It takes years- almost five, in fact- before Bucky is at a point where he’s a regular on missions with Steve. There are still words they don’t say, but they’ve said, at least once each, what they needed to, and they’re good, they’re comfortable like they haven’t been since they were kids at school, before scoliosis and hormones and life.
There are things they say to each other, little codes, that get them through the day. Nothing so obvious as the old telegraph acronyms that substituted country names for explicit messages, nothing so crass is likely to come up between two people who have finally acknowledged, at least silently, that they have a relationship deeper than blood and bone.
Bucky’s got his sense of humor back, though, at least most of it, and his smiles aren’t as easy or as wide as they used to be, but he’s still effortlessly charming and the team, by and large, can appreciate his jokes. Which is why they all wonder what they’re missing when Bucky pipes up over the comm line- such a rare thing, some of them can’t even remember him ever doing it before, aside from a grunted “I’m on it” when he’s being given coordinates to take the point, or the six.
"Good day for you, Rogers. Only had to pull you out twice."
"I wasn’t worried," Steve says. He’s on the ground with his bike, grinning up at the skyline, in the general direction of where he knows Bucky is. "My sniper’s the best in the business."
The Quinjet pilot makes a gagging gesture at Natasha in the copilot’s seat, but she shakes her head at him. It’s so rare that Steve compliments Bucky in front of people. It’s so rare to see Steve grin. She can count the number of people who can get teeth out of him on one hand, and considers herself privileged to make the cut.
"Somebody’s gotta cover your stupid ass," Bucky drawls, and they can hear shell casings plinking on the ground. "Nice to know I’m appreciated."
"Scale of one to ten," Steve says, the grin toning down to a softer, more familiar smile. "How’d I do today?"
"Bout a seven," Bucky says, and everybody’s eyes widen, heads shaking, because Steve just chuckles, low and relaxed. "Make it a nine if you come help me pack up all this shit."
"If that’s a seven, how’s he ever gonna make a ten?" Natasha asks, and Steve and Bucky both laugh as Steve turns the motorcycle toward Bucky’s twenty.
"There’s no ten," Steve says.
"There’s always room for improvement," Bucky says, and Steve’s shoulders shake like he’s laughing, even though he’s not on the line anymore. Pretty soon he’s out of sight.
"I’ll ride back with Cap," Bucky says. "Barnes out."
Bucky’s rifle and all his kit is packed up neat ages before Steve gets there, and he’s waiting in an alley instead of up on the roof, just enough light filtering in from the setting sun to make him look like a shadow in his black clothes. He’s got his hair tied back and he’s carefully putting out a cigarette that’s only half smoked, tucking it into the cellophane instead of the pack, an old trick he’s been pulling since forever, though Steve doesn’t think he’s ever pulled a fresh smoke when he didn’t mean to.
"Seven, huh?" Steve says as he smoothly slides off the bike, and Bucky laughs, and it’s all Steve can do not to tackle him. "Glad I asked."
"I can’t believe you," Bucky says, opening his mouth when Steve takes off his gloves and tucks them in his belt. "In front of God and everybody."
Steve slides a disc of red and white swirled candy out of the pouch where he keeps his WoundSeal and chemlight. A pinch slides the wrapper off and he puts it in his teeth, then gets right in Bucky’s space, lowering his chin just enough that they’re almost the same height.
Bucky lifts his open mouth and Steve kisses him right as he’s claiming the peppermint, Bucky’s fists grab him by the straps on his uniform and pull him in close, and it’s a sweeter kiss than they oughtta be having in full combat gear in the daytime in the middle of the city. Sweet with peppermint, sure, but with want, too, and Steve’s already squirming in close when Bucky’s arms go around him and his fingers slide down Steve’s spine.
Steve slows down, his mouth goes soft. “Okay,” he says, then he grins, slyly. “Mm, me first.”
"Yours are worse than mine," Bucky says, but he’s already taking Steve’s helmet off, crunching the peppermint in his teeth between soft, sticky kisses. "I’m listenin’."
"Your left eye hurt?"
Bucky snorts, licking his jaw. “No, why?”
"Cause you’ve been lookin’ right all day."
"Christ," Bucky says, but there’s a hint of a laugh in it and he’s pushing Steve deeper into the alley and up against the wall. "Which pocket’s your phone in?"
Steve makes a quizzical noise, head tilted back. It’s his turn to pull Bucky forward by all the straps on his jacket, encouraging him to tug Steve’s collar until he can lick a hot stripe up the middle of his throat.
"Cause that ass is callin’ me."
Steve lets his head rest against the brick of the building, closing his eyes, carding his fingers through Bucky’s hair, working the rubber band off the little ponytail and around his wrist with practiced ease. “Should we have waited ‘til we got home?”
