you might still need her on the lane

“Let’s go find Bucky, Sam. How hard could it be, Sam?”

Also known as: The Great Winter Soldier Expedition of 2014-2015 That Marvel Won’t Talk About, So I Decided To Instead.

-A week before they leave, Steve calls Tony and asks him for a small RV, big enough for three people. Tony gets them an enormous red-and-gold monstrosity with a fully stocked kitchen, five bedrooms, two bathrooms, and three plasma TVs. It literally takes up two whole lanes.

-Right then was when Sam started to have doubts.

-Then when they’re packing, Natasha shows up with about fifty million military-grade weapons that she somehow managed to carry over in her purse.

-“He’s still the Winter Soldier, you know. If you want to stay alive when you face him again, you might need a few small things. See, you fit the Kalashnikov in here, and you’ll have room for these grenade launchers…”

-“We don’t need extra weapons, Nat.” “Steve, just assume that I know better than you. Hold these grenades.” “WE DON’T NEED FUCKING GRENADES, NATASHA. WHERE DID YOU EVEN GET THESE.” “STOP BEING A BABY, ROGERS, I HAVEN’T EVEN PULLED THE PIN, THEY’RE TOTALLY HARMLESS.”

-“Steve, maybe we could use a few weapons.” “Bucky’s not going to hurt me!” “Yeah…okay…that sounds completely true and rational…”

-Eventually they compromise, and she settles on six guns, a handful of knives, and a cosh as a bare minimum.

-By then, Sam’s figured out that this was definitely a bad idea.

-The night before they leave, his mom sends over five boxes of cookies “because you need to have enough to eat, even on the road, Sammy." 

-On their first day on the road, Steve keeps teasing him mercilessly about a grown man letting himself get called Sammy. That is, until Sam starts singing “The Star-Spangled Man With A Plan” at the top of his lungs over and over again for an entire hour.

-They don’t get any more mature from there.

-They try doing things "the old-fashioned way” with a map the first three days. But whoever said men were better at reading maps was a liar, because they manage to get lost a grand total of twenty times.

-“I thought you said you read maps all the time during the war?” “Maps were easier to read back then.”

-On the fourth day, they text the Avengers for help, and Clint somehow manages to send them a GPS that Sam immediately names Alicia (after his baby niece; because they both make a lot of noise).

-“Sam, pull over; I have to piss.” “Rogers, there are literally two bathrooms right behind you” is a conversation that happens at least once a day.

-Steve is a giant baby and likes flicking snack-cake wrappers at his friend’s head whenever he’s driving. Sam gets him back later by drinking all of Steve’s favorite blue Gatorade and making him buy refills himself. The extra pee breaks that day were completely worth it.

-Natasha leaves voicemails every day from increasingly unlikely locations, and every time she pretends that she’s definitely not checking on them. 

-“Hey, birdbrain. Hey, dinosaur. Look, I’m in Sri Lanka right now, and I’ve hit a teeny snag with my cover–” *guns fire and people scream in the background* “–but I’m completely fine. If you haven’t given up yet, I hope you’re doing okay finding Barnes. Call me tomorrow and tell me what weird shit you see in Wisconsin, or Wyoming, or wherever the fuck you are.” *explosion and more screaming* “Got to go. Bye, weirdos.”

-Every time Steve makes them stop to ask if anyone’s seen a scary buff guy with a metal arm, Sam swipes his phone just to take about a thousand close-up pictures of cows or corn. After three weeks on the road, the phone’s memory has already been used up twice. 

-They have now forbidden each other from playing any on-the-road games; including but not limited to: “Twenty Questions,” “Truth or Dare,” “People Bucky has probably killed,” “I bet Nat has disguised herself as…” and “I bet Fury is doing…right now.”

-Steve has a playlist on his phone that he likes listening to after they’ve got a lead on Bucky. It’s literally eighty-five percent Taylor Swift, ten percent Adele, and five percent Billie Holiday. 

-“Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” “I will strap you to the roof if you say that again.”

-Despite the abundance of bedrooms, Sam willingly sleeps on the couch and Steve willingly sleeps on the floor right at his feet.

-There may or may not be video footage on YouTube of a couple of “unidentifiable” guys in baseball caps and sunglasses singing Disney songs together in a Cincinnati karaoke bar.

-There have been not one, not two, but five instances of a Hydra squid-monster breaking into the RV just to get their stash of pizza bagels.

-Upon arriving in diners or fast-food places for dinner, Sam always refers to the pair of them as “the amazing Falcon, and his sidekick, Captain America.” Much to Steve’s annoyance, people quickly started asking them to write just that on their various pieces of paper or merchandise.

-Every month, Avengers Tower gets a new postcard from a different part of the country with only “Glad you’re NOT here, Tony” written on it. Tony is Very Offended.

-Sam still doesn’t know why Steve cried when they reached the Grand Canyon.

-More than once, Steve and Sam have slept on the couch together after one of them woke up from a nightmare. 

-Sometimes, they get almost tantalizingly close to finding Bucky…and then hit another dead end. The rest of the time, they’re basically just driving in circles around the country.

-Sometimes, when they’ve got the RV parked for the night and Sam’s asleep, Steve’ll call Natasha. She doesn’t say anything for a long time, she just lets him voice all his fears. And then she tells him about all her guilt, her own fears that no one will really accept her, and that old ghost of Clint’s brainwashing that still haunts her. It helps, to not feel so alone in your experiences.

-By the time the team assembles again to save the world, even though they still haven’t found Bucky yet, Steve knows two things. One, that he’s not as alone in this century as he thought he was. And two, that wants Sam to join them on the Avengers.