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It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

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shrunky5

A small thump from the floor above Bucky caused him to freeze and strain his ears; when he didn't hear anything he turned his attention back to the pan of ground beef on the stove. There was another, louder thump a moment later, followed by screaming.

Bucky turned the stove off and shoved the pan onto a cold burner before quickly leaving the kitchen. The screaming grew louder the further up the stairs he climbed, though it was muffled; likely the girls were in one of their rooms. When he reached the second floor Hanna was sitting on the floor looking down at her phone. She glanced up at Bucky as he approached.

“What are they going on about now?” he asked.

Hanna shrugged.

“I wasn't really paying attention. Becca barged into the room so I left.”

Honestly, Bucky couldn't blame her.

He sighed and opened the door to Abigail's room, wincing as the yelling grew exponentially louder as he did. Rebecca was sitting on Abby, the younger girl struggling to free herself from her older sister's grasp as the two screamed at each other.

“-your fat shoulders don't even fit into it anymore so I don't see why it's such a-”

“Shut up! My shoulders aren't fat and it's my shirt so I don't care if I can still fit into it or not you can't just take it!” Rebecca yelled, cutting of Abigail's insult.

Bucky could see Abigail taking in a breath to scream back and decided he didn't really care about her argument. He whistled loudly enough to grab their attention and almost laughed at how comical they looked when they both froze to peer over at him.

“Rebeca, get off of Abigail,” he demanded, only to be immediately met by arguing.

“She took my Fall Out Boy shirt, Bucky!” Rebecca whined just as Abigail started yelling about Rebecca's “fat ass” crushing her.

“Rebecca, I don’t care what she took, get off Abigail,” Bucky snapped, pleased to see his little sister comply under his stern gaze.

Abigail flailed slightly when Rebecca - none too gently - got up and the two scowled at each other as they situated themselves on opposite sides of the room.

“Abigail, give your sister her shirt back,” he sighed, not really in the mood to referee one of their spats.

Bucky didn't understand why Abigail and Rebecca fought so much while Hanna and Rebecca managed to get along for the most part. Abigail and Hanna were twins, but their looks were where the similarities ended.

“She doesn't even fit into it anymore, she got it when she was like twelve and now her boobs are too big so it rides up her stomach.”

Rebecca opened her mouth but Bucky cut her off.

“Abby, I don't care if it fits her or not. It's her shirt that she paid for with her money and you have to ask to use it. Now please give it back so I can go back downstairs and finish dinner,” he implored, wondering if he could use sheer willpower to fight off the inevitable headache this would cause.

She sighed, but pulled the shirt from where she had hidden it and reluctantly gave it back to Rebecca, who looked smug the entire time.

“Rebecca, I don't want to hear a word from you, got it?”

Rebecca rolled her eyes, but nodded before brushing past him and leaving the room. Bucky gave Abby a pointed look before turning and leaving the room himself. When he passed Hanna in the hallway again she stood up without looking up from her phone and walked back into the room she shared with Abby, closing the door behind her.

 

 

Bucky was mixing the finished ground beef in with the spaghetti and sauce when he heard the front door being unlocked, signaling that his ma was home. He made sure the burners were turned off before finding his way into the living room, where she was tucking her work bag away in the front coat closet. She was in jeans and a light sweater, having changed before leaving the hospital as she usually did, and stooped to take her shoes off, steadying herself by holding Bucky's arm when he got close enough.

“You're just in time, dinner is ready,” he told her, smiling as she straightened up again.

“Someone finally moved into the house next door,” she said, patting him on his shoulder and walking into the kitchen.

“Nice to see you too Ma,” he called, rolling his eyes.

“Stop being sardonic. I see you every day; I've been waiting to see who was going to move in since they started renovating the place three months ago,” she returned, speaking loud enough to be heard from the kitchen.

All of the neighborhood moms had waited on bated breath to see who would move into the house next to them. It sat empty for years and then suddenly a few months ago a renovation team showed up and started tearing it apart. Bucky knew his ma was half curious and half jealous on account of how much she hated their kitchen. He was a bit curious himself, but was generally more concerned with keeping his sisters from murdering each other and preventing his ma from working herself into an early grave than he was with worrying about the neighbors. It would provide the neighborhood with some excitement for about a week before becoming old news, so Bucky wasn't planning on caring about it all that much. He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, knowing it wouldn't do anything to help the headache that had manifested over the past ten minutes.

“Dinner's ready!” he hollered up the stairs, waiting for the sounds of his sisters moving before he made his way back into the kitchen.

Dinner was as much of a ruckus as usual, but it was difficult for it not to be with five people at the table. The girls all tried to talk over each other, eager to share any drama they'd heard throughout the day in between bites of food. When they were silent, Ma took up the mantle and told stories from the ER that were just shy of being too gross. Bucky only commented on what the others had to say, not really able to talk much about what he was doing at the robotics lab. By the time they were cleaning up his headache had ramped up and he wanted nothing more than to lay down with his lights off. Even so, he wouldn't change his family for anything.

-

 

 

Bucky was thirty, lived at home, and was not embarrassed to say so. He'd gone away to college at eighteen, graduated, and moved out on his own. Then his father died and he realized that he could support himself or his family, but not both. His mother was an ER nurse at NYU Langone, meaning she had long, often inconvenient hours and wasn't paid nearly enough to support three kids on only her salary. It hadn't been a hard choice to make when Bucky decided to move back home. He thought at first that he would be sacrificing a lot to help out, but after three years he had learned that he wasn't really giving up anything important. His family was his life. He dedicated most of his time to either his job or sisters, but that wasn't to say that he didn't try to take some time for himself; if he didn't, he would probably go crazy.

 

 

It was a weekend, which meant Bucky didn't get up for his morning run until eight, rather than his weekday time of five-thirty. He didn't exactly spring out of bed, but it was a close thing; Bucky was a morning person, something that Becca constantly cursed him for. There was already sunlight streaming through the windows, which he used to find his way around without having to turn any lights on.

His room was on the third story of their house (a single family attached unit, end of the row). Years ago, when Bucky's great grandfather owned the place, the attic had been converted into a fourth bedroom with a kitchenette and en suite bathroom. The family rented it out to help make ends meet back during the Depression- or so the story went. Bucky's parents followed their example, usually renting for cheap to college kids, until his mother became pregnant with the twins. After that it was Bucky's room; Rebecca moved into his room (only because was slightly larger than her own) and the twins took up Becca's old room. When he moved out to go to college they never rented it out again, leaving the space so Bucky could come home during holidays and have a guaranteed place to stay. Now it provided Bucky with some semblance of privacy and the ability to separate himself from his sisters when he needed a break, which he did. Often.

Bucky got ready for his workout and tried not to think about what needed to be done around the house. His mornings were for him, or so he constantly tried to tell himself. He pushed thoughts of chores to the back of his mind as he tied his hair up and found a headband to keep the shorter pieces out of his face. Once he was content with it he climbed quietly down the stairs to the first floor, where he pulled his running shoes on. Bucky fixed his phone into the armband Abby had gotten him for his twenty-ninth birthday and closed the door quietly on his way out. After making sure he locked the front door, he turned and walked down their stoop where he stretched. He waved to Mr. Crenshaw across the street. The man was sitting with his coffee and a cigarette like he did every Sunday since Bucky was twelve. When his stretching was done, he took off at a light jog, not giving much thought to the house next door.

Shore Park was roughly a mile and a half from Bucky's house and he loved going there Sunday mornings the best because even at eight the place was mostly empty. Since people were either at church or sleeping in on the last day of their weekend there were only a few joggers and the occasional dog walker. Bucky smiled to himself as he ran along the bay. It was chilly that morning, but not quite enough that Bucky felt the need for pants or long sleeves. The weather would change soon though as the end of the year approached.

He looked out over the bay as he ran, content with his music and the thudding of his own feet on the concrete for company. When Bucky reached what he considered “his spot” (it was right next to a set of pull up bars) he fell into the usual workout of push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and pull ups, allowing himself to take longer than he usually would on weekdays. Once he was finished, Bucky jogged back the way he came, stopping to pet a dog before he headed home.

 

 

Bucky wasn't surprised to find his ma up and about when he returned to the house. She was on her second day off of three, but got up as if she were working so she didn't mess up her sleep schedule. He was, however, surprised to see her mixing up dough for chocolate chip cookies at nine-thirty in the morning.

“Now I know those aren't for us,” he teased, placing a hand on the small of her back as he moved past her to the fridge to grab a bottle of water.

She looked over and glared at him as Bucky sucked down half of the water, raising his eyebrows at her as he did.

“They're for the next door neighbor? Neighbors?” she asked, like perhaps he had seen something on his jaunt out of the house.

Bucky shrugged at her, gaining an eye roll before she turned back to stirring the dough with a bit more vigor.

“I gotta say I'm impressed you waited this long,” Bucky said after draining the rest of his bottle.

He could see his ma holding back her lecture about how chugging water didn't help at all, but she didn't actually say anything, choosing instead to brandish the wooden spoon she was using at him.

“You hush your mouth,” she told him, scowling.

Bucky knew she probably would have tried this sooner, except Yom Kippur had been on Monday and every day since then his mother was busy with work and trying to defend herself against her own mother who constantly called to ask why they hadn't made the trip upstate.

His bubbe didn't care when his ma told her she couldn't get the time off. They still went to the Sunday night service, but because she didn't see it, it apparently never happened. It didn't matter that it had been that way since Bucky's father died, his ma was still given a hard time about it. Ma wasn't able to take time off like when his father was alive. Now they mostly saw his grandmother for a day or two during Chanukah, or over Thanksgiving if they could make it.

“It's okay Ma, I'm sure you're not the first to try and bring them something. I know that Mrs. Klein probably brought down the full force of her blackberry pie on whatever poor soul decided it was a good idea to move into this neighborhood,” he assured her, keeping an eye on the spoon in case she decided his knuckles needed a smack or two.

Her scowl didn't lessen any, but she did lower the spoon which Bucky counted as a win.

“It's polite and yes, a tad nosy, but I want to know who's moved in,” she huffed, “I'm still raising kids and I want to make sure we don't have an asshat living in the neighborhood.”

Bucky shoved the bottle into the recycling bin and made a note to take it out to the curb for tomorrow before he moved to hug his ma from behind. He resisted the urge to tell her it was too late because the Wesleys had lived there for over a decade with their demon children.

“I'm sorry, I'll stop giving you a hard time,” he said instead, looking over her shoulder at the bowl of dough; she had used both milk chocolate and white chocolate chips.

Ma turned around and put her hands on his shoulders, looking up at him. She was over a head shorter than he was and when he looked at her like this he couldn't help but see all the wrinkles on her face that were probably his fault.

“Sometimes I not sure if I like it better when you sass me or not, because you apologizing is almost as bad.”

He smiled softly at her, lulled into a false sense of security by her gentle tone, which meant he didn't get out of the way soon enough when she popped him on the side of the head.

“Now get out, you're stinking up my kitchen, I can't believe you hugged me when you're all sweaty. Nasty boy,” she chided, turning him fully and giving him a soft smack to his thigh to get him moving.

Bucky cackled his way out of the kitchen, but was careful to keep it down as he wandered back up to his room. He didn't want to wake his sisters since they wouldn't be up for another hour, at least.

 

 

When Bucky was showered and changed he headed back downstairs, this time with the smell of cookies wafting through the air. As he was walking past Becca's door it opened and his little sister squinted at him from her still dark room, her curly hair pulled up into a haphazard bun on top of her head, strands of it spilling out of the tie.

“Why does it smell like cookies at...” she paused to look down at her phone, “Oh man are you kidding me, it's not even eleven yet.”

He laughed at her and the squint turned into a glare.

“Ma's making cookies to bring the neighbor,” he told her, which apparently wasn't a good enough answer for her.

Becca sucked on her teeth, an act which would have had their ma chastising her, before shutting her door without another word, presumably to go back to sleep. Bucky chuckled to himself and continued onwards; he was used to her grumpy attitude in the mornings.

In the kitchen Abby and Hanna were both hunched over bowls of cereal, chewing slowly as they finished the process of waking up. Bucky ruffled Abby's short hair as he passed, causing her to whine and bat him away. Hanna laughed through her nose so he rounded the island again to yank the sad excuse for a ponytail that stuck out of the back of her head.

“Stop being obnoxious,” Hanna griped, rapping him on the knuckles with her spoon with a scary accuracy that she inherited from their bubbe.

He stuck his tongue out at her as he pulled down a bowl and poured some cereal for himself. Hanna returned the gesture just as Ma turned away from where she was pulling a sheet of cookies from the oven. She caught Hanna sticking her tongue out and made a threatening gesture with the hot baking sheet.

“Cut it out.”

Abby snorted at the same time Hanna scoffed.

“Bucky started it!” she whined, glaring at him.

He gave his ma an unassuming look that did nothing to prove his innocence.

“Act your age,” she snapped, setting the pan down roughly and putting her hands on her hips; the oven mitts not helping her intimidation tactics.

Bucky and his sisters settled down and finished their cereal in silence as Ma prepared another batch of cookies, shoving them in the oven as if they had wronged her.

When the girls finished they retreated back to their room, arguing on the way out of the kitchen about who would shower first. His ma finished plating the first batch of cookies and covered them with plastic wrap looking content with herself.

“When are you gonna take 'em over?” he asked, putting his bowl away in the last spot in the dishwasher.

“I'll wait until the ones in the oven are done, those are for you kids,” she answered, giving him a pointed look.

Bucky smiled sheepishly at her before finding the dishwasher soap. He was about to snipe back at her, but a knock at their front door caused him to close his mouth with a click and give his ma a questioning look. She shrugged at him. Neither of them moving until there was another knock and his ma gestured toward the door with her hand.

“Well, go answer it, you act like you don't know what's happening,” she sighed, shaking her head.

“Ma, it's 2016, the only people who knock on doors are solicitors,” he argued, perfectly okay with ignoring whoever it was.

“Go!” she snapped, pointing this time, which propelled Bucky into action.

He rolled his eyes as he walked through the living room and unlocked the front door before practically yanking it open, ready to tell off whoever it was (unless it was a Girl Scout, but he didn't think it was cookie season just yet). The person on the other side was moving to leave, but stopped and turned back to look at Bucky, who had to bit his tongue. The man standing in front of him was... gorgeous. Yet strangely familiar. Bucky didn't know what to focus on first. The man was tall. Stocky. And had striking blue eyes. He looked like he was carved by an artist from Ancient Greece. When Bucky was finally able to process information again he realized who the man was. Steve Rogers... Captain America. Well, not Captain America, not anymore. According to the news Steve Rogers retired the moniker and was returning to civilian life, which explained the beard. Steve looked more devastatingly handsome in person than on television. Bucky had to take a moment before deciding to try and talk.

“Uh,” he said eloquently as the real life Steve Rogers smiled pleasantly at Bucky.

“Good morning, I um, moved in next door last week and wanted to come by and introduce myself,” Steve started, a light flush on his cheeks as he stuck his hand out, “Steve Rogers, nice to meet you.”

Bucky shoved his hand into Steve's with what was probably too much gusto.

“James Barnes, but you can call me Bucky,” he returned, trying to figure out if he was shaking Steve's hand for too long or not, he let go after what he hoped was an appropriate amount of time.

“Nice to meet you,” Steve repeated, before wincing, like he realized he'd already said that.

It was kind of endearing.

“I realize this is probably weird, I'm not sure how many people introduce themselves to their neighbors anymore,” he went on, bringing a hand up to scratch bashfully at the back of his neck.

The action caused his bicep to flex and by pure coincidence a buzzing took up residence in Bucky's head at that very same moment.

Bucky was trying to construct a sentence in his head about how it was a little weird but also made total sense when his ma called through the house.

“James? Who's at the door?” she asked, her voice growing louder as she wandered towards the door.

He recalled that his mother was baking in a pair of sweatpants and her Hufflepuff apron and considered for a moment that she might not want to meet the new neighbor like this, regardless of who it was. Bucky also remembered the time in eighth grade when she forced him to wear a hideous sweater his aunt had made for him to school, he'd been teased for weeks.

Bucky looked over his shoulder at his ma, who was wiping her hands on her apron, he stepped back right as she looked up. Steve's smile increased by at least fifty watts and Bucky swore he saw his ma grow three grey hairs.

“Our new neighbor beat us to it,” Bucky told her, gesturing to Steve, who gave a truly awkward wave.

His mother's eyes got real wide before she reached up to try and smooth down her hair; she shot Bucky a look that told him he was in for it later.

“Winnifred,” she said, moving forward to shake Steve's hand.

“Steve Rogers, ma'am, I just moved in next door and thought I'd come over to say hi” he returned, and Bucky could swear he saw his ma blush, which, yeah, he couldn't blame her.

Bucky was too caught up in trying to catalog the moment to tease his ma about later that he missed the change in her demeanor, one second she was swooning over a national icon and the next she was swatting him on the back.

“Don't be rude, invite him in James,” she said sharply, before marching back towards the kitchen.

Steve looked at him a little alarmed.

“She made cookies,” was all Bucky said, stepping aside and inviting Steve into the foyer.

“That's real nice of her,” Steve mumbled, surreptitiously looking around the living room.

It wasn't much, they had two couches because one was not enough for five people and while Bucky did his best to make sure the girls kept it clean it was very obviously lived in. Bucky strained to remember if any embarrassing pictures of himself were hanging on the walls.

“She's got ulterior motives Steve, don't trust her,” he warned, earning himself a confused look from the poor guy.

