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the Kept Boy

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enter the harlot and the landlord

 

Steve’s sitting on the floor of a dusty old warehouse, idly picking at a tear in his nylons, bored out of his mind and watching a couple of nobodies scrap it out in a bare-knuckle fight. He’s only there to look good. His boss, his pimp really, has a hand on his hair but doesn’t do anything, which is disappointing. Steve loves having his hair petted, even if it’s by a complete and utter moron like Brock Rumlow.

 

The fight doesn’t interest him. The warehouse is clouded with the scent of sweat, blood, liquor and smoke. The ramshackle ring is just a chalk circle, and Rando Alpha #1 is about to knock Rando Alpha #2 out of it. Neither of them are important and while Steve’s sure he’s blown Rando #2 before, he doesn’t know their names. He keeps idly picking at his nylons, waiting for something interesting to happen or for somebody to come up to Rumlow and buy a favor off him. That favor being Steve. He’d much rather be somewhere getting fucked than watching this fight.

 

Rumlow’s having a business conversation with some other rando, which Steve cares about just as much as the fight. He’s still not petting Steve’s hair, and Steve is still salty about it. He looks longingly at his phone, plugged in behind Rumlow’s chair, but it’s still charging and the cord isn’t long enough to reach to where he’s sitting. He looks back at the fight with a bored sigh and props his temple against Rumlow’s knee.

 

Next to him, Darcy lays down on the floor and puts her head in his lap. Steve automatically begins finger-combing her hair, because at least he understands that if you’re going to touch an Omega’s hair, you’d better pet them.

 

“Bored as shit,” Darcy whispers.

 

“Same,” Steve says back flatly, then does the dance move to follow her line.

 

“Quiet,” Rumlow snaps.

 

Steve rolls his eyes. Darcy raises her eyebrows. They have a silent conversation of how long is this fucking night going to be and I have no fucking clue, and Steve sighs again.

 

Brass Fang runs the illegal fights and Rumlow runs Brass Fang. Steve and Darcy work for Fang, and normally on a Friday night they’d be standing on some random street corner in platform stilettos, but Rumlow heard rumors that the head of the Seyrbakov crime family was going to show up to tonight’s fight and decided he wanted his two best assets on display. To show off. Like they are his pets and he is a collector of exotic animals posing for his portrait. Steve thinks this is complete bullshit and imagines that Barnes will not be impressed in any way by a man who’s keeping two of his hookers off the streets to sit by his boots, earning exactly zero dollars. He also thinks that the head of the Seyrbakov family isn’t going to even bother scuffing his shoes to attend an underground fight ring run by a gang as small time as Brass Fang. The gang barely controls a neighborhood. The Seyrbakov family runs the whole of New York City; minus Staten Island, but who gives a shit about Staten Island?

 

At least by Darcy putting her head in his lap, Steve can’t rip his nylons any more than they already are. And if he unfocuses his eyes and lets his head relax against Rumlow’s knee, he can get some fucking sleep. Rumlow hasn’t even said if he’s paying them for tonight, which would be just like him.

 

The fight ends and Rando #2 is hauled off half-unconscious. Steve’s sure he should probably know Rando #1’s name by now since he’s won the last six fights, but he doesn’t really care. Darcy is already asleep and Steve’s on his way there. The both of them can sleep with their eyes open; Steve can even sleep standing up. It’s a skill they learned while standing on random street corners waiting for somebody to proposition them.

 

Instead of picking at his nylons, Steve starts picking at the frayed hem of his shorts. They hardly cover his ass and the waistband stops just under his pierced navel, which is exposed by the mesh crop top he’s wearing. His bandeau keeps slipping down his chest under the top, and it’s not something Steve would normally wear; Rumlow picked it out. Steve thinks he looks like a country groupie and regrets everything. The only things of what he’s wearing that Steve genuinely likes are his spiked boots, the lace choker around his neck, the silver hoop in the cartilage of his right ear and the faux-plugs in his lobes. Darcy’s dressed similarly, but she’s wearing a bra instead of a bandeau since she, unlike him, has tits to fill a bra. His arms and the gold tiger tattoo of Brass Fang's symbol on his wrist are exposed by the crop top, which is mesh to begin with, so Steve is freezing. It’s November and the warehouse isn’t heated, which makes Rumlow’s a dick on top of being a moron. Fool’s wearing a jacket and full-length jeans, and Steve and Darcy are stuck wearing mesh and nylons.

 

Steve glances at his phone again. It’s nowhere near a high enough charge to be worth unplugging it. Rumlow’s palm lifts off his head and then drops back down, but he’s still not petting him. Steve thinks he’s a jackass. He liked John Garrett, the last guy in charge of Brass Fang, a hell of a lot better. Even with his all his faults and failings, Garrett never made any of his Omegas sit at his feet.

 

A new fight starts, but it's over just as quickly as the loser gets punched hard enough that he goes sprawling at Steve’s toes. The guy goes up on his elbows and spits out blood and what looks like a tooth. Steve wrinkles his nose and pulls his feet away, worried the loser got blood on his boots.

 

The fella that was talking business with Rumlow finally leaves, and Rumlow redirects his attention to the ring. He begins to absently stroke Steve’s hair and Steve mouths Finally at Darcy, who’s still asleep.

 

“Any sign of Barnes?” Rumlow asks Grant Ward, who’s standing next to them.

 

Ward shakes his head. Steve yawns.

 

The doors of the warehouse burst open then. Ward yanks a gun and Rumlow sits up, his fist curling on Steve’s hair and making him yelp in pain. The fight stops and those gathered around the ring scatter; dropping their drinks, blunts, cigarettes, whatever they’re holding, then half of them draw guns, too. Steve throws Rumlow’s hand off of him and prods Darcy awake, but given the lack of men shouting POLICE, he doubts it’s the cops.

 

It isn’t the cops. Steve strains to get a look at the doors while Rumlow sinks back in his chair, then the crowd gathered parts and Steve doesn’t have to strain anymore. Darcy prods him in the knee, but it isn’t necessary. He’s looking.

 

Five people are walking up to Rumlow now. Steve recognizes the Alpha in the lead by reputation and newspaper clippings only. As he approaches, it’s as if time slows down, just so Steve can watch his coat sway in the breeze of his stride. The cigarette smoke parts to reveal the shine of his hair. The large factory lights swaying just to accentuate the curve of his cheeks and jaw under the shadow of the hat pulled low on his brow. He’s dressed finely; black trench coat falling to his ankles, polished dress shoes stirring up the dust of the warehouse floor, tailored suit hugging his body in a way that makes Steve lift an eyebrow in interest. The other three men are relatively unimportant, but the Omega, spinning a knife over her knuckles, Steve recognizes as Natalia Romanoff, the second in command of the Seyrbakov family.

 

In the lead, then, is the infamous James Barnes. He’s handsome, Steve thinks, in a casual, I’m in charge of the Russian mafia sort of way. His hair is slicked back and falls just past his jaw, which is lightly stubbled, just bridging the line between carelessly gorgeous and wild. His eyes flash yellow and then green in the old lights, and even the gray at his temples makes him look refined rather than aged. A celebrity mob boss, he exudes an aura of power, prestige, old and dirty and bloody money, the American dream.

 

That aura is pressed into the hand-stitches of his tailored suit. It’s oiled in the gleam of his leather coat. It’s laced into the shine of his very shoes. It fills the whole damn warehouse without even trying, in the way only men with that kind of power and money can succeed in doing. Rumlow’s attempting to mimic that aura by having Steve and Darcy lie like leopards at his feet, but James Barnes does it with his hands in his pockets.

 

“Evening, Barnes,” Rumlow greets.

 

Barnes sweeps off his hat and nods to him, though the motion manages to become almost condescending as he gives Rumlow a smile like he’s greeting a child. “Evening,” he echoes. Steve thinks his voice sounds like molten chocolate. “Lovely place you have here.”

 

By the bored tone of his molten chocolate voice, Steve assumes he doesn’t mean it.

 

Rumlow does not stand up and Barnes does not look impressed by the hookers on display. He doesn’t even look at Steve or Darcy.

 

“What can I do for you?” Rumlow asks. He waves a hand and Ward puts away his gun. The rest of the gang members follow suit. Barnes does not look as though the guns even bothered him in the first place.

 

“Just here to get a piece of the action,” Barnes says with an easy roll of his shoulders. “You’ve got a nice thing going here.” He gestures to the ring behind him. “Been a while since I had time to take the night off to enjoy a little Roman sport.”

 

“Glad to bring you back to the ring,” Rumlow tells him.

 

Barnes gives him a definitely condescending smile.

 

“New fight’s just about to start,” Rumlow says anyway, clearly ignoring Barnes’s attitude. “Let my man Ward here know if you want to make any bets.”

 

Ward tightens his jaw in a way that makes Steve think he’s not happy to be reduced to a bet collector.

 

Barnes glances over his shoulder at the ring, then shrugs and pulls a billfold from the pocket of his suit. He counts out a few Bens, then holds them out to Ward. “On the little guy, whatever your odds are,” he says in a tone that betrays how little he actually cares if he wins or loses; a few hundred dollars means nothing to him.

 

Ward takes the money wordlessly and heads to find the actual bet collector. Barnes looks at Rumlow and raises an eyebrow expectantly.

 

“Stevie, go get our guest a chair,” Rumlow says.

 

Steve tightens his jaw in a way to indicate that he’s not happy being reduced to a go-fetcher. But he rises to his feet, brushes the dust off his hardly covered ass and the backs of his nylons, and goes in search of a chair. Darcy sits up when he leaves. Steve makes his way towards the bar, grabs a folding chair, then walks back to Rumlow and sets it up.

 

Barnes still does not look impressed and even less so with the folding chair. After all, Rumlow’s sitting in a wide, studded leather armchair. Barnes looks at the folding chair, then at Rumlow and raises his eyebrows. Steve does, too, glancing between his pimp and the most dangerous man in the entirety of New York.

 

Rumlow works his jaw, then stands up, kneeing Darcy in the back in the process, who scrambles to her feet and away. Rumlow smiles tightly and stiffly offers the armchair to Barnes.

 

“Thank you,” Barnes says, like he doesn’t mean it.

 

He shrugs off his trench coat and removes his hat, knocking snow off the brim. One of the lackeys takes both and steps aside, as Barnes turns and sits in the leather armchair. He flexes his fingers on the studded arms, leaning back and lounging in the chair to make himself comfortable in the way Alphas do to make themselves look bigger and tougher. Normally, Alphas look like douchebags when they do this. Barnes looks like he's mocking the suspicious eyes watching him just by daring to be comfortable.

 

His three lackeys file around to stand behind the chair and Romanoff stands beside him, flipping her knife with a bored expression. Barnes sets his hands on the arms of the chair, leaning back casually and assessing the fight with disinterest.

 

Darcy goes to stand at Rumlow’s shoulder, who’s now sitting in the folding chair. Steve goes to sit down again, to resume his napping position against Rumlow’s knee, but Barnes is abruptly looking at him.

 

His gaze sweeps up and down Steve’s body, lingering on the tears in his nylons. Steve stands still, acting unconcerned, but there’s something almost predatory in Barnes’s gaze that’s making his breath catch in his throat.

 

“This is Steve,” Rumlow says, holding his hand with a casual wave, but he fails to hold back the smug pride that he always gets when introducing him. “Steve Rogers.”

 

“I’ve heard of him,” Barnes says casually.

 

Steve’s heart skips a beat, shook. Barnes has heard of him? James Barnes has heard of Steve? Since fucking when?

 

“Only male Omega for sale in New York,” Barnes continues. 

 

Steve is no longer shook. He doesn’t take kindly to being talked about as if he’s a dog or a piece of furniture, even if it’s by the most dangerous man in New York. He's not afraid of Barnes and he's not going to be so blatantly demeaned like that, he's a hooker, not a slave. Steve crosses his arms and gives Barnes a dirty look.

 

“My time is for sale,” he corrects.

 

Rumlow gives him a fast, warning look, but Barnes’s expression remains cool. Unruffled, unaffected, uncaring, it's impossible to tell. Until his lips curl slowly at the corners, and he raises a hand to crook a finger beckoningly.

 

"Why don't you come over here, Stevie?" Barnes asks in a soft, level tone.

 

Steve’s heart skips a beat again; his arms slip from their position crossed over his chest. He almost takes a step forward. Barnes never falters in his come hither smirk. Steve no longer knows what's happening. 

 

“He’s not working tonight,” Rumlow says quickly.

 

Steve’s only there to make Rumlow look good and be bored, after all.

 

“Even better,” Barnes says. He pats his thigh, still smiling.

 

Rumlow gives Steve another warning look. One that says sit at my feet and Steve decides that Rumlow’s a worthless jackass, and he's especially not worth annoying the head of the Seyrbakov family.

 

He moves forward, and Rumlow smiles until Steve passes him. Barnes’s smile turns smug as Steve sets a hand on his shoulder; he leans back in the chair and Steve carefully perches himself on Barnes’s knee. Rumlow’s face turns murderous, but when Barnes looks over at him, he hastily schools his expression. Steve curls an arm over Barnes’s shoulder and leans on his chest like he belongs there. He is all too happy to do anything that makes Rumlow so pissed and yet unable to punish him for it.

 

It’s not like Rumlow can actually risk angering James Barnes, no more than Steve can. Rumlow’s only a small time drug peddler and pimp who runs an underground fight ring. The Seyrbakov family has been gathering land, money, and power in New York since Prohibition times, and now that Barnes is in charge of it, he owns half the city. Barnes keeps a firm grip on all illegal imports, exports, the drug trade, weapons smuggling, has police chiefs and the mayor even on his payroll, and Steve thinks he's on Interpol’s watchlist.

 

Rumlow is nothing despite his leopards. Steve might not be afraid of him, but Barnes is quite literally the most powerful man in New York.

 

He’s also warm. Steve, making a quick decision to risk overstepping his bounds to take advantage of Barnes’s body heat, curls his legs over Barnes’s spread knees and presses close to his body.

 

Barnes doesn’t even seem to notice. He turns to watch the fight, his expression bored, and Steve props his temple on his fist to go back to napping with his eyes open, acting as indifferent as Barnes himself. Darcy catches his gaze and raises her eyebrows briefly. Steve flicks his upward, then lets his eyes unfocus.

 

A hand sets itself on his thigh. Steve glances down briefly, and Barnes sweeps his thumb under the frayed hem of Steve’s shorts, just before the crease of his thigh and his torso. Steve’s not very affected by the motion, until he looks at Barnes’s face.

 

His expression is still bored, but his gaze is sweeping over Steve’s body with calculated evaluation. There’s definitely something predatory in it that manages to catch at the bottom of Steve’s spine and make him shiver.

 

“I see why you’re popular,” Barnes murmurs.

 

Steve says nothing. Barnes raises his hand and grips Steve by the chin, forcing him to look him in the eye, then sweeps a thumb over his lower lip. Over his shoulder, Steve can see Rumlow looking at the fight with that angry set to his jaw, but he’s watching from the corner of his eye, and definitely pissed. So Steve, to piss him off more and please Barnes, parts his lips and ducks his head to suck Barnes’s thumb into his mouth.

 

Barnes makes no noise or motion and Steve swirls his tongue in a practiced move over the pad of Barnes’s thumb. He takes care to drag his tongue piercing up the length of his thumb, then sucks it farther into his mouth, hollowing his cheeks in the process, down to the knuckle until it hits the back of his throat. Barnes pulls his thumb out then, leaving a ring of bright red from Steve’s lipstick down the length of his thumb. Steve lifts his gaze, looking at Barnes through his lashes, then purposefully licks the trail of spit off his lower lip.

 

Barnes’s expression has not changed any, but his pupils have dilated a little.

 

“I see why you’re very popular,” he says, tone still level.

 

“Do you know, I thought you’d be taller,” Steve tells him boldly.

 

Barnes’s lip curls at a corner. Rumlow’s gripping his own knees with white knuckles, and anything that irritates Rumlow pleases Steve.

 

“Funny, everyone says that,” Barnes says. His hand returns to Steve’s thigh, then curls farther inward.

 

“Do I meet your expectations?” Steve asks with a light smirk.

 

Barnes tilts his head, as though he’s considering it, and his hand slides up the inside of Steve’s thigh until his thumb presses to the crotch of his shorts.

 

“I’ll have to see,” Barnes says eventually. Then he looks away, face still bored, to watch the fight again.

 

Darcy meets Steve’s gaze with wide eyes. Steve flicks his eyebrows up once more. He’s careful not to betray the thudding of his heartbeat, his racing mind, the disconnect between himself and the fact that this is reality, that right now he’s relaxing in James Barnes’s lap as though he belongs there. As though this isn’t a man who’s notorious for his skill with a gun, for his short temper and how he prefers to solve problems by shooting people rather than wasting time with conversation. Or how he's infamous for how he’s evaded imprisonment for the past ten years since rising to the head of the Seyrbakov crime family above even the late Aleksei Seyrbakov’s sons, who promptly vanished into thin air after attempting to kill him nine years ago. Steve is not going to allow Barnes to know that he is duly afraid of him, or especially that he’s intrigued by the something predatory in his gaze.

 

Steve tucks his head in the nape of Barnes’s neck like he belongs there. It’s his profession, to become comfortable and seductive in his ease in anyone’s arms, much as crime is Barnes’s.

 

Barnes leaves his hand where it’s barely touching Steve’s crotch, and Steve isn’t going to let him know, either, that he’s more than completely fine with it. He rests his head against his arm, curled around Barnes's neck, and lets his legs hook over the arm of the chair and turns his disinterested gaze on the ring again. Steve relaxes in Barnes's lap, comfortable and seductive in his ease, like he belongs there.

 

 

The fight ends and the little guy wins, the previous champion spitting out blood after he’s knocked out of the ring. Ward comes by and gives Barnes his winnings. Barnes takes it, counts out the bills, then almost distastefully tucks the thick wad of cash into the waistband of Steve’s shorts, like it’s chump change he doesn’t want rattling around in his pockets. His fingers brush the bare skin of Steve’s midriff and makes Steve shiver slightly.

 

“Is that a down payment?” Steve asks, not moving to touch it and ignoring his body's reaction to Barnes's fingertips brushing his skin in favor of suspicion. It’s a thousand dollars or maybe more, and if it’s for favors, that means he has to give two thirds to Rumlow.

 

“Consider it a tip,” Barnes answers easily.

 

“I haven’t even done anything,” Steve says, a little surprised. A tip means he can keep all of it, and his rent this month is definitely going to get paid.

 

Barnes raises an eyebrow and looks at him from the corner of his eye.

 

“You’re keeping my lap warm,” he says eventually. “It’s enough for now.”

 

Steve clenches his jaw and swallows, leaning away. Barnes’s hand moves suddenly, cupping Steve’s groin, and Steve hastily swallows a startled gasp. Barnes hums, like he’s debating something internally, then squeezes lightly. Steve doesn’t move. He isn’t sure what’s happening, since he’s not supposed to be working tonight and he is sure Rumlow would actually hit him if he lets Barnes do whatever it is he’s debating internally, but he’s equally sure it wouldn’t be a good idea to say no to James Barnes. He might not be afraid of either of the Alphas, but that doesn't mean he's an idiot. Rumlow will rough him up. Barnes, frankly, might kill him.

 

Then Barnes moves his hand up, until it’s curled around Steve’s stomach, and Steve exhales carefully.

 

“Have you ever fought in the ring?” Barnes asks Rumlow conversationally.

 

“Plenty of times,” Rumlow boasts; it was how he won the lead of Brass Fang after Garrett was arrested a year ago. He’d fought Ward for it and come out on top rather quickly.

 

“How about you ‘n’ me go a round?” Barnes suggests, turning his attention on Rumlow with a smirk curling his lip. “Just for some fun,” he adds, flicking up his eyebrows.

 

Rumlow’s jaw tightens. Steve glances between the two of them, at Barnes’s easy smirk and Rumlow’s evaluating, darting eyes. He's seen Alphas challenge each other before, but he's never seen an Alpha make making a challenge seem so derogatory the way Barnes has just done. Barnes had challenged Rumlow like he knows Rumlow will have no chance of winning and he only wants to laugh at his failure.

 

“Why not,” Rumlow says. He waves a hand at Ward, who goes to clear the ring for them.

 

Barnes’s smirk does not change.  He pats Steve on the thigh, Steve stands, and Barnes rises to his feet. He slips his suit jacket off his shoulders, then glances once at Steve. Barnes seems to think for a second, then holds out the jacket to Steve.

 

“Here,” he says casually, “you look cold, doll.”

 

No shit, Steve’s fucking freezing. He takes the jacket without hesitation and pulls it around his body, hugging himself in it. It falls almost to his knees and is warm from Barnes’s body; it smells heavily of him, too. Barnes smiles at him, laced with something a little predatory. Despite his newfound warmth, Steve finds a shiver going down his spine. He can't help but feel like Barnes had planned this somehow, as ridiculous as that would be. Steve doesn't even know why Barnes is gracing the scum and lowlifes of Brass Fang and its allies with his presence in the first place. Barnes just smiles at Steve, like he's satisfied by the sight of Steve being dwarfed in his jacket, then turns his attention away.

 

Rumlow strips off his shirt while Barnes removes his scarf, takes off his waistcoat and unbuttons his dress shirt with a bored ease. It leaves him in a white wife-beater and his slacks, while Rumlow is only wearing jeans. Steve can’t help but admire the pull of the undershirt over Barnes’s shoulderblades, how his arms are now exposed and his biceps ripple as he moves. Barnes takes off his rings and watch, then turns back to Steve, that same casual smirk curling his lips.

 

“Keep an eye on these for me, Stevie,” he says, then tucks a finger past the snap of Steve’s shorts to tug him forward. He drops them into the pockets of the jacket and withdraws his finger, tapping the underside of Steve’s chin as he does.

 

The gesture is a little jarring, but Steve looks up at Barnes through his lashes. He curls one corner of his lip up, knowing that it’s a look that never fails to get Alphas tugging their cocks out. Barnes’s smirk flashes predatory again and Steve pulls the jacket around his body tighter. The air between them feels electric, like there’s a charge ready to jump from Steve’s exposed skin to Barnes, who only looks amused. Steve starts to wonder what it would take to impress him. He wants to find out.

 

“We doing this or are you just going to flirt with my hookers?” Rumlow snaps.

 

“Patience,” Barnes drawls, but he turns away from Steve to face Rumlow again; Steve crinkles one nostril, his eyebrows tightening, at the loss of Barnes's attention. “Kid like you ought’a learn some.”

 

Rumlow’s really pissed now. Barnes runs a hand over his hair, then strides confidently to the ring. Rumlow follows, with the exaggerated swagger Alphas use to make them look tougher, but he just looks like a douchebag and he still looks like a boy next to Barnes.

 

“I’m assuming you don’t know Queensbury rules,” Barnes remarks.

 

“Nope,” Rumlow answers, squaring up.

 

“Good,” Barnes says, then swings.

 

This is a fight Steve has interest in. Barnes’s aura of power and money is magnetic, plus, anything that involves Rumlow getting the shit kicked out of him is fascinating to Steve. So he pushes his arms through the sleeves of Barnes’s jacket, the silk lining still warm against the bare skin of his stomach and back, and watches the growing brawl. Rumlow fights like a troll, focusing on throwing his weight around and beating his opponent into submission, but Barnes is light in his movements and quick to duck under Rumlow’s guard. Rumlow’s no slacker, but it’s clear who the winner’s going to be before the fight even gains steam.

 

It takes five minutes and Barnes knocks Rumlow out of the ring. Rumlow lands at Steve’s feet, spits blood, and Steve wrinkles his nose when a fleck hits the toe of his boot.

 

“That was fun,” Barnes says as he sweeps his hair back into place, and he’s not even out of breath. He’s grinning and his teeth flash white despite the old lights, all but one incandescent gold canine that gleams twice as precious.

 

Rumlow jerks upward, snarls and tries to swing at Barnes once again but he ducks and trips him. He clucks his tongue as Rumlow goes sprawling in the dust again. This time, he doesn’t jump back up, because Barnes crouches beside him and presses a gun seemingly drawn from nowhere into the back of his head. Steve’s breath catches in his throat. The whole warehouse seems to be holding their breath.

 

“You’ve been doing quite nicely for yourself,” Barnes says casually, pulling back the hammer of his revolver.

 

Rumlow goes very still under his gun. No one moves.

 

“I’ve ignored you and let you spread your wings,” Barnes tells him in a tone that’s both polite and demanding. “But now it’s time you paid homage to your landlord.”

 

Steve’s very glad for the jacket hanging to his knees, because these shorts are indecently tight and never has a threat made him pop a boner before. Maybe it's the sheer power in Barnes's attitude, or the way he seems irritated with the fact that he even has to make this threat in person, or that he holds the gun almost lazily like he palms the handle of it as an absent-minded habit. Then again, Steve’s never seen James Barnes in the flesh before. He’s sure, with Barnes’s magnetic aura, he’s not the first.

 

“Hear me?” Barnes asks in a level tone, pressing the gun into Rumlow’s head.

 

“Hear you,” Rumlow spits into the dust.

 

Barnes gives a satisfied nod and straightens up. He uncocks the gun and tucks it back into his ankle holster, then brushes off his hands and walks out of the ring to pick up Rumlow’s discarded shirt and wipe the blood off his knuckles with it, before dropping it into the dust of the warehouse floor. He doesn’t look at Steve, but takes his shirt and waistcoat from the armchair to don them again. Another working Omega and the EMT who’d come to patch up the worse-off go to help Rumlow up, but he waves them off and spits blood onto the ground again. Barnes buttons his waistcoat, then finally looks back at Steve. His expression is bored again.

 

Steve goes to take off the jacket and Barnes catches his shoulder.

 

“Keep it,” he says. “You’ll freeze otherwise.”

 

Steve flicks his eyebrows up. Barnes reaches into the pocket, though, and withdraws his watch and rings. He slips them back on, never breaking eye contact, then reaches out and grasps Steve by the jaw. His fingers are calloused, rough, and electric. Steve feels almost like there's no one else in this warehouse but him and Barnes, the tension between them has him zeroing in on Barnes's gaze; which says something, because Steve's ADD as fuck.

 

“I think you’ll have to exceed my expectations another night,” Barnes says calmly, then bends to kiss him.

 

Steve melts under Barnes’s mouth, the hot intrusion of his tongue and the roughness of his five o'clock shadow and the smooth glide of their lips, but it’s over before he can properly enjoy it. Barnes straightens up, that predatory glint in his eye as he wipes the lines of his lips with a thumb and forefinger to clean off the red left on his mouth by Steve's lipstick. Steve sweeps his tongue across his lips. Barnes curls his lip in a smile, picks up his trench coat, shrugs it on, and walks off. Romanoff and the three other lackeys follow instantly. The wind slams the doors shut behind them, and the warehouse is left in complete and total silence for a moment.

 

“Son of a bitch!” Rumlow curses loudly.

 

The silence is broken and the warehouse bursts into talk; swearing and yelling and whispering, as quickly as the silence was ushered, it's broken, and Steve stands there swaying on his feet. Darcy darts over to Steve and grabs his arm, her eyes bugging out of her head.

 

“What the fuck?” she gasps.

 

Steve shrugs dreamily.

 

“Fucking James Barnes!” Darcy goes on. “He fucking thinks something of you! Dunno if he likes you or he’s gonna kidnap you one morning and no one’ll ever see you again, but he's thinking something about you!

 

Steve just shrugs again. He probably wouldn’t mind being kidnapped by Barnes.

 

Rumlow’s still spitting mad. His yellow teeth are bloody, his titanium capped canines, not even remotely precious, are shining under the blood, and his cheek has a large bruise blooming already. He grabs Steve by the hair, way tighter than Steve normally likes, and hauls him forward to leer into his face.

 

“The fuck did he say to you?” he hisses. His breath already stank of beer and cigarettes before the fight, but now it smells like blood, too, and it's nauseating.

 

“Nothing,” Steve snaps, clawing at Rumlow’s hand fisted in his hair. “Not a damn thing!”

 

“You’re not going to meet him later –”

 

“No, fuck no," Steve insists angrily, "the guy’s a creep, let go of me, asshole –”

 

Rumlow tightens his grip and Steve cuts off into a yelp. “You belong to me,” Rumlow spits in his face. Steve winces at the blood and saliva hitting his cheek. “You belong to Brass Fang. Hear me?”

 

“Hear you,” Steve echoes Rumlow’s own words bitterly.

 

Rumlow shoves him away and Darcy catches him. Steve pushes onto his own two feet and levels a glare at Rumlow; what he wouldn't give to see that bastard dead.

 

“Night’s over!” Rumlow shouts to the warehouse at large. “Get out!”

 

The crowd gathers to collect their winnings and Darcy and Steve haul ass out before Rumlow can call them back. Darcy pushes Steve into her car, then jumps into the driver’s seat and guns the engine without even putting on her seatbelt.

 

Steve slumps against his seat and laughs. Darcy shoots him a concerned look, but Steve laughs anyway. He presses a hand to his lips, still burning from Barnes’s kiss, and grins madly.

 

“You’re insane,” Darcy tells him.

 

“I got plans,” Steve announces, ignoring her statement. She is right, though. He’s completely mad. “I’m gonna seduce James Barnes.”

 

“You’re insane!” Darcy says.

 

“I know,” Steve agrees. He laughs again. He’s perfectly happy to pay homage to his landlord, so he’s going to seduce James Barnes or Barnes is going to buy him and either way he’s going be happy about it. He liked the predatory something in Barnes’s gaze and he wants to see it again.

 

Darcy’s phone rings and she tosses it to him without looking. Steve’s laughter fades.

 

“It’s Rumlow,” he says.

 

“Answer it!” she snaps. He sighs, but swipes his thumb across the screen.

 

“Darcy Lewis’s phone,” he says.

 

“You two, HQ tomorrow at nine,” Rumlow snaps, then hangs up. Steve drops the phone from his ear, looking distastefully at it.

 

“What’d he want?” Darcy asks almost warily.

 

“We gotta report to base at nine in the morning,” he says.

 

Darcy groans. It’s almost three now. Steve slumps in his seat, the adrenaline from James Barnes's sudden entrance to his life fading rapidly to be replaced by how much he fucking hates Brock Rumlow.

 

“Crash at my place?” Darcy offers.

 

Steve nods, then yawns. Her apartment is closer, anyway; he's exhausted.

 

He pulls the bills from the waistband of his shorts, then. A quick count reveals that Barnes had casually tucked twelve hundred dollars into his jeans, all for keeping his lap warm. Steve grins to himself and shoves the money into the bandeau around his chest, leaving out one Benjamin to hand to Darcy.

 

“What’s this for?” she says, glancing at it before pushing it into her bra.

 

“Your birthday,” Steve mumbles, settling into the seat.

 

“My birthday was two months ago,” Darcy points out.

 

Steve shrugs again. "Then it's because you're a good friend," he says. Darcy shrugs and doesn't argue.

 

He borrows a shirt and loose shorts from Darcy to sleep in, then after washing his face, he crashes onto her bed and is asleep before she gets out of the shower.

 

She shakes him awake what feels like five minutes later. He groans and presses a hand to his eyes, but sits up.

 

“Come on,” she calls, much too loud for this early on a Saturday, “you can buy Starbucks this morning.”

 

“Fine,” Steve grumbles. He sits up and rubs at his eyes, then stares at nothing while Darcy strips out of her pajamas and begins to dress. He shakes himself, then slips off the bed and heads for her bathroom. “Do I have clothes here?”

 

“You took ‘em home last week,” Darcy calls back. “Toothbrush, though, yes.”

 

Steve finds his toothbrush and brushes his teeth quickly. Then, for a moment, he just stands there, looking at his own lips in the mirror.

 

He can still feel the ghost of Barnes’s mouth on them.

 

Darcy pushes open the bathroom door, wearing a black pencil skirt over bright pink leggings and just a bra that does little more than accentuate her cleavage by how her boobs bounce just walking in. She's spilling out of it, too, and actively trying to get her breasts to fit better in the old bra with a grimace on her face.

 

"Tits out for Harambe," Steve says.

 

Darcy snorts. She hipchecks him, then goes to put in her contacts. Steve grabs a bottle of foundation from the shelf over her toilet and dabs it on, setting it with powder after she takes the bottle from his hands. He leaves it at that, adding a little mascara to his eyebrows to make them look thicker because Darcy’s too cheap to have actual eyebrow filler, then touches up his lashes while Darcy applies lipstick and eyeshadow. They have no boundaries anymore, and Steve yanks the shirt he’d borrowed over his head as he walks out to go digging through her closet. Most of her stuff won’t fit him, but he’s not going to wear last night’s nylons and mesh shirt.

 

He steals an old pair of jeans that more than likely belong to Darcy's ex Jane and a cream colored sweater that hangs off his shoulders, then tugs on socks from her dresser and puts on his boots. She comes back out, yawning carefully, and goes looking for a shirt. Steve wants to rub his eyes again, but blinks hard in favor of messing up his makeup.

 

When Darcy heads for the door, Steve follows, stealing a coat in the process. She doesn’t bother protesting or maybe she doesn't even notice.

 

“Where’s my phone,” Steve abruptly panics in the car.

 

Darcy plucks it out of the center console. “I got you, boo,” she says with a smirk. Steve sighs in relief and snatches it from her, powering it on to mobile order from Starbucks.

 

They get to the warehouse at ten to nine, and Rumlow’s already arguing with Jack Rollins and Ward.

 

“Why are we here?” Darcy asks Jessica Jones, who shrugs carelessly. She looks drunk or high, but then again, she always does.

 

Someone completely unimportant wanders over and tries to stick his hand up the back of Steve’s sweater. Steve smacks him away and shows him his middle finger until he glares and storms off. Darcy meets his gaze and rolls her eyes.

 

“– do we really want to risk pissing off the Seyrbakov family for your fucking pride –”

 

“You’re suggesting we bare our throats without a fight?”

 

“It’s the Seyrbakov family!”

 

Steve covers a yawn with his palm. Darcy curls her arm around his waist and drops her head onto his shoulder, vaguely sipping at her drink. Steve thinks she’s nuts for wanting a frappuccino in November, since his latte is currently keeping his hands warm in the drafty warehouse.

 

“This was bound to happen sooner or later –”

 

“John Garrett never would pay up to Barnes –”

 

“Garrett’s in the slammer, Ward, so shut your mouth!”

 

“We’re not paying up!”

 

The wind rushes into the warehouse as the doors open and Steve hisses as it cuts right through the weave of his sweater at the open front of his coat to bite at his skin. He hugs his coffee closer to his body and turns around to face the doors, which have been flung wide open.

 

Rumlow and Rollins quit arguing. James Barnes gives them a polite yet somehow simultaneously disdainful smile as he strides up.

 

“Morning, fellas,” he calls, hands in the pockets of his slacks under the same black trench coat. Steve’s heart is suddenly hammering in his chest. “Let’s talk business.”

 

Natalia Romanoff flips her knife. She’s the only one behind her boss, but Steve’s sure that there are more men somewhere in the shadows. Barnes and Romanoff stride forward, both of them loose and unconcerned in their movements as they approach. More importantly, Barnes doesn’t look at Steve. Most importantly, Steve pouts because of it. He’s had a taste of Barnes’s attention, and now he wants it on him at all times.

 

“You got a lotta nerve –” Rumlow starts

 

Barnes starts snapping his fingers as soon as Rumlow begins talking and Rumlow cuts himself off, his face flaming red in anger. Barnes gives Rumlow a smile like Rumlow's a particularly dense child. Rumlow's face turns even redder with more anger.

 

“I think you’ll have noticed that I own this building,” Barnes says, gesturing to the warehouse around them. “I own the building next to it. And the one across the street. I own the whole damn neighborhood. So, I don’t think I have much nerve to talk rent to my tenants.” He glances over his shoulder, to his second and holds out a hand. “Do you, Natasha?”

 

“Nope,” Romanoff says simply.

 

The knife flashes in the air as she flips it. The metal spins, light flashing white on the silver, and she catches it by the blade without looking. Similar to her boss, she exudes an aura of power and prestige, but where Barnes’s aura has an automatic warning to shut your mouth sewn into it, Steve feels sure that the knife in her hand would be embedded in its victim’s skull long before they saw it coming.

 

Barnes nods to her appreciatively. “In fact, I own pretty much the whole city,” he continues. He pushes his hands back into the pockets of his coat, raising his eyebrows at Rumllow. “You, though," he adds, "you’re pushing drugs on a few blocks. That makes you…”

 

He pauses, as though thinking, then shrugs. “A cockroach, perhaps. Nothing more.”

 

Rumlow’s jaw is tight. Steve is glancing between the two Alphas, like everyone else in the room excepting Romanoff, who calmly flips her knife continually.

 

“But what you are,” Barnes says, stepping closer, “is a pain in my ass. You’re pushing cocaine and whatnot too close to the local schools.”

 

Steve’s jaw is tight now, too. He hadn’t known Rumlow was selling to kids.

 

“So, I want you to change your territory,” Barnes finishes. “And you’re gonna pay the rent you owe me.”

 

“We owe you nothing,” Rumlow spits.

 

Barnes shakes his head, tongue clucking again, like he’d done last night before he’d drawn a gun on Rumlow.

 

“Don’t make me mad,” Barnes warns.

 

“We don’t owe you shit,” Rumlow insists, striding forward to confront Barnes. “We don’t gotta listen to you. We don’t gotta do nothing –”

 

The gun is in Barnes’s hand before Steve sees him reach under his coat. The shot echoes throughout the warehouse, and Barnes rubs at his temple with his empty hand as though it’s a mere irritant, but everyone else jumps. Darcy claps her hands over her mouth and Jessica swears more coherently than Steve’s ever heard her speak in the six or seven years he’s known her. Everyone jumps, swears, gasps, or something else, everyone but Romanoff, who hardly blinks. She flips her knife once more, the silver glinting in the light of the high windows. Rumlow sways slightly, then falls forward onto his face.

 

Barnes has shot him between the eyebrows. Barnes steps up to Rumlow’s slumped body and turns his limp head with his shoe, clucking his tongue again. Steve's breath is frozen in his chest, his eyes and mind fixed on the dark red pool beginning to spread outwards on the dusty warehouse floor. Steve's thoughts shift from Barnes to not even eight hours ago, when he had bitterly wished Rumlow dead and not for the first time. He doesn't want to think of Barnes as some sort of angel or genie, but his wish came true and the timing is remarkable.

 

“Didn’t I say not to make me mad?” Barnes sighs. He looks up, at Rollins and Ward, then gestures with the gun in his hand. “I warned him, yeah?”

 

“Yeah,” Rollins and Ward agree hastily.

 

“So who’s his second?” Barnes asks, pointing the gun casually between the pair of them.

 

Ward immediately points to Rollins, as do half the other guys in the warehouse. Rollins stands up straighter.

 

Barnes smiles, nodding, then fixes the gun on Rollins. “Quit selling your stuff by that school,” he says, like he’s talking to a toddler, “and pay your rent.”

 

Barnes cocks the hammer of his revolver once more. He quits smiling, and Steve can see why he’s the most dangerous man in New York. It’s alluring, like his magnetic aura, and Steve is entranced by the smoke curling off the gun, the lack of concern he has for the man whose brains are slowly seeping out of his head by his feet, the danger of it all. He feels the ghost of Barnes’s mouth on his lips and he wants it more.

 

“Fifteen percent,” Rollins offers.

 

Barnes hums, as though debating it internally. He flips the gun in his palm, much like Romanoff flips her knife. He spins it on a finger, then aims it at Rollins once more, who doesn’t move.

 

“Forty,” Barnes says. “And that’s from all your profits. I’m in a generous mood,” he adds with a condescending smirk.

 

“Fine,” Rollins spits out. “Forty percent.”

 

Barnes gives a nod, then pushes the gun back under his coat. “Glad we understand each other.”

 

He turns away and Romanoff waits for him to pass her before following him, knife flipping through the air before she catches it by the handle and sheathes it under her coat. Steve’s heart is pounding in his ears and Barnes’ hasn’t even looked at him.

 

At the door, Barnes abruptly pauses. Steve take in a hopeful breath, though he doesn't dare move. Barnes turns back, snapping his fingers like he's just remembered something, and Rollins stands a little straighter.

 

“One more thing,” Barnes says. He strides back in, tapping his chin with a speculative look on his face. “I’m thinking… Fridays.”

 

“Fridays?” Rollins repeats. He and Ward exchange confused glances. Steve frowns a little.

 

Barnes simply nods. "Fridays," he repeats. He drops his hand, then points off to the side. “I want his Friday nights.”

 

His index finger, somewhat blackened by gunshot residue, is pointing directly at Steve. Darcy slowly uncovers her open mouth. Steve’s heart skips a beat.

 

“Friday’s his best night,” Rollins tries to argue. “Sundays.”

 

“I said Fridays,” Barnes says easily.

 

Steve opens his mouth, maybe to say Barnes can have him on any night of the week he wants because he's in charge of his own schedule, but Rollins is already nodding and Steve doesn’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

 

“Fine,” Rollins agrees reluctantly. “You can have him on Fridays.”

 

“Good,” Barnes says. He still hasn’t even looked at Steve. “Eight o’clock. You know where I live. See he gets there.”

 

Then, he finally leaves. When the door bangs shut again, Rollins runs over to Rumlow’s fallen body and rolls him onto his back. He covers his mouth and gags slightly, then straightens up and steps away.

 

Rumlow is very plainly dead, there is more blood pooled under where his face lay than Steve has ever seen in his life and already his skin is turning cocaine white. The blood slowly seeps across the floor, like an affectation of roses blooming in time-lapse on the dusty concrete. 

 

“Shit,” Rollins breathes into the silence left by James Barnes’s wake. “Shit.

 

Steve sucks in a hard breath. Darcy gapes at him. He can’t devote any more thought to Rumlow’s murder, his mind is again consumed by Barnes ordering his Friday nights and not even looking at him.

 

He’s glad he’s wearing Darcy’s clothes, because they’re baggy on him and hide the fact that he's gotten hard. He’s way too into this. The man just shot  Steve’s boss. For no apparent reason. Barnes just flat out murdered Rumlow, Steve has known him since high school, and he can’t even think about that, he’s too focused on the thrum of his blood in his veins. He’s way too into Barnes.

 

“Girls, get out,” Rollins snaps as he gestures to the gathered hookers; he includes Steve in girls and Steve is used to it by then. “I don’t even know why he called you here," Rollins says, "just get out.”

 

They don’t need to be told twice. They practically flee the warehouse, which now is reeking of blood. Steve gets back into Darcy’s car and now it’s Darcy who lets out a hysterical laugh.

 

“You’re doomed!” she gasps. “Oh my god, you’re doomed.”

 

“I’m into it,” Steve mutters.

 

Darcy gapes a little longer at him. “You kinky bastard,” she forces out.

 

Steve smiles a little, sweeping his tongue over his teeth in anticipation already, the metal bar clacking against his teeth. He’s way too into this.

 

He’s now consumed by a different thought. It’s Saturday. He’s got almost a week before he’ll see Barnes again.

 

He goes back to Darcy’s apartment to get his stuff and his car, then drives himself home with the now 11 hundred dollars tucked into a pocket of it. He shoves it into a coffee can to give to his landlord later, and the thought of a landlord makes a thrill run over him, because what if this building’s owned by the Seyrbakov family, too?

 

Then he takes a shower and jerks off fantasizing about what Barnes might be planning to do to him on Friday.

Chapter Text

yes, sir

 

The week passes agonizingly slowly and heart-racingly fast at the same time. Sunday has him passed out half the day and avoiding doing the laundry he should be doing the rest of it. Monday takes him to his local health center for his birth control shot and STD testing. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, he works. But Friday night comes, and Steve dresses himself with twice the care of normal. He wears black jeans that are nearly painted on with rips in the thighs, a long-sleeved crop top with a crushed velvet texture, and a studded leather choker on his neck. He gets his nails done in the morning instead of painting them himself. He wears 24-hour dark red lipstick, like oxygenated blood, cubic zirconia earrings in his lobes and a stud that matches his choker in the cartilage of his right ear. Lastly, he puts on Barnes’s suit jacket. He looks damn good, and he fully expects Barnes to either rip it off of him or order him to strip the second he walks in the door.

 

Steve’s not sure which of the two options he’d rather have happen. Both make his jeans feel tighter than normal.

 

Rollins has sent one of his lowlifes to pick him up, another Alpha that’s totally unimportant who just nods when Steve approaches and crosses around to get in the car. Steve gets in the front passenger seat and props his boots up on the dashboard, tapping his sharp red nails, like oxygenated blood, on cracked faux leather details of the door. The lowlife glares at Steve's boots on the dash, but says nothing as he puts the car in gear. Steve listens to music on his phone and watches traffic as they make their way uptown. His heart is thudding his chest.

 

Half an hour later, the lowlife stops outside an apartment building on Park Avenue that looks the rent on a closet would be more expensive than the entirety of Steve’s life value. Steve doesn’t glance once at his driver before getting out and striding up to the door.

 

There’s a doorman, because of course there is. Not to mention the two muscled goons in suits standing outside with the distinct but subtle bulges of guns under their jackets as they flank the doors.

 

“Your name, sir?” the doorman asks, looking Steve up and down with a calculated look.

 

“Steve Rogers,” Steve answers, tapping his nails against his thigh impatiently.

 

The man checks a list, then opens the door. Steve strides past and looks around the lobby of the building. Everything is marble. There's a crystal chandelier. The rent on a closet in this place would probably be twice Steve’s whole life value. 

 

He approaches a receptionist because he doesn’t know what apartment Barnes would be in. The receptionist actually checks his ID before consulting yet another list.

 

“The penthouse floor,” she says. “Mr. Barnes is expecting you.”

 

“Thanks,” Steve replies, flashing her a grin, and heads for the elevator. He should have assumed Barnes would have the penthouse.

 

And there’s an operator for the elevator. Steve tells him he’s going to the penthouse, then his name, and the operator enters a code before pressing the button for the top floor without another word. Steve tucks his hands into the pockets of Barnes’s jacket and hums along with the song on his phone.

 

Barnes is on the ninety-fifth floor. The elevator plays music. Steve’s heart is thudding painfully hard in his chest, and when the elevator dings and stops, it only gets faster.

 

The doors part to reveal an empty foyer. Steve steps out and the doors close behind him on the operator’s bored face.

 

Steve looks around, taking in the room. The floor’s marble here, too, a step down leading to what Steve would normally call a living room but is probably called a parlor for being fancy. The furniture is all black leather and the decor is all shades of white, the room lined in floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony off to the side. There is a grand piano sitting nearby, a door leading to a kitchen next to him, and a set of stairs leading up.

 

There’s no one there. Steve pulls his hand from the pockets of the jacket and looks through into the kitchen, then steps towards the parlor to peer up at the second floor, wondering what he’s supposed to do. He plays a few notes on the piano and then steps away, crossing his arms over his chest and glowering at nothing. Is he meant to just wait?

 

Faint voices reach his ears. Steve tries to make out what they’re saying, but they’re too distant. He exhales, then strides into the parlor and drops into a chair, putting his boots up and making himself at home to wait.

 

Half an hour goes by. Steve spends it scrolling mindlessly through Instagram, lounging on Barnes’s expensive furniture like he belongs there. An entire half hour goes by, then he finally hears footsteps and the voices drawing nearer. Steve keeps his gaze fixed on his phone.

 

“...No, I want it in Beijing by next week. Do I have to tell you again? Beijing by next week, or you’re fired.”

 

The voice cuts off. A woman chuckles.

 

“Shuddup, Natasha,” Barnes growls. Steve feels his toes curl a little on their own.

 

Barnes and Romanoff appear at the balcony of the second floor. Steve focuses on his phone. He hears Romanoff chuckle again, then a faint whisper and footsteps on the stairs. The elevator rolls to life, then dings a minute later before going down again. Steve props his elbow on the chair to lean his head onto his fist, staring at his phone but not seeing.

 

Barnes’s legs and torso appear in the corner of his eye. He’s dressed casually for a celebrity mob boss, Steve thinks. He wears black slacks and a white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, tie loose around his neck, a Rolex glinting on his left wrist and platinum rings lining his fingers. Then Barnes tugs the phone from his hand.

 

“Hey!” Steve protests, finally looking up.

 

Barnes tucks Steve’s phone into his pocket. His expression looking down at Steve is predatory. Steve swallows without meaning to.

 

“Get up,” Barnes orders.

 

Steve stands.

 

Barnes beckons him forward and Steve steps toward him, only for Barnes to duck around him and circle him, like a carrion bird examining its next meal. Steve keeps his gaze level while Barnes circles him, feeling like a shrew under the eye of a raven, until Barnes stops in front of him once more. Steve can’t decide whether he likes this feeling or not.

 

“I figured you’d want your jacket back,” he says to hide his discomfort/arousal. He plucks the lapel and lets it slip a little off his shoulder.

 

“You’re right,” Barnes says simply. “Take it off.”

 

Steve pulls it off his shoulders, folds it in half, then holds it out to Barnes. Barnes waves a hand at the sectional leather sofa behind him and Steve tosses it aside.

 

“Go upstairs,” Barnes orders him again. Steve shivers a little. “There are three doors, go through the center one.”

 

With that, Barnes walks off. Steve watches him go, jaw slightly slack, and instead of going upstairs like he’d been told, follows him.

 

Barnes glances back at him, then stops and turns around to face him. “I said go upstairs,” he repeats. Then waves a hand, shooing him away, as though Steve’s bothering him. “Go.”

 

Steve raises his eyebrows, but Barnes turns back around, again ignoring him. Steve hates being ignored. He crosses his arms and stands in the doorway. Barnes opens the fridge and looks into it for a minute, then pulls out a takeout container and heads for a counter. He pulls out a plate, a fork, goes to the island counter and sets them down. Only then does he look up, seeing Steve still standing in the doorway.

 

“I don’t like repeating myself,” Barnes snaps. “Go. Up. Stairs.”

 

Steve’s blood surges southward but he stays stubbornly where he is. He wants to know how far Barnes will go with this act, and how much he can piss him off before it gets too far. “I don’t like being ignored,” he says.

 

Barnes tightens his grip on his fork, tightening his jaw. For a moment, Steve panics and thinks that this is it, this is how he’s going to die, because he was acting like a brat and pissed off the head of a Russian crime syndicate. Then Barnes sets down what’s in his hands and strides forward. He grabs Steve by the jaw and tilts his head back forcibly so Steve has no choice but to look Barnes in the eye. Though, Steve gives little resistance.

