Spoilers & Desirable Foreknowledge: Captain America: the First Avenger & Captain America: the Winter Soldier.
Characters & Relationships: Bucky x Peggy x Steve & their kids
Summary: What’s a brainwashed assassin turned suburban dad supposed to do to keep his homemade baked goods safe around here? // 2850 words
Author’s Note: This fic stands alone just fine, but technically it is part of my Hook, Line, and Sinker 'verse. If you're interested in more after reading this, you can check out my profile for more details. Enjoy!
The Christmas Cookie Caper
December 18, 1964
"Steve, where’s the cat carrier?" Peggy shouted somewhere in the house, just as Bucky plucked the car keys from the hook. "Steve!"
Bucky kicked off his snow boots, turned back inside, and found her rooting around in the laundry room storage closet.
"What do you need the cat carrier for?" he asked.
Peggy jumped and whipped around, wide-eyed. "Oh, Bucky – I thought you’d already left."
"I had one foot out the door. What’s wrong with Sootie?"
"She, uh," Peggy floundered, taking another wild look inside the closet before she recovered her composure. "Thorn. In her paw. Well, not a thorn exactly – some kind of needle or spike. I thought perhaps she’d woken up a hibernating hedgehog, but it won’t come out, and I don’t want to keep blindly tugging at it when she’s howling so much."
"Oww," Bucky said, cringing sympathetically. "The basket’s in the attic."
Peggy smiled. "Terrific. Bring back some kitty treats to cheer her up?"
"Good idea. Poor thing. Wait – do you need the car?"
"No, I’ll take the bus."
She accompanied him back to the front hall.
"Are you sure you’ve got everything you need? Wallet, keys, shopping bags, grocery list, the children’s wish lists – the recipe for those wonderful Christmas cookies your mother bakes?"
He snorted and bent over to tug his booths back on. "I’m a grown boy, sweetheart. You just worry about the cat."
Peggy, predictably, smacked his ass.
"Who wants to help me bake cookies?" Bucky yelled when, hours later, he shuffled back in the door laden with grocery bags.
"Me, me, me!" the children’s voices answered in unison, followed by their thundering little footsteps.
"Excellent," Bucky said, handing one bag to a bouncing Eleanor and another to a positively vibrating Pearl. "You can start by taking this into the kitchen for me."
The girls carried the groceries (and their second father) away on a wave of delighted crowing and babbling, giving Peggy and Steve the opportunity to slip out to the car unseen and rush their presents upstairs to their annual hiding place in the parental bedroom closet. That taken care of, they brought the rest of the groceries inside, Steve winking at Bucky as they entered the kitchen.
"You two don’t get to help," Bucky told them. "This is a job for professionals only."
Peggy sighed blissfully, said "I knew it was a good idea to fall for you," pecked him on the cheek, dug up the cat treats from one of the grocery bags, and sauntered off cooing "heeeere, kitty kitty...".
Steve stuck around a little longer, if only to make the kiss he placed on Bucky’s mouth last forever.
"Daaaaaad," Pearl and Eleanor whined.
"They’re talking about you," Bucky murmured against Steve’s lips.
"Nah, you," Steve said.
"Both of you!" the girls chorused.
"Definitely you," Steve and Bucky said in the exact same unison.
"So how was your day?" Bucky asked, turning away to put the bags of potatoes in the cabinet under the sink.
"More productive than usual. Also more classified than usual. Yours?"
Bucky laughed. "Far from done, but at least I’m having fun with it. So how’s Sootie?"
Steve frowned. "What about Sootie?"
"Peggy had to take her to the vet. Didn’t she tell you?"
For a moment, Steve stared at him in blank-faced incomprehension.
"There was something stuck in her paw?" Bucky prompted.
Still nothing, until – "Oh!" – Steve slapped his forehead and turned fire engine red. "Right, right. She’s fine. Peggy said she’s fine. All better. But you know what, I’ll double-check!"
And he snatched a bag of marshmallows from the top of a grocery bag and disappeared, ignoring Bucky’s indignant "Hey!"
"Tada!" Bucky said, and set the cookie platter on the table. "First batch of the season. Made with all the secret ingredients, plus a lot of love and... enthusiasm."
Peggy and Steve leaned in to inspect the cookies and make admiring noises.
