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Through the notches in your spine

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“Are you sure you're ready for this?” Steve asks, stroking the point of Bucky's hipbone with the pad of his thumb. He is naked and he is perfect and sometimes Bucky isn't sure that he knows how to want things anymore, but Bucky wants him.

When he’d first started looking at Steve and feeling hunger, Bucky couldn't get rid of the clawing, panicked thought that it was the violence he spends every day suppressing bubbling up again, that the last command programmed into his fragmented mind was making its demands. It frustrates him, the amount of time it took to connect the tension thrumming underneath his skin with moments like Steve stepping out of the shower with a towel wrapped around his hips, some errant drop of water sliding down his abs. It felt—still feels—a little bit like failure, like a sharp reminder that he might have broken free from that un-life of missions and obedience and pain, but he can never be a person again (at least, not all the way).

He doesn't remember sex, not really. Except for vague flashes of kissing sharp ribs and a concave stomach; of a broad, bare chest pressed against his; a hot mouth swallowing the sounds he couldn't suppress in a cold, muddy tent, it was burned out of him with all the rest.

Ready doesn't seem like the right word—right words are so hard to find these days, and Bucky's not sure he's ever going to feel ready for anything that isn't the kill. But ready or not, this—sex with the person who's spent months upon months painstakingly helping him become something like human again, the person who's helped him realize that there's good in the world—is something Bucky needs.

There's no point in trying to be eloquent. He wouldn't succeed, anyway. His body has been taken away from him and turned against him for so long, and now he needs to know that it can feel something good, needs Steve to show him. He answers Steve with an affirmative grunt.

Steve laughs and crawls over Bucky to kiss him on the lips again. They've been kissing for what could be hours, but it's still electric. Steve pulls back to look at him, overwhelming affection in his eyes, and strokes Bucky's chest with his big, warm hands. With Steve touching him, Bucky doesn't feel like a cold corpse that HYDRA pulled out of a ravine and turned into their murderous doll. He feels like something else—maybe, just maybe, like he's alive. Steve keeps running those hands over Bucky's skin, ducks his head to kiss Bucky's neck and then lick a stripe from his jaw to his ear.

It's not enough, and Bucky is sick of waiting. He locks his thighs around Steve's hips—careful, so careful, because his instincts are (will always be) lethal, and super-soldiers are not immune to broken bones—and drags him down, so they're chest to chest and nose to nose. Steve's grinning so bright that it looks like it hurts, and his smile warms Bucky up, too, sets something smoldering in his chest.

He takes Bucky's face in both hands and kisses him and kisses him until Bucky breaks away; everything is so bright, and Bucky's heart feels two sizes too large. “Steve,” he says, and it probably comes out as a prayer. Steve's stroking the side of his face and it's so tender, like no way he's ever thought being touched could be—like nothing he's ever done anything to deserve. He shoves the thoughts down, and wraps a leg around Steve's waist. “Make me forget all the bad stuff, please.”

“I'll try my best, Buck,” Steve says, voice thick with so much feeling it's a goddamn blow. “Might remember a few tricks.”

“Ain't that why I keep you around?” He can't quite get the cocky drawl from a lifetime ago, but he can still make Steve smile.

Steve steals another quick kiss, biting Bucky's lower lip, and then he reaches for the nightstand. Bucky watches the muscular lines of his body. He can locate every single weak spot without thinking; attacking would be easier than breathing. Steve is smart; Steve knows there is a killer in his bed, and he just doesn't care and sometimes it's scary, but sometimes it makes Bucky feel free.

Steve returns, victorious, with lube. “How do you wanna do this?”

“We talked about it,” Bucky tells him, leaning back against the pillows and looking up at him.

Steve wraps his arms around Bucky's middle and kisses his stomach. “But you're sure.”

“You're the one who remembers things.” Steve's mouth tickles on the sensitive skin.

“Muscle memory,” Steve reminds him.

Bucky runs his fingers through Steve's hair. It's soft. He’d had to relearn touching Steve like this along with everything else. “Trust you more than I trust my muscle memory.” Strangely enough, trusting Steve was never all that hard.

Steve shakes his head, terribly fond, and hooks an arm under Bucky's thigh, settling on top of him, between his legs. “You ready?”

“Days ago,” Bucky says with his very best scowl.

Steve's hand brushes over Bucky's half-hard cock. It's so nice to be touched like that. “Don't feel so ready to me.”

