People think they know all about the world. Always have thought that way. Taking rumours, stories, legends, and myths to be truths. To be all they need to know. Forgetting that - while some of these stories might be based on truths - it's always people telling them. And those are rarely the same people as those that experienced it.
People tell their own versions of stories, the version they believe to be true. After all; who would know how the story unfolded, that wasn't there to witness it. What person that was not involved could ever recount all the parts and happenings of a story.
One of these stories - told again and again - has become so warped that it should be put right once and for all.
Told by only those who were directly involved, those two who it affected most.
* * *
Glowing sunlight, a sparkling pond, and a sea of gorgeous, colourful flowers in bloom. Their feet dangling off the shore in the shallow water, creating little waves, sat a small godly gathering. Looking around himself Steve wondered - as he often did - whether he was surrounded by friends or if they maybe, just maybe, were actually more his bodyguards. Being surrounded by two archers and a wisecracking battle strategist at most times could do that to a guy. Not that he saw why. As far as Steve was concerned the only evil that was in the world was among the humans that praised them and it would never touch his reality.
Those thoughts fell apart at the seams when Clint started singing - he had hummed a soft tune for a while now, as he always does. His voice affected everyone, though in different ways. While his humming fell in with the sounds of nature and didn’t do much, his full voice demanded attention in a way that could not be denied even by the strongest of minds.
As Steve glanced over at the girls, he saw Peggy melt and relax a little from her continuous attention to their surroundings, while Kate just rolled her eyes - being Clint’s twin sister might have immunised her to the effects of his golden, syrupy voice.
Steve just laid back, let the relaxation and warmth wash over him, and enjoyed the soft tickling on his exposed arms and legs, where all the grass blades around him tried to get closer and closer to him, and felt his mind go blank for a while.
* * *
There were two things Bucky - after all these years - still didn’t quite understand:
- Why he, the youngest, got settled with guarding the underworld and living with the dead.
- Why people (humans and gods alike) assumed to know him and his character based on his job.
After all it was exactly that. A job. A task that had to be taken care of.
Especially the gods should know better. Phil didn’t only speak of waters and hippocampi, Tony didn’t only speak of his inventions - okay that’s a lie he totally does - but still. They all knew him, they were family, why did they start shunning him as if he were a monster that would destroy everything they loved.
Not Natasha though, she understood what it was like, as did Sam. All of them living and working in the deep shadows, viewed by humans as bad omen their brothers and sisters not helping against but perpetuating rumours and notions amongst themselves and the humans. They had forgotten that they were family, had forgotten that Bucky had a soft heart.
He regularly pondered these things whenever he strolled along the overworld. Enjoying the sun and the view, while lost in his own mind, wondering why he had been marked the traitor when it was his family who had left him. He hadn't really talked to any of his family - other than Nat or Sam - they didn't want him even near any of them unless they very much had to. And they hadn't had to be near him for the past few centuries. No one expected him to wander around these parts. Since they never saw him they probably assumed he stayed in the Underworld all the time - ignoring how goddamn depressing that would be. Living in those sepia-toned caves - then again everything was sepia. Since he was sent away from his family, Bucky had lost all the colours. Not that that stopped him from appreciating the Overworld.
Natasha was droning on about something or other - probably one of those heroes that started sprouting seemingly from the ground lately. Bucky had zoned out a bit ago, - not that Nat really cared all that much to be honest, she just wanted to vent - he was just glad that he was still walking and hadn't tripped so far. Would be rather typical for his clumsy ass. Staring blankly ahead he was bound to catch sight of something interesting at some point or another of their walk.
Which is what happened just as they rounded a cliff and left the beach for an open field. He stopped walking and Natasha smacked right into his back. Before she could even yell at him for just stopping he already held up a hand to shush her.
