IMAGINE Bucky doing some grand romantic gesture for Steve, that the other Avengers just don't get. Steve does and it chokes him up.
Steve spends the evening of July 4 with family and food and a downright embarrassment of presents. Tony had wheeled out a cake with 90-odd candles on it, the fucker, and Steve had taken one look at it and co-opted the rest of the Avengers to help him blow them out – he’s Captain America, not Superman.
He’s surrounded by what feels like piles of lurid wrapping paper when Bucky slips him a flat, brown-paper, string-bound present. The minute shifting inside the package tells him what it is before he opens it, but he still sighs with pleasure: high-quality pencils in a rainbow of colors, and a sketchpad.
“Are you going to pose for him, Barnes?” Tony’s grinning.
“Hah,” Bucky shoots back. “Let’s just say you’re not invited.” Tony staggers, miming injury.
Steve lifts the cover on luxuriously thick, textured pages. In the bottom right corner of the first sheet is a note in Bucky’s handwriting.
You, me rm1502 0700hrs
He stares at it, and closes the cover wordlessly.
Hours later, when Bucky makes their apologies and tugs Steve away, they’re followed by good-natured whistling. “Happy drawing!” Nat shouts after them.
They leave the sketchpad on the nightstand and crawl into bed together.
“Happy 29th,” Bucky whispers into Steve’s neck, and Steve kisses him, carefully. They’re still feeling their way through this – piecing together Bucky’s memories, untangling the horrors of the war from the horrors of Hydra, and celebrating any resurfacing of Brooklyn or the Howling Commandos, no matter how bittersweet.
They don’t draw that night – euphemistically or otherwise; they sleep, Bucky nestled on Steve’s shoulder.
Bucky slips out of bed at 0630, and Steve feigns unconsciousness. At 0650, he gets up and dresses, gathers the sketchpad and pencils, and goes searching for 1502. He’s not spent much time on this level. It seems to be offices, or storage. It’s dead quiet, but the door to 1502 opens under his tentative knock.
The floor is carpet, not wooden boards. There is a window at the far end, but the room is wider than their apartment had been. The furniture – bed under the window, chair, table – is all metal. But Bucky is in the narrow bed, naked, sheets tangled like he really has slept there, and the light coming through the window, spilling over him…
“Bucky,” Steve whispers.
“Shut up, Stevie, I’m tryin’ to sleep here.” Bucky keeps his eyes closed, and Steve is immeasurably grateful, because for whole seconds he can’t speak, can’t see for the tears that are overwhelming him.
The light is the same. The light is early morning, summer Brooklyn. Saturday, Steve thinks. A hundred lazy Saturday mornings with his sketchpad in his lap, coffee by his elbow, and he has to sit down, hard, in the chair that Bucky has positioned just so.
Bucky cracks an eye open: a quick, nervous check in the silence.
“’S perfect,” Steve manages thickly. His hands are trembling ever so slightly as he opens the box and selects his first pencil. They’ve both changed so much – the pencil feels shockingly delicate in his grip, and there’s the multitude of new lines and angles of Bucky’s prosthesis to learn – but Bucky’s bought a lot of paper. They’ve got all the time in the world to get this right.