Foto bij Chapter 2.3 || Weary Smiles

Chapter Two – IV, V, VI

Part Three of Nine.

It is surprisingly busy on the streets for barely five AM and now Steve can’t cut ahead of traffic, he is getting annoyed though he isn’t the one driving. There’s no music, because they are supposed to hear the dispatch over the radio. And music has proven to be too distracting anyway. The car ride is oddly silent, Sam smug right up until they’re ten minutes away from the hospital and blurts out:
      “You gonna tell me what that on the phone was?”
"Nothing, Sam," Steve complains, rapping his fingers against the dashboard slowly. They're going down the street at a snail’s pace, it sets Steve’s teeth on edge. Maybe they would get there faster if they ran, even. “I didn't realize you were still on the phone." Sam doesn’t look back at Steve, eyes focused on the road.
      “You feel like you have to apologize for it," he states. "What kind of nothing has you needing clothes?" Steve groans.
      “Did you want me to show up in pajamas?” he asks. “It would have saved me a hassle.” Sam actually laughs at that. Steve wouldn’t have minded it so much.
      “Now that would’ve been a sight,” he says, then more hesitantly. “But if you don’t want to talk about it. Then at least talk about something else because if I don’t, I’ll end up turning on the sirens to cut ahead of this.” That doesn’t sound like too bad an idea, if Steve has to be honest. At least then they will make some time.
      “It isn’t as interesting as you believe it is,” he says. “We just sat up and talked. Baked cupcakes. You know, the usual.” He can't honestly imagine he hasn't told Sam about Bucky before, but he mustn’t have because otherwise Sam would know that four AM phone calls and visits aren't uncommon for them. It's a second nature, stemming from army days and nightmare nights. Its start? January eighteenth, 2000. When Sarah Rogers sat her two sons down after dinner and told them that their father had died.
      "Only you could have a habit like that and call it ‘the usual’. You do know that people need sleep right?” Sam looks over at Steve, eyebrows raised but there’s a glint in his eye. “It does explain why you look like you live on coffee."
      “I do live on coffee,” Steve agrees. “And I try to sleep. But we both get nightmares and sometimes sleep doesn’t matter that much.” Steve actually changed the ringtone on his mobile, set it to one of the loudest songs he could find, so he won’t sleep through Bucky’s calls. He doesn’t bother telling Sam that, though. He already seems worried about it. “Besides, without coffee, half the police force wouldn’t show up and you know it. I’m not the only one.”
      “No need to defend yourself, man,” Sam replies, half smiling. “I get it. I do.” Sam does get it; he’s seen this kind of thing often enough at the VA. The only time Steve had talked to Bucky about the VA had been a failure and an epic one at that. ‘You think I can’t take care of myself?! I don’t need some stranger to tell me how I’m doing, Steve. I don’t need to share with somebody who can barely remember my name. I got you and I got my family. That’s enough.’ The outburst ended the life of Bucky's favorite mug, a white mug with “Not all superheroes wear capes” in a black typewriter font.
      “I’m not defending myself,” Steve mutters, actually on the defense now. “I spent the rest of the day moving in. Why did I choose that apartment building again?” Sam laughs.
      “Because if you want to move into a house, you’ll have to sell both kidneys and part of your liver before you can afford it,” he replies. “Maybe even a lung. The building can’t be that bad. You may have your aesthetics, but even you wouldn’t move into a dump.” Steve’s second choice had been a rather worn building with barely any decent heating and single glass. However, it was cheap and had a very nice layout, the walls bare brick and the flooring a warm wood.
      “True,” Steve replies. “Just the upstairs neighbor’s already out to ruin my first night of decent sleep.” He sighs. “Tomorrow should be better. A lot of stuff left to unpack though.”
      “At least you’ve got a couple of strings to pull with the PD,” Sam says. “They’ll show up if you file a complaint. If you need help unpacking…” Steve shakes his head.
      “Bucky’s helping later on. But any help is appreciated.”
      Traffic finally frees up and they make it to the hospital. The parking lot is surprisingly empty; Sundays are usually busier than this. His ma used to do double shifts on Sundays, and then came home looking more tired than ever before. She’d sleep from the moment she got home to the moment she had to pick her sons up from school. Sam parks the car a little way from the entrance near the back of the parking lot. There’s only one other person on the lot right now, a nurse smoking a cigarette and staring off into the distance. She does smile at them when they pass, that same, tired ‘I could sleep for days if you let me but I need to be civil and it’s unfair’ kind of smile, that probably works best on people that haven’t lived through life with that exact smile plastered on their mother’s face all the time. Steve makes it a point to smile back at her, though his own smile is probably as worn as the nurse’s is.

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