 

“Here’s how this is going to go,” Barnes says, voice quiet and dangerous and Steve is way too into this. “You’re going to listen to me, you little punk. Don’t listen one more time and I will make you regret it. Am I clear?”

 

Steve blinks. He doesn’t know if the shiver that goes through him is fear or excitement.

 

“We’ll talk rules upstairs,” Barnes adds, as though unconcerned by them already. “But for now, remember. I don’t like repeating myself.”

 

Steve sweeps his tongue over his lower lip, adding a little gloss to the matte of his lipstick, and Barnes’s gaze drops to his mouth.

 

“I don’t like being ignored,” Steve says again, then jerks his jaw out of Barnes’s grip and turns on his heel. There are windows spanning the parlor, and he can see Barnes watching him march off with a dark gaze. On the stairs, Steve smiles to himself.

 

He takes the middle of the three doors and steps into what has to be Barnes’s bedroom. The room is paneled in windows, heavy drapes hanging at every interval but pulled open. A low bed stands in the middle of the room, with no other furniture taking up space in the center. A long dresser sits directly to the left of the door, a massive wardrobe flanking it on the next wall, and between it and the windows, a set of French doors is shut. Another set of French doors stand open to the right of him, showing a marble bathroom. Steve considers the room, then sits down on the bed and lies back, folding his arms under his head. He hasn’t been told to strip, so he does absolutely nothing.

 

He wishes he still had his phone though. Ten minutes go by, and Steve’s still waiting. He remembers the takeout container Barnes had taken from the fridge and glowers at the ceiling. First the lack of a welcome, now Barnes is eating dinner and Steve’s lying here, bored out of his skull, having to wait for him to finish. He hates being made to wait.

 

But he waits. Another twenty minutes pass, and he hears footsteps on the stairs. Steve remains where he is, sprawled across Barnes’s bed like he belongs there. The door opens, then closes again, and Steve doesn’t move. A weight presses down on the mattress beside him and a hand lands on his knee.

 

“Good boy,” Barnes murmurs. Steve sucks in a breath. “Here’s what’s going to happen. Depending on how tonight goes, I might have you quit working for Brass Fang.”

 

Steve jerks his eyebrows up, but he still doesn’t move.

 

“How are you with commands?”

 

“If you’re planning to use your Alpha voice,” Steve snaps, “I’m leaving.”

 

He is definitely not into having his choice in anything being taken away from him by some dick who thinks that, by nature of being an Alpha, he can bend any Omega to his will. Steve doesn’t even know why the Alpha voice exists, because the only time he’s ever seen it used or had it used on him, it was to force someone to do something they didn’t want to.

 

“Not what I meant.”

 

Barnes’s hand pushes up his leg. Steve feels it cup his crotch, then drift up to slide under his shirt. A thumb brushes the piercing in his navel.

 

“How are you at obedience?”

 

“Fucking terrible,” Steve answers.

 

“Look at me.”

 

Steve sits up before he even realizes what he’s doing. Barnes pulls the hand from his stomach and cups his jaw. He looks at his mouth, not his eyes.

 

“You seem alright with it,” Barnes remarks. Steve feels a hot flush appear on his neck. “Now, how are you with submission?”

 

Steve lifts his chin, but Barnes clucks his tongue disappointedly. Steve swallows, remembering what had happened the last time Barnes tutted at someone, but Barnes only grips his jaw and pulls him forward, so that Steve has to throw his hands out and catch himself from falling onto the bed.

 

“You gotta submit in your head, doll,” Barnes warns him.

 

“I can do that,” Steve mutters. He hadn’t realized that that was what Barnes wanted, but he can do that no problem.

 

Barnes tilts his head, but he’s still looking at his mouth. “We’ll see,” he says.

 

He drops his chin and Steve tips forward a little, but catches himself on the bed as Barnes rises to his feet. Barnes’s fingers go to his fly and Steve already knows what’s about to happen.

 

“Do you have a safe word?” Barnes asks, releasing his belt.

 

“Nope,” Steve answers simply; he doesn't need one, not in his line of work.

 

“I’ll have to talk with Rollins about how to treat his employees,” Barnes says with a sigh. “If you can talk, say Brooklyn to stop or Jersey to slow down. If you can’t, tap your hand three times. Hear?”

 

“I hear,” Steve answers.

 

He’s not looking Barnes in the eye, either. He sweeps his tongue over his lips, already anticipating what’s about to happen. He’s seen the pull of Barnes’s clothes over his body, the ropes of his biceps, and no man who’s that built has anything but something mouthwatering in his drawers. It just wouldn’t be proportional.

 

Barnes’s hand stills on his fly. Then he reaches out and cups Steve’s cheek, humming the way he does when he’s thinking.

 

“You like sucking cock, don’t you?” he says casually.

 

“Love it,” Steve answers.

 

Barnes zips his fly again and Steve lets out a little breath of disappointment. “We’ll save that for later, then. Stand up.”

 

Steve pouts, but climbs off the bed. Barnes, instead, sits on it and lies down, tucking his arms behind his head. He nods to Steve, to his body.

 

“Put on a show for me,” he says. “And maybe when you’re done, I’ll let you suck my cock.”

 

“Shouldn’t I be in your lap for this?” Steve asks, lifting a let to unlace his boot without looking to show off his balance.

 

Barnes hums once more. “Nah,” he says, dropping a hand onto his thigh. “We’ll get there.”

 

Steve makes a disgruntled face and Barnes raises his eyebrows. “Don’t talk back to me,” he says.

 

“I didn’t say anything!” Steve claims.

 

“You were thinking it,” Barnes says. Then he snaps his fingers. “Go on.”

 

Steve tugs off his boot and sock at the same time, then switches legs. “What do I call you?” he says. There’s not really a way he can make taking his shoes off sexy, anyway. “Other than just Barnes.”

 

“What do you want to call me?” Barnes counters.

 

“James?” Steve suggests.

 

“Don’t call me James,” Barnes says with a downward lilt to his lips. “My name’s Bucky.”

 

“Bucky,” Steve repeats carefully, rounding out the whole word and letting his voice turn breathy. “Bucky… Bit of a mouthful. I might have trouble getting it out when you’re fucking me through the mattress.”

 

Bucky’s eyes darken and Steve grins. He kicks aside his boots and steps back, farther out of Bucky’s reach, to bend at the waist and run his hands up his own legs. He straightens slowly, pushing his palms up his sides to drag the hem of his shirt up and expose his navel, but lets the shirt fall again to run his palms over his neck and into his hair. He’s putting on a show, after all.

 

“What about sir? ” Steve suggests. “Since you seem to like ordering me around.”

 

“You can call me that,” Bucky agrees, his tone unaffected but a tent steadily pitching itself in his pants. Steve smiles, pleased. “Get a move on.”

 

“I’m putting on a show, aren’t I?” Steve says, then turns around, putting his back to Bucky. He grips the back of his shirt by the neck and pulls it up, slowly, dragging it over his back. He glances over his shoulder and finds Bucky pressing his palm to the front of his slacks, then looks away again with a grin. Steve lifts the shirt over his head, revealing a black lace bralette. He hasn’t got any chest to fill it out, he’s no girl, but it’s usually a nice surprise for his clients to find him in. He hadn’t been sure what sort of things Barnes would be into, so he isn’t wearing matching panties under his jeans, just a simple pair of black briefs.

 

“Am I doing good?” he asks over his shoulders. He drops the shirt onto the ground and runs his palms back down his sides to push them into the back pockets of his jeans.

 

“So far,” Bucky answers casually.

 

Steve gives a thoughtful hum, then pushes down on the back of his jeans so that the waistband of his underwear is exposed, before pulling his hands away to turn around again.

 

Now Bucky’s unzipped his fly. Steve gives a grin, catching the strap of the bralette with a thumb and tugging on it, letting it snap back a second later. “Hey there, handsome,” he purrs, not looking at Bucky’s face. “Seems like I’m doing great to me, sir.”

 

“Yet you’re still dressed,” Bucky complains with a flick of his wrist. He raises his eyebrows and waves with his other hand for Steve to hurry up. Steve only smiles and drops a hand to hook a thumb through a belt loop. He tugs down, revealing the jut of his hips, then reaches for the snap of his jeans.

 

“Is it a show if I just take it all off right away?” he questions, thumbing the button open.

 

“Maybe I’ve changed my mind,” Bucky says.

 

Steve steps back. “Nope. I’m putting on a show, here. Just sit back and watch.”

The something predatory flashes in Bucky’s eyes and Steve grins in response. He grips the zipper of his fly, then tugs it down tooth by tooth, and once it’s released, he lets it hang open to push his palms back up his stomach, tucking his fingers under the bralette. Bucky begins to move his hand faster and Steve slows. Bucky gives a soft growl, but it only makes Steve grin wider and inch the bralette up slower. Just before the hem reaches his nipples, Steve drops his hands to his jeans again.

 

“You’re going to come before I even get my mouth on you if you don’t slow down,” Steve says, and Bucky speeds his hand up anyway. “Oh, don’t be like that. Don’t you want to come on my face?”

 

“You’re not gonna get it if you don’t get naked,” Bucky warns.

 

Steve flicks his eyebrows up, then pushes his jeans down an inch. “Isn’t this about what you want? Don’t you want my mouth on you? Don’t you want to see if I exceed your expectations?”

 

“You’ve already exceeded them,” Bucky says, and Steve beams instantly. “But now you’re making me impatient. Strip and get on your knees.”

 

Steve grins wider, because that’s exactly what he wanted to happen, and shoves both his jeans and his briefs off his legs. Bucky stands up as Steve yanks the bralette over his head and finally drops to his knees. Bucky pushes a hand into his hair and Steve licks his lips, not looking Barnes in the face, his mouth watering. He was definitely right about Bucky’s proportions.

 

“Do I need a condom for you to blow me?” Bucky asks calmly.

 

“My mouth is clean,” Steve answers, then raises an eyebrow. “Are you?”

 

“I’m clean,” Bucky says, then starts twisting Steve’s hair around his fingers. “If you want, you can see my last tests.”

 

Steve hums, then tilts his head to the side and gives him a once-over, now looking with a critical eye and not an appreciative one. Sure, there are plenty of diseases that he won’t be able to detect on sight alone, but he’s gotten pretty good at spotting external symptoms on the more common ones. With typical clients, he always requires a condom no matter what they're doing, but Barnes is not a typical client. Besides, Barnes doesn’t have any reason to lie to him about this sort of thing.

 

“I’ll have to insist you use a condom when you fuck me,” Steve tells him, “but I don’t think you need one now.”

 

“I wasn’t planning on fucking you without a condom,” Bucky replies flatly. “How are you with hair pulling?”

 

“Right into it, huh?” Steve says, grinning up at him. “Yank all you like.”

 

“Do you enjoy it?” Bucky counters.

 

“If you’re not half-assing it,” Steve answers.

 

Bucky raises his eyebrows, then he slowly and deliberately tightens his grip on Steve’s hair.

 

“You don’t do so well with obeying,” he remarks. Steve looks up at him through his lashes and pointedly parts his lips, but Bucky doesn’t let him get what he wants just yet. “But funny enough, that’s what I like.”

 

He presses forward and Steve’s eyes shut on instinct as he moans around the new weight, rich and warm taste on his tongue. If Barnes looks good, then he tastes even better. Bucky’s hand tightens steadily in his hair, almost enough to hurt, and enough to control how this happens.

 

“I like breaking down stubbornness,” Bucky says, and his tone is still so steady, so level, as if Steve isn’t swallowing him whole. “It makes the submittal so much sweeter, y’know?”

 

Steve only moans, his mouth too full to speak.

 

“So, here’s what I want from you,” Bucky goes on, pulling Steve’s head back before shoving his face farther in. Steve’s nose presses into the line of his hip under his slacks and the sudden restriction of oxygen only makes him want this more. “I want someone to keep my lap warm when I want it, but I’m not interested in working on a relationship. I don’t have time and frankly, I don’t have the patience for it. I don’t give a shit about Brass Fang. I want you.”

 

Steve’s toes curl and he reaches for himself on instinct. That Barnes sought him out, inserted himself into the business of another gang just to get to him, that’s fucking hot.

 

“None of that,” Bucky says too easily. Steve half whines, the noise dispersed by the obstruction of his mouth. “Rule one. You don’t touch yourself unless I say so.”

 

Steve is way too into this. He grabs the front of Bucky’s slacks, digging his nails like bloody claws into the expensive fabric just to keep them still.

 

“Rule two, you don’t come unless I say so.”

 

Steve’s played around with orgasm denial before and he has a love/hate relationship with it. The thought of Bucky commanding him to come, though, that sends a thrill down his spine.

 

“Tap your hand on my thigh once if you’re fine with that, twice if you’re not.”

 

Steve raises his hand taps Barnes’s thigh once, then digs his nails into his leg.

 

Barnes pulls on his hair again and Steve follows his lead, sucking in air before Barnes reels him back in.

 

“Tap your hand once if this is fine,” Barnes adds, as though an afterthought.

 

Steve taps his hand once enthusiastically.

 

“Good,” Barnes says, and Steve doesn’t hold back the groan he makes at the praise. “You’re being such a good boy, here, Stevie. You want me to come all over your face? You want to lick it up, like a little slut?”

 

Steve taps his hand again, raising both to frame Bucky’s hips and dig his nails, the color of oxygenated blood, into his thighs.

 

“Are you fine if I call you a slut?”

 

Steve taps his hand again. Barnes shoves his face in farther and Steve drinks in a breath through his nose, taking in Bucky’s scent and getting dizzy from it while he can.

 

“Good,” Barnes repeats, and now his tone turns to the molten chocolate Steve was craving. “You got one hell of a mouth on you, baby. I’m liking that tongue piercing.”

 

Steve intentionally curls his tongue and Barnes lets out a quiet exhale as the metal scraps his skin. Steve is practically purring when he ought to be breathing.

 

“You take cock like you were born for it,” Barnes says, and his other hand reaches out to brush the crest of Steve’s cheek. “I hope you cleaned yourself well before you came over. Next time, I want you to come wearing a plug so I don’t have to prep you at all.”

 

Steve nods, to both statements, and he’s already clenching down on nothing but the thought of walking into Bucky’s penthouse ready for him to just slide home.

 

“Very good, baby,” Bucky praises lightly, then lifts his head to cant his hips into Steve’s mouth, a smile finally curling his lip. “This is easier than I’d thought it’d be. You’re not known for your compliance.”

 

Steve only hums and digs his nose into the line of Bucky’s torso, because he is right, Steve normally spends more time teasing his clients. But Bucky’s got the best cock he’s ever laid eyes on or gotten his mouth on, and to be honest, Steve hasn’t got the patience to tease either. He wants this, has wanted it since the moment Barnes strode into Brass Fang’s illegal bare-knuckle brawl, and he wants it bad.

 

“That’s why I picked you,” Bucky says, his voice getting rougher and Steve’s loving this. “I thought you’d be hard to get.”

 

Steve looks up and Bucky tightens his grip.

 

“It’s not a bad thing,” he promises, lip curling at the corner. “Like I said, you take cock like a champ.”

 

He thrusts hard into Steve’s mouth, Steve half chokes and just swallows deeper, then Bucky yanks out and does just what Steve asked for. He comes hard over Steve’s face.

 

Bucky drops his hand to caress his cheek and Steve licks his lips clean. Bucky smiles, predatory, then scoops come off Steve's cheek and holds it to his lips. Steve licks it clean, too.

 

“Are you likin’ your reward, baby?” Bucky asks, and his voice sounds absolutely fucked.

 

“Thrilled,” Steve says. His voice sounds just as bad. And he is thrilled; the wrecked lilt to James Barnes’s voice, a blissful tone that Steve put there, is adrenaline-inducing. Barnes is known to be a hard man to please, and there’s nothing Steve enjoys more than a challenge.

 

“Very good, Stevie,” Bucky says, almost a purr himself, then grasps his jaw and pulls up. Steve stands, closing his eyes, and Bucky crashes their lips together harshly. Bucky forces his tongue into Steve’s mouth, fucks his mouth again with it, and leaves Steve trembling at the knees.

 

His asscheeks are wet with slick, and when Bucky pulls back, his eyes shut and he inhales sharply, as though to relish the scent of Steve’s arousal. Steve’s head is spinning. Bucky grasps him by the hips, lifts him easily off the ground, then turns him around and tosses him onto the bed. Steve lifts his arms over his head, raising a knee and letting his other leg fall off the edge of the bed, and grins while Bucky begins to slip free the buttons of his shirt.

 

“Get that smug look off your face,” Bucky orders, undoing his buttons slowly, teasing Steve with the stretch of his undershirt over his chest.

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve answers, yet he’s still grinning.

 

Bucky flicks an eyebrow upward, unimpressed, but Steve can see the effect he’s having on him already. Again.

 

“Thought you were an old man?” Steve says, looking pointedly not at Bucky’s face. “Didn’t know old men could get hard again so fast.”

 

“I’m thirty-eight,” Bucky replies blithely.

 

Steve mimicks him, and tuts disappointedly. “That is old. That’s a whole fifteen years older than me.”

 

Bucky quits unbuttoning his shirt. “How old are you?” he asks, and Steve pouts because there’s no heat to it.

 

“Twenty-three,” he answers. “Honest.”

 

“Twenty-three,” Bucky repeats, then abruptly he’s scowling. “You been on Brass Fang’s payroll at least five years. You started working with them at eighteen?”

 

“Seventeen,” Steve corrects. Bucky’s scowl goes from annoyed to pissed and Steve sits up. “What?”

 

“You’re fucking telling me John Garrett was hiring underage Omegas?” Bucky demands.

 

“I was almost eighteen,” Steve says to answer, rolling his eyes, even though it’s not very true, he was five months short of eighteen, and it was less that Garrett hired him than brought him into the fold. “It’s not a big deal –”

 

“That is a massive deal,” Bucky interrupts, snarling. Steve sits back, leaning on his elbows, and tries to work out if he should try to calm Barnes down or just let him rant for a minute. “Tell me Rumlow wasn’t hiring kids. Tell me Rollins isn’t keeping kids.”

 

“I don’t know,” Steve says, now getting annoyed himself because he thought he was about to get thoroughly dicked and he’s currently not even remotely being touched. “We don’t talk our ages, ‘specially if we’re underage.”

 

He sits up and hooks a finger into a gap between buttons in Bucky’s shirt. “Rant later. Fuck me now.”

 

Bucky still looks pissed, so Steve falls back, yanking on his shirt, and causes him to stumble, off balance, and catch himself on the bed. Now he still looks pissed, but in a different way. He ducks his head and kisses him, hard and merciless, while Steve curls his arms around the back of his neck and lifts his knees past his hips. Bucky yanks their lips apart and mouths down his neck, biting along the way. He’s not even out of his clothes yet.

 

“Now you’re in trouble,” Bucky growls.

 

“I’m into that,” Steve mutters.

 

Bucky bites into his shoulder and Steve yelps, but it’s quickly turned into a moan.

 

“What are you not into?” Bucky asks. He sits up abruptly, settling back on his calves and setting his hands to span Steve’s waist.

 

“Alpha voices,” Steve answers immediately.

 

Bucky scowls again. “I’m going to have to discuss many things with Rollins about how to treat his employees.”

 

“And complaining about my boss,” Steve adds flippantly. “Not sexy.”

 

Bucky’s expression doesn’t change. He pushes his palms up to cup Steve’s chest and Steve arcs into the touch, throwing his head back. Bucky runs his hands down over his waist and hips, to his thighs and around his knees to push back up, as if he’s trying to map out the topography of Steve’s body.

 

“You shave your legs, doll?” Bucky asks, his fingers having found the skin of his legs smooth.

 

“Wax. You try wearing nylons with hairy legs,” Steve answers. “Pain in the ass.”

 

Bucky’s lip curls at one corner. “I think I like you this way.”

 

“I’ll keep doing it,” Steve says. Waxing his legs is a pain in the ass, but he loves the smooth glide of Bucky’s palms over his skin.

 

“What are you not willing to do?” Bucky asks then.

 

“Blindfolds,” Steve says, swallowing after he says it to push down the shudder at just thinking about it. “Claustrophobic.”

 

Bucky drops abruptly, trapping Steve between his forearms to loom over him. “This okay?”

 

“Sure,” Steve mumbles. “It’s the dark that I don’t like.”

 

Bucky gives a nod, then leans on one arm to touch him again, palm pressing flat to his flushed skin. “Temperatures?” he asks.

 

“What about ‘em?”

 

“Ice, wax, that sort of thing,” Bucky explains.

 

“Oh,” Steve mumbles. Bucky pinches a nipple between his thumb and forefinger and Steve gasps. “I don’t know. Haven’t done that.”

 

“We’ll see then,” Bucky says. His tone is bored once again, unimpressed, disinterested. Steve’s into it. “Pain?”

 

“You can spank me,” Steve offers, “but only with your hand, no paddles.”

 

Bucky raises an eyebrow. “Do you like it?” he asks flatly.

 

Steve shrugs. “If I deserve it.”

 

Bucky flicks up the other eyebrow. “Do you plan to deserve it?”

 

Steve grins and Bucky looks unimpressed down at him.

 

“If I want to,” Steve says gleefully, and Bucky pinches his nipple harder. Steve sucks in a breath, his smile growing, and Bucky hums thoughtfully.

 

He bends his mouth over Steve’s chest and closes his lips over his other nipple. Steve exhales a lewd sound as Bucky bites down lightly.

 

“You like this,” Bucky says, all in that thoughtful, vaguely disinterested tone. “Good to know.”

 

“Thought I was supposed to be pleasing you?” Steve whispers, but he doesn’t give a shit anymore. He’s had Bucky’s cock in his mouth and now he wants it in his ass; he doesn’t care how Bucky goes about getting there.

 

“This is pleasing me,” Bucky says matter-of-factly. “I’m going to make you writhe until you’re begging, then I’m going to jerk off onto your chest.”

 

“Hey, I thought you were gonna fuck me?” Steve whines. 

 

Bucky tuts faintly. “Good boys get what they want,” he says and Steve feels his entire body shiver at his phrasing. “Little shits don’t get to come,” Bucky concludes.

 

“Kinky,” Steve says, because he’s a little shit.

 

Bucky’s face is impassive as he sits up once more. He flicks the buttons of his shirt open, then tugs the tails from his slacks and tosses it aside. Steve props himself up on his elbows, watching Bucky's muscles flex through his undershirt, then Bucky yanks that over his head and it goes the same way as the dress shirt. Steve flat out whimpers.

 

Bucky smirks and flexes intentionally; his biceps bulge and his pecs pop, his abs tighten and veins show in his forearms. Steve reaches out to touch, but Bucky grabs his hands and pins them above his head.

 

“What’d I say?” he growls. “You don’t get what you want until you obey.”

 

“Don’t sinners have more fun?” Steve asks breathily. He wants to get his mouth on Bucky’s abs. He wants to lick the sweat from the crevices of his eight pack. Bucky is fucking ripped on top of being hung like a horse.

 

Bucky raises an eyebrow. He’s still unimpressed. Steve is still a sucker for a challenge.

 

So he writhes a little under him, hooking his legs over Bucky’s thighs and lifting his hips towards Bucky’s still open fly. Bucky changes his grip, pins his wrists with one hand, then grabs him by the hip and yanks him forward. Steve moans again, louder than necessary, pushing his ass as far against him as possible. Bucky wants him to writhe, he’ll writhe.

 

Yet Bucky doesn’t seem affected by Steve’s performance. He palms the top of his thigh, shifting his hand in, then presses a finger into the wet mess between his legs. Steve lets out a more genuine gasp, and Bucky teases him for an agonizingly long moment before slowly pushing in.

 

“You’re very good at putting on a show,” Bucky announces. “But I’m not interested in false efforts, doll.”

 

“Does it feel false?” Steve asks, pressing into his hand. With some difficulty. He meant it when he said it might be hard for him to get the whole word Bucky out when he’s got something up his ass. His brain starts short-circuiting and consonants become difficult.

 

Bucky rolls his finger and Steve pushes against him again. “No, but the body can do one thing while the head does another. You’re going to have to mean it, sweet thing.”

 

Bucky adds another finger before Steve can try and work out what he means by mean it.

 

“What else are you not willing to do?”

 

“Think when you’re fingering me,” Steve spits out. Bucky crooks a finger and he gasps, throwing his head back into the bed to swear loudly. Bucky lets go of his wrists and his flat palm slides up to his exposed throat.

 

“This okay?” Bucky asks. For once, he sounds like he cares about Steve’s answer.

 

Steve swallows and feels it where Bucky’s palm presses to his throat. “Yes,” he whispers.

 

Bucky’s fingers close over his throat, not squeezing, just holding. Steve’s breath is punching in and out of his lungs, his heart is kicking well over a hundred beats per minute, and he’s never felt more alive.

 

Bucky hasn’t even added a third finger.

 

“This is what I mean, Stevie,” Bucky says, and his tone has gone unconcerned again. He squeezes his fingertips, not putting pressure on his airway, but giving the illusion of it. “Surrender.”

 

Steve swallows again, feeling like his tongue is too heavy in the back of his mouth, and Bucky’s lips curl predatorily. He is a shrew under the eye of a raven, and by now, Steve has figured out how he feels about it.

 

He likes it.

 

“When I ask you a question, I want an answer,” Bucky tells him, a touch of command entering his tone. Not an Alpha tone, not requiring Steve be bent to his will. An order, with an underlying promise of reward.

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve whispers. He likes rewards.

 

Bucky’s predatory smile grows. “If I want to tie you up with ropes, will you be fine with it?”

 

“Dunno,” Steve says. “Haven’t tried that, either.”

 

“What about cuffs?” Bucky questions.

 

Steve shrugs. “Used ‘em on someone else before," he says. "Not on me.”

 

“What about danger play?” Bucky presses.

 

Bucky carefully squeezes his throat again, but at the same time inserts a third finger to press directly onto a good spot. Steve jolts and gasps, lifting his body off the bed, and Bucky holds him down by his throat.

 

“If this is it, then fuck yes,” Steve says, twice as clearly as he would have expected.

 

“Hmm, not quite," Bucky answers. "But I’ll keep this in mind.”

 

His fingers further their reach, going knuckle-deep, and it’s amazing but not enough.

 

“Please,” Steve gasps, “please – just – more –”

 

“More what?”

 

More,” Steve breathes.

 

Bucky crooks his fingers once more, tapping deep and Steve sighs another exhale of more.

 

“Do you see what I meant?” Bucky asks. Steve loves the put-together aura of his calm tone and the contrast of the heavy, hot weight between his legs where they rest on Bucky’s thighs. “You’re already begging.”

 

“God,” Steve exhales, “you’re – I can’t – I need –”

 

“No,” Bucky cuts him off, “you don’t need anything. You want it.”

 

“Gimme another, please, I need –”

 

Bucky shifts and Steve feels the heavy weight pressing closer. He whines, low and desperate, and tries to push into it, but Bucky doesn’t remove his fingers or release his throat.

 

“I asked you a question, doll,” Bucky says.

 

Steve swallows and tries to think.

 

“I’m not repeating myself,” Bucky adds. He presses in deeper and Steve can’t think. “What’d I ask?”

 

“I –" Steve starts, but he can't think back. "I don' know –”

 

Bucky clucks his tongue in disappointment. Then, making Steve gasp, he removes a finger.

 

“No," Steve gasps, startled and confused, "no, please, I need –”

 

“You don’t need anything,” Bucky snaps. Now only two fingers crook and Steve’s definitely and genuinely writhing. “What did I ask you?”

 

Steve whimpers low, in a way that Alphas usually can’t resist, but Bucky doesn’t give him what he wants. He even slows his fingers, taking sensation from him and Steve’s breath hitches on the lack of it.

 

“I don’t remember,” Steve mumbles, “please –”

 

Bucky sighs again, and removes another finger. Steve realizes that his eyes are closed but can’t bring himself to open them again, and with Bucky’s index finger still pushing deeper, he feels like he’s gaping and dripping.

 

“Do you understand what I meant about surrender?” Bucky says.

 

“No,” Steve says, then adds a half-hearted: “Fuck you.”

 

Bucky grips his throat again, and yanks the only finger remaining free. Steve’s eyes fly open as he clenches down on nothing and gasps, but Bucky’s throwing his legs to the bed and rising up to tower over him.

 

“I said I’d get you writhing and begging,” Bucky snaps, “and then I’d jerk off over your chest.”

 

“Please,” Steve begs, hoping it’ll get Bucky’s fingers back, but Bucky keeps his hand to himself.

 

He grabs him by the jaw, forcing him to look him in the eye, and abruptly Steve realizes that he loves being prey under Bucky's predatory eyes. Bucky hovers over him, shadow encompassing him, holds his jaw in place so Steve can’t even look down and watch. All he can do is lie there and beg, but Bucky never touches him but to hold him by the jaw, listening to it and drinking in the tell-tale, heady scent of an Alpha rising to orgasm.

 

Steve writhes, like Bucky had wanted, but never gets what he wants. Bucky never looks away from him and it’s honestly the most erotic thing that Steve’s ever done, and he’s been in this business for six years and counting.

 

Then Bucky drops him and straightens up completely, his eyes glaze over and Steve can watch now, watch as his pleasure comes to a head and explodes. Bucky makes a mess of his chest and Steve jerks, sensitive still from the deprivation of stimulation. He half lifts his hands and Bucky drops to grab his wrists, holding them firmly above his head.

 

“That’s two for me,” Bucky says, and he’s grinning now. Full on grinning, something that makes Steve think of a wolf more than a raven, icy eyes and teeth bared to salivate with hunger, and he wonders if that makes Bucky’s next meal any different. “See how this is about me, now?” Bucky asks him.

 

Steve can hardly breathe, and Bucky’s let go of his throat already.

 

“I want you to be mine to use,” Bucky tells him. “When I see fit. When you please me, you’ll be rewarded.”

 

Steve stops the squirming he didn’t even realize he was doing. That sentence has more gravity to it than Steve would have anticipated.

 

“Are you asking me to be your sub?” he asks.

 

Bucky tilts his head to the side. “That’s a good word for it.”

 

“Are you asking me?” Steve repeats carefully.

 

Bucky’s expression becomes impassive once more. Steve isn’t thinking much about getting fucked anymore, because being somebody’s submissive is a bit more than devoting a Friday night to someone else’s pleasure, and Barnes has the power here. He isn’t sure if it would be safe for him to say no. Neither is he sure if he even wants to.

 

“Of course I’m fucking asking,” Bucky abruptly snarls and sits up. Steve starts a little, confused again. “Why the fuck wouldn’t I ask –”

 

“You’re James Barnes,” Steve interrupts. He stays where he is, sprawled under Bucky’s gaze, still and submissive like he wants.

 

“You can walk out any second you want,” Bucky snaps. “You do not have to do a single fucking thing you don’t want to. Where the fuck did you get the idea that you have to do something you’re uncomfor–”

 

He breaks off. His expressions settles from mad to murderous, but Steve gets the feeling that it’s not aimed at him at all.

 

“Brass Fang doesn’t set boundaries,” Bucky murmurs, as though he's realizing something horrifying. “You don’t have safe words. Guys use their Alpha tones on you. Have people blindfolded you even though you didn’t want them to?”

 

“Yeah,” Steve answers shortly, not getting into details of it. Bucky sets his jaw and gets off the bed. “Hey, c’mon, seriously, I don’t like being ignored!”

 

Bucky zips up his slacks and when Steve scrambles to his knees on the bed, Bucky grabs him by the waist and hauls him in for a harsh kiss.

 

“You want out, walk out whenever you want,” Bucky says firmly. “My driver will take you home and you’ll never hear from me again. I’m not interested in forced consent.”

 

“I am consenting enthusiastically,” Steve insists. “Did I once indicate that I was not up for whatever you wanted from me? I’m only – I don’t know if I wanna be your sub, is all.”

 

“Yeah, I see that,” Bucky retorts. He pushes Steve back onto the bed, then holds out a warning finger. “Wait here.”

 

“Are you going to fuck me or not?” Steve demands as Bucky storms out.

 

“Wait!” Bucky snaps over his shoulder. He slams the door. Steve falls back onto his elbows, staring at the door in complete and utter disbelief. He’d been on his way to what was proving to be some fantastic sex, he hadn’t even been gotten off once and he’s still splattered by Bucky’s cum, and now he’s being made to wait again.

 

Bucky isn’t the only one pissed. Steve hates being ignored.

 

A minute later, he hears a raised, angry voice in the other room. He’s tempted to touch himself, to get himself off while Bucky’s off playing mafia.

 

“...I don’t care, wake ‘im up, I want those books now!”

 

Steve trails a hand down his chest, glaring sullenly at the closed door. Bucky is shouting now.

 

“Get them on something! Fuck, get them on underage solicitation of Omegas, I got a kid here who’s been working the street since he was seventeen!”

 

Steve slows, then stills. He gets up and crosses to the door, opening it a crack.

 

“No, I’m not – I’m putting him on a witness stand!”

 

Steve doesn’t know what’s going on and he isn’t sure he likes this, either.

 

“Fine, drug charges, whatever, I want them off my streets!”

 

He hears a phone slam. Then the impact of something getting kicked and Steve hastens away from the door, jumping back onto the bed and lying back the way Bucky left him just as Bucky bangs the bedroom door back open.

 

“Did you get forced to come here?” Bucky demands.

 

“No,” Steve replies sharply. “I’m not a scared kid, Barnes; I've been working the streets for six years now.”

 

Bucky has his hands on his hips, breathing hard. He isn’t looking at Steve at all.

 

“If you’re going to give me rules, then I’m giving you rules,” Steve snaps.

 

Bucky jerks his gaze to him.

 

“I don’t like being ignored,” Steve says for the fourth time, in a firm and unforgiving tone. “And if you’re going to start somethin’, you’d better finish it. Hear?”

 

Bucky works his jaw, looking murderous still. Steve raises his eyebrows pointedly, then lies back on Bucky’s pillows and lays his legs open on the bed, an invitation.

 

“You get rules,” Bucky snaps. “That’s the whole fucking point of a relationship. Communication, consent, rules.”

 

“You said you didn’t want a relationship,” Steve argues. Bucky looks murderous still, but Steve is pissed.

 

“I said I didn’t want to work on a relationship,” Bucky barks and strides forward. He grabs Steve’s ankles and yanks forward, pulling him down the duvet until his legs are hanging off the mattress. “If I just wanted sex, I would’ve just paid you for your time! I don’t have the time to court an Omega, I want someone to come home to, anyway!”

 

Steve blinks.

 

“You're full of surprises,” he mutters vaguely.

 

Bucky glares down at him, settling his palms on either side of his head. “I said I wanted you,” he growls. “I meant I wanted you to keep me company. But I’m not taking you if you think you don’t have a say in the matter.”

 

“I wanted you the second I saw you in that warehouse,” Steve snaps. “Fucking take me already.”

 

Bucky kisses him again, only now it’s slow as well as rough. Steve grabs Bucky’s hair and parts his knees over Bucky’s thighs, no longer in the mood to play games. He’d been all but promised fantastic sex and he wants it.

 

“Get on your knees, ass up,” Bucky says into his mouth.

 

Bucky releases him and Steve flips over. He stretches his arms forward and pushes his ass into Bucky’s hands, arching his back when Bucky pushes a palm down his spine.

 

“You can decide whenever you want if you want to be mine,” Bucky says above him. “You’ve been patient and put up with my temper, so you’re gonna get what you want tonight. Sound good?”

 

“Fucking excellent,” Steve sighs.

 

“I’m going to take my time. I still want to enjoy myself.”

 

“Fine,” he agrees easily.

 

Bucky’s hands return to his ass and grip his cheeks, kneading firmly. Steve presses into the touch.

 

“How thoroughly did you clean yourself before you came over?” Bucky asks.

 

“Used a douche,” Steve says. “Case you wanted a taste.”

 

“Read my mind,” Bucky murmurs, voice gentler than it had been the entire night.

 

Steve gasps and then moans at the touch of Bucky’s tongue, clenching his fists on the blanket, and Bucky growls into him. His hands dig into Steve’s ass, too gentle to hurt or even bruise lightly, but yet it holds him in place, holds him at Bucky’s mercy. Steve digs his own nails into the duvet, resisting the urge to touch himself and make this even better. After all, if he’s going to hold Bucky to his rules, then he’ll have to respect Bucky’s. So he lets his nails bite into the duvet, presses into Bucky’s face and moans, into the stretch and the burn of his unshaven jaw, back to writhing and begging wordlessly within minutes.

 

“Do you want to come from this?” Bucky asks him, voice fucked again and Steve loves it. “Or do you want my cock?”

 

It’s hard to decide. Both are excellent options; Steve adores having his ass eaten out almost as much as he loves getting fucked like this.

 

Bucky squeezes his ass. “Hurry up and decide, or I’m gonna get impatient again.”

 

“I want your cock,” Steve forces out. He balls his fists into the blankets, squirming under Bucky’s hands, and he wants to get wrecked. He says so, and Bucky chuckles darkly.

 

“I can do that, baby,” he promises. “Think you’re loose enough now or do you need to get opened up some more?”

 

“I want it now,,” Steve demands.

 

“That’s not what I asked," Bucky insists. "Are you loose enough now or do you need more prep?”

 

As if to prove his point, Bucky trails his fingers up Steve’s thigh and presses two into him. Steve’s eyes fall shut, his breath fleeing his lungs; the stretch is delicious, just on the pleasurable side of too much, just on the unsatisfying side of not enough.

 

“I think you need another minute to loosen up,” Bucky says. His tone has gone level again and Steve can’t believe how fucking sexy he finds Bucky’s vocal indifference, when he can feel the tent in Bucky’s slacks against his thigh. “You feel like a virgin, baby.”

 

“Been years since I got rid of that,” Steve mumbles.

 

“Really?" Bucky asks, tone casual. "Are you just always this tight?”

 

Bucky adds another finger and Steve can only mumble a high pitched uh-huh in answer.

 

“Good to know,” Bucky repeats, like Steve’s telling him about a change in his turf or a shift in mortgage rates. “I can look forward to popping your cherry every time I fuck you.”

 

Steve groans into the mattress. Bucky twists his fingers, a considering hum reaching Steve’s ears, then he adds his pinky and Steve presses his face into the blanket, muffling his loud groan at the stretch.

 

“Lift your head up, baby,” Bucky instructs. “Let me hear you.”

 

Steve picks his face up and drops it onto his forearm. Bucky twists his whole hand and Steve doesn’t muffle the sound that wrenches itself from his throat.

 

“Good,” Bucky purrs, and Steve only moans again. “Look at you. You could probably take my whole fist.”

 

“I want your cock,” Steve spits out.

 

“You want my cock, what?” Bucky pushes him.

 

Bucky slows his hand and Steve swears.

 

“What did you want to call me?” Bucky prompts casually.

 

Steve’s heart, already doing a hundred and sixty, skips a beat.

 

Sir, ” Steve sighs. He’d been joking, but exhaling sir actually has him shuddering in anticipation. “I want your cock, sir.

 

“Good boy,” Bucky praises. He pumps his hand once more, then Steve hears a zipper. A foil packet, the sound of a condom being rolled on. He presses back and Bucky catches his hip, squeezing lightly. “You’re doing so good, baby. You’re gonna get what you want tonight.”

 

Steve cries aloud, Bucky exhales forcefully. Steve half sighs, half moans, and Bucky is still pressing in.

 

“Fuckin’ tight, Stevie,” Bucky growls.

 

“Fuckin’ massive, sir,” Steve slurs. He’s slurring already. Fuck, Bucky hasn’t even started properly yet and he’s losing brain power.

 

Bucky laughs somewhere behind him. Steve half lifts his head off the bed, then cradles it in his arms, his mouth hanging open as Bucky starts out slow. Steve tries to shift, to encourage him to move faster, but Bucky grabs his hips with both hands and holds on tight. Then he yanks Steve backward, his knees almost slipping off the bed, and Steve cries aloud, his vision sparking as Bucky hits a good spot.

 

“There you go,” Bucky says, voice dropping to a purr again, “there’s your G-spot.”

 

“I ain’t a girl,” Steve mumbles.

 

“Is it your sweet spot?” Bucky asks, then nails it again. Steve gasps and presses his forehead down, saliva pooling in gaps between his teeth while his mouth hangs open. “Are you gonna come if I keep hitting it?”

 

Steve only moans.

 

“I asked you a question, baby boy.”

 

“Yes!” he gasps, and fuck, does that name make his toes curl and his eyes roll back.

 

“Yes, what?”

 

“Yes, sir!” Steve gasps out, and, ooh, does that hit the spot. “Yes, sir, oh, yessir –”

 

Bucky hits it again, and again, and again, and Steve’s vision is blacking out.

 

“You wanna come, baby?”

 

“Yessir!” Steve forces out.

 

“Think you’ve earned it yet?” Bucky growls. He’s slamming in and out, hitting that one spot over and over, and Steve’s going to climax whether he’s earned it or not.

 

“I’m gonna come,” he whimpers, “I’m gonna come, sir, I’m gonna –”

 

“What’s rule number two, Stevie?” Bucky asks, tone casual, calm, indifferent, like he’s not making Steve see stars. “Rule number two, baby. What is it?”

 

“Don’t come unless you say so,” Steve says.

 

“Have I said you can come?” Bucky asks. He won’t let up and Steve’s realizing that this time it’s up to him to deny himself his own orgasm.

 

“No, sir,” Steve says, then whimpers, gasps, clenching his fists on the blankets, his nails like oxygenated blood cutting into Bucky’s duvet that’s probably worth every manicure Steve’s ever had in his life and then some. He’s so fucking close and Bucky isn’t letting up.

 

“Do you think you’ve earned it?” Bucky asks him again. “Think you’ve made me happy yet?”

 

“I made y’come twice, sir,” Steve says, no, he whines. He whines it into the bed, slurring with his brain cells clocking out one by one, trying his damnedest not to overflow with pleasure but Bucky won’t stop. “I did what you asked, I put on’a show for you, I sucked your cock, I begged, I’m beggin’, please, please, can I, please?”

 

“Please, what?” Bucky growls. His body folds against Steve’s back and a hand curls around his throat, Bucky’s lips pressing to his shoulder before biting down.

 

“Please, sir!”

 

Steve lifts his head, baring his throat to Bucky’s palm, putting all his weight on his forearms and elbows and Bucky bites dangerously close to his scent gland, triggering a rush of endorphins to Steve’s head that makes him dizzy.

 

“Gotta use your words here, baby boy,” Bucky says and Steve nearly breaks. “You wanna come? You gotta ask.”

 

Oh, God,  Steve thinks. “Please,” he begs, “can I come, sir? Please, sir?”

 

“That’s what I wanna hear,” Bucky murmurs, half a purr and half a growl, “there’s my little cockslut, my cumslut, using your filthy mouth, baby boy, good for more’n just sucking cock. You wanna come?”

 

“I wanna come!” Steve whimpers. “Please, sir, please let me come!”

 

“Come,” Bucky growls.

 

Steve cries aloud, as the second Bucy’s order leaves his lips, he’s breaking, the pleasure Bucky’s slamming into him swells to a crescendo. It sings through his whole body and his mind goes completely offline in the symphony.

 

He collapses with the strain of holding his body up and the power of his orgasm, but Bucky’s arms catch him before he can hit the bed. One arm curls under his chest, the other cradles his hips, and Bucky’s still going, still hitting that spot and Steve’s still coming, until Bucky grunts and stills above him. Steve hangs boneless in his grip, then finds his body being lowered onto the bed’s surface gently. He’s exhausted; nothing has ever made him black out so hard, nor worn such a toll on him. He’s aware of a quiet buzzing, until it becomes the ringing of his ears and Steve sighs to abate the silence.

 

Warm arms and hands wrap around his body. He feels fit to fall asleep. There’s warmth and satisfied pleasure covering his whole self, and given that he’s not being escorted out the door already, Steve decides he’s being permitted to relax for a minute. He’s not going to question it or force himself up into consciousness. He sighs a little again, settling into the warmth, and lets the high ride on into a dream-like state.

Chapter Text

hungry like the fox

 

Steve feels a breeze passing over his skin, either Bucky’s breath or a window open. Or it’s just his bare skin exposed to the air, cooling on his blood-flushed body.

 

“You’re gonna stay here a while until you’re fit to go home,” Bucky’s voice reaches him. “Or you’re going to spend the night. You can sleep in the guest room or in here, your choice.”

 

“Don’t wanna move,” Steve mumbles.

 

“You’re not moving yet. In an hour.”

 

Steve yawns, then settles back against something warm and firm. “Your knot’ll take that long to go down?” he says, only too blissed out to actually be disbelieving.

 

“It’ll take twenty minutes. You’re going to need that long to come down.”

 

“If you say so,” Steve mumbles. He presses his back into the something warm and firm, feeling the warm and firm extend past his hips to lie over his body. “‘M gonna take a nap.”

 

“Go home or stay here?” Bucky asks again.

 

“Thought I was napping,” Steve grumbles.

 

“You did. It’s been almost twenty minutes.”

 

Steve opens his eyes. He looks around, then sees the arms locked around his waist. He glances over his shoulder and his body is pressed into Bucky’s chest. He has a still clothed leg thrown over Steve’s hip.

 

“‘R’you spooning me?” he says, still slurring his words a bit.

 

Bucky raises an eyebrow. “Yes,” he says frankly.

 

Steve makes a confused noise, then shakes his head and shifts his shoulders to face away from him again. “You’re weird,” he mutters.

 

“Nobody treats you right, do they?”

 

Steve doesn’t have the energy to figure out what that's supposed to mean, so he huffs and ignores it.

 

“Steve,” Bucky says, and he’s reminded that Barnes wants answers.

 

“People don’ pay to treat me nice,” he grumbles. “Do what you want, I don’ care.”

 

Bucky exhales, and even to Steve’s fuzzy mind, he sounds frustrated. He doesn’t know what the hell for, nor does he really care.

 

“I'm going to take a shower,” Bucky says, and Steve jolts awake again.

 

Steve stretches, thinking that that sounds like an excellent idea. “Can I use it after you?” he asks in a mumble.

 

Bucky retracts from his body and the cold abruptly makes Steve shiver. Then his arms push under his back and knees and he’s being lifted into the air again.

 

“You can come with me,” he says, an idea that hadn’t occurred to him, but that Steve thinks sounds even more excellent. He happily slumps against Bucky’s shoulder, hooking his ankles together, as Bucky carries him through to the en-suite bathroom.

 

“Can you stand?” Bucky asks.

 

“‘Course I can stand,” Steve grumbles again, “the fuck am I, a drunk goose?”

 

Bucky snorts. Steve grins dumbly, pleased. But Bucky doesn’t set him on his feet. Instead, he’s placed gently, more gently than Steve would have thought a mob boss would handle him, onto a cool bench. Steve yawns and immediately sprawls onto it, then he hears the sound of water running.

 

He forces one eye open. Bucky is off to the side tossing the last of his clothes away, finally, and Steve is resting on a black marble bench in a massive, rainfall style shower.

 

“Holy shit,” he mutters, opening the other eye. “Can I live here?”

 

Bucky glances at him. “If you want,” he says shortly, and Steve blinks, having meant the shower and not really meant it at all.

 

Bucky walks back over and touches a black tile above Steve's head, and the tile becomes a screen.

 

“You have a TV in your shower?” Steve gasps. “All I got is my phone in a Ziplock bag!”

 

“It's the shower control,” Bucky answers. Steve gawks. Bucky flicks his gaze down and raises one eyebrow briefly. “Steve. I own half of New York, let alone property across the rest of the States and out of it. Don’t be surprised that I have expensive shit.”

 

“It’s not that it’s expensive, it’s that it’s in the shower,” Steve insists. Bucky rolls his eyes.

 

Steve decides to lie back on the bench again and intentionally arrange his legs open and folded at the knee, since Bucky is now naked and he wants to both appreciate the view and maybe entice Bucky into appreciating his own view. He doesn’t even know why Bucky has a bench in his shower, unless for the extravagance of an entire block of marble. It’s warming steadily under his body and he wonders vaguely if the marble has heating installed in it or he’s still running that hot.

 

Bucky holds out a hand to him. “We’re showering, so quit showing off.”

 

“But I wanna,” Steve whines. Bucky raises his eyebrows. Steve sits up, takes his hand and then immediately presses close to his body, circling both arms around his waist and smiling up at him. “I’m still a bit horny.”

 

“Really?” Bucky says, tone mildly interested or mildly mocking. One of the two.

 

Steve nods, fluttering his lashes, knowing it’s a look that never fails to get Alphas tugging their cocks out. Bucky's already halfway there.

 

Bucky sets a hand on his shoulder. The hot water of the rainfall shower is filling the room with steam, the glass door that Steve hadn’t noticed Bucky closing fogging up steadily. Bucky pushes and Steve happily goes to his knees in the rising water.

 

“Go on,” Bucky says calmly, hand still resting on his shoulder.

 

Steve leans in. He starts by kissing the line of Bucky’s torso, the V angling down his body. He touches his nose to the treasure trail of dark hair leading downward, his mouth open as he exhales softly, knowing his breath is warm as it descends. His hands slide up from Bucky’s ankles to the back of his calves, curling around the inside of his knees, up his thick thighs, feeling the muscles like marble, to his ass before coming back around to frame his hips. Bucky looks down at him with a neutral expression, tilting his head to the side, but there’s an amused glint to his eyes. Steve’s determined to tease this time, and he reaches up, parting his lips, only to pass over, to run his flat tongue up the line of hair to Bucky’s navel, his piercing tugging on his tongue as it drags along Bucky’s skin. He closes his mouth over his navel, sucks on it a moment, then reaches further to trace his tongue through the dips of his muscles, outlining his body.

 

Bucky’s hand settles onto his hair. Steve’s heartbeat is lifting again, but Bucky doesn’t push him down and Steve continues to tease. On their own, his knees separate on the marble floor, warm water pooling around his shins folded under his body and brushing over his toes, curled up tightly against the balls of his feet.

 

“Are you enjoying yourself, baby boy?” Bucky asks.

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve replies, heart skipping a beat, breath catching in his throat.

 

“I think you’d enjoy yourself more if you quit playing around.”

 

“Is that an order?” Steve whispers. He mouths back down Bucky’s torso, only to duck to the side and begin sucking a mark just below the crest of his hip.

 

“A suggestion,” Bucky says, and Steve hums into his work. “But if you stop teasing, I might let you touch yourself.”

