"Truth or dare," Steve breathes, his mouth trailing over Sam's belly and down to linger near the crease of his thigh. Sam's hard, laughing, and squirming against the sheets as he answers the same way he always answers.
"Dare," he says.
Lifting his pink mouth from Sam's skin, Steve grins. "I dare you not to come for an hour, Sam."
"You bastard," Sam huffs. Steve lowers his mouth again and starts to suck Sam's cock, the long hard sucks that he knows Sam likes best. He clenches his hand in Steve's hair, giving him a little shake. "That's an insult. I can fuck your mouth for longer than that. We'll see if your jaw can get sore."
Steve's eyes, as he looks up at Sam, are light and laughing, and Sam knows then that he's falling pretty hard.
It started innocently enough, on a stakeout, back when they were first partners, back before they were ever lovers. They were waiting for HYDRA agents to load their illegal weapons onto a truck. The truck was late, so the HYDRA agents were just sitting around in their safehouse, which meant Sam and Steve were just sitting around in Sam's car.
"We should play a game," Steve said, meditatively.
"Left my travel Scrabble at home," Sam replied, sighing. He fiddled with the binoculars. They'd seemed like a really cool thing to bring on a stakeout, but had turned out to be not that useful. The car was parked pretty close and they weren't likely to miss a truck pulling up to the safehouse.
"Really, though," Steve said.
Sam thought about it. "Well, without supplies or the ability to get out of the car we're down to twenty questions or a very low-key game of truth or dare."
Steve snorted. "Truth or dare, Sam."
Sam answered the same way he'd always answered, ever since he was a kid. "Dare." He felt his senses sharpen as he said the word, his body getting ready for whatever Steve might ask of him.
He tried not to think of the versions of this game that he played as an adolescent, when dares to kiss or to touch would escalate quickly. Sam was reminded, suddenly, of all the awkward, transcendent groping and fumbling he'd practiced and received as a kid. It made the warm, close air of the car feel heavier.
Steve had to think about it for a few seconds. "Wow, this is really hard to play quietly in a car."
"What did I say," Sam agreed. Steve was quiet for a little while longer, and Sam wondered if he was going to give up on the game entirely when Steve nodded at the front window and spoke.
"I dare you to take the big guy," he said, opening his car door silently. Sam looked, and saw that the truck had finally arrived.
The big guy was really, really big. So was the gun he was carrying.
"You're on," Sam said, taking some deep breaths as he got out of the car. He centered himself in his body, found his balance, and felt the crackle of energy and adrenaline start to flow through him. He and Steve walked slowly up to the truck.
Steve was way too intent, though, and likely to blow their cover early. Sam, in desperation, shoved into him with his shoulder, and talked a little too loudly about the hot bartender at the club they had just left. After a moment, Steve followed along, walking a little looser and weaving a bit as they stumbled towards the truck.
The HYDRA agents didn't really buy it, but then, Sam didn't need them to. He just needed them to not shoot for another thirty seconds, until the two of them got close enough that the guns wouldn't make a difference. Sam found himself bouncing on the balls of his feet in anticipation.
The big guy had at least eight inches and sixty pounds on Sam. Sam ducked the first blow, rolled out of the way of the second, and got in a fast, vicious kidney punch that bent the guy over. Two minutes later, Sam's lip was bleeding, and his breath was coming fast, but the big guy was on the ground and zip tied. Steve, meanwhile, had taken care of the two regular guys who were with the big guy.
"Nice," Steve said, and his eyes on Sam were hot, intense; enough to make Sam blink and wonder, not for the first time, if there really could be something more than partnership between them.
Sam wished, in that moment, that he could dare Steve to kiss him, the way he had dared his friend Thomas in junior high.
There was no time to follow that train of thought, though; just then, the safehouse doors burst open and the remaining HYDRA agents came boiling out. Sam and Steve took cover instinctively behind the truck as the bullets started to fly; luckily, it turned out to be armored. They waited, counting the gunshots, waiting for their opportunity to run out and take down the second wave of agents.
"Hey Steve," Sam said, flying on a hunch.
