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between our bodies there's a battlefield

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Sam hadn't ever had cause to think about it, not really, but if someone had told him that he would end up in a pity fuck situation with Steve Rogers, gorgeous kind superpowered American war hero Steve Rogers, he would've assumed he was the one being pitied.

Calling it a pity fuck isn't quite right, of course. Sam may be slow compared to Steve, but he sure as hell knows what to do when People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" is pushing him up against a hotel room wall and kissing him. Steve kisses with a kind of hot, urgent desperation, his tongue sliding into Sam's mouth, his teeth nipping at Sam's lips. Not that Sam has spent the three weeks since he met Steve Rogers wondering what it would be like to kiss him, not that Sam has spent those three weeks sneaking peeks at Steve's ass and wondering what he'd be like in bed, not that Sam has spent those three weeks wondering what Steve's body would feel like pressed up against his, but if he had wondered those things, he wouldn't have thought that Steve would be like this. He wouldn't have thought that Steve's kiss would feel like this: hungry, and sharp, and angry.

In retrospect, it makes sense. Sam has seen Steve's increasing frustration as the Winter Soldier's trail grows cold, his fist clench until the knuckles went white as they stood together in a spotlessly clean alleyway in Brooklyn. He's seen Steve with blood on his hands, standing in the middle of a bolt-hole temporary base in Miami, HYDRA agents – or SHIELD agents, Sam has trouble telling the difference – scattered on the floor around him like the wake of a tornado. He's seen Steve run, every morning, seen the way he puts one foot in front of the other like moving forward is the only thing he has left anymore. But despite having seen all of this, Sam still imagined that Steve would kiss softly, maybe hesitantly. Shyly, or like a gentleman.

There's nothing gentlemanly about Steve right now. His big shoulders and strong arms press Sam against the wall. His mouth is open and demanding against Sam's. Sam gives in, for a while at least, and tries to give back: he runs his nails against Steve's sides, over his t-shirt, scratching as hard as he can, and he bites and kisses back, and he leans up and against Steve, pushing their bodies together.

Steve moans helplessly in response, and for a split second Sam feels it, all of Steve's strength unleashed against him as Steve surges forward, slamming him back against the wall again. The thud of his back hitting the plaster moves through his body, and it hurts, but Sam doesn't mind. This is more than Steve's told him about his feelings in weeks.

Seems like Steve minds, though, because when Sam grunts involuntarily at the shock, Steve pulls back in horror.

"I – sorry, I – "

Sam licks his lips, scenarios unfolding in front of him in the split second it takes for Steve's face to go from hazy pleasure to anxious concern. It's just like it used to be when he was doing pararescue, the way he could see all the vectors in the air in front of him, could map out ten potential rescue scenarios in the blink of an eye and against the onrushing wind.

He knows what'll happen if Steve stops to blame himself, can see Steve's awkward retreat from Sam's hotel room as if it's already happening. And he knows what'll happen if he lets Steve feel like he's taking advantage, the pained politeness and careful distance that would follow. Sam watches Steve begin to pull away from him, just a few millimeters at first but then more and more as the microseconds rush past, and Sam knows instinctively that if Steve puts too much distance between them, they'll never get that close again.

He doesn't know when he got to be able to read Steve Rogers like a tactical scenario, but apparently it happened somewhere between the cemetery in D.C. and this shitty Super 8 in Alexandria, Ohio, happened somewhere on the long miles of highway with the smell of fast food clinging to the air and the sound of Motown coming out of the speakers.

Steve starts to pull further away, his mouth still open with an unarticulated apology, and Sam blinks once, and breathes in, and stops him.

He fists Steve's t-shirt with one hand, wraps the other around the back of Steve's neck, and uses them both to reel him back in so that their bodies are pressed flush against one another.

"Do it again," Sam says quietly. "I like how you feel. Do it again."

Steve's eyes are wide and his touch, as he curls his hands around Sam's biceps, is hesitant.

