When Sam moves out of their apartment and into Carol’s, Steve is understandably devastated. It was their last year of college, it was supposed to be some big damn adventure and there Sam was, getting all domestic with Carol goddamn Danvers instead.
No. Steve takes that back. Steve loves Carol. She’s a dream come true, especially for Sam, and he can’t actually be mad at Sam for leaving Steve alone in their shitty ass apartment a million blocks away from the school.
It’s just, well, looking for a new roommate 6 weeks into the semester sucks.
He’s looked everywhere. He’s even braved Craigslist! Everyone’s been crazy, or wanted him to negotiate on the rent, or in one case had a seriously creepy obsession with squids.
Steve’s been contemplating tearing his hair out, or selling his ass on a street corner so that he doesn’t need to bother with a roommate. He wouldn’t die of loneliness like Wanda insists he would, really, he’d be just fine. He could get a dog or something, that’d keep him company.
All of this is to say that Steve’s a little desperate, and so when Clint says “I know a guy,” Steve jumps for it.
Or rather, first he asks “Are they crazy?” and when Clint wiggles his hand in a ‘so-so’ gesture and goes “ehhhhh” like it could go either way he runs with it.
Clint’s guy, James ‘Call Me Bucky’ Barnes, is not crazy. He also doesn’t attempt to bargain, and lacks any obsession with squids as far as Steve can tell.
He’s weirdly endearing, and ridiculously hot, is what he is.
His hair is pulled back with a claw clip, twisted up at the back of his head and making a valiant effort to escape and curl around his face and at the nape of his neck.
His eyes are really, really very blue as they dart around the apartment, taking it in for the first time.
And his lips-
Steve is not going headfirst into crush town here. He’s not. That’s a one way ticket to having a very awkward rest of the year and then having to find a grad school in fucking Norway or something just to get as far away possible.
“Your room’s this way.” He says, leading Bucky towards it and forcefully dragging his magic back in so it doesn’t keep trying to curl around Bucky and feel him out.
His magic feeling Bucky up would easily be ten times more embarrassing than its standard attempts to figure a person out.
There’s a moment where Steve stands in Bucky’s doorway like an idiot and then Bucky motions as though to get by and Steve nearly faceplants in his haste to move out of the way.
He squeezes his eyes shut, bracing for the carpet burn that’s going to be on his face, but it never comes. Instead, there’s a hand- firm and steady and just a little cooler than Steve’s used to- wrapped around his arm, keeping his face from making impact.
He’s pulled back up, settled onto his feet and then Bucky grips his other arm and turns them around himself until Steve’s firmly in the hallway and Bucky’s standing in his own doorway.
“Less chance of broken faces this way.” Bucky says.
And then he smiles.
It’s small, and a little bit teasing and his eyes crease up around the edges.
“I’m just gonna get settled.” Bucky says and Steve nods a little bit absently as the door swings shut in front of him.
It’s not until he’s hunched over his laptop attempting to get Scott through a Skype study session that he realizes he probably looked like a goddamn idiot and possibly is the reason why this whole living arrangement is going to be awkward as hell.
It is somehow more and less awkward than he thought it was going to be.
Bucky doesn’t mention having to save Steve from a date with the floor, nor the fact that he probably thought Steve was a giant weirdo.
Instead, he seems to settle into the place like he’s been there all along.
Bucky’s things start taking their places on the communal bookshelves in the living room. A couple pictures of a young woman who Bucky tells him is his sister, a Bela Lugosi bobblehead, a rotating model of the solar system, and no less than four teeny tiny model robots all end up lined up on the shelves in front of the dozens of books that have been added. Knickknacks. Because Bucky Barnes has knickknacks.
Bucky takes over the kitchen and starts cooking. Steve wakes up to the smell of bacon and eggs, or french toast, or chocolate chip pancakes, and the sight of Bucky Barnes standing in his kitchen in a soft floral apron, hair escaping from a bun in tufts of curly brown fluff. Steve convinces himself he’s not going to die on the spot. He will not spontaneously combust, even as his magic trills and tries to wind its way around Bucky and Steve has to do the magical equivalent of spraying it in the face with a squirt bottle and reel it back in.
