“I do,” Clint says, looking around at the Avengers. “I have the best ass.”
Steve takes in a breath to reply, but stops himself and ends up making a hmm noise. Clint does this sometimes. He’ll say something offbeat, and Steve gathers that it has to do with the almost invisible hearing aids he wears. Either that, or he just likes messing with them. Maybe a bit of both.
They’re in the Avengers rec room, cold pizza open on the table, empty beer bottles abound. Thor even brought some of his special Asgardian liquor, the only beverage that can get Steve buzzed. And he kind of is, which is why his only response to Clint’s random assertion is tumbling into a fit of giggles.
“Excuse you,” Natasha says to Clint, completely derailing whatever the conversation had been about, “that superlative belongs to me, thank you.”
And really, Steve thinks, who hasn’t looked at Natasha’s ass. She wears a goddamn catsuit. He takes a long pull from his Solo cup of thick, amber otherworldly drink and hopes to hell his face isn’t too red from the booze.
Thor bellows a raucous laugh. “There is no human gluteus that can match a god’s.”
Bucky, sprawled across Natasha’s lap and occupying the entire length of the couch so that Steve has to sit on the floor between Nat’s legs, lifts his metal hand in the air and slurs, “Shut up, you’re all hot.”
“Thank you, James,” Natasha says, combing her fingers through his hair.
“Well,” Tony says, standing and clapping his hands together, “for the sake of scientific validity, there’s only one way to test this.” He pauses for dramatic effect. “We need to hold the first annual Ass Championships.”
And that’s how it starts.
Ten minutes later, Bucky is sitting in a chair blindfolded. He insisted on being the Ass Judge due to his “science arm” and general unbridled enthusiasm toward butts.
“Here are the rules,” Bruce begins, pushing up his glasses by the bridge of his nose, only the smallest tipsy sway in his stance, “each contestant will approach the Judge. The Judge will then grope the contestant’s buttocks for up to ten seconds, and then rate said buttocks on a scale of one to ten across three factors: shape, tone, and twerkability. The highest score wins.”
“Wins what?” Clint asks.
Bruce squints down at his clipboard as if to check it, even though the only thing on it is a stained cocktail napkin Steve found for him under a pizza box so he could write down the results. Bruce replies, “The undying respect and camaraderie of the most powerful individuals on the planet. And the title ‘Ass Champion’.” When no one voices objections, he adds, “First contestant, please approach the Ass Judge.”
Clint goes first. He steps between Bucky’s legs and faces the rest of the Avengers, his arms crossed in front of his chest and a smug smile on his face. Bucky reaches out with and grabs each cheek.
Bucky makes a thoughtful noise, runs his hands up and down, frowns in contemplation, and then shifts Clint sideways. He then pulls his hand back and brings it down on Clint’s ass. The silent tension in the room is palpable as they all watch with interest, and the slap echoes in the large room. Bucky nods and concludes, “Six, eight, seven.”
Clint silently fist pumps the air, and Thor goes next. Bucky does the same to him, but when he slaps Thor’s ass, it makes a dull, quiet sound.
“Seven, ten, five,” Bucky says.
Thor smiles broadly at them and steps away so Tony can take his turn. Bucky takes the shortest amount of time with him, and Tony’s ass slap is disappointingly mediocre.
Bucky shrugs and says, “Ehh, five, six, five.”
Tony gapes at all of them in horror, and looks like he’s about to say something, but Bruce gives him a look that says, shut up for the sake of science. Tony huffs in consternation and steps away.
Natasha goes next. When Bucky gropes Natasha’s ass, he makes a pleased mmm sound. He runs his hands over her shapely hips, and she smirks at the Avengers in pre-emptive victory. Bucky studies her ass for so long that eventually Bruce has to clear his throat and say, “Bucky, time’s up.”
Bucky holds up a finger to Bruce. “Please, Dr. Banner, this is an art.”
He spins Natasha sideways and takes care in choosing the perfect spot on her ass to crack his hand against. When he does, it makes a sound that does things to Steve he doesn’t want to admit to, and puts images in his head he would rather save for later, in the privacy of his own head where he can jerk off and feel ashamed of himself in peace.
Bucky nods, pleased. “Ten, nine, ten.”
Bruce marks it down. When Steve doesn’t move to take his turn, Bruce says, “Last contestant, please step forward.”
They all stare at Steve in waiting, and now he’s sure the flush on his face is obvious. It’s from the alcohol, he tells himself. His cheeks always go red when he’s had a bit to drink. The serum may have sped up his metabolism so that he needs a liter of god-brewed booze to feel a damn thing, but it did nothing for his Irish heritage.
