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we are the things that we do for fun

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Bucky glanced down at the small card in his hand, checked the address, then nervously looked back up at the building. He was unmistakably in the right place.

Part of him would have preferred to be lost. That way he could have gone home and saved face in front of Natasha. The G train got held up, it was such a mess, I got there two hours late, and then I couldn’t find the—

He was not late, and the number was right there on the façade, an elegant golden 616, impossible to miss. Bucky wasn’t sure what he’d expected. An industrial zone, maybe. Or a suspicious-looking massage parlor, with painted-over windows. Both of which, granted, were very unlikely in this part of Manhattan, but—still. Instead he was standing in front of a huge white marble building, with busy people in suits rushing in and out of the revolving doors, checking their phones and invariably cursing at them between their teeth. Bucky was staying well out of the way in case they bowled him over. He was pretty sure the ground floor was a bank.

He stood there for another minute. Then he shouldered his bag and finally crossed the street, with hurried strides, staring at the ground. He went up the marble steps, walked through the revolving doors, and made a beeline across the lobby for the elevators. Those, too, were absurdly fancy, all rosewood and gilded edges, pinging softly when the doors opened.

First floor. Bucky pressed the button and swallowed, glancing at himself in the narrow mirror. Should he tie up his hair? God, maybe he should have shaved. But his looks didn’t matter, probably. He was the client here, he didn’t have to make a good impression. Right?

It was too late to run back out anyway.

 

*

 

The elevator stopped with a soft ding. Bucky didn’t get out, working up his nerve, wishing his stomach would unknot.

Eventually, the doors started closing; he startled and stepped out, prompting them to re-open. The hallway was as fancy as the rest of the building, soft carpet muffling his steps, beautiful doors carefully numbered.

Bucky swallowed. The elevator doors soundlessly closed again behind him. Pull yourself together, c’mon. The door he wanted was at the end of the hall, number 107.

Stupidly he’d expected a plaque, like for a dentist or doctor. But of course there was nothing.

He walked there, raised his metal hand, then thought better of it and knocked with his right fist.

“Coming,” said a voice inside.

Steps, locks turning, and then…

Bucky blinked. There stood a small, blue-eyed guy, who looked politely surprised to see him.

“Um—hello,” Bucky croaked, stomach plummeting. He hadn’t thought someone else would be there. “I’m… I’m here to see Steve Rogers.” He held up the card. “I’m Natasha’s friend?”

The little guy blinked, then beamed at him.

“Bucky, right?” He held out his hand. “I’m Steve.”

Bucky opened his mouth, but thankfully found nothing to say and promptly shook hands instead. That guy was Steve Rogers?

“Hi,” he managed.

“Please, come in.” Steve stepped back, waited for Bucky to duck inside, and then locked the door.

Bucky looked around. The apartment was bright and pleasantly decorated, if a bit on the bland side. Gleaming floorboards, a potted plant with dark glossy leaves. Rattan chairs, pinewood dressers, exposed beams. Fancy zen.

As he walked in, he finally saw something out of the ordinary: a thick straw mat in the corner, with bundles of colored ropes neatly stacked next to it. All very innocuous, still.

“Not what you expected?” Steve said behind him.

There was a knowing smile on his face when Bucky turned around. It needled him enough that he finally found his voice.

“Well, it’s pretty tame for a dungeon.”

Steve laughed. “Been in a lot of those?”

Bucky cracked a smile. “Not really.”

“Alright, can I get you something? Tea, or…?”

“Tea’s good.” Bucky sat on the couch and rested his hands on his thighs, so he wouldn’t start fidgeting. The silence in the apartment was thick like cotton; the windows must be double-paned, the walls soundproof. Couldn’t let the neighbors overhear what was going on in here.

Bucky’s prosthetic whined and whirred in the quiet.

Steve came back from the kitchen, balancing two cups and a pot of tea on a tray. For some reason, Bucky couldn’t look away from Steve’s bare feet; they seemed slightly too big for him—his hands, too, like he should have grown up to be taller and broader, but something had gotten in the way. Bucky kinda hated himself for focusing on how small he was. As if it mattered.

Steve’s blond hair was getting in his eyes, in sharp contrast with his dark clothing; and when he looked up at Bucky after putting the tray down, his eyes were huge and very blue, completely earnest.

Maybe it’s a joke, Bucky thought miserably. Maybe this is Nat’s idea of a joke. But of course it wasn’t;  there were the ropes, the mat. He was in the right place.

“Okay,” Steve said, pulling a chair to sit on the other side of the coffee table. “Here…”

He poured Bucky his tea. It was very dark, with a rich, complex smell. Bucky picked up his cup, then briefly panicked—was he supposed to ask for permission to drink?

But since Steve didn’t seem to expect anything from him, Bucky took a careful sip. It was good tea. His stomach was still tied up, though, and he put the cup back down.