 

Steve presses his forehead into Bucky’s abdomen, drawing in a sharp breath, almost a pant, as he shifts on the marble floor and the water splashes the inside of his thighs.

 

“Does that sound enjoyable to you?” Bucky asks firmly, and his fingers begin to comb through his hair.

 

“Yessir,” Steve mumbles. He drags his open lips back along Bucky’s hip, saliva pooling between his gums and his cheeks, around his teeth and under his tongue, and Bucky’s fingers curl into his hair.

 

“You want it, baby?” Bucky asks. “You like sucking dick so much you can start and finish yourself while doing it?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve answers faintly.

 

“No more talking from you,” Bucky instructs. “Not unless it’s one of your safe words. What are they?”

 

Bucky’s fingers tighten, holding him just out of reach. Steve swallows spit and thinks back to what had to be five or six hours ago, when they’d just started and Bucky asked if he had a safe word already.

 

“Brooklyn?” he says. There’d been two. “Brooklyn and Jersey.”

 

“Which to slow and which to stop?”

 

He swallows again. “Brooklyn to slow?”

 

Bucky tuts gentle. “Brooklyn to stop, sweetheart. Jersey to slow down. You gotta remember those. What do you do if you can’t talk?”

 

Steve taps his hand twice, then adds a third tap quickly, since twice was supposed to mimic the word no.

 

“Good,” Bucky says and relaxes his fingers. “Go ahead, now.”

 

Steve opens his mouth wider and Bucky’s hand presses on the back of his head. He holds on tight to Bucky’s hips to resist the urge to reach for himself, rolls his tongue and ducks his head. Bucky sighs, barely audible, and Steve hums.

 

“That’s good, baby boy,” Bucky praises then, and Steve’s eyes flutter shut as he moans. He works the piercing in his tongue to his advantage and Bucky’s fingers tighten steadily. “How’s this, how I’m holding you? Like it or no?”

 

Steve taps his hand once.

 

“Fucking excellent,” Bucky says and the curse flicks a few of Steve’s brain cells off. “You like getting your mouth fucked, baby?”

 

Steve at first moans, then taps his hand once.

 

“Very good,” Bucky murmurs. “Look at me, baby boy.”

 

Steve opens his eyes immediately, groaning at the pet name, and looks up through his lashes.

 

Bucky lifts his other hand from its place on his shoulders to brush his cheek, knuckles caressing slowly. The touch is electrifying. “I’m gonna fuck your mouth now,” he says matter-of-factly. “Do you wanna play with yourself?”

 

Steve nods quickly, then taps his hand once.

 

Bucky smiles, the predatory grin that makes Steve’s toes curl, and tightens his grip. “Touch yourself,” he orders.

 

Steve drops his right hand instantly. Just as quickly, Bucky shoves his face into the line of his hip roughly. He gasps and almost chokes, takes a breath in through his nose that rapidly turns into a long, lewd sound as his hand closes. He can’t smell anything but Bucky, the scent of his skin and his growing satisfaction, and as Bucky grips his head with both hands, like he’s trying to fuck Steve’s mouth all the way down to his lungs. Steve’s hand moves faster.

 

“Do it harder,” Bucky growls, “move your hand like I know you really want, little cumslut.”

 

Steve flat out whines as he hastens to obey. He catches air when Bucky pulls back, forces it out each time Bucky pushes him in, going dizzy from the buzz and restricted supply of oxygen. The water splashes every time his knuckles disturb its surface, droplets flying to strike his skin, tiny flecks of sensation that add, as well.

 

“You’re so good at this, baby boy,” Bucky says, like he’s exhaling the words, like Steve is finally affecting his brain the way he’s switching off Steve’s. Steve flattens his tongue, letting Bucky reach father, and Bucky sighs again, faint and soft, barely there. “I want you to bring yourself right to the edge, but I don’t want you to come until I dirty up your pretty face. You hear me?”

 

Steve groans hard, tapping his left hand once. He squeezes, speeds up his hand, slows and squeezes again. He wants it bad, he wants Bucky to dirty up his face, he wants to spill into the water pooling around his knees.

 

“You gonna like that, baby?”

 

He hums again, tapping his hand.

 

Bucky pushes Steve’s face in, smashing his nose against his torso, and Steve swallows pre-come. Bucky exhales again, almost a sigh, almost a groan. Steve’s moaning almost constantly; the mix of the salty taste on his tongue, the stimulation he gives himself, Bucky’s controlling hands, he’s dizzy. He keeps having to slow and start up again, keeping himself from coming until Bucky’s done, but not working too hard to bring Bucky to the finish. He draws it out, digging his nails into Bucky’s hip, scraping with the barbell in his tongue, having just enough intelligence left to know where to tilt his head or when to curl his tongue to keep it going. Bucky’s hands slow in their rough direction of his head for a moment, pulling him back and Steve whines.

 

“Look at me,” Bucky commands and Steve snaps his eyes open, having shut them at some point. “Keep looking at me.”

 

He yanks his head back in. Steve makes a low-pitched noise of satisfaction, then has to slow his own hand to hold himself back. He pushes his chin into it, letting his tongue pass his lips and drags his piercing as he pulls it back in, and Bucky responds with a heavy, rumbling growl, his eyes shutting. Steve keeps his gaze locked on Bucky’s face, and when his eyes open again, his pupils are massive, the wolf ready to howl at the moon. His fingers grip harder, palms squeezing a little, then he yanks a hand away and drops forward, pressing his flat palm to the wall, so that Steve’s head is now bent backward, his throat aligning with his mouth.

 

“Tap your hand if this is fine,” Bucky says, his voice a wrecked growl.

 

Steve taps his hand happily.

 

Bucky gets rough again, lifting off the wall after a few seconds just to lean in again, the new angle getting down Steve’s throat almost to his stomach. It takes all of Steve’s resolve to keep his climax at bay and not stop entirely. The water is hot, his blood is thrumming with a fever in his veins, and Bucky jerks back from the wall, jerks out of Steve’s mouth; Steve intentionally flattens his tongue and presses the silver bar piercing it up and in as he does.

 

“Come,” Bucky growls.

 

Steve comes. Bucky splatters his face with a groan and Steve leaves his mouth open to catch it, sagging into the water. Bucky grabs his shoulders, gripping firmly to steady him, and Steve lifts a hand to wipe his face clean.

 

“Lick it up,” Bucky orders.

 

Steve pushes his fingers into his mouth, keeping his gaze level. Bucky’s eyes are piercing, icy blue spirals within steel and Steve thinks that this is an adrenaline rush he wants more often.

 

He sweeps his tongue over his lips. Bucky lifts a hand to grip his jaw.

 

“I gotta admit,” he says, voice rough and quiet, “you’re exceeding my expectations by miles.”

 

Steve grins. “Thank you, sir,” he answers softly.

 

“Stand up,” Bucky orders.

 

Steve rises; his legs are numb from kneeling and Bucky grips his waist even before Steve can sway. He kisses him again, rough, like he loves the taste of himself on Steve’s tongue.

 

Steve’s body is coated with a fine layer of steam and mist from the rainfall just behind Bucky’s back. Bucky pulls him forward, until the water is hitting his hair and running down his back, then Bucky’s hands are following the trail of the water. Steve lets his body relax under Bucky’s touch, eyes shutting again, and Bucky runs his palms from his shoulders to his spine to his ass and his stomach and thighs.

 

“I want you to be mine,” Bucky growls into his mouth.

 

“Lemme get back to you on that,” Steve mumbles. His brain is still functional enough to know better than to reply yes rashly.

 

“Fine,” Bucky says and turns his head to kiss down his neck. Steve bares his throat and Bucky sucks marks into it.

 

He doesn’t usually let clients give him hickeys, but Steve’s holding back on saying yes now for a reason; he loves Bucky’s possessive, predatory attitude even if he's unsure he wants to belong to him. His attention is addictive.

 

“‘M still coming back on Fridays,” he adds.

 

“Are you?” Bucky says into his neck.

 

His teeth close on a spot just below the knot of his throat. Steve swallows, feeling it under his lips, and Bucky growls again.

 

“‘S some fucking good sex, sir,” he mumbles.

 

Bucky’s hands squeeze his ass. Steve is boneless under his grip, finally satisfied in ways he didn’t even know he could be. He feels the gratification in his fingertips, in the caps of his knees and the balls of his shoulders, and somewhere deep in the back of his head that just wants to purr.

 

“See what happens when you obey?” Bucky prompts. “Hand your pleasure to the control of someone else?”

 

Steve exhales carefully, not cognizant enough to really know what Bucky means. He feels satisfied in his joints, with Bucky’s gunmetal-calloused palms petting each inch of his skin, his mouth making bruises down his throat.

 

“Do you or don’t you?” Bucky growls.

 

Steve only shrugs. Bucky huffs but doesn’t ask again.

 

“Think about it,” he says and lifts off his neck. Steve is too satisfied to protest. Bucky cups his chin, tilting his head back, and looks down at him with that alluring aura of power in his gray eyes. “Next week, I want an answer.”

 

“Are you giving me homework?” Steve retorts.

 

Bucky flicks his eyebrows up. For a moment, he holds Steve’s eye contact, then steps back, hands still touching him, looking down his body as though to examine him. He seems unconcerned and detached again, but his attention is zeroed in on Steve, and that’s what’s addictive about it.

 

“Do you want to go home or spend the night?” he asks, reaching for a bar of soap and a cloth.

 

Steve thinks about it while Bucky lathers the soap on the cloth, but is jolted out of his thoughts when Bucky takes the cloth to his skin instead of his own. Yet he doesn’t protest, his lips parting in surprised wonder, while Bucky washes his body with gentle hands.

 

“You’re weird,” he declares when Bucky picks up a bottle of shampoo and starts washing his hair.

 

“It’s called aftercare,” Bucky says in a flat tone.

 

“Oh,” Steve says then. He relaxes again and Bucky works the soap into the roots of his hair.

 

Steve sighs, his eyes shutting. If he’s going to get this every time they have sex, he’d be happy to belong to Bucky. Only hairdressers have washed his hair before, not counting his ma when he was little and sick. Then it was always cold and their long nails bit into his scalp, but Bucky’s fingers are just the right side of rough to massage his scalp, ten times better than having his hair finger-combed or petted.

 

He’d love to have this every single day. He runs his tongue on the inside of his teeth, thinking, then decides he might as well ask.

 

“If I become your sub or whatever it is you want," he starts, "will you brush and wash my hair?”

 

“Sure,” Bucky says easily.

 

“Every day?” Steve presses.

 

“Whenever you want,” Bucky says.

 

Steve smiles at the thought. Bucky pulls him under the fall of water and he tilts his head back, letting the hot water soak through the lathered soap. Bucky’s fingers continue to work the soap, until his hair is washed clean of it. Steve leaves his head tilted back, breathing carefully through his nose, and one of Bucky’s hands lifts from his body for a moment. Then Bucky pulls him back from the water and starts working something else into his hair. It takes Steve a second, his mind having slipped towards sleep, to realize that it’s conditioner. Bucky massages his scalp again, working the conditioner down to his roots, before guiding him back under the flow of the water.

 

“Can you stand fine now?” Bucky asks.

 

“‘M fine,” Steve mumbles.

 

“You really gotta learn how to answer the question I actually asked, punk,” Bucky snaps.

 

“Quit asking stupid questions, ya jerk,” Steve answers immediately.

 

His eyes snap open despite the water falling on his head and he is very aware of every marble surface, the water pouring down on him, every way that could potentially end his life for calling Barnes a jerk. He’d heard once that Barnes shot a man in the foot and then in the face for calling his mother something only mildly insulting.

 

Bucky blinks at him with a neutral expression. Then he cracks a grin and laughs.

 

“Whatchu laughin’ for?” Steve grumbles, not sure if the laugh means he isn’t mad or Bucky’s going to have fun murdering him.

 

“You're cute,” Bucky says, then grabs Steve by his waist and yanks him in. He kisses him hungrily, and Steve happily goes pliant under it. When he breaks the kiss, Bucky is still grinning like a madman. “Ain’t nobody called me a jerk since I left the army. Everybody’s too scared I’ll blow their heads off.”

 

“Oh,” Steve says softly. “Well. It’s a fair concern.”

 

Bucky shrugs. “You never need to worry about making me mad. Worst I’ll do to you is give you blue balls.”

 

“Hey!” Steve squeaks in horrified protest.

 

Bucky laughs again and kisses him a second time, tongue-fucking his mouth for a moment, then releases him. Steve drops onto his heels, then starts, grabbing Bucky’s shoulders, not having realized he’d stood up on his toes. Bucky snorts, holding him firmly against his body.

 

“You’re cute, doll,” Bucky says, the grin morphed to a smirk. “I hope I get to keep you.”

 

Steve’s a little dizzy again from the kiss. He nods vaguely and Bucky grins before pulling back, holding him by the waist to keep him steady.

 

“Go ‘n’ sit down,” Bucky says, jerking his head to the bench. “I’ll be done in a minute.”

 

Steve nods again, pulling away. Bucky’s hands shift to his arms, sliding along to his wrists until Steve moves too far out of reach. He sets himself down on the bench, a good meter from where Bucky stands in the middle of the rainfall now and lies down. He curls an arm under his head to watch the water trailing down Bucky’s rippling muscles as he moves. There is power in his aura and more in his body; Steve imagines Bucky could crush skulls between his thighs, lift a man by the throat and choke him to death with one hand, the way his shoulders and back move is like an advert for Trojan or Axe or Audi. The steam makes his skin shine, the water running down the ripples in rivulets. Steve might be tempted to desire again, but he still feels the satisfaction of their last round in his core. He’s blissfully tired by then and ready to become a vegetable until the next afternoon.

 

He watches Bucky shower, his eyes slowly becoming heavier as the steam and the perfume of expensive soap. The fading aroma of sex and the persistent scent of Bucky work themselves into the nooks and crannies of his body, slipping between strains of muscle, nudging away trace tension to make room for it in his body. He could fall asleep there, as unyielding as the marble under him is, but he’s still got the rest of the night ahead of him. He sits up, yawning, and rubs at his eyes.

 

Bucky’s hand lands on his hair and Steve drops his hands to press into the touch.

 

“You wanna stay here?” he asks.

 

“Hmm?” Steve says.

 

Bucky combs his hair back and Steve shuts his eyes, pleased to be petted.

 

“Do you want to stay the night here?” Bucky asks.

 

“Oh yeah,” Steve mumbles. Bucky had offered to let him stay the night.

 

“You can sleep in the guest room or with me, or I can call a car to take you home. Whatever you want.”

 

Bucky’s hand leaves his hair and Steve’s posture slumps. He swipes water off his face, opening eyes when the shower door opens and he stands up. Bucky tosses him a towel and Steve starts wiping down his body. A minute later, a second towel abruptly flips over his head and he starts, only for Bucky to start working the water out of his hair.

 

“I can dry myself off,” Steve says, waving him off.

 

“Shuddup and lemme fuss,” Bucky grumbles. Steve stands up straight, frowning into the towel’s soft surface. Bucky pulls the towel off his head, then pauses at the look on his face. “What?”

 

“Aren’t you s’posed to be the leader of the Russian mafia?” Steve says. “Let you fuss?

 

Bucky gives him a disgruntled look. “I’m human, too,” he says, then drops the towel into his chest. “You don’t want me to fuss, fine.”

 

“No, it’s fine,” Steve says, but Bucky’s already turning away. He scowls at the towel in his hand a moment, then sighs and flips the towel around his neck to finish drying his body.

 

Bucky walks out of the bathroom still naked after drying off, but Steve wraps one of his towels around his torso, not yet comfortable enough to wander about Bucky’s home in his birthday suit. He moves to the doorway of the bathroom, then leans against the jam to watch Bucky pulling boxers out of a dresser drawer. 

 

His gaze wanders to the bed, then to the dried stain on the end of the duvet. Steve sucks on a canine while he thinks, then he walks up to the bed and, letting his towel fall to the ground, flops down like he belongs there.

 

Bucky pulls on the boxers and turns around. Steve stretches, luxuriously, resting against his pillows, and Bucky raises his eyebrows.

 

“You’re staying then?”

 

“I imagine you’ll want me to sleep with you if I become yours,” Steve says, taking care to speak clearly, to enunciate, to ensure that Bucky catches every word. “Consider this a trial run. I want more cuddles.”

 

Bucky’s eyebrows lift higher and Steve holds his gaze level but his position an invitation. He’s learning that if he phrases a demand just right, if he licks his lips or tilts his chin up, Bucky will give him whatever he wants. He lies in Bucky’s bed, naked and damp, like he belongs there, and there’s something possessive growing in Bucky’s eyes that makes him think that Bucky likes it that way.

 

Bucky smiles slowly at him, then nods. “You want to sleep naked or you want clothes?” he asks, hand returning to the dresser.

 

Steve thinks about his underwear somewhere on the other side of the room, but Bucky is resting his hand on the knob of a drawer, waiting.

 

“Gimme clothes,” Steve says.

 

Bucky takes a shirt and a pair of boxers from his dresser, and Steve takes them when he approaches.

 

Bucky watches him don them, like a wolf watches its prey before the pounce. Steve, however, is not a shrew for Bucky to devour in one meal and go on in search of the next. He learns quick, and Bucky’s wandering hands and cold eyes betray loneliness in his luxurious marble penthouse.

 

Lonely is a liability. Lonely is the most dangerous thing you can be. Lonely is the most vulnerable to an inviting posture, and Steve isn’t above taking advantage of a wolf’s lonely heart. He will reveal to be a fox under his clothes and trick the wolf into hunting for him instead.

 

He lies back, grabbing the blankets and pushing them down to crawl under them, while Bucky walks around to the other side of the bed and sets two phones on the nightstand, Steve’s and his own. Steve looks to his left, but there isn’t a table on that side.

 

“I’m going to need a nightstand,” he announces. He glances back at Bucky. “If I’m going to be here often.”

 

“Will you?” Bucky says quietly.

 

Steve shifts onto his side, tucking an arm under his head, and raises his eyebrows at Bucky. “Yep. What are the conditions of being your sub? ‘Cause I ain’t doing what’s-her-face from Fifty Shades of Grey and signing some bullshit contract.”

 

Bucky sets one knee on the bed, then his palms, then he comes to rest on the mattress directly next to Steve, crawling over to him in a prowling manner until his hands are framing his body so that his shadow hangs over him. Steve lies perfectly still.

 

“I want company,” Bucky starts.

 

His voice is low, just below too deep to be a murmur and just this side of too smooth to be a growl. He sounds like molten chocolate, pouring in a slow drip, almost sensual and nearing adoring. It catches low on Steve’s spine and tugs a shiver up it.

 

“I want somebody to fuck,” Bucky says, “somebody to listen when I want to vent. You know what I want from you during sex now, I want those things daily. I want you to listen to me.”

 

Steve shifts onto his back, to let Bucky’s shadow cover his whole body, and mimics Bucky’s calculating expression. “What about what I want?”

 

Bucky flicks his gaze over the edge of the bed. “There’ll be a nightstand on that side next week.”

 

“What else?” Steve says quickly.

 

“What else do you want?” Bucky asks, tone mildly interested or mildly mocking, Steve still can’t tell.

 

He purses his lips, tilting his head and gaze back like he’s considering it, but he already knows what he wants. In his peripheral vision, he watches Bucky’s gaze slip from his face to his neck, something hungry growing in his wolf’s eyes.

 

For one thing, Steve wants that.

 

“I want to be fucked,” he says. Bucky jerks his gaze back up. “And I want your attention.”

 

Bucky raises an eyebrow. “My attention?” he repeats, as though it amuses him.

 

“If I were to go into your office while you were working,” Steve says, letting his voice trail into something breathy, a barely-there breeze to Bucky’s molten chocolate. He rises up some, almost closing the distance between their mouths, Bucky’s gaze falls to his lips and his next words are a ghost to Bucky’s lips. “And I told you that I wanted you to take me out,” he says, “would you do it?”

 

“When I was done working,” Bucky answers flatly.

 

“If I were to go up to you and sit in your lap,” Steve starts again, watching Bucky’s gaze growing darker, “and say that I felt neglected and I wanted to go out and –” he stops to lick his lips and says the next words even softer, but even still, Bucky’s pupils dilate “– I wanted you to show off what’s yours…”

 

Steve pauses, to inhale and to let his words sink in. Bucky’s eyes are making his skin crawl in a delicious fire. “Would you do it right away?” he asks quietly.

 

Bucky’s expression is the wolf’s; closed, evaluating, but starving, hungry and hunting. Steve, however, speaks with his whole body; open, inviting, crafty and manipulating like the fox. He wants Bucky’s attention at all times, and James Barnes is an isolated, lone and lonely wolf who wants someone to keep him warm in his marble empire of ill-gotten gains. To bare your throat is a metaphor of surrender, the white flag of the animal kingdom, yet by lifting his chin, Steve can control the most dangerous Alpha in probably the entire country. That power is addictive.

 

So Steve bares his throat. “Would you stop whatever you were doing, just to give me what I want?”

 

“Yes,” Bucky says, and Steve nods slowly, biting his lip.

 

“I’ll have to think about it,” he says softly, a smile curling his lip like he’s already made up his mind and he’s going to say yes. He is, but he wants to tease a while longer. Bucky picked him for the hunt, and Steve enjoys being chased as much as Bucky seems to like taking him down.

 

But he leaves his throat exposed. He lets the wolf think that he’s been pinned, that his teeth are poised, ready to be sunk into his esophagus, that if Steve moved, he would be ready to strike. Steve wants to tease. He still wears all his jewelry, the wolf’s teeth will catch on his studded collar-like choker before they sink into his throat, and Bucky knows it. Steve still has the power to say no, and the lonely wolf is clearly prepared to do anything to keep him from doing so.

 

“Fine,” Bucky says, yet again giving Steve the control. Never mind his shadow hanging over Steve, never mind that he likes to loom and to dominate. Steve is the one in power here now. He lowers his body down, leaving his head tilted back, and Bucky ducks his head to press a kiss under his jaw, looming the way he does that’s laced with something a little predatory. While his face is turned away, Steve smiles, something laced with a little victory.

 

Bucky lies down next to him and with a tap of his phone, the lights of the penthouse turn off. Steve lies with his body curved inward, arms above his head, his waist exposed like an invitation. Bucky accepts it without hesitation, his arm curling around the curve of Steve’s body, drawing him into his chest, wrapping his arms around him and settling his nose into the nape of his neck.

 

Steve looks at Bucky’s other hand lying splayed on the bed, and thinks, in a few Fridays, he will lace their fingers together purposefully. For now, he gently nudges Bucky’s hand with his own, as though hesitant, until Bucky lifts it and intertwines their fingers himself. Steve inhales, exhales, and smiles as he shuts his eyes.

 

In a year, maybe two, maybe less, he will shyly ask Bucky if he ever thought about getting married. In five years or so, he will offer him an heir to the ill-gotten empire. In a week, he will obey Bucky’s every command, starting by arriving wearing a plug so Bucky can just slide in on whatever surface and in whatever position he wants.

 

He will lounge in the shadow of James Barnes, comfortable and seductive in his ease. He will relax in this marble penthouse, throat bared to Barnes’s teeth and hands, and while Rumlow feared submission, Steve will utilize surrender to his every advantage. He will occupy the empty space in Bucky’s marble life, lonely and cold, like it is where he has always belonged.

 

Bucky falls asleep first, his breathing going deep and rhythmic. At his apartment, Steve used to fall asleep to the sounds of the urban nightlife, the symphony of a city that never sleeps, sirens and engines and drunks and insomniacs, and here, ninety-five floors up, all he hears is Bucky’s slow breathing. He wants Bucky’s attention, but he isn't teasing a wolf for that. Here, with the knowledge of Barnes’s loneliness, Steve falls asleep trusting that he’ll never be the weakling receptacle of some lowlife’s anger again. Having experienced Barnes’s unconditional compassion, he falls asleep contented to be sure no one will ever blindfold him because he spoke out of turn again. Surrounded by the assurance of stability, Steve falls asleep with the promise that he will never go hungry again.

Chapter Text

red, black, white marble

 

Steve wakes up alone. He wakes up cold and draws the blankets tighter around his body. He can smell Barnes, but he doesn’t feel him at his back, so his eyes open and he looks around the room blearily. The drapes have been pulled over the windows, but in the gaps between the fabric, sunlight reaches through, tendrils slowly slipping between the curtains to make him blink and rub at his eyes. He pulls the blankets up again, then rolls to the other side of the bed and fumbles around for his phone on the nightstand. Bucky’s side of the bed is completely gone cold, not a trace of residual heat, and when Steve thumbs awake the screen of his phone, the time reads half past eight.

 

Steve drops his face into the mattress to groan, frustrated by workaholics. It’s Saturday. What the fuck is Bucky even doing?

 

He crawls out of the bed and heads for the door. He doesn’t bother looking for his clothes, he’s wearing a shirt of Bucky’s that reaches past his hips and boxers that keep slipping down low on his hips. He expects that the wolf’s eyes will flash possessively when Bucky sees him still in his clothes. He opens the door and wanders out, rubbing at his eyes again at the increase of sunlight, and hears voices in the room on the right.

 

Steve pushes the door open, squinting, and sees four people gathered in the room. Bucky is behind a mahogany desk with his feet up, one hand behind his head and the other holding a lit cigar. He’s dressed already, slacks and a waistcoat over his dress shirt, despite being before nine on a Saturday.

 

Those in the room quit talking. Steve blinks for a second, recognizing Romanoff – for once, not flipping a knife – and none of the others, then elects to ignore them and scowls at Bucky. He's trying to convey Why the hell are you working this early on a Saturday you moron with his eyes, but Bucky doesn't seem to get it.

 

“Go back to bed,” Bucky says before he can even open his mouth.

 

Steve ignores this, too. He warned Bucky that he would intrude on his business if he wanted attention, and if Bucky won’t actually give him what he wants when he wants it, he’s not giving Bucky anything in return. He strides through the office, through the startled faces of Bucky’s guests, behind Bucky’s desk and flicks at his knees. Bucky raises his eyebrows, but takes his shoes off the desk. Steve immediately moves to occupy his lap, tucking into his neck and closing his eyes again. He smells like smoke, but it’s not the cheap cigarette or marijuana smoke Steve’s used to. It’s a more woodsy scent, more refined, more elegant. It fits his aura of power and money.

 

Someone chuckles, but it’s cut off hastily. Bucky’s hand sets on his elbow, then worms under his arm to curl around his waist.

 

“I see you kept him,” he hears a woman. Romanoff.

 

I'm  keeping him,” Steve says before anyone else can speak.

 

The someone laughs again, and even Bucky chuckles.

 

“We’ll see,” Bucky murmurs in his ear. Steve shivers and burrows deeper, tucking his knees into the arm of Bucky’s desk chair. “Are you just going to go back to sleep in my lap, doll?”

 

“Yep,” Steve mumbles. He tucks his face into Bucky’s neck so that his shirt collar blocks the light and exhales, satisfied. Bucky’s other hand rests on his knee.

 

“Keep talking,” Bucky says to the rest of the room, voice going brisk.

 

“Uh, well, Ross is offering 50k if you contribute to his re-election campaign. Stern is offering the same, but we got him meeting with Schmidt, the wacko neo-Nazi?”

 

“Fuck Stern. What’s Ross want?”

 

Steve quits listening. It takes him barely a minute to zone out from the voices. There’s less yelling than he’s used to in Brass Fang, the same amount of expletives and a greater level of casual threats, though these threats have more weight to them when they’re made by James Barnes. But Steve zones out, not giving a shit about re-election campaigns. He falls into a shallow doze, practiced to wake up if needed.

 

“What about Fang?” Bucky says, and Steve wakes up. “What have you got on them?”

 

“It’s been less than 24 hours,” Romanoff says. Steve opens one eye, the one closer to Bucky’s collar. “Nothing concrete.”

 

“I want them gone in a week,” Bucky snaps.

 

“I can get them gone in a day,” a man says.

 

“I want them in prison for life,” Bucky retorts.

 

“Why do you hate them so much all of a sudden?” Romanoff asks sharply. Steve shuts his eye and hopes they still think he’s asleep. “They’re paying you, you got your boy toy, what more do you want?”

 

“Garrett hired underage kids,” Bucky says sharply. “Rumlow probably hired underage kids, and I’m betting Rollins is fine with keeping those kids on his bench. I ain’t taking money made off of sixteen and seventeen-year-olds.”

 

“Their books are a mess,” a different man speaks up, “how do you know –”

 

The voice cuts off. Bucky’s hand has lifted off of Steve’s knee, leaving his skin cold in its absence. Steve tightens his jaw and holds himself still. But Bucky's hand is gone only for a second, then it drops down again.

 

“He was seventeen starting with them,” Bucky says angrily. “I want the whole damn gang off the street.”

 

“What about the girls?” Romanoff counters, while somebody mutters: “Well, how old is he now?

 

“Get ‘em jobs elsewhere,” Bucky says. The muttered question goes unanswered.

 

“What about the girls that they’ve got dependent on drugs, huh?”

 

Steve thinks of Jessica and her seven years of bloodshot eyes. How he took coke once and got the shakes so bad he refused to touch it again. He met Jess after he landed in the foster system, bloodshot eyes and all. She introduced him to Garrett.

 

“Open a rehab center,” Bucky snaps. “Use the 50k Ross is giving me. Flush out Fang’s cash, wash it, put it back into getting the girls resettled.”

 

“And your boy toy?” Romanoff snaps back.

 

Bucky’s hand tightens on his knee. Steve has the sudden thought that he could just sit up and assure Bucky he’d rather be a kept boy, but he holds his tongue; he wants to wear out the wolf’s run, he wants to draw out the chase.

 

“Just get Fang off the streets,” Bucky replies angrily.

 

“I could just as easily have ‘em taken out,” a man says in a tired voice. “Pop! They gone.”

 

“I said I wanted them in prison.”

 

“You already killed Rumlow,” the man sighs.

 

“I didn’t know he was selling kids then, did I? Prison, and it’ll be easy on ‘em for what I’d rather do.”

 

“Don’t go dominatrix on us, Barnes, it’s unflattering.”

 

Steve can’t help it, he laughs. He feels Bucky look down and he covers his mouth with a hand, still sniggering, and the trigger-happy man laughs.

 

“Shuddup,” Bucky grumbles. He flicks Steve’s belly ring. “Don’t embarrass me, punk.”

 

Steve sighs, then stretches and resettles. “Thought I was baby boy,” he mumbles, just loud enough to be heard, just to be a little shit.

 

“You can be both,” Bucky says, huffing. There are multiple people sniggering now. “Shuddup!”

 

“Uh-oh, he’s angry,” a third man says.

 

“Protect your privates!” the first of the men says, laughing.

 

Steve hadn’t thought that rumor was true, but it seems Bucky did shoot someone’s balls off once. He’s not worried. His throat is already bared.

 

“Shuddup!” Bucky says a third time. “Stevie, behave yourself or I’ll make you go back to bed.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve mumbles, softer now, and Bucky squeezes his knee placatingly.

 

“Too late,” the first man chuckles.

 

“Hush your mouth, Francis, or I will shoot you in the balls.”

 

Steve snorts and the man apparently called Francis yelps; something bangs into something and there’s a loud crash, making Steve lift his head and look around. The blonde of the three men has staggered into a globe and knocked it open, revealing decanters of golden liquid.

 

“Hey, hey, watch my booze!” Bucky calls.

 

The blonde hastily recovers the globe. Steve slumps against his shoulder again, but quits trying to sleep. He watches the three men and Romanoff as they return to their business with Bucky, looking for tells and nervous ticks out of habit. There’s the clumsy blonde who has the voice of Francis, a dark-haired and well-dressed fellow in sunglasses  holding a cane as well, the sunglasses and cane clearly indicating that the man's blind , and a dude wearing khakis and a Hawaiian print shirt amongst the suits.

 

Steve likes the guy in khakis. He looks half-asleep or high, which are both better things to be doing on a Saturday morning.

 

Eventually, he checks the time. The crystal clock on Bucky’s desk reads nearly eleven, and they don’t seem to be wrapping up. Steve can’t fathom what the hell they could still have to talk about, but most of it involves tentative information and math that goes in one ear and out the other. He’s getting hungry and he’s getting tired of Bucky only lifting his hands to gesture with them.

 

But he doesn’t want to risk his position under the wolf’s teeth, and he’s fairly certain that if he acts out anymore this morning, he’ll actually annoy Bucky. He ends up ducking his head back into Bucky’s neck and pouting, hoping Bucky’ll notice. He doesn’t. So he squirms a little, but Bucky only pats his knee once. Steve glowers into Bucky’s collar.

 

Then his stomach rumbles. The dude in khakis cuts off mid-sentence and they all look at him.

 

Steve feigns embarrassment. He hides his face and Bucky pets his side comfortingly.

 

“I think it’s time to wrap up,” he announces. “Call me with developments.”

 

“Holy shit,” says Francis, “we’re breaking before dark. I like the boy toy!”

 

“Just get out,” Bucky calls.

 

Steve listens to footsteps and the door shut. Bucky pats his side and he sits up, pressing his lips to Bucky’s firmly and demandingly. Bucky catches the base of his head, fingers gripping tightly, and after a second Steve relaxes. He sighs into the kiss and Bucky slides his hand down to squeeze the back of his neck.

 

“You work too much,” Steve mumbles against his mouth.

 

Bucky breaks the kiss. “I have a business to manage,” he says levelly.

 

Steve shrugs. “Still. What time did you even get up? Bed was cold when I woke up.”

 

“‘Round seven.”

 

“Ugh,” Steve declares, then hides his face into Bucky’s neck again. “I’m hungry,” he says, though he’s thinking that he’s going to tell Bucky he can’t leave the bed before noon on Saturdays when Steve's in it, and Bucky laughs.

 

“We noticed,” he says. His arms change their position, his right arm curling under Steve’s knees instead of over them, and Bucky stands up. Steve settles in for the ride, holding onto Bucky’s neck. “You wanna eat here or head home?”

 

Steve groans, because he’s got that laundry at home that he was supposed to take to the laundromat on Wednesday. He’s still got to take the money Bucky gave him for keeping his lap warm to the bank so he can write his landlord a cheque. He probably should clean his kitchen and vacuum and pay his other bills, but he wants to stay cradled in Bucky’s arms.

 

He wonders how long he really should keep up the guise of making up his mind. Bucky probably has a maid that does his laundry and cleans his kitchen for him.

 

“That’s not an answer, sweetheart," Bucky says. "Here or home?”

 

“Here,” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky carries him down the stairs, the sunlight of the floor to ceiling windows staining his eyelids, eventually setting him down on a sofa.

 

“Take-out sound good?” Bucky asks.

 

“What, ain’t you gonna cook for me?” Steve counters with a corner of his lip curling up.

 

Bucky gives him an unamused look. Steve shrugs. “I don’t cook,” Bucky says.

 

Steve swings his legs off the sofa. “Fine,” he says, “good thing I do.”

 

He strides toward the kitchen, glancing over his shoulder once and pausing at the doorway. “Comin’?” he calls to Bucky, then ducks inside.

 

The marble is everywhere, it seems; the floors are the same white marble, but the counters match the black marble of the shower. The appliances are steel that gleams, full stove, oven, dishwasher, a refrigerator that Steve thinks is much too big for a bachelor. He gets a feel for the cupboards and cabinets, finds a block of knives, cutting boards, plates and bowls and utensils, and turns back to find Bucky sitting at a dining table, watching him with his wolf’s eyes. They are proud, now, like Bucky is displaying the gleam of his coat and not the stainless steel of the kitchen surfaces. Steve opens the fridge and digs around in them for a second, until he finds eggs and an assortment of vegetables.

 

“What’re you cooking?” Bucky asks as Steve lays out things on the center island counter.

 

“Hangover special,” Steve answers. He glances back at him, a brow lifting at the corner and his lips curling in something dry as he adds: “Because I’m hungry like I got a hangover. I think I used a lotta energy last night or something.”

 

Bucky’s lips curl at the corners and Steve mimics the smirk, searching for potatoes now. He finds them as well as onions in a cabinet under the far counter, sets out a few and returns to the fridge to find bacon or sausages. There are both, so he just takes the bacon and gets it cooking in the microwave. After finding a frying pan, a measuring cup and then a whisk, he starts cutting up the potatoes into thin strips to pan fry.

 

“What’s in a hangover special?” Bucky asks. He’s leaning back in his chair, the front two legs lifting off the ground, with a thumb pressed to his cheek and hand propping up his chin as his elbow rests on a long dining table. The rings on his index, middle, and pinky finger gleam brighter than the stainless steel, but his ring finger is bare. It’s his left hand, and Steve is already thinking of what wedding ring would best match.

 

“Eggs, potatoes, lots of veggies, bacon,” Steve answers. He gestures to the potatoes with the knife. “Lots of potatoes. Carbs are good for hangovers.”

 

“Can’t say I’ve had a hangover in a very long time,” Bucky chuckles.

 

Steve wrinkles his nose. “‘Cause you’re an old man,” he teases.

 

Bucky raises his eyebrows. “Didn’t see you complaining before.”

 

“I did complain, a whole one time,” Steve counters. He pushes aside a pile of potato strips and starts to cut up an onion to go with them. “Thirty-eight. You’re nearly forty.”

 

“Nearly thirty-nine,” Bucky corrects.

 

“Way closer to forty than me, anyway. When’s your birthday?” Steve asks. He’ll have to start working out what to get him right away if it’s any earlier than his own. What does one get a man who has a TV in his rainfall style shower?

 

“March 10th,” Bucky says. Steve screws up his nose again. “What’s the face for?” Bucky adds with a laugh.

 

“What the hell do I get you?” Steve says. “Shit, what am I gonna get you for Christmas?

 

“Take it one day at a time, doll,” Bucky reminds him. He smiles and it crinkles the corners of his eyes. “Besides, put a bow on your ass and I’ll be happy.”

 

Steve raises his eyebrows. “Lingerie is a very unoriginal gift.”

 

“Even just a lil’ paper bow,” Bucky says, laughing again as he lifts a hand and holds his thumb an inch from his forefinger. “Your ass is already a gift.”

 

Steve tries not to swell too much at the praise and focuses on the onion again. He wipes at his eyes with the sleeve of the borrowed shirt he's wearing, the fumes of the onion making them sting. He has about a month before he really has to worry about Christmas, after all, Halloween was barely a week ago.

 

“When’s your birthday?” Bucky asks.

 

“July 4th,” he answers.

 

Bucky laughs. “Seriously?”

 

Steve wrinkles his nose again. “Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. Wasn’t my fault. I was born too early and everything.”

 

“Really?” Bucky says, sitting up and returning all four legs of the chair to the floor. “Wasn’t a problem, was it?”

 

Steve shrugs, not really wanting to get into childhood illnesses or complications following birth. He pushes the onion away and wipes at his eyes with the sleeve again, hears footsteps and the tap, then a hand touches his shoulder. He looks up, blinking, and Bucky holds a damp paper towel out to him. Steve takes it with the hand not covered in onion juice and dabs at his eyes with a muttered thanks. Bucky touches his hand to the small of his back, then kisses his temple. He moves away and Steve blinks at the onion.

 

Bucky’s acting weird again. A kiss on the temple is remarkably non-sexual. Remarkably affectionate, which isn’t what Steve would have expected out of James Barnes.

 

But he ignores it and goes looking for olive oil. He normally uses store-brand cooking spray, but since Bucky’s rich as shit, he’s sure he’ll have real extra virgin olive oil. He wonders what makes it extra virgin. It’s a stupid thing to say for a vegetable oil.

 

He finds it and pours it into the pan, turning on the fire on low to warm it up. He puts the onions with the potatoes on one corner of the cutting board, then starts cutting up peppers and mushrooms to go in the eggs.

 

“Do you have any family?” Bucky asks abruptly.

 

Steve’s hand slips in pressing down on a pepper and the knife hits his thumb. He swears and drops the knife and the pepper and a second later, Bucky is standing next to him, reaching for his hand. Steve snatches up the damp paper towel and presses it to the cut, blood seeping quickly into the towel, pink with the water.

 

“Sorry, I’m sorry, here, let’s get you a bandage, c’mon,” Bucky is saying.

 

Steve scowls at his thumb, at the minuscule cut that throbs, and Bucky’s guiding him away from the counter to sit at the table. Bucky steps away, opening a cabinet at the far end of the kitchen, and returning with a small first aid kit. He reaches out again and Steve just lets him fuss. Bucky wipes the cut with an alcohol swab, then squeezes Neosporin from a tube onto the pad of a name brand Band-Aid before wrapping the end of his thumb in it.

 

“I don’t,” Steve says belatedly. Bucky glances up. “Have any family.”

 

Bucky gives him a sympathetic look and ducks his head again. “I’m sorry.”

 

“Dad was never around and Ma passed when I was sixteen,” Steve adds.

 

He does not add what killed his mother, because while Barnes has committed murder for his empire, Steve doesn’t think that birth is a fair excuse for it.

 

“So, you don’t gotta worry about anybody throwing a fit about how you’re fifteen years older than me,” he adds.

 

Bucky’s lips curl in a dry smile and he gives Steve’s hand a squeeze. “I don’t have much family, either. I got a sister, but she’s not talking to me.”

 

“Why not?” Steve asks. Barnes is asking him personal questions, he might as well give as good as he gets.

 

Bucky shrugs. “Part of the whole leader of the Russian mafia thing,” he says and leaves it there.

 

Steve only nods. “What happened to your parents?” he asks.

 

“No clue,” Bucky says. “Never met them. Becca, my sister, and me, we were raised in an orphanage.”

 

“Oh,” Steve mumbles. “I… I didn’t even know they had orphanages in the US anymore.”

 

“They don’t,” Bucky says then, “we were born in Romania.”

 

Steve blinks at him. Bucky smiles tightly. “But… You have a New York accent?”

 

“Been here twenty years,” Bucky laughs. “New York wears you down.”

 

Steve smiles weakly, lifting his hand to cradle his thumb to his chest. Bucky stands up, his hands cup Steve’s ears, and he kisses the top of his head. Steve blinks again, now at the red stain on the drying pink alcohol swab.

 

“I’ll cut up the rest of the stuff, yeah?” Bucky says, walking away. Steve nods, even though Bucky can’t see with his back turned.

 

He’s trying to decide whether this sort of attention, non-sexual affection, is something he even knows how to receive let alone reciprocate.

 

“So, the pan’s hot,” Bucky calls.

 

“Put the potatoes and onions in it,” Steve answers. “Turn the fire up to medium, add salt and pepper.”

 

“What do I do with the rest of the stuff?”

 

“Cut up the veggies, scramble the eggs and put all those in another pan.”

 

Steve usually cooks the potatoes and then uses the same pan for the eggs when they’re done, to lessen how many things he’ll have to wash. But Bucky can afford to use more than one pan, he probably has a maid.

 

“Right. Don’t you put cheese in eggs?”

 

Steve looks up finally. “Yeah,” he says. “Sure.”

 

Bucky glances back at him, then points at the fridge. Steve drops his hand and stands up, going in search of cheese. He sets out shredded cheddar, leans on the counter and watches Bucky take over the cooking. He feels very tired now, like the strain of his late night and little sleep in a strange place is catching up to him, so he props his face on his fist and shuts his eyes, hoping that Bucky will just let him be quiet and stop asking questions Steve doesn’t feel comfortable answering.

 

Bucky lets him be quiet. He plates the food, takes Steve’s elbow and guides him to the table. They sit and eat in the same silence, and halfway through his serving, Steve stops to yawn and pushes it away, feeling a little sick. He’d eaten too much.

 

“Full?” Bucky asks. He takes the plate without waiting for Steve to answer. He steps away, putting things away, and Steve yawns again before standing up.

 

“I think I’m ready to go home,” he says.

 

Bucky looks up from where he’s scraping food into a container, then nods. “I’ll call you a car,” he says.

 

Steve nods, then leaves the kitchen without another word to go get dressed. He rests his hand along the banister as he takes the stairs, then at the top, pauses to just look around.

 

He hadn’t really stopped to take in the decor when he arrived the night before, but looking now, the space is very minimalistic. Minimalistic, but not like it was meant to be that way. More like nobody bothered to fill up the empty spaces on the walls, to add touches of color to the black leather sofas and white shag rugs. The wallpaper is silver with paler vertical stripes, but that’s the most by way of decoration the penthouse has.

 

Steve walks into Bucky’s bedroom to find his clothes, thinking that the place would be a little less lonely if Bucky added some color.

 

He dresses in last night’s clothes, jeans and crop top and spiked boots, then checks his appearance in the bathroom mirror. His makeup, the little he’d been wearing, had washed off in the shower, but the edges of his lips still retain the lines of his lipstick. He grabs a cloth from the cupboard Bucky had taken the towels from and wets it, then wipes the red away, leaving him a little pale. Steve leaves the bathroom, trailing his nails like oxygenated blood over the silver brocades of the wallpaper. Some red would do this black and white marble penthouse a world of good.

 

Bucky’s in the foyer when he comes downstairs, frowning at his phone. Steve walks right up to him, then turns his face to the side, chin tilted up, waiting.

 

Bucky’s hand cups his shoulder before he bends to kiss his cheek. Steve holds back a smug smile.

 

“Car’s waiting downstairs,” Bucky says. “My driver’ll take you home.”

 

Steve nods. He hadn’t expected Bucky to take him home himself. Bucky’s other hand takes his jaw and pulls him in for a kiss to his mouth; rough, abrupt, as he always kisses. Steve hangs pliant in his grip, addicted to his attention.

 

Bucky releases him, then pats him on the ass. Steve gives him a smile, then steps into the waiting elevator. The bored attendant glances once at him, the same one as the night before, and away again. Steve’s smile grows smug in the elevator as he puts in his headphones and starts playing music, down the 30 floors from the penthouse to the marble lobby.

 

The receptionist watches him leave. Steve does the walk of shame, wearing last night’s clothes well into the new morning, with pride.

 

A new-looking Mercedes waits outside, a man in a suit and sunglasses and the faint bulge over his hip that betrays a gun. He holds out his hand to Steve as he approaches.

 

“I’m Luke Cage,” the suit says, “Mr. Barnes’s driver.”

 

“I’m Steve,” he answers, shaking his hand once. Given the man’s bulk, he assumes that Cage is more than just a driver. “You need directions?”

 

Cage shakes his head. “Mr. Barnes knows where you live.”

 

He opens the car door, the back seat, and Steve gets in, smug as can be. He settles into the fine leather interior, his nails like oxygenated blood tracing the hand stitching, as Cage gets into the driver’s seat and pulls into traffic. When he gets home, he’ll change and leave again to go visit Darcy, for a second opinion on how long wolves like to chase their prey.

 

At his apartment building, Cage wishes him a good day. Steve only waves before leaving, walking up to his building with a swing to his step. One of his neighbors is checking his mail, until Steve passes and he’s watching him walk. Steve takes the stairs, not touching the banister, pulling out his keys when he nears his door.

 

He kicks it shut behind him, dropping the keys onto the kitchen counter. He shoves his fingers into his hair to shake it out, then stops at the sight of Rollins sitting with his feet up on Steve’s coffee table.

 

Rollins waves with the pistol in his hand, the metal gleaming in the light coming from the slats in the blinds. He takes a drag on his cigarette, then stubs it out on the arm of Steve’s couch. He flicks it into a corner, its tip still trailing smoke.

 

“How was your night with James Barnes?” Rollins asks casually.

 

“Fine,” Steve answers. He stands by the door, wondering if he ought to be moving to grasp the spiked baseball bat by the TV.

 

“Fun?” Rollins asks. He gestures with the gun in his hand again. “Must’ve been. You were out all night.”

 

“Barnes gives some fantastic dick,” Steve says easily. He steps toward the TV sideways, movements slow.

 

Rumlow used to show up at his apartment at random times, but he never brought a gun. Rumlow was louder, but Rollins is probably more dangerous.

 

“I want you to keep your ears open,” Rollins says. He sets the gun on his thigh, watching Steve with dark eyes. Bucky watches him with the predatory hunger of a wolf, but Rollins looks at him with the irritated ownership of a magpie collecting shinies. It’s no less threatening, especially not with the gun in hand, but certainly less enjoyable.

 

“Well,” Steve starts, acting as unruffled by Rollins’s gun as he would Bucky’s wolf’s eyes, “if you want to know what sorts of things Barnes likes to be called during sex, then –”

 

“Shut up,” Rollins commands, tone sharpening into actual command, and Steve's mouth shuts against his will. He glares, though, because Rollins only commanded him to stop speaking. “We’re working on a plan," Rollins continues. "Keep your ears open for an opportunity.”

 

Steve wants to ask what kind of opportunity, but his jaw remains clamped shut.

 

Rollins stands up, pushing the gun into the waistband of his jeans. “You still owe Fang a debt, Rogers. It’ll take you years to pay it off, and by then you’ll be too old and wrinkled for even the novelty to be worth anything. But you do this for us, and we’ll forgive the debt.”

 

Steve merely raises his eyebrows at him.

 

“Good talk,” Rollins adds, smiling. “I’ll keep your spare key, shall I?”

 

Steve glares at his back as he leaves. Rollins slams the door and Steve hastens to put the chain on it. After that, he wrenches his jaw open and groans in frustration, sagging against the door.

 

He’d hoped that when Garrett was arrested, his debt would have been forgotten in the transition of a new leader, or at the very least, the debt would’ve fallen when Rumlow died. He doesn’t owe Brass Fang money, he owes them his life.

 

Then again, if he belongs to James Barnes, nothing and no one can touch him.

 

Steve pushes off the door and heads for his room, already stripping out of his clothes to change. He’s owed Brass Fang his life for six or so years now, and he can owe them his life for a few months longer until he’s tired of being chased.

 

He texts Darcy that he’s heading over, puts on joggers and a sweatshirt, grabs his keys and phone again to head to his car. It’s not actually his car, really, it belongs to the gang. Steve just gets to drive it.

 

Darcy opens the door on his first knock, dressed in sweatpants that hang low on her hips and a tank top that’s a little too small, her glasses perched on the end of her nose. “Spill!” she demands instantly.

 

Steve pushes past her and heads for her couch, immediately falling onto it with a grin.

 

“That is the face of someone who got some good dick!” Darcy laughs, dropping onto the coffee table next to him. “I wanna know everything!”

 

“Oh, my, God,” Steve says. He’s already forgetting about his debt to Fang to think about last night. “He’s mouthwatering, Darce.”

 

Darcy squeals, clapping her hands together. “Alright, alright, what happened?”

