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Bucky opened his eyes to the late morning light, blinking slowly. The ceiling wouldn't quite come into focus, and it took him a moment to remember where he was. The room was too bright, the bed too soft; it wasn't the safehouse where he'd spent the past few nights. Maybe the jet? No, definitely not. He couldn't remember how he got here, but he could remember thin white sheets, something about a hospital bed.

His body felt like hell. That usual ache he felt in his shoulder was amplified almost unbearably, and there was more— a gnawing pain deep in his chest, in his guts. He turned his head to the side, and through the ice pick that was now chipping away behind his eyes, he was shocked by what he found— a tuft of messy blond hair lying on the pillow next to him. Disheveled bangs like honey in the sunlight, that whorl at the crown of his head that Bucky would know anywhere.

He hadn't woken up next to Steve in a long time. He smiled a bit; it felt incredibly natural, seeing him here. From when they were kids and Steve's hair was still white-blond, to that old Brooklyn apartment, to the multitudes of camps and barracks overseas, to the hut in Wakanda— Steve's tousled hair and sleeping face were tattooed into his mind. But then Bucky frowned, because something about Steve's face was different now— the slight bruises on his cheekbones that had almost faded away. The days-old stubble. The dried, salty tracks down his cheeks where tears had escaped.

Steve was sad. And Bucky was sad, too, even though he couldn't remember why.

A soft snore came from Bucky's other side, and his breath caught when he realized. You.

You were there, too— it all came rushing back to him. All of his mornings waking up next to you, your skin flooded by the same shuttered light that now drenched Steve. Your hair, darker than Steve's when you lay in that same spot, reflected the sunlight differently— faceted gemstones rather than honey, but sweet all the same.

You were on the other side of the bed now, shadowed from the light. Your soft breath against the exposed skin of Bucky's right arm felt so natural, so normal, that he almost didn't register it.

He remembered how you let Steve in last night— finally, mercifully. Confusingly, because Bucky thought you would have crucified Steve because of his mistake on the mission, but...

For whatever reason, you let him in. You told him to stay. You— Bucky swallowed roughly. You almost left, so that Steve could stay—

Despite how the tendons in his neck and the pounding in his forehead protested, Bucky started to turn toward you, but something behind Steve caught his eye. On the nightstand, Bucky watched Steve's phone as it lit up, again and again, silent notifications coming through one after another.

Fuck. He remembered the tour. They were already a day behind— maybe two. Shit. Bucky didn't know what day it was, but he knew Steve shouldn't be here.

In the deluge of numbers Bucky didn't recognize, some familiar contacts came through— he saw Natasha's name on the phone screen. And Sam's. And Fury's, and Stark's, and...

"Hey," Bucky whispered, his voice low and raspy with sleep as he ducked toward Steve's ear. "Steve. Stevie?"

Steve stirred, looking up at Bucky with bleary eyes. He reached for Bucky automatically, but Bucky winced before Steve's hand made contact with his hip, and that made Steve pause— "You should get up," Bucky said, letting out the breath he had held in case of pain. "It's late."

Steve looked at him blankly, still not fully awake, not completely sure where he was. But when his eyes focused on Bucky's he smiled, and damn, that was a smile— all pearly teeth and full, pink lips. Bucky couldn't resist smiling back, but— "C'mon," he urged softly. "You gotta go. The tour."

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