Steve spends his every waking moment looking for Bucky. He breaks into every Soviet archive he can find and pours over the information, searching for anything that might help. He employs Sam and Natasha, asking them to help him sort through what's useful and what's not, hints and clues and whatever else he can get his hands on. He falls asleep at his desk most nights and wakes up with his face pressed into some file or another and it begins again. He searches non-stop, well-aware that if Bucky doesn't want to be found, he probably won't be. But that doesn't stop him.
Steve begins to believe that his days and night spent pouring over the information is beginning to damage his brain. He starts seeing things - namely Bucky - everywhere. On the corner outside his apartment, at his favorite coffee shop, walking in the opposite direction on the other side of the street. Every time he stops himself calling out his name, but only just. Every time he has to stop himself running after him. But only just.
Steve' sure he's not longer hallucinating. And he's sure Bucky is no longer trying to hide. But Steve never approaches him. He never calls out to him. He figures he has to let Bucky make the first move. He's already lost his friend twice now. He's not sure what he'll do if he has to go through it a third time.
He wakes up in the middle of the night to a noise he knows he shouldn't have heard. He gets up and slowly pads into his kitchen, poised and ready for a fight. He finds Bucky standing, just standing, his shoulders slumped, his hair pulled back from his face, next to the island. Steve doesn't say anything, doesn't approach him, just observes.
He observes the slight shake of Bucky's shoulders, the confusion in his eyes, the way he stares at Steve as though he's not even there.
They stand like that for nearly five minutes before Steve steps forward, cautiously.
And then it is no longer Bucky standing in his kitchen, but the Winter Soldier.
The Soldier grabs the first object within his reach - a wooden spoon - and hurls it with deadly force at Steve's head. He ducks and then launches himself forward, his arms wrapping around Bucky's waist and picking him up, slamming him back down onto the floor with as much force as he can bring himself to use. He hears the air leave Bucky's lungs in a gust and then he's got a leg wrapped around his neck and he's being flipped and Bucky - no, the Soldier - is on top of him with a knife pressed to his throat and he gets a chance to see those eyes up close.
"Why do I know you?! Who are you?" the Soldier demands and Steve is caught off guard for half a second by the desperation in his voice, the confusion.
Steve grips both of Bucky's shoulders - because he's Bucky again now and Steve isn't sure how he could be anyone else - and knocks him into the cabinets, disorienting him long enough for Steve to flip them and get on top. He uses his knee to pin Bucky's chest to the floor and one hand to pin his arms above his head and Steve suddenly realizes that this is too easy. There's no real fight left in him, just the motions, the memory, of constant struggle.
"I'm your friend," Steve tells him, staring down at those eyes he used to know so well and seeing only anger in them now.
"You're my mission," the Soldier bites out and Steve shakes his head.
"No, I don't believe that's true anymore," he says, quietly. Bucky struggles, but only slightly, out of habit, and then he suddenly goes limp underneath Steve.
They stay like that for a second before Bucky begins to shake.
"Who am I?" he asks, his voice breaking and hitching and causing Steve so much pain he feels like he can't breathe.
"You're my friend," he says, before closing his free hand into a fist and punching Bucky upside the face with so much strength that the man beneath him goes limp in a millisecond and Steve knows that it wasn't just his punch, but everything, all built up inside of him, eating at him and keeping him awake for days on end. He drags Bucky to the couch, leaving his shoes and coat on and throwing a blanket over him. He stands over him, watching him for a minute, before retreating to his own room, where he lays awake for the rest of the night.
Bucky sleeps for an entire day, too exhausted to dream or move. Steve checks on him periodically, watching him from the kitchen, ready at all times for a fight that never comes.
Steve isn't sure what he expects when he wakes up. He goes into the living room and there is Bucky still, sitting now, the blanket pushed haphazardly down to one end of the couch. His hands are folded pensively under his chin and he is staring intently at the wall. He looks up and stares at Steve when he enters the room, but makes no move.
"Morning," Steve says. Bucky does't reply.
"Would you like some coffee?" He's trying to sound conversational. He's not sure how he's doing.
Bucky shakes his head almost imperceptibly.
Steve sighs, unsure what to do next. "How about a shower?" he offers.
