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Falling Like Ashes

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The whisper in the air makes Steve’s insides freeze. Even the breath in his lungs still. His heart leaps to his throat, a shiver running through his limbs. He almost stumbles over his feet in his sudden halt--almost. The humans he was just walking among simply step around him, oblivious to his very presence just as always. Humans do have perverse reactions to Divinity.

Sweat pools at the back of Steve’s neck--he needs to wipe his palms on his pants. He knows what he needs to do. Every part of his body screams at him to go. Get out of there. Now.

But he doesn’t. Steve just stands there, frozen to that spot as that utterly recognizable feeling ensnares him. Again. Because he knows what he doesn’t want to admit. As much as Steve should run -- is supposed to run -- that doesn’t mean there isn’t part, however small, that wants to stay.

Steve’s throat is dry. Eyes softly closing, he releases the shaky air in his lungs as his head turns just enough to look across the street. A tremble goes through his spine, chunks of ice tumbling down it as he locks eyes with the very reason for this feeling.

“Oh…” he breathes, the word quivering as it slips from his tongue. “No…”

He stands there, across the street, still as a statue, too still to be natural. He’s different from the crowd of humans all around him. They’re a sea of colors. The clothes they’re wearing, their skin tones, their hair. He’s dressed head to toe in black--button down, slacks, overcoat, socks, shoes. Darkness drips from every inch of him. He practically drowns in it. From those piercing fire-red eyes of his that glare right into Steve to those sinfully blood-colored lips. Even his skin, so light it should make him look weak -- if only that was true -- makes him stand out.

The left corner of his mouth lifts in something of a smirk; Steve can see just the very tip of his upper fang. His tongue runs under his top teeth. Two glossy black horns, no longer than Steve’s pinky fingers, peek out through long curtains of dark hair.

All Steve seems capable of doing is standing there staring back at him, caught in the glare of his kind’s natural enemy. The one, in particular, who knows all his weaknesses, all his downfalls, all his fears. He even winks at Steve. Steve shakes his head, weakly, trying several times, to swallow the dagger in his throat.

And then, to Steve’s utter shock and horror, he steps off the curb and onto incoming traffic.

Watching him come closer is like watching slow motion. Always has been. It’s as though he moves through water. Glides across the street with hips curving and arms swaying, eyes zeroed in on their target. Right now, that target is Steve.

Car horns blast and tires screech. He’s made himself tangible for the humans for this part. Fun and games for him as he sashays past cars that narrowly miss him, winds blowing hard enough to make his overcoat sail angrily to the side while vehicles crash into each other in their attempts to avoid him.

Metal twists and curls around more metal. Glass shatters, shards splintering and sliding across the street like bits of ice. Humans scream in fear and pain as they’re pinned against steering wheels and under seats. He doesn’t look. Doesn’t blink. Doesn’t even flinch.

Steve, by all duty and honor, should be over there, helping. It is his job, as an Avenger, to protect and guide and comfort those who need it most. But all Steve does is stand there while humans -- humans -- rush to help.

Tears build in Steve’s eyes when a pair of expensive designer shoes step onto the curb with him. Steve hasn’t done any of the things he should’ve done. He hasn’t run. Hasn’t prayed for help. He hasn’t even looked away. Not even when a long, clawed finger reaches up to graze along his cheek.

“Hello, angel,” he greets, smirk curled up and claw digging into Steve’s chin. “How are you?”

Just the sound of his voice makes Steve weak at the knees. It pierces right through to the pit of his stomach like molten gold, making his white wings quiver to their silvery tips.

“Please,” Steve whispers. “Not again… I can’t…”

Before Steve can say another word, a hand wraps around his throat, instantly cutting off his air. He struggles for a moment, an instinct, he supposes, and then stops, knowing struggling will do no good. Not now, anyway. Better to save what oxygen he has in his lungs than waste it.

The world picks up around them, growing hazy in Steve’s blurring vision. Two lips move to Steve’s ear.

“You know how much I hate that phrase, angel,” he says. “I can’t. Certain things you can’t do, sure. But others come down to choice.” His hand squeezes tighter. “Like this one. Correct?”

Lungs burning, Steve claws uselessly at the fingers snared around his neck. There’s only one answer to the question and he can’t fight now. Not without humans getting hurt. Steve nods. Quickly. But isn’t released just yet.

“Mm.” He licks Steve’s cheek. “What a good little angel.”

“Buchanan,” Steve manages to get through a squeezed windpipe. “Please…”

“Aw, for asking so nicely.”

Finally, he lets go, and Steve stumbles to the side, heaving in big gulps of breaths as he tries to compose himself. Buchanan’s hand rests on Steve’s head. Comforting, as much as Steve hates to admit it.

Brushing the moisture away from his eyes, Steve glances up at him and crushes his jaw.

“You didn’t need to do that,” he growls.

Buchanan laughs, his voice traveling over the sirens that are coming this way, humans still scrambling about in efforts to help one another.

“Oh, I know,” he answers. “But wasn’t it fun?”

“I’m not doing this again, Buchanan.”

“And why not?”

“It’s over. I said it the last time.”

Leaning down, Buchanan murmurs, “And the time before that… and the time before that… and those times didn’t seem to scream over to me. In fact, the screaming involved--”

“I know what the screaming was,” Steve mutters. “You don’t have to remind me.”

Another smirk curls up on Buchanan’s lips. Those eyes of his glow, two orbs of blood red skies that makes most anyone sick to look at. Not Steve. Steve is just… mesmerized.

“Then what makes you think it’s over this time?”

“Because it has to be,” Steve says. “We ca--” He snaps his mouth closed, denying Buchanan any excuse for his little tormenting games again. “I’m the Shield for Heaven,” he says instead. “You’re the Fist for Hell; Lucifer’s favorite demon. This--” Steve waves between the two of them. “--isn’t right.”

Buchanan clicks his tongue twice while circling around him, though Steve has learned not ever to show his back to him. Even still, Buchanan manages to pluck a feather from Steve’s wings -- Steve tries not to wince, though, probably fails -- and taps it against his chin as though deep in thought.

“That’s the problem with your kind,” he berates, dragging the feather along Steve’s cheek. “You never know how to have a little fun.”

“I know how to have fun, Buchanan,” Steve replies. “But breaking every Law of Nature doesn’t fall into that category.”

“Well, you certainly don’t mind breaking Natural Law when you were moaning for me not to stop.”

Steve shudders, a blush of glowing light running through his cheeks as he ducks his head down and looks around like there might be another angel close by to’ve heard that.

Buchanan,” Steve growls. “I--”

“You what, Steven?” The growl in the back of Buchanan’s voice is louder, meaner than what Steve attempted, makes Steve jerk away. “You think you’re better than me? Am I not good enough for you?”

“That’s not what I--”

“Because may I remind you, angel…” Buchanan circles around him again, this time biting down on his lip and letting his eyes roam over Steve’s body. “You’re the one wearing a pair of cheap jeans and a black shirt.” His voice has softened significantly. “While I’m wearing a designer suit humans spend quite a lot of money on.”

Steve scoffs. “Which you’ve undoubtedly stolen.”

