Steve came back from a mission, which must have gone pretty well since he'd stopped at Stark Tower long enough to shower and change out of uniform, and he was carrying the uniform in it's reinforced garment bag instead of leaving it with Stark to be repaired. He still looked pretty wiped, though, and he hung the garment bag in the coat closet with a long sigh of relief.
"Hey, man," said Sam, coming in from the kitchen. "How was it?"
"Good," said Steve. "Awful glad to be back. Stark spent the entire time freaking out because there was a baby and apparently he's allergic."
Sam nodded and wisely did not point out that Steve himself regarded even Jodi at the cautious distance of ten feet at all times. "Glad you got back safe."
"How are -- things, here?" said Steve. Sam knew he actually meant 'how was Bucky' but he appreciated Steve trying to pretend he cared about anything else at all.
"Not too bad," said Sam. "Well, you know. You want the good news, the okay news, or the rest of what happened?"
"Oh jeez," said Steve.
"Well, the okay news is that Bucky discovered yoga pants, so there's at least thirty percent less traumatic dick sightings in my future," said Sam. "The good news is that Bucky went to the VA with me and got along pretty good with some of the older vets, and they invited him to Bingo Night at the VFW."
"Bucky loved bingo," said Steve. He toed off his boots and went forward into the living area.
"Bucky loves bingo," corrected Sam. "And the VFW bingo crowd loves him. He came home with one of those marker things with a label that said COME TAKE A RIDE ON MY BINGO STICK, and the little old ladies make him cookies and tell him all about their lonely grandchildren."
"Oh, lord," said Steve.
"That would have been fine," said Sam tiredly, "but apparently one of the lonely grandkids is a research scientist doing fuck only knows what."
"I gotta sit down," said Steve, and felt for a seat. He sat heavily down on the couch and squared his shoulders like he was bracing for a blow. "Okay."
"So some dumbfuck terrorist splinter group thinks, Well, the only family this scientist has is his dear old grandma, we'll kidnap her at bingo night and he'll do whatever we want."
Steve holds up his hand. "Does this story end up with Bucky being arrested?"
"Amazingly," said Sam, "it does not. Did you know that Natasha likes to give Bucky ceramic throwing knives? Because apparently that's a choice she makes. To give him knives that pass through a metal detector. And Bucky then chose to stand up in the middle of the bingo hall -- oh, that's right, he didn't wear his arm that day because apparently he gets more cookies without it-- and say, and I quote, 'hey asshole, buy a card or leave'."
Steve put his face in his hands. "Go on," he said.
"And the guy says, 'I don't take no lip from some one-armed reject', and Bucky looks at him and says 'I don't see you buying no cards'. And the guy said, 'I don't need no fucking card when I blow this shit shack of old people up'."
Steve held up a hand. "Where were you during this?" he said, like he was a little afraid of the answer.
"Crawling my god damn way across a floor that hadn't seen a mop since before the smoking ban, trying not to knock over walkers or oxygen tanks, hoping to fuck I could borrow someone's illegal concealed carry firearm, and imagining what the officer was gonna say about the black guy with the gun in a room full of veterans," said Sam.
"Sorry, Sam," said Steve. "Just -- I'm really sorry."
"No, no, it gets better," said Sam. "So Bucky does his shoulder thing, you know what I mean --" Steve nodded, because when Bucky rolled his shoulders to loosen them out, shit was about to get super fucking real "-- and one of the other guys decides he doesn't like the look on Bucky's face and aims a gun at it, and then the next thing I know Marilyn the Korean war nurse clocks him over the head with Fred from Nam's fucking four-legged cane, the gun goes off, and Bucky nails all four of the dumbasses to the wall or the ground with the god damn ceramic knives."
"Oh my Jesus," said Steve.
"Then Marilyn and Bucky both sat down and Bucky said 'get your ass back up here, Wilson, I didn't pay five dollars for your cards for you to waste my money' and fucking Annette kept calling until the police and shit arrived."
"I miss getting drunk," said Steve.
"Oh, don't worry about that," said Sam. "I'll do your drinking for you. In fact you might as well give me your black card now, because now that you're home guess what I'm doing tonight."
"Yeah," said Steve, a little sadly. "I figured." He fished out his wallet and tossed it to Sam.
Bucky poked his head around the stairwell. "Steve," he said. He still had problems with affect in his speech, but Sam and Steve were used to figuring it out. He looked, for values of Bucky, delighted to see Steve. He came out and padded closer. His hair was tied up loosely in a bun, and he wore dove-colored yoga pants, hanging half off his hips. It was pretty obvious he didn't have anything else on. He curled up on the couch beside Steve and stared at him without blinking.
"Hey, Buck," said Steve, after one wild and disbelieving look at the thinness of Bucky's pants. He looked up at Sam with real pleading in his eyes.
"Why don't you and Steve watch the kitten documentary you saved for him," said Sam cruelly. "Me and Kate and Nat are going out for a while."
You asshole, mouthed Steve, as Bucky reached over him for the remote and then sort of … failed to lean back, curling up against Steve so Steve had to either awkwardly and obviously put his hands on the couch back or let them fall naturally on the curve of Bucky's half-naked hip.
"What was that, Steve?" said Sam.
"I said," said Steve more loudly, as Bucky pulled up a documentary about kittens and fished up a soft velvet throw to drape around them, "I hope you have a good time."
"That's what I thought you said," said Sam, satisfied.