It wasn't that Steve hadn't thought about it at all. It was just that he'd thought that the effect of Asgardian mead on Bucky might make their game unnecessary. If Bucky could get sauced enough to be relaxed and affectionate, like he was sometimes even the day after they played, then he wouldn't need to be Jamesy or Jemmie or anyone but himself to touch Steve and be touched.
That had seemed to be what was going on, after Bucky had had a couple of mead-spiked beers. He was a little flushed, his eyelids drooping to half-mast, and he leaned comfortably into Steve's side, quiet but attentive to the conversation flowing around him. He laughed a little, almost silently, at some story of Tony's, and made a quiet little impressed noise at something Natasha said. Steve put an arm around his shoulders, and Bucky slumped down against him, burrowing closer and resting his head against Steve's chest.
It was the same way he made himself small when they played, but Steve had had a few drops of mead himself and didn't think anything of it. He didn't think anything of Bucky's legs moving around either, just put it down to Bucky squirming around to get comfortable.
Then Steve happened to look over, and saw that Bucky had his legs drawn up nearly to his chest. His feet, tucked into the next cushion, were bare, showing pink skin and curled toes.
Steve looked down to Bucky's face and found that Bucky was looking at his own hand. He was holding a brightly colored bottle cap, rubbing his thumb over and over across its surface. It was just the way Jamesy used to study his favorite marbles sometimes.
The warning sirens were going off plenty loud enough now. Steve reached down to tap Bucky's chin, drawing his attention. Bucky looked up at him, pink-cheeked and cheerful, with Jamesy's smile, two parts sweet to one part deviltry. He licked his lips, just the tip of his tongue peeking out, and opened his mouth to speak.
Steve was getting hard and Bucky was about to call him Daddy in front of all of the Avengers.
Steve had hoped Bucky would be more at ease with the team if he could hang out with them in an otherwise private setting, but there were approximately six billion people on Earth who he'd rather have Bucky spill details of their kinky sex life to than Tony. Or Natasha, or Sam, actually; they might be less obnoxiously loud in their reactions but they would never let it go. And Steve didn't think Bucky had miraculously become this comfortable with the Avengers in the last hour, which meant it was Steve's job to make sure his little boy didn't do something he was going to deeply regret tomorrow.
"Seen and not heard, you," Steve said, low enough that only Jamesy would hear him.
Jamesy attempted to pout and beam at the same time, which shouldn't have been nearly as charming as it was. Steve laid a finger over his wobbling lips and Jamesy, inevitably, licked it.
Steve made his expression properly stern. Jamesy shut his mouth, biting his lower lip.
"Good--" Steve said, and he heard the silence the word fell into just in time to keep from saying boy.
Steve looked up to see the others all watching them with various expressions of amusement and interest. It was clear on all their faces that they thought Steve and Bucky were drunk enough to get affectionate, maybe a little amorous, in front of them. It was also clear that none of them thought anything weird or surprising was going on.
Definitely time to leave before that changed.
"Bucky's about hit his limit," Steve announced into the amused silence. "I'm just going to take him home. Now."
Steve sat forward, looking for Bucky's shoes and socks. They should have been right there in front of the couch--Bucky had been wearing them when he sat down--but they were gone. Some efficient robot had probably tidied them away somewhere. Steve had no intention of taking the time to find out where they were; every minute they stayed was another minute testing Bucky's mead-soaked self-control.
Steve stood and scooped Jamesy up; it would have been difficult if he was Bucky, but Jamesy knew how to make himself small, how to fit himself into Steve's arms. Even however drunk he was, he curled himself up just so, balancing his weight over Steve's shoulders while looking as if he was just draping his arms where they landed. His legs curled around Steve's waist, and Steve felt one bare foot pressing against his hip.
Jamesy snuffled contentedly against the side of Steve's neck, which was almost enough to distract him from Jamesy's crotch pressed against his side. Jamesy was clearly looking forward to getting his daddy's undivided attention. Steve turned on his heel, heading for the elevators; he made it all of two strides before the chorus of teasing catcalls started up, and he didn't let himself pick out any individual voices.
Jamesy snickered against his skin, and Steve gave him a warning pinch, out of sight of the others. Jamesy let out a little yelp, only partly muffled against Steve's throat. It was a sound Bucky would never make, purely a Jamesy noise, but there was no reason any of the others would know that. Sure enough, the sound only started another wave of cheerful laughter behind them. Steve lengthened his stride, wondering when the elevator had been moved an entire day's march away, but then he and Jamesy were safe inside, the doors closing.
