Fandom: Marvel MCU-ish
Summary: Captain America arrives in Wakanda to find Bucky, but he seems to be missing.
Notes: Written for day 9 of my 23 Ficlets project to celebrate my 23rd anniversary in the community
“Missing? What do you mean he’s missing?”
“The white wolf… it’s his nature to patrol his territory,” explained Ayo, one of the Dora Milaje who had been sent to receive him. Steve hadn’t gone far from his jet before they’d intercepted him.
Steve did not consider hers to be an acceptable answer. He’d come all this way to see Bucky, and now he was gone? “I brought him here so he could get help.” What were they doing if not taking care of him?
“We are not babysitters!” Ayo replied sharply. Then she lowered her voice, speaking reasonably again. “Healing the mind takes time and patience. We have that. Now, so does your friend. Do you?”
He wasn’t entirely sure. Standing still was not a position he was well suited for. It hadn’t worked for him during the war and didn’t work for him now in this century, as an Avenger. But he maybe it was exactly what Bucky needed right now.
“If you would like to wait for him to return, I have been told arrangements can be made for you to spend the night.”
The night? How long was Bucky going to be gone?
“Wakanda is not the size of your country,” she said, nodding pointedly at his American flag patch sewn onto the pocket of his jacket. “But neither is it as small as you seem to believe.”
Steve sighed to himself. The image of Bucky wandering through these dense forests, along stony lakesides, across empty plains came to mind. He could understand how therapeutic that might be. But he worried about Bucky being out there on his own, alone with only his thoughts to keep him company. What if the wrong thoughts resurfaced? What if his programming hadn’t been erased entirely?
“I’ll grab some things from my jet and head to the palace,” he told her.
She nodded approvingly. “I am pleased to hear it. We will let them know.” As quickly as they had appeared, she and the others disappeared into the forest in the direction of the palace.
Steve headed back to send a quick message that he would be away for a while and to get his bag, but he stopped short at the edge of the clearing where he’d left the jet. There was Bucky, leaning back against the side of the jet. One of his legs was bent casually at the knee, foot dangling in the air. His arm was bent, too, his hand resting between the jet and the back of his head. It was as if he’d known Steve had been coming all along and right where to meet him. And how.
He looked so much better than the last time Steve had seen him. He looked rugged and as if he’d been worked hard. But there was so much life in his eyes now. His whole demeanor was relaxed, and that amused smile on his face was all Steve needed to see. “I thought I’d missed you,” he said, as he strode over to the jet, smiling back. “I mean, I did miss you. But when I got here and you weren’t here. Or, you were here instead of there…” He trailed off, sounding so completely stupid tripping over his words in his enthusiasm.
“Steve.” Bucky said his name so gently now. It pulled him right back to those days when Bucky had been the one looking out for him on the streets. “Just get over here and kiss me, will ya?”
That certainly hadn’t happened on the streets of Brooklyn in the 1930s, however. There was a lot he missed about that decade, but he would trade it all for this freedom they had now. His arms encircled Bucky’s waist, his head tilted to the side, and he moved in for a kiss.
Their lips had barely brushed when Steve drew back. He pressed the back of his hand to his nose, blinking in confusion.
“What—” Bucky began, but his question was answered before he could ask it.
“Eht’chhhh! Hehtchhh!” Steve sneezed into his fist. He took another couple steps back and sneezed again. “Hehtttchuhh!”
Captain America didn’t get sick. Captain America didn’t have allergies. Captain America didn’t have weaknesses of any kind. And, yet, here he was suddenly sneezing. He’d forgotten how unpleasant the uncontrollable sensation was.
Concerned, Bucky dropped his playful post and started forward to him.
Alarmed, Steve moved back again, trying to keep a suitable distance between them. “hehh-Ehtchhhh! Ehhshoo!”
Bucky stopped in his tracks, looking thoughtful. Then he closed his eyes. “It’s the soap.”
“S’gotta be. I know the sound of those sneezes. You’re allergic to something, and it’s the only thing that’s changed.”
It wasn’t the only thing. Just looking at Bucky’s relaxed body language said that much.
“They use these flowers when making it. The scent is subtle, but I guess if you’re allergic to it…” He gave a shrug and held out his arm. “Let’s see if I’m right.”
Steve shook his head. “But I’m not allergic to anything anymore, not after the serum.” To prove it, he took a sniff at Bucky’s wrist. At once, his eyes began to water and his whole face felt warm and itchy, most especially his nose. “eh-Chih! Hehtshh! Ihhkshh!” Steve pulled back, rubbing the side of his hand at his nose, leaning back against a tree, squeezing his eyes shut. It was the soap.
“Let’s take a walk.”
Steve forced his eyes open, staring in confusion.
“There’s a spot I know, the banks of a lake. Secluded. Private. You can get some cool water on your face, and I can wash this off my skin and out of my hair.” He rubbed his hand at his beard. It was probably in that, too. “Because I’m not letting you leave without a kiss.” He paused, looking down at the ground then back up at Steve. “At the least.”
“S-she-ehh-IHshh! H’ptchhh!” He swiped his sleeve under his nose as he cleared his throat. “Secluded, you say?”