“I prefer the term borrowed myself,” Buchanan says. “Off a human who doesn’t have much use for it any longer.”

“A dead man, you mean.”

He shrugs. “Tomatoes, tomahtoes.”

Eyes rolling, Steve fixes the bottom of his shirt and lifts his chin with an indignant huff. Pride -- sinful, he’s sure -- surges through him.

“I’m not doing this anymore, Buchanan.”

Steve turns to leave, an uneasy, unsettling feeling blanketing over him so tightly it makes it difficult to breathe. Steve’s stomach turns. He’s never said no to Buchanan before. Never walked away from him.

And apparently he’s not going to. Not when Buchanan’s long fingers ensnare Steve’s wrist in their tight grip, his claws digging deep into Steve’s skin. Steve hisses in pain as Buchanan yanks him back over, pulling him so close they’re standing nose to nose.

“Where do you think you’re going, angel?”

That grip gets tighter the second Steve tries to yank himself free. Buchanan tisks twice, lifting his other hand to Steve’s chest. Several thoughts race through Steve’s mind--ducking, parrying Buchanan’s arm away, twisting out of his hold...

Before Steve has a chance to come up with something, his mind firing too many choices at once, Buchanan’s hand is on his chest and Steve is flying back into the front of the stone building behind him. There’s not even enough time for Steve to try to pick himself back up, Buchanan’s hand is already bunched up in Steve’s shirt so he can yank him to his feet.

“You think you can just leave,” Buchanan says. “Because you think your little angel buddies won’t want to be friends anymore? Think your wings’ll be clipped? You gonna be tossed outta of the Avengers?”

All that and more, and Buchanan knows it despite his best efforts to play dumb. Everything that makes Steve… Steve just taken and forfeited, and for what? To give in to a few hours of temptation? Of lust and meaningless passion. To end up with nothing at all. Not even with Buchanan’s sympathy, let alone companionship.

“Among other things,” Steve grumbles. “Now, if you’ll excuse me.”

Once again attempting to break away from Buchanan’s hold on him, Steve twists and squirms. This would be so much easier if there weren’t so many vulnerable humans around. Humans, Steve knows, are of no consequence to Buchanan -- he’s already had fun with them causing a pile-up on their roadway. As an angel -- an Avenger, no less -- Steve follows a very different set of morals when it comes to their safety. This is just Buchanan taking advantage, of course, choosing here to meet and not someplace private.

“You really think I’d make it that easy?” Buchanan asks, pinning Steve back against the building. “Did you?”

“Buchanan--”

You are the one who sought me out,” Buchanan snarls. Fits his body against Steve’s and grinds into him. “Don’t ever forget that.”

A groan gets stuck in Steve’s throat, electricity tingling right at the base of his spine. He hasn’t forgotten. Steve could never forget. Even if he ever tried, Buchanan would never let him. Especially when those sinful lips graze against his. Steve’s pants immediately get tighter.

“Doesn’t take much these days, does it?” Buchanan taunts, hand tightening around the bulge in Steve’s pants. “How easy it is to get you going, angel.”

His lips get closer to Steve’s again. Almost kissing, but not quite. He does lick Steve’s mouth, Steve quivering beneath him.

“Buchanan…” he whines. “Don’t…”

All that gets him is Buchanan’s hand more vigorously rubbing against his crotch and a finger running down his throat.

“Tell me why again, Stevie,” Buchanan whispers. “Why did you seek me out?”

Steve shakes his head. “I… I just…”

“Y-you… you just…” Buchanan mocks. “You just wanted to pretend, right?”

Pretend, yes. That man in his dream. The one Steve has almost every night. The one that makes him wake with an unexplainable hole in his heart. And his dream man and Buchanan have an uncanny resemblance. As in, they share the same face.

In Steve’s dreams, he isn’t an angel. He lives among the humans with the man. They smile. They laugh. They dance. They make so much love it’s hard to imagine any pair of humans actually unable to keep their hands off each other like that.

Say it, angel,” Buchanan demands. “Lemme hear you say it.”

Buchanan’s hand squeezes tighter, almost painful--just on the right side of pain. Enough to pull a muffled shout from Steve’s lungs.

“Yes!” He nods. Eyes closed and jaw clenched. “Yes, I did, I wanted to pretend you were him, but, Buchanan--”

“But nothing.” Grabbing Steve by the front of the shirt, Buchanan holds him completely still. Starts kissing up and down Steve’s neck. “That’s what you wanted. That’s what I gave you. Say the name, Stevie angel.”

“No.” Steve shakes his head even while lifting his chin to give Buchanan better access. “Stop. Stop it.” His actions and words conflict in his head, he knows that, but it’s too difficult to process anyway. “I can’t…”

Fingers lace through Steve’s hair and grip tight; yanks his head back and right into the bricks behind him.

“What did I tell you, Steven?” he growls. “There is no can’t.”

A fire ignites in Steve’s belly, spiraling through his entire body and burning inside and out. He’s seething. He’s aroused. His head is spinning. And his wings spring out, glowing and sparkling, knocking Buchanan away.

He lands on his backside at Steve’s feet, staring up at him with a chuckle and the start of a slow clap. Buchanan licks the inside of his teeth as he slowly rises back to his feet.

“Well, all right then,” he says, low and sultry. “I can take a hint.” And yet he's already pressing both hands to Steve's chest. “At least allow me the courtesy of a proper goodbye to my angel.”

Buchanan leaves no room for protest. He lunges in, mouth over Steve's completely, his tongue invading and rolling around. Steve barely has time to realize that they’re kissing, Buchanan’s hands are pulling him in even closer. His fingers comb through his hair, his claws rip through the back of Steve’s shirt, his leg hooks around the back of Steve’s knees threatening to make him topple over if not for Buchanan’s hold on him.

Somewhere in the back of Steve’s head there’s probably a small voice yelling at him to tell Buchanan to stop. It’s probably the reason he tenses at first and keeps his eyes wide open. But he neither pulls away nor keeps his eyes open. They drift close. Steve’s hands rise to gently cradle Buchanan’s cheeks.

“I hate you,” Steve whispers. “So much.”

“Mm,” Buchanan hums, “I love it when you talk dirty to me.”

He kisses harder. So hard Steve’s certain it’ll bruise. To add to it, Buchanan bites the corner of Steve’s mouth, a fang piercing right through his skin. Steve shudders and whimpers, blood trailing down the side of his chin.

When Buchanan moves to lick it away, Steve forgets himself for just one moment, and loses his mind to lust and unadulterated wanted. And does exactly what Buchanan has been trying to tempt him to do.

Oh,” he cries. “Oh, Bucky…”

A snicker. Then, “And there it is.” They’re nose to nose now, Steve breathless and Buchanan smirking. “The name so sweet you just can’t resist. Go ahead, Stevie, give in. Take what you want.”

It’s not him. Buchanan. He’s not the Bucky from his dreams. But that face. His voice. His touch. The feel of his lips against his. Buchanan is the only Bucky Steve can have. And by any means necessary.