Steve nods. "Okay. All right. Bathroom's this way." And he turns his back on the near stranger sitting on his couch and walks back towards his bedroom and into the bathroom.
Bucky follows him.
Bucky showers for almost an hour and a half, but Steve doesn't mind. He uses the time to make himself a pot of coffee and debates what he should make for the two of them to eat. He decides on a stir-fry over rice; veggies, meat and starch. He doesn't care that it's only 9 in the morning; as far as he knows, Bucky hasn't eaten in at least a day and he'll want his strength. Steve cooks the food slowly, methodically, taking his time.
By the time he's done, Bucky has reappeared, clutching a towel around his waist, his long hair hanging wetly in front of his face. He looks cleaner, but that's about it.
"I've got some clothes you can borrow," he says, stepping slowly towards his former friend. Bucky makes no move to stop him or fight him and Steve brushes past him into the bedroom, where he pulls a clean t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants from his own wardrobe. He turns around to see Bucky standing in the doorway, his eyes searching the bedroom curiously. It's not very homey; a dresser with one picture of Peggy on it, a bed that doesn't look as though it ever gets used, and a bedside table with a lamp and the only picture Steve has of himself and Bucky. Steve sidesteps carefully in front of it, blocking it from Bucky's view.
"Here." He tosses the clothes at Bucky, who catches them with his free hand. "You can change in here or the bathroom, it doesn't matter."
Bucky nods slowly and retreats, stepping into the bathroom and closing the door behind him.
When he emerges, he looks a little bit more like himself. His hair is still hanging in front of his eyes and he seems to glare at everything, especially Steve, with an air of mistrust. Steve can't blame him. He did the same thing when he woke up.
"I made some food. You hungry?" Steve places a plate down on the island, loaded with the stir-fry, and gently puts a fork down next to it.
He barely has time to blink before Bucky's scooped up the fork and launched himself over the island at Steve.
The action feels more habitual than desired. Steve blocks the attack easily and manages to get a grip on both of Bucky's wrists, then backs the two of them so that Bucky is sandwiched between Steve and the counter. He struggles, but only half-heartedly.
"Bucky!" Steve barks and Bucky comes back to himself, staring at Steve's eyes, then drifting to take in the sight of the fork being brandished in his hand and the grip Steve has on his wrists.
He slids slowly down the cabinets and curls in on himself on the floor. Steve follows him, gripping his shoulders and trying to get Bucky to look him in the eyes.
"Buck. Bucky, look at me. Bucky, it's okay. Look at me," he pleads, over and over, to no avail. He gives up after a while and manages to pull the quivering mass to his feet and into the living room, where he lays him down on the couch again.
Steve goes through the motions of trying to return Bucky to some sense of normalcy, but he's not sure Bucky knows what that is anymore. He forces Bucky up off the couch every day, forces him to eat something - on normal days, it's an apple, but on good days, he'll also eat some of whatever Steve's made, be it pancakes or a smoothie. Sometimes he eats a mouthful of Chinese take-out or a bite of pizza and when he does Steve smiles. He showers every day, but otherwise, he remains steadily unchanging. The attacks fluctuate; on a good day, he won't try to hurt Steve at all. These are also generally the days when he refuses to move from his spot on the couch. On other days, the attacks vary from once a day to five times a day. Steve never knows what to expect, so he tells himself to expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised or minimally disappointed.
The one thing that Steve clings to is that after each attack, Bucky shows remorse. Not a healthy kind - often he'll curl up in a ball and shake, his entire body wracked by grief and upset - but it's better than nothing. It tells Steve that Bucky doesn't want to be like this anymore, that he wants to change.
He doesn't speak and so Steve doesn't force him to. But he tries anyway to strike up conversations, to ask him if he wants to shave or if he'd like to leave the apartment. He never gets a response.
"Is this us?"
The question takes Steve by such surprise that he almost drops his glass in the sink. Bucky's voice is harsh and gravely from lack of use, but still recognizable as Bucky's.
Steve looks to see what Bucky is talking about and realizes he’s holding the picture from Steve’s nightstand. He feels a pang of worry, but when he looks at Bucky's face, there is no hurt or anger. Only curiosity.
"Yeah. That's us."