 

Steve starts at the beginning, with Barnes walking up to him and taking away his phone. She laughs when he tells about Bucky putting off letting Steve give him a blowjob to make him strip, then actually falls off the coffee table laughing too hard when he tells her that Bucky had him calling him sir.

 

“I didn’t even know I had that kink!” Steve laughs with her. Darcy clutches to her stomach, cackling. “But, holy shit! He had me begging, Darcy, when he finally got around to fucking me, he had me begging to come.”

 

“Kinky bastard!” Darcy forces out between gasps of laughter. “Oh, my God!”

 

“And then!” Steve adds, laughing still. “And then! I sucked him off again in the shower and he had me jerk off while doing it! It was phenomenal!”

 

“I’m dying!” Darcy wheezes. “You’re killing me!”

 

“I haven’t even gotten to the best part,” Steve says. Darcy props herself up on her elbows, gawking. “Barnes didn’t show up at the fight last week to put the fear of the Bratva into Rumlow. He came for me.

 

“You’re shitting me,” Darcy says instantly.

 

“He wants me to be his,” Steve insists. “His sub or something, but he wants me to quit working for Fang and just be his.”

 

“What, like a kept boy?” Darcy snorts.

 

“Yep,” Steve says with delight.

 

Darcy gawks. “Are you going to say yes?” she demands. She sits up on her knees, grabbing his hands. “Please tell me you’re going to say yes. Become the sugar baby you are in your heart, Stevie. Follow the call of the dark side.”

 

“Oh, I’m saying yes,” he assures her and she flops against the couch with a sigh of relief. “But I wanna make him wait on me for a little while. Test the waters.”

 

Extend the chase.

 

“Smart,” Darcy says. She’s calming down now. “Like, see what kinds of things he'll give you?”

 

Steve shrugs lightly. “I don’t even care about gifts. Mostly, I just want his attention.”

 

His attention, and then a foundation for the rest of their lives. If he can entrance Barnes now, he can keep him that way, and he can continue taking advantage of Barnes’s lonely heart to crawl out of poverty.

 

Darcy snorts. “You’re a child,” she says.

 

“A child who’s got James Barnes waiting on him,” Steve says proudly. “He told me to show up wearing a plug next week, so I’m thinking I need to borrow the skirt.”

 

Darcy’s eyebrows shoot up. “Oh?” she says, sitting up straighter to raise her eyebrows. She knows exactly which skirt he’s talking about. “Are you going to seduce him even though he’s already a sure thing?”

 

“Never hurts to keep ‘em interested,” Steve counters.

 

Darcy grins slowly. “You sly fox,” she says finally. “But if you get spunk or slick on it, you’re dry cleaning it.”

 

Steve mimics the grin. He doesn’t tell her about Bucky’s plans to take down Brass Fang or Rollins’s vague warning. He doesn’t confess his plan to seduce Barnes now and then every day the rest of his miserable life. She gives him the skirt he wants and he heads back to his apartment, already plotting the next few Fridays.

Chapter Text

attention, please

 

Again, the week takes way too long to pass, but come Friday, Steve’s twice as excited as he’d been the week before. In getting ready, he spends ten minutes opening himself up, until he can push a silicone plug just less massive than Bucky into his body and have it rest there comfortably. In that time, he feels the temptation to break rules one and two and nearly does, until he recalls Bucky’s feral grin telling him that he could come and breaking the rules becomes less tempting than the thought of following them.

 

A different lowlife picks him up. This one Steve remembers the name of, given that he’s one of the few men he’s fucked for free in the past half a decade. Billy Russo tips an imaginary hat and smiles as he walks up.

 

“You look like you’re about to go to a drag race,” Russo jokes.

 

Steve shrugs. He’s wearing a sleeveless halter top cut just above the hips, the sides panels of black lace, a metal ring in the collar to bunch the fabric together before a strap wraps around his neck. His boots come up to his knees, red leather with four inch heels and he has a bomber jacket that matches. He's wearing the same oxygenated blood lipstick that will stay on for hours and nails like claws, this time a chain that connects the hoop in the cartilage of his ear to the stud in his lobes and a red velvet band around his neck. This isn’t odd for him. What catches Russo’s gaze is the skirt.

 

It’s short, falling only a few inches past his hips and if he bent over, his ass would be on full display. He’s wearing black thigh highs that stop below the hem, and the skirt is an iridescent, mother-of-pearl pink that turns heads. If he bent over, not only would be his ass be on full display, but all that he is and isn’t wearing under it, too.

 

Russo has seen him in this skirt before. He smirks and reaches out a hand to push under its hem, and Steve smacks it away.

 

“Don’t make me late,” he warns.

 

Russo grins, shrugging. “You gotta be there at eight, right? It’s only seven twenty.”

 

“Just drive,” Steve says, pushing past him to get into the car. He won’t miss the guys who assume they got the right to cop a feel any time they like just because they’re the ones selling his favors.

 

Like everything else Brass Fang and its lowlifes have to offer, Russo is a pale imitation of Barnes, slouching in a shirt that’s wrinkled, jeans instead of tailored slacks, unshaven in a way that just looks careless. Steve looks out the window and keeps a straight face when Russo hits a pothole and the plug in his ass is jostled into a good spot.

 

Russo parks in front of Bucky’s building, but doesn’t unlock the doors to let Steve out right away. He peers out the side window while Steve crosses his arms and raises his eyebrows.

 

“Y’know, if I weren’t so attached to that tight ass, I’d encourage you to stick around Barnes,” he comments in mild awe.

 

Steve rolls his eyes, then reaches past him and unlocks the doors himself. Russo smirks.

 

“Lucky for me, I’m not very attached to you and your four inches,” Steve says, and gets out.

 

“You wound me, Stevie!” Russo shouts after him. Steve slams the door.

 

The doorman raises his eyebrows at him in mild shock.

 

“Steve Rogers,” he says before the doorman can ask.

 

The doorman opens the door, eyebrows still raised. Steve strides past, the hem of the skirt fluttering in the breeze of his stride.

 

He goes right up to the elevator this time. The receptionist looks up and her jaw drops to watch him pass, the operator of the elevator’s bored expression shifts, and Steve ignores them all.

 

“The penthouse,” he says, crossing his arms and standing with his weight on one leg. This time, he has an overnight bag.

 

“Thanks,” he calls over his shoulder to the operator when the elevator shuts behind him.

 

The foyer is empty. There are no voices, and Steve is not interested in waiting. He goes directly upstairs, finding the office door shut and the bedroom door open. He leaves his bag in the bedroom, then walks up to the office, heart pounding, and pushes open the door.

 

Bucky glances up once from his laptop, then looks up and leaves his gaze up. Steve smiles, proud, at Bucky’s dilating pupils.

 

“I hope you’re nearly done,” he says, walking up and past the desk. He puts a sway in his step, lets the skirt’s hem flow and the clear gap between it and the top of his stockings show. Bucky spins his chair around to face him, eyebrows high on his forehead and his gaze on Steve’s thighs. “I want your attention.”

 

“You have it,” Bucky says, shutting the laptop and putting it away.

 

Steve grins. Bucky’s hands reach out and he steps closer, until he’s standing between Bucky’s knees. Bucky looks him up and down, then his palm presses to the stocking on his leg. His gaze fixes on Steve's skirt as his hand slides under the hem of the skirt.

 

Steve does not slap his hand away, obviously. Bucky’s hand lifts the hem as he pushes his palm up further, then his eyebrows lift again as his hand continues up Steve’s leg and find no additional fabric in its path.

 

“Are you not wearing underwear?” Bucky asks softly.

 

Steve tilts his head to the side, grinning still. “Why don’t you check and see?”

 

There are the wolf’s eyes, the predator’s hunger. Bucky’s hand rests on the crest of his hip, then pushes around to his ass. He grins, too, slowly as his fingers find Steve’s skin bare. Steve lifts a knee and climbs into Bucky’s lap, the skirt lifting at the momentum to flare over his hips and thighs and leaves his ass exposed under it. Bucky’s hand cups his ass, then the other reaches up and presses to Steve’s throat. Steve lifts his chin, and Bucky gently squeezes both hands. His fingers trail farther in, then stop.

 

His grin turns hungrier. “You’re wearing a plug,” he murmurs.

 

“You asked me to,” Steve purrs. He puts his hands on Bucky’s chest, pushes up to start slipping the buttons free. “You wanna fuck me in your office chair, sir?” he asks in a breathy tone.

 

“You wanna get fucked in my office chair?” Bucky growls.

 

Steve presses their lips together and grinds down to answer. Bucky’s fingers dig into his ass, his other hand shifting to grasp his jaw, and Bucky takes control of the kiss in seconds. Steve takes his hands down until he’s pulled Bucky’s shirt free of his slacks, then thumbs open the button of his pants.

 

“Eager, baby boy?” Bucky asks. He moves his lips and Steve throws his head back so Bucky can bite and kiss his neck.

 

“I’ve had this thing in me for over an hour,” Steve says, grinding down again. “I didn’t break your rules, sir.”

 

“Oh?” Bucky says. His hand moves, abrupt, grabbing and Steve gasps. “Hmm. You gonna promise me you didn’t touch yourself?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve answers in an exhale, rolling his hips for friction. “Please, sir, please fuck me.”

 

“You’re dripping,” Bucky says, tone pleased, as his hand moves back around to run his fingers down the line of his ass. “This little thing’s not gonna be big enough to prepare you for me, is it, baby boy?”

 

“'S three inches 'round,” Steve whines. Bucky bites just below his jaw, toying with the end of the silicone, and he whimpers again.

 

“Really? You flatter me, doll.”

 

“Not long enough,” Steve mumbles. He presses into Bucky’s hand, his head still tilted back. “I can take you now anyway. Please?”

 

“You’ll take me if I say you can,” Bucky tells him, calm and unruffled, and Steve’s squirming against his hand. He gasps and hangs limp when Bucky slides the plug free, leaving him feeling open and exposed and empty. He hangs against Bucky’s shoulder while Bucky calmly pulls a handkerchief from his breast pocket and lays it and then the plug on the desk, but lifts his head when he returns a hand to his throat.

 

“Let’s see, hmm?” Bucky tells him, pushing a hand back under Steve’s skirt.

 

He trails two fingers down the line of his ass and Steve drops his head back again. Bucky’s palm presses flat to his esophagus so that he feels it every time he swallows or even breathes. Bucky hums, thoughtful, and adds a third finger with ease. Steve rolls his hips, his lips parting for his mouth to hang open, and Bucky squeezes his throat.

 

“Before we get started, remind me what your safe words are?”

 

“Are ya gonna ask that every time?” Steve complains. “Brooklyn to stop, Jersey to slow.”

 

“I am going to ask every time," Bucky confirms coolly. "What do you do if you can’t talk?”

 

Steve grips the hem of his undershirt, ripping it up, then presses his palm to Bucky’s abs and taps three times.

 

“Very good, baby,” Bucky says and Steve pushes both hands up Bucky’s shirt to hug his waist. “You’re still tight,” he adds calmly.

 

“You gotta pop my cherry again, sir,” Steve reminds him with another roll of his hips. Bucky squeezes his throat again and he exhales a heavy sound.

 

Bucky taps his pinky against the line of his ass, making Steve gasp, then pulls it up.

 

“I think you’re ready,” Bucky says and Steve grins in relief. He reaches into a pocket and takes out a thin foil packet, holding it out to Steve. “Get my cock out, doll.”

 

Steve shudders once, rolls his hips, then hastens to move as Bucky pulls out his fingers. He finishes unbuttoning Bucky’s slacks, yanks on the zipper, pulls down on the waistband of Bucky’s boxers. He opens the condom packet with his teeth, since his hands are shaking now. Bucky relaxes in his chair, his hands pulling from Steve’s body to rest on the arms of the chair, and the chair tips back with his weight as he slouches to push his hips out.

 

“Fuck yourself on my lap, baby boy,” he orders Steve.

 

Steve lifts onto his knees, hands touching anything he can reach, until he sinks back down and moans.

 

“There you go,” Bucky says, “sweet little whore, second you got something up that greedy ass, you lose your mind.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve agrees, grinning. He rolls his hips, then tilts his head back, hoping for Bucky to reach up and grasp his throat.

 

“You want something, baby?”

 

“Yessir,” he mumbles, lifting his chin further.

 

“What do you want, baby boy?”

 

“Bucky,” he complains, his throat exposed like an invitation.

 

“What do you call me, baby?”

 

“Sir,” Steve corrects. He lowers his chin a moment, then lifts it again, inviting, but Bucky doesn’t move. He sits relaxed in his chair, watching Steve writhe without batting an eye. His wolf’s eyes are wide and dilated and predatory, but he sits calmly.

 

“You want something, you gotta ask for it,” Bucky tells him.

 

Steve swallows, looking through his lashes to watch Bucky’s wolf’s eyes trail the movement down his throat, but Bucky doesn’t move. Steve’s not going to ask for that, Bucky’s just supposed to do it. So he rocks his hips faster, then grasps the arms of the chair with both hands and leans back. Bucky snatches his waist at last and Steve grins as he bends over backwards, using the new angle to get deeper, until he gets just the right spot and he moans again.

 

“Fucking hell,” Bucky mumbles and Steve laughs, a sigh cutting into it. “You done this before, baby?”’

 

“‘S amazing,” Steve says, vaguely agreeing, pulling and pushing, getting that spot again and again. “‘M very bendy, sir.”

 

“Fuck,” Bucky mutters again and Steve grins madly, eyes falling shut to keep going, to keep up the push and the pull to nail his own sweet spot over and over. Bucky curls an arm around his waist, then the other pushes up his chest and Steve feels satisfied pride when his fingers close around his throat that he didn’t have to ask after all. He feels Bucky’s thighs part under him, then Bucky’s gripping his hip and his hand leaves his throat to curl around his back again.

 

“Let go,” Bucky says.

 

Steve instantly releases his grip on the arms of the chair. Bucky catches his weight, Steve’s vision goes out for a second as everything goes deeper and harder, then Bucky’s standing. Steve trusts his arms and hangs in his grip, then his back is landing on a hard surface and Bucky’s gripping his hips to pull him flush against his body. Steve cries out, falling back on the surface as his arms drop above his head and Bucky slams into him. His hands close on the edge of it, nails gripping something with hardly any give. The desk. Bucky has him lying on the desk. Bucky’s fucking him on his desk.

 

Steve grins and locks his legs around Bucky’s hips.

 

“Open your eyes, baby boy,” Bucky growls. “Look at me.”

 

Steve rips his eyes open, finds Bucky’s wolfishly hungry gaze and grins, watching his own chest and fall in his panting. Bucky pushes his right hand up Steve’s body to reach his neck and Steve lets his head fall back, barely holding Bucky’s gaze, for Bucky to curl his fingers around his throat.

 

Bucky’s easily the best fuck Steve’s ever had; its an experience, not just a moment of fun. His whole body sings in pleasure as Bucky has his way, the threat of a chokehold on his neck drives adrenaline into his veins, the stimulation dumps endorphins into the mix and Steve is learning why young men are allowed short refractory periods. Bucky, nearing forty, has the stamina of an ox, and he’s still going long after most guys that get their dicks up Steve’s ass.

 

And Bucky looks down at him with his wolf’s eyes, with the predatory and possessive and proud hunger, and Steve is definitely addicted already.

 

“You getting close, baby?” Bucky asks in a growl.

 

“Yessir,” Steve gasps.

 

“I’m lovin’ your enthusiasm,” Bucky says. “That you plopped into my lap and were ready for my cock right away just like I asked. You’re doing so good at listening, baby.”

 

“Can I come?” Steve asks breathlessly. “Please, sir, can I come?”

 

“Not yet,” Bucky growls and Steve whines. “I want my fun first.”

 

“Can I come if you come?” Steve asks. “Please, sir, can we come at the same time?”

 

Bucky hums, like he’s considering, and squeezes his fingertips on Steve’s throat. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you? You’re such a slut for cock I can make you finish by coming myself.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve promises, even though he’s never done that before.

 

“My little cockslut,” Bucky growls and Steve’s entire body shudders. “You’re so good at taking my cock, like you were born for just this.”

 

“Yessir!” Steve sighs.

 

“I want you so wrecked all you can say is yes, sir, ” Bucky half spits out, and then – then, marvel of all marvels, he starts going harder.

 

Steve cries out, gasps, moans, does all three at once or repeats them, and Bucky’s palm presses almost too tight to his throat, an illusion of a choking.

 

“I want you so fucked out,” Bucky says, “you don’t remember your name, baby boy. Then I’m going to come all over your tight little ass and then you can come.”

 

“Yessir!” he moans.

 

Bucky’s getting what he wants; Steve’s brain is clocking out cell by cell to give in to the onslaught of bliss. His toes curl in his boots. His nails dig into the wood of the desk. He’s going to scratch the finish, but he doesn’t care. He’s close, so close to tipping over the edge and Bucky’s still hitting his sweet spot over and over, rough and fast and hard, and Steve’s sure he’s unable to speak at all alone get out the words yes, sir.

 

“That’s what I like to see, baby boy,” Bucky growls above him. “That’s real good, baby, you’re fucking excellent at this, lookin’ gorgeous and just fuckin’ takin’ it.”

 

Sir, ” Steve gasps, and he doesn’t even have words to follow it.

 

“There you go,” Bucky praises, “pretty slut can’t think. That’s just what I want, baby.”

 

Yessir!

 

“You wanna come, baby?”

 

Yessir! Yessir, yessir, yes –”

 

“Not until I had my finish, baby.”

 

Steve is crying, now. He’s gasping, tears leaking from his eyes, and Bucky grins, wolfish. His fingertips squeeze and Steve chokes on nothing, then Bucky’s grunting and folding over his body.

 

“Come,” he growls into Steve’s exposed stomach.

 

Steve gasps and his pleasure bursts. He’ll have to dry clean Darcy’s skirt before he gives it back, a vague thought in the back of his head says.

 

Bucky’s hands pass over his body. They push under his shirt and sweep over his chest. Fingertips run over the dips between his ribs. Bucky’s lips touch his navel, suck on the piercing for a second, then move on to suck marks into his chest. Steve’s hands release the desk, his nails feeling raw from digging into the wood.

 

“I think I scratched your desk,” Steve mumbles.

 

“Good,” Bucky says, then crashes their lips together.

 

Steve coils his arms around Bucky’s neck, pushing one hand under his shirt and the other into his slicked back hair, breaking the gel and messing it up. Bucky pushes his hands under Steve’s waist, then lifts up, picking him up off the desk’s surface. Steve clings to his neck and shoulders, kissing him with an open mouth, letting Bucky fuck his mouth with his tongue.

 

Bucky sits down again, Steve still anchored in his lap by his swollen knot. Bucky breaks the kiss, ducks into his neck and Steve lifts his chin to invite him in. Bucky nudges his nose against the line of Steve’s throat, almost scent-marking him.

 

“Fine?” Bucky mumbles, his movements stopping.

 

Steve nods. Bucky kisses his throat and nuzzles his neck. Steve’s never been scent-marked by anyone other than his mother before, or not with his consent, but this feels… nice. This non-sexual attention, this pure affection from Bucky still manages to hit something in the back of his brain and make him want to go limp and purr, compounding his post-coiital buzz. Bucky lets up after a few seconds, settling back against the sofa. Steve lets his brain come back online and looks around; they’re in the parlor now, Bucky’s sprawled on the couch and leaning against its arm.

 

“I’m hungry,” he says then.

 

Bucky raises his eyebrows. “I’m not cooking right now.”

 

Steve slips his arms past Bucky’s waist to hang on his chest. “Take-out’s fine,” he mumbles.

 

Then he sits up again and pulls his jacket off, tossing it off to the side. Bucky smirks a little.

 

“‘M hot,” Steve says in his defense. He looks over his shoulder to tug his boots off, dropping them onto the floor, then flops against Bucky’s chest again.

 

“How’s Chinese?” Bucky asks.

 

Steve nods into Bucky’s neck. His nose brushes Bucky’s skin and he considers something. Bucky pulls his phone out of his pocket and Steve presses his nose into Bucky’s neck. Carefully, he nuzzles his face into Bucky’s skin to scent-mark him.

 

Bucky’s hand touches his back, almost absently, and rubs up and down before pushing under Steve’s shirt to rest against his skin. Steve smiles to himself, relaxing as Bucky mindlessly pets him.

 

“I’m spending the night,” Steve says then.

 

“Sure,” Bucky answers. “You like anything in particular?”

 

“Hot and sour soup.”

 

Bucky pecks his temple, then. Steve shifts to watch him ordering the food on his phone, fighting fatigue. He feels remarkably comfortable there, even though Bucky’s knot is still swollen in his body and usually Steve tries not to let that happen. He feels warm and satisfied, pleased by Bucky’s hand brushing up and down his back.

 

“When I can pull out, I have something to give you,” Bucky says abruptly.

 

“Is it my nightstand?” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky chuckles. “No, but I got you one. It’s a present.”

 

Steve furrows his brows and purses his lips, hidden by Bucky’s jaw. He hadn’t anticipated Bucky wanting to give him gifts so quickly.

 

“Mmkay,” is what he ends up saying. He tucks his face into Bucky’s shirt collar. “Wake me up later.”

 

Bucky chuckles again and Steve ignores it, focusing on his palm caressing gently up and down his spine. He falls asleep quickly, he always does, and now he falls asleep breathing the calming scent of cigar smoke, expensive soaps and cologne, and the fresh scent of Bucky’s skin like woodsmoke. He could fall asleep like this every day. Soon enough and if all goes well, he will fall asleep like this every day.

 

When Bucky nudges him awake, Steve sits up and yawns. He frowns, wriggles a bit in Bucky’s lap to test the give, then laughs when Bucky sucks in a breath and grabs his hips.

 

“Do I get my present now?” Steve asks. He lifts up, off Bucky’s lap and tugs his skirt over his bare ass.

 

Bucky raises his eyebrows, then goes about straightening his own appearance. He pulls his undershirt over his abs, removes the condom and ties it off, then stands up without fixing his shirt.

 

“Upstairs,” Bucky tells him.

 

Steve reaches up and pecks him on the cheek, then yelps and giggles when Bucky smacks him on the ass as he darts away. Steve grabs the banister, runs up the stairs, and at the top pauses, to see Bucky leaning on the banister with a smile. He’s thrown out the condom already.

 

“What?” Steve asks.

 

“I think you’re gonna have to come over in no underwear more often,” Bucky says carefully.

 

Steve sucks in a breath, a grin growing as he recognizes the wolf’s eyes. Bucky takes the stairs slower, then grabs him by the waist and presses a kiss to his lips. Steve coils his arms around Bucky’s neck, melting against his body, as Bucky’s hands pass from his waist to his hips and under the skirt to squeeze his bare ass.

 

Bucky pulls back, leaving Steve panting. He brushes at Steve’s bangs, now only holding him by the waist. “I like looking up and seeing what’s mine.”

 

Steve grins, purposefully shy, and lowers his lashes so he can look up at Bucky with coy hesitance. “Do you?”

 

Bucky only flicks his eyebrows up. “Have you thought any about my request?”

 

Steve thinks carefully about what to do next. He pushes his tongue between his lips slowly, draws it back in and bites his lower lip, then drags his teeth across his lip intentionally. He leans back in Bucky’s grip to pull their hips together but their chests apart. He lifts his chin, as though without meaning to.

 

Bucky looks first at his lips, then at his neck.

 

“A little,” Steve says softly.

 

“And?” Bucky prompts, tone measured. Calculating. Hungry. And, though it’s very well hidden, a level of lonely.

 

“I don’t know yet,” Steve murmurs. He pulls a little closer, lifting onto his toes, to curl a lock of Bucky’s hair around a finger. “I’ve never done something like that," he admits, using technical truths to his advantage. "Been in a serious relationship like that.”

 

“Take your time,” Bucky reminds him, once again handing the power into Steve’s inviting posture.

 

Steve drops his gaze to Bucky’s lips and nods. “Thank you,” he whispers, still looking at Bucky’s lips. He tips his head up a little more.

 

Bucky leans down and presses their lips together, in a gentler kiss than any they’d ever shared. Steve, again, melts, but now with a purpose. His words will infer hesitance, but his body language is saying yes.

 

Despite his plan to draw out the chase, his heart is already saying yes, sir.

 

Bucky pulls back from the kiss, their lips disconnecting slowly, and Steve sinks back onto his heels. He leaves his gaze on Bucky’s mouth, which is by now made pink by the transfer of Steve’s matte lipstick, so his eyes are heavily lidded, and Bucky lifts a hand to touch his mouth with a thumb. Steve kisses it, too.

 

“You take your time,” Bucky murmurs again, like he’s read Steve’s body language and knows that he will say yes. Steve nods, as though he’s gone mindless again, and Bucky squeezes his waist. “You want your present or what?”

 

“Yes,” Steve says with a grin and slips from Bucky’s grip. “Where is it?”

 

Bucky points towards his bedroom and Steve darts away to duck into it. Bucky follows, slower, while Steve sits down on the bed to wait. He glances over his shoulder once and smiles, pleased, at the sight of a nightstand on both sides of the bed.

 

Bucky picks a small box off the dresser. It’s black with a white bow stuck on top, but isn’t wrapped. Steve takes it, settles onto the bed with his legs crossed, and works the top off the box.

 

Inside is a phone. A brand new iPhone X.

 

Steve looks up at Bucky with parted lips, but this time it’s genuine.

 

“Your phone is shit,” Bucky says with a shrug. “It’s prepaid and everything.”

 

“Brass Fang pays for it,” Steve mumbles then. He looks back at the phone. He picks it up from the molded foam and runs his fingers over the cold surface of the screen, turning it in his hands.

 

“You can pick out a case for it later,” Bucky adds. “It’s already activated, on my account, and it’s got all my cards on it, so if you ever need something, you can just get it.”

 

Steve’s eyes nearly pop out of his head at that. He gapes at the phone. Bucky has just handed him his credit cards. Steve hasn’t even said yes to him yet!

 

He swallows carefully, pressing his lips between his teeth. He hasn’t said yes yet. Bucky could be trying to just buy him at this point.

 

He ignores those thoughts. Bucky can try and buy him if he wants, Steve’s already made up his mind and he’s just holding out to tease. And really, Bucky has already bought him, by purely having the money to do so.

 

So he looks up at Bucky and grins, shifting onto his knees to get more on his level. “Thank you, sir,” he says, and kisses his cheek.

 

Bucky touches a hand to his waist, eyes searching his face. Steve barely parts his lips, then Bucky’s leaning in and claiming his mouth again. Steve shuffles on his knees until he’s pressed to Bucky’s lean body, arms curling around his neck, and the brand new phone held in his fist.

 

He can’t wait to text Darcy about this. She’ll be so jealous.

 

Then Bucky lifts him off the bed and sets him on his feet. With one arm. Steve is thrilled.

 

“Go downstairs and find a movie to watch,” Bucky tells him. “The food should be here soon.”

 

“What are you doing?” Steve asks, not moving.

 

“I gotta finish up a couple of things,” he says. Bucky pats him on the ass, squeezing briefly, then turns him towards the door. “I’ll be down in a minute.”

 

Steve pouts while Bucky ducks back into his office. But he goes downstairs and drops onto the sofa to turn on the TV and find a movie. Then, glancing at the stairs, he grabs his jacket off the floor and tugs his old phone out of the pocket. Darcy won’t believe this.

 

Mr. Darcy:

You’re about to get a text from a new number

Ok?

 

With a grin, Steve tosses the old, prepaid imitation of a smartphone onto the sofa cushion and powers on the brand new iPhone X. He knows Darcy’s number by heart, so when the phone powered on and loaded, he simply opens messages and drafts the first text this phone would send.

 

718-663-7415

Bucky gave me an iPhone X

 

It takes a second for her to reply and Steve enters her number into the contacts. He would have thought that the contacts book would be empty, but there is one there already.

 

He draws his legs up under him with a grin. The contact is another New York number, labeled Sir. He’s definitely going to abuse having Bucky’s number.

 

The phone dings, the generic Apple text tone. He'll have to change it, it’s annoying.

 

Mr. Darcy:

Steve?

 

Steve is still grinning as he answers.

 

Mr. Darcy:

Yep! From an iPhone X.

I want a Barnes.

Nope. Mine. ;P

 

Steve continues to grin at nothing. He grabs the TV remotes, taps his chin as he thinks of what to watch. He opens Amazon Prime and scrolls through popular movies for a minute, then flops to the side on the sofa to make a face at the TV; none of them look that interesting.

 

They could watch Fifty Shades Darker. Though, Steve’s not sure Bucky would appreciate the joke. In the end, he picks the new Jumanji because he wants to see Dwayne Johnson’s biceps on Bucky’s massive TV.

 

Bucky’s still upstairs, so he works on moving over his contacts. He doesn’t bother transferring Rumlow or Garrett’s numbers, a few exes and he’s already added Darcy. He adds his mother’s number, even though she’s been dead seven years. A minute after he’s just finished transferring his contacts, the elevator behind him dings. Steve sits up, having ended up sprawling on the sofa, and a delivery boy frowns before waving.

 

“Uh, order for Barnes?” he says.

 

Steve purses his lips. “He’s still in his office,” he says. “They just let you in?”

 

The delivery boy shrugs. “The big dudes are still in the elevator,” he says, pointing. Steve leans to look behind him, and there are two men in suits and sunglasses standing with their arms folded to likely hide the shape of their pistols under their jackets. “‘Sides, I come here three or four times a week. Mr. Barnes tips good,” he adds with a grin.

 

Steve shrugs and gets up. The delivery boy’s eyes bulge at the sight of his skirt and thigh highs, but Steve ignores this and takes the bag of food from him.

 

“Uh, can you sign?” the boy asks, holding out a receipt and pen. Steve takes it, signs at the bottom, then taps the pen against his lower lip to think about a tip.

 

“How much does he usually give?” Steve asks, looking up. Considering Bucky gave him twelve hundred for sitting in his lap, he has no clue.

 

“Thirty bucks,” the delivery boy says, grinning.

 

Steve nods, then tips sixty. The delivery boy grins bigger at the receipt when Steve hands it back, then waves as he gets back into the elevator. Steve puts the bag on the coffee table, then looks up at the balcony with his hands on his hips.

 

He checks the time on his new phone, then takes the stairs up and walks into Bucky’s office.

 

“Hey,” he says, rapping his knuckles against the door once to catch Bucky’s attention, “the food’s here.”

 

Bucky glances up, then back at his laptop. “Gimme a minute.”

 

Steve curls his lip downward, then walks around the desk and spins Bucky’s chair around. Bucky blinks, raising his eyebrows at the angle where his laptop was.

 

“It’s been half an hour,” Steve says, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

Bucky looks up at him finally, then leans back in his chair and raises his eyebrows further. “I said, gimme a minute,” he says firmly.

 

Steve makes a displeased face. He puts a knee by Bucky’s leg and plops into his lap, effectively blocking his access to his work. “The food will get cold,” he says insistently. “I got Jumanji off Amazon. Punch out.”

 

Bucky’s expression is mildly amused or mildly disbelieving. Or both. “You meant it when you said you was gonna interrupt me whenever you wanted, didn’t you?”

 

“Duh,” Steve answers.

 

Bucky lets out a quiet laugh, huff, or loud exhale. He lifts his arms to lock his fingers behind his head, lips curling in a disbelieving manner.

 

“Alright,” he says, “let’s have a chat about that.”

 

Steve crosses his arms over his chest again, giving him an unimpressed look. “I ain’t rolling over if you’re only gonna pay attention to me when you want sex.”

 

Bucky laughs, then drops his arms to catch his waist and tug him in for a quick kiss. Steve retains the unimpressed look. “Alright, alright, I ain’t gonna ignore you all day ‘til I’m horny, but I do seriously got work I gotta do,” Bucky says. “If I got a meeting or I’m in the middle of business, I can’t drop everything to watch a movie with you.”

 

“It’s past ten,” Steve complains.

 

“I know, I know, and I’ll come downstairs,” Bucky says, giving his waist a squeeze. “But like last Saturday? If that hadn’t been my people, you might have messed up the meeting.”

 

“Quit having meetings on Saturdays,” Steve counters.

 

“How about this,” Bucky offers, “if I’m in a meeting or I’m doin’ business and it’s during the day, just wait, okay?”

 

“If it’s before seven and after eight,” Steve says. “Weekdays only.”

 

Bucky makes a face, like he wants to argue, and Steve curls his lips downward again, leaning back from him. Bucky sighs, rolling his eyes, and Steve pokes him in the chest.

 

“You work too much,” he says, and Bucky makes another disgruntled face, “isn’t it s’posed to be my job to make you relax?”

 

Bucky flicks his eyebrows up. “It can be,” he says, reminding Steve that he hasn’t said yes yet.

 

“Well, if we’re doing this,” Steve says, “you work too much and it’s almost eleven on a Friday.”

 

Bucky smirks. “Nat keeps telling me the same thing, y’know?”

 

“And no getting up before noon on Saturdays,” Steve adds, remembering last weekend.

 

Bucky flat out laughs, then locks his arms behind Steve’s back and stands up. Steve grabs him around the neck, putting his legs around his waist, and allows himself to be carried down the stairs to the parlor.

 

“How are you liking the phone?” Bucky asks, putting Steve onto the sofa.

 

“It’s great,” Steve says, grinning. “I texted my friend Darcy, she’s jealous.”

 

Bucky smiles, sitting down next to him and reaching for the bag of food. “Oh, did you leave a tip?” he asks, pausing to look back at Steve.

 

“Yep,” he says. “Boy said you tipped thirty, so I tipped sixty.”

 

Bucky raises one eyebrow. “That’s more than the actual order, y’know.”

 

“What?” Steve says in his defense. “I like spending your money.”

 

Bucky snorts, unpacking the food. “Did you buy or rent this movie, then?”

 

“Buy,” Steve says happily. Bucky rolls his eyes. Steve helps him to unpack it, then Bucky gets up and returns a minute later with spoons and two forks. He starts the movie and Steve takes the pint of hot and sour soup, settling against the couch cushions. Bucky flops next to him, a container of lo mein in hand, then nudges him with his knee. Steve glances at him, then Bucky drops his free arm, the lo mein in his lap, onto the back of the couch. After a second, Steve realizes that Bucky’s posture is now inviting.

 

Steve shifts, until he’s settling against Bucky’s side. Bucky drops his arm to curl around his shoulders, and Steve finds he likes the way his body heat seems to reach down to the marrow of his bones.

 

Dwayne Johnson’s biceps look magnificent on Bucky’s massive TV. Steve gets through the hot and sour soup and a little orange chicken before he starts feeling ill, then just curls into Bucky’s ribs to watch the movie. When it’s over, he’s falling asleep, and Bucky picks him up again. Steve’s enjoying being carried, and Bucky carries him up the stairs to settle him on the bed.

 

Steve yawns, sitting up, then points toward his overnight bag by the dresser. Bucky glances over his shoulder, then laughs softly and goes to get it. Steve takes it, digs around for his kit bag, then heads for the bathroom. Bucky follows, finally removing his unbuttoned dress shirt. Steve sets to wiping the makeup off his face while Bucky brushes his teeth, the two of them standing side by side at the vanity and sharing the single sink.

 

“You’re not doing anything tomorrow, are you?” Steve asks, going for his own toothbrush. He steals some of Bucky’s toothpaste instead of using his own.

 

Bucky shrugs. “I got some people coming over for a talk, then I got a meeting uptown.”

 

Steve pouts. “I was hoping we could be lazy.”

 

Bucky laughs again, shaking his head and bending to rinse his mouth. Steve raises his toothbrush, then pauses to yawn.

 

Bucky kisses his temple with a sharp smack and Steve blinks a few times, startled, while Bucky pats his ass and turns away.

 

“Saturdays are for laziness!” Steve calls after him. Bucky laughs again. Steve rolls his eyes and brushes his teeth.

 

He puts away everything but the toothbrush, which he sticks into the holder next to Bucky’s. He’s got another one at home. Walking back into the bedroom, he finds Bucky lounging on the bed in his boxers, holding a tablet and frowning at it. Steve pulls pajamas from his bag, an overlong shirt, plus briefs, then tugs his shirt over his head.

 

Bucky glances up once, then lowers the tablet while Steve pushes the skirt off his hips. Steve flicks his gaze up, smiles, and rolls off the stockings.

 

“Enjoying the view?” he asks.

 

“Immensely,” Bucky answers. Steve smiles a little wider, dressing again.

 

Halfway through pulling on his underwear, Steve sees the tee shirt folded on the end of the bed. Snapping the waistband of his briefs, he straightens up, looking at it, then picks it up instead of his own shirt. He pulls Bucky’s shirt on, smooths it out, then puts away the shirt he’d brought. Bucky returns his gaze to his tablet, lip curled at the corner. Steve crawls under the blankets, sets his new iPhone onto the nightstand and goes to look for a charger, before spotting a wireless one. Feeling fancy, Steve sets the phone on it, and the screen lights up, a light bloop announcing that the phone is charging. He flicks off the lamp on his side, then settles against the pillows.

 

Bucky’s reading something on his tablet, and when Steve shifts closer, lifting onto an elbow, he sees that it’s a spreadsheet.

 

“Bucky,” he whines, “quit working for five minutes, will you?”

 

“Just a second,” Bucky says. Steve scowls, watching him checking figures or something. He sits up fully, the neck of the overlarge shirt slipping off his shoulder, and prods Bucky’s chest.

 

“Cuddle me,” he demands.

 

Bucky exhales through his nose, checks the time on the tablet, then, shaking his head, locks the screen and sets it aside. He switches the lamp off, does something on his phone to make all the other lights turn off, then settles into the bed, an arm unfolding towards Steve. Steve takes up the space Bucky’s opened up, draping an arm over his waist, and shuts his eyes to breathe in.

 

The scents of cigar smoke and expensive cologne are gone now, having been in Bucky’s clothes and not his skin, but still he smells like rich soap and woodsmoke. Bucky’s skin is warm and smooth, the light hair on his chest and stomach soft, and Steve can feel his pulse thrumming under his nose. He lets his palm rest flat on the swell of Bucky’s pectoral muscle, feeling the heat, like perfumed steam, permeate the pores of his skin to work out the tension in his shoulders and neck. Feels it seep down and settle into the red marrow of his bones, like it’s attracted to his blood and longs to bind to his new cells. Like it’s as lonely as its maker and wants to cling to him even when they part. He inhales, deep, his body slipping from consciousness with woodsy warmth enveloping him. Without the sounds of the city that never sleeps to keep him up, Steve falls asleep listening to Bucky breathe.

Chapter Text

wolf's teeth

 

Like the week before, the bed is cold when Steve wakes up. He sits up, rubbing his eyes with his knuckles, then drops his arms to let his shoulders sag as he scowls at the divet in Bucky’s pillow. He hears voices in the office again and scowls harder when he checks the time; it isn’t yet nine, again.

 

He grabs a pair of loose shorts that he’d packed on a whim and tugs them on under Bucky’s shirt, not wanting to wander without pants in case Bucky has guests, then steps out of the bedroom and heads for the office. The door’s open, there are people arguing, and Bucky sees him stick his head in. He sits with his feet up behind his desk, smoking a cigar and scowling, until Steve catches his eye and it becomes a placating look. He waves a hand, cigar tucked between his fingers and trailing smoke, in a dismissive gesture and Steve only scowls back.

 

They are not the three men and Romanoff from last week, though Romanoff is here. She’s sitting on the edge of Bucky’s desk and picking at her nails with a knife. She’s sitting on the edge of her boss’s desk, the desk where just last night Steve was splayed out for Bucky’s pleasure, and she is confident, like she belongs there. There are faint scratches in the finish next to her thigh that match the wear in Steve’s acrylic nails.

 

Steve pushes into the room, the talk disrupts, and Bucky makes a displeased face at him. Steve ignores the face, but Bucky takes his legs off the desk when he approaches and Steve takes up the space in his lap, where he legitimately belongs. He glares out of the corner of his eye at Romanoff, who’s smirking at the knife under her unmanicured nails.

 

Francis is there, and now that Steve’s looking, he knows the other two men.

 

“So, not only you butting in on my sons’ business, you stealing their hos,” Erik Stevens says to Bucky with an angry gesture to Steve.

 

Erik, alongside his cousin, runs the southeast side of Queens in a recreation of the Black Panther Party. They used to deal with Rumlow and with Garrett before him. They, they being the assorted lowlifes and mobsters of New York, call him Killmonger, on account of the fact that he’s unofficially credited with the deaths of over fifty crooked cops in NYC’s police department alone.

 

Normally, Erik’s a cool guy. He’s the only other male Omega Steve knows, which makes them some sort of allies. Normally, Erik’s not as pissed as he so clearly is now and isn’t so rude. Steve turns into Bucky’s collar with a glower, because he’s a slut, not a ho.

 

“You’re overstepping your bounds,” Bucky snaps.

 

“You killed Rumlow over nothin’!” Erik counters with a snarl.

 

“I killed Rumlow ‘cause he was pushing drugs in a high school!”

 

“So you shoulda left it up to me! I’m they backer, bitch!”

 

Steve peeks out for a second, just in time to catch Romanoff letting the knife in her grip fly and embed itself into the Oriental rug at Erik’s feet.

 

“Hey, hey, watch your ballerina!” Erik snaps, jumping away from the seven-inch blade buried in the floor in front of him. Bucky clucks his tongue, turning his head to puff on his cigar with a displeased set to his jaw.

 

“Watch your mouth,” Romanoff snaps back.

 

“I’ll talk how I like!” Erik retorts.

 

“Natasha,” Bucky says, as though annoyed, “prekratite razrushat' moi veshchi.”

 

He gestures to the rug with his cigar, the smoke trailing off its end to settle through the air and land on the bare skin of Steve’s forearms and thighs.

 

“Yesli vash gost' perestanet oskorblyat' vas,” she answers with a dark look towards Erik.

 

“Hate it when you do that,” Erik grumbles.

 

“Learn Russian,” Francis tells him.

 

T’Challa, Erik’s cousin, puts a hand on Erik’s shoulder. “Perhaps we ought to be questioning why Mr. Barnes felt it necessary to step over our heads and insert himself into Brass Fang’s business,” he says in a calm tone. Steve likes the Beta better of the two Black Panthers. Plus, he’s got a lovely accent from having grown up in Africa.

 

“Aight,” Erik says, still sounding angry, “fine. Mr. Barnes, if you would so kindly explain why you had to butt your fucking nose in.”

 

Bucky’s hand, the cigar tucked between his index and middle fingers, comes to rest on Steve’s knee, a casual move that, when Steve looks up again, appears to have been missed by both T’Challa and Erik.

 

“Do you know, I don’t actually have to explain myself to you,” Bucky says.

 

“You are taking a significant portion of Fang’s profits,” T’Challa argues, gently, though. He and his cousin have been compared to the Yin and Yang of Queens, with T’Challa’s quiet and Erik’s spitfire. “Forty percent. That leaves them only a little after giving Black Panther our share. They have families to support.”

 

“No, we don’t,” Steve says. He sits up. “Maybe, like, four of us have kids and even fewer have parents dependent on us. Most of Rumlow’s boys were douchebag rejects from JROTC and the rest are just gangsta wannabes. Brass Fang ain’t nothing since Garrett left, we sure as hell don’t have anybody to hold up.”

 

Jessica and maybe a few dozen other of Fang’s hookers and lowlifes are supporting drug habits, but that’s not the same thing.

 

“Barnes, tell your ho to stay out of the grown-up’s business,” Erik snaps.

 

“T’Challa, tell your cousin to suck my dick,” Steve retorts. It’s his go-to move to get Erik to shut up for five seconds, though he’s usually saying it directly to Erik. Usually, Erik isn’t acting like a five-year-old and knows better than to insult Steve like that. He’s particularly pissed this morning, little that Steve cares. Steve is particularly pissed this morning. It’s not even nine and here the Black Panthers are anyway, interrupting what Steve had hoped would be a mildly lazy morning before he left and Bucky went back to work.

 

Francis snorts, covering his mouth with a fist. A corner of Romanoff’s lip curls. Erik glares at him, as he usually does in response to Steve’s trademark move. T’Challa adopts a very small smile, that of a man enjoying seeing his cousin dissed. Bucky, on the other hand, is not pleased. He takes a drag of his cigar, then blows smoke out towards Erik’s pissed expression.

 

“If you ain’t gonna respect my people, I’m gonna send you out to wait in your car while the grown-up’s talk,” Bucky says to Erik. He flicks ash into a crystal tray, face like stone looking at Erik. “Hear?”

 

Erik opens his mouth, and T’Challa sets a hand on his shoulder. Erik stops, mouth open in a snarl so that his gold teeth shine, then shuts it to glare.

 

“I apologize, Steve,” T’Challa says, bowing his head to him. “My cousin has no filter, as they say.”

 

Erik continues glaring. Steve sticks his tongue out at him, and Erik’s glare doubles. He can’t do anything, though. Right now, Steve belongs to James Barnes, so nothing and no one can touch him.

 

Steve settles against Bucky’s collar, since it’s where he belongs, and smiles immature and smug in the face of Erik’s glare. Once upon a time, if Steve had acted so petty, Garrett would’ve smacked him upside the head before Erik could crawl over the table and make good on his threats of why you little –! But here, Steve is free to be petty. Erik got Bucky out of bed before noon on a Saturday, and Steve hasn't had any coffee let alone enough to deal with Erik Killmonger throwing his weight around.

 

“Apology accepted,” he adds, just to rub it in a little more.

 

T’Challa, still amused, pats Erik on the shoulder, who’s still saying why you little –! with his eyes. “To return to our point. We would appreciate it if you demanded less of Brass Fang.”

 

“We’re friends, ain’t we, T’Challa?” Bucky asks. “I’ll let you in on a secret. I ain't letting Brass Fang do nothing much longer. I’m getting them off the streets.”

 

Even T’Challa looks surprised.

 

“What the fuck, man?” Erik spits, gold teeth flashing again.

 

“I don’t like the way they do business,” Bucky answers, completely calm, unruffled, but his hand is tightening on Steve’s knee. “Selling to kids, hiring kids? Did you know that? Did you know they hired kids?”

 

“What do you mean?” T’Challa asks carefully.

 

“What the fuck do you think I mean?” Bucky shoots back, and he’s snarling again. His hand, the one not holding the cigar, curls around Steve’s waist and grips tightly. Steve lifts his gaze again, schooling his own features, but neither T’Challa nor Erik seem to notice.

T’Challa looks shocked, again. Erik looks sickened.

 

“Say what now?” Erik says, like he doesn’t want Bucky’s words to mean what he thinks they mean. Steve turns back into Bucky’s collar with his nose wrinkled. Erik knows how old he is, he knew how old he was when they first met five years ago. It’s not that hard to believe.

 

“Fang hired underage Omegas to work the sex circuit,” Bucky spits out. “I know Garrett did it a hundred percent, I’m assuming Rumlow did it, ‘cause he’s that kinda scum. I really doubt Rollins is letting those kids go now. So I’m taking them out.”

 

“You should be leaving this to us,” T’Challa answers, tone careful again.

 

“They’re in my territory,” Bucky counters.

 

“You act like all New York’s your territory,” Erik snaps.

 

“All New York is my territory,” Bucky replies sharply. “How’s the rent on your building, Killmonger? I set it low ‘cause that neighborhood’s got plenty of single mothers on welfare. How’s the upkeep on your community centers? I pay to keep ‘em clean. This is my  city.”

 

“What do you plan to do with Fang’s money?” T’Challa asks before Erik can say something else in anger.

 

“Open a rehab center.”

 

“What ‘bout our money?” Erik says, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

“Take it,” Bucky says, shrugging his right shoulder, as though careful not to dislodge Steve. “I got enough in bribes alone to make sure it’s running smooth.”

 

“I can accept that,” T’Challa says. Erik still looks pissed, but Steve assumes that it’s because he’s unhappy with having to relent without shooting something. “Can you promise that Fang’s employees will have job security elsewhere?”

 

“Those that don’t get arrested, sure,” Bucky says. “I always got room in my docks and offices.”

 

“And Fang’s hos ain’t getting locked up,” Steve adds, giving Erik a look.

 

“Clearly you got yourself a cushy job as a lapdog,” Erik retorts.

 

“Hey!” Bucky snaps. “Watch your mouth or leave!”

 

Steve smiles, and Erik glares. They act like children, Erik driven to immaturity by his anger and Steve still close enough to a child to be given the excuse of too fuckin’ early on a fuckin’ Saturday to act petty. The difference is that Erik’s immaturity is quietly smacked upside the head by his cousin and Steve’s pettiness is defended by a snarling wolf.

 

“We clear?” Bucky continues, speaking to T’Challa again.

 

“We’re clear,” T’Challa answers, but his knuckles have lightened where he’s gripping Erik’s shoulder. “But know that if you attempt to interrupt our business again, we will not take it so calmly.”

 

Erik curls up his lip to bare his teeth, gold canines catching the light. T’Challa makes the threats, Erik carries them out, as always.

 

“I’ll interrupt if I see fit,” Bucky says, unaffected by the threat. “You boys take better care of your sons and then I won’t have to.”

 

T’Challa’s calm expression tightens and Erik leaves his teeth bared, but not even the Gold and Silver Panthers can touch James Barnes. Steve stretches a little, yawning like a fox, and settles further into Bucky’s collar. Romanoff draws another knife from somewhere hidden on her person and flips it, the shine of the metal setting streaks of white as it spins. Francis polishes the barrel of a gun Steve hadn’t seen him draw. Bucky remains unruffled.

 

“We appreciate you taking action to address Rumlow and Garrett hiring underage Omegas,” T’Challa says in a cold tone, and he makes the thanks sound like an insult. “We will look into our other subsidiaries for similar unsavory business. We will allow you to take out your anger on Brass Fang, but any other interruptions, we will not allow.”

 

“Fellas,” Bucky says, and he says it with mocking, “you ain’t allowing nothing in my town.”

 

T’Challa raises his eyebrows. Erik curls his lip once more, then turns on his heel and stalks out. T’Challa, however, steps forward and holds out his hand for Bucky to shake. Bucky flicks his gaze down to T’Challa’s palm, then leans forward, disrupting Steve’s position in his lap, to set his cigar in a crystal ashtray. Then he claps his palm to T’Challa’s, pumping it once, before drawing back to set his hand back on Steve’s knee.

 

T’Challa, then, brushes off his palms, as though wiping away the ash of Bucky’s cigar. Steve narrows his eyes, but he respects the man’s guts. T'Challa nods his head to Steve and leaves. Francis follows them out, spinning the trigger hold of his gun on his pinkie.