"Sam, I – " Steve begins, but then doesn't finish the sentence.

"Kiss me," Sam insists. "Give me what you've got."

Steve's gaze darkens, and that by itself is enough to send a rough little ripple of desire through Sam's body. He wants this. Steve pushes him up against the wall again, but not as hard this time. Deliberately.

"Yeah," Sam says, encouraging him. Steve's grip on his arms tightens. He leans in, and Sam meets him halfway in another one of those rough, hard kisses. Steve makes a noise in the back of his throat, like a whimper, and Sam answers by digging his fingers harder into the back of Steve's neck. The kiss gets deeper, gets faster, both of them desperate and grasping.

Sam knows this kind of fucking, knows it perfectly well from shaky post-rescue adrenaline-fueled hookups in the middle of war zones. He never thought he'd be doing it in a hotel room in the middle of Ohio. It had been another day of not finding any trace of Bucky Barnes, not finding any trace of the HYDRA agents they were tracking either, another day of fruitless travel and leads gone dry, and at the end of it Steve had followed him into his hotel room and pushed him up against the wall and kissed him just like Sam had kissed Reilly, once, in a thrown-together temporary shelter in Afghanistan.

Like he didn't know what else to do, and Sam was a warm, friendly body close to hand. When you're carrying a war zone around inside you, sometimes that's all you have.

Eventually he has to come up for air, even if Steve apparently doesn't, but Sam doesn't let Steve go far even after he breaks the kiss, still holding the back of his neck, resting their foreheads together as he gasps. It's a relief to hear Steve breathing a little harder himself, to see some of his desperation reflected in the reactions of his body.

"Is this okay?" Steve asks. Their faces are so close that the air of his words rushes against Sam's lips, making them tingle again with the remembered friction of their kiss.

Sam feels a bubble of laughter rising through him, because if it wasn't okay he probably wouldn't be standing here cupping Steve's neck and breathing Steve's air, and also because nothing about this situation is okay. He swallows it down.

"This is just fine," Sam says softly. "How are you feeling?"

Steve kisses him again, but the kiss is a lot briefer this time, tender but just as devastating as the ones before it.

"I don't know," Steve says. He swallows, and then his mouth falls open again to take in air. His eyes are closed.

Sam figures that's pretty honest. He brings his hand up to cup his face; Steve immediately rests the weight of his head against Sam's palm. Sam's chest tightens, like someone is pushing on his ribs.

"What do you want?" Sam asks, because that question presumably has a more direct answer. He leans up and mouths at Steve's jaw, kissing his way up to his ear, giving him a chance to talk without having to look Sam in the eyes.

Steve's hands grip his arms tighter as Sam bites his earlobe, then relax again as Sam releases him.

"When I was younger, I had this fella." Steve breathes the words out like they've been sitting in his throat for a while. Sam doesn't know why, even though Steve is ancient and world-weary and burdened with plenty of battle scars, he still thinks of him as painfully young. In a way, it's hard to imagine him any younger.

Sam keeps kissing Steve's neck, slowly, sucking hard enough to bruise any normal person. "Yeah? A boyfriend?" he asks.

"Like that, I guess," Steve agrees. "I used to get so angry, like a fire building up inside of me, and when it was really bad, he'd hold me down. Hold me down and. Fuck me. Made the fire go away, sometimes."

It's not the worst form of therapy that Sam's ever heard of, but it's not the best either. "What was this guy's name?" Sam asks, certain for one cold moment that Steve is going to say "Bucky."

"Tom. We called him Rocky," Steve says. "I used to meet him after church on Sundays. He wasn't Catholic, but it wasn't like I could take him home to my Mom anyway."

Sam remembers from history class that Steve's mom died when he was a teenager – when he was sixteen, maybe? And wonders if this boyfriend was before or after that. Seems damn young to have that much anger, or that kind of sex, but then what the hell does Sam know about the thirties.