Steve looked like he was trying to work out a good way to respond and Bucky wanted to feel sorry for him, but he brought it on himself by knocking on their door. In the end it didn't matter if Steve figured out how to respond or not because footsteps on the stairs drew both of their attention. Bucky watched as Abby descended far enough to catch sight of Steve standing in their living room.

She paused with her hand on the railing, staring at Steve for a second before her gaze darted over to Bucky like she could discern what was going on just by looking at her brother. The three of them stood there in silence for a few moments before Abby made a short gagging noise and retreated up the stairs.

“That was Abby,” Bucky offered, like it was some sort of explanation.

Steve had a sort of “deer in the headlights” look creeping across his face, but pulled himself out of it when Bucky's ma reemerged from the kitchen with the plate of cookies. She all but shoved the them into Steve's hands, patting his arm as she did. Bucky thought he saw her squeeze his forearm but wasn't positive.

“It was so nice of you to come over and introduce yourself Steve, it's good to know some people still have manners these days,” she said, fixing Bucky with a pointed look.

If Steve weren't there he would have stuck his tongue out at her (he was constantly surrounded by teenagers, what could he say). Instead he just narrowed his eyes at her a little.

“I just thought it was a good idea, so far everyone in the neighborhood's been real great,” Steve returned, his almost- too- bright smile returning.

Bucky felt a little blindsided because, as Captain America, Steve seemed like something too good to be true and he had kind of hoped he'd be an ass in real life. While it was possible that the man was just being polite, Bucky was leaning more towards the fact that Steve was naturally the type of person who introduced himself to his neighbors.

“Well we are a pretty friendly bunch, but that's what you get when you have this many families in one place,” Ma started with a deceptively sweet smile, “Are you planning to start a family Steve?” she asked, like she was discussing the weather.

Steve flushed again, more so than the first time and Bucky turned to his ma with wide eyes.

“Geez Ma,” he breathed, prepared to try and divert the conversation, but Steve navigated the question on his own.

“I'm not currently ma'am, I just wanted someplace quiet to retire,” he answered, the red on his face slowly disappearing, which Bucky thought was a shame because it was real cute.

“Oh, well, this is the perfect area if you ever decide to, the school's nearby are wonderful,” Ma said, and Bucky wanted to groan because he knew what came next, she loved to brag about what college he went to, much to his disdain.

Luckily they were interrupted by one of the girls on the stairs; all three of them looked to see Hanna this time, who let out a soft “whoa” when she saw Steve.

“Don't be rude Hanna,” Bucky chastised, beating his ma to it.

Hanna puffed her cheeks out like she always did when he called her out on something and came down to join them.

“Sorry, Abby said Steve Rogers was in our living room and I didn't believe her,” she mumbled, producing her hand for Steve to shake, “I'm Hanna.”

Steve, bless his soul, took it in stride and smiled down at his little sister.

“It's nice to meet you Hanna, I'm Steve.”

“Told you so,” came Abby's voice from the top of the stairs, she trounced her way down to them and Bucky had to hold back a laugh when Steve did an actual double take, the only thing visually different about the twins was their hair.

“I'm Abigail, the cute twin, nice to meetcha,” Abby barreled on, vigorously shaking Steve's hand.

“Where's Rebecca?” Ma asked, receiving dual shrugs from both the girls.

“Still sleeping probably,” they said in unison.

Steve looked he'd been given a gift and Bucky got it because it was adorable when Abby and Hanna did that.

“That girl would sleep through the end of the world,” Ma sighed and Bucky had to stop himself from reminding her that Becca had tried; aliens attacked New York and it really only upset Becca because it disturbed her nap.

The oven timer disrupted them, which Bucky thought might be for the best as Steve was more than likely eager to leave at that point.

“I better go get that, it really was lovely to meet you Steve, we'll have to have you over for dinner sometime,” his ma said, before giving Steve one more pat on the arm and shuffling back towards the kitchen.

Abby and Hanna both waved and flounced up the stairs, leaving Bucky with Steve, who looked like he'd just gotten off the Cyclone at Coney Island.

“Yeah, sorry, they're a lot,” Bucky apologized, unable to keep his fondness for his family out of his voice.

“Nah, they're great, I was kinda just wonderin' how many of you there were,” Steve said with humor.

“Rebecca's the only one you didn't meet, but that's probably a good thing,” he provided, making Steve laugh, which was good.

Real good.

Bucky opened the door for Steve (because he had manners no matter what his ma insinuated), but rather than leaving, the blond just stepped into the doorway and stopped.

“Seriously Bucky, it was real nice to meet you and most of your family. Tell your ma that I'd love to come to dinner sometime.”

“She'll actually do it Steve so I wouldn't say that unless you mean it,” Bucky warned, smirking.

“Why wouldn't I mean it,” Steve asked earnestly.

Bucky wanted to scoop the man up and hide him away from the rest of the world, maybe wrap him in a blanket.

“Um, never mind, I guess. I mean, my family can be a bit overwhelming, I just didn't want you to feel obligated,” he explained, chewing nervously at his bottom lip.

“I don't feel obligated. Honestly your family is great. I'd really love to come over for dinner sometime,” Steve assured him, that beautiful smile breaking through again.

“I'll be sure to let Ma know then, it was nice to meet ya Steve, guess I'll be seeing you around.”

“See ya Bucky, don't hesitate to come over if you need anything,” Steve offered like he actually meant it, before waving with his free hand.

Bucky stood at the door long enough to watch him take the several steps it was to his own stoop, but closed it short of waiting for Steve go into his place. He stood against the closed door, in a bit of disbelief, when Becca came thundering down the steps looking hastily dressed.

“Abby and Hanna said Steve Rogers was in our living room,” she said breathlessly.

“Yeah,” Bucky answered, pointing his thumb at the closed door, “You just missed him.”

“Oh my gosh, I'm gonna kill them,” Becca grumbled, before sprinting back up the stairs.

Bucky sighed and started slowly after her, the sound of her wrenching a door open quickening his pace; he reached the door to Abby's room right as Rebecca started screaming.

It didn't take long to settle the two of them down, all he had to do was remind them that their new neighbor was liable to hear them arguing through the walls and they shut right up. He wasn't sure if Steve's supercharged hearing was that good, but it didn't matter if it got his sisters to stop bickering.

Chapter Text

Later that week saw Bucky stopping at the neighborhood grocery store to pick up some odds and ends needed for dinner that night. He was still halfway in work mode, worrying over looming deadlines that were soon going to put a lot of pressure on him and his team. Bucky was thinking of ways to be sure the girls would have dinners if he had to stay late or pull all-nighters when he all but ran into Steve.

“Shit, sorry,” Bucky apologized, glancing down briefly at the hand Steve had put on his arm to help steady him.

“You okay? I tend to be brick wall when I get ran into,” Steve said, his tone light.

Bucky resisted the urge to point out just how big the man was and instead settled on assuring Steve he was alright. They ended up heading in the same direction down the aisle and before Bucky knew it they were shopping together, talking as they went.

“Don't let my ma see you buying that many beans, she'll never let you out of her sight again if she does,” Bucky warned after watching Steve put over a dozen cans of black beans in his basket.

Steve shrugged sheepishly.

“They're easy to make,” he defended.

“Please tell me you at least use the stove,” Bucky teased, elbowing Steve, whose face turned bright red.

“Sometimes,” he mumbled, batting Bucky away from him.

Bucky hummed thoughtfully and looked over at Steve as they headed for the register.

“I'd bet my next paycheck that your kitchen is newly renovated too.”

Steve opened his mouth and then closed it, apparently having no other defense for himself.

“Pepper insisted,” he tried.

“Oh wow, forget what I said, Ma will kill you.”

The two of them settled their friendly teasing as the girl at the register rang Steve up and then Bucky, stealing sly glances at Steve as she did. Once they were all set (Bucky with his reusable bags and Steve carrying his groceries in paper bags like a heathen) they left the store, bound for their row together by some silent agreement. As they walked Steve asked about Bucky's family, wanting to know more about living with three younger sisters.

“It's not so bad, I didn't live at the house for a while when I was in college, I'm pretty sure that distance helped us stay closer even though we're so far apart in age, “Bucky said, amused to find Steve genuinely interested in what he was saying.

Bucky found that most people just asked about his family because there was nothing else for him to talk about.

“When did you move back?” Steve asked, his tone cautious, like he was unsure he should be asking.

“Almost four years ago. It was rough at first, but I think it helped that I only really lived on my own for my graduate work. I was in the dorms for undergrad, which is basically like living with siblings,” he explained, adjusting his bags to his other hand, “Moving back wasn't too hard in the end.”

“That's a plus, your family honestly seems great. I got lucky moving in next door,” Steve said, smiling over at Bucky, who felt his face flush.

“Yeah well, you won't be saying that when they wake you up because one of them decided to try to use the other as a punching bag.”

Steve looked at Bucky like he wasn't sure he was serious before shaking his head and focusing again on the sidewalk in front of them. There was a short second of silence between them which was interrupted when Bucky found himself being yanked into an alleyway, grunting at the force of Steve pulling him along. He started to panic for a brief moment, but calmed down when he saw that Steve didn't seem worried. Steve peaked his head out of the alley and looked down toward their houses before groaning.

“Sorry, it didn't take long for the media to find out where I live now, I’ve been dodging them for days” Steve said, seeming to realize that he had freaked Bucky out a little.

“Are they there?” Bucky asked, moving closer so he could look out of the alley too.

The movement brought the two of them close and Bucky tried to focus on actually looking down the street instead of looking at Steve. Sure enough there was a small crowd of reporters down the row. Bucky knew his ma was already home and was sure she had given them an earful. It remained to be seen whether that was a good thing or not. He sighed, frustrated that people couldn't leave well enough alone and motioned for Steve to follow him.

“These alleys all connect to the back of the row. I used to sneak in and out of the house that way,” Bucky told him, looking back to see Steve laughing.

“How did that work out for you?” he asked, moving to walk next to Bucky.

They had to stand close together due to the narrow alley that was lined on both sides by tall wooden fences. The fences blocked off the miniscule backyards that the houses came with.

“Sneaking out usually went alright, it was when I tried to get back home that Ma caught me. I honestly think that she knew I was leaving and let me go so she could catch me when I came back,” Bucky went on, only propelling Steve's laugh even more.

“I've only met your ma the once and I'd believe it,” Steve said.

As they walked Bucky counted the fences until they reached the right ones, motioning to Steve that they had arrived. Bucky took in the seven-foot wooden fence and thought back to how much he struggled to climb it, even in high school. He was considering leaving to go back around to the front of his house when Steve spoke up.

“Need a lift?” he asked, obviously serious but also trying to hold back a chuckle.

Bucky wanted to try hopping the fence just to wipe the smug look off of Steve's face, but he was more afraid of falling and making a fool of himself than letting his pride take the hit.

“Yeah, guess I do,” Bucky sighed.

Steve set his bags down while Bucky slid his own up to his shoulder and waited to see what Steve was planning to do. When Steve moved to the fence and crouched down, lacing his fingers together to make a step, Bucky told himself he wasn't disappointed. It wasn't like he actually wanted Steve to lift him by his hips or something. Bucky rolled his eyes, but stepped up onto Steve's hands anyways and found himself caught off guard when Steve did most of the work to lift him up so he could swing one leg over the fence. Steve steadied Bucky with a hand on his thigh as he worked his other leg over before not so gracefully sliding to the ground. His teeth jarred thanks to his heavy landing and he swore to himself, glaring at the fence when he heard Steve laughing on the other side.

Bucky situated himself in just enough time to watch Steve vault himself over his own fence with one hand, the other keeping his groceries secure against his torso. Steve landed on the other side with very little sound.

“Show off!” Bucky called.

“That's hardly showing off Bucky,” Steve retorted, making Bucky snort a laugh.

“What a smartass you are.”

“Gotta get my rocks off somehow,” Steve said, his voice carrying across their yards.

Bucky almost choked on some of his spit, unsure if that was supposed to be flirting or if Steve was the type to make jokes of that nature. He was about to say something back to Steve when the back door opened and his mother stuck her head out, giving him a confused look.

“James, what in the world are you doing?” she asked.

“Steve and I took the back alley to avoid the media,” Bucky told her, earning an even more perplexed look as his ma looked around the backyard.

The sound of movement drifted over from Steve's yard before his head appeared over the fence.

“Good afternoon Ms. Barnes,” he said, smiling at Bucky's ma.

“Oh goodness! How are you doing Steve? And please, call me Winnie!” Ma returned, walking down the back porch.

“I'm doing fine. Bucky and I ran into each other at the store and he showed me how to avoid the camera crews out front.”

Ma nodded her head sagely.

“I gave them what's what when I came home from work, those vultures. I guess James trying to sneak out all those times ended up being good for something,” she went on, making Bucky roll his eyes (not where she could see of course).

“He was very helpful. I have to get going now, but I hope you have a good evening. Thanks again Bucky!” Steve said, directing a pleasant smile Bucky's way.

“No problem Steve, glad to help,” Bucky responded, returning the smile.

When Steve's head disappeared Bucky and his ma walked into the house together. He had barely set his groceries down when she descended on him.

“What was that look you gave Steve just now?”

Bucky glanced over his shoulder at her.

“What look? I smiled at him,” he said.

“That wasn't your usual smile though,” she argued, raising an eyebrow at him.

He sighed loudly, turning around to lean on the island and look at her.

“It was nothing Ma, we chatted and had a good time. I helped him escape the cameras. That's it.”

“He's a nice man, handsome too,” she started, only for Bucky to risk life and limb to cut her off.

“Please don't start. I could give you a list of why you shouldn't start ok? Steve's nice and yes, good looking, but I don't have the time or energy. Things have never ended well in the past,” Bucky said, crossing his arms.

His ma looked at him long and hard before walking around to stand in front of him. She put both hands on his cheeks and shook him a little.

“Things in the past were very soon after your father had passed and you were still learning how to balance everything. You can't dedicate your life to us forever James, you know how much I appreciate what you do, but I don't want this to be the rest of your life.”

Bucky brought his hands up to hold hers.

“I know Ma, and it won't be. Steve is just... way out of my league, for one. On top of that he might not even like men, so it just isn't something I want to spend my time on. I love you and I promise I won't be like this forever, but right now this is how things are,” he explained, making his mother sigh.

“Well I can't force you to do something you don't want. I don't think you're right about him being out of your league though James. He seems to like you well enough, but I'll drop it. Go now, I'm making dinner tonight,” she relented.

He nodded and drew her into a hug. She squeezed him hard before ushering him out of the kitchen. Bucky followed her directions and found his way upstairs. He dozed until Becca banged on his door to call him down for dinner. Their meal was a bit more subdued that night as they talked about having the camera crews on their street. The girls talked about their days at school while Ma shared about her shift in the ER like usual. Bucky sat through it all content with the way things were. He didn't want things to change from the way they were, even if it might give him a chance at a real relationship.

Chapter Text

Bucky and Steve ran into each other regularly over the next couple of weeks. It was usually when he returned home from work (later and later each week as their deadline grew near). He occasionally found Steve waylaid by Rebecca or his mother, though Bucky soon realized that it wasn’t an inconvenience for Steve to stop and talk with either of the two. His ma was most often talking to Steve about the neighborhood or how his day was, while Rebecca would either be explaining what she wanted to do after graduating, or going weirdly quiet as soon as she saw Bucky. The looks she and Steve would unconsciously give him only fueled him into being suspicious, but whenever he asked his sister she was mum about it. Bucky thought about asking Steve what it was they were talking about in those instances, but didn't think he was close enough with him yet to do so. He tended to brush it off or was distracted from it once he went inside to cook or break up another of his sisters' fights.

 

 

Bucky was heading home well past eight in the evening. He and his team had been working on finalizing one of the main circuit boards for their prosthetic arm when it didn't pass testing. They ended up working for hours trying to figure out where the disconnect was. It worked after some intense troubleshooting, but left them in the lab hours past their usual time. The only saving grace was that it was Friday. There would be a lot more late nights in their future and with their deadline falling before the holidays, everyone was eager to be done with it. Bucky was able to stay calm only because his ma had texted him, letting him know that she would be home in time to make dinner. He was looking forward to his own plate that she would have set aside and walked at a brisk pace to get home and out of the evening chill faster.

The street was relatively quiet as he went on, most of the houses occupied by families or older couples. Steve was really the only outlier in their neighborhood, but if Bucky considered how long ago he was born it made sense that he would settle where he did. As Bucky approached his house he laughed quietly to himself when he saw Steve heading toward him from the opposite direction. He was carrying a couple of pizza boxes and smiled at Bucky when he got closer.

“You're home late tonight,” Steve pointed out, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah, we had some trouble with a part at work and it kept us pretty late. It's not that unusual though this close to deadline,” Bucky explained, catching some movement in one of the house's front windows.

He tried to look closer but ended up not seeing anything. It was most likely one of the girls spying on them.

“You haven't eaten yet have you?” Steve asked, looking up at Bucky from the sidewalk.

Bucky shook his head.

“Nah, didn't get the chance.”

“You wanna come over and have pizza? I was going to start watching the Harry Potter movies. Sam gave them to me a while ago but I haven't got the chance to sit down and watch them yet.”

“I don't wanna intrude or anything,” Bucky said mostly by habit, though he really wanted to go, he loved the Harry Potter movies.

He knew that Steve wasn't just asking to be polite, that was one thing he had learned about the other man through their sporadic meetings. Steve was earnest and meant whatever he said or offered.

