"Do I have to go?" Bucky complains. "I'm not an Avenger, I don't fit in with these people." He's holding the invitation by one corner, like it's something dead and mouldering. The paper is a thick ivory card and the gold-leaf lettering gleams in the light. It is, Steve thinks, suitably ostentatious for a Tony Stark event. The only surprise is that it's actually on paper.
For a moment Steve considers telling Bucky yes, he has to go, but he knows that more often than not, that kind of response would just make Bucky dig his heels in obstinately. Instead he goes for some old-fashioned emotional blackmail.
Which, for some ungodly reason Steve can't recall later, seems like a good idea at the time.
"Well no," Steve says, "you don't have to go, Bucky. But I am and I was really looking forward to seeing in the New Year with you." He sighs theatrically and glances away. "You know I'd want to spend it with you anyway, what with this being the first time for the both of us. Together again in the here and now, I mean." While he feels kind of like a jerk for manipulating Bucky this way, he tells himself it's for the best. Besides, it's true: he's been looking forward to starting a new year afresh with Bucky at his side, just like in the old, old days.
When Steve looks back to Bucky he sees a familiar expression on his face. Bucky's always struggled with his emotions, struggled to hide them behind a mask Steve has never failed to see through. In all honesty, Steve's not entirely sure why Bucky tries anymore.
This time Bucky is trying to hide guilt and anguish and Steve suddenly feels like a heel for manipulating him like this, his own guilt a sick thing curling around his heart. He opens his mouth to apologise and ask forgiveness, to tell Bucky no, if he doesn't want to go to Stark's party he doesn't have to, that Steve would be more than happy to stay in with him.
But Bucky speaks first, a forced lightness in his tone. "I--okay, that's... that's okay, I can--I'll go. But it says formal attire, Steve, and--you know I got nothing to wear."
And when he tries to smile Steve feels like the absolute worst.
"Will you relax?" Tony says. "Your boy is coming, okay?"
Steve scowls at Tony. "I am relaxed."
Tony snorts. "You're jittering and you can't even have a few drinks to settle your nerves. He'll come, I'm telling you." The look he gives Steve is speculative, but Steve doesn't know what that's about. Tony just laughs, claps his hand against Steve's shoulder and vanishes into the crowd.
Before Steve's even got a chance to think about what the hell Tony could be implying, a young, beautiful heiress sails out of the crowd and uses Steve's arm to prop up her breasts and looks coquettishly up at him. He smiles down at her, awkwardly, and then backs up a little. She follows.
He'll never quite get used to just how forward women are in this time.
"Captain Rogers?" she breathes his name in a way that's as inappropriate as the way she's rubbing up against his arm. "I'm Yasmine Ryan; I'm a big fan of your work."
"Pleased to--" he stops, mortified by how his voice cracks; he coughs, "--to meet you."
She prattles on about how her granddaddy made his wealth in forestry, how he wanted to save the world, and how she can completely relate to Steve as Captain America because of it, when what she's really saying is 'Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me,' over and over.
No, Steve will never get used to how forward women are these days. Eventually he excuses himself with a polite smile, detaching her hand from his arm with more effort than it should take for Captain America to pry loose a girl's hand.
Yasmine's not keen on the no, but when Steve looks around for an escape, catching Clint's eye and signalling desperately for help, Clint charges in to Steve's rescue like they were on the battlefield, his hand around Steve's arm as he hustles him away. "Please excuse is, ma'am, but I need to discuss seriously important Avengers business with Captain Rogers." Yasmine pouts, but at least she lets Clint guide Steve away.
"You are insane," Clint hisses. "Did you see that woman? I cannot even believe you."
"Oh, you're more than welcome to--"
"After she's had a go at you?" Clint snorts. "She's not gonna look twice at someone like me."
"I don't know why, Clint, you're a very handsome man and I would--"
"Oh, please, Steve. If you could maybe not finish that sentence that'd be great. I don't want to know what you'd do." His grin takes the harshness out of his tone and he delivers Steve up to Natasha with a smirk and, "Mind our Captain will you, Tash? He's got a shark he can't shake."
