Day 1

Title: Day 1
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Marvel
Pairing: Steve/Bucky or Steve/Bucky/Sam if you want to read it that way
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I wish they were mine. I definitely don’t get paid for this.
Summary: Bucky's HYDRA super soldier serum is wearing off. He gets his first cold in a really long time.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2020-21 project project for cowboyguy

Steve would never admit it out loud, but sometimes he really missed living in Avengers tower. It wasn’t as if he disliked being stuffed into a tiny apartment so that he and Bucky were virtually on top of each other. Frankly, it was kind of nice to be on top of Bucky. Or under him, for that matter. Or tangled up in bed with him, snuggled so close it was hard to know for sure where one of them ended or the other began. Given the way some of the Avengers felt about him right now, giving them their space was definitely for the best. Being able to be himself in the privacy of his home with Bucky was a satisfactory tradeoff there as well. But he missed the movie nights. And the high-tech training facility. And having a live-in mechanic to improve his bike.

He also missed having easy access to pretty much anything he might need. At the tower, he’d never had to worry about the necessities. There had always been enough food to feed even The Hulk, and Steve hadn’t had to set foot in a grocery store. There had always been enough reactor power to keep the lights on without needing to worry about paying for utilities. Steve had never personally needed, but there had always been enough bandages to cover whatever scrape Clint had gotten himself mixed up in. Given that Bucky was still recovering from everything that had happened to him, he wasn’t in any shape to worry about groceries or bills, so that responsibility fell to Steve. And though it wasn’t easy, Steve figured it out and thought he had everything well covered.

But he hadn’t counted on needing a fully-stocked medicine cabinet. After all, he hadn’t been sick even once since taking the Supersoldier Serum. So he didn’t know what to do exactly when Bucky started sneezing.

“You don’t have to do anything.”

One touch of his forehead told a different story, however. “But you’re warm.”

Bucky had enough wherewithal to slap his hand away, but not before Steve felt the warmth.

“Well, so are you!” Bucky retorted, reaching out and laying his palm on Steve’s forehead as well. Steve made a point of not avoiding the touch, leaning into it, in fact. Awkwardly, Bucky kept his hand there, looking at Steve’s kind eyes and calm smile, not sure what to do next. Finally, he pulled it away and shoved it into the pocket of his bathrobe. But out it came only a few moments later so he could cup it to his face. “h’EHHshuhhh! Huh huh-IHHHSchhkkk! Oh… sniff!” Cringing, he wiped his hand down the side of his bathrobe.

Bucky swore then, and Steve bit his tongue to keep from reprimanding him for using that sort of language. Though he remembered how saying that sort of thing used to make Tony laugh, he didn’t think Bucky was in a laughing mood at the moment.

“Dod’t sniff! SNIFF! Don’t look so concerned. I’m fi… fih-fiiii—”

“Here’s the thing,” Steve said, trying to keep the worry out of his voice. He had no idea what to do about this, and he didn’t like feeling out of control. “If you can’t even say the word ‘fine,’ then you’re not fine.”

Fi-HIHSchoo!” As Bucky snuffled and wiped his nose into the sleeve of his bathrobe, he glared at Steve. “Fide,” he finally said, sounding altogether too congested and maybe a little angry as well. “You got be. I’b sick. Habby dow?”

“No… and don’t give me that look. This is not my fault. I didn’t give you a cold.”

“Doe, sniff, bud you did’t stob id either.”

Steve gave him a small smile. “Even Captain America can’t fight off everything, but I’ll help however I can. C’mere, Buck.” He held his arm out and pulled Bucky in for a hug. He still didn’t know what to do for the man, but keeping him warm and close like this was a decent start. Besides, he had an idea of who might be able to help.


“On your le… right, actually.”

As Sam looked to his right, his amusement faded dead away. “Damn.” Cap had said that Bucky had caught a cold, but Bucky looked a hell of a lot worse than Sam had imagined. There were dark circles under his eyes and his cheeks and nose were both bright red. He had a windswept, frozen look to him, compounded by the fact that he was visibly shivering even as he hugged his arm across his body. This man should be at home, wrapped up in every blanket Steve owned, not in the middle of a grocery store. This is where they were, though, and Sam decided to make this as quick as possible so that they could get through this and not be here any longer.

Sam gestured to the shelves in front of him, stocked with dozens of cold remedies that wouldn’t cure him but would help lessen the symptoms of a cold a little bit. “Okay, Bucky, what sympt—”

h’EHHshihh! hehShkkkkk!

Frowning again, Sam watched Bucky wipe his nose on his sleeve. “No tissues?”

Still snuggling and rubbing, Bucky shook his head.

“All right. Hang on a second.” The paper goods aisle was just two over from medicine, so it didn’t take Sam long to pop over and back, especially as he jogged part of the way when no other customers were around. Sam ripped off the top tab but kept hold of it for its barcode. Then he tilted the box in Bucky’s direction. Bucky was usually coordinated and graceful in his movements, but given the state of him today, Sam guessed the man wouldn’t have much luck both holding a box of tissues and blowing his nose with said tissues one-handed. At best, the box would get crushed under his arm. At worst, he’d embarrass himself and wind up with a nose just as stuffy and runny as the one he’d started out with. So Sam was happy to hold the box to help out.

“I should have thought of that,” said Steve, sounding just as clueless as he had during the phone call.

“It’s no big deal.” He said it to reassure Cap, but tissues really were a big deal, given how much Bucky seemed to need them. Sam reached out and took hold of the empty sleeve hanging at Bucky’s side. He gave it a little tug to urge Bucky to come closer. “You’re going to have to tell me what symptoms you have so that I can find the right medicine for you to take.”

“Cad’t I jusd tage theb all?”