“You're hardly intruding, I was going to be sitting alone eating pizza, so you'd actually be doing me a favor by making it not as sad and lonely,” Steve went on, his tone light and teasing.

Bucky couldn't help but snort a laugh.

“Well if it makes it less sad then I can hardly say no,” he shot back, earning a bright smile from Steve, “Let me go change real quick and let the family know.”

“Sure thing, just give a knock when you're ready, I'll put the pizza in the oven so it stays warm,” Steve said, starting toward his own stoop.

Bucky gave a nod before unlocking the front door. When he closed it behind him he stood there for a moment, absorbing what had just happened. He was going over to Steve's for pizza and a movie. His ma looked at him from the couch with a questioning eye, but surprisingly none of the girls were around.

“What is it honey?” she asked.

“Ah, nothing. I'm going to go over to Steve's if that's not a problem. He invited me over for pizza since I haven't eaten,” he told her, watching her face light up.

“Of course it isn't a problem! You go and have fun sweetie,” she said, smiling brightly.

He smiled back at her before heading upstairs to his room. Bucky changed into a pair of his nicer jogger sweats and a NASA hoodie before wrenching a brush through his hair and throwing it back up into a bun. When Bucky found himself worrying over his appearance in the mirror he scoffed and forced himself not to fret. It was only pizza and a movie, Steve was just trying to be Bucky's friend, which was nice. He could do friends, friends were easy and didn't put pressure on him to stop worrying so much about his family. Bucky didn't have many friends as it were, so he really didn't want to fuck up. After pulling on a pair of shoes Bucky grabbed his phone and headed back downstairs, trying to ignore the look on his mother's face as he left.

Steve answered the door almost as soon as Bucky knocked and smiled brightly as he let him in. The house was set up almost identically to Bucky's except it was clearly renovated with new hardwood flooring and more modern looking furniture.

“Did you decorate yourself?” Bucky asked, looking curiously around the living room as Steve watched him.

“I had a designer help, but I had a lot of input about what colors and styles I wanted,” Steve answered, shrugging when Bucky turned to look at him.

“It's nice, don't let my ma in here, she'll be jealous.”

“I'll be sure to keep that in mind,” Steve laughed, “Go ahead and make yourself at home, I'm gonna go grab the pizzas.”

Bucky nodded and moved around the couch, peering at different pictures Steve had up on shelves as he went. He flopped onto the couch right as Steve poked his head out of the kitchen.

“You want a beer?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Always,” Bucky returned, smiling as Steve disappeared again.

He walked back into the living room a moment later with the pizza boxes, some paper plates, and two bottles. Bucky helped him arrange everything on the coffee table before opening the pizzas while Steve worked on getting the movie pulled up.

“Oooh! Pepperoni and mushroom, my favorite!” Bucky cheered, pulling two pieces onto a plate.

Steve chuckled and then cheered triumphantly when he found the right input to play the movie.

“I can't believe you haven't seen the Harry Potter movies yet,” Bucky said around a mouthful of pizza.

“Yeah well, I was more worried about catching up on history when I first uh, defrosted. After that I was kinda busy,” Steve explained with a shrug.

Bucky snorted.

“Busy is a bit of an understatement pal,” he teased, elbowing Steve in the side.

“You've got a point,” Steve agreed with a soft laugh, “Either way, I've been keeping up with new stuff that came out, I love the Martian, for example. I just need to catch up on some of the “cult classics” as Sam calls them.”

“Hmm yeah! The Martian was good; I get told I look like Dr. Beck a lot. Did you read the book?”

Steve nodded as he piled pizza on his own plate.

“Yup, and I read the Harry Potter books too, Clint lectured me for half an hour about how I had to read them before I saw the movies.”

“That's good! Your friends did something right at least,” Bucky said, reaching for his beer.

He noticed after he sat back that it wasn't a twist off and frowned. Steve made a noise in the back of his throat and motioned for Bucky to give him the bottle, so he did. Bucky watched in shock as Steve pried the cap off the bottle like it was nothing, before handing it back to him.

“Neat party trick,” Bucky mumbled, trying to convince himself that he didn't think the show of strength was attractive.

“I found out I could do that in France, Dum-Dum found beer but no bottle openers. They decided nothing else I ever did would be as great as opening pop tops with my hands,” Steve reminisced with a sad smile.

“Can't say I blame them, I'd be pretty happy too if you gave me access to alcohol in the middle of war,” Bucky pointed out, glad when Steve's smile morphed into something happier.

After that they started the movie and Bucky got a front row seat to an indignant Steve as the differences between the movie and book came forward. They worked slowly through the movie because they kept having to pause it as Steve ranted about parts he thought should have been included. Bucky also got to watch in a mixture of abject horror and fascination as Steve ate all of one pizza and the rest of what Bucky didn't finish of the other. When the movie finally ended Bucky's stomach hurt from laughing so much and he realized that it was the most fun he had experienced in months.

After they cleaned up Steve walked Bucky to the door, leaning on the door jamb as Bucky walked out into the brisk night.

“Thanks for the invite Steve, this was real nice. I don't get to relax like this too often,” Bucky admitted, smiling, “If you're interested I usually run down to Shore Park in the mornings to work out. It probably won't be much of a workout for you, but I'll look less sad.”

Steve laughed as he crossed his arms over his chest (Bucky certainly didn't notice how much his muscles bulged).

“Well if it makes it less sad,” Steve quoted.

“You're funny, really funny guy Steve. Meet me out here at eight-thirty?”

“Sure thing Buck, I'll see you in the morning,” Steve said, waiting to go back inside until Bucky had walked to his own door.

Once Bucky was back inside he locked the front door and jumped slightly when he saw Becca sitting on the couch, twisted around so she could stare at him. She had a smug look on her face and she looked at him.

“Have fun?” she asked after a few beats of silence.

“Not you too,” he groaned.

“What!? I'm just asking about your movie night with our attractive neighbor Steve,” Becca said with feigned innocence.

“I'm not fueling the two of you,” he grumbled, turning to go up the stairs.

“Did you hold hands?” Becca hollered after him, cackling when he flipped her off before disappearing from view.

Bucky made his way up to his room and fell onto his bed with a large sigh. He pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes and pushed out thoughts of just how much he had enjoyed spending time with Steve. It didn't take long for his long day to catch up to him and Bucky fell asleep before he knew it.

 

 

The next morning Bucky woke to his alarm and got ready for his run with a little more pep in his step than usual. He knew his workout wouldn't be much for Steve, but the idea that he would have some company was nice. It also helped that he and Steve got along so well. Bucky often had trouble making and keeping friends, so he was hoping Steve would be different.

When Bucky left the house he was glad to have pulled on leggings underneath his shorts because it was pretty cold. Steve was waiting on his steps and smiled at Bucky as he stood up. He was in a pair of rather short running shorts, the edge of a pair of compression shorts peeking out from under them.

“Aren't you cold?” Bucky asked, eyeing Steve's short sleeve shirt and shivering.

“I run hot,” Steve said with a shrug, “Also good-morning to you too.”

Bucky rolled his eyes at Steve's sarcasm and starting doing his stretches as Steve watched.

“Not gonna stretch?”

“Didn't we agree this wasn't going to be much of a workout for me?” Steve retorted.

“Oh wow, you're kinda an asshole huh? No, we didn't agree. I said it wouldn't be and then you were supposed to assure me that it would challenge you at least a little bit because that's the polite thing to do,” Bucky explained.

“I'd hate to lie to you though,” Steve said, obviously trying to keep himself from laughing.

Bucky flipped him off, which only made Steve laugh harder. He huffed and took off while Steve was distracted, not at all fooled that Steve wouldn't be able to catch up to him.

He didn't try to push himself more than usual even though he wanted to just to prove something (though he didn't know what) to Steve. They reached the park and slowed to a walk as they skirted along the edge of the river while Bucky looked to see if his spot was open. Steve had kept up a pretty steady stream of commentary along the way, but slowed to a stop as they walked to Bucky's spot.

“So what do you usually do?” Steve asked.

“Pull ups, sit ups, push-ups, and squats,” Bucky answered, wondering if Steve was just going to stand there and watch him the whole time.

Steve nodded and motioned to the pull up bar, so Bucky decided to try to ignore Steve and just do what he always did. As Bucky did his first set of pull ups Steve leaned on one of the support bars and surveyed the park. There were the usual dog walkers and a group of moms from one of the local stroller clubs.

“This place is pretty nice, I usually just run around the neighborhood,” Steve mentioned.

Bucky huffed a reply, drawing Steve's attention up to him.

“You doing alright there Buck?” he asked with a smirk.

“Fuck you,” Bucky quipped as he dropped to the ground.

Steve laughed as he brushed past Bucky and jumped up to the bar before easily pushing out repetitions. Bucky took a page from Steve's book and leaned against the support pole and watched as a few of the stroller moms slowed their jog as they passed. A moment later they came back by at a subdued walk, making Bucky laugh.

“What's so funny?” Steve asked as he dropped back to the ground.

“The stroller club seems to have taken an interest in you,” Bucky explained, jerking his head in the women's direction.

He watched as Steve spotted them and chuckled.

“What makes you so sure it's me?” Steve asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Probably because I'm here every weekend and they've never really cared before,” Bucky shot back, finding a patch of grass to lay on.

Steve moved to hold his feet down without Bucky having to ask, which was pretty nice.

“I find that hard to believe,” Steve commented as Bucky started doing sit ups, “I'm sure at least two of the stroller moms are interested in you,” he added jokingly.

“Yeah well, even if they were, I'm more of a stroller dad kinda guy,” Bucky said, pausing halfway into a sit up to meet Steve's gaze.

They stared at each other for a moment before Steve peeked back over his shoulder at the growing group of moms continually walking back and forth in a hundred yard pace.

“I'll keep an eye out then, looks like it's still just the moms though,” Steve said, turning back to grin at Bucky.

Bucky laughed as he finished up and switched positions with Steve, cursing the other man out when he would occasionally lift Bucky off the ground with his feet as he did sit ups.

When they finished their workout Steve walked over to the moms and had them all doting over him as he took pictures and smiled at babies. They all politely demanded a group picture for their club's Facebook page and Bucky was included like he was a somebody just because he was hanging out with Steve. After the moms released them they started their run back to the neighborhood, Steve starting up his continuous commentary again as they did. When they reached their street Steve hip checked Bucky and grinned.

“Race you,” he shouted, before taking off down the sidewalk.

Bucky laughed hysterically as he tried and failed miserably to keep up with Steve.

 

 

The rest of Bucky's Saturday consisted of doing chores around the house and helping Becca with Calculus homework. She tried asking about the night before when he went over to Steve's again, making it out to be a big deal. He brushed her off and kept her focused on math, for the most part. By the time he was laying down for bed he was exhausted and didn't even want to think about the upcoming weeks at work.

Chapter Text

Saturday morning runs with Steve became a routine and Bucky found himself looking forward to them. They were a chance for him to relax (even if he was working out) from his heavy work schedule. Plus, Steve was good company. October was marching along steadily, the days growing shorter as Bucky's working hours grew longer.

 

 

It was already dark when Bucky left work and he found himself hurrying along, wanting to get home in time for supper. His ma assured him she would be home in time to cook, but he hated that she had to come home from her twelve hour shift only to cook. At the rate Bucky was working though, he wouldn't be far behind her. That morning he went in earlier than usual hoping to be able to leave close to on time, only to have to stay late anyways. He cursed himself for not grabbing a heavier jacket that morning and shivered against the harsh October wind, picking up his pace.

When got home he could already smell dinner and he called out as he closed the door. Abby called back from the kitchen that they were sitting down to eat so he shoved his backpack into the closet and hung up his coat. He walked into the kitchen to see his ma getting a plate ready for him.

“You're just in time,” she said, smiling at him as she passed him the plate.

It was piled high with eggs and bacon, with waffles.

“Breakfast for dinner?”

“The girls voted.”

Bucky rolled his eyes but headed into the dining room only to stop short when he saw Steve sitting at the table with his own plate. The blond smiled brightly when he saw Bucky.

“Hey there Buck!” Steve said happily.

“Hey Steve, I didn't know you'd be here,” Bucky stated, watching as Becca gave him a smug look.

“I hope that's alright,” Steve returned, his face falling a little.

“Of course it is, just surprised is all,” Bucky assured him as he moved around the table to take the empty seat next to Steve.

Becca has taken the head of the table that he usually sat at and he wasn't about to kick his ma out of her usual place at the other head. He made sure to give Becca a nice kick under the table and gained a sour look for his trouble.

“Ma said she found him in the store buying a bunch of beans,” Abby stated, stabbing some scrambled egg as their ma came in and say down.

“Yeah, he always buys beans,” Bucky affirmed, laughing when Steve pouted at him.

“You're supposed to defend me,” Steve stage whispered.

“Beans and toast is no way to live,” Ma commented, tutting softly.

Bucky knew for a fact that Steve used to live on just that during the 40's, but chose not to mention it to his ma.

“Maybe it was a ploy so he could get himself invited to eat real food,” Bucky teased, trying and failing to dodge the elbow Steve threw his way.

Bucky pretended to be more hurt than he was and had Steve worried for all of a minute before Becca assured him that Bucky was faking. Hannah made a sly comment about Abby looking the same way when she was faking an injury which launched the two into a rare spat. It was worked out in short order when their ma snapped at the two of them and the table fell into casual conversation shortly afterwards. The girls all talked about their days at school, Becca thanking Bucky for helping her study for the test she did well on.

Steve seemed to be pleasantly comfortable with the push and pull of the conversation, which impressed Bucky. He knew the girls could get rowdy and had lost more than one friend because they preferred not to come over and deal with them. His ma asked about Bucky's day at work and them promptly changed the subject when all he did was start whining about it.

After dinner the girls all disappeared to their rooms while Bucky stayed behind to clean up so his mother could relax. Steve tried to help with the dishes but Bucky was remiss to let him, so he settled for sitting at the island to keep Bucky company. They kept up idle conversation as Bucky washed the dishes and he found himself enjoying the chore if only because it meant they got to spend some time without the rest of his family. When Bucky was done he walked Steve to the door, surprised to see Becca in the living room. He would have thought she'd have hung out with them in the kitchen.

Steve turned around after he stepped out of the door and smiled at Bucky.

“Your family really is great Bucky, tell your ma thanks for having me over.”

“She'll never stop inviting you over if she thinks you had a good time,” Bucky teased.

“Well that saves me from having to cook any more beans for myself I suppose,” Steve returned, his smile growing when Bucky rolled his eyes.

“Seriously though, feel free to come over anytime, she'd love to have you.”

“And what about you Bucky?” Steve asked, his expression growing a bit more serious.

Bucky swallowed thickly as he felt heat rise to his face.

“I uh, feel the same of course,” he managed, “Even if you just wanted to watch television or something ya know?”

Steve bit his bottom lip and nodded.

“Same goes for you Buck, if you need a break, feel free to come over and hang out,” he said, the smile returning to his face.

At that Steve gave a short wave goodbye and turned to walk down the stoop. Bucky did his best to not watch him go and when he closed the door Becca was looking over the back of the couch at him with wide eyes.

“What?” he asked, crossing his arms.

“What the fuck was that?”

“I have no idea what you're-” he started, only to be cut off.

“Don't play dumb, it's not a cute look for you big bro. You two were flirting!” she accused, kneeling so she could see him better over the back of the couch.

“Hardly Becca,” Bucky defended, rolling his eyes.

He started up the stairs and groaned when he heard her following.

“I'm just going off of what I heard but that sure sounded like flirting to me,” she argued, clamoring up the stairs after him.

Bucky did his best to ignore her, but was suddenly trapped when Hanna stepped out of her room at the same time Abby came barreling out of the bathroom, blocking him in.

“What's going on?” Abby asked around her toothbrush.

“Bucky and Steve were flirting,” Becca announced.

“We were not!” Bucky snapped.

“Ooooh! That's good, maybe it will help get rid of some of the tension that was between you two all night,” Abby snarked.

“There was no tension, you're fourteen, you shouldn't even know what that is!”

“There was a little tension Bucky,” Hanna commented, shrugging when he shot her a look.

He tried to move past them only to have Abby step more in front of him. A few years ago he might have shoved past her, but he was too big to do that anymore without the risk of hurting her.

“We just want you to be happy,” she said, spitting a little toothpaste on his shirt.

She made a face and tried to wipe it off, but only smeared it more.

“I am happy,” he groaned, lightly smacking her hand away.

“But you haven't dated in so long! Plus, Steve is awesome, not to mention super attractive,” Becca chimed in.

“I don't need to be in a relationship to be happy,” he sighed.

“Yeah but still, we don't want you to resent us because you miss out on something thanks to being so busy with the family,” Hanna added.

Bucky took a steadying breath to try and calm himself. Naturally that was when his mother opened her door. He felt like screaming.

“What is going on?” she asked, looking between the three of them.

“They ambushed me,” Bucky griped, gaining glares from all three of his sisters.

They immediately started to talk at the same time. Becca was going on about Bucky and Steve flirting while the twins shouted about Bucky not dating enough. It only took a raised eyebrow from their mother to make the three of them shut up.

“Girls, if James says he and Steve weren't flirting, they weren't. Even if they couldn't stop looking at each other over dinner it doesn't mean anything. And if the two of them happened to awkwardly look away the few times they made any real eye contact, well that doesn't have to mean anything either.”

Bucky threw his hands up in defeat and finally found enough of an opening to push lightly past Abby.

“All four of you are the worst. Seriously, just drop this, please,” he called down the stairs as he retreated to his room.