"I'm not Catholic," Sam whispers into Steve's ear. Steve makes a sound like a laugh, but choked and swallowed.

"I'm actually okay with that," Steve says, and his voice sounds lighter.

"And I can't hold you down, either." Sam does his time on the weight bench and he's got plenty of height and bulk, but he's not sure a whole football team could hold Steve down.

"Yeah, you can," Steve says softly. The truth of that hits Sam like the shock of cold water: that Steve would let Sam hold him down, would go willingly. Sam takes a deep breath.

He can be this for Steve.

He runs his hand down Steve's chest. It may be his imagination, but it feels like Steve's whole body is thrumming with tension, the fine vibration of a perfectly tuned engine. Sam kisses him again, because he wants to so badly, because Steve needs it so badly, because the two of them have had this pull since day one and at this point it's impossible not to fall into it.

Sam kisses Steve, and it's exactly like folding his wings behind him and surrendering to gravity.

He maneuvers them back to the hotel bed, and Steve kisses him back and peels at their clothes as they go, his whole body moving in perfect concert with Sam's, all ease, like they're dancing. Sam is struck again with desire, burning and immediate, for Steve's strong, graceful body. The way Steve looks is one thing, his big muscles and red lips and perfect ass, but the way he moves in his body is so much more, like he takes up more space with the force of his personality than with the breadth of his shoulders. Sam wants that, wants that on him or in him or around him, and he honestly doesn't care very much which one it is.

By the time Steve pulls him down on top of him on the bed, they're mostly naked, skin exposed and subject to hard sucking kisses, Steve's dick pressed hard into the hollow of Sam's hip. Steve pushes Sam's pants all the way down, shoves off his shoes and socks with his feet – weird and efficient and graceful – and then it's nothing but the two of them, nothing more than bodies, desperate and wanting, pushing against one another.

They've only been working together for a few weeks, and they went from strangers to partners in less time than most people take to go out on their first afternoon coffee date. But it'd felt right, him and Steve, familiar, like falling back into love with someone he already knew from a long time ago, or like flying alongside someone who's always had his back. It's too easy, maybe, to mistake that feeling for more than it is.

He wanted this, Steve writhing beneath him as they kiss and bite and thrust, he wanted to see him lose control, hear him calling Sam's name. But he knows, with a deep bitter sense of surety, that this sex isn't about the two of them anymore than the rest of their partnership is. It's about what Steve needs, and it's about what Sam needs, but need is all it is. This may be Ohio, but between their bodies it's a war zone, and they're nothing more than fellow soldiers trying to make the best of the time they have.

"You want it like this?" Sam asks, between kisses. "Or on your stomach?" Beneath him, Steve moans, then executes a quick, efficient roll. Sam's already straddling his hips, so when Steve moves Sam ends up with his dick pressed up against the line of Steve's ass, and he wants nothing more than to just slide in right then, bury himself in Steve's welcoming body and stay there.

He uses spit and a couple of fingers to open Steve up first, though. Steve pulls one knee up against the bed and presses his forehead to the pillow, pulling in long shuddering breaths that shake his body like nothing Sam's ever seen on him before. He's beautiful like this, vulnerable. Sam presses a soft kiss between Steve's shoulderblades, unable to help himself. Steve shudders. His hands fist in the bedspread.

"I know," Sam says softly. "I know, I got you."

When he finally pushes into Steve he almost loses it, a long moan escaping his lips as he falls down into Steve's body. He has to take a few centering breaths, and beneath him Steve is breathing too, and for that slow moment they breathe together. Steve's tight and hot around him.

"You feel good," Sam says.

"Sam," Steve says, and it's not like a sound of desire or pleasure, not like a moan, not like begging or frustration, not like a sex noise at all. As if Steve only wants to taste Sam's name in his mouth. Sam is surprised, for a moment, into stillness.

