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It starts when Natasha picks them up for a day trip in her Corvette. Steve and Bucky live on a pretty quiet corner in Sunnyside, so they hear her coming a mile off and she’s got the lane space to pull a fancy turn when she slides in close and lets the curb kiss her bumper.

“Shotgun,” Bucky says immediately; Steve twitches and looks around. “What? Where?”

“No, it’s what you say when you want to sit in the front seat and call it for yourself,” Bucky says, watching the car with narrowed eyes as Natasha rolls the window down and gives them an evil little smile.

“What? Why?”

“Look at that car, Rogers, the only way it’s got a back seat is if it’s a bench the size of a postage stamp,” Bucky says, leaning in to kiss Natasha on the cheek -  “Zdrasti, zaichik” - and then circling around to open the passenger door.

“I knew that,” Steve says belatedly as he goes around to cram their cooler and bag of towels in the trunk. “I’ve ridden in this car before. I know things.”

“Sure, baby,” Bucky says, waiting by the front with the passenger seat tilted forward. “Now get in the back and make friends with your postage stamp. It’s only, what, an hour to the beach?”

“You’re both terrible fucking people,” Steve mutters, clambering into the back, where the seat is indeed a creation made for toddlers, or possibly elves. “Where’s Sam? Sam wouldn’t do this to me.”

“Sam is already on his way and detouring to pick up, and I quote, ‘the best rib roast to grace the tongue of man, you’re fucking welcome’,” Bucky says, looking at his phone, as Natasha grins and says, “Sam would absolutely do this to you.”

“You’re the only one of us whose muscle pain gets wished away by fairies,” Bucky adds, dropping into the front seat and slamming the door. “Suck it up.” He nods at Natasha. “Take us away, zaichik.”

Natasha gives him a cool look, which is enough warning for Steve to brace himself; it’s not hard, given his knees are practically touching his earlobes, and it proves prudent when Natasha hits the gas pedal like it’s said something very rude about her mother.

They blow through Queens like it’s amateur hour at the Indy 500. Bucky’s initial sweet Jesus turns into laughter pretty quick, because for all his complaining about Steve’s ‘motorcycle problem’ he’s a guy whose ideal vehicle is a roller coaster with two rocket boosters nailed to the sides. It’s early morning on a Tuesday so the roads are relatively clear - for them, at least, headed away from the city. Steve lets his head loll against the seat back - as much as he can, anyway - and watches Bucky. There’s no real reason for it, or any conscious decision, really; it’s just where his eyes go. If there’s a Bucky to be looked at, then that’s where Steve will look.

And Bucky looks good. Spending the summer outside in an endless string of community gardens has left his skin tanned brown and his hair streaked with honey gold, and the gradual resolution of a lot of dietary issues has let him put on some weight for once. It makes Steve stupid, how much he just wants to grab Bucky close and kiss on him and maybe gnaw on his shoulders a little; like Buck’s candy, something squishy and golden and sweet. Steve’s big toasted marshmallow.

Bucky’s hair is up in a big tortoiseshell jaw clip today, and Steve can see the back of his neck, the dull metal glint peeking out from his shirt where Steve’s dogtags and Buck’s medical tags share space on the same chain. That makes Steve pretty stupid too; he forgets that he’s trying not to knee himself in the jaw and just sort of smiles dopily at the back of Bucky’s head, the curve of his cheek, the glint of his earrings. They’re just a pair of flat gold studs today: Buck got the piercings halfway through April, mostly as an experiment, but liked them so much - something to fiddle with, something pretty and shiny - that they’re definitely here to stay.  

Steve loves those piercings. Gift-giving is an agony of the first degree and it’s just so much easier when he can give Buck some nice jewelry instead of trying to figure out if the little narrow-eyed hmmm Bucky makes at windowfronts means ‘yes, I want that jacket’ or ‘yikes, who made that jacket’ or ‘yes, elements of this jacket’s design appeal to me but I would never ever wear it myself’. Bucky hmmm s a lot. Steve may or may not have a mental spreadsheet documenting every single thing Bucky has hmmm’ d at. Steve is trying.

Bucky says that Steve doesn’t have to get him anything. Shouldn’t gift him anything, he’s got everything he needs, stoppit. Steve will stop when hell freezes over, because Bucky gets that soft, wondering look of pleasure on his face every time - and he always wears the earrings and socks and knife holsters, no matter how much hemming and eyeballing he puts Steve through.

Steve will stop when he’s dead. He’s got a second chance, now. He’s got a second run at having Bucky in his life, in his bed, and Steve is grabbing hold with both hands, he’s sinking his teeth in, he’s giving Buck every possible reason he can to stay. He’s got a strategy. He’s got a plan. He’s going to make the 21st century as good for Buck as it gets.

They go to the beach. Bucky buries Sam in sand and lovingly crafts him some sand cleavage, Nat gets barbecue sauce in her hair, and collectively Buck, Sam and Nat dunk Steve in the ocean a total of twenty-four times. It’s fantastic. Bucky spends the whole ride back completely passed out in the front and Steve’s so happy he doesn’t even complain once about the back seat making his ass go numb.

Natasha drops them off with a wave; Bucky stands and watches her zoom away down the street, blinking heavily before yawning so hard his jaw cracks.

“Yeah, alright,” Steve laughs; it’s barely sixteen hundred hours but an early bedtime is hardly a terrible thing. “Let’s get inside.”

Buck strips off as he walks, getting down to his swimtrunks - now dry and sprinkling barely any sand across their floorboards - and walks directly into their shower. Steve sort of toes Bucky’s shirt and socks in the direction of their laundry hamper and steps in after him. “Why’re you still in your shorts?”

“They need rinsing,” Bucky says, still a little sleepy, standing with just his hand under the water spray until he deems it hot enough to allow on the rest of his body. “They’ve been in the ocean. You don’t know what’s in the ocean.”

“Excuse you, I spent seventy years in the ocean,” Steve says. “That means I know more about the ocean than anyone else on Planet Earth. Asgard too probably.”

“Oh, yeah, just like I’m the world’s foremost expert on bionics just because I’ve got this thingie hanging off my shoulder right here,” Bucky says, showing Steve a shiny metal middle finger. “Whoa, gosh, look at that. Why does it keep doing that around you? I just don’t know.”

“And you call yourself an expert,” Steve says sadly, squeezing around Bucky to get the body wash and start soaping himself down. “Unbelievable.”