Natasha gives Clint a look and frankly sometimes Steve has no idea what she sees in that man because he is a sarcastic little shit and--okay, actually, Steve knows exactly what she sees in him because he's got one exactly the same for himself (not for himself), heart wrapped around a metal finger and god, Tony keeps insisting Bucky will turn up but where is he?
"Um, sorry?" he says belatedly, looking back to Natasha who, really, he shouldn't be able to tear his eyes away from because she looks absolutely ravishing. And even though her dress is completely different, not even the same colour or style, Steve is reminded of a night too many decades ago in a bar with Bucky and Peggy. It's the confidence women like Natasha and Peggy have.
Natasha smiles at him, her eyes soft. She's gentle with him in the way that not many women in this time are. Maybe Steve's wrong, maybe he's just not looking at the right times, but when he does look he doesn't see any of the speculation and attraction and calculation, like he is being judged by his blond hair and muscles and fame as a man out of time, as Captain America, by his so-called good looks. Reaching out, Natasha curls her hand around Steve's wrist and pulls him closer. "He'll be here," she says encouragingly like she knows what's on his mind. Then her eyes brighten and she reaches out, turning Steve. "In fact..."
Steve's kept his eye on the main entrance the whole night, but he should have expected Bucky would slip in the back way. He should have known, this is Bucky, this is Bucky now, and he's not the man who'd swagger in the front door anymore, a dame on each arm (and tiny Steve trailing along behind).
He follows Natasha's direction and catches sight of Bucky standing by the bar, looking awkwardly around the room full of socialites and superheroes. While he's happy Bucky's here--no, ecstatic would be more accurate, the emotion stuffed down in his chest like cotton wool and backing up into his throat until he can't breathe with sheer joy--part of him is sad, too, because no. Just... no. The Bucky he knows best wouldn't hide at the bar and never looked uncomfortable no matter the situation.
But even as he thinks the thought, the crowd parts and he can see as Bucky turns and draws himself up, leaning against the bar on an elbow, one hand in his pocket. His expression settles into the same kind of haughty arrogance that makes him look like he fits in with this terrible crowd of Tony's contemporaries and so-called friends. Steve nearly laughs.
Then he sees what Bucky's wearing.
"He looks good," Natasha says and Steve has to swallow hard before he can speak, to agree in a cracking voice, and Natasha laughs.
Steve has no doubt that Tony got the suit especially tailored for Bucky, the same way he'd hustled Steve along to his own tailor in the early days of the Avengers, when Steve was new to this time and a little light on wardrobe. Next time Tony forces Steve to go along to the tailor he's going to tip that man double for what he did for Bucky, because goddamn.
Good is the mother of all understatements.
The suit, a three piece, is a silvery grey pinstripe, and the cut is immaculate to the lines of Bucky's body. He looks flawless. And Steve, oh Steve has always had those inappropriate thoughts about Bucky, the thoughts a man shouldn't have about another man, not back in the 40s, and right now? Right now he's having all those thoughts as Bucky slips his hand from his pocket and turns to pick up the glass the bartender set down at his elbow. The pull of material across his shoulders, then right down to the way his trousers fit his ass--
Then Yasmine Ryan, she of the one-track-mind, charges out of the crowd and bears down on Bucky. He sees when Bucky notices her approach, sees the way his eyes light up and the way he moistens his lips as he always does when he's interested (because she's beautiful maybe, or because the neckline of her dress leaves little to the imagination and Steve knows just the type of woman Bucky goes for, because Steve's spent so much time watching Bucky that he knows all the tells; Bucky will take her home and he'll fuck her 'til he's spent, and when Steve thinks of Bucky's hands and mouth on her skin, his hands form into fists).
He starts when Natasha covers his hands with hers. "Sorry," Steve says again, automatically.
There's something speculative in Natasha's gazes when she says, "You really care about him, don't you?" and Steve is reminded of the look that Tony gave him earlier in the night.
"Well, he is my best friend," Steve says a little defensively, because okay, he gets what she's implying now--and what Tony was implying earlier--but it's not something he is going to admit to anyone. He has enough difficulty admitting it to himself. The look she gives him says that he doesn't need to say anything at all, and he curses inwardly when he feels the heat of a blush crawl up his cheeks.