Before his eyes lay the most gorgeous being he'd ever seen - well there were more than just one person but the others just faded into the background. The subject of his fascination being surrounded by a bright, warm glow, laying on their back, possibly dozing in the warm, sunshine-filled air. Light cornflowers were woven into their hair - soft-looking as a field of grain in the summer breeze, the shade matched that too. He couldn’t look away for the life of him. Without thinking he took a step forward. And then another. His feet kept carrying him forward until Natasha’s hand pulled him back by his wrist. Bucky looked up then and realised he was already in hearing distance of the group. Being pulled from his reverie like that he spins around to look at Natasha again. The soft humming from the group in his ear.
“We need to leave. Now,” Natasha basically spit through her teeth. She had already started to pull him back in the direction they came from. She'd gotten him to follow for a few steps before he snapped back to full brain use.
“Wait,” he was being too loud, “why do we have to leave? I wanna see them!”
“There's nothing but trouble that way. We shouldn't get involved there.”
That statement freaked him out. There were just four kids lying around a pond, what could be so dangerous about that?
“If you don't tell me what the deal is, I'm not coming with you.” He stood stock still and straight, not giving her any way to distract him from the topic on hand.
“Bucky. For once in your life just do as you're told. I can't explain now. We can be very glad if they didn't see us. They could still hear us here. And in no way can that happen. Let's go!” The hushedness of her voice did in no way weaken the seriousness and force it carried.
“No.” Bucky pulled his arm to himself and took a step back from Natasha. Shadows starting to whirl around him, embracing him.
“Bucky, don’t you dare,” Natasha warned, her eyes shining black. But he was already gone. The shadows having swallowed him, hiding him. Allowing him to pass wherever he wanted to without being seen. Although he was far from being invisible the shadows caused people not to spare a second glance in his direction. And as close as she stood to him, even Natasha couldn’t see him anymore. She just hoped he was still there.
“Bucky, I see that I apparently can't get you to do as I say, I sure do hope that you are sane enough as to not do anything stupid, though. Either way I’m not gonna stay, so good luck with whatever you think you're doing.” With that she left. Bucky standing alone, enveloped in shadow, still wondering what she was so angry and worried about.
Bucky tried to shake Nat’s weirdness off and started walking back onto the meadow, staying by the cliff, not leaving the pre-existent shadows. Just to make sure. No matter how reckless he might be Natasha’s warning still sat chillingly in his bones. He had no intention of being seen. He just wanted to witness, to bask in the glow surrounding the small group. It looked so peaceful - and wouldn’t that be a comforting change.
The humming he started hearing the closer he got, was also interspersed with lyrics, soft spoken words, telling a story of - his brother. He took a step back. He only now realised that these four kids laying around the pond were not simple kids. They were like him - well mostly. They were his brother’s children. He started to see what Natasha meant. Who knows what kind of stories his siblings had been telling about him, what kind of nightmarish warnings they had given about him.
And yet, he couldn't quite get himself to turn away. The music and warmth the group seemed to emit, too enticing. Even if he couldn’t be part of it, he definitely wanted to stay and experience the calm these youths seemed to live. So Bucky settled down. Under a tree a couple meters away from the group, but not out of earshot, hidden in his shadows, letting the warm sun, and smooth sounds wash over him, never taking his eyes off of that gorgeous blonde.
* * *
Steve woke with the tingling feeling of being watched all over his body. Since he was technically being watched all the time, it wasn't a surprise. One would think that under constant watch one doesn't feel it anymore but that’s not true. It never goes away. He just mostly ignores it. This time it felt different, though. Especially after he opened his eyes just a fraction and took note of the fact that none of the others were actively looking at him. He got chills all over; he knew one thing for certain: his body didn’t fool him like that. There must have been someone, somewhere staring at him.
Steve tried not to be recognised as being awake, he didn't want to face weird questions. But he turned on his side as if still asleep. Trying to glimpse more of their surroundings. Searching for whoever was staring at him. He sneaked his hand on the ground, asking the grasses for help, asking if they knew something he wasn't aware of. They probably did; they knew everything.
Being telepathically connected to most part of the flora had quite some perks, except that they were completely unable to give a straightforward answer.
