Bucky woke up with a headache, a mouth that tasted like something had died in it, and hands-down, swear-to-god, the most beautiful man he had ever seen asleep in his lap.
Bucky was also, he realized after a moment, strapped down to a hospital bed with about six different monitors making unsynced, yet equally piercing, beeps. Beyond that he couldn’t quite see—there was a hideous floral curtain pulled around the bed, and while he could just make out figures moving in the room beyond it, the pattern made his head pound even worse the longer he looked at it.
So. That was concerning.
On the other hand: really just stunning man in his lap. Christ, he was gorgeous. Bucky felt better already. When he woke up, this guy was getting Bucky’s best charm offensive straight to the kisser.
After a moment Bucky shifted a little. His nose really itched. Maybe he could…? Bucky twisted and contorted his face, then the rest of him—no dice. He managed to wiggle his toes a little, but they were not getting anywhere near his nose unless someone came along with a set of bolt cutters. Maybe Adonis had some? Adonis sure looked like the kind of guy who could answer Bucky’s most fervent prayers and fantasies, so maybe he would let him scratch his nose, too.
The Living Work of Art and Beauty made a soft, drowsy sound, and fluttered his holy shit gorgeous blue eyes open. He lifted his head, blinked sleepily, and—
“Shit!” Adonis blurted, then snapped bolt upright in his chair and directly into the overhanging lamp with a clang. He jerked right back down again, clutching his head and cursing, pained. “Ow! Shit!”
Hopefully Adonis could say more than “ow,” and “shit,” but Bucky supposed with a face like that, you didn’t really need to. If it turned out all his positive points had been poured into looks, Bucky would still happily take care of him for the rest of his life anyway. He watched, bemused, and the man of his dreams gave him a small, sheepish smile, which obviously went straight to Bucky’s dick.
Not literally, of course. God, that would have been fantastic. But no.
“Hey,” Sexy Eyes managed, rubbing the back of his head and leaning in close, and Bucky knew that look, oh god yes. Yes. Sexy Eyes was totally into him, it was obvious and glorious and Bucky couldn’t believe his good luck, which seemed to be getting better by the minute despite the fact that he was trussed up like a Christmas turkey on a medical gurney.
Bucky, in the interest of helping his luck along, tried to smile without opening his mouth-- that lingering dead taste on his tongue would doubtless translate into really rancid, awful breath. Bucky was grabbing on to this with both damn hands. He was not going to miss out on Mr. Sexy Eyes McDreamboat because he smiled too hard.
“Hey,” Bucky said, and the sexy eyes crinkled up, so Bucky’s breath was either okay or Perfect Face was into him enough not to care. “What say you unstrap me here,” Bucky suggested, lowering his voice so his living fantasy had to lean in closer, “and you can tie me up again somewhere else?”
Perfect Face blushed all over his, well, perfect face. Bucky was smitten. And having a difficult time not thinking about everything else he wanted to do all over that perfect face, too.
“I can’t,” Adonis managed, clearly struck by the thought, and Bucky smirked.
“You’re right, you don’t need to,” Bucky murmured, twisting suggestively. He tilted his head back and looked him over through his lashes; Adonis’ eyes flicked to his mouth and his breath caught. “Look at you. You can hold me down and make me beg for it instead, easy. I’d be up for that too.”
“Um. I’ll just. Uh, yeah. Just—“ The guy stood and turned, and wow, after the eyes and mouth, that was definitely Bucky’s favorite part of him. Chiseled Ass of Beauty poked his head out of the curtain, then ducked back in give him a reassuring smile. “I’m so sorry, Buck, it’s just until everyone is certain you’re not going to, uh.” He looked uncomfortable. “You know. Do something you didn’t mean to.”
Bucky twisted his head and gave him a concerned look. “Babe, I’m pretty sure the only thing I want to do right now is get my circulation back so I can hit on you properly.”
Glorious Buttcheeks gave him a sweet, anxious smile, his dimples making a hesitant show, and Bucky felt a little pang in his heart even as he felt the equally insistent pang in his dick. “Come on, man,” Bucky wheedled, pulling a little. “My nose really itches, too.”