"It's okay," she says and, "I understand," because there's something between Bucky and Natasha, some history that Steve doesn't know, that neither of them will talk about--Bucky, because Steve avoids asking about his time as the Winter Soldier if he can avoid it, and Natasha, because it's not the kind of thing a gentleman asks a lady. All he knows is that it's something old; not as old as he is, but older than this time.
Steve turns his hand, links his fingers through hers and she smiles, a little wistful. "He's an easy man to love." It's the closest Steve will ever come to an admission. He squeezes her hand gently and she nods, just the once, in answer to his unspoken question.
"Come on," she says and tugs him forward, towards Bucky as Yasmine, who is, really, a lovely girl if a little one track minded. Steve would be happy to--something, he doesn't know, maybe set her up with someone?--if it wasn't for the fact that she's got her sights set on Bucky now and well, Steve just can't have that.
Steve's not exactly sure how Natasha does it, but there's a few polite words and then she's guiding Yasmine away (who looks completely star struck, because this is Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow), leaving Steve standing there, awkwardly staring but trying not to look like he's staring at Bucky like some kind of smitten teenager.
"You look--" Steve swallows, "nice."
Bucky smiles tightly. "Thanks." He steps back, sweeps his eyes over Steve, lower lip caught between his teeth and god, like Steve needed more of a reason to stare at his mouth. "You scrub up pretty well yourself," he says and Steve is pretty sure he's not imagining the note of appreciation in Bucky's tone.
Steve doesn't preen. Not exactly. But he draws his shoulders a little straighter, shoots his cuffs and smooths his hands down the front of his jacket. Bucky's smile relaxes a little, becomes a little more genuine.
"But what's with the glasses?"
Steve snatches them off his face. "Tony's suggestion," he mutters, flushing brightly. He'd told Tony they were a stupid idea.
"Nah, leave 'em on," Bucky says, catching the tip of his tongue between his teeth as he grins up at Steve. "I like 'em. They make you look... smart."
Steve snorts, tries to give Bucky a dirty look, and punches him lightly on the arm. He tucks the glasses into his pocket and Bucky clucks softly, fishing them back out. He reaches up and slides them back onto Steve's face and his fingertips are warm when they touch lightly against Steve's temples. It seems like an inconsequential touch when he grazes his knuckles against Steve's cheekbone, lowering his hands to straighten Steve's tie, brushing down the front of his waistcoat. "There," he says, like Steve hadn't just tidied himself and Steve just... he blinks down at Bucky, bemused.
There's a moment. A hesitation. Where Bucky is still standing in close (too close, maybe), and he's looking up at Steve, something warm and curious and contemplative in his face as his gaze flicks up from where it had lingered on Steve's mouth to meet his eyes. Steve breathes in, opens his mouth to speak--
"Ah, Captain Rogers, there you are..."
--and before he can even protest, that no, he doesn't want to talk to anyone but the person he was with thank you very much, he's caught up by a flock of Tony's business buddies, unfortunately headed by a four-star general. Not someone he can say no to. Before he can turn back to Bucky, to tell him he'll only be a moment, Bucky's already disappeared.
Steve grinds his teeth in frustration.
It takes Steve entirely too long to extricate himself from a convoluted conversation about synergising something about webinars on superhero something else, which he's sure he could possibly muster up even a pretence of interest if it wasn't at a New Year's Eve party, where everyone else was already quite tipsy and Steve was completely distracted by trying to keep an eye on Bucky and Yasmine, who had somehow managed to glue herself to Bucky's side about five minutes after Steve left.
By the time he manages to work free of the conversation, Steve notices with a sinking feeling that Bucky's disappeared and on a first scan of the crowd he can't see Yasmine either. Except--
No. There she is by the bar, trying to work her magic on Tony, of all people. It's obvious he appreciates her as eye candy, but like with Steve, she just doesn't realise it's not going anywhere. Which it mustn't have with Bucky either, otherwise she'd be--
Steve's relief knows no bounds. It's not that he thinks Bucky doesn't deserve to have someone, to have--well, to have sex, but Steve just. God, if he's honest, Steve just doesn't want Bucky having sex with anyone but him.
And that's ridiculous.
Completely and utterly ridiculous.