Bucky even learns to avoid the linen closet with relative ease. Though that’s only after Steve has to rescue him from where he’s tangled up in the thick ropes of vines that are trying to wrestle him into the back of the closet.
“Sorry, sorry, this is where I keep The Assholes.” Steve says as he wrestles the last grasping vine back into the closet and fixes his best glare on the undulating mass that dares to call itself a plant. “I will put out the sun.” He hisses with a pointed look at the glowing orb hovering cheerfully at the top of the closet, “I will stop bringing you mice.” He adds and the vines go still before seeming to sag apologetically.
“Very good.” He says and swings the door shut.
“You have killer plants in our linen closet.” Bucky says, and his tone is flat in a way that means Steve can’t actually tell how he feels about it either way. Sam had been okay with Steve’s ...more eccentric qualities, but as much as Steve’s magic goes bright and warm and positively ooey gooey at the sight of Bucky fucking Barnes, Steve still doesn’t really know him .
“I got Rufus when he was a seedling.” Steve says, pulling his shoulders up and straightening his back as much as possible. Dignified, you are dignified Steve Rogers, he tells himself.
“Got him. As a seedling.” Bucky’s face is suddenly open and expressive, the only problem is it’s also a confusing war of emotions. Sheer bafflement and incredulity, amusement, and maybe a little bit of awe? Steve can’t quite tell.
Steve says nothing, his brain searching for what he could even possibly say in this situation.
Bucky rescues him without even realizing it when he speaks again, this time grinning. “You’re something else, y’know that Steve? Some people grow, I don’t know, succulents, and you have killer plants.”
“They’re not killer plants. He was just being friendly. He’s just overbearing.”
“Right. Right. Of course.” Bucky says, still grinning, eyes bright in a way that makes Steve’s stomach and magic both swoop and soar. His arm curls it’s way around Steve’s shoulder and then he’s being dragged to watch the next movie on Bucky’s Jesus Christ Steve, How The Hell Have You Never Seen This, We Have To Fucking Fix Your Lack Of Cinematic Taste list.
So, yeah, Bucky is settling in and Steve is slowly melting into a pile of something that looks an awful lot like someone with a crush, except he’s not twelve anymore so it’s not. It’s definitely not a crush. Steve’ll be fine. This is fine. He’s fine.
Tony and Bucky only exist together within the space of Steve’s apartment for all of ten minutes, but the entire time Bucky’s there Steve can see that Tony is visibly repressing the urge to say something.
He’s proven right the moment Bucky’s out the door, off to wherever he goes at 9 at night on a Tuesday, and Tony turns to him and blurts, “Steve, you let a vampire move in with you!” like Steve has just done something either scandalous or idiotic. Or both. It’s the kind of tone that implies both, honestly.
“Uh, no?” He says and then, when he realizes it, “Shit, I guess I did?”
Because now that Tony mentions it, it’s kind of obvious. Like glaringly obvious. Steve’s not sure how he didn’t notice, except that he’s been a little distracted by Bucky’s Buckyness to realize he might be dealing with a vampire.
“You didn’t realize it?” And yeah, that tone is definitely the one that implies Steve’s an idiot. Steve is well acquainted with that tone. Steve is so well acquainted with that tone that his magic crackles and all Tony’s hair ends up standing on end and Tony doesn’t even notice. He looks like a judgemental porcupine, or maybe like he stuck his finger into a light socket and it makes Steve feel a little bit better.
“It’s kinda rude to just ask , Tony.” Because it is. Steve’s pegged Bucky as something from day one of him living there, but it’s not like he can just up and ask. It’s just not something that’s done. It’s not polite. Sharing is supposed to be done voluntarily and everyone knows that. At least everyone except Tony.