“The hypocrisy in this shower. Tell me one fact about oceans, science man. Go on. One fact.”

“Well,” Steve says seriously, “Not everybody knows this, but water, y’see, is wet,” which makes Bucky snort and laugh directly into the shower spray, shaking his head and flinging water droplets everywhere.

Later, when Steve’s in briefs, collecting up all their beach laundry while Bucky finishes blowdrying, it’s down to him to pick up Bucky’s abandoned shorts from the shower and rinse them out in the sink. “I can’t believe HYDRA programmed you to never pick up your shit,” he tells Bucky, half-yelling over the blowdryer.

“What? I can’t hear you,” Bucky replies, not taking his eyes off himself in the mirror. “I’m very old and this is very loud, I don’t know what you’re saying.”

Steve rolls his eyes and flicks water at Bucky instead of answering, which turns out to be the right move when Bucky clicks the dryer off a second later, in anticipation of Steve’s response. Bucky sniffs, clearly indignant about the missed opportunity to tell Steve off for yelling.

“Seriously, we could’ve just laundered these,” Steve muses instead, wringing Bucky’s shorts out in the sink before hanging them up on the towel rack to dry.

“Absolutely not, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Bucky calls over his shoulder, exiting the bathroom and going straight for his pillow.

Fully half their bed is colonized by that pillow. It’s an enormous body pillow, a giant tubelike pouf of a thing with old-fashioned goose down stuffing and a vast cotton pillowcase patterned to look like a night sky full of stars. It’s the only thing Bucky can actually sleep on for longer than thirty minutes, and Steve bought it after Bucky started making increasingly elaborate blanket nests in bed just so his spine would let him sleep.

It does sometimes feel like there’s a third person in their bed - one that regularly gets all of Bucky’s attention and spooning prowess, too - but Steve recognizes these are crazy thoughts and tries very hard not to have them.

Steve knows he’s a crazy, jealous asshole. He’s working on it.

“You have sunburn,” he notes, instead of commenting on how Buck’s snuggling the pillow like it bought him dinner. And Buck does have sunburn - not much, just an orangey-red tinge over his upper back and shoulder that’ll disappear by tomorrow. Still, who is Steve to pass up a chance to get his hands on Bucky’s skin? “I’ll go get the aloe.”

“Mmphhkay,” Bucky agrees, only partially surfacing from his pillowhugging. “Don’t break off more than one leaf.”

Steve goes into the greenhouse - or rather, the spare bedroom that’s literally just rows of shelves of Bucky’s plants - and carefully snaps off a finger’s length of aloe. He picks up one of Bucky’s omnipresent knives - this one’s picked up off the sill above the door, he’ll have to remember to replace it later - and flicks it open as he walks, using it to slit the aloe lengthwise.

“Which knife?” Bucky mumbles into his pillow, eyes not even open.

Steve gives Bucky’s back his usual how-did-you-do-that squint and wipes the knife off on his briefs before setting it on the bedside table.“Greenhouse door sill.”

“‘Kay. It can stay in the bedroom, there’s another one up there.”

“What, really?” Steve says, knee-walking up onto the bed, holding the steadily oozing aloe in one palm. “C’mon, gimme your back.”

Bucky sits up with a groan, lifting his hair up off his shoulders so Steve can get at them. “Greenhouse ‘s’fulla knives.”

“Everywhere’s fulla knives. Name one room in our house that has less than four knives.”

“Linen closet,” Bucky says immediately.

Steve snorts, scooping the aloe goo off the leaf and gently spreading it over Bucky’s pinked skin. “That’s not a room.”

“It is too. Four walls, a door, it’s a room. You can stand inside it.”

“Sure you can. How many knives are even in there?”

“Two,” Bucky says.

“Are you counting machetes?”

“That’s on top of the fridge,” Bucky says. “And there’s only one.”

“You sound disproportionately disappointed about that,” Steve says, setting the used aloe leaf down on the other nightstand and rubbing the last of the goo into Bucky’s skin.

“Machetes are useful! Leave me alone.”

“Never,” Steve says, leaning in over Bucky’s shoulder briefly to kiss his ear. “You’re stuck with me.”

“Fuck,” Bucky says comfortably, flopping down onto his pillow again now that Steve’s done slathering him in leaf juice. “That’s awful. Do I at least get your stuff when you die?”

“If you manage to fight Sam and Nat for it,” Steve allows. “And the Smithsonian too, I guess.”

“Ha! We’ll join forces and rout the Smithsonian, then split your crap three ways.” Bucky rolls over, onto his back, smiling fuzzily up at Steve. “See that strategic thinking? They shoulda made me a general instead of sergeant major whatever.”

“A major something,” Steve agrees, resettling himself so he’s straddling Bucky’s hips; now that the aloe is dry they can get to work. “Stellar tactical analysis. Alright. Tell me what hurts.”

Bucky grimaces, but these days it’s mostly on reflex. “Neck, shoulders,” he reports dutifully; he’s learned this is something Steve will not budge on. “Uh… that’s it. As usual, I guess. Three. Maybe a four.” His mouth pulls unhappily to the side for a second before he admits, “Neck is a four.”

“Good,” Steve says, gently cupping Bucky’s face and kissing his nose, like always. “Thank you for telling me. Roll over, let’s see what we can do about that.”

Bucky rolls his eyes and turns over, flopping his arms out in a pointed ragdoll impression that does absolutely nothing to dissuade Steve. Bucky likes to complain about Steve mothering him, as if he has any leg whatsoever to stand on. Steve learned it all from him.

Thank god they get to skip the argument tonight. Steve uncaps the Bengay, sort of idly annoyed in the back of his mind about the fact that he can’t tease Bucky about forgoing the song and dance for once; there’s a lot of things he has to be careful about, nowadays, even just talking, and lord knows he’s not annoyed at Buck, it’s just -  

Steve’s more or less accepted he’s just going to be quietly, permanently furious about - well, pretty much everything, running the gamut from all that was done to Bucky to the way that human brains process trauma. They’re left with landmines in the most bizarre and frustrating places, and things that should be simple aren’t, and sometimes Steve feels like he could vomit lava with the way the entire goddamn universe just will not give them a fucking break.  

It’s - fine. When they were both on the downswing of a bad day once they even bitched about it together, about how fucking stupid trauma was sometimes. Romantic couple bonding time, Bucky called it, and Steve laughed even when the last thing he felt like doing was laughing, so. It’s fine. They’re fine. Realistically, objectively, they’re doing okay.