Because, okay, Steve hasn't exactly got game with women (although he's got exponentially better since they thawed him out of the ice) and to be honest, since Bucky came back as--as himself, Steve hasn't exactly been looking. But more than that, it's not just him, it's Bucky and Steve knows what it is that Bucky wants, who it is that Bucky likes. And always has, always will.
It's not him. Steve Rogers. Captain America or the skinny little runt who couldn't even get himself into the war without a hand-holding.
Not only is it not just him, it's not any male shaped person. Steve knows this. Bucky is resolutely into women.
Steve thinks of the way Bucky had looked at him, the thoughtful way his eyes had lingered on Steve's mouth. It makes his heart skip a beat even just to remember it.
It takes Steve half an hour to get out of the party--he remembers when no one cared who he was and he could leave a room without a whisper of delay--and when he ends up out in the foyer, he's still accosted by another five people who want a slice of Captain America's time. It takes him another ten minutes to get away to an empty hall where he can call on Jarvis, feeling as awkward as always speaking to thin air.
"Yes, Captain Rogers?" the AI responds instantly, as always.
"I was wondering if you knew where Bucky--uh, James Barnes--has gone? Has he left?"
"No, he has not. Mr Barnes appeared somewhat agitated--" and Steve's heart drops into his stomach, because he should have known Bucky wouldn't have been able to stomach this party for long, "--however he didn't appear to want to leave the building, so in lieu of any other instructions I guided him through to a place where he could be alone." Jarvis hesitates. "Captain Rogers, sir, if you don't mind my saying..."
"Go on." If Jarvis had a face, Steve would be squinting sideways at it by now.
"I have noticed that when Mr Stark is in a similar state to Mr Barnes, often a drink would settle his nerves. If you would look in the cabinet to your left you will find a bottle and glassware. Please, sir, and with Mr Stark's compliments."
Steve opens the cabinet and pulls out a dark brown bottle. He raises his eyebrows. "Fifty years old? Jarvis, this--this can't be cheap." In fact, Steve can't even think of how expensive a bottle like this would be.
"It's not the only bottle in the cellar. I believe Mr Stark would want you to have it." The words are said with all confidence, and while Steve's mostly sure that Tony would be okay with this, he's surprised by how particularly cocky the AI sounds.
"Um. Thank you, then. And... thank Tony for me, I guess." He looks at the bottle again. Fifty years, goddamn. He mightn't be able to get drunk, but it'll be nice to drink something that tastes better than lighter fluid. Cheap booze hasn't really improved much since he and Bucky used to scrape together the coins for the cheapest bottle in the store, and Steve... well, he always forgets that he can buy what he wants now, not just what he can afford. "So, Bucky--"
"I directed him through to Mr Stark's private rooftop. He appeared to need some air."
Steve has more than once accused Tony of programming Jarvis with an avuncular politeness towards his time-slipped friends, but Tony denies it every time. Jarvis, he said, was by now so evolved from his original programming, that he'd developed his own distinct personality, and any tendency towards familiarity--if formal--couldn't be blamed on Tony in the slightest. Steve isn't entirely sure he believes Tony. Tony has a way of twisting words.
But for now he's glad of the peculiar kindness the AI has shown to Bucky.
The route to the rooftop is straightforward, and Steve steps out onto the deck. He sees Bucky immediately, standing by the balustrade running around the edge of the rooftop, hands braced on the rail. There's a cigarette between his fingers, the cherry aglow in the darkness.
It's a clear night and the air is like crystal and icy, cold enough that even Steve can feel it, sharp in his lungs.
His shoes click on the wooden decking, but Bucky doesn't turn. Steve can tell by the angle of Bucky's shoulders, by the awkward, pained way he's holding himself that he's a million miles away mentally, back in the dark places where Steve struggles to reach him.
He sighs. He's not surprised, not on a night like this; a new year and new beginnings are hard to manage when you can't put away the old.
Steve stands next to Bucky, leaning in gently so his arm brushes Bucky's. "Hey," he says. "How are you?"
Bucky shudders at the touch. "Sorry, I... I couldn't do all those people." His voice is low, rough, but Steve recognises that he's trying and he doesn't pull away. "Didn't want to ruin your night." When he takes a drag on the cigarette his hand shakes.
"Not at all." There's nowhere else Steve would rather be.