"Goddamn it," Bucky says, pouting and scraping Steve’s adam’s apple with his teeth. "That was a good one, I saved that one all week."
"It kinda worked though," Steve mutters, with one hand tangled in the hair at the back of Bucky’s neck and the other pulling his hips close with his utility belt. "I was hoping you’d wanna fuck me."
"Steve," Bucky sighs, grinding into him. "You ain’t got a romantic bone in your body."
"Romantic ain’t the kinda bone I want in my body," Steve growls, and Bucky almost- almost- breaks.
"You little shit," Bucky says, shoving his hand into the pouch behind his second backup gun and yanking out the little silver and gold bottle. "I walked right into that."
Steve catches sight of the blue label and now it’s his turn to almost lose the game. “You are the biggest fucking jerk. How many bottles of that shit did you buy?”
"Okay, how am I supposed to resist a goddamn lube that’s actually called Gun Oil?" Bucky says, giving Steve his best filthy smile, the one that cocks his head and makes his eyelashes a thousand miles long. Even without the Cary Grant hair, it still works, goes straight to Steve’s guts and makes heat run through him like a wave. "Anyway, it’s the same bottle. I put the fancy shit in the bedside table."
"So Gun Oil’s for mission sex now," Steve says, pursing his lips a little because he wants to laugh so goddamn bad, but he’s lost the last three times. Bucky’s always been funnier. Steve’s always hated losing, now it’s turning into a personal challenge. "Christ, you’re cheap."
"Baby," Bucky licks into Steve’s mouth, ruthless and persistent. "You’re tradin’ me a piece of candy for a piece of ass. I were any cheaper, I’d be free."
His gloved metal hand snakes around Steve’s hip, and his fingers are strong enough that it’s like the neoprene and Kevlar are cotton. The crack of Steve’s ass- that little patch of skin between his cheeks, but not quite low enough that anybody but Bucky would notice- is like a pull starter that revs Steve’s cock to the point where he’s screwed, he’s screwed, he’s gonna lose his shit and he won’t be able to focus enough to keep from laughing the next time Bucky breaks out something good.
Steve’s eyes roll helplessly and he scowls, and Bucky grins into his mouth and kisses him, hard and deep and slow. He’s peppermint and metal and leather and Bucky and Steve’s goddamn knees threaten to give out like always, so he doesn’t put up much of a fight- or really, any fight at all- when Bucky unfastens his belt and lets it all drop to the ground, but then he spins him around. Steve clenches his eyes shut and hopes, but of course hope doesn’t work. Bucky almost gets close enough to grind on him, but stops when he sees what Steve was hoping he wouldn’t.
There’s a low, chilling hiss in Steve’s ear, and soft, tender fingers skate across the rip in his uniform where the blood’s already drying. It’s still a little raw, but not so much so that Steve would have given himself away if Bucky had, like Steve wanted him to, just taken his pants down enough to pick him up and fuck him against the wall.
Both of them are strong enough to lift cars, it’s not like wall fucking is out, provided the wall is brick or concrete.
"I missed a spot," Bucky says, low and irritated, and Steve is worried, because Bucky gets mad when Steve gets hurt, especially if he was on the six.
"Wasn’t your fault," Steve soothes him. "Doesn’t even sting anymore."
"Baby," Bucky starts, but Steve turns enough to look at him over his shoulder, and it’s as cheap as a laugh but that earnest face that Steve has used to insist he can take care of himself since they were kids is, even now, enough to get Bucky to stop protesting, even if it doesn’t totally smother his guilt.
Steve smiles a little when Bucky sighs, dropping and grabbing Steve’s belt, shoving him up against the wall in the same position he’d be if Bucky were gonna fuck him- which he still might- and pushes his uniform up.
"Your back’s gonna be orange," Bucky says, and Steve sighs as Bucky hangs the belt over his shoulders and starts snapping open pouches to take out the components of his IFAK.
"Just use the bacitracin," Steve complains. "Why do you always go for the iodine?"
"Because with our luck, too many antibiotics combined with our goddamn immune systems will be the combo for the MRSA that ends all human life," Bucky retorts stubbornly. "Nothin’ doin’."
"Oh my God," Steve groans. "You’re not allowed to watch any more of those fucking superflu movies."
"Look," Bucky says. "No, don’t look. Just shut up. We get this cleaned up quick enough, I won’t get too moody to do you." He huffs. "Why do you even carry that shit? A pro-vaccine crusader who uses goddamn antibiotics when he don’t have to is fucking hypocrisy. Ugh."
