Day 2

Title: Day 2
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Marvel
Rating: PG
Pairing: Steve/Bucky
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I wish they were mine. I definitely don’t get paid for this.
Summary: Bucky's come down sick, and Steve tends to him.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2019-20 project project for cowboyguy

Steve sat bolt upright, muscles tensed, hands clenched into fists in front of his face for protection. It took a few moments for him to remember where he was: Bucky's bedroom. And it was a few seconds after that when he realized what the sound that had woken him was: Bucky snoring.

Normally, Bucky didn't snore. Normally, Steve woke to the softest of breaths against his neck, which was delightful though a little ticklish. But this morning Bucky's breaths were deep and congested. It seemed pretty obvious that he really was getting sick. “Oh, Bucky.” With a sigh, Steve moved to press his hand to Bucky's forehead, but he pulled it back just in time, not wanting to wake the man prematurely. If he really were sick, he would need all the rest he could get. So Steve just sat still in bed, tucking his knees to his chest and hugging his arms around his legs. Waiting wasn't his strong suit, but he could do it for Bucky. He could do anything for Bucky.

Last night, he had noticed Bucky acting a little sluggish and distracted. He had seen Bucky wince a few times after swallowing when he had thought Steve wasn't paying attention, But Steve had still held out hope that it might just be a sore throat from the weather or something like that. You could hardly go through all the shit that Bucky had gone through without being a little compromised. Poor Bucky didn't deserve it, though. What good was being Captain America if he couldn't keep his buddy safe and healthy?


Jolted from his thoughts, he looked down at Bucky. “Good morning.” He leaned and bent over and kissed Bucky on the forehead. While he was close, he followed the touch of his lips with a brush of his hand over the warm skin. Warmer than it should have been. “Buck, I think you're running a little fever.” He followed through and stroked Bucky's head. “Actually, I think you're coming down with something.”

Blinking up at him, Bucky gave his head a nod. “Yeah, I feel pretty awful. Are you...” He propped himself up on his elbow and looked around the room, as if the answer to his question was somewhere in their bedroom. Hiding under their big bed or lurking in their walk-in closet or sticking out of the top of their dresser. He looked down at the bed as he finished, softly. “Um, are you gonna leave?”

Steve pulled his hand back, concerned. “Do you want me to leave?” Sure, there were always things he could be doing. He could be out there on his bike, keeping the streets safe. Or he could be practicing with his newly improved shield. He could be checking in with Coulson or the other Avengers in case someone could use his help. He could be anywhere else in the world if Bucky didn't want him hovering in the bedroom to watch him be sick.

But Bucky shook his head adamantly and answered in a voice dripping with need, “No. I’m sure you’ve got things to do, but I want you to stay with me.”

Steve's heart filled with joy, but he tried not to look too obviously giddy at the idea. They'd been separated for so many years. They'd been through a war and struggles and far more rough times than easy. But to know that Bucky wanted him to stick close when he wasn't feeling well was all Steve really wanted to hear. “Of course I will. I've got no plans except to stick by your side for as long as you—”

h'Nggshew! Heptttchew!” Bucky's head snapped forward, sneezing freely and suddenly down at the covers. He lifted his head, sniffling terribly, with his nostrils flared and badly in need of some attention. But his arm was currently holding him up, and he only had the one.

“Hang on.” Steve put his hand on Bucky's leg to reassure him then climbed off the bed. The top drawer of their dresser was jammed full of socks and underwear, none of it in order, but he rooted around there until he found what he was looking for. Then he went back to the bed and sat down as close to Bucky as he could get without actually sitting right on him. His hand cupped, he enveloped Bucky's nose and mouth with a large, white handkerchief. He had a few others in his other hand, which he set aside for later.

Bucky tilted his head and then nuzzled and snuffled lightly into the thick cloth. “Uhddy?” Bucky asked.

Lowering the handkerchief, he asked Bucky to please repeat that.

“All day? Will you stay with me all day, if that's what I want?”

After spending decades frozen in ice, Steve was used to feeling cold and removed from the world, so out of touch from the times he lived in now. But this thing he had with Bucky felt so warm and visceral, so real and strong, he couldn't imagine choosing anything over it. “Hey, ain't you my best guy? Don't you know by now I'll always be here for you?” Now that they'd found each other again, he'd darn well never let this man go.