Steve had no idea what they meant when they said ‘the shadows are sure looking weird’. What shadows? Where?
With a huff he pulled his hand from the longer grasses and sat up straight, finally admitting to being awake. Clint’s song stopped for a moment at Steve’s huff, but he picked it back up again quickly. Peggy turned to Steve, pushing his fringe out of his face. Resting her hand on his cheek for a moment.
“Had a nice nap there, flower boy?”
“Kate,” Peggy sighed. She didn’t enjoy silly nicknames as much as the twins did. Steve didn’t mind them so long as they weren’t hurtful.
“Did, actually. Thanks for the help Clint. Appreciate it.” Steve yawned widely and stretched luxuriously.
“Sure thing, Buttercup.” Clint’s grin could only be described as phony; but that’s just what he’s like: phony, easily distracted, but in general a great friend.
Steve couldn’t remember a time when he hadn’t been surrounded by his three best friends - while that sure was nice, lately it had started to feel more suffocating than calming. He didn’t dare to outright look at the place he suspected their watcher to be but sneaked glances again and again throughout their conversation, considering himself rather sneaky - he wasn’t.
“Steven, are you alright? You’re looking a bit spooked there.” Of course, Peggy would notice, Peggy noticed everything. Steve didn’t know how to explain, and he didn’t really want to either.
They rarely actually talked about anything. The group just met in the mornings, wandered some place nice, and settled down for the day. Each perusing their own thoughts, sometimes one of them left to tend to their godly duties - most often Peggy (stupid humans always fighting and warring about the stupidest things). Not that the twins never had to leave, just not for their favourite calling; the hunt.
Steve hadn’t been prayed to in a while - most humans turning to Sarah, barely knowing of him - but sometimes his mother asked him to help her out, when too many prayers came in at once or there was a bigger task on hand.
“Sure, I’m fine. It’s getting late though, let’s go home?” Steve hoped she’d let it drop and he could just go home to tend to the gardens on Olympus.
A small frown graced everyone’s face, Steve was never the first to suggest they go back, but no one was going to oppose him, he still looked slightly haunted and on edge. They all nodded slowly, started collecting their things, and got up. Even though Steve was the one to suggest they leave, he was the last one to get up.
After they’d walked a few steps, Steve stopped again, touching his neck.
“Oh, I think I dropped my necklace!” He’d already turned around to walk back and search the grass, when he added “You guys can go, the grass will help me find it, I’ll be fine,” and off he went. Clint and Kate looked at each other, shrugged, and started walking again. Peggy hung back a bit, waiting and having an eye on Steve. But after scanning their surroundings she too started on her way home, as she could already hear prayers for help starting to come in.
* * *
Bucky regretted his decision instantly. What was he thinking, using the shadows to steal the boy’s necklace - well not really stealing it. He fully intended to get it back to him in time. He was just so caught up in the intricate design of the band and the decor of the charm dangling slightly in his hand. The shade of it close to the boy’s hair colour, the gemstone set in the charm’s centre a magnificent colour that looked similar to the sky, maybe - then again defining specific shades wasn’t his specilty. He couldn’t quite tear his eyes from it - until it was too late.
He heard some ruffling and when he looked up the kids were leaving. Shit, this was totally not how this was supposed to go. He was in full panic mode, when he saw the tiny boy turn back around, a hand held to his neck - probably realising his necklace was gone and going back for it.
All Bucky could do for a moment was stare. His mind only came back to him after the boy had already reached the pond’s side, where they had sat just moments ago. Looking for the others that had been with him and finding they were actually leaving without the boy, Bucky started to move closer to him - still coated in the shadows. He kept looking at the retreating group, while the boy was kneeling on the ground, pushing his hands through the grass. Bucky looked over his shoulder one last time and let the shadows drop from around him.
“You lookin’ for something?” Bucky was being a dick, and he knew it. He was awful at talking to strangers. He was inherently weird, add that to the fact that he rarely talked to anyone at all - well you get the social mess that was Bucky.