"Yeah?" Steve asked, glancing up over the edge to count the shooters.
"Truth or dare."
This got Steve's attention, and he turned to look at Sam again. When Sam saw the look of pure, eager elation on Steve's face, he was shocked, suddenly, by the depth of his own answering emotion: wild, rushing, heedless joy. He caught his breath. He held Steve's gaze.
He wanted to put that look on Steve's face again and again.
"Dare," Steve said. He licked his lips.
"Do it with one hand behind your back," Sam said, raising an eyebrow and grinning.
"Too easy," Steve laughed, and ran into danger. Sam followed right behind him, just in case it wasn't too easy after all, and watched as Steve twisted and spun and flew through the fight, the knuckles of his right hand pressed to the small of his back.
Of course, Sam thought, of course he would choose his right hand.
"Dare you to fly through there," Steve grins, looking down into the cramped crumbling sewer tunnels. The men they're chasing obviously went that way, and Sam could use some speed to catch up to them, but there's just barely enough room for Sam's wingspan. He'll have to tuck and fold his wings to get through the small spaces. It'll be tricky, to say the least.
Steve's dared him, though, so he doesn't hesitate or think about it: he just jumps. It feels good, like following an instinct, like letting his body give in to a natural pull.
"Don't try to keep up with me, Rogers," he calls back, over his shoulder, as he dodges the first piece of debris.
"Dare you to go in through the window," Sam says, glancing up at the side of Avengers tower, towards the top floor where their meeting is supposed to be. The sheer glass surface gleams in the sunlight, and so does Steve's smile when he turns to look at Sam.
"Too easy," he says. "You take the elevator, Sam, and we'll see who gets there first."
"Dare you to fly us both all the way to the drop zone," Steve says once, and the anticipatory light in his eyes makes Sam raise an eyebrow.
"That sounds more like a dare for you," he says dryly. Steve bounces on his toes.
"It's for both of us!" he protests. "Come on, Sam, don't tell me you'd refuse a dare." He holds up his arms, looking for a moment a little like Sam's two year old niece when she wants to be picked up. His hands are open, his fingers stretched towards Sam imploringly. Sam sighs.
"You're ridiculous," Sam says, using his jetpack to jump a little ways up into the air and reaching down to take Steve's wrists in his hands. Steve's tight grip wraps around Sam's wrists in return, locking their arms together.
"You love it," Steve scoffs, as Sam lifts them both up and away from the earth.
Sam doesn't say anything in reply. The whip of the wind cools the sudden heat in his face.
It's not new, not to Sam. When he and Riley had found each other in the Falcon project training, it'd been the same, full of adrenaline and daring, pushing each other to fly further, faster, higher. Sam had channeled all of his energy into what they did in the air together, into the way they could move and dive and fly like two parts of the same body. Having that feeling between them had helped, Sam had always thought, helped to keep Sam from wanting Riley quite so badly when they were both on the ground again, when their feet touched tarmac and they had to go back to being two bodies, separate and barely touching.
Sam never kissed Riley, never pushed him or dared him to touch, never reached out for him the way he wanted to. He'd been stupid, he knows that now, a stupid kid who thought that dodging gunfire and saving lives was sustainable forever. That they were invincible, and they would never lose that perfect mid-air harmony together.
Sam lost Riley out of the air, of course. Sam doesn't know if it would've been different if Riley had died on the ground, if it wouldn't have felt so much like having a part of himself ripped away.
"Dare you," Steve begins, his lips parting with a soft wet sound, his eyes dropping down to Sam's mouth and then back up again. Sam drags in a breath and closes his eyes briefly. When he opens them again Steve is still there, sitting next to him on the couch with the top two buttons of his shirt undone, waiting patiently.
It's not that Sam didn't feel it, this last week, Steve's body getting closer to his, Steve's hands lingering on his shoulders or on the small of his back, and it's not that he wasn't playing too, wasn't touching and looking and giving back. It's just that he didn't realize how deeply fucking scared he would be when it finally got to this point.