When he finally closed the door on their laughing Bucky took a deep breath and let it out slowly. It didn't do well for him to dwell on whether or not Steve was flirting with him. He wasn't planning to pursue anything with him anyways. Bucky knew how it would go. It had happened before with other guys. Things would start out well but eventually Steve wouldn't be able to handle how much time Bucky put in to his family. They'd start to drift apart or argue about it and then Bucky would wind up with his heart broken. Again. History had shown that Bucky was better off just not bothering. That way he wouldn't waste any time feeling for someone who would just leave in the end.

Chapter Text

The sound of an alarm on someone's watch pulled Bucky out of his concentration. He looked from the circuit board he was working on and glanced around the room.

“What's that?” he asked.

There was a beat of silence before Darcy responded from somewhere in the lab.

“My reminder that my break is over,” came her voice.

“What time is it?” Penelope called from her office.

“Nine,” Darcy answered tonelessly.

A collective groan sounded from everyone in the lab. They had been at it all day with no sign of an end. The deadline for a prototype was due the next day. Everything had been going great with the tests until the arm fucked up a simple maneuver and they had to disassemble it to figure out what was wrong.

Bucky sighed as he stretched his back. Darcy popped up from the floor a couple of tables over and looked around with wide eyes.

“Has anyone had dinner?”

“I ate a protein bar at, um, five I think,” Jared said without looking up from his station.

“Let me go call my mom, she can bring us some food since we can't order it right to the lab,” he announced, standing up for the first time in almost three hours.

Penelope stuck her head out of her office.

“Have her bring you a change of clothes too. I need you with me for the presentation and we probably won't have time to go home and change,” she said.

He nodded at her before heading to the locker room where his phone was. The conversation with his ma was short and she promised to have enough food for the group brought out along with some clothes for him. After he hung up his phone he took a second to scroll through the few text messages he had received over the past few hours. There was one from Steve asking if he was going to be home that night and did he want to come over for a movie night again. Bucky replied in the negative, explaining that they would be pulling an all-nighter.

Steve and him had been hanging out with increasing frequency over the past few weeks. As Bucky started to stay later at work he would sometimes catch dinner at Steve's and the two would watch a movie as they ate. It was comfortable between them now and Bucky found himself enjoying the time they were spending together. Becca constantly teased him about it, while his ma had cornered him on more than one occasion asking about the time he spent with Steve. He always shot both of them down, insisting that things between them were nothing more than platonic, which was how Bucky wanted to keep it. Even if it was getting more difficult to think of Steve in a strictly friendly way.

 

 

The security guard came back about thirty minutes later to let Bucky know he had a visitor. Darcy cheered at the prospect of food as Bucky left, laughing at her along the way. Bucky was surprised when he got to the lobby and saw Steve looking around curiously. There was a bag of food on the front desk and he had a duffle bag slung over one shoulder.

“Hey, I wasn't expecting you,” Bucky commented, smiling when Steve shrugged at him.

“Your ma asked if I could take this stuff to you because she was helping Abby with some homework,” Steve said, handing over the bag of clothes.

“That was real nice of you, I hope she didn't put you out.”

Steve shook his head.

“Nah, I didn't have anything going on. I had just gotten your text that you were pulling an all-nighter right before she came over,” Steve explained.

“Were you just waiting around for me to answer you?” Bucky teased, grinning.

He was kind of shocked when Steve blushed.

“Like I said, I didn't have anything going on,” he mumbled, before clearing his throat, “I picked up some Thai food too. She said bring enough to feed seven people?”

“Uh, yeah, the um, the team. None of us have eaten since lunch really. They'll appreciate it.”

“There's mostly a bunch of pad Thai in there, but there is one dish of pad woon sen. That's for you. Your ma said it was your favorite,” Steve said, looking a little bashful.

“Did you buy it all yourself? I can get some money from everyone so we can pay you back,” Bucky insisted, trying not to think too hard about the fact that Steve made a point to buy his favorite dish.

“It's alright, I swear. It's not like I don't have the money to spare. I'm glad it can go to a good cause,” Steve told him.

“I'll let them know about your generous donation then,” Bucky replied, hefting the bag of food into his arms, “I gotta get back though, we still have a lot to get through tonight.”

“No problem, I hope you're able to get some sleep tonight Buck.”

The two said their goodbyes before Bucky headed back through to the secure section with the food. It was all promptly taken from him when he returned and he had to fight Lorena for his pad woon sen. They all decided to take a short break while they ate and retreated to the staff lounge for a short dinner.

 

 

Bucky woke up the next more face down in the break room couch with a rat's nest on the back of his head. Penelope was staring down at him with an unimpressed look on her face.

“We have to leave in thirty, go make yourself look pretty,” she said, before walking away.

He groaned and rolled off the couch onto the floor. Darcy looked over at him from where she was snuggled into a sleeping bag and loudly shushed him before rolling over and burrowing further into it. Bucky wandered through the lab into the locker room to change, feeling the exhaustion of working until three that morning like a weight on his shoulders.

 

 

He and Penelope arrived at Stark Tower with thirty minutes to set up. They unpacked the arm and got it hooked up to everything, talking very little as they went. There was still ten minutes left before the scheduled start of the presentation, so Penelope threw some cover up on the bags under Bucky's eyes at his request. Bucky caved last minute and texted Steve to ask if it would be too much trouble for him to come get Bucky after the presentation so he didn't have to take a cab home. He was waiting for a reply when the grant board filed in and he had to turn off his phone in order to beg for money for their project.

An hour and a half later they were shaking hands with Pepper Potts and Tony Stark. Penelope was beaming at the praise and the several million dollars they were being allocated to keep working on the prosthetics project. Once everyone had left again he and Penelope packed things up.

“You sure you're good to take this back to the lab alone?” he asked, glancing down at his phone to see a text alert from Steve.

“Yeah, like I said earlier, my place is really close to the lab. Go home and get some sleep Barnes. I'm not counting on seeing anyone in the lab until next Wednesday,” Penelope assured him, patting him on the back.

They headed toward the elevators together, but when they reached them Bucky was waylaid by none other than Stark himself. He waved Penelope off, ignoring her curious looks, and walked over to the other man, a little frustrated at being kept any longer.

“Steve is up on his floor, he asked me to bring you up and also to not verbally abuse you. I told him I could only promise one of those things,” Stark rambled, herding Bucky into an elevator away from the rest of the others.

“I can just meet him in the lobby,” Bucky tried, not succeeding much at convincing Stark to let him go.

“Where is the fun in that?” he asked, punching in a code and then the button for one of the top floors.

The doors opened into a large living area and when they stepped out Steve looked over the back of a couch at them and grinned.

“Hey! How did it go?” he asked, standing and moving gracefully around the couch.

“Good, we got the grant,” Bucky answered as Stark yawned and walked away.

“Awesome! So does that mean you get to take bit of a break?”

Bucky laughed.

“A little, but we still have a lot of work to get done to get everything up to speed for human testing,” Bucky explained, shifting from one foot to the other.

“At least you get a little break. I know you must be exhausted, but I wanted you to meet Nat and Sam real quick since you were here. I hope that's alright, they've been asking to meet you for a while now.”

“Oh, yeah, that's cool,” Bucky said, feigning confidence in the fact he was about to meet two of Steve's close friends (not to mention two Avengers).

Steve led him through the large living room and into an equally large kitchen where Stark was perched on a counter while the other two sat on barstools at the kitchen's island. They both looked over at him when he walked him. Bucky found himself wanting to shrink away from their gaze.

“There he is!” Sam Wilson (Captain America!) exclaimed, jumping up from his seat and closing in on Bucky with his hand extended.

“Sam Wilson man, it's great to finally meet you! Steve talks about you literally all the time!”

Bucky laughed nervously and shook his hand as Steve became indignant at Sam.

“Bucky Barnes, nice to meet you.”

Sam grinned at Bucky after letting go of his hand and motioned for his companion to join them. She walked over to them with assessing eyes sweeping over Bucky as she approached.

“Natasha,” she said, crossing her arms and staring him down.

“Nice to meet you?” Bucky responded, swallowing thickly.

She hummed at him before a predatory sort of smile spread across her face.

“You're good looking,” Natasha announced, before brushing past him and leaving the kitchen.

Bucky stood there rather confused before looking to Steve for some sort of explanation. Steve was sighing and shaking his head while Stark laughed from his place across the kitchen.

“Sorry, she's a little defensive sometimes, don't take it personally,” Steve apologized.

“She'll warm up to you,” Sam assured him, clapping Bucky on the shoulder, “But seriously, I'm sure you're tired. Steve told us you've been up all night, go get some sleep, it was great to meet you.”

“Yeah, I am pretty beat. It was good to meet you Sam; I guess I'll see you around?”

“Oh yeah, definitely,” Sam laughed, shooting a look Steve's way that Bucky couldn't decipher.

Steve showed Bucky back to the elevator which they rode past the lobby and down into a parking garage Bucky had no idea existed.

“Thanks for picking me up, I really appreciate it,” Bucky said with a yawn as they got into Steve's ridiculously large SUV.

“It's no big deal, I was glad you texted me instead of taking a taxi home. Why don't you try to nap? There's probably going to be a lot of traffic at this time,” Steve suggested.

Bucky nodded his agreement and nestled against the door. He was asleep moments after they hit the street.

 

 

When Bucky woke up he was in his bed and it was well into the later afternoon. He groaned as he pushed himself up and looked around his room confused. After a moment or two Bucky got up and wandered downstairs to find his sisters all sitting in the living room watching television. All three of them looked at him simultaneously when he entered. They were wearing matching smirks as they looked at him.

“What?” he asked, squinting at all of them.

Becca climbed over the back of the couch with her phone.

“Mom sent this to me,” she said as she scrolled through it for a moment before flipping it around where Bucky could see.

There was a poorly taken picture, like his ma had been trying to take it secretively, of him being carried up the stairs by Steve, bridal style. Bucky swiped for Becca's phone only to have it yanked away from him.

“I swear Rebecca Anne Barnes if you don't delete that,” he snapped.

“Wouldn't matter if she did,” Abby sang, “It's already been uploaded to the cloud.”

“We were thinking of taking it to have it printed out so we could frame it,” Hanna chimed in.

The girls laughed as Bucky stormed out of the living room, not even able to go find his ma and gripe at her because she was at work. Instead he texted Steve.

“Really? Bridal style?” he wrote, not having to wait very long before he got a response.

Steve just sent back a shrugging emoji.

Chapter Text

October was in full bloom, as evident from all of the high school homecoming parades that blocked off roads at inconvenient times. Bucky had been back at work for a couple of weeks with a gratefully reduced workload thankfully. He found a lot more time to relax after work and usually wound up over at Steve's. There were plenty of nights where Steve came over for dinner at Bucky's ma's coaxing, but Bucky found himself over at the other man's house equally as much. The girls loved all the time that Steve was spending with the family and Bucky was surprised at how well they all got along.

 

 

The night of Rebecca's own homecoming dance Bucky escaped his mother's plans to take the twins out to a movie by begging off to go see Steve. Ma was always more than willing to let Bucky go if it meant he would be with Steve instead, even though Bucky kept reminding her that there was nothing between the two of them. Nor did he plan for there to be.

They were watching Pulp Fiction for the second time, because no one really understood the movie after only watching it once. It was almost halfway through when Bucky's cell rang, Rebecca's contact flashing on the screen when he checked it.

“Hello?” he answered as Steve paused the movie without hesitation.

“Bucky, can you come get me?” his sister asked, her voice wavering like she had been crying.

Bucky sat up from his lounging position on the couch, immediately worried.

“What's wrong?” he demanded, his tone setting Steve on the edge of the couch.

“I just don't wanna be here anymore. Tonight was supposed to be fun but my date is being an asshole and it's not fun, so I wanna leave.”

“Okay, I'll be there soon, let me get a Lyft or something. Where is the dance again?” he asked, standing up and finding his coat where he had left it over the back of an accent chair.

“The Courtyard Marriott,” Becca sniffled, the muted sound of someone asking if she was alright filtering through the phone.

“Got it, I'll text you when I get a Lyft.”

“Okay,” she mumbled, before saying bye and hanging up.

Steve was looking at Bucky from the couch with a concerned expression on his face.

“Is she ok?” he asked.

“Yeah, I guess her night tanked so I'm gonna run and get her. Sorry,” Bucky answered, pulling on his shoes.

“I can drive you if you want, so you don't have to take a Lyft,” Steve offered, standing up.

Bucky stood there for a moment thinking about it. He obviously didn't want to put Steve out, but knew that Steve would tell him he wasn't being put out.

“If you don't mind,” Bucky sighed, knowing that he was glad for Steve's help.

“Let me grab my keys and jacket,” Steve said, moving around the couch to his coat closet.

Bucky waited by the door, but it only took Steve a minute or so to find what he needed before they left.

 

 

They drove in silence to the hotel and when they arrived Becca was sitting in the lobby waiting for them. She saw Steve's car through the window and came out to them, closing the door and little hard as she huddled into the back seat.

“Hey, everything alright?” Bucky asked, twisting around in his seat to look at her.

“Yeah, I'm just pissed off,” she answered, scowling out the window.

“Do you wanna talk about it?”

Becca glanced at him briefly before looking back out the window.

“Not really, it's stupid high school drama shit,” Becca grumbled.

“If it's making you upset it's not stupid,” Steve interjected softly, making Becca sigh.

“Thanks Steve,” she said, “I just really don't want to think about it right now. My date was an asshole, that's the gist of it.”

“We can beat him up,” Bucky offered jokingly, making his little sister laugh.

“Thanks but no thanks you dork.”

Bucky shrugged as he turned back around.

“You just wanna go home?” Steve asked, looking at Becca in the rearview mirror.

“It's not like there's anything else to do,” Becca huffed.

“Sure there is, we could go to a movie, or go bowling,” Steve offered, making Bucky snort a laugh.

“Steve it's 2017, no one bowls but people in bowling leagues.”

Steve glared at Bucky for a second before rolling his eyes.

“What about Coney Island?” Becca chimed in from the backseat.

Bucky looked at Steve who gave him a look that said “why not?”.

“Sure, let's go,” Bucky said, elbowing Steve to get the car going.

The pier was surprisingly empty, but that might have been due to the chill the evening held and the fact that the season was almost over. Steve found a jacket in the back of his SUV for Becca to use; she beamed as she walked through the parking lot in her dress with a jacket that practically swallowed her up. Becca walked ahead of them for the most part, scouting out what she wanted to do and glancing back at the two of them occasionally. Steve had his hands in his jacket pockets and was walking close enough to Bucky that their arms would periodically brush against each other. It was a bit more intimate than Bucky was prepared for it to be.

“Thanks for agreeing to this,” Bucky started, just to break the silence between them.

“Of course Buck, your sister looks real sore about whatever happened, I'm glad we could do something to cheer her up,” Steve said, watching as Becca stopped in front of one of the games to examine it.

She decided that she wanted one of the little pink elephants hanging up as a prize. Bucky ended up forking over ten dollars for her to try twice before Steve took over and won it for her. Becca stuffed the thing under her arm before trotting off again toward a corn dog stand.

The three of them continued along, corn dogs in hand, following Becca's whim as she insisted on playing one game or another. She was milking their good will for all it was worth by asking for cotton candy and begging Bucky to go on all of the spinning rides he hated. He finally begged off of one of them, managing to get Becca to agree to let him sit out with a bit of Steve's help (and teasing). Bucky sat and watched the two of them wait in line, heads bent as they spoke. Becca would glance over at him from time to time, raising Bucky's suspicions as to what they were talking about. It probably wasn't good, knowing his little sister.

When he tried to ask her about it after they got off the ride Becca brushed off his question, exclaiming that they had to ride the Cyclone. He looked to Steve, who only gave him a guilty sort of look before following Becca. They rode the Cyclone twice because Becca was a brat and by the time they were done Bucky was seriously regretting the corndog.

 

 

“Can we ride the ferris wheel before we leave?” Becca asked, looking down at Bucky.

Steve was carrying her on his back after she tried to take her shoes off because they were hurting her feet. Bucky tried insisting that she would be fine, but Becca was all over the idea and was constantly taking Snapchats of the two of them.

“I don't see why not,” Bucky said with a shrug, looking over to see how Steve felt about the idea.

“Let's do it,” he confirmed, shifting Becca around as they headed toward the large wheel.

The line was rather short, so they were able to get on the ride quickly, the three of them piling into the gondola. Becca stretched out across one side, forcing Steve and Bucky to squeeze in next to each other on the opposite bench. They started up towards the top, the lights of the pier easily visible in the clear night.

“My date ditched me for some other girl,” Becca suddenly announced, looking out of the gondola as she spoke.

“That's fucked up,” Bucky said, making her laugh shortly.

“Yeah it is,” she sighed, “I liked him too.”

“His loss,” Steve chimed in, smiling when Becca looked over at him.

“Thanks guys, for cheering me up. It seems childish to be upset about that at my age, but I guess I'm not immune to it.”

“You've had to grow up pretty quickly Rebecca, you're allowed to do childish things every once in a while,” Bucky assured her.

Becca looked back out into the night, a faraway look in her eyes. Bucky knew it well; she was thinking about their father.

“Life sucks sometimes, so I guess all you can really do is surround yourself with good people who will take care of you, huh?” Becca sighed.

“Yeah,” Bucky murmured, glancing over in Steve's direction, only to catch him looking at Bucky.

They held each other's gaze for a moment before Bucky broke eye contact, looking at his feet.

“You gotta make sure to let people take care of you too,” Steve added.