“Tony made me swear on my mother’s grave,” Dimples explained, anguished. “He made me swear on your mother’s grave. Mrs. Barnes would haunt me for the rest of our lives.”
Bucky stuck his lip out. “Alright then, Mr. Boy Scout, when’s the doctor going to be in to unbuckle ‘em?” He leered. “And more importantly, what are you doing after?”
Dimples paused, then said softly, “Anything you want to.”
Bucky’s leer transformed into a grin that stretched all the way across his face, and whatever had landed him in a hospital with his brain hooked up to eight million wires and probes was worth it. Had it been a fall down the stairs? Worth it. A car accident? Worth it. Had he been trapped, Saw style, and had to cut off a limb to escape? Still so worth it.
“Yeah?” Bucky breathed, “Well.” He settled back in the bed as much as he was able, which wasn’t very much, and tilted his hips again as far as the straps would allow. He caught Dimples looking and gave a wolfish grin in return. “So what’s your name, handsome? Have we met before this? I could swear you look familiar.”
Bucky had no idea what he’d done, but it was obvious he’d somehow screwed it all up. The abrupt mask of misery and horror totally transformed the guy’s face, and suddenly this wasn’t fun anymore. “Steve,” the guy croaked, eyes latched on his, hunching forward like Bucky had just sucker punched him in the gut. Bucky panicked, trying to figure out what had just happened. This was awful. “It’s… Steve.”
“Okay, Steve,” he said, cajoling. “Hey, Steve, baby, what’s wrong? Lemme up, hey.” He stretched out his fingers as far as they would reach, barely brushing Steve’s hand. Steve looked like he was going to cry. Bucky was sure he would be tragically beautiful doing it, but it wouldn’t make it any less painful to watch. “What did I say?”
“No, it’s—” Steve lurched back towards the curtain. “I only—”
“Huh.” A guy with a goatee and a face Bucky simultaneously wanted to punch and hide from tossed back the curtain, stylus in his mouth, with what looked like a high-end Smartpad held at arms’ length. “I didn’t know Hydra was into this kind of thing. So, what, a sexy amnesia brain chip? Is he supposed to seduce you to the dark side, Capsicle? Good luck with that, Red, Steve’s as straight as apple pie.”
“Which is, as we all know, world-renowned for its heterosexuality,” a female voice interjected over some sort of loudspeaker.
“Thanks for that input, Friday,” the guy said.
Bucky and Steve cut them both identical glares, which wasn’t easy to do with a disembodied voice coming from a speaker in the ceiling. “Tony,” Steve said, clearly tired.
“Upside,” Tony continued cheerfully, ignoring him, “judging from that look, Death Stare doesn’t want to have sex with me, so silver linings and all that.” He tapped a few things on the screen. “Purely in the interests of science, Bucko, anything else around the room you want to sleep with? The chair? Friday? Natasha’s outside, we could bring her in to show off her—”
“If you finish that sentence,” Steve cut in, “I will tell her that you did.”
Tony snapped his mouth shut.
“Fun as it sounds, I’m not planning on any of that.” Bucky pulled on his straps experimentally. “But I do have the strangest urge to beat your head against the floor. I wonder why.”
“If it makes you feel better,” Steve offered faintly, “you already have.”
Bucky brightened. “That does make me feel better, actually.”
“Try it when you don’t have backup,” Tony groused, poking Bucky in the arm with something. Bucky flinched and swore at him. “Alright, Sleeping Beauty, what’s the last thing you remember?”
“You stabbing me with that whatsit, jerkface,” Bucky complained. Steve didn’t crack a smile.
Tony sneered. “Hilarious! How about before you woke up?”
Bucky opened his mouth.
Then he closed it.
“Three words,” Tony offered, “Starts with a…”
Bucky had nothing. He stared at the ugly curtain.