Sam let Riley fall without ever doing this, without ever meeting this dare, and he swore to himself that he wouldn't do it again, but here with Steve's mouth just inches from his own and Steve's breath tickling over his skin Sam freezes, wishing for a long moment that he could just avoid the whole thing, just get up to get them both a beer and pretend like it didn't happen. Pretend like he doesn't want Steve's body pressed to his here in his mundane little house on the worn-out comfy couch, doesn't want a love that lives on the ground as well as in the air.
But then, as Sam hesitates, he sees a little wrinkle form between Steve's brows, just the first shadow of doubt as it crosses Steve's features, and as much as Sam fears the potential energy between them, the heat and crackle of the energy they share, it would be worse to let Steve doubt, even for a moment, that it exists.
So Sam leans forward, taking the dare that's been unvoiced between them since the beginning, taking Steve's mouth sweetly, and gently, with all the passion he's been pouring into their feats of strength and reckless bravery.
This kiss takes more reckless bravery than any jump or firefight Sam's ever seen; he has to work to keep his hands from shaking as he touches Steve the way he's wanted to for months. Steve meets him halfway, his big hand coming up to cup Sam's jaw, and Sam has never felt more afraid, or more certain, about anything else in his life.
It lasts a long time, that first kiss of theirs. It starts soft, just a slide of their lips together, and then Steve's mouth opens, and Sam makes a quiet, involuntary moan, and the kiss gets deeper. Their bodies draw inevitably closer, points of contact flaring into existence between them: Sam's hand wrapping around Steve's shoulder, Steve's fingertips pressing against the small of Sam's back, their thighs brushing together slowly.
When it's over, Sam looks into Steve's eyes and touches Steve's lower lip with his thumb. Steve tends to lick it a lot, when he's thinking, or when he's nervous, and Sam has always wanted to touch it. It's wet, and pink, and a little swollen.
"What else should I dare you to do, Sam?" Steve breathes, and Sam stares at him for a long moment, his lips parting on all the words he can't bring himself to say, before he shakes his head slowly.
"I – it's too much," he says, helplessly, unable to shake the sensation that Steve, too, will be ripped away from him just when their connection feels the strongest. He can't think, can't prioritize one way he'd like to be touched when he knows they might never have a chance to touch again. "It's – Steve," he tries again. "It's all too much."
Steve kisses him again, soft and passionate, and Sam makes low desperate noises in his throat as their lips meet and part and meet again, unable to bear the sensation of their mouths together, or the sensation of their mouths apart.
Steve's arms wrap around him, holding him tight. Keeping him anchored.
"We can do it all," he says, softly, as his hands drift over Sam's shoulders, his back, down his arms and then back up again. "We have time."
"Dare you," Sam says, a lump in his throat as he looks at the looming cliff in front of them. He doesn't even have to complete the sentence for Steve to know what he means, for Steve to laugh and jump and dive unprotected through the air. Sam's stomach still clenches every time he sees Steve falling, and so he keeps daring Steve to do it, caught in some wild place between trust and fear.
Sam catches him. Sam catches him, every time, and every time, with the strong solid feeling of Steve's hands holding on to his, Sam has to work hard to remind himself: this can't last.
He believes himself less and less.
"Dare you," Steve says, coming up behind him and kissing Sam's neck softly on a quiet morning. Sam looks away from the eggs he's frying and leans his head back to rub his stubble-rough cheek against Steve's.
"Dare me to what?" Sam demands, smiling. He feels Steve's shrug where Steve is wrapped around him. "I promise there's nothing that dangerous about me making breakfast."
"I dunno," Steve demurs. "I guess I didn't really mean to dare you." He kisses Sam's neck again, and Sam tilts his head to give him better access, closing his eyes briefly against the warm thrill of pleasure that runs through him.
Sighing, Sam opens his eyes again and pokes at the eggs and vegetables in the pan.
"What'd you mean, then, babe?" He's thinking about the zucchini, whether it's crisp enough, and about whether he ought to get Steve to start chipping in for groceries now that he's staying over so much.
"I mean I love you," Steve says softly. "That's what I mean."
"Oh," Sam says, not thinking about the zucchini anymore. He swallows hard and lets himself relax against Steve's big, solid chest, against the warm earthy physicality of him.
