat in his car seething as he watched the exchange between Sam and Bucky on the front porch. He’d dropped by to give Bucky something only to see his husband leaving their friend’s home in the middle of the afternoon. When he thought nothing of it, Sam doubled back and he saw Sam kiss Bucky on the lips. A hot and angry feeling brewed deep in the pit of Steve’s stomach as he watched Sam get in his car and drive off and Bucky stood at the door for a while before closing it.

Without thinking much about it at all, Steve got out of his car where he parked across the street and walked up to his friends house. He rang the bell and waited.

Bucky heard the doorbell and wondered why in the world Sam would be back. He checked the window and saw it was Steve. He wasn’t expecting him and opened the door to ask what was up.

“What’s up man?” Bucky asked casually.

“I need your help with something,” Steve said turning his back to walk into the yard.

Bucky shut the door behind himself and figured Steve had something out in the car he needed help with. He followed Steve down his front steps and saw the other steps in the small yard in front of his house.

“Where are you going Steve?” Bucky asked.

Steve walked up to him calmly and swung on Bucky out of nowhere. Bucky luckily dodged just in time.

“What the hell is wrong with you?!” Bucky asked knowing to keep Steve at a distance until he could figure out what the problem was.

“So you two think you’re funny? Trying to make me feel horrible! More than I already did about cheating when you two were doing the exact same behind my back!!” Steve yelled loudly.

That caught Bucky off guard so when Steve threw his next punch it connected landing squarely on Bucky’s cheek. Bucky stumbled back holding his face. When Bucky was able to regain his bearings he looked at Steve pissed.

"That's my husband, James. He’s my husband!" Steve yelled.”How could you?!”

They rushed at each other. Bucky was mostly trying to keep Steve at bay rather than actually fight him. Steve was throwing punches trying to get Bucky on the ground.

Steve punched Bucky in the face again, making his lip bleed. Bucky wiped his mouth and saw the blood. He looked to Steve and shook his head. Bucky was sick of Steve’s shit. Sick of the excuses, sick him avoiding blame. Grant it finding out about him and Sam must be a shock, but they wouldn’t be here if Steve hadn’t done what he did.

Steve rushed Bucky again and Bucky chose that moment to fight back. He punched Steve in the stomach and flipped the man onto his back. Steve stared up at the sky, completely winded and robbed of breath. Bucky’s gut punch took half his breath and being slammed to the ground took the rest.

Bucky got back on his feet and shook his head, upset they were even handling this outside for his entire neighborhood to observe. But it was too late to argue about the venue, he could only finish what Steve started.

"You cheated on him!!! YOU CHEATED STEVE! That isn’t his fault. That isn’t anyone else's fault but yours! Sam and I never, NEVER even looked at each other until weeks after you two announced the divorce,” Bucky stated for the record.

Steve sat up slowly and chuckled without humor. He looked at Bucky from where he sat on the ground and shook his head. “It only took you a few weeks to swoop in and fuck him, what a gentleman,” Steve said vehemently as he sarcastically clapped.

“What do you want Steve? You want to fuck around and still have Sam and Dani at home waiting on you. Do you just want to do whatever the fuck you want while Sam isn’t allowed to say anything, feel anything about WHAT YOU DID???!!” Bucky yelled shaking with anger. “I’m tired of saying this, ‘you fuckin’ hurt people with what you did’. You fucked up. He was willing to take you back but you brought Peggy to Dani’s birthday party. How could you say you love someone and show up with the ONE person you know gets under his skin?! How could you do that?!” Bucky said taking several steps back. “Fuck you Steve. There I said it...fuck you.”

Bucky left Steve sitting in his front yard and went back inside. He slammed and locked the door behind himself.

Steve got up on his feet and thought about all that Bucky just told him.

Sam was willing to take him back once? Steve wondered to himself.

Bucky tried to come down from the adrenaline high he was on and went to his kitchen to get an ice pack for his lip. He grabbed his phone as he got some ice on his face and took a deep breath.

He waited for Sam to answer. It wasn’t until the other answered that Bucky realized how horrible the news he was about to share really was.

“Hey what’s up?” Sam asked.

“Sam, uh, Steve just showed up at my place, a few minutes after you left. I’m not sure how but he ugh…saw the kiss you gave me,” Bucky explained tiredly. His face and body started to ache as he started to feel the hits Steve landed on him.

