Bucky mostly remembered Virginia being cold. When he thought of Fort Lehigh, he thought of bitter winter wind biting into his cheeks and icy cold rain pounding through his uniform.
He remembered sitting in a tent that he'd shared with Steve, trying to discreetly blow warmth onto his hands after a particularly cold day, because he never wanted Steve's all consuming sympathy focused on him.
He wanted to be Steve's equal, not someone that Steve had to take care of.
Because he knew, even then, that if he became anything less than that, then the already impossible things that Bucky wanted would become even more impossible. If Steve thought, for even a moment, that Bucky needed to be looked after like a child ... then the the gap between their bedding would always be there.
But Bucky hadn't seen Fort Lehigh in over a year. He was an ocean and two seasons away from those bitter Virginia winters, and proving himself to Steve hadn't been a concern for half that long.
But as much as some things had changed, others hadn't.
He was still staring hopelessly at Steve's behind as Steve crouched in the tent a foot away, going over battle plans. Because no matter how many times Bucky had been allowed to touch, Steve would always be the very best present to unwrap. Toro teased him that it was only because Steve was such a forbidden present, but Bucky wasn't sure of that. If tomorrow he could do a song and dance in front of Churchill and Roosevelt, proclaiming exactly how good Steve's cock tasted without any repercussions, Bucky was pretty damn sure that staring at Cap while he was planning a mission would hold every bit of thrill that it currently did.
"Do you hear anything?" Bucky asked. "With that fabulous super soldier hearing of yours?"
"No." Steve looked up from his map long enough to pay attention. Which was just as good, because as far as Bucky was concerned, the privilege of walking in on Steve unannounced was one that only Bucky needed to lay claim to (especially if it involved Steve in any states of undress.) "But if you're trying to get a little downtime, I need to - "
"I know, I know. You're too busy to have any fun. 'S not why I was asking, anyway."
To prove his point, Bucky stood up lazily, stripping off the remains of his costume. If they were ever caught, Bucky knew that he would always be the bad part of this partnership, the part that had tainted the pure golden boy propaganda machine that was Washington's perfect soldier. He knew that was how the story would be told.
Never mind that Steve's tongue could do and had done things that Bucky had never imagined in his best fantasies, of course.
Still, Bucky couldn't even argue with the way he knew the story would be told, because he was incredibly conscious of the way Steve's eyes followed his every movement as Bucky peeled off his clothes, and Bucky was even more conscious of the fact that he'd managed to distract Steve from the mission.
Oh, he was definitely the bad influence and Bucky would never be sorry for that.
"I thought that's not why you were asking," Steve said quietly, and Bucky grinned at him as he folded his costume neatly into a pile. Nobody wanted dirt getting into the wrong places, after all.
"Think that little show was for you, Mister Rogers?"
"I hope it wasn't for anybody else." There was an undercurrent of jealousy there and Bucky pretended not to notice just as much as he pretended not to be pleased.
"It was for me, actually. That serum may have made it difficult to notice, Steve, but it's about 100 degrees outside."
Stripping off the costume until he was in his army issued underwear hadn't done a whole lot to stop the oppressive heat - it still felt like he was being cuddled by Torch or Toro while they were on fire but Bucky hoped nobody decided to interrupt and make him put that costume back on.
He could almost pretend there was a breeze, and that was better than what he could do while he was fully clothed.
Steve's lips quirked into a smile as his hands smoothed over the map - though his gaze didn't leave Bucky's naked chest.
Anyone could walk in and they'd just assume that they were "brothers" sharing close quarters like any other soldiers in the war. That was always the way people referred to them. Brothers, partners, friends, teammates - all were true, and yet not even close to the truth at the same time.
"It's not actually that hot," Steve chided gently.
Bucky decided that deserved some dirty fighting.
So he slipped onto the bedding slowly, stretching out as he did so. Sweat was clinging to him in all sorts of uncomfortable and gross places, and he wondered what it would be like to try to seduce your lover when you were actually clean.
Maybe he'd find out when this war was over. If it ever was.
"Like you'd know," Bucky complained.
"It's my job to know the temperature when I'm sending men out to fight in it, Bucky."
Bucky rolled his eyes. "I'm lying here almost completely naked and you're still going on and on about the mission. Way to make a guy feel appreciated, Steve."
"This is important, Buck." Steve's large hands spread over the map again, and this time his gaze returned there briefly. Bucky watched Steve's jaw clench and unclench while Bucky shifted, trying to prevent the bedding from sticking to his skin. Eventually, Steve looked back over at him. "Do you really feel unappreciated?"
Steve never made him feel that way.
