“I cannot believe you right now! I am so embarrassed.”

“No you’re not.”

“Fine. I’m not. Did you grab a paper?”

“I got it.”

“Good, now flip to the personals.”

I search until I find the section she’s talking about and scan the page, but nothing sticks out to me.

“I don’t see anything.”

“Look again. Closely.”

“I don’t—”

Holy shit.

Right there in the center of the page, there’s a huge box that’s clearly written by Shep.

Captain America Apologizes: Part One

Bucky,

I’m sorry for bailing on dibs.

I’m sorry for blaming everyone else’s failures for my own.

I’m sorry I didn’t give us a chance.

I’m sorry I treated you like you were nothing to me, especially when you were everything.

Most of all, I’m sorry for not believing in us like I should have.

Text me baby, one more time.

910-555-1027

“What the hell?” I mutter out loud.

“That’s for you, right? I’m not wrong, am I?”

“No, that’s definitely for me.”

“I don’t get why he’s calling you Bucky or himself Captain America, but everything else made sense that it would be Shep. Plus, that is definitely his phone number. Is he an idiot or something? Does he not know how many creeps he’s going to get blowing up his phone?”

“He’s stupid, that’s for sure.” I smile. Bucky and Cap has always been our thing. Just us. Not even Allie and AJ know. “Why were you reading the personals?”

“Because I’m curious, duh. I always like to see those missed connection write-ups. Anyway, I hope he gets a gross dick pic, like one covered in warts or something real gnarly like that.”

I laugh. “That is disgusting, but it would also be well deserved.”

“So…are you going to text him?”

“I’m…I’m not sure, Allie. I don’t know if I’m ready.”

“I think you should make him sweat.” She cackles. “It would be hysterical.”

“You’re kind of evil today.”

“Am I? Oops.” Only she doesn’t sound sorry at all. “I shouldn’t be like that to him, though. I mean, he did just pay for our honeymoon and all.”

The phone nearly slips out of my hand.

“W-What?”

“I didn’t tell you? Shep is the only reason we were able to have a honeymoon. He paid for the entire thing and surprised us with plane tickets the week before the wedding. All we had to do was get the days off work. Luckily, our bosses were insanely understanding.”

I had no idea Shep did that for them.

“He didn’t mention it at all in the weeks leading up to the big day?”

“Not a peep. I’m kind of…”

“Shocked? Yeah, I was too. I mean, Shep has always been good to me and AJ, but I never expected this. He went all out, too. The only thing we paid for was souvenirs. He thought of everything, even in-flight drinks.”

Allie clears her throat, and I know I’m about to get an earful.

“Listen, I do think you should make him sweat it out. I think you should make him grovel, but…I also think you should give him a second chance. What he did to Delia was wrong and horrible and I want to kick him square in the nuts for it, but I’ve also known Shep for a lot of years now and I have never seen him be anything but kind. A little egotistical and a bit of a horndog, yes, but never mean for the sake of being mean. He’s a good guy. He’s just a dumbass sometimes.”

I sigh. “I know that. I really do. I just…I want to be sure, you know?”

“You can’t be unless you give him a chance, unless you take that leap.”

“I know,” I say again.

“I gotta run. Lunch break is over, but call me later, yeah? Let’s grab dinner some night this week. I’m still pissed I missed out on your girls’ night where you confessed your love for Delia and tried to replace me.”

“I would never.”

“Uh huh. Say that to the video evidence I have. Love you, Denny.”

“Love you too, Mrs. Sutton.”

We end the call and I pick the paper back up, reading Shep’s apology again.

Then again. And again.

By the fourth time, I feel it. That block of ice that formed around my heart two weeks ago at the wedding…it begins to thaw.

For the first time in what feels like too long, I have hope.

Thirty-Four

Cap

Captain America Apologizes: Part Two

Bucky,

I’m sorry for that one time at the paper when I told everyone you wrote like a kindergartener. Clearly you were first-grade level.

