“Yeah,” Steve agrees under his breath. He’s embarrassed, Bucky can tell. “I just— I mean, technically, I could just go ahead and kiss the next person who happens to ask and get it over with, but…it’s not what I want. Not really.”
“Too bad,” Bucky says, “and here I was, trying to gather enough courage to offer myself up.”
Bucky freezes. He had meant the comment as a joke, at least mostly, and he had been convinced that Steve would interpret it as such, like he always does. Instead, when Bucky looks up to meet with Steve’s gaze, Steve is staring at him with eyes wide in shock, and Bucky feels his throat run dry.
His voice is thick. “God, Buck. God, I’ve missed you.”
Bucky hangs stiff in his arms, but Steve’s warmth seeps into his body, so cold for so long. He doesn’t know what to do, how to handle this, but there is something – a fragment of who he was – that says that he can never be as safe as he is right here, right now.
He unbends. Muscle by muscle, bone by bone, allows himself to lean into Steve. This man touches him without fear, seems to want nothing more than to care for him.
It can’t be so bad to let him, for a little while.
“This,” Stark spits as he thrusts a dog-eared sheaf of papers onto the coffee table, “is the biggest steaming pile of horse shit I’ve ever seen. Bad science, is what it is – wrong, so wrong, it’s so off the mark it makes Columbus look like he hit the bullseye – who published this? Was it even peer-reviewed because seriously I –”
“Can it, Tony,” Barton sighs from his perch on the back of the sofa across the common room. “You’re just sore because you’re bottom of the pile.”
Barnes suspects Barton already regrets bringing the article to Stark’s obsessive attention. He catches a glimpse of the title on the top-most page: Superhero showdown: Comparison of strengths and weaknesses amongst The Avengers . It wouldn’t pay to look too interested and encourage Stark, but he’s definitely curious and he’s not sorry when Steve stretches across him and snags the paper to read it for himself.
Scott breathed deeply of her lightly floral-scented hair and it occurred to him that he had never known how to get along without Maggie, and now he had the awkward problem of not being able to imagine his life without Jim Paxton either, which was really difficult in situations like this.
A non-powers AU in which Steve gets a blue slip home, where he meets the 10 years younger Bucky. They build a life together, beautifully rooted in the historical reality of being a gay couple in the 1940s.
In the chaotic years after Steve Rogers arrives back in 2023 as an old man, he helps rebuild the world, falls in love with his best friend, adopts a stray cat, and saves the entire timeline. Not necessarily in that order.
This is an epic continuation and exploration following the controversial (to say the least) ending of Endgame. It builds an utterly gripping and three-dimensional world in which Steve has to learn how to live, now that he’s no longer a supersoldier. Simply amazing!
Steve wakes up on the cold stone floor of the foyer. He scrambles up; there’s glass shards everywhere and they crunch under his gloved hands. People are staring, holding themselves back. They must have seen the fight, must have seen two of him.