The words held more weight for Bucky than he would have liked.

 

 

After the ferris wheel the air around the three of them was heavy for a moment or two before Becca hopped up onto Steve's back again. She yanked Bucky close and pulled out her phone, snapping a selfie of the three of them.

“Can I put this on my Instagram?” Becca asked, her words aimed more at Steve than Bucky.

“Sure,” Steve answered, as Becca typed away near his ear.

They walked back to the car with Becca going on about how much better this was than Homecoming. She asked if she could get dressed up for prom and have them do the same thing. Bucky agreed, but only if she wore flat shoes.

When they returned home Becca ran into the house to brag to Abby and Hanna about her night with only a short goodbye to Steve. Bucky shoved his hands in his pockets and peered across the space between his stoop and Steve's.

“Thanks again Steve,” Bucky said, offering a smile over to Steve.

“Anytime Buck, I mean it,” Steve returned, running a hand through his hair.

Bucky stared at where Steve's hair was mussed up for a few seconds too long before turning his eyes towards the front door.

“I better get going,” he sighed.

“Yeah it's getting late,” Steve agreed, though he didn't move at all.

They stood in silence, the air between them tense with something Bucky couldn't place his finger on.

“You know people care about you, right?” Steve suddenly blurted out, his face flushing immediately after the words left his mouth.

“I, yeah. Um, I know,” Bucky mumbled, chewing his lip and avoiding Steve's eyes.

“I mean, you do so much for your family and the people around you. I'm not trying to overstep; I just wonder when the last time you did something for yourself was.”

“We get together to watch movies all the time,” Bucky defended.

“You know what I mean,” Steve shot back.

Bucky snapped his gaze to Steve's.

“I really don't think I do,” he replied, clenching his jaw.

He shifted slightly and did his best to breath evenly through his nose. It wasn't right to be mad at Steve when he was technically right.

“Just, take it from me Buck, there is no perfect time to do something. If you wait too long the chance for something good might slip away,” Steve said wistfully.

The night around them seemed to stretch oddly as they fell back into silence, neither moving to leave. Bucky felt something unnamable shift between the two of them. Steve had offered a lot of vulnerability to Bucky over the time they'd known each other. He talked about his childhood and joining the Army, whereas Bucky had kept a wall around himself as he was wont to do. Sure, Steve was being vague, but Bucky knew enough to realize he was talking about Peggy, talking about regret. He knew he wasn't giving the same thing into their friendship as Steve, but he was so guarded. Bucky had gone years holding himself together for his family. It wasn't easy constantly having to put on a happy face. His eyes started to sting as tears welled up and he swallowed around the sudden lump in his throat.

“I'm scared,” Bucky whispered, fighting back the tears, “Every Time I've opened up to another person they've left and it hurts.”

“I don't plan on going anywhere Bucky,” Steve assured him, moving like he was going to touch Bucky only to realize there was too much space between the stoops.

“My father's death took so much from me and my family.”

“And you started working to support your mom and sisters right afterwards, right? Did you even get time to mourn?” Steve asked.

Bucky shook his head and lost his battle with the tears threatening to spill over. He was shocked when Steve climbed across the stoops and pulled Bucky into a hug, tucking his face against Steve's neck as he rubbed Bucky's back. He felt a little pathetic but he twisted one of his hands up in Steve's shirt to keep him where he was and let himself cry.

“You don't have to be so strong all the time Bucky,” Steve murmured, his voice right next to Bucky's ear.

It was strange for Bucky because he hadn't felt like he had been holding anything back, but as he stood against Steve he realized just how much he had buried. Steve quietly held Bucky and let him cry, rubbing his back until he managed to calm down enough to step back. He wiped at his eyes with the cuff of his jacket and hoped he didn't have any snot leaking out of his nose.

shrunky1

“Sorry,” he sniffed, looking at the wet spot he'd left on Steve's shirt.

“It's really okay Bucky,” Steve told him, pushing some of Bucky's hair behind his ear, “I wasn't trying to make you cry.”

Bucky shrugged.

“I don't think I've cried since my father died,” he admitted, sucking in a deep breath.

He knew he hadn't, which wasn't necessarily a good thing.

“Well you know I'm always here if you want to talk,” Steve offered, smiling softly.

“Yeah I know, thanks.”

Steve rubbed Bucky's arm real quick before stepping back to give him space.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

“Yeah, I'm better,” Bucky answered, giving Steve a smile to reassure him, “I really should get going though.”

Steve nodded and gave Bucky a hug, which he returned, before saying goodbye and walking down the stoop. Bucky didn't wait for Steve to reach his door like usual, instead he retreated inside the house quickly and leaned against the door. His eyes stung from crying and he was doing his best not to feel like an idiot for losing it in front of Steve. He looked up when he heard footsteps on the stairs and saw Hanna peering down at him.

“You okay?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Yeah,” he said, really meaning it for the first time in years.

Chapter Text

Bucky flinched back as Abby came at him again with the eyeliner pencil. She scowled and jerked his head back forward, almost poking him in the eye.

“Do you want my help or not?” she snapped.

“Just watch that thing,” he retorted.

Abby rolled her eyes, but was more careful when she came at his eye again with the pencil. He sat still while she finished up the eyeliner and whistled when she showed him the results in the mirror.

“See, told you I could do it well,” she bragged, “Though I stand by Dracula being the most boring thing you could be for Halloween.”

“We went with Universal monsters this year Abby, what else was I gonna be with long hair?” he asked, picking the cape up from his bed and draping it around his shoulders.

He picked the costume because it was easy and didn't involve him having to wear anything ridiculous. Becca was dressing up as a Wolf Man and had been spending the better part of an hour in the girl's bathroom teasing her hair.

“Still boring!” Abby sang as she scampered out of his room and bounced her way down the stairs.

Bucky grabbed his phone from his bed and checked it to see that Steve had texted him, he was coming over to hang out with Bucky and his ma for Halloween and had texted to let Bucky know he was almost ready.

Their friendship had grown by leaps and bounds after Bucky's mini breakdown on the stoop a few weeks ago. They had been hanging out a lot more, with Steve coming over almost regularly now for dinner on Fridays and the two of them having a standing movie night on Wednesdays. Bucky had been better about opening up to Steve and had told him more about his past couple of relationships and how they had deteriorated right in front of his face. Steve was great at listening and was more than happy to tell Bucky that the men he had dated were assholes. The closeness wasn't helping the crush Bucky tried to deny he had, but he was working on it. He still felt like there was too much going on in his life for him to try and take on a relationship.

After checking his costume one more time in the mirror, Bucky grabbed his phone and made his way downstairs. His ma was in the kitchen pouring out bowls of candy. She was dressed in a black shirt and pants with cat ears on and when he asked what she was supposed to be she told him she was from the movie The Black Cat.

“Steve should be over soon,” he informed her, checking the time.

“Oh good! The girls will be leaving soon for their school's Halloween carnival but hopefully we can all get a picture before they go.”

As if all four people could tell they were being talked about the girls started down the stairs loudly just as there was a knock on the door from Steve. Bucky could hear Abby opening the door for him and letting him into the house before she yelled through to the kitchen that Steve was there.

Bucky rolled his eyes just as his ma gave an exasperated look. The two of them made their way into the living room where the others were gathered. His ma went on about how cute they all looked with matching costumes; even Steve had joined in, coming dressed as the Phantom of the Opera. Abby was dressed as a lazy version of the Creature from the Black Lagoon while Hanna was made up to look like the lead actress from the movie. Bucky barely had time to greet Steve before they were all ushered together so they could take a picture. It took his ma several tries before she liked the photo and let the girls leave. They had a nine o'clock curfew and were eager to get out the door to start their festivities. Once they left Steve and Bucky set up folding chairs on the decked out stoop.

“Isn't Dracula kinda a boring costume?” Steve teased, squeezing into his chair next to Bucky.

They had little room and ended up with most of the outside of their legs pressed together.

“Says the guy dressed as The Phantom,” Bucky scoffed, nudging Steve with his elbow.

He was saved from Steve trying to dump him out of his chair when his ma came out with drinks for them, giving the two men a rueful look for acting like children. Steve thanked her for the drink and took a sip his eyes growing wide as he gave the cup a dubious look.

“Yeah Ma likes to make it strong,” Bucky commented, before taking swig from his own cup and trying not to grimace.

“I can't get drunk but this might just do the trick,” Steve joked, grinning at Bucky's ma, who called both of them babies as she tucked into her cup.

They had a steady stream of trick-or-treaters through the night, to keep entertained they started counting how many Avengers costumes they saw. Steve got away with not be recognized thanks to his phantom mask and Bucky couldn't blame him any longer for his choice of costume. He knew that Steve sometimes just wanted to blend into the background, especially during things like Halloween. Even retired he attracted more attention than he wanted to.

The girls came home shortly before nine as the crowd of parents and kids was dying down and so they packed up things and turned off the porch light. They all sat in the living room for a while as the girls talked about the carnival, but before long Bucky's ma was begging off to bed since she had work in the morning. Bucky shooed the girls off shortly after and headed to the kitchen to finish cleaning up from dinner. Steve followed to keep him company, the two of them partially disassembling their costumes to be more comfortable. Once the kitchen was clean they sat at the island, chatting as they snacked on leftover candy.

“Thanks for inviting me over,” Steve said, tossing a mini Snicker's wrapper onto their pile, “Tony was having some obnoxious party that I was glad to have an excuse to get out of.”

“Well we're always glad to be your excuse Steve,” Bucky teased, gaining a look from Steve.

“You know what I mean. I really enjoy your company Buck, you know that,” he said with more conviction than Bucky was comfortable with.

He jolted when he felt Steve's hand on his and stared in surprise as Steve carefully looked over his face. Bucky was frozen with shock as Steve leaned forward and kissed him. It took Bucky a moment to process what was going on, but as soon as he did he jerked back and stood up, his stool scrapping loudly against the floor. Steve looked across the kitchen at him, a flush rising to his cheeks before he averted his gaze to the floor.

“Steve-”

“I'm sorry.”

They sat in silence for a few breaths. When Bucky figured Steve wasn't going to say anything again he spoke up.

“Steve, I'm sorry, I just, I can't,” he managed, sighing loudly.

“No it's alright. I thought, well, I thought wrong,” Steve said, not looking at Bucky.

“Maybe, um. I think it might be best if you go now.”

Steve nodded silently and moved past Bucky, putting much more room between them than he usually would.

“I uh,” Bucky started, making Steve pause to look back at him, “I'm probably going to go work out on my own tomorrow morning.”

When Steve's face dropped Bucky's stomach went with it.

“Yeah, that's fine. I really am sorry Buck. I'll give you some space.”

Bucky couldn't think of anything else to say and when he stayed silent for more than a few seconds Steve turned and headed out of the kitchen. He waited until he heard the front door close and then went to lock it. After standing in front of the door for far too long he retreated up the stairs, ignoring Becca who stuck her head out at him as he went. When he reached his room he sunk to the floor in front of his door and ran his fingers through his product filled hair, trying to fight back the emotions that threatened to bubble over.

He managed to drag himself to the shower and wash off the makeup he had left over. There was so much going through his head that he couldn't sort through it all and eventually stopped trying to. Steve had kissed him and Bucky pushed him away. Bucky didn't even think Steve was interested in men, let alone him. He stood in the shower until the water started getting cold. There was a cacophony going on in Bucky's head. He didn't want a relationship, he didn't have time, or energy. That was what he told everyone who asked. It was what he told himself. He was feeling a lot of turmoil, Bucky thought, for someone who insisted he didn't want a relationship.

When Bucky was finally dried and bundled into his bed, he checked his phone by habit. He had no new messages, which he tried to tell himself didn't make him upset.

Chapter Text

It had been almost two weeks since Bucky had started to avoid Steve. At first he tried to tell himself that wasn't what he was doing, but he was. Becca noticed first and cornered him, but he fought off her accusations that something was wrong. When his ma finally sat down and talked to him about it he just told her that he and Steve had a disagreement and he wasn't taking it well. She seemed to accept that as an answer and after that the girls stopped bugging him about it.

Steve hadn't tried to contact him at all, true to his word about giving Bucky space. They had run into each other at the grocery store but went their separate ways awkwardly. He felt like shit for avoiding Steve, but couldn't find it in himself to try to explain what he was thinking. Bucky didn't even know what he was thinking anymore, except that he missed Steve more than he thought he would.

 

 

Bucky set his plate on the table and sat down heavily, all three of the girls looking at him skeptically as he did. They were having to eat without their ma because she was working a late shift at the hospital. It had been a quiet few weeks in the house without Steve coming by and everyone had mentioned it at least once.

“Tell me again why Steve isn't joining us?” Abby asked, frustration clear in her voice.

Bucky shot her a look before silently starting into his food.

“It's because something happened and Bucky won't talk about it and now he's avoiding Steve,” Becca answered sardonically.

“I still can't believe you two got into a fight,” Hanna added innocently.

“Can we please drop it?” Bucky all but snapped.

Becca dropped her fork down with a clatter and glared at him across the table.

“You're the one moping around the house not telling us what happened! We have a right to know why you're suddenly trying to cut Steve out of our lives!” she ranted, voice raising.

“Rebecca, drop it.”

“Seriously, we tried asking Steve but he said it would be best if we talked to you and now you're not telling us. It isn't fair Bucky,” Abby interjected.

Bucky clenched his teeth at the thought of them going to Steve.

“We're just worried, you've been so sad these past couple of weeks,” Hanna said softly.

He groaned and covered his face with his hands.

“He kissed me,” Bucky admitted through his fingers, dropping his hands to find all three girls gaping at him.

“And your response is to avoid him!?” Becca practically shouted, “He likes you you enormous ass how are you going to let this pass you by?”

“I don't have the time,” he argued, biting his lip.

“That's a load of horseshit,” Abby cried.

“Abby, watch your language.”

“No! You and Steve are basically dating anyways so don't tell us you don't have the time because you do!”

“Abby there is a lot of time invested into the emotional aspects of a relationship,” he shot back, “I'm busy working and taking care of you all.”

Becca slammed her hands down on the table and stood up.

“Stop using us as an excuse James! You chose to stay and help, no one asked you to,” she yelled.

“Hey!” he snapped.

“No! Fuck you for putting off your life because of us. It doesn't make us feel good. You're not dad! You can't fill the void he left so stop trying!” Becca went on, before shoving her chair back against the wall and fleeing the room.

The other two girls watched her go with wide eyes, before turning them on Bucky, who was sitting there in shock. A few seconds of Becca stomping on the stairs and the three of them flinched when she slammed her door closed. Bucky looked carefully at the other two. Abby's eyes looked wet from where he was sitting and Hanna was staring at her plate.

“Do you two feel the same?” he asked cautiously.

“We know you like him Bucky, we can all see it,” Abby answered, shrugging.

“None of us hate that you stayed, but this wasn't meant to be a long term thing. We just want you to be able to live your life,” Hanna said, smiling at him.

Bucky sighed and ran a hand through his hair.

“I'm gonna go talk to Rebecca, do you two mind cleaning up?”

Abby and Hanna both nodded and stood to start collecting the dishes even though there was still most of dinner left. Bucky took a moment to collect himself before he left the dining room and made his way up to Becca's room. He knocked, not expecting her to answer, but she surprised him by opening the door slightly and glaring at him. It was obvious she had been crying and he felt terrible for her.

“Can I come in?” he asked softly.

She didn't answer, but she did move out of the way and open the door wider so he could enter. He sat on the edge of her bed as she climbed into the corner and hugged a pillow.

“You know I'm not trying to replace Dad right? There is no way I could.”

She nodded.

“I was just mad, I know you're not,” she said with a shaky sigh.

“It's just, complicated, with Steve and how I feel,” he told her.

“I really don't think it is Bucky. You like him right?” Becca asked.

Bucky swallowed thickly and looked at his feet.

“Yeah, I do,” he admitted, saying it out loud for the first time.

“So go for it.”

“It's harder than that.”

“No it isn't. He likes you, you like him, so be together. Please, don't give up someone like Steve because of us,” she said, “Because of me.”

He moved closer to her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders to pull her into his side.

“Rebecca, you're in not responsible for what happens to me, or what happened to Dad. I know you think you are-”

“I am!” she interrupted, “He was coming to see my recital and-”

“Stop it Rebecca,” he said cutting her off.

She sniffed loudly and gripped his shirt.

“You and Steve are perfect together and I know it may not always be easy but Ma says any relationship worth having isn't.”

Bucky released Becca and sighed.

“What's stopping you?” she asked.

He sat silently for a moment before deciding to just tell her.

“I'm scared of being hurt again.”

“Steve isn't like those other guys you dated Bucky, he likes us as much as he likes you, it's so stupidly obvious. I mean, he went with us to Coney Island after my dance was a bust! Who does that? He's so freakin' good it's almost gross. Steve isn't going to leave because of us and I sure as shit doubt he'd leave because of you unless you cheated on him or something,” she said.

Bucky looked at her skeptically but she held up a finger to keep him from talking so she could go on.

“He's been just as miserable as you, I've gone and talked to him. He feels like he fucked up and he's gonna lose you. He told me he'd take it back if he could just so he could be your friend again.”

She looked over at him with stark determination.

“I didn't think he was that affected,” Bucky mumbled.

“Well then you're more of an idiot than I thought you were,” she quipped, “Look, even if you're going to continue to punish yourself by not being with him, at least let him know you still want to be friends.”

He nodded.

“Yeah, I think, I mean. I'll think about it,” he promised, standing up.