“What're you gonna do about it?” There are so many things that Bucky doesn't remember, but he knows Steve now—knows him better than blood under his nails and a rifle in his hands, and Steve never could back down from a challenge.

Steve laughs, low and warm, and then slicks up his palm and trails his fingers down Bucky's chest. He wraps his hand around Bucky's length and strokes him, slowly and leisurely, his thumb brushing over the head. This, they've done before. It feels amazing, and Bucky focuses on the sensation, closes his eyes and shuts out everything besides how good Steve is making him feel. A soft little sigh escapes him, and Steve kisses it from his lips, just like in that little scrap of a memory.

Bucky hates that he's missing so many pieces of their past, but he relishes every sweet reminder that it happened. Steve kisses his neck, and then gently bites down. Bucky moans. He's rock hard now; this is bliss and it is almost too much, after so many years of feeling nothing. He clings to Steve's shoulders, digging his fingers into the strong muscles there.

“Stop,” Bucky says. The pleasure keeps building, and he is scared that he might lose control.

Steve starts to pull away immediately. “It's okay. We can try again another night.”

“That's not what I meant.” Bucky stops him with the leg around his waist. “Wanna go all the way tonight. Can't do that if you make me come now.”

“Okay.” He sits back on his heels, hand still hooked under Bucky's knee. Steve looks at him—really looks, eyes all blue and warm and full of love, but also like he's really seeing him just the way he is.

Bucky hides his eyes behind the metal hand. It's hard, to be looked at that way—like he's every good thing in the world rolled into one, especially given what he's been and what he's done.

“You're so gorgeous,” Steve says.

Bucky shakes his head, eyes still covered. He's looked and looked into mirrors, trying to find any trace of what Steve sees in him. It's never worked once.

Steve takes his hand, kisses his metal fingers—the same metal fingers that had wrapped around his neck and squeezed, all those months ago. “Gonna ask again. Are you ready to do this?”

Bucky should tease him, call him a broken record, maybe, but he is too overwhelmed. All he can bring himself to say is, “Please.”

“All right,” Steve says, smiling. There are terrifying moments wherein Bucky suspects that if he said 'please,' Steve would do anything. He pops the cap off the lube. “Talk to me, okay? Let me know what you need.”

Bucky nods, even though he's not sure he knows how to do that, not after so many years of being a voiceless weapon, but it never stops mattering just how much Steve cares.

Steve hitches his leg a little higher, and caresses the skin of his ass, his touch soft enough to give Bucky goosebumps. Bucky shivers and lets his head fall back against the pillow. Steve slicks up his fingers. “You have to relax, okay?” Steve says.

If there's one thing he's always been good for, it's following instructions. He closes his eyes and wills his body to be yielding. The arousal drains out of the room.

“'S not what I meant, Buck.” His voice is sad and fond, all at the same time, but Steve doesn't miss a beat. He moves in for a deep, leisurely kiss and wraps a hand around Bucky's cock, jerks him off slow and agonizing, his hand and his tongue moving in time, until Bucky is shaking with arousal, panting and cursing every time he breaks the kiss for air, the little stutter all but forgotten. That's when he stops, stops all of it, and Bucky is all set to protest, when Steve says, “You're the one who said we were goin' all the way.”

Bucky shakes his head and bites back a laugh. Steve squeezes the back of his thigh, sweet and reassuring, and grabs the lube again. Bucky watches his face—all that love is a constant reminder that Steve's not going to use him or hurt him, a reminder that anything he does is going to make Bucky feel good. He's still looking at Steve (who’s biting his lip, his handsome face all concentration and concern) when Steve pushes a slick finger inside him, slow and gradual and so careful it could kill.

He takes a deep breath, trying to adjust to the sensation.

“How's that feel?” Steve asks.

Bucky stares into his worried eyes. “Different.”

Steve seems to accept that answer. He moves, slowly, and the feeling of intrusion stops being strange; Steve changes the angle, adjusting until Bucky feels a spark of pleasure jolt through him. Bucky keens.

“Good?”

Bucky gives him a nod. It's good, and it's new. Steve keeps going, stimulating him from the inside—that thought is so intimate and intense and Bucky wants more. It takes a while to figure out how to ask for that, but when he does, Steve obliges. It's better with two fingers, the slight stretch making all the sensations sharper, and some of the nerves on Steve's face have been overwritten with lust. Steve likes doing this to him, and that just takes everything to another level.