Bucky smiled a soft smile. “Even when I'm a sneezy mess?”

“Even then. I promise.”

“That's good, because... I feel another... heh another sneeze coming on.” Steve held the handkerchief up to his face, once again patiently waiting. “hehh hepttchffff! Hehhnggshhmmm! Heh heh heh!” They both waited this time, Bucky's dark eyebrows drawn together, his nostrils flaring against the handkerchief. But nothing happened. Bucky sighed and rubbed his nose into the hanky. “Thanks, Steve.”

Steve eased Bucky back down on the bed and handed him the handkerchief. “Are you in the mood for a little breakfast in bed?”

Bucky looked conflicted. “Only if I get to help you make it.”

Frowning, “You should stay in bed.”

“I should stay with you.”

Even though it would be warmer and more comfortable in bed, it was impossible to argue about this. Steve pulled on the comforter, draping it over the man's shoulders then swirling it around Bucky's torso.

And that was how they wound up in the kitchen, Bucky snuggled against Steve’s back, arm wrapped around Steve’s waist, the blanket around both their shoulders as if they had been fused into one person. That wasn’t far from the truth, lately. Even without the fever and the bug, Bucky had been clingy. It was like he’d known something was going to happen and was trying to squeeze every second of attention he could get out of the man. Steve didn’t mind, though. There was something in the feeling of being needed that had always driven him—that was why he’d enlisted for the war, that was why he’d joined the Avengers, and that was why he spent most of his personal time at Bucky’s apartment.

Bucky coughed into the back of Steve’s white undershirt, his grip tightening around Steve as each cough shook him. Steve waited until the fit had passed before pouring the hot water for the tea. He heard Bucky grumble and knew the man hated tea. But he also knew that Bucky would take anything Steve gave him. And if the harshness of his coughs was any indication, the man must have a terrible sore throat already. This tea would numb that a little bit while they waited for the medicine Bucky had taken to kick in.

“Back to bed,” Steve said softly, wishing he could pick the man up, cradle him in his arms, and deposit him back amidst the blankets and pillows. But he had a tray of food and drink to carry. So Bucky had to shuffle along at a distance behind him, snuffling and shivering and claiming he was all right when clearly he was some level of miserable.

As they approached the room, Bucky darted ahead, diving for the small stack of handkerchiefs. His aim was true, and there was nothing fatigued in the way he grabbed one and got it to his face just in time to sneeze into it. “ehhpptttchffffff!

“Nice catch,” Steve remarked, his balance and coordination impeccable as he settled next to Bucky on the bed with the tray in his lap. “C’mere, you.” He stretched out one arm and immediately had the man latch onto his side. Instinctively, Steve made a soft, contented sound. After the fall, they’d been separated for much longer than just a few minutes. But even being away for the time it took to walk from kitchen to bedroom had been more than Steve would have liked. He had to admit that Bucky wasn’t the only one feeling extra clingy today. He rubbed his hand up and down Bucky’s side, finally resting on the man’s hip. “Drink your tea while it’s still hot. Then you can have some waffles.”

Bucky nodded, wanting to obey. But his breath caught, and he turned toward Steve, bringing the handkerchief to his nose and burying himself against Steve’s chest and side. “hehptxxxshh! Ehppshffff!

Steve dropped a kiss to the top of Bucky’s head, the dark hair slightly sweat damp from fever. “Bless you.”

“Th-thah th-thanks heh ehhh h’hngggphhh!

“Bless you, again.” As Bucky’s hand was otherwise occupied, Steve was the one to pick up the cup of tea and hold it for Bucky to start drinking. After a wipe of his nose and a sniff, he took a few sips of the hot beverage.

He made a face at the taste. “One of these days, I’ve gotta teach you how to make a hot toddy.”

“Oh, that’s just what I need: you sick and drunk.”

“It won’t get me drunk,” he murmured in-between sips. “It’ll just make me sleepy.” He had his eyes closed as he drank the tea.

“You look sleepy already. How about a nap after breakfast?”

“With you?” Bucky’s tone was hopeful.

“Of course.” First, Steve had absolutely no intention of going anywhere until Bucky was better. But, second, spending a day in bed with Bucky under any circumstances sounded magnificent. He shouldn’t need to keep proving this to the man, but as long as Bucky needed reassurances, Steve aimed to provide them. “Just one more gulp,” Steve said, tipping the cup to Bucky’s red lips with one hand and cutting a bite out of a waffle with the side of his fork with his other hand. “That’s it.” He waited for Bucky to swallow, made sure no sneezes or coughs followed, then offered the piece of waffle up.

