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Bucky starts to believe in a vengeful god on May the twelfth, year of our Lord two thousand and fucking eighteen, because that’s the day he makes fun of Clint Barton for carrying around a dainty little packetful of tissues in his pocket and honking into them like a congested donkey every fifteen minutes. “Fucking polleb,” Clint swears, wiping at his watering eyes. “Fucking claritin. Fucking zyrtec. Fucking bastards, all of dem.”

“What’s happened to your pokeymen now?” Bucky asks distractedly, not looking away from where Natasha is very slowly setting the last Joker on her vast, exquisitely balanced house of cards.

“Dat’s not - dey’re not pokémon,” Clint says, aggrieved. “Dey’re drugs. And dey don’t work for me.”

“Rough,” says Bucky, who has prescriptions for eleven medications, none of which are effective on him in any dose.

“Spring is duh worst,” Clint moans, slumping up to their table. “Y’know what polleb is? Plant semen. It’s just, plands, just, jizzing everywhere. An’ because of dat I canb’t eben chew wid my mout closed.”

“You already don’t do that,” Natasha says, not taking her eyes off the card structure.

Clint opens his mouth, presumably to deliver a devastating retort, but instead all that comes out is a thunderous sneeze. The card house explodes. Natasha howls in outrage and tackles Clint over the couch, where, Bucky suspects, his running nose becomes the least of his problems.

Bucky laughs, naturally, because watching Natasha try to commit homicide with an embroidered throw pillow is always a good time, and doesn’t think for a second that this moment of sweet schadenfreude will in any way haunt him.

-o-

“Steve,” Bucky yells from the bathroom a week later, contorting to get a better look in the mirror. “Come here.”

“What?”

“I need you to come look at this rash for me.”

“What?”

Bucky gives up trying to get a good look in the mirror. “Just come here, Steven.”

Steve crops up in the bathroom doorway a moment later. “Did you say a rash?”

“Yeah,” Bucky says grimly, and shows him. 

“Oh, geez,” Steve says. He bends down slightly and puts his hands on his knees. “That is... definitely… your asshole. What did you do to it?”

“Nothing,” Bucky says. “Nothing that isn’t what I normally do to it. Did you change our lube or something?”

“No,” Steve says, straightening up. “Is it a… you know... infection?”

“We don’t get infections,” Bucky says. “Have you stuck your hands in any poison ivy recently?”

“We aren’t sleeping in bushes anymore, we live in Park Slope,” Steve says. “Where would I get poison ivy?”

“You tell me! I don’t know what you roll in when you’re out running.”

“I don’t roll in - What do you think I do when I - ” Steve cuts himself off. “Hold on, you think I gave it to you?”

“You’ve got your hands down here more than I do,” Bucky says, gesturing to the general area of his ass. “And it’s stuck around all day. Skin clears up fastest of anything and this is still here.”

“Well… maybe it’ll be gone tomorrow?” Steve suggests.

“Why do I ever ask you about anything,” Bucky says disgustedly, turning to the laundry hamper and fishing around for his shorts.

“No clue,” Steve says cheerfully. “If it itches bad put some of the pink stuff on it, it’s in the cabinet on the third shelf.”

Bucky does end up putting the pink stuff on it, because it does itch like a motherfucker, but thankfully by next morning it’s mostly faded and by the end of the day it’s completely gone. Bucky writes it off as some kind of weird toilet paper interaction and goes about his life. Then there’s some kind of equinox party that Thor invites them to, and there’s the mead there that gets them drunk so of course they drink about a gallon each, and Steve kisses on him the whole cab ride home and they have sex three times and then the next morning Bucky wakes up with a goddamn fiery crimson butthole again.

He’s furiously googling the ingredients off the back of their lube bottle when Steve staggers into the bathroom, hair in wild disarray. He’s probably going for the toilet, but when he sees Bucky his face goes all warm and buttery like a plate of mashed potatoes and he hugs Bucky from behind instead. It’s pretty similar to how they were last night. Steve had rubbed him off through his pants, then sucked him, then drowned his asscrack in lube and hotdogged his dick in there until he splooged. And since that is now ground zero of a pretty disgusting rash, Bucky is desperately hoping the lube is the culprit.