Bucky stares at the picture for a long while, holding it close to his face and tracing over the faces staring back at him with his fingers. Steve watches him for a while, then moves slowly forward so that he's standing right beside his friend.
"What are we doing?" Bucky asks, his voice barely rising about a whisper.
"We were telling each other stupid jokes. I can't remember what they were now, though," Steve tells him, staring down at their faces. They look so different, so happy and carefree.
When Steve goes to bed that evening, he notices the picture hasn't returned to his bedside table. He finds it on the coffee table in the living room, positioned perfectly so that when Bucky wakes up, it will be the first thing he sees.
Bucky approaches him early in the morning holding a pair of scissors and at first, Steve is wary. But when Bucky hands them to him and then drags him back into the bathroom, where Bucky sits himself down on the edge of the tub, he suddenly understands.
"How short do you want it?" he asks.
"Not... Not that short. Just..." Bucky trails off.
Steve waits for a few minutes, then positions himself behind his friend. "I'll just take it up a few inches then."
By the time he's done, Bucky's hair is just below his ears. In Steve's personal opinion, it's not that different, but when Bucky appraises himself in the mirror, Steve swears he sees the edges of a smile around the corner's of Bucky's lips.
Steve puts the scissors back.
It's been almost a month since Steve's left the apartment. He's been so terrified of coming back one day and finding Bucky dead on the floor or worse, just gone, vanished into thin air, that he hasn't left for more than ten minutes at a time. He thought he'd done a good job of hiding his concern.
He was wrong.
"You can go out, you know."
Steve looks up from the island to where Bucky is standing, head in the fridge, shuffling things around, before he emerges holding the orange juice carton.
"I'm not gonna leave."
Steve contemplates that for a moment. Part of him wants to believe, but part of him also thinks that that is exactly what the Winter Soldier, not Bucky, would say if he wanted Steve out of the apartment.
"Sorry Buck, but I can't believe that just yet."
Bucky stares at him for a moment, then shrugs and walks back into the living room. Steve looks back down at his newspaper and resists the urge to cry.
They have an arrangement that neither one of them has had to voice; Bucky stays in the living room, has free reign over the bathroom and kitchen during the night, and Steve gets his bedroom. The couch has become something of a sanctuary for Bucky; Steve doesn't use it and in return, Bucky doesn't use his arm chair.
So, needless to say, Steve nearly jumps out of his skin one night when he wakes up to Bucky looming over him.
His initial instinct is defense; he pushes himself away from the potential threat and feels adrenaline course into his veins. He tenses, ready for a fight, when Bucky puts his hands up in a surrendering sort of gesture.
"No! No, I'm not..." He backs away from the bed, from Steve, stopping only after his back hits the wall. He inhales shakily and sinks slowly down to the floor, hands still up.
"I don't want to hurt you."
Steve stares at him, this shell of his best friend, then carefully gets up and kneels down in front of Bucky.
"What's the matter?" Steve asks, gently taking hold of Bucky's wrists.
"You're scared of me."
It comes out as a statement, not a question. Steve hates every word of it.
"No. I'm cautious of what you can do. Not scared."
Bucky stares at him, confused.
"You should be. You should be terrified of me. Of what they did to me."
Steve doesn't ask what he means, just guides him into the bed and wraps him up, waits until Bucky falls into a fitful sleep before retreating to the living room, where he curls up in the armchair and prays he won't dream.
He wakes up the next night to the feeling of the bed sinking behind him and the sheets rustling as another person climbs in beside him. He doesn't say anything, just moves to accommodate the new figure. He falls back to sleep within seconds.
Steve wakes up to the feeling of cold metal pressed to his neck. Without thinking, he grabs the knife by the blade and jerks his arm backward, throwing Bucky off the bed. Steve follows him to the floor, trying to throw the knife away behind him, but then Bucky's fist is flying up and connecting with is jaw and knocking Steve into the wall. He lays, disoriented, for half a second, but it's just long enough for Bucky to wrench the knife from his grasp and drive it into Steve's arm.
Steve barely notices. He pounces on the Winter Soldier - he has to believe that Bucky, the man he's been living with for the past month, the man who's been getting better, would never do something like that - and kicks him in the jaw, knocking his head back against the dresser. This gives Steve just enough time to crawl on top of the Soldier and pin him down.