“So, first things first,” Steve said. “Why’d you come here today?”

Bucky blinked dumbly at him.

“Gotta use words,” Steve said with a half-smile.

“I…” Bucky slightly straightened up. “I’m not sure what you want me to say. I thought Natasha had explained—”

“You just look so tense. Almost feels like you don’t wanna be here, is all.”

Bucky berated himself. Maybe Steve didn’t look the part, but he must be good at his job. Natasha wouldn’t recommend just anyone. And, Bucky reminded himself as he rubbed his metal forearm, he wasn’t in a position to judge books by their covers. He had to give Steve a chance, if only because the guy was being polite and—indeed—professional.

“Start at the beginning,” Steve suggested. “Tell me about yourself.”

Bucky licked his lips. “Okay. Um. I’ve always had these… fantasies? Like… being tied up and that kind of stuff? It wasn’t even sexual at first, it started really young. As far as I can remember, actually. It was always… there. It’s always been there.”

Steve was listening intently, letting his tea go cold.

“I grew up, found about S&M stuff, as you do. Um, jerked off to it a lot. Then I left for college and I thought I might wanna try the real deal. So I asked my hook-ups to get a little rough. If they wanted.”

“And that didn’t work out?”

Bucky was still rubbing his forearm. “It was nice, but—I mean, it was college, you know? None of us really had any idea what we were doing.”

Fidgeting. Dammit. He wedged his hands under his armpits, then changed his mind, because he would need props for this part.

“I thought I’d try the actual kink scene after graduating. Went to a fetish party. Mostly watched. I was gearing up to go back, but then...” He tugged off his glove and showed Steve’s his metal fingers. “Got in a car accident.”

Steve looked surprised, almost reached out to touch Bucky’s hand, then stopped himself.

“How long?” he asked.

“Three years ago. Had the prosthetic for two years. It goes up to the shoulder.”

“Okay,” Steve asked. He rubbed the back of his head. “We might need to talk more about it. Triggers, stuff like that, so I don’t mess up. If we take this anywhere, of course.”

“Yeah, sure,” was all Bucky said, which was kind of shitty. He could have made an effort to sound more enthusiastic about it.

He thought of putting his glove back on, then decided against it. He might be nervous, but he didn’t feel self-conscious about his arm at all, which was usually a good sign. Ever since he’d gotten this thing, he’d become increasingly attuned to the vibes people gave off, quicker to like or dislike them on a hunch. Steve was good that way. Bucky was pretty sure.

“Finding partners wasn’t that easy before,” Bucky went on. “But now I also need people who don’t mind the robot arm. And I’ve wanted to get back in the game for a while but it’s been…”

“Difficult?” Steve supplied.

“Disastrous,” Bucky said, prompting an almost-laugh from him. “And—Nat’s a sex worker too, you probably know that, and the other day she just came out and gave me your card and said you were the best in the business and… Well. Here I am.”

He swallowed.

“And yeah, I guess I am nervous,” he added, so sincerity might make up for his obvious lack of eagerness. “It’s just… I don’t know, this is very different from what I imagined.”

He hoped he hadn’t been insulting, but Steve just smiled. “All the same, you’re not a total beginner.”

Bucky blinked. “I kind of am, though?”

Steve laughed. “You’re really not. I got clients who came in like ‘I just thought I’d try something new today’ or ‘I read this Fifty Shades of Grey thing and…’”

Bucky laughed too, surprising himself. “S’good to hear you don’t follow that particular gospel.”

“Buddy, no self-respecting kinkster does,” Steve said, sipping his tea. “But I don’t blame those clients. We all gotta start somewhere, and it’s part of my job to educate people. Oh, by the way—”

He opened a drawer in the coffee table and got out a pen and paper. On it, he wrote:

 

B   D   S   M

 

“Do you know what it means?”

“Huh? Yeah. Something like… Bondage, Dominance and Sado-Masochism?”

“Not exactly.” Steve started circling letters and writing words. “It’s three acronyms in one. Bondage & Discipline, Domination & Submission, and Sadism & Masochism. Anything in there you don’t relate to?”

Bucky was kind of puzzled by this approach. Vaguely, he’d been envisioning sultry smiles, a leather-clad man who’d tell him what a pretty boy he was, how nice he’d look on his knees, that sort of stuff. Kind of silly. But this other end of the spectrum, filling out forms and discussing kink theory in a clean, bland room—it might just feel a bit ridiculous, too.

Still, he answered. “No, all of them sound pretty good…” He eyed the word discipline, let it ripple through his body. He’d always had an organic reaction to it. Submission. Bondage. To be tied up, to be gagged, to be controlled. “Yeah,” he said hoarsely.

“See? You know what you’re about,” Steve grinned. “What about hard limits?”

“I don’t have any,” Bucky said quickly.

Steve just raised an eyebrow. “Wanna try that again?”