Bucky gasps and fists a hand in the sheets. He feels like he needs something to hold. Steve's mouth curls into a little smirk and his eyes crinkle; and it doesn't matter what he is clinging to—Bucky feels unmoored. There's no room for cold with Steve's clever fingers working him open and Steve's warm hand in the crook of his knee, no room for the memories of his brain burning with agony when everything feels so good.

“You ready for more?” Steve asks.

The thought of more makes him greedy, and Bucky cants his hips up to meet Steve's movements and moans.

Three of Steve's big fingers are too much and not enough, because all Bucky can think now, when he can make his brain wrap around any thought at all, is that soon it will be Steve inside of him. Steve's cock is as gorgeous as the rest of him, and proportional, too. Bucky wants, even if he's not entirely sure what he's getting himself into.

Steve pushes his leg up a bit more and changes the angle so he can get his fingers deeper. It's even better that way, and Bucky can't stop the sounds coming out of his mouth. He looks at Steve, and Steve just looks so happy to be making him happy, and Bucky can't take it. “Please, I want you now,” he manages to gasp out.

“Okay,” Steve says, voice warm and the little half-smile on his face even warmer. He stops, and Bucky has to bite back a frustrated whine at the loss of all that stimulation and remind himself that in just a few moments, it's going to be even better. All that Bucky can remember is being the pinnacle of obedient patience, and now he's practically squirming with anticipation.

Steve slicks himself up and then squirts some more lube inside Bucky—a weird, cool sensation, but all in the name of making sure that what comes next doesn't hurt him. Steve's been so careful in all this, has been taking all this time and all this diligence for him, and Bucky doesn't even know what to do with that.

Steve settles in between his legs (Bucky spreads his thighs to make room, anything to make room for him), and lines himself up. He holds himself up on one forearm, and grabs Bucky's hand, entwining their fingers. “You ready, Buck?”

“Broken record,” Bucky manages to say this time, reaching up to stroke his hair. It comes out more affectionate than he means. “Yeah, I'm ready. Ain't you the one that got me that way?”

“Yeah, okay. We've got a comedian here.”

“Funnier than you,” Bucky says, and then Steve is squeezing his hand and pushing in, careful and slow, brow furrowed in concentration like it's the most important task in the world.

The stretch is—it's a lot, but Bucky's senses are shot with arousal, so it's intense rather than painful. Intense can be hard for him, too. The only thing it meant for seventy years was the bright bloom of electricity and forgotten memories. But he's not there now—he's with Steve.

Steve strokes his knuckles and moves just a bit at a time until their bodies are pressed flush together. Bucky wills his breathing to stay even. He feels—overwhelmed, maybe. Steve's hot and hard and huge inside of him. Maybe Steve was right to worry, and maybe he's not ready and—he's breathing too fast, and Steve's going to notice any moment now, going to stop and leave.

Steve lets go of Bucky's hand to stroke the side of his face, tender and soothing. He leans in to give Bucky a soft kiss on the lips, and Bucky doesn't feel so panicky anymore. He's with Steve. Steve is inside of him, as close as someone could be, and nothing bad could ever come of that. Bucky wills himself to focus on the moment, to watch Steve's face, soft with affection, to relax and enjoy this. “'s like it's my first time all over again. How many people get a shot at that twice?”

Steve groans. He looks flushed and giddy and bright, and Bucky's inordinately proud that it's his words and his body making Steve glow like that. “I'm gonna make it way better for you this time.”

“Our first time was bad?” Bucky asks, trying not to sound crushed, even though he feels it a little.

Steve traces Bucky's jaw and down the line of his neck to caress his chest. “No, our first time was perfect. We had no idea what we were doing, but it was perfect.”

“Oh,” Bucky says. “You have to tell me about it.”

“I will, someday. Right now, we've got a new memory to make.” His fingers are drawing little patterns on Bucky's skin. He rolls Bucky's nipple between his thumb and forefinger, teasing. “You ready?”

“Yeah.” Bucky nods. His body has adjusted to Steve's, and the heat in his groin and the rhythm of his heart says that he is more than a little impatient. He wraps his legs around Steve's waist, and the little shift pushes Steve in deeper. Bucky groans and gives Steve a little kick. He wants to feel that, but more. “Said I was ready. Was I talkin' too quiet or somethin'?”