He swats Steve’s ass in disgust, which Steve used to hate, but he’s taking the threat of Bucky’s complete lack of interest in screwing very seriously and opts to clamp his mouth shut rather than start a fight. He’s learning. Besides, Bucky might actually have a point, not that he much wants to argue the finer points of twenty-first century medicine. His cock is getting bored.
"You’re so good to me," he says instead, low and pleased, and Bucky’s hand stills for a moment, then goes back to working the iodine into the gash in his back, gentle and careful in a way that only Bucky has ever touched him. Big as he is, he’s still Bucky’s baby. The thought starts fixing the bored cock problem pretty quickly.
"You bring the butter and I’ll bring the cream," Bucky murmurs, and Steve clenches his teeth, because that’s filthy and funny and he’s really not nearly as good at this as he ought to be after twenty years of listening to Bucky’s banter.
"As long as my buns get toasted," Steve says, surprising himself at how quickly he responds. "I don’t much care."
Bucky catches his breath and holds it, and Steve smiles even as he grimaces, because damn, he almost got him that time.
Inspiration strikes, and Steve closes his eyes, because he’ll never top this. It’s probably the worst thing he’s ever said in his life, and he kind of wants to slap his own face. “Hurry up and put on those bandages so you can pump me full of cream and suck me out like a cannoli.”
Bucky snorts. He starts shaking. Steve can hear when his mouth opens, so he wiggles loose, grinning. Bucky’s giggling so hard he’s hissing and wheezing, clutching his mouth with his right hand and his stomach with his left. After thirty seconds, he has to grab hold of Steve’s shoulder to hold himself up. Tears are streaming down his face.
"You fucker. You fucking punk. I swear to Christ, I’m gonna die," Bucky sobs, laughing until his whole face turns red. "Jesus fuck, Steve. You win. You fucking jerk. Oh my God." He wraps his arms around Steve’s waist and laughs into his neck, shaking all over. "You win forever. Mary help me. I’m telling Sam."
"You are not telling Sam!" Steve exclaims, and he can’t decide if he’s horrified or proud of himself. "You’re not telling Sam shit! Shut up!"
"You are," Bucky says, kissing him on the lips. "You’re precious. You’re beautiful. Oh, you ruthless little sack of shit." He still can’t stop laughing. Steve hasn’t seen him laugh this hard since he puked on the Cyclone. "Oh, God, baby, you’re ridiculous. Why would you say that? Why?"
"You beat me three times in a row," Steve huffs, and his mouth is twitching. "Three goddamn times, Buck. I wasn’t in my right head."
"You’ve ruined cannoli for me," Bucky giggles against his mouth. "I’m just going to think of rimming every time I see one, I can’t go into a bakery or an Italian place ever again. I’ll lose it."
"Good!" Steve says, yanking Bucky closer, biting his bottom lip. "You oughtta! I can’t even look at butchers anymore."
"Oh come on," Bucky’s still shaking all over. He nuzzles past Steve’s jaw and starts sucking frantic kisses into the side of Steve’s neck. "You’re still mad about Prague? If Sam had been fast enough to get out his phone that would have been the most viral video of all time."
"Captain America laughs himself sick over dipshit fellating a sausage?" Steve says, but he’s cracked and is laughing, too. "Oh yeah. That’d be the last thing left when the Internet died."
"You turned so pink. It was cute," Bucky reminds him, rolling his hips into Steve’s in that way that makes every inch of him want to be riding them, and Bucky knows that look real well. He hums his next laugh, picking up the lube from where he dropped it and then starting to ease Steve’s pants down. "Shit, we need to go faster before they let the civilians come back. Mm. Okay, it’s a tie. We’re both complete assholes. We deserve each other. Kiss me, you fool."
"My asshole ain’t feelin’ very complete right now," Steve grumbles, his chest shaking, and Bucky grins against his mouth before pinning him back to the wall again. "The Hell does Sam see in us?"
"His dick. Anyway, don’t think I forgot about your back," Bucky murmurs. "I’m serious, I’m tellin’ him everything you did today. You know how he feels about you letting shit close up with dirt and fibers in it."
Steve kisses him, and his uniform pants are down around his knees, and Bucky makes low, encouraging sounds into his mouth, curling Steve’s fingers around his cock before he puts his hand anywhere near Steve’s. Once he’s touched it, he times his strokes with Steve’s, and they pant into each others’ mouths until Steve’s dizzy, and Bucky flips him around.
"Spread those sweet cheeks for me, Cap," Bucky says, and Steve motions with his head that he’s rolling his eyes, but then Bucky’s got his cock slick and sliding up and down that spot, that damn spot where he had his hand before, and Steve has to bite his lips together to keep from moaning any louder than he wants to.
