Author's Note: Dear god, why do I do these things to myself? My first real breakup fic. (First, I say as if there are going to be many. I hope not.)

Anyway, I've not been writing much Marvel lately, so I apologize in advance for any characterization errors. Especially on Sam's part, given I've only ever seen him in Cap 2, and... yeah. I don't know his character too well.

Steve had never had a successful romantic relationship. And no matter how hard he tried with this one, it wasn't working either.

He groaned, one hand on his hip, the other clasped behind his neck. They'd been through this and he'd thought the last time would be just that - the last time. But things were different. Sam looked more pissed about it than usual, hadn't even let Steve in the door long enough to change out of his bloodied uniform. Perhaps that was the weirdest thing of all. Sam was usually pretty sensitive to Steve's 'not wanting to walk around in blood' thing.

It wasn't exactly that blood bothered him. After all the war he'd seen, blood wasn't the issue. It was more the fact that blood on his clothes meant one of two things: he'd been sloppy and gotten hit, or he'd seen someone die. Maybe he was even the cause of it. And the longer that surrounded him, the worse off he became.

So they stood in the living room at one in the morning, Steve looking like hell and Sam in pajamas. And neither enjoyed the familiarity of the scene.

"We've been through this, Steve," Sam snapped, venom saturating his tone. Of all the possible nights... "We've talked about you leaving in the middle of the night. Hell, we talked about you leaving in general." They'd decided it didn't happen because when it did, Sam would wake up mid-nightmare with no one there to help soften the blow.

They'd had a program. A thing for just the two of them, where they stayed together and helped the flashbacks. It's what caused their relationship and it was clear that Steve wasn't holding up his end, wasn't trying hard enough for this to work.

"I know," Steve relented, slid the hand from his neck down his side and into his pocket; the other fell loosely by his side. "I know, Sam, but I don't decide when some bad guy shows up and I have to go off on a mission. You can't tag along on all of them."

Sam shook his head, hands balled into fists at his side. "Don't even try to turn this on me," he argued. More silence overcame them, overwhelmed them, and the intensity was suffocating. Sam let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding as he looked up at Steve with sad eyes. "This is about him, isn't? About Barnes?"

It always was. And it was obvious how Steve was about to protest. How he was going to deny any bit of truth related to that. But he had made a promise not to lie to Sam, once, and he wasn't about to break that promise. So he sat down, offered a sympathetic look. "Stark said he had a lead, I had to check it out."

"You were gone for three days," Sam said in exasperation, getting increasingly frustrated. This was getting nowhere.

The blond just stood again, reached out for Sam though thought better of it as he saw what seemed like a twitch, and not a good one. "I was busy," Steve said softly, clearly looking apologetic, but it didn't make the cut. Sam just got angrier.

"That's always your excuse," he said rancorously. And both stopped talking. That was generally where the conversation would end. They would silently agree to argue about it in the morning, though they never followed through, and they'd walk back to bed and curl up together like nothing had happened. But this time, Sam broke the silence. He broke the unspoken rule. "It's time to pick, Steve. Him or me."

It was an ultimatum. The worst Sam could have given. And Steve looked heartbroken. They both knew what the answer was. Steve always picked Bucky, Sam knew that before anything happened between them. They just both seemed to think it would be easier to deal with than it actually was.

"Sam, come on, we can... we can work through this," Steve pleaded, but it was no use. There was no change in the Falcon's demeanor and Steve knew the man was serious this time; he had to choose. "I'm sorry," he said simply and there wasn't a need to elaborate. They both knew what it meant.

"Don't be. I was the one stupid enough to think I could live with this, with you loving him." His emotions were mixed, blended together loosely, in a way that still allowed bits of them to be pulled out. "You do love him, don't you?"

There was a moment wherein Steve said nothing, just stared. But then he nodded, looked Sam straight in the eye. "I do. And it was never my intention to hurt you, but..." Their eyes caught each other and they both knew what Steve was about to say. Sam silently encouraged Steve to continue anyway. "It was always going to be him," he breathed just barely loud enough to be heard by himself, let alone Sam.

But Sam offered half a smile, despite his heart breaking. "Yeah, it was always going to be him..." He sighed, crossed his arms over his chest. "Guess you meant it seriously when you said you lost your partner in the war."

And there was more silence. More tension. More questions, less answers. Steve didn't want to have to deal with it. He wanted someone to hold him and tell him everything was fine... but it wasn't. Was it?

"I'll catch the next flight to New York, get out of your hair..." the blond suggested, but Sam shook his head.

"Stay on the couch tonight. We can get Tony to send for your stuff tomorrow."