House Warming - Bucky Barnes
Summary: Hopping through some standout moments in making Bucky's apartment a place worth coming home to. (This definitely could have been a headcanon but I refuse to do headcanons at this time.)
Pairing: Bucky Barnes x reader
Word count: 2.6 k
Warnings: fluff with a lil angst
A/N: I have finished all the assignments left for my degree and decided to sit down and write today. This is probably trash but idc because it has been written and therefore I may as well release it. It's been a while since I've written and years since I've truly tried dipping my foot into a different fandom, but I figured I'd give it ago. Please don't forget to leave comments, I love interacting with y'all. Thank you @bwbatta for the dividers! xoxox
It all started with a damn candle. A ‘sandalwood & vanilla orchid’ candle tucked away in a reused cyan jar.
“I found it at the art market down the street last weekend,” you said as you placed it in the corner of the living room window. “You know we have to support local business.”
“And I shouldn’t assume this is your way of telling me my place smells, right?” Bucky quipped from the kitchen island, a cup of coffee in his hand and a lazy smile on his face. He’d just gotten back from a 12-day mission with Sam, and the last thing he had on his to-do list was to buy candles.
The smile grew firmer as you put yourself into his arms. “Complete opposite, actually. I bought it cause I thought it smelled just like you.” You hid your face within his chest, and he thanked the stars that you couldn’t see the warmth rising in his cheeks. His barren apartment felt a little bigger with a candle in the windowsill.
From there it became decorative pillows… and a couch to hold them. The small living room had quickly become a mess by the time you both had brought it up to his fourth-floor apartment, furniture wrap and packing peanuts strewn everywhere.
“I still don’t know why you needed to buy a sofa this big,” Bucky grumbled as he leaned over the back of the beige three-seater, looking down at your splayed out across its cushions.
“Don’t get me wrong, babe. I love the transient bachelor look you’ve got going on here, but you need more furniture than an armchair,” you mumbled between heavy breaths as you tried to regain control from maneuvering the couch into the apartment.
“And the pillows?” A laugh fell from your lips as you watched him look at the indigo cushions with a remarkable amount of disdain. Who buys pillows made just to look nice on a couch?
“They add character.”
“I didn’t think character was an area we were lacking in. Transient bachelor, remember?” He walked around the couch and shifted you over so he could lay beside you. You instinctively curled into him as you both closed your eyes. For a second the place felt like home. “I also don't know how you plan for us both to fit on this couch every day along with the pillows.”
“Don’t worry about it,” You looked up from his chest with a mischievous glint that made his heart skip. “It’s a pullout bed too. I’m sure it’ll be firm enough even for you.”
The home improvements didn’t stop there, but Bucky refused to admit how much he enjoyed them.
He liked having a place and person to come home to. After you had bought neutral bedding for his room, you’d spent an evening putting together ‘his and hers’ trestle bookcases for either side of the bed. He’d try to keep up his crabbish demeanor as you argued that ‘you needed a place to set your books for when you slept over,’ and a side table could no longer contain the small collection you had spilling over. Even still, he couldn’t find it in himself to banter much about the minor changes you made to make the place feel lived in.
And God, did he love living with you around. Between missions, his continued therapy, and trying to find his place in a world that had tripled in opportunity since his youth, he knew that he never had to question who he was and where he fit in when he walked through that door. You still occasionally slept at your own apartment when he was away, but he could always count on you being asleep in his bed by the time he came home.
One toothbrush in a glass became two, and from there, hand creams, face masks, and cotton pads cluttered the bathroom counter, packed away in their clear containers. You had made sure to keep lavender bath salts on hand for the late-night baths you took together when he woke up in a panic, unable to close his eyes again for fear of falling back into a nightmare.
It took time and working through plenty of hesitation before Bucky could progress from sleeping on the pull-out sofa to the bed, but ever since, you found your nights attended by restlessness whenever you weren’t wrapped in his arms.
Once your lease was up and you had a lengthy conversation about your inability to rest without him, you quickly filled the apartment with brown boxes. Bucky had been no less than astounded by how much you fit into them. From then on, no nook or cranny was without a vase or shelf.