But saying that wouldn't get Steve into his bed, would it?
"How could I not?" Bucky retorted. "I'm as naked as Namor here, and you're completely devoted to the map. Unappreciated is definitely the word for it, Mister Rogers."
"Not completely devoted." Steve's hands ran over the map one more time, before he straightened and walked over to where Bucky was lying. "I did a proper lookover. Make sure you hadn't really ran off and gotten yourself all marked up, like you were threatening to."
"Dad used to have one. On his right shoulder. It represented his rank, supposedly." Bucky remembered going along with his dad to those old shops beside the military bases where the elder Barnes had been stationed. He remembered the grimace in his father's face, and Bucky thought that it was well passed time to prove that he wouldn't grimace nearly as much. "Besides, I'd look good with a tattoo."
Bucky wriggled against the bedding again, watching the way Steve's eyes followed every movement.
Unappreciated? Hardly. More like pretty aware of the fact that he was the only person that could distract Steve Rogers from the mission with the right shake of his hips.
It was a powerful feeling, and while the phrase "drunk on power" had always sounded silly when it had came from Jim or Steve's lectures, suddenly it made complete and perfect sense. Bucky was pretty sure that he'd give up "liberating" alcohol from the towns they visited forever, if he could just keep getting drunk on this.
Steve sank to his knees next to Bucky and it was far more graceful than it should have been with any soldier that large and strong. The acrobats of Toro's circus couldn't have straddled Bucky as lightly as Steve did.
"You look good without one," Steve insisted, and those large hands slipped over skin slick with sweat.
Someday, maybe Bucky's first response wouldn't be to close his eyes and arch up into the touch. But his body had done so during heat-starved winters an ocean away, and it did so now that it was oversaturated with heat.
The heat in those hands were a kind that Bucky could never push away, no matter how warm he already was.
"Look better with one," Bucky argued.
"I'm not sure that's possible." Steve's lips were dangerously close, which meant that Bucky was dangerously close to losing the argument.
He licked his lips in anticipation and to stall so he could say, "It is. I've got my own private artist to design it, and everything."
Steve laughed and he brushed sweat-drenched hair away from Bucky's eyes. "That you do. But I'm not sure that any tattoo I'd design wouldn't give us away immediately to anyone who saw it."
"Mister Rogers, are you saying you'd mark me for the world to see?" It shouldn't sound as ridiculously perfect as it did, except that the idea of Steve marking him instantly made Bucky think of all the times Steve's teeth had nipped at his skin, and all the bruises that his always careful super soldier couldn't help but leave.
Bucky's breath quickened at the very idea.
"I would. You'd never be able to wear short sleeves again if you insisted on marking up your shoulder."
"Maybe I'd have to get it somewhere more private," Bucky challenged.
"Mmm, maybe." Steve dropped a kiss to his collarbone. "Here, maybe."
"I could still wear short sleeves," Bucky said agreeably, and if his breath trembled as Steve's mouth continued down his body, Bucky would not trust anyone who thought they could judge him for that.
"Or here," Steve suggested as his lips brushed just below Bucky's left nipple.
"Too - ah!" Bucky wriggled under Steve again, glad that he had used his power when he'd still had some, because it was all in Steve's hands right now. "Sensitive. Too sensitive."
Steve's fingers squeezed the nipple in question and Bucky closed his eyes again to focus on not yelling out loud enough for everyone to hear. "Are you sure?" Steve asked. "This particular area seems to like pain an awful lot."
"Pretty sure it's still too sensitive for a tattoo." And oh, Bucky was proud of himself for managing to spit the words out in a sentence that didn't reveal how much he would have given for Steve to keep doing that all night long. "And still too public."
"Mmm, yes. Might need to be somewhere even more private." Steve's head dipped again, seeking out imaginary places that Bucky wasn't even sure any real tattoo shop would agree to place a tattoo. Bucky was already half-hard, and by the time that Steve's mouth reached the inside of Bucky's left though, Bucky could barely pretend to pay any attention to the words coming out of Steve's mouth.
He was far too focused on what the mouth was doing to his skin.
"Steve, please." It was a strained whisper, but Bucky knew that it didn't need to be anything more. Bucky knew that even if Bucky lost sight of where they were or what Steve was saying, Steve would never do the same.
That unshakable faith was rewarded when Steve lifted his head from between Bucky's legs.
"Are you sure?"
Because Steve asked. Steve always asked. If they lived to be 70 year old men and they were still managing to have anything resembling sex, Steve would still be asking.
And Bucky's answer would always be the same.
Fortunately, it was the only answer that Steve needed, before his costume fell to the ground beside Bucky's.