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It’s—

The thing is, it didn’t use to be like this. Not exactly. He was never one to shy away from pain; always ready to take on the whole fucking world, Bucky used to say about him, with a small, fond smile like it was something to be proud of. But as far as Steve remembers, all those back alley fist fights didn’t use to come with this, this feeling. This aching, shameful need deep down inside him.

As far as he remembers, it wasn’t until after the serum that it became a thing. Dropping to his knees in seedy bathrooms to go down on girls from the USO tour, focusing on the feeling of bruises forming and fading on the skin of his new and improved body. Letting enemy combatants get in a few punches so he could bite down on his split lip and jerk off with the taste of blood on his tongue later that night. Goading Bucky into punching him harder, fucking him harder, harder, harder.

 


 

He hates what they did to Bucky, fucking hates them for it—finds himself clenching his fists and wishing he could go back in time to kill them all with his own bare hands whenever that vacant look crosses Bucky’s face.

He hates them for what they did, but when he jerks off he gets these flashes of himself strapped to that table, naked. Faceless people surrounding him, talking about him in a harsh language he doesn’t understand. They hold his new body down with cold hands, improbably strong hands. They make his new body gasp and moan.

The thoughts only come to him when he’s jerking off; never when he’s having sex with Bucky. Never. Still, he’s deeply ashamed of them. He doesn’t want to think about them—about what they might mean, what they might say about him—too much, so he doesn’t. He pushes the thoughts away. Pushes them deep, deep down inside himself.

 


 

He wakes up in a recovery room in an overwhelming twenty-first century version of New York City. The people at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ ask him to stay there for a while. Let them run some tests. They don’t specify how long a while is.

Steve stays, because he doesn’t have anywhere else to go. He lets them run their tests. They’re very grateful, and very respectful. They talk to him in soft voices and handle him with gentle touches like he’s an animal they’re careful not to spook. They measure the muscular endurance and strength of his body. They inject his body with substances and then keep him in the medical wing overnight for observation. They explain everything to him; every electrode, every catheter, every monitor and beeping machine. They explain their every move to him in overwhelming detail.

The room he’s been assigned is small and bare. The mattress on his bed is very soft. It makes falling asleep very hard.

When Steve masturbates himself to sleep, he thinks about soft-spoken doctors with gentle hands.

“We’re just running some tests,” one of them says. He’s holding a clipboard and a pen.

“Please try to hold still,” another doctor says as she sinks down on him, tight wet heat enveloping him.

Steve moans, his hips arching up off the bed.

“It’s very important that you hold still,” the first doctor says solemnly. “Any movement may skew the results.” He writes something down and then glances up at the large mirror opposite the bed, and in the fantasy Steve both does and doesn’t know it’s a one-way mirror through which they’re being watched. An unspecified number of people are watching this woman ride him, and watching this man watch this woman ride him. Watching him try desperately to obey the order to hold still so as to not skew the results of a test he both does and doesn’t think is an actual test.

In another fantasy, they assess his stamina and refractory period. “Just one more,” they keep telling him as he twitches and shudders and gasps for breath. Just one more, but he has already come for them, has already come for them so many times he’s lost count, and they keep wanting more, more, just one more time, Steve, you can do this, we know you can. His legs gave out forever ago, but they have him bent over some kind of frame that’s holding him up, holding him open; providing them with easier access to all the most sensitive parts of his body.

Someone is stroking his hair. Dabbing at his brow with a cool, wet cloth, and talking to him in a soothing whisper. He’s drenched in sweat and covered with come, tremors racking his body. If they were to touch his dick right now he would probably cry but they’re not, they’re not touching his dick; they’re rubbing his nipples and trailing gloved fingertips over his too-hot skin and fucking him with their toys and he may already be crying, may already have been crying for hours, overstimulated and spent—but they still want more, more, and all he wants is to give them what they want.

In another fantasy, he’s in the medical wing, being kept overnight for observation. A nurse quietly enters the room. Steve is lying on his stomach, naked, with the covers kicked to the foot of the bed. He’s half asleep, not far enough gone to be unaware of what’s happening but far enough gone to be blissfully incapable of reacting to it.

The nurse kneels on the bed, between Steve’s spread legs. The mattress dips under the weight. Warm hands land on the backs of Steve’s thighs, and he shivers at the sudden contact but doesn’t wake up. He moans, softly, or just exhales through his nose and nuzzles the side of his face deeper into his pillow. His body feels heavy and lax.

He must’ve moaned or exhaled louder than he thought he did, because the nurse says, “Ssh,” and “It’s all right,” and “Go back to sleep.” One of his hands is resting at the nape of Steve’s neck now, squeezing reassuringly. His other hand slides up the back of Steve’s thigh, over the curve of his ass.

