but pony cake is better

Thirty-six was not a particularly notable birthday. Sam still had a few years before his scheduled fortieth freakout happened, he was six years into what was proving the best decade of his life, and, as Bucky put it, “You’re friends with two ninety year-olds, no one gives a shit about your decline into middle age.” Then Bucky had given Sam one of his favorite knives as a birthday gift.

Sam wasn’t too proud to admit there were some tears going on after that. He maintained they were mostly Bucky’s. Like. A solid seventy percent of the tears were Bucky’s.

Maybe sixty percent.

Steve took him out to dinner along the Potomac, a little one-on-one time that they almost never got these days with Steve doing his time on the West Coast and Sam running the Avengers (after joining the Avengers, leaving the Avengers, joining the Secret Avengers, surviving the merger of the Secret and the Not Secret Avengers, going off to help found the West Coast Avengers, retiring for like a month there, and then coming back to take over Carol—halfway through his employment history for the past few years, Sam had to start using charts to keep it all straight). The next day, Sam was at the new Avengers mansion, half for a meeting and half for a party. Basically, Sam was at a debriefing with beer when T’Challa called.

“Your boo need something?” Rhodey asked with a grin when Sam came back from the balcony, sliding his phone back in his pocket.

“Yeah, we were planning your intervention,” Sam replied. “We gotta talk about your polo addiction.”

“Not everyone’s man enough to rock a polo.”

“You and every frat boy named Chet keep telling yourselves that.”

T’Challa had called to say happy birthday. He didn’t say much else. T’Challa was quiet, and the words he did say sounded like they were painstakingly crafted just for you. Sam liked the way T’Challa spoke, and yet he loved T’Challa’s silences more. The king of Wakanda had a way of making silence sound like a warm smile.

Shut up, you’re in love.

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