Then he braces his legs against Steve's, slides his right arm across Steve's shoulders, and pushes him down. Steve goes willingly, acquiescing to the pressure and letting himself be pinned against the bed.

"Like this?" Sam asks, breathlessly. "This how you want it?"

"Yeah," Steve groans. He shoves back with his ass, grinding himself against the cradle of Sam's hips. "Fuck me."

The first thrust is slow, a long slow withdrawal followed by an equally slow return, steady and relentless until Sam is buried completely once again. He keeps it like that for a minute or two, not fucking gently, but taking his time, with his arm still pressing down hard against Steve's shoulders.

"Harder," Steve says. "Sam, please."

Sam hopes to God that Steve tires out faster from fucking than he does from running, and puts his back into it, slamming down into Steve's body with as much force as he can. He holds nothing back. He gives Steve everything.

He'll be sore tomorrow, but he's resigned to that.

Steve might not need this anymore tomorrow, or might not need it from him, and he's resigned to that, too. A part of him knows that he should've pushed Steve away when he first kissed him, should've told him to get his head screwed on right, or that maybe after they find Bucky they could go on a real date or something. Giving Steve what he needs – and giving in to what he wants for himself – might mean it's a one time thing. But there's a war zone inside of Steve, these days, burning behind his eyes, and it must be catching because Sam feels the heat of it too. He couldn't bear to wait, as if the future would always be there for them, not when he knows it might not. And he couldn't bear not to do this for Steve, right now, when it's important, when he knows he might not get another chance.

If it's a pity fuck, Sam thinks, maybe he's pitying both of them at once.

Sam fucks Steve as hard as he can, pushes him down as hard as he can, and hopes it's enough to satisfy them both. Steve's hot beneath him, fever-hot, his light skin flushed red and sweating. He's squirming, rubbing himself off against the scratchy hotel bedspread, and Sam can't get enough of him, the soft breathing feel of him, the way he moves; the noises he's making, low and rough in his throat, like he's coming apart.

"So good," Sam hears himself saying, "so good, c'mon, give it up, give it up for me, Steve. You – you know you want to." He's riding just on the edge, both unaware and hyperaware of his body, all the sensations pouring through him as he fucks as hard and as fast as he can, in and out of Steve, ready to tumble down into the deep rush of orgasm.

"Sam," Steve says again, and it's needy this time, strained and rough. Sam watches as Steve's hands clench and unclench in the bedspread, as his head drops down against the pillow, as he cries out in one long screaming moan and comes, collapsing completely underneath Sam's rapid thrusts.

As soon as he hears Steve cry out Sam lets himself go, lets himself follow: he thrusts in once more and holds on, moaning quietly as he shakes his way through it. His arm is still braced against Steve's shoulders, and he lets his head drop down so that his forehead rests against it as the last of the sensation rolls through him.

He has to blink his way back to himself, after, recognize his own body again, find the places where it ends and the places where Steve begins. He pulls out of Steve's ass slowly, wincing a little, and then collapses on his back next to Steve, panting. Unfolding into a horizontal position hurts a little; he has a feeling that this superhero sex is going to take it out of him more than the actual superheroing.

Steve flips over next to him, and Sam glances over with a grin. Steve returns it, and it feels good for a moment, complete, like they made something together. Whatever this is between them, whatever it isn't, at least it meant something tonight.

Glancing down, he notices that Steve's still hard.

"Fuck," he says. "You didn't come?"

Steve sighs and blinks sleepily. "I did. It was great. I just – it's a serum thing. Sometimes takes a few before I settle down." Steve smiles then, still sleepy, and it's everything Sam ever wanted for himself, this quiet trust in Steve's eyes. "Especially when you get me all riled up like that."

Sam has to convince his face to stop looking so surprised. Once he's done that, he shuffles a little closer to Steve on the bed.

"Want some help?" he asks, sliding his hand up Steve's thigh and taking his cock in hand. It's beautiful, perfectly proportionate, uncut, hot and soft against Sam's skin. He rubs up slowly, pulling the foreskin back with his fingers.

