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Start All Over (in a Little Bitty World)

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At the time, it really never occurred to Steve to think about exactly how perverse the games he and Bucky played were. He never thought about whether other people made the same sex noises, or said the same stupid things when they were too worked up to think straight. In the same way, he never tried to work out whether the way he liked to be in control of Bucky, liked to hurt him sometimes, was weirder than wanting to be with him in the first place, or weirder when they played it one way than when they played it another.

They'd made their peace with being wrong--immoral and illegal. Once past that threshold, the only question that seemed important was whether they both liked what they did together. And when they hit upon a game that they liked the best, that worked for both of them, that was that.

It was only much later, when he woke up in the future and had to consider that he had all kinds of options for his sex life, that it seemed at all important to try to figure out what he liked and whether anyone else might like it too. How weird was that stuff he'd done with Bucky, anyway?

The answer turned out to be pretty fucking weird, although not weird enough to be actually unique.

He spent a few morbidly fascinated nights reading up on the distinctions between weird ("kinky") and abusive. At the time, he'd felt a faint nostalgic smugness for how well he and Bucky had known each other, how the safeguards people used now had been unnecessary for them, because they'd known each other so well, and been so sure of each other.

When he felt that retrospective pride and fondness, he even thought, Maybe I could try again with someone else--it wouldn't be the same, but that's all right. Maybe I'm getting over him.

Pride, as he should have remembered, went before a fall.


Every time Bucky smiled, Steve could see him choosing to do it. He did it readily enough--he was happy to be back in the world, back with Steve--but that guardedness never left him. It was the same any time Steve touched him, laying a hand on his shoulder or arm. He could see Bucky allowing it, even deliberately relaxing under a touch so that Steve would know it wasn't unwelcome.

But he never reached out himself, and never invited more, and never spoke about it or gave any other sign. He knew Steve, and trusted him, and Steve had to think that that meant that he had some idea what they'd been to each other for most of their adult lives. What he now knew had been pretty fucking weird about their relationship had been as much a regular part as eating together, living together, fighting together; he didn't think there was any reason Bucky would remember one of those and not another.

Still. It was obvious that things were different now. Bucky didn't eat the same foods, wear the same clothes, or make the same jokes. He didn't kiss Steve as soon as they were alone, or after the first day, or the second, though Steve knew that if Bucky knew him at all, he would know Steve's feelings hadn't changed.

So: Bucky had changed. What was between them had changed. It made sense.

And if Steve ached to reach out, to press Bucky down to his knees, down onto a soft bed--if he knew exactly what he could do to ease the hard line of Bucky's shoulders, the tense set of his jaw--that was just the way things were now. He knew as well as anyone that loving someone meant hurting sometimes, and rarely meant getting everything you wanted. It didn't change the love. It didn't change the fact that having Bucky home and safe was all Steve had room in his heart to care about.

What he had room in his head to think about, in the shower or in bed at night, with his hand on his cock, was another thing entirely. But he knew Bucky wouldn't begrudge him that, any more than Steve could resent that Bucky needed to keep his distance now. His memories and fantasies were only that.

If he made a few discreet purchases online, well. He didn't think Bucky would begrudge him a few fantasies of that kind either. Steve was perfectly clear on what was real and what wasn't; he just also knew that the future had a way of exceeding his wildest imaginings.


He noticed the shy curve of Bucky's shoulders first, and then the way he stood, the toes of one bare foot tucked over the other. The redness of Bucky's lip where he was biting it, and the pinkness of his cheeks, because he'd just shaved off the permanent layer of stubble he'd been sporting since Steve first saw him again. The fingers of Bucky's metal hand--ungloved, undisguised--were wound in the hem of his t-shirt.

Bucky stood there for a few seconds, letting him take it in. When Steve met his eyes, Bucky put the cherry on top by saying in a small voice, "Mister?"

The rush of lust and joy was too familiar to be a surprise, and too much an unlooked-for gift to be tainted with ordinariness. Steve couldn't help grinning, and for just a second Bucky grinned back, a reflex with no visible pulling of strings. When Bucky looked down, resuming his pose, Steve let himself feel the responsibility to not fuck this up, the necessary calm containment that only made everything inside him burn brighter.

Bucky had finally found a way to ask Steve for something, and Steve wasn't going to give him any less than everything he wanted.

He sat back in his chair, setting his book aside and propping his chin ostentatiously on one hand. He studied Bucky's body language, mentally replaying the sound of the one word he'd spoken. There had been different rules to the game at different times, depending on who Bucky chose to be when he started it. Bucky seemed to be working from the old familiar menu, but Steve had to go carefully here. He didn't dare assume that absolutely nothing had changed.

"Jamesy?" He was pretty sure of that part, at least. It would be enough to let Bucky knew Steve understood what he was asking for, and was willing to play this game again.

Bucky nodded, smiling a little as he took a couple of halting steps away from the shelter of the doorway.

"Hi there, pal," Steve said, his voice falling into the gentle cadences of his own role as automatically as he found his stage voice in front of cameras. "I haven't seen you in such a long time, I'm glad you're here. Can you tell me how old you are now?"

Bucky's left hand wound tighter into his shirt, but he put his right hand up with all five fingers out: the familiar answer. After a beat, though, his thumb wavered, hesitantly curling in.

"Almost five?" Steve prompted. "When's your birthday, next week?"

"Nine more days," Bucky said in Jamesy's small clear voice, and Steve couldn't help smiling. Jamesy always was definite about some things, even when he was feeling shy.

"Ah, yeah, of course. Nine days." If he was Jamesy, but not quite five yet... Steve thought he could navigate this without too much more guidance from Bucky. Nine days was nicely flexible; it wouldn't arrive tonight, but when it did would be up to Bucky.

"That's much too close to call you four, then. But you're not quite five, either. I get it. Did you need my help with something, Jamesy?

Bucky nodded hard enough to make his hair fall down from where it had been tucked behind his ears. He kept his head ducked, looking at Steve through the dark strands as he said, "Wanna bath. Please, mister?"

"Yeah, of course." Steve stood up, and it felt dizzying for a second to recognize that he and Bucky were still nearly the same height; he'd been playing some perspective trick on himself, seeing Jamesy there. As he got close he added, "I'll take good care of you, Jamesy. What else are little boys' grownup friends for?"

Bucky bit down on his lip again, something in his posture shifting; that well-worn answer wasn't quite right for him anymore. Steve would figure out what he did need before they went too far--a bath would give them plenty of time.

"Come here first, little boy." Steve opened his eyes as he reached Bucky, and that faint hesitation was lost in a look of pure relief. Bucky stepped into Steve, tucking his face down against Steve's chest and making himself small to be hugged.

Steve put his hand on the nape of Bucky's neck, holding him down and close. He nuzzled into Bucky's hair, which was genuinely in need of washing, though not really unpleasant. Steve snuck in a kiss against the crown of Bucky's head, and Bucky snuggled in closer. He crowded his hips against Steve's to let Steve feel him starting to get hard, and offer a little friction in turn.

Steve tightened the arm around Bucky's waist, holding him there for a moment for the sheer pleasure of Bucky's body pressed so trustingly to his, and the promise of everything that followed. Then he smacked a loud kiss against Bucky's hair.

"Okay, Jamesy, come on. Bath time."

Steve took Bucky by the hand and led him down the hall toward the bathroom. He hesitated outside the door of his own bedroom, though, and with a glance back at Bucky, drew him inside. "Have a seat, okay, pal?"

Bucky nodded uncertainly, looking around Steve's room. Steve led him to sit on the foot of the bed, facing him away from the dresser. "It's okay, I just--I have something I want to give you. A little toy I got for you."

Jamesy used to have marbles and a set of jacks, before the war. Steve had given them all away when Bucky left for Basic, except Jamesy's favorite cat's eye shooter marble; that one he'd taken with him everywhere he went while he and Bucky were apart. They had managed to steal a few hours here and there in the year that followed, when Steve could offer it back to Jamesy for a while.

Steve had crushed the marble to powder with his shield after Bucky fell from the train, and burned the length of pale blue ribbon that he usually kept wrapped around it. The absence of the marble in his pocket had been like a missing tooth for the days between that night and the day he put the Valkyrie into the North Atlantic.

When he'd let himself consider buying new toys for Jamesy, the first thing he'd decided was that they had to be modern toys. No jacks. No marbles.

Steve pulled out the lowest drawer of the dresser, digging under the folded clothes to where a variety of small objects were put away safely. He let his fingers brush over the plush softness of a few stuffed toys, skimmed past the rounded plastic shapes of pacifiers, and then settled on the rougher plastic of the set of dinosaur toys he'd chosen for Jamesy. He hesitated a moment, deliberating, and then tugged one out and shut the drawer.

He went and sat on the end of the bed, putting one arm over Bucky's shoulders. Bucky immediately leaned into him, burrowing into his side like Steve had been gone for hours. Steve squeezed him closer, kissing the top of his head again as he held up the toy where Bucky could see it.

"Do you know what this is, Jamesy?"

Bucky reached raised his one finger of his right hand, touching the horns on the creature's head, the shield-like frill rising from its skull. When Steve pushed it toward his hand, he took it, and Steve was pleased to see that he'd chosen correctly; the dinosaur's smooth, wide back fit perfectly into Bucky's grip, easy to hold.

"Dinosaur?" Bucky offered in a small voice. He rested it on Steve's knee, then tentatively made it waggle back and forth from its front legs to hind legs.

"Yeah, that's right. It's a triceratops--it was like the rhino of dinosaurs. It used those horns to defend itself, but it was a plant-eater. It was peaceful."

Bucky turned a little under Steve's arm, shifting his grip on the triceratops to make it run up Steve's thigh and bump its horns against his stomach.

Steve made a soft tsk sound and redirected the dinosaur with his open hand. "I thought you'd like to have a toy to play with when you're here with me. We'll put it away for safekeeping when we're done playing together, but when you're here, Jamesy, this is for you. Do you understand? I won't ever take it away from you, but any time you don't want to play anymore, that's fine, you just set it down."

Bucky looked up at him, meeting his gaze steadily, and he nodded. Steve nodded firmly back, feeling thankful for all that stuff he'd read about how people did this nowadays. Steve didn't have the old unshakable trust he'd had when they did this before that he would know exactly what Bucky wanted; he didn't even know if Bucky remembered just how much he'd always controlled the game. The triceratops could be a safeword without either of them having to say it.

"Plus," Steve said, smiling and cuddling Bucky in against his side. "The triceratops is plastic, so you can bring it in the bath with you and it won't get too slippery to hang on to."

Bucky gave him a shy, sweet smile at that--maybe even remembering all the mishaps with that damn cat's eye marble--and Steve kissed his forehead and hugged him again. God, if it wasn't anything but this, if it went no further than this, it was enough. It was so good to be able to hold Bucky, to touch him and know that it was a comfort rather than something he braced himself to endure.

After a moment Steve felt the hard edge of the triceratops as Bucky raised it to nestle in between them, and he smiled unseen.

"All right," Steve said, getting up and tugging Bucky along with him. "Time for that bath now, and you sure need it. It's been forever since you had a bath, hasn't it."