 

Upon the distant sound of the elevator leaving, Romanoff throws her knife and it embeds itself into a dart board.

 

“Hey, hey, quit messing up my shit!” Bucky snaps. “I already had to replace that sideboard once!”

 

“That man makes my teeth hurt,” Romanoff snaps.

 

“Killmonger or T’Challa?” Bucky asks shortly.

 

“Both!” She strides up to the dartboard and wrenches the knife out, then grabs the first out of the rug. “Makes compliments into insults. Motherfucker’s too smooth for his own damn good.”

 

Steve rolls his eyes, because even with all the times he’s told Erik to suck his dick, he still knows how to play the Black Panthers. “You gotta learn how not to piss off Killmonger if you wanna keep T’Challa’s sharp tongue in his mouth.”

 

Romanoff shoots him a look. “What do you know?” she says. She flips the knife in her palm, eyes angry on him now.

 

“They’re a pair,” Steve counters, before Bucky can fight this battle for him. He doesn’t like Romanoff right now and he wants her to know it. “T’Challa thinks of him like a little brother that he’s got to keep out of trouble and twice as protective.”

 

Romanoff draws back her nose, lips curling down but her teeth don’t flash at him. He belongs to her boss, so she can’t touch him either.

 

“And, you gotta treat Erik with the same respect you give his cousin the smooth motherfucker,” Steve says, sharpening his tone like he’s calling Romanoff blind. “He ain’t T’Challa’s translator, quit acting like he is.”

 

“T’Challa’s the one we handle business with,” Romanoff snaps.

 

“So you piss of Erik on the daily,” Steve says back. “They’re partners, treat ‘em like they are! Piss off Erik, you piss of T’Challa, you got him wiping his hands clean after he shakes yours.”

 

He relaxes against Bucky’s collar, watching her sharp eyes flash.

 

If Bucky is a wolf and Rollins is a magpie, then Romanoff is a spider, venom dripping from her fangs and the knives in her palms. Right now, even though all eight of her eyes are flashing at him, Steve lies under the wolf’s paws. Bucky is ready to bare his teeth at his own spiders.

 

“Leave,” Bucky snaps to Romanoff.

 

Romanoff sets her shoulders, her fingers twitching around the handles of her knives, but she must know that she can’t attack in any manner while Steve lies under Bucky’s shadow. She turns sharply and slams the door on her way out.

 

Bucky’s fingers trace his jaw and Steve reflexively bares his throat.

 

“What’d I say about you interrupting business?” he asks in a quiet, dangerous tone.

 

Steve thinks carefully about his next move. He licks his lips, looking at Bucky’s mouth, and lets the back of his head rest on Bucky’s shoulder so his throat is exposed fully and he’s looking up at Bucky through his lashes.

 

“It’s the weekend,” he says. “I agreed not to interrupt during the week.”

 

Bucky’s expression is closed. His wolf’s eyes are pissed, not predatory.

 

“I’m sorry, sir,” Steve mumbles, turning his head to hide his face in Bucky’s collar.

 

“You had dealings with Black Panther before?”

 

The question takes Steve by surprise. He turns his face out again and catches calculation in Bucky’s wolf’s eyes behind the anger.

 

“They back Brass Fang,” he says carefully. Cautious like T’Challa, just in case the anger in Bucky’s eyes is aimed at him. “Plenty of times, yeah.”

 

“You had dealings with other bosses, gang leaders, the like?” Bucky asks then. “Cottonmouth, Gargan, Gao, Kilgrave or Kingpin?”

 

Steve shrugs a shoulder. He’s met all of the people Bucky mentioned, some only in passing, a few for favors and a few for business. They’re all newcomers to the scene, with the exception of Madame Gao, people that Bucky won’t have met when he was a fresh face in the mob, but they’re people who gained power quick.

 

Cottonmouth, head of Harlem’s Paradise, is almost as dangerous as Bucky, but with fewer resources. Gargan is a drug lord, and Fang pushes his stuff most of all. Madame Gao, the big mama of the Order of the Crane and Chinatown, calls him her white boy grandson and always complains that he’s too skinny. Kilgrave’s a genuine creep; he runs hallucinogens that even Gargan won’t touch, but he’s popular in the rich kid’s scene. Kingpin’s the man keeping Hell’s Kitchen independent of the Seyrbakov family’s influence, he and Garrett spent time in Vietnam together back in the day. He’s also a creep, but only because he’s genuinely way too old for Steve at 57 and has bought favors off him before.

 

“Garrett got around,” he says. “Before he got arrested, he was trying to teach me how to be his second.”

 

Bucky raises an eyebrow. “So how come Rumlow got charge instead of you?”

 

Steve shrugs again. “Rumlow already was his second, him and Ward were tied for it. Garrett wasn’t trying to pass it around that he was gonna kick ‘em. Not like I had any position to fight ‘em for it.”

 

Bucky’s finger trails down his jaw, until he grips Steve’s chin between his thumb and forefinger. “You got skills other than cocksucking, do you, baby?”

 

Steve lets a slow smile curl his lips. “I wasn’t doing business for Garrett ‘cause I could suck dick.”

 

Bucky’s wolf’s eyes are turning proud now. His lips curl, then he pulls Steve’s face in to kiss him sharply. When he lets go, Steve sags against his shoulder with a satisfied smile.

 

“T’Challa’s usually leaving here more irritated than he did today,” Bucky says. “And Killmonger ain’t usually shut up so easy. I think you oughta be attending more of my meetings.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve whispers.

 

Bucky sets a hand on his thigh, then pushes it up to curl under the hem of his shorts. “But I don’t want you comin’ in your PJ’s, doll. I don’t like sharing you more than I have to.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve repeats, and Bucky gives a firm nod before leaning in to kiss him again. Bucky’s fingers push under the hem of his underwear, gripping his ass, his tongue pushing down to his throat as he kisses Steve, and Steve curls an arm around his neck to relax under Bucky’s possessive kiss.

 

He breaks it a moment later, pulling his hand out of Steve’s clothes to pat his thigh. Steve gets up, stretching again.

 

“Go get dressed,” Bucky says, standing as well. “Then come downstairs. Time you properly met Natasha so you two ain’t glaring daggers at each other.”

 

Steve’s lips curl downward. “I’ll glare daggers at her if she’s gonna sit on your desk like that.”

 

Bucky raises an eyebrow. “What’s wrong with Natasha sitting on my desk?”

 

Steve raises both of his eyebrows, then steps past Bucky and hops onto the desk. There, he lies back and spreads his legs, fitting his nails into the scratches he’d left the night before.

 

Bucky moves to stand between his open thighs, palms sliding up his body. He’s smirking. “I see,” he murmurs. He bends and kisses Steve’s stomach. “You’re getting territorial.”

 

“You spend lots of time with her,” Steve says, letting irritation color his tone. Bucky pushes the shirt he’s wearing, Bucky’s own shirt, up to kiss up his chest, but Steve will not be moved. “She’s pretty," he says, "she throws knives, you know her well.”

 

“Natasha is a sister to me,” Bucky murmurs into his bare skin. “You ain’t my brother, Stevie.”

 

Steve slips his body down the desk until their hips are pressed flush together. “No, sir,” he says.

 

Bucky kisses up his neck, then his mouth. Steve lifts his hands off the desk to curl them into Bucky’s hair.

 

“You’re mine, baby boy,” Bucky growls against his lips. “Nobody else is.”

 

Steve breaks the kiss, catching his breath, then tips his head back. Bucky kisses along his neck again.

 

“I might be,” he whispers. Bucky pauses. “I think I want to be.”

 

Bucky bites a spot just under his jaw and Steve smiles. Then Bucky straightens up, grabbing Steve by the waist and picking him up, then tugs him off the desk. Steve lands on his toes and Bucky pulls him against his chest.

 

“Stay again tonight,” he says, and Steve’s heart skips a beat. “I don’t work on Sundays. We can be lazy tomorrow.”

 

Steve swallows, then tucks his forehead under Bucky’s chin so he doesn’t have to see his face. “I can’t,” he mumbles. “I have to work still.”

 

Bucky’s hands tighten around his waist.

 

“I don’t want Rollins to know I’m thinking about leaving,” Steve adds quickly. “He’s already pissed as it is that I’m not working Fridays.”

 

“Rollins doesn’t own you,” Bucky growls.

 

Steve presses his face into Bucky’s neck, standing on his toes, then shakes his head. “Fang does own me, Buck. I owe them.”

 

“How much?” Bucky demands. “I’ll pay it off.”

 

Steve shakes his head again and Bucky’s arms are circling around his waist to hold him tighter. “I don’t owe them money,” Steve says carefully. “I owe them my life.”

 

Bucky’s eyes narrow. “The fuck you mean you owe your life?”

 

“I mean I owe my life,” Steve answers. “Fang has custody of me. Garrett pulled me out of the foster system and he manipulated the papers so the gang owns me.”

 

Steve had been a scarred and vulnerable kid, hardly 17. Garrett had been a gentle and kind soul, offering a way out and he hadn’t bothered to read all the fine print. He’d grown to accept and like his position in Brass Fang, until Garrett was arrested and Rumlow took over. Steve had gone from being Garrett’s protege to worth only his looks in a day. Rumlow had always taken more money off him, restricted his activities outside of work, kept an annoyingly close eye and a firm grip on him. He exploited the fact that he owned Steve wherever possible.

 

Bucky’s fingers curl into his body to ball bunches of his shirt into his fists. “You’re of age now," he says, sounding confused. "Omegas don’t belong to their Alphas in the States, that law got pitched decades ago.”

 

Steve shakes his head again. “Garrett fixed the papers so he’d have custody of me even after I hit 18, some loophole that I didn’t see ‘til it was too late. He passed them to Rumlow when he got arrested, somehow Rollins got them before you killed Rumlow.”

 

“Fuck,” Bucky spits.

 

“But if you put the whole gang in jail, the deal’s off, nobody to hold custody over me,” Steve says hastily, then hesitates, swallowing, voice trailing off as he goes on. “Or… Or if I live with you,” he adds. “They can’t touch me even if they own me if I belong to you, loophole or no loophole.”

 

“Then come live with me,” Bucky says. “Dammit, Steve, stop dragging this out. Come to me. Be mine.”

 

Steve hides his face, his own hands curled into fists to wrinkle the back of Bucky’s collar. He knew he could only draw out the chase as long as the wolf wanted to chase him, but he shouldn’t have told Bucky that Fang owns him. Clearly, Bucky doesn’t want to chase him if he’s chasing him into a magpie’s nest.

 

“I know you already made up your mind,” Bucky whispers now. “C’mon, Steve.”

 

Slowly, Steve nods. Bucky exhales sharply, a hand shooting up to cup the back of his head and cradle him against his body.

 

“I still don’t want Rollins to figure out that I’m leaving,” Steve mumbles into Bucky’s collar. “I still have to work until I can get all my stuff out of the apartment.”

 

Bucky nods. “That’s fine. I can send people to your place to move stuff slowly.”

 

“I’ll bring it on Fridays,” Steve says.

 

“If your driver asks why you got a bigger bag?”

 

“I’ll just say it’s whips and chains,” Steve says easily. Bucky gives a dry laugh. “I don’t have that much stuff. It should only take a couple weeks.”

 

“Okay,” Bucky murmurs. He kisses the top of Steve’s head. “Alright. I’ll wait on you a little while longer.”

 

Steve nods into his collar. Then Bucky pulls back, a hand going to his jaw, and pulls him into a kiss. Like last night’s kiss at the stairs, it’s gentle.

 

“Go get dressed,” Bucky says. “You brought somethin’ other than that skirt, right?”

 

“Duh,” Steve mutters, pulling away now. He feels cold for it, but internally shakes himself to rid himself of the feeling. “I wear that for special occasions only.”

 

Bucky raises his eyebrows as Steve steps backwards towards the door. “Last night was a special occasion, was it?” he asks, his lips curling.

 

“Anytime I get your dick is a special occasion,” Steve says, grinning. He opens the door, blows Bucky a kiss, then slips out of the office, walking back into the bedroom. His heart is pounding. His hands shake as they pull new clothes from his overnight bag.

 

He belongs to James Barnes, now. For real. It’s a little sooner than he’d planned, it’s a lot sooner than he’d planned, but Steve is still happy to lounge in Bucky’s shadow. He, the fox, will lie on his back between the wolf’s claws with his throat bared. Now the wolf’s teeth, bared in a snarl and salivating in either hunger or anger, will threaten magpies and spiders and panthers, alike.

 

He dresses in skinny jeans and a loose blue shirt that hangs down to his hips, the sleeves covering his knuckles. He doesn’t wear short sleeves very often. He puts the red velvet choker back in his bag, leaving his throat bare for the wolf’s teeth. He’d slept in his earrings, and the chain is getting heavy, so he put it away and slips on red Chuck Taylors, old and falling apart from years of wear, since his boots are still downstairs. He takes the brand new iPhone off the wireless charger and slips it into his back pocket.

 

He goes downstairs, a hand resting on the banister. He sees shadows in the kitchen and hears voices, so he goes into the kitchen.

 

Francis has put away his gun, yet Romanoff still picks at her nails with a knife. Steve walks up to Bucky and curls an arm around his waist, and Bucky sets an arm around his shoulders as if without thought.

 

“Alright,” Bucky says, interrupting Francis, “Steve’s going to stick around so it’s time you two introduced yourselves.”

 

Romanoff narrows all of her eight eyes at him. Steve rests his head on Bucky’s waistcoat, smiling pleasantly at her, a fox’s false smile.

 

“Clint Barton,” Francis says, however. Steve looks at him.

 

“I thought your name was Francis?” he says in confusion.

 

Then Romanoff laughs and Francis, apparently called Clint, scowls.

 

“It’s his middle name,” Romanoff says.

 

“Oh,” Steve mumbles.

 

“This is because you keep calling me by it,” Clint says with an accusatory finger pointing at Bucky.

 

Bucky shrugs. “It’s a stupid ass name.”

 

Clint scowls some more. Romanoff sheathes her knife, then holds out a hand to Steve.

 

“Natalia Romanoff,” she says. Her eight eyes are no longer narrowed, but they are still guarded. “My friends call me Natasha.”

 

Steve takes her hand. “My full name’s Steven, but usually people call me whatever they want.”

 

She smirks again, the guarded look in her eyes morphing into amusement. “I think we’ll call you Steve.”

 

“Boss calls you baby boy, apparently,” Clint adds.

 

“Shuddup!” Bucky snaps and Clint laughs.

 

“Boss can call me whatever he wants, too,” Steve says with a grin. He drops his hand from Bucky’s waist to tuck it into the back pocket of his slacks. He can be possessive, too. “I’m just happy to have his attention finally.”

 

Bucky squeezes his shoulder.

 

“We going to brunch or what, boss?” Natasha says then. She crosses her arms over her stomach, just under her breasts, and raises her eyebrows.

 

Bucky glances down at him. “You got time for brunch?” he asks.

 

“I always have time for brunch,” Steve says. “But considering that it’s not even ten, it’s well within the period of breakfast.”

 

Clint laughs and Bucky makes a face. “I was expecting to have to deal with the Panthers a while longer,” he says.

 

“Well, now you haven’t,” Steve says. “Breakfast.”

 

Clint is still sniggering and Romanoff’s lip is curled.

 

“Yeah, yeah,” Bucky grumbles.

 

“By the way,” Clint says, and Steve redirects his gaze. “Excellent diss of Killmonger. Legendary. That’s going on my tombstone. Tell your cousin to suck my dick. Priceless.”

 

Steve lets out a laugh. “Works every time.”

 

“Come on,” Bucky grumbles before Clint can question Steve’s response, “let’s just go get breakfast. Go get your stuff, doll, I’ll drop you off after.”

 

He turns Steve and pushes him towards the door. Steve turns and stops in the doorway, presenting his cheek. Bucky exhales, either amused or a little annoyed, and kisses his cheek. Steve is pleased either way. He turns and runs back up the stairs to get his things.

 

He leaves his toothbrush in Bucky’s bathroom. At the stairs back down, he pauses, hearing voices in the kitchen that have gone frustrated.

 

“You’re probably old enough to be his father!”

 

“He’s twenty-three, Natasha –”

 

“Bucky, she has a point, you said yourself the kid got sucked into this business when he was too young for it, how can you be sure he’s not just using you to get out?”

 

“And before you know it, he’s riding off into the sunset with half your money in alimony?”

 

“Nat, what – I’m not planning to marry him –”

 

Steve curls his lips in a scowl. He’s planning to marry Bucky, but certainly not to divorce him.

 

“You know I know that you butted into Brass Fang to get him, not ‘cause they were selling coke to kids!”

 

“Natasha, drop it!”

 

“I think you’re thinking more with your dick than you are your brain, and that’s not like you!”

 

Steve takes the stairs down quietly, setting his bag by the sofa and heading for the kitchen with soft steps.

 

“Natasha, I did not get where I am to just throw it out on a kid with a cute ass, do not berate me for what I’m choosing to do in my private life!”

 

“That’s my point, he’s still a kid!”

 

Steve steps into the doorway of the kitchen. Natasha shuts her mouth with a snap and schools her expression. Clint looks down at his scuffed boots, raised eyebrows and thin lips. Bucky glances over his shoulder, then turns around with a closed expression.

 

Steve walks up and slips into his side despite Bucky not reaching for him. Bucky sets a hand at his waist and Steve gives Natasha an unimpressed look.

 

“I haven’t been a kid for a very long time,” he says. “Of course I’m using Bucky to get out of Brass Fang.”

 

Natasha’s eyes snap wide open. Clint glances up at him, then at Bucky.

 

“But I think he’s probably using me for something, too,” Steve continues, “so what does it matter if we’re using each other? I don’t give a shit about his money and I’m not planning on tricking him into marrying me so I can divorce him.”

 

“But you admit you’re using him,” Natasha says.

 

“Bucky,” Steve says, looking up at him, “are you using me to vent frustration that you can’t express in other areas of your life? Since you feel like you don’t have the time to actually work on creating a real relationship with someone on your level and I’m an easy target as a young and broke hooker?”

 

Bucky opens his mouth, then shuts it, looking uncomfortable, most of all by the phrase easy target. Steve speaks bluntly, but it's nothing more than the truth. He is an easy target. Steve looks back at Natasha, raising his eyebrows.

 

“This is symbiosis,” he says. “We’ll use each other for mutual benefit. I assume when he’s tired of me, he’ll put me up somewhere where I can’t talk to press or police and move on to the next easy target. I’m fine with that. It gets me out of Brass Fang; they haven’t been treating me right since Garrett got arrested and, frankly, I’m sick of it.”

 

Steve glares at Natasha, who glares back. He does not betray that he intends to make sure Bucky never tires of him. This is symbiosis; he, as the fox, will dance to keep the wolf’s interest, and Bucky, the wolf, will bend over backwards to keep him fed and dancing. A feedback loop, but it’s not greed that fuels Steve’s motivations and it isn’t lust that fuels Bucky’s.

 

“Kid has a point,” Clint mumbles.

 

Steve raises his eyebrows further at Natasha. “Can we go to breakfast now?”

 

She shrugs, shaking her head. “Whatever. Fine.”

 

“Go get the car,” Bucky says to the two of them. Clint walks out of the kitchen with his hands in his pockets, Natasha follows with a glare aimed at the ground. Steve looks up at him, and for once, leaves his chin lowered to protect his throat.

 

“You know as well as I do that this isn’t love,” he says. “It’s opportunity. And yes, I want to be yours because you have money and you can take care of me, but I’m not interested in taking your money and running. I’m interested in eating more than ramen for every meal because it’s all I can afford.”

 

They are not two of seven deadly sins, but two of five requirements for life, liberty, and happiness, shelter and companionship.

 

“I’m not trying to use you,” Bucky counters.

 

He raises a hand and cups his jaw. Steve searches his gaze for anger, but finds only something he doesn’t recognize. It isn’t predatory. It isn’t possessive, or proud, or pissed. But it looks gentle, so he lifts his chin.

 

“I don’t intend to cast you aside if I get tired of you,” Bucky continues, gentle, not very wolfish. “I don’t intend to get tired of you, either. If we aren’t meant to work out long-term, and I’ll admit I don’t really anticipate that we will, I’ll make sure you don’t end up back in Fang’s custody, okay?”

 

Steve simply nods. He fully intends to remain where he belongs, in the shadow of James Barnes, for the rest of his life.

 

Bucky presses their lips together, in the gentle kiss that Steve’s learning means Bucky is trying to express something through his own body language and Steve just isn’t getting it yet. He presses their lips together, doesn’t slip his tongue into Steve’s mouth, and brushes his thumb over the edge of his jaw. He presses their lips together slowly, then pulls back slower, so that for a moment, they’re standing there breathing the same air.

 

“You don’t really eat ramen for every meal?” Bucky says then, looking disbelieving.

 

Steve laughs. He sags against Bucky’s chest, burying his face in the silk of his waistcoat, and Bucky’s arms hang around his waist.

 

“Ramen and protein shakes,” Steve says. “Occasionally eggs. McDonald’s when I have the spare cash.”

 

“Fucking hell,” Bucky mumbles. “How are you so skinny?”

 

“Funny, lots of exercise,” Steve mumbles. “And two meals a day.”

 

Bucky stiffens. Steve lifts up to look at him.

 

“What?”

 

“Is that…” Bucky pauses, looking guarded again. “Is it because you can’t afford more than that? Or…?”

 

“Oh,” Steve says. “Um. Well, used to be. I quit diet pills a year ago, though.”

 

Bucky nods slowly. “You’re okay?”

 

Steve just nods. “My friend Darcy, she helped me pull out of it. Now, I just can’t afford much.”

 

“Jesus,” Bucky says, still looking concerned. He digs his wallet out of his pocket, then presses a plastic card into his palm. Steve blinks at the credit card for a second. “Buy some actual food, Stevie.”

 

“I’ll do that,” he promises. Bucky squeezes his waist.

 

“C’mon, let’s go,” he says. “You got your stuff?”

 

“Yeah, it’s out here.”

 

He pulls away from Bucky, leaving to get his bag from the parlor. He grabs his boots and jacket, lying on the floor by the sofa, and shoves the boots into his bag before donning his jacket. Bucky tugs on a jacket over his waistcoat, buttons it and holds out a hand to the elevator. Steve steps up and reaches for his tie, straightening it. Then he yanks on it, bringing their mouths together in a hot kiss. He’s uncomfortable with the gentleness in what are meant to be the eyes of a wolf, he’s disturbed by the contrast of kind and predatory, and he’d rather keep the predatory.

 

Bucky grips his waist, then his hands trail down to squeeze his ass. Steve steps closer, so their bodies align. The kiss lasts a minute longer, then Bucky pulls back to run a hand over his hair and grin.

 

“That’s what I’m keeping you for,” he says, voice low, dripping chocolate. “‘Cause you kiss like you’re about to drop to your knees every time.”

 

“I’m tempted,” Steve whispers, leaning up still so his words are a breeze on Bucky’s lips.

 

“Don’t tempt me,” Bucky says, his grin widening so his gold canine gleams.

 

“Can’t help it, sir,” he answers, then drops back onto his heels and steps back. “It’s what I’m keeping you for. You make me want to drop to my knees all the time.”

 

Bucky’s wolf’s eyes finally flash predatory, Steve grins and turns for the elevator. Bucky’s hands slide around his waist, he bends and Steve leans his head to the side so that Bucky can kiss his neck.

 

The elevator opens. The operator, not the usual basic white man, doesn’t even bat an eye. Bucky gives Steve a swat on the ass, Steve starts and steps into the elevator, followed by Bucky and his looming shadow as he swings an arm over Steve’s shoulders.

 

“Lobby, thanks, Mac,” Bucky says to the operator.

 

Mac the operator operates the elevator. Steve doesn’t really give a shit. He turns into Bucky’s suit jacket, then slips a hand into his back pocket. He’ll be possessive, too.

Chapter Text

who’s your little friend?

 

They walk out into the marble lobby together, James Barnes with his Omega under his arm, and they turn heads. Steve sees a teenager raise her phone and turns his head away so only his profile will be caught, and he imagines that this will be all over the Internet and tabloids by sunset. James Barnes doesn’t date, he’s never been caught with an Omega or a woman or anyone like he’s never been convicted. The thought that he’s the one to break the pattern sends a chill down Steve’s spine.

 

The doors are opened for them and there’s a stretch Cadillac idling at the curb. Bucky opens the door of the car for him and Steve slips inside, taking a seat. Natasha and Clint already seated, alongside two nondescript men in suits and sunglasses, who Steve assumes are bodyguards. Bucky climbs in behind him, settling in the edge seat and draping his arm over the back of the bench. He doesn’t look at him, but Steve takes his posture as an invitation. He settles into Bucky’s side, setting a hand on his thigh, possessive.

 

The car moves without Bucky needing to give it direction. Bucky’s hand comes off the back of the bench to rest on Steve’s shoulder.

 

“Are you old enough to drink?” Natasha asks abruptly.

 

“I’m twenty-three,” Steve answers shortly. "Bucky told you that already."

 

Natasha’s face is impassive. She leans back and looks out the window. Clint looks a little uncomfortable.

 

“Where are we going?” Steve asks, tilting his head towards Bucky.

 

“Caviar Russe,” Bucky says, looking out the window as well. His hand hangs limply around Steve’s shoulder. He’s hardly paying any attention to Steve.

 

Steve would wonder if he were pissed at him, but for the kiss and predatory eyes just before getting in the elevator. So he assumes that Bucky is somehow otherwise distracted and sets about remedying it.

 

He shifts closer, resting his head on Bucky’s shoulder, and begins swirling the tip of his index finger over the curve inward of his thigh. He lets his hand slip a little, until he’s swirling his finger over the inseam of Bucky’s trousers.

 

Bucky remains looking out the window. There’s a tight set to his jaw like he’s pissed, only Steve knows that it’s not at him. He flicks his gaze over at Natasha, sitting in front of the partition, and assumes that it’s with her. But Bucky isn’t looking at him or petting him or paying attention to him because of it and Steve is salty about it. It’s petty, or childish, but in two nights he’s gotten addicted to James Barnes’s attention and withdrawal sets in fast.

 

He lifts his hand off of Bucky’s thigh to touch it to his chest. Bucky glances down, then finally looks at him. Steve hooks his fingers into Bucky’s tie and tugs a little, not hard enough to bring Bucky’s lips to his own, only enough to indicate what he wants.

 

Bucky flicks an eyebrow up.

 

Steve pouts, then tugs again.

 

Bucky’s lips curl at the corners, then he leans in and kisses Steve’s forehead. Which wasn’t what Steve wanted, but it’s better than nothing.

 

“I’ve never heard of Caviar Russe,” he says while Bucky’s lips linger on his forehead. “What’s it like?”

 

“It’s fancy shit,” Bucky says, a smirk growing on his lips. “You like spending my money, so you’ll like it.”

 

“It isn’t even open at this hour,” Clint calls. Bucky’s gaze flicks away and Steve tightens his fingers on his tie.

 

“Fancy,” Steve echoes. Bucky kisses his temple. He relaxes his grip on his tie, feeling sated, and tugs his phone out of his back pocket to scroll through Instagram.

 

On unlocking the screen, he gets a text.

 

Mr. Darcy:

Boo I got coffee cake from the chick down the hall you wanna hang out?

 

Steve wrinkles his nose a little, sad that he’s missing Darcy’s neighbor’s coffee cake. It’s fucking good coffee cake.

 

I’m going to breakfast with Bucky, soz.

Ooh, breakfast the day after, was the dickin just as good

 

He hears Bucky let out a quiet chuckle, like he’s reading over his shoulder. Steve replies with that in mind.

 

It was nirvana, so just as good

XD

 

Bucky laughs softly again and kisses the top of his head. Steve grins to himself, curling against him. He switches apps, signs into Instagram and starts to scroll mindlessly. The drive takes another twenty minutes, and when they stop, Steve looks up to see that they’re on Madison Avenue.

 

“Wow,” he mutters.

 

The bodyguards get out first, walk around the other side of the car to open their door. Bucky slips his arm from Steve’s shoulder and slides out, holding out a hand as he turns back around. Steve takes it, letting Bucky help him out of the stretch limo. Natasha and Clint exit behind him, the bodyguards take up the rear, and Bucky leads them up to the restaurant.

 

Clint was right, it isn’t open yet. Bucky knocks once, a minute goes by, then a waiter opens the door.

 

“Mr. Barnes,” he greets, bowing at the waist. “You’re early.”

 

“Business finished early,” Bucky replies, and says nothing else. The waiter bows them in. The bodyguards stay near the door and they’re lead to a table in the center of an empty dining room. It’s already set, so Steve guesses that the waiter’s you’re early act was just that, an act. The restaurant knew they were coming. The waiter doesn’t offer menus as they shed jackets and sit, but returns a minute later with a tray of champagne glasses and Steve assumes that, as this is apparently a regular occurrence, the staff know what Bucky wants.

 

The waiter hesitates a moment before setting a glass of champagne in front of Steve, but doesn’t ask for his ID. Steve simply takes the glass and sips at it. Clint starts talking to the bodyguards, who don’t talk back, about basketball and then football, as if just to fill the silence. Natasha has picked up her knife and is spinning it over her knuckles. Steve’s starting to figure out that it’s a nervous habit. Bucky takes out his phone and starts frowning at it. There’s an empty seat at the table, with a champagne glass at hand.

 

Plates of poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, lobster, and flaky biscuits are set before them, even at the empty place. Bucky glances once at them, then at the door, then returns to scowling at his phone. Clint picks up his fork and starts eating, but Natasha continues spinning the knife over her knuckles and Bucky scowling at his phone. Steve doesn’t touch his fork.

 

“Who are we waiting on?” he whispers to Bucky.

 

Bucky glances up at him, then returns his gaze to his phone. “An associate,” is all he says. Steve is still pissed about this morning and this does not endear him any. He sips at the champagne and wishes this fancy shit restaurant would serve coffee like normal people. He’s not going to ask for it, though. This place is too quiet. He’ll get Starbucks later.

 

“Are you going to eat that?” Clint asks of Natasha.

 

She flips the knife into her palm, like she wants to stab it into the table, and gives Clint a look out of the corner of her eye. Clint puts up his palms in surrender. “Just asking,” he mutters. He glances once at Steve.

 

“I don’t like lobster,” Steve says, and pushes his plate away. Clint happily takes it, setting it on top of his empty one.

 

Bucky finally looks at him. “Who doesn’t like lobster?” he says.

 

Steve shrugs. “I prefer burgers,” he says, though the truth is he’s allergic to shellfish and he isn’t sure if lobster counts since he’s never had lobster as an option. He doesn’t want to find out, at least.

 

Bucky’s expression remains suspicious for a moment, then his lip curls. He puts down his phone and slings his arm over the back of Steve’s chair. Steve takes another sip of his champagne, now pleased.

 

There’s a knock behind them. The waiter and one of the bodyguards go for the door, then return with a third man trailing behind. Steve raises his eyebrows at Tony Stark, then at Bucky.

 

“An associate,” he repeats out of the corner of his mouth. “An associate?”

 

Bucky shrugs. Like Tony Stark didn’t just walk into the restaurant, actually wearing jeans and a ratty AC/DC tee, Tony Stark. A legitimate billionaire. Legitimate as a weapons manufacturer can get. Steve takes a sip of his champagne and wishes for coffee again.

 

“Barnes,” Tony Stark greets, spreading his arms. There’s engine grease, or what Steve assumes is engine grease considering Stark’s origins as an engineer, on his elbows. “And friends.”

 

He raises his eyebrows at Steve. Steve calmly sips his champagne. He didn’t get where he was to be visibly ruffled by a legitimate billionaire.

 

“Little friend?” Stark goes on, looking at Bucky.

 

“Sit down,” Bucky says, like he’s annoyed.

 

Clint surreptitiously wipes his plate with a finger to lick up the hollandaise. Natasha elbows him without looking. Stark moves around the table and plops into the empty seat, noticing the champagne with a delighted but surprised expression. He takes the glass and downs it in one.

 

“So,” Stark says, putting it down. “Jericho.”

 

“I’m not selling it to the Taliban,” Bucky replies easily. Steve chokes a little on his champagne, he recovers quickly, but Bucky drops a hand onto his back and rubs between his shoulder blades a few times anyway.

 

“But you know who is?” Stark says. He’s ignoring his eggs benedict. Natasha has finally begun eating hers.

 

“I have a few ideas,” Bucky answers. He picks up his fork and cuts into the poached egg. Yolk streams out, runny and bright.

 

Looking at it, Steve thinks abruptly of Rumlow. Watching his life stream out of his head, runny and bright, only a different primary color, the affectation of roses. He looks away.

 

“You got a few ideas on who robbed my warehouse?” Stark asks, putting his greasy elbows on the white tablecloth.

 

Bucky scoffs, raising his fork to his mouth and pausing to say briefly: “Who else?”

 

Steve sets his elbow on the table and props his face on his fist, looking into his half-empty glass of champagne. He had thought that brunch was supposed to be, well, brunch. Mimosas and BLTs. He’s getting champagne, no coffee, lobster and a business meeting.

 

“Klaue?” Stark says, then hits the table.

 

Steve startles, blinking hard.

 

“Motherfucker,” Star spits out.

 

Bucky nods, swallows. “Motherfucker,” he agrees. He pats Steve’s back once, and he’s placated a little to know that Bucky is at least devoting a little of his focus to him still.

 

“Alright, Plan B,” Stark announces.

 

Bucky scoffs again. “I’m not having Klaue killed. He’s useful.”

 

“He’s stealing my shit!”

 

“I’ll get you your money, don’t worry, Tony.”

 

Stark points a finger at him, hand otherwise curled into a fist, his expression tight. “It’s the principle!”

 

Bucky shrugs. “Eat your appetizer, Stark.”

 

Stark glances down, then picks up his fork and stabs at his poached egg, making the yolk stream out runny and bright. Steve picks up his champagne glass and sips it. He sets it down to yawn. Bucky glances at him, then leans back and snaps his fingers. The waiter hurries over.

 

“Can I get a French press?” he says, but his tone makes it a demand and not a request.

 

The waiter bows. “Would you prefer a light, dark, or medium roast, Mr. Barnes?”

 

“Ehh,” Bucky says, then looks at Steve. “How do you like your coffee, doll?”

 

Steve starts. “Uh… Black?”

 

“Dark,” Bucky says to the waiter. The waiter bows once more and vanishes into the kitchen.

 

“I prefer light roast,” Natasha grumbles.

 

“Get your own coffee,” Bucky tells her.

 

Steve smiles and Bucky’s hand lifts to drape over the back of his chair once more. He leans back, so the back of his neck rests on Bucky’s sleeve, and settles his hands in his lap to wait for his coffee.

 

“What are you doing about Klaue?” Stark asks, having finished his eggs benedict.

 

“I’m gonna beat his ass and make him wish his ma taught him some fuckin’ manners,” Bucky answers. He eats more slowly, with more class in his movements than his vocabulary. “You’ll see him somewhere in six months with black eyes still. Probably the butthole of the ‘stans, so he can see Jericho in use by the Taliban in person.”

 

Stark works his fingers over his fork, like he’s considering Bucky’s offer. “A year.”

 

“I can do that,” Bucky says. He lifts his hand off the back of Steve’s chair and holds it out to Stark. Stark claps their palms together, pumps Bucky’s hand twice and lets go. Bucky returns his hand to the back of Steve’s chair, and neither of them brush their hands clean afterwards.

 

Steve doesn’t know what Jericho is, but Klaue is a weapons dealer who deals in shadier business than the Seyrbakov family, so it’s not hard to guess that Jericho is some new massive weapon developed by Stark Industries.

 

“So, who is your little friend?” Stark says then.

 

Bucky lifts his hand and reaches underneath his jacket. He pulls out a revolver. “Smith and Wesson, Stark, you know that.”

 

The waiter, who had just stepped out of the kitchen with a silver tray in hand, looks disturbed by the gun in Bucky’s hand.

 

“You know what I meant,” Stark says dryly.

 

Bucky spins the gun on his finger and calmly puts it away. The waiter approaches with the tray now.

 

“Your French press coffee, Mr. Barnes,” he says, setting the single-serve French press onto the table, handle already plunged.

 

Bucky points to Steve, and the waiter shifts to put the French press next to him. He sets a small china mug and saucer in front of Steve and pours the coffee for him. When he walks away, Steve lifts the cup, leaving the saucer, and inhales before he sips. He’s done coffee tastings before, but he’s not slurping in this quiet restaurant.

 

“Barnes,” Stark says.

 

Bucky clearly is set on ignoring Stark. “Good?” he asks Steve.

 

Steve nods, taking another appreciative sip. He prefers this to champagne, if he’s honest. Bucky gives a nod, expression neutral, and returns his hand to the back of Steve’s chair. Steve leans back again, taking his cup with him.

 

“You’re ignoring my question,” Stark says, now snapping his fingers. “I’m not playing this game. Quit making doe eyes, Barnes. What’s gotten into you?”

 

“Stark,” Bucky says, exhaling heavily. He looks over at him, raising his eyebrows. “Shut the fuck up.”

 

Stark blinks. Steve smiles into his coffee. Bucky finally finishes his eggs, then raises his other hand and waves to the waiter. Two waiters come then, collect plates and vanish, two more replace them with new dishes, crepes topped with blueberry sauce and powdered sugar. Steve’s had crepes a whole four times in his life, all of which were at Bob Evans and none of which were since his mother died and he entered the foster system, but even the memory of Bob Evans crepes makes these look excellent.

 

“Since he’s ignoring me, who are you, kid?” Stark asks. Looking directly at Steve. Who’s raised his fork halfway to his mouth. He puts it down, trying to look a little more dignified than Stark.

 

“Steve,” he answers.

 

“Like, an intern Steve or…?”

 

Steve blinks slowly at Stark. He puts his elbow back onto the table, leaning towards Bucky, and presents his cheek. Bucky automatically kisses it. Steve says nothing after that, merely satisfied by the display. He returns to his crepes.

 

“Fuck, where’d you find this kid, Barnes? A high school science fair?”

 

“Stark, shut up.”

 

Steve picks up his coffee and instead of holding out his pinkie, he holds out his middle finger. Stark blinks again. Clint laughs, then elbows him and holds out his fist. Steve bumps his fist against it and enjoys his crepes.

 

“Are you even old enough to drink?” Stark says, clearly ignoring Bucky’s command to shut up. “Did somebody check his ID? Wait, no, it’s probably fake.”

 

“Stark,” Bucky snaps. “For once in your life, shut your fucking mouth.”

 

Stark splutters. Steve continues holding out his middle finger calmly. He enjoys the crepes. They’re delicious and creamy and crepey. It’s been a very long time since he had crepes and he has little to base a comparison off of. Stark eventually falls into silence, the crepes are finished and plates cleared and before Steve can finish his cup of coffee, a second single serve French press is brought to the table with the next course; caviar, actual caviar, smoked salmon and savory waffles, with cherry tomatoes, red lettuce and feta cheese topped by a light pesto aioli off to the side. Steve considers the caviar for a second, because he really wants to try it but at the same time he doesn't know if he'd be allergic to it, then he quickly Googles it. Should be fine, he surmises. If not, he's not deathly allergic to shellfish, there's a hospital nearby. He'll be fine.

 

“So, anybody catch the Knicks game?” Clint says when the silence wears on.

 

“Nah,” Stark says.

 

“Fucked up,” Natasha sighs.

 

“I wasn’t paying attention,” Steve says. He’d been working the last time the Knicks played.

 

“Giants?”

 

Stark shrugs. So does Steve. Natasha carries on with her caviar.

 

“Anyone have a conversation topic?” Clint asks desperately. “My hearing aids are going to blow up if this quiet goes on.”

 

“What high school do you go to, Steve?” Stark asks abruptly.

 

Bucky looks up with a pissed set to his jaw, but Steve answers without a beat. “Dropped out seven years ago.”

 

Stark appears slightly mollified. “Why’d you drop out?”

 

Steve shrugs lightly. “My ma was dying and somebody needed to pay bills.”

 

Stark now appears slightly mortified, and Bucky’s glaring out the corner of his eye. Steve carries on with his meal, mimicking Natasha. It’s not a sore subject with him, other than his mother dying. He spent too much time in detention in high school for it to be worth anything to him.

 

“What about community college?” Stark asks, tone lighter like he’s trying to make up for his blunder. “There’s programs for high school dropouts funded by the state.”

 

Steve shrugs again, shaking his head. “Never had the time,” he says.

 

“You could go now,” Bucky says then.

 

Steve pauses in scraping up caviar with his fork to look at him. Bucky shrugs, hand lifting to brush at his bangs. The gesture distracts him and he shrugs as well.

 

“This only made this more awkward,” Clint says.

 

“Well, if someone would quit being a nosy shit,” Bucky agrees, glancing at Stark from the corner of his eye.

 

Stark raises his hands defensively. “I’m a curious person!”

 

“Be curious in another direction,” Bucky snaps.

 

Stark rolls his eyes heavily. Steve shakes his head, like Stark is the child and not him, and sips at his coffee. Stark drops his other elbow onto the table and looks at Natasha.

 

“So, redirecting my curiosity, did you and Wonderboy shack up yet?”

 

Natasha flips the knife in her palm, like she wants to stab the table, but catches Bucky’s warning gaze before she can impale the tablecloth between Stark’s fingers. Stark yanks his hand away anyway.

 

“How about you take your curiosity and devote it to something appropriate?” Natasha says coldly.

 

Stark raises his hands in surrender. “I give up. Fine. Whatever. Boring things. Barnes, are you coming to the gala do thing next Friday or what? ‘Cause the last, like, twelve you said you were and then never showed.”

 

Steve freezes, halfway in setting down his cup, to look at Bucky, who is glaring at the table again, but that’s his default expression so it tells Steve nothing. Friday is their night.

 

“Yes,” Bucky snaps. “With a plus one.”

 

Stark glances at Steve, then shrugs. Steve puts down his cup, nonplussed. He assumes the plus one is him, but the fuck, Bucky? Some warning might have been nice.

 

“That doesn’t include your security detail, does it?” Stark says.

 

“Nope.”

 

“I can’t persuade you to leave the arsenal at home, either?”

 

“No,” Bucky and Natasha answer at once. Steve, feeling like he’d eaten too much of the rich food, starts pushing caviar around his plate. Clint bumps him with his elbow and Steve leans back so Clint can take his plate. He’s liking Clint. He’s like a human garbage disposal.

 

“Oh well,” Stark sighs, shrugging and stabbing a piece of salmon with his fork. “I tried. Tell Pepper I tried.”

 

“Very halfheartedly,” Natasha says.

 

Stark waves the piece of smoked salmon at her. “It’s better than nothing,” he says, and shoves the salmon in his mouth.

 

Steve picks up his coffee, feeling incredibly bored, and tugs his phone from his pocket. He has another text from Darcy, thank God.

 

Mr. Darcy:

How’s breakfast going?

 

He sips his coffee, sets it down and replies.

 

Boring. It’s doubling as a business meeting.

Ouch.

But I met Tony Stark

 

A few seconds pass and he switches to Instagram. Had he been using his old phone, he would have used up all his data for the day in the car, however, he assumes Bucky gave him unlimited data with the iPhone X.

 

Mr. Darcy:

I can’t tell if you’re joking

Nope. He’s a nosy person apparently

What the fuck

 

Bucky’s hand sets on the back of his neck and he looks up. Bucky raises his eyebrows and Steve shrugs. Bucky, without saying anything, waves the waiter over.

 

“Check, thanks,” he says, and the waiter vanishes.

 

“Hey, c’mon, I barely got started!” Stark complains.

 

“Hang around after we leave,” Bucky says shortly. “Or, y’know, actually spend more time eating your fucking breakfast than you do interrogating my Omega.”

 

Steve grins at nothing, gaze fixed on his Instagram feed, and he hears Stark huff. Bucky’s hand gives a little pressure to the back of his neck before dropping to the back of his chair again.

 

Mr. Darcy:

Is he as short as he is on TV?

 

Steve glances up once, then replies.

 

Shorter

Ha!

 

He drains the last of his coffee, then leans back in his chair to rest his head against Bucky’s arm and continue his endless scrolling. After a minute, the waiter appears with a black booklet, hands it to Bucky and steps back. Steve, still in Instagram, considers the discover feed before swiping into it.

 

There’s a photo of James Barnes with his arm around a slight blonde. It’s at the top of the trending topics, right under Kim K’s latest meltdown and the Omega Rights March in DC. America has been enthralled with the world of organized crime and the mafia since The Godfather ’s release in the 70s, and James Barnes being a real-life Michael Corleone makes him viral material. Steve tilts his head, examining his own figure, then screenshots the page and sends it to Darcy. It's rather quick for the picture to have been spread, but his discovery feed is location-based; Steve assumes most of New York is fascinated with its own, real-life Godfather.

 

Mr. Darcy:

Um. What. Steve. That’s you.

Yes.

Next to Kim K?

Check insta

Discovery feed

 

He waits for her to do it. The waiter returns with the check again, Bucky takes his card and puts it away, then stands up, swinging his jacket off the chair and onto his shoulders.

 

“Good seeing you,” Bucky says to Stark, but he’s not looking at him. He’s holding out a hand to Steve. Steve takes it, lets himself be pulled flush against Bucky’s body and tilts his head back to receive a quick kiss.

 

“I’m out,” Natasha announces as Steve takes his jacket off his chair, Bucky’s hand coming to rest on his waist. “Barton, you got shit to do.”

 

“I know,” Clint sighs.

 

“You two can get your own way home?” Bucky says, but he’s already guiding Steve away from the table.

 

“Yeah, yeah, see ya, boss.”

 

Bucky’s hand curls further around his waist. Steve slips his arm around his body and tucks it into his back pocket. The bodyguards follow them out to the car, one opens their door while the other cross around to get inside first. Steve climbs inside, sits down and waits for Bucky to settle in next to him and the bodyguard to shut the door and get in on the other side. He gets up on his knees on the bench and swings a leg over Bucky’s lap, coiling his arms around Bucky’s neck.

 

“You want something, baby?” Bucky asks, raising an eyebrow. But he sets his hands on the small of Steve’s back, sliding them down to grip his ass.

 

“What’s next Friday?” Steve demands.

 

“Gala at Stark Tower,” Bucky says. “You got a suit?”

 

“Nope,” Steve answers, satisfied in the confirmation that he is the plus one.

 

“I’ll pick you up tomorrow,” Bucky says. “Take you to get fitted.”

 

Steve presses their lips together, pushing a hand down the back of Bucky’s jacket and shirt. Bucky’s fingers grip his ass, then one hand detaches to lift up and cup his jaw. Bucky disengages their mouths and Steve does his best not to pout about it.

 

“I'm not one for an audience,” he says quietly, and Steve hardly flicks his gaze back to where the bodyguards sit silently. He does pout. Bucky raises an eyebrow, then lifts his hand to brush a thumb over his cheek before sweeping his hair from his eyes.

 

“Fine,” Steve says, “but I'm not moving.”

 

“Fine,” Bucky agrees.

 

Steve, no longer permitted to begin the writhing he was hoping to do, ducks his head into Bucky’s collar and links his hands together behind Bucky’s back.

 

“What, are you gonna take a nap or something?” Bucky says, chuckling.

 

“Good idea,” Steve mumbles.

 

He adjusts himself so he's pressed to Bucky’s front, to make sure Bucky's aware of their bodies and where they touch. The drive from Madison Avenue to his apartment in Navy Hill takes more than half an hour in the mid-morning traffic, almost an hour that Steve spends making sure Bucky is aware of every point where their bodies touch.

 

When the limo stops at the curb, the kids hanging out on the corner stop throwing around a B-ball to gawk. Steve leans back on Bucky’s lap a moment to fix his hair, then back in to press their lips together for a long moment before pulling back hardly an inch.

 

“You want to come upstairs?” he whispers, his words a ghost to Bucky’s lips.

 

Bucky raises an eyebrow, a hand trailing down his spine, like he's considering it. A corner of Steve's lip curls up.

 

“I don't think it's a good idea,” Bucky says. The corner of Steve’s lip drops downward. “Go upstairs and wait for me to call you.”

 

Steve blinks, then he grins. He kisses Bucky once more, then slips off his lap, to pick up his bag and open the door.

 

“Yes, sir,” he says, stepping out. He mocks a salute for effect, even.

 

Steve shuts the door, glances once at the kids who are still staring, and starts up the steps. He ignores his neighbor staring glassy-eyed at the mailboxes. He takes the stairs, not touching the handrail, opens his apartment door and checks the couch first thing.

 

It is empty. He dumps his bag, locks the door and puts on the chain, then grabs his spiked bat and checks the rest of the apartment. When he's satisfied that Rollins has not entered his home without invitation again, he puts the bat back and goes to his bedroom. He puts his hand to the collar of his shirt, then stops. He has only been told to wait.

 

He grabs his phone, puts a new charger in the power strip at his bedside and plugs in his phone even though it's at 63%. He lays down to wait.

 

It will take almost another hour for Bucky to get back to his penthouse. He makes sure that the ringer on his phone is turned on, then goes back to napping. He had a long night and a longer one ahead of him, he has every right to nap.

 

The generic chiming of an Apple ringtone wakes him. Steve sits up, a moment’s confusion has him rubbing at his eyes, then he snatches his phone off the nightstand and answers it with hardly a glance at the caller ID. He already knows who is calling.

 

“Yes, sir?” Steve murmurs.

 

He hears a low chuckle on the other end of the phone. Steve grins to himself and leans back on the pillows, raising his empty hand above his head so he’s not tempted to touch himself before he’s told to.

 

“Where are you, baby?” Bucky’s voice is as low as his laugh, dripping molten chocolate. It catches at the bottom of Steve’s spine and makes him shiver.

 

“My bedroom. Lying on my bed.”

 

“You undressed yet or what?”

 

“You just said to wait,” Steve says. He drops his hand to the neck of his shirt, curling his fingers into the collar.

 

He can imagine Bucky’s predatory grin as he hears the low chuckle once more.

 

“Take your clothes off, doll.”

 

He sits up, puts the phone on speaker, and strips his shirt off over his head. He drops back to lift his hips up and shove his jeans and underwear down, then picks up the phone again and lays back with it in hand, still on speaker.

 

“Done,” he says, as he’s not sure what else he should say. He’s never had phone sex before. He’s buzzing with anticipation.