(Tony who had looked at Steve during Freshmen Orientation, slung an arm around his shoulder and said ‘Hey, man, nice to meet ya, so what are you? Witch? Elemental? Fae? You look like you could be fae, got the bone structure for it.’ and then just never left him alone after.)
“I just feel like these are important things to ask before you let someone move into your place Steven. Do you drink the blood of the innocent? Are you a serial killer? Did you formerly live in a crypt? You know, standard questions.”
“Can you say the name of God? Will you burn if dear Stevie here remembers his roots and starts being all Catholic? Is-”
“Oh my god, somebody shoot me now. If I’m lucky Bucky will come back and eat me right now.”
“Oh I’m sure you’d love it if he ate you.” Tony says, abruptly changing paths and waggling his eyebrows at Steve.
“I hate you.” Steve says, not for the first time in their three years of friendship.
“Careful, my therapist says I have self worth issues Steve, you wouldn’t wanna trigger anything.”
“Your therapist thinks you have narcissism issues.” Steve says and flicks his fingers, sending a pillow flying right at Tony’s face.
So, Bucky’s a vampire. And Steve, well, Steve hadn’t noticed.
He feels a little silly for that, because once he does notice it doesn’t seem like Bucky’s been trying to hide it, and if he has been he’s doing a truly terrible job.
At the same time, he thinks he’s got some pretty amazing excuses for not noticing. The fact that it’s his last year in school and he’s a little bit distracted making sure he doesn’t screw it all up and end up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt for nothing has been at the forefront of his mind lately.
Plus it’s hard to focus on the little things, like what Bucky might be, when he’s so distracted by the entirety of Bucky and his Buckyness.
So, yes, he has waved away the fact that every once in awhile Bucky’s hands feel a little colder than normal, and the bags under his eyes get bigger and darker. They’re easily explained away events anyways. And sure, the bloodstains were less easily explained away, but Bucky was in the engineering program, studying something to do with combining technology with the magical and Steve always got lost when Bucky tried to explain it, especially when he got into talking about biology and biomedical applications and at some point Steve’s eyes always glazed over, even as he was fascinated by Bucky’s enthusiasm.
The point is, Steve had once watched Bucky take apart his toaster and put it back together so that it stopped shorting out when Steve used magic around it. He feels like it’s just always been safe to assume that Bucky got injured fiddling with something in the engineering department. God knows he’s seen Tony all banged up from the same thing.
So, Bucky- his roommate, is a vampire and Steve is remarkably okay with it. He’d always thought he would be, because Steve tolerates none of the nonsense that is supernatural beings judging supernatural beings, but it’s nice to know his gut reaction is the same as what his brain has always said.
He doesn’t feel any different about Bucky.
He doesn’t feel any different about Bucky, and that’s kind of a problem.
Bucky thrusts a plant into Steve’s hands. It’s probably one of the saddest ones Steve has ever seen, drooping leaves and half of it dried out. He thinks that by some ridiculously stupid and unfortunate miracle someone somehow managed to overwater and underwater the poor thing all at once.
Steve melts a little, even as he makes a sad noise without meaning to and lets his magic curl into it.
Bucky brought him a plant. His magic wants to curl around him and hold him close and Steve kind of wants to lick his cheekbones or maybe even his pointy teeth.
It’s all very confused. Good . But confusing.
“You’re giving me a mostly dead plant?” Steve asks, frowning slightly. Except it’s not really mostly dead. With some attention and a little bit of magic Steve’s pretty sure it’ll pull through.
“I thought you could fix it?” The words come out slow, like Bucky’s not quite sure if it’s supposed to be a statement or a question and Steve can’t help the smile that spreads across his face at that.
“I can.” He says, smoothing a hand absently along the drooping leaves, his fingertips tingling as they attempt to push up and into it. “I mean, I’m pretty sure I can. I’ve fixed worse.”
“I had a feeling.” Bucky says, soft enough that Steve’s not quite sure he was meant to hear it.
“C’mon, come help me get her settled.” Steve says, already moving to the little patio of their apartment and fully expecting Bucky to follow.