"Mmm, that's nice," Steve sighs, and closes his eyes. Sam chuckles, because this is more like telling someone a bedtime story than giving them a handjob.

"You're all sacked out, aren't you," Sam says. He can't keep the fondness out of his voice. He keeps stroking Steve slowly, up and down, using the sheath to rub against the tip on every upstroke.

"Oh, that feels so good," Steve groans, and then comes all over Sam's hand, which is kind of impressive given how much he'd come the first time. Sam should know; he's lying in half of the wet spot.

"Jesus," Sam breathes. Steve's dick is still hard. "Want me to keep going?"

"Yeah," Steve says, rocking his hips up. "Yeah, God, your hand feels good. Don't stop."

Sam's starting to feel turned on again himself, even despite the ache in his back and the twitching exhaustion in his thighs. Steve is spread out on the bed, wholly unselfconscious, naked and glistening and pushing his body up into Sam's hands. It's a sight to see.

After Steve comes a third time, his hand comes down to cover Sam's on his cock. "Stop," he mutters. "Oh God. I don't think I can take another one."

"But you could achieve another one?" Sam is truly impressed by the miracles of 1940s pseudo-science.

"They usually start to get a little painful at four in a row," Steve says, turning his head to smile at Sam. "I need ten minutes."

"Cocky bastard," Sam grumbles.

"Exactly." Steve's so self-satisfied and such an utter dick that Sam can't help loving him more.

Sam sighs, looking down at them both. He's covered in Steve's come. "I can't believe I fucked you without a condom," he mutters, rubbing his hand over his face. He's always been the guy who yells at his friends for fucking without protection, who rolls his eyes at all the excuses.

"I don't get sick," Steve murmurs, kissing his ear. "You won't get sick."

"You don't really know that," Sam grumbles. "You could be a carrier."

"I haven't had sex with anyone since before HIV existed," Steve says practically. It's not really a surprise – Steve doesn't seem like he's been out on the dating scene much – but it's still a sobering thought, to have been someone's first screw in seventy years.

Then, with a laugh in his voice, Steve adds, "You might want to get checked out for syphilis, though. I probably gave you gonorrhea. Crabs. Chlamydia."

"I get the feeling that someone made you do a VD PSA in the forties," Sam grins.

"Cap Versus the Clap," Steve confirms, and Sam busts out laughing. "Modern media haven't found it yet. Don't tell Natasha."

He presses his face against Steve's arm, still smiling, and lets a little time pass. Sweat's cooling on his body, and he's gross and sticky, but he doesn't want to get up and break the moment. He has no idea how to live outside of it again, now that he's been in. Steve starts gently rubbing Sam's shoulder, cupping it with his palm, soothing his fingertips against Sam's collarbone. It feels amazing, that simple touch, and Sam closes his eyes.

"Thank you, Sam," Steve says softly, breaking Sam's heart. "You were really good to me."

"You don't have to thank me," Sam says, sitting up laboriously and then getting to his feet. He turns back around to smile at him. "I got what I wanted, too."

Steve, who Sam could've sworn was almost asleep, sits up a little ways. "Are you done getting what you wanted, then?" he asks, neutrally. Steve is shit at being neutral.

Sam comes back to sit on the bed next to him. He wants to reach out and cup Steve's jaw, stroke his cheekbone with his thumb. Then he thinks, fuck it, and does. Steve leans into the touch.

"I can be whatever you need for as long as you want," he says gently. "I just don't want you to feel any obligation when I know you're not in a good place right now."

Steve frowns. "You think I'd – that I'd use you like that?"

"No, man," Sam says gently. When he pauses to gather his thoughts, Steve turns his head and kisses his palm, which scatters them all to hell again. Sam bites his lip. "I've been here before. Thought maybe you had too. Battlefield partnerships, all whirlwind and passion, and sometimes they're nothing more than they need to be. That's okay."