He’s also never backed down from a challenge in his life, so he takes a deep breath and stands in front of Bucky, looking at the ceiling. If he makes eye contact with another person while someone is openly groping his butt, he might actually combust.
Bucky reaches up and gently fondles his ass, first with one hand, and then the other. He squeezes up and down, digs his fingers a little bit into the meat of his thighs, and now Steve can feel the tops of his ears burn too. The room is suddenly very hot, and he resists the urge to readjust himself in his pants.
He also tries very hard not to think about how his oldest and dearest friend in the world is drunkenly groping his ass for the sake of a competition, but not thinking about that is making him instead think of all the other situations in which Bucky might be interested in groping his ass.
Again, he would really rather deal with these thoughts while he has his face buried in a pillow to hide his shame.
After what feels like an eternity, Bucky positions him sideways, rubs his metal palm over Steve’s back pocket to make sure his aim is right, reels back and brings it down harder than he did with anyone else. The wholly undignified noise Steve makes is muted by the thwack of Bucky’s hand, and it’s such a perfect, round sound that the Avengers nod at each other in approval and actually begin politely applauding.
“Thank you,” Bucky says as Steve steps away, bringing his hands together in front of his face and nodding his head graciously. “It was a tough match. You all have excellent gluteus maximi. But there can only be one Ass Champion. I hereby give our final contestant a score of ten, ten—” Bucky pauses when his voice falters in appreciation, and he has to take a deep breath to maintain his composure. “Ten,” he concludes. “Dat ass was a thing of beauty. It belongs in the Louvre.”
The Avengers groan in defeat. Steve buries his face in his hands, and hopes to God no one says--
“You mean the Smithsonian,” Tony points out while Bucky takes his blindfold off.
Steve wants the ground to open up and swallow him whole.
“The results are thus,” Bruce begins, squinting again at his cocktail napkin, “Clint: twenty-one. Thor: twenty-two. Tony: sixteen. Natasha: twenty-nine. Steve: thirty.”
Bucky stands from the chair and slaps Steve on the shoulder. Steve feels a drunken, lopsided smile stretch across his face like he gets sometimes around Bucky, but right now he has zero control over his composure. “Congrats, Stevie. I always knew you’d be best at something.”
Tony interjects, “Obviously, gluteal definition isn’t everything. What I lack in assery, I more than make up for in...other areas.”
“Oh?” Natasha asks, cocking an eyebrow at him. “Like what?”
Tony looks around at the group and concludes, “Kissing.” When met with skepticism--”I call bullshit!” Clint says--Tony adds, “What? Do I not look like a good kisser? Because I assure you, I’m the best kisser. The best.”
Thor barks a laugh. “In my world, we have an ancient Asgardian rite to assist with the merging of clans. A relic, the Chalice, is set in the center of a round table. It begins to spin and lands between two members of a clan, and then they must kiss. We call the event the Rotation of the Chalice.”
“You mean Spin the Bottle,” Clint says.
“No, of course not,” Thor scoffs, “it is an important tradition of my people. The Chalice is imbued with magic that can only exist in Asgard--”
“Yep, Spin the Bottle,” Tony confirms. “That’s definitely a thing we’re doing.”
Steve sits cross-legged on the ground wondering what poor choices he made to get to this point in his life.
Apparently he says as much out loud, to which Bucky replies, “You volunteered to let the government do experiments on you, dumbass.”
Natasha is on his left and Bucky is on his right. They’re all in a circle and an empty bottle of 1978 Lafite Bordeaux sits in the center of them that probably cost more than Steve and Bucky’s 1940s annual income combined.
“No game is fun unless you win it,” Tony begins. “So Dr. Banner here,” he sways to the side and nudges Bruce with his shoulder, “seeing as how he took a recent vow of celebrity--”
“Celibacy,” Bruce corrects.
“Celiba-whaty,” Tony reiterates, “is going to keep score for us. So, the kissee is going to rate on a scale of one to ten how good the kisser is. Ready? Okay. Thor, rotate the chalice.”
Bruce unclips the cocktail napkin from his clipboard and turns it around to write on the other side.
Thor spins the bottle with surprising grace and it rotates loudly on the hardwood flooring. Steve’s heart starts to beat a little faster in his chest, because he’s only kissed a grand total of three people in his whole life, and only one of them was out of genuine affection. He feels woefully inadequate in his experience, suddenly as small as he used to feel back before the serum when Bucky had to protect him from getting his ass kicked constantly.
Yet he’s still way, way more excited than he probably should be.