Steve’s body feels heavy and lax, and the nurse told him it was all right, told him to go back to sleep, so he doesn’t try to move. He keeps his eyes closed as the nurse leisurely explores his body with feather-light touches. His breath catches in his throat when he feels a finger slip into his crack, and the nurse gently shushes him again, carding the fingers of his other hand through Steve’s hair until he settles back down.

A cold, slicked-up fingertip rubs over his hole, making his body twitch. He’s hard, his dick leaking precome where it’s trapped between his stomach and the bed. In many of the fantasies Steve is miraculously wet and ready to be taken, but that’s one of the details that makes this fantasy so compelling—the fact that the nurse has prepared himself for his transgression by bringing lube and condoms and by making sure to lock the door on his way in. The fact that he planned this.

The nurse takes his time fingering Steve open, so very careful not to wake him up. He pauses and slows down his pace even more whenever Steve involuntarily shifts or makes a noise. It’s difficult, keeping still and quiet. It becomes even more difficult when the nurse briefly stops touching Steve to roll on a condom. Steve can’t see anything, can’t feel anything, can only hear the sounds. It’s excruciating. When the nurse leans in again, the tip of his cock nudging between Steve’s ass cheeks, Steve jerks and lets out a gasp.

“Ssh, it’s all right,” the nurse whispers, “you’re all right,” and he’s so close his lips are brushing against the hair at the back of Steve’s neck. He punctuates his words with a kiss, supporting his weight with his hands on either side of Steve’s pillow.

Bucky used to do this, Steve realizes with a start. Bucky used to love doing this, splaying Steve out in front of him and leaving a trail of kisses from Steve’s neck all the way down to the small of his back. Bucky loved doing this even back when Steve’s body was so frail the knobs of his spine were visible against his pallid skin. Even then.

“Don’t wake up,” Bucky murmurs, pushing into Steve agonizingly slowly. His breath is hot against the shell of Steve’s ear. “It’s just a dream.”

Steve stifles a moan in his pillow.

“It’s all right,” Bucky murmurs. He’s fully buried inside Steve now, grinding into him with minute movements. The underside of Steve’s dick rubs against the mattress. He’s so turned on he feels feverish with it, sweat breaking out on his forehead, and it’s—

“It’s just a dream,” the nurse whispers as Steve comes, gasping.

 


 

The twenty-first century has gods, and aliens, and monsters, and superheroes.

Steve tries not to wonder which of those categories he might belong to.

 


 

After the Battle of New York, he sometimes finds his thoughts drifting to people like Tony Stark, and Bruce Banner, and Thor. Stark is an asshole and somewhat of an enigma, arrogant and self-absorbed until he’s not. Banner keeps mostly to himself, the threat of the Hulk always simmering under the mildness of his manner. Thor is a commanding presence, strong and proud.

Of the three of them, Thor would be most able to give Steve what he wants. He’s the only one who’d be able to overpower Steve without having to hulk out or put on an iron suit first. He’d be able to hold Steve down while fucking him, and continue to hold him down no matter how hard Steve struggled against his grip.

Able, yes, but perhaps not willing. The same goes for Banner. Stark could design something, though. A machine, more complex and versatile than the frame used by the doctors in one of the medical fantasies. Something to hold Steve in place, with super soldier-proof cuffs that lock around his wrists and ankles. Something that would keep him loose and lubricated; some sort of contraption with a dildo attached, to keep him occupied when he’s not in use.

Maybe Stark would want to keep Steve all to himself, but it’s just as likely that he would let his staff have at it. That’s the version Steve prefers to imagine—an endless succession of warm mouths and tight holes and hard dicks visiting him. He imagines anonymous men and women in suits leaving a nondescript conference room to go fuck him as casually as one would excuse oneself to go to the bathroom.

If they were to set up the machine in the same nondescript room, the anonymous men and women wouldn’t even have to leave it. They could just keep him on display and fuck him right there, in full view of everyone.

It’s a good fantasy. Completely unrealistic, of course, and a little over the top, but it gets him off every time.

 


 

The internet says they’re perfectly normal, these kinds of thoughts.

The internet says there’s nothing wrong with him.

The internet says a lot of things.

 


 

Not long after he meets Sam, the members of the STRIKE team attack Steve in an elevator at the Triskelion. Four, five of them holding him back, pinning him to the wall, an arm tight around his neck cutting off his air supply. This ain’t personal, Rumlow says in a low voice, electricity crackling, and Steve’s skin breaks out in goose bumps because it is. It is personal. His throat hurts and his lungs are burning in his chest and it couldn’t be more fucking personal.

They manage to get some sort of magnetic cuff around his wrist. When it refuses to budge, he panics. Twists and claws his way out like a cornered animal. A wounded animal.

He jumps. He falls.

He runs.

In Sam’s guest room, while Natasha is in the bathroom, Steve lies back on the bed and finally, finally gets to close his eyes for a second.

His whole body hurts.