“Okay, okay,” Steve says, and then he starts to move, slow—so slow at first, every thrust deep and steady.

It's nice. The initially overwhelming stretch has settled into something warm and delicious, and Steve lets out ragged little breaths that go straight to Bucky's groin. He is watching Bucky's face, trained on his reactions. Bucky's hands find their way to the strong muscles of Steve's back, feeling the way they ripple under his skin with every thrust. Steve threads his fingers through Bucky's hair and ducks his head for a deep, intimate kiss.

Bucky sighs. Steve is fucking him and kissing him and it all feels a little like a dream, too good for anything that happens to the likes of him.

“That nice?” Steve asks, lips finding Bucky's ear, his voice a little breathless. It makes Bucky shiver.

The rhythm is still achingly slow, building towards something warm low in his belly. “Yeah,” Bucky says, and his voice is a little breathless, too.

Steve untangles his fingers from Bucky's hair, and then coaxes his hips up a little bit higher. The new angle means that with the very next thrust, Steve brushes up against a spot inside of him that makes everything go brighter. Bucky gasps, and then Steve does it again, and again. He's going faster now, fucking him with a little bit more passion, but underlying it is all the same tenderness. Bucky moans, lets the drag of Steve's cock moving in and out of him pull every sigh and groan from his mouth.

He's noisier than Steve, who must still be too much in control, but he listens for every heady gasp and low moan, punctuated by the slick, rhythmic sounds of their bodies moving together. It's exhilarating and obscene. Steve's got an arm wrapped around him, hand on the small of his back, keeping Bucky right where he wants him. Bucky needs to see Steve's face.

He opens his eyes (unsure, exactly, of when he had closed them), and Steve is looking at him with such love that it makes Bucky ache a little. There's a part of him that starts to wonder how much of that love is for him, and how much is for the version of himself who died seventy years ago.

Bucky has to stop that train of thought; he tugs Steve down for a long, messy kiss. That ignites something in Steve, and Steve fucks into him faster and harder, till Bucky's shaking underneath him and moaning between kisses. Steve's the one to break away. “Look at you,” he says. “Look at you.” One of his hands finds its way to Bucky's face, to trace his swollen lower lip.

Bucky feels like he's burning up with arousal; it's electric under his skin and Steve's so handsome and so good and so good to him, and Bucky can't tear his eyes from him. Bucky is struck with the thought that this cannot possibly be as good for Steve as it is for him, sex with the half-distracted wreck of his long-lost love. Suddenly, looking up at him hurts. “Can we—can we change positions?” Bucky asks.

“Of course. Can show you all the ones we liked best.” Steve steals one more kiss before pulling out and flipping Bucky onto his side, effortless, like he weighs nothing. He spoons in behind Bucky, so they're pressed back to chest, and runs a hand down Bucky's inner thigh, lifting his leg. His other arm is underneath Bucky, wrapped around his waist, and it must be uncomfortable for Steve, but it feels so nice to be held close that way.

Steve kisses the back of Bucky's neck and then pushes back in. It's good like this, intimate even though Bucky can't see his face. Steve's hand is on his thigh and Steve's mouth is on his ear, licking and biting. It gives Bucky chills.

“Jesus, Buck, you have no idea how good you feel,” Steve whispers, and that gives Bucky chills, too.

Those words in Steve's voice were exactly what Bucky needed to hear—they calm his racing mind and isn't that what Steve's always doing for him? But Bucky isn't guilty about that, not anymore. He lets himself enjoy the sparks of pleasure and the heat in his groin and how good it feels to be stretched and filled. Steve's fucking him slower than before, but it's better now that he's focused on the sensation. Every synapse of every nerve in his body feels alive, and Bucky just—loves Steve—Steve and his infinite patience and his warm hands and his perfect cock. He moans, and it sounds wanton, but not as good as Steve's breathing in his ear, ragged and undone.

“Wanna try another one?” Steve asks, and Bucky moans out something that he hopes in an affirmative. He wants to try anything, everything with him.

Steve bites the back of his neck, sharp and playful. Before Bucky's had time to process that jolt of arousal, Steve pulls out and rolls them over again.

Bucky lets himself be manhandled into Steve's lap—trusting Steve, always trusting him, worth even more than loving him. Steve leans back against the pillows, half-sitting and half-laying down, and smiles up at Bucky, tender, with a lewd glint in his eyes that no one else ever gets to see. Steve lines them up, and Bucky sinks down—he's got the control this way, even with Steve's big hands on his hips to guide him. It's exhilarating.