The wintergreen smell of the Bengay starts to suffuse the room as Steve massages it into Bucky’s neck. There’s no sunburn there, since even pinned up Bucky’s hair is big enough to cover most of his neck, so Steve feels free to give him a thorough rubdown. “You’ve still got sand in your hair,” he tells Bucky musingly, when he runs up against Buck’s hairline and feels the telltale points of grittiness.

“Hah. And I don’t even care,” Bucky mumbles happily. “That was great.”

“Good day?”

“Good day.” Bucky turns his head to rub his other cheek against the bedsheets. “Ocean. Sunshine. Natasha’s car. Hell of a ride.”

“Yeah, except for the torture device you called a back seat.”

Bucky snickers, muffled. “Dunno what you’re talkin’bout.”

“Sure you don’t.”

“Nooooo idea.” He snuffles around for a bit in the sheets; then, “I want a fast car too,” Steve hears, barely audible.  

Steve smears more Bengay over Bucky’s shoulders. He pretty much only knows Natasha’s got a Corvette because that’s what she calls it: The Corvette. “What kind?”

Bucky’s head pops up. “Oh no,” he says, spitting some hair out of his mouth. “Don’t you dare. To start with, you don’t know anything about cars - ”

“So teach me,” Steve says, very reasonably, in his opinion. “Tell me which car we’re getting and you’ll get it.”

“Steve,” Bucky whines, trying to twist around, complaining. “I can’t just say I want this and have you pop up ten seconds later with a silver platter, it’s not -”

“Why not?” Steve says. “We have the money. We have the garage space. You want it, we can have it -”

“That’s not the point!”

“What is the point? Why shouldn’t you have it?”

“Oh my god,” Bucky groans. “I can’t believe I’m hearing you argue for blatant materialist consumerism.”

“I’m arguing for my fella being happy,” Steve says firmly. “That’s worth a little consumerism.”

“I’m happy! I’m plenty happy. Does this not look like a happy face to you?”

Steve smiles at Bucky’s scowl, only half visible since he’s still sitting on Buck’s back and refusing to let him up. “I know you’re happy,” he says. “Makes me happy, too. But you could be happier -”

“Oh, there’s a quota now? There’s a minimum threshold?” Bucky demands.

“Yep,” Steve says blithely. “The legislation just passed, it became law earlier today. Steve Rogers gotta get J. B. Barnes a car before the month is out or he gets… uh… banned.”

“Who’s J. B. Barnes, I don’t know any J. B. Barnes,” Bucky gripes, flopping back down. “Sounds like some asshole. And whatever Steve Rogers gets banned from, he probably deserves it.”

“I’m being slandered,” Steve complains. “In my own home.”

“Keep whining, moneybags,” Bucky says, eyeing Steve from over his shoulder, half his face squished out of shape by the mattress. “You’re the one complaining about not being allowed to buy a car.”

Steve looks at him. “Would you buy it for yourself?”

“Steve, it’s a car, Jesus, we live in New York, we don’t need a fucking car.”

“Would you?”

Bucky looks away. He still won’t - can’t - acquire things for himself that aren’t weapons or very, very basic bodily necessities. Piercing his ears had been a costly fucking victory: Bucky wanted it, wanted to see if he could do it, but Steve had to sit Bucky down to make him eat the whole next week after, like he hadn’t had to for months, and then touch and play with Buck’s ears for far longer to convince him yes, Steve likes it, yes, it’s good and allowed. Not exactly a hardship, but Steve’s pretty sure that Bucky only managed to make piercing his ears align as “good” because it now fell into the category of “makes Steve happy”.

Steve worries about this. Steve would probably worry a lot more if Bucky weren’t one hundred percent aware of the situation and pretty damn vocal about it. “Steve, my baseline for what’s normal or good or - right, or, or - whatever is pretty fucking fucked to kingdom come. Why wouldn’t I use you as a barometer?”

“You’re not using me as a barometer, you’re acting like I’m -”

And Steve cut off there, because that sentence was going places he didn’t want it to go. You’re acting like I’m in charge wasn’t quite right. You’re acting like I’m your keeper is a little closer, but Steve knows the real word that applies here and it’s owner.

Steve’s not ever going to say that to Bucky, but apparently he doesn’t need to, because Bucky can read his face like a children’s book with particularly big and simple writing. Cartoons too, probably. “Would you ever intentionally steer me wrong?” Bucky asked, very levelly, and once again Steve’s face apparently answered for him. “There you go.”

Steve didn’t have an answer to that, or at least one that wasn’t but I shouldn’t like it so much. He’s not sure exactly what kind of sin he’s committing by getting a happy little thrill every time Buck looks to him to make a decision, to make sure of something, but he’s sure it’s definitely a big one.

He told Buck exactly that, and Buck looked at him like he was amazed Steve could walk upright and breathe at the same time. “Who’s it hurting?” Bucky demanded. “Huh? Who does it hurt? So I check in with you every once in a while, god forbid, who the fuck gets hurt because of that? Huh? Is it you?”

“No, but - it’s just - ”

“And - it’s - it feels nice, okay? It feels good. Checking in with you, it feels good, it feels like I’m doing the right thing.” Bucky worked his jaw, swiped his hand over his mouth. “So fuck you. Asshole.”

That led to some apologizing on Steve’s part, which Buck maintained was not apologizing, just more of his ego boiling over so much it was pouring out his ears, which Steve maintained was irrelevant, which led to Bucky smacking Steve over the head with a rolled-up copy of Scientific American until Steve finally yelped out “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Jesus Christ, put that away, you fuckin’ menace!”

They had a day of detente about it, more or less, whereupon Bucky seemed to realize that Steve’s position was more deeply entrenched than he had initially thought, that he was going to fight about this. At lunch the next day Bucky watched him very carefully for a moment and then said, “Okay. You want me to use someone else?”

And Steve literally felt his lips go back over his teeth in a snarl like some kind of fucking caveman animal, and Bucky settled back in his seat with a satisfied sort of look. “Alright. Nobody else.”

Steve would feel more indignant about having been so openly manipulated if his brain didn’t just white out in neon rage every time he so much as thinks about Bucky looking at someone else, checking in with someone else the same way he does with Steve. The very idea of the possibility of someone misusing Bucky’s trust makes Steve feel gladly capable of killing and eating another human being with his bare hands.