He jerks off in the shower and doesn’t try to stop the cascade of thoughts. Is too tired to try. He just—he just wants to—he knows this is wrong, no matter what the internet says, this is wrong, but he needs—

An arm tight around his neck, his wrists pinned above his head. Fuckin’ show you, one of them says, not finishing the sentence because he doesn’t have to. Everybody knows. Hands on his face, prying his mouth open. Steel-capped boots roughly kicking his feet apart. A vice-like grip on his hips. The sound of laughter, of Velcro ripping apart. Zippers being pulled down, skin slapping wetly against skin. Heavy breathing.

In the fantasy it only hurts a little, and only in the good way, and they joke about that; about how loose he is, about how he’s fuckin’ dying for it, trying desperately to meet their thrusts and whining like a bitch in heat. They joke about how badly he wants it, and he does, he does. He does.

 


 

It’s just a fantasy, he tells himself. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

He stumbles upon an article on the internet that talks about “the illusion of danger” and “fantasies of consensual ravishment or agreed-to aggression” and “willing, or empowered, submission or surrender”. The article says things like it’s the wish to be beyond will, beyond thought. It claims that ultimately, choosing to forfeit control may not be to lose it … but to powerfully assert it.

Steve doesn’t know what to think about the article. He bookmarks it just in case.

 


 

Later, the members of the STRIKE team surround him and force him to his knees and hold him at gunpoint. Not here, Rumlow snarls at the others, and what if they took him. What if they took him to some dark, deserted place and held him captive there for hours, days, fuck, maybe even weeks. Chained him up or hogtied him or kept him on his knees with his hands cuffed behind his back, blindfolded and gagged and plugged up between rounds. What if they passed him around without taking off the blindfold and made him guess who was fucking him. What if they worked him open with one of their stun batons, threatening to turn it on inside him if he didn’t obey their orders quickly enough or eagerly enough.

Their orders are varied and inventive, sometimes downright cruel. He obeys all of them quickly enough and eagerly enough. He guesses when they tell him to guess. He moans when they tell him to moan and he doesn’t make a sound when they tell him not to make a sound. He opens his mouth when they tell him to open his mouth and he doesn’t bite when they tell him not to bite and he spreads his legs more when they tell him to spread his legs more. He grovels at their feet when they tell him to grovel at their feet, and he humps their legs until he comes when they tell him to hump their legs until he comes, and he sucks their dicks or gloves clean when they tell him to suck their dicks or gloves clean. He’s quick, and eager, and obedient, and they make fun of him for it in this fantasy, too.

They work him open and fuck him and pass him around until, eventually, it’s all he knows. It’s all he is, a set of holes with only one obscene purpose. They fill him up over and over again until his mind and his body finally meld together, collapse into a single entity. The body feeling so much there’s no room left for his mind’s thoughts.

They use him and use him until he—paradoxically—feels whole again for the first time in a very long time, and in the fantasy they jeer at him when he cries but in the privacy of his own mind he knows he’s crying more with gratitude than anything else.

 


 

In the hospital, Sam kisses him.

At first Steve thinks it’s a dream. A dream, courtesy of the fever, courtesy of blood loss and exhaustion and splintered bones and a broken heart, courtesy of. Courtesy of the Winter Soldier.

Everything hurts.

Maybe it was a dream, that first time, but then it happens again. A light kiss, their lips brushing together, barely touching. Maybe, Steve thinks, maybe it’s not so much a kiss as it is an offer; a promise.

Sam holds Steve’s hand. Or maybe Steve holds Sam’s hand. They hold hands. Sam tells Steve about Riley and Steve tells Sam about Bucky. His throat hurts (everything hurts). Sam ends up doing most of the talking. He smells good and looks very tired. His palm is warm and dry against Steve’s. He keeps running his thumb over Steve’s knuckles, back and forth and back again. It’s comforting, almost unbearably so, but Steve doesn’t want to ask him to stop.

The nurses are kind and professional. They don’t stare at Steve and they don’t ask him any questions besides “how are we feeling today”. When Sam falls asleep in the chair by Steve’s bedside, they wrap a blanket around his shoulders. They smile conspiratorially at Steve and leave the room without mentioning visiting hours.

“I’m pretty sure the nurses think we’re in a relationship,” Steve tells Sam when Sam stirs awake again, and Sam says, voice groggy, “What, you’re not even gonna buy me dinner first?”

 


 

The day Steve gets discharged, he takes Sam out to dinner. Most of Sam’s cuts and scratches have scabbed over, and his bruises are beginning to fade. He doesn’t look as tired anymore.

They make out in front of the restaurant afterward, Sam tasting of coffee and crème brûlée. Steve spends the night at Sam’s house. The next morning, Sam’s skin is warm and smooth under his touch. Their kisses are lazy, sleepy. One of Sam’s hands is curled around the back of Steve’s neck, thumb rubbing up and down, and Steve shudders at the feeling because he can hardly remember the last time anyone touched him like this in either fantasy or reality.