Like the Tide

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"I have a question

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"I have a question." You flopped onto the couch next to Bucky, jostling him and forcing him to look up from his book. He raised an eyebrow at you when you bent one knee and placed your foot on the cushion next to him, your toes slowly creeping closer to his thigh.

You had a deadline that day, and Bucky had tuned out your typing and enjoyed the near-silence while you worked. But you had just submitted your final paper, and his peace was clearly over. Leaning back over the arm of the couch, you spoke directly up toward the ceiling. "How long do I have to keep the stitches in? They gross me out."

He fixed his gaze back on the page. "I dunno. Just keep it wrapped, you'll be fine."

You lifted your head to look at him. "You don't know? What, am I supposed to keep them forever? I know you've had stitches, how long did you keep them in?"

"I haven't—"

"Isn't getting beat up part of your job?"

"What?" He exhaled through his nose. "I don't get— never mind." He didn't have the energy for that conversation, that argument, today. "I don't usually need stitches. I heal fast. It's part of the whole centenarian deal."

"Bullshit." Your toes nudged the flesh of his thigh, prodding him. In more ways than one.

"Don't you fucking start that again—"

"I'm serious! You've had those bruises on your knuckles all week."

He glanced down at his right hand, at the purple shadows spreading from each bony ridge. He could see why you thought that, but you must have been watching him pretty damn closely to even notice. He took a deep breath, willing his pulse to slow down. "Been boxing every day," he explained. "Remind me to show you in the morning, they'll be gone." And replaced again by evening, over and over and over.

You paused, examining him, and Bucky fidgeted with the page of his book. "Hmph. I'll allow it," you finally said, and Bucky narrowed his eyes at you. Since when was his reality something you could decide to allow— "But I guess gecko powers weren't part of the package deal, huh?" You wiggled your left arm out toward him. "Or you'd have just grown a new arm."

Bucky pursed his lips into a straight line, pretending to be unamused, but truthfully he liked that you made those kinds of jokes. He liked that you didn't whisper about his arm in hushed tones, sneaking glances when you thought he wasn't looking. He liked that you just treated it as a part of him.

You brought your hand up to your face and inspected your palm, checking the shiny pink seam in your skin for any movement. "Y'know, I think it's healed," you said. You looked up at him excitedly. "I'm gonna cut the knots off," you announced. "You know, the little knots—" You shoved your hand toward his face, as if he didn't know what you were talking about. "Scissors are in the kitchen, right?" You untangled yourself from the couch and stood, but Bucky jumped to his feet and grabbed your elbow, nearly pulling you off-balance to keep you from walking away.

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