"Bucky!" he yells. The Soldier struggles and nearly gains an upper hand. Steve pins him back down.
"BUCKY!" Steve's voice is desperate and tired and this catches the Soldier off guard. He stops struggling, looks up at the man above him and suddenly Steve has Bucky pinned down and the Winter Soldier is gone.
At first there is no noise, no movement, then Bucky releases a whimper and his face contorts. He stares at Steve, lost and confused, trying to understand how they ended up like this. Then he notices the knife.
"No..." he groans and throws his head back, slamming it against the floor of Steve's bedroom and then he does it again and again. "No, no, no..."
"It's okay, Buck. I'm fine. See?" Steve releases Bucky and sits back on his heels, wraps his fingers around the base of the knife and pulls it carefully from his arm. He barely flinches, grimacing only just, and then he throws the knife so that it lands somewhere behind him, where he can't see it and doesn't have to care about it. "See? No big deal."
By now, Bucky's hands had come up and were covering his face. Steve tried to pry them away, but when that didn't work, he settled for touching them. The one made of flesh and blood and bone, he knew; he knew every scrape and cut, every dent and freckle. The metal one, though, was new to him. He hadn't thought about it since the night Bucky had appeared in his kitchen. He ran his hand over it, feeling the coolness of the metal beneath his palm, the dents and nooks, where the pieces slotted together to make it mobile.
Bucky's voice was harsh and low, strangled almost and Steve immediately withdrew.
"It's okay, Buck. It's alright."
Slowly, Steve stood, wrapped his arms around Bucky's shoulders and hauled him up and back onto the bed. Bucky's shoulder shook and his breath hitched.
Steve climbed in behind him and pulled them so that they were flush against each other.
They stayed that way until Bucky fell asleep almost an hour later.
Steve already had coffee going when Bucky stumbled into the kitchen the next morning. He did his best to smile and look inviting, but he didn't miss the way Bucky's eyes landed immediately on the bandage on his arm, the look of pure disgust that flashed across his face. Steve bowed his head and studied his hands.
"It's okay, Buck."
"Don't say that."
Steve didn't know how to respond, so instead he just nodded and puts a plate of bacon, eggs and toast down in front of his friend.
They eat in silence, but it's heavy and it feels to Steve like every time he lifts his head he catches Bucky looking quickly back down at his own plate. He feels angry at himself for not being able to do anything and wishes there were something he could say to alleviate Bucky's guilt.
Turns out, he doesn't need to.
After breakfast, they sit for a while longer, not speaking, not moving. Then, very slowly, Bucky rises and walks over to Steve. He stares down at the captain, chewing his lip anxiously.
"May... May I do something?" His voice is tentative and quiet, so unlike the Bucky that Steve grew up with.
"Yes. Of course." Steve nods, but sits perfectly still otherwise.
Bucky nods back, still chewing his lip. They stare at each other for a moment and then Bucky leans down, slowly, and presses his lips against Steve's.
Steve is so shocked he can't move and it's over so fast he doesn't even really have time to process what just happened. Then he feels Bucky's lips moving against his, forming words.
They haven't talked about the kiss since it happened, but it hangs in the air above them like a weights, threatening constantly to drop without a moments notice.
And then one day the thread just... snaps.
They're lying in bed when Steve feels a cool metal circling his waist and at first he thinks he should just ignore it, but then it's pulling him closer, tightening around him and he decides he can't anymore. He can't ignore Bucky, not for a moment longer, and when he flips himself over he barely even has time to take a breathe before Bucky is leaning in and kissing him.
And then he's kissing back.
He decides very quickly that he's glad Bucky kept his hair longer. It makes it easier to thread his fingers into it and pull Bucky impossibly closer, to feel every inch of Bucky's skin, the way his metal hand curved around the nape of Steve's neck. Steve breathed him in, a decidedly Bucky scent that had only made it's reappearance in the last few weeks.
"Steve..." Bucky whispers against his lips and Steve groans and pushes up against him, this man he thought he lost all those years ago, this man he's only just now getting back.
They go on like this, pushing against each other, running hands over exposed bits of skin, lips moving endlessly against one another. And then, suddenly, Bucky pulls back.
