1 - Buzzfeed
If there’s any indication that the world isn’t ready for Captain America to be black and gay, it’s the way that the media paints Sam and Bucky’s relationship.
10 Times Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes were Friendship Goals
Friendship goals. Sam actually snorts out loud when he reads the Buzzfeed article, which garners an awkward amount of attention from the other Avengers sitting in the kitchen during breakfast and earns him a raised eyebrow from Bucky as he fixes their coffees. Is there a platonic explanation for the way Bucky was looking at him during their last mission? Apparently the author of the article thinks so, because they’ve described Bucky’s blown pupils as pride in his partner rather than being a horny motherfucker for the Captain America suit.
Wordlessly, he passes the phone to Bucky to share the joke, and he almost does a spit take, but manages to swallow at the last second. There’s a blowjob joke in there somewhere, but Sam’s not about to break the news of their relationship to the rest of the team like that.
1. When Bucky looked unbelievably proud of Sam during their mission in Lagos after they rescued 10 child hostages from a burning building.
2. When they held hands during a press conference because Bucky was getting uncomfortable.
3. When Sam looked to Bucky for permission before answering a question about him in their recent interview with GQ.
4. When they hugged after Sam caught Bucky falling off a building.
5. When Bucky checked Sam for injuries after an explosion at the Avengers Compound before letting him help with cleanup efforts.
6. When Sam went with Bucky to the hospital after he got injured on a mission, and held his hand the entire time.
7. When Sam went with Bucky to the Captain America fifth anniversary memorial service and stood by his side during his speech about Steve.
8. When Bucky publicly defended Sam to a Fox News reporter, saying ‘he’s the best man I’ve ever known, and I’m happy to stand by his side’.
9. When Sam went on a Twitter rant about Bucky Barnes’ past as an American war hero and defended his actions as the Winter Soldier.
10. When they were spotted on vacation in Jamaica together last Spring.
And to be fair, a lot of those things could be read as platonic, just two guys who are comfortable with physical intimacy, but seriously? Their honeymoon has been painted by the media as a ‘friendly vacation’ together, just two dudes being bros. And honestly, Sam’s incredibly thankful for the hotel staff who didn’t leak all of their private information to the press, but how is there a platonic way to rub sunscreen on your husband’s incredibly muscular back? Even in the photograph attached to the article, it looks sensual. They may not be overly public with their relationship, but shit, they’re not exactly good at keeping their hands to themselves.
“What’s so funny?” Rhodes asks.
“Nothing,” they say together.
2 - Rhodes
There are things that no man should be woken up by at the asscrack of dawn, and Rhodes damn near banging down Sam’s door is one of them. With a groan, he pries himself out of Bucky’s arms and pads down the stairs to the front entrance, flinging open the door almost violently.
“Barnes is missing.” Well, that’s awkward. Bucky is most certainly not missing, he’s naked upstairs wrapped in the bedsheets.
“Uh,” Sam says eloquently, “is he supposed to be somewhere right now?”
“We received a credible threat on his life and I went to check out his apartment. It’s completely empty. No signs of a struggle, but it doesn’t look like anyone has lived there in a while, Sam.”
“Oh,” Sam says, unsure of whether to laugh or scream. On one hand, Bucky’s receiving death threats again. On the other hand, Bucky hasn’t been living in his Brooklyn apartment since he married Sam, so it’s been sitting empty for months now. That makes the situation a little less stressful, because Sam has credible verification that there is no bullet in his husband’s brain.
Before Sam can say any of this to Rhodes, Bucky saunters down the stairs, rubbing the last bits of sleep out of his eyes, clad in Sam’s pajama bottoms and an old army t-shirt that honestly could belong to either of them.
“Rhodes?” he mumbles, “The fuck do you want this early in the morning?”
“Oh thank god you’re not dead,” Rhodes says blandly, “please buy some groceries or something for your apartment, it looks abandoned. Do you even eat?”
“Uh, is there a reason that I would be dead?”
“We got a threat,” Rhodes says cautiously, “and then you weren’t home. So…”
“Ah.” Bucky doesn’t elaborate on why he’s with Sam, and Rhodes doesn’t ask. Honestly, having their private marriage stay - well, private, has been a blessing. While it might’ve been nice to have a huge party with all the Avengers in attendance, having a small ceremony with Sarah and the boys was more than enough for the both of them.