Bucky felt a thrill go down his spine, which took him entirely by surprise.

It suddenly hit him how close he was to the real thing. Steve was the real thing. He didn’t look like porn because porn was not real life. This was real life. This was a real Dom.

Bucky opened his mouth. ”I… uh, I’m sorry, I—”

“Looks like I won’t have to teach you how to apologize,” Steve grinned.

Bucky blushed. This was absurd. A minute ago he’d been thoroughly disappointed and now—now this?

“It’s okay,” Steve said. “Kind of a broad question. I’ll narrow it down.” He reopened the drawer and got out an actual form.

All of Bucky’s hesitant arousal fell flat. “Seriously?”

“Seriously. Don’t worry, we won’t get into the finer stuff, just trying to get a general outline. Okay. Sex?”

Bucky blinked, at sea again. “Are you… offering?”

“You are, Bucky,” Steve reminded him, leveling him with a calm blue stare. “I’m just making sure what, exactly, you’re offering me.”

And back to being confusedly turned on. Bucky was getting whiplash.

“Sex is—” He had to clear his throat. “Not a problem.” Then parts of his brain came back online. “Always with a condom, though.”

“Oh yeah, of course.”

Steve’s casualness made Bucky shift in his seat. It was silly again—Steve was a sex worker and Bucky was his client, he should be feeling on top of things, at least during the negotiation partbut he had just agreed, in a painfully explicit way, to be fucked by this complete stranger. It turned him on, a thrill riding the edge of fear, making his heart thump in his chest.

“Pain?” Steve asked next, as he ticked boxes and jotted down notes on his actual freaking kink form.

“Yes,” Bucky said emphatically.

Steve grinned at him again—which brought on another clear trickle of epiphany. This scrawny little guy was a bona fide sadist. He wouldn’t just indulge Bucky; he would actively enjoy hurting him. He was wired that way.

Bucky looked around the room with a new eye. It looked innocuous, but some of the seats were actually wooden chests, masquerading under white pillows. Drawers with nice round handles, sanded down to a fault. The whole room was a neat packaging for something potentially much darker. Maybe not to scare the newbies. Or maybe so Steve would keep the element of surprise.

“Bucky?” Steve had finished writing and was looking at him. “You with me?”

“Yeah, just…” Bucky looked at him, saw his bare feet and his cornflower blue eyes, his angel blond hair; but also his stark black clothes and his capable, callused hands.

He had to swallow, shift in his seat again. Christ. Was he filling up?

“M’starting to think this place really fits you, is all.”

Steve’s eyes twinkled like he knew exactly what Bucky was saying—and even more, like he was delighted to have someone understand what he was going for. Or maybe Bucky was just completely off his rocker. Like Steve could follow his train of thoughts—seriously? Twinkling eyes? Projecting. Completely projecting.

“Alright,” Steve said. “Humiliation?”

“Uh, I guess?” Bucky said, trying to focus. “I like the idea of it, but… I never really got around to…”

His voice trailed off. Steve nodded. “It’s a broad one too. We’ll come back to it.”

He wrote down a few more words. Without thinking, Bucky leaned forward to see—and Steve snapped his fingers under his nose.

“No.”

Bucky jerked back.

Steve looked up at him. “So,” he said evenly, like nothing had happened. “Restraints?”

Bucky was flustered and it showed. It had been showing from the beginning. He was so completely see-through. Steve, on the other hand, was at ease, in his element.

“Restraints?” he repeated. “Yes or no?”

“Yes,” Bucky breathed. He didn’t add anything else.

Steve jotted it down, then asked, “Fluids?”

Bucky almost said yes again, then stopped and thought about it. “No… no blood,” he said, then felt compelled to add, “for now? Who knows. But—no piss, no shit. Ever. I don’t think.”

“Good to know,” Steve said, scratching his nose with his pen. “Scatophilia’s one of my hard limits anyway. You wouldn’t believe the business I’m losing over it.”

Bucky blinked. “You have limits too?”

“Of course. I’m just a guy, you know. Like I said, scatophilia, and also breathplay—it’s fun as a fantasy, but way too dangerous in real life. There’s also a few kinds of roleplay I won’t do. And… I think that’s it, actually.”

He leaned back, surveying his notes.

“Okay, there’ll be a few more things to sort out later—but I think I gotcha figured out, more or less.”

“Oh yeah?” Bucky couldn’t help asking,

“Guess we’ll see.” Steve capped his pen, with a meaningful little click. “One last thing—what’s your safeword?”

“Do I need one?”

Steve raised a Judgmental Eyebrow again. Bucky was disoriented by how strongly he reacted to it and how eagerly he rushed to explain.

“I mean, it’s just—it’s not roleplay. We can just use plain old English. Can’t we?”

Steve nodded, mollified, and Bucky felt ridiculously relieved. He’d done well, he’d given the right answer.