“Morning,” Steve mumbles, kissing his neck.

“Jerk off on me,” Bucky orders, turning around in his arms, hoping against hope to disprove the creeping suspicion and cut it off at the pass.

Steve pulls back, blinking. “What, now?”

“Yes. Now. Dick in hand, chop chop,” Bucky says. “Right on my stomach. Here,” he adds, giving Steve a helpful target frame with both hands.

“You could at least strike a pose,” Steve complains, but he’s getting his dick out anyway. Of course he’s getting his dick out anyway: the superserum is like living on fifty milligrams of Viagra every day of their lives. “Say something nice about about my eyes, maybe.”

“I felt your morning wood on me five minutes ago, you don’t need the help. Come on.”

“Don’t rush me,” Steve says primly, but at least he does start jerking. “Pass the lube.”

“No lube, this is a controlled experiment,” Bucky says.

“Wow, you sure know how to sweet-talk a guy,” Steve says, sarcasm dripping. It loses a little something when he’s got his pecker out, though. “Where did the romance go?”

Bucky rolls his eyes. “Probably wherever you put my razor.”

Steve stares at him. “Are you still on that? I bought you a new one!”

“After you lost the original. And you didn’t even buy the same - hey, keep going!”

“You want me to jerk it to you while we argue about your missing razor from eight months ago?”

“You’ve done worse,” Bucky says dismissively. “Don’t try to tell me you can’t work under these conditions. You wanted to rail my ass when I looked like a crazed bondage vampire and was actively trying to kill you.”

“I always want to rail your ass,” Steve says angrily, which at least gets him jerking faster.

“There you go,” Bucky says encouragingly. “Think about that. Remember that thing we did in that cabin? Think about doing that again. This time with both our pants off maybe. Yeah, there you go. Think about - shit, don’t forget to aim -”

“Gnrrgh,” Steve says, and comes all over Bucky’s stomach.

“Hmm,” Bucky says, looking down. He doesn’t exactly hate jizz, usually, but that’s always been in the context of ‘this’ll be cleaned up in a moment’. It’s a much less benign element when he knows he can’t wash it off for thirty minutes at least and it’s slowly dripping down into his pubes. “In retrospect, I should have picked my forearm or something.”

“Gluh,” Steve agrees. Then, as the haze of orgasm clears, he blinks and says, “What was that about?”

Bucky wordlessly turns around and grabs one buttcheek. “Oh,” Steve says. “Geez. That really… came back, huh.”

Bucky glances back. Steve’s squinting at his asshole like a cowboy looking out at the desert at high noon. “Maybe it’s… hemorrhoids?” he hazards.

“Hemorrhoids don’t appear overnight,” Bucky says disgustedly, letting go of his ass and turning back around. “It’s probably an allergy.”

“Maybe they’re super hemorrhoids,” Steve says vaguely, his brow furrowed. The penny drops further. “You think it might be - what, a, a jizz allergy?”

“Probably the lube,” Bucky mutters, picking the bottle up again.

“But it might be the jizz,” Steve pursues.

“It might be the lube reacting with the jizz,” Bucky says, trying to sound confident as he uncaps the lube and dribbles some on his inner forearm. “That’s why we’re testing it separately.”

Steve looks at him trying to smear lube into a relatively tidy square on the inside of his elbow, then at his stomach, where Bucky is staunchly trying to ignore the growing itch of cooling splooge. “Well,” Steve says, turning to the sink and soaping up his hands, “We’ll find out, I guess.”

Twenty minutes later, alone in the bathroom this time, looking between his unblemished arm and the damningly spreading rash on his stomach, Bucky’s not saying anything until he talks to a professional.

That’s how he ends up in the examination room of an allergy specialist in Midtown, three weeks later because this five foot nothing grandma with an MD has a fucking waiting list for new patients. It would’ve been nine weeks if Bucky hadn’t wheedled the receptionist into calling him first if anyone cancelled and finally squeezing him in at seven fucking AM because some other idiot was running late. It's less than ideal, but Bucky’s learned the hard way that whenever his body does something new and fun and biologically fucked he really needs to see a specialist soon, because god forbid it’s another decommissioned Soviet tracker working its way out of his body or that whole goddamn circus with the seizures again.