“It’s good you’re alive,” Rhodes stammers, clearly feeling awkward, “so, I’m just gonna go. You stay here, and we’ll send all the information we have about the threat.”
“Sure,” Bucky says nonchalantly, and Rhodes takes his leave.
3 - Wanda
Wanda is one of the easiest people at the compound to get along with, for both Sam and Bucky. She’s good with him, Sam thinks, because she knows how awful things can be and she never presses Bucky if he’s in one of those moods that makes him all sullen. Instead, she cards her nimble hands through his hair until he settles from whatever horrors he’s seeing when he closes his eyes.
The problem with Wanda being so compassionate towards Bucky is that she constantly tries to set him up on dates. Maybe she just wants someone to have a great love on the team so she can think about that instead of Vision, or maybe she just thinks Bucky needs a person, but it leads to an awkward amount of non-explanations on both their parts.
“I just think you should get out there, James,” she says seriously one day over dinner.
Bucky makes an incredulous face at her. “I don’t really feel the need to, Wanda,” he says slowly, shooting Sam a questioning glance. “I already have a partner.”
“Not that kind of partner,” she says blithely.
“Uh,” Bucky says, well-spoken as ever.
“Come on, Bucky, it would be so good for you! Lots of women out there would love to go on a date with you.” And that’s zero for two on Wanda’s account, because Bucky is painfully gay, despite his reputation as a womanizer back in the day.
She’s giving him puppy dog eyes now, so it’s Sam’s time to step in. “C’mon, Buck, you gonna start stepping out on me?” he jokes.
Wanda doesn’t get the hint. It flies embarrassingly over her head. “Aw, Sam, he could never replace you in the field. It’s like you guys know what the other is going to do before you do it.”
“Huh,” Bucky says sarcastically, “imagine that.”
Her face lights up. “You two would be adorable together,” she deadpans, then misinterprets Bucky’s snort as one of dismissal, so instantly backpedals. “I’m sorry, that would be weird, wouldn't it? Mess up team dynamics or whatever. It would be cute though!”
4 - Thor
Finally, some peace and quiet. It’s just Sam and Bucky on call for Avengers business this weekend, so they have the entire compound to themselves for a blissful three days, and so far nobody has tried to end the world. That’s not to say it won’t happen, though, with it only being Saturday morning and all.
But still, they had one hell of a Friday night trying to wrangle Peter and Harley out of the compound at a decent hour after their team dinner, and now they’re enjoying a lazy Saturday. Sam is sitting on the couch with his legs spread to make room for Bucky sitting on the floor between his knees, leaning his head up against Sam’s thigh while Sam cards nimble hands though Bucky’s hair and Bucky gently massages Sam’s legs. It’s quiet, it’s intimate, and it’s the perfect position to watch House Hunters in.
As the third episode of their binge watch draws to a close, Bucky starts lazily kissing along Sam’s inner thigh.
“We’re working, Buck,” he admonishes.
“We’re watching HGTV in our boxers at seven in the morning on a quiet weekend,” Bucky retorts.
“What the fuck!” Sam groans. “We agreed to never say the q-word while we’re on call!”
“Nothing is going to happen!”
“You jinxed it! Give it like, an hour, and we’re going to have DoomBots in Vegas. Again.”
“Nothing ever happens when we’re on call!” Bucky whines, “now keep playing with my hair. It feels nice.” So Sam does, and Bucky resumes massaging Sam’s calf with skilled fingers. The fourth rerun of House Hunters starts up, and they continue just as they were, without a care in the world.
“Greetings, friends!” Sam and Bucky spring apart so suddenly that they get tangled in each other and fall, both scrambling to roll into crouched positions. Bucky inexplicably has a knife in each hand, from where Sam doesn’t know.
“Hello, Lord Wilson! Lord Barnes!”
“What’s up, is something wrong?”
“Not a thing, my friend! I was just paying a social visit, you see, and have landed my ship just outside the compound! I will be going to see Lady Jane soon, but I supposed I might find some company here before I make the trip.”
