Being with the Avengers meant meeting all sorts of personalities. Some I got along with like Steve, Natasha, Wanda and Tony. Others, not so much. Loki happened to be on this list and for some unknown reason Stephen Strange. He didn’t particularly like me as I was told by Tony. When I inquired as to why, Strange kept giving vague answers; the “excuses” ranged from too cheerful or too friendly or – and this was my favorite – too outgoing. To be fair, the girls and I went out a lot; Eating, drinking, clubbing, you name it. If it was exciting enough for us, we’d be there.
Other personalities were still a mystery to me. It depended on the person. It took me a while to get to know Clint, Vision, or Sam. Even Carol had deemed me suspicious and it took her a while to warm up to my bright personality. Bucky was on this list too, though for different reasons. I didn’t dislike the man and I suspected that he didn’t dislike me either, but we didn’t know too much about each other to come to a decision. He seemed friendly, but other days – the terrible days – he’d be off standish and distant. I hoped the more time I spent with him, the more I’d get to see him open up.
Though it was rare for us to ever be alone together. Bucky would often spend his time with Steve, Nat or Sam; they’d become his comfort group and he didn’t stray much from them. He’d be alone sometimes too and that was when he’d chosen to isolate himself from the group for obvious reasons; when he was having a bad day, he didn’t think being around others was a good idea. I’d venture off with Carol, Wanda, Maria and Nat. As time went on, I discovered I desired to spend time with him; a developing crush I hadn’t expected. Who could blame me? He was good looking, especially when he had taken the time to get his hair cut and his beard shaved. He’d been hot before, now it was almost as if the transformation had only intensified his looks.
The day we’d start getting to know one another came on his birthday, which came as a shock to me. Steve and Natasha were sent on a mission and no one else knew it was his birthday outside of his comfort group. I had planned on going out with Carol and Wanda to dinner and bowling afterwards, so it surprised me when I came downstairs and saw him sitting alone in the kitchen. I made a pit stop to pre-game with a beer and he was perched on one of the stools sipping one of his own, a solemn expression on his features.
“Hey, Barnes. What’s up with you? You seem a bit down today,” I greeted him. I propped my elbows on the island counter across from him, taking another sip of my beer. I took him in; the green Henley shirt, the black jeans made him handsome in my view. I thought my outfit was great; the loose grey tank top and dark blue jeans paired with black sparkly Converse, but he definitely out did me on the hotness scale. I had even curled my plum-colored hair, a decision made to bring out my ice blue eyes.
“Nothing. It doesn’t concern you. Steve and Nat are on a mission and I’m having to celebrate alone,” he answered, the last sentence a whisper. I still caught it.
“Oooh. What are you celebrating? A new relationship? Training moves? Maybe you played-,”
“It’s my birthday,” he interrupted my teasing. I frowned, feeling terrible about messing with him. Maybe that’s why people didn’t care for me. Could I be too sarcastic? Too teasing?
“Oh. It’s your birthday? Today? Why isn’t anyone throwing a grand party? You know Tony can’t resist a gathering if it’s contained within our group,”
“I didn’t tell many people about my birthday. Only my closest friends know and they’re on a mission,”
“Where’s Sam? Doesn’t he know?”
“Out with his girlfriend. He had already made plans before we figured out what we were doing and then the last-minute mission came in. I wasn’t needed and now I’m by myself,” I nodded, polishing off my beer. As I tossed the bottle in the recycle bin, an idea popped in my head.
“Hey, I know! Why don’t you and I hang out? I’ll be happy to celebrate with you and it’ll give us a chance to get to know each other better,” I said, turning around to face him. He raised an eyebrow, putting down his bottle after a long drag of liquid.
“I thought you had plans,” he responded.
“Nothing a quick text can’t fix. I’ll text Carol and Wanda and reschedule. And now…my night is clear,” I exclaimed, showing him the rescheduled plans. “So, what you like to do? What would Bucky Barnes like to do on his birthday?” I asked. He looked at me, a stunned expression on his features.
“We could go see a movie. Grab dinner go drinking. Stay in and watch a movie. Go dancing. Bowling? Roller skating? Just hang out and talk?” I suggested.
“I…uh…can we stay in? Order food and watch a movie?” he asked, a pink hue lighting his cheeks.