Bucky nodded to that, his forehead rubbing against Steve's collarbone before he took a step back. "'Ceratops hasn't had a bath in forever-ever."

"Well, Triceratops doesn't have hair that needs washing and combing, either." Steve guided Bucky across the hall and into the bathroom ahead of him. "Do you need help getting undressed?"

Bucky bit his lip, looking down at himself: he was only wearing a t-shirt and jeans, no shoes or socks, no layers. Jamesy could probably manage it if he wanted to.

"Can you do the button for me?" Bucky asked, giving Steve a coy look, up through his eyelashes and the fall of his hair.

"Yeah, of course." Steve kept his eyes on Bucky's as he tucked his fingers into the front of Bucky's jeans, thumbing the button open. He didn't press further, didn't do anything about the fact that his fingertips didn't find the top of any underwear. He just flexed his hand a little to get the zipper sliding down. "Can you get the rest, Jamesy?"

Bucky ducked his head and nodded, wiggling and tugging at his jeans with his left hand, keeping a firm grip on the triceratops with his right. Steve stepped past him to start the bath running. When he had it going, he slipped out of his own clothes. He could hear Bucky being very quiet behind him, still shy.

When they played this before, Jamesy had mostly been bold, sometimes defiant. When Jamesy was five he was old enough to be spanked with more than Steve's hand, and that had seemed to be why Bucky chose him, as often as not. Jamesy had started insisting on being five and a half sometimes, that last year or two, demanding to be punished properly.

Even when he was of a mind to be a good boy, Jamesy had mostly been playful. His attacks of shyness had been rare, and hadn't started to show up until they were both settled into the game--until Bucky knew Steve wouldn't take Jamesy's shyness to mean Bucky wasn't just as enthusiastic about the game as he was when he played it loud and eager.

But they weren't picking up exactly where they left of all those years ago, and Steve wasn't going to take for granted that he knew what Bucky or Jamesy meant by anything. Taking off his own clothes was an unspoken sign: yes, he would be happy to play it out just as far as they used to, if that was what Bucky wanted.

And as a second message, Steve grabbed a towel, wrapping it firmly around his hips before he turned to face Bucky.

Steve found him standing naked next to the untidy heap of his clothes, shoulders still curled in and knees slightly bent to make himself small. He was watching Steve intently, clutching the triceratops to his chest but not trying to cover himself.

He was half-hard, his dick tilting out all thick and obvious: so far so good.

Steve made another little gambit, testing in another direction. He kept his voice gentle, just a shadow of sternness in it.

"Jamesy, I know it's hard when you're hanging on to your toy, but I also know you know better than to just leave your clothes on the floor like that. I asked you if you needed help, and you said you could do it yourself. This looks like a job half-done. What do you have to say about that?"

Bucky held Steve's eyes for a beat, then flinched and darted his gaze to the bathroom counter before he looked at the floor.

"Sorry," he said softly. There was an equally pointed pause, and his voice had dwindled further when he added, "Mister."

"That's all right, little boy," Steve said, making his voice all gentleness, not following the direction of Bucky's quick glance just yet. "I know you didn't mean to make a mess. Let's just take care of it now, all right? We can put your clothes right here with mine. Hand me your shirt."

Bucky dropped into a childish frog-crouch, knees spraddled out. He offered his shirt to Steve with his left hand outstretched. Steve took it, folding it neatly, and into a smaller shape than his own.

Bucky's razor was next to the sink, still damp from its recent use; near it there was a square-backed hairbrush Steve had never seen before sitting out. Steve laid Bucky's shirt down exactly where it would block the hairbrush from his sight, and didn't otherwise acknowledge its presence. Bucky might be offering Steve the option, but Steve didn't see any sign that he was asking for it so far, and he'd backed off on being fully five years old anyhow.

Steve reached out and shut off the water before he beckoned for Bucky to give him his jeans. He put them away as well, letting Bucky stay where he was, perched naked on the bathroom rug. He held the triceratops up to his chin and watched Steve's every move.

"All right, let's see about this bathwater." Steve sat down on the edge of the tub, which put Bucky's head not much higher than his knee. He dipped his fingers in, testing, and found the water pleasantly hot; just the right temperature to feel a little too hot at first to Bucky, and make him wince and hesitate a bit and turn pink all over.

"Yeah, that's about right. Hop in, Jamesy, let's get you cleaned up."

Bucky reached up and put his hand in Steve's, letting Steve guide him up over the edge and into the tub. Sure enough he made a face at the heat of the water, shying back from it a little, but he let Steve prod him in and sat down with his knees bent so that they just peeked from the surface of the water. He put both arms under the water without hesitation, then raised his right hand to bring the triceratops to perch on his knee.

He was flushing pink from the warmth as he looked up at Steve, waiting for Steve to tell him what came next. Trusting him, giving himself up as sweetly as he ever had.

Steve was glad for the towel covering him, even if it wasn't going to keep much hidden for long.

Steve slid a hand under the fall of Bucky's hair, cupping the nape of his neck. "Lean back, Jamesy, you need to get your hair wet so I can wash it."

Bucky stiffened, resisting a little even though Steve hadn't tried to move him. "Not my face, please, Mister? I don't want to put my face in the water."

Steve squeezed tighter with his right hand, and used his left to brush back strands of Bucky's hair from his face. "No, it's okay, you don't have to put your face in. You just lean back until your hair's in the water and I'll dip some water to get the rest. Come on, now."

Bucky went limp and leaned back into Steve's hand, letting Steve guide him down until the water was just lapping at the rims of his ears. Steve held him there and cupped the other hand to tip hot water over the crown of Bucky's head, carefully wetting his hair without letting a drop spill down his forehead or onto his wide-open eyes or nose. When he was satisfied that it was wet enough, he guided Bucky to sit up again, and Bucky blinked rapidly. His grip on the triceratops was white-knuckled now.

Steve wanted to hug him in the way that felt like a stab in the chest. It happened a few times a day; he'd learned to breathe through it. Bucky hadn't invited a hug. He'd asked for this, for Steve to play out the game, and Steve wanted to give him exactly what he'd asked for.

"Now we can wash your hair," Steve said firmly, when his voice was steady. He made himself let go of the nape of Bucky's neck, and contrived not to notice that Bucky shivered despite the heat of the bath when Steve's touch left him. "Let me just grab the shampoo."

He'd bought some of the proper kind and stashed it in the back of the bathroom cupboard; he'd used it on himself a time or two to test whether the tear-free thing was true, and also to make it true that he'd bought it to try out himself, if Bucky ever noticed it and didn't seem amenable to it being used for its intended purpose.

Steve settled on the edge of the tub again and upended the plastic bottle over his left palm, squeezing out a generous portion of honey-colored shampoo. He turned it over onto Bucky's head before he could hesitate, and Bucky shivered again--at the coolness of the shampoo this time, Steve thought. He tilted his head back easily enough, eyelids sinking as Steve started to lather his hair.

Steve took his time about it, rubbing every inch of Bucky's scalp and working up a mountain of white foam. Bucky relaxed into his hands more and more as the shampooing went on, surrendering everything but his grip on the triceratops.

"There's my little boy," Steve murmured, drinking in the sight of Bucky letting go, letting Steve have him this way. "You're so good for me, Jamesy. How'd I ever find such a sweet boy as you?"

Bucky tensed at the question, and Steve hid a wince. He used to ask Jamesy that all the time, a familiar part of the game; Jamesy had had a million answers, none of them as boring as a stork or a cabbage patch. He had hatched from an egg in Steve's icebox, or Steve had stolen him from a peddler, or won him in a card game. He could spend a whole bath meandering through the fairy tale of how Steve found him if Steve asked a few questions.

In London, in 1944, Jamesy had said, Don't you remember, Mister? You stole me from the Krauts.

Steve wasn't sure he wanted to know what Bucky would come up with now, and for the space of a couple of breaths he wasn't sure if Bucky would even answer, but then he said, "I wish you didn't."

"Jamesy," Steve said sharply, shifting one soapy hand to catch him by the chin. Bucky's eyes went startled-wide, and Steve carefully didn't shake him, but held on firmly, not letting himself think about what that would mean, if Bucky weren't saying it like this, holding on to his triceratops, speaking in Jamesy's voice. "Don't you ever say such a thing. I know you were lost for a long time, and I'm sorry I couldn't find you sooner, but you're home now, and--"

Jamesy dropped his gaze, despite Steve holding his chin, and Steve cut himself off, waiting to hear what his little boy would say for himself.

"I wish you didn't have to find me," Jamesy said softly.

Steve did let himself wince then, gentling his grip on Jamesy's chin and going back to gently rubbing his hair. Jamesy's head tipped back into his hands again.

"I wish that too, pal," Steve said softly. "I wish you never got lost."

Jamesy shook his head. "Before that," and again that little hesitation before he said, "Mister. I wish you didn't find me. I wish I was always yours."

Steve's heart broke a little as he finally understood what Jamesy was asking for; technically it might make this a little weirder than it already was, but he couldn't tell Jamesy no, not like this, not now.

"Oh, pal," Steve breathed softly. "My sweet little boy. Do you mean always always? Do you wish I was something else instead of your grownup friend? Somebody you always belonged to from the very start?"

Jamesy looked up at him shyly, biting his lip as he nodded.

"You did, you know," Steve said softly, smoothing foam out of Jamesy's hair as he ran a gentle hand over his head. "You were always mine, my little boy. You came into the world just for me; I was right there on your very first day."

Steve had been all of nineteen years old, frustrated with the obvious pretense of dominating Bucky when he barely came up to Bucky's shoulder, even though they both desperately wanted it to work. He'd snapped, "This is stupid, Buck! I couldn't really boss you around when you were six years old!"

Bucky, without hesitation, had said, "I'll be five, then. Come on, here, I'm five."

He'd folded to his knees and looked up at Steve for the first time with Jamesy's eyes, spoke for the first time with Jamesy's voice, and said, "Mister? I need somebody to look after me."

Steve hadn't always done the best job of it, but God, he'd tried, and he'd loved trying. He wasn't ever going to quit trying.

Bending low, nuzzling right at the edge of Jamesy's soapy hairline, Steve murmured, "I always loved you, son."

"Daddy," Jamesy whispered, turning into the touch and going almost perfectly boneless, baby-soft just for a second instead of little-boy sturdy.

"Yeah, sweetheart." Steve kissed his forehead, ready to shift gears if he didn't have Jamesy on his hands anymore but someone younger, someone who needed more tender care.

But Jamesy gave a huff and wriggled determinedly, sitting up under Steve's hands. "I'm a sweet boy, not a sweet heart, Daddy."

Steve squeezed his eyes shut for a second and then sat up. "Sorry, Jamesy, I was just being silly. I guess I should leave that to you, shouldn't I? You're much better at it than I am."

"Cause you're old, Daddy," Jamesy agreed blithely, making his triceratops hop from knee to knee.

Steve tsked at that and smoothed a little more lather out of Jamesy's hair. "You really want to be sassing me before we rinse your hair out, Jamesy?"

Jamesy darted a wide-eyed look at him, hearing the teasing threat.