“You,” Sam says, spinning to face Bucky, “you said the q-word. This is your fault!” Because how exactly are they supposed to explain being half naked in the common room of the compound? Even if everyone seems to read their relationship as strictly platonic, this is a little harder to excuse.
“Not to worry, friends, it is common in Asgard to enjoy physical intimacy with a shield brother to strengthen the bond of a team!”
“Physical intimacy,” Bucky repeats, blushing furiously.
“Yes, my friend! There is no shame in seeking the comfort of another. It is common to share massages, or even cuddle! For warriors especially this is common, as it benefits their state of mind and increases trust in one’s partner!”
Sam stares, dumbfounded. How. How could this possibly have been read as platonic? He honestly considers the possibility that Thor is fucking with him, or that his life is a cosmic joke, because what the hell?
“Worry not, Lord Wilson!” Thor says happily. “I will not interrupt!”
“I’m going to get dressed,” Bucky says, walking briskly out of the room. Sam is half of the mind to follow Bucky himself, but then he’d have to explain to Thor also why they’re sharing a room, even though they each have their own.
Thor frowns at Bucky’s retreating figure. “Is he ashamed? There is nothing to be embarrassed of, I assure you. A strong partnership between the leader of a team and their second in command is very desirable.”
Strong partnership. Ha.
“Uh, thanks, Thor,” Sam says awkwardly.
“In fact, some of the most respected warrior guilds in Asgard were led by married partners! The bond between them is so strong that the team felt as if they were part of a family.”
“Not that I would presume such a relationship between you and Lord Barnes, of course, yet still you inspire that kind of camaraderie in your followers. You should be very proud.”
Sam hasn’t really got anything to say to that, because his life is definitely some kind of cosmic joke. There is a deity somewhere messing with him, he just knows it.
He’s almost grateful when his phone blares with an Avengers alarm, a sighting of John Walker in South Africa.
“We’ve gotta head out,” Sam says immediately, “Situation. You know how it is.”
“Of course, Lord Wilson! Do you require assistance?” And as much as Sam would personally love to see John Walker get his ass handed to him by the God of Thunder, that’s overkill in about a thousand ways, and he can’t handle another second of the awkwardness that the god is apparently oblivious to.
“No, it’s okay, we’ve got Torres coming with us, don’t worry!” he says.
5 - Joaquin Torres
The Baby Falcon, as Sam and Bucky affectionately call Torres, is kind of adorable when he gets flustered around Sam’s husband. How the kid hasn’t figured out that they’re married yet is honestly beyond Sam, because he spends the most time with them out of anyone. Maybe it’s that crush he’s harbouring for Bucky that’s blinding him to the fact that Bucky always gets dropped off after missions with Sam rather than in Brooklyn, and that they sometimes hold hands in the cargo hold of planes. They’re not exactly discrete in front of him.
“Hey, Cap,” Torres says while they’re waiting for Bucky to finish suiting up for the mission, “do you think Barnes would go on a date with me if I asked?”
“Like, a date date? Candlelit dinner and all that?” Sam asks, because there is no way Torres is asking Sam if his husband would go on a date with him.
“Yeah,” Torres says shyly, “I think… well, I think he might swing that way, y’know? And I just figured that maybe-” he trails off, looking crestfallen. “But he probably wouldn’t go for a guy like me,” he mopes.
“Uh,” Sam says, unsure of how to console the kid without breaking his heart even more or making the plane ride very awkward, “I… I don’t know, you’ll have to ask him.”
When in doubt, make it Bucky’s problem. Torres seems to hype himself up internally, straightening his back and giving himself a little nod. It would be adorable if he weren’t about to proposition Bucky.
“I’ll… I’ll go hang out in the cockpit, let the two of you talk,” Sam says awkwardly, slipping away before Joaquin can protest. Instead of sitting in the pilot’s seat, he leans awkwardly against a wall so that he can hear their conversation.
“Hey, Sergeant Barnes,” Torres says, and Jesus Christ, Sam can almost hear the blush on the kid’s cheeks from here.
“Hey, Lieutenant,” Bucky replies, “where’s Sam?”