"JARVIS," Steve said, looking up, "Is there a car?"
"Waiting for you on the garage level, Captain."
That would be all right, then. The service cars that Tony always dispatched to ferry them around were all set up to keep the back seat private from the drivers, and all the drivers had signed all the necessary nondisclosure agreements. Once he got Jamesy into the car, they were as good as safe at home.
Jamesy started nuzzling at the side of his throat, squirming in his arms in a way that was anything but aimless, and Steve's eyes flashed open to watch the numbers on the display ticking down. They might be alone in the elevator, but they were also very much not alone, since this was a public space of the kind that JARVIS monitored and recorded.
"Be still," Steve said sharply, and Jamesy froze, coiling tight for the first time since the Asgardian mead had begun to relax him.
Steve felt Jamesy's right hand flex, and he looked over to see the bottle cap held up between thumb and finger. He would let Steve take it away, knowing that it stood in for the usual toy. He would let Steve be the one to call a halt and force him to be Bucky again.
Steve sighed and shook his head. "Hold on to that. I won't take it away. I only want you to behave yourself a little longer, all right? Until we're in the car and the door is shut behind us. Can you do that for--" Steve caught himself just short of saying Daddy, as he usually would when his voice fell into that tone and cadence. "Me?"
Jamesy nodded against his shoulder and closed his hand firmly around the bottle cap again, but he didn't relax. Steve felt the pit of his own stomach tightening as he watched the numbers run down, wondering if he had ruined the evening for Bucky, put him off in a way that couldn't be undone before they'd both sobered up. When the elevator stopped he was moving almost before the doors were open. The car waited for them just ahead, the rear door already open and the driver already back inside.
Steve took just enough time to make sure that he got Jamesy through the door without banging into it--dumping him unceremoniously onto the plush leather bench seat was only right, at this point. He climbed in himself, pulling the door shut behind him in the same motion and noting that the privacy divider was already closed, the little green light shining to show sound and signal blocking was in place as well.
Jamesy, curled on his back across two-thirds of the back seat, burst instantly into howls of laughter.
Steve just stared for a minute, and then he slumped back against the seat and started laughing himself, as much from relief as the ridiculous picture Jamesy made. Steve had told Jamesy to stay quiet until they were in the car with the door closed, and Jamesy had done exactly that. And Steve hadn't ruined anything, clearly.
When Jamesy's first burst of laughter was dying off, and he was just giggling to himself, Steve tugged his boy into his lap. It took a little manhandling--Jamesy had gone limp as well as silly, and was no help--but Steve was used to that. When he had Jamesy mostly in his lap he stared peppering kisses all over his face, which made Jamesy laugh more wildly. His hands flailed in no particular direction, and he squirmed just enough to be in no danger of getting away.
Steve reversed course after a few dozen kisses, pressing Jamesy to his chest in a bear hug. He made his grip tight enough that Jamesy had to work--just a little--to breathe, and Jamesy's laughter tailed off into quiet, shallow breathing.
Jamesy snuggled sweetly against him then, nuzzling at Steve's throat. "Daddy?"
Steve smiled and loosened his grip a fraction so he could twist and kiss Jamesy's forehead. "Yes, sweet boy?"
"Was I bad?"
Jamesy didn't sound at all concerned this time. He sounded like if he hadn't been bad, that might be something he could remedy between here and home.
Steve snorted softly. "No, you were my very sweet boy. I just didn't want to share you with all my grownup friends."
Jamesy's hands closed in Steve's shirt, gripping hard. "You don't have grownup friends, Daddy. You're a grownup."
He had been Jamesy's grownup friend before he was--officially, explicitly--Jamesy's Daddy.
Steve tightened his grip again. "Not that kind of grownup friend, no, son. But they're my friends, and they're grownups, and I didn't want them to see my Jamesy. I'm only your daddy, and you're only my little boy, and that's not for anyone else."
"I know, Daddy," Jamesy said cheerfully, snuggling into his hold. "I knew you would take me home before they saw me."