"Stop," he says, his voice gruff and thick and Steve stops.
They lay there, breathless, Bucky straddling Steve, his metal hand still around Steve's neck and for just a moment, Steve wonders if this was some ploy to catch him off guard and thinking, if it is, then he'll die happy in some ways at least.
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” Bucky says quietly and Steve lets out a little laugh and shakes his head.
“Me, neither,” He admits.
“Part of me still feels like I should kill you,” Bucky says and it comes out sounding like a warning and Steve swears he feels the metal hand around his neck tighten, just barely. But then it loosens and Bucky is leaning down, resting his forehead against Steve’s. “But the rest of me... The rest of me just wants to protect you,” he murmurs.
“I don’t need protecting anymore,” Steve whispers and this time, Bucky smiles. Just barely, but it’s there.
“‘Anymore’. But once upon a time...”
“Once upon a time it was you protecting me.” Steve reaches up and twists his fingers into Bucky’s hair. He isn’t sure how he’s expecting Bucky to react, but he’s pleased when all he feels is a gust of hot air against his face as Bucky sighs contentedly. “And then it was me protecting you.” Steve angles their faces so that his lips are centimeters from Bucky’s. “Now we can protect each other. How does that sound?”
Bucky doesn’t move for a while. Then he nods, slowly at first, then faster and he presses his lips to Steve’s. “Yeah. That sounds... That sounds good.”
Steve smiles. “Good.”
They don’t really know what to do after that. Some nights, they lay on opposite sides of the bed, desperately trying not to touch one another, but other nights, they can’t get close enough, bodies pressed together so that there is only impossibly small spaces between them.
And then one night it just... changes.
Bucky gets worked up during their make-out and starts grinding into Steve’s leg and it takes all of Steve’s control to not come in his pants right then. And this doesn’t escape Bucky’s notice at all. So he keeps grinding and then he’s biting at Steve’s neck and it’s just too much and Steve comes. He can’t help it or stop it and frankly, he probably wouldn’t even if he could.
So the next night they start experimenting. Taking turns taking fingers, going slow, stopping at the first hint of discomfort.
Whispering lovingly to each other, coaxing one another through their orgasms, Steve more so than Bucky, but Bucky has his moments, too.
Bucky leaves the apartment by himself sometimes now, too, much to Steve’s reluctance, but when he returns one night with a bag of sex toys, Steve’s suddenly glad he didn’t go with him. He wouldn’t have been able to look that cashier in the eye and he’s even happier that Bucky seems to know this about him.
Or maybe he remembers it. Steve doesn’t ask.
They practice bringing each other to orgasm almost nightly. Though Steve is loathe to admit it, Bucky does a little better job of it than himself, pushing all the right buttons and working the toys around in his ass just right every time without fail.
They practice on one another, but Steve notices that Bucky doesn’t like being on bottom, that he asks Steve to stop more often, the he flinches away from Steve’s touch.
So Steve stops topping. And he’s okay with that, because he has to admit, he likes it when Bucky manages to fit three fingers in his ass and all he can manage to say is “more”.
They’re first time is far from magical.
Bucky is working a toy in and out, brushing the tip against Steve’s prostate again and again and Steve literally cannot see straight when suddenly the toy is gone and Bucky’s breath is in his ear saying, “May I?” and it’s all he can do to nod because he needs to come so badly.
It fast and a little painful and over within two minutes. Afterward they just lay silent and still, breathing each other in and trying their hardest to ignore the stickiness of the sheets and the way Bucky shakes and holds Steve probably a little closer than the situation calls for.
They’ve gone back to switching and Bucky’s become more comfortable being beneath Steve. He’s learned he can always say “no” and Steve will stop. He’s learned that Steve will never force him to do anything he doesn’t want to.
Sometimes he still tests the waters, to see what happens in the midst of something that has them both worked up. He’ll flinch or pull back and suddenly Steve will be hovering over him from the side, making it clear he has an escape route if he wants it, that he’ll never have to do anything he won’t enjoy.
During the day they’re inseparable. They leave the apartment, though they always stay close by, and Bucky still rarely speaks, but Steve’s okay with that. He always felt he understood Bucky anyway, with or without words.