“You’ll have to pick one anyway, sometime soon,” Steve said. “It’s better to have several layers of communication. Of course we can’t tackle everything on the first day, but—”

“The first day?” Bucky repeated.

Steve blinked up at him. For the first time, he looked like he’d been taken off guard.

“I… yes.” His expression shifted to genuine worry. “I’m sorry, did I completely misread this? Are you here for a one-time session?”

“Oh—no, sorry, no, I am looking for… for someone to be my Dom, I guess.” Bucky cleared his throat and looked at his lap. “Like I said, I’ve tried doing this with people I was seeing, or wanted to date—and it never worked. Never meshed. I’m starting to think maybe it can’t. Maybe it’s better if I… separate these two things.”

“I know a few people who got together in the kink scene,” Steve said softly.

Bucky looked back up. “But not a lot of them, right?”

Steve said nothing.

Bucky ran his metal hand through his long hair. “I… I don’t know, I’m tired of stumbling in the dark hoping to get lucky. It’s been so hard dating, even before the accident. And with the prosthetic thrown in, it sometimes feels like I’m hunting for a fucking unicorn—” He licked his lips. “And… I need this so much. Some days it’s so bad, I…”

He shook his head.

“So, yeah. I figured I’d take Nat up on her offer, go to someone who knew their shit. Stop going in circles, you know?”

Steve looked at him for a minute. Then he put down his pen and got to his feet.

“Stand up,” he said.

Bucky instantly obeyed.

“It’s very important to know that you can always back out,” Steve said calmly, hands on his hips. “Even if it’s in the middle of the scene. Even if you’re worried it’ll ruin the mood. Especially if you’re worried it’ll ruin the mood. Got it?”

Bucky nodded.

“Out loud, Buck.”

Bucky blinked at the nickname, but just said, “Got it.” He hesitated, then added, “…sir?”

Steve smiled. “It’s your first day, so you can call me whatever you want.”

Bucky wondered if that meant Steve didn’t want to be called sir. But he didn’t dare asking. Was that a bad thing? Was he anti-communicating? But he didn’t want to be a chatterbox sub either. Oh, great, there he went overthinking everything already. He half-expected Steve to walk to one of the bland drawers and pull out some ungodly instrument of torture; but Steve just looked him up and down, critically.

Then he said, “Do you mind taking your jeans off? S’gonna get uncomfortable otherwise.”

Bucky’s hands automatically went to his belt. He unzipped his pants but felt compelled to add, “I don’t mind uncomfortable.”

“I sure hope you don’t,” Steve grinned. “But rope work in jeans sucks for everyone, believe me.”

Bucky guessed that made sense—jeans would get in the way, make it harder to bend his limbs, and the seams would dig in, the thick cloth would lessen the feel of rope. Speaking of which…

“Rope work?” he repeated, pushing down his pants.

“Yeah,” Steve said brightly. “I always found it was a good way to break the ice.”

Bucky was puzzled again. He’d been expecting Steve to drop his beaming demeanor now that the scene was starting. But it didn’t seem to be happening.

He stepped out of his jeans, then stood there, in a t-shirt and black boxer shorts, feeling slightly awkward. Steve just watched him for a few seconds; then he quickly turned away.

“Come over here.”

They went to the thick straw mat and sat down, cross-legged. Steve plucked some soft-looking red rope and unraveled it, tugging it between his fingers to find both ends. When he had, he put them together and ran the result through his fingers again, so he’d have a doubled-up rope to work with.

“Tell me about your arm,” he said. “Can I treat it like a regular one? Or do you want me to leave it out of my ties entirely?”

For all that he still felt off-kilter, Bucky was relieved Steve had thought of asking.

“It’s very solid, you probably can’t damage it,” he said. “Also, it’s waterproof, and I got everything to clean it up at home. So, wax or ice or—it’s fine.”

He’d fumbled a little saying this, not wanting to make it seem like he was trying to steer Steve in a particular direction. If he did, would Steve indulge him? Would he do something completely different just to prove a point?

“Maybe don’t—don’t suspend me from it, though?”

“I wasn’t gonna,” Steve laughed. “Okay, so what about you?”

Bucky blinked. “Me?”

“Is there any part of your body I can’t touch? Any part I can’t look at? Arm-related or otherwise.”

“No—” Bucky had answered too fast again, he could tell from the look on Steve’s face.

He thought about it, his broken collarbone at age seven, his sprained knee at fourteen. Thought about the scarring on his left shoulder. The initial shock of the accident had rendered him unconscious; he didn’t remember much of it. He didn’t like cars much anymore, got nervous inside of one. But he was pretty sure they wouldn’t be part of Steve’s scene today.

With a little more confidence, he said, “No, it’s all good.”

“Great.” Steve grinned. “Take off your shirt.”