The boy nearly fell on his butt when he spun around way too fast. His eyes bulged for a second, but then his face settled into something soft and serene. Bucky could for the first time see his eyes and was stumped. This was surely the most gorgeous little creature he’d ever seen.
“You apparently,” fell out the boys mouth in a calm and unexpectedly deep voice. Bucky’s spine straightened out a bit. Him? That couldn’t be right. Why would he boy be looking for him. Up until now he shouldn’t even have known Bucky had been here.
The blonde nodded at his hand. “That’s my necklace, but you probably know that.”
Although he looked as if though he wanted to, he didn’t try to take it out of Bucky’s hand, but just let his eyes wander between the necklace and Bucky’s face expectantly.
“Right, sorry. I saw it lying here,” - the boy gave a little, unconvinced ‘mmhmm’ sound at that - “and wanted to check whether I could find out who it belonged to.” Bucky tried to put on his most sincere face, but it just didn’t seem to cut it. He received a look that seemed to scream ‘Bitch, please’, which made him falter in his argument just a little bit. He didn’t believe a word Bucky said. Fuck.
“So, you gonna give it back?” Bucky was kinda impressed with the kid’s brashness. When he stretched his hand out to drop the necklace in the boy’s, he just received a raised eyebrow in reply. Bucky fiddled with it for a moment until he could open the clasp, then stepped behind him and draped the band around his neck, to close in the back.
He didn’t expect to be this close and was overwhelmed by the dense smell of flowers, so he didn’t step back immediately after closing the clasp again. He didn’t mean to say anything and yet his mouth worked on its own:
“I wouldn’t’ve kept it, promise.”
“So, how long have you been watching us?” his voice still calm the boy turned around slowly - not stepping away from Bucky. He had to tilt his head back a bit to be able to look into Bucky’s eyes, this close to him.
Bucky stood stock still, his mouth slightly agape, giving himself away immediately. How did he know? He couldn’t know, right?
“Uuuhhh… I… uhm... “ the boy was virtually staring him down. Bucky made himself look like the most inept fool, but he didn’t know how to react to that. No one was supposed to be able to see him, how did he give himself away?
“I could literally feel you stare at me. Well I assume it was you, as we only just left and you were here immediately.” How could this boy be so rational and calm, while Bucky was slowly coming apart at the seams. He could only keep staring at the boy. His face - with all its sharp edges and bone structures - and down his body, to his multiple and probably colourful tattoos of flowers and butterflies. Yet again Bucky was completely transfixed by this gorgeous boy and seemed to be incapable to function on any proper level.
“I’m Steve by the way.”
Bucky only reacted correctly in taking the offered hand in his because he’d been staring at it till just then.
“Bucky,” fell from his mouth belatedly. His eyes had wandered up to stare at Steve’s again where he was met with a mix of disbelief and worry etched into the younger man’s features.
“Bucky. As in brother of Nick and Phil, Lord of the Underworld? That Bucky?” his voice had gotten smaller the longer he talked, realising the truth of his words.
“That’d be me,” Bucky said ruefully. Slowly releasing Steve’s hand - as he’d been holding on to it until now and wasn’t sure how wanted that still was. He used that very same hand to brush some strands of his long hair out of his face.
Every second that Steve didn’t say anything he grew surer that the boy would soon give it his all and run as fast and far as he could away from Bucky.
He didn’t run, though. Not yet. Just kept staring at Bucky, from head to toe. Considering everything he saw. Bucky felt naked and vulnerable under his eyes, as if everything he’d ever done was written on his skin, for Steve to read and judge.
A glint came into the blonde’s eyes - as if he’d just made a life-altering decision - accompanied by a slight purse of those sweet pink lips. To say Bucky was worried about what that would mean, was an understatement. He was very glad that he’d taken his hand back to himself or Steve would know exactly how hard his heart was working. Making his blood rush through his body, numbing his ears as if he was standing amidst mountain-high waves.