They’re sitting on the couch when the door goes flying in.
Bucky’s immediately on the defense, poised and ready to fight back, but then Steve sees that it’s Natasha and he sends Bucky into the bedroom, but there’s nothing he can do to stop him hearing the fight that ensues.
“What are you doing with him, Steve?! I can’t believe you! Three months ago, he was trying to kill you!”
“No, Nat, three months ago he was here, with me, in this apartment, trying to not kill me! He wanted to get better! He’s getting better!”
“How can you believe that? Even for a second! God damn it all, Steve, this man is not your friend! He hasn’t been your friend for a long, long time!”
“You don’t know that, Natasha! You haven’t seen what I’ve seen, you haven’t gone through what I’ve gone through with him to get him to where he is now! He’s changed! He wants to be better, he wants to remember!”
“No, Steve. You want him to remember. To him, you’re just another target and the moment you let your guard down, he’ll kill you without blinking twice.”
Steve wants to tell her that’s not true because, if it were, he’d already be dead, but he can’t do that without hinting at their relationship and he just can’t bring himself to do that. So he stands in the living room and listens to Natasha yell at him like he’s eight years old again and she just caught him with his hand in the cookie jar. He listens until he hears something shatter in the bedroom and then he ushers her out with promises that he’ll be careful and keep his guard up.
He finds Bucky sitting on the bed in the bedroom, the picture of the two of them held in his hands. Just the picture; the frame and glass lay scattered on the floor by his feet. Steve sweeps it away with one foot and then kneels in front of Bucky, cupping his face in his hands.
“What’s wrong?” Bucky’s been so good about telling Steve when he’s upset, about being vocal, something HYDRA never allowed him to do, that it physically hurts Steve to see him sitting there, unmoving.
“What if she’s right?” Bucky’s voice is barely above a whisper.
“What if you are just a target? What if I can never go back to... to this?” He gestures at the picture, then wipes his hand - his flesh and bone one - across his eyes. “What if they’re still controlling me from afar?”
Steve stands up slowly and then works his way forward so that he has one knee on either side of Bucky’s legs. He never lets go of his face and he keeps Bucky’s eyes fixed on his own the entire time.
“They’re not allowed to have you anymore,” Steve murmurs and then presses his lips against Bucky’s, trying to convey every feeling he’s ever had into one single kiss. “You. Belong. To. Me.” He punctuates each word with a kiss - one on the tip of his nose, one on each cheek, the last on his lips again. By the end of it Bucky doesn’t look so sad, but Steve isn’t convinced that his smile is in his eyes.
Steve wakes up to someone screaming.
It doesn’t register, at first, that the screaming is coming from inside the apartment; he mostly just recognizes the sound of agony. And then he realizes it’s inside his home, followed closely by the acknowledgement that it’s right beside him, sharing his bed.
The nightmares began the night after Natasha stormed in. At first he would wake up to the feeling of Bucky pulling him closer, having already woken from the dream without waking Steve. He would hear some phrase being repeated. It took a couple of times to realize Bucky was saying “He’s alive, he’s alive, he’s alive” over and over, as if the mantra would somehow keep that pulse going through Steve’s body.
Then they escalated. Steve surmised that he himself was no longer the topic of the nightmares, but whatever horrific things the men at HYDRA did to him. He would thrash around in the bed, kicking and crying out, sweat beading on his forehead. Steve could wake him fairly easily.
Now all he can do is wait until Bucky wakes up. Then he holds him while he tries his hardest not to cry and Steve will be damned if he doesn’t find a way to help.
He decides to take Bucky to the exhibit. He knows he’s been before - he told him not long after they started sharing a bed - but he thinks it might be good for him, to see a reminder of who he used to be.
They spend the whole day in the museum. Steve tells Buck everything he remembers about the other Howling Commandos, trying to make Bucky smile, laugh. Anything.
They buy ice creams and hot dogs and when the sun begins to set Steve takes him to a theater he found that plays films only from the 1940’s. They share a tub of popcorn and by the time the movie’s done, Bucky is more relaxed than he has been since the day he wandered into Steve’s apartment.
Bucky smiles more regularly. He laughs when Steve tells him a stupid joke and he doesn’t scream during the night anymore. Each time one of these things happens - or doesn’t happen - Steve reminds himself to be grateful for the little victories.