Bucky was surprised by the order—he’d thought Steve wanted him to stay mostly dressed for their first session. Then he realized Steve had been waiting to make sure Bucky wasn’t body shy. Arm-related or otherwise.

“I’m going to blindfold you,” Steve said casually, putting the rope aside. “Is that okay?”

“Uh,” Bucky said, taking off his shirt. “Yes?”

Eyebrow of Judgment again. Bucky instinctively sat straighter. “Yes,” he repeated, without the question mark.

Steve smiled, then rummaged in one of his many drawers and got out a simple cotton scarf, blue with white polka dots. Then he wrinkled his nose and put it back. “No…” he dug again, then went, “Yeah, that’s more your color.”

He had a red scarf in hand—same color as the ropes. Steve shuffled forward and got Bucky to bend his head.

“Tell me if it’s catching on your hair,” he said, tying the scarf over Bucky’s eyes.

“No, it’s—it’s good,” Bucky mumbled. The scarf tightened until darkness took over.

“Can you see anything?”

“No.”

“Sure?” Steve said, tipping Bucky’s chin up with two fingers.

Bucky swallowed, then shook his head. In truth he could see a sliver of light when he strained his eyes down—but he wouldn’t do it. If Steve wanted him to be blind, then Bucky would even keep his eyes closed.

“Okay.” Steve pulled Bucky forward by the scruff of his neck, and Bucky reached out blindly, suddenly almost panicked. He hadn’t expected this and wasn’t sure what to do without visual cues.

“Hey.” Steve caught his wrists and brought them together between their chests. He was kneeling close enough to trap them there. “It’s okay, Buck. Take a deep breath, let it out.”

Bucky would have rolled his eyes, but when he obeyed, he was shocked to realize how shaky his breathing was. Without being told, he breathed again, slowly, in and out, until it sounded steadier to his own ears.

“Very good.” Steve wrapped a hand behind Bucky’s head to bring him close, until he could press his forehead against Steve’s chest, feeling on his skin the soft black cloth of his tank top.

He smelled good, something clean and wholesome, like laundry and chai tea. Bucky inhaled more deeply. He could hear Steve’s heartbeat, strong and steady in his narrow chest. It was a relief to be so close to him, to have gotten started at last. Also so weird to be this close to a stranger, when less than an hour ago Bucky had been in the elevator fretting about meeting him.

Steve’s fingers moved, tangling in Bucky’s long dark hair. He pulled, slowly, hard enough that Bucky had to crane his head, exposing the column of his neck. His breathing didn’t quicken again, but he was suddenly very aware that he was almost naked, and blindfolded, soon to be tied up. He could feel his pulse in his throat.

“Like when I pull your hair?” Steve asked quietly.

Bucky nodded, best as he could. Steve hummed and tugged harder; pain zinged down Bucky’s spine, all the way down to his toes. He breathed deeper, in and out, again, relished the sharp sting of it, he’d missed it so much and now it was there, insistent, making it hard to focus on anything else.

“Okay, let’s get this show on the road.”

Bucky didn’t move, didn’t speak, just stayed pliant in Steve’s grip, hoping it was enough of an answer. Steve let him go and got up. Not being able to watch should have been frustrating, but it was in fact the opposite. Nothing was up to Bucky. He didn’t have to follow, to be aware, to be active. He could only wait for things to be done to him.

Unconsciously, he’d kept his wrists together, and Steve made a small amused noise when he came back with his rope to strap them.

“The thing is,” he said softly, tightening the knot, “I’ve never worked with a prosthetic before. I’ll need you to tell me if keeping your wrists pressed together like that is cutting off the blood flow in your right arm. Okay?”

Bucky thought it sounded totally sensible. Solid idea, good plan.

“Bucky?”

“Sorry. Yes,” Bucky rasped.

Steve said nothing for a moment; then he put a hand behind Bucky’s neck again. “You okay?” he said, thumb brushing his skin. “You’re going nonverbal.”

“Yes,” Bucky said again, with an intense effort. “Means—I’m good. Promise I’ll tell you if something’s wrong.”

Steve waited another second, then simply said, “Alright then,” and kissed Bucky’s cheek.

He slowly pushed him backwards, getting him to lie down on his back. Then he prompted him to arch up his hips until they were completely off the ground. Bucky’s upper body rested on his shoulders; his feet were flat on the mat.

“Don’t move,” Steve said in an off-handed tone, audibly rummaging in his ropes again.

Bucky stayed still, muscles straining to keep him in the bridge pose, feet firmly planted down. His bound hands were resting on his stomach; his thoughts were running unbidden. Was he going to stay like this for long? He worked out, he was confident in his ability to withhold punishing positions. And this was only the beginning of the scene, he still had his endurance.

So he held the pose, abs straining, while another rope was looped around his hips and upper thighs, fashioning a quick harness. Then Steve got up, bare feet shuffling on the mat. The rope slapped onto something wooden. Bucky held his breath.