"Yeah, but – " Steve looks frustrated. He reaches up and takes Sam's hand, bringing it down to his lap, where he holds it against his thigh. It's really criminal that he should look so good naked and fucked-out while Sam's trying to let him down easy. "Listen, I can't make promises. You know what my life is like." He licks his lips. "What our lives are like. But this, between us, it isn't about the battlefield."

Sam raises an eyebrow, and Steve has the lack of good grace to roll his eyes. "You know what I mean, it's not just the battlefield. It's about you. And me."

"We're thrown together in a really dangerous situation, your whole life is upside down, then your whole new life is upside down, your old . . . partner is suddenly alive and brainwashed . . . I just think it's too much for anyone to expect you to be able to make a normal decision right now. I couldn't do that to you."

Steve sighs.

"Just give yourself some time, Steve," Sam says. "And you have my permission to not be okay with this tomorrow, if you don't think you can be."

"That sounds like a pretty awful thing to do to a lover. Or a friend," Steve says. Then his expression clears, like he's having a quiet little Eureka! moment all to himself.. "You know what?" he says, "I think this is that thing. That thing where you do what I do, but slower." He smiles. "Well, take your time, old man. I can wait for you to catch up."

Sam laughs in spite of himself. "I'm sixty years younger than you!" he protests.

"And ten years older," Steve adds. "Basically you're robbing the cradle. Besmirching my virtue."

"Like there was a lot to besmirch to begin with," Sam snorts. "You're nothing like that mannequin in the Smithsonian."

"You say the sweetest things."

"And for the record, I'm six years older than you. Experientially."

"Must be my perennially youthful good looks, then."

Sam smacks him on the back of the head. Steve smiles softly at him, like he's just kissed his forehead.

When he gets up and heads to the shower, Steve follows him in, even though it's a tiny little hotel tub and two six-foot-plus guys don't really fit under the showerhead. Sam watches Steve's body under the sluice of water and can't quite find it in himself to complain.

Steve kisses the back of his neck, open-mouthed, bending his head under the spray of hot water. "Give me the soap," he says. "I'm gonna clean you up."

Sam hands it over.

"I don't fuck people I don't love," Steve says, softly, as he rubs the washcloth over Sam's back. Sam leans back into the rough wet sensation, the firm press of Steve's hand against his skin beneath the terrycloth. Steve kisses him again, in the same spot just below his hairline, and Sam shivers despite the heat of the water.

He closes his eyes and swallows. When he speaks, he keeps his voice as light as he can. "You telling me you never had a one-night stand?"

He can feel Steve's kiss turn into a smile against his neck. "Well, some people can be loved more quickly than others," he says. Sam laughs, and turns around to face him, kissing his wet lips.

"I'll give you that," he breathes. Steve dips in and kisses him again.

"I don't know how long this will last. You're not wrong about me being pretty . . . messed up right now," Steve says quietly. "But I think, at some level, it's always going to be like this. There's always going to be a mission. I mean, not – not Bucky . . . "

"But someone. Someone else we have to rescue," Sam puts in. He's starting to see the shape of it, this battlefield they'll carry between them, the one that they'll carry by choice rather than by sick habit.

Steve nods. His eyes are very blue, and his eyelashes are wet. Sam wants to kiss the droplets away.

"And this is real," Steve says. "I want it to be real. It means something right now."

And damn if that wasn't exactly what Sam had been thinking, except without the part where Steve apparently loved him.

"Give me the soap," Sam says. Steve hands it over, along with the washcloth, and Sam goes to work on Steve's chest and belly. He rubs in slow circles, expanding outwards gradually.

"What about you?" Steve asks, a couple minutes later.

"What about me what?"

Steve smiles. "You ever fuck people you don't love?"

Sam bends and puts a kiss to the notch where Steve's collarbones join, licking away a drop of water. "Not recently," he says.