"In that case," he says, "I dare you too."
"Dare you," Sam says, when they're walking out of the E Street Cinema after a movie. Sam's a little buzzed from the two beers he had during the show and, more than that, a little impatient to wait until they get back to Steve's apartment before he can touch him.
Steve gives him a knowing look. "Dare you too," he murmurs, bumping Sam's shoulder with his own. Sam smiles at the in-joke, but shakes his head.
"No," Sam says, the idea coalescing in his mind. "Dare you to hold my hand."
Now Steve's eyebrows go up, and he glances very briefly back over his shoulder. There are photographers about half a block back, the kind that tend to cluster around Captain America and – Sam flatters himself – around The Falcon, too. Sam shrugs.
"I could give you another dare if you want," he offers. His voice sounds calm in his own ears, even though his heart is racing. "Don't gotta take this one. No penalty." They've never actually discussed penalties. They've never had to.
"I wouldn't back down from a dare, Sam," Steve says reproachfully, and takes his hand, lacing their fingers together and swinging their hands back and forth a little, like it's something they do all the time. Sam marvels at the easy feeling of Steve's hand in his, the way it feels right and so familiar.
He's used to holding Steve's hands in public, actually. It's just that they're usually hundreds of feet in the air when they do it, with Steve trusting his weight and his life to Sam's grip.
It's no different when they're on the ground, as it turns out. They walk together, both of them with their feet planted against the surface of the Earth, and with Steve's palm pressed firmly against his as they work their way down the sidewalk and through the crowd. Sam feels light, easy, like he could fly even without his wings. He squeezes Steve's hand, instead, to keep himself grounded.
It's as much of an adrenaline rush as Sam's ever had in the air.
Though when the camera flashes start going off behind them, the rush he gets then – proud, perverse, suddenly cognizant that he really needs to call his dad – is almost as good.
The speech Steve gives at the White House, after same-sex marriage becomes legal across America, is perhaps a little sharper and less celebratory than what the President had in mind when he invited Steve to speak. But Sam stands with Natasha in the audience and cheers every time his beautiful buzzkill of a boyfriend reminds the nation that now is the time to expand the cause of LGBTQ rights, not to assume that the work is over, and holds Steve's gaze every time Steve looks for him in the crowd.
Sam helped Steve write the speech, so it's not like Sam is hearing anything new, but even so there's a kind of weight and power to Steve's public speeches that has always given Sam the chills, has always made him feel woken up and called to action. This is no different, and he finds himself short of breath at times, just listening to Steve saying the words he helped to write.
But then Steve pauses, and purses his lips, and Sam waits, puzzled; this was where the speech was supposed to end.
Steve keeps talking.
"This change means a lot. It means a lot to people who'll file their taxes together and share their health care and visit one another in the hospital. And it means a lot to me, personally. Even though it's not yet justice for all, even though it's partial and incomplete, it's still really something, this feeling." He pauses, and smiles softly, then clears his throat. "This feeling that my boyfriend and I are more welcome and more loved by our country than we were yesterday. It's a step toward greater freedom, and I'm going to celebrate that. I hope you'll celebrate with me, America."
Sam does his best to get rid of his tears in a manly, inconspicuous way, but Natasha notices and elbows him in the side anyway. He tears his eyes from Steve, who's now shaking hands with the other people on stage amid riotous applause, long enough to give her a shrug and a half a smile. She puts her hand on his shoulder, nodding wordlessly.
When Steve's done shaking hands, Sam meets him where he comes down from the podium. There's nothing else he can do, no other motion his body could make, so he doesn't hesitate to wrap his arms tightly around Steve and his cute bi pride t-shirt. Steve, flushed and grinning amid the ongoing audience applause, throws himself into the embrace and, to Sam's surprise, jumps up to wrap his legs around Sam's waist.
Steve's a solid 240 even before breakfast, but this is far from the first time Sam's borne his weight, and he braces his knees and tightens his grip so he can spin Steve around a few times for the cameras, laughing as Steve buries his face against his neck.