“We’re probably gonna be here again tomorrow,” Steve gave him a wink and turned around. Stepping more than two feet away from Bucky for the first time since he’d come over.
Bucky took a deep breath and it felt as if though he hadn't breathed this entire time. He watched him go, Steve’s hips moving as if saying: ’don't you dare look anywhere else as I walk away from you.’ Bucky wouldn't and couldn't. He still stared long after Steve was out of sight.
* * *
As soon as he’d turned around Steve wanted to hit himself. Instead, he somehow managed to keep the confident façade up, even while walking away from Bucky. His hips swaying on their own accord, as if he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Well, maybe that was just it. As enticing as that tall, brunette, broody-looking man had been to Steve, he didn’t know him. It’s not like he could lose anything by being blunt and forward.
Although he did know of him. Sarah had made sure of that. As had Maria. And Nick. And Phil. And honestly basically everybody. No one on Mount Olympus did not know who Bucky was, that he was to be feared, could not be trusted, and was as dark as Hades itself. And as much as Steve wished he could tell himself that he didn’t just meet that Bucky, it was not that common a name.
On his way home Steve thought about how much this Bucky he had met did not fit the description he had been given all his life, and he was scared. Scared of how it would be like to see him again the next day. Scared of Bucky not coming, of having made a fool of himself. Scared of having put off that sweet and gentle man.
By the time he was home, Steve was having major trouble breathing. His worrying slowly but surely growing into a panic attack. He practically ran for his quarters - wheezing on the way there - and slumped on his bed as soon as he’d arrived. Prior plans of tending the gardens long forgotten.
Steve had no idea what was happening to him. He’d never worried about something like this. No, scratch that. He’d never worried. Period. There was nothing to worry about. He was a god. He had a safe place, living with his family. The most dangerous thing he was ever subjected to were rose thorns. He forced himself to calm down. Tried not to think of anything. Bucky’s face kept popping into his mind again and again, though. He tried mentally listing flower classifications, but was still regularly interrupted by grey eyes.
So he gave up. It was very unlike Steve, he didn’t quit - he just didn’t. And yet, here he was indulging his mind in replaying the strange meeting in slow motion and clearest detail. Over and over again. Until he finally fell asleep with a smile on his face and plush lips, and a dimpled chin on his mind.
* * *
The next morning Bucky was back at that pond. He didn’t know why. Well, no. He did know why he was there. What he didn’t know was why that boy had such a powerful pull over him. He didn’t just want to see him again. Bucky needed to - like the “he’d suffocate if he didn’t” kind of need. To say it worried him would be an understatement. He didn’t do people (Sam and Nat weren’t ‘people’ according to his definition). More specifically, he didn’t do Olympians. Or, hadn’t until just yesterday.
He sat in the same spot he’d been standing in the day before, staring at the glittering surface of the pond. Waiting for the group of youths to arrive. So maybe he was a bit eager, who could blame him. The boy was beautiful and had basically commanded Bucky to come watch him again today - as weird as that might sound.
It was only when he finally saw the group arriving, that he noticed something was very different from usual. How he hadn’t noticed until then, he didn’t know. But when he looked up Bucky realised the sky was blue. And not only the sky either. The pond was flickering in a similar shade at him. Everything else might still be shaded in a variety of sepia tones, but he had this one colour back. That was already more than he ever expected. His vision began to swim and he felt a small tear roll down his face, but wiped it away immediately. He wanted to know if there were other things he could really see now. Sadly there were not all that many blue things around.
But as Steve lay down near the pond - sun-bathing - he saw them. Little spots of definite blue amidst all of his tattoos.
He stared for so long and was so lost in his own mind, that he didn’t notice the time passing - the sun reaching its zenith and starting to sink again - until something brushed softly against his foot. When he looked down there was nothing there, except grass. There was another brush - this time with more pressure - and he looked down again. The grass was rippling in waves that shouldn’t be possible, and this time he actually saw the grass nudge him.