 

“I want you to play with your nipples a bit. Get your fingers nice and wet first.”

 

Steve shuts his eyes, then sucks a few fingers into his mouth before dropping a hand to his chest. He pinches, then rolls his thumb over the hardening peak.

 

“You doin’ it, baby?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve mumbles.

 

“Good. Pinch ‘em for me, pretend like it’s my mouth on you.”

 

Steve pinches, hard, then lets out a long, low sound. He hears movement on the phone, a heavy weight falling onto something soft, a belt buckle. He shudders again at the sound of the belt coming undone.

 

“Take your fingers down, nice and slow, doll, tease yourself a bit.”

 

Steve releases his nipple, then trails his hand down his chest, fingers parting over the piercing in his navel, down further.

 

He hears a zipper and his skin is vibrating.

 

“Go slow, now, doll, don’t go too fast. You got the phone on speaker?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve mumbles once more.

 

“Put your fingers in your mouth. Suck on ‘em, like you would my cock.”

 

He drops the phone with a quiet whimper, then pushes three fingers of his now free hand into his mouth. He hears a quiet breath, a sleeve rustling as a hand moves.

 

“Hum for me, baby boy.”

 

He hums, loud enough so the phone can pick it up.

 

“Tha’s good. Doin’ real good for me, now, Stevie. You sucking on your fingers, got those pretty nails down your throat, baby?”

 

He hums again to answer a yes. His nails press down on the back of his tongue, sharp enough to remind him that they aren’t what he wants in his mouth but light enough not to make him gag.

 

“You thinkin’ about having my cock down your throat, baby?”

 

Steve hums, the syllables of yessir parting around his fingers.

 

“Speed your hand up, baby. Fuck your pretty fingers. Tomorrow, I’m gonna have you sit on my face and suck my cock.”

 

Steve fully moans, his hand tightening and his tongue working harder around his fingers.

 

“I’m gonna get my tongue up that gorgeous ass a’yours, baby, I’m gonna eat you out ‘til you come on my chest. You fucking your hand, doll?”

 

He groans to answer. His hips roll into the movements of his hand.

 

“I’m jerking off listening to you, you know that, right?”

 

Steve lets out a longer hum, a flash of heat filling his whole body at the thought. He can hear, over the phone’s excellent audio system, the sound of a sleeve shifting, fingers slipping on something wet, the deepening of Bucky’s voice and it makes him heavy with want. He sucks harder on his fingers, thinking about what Bucky tasted like, how he smelled, the heat of his body, and his hand picks up the pace a bit more.

 

“I can hear your every whimper, baby boy. You want something up that greedy ass a’yours, don’tcha?”

 

Steve pulls his fingers from his mouth, just to exhale: “Yessir.”

 

“Bet you’re wet, baby. Bet you’re dripping just listening to me, too. You hear?”

 

The sounds of fingers slipping on something wet get louder and Steve’s toes curl.

 

“Yessir,” he says, panting. “Yessir, I hear.”

 

“You drippin', baby? Check for me.”

 

Steve drops his other hand, spreading his legs wider and letting one foot fall off the edge of his twin bed, and he lets out a long moan.

 

“There you go, got your fingers up your ass, didn’t you? My little cockslut can’t go a minute without somethin’ fillin’ up his greedy hole, can he?”

 

“No, sir,” Steve mumbles, and it takes a lot of effort. His core is tense and there is heat pooling low in his belly, he wants Bucky to say cockslut again in his molten chocolate tone.

 

“I’m gonna have you sit on my face and stuff your mouth full ‘til your throat’s raw and you lose your voice, baby boy. You want that?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve answers, toes curling almost until his calves cramp.

 

“Sometime soon, I’m gonna have you on your knees and tie your hands behind your back, then I’m gonna make you come just by talkin’ to you, doll. ‘Course, I’ll feed you my cock while I’m at it.”

 

Steve whines at the thought, trying to get his fingers deeper.

 

“Think you could do that? Think you could come just by sucking my cock, little cumslut?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve murmurs, and while he has no clue if he actually could, he really wants to try it now.

 

“God, baby. I can hear you working those pretty fingers, it’s fucking gorgeous. Y’know your slick’s the best I ever smelled? Best I ever tasted? Tastes like cookie dough, like gingerbread, baby.”

 

“Sir,” Steve exhales, just to say it. “Sir, I wanna come. I’m close. Sir, can I come?”

 

“You wanna come, already? Been only fifteen minutes, baby. Maybe I wanna play with you a while longer.”

 

“Sir, please,” Steve begs; it’s harder to deny himself the pleasure he so desperately wants when Bucky isn’t there to keep it from him. “Please?”

 

“I’m thinkin’ ‘bout your taste, baby boy, I gotta admit, I’m close thinkin’ ‘bout you.”

 

“Sir,” Steve whimpers.

 

“You writhing in your bed, baby? You all flushed and sweaty, gettin’ your sheets all dirty dripping slick on ‘em?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve says, “‘m not even on the sheets, ‘m on the blanket, sir, I wanna come.”

 

“Couldn’t even get under the covers, baby boy’s so horny. You really wanna come? You wanna make me happy?”

 

“Yessir, yes, please, please, sir –”

 

“You gonna come thinkin’ about having your pretty ass stuffed up by my cock, baby?”

 

“Yessir!”

 

“Your little fingers ain’t nearly enough to play pretend, baby, but I don’t guess you wanna take the time to find somethin’ bigger, do you?”

 

“Please, no, please, I wanna come now!”

 

“You gonna come thinkin’ about me making a mess of your pretty hole, baby?”

 

“Yessir!” he gasps again; Bucky has to let him come soon, he has to, Steve wants to obey so bad but he’s too close –

 

“Come.”

 

Steve gasps aloud, long and loud and lewd, hands milking the burst of pleasure, and Bucky’s on the other end of the phone growling dark and predatory, like he’s just come, too. Eventually, Steve falls still, dirty hands dropping onto the bedspread above his head.

 

“You made a mess, baby boy?”

 

“Yessir,” he murmurs.

 

“You got me makin’ a mess of my good suit, doll. I was gonna wear this to meeting later, now I’m gonna have to change.”

 

Steve’s lips lift in a smile, dazed and blissed out as he pictures it. “Good,” he exhales.

 

Bucky chuckles, low and dark.

 

“You gonna be thinkin’ ‘bout me the rest of the night?” Bucky asks then. “You gonna think about who you belong to?”

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve whispers happily. He’s gonna be thinking about Bucky the rest of his whole damn life.

 

“Good,” Bucky echoes. “I’ll pick you up at noon tomorrow.”

 

Steve grins again, rolling onto his side to look at the phone. “To get fitted or so I can sit on your face?”

 

Bucky chuckles once more. “Both. We’ll see what order they come in later.”

 

“I know which I want to come first.”

 

“I know you do, baby. But ain’t the anticipation what makes it all better?”

 

“I’ll anticipate it all tonight,” Steve promises, and Bucky laughs, low, again.

 

“We’ll see what mood I’m in.”

 

Steve smiles to himself and stretches. “Make it two, would you? I’ll be getting in late tonight.”

 

“Fine, two. Be on time, doll.”

 

“Ain’t I always?” Steve mumbles. He settles back onto his pillow, shutting his eyes. For a moment, he wishes he could press back against Bucky’s chest. He ignores it.

 

“You fallin’ asleep on me, baby?”

 

“No,” Steve mutters, though it’s an obvious lie. Bucky laughs once again, pleased, but not very predatory.

 

“Take a nap, Stevie. You earned it.”

 

“Mmkay,” Steve agrees easily. It makes Bucky laugh again and his lips curl up, just as pleased. He wipes his hands on the blanket, since it's already filthy, then kicks away the dirty blanket to crawl under his sheets, picking up his phone to set an alarm.

 

“Night, baby,” Bucky says, and Steve had half forgotten he was still there. “Stay safe tonight.”

 

“Night, Buck,” he says.

 

The call ends. Steve tries not to feel cold for it and pulls the sheets farther up. He sets an alarm for five, so he can get some dinner before he gets ready for the night, plugs the phone in and curls up in a tight ball to fall asleep.

Chapter Text

mildew, dust, moist breath

 

It’s not the alarm that wakes him, it’s the generic ringtone. Steve groans and rolls over to smack at his new phone vaguely until he can pick it up and squint at the screen.

 

Darcy’s calling. It’s not yet five. He groans again, then swipes a thumb over the screen and presses the phone to his ear.

 

“I’m going to summon a swamp witch to curse you for waking me up five fucking minutes before my alarm went off,” he says.

 

“Yeah, yeah, you’re summoning swamp witches for a variety of things. You wanna get ready at my place?”

 

Steve rubs at his eyes, rolling onto his back, then shrugs even though she has no way of knowing he’s shrugging. “Yeah, sure. I’ll bring food. Bucky gave me a credit card.”

 

“You’re fucking with me. First, you go viral ‘cause Barnes put his arm around you, now you’re flashing his plastic.”

 

“Yep," Steve says. "He told me to buy real food, so I’m not bringing McDonald’s.”

 

“Please bring Chipotle.”

 

“I was thinking Noodles and Company, but Chipotle’s good.”

 

He throws the sheet off and sits up, only vaguely remembering why he’s naked in the haze of post-sleep. He snatches his clothes off the floor, then tosses them onto the bed to get them out of his way.

 

“Noodles are good,” Darcy says on the phone.

 

“Pick one,” he tells her. He grabs underwear from his dresser and sweats, tugging them on before wandering the room while Darcy hums to gather the things he’ll need for the night. “What are you wearing tonight?” he asks, considering leather pants and a pair of ripped jeans.

 

“Probably too much lace. And get noodles, I want Pad Thai.”

 

He goes with the leather. “Can I use your black lipstick?”

 

“Sure, not like you usually just use my shit without asking.”

 

Steve rolls his eyes. “Not like you actually care. I gave you a Kylie lip kit for your birthday, didn’t I?”

 

“Stevie, honey,” Darcy laughs, “you gave me a dupe.”

 

“Ehh,” he says, putting the leather pants and a corset-esque vest into a bag, “same difference. The knock-off was better, anyway.”

 

“For that, bring coffee, too.”

 

“Yeah, yeah,” he says, “see you in a bit.”

 

“Bye, babe!”

 

He makes fake kissy noises at the phone, then hangs up on her laughter and shoves the phone in a pocket. He grabs a makeup bag and a pair of death metal heels that will make him a full 5’7” instead of his actual 5’1”, shoves each into the bag on top of the clothes before grabbing a full-length leather duster to complete the look. He throws on a shirt to wear to Darcy’s. He tugs on a beanie, throws a last few things in his bag, then yanks on socks and shoves his feet into a pair of sneakers before going out the door, snagging his keys, wallet, and charger on the way.

 

He throws his bag in the back seat, then frowns at the aux cable he was about to plug his phone into. He’ll have to get a converter, since the iPhone X doesn’t have a headphone jack. Or check the box the phone came in, but he left that at Bucky’s place. Steve just shrugs to himself, props the phone in a stand and plays music over its speakers instead of the car’s. The phone’s might actually be better.

 

Stop one is Starbucks, where he gets Darcy her frappuccino and himself a six-shot latte, because the night’s gonna be fucking long and he’s not looking to fall asleep at one AM, then Noodles & Company for dinner before he pulls up outside Darcy’s building. He texts her that he’s outside, grabs his shit and the food, then makes his way up to her floor. He has to take the stairs, and even without his hands full, he wouldn’t touch the hand railing in her building, either.

 

He kicks the door instead of knocking. Darcy opens it in leggings and a bright pink bra.

 

“Yasss,” she sighs happily, plucking the slightly melted frap out of his hand and immediately walking away again.

 

“You could help!” he calls after her, juggling his latte, gym bag, and takeout bag of noodles. He kicks the door shut behind him, dumping his gym bag by her couch and putting the takeout bag on the coffee table.

 

Darcy drops onto her sofa, sipping her frap. “You put extra espresso in it, right?”

 

“Yes, yes,” Steve agrees. “Two blended in, two on top. Barista probably thought I was gonna give you a heart attack.”

 

Darcy just shrugs, content to enjoy her blended coffee. Steve rolls his eyes, unpacking the food. Pad Thai for her and spicy noodles for him, plus a bowl of tomato soup ‘cause he’d paid with Bucky’s credit card and he had the room to splurge a little. They’ll probably end up sharing it, because, again, they have no boundaries anymore.

 

“I swear, if I was stranded on a desert island, I’d bring my barista,” Darcy announces.

 

“That would be completely useless because your barista doesn’t come equipped with a fully stocked Starbucks,” Steve says.

 

“Details,” Darcy retorts, snatching her takeout container and a fork before leaning back on the couch to put her legs up. “We’re getting picked up, Russo said to call at nine, you wanna watch some TV while we eat?”

 

“Sure.”

 

Steve picks up her legs and tosses them out of his way so he can sit down, but she just puts them back in his lap. He rolls his eyes and she wiggles her toes in a pair of luridly pink fuzzy socks. Darcy grabs a remote and turns on her TV, a monster of a thing she’d picked up at a garage sale three years ago and had forced Steve to help carry up to her fifth-floor apartment. It’s so old it actually has VCR input and output that she had to buy converters to hook up her BluRay player. The converter had ultimately been more expensive than the TV, plus Steve made her pay his bill when she smashed his hand with the monster TV and broken one of his fingers.

 

“Friends?” she suggests.

 

“Nah,” Steve says, mouth half full.

 

“We’re not playing this game,” Darcy answers instantly.

 

Steve swallows. “What game?”

 

“The game where I suggest things and you say nah until both of us have finished eating.”

 

Steve considers this. “Nah.”

 

“Fuck you,” Darcy declares, flicking a bit of parsley at him.

 

“That only accomplished making your couch dirtier than it already is,” he says, flicking the parsley onto the cushion by her knee.

 

“Fuck you,” Darcy repeats.

 

“It’ll be eight fifty,” Steve retorts.

 

She gives him the middle finger. “Fuck you and your eight fifty in half an hour.”

 

Darcy makes seven hundred in half an hour on average. Steve’s got the novelty of being a male Omega on his side.

 

“I don’t make the rules,” Steve says with smug pleasure, tucking back into his noodles. “Turn on CSI, I like that.”

 

“Fine,” Darcy sighs. Not like she binge-watches CSI: New York every few days.

 

Steve resettles into the couch, grabbing his latte off the coffee table every few minutes, takes his time in enjoying his noodles. It’s hardly six and his makeup takes barely an hour to do. Darcy finishes her food by the time the first episode is over, but she brings her shit out into the living room to do her makeup while watching. When he finishes, he drags his bag over and ends up hogging half her mirror, seeing as his is five inches across and can’t stand up on its own. They bump elbows and he steals some of her eyeshadow while she steals his matte blood red lipstick, and it’s their usual camaraderie. He likes getting ready with her; she does his eyeliner on his left eye ‘cause he always makes it a little crooked and he ends up curling her hair when eight thirty rolls around and she’s perfecting her eyebrows still, and it’s a hell of a lot better than when he always got ready in his apartment alone and his hands were shaking.

 

Sure, the job gets easier the longer you do it, but it’s even easier when you’ve got a friend, and Steve’s glad he’s got Darcy as one.

 

“Are you gonna steal my Victorian choker?” she asks at eight forty-five.

 

“Already stole it,” Steve answers with a grin.

 

Darcy rolls her eyes.

 

They end up leaving at nine-thirty, but the bars are hardly opening by that time anyway. They check in with Russo, who drops them off at the corner of 88th and Prince between a couple different dives and a tavern or three, two rooms at a motel down the road rented for the night to do business in if needed. Steve, with half his midriff exposed by his vest so his navel piercing can catch the streetlights and only a leather duster to keep him warm, prays somebody comes along soon because it’s still fucking November and he’s freezing. Darcy’s not much better off; her dress is half lace and her leggings are nearly transparent. Full-length fur coats don’t attract clients, after all.

 

Fortunately, Saturday nights are always busy. Before midnight, Steve’s hiding nearly four grand in the lining of his duster and Darcy’s got almost as much stuffed in her coat. Russo’ll be coming by around twelve thirty to take the cash off them, it’s twelve eighteen and Steve’s still freezing his ass off. His toes are nice and warm. He’s wearing platform spiked boots. Darcy’s wearing open toes to show off her fancy pedicure.

 

“I can’t feel my pinky toes,” she says for the eighth time in the past ten minutes.

 

Steve checks his phone again. “Russo better bring us caffeine,” he mutters, then yawns.

 

“Russo better drag us back for a break,” she hisses back. “I’m on forty percent.”

 

She means her phone battery. Steve prods her jacket. “You’ve got a power cell.”

 

“Used it while you were with Short-Dark-and-Scary,” she says.

 

Steve rolls his eyes. “His name’s Logan, Darce.”

 

“Short-Dark-and-Scary,” Darcy insists. “So fucking glad he was too drunk to tell you were a dude.”

 

Steve shrugs again. “Didn’t seem to bother him later.”

 

He puts his phone away. His battery’s not lasting the longest, either, and he doesn’t have a power cell. (Though it’s so much better than his old phone, which would have died within an hour in this cold.) He crosses his arms over his chest, huffing upward to blow a strand of hair back up into the spiked ‘do he’s got it in, checks the road and shivers. Everything slows down around midnight. It’ll pick up again around one thirty, but they’re going home at three whether it’s slow or not. Most places on Prince have last-call at two-thirty, anyway.

 

He checks the road again. Darcy flips her hair over her shoulder, adjusting her stance to expose her cleavage better as somebody leaves the bar next door. Steve clamps his jaw to stop himself from yawning but otherwise does nothing. Dude’s staring at his phone and looks stone cold sober, so he doubts he’s worth much.

 

The guy walks on. Steve looks down the road, wondering where the hell Russo is, then does a double take to look towards the other end of Prince.

 

He elbows Darcy. She looks up and he points towards a short figure taking the crowded sidewalk at a fast walk.

 

“Is that a kid?” he hisses.

 

Darcy squints down the road; her distance vision is considerably better than his, but he’s seeing what looks like a twelve or thirteen-year-old girl making her way down Prince. She’s wearing a puffy purple jacket and a rainbow beanie that hardly fits over her kinky hair, hugging herself against the cold.

 

“Oh, shit,” Darcy says under her breath.

 

“What the fuck is a kid doing out here at this time of night?” Steve half spits, already walking. “What the fuck is a kid doing out here at all?

 

“Hey, what about Russo?”

 

Steve waves a hand at her; he’ll check in later. He starts at a light jog, too, crossing the blocks towards where the girl’s edging past a group of drunk college kids. He runs faster, as fast as he can on six-inch heels, but the frat boys have already noticed her.

 

“Aw, what’s a cute girl like you doin’ all alone?”

 

Shit, he thinks. The girl, like an idiot, stops in her tracks to turn around. Even from a distance, she looks startled.

 

“Hey, sweetie, what’s your name?”

 

Steve grinds his teeth; kid’s obviously no more than thirteen, what the fuck is wrong with these guys?

 

“What’s your number?”

 

“Nice ass, baby!”

 

“Hey!” Steve yells, half a block away now. “Hey, assholes! Fuck off!”

 

“Make me!” one yells.

 

Steve gets level with the girl, who, up close, looks barely eleven and scared stiff by the adult men cat-calling her. She looks at him, startles again at his appearance, but as he gets close enough that she can smell him, she lights up in relief, obviously realizing that he’s an Omega.

 

Kids flock to Omegas when they’re scared, usually their mothers, but in this case, Steve’s all this girl’s got.

 

“Get outta here before I call the cops on your drunk asses!” he yells at the frat boys. The girl sidesteps, ducking to hide behind him, and he half spreads his arms as if to cover her. He hopes these drunks don’t realize he’s tiny and decide that they can take him in a fight. He’s prepared to fight, though. His death metal heels double as bludgeoning weapons and his nails are sharp enough to be claws. He left deep marks in Logan’s back earlier, since he was into that sort of thing, he’ll claw these motherfuckers’ eyes out for looking at a child and not caring.

 

“Whatever,” several of them grumble. They’re moving on and he heaves a sigh of relief.

 

“Hey, how much?” someone else yells at him.

 

Steve ignores them. They’re not worth it; he grabs the girl by the arm and starts tugging her away. “What the hell are you doing, kid? Where are your parents?”

 

“I’m running away!” the girl snaps. She has enough smarts to yank her arm out of his grip; even if he’s an Omega, he’s a stranger. Yet she keeps close anyway as they move away from the drunk frat boys.

 

“Alright,” Steve sighs. “Look, kid, what you’re doing is immensely stupid. You’re what, eleven, twelve? Even if you’re running away, what the hell are you doing running away through the red light district? Run away towards the damn park!”

 

“I dunno,” the girl mutters.

 

Steve checks the road again; Russo’s stopped by the corner and Darcy’s leaning in the window, then stops and tugs out his phone. “Okay. Alright, kid, here’s what’s gonna happen. You’re gonna call your mom and tell her where to come get you. We’re just gonna wait here ‘til she shows up, okay?”

 

“I told you –” she starts angrily.

 

“Girl, don’t get smart with me,” Steve interrupts. “You’ve probably scared your parents half to death already, whatever you’re running away over, it’s not worth getting yanked off the street by some drunk. How old are you?”

 

“Eleven and a half,” she mutters. Steve sighs. She’s too young to realize what he means, and while that’s a good thing, it makes her naive, which makes her vulnerable. He shakes his head, unlocks his phone and hands it to her.

 

“Call your mom,” he insists. “I’ll wait with you, alright?”

 

She takes the phone reluctantly. She’s not even wearing gloves; it’s nearly December, and New York is cruel with snow on her back. “I’m not even s’posed to talk to strangers,” she says, but she’s dialing a number.

 

“My name’s Steve, if it makes you feel better,” Steve tells her.

 

He looks down the road while she presses the phone to her ear. Darcy’s glancing up at them and back into the car. She points to him, he gives her a shrug. Darcy opens the door and hops in, then the car starts rolling. Steve pulls his jacket around himself tighter as the car nears. The girl looks up and shrinks closer to him.

 

“It’s alright, it’s just my friends,” Steve says, waving a flat hand over his neck to indicate that they shouldn’t come closer, but Russo’s already parking in front of them. The girl shrinks into her puffy jacket.

 

Darcy hops back out. The girl looks a little less scared at the sight of her, another Omega. “Hey,” she says to the girl, kindly. “What’re you doing, sweetie?”

 

“We’re calling her mom,” Steve says quickly.

 

“Billy, gimme your coat,” Darcy snaps into the car.

 

“Bitch, don’t –”

 

“I said give!” she retorts. He hears Russo sigh, but he shifts to take the coat off, then leans out and hands her it. Darcy drapes it over the girl’s shoulders, its length covering her legs clad in pink sweats and she hugs it about her.

 

“What’s your name, love?” she asks.

 

“Emmy,” the girl mumbles.

 

“Is your mom picking up?” Steve asks.

 

She shrugs. “It’s dialing.”

 

Russo leans farther out the car. “Hey, cough up, Steve.”

 

“Wait a minute,” Steve says.

 

“I ain’t got all night –”

 

“Wait!” Steve snaps.

 

Russo rolls his eyes. He looks at the girl, then away, clearly twice as pissed. “We’re picking up strays now?” he snaps.

 

“Shut up, Russo,” Darcy and Steve answer at the same time. Brass Fang made a habit of picking up strays back when Garrett was in charge, anyway, and Russo’s too fresh to know that.

 

The asshole has the nerve to cluck his tongue, but it’s not even remotely frightening coming from somebody as useless as Billy Russo, compared to the way it is when it’s coming from James Barnes. He puts the car in park and sits back in his chair.

 

Steve hears the line click and turns to face Emmy. He can’t hear the person on the other end greeting her, though.

 

“Mom?” Emmy says.

 

He does hear the mom screech out: “OhmygodEmily!” though.

 

Emmy winces a couple times as her mom shrieks across the phone, going so far as to hold the phone away from her ear a few inches. Steve tries not to listen, but he can’t help catching a few words; Mom’s been terrified looking for her all night.

 

“I’m sorry,” Emmy mumbles when her mom finally pauses for breath. “I’m okay, I swear, I’m using somebody’s phone, him and his friends said they’d stay with me until you come to pick me up. No, no, Mama, they’re Omegas, his friend’s a lady, his name’s Steve, he’s nice, he insisted I call you. He called me stupid for running away, though.”

 

Steve only raises his eyebrows. He hears Mom give a hysterical laugh and Emmy smiles weakly.

 

“Tell her you’re on Prince near Boyd’s Tavern,” Darcy says.

 

“I’m on Prince near Boyd’s Tavern,” Emmy repeats.

 

“YOU’RE WHERE?” Mom starts shrieking again. Emmy winces again. Steve totally understands her mother’s panic. Her child is in the middle of the red light district.

 

“Stay on the phone ‘til she gets here,” Steve says quickly.

 

“Mama, Steve says to stay on the phone until you get here,” Emmy says, probably interrupting her mother starting a new tirade. “When will you be here?”

 

She lifts the phone away from her mouth to say: “Ten minutes,” to Steve. He nods.

 

“Okay,” she adds to her mother. “I’m really sorry.”

 

Russo sighs in the car. Darcy sticks her middle finger up at him without looking. Steve bends half over to give him a stink eye.

 

“Time is money!” Russo snaps.

 

“Eleven!” Steve hisses, pointing to the girl. “You can wait ten minutes!”

 

Russo shakes his head, looking out his other window. Darcy puts her arm around Emmy’s shoulder and rubs her arm. Emmy leans into her, shrinking into her jacket. Her mother’s still talking on the phone, Steve catches snippets of the threats of how long she’s going to ground Emmy for. He gets it; he’d ground his kid for a year if they ran off and ended up in a place like this. Fuck, his own ma’s probably trying to find a way to reincarnate herself just so she can track him down and box his ears in for ending up where he is.

 

Steve pushes away thoughts of his mother. They never lead to good places.

 

The ten minutes take ages to go by. Steve half listens to Emmy’s mom on the phone, constantly looking up and down the road for cars approaching, Emmy stays huddled under Darcy’s arm with the phone pressed to her ear. A beat-up Toyota approaches and finally, Emmy pulls away to flag it down.

 

The driver pulls up behind Russo’s car, leaves it running to get out and a woman runs out. Emmy pushes the phone into Steve’s hands and runs to meet her; the woman snatching her up and lifting her off her feet.

 

“You’re lucky I don’t whoop your skinny ass for scaring me like that!” Emmy’s mom sobs.

 

Russo snaps his fingers at Steve. Steve shows him his middle finger and walks up to the embracing mother and daughter.

 

“We’re the ones that found her,” he says, making eye contact with Mom. “We’re glad she’s safe.”

 

Emmy’s mother looks up him and down, then Darcy, then holds her daughter tighter. Steve doesn’t blame her.

 

“Thank you,” she says, however.

 

Steve gives a nod. He sees a tattoo on the mom’s forearm, the symbol of East Street Soldados. She catches where his gaze is, but doesn’t look ashamed of it in any way. He grabs his sleeve and tugs it back, showing her the inside of his wrist and the open tiger’s maw that mark him part of Brass Fang. She nods, too.

 

“Thank you,” she repeats. Soldados and Fang aren’t enemies, they’re not friends, either, but right there, he and this woman are allies.

 

“Anytime,” he says. She pulls away from Emmy, guiding her into the car. The second he sees Emmy safely in her mother’s car, he turns back to unload his jacket for Russo.

 

“Any chance you brought us coffee?” he asks.

 

Russo does not look impressed. “Just get back to work, you’ve wasted enough time.”

 

“You know what, fuck you,” Steve says. He throws the last of his money onto the passenger seat, four grand and already plenty to break even five times for the rent on his room and the gas Russo’s spent driving around the entire night. “I’m done for tonight. I’m sick.”

 

“Steve,” Russo tries to say warningly.

 

“Yeah, I think I’m about to puke,” Darcy adds in a vicious tone. “Smelled a skunk, maybe.”

 

Russo glares at her. Steve shows him his middle finger again, then links his arm with Darcy and they start walking.

 

“Rollins is gonna beat your asses for this!” Russo yells from his car.

 

“Tell Rollins he can suck my dick!” Steve yells over his shoulder.

 

“And mine, too!” Darcy adds.

 

“Fuck you, lazy ass bitches!”

 

Darcy turns halfway around to stick her tongue out, but they carry on. Steve’s feet are killing him and he’ll bet Darcy’s are in a worse state, but they walk all the way from Prince and 88th to her apartment, nearly an hour in nearly freezing temperatures. They get offers ten or twenty times each on the way and their responses are always the middle finger. They’re done for the night.

 

“You wanna stay over?” she offers, unlocking her door.

 

“Nah,” he says, though he yawns. “Bucky’s picking me up in the afternoon. He’s taking me to get a suit.”

 

“Fancy,” Darcy says. She yawns, too, kicking off her shoes as she walks in. Steve kicks the door shut, then starts changing immediately while she flops onto her couch.

 

“Hey, go to bed,” he warns, “take your makeup off.”

 

“In’a minute,” she mumbles.

 

He tugs his death metal heels off, leaving him in just his leather pants and socks, then yanks on her ankles. “Actual bed, actually take your makeup off.”

 

“Ugh,” Darcy declares. She gets up, though. “I don’t deserve this.”

 

“Hell no, you don’t deserve me,” Steve counters her insult. He gives her a light push towards her room. “Makeup!”

 

She waves a hand. Steve peels off his leather pants, tugging on his sweatpants and shirt of earlier. He shoves his shit into his bag, then goes to check that Darcy’s actually taking her makeup off. She’s carefully pulling off her false eyelashes.

 

“Night,” he says.

 

“Night,” she agrees, waving at him in the mirror. “Enjoy suit shopping. Tell me why the hell you’re suit-shopping in the morning.”

 

Steve waves once more, dismissively this time, then makes his way out, putting his duster back on. He makes sure that the handle’s locked when he leaves, calling out a reminder to Darcy that she actually lock her door as he leaves. Steve yawns on his way down the stairs, unlocking his phone and checking his notifications. He’s got a text from Rollins calling him all sorts of nice names for skimping out on the last two hours of the night, which he ignores, and an email from Lush, which he also ignores. He’d been hoping for a text or something from Bucky, but there’s nothing. Pouting, he puts his phone into his pocket.

 

In his car, he takes a minute to rub his eyes before starting the engine. He’s trying not to think about how everyone he knows is tied to some kind of gang and how his mother would be horrified if she knew how he paid his rent.

 

There’s traffic, even at two in the morning. It takes him nearly another hour to get home, and he almost forgets to take his bag upstairs when he parks behind the building.

 

Steve takes the stairs, dragging his feet and not touching the handrail. He reaches his door, takes out his keys, and only after he’s got his key in the deadbolt does he see that the door’s open.

 

“Fucking Rollins,” he hisses. He shoves the door open and dumps his bag, rounding on the couch to tell Rollins he can shove a cactus up his ass or something equally terrible, like cuddle a live and hungry crocodile.

 

The couch is empty. Steve frowns, then looks around for his pimp. He freezes, then turns around slowly to face his TV.

 

Where his TV should be. His cheap TV he bought at Wal-Mart five years ago and has to bribe Ward’s cousin Parker from Starbucks into fixing every few months. His cheap ass TV that ain’t worth a dime but isn’t fucking in his apartment.

 

“No,” he hisses under his breath. “Fuck, no. Fucking hell, no.”

 

Steve grabs the door, then claps a hand over his mouth because the door had been forced open, not unlocked. He runs for his bedroom, drops to his knees and digs under the bed for the coffee tin he hides his cash in, and it’s empty.

 

“No, no, no!” he sobs, crashing onto the floor. He doesn’t even want to look for what else is gone. He’s been fucking robbed. He’s been fucking robbed, and sure, he keeps most of his money in a bank, but that coffee tin had three thousand dollars in it easily, and that’s not even counting the money Barnes gave him that night at the warehouse. The fucking money he was gonna give his landlord for this month’s rent was in that fucking coffee tin.

 

“Fuck,” he hisses. He doesn’t know what to do. He can’t call the cops. Rollins is pissed at him, he can’t call him. His landlord probably won’t give a shit or will want to call the cops and, again, he can’t call them.

 

He stares, out of his mind, into the empty coffee tin. He doesn’t know what to do. He stares for way longer than necessary, then puts it aside to go looking for what else is missing. His laptop’s gone. His microwave and coffee maker are gone. The DVD player, VCR that hasn’t worked in months, his old off-brand MP3 player and the external CD drive that Rumlow had him using to pirate music and movies are stolen. That’s just the stuff he can see right away. Whoever robbed him even took his fucking toaster.

 

The picture of his parents that had been by the TV lies crumpled on the floor, a boot print marring his ma’s face. The frame, which had probably looked gold in the low lights, is gone. Steve drops onto the floor to pick it up, pressing a hand to his mouth and trying not to cry. There’s a muddy boot print on his ma’s face. It’s the only picture of her he has. Sure, he can print another one, but that picture and that frame had sat on his ma’s headboard for the first sixteen years of his life and when she passed and all their things had been snatched up and sold at auction, it had been all he had left of her. It’s the only picture of his dad that he has, even digitally. He doesn’t have a copy of this photo on his Google drive like he has copies of pictures of his ma.

 

Steve doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t know who to call to fix this. He doesn’t know if this can even be fixed. The stuff, that’s all just stuff, half of it was shit and worthless anyway and he’s moving out soon, so the fuck does he need with a shitty TV or cheap toaster, but he doesn’t have any other pictures of both his parents and this one is marred by mud.

 

What can he do at three in the morning, either? Steve gets up and shuts the door, even though it’s busted, and puts the chain on it. He drags the sofa in front of it for good measure. He takes the ruined picture of his parents and splays it out on his nightstand, brushing uselessly at the mud stains, then collapses onto his bed. He buries his face in his pillow and tries to muffle his sobbing.

 

He cries himself to sleep, forgetting to set an alarm. His phone battery probably dies during the night, too, because he never hears it ringing. He’s woken up by banging on the door.

 

Steve jolts up, neck stiff from lying on his stomach all night. There’s someone banging on his door, and when he checks the time, he scrambles out of bed to answer it, thinking it’s Bucky annoyed that he’s late. It’s quarter past two. He hadn’t thought about Bucky. Honestly, all he wants is to collapse into Bucky’s arms like some cliche and cry until Barnes makes it better.

 

He shoves the couch out of the way, undoes the chain with shaking hands and yanks the door open.

 

“You’re late with the rent,” his landlord, Trevor Slattery, snaps. Not Bucky.

 

Steve deflates. “Look,” he sighs, “my place got broken into last night and all my cash got stolen. Gimme a few days –”

 

Slattery shoves his way in, though. “You’re already a week late, Rogers!”

 

“I got robbed last night!” Steve shouts. Pissed and exhausted and fucking robbed, he fucking hates Slattery right now. “Look around!” he says, gesturing to his ransacked apartment. “Can you cut me a little slack?!”

 

Slattery shoves at his shoulders, looking angry still. “I’ve cut you slack a thousand times, you’re always late with the damn rent, bitch, it’s not even that much!”

 

“I got robbed!” Steve yells again, like Slattery’s stupid.

 

“Then that’s your security deposit gone,” Slattery snaps.

 

“You absolute piece of shit,” Steve says. He deflates even more. “Are you serious right now?”

 

Slattery softens a little. He backs up some, not as in his face, and crosses his arms over his chest. “Alright,” he says, sighing. He shakes his head, looking around. He shuts the door and Steve takes a step back, not liking where this is going. “Fine. You can just pay in kind.”

 

Steve clenches his jaw. Slattery looks at him expectantly.

 

“Are you serious,” Steve repeats flatly.

 

“I’ll go easy on you,” Slattery says, like this is completely nothing, “just a suckjob. Considering you’ve been robbed, it’s the least I can do for you to forgo your rent this month.”

 

“Are you serious? ” Steve snaps. “No! I’m not giving you a fucking BJ –”

 

Slattery scoffs. Steve stops to gape at him, disgusted.

 

“You’re serious! Oh, my God, you absolute piece of shit –”

 

“Just do it,” Slattery snaps.

 

“No!”

 

“Get on your knees!” Slattery barks.

 

Steve’s knees give out against his will. He shuts his mouth with a snap, eyes going wide as he can’t quite catch his breath. Fuck.

 

Slattery gives a nod, uncrossing his arms. “It’s not that big a deal. I’m sure you do this all the time, Rogers, you’re a hooker.”

 

“This is rape,” Steve starts to say.

 

“Shut up,” Slattery commands. Steve’s tongue is too large for his mouth. “You should be thanking me. This is a whole two grand I’m forgiving, for what, fifteen minutes of your time? Twenty minutes, at the most.”

 

Steve tries to wrench his jaw open or move, but he can’t do either. He fucking hates Alpha voices. How the fuck was this an evolutionary development. Why wasn’t every Alpha who could produce an Alpha voice slaughtered a million billion years ago, and why was it passed down?

 

Steve shuts his eyes, grimacing as Slattery undoes his belt. Slattery grabs his jaw, then forces a thumb between his lips. Steve bites it hard and Slattery yelps.

 

“Don’t bite!” Slattery commands. “Open your mouth!”

Steve’s jaw drops open, but his tongue is still too large for his mouth. He can’t talk and now his jaw is lax. He’s lucky Slattery isn’t commanding him to look at him.

 

Someone bangs on the door. Slattery claps a hand over his open mouth and Steve tries his damnedest to bite down despite the command.

 

“Steve!”

 

Bucky’s voice. Bucky. Bucky’s on the other side of the door. Steve can’t bite down or make his tongue work.

 

“Answer your fucking phone, Steve!”

 

“Be quiet!” Slattery hisses the command. He hisses it, barely loud enough for Steve to hear, and it’s not a full command.

 

Steve finds his breath and just screams.

 

He hears a crash and the door bang open. Slattery is thrown away and Steve’s yanked off his knees, tugged into a muscled body that smells like cigars and cedar smoke. He presses his face into Bucky’s chest, sagging in relief, and hears a gun cocking.

 

“Who the fuck is that?” Bucky growls.

 

“Landlord,” Steve mumbles, softening the vowels while the command to shut up still fades. He swallows spit, trying to make his tongue fit his mouth again.

 

“Oh, shit,” Slattery’s hissing. Steve turns his head, looking out the corner of his eye, to see Slattery on the ground and Bucky aiming a gun for his face at point blank range. Slattery clearly recognizes, first, who is pointing a gun at him, second, what’s about to happen for what he was about to do. James Barnes’s temper is infamous.

 

“You absolute piece of shit,” Steve repeats.

 

“We’re going for a ride,” Bucky says. He’s talking to Slattery. “Get up.”

 

Steve puts his face back in the silk of Bucky’s shirt. Bucky’s right arm is locked around his shoulders, his fingers digging into his side. He’s still catching his breath.

 

He hears Slattery stand, then Bucky pulls him into his side rather than his chest and he watches Slattery shuffle out. Bucky has two bodyguards outside the door, both have guns drawn and pointing at Slattery. The door is hanging off its hinges, having been kicked open.

 

“Are you gonna kill ‘im?” Steve mumbles then.

 

“Yep,” Bucky answers firmly, popping the final p.

 

“Okay,” Steve says faintly.

 

“Let’s go,” Bucky snaps, fingers still digging into Steve’s body.

 

Steve can feel Bucky's heartbeat where his palm presses to his chest. It’s going faster than his own. He’s in a daze. Too much shit has happened in too short a time; he has yet to fully react to the fact that his apartment had been broken into the night before let alone the fact that Slattery was about to force him to suck his dick, not even reaching Bucky’s abrupt arrival and the fact that he’s about to kill his landlord.

 

He is, however, vaguely aware of the fact that Bucky is fucking awesome. He doesn’t even know the full situation other than the fact that Steve had screamed. Forget knight in shining armor. He’s got a mob boss in a tailored suit.

 

The bodyguards grab Slattery by the arms and press their handguns into his body. They escort him out, Bucky walking Steve with his arm clamped tight around him and gun still trained on Slattery’s back. Steve hardly thinks about the fact that they’re leaving his apartment open and unlocked; there’s nothing of value left in it, anyway. Maybe there’s no point.

 

The bodyguards and Slattery fill the width of the stairwell. They frogmarch him out of the building and shove him into the back of the same stretch Cadillac Bucky had used the day before. Bucky guides Steve in a much gentler fashion, settling in beside him and drawing him back into his side instantly. He keeps his gun on Slattery.

 

Slattery looks like he’s about to piss himself. Steve wouldn’t be surprised if he already had. He looks like a man who’s faced with his own death and knows that when he appears before Judgement, he will be found wanting.

 

“How about we head for the docks, Luke?” Bucky calls for the driver. He’s looking at Slattery with cold eyes. Steve’s still in a daze.

 

“Sure thing, boss,” answers Cage. The partition is down.

 

“There’s no point in trying to explain yourself,” Bucky then says to Slattery. “I’ve killed men for less. You should be glad I don’t have the time to make your death painful.”

 

Slattery swallows, eyes wide. Steve’s just blinking and breathing at this point. He’ll probably react later. After he’s processed what the fuck just happened. He stays where he is, plastered to Bucky’s side under his arm. He doesn’t look at Slattery. Slattery’s an absolute piece of shit and he has no qualms about seeing him dead right now. Maybe later. Maybe later he’ll freak out. Bucky’s about to murder his landlord, who was about to orally rape him, because he didn’t have the rent, because he got robbed. Yeah, he can freak out later.

 

At least he knows Slattery is single and has no family. So, no one to miss him. Steve certainly doubts anyone in the building will be even remotely sad to see him gone. The guy’s a creep. Clearly. He’s going to freak out later.

 

Bucky says nothing further. Slattery has three guns pointed at him and Steve’s done looking at his scared face. Creep had it coming. He’s going to freak out soon enough, but for now, he hides his face in Bucky’s shoulder, curling his legs onto the bench and hugging his waist. It’s then that he realizes he’s wearing shoes. He fell asleep in his sneakers. Also in yesterday’s sweats and shirt, but he’s not wearing a coat. Eventually, he’s going to demand Bucky give him his coat. Probably when he’s done freaking out about the events leading up to this moment. The stretch limo is heated and Bucky’s body is warm, so he’s not cold, at least.

 

Steve spends the whole damn ride in that daze, somewhere between what the fuck? and what the fuck! and nowhere near the oh, fuck… that would mean he had begun to process what the fuck had just happened. The limo rolls to a stop and Bucky flicks his gun from Slattery to the door.

 

Bodyguard 1 opens the door and Bodyguard 2 gives Slattery a hard shove. He tumbles off the bench, rolls fully out of the car and lands on his knees. Steve vaguely thinks that this is poetic justice. Bucky points his gun out of the car door, and Slattery has barely enough time to look up.

 

Steve winces at the gunshot. Slattery crumples. Bucky sticks a leg out and gives him a kick, and the body rolls off the edge of the harbor. There’s a distant splash. The bodyguard shuts the door and Bucky puts his gun away.

 

Steve realizes that he’s shivering. Bucky finally looks at him, then wraps his other arm around him and lifts him off the bench. Steve lands in his lap, then just sags against his chest. Bucky’s hands press to his body, one to his spine and the other to the back of his head, and Steve just blinks.

 

“You’re okay, baby, you’re alright, you’re safe,” Bucky is saying. How long had he been talking? Steve can’t remember. He’s in a daze.

 

“Home, now, Luke!” Bucky shouts.

 

 

Steve blinks at the collar of Bucky’s shirt. He’s not shivering, he’s shaking. Which, understandable. Chain of events. Holy fuck.

 

“It’s okay, Stevie,” Bucky keeps saying. Steve only blinks. Bucky’s fingers are digging into the back of his head. He can feel Bucky’s pulse against his temple. It’s racing. Steve’s heart is going a slow, steady beat. That’s probably not a good thing, considering the chain of events. Is he in shock? Is that a thing? He thinks that’s a thing. It’s possibly a thing. Is it a thing happening to him, however, he has no fucking clue.

 

He’s vaguely aware of movement. Bucky is carrying him. He doesn’t move his head out of the nape of Bucky’s neck. But Bucky is carrying him somewhere, arms locked under his thighs and Steve realizes that his arms have been draped around Bucky’s neck. His hands are clasped onto his elbows. He doesn’t remember doing it.

 

He’s vaguely aware of his sense of gravity telling him he’s tipping. He’s vaguely aware of his back pressing into something soft.

 

“Let go,” Bucky says.

 

Steve drops his hands without thinking about it. That was a command.

 

“Fuck!” Steve abruptly yells.

 

Bucky jerks back, grabbing his hands as Steve jolts. He sits up, so fast he nearly collides with Bucky’s head, and now he’s panting. Hyperventilating. A thousand things are flashing through his head.

 

“Steve, breathe!”

 

His lungs stop. Slowly, shakily, they expand. Slowly, shakily, they contract. Steve’s breathing slower against his will. Bucky is commanding him to breathe slower.

 

“Fuck,” he repeats. He’s still breathing slowly.

 

“What happened?” Bucky asks. It’s a question, not a command.

 

“Fuck,” Steve just says. He can’t connect the fact that Bucky has commanded him to breathe slowly with the fact that some period of time ago he can’t recall with precise definition Slattery was commanding him to shut up and get on his knees. He can’t process the contrast.

 

Bucky presses a hand to the back of his neck and abruptly he’s squeezing. Steve’s eyes flutter, then he drops, suddenly exhausted. Bucky catches him, then lowers him against the pillows. Steve can’t think. All he can do is breathe.

 

“You’re safe,” Bucky is saying. “You’re safe here, you’re with me, you’re with Bucky, you’re safe, you ain’t got nobody to worry about, you’re completely safe, baby, I got you, I got you –”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I get it,” Steve interrupts.

 

Bucky is kneeling next to the low bed, still holding him by the back of the neck and applying pressure. Steve’s heard of Alphas being able to calm Omegas by squeezing the back of their necks. He’s never had it done to him. It’s weird. He’s too calm to worry about it.

 

“We’re in my apartment,” Bucky says.

 

“Okay,” Steve mutters.

 

“You’re in my bed.”

 

“Cool,” Steve says flatly.

 

“You wanna tell me what happened?”

 

Steve swallows. He blinks several times, feeling the exhaustion weighing over him, but he’s calm now and he feels like he oughta tell Bucky what happened. He’s not compelled to, he hasn’t been commanded. It just feels like a good idea?

 

“‘Kay,” he says. He swallows again. “Words. Words are hard.”

 

“Go slow, doll,” Bucky says in a gentle tone.

 

“‘Kay,” he repeats.

 

Bucky brushes at his hair with the hand not putting pressure on the back of his neck. Steve shuts his eyes, sighing, and Bucky repeats the motion. He continues to repeat the motion. He’s petting Steve’s hair.

 

He’s calming down, legitimately. The chain of events leading to right now feel very distant, but he’s aware of them. He’s supposed to tell Bucky what they are. Right.

 

“Robbed,” he says.

 

“What?”

 

“My apartment,” Steve mumbles. “‘S nice.”

 

“What? Your apartment?”

 

“No,” Steve says, then yawns. He points vaguely at his hair. “Nice.”

 

Bucky pauses briefly, but a low whine sounds and he resumes before Steve realizes that he made the low whining sound.

 

“What happened to your apartment?”

 

“Robbed,” Steve answers. “Stole my fuckin’ toaster. Who steals a toaster?”

 

“So why was your landlord – Whatever he was doing, what was he doing?”

 

Steve forces his eyes open, then squints, trying to put the pieces in order. “I was robbed. Rent. Rent was late. But I was robbed. I didn’t have it. Slattery said I should just pay in kind.”

 

“What?” Bucky repeats. In a low growl. Steve shivers a little.

 

“Pay in kind,” Steve repeats. “I said, hell no, you’re a piece of shit, no. Then he used Alpha voice. Made me go to my knees, shut up, open my mouth. Don’t bite. Don’t bite, then open my mouth.”

 

He’s aware of Bucky’s face now. He looks murderous. He already murdered Slattery.

 

“You can’t kill ‘im twice,” Steve mutters absently.

 

“I know a voodoo queen,” Bucky growls.

 

Steve shivers again.

 

“By all means,” he says, waving a vague hand. “This is nice. You’re hot. I like you.”

 

“Steve…”

 

“Can you cuddle me?” Steve asks suddenly. “That sounds like an excellent idea. Cuddle me.”

 

Bucky gets off the floor, then crawls over Steve to lie in the middle of the bed. He pulls Steve into his chest, locking his arms around him. Steve sighs a little, content and happy, then nuzzles lightly at Bucky’s chest.

 

“Better idea,” he says then, “fuck me.”

 

“Steve, you’re in shock.”

 

“I am?” Steve mutters. “Yeah, I thought that was what was happening. Shouldn’t I be, like, comatose?”

 

Bucky presses a hand to the back of his neck again, putting pressure on either side of his spinal column under his skin. Steve hums happily, pressing closer to him.

 

“Were you using your Alpha voice on me?” he asks then. He stops pressing closer to frown. “Wait.”

 

“You weren’t responding,” Bucky answers quietly. “I had to get you to respond.”

 

“Oh,” Steve says. “So that’s why it exists. That seems a helluva lot better reason than making Omegas suck dick against their will. That’s a shitty thing to do.”

 

“Yes,” Bucky agrees, and he sounds like he’s about to panic. Steve has no clue why. He’s half floating with Bucky squeezing the back of his neck.

 

“Hey, wasn’t I s’posed to get a suit?”

 

“Get it tomorrow. You’re staying here.”

 

“Mmkay,” Steve mumbles. “Will you fuck me later?”

 

“Jesus,” Bucky whispers.

 

“Name’s Steve,” Steve says. He presses back into Bucky’s body, inhaling deeply. “I like you a lot. Like, more than I thought I would. And not just ‘cause you’re fucking hot and you killed a guy for me. That’s hot. I think I have a rescue kink. Is that a thing?”

 

“Steve, stop talking.”

 

“Why?” he whines.

 

“You’re saying things you probably wouldn’t say if you were in your right mind.”

 

“Oh,” Steve says. He considers it. “Probably,” he then agrees. “Anyway, I like you a lot a lot. You’re nice, not just hot. And that’s, like, way exceeding my expectations.”

 

“That I’m nice? ” Bucky repeats, sounding a bit like he can’t believe Steve. Almost like he’s horrified.

 

“Mmhmm,” he says. He snuggles closer. “This is nice. You smell nice, you’re nice to me, you pet my hair. Ooh, can we shower and can you wash my hair?”