Steve kept his face impassive, waiting to see if he'd pushed too far, and then Jamesy smiled, dazzlingly wide and sure. He turned his attention blithely back to his dinosaur, making it dance now, splashing a little as it bounced and pirouetted. "Sorry, Daddy. But I know you won't put my face in the water."

"You got that right, pal," Steve said softly, as much to himself as Jamesy. He put his hand on the nape of Jamesy's neck, tugging gently. "Come on, now, let's get the shampoo out."

Jamesy went back easier this time. He rested quietly in Steve's grip while Steve tipped water over his forehead one palmful at a time, working his fingers through Jamesy's hair again and again until he was sure it was rinsed clean.

"There you go, son," Steve said, just to see Jamesy open his eyes and smile at the word. "Sit up, now, let's get the rest of you clean."

There had been times when Bucky genuinely needed, or wanted, washing when he asked for a bath, but usually they only bothered with washing his hair. Usually this was where the game turned a corner. So Steve didn't reach for a washcloth or a bar of soap, just swiped his hand through some leftover lather from rinsing Bucky's hair before he started rubbing his fingers over Bucky's skin.

Jamesy smiled and squirmed as Steve rubbed behind his ears and the down the back of his neck, and didn't protest that Steve--that his Daddy--wasn't washing him properly. Steve kept going, scrubbing and scratching a little with his fingertips as he worked his way down Jamesy's back. He didn't shy from the scars he felt as he worked his way down, didn't linger over the new hard definition of muscle that carried all the way down to his ass.

Jamesy was just a little boy, so none of that counted right now. All that mattered was his Daddy giving him a bath.

Steve went all the way down, rubbing right down to his butt, even dipping a finger into the top of the cleft there, rubbing to get him clean even there, which set off some squirming and an actual half-stifled giggle.

Steve closed his eyes, feeling a rush of love and certainty all tangled up in his hardening dick. He wiggled his finger a little further into that hot crease as he pressed a quick kiss to the nape of Jamesy's neck. "Does that tickle, son?"

"A little bit, Daddy," Jamesy said, leaning forward and wiggling to let Steve's finger reach further, brushing right over his asshole.

"Well," Steve withdrew his finger and gently patted Jamesy on the butt. "We're just giving you a bath right now, so we'll leave tickling for later."

Steve gathered up another little bit of shampoo foam on his fingers and sat Jamesy upright so he could start washing his front, rubbing firmly over each arm. He gave a deliberate little tickle that made Jamesy jump and giggle when he got to his right armpit. Water sloshed up the sides of the tub but didn't go over, so he'd gauged the water level right. He repeated that move on the left, though he was rubbing his fingers against hard prosthetic instead of sensitive skin there; Jamesy jumped and giggled again just the same, and Steve kissed the palm of his left hand.

Jamesy caught Steve's hand in his, tugging it close so that he could smack a reciprocal kiss against his palm. Steve patted his cheek and then freed his hand to go on with the play of washing. He scooted down the tub so he was sitting on the ledge above Jamesy's shins. He twisted and leaned down to pick up Jamesy's left foot, working his way slowly up from there.

He was barely past Jamesy's knee before Jamesy was squirming enough to make the water slosh in the tub again; there wasn't enough soap in the water to obscure Steve's sight, so he could see that the next turn in the game was approaching quickly, but he scooted back down, picking up Jamesy's right foot, rather than continuing up his thigh.

Steve's hands were still on Jamesy's calf when he finally said in a small voice, "Daddy?"

Steve let his hands fall still and looked at him with an encouraging smile, taking in the flush on his face from more than just warm bathwater, the way he was biting his lip. Steve's position on the edge of the tub meant looking down at Jamesy, giving that illusion of his smallness again. The look on his face right now made it feel even more real.

"Yeah, son?"

"I feel funny," Jamesy said in a small voice. "I think I have a fever."

"You don't look sick," Steve said, coming close enough to put a hand on Jamesy's forehead. "Do you hurt somewhere?"

Jamesy shook his head, leaning into Steve's palm. "Doesn't hurt, Daddy, just feels funny."

"Feels funny where?" Steve prompted. "Can you tell me what's wrong?"

"My," Jamesy spoke in a strangled whisper, flushing brighter. "My--Daddy--"

"No, your Daddy feels just fine, Jamesy."

The glare he got at that, just for a second, was pure and simple Bucky; Steve had to look down to keep from laughing and ruining the game completely. Bucky squirmed, still struggling for his own composure, and Steve figured he could have a little mercy, just this once. Bucky might not even remember the right words to use anymore.

"Aw, is it your little peashooter here feeling funny?" Steve leaned down and curled his hand around so he wasn't quite touching Bucky's dick where it was standing up hard. "Looks like you're pretty stiff there, is that it?"

Jamesy bit his lip again as he nodded. "Why's it doing that, Daddy?"

Right, they were all the way back to the beginning; Jamesy wasn't quite five yet. He didn't know any of this stuff now.

Steve settled his hand down at the top of Jamesy's thigh, his fingertips not quite brushing the base of his dick. The way he was leaning down now brought his face close above Jamesy's, and Jamesy huddled down a little lower, maintaining the difference in their heights, encouraging the game.

"Well, it can happen for a lot of different reasons, or for no reason. For a healthy little boy like you, it might happen when you just get excited about anything, or when you wake up in the morning, or even when you're scared. Are you scared now, Jamesy?"

Jamesy shook his head hard enough to make water spray from the ends of his hair. "Daddy's here."

Steve squeezed Jamesy's thigh at that, bracing himself against the urge to yank him out of the bathtub to hug him. "Well, sometimes it can also happen because you're close to someone you love, someone who makes you feel good when they touch you, because it's a way you can feel even better when you touch each other."

Jamesy was nodding emphatically even before Steve finished. "That one, Daddy. That one. Feels good."

"Well, if that's what it is, then I can help you feel even better. Would you like that?"

Jamesy nodded again. "Please, Daddy? Please, I want to."

"All right, let's see." Steve shifted his own position on the edge of the tub--he was definitely tenting his towel now, and he didn't think this part was going to improve that situation any. He kept his hand flat rather than getting a grip on Jamesy's dick, and just rubbed him from base to tip, watching his face flush redder and his eyes go glazed.

"How's that, Jamesy?" Steve felt breathless himself as he watched Jamesy's face go slack with pleasure. "Do you like that?"

"Please," Jamesy repeated faintly. "Please, Daddy."

"Of course, son," Steve murmured.

Jamesy's eyes closed, his face a picture of rapture as Steve went on. He still didn't take a proper grip, fondling softly over Jamesy's hard dick and the heavy balls below, occasionally focusing on one of his familiar sweet spots. It had been a long time, and he needed to know how far he could wind his little boy up before he begged for more.

That, and he couldn't get enough of the look on Bucky's face, the quickness of his breathing, the way pleasure was obviously already all he could feel or think of when Steve was just beginning to touch him.

They hadn't gone on long when Bucky's body went rigid, his eyes flashing open wide and his expression of abandoned delight changing into something tense and desperate. Steve hesitated, and Jamesy flung himself over, making the water slosh wildly as he twisted onto his side.

He flung his left arm across Steve's thighs and pressed his face to Steve's towel-covered hip and yelped out, "Scared, Daddy!"

Steve let his hand rest on Jamesy's head, already stroking gently over his wet hair while he considered how to play this. It certainly wasn't one of Jamesy's usual reactions. But if Bucky was that easily overwhelmed, and scared of the intensity, then Steve could see why he needed to play the game to have this at all. This could be exactly why he'd asked Steve to take the gentle but implacable control that Jamesy invited. He could see what Bucky needed.

He glanced at Bucky's right hand to check his instincts, and was thoroughly reassured by what he saw. Bucky's right hand was wide open, five fingers spread--but he was keeping the triceratops pinned between the flat of his palm and the wall. He hadn't let go, even if he was desperately fighting to keep control. And he had twisted toward Steve, not away, and used the words Steve offered him within the game.

Still, it couldn't hurt to try to draw out a little more.

"Scared like Daddy's not keeping you safe, Jamesy?" Steve asked softly, running his hand from the crown of Jamesy's head to the nape of his neck, which he gripped firmly. "Or scared like you're on a rollercoaster?"

Jamesy trembled a little at Steve's hand on his neck, and he shook his head. "Daddy--Daddy always keeps me--but it's--" He broke off for a moment, panting, then said very quietly, "I don't know, Daddy."

Steve squeezed tighter on the nape of his neck, and felt Jamesy relax a little at the reassurance. "That's all right, son. There are lots of things little boys don't know, and that's why they need daddies to take care of them. Daddy understands more than you do, even about your body. And this is something that you need to learn, so we're not going to stop, even though you're scared. That funny too-much feeling is part of what's good about this."

Jamesy whimpered and pressed his face harder against Steve's hip, his body curling tighter, as if to protect his crotch. Steve's left hand was still in the water, and it took only one quick move to have his hand on the head of Jamesy's dick. It was still just as hard as it had been, and Steve gave it a quick, cruel squeeze at the most sensitive place. A little pain to cut the pleasure would be more mercy than not. Sure enough, after Jamesy's reflexive sharp cry, he relaxed against Steve, the fingers of his left hand falling open against the outside of Steve's thigh.

"Sit up now, Jamesy," Steve said sternly. "This is a treat, something to make you feel nice. I know it's still new to you and strange, but Daddy's here and I won't let anything bad happen. You need to trust me."

Jamesy rubbed his face hard against Steve's towel before he moved to obey, sitting up straight again and taking his left arm back from across Steve's legs. He spread his own legs wide without Steve having to prompt him, though his shoulders stayed hunched, his head ducked down.

"Trust you, Daddy," Jamesy said, in his tiniest voice.

"I know you do, son," Steve said softly, gentling his voice. "And I know you know this is something Daddy's doing to make you feel good, even though it also feels a little bit scary. Don't you?"

Jamesy nodded, and Steve slid his hand down low, cradling Jamesy's balls.

"Now," Steve said softly, starting to flex his fingers a little. He knew all Jamesy's reactions, every best place to touch him, every way to make this good and to make it last. "Since you know that Daddy is doing something nice for you, you're going to say please for Daddy to pet your little peashooter, and you're going to say thank you when Daddy's finished. Every time. Do you understand?"

Jamesy took a long shaky breath, but nodded again. "Yes, Daddy. Please, Daddy."

"Here you go, Jamesy," Steve said, bringing his hand smoothly up from Jamesy's balls to wrap around the base of his dick and stroke slowly up to the head. He brought his palm to the head and rubbed just the right way, making Jamesy's breath catch again. "What do you say when Daddy's finished?"

"Thank you, Da-Daddy," Jamesy managed, and Steve immediately dropped his hand back down to Jamesy's balls, curving his fingers all the way behind them to play with the sensitive spot there. "Please, Daddy!"

Steve moved his hand back to Jamesy's dick and started over with the excruciatingly slow stroke up its length; this time Jamesy spit out his, "Thank you! Daddy!" before Steve could linger at the head, and "Please! Daddy!" before Steve could play with his balls.

Steve grinned and did as Jamesy begged for a little while, giving him a series of lingering strokes. Soon Jamesy was breathing in gasps, making little keening sounds and having trouble getting his words out intelligibly or in order.