Steve’s in Midtown too, because he fucking drove them on the bike after Bucky blew out of the house just as Steve was coming in from his run and in two sentences they mutually realized he wouldn’t make it on the subway. Steve wanted to come in here with him, too, but Bucky’s not a fucking baby and banished him to go get bagels.

And the horse tranquilizer kicked in somewhere over the Brooklyn Bridge, so Bucky is fine. Steve refuses to call Bucky’s heavy-duty anti-anxiety meds horse tranquilizers, but it’s the inside of Bucky’s head and he can call it whatever he wants to. They’re not one of his useless prescriptions: this is the the stuff Bruce developed to prevent sudden attacks of the Hulk. Turns out two-thirds of the dose is perfect for a one-armed supersoldier with extremely maladjusted fight or flight responses. The tranqs are enough to let him sit here on the examination table and just be massively annoyed instead of already crashing through a window, covered in the blood of anyone unlucky enough to get in the way.

There’s a knock on the door. Dr. Elena Rubin, MD Columbia class of ‘69, comes in, looking exactly the same up close as she does through surveillance goggles. “Hello, dear,” she says, extending a frail hand to shake. “I’m Dr. Rubin. Now, let’s see…” She peers at a clipboard. “You’re here because you’re experiencing rashes and inflammation after intercourse, is that right?”

“Yes,” Bucky says, for lack of alternatives.

“Nothing to worry about,” she says reassuringly, beginning the long process of untangling her stethoscope from her beaded spectacle string. “It’s most likely a latex allergy.”

“It’s not,” Bucky says flatly.

“It’s quite common,” she goes on, unperturbed. “And in a lot of cases these allergies develop over time, so even things you’ve come in contact with plenty of times before can spontaneously become allergens.”

“I got touched in every place possible with latex gloves for about seventy years. If I was gonna get it, I would’ve got it.”

She pauses at that and peers at him more closely, like am I gonna have to get this guy a psych assessment instead of an allergy test. Bucky takes his metal hand out of his pocket and gives her a sour little wave.

“Oh,” she says, blinking. “Well.” To her credit, her demeanor doesn’t exactly change. “That does add a new dimension to things. Mr. Barnes, is it? Have you or your partner been exposed to any unusual substances lately?”

“Not that we know of.” Bucky steels himself. If given the option he’s not sure he wouldn't rather be facing down one of his scalpel-waving nightmare doctors than this kind-faced old bubbe with inch-thick spectacles and a hand-knitted cardigan under her lab coat. “I think it might be. Semen.”

She just peers at him and makes a note on her clipboard. “That’s a fairly unusual one, dear. What makes you think so?”

“I tested it.”

“Yes? What was the test?”

“I made my partner jerk off on my stomach and then five minutes later it was covered in hives,” Bucky says through his teeth. “Neither latex nor any other substance was involved.”

“Well,” she says. “You certainly took initiative. May I have a look?”

“They’re gone now. This was three weeks ago. Because your office didn’t have any appointments earlier.”

“Mm, yes, it does get quite busy in the spring. I take it you haven’t had any repeat incidents since then? Has intercourse with condoms changed anything?”

“We haven’t,” Bucky says tightly. He’d jerked Steve off a couple times with his metal hand and Steve had sucked him, but neither of them had been exactly eager to go further when the previous results were so red, inflamed and itchy. Thank fuck they hardly ever go the whole hog, because otherwise Bucky’d probably have hives inside his asshole instead of just around it.

And Steve had also lived through the tracker and seizures bullshit, so they’d both been operating under an unspoken pact to wait for the specialist just in case it turned out to be something really amazing like alien pox or some such flavor of shit.

“It’d be prudent to test for it properly, dear, just to be sure,” the doctor says. “Especially given your unique situation - ”

“A patch test,” Bucky says. He’d done his reading. He knows exactly what’s supposed to happen at this kind of visit.

“Yes, dear. In these cases we also require screening for any sexually transmitted diseases, as a precaution and to rule anything else out. We do the testing on-site and the results only take a few days - our Josephine will help you, she’s an excellent nurse, such a dear. Your partner would also need to contribute samples, of course, with this kind of allergy - ”

“He’s here,” Bucky says. The faster they can get this over with the better. “I’ll go get him.”