Some of Steve’s crazy thoughts are harder to subdue than others. He handles it. And Bucky’s getting better too - the ear piercings, the gardening. Better than nothing. Baby steps.

Steve has no idea why this issue is sticking around when other, seemingly harsher problems have eased off or let go, but as Bucky says, if Steve can figure out why brains are like they are he can start his own religion. As it stands it’s just a fact: sky is blue, grass is green, Bucky has a lot of difficulty getting anything purely for himself.

But he still wants things, likes things, and these days he can show it, so Steve will continue being the middleman between Buck’s wants and his executive function until the sun implodes into a fucking magma pancake in the sky.

So. “We’ll get a car,” Steve says firmly, on the bed with a sunned and aloe’d Bucky. “Eventually.”

“Fine. Sure. Great. So you can fill my fucking happiness quota, Jesus,” Bucky mutters. “Are you gonna fuck me tonight or what?”

“Well I guess,” Steve says, lowering himself down over Bucky to kiss him. “If I really have to.”

“Yeah, you have to,” Bucky says, wriggling until he’s starfished out under Steve, his metal hand scraping against the wood of the nightstand as he gropes for the lube. “They just passed that law too, Steve Rogers gotta fuck Bucky Barnes, right now immediately. Maybe his dick will even cooperate for once.”

Steve snorts into Bucky’s shoulder working off his briefs; they’re at a place now where they both mostly just laugh about it, which is pretty nice. Bucky’s a lot healthier these days but they’re not at a hundred percent just yet, and one of the physical issues that seems to be sticking around is that getting hard - getting off - is still kind of a crapshoot.

But that in no way means that they can’t have sex, and Bucky’s nothing if not a trooper. He’s gone at their sex life - or rather, Steve’s assumptions about their sex life - with the psychological equivalent of a warhammer, and he’s finally convinced Steve that yes, he does enjoy himself even if only one of them ends up with that white stuff coming out of that weird thing between their legs.  

So Steve lubes them up in good conscience, fondling and playing with Buck even though tonight it seems like half-mast is pretty much where things max out. Bucky’s bitey, happy from the beach and awake from his nap in the car, so just to be perverse Steve fucks him slow, luxurious, pins his hands to the bed until he gives up trying to buck him off and starts trying to hide his face instead. Steve lets him, flipping him over, because this way Buck can hug his pillow and Steve can gather Bucky up under him, tuck him close, arms over Bucky’s arms, holding onto his wrists.

“Don’t get - jizz on my - ah - ah - pillow,” Bucky pants, simultaneously trying to hug his pillow closer and push it away, further from his dick.

“Y’know, you say that, every time, and - every time - it gets more - and more - tempting,” Steve grunts back at him.

“Oh fuck you,” Bucky grunts, and Steve decides if Buck can still talk he’s not doing his job right and doubles down.

 

 

Later, in the dark, with Steve wrapped around his back, Bucky picks up one of Steve’s hands and presses it over his face. “Did you mean it?” he whispers. He doesn’t specify and doesn’t have to.

“Yes,” Steve says, just as quiet. “I meant it.”

Bucky just breathes for a long minute, warm and damp against Steve’s fingers. “You’re spoiling me,” he whispers.

Steve kisses Buck’s ear. “Is that such a bad thing?”

Bucky covers his face with his own hands too now, mushing Steve’s palm against his nose. “I’m not - used to - ”

“Is it so bad?” Steve murmurs. “If you don’t like it, tell me. I don’t ever want to be doing things you don’t like.”

Bucky breathes some more, a little louder this time. “No,” he rasps eventually. “S’not. Bad.”

“Don’t worry,” Steve whispers, burying his face in Bucky’s hair. “It’s an easy fix. If you’re not used being spoiled, we just keep going until you are.”

“Alright,” Bucky agrees, curling tighter around Steve’s arm, his voice not quite wet but not quite normal either. “Alright. Alright.”

 

 

The subject drops for a while. A whole month, actually, where neither of them mention cars until they all go to some StarkTech expo in Flushing with Sam and the two absolute worst people in Steve’s life start talking shop.

“I want a Tesla,” Bucky says, which is the first sentence Steve’s heard in ten minutes where he understands more than one word in seven. He’s been walking around admiring the designs of things and being at peace with the fact that he doesn’t really give a shit about their functions.

He hears the laugh in Sam’s voice. “Going green, mid-century man?”

“No, it’s harder to blow up.”

“Uh,” Sam says. “Pretty sure it’s not significantly harder to plant a car bomb under a Tesla than a Toyota.”

“Yeah, but an electric car has no fuel tank to compound the explosion,” Bucky says. “Isn’t that great? I love the future.”

“You have a point,” Sam admits, his hands in his pockets, his sweater and slacks somehow complimented by the gaudy monster STARK VIP lanyard and badge. He and Bucky look VIP, in Sam’s nice wingtips and Bucky’s fashionable grey gloves; in his ballcap and most awful plaid, Steve looks like their college frat intern assistant. It’s ideal: Sam and Bucky get to “geek out” and Steve gets to wander around behind them, taking photos of cool robot stuff to sketch for Bucky later and carrying their bags of “swag”.

“I wonder if Tesla has a booth here,” Bucky says. “Would they be in Vehicles or Batteries?”

“They might be nowhere, Elon Musk has a hate-on for Tony Stark,” Sam says.

“Well let’s go see. Where’s the nearest map touchscreen,” Bucky says, and Steve quietly makes a note to google Tesla when he gets a chance.

A week later, Steve has googled it, and armed with his newfound information he manages to con Bucky into going to the car dealership.

“Let’s just look,” Steve says. “No harm in looking, right? And now I’m curious too. You were talking with Sam about those electric cars, weren’t you? I want to see what’s on offer.”

“I know what you’re doing,” Bucky tells him, glaring, but he looks up the nearest locations anyway.

 

 

They dismount the bike, Bucky first and then Steve; he gets to locking things up as Buck sticks his hands in his back pockets and saunters towards the dealership like he already owns every car in the lot. They’ve gone upstate for this, and it’s not so much worry of being recognized as a precaution against the inevitable crush of people that tends to materialize once it gets out that the former Captain America is out and about with his tragically beautiful bad boy life partner. Steve once heard a young lady say those exact words in that exact order and hasn’t been able to rid himself of their haunting since.

