The evening light slants in through the window, painting everything Bucky can see with a pale, dusty shade of gold. Natasha sits in the huge easy chair in Sam’s living room, flipping idly through one of the old photo albums Sam keeps inside the ottoman. Bucky, sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the coffee table, pretends to be more engrossed in the knife he’s whetting than the way the sunlight hits the braids in Natasha’s hair, the red so bright and flamelike he imagines a halo of smoke rising from the crown of her head.
The dog barks. She’s bigger than Bucky remembers, taller and more solid than the shrimp he left behind a year before. She walks better than she did, though the force of her tail waving threatens to knock her down. She rolls onto her back, then back to her feet when Bucky finally kneels, unable to control his face. “How did you find her?” he asks, burying his hands in the thick fur of her neck.