Steve's eyes narrowed, his thoughts lagging by a couple of seconds as he put that together, and then he took firm hold of Jamesy's arms and tugged him up to where he could look his little boy in the eye. Jamesy's head lolled a little to one side, but his gleeful smile didn't budge.
"Jamesy, did you do that on purpose? Come to the party in front of my friends, when you knew it was a party just for grownups, so that I would take you home? So that I couldn't stay and spend time with them?"
Of course he would have left in a second no matter how Bucky went about asking; he didn't in the least regret leaving with as much haste as he had. But if Bucky had chosen this way to ask to leave, then that wasn't all he was asking for.
Jamesy bit his lip, but he was still grinning, almost laughing as he said, "Yes, Daddy."
"That," Steve said, giving Jamesy a little shake that made his hair swing and his head roll just a little, "was very naughty."
Jamesy's eyes went wide, his grin shrinking though it didn't altogether disappear, and his hand stayed tight around the bottle cap. "It was?"
"Very," Steve insisted sternly, silently thrilled that Bucky was willing to play this kind of game again, being bad for play, inviting punishment for fun and not out of some desperate need to atone. "You are going to have to have a spanking. At least ten strokes."
Jamesy chewed on his lip thoughtfully, then said, "Daddy?"
Steve relaxed his grip a little. "You have something else to tell me?"
Jamesy shrugged in a tiny motion, not pulling away from Steve's loosened grip. "What if they were birthday spankin's? We had a party, and there was cake and nice drinks, and. I think I'm five now, Daddy, aren't I?"
"Well," Steve said, fighting not to actually grind up against Jamesy and not entirely succeeding, his cock hardening as he thought of the possibilities Bucky was offering to put back on the table after all this time. "Well, a five-year-old boy should definitely know better than to interrupt a nice grownup party like that. He might have to have spankings with a paddle, instead of Daddy's hand."
Steve felt the shiver that went through Jamesy, and felt even more clearly the way Jamesy wriggled, grinding himself against Steve's growing hard-on. "I'm five, Daddy," Jamesy said confidently. "I guess I gotta take my punishment."
Steve slid one hand down to squeeze Jamesy's hip, fingers straying back to the firm curve of his ass. "You do, son. But you know I always love you, even when you're naughty, don't you?"
Jamesy rolled his eyes a little. "'Course, Daddy. You're my daddy, you hafta love me. And you only punish me to teach me to be good," he added conscientiously.
"That's right," Steve said. "You've got a lot of mischief in you, who knows how long it'll take to get it all out. But I don't mind helping you learn better. Do you mind that I do that?"
Jamesy shook his head and smacked a kiss against Steve's cheek. "I love you, Daddy. Even when you gotta give me a smack."
Steve kissed Jamesy's cheek and forehead and lips, each the same. "I'm glad, little boy. Although now that you're five, it's gonna be more of a thwack."
Jamesy shivered again and snuggled close. "Okay, Daddy. I won't cry."
"Oh," Steve said, shifting his hand to squeeze one cheek of Jamesy's butt, just a little too hard. "Won't you?"
Jamesy's shiver escalated into a sinuous movement, and his voice was breathy as he said, "I--I can be brave, Daddy."
"Oh, I know you can," Steve said, seriousness breaking through. Jamesy blushed and ducked his head. "You're a very brave little boy, Jamesy. But even brave boys cry sometimes."
"When they get a thwack?" Jamesy asked, head still down.
"Oh, for lots of reasons," Steve said, cupping Jamesy's cheek in his hand but not forcing him to meet his daddy's eyes. "I wish my little boy never had any other reason. But it's all right no matter what the reason is. Do you understand me, sweet boy?"
Jamesy nodded. "Yes, Daddy. It's all right no matter what."
Another time, Steve might have prodded Jamesy to actually say it's all right for a boy to cry, but that was good enough for now. "That's right. Where'd I ever get such a sweet, clever little boy?"
The familiar question popped out automatically; it was only as he said it that Steve remembered that Jamesy didn't want to play that particular old game anymore, because he had always been Steve's.
Sure enough, Jamesy picked his head up to give Steve a reproachful look. "You were there, Daddy. I was born right in your hands, don't you remember?"
"I do," Steve said brushing a thumb fondly over Jamesy's cheek, still a little flushed. "I remember, son."
Jamesy nodded briskly. "But then I guess I did get lost, didn't I, Daddy? And then you had to find me."
