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Blue Scales

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Sam peers around Bucky and Steve's new floor of the Tower, nodding and crossing his arms.

"Let me guess," he says slowly. "You nodded and told Pepper it all looked great."

"Yes," Bucky says.

"And you're old-ass men, one of whom spent half his life in the Atlantic, so you have no idea what most of this stuff is."

"Yes," Bucky says.

Steve points accusingly at the radiator-like thing by the indoor pool. "That?"

"That heats towels." Sam glares at Bucky's confounded expression. "So they'll be warm when you put 'em on. Jeez."

"Okay, but that?" Bucky points at the controls next to the stairs that lead into the pool.

Sam squints. "The knobs look like the ones for hot-tub jets. Not jets like planes, like...it pumps water from the... like hot springs. It moves the water."

Steve makes an intrigued sound and pulls off his shirt. Sam, who is beyond used to this, turns his back and waits for Bucky to move into his line of vision to continue the conversation while Steve gets undressed. Bucky makes a vaguely apologetic face which Sam immediately waves away.

"I've actually figured out the bathroom," Bucky continues, "but there's a rock...? Does Tony think Steve washes with a rock?"

"Pumice. Human thing. Exfoliates." Sam mimes rubbing something over his arms and shoulders. "Don't have to use it."

Bucky nods. Behind Sam is a quiet splash indicating Steve's investigating the pool. "Do rich people usually have pools in their bedrooms or is that just an us thing?"

"Pretty much just a you thing," Sam confirms.

**

**

"One day," Bucky says, arms a little tighter around Steve's shoulders now, "I'll be grown up. And I'll have my own little apartment. It'll be small, but. But you can live there in the winter."

"In an apartment?" Steve mumbles against his shoulder, shivering a little.

"In the tub," Bucky clarifies. "We'll heat water all the time and pour it in for you. It'll be like summer. We can listen to the radio together and you can tell me my cooking stinks."

Steve sighs and shifts closer, pushing Bucky's back further against the column of the pier. Above them, there's not much foot traffic. It's cold and windy and it's only supposed to get colder.

"You have to go," Bucky intones, hating this. "There's no sense in getting frostbite just 'cause you wanna stay here."

"I like it here," Steve says stubbornly. "My people are built for cold. I'll be fine."

"You won't and you know it. Go south. Come back in March. I'll have a new necklace for you by then."

Steve swallows and nuzzles in closer. "What's a bathtub like?"

Bucky thinks about it. "Smooth. Like the inside of a shell. White, with pipes to bring in water and take it out again when you want."

"And I'll fit?"

"I'll put a bucket on the floor for your tail."

**

**

"I believe I was also promised a bucket," Steve singsongs, and Bucky doesn't catch Sam's confused look; he's too busy rolling his eyes and smirking, for some reason.