He sets the bottle of very, very expensive whisky Jarvis had offered on the rail by Bucky's hand. "I got you something. Call it a New Year's gift."
"...Courtesy of Tony Stark."
"He, apparently, won't miss it." Steve holds up two glasses. "Care for a drink?"
Bucky glances at him.
Eventually Bucky nods and Steve coaxes him to the cosy little nook by the pool, and sets the bottle and glasses down on the low table. (It's a lot warmer there; Steve suspects Jarvis has a hand--or whatever it is he has--in that, because even as outrageous as Tony can be, even he would draw the line at the sheer wastefulness of heating a semi-outdoor nook in winter when there's no one around to appreciate it.)
The party on the lower, larger rooftop seems strangely subdued up here, the thump of music a background noise, instead of deafening. Truth is, Steve's glad to be out of it.
As Bucky sits down, crushing the cigarette butt out in the crystal ashtray and carelessly tossing the crumpled pack and his lighter onto the table, Steve pours as splash of whisky into Bucky's glass and pushes it across the table to him. "Drink up." He watches as Bucky leans forward and picks up the glass, then sinks back into the cushions of the sofa.
"Come sit over here," Bucky says, patting the sofa next to him. "We'll have a better view for--" he gestures to the skyline opposite, "you know. Not long now."
Steve picks up his glass and obediently settles down next to Bucky. They drink for a few quiet moments in comfortable silence. When Bucky reaches for the bottle again, Steve raises a brow. He'd been generous in his fill of the glass, this is very, very good whisky, and Bucky's already had a skinful of liquor downstairs.
The second drink goes down slower though, and Bucky holds the glass up to admire the rich colour of the liquid. "This is really good," he admits. "Nothing like that swill we used to drink back in the day." He glances at Steve. "You remember that whisky I got us in... god, when was it? '41, I think?"
"The bottle you stole from Mrs Andrews in 504, you mean?" Steve teases.
"I prefer to think of it as liberated." He doesn't smile. He should be smiling right now, like he would any other time when they talked about the mischief they used to get up to as kids, but he isn't. He's worse off than Steve thought.
Then a cheer goes up from below and echoing on the air is the crack of fireworks. Bucky looks at Steve like he's daring him to say the words, his chin up with a touch of tipsy belligerence. Colour from the fireworks splashes across his skin.
"So, it's another year," Steve says instead.
Bucky grunts, and Steve feels stupid, because way to state the obvious. Bucky leans forward, picks up the pack of cigarettes and lights up.
Steve asks, "Resolutions?" He tips in closer to Bucky to hear his words over the crack and pop of the explosions.
Bucky barks a laugh. "Me? God," he grimaces, "to--to survive another year, I guess." There's a maudlin pause punctuated by a rain of red and gold fireworks, and Steve has to struggle to keep his expression still, to swallow down the lump Bucky's words raise in his throat. Belatedly, Bucky flicks him a wry smile and asks, "You?"
Steve hums, holds Bucky's gaze for a long moment. "To be more honest," he says slowly. "With myself. With everyone else."
This time Bucky's laugh holds genuine amusement. "You? Steve, you're the most honest person I know." The look he gives Steve is so fond Steve almost can't stand his own swell of affection. God, he loves this man.
"I could always be more honest," Steve says. Starting now, he thinks suddenly, because this is a new year and a different time, and he realises hewants to take this risk. And Bucky's drunk, yeah, but he's not smashed, and he's leaning in warm against Steve's shoulder and Steve can't think of a better time to do this.
"When you say 'everyone', do you mean me too?" Bucky's face is close when he looks up at Steve, eyes still clear even for all the drink. Steve can smell the scent of his cologne. Christ, he smells like he used to in a lifetime a million years ago. Do they even keep making the same colognes for 70 years?
Steve has to breathe through a sharp stab of desire. "Yeah," he says. "Even you."
Bucky blinks, like he can't even believe it. "I... really?" His tone's not hurt, not quite, but Steve's pretty sure once Bucky really thinks about it...
He can head this off, though, and he does.
"Yeah," he repeats. He reaches out, nudges his fingers against Bucky's hand. "But I want to be honest with you, I always do. I need to be, Buck."