Slowly, he stretched his good hand down to the grass and let it settle just over it, the shadows surrounding him just skimming some stray grasses. But that was enough. A silent shock ran through him. Words echoing through his bones. And even though they weren’t formed in his voice - or rather no voice at all - he knew immediately that they came from Steve.
He wanted Bucky to stay. Wanted to talk. He would. But he didn’t know how to get that message to Steve. On a hunch he sank his hand deeper into the grass and thought as intensely as he could of staying to talk with Steve, not able to hide how much joy that would bring him.
All of a sudden the waves of grass flowed into a different direction, as though messengers ran through it toward Steve. Who - as Bucky noticed just then - had his own hands buried deep within the blades of grass. Bucky wanted to know how that grass communication thing really worked now, but as he stared on he wasn’t able to discern the moment when there would be any form of communication happening. Until Steve stared directly in his direction, with a grin on his face bright enough to rival the sun, and Bucky felt himself sag a bit in relief.
* * *
He’d said yes. Bucky had said yes to talking to him again. And for once in their lives the grasses had provided more information than usual - just a smidge. At least now he knew in which general direction Bucky was hanging around. So he threw a smile that way, hoping that Bucky would see it. He’d planned on waiting till the others wanted to walk back, but none of them seemed all that inclined to move any time soon, and Steve was growing restless.
So he slowly got up, brushed some stray grass off of himself, and turned to the group.
“I’m feeling in the mood for a walk.”
Peggy sat up and straightened immediately.
“Do you want me to come with you?”
“Nah, I’ll be fine,” Steve could feel all three pairs of eyes on him - and suddenly they didn’t feel all that welcome anymore - “I’ll stay in sight, promise.”
So he started walking. Seemingly without direction at first, not approaching Bucky’s general direction until the others had settled down again, and didn’t watch his every step anymore.
“Walk with me,” he whispered, when he passed the shadows he assumed Bucky in. A few steps later the temperature on his left side seemed to drop a few degrees.
“Can you actually speak when you’re like this, or is it impossible as it would completely defeat the purpose of not being seen?”
“I can speak just fine. Though I’d think you might feel weird, talking to the air as it is.”
“Not talking to the air, though. Talking to you.” When Steve turned, he deemed their distance just right. While he could still see his friends, there was no chance they’d be able to hear him.
“So… Any chance I can see you?” Steve had tried to sound nonchalant but found his voice to be more on the wanting side.
“Well, we have a couple of possibilities. It mainly depends on what you want your friends to see. I could take you into the shadows - they wouldn’t be able to see either of us then - or I could come out of the shadows - meaning they could see me too - or we leave it as it is and they see you sit by yourself.”
If Steve was being realistic he knew only the last option was feasible. But damned if the others didn’t sound appealing.
“This is probably best. I just.. I really wanted to see you, I guess.” Steve sounded like a desperate fool and he knew it. He just couldn’t help it.
“Hey, I really wanted to see you too. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.”
Steve felt his left hand be dipped in cold. When he looked at it all startled, he saw a bigger, paler hand cover his. Following up the arm it was attached to, he ended up gawking at the lips and eyes that had haunted his dream.
“Hi,” was all he could muster up. Rendered silent by being so close to such beauty.
“By Styx, your eyes are blue.” Bucky sounded as though he hadn’t noticed before, or even ever seen blue eyes. That statement startled a small laugh out of Steve, which in turn made Bucky smile even wider.
His smile grew sad then and he looked around, before shadows started to encase him again.
“I’m still here. They really shouldn’t see me, though.”
“I really don’t get it. You don’t seem all that bad,” Steve couldn’t look at the distorted air - where he now knew Bucky’s face was - anymore, so he instead looked at his feet. Until he heard the most beautiful sound. Bucky was laughing, hard. And Steve, he couldn’t keep the grin off his face.
“Steve, we’re gonna head back now!” Peggy called over the meadow.
“Guess that’s my cue. Can I see you again tomorrow?”