“I guess that's better than nothing. I'm sorry I yelled at you.”

“Well I'm sorry I gave you reason to yell. We're good right?”

Becca nodded, “Yeah, we're good.”

She stood up and hugged him before ushering him out of her room. Abby and Hanna were sitting in the hallway and looked up at him as he closed Becca's door.

“So?” Abby asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Her and I are good.”

“Yeah we don't care about that, what about Steve?”

Bucky groaned and ignored their indignant yelling as he retreated up to his room and locked them out. He flopped onto his own bed and pulled out his phone before pulling up his text thread with Steve. His fingers hovered over the keyboard, but he couldn't bring himself to type anything out. In the end he just started scrolling through their previous conversations, looking at all the pictures they'd sent each other and what they had talked about.

It was almost eleven and Bucky was still lying awake in his bed, thinking over everything Becca and the girls had said. He knew, on some level, that they were right, but coming to terms with it himself was rough. Steve liked him and he liked Steve. It should be simple. Bucky sat up in his bed suddenly.

“You're being a fucking idiot,” he said out loud, before grabbing his phone.

It was simple. He was thirty not thirteen, so he figured he should act like it and go talk to Steve. Bucky could lay out his concerns and see how Steve felt and they could go from there, like adults.

“You awake?” he texted, sending his first message to Steve in two weeks and not really expecting an answer.

His phone went of almost immediately.

“Yeah,” was Steve's reply.

“Can I come over? I wanna talk to you and apologize,” Bucky sent back.

There was a longer wait for Steve's next reply, but when he did he told Bucky he would be waiting by the door.

Bucky jumped from his bed, not even caring to change out of his sleep pants before he quietly went downstairs, startled slightly when he saw his ma on the couch reading. She looked up at him and raised a questioning eyebrow.

“I'm uh, going over to Steve's,” he told her, to which she raised the other eyebrow.

“Oh! Well, I hope things go well,” she said, waving him off.

When Bucky reached Steve’s door he didn't even have to knock before Steve was opening it. The two of them stared at each other quietly before Steve moved so Bucky could come in. He looked around the living room he had seen a dozen times rather than risk looking at Steve.

“Did you wanna sit?” Steve asked, moving around Bucky, giving him a wide berth like the night he kissed him.

“Yeah,” Bucky breathed, following Steve to the couch.

Steve sat much further away from him than was their norm and Bucky tried not to be hurt by it. He had to remind himself that he was the one who hurt Steve, not the other way around.

“I wanna start by apologizing,” Bucky said, glancing over at Steve, who was looking bleakly at him, “I freaked out and didn't react well and it wasn't right for me to push you away like I did.”

“I guess I should have asked before I kissed you,” Steve tried, only to have Bucky shake his head vehemently.

“No, it's not your fault Steve, none of this is. You kissed me because you were reading the atmosphere of the situation. I know you said you thought wrong but you didn't.”

Steve gave Bucky a cautiously hopeful look.

“What's that supposed to mean Buck?”

“It means that I was probably projecting that I wanted you to kiss me, because I did, but I freaked out because I'm so fucking terrified of things going poorly that I don't even want to try,” he explained.

“So you are interested then?”

“Yes! Of course I am, but then there's this loud part of me that tells me it's all going to go to shit. I don’t know how to shut it up.”

Steve sighed and tapped his fingers on his thigh before staring at Bucky seriously.

“Bucky, I need you to tell me honestly what you want. If you just want to stay friends that's fine, I can handle that. I'm an adult and can rein in my feelings and I will if it means I don't lose you altogether.”

Bucky felt his stomach dip at Steve's words, he chewed on the inside of his lip at he thought about what to say.

“I don't want to be just friends. I want more than that with you, you're so good to me and my family that sometimes I think you might not be real. I've just been waiting for the other shoe to drop and I have to get over that.”

Steve cracked a small smile and ventured to move closer to Bucky on the couch.

“You don't have to get over it alone Bucky. I told you already that I'm not going anywhere. You and your family are so important to me now. I was so scared I had done something to ruin that.”

“You didn't, I did. I've hated every day since I pushed you away and I'm pretty sure my family hates me for it. I just, I need to try to get over my fears of, of-”

“Of putting yourself before your family?” Steve interjected.

“Yeah,” Bucky sighed, “I've been doing everything for them for the past four years and at first I'm pretty sure they were grateful but now they just want me to live my life.”

“Well what do you want to do?” Steve asked carefully.

Bucky mulled over the question for a moment before answering.

“I want to live my life too. I know I've been putting things off for them and I don't want them to ever think I'd resent them for doing that,” he looked over at Steve, “I don't want you to resent me either, for pushing you away.”

Steve reached out and took one of Bucky's hands in his, smiling.

“I was just giving you space for now, I wasn't giving up, just so you know. But I am glad that you came over here and explained everything to me. I want you to know that I'm more than willing to try and work things out with us. I really do like you Buck, enough that it kind of scares me too sometimes,” Steve rambled.

Bucky gave his hand a squeeze and smiled back.

“Okay, so I'm just going to say it plainly then, so there's no confusion. I like you Steve, a lot, and I wanna date the fuck out of you.”

“You have no idea how happy it makes me to hear that Bucky,” Steve said softly, pushing some of Bucky's hair back with his free hand before cupping his cheek, “If I kiss you are you going to freak out again?”

“Definitely not,” Bucky breathed, leaning in the last little bit between them.

Steve gracefully moved closer to Bucky along the couch, sweeping the hand against his cheek back to cradle his head and he slotted their lips together more surely. Bucky lost his passiveness after a second and set his available hand against Steve's neck, moving the one holding Steve's hand so their fingers were tangled up. The first (second technically) kiss was relatively brief, the two of them parting just enough to breath before coming back together a second time. Bucky slid the hand on Steve's neck down his arm, feeling a hint of Steve's muscles as he went. The maneuver was a bad idea and Bucky had to break the kiss before much more blood decided to migrate south. He would never be able to hide a hard on in his sleep pants.

“I wanna take you on a date,” Steve announced, smiling like a dope as he lightly ran his thumb along Bucky's bottom lip, “But I also wanna make out with you on my couch.”

“Who says we can't do both?” Bucky asked, raising an eyebrow.

“It wouldn't be moving too fast?” Steve asked sincerely.

Bucky stopped to seriously consider the question before shrugging.

“I mean, we've technically gone on a shit ton of dates,” Bucky argued, gaining an unconvinced look from Steve, “Plus, we're adults, I think if we both decide we want to make out on your couch than it's okay. Which I totally want to do by the way.”

Steve laughed shortly before pulling Bucky back to him and kissing him much more passionately. He let go of Bucky's hand to slide his arm around his back so they were touching from hip to head. Bucky tried to fight back a moan at the feel of Steve against him, but wasn't completely successful. As Bucky continued to get lost in the kiss he slid his hands against Steve's pecs, earning some tongue from Steve for his trouble.

He groaned, which caused Steve to tighten the hold that he had on him and in a move that demonstrated Steve's strength he swiftly moved Bucky into his lap. Steve pulled back, his eyes roving over Bucky's face, which he was sure was very red.

“This okay?”

“Very,” Bucky answered, wrapping his arms around Steve neck and moving back in.

Steve's hands skated under Bucky's shirt, the cool feel of Steve's hands causing him to arch his back slightly. Steve grinned into the kiss before cautiously moving along to Bucky's jaw and then eventually down to his neck. He teethed at the skin that connected Bucky's neck to his shoulder, making him hiss. Bucky found himself rolling his hips forward, a delicious gasp falling from Steve's lips. Steve's hands left his back to grip Bucky's hips, stilling him.

“Sorry,” Bucky breathed, looking over Steve's face for any sign he had overstepped.

“It's alright, I've just, I haven't done this before,” Steve admitted, making Bucky tense up.

“With anyone or with-”

“Neither, but I wasn't interested in women,” Steve said, holding up a finger to stop Bucky from talking, “I had my big gay epiphany when I was seventeen Buck, you don't need to worry about me having it now. I'm just a little overwhelmed and extremely turned on. I don't want us to do more than we want just because we're in the moment.”

“Of course, sorry, I shouldn't have assumed you'd freak out. We don't have to do anything more than what you’re comfortable with Steve.”

“What about what you're comfortable with?” Steve asked.

Bucky shrugged.

“I'm comfortable with a lot, especially with you.”

Steve blushed a beautiful shade of red as Bucky felt Steve's dick twitch against his thigh. He gave Steve an assessing look and smirked. He gave a slow roll of his hips and was giddy when Steve didn't try to stop him.

“We can call it a night if you want?” Bucky asked, leaning in close to Steve's ear.

“I really don't want to,” Steve said, breathing heavy.

“I kinda figured. What do you want Steve? How far do you want to go tonight? Just so I know.”

He waited patiently for Steve's answer.

“I wanna get you off Buck,” Steve answered, “I’ve sorta been dreaming about it for a while now.”

Bucky groaned loudly and shoved his face in Steve's neck.

“We can arrange that.”

Steve smiled coly before using his strength to grind Bucky against him, the two of them moaning simultaneously.

“How?” Steve managed to ask.

“Hands,” Bucky answered, wiggling his fingers in front of Steve's face and grinning.

He dove back in to kiss Steve and grabbed Steve's shirt to pull him with him as he laid out on the couch. Steve braced himself over Bucky, looking down at him with disbelief on his face.

“Too much?” Bucky asked, checking in.

“No, definitely not,” Steve answered, dropping his hips down to grind against Bucky again.

They were both wearing thin cotton pants, so there wasn't much between them and Bucky was able to get a pretty good idea of what Steve was working with. He arched his back up as Steve pushed Bucky's shirt up to his armpits and then ran his hands back down his chest. Bucky gasped when Steve's thumbs brushed over his nipples, the sound making Steve smirk.

“Too much?” Steve snarked.

Bucky snorted and grabbed a handful of Steve's ass before pressing his clothed dick against Steve's lower stomach.

“Definitely not,” he parroted, smiling.

Steve laughed shortly before sinking down to suck along Bucky's neck again. Bucky kept one hand on Steve's ass, the other tangling into Steve's short hair. He slipped his thumb under the waistband of Steve's pants, judging his reaction, before sliding Steve's pants down to rest just under his ass. Steve moved to pull out his cock from where it got caught in the pants and Bucky looked down Steve's torso to appreciate. When Steve caught him looking Bucky didn't say anything, but instead moved the hand from Steve's head down to loosely grip his cock. Steve dropped his forehead against Bucky's shoulder and groaned.

“Buck,” he breathed heavily.

“Yeah sweetheart?” Bucky asked innocently.

He caught a bit of pre-come with his thumb and massaged it around Steve's head before taking his hands away from Steve to push his own pants down. Steve glanced down as he did and sucked in a breath.

“God you're gorgeous Bucky,” Steve said reverently, making Bucky blush.

Bucky bit his lip and surged up to kiss Steve to stop him from complimenting him anymore. Steve melted against Bucky, the two of the pressed together completely, and then rolled his hips. They both gasped loudly as their dicks slid together.

“Fuck,” Bucky breathed, grasping Steve's ass again like a lifeline, “Do you have any lube?”

“In my room,” Steve answered, not losing the rhythm they were working up, moving against each other.

“Fuck that,” Bucky laughed, before looking over to Steve's coffee table, “This is ill advised, but I'm way too turned on to care.”

He snatched a bottle of lotion off of the table and poured some onto one of his hands before reaching down and griping both of them in his now slick hand. A groan was punched out of Steve on his next thrust and he ducked his head back down to mouth at Bucky's shoulder.

“There you go Steve,” Bucky encouraged, basking in the feel of Steve's cock sliding against his own.

“I'm not gonna last Buck,” Steve whined, his hips snapping forward desperately.

“Then don't, come on baby, mess me up.”

Steve panted against Bucky's neck as he lost of bit of his rhythm, his hips stuttering quickly before he sucked in a breath a came over Bucky's stomach. Bucky loosened his grip on the two of them and smirked as he wrapped an arm around Steve to hold him.

“How're you doing?” Bucky asked after a few moments.

He got a muffled response.

“I'm sorry what?”

Steve pulled himself off of Bucky enough to answer clearly.

“You didn't come,” he announced.

“Not yet,” Bucky said, grinning, “You can change that if you wanna, but you certainly don't have to.”

“I said I wanted to get you off,” Steve recalled, sitting up and back on his heels.

He looked a little nervously at Bucky before reaching for his dick, which was still slick enough that Bucky didn't feel the need to grab more lotion.

“I'm not entirely sure what to do,” Steve admitted shyly.

“Just do what you would for yourself Steve, I'll let you know if I don't like anything.”

Steve nodded before he sured up his grasp and ran his thumb along the slit on the head of Bucky's dick. He whined and bucked off the couch, trying to fuck Steve's fist, only to have Steve press his hips down and hold him there.

“Stevie please,” Bucky begged, rolling his head back and straining his neck.

Steve took the opening and bent down to suck gently at his neck again.

“I got you Buck,” Steve soothed, loosening his hand enough to jack Bucky pleasantly.

Bucky moaned loudly his hands coming to hold Steve's arms for support as Steve worked his hand over Bucky's dick.

“Fuck that's so good Steve,” Bucky gasped, writhing beneath Steve's hands, “I'm almost there.”

Steve moved his free hand to Bucky's chest and rolled one of Bucky's nipples between his thumb and finger. Bucky arched off the couch again, chasing his orgasm as Steve's hand sped up.

“You're so beautiful like this Bucky,” Steve complimented, “but I really wanna see how you look when you come.”

Bucky groaned loudly at Steve's words and arched up off the couch one last time as his orgasm came upon him and his come mixed with Steve's on his stomach. He collapsed bonelessly to the couch, breathing heavily as Steve slowed his hand, dragging the last bit of Bucky's orgasm out of him. When Bucky was finally done twitching Steve leaned in to place a surprisingly chaste kiss to Bucky's lips. He combed his fingers gently through Bucky's hair as he came down from his post orgasm glow.

Steve gave Bucky one last soft kiss before he stood up, pulling his pants up as he went into the kitchen and returned with the damp towel. Bucky sat up and took it from Steve so he could wipe himself down as Steve sat down next to him. When he was finished he pulled his own pants back up and looked over at Steve.

“You really are gorgeous you know?” Steve asked, making Bucky flush.

“Yeah well, you ain't so bad yourself,” Bucky mumbled, a little awkward.

“I still wanna take you out on a date.”

Bucky couldn't help but laugh and lean in to give Steve a quick kiss.

“I still wanna go on one with you,” he assured Steve, taking his hand, “I'm sorry I was such an ass about all this.”

Steve shrugged.

“I'm not gonna lie, it sucked, but I think us fucking on the couch probably made up for it.”

“Only probably?” Bucky joked, the two of them laughing together.

 

 

They ended up ordering a pizza and lounging around watching a movie like they always do, except Steve was a lot more vocal about wanting to cuddle with Bucky. He had been worried things would be different between them, but Steve was his usual self, just a lot more relaxed after a good orgasm. It was late when Bucky left, the two of them kissing for far too long at Steve's door; Bucky had to beg off or else he was going to end up trying to get into Steve's pants again. Not that Steve was exactly against the idea.

Chapter Text

Bucky and Steve had a date planned for Friday. He kept quiet about it to his family for the time being, not wanting to deal with all of the questions they would surely ask. Rebecca had asked about how it went after Bucky returned from Steve's and he gave a vague answer to avoid telling her the truth. Regardless of how positive he was feeling he was still apprehensive about letting himself be in any sort of relationship.

When Friday night rolled around Bucky told his ma that he and Steve were going to a movie (nothing unusual for them). She was glad that they were talking judging from the way she had hugged Bucky before he retreated upstairs to get ready. He generally didn't care too much about what he wore when he and Steve hung out, but they were going out to a rather nice restaurant. Bucky stared at the clothes he had thrown on his bed and groaned, Rebecca was always way better at fashion than he was. It was a risk to ask for her help, but he figured he owed it to her after all she did to kick his ass into gear. Bucky texted her to come up to his room and sat down on his bed to wait.

“You know,” Becca said as she pushed his door open, “I'm not some hired help that will come when you beacon.

She stopped in his doorway and gave him a puzzled look as she took in the sight before her.

“Ok, I give. What the fuck are you doing?”

“Close the door,” he told her, waiting for her to comply before he stood up and leveled her with a look.

“What I say here doesn't get to Ma and the twins,” Bucky said, crossing his arms.

Becca mimicked his stance and raised an eyebrow.

“How much you gonna pay me?” she asked, entirely serious.

“I'm gonna pay you in information,” he shot back.

“You have my attention,” Becca said, narrowing her eyes suspiciously.

Bucky sighed and bit at his lip nervously.

“I have a date with Steve and I don't know what to wear,” he admitted, watching as a giant grin overtook Becca's face.

“Oh. My. Goodness. No way. No way, no way, no way! So when you went over to Steve's the other night and said “things went well” you meant-”

“They went very well,” Bucky interrupted, “Look, I'm not going into details. I just need your help and discretion.”

“Why aren't you telling Ma?” Becca questioned.

“Because.”

“Because?”

“Just because Becca, you wanna help or not?”

His little sister stood there staring at him before she scoffed and rolled her eyes.

“You're not telling Ma because you don't think it'll last,” she accused.

“I don't know Becca, I mean, there's no telling how tonight will go.”

“Good!” she snapped, “It'll go good because you and Steve are stupid about each other. You just need to accept that and not sabotage yourself!”

“Ok, ok. If things go well tonight I'm gonna tell Ma and the twins alright? Please, help me pick something nice to wear?”