“Ah... ah... fuck, Bucky...”
Steve knows he should be quieter. What if a neighbor hears?
“Ah... oh man... oh God... Buck, faster...”
Actually, what does Steve care if a neighbor hears? The only person he wants to please is currently fucking him in the ass.
“Oh, God, Steve... I’m... fuck, I’m so close...”
“Come on, Buck... right there... fast-ugh-faster... come on...”
Bucky’s metal hand is busying working on Steve’s dick, pumping it, and his hips are somehow picking up their pace, which Steve didn’t even think was possible and before he knows it he’s coming and clenching around Bucky and then Bucky is following suit, whispering Steve’s name like a prayer into the back of his neck. They collapse, exhausted and sated and happier than they’ve been in a long while into a sticky mess on the bed.
Steve’s busy being the little spoon when Bucky leans over and whispers his name into his ear.
“Yeah?” Steve asks, sleepy and content.
There’s a pause.
“Could we try switching next time?”
Steve has been more than willing to oblige in Bucky’s request, but it turns out to be harder than it seemed at first glance. For one, Bucky can’t relax enough to accommodate Steve. They try everything they can think of to make him loose enough; hot baths, anal plugs, even aphrodisiacs that were carefully confiscated from Tony’s lab.
But when push comes to shove, Bucky clenches up, his whole body a mass of tension, and it’s only after Steve assures him that they can try again later that he begins to relax.
Steve can tell he feels a little bad. He can tell that Bucky wants it and yet every single experience he’s had since his fall has taught him to fight this, to fight Steve. He apologizes after each attempt, much to Steve’s annoyance, and so when it eventually becomes clear that they’re a ways off from Bucky being the bottom, they find suitable substitutes. He pleasures himself with toys while Steve watches and sometimes he’ll challenge himself to see how long he can go without coming while walking around the apartment with a vibrator in his ass.
Steve’s happy to watch and happy to take whatever Bucky can give him. They talk about it. Or at least, they try, but they don’t need to be talking very long before Bucky becomes uncomfortable, clams up and needs to spend an hour alone, blocking out the memories of the experiments. Steve never pushes him to talk about more than he’s comfortable with, but he had hoped after almost a year he’d know more than he does.
They’re almost normal. They sleep together, eat together. They shop together and late at night, when they’re both almost asleep, they reach out for one another.
It’s a Sunday and, frankly, Steve doesn’t feel like getting up and Bucky is more than happy to oblige. So they spend the day sleeping in, curled around each other with a window opened a crack and the curtains closed, smelling the fresh air when Bucky suddenly sits up and kisses Steve, long and slow.
“What was that for?” Steve asks in a sleepy tone when Bucky pulls away.
“It’s been a year,” Bucky says, pushing his nose into Steve’s hair and inhaling, basking in the scent of the man who saved him.
“A year since what?”
“Since you let me fall asleep on your couch, even though you knew there was a chance I’d kill you in your sleep.”
Steve thinks and then chuckles. “Oh yeah. You’re right.”
They don’t say much else on the subject for the rest of the day. Every now and then, like when Steve was busy making lunch or right after he got out of the shower and was busy shaving away his stubble, Bucky would come up behind him and kiss his cheek, his ear, his jaw, whisper a reverent “thank you” and then move away.
They decide to order take-out that night. Nothing fancy, just some Chinese from a little shop down the road that delivers if you pester them long enough. The food arrives swiftly and Steve is in the middle of dishing it out when two arms - one cold and metallic, the other warm and soft - snake their way around his middle and two lips press into his shoulder. He smiles and turns around, expecting some long, slow, drawn out make-out session, only instead to have his lips captured the moment he’s facing Bucky, with no chance of escape.
Not that he’d really want to escape if he could.
It starts off innocent enough, a little rough maybe, but nothing unusual. And then Bucky’s hand - the metal one, the one he finally told Steve he hated and the one that Steve then spent an entire afternoon kissing - works it’s way up Steve’s shirt and pinches one of his nippes. Steve gasps and moans into the kiss, leaning into Bucky and bringing both of his hands up to cup his face.