Before Steve could get up there was cold on his hand again, and a second later also on his cheek. He could feel some pressure there, which he guessed had to be a kiss.
“Yes, I’d like that,” Bucky whispered right next to his ear. With that he took his hand off Steve’s, sending him on his way.
When Steve walked over to the others he dared one more look back, but couldn’t make out the spot where Bucky sat anymore.
Lying in bed that night Steve couldn’t stop running his fingers over his cheek, remembering what the sweet pressure of Bucky’s kiss had felt like. He was falling hard and fast for this man he barely knew. But, damn, did he not want that feeling to stop rampaging through his chest.
* * *
Over the next few days this pattern repeated. Every day they met by that pond, only getting glimpses of each other in the short moments Bucky could risk to let the shadows retreat. And every day Bucky noticed a new colour coming back to him. Close to two weeks after they started these little meetings of theirs, Bucky could see the full range of colours making up Steve’s tattoos. When he realised that, he couldn’t stop himself, he softly ran his right hand down Steve’s chest and abdomen, causing Steve to shiver.
“Sorry. Sorry I shouldn’t have.”
Steve gripped in the air and somehow actually managed to get a hold of Bucky’s hand, at which they both gasped.
“No, don’t apologise. Was just cold is all.” Steve slowly led Bucky’s hand back onto his body, placing it directly over his heart - beating strongly under Bucky’s fingers.
For a while Bucky let his hand roam over Steve’s chest but it just didn’t feel right. Not only could Steve not touch him back, but he couldn’t even see him. So far Steve hadn’t complained but for Bucky this stopped being enough.
That night, when Bucky lay in his bed alone, he came to a decision and made his plan.
The next day Bucky waited in the shadows by the pond as he’d done for the last two weeks. He started to feel more like a freak than ever before. Hanging around, watching some kids, it was weird business - not that he could change any of that now anymore - it was just rather uncomfortable.
When the group walked onto the meadow Bucky started to head in their direction - still shrouded in shadows. He got there just before they sat down. Completely ignoring the others he reached for Steve’s hand. The moment there was skin contact, he let the shadows fall off him.
Through the ensuing noise coming from the other three kids, Bucky pulled Steve closer, and looking into his eyes asked: “Come with me?”
Steve nodded. This was all the confirmation Bucky needed. He slung both arms around him and even darker shadows enveloped both of them. A second later there was silence in his ears, and they were standing in the foyer of his home.
Bucky couldn’t believe it. He actually had this sweet young boy in his own home. He looked down at Steve’s face, pulling his right hand up from his waist to brush the hair out of his face.
Steve stared at his face for a bit longer before he started looking around.
“Where are we?”
“My home,” Bucky gave him a soft smile. His right hand still on Steve’s neck, he expanded his left in a wide gesture. “Welcome to Hades, sweetheart.”
Steve gave a startled laugh, nodded his head a bit, and pushed himself up on his toes to press a small kiss to Bucky’s cheek.
“Hades, huh? How about you give me the tour?”
* * *
Steve couldn’t believe his eyes. No way had he ever thought the Underworld would be this colourful. Not that he’d ever imagined himself even seeing it. But still. You’d think the place for the dead would look, well, dead.
They walked by a giant, three-headed dog that Bucky told him was named Lucky, which made Steve burst out laughing - the middle head gave an answering bark at that.
All around them were specters walking. Lost but not lost - aimless, directionless. A little further away Steve could see a guy pushing a giant stone up a hill, again and again - having it roll down on him whenever he got halfway up. When he asked Bucky about that, he just shook his head.
“People around here, Steve, they messed up in their lives. This is where they pay for that. Each with their own personal punishment.”
“Who decides that?”
“Those three,” Bucky pointed at a long table with three men at it. “They screwed up too once. Their punishment is to choose punishments.” Bucky pulled on Steve’s hand then.
“Come on, enough of the sad stuff. I have two more things to show you.”
Steve nodded and fell in step next to Bucky, not letting go of his hand this time.