Wings flapping once, and glowing so brightly they’d make humans shield their eyes, Steve scoops Bucky into this arms and propels them into the air. Bucky laches on tightly, his head tosses back in a hysterical laugh. Little crystal drops of tears hug the corners of his eyes at the speed of which Steve flies. He needs to get back to Bucky’s fast.

“You little minx,” Bucky chuckles. “I knew you couldn’t resist.”

“Shut up,” Steve mumbles as pushes Bucky through the open window in the living room of his Upper West Side penthouse. Son-of-a-bitch planned this.

Bucky rolls inside and lands lithely on his feet, sneering a smirk at Steve as he climbs in to join him. Head tilting back just enough to be noticeable, Bucky inhales deeply, as though he smells something wonderful--tantalizing.

“Your lust for me is so strong I can practically taste it,” he teases. “What’s the matter, angel.” He undoes his tie and holds his arms out. “I’m right here. Come’n’get me.”

A growl rises in Steve’s throat as he charges towards him. He rips the shirt he’s wearing in half so as not to lose track of Bucky -- the pain in the ass demon has known to dupe him in the past and disappear only reappear right behind him. Bucky back-peddles quickly, eyes completely focused on Steve’s, even when his right foot deftly kicks a marble coffee table out of his way.

The thing goes right through the nearest wall. Pieces shatter off as though they're used to it, putting a dent in the wall, and Bucky doesn’t seem to be bothered in the least. Neither he nor Steve stop. Not until Bucky’s back collides against the wall, Steve’s hands pinned to either side of him not a second later.

Bucky opens his mouth, probably filled with another quip ready to be tossed at Steve, but before Steve lets even air come out, he’s kissing him. Needy. Desperate. Bucky even smiles against his mouth as he bites his lip again and as much as it hurts -- as much as there’s pain spiraling through his body starting from there, and he shivers, and he whimpers -- Steve can’t bring him to stop.

It’s like an addiction, and Bucky knows it.

Still.

“Fuck!” Steve blots the spot with his fingers. Once again, Bucky’s made him bleed. “You’re an asshole.”

“Mhm.” He sashays over and takes Steve’s fingers into his mouth. Sucks for a second. “That’s never stopped you before.”

He's slowly unbuttoning his shirt and then stops at the button above his belly. He holds up a finger and instead of continuing that way, Bucky runs that finger straight down across them, the buttons melting away as he does.

It's hard not to fall at his feet right there. Minus the horns on his head, Bucky looks like he's been carved from marble. If Steve didn't know any better, he'd think him part of the Divine.

“Well?” He tilts his head. “Are we doing this or what? Cause if not there's plenty of others willing out there.”

A sword, right through Steve's chest and Bucky knows it. It's why he's said it.To get Steve all riled up again, and, damn him, it's working. Bucky could go out and have anyone. The thought of it, of Bucky with someone else, no matter how hard Steve’s tried to stop all this, hurts.

Without thinking about it, Steve slams his lips with Bucky’s again. Breathing him in, tasting him. He's not sure what happens next. Everything's so blurry, the world a swirl of color.

There's a crash--the sound of his wings spreading and smashing one of the lamps. They flip over something, a footstool maybe. He's pressed up into the corner with Bucky’s arm against his throat as he whispers things in his ear. Dirty, vulgar things that are just making Steve want him more.

It’s hard for Steve to keep track of what Bucky’s saying, not with the way his head spins. But he catches some of it. You wants me inside you, don’t you. You just need something stuffed up that filthy hole of yours. You want my tongue? You want it licking and lapping and just teasing you until you can’t take it anymore?

The blush on Steve’s face burns right up to the tips of his ears and down to his neck. He glows with it. Even if he wanted to hide it he couldn’t.

Bucky chuckles. “And you want me to give it all to you, don’t you?”

Steve struggles. Not to get away, not to win, but because he knows Bucky likes it when he struggles. So he pushes. Steve pushes hard enough that Bucky bares his fangs and snarls at him when Steve's strength is enough to make him start to lose his footing and slip away.

He nips at Steve’s neck. A distraction, really. When Steve whines because of the just perfect pain caused by two fangs digging deep into his skin, Bucky takes the opportunity to shove him over the arm of the couch. But Steve knows this one and is ready when Bucky’s fingers grab at the belt loops of his pants he rolls over and kicks him away.

A proud grin twitches at the corners of Steve’s mouth. Bucky’s propelled right across the entire room. Right into his built-in bookcase to boot. Copies of priceless originals and possibly signed manuscripts tumble down around him as he falls to his hands and knees. A shower of the world’s greatest literary minds.

There’s a thought that’s always tickled the back of Steve’s mind when they do this. It itches him now as he strolls on over to Bucky -- still on the floor and looking at all his books as though shocked at what happened. Who would win in a real fight? The rumor has always been that angels are stronger than demons, but Steve’s always wondered if that’s the absolute truth. Or does it depend on the two fighting? To be honest, he hopes to never have to find out.

When he reaches Bucky, he leans over a bit, just to get a look at him. Bucky, when he looks up at him from the floor, wears a sly grin on his face.

“Feisty today,” he says, “aren’t we?”

Steve gets no chance to respond. Bucky snags him by the wrist and flings him at the nearest wall. He hears it crack behind him. Feels it concave to his body. But it takes a second of breathless confusion to understand why he’s upside down. Steve looks at his feet. Sees Bucky hovered and caged over him, keeping them both pressed upside down against the wall--a demon’s trick.

“Hello, angel.” Bucky’s eyes roam over his body. “I think you’re wearing too much.”

Spreading all his fingers, Bucky extends his claws and rips the brim of Steve’s pants to shreds. If Steve doesn’t want to get filleted, he figures it’s best to just stay still as well.

Once he’s completely naked, Bucky’s teeth press into his lip and he makes a noise like he’s starving. With the claw of his index finger, Bucky presses into Steve's chin and then almost gently scratches down all the way to the tip of his dick.

Ah!” Steve exclaims. “Holy shit!”

Sweat hugs Steve's hairline, his breaths already beginning to back up on him as Bucky slowly drags his finger up and down Steve's cock. He squeezes his eyes closed and releases such a heavy breath it's hard to believe he’s still alive.

“Bucky,” he whines. “Bucky, please…”

But Bucky only chuckles and releases his demonic hold on him. Steve collapses into a sweaty mess on the floor, panting and shaking, his wings almost too weak to lift. And Bucky is nowhere to be seen.

That gives Steve just a few seconds, at least, to catch his breath.

Until he sees Bucky coming back. And what he's coming back with.

“Know what this is, Stevie angel?”

First, Steve states the obvious. “A lit torch.”

Eyes flicking to him like he both does and doesn't appreciate the sass, Bucky smirks and nods.

“Very good, yes, it's a torch.” He picks up a candlestick. “But the fire is from the Underworld.”

Bucky dips the wick of the candle into the flames and they suddenly turn black. They're like a shadow twisting and twirling on that stick. Memorizing. Exotic. It sends chills down Steve's spine.

“I've always wondered… what would Underworld fire do to the Divine? Do you even have fire in the Silver City?”

Steve's throat goes dry. He'd try to back away but it seems he's forgotten how to move.