Bucky’s fingers inside him are just beyond cursory, enough to make sure he’s slick more than open, because Bucky would never push Steve more than Bucky was comfortable. Mission sex is the one time Steve wants something quick and with a burn instead of his usual slow, comfortable screw. He’s still high on adrenaline and Bucky’s still laughing when he starts to push inside him. Steve gives and stretches and groans Bucky’s name, louder than he usually dares when they’re outside.
"Feel good, baby?" Bucky asks, resting his forehead against the nape of Steve’s neck. He’s only about a third of the way in, but Steve’s already starting to rock his hips and sweat. "You want it like that, huh?"
"No time," Steve reminds him, breathless and hot. Bucky’s cock is millimeters from where Steve wants it to be, but it feels like it might as well be across the room, to his lizard brain. "Evacuation’s almost over. Gimme it, Buck."
"Gimme, gimme, gimme," Bucky growls. "You’re so goddamn hot when you want me." He kisses the back of Steve’s neck, touches, gently, the gash in his back, checking to make sure it’s still clean, and when Steve starts to whine Bucky pushes slowly, slowly forward until he stops struggling and goes still. "Feels good, baby?"
"Fuck me," Steve insists, trying to push backward, but Bucky’s in control now, and he shifts back so Steve can’t chase him, metal fingers curving over Steve’s shoulder and gradually pinning him back to the wall.
"My dick, my pace," Bucky says, then, softer, "I always take good care of you, don’t I, baby? Let me give it to you. Don’t be so greedy. I’ll tell you when you can bounce on it."
"Bucky," Steve sighs, and he ain’t the type to blush when he’s embarrassed, but he does blush like crazy when he’s horny, and Bucky being sweet makes him go up in flames. "Please?"
"Since you asked nice," Bucky says, all casual, and then he slowly sinks as deep into Steve as he can, opening him up with his cock, stretching, burning just the way Steve likes, and when he hits the right spot and keeps going until Steve feels like his body’s being rewritten and yeah, that is pretty nice.
"Bucky," Steve’s body goes boneless. He takes every stroke like it’s a dream, Bucky’s hand on his neck keeping him grounded and stable, but also making sure he’s right where Bucky wants him, getting it just like Bucky wants him to, and everything is Bucky.
Steve’s happiest when everything is Bucky. He wonders if Bucky knows, if he should say something, but then Bucky sighs and starts to drive against him hard enough to make their skins collide and slap, and “Bucky,” is all he manages to get out.
"You get so fuckin’ hot after a mission," Bucky sighs. "Goddamn it, Stevie. You’re gonna get us killed like this."
"Worse ways to go," Steve mumbles back, giving his hips permission to start rolling and bouncing as hard as he could within his limited range of liberty. "Come on, Buck. God, I want you. Bucky."
Bucky hums, low and pleasant. “Only word you need to know,” he says, and he starts driving it deeper, still slow but deeper, deeper until Steve’s devoting his thigh muscles to how far apart he can keep his legs while still half in uniform. “Okay, baby,” he says, relaxing his arm so Steve can move, and the motions that follow are like pieces falling into place.
Bucky kneads love into Steve’s back while he rocks into him, over and over. Bucky goes faster, until Steve’s making low, happy sounds with every thrust. Bucky wants to feel himself come, feel Steve clench up when Bucky starts to spill and boil over into him.
Everything is belts and leather and sweat, iodine and gunpowder. Steve’s hand finds Bucky’s on his hip and he grins, his mouth half-open, his eyes mostly closed, his ass bouncing on Bucky’s hips. “Bucky,” Steve moans.
"Want it?" Bucky manages, knowing what he wants to hear, knowing Steve knows what he wants him to say.
"Gimme it," Steve says, though Bucky wasn’t expecting the impassioned, adoring glance over Steve’s shoulder, the possessive, challenging little smirk when he goes tighter and more rhythmic and merciless. "Gimme it, Buck. Come in me."
"Christ," Bucky whispers, "Christ God," and he closes his eyes, and before he even knows it, he’s coming, and Steve’s moaning, low and hungry, and they keep crashing together until they’re both raw and spent, and Bucky eases out slow.
Steve doesn’t even have a minute to try to stand up before his tongue’s in him, and Steve can’t handle that, he could never handle that, his chin digs into his chest and he groans so loud Bucky almost grins into him, but he stays until long after Steve’s splattered his own uniform and boots with his come.
"I can’t believe you fucking did it," Steve says, when they’re dressed about a quarter of an hour later, strapping Bucky’s gear to the bike.
"You asked," Bucky reminds him, giving him the cocky grin again. His eyelashes ought to be illegal, Steve reaffirms to himself.
Steve don’t embarrass easy. He don’t. Bucky wraps his arms around Steve’s waist, rests his helmeted head on Steve’s shoulder.
Steve blushes hot all the way down the first block.