“I was… I’m sorry if I’m super out of line here, but I’m really into you and I was just wondering if you might wanttogoonadatewithme?'' The last half of the sentence comes out in one rush of breath, and the awkward silence following is almost enough for Sam to physically cringe.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, I’ve totally misread this, just forget I said anything-”
“I’m not… available,” Bucky says carefully, “so it’s not you, kid, I just… my husband might have some thoughts about that, y’know?”
“Uh, yeah, but it’s… private. Trying to keep it out of the public eye and everything. So just… don’t worry about it, kid. Your gaydar is still working.”
+1 - John Walker
For all that John Walker is a bumbling idiot, he’s apparently more observant than the entirety of the American population and the Avengers roster, and right now Sam hates him for it. The mission with Torres had gone to shit in the worst possible way, ending with an exploding warehouse in Capetown and Bucky’s suspicious disappearance. To be fair, any time they’re trying to track down John Walker, Bucky ends up becoming a target either because he lends credibility to the Captain America title John so desperately craves, or because apparently John fucking Walker has the most accurate gaydar in the universe.
And honestly, doesn’t the guy have the whole US Agent thing going on? Why is he still trying to be Cap? Can he not chill out about that?
Sam and Torres are holed up in a safehouse half an hour away from the aforementioned warehouse, staring at holograms of the other Avengers as they plot their next moves. It’s soon enough that John can’t have gotten far, but Sam and Torres are woefully under equipped to take Walker on without backup, being regular squishy humans and all rather than supersoldiers.
Part of Sam wants to rampage against Walker and see how far pure anger can take him in that fight, but he knows that Bucky will personally whoop his ass if he does something that stupid, and it’s not like Walker will actually rough Bucky up too badly.
Sam’s phone flickers, and a video feed appears on the screen which he projects to the other Avengers immediately.
Bucky is chained to a wall, head lolling about his chest, and John is standing beside him with a gun pointed at his temple.
“So, Cap, I’ve got your husband. What are you going to do about it?”
“Husband?” Rhodes says incredulously. The others echo his confusion, and it distracts Walker for a second.
“Wait, did I read this wrong?” he asks, as if now is the time to be sensitive. “I really thought - either way, I’ve got your partner.”
“Uh,” Sam says, dumbfounded. If he tells Walker that Bucky is his husband it makes him a more valuable target, but it would be satisfying, and Bucky seems to be regaining consciousness while Walker is distracted, so this will all probably end pretty fast. “Yeah, we’re married,” he says carefully, “have been for a while now. Thanks for noticing.”
“Oh, okay, good. Congrats, by the way,” Walker says, snapping himself back to focus. “Anyway. I’ve got your husband here, and I will shoot him in the head if you don’t hand over the shield.”
“Anyone else still confused about the husband thing?” Lang says automatically, “Because like, thanks for the invite to the wedding?”
“Yeah!” Peter says indignantly, “I wanted to be a part of that!”
“We can renew our vows,” Sam says automatically, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration. “My marriage isn’t really the pressing issue here, guys.”
“How long?” Wanda asks wistfully.
“A year in April. Can we focus on the hostage situation?”
“That’s so great!” Lang exclaims, “I’m so happy for you two. You guys are so good in the field together, I’m sure you guys are a great couple.”
“And I very much appreciate your support,” Sam groans, “but my husband is currently chained to a wall. Walker, you know this is a desperate play for attention.”
“I asked your husband out on a date!” Torres squeaks. Sam lays a sympathetic hand on his shoulder. “Oh my god, you let me ask your husband out on a date?”
“That’s why Barnes was at your house!” Rhodes exclaims, snapping his fingers victoriously. “That makes so much more sense now!”
“I didn’t mean to out you guys,” Walker says quickly, “so I’m really sorry for that. But seriously, I will shoot your husband in the face if you don’t hand over the shield. I’m sending an address to your phone, you have two hours.”
Bucky stirs visibly this time, lifting his head just a fraction while Walker isn’t looking. It takes one sharp pull to break the chains, because apparently Walker is incapable of investing in proper restraints, and then Bucky is free, looping an arm around Walker’s neck in a chokehold and squeezing until he passes out.
“So d’you guys just want to come for the cleanup, then?” he quips.
“I love you,” Sam blurts.
“Love you too, honey.”