“No. Please.” He shakes his head. Pleads with a demon. “Don't burn me. Bucky… please, don't burn me…”

He will though if he really wants to. Funny thing is if Steve really truly didn't want him to, if this was something that was just really too much for him to take, Bucky… wouldn't.

Steve doesn't understand it, not one bit. Bucky likes to hurt him. Enjoys watching him writhe in the pain he causes--both physical and emotional. And Steve, though he really tries, can’t deny he enjoys it as well. Taking everything Bucky dishes out just to see if he can take some more.

But the sick, twisted truth of it is that somewhere deep inside, Steve is sure to the very depths of his Divinity that Bucky will never truly harm him. Demons may not have souls like angels do, but Steve would bet his own that if Bucky had one it would be pure and innocent.

Which is why he hasn't any problems with clinging to Bucky’s leg like a desperate man and pleading with him.

“Please.” He buries his face in Bucky’s inner thigh. “I'll be good. I promise.”

The only sounds in the room are the crackles of the black flames. They pop and snap, tormenting Steve from the holder Bucky’s put the torch in. Bucky’s been combing his fingers through Steve’s golden locks, just letting Steve clutch onto him as he weeps for the mercy he knows won’t come.

Minutes tick by. Minutes. Any flinch Bucky makes has Steve whimpering. Bucky must be loving this. So is Steve’s dick. Hard and flushed and leaking.

It happens fast. So fast Steve doesn’t even have the chance to realize it is until he’s looking up at the ceiling.

Bucky’s fingers knot in his hair and yank his head back. He tilts the candle -- black -- over. Wax dribbles down, lands right across Steve's belly.

There's a grin on Bucky’s face when the howl is ripped from Steve's lungs. He's never felt anything like this before. That sensation of something that's trying to sear through him. And then that something cooling and clinging with tiny, little spikes to his skin. It's both phenomenal and terrifying at the same time.

It sizzles, too. Interesting. Bucky must think so anyway since he continues to let the wax drop onto Steve’s chest. Drip, drip, drip. No matter how Steve writhes and twists -- and all the gets him is a tighter grip in his hair -- Bucky just lets drops of wax fall onto his chest. Fascinated, it would seem, by the white smoke it produces each time it hits.

“Bucky…” Steve whines when almost all of his upper chest is drizzled in a swirl of black, waxy patterns. “Please…”

Bucky so kindly gives him a reprieve. This, of course, simply means letting go of his hair so that Steve can fall flat on his back so Bucky can straddle his waist, plopping down like weight means absolutely nothing. He starts chipping away at the wax with one of his claws.

“I betchya you’re thinkin’ ‘bout all the things you burn could me with, huh?” he drawls. Licks his lips. “Hm? I can think of a few.”

Sacred Items, yes. People automatically jump to things like Holy Water and crosses, and they wouldn’t be wrong. They’re not exactly right, but they’re not wrong either. Any Sacred Item belonging to anyone of any faith would work so long as the wielder believes. Holy Water would do dick if the Priest holding it didn’t have some sort of faith.

But this is a thought that’s never once crossed Steve’s mind, not even today. That kind of burning and this kind are not the same. That would seriously injure Bucky.

It suddenly occurs to Steve -- laying there with Bucky straddled over him, elbow resting over his chest -- that he might offer himself as a sacrifice to this demon. It’s all wrong. He knows it is. But he’ll gladly be the lamb led to slaughter so long as it brings him to Bucky.

Twisted.

“C’mere,” Steve whispers. Gives a gentle tug behind Bucky’s neck to bring him closer--almost letting their brows touch. “I’d never do that to you.”

“Mm. You’re not getting sentimental on me,” Bucky asks, “are ya, angel?”

Bucky gives him one soft kiss before abruptly flipping him over and trying to get him into a kneeling position. Steve fights back this time. Resists against the position; tries to rear back and push up.

“Ooo,” Bucky coos as he wraps an arm around Steve’s waist in an attempt still him. “Someone wants to fight tonight, doesn’t he.”

Steve glares over his shoulder. “Fuck you.”

“Oh, no no no.” Bucky shakes his head. “That’s what I’m going to do.”

Heaving himself upward, Steve manages to push enough of Bucky’s weight off of him to roll them over. Once on top, Steve anchors his body with his wings and is able to pin Bucky’s hands above his head. Unfair, maybe, given the fact that Bucky doesn’t have wings, but, then again, he is the one who started this. Today, anyway.

The position, leaning over to keep Bucky’s hands down -- because if Steve gives even an inch, Bucky’ll take it -- places Steve very close to his face. Their breaths mix. And that cool, confident expression of Bucky’s is absent. His breathing is hard and heavy through flared nostrils. His jaw, crushed. His eyes narrowed in on Steve as if he plans to rip him apart if he ever gets loose.

Seems he’s a bit unhappy with the turn of events. With Steve’s upper hand. Steve leans in just a little more so he can whisper something into Bucky’s ear.

My turn.” Then it suddenly occurs to Steve that just because something deep inside him makes him feel perfectly sure that Bucky won’t hurt him, that doesn’t mean Bucky feels the same way. This, he whispers, too. “You can tell me to stop, Bucky. You know that, right?”

Bucky jerks his gaze in Steve’s direction. Eyes locked, Bucky’s mouth slowly curls up into a sneer. He licks his teeth and at the same thrusts his hips up into Steve’s.

It catches Steve by surprise, almost enough to flip them again, but he manages to keep that from happening. He shakes his head with a snicker. Starts to grind, lightly at first, over Bucky. Bucky might still be wearing pants, but Steve can still feel the erection trying to push through.

There’s exactly one hitch to Bucky’s breathing. One slipped expression from cool and controlled to aroused and wanting something to be done about it. One tiny sound in the back of his throat.

Then nothing.

He sucks in a deep breath to control his breathing, trains his eyes on Steve’s, and doesn’t make a sound.

“Oh.” Steve snickers. “Think you can keep that up, do you?”

Bucky doesn’t answer. All he does is grin and bare it. He shivers slightly, but then again, Steve hasn’t really gotten started. Steve keeps it up; slowly dry humping over Bucky’s lap, gradually falling into a nice, even rhythm that pulls little beads of sweat across Bucky’s brow.

Under him, Steve can feel Bucky’s restraint begin to loosen. The more he moves, faster and with more pressure now, the more difficult it seems for Bucky to try not to move in sync with him. His face twists ever so slightly and when Steve lifts his hips away, Bucky releases such a heavy breath it sounds as though it’s literally been stolen right out of his body.

“Aw, what’s the matter?” Steve teases. “Didn’t expect that?”

Out of breath and panting, Bucky looks up at him with nonplussed and dazed eyes--like he’s not so sure what exactly just happened.

“You know,” Steve comments, “You’re cute when you're confused.”

Bucky scoffs. Mutters, “You’re gonna pay for this.”

“Yeah.” Steve nods. “I know it.”

That doesn’t stop him from going back to doing exactly what he was doing. Falling into the same rhythm that gets Bucky’s face to contort and hips to move just to yank it away from him.

By the fifth time, Bucky grinds his teeth and lets out a low, frustrated growl. Claws dig into Steve’s hands, deep enough that he needs to hold in a hiss so that Bucky doesn’t know it hurts.

