You had to seriously fight the urge to sigh dramatically when, for the millionth time, you heard two pairs of feet catching up to you and Sam. There was no escape, and maybe there never would be.
“On your left,” said Steve, easily passing Sam.
“On your right,” called Bucky, blasting past you.
“Man, they don't even sound tired at all,” Sam whined. Both of you were breathing heavily, close to being done for the morning. These runs had become something of bonding time in your little group, and despite the teasing from the two super soldiers, you wouldn't go back to exercising on your own any time soon. The teasing was their way of goading you and Sam on, but it didn't mean you hadn't been thinking of a little comeback.
“Hey Sam, I got an idea,” you panted out. A quick glance over at him let you know you had his attention. “Next time they come up behind us on the track, we should trip them.”
“Oh come on, if they can't stop it or recover from it, then they deserve to eat a little of our dust for a change. It'll only work once anyway, and I'm tired of how cocky they're getting.” Looking over at him, you gave him your best trouble making grin, trying to get him to go along with the plan.
When he returned the look you felt a surge of excited energy go through you. “They're coming up, get ready.”
You and Sam started to ease up a little, with no need to pretend to look as tired as you did. You could hear Steve and Bucky getting closer again and you tried to find a good stride. As soon as you tripped Bucky you'd have to bolt, so you had to be ready.
“On you-” Neither Bucky nor Steve had a chance to finish their taunt, caught completely off guard by your coordinated attack. You didn't wait to hear them hit the ground before taking off at a dead sprint.
“Go, go, go!” Sam yelled from beside you as you stifled playful giggles. A quick peek behind you showed you that Steve and Bucky had already recovered and were in pursuit.
“So we're playing dirty today, huh?” Steve asked, sounding much closer than either of you expected. He tackled Sam, and you just barely managed to dodge them as they fell to the ground. Still laughing a little, you tried to run even faster, knowing that Bucky was coming after you. When you saw him pull up beside you, you tried to dash to the side to escape, but he grabbed your arm and pulled you into him. The sudden shift in momentum caused you both to fall down. You worked to break his grip and roll away, but he held on and rolled with you so he was lying on you. Tired from your run, you didn't struggle much more than that. That burst of speed was the last bit of wild energy you had left.
“And here I thought I could trust you,” Bucky said, voice full of mock hurt. The triumphant grin he was throwing your way made sure there was no doubt that he wasn't the least bit hurt at all, the smug bastard.
“Loyalty is worthless before breakfast,” you groaned. Futilely, you attempted to push him off so you could get up, but he didn't even budge. “Come on, Buck, let me up.”
The look he gave you contained so much mischief and intent you could practically hear the wind-up. “But I thought you wanted me on the ground?” Before you could think of something snarky enough to reply with, you saw Steve and Sam stop walking next to you two. Both of them looked smudged with sand and dirt, and you could only imagine how much was going to stick to you when you finally got up. Worth it, you thought all the same.
“Come on, lovebirds, let's get going. I need a shower and food,” said Sam.
Bucky finally lifted himself off of you, and when you stuck out a hand, he grabbed it to help you up. Just as you had thought, anywhere on your body that had touched the ground was covered with sand. Well, at least it isn't just me that's filthy, was the only thing you could think while you brushed yourself off as best you could. A shower sounded downright heavenly, and you were certain that finally getting to eat a proper meal would be even more so. Next time you'd absolutely have to double-check how good your idea for trouble-making was before going through with it, maybe wait until after all the hard work was done.
As you all began to walk back to the car you had taken to get here, Steve broke the silence. “Since you and Sam lost, I think it's only fair you two pay for breakfast. What do you think Bucky?”
“Hold on a second, lost? The hell did we lose?” Sam asked, clearly a little upset.
“Sounds good to me,” Bucky said.
You could only groan and suppress the urge to roll your eyes. You should have known this was coming. “No way, you two eat like horses. And I'm with Sam, we didn't lose anything. You old men were the ones who got jumped. Some super soldiers you are, getting tripped like kids. You guys should buy for us.”
“You attacked not just one, but both of your commanding officers, and got caught. That means you lost the fight. Your punishment is to buy breakfast.” Steve wasn't going to go down without a fight, but even though you would normally rise to the bait, you just weren't feeling it this morning.
“Attacked? And what's this about commanding officers?” Sam started to argue, but you cut him off with a wave of your hand.
“You win, Steve. Too tired for our usual shenanigans, so expect payback later. I'll cover this one, Sam. It was my idea in the first place. It was worth it to keep from getting lapped for once,” you said, just barely managing to finish before you yawned.
“Nah, I got you, girl. I'm just as guilty as you are. If we're gonna go down, we might as well go down together.” Sam and you exchanged a quick fist bump at this show of solidarity.
When the four of you reached the rental car, you pushed Bucky into the rear driver's seat, fully intending on using him as a pillow the whole way back to the hotel. In some ways you missed being back home in New York, your little apartment in Brooklyn was a dream come true, but it was nice not having to worry about chores on top of the world-saving that came with your job. Not having to walk or use public transport everywhere was also lovely. As soon as you and Bucky were buckled up in the back seat you leaned over onto his shoulder, and when his arm wrapped around your shoulders you knew he had gotten the hint. You told yourself that you were just resting your eyes, that you weren't going to fall asleep, that it was only a couple minute ride back and you weren't that tired, but you were asleep before the car left the parking lot, lulled quickly and quietly by a thumb soothing circles into your side and the comfort of a familiar embrace.