He follows Bucky into the car lot proper. Buck’s already frowning thoughtfully behind his sunglasses; Steve looks around and yep, these cars all definitely… have four wheels, great, very nice.

They’re not even halfway to the building when a short white guy in a starched shirt and tie pops out, his grin and his CRAIG nametag both glinting in the sun. “Good afternoon, gentlemen!” he calls, his eyes skipping from Steve to Bucky and back again. Steve’s only in moderately awful plaid today and aviators; Bucky’s in his usual I-am-a-human-outside clothes, aka looking like the kind of guy who regularly gets stopped by street style photographers. Whatever Craig sees makes him beam. “What can I help you with today?”

“We’re looking to buy a car,” Steve says.

“Excellent, you’ve come to the right place. Anything you’re looking for in particular, maybe something caught your eye…?”

“That one,” Bucky says immediately, pointing at a car that looks like every other car to Steve. “We want a test drive.”

“Certainly,” Craig says, and produces the keys for Steve’s hand.

Steve tosses them to Bucky, who all but skips over to the car and slides into the driver’s seat, waving impatiently at Steve to hurry the fuck up already. Steve rolls his eyes where Craig can’t see and plods over to the passenger door, where Bucky barely waits for him to sit before the car is peeling out of the lot.

“This is incredible,” Bucky says, poking something on the sleek electronic dashboard. “Steve, look at this. Are you seeing this?”

“It’s so quiet,” Steve says.

Yeah,” Bucky says delightedly. “One hundred percent electric engine. Isn’t it amazing?”

“It’s bizarre.”

“It’s futuristic.”

“Nobody’s gonna hear it coming,” Steve says, thinking about how often he uses his ears to judge when it’s safe to cross a street or be aware of an approaching car.

“Perfect! Assassin car,” Bucky says happily. “Always in stealth mode. We match, Steve, we’re bonding.”

“Yeah, when you’re in your orange daisy-print sweater, that’s definitely stealth mode,” Steve tells him, and they drive around, absentmindedly bickering, until Buck says “Okay, switch,” and pulls over.

They switch. Steve adjusts the seat for his slightly longer legs and starts the car; it’s a little strange, driving a civilian vehicle, partly because it really is unnervingly quiet and partly because compared to an army jeep this thing feels like it’s a sneeze away from being carried off by the wind. Disturbingly flimsy toy-car-feeling aside, it handles pretty well. The dashboard looks like it got an ipad shoved facefirst into it, but that’s supposed to be a perk, apparently. Bucky’s certainly having fun doing god knows what to it, the touchscreen making almost inaudible sounds as he pokes at it with his fake-skin glove.

Eventually Bucky sits back in the seat and fixes his gaze on the side of Steve’s face. “Ever get sucked off while driving a car?” he says thoughtfully.

Steve just about chokes on his own spit. “No,” he says, very proud of how he only sounds a little like he just inhaled a corn chip. “Can’t say I have.”

Bucky turns his head to look at Steve, his cheek laid against the headrest. “Ever think about it?”

“Jesus,” Steve mutters. “Let’s buy the car before we wreck it, yeah?”

Bucky grins. “I’m not saying I’ll do it now.”

“That’s not what your face is telling me.”

“What? You know I give you warning before I whip your dick out, baby, give me a little credit.”

“I’m just not sure it’s a good idea.”

“Late night,” Bucky says. “Open road. No lights. My head in your lap, your foot on the gas.” Steve can feel the Barnes cheshire grin against his ear. “Think about it.”

He settles back, confident in Steve’s response and smug as hell about it. Steve has to fight down his blush all the way back to the dealership.

Craig looks about two seconds from rubbing his hands in glee when Steve announces they’re buying, sitting in front of Craig’s little salesman desk-table. “Oh, it’s a wonderful car, a great choice,” he gushes. “Now, if we’ll look at the price…”

Bucky sits forward. Steve leans back. “Yeah,” Bucky says, flipping his hair back and then tying it up in quick, practiced motions; his face looks a lot sharper, harder suddenly, the hollows and planes in stark relief without the soft surrounding cloud of curls. “Let’s talk price.”

Steve tunes out. If he ever had to be really honest about his favorite things in the 21st century, the invention of paying with a piece of abstract plastic would be pretty high up there on the list. It’s fantastic. He doesn’t have to look at numbers, he doesn’t have to count anything out in his hands, he just swipes or taps or inserts chip or whatever and the payment goes through. He basically never has to deal with real money at all, except in tiny amounts at bodegas sometimes, and even then Buck tends to grab the wallet out of Steve’s back pocket and pay.

Buck carries cash only, and he’s absolutely ruthless with money. He’s a businessman’s son with four years’ accounting experience, an obsessive research habit and access to every single product and performance review ever posted on Google. Pair that with the fact that all of Bucky’s smiles look mildly evil these days and you get a car salesman’s worst nightmare.

Judging by his face, it looks like Craig knows this too. His grin is getting sicklier by the minute and he keeps darting pleading little glances at Steve, but Steve’s checked out hard and not afraid to show it.

Steve can tell by Bucky’s tone that he’s going in for the kill, so he settles further back in his seat and unfolds his arm to rest it along the stiff plastic back of Buck’s chair. He doesn’t miss the minute easement of the big muscles in Bucky’s back at that, at his tacit display of support - approval - and he doesn’t miss the tiny glance Bucky sneaks at him when he finally sits back too, probably having delivered his ultimatum. Is it good? Did I do it right?

Steve smiles blandly at Craig and gently rubs his knuckles on the back of Bucky’s shoulder. “I think that’s very reasonable, don’t you?”

Craig looks at Steve, then at Bucky, then back at Steve, and visibly loses his will to live. “Let me just get the paperwork, gentlemen,” he says, pushing back from the table, walking away a broken man.

Steve signs some paperwork. He provides his ID, his insurance information, some other shit that he doesn’t look at too hard and tries not to remember. He signs some more paperwork, carefully not looking at anything that might even slightly resemble a number, and then it’s all being handed to him in a fancy cardstock folder and a key fob without any kind of key on it is dropped into his palm.

“Did you ever think,” Bucky murmurs, as they settle into their brand new black Tesla Model X, “That we’d be here one day? Buying a car together?”

“I always think about doing stuff together,” Steve says automatically. “But. I mean. No, not - really.”

They both sit quietly for a minute, parked in the lot. “Fucking crazy,” Bucky says, after a while.

“If I think too hard about it I usually stop thinking entirely for a while,” Steve admits, starting the car and pulling them out of the lot.