“Upside,” Tony said to Steve, spinning his stylus and pretending not to notice the disappointed/wretched/furious glower Steve was leveling at him, “Hydra’s consistent. Amnesia’s not even that bad! It only took, what, a few years in hiding and your shattered cheekbones to get over last time? And I hear you only had to keep him from offing himself, like, twenty times while we’ve been fixing the magic words here. Thirty, tops. It’ll be old hat by now, your place is already baby-proofed.”
“You know, Stark,” Steve growled, fists clenched, “when people say, ‘I want to patch things up,’ usually they try to be a little less of an asshole while they do it.”
“Yeah, and usually I bet I would have run you off already. Too bad you need me so badly,” Tony replied snidely, and turned back to Bucky. “So guess what! You get to have a whole lot more tests done. On a scale of death scowl to murder, how excited are you?”
“Unsurprising,” Tony announced, and stabbed him with another needle.
Bucky felt like a kid who’d finally gotten a pony for Christmas, only to have it take a huge shit on his front porch and then set it on fire.
Metaphorically, of course. He couldn’t actually say with complete certainty, since, obviously: amnesia, but he felt reasonably sure he did not own a porch-shitting, pyromaniacal pony.
On the pony side, Steve Rogers was not just a pretty face. Bucky was completely certain he was the most amazing, beautiful, perfect person Bucky had ever met in his entire life, despite not remembering much of anything he had seen in said entire life. On the flaming shitty porch side, he was strapped to a table in a room filled with bright lights, being poked and stabbed and asked a million and one incomprehensible questions by This Asshole Tony.
Some of the questions he had been asked so far were:
• What is the current vaccination schedule for American children?
• Do you know what a selfie is?
• How do you feel about Germans?
• Here do this math problem no you can’t use your hands no Steve you can’t unstrap him yet.
“Okay. So. Okay.”
Despite being the literal personification of all Bucky’s most closely held fantasies, though, Steve was also probably the biggest human disaster Bucky had ever met. Bucky watched the guy search for words and wished yet again that someone would finally unstrap him, but this time only so he could pat the poor bastard on the head and offer him some cocoa.
“Here’s the thing,” Steve tried again. “You can do whatever you want, I’m not making you do anything.”
“Spit it out, Stevie,” Bucky ordered, smiling as encouragingly as he could when it looked like Steve was getting ready to invite him to a funeral. “You’re making me nervous.”
Steve closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and said, “Please don’t leave.” He covered his face with his frankly enormous hands, took another gasp of air, and ran them up and through his boy scout haircut. It stuck out at weird angles and made him look adorable. “You don’t know me, I know. I’m just some huge stupid stranger that’s falling apart all over you, but I can calm down, I won’t pressure you to remember.” His voice cracked, and he blinked and stared at his feet. “Don’t leave again.”
“Well,” Bucky said slowly, feeling a little unglued. “I’m kind of still strapped in place at the moment. So.”
Steve gave a sad, desperate laugh and pinched his brow. “Right. So, after. After, you know, the people who have been poking you with needles and refusing to answer your questions unstrap you from the table in the secret basement in an undisclosed location, please don’t run for your life.”
Bucky stared at him. “You are awful at this,” he said after a moment, aghast. “Holy shit, do they just let you wander around talking in public?”
Steve dropped his face into the mattress and covered his head with his arms. “Sometimes they give me a script,” he said, muffled. “I’m better at talking in situations where there’s someone to punch really hard immediately afterwards.”
“Jesus, I hope so.” Bucky said. “Alright, beautiful, I don’t plan on leaving, even after Dr. Needles unstraps me and I’m upstairs and outside. Okay?” He was still buckled down, but he stretched his fingers enough to touch Steve’s hair. It felt amazing. All of Steve probably felt amazing. If he ran for the hills he wouldn’t get to find out. “It’ll be alright. I’m not going to run screaming.”
He probably should, though. It was becoming more and more clear to him what a huge helping of crazy had been dealt to pretty much everyone in the room.
That was when Tony decided to yank the curtain back and grin at them.
“I need to record this shit and put it on YouTube,” he announced, and Steve got a constipated look on his face.