“What?” Sam asked stunned.

“Yeah, he showed and confronted me. Punched me a few times too,” Bucky explained. “Just a shouting match right there in my front yard. So he knows. If you see him…be careful.”

“Thanks for letting me know,” Sam breathed. He wondered what this day would be like, the one where Steve found out what he’d done with Bucky. He couldn’t really imagine it as he saw it happening long after their divorce was finalized but alas that wasn’t how it worked out. Sam thought about it and realized he was beyond over it at that point.

“What are you going to do?” Bucky asked.

“I’m going to handle it,” Sam said softly before he hung up the call and turned his attention back out on his son playing his weekly soccer game.

Chapter Text

 –Next Day–

Sam slept on it and he’d be a liar if he said he wasn’t nervous about facing Steve now that he was aware of his affair with Bucky. But Sam knew the conversation was months overdue at that point. He and Steve had shit they needed to talk about. Things that needed to be aired out and putting it off any longer wasn’t going to work anymore.

Sam dropped Dani off to school and headed to the house, hoping Steve was home so they could talk. Sam pulled into the driveway and sighed to himself. It was time , he thought to himself as he forced himself to get out of the car.

Sam knocked on the door and waited for Steve to answer. His car was in the driveway so he had to be in.

Steve heard the doorbell and went to answer it. He opened the door to see Sam standing there. The emotions that went through Steve at seeing Sam knocking on the door to the house he used to share with him suddenly shook a small part of Steve.

They stared at each other for a long moment before Steve asked, “Would you like to come in?”

Sam said nothing but stepped inside all the same.

Steve closed the door behind him. “What’s this visit about?”

Sam doesn’t move to sit. He looked around the home they used to share and realized that while part of him mourned the happy times under that roof, he didn’t feel connected to it any longer. Sam turned to look Steve in the eye.

“If this is about what happened between Buck and I look–,” Steve started to say before Sam held up his hand to stop him.

“Your mistakes are you own Steve. They have nothing to do with me. I only came over to explain my side of the story and then we never have to speak again for all I care,” Sam said simply.

That disarmed Steve to a degree and he stared, but gave Sam the floor just the same.

“Bucky and I slept together for the first time after Dani’s birthday party. You and I were three weeks into the divorce and I was convinced you and I could work it out and call the divorce off. But you showed up to the party and she’s on your arm like we weren’t throwing a party for our son . It was that day I realized the man I was willing to get back with had no respect for me, the marriage I wanted to save or the fact he’d ripped my heart out of my chest five months earlier when I found those pictures on your phone. Ever since that day I’ve had to wonder about it but eventually acknowledged that…you’d fallen out of love with me. That as much as it hurt I couldn’t do anything about that.”

“Sam…”

Sam raised his hand to stop Steve’s word.

“I’m not finished,” Sam stated quickly. “You’ve hurt me beyond any words I could muster right now and maybe one day I’ll get over all of this; but I don’t see it on the horizon. I don’t know the reason you want to have a custody battle over Dani and honestly I don’t care. I’m done letting what you did hurt me and I damn sure won’t allow Dani to pay in any measure for it. So I’m telling you now, reconsider…for the sake of our son.”

Steve listened and dropped his eyes.

Sam started for the door and saw himself out. He shut the door behind himself and walked back to his car in the early morning air and felt a small weight he’d been carrying in his soul lift just then. He slipped into the car and started on his way home when the tears begin.

Sam wiped his eyes a few times and remained focused on getting back to his apartment.  Sam parked his car in the parking lot of his apartment building and balled his eyes out. He rested his forehead against his steering wheel and let the tears flow. He allowed himself to feel the anguish, the relief of letting go of the one thing that had been slowly killing him all that time.

Sam leaned back and felt a headache begin from crying so hard but in time the tears began to lessen and eventually dry. As he sat quietly in his car, Sam sighed, feeling better that he’d let the emotions wash through him.

The hurt had begun to subside finally and Sam was more than thankful for that.

 

 


–Five Months Later–

“Dani! Dinner,” Sam called from the kitchen.

“Coming!” Dani said getting up from where he was in his room playing to go eat.

Sam placed Dani’s plate on the table for him and returned for his own.