 

“Yeah,” Bucky mumbles. He still sounds on the verge of panic. “Jesus. I think I gotta call 911.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Steve, you are in shock.”

 

“Oh, yeah,” he says. “Nah, I’m fine.”

 

“Jesus,” Bucky says a third time.

 

Steve hums happily, probably because he’s in shock and can’t process the fact that he had been two seconds from being raped some period of time ago. “Hey, what time is it?”

 

“What?”

 

“What time is it?”

 

He feels Bucky lift his left hand and shake back his sleeve. Steve’s reminded of yesterday – was it yesterday? – and hearing his sleeve rustle as he masturbated over the phone to the sound of Steve masturbating. That had been hot. He wants to do that again.

 

“Almost six.”

 

“Really? I should eat. I haven’t eaten since dinner.”

 

“Dinner? It’s not dinner time yet?”

 

“Dinner yesterday,” he clarifies.

 

“Oh, fuck,” Bucky mutters. “Okay. We’re gonna go eat, then we’re gonna take a shower and I’ll wash your hair. You’re gonna stay here for at least a day. Actually, I think I’m just gonna have my people get what’s left in your apartment and bring it here.”

 

“Ehh,” Steve says. “I think that’s something I should think about. Later. Not now. Lemme get back to you on that.”

 

“Fine,” Bucky sighs. Abruptly, he’s scooping Steve up and pulling him into his lap. Steve makes a pleased noise and grinds into his hips. “Fuck – No, Steve, you gotta eat –”

 

“I wanna get fucked,” he whines. His stomach hurts, though, now that Bucky’s calling attention to the idea of food. Actually, he feels nauseous. That’s probably a bad thing. Whatever. He rolls his hips again and starts sucking on a spot on Bucky’s neck. He might leave a hickey. Ooh, he should give Bucky hickeys. He starts sucking harder.

 

“Steve, you need to eat –”

 

He makes a displeased noise. He bites at the spot he’s been sucking on, then moves his mouth to Bucky’s pulse. It’s beating really fast.

 

Bucky squeezes the back of his neck and Steve goes limp with a content hum. His limbs feel like noodles. Noodles, he had noodles for dinner. His stomach is churning.

 

“D’you have noodles?” Steve mumbles.

 

“What?”

 

“Noodles,” Steve says. Bucky’s moving, he realizes. He’s holding him by the ass and the back of his neck and scooting off the bed.

 

“Hold on,” Bucky says.

 

Steve merely hums. “Noodles,” he repeats, trying to indicate that his limbs are the said noodles.

 

“Dammit.”

 

Steve finds he doesn’t care if Bucky’s upset. Is he still going to freak out about having been two seconds away from being raped? He’s not too sure. Possibly.

 

“Steve, hold on,” Bucky commands.

 

His hands move without his brain saying they should. Or maybe his hindbrain overrides his frontal lobe’s lack of concern to obey Bucky’s command. Bucky is still holding on to the back of his neck, so Steve can’t bring himself to care, either. He holds onto his own arms, locking them around Bucky’s neck. Bucky stands up, then starts walking.

 

“We’re going to eat, then we’re going to take a shower. We’re not going to have sex.”

 

“Why not?” he whines. “You want to. I know you want to. You’re an Alpha, ain’t you? You always got it on your mind. Fuck me, please.”

 

He’s sure his polite request will work. Bucky sighs heavily.

 

“No,” he says. “You’re in shock.”

 

Steve pouts. “Dammit,” he mutters.

 

“Keep holding on,” Bucky says, though it’s not much of a command. Maybe a reminder. Steve’s hands remain where they are, regardless.

 

His back and butt land on something else soft, but cooler. Bucky lets go of him, then starts to pull away but stops halfway up.

 

“You can let go now,” he says.

 

“Hmm?”

 

“Let go,” Bucky says gently.

 

Steve’s arms remain locked around Bucky’s neck. Steve can’t quite get his muscles to obey his frontal lobe now that his hindbrain has taken over them.

 

“Let go,” Bucky repeats. Commanding. Steve’s fingers detach and his arms drop.

 

“‘S the point, then?” Steve mumbles as Bucky stands up. He flops sideways onto the couch, curling into a ball. “Take over when I can’t?”

 

“S’posed to be so I can make you eat when you’re in heat and don’t wanna do nothin’ but fuck,” Bucky says. He’s walking away. Something’s tightening somewhere.

 

“Bucky?” Steve mumbles.

 

“I don’t got noodles, but I got leftovers from Friday.”

 

Something’s tightening somewhere and Bucky sounds very distant. Steve’s brain is slowly grinding its gears, only going in the wrong direction and his body curls tighter together in a fetal position to ward off hands. The living room is poorly lit. He smells mildew and dust. Someone’s breathing on the back of his neck.

 

“Steve, hey, hey, look at me!”

 

Steve’s eyes snap open obediently. Bucky’s kneeling in front of him, trying to pry his arms off his knees. Steve sucks in a breath that’s too fast and curls up tighter.

 

“Steve, calm down, you’re okay, you’re safe –”

 

“No,” Steve interrupts him, he can’t really hear him, “no,” he mutters, “no, don’t, leave me alone, I didn’t do nothing, swear I didn’t do nothing –!”

 

“Steve, you’re with Bucky, you’re safe, nobody’s gonna hurt you, baby –”

 

“I didn’t do it,” Steve hisses out; there’s breathing on the back of his neck and he smells mildew and dust and an old man and he can’t see –

 

“Steve, breathe!”

 

His lungs stop, slowly expand, slowly contract. His vision clears. Steve swallows, blinking.

 

Bucky’s not touching him, but Steve had said to leave him alone. Steve’s lungs slowly expand and contract.

 

“Don’t go someplace I can’t get you out of,” Bucky whispers.

 

Steve’s lungs expand, contract. He trembles, then unclamps his arms and reaches out. Bucky catches his hands, then tugs him off the couch and into his lap. Steve locks his arms and legs around Bucky’s torso, his lungs continuing to expand and contract without his brain controlling them. Bucky presses a hand to the back of his neck, squeezing, and a weary calm settles over him. His limbs go limp.

 

“You’re okay,” Bucky murmurs.

 

Steve sucks in a breath, the command fading. He lets it out, then sucks it back in, lets it out. He buries his face in Bucky’s neck, filling his nose with the scent of cigars and woodsmoke. It drowns out the smell of the closet.

 

“You’re safe,” Bucky says. “I got you, baby. You’re safe here.”

 

Steve nods absently. Bucky keeps the pressure on the back of his neck. Steve sucks in a breath of his own volition, lets it out slowly.

 

“Where’d you go, huh?" Bucky asks genly. "What just happened?”

 

Steve shakes his head. He hasn’t smelled the mildew and dust in so long, he’d thought he’d gotten over it long ago now. He shakes his head, breathing deep but hard, and Bucky just nods.

 

“Okay. Don’t gotta tell me. It’s okay, you don’t gotta tell me. Let’s eat, okay, baby? Let’s get some food in you. I got the Chinese food from Friday, is that okay?”

 

He nods. Bucky shifts onto his knees, then stands up, and this time Steve doesn’t need to be commanded to hold on. Bucky lets go of his neck in the kitchen, leaving his other hand wrapped under his ass to hold him up, opens the fridge and starts taking out take out containers with his now free hand. Steve half watches out through his peripheral vision, trying to focus on the light and the smell of cigars. Nobody’s breathing down his neck. There’s nobody but him and Bucky in this well lit, wide and spacious kitchen. The closets in this place are probably all bigger than Steve’s living room.

 

Bucky heats up food, Steve’s slipping back into the daze but can’t bring himself to care. Bucky heats up the food, carries it and him back into the living room, then sits down with Steve still in his arms.

 

“Can you eat?” Bucky asks him.

 

“‘Course I can,” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky holds a fork up to his lips anyway. Steve opens his mouth, barely at all, and Bucky pushes orange chicken past his lips. Steve chews on auto pilot, opens his mouth when Bucky holds the fork up, chews, opens his mouth. The ache in his gut starts to dissipate.

 

“There you go,” Bucky’s murmuring. “You’re doing good, baby. Doing real good for me here, can you eat a little more for me, doll?”

 

Steve’s tired, but he opens his mouth anyway. He can’t keep track of time and he can’t count how much he’s eaten. He’s not paying attention, not until he’s aware that he’s probably eaten more than he does in one sitting but his stomach isn’t churning to tell him to knock it off. Bucky’s switched to lo mein by then.

 

“Don’t like lo mein,” he mumbles.

 

Bucky puts the forkful of lo mein away. “I got egg rolls,” he says.

 

Steve slumps against his shoulder. “‘M done,” he mutters.

 

Bucky’s fork-less hand rubs up and down his back. “Okay. You want me to wash your hair still?”

 

Steve nods vaguely. Bucky stands up from the couch and Steve holds on without being told again. He shuts his eyes, feeling exhausted. Next thing he knows, he’s being set down on the bed again. Bucky kneels down in front of him and starts unlacing his sneakers. Steve looks around, the curtains are open but the sun’s set already. The shadows of the corners are steadily expanding.

 

“Turn the lights on,” he says abruptly.

 

Bucky tugs out his phone and taps at something. The overhead lights in the bedroom switch on, snap the shadows back into place and Steve relaxes a little.

 

Bucky takes off his socks, then tugs on the waistband of Steve’s sweats. He lies back on the bed and lifts his hips so Bucky can slip them and his underwear off, and he’s so tired he can’t even bring his mind back around to sex. Steve blinks absently up at the ceiling. Two seconds. That’s how close he’d come. If Bucky had been two seconds later, even, it would have already been done.

 

Bucky lifts his torso off the bed and Steve hardly realizes that he’s gone deadweight. Bucky pulls his shirt off, then scoops him up again and carries him into the bathroom. He puts him down on the marble bench and Steve slumps onto it when Bucky lets go to strip himself.

 

Bucky’s only away for a second, though, then he’s coming back and putting a hand on his hip. He turns on the shower, then lifts Steve up again. He’s still deadweight, already falling asleep by the time Bucky gets him under the water. He’s still processing. The water is warm, just hot enough to be comfortable.

 

“They stole ma’s picture frame,” he mumbles.

 

“Who did?”

 

“Dunno,” Steve whimpers. He hugs Bucky’s torso without realizing. “They stole the picture frame and stepped on her picture. Don’t got any other pictures of my dad. They stole the frame and messed up my only picture of both my parents.”

 

“I’ll find ‘em, baby.”

 

Steve clings to him, then. Bucky’s working shampoo into his hair with only one hand. He squeezes his eyes shut and hides his face, his whole body trembling, but Bucky has an arm wrapped securely around his shoulders. He presses a hand to the back of his neck and his shudders abate.

 

He actually falls asleep in the shower. The last thing he recalls is Bucky tipping his head back to rinse the soap from his hair. He’s being lowered into a mattress and blankets are being pulled around him, a body pressing to his back. The body smells like woodsmoke, not like mildew and dust and age, and there’s no breath on the back of his neck, it’s falling on his hair. Steve falls asleep.

Chapter Text

oh, the harlot

 

Steve wakes up more than once during the night, gasping and smelling mildew, but each time Bucky yanks him tight against his body, proving to be firm and warm and nothing like who his dreams are insisting is behind him. Each time, the scent of mildew gets overtaken quickly by woodsmoke and Steve just falls asleep again.

 

At last, Steve wakes up because of something other than bad dreams and, for once, he wakes up with Bucky still in the bed. From the way his chest fills and deflates, Bucky’s awake, but he’s still pressed to Steve's back anyway and holding on tightly.

 

“What time is it?” Steve mumbles. His voice is scratchy from sleep.

 

Bucky twists away to look over his shoulder, then presses back against Steve. “Little after eleven,” he says.

 

“Shouldn’t you be working?” Steve asks quietly.

 

“I can take a day off. You okay?”

 

Steve doesn’t answer. He shrugs, then shrinks back into Bucky’s body. He pulls the blankets up around his neck, so his whole body feels covered.

 

“What’re you thinking, doll?”

 

Steve shrugs again. Gears are grinding in his head, going forwards now. The events of yesterday still feel distant, like they happened to somebody else and Steve just saw it on the news, but the bad things have always felt distant. His mother’s death is distant. Garrett tricking him into signing away his life feels distant. The closet feels distant. His foster father feels distant.

 

“You really don’t seem okay," Bucky says abruptly. "I think I should call a doctor.”

 

“‘M fine,” Steve mumbles. It’s all very distant.

 

“You’re shaking.”

 

Steve blinks, then glances down at his body. He is trembling still. He shrugs and shrinks closer.

 

“Steve…” Bucky says gently.

 

Steve just shrugs again.

 

“I could call a shrink?" Bucky suggests. "You want somebody to talk to?”

 

Steve shakes his head. “Nah. Just… distant.”

 

“What?”

 

“Feels like it happened to somebody else," Steve admits. Dissociation, he knows. "‘S normal,” he finishes tiredly.

 

“What’s normal?" Bucky says, almost sharp with concern. "Fucking hell, Steve, how is this normal?”

 

Steve just shrugs. “It always feels like this.”

 

“What?”

 

It’s a low growl, a tone of sympathetic anger, and Steve shuts his eyes. He doesn’t feel any rested for having slept.

 

“This happened before? Your landlord –”

 

“Nah,” Steve mumbles. It’s far off, far away and it doesn’t feel like it happened to him, so it doesn’t bother him. It happens all the time, to lots of people, Steve’s a member of the majority in this case. “Not him. Foster system.”

 

“Jesus,” Bucky hisses.

 

Steve shrugs, just shrugs again. “Happens all the time. Happens to everybody. World’s a mess. Doesn’t matter.”

 

“Jesus,” Bucky whispers again. He whispers it under his breath and maybe this time he’s invoking the name and not only cursing with it.

 

“You’re nice,” Steve murmurs, feeling weary and content to lie there, where he belongs. In the embrace of who he belongs to. It’s nice.

 

“I gotta call a doctor. Therapist, something. I can’t do this.”

 

“Do what?” Steve asks vaguely.

 

One of Bucky’s hands lifts from his waist and Steve snatches it before Bucky can move too far. “Don’t let go?” Steve asks quickly.

 

Bucky hesitates, then hugs him close again. Steve relaxes.

 

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to do this, Steve.”

 

Steve’s eyes snap open and he goes rigid. “What?”

 

“You’re – I don’t know," Bucky sighs, "you’re seriously in a vulnerable position and I’m taking advantage of it –”

 

“Fuck off,” Steve cuts him off, relaxing again since that’s all it is. “Grow a pair or something. I’m not a child, I dealt with my shit and you’re not taking advantage of nothing, I’m taking advantage of you.”

 

“What?” Bucky asks.

 

“You’re lonely,” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky goes quiet. Steve shuts his eyes, breathing deep and slow. He really just wants to go back to sleep at this point.

 

“I’m lonely?” Bucky whispers then. “What?”

 

Steve nods. “Lonely," he repeats. "You work all the time, your place doesn’t look like anybody lives here, you ain’t got friends but your mobsters, you don’t talk to your only family. Lonely. I’m taking advantage of it, so I can live with you.”

 

“Why?”

 

Steve shrugs a single shoulder. “Get out. Afford food. Not be a punching bag. Remember?”

 

Bucky doesn’t let go of him and Steve’s close to falling asleep again, so it still doesn’t matter. He’s not being shown the door, so he’s allowed to shut down.

 

“You meant opportunity, didn’t you.”

 

Steve nods.

 

“So, I’m lonely and you’re vulnerable. Great. This is a fucking fantastic start to a relationship.”

 

“We’re honest?” Steve tells him. “Silver lining.”

 

Bucky exhales sharply, like he’s not comforted any by that, but he’s still not pushing Steve out of the bed or anything so Steve still doesn’t care.

 

“Great,” Bucky sighs out.

 

“Stop fussin’ an’ lemme sleep,” Steve mutters.

 

Bucky raises a hand, but only to start combing his hair. Steve exhales through his nose, inhales deeply.

 

“You want a shrink, at least? I know a few.”

 

“Lemme get back to you on that,” Steve answers faintly. He falls asleep again.

 

He wakes up facing Bucky next, an arm curled around Bucky’s thighs and his face pressed into his hip as Bucky is sitting up. Steve stirs, sniffs to clear his nostrils, then sits up a little to press into his waist.

 

Bucky puts a hand on his back, bending to kiss the top of his head.

 

“If I open my eyes, am I gonna see you working?” Steve mumbles.

 

“It’s one in the afternoon, Steve. I’m just checking a couple emails.”

 

Steve opens his eyes. “Is it?” he mutters, sitting up. Bucky's holding a tablet in his lap and Steve checks the time at the top of the screen. “Oh.”

 

It’s one o’clock on a Monday, then. Bucky’s wearing sweats and nothing else, and Steve is dressed in an overlarge t-shirt and boxers. Steve doesn’t work Mondays, anyway, but not even he sleeps this late.

 

Normally. Yesterday – he begins to remember.

 

“You okay?” Bucky asks quietly.

 

“Yeah,” Steve says quietly. “Sure.”

 

“Are you, really?” Bucky presses.

 

Steve just shrugs.

 

Bucky sets down his tablet to brush at his hair. Steve sits up more, completely, and Bucky combs through his hair with his fingers a few times.

 

“I got some people in the NYPD,” Bucky says gently. “I had ‘em check through pawn shops and all, for your stuff. They’re still lookin’. What all got stolen?”

 

“TV, laptop, coffee maker,” Steve mutters.

 

“Toaster, too,” Bucky adds, a sorry smile curling his lip.

 

Steve nods. He exhales heavily and leans against Bucky’s shoulder, raising a hand to rub his eyes and work the gunk of sleep from them.

 

“What kinda TV?" Bucky asks. "Laptop, coffee maker, all of it. Be specific, doll.”

 

Steve shrugs yet again. “Cheap TV, cheap laptop, cheap fuckin’ coffee maker. I don’t know. I don’t even know everything gone. It doesn’t even matter, it’s just stuff. Was gonna get rid of it anyway.”

 

Bucky kisses his temple.

 

“Ma’s picture frame,” Steve mumbles, then stops to breathe and work his emotions into calm. “It was brass. Probably took it ‘cause it looked gold.”

 

“You got any photos?" Bucky prompts. "Like, just any kinda photo taken in your place would have the stuff in the background.”

 

Steve leans his head into Bucky’s shoulder, thinking about the question. He had pictures taken in his apartment. He’d had a few parties over the past few years, a few get-togethers, and he had to have taken pictures at least a few times. He has a picture of Darcy with a literal egg on her face standing in his kitchen; his toaster and coffee maker had to be in it.

 

He reaches for Bucky’s tablet. After a second, Bucky puts it into his hand. Steve opens Firefox and goes to Google drive, signs out of Bucky's account and into his, then opens a folder of pictures. He isn’t neat with his files, they’re organized however Google has them ordered, but they’re all in one folder.

 

He finds Darcy’s egg picture. He smiles reflexively at the splattering of egg yolk on her shocked face, remembering how he’d fallen to the bubbling linoleum floor with how hard he was laughing, but the smile is tight and doesn’t last long. There’s the cheap coffee maker in the background.

 

“That’s good,” Bucky says, kissing his cheek. “You wanna look through those and find the ones with your stuff in ‘em?”

 

“I don’t remember what all is missing,” Steve mutters back.

 

He needs to go back. Bucky must realize that, because his arm snakes around his waist and tightens.

 

“Okay,” he says quietly. “You can go back tonight or tomorrow, might as well pack up your stuff.”

 

“Not working tonight,” Steve says. He sets the tablet on his lap, raising a hand to rub at his face again. “Tomorrow, I think.”

 

“Do you have to?”

 

He sounds displeased at the idea, like he’s thinking of telling him not to. Steve considers it, then shrugs. If Bucky tells him he doesn’t want him to go, he won’t. He doesn’t want to go, either.

 

“Pissed Rollins off Saturday,” Steve says. “Some kid got lost, Darcy ‘n’ me, we stopped to call her mom an’ get her home. Then ‘cause Russo was bein’ an ass about it, we quit the night early.”

 

“When did your apartment get broken into?” Bucky asks quietly.

 

“Saturday night,” Steve mutters, deflating.

 

“Alright,” Bucky sighs. “Okay. Fuck Rollins. Fuck ‘im. You’re mine now, okay? Fang can’t touch you.”

 

There’s the order to not. Steve nods gently; it’s a good point. Magpies are no threat to wolves.

 

“Tell you what we’re gonna do," Bucky starts. "You still need that suit. We’re gonna go get you fitted, then I’m gonna take you to dinner. Just you ‘n’ me, okay?”

 

“Sounds good,” Steve mutters. He puts the tablet aside and twists so he can swing a leg over Bucky’s hips and settle in his lap. He presses their lips together and Bucky catches him by the waist, then the jaw.

 

And gently pushes him back.

 

“We gotta talk,” Bucky says.

 

“I don’t wanna talk,” Steve snaps. “Can we forget it? Please?”

 

“No, we gotta talk,” Bucky insists. “You got issues.”

 

“The whole damn world’s got issues!” Steve argues. “I ain’t special.”

 

“You’re special to me,” Bucky says sharply. Steve blinks. “Look, I don’t wanna take advantage of you. And you’re right, I picked you ‘cause I knew you wouldn't take convincing, but it ain’t fair to you.”

 

Steve blinks some more. Bucky lets go of Steve's jaw and brushes back his hair.

 

"I can't do unfair, Steve," Bucky admits.

 

“So, what?” Steve asks. “You’re not gonna take it back. You can’t.”

 

Bucky’s face is impassive. Steve’s breath catches in his throat, because, he can. He can take it back.

 

“I’m yours,” Steve insists nervously.

 

“‘Cause you wanna be or what?” Bucky asks. Steve can’t read his expression or voice, and for once, it’s not thrilling.

 

Steve bites down on his lip and doesn’t answer.

 

“You wanna be mine or you just want an escape?” Bucky says. “You wanna be mine or you’re messed up and you don’t know how to get affection other ways?”

 

“I’m not messed up!” Steve counters defensively.

 

“You been messed with!” Bucky says, eyebrows raising and a tone of concern finally affecting his voice. “Steve, you –”

 

Bucky breaks off, swallowing and curling his lip downward.

 

“I what?” Steve snaps.

 

“Do you know what you’re doing?” Bucky asks.

 

“I what?” Steve repeats in a harsh snarl. Damaged? Not good enough because of it? Too naive, too young, too broken, he what?

 

“You remember the things you said this morning?” Bucky says. Guarded again. Cautious, even.

 

Steve thinks back, then shakes his head. “What am I?” he demands.

 

“You told me… stuff happened to you,” Bucky mutters, reluctant.

 

Steve falters, trying to figure out what the hell he’d said while half-asleep. He'd thought he'd dreamed any conversation before now.

 

“While you were in the system,” Bucky adds quietly.

 

“Oh,” Steve murmurs.

 

Bucky grimaces. Steve lowers his gaze. “Oh,” he whispers again.

 

Bucky raises a hand and brushes at his hair. Steve drops against Bucky's body and hides his face in his neck.

 

“I gotta know you know what you’re doing,” Bucky says gently. He comes through Steve's hair again. “That I’m not hurting you worse than you already been hurt.”

 

Steve sits up. He inhales sharply through his nose and blows it out hard past his lips.

 

“Steve, you gotta tell me,” Bucky says.

 

“While I was in the system, I was a trouble kid,” Steve starts, not looking Bucky in the eye.

 

“That’s not what I meant –” Bucky says but Steve raises a hand and covers his mouth.

 

“I caused trouble,” Steve goes on. Bucky looks worried behind Steve’s hand. “So I got put in a house with other troublemakers. The guy who ran it, he was known to get kids to learn discipline or something. Used to be in the military, decorated vet and everything. Thing is, all the kids who came out his house weren’t learned for it. They were just scared. He wouldn’t hit us or nothing. He put us in closets.”

 

“You don’t have to tell me that,” Bucky mutters against his hand.

 

“Shuddup,” Steve mumbles. “I want to tell you; telling people is healthy, shrink says. He locked us in closets, then he’d come in with us and he’d… He would touch us. Talk down to us while he was doing it, make it like it was our fault, that he didn’t want to do what he was doing but we didn’t give him a choice. And we were all too scared to say nothing, not even to each other. I only found out that I wasn’t the only one after Garrett adopted me. I ran in to one of the kids who’d been in the house with me a few years ago and we talked about it. He’s a therapist now, he told me I could see one of his colleagues for cheap even though I don’t have insurance, so yeah, I know what I’m doing, I been to therapy, I ain’t messed up and I ain’t just lookin’ for love in the wrong places.”

 

Bucky is finally silent. Steve drops his hand from Bucky's mouth to his shoulder.

 

“You’re nice,” Steve says apprehensively. This is crossing a boundary from what their relationship is supposed to be about, but Steve has to say it. “You’re kind and gentle with me, even though I never thought somebody like you would," Steve insists. "You treat me right, right?”

 

“‘S basic etiquette,” Bucky says quietly.

 

“Exactly,” Steve agrees. “Basic etiquette for real relationships, only I don’t have relationships, I have clients, so I don’t need it. I don’t need a safe word ‘cause I know how to handle it if something starts hurting or I can’t breathe or I’m not comfortable. I don’t need aftercare, I don’t need kindness, I don’t need gentle nothing.”

 

“You’re human,” Bucky grumbles.

 

Steve shrugs, looking down. “It’s not what I get paid for. I’m not a lover, I’m a harlot. But you’re good to me," he says. "I know what we’re doing, and it’s not what I get paid for. I mean," he adds, cracking a smile, "first thing you did was ask if I had a safe word.” He gives a dry laugh and shakes his head. “I know you’re not gonna do something to me I don’t want you to,” Steve finishes.

 

“It’s not just ‘cause you feel like you got no choice?” Bucky says, still wary.

 

“I got plenty of choices,” Steve answers with a shrug. “We got forgers, I can get somebody to make new papers for me and vanish, I can start skimming the books and scram, I can wait it out until I’m in a better place, I got plenty of options.”

 

Steve leans in and presses a soft kiss to Bucky’s neck, then lifts his lips to whisper in his ear. “You’re the best one yet, sir.”

 

“Steve, I ain’t fallin’ for you whispering in my ear,” Bucky says. “Quit tryna deflect.”

 

Steve rolls his eyes, sitting up again. “What else do I gotta do to convince you?” he asks sharply.

 

“Quit actin’ like a horny teenager, act like an adult for once,” Bucky retorts.

 

Steve sits up, scowling. Bucky scowls back.

 

“Why?” Steve demands. “What more adult do you need out of me? I told you what happened, I told you I’ve dealt with it, I told you I wanna be yours, what more do you want?”

 

“Do you want to be mine or do you just want the out?” Bucky snaps.

 

“Does it matter?” Steve retorts.

 

“It matters to me!” Bucky insists angrily.

 

Steve gives pause. Bucky keeps his gaze guarded, calculating and – again, for once – not hungry. There’s something behind the evaluations that looks hurt.

 

“I’m sorry,” Steve murmurs. He drops his gaze, but it’s not an act to rile up Barnes, it’s shame.

 

He knows Bucky is lonely. He’s been preying on Bucky’s loneliness this whole time. He should have realized, he shouldn't have said…

 

“You’re right.” Steve draws in a breath, putting aside the fact that he doesn’t want to talk about anything and he just wants to pretend all his shit never happened. Bucky is as human as him. Humans crave love, not opportunity.

 

Bucky combs through his hair without meeting Steve's gaze, like he’s uncomfortable having to expose his thoughts, his hurt or whatever. Like he’s uncomfortable baring his throat. Steve’s had to learn how to lift his chin for his own survival, but Bucky’s probably never done that.

 

“I’m sorry,” Steve says again. “This isn’t conventional, you know that.”

 

“I’m not asking you to fall in love with me,” Bucky says stiffly.

 

“I might,” Steve says without thinking.

 

Bucky’s expression flashes startled for a full second before turning neutral. Steve clenches his jaw, swallowing compulsively. He shrugs, looking down.

 

“Alright,” Bucky exhales. His eyes search Steve’s face. “Alright.”

 

“Maybe maybe’s enough?” Steve suggests.

 

He doesn’t want Bucky to take anything back. And sure, there’s room for love in his plan. He wants to belong to James Barnes for the rest of his life, they’re bound to fall in love along the way. Admittedly, love doesn’t matter much to him right then, it’s not a crucial part of his story; food and a kind roof over his head, neighbors that don’t cook meth and agency over his own life, that’s what he’s looking for. But if the maybe of love will make Bucky less hesitant to have him, he’ll admit it, even if it frightens him. The last love he had was supposed to have been unconditional and eternal, and it had still turned bitter on him. It hadn’t really been his mother’s fault, it had been the chemo messing with her head, but it still hurt even seven or more years later.

 

“Alright,” Bucky repeats a third time. “That’s enough.”

 

Enough for this conversation, enough for his needs, enough for Steve, whatever, it’s enough. Steve kisses him and this time Bucky grips his ribs with fingers tight enough to bruise. This is what their relationship is about, the way Bucky kisses him with hunger and the way it makes Steve go pliant in his grip, and the page is turned. But there might be room for love somewhere.

 

The kiss extends. Bucky drags his lips down to his neck, and Steve, like it’s the most natural reflex in the world, bares his throat.

 

Bucky’s teeth leave small marks, going down, then, shocking Steve into full arousal, Bucky kisses possessively over the scent gland buried under Steve's skin. Like he’s aware of the space left for love between them.

 

“We got to get goin’,” Bucky murmurs. His voice vibrates down into his scent gland, and Steve whines softly. “I can give you what you need quick or you can have it later, nice ‘n’ slow. What’d’you want?”

 

“Both?” Steve suggests, rolling his hips into Bucky's.

 

Bucky grabs Steve's hips instead and grips them tighter. Bucky hums, then his lips part over his scent gland as he’s humming and the vibrations send shivers through Steve's body. Steve groans and tries desperately to break Bucky's hold to rock into his lap.

 

“I think you only got one in you today,” Bucky says, however still sending vibrations through his scent gland and Steve would beg to differ. “Twenty minutes now or a few good hours later, doll. Pick one.”

 

“Ugh,” Steve says emphatically. Twenty minutes would be over in a blink of an eye, and he really would rather be splayed out for Bucky’s pleasure for a few hours rather than a blink. But how long would later take to arrive?

 

“Pick one or I’ll pick for you,” Bucky says, then – fuck him, seriously – he licks at Steve’s scent gland and drags his lips up his neck. “I’m thinkin’ now.”

 

“‘S no fair,” Steve grumbles, “you’ll get to come later, too.”

 

He feels Bucky grin against his neck. “Exactly,” he purrs, right into his ear and it makes his whole body shudder.

 

“Later,” Steve says quickly. “I wanna come later.”

 

“Alright,” Bucky murmurs, but then he doesn’t lift off his neck. “I think I wanna have one now, though.”

 

“Oh, fuck you,” Steve sighs, but he doesn’t mean it. This is why he wants Barnes. He’s electric and makes him feel alive.

 

Bucky laughs, sounding pleased, but Steve’s already squirming to get out of his grip and get his mouth on him. Bucky holds firm to his hips, however.

 

“Where’re you goin’?” he murmurs.

 

“Suck you off,” Steve says.

 

Bucky laughs again. “Nah,” he says and Steve pouts. “I just want you to squirm in my lap.”

 

“I can do that,” Steve mutters.

 

“And you’re not allowed to change your mind,” Bucky adds. He lets go of Steve's hips with one hand, to hold it out, palm flat before Steve. “Spit,” he orders.

 

Steve licks his lips. He bends and instead of spitting, he kisses Bucky’s palm with an open mouth. Steve lets saliva pool past his lips onto Bucky's palm and spreads it around with his tongue. Bucky lets out a low, approving growl.

 

“Good boy,” he murmurs as Steve lifts back up.

 

Bucky closes his wet palm and snakes it between their bodies to work it under the waistband of his pants. Steve drops his gaze, licking his lips, but Bucky keeps his hand down the front of his pants, not drawing himself out so Steve can watch. Bucky bites his ear and Steve shuts his eyes, rolling them back, and he can hear and smell what he can’t see. Bucky continues mouthing at his neck, Steve can feel the lump between them that is Bucky’s hand, but that means he can’t rock into Bucky's cock and tease both of them with a little bit of friction. He can squirm, but not enough to gain sensation.

 

“Doin’ real good, baby boy,” Bucky murmurs in his ear. “You want somethin’?”

 

“Want you to come,” Steve mumbles. Bucky lets out a low hum, somewhere between a groan and a growl. “Want you to mark me up," Steve continues, "so everybody knows who I belong to.”

 

“You want that?” Bucky growls, fully a growl.

 

Steve turns his head out, so the side of his neck is fully available and exposed, and Bucky instantly accepts the invitation. He latches onto the side of Steve's neck, starts sucking and biting, the movements of his hand between them growing faster. Steve starts trying to rock into the gap between his thighs and Bucky growls into his neck once more, only going faster.

 

“I’m getting ideas, doll,” Bucky murmurs. “I’m thinkin’ Friday, I’m gonna get you a little somethin’ to wear to the gala under your suit.”

 

“Is it panties?” Steve asks.

 

“Nah, but that’s a good idea, too,” Bucky says. 

 

He licks a stripe up his neck, then claims his mouth in an open kiss. Steve melts under it, until Bucky seems to remember that he was saying something and pulls his lips back. 

 

“I’m gonna get you a vibrator,” Bucky says in a low, filthy tone. “To fill up that greedy ass’a yours. I’ll have the remote to it, I’ll turn it on and off whenever I want and you’ll just have to smile an’ look pretty like you ain’t about to fall apart.”

 

“Oh, God,” Steve exhales.

 

“Ya like that, don’tcha?” Bucky purrs. “You’ll love bein’ at my mercy, my little slut.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve sighs. He’s clenching on nothing thinking about it.

 

Bucky’s lips return to Steve's neck, his breath falling on his scent gland hot and dry, “You’re a whore for me, ain’tcha?” he asks, his tone a pleased growl.

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve says, wishing he had picked now over later because he’s aching now.

 

“Gonna be only my whore,” Bucky growls. He’s fucking his own fist so hard Steve is moved by it. “Just mine, my little cockslut. Those lips are mine, made to suck my dick, your tight ass is mine, my greedy hole to fill up. You’re my harlot.”

 

Bucky's  harlot. There's no way Steve can't catch the significance of Bucky’s wording. Steve is not a lover, he's a harlot, but here, he's Bucky’s harlot. “Oh, God,” he breathes out. “Oh, God, oh –”

 

“Wishin’ you decided to come now?” Bucky growls. Steve nods desperately. “Nope. Can’t change your mind, baby boy.”

 

“Why not?” Steve whines, trying to rock his hips into Bucky's fist. “Why not now and later?”

 

“You’ll just fall asleep on me once you’ve come, baby,” Bucky tells him, “you’ve had so much on your mind you’re lookin’ to tire yourself out. I’m gonna treat you right and get you floatin’, doll, can’t do that in the five minutes we got before we gotta get goin’.”

 

Steve whines again, but does nothing to change Bucky’s mind. He wants whatever Bucky wants to give him. Having brushed the high of subspace the first night he'd been with Bucky, Steve wants to feel it for real.

 

“Gonna dress you up," Bucky keeps talking as his fist moves faster between him and Steve. "You’re gonna be a knockout, doll, every eye in the place is gonna be on you, but you’ll only be thinkin’ about me, won’tcha?” Bucky asks. “My little slut thinkin’ about when he can get next get my cock in his ass.”

 

“Uh-huh,” Steve promises, and the boxers he’s wearing are wet by now.

 

“All you’re gonna be thinkin’ ‘bout, ain’t it, baby boy?” Bucky demands

 

“Yes, sir," Steve says, "yessir, yes,  God, why can’t you fuck me now?”

 

“Oh, you know I wanna treat you right, baby,” Bucky coos, his breath coming fast and warm but not moist on the nape of Steve's neck and not the back of it. “Gonna have you beggin’ for me, gonna lay you out and work you open with my tongue, get that sweet slick comin’ out you in gushes, oh, baby boy –”

 

Then Bucky'’s cutting his own sentence off to groan, lips hanging open as he presses his face into Steve’s neck. Warmth and wetness blossoms between them and Steve swallows spit as his mouth waters at the smell of it.

 

“Baby,” Bucky murmurs, voice gone scratchy, as he mouths absently at Steve's neck. “You wanna clean me up, baby? Bet you don’t wanna waste your sir’s come, do you?”

 

“Oh, God,” Steve whimpers, the phrase your sir practically killing half of his brain cells, “no, sir, lemme – Sir, please –”

 

Bucky extracts his hand from his sweats and holds it up to Steve’s lips. Steve opens his mouth and begins to lick the salt and bitter clean off it.

 

Bucky’s hand, wet as it is, brushes his bangs back when he’s done. “You’re somethin’ else, Steve Rogers,” he says quietly.

 

Steve sweeps his tongue from corner to corner of his lips, savoring the last traces of the taste. He drops his gaze, and in his peripheral vision, he sees Bucky’s lips curl in a predatory smirk.

 

“Not enough for you, baby boy?” he asks roughly. “Still thirsty?”

 

Steve nods. Bucky leans back, then pushes down the waistband of his sweats. Steve half whimpers, thinking about Bucky making him choke, but that’s not what he’s being given right now. He bends, shimmying down Bucky’s thighs to get low, then licks him clean.

 

Bucky combs his hair again. Steve nudges his nose against the line of Bucky's torso, lips parted as saliva pools around his teeth, and Bucky’s fingers close on his hair, holding him still.

 

“Ain’t got time for that, doll,” Bucky tells him.

 

Steve pouts firmly, but sits up and kisses him. Bucky licks into Steve's mouth, fingers tight on his hair, then pulls him back and presses his still spit-slick hand to his waist.

 

“Gonna have to calm down, Stevie,” Bucky says, a thumb caressing his ribs through his shirt. “You wanna take a shower?”

 

Steve shakes his head, because a shower would only have him watching the water run down Bucky’s back and tempt him to break the rules. He’s already calming down anyway with Bucky gently petting him.

 

“How ‘bout we go eat a little somethin’, hmm?” Bucky suggests lightly. “Get some water in you, you’re probably actually thirsty.”

 

“Mmkay,” Steve murmurs. He bites his lip, then drops his gaze and adds, in a small voice: “Can you carry me?”

 

He likes the way Bucky holds him. Like he’s precious to him.

 

“Sure,” Bucky answers easily, and Steve slips his arms around his neck to hide his face again.

 

Bucky shifts off the bed, hands curling under Steve's ass and around his back. Steve buries his nose in the line of Bucky's neck, drinking deeply his scent, the hand on his back slides up to the back of his neck. It closes, then gently squeezes. Steve exhales through his nose, his eyes shut, and he gradually goes limp.

 

“There you go,” Bucky murmurs. He squeezes the back of his neck, and it sends a sensation like a hum of content through his body. His voice is right next to his ear, but his breath is dry and warm on his neck.

 

Steve is much calmer than he’d been yesterday, anyway. Nothing has set him off like yesterday in years, and yesterday wasn't even the first time Steve had had his agency robbed of him by an Alpha's commanding tone for something sexual. Maybe it was the shock of having his apartment broken into or that it was happening in his home at all. Steve isn't sure, but yesterday still feels distant to him and he's okay with dissociating from what happened. He focuses on being cradled in Bucky's arm like he's something precious and worthy of real love instead.

 

Bucky’s hand strokes up and down Steve's back as he carries Steve down the stairs, taking slow steps. Steve’s arms hang past his neck, crossing at the elbows. He watches through bleary eyes the path retreating behind them. Steve doesn’t want to admit that Bucky had a point, because it would mean admitting he was wrong, but he feels better for having talked to Bucky. Steve isn't great with communication, but he’s starting to see the appeal. 

 

“What’re you thinkin’ for food?” Bucky asks.

 

“Hmmm,” Steve answers absently. “Dunno. What’d’you got?”

 

“Uh…”

 

Steve chuckles a little as Bucky takes a hand off his back to open the fridge.

 

“Lean Cuisine,” he says finally.

 

“Ew,” Steve answers. “And you tell me to buy real food.”

 

“You wanna go out for lunch?” Bucky suggests with a laugh.

 

“Starbucks,” Steve decides, craving coffee. “You’re buying.”

 

“‘Course I’m buying,” Bucky sighs, though Steve knows its no skin off his teeth and it only makes him smile. Bucky turns away from the fridge, already heading back up the stairs. “Lemme guess, you like frappuccinos.”

 

“Fuck no,” Steve snorts. “I prefer plain coffee or lattes.”

 

“I admit, I never got the appeal of Starbucks.”

 

“I will educate you,” Steve mumbles. Bucky laughs again.

 

Then he’s setting Steve back down on the bed and Steve reacts by lying back and stretching his arms above his head. Bucky heads for his dresser, then the closet, and Steve is struck by something.

 

“Do I have clothes?” he says.

 

Bucky glances over him, then points to a stack of clothes on his dresser. “You got what you were wearing yesterday.”

 

Steve scowls. “Can we stop at my apartment on our way out so I can pick up some clothes? I don’t wanna look through it yet, but I don’t wanna go out in sweats and a Green Day shirt.”

 

Bucky shrugs, turning back to his closet. “Sure,” he says.

 

Steve sits up then, then looks down at what he’s wearing. It’s the same shirt he slept in on Friday, but he hadn’t actually looked at it then. It’s a dark green, olive drab and worn soft, with faded black letters over the chest. They’re worn out and all that’s left is the parts of an R M, the tail of a Y and the cross and one leg of an  A. 

 

Steve gets up, grabs his sweats and swaps them for the boxers, which are too big and slick-stained anyway, but stays in the shirt. It hangs past his hips, almost halfway down his thighs, and it smells like Bucky still.

 

“You were in the army?” he asks then. He remembers that Bucky had mentioned it their first Friday together, but only briefly. Steve is wondering about it now.

 

Bucky has, by then, pulled off his sweats, stained despite Steve’s efforts. He's replaced the sweats with boxers and slacks, but he stops in tugging on a white tank top to look at Steve. Bucky blinks, then drops his gaze to the faded letters on the shirt Steve is wearing.

 

“Yeah,” Bucky says simply. “For a while.”

 

Steve leans against the dresser, twisting the hem of his shirt between his fingers. “What happened?”

 

Bucky shrugs. He pulls the undershirt down his torso, tucking it into his undone slacks, then pulls a dress shirt over his shoulders and begins to button it. Steve pushes off the dresser and walks over, then bats away Bucky's hands and starts doing it himself.

 

“I told you stuff,” Steve says gently. “You don’t have to tell me, but… I’m curious. The Army doesn’t really lead to the mafia, does it?”

 

“Not usually,” Bucky says in a quiet tone.

 

Steve glances up at him, then takes the tie that Bucky had pulled from the closet and drapes it over his neck, lifting Bucky's collar to knot it. Steve waits.

 

“I got discharged,” Bucky says. “Court-martialed, actually.”

 

“What happened?” Steve asks.

 

“I met Aleksei Seyrbakov,” Bucky answers. “Junior, not senior. Next thing I knew, I was smuggling weapons.”

 

“Didn’t Junior try to kill you?” Steve asks, looking up from the half tied knot.

 

Bucky laughs, and it’s devoid of mirth. “Yeah,” he says. He sounds like he’s still bitter about it. “Old man Seyrbakov handed the helm to me over his sons, yeah, Alyosha and Mikhail were pissed.”

 

“Alyosha?” Steve repeats. Pieces of the puzzle that is James Barnes are staring to put themselves together in his head. Seyrbakov’s sons were supposedly deported after the assassination attempt, despite the fact that they had been born in New York.

 

“Russians are big on nicknames,” Bucky adds. “I meant Aleksei.”

 

Steve nods, then pulls Bucky's tie tight at his throat. He adjusts it, then turns down Bucky's collar. He brushes at Bucky’s shoulders, then, holding on to them, lifts up on his toes. Bucky’s hands come to rest on his elbows and he bends to kiss him. It’s light, a bare brush of their lips, and Steve drops back onto his heels. He pulls back after and Bucky’s hands follow him for a moment before dropping.

 

“So,” Steve goes on and Bucky looks down at his shirt tails before starting tuck them in, “how’d you join the army? I’m guessing it was the US Army?”

 

“Well,” Bucky starts, pursing his lips like he’s considering what he’s about to say, “first I robbed a bank to get the money to come to New York.”

 

Steve can’t tell if he’s joking or not. Then Bucky cracks a smile and he knows he is. Steve rolls his eyes and smacks his arm with the back of his hand.

 

“Seriously,” he says. “Tell me your life story, Barnes.”

 

Bucky rolls his eyes right back. “I joined the US army at 18 to get a green card for me and my sister. Got kicked out at 23, joined the Russian mafia instead, and here we are.”

 

Bucky shrugs. Steve tilts his head to the side, thinking, Bucky was the same age as him now when he was discharged from the army. Steve assumes it was a dishonorable discharge.

 

“You got your green card, though, right?” he asks, squinting at Bucky.

 

Bucky laughs, shrugging. “Eventually.”

 

“And your sister?” Steve prompts.

 

Bucky shrugs again, his smile remaining easy, but if Steve looks careful enough, it looks false.

 

“She’s back in Romania,” he says. “Tried to get her a green card after I joined the Seyrbakovs, but she wouldn’t take it.”

 

Steve nods. He thinks, if he had a sister, he’d talk to her whether she liked his job or not. Maybe he can get Bucky to work things out with his sister eventually, if his plan works out. He’s starting to doubt it, if he’s honest. He’s not honest very often.

 

“Can I ask,” Steve says, then pauses, licking his lips compulsively. “Did you actually get Seyrbakov’s sons deported or did you have them killed?”

 

Bucky raises his eyebrows.

 

“They’re alive,” Bucky answers, but leaves it there. 

 

Steve nods. Bucky’s answered more than one question, the question Steve really wanted to be answered, but he can be possessive, too.

 

“Were you and Alyosha a thing?” he presses.

 

Bucky’s expression turns speculative for a moment, then he narrows his eyes at Steve. “Depends on what you mean by a thing.”

 

Steve draws his lips into a light scowl, giving Bucky a flat look. “Were you together?”

 

“For a while,” Bucky says. He tucks the tail of his belt in the loops of his slacks, then raises a hand and crooks a finger beckoningly. Steve closes the small distance between them, and Bucky grips his chin to sweep his thumb over his lip. “What’re you really asking, doll?”

 

Steve shrugs. “Nothin’,” he says dishonestly.

 

But Bucky curls his lip at a corner and presses his other hand to Steve's waist, abruptly drawing him flush to his body.

 

“Uh-huh,” he says, betraying that he doesn’t believe him one bit. “How’d you figure that out so easy? Not even Alyosha’s family knew.”

 

Steve shrugs. “Just a guess.”

 

Bucky flicks an eyebrow up, lip still curled. “Just a guess, huh?” He laughs, and again, it has little mirth to it. “Biggest secret of my life and you figure it out in two seconds,” he mutters and Steve wonders if he should have asked at all.

 

But Bucky shakes his head, then kisses Steve, pushing his tongue past Steve's lips, and Steve goes pliant in his grip. Bucky’s eyes are closed. Steve’s remain open for a moment, but flutter shut as Bucky pushes his mouth open with his tongue.

 

Bucky pulls back just after Steve closes his eyes. His lips remain parted even after Bucky pulls back, his eyes remain closed, and it’s genuine.

 

Bucky’s thumb sweeps over his lower lip and Steve opens his eyes again. “There’s no need for you to be jealous, doll,” Bucky offers, and his smile is tight. “He did try to kill me, after all.”

 

Steve gives a shrug. “That’s a fair point.”

 

Bucky gives a nod, then kisses his forehead. “What about you? Anybody I should be jealous of? ‘Cause I will be, whether I need to or not.”

 

Steve snorts. “Well, there is the entirety of New York City, it feels like sometimes.”

 

“Cute,” Bucky says, squeezing his waist with a hand. “I meant relationships. Ex-boyfriends, girlfriends.”

 

Steve shrugs. “I’ve hooked up with a few people for free, but the last serious thing was in high school, and it was only serious ‘cause I lost my virginity to him. He turned out to be a real dick.”

 

“Alright,” Bucky says, nodding. “I might kill him.”

 

Steve lets out a sharp burst of laughter at how fucked up this is and Bucky raises an eyebrow. 

 

“I ain’t jokin’, doll,” he says with mostly a scowl and partly a smirk. 

 

Steve keeps laughing. “You already killed him,” h says finally, half wheezing for breath.

 

Bucky’s eyebrows shoot up. Then he frowns. “I’ve killed a lot of people,” he says, clearly confused, and Steve has to laugh again.

 

“Rumlow,” Steve says. He covers his mouth, dropping his forehead against Bucky’s shoulder, and laughs. It’s completely fucked up. “He was in the class above me until I dropped out, then we met again in Fang and by then he was a real fuckwad. I don’t think anybody misses him, either.”

 

“Honestly, I killed him ‘cause he was selling coke to high schoolers,” Bucky admits musingly, “but now I feel better about it.”

 

Steve laughs again. This is so fucked up. He’d hated Rumlow and he doesn’t think anybody misses him, but if he’s being honest past that, he’s into Bucky’s nonchalance about his power and danger. Bucky has literally killed a man for no reason more than Steve had screamed, and he’s into that, even if getting there was kind of scary. Intensely terrifying. Completely fucked up. Steve's dissociated from the fucked up part already, he focuses on the thrill of belonging to Bucky.

 

Bucky’s arms lock behind Steve's back, his lips touch his hair. “All mine now,” he murmurs, and Steve shivers in his grip.

 

“Yessir,” he whispers.

Chapter Text

and, oh, the lord

 

This time, Bucky doesn’t summon a limo. But it is a Mercedes Benz with a partition still, and there are still two men in suits and sunglasses in the front seat. Steve takes the middle seat, then puts his feet up and his back to Bucky’s side.

 

Bucky looks down at him from the corner of his eye. “If we get hit, you’re going to break all the bones in your body.”

 

Steve takes Bucky’s arm and tugs it around his waist. “There,” he says. “Now I have a seatbelt.”

 

Bucky rolls his eyes but doesn’t make him move. Steve smiles to himself and settles his head on Bucky’s shoulder.

 

Luke, the only one of Bucky’s suits that Steve recognizes, is the driver. Steve thinks he’s cool. He’s quite nice to look at, too. He’s got beautiful hands. Back in high school, Steve spent more time on his art homework than anything else, and he’d been planning to do a collection of hands for his senior project before he’d dropped out. Luke’s hands are just the kind he’d want to draw.

