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hindsight is 20/20

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For the first time in three days, Steve is arriving home as healthy as when he'd left - no new bruises or split lips or almost broken ribs. He's sure Bucky'll be proud of him, tell him how he hates seeing Steve getting hurt like that (even when it was because some big shot was hassling a girl), and Steve'll grin and make no promises. It's not that he likes getting into fights, that would be crazy, but sometimes he can't just be another person who walks past. Anyway, it's summer in Brooklyn, and after a long day he's hot and tired and all he really wants is to flop down on his bed and sleep for a few decades. He's halfway through taking off his jacket and pushing open the bedroom door and-

Fuck.

Bucky's scrambling up from where he was sitting on his own bed, hand obviously in his pants and eyes wide. Steve clamps his own shut, hand still on the door and unable to move. He should probably be used to this by now, having grown up in an orphanage with ten other boys to a room, but for some reason walking in on Bucky like that is a billion times more awkward. Eyes still shut, he backs out of the room, fumbling to close the door behind him. He can still hear Bucky's ragged breathing in his ears.

Steve is considerably more awake than he had been upon entering the apartment and there are other parts of him that seem a lot more awake too. He should probably be ashamed that the next thing he does is head to the shower, but Steve isn't known for his good ideas so he does it anyway, forearm braced against the cold wall as he jerks himself off fast, seeing Bucky sprawled on the bed behind his eyelids.

They don't speak about it for three days, and Steve's pretty amazed they'd made it that long; barely able to look each other in the eye without blushing and darting around each other in the corridor. It's finally brought up on a humid evening when they're listening to the radio absently, lounging on the couch and trying to ignore the heat. He's half listening to some song that he's heard a thousand times in the dance halls that Bucky's always dragging him to when it's switched off. He swallows.

"Steve," Bucky begins, and Steve risks a glance at him and yeah, he can feel himself going red already, "We need to talk about this," Bucky takes a breath as if preparing himself, "We're both guys, we both got needs, and sometimes these things happen, right? We can't just ignore each other - we gotta work around this." Bucky sounds like he's giving a pep talk and Steve fights a crazy urge to laugh.

"And I know for a fact that you do it too." Bucky says and that gets Steve's attention. He splutters half words and looks at Bucky properly for the first time in a while. He's smirking.

"Oh come on, you're hardly that subtle," Steve's gripping the edge of the couch so hard his knuckles are turning white, "Anyway, it shouldn't matter that you walked in on me. Hell, it could'a been a lot worse." Steve doesn't want to think about what it could have been.

"We okay?" Steve takes a deep breath and nods.

"Yeah, Buck. I'm real sorry."

"You don't need to apologise, pal. We're friends, right? It's not a problem."

///

Steve thinks he probably should have been expecting it to happen again, but even if he had, he would never have thought it would happen within the next week. Actually, he's pretty surprised he hasn't really walked in on him before. He knows that Bucky sometimes has girls over, and those nights Steve will sleep on the couch, so he's not sure why he's never thought about the fact that Bucky probably jerks off too. Like he said, they both have needs.

Steve didn't think it was possible, but it feels like the hottest night in Brooklyn he's ever experienced. It's close to midnight and Steve's pretty much given up on the idea of going to sleep; he's lying on top of the sheets in a pair of boxers only, and even with the window thrown wide open it's still swelteringly hot. He's on his side, facing the wall in his bed that would be too small for him if he wasn't so small himself, and he really should have been expecting it but somehow he wasn't.

Bucky moans in the bed next to him. Quiet enough that it wouldn't have woken him had he been asleep, but loud enough that he can hear it through the otherwise silent room. Steve's eyes widen and somehow his ears have turned supersonic because he can hear everything. And he damn wishes he couldn't. There's no mistaking what Bucky's doing, Steve can hear his arm moving against the sheets, the soft breathy noises that slip out his mouth, and all Steve can do is grip the pillow tighter and bite his lip.

He doesn't realise how sharp his breathing has become until Bucky stops. The sudden quiet is almost painful and there's no way that Bucky thinks Steve is asleep now. He expects Bucky to stop, to apologise in a harsh whisper or even leave, but once again, Steve isn't known for his incredible foresight. Bucky starts moving again and Steve doesn't know what to do because Bucky is fully aware that Steve is awake and oh god, that moan is definitely for show.