Bucky doesn’t disappoint, following Steve into what Nat calls ‘the tyrannical takeover of green’ even if he looks incredibly fucking awkward as he does, holding his limbs close like he’s not sure exactly where he should put them or how they should be.
“Relax. You can’t hurt ‘em, they’re as resilient as we are.” Steve says, attempting to soothe as he drops to his knees in front of a large, squat planter box filled with plants that seem determined to overflow out of it. There’s still a little spot in a corner though and Steve thinks the newest little one will do nicely there.
“I’m less worried about them, and more worried about me. I’ve already almost been eaten once.” Steve can’t quite read Bucky’s tone with 110% accuracy just yet, but the fact that Bucky’s more amused than upset shines through pretty easily.
“Rufus didn’t almost eat you, don’t be a wimp” Steve says, and then “Hold this.” as he shoves the plant into Bucky’s hands and stoops down over the planter, digging his fingers into the dirt and humming at the pleasant trill of magic in it. It’s always been a welcoming feeling, one that makes Steve want to burrow his roots into the dirt and make himself a nice little home there. It’s tempting, and everytime he does this he’s struck with an understanding for the witches before him who have.
The founder of his mother’s coven stands tall, an oak in the middle of the woods somewhere Upstate. Merlin himself is rumoured to have rooted himself down somewhere in England. Speckled throughout history are witches far stronger than Steve who gave into the temptation. Steve thinks it’s possible he could himself if he didn’t have more roots keeping him in reality than Merlin has leaves.
“Steve?” Bucky’s voice breaks through, drags him out of the magic easily and Steve thinks for a moment that it’d be just as effective even if the earth under his hands had been thousands of feet deep instead of 18 inches.
“I’m fine.” He says on instinct, shifting dirt around until he’s made a nice little hole for the new plant. “Hand me that.” He says, hand stretched back to Bucky.
Bucky still looks a little confused, but he settles the little plastic pot into Steve’s hand nonetheless.
Steve pushes at the bottom, gets the roots to loosen up from where they’re trying to grow through the holes in the bottom, and slides the whole thing right out of the plastic. It’s easy work to plop it down into the hole, smooth the dirt back around it and get it all nice and settled in.
He gets back to his feet, knees cracking as he goes, and smiles something he’s sure is wide and pleased at Bucky.
“Now all we’ve got to do is wait.”
It settles in well, and before Steve even knows it it’s budding and blooming, bright purple flowers that buzz when anyone gets too close.
Steve picks one of the blooms, tucks it behind Bucky’s ear for proof that he’d been smart in bringing it to Steve.
The second time Bucky gives Steve a plant it’s not one in desperate need of Steve’s magic. This time it’s a hardy little lemon tree, perfectly content in the large bright green pot it’s planted in.
Steve runs his fingers over it’s leaves fondly and Bucky says “They said it won’t bear fruit this year, but I figure you’re a witch so maybe.”
“It might,” Steve says, and “Who knows? It all depends on if it wants to.”
“If it wants to?”
“Mmmhm. You can do everything right, feed it, water it, give it magic, whistle it winn dixie if you want and if the plant doesn’t want to bloom it’s not going to. Ma always used to say I was just like a plant.” Steve said with a grin, letting his magic curl into the scrawny trunk and whisper grow and bloom and quickquickquick. “Well, actually she used to say I was as stubborn as an oak and as fickle as a fern but the sentiment remains the same. To be fair, she didn’t have much of a green thumb.”
“But she was like you, wasn’t she?” Bucky’s nose is scrunched and Steve has the horrible, horrible urge to do something weird like press his lips to the bridge of it and smooth it out.
He supposes, in the grand scheme of things, wanting to kiss the bridge of Bucky’s nose is a little better than wanting to bite the tip of it. Which he also wants to do. It’s awful.
“Oh yeah, doesn’t mean we were ever good at any of the same things though. She was great at healing, and I can barely manage a skinned knee without tools.”