"Thank you please, Da--Daddy--please--"

Steve tsked softly and kept teasing the head of Jamesy's dick, achingly hard and standing up for more. He teased the tiny opening there with the tip of his thumb. "Finish thanking your daddy for one thing before you ask for another, Jamesy."

Jamesy wailed, and Steve didn't bother to stifle his smile. He kept up the merciless attention until Jamesy forced out, "Thank! You! Daddy!"

Steve brought his hand back down to Jamesy's balls then, unsurprised to find them drawn up tight, close to climaxing. They would be terribly sensitive now, and so would the spot behind them where just a little pressure--

"P-p-plee-please! Daddy!" Jamesy sobbed as Steve gave him a few coaxing touches there.

Fair was fair, though, so Steve murmured, "Of course, Jamesy, you asked for that very nicely," as he curled his hand around the base of his throbbing cock again. "You're being such a good boy for Daddy, asking for what you need."

He dragged his hand up slowly, feeling the pulse of it in his grip, his own cock jerking in deliciously painful accord. Bucky was so beautiful this way, so wholly given up to him. He was lost in the pleasure that only Steve could give to him, only like this.

Steve rubbed the hard smooth shield callus at the top of his palm against the head of Jamesy's cock, the sweet spot right underneath. Jamesy howled, struggling for words against the tide of pleasure.

"It's okay, Jamesy," Steve murmured. "Daddy just wants you to feel good. Let it happen, let Daddy see how much you like it. That's the best thanks you could give your Daddy."

"Da--Daddy!" Jamesy gaped, which still wasn't thank you, so Steve kept lingering at the head of his cock, pumping a little back and forth right there. Jamesy was wriggling under the water, clumsily rocking and trying to thrust into his grip.

"Just like that, Jamesy, show Daddy how good it feels. That's the way to thank your daddy if you can't say the words."

Jamesy arched back suddenly, his head falling back so Steve could see the red-flushed contortion of his face, the extremity of pleasure that looked just like pain. His eyes were wide and lost, except he was right here, right under Steve's hand, all his and feeling nothing but the way Steve touched him.

"Come on, little boy," Steve murmured. "Come on, son. I know you know how."

Jamesy's hips jerked up in one convulsive thrust, making Steve's hand slide down his length in a quick, slick stroke that Steve reversed immediately, pulling right back up to the head of his cock. Jamesy cried out again, his cock pulsing hard in Steve's grip, and Steve watched his come spurt out underwater, disappearing instantly into the cloudy bathwater. Jamesy shook and sobbed and Steve stroked him through it, making sure his little boy got every second of the release he needed.

When Jamesy was finished, he curled in again, bringing both of his hands up to Steve's arm. Steve let go of his cock and gathered Jamesy close, the breadth of his shoulders seeming to shrink as he twisted toward Steve, resting his cheek against Steve's knee while Steve petted over his wet hair. A stray tear slipped from his eye, and Steve felt a dizzy mixture of devotion and raw lust as he brushed it from Jamesy's hot red cheek.

"Was that good, son?" Steve asked, when Jamesy's breathing was near normal again and the flush had faded back to a pretty pink.

Jamesy bit his lip and nodded into Steve's towel-covered thigh, keeping his eyes closed until Steve tipped his chin up.

It was Bucky who looked up at him, shining solid as steel through Jamesy's posture and manners, and his voice had an unguarded, adult depth as he said quietly, "Thank you. Daddy."

Hearing it said like that sent a shiver of awareness through Steve. The deep weirdness of this was clearly visible for a moment, breaking the illusion of Jamesy. Steve was left sitting here with Bucky in the bathtub calling him Daddy and his cock hard enough to pound nails because of it.

In the next second, though, Bucky's gaze dropped to Steve's lap. He brought over the triceratops, using it to nudge, very gently, at the obvious tent in Steve's towel.

"Daddy?" Jamesy's voice was very small again, and Steve was back in the game with him. "Is your... your 'shooter doing like mine? So you can feel good?"

Steve gently but firmly moved the triceratops away from his erection. "Fingers only, Jamesy. No toys. And what Daddy's got isn't a peashooter, that's a word we use for little boys. Daddy has a cock."

Jamesy looked up at Steve with wide eyes and hesitantly raised his left hand, tracing the ridge of Steve's cock under the towel with one fingertip. "Sorry, Daddy. Is that why your... cock is doing that, though?"

Steve had to concentrate to hold still against that light, curious touch, and that small sweet voice talking just a little bit dirty because Steve had told him to. "Yeah, Jamesy. Because I'm feeling real close to my little boy who I love very much, and because touching you and making you feel good makes me feel good too."

Jamesy's finger left Steve's cock to touch cautiously at the edge of the towel. "Can I see, Daddy?"

"If that's what you want," Steve said, hesitating only until Jamesy met his eyes and quickly, eagerly nodded.

Steve tugged his towel open then and gave his own cock a slow pull, watching Jamesy's fascinated gaze follow his hand from the base of his cock to the head.

Jamesy looked up to meet his eyes and said in a very small voice, "It's real big, Daddy."

Steve grinned and kept stroking himself slowly, and Jamesy's gaze dropped to watch again like he couldn't help himself. "It's just because I'm big, Jamesy. When you grow up yours'll probably be... almost this big."

"But that's a long time," Jamesy said quickly. "Right, Daddy? I won't be big yet for a long time."

It wasn't hard to hear the anxiety behind that, even if Steve wasn't entirely sure what he was worried about. The right answer was obvious.

Steve raised his other hand to smooth over Jamesy's hair. He glanced over to see that Jamesy's grip on the triceratops was white-knuckled. "That's right, son. You're not even five yet, it'll be a long, long time before you're a grownup like Daddy."

Jamesy nodded firmly at that, with Steve's hand still resting on top of his head, and then he leaned closer to Steve's lap, his shoulder pressing into Steve's thigh. Steve gave himself another slow-motion stroke, watching Jamesy watching. Jamesy's tongue darted out to slick over his parted lips, and Steve had to hold back a shudder at the thought of that sweet pink mouth on him.

"Daddy," Jamesy said, his gaze fixed on Steve's cock. "Daddy, can... can I help? Like you helped me?"

Steve nodded, tightening his grip on his cock so this didn't end embarrassingly quickly. "I would like that a lot, Jamesy. That would feel really good for me."

Jamesy looked down, leaning in closer against Steve. He was keeping his left hand submerged now, and his right hand was still gripping his toy. "I don't think I can use my hands, though, Daddy. I gotta hold on to 'ceratops."

Steve squeezed his eyes shut and tightened his hold on his cock, but even the pain wasn't bringing his cock down. Not when he knew what Jamesy was asking for, so roundaboutly.

"Daddy?"

Steve opened his eyes. "I was just thinking about other ways you could help, Jamesy."

Steve curled down over his own lap to press his lips to the crown of Jamesy's head, then his forehead, then his pink-flushed cheek. "Do you like it when Daddy kisses you, little boy?"

Jamesy nodded, biting his lip.

"Do you think you could give Daddy a kiss?"

Jamesy nodded harder, shifting a little to sit higher, though he still kept his left hand down.

"Like... like this?" Jamesy pressed a kiss to the top of Steve's thigh, and his wet hair slipped down to slither coolly over Steve's knuckles where he was gripping his dick. Even that made him shiver a little, wanting more.

"Yeah, Jamesy," Steve said. "Just like that--but, here--" Steve gave up and turned, slipping one foot into the bathwater between Jamesy's knees, so that he had his legs open, his cock and balls in easy reach. Jamesy shifted to sit lower again, looking up at Steve from between his thighs.

Steve brought his cock down and tapped the head of it playfully against Jamesy's nose, making him giggle and grin, wrinkling his nose up. "Can you kiss Daddy there? On his cock?"

Jamesy nodded, and his eyes almost closed as he looked down at Steve's cock before he finally pressed his lips to the very tip, where pre-come was already beading up.

Steve's breath shook going out of him, and Jamesy's eyes flashed open, meeting Steve's as he kept his softly closed mouth right there. Steve licked his lips, his mouth slightly open. No words came; he could only think about how long it had been, how desperately he had wanted this and everything this moment meant, and now they were here.

A devilish glint sparked in Jamesy's eyes, and he pressed his lips harder to Steve's cock before smacking his lips loudly as he pulled away. "Like that, Daddy?"

Steve snorted. "That wasn't bad for such a little boy."

Jamesy cocked his head, giving Steve a sly smile. "Are you gonna say please and thank you for each kiss, Daddy?"

"Tsk," Steve's hand shot out without a thought, catching the tip of Jamesy's nose between his knuckles, tugging him around to meet Steve's eyes straight on. "I don't mind you being silly, son, but I'm not going to put up with you being smart."

"Sorry, Daddy," Jamesy murmured. "Do you want me to kiss your cock again?"

Steve let go of his nose, rubbing his thumb gently over the spot he'd been gripping. "You don't have to do that to show me you're sorry, or that you're going to be a good boy. I'd like it if you wanted to do that to help me feel good, but it's not your job to take care of Daddy. It's Daddy's job to take care of you."

Jamesy dropped his gaze, and Steve watched his jaw work, watched the tension that had been so constantly present in Bucky come back into his face for a moment. Steve thought of the hairbrush again, the implicit offer there.

He bent down again to kiss Jamesy's forehead, and his cheek.

"It's all right," he murmured, cutting a sideways glance to Jamesy's right hand, still firmly holding the triceratops. Still not ready to be grown up. "We're still getting to know each other again, aren't we? You were lost for such a long time. But you're still my little boy, and I'm still your Daddy, just like I always was. All I want now is to make sure you know I'm here to take care of you."

Jamesy turned his head, pressing a hard, purse-lipped kiss to Steve's cheek, then another and another. "I love you, Daddy. I want to, please, I wanna help."

"All right, Jamesy." Steve sat up, stroking himself a little for Jamesy to watch, wide-eyed and earnest again. When Steve tipped the head of his cock down to Jamesy's lips, Jamesy looked up at him right away, kissing softly and letting his lips part until Steve felt the soft touch of his tongue.

Pleasure jolted through him, and Steve controlled his breathing with an effort. "Good, son--" Jamesy's lips tightened, his eyelashes fluttering on that word. "Very good."

Steve stroked himself, keeping the head of his cock pressed to Jamesy's lips and the tiny movements of his tongue. His blood was pounding in his ears, his cock aching for release. He knew what it would feel like to push deeper, take more, and he wanted it like air--but that wasn't right. Not now, not with Jamesy, not when he wasn't even five yet.

"So good," Steve repeated, rubbing his thumb at the corner of Jamesy's mouth. He was rewarded with wetness that he smeared down his cock. "Beautiful, little boy. Can you taste Daddy's cock?"

Jamesy nodded, the movement dragging his lips over the head of Steve's cock. It pulsed out pre-come, and saw Jamesy react to getting a taste of that on his tongue. He tucked his thumb under Jamesy's lip, gathering moisture to slick himself with.

"You like that taste?" Steve prompted. "You can lick if you want, Jamesy, go ahead and get a good taste of Daddy."