"Who made this one?" Peggy asked, picking up a particularly shapeless blob decorated with a swirl of frosting-y abstract art.
"Me!" Pearl said, proudly sticking her chest out.
"It’s pretty. Did you use the shapes?"
"Yes, that’s the star, and this one’s a Christmas tree, and here’s a snowman... no, this one’s the snowman!"
"Impressive," Peggy praised, completely straight-faced, while Eleanor struggled to contain her laughter behind her little sister’s back.
"Delicious, too!" Peggy said around a mouthful, and shoved a cookie in Eleanor’s mouth as well, which solved that problem.
"Oh, they are," she said with no small amount of relief.
"Hey!" Bucky snapped, and demanded: "Did I say you could eat?"
Everybody froze – Peggy and Eleanor with their mouths full, Steve and Pearl with their hands inches from the platter.
Bucky grinned. "You can finish the whole thing, I’ll make more tomorrow."
And he snatched up three for himself.
"Just because I made more doesn’t mean you were supposed to finish this whole batch in a day too! I made almost twice as much as yesterday! Those cookies were meant for Christmas day."
Steve, Peggy, nor the children looked nearly as ashamed as they should be.
Bucky had put ‘Do Not Eat!’ signs on all four sides of the baking tray with the cooling cookies, and hung another from the ceiling above for good measure. Whether in assassination or housekeeping, there was no kill like overkill.
Still, he should probably have listened to his gut about the girls’ secretive excitement, attempts at secretively running all around the house both inside and outside, and hushed whispering that day.
He heard them sneaking around in the attic at one point, and before his Sedate Suburban Dad Civilian Brain could tell him that it was them, he knew it was them and not the monsters come back to burst his bubble of impossible happiness with a cold and bloody dose of reality, he’d been keeping half an ear on the children’s movements all day – he’d already soundlessly snuck up the stairs to the attic and formulated a plan of attack.
"– they’ll have to like it when we see how well we did!" Pearl was arguing to her sister, but what about had slipped past Bucky’s paranoid notice.
Either way though, he breathed a sigh of relief at the return of his sanity and popped his head and shoulders over the edge of the wellhole.
"Hey kids!" he said cheerfully, drawing twin shrieks of surprise. "Can I get in on the secret?"
"No!" they said immediately, exchanging panicked looks.
"It’s supposed to be a surprise," Eleanor said.
Bucky leaned his elbows on the top step. "I promise I won’t tell your mom and your pop. Come on, I’m the cool dad, remember?"
"You wouldn’t ask Santa to share his secrets either!" Pearl said with an angry stomp of her foot.
Well, they got him there.
"Fair enough. I’ll steer clear of here until Santa’s brought his presents and we all reveal ours, then."
"Oh no, coming into the attic’s fine," Eleanor said. "Our secret’s in the shed."
Then Peggy dragged him out to help her choose her presents (to a complete lack of complaining on his part) because she was even more paranoid than Bucky and preferred it to be a bonding experience rather than a surprise, and when they returned home hours later, Steve had beaten them there by such a small margin there was still snow in his hair. And all the cookies were gone.
Bucky turned his sternest look on their daughters.
Eleanor looked at the ground and bit her lip. "I, uh... my friends wouldn’t believe me when I said you made better cookies than their moms, so I had to prove it to them?"
"I’m flattered," Bucky deadpanned. "But that’s still a terrible excuse to do something I expressly forbade you to do."
"Sounds like something I would’ve done," Steve mused cheerfully as he took Peggy’s coat.
"Like I said. Terrible."
"Please don’t go into the shed until Christmas," Peggy and Steve told him.
"I won’t, I won’t," Bucky promised again.
He was so engrossed in his mantra of it’s a perfectly harmless surprise; these are the only trustworthy people in the world, these are the only trustworthy people in the world, these are the only trustworthy people in the world, that it took him until the moment his absently groping hand couldn’t find any more cookies to notice they’d been coaxing him into helping them eat all the cookies.
"I just can’t believe you two still have to come to work every day this week," Bucky rumbled into his pillow, slurring and barely awake, as Steve and Peggy prepared to do their daily world-saving thing.
"I know, right?" Steve said with a laugh.