“Yeah, potions, herbs, maybe a crystal to help with focus, things like that. It’s the only way I’m any good at healing.”
Bucky nods, but there’s something in his eyes that makes Steve think he’s going over everything Steve’s just said.
The lady at the shop I went to said these were really good for focusing.
Steve reads and rereads the post it note stuck to the box Bucky had left for him on the counter.
He can feel it, the sort of suspicious feeling that is his brain pulling together pieces like it’s figuring something out but he’s not quite there yet.
Once is a surprise, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a pattern right?
Bucky is giving him things.
It makes something warm stir in his gut and he can’t quite contain his smile as he digs into the box and pulls out the large piece of citrine, rough and at least the size of Steve’s palm across. Beneath it, tucked carefully into a tiny little bag is another piece of citrine along with a piece of quartz, both small and smooth, each one roughly the size of Steve’s thumb.
Steve’s smile grows ten fold and he tucks the smaller crystals into his pocket and perches the chunk of citrine on a shelf where the sun will hit it.
Bucky shoves something small and fluffy and squirming into Steve’s hands then walks out the sliding glass door and jumps off the patio like it’s no big deal whatsoever.
Even though it is a big deal, because clearly that was fleeing. Steve’s learned it’s pointless to argue that fact though, especially when Bucky’s not there and can't listen to Steve's very valid arguments. He does however contemplate saying them for posterity's sake because sometimes he suspects Bucky sits on the roof and listens like the creepy blood sucker he is.
Instead, and because Steve is an asshole, he rubs his thumb and pointer finger together and wills it and magic crawls along the walls, trapping any noise inside the apartment.
He'd like to see Bucky eavesdrop like a creeper now.
He looks down at the ball of fluff still cradled it one hand when it wraps it’s mouth around Steve’s wrist and bites.
“Jesus, fuck, ouch!” He nearly throws the thing across the room in the sudden shock of ouch but it’s wrapped it’s legs around Steve’s forearm and is digging what feels an awful lot like tiny knives into his skin while still holding onto Steve’s wrist with it’s mouth.
Bucky has apparently given him a goddamn miniature demon.
He squints a little as he attempts to get the thing to release its grip on Steve’s poor skin and then holds it up in front of his face, taking in the orange striped fur, the serious amount of fluff, the little tufts of fur at it’s ears and the pink twitching nose.
Bucky has apparently given him a cat.
Well. Same as getting a demon, really.
Steve names it Bael, and plants cat grass on the patio, and demands Bucky help him put together the cat tree he orders from Bucky’s Amazon account with overnight shipping.
The cat is definitely demonic, Steve thinks later as he watches it curl around the base of Steve’s lemon tree to sleep instead of sleeping in the perfectly good cat bed he bought it, but he’s also definitely keeping the damn thing.
Bucky brings in four more plants, all herbs for healing.
He buys Steve special teas and leaves them in Steve’s tea drawer without ever saying anything.
He brings Steve the biggest coffees he’s ever seen, always black and bitter like Steve likes when he comes in just before sunrise and Steve’s sitting at the coffee table, pouring over notes for his finals.
He orders his favorite pizza and then gives Steve the last piece.
None of it is weird, persay, but Steve does end up feeling a little bit like he’s on the receiving end of what happens when a college senior with more debt than sense attempts to be a sugar daddy.
“Is Bucky…” He starts, sprawled across the floor of the apartment after his last final, Bael on his chest, a lump of purring orange fluff that keeps trying to migrate further up so that she can slowly suffocate him.
Suffocation by cat isn’t the way Steve ever planned on going, but if this is his lot in life he thinks he can handle it if it means not making Bael move.
“Is Bucky what?” Sam asks, having taken over Steve’s couch with Carol- who has managed to fall asleep with her head slumped against Sam’s shoulder and has dragged the feathered mass of one of Sam’s wings over her to use as a blanket. Steve thinks it looks ridiculously comfortable and is only a little bit jealous.
Bael kneads her claws into Steve’s throat as though aware of his traitorous thoughts and Steve scratches at her ears in apology.