Steve’s waiting outside, straddled on the bike with his nose in a paperback and his sunglasses forgotten in his shirt collar, completely oblivious to every third passerby checking him out. Bucky stops to admire the sight himself for a moment, then leans out the front door of the stairwell. “Get up here, hotshot,” Bucky tells him. “You need to come piss in a cup.”

“Me?”

“No, the other ten motherfuckers I sleep with. Yes you. Come on.”

They test the two of them for all sorts of VDs, and the list of those has just about tripled since they were last up to date on it. Bucky just pisses in whatever they give him and tries not to think about anything. At least he doesn’t have to jerk off, in a cup or otherwise - or so he thinks at first, because when Steve goes into the bathroom with a deeply martyred look on his face Bucky laughs at him until Dear Josephine says, “When he’s done, you go ahead and do the same in this here cup, okay hon?”

Bucky spends twenty minutes sitting outside the bathroom with an empty sterile cup in hand, marveling at the vast and ever-increasing stupidity of his existence, then another twenty minutes as the one inside the pleasantly floral bathroom, angrily chasing out the seventh worst orgasm of his life with his back wedged into the corner and his eyes shut tight. Shouldn’t they at least let them in the bathroom together? Wouldn’t that save time? It’s not like they’re not supposed to be jerking off in here, the jerking off is the whole point. Dear fucking Josephine is right down the hallway filling out fucking paperwork about how they’re jerking off. Fuck, mistake, good christ, jesus, that isn’t helping. Fuck. Quick, think about Steve in a wet t-shirt. Steve in good tac pants. Steve doing the nipple thing with Marlon Brando, ugh, motherfucker, shit damn jesus christing shitting fuck.

When Bucky gets out Dear Josephine tells them that whatever the fuck they’re gonna do to prepare their ill-gotten semen is gonna be done by 4PM, so they decide they might as well bum around Manhattan for eight hours. Steve did get bagels, so at least there’s that, and then he buys Bucky a burger and a milkshake and a massive bag of churros and takes them to Central Park. Nobody recognizes Steve when he’s in shorts - who knew that bare knees were the secret to anonymity - and every five minutes some bearded hair-bunned fuck jogs past like another contestant for the Bucky Barnes lookalike pageant, so nobody bothers them.

They laze on the grass and eat, recovering from having to bully their own genitals in a damn doctor’s office. Steve reads the paperback he’d pulled from the bike and finishes it, then passes it to Bucky. He even puts his head on Bucky’s stomach after and takes a nap, which is a miraculous display of normal human affection that Bucky rewards with head petting. It’s even kind of like a date, almost, if Bucky excises the fact that they’re waiting around for a doctor to rub medically prepared semen on him to see what kind of rash will crop up.

And that’s exactly what happens. Bucky pops another horse tranquilizer, the nurse puts some stuff on his back - with Steve watching, this time, now that his damn come is involved, as it were, in the flesh - and they finally get to go home, even if Bucky’s not allowed to shower. They tell him to come back the next day - “because of your accelerated procession of symptoms, dear” - so they can all take a nice long look at his rash in its natural habitat.

Bucky takes a full dose of the Hulk-tamer and sleeps on his stomach.

Forty-eight hours later, he is holding a piece of paper in his hands that tells him exactly what he’d known three weeks ago and absolutely did not want to admit.

“Well?” Steve says next to him. “What’ve we got?”

“I have developed an allergy,” Bucky says very levelly, “to semen.”

Steve blows out a breath. “Christ, it was the jizz.”

“Specifically, and only, your jizz.”

Steve looks taken aback. “What? What do you mean, only mine? Whose else did they try?”

“What do you mean, whose else did they -” Bucky cuts off. “Hey. What the fuck. Whose else did they try?”

His own, apparently, which is determined after very reasonable shouting into the phone and arm waving in the kitchen. “Why is it even possible?” Having it confirmed seems to have taken the lid off a pretty deep well of righteous anger. “I produce semen! I have semen in my body right now!"