And then his weight was partially gone. Steve had tied the rope to one of the exposed beams. That was what they were for—sturdy, elegant anchor points, but most of all completely innocent for a random visitor.

Bucky realized his lips must have curled into a smile, because Steve was near his face again, brushing a few strands of hair from under the blindfold. “Yeah?” he said, amused. “Don’t worry, it’s just a partial suspension for today.”

It took Bucky a second to realize this was still a predicament position; if he let his body sag, the harness would dig into his lower back, hard enough that he began arching up again without thinking, to relieve the tension. His shoulders still took most of his weight, though. He could easily hold it.

Steve didn’t seem to care whether Bucky was accepting his position or not—he took the slack hanging from Bucky’s bound wrists, and looped it around both of Bucky’s thighs, drawing them together. Bucky had to bring his knees in, keeping his feet apart for better balance; but then the rope kept going down his calves, tugged his ankles together too, and soon enough his legs were bound close from hip to toe, tight enough that it hurt.

Incidentally, it made it much harder for Bucky to hold the bridge pose.

His thighs began to shake within seconds, taking him off guard. He tried to resist, to hold his body up, but the next second he began to droop, letting out a soundless breath when the harness bit into his body again. He tried fully letting go—he was a masochist, he could choose to accept the pain, right?—but then his body started swaying to the left, because he was heavier on that side. He had to hold himself straight, tense up again. His abs trembled with tension.

Steve hummed, then grabbed the suspension rope and tugged up in a sudden, nasty jerk. Bucky startled and completely lost his balance, heels scrabbling on the mat. His breath was coming out in fast, shallow gasps.

“Doing okay, Buck?” Steve asked nonchalantly, waiting for him to regain purchase as if it had been an accident.

“Yeah,” Bucky breathed, shaky.

He was getting inevitably hard. As his arms were extended, his bound hands were resting over his crotch, held there by the rope looping around his legs; it was as if he’d been allowed some kind of modesty. But really, this position meant he was forced to feel himself hardening under his fingers, unable to take his mind off it.

Steve uncoiled another bundle of rope and got to work on Bucky’s torso, wrapping the rope around it, pinning Bucky’s arms closer to his chest without care for symmetry or steadiness.

Bucky soon understood why. Steve wasn’t trying to do an elaborate tie; he just cared about looping several rows of rope around Bucky’s chest and arms, then tugging relentlessly, as hard as he could, tightening the bind until Bucky’s breath hitched with pain. This rope was single-rowed and easily bit into Bucky’s skin. Steve would hold it, then undo it and start again, digging a new pattern into his body. Bucky enjoyed the wraparound feel of it, enveloping, constricting, forcing him into stillness. Nothing to do but endure. It felt like a tight hug, like a slow punishment, like both of them at once.

The bridge pose was getting harder and harder to hold; Bucky began again to sag into the harness, helplessly, unable to keep himself arched up any longer, yet needing to keep a least a bit of control over his poise so he wouldn’t lilt to the side. He could feel the rope digging in; even a partial suspension left the deepest marks of all, he knew. They might even last for more than a day.

He was hard, pulsing erratically under his own fingers, feeling every moment of his own arousal. But it was a distant feeling, too, relegated to the back of his mind by the urgency of pain and the need for balance. Steve kept unwinding the rope around Bucky’s torso, then looping it around again, obviously relishing the way it cut off Bucky’s breath when he tugged it tight. He came to sit close, cupping Bucky’s face with his free hand.

“Alright?” he asked.

Bucky found he couldn’t speak at all anymore, but he nodded, best he could, and Steve kissed his cheek again with a satisfied little hum.

Bucky hazily wondered whether Steve would kiss him on the mouth. And then suddenly he wanted it more than anything. He turned his head like a flower seeking the sun, parting his lips. He hoped he wasn’t crossing a line. He needed it, couldn’t even tell why, it was a simple core want and he couldn’t help asking for it without words, straining in the harness.

He couldn’t see, but he felt Steve inching closer, and suddenly it happened—Steve kissed him, slow and languid, and Bucky moaned almost soundlessly in answer, to confirm that he wanted this, so much, opened his mouth and let Steve’s tongue in. He shifted minutely in his predicament tie; it was steadily escalating into complete torture, but Steve kissed him so sweet.

When he moved away, Bucky let out a shaky whine, prompting Steve to run a soothing hand through his long hair, never letting go of the rope binding Bucky’s chest and arms. It felt good now, steadying. Just like the rope looped around his legs. Bucky just couldn’t hold the pose anymore. The pain dug in as he lilted to the side again, inevitably, knowing he couldn’t get back up this time. It hurt so bad, but he could only take it, trying to catch his breath. Surrender spread through him. You win, he thought at Steve. You win. He was submitting. He couldn’t fight anymore. Steve ran his fingers through his hair again, kissed his mouth, once, twice, and Bucky didn’t even know this guy an hour before, but in this moment he would have given his life to him, done anything for him. His thoughts had slipped their moorings, spreading in every direction through his mind like ripples in a pond, please, you can take it all, I’ll give it all to you, so eager to show how ready he was, how pliant he would be, imagining a thousand fantasies at once, Steve using his ass, his mouth, anything, anything, I can do anything for you, it was incredible, this complete openness, this absolute acceptance, leading down underwater where there were no more thoughts, only sensations.