"'Need to be'," Bucky echoes. He hooks his little finger over Steve's index finger before Steve can pull his hand away, and there Steve's hand rests against Bucky's thigh. He can feel the warmth of Bucky's body through the wool of his trousers and Steve's no blushing virgin, hasn't been for years, but this is Bucky and Steve has been thinking about this--him--for far too long.
"Yeah," Steve says for the third time. Then he says carefully, "There are traditions at the New Year. For good luck and all that."
"A kiss," Steve says simply. He's trying not to tense up through the shoulders, trying to let the chips fall as they may, but it's hard to just... put this out there, not when he's putting a friendship to risk too. He is sure he hasn't felt his stomach churn with nerves like this for years.
"You want to kiss me." No, it's not a question.
And again, because there's nothing else he can say but "...Yeah. I do."
At some point the fireworks stopped and Steve didn't even notice. The silence seems to press unnaturally on his ears, to fill up his head as the moment drags on without Bucky saying anything, just looking at him. There's nothing to read into Bucky's expression now, nothing but the slight tightening of the muscles around his eyes, the slow way he blinks.
Steve's gaze drops to his mouth at the glimpse of the tip of Bucky's tongue as he wets his lips. Steve's breath catches in his throat. Oh--
When Steve meets Bucky's gaze again, Bucky leans forward, crushes out his cigarette and says, "Go on and kiss me, then."
"I--really?" Steve can't help blurting and then he blushes, and for crying out loud, he's an adult, not a fumbling teen. He leans in then stops, torn. What if this is just a game? A tease? They'd done it before, stupid little games when they were kids to see who could wind the other up the most. Stupid little games that never helped the liquid warmth that used to run through Steve's veins whenever Bucky would touch him, hands warm as they skimmed over his skin, or when he'd lean in, just like Steve was doing now, like he was going to kiss Steve except he never did.
"You gonna wait all day, Cap? Told you that you could kiss me."
"Yeah... yeah, you did," Steve says and smiles a little, because he knows the hint of impatience in Bucky's tone well and he leans in, pressing his mouth to Bucky's. It's chaste compared to how Steve wants to kiss him, a lingering touch of lips on lips for a scatter of heartbeats before he pulls back. It's just a couple of millimetres, but enough; if a kiss is just a kiss then, well, Steve will accept it.
Because Steve Rogers is not that kind of guy, even with Bucky's breath warm on his skin.
It only takes about half a second for Bucky's hand to come up, unnaturally cold fingers sliding through the hair at Steve's nape and he leans forward, closing the tiny distance between them. Bucky tastes smoky like his cigarettes, smoky like the whisky, his mouth warm under Steve's and Steve, god, he feels like he's been shocked right down to his toes because Bucky is kissing him, kissing him back because he can, because he wants to.
They move closer to each other, like the centre of gravity is strung on an invisible chain between their hearts, like planets spiralling in on an unassailable truth. Steve doesn't try to fool himself that this is some kind of beginning, nor does he let desperation bleed into the kiss if this is all he will ever have. He admits then to himself that he loves Bucky; loves him more than friendship, more than loss. He loves Bucky and if this is all he'll get he will take it in both hands with gratitude, because this is not who Bucky is and Steve won't fool himself that might be.
But the kiss goes on and on, and even when Bucky breaks it, chest heaving for air, he presses in closer, presses his mouth to Steve's cheek and jaw, breathing against his skin. Then Bucky kisses him again, a twist and shift against him and then he's--god, he's straddling Steve's lap, knees pressed into the back of the sofa. Cold metal fingers still tangled in Steve's hair, mussing him, his other hand of flesh and blood chilled under Steve's chin, tipping his head up so Bucky can kiss him deeper.
That's when Steve reaches out, sliding one hand under Bucky's jacket, around to the small of his back to pull him in, to push himself closer until they fit together like two halves made whole. Then:
"We can't do this--" Bucky stops, panting, his forehead resting against Steve's.
Steve's fingers tighten convulsively where they rest, curled around Bucky's thigh and Bucky makes a soft noise of pain as the sudden grip. He jerks back, eyes wide and lips (reddened from Steve's mouth) parted in surprise.
"Don't," Steve says. He's begging; he knows, can hear it in his own tone, a plea for Bucky not to finish it like this. It's a shameless plea, aroused and needy, the plea of a thirsty man with water turning to dust in his hands. "Don't finish it like this."