Eventually they all agreed to unstrap him from the table, which was frankly the second best news he’d gotten all day, after discovering the fact that Steve existed. They were apparently still worried he would freak out and kill someone, though, so they were waiting for some heavy hitter to arrive since everyone in the room (Bucky grudgingly included) was pretty sure Steve wouldn’t do much if he did, except maybe cry.
“And we’re friends,” Steve assured him anxiously, “best friends. We really are. I promise you. You know me.”
“Breathe,” Bucky told him, slightly alarmed. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“Although you clearly should run as fast and as soon as you can, holy shit,” Tony interrupted, yanking the curtain back again to hold out his phone for a picture. The fake shutter snap made Steve’s eye twitch. “Cap sounds like he wants to turn your skin into a lampshade.”
“James.” A woman strolled in. Her hair curled around her head, she had bright red lipstick on her mouth, and she was carrying so many knives that she should have clinked when she walked. Bucky gave her a bright smile that slid sideways as soon as she continued, “I’m Natasha. I will kick the shit out of you if I need to, no matter how much it makes Steve cry. Nothing personal.”
Bucky was, for a moment, entirely speechless. He turned and gave Steve a wordless look, and Steve just shrugged.
“She hits really hard,” Tony assured Bucky from behind a tablet.
“Uh,” Bucky managed, turning back to stare at her. “Okay?”
“Good,” she said breezily, sliding into a chair and looking unconcerned. “What do we know so far?” she asked, while Steve fell over himself to unstrap Bucky from the bed.
The female voice came from the ceiling again. “James has lost most of his episodic memories, but kept many of the emotions associated with them. No obvious pattern other than Captain Rogers.” Tony shrugged, when Natasha furrowed her brow and looked at him, as if that should be self-explanatory. “What he’s kept is mixed—he can speak French and some German, but no Russian. He’s not concerned about homosexuality, and displays a familiar confidence with modern technology, but not reliably.”
Natasha ticked her jaw to the side, thinking. “He doesn’t look upset to be here.”
Tony nodded. “He woke up strapped to a cot in a strange medical facility, but he hasn’t panicked once. As long as Steve’s around, Barnes is fine.”
“Barnes is also right here,” Bucky pointed out, sitting up and rubbing his arms.
“Which makes this demonstration much easier,” Tony said, tossing a screwdriver in the air a few times as he sauntered over. Bucky gave him the side-eye but didn’t comment. “Alright, Red, quit thinking, close your eyes for a bit, then take a look at this woman and tell me your first thoughts.”
Bucky looked at Natasha, opened his mouth, closed it, and blushed.
“Okay, hot stuff, quit checking out Natasha and look at me.” Tony spread his arms. “What do you think with you look at me?”
“I hate your face,” Bucky said immediately.
“See?” Tony turned to Natasha. “He doesn’t remember anything about Friday at all. But me? Exactly the same.”
“You have just spent the entire day being an asshole,” Steve muttered.
“No,” Bucky interrupted, “I mean literally, I hate your face. I feel like guilty shit whenever I look at it. I don’t have a really strong opinion of you personally.”
Tony was silent for a moment, then a brilliant smile slowly lit his face. “Good,” he said, realization dawning. “You should.”
“Uh,” Bucky said again. “Sorry?”
“Tony,” Natasha murmured.
“No, don’t be.” Tony was grinning, now, so wide he looked a bit deranged. More deranged than he had been so far, which honestly, was a lot. “I hope you feel that way forever.”
“What about Steve?” Natasha asked, pulling the conversation back on track.
Bucky’s blush when he’d looked at Natasha had absolutely nothing on this one. Bucky felt like his face was on fire. He probably looked like he wanted to eat him. Words like whipped cream and edible underwear were probably scrolling across his forehead in real time.
“Right,” Steve managed, looking both elated and embarrassed. “Okay.”
“Ooooh, rough,” Tony said, patting Bucky on the back. “Sorry pal. Better luck next time.”
Bucky swung his legs over the side of the bed, confused, and turned back to Steve. “Wait. I thought we were together. We must be together. Aren't we?”
“No,” said Tony.
“Yes,” said Steve.
“What?” said Tony, “Since when?”