Steve kissed Bucky once more, made it deep and wet, tugging hard at his hair to crane his head back again, and Bucky moaned in his mouth, happy to be taken, to be consumed, if only in this small way. He was iron hard under his own fingers, restless with constant pain, drunk with endorphins.

Then Steve murmured, so quietly, so close to him, “Okay to come down?”

It threw Bucky for a loop—for Steve to check whether Bucky wanted to go on, not just whether he wanted to stop.

As his thoughts floated back into a semblance of order, Bucky realized his spine was starting to ache from being arched for so long, and he was tired, infinitely tired, his earlier nervousness burnt up by the physical exertion, all of it whirling away in a snowstorm in his mind. The hips harness seriously hurt, too, digging into his back muscles.

“Think so,” he slurred, surprising himself with how hoarse, how small he sounded.

Steve kissed him on the forehead and got up. Bucky felt a strange mix of emotions—anticipated relief and yet disappointment that it was over. There was this old joke when he was a kid, a crazy guy keeps hitting himself with a hammer, another one walks by and asks, “Why’re you doing this?” and he says, “Because it feels so good when I stop!” Funny, everyone laughs, but as an adult Bucky had discovered how true it was, how deeply satisfying it could feel to push yourself only to let go afterwards. Working out, going for a run, it all counted—but this, best of all, this, having suffered not to stay healthy or lose weight but just because, only as a gift, as an exchange of power, and Steve had taken what he wanted, had watched as Bucky strained and suffered, had kissed him while he panted shallow breaths, and shook with his whole body. And now Steve was untying the rope, bringing Bucky’s hips down, bit by bit, until he was resting on the mat, still tightly restrained but no longer in a predicament pose, exhaling a deep lungful of air.

Steve sat next to him and helped Bucky rest his head in his lap. Completely shameless, Bucky turned his face into Steve’s hip with a cat-like sigh. He was too far down to worry about how he looked like. Being blindfolded helped a lot with that.

They stayed like that for a while, Steve running his hands along the ropes binding Bucky’s body, pulling at them, dragging them, digging the pain into him. Bucky hummed with pleasure every time. He was breathing more and more slowly, rippling pond fading into stillness. Steve’s fingers were tracing his features now. His nose, his cheekbones, his chin, the line of his jaw. It felt wonderful, to feel him so intensely focused on Bucky and nothing else. It felt like nothing existed out of the both of them, out of their attention for each other. Bucky still thought at him I’m yours, I’m yours, I’m yours, like Steve could pick up on it, read his mind, see it written on his face.

When Steve began untying him at last, Bucky was ready for it, floating and pliant, completely at peace. He didn’t move at all, focused on the delicious ache where the ropes had dug in, knowing there were marks to show for it on his limbs. Steve undid the wraparound on his chest and arms first; then, very delicately, he lifted Bucky’s head from his lap to let it rest on the mat, then got up and went to free his legs. When he was done, he untied the harness, which had dug the most deeply—and which felt the most amazing when it came off, leaving deep engravings behind.

Then Steve was back, slipping an arm under Bucky’s shoulders.

“Hey, pal. Think you can sit?”

Bucky was heady and warm, but he sat up. Anything, anything for you. It was strange to have his wrists free, to be able to use his hands. He felt a pang when Steve carefully untied the blindfold; but then it was done, and Bucky cautiously blinked in the dim light, taking in the white couch, the rattan chairs, the pinewood dressers, like they were artifacts from an alien planet and he’d never seen them before.

When he was done blinking at the furniture, Bucky looked at Steve himself, wanting to know if it was the same for him, if everything had changed from one moment to the next. Steve looked back with his clear blue eyes and smiled. He was glowing with his own light.

“You okay?”

Bucky realized he was smiling, too, couldn’t help it. He wanted to hug him, and he must have leaned forward because Steve met him half-way, wrapping his skinny arms around Bucky’s bulky frame, burying his nose in Bucky’s hair with a happy sigh.

“Thank you,” Bucky mumbled.

“Thank you.”

“It was—” Bucky shouldn’t babble, but he needed to let him know, “It was… Wow. Just…”

“Amazing,” Steve said wholeheartedly. “Especially for a first scene. You went so deep, so fast.”

It made Bucky laugh, to hear the warmth and the wonder in Steve’s voice, to know he had really loved it like Bucky had.