Or those times when I bragged loudly about my weekend escapades.

And for stealing that one article on repainting the parking lot from you. It was a stupid article, but you deserved it a lot more than I did.

But I’m not sorry for joining the paper because it meant I got to be closer to you. I’m not sorry for staring at you across the room, for making you stay late because I was pushing my deadline until the absolute max. Those stolen moments, the ones where it was just us (I mean, that one weirdo kid with the glasses was there too, but he was practically invisible) made it possible for me to breathe through all the chaos in my life.

Even though you hated me through it all, I need to thank you for that.

So. Yeah. Thank you.

Text me.

910-555-1027

Captain America Apologizes: Part Three

Bucky,

I’m sorry for all those times you had to see me walking across campus holding the hand of another girl.

Mostly, though, I’m sorry that girl wasn’t you.

Text me.

910-555-1027

Captain America Apologizes: Part Four

Bucky,

There’s a huge part of me that doesn’t want to apologize for punching that guy over the way he was talking about you, but you were right—I used that as an excuse for really bad behavior. I’m a grown adult. I know better than to swing at someone like that.

That’s not who I want to be.

I want to be better than that.

I want to be worthy of you.

(Btw, I’m not sorry for wanting that either.)

Text me, one more time.

910-555-1027

Captain America Apologizes: Part Five

Bucky,

I’m sorry for not saying sorry before I did.

I’m sorry for not being the man you thought I was.

I swear, he’s still in here.

If you give me the chance, I can prove it to you.

Text me.

910-555-1027

Captain America Apologizes: Part Six

Bucky,

They won’t let me buy any more ad space. (You really need to talk to them about this.) So I only have one more shot at this.

I’ve apologized for many things over the last few days, but there’s one thing I can’t and never will be sorry for.

Loving you.

I love you, Buck. More than you can ever imagine. I know I’ve sucked at showing it over and over again, but that doesn’t change how I feel.

I love you. I never stopped loving you. I always will.

End of the line, Bucky. End of the line.

Text me, Bucky. Please. Just one more time.

910-555-1027

P.S. Steve misses you.

Thirty-Five

Present day

Denver: Okay. You have my attention.

Shepard: Thank fuck.

Shepard: It was Steve, wasn’t it?

Denver: Duh.

Shepard: Do you know how many dick pics I got? So. Many. I never want to look at another penis again.

Denver: Do you do that a lot? Look at penises?

Shepard: Well hell, I walked right into that one, didn’t I?

Shepard: I meant, like, my own. I don’t even want to look at my own penis.

Denver: Your poor, poor three inches.

Shepard: I miss you.

Denver: I know you do.

Shepard: This is when you say, “I miss you too, Shep.”

Denver: Oh, it is?

Denver: Fine. I miss you too, Shep. A lot.

Shepard: Are you still pissed at me?

Denver: Yes.

Denver: But I don’t think that’s going to go away soon. I think I’m going to be mad for some time, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean I can push all the other feelings I have toward you away too.

Shepard: I meant every word I said in the paper.

Denver: I believe you.

Denver: How did you know I’d even see it?

Shepard: Um, because you WORK at the paper. Duh.

Denver: You do know I don’t read the entire thing, right?

Shepard: You don’t?

Denver: No. Blew Allie’s mind too.

Shepard: Is she how you found out about it then?

Denver: Yes. She reads it for the missed connections crap. She has me addicted to them now too.

Shepard: I could kiss Allie right now.

Denver: Can you please stop trying to make out with my best friend?

Shepard: I would if I had someone else to make out with…*wink*

Denver: The winking was redundant. I totally got that you were talking about yourself.

Shepard: Oh.

Shepard: DOWNLOAD ATTACHMENT

Denver: I didn’t think it was possible, but he got cuter.

Shepard: Thank you. I get that a lot.

Denver: I obviously meant Steve.

Denver: But I appreciate you trying to include yourself in that picture.

Shepard: Just wanted you to see what you’re missing.

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