“Since before Hitler?” Steve answered, frowning. “Did you not notice how pleased I was when I found out homosexuality was legal now? Sam threw me a party. You were there. You brought that hugely offensive cake that I wouldn’t have shown to a--”
“I thought you were just proud of America!” Tony protested, mouth agape.
“I was.” Steve spread his hands. “I was also excited I wouldn’t be arrested if anyone found out I was blowing my roommate anymore.”
Tony turned to Natasha, who looked like she was watching a tennis match. “Did you know?” Tony asked plaintively. “Natasha, did you know? Did you keep it from me? Did you all keep this from me?”
“I’m not joining this discussion,” Natasha told him cheerfully. “I’m okay watching it explode without my help.”
“I didn’t keep it from anyone,” Steve snapped, losing his temper. “Did you not notice Bucky and I sleep in the same bed? I know you snoop, and all our clothes are in the same room.”
“I thought that was a 1940s thing!” Tony shouted, taking on a hysterical note.
“You thought sodomy was a 1940s thing,” Steve said flatly.
“Yes! No! I mean you were all poor, you couldn’t afford more than one bed!” He turned to Natasha. “That’s a poor person thing, right? Poor people sleep in the same bed?”
“I’m not sure you can hear yourself right now,” Natasha told him, holding out her phone and tapping the screen, “but rest assured I’m recording it to remind you later.”
“Tony, you gave me an apartment with seven rooms,” Steve reminded him, waving both arms in the what was presumably the direction of said apartment. “We have three completely empty king sized beds. We can afford to sleep separately, we just don’t want to.”
Tony looked lost. “I thought… I thought you were still doing it as a comfort thing?”
“Yes.” Steve exploded, incredulous. “Yes we were. Also as a sex thing. What the hell did you think that mortifying conversation was about last month, when I asked you to please stop Friday asking if we needed assistance every time our heart rates went up and we started shouting?”
“I think I’m going to sink into the ground and die now,” Bucky said to Natasha conversationally. “You?”
“I’m good,” said Natasha, rapt.
“Oh my god, were you having sex every time I got that alert?” Tony squawked, horrified. “I was notified every time the Winter Soldier was defiling the symbol of our country and I didn’t even know it?” Tony’s jaw hung open, and Steve looked like he wanted to knock it right off his face. “Some of those weren’t even in your floor, some of them were-- oh my god did you have sex with him in the showers? Did you have sex with the Winter Soldier in the gym showers and I haven’t cleansed them with fire?”
“They’re independent lockable rooms!” Steve yelled. “We were naked and alive and alone after getting beaten black and blue, Bucky had almost died on that last stupid mission you talked me into, of course we had—“
“Just a note,” Friday cut in. “You may not have realized, Captain Rogers, that you are in a semi-public area discussing your sexual relations. Loudly. Where there are other people. Who can all hear you. I thought I would just bring that to your attention.”
Steve froze, mouth still open, and Bucky was pretty sure all the blood in Steve’s body had just rushed directly to his face. Steve dropped his head back and stared at the ceiling with a clenched jaw. Bucky tried to think of something to say.
“But by all means, go on,” Natasha insisted, eyes on her phone, typing full-speed. “I could listen to this all day. I’m live-texting it to Sam as we speak. He says he wants a video, so if you could go back over the ‘sodomy is a 1940s thing’ again, that would be ideal. It’s going to be my ringtone for you forever.”
“Bucky,” Steve said to the ceiling, “can we please go back to the apartment. Where I will pretend this was all a horrible dream.”
“Does it get to be the kind of dream where we both end up realizing we’re suddenly naked?” Bucky asked. Apparently needling Steve trumped abject mortification and amnesia, no problem. “I’d be kinda up for that kind of dream, sounds like you might be too.”
Steve hid his face in his hands.
“It had better not be until you get back to your own floor,” Tony griped, and Natasha smacked him in the arm as Steve made an immediate retreat with Bucky in tow.
“Does the elevator count?” Bucky shouted over his shoulder, and Steve stabbed at the button to close the doors before Tony could manage a reply.