"Dare you to marry me, Sam," Steve says, his voice quiet and sure and enough to drown out the noise of the crowd for a long minute. "I dare you."
Sam could swear that he can feel Steve's heart beating strong against his chest, can feel the life force underneath, can feel the desire in Steve to keep their bodies pressed together just like this. He's lost, for a long moment, because after the news about the law changing he had thought – maybe tomorrow, or next week, after a nice dinner, with the right ring, with the right words, that maybe then he would ask, but – but Steve – but this –
Steve's always been really good at jumping off of high things, and daring Sam to come along.
Sam laughs, mostly at himself, and squeezes Steve harder to feel his heartbeat again.
"Yeah, okay, fine," he says, eventually, a little disgruntled. "But you're a dick for beating me to the question."
This makes Steve laugh again, so that Sam has to put him down and kiss him, kiss his smile and his laugh and the whole of him that Sam loves so goddamn much, that Sam never even knew he could love this much.
They make the papers with that kiss. Sam's mom calls him to tell him she's saving the clipping for her scrapbook.
They've got about ten minutes before the ceremony starts, and there's nothing left for Sam to do: their boutonnières are pinned in place, Gideon and Natasha have already given them each several best-man nerve-calming pep talks, and Sam thinks that if he checks his shoelaces one more time he's gonna lose it.
Steve's in about the same situation, he can tell; while Sam's pacing back and forth in the vestibule, Steve's sitting stiff and silent, hands on his knees, looking calm. It might fool someone who's not about to be Steve's husband, but Sam knows that Steve is never this still unless he's freaking out.
"Another five minutes, boys," Natasha says, poking her head in. Sam's no slouch in formal wear, but he wishes, not for the first time today, that he looked as good in a tie as she does. Damn. "Sam, your dad says they just replaced the carpet back here and you should stop wearing it out."
Sam stops pacing, annoyed that his dad somehow knew he was pacing, and fidgets instead.
Steve, meanwhile, scowls and crosses his arms, looking up at Natasha but staying seated, feet firmly planted, muscles relaxed. Yeah, that's a Steve Rogers freakout, all right.
"Paul does this every weekend," Steve protests. He gestures between Sam and himself. "This is our first time."
Natasha shrugs. "You're not fighting HYDRA, you know. And we were really careful not to invite anyone who's HYDRA to the wedding. So maybe you two should stop acting like you're going into a firefight."
With that, she ducks back out, and Sam glances at his watch again. It was a first-year anniversary gift from Steve, a while back. It's weird to think that today is gonna be their new anniversary, from now on.
A moment or two after Natasha leaves, Steve uncrosses his arms and chuckles quietly. He grips his knees, going white-knuckled for a second, which Sam takes as a good sign.
"You know, if it were a firefight, we'd probably be a lot calmer about it."
Sam laughs weakly, changing his fidgeting into a purposeful stride to head over to where Steve's sitting. He holds out his hand, and Steve takes it immediately, letting Sam pull him to his feet.
"Maybe we should've invited a few HYDRA agents after all," Sam suggests. "Then we could've had a more interesting journey down the aisle together."
Steve cracks a smile, the sweet, simple one that's always made Sam feel like anything was possible, even back before he could bring himself to believe it.
"What are we afraid of, anyway, huh?" Steve asks, holding Sam's hand and kissing him softly on the curve of his jaw. Steve's face is still smooth from their trip to the barber, earlier this morning, and Sam lets himself close his eyes and rub up against him a little.
"Specifically, I'm afraid of tripping and falling on my face in front of my minister father right before he's supposed to marry me to Captain America," Sam sighs. Steve's laugh rumbles through his body, so that Sam feels it against his chest.
"Dare you not to trip, Sam," Steve says, which makes Sam grin. He kisses Steve's mouth, as soft and sweet as he knows how, trying to put everything he feels into it – the excitement, the nervousness, the terrifying elation of freefall that's he's starting to get used to.
"Dare you to love me forever." Sam says it quietly, his voice a little choked up. It feels like letting go of a secret.
Steve smiles at him, and cups Sam's jaw with his hand, holding his gaze.
"Too easy," he says.