“M’sorry I was so nervous,” he said, burying his face in the crook of Steve’s neck.

“Hey, don’t say sorry. It’s totally normal. I was a bit anxious too, you know.”

But really Bucky was apologizing for dragging his feet earlier. Maybe he was still down in his submissive depths, but he hadn’t stopped his mental chanting of anything, anything, anything you want. He was ready to give himself body and soul. It didn’t even scare him—he knew it would wear off, like the high it was. For now he could still enjoy it, still float for a few minutes more. Steve smelled really nice, and his thumbs were tracing little circles into Bucky’s skin.

 

*

 

They had to unwrap from each other eventually. Bucky felt sated, settled—he could let go now, without feeling like he was going to fly apart.

“I’m gonna get some more tea going,” Steve said, getting up. “You take your time.”

Bucky smiled at him, then took a deep breath and stretched like he was waking up from a long nap. He was pleasantly groggy, completely lax. After a little while of just sitting there, he got up and walked the few steps to the couch. A blanket had conveniently appeared on the pillows, and Bucky draped it over his shoulders, burrowing in the cushions.

The tea was done. Instead of sitting on the other side of the coffee table, Steve sat on the couch with him, thigh to thigh and shoulder to shoulder. Bucky, who was staring at his own wrists, showed him the rope marks with a wordless smile.

“They’re so neat,” Steve said, sounding as satisfied as Bucky felt. “You mark really well. Your chest, too—even though it wasn’t even a fixed tie.”

“It’s a gift.” Bucky drank some tea; it was chai again, and the faint burn of it woke him up a bit more. “It’s cool that you do aftercare, too.”

“Can’t do without, Buck,” Steve said, blowing on his own tea. “And you shouldn’t either.”

“Well, you’ll be able to make sure I don’t.”

Steve beamed at him. “So you’ll be coming back?”

“Fuck yeah,” Bucky said with an incredulous laugh. He wasn’t even sure why he was so affected—Steve hadn’t done anything extreme to him, even if some might say that a semi-suspension on a first encounter was a bit daring.

But somehow it just fit. His gestures, his words, the way he’d known how to make Bucky feel both safe and at the mercy of someone who genuinely relished his predicament. He had seen Bucky so nervous, known what he needed, a simple but demanding posture so he’d exert himself quickly, burn off all of his anxiety.  

“Good,” Steve said, smiling into his tea. “That’s good.”

They drank tea in comfortable silence for a while. Then Steve cleared his throat again. “Anything you didn’t like?”

Bucky had learned his lesson and took his time to answer, looking at the dancing lights in his cup. Part of him wanted to say you could have done more, so much more to me, but that was the fading delirium of his submissive core. In truth he knew it was better to pace himself, especially since he hoped to make this last.

“No, it was all great,” he said eventually. “My back was getting a bit sore by the end, I guess? But that was just when you offered to bring me down.”

“Good,” Steve repeated. “And—um—” He fumbled a little with his cup. “Was it okay to kiss you?”

Bucky looked at him. “I wanted you to kiss me.”

“I figured. Just making sure.”

“Was it okay to want you to kiss me?”

“Yeah. Yes, of course.”

Steve finished his tea a bit too quickly, then set his cup down.

“How are you getting home?”

“Oh,” Bucky said, only just realizing it was dark out. He’d forgotten how easy it was to lose sense of time during a scene. “With the G train.”

“Ah, that’s great. I don’t know about you, but I’m happy not to drive after a scene.”

“Don’t have a car anyway.”

While he dressed, Steve brought back the clinking tray to the kitchen; then he walked Bucky to the door, still barefoot. He looked happy but as tired as Bucky.

“I’ll see you soon, then,” he said. “Are you free next week? Thursday, 7pm again?”

“Yeah, sounds great.” Bucky slipped on his gloves, then stepped out into the hallway. Then he froze. “Hold on—” He turned round. “Shit, wait!”

“What is it?”

“I—” Bucky wasn’t sure how to say this. “I completely forgot. Um. I haven’t paid you? We totally—we didn’t discuss money at all.”

Steve relaxed. “Oh, that. Don’t worry, we can talk about it next time.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I don’t like to bring up money on the first day.” Steve smiled. “You’re coming back, right?”

Bucky wanted to point out that it was a terrible way to run a business, but he stupidly smiled back instead. “Yeah, I am.”

“Great. Next week, then.”

Steve was still pretty much a stranger, yet Bucky wanted to hug him goodnight. He shook himself. This was the intimacy of the scene still clinging to him. Maybe Steve would have genuinely liked it, or maybe he would have weathered it with a smile, privately wishing Bucky would just hurry up and leave already.

So Bucky stepped back and waved. “So… bye, Steve.”

“Night, Buck.”

After the gilded doors of the elevator had closed, Bucky tugged up his right sleeve to look at the rope marks again. He already wanted to come back.