Steve's throat went tight, but Jamesy seemed unconcerned.
"I was lost so long I forgot how to be a little boy," Jamesy explained, raising one finger to wind it in his hair as he thought. "And so long that my hair grew and grew and grew until it was so long it was like Dumbo's ears and I flew right up into the sky. And I didn't know I was s'posed to be a little boy so I thought I was a--a butterfly, and my long long long hair was wings. And I flew all around and all the time my Daddy was looking for me, weren't you, Daddy?"
"I was," Steve promised. "I missed my little boy so much, I couldn't think of anything but finding you again."
Jamesy nodded again, like Steve had said his line correctly. "And then you did find me and you swooped me up in a butterfly net and took me home and said, 'This is where we live, Jamesy, now do you remember?' and I did remember but, but I was scared, Daddy. I got scared even though I was home and I remembered who my daddy was and everything."
"Well, that happens," Steve said, fascinated and charmed and with too much emotion welling up hot from the slosh of Asgardian mead still in his belly. "What did we do about you being scared?"
"I was scared that I would forget again and fly away and be lost," Jamesy declared. "So you cut my hair so it wasn't long long long like wings anymore. So it was just long enough for you to play with."
Steve grinned. "Oh, is that what that hair of yours is for? I thought it was just there to look nice."
Jamesy shook his head hard, making his hair whip around a little, and Steve tugged him in against his daddy's chest, pressing Jamesy's head down to his shoulder. Jamesy gave a contented little sigh as Steve started running his fingers through Jamesy's hair, alternating finger-combing and rubbing his fingertips over Jamesy's scalp, rubbing a little more firmly at his temple and the base of his skull.
Jamesy quieted, his breathing slowing. He seemed to become warmer and heavier by the minute, though that might have just been the effect of him being plastered motionless over Steve.
It was startling when the car came to a full stop, and Steve realized they'd arrived. The ride might have gone on forever; he was half tempted to tell the driver to circle until Steve told him enough, but Jamesy was stirring, knuckling at his eyes and frowning. "Daddy?"
"We're home, little boy," Steve said, brushing Jamesy's hair back from his face. "And you still don't have any shoes, so Daddy's gonna have to carry you inside, because little boys don't walk barefoot in Brooklyn."
Jamesy's eyes narrowed, his lips parting, and Steve put in firmly, "Not little boys who have someone looking after them."
Jamesy made a conceding face and snuggled back into Steve's chest, throwing his arms around Steve's shoulders. Steve pressed a kiss to his hair and then scooted to the door and maneuvered them out. He got a hand free to knock a dismissal on the roof of the car and then kept both hands on Jamesy. There was a little more maneuvering at the door to get it unlocked and open, and then he could carry Jamesy all the way to bed--Steve's bed, given how firmly Jamesy was holding on.
Steve lowered him to the mattress, and Jamesy let go in favor of nestling into the sheets, his hand still closed around the bottle cap. Steve got the rest of Jamesy's clothes off him and said, soft, "Ready for your spanking, there, pal?"
Jamesy mumbled something unintelligible, nodding as he pressed his face further into the pillow.
"Yeah, that's what I thought," Steve said. He contented himself with giving Bucky's ass a fond little pat before he turned away.
He went to the nominal hiding place on top of the closet shelf and took down the wrapped gifts. He'd bought them a while back, when Jamesy had started mentioning that his birthday was coming up soon. If he wanted to pick up where they'd left off once he was awake and sober, he could. If not, he could pretend he didn't see the presents sitting out on top of Steve's dresser just as easily as he'd pretended not to see--and minutely inspect--them on the shelf in the closet.
Steve did a last tour of the doors and windows, checking that everything was secure. He took the paddle out of the pocket of his go bag where he'd put it a few weeks ago; it was the one place in the apartment where Bucky actually would not look, so it was only for the very best surprises, the ones he was most sure Bucky would enjoy. The paddle was much nicer than anything Jamesy had ever been spanked with before, a lovely thing of satiny-smooth dark wood with star-shaped openings in the flat of it.
The future was a real kick, sometimes.
Steve set it down by the birthday presents, so Bucky could get the full picture of what was being offered when he woke up. Then he undressed and finally laid himself down, gathering Bucky-or-Jamesy close. He was limp and warm and snuggled trustingly into Steve: safe and sound and his alone.