Steve should have thought about it and gone out to the living room, but when something that sounds like gun fire is loud enough to wake him out of sleep, his first instinct is to see what it is and whether there's danger.
He's on his knees in bed, opening the window right above it to study the street below. There's nothing but a bunch of kids playing with fireworks they must have bought for New Years a few days away and he feels a little sheepish for overreacting. Worse, he forgot it was below freezing outside and the gust of wind blowing in makes the room a whole lot colder.
Bucky starts to struggle under the covers before Steve can make sense of what's wrong, thrashing around trying to get his metal arm free. He gets it untangled from the blankets and he's frantically pushing back something that isn't there in front of him, like he's trying to keep a door from closing, muttering, "No ice. Don't put me on ice... I don't wanna go on ice. Let me out of here..." He's clawing, scrabbling at the air, trying to beat against something in his sleep, words breaking off into a panicked animal noise tangled in his throat.
Steve slams the window shut. The cold, the cryo chamber... He must have been conscious when they put him in there—conscious enough to remember the claustrophobia, his body shutting down...
The sound jars Bucky awake. He bolts upright, muscular chest heaving he's breathing so hard. Steve flicks on the lamp so Bucky can see where he is, can see him, but he doesn't really. His eyes are too panicked and wild to see anything but what he's reliving.
"It's just me, Buck. It's Steve," Steve assures him anyway. He isn't stupid enough to touch him yet, not while he's disoriented. "No one's putting you on ice. I just heard some noise outside and wanted to see what it was. I'm sorry."
It's hard to tell whether his words register. Bucky curls in on himself, long hair falling forward. He wraps his arms around his chest and he's shaking, not from the panic, but the cold where they kept him frozen that won't let go of him.
Steve remembers the panic of being trapped in the ice gripping him in his dreams the first few months after he was thawed. It's worse to see someone he loves go through the same. It's worse because for Bucky the ice meant something so much worse.
Now that he's stopped fighting, Steve lays a careful hand on his shoulder. There's no tensing up, just the goosebumps and the shaking that hasn't stopped, so he moves closer. "There's no ice, Buck," he says again as gently as he knows how. "I've been in the ice, too, and you know what helps? We just gotta get you warm. How's that sound?"
He starts to draw Bucky against his chest. He goes passively, and Steve hopes it's out of trust and not some of the leftover submission HYDRA ingrained in him. Either way, Steve wraps him up tight, giving Bucky his body heat to make the shivers stop while he keeps talking.
"You know what I used to think about when I had nightmares about the ice? How back before the war you would just throw yourself around me at night when I couldn't get warm. You were a lot bigger than I was back then, so it worked pretty well." Bucky's mouth twitches. He doesn't remember. Steve's not supposed to push him to, so he leaves out the part about how thinking about that only made him colder with having to accept all over again that Bucky was seventy years dead. "You want me to show you?"
Bucky doesn't say anything, head against Steve's chest, the ends of his dark hair falling into his mouth. Steve brushes them back and lies down with him, pulling the covers up. He doesn't like taking Bucky's silence for permission. Things aren't anything like they used to be and Bucky only sleeps here because Steve only has one bedroom, but he molds his body around him the way Bucky used to, pressing his heat everywhere and draping an arm around his middle.
Bucky doesn't so much as make a sound, and Steve doesn't know whether it's on purpose when Bucky's feet slip between his, but his breathing is slowing and he's not so clenched with cold and he's calming down.
Steve wakes to Bucky rigid against him. It's a habit from the war, to respond to alarm in the other, even in sleep. Bucky had good instincts, which Steve should have guessed at the time were heightened senses like his own from what Zola had done to him.
He's wide awake now and so stiff, his mouth tight the way it gets when something happens and he doesn't know what he's supposed to do about it. Steve is never sure whether it's because he doesn't trust himself after so many years of knowing nothing but violence, or an honest failure to remember how to respond, but it hurts every time Steve sees it.