Getting into a rhythm was tough, but after their talk, Steve reconsidered the custody battle. They kept with their current schedule of co-parenting Dani and spending time with him. They’d even gotten to a more amicable place with one another since the divorce had been finalized two months ago. It was the end of a chapter for each of them and hopefully something new would start in the next.

Sam got his plate and took a seat with Dani at the table.

“So what’s new?” Sam asked his son as they ate their pot roast and garlic potatoes. He’d just picked Dani up for the week so he was interested in hearing what Dani had been up to with Steve all last week.

“Nothing much,” Dani said eating his potatoes. “Oh! Uncle Bucky is teaching me about robotics.”

“He is, how exciting,” Sam said softly.

In his honest move to heal and focus on himself, Sam had been taking time to be alone. He hadn’t been going out or keeping up with his any of his friends sadly; Bucky especially. After Sam had taken a hard look at everything, part of him felt remorseful over how things happened with Bucky. Mostly because, if Sam were honest, he could have seen something growing between them once Sam had enough time to move on after his divorce. Sam figured he’d ruined it with their affair and just thinking about it brought back difficult feelings.

“He asks about you ya know,” Dani said softly.

Sam came back to the conversation. “What was that?”

“Uncle Bucky. He asks about you. Just if you’re okay and how you’re doing,” Dani said cutting a piece of his roast.

That caught Sam off guard. “What do you tell him Dani?”

“I tell him you’re okay. You don’t go out much, which you don’t. But you seem better. That’s all,” Dani said softly looking up at his Dad. “Why?”

“Just curious,” Sam said disarmingly.

Chapter Text

–Next Week–

Sam got back from dropping Dani off at school and took off his jacket. Steve would pick him up and Sam would wait another week to see his son again. Sam thought about some work he could get done and went to grab his computer when he heard a knock on his apartment door.

Sam looked through the peep-hole and saw it was Bucky. He opened the door and saw the other standing there with his hands in his pockets.

“Hey man,” Sam said softly.

“Hey,” Bucky said softly. “May I come in?”

“Sure,” Sam said stepping aside.

Bucky stepped inside and thought about the last time he’d been there on that tense evening. Things had gotten better since then but there was still some things Bucky had to get off his chest.

“What’s up?” Sam asked moving to offer Bucky a seat.

Bucky decided to stand and slipped his jacket off. “Just came by to see you. Been a while since we’ve talked and all,” Bucky said softly trailing off.

Sam looked Bucky and understood what he meant. It had been a while.

“Yeah,” Sam said softly stepping over to stand before the other man. “Dani told me you’ve asked about me. Checking on me.”

Bucky scratched the back of his head. “Oh, yeah,” he said. He’d forgotten he’d cracked and asked Dani about Sam a few weeks ago. “So you been okay?”

Sam thought about it and considered his answer. “I can honestly say yeah. I’ve been okay. Haven’t had a bad day in a while and when they do come I take care of them. I write, workout,” Sam explained ending with a shrug.

“That’s good.”

“Yeah,” Sam said looking at Bucky’s face. Their conversation felt awkward and unlike them, but it couldn’t be helped. This was what Bucky had meant about him regretting his decision sooner or later. The affair had changed them, in ways Sam hadn’t even completely realized yet but this was their reality now and Sam would just have to live with it.

“I-ugh…I don’t know how to put this but I’m just gonna say it and hope for the best,” Bucky said standing up straighter. “Now that everything’s said and done, and time has passed since everything has been finalized. Been wondering…”

Sam looked into Bucky’s eyes wondering where he was going with this.

“Yeah?” Sam asked.

“Do you think…maybe I could take you out sometime?” Bucky asked throwing the question out there between them.

Sam looked at Bucky confused not getting how Bucky could still want him after how everything that happened.

Bucky looked at Sam as if reading his expression in real time. “What’s wrong?” Bucky asked.

“You still want to see me? Even after all of that?” Sam asked bewildered.

Bucky chuckled to himself and shook his head. He stepped up to Sam and looked into his eyes.

“Of course I do,” Bucky said taking in the beauty of Sam’s face. He’d missed seeing him, and being in his presence again was a sweet reminder of everything he liked about the man. “So what do you say? How about dinner tonight?”

Sam looked at Bucky and thought about it. “Sure,” he replied softly.

Bucky smiled warmly and figured they’d take all of it very slow. Grant it, their first date would be months after first sleeping together, but Bucky figured it was never too late to right their course.