Jamesy's eyes closed as he parted his lips wider, and Steve gripped his cock tight, resisting urge to push into that wet, pink opening. He was rewarded with the soft touch of Jamesy's tongue, circling over the head of his cock.

Steve groaned, lost for words as he jerked himself faster. Jamesy gave him an impish smile and leaned a little closer, sliding his parted lips down Steve's cock, so the very tip was in the moist heat of his mouth, his tongue wriggling eagerly over the underside.

"Yeah, son, God, that's good, so good," Steve panted, undone by that innocent exploration, that trusting tease. "So good, give Daddy one more kiss--"

Jamesy's lips tightened and he sucked softly at the same time he pressed his tongue right up against the slit, pushing in against the pre-come leaking steadily out. Steve groaned, feeling it rise up, and he used his free hand to cradle Jamesy's cheek, pushing him back an inch as he jerked himself hard and fast over the edge.

He just barely managed to keep his eyes open for the sight of it: his come spurting out over Jamesy's pink lips and flushed cheeks, landing on his wet red tongue, dripping down his chin. Jamesy watched him through it, his eyes bright and eager as Steve came undone.

Steve curled down to rest his forehead against Jamesy's hair as he caught his breath after. "That was so good, Jamesy. You helped Daddy so much. Thank you, little boy."

"You're welcome, Daddy," Jamesy said, and then Steve felt him moving, and picked his head up to see Jamesy rubbing the knuckles of his right hand--still firmly gripping the triceratops--against his right cheek. When he took his hand away, there was a smear of come across his fingers, and Jamesy licked tentatively at it before looking up at Steve.

"Yeah, Daddy kind of made a mess of you, huh?" Steve smiled down at him, dipped his hand in the water and started swiping come away with his fingers. "That's all right, we'll get you cleaned up. You don't have to put your face in the water, especially not when you've been such a good, helpful boy for your daddy."

Jamesy dropped his gaze and then ducked his head, like Steve had scolded him instead of praising. Steve didn't say anything about it, just continued cleaning his face without forcing Jamesy to meet his eyes, watching him wind tighter when he should have been at his most relaxed.

"There, perfect," Steve said softly, wondering how much he'd have to push to make whatever this was break the surface. "That's my good little boy, all clean again. I'm so glad you're here where I can take care of you, you know that? Even if you weren't such a sweet, helpful boy, I'd be so glad you were here. You never have to earn that, because I'm your Daddy, and I'll always love you, and I'll always take care of you."

Jamesy's shoulders hunched and his head dropped another inch.

"Tell me why you don't like to hear that, pal," Steve said softly. It could have been embarrassment--Steve was laying it on thicker than he normally would unless Jamesy was actively demanding the reassurance--but this was nothing that easy to fix.

"What if," Jamesy said, and stopped there, like that was the whole question, or a statement.

Steve waited a few seconds, running his hand down Jamesy's neck to his back, rubbing down the line of his spine to the level of the water. It had cooled and dwindled noticeably; he should refill it if Jamesy was going to stay longer in the bath.

But he had a feeling that this wasn't going to take too much longer. "What if what?"

"If I," Jamesy said, forcing the words out slowly. "If I wasn't. Good. A good boy. If I was bad."

"If you did something bad?" Steve tried, though it was obvious that this wasn't about the prospect of a scolding or spanking.

"If I was bad," Jamesy insisted. "All through. If I was a bad awful boy."

"Then you would still be my little boy," Steve said. "And it would be my responsibility to teach you how to be good--just like it already is. That's why you have to be punished sometimes, to help you learn, so that when you grow up big and strong you remember to do good things instead of bad ones."

Steve heard the word remember come out of his mouth like a cannon blast, but he couldn't tell whose side it was on.

"But I didn't," Jamesy whispered. "I didn't remember. I was bad, I was a bad boy--"

"Shh, shh," Steve leaned down to kiss his forehead. "No, Jamesy, you weren't. You never were. You were trying to be a good boy for bad people. You did bad things because they told you those things were good. And now you know better, don't you? Now you don't want to hurt anyone, and you want to be a good boy, and grow up to be a good man."

Jamesy trembled under him, none of the tension relieved. "But what if I still remember what they said was good. What if I did bad things again."

Steve closed his eyes. "Then I would have to teach you what things are good and what things are bad, so you'll remember how to be good for Daddy."

"I remember," Jamesy whispered. "I remember the things I did, Daddy. When I was lost, I--I--"

Steve turned his cheek against Jamesy's hair and hoped he couldn't feel an extra drop or two of wetness added. "I know, Jamesy."

He did know; Bucky had told him once, without elaborating or giving Steve an opening to ask anything further. I remember everything.

"Do you think it would help," Steve asked, picking his head up once he could show a calm face again, "if you told me something bad you did, that you thought was good, and I punished you for it?"

Jamesy's eyes went briefly wide, a flash of genuine fear, before he dropped his gaze and nodded quickly. "I need to learn, Daddy. Don't I?"

"I think you already did," Steve said quietly. "I think everything you went through--you were punished enough. I think you know very well how to be good, because you haven't done one bad thing since you came back home."

Jamesy tensed, shaking his head a little, and Steve squeezed the back of his neck. "But I also think that sometimes you need to know that you've been punished before you can stop worrying over the bad thing you did, so it can be all over and done. Why don't you tell me one thing, Jamesy? One bad thing you did when you were lost."

Jamesy took in a big, gasping breath, and Steve held himself steady with an effort.

They were in wildly uncharted waters now. If Jamesy confessed to killing someone, Steve was going to have to pry the triceratops out of his hand and have this conversation with Bucky instead--and he knew full well that he was talking to Jamesy about this because Bucky couldn't bear it any other way. And even if Jamesy only confessed to back-talk or staying up past his bedtime, Steve was going to have to figure out how to punish him when he needed it and feared it more than he ever had before.

"I... I had a gun," Jamesy said quietly. "Daddy told me guns aren't for little boys, but they gave me a gun, and I carried it around all the time."

Steve remembered that: a hotel room in London, and they'd stacked up all their weapons on a chair before they settled down to play. Jamesy had made to get a rifle after his marble rolled under the bed. Steve, half honestly horrified by the idea of using Bucky's rifle like a broom, half determined to keep Jamesy away from the tools of Bucky's trade, had forbidden him to touch it, and taken him over his knee when he argued about it. They'd both forgotten the damn marble after that until the next morning, when Bucky dragged the bed away from the wall to retrieve it.

"I see," Steve said quietly, rubbing his thumb against the hard line of muscle leading up to the base of Jamesy's skull. "That was a very bad thing to do, and you do need to learn not to do that anymore, now that you're home. Did you do it just once?"

Jamesy swallowed and shook his head. "Lots of times, Daddy."

"Well, then you're going to need a very serious punishment, aren't you," Steve said evenly, squeezing Jamesy's neck. "To make sure that you remember that things are different now that you're home, and you're not to do that anymore."

Jamesy was tense as a tripwire, but there was no getting around the explosion. Steve just had to make sure he went off somewhere safe.

"Jamesy, tell me, how many days is it until your birthday?"

He flinched, but whispered, "Nine, Daddy."

"And you're going to be five on your birthday," Steve pointed out. "You're not five just yet, though."

Jamesy gave a tiny, tense headshake.

"You're only four," Steve murmured. "Such a little boy, that means we have plenty of time to teach you right from wrong before you're all grown up. And you're too little to punish very harshly, because Daddy's never going to really hurt you."

"I'm, I'm strong though, Daddy."

"Daddy's stronger," Steve pointed out patiently. "Daddy could really hurt you, and I'm not going to do that to my sweet boy who wants to be good, even when he's done something bad. So I will punish you, because I agree, you need to be punished. But only with my hand. And if you think that means I'm going easy, then you don't remember some of the spankings you've had before."

Jamesy tilted his head slightly, looking up at Steve through the wet strands of his hair. "I... I remember, Daddy."

Steve nodded and let go of Jamesy, standing up and grabbing a clean towel. "Stand up, then."

Jamesy looked cautiously at the towel without moving.

Steve shook his head. "I'm going to dry you off, Jamesy, because you're done with your bath and that's what you need at the end of your bath. Punishment will be after that."

Jamesy nodded and stood, and Steve stuck one foot back into the bath to pull up the stopper before he started toweling Jamesy dry, from his hair to his feet. Jamesy passed the triceratops quietly from one hand to the other when Steve dried one arm and then the other, never letting it go for a second. When Jamesy was pink with rubbing all over, but still standing in that tense little huddle, Steve wrapped the towel around his hips, arranging it so that it could be unwrapped from behind.

"Go kneel down by Daddy's bed and wait," Steve said gently.

Jamesy turned and hurried away.

Steve listened long enough to hear the quiet sounds of him falling to his knees in Steve's bedroom. He moved around the bathroom, tidying things up, hanging his own towel to dry, rinsing out the tub. All the time he was listening for a sound from Jamesy, turning over in his mind what was going to happen next.

If Bucky wanted... but what Bucky wanted was to play this game, to be Jamesy, and Jamesy had asked to be punished. He hadn't provoked it, but asked for it. He wanted to be good, and he needed to be punished. Not as hard, physically, as he ever had been, or he would have claimed to be five and a half, or six, or he would have tried to make Steve angry enough to actually hurt him.

Jamesy wanted to be good, and was scared that he was bad. He had laid down the problem at Steve's feet--at his Daddy's feet--to be solved by someone who had always loved him.

Well. That made it pretty simple, then. Not easy, but simple.

Steve got dressed and pulled a few supplies from the bathroom cabinets. He walked down the hall to stand just outside the open door of his bedroom, where he stopped to look.

Jamesy was kneeling beside the foot of Steve's bed, both hands clutched together with the triceratops between them, head bowed as if he were praying. He might be, for all Steve knew; he had never completely understood how this worked inside Jamesy's head. There was no reason it should have gotten any more comprehensible since the last time.

Steve let himself look for another moment, tracing the lines of tense anticipation, observing the evidence of perfect, desperate obedience. Then he turned away without saying a word, leaving Jamesy to keep following the one instruction Steve had given him: wait.

Jamesy needed to be punished, and the anticipation was always the worst part.

Steve went into the kitchen and gathered the rest of what they would need, piling it all into a reusable shopping bag from the enormous pile of rarely-reused reusable shopping bags in the front closet. He went back to the kitchen and piled in a few more things just in case, and then he made himself sit down and drink a glass of water, setting the glass down between swallows.

He studied his hands. He hadn't hit Jamesy barehanded in a long time--Jemmie, who was younger than Jamesy, got barehanded swats on the bottom sometimes, but Jamesy had advanced very quickly to rulers and hairbrushes and assorted makeshift paddles. Steve's belt, a few times, after he declared himself five and a half. Steve had been glad to use some kind of instrument, back before the war, not just because it hurt Bucky the way they both wanted, but because it spared his hand sharing in every impact.

His hands were a lot more used to impacts now than they'd ever been back then. He had a smooth strip of callus along the top of each palm, built up by learning to catch his shield at speed. Even the bones underneath had gotten thicker and stronger in the process. His bare hand was about as forgiving as an oak plank, if he chose to wield it that way; Jamesy, age five and a half, had found that out once.