“ Yes.” Natasha says, curled into the only other seat in Steve’s living room.
“I don’t know what the question is, but Nat’s probably right.” Clint says, on the floor like Steve, but with his back leaning against Nat’s legs.
“Steve’s asking if James is attempting some sort of courting ritual. The answer is yes. James has always been a little bit old fashioned. He means well, but he was made not born, so he’s still got a lot of pesky human ideals.”
The all stare at Natasha as though to remind her ‘you’re in a room of humans!’ However loose their definition of human might be. Natasha looks utterly unrepentant and digs her fingers into the hair at the nape of Clint’s neck until he’s too busy going boneless to join Steve and Sam in their staring. Carol’s asleep still, and once it’s just the two of them it feels pointless to pointedly stare so with a look between each other that communicates mutual agreement on that matter Steve shrugs.
“Am I supposed to do anything back? What should I do?”
“Offer up your ass? Or maybe your neck, he’d probably like that.” Nat says and Steve watches as Clint pinches the side of her leg through her hideous neon orange track pants in what he assumes is a ‘Not a good suggestion, Nat, and being raised in a creepy and probably evil vampire coven doesn’t change that.’ “I don’t know, Steve. You’re only obligation is to decide whether you like it or not and if you don’t to nip it in the bud before James gets too attached. Letting vampires get attached when you don’t want them to be never turns out well for anyone.”
There’s a warning in her tone, but then Carol lets out the longest, loudest snore that Steve thinks he’s ever heard and Sam is cackling right in her ear like an asshole and the room dissolves into noise and friendly bickering, Steve’s Bucky issues forgotten in the chaos.
He keeps thinking about it however, about the Bucky Is Possibly Trying To Get Me To Date Him In Some Weirdly Inept Old Fashioned But Kinda Sorta Seriously Working Way thing. About the fact that Bucky really doesn’t even need to try, because Steve’s wanted to have his face on Bucky’s face since about two minutes into meeting him. It’s hard not to think about when it seems like Bucky’s always there.
Steve thinks he kinda likes it.
Steve is aware enough to realize that he was smacked over the head with how much he liked Bucky the moment the man walked into his apartment.
He’s just not sure exactly what to do about it. Until suddenly he is.
He treks down to The Market on a sleepy Sunday morning, Bael curled into the pouch on the front of his hoodie with her head poking out one side and tail hanging out the other. There’s a brief sort of fizzing sensation as the wards wash over him, as magic looks for magic and then lets him pass through.
The change always feels a little disconcerting as what had looked to be a small, overgrown community garden plot opens up to reveal a bustling, twisting mess of vendors. They’re crowded together, a dizzying array of colored fabrics shading most of them, wares lined up on tables or shelves tucked into the tents, people yelling prices and offering deals and trying to lure the passing customers into their space so that they might be able to catch hold and get them to buy.
Steve worms his way through the crowded pathways, dodging to the left erratically when a centaur turns around suddenly and almost running smack dab into a group of pixies. They hiss and chitter and swarm around Steve’s head until Steve flicks magic at them and they jet off in the opposite direction, diving down every couple feet to pluck shiny things off of the oblivious people who pass by below them.
Steve would feel guilty, but people should know better than to wear anything that looks even remotely valuable around The Market.
He winds his way through aisle of vendor after aisle of vendor until he finds one tucked into the corner, shaded by tall growing trees and sporting a mess of pale blue and green fabrics that hang over the small tent. There’s a girl inside, possibly around Steve’s age, but also possibly thousands of years old because it’s impossible to tell with vampires. Natasha has insisted on various occasions that she is 22, 117, 989, and ‘too old to remember.’ Steve figures it’s none of those, but he also just refuses to question the age of immortal beings too much.
The woman in tent smiles cheerfully, showing sharp teeth as her blonde curls bounce around her. Steve doesn’t feel even a tiny bit of lure, which means he can be sure his answering smile is all a result of her seeming exuberance and not anything even vaguely nefarious.
