Pairings/Characters: Steve/Bucky, Pepper Potts
Genres: Angst, Drama
Summary: After Thanksgiving dinner, Steve reflects on past holidays shared with Bucky.
Date Of Completion: November 26, 2019
Date Of Posting: December 14, 2019
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Marvel and Disney do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 674
Feedback welcome and appreciated
The entire series can be found here.
Steve strolled in from the kitchen, rolling his shirtsleeves down. There was laughter and the clatter of pots and pans behind him. He smiled affectionately as he saw Bucky stretched out on one of the living room couches.
“I volunteered for K.P.. Not all the pots and pans fit in the dishwasher. Some need good ol’ elbow grease.”
Bucky did not respond and Steve realized that he was sound asleep. His smile widened and he sat on the edge of the couch, gently brushing back strands of hair from his lover’s brow.
“That’s a lovely picture.”
Steve looked up at Pepper, who was smiling broadly as she stood by the other couch. Dressed in a comfortable cable-knit sweater, jeans and sneakers, it was a far cry from her usual designer dresses and stiletto heels. He liked her casual look.
“Thanks. I guess the tryptophan got to him.”
She laughed. “Glad to see his appetite was so good.”
“Well, if Thanksgiving dinner here at Avengers Tower can’t do it, I don’t know what will.”
Pepper perched on the other couch. “He’s come a long way.”
Steve nodded. “I remember finding him last year in that homeless shelter and eating Thanksgiving dinner with him there.” He smiled. “It was as bountiful as a Norman Rockwell painting.”
“I got that reference.”
Steve appreciated the humor. “I feel so lucky.”
“After everything you and Bucky have gone through, you deserve some luck.”
“I certainly hope so.” Steve hovered protectively over Bucky.
“They bring out the protector in us, don’t they?”
Steve said, “They do.”
“For such fearsome operatives, Bucky and Natasha are vulnerable.”
Steve gazed down at Bucky. “They need us.”
“They do.” Pepper looked finally at Bucky. “We ground them.”
Steve laughed. “You, maybe, but with my crazy background? Super-soldier who took a frozen nap for almost seventy years?”
“And what about before the war?”
“Before the war?”
“Yes, before you were Captain America and Bucky was lost.”
“We had each other, especially after my mother died.”
Pepper nodded. “You’ve go that history, and Bucky has been able to remember.”
“Yeah.” Steve ran a hand through his hair. “It was tough when he didn’t remember.”
Pepper smiled sympathetically. “I can only imagine how you felt, someone so important to you unable to remember your shared past.”
“It was rough.” Steve had suffered a lot of pain in his life, and that particular pain had been sharp and piercing. “But he’s got his memories back.”
“Thank goodness.” Pepper glanced at the kitchen. “Natasha had a nightmare childhood.”
Steve had read Natasha’s file and some of the horrors had been listed there, though he suspected not all. His heart ached for the suffering of Natasha and Bucky.
Pepper looked at him with shimmering eyes. “They need us, Steve. They’re strong. They’ve had to be, to survive what they’ve gone through, but they need us to sometimes buffer the world.”
Steve rested a hand on Bucky’s arm. “Being a buffer suits me. When we were kids, Bucky always looked out for me. And when it came to Thanksgiving, especially after Mom died, I was invited to the Barnes’ home for the feast. We’d all scrimped and saved so we could enjoy a proper dinner. We said our thanks and didn’t feel deprived.”
“Even in the midst of the Depression.” Pepper shook her head. “Your generation’s amazing, Steve.”
“We had nothing but each other.”
Pepper blinked misty eyes. “You still have that.”
“We do, but we have lots of friends, too.”
Pepper reached over and touched Steve’s arm. “You certainly do.”
Steve smiled. “Thank you.” Bucky stirred under his hand. “Hey, sleepyhead.”
Bucky rubbed his eyes. “I fell asleep?”
Bucky’s smile was sheepish. “Sorry, man.”
“Nothing to be sorry about. Glad you feel comfortable enough to sleep.”
Bucky flicked his gaze at Pepper. She nodded with a smile.
“Safe,” Bucky said.
“Safe,” said Steve as he squeezed Bucky’s hand. "Like Leo Durocher* sliding into home."
"I got that reference!" Pepper smiled approvingly as joyous laughter drifted out from the kitchen.
*Shortstop for the 1939 Brooklyn Dodgers.
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