“You know what I want,” Steve says. “Come on, Bucky. I know you can do it.”

No.”

Steve chuckles and shakes his head. “You sure?”

He grinds quicker and harder, even pulling a few tiny gasp from Bucky’s lips.

“Steve…”

“Just one little word, Bucky,” Steve whispers. “That’s all it takes.”

Bucky squirms once and then huffs. “Okay. Okay, okay. P… Pl… Ple…”

The whole world is suddenly turned upside down. One second Steve’s on the verge of getting what he wants--Bucky muttering that one word he hates to say, but will every now and then. Please. Steve’ll ring it out of him sometimes, as he thought he was just about to.

Instead, his ears are ringing, his head is spinning and he’s on his knees with his wrists locked behind his back.

He let himself be vulnerable, damn it. Just for a split second, thinking he was going to get what he wanted and this is the consequences.

“Comfy, angel?”

Cheek squished firmly into the floor, Steve attempts to shake it, only to make a squeaking sound across the hardwoods.

“No,” he grumbles. “Not really.”

“Mm, what a shame.” Bucky slaps a hand down on Steve’s left cheek. “Spread ‘em, Steve. Nice and wide.”

Holding in a whine, Steve grabs hold of ass and pulls his cheeks apart. Best he can. Which isn’t all that much given the awkward position he’s been put in.

“Well?” he mutters when nothing happens for a good solid minute. “What’re you waiting for? Are you gonna fuck me or what?”

“Patience, angel.” Bucky chuckles. Circles a finger outside Steve’s needy, waiting hole. “Isn’t that one of the virtues your kind is always going on about? Don’t move.”

No, Steve won’t. The fight is over now and Bucky’s plainly won and if Steve doesn’t get fucked soon he might explode. Probably wasn’t the wisest decision to antagonize the demon.

Bucky doesn’t keep him waiting. What he does is worse. His tongue -- rough, hot, moist -- circles around the outside of Steve’s tight hole. A shiver crawls up Steve’s spine as Bucky continues to just lavish to spot with teasing licks and soft suckles. Nothing more, nothing less. It takes all Steve has not to let go so he can just revel in the pleasure but he doesn’t dare.

“Wider, angel,” Bucky damn near commands. “I wanna taste all of you.”

This time, Steve does release that whine. Softer than the moans from Bucky’s ministrations, but loud enough to be heard. Besides, he’s already stretched as far as he can go. At least, as far as he knows.

“I… I ca--”

“If you say you can’t,” Bucky threatens, “you’re gonna be in for a world of hurt.”

“Okay,” Steve groans. “Okay, okay.”

Steve spreads his knees a little more, feels the burn between them and hopes that makes him wide enough for approval.

It must work, too, since Bucky dives right back in, licking stripes across his hole but refusing to delve deep inside. Bucky doesn’t stop, not even to take a breath. All Steve is left to do is to kneel there and hand himself over to the unrelenting teasing Bucky’s putting him through. Not giving him anywhere near what Steve wants and it's hard enough not to beg for something he knows he won't receive let alone keep himself from pushing back to try to get some. Heaven, help him if he did that.

“Bucky…” Steve whines as the demon's tongue continues to just circle around Steve's fluttering hole. He barely gets the next word past his lips. “Please…”

There's a laugh behind him, a snicker that makes him both whimper and groan and, fuck, if he could just slam his fist into the floor out of frustration…

But he can't. He can't because this son of a bitch demon won't let him let go of his own ass cheeks. It's mortifying and subjugating and all Steve does moan and beg for more.

Which he suddenly gets when Bucky licks long and hard right over his hole. Steve is so shocked by the sudden change in sensation he yelps and almost jumps, but Bucky must be ready for this and holds him down.

“You wanted more, angel,” he says. “Now you’re gonna get more.”

Remarkable pleasure flies through Steve’s body as Bucky starts to lick with so much vigor it’s like he’s never tasted anything sweeter in his life. All Steve wants to do as he kneels there drooling onto the floor is slam his palms down, but he can’t even do that. If he moves, even an inch, Steve knows there will be consequences. But, oh, oh, it feels so good. He squirms and twitches, his cock throbbing between his legs with nothing to give it any bit of relief.

And Bucky is just relentless today, his tongue darting in and out, licking flat stripes along Steve’s tight, quivering muscle. He just doesn’t stop, and any time Steve feels close to coming, Bucky eases off just enough so that he can’t.

Steve begs. For what, he’s not sure. Maybe to come. Maybe to stop. He just keeps screaming please and Bucky’s name over and over again. Bucky’s eaten him out before, left Steve shaking in the aftermath of whatever this is, but this time it’s different. This is time, it’s like Bucky is determined to drive Steve to madness.

“Oh, fuck!” Steve wails when two fingers slip in alongside Bucky’s tongue. “Oh, please, Bucky, please!” His wing begins to pound on the floor. “I-ah, I’m gonna… Bucky, m’gonna come, Bucky, I can’t…”

This time, Bucky doesn’t slow down. He even reaches around to grab hold of Steve’s dick, squeezes tight enough it hurts, and starts pumping away.

Steve howls, head tossed back and eyes tear-filled, his entire body teaming with overstimulation.

That growing orgasm rushes forward and nothing Steve does now can stop it. It rolls through him, sending him to the brightest skies and purest ecstasy. All the worlds as he knows them white out and all Steve knows is a few seconds of singular pleasure.

Alls still around him. Everything is quiet as Steve’s orgasm ebbs out. He’s collapsed onto the floor. Panting. Covered in sweat and his own release. One of his wings is folded over him. Steve has no idea where Bucky’s gone.

He tries to lift his head, weakly gets it up part way before it falls back down with a small clunk. Strange. The only time Bucky leaves is under the pretense of taking a shower right after they’re through so that Steve can see himself out. But he at least does something beforehand. An okay well this was fun, till next time sort of thing.

Just when Steve’s about to call out for him, a shoed-foot presses hard on his shoulder and rolls him onto his back. Standing over him is Bucky, wearing a sly smirk that sends chunks of ice rolling down Steve’s spine. Brain still whirling from everything they just did, Steve barely has the chance to realize that Bucky moves in for him until it’s too late.

“Get over here,” Bucky growls.

One second Steve’s on the floor, naked and shiver and somehow beginning to grow with more want again, the next he’s on his feet with Bucky’s hand around his throat. Still naked. Still shivering. Still somehow beginning to grow with more want again.

Bucky whispers in his ear, “You didn’t think I was through with you, did you?”

“Bucky, I… what the fuck?”

Steve hisses in pain upon realizing his arms are tied behind his back. That’s not where the pain’s come from though, no, it’s at his wrists. Some… coil. A coil that tiny spikes spring out of anytime Steve tries to pull his wrists apart far enough.

“Like ‘em?” Bucky chuckles. “I brought them here special for you.”

Without giving Steve a chance to reply, Bucky lunges forward and throws Steve over his shoulder. He gives one hard slap to Steve’s ass cheek -- it makes Steve gasp and jerk up -- grabbing onto it and scratching before letting go. Then, with Steve still over his shoulder, Bucky carries him, to all places, his bedroom.