The bottle lands on Clint. Thor grins and grabs each side of Clint’s face to drag him in for a brief, intense smashing of lips. Clint pulls away, a little stunned, and sits back down with a thoughtful nod. “I’ll give it a seven.”
Thor winks at him.
“Okay my turn,” Tony says, and reaches forward to spin the bottle. Steve watches it and his throat goes dry. He should back out, stand up and say he’s going to go to bed because it’s ten PM and he’s just a sleepy, almost-centenarian--
And, of fucking course, the bottle lands on Steve. He looks up to see Tony smiling at him in devious delight, and then Tony is crawling toward him, and then Tony’s face is in his face and then Tony’s lips are pressed against his lips and--oh.
It’s actually pretty nice. Tony kisses him slow and soft and sweet, nothing at all like the women he’s kissed before. Tony’s mouth is bigger than women’s mouths but his lips smaller, and Steve can feel the brush of his goatee against his skin. He doesn’t even think about it when he starts to kiss back and open his mouth a little. He feels the brief dart of Tony’s tongue against his bottom lip and doesn’t mind it at all. In fact, he’s about to go a bit deeper when Tony is forcibly pulled away from him with a metal hand to his bicep.
“Alright, turn’s up,” Bucky says. It’s playful, but Steve swears there’s a sharpness in his glare that is one-hundred percent Winter Soldier. Bucky stares at Tony the way that lions watch their prey.
Steve takes a breath, his mind a blank, peaceful place from where it had been all nervousness and chaos. It was a damn good kiss. Easily the second best in his life.
“Kissee, your verdict?” Bruce asks.
“Oh,” Steve says, thinking. Given that Peggy probably created his definition of what every kiss should be, he settles on, “Nine.”
Tony smiles smugly at the rest of the Avengers, and Bruce jots it down.
“My turn,” Natasha says, and spins the bottle. It lands on Bucky. They look at each other and giggle like it’s some kind of inside joke. Steve suspects that they may have known each other--intimately--way back when, and his suspicions are pretty much confirmed when Natasha crawls over to Bucky and straddles his lap. “C’mere, handsome.”
She pulls him in by his t-shirt, and they kiss easy and casual, like they’ve done it a million times before. Bucky reaches up and cups Natasha’s face with his flesh hand. Steve watches as Bucky sucks her bottom lip between his teeth, and she lets out a surprised exhale, then retaliates by opening his lips with her tongue. The kiss deepens from there until Steve swears up and down that Natasha grinds down a little bit on his lap, Bucky’s hand moving to the nape of her neck and pressing them closer. It’s a bit filthy, definitely bordering on pornographic, and Steve can’t tear his eyes away.
None of the Avengers make a peep, but eventually, Natasha pulls away and crawls off of him. Bucky stares at her all glassy-eyed and dopey-faced as she returns to her spot. Then he turns his attention to Bruce, clears his throat, and says, “Four.”
“Ugh!” Natasha says, and smacks him in the face with a throw pillow.
“What?” Bucky asks, yanking the pillow away from her. “Not my fault you’re rusty.”
“I’ve never been so offended,” Natasha says.
Steve stares at the bottle, and the chattering fades into the distance. It’s his turn next and he really, really doesn’t want to get scored on his kissing ability, so he blurts out, “What about Never Have I Ever?”
The Avengers stare at him like Abraham Lincoln just recommended they go hang gliding. “What? I watch TV.”
And that’s how they start playing Never Have I Ever.
“But you know what would make this really fun?” Natasha asks after polishing off another beer. “If we played it the way I did growing up.”
“What now?” Bucky asks.
Natasha replies, “First person who loses goes into the Red Room and is joined by the person who wins--”
“We don’t have a Red Room,” Tony says. He looks around and points to a door in the corner. “But we do have JARVIS’ control hub.”
“Alright,” Natasha replies, “So the first person to have done five Never-Have-I-Evers loses the game and has to wait in the hub. We keep playing until the other players lose, and the last one standing joins the loser for seven minutes.”
“So it’s Seven Minutes in JARVIS’ Control Hub,” Clint says.
“Exactly,” Natasha replies. “Everyone hold up your hand. Tick down after each round if you’ve done the thing.” Everyone holds up a hand, even Bruce. “Tony, why don’t you start?”
Without missing a beat, Tony says, “Never have I ever been brainwashed.”
A resounding array of groans erupt, followed by Clint’s, “Aw, come on,” while Bucky adds, “Seriously?” and Bruce shakes his head and says, “Too soon.”
Nevertheless, Natasha, Clint, and Bucky all lower a finger.
It’s Bruce’s turn, and after a moment of contemplation, he says, “Never have I ever had a dick in my ass.”