Bucky huffs a little laugh. “And if we did think about it, we wouldn’t have imagined a car like this. It’s got a computer in it, Steve.”

“Yeah, the little elf that sits inside the dashboard and tells me where to go,” Steve says. “Put in the address, I don’t think I remember how I got here.”

“Let’s not go home yet,” Bucky says. “Let’s drive around. I hear the Hudson’s chock full of views.”

“Sure,” Steve agrees; it’s nice out, the late afternoon sun gilding everything and making the afternoon hazy and gold, and driving around for a bit with Bucky right next to him seems like a great plan.

Bucky doesn’t quite fall asleep, as Steve figures out the built-in GPS and takes them on the scenic route home, but he does go into one of his standby states where he stares half-lidded at the world and everything going on inside is happening far away, one step removed. This used to worry Steve a little, but nowadays he’s just accepted that it’s Bucky’s version of napping with his eyes open and doesn’t bug him about it. Bucky always comes out of it seeming refreshed, anyway.

True to form, sometime after the sun drops below the horizon Bucky blinks twice in rapid succession and comes alive all at once, stretching in his seat, yawning, pulling out his phone. Steve smiles automatically and looks away out the window, at the glimpses of the Hudson visible through the trees, still sprinkled with slivers of gold from the very last edges of sunset.

“Take that next exit,” Bucky says after a minute, putting his phone away, pointing with his chin at a passing roadsign. “I just looked at the map, there’s gonna be a nice long stretch of road in the woods coming up.”

“Sure,” Steve says, checking for the exit even as he gives Bucky the suspicious eyebrows. “What’re you planning?”

“Take a wild guess,” Bucky says, low, amused, sliding his metal palm up the inseam of Steve’s jeans, and even though Steve pretty much saw it coming he can’t help the hard exhale at the touch of Bucky’s hand.

“You said you’d warn me before taking my dick out,” he can’t help but say.

“I did,” Bucky grins. “I said let’s not go home yet. I said let’s drive around.”

“Well shit, guess I didn’t get the memo about our updated sex codewords,” Steve says. “What if we crash?”

“We won’t crash,” Bucky says confidently, gathering his hair back to put it up. “I’ve seen you drive in combat situations, you have the reflexes.”

“I’m not usually getting my dick sucked in combat situations,” Steve mutters, even as his body starts its Pavlovian response to Bucky in the corner of his eye, working his hair up into a Blowjob Bun. It’s different from his exercise and everyday buns: sloppier, looser. Easier to grab.

“Only usually?” Bucky raises an eyebrow, leaning over the divider console between their seats. His nose bumps Steve’s cheek again; he takes a second to close his lips over Steve’s earlobe and give a teasing little tug. “C’mon. You want this. You can have it.”

“Twist my arm, why don’t you,” Steve says on a hard exhale, and Bucky grins his victory grin and immediately ducks down to start worming his way into Steve’s lap.

“Okay, whoa,” Steve says, his knuckles on the gearshift bumping into Bucky’s chest. “Your back - ”

“S’fine,” Bucky mumbles, clearly not even hearing him, already fumbling with Steve’s zipper. Steve decides fifteen minutes with his back at that angle probably won’t kill him and refuses to think about how the sudden sensation of Bucky’s warm breath on his underwear has anything to do with that decision.

Then Bucky’s mouth is on him, and Steve stops making decisions for a while.

Bucky knows exactly what to do to Steve - not that it’s hard, since what gets Steve going is more or less whatever Bucky feels like doing. Steve’s been sucked off by a grand total of four people in his life, and it’s not that Peggy and the two chorus girls weren’t wonderful, it’s just that it’s, well, Bucky. He doesn’t exactly need technique to get Steve off, and frankly Bucky’s technique is just doing whatever the god damn hell he wants. He wanders around, he takes his time, he picks some random spot to lick at like some kind of cat for five minutes for reasons that completely pass understanding; he pulls Steve’s hands into his hair, over his neck, makes him feel where Bucky’s got him, holds his hands there until he pets over Bucky’s cheeks, his jaw, his stretched mouth. It’s the best goddamn thing Steve’s ever felt every time. He wouldn’t dream of trying to direct a Bucky blowjob because he wouldn’t change a thing.

This way he can’t touch Bucky at all. Buck’s got a hand on his knee, another curled into his fly, keeping his pants open wide; Steve’s got both hands on the wheel. The road is dark and flat ahead of them and it all feels unreal, the hushed sound of the car engine, the two-dimensional quality the headlights give their surroundings. It’s dark inside the car and Bucky’s mouth is a blind searing heat between Steve’s legs, through his whole groin, lighting up his belly; Steve can hear the slick little sounds, the whisper of fabric, the gentle whirr of cybernetic servos. Bucky drooling in his lap, on his cock.

Steve takes them up a gear. The car hums, still eerily quiet, made more eerie by the obvious speed it’s building on the road. Bucky bobs his head faster, and Steve watches the speedometer tick higher - ninety, a hundred, hundred ten. Steve’s hands flex on the wheel, on the gearshift; plastic creaks warningly in his grip. One twenty. He can feel Buck’s hair tickling his stomach, feel the vibrations, the engine, the hot little moans Bucky gives every time he slides down. One thirty. It feels like Buck is genuinely trying to crawl into his lap, like any second now he’ll get a knee over the gearshift and just tumble right over, like he wants Steve so much he doesn’t care that they’re in a car, that they could crash, he just needs Steve, he needs him so much -

Buck gives a wet, hitching moan, still way down deep, and that’s all she wrote. Steve’s pretty sure they break one fifty when he comes.

Bucky swallows one last time, lingering, before he lets Steve’s cock slip out of his mouth and eases back up, getting Steve’s dick more or less back in his pants with a couple of deft hand movements. “I think I sort of hate that you can’t pull my hair when I do that,” he says thoughtfully, casually, wiping at his mouth. “Four out of five stars. A definite drawback of the method - ”

Steve pulls them over in a spray of gravel, practically turning the car sideways in his haste to park. He’s out of the car the second he feels the parking brake engage, he’s in a hurry, he wants this now. He vaults over the roof of the car to get to Bucky’s door and pulls him out by the shirt, by the hair, by the waist and lifts him up to sit all his weight on Steve’s hipbones.