Steve’s never seen Bucky’s bedroom before. To be honest, his expectation of Bucky’s bedroom was stone walls and torches. Whips and chains and cages. A place of pure unadulterated sex, day and night.

But actually it’s quite… normal. Buchanan normal. Like the living room, it’s extravagant and ostentatious, but it’s drenched in sunlight and has a beautiful king-sized bed made up of silk linens--a golden chandelier hangs over it. Three bookshelves line the walls of this room. There’s a writing desk in the corner and even a red grand piano.

“Are you gonna take these things off of me now?” Steve asks when Bucky sets him back on his feet.

“I dunno. I kinda like you like this.” Bucky starts to circle around him and Steve does what he can to keep his eye on him, having to quickly turn his head from one side to the other. “I can do… anything I want, can’t I?”

No,” Steve says when Bucky stops behind him. “Don’t you--”

“I can tickle you.”

Fingers immediately dig into Steve’s ribs and Steve rears back with forced laughter.

“Bucky, stop! Oh, please, stop,” Steve begs through bursts of uncontrolled giggles. “Don’t tickle me! Please!”

Bucky eases up and steps around him so that he’s in front of Steve again. He grins while Steve pants and whimpers when Bucky’s hands come near him again, afraid of tickling fingers. Only Bucky changes tactics.

“I can twists these lovely nipples.”

He takes them both between his fingers. Twists and rolls and squeezes. Even lets claws bite into them and it’s all Steve can do not to fold into himself and weep around abused flesh.

“How about down here?” Bucky abandons the torment on Steve’s nipples only to bring his fingers down to Steve’s testicles. “Still sensitive?”

The answer to that is a resounding yes, and Steve gives it to him in a high-pitched cry.

To make matters worse, every pull at his arms is a bite at his wrists. Steve’s entire body is stinging from something. He can’t escape it and the truth is, he wouldn’t even if he could. Steve could be on fire with Bucky and barely even notice the flames.

“Don’t move, angel,” Bucky murmurs as he reaches around Steve’s body. “Lemme get those off you. And then I’m gonna use you till you can’t stand it.”

The moment, the second, the instant Steve’s wrists are free he’s flinging himself at Bucky. He can’t help himself. Every inch of his body needs him. To feel him. To be touched by him.

Their kisses are rushed and fevered, like two people who’ve never kissed before and never will again. Steve’s momentum has pushed them back into the piano, so hard that it’s shoved them and it against the wall. The instrument’s kind enough to play a quick, off-key melody when it crashes.

“Bucky,” Steve moans between kisses. “Fuck me. Please.”

“Mm.” Bucky chuckles and starts to kiss down Steve’s neck. “Tell me you want me.”

Steve tilts his head back, baring his throat for a predator and willing to take whatever he gets.

“I want you.”

Bucky’s kicked his shoes off. One’s landed by a bookcase, the other’s disappeared somewhere Steve didn’t see.

“Tell me you need me.”

Steve whimpers when Bucky starts kissing lower, working his way down to his belly.

“I need you,” he whispers. “I need you, Bucky. Please…”

“Yeah?”

He’s back up now, resuming their hasty kissing while Steve loses patience and starts working Bucky’s belt buckle.

Yes,” Steve answer, mouth still pressed up against his. “Yes, yes. Now fuck me!”

The response he gets to that is a hard shove against the chest. It pushes him up in the air and Steve crashes down right in the middle of Bucky’s bed. Steve picks his head up just in time to catch the blur that’s Bucky racing towards him. He grabs Steve’s ankles and pulls him to the edge of the bed.

“Fuck you, huh?” Bucky asks. “Stevie angel? I’m gonna fuck you so good you’re not gonna be able to stand for a week.”

Now that Steve’s undone Bucky’s belt, all Bucky’s gotta do is take his pants off. But he doesn’t do it the conventional way. No. Not Bucky. He lets the tips of his fingers run along the sides of them and Steve watches in sheer awe and a smidge of horror as they’re singed away to nothing but ash.

Bucky stands above him. Undressed. Silhouetted in sunlight. An unholy abandon to anything pure and innocent. Sin incarnate.

And Steve will do anything to have him.

He crawls over Steve, the mattress barely shifting with his added weight. Steve shivers in waiting. Needing. Bucky teases him with a soft kiss, lifting away before Steve can really get one.

“Bucky,” Steve whines. “Please…”

“You ready for me?”

Steve nods. Yes, yes, and more yes. He’ll scream it at the top of his lungs if that’s what Bucky wants.

That’s not what Bucky asks for. Bucky doesn’t ask for anything. He just enters Steve’s body without warning. With just one hard shove and he’ll all the way in.

A scream is wretched from Steve’s lungs. The burn. The stretch. The unexpected sensation of both. It’s enough to drive him wild. Bucky holds still for a moment, possibly just to watch Steve, possibly to let Steve get used to the stretch. Steve assumes it’s the latter but, he can never be sure.

Either way, he doesn’t start rocking his hips until Steve looks at him, eye to eye, and nods. Slowly at first, but quickly gaining momentum, the backboard thumping against the wall.

Every thrust is better than the last. Steve can’t imagine anything feeling better than this. He’s not even sure what to do. What to touch. Where to look.

He reaches over him for something to hold onto. Ends up ripping a pillow in half when Bucky slams right into his prostate and when the stars clear, there’re feathers raining down around them. Steve can hear the sheets tear, though he doesn’t think that one is him.

When Steve does look at Bucky, he finds him staring down at him, right into his eyes. Covered in sweat and panting hard, Bucky doesn’t avert his gaze when Steve looks, so neither does Steve. He… can’t. Steve finds himself completely transfixed in that gaze. It’s like Bucky has one single goal in his endless life and that’s to pound into Steve, right here, right now.

As if able to read his mind, that smirk of Bucky’s turns up the corners of his mouth and he snakes an arm under Steve’s back. He lifts, something he’s never done before and lets Steve drop back onto him. Bucky’s never been in so deep before, Steve’s never felt so full. His eyes roll back, a gasp catches in his throat, and he just can’t control himself any longer.

One flap of his wings has them up them in the air. They slam into the ceiling and Bucky, snickering, is still thrusting. Plunging deeper and deeper as they roll through the air.

“Yes, yes, yes,” Steve can’t help but moan. “Yes, Bucky, yes… more… more… oh, fuck, more… please… don’t stop…”

“Didn’t plan on it,” Bucky says and pushes them back down to the bed. The force of them falling back onto it makes the frame creak and crack, possibly even break, Steve’s not sure.

“Oh, right there!” Steve shouts when Bucky lifts his leg over his shoulder. “Yes, yes! Yes!”

Something else unexpected happens. Bucky wraps his fingers in Steve’s hair again. That, in and of itself, is not strange. Not unusual, he’s done it many times in the past. Many times today, in fact. What’s unusual about it now is that he uses the grip in Steve’s hair as an anchor to pull himself down and kiss Steve.

Bucky’s kissing Steve while fucking him and he’s never done that before and Steve doesn’t know what to think. He can’t even feel anything beyond the electricity buzzing through him. Steve instinctively throws his arms around Bucky’s neck, his wings wrapping around them both.

