The Soldier wouldn't let Steve face him.
No matter how much Steve reassured him, no matter how hard he pleaded, no matter how he said he wanted the first time to be special and intimate and sweet, the Soldier steadfastly refused. Bucky perhaps would have said yes, but Bucky was tucked away just now, safe like a swaddled child in the steel mind and nearly indestructible body of the Winter Soldier, so Steve had to work with what he had... and what he had was the Soldier, and he cared for him with as fierce a passion as he did for Bucky. He had no choice but to back down to give them both what they wanted.
The second caviat was much harder to convince Steve of. Not only did the Soldier prefer to be taken from behind, but he insisted also that Steve tie his hands behind his back, hands bound into fists, so that he'd be least likely to damage him. Steve dug his heels in on this for days, but finally – to give them both what they wanted – he had to acquiesce to that, too.
His soon-to-be lover's insistence notwithstanding, Steve felt an awful lot like he didn't have consent for this as he positioned the Soldier carefully over a chair. It had been his turn to insist on that – the Soldier couldn't very well hold himself up when his hands were bound, and Steve would be damned if he would just use him without touching him in return. The chair was the answer, giving Steve full access to what he wanted to reach, and Steve accompanied it with a pillow for the Soldier's knees to ease them. The fine rope binding his wrists was a point of contention, though; the Soldier insisted that he wasn't tying them tight enough, and Steve's stomach kept twisting when he looked down to see him bound in a way that looked so cruel and inconsiderate.
It took eight days and three attempts before they managed to set things up to both their liking. That is, for Steve to stop feeling sick when he bound his friend's hands. The rest was fine, and the Soldier had turned to him and given him a sharp lecture on how to bind an enemy after the first failed try, so that was alright too. It was just – trusting him that was the problem. Steve didn't want to admit that, of course, not to either of them, but he came to realize that it was the truth. Having heard the hints (both from the Soldier and Bucky, who the Soldier so carefully guarded) of how he had been treated made it hard for him to believe that the Soldier would tell him if he were hurt, or if Steve were doing something wrong, or if this was really wrong and awful for him in the first place. But, again... to give them both what they wanted – desperately, now – he had to give in.
They took it slower, the last time. It started with kissing, not with intent. The soft, cautious kisses that seemed so strange coming from a man with such hard eyes and so little humor. Steve always accepted these kisses like the most precious of gifts, bestowing his own with tenderness and encouragement. It was a good day when the Soldier let Steve slide an arm around his waist while they kissed. It was a better one if he encouraged Steve's arms around his neck. It was most touching when the featherlight kisses were accompanied by the press of that much-contested rope into his hands.
Steve didn't fight it, not when the Soldier asked like that. He deepened the kiss instead, to where he knew he was pushing his friend's boundaries a little, testing him to be sure that he could take it. There was no give on the other end, only a response tempered by genuine need, and Steve found himself unable and unwilling to refuse.
Over the arm of the couch, this time, with his head resting on the edge of the coffee table and pillowed by a folded blanket. The Soldier had stripped for Steve, with a quick and ruthless efficiency that it was unlikely anyone else would find erotic. Steve did, knowing what it meant. The Soldier didn't have to strip slow and sexy, making a dance of it, because he gave everything he had up front and all at once. What Steve had, he had for good. He wasn't willing to ever give that up, and he'd give almost anything not to ruin it.
With the Soldier naked and bent before him, knees spread and digging deep into the cushions, Steve was hard pressed not to just cry at the beauty of it. He'd never have thought six weeks ago that they could be like this, that he could earn this trust. He'd thought that the Soldier could never love him, that he would have to have Bucky back to have any of it back. Turned out that he was wrong, but that he'd gotten both for the price of – well, not one. For the price of everything, because they'd both given everything to be here, hadn't they? Now they gave everything to each other, and it touched Steve, because the Soldier had precious little to share.
He expressed some of this tenderness by bending forward to press a kiss to the small of the Soldier's back. The other man was tense under him, and he knew from experience that touching him more would do little good to soothe him. He hated being bound like this, hated feeling helpless because he had known everything about being helpless. Steve had to respect that, and knew that to care for him, he had to do things he might not normally consider caring. Instead of caressing his back, therefore, or kissing or holding, he reaches for the lube that had come with the rope and drips it onto his fingers until they shine with it.
Preparing the Soldier to accept him is an even greater gift than his kisses. Every moan and gasp and tiny mewling sound has a surprised tone to it, as though he can't believe in pleasure for pleasure's sake and every moment of it is new and unbelievable. The sounds are hard won, too – Steve has to work patiently, slowly, twisting his fingers just so and pressing just there to gain those sweet moments when the Soldier's body relaxes for just a moment in overwhelming pleasure and he can slide a little deeper, stretch him a little wider.