“I heard you make sweets. For vampires.” Steve says, feeling somehow out of place despite this market having been a normal stop for Steve since he was a small child, hanging from his mother’s side as they went. He’s never ventured into any of the vendors that have much to do with anything outside of his own brand of magic though. Most people never do. Magic sticks with magic, and in places like this magic tends to stick with its own kind of magic.
“That’d be me! I’ve got all kinds.” The vampire says cheerfully, gesturing to her displays as though to prove her words. “What are you looking for? Something for someone special? Chocolates always go over well for that, no matter how cliche. As I always say, cliches are only so big because so many people like them! We’ve got jelly hearts, both cinnamon and cherry though I always recommend cinnamon, it goes best with the blood. And of course, don’t get me started on the baked goods! Red velvet is the go to, I know, I know, but I’ve got a spiced chocolate cupcake that is to die for. Metaphorically of course, considering anyone eating these is probably already dead. I mean, I guess there’s probably a spare breather or two who might enjoy them, but for the most part my customers are strictly fellow blood suckers y’know?”
The girl speaks quick, words striking as fast as lightning and Steve feels momentarily bowled over by the amount of words she just got out of her in such a short period of time. It’s impressive. Tony would be impressed.
Steve ends up leaving with four different flavors of cupcakes packed into a box, and a bag full of candy that the girl insists is to die for and then giggles about her joke for a full thirty seconds.
He feels a lot more relaxed now that he knows exactly what he’s doing here, and he’s cheerful enough that he lets his favorite herbalist drag him into her tent and convince him to buy a giant sage plant despite the fact that Steve, just like any other self respecting witch, already has one.
When Bucky comes home from his evening class Steve is waiting. He’s laid out everything he got at the market earlier on the coffee table, and joining all the sugar is a stack of boxes from their favorite pizza place. He has a stack of movies to choose from, and he even lit a goddamn candle.
“This is a date.” He says, glad when his voice comes out firm instead of filled with every bit of anxiety that is currently coursing through Steve’s veins. His magic is trying to creep onto the patio to the safety of everything green and Steve reels it in, forcibly reminds it that it can’t evacuate his person just because Steve is a ball of anxiety and is risking embarrassment here.
Bucky stops in the middle of the living room, head tilting as he takes it in, a slow grin spreading across his face. “Is it then?”
“It is.” Steve confirms, chin lifting despite himself. This isn’t a fight, Steve knows that, but he can still feel his magic twitching, wiggling around in a way that always makes Steve think of cats when they wiggle their rear ends before pouncing. He very firmly tells his magic that no, there will be no pouncing.
Well, not of the magical variety. If this goes well Steve might very well pounce and climb Bucky like a very nice tree. An oak, or a maple, maybe even an elm.
Steve might not have to pounce, because Bucky’s coming towards him in a way that reminds Steve of the fact that yes, vampires are commonly thought of as predators for a reason. His hands curl around Steve’s hips and his face is suddenly very very close. Steve can count his eyelashes. God, they really are nice eyelashes.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you normally supposed to ask the other person for a date first.” His hands are warm and heavy on Steve’s hips, a thumb has found it’s way above the line of Steve’s pants and is tucked just under the hem of Steve’s shirt, rubbing along the skin in a way that almost seems absentminded.
It’s very distracting.
“I figured I could skip that part, what with your declaration of intent and all.” Aka all the shit Bucky kept giving Steve. It was practically Old School Courting 101. Give the object of your desires a lot of things to show that you can provide for them and take care of them. Steve would find it a little offensive and antiquated if he wasn’t so delighted to have realized that’s exactly what Bucky’s been doing. For months.
“Maybe I’m just nice.”
“I’m not.” Bucky agrees, and his grin has turned into a smile, genuine and pleased.
“So this is a date?” Steve says, or means to say, because it comes out questioning and hopeful and Steve would cringe if Bucky wasn’t ducking his head and catching Steve in a kiss. It’s soft- sweet, and it only lasts a moment but it’s enough that Steve’s pretty sure his head is spinning. He’s vaguely aware that daisies are coming to life around his ankles before they realize there’s no dirt beneath them and fade away.