With Bucky’s tongue still rolling around with his, Steve is incapable of doing anything but making animalistic sounds as he gets nearer and nearer to climaxing.

And when it hits, when Steve can no longer hold back and glimmering bliss rolls over him once more, all he can do is scream into Bucky’s mouth.

Everything glitters all around him. Almost like The Silver City and nothing like The Silver City at all. This is something new. Something different. Like feeling himself from the inside out.

Steve is only vaguely aware that Bucky’s stopped kissing him now, and that he’s about to pull out. He finished with a grunt and, maybe, if Steve wasn’t dreaming, the whisper of his name falling from his lips. But if Bucky’s finished, if he’s pulling out, then that means…

“No, wait…” Steve snatches hold of Bucky’s wrist yet finds his arm tingly and wobbly. “Please… don’t…”

“Don’t?” Bucky, who was, just as Steve suspected, moving away from the bed and for the door, tries to pull his arm back. Steve tightens his grip. “Don’t what, Steve?”

Weakness descends upon Steve. He doesn’t know where it comes from, but it covers him like scattered drops of rain splashing down over someone who’s lost their way.

“Please, don’t leave.” He gives a tug. A feeble attempt to bring the demon back to the bed with him. “Don’t leave me.”

The crack in his voice makes him feel utterly pathetic. The tears that fall make him feel worse. Bucky doesn’t seem very fazed by either. He just pulls his wrist free and… disappears.

Steve doesn’t know what’s wrong with him, he really doesn’t, but the tears come on hard and strong. This hasn’t ever happened before, so he certainly never expected it and he’s wildly unprepared for such a thing. All he feels capable of doing is curling up in this bed and bawling. He can’t even find the strength or dignity to look for clothes to change into.

There’s an ache in his chest. Something empty. A hole that’s been chiseled out which may never be filled.

Except by the hand that rests gently over his head. Steve tenses and lifts his watery eyes to see Bucky standing above him. He’s wearing a black, silk shirt and nothing more, and, at first, Steve thinks he’s going to tell him to leave. Kick him out so that he can sleep. But instead of that, Bucky rolls Steve over onto his back and starts cleaning him off with a warm washcloth.

This takes a moment to process. Not only the fact that Bucky is cleaning him, but is so soft and careful about doing so, and the expression on his face--Steve’s never seen that look in his eyes before. Concern. Maybe even guilt. Even once or twice, maybe, in a quick glance, seeking affirmation in whether or not he was doing this right--doing good.

By the time he’s finished, Steve’s sobs have ebbed out to mostly a few stray tears and sniffles and hiccups. Bucky peals the blankets back and gets Steve underneath them, then pauses as he starts to get in with him like he’s not sure if that’s what he should do. Funny. Bucky’s always so sure of himself. Right now he looks like a frightened kitten searching to right a wrong.

Steve shifts in the bed to make room and Bucky takes that as his cue to climb in with him. Once he’s there, Steve makes the next move, knowing for certain that if he doesn’t, Bucky won’t. He scoots closer, so quickly that it’s sure to startle Bucky -- by the quiet gasp, does -- and right into his arms.

It’s up to Bucky to do the rest. Steve, still as he can be -- and never as still as a demon can be, as tense as Bucky is underneath him right now -- holds his breath, hoping Bucky does. It takes several, aching moments, but finally, Bucky does wrap his arms around him. Holds him close, right up against his heart. Slowly, but surely, the tension begins the fade away, and Bucky even pets a hand over Steve’s hair, kisses the top of his head, sways gently.

“I didn’t hurt you, angel,” he asks eventually, quietly, as though appalled by the idea. “Did I?”

A soft grin touches Steve’s mouth. He kisses Bucky’s chest.

“Mm-mm. No.”

Bucky’s arms tighten just enough to be considered a hug. “Good.”

Evening slips in all around them, exchanging golden rays of sunshine for purple shadows that overlap and hide in the corners. Outside, a city that never sleeps continues to move as inside this room everything stills, just waiting.

It takes Steve a second or two for him to realize that he’s slept and woke and even slept again. Somehow, he’s managed to stay tangled up in Bucky’s limbs, but that’s just fine with him. Bucky, now, is asleep, too. Steve’s never seen him look so… at peace.

There’s no arrogance on his face, no motive, no… nothing. Just peace. As though normally he carries a burden on his shoulders that Steve never noticed before. If he’d noticed, he would’ve gladly offered to share some of it. All of it.

Steve, for one pure moment of insanity, wonders what it would be like if this was his life always. Here, in this demon’s arms. Just stillness while the rest of the world went on without them. Perhaps it would not be so bad. So long as he had Buchanan--his Bucky, his demon.

***

“Somebody help him!” he screams. “Do something!”

“Get him out of here.”

Bucky’s picked up by somebody. He doesn’t see who and he doesn’t care. He thrashes about, screaming to be put back down. That’s Steve in that bed. Unable to breathe because of the fever. Lips turning blue. Eyes rolling in the back of his head. He needs to get back to his friend. But he’s just tossed out of the cabin and into the snow. No coat. No golashes. No hat and gloves. Only his shirt and pants and long johns underneath, hell, he’s lucky he’s got socks on, but Bucky barely feels the cold.

He charges back up to the door only to find it locked. That doesn’t stop him. Bucky pounds on it. Pounds on hit hard and long, demanding to be let back in.

This isn’t supposed to be happening. Not the way it’s supposed to be. He made a deal. Bucky made sure this wasn’t going to happen to Steve, not his Steve, no.

“Something wrong, little boy?”

Fists sore and throat dry from hollering, Bucky spins around to see him. A ripple of fear shoots through him, just like it did when Bucky sought him out. Bucky’d heard the moms talking about it. About the man who lived out in the woods who did… favors for people.

“At hefty prices,” his mother had said. “Mark my word, my children would be gettin’ a whippin’ of a lifetime they ever were to wander into them woods like that.”

But Bucky wasn’t afraid of a whipping from his mother. Not when Steve got sick. Steve was his best friend. If other people were dying, then little Steve didn’t stand a chance. And Bucky wasn’t going to just watch the fever take him.

“Yes!” Bucky yells once the initial fear simmers a bit. It never truly leaves. Bucky’s not sure it ever will. “You promised!”

“I promised what, little boy?”

He’s eerily calm. Tall. Too thin. Handsome in all the right ways that could be charming when he wanted to be, Bucky was sure, even at the young age of twelve. His eyes were almost too dark and when he smiled it made Bucky want to smile in return, but he couldn’t, he just couldn’t. Steve was in there dying and he’d made a deal.

“Oh, interesting,” he says. “You have a very strong soul indeed.”

“You promised he wouldn’t die!”

“I promised nothing of the sort,” he says. “You asked me to make him stronger and so I shall.” He waves long fingers out to make Bucky turn back around. Even if he hadn’t, the light that beams around the house would have. “Behold.”

Bucky dashes back to the cabin and looks through the window. The light is blinding at first, but then he can see with it still there. It’s warm and comforting, too. Bucky doesn’t know how, but it is. And it’s coming from Steve.