Becca nodded and rubbed her hands together before she descended on the pile of clothes on his bed.

The two of them worked almost right up to the time Bucky had to meet Steve outside getting his outfit just right. He was happy with the results by the time he was sneaking out of the house as Becca distracted their ma so she wouldn’t notice how well he was dressed.

Steve was waiting just outside and smiled softly at Bucky as he walked down the stoop to meet him on the sidewalk.

“You look amazing,” Steve complimented, taking Bucky’s hand and kissing his cheek.

“Thanks, Becca helped me pick it out. You look real nice too,” Bucky said, taking in Steve’s crisp looking button up and leather jacket.

A slight flush rose to Steve’s cheeks before he tugged on Bucky’s hand to lead him toward his car.

They talked about their respective days as they drove to the restaurant, the atmosphere much more comfortable than it had been between them since Bucky knew Steve. He figured it was because the tension of their attraction to each other was finally broken since they decided to give this a go.

Once they got to the restaurant Steve had the car valeted before taking Bucky’s hand again as they walked into the building. Bucky was slightly worried about Steve being recognized, but they were greeted promptly and led briskly to a private booth toward the back of the establishment. It was a fancy place, Bucky knew, having seen the building many times when in the downtown area. The place was too expensive for the whole family to go to, not to mention the girls would never behave well enough. Bucky stopped himself from saying so after the waiter left with their wine order, only to remember that Steve wasn’t going to tell him to talk about something besides his family. When he told Steve what he had thought Steve chuckled as he looked over the menu.

“Rebecca would do well here I think, but I doubt taking all three girls here at once would go over well,” Steve agreed, smiling across the table at Bucky.

They sat for a few moments just holding each other’s gaze before Bucky looked down at his menu.

“Have you been here before?” he asked, trying to start any sort of conversation again.

Steve hummed, but shook his head.

“Natasha suggested it,” Steve answered, “She said the salmon is really good.”

“Does she, uh, know?”

“Yeah, of course she does. Her and Sam both. I held off on letting Tony in on it just yet. He’s the type to try and crash a first date.”

Bucky couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of Tony Stark dropping in on them.

“I only told Rebecca,” Bucky admitted, swallowing nervously as he looked up to see Steve staring at him, “It’s just because, I mean-”

“Buck,” Steve interjected, reaching across the table to touch his arm, “It’s alright. You get to do things at your speed. I realize how big a deal it is that we’re here in the first place.”

“It shouldn’t be though,” Bucky sighed, “I mean, we already, uh, you know,” he said vaguely, flapping a hand, “A date shouldn’t be a big deal after that.”

Steve shrugged.

“Sex and romance are completely different things,” he said, setting his menu down.

Bucky nodded in agreement, but hid behind his menu until the waiter came back with their wine. He took their orders and set off, leaving the two of them alone again.

“I haven’t been on a date in years,” Bucky told Steve, taking a sip of his wine and trying not to feel awkward.

“Yeah, no offense Bucky, but I might have you beat on that front,” Steve teased, smirking.

“Okay wow, you can’t use being frozen time against me,” Bucky argued, making Steve laugh.

It was nice that their dynamic hadn’t changed much, they still teased each other. The only real difference was that Steve was trying to play footsie with Bucky under the table.

“I think the fact that I was frozen gives me the right to use it against you,” Steve retorted, skating the top of his shoe up the back of Bucky’s calf, making him shiver.

“You’re actually the worst person ever. It’s a shame America didn’t know the kind of person you really are,” Bucky commented.

“I didn’t want America to know. I only let people I care about really know who I am,” Steve said with too much conviction for Bucky’s comfort.

“Am I one of the lucky few?” he asked.

“Of course Bucky, I can count on both hands the people who know what I’m really like.”

Bucky smiled shyly across the table and leaned forward to rest his arms on the table.

“I’m glad.”

They returned home after almost closing the restaurant. Steve tipped so well that their waiter didn’t seem to care that they took a table for almost three hours. The dinner was good, but Bucky felt like his company was way better. He and Steve got on so well that Bucky was regretful that he was so apprehensive about allowing Steve over the walls he put up.

“So, did you have a good time?” Steve asked as they stood in front of Bucky’s stoop.

“Do you really have to ask?” Bucky returned, glancing at the curtained living room window before stepping in close to Steve.

Steve smirked and wrapped an arm around Bucky to pull him in more before dropping a sweetly chaste kiss to his lips.

“Well I had a great time, if you couldn’t tell,” he said quietly, pulling back just enough for the tips of their noses to brush.

“I’m glad, it uh, eased a bit of my worries that this transition has been seamless,” Bucky admitted, nervously licking his bottom lip.

“I think that’s proof that we should have been doing this sooner,” Steve pointed out, leaning back in for a second kiss when the front door was wrenched open.

The two of them jumped back from each other by instinct and looked up the stairs to see a wide eyed Abby gapping at them. Her surprise morphed into a shit eating grin.

“Ma!” she hollered over her shoulder, “Bucky and Steve were about to make out on the front steps!”

Bucky was up the stoop in two steps before he started trying to shove Abby back in the door.

“Get back inside and mind your own business you brat!” he snapped, having almost accomplished his goal when he looked inside and saw his ma standing on the stairs with her hands on her hips.

“James Buchanan Barnes I swear on my grandfather’s grave if you’re dating that man and you didn’t tell me I’m going to ground you for the rest of your life.”

“I’m thirty, you can’t ground me!” Bucky argued, the words flying out of his mouth before he could stop them.

Abby laughed.

“You’re so dead,” she said under her breath, before she scampered away.

Bucky was ready to close the door and try to run when Steve came up behind him, placing a gentle hand on the small of his back and probably giving his ma that innocent smile of his.

“We were just coming in to tell you when Abby caught us,” Steve lied, leading Bucky through the door.

“Oh, well then. Sit down, tell me how this came about,” Ma said happily, her demeanor changing drastically as she ushered the two of them to a couch.

They sat and retold the story of Bucky going over to apologize the week before (leaving out certain details). The girls all migrated downstairs as they spoke and when the story was done the whole family was crowded around like Bucky was telling the story of his first born child. They suffered through listening to his ma go on about how happy she was and how she knew from the get go that they were made for each other. She seemed nowhere near finishing up so Bucky begged off, telling her that Steve had to get home. That was enough for her to let them go, so Steve said good-night to everyone before Bucky walked him to his own door.

“Did you want to come in?” Steve asked, raising a suggestive eyebrow.

Bucky sighed.

“As much as I would love to, if I do they will absolutely know what we’re up to,” Bucky said, grimacing.

Steve blushed and looked bashfully off to the side.

“I suppose you’re right,” he said quietly, “Well either way, I’m still going to kiss you good-night.”

“I sure hope you are,” Bucky laughed, stepping closer and moving onto the balls of his feet so he could initiate.

They spent far too long wrapped up in each other on Steve’s front steps and when they finally broke apart Steve frowned dramatically.

“Oh stop,” Bucky laughed, rolling his eyes.

“I have no idea what you mean,” Steve said innocently.

Bucky petted Steve’s hip with his thumb as he thought.

“I’ll tell you what,” he started, grinning salaciously, “You go inside and change and get nice and comfy in bed and then give me a call. How about that?”

Steve’s eyebrows flew toward his hairline as he looked down at Bucky.

“Are you insinuating what I think you’re insinuating?” he asked in a hushed tone.

“I guess you’ll just have to wait and see,” Bucky answered, leaving Steve with one last dirty kiss before he retreated down the steps and back into his own house.

Chapter Text

The kitchen was quiet save for the sound of Bucky frying vegetables and Steve’s soft humming as he breaded fillets. Steve had started humming something that sounded old and Bucky found himself swaying to it slightly as he cooked. He could hear the soft chanter of his ma’s voice as she spoke on the phone in the living room. The girls were all upstairs working on homework they needed to turn in before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Life was good, so naturally Bucky was anxious. He and Steve had been dating for only a couple of weeks. The idea of it was still very new to Bucky, but nothing majored changed between the two of them besides the fact they kissed. That and Steve was prone to getting into Bucky’s pants when they were alone in his house. There was still, something, itching at the back of Bucky’s mind, telling him it was a terrible idea, but he did his best to ignore it.

Steve brought the fillets over when he was finished and ushered Bucky out of the way so he could put them in the oven. In the other room Bucky heard his ma hang up before moving into the kitchen.

“I just got off the phone with my mother,” she announced, smiling, “She told me she couldn’t believe you had a boyfriend and that we should bring Steve with us.”

Bucky didn’t know where it came from, but before he could stop himself he turned to look at his ma and said: “Steve’s not my boyfriend.”

He froze as soon as the words left his mouth and looked over to see Steve staring at him with wide eyes. His ma was gaping at him and looked about ready to bring the fury of hell down on him.

“Bucky,” Steve said evenly, “Do you think we can step onto the back porch?”

Bucky nodded solemnly and followed Steve outside, checking to make sure his ma took over at the stove. They walked out the back door and sat down on the small porch, their shoulders brushing. Steve looked out into the sad excuse for a backyard for a moment before sighing.

“Do you not think we’re dating?” Steve asked, still staring ahead.

“Yeah I do, I mean, we’ve been going out on dates, that’s the definition of dating,” Bucky answered, picking at his jeans.

“But you said I’m not your boyfriend.”

“Well no, those are two different things.”

Steve shifted so he was facing Bucky more and looked at him hard.

“I think we’ve had a failure in communication. Maybe you should explain to me the difference, because I don’t think there is one,” Steve said.

Bucky took a minute to gather his thoughts. It made sense that there might be a disconnect between them seeing as they were raised in two completely different eras. Sometimes Bucky forgot that.

“Okay, so, dating is casual you know? We go out on dates but it’s not, you know, a commitment. It’s like a probation period,” Bucky started, seeing that Steve wasn’t following, “It’s just, dating doesn’t mean mutually exclusive to some people.”

“So for you dating is the step before?”

Bucky nodded.

“Okay,” Steve breathed, “Um, doesn’t that mean this isn’t serious for you?”

“It is!” Bucky assured Steve, “I wouldn’t have slept with you otherwise.”

“Are you seeing anyone else?”

Bucky tried not to laugh.

“I had a hard enough time convincing myself to date you Steve,” he answered.

“I just wanted to be sure,” Steve mumbled, running a hand through his hair.

“Look,” Bucky started, moving as close as he could, “I didn’t want to push things Steve, I’m still getting back into the swing of things and I figured since you hadn’t dated a man before that I would let you set the pace.”

Steve took Bucky’s hand and gave it a squeeze.

“We need to talk to each other more. The sex is great and all but not worth it if we have misunderstandings like this,” Steve said.

“I agree,” Bucky returned, sighing, “So does that mean this whole time you’ve been considering me your boyfriend?”

A blush rose to Steve’s cheeks and he looked away bashfully.

“Yeah, I kinda told Nat and Sam, but if that’s not what you want I can correct myself.”

“No! Definitely do not do that. I want to be your boyfriend.”

Steve leveled Bucky with a concerned look.

“Even though you’re still holding back from me?”

Bucky opened his mouth to respond, but closed it again and bit his lip nervously.

“I’m getting there. I promise. You and me cooking together, I know it may not seem like it, but that’s a big deal for me, sharing that sort of domestic stuff; sharing my family life. I’m sorry I’m trying to open myself up to you more, it’s just difficult,” Bucky explained, not able to look at Steve.

He really was trying, but after so many years of being with men who didn't care to know him more than superficially it was an effort to let himself open up.

Steve tucked a finger under his chin and gently made Bucky look at him.

“I just, I want to be sure this is what you want. I don’t want to force you to open up to me Bucky.”

“You aren’t,” he assured Steve, “I want to be better about letting myself relax with you. I’ll get there, it just may take a little time.”

“Okay,” Steve said with a short nod, “I’m here for you Bucky, I hope you know that. I want you to share your concerns with me, this doesn’t have to be all fun times, that’s not what good relationships are like.”

Bucky sighed shakily.

“Thank you Steve, I do want us to be, uh, boyfriends. I do, want that. I just, didn’t think we were, usually that’s something I’m used to being plainly stated. I forget sometimes that we don’t come from the same time you know? I forget that we see these sorts of things differently.”

Steve smiled and ran his hand along Bucky’s jaw so he could cup his face.

“I forget too. We just need to be better about voicing these sorts of things,” he said, “So, boyfriends?”

Bucky laughed.

“Boyfriends, absolutely.”

They sat there grinning at each other like idiots for a few moments longer before they sealed the deal with a kiss.

“You know,” Bucky started after they had parted, “This means Ma will move heaven and Earth to convince you to come with us for Thanksgiving.”

Steve shrugged, “I didn’t really have any solid plans. I mean, so long as you’re comfortable with me going.”

Bucky stood up and offered his hand to Steve who didn’t necessarily need his help.

“Well then, let’s go make her year,” he said, tugging a laughing Steve along behind him.

 

Bucky's grandmother lived in Ithaca. It was almost a five-hour drive from the city and usually the family rented a car to make the drive for any holidays. Since Steve was going with them he offered up the use of his obnoxious SUV, which held all six of them comfortably. The drive was as annoying as always with the girls constantly arguing over one thing or another thanks to being cooped up together. It was marginally better because Bucky got to sit up front with Steve and do his best to ignore the three of them whining when his ma snapped at them to shut up.

They pulled up to his grandmother's ranch style house right around three in the afternoon. His aunt Ida was bolting out of the front door before Steve had even turned off the car. Bucky's ma hopped out of the car to hug her sister, the two women chatting a mile a minute. The girls were next to greet their aunt as Bucky and Steve got out of the car slowly. Aunt Ida grinned before descending on Bucky, wrapping her gangly arms around his shoulders and squeezing.

"Oh look at you!" she exclaimed, stepping back and holding him at arm’s length, "Your hair is getting so long!"

Aunt Ida picked at a lock of his hair and gave it a short tug as she teased him.

"I'm a millennial Aunt Ida, it's the style," he defended, ducking away from her and stepping back to hide near Steve.

She huffed at him with a roll of her eyes and then stared impatiently at him as she tapped her foot. Bucky sighed dramatically and slipped am arm around Steve's waist.

"Aunt Ida this is Steve, Steve, my Aunt Ida," he introduced.

"Ida Herschel, it's so nice to meet you," she said, smiling widely as she shook Steve's hand.

"Steve Rogers Ma'am, pleased to meet you."

Aunt Ida laughed heartily and waved Steve off.

"None of that, you call me Ida hun, or Aunt Ida, but that's up to you," she went on with a wink.

Bucky felt his ears heat up and grumbled at his aunt to leave Steve alone. After she cursed at him she went around the back of the SUV to help the girls with their bags. Steve and Bucky followed closely behind to grab their own before being led into the house.

As soon as they walked in the front door his little cousin Mira poked her head out of the kitchen before darting down the hallway and jumping on Bucky. He caught her and swung her around before setting her down so she could accost the twins. She moved on to Rebecca, the two of them chattering loudly for a couple of moments, talking too fast for Bucky to keep up. When she was done Mira turned back to Bucky and grinned at him, eying Steve.

"Well hello," she said, slinking closer and sticking her hand out, "Mira. Becca has told me absolutely everything."

Steve looked to Bucky with alarm but still politely shook Mira's hand.

"Ignore her, she takes after my aunt," Bucky told Steve, getting an indignant look from Ida.

Steve laughed softly.

"It's nice to meet you Mira, I like your name."

"Oh thanks, I'm named after Bubbe but since I was born in the 90's there was no possible way I could go by Miriam. I honestly don't know what my mom was thinking," she rambled on.

Bucky tried to move Steve past his cousin and further into the house but was blocked when Megan joined them in the hallway. She hugged Bucky quickly and then smacked at his shoulder so he would introduce her.

"Steve, this is Megan, she's my bubbe's roommate; Megan, Steve Rogers, my boyfriend."

Megan clapped her hands together before hugging Steve with a huge grin.

"When Miriam told me you were bringing a boyfriend I almost didn't believe it but then Becca texted me! This is so exciting!"

Bucky was about to defend himself when Megan's daughter Jessica toddled up to Bucky and made grabbing hands so he would pick her up. He hefted the three-year-old into his arms and blew a raspberry on one of her cheeks, making her laugh. Steve watched with abject fascination and a soft smile on his face.

"And this is Jessica, Megan's daughter," Bucky said, bouncing the little girl slightly.

Jessica reached out for Steve who stepped close enough to let her pet at his beard.

"Kitty!" she exclaimed, clapping joyfully.

Bucky and Steve both laughed as Megan's face grew red at her daughter's actions. She took Jessica from Bucky just in time for his bubbe to gently push her out of the way and pinch Bucky's arm.

"Ow!" he gasped, snatching his arm away from her, "What was that for!?"

"Don't you yell at me young man! You have a boyfriend and didn't tell your poor bubbe, here I was thinking you were going to die alone," she snapped, before turning to Steve, her demeanor changing, "Steven, my goodness look at you!"

Bubbe grasped one of his arms and gave it a light squeeze, smiling.

"A nice strong man for my beautiful grandson."

Steve stood there in mild shock, looking to Bucky like he had answers, which he didn't.

"It's um, nice to meet you Ma'am," Steve managed.
"Hush Child, you call me Miriam," she chastised, patting Steve's shoulder.

Bucky felt mortified when she squeezed it and grinned to herself.

"Bubbe," Becca called, drawing his grandmother's attention away from him and Steve.