“Well, allergies are an autoimmune response,” Dr. Rubin says in a tone of voice that says she reacts in pretty much the same way to her teapot boiling over as to the heat death of the universe and that one shouty moron with a dick allergy doesn’t even register. “And plenty of autoimmune diseases involve the system attacking itself by mistake. It’s possible yours may be affected by the unique nature of you and your partner’s biology, but that, I’m afraid, I’m not qualified to speculate on. Your allergy presentation is typical in every way but for the fact that it heals in a matter of hours, so there’s no reason I wouldn’t expect desensitization to work for you.”

And that’s that. He has a semen allergy, and the solution is to take Steve’s jizz, dilute it, and apply it to “most commonly exposed areas” over a period of several weeks, in increasingly concentrated quantities. Until he can withstand it in “its raw form”, apparently, which is a phrase he never wants to hear again.

“This has been the dumbest, most disgusting week of my life,” Bucky says to the ceiling. He’s lying on their couch, which takes up eighty percent of their living room. It’s turquoise, plush, the size of a humvee and Bucky regularly decides it is the only good thing in the world. “It’s all because I made fun of Barton’s pokeymen, isn’t it.”

“Are you sure about most disgusting?” the only other good thing says, knee-walking towards him across the cushions with the bottle of pink stuff. “There was that time in Bruges when Dernier found that -”

“Yeugh!”

“ - and then fell in the -”

“Glaurlgh!”

“ - and went around all -”

“Steve!”

“- until you pushed him in the river. I think that one’s still in first place. Roll over, I’ll rub this on.”

“You are the most disgusting thing in my life,” Bucky says, rolling over.

“I try,” Steve says, rucking Bucky’s shirt up and starting to apply the calamine lotion. The rashes are all gonna be gone by tomorrow evening anyway, but it’s nice. Bucky rubs his cheek on the couch velvet and closes his eyes.

When Steve’s done with the lotion he stays on him, shifting to rub the back of Bucky’s neck. “I’m sorry my dick makes your ass angry,” he says a minute later.

“Your dick makes my ass happy,” Bucky corrects automatically, eyes still closed, then, “shut up,” when Steve immediately makes the couch go seismic with laughter.

“It’s a seminal plasma hypersensitivity,” Bucky says haughtily as Steve slowly collapses next to him. “If you’re going to apologize do it correctly.”

“Christ,” Steve gasps, wiping his eyes. “I can’t believe it's you and not me with this allergy.”

“Me fucking too, pal.”

“Are you gonna do the desensitization?”

“Of course I am,” Bucky snaps, angry all over again. “After everything, every godforsaken fucking thing, it turns out I’ve got an allergy to your jizz? This is god spitting in my eye.”

“Are you sure it’s spitting?”

Bucky rolls over and channels Natasha in his own attempts at homicide via couch cushion.

-o-

They end up spending the rest of the evening on the couch, first because Bucky wedges Steve into the giant seam in the middle and refuses to let him out, then because they actually start watching the movie he put on as insult to Steve’s injury. That turns into them ordering Vietnamese online and then lazing around under the afghan Bucky made during his knitting phase, now both slumped in the seam, scrolling listlessly through Natasha’s instagram, which is just videos of cats doing amazingly dumb shit.

Bucky is vaguely considering trying another round of talking Steve into getting a cat - having a come allergy is a good sympathy card, maybe he’ll play it here - when Steve speaks up. “We’ll have to use condoms, I guess,” he says, looking into the middle distance, rubbing Bucky’s back but lower down, below the allergy test.

Bucky growls. “I fucking hate condoms.”

“I know.”

“Even the nitrile ones have the smell.”

“I know.” Steve does know. There’s nothing latex or nitrile or even rubber in their apartment if they can help it. Half their cleaning supplies are homemade, too, and the other half are the damn fancy super-eco-happy ones made of unicorn spit.

Steve rubs his back some more. “I think they make organic condoms,” he says. “I’ve seen those ones in the pharmacy that say they’re made out of… lamb… something.”

“Nothing made out of any animal’s anything is going near my ass,” Bucky says, muffled by his hands. It’s not like Steve refuses to wear condoms, it’s just he’s pretty well aware that if he puts one on his dick Bucky loses all desire to touch it, which is frankly the dumbest possible side effect of medical trauma. “I need a drink.”