On their way to wherever, they passed through a field of flowers that Steve had never seen before. Which he wouldn't have thought possible - him not knowing a flower, insane.
“It’s Asphodel.” - Bucky must have seen him staring - “It only grows down here. Doesn’t need sunlight or any of that overworld stuff.”
Steve gave a little laugh.
“Not as beautiful as you.”
For all the balls he showed when he’d first met Bucky, Steve was sure growing bashful now. But well, all this was new to him - the surroundings, the feelings, everything was odd and different.
As he was looking slightly away from Bucky, he saw a cliff and beyond that gorgeous islands with white beaches and houses.
“That’s Elysium. Where heroes get to rest for eternity.”
“Haven’t had any complaints yet.” They both laughed as they walked on.
A few more minutes of walking and they were back where they started. This was the first time, though, that Steve saw the Mansion from the outside. It was gigantic and gorgeous.
Bucky gave his arm a soft tug.
“Come on, I’ll show you the home.”
Bucky led him through the house, room by room. Living Room, Dining Room, Library, Kitchen, Baths. Steve was having a hard time keeping his jaw off the floor - flabbergasted by the sheer size of each room and the amount of them.
“So, uhm, where do you sleep?”
“Upstairs.” Bucky’s voice sounded a bit choked just then.
Bucky gave him a strange look, that morphed into a smirk.
“Sure, come on.”
He led Steve up the staircase and they were greeted by an enormous bed with soft-looking grey sheets - grey as Bucky’s eyes.
Steve still held on to Bucky’s hand, turned around, and started to walk backwards, climbing on the bed when his legs hit the frame. He could see Bucky’s eyes grow darker when he licked his lips.
He gave Bucky’s hand another tug and dove in for a soft kiss. He was rewarded with a light groan from Bucky and strong arms pulling im against a firm chest. One of Bucky’s hands came up to cradle his face as their kisses grew from gentle to demanding.
Steve’s hands slipped under Bucky’s shirt starting to pull it up.
“Wait,” Bucky sounded gloriously breathless, “are you sure, this is what you want?”
“Yes.” Steve didn’t even recognise his own voice, it sounded that wrecked.
Bucky pulled his own shirt over his head, lay back into the pillows, and pulled Steve on top of him, finding his lips again.
* * *
Bucky woke up completely relaxed for the first time in… decades probably. Enveloped in the soft embrace of his precious Steve, basking in the glow of last night - waking up didn’t seem all that bad anymore.
He extracted himself carefully, without jostling Steve and headed for the kitchen. Breakfast was supposed to be the most important meal of the day, right? And considering how they spent their night, Steve could probably use all the food he could get. Of course they didn’t need human food, but Bucky adored the satisfaction of preparing those meals much more than the taste of Ambrosia.
When the food was done Bucky walked up the stairs with the tablet in one and two cups of coffee in the other hand. He placed it on his side of the bed, slowly climbing in, trying not to spill anything. He placed the coffee on his nightstand and sank down next to Steve. He started to kiss up and down his spine, waiting for him to wake.
A moment later Steve stirred and turned on his back, gifting Bucky with a gorgeous smile.
“Good morning, baby.”
“How you feelin’?”
“Good, good. What you got there?” Steve couldn’t keep the sleepy out of his voice but curiosity seemed to win him over, Bucky thought it was the most adorable thing he’d ever heard.
“Breakfast. We got scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, some fruit, coffee…” with that Bucky handed Steve one of the cups and slid the tablet further into the middle.
Bucky watched Steve eat, inspecting what he chose and expecting his reactions. When Steve reached for the bowls of fruit and picked a single red seed, Bucky held his hand still for a moment.
“Wait a sec. I need you to know. Everything you ate so far came from the overworld. These grow down here, so once you eat that pomegranate seed? You will never be able to leave without returning.”
He watched on as Steve pulled his hand back to himself, and swallowed the red seed, all the time keeping eye contact. Afterwards he kissed the sweet taste right off of his tongue.