She walked away from them and Bucky mouthed a thank you to his little sister, who smirked. He decided to use the opening to grab his stuff and motioned for Steve to follow him. Megan caught them trying to sneak off and followed.

"Miriam said that you two can take the mother-in-law suite," Megan told them.

"We usually just stay in the guest rooms," Bucky responded, furrowing his eyebrows.

"Yeah, but the guest rooms just have doubles, there won't be enough room for the two of you," she said, giving them a look.

Bucky rolled his eyes and noted Steve's immediate embarrassment next to him.

"Alright then, mother-in-law suite it is, if you're okay with that Steve?"

Steve nodded, but didn't say anything and then followed Bucky as he led them out the back door and down the path that led to the one-bedroom suite behind the house.

As soon as the door was closed behind them Bucky let out a loud groan and fell face first on to the bed. His extended family was so exhausting and they hadn't even been there an hour. He rolled over and peered to where Steve was standing and examining the vanity.

"Find something interesting?" Bucky asked sarcastically, earning an unamused look from Steve.

"You have a big family," Steve commented, sighing as he sat down on the edge of the bed.

"They calm down once all the greetings are done, I promise."

Steve smiled at Bucky and moved to lounge next to him.

"This is nice though, having a quiet space to ourselves."

"Yeah," Bucky agreed, "And the door locks so we can keep my sisters out when we want to be left alone."

Bucky burrowed closer to Steve and stuffed his face against the other man's arm. Steve proceeded to play with his hair, which caused Bucky to quickly doze off.

 

Dinner that night was a raucous affair. Eleven people crammed around a table made for a loud gathering, though most everyone was interested enough in how Bucky and Steve met that they kept quiet whenever either one of them was talking. Steve, as always, was a pro at interacting with Bucky's family, which kept a smile on Bucky's face all evening.
By the time dinner was over and he and Steve had retreated to their room Bucky was worn out. He changed and cocooned himself under the covers as Steve showered and was playing on his phone when Steve finished up. Steve seemed content as he meandered around the room before climbing into bed as well.

"Your family really is great Bucky," Steve announced out of nowhere after they had been relaxing together for a while.

Bucky sat up a bit more and looked at Steve.

"Where did that come from?" he asked.

"I just, well I figured that since your family is sort of a worry for you when it comes to relationships that I should remind you how much I like them."

He couldn't help but stare at Steve for a moment.

"Thanks," Bucky said quietly, leaning in to give Steve a soft kiss, "I really appreciate you reassuring me. It helps a lot."

Steve smiled and chased Bucky's lips, smiling into the second kiss.

"Good, then I'll keep it up."

They both initiated the next kiss before falling into a short session of kissing a light petting. It wasn't enough to get either of them more than half hard and both were content to break it off before things got any heavier. He hadn't shared a bed with someone else in years, but Bucky felt remarkably comfortable falling asleep with Steve right beside him.

 

Bucky moved around the kitchen with the practiced ease of someone who had worked around his bubbe for years. She always said that only him and his father were able to work in the kitchen with her without getting in her way. The girls were all restricted to the dining room where they were mixing pie fillings and generally making a mess. Bucky's ma and aunt were exiled to a folding table in the corner of the kitchen to peel potatoes while Steve sat at the breakfast bar that separated the kitchen and living room with Jessica. She was slapping biscuit batter out onto baking sheets with Steve going behind her and fixing them so they could be put in the oven later.
They all chatted as they cooked, the morning having been filled with preparing everything that was now out on the stove or in the oven. Bubbe only liked Thanksgiving because it was a reason for the family to get together. She had been making comments about Bucky and his family not being able to make it for Yom Kippur earlier that morning, but had since moved on to talking about Chanukah. Bucky tried to get her to stop attempting to make Steve promise he would come visit with them to no avail. Steve rolled with it pretty well and appeared to be enjoying himself even though he was given the task of basically babysitting Jessica.

The group of them sat down to eat around four, with the meal lasting for good three hours. Megan talked about the class of third graders she taught, regaling them of stories of nine year olds trying to out logic each other. Mira and Becca went on about college applications. They were both trying to get into the same school, Becca for design and Mira for history. It was enjoyable to catch up and even Bucky couldn't help but be dragged in to talking what little he could about the prosthetic project they had just received a grant for.
Steve and Bubbe ended up being the most interesting people of the night though. When Steve mentioned his favorite movie from the 40's it sent his grandmother into a spiral of reminiscing. The two of them had apparently lived not too far from each other in the city, Bubbe's parents having immigrated to America a few years before the war started. Steve didn't seem at all reluctant to talk about his life before the war and it helped Bucky learn a lot more about him than he already knew.

Once they were all finished with dinner and the clean up the girls all fled to the backyard to use a telescope that Mira had brought with her. It left the house quiet enough for Megan to but Jessica to bed. Bucky's aunt, mother, and grandmother all settled in to the living room to chat and drink wine, so Bucky absconded with Steve to the office for some time away from everyone.
He sat Steve down on the couch and wandered over to the bookshelf. Bucky pulled out one of the photo albums and slid in next to Steve, spreading it out across both of their laps.
The album was pretty old and contained mostly photos from when Bucky was a little older and the girls were babies. His own baby photos were tucked away in another album, but his purpose wasn't to show Steve how he looked in diapers.
Bucky flipped through the album, knowing the exact page he was looking for by heart. When he found it he settled his fingers along the edge of the book and bit his lip.

"That's my dad," Bucky said quietly, tapping his fingers nervously.

Steve stared at the picture of Bucky's father; it was a simple photo of just George Barnes standing in front of their house with his hands on his hips.

"You look just like him," Steve commented, glancing over at Bucky and then back at the photo.
"Everyone says that, but I don't see it," Bucky mumbled, flipping to the next page.

He let Steve look through the photos of their trip to Disney World years ago. Bucky told Steve certain stories that went along with some of the pictures, usually making Steve laugh. Steve continued through the album, pointing out pictures from Bucky's college graduation and smiling. They eventually reached the point in the album where the photos stopped, the last one in the book being one of Bucky and his father standing in Bucky's first apartment.

"He was killed by a drunk driver," Bucky told Steve, closing the book and setting it on his own lap, "Becca blames herself because he was going to one of her recitals when it happened."

Steve took one of Bucky's hands and gave it a squeeze in silent solidarity.

"I was only supposed to stay at home for a little while, just until Ma got back on her feet and we had time to grieve," he went on, "We never really set a date for me to move back out, so I just sort of stayed. I felt like leaving would be the same as abandoning them."

"You have a very strong duty to your family Bucky, that's respectable," Steve said.

Bucky shrugged.

"Yeah, but maybe not the best since I put my own life on hold."

Steve wrapped an arm around Bucky's shoulders and kissed his cheek.

"You're doing something for you now though, right?"

Bucky nodded and when Steve didn't protest he swung his legs over Steve's lap and let Steve wrap him up in his arms.

"I'm still terrified you know? I feel like if I get close to someone something bad will happen," Bucky explained.

"I get it. It took a lot for me to tell you how I feel Buck, I knew you were against a relationship. And well, I have my own hang ups, you know, being a defrosted super solider and all."

Bucky couldn't help but huff a laugh against Steve's shoulder.

"I'm glad you did though. And I'm happy that Becca yelled at me."

"I am too. And we'll work things out as they happen Bucky. I'm really proud of you for showing me these pictures. I know that couldn't have been easy for you."

"I wanted to. I learned a lot more about you tonight while you were talking to Bubbe, so I wanted to return the gesture by sharing more with you."

Steve hummed his approval, the noise reverberating in his chest. Bucky moved his head from where it was resting against Steve's shoulder and kissed his slowly.

"Is it late enough for us to escape to our room?" Steve asked, raising an eyebrow.

Bucky checked his phone and nodded.

"Definitely," Bucky answered smirking.

 

It took almost half an hour for them to say good night to everyone. The girls were all fading from exhaustion pretty fast though, which worked in their favor. They weren't leaving until Sunday and Bucky and Steve had been wrangled into doing some of the more labor heavy chores that needed to be done. That worked as an excuse for them to be retreating to bed early, even though Bucky's grandmother gave them a knowing look after Bucky hugged her good night.

Bucky slipped in to the shower when they got back to their room and emerged a while later to see Steve laying on the bed in only his boxer briefs as he browsed his phone. He looked up at Bucky as he walked into the bedroom and grinned salaciously at Bucky's towel clad form.

"Hey there handsome," Steve said in a low, hushed tone.

He sat up on the edge of the bed and set his phone down before reaching a hand out to Bucky. Bucky took Steve's hand a let himself get pulled in between Steve's knees. Steve placed a kiss to Bucky's sternum and smiled against his humid skin.

"How'd I get so lucky to land a fella like you?" Steve asked, resting the tip of his chin against Bucky's chest as he peered up at him.

"Shut up," Bucky murmured, looking off to the side and blushing.

Steve chuckled lowly and skimmed the fingers of his left hand down Bucky's side as he used his right to brush a thumb over one of Bucky's nipples, making him shiver.

"Steve," Bucky breathed, only furthering Steve's exploration.

He kissed his way over to Bucky's unattended nipple and latched on to it, the sudden sensation making Bucky's knees give out briefly. Steve helped Bucky into a guided fall and maneuvered them so that Bucky was underneath Steve on the bed. His towel was still somehow in place, but Steve quickly rectified that situation. He discarded the towel out of the way on the bed and took in Bucky's naked body.

"This is okay, right?" Steve checked in, looking Bucky in the eyes.

"Yeah, yeah, this is more than okay," Bucky answered, anticipation building.

So far he and Steve hadn't advanced further than blowjobs and heavy petting.

"Good, that's, good," Steve stuttered as Bucky reached to push his boxer briefs off his hips.

Steve helped him get them the rest of the way off and then dropped his hips down to grind against Bucky, skin on skin.

"You feel so good Steve," Bucky murmured, running his hands down Steve's back and then back up to tangle his fingers in Steve's hair.

He guided Steve's face away from where he was sucking marks on his collarbone so they could kiss. Steve's hands never left Bucky's body as they kissed. Eventually he migrated back to Bucky's nipples, pinching them lightly and making Bucky arch up into Steve. The movement caused their dicks to slide together, causing them both to gasp into each other's mouths.

"Please tell me you brought slick," Steve said lowly, breathing stuttered.

"It's 2017 Steve, it's called lube," Bucky teased, pointing to his bag.

Steve gave Bucky's hip a playful smack before he jumped up and walked unabashedly naked to the bag. He fished through it and held the lube and condoms up triumphantly as he sauntered back to the bed, cock standing out proudly on display. Bucky tipped Steve onto his back when he tried to get on the bed. Steve let out a sharp breath when Bucky reached down and took him in hand. Bucky spread some of Steve's pre-come along the tip with his hand but quickly found it was still too dry to be comfortable. He spat on his hand before returning it to Steve's dick, things much more slick than beforehand.

Bucky rested on his free elbow so he could kiss along Steve's neck as he gave him a few slow strokes, making Steve whine high in his throat.

"Good?" Bucky asked, voice huskier than he was expecting.

"You know it is you giant ass," Steve shot back, voice strained.

"You wanna come like this?"

Steve shook his head violently, but didn't say anything.

"How then?" Bucky pushed, tightening his grip on Steve's dick.

"Wanna come with you in me," Steve managed, his breath coming in heavy pants.

Bucky sat back on his heels, releasing Steve's dick as he skimmed his hands along his large thighs to rest on Steve's bent knees.

"You sure? I mean you haven't had sex before right? You might be more comfortable being on top," Bucky said, petting Steve's knee with his thumb.

Steve flushed all the way down to his chest as he looked up at Bucky.

"If you'd prefer me to be I will, but I've uh, I mean I've fingered myself before so I'm not completely unused to it."

Bucky felt his dick twitch at Steve's words and he sucked in a breath to try and center himself.

"I'm good either way sweetheart, I just want you to have a good time," he told Steve.
"I definitely will have a good time Bucky; I've thought about it a lot you know."

Steve swallowed thickly when Bucky gave him a dark look.

"Did you think about me when you fingered yourself Steve?" Bucky asked, moving one of his hands back up Steve's leg.

Steve's tensed with anticipation as Bucky petted him gently.

"Tell me sweetheart," Bucky urged.

"Yes," Steve answered shortly, arching his back as he tried to get Bucky's hand where he wanted it.

Bucky smirked and leaned in to kiss Steve again, searching blindly for the lube. He found it after having to divert his attention from Steve and sat back again, pouring a little onto his hands. The discarded towel caught Bucky's attention, so he wiped one of his hands on it so he could use it to touch Steve. Bucky didn't even need to direct Steve, the man below him folded one of his legs up to hold it himself, leaving himself open to Bucky.
Steve tensed at the first touch of Bucky's finger, so he petted the back of Steve's thigh as he circled the muscle, trying to get him to relax. It took a couple of minutes of gentle plying, but Steve finally relaxed enough for Bucky to press his finger in slowly. He worked steadily, constantly praising Steve as he went. Steve did little more than whine and eventually start grinding down against Bucky's finger.

"Bucky please," Steve pleaded after Bucky had three fingers inside him for a considerable amount of time.

He didn't seem too discomforted, making Bucky glad that Steve was the type to explore his own body. Bucky shushed Steve as he pulled his fingers out and tried not to laugh when Steve shoved the condom at him.

"You let me know if I'm hurting you," Bucky said, after he had the condom on.

"Bucky I'm a super solider, I can handle a little…"

"No," Bucky interrupted, "I don't care, please let me know, I don't want to hurt you."

Steve stared at Bucky for a moment, but nodded solemnly. Bucky smiled down at Steve as he braced himself on one elbow, using his free hand to line himself up. He pushed in slowly, being careful to give Steve time to adjust. Steve breathed even, measured breaths as Bucky went, but did well to stay relaxed.
When Bucky was halfway in he began giving small thrusts, pulling out and pushing back in a little more each time. Steve gripped one of Bucky's wrists, his other hand bracing himself against the headboard. Bucky had to stop when he was finally able to thrust in all the way; he rested his forehead on Steve's shoulder and took a few deep breaths to calm himself down.

"You alright?" Bucky asked, petting Steve's side.

"Very alright Bucky," Steve answered, trying to get Bucky to move.

Bucky laughed shortly before pulling out and snapping his hips sharply, causing Steve to grunt. He quickly caught on and was able to match Bucky's pace. When Bucky found he couldn't quite hit Steve's prostate he folded one of Steve's legs up so it was resting on Bucky's shoulder and tried again. Steve almost bucked Bucky off of him as he gave a throaty moan.

"There it is," Bucky panted, smirking.

He found his way back into a steady rhythm, Steve soon reduced to high whines and moans as Bucky hit his prostate time and again.

"Oh fuck," Steve swore, grabbing Bucky by the hair and forcing him into a kiss.

"You close baby?" Bucky asked, pulling away enough to brace himself on both hands so he deliver more powerful thrusts.

Steve nodded frantically, his face flushed.

"Touch yourself sweetheart," Bucky urged.

His words were immediately heeded; Steve's hand left the headboard to grip his dick. He set a punishing pace on his cock as his breathing shuddered.

"'M gonna come," Steve cried, the hand around Bucky's wrist almost painful.

"Go on baby, let me see it," Bucky encouraged.

Steve's hand on his dick stuttered as he arched up, pressing Bucky's cock further into him as he shook and came all over his stomach. Bucky watched in awe and swore to himself as Steve's ass tightened around his dick. He waited for Steve to collapse to the bed before he started up again, careful to keep away from Steve's prostate as he chased his own release.
Bucky's concentration was broken when Steve reached up and threaded his fingers into Bucky's hair, making him look down at the man below him. Steve was staring at Bucky with blatant admiration on his face, his eyes full of emotion. That was all it took for Bucky, his rhythm faltered as he felt the tension he was holding release. He shoved his face into Steve's neck as he came, Steve's hands all over him.
Once Bucky was spent he groaned and pushed himself up. He and Steve both grimaced as he slipped out of Steve. Bucky quickly discarded the condom and reached for the towel he had used to wipe Steve down. Steve whined and grabbed at Bucky.

"Just lay with me," he said, trying to pull Bucky to him.

"Give me a minute sweetheart, we'll be gross later if we don't clean up now."

"But the glow," Steve argued.

He reluctantly released Bucky so he could make his way into the bathroom and return with a wet washcloth. Steve lounged as Bucky finished wiping him down before turning the cloth on himself. When he finished he dropped the washcloth and towel to the floor and rolled onto the bed against Steve who automatically wrapped an arm around Bucky.

"I'm glad we got the mother-on-law suite," Steve announced, his breathing returning to normal.

Bucky barked a laugh and slung an arm across Steve's chest.

"Yeah, me too baby."

"I like when you call me that," Steve said.

"What?" Bucky asked, "Baby?"

"Yeah," Steve answered, "And sweetheart."

Bucky propped himself up so he could look down at Steve. His hair was sticking up all over the place and he still had a nice pink flush about him.

"So pet names are okay?"

"Super okay," Steve said, pulling Bucky down into a kiss.

They lounged together for a while, basking in the "glow" as Steve called it. Eventually the day caught up to both of them though and they were yawning as their eyes drooped. When Steve started to play with Bucky's hair that was the end of the line; he started to fall asleep before he realized what was happening.
Just as Bucky was slipping away from consciousness he felt Steve place a gentle kiss to his temple, and Bucky felt a swell of happiness like he had never experienced in his life.

End.

 

Enjoy this little extra piece that esaael did for the fic!! It's the Barnes family and Steve all cooking together and I love it!!

shrunky2