Bucky’s already giggling as he wraps around Steve, arms around his neck, ankles hooking in the small of his back. “Hey there officer,” he gets out, in between bouts of snickering, “Why’d you pull me over? Is it something I did? Is there something I can help you with this fine evening?”

“Yeah,” Steve says, hitching Bucky a little higher, making him feel exactly where Steve’s got his grip; when Bucky gasps and tightens his whole body it makes Steve go quieter, softer. “Think I can get you hard on this fine evening?”

Bucky ducks his head down so his cheek is rubbing over Steve’s hair. “Maybe,” he says, also quieter. “Let’s see how it goes,” he adds, giving a little grind against Steve’s abs. “And if it doesn’t happen I still think you should throw me around the car some.”

“Oh, you’re here for the car, I see how it is,” Steve murmurs into his cheek, making sure Bucky can feel his smile on his skin. “I shoulda known. A guy like you, you’re all about the horsepower, huh.”

“Maybe - uh - maybe you can convince me there’s a better ride in town,” Bucky manages, wriggling around in Steve’s grip. “But you gotta - work hard, I’m classy, I recognize quality.”

Steve grins as he lowers Bucky to the roof of the car, more or less directly over the passenger seat. “Oh yeah? How’d a guy like you end up in a place like this, then?”

“On the side of a road with a millionaire, sitting on a seventy thousand dollar car?” Bucky says dryly. “Clearly I make a lot of terrible decisions.”

Steve kisses him under the ear, at the soft place where Bucky’s jaw turns into his throat; it also conveniently lets him hide his reddening face and his wince. Seventy thousand dollars. Christ. At least he can usually make millionaire a nonsense word that doesn’t mean anything and conveniently belongs to Captain America, leaving him with just the comfortingly vague understanding that he can afford more or less whatever he wants to buy.

Thank god he’ll be fucking Bucky hard enough in a second to forget all about it. “Well when you put it like that.”

“Then again, we did pay a little less,” Bucky says musingly, scritching his nails over the back of Steve’s neck.

“Yeah,” Steve agrees, raising his head to kiss Bucky’s chin. “You did good.”

That makes Bucky shift, a slow, controlled ripple of muscle moving up from his thighs to his hips to his shoulders and arms. “Yeah?”

“You did good,” Steve repeats, leaning in to kiss Bucky’s mouth, his cheek, the corner of his eye. “You did great. Thank you.”

Bucky swallows, his throat bobbing under Steve. “You were talking about getting me hard?”

Steve grins and moves his grip higher on Bucky’s neck until it’s at the base of his skull, part cushioning his head, part holding him down. “Is that what you want me to do?” he asks. “Talk?”

“Yes,” Bucky says immediately, tightening his arms and legs around Steve. “I want that. Give me your best rousing speech,” he adds, clearly not able to help it, his mouth twitching wildly.

Steve bites him for that, high up on his right pec, feeling Bucky’s chest shake with laughter through his teeth. “Just for that you don’t get any.”

“So you’re not gonna fuck me?”

“Nope.” Steve doesn’t like to fuck without lube, but there’s plenty of things they can do without, even if Bucky always tries to talk him into fucking him with just spit, like they’re fucking animals or something. “I’m going to do whatever I want to you,” Steve says, forestalling Bucky’s arguments, and he’s pretty goddamn satisfied with the way it wipes the half-sour look right off Bucky’s face.

“That’s.” Bucky has to lick his lips and swallow; he has to try again when Steve starts stripping Bucky’s jeans off, slow, deliberate. “And that’s, uh. What’s that?”

“I guess you’ll have to wait and see,” Steve says calmly, now working one of Bucky’s boots off so he can drag his briefs and jeans down to his calves and off one leg entirely, letting him step between Bucky’s legs and hitch them around his waist. Bucky’s breath catches when his bare thighs wrap around the rough denim of Steve’s jeans.

“You won’t tell me?” Bucky tries. “Gimme a little hint?”

“How about this,” Steve says, leaning down until he’s braced over Bucky, his elbows around his head. “I’ll tell you what I want to do. You want to hear that?”

“Jesus, yes.”

“Well. When you ask so nice.” Steve starts working his hips against Bucky’s slowly, slowly, a long thorough drag back and forth that makes Bucky squirm against Steve’s weight. “I want to fuck you,” he says, low, deliberate, scraping his teeth up Bucky’s ear, letting his teeth click a little against Bucky’s pretty gold earrings. “It’s not like I don’t. But I’m not going to half-ass it, sweetheart. You know what I’m like.”

“Steve,” Bucky says, not the start of a sentence, just his name, full stop. Steve breathes in deep and speeds up a little, shifting his grip to a handful of Bucky’s hair and his shirt; Bucky clutches harder at his neck, his shoulders. “You know I take my time with you,” Steve says, low and rough against Bucky’s face. He changes his grip again, winding his hand tighter in Buck’s hair and bringing the other to the small of his back, pressing them even closer together. “You know I’ll do it right. I’d fuck you on my hand, on my tongue, you get to have it all. And you know, if we had all we need, I’d do it, sweetheart, I’d do you right here on the side of the road - ”

“Ah - you - yes - ”

“I want to fuck you right here on this car,” Steve hisses in Buck’s ear, letting his mouth run, letting the heat of Bucky’s body unspool him entirely. “Right here by the road where anyone can see how you spread your legs for me. How good you are for me. I’d fuck you so slow - yeah, you know, look at you. You know I’ll do it just how you like.”

“Steve,” Bucky gasps, his fingers leaving stinging trails down Steve’s back.

“But I won’t,” Steve say, low, feeling the fire burn low in his chest. “They don’t get to see. This isn’t for them. This is just for us. You aren’t for everyone, sweetheart, you’re just for me.”

“Steve,” Bucky manages, almost a whine, and Steve decides Bucky’s got enough erection for him to duck down, get Bucky’s legs over his shoulders and his dick into Steve’s mouth.

Bucky kicks when Steve swallows him all the way down, just an aborted little jerk that bounces his calves against Steve’s back and sends his hands down to cradle Steve’s head. Bucky’s not pushy during blowjobs either, preferring to cradle and pet Steve’s head like he’s got some kind of horribly depraved kitten in his lap. It never fails to make Steve feel - raw inside, a little skinned, a lot tender, and he brings one hand up to rub over Bucky’s belly, the other gripping him close and tight by the hip.