His arm has slipped around Bucky's hips in his sleep and after a moment Steve gets what it is this time. Bucky is hard from being pressed so close and the complete ignorance in his face of what a person would do here is awful. The distance HYDRA and their mindwipes carved between them is awful when the Bucky he knew would have turned to him for a kiss and rolled on top of him without a thought. But all that closeness of feeling like one person is buried now under the blankness they left and the grueling struggle to learn how to live his life again.
It's got to be awkard for him, getting a hard on lying in bed with someone who he's been told was his lover, but probably still feels like a stranger.
Steve reaches across Bucky to pull out the lubricant he keeps in the nightstand drawer and sets it beside the box of tissue. "You want me to leave you alone whil you uhh...?" It shouldn't be hard to talk about, not when he's done things to Bucky's body that would put bullet holes in Captain America's wholesome image, but he's not quite talking to the same person right now.
"While I what?" Bucky's eyes are on his face, lost.
Steve swallows hard. It hits him that this might be the first time Bucky has experienced arousal in seventy years. When would he when they only took him out of the freezer for a few days at most at a time, when they had thoroughly desensitized him, and when he's been so hollow these past weeks he must not have had any interest in things like that. It burns in Steve's blood. He's read the files over and over, but it shocks him all over again every time he's faced with yet another way HYDRA dehumanized him.
"Touch yourself," Steve explains. "You know, get rid of the need?"
Bucky still doesn't get it. He waits for Steve to show him. Steve shows him how to do everything else Bucky has forgotten or has trouble understanding and he doesn't get why this is any different. Why would he when HYDRA in their experiments and enhancements has completely stripped him of the concept that his body is sacred and something he's supposed to keep to himself unless he wants to share it.
At the moment, Steve doesn't know if good intentions make him any better, but he presses closer and grabs the lube.
"Gimme your hand."
Bucky does, and all Steve can think about is how the old scrawny him and the old Bucky never in a million years would have imagined a day when Steve had to teach him anything in bed. Maybe it's the only thing Steve can laugh at now.
He gets the lube on Bucky's palm, shifts so Bucky's on his back against him, and guides his hand downward into his pajama pants.
There's only skin and heat. Bucky's not wearing anything under the loose flannel. Distantly, Steve remembers reading that people with Bucky's type of amnesia sometimes have trouble with what's considered 'appropriate', but mostly Steve is reminding himself what kind of person he would be if he got excited by the idea of his mentally confused friend not wearing underwear.
He rests his chin on Bucky's shoulder. "Just wrap your fingers around yourself." Steve coaxes Bucky's slick hand into a fist around his dick and guides it up and down. "Like this."
It's not the time to think about it, but Bucky's cock feels huge now where Steve's hand is around his, enhanced just that little bit by the serum like the rest of him. Like Steve.
Bucky's movements are jerky and too rough and he makes a sound that definitely isn't pleasure. Steve tightens his grip on his hand.
"No. Slow down. The serum makes you kind of sensitive. Make it feel good."
It's the first time Steve's ever talked about those kind of effects of the Serum. Lots of people would love to pry and ask, he's sure, but it's the first time it's been anyone's business.
Bucky slows down and it must feel good, the way he leans his head back, warm, silky dark hair against Steve's cheek. Steve closes his eyes, wishing he could just press Bucky into the pillows, slide down between his muscular thighs, and suck his cock until he's moaning. But that's what he wants, not this Bucky—yet anyway, Steve hopes.
Steve lets go of Bucky's hand and gets an arm around him instead, running his palm over his chest. Not under his shirt over soft hair and bare skin like he wants to, just rubbing lightly through the fabric, encouraging. Bucky's breathing picks up and Steve tries not to watch his hand moving under the blankets and the way his legs are spread.
"Just let it feel good," he says, and he can feel every breath Bucky takes and the way his back arches. He's feeling something, but it doesn't seem to be building toward anything. Steve knows the way he breathes when he's getting closer. "Think about something that excites you. Something that turns you on," Steve coaxes in his ear.