“Whoa,” Tony replies, shocked. The word is overlapped by Thor’s thunderous laughter and Clint’s cackling. “This is a family friendly game here!”
Bruce shrugs. “I’m drunk and curious. And it’s not like it’s easy being celibate.”
A heavy silence settles over them as Tony sheepishly lowers a finger, followed by Thor, who does it proudly, and then Bucky, whose expression doesn’t change from its state of blankness, like this isn’t life-altering information.
Steve’s jaw nearly hits the floor.
“I need stories,” Natasha says, using the same deadly seriousness with which she barks orders at STRIKE units. “Now.”
Thor lets out a hearty chuckle. “In my world, such relations are mere expressions of affection. It’s common after sport to--”
“Obviously. Next,” Natasha says, zeroing in on Tony.
“Oh come on,” Tony replies, exasperated. “Like it’s really that much of a surprise.”
“True.” She shifts her gaze to Bucky and asks, “What’s your excuse?”
He shrugs. “Grew up in a queer neighborhood and sailors are hot as fuck. I got banged like a screen door in a hurricane on the daily.”
“Bucky!” Steve gasps. He can’t tell if he’s scandalized or betrayed or just plain surprised.
“I thought you knew!” Bucky replies. “We grew up in the same damn place!”
“But I never, you never--”
“Okay,” Natasha interjects, “time to move on before Banner has to go green to break up a scuffle between the world’s foremost queer assassin and a star-spangled heterosexual.”
“Hey, I’m not…” Steve says, but trails off because he doesn’t want to get into that discussion at all. Instead, he diverts the conversation by blurting out the only thing in his whole stupid brain: “Never have I ever been with two people at once.”
He immediately regrets it, but Tony, Thor, Natasha, and Bucky all tick down a digit without batting an eye.
“Seriously?” Steve asks Bucky. It’s like they don’t even know each other.
Bucky uses the hand not holding up two fingers to traipse down his body like he’s showing off a prize. “It’s not my fault everyone wants a piece of this.”
Steve buries his face in his hands. Muffled, he says, “Your turn, Clint.”
Clint thinks a moment and says, “Never have I ever exceeded a normal human lifespan.”
Steve, Thor, and Bucky all lower their fingers. Bucky is down to one.
Natasha goes next with a sly grin on her face. “Never have I ever been in love.”
Tony, Thor, Bruce, and Clint all lower their fingers. Steve hesitates, and Bucky watches him with an expression Steve can’t read. He thinks he would have been in love with Peggy if he’d been able to court her properly, gotten to know her under different circumstances. But instead of saying he was ever in love, it seems more honest to say that he had an opportunity to be in love and it just didn’t happen. When he finally makes his decision and keeps his remaining fingers up, Bucky’s face falls along with his hand back into his lap.
Bucky stands up from the floor in one swift motion. “I’ll see whoever soon,” he says, and heads toward the hub.
It only takes another handful of rounds for Steve to be declared victor with a whole three fingers remaining.
“I guess I’ll go get Bucky,” he says, standing. He sways a little on his feet after having drank another two shots of Asgardian such-’n-such.
“No,” Natasha replies, “you have to stay in there with him for seven minutes. We’ll be counting. I’ll come get you when your time is up.” She holds a beer up to him in cheers.
He stares at her, tipsily deliberating if there’s a way out of this that won’t make him look like a chickenshit. It’s just Bucky. He’s spent ninety percent of his entire non-frozen life with Bucky. They’ve huddled under blankets in the winter together, both in Brooklyn and various parts of Europe. They’ve killed for each other. They’ve died for each other. Well, sort of.
It’s just seven minutes. Steve was a popsicle for almost a century. Seven minutes is nothing. It doesn’t matter that he feels like he’s been punched in the gut, finding out there was a total other side of Bucky that Steve didn’t know about or even think to ask about. It makes perfect sense that Bucky would bat for both teams, that Bucky would have some kind of no-strings-attached relationship with Natasha, that he would have bedded two women at once.
And yet, once again, Steve is blissfully unaware of all facets of life not directly involving the pursuit of the greater good.
He nods and heads toward the hub, ignoring the catcalls of the Avengers behind him.
When he enters, Bucky is sitting on a cabinet, heels kicking into the metal siding, picking at the label of his empty beer bottle. He looks up as Steve closes the door behind him.
“Hey,” Bucky says.
The room is about the size of Steve’s walk-in closet, but full of servers and wires and whirring parts. It’s a solid five degrees hotter than the rest of the building.
“Sorry I never told you about any of that stuff,” Bucky adds, setting his beer bottle down. “I didn’t think you cared.”