But now Jamesy was a very little boy, and didn't need to be hit with anything like Steve's full strength. Steve would be able to go on hitting him for as long as he needed to, which was all that mattered.

He finished the glass of water, refilled it, and took the supplies to the bedroom, where he found Jamesy exactly as he'd left him, kneeling with his hands clasped around his triceratops and his head bowed.

Steve set down the bag of supplies exactly behind Jamesy's feet, where Jamesy couldn't see it, and the glass of water on the nightstand. He walked over to the window, and the old-fashioned foot locker beneath it. The foot locker happened to be just the right height to fold Jamesy over, sturdy enough to bear his full weight plus impact, and solid enough to keep him still, without the bounce a mattress would give.

Steve carried the foot locker over to the side of the bed where Jamesy was kneeling and set it down with the short side against the side of the bed to Jamesy's right, pushing it flush against the bedframe. The bed was one of the few pieces of furniture in the apartment actually secured to the floor, so as long as Steve didn't hit Jamesy hard enough to break the foot locker between him and the bedframe, it wouldn't budge.

Then Steve sat down on the foot locker, facing toward Jamesy, looking just slightly down at him.

"Hey, son," he said, tucking back a few nearly-dry strands of Jamesy's hair behind his ear. "You've been very good about listening and waiting like I told you to. Will you look at me, please?"

Jamesy obeyed, turning his head and lowering his hands slightly. Tears were standing in his eyes, and his lips were red with biting.

"I know you're scared about being punished, because what you did was very bad, and Daddy's going to have to punish you hard for it," Steve said, holding his gaze and smoothing his hair back again and again. "It's okay to be scared, as long as you remember that Daddy's here to take care of you, and to help you learn to be good. I'm not angry with you, and I still love you even though you did something bad. I'll always love you."

Jamesy closed his eyes, and the tears slipped down his cheeks. Steve tugged him close enough to kiss his forehead, feeling a fresh thrill of certainty and hunger for this. Jamesy needed him, and he was going to give Jamesy everything he needed.

"You're already forgiven, pal," Steve said softly. "You don't have to be punished to be forgiven. You only need to be punished because I think it's going to help you be done with feeling bad for what you did, so you can remember that you are a good boy, and you're going to grow up someday to be a good man. Do you understand?"

Jamesy nodded. His fingers flexed around the triceratops, but he hung on.

"Look at me."

Jamesy's eyes squeezed tighter shut, then opened in a flurry of blinks, his wet eyelashes in little spikes like rays around the sun, his eyes looking huge and more blue than gray in his flushed, anxious face.

"What you did was very, very bad," Steve said. "So I'm not going to set a number of spankings. And I already know that you regret what you did, and I'm not angry with you, so you can say you're sorry as much as you want, it's not going to get your spanking over with any sooner." Those had been the standard ways out, before. This was something new.

He saw something like hope in Jamesy's posture, his chin tilting up a little more, his wet eyes widening.

"You're my little boy, and I don't want to hurt you more than you can bear, so if it gets to be too much you need to tell me. You tell me you've had enough, and you're ready for bedtime, and that will be the end of punishment for today. I'll get you ready for bed and help you get all settled down to sleep, and some other day when you've had some rest, we'll talk about whether that was all the punishment you needed, or if you need some more."

Jamesy was chewing on his lip again, but Steve could see him entering into the plan Steve was laying out for him--no resistance, no denial.

"Tell me what you'll say if you need to stop for today," Steve prompted, needing to be sure. "How will you tell Daddy that you've had enough, so I know to stop your spanking and help you settle down and get some rest?"

"Daddy..." Jamesy's small voice trailed off to nothing, and he tried again. "I'll say, Daddy, I'm tired, I want to go to bed."

"Good, perfect." Steve brushed his hair back again. "Are you tired now, Jamesy?"

Jamesy gave a quick shake of his head.

"Are you still holding on tight to your triceratops?" Steve asked. "You know what to do if you don't want to play with it anymore?"

Jamesy pressed the plastic toy to his chest, but he said tensely, "Put it down."

"Good," Steve said. "I'm not going to take it from you, Jamesy, it's always yours. Even when you set it down, I'll just keep it safe for you until you're ready to play again. I gave it to you and it's yours, always."

Jamesy gave a jerky little nod, biting his lip again, and Steve decided that was enough drawing things out. He stood up and stepped back. "Kneel here and put your belly down on the foot locker, hands by your head."

Jamesy went where he was told, putting his forehead down on the foot locker and folding his arms around it. He had his triceratops firmly held in his right hand, and Steve checked that he could see the toy, and that there was a safe clearance between Jamesy's head and the side of the bed.

"All right, little boy." Steve knelt down at Jamesy's left side and opened up the towel wrapped around his hips, letting it drape over the end of the foot locker. He put his left hand at the small of Jamesy's back, more as a warning than to hold him in place, and without hesitating he brought his right hand down to crack against the upraised curve of Jamesy's bottom.

Jamesy jerked under his hand, sucking in a little gasp, and his hand flexed around the triceratops, but that was all. Steve took that reaction in at a glance, his right hand already swinging back for another blow, which he landed lower and further to the right, with slightly more force. Jamesy's shoulders heaved, but his wriggle under Steve's hand wasn't anything like an attempt to escape.

Steve spanked him again and again, testing angles and forces, and gradually he settled into a rhythm. His attention skipped back and forth from the line of Jamesy's shoulders and the back of his head to the deepening pink of his bottom as the impacts piled up. Steve spread the first blows widely, so that very quickly there was no place left to hit that hadn't been hit before, multiplying every impact that followed.

The sixteenth time his hand came down, Jamesy turned his head, shifting the triceratops out of the way so that he could see Steve with one wide eye, and he gasped, "Daddy! Daddy, I'm sorry!"

"I know you are, pal," Steve said, not allowing the rhythm of his hand to falter, peppering smacks from the tops of Jamesy's thighs to the top of his butt. "But you still need to learn."

Jamesy's eyes squeezed shut, and his breathing, already deep and fast, acquired a little hitch that made heat curl through Steve's belly. "Please, Daddy, please, I'm sorry, I'll remember, I'm sorry."

"I know, son, I know you're sorry." Steve used his left hand to push Jamesy's hair back, and Jamesy let out a little sob when his face was bared. Steve hit a little harder on the next few spankings, pushing him, and he was rewarded with tears spilling from Jamesy's squeezed shut eyes, keening sounds breaking into ragged sobs as Jamesy gave in to his punishment.

"Daddy!" He was sobbing now, the words blurring as they left his wide-open mouth. "Please, please, I'm sorry, I'm sorry--"

"Are you tired, little boy? Do you need to go to sleep?"

Jamesy shook his head frantically, the sound of his sobs rising and falling with the motion, and Steve settled his hand again on the small of Jamesy's back, slowing his pace to hit harder, landing every blow with heavy precision. He gave himself a solid second and a half in between each to hear Jamesy wailing out how sorry he was.

When he escalated to a howl after a blow exactly like the one before, Steve thought it was just the normal progression. He brought his hand down again, and Jamesy shrieked, "Daddy! Daddy, I didn't mean to, don't stop, Daddy, I'm not tired, please, Daddy! Daddy!"

Steve frowned, even as his hand landed again, and then he realized that Jamesy's right hand was empty. Both his hands were empty, and the triceratops was lying on the floor a few feet away. Steve jerked his hand back from landing another spanking, and Jamesy let out a siren-shriek like that missed blow had been a stab.

Bucky had dropped the toy.

"No, no, Daddy! Daddy, I didn't--I didn't, please, Daddy!"

No. Jamesy had dropped his toy, and couldn't pick it up without moving from where Steve had put him, and was frantic to tell Steve that he hadn't meant to do it. He didn't want to stop. Jamesy was broken open by his punishment, sobbing over bruises Bucky wouldn't deign to notice; what terrified him now was the thought of having to suddenly, in the midst of all of this, be Bucky again.

Steve shook off his few seconds of paralysis and grabbed the toy before moving to kneel by Jamesy's shoulders. "Shh, son, I know, I know. Here." Steve put the triceratops back in Jamesy's right hand, and Jamesy pressed it hard against his own cheek with the flat of his hand, still nearly screaming with every sob.

Steve tugged him up off the foot locker and perched on it himself. He drew Jamesy in against his chest, between his knees. He rubbed Jamesy's back where he could without hurting, and Jamesy wailed into his chest, getting snot and tears and spit all over his t-shirt. He clung to Steve's shirt with his left hand, and kept the right flat, using it to press the triceratops against his throat.

He was scared of gripping too hard, Steve realized. Scared of breaking his toy.

"Shh, shh, it's all right, I've got you," Steve murmured, settling his hand over Jamesy's, rubbing gently and working out the next part of the plan with Jamesy's wails taking up all his attention. It was tempting to think of nothing else, to just drink in the way Steve had gotten him over the edge, but they weren't finished yet, and he had to focus on how to make this work long enough to get them where they were going in one piece.

"I know you didn't mean to let go, son, I know. Daddy's here, Daddy's not going anywhere. I would never leave such a little boy all alone. We're going to move a little bit, just up onto the bed--"

"No!" Jamesy howled, jerking back from Steve and grabbing at the edge of the foot locker. "NO! Not bed, Daddy--"

Steve's hand whipped out faster than thought, slapping Jamesy's face just hard enough to raise a pink imprint from his fingers, not even hard enough to turn his head. Jamesy went silent, jaw dropping open a little, his wet pink lip trembling. His tear-filled eyes were fixed on Steve--Jamesy was really seeing Steve, not anyone else.

"I know you're upset, little boy," Steve said softly, rubbing his thumb softly over the hot pink skin of his cheek. A tear trickled down over it, and Steve's cock ached, his whole body seized with the need to lick it away. He forced himself to keep going. "But you don't tell Daddy no like that, especially when you're already being punished. I know you don't want to go to bed yet, because you already told me you're not tired."

Jamesy unfroze enough to exhale a shuddering breath and gasp in another, more tears spilling down his face. "S--sorry, Daddy."

"I know you are, Jamesy. And there won't be any more punishment for talking back, because I know you just made a mistake because you were so upset from being punished. Are you ready to listen now?"

Jamesy gave a tiny nod. Steve checked his hands, and found he was pressing the triceratops against his belly. The view of his half-hard dick was not obscured.

Steve moved up to sit on the side of the bed, shifting the foot locker aside so he could rest his feet on the floor. "Now you're going to come and lay across Daddy's lap for the rest of your spanking, if you're not tired."

Jamesy nodded quickly and lunged forward, flinging himself facedown over Steve's lap. This way Steve could appreciate the sight of his pink toes curling as his feet hung off the end of the bed, and Jamesy could bury his face against the blanket. Steve brushed his hair back, tugging his chin to make him turn his face to the side, so Steve could see the pink mark of the slap and fresh tears slipping down.

"Like that, please, Jamesy," Steve said. He ran his right hand gently from the top of Jamesy's butt to the tops of his thighs, feeling the heat of the pink and red skin, which would darken into bruises for a little while if he kept this up.

