"Hard at work, hey?"
Steve glances up, a ready smile at the familiar voice. He tosses the datapad aside and rolls over on the bed to angle his screen so he can see Bucky's face better. He touches Bucky's face, longing to touch him in the flesh. Bucky reaches up too and their fingers brush together on the screen.
"You know me," Steve says, leaning back against his pillows, "always busy." He holds the datapad up to the screen so Bucky can see that it's a particularly frivolous period novel he's been reading, set on Earth in the early 21st century. Bucky's soft laughter warms him.
"Didn't mean to keep you up waiting for me," Bucky says, smile fading a little. "We've had delays on the hyperspatial jumps three more times now... it's gonna take at least an extra week to get to the 14s at this rate." His frustration is evident and Steve makes an appropriate noise of sympathy. Bucky's airwing was on Thotor naval aircarriers heading for 14-OH-1 and 14-OH-2 for a seven month operation against the HYDRA forces infesting the two systems, and they'd been in transit a week already because of mechanical faults.
"I did offer to loan you my personal courier ship," Steve reminds him and he's not entirely joking. The thought of having Bucky around for longer while the rest of the airwing took the month long trip was very tempting, despite the fact they'd just spent six weeks together between the remainder of their furlough on Earth and ops training on the Thotor homeworld.
Bucky laughs. "As much as I woulda loved to stick around and do some damage to your libido, you know I gotta ship with the squadron." His voice roughens slightly, the way it does when he's aroused, and he leans in towards the screen a little. "You're cruel to show me what I'm missing out on, though."
Steve glances down a moment at his bare chest and then back up with a grin. He's only awake because he's been waiting for Bucky to call, and he knows Bucky'll know that means he's naked under the sheet around his hips. Steve shifts a little, knees bent as he spreads his legs, just one of the little movements he's already learnt will get Bucky all hot under the collar (and he's not let down, the hiss of Bucky's breath audible).
"I hate you," Bucky says. "You're there, you're naked and you're deliberately winding me up and there's not a goddamned thing I can do about it." He licks his lips and his expression brightens. "Maybe you could, y'know, put on a show for me."
Steve blushes, suddenly flustered at the thought, because even with all the sex they've had in the short time they've been together, none of it has happened with a thousand light years between them. Steve hadn't even thought what they might do to get around it. He'd just assume that they'd... wait.
"Bucky, I don't--here, I just--these documents have come through," he stammers instead. Very smooth, he thinks, trying to will the blush away as he reaches for a folder on the desk by the other side of the bed. The movement gives Bucky a good view of his back down to the curve of his bare buttock, and when he turns back Bucky's sitting there with his chin in his hand, looking thoroughly smitten.
They stare at each other for a few dopey moments of mutual appreciation before Steve shakes himself, flipping open the folder to pull out a couple of plasheets. He's a little nervous when he says, "You'll be pleased to know," holding up the top sheet to the screen so Bucky can see it, "that we're now officially registered as a couple in Her Majesty's Royal Defence Force."
"That'll be a load off your mind then," Bucky says, trying to sound enthused. He hadn't been particularly interested registering because he thought it was no one's damn business but theirs, and then Steve had made a joke about Bucky wanting to keep him his dirty secret which went down like a lead balloon, and it was all on. As first arguments as a couple went, it was a doozy.
With that in mind, Steve appreciates Bucky's making an effort and makes a satisfied noise of agreement. As he'd tried to explain to Bucky, he wasn't going to have either of them jump through hoops or go through any of the indignities unregistered couples went through if one of them was hurt or ill. Not if they didn't have to. Which apparently...
"I also got this excerpt released for you," Steve continues, "Wasn't easy, mind, but I know you were interested." He holds up a second sheet to the screen.
Bucky squints at it. "You're gonna have to read it to me," he says. "Can't read it when you're waving it all over the place."
Steve clears his throat. "It's an excerpt from our official records," he says, "regarding the status of our... friendship. We've got comments here from everyone from Logistics Officer Martin at the trading centre on Earth through to S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Fury. There are even comments from your Group Captain and Wing Commander."
Bucky snorts. "They'd have to be nicer than the ones on my personal record," he says. "Everyone likes you, after all."
Steve ignores him and continues. "This excerpt is dated 18 months ago: 'the general consensus,' it says, 'is that Commander Steven Rogers of Her Majesty's Royal Navy and Squadron Leader James Buchanan Barnes of Her Majesty's Royal Air Force are in an unofficial, monogamous union that predates enlistment in Her Majesty's Royal Defence Force. As such, it is of my opinion as Chief of the Defence Force, that Commander Rogers and Squadron Leader Barnes should be considered and treated in all respects as if they were in an officially recognised union.' He adds a postscript that he hopes we'll lodge our papers soon." Steve beams at the screen.
"So I was right then," Bucky says. "We didn't need to register." Steve glares, because seriously, Bucky isn't going to start this again is he? Then Bucky's mouth twitches into a grin and if he was right there Steve would've punched him for it. "It's okay, Stevie, whatever makes you happy. You know I love you regardless." There's nothing subtle at all about the way Bucky eyes wander down his body. "Parts of you, anyway."
"I knew it," Steve says with theatrical despair, his heartbeat kicking up a notch at the look on Bucky's face, "you only love me for my amazing body." He looks down, making an exaggeratedly impressed cooing noise at himself, trailing his fingers slowly across his abdomen. And okay, yeah, actually touching himself in front of Bucky like this, even just jokingly... He doesn't look up before he slides his fingers under the fold of the sheet where it pools at his waist, catching his bottom lip between his teeth because... he could. He really could.
"God, yes." When Steve looks up, Bucky's leaning right in to the screen, eyes dark and lips parted. Steve inches his hand further under the sheet until his fingers graze against his half-hard cock, and Bucky lets out a soft, frustrated whine. "Steve, I want to see."
"Buck, do you--" Steve stops, clears his throat, and tries again. "Do you have enough room to push back so maybe I--so I can see you too?"
It takes Bucky a moment to realise what Steve's asking but when he does, he says, "Jesus, Steve, I'll rearrange this whole ship if that's what it takes." There's a flurry of movement on the other side of the screen and then it shows Bucky again, a look of absolute anguish plastered across his face. "The bed's bolted down," he says, and it's terrible but Steve can't help laughing. It starts as a giggle, but Bucky's wide-eyed outrage that Steve would laugh at him like this completely breaks Steve and he doubles over, face mashed into a pillow to smother his howls of laughter.
"Steve, stop--stop it."
It just makes Steve laugh even harder.
"Ohh," Steve says, thumbing the tears from his eyes when he's recovered enough of his composure (and it's not easy when every time he looks up he sees Bucky's frustrated scowl). He peers sadly under the sheet and then peeks up at Bucky, still struggling to keep a straight face. "Oh, I'm sorry, Buck, but I don't think there's going to be dinner and a show tonight. Maybe next time."
Bucky gapes at him, slumping back in his chair. "I hate you. I actually hate you. How can your--your superhuman DNA do this to me?"
Steve presses a kiss to his fingers, then to the screen. "Goodnight, Buck." It's mean, but Steve reaches for the 'close call' button.
"Steve, don’t--Steve, don't you dare--"
The screen goes dark.
Steve's just set himself up for a world of revenge, but even though Bucky might do everything he can to get back at Steve for cutting him off, Steve also knows that next time they have a call Bucky will have rearranged his sleeping pod, just in case. Even if he has to unbolt the bed with his teeth to do it.
Steve slumps back against the pillows with a content smile. He looks forward to it.