"Go back to sleep, darling," Peggy whispered, and pressed a kiss to his temple. Sootie jumped onto the bed, bell jingling, and made herself at home in the crook of his knees.
Bucky went back to sleep.
Sure, he had obligations that called him out of the house, sometimes on a daily basis. None of them involved waking up at the asscrack of dawn, though, or murdering people, or getting his brain fried out of his ears, or waking up at the asscrack of dawn. Sometimes they involved getting not-so-subtly interrogated over drinks by the neighbors, who could never seem to agree on whether the great dead war hero had come back from Russian captivity a fruitcake, a freeloader, or a funny uncle paying rent in some benignly scandalous way, and would like his input on the matter.
But mostly, Bucky’s job was to be a father, and a husband, and to take care of his family. Just the way he’d gone to war for, and just the way he liked it now that he’d finally made it back.
So Bucky slept in, and made the girls breakfast in a robe and pyjamas and Steve’s slippers, and did the laundry, and vacuumed, and shoveled snow off the driveway, and shoveled snow in the backyard so Sootie knew where to poop, and went to the store to buy ingredients for cookies for the third time in four days, and baked yet another batch of cookies. And when Steve came home, Bucky left to attend the Christmas party of the junior league team he volunteer-coached in the summers while the girls snuck around to the shed.
This time, he had kept watch over the cookies until they had cooled and then promptly hidden them. When he came home that night, they had been discovered and devoured again. A single leftover snowflake cookie and some crumbs taunted him from the bottom of the tin he’d hidden behind the sacks of potatoes under the sink.
"Do you guys have secret meetings about this in the shed or something?" Bucky asked Peggy and Steve wearily.
"Nothing’s happening in the shed!" Peggy lied, protesting outrageously.
"Seriously though, we wouldn’t take any cookies into the shed," Steve said. He actually seemed sincere. "It’s just not the place for it right now."
Bucky made no cookies. The whining was incessant.
Everyone helped bake the cookies this time. Through their combined efforts, there was enough to go around for that day, and to save for the next. The cookies were finally safe.
’Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...
Or so Bucky thought. He was wrong, but to be fair, he was unusually fast asleep. The last of the preparations for Christmas day had been intense, and the sex with his husband and wife even more so.
It had been a good day, and a good night.
The morning was good too, right up until he shuffled downstairs for a cup of coffee, checked the cookie tin out of a newborn reflex, and found it once again completely empty.
He would not get mad at them on Christmas.
He would not get mad at them on Christmas.
He would not get mad at them on Christmas.
Fuming silently, he went about his usual morning routine of getting himself and the house ready for the day. For once, he was the first one awake. Normally, Steve or Peggy would have used their asscrack-of-dawn schedule to take care of things on Christmas day, but since he was awake and angry anyway...
He collected the presents, arranged them beneath the tree, plugged in the fancy electric Christmas lights –
– and plunged the entire house into darkness.
Bucky closed his eyes and heaved a deep, deep sigh.
Oh well. At least now he had an excuse to take a peek at his own present while he looked for spare bulbs in the shed.
And oh, what a present it was.
Several hours later, the other members of the Carter-Rogers-Barnes household finally made their way downstairs. They milled about, simultaneously excited by the brightly lit tree, the presents, the food set out in various stages of preparation in the kitchen, and the snow piled high outside, and bemused by Bucky’s absence. For Steve and Peggy, that bewilderment turned into alarm when they found the freshly cleaned rug in the hallway.
It could be nothing – the odds were overwhelming that it was nothing – but they hadn’t gotten where they were now by heeding the odds. They only needed one loaded glance between them before Steve went to slip outside and check the perimeter and Peggy was headed for the phone to make some calls.
So of course that was the moment keys turned in the front door, and Bucky walked in with a beautiful, artistically mottled black, grey, and tan mut of a puppy in his arms.
Everyone exploded all at once.
"Wow," Bucky told the dog in the ensuing commotion. "That’s not how you’d expect them to react to seeing me with the gift they all meant to give me, is it, girl?"
Because the mixture of relief at his safe return and surprise at his premature discovery of the gift had almost immediately turned into confusion and dismay at everybody else’s lack of surprise at the sight of the puppy. "How did you find out we got a dog for Christmas?" Steve and Peggy asked the children, and "How did you know we found a dog in the shed?!" Eleanor and Pearl asked their parents, and even though the answer to both of those questions was blindingly, hilariously obvious, everybody promptly lost the ability to give a straightforward account of what had happened over the past week.