Steve feels like he could stay there forever, blatantly ignoring the tent in his sweatpants, but it soon becomes clear that Bucky has other ideas.
Mostly because he, well, voices them.
“I want you to fuck me,” Bucky moans into the kiss and Steve is so taken aback that he forgets to respond.
But only for a second.
“God, Buck,” Steve groans. He hoists Bucky up - Bucky’s legs go immediately around his waist for support - and somehow manages to guide them into the bedroom, where he unceremoniously deposits Bucky on the bed.
Steve crawls on top of him, pushing up on Bucky’s shirt and pulling it swiftly over his head, lips locked as often as they can be.
Steve runs his hands over every part of Bucky’s exposed skin and feels a shiver run through the man beneath him and for once, he’s not uncertain. He’s not afraid that the shiver was one of fear and not anticipation, he doesn’t wonder if he’s doing okay. He’s so lost in the moment, so bent on making Bucky feel good, that he practically feels like they’re connected.
“I want you,” Bucky grunts, thrusting his hips upward, creating beautiful friction that has Steve groaning and making quick work of ridding himself of his sweatpants.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Steve has to ask, he just has to, at least once. Bucky nods and then Steve is sliding down him, kissing his neck, his collarbone, sucking on his nipples (a trick he learned not long ago that gets Bucky seeing stars), then running his nose through his treasure trail. He pulls Bucky’s pants down, revealing his swollen cock and Steve can’t help but stare at it, remembering all of the times he’s had it inside him, working him into a frenzy and pushing him over the edge.
“Steve,” Bucky says from the top of the bed and Steve remembers what they’re here for.
“Roll over,” Steve says, his voice thick and Bucky, for once, is more than happy to oblige. Steve scrambles off the bed and grabs the lube from the bedside table, bounding back over onto the bed and positioning himself behind Bucky.
Steve leaned over so that his chest was flush with Bucky’s back and kisses his jaw. “You ready?” He asks and Bucky nods, his face flushed and his pupils blown wide.
It’s only been about a week since Bucky took any of their toys and so he’s easy to spread when Steve works first one finger and then a second into him. Steve scissors him carefully, taking note of all the hisses and whines it earns him, until Bucky is practically fucking himself on Steve’s fingers. Then, gently, he adds a third, just to be sure.
“God, Steve,” Bucky groans into the pillow, pushing back onto Steve’s hand and then the good Captain has taken just about all he can.
He pulls his fingers from Bucky’s ass and spreads a generous amount of lube over his aching cock. He bends over and presses a kiss to the nape of Bucky’s neck.
“There’s still time to say no,” he murmurs, just to be sure, and then Bucky is pushing himself onto Steve’s cock and Steve rocks his hips forward and suddenly he’s buried to his balls inside his best friend.
It goes slow, Steve rocking himself forward and Bucky pushing himself back, the constant need for connection. Steve is always aware of Bucky, of what position he’s in, of his breathing, of the way he shivers and moans Steve’s name. And likewise, Bucky is aware of him, the gentle motions he uses, the languid pace Steve elects to take.
“God... Buck-Bucky... Oh my God... Ah... You feel... so amazing...” Steve tries to speak, to remind Bucky that this isn’t just two men trying to get off, but that he’s there for Bucky, always.
Bucky would respond, except he feels so good the best he can manage is a garbled noise that comes from somewhere deep in his throat.
When Steve feels himself approaching, pulls out, much to Bucky’s chagrin.
“Flip over,” he says and it comes out like an order that Bucky is more than happy to obey. Steve picks Bucky’s hips up a bit and then goes back to work, sliding in and out, as deep as he can go. Bucky wraps his legs around Steve’s waist and throws his head back against the pillow and Steve leans forward and whispers into his ear, “God... You look so beautiful... James...” And it pushes Bucky right over the edge, with Steve not far behind.
Steve wakes up the next morning to an empty bed and his first reaction is panic. But then he realizes there isn’t anything to panic about and besides, he hears the shower going in the bathroom, so he gets up and pulls on his sweatpants from the night before and pads out into the kitchen.
A half an hour later Bucky emerges, towel held in a knot at his waist, and the scissors in his hand. He hands them to Steve and smiles.
“Cut it like it used to look?” He asks and Steve is more than happy to oblige.