"It is okay, Buck."
It’s a Thursday. It’s August and 3pm and hot as hell and Steve’s watching the way the afternoon sun glints off the shiny windows of the fancy office building across from his apartment. It’s been 96 days since he last saw Bucky’s face on a helicarrier over the Potomac. It’s not a special day. It’s just another one in a string of disappointing Thursdays.
He sets down his sketchbook and fountain pen, trying to ignore the fact that the shapes forming on his page are not the sharp angles and bright glares of the building before him, but the red points of the star branded onto his best friend.
He’s got a stack of sketchbooks filled with red stars and breathtaking eyes as high as his bedside table. He doesn’t need another.
Sam was by earlier, which is probably what’s to blame for the latest bout of melancholic staring on his roof. He told Steve there’d been no activity in the hunt for Bucky. Still not in Russia. Still not in Hydra’s crumbling hands. Still not thought to be in the United States.
He rubs a hand over his face and sighs.
There’s a faint scrape of fabric on concrete and he looks left to discover a sight he never thought he’d see.
"Bucky?" he croaks, his whole body tensing in disbelief.
Sure enough, Bucky - or some version of him - is slumped on the roof ledge beside Steve, maybe six or seven feet away. He doesn’t say anything, neither of them do. They just sit quietly for several moments, Steve watching carefully over Bucky’s bowed head and curled shoulders.
Then, Steve’s heart breaks, Bucky looks up at him with big, watery blue eyes and a trembling lower lip.
He looks so lost.
It’s seconds before he’s cross the distance and folded Bucky into his arms, grabbing fistfuls of hair and hoodie to hold onto like his life depends on it. He buries his face in Bucky’s neck and feels tears against his own. He clamps his eyes shut as the tired, malnourished body in his arms heaves a sob. He offers the only consolation he can give at the moment.
"It’s okay, Bucky. It’s okay."