Bucky lunged forward, biting it off the fork and smiling at the combination of soft and sweet and still warm. Steve cut a piece for himself. When Bucky had bought him a waffle maker that made waffles in the shape of Captain America’s shield, Steve had to admit to being both amused and a little shocked. Crazy merchandise honoring the Avengers had been everywhere after they’d saved New York from the aliens, but this seemed a little extreme. But he’d be darned if it didn’t make the best waffles ever. They were perfectly golden brown and just the right height to be fluffy while still hold whipped cream or maple syrup or berries—preferably, all three.

Steve ended up finishing them off after Bucky had had a few bites and declared himself full. Steve didn’t push, but he did snuggle Bucky closer to him. The man was asleep against him and snoring again before Steve was done and setting the tray on the nightstand.


Not used to sleeping during the day—or much at night, for that matter—Steve woke groggily. He reached for Bucky, feeling that whatever was wrong with the man could be solved by taking him in his arms and hugging him close. But Bucky wasn’t beside him. Bucky wasn’t even in bed.

Steve sat bolt upright, heart pounding as he looked around the bedroom once again. His gaze fell on Bucky, who was across the room, slipping off his navy sweatpants in favor of his Winter Soldier uniform, the left sleeve modified so there was no hole where his arm wasn’t. Steve rubbed his face. “What’s wrong?”

Bucky dropped his vest and switched on the television. He didn’t even have to change the channel, as the sight that met them was on all of them. For a few moments, they watched the scene unravelling on the television screen in shock and horror as one of the supports for the bottom level of the George Washington Bridge collapsed. The whole bridge shook and several cars slid off the side, into the Hudson River below. They saw a red and gold blur fly across the camera and heard a crash of thunder so close it might have been directly overhead. Help was already on the scene, but they both knew they were needed. Worry rested on Steve’s chest like a heavy weight.

Steve heard Tony through his com chip now, asking for help in that calm way he did when he was in serious trouble. And he heard Bucky cough and snuffle as he resumed getting outfitted. “You’re not going,” Steve told Bucky, getting up to get changed as well. The way he moved, it would only take a second. On the screen, a silver blur flew past, and Steve felt a small surge of relief to know Falcon was on the scene as well.

“I ab,” Bucky replied, adamant but highly congested.

“You’re sick.”

“I’b better. By fever’s gode. You cad check for yourself if you dod’t believe be.” It was supposed to be one of those statements to prove he wasn’t lying. He wouldn’t claim to have a normal temperature if it weren’t true. And, yet, Steve walked right over and pressed the back of his hand to Bucky’s forehead.

He felt warm, but not overly so. If he still had a fever, it was slight. The weight upon Steve’s chest did not lighten. “You’re still sick, though.”

As if in direct response, Bucky’s nose twitched. He turned his head and sneezed over his shoulder. “ehhgggsheew! h'ggshhhhew!” He sniffed hard and cleared his throat. “Yeah, sniff! I’b sick. But this cad’t wait. So I’b still goig to helb.” He pulled the strap on his vest to tighten it and then slid his glock into place at his side. “Add so are you. You said you were stayidg with be all day, rebeber?”  

This wasn’t exactly what Steve had had in mind when he’d said that. But a promise was a promise. He grabbed his shield from under the bed, affixed it to his arm, and marched over to Bucky. He pressed a clean handkerchief into the man’s hand and squeezed his own hands tight around them. “Of course. But don’t you dare take any unnecessary risks out there. And the moment we’re done, I want you back in bed with covers up to your chin. Understand?”

“Yes, Cabtaid. I udderstad. Ehhh!” He whipped the handkerchief up to his face. “ehh-HPTShhhoo!” Then he wiped his nose and tucked the hanky into his belt.

Quickly, and far more roughly than he would have liked, Steve pulled Bucky to him, an arm wrapped around the man’s shoulders. It was only as he kissed Bucky and felt that strong kiss back that the worry he felt lessened. Bucky was going to be all right; Steve was going to make sure of it. Then he ran from the apartment, heading for his motorcycle, and knew Bucky was right on his heels.