“How many mugs does one house need,” Bucky asked skeptically while he continued to carefully pull them from their paper wrappings.
“Oh, come on! They’re fun!” You exclaimed, wrapping an arm around his waist as you took the Charlie Brown mug from his metal palm. “Plus, we go through enough coffee around here to justify some extra mugs.”
After you put the mug into the lowest shelf of the cabinet, you busied yourself with filing away the spices one cabinet over. No matter how much he tried, Bucky couldn’t pull his eyes away from you, lost in your own world as you chipped away at unpacking your belongings, making yours his, and vice versa. The domesticity in the little things you did was something he could get used to, and he wanted to return the feeling of normalcy as much as he could. He was far from the average boyfriend, but you remind him that could be a good thing. You never wanted to be average, but in these small moments, as you both did what normal couples do, he felt that he could create a new normal with you.
“So your Christmas gift came in already, and it’s too big to hide.” Your awkward tone carried over the phone as he exited a station ten minutes away from the apartment. Even though his neck ached and the cold nipped at the top of his ears, he couldn’t stop himself from releasing a breathy laugh.
“I thought you said you were good at this gift-giving thing, doll,” he teased you as he maneuvered his way to your shared apartment.
“Oh, don’t you fret, baby. I am the best gift-giver in all of New York City. I just slightly miscalculated how big this thing was and have realized it won’t fit into our closet.”
He tsked with a smirk on his face. “If you say so.”
“Hey, you gave me my Christmas gift a week ago.”
“Yeah, that’s because I didn’t know if I’d be back before Christmas.”
“Well, you will be, and I’m glad you are,” your voice softened lovingly as he pulled out his keys to the front of the building.
Bucky had gotten used to your love, but he’d vow to never take it for granted. All the pain he’d endured had somehow led him to you, the person who didn’t see his broken pieces as a burden or a project but as a potential to be whatever he desired.
When he hung up the call and unlocked the apartment, his brows furrowed into one; the apartment was pitch black. It was only when he heard your soft footstep walking towards the entrance that his face relaxed.
Before he could even kiss you, you had your palms firmly placed over his eyes. “No peeking; your gift is in the living room.”
The uncertainty in what you could have got him made his stomach clench. “Is it an animal?”
You slowly dragged him through the front hallway, making sure to avoid crashing into the entryway storage table. “I’m sorry to say it’s not alive.”
“Is it a nice welcome-home spread with candles, fruit, and the pullout bed all set up?”
He could feel your eyes roll to completion. “Easy there, sergeant. That’s for later.” You pulled him down to sit on the couch, and he kept his eyes closed as you pulled your palms away, moving to turn on a lamp. “Okay, Buck. open up.”
When he opened his eyes, it took him a moment to understand what he was seeing nestled against the wall; when he did recognize it, he could only form two words “Holy shit.”
“Holy shit indeed.”
He was quick to stand up and cross the room, eager to get a good look at the walnut centerpiece. “Does it work?”
You scoffed as you moved to kiss his cheek. “What kind of girlfriend would get her ancient boyfriend a broken phonograph console?”
He didn’t even attempt to answer as he bent down to wrap his arms around you, his lips eager to find yours. “A fucking Magnavox radio and phonograph,” he mumbled against your lips.
“A working Magnavox radio and phonograph, you mean.” When you pulled away and saw that his face held a glow reserved only for special occasions, you knew you had made the right choice. “I’ve got some records wrapped up if you want to open those now too.”
You yelped in surprise as he picked you up and made his way towards your bedroom. “I’ve got something else I’d like to unwrap first.”
Bucky Barnes had grown up in a period when the average family could seldom afford nice things or much of anything at all. The Great Depression has resulted in the slogan ‘Make it do or Do without,” being ingrained into what memories he still had, and 'doing without' had become commonplace for the Barnes household.
That’s why every gadget and gizmo you added to your household left him in awe. For much of his life, including the decades he spent as a weapon for Hydra, he hadn’t been allowed to call anything his own; he was still getting used to living so plentifully, both in love and in life. But now, he could barely move and he thought it had all been taken away from him.