Asked the man with clearly no idea of modern medicine. “If you want to wind up in the hospital getting your stomach pumped, you sure can.”

Steve looked alarmed at this, like Sam would actually allow that to happen. “Relax,” he told them both. “I’ve got your backs. Just tell me what’s wrong so I can figure out what you need.”

“Sn-neh-snehh-HEHShuhhh!” Bucky pulled another tissue from the box Steve held just in time.

“Sneezing, Got that one.” Movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. It was a lady with a shopping cart about to come down their aisle. She took one look at the three of them and moved along. She would probably circle back, though, as if Sam needed more incentive to hurry this along. “And congestion. How about sinus pressure?”

Bucky stared at him.

Sam pinched the bridge of his own nose, right between his eyes. “Do you feel some pain or throbbing right here? Or any in your ears?”

Bucky shrugged and suddenly found the zig-zag pattern on the tissue box intensely interesting.

“I’ll take that as a yes. Fever?”

Adamantly, Bucky shook his head from side to side.

“I’ll take that as a no. How about a headache?”

Bucky didn’t reply to this either, at least not until Steve slid an arm around his waist from behind. He whispered something into Bucky’s ear that Sam didn’t catch. Bucky gave a small smile. “Had a headache whed I woge ub, but id’s gode dow,” Bucky responded.

Sam plucked a likely box of medicine off the shelf and scanned it. “How’s your coughing? Dry and hacking or wet and productive?”

This time, Bucky tensed. “The serub…”

“Wet,” Steve answered for him. “He was coughing into my back during the whole ride over here on the bike.”

Sam turned. “First of all, it looks like we have a winner.” He wiggled the box of cold medicine. “Second, I can’t believe you drove over here on the bike.” Except, given the state of Bucky, he could definitely believe it. No wonder he looked disheveled and rosy-cheeked. He probably wasn’t half as bad as he looked.

heh heh –ERSHhhooo! h'IHPTshhhhhh!” Bucky blew his nose and wiped repeatedly at his nose.

Then again, maybe he was exactly as bad as he looked. Sam tugged on Bucky’s empty sleeve again. “Let’s go pick out some cough drops. Then I’m driving you home in my car.”

“You have a car?” Steve asked, sounding genuinely surprised.

“Of course I have a car. I don’t fly everywhere.”

“Right…” From the tone of his voice, Sam had a feeling Steve thought that’s exactly what he did. Having always had such a public image as Captain America right from the start probably colored the way he thought of superheroes. It was impossible to know where Steve stopped and Captain America began; he couldn’t just put his abilities away when he wasn’t in a fight.

“And it’s a good thing I do. My car has seat warmers and a trunk large enough for all the groceries you’re going to need.”


Some days the world today seemed to move too fast, with jets and bullet trains and electric vehicles. Some days the world seemed too bright and overwhelming, with advertisements and music and media blaring from every direction. Some days the world seemed too full, with people everywhere, packed close where they could be dangerous or vulnerable. Some days the world seemed too cruel, with weapons he could never have dreamed of when he was young. Some days the world seemed like it wasn’t worth the fight any more.

But some days, like today, it surprised you.

Bucky had woken up feeling miserable. That runny nose he’d had the day before had evolved overnight into a bad sore throat and his first head cold in about a hundred years. Back in his day, he would have been given a mustard plaster for this complaint, but he didn’t know the first thing about treating a cold in the world today.

Miserable and on edge, he insisted on sticking by Steve’s side. He hadn’t wanted to be left behind again. So Steve had bundled him up and stuck him on the back of a motorcycle, and Bucky had regretted every second of that choice.

It hadn’t been until Sam gave him tissues that he started thinking maybe he could handle this after all. And then came the ride home in Sam’s warm car, when he’d managed to nod off for a few minutes thanks to the rumbles and motions of the car. And being given pills to swallow then wrapped up in blankets and Steve’s arms had made him doze off again once they’d reached the apartment.

“Soup’s ready!” Sam called, carrying a tray with three bowls on it into the room.

Steve sat him up against a mound of pillows and blankets but kept an arm around him. Bucky held the soup bowl on his lap, hand curled around it. It was so warm.  “heh-IHHSchhhh!” And the sides of the bowl were so high even jerking forward from a sneeze didn’t cause a single drop to slosh out.

All it took was to sniffle once and Steve wiped his nose for him. Bucky found himself sniffling a lot from his cold, but he threw in a few extra here and there just to feel Steve’s touch. Bucky knew firsthand how the serum made you strong, and Bucky wasn’t complaining when he was in Steve’s embrace. So how Steve managed to be so gentle and soft as well, Bucky had no idea, but he couldn’t get enough of it.

He took his hand off the bowl to use the spoon, stirring the chicken noodle soup a few times. This was familiar, comforting. Like Steve was.

“Watch out. It’s hot,” Sam warned. He blew on his spoonful before guiding it into his mouth.

Bucky didn’t mind the heat. He’d been cold all day. He’d been cold for decades. Now that the serum was wearing off, the Winter Soldier was due for some warmth.  He didn’t even flinch as the hot soup burned the roof of his mouth. The soup tasted amazing and was so nice going down. All of this was so nice. Having soup brought to him. Snuggling with Steve. This miracle medicine that made him ache less and cough less and even sneeze less. “hih! H’ERHshoo! HEPTshuhhh!” Though only a little bit less.

Steve wiped Bucky’s nose for him. Sam leaned forward and fanned Bucky’s steaming soup with last week’s Entertainment Weekly. And Bucky closed his eyes, drinking this all in. There was a fierce tickle in his nose and an itch in his throat, and for all Bucky knew, this was going to happen again now that he wasn’t resilient. No one could fight it for him, but he felt lucky to have these two fighting it with him. He went for another spoonful.