Steve tips his head in what Bucky understands is meant to be the direction of Stark Tower. “We could get a drink.”

“We’d get drunk.” Bucky rubs his face. “If we get drunk we’re gonna fuck.”

Steve nods morosely. “We could… I don’t know. Put a sheet between us?”

Bucky takes his face out of his hands to look at him. “What are we, Amish?”

“No, we’re allergic,” Steve says.

Bucky recently overheard a pregnant lady on the train tell her friend about how her husband was going around saying we’re pregnant, like they were taking turns with the fetus or something, and it had finally given Bucky perspective on Steve constantly framing Bucky’s bullshit as a we problem. We’re allergic. We can’t do that. We need outdoor seating with clear sightlines. He still can’t decide whether it makes him feel safe or extremely patronized.

“I am allergic,” Bucky decides. “And I’m gonna do the fucking desensitization. And we are going to have normal sex like normal fucking people.”

“The desensitization’s not gonna be fun,” Steve says, in a pointing-things-out tone of voice.

Bucky slaps both hands to his cheeks in cartoon shock. “No! Really?”

“I just think we should be open to alternatives.”

“I’m allergic to jizz and I have a prescription for injecting diluted semen up my own ass,” Bucky says flatly. “I am wide open to alternatives.”

“I thought you could also inject it under your skin.”

“Wider open with every passing second.”

“So we should look online,” Steve concludes. “So you can enjoy yourself while you’re… desensitizing. You can’t be the only person with this situation. I bet plenty of those organics people take issue with condoms anyway and have already come up with their own thing.”

That’s not the worst idea Steve’s ever had.

They return to the tablet. Searching alternatives to condoms is extremely unhelpful, because all that gives them is nine kinds of female condoms, which are still condoms. Apparently the only way future people have sex is swaddling up in plastic cling wrap and squeegeeing at each other like a couple of vacuum-sealed sausages. They have to dig further to get past the reams of rubber advice, which takes them to the all-natural crap that has, admittedly, done them good before, at least in the home cleaning department. Some of the website names sound pretty stupid - Goop? What in the sweet merry fuck is a goop? - but the article titles seem promising.

Five minutes later Bucky is reeling in confused horror. Steve is aghast beside him, scrolling with one finger and looking kind of like he wants to put his hand over his eyes. The first problem is that most of these… treatments... are meant for women, and while Bucky might have the hair he definitely does not have certain other bits. The second problem is that all of this “advice” is batshit fucking insane.

“Olive oil enema,” Steve reads. “Goat milk cleanse. Goat milk bath. To... lure out parasites, apparently. Unspecified parasites. Does this person have a medical degree?”

“I take it back,” Bucky says faintly. “Let’s do the sheet. Let’s do a tarp.”

“Who even writes this shit?” Steve says. “Who even - is there even an editor? Who’s the… christ. It’s an actress. This is a lifestyle website,” he says, “by an actress.”

“You’re an actress,” Bucky can’t help but point out.

“Yeah, but I don’t go around telling people to pour goat milk up their asses because they’ve got unbalanced energies.”

“Yeah, you know your place,” Bucky says, not quite able to hold back the irony.

“Hey. I was qualified to be a special ops captain -” Bucky makes a noise of outraged disbelief - “because - shut up - because I had you as my sergeant, and knocking out Hitler was my day job for six months. And before that I had an extensive resumé of punching out bigots in Brooklyn - ”

Bucky groans, rolling onto his back. “Go back to talking about goat enemas, you charlatan.”

Steve snorts. “I’m a truth oracle compared some of these hacks. If I ran a ‘lifestyle website’ I would at least fact check.”

“If you ran a lifestyle website it’d be about how to con your way into the US Army and do loads of illegal drugs.”

“Successfully con my way into the US Army,” Steve says, back to scrolling through the site. “And the drugs were administered to me by the government, that’s about as legal as it gets. Jesus, do they let just anyone write anything these days? Inflammation of the genitals can be caused by any number of factors, including chemtrails, environmental malaise and imbalances in your chi. Oh look. It says to try a kimchi poultice on the afflicted area.”

“There’s no help for it,” Bucky says fatalistically. “The cure is worse than the disease.”