Steve is harder than he has the right to be in this situation but he holds his breath and digs his fingers into his palms because he is not going to jerk off now, not when Bucky would know full well what he's doing to Steve. Actually, fuck that, he probably already does. Steve squeezes his eyes shut and as quietly as possible, he slips his hand into his boxers. Evidently, he wasn't subtle enough, judging by the obvious hitch in Bucky's breath and Steve can barely believe this is happening.

He gets a hand around himself and this time he doesn't try and stop the gasp that falls from his mouth. He can hear Bucky's hand speeding up and tries to match his pace and fuck, it's too good, too much, and Steve's about to come which is ridiculous, he's a young man, his stamina shouldn't be this low, but all that seems to go out the window when Bucky's movements still and he groans and then Steve's coming too, biting his tongue to stop himself crying out.

Neither of them speak and within ten minutes, they're both asleep. This time, they don't talk about it.

///

When it happens a third time Steve's pretty sure it's on purpose. It's been two weeks since the night that Steve has privately dubbed "the night my best friend and I knowingly jerked off next to each other", and they've both been having suspiciously long showers.

Steve's drawing at the kitchen table when Bucky says he's going to bed. He nods idly and promises he'll be quiet when he enters later and continues sketching. He's miles away and he can't even remember what he was thinking off when he hears the drawn out moan from the bedroom. It is definitely what he thinks it is. He glances round and the door is ajar, and there's no way that Bucky would've done that accidentally. Steve's heart stutters when he realises it means he's done it on purpose . He doesn't know what makes him do it, but he stands up and doesn't stop himself from going to the door and he pushing it open warily, fully aware of the fact he's already half hard in his pants.

Bucky's spread out on the bed again, one hand on his cock and pants around his thighs, but this time he doesn't stop what he's doing. Instead, he smirks at Steve who swallows audibly.

"You just gonna stand there or what?" Bucky's voice is lower than normal and Steve opens his mouth and then decides against speaking and closes it. He doesn't think he's capable of forming words at the moment. He walks to the bed and Bucky removes his hand only to pull Steve down by his shirt and kiss him. While Steve wasn't expecting that (again, bad foresight) he's definitely not adverse to it, and he allows Bucky to tug him onto his lap, not breaking the kiss.

He's a little breathless when he pulls away and prays to any god listening that he won't get an asthma attack in the next ten or so minutes. He doubts he'd be able to last any longer than that, not with Bucky under him all red lips and flushed cheeks and a grin that promises so much. He's staring at Steve like he's the only thing in the world, which makes him squirm a little and mutter, "You gonna touch me or what?" and Bucky smirks at his choice of words as he unbuttons Steve's pants.

Ok. This is happening. And so far, it's a hell of a lot better than "the night my best friend and I knowingly jerked off next to each other". Although that comes pretty close. Bucky puts his hands on Steve's hips and pushes himself up into a sitting position so they're facing each other. Steve feels Bucky's breath on his lips and kisses him again. He decides that he really likes kissing Bucky. Then Bucky gets a hand in Steve's pants and around his painfully hard cock and Steve swears loudly, earning a raised eyebrow from Bucky.

He takes it back. Kissing was great but this , he likes this a lot more. Bucky seems to know just what Steve likes, a twist on the upstroke and a thumb over the head that makes him moan and shake and he tries to kiss Bucky again but it devolves into just gasping into his mouth as he rolls his hips up into Bucky's hand, who groans and grinds up against Steve.

"Buck-- Bucky, I gotta--" He reaches a hand between them and gets it around Bucky's dick, revelling in the way he moans Steve's name like it's the only word he knows and the angle's weird but he tries his best, and it seems to work for Bucky, who's own hand is stuttering around Steve's cock as he presses forwards to kiss him again, moving down to mouth at Steve's jaw and neck. Bucky comes like that, one final thrust up into Steve's palm and he breathes his name into his neck. Steve's right on the edge and all it takes is a scrape of teeth against his jaw until he comes over Bucky's hand with a shudder and a breathy gasp that could be prayer or it could be his name.

They come down with foreheads pressed together, breathing together as their heart rates slow. Bucky speaks first.

"You come so pretty, Steve."

He can't help the bubble of laughter that escapes his throat.

"Bet you say that to all the nice girls, huh?"

"Mmm, only the ones I like." He says and Steve can feel his smile against his own lips. He allows himself to be kissed, languid and slow and warm before pulling away to speak again.

"You do it on purpose?"

Bucky knows what he's talking about and grins wide.

"Had to get you in here somehow."