Bucky turns his head and Steve fights the tiny thrill at Bucky's stubble tickling his cheek. "What turns you on?" It's not Bucky's dirty 'tell me something you've never told me before' whisper, but the stark curiosity of someone trying to work out the concept.
You, Steve wants to say, but it wouldn't mean what he wants it to to Bucky now and he's not supposed to put too much importance on the past. He can't talk about the memories he holds onto of Bucky pressing him against the wall of his quarters during the war, fucking him rough and quick from behind with a hand over his mouth to keep him quiet, or the stolen moments in his tent, Bucky's legs up around him and the sharpness of Bucky's teeth in his shoulder as he comes. He keeps stroking Bucky's chest. He doesn't need to touch skin; the heat of Bucky's body has been imprinted on him.
"I think about you wanting me." His fingers lightly scratch Bucky's chest, Bucky's arm a warm friction against his as his hand works beneath the blankets. "Even if you can't remember, I think about you wanting me anyway. I imagine you doing things to me, things you might never have thought about before. Things that would make you feel like you were in control. Because I'd let you, if that's what you needed."
He's spent a lot of time jerking off thinking about Bucky turning him facedown on the mattress and fucking him hard with his metal hand around his throat. He's fantasized about begging for punishment for not getting Bucky away from HYDRA two years earlier.
Bucky's lips part, as red and soft as Steve remembers and so close, and Steve doesn't know whether it's the thought of him submitting or something else, but his hand works faster under the covers and after a moment a small sound escapes his mouth. It's broken and startled, the same sound he made the first time Steve pushed inside him and Bucky was surprised how good it felt. His heart beats faster under Steve's hand and Steve can feel him breathing harder where his arms are around him, can feel the rising flush in Bucky's skin where his cheek is pressed against him.
Steve would give a lot to know what he is thinking about that's getting him more and more aroused. Maybe it's Pierce and revenge, getting his metal around his throat... Maybe it's unleashing relentless carnage on all of HYDRA.
"Just let it feel good. Take your time..." Steve murmurs, stroking his chest.
Bucky's hips rock into the rhythm of his hand and his breath is coming faster in short gasps. Steve knows those sounds. He's close. But there's a kind of franticness in them now that he doesn't remember exactly what the urgency in his body is pushing him toward. He cries out in choked, overwhelmed sounds when he comes, and Steve feels every shudder and clench of muscle where he's holding onto him.
Slowly, they subside and Bucky's sinks back drained against him. His lips are flushed and open in the effort to catch his breath and there's sweat on his face. His ribs are working hard to drag air into his lungs and his heart is racing. It's been seventy years since he felt anything that good.
Steve's mind goes back seventy years, to his dark, cramped tent in the middle of the snow and Bucky beside him, lying sweaty and boneless against the bedding, legs still shaking from where Steve fucked him hard. There's a lazy smile on his face as he rolls onto Steve's equally sweaty chest and closes his eyes.
Steve puts an arm around him and pulls him closer, but he shakes him before Bucky can fall asleep.
Come on. You gotta clean up and get out of here before someone gets the wrong idea.
Bucky purses his lips and snuggles closer in defiance. Give a guy a few minutes. You wore me out.
Steve shakes his head, but his hand is rubbing up and down Bucky's back. "Bucky Barnes," he teases, "Expert marksman, habitual cuddler."
He gets a muffled 'shut up' before Bucky drifts off for a little bit.
Steve blinks and Bucky's boneless against him now. He takes his sticky hand out of his pajama pants and Steve hands him a wad of tissue, doing him the courtesy of looking away while he cleans himself up as best he can.
When he's done, he doesn't inch away back to his side of the bed, but turns, curling into Steve's chest, long hair a mess and a little sweat-damp.
"Wears a guy out," he mutters, though the truth is he's a lot more relaxed than he has been.
"Yeah, but this part feels good too." He puts his arms around him and rubs a hand down his back. "Best way to keep warm."