The room smells like sex and the sense touches something in his memory—it's good, the reminder that he's done this before, that his body knows Steve's body like this. Bucky sets the pace, fucking himself on Steve's cock harder and faster than Steve—careful, gentle, Steve—was doing before.

“Jesus, Buck,” Steve says, and the broken rasp of his voice is almost enough, but Bucky doesn't want this over yet, wants the bright sparks of pleasure when the angle is right and wants the way his heart is racing, beating too fast in a way that should feel like panic, but doesn't. Steve's hands slide up and down Bucky's back—the nice, light caresses that he likes.

He keeps riding Steve, squeezes his inner muscles experimentally and watches the way it makes Steve shudder, makes his eyes flutter shut—long lashes, too dark for his fair hair—his breath hot on Bucky's skin and little, almost-silent moans passing through his lips (but Bucky is listening for them, and so he hears). Steve’s fingers curl into Bucky's back, just on the soft side of rough. Bucky wants to make him lose control, wants to make him press down harder. He threads the fingers of his flesh-and-blood hand in Steve's hair and gives it a light tug.

Steve tilts his head back; the line of his throat is beautiful. Bucky couldn't have enough of him if he tried. He still does, though, takes him deeper and harder, takes everything that he can. Bucky will probably feel this tomorrow, and he wants that—wants to carry this in his skin. Bucky clamps his muscles down, hard, and finally earns the bite of Steve's blunt nails against his back. He's glorious and he is everything and Bucky leans down to claim Steve's mouth with a searing kiss, hot and messy, both of them too lust-drunk for anything like finesse.

Bucky rides Steve and kisses Steve, and he could do this forever, kiss and fuck and fuck and kiss until the world caught fire, but keeping up the vigorous pace and making out is hard—keeping up the pace is hard in general; Bucky can feel the sweat creeping down his skin—and he needs it, needs it hard and fast and more, so Bucky breaks away.

He breaks away and the sight of Steve takes his breath away (what's left of it, it all seems to have gone tight and ragged)

Steve looks shattered (lips red and wet, eyes glazed, pupils blown), and Bucky feels it—everything is too much and too bright and too good—and wasn't it just months ago when feeling anything, anything at all, meant pain? Bucky's orgasm catches him by surprise—the perfect, white-hot bloom of it leaves him helpless. It's the truest kind of release—Bucky shakes with all of the emotions that have shaken loose. This is real and he is safe and he can feel things, good things, and no one's ever going to take this memory away. Steve holds him through it, fucks him through it, aftershocks and all, mouthing at the skin of Bucky's shoulder; and somewhere in the haze, Bucky can feel Steve come inside him, too, can hear Steve's ragged cry, loud for the first time that night. Bucky is lost for a long, long time.

When he comes back down, Bucky is wrapped up in Steve's arms. He's so happy it's dizzying, brain swimming in all sorts of pleasurable chemicals.

“How was that?” Steve whispers, leaning in for a kiss that Bucky is more than willing to give.

“Ngh,” Bucky says.

“I'm gonna assume that's good,” Steve says. Bucky can hear the cocky smile without opening his eyes to see it. “You okay?”

“Good, so good. I'm good. It was good.”

Steve strokes his back, holds Bucky for a long moment before slipping out of bed. He comes back with a warm, damp washcloth, cleans the mess of come off both their chests and the lube off Bucky's ass and thighs. It's so nice, having someone—Steve, better than just someone, better than anyone—care for him like this. (Nicer, still, when Steve has finished his task and can go back to cuddling again.) He arranges them so that Bucky's head is on his chest, where he's so safe and so warm with Steve's arms around him and the steady thrum of Steve's heart in his ears.

Bucky opens his eyes.

The sun is shining outside, and there is nowhere that they have to go—no rules, no obligations, no mission. He's just...with Steve, who loves every scrap of memories in his head, and all the spaces in between, who says his name like it's the most important word in the English language (or any other).

“What are you thinkin' about, Buck?” Steve asks, getting a gentle hand in his hair, stroking it. It feels good, both the sensation and the affection.

Bucky lets out a soft, contented little sigh, beams up at Steve, whose face is soft with so much love. What a pair the two of them make—so gone for one another that it's probably disgusting, and Bucky cannot bring himself to care. “You. I'm thinking about you.”