The attack was supposed to have been contained, at least three miles away from the apartment. Anything less, and he would have made you visit your family upstate instead of just suggesting it. By the time Sam had told him that there’d been some confirmed damage within a block of the apartment, Bucky was already on his way home. He couldn’t think of anything but the worse: you trapped in a collapsing apartment building or pulling up to find no building there at all.
He felt his lungs fill with air again as he pulled up to your building, completely intact regardless of the severe damage less than a five-minute walk away. It felt like both seconds and hours between when he parked his outside and unlocked the front door.
“He doesn’t have his phone on him, mom. How am I supposed to…” you trailed off from your call as he walked into the living room, turning your head away from the Breaking News report you’d been glued to for the last hour. “Wait, I’ll call you back. Yeah, I’m fine. I’ll call you back.” Your eyes never left his as he walked over to you, hanging up the phone with worry in your eyes. “Buck, are you oka-”
You couldn’t even finish your sentence before he pulled you off of the couch and into his arms. His grip was less reserved than he usually kept, but he made sure not to hurt you, eager to keep you in his arms, where he knew you were safe. A single tear fell from the corner of his eyes as he realized the real possibility that he could have lost you if you lived even 5 minutes closer to the attack. You stayed like that for a while, gathered tightly in his arms as you both settled onto the floor You didn’t push him to verbalize his fear; you already understood it. And it took this occurrence for him to realize he never wanted to experience this feeling again.
Bucky was quiet for the rest of the evening, and while it worried you, his fear had been evident enough not to require questioning. The city-wide cleanup had lasted all hours of the night; for the first time in all the years you had lived in the city, the sounds of the whirring of vehicles clearing debris off the street had been too close to ignore. The sun was rising before a single word was said between you and Bucky, tangled together on the sofa as the first ray of light made itself known.
“You’ve spent so much time piecing this place together, doll.” His voice was raspy. You know he hates when you see him cry, but his pain was always evident in his voice. “And it could have been all wiped away in seconds.” You let a heavy silence settle between you as you traced a pattern into his shoulder. He couldn’t bear to say it, but you knew what he meant: You could have been gone within seconds. “I just… I don’t ever want to feel like this again.”
You’d both gone through so much to make your relationship work. Nearly normal was as close as you would ever attain to being an average couple. The distance, the days without contact, and the ever-present fear that anything could pull you away from one another was something that had taken time to work through.
You looked around the living room and saw the place you had built together. There were photos and books scattered on any flat surface, a leftover mug half-filled with cold tea, and a record left out on the phonograph. The apartment looked like what love felt like; a messy combination of everything you and Bucky. But this apartment could not contain everything that ‘home’ was; only Bucky could do that.
The words fell from your mouth before you could restrain them. “Maybe we should move.”
Your eyes found each other, and you both sat in silence, though it felt lighter, invigorated with the new proposition.
Before he even responded, you could see tension dissolve from his shoulders. “Where do you want to move?”
You hadn’t thought that far ahead, only being able to provide him with a shrug. “I don’t know… maybe upstate, maybe somewhere else.”
“Your mom would like you being Upstate.”
“My mom would love us living next door too, but I don’t see that in the cards anytime soon.” You got a ghost of a smile for that.
“We could probably afford a house if we moved out there,” he said as he moved his lips to meet your forehead.
“Buck, I’d move anywhere with you. As long as we have each other, then we have all we need to rebuild this place.”
He pressed soft kisses to the crown of your head, and you swore you felt his chest flutter. “Tomorrow, I’m gonna look for some places, bigger ones too.” He tilted your head up to find your eyes, and you were sure that all of the love you carried for each other was incredibly visible at that moment. “You have made this apartment something worth coming home to. Now let me give you a house to make a home.” Your skin tingled with adoration as you pulled him as close as possible, burying your face into his neck.
You didn’t want to let go. You wanted to lay in this room, in this bed, and in this moment until the end of time, but you knew that something bigger and better was on the horizon for you and Bucky.
“All I heard is that you’re buying me a house.” His laugh was music to your ears.
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