There are two other people besides the doctors in there. They’re standing above Steve. Bucky doesn’t recognize them, he’s never seen them before. A black man and a red-headed white woman. Bucky’s just about to knock on the glass. Scream that there’re others in there, too when someone steps out of… Steve.

When Steve… only… not… Steve…

Bucky jerks back from the window and into the Man from the Woods who guides him back over.

“Just keep watching,” he says softly.

“What’s… what’s happening…”

“I told you, I’d make your friend strong,” he explains. “His frail body was never going to survive this lifetime. So I had some friends give him another. Instead of dying a human death and moving onto an afterlife, he’s been given the gift of Divinity.”

Bucky watches in either horror or awe, he can’t decide which, as beautiful white wings blossom out of this brand new Steve’s back. This Steve. Big and muscular. Healthy.

“He’s… he’s an angel?”

“That’s right.”

“But…” And Bucky abruptly starts crying. “But he’s dead. Steve is… he’s dead.”

Because there’s no one else here, and because no one else has come out, Bucky finds comfort in the only one he can. The Man from the Woods. Surprisingly, he puts his arms around him in a most kindly way.

“In a human fashion, yes.”

Bucky smothers his face and cries and cries and cries some more. The Man from the Woods never makes him move away. He just lets him shake and bawl and hold on to him for as long as he needs.

“Does this mean,” Bucky asks when a terrifying thought hits him, “that you’re here for my soul?”

The Man from the Woods laughs. “My dear boy, what on earth gives you that idea?”

Bucky sniffles and shrugs. The answer is his mother, but he doesn’t want to tell him that.

“No,” says The Man from the Wood. “I’m not here for your soul. You’ll live out your human life. You’ll have a wonderful guardian angel, too. Though, I’m afraid he won’t remember you.”

Shoulder falling, Bucky can feel the blood drain from his face. Any last shred of hope he of seeing Steve again was just clipped away.

“What? Why?”

“Angels must be free from human attachment. It isn’t my law, you see, but one I do see the sense in. We wouldn’t want someone playing favorites, would we?”

“But… how do I… pay you?”

The Man from the Woods grinned. “Live your life, little boy. The best you can. I’ll collect payment from you afterward. I believe you’ll serve me well.”

Buchanan wakes with a gasp in his throat and blanketed in velvet shadows. A pair of bright blue eyes blink twice. Centuries of instinct see him turning defensive. His left arm, which was removed upon his death, glazes over with metal and ice--fire within. No one would know the flesh one was the fake one without him showing them.

Many souls have tried to escape Hell. It’s Buchanan’s job to bring them back. Many souls have reason to want revenge. No way will Buchanan let them. He moves to strike.

“Bucky?”

Only that voice has the power to stop the Fist of Hell right in his tracks. Buchanan nearly chokes on his breath. Releases his fist and draws the defenses back. Pulls flesh back out. The fake. The lie. All the lies. To Steve. His best friend.

That life feels like a blip in his existence, but it’s the time that stands out the most above all others. He doesn’t mind being a demon. He even likes Lucifer. The Man in the Woods. As fucked up as that is. Maybe there was always something fucked up inside of Bucky. But he did what he needed to. To save Steve. The world is a better place with Steve in it.

“The world needs you in it too, Buchanan,” Lucifer reminds him sometimes. “You’re job is necessary for balance.”

It makes Buchanan laugh. Getting life -- or afterlife -- advice from the Devil. If only his mother could see him. Hopefully, she’d understand, too.

“Bucky?” Steve repeats. “Are you--”

“I’m here, Steve,” he murmurs. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah. You were sleeping.”

“I was dreaming.”

“About?”

Buchanan smirks. “You.”

Well, at least it’s not a lie. Even if it does make Steve snort and roll his eyes as though he doesn’t believe him. How’s that for irony.

“I dream about you sometimes,” Steve tells him. “I’m sure it’s you. I just don’t know why I call you Bucky. Did you ever go by Bucky? Really?”

A lump grows in Buchanan’s throat. It hadn’t taken very long to find Steve after becoming a demon. Lucifer said he didn’t care what he did with him. Over the past several hundred years, Buchanan’s been keeping it mostly to witty banter. Frenemies, he thinks the humans call it. But recently, he has no idea what came over him. Maybe he saw the way Steve and some other angel were flirting, which is awfully possessive of him, yes, he admits it, but he just needed to have him. And then today. With the kissing and the holding…

“I don’t know,” Buchanan lies. “Maybe in another lifetime.”

Steve studies his face for a few moments and then smiles. Triumphant and proud.

“What?” Buchanan asks. “What is it?”

“You’re lying to me.”

“What? No, I’m--”

“Yes.” Steve nods. “You are. I don’t know why, but you are.” He places a soft hand on Buchanan’s cheek and Buchanan can’t help himself, his eyes close. “You can trust me, you know that, right?”

“Steve, I…” He opens his eyes. “Yeah… Yeah, I know. It’s… been a long time. Since I, um… since I took care of anyone. Since I let anyone… in.”

“Well…” Steve moves slowly and presses a soft kiss to Buchanan’s mouth. “You’re good at it.”

He starts to move then like he’s going to get out of the bed and Buchanan panics. For the first time in, he can’t remember when, he doesn’t want this bed to be empty post-sex. Buchanan wraps his arms around Steve’s waist and pulls him back in.

“I’m not kicking you out, you know,” he says. “You can stay.”

Steve chuckles and glances over his shoulder. “Yeah? You sure?”

He reaches up and gives one of Buchanan’s horns of delicate stroke. Buchanan wonders if Steve’s always wanted to do that and just never did before. He’d’ve let him if he asked. No one else in the world would he let touch them, but Steve he would.

“I’m sure. You can stay.”

“Okay. Then, I’ll stay.”

They get comfortable again, even when Steve points out that they may have broken the bed. Buchanan just shrugs it off and says he’ll buy a new one. When Steve folds his wings over them, Buchanan takes to petting his hand over the feathers. Almost like Steve had done with his horn. They’re soft and quiver slightly, pleasantly, he thinks, under his touch.

“Buchanan?” Buchanan flicks his gaze back to Steve after they’ve been quiet and just in each other’s company for some time. “Do I… do I mean anything to you?”

The question hits Buchanan like a ton of brick. Everything freezes. He’s so wholly unprepared that his brain starts firing away a million things to say. All of them lies. And Buchanan knows what he has to say.

“No.”

Steve’s face falls, his eyes filling with tears he tries to blink away before they fall. He nods as though that’s understandable and tries to say something, but before he can utter a word, Buchanan takes his chin, gently, between his fingers.

“You mean everything to me, Steve.”

One of those tears do fall. Steve’s lip is trembling. He looks back at Buchanan like he doesn’t know if he should burst into tears or song.

“What does this mean, Bucky?”

“I don’t know, Steve,” he says. “All I know is that, right now, I want you to stay.”

Steve nods. Whispers, “Okay.”

“Okay.”

Buchanan wraps Steve up in his arms again. Steve folds his wings around them. The moon is coming up and with it, nighttime. A time that can be just theirs. No one else has to know. The world can keep on turning while one demon finally finds peace with the angel he’s loved since he was a little boy.