For his part, Bucky only wanted to know one thing:
"Which of you geniuses decided to feed her all my cookies and which of you geniuses decided to keep a dog in the shed for a week for the sake of a surprise?"
"We thought it was a starving stray who broke in looking for shelter from the cold!" said Pearl and Eleanor.
Which explained their secretive behavior and cookie-thieving; as it turned out, Steve and Peggy had put the bowls for the actual dog food away whenever the puppy was done with them.
"We’ve gone to great lengths to spend a humane and responsible amount of time with it every day for as long as it’s been there!" said Peggy and Steve; which is why they’d spent so much more time ‘at work’ than in any preceding year, and why they’d needed the cat carrier even though nothing had ever been wrong with the cat.
"Great," Bucky said. "Clearly you all had your hearts in the right place. But she threw those cookies you gave her up on the rug, and it just took a really, really long walk and a belly massage to get her to have a healthy bowel movement. So how about I take over now?"
Pearl and Eleanor nodded timidly.
"That was the idea," Steve pointed out.
"No it wasn’t. Or – well, only technically. Because you spend the most time at home," Peggy said with a roll of her eyes. "The dog belongs to all of us, and all of us will help take care of it. Just like the cat."
"Speaking of the cat..." Bucky said, setting the squirming puppy down so she could explore her new surroundings.
"Oh, don’t worry, they adore each other. You didn’t think we’d get a new pet without making sure Sootie liked them, did you?" Steve said.
"You really want me to answer that?"
"Watch it, mister, or you’ll forfeit your say in naming her," Peggy threatened with a grin.
"Hey, you didn’t ask the kids if they liked me before bringing me home."
"We made an educated guess," Peggy said primly, at the same time Steve said: "What, you think there was any chance they wouldn’t like you? It’s in their genes."
Bucky got all the say in naming her. They called her Flower; both because everybody agreed with him that the markings on her head made her look like Bambi’s little skunk friend, and because all those cookies made her fart for days.
Hook, Line, and Sinker (WORK IN PROGRESS)
The lives and loves of Bucky Barnes, shapeshifting merman.
Bucky can’t sing or swim, except that he totally can. It’s complicated.
aka the one where Bucky Barnes is a merman and the greatest tragedy in a child’s life is not being able to go swimming with your friends // Steve x Bucky
Lots of Fish in the Sea
Chapter: Bucky and Steve
Chapter: Bucky and Peggy
Chapter: Bucky and Steve and Peggy
Chapter: Steve and Peggy
Hydra had Bucky on a lab table for god knows how long and never discovered his secret. Cue Agent Carter walking in on it pretty much the moment he and Steve make it back to camp.
aka the one where Bucky Barnes is a merman and once you’ve lived through your single worst nightmare, ‘chasing tail’ puns are a close second // Steve x Peggy x Bucky
Canon-divergent AU branching off from the more or less canon-compliant Hook, Line, and Sinker. Steve walks away from the wreckage of the Valkyrie and returns home in time to propose to Peggy on V-E day, and some fifteen years later, the Winter Soldier's handlers make the grave mistake of sending Bucky Barnes after his best guy and girl's young children.
It's all domestic fluff and hurt/comfort and suburban absurdity from there. :D The mermaid thing may or may not be relevant or even visibly present in any given installment. Fics with "fish" theme titles contain overt mermaid stuff, fics with "bird" themed titles don't.
A man may take himself out of the war, and the war out of himself, but what does he put back in?
They have a lot of options. Not least of which: going back to sleep while the grown-ups do their thing.
The Christmas Cookie Caper
What's a brainwashed assassin turned suburban dad supposed to do to keep his homemade baked goods safe around here?
Once Upon A Tide
Once Upon A Tide...
Ten Years Later
“Once upon a time, in a kingdom far far away, there lived a fisherman, a fisherwoman, and a merman...” // standalone / sidestory
aka the one where Bucky Barnes is a shapeshifting merman, and his children are deeply unimpressed with the lack of imagination that goes into their bedtime stories. The alternative is... unfortunate, though.