“Well, this isn’t everything that’s out there. There might be something that isn’t…”

“Batshit?”

“Unwise,” Steve says, continuing to scroll.

“Yeah, unwise. Steve, this says to steam your vagina.”

“Well, you don’t have one of those,” Steve says.

“What, really? Are you sure?”

“Very sure,” Steve says gravely, which finally gets Bucky to break and start laughing.

“Oh yeah? You’re an expert?”  

“I definitely would have noticed,” Steve says, now smiling at Bucky in a really embarrassing way.

“Glad we’ve cleared that up,” Bucky says, pushing Steve over and sitting on him so that Bucky doesn’t have to look at that terrible mug anymore. “I wouldn’t have been able to take not knowing. So I should steam my asshole instead, is that it?”

“If the spirit moves you,” Steve says, face half smushed into the cushions.

“The spirit’s gonna move me right off this website,” Bucky says, picking up the tablet and flicking through. “At least this shit is funny.”

That attitude, however, only lasts until they get to all the anti-vaccination crap. Bucky makes the mistake of showing Steve an article some total quack wrote about how it’s dangerous to immunize your kids and things all go downhill from there. “Steve, you can’t storm LA,” Bucky says, when Steve graduates from ranting to vigorous arm gestures. “They’re idiots, not terrorists.”

“Not yet,” Steve seethes. “This is a huge public health hazard.”

“Yeah, but you can’t go kick their doors in and bounce their heads off the walls until they get less stupid. That doesn’t work and you’ll get arrested.”

“No jury would convict me,” Steve says mutinously.

“I think this is less jury and more national guard,” Bucky says. “Just call whatshisface on the Tonight show and tell him you want on air. You’ll get to tell all of America about how horrible polio was and how golly gosh gee wouldn’t it be swell if kids these days never had to deal with that anymore.”

“I’ll tell them that they better golly gosh get their kids vaccinated before I start knocking door to door and asking to see immunization records,“ Steve mutters. “Put goat milk in whatever orifice you want, you bastards, but vaccinate your damn kids.”

That’s the end of any productive discussion on the topic of Bucky’s ass, which, to be fair, is a relief given the organic solution seems to be goat enemas. Bucky’s not thrilled that so far the best of what the 21st century has to offer is crackpot rambling and snake oil, but it’s not the end of the world. Worst comes to worst, he’ll just slog through the desensitization and in the meantime buy calamine lotion in bulk.

And then, three sessions into gloomily diluting the jizz Steve dutifully supplies, there’s no allergic reaction whatsoever. Bucky stares suspiciously at the patch on his thigh where he’s been applying the solution and then glares at tupperware container he’s been using as the Semen Shame Bucket. “Steve!”

“What?” Steve says, coming out of the bathroom, wiping his hands on a towel. “Our apartment’s not that big, you needn’t shout.”

“Wow. I don’t mind you turning into your mother, but you turning into my mother is where I’ve gotta draw the line,” Bucky says.

“Ah, get fucked,” Steve says amiably, flicking the towel at him.

“I just might be able to,” Bucky says. “Look at this.”

Steve looks at Bucky’s presented leg, where there is not a smidgen of rash to be found. “No reaction?”

“None. Are you sure that was your jizz you gave me?”

“No, I went and got an understudy,” Steve says, deadpan. “I got tired of having orgasms and decided outsourcing was the way to go. There’s a whole black market for it around here.”

It’s Bucky’s turn to grab the towel from him and flick it. “Ass. I’m serious. Did you change your diet or anything?”

“What, in the past two weeks? I’ve been eating everything you have, same as ever.” Steve takes a closer look at Bucky’s leg. “Maybe your immune system got the memo? Things do happen faster with the serum.”

“Nothing is definite without empirical evidence,” Bucky says resignedly. “You need to jerk off on me again.”

“Not in the kitchen,” Steve says. “The bathroom, fine, but not the kitchen.”

“Bed,” Bucky decides. “We can pretend we’re having sex or something.”

“Yeah, and you can jerk off on me,” Steve says, sounding way too excited about it.

“Finally, equality in this household,” Bucky mutters, rolling his eyes, but goes easy when Steve laughs and pulls him in for a kiss.