Then he slides his hand down to press a thumb against Bucky’s hole. Just because he won’t fuck without lube doesn’t mean he won’t tease, and it draws a fantastic shuddering noise out of Bucky, a long low sound that’s almost a sob. He starts hitching his hips, trying to get Steve’s thumb deeper, closer, but Steve just doubles down on his dick and keeps rubbing light, gentle circles over his hole until Bucky starts yanking on his hair, trying to get him back up there.

Steve lets Bucky’s legs slip down from his shoulders and rehitches them around his waist, dragging Bucky in closer to look at him, look at his mess. Bucky’s hair is wild around his face, his mouth and cheeks and ears all flushed red, looking up at Steve with wide, bright eyes; Steve could stare down at him forever, but Bucky reaches for him, wanting, so he ducks back down and kisses him, biting a path down his neck. “Bucky,” he manages, high on the taste of skin and his rapid breaths; he slots their hips together, cock to cock, and starts a slow, punishing grind. “Bucky. You’re so - you’re - everything. You’re everything, Bucky, sweetheart, so good for me - ”  

“Tell me,” Bucky gasps. “Steve - tell me - ”

“You’re just for me,” Steve says, “Just mine, just for me, only me -”

Bucky comes first, with a high noise in his throat and a few irregular thrusts against Steve’s abs. Steve follows soon after, growling low and leaving bitemarks in Bucky’s trapezius. They keep going for a few seconds, their grinding slowing and stuttering to a halt, and then they just lay there for a while, Steve heavy over Bucky’s chest. He can feel Bucky’s heartbeat, gradually slowing down under his ribs; he can hear the droning chirp of cicadas in the trees around them. He closes his eyes.

“There’s jizz all over the car,” Bucky says dreamily, after who knows how long, still sounding pretty post-orgasmic. “Our new car.”

“Oh no,” Steve mumbles. It’s possible his mouth is gonna stay permanently smushed like this against Bucky’s neck. “We’ll have to burn it.”

Bucky starts shivering, then shaking, then sort of jerking both of their bodies all over with his laughter. “Steve,” he cackles, “You romantic. You fuck me on the side of the road with no rubber and then you propose arson, oh Steve, I’m swooning, this pillow talk - ”

“Shut the fuck up!” Steve gasps, cracking up even though it’s mostly only because Bucky is. “Why is that funny? It’s not that funny! Why are you laughing!”

“Jesus Christ. Only you would complain at somebody finding your dumb joke too funny,” Bucky says, laughing. “My god. Steve. Only you.”

“Yeah, you better not forget it,” Steve mutters, kissing Buck’s ear again. “Only me.”

“You freak,” Bucky says lovingly. “Pick me back up. Put me in the car. Stop on the way home and get us Starbucks.” He bounces one heel on Steve’s ass; his jeans flap a little where they’re still hanging off one leg. “Hey, did you know they have drive-through Starbuckses? They have that. That’s wild.”

“What, in Manhattan?” Steve says distractedly, gathering Bucky up while trying to make sure he doesn’t accidentally step on Bucky’s discarded boot, trip, slide down and send both of them careening down into this highway drainage ditch. That’ll be an extra fun way to end the evening, especially with their pants off. “In New York?”

“No, just - in general. In America. Where people drive, I don’t know.” Bucky wriggles a little in Steve’s grip, one hand leaving Steve’s shoulder to try and reach his jeans. “But they definitely exist. I read it on their website. Hey, don’t forget my - ”

“That’s not happening,” Steve tells Bucky’s straining arm, bending slightly to the side to open the passenger door without dropping Bucky. “No, here, I got it - just let me - ”

“Just put me - wait, no, we’ll get jizz on the - not on the seat - ”

“No, here, okay,” Steve says, then sort of juggles Bucky for a second, making him tense up and squeak, but after two seconds of maneuvering he’s got Bucky more or less hanging a foot off the ground, held up by his ribs like a toddler.

“Anyway, I’ll believe anything of Starbucks, you don’t have to convince me,” Steve continues, satisfied, ignoring Bucky’s incredulous glare. “Here, this way you can pull your pants up.”

“I’m leaving you to run away with Craig the dealer man,” Bucky says mutinously, struggling his jeans up his thighs. “He wouldn’t indignify me like this.”

“He was very afraid of you,” Steve agrees peaceably, bending down again to properly deposit Bucky in the seat this time; Bucky wrinkles his nose and curls his legs up so his bare foot won’t touch the dirt. “Don’t forget my - ”

Steve rolls his eyes. “I’ll get your boot in a second, it’s right over there.”

“And my sock!”

“And your sock.”

“Steve Rogers, king of afterglow,” Bucky mutters, sticking his bare foot out and wiggling it until Steve grabs it. “Real gentleman, aren’tcha.”

“Is that any way to talk to the guy who’s putting your sock on?” Steve demands, making sure it’s all the way up past Bucky’s ankle.

“I’ll talk to you however I want,” Bucky says. “You yanked it off in the first place, you’re responsible. Gimme my boot.”   

“Now who’s the romantic,” Steve mutters, bending down to hand over the boot.

“I don’t need to be romantic, I have you wrapped around my finger,” Bucky says, his tone now determinedly light and playful, his gaze firmly on his boot. “You bought me a car.”

Steve stops, bends back down and leans in through the passenger door, taking Bucky’s face in both hands and kissing his mouth, long enough that Bucky stops groping around his own foot and lets one hand alight on Steve’s forearm instead. “I did,” Steve murmurs, gently touching his forehead to Bucky’s. “Thank you for letting me.”

Bucky’s hand tightens on Steve’s forearm. Steve closes his eyes and gets to just listen to Bucky breathe against his face for a while.

“Your fucking sincerity,” Bucky says finally. “Terrible. Just - terrible.”

“I know,” Steve says. “It’s my worst feature. C’mon. Let’s go home. We’ll stop at Starbucks.”

“What if I want to hold out for a drive-through?”

“We’ll get you a drive-through.”

“What if the nearest one’s in Arizona?”

Steve grins against Bucky’s cheek and then pulls away, smacking an obnoxious kiss to Bucky’s forehead as he goes. “Then I guess our night just got a whole lot more interesting. How far can we get in this thing ‘til we run out of gas?”

“Jesus Christ,” Bucky mutters, shoving Steve out of the passenger side door. “There is no gas, it’s electric, that’s the whole point.”

“Aw, guy,” Steve says happily, rounding the car’s nose, trailing his hand over the hood. “You know I don’t know nothin’ about cars.”