"This way you won't drop your triceratops without meaning to, will you? You can keep it right next to you on the bed if you're scared of holding on too hard. If you want me to know you don't want it anymore, you push it off the bed or throw it. And when you've had enough for tonight, you tell me you're tired. Understood?"

Jamesy nodded, his cheek sliding against the covers. Another tear tracked down as he whispered, "I'm sorry, Daddy."

"I know, son." Steve's hand cracked down on the darkest red spot as he said it. Jamesy's head and feet both jerked up at the impact, and his next howling sob was delayed a few seconds as he gasped in a shocked breath.

Steve landed the next spanking before that first wail of reaction ended, and soon fell into a rhythm again, the smack of his hand like a beat driving the song of Jamesy's sobbing. Jamesy writhed on his lap, encouraged by the slight bounce of the bed under them. Steve let him move, keeping an eye out for the triceratops. Jamesy kept it corralled with his left arm, never letting it get dislodged and never making any move to push it off the bed.

Steve started varying his strikes a little, watching for some reaction from Jamesy. There was something else he needed, and Steve needed to give it to him whether he knew exactly what it was or not. Jamesy's legs spread, seemingly by reflex, at a spank that landed on the tender inside of the top of his thigh, and Steve went after the new spots he exposed, landing precise slaps with his fingertips.

It only took a moment before Jamesy's crying ratcheted up from wails to screamed words. "No! No, don't! Stop!"

He had his eyes squeezed shut, not looking at Steve, not crying out to his daddy for mercy, and his arm was still curled firmly around the triceratops. This was something else, something he needed to get out, and Steve kept spanking him, as if he could drive whatever it was right out of his little boy with the force of his hand.

Jamesy's shrieked words spiraled up and up until they blurred into a single drown out howl, high and terrified. The hairs stood up on the back of Steve's neck, and he brought his hand down squarely on Jamesy's red bottom, again and again and again before the sustained scream trailed off.

Jamesy's eyes opened, shiny with tears, his eyelashes all spiked together with wetness. He sniffed and gasped, "D--Daddy?"

Steve jerked his hand back short of making contact, and Jamesy let out a shuddering sob. Steve let his hand rest lightly on the back of Jamesy's thigh, rubbing at the edge of the pink skin. "What is it, Jamesy?"

"I, I--" he sobbed again, the momentum of crying still carrying him. "I think I'm. I'm tired, Daddy."

"Oh, little boy." Steve reached out to gather Jamesy to him, lying back to let Jamesy huddle on top of his chest. He petted Jamesy's damp hair back as Jamesy went limp with exhaustion and surrender at last.

"Of course you're tired, this has been such a long day. But you took your punishment very well--you were such a good boy for Daddy. I know you won't forget now, how much you want to be good."

Jamesy's shoulders shook with another little sob, and he hid his face against Steve's shirt.

"Shh, shh," Steve murmured, curling up to kiss the top of his head, one bright pink ear, all that he could reach. He realized that Jamesy had caught hold of his triceratops again as Steve pulled him close; he was holding it in his left hand now. Steve focused on breathing slowly, holding Jamesy close and letting his sobbing trail off into occasional sniffles.

There was no way he wouldn't feel the pressure of Steve's cock pressing up against him, and Steve could feel the half-hardness of Jamesy's dick between them. He laid his hand down as gently as he could at the top of Jamesy's thigh, his fingers pressing up to the undercurve of his ass.

Jamesy shuddered out another shaky sound and rocked his hips against Steve, his dick seeming to harden with just that touch.

"Shh, that's my good little boy," Steve murmured. "That's enough for today, time for you to rest now. Do you want to sleep in Daddy's bed, or should I take you in your room so you can sleep in your bed?"

Jamesy shook his head, clutching Steve's shirt with his right hand. "With you, Daddy."

"That's fine," Steve murmured, pressing another kiss to Jamesy's hair. He drew his palm up over Jamesy's ass without quite touching. He could feel the heat rising off bruised skin, and Jamesy squirmed and sobbed a little more, dragging himself up Steve's body slightly.

"I spanked you pretty hard, for such a little boy," Steve murmured. "I don't think you'll be able to sleep until I put something on your butt to make it feel better. Can you let go of me and lie down on the bed so I can do that?"

Jamesy sniffled and shrugged, not letting go of Steve's shirt. Steve brought his hand up from Jamesy's ass to tuck two fingers under his chin, drawing him to lift his head.

There were tears all over his reddened face, and he was biting his lip, but he met Steve's eyes.

"Will you try for Daddy?"

Jamesy nodded, and let Steve detach his hand and push him gently off, sliding him down to lie on the bed. Steve stood up and moved him while he lay face down, the occasional aftershock sob shaking him as Steve tugged down the covers from under him so he could lie on the cool clean sheets. Steve moved him up the bed so he could rest his head on a pillow, and then snagged the shopping bag full of supplies, bringing it within reach before he sat down on the edge of the bed, level with Jamesy's hip.

Jamesy's breaths were still a little deep and fast, and Steve sat for a moment, petting over the crown of his head and down his back, making soft little shushing sounds. He leaned over and got the glass of water from the nightstand, taking a long sip.

Jamesy turned his head toward the sound, and Steve leaned over him, holding the glass to his lips while he pushed himself up just enough to drink. Jamesy sniffled as Steve took the glass away, and Steve opened the drawer of a nightstand and took out a handkerchief, wiping Jamesy's wet mouth and cheeks before he held it to his nose.

"Blow." Half an hour ago that would have gotten him a glare, or rolling eyes. Now Jamesy just closed his eyes and obeyed, blowing his nose while Steve held the handkerchief for him. "There, does that feel better?"

Jamesy nodded, nestling back down into the pillow, and Steve sat and just looked at him for a moment, until Jamesy opened his eyes, giving Steve a heavy-lidded look and squirming. "Daddy? You said you would make my butt feel better."

Steve smiled. "I will, pal. I just got distracted looking at you--I forget sometimes what a handsome little boy you are."

Jamesy made an inarticulate noise and hid his face in the pillow, not quite fast enough to hide a shy smile. Steve grinned himself as he reached down for the arnica salve. He opened it and set the jar on the small of Jamesy's back, letting the familiar scent out into the air.

"Hold still for me now, all right?"

Jamesy turned his face back out of the pillow and nodded, keeping his eyes shut. There was a fading flush on his cheek, but the mark of the slap earlier was gone.

The same was decidedly not true of the marks Steve had left spanking him: he was various shades of pink and bruised red from the top of his ass down to the tops of his thighs. Steve leaned over and touched his lips to the worst marks, feeling the heat of them and Jamesy's shivering response to each kiss.

When he'd checked every inch and assured himself that he hadn't actually broken any skin, Steve dipped his fingers into the salve and started rubbing it in. He worked from the top down, slow and steady, and only murmured, "Shh, shh," when Jamesy squirmed under his hands.

He was down to the tops of Jamesy's thighs when he murmured, "Open up for me, Jamesy, let me see."

Jamesy obeyed with a pronounced squirm, his thighs springing open to reveal the reddened skin inside. Steve gently rubbed in salve on the insides of his thighs, and the inner surface of his ass. Jamesy couldn't seem to stop moving under his touch now, rocking steadily against the mattress. The jar of salve tipped a little from the motion, but stayed upright in the small of his back.

Steve ran his hand over the warm bruised curve of Jamesy's ass, making him go rigid, trembling with tension. "I asked you to be still, son. Is it hurting you too much to do that?"

"Sorry, Daddy," Jamesy murmured. "No, Daddy. It just hurts. But my--my peashooter feels funny again and when I rub it it doesn't hurt so much."

Steve smiled, dipped out a little more salve and rubbed it in while Jamesy was holding carefully still. "It's supposed to hurt, little boy, that's what makes it a punishment."

Jamesy let out a keening noise but kept still under Steve's hand. "But--but Daddy, you said..."

Steve grabbed a towel from the bag and wiped his hands clean of salve. "What did I say, Jamesy?"

"You said--I need to rest. You hafta make it feel better so I can rest. You said, Daddy."

Steve smiled, knowing for sure that he'd done it right so far--because his familiar pushy Jamesy was finally making an appearance again. "Well, then maybe you better hold still and let Daddy make it feel better instead of trying to fix it yourself, little boy."

"Sorry, Daddy," Jamesy repeated, spreading his legs a little wider.

Steve picked up the arnica salve, putting the lid back on and dropping it into the bag, then pulled out a different jar and set that one on Jamesy's back, opening it up and dipping one finger in.

"Let's try another way to make your butt feel good, pal. It might feel funny, and I want you to tell me if it hurts or makes you feel bad, all right?"

Jamesy nodded, turning his face back into the pillow a little.

"Tell me what you'll say if it doesn't feel good," Steve prompted, one hand on the inside of Jamesy's thigh, holding him open and not quite touching his balls.

Jamesy made a little frustrated noise but said, "I'll tell you stop, Daddy, it feels wrong."

"Okay, little boy," Steve murmured, and brought one finger, thickly coated with lube, to the tight little furl of Jamesy's hole. He only touched, smearing the lube around and stroking over that spot without pushing.

Jamesy squirmed but kept his legs spread wide, pushing as much toward the touch as away.

"Jamesy?"

"Please, Daddy, make it feel better."

Steve stroked a little harder, circling that spot with his fingers while bringing his other hand between Jamesy's thighs to stroke the spot behind his balls. Jamesy let out a tiny keening sound and tensed further, holding completely still.

"Breathe, little boy," Steve prompted. "Ease up. You can move if you need to, just let Daddy do this for you."

Jamesy let out a long breath, squirming under Steve's hands, and Steve kept up the patient caresses until he felt the necessary slight yielding, and his finger slipped inside. Jamesy's breath caught, and Steve murmured a reassurance he barely heard himself, stroking carefully inside his little boy, that ring of muscle clinging tight around him.

"Oh--oh! Daddy!"

Steve leaned down to nuzzle against Jamesy's bruised bottom. "Is that helping, Jamesy?"

"I--I don't know, Daddy."

Steve remembered Jamesy's reaction in the bathtub, and pushed deeper, curling his finger and rubbing. Jamesy let out a little shriek, pushing up from the pillow as his hips jerked hard under Steve's hand. "Daddy!"

Jamesy was breathing hard now, clutching the pillow with both hands, one of them also holding his triceratops.

"Does it hurt too much?" Steve prompted sweetly. "Does it feel bad?"

"Feels good too much, Daddy," Jamesy managed, sounding almost hoarse, and older than such a little boy should.

"No such thing as too much feeling good for my little boy," Steve declared, working his finger in and out, finding all the sweet spots that made Jamesy shake and gasp.

He got out a few syllables that almost added up to Daddy and please, but nothing more than that until Steve withdrew his finger and said, "How's your bottom feeling, Jamesy?"

Jamesy panted helplessly for a moment, then tilted his hips up unmistakably. "Needs more, Daddy."

"Hmm," Steve slicked up two fingers. "I don't know, you're such a little boy, and I don't want to hurt you. I don't know how much more you can take."

Jamesy whined wordlessly, legs spreading wider. "Please, Daddy, please, I can, I can, more--"

"All right, let's see," Steve said. "You were awfully tired a minute ago, but..." He circled Jamesy's slick hole, already softening with use, and his fingers slid into the tight heat of him with only a little effort.