When he's finally ready Steve's almost forgotten how to be aroused, so intent is he on the Soldier's comfort and pleasure and so full of feelings of tenderness. It would be a sin, a betrayal to let him down now, though. He withdraws his finger slowly, slipping them from the Soldier's tight, slick heat, and curls his hand around himself to make him hard again. He hesitates only a second before reaching down to wrap the other hand around the Soldier's cock, hard and feverishly warm and so moist at the tip that his exploring finger slide right off and he has to grip again. The man bucks into his hand at the touch, but remains oddly silent. Steve isn't sure if that's a good thing, so he just keeps going, trusting, and the little jerky motions of the Soldier's hips tell him that he's doing something right even though the sudden absence of sound bothers him, suggests that he's made a mistake.
But no. No, he hasn't. Though he remains silent except for the most tiny, controlled gasps, it's clear that the Soldier is enjoying the touch of his hand. They've never done this – never done anything but kiss. It was always too much but not enough, and Steve had never been willing to push. He's almost sorry he hadn't tried, now, because it's clear that this is good for him. He switches hands in favor of sliding his lube-covered palm over the Soldier's cock, quite forgetting to put the other on his own. He rests it on the Soldier's hip instead, stroking him with slow and patient care as the little hitches in breath become music to his ears. He moves closer without realizing it, until his well oiled shaft is pressed tight against the Soldier's ass just for the bare friction of it. That's enough, for the moment. He doesn't want to ruin this momentary peace, this trust, by penetrating him when it's clear that all of this is already so much.
Though he could touch the Soldier like this forever if that was what he wanted, it's a surprise to Steve when after several minutes he hasn't come. With tentative care he stretches himself over his lover's back, sliding his free arm loosely around his waist to murmur in his ear. It's simple, not even particularly sexy. All he says is a soft, “Will you come for me?” and then the Soldier is shaking under him, trembling violently and gasping like he's been starved for air and Steve isn't sure that he doesn't hear a sob somewhere in the mix, torn violently from the Soldier's throat even as his body melts under Steve's.
His own pleasure is forgotten. Steve stays there, holding him, cheek pressed to the back of the Soldier's shoulder as he catches his breath. His lover is still beneath him for what seems like a very long time before he turns his head to glance back at Steve. He looks... stunned. Shell-shocked would be a painfully appropriate word, in fact... except that it isn't. Shell-shock, or some form of it, is what keeps Bucky hidden away to peek out only when the Soldier deems it safest. This – this shock and pleasure and awe in his eyes might be what make it safe for Bucky to walk free. Steve is just as awed, and he leans carefully up to press his lips to the very corner of the Soldier's mouth.
“I love you,” he says, and for the first time the Soldier not only trusts it, but believes it.
They had far more success after that. The Soldier let Steve free him from the ropes. He even let him take him to bed, make love to him properly. Steve slept, after, and the Soldier stayed awake with his body molded to Steve's side and his head pillowed on his shoulder. He wanted to sleep, wanted to relax and feel the warmth of pleasure satisfied and a new joy made safe for him, but he couldn't. Memories kept creeping in, painful floods of them. They were all short, all similar, but there were so many. He couldn't imagine how they could all be true, and he hated himself for seeing them. He thought he might hate himself even more if he could know for sure they were true.
He kept seeing Pierce. Pierce leering at him in that way that he did when the Solider had done well, had achieved the objective, finished the mission. He'd always said that the Soldier deserved a reward, and when he used that tone, the Soldier always felt a stirring mixture of arousal and dread, because he knew what came next.
Then Pierce would reach out. He'd unfasten the Soldier's pants and dip his hand inside, drawing him free. Then he'd stroke him, very slowly, and with no visible pleasure. He'd always describe the mission when he did this, his voice cool and calculating and completely free of any kind of intimacy. It never took long for the Soldier's cock to fill, for his body to respond with excitement only multiplied by the sense of shame. Pierce always took him right to the edge, to where one more squeeze or stroke or faintest touch would bring him to the end...
Then he'd stop. He'd stop, and he'd tell the Soldier quite clearly not to come. Then he'd take his hand away and turn away and say in that chill tone, “Wipe him.”
Remembering it made Bucky want to scream. The Soldier turned his face into Steve's shoulder and closed his eyes tightly. It was only because he was certain that Steve was asleep that he allowed himself to cry, the salt tears dampening the Captain's skin and running down the slope of his shoulder to wet the pillow.
It took hours for the Soldier to sleep, the sweetness of their intimacy marred by the hated memories. Eventually he was able to rest, but even as he slipped into oddly empty dreams the mantra he'd been repeating in his mind to tune out the memories accompanied him. It echoed there, somehow comforting even in its desperate intensity, reminding him that no matter what the past held, the future would be better. He had a safe place, now. That place was a person, and even if others brought him pain, he could trust that one would give his very life to keep the Soldier safe. The words rang in his dream ears, in his mind, drowned him in reassuring, stubborn certainty. Not Steve. Not Steve. Not Steve. Not Steve....