“Well, I do,” Steve replies. “I mean, I don’t. I don’t know.” He rubs at his temple and wishes he could be sober for this conversation.
“I figured you were one and done for Peggy,” Bucky admits. “No more room in that revved-up heart of yours for a guy like me.”
Steve hits pause on his reeling thoughts and then rewinds what Bucky just said. “Wait, are we talking about what I think we’re talking about?”
“‘Never have I ever been in love,’” Bucky repeats. He meets Steve’s eyes and says, “I have. I am.”
“I don’t...what’re you implying?”
Bucky jumps down from the cabinets and backs Steve against the door. Steve has to cross his eyes to see him clearly. “I’m not implying anything. I’m telling you what I’ve been too scared to say for a goddamn century, Steve.”
“Oh,” Steve replies. His mind grinds to a complete halt.
Bucky’s body heat is making the room border on sweltering, and Steve can’t take his eyes away from Bucky’s lips, the way they’re all red and wet; the way they looked kissing Natasha; they way they’d feel against his own.
Bucky pitches his voice lower and says, “By the way, I cheated in the ass competition.”
“How?” The question comes out strained and needy, and there is no amount of super serum in the world that could prepare his heart for how hard it hammers in his chest.
Bucky smiles, a little twitch of one corner of his mouth. “I’ve saved your ass so many times, I’d know it anywhere.”
Steve’s heart continues racing at full speed, but he manages a weak, “Jerk.”
“I love you, you stupid punk,” Bucky replies before closing the distance and pressing their lips together.
Jesus Christ. The kiss feels about a hundred times better than he thought it would. He isn’t sure if JARVIS’ control hub is actively combusting around them or if it’s in all his head. His kiss with Peggy had been tainted with bittersweetness because he kind of already knew it would be their last. Natasha’s and Tony’s, while nice, were both completely platonic. He doesn’t even remember the blonde girl’s name.
But this. This. How had he been so stupid? Bucky kisses him like he’s dying for it, complete with nibbling at his bottom lip, cupping his face in his hands, and pressing their tongues together like their mouths were made for each other.
Steve isn’t even self-conscious about his inexperience; Bucky walks him through the process until he gets the hang of it, and then Steve is full-steam ahead, taking charge and spinning them around. He slams Bucky against the door, presses their bodies together and grinds into him just a little like he saw Natasha do. It works, and Bucky lets out a filthy moan of appreciation.
When Steve kisses down to Bucky’s neck, Bucky asks, gasping a little laugh, “You think it’s been seven minutes?”
“Don’t care,” Steve says, biting down a bit too rough on the juncture between Bucky’s throat and shoulder. Bucky lets out a broken moan and reaches up to grip Steve’s hair in his hand.
“I don’t hear anything out there. We should probably go check,” Bucky adds, and Steve stops fumbling at Bucky’s fly.
He looks at Bucky and asks, “Why?”
“I don’t know, because we’re superheroes and we save the world sometimes so we should probably pay attention when our horribly loud and annoying friends all stop talking at once?”
“Fucking cockblocks,” Steve mutters, and steps away.
Bucky snorts a laugh while he opens the door. “I thought going off to war would give you a dirty mouth, but it turns out TV does a much better job...”
He trails off when they see the empty, darkened rec room. The pizza and beer bottles have all been cleaned up, the throw pillows put away. The stained cocktail napkin scoresheet has been left behind, clipped neatly in its clipboard, unfolded and with various handwriting scrawled all over it.
Bucky and Steve read it together by the light of the emergency bulbs in the ceiling. It reads: “FUCKING FINALLY!” (Clint, Steve guesses); “Worth it.” (Bruce); “CONGRATULATIONS, MY BRETHREN. MAY YOUR PHYSICAL AFFECTION TOWARD ONE ANOTHER LEAD TO MANY PLEASURABLE ENDEAVORS TO COME.” (Thor); “Poor JARVIS. He’ll never be the same.” (Tony); “Good show. 10/10 would watch again.” (Natasha)
Bucky rumples the napkin up and throws it in the trash.
“You think they watched the whole thing?” Steve asks. Of course JARVIS’ control hub would be packed with security cameras. Tony protects JARVIS with the same care and caution he uses with his own heart.
“Seriously?” Bucky replies. “What were you expecting? Our friends are assholes.” He reaches down to pick up the half-full bottle of Thor’s special booze. “But I still kinda like them, because they left us with some Asgardian fun juice.” He puts a hand on Steve’s hip and pulls him in for another kiss. This one is sweet and chaste, and when he pulls away slightly, he murmurs against Steve’s lips, “And I think it’s time to go up to our floor so I can give the Ass Champion his grand prize.”