Jamesy went quiet at that, breathing in little gasps as Steve stroked him from the inside, rocking his hips against the mattress from time to time.

"Better?" Steve inquired.

"Daddy," Jamesy managed, and the word was clearly a plea. "Daddy, I need you. It feels too much, I need you."

Steve kept his fingers still and leaned over his little boy, bracing with his other hand on the far side of Jamesy's body. Jamesy kept breathing in frantic gasps as Steve kissed his shoulder blade, the nape of his neck. "What do you need Daddy to do, little boy?"

Jamesy started to say something, but got out only huh before the word broke off into a whine. Steve brushed back the hair from his tearstained pink face and shushed him softly, nuzzling against his cheek with his fingers carefully still in the tight heat of his little boy's hole.

"Whatever you need, little boy," Steve murmured. "I just want to help you feel good so you can rest, but your bottom's all sore, so I want you to stay face down like this. Do you need me to touch your little shooter, too? I know you're all stiff again."

Jamesy bit his lip and then said, his voice small and wavering, "H--hold me, Daddy? Hold me d--" Jamesy's voice gave way entirely, and Steve brushed a thumb over his cheek, watching his sweetly overwhelmed struggle before he whispered. "Down, Daddy. Hold me. Down."

Steve slipped his fingers free of Jamesy's hole, which made him whine, his eyes flashing open.

"Shh, little boy." Steve spread his palm over the bruised warmth of Jamesy's butt and gently pressed down, stopping the tiny rocking of Jamesy's hips, still seeking pleasure against the sheets. "Feel that? If I hold you down you won't be able to stop feeling how sore you are from your spanking, and I won't be able to touch you on the inside."

"You can," Jamesy insisted, loyal and sure of his daddy's power to give him what he needed. "Please, Daddy, I know you can somehow, I need you."

"Well..." Steve stretched out beside Jamesy and kissed his face in a series of soft, thoughtful presses while he rubbed his hand firmly over Jamesy's bruises. "There is a way I could do it, but you're such a very little boy, not even five yet, and you're already tired. I don't know if it's a good time to do something new with you. It could be scary, and sometimes it hurts. I only want my little boy to feel good right now."

"I'll feel good, Daddy, I promise," Jamesy insisted. "Please, Daddy, please."

Steve shook his head and kissed Jamesy's forehead. "I'm gonna do everything I can to make it feel good for you, Jamesy, but if it doesn't feel good, or it hurts more than it feels good, you must tell me so I can fix it. Do you understand? You can't pretend. I won't stop holding you or touching you, but you have to tell me if something doesn't feel good. Do you promise?"

Jamesy nodded frantically. "I promise, I promise."

"All right," Steve said quietly. "I'm going to take my clothes off--that way Daddy can be touching you all over. I want you to watch, but stay where you are on the bed."

Jamesy nodded and repeated shakily, "Promise, Daddy."

Steve stood up, and Jamesy relaxed his grip on the pillow, drawing the triceratops down to press against his mouth as he looked up at Steve with wide, shiny eyes. Steve stripped quickly and stayed standing beside the bed, stroking his cock as he looked down at Jamesy spread out on the bed, his legs still spread, the shine of lube visible over the pink furl of his hole.

"Do you know what I'm gonna put inside your butt, little boy?"

Jamesy's eyes flicked up and down his body. "Your... your cock, Daddy?"

Steve nodded, watching Jamesy's reaction for any flicker of resistance. He pressed the triceratops to his mouth and looked up at Steve, a little curl of a smile barely visible. Steve smiled back.

"Will that make you feel good too, Daddy? Like before? Cause you... you..."

Steve stepped closer and perched on the edge of the bed by Jamesy's pillow. "Because I love my little boy and being close to him and touching him makes me feel good?"

Jamesy nodded, ducking his head a little shyly.

"Yes, that's why." Steve reached out to run a hand over Jamesy's hair. "Is that why your little peashooter got hard? Because being with Daddy makes you feel good, even when Daddy has to punish you?"

Jamesy nodded frantically into his pillow, then abruptly pushed up and leaned over to give Steve's cock a quick, sweet kiss.

Steve gripped himself tight, feeling a startling rush of love in the midst of the pounding lust. That was his Jamesy to the core, impulsively affectionate and so damn eager.

"All right," Steve said. "But Jamesy, I have to ask you..."

Jamesy looked up at him, eyes wide and clear, and Steve almost believed he didn't need to check.

"Little boy," he said softly. "When you were lost, did anyone ever touch you inside like this?"

He couldn't quite read the first flash of reaction that crossed Jamesy's face, but his expression softened with fondness and he shook his head. There was no trace of his earlier tension when talking about that time, no flicker of anyone but Jamesy in his face. He was down deep now, safe with his daddy.

"No, Daddy. I'm just little, and I didn't..." Jamesy looked down. "I didn't have a grownup friend. Even when I was trying to be a good boy for them, they didn't..."

Jamesy shook his head again, and Steve slid off the bed, crouching beside it so that he was near eye-level with Jamesy when he leaned over to kiss his cheek again. "Okay, pal. Daddy's gonna take care of you now. You'll tell me if it doesn't feel good, right?"

Jamesy nodded, meeting Steve's eyes again. "Please, Daddy, I want you to. I need you."

"I know, little boy." Steve got on the bed again, kneeling between Jamesy's wide-open thighs. "Give me your pillow, son."

Jamesy handed it back without hesitation, laying his cheek down on the bare sheet as Steve guided him to lift his hips up, propping him on the pillow. Steve slicked his cock and lined it up, reminding himself that small as Jamesy was, he could take this.

"Okay, Jamesy," Steve said softly, one hand on the unbruised part of his hip to steady him as he pushed inside.

Jamesy let out a sharp, high gasp and Steve stopped with just the head of his cock gripped tight in Jamesy's ass. He was so tight--Steve could have, maybe should have, prepared him more, but he didn't want to drag this out forever. Jamesy needed to rest.

"Okay," Steve said softly. "Breathe, son, it's okay."

Jamesy nodded, cheek sliding against the sheet. He had the triceratops tucked under his chin now and his eyes closed.

Steve felt him start to relax, and pushed in deeper. He meant to make it another incremental move, but Jamesy made a hot, shocked sound and jerked under him, and Steve slid smoothly all the way in until his hips were resting against the bruised softness of Jamesy's upturned bottom. Jamesy's eyes flashed open at that, not Steve's cock pushing into him. Steve lowered himself over his little boy, stretching out to cover Jamesy's body with his.

"There," Steve murmured, holding himself up just enough not to crush Jamesy under him. He nuzzled at Jamesy's throat and up his cheek. "That what you wanted, little boy?"

Steve couldn't deny it was what he wanted, to feel them joined like this, to be buried inside him and feel Jamesy's soft surrender under him.

Jamesy nodded, his voice shaking as he whispered, "Yeah, Daddy, it feels so--so--" Jamesy bucked under him, more pressure on his bruises, trying to take Steve's cock deeper. "Daddy, please?"

"Shh." Steve curled his arms around Jamesy's, his hands resting over Jamesy's wrists, covering his little boy further as he started to move. He just rocked his hips at first, drawing little gasps out of Jamesy and answering squirms. Then he braced on his elbows and knees and pushed up enough to actually thrust.

Jamesy moaned as Steve pulled back, and Steve squeezed his wrists gently, resting a little more weight on Jamesy's back before he pushed back in. He kept his movements slow and deliberate, picking his angle and being careful not to hit harder against Jamesy's bruises than he had to. Jamesy panted and writhed under him, sometimes with Steve's movements and sometimes against them, but the only words he ever managed were Daddy and please and, when Steve had gotten a slow steady rhythm going, "Daddy, Daddy, harder."

Steve pressed his lips to the nape of Jamesy's neck and snapped his hips in hard, making Jamesy's words dissolve into a long cry. He kept it up for another few rough thrusts, and that was all it took. He felt Jamesy tensing under him, tightening around his cock as he came, working his dick into the pillow under Steve's weight.

Steve kept himself still until his little boy trembled to the end of his orgasm and went utterly limp beneath him. But when Steve started to pull out, Jamesy's left hand twisted under his, catching him in a hard grip. "Stay, Daddy, finish. Want you to feel good too."

Jamesy shuddered and gasped when Steve gave him another slow, careful thrust, but he didn't let go. "Still want me to hold you down, little boy? Still want Daddy inside you?"

"Always," Jamesy whispered, sounding drowsy already, loose and half-gone under him. "Love you, Daddy. Always."

Steve let out a helpless moan of his own and fucked into him again and again, chasing his own pleasure now in his little boy's pliant body. It didn't take him long to find it, his orgasm crashing over him like a wave, leaving him washed clean and still, stretched out over Jamesy.

"Stay," Jamesy mumbled again, his left hand still clinging to Steve's.

Steve nuzzled into his hair, kissed the crown of his head, and let his weight settle. His little boy was strong enough to take it if that was what he wanted. "Always, son. Always."


Steve woke up alone, smiling. He rolled onto his side and stretched thoroughly. For a moment he was only aware that he felt good, that everything was all right, and then he realized two things.

Jamesy's triceratops was watching him from the nightstand, and Bucky was singing in the shower.

Steve rolled onto this back, slinging an arm over his face, and laughed a little with sheer happiness. It had worked. It had all fucking worked. Bucky had found a way back to him through the game they used to play, and Steve had done it right enough to leave him still happy the morning after. Steve hadn't heard Bucky singing in the shower since 1943.

He sat up, grabbing the little triceratops, and rubbed his fingers over a couple of fingertip-sized indentations in the dense plastic. Could have been worse, really. He got up and went over to the dresser to put the toy away, and stopped short.

The lowest drawer was slightly open. He remembered distinctly that he had shut it the night before after he got the triceratops out for Jamesy. He glanced over his shoulder, though he could still hear Bucky singing in the shower--which meant he definitely wasn't going to creep up behind him--and then knelt.

The clothes in the drawer were rumpled, in case Steve happened to be slow enough to miss the fact that Bucky hadn't closed the drawer all the way. Steve shook his head, smirking a little. "Thanks, Buck."

He lifted the folded shirts out, setting them aside so that he could look without disturbing anything. He wanted to see exactly what Bucky had seen when he investigated, and how he had left what he found.

The rest of the dinosaurs were there, a space left among them for the triceratops. The pacifiers were there too, and Steve felt a new rush of relief. Bucky would have gotten rid of them if he didn't want them, if he couldn't bear the thought of being that young and helpless.

It looked like everything was still there, though not exactly as Steve had left it. The soft toys had been shuffled; a light brown bunny was on top, its arms folded in to cradle the package of hair ribbons that had been tucked behind the toys.

One ribbon was missing--it had been periwinkle, a nicely ambiguous shade between blue and purple. It had reminded Steve a little of the changeable color of Bucky's eyes, showing up differently depending on the light and the background.

That had to mean that it was Jemmie he should be keeping an eye out for next. Steve smiled and put the triceratops away, piled clothes back on top of the array of toys, and went to see if Bucky wanted company in the shower.