Bucky smiles, helpless and fond and warm. "Fuck, Steve," he says and is that laughter bubbling up in his tone? "We're not finished," and he presses his thumb to Steve's lower lip, skin on skin, pushing down then nudging forward, slipping his thumb between Steve's lips, between his teeth, "not like this," Bucky's tone darkens when Steve closes his teeth together just above the nail and presses his tongue against the pad of Bucky's thumb, "but not here either." He slips his thumb from Steve's mouth and leans in to kiss him again.
"I have a room," Steve mumbles against Bucky's mouth and Bucky laughs for real.
"God no," he says, "it's bad enough we've gone this far here." And if it's bad enough, why is he sliding a hand down between them and--"Oh god,"Steve exhales on the end of a whimper as Bucky cups him through his trousers.
"Steve," and Bucky leans forward to speak right into Steve's ear, his voice low and rough, "this is Stark Tower, and I bet Stark has his invisible sky fairy running surveillance in every room. I don't wanna wonder if he'll be watching it back later when I let you pin me to the mattress and give it to me hard."
Okay so if Steve thought he whimpered before, it's got nothing on the noise that claws its way out of his throat right now. "Bucky, I don't--you don't even like--" he finally manages, before Bucky cuts him off.
"You're not the only one who needs to be more honest, Rogers." When he squeezes Steve gasps, tries to thrust up against his hand but Bucky's weight on his legs traps him. "And I honestly want you to fuck me silly." He slips his hand from between them and slides off Steve's lap. He's delightfully dishevelled and Steve can't help it, can't help the slow meandering way he takes in Bucky, perfectly tailored suit a little crumpled, the line of the trousers made perfectly imperfect because Bucky is hard for him. Then he realises he's not the only one enjoying the view (and he must look the complete wanton too, obviously aroused with his legs splayed, shirt rumpled and hair a mess).
Bucky holds out a hand, tugs Steve to his feet and stands, looking up at Steve expectantly. He licks his lips and Steve grins and leans forward, kisses him again, fighting the urge to really muss him up, surveillance be damned. "C'mon," he eventually says when he pulls back, "I'm sure we can find somewhere to go where Jarvis won't be watching--"
"I know somewhere."
Bucky reaches out, flicks under Steve's chin. "It's a surprise," he says playfully and god, Steve loves him when he's like this; it feels so familiar, so perfect that Steve can't even help his dopey, enraptured expression when Bucky leads him to the door, hand linked with his until they step from the elevator.
Steve almost expects Jarvis to come to their assistance, but maybe Bucky hurt his--its?--feelings by calling him an invisible sky fairy. Steve's not entirely sure if Jarvis has feelings or not, but he thought it was more cute than offensive. It was Bucky trying to explain something he didn't really understand. Or so Steve thinks, at least. He really has no idea what Bucky's been in contact with since he was found by the Russians, it's entirely possible Bucky is actually just being a jerk.
God, he has it bad if even that thought is formed with nothing but love.
Anyway, Jarvis doesn't help, he lets them fumble their way to the ground floor and the massive entrance foyer where Steve has to fend off another half a dozen people who really want his time so they can brag they've spoken to Captain America. He's curt and he can't help it, because he is about to get something he wants, something he do desperately, selfishly wants, and he hasn't let himself be selfish for far too many years.
Bucky's laughing as they pass out through the glass doors to where a string of chauffeured cars wait outside Stark Tower. He drags Steve towards the first one, shoving him in.
"So where are we going?" Steve asks.
Bucky grins. "My place."
Steve scoffs. "Bucky, you live at the SHIELD facility, we can't go back there to--y'know." It's bad enough that Steve flushes, but it's worse when he sees the chauffeurs eyes widen in recognition. He just hopes the woman doesn't get that Steve and Bucky are on their way to what Steve is hoping will be the sexiest night of his life.
"No, Steve, I have a place," and Bucky reaches out, touches his hand to Steve's chest in a gesture he doesn't understand until Bucky leans forward to speak with the driver. The address he gives the driver is so very familiar and Steve can't help the joyful smile that blossoms on his face. He covers Bucky's hand with his own and presses it over his heart.
They're going home.