“Yeah, it’s a date Steve.”
One Year Later
The patio in their new place is much bigger than their shitty college apartment’s was, and Bucky lets Steve’s magic twist around him and draw on his when Steve goes to make it even bigger. Steve tells him that vampires are surprisingly helpful with object permanence in spellwork and Bucky nods like he understands what Steve means when he gets talking about magic.
He doesn't. Because as far as Bucky can tell magic is kind of like some strange housecat that exists inside Steve and other witches and none of them can actually control it, even when it pretends to let them. Bucky’s woken up enough times with moss growing up his arm from where his hand rested against Steve’s chest during the night to be utterly disbelieving of any claims that he’s wrong about this.
Bucky knicks his finger with a fang, lets Steve guide him around the corners of the patio and wipe the blood into the four corners of the railing until the air around it is shimmering and then seeming to snap into place, the patio now as big as any respectable greenhouse. After, he has to try very hard not to pin Steve against the sliding glass door when he pops Bucky’s finger into his mouth and licks away the blood like it’s nothing.
He fails and they stand there kissing until a sunflower shoots up between them and Bucky has to step backwards or risk getting conked in the chin by it.
Later, he lays on the floor of what is supposed to be the second bedroom and watches as Steve paints the room, the windows thrown open wide to let in the breeze and Steve slowly smudging more and more paint on himself as he goes.
The room takes four days to paint, but then Steve goes quiet and focused, his arms wrapped tight around his ribcage as Bael seems to appear out of nowhere and winds around his ankles. Every hair Bucky has stands on end as tinglywarmsoftfriendlystubborncuriouscurious curiousMAGICLIFEMAGIC! washes over him in a wave. The feeling fizzles out and Bucky’s up, arms catching Steve around the waist as he stumbles back a step.
“Too much.” Bucky says for what feels like the millionth time in the last year because Steve is always always doing too much.
“Worth it though.” Steve insists as he shoves his face into Bucky’s neck and stays there.
He’s right. Whatever Steve did is worth it, because there’s clouds moving across the ceiling, so slow as to be barely discernible and the sun painted in the very middle is lighting up the whole room. Bucky can feel it beating down on his shoulders, the way the sun always felt before he was turned. Before going out into the daylight meant feeling like his skin was slowly burning away. It won’t kill him, but god it always hurts like a bitch.
Bucky tilts his head back, canting his face up towards the sun and letting his eyes fall shut as Steve runs his hands over Bucky’s cheeks and jaw, presses his lips to Bucky’s chin and murmurs a soft, stubborn “ Worth it.”
They drag The Assholes into the room- or rather, Bucky shoves Steve into a chair and lets him dictate Bucky dragging The Assholes into the room and placing them where they belong. Rufus gets comfortable in his corner fast, massive vines climbing up the trellis Bucky set up and seeming to vibrate. Bucky decided a long time ago it’s the weird plantthing’s version of purring and he pats at one of the larger vines and then darts his hand back before it can get any ideas and try to wrap around him. He’s seen what Rufus does to mice, and while Bucky’s a lot bigger than a mouse he doesn’t want the plantthing getting any ideas.
After, they lay spread out on the floor, Steve’s chin propped up on Bucky’s chest while Bucky watches the sun track its way across the ceiling and then set along the west wall, the room growing dark as stars light up the ceiling and walls around them, just as bright as the real deal, just as gorgeous as what Bucky saw as a kid in Indiana laid out in a field with Becca and his mom.
Bucky presses a kiss into Steve’s hair, squeezes his arms around his witch, says “Thank you,” and means it with every fiber of his being.
And Steve for once doesn’t question it, doesn’t try to wave it away with an excuse or pretend he’s done nothing special.
He smiles, soft and sweet, angels up for a kiss, and says “You’re welcome.” right against Bucky’s lips.