“Sure, but first I must go out for a few minutes,”
“It’s a surprise,” I answered, winking. I grabbed my purse and left the compound, heading for the grocery store. The surprise in question was supplies for a birthday cake. I had noticed that when there was party thrown for Steve, Nat or Sam, a chocolate ganache cake was requested from Bucky every time. I figured it was his favorite, so I picked up the supplies needed to make it. I returned and we agreed to order in burgers, placing an order at one of the diners the Avengers frequented. While we waited, I started preparing to bake the cake. While we are, I assembled the layers once cool, decorating it with ganache, putting a few candles in it, lighting them.
“Make a wish birthday boy,” I said, carrying it into the den and placing it on the coffee table. I knelt on the floor and watched as he appeared to think of a wish. Bucky blew out the candles, the smoke curling upwards towards the ceiling.
“Wish for something good?” I asked.
“Definitely. Thank you, Calleigh,”
“You’re welcome, Bucky,” I got up to get plates and a knife to cut the cake, bringing forks to eat it with. We settled down to watch a comedy he chose and as the movie came to an end, we sat on the couches talking. Turns out we had a lot in common with some of things we liked. Movies, books, T.V. shows and more. The conversation felt natural, flowing from subject to subject.
“Is that the time already?” I asked, catching the digital numbers on the clock behind us; They read 2 a.m., surprising me.
“Yeah, I guess it is. Maybe we should turn in, though I’ve been having a great time,” he said.
“Me too. You’re right. Training is in five hours,” I said. We got up and said goodnight, turning in for the rest of the evening. This was the start of our growing relationship.
Each year that passed, we’d repeat our hangout session, more even before his birthday would come around. There would be an additional celebration with Natasha, Steve, and Sam, but we’d always end the night alone; sometimes we’d spend the whole night talking, the morning sun peeping in on us, time merging in on itself. Training sessions would be tiring, and we’d have to tap out to get some rest.
These celebrations between Bucky and me varied each time. Once it was a weekend skiing, once bowling, movies, but they’d always end the same; with cake and laughter, smiles and subtle touches.
“You and Bucky are spending an awful lot of time together. Am I expected to hear wedding bells sometime soon?” Nat had commented one night during an outing with Wanda and Carol. I blushed and brushed it off as Bucky and I were just close friends.
“Uh huh, sure. I’m positive he thinks of it as just close friendship too,” she said. The blush deepened, but she didn’t push the subject of the matter any further. Things would change soon, and all feelings would be brought forth.
Another year, another birthday.
“Bucky! Happy birthday!” I shouted, flying into the den and throwing my arms around his neck in an embrace.
“Calleigh! Thank you. Let me guess, you cancelled your plans to spend my birthday with me…again,” he said.
“What plans? My calendar is free. What do you want to do this year?” I answered, winking.
“Do you remember when you celebrated with me the first time? You suggested dancing that year. I want to go dancing. Get dressed up and everything,” he requested.
“Consider your wish granted,” We went to our rooms, changed and drove downtown. Apparently, he had found a place which held old-fashioned dances – all ages welcomed – and decided it was where we were meant to be. It also served dinner between dances; out choice of meal – pasta, a classic.
“Shall we?” he asked, extending his hand. I nodded and he led me to the dancefloor. Silence, then music started up. Not 40’s as I originally thought it might be, but waltz music instead.
“I’m afraid I don’t know how to waltz,” I told him.
“Don’t worry. I’ll lead you through it,” he said, taking my hands and placing them in the correct positions, a familiar longing echoing in my heart. It was intimate, romantic and only intensified my crush on him. The music stopped and so did we. Time froze or it rather seemed like it. We gazed at each other, our breathing almost in sync.
I couldn’t tell if the room was warm or if my body was only reacting to him, to Bucky. I heard my breath hitch when leaned in; my heart freezing in its beating as his lips touched mine; soft, tender and delicious. The cold metal of his fingers reached up to cup my jaw. The kiss was gentle, yet passion lingered in it and I wanted more. More of him. I was vaguely aware of my hands clutching him tightly, afraid if I let go, the dream would end. He pulled back, his forehead touching mine.
“Can I have one more wish?” he asked.
“Yes. What do you wish for?” I answered. He closed his eyes for a moment.
“I wish for what I’ve always wished for. Ever since the first time you wanted to celebrate my birthday with me. I wish for you,” he said. He opened his eyes, the steel blue irises my icy blue ones, awaiting my reply.
“Consider you wish granted. I’m yours. I always have been,” he smiled and leaned in for another kiss, his other hand tangling in my hair.
“Good, because I refuse to live without your love. Calleigh I love you,” he confessed.
“I love you too, Bucky,” I said, accepting a lifetime with Bucky Barnes.
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