 

The drive will take a long time, and after several minutes of quiet, Steve takes out his new phone and opens Spotify. He’s already signed into his profile but pauses before he plays something. He tips his head back to look at Bucky.

 

“Can you buy me Spotify premium?”

 

“You’ve got my credit card,” Bucky says dismissively.

 

“I don’t have my wallet,” Steve says.

 

Bucky sighs, then digs his wallet out and hands it to him. Steve grins and flips it open to pluck out the first card he finds. In two minutes, he’s registered for Spotify premium. Pleased, Steve hands Bucky back his wallet, then, because he thinks it's completely appropriate, plays Nicki Minaj’s Big Daddy.

 

Bucky looks at him from the corner of his eye by the end of the intro. Steve smiles innocently, then leans up to look over the open partition.

 

“Do you have an aux cord?” he asks of Luke.

 

Luke flicks his eyes to him in the rear mirror. “No?”

 

Steve turns to give Bucky a look. “You need aux cables in your cars.”

 

“Whatever,” Bucky sighs.

 

Steve puts his phone in a nearby cup holder and turns the volume all the way up. Bucky shakes his head, but he’s cracking a smile now. Steve twists and kisses his cheek.

 

“Thanks, Big Daddy,” he says gleefully.

 

“Oh, great,” Bucky mutters. He’s clearly trying not to smile and Steve grins evilly.

 

“Daddy,” he repeats in a coo, drawing it out to the full effect, “kiss me.”

 

Bucky rolls his eyes. But he raises his hand to curl in his hair and kisses him briefly and firmly. Steve grins and drops against his shoulder.

 

“Don’t call me Daddy,” Bucky says.

 

“‘Kay,” Steve agrees, then grins wider. “Daddy.”

 

“Is it too late to take you back to the pound?” Bucky asks dryly.

 

“Yep,” Steve says, gleeful again.

 

Bucky shakes his head. Steve catches Luke and the other suit in the front suit schooling their features as they try not to smile or laugh. He smirks.

 

“Brat,” Bucky mutters in his ear. Steve shivers a little, only for his proximity. Bucky’s hand falls on his thigh and pinches briefly. Steve grins and squirms a little, wondering if it would be bratty to crawl into his lap.

 

“You gonna punish me, Daddy?” Steve asks, turning his grin on him.

 

Bucky rolls his eyes. “Gonna make you sleep on the couch, is what I’m gonna do.”

 

“Aw, but Daddy,” Steve whines. Bucky pinches his thigh again and he squirms a little more.

 

“What even is this song?” Bucky sighs.

 

Big Daddy, ” Steve says. He looks over his shoulder at him. “Tell me you know who Nicki Minaj is.”

 

Bucky just shrugs.

 

“Rihanna?” Steve tries. Bucky shakes his head. “Drake? Kendrick Lamar? The Weekend? Lady Gaga? Halsey? Harry Styles? Taylor Swift?

 

“I vaguely recognize a few of those names,” Bucky says.

 

Steve gapes. “Beyoncé?” he asks hopelessly.

 

“Met her once, I think,” Bucky says with a frown.

 

Steve continues to gape. “You’ve met Beyoncé!”

 

Bucky just shrugs. Steve snatches up his phone, scrolls through his music, then queues (because he has that ability now) Partition.

 

Big Daddy hardly has ten seconds left in it. Partition starts and Steve points to his phone.

 

“This Beyoncé?” he demands.

 

“Yeah,” Bucky says. Then he frowns as the song carries on. “What is this?”

 

Luke slowly puts up the partition, before the first part of the song even finishes. Steve snorts. Bucky presses a hand over his eyes.

 

“You’re an old man,” Steve notes. Then he twists in his seat and crawls onto Bucky’s lap. Bucky grasps his waist and raises his eyebrows. “Daddy,” Steve adds, just to be a brat.

 

“I’m not into being called Daddy,” Bucky says with a wry twist to his lips.

 

“I know,” Steve says with a growing grin.

 

“Driver, roll up the partition, please,” comes from his phone and Bucky raises his eyebrows first at the phone, then at Steve.

 

“What is with music these days?” he mutters.

 

“You are so old,” Steve says, horrified. “This song came out five years ago!”

 

“I don’t pay attention to music,” Bucky says tiredly.

 

“What do you listen to, then?” Steve demands.

 

Bucky just shrugs. “Not much?”

 

“Not even what you had growing up?” Steve demands.

 

“We didn’t have radios,” Bucky says. Steve sits back a little. “We had a record player, and the only thing in English or with words was Elvis, and Mother Gregory fuckin’ hated Elvis so we only listened to it when she was out, which was maybe twice a year. No, I don’t listen to music.”

 

“I guess that’s a good reason,” Steve mutters.

 

Bucky raises his eyebrows pointedly. Steve leans to the side and grabs his phone again. “I’ll just educate you, then.”

 

Bucky rolls his eyes. Steve sticks tongue out, and before he can pull it back into his mouth Bucky’s grabbing him by the back of the neck and yanking him in for a harsh kiss. Steve melts, holding back a moan, and Bucky squeezes the back of his neck.

 

He pulls him back, and Steve’s all but forgotten about setting up the queue on Spotify with all favorite songs to educate Bucky.

 

“We’ll have to try that sometime,” Bucky says quietly.

 

Steve remembers the point of the song and swallows. Bucky smiles, predatory, and trails a hand down his back to grip and squeeze his ass.

 

“Get back on the bench,” he says, “you’ll break your neck if the car gets hit.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve mumbles, thinking about the stretch Cadillac and getting on his knees. But he slips off Bucky’s lap, then sits squarely next to him and tugs his shirt lower. Bucky’s smirk remains on his lip as he drapes an arm over his shoulder.

 

Then he remembers that he wants to teach Bucky about today’s music. He leans into him, drawing his legs onto the bench, then starts setting up his queue with all his favorite songs currently.

 

They get through most of them by the time Luke pulls up outside his apartment. Bucky seems wholly disinterested in most of it.

 

“Wait here,” Steve says, pausing in the middle of Panic! At the Disco’s Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time.

 

“Steve –” Bucky starts, but Steve ignores him and climbs over him to get out.

 

“I’ll only be a minute,” he promises.

 

Bucky catches his wrist and Steve stops, standing just outside the car. He leans forward and, with his other hand, knocks on the partition.

 

“What?” Steve says.

 

Bucky shoots him a look that says be patient as the partition lowers. “Hunter, walk with him.”

 

Steve rolls his eyes as the second of the suits pops his door and gets out. “I don’t need a bodyguard,” he says to Bucky.

 

Bucky raises his eyebrows. “I wasn’t asking,” he says.

 

Steve opens his mouth to argue, but Bucky’s expression makes him pause. The suit, Hunter, cracks his neck and raises his eyebrows.

 

“Fine,” Steve says. “I’m making him carry my bag, then.”

 

Bucky just waves a hand at the bodyguard. Hunter gives no expression, and Steve bends to present his cheek. Bucky kisses it, then pats him on the hip.

 

“Hurry up,” Bucky tells him, leaning back into the confines of the car.

 

Hunter shuts the car door behind Steve. Steve walks up to his building, pushes open the door and looks around. The dingy vestibule is empty and dirtier than normal. He heads for the stairs, not touching the handrail, and Hunter trails behind him, still in sunglasses.

 

He walks up to his apartment and finds the door still hanging off its hinges, but closed, so at first glance it isn’t noticeable. He pushes open the door and it creaks loudly as it sags away from the broken hinges.

 

“I don’t suppose you can fix that,” Steve says, though he doesn’t look back.

 

“Nope,” Hunter answers. He has a British accent. Fun.

 

Steve looks around, but half his shit is missing anyway and if someone helped themselves to his apartment in the past twenty-four hours, it won’t be noticeable, either. He crosses slowly, seeing that his spiked bat remains by the TV-less TV stand, then pushes open his bedroom door and ducks inside. Hunter makes to follow, and Steve turns around.

 

“Wait out here,” he says.

 

Hunter shrugs and stands directly outside the door. Steve rolls his eyes and shuts the door in his face. Shaking his head, he goes to collect clothes.

 

He dresses in comfortable, light-wash jeans and a soft white shirt with green borders, and because now he knows that Bucky is into it, a pair of light blue lace panties. He packs a suitcase with as many clothes as he can fit into it and a duffle with anything else he needs in his bedroom or bathroom. He’ll have to come back sooner rather than later to catalog everything that was stolen, but for now, he just wants to delay doing it. He just needs to get his stuff out.

 

He stops by the nightstand and picks up his mother’s picture. He sits down on the bed to smooth it between his fingers, to brush at the dried mud lightly so it won’t scratch the photo’s surface. Maybe there’s a way to repair it, or a way to replace it. He folds it evenly, in half and then quarters, and tucks it into the back pocket of his jeans. He still hadn’t been wearing shoes, so he puts on his beat-up Chucks and checks his appearance in the bathroom mirror before leaving. He looks a little pale and he needs to shave, his hair needs washing, so he sprays it with some dry shampoo and uses his fingers to make it stick up at the front some. The rest, he leaves for now.

 

Steve grabs the suitcase and the duffle bag, then yanks open the bedroom door. Hunter raises his eyebrows from behind his sunglasses.

 

“Here,” he says, holding out the suitcase.

 

Hunter looks at it. Steve raises his eyebrows. Hunter wrinkles his nose but takes it. Steve swings his duffle bag onto his shoulder and leads him out, pausing to pull the door to and lock the handle, even though it’s busted and one light shove would take it down completely.

 

Whatever. There’s nothing left of value in it. Not even his clothes, which are mostly from thrift shops or counterfeit.

 

They take the stairs again. At the building exit, Hunter takes the duffle bag and Steve lets him. Despite having his hands full, Hunter opens the car door for him before going around to put his bags in the back.

 

Steve doesn’t bother crawling over Bucky, just drops into his lap and curls his arms around his neck. Bucky’s hands rest on his lower back, one slips low to cup his ass, and the picture in his pocket crinkles.

 

The door shuts, then the front door opens as Hunter gets in. Luke starts the car. Steve sits up and pulls the picture from his pocket as they pull back into traffic.

 

He unfolds it and Bucky reaches out to take it between his thumb and forefinger.

 

“Do you know a way to fix it?” Steve says without preamble.

 

“Yeah,” Bucky answers. “These your parents?”

 

Steve nods. “I don’t have any other pictures of my dad.”

“I’ll fix it,” Bucky promises him. He takes his jaw in his other hand and draws him in for a kiss, the gentle kind. Steve doesn’t mind his gentleness as much anymore. It still makes him melt.

 

“I want food and coffee,” he says when Bucky releases him.

 

“Fine,” Bucky says. “Luke, Starbucks before the tailor.”

 

“Sure thing, boss.”

 

Steve tucks his head into Bucky’s neck. Bucky’s hand falls on his back and begins a slow, repetitive drift up and down his spine.

 

The car stops. Steve sits up, rubs at his face to make himself look a little less pale, then opens the door himself and climbs off Bucky’s lap. He turns and waits.

 

“You coming?”

 

Bucky looks like he’s considering saying no, then sighs and gets out. He straightens his jacket, brushes the wrinkles of Steve’s thighs from his slacks, then holds out his arm. Steve loops his hand through the crook of Bucky’s elbow, Bucky shuts his door and Hunter is waiting for them again.

 

“Do you bring the suits everywhere?” Steve asks as they walk up to the Starbucks. It’s three something on a Monday, so the place is empty. It also happens to be his usual Starbucks, so the baristas here know him.

 

“Yep,” Bucky says to answer him as MJ and America look up from doing nothing to greet them.

 

“Hey, Steve,” America says as a reflex, already reaching for a cup.

 

“Uh,” MJ says, looking at James Barnes.

 

Peter pops up from under a counter, presumably cleaning something. “Steve!” he cheers. “Is it five o’clock?”

 

“It’s three twenty,” Bucky answers.

 

“Dammit,” Peter mutters, and ducks back under the counter to continue cleaning. “Don’t tell Joyce I cursed!” he adds from under the counter. Bucky looks at Steve.

 

“I come in at five most days,” Steve says with a shrug. “His shift ends around then?”

 

“Uh,” MJ repeats, pointing at Bucky.

 

America glances up from writing a cup, then blinks, expression blank. She’s been practicing calligraphy or something, because it took her that long to write his name.

 

“Don’t mind him,” Steve says, pulling away from Bucky to approach the register and look through the display of sandwiches.

 

“Uh!” MJ repeats a little more insistently.

 

America leans over the counter. “I know this isn’t the greatest neighborhood, but that’s, like, IRL Scarface,” she hisses. “Are you insane?”

 

Steve glances over at Bucky, then shrugs. “He’s more like the Godfather.”

 

Bucky sticks his hands into his pockets, his expression impassive. Steve hands America a panini and a yogurt. She blinks, but scans them and hands him a spoon.

 

“He just wants a coffee,” Steve adds. “Bucky, you hungry?”

“Nah,” he says. “Ate earlier.”

 

Steve scowls at him a little. “While I was asleep?”

 

Bucky shrugs. “I was hungry, but I wasn’t gonna wake you up.”

 

Steve rolls his eyes, but both America and MJ look rather distressed still. Peter pulls his head out from behind the fridge he’s cleaning.

 

“What’s going on?” he asks, looking between America and MJ.

 

“I have a boyfriend,” Steve says, because that’s easier to explain than I have a sir, “and he’s James Barnes.”

 

“Oh, cool,” Peter says. He ducks back into the fridge, stops, pulls back and frowns at Steve. “What?”

 

“What size coffee do you want?” Steve asks Bucky.

 

Bucky approaches the counter, looking at the menu. “Venti,” he says eventually.

 

America, still with the expression of mild horror, reaches for a venti cup, then turns around and goes to fill it with coffee. She pauses, turns back, and asks, numbly: “Do you need room for cream?”

 

“Little bit,” Bucky says.

 

America nods vaguely. She lids and puts a sleeve on the cup, then sets it on the counter between her register and Steve. Steve pulls out his phone and opens his Starbucks app.

 

“Lemme pay,” Bucky says then.

 

“You are paying,” Steve tells him, scanning his app when America waves him to do so. “I reloaded my account with your credit card.”

 

“Of course you did,” Bucky says. Steve looks at him, then smiles and sticks out his cheek. Bucky rolls his eyes and kisses it.

 

“Does the bodyguard want anything?” Steve then adds, looking at Hunter.

 

Hunter shrugs. “Coffee, medium. Luke wants a caramel frappuccino.”

 

America nods, ringing it up and marking a cup. MJ has yet to start on Steve’s latte.

 

“You okay?” he calls to her.

 

MJ shakes herself. “Nah,” she says, but she starts making his drink, so she’s somewhat okay.

 

Peter stands up finally. He actually gawks for a full second, until America kicks him in the shin.

 

“Is this a normal reaction?” Steve asks Bucky.

 

“I don’t usually go into Starbucks, so, no,” he answers.

 

“Is this a normal reaction for people seeing you on the street?” Steve tries again.

 

Bucky raises his eyebrows, and Steve assumes that means Bucky doesn’t often just walk around amongst the plebs in order to garner this sort of reaction.

 

MJ hesitantly puts his latte down in front of him. She raises her eyebrows at him, then slinks off to go make the frappuccino. Steve takes it and sips, smiling happily at the bitter taste of espresso.

 

“There’s cream and sugar at the end of the bar,” America says to Bucky, pointing helpfully.

 

Bucky flicks his eyebrows up, and that’s all he does to thank her, then takes coffee down to the condiment bar. Steve follows him, sipping his coffee. Hunter takes the coffee America hands him, then follows, too.

 

MJ puts the caramel frappuccino down at the end of the bar, pushing it towards their bodyguard, who takes it silently and waits while Bucky puts half and half and sugar in his coffee.

 

“I thought you’d like it black,” Steve remarks.

 

Bucky just shrugs. He adds yet another packet of sugar, stirring with a thin wooden stick, then puts the lid back on and takes a testing sip. He nods, then waves to Hunter, who turns and opens the door for them.

 

“Bye!” Steve calls out to the baristas as they leave.

 

America waves. MJ looks like she’s debating calling the cops; little good it would do. The NYPD works for Seyrbakov Corporations. Peter is still gawking.

 

Hunter opens the car door, as well. Steve gets in first, followed by Bucky and Hunter shuts it again. When he gets in the passenger seat, he holds out the frappuccino to Luke.

 

“Oh, cool,” Luke says. Then glances in the rear view mirror, and simply takes the drink. Steve puts his head on Bucky’s shoulder for a second, then puts his latte in a cupholder and opens his panini.

 

He starts the music again just as Luke pulls into traffic. Bucky watches him eat, an arm around his shoulders, and Steve tries to ignore him. It’s a bit awkward. It’s easier once he’s eating the yogurt, at least.

 

The tailor isn’t far from the Starbucks, however. He’s just finished his yogurt when Luke pulls up to the curb and parks.

 

Hunter opens the door, Bucky unfolds himself from the car and holds out his hand, looking at the street around him. Steve stops the music, tucks his phone into his pocket, then takes his hand and slips out of the car. Luke gets out of the car this time, and he and Hunter stand squarely side by side, like two foot-soldiers in a phalanx.

 

Bucky mounts the steps of a humble-looking two-story shop, opening the door and making a bell jangle. He walks in first, pulling Steve along behind him, and the foot soldiers trail after them.

 

“Yankov!” Bucky calls out. “Kak proiskhodit biznes?”

 

A loud grunting sound comes from the back of the shop, then the sound of several soft things falling to the ground. Bucky winces as a man’s voice starts yelling in Russian.

 

“Go help him,” Bucky snaps at his bodyguards. They hasten to follow his order.

 

Steve takes the time to look around as Yankov continues to yell in Russian and, presumably from the sounds, Hunter and Luke begin moving heavy objects. The tailor’s shop is old fashioned, certainly, there are smoking couches and mannequins and cabinets full of bolts of fabric. The front desk has a heavy log book open next to a vintage register, hand crank and all. The lights are just as vintage and cast a warm, golden hue over the room.

 

Bucky takes a seat on one of the red velvet sofas. Steve, after another moment looking around, sits next to him. He pushes his elbow into Bucky’s waist and Bucky lifts an arm to drape over his shoulders.

 

There’s another loud crash from the back, another explosion of angry Russian. Bucky exhales forcefully. Steve turns to him with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Is this normal?”

 

“Ehh,” Bucky answers vaguely.

 

Hunter is pushed through a set of heavy draperies, angry Russian following him. He huffs and stalks off to stand in a corner of the room.

 

“What did you do?” Steve asks, confused.

 

“Neuklyuzhiy!” presumably Yankov shouts. “Pereryv tkani! Kak vy narushayete tkan? Neuklyuzhiy!”

 

Hunter shrugs hopelessly. Bucky slowly covers his eyes with a hand.

 

“Ar fi trebuit să-l aduc pe Natasha,” he mutters softly.

 

Steve looks up at him. “That wasn’t Russian?”

 

He just shakes his head. “Yankov!” he yells. “Vy prikhodish?”

 

“Tihko!” comes from the back.

 

Steve, annoyed that he took Spanish in High School and not Russian, tugs out his phone and brings up Google Translate. Hunter, on the other side of the room, frowns slightly.

 

“Ya plachu tebe za rabotu!” Bucky calls back. Steve hastily presses speech to text and holds his phone closer to Bucky as he adds: “Perestan' krichat'! Prinimaytes' za rabotu!”

 

Google thinks a minute, then provides a translation: Stop screaming. Get to work.

 

Steve prods Bucky in the stomach to make him confirm the translation. He waves a frustrated hand, still aiming a glare at the drapery. “Yankov!”

 

“Terpeniye, mal'chik!” Yankov answers, but the drapes part and Luke walks out with an armful of fabric. A very short, stooped old man follows behind him, Steve assumes this is Yankov. Surprisingly, so does a young woman.

 

“Him?” Yankov says shortly, pointing at Steve. “Up!”

 

Steve glances at Bucky, who waves his hand again. Steve stands up, and Yankov takes him by both forearms to tug him forward. Steve leans away from his foul breath, trying not to wrinkle his nose, as Yankov hums and taps his wiry chin. Steve is taller than him with his bowed back, and that’s saying something, because Steve has a bowed back.

 

“Wanda, stool,” Yankov snaps.

 

The girl, Wanda, grabs a velvet-covered and fringed round stool and drags it into the center of the room. She offers a hand to Steve, who takes a second to comprehend that he’s being told to get on it. He glances hesitantly at Bucky, who only waves his hand for them go on.

 

Steve steps onto the stool, only taking Wanda’s hand to not be rude, then stands in its center, a few inches off the ground. Yankov circles him once, then clucks his tongue and picks at the leg of his jeans.

 

“What is this?” he tuts, yanking on his jeans. “Meshkovatyy.”

 

Steve tugs his knee away from him, affronted though he doesn’t know what Yankov just said.

 

“Ne sudite yego odezhde,” Bucky says. “Yemu nuzhen kostyum.”

 

“Can we speak English?” Steve asks, feeling very uncomfortable. He doesn’t like being spoken of as if he isn’t there and listening.

 

Yankov scoffs. Bucky rubs at his temple with a sigh. Wanda flashes him a tight and apologetic smile. Steve huffs his bangs out of his eyes and curls his lips downward.

 

Yankov flitters a moment longer. He pokes at his knees and scoffs at the rolled up hem of his jeans that exposes his ankles, grabs his hands and examines his arms, and tuts loudly through the whole ordeal. Steve keeps looking at Bucky, expecting him to interrupt and tell him off, but he only scowls, occasionally breaking into Yankov’s fast-paced Russian with a short comment or two. He sits with his ankle propped up on his knee, an elbow on the arm of the couch to press his index to his temple, his lip curled downward in either frustration or distaste, but either way, it is not the defense that Steve is looking for.

 

“Chto vy yego kormite?” Yankov says, finally turning away from Steve to snap at Bucky. “Kozha i kost! On slishkom khudoy!”

 

Wanda winces. Steve turns to Bucky, indignant with ignorance, but Bucky doesn’t move to defend him, just scowls a long while. Yankov crosses his arms over his chest, glaring sullenly.

 

“Yemu nuzhen kostyum,” Bucky repeats darkly. “Prosto sdelay eto.”

 

“If you’re going to talk about me like I’m not here,” Steve announces, and Bucky’s irritated gaze flicks to him, “could you at least do it in English?”

 

Bucky’s expression still does not change. Steve gives him a displeased pout.

 

“Impertinent,” Yankov snaps, and it takes Steve a second to recognize it as English after the outpouring of Russian. “Teach manners.”

 

“Hey!” he protests loudly.

 

“Yankov,” Bucky snaps, rubbing at his temple again like he’s got a headache, “don’t make me find a new tailor.”

 

Yankov draws himself up. “Huh,” he says, half a scoff and just as indignant as Steve. It is not any more endearing than his tutting. He simply turns around and snaps his fingers at Wanda. “Lenta.”

 

Wanda produces a measuring tape and hands it to him. Yankov draws it out, snaps it taut, then begins to measure Steve’s arms.

 

He takes more measurements than Steve would assume necessary. He’s standing on the stool for nearly half an hour, while Yankov measures every part of his body from the length of his fingers to the circumference of his knee.

 

Finally, Yankov shoves the tape measure back to Wanda. She takes it and begins to painstakingly roll it back up, while Yankov flitters away to a cabinet of drawers and begins digging around in it.

 

He comes back with a simple pair of slacks, a shirt, a waistcoat, and a jacket. These, he drops into Steve’s arms.

 

“Change,” he says, pointing to a room divider behind the smoking couches.

 

Steve looks at them, sees the marks of pins and the simple weave of cotton, then at Bucky. He nods, perhaps attempting to be encouraging, but it’s put off by the fact that he still looks annoyed.

 

Steve steps off the stool, gives him a look that says fuck you and moves behind the partition. He changes, the slacks scratchy and the shirt stuffy, balls up his jeans and t-shirt, then steps out from behind the divider. He walks up to the smoking couch behind Bucky and drops his wad of clothes into his lap. He starts, then looks up at Steve with a single raised eyebrow and no other show of emotion on his face. Steve raises both of his, sticks his nose in the air and steps back on the stool, back to him.

 

Yankov has a mouth full of pins, and begins to poke and prod at the clothes Steve’s wearing yet again. He sets pins, moves them, sets them again and steps back to tut. Then he does it again. He flutters for a full fifteen or twenty minutes before he finally drops the remaining pins into a tin and steps back to eye Steve critically.

 

“Da ili net?” Yankov says. He looks at Wanda, for the first time since they’d walked in.

 

Wanda tilts her head to the side. She steps forward, then adjusts a few pins. “Da,” she says. Yankov hums, though his expression is still pinched, then nods. He raises a hand and swirls a finger. Steve turns around, meeting Bucky’s gaze.

 

It startles the scowl off his lips. Bucky’s gaze is intense. The lights are on his back, casting his face into shadow. It accentuates the curve of his jaw and crest of his cheekbone and sets a gentle ring of glowing silver in his dark hair that melds into the gray of his temples. His gaze, dark in nature and physicality, reminds Steve of the wolf again; crouching in the underbrush, preparing to launch and snare its teeth into the throat of its prey. A slow and cold shiver, like a single bead of water or a rough fingertip, rolls down Steve’s spine.

 

“Da?” Yankov repeats, walking around to look at Bucky.

 

Bucky tilts his head. He lifts his finger off his temple and curls it towards him. His eyes say come and Steve steps off the stool.

 

Bucky drops his ankle off his knee and Steve stops between his legs. Bucky looks him up and down, then raises a palm to press to his waist. He says something in Russian, and abruptly Yankov laughs. Steve glances at him, then at Bucky, then back at Yankov as he says something else and raises his hands. He makes the figure of an hourglass with his palms and laughs again. Steve drops his focus back to Bucky, who raises his other palm to cup both sides of his waist. His predatory gaze travels up and down his body.

 

“Da,” he says quietly. The shiver rolls down Steve’s spine again.

 

“Stool,” Yankov says, and Bucky squeezes his waist once before releasing him.

 

Steve steps back, though reluctant now, and steps back onto the stool. Yankov says something to Wanda, who nears again and begins adjusting the pins. She makes the shoulders of the jacket sharper, and the waist of all three pieces – the shirt, the waistcoat, the jacket – smaller. His figure is not the hourglass Yankov pantomimed, but he has some of a V to his waist and hips thanks to his designation, and as Wanda adjusts the pins, she brings the mock suit to reflect it. Steve is facing Bucky this time, and he’s watching her move the pins with his wolf’s eyes.

 

“Da!” Yankov announces as Wanda sets the final pin. “Ochen khoroshaya rabota, prekrasnyy. Yakov?”

 

“Da,” Bucky agrees. Steve meets his gaze levelly and parts his lips to sweep his tongue over his upper lip, before drawing it back in behind his teeth and leaving his mouth slightly open. Bucky’s expression does not change. His eyes darken.

 

Yankov moves around and studies him for a long moment. Steve does not look away from Bucky, wondering if the quickening of his pulse is visible in the collar of his shirt.

 

“Tkani? Tsveta? Kak vy dumayete?” Yankov says.

 

Steve gives up on trying to follow the conversation. Bucky answers, they go back and forth, Wanda stepping in here and there to point to places on his body; his cheekbones, his hair, his lips or hands. Yankov hums often, taps his wiry chin, and Bucky frequently drops his gaze to the pull of the waistcoat or trousers over Steve’s body.

 

Bucky snaps his fingers, cutting Yankov off mid-sentence. Yankov shuts his mouth with a snap, and Bucky’s gaze flicks to Steve’s face.

 

“You plannin’ on wearing lipstick Friday night?” he asks.

 

Steve considers it. Yankov looks startled. Wanda’s lips twist in a smile.

 

“Yes,” Steve answers after a moment’s thought.

 

“The red?” Bucky goes on.

 

“Probably,” Steve says, and Bucky’s lip curls at a corner.

 

“Velvet,” he says, and this time to Yankov. “To go with dark red.”

 

“Matte or gloss?” Wanda says, the first thing she’s said in English.

 

“Matte,” Steve answers, and she nods, smiling. She says something to Yankov, who appears ruffled. He replies shortly, and she shrugs, waving a dismissive hand. This makes him scowl, but one glance at Bucky has him schooling his look of distaste. Bucky has a pleased smirk curling his lip.

 

Yankov and Wanda speak a while longer, the both of them occasionally moving to tweak a pin or pull on a bit of fabric, and the entire time Bucky is silent. His gaze roams over Steve’s body, often passing his lips, as though remembering the matte color like oxygenated blood.

 

Then Yankov claps his hands loudly. “Done!” he says to Steve. “Change! Care with pins!”

 

“Do you need help?” Wanda offers.

 

He shakes his head, stepping off the stool. He stops in front of Bucky and holds out his hand for his clothes. Bucky holds them out, then grasps his hip with a warm palm and squeezes once. Steve’s breath catches in his throat, but he takes the clothes and moves away, despite wanting to drape himself over Bucky’s lap and let his warm palms wander their fill. It seems Bucky is of similar thoughts, because his palm trails after Steve as he walks past.

 

He steps behind the partition once more. He heeds Yankov’s warning and takes care in removing the clothes so he doesn’t disturb the pins, then dresses once more in his comfortable jeans and simple cotton shirt. He takes the time to tuck in the hem, so the slimness of his waist is put on display by the high-rise of the jeans.

 

As he expected him to do, Bucky slides a palm around his waist as he approaches the couch. Steve perches himself on the arm of the couch, and Bucky’s palm rests possessively on the curve of his waist while he and Yankov converse in Russian. After a while, Steve yawns and drapes his arm over Bucky’s shoulders before leaning on him. Bucky’s palm slips to rest on his hip, yet they continue speaking.

 

Finally, Yankov claps his hands then sticks one out. It’s his right, so Bucky has to take his hand off Steve’s hip to shake it. They shake once, and Yankov flutters away to the vintage register. Then, similarly to how T’Challa brushed off his palms past shaking hands, Bucky flicks his fingers once before returning his palm to Steve’s hip.

 

Wanda steps up to him, holding a leather-bound book.

 

“In English,” she says, smiling, then shows him the page she’s got it open to. It’s a sketchbook, clearly for the purpose of designing clothes, because one page is filled with notes and a figure and the other is blank, only a figure. Steve lifts off Bucky’s shoulder to peer at it; the page she’s pointing to has a male figure, the suit he’d been fitted in drawn on it, only now inked with smooth lines and colors. The suit itself is a deep red, so much that it looks black, the shirt a pale silver almost white, the waistcoat and tie a slightly brighter wine red with brocade. A silver pocket square and solid black wingtips complete the look.

 

“Here, we plan silk,” Wanda starts, pointing to the shirt and then to the waistcoat. “The jacket and slacks velvet. You have earrings? I recommend diamonds, platinum or white gold, silver.”

 

Steve blinks. He has no diamonds, no platinum, and the closest he has to white gold or silver is titanium. He looks down at Bucky, still talking to Yankov, though, then back at the sketchbook and thinks Bucky will buy him diamonds if he asks.

 

He’ll ask later.

 

“Do you wear makeup often?” Wanda asks.

 

Steve laughs. She blinks, and he gives her a polite smile. “Frequently,” he says simply, with no need to bring up his profession.

 

Wanda just nods. “Try a cut crease, matte colors, maybe some glitter wings? Or go for neutral tones if you want the matte lipstick to pop more.”

 

Steve nods, thinking. He’ll have Darcy do it.

 

“And try a bit of a pomade look in your hair,” she goes on, reaching up to touch the upsweep he’s tried to corral his hair into.

 

Bucky stops talking abruptly and jerks his gaze to her. Wanda snatches her hand away from Steve’s hair, taking a step back as if for good measure. Steve tries not to smile but doesn’t resist the pleased humming purr that goes down his spine.

 

“Don’t mind him,” Steve says, though. Bucky’s fingers tighten on his hip. “You were saying?”

 

“Uh,” Wanda mumbles. She shakes herself. “Yes. Pomade. Uh, not quite a pompadour, something a bit more subtle.”

 

“I usually just spike it up,” Steve says, “but that’s a good idea. Classier.”

 

He nods a little. Bucky is still looking at Wanda with warning in his eyes. Steve relaxes against his shoulder, pleased as Punch but maintaining casual interest in what Wanda is telling him, yet Bucky’s grip on his hip only tightens. He’ll leave bruises if he doesn’t let up soon. Steve hopes he holds on for minutes.

 

“Yakov, Yakov, prekratit pugat yeye,” Yankov snaps, and Bucky flicks his gaze away. Wanda visibly releases tension.

 

“What about nails?” Steve questions. He raises a hand, looking at his manicure that could use a touch-up, then holds out his hand to Wanda. “Yes, no, simple, dramatic?”

 

“Simple,” she says, but she doesn’t take his hand. Bucky’s fingers are still tight on his hip, and as Steve stretches out his hand farther to her, they tighten. Externally, Steve is invested in the conversation he’s having, internally, he’s working through body language cues and steadily getting pleased. Wanda hesitantly takes his hand, her expression going thoughtful, and Bucky’s fingers dig into his hip. Yankov snaps Yakov, which Steve is figuring out means Bucky in some way, but Bucky does not answer him. He’s looking out of the corner of his eye, eyes that have gone icy with a pissed, possessive edge.

 

“Nude colors,” Wanda adds, and she releases his hand. Bucky’s grip loosens somewhat and Steve has to fight not to pout in reflex. He draws his hand back and looks at his nails, pursing his lips as though deep in thought.

 

“Just a simple color coat?” he says. “I’ve done some pretty extravagant things with my nails before.”

 

“Just the color,” Wanda affirms. “You’ll want to let the suit be the statement piece.”

 

He nods, leaning back against Bucky’s shoulder. “I get that. I think I’ll go nude colors for eyeshadow, too. Maybe a little bit of a cut crease.”

 

“I’m sure you’ll be very handsome either way,” Wanda says, and Steve, looking at his nails still, curls his lip at the corners a little. Every eye in the place will be on him, but he, like a good little whore, will only be thinking about Bucky. About his sir. He’s grateful for his perch on the arm of the sofa, because his crossed legs mean his slight reaction to thinking about it isn’t noticeable.

 

Bucky’s grip on his hip is still tight. It almost hurts. There will be faint bruises under his fingertips by now. Steve is pleased.

 

“Finish!” Yankov announces loudly, catching Steve’s attention away from Wanda and Bucky’s fingers digging into his hip. “We start, go, go, go!”

 

He waves to the door, then starts a slow shuffle towards the back of the shop. Wanda gives Steve a nod and vanishes through the drapery. Luke looks the piles of fabric he’d carried out of the back, then shakes his head and goes for the door.

 

After Yankov vanishes through the drapes, Bucky’s grip on Steve’s hip turns into a yank. Steve tumbles off the arm of the sofa but falls directly into Bucky’s lap as Bucky's arms close around him. He hardly has the time to react, because Bucky is kissing him and all he can do is sigh happily into the lips devouring his and press into it.

 

Bucky pulls back, then lifts him by the waist and sets him on his feet. Steve sways a little while he stands, until Bucky wraps a firm arm around his torso and tugs him into his side.

 

“Come on,” he snaps to Hunter and Luke.

 

“Dinner?” Steve says, remembering Bucky’s agenda from earlier.

 

“Yep,” Bucky says. Hunter goes out first, then stops to hold the door open for them. “Thinking Italian, Luigi's,” he says, to Luke, who nods. Bucky glances down at Steve, then. “You got somethin’ nice in your bag?”

 

“Sure,” Steve says, already thinking of a plan. The windows of the Benz are tinted, the backseat spacious. He is wearing lace panties.

 

“Good. We’ll stop at my place so you can change.”

 

Steve tugs away from him to head for the trunk. “No need. Just have Luke put the partition up.”

 

Bucky stops on the sidewalk, expression neutral. Steve gives him a smile and opens the trunk, then his suitcase and digs around for a minute. He debates between black or blue slacks, chooses the black, works out a dark green button-up that’s just opaque enough to be classy and sheer enough to be alluring and a pair of white dress shoes. He pulls out a belt and a pair of flat white earrings, having no white gold or diamonds, from his duffle bag and drops them into a shoe so he won’t lose them before slamming the trunk.

 

Bucky is still standing on the sidewalk, hands fisted at his sides and expression neutral. Steve gives him a light smile, faint curl to his lips with lidded eyes, then gets into the car as Hunter is holding open the door.

 

He settles in the middle, putting down his folded clothes. Bucky slides in beside him, and Hunter shuts the door.

 

“Partition,” Bucky says shortly to Luke when he turns the engine.

 

Steve’s lips curl farther upward as Luke puts up the partition. As the car pulls into traffic, Steve lifts his shirt over his head.

 

He can feel Bucky’s gaze on him. Steve pops the button of his jeans, then intentionally stops to take off his shoes. He shakes the earrings out of his dress shoe, puts them in, and pauses to look at Bucky. He’s leaning against the window, watching. Steve gives him a smile, then shimmies off the bench a little to lean back and work down the zipper of his jeans. He catches Bucky’s gaze dropping, then grins as his pupils dilate.

 

Steve, now naked but for the light blue panties, shucks the jeans, then diligently buttons and zips them, folds them, and sets them aside. Bucky’s hand catches his waist, then Steve is being tugged back until he’s flush against Bucky’s chest. Bucky even lifts him up and curls a knee onto the bench, to plant his ass on his lap. Steve drops his head against Bucky’s shoulder, baring his throat, and is rewarded by his lips attacking his neck.

 

“Did I do something, sir?” Steve asks, acting innocent.

 

One of Bucky’s palms cups the front of his panties. Steve grins, eyes fluttering shut, and presses into his hand.

 

“You’re gonna fuckin’ kill me,” Bucky growls into his neck. He keeps his voice down; through the partition, there’s the barely audible sound of the radio playing despite the heavy thrumming of the bass and Steve is positive that it and the windows are bulletproof let alone barriers against noise. Bucky kisses his way up and bites on the cartilage of his ear. “What the fuck, Steve?”

 

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Steve answers. He rolls his hips against Bucky’s palm.

 

“I ain’t buyin’ your innocent act,” Bucky growls again. His palm presses firmly and Steve sighs. “You did this on purpose. Fuck. Why you been wearin’ briefs if you had these this whole time?”

 

“I didn’t know you liked them, sir,” Steve says. “I just grabbed a pair of underwear. No idea you’d like me in lace, sir.”

 

“Liar,” Bucky murmurs. Steve grins more. “You got plenty of these? I want you wearin’ panties all the fuckin’ time, Stevie.”

 

“Well, it wouldn’t hurt to have more,” Steve says. “You wanna buy me panties, Daddy?”

 

Bucky huffs, then bites a little too hard on his ear and Steve winces despite his grin. “Quit bein’ a brat, doll.”

 

“Dunno what you mean, Daddy,” Steve says brattily.

 

Bucky’s other palm comes to rest on his bare stomach, then his fingers gather skin and pinch. Steve shivers, presses his ass into Bucky’s hardening cock under him.

 

“Harder, Daddy,” he breathes out.

 

“Dammit, Steve,” Bucky sighs and it’s frustrated again. Steve’s enjoying this too much. “You’re practically beggin’ me to bend you over my knee.”

 

“Practically?” Steve snorts, then bends his head farther back, as far back as it will go. Bucky mouths at the knot of his throat and he swallows so he’ll feel it. “How much more obvious do I have to get?”

 

Bucky huffs into his throat, then smacks him just on the rough side of too hard to be light and too gentle to actually hurt. “Get dressed,” he says, lifting him off his lap.

 

Steve moves onto his knees on the bench, however, and hooks his fingers into Bucky’s collar. “How far is the restaurant?”

 

“Twenty minutes,” Bucky answers.

 

Steve parts his lips, then sweeps his tongue across them. “Getting dressed will only take a minute,” he says.

 

Bucky’s gaze is dark despite the scowl on his lips. “As opposed to?” he asks in a neutral tone.

 

“The fifteen minutes it’ll take for you to come in my mouth,” Steve says.

 

Bucky raises a hand and brushes at his hair, then drops it to his belt. Steve licks his lips once more.

 

“You got ten minutes,” Bucky tells him and then releases his belt buckle. “You make a sound while doin’ it, you don’t get to keep going.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve answers happily.

Chapter Text

money made monet

 

The drive from Yankov’s tailor shop to Louigi’s takes a little more than twenty minutes. Blowing Bucky in the back seat takes thirteen, and even though Steve went over the ten-minute limit his sir gave him, Bucky doesn’t seem to mind.

 

When he’s done, Steve back sits on his heels with his knees open and wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. Bucky’s eyes are locked on him as he does, and Steve takes care to lick up what he’d wiped off so he doesn’t waste a drop.

 

“Good boy,” Bucky says softly. Steve shuffles forward on his knees so Bucky can grab him by the jaw and tug him in for a fast but harsh kiss. Steve feels almost like he’s high, naked but for lace panties in the back  seat of James Barnes’s Mercedes Benz. As Bucky’s fingers dig into his jaw and then his waist, he thinks he understands why Jessica Jones has had bloodshot eyes for the whole six years he’s known her.

 

Bucky releases his jaw, but Steve stays leaning on his chest to catch his breath. Then Bucky drags a palm up his back and Steve shuts his eyes, shivering.

 

“Get dressed,” Bucky says.

 

Steve nods faintly. He doesn’t want to, but he takes the fresh clothes he’d taken from the trunk and pulls them on, careful so he doesn’t wrinkle them. Still, he does it slower than he needs to, sits kneeling on the bench to slowly button up his shirt up to the throat and slid his belt through the loops of his slacks. Bucky watches him the whole time, and it takes all Steve has not to just take it all off again. Finally, he meets Bucky’s gaze to zip up the slacks, hiding the light blue lace under them for the time being.

 

Just for the time being. Steve knows that as soon as dinner is through, Bucky will take him back to his penthouse and make him strip again. His slacks are painfully tight thanks to Bucky’s possessive hands and attitude and thinking about later, and the restaurant can’t be far off now.

 

“I need your help, sir,” Steve says. He slips nearer to Bucky, who takes him by the waist. “I can’t stop thinking about you.”

 

“Don’t think you need to quit that,” Bucky answers.

 

“I’m hard, sir,” Steve whispers. “You don’t want me goin’ in that restaurant with a tent in my pants, do you, sir?”

 

Bucky tightens his jaw. Steve presses their foreheads together, parts his lips and doesn’t kiss him.

 

“Need your help, sir,” he mumbles again.

 

“On your back,” Bucky tells him.

 

Steve pulls back and shifts around to sit on his ass. Then he lies back on the bench, putting his head on Bucky’s thigh. Bucky sets a hand on his chest and slides it down over his stomach, pausing to finger at the simple piercing in Steve’s navel through his shirt.

 

“Not helping,” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky runs his hand back up, touches his throat and half cups it for a second before lifting his hand to brush at his cheek. Then he pushes his fingers through Steve’s bangs and starts combing through his hair.

 

“Shh,” Bucky murmurs softly.

 

His hands switch, his right hand now stroking Steve’s hair and his left coming down to brush his knuckles over Steve’s cheek. At the tip of a finger passing the corner of his mouth, Steve half turns his head and parts his lips.

 

“Is that what you need?” Bucky asks. “You need something in your mouth, sweet thing?”

 

Steve opens his mouth. Bucky slips two fingers inside and Steve closes his lips over them, lax, and sucks lightly on them.

 

“There, now,” Bucky says. Then he bends and kisses Steve’s forehead, very gentle when normally his kisses are bruising. “Deep breaths, baby.”

 

Steve pushes at Bucky’s fingers with his tongue until he pulls them out and inhales through his mouth. Bucky continues to stroke his hair and Steve remembers that it needs washing again, but Bucky doesn’t seem to mind.

 

“Let’s talk about what you’re gonna do now you live with me,” Bucky says. “I gotta be in the office during the week, don’t think I want you home alone all the time. You wanna go back to school?”

 

Steve hadn’t thought about that. “Maybe,” he says.

 

“What was your favorite subject in high school?”

 

“Art,” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky kisses his forehead again. “I’ll get you art stuff, then. It’s the middle of the semester right now, so you got time before you gotta decide.”

 

“Need a GED anyway,” Steve says quietly.

 

“I’ll get you a tutor,” Bucky offers. “So you ain’t overwhelmed.”

 

“Thank you,” Steve mutters. Bucky kisses his forehead a third time.

 

“What kinda art? Painting, drawing, what?”

 

“Bit of everything,” Steve says. “Not sculpting. Never did that.”

 

“You can try it out if you want.”

 

Steve shrugs. He feels sleepy now, with Bucky’s soft voice and his hand brushing through his hair. So he sits up a little, leaning against Bucky’s side instead of his thigh, and Bucky keeps petting his hair.

 

“I got an idea,” Bucky says. “I gotta go to the office tomorrow, so you go and buy yourself all the art stuff you could possibly want.”

 

Steve raises his eyebrows. “I haven’t drawn anything in years,” he says dumbly.

 

“No time like the present,” Bucky offers. “Take a friend with you, hell, go clean out Fifth Avenue while you’re out.”

 

He and Darcy hadn’t had a day out just to hang out in a while. She’d be delighted to know he was getting back into art.

 

“That would be fun,” Steve says.

 

“And you’re taking Luke with you,” Bucky adds. Steve snorts. “I trust him, doll, and you know him so he doesn’t bug you, right?”

 

“Luke’s cool,” Steve agrees. Bucky kisses the top of his head. “Where did you go to school?”

 

“Didn’t,” Bucky answers. “Let’s talk about you, ‘kay?”

 

Steve huffs, but he lets it go. There will be plenty of time to learn every nook and cranny of Bucky’s past and present with their future. He was curious by nature, but patient as well. This is a waiting game still; he’s been pinned, but the wolf’s teeth have yet to sink into his throat.

 

Metaphorically. Even though Steve is determined to see himself staying where he belongs under James Barnes’ shadow for the rest of his life, he’s not reckless enough to consider ever asking Bucky to bond him. Bonds are meant to be permanent, and reversing them is almost as physically painful as it is emotionally. That’s one thing he isn’t willing to risk to entice a wolf.

 

“How about goin’ to an art school?” Bucky suggests. “You could go to Julliard, doll.”

 

Steve scoffs. “I’m not good enough to go to Julliard, Buck.”

 

“Says you,” Bucky counters, “maybe you’re secretly the new Monet.”

 

Steve scoffs again, for Bucky to flick his ear and make him snort, half tickled by it. “You could be that good, Stevie.”

 

“Nobody’s that good,” Steve says. “Not even Monet. It’s luck that makes somebody a master.”

 

“Damn,” Bucky laughs, “that’s some deep shit there.”

 

“Or it’s money,” Steve mumbles.

 

“I got that,” Bucky says. “Money’ll make you the next Monet.”

 

Steve smiles a little, thinking that he’ll try if it would make Bucky happy, but he’s nowhere near the skill of Monet. He’s good, he knows, but not even money and luck could make him a master.

 

“Sit up,” Bucky tells him.

 

Steve swings his legs off the bench and sits up straight, fixing his posture as best he can with the light but unnatural crook to his spine.

 

He looks out the window, seeing that the car has slowed because Luke is pulling up to Luigi's. Steve’s seen the restaurant before, but never gone in.

 

Bucky runs a hand down his side. “Better?” he asks.

 

Steve nods a little. His blood is still hot thrumming through his veins, but he doesn’t look it anymore. Hunter gets out of the car and opens their door as a valet walks up.

 

Bucky gets out of the car, smooths out his jacket, then turns back and holds out a hand to Steve. Steve can see the valet’s confused expression as he takes Bucky’s hand; James Barnes’s reputation of being unattached, a manicured hand reaching out from the darkness of the Benz, but not a woman’s stiletto following it. He straightens up and Bucky tucks his hand into the crook of his elbow as Hunter shuts the door and Luke hands the keys to the valet.

 

Bucky doesn’t look around as they enter the restaurant. A maitre de looks up as they enter then bows to them.

 

“Mr. Barnes,” she says, “your usual table?”

 

“Yes,” Bucky answers shortly. Hunter and Luke stand just behind them as the maitre de bows again and disappears into the restaurant. Steve looks around, though Bucky stares with a bored expression at nothing. He can see crystal chandeliers and silver candelabras on every table, guests wearing clothes that look like they cost more than the car Steve borrows from Brass Fang.

 

The maitre de returns with another waiter, this one an older man with the air of patience and butler-like servitude that makes Steve assume he’s the head waiter.

 

“Mr. Barnes,” he greets, “if you would follow me.”

 

Bucky doesn’t greet him in return, simply starts walking. Steve has to lengthen his stride to keep up next to him. They are lead past the main dining room, where heads turn as they pass. Steve mimics Bucky’s bored-neutral expression and stares straight ahead. The head waiter leads them to a second dining room, where the center is filled with tables and the edges are given curtained off booths.

 

The head waiter stops at a corner booth and draws back the curtain before bowing yet again. Bucky takes Steve’s hand from his arm and leads him into slipping into the booth, then joins him. The waiter ties off the curtain as Luke and Hunter stand flanking the booth.

 

“My name is Pierre,” the waiter says to Steve, laying down menus that Steve hadn’t even seen him pick up, then looks to Bucky. “Shall I start you with a bottle of wine?”

 

“White or red, Steve?” Bucky asks, looking at the menu.

 

“White,” Steve says.

 

Pierre bows. “And what white would you prefer?”

 

Steve looks at Bucky, raising his eyebrows, but he’s examining the menu. Steve purses his lips a little, plotting, then props his chin on a fist and smiles sweetly at Pierre. He’s neither attractive nor unattractive, but Steve could flirt with a brick wall.

 

“I don’t know a lot about wines,” he says, fluttering his lashes once or twice; not too much, he’s not playing a bimbo here. “What would you recommend, Pierre?”

 

“Well, it depends on what you would wish to pair the wine with,” Pierre offers. “Mr. Barnes normally orders the veal parmesan, for example, and gets the Chianti to go with it. If you prefer white wines, I would recommend the Littorai Thieriot Chardonnay with perhaps the scampi?”

 

“I’m allergic to shellfish,” Steve says regretfully.

 

Bucky looks up, but Steve, as he’s determined to get a rise out of him, keeps his gaze on Pierre. “I didn’t know that,” Bucky says. 

 

“I didn’t tell you,” Steve answers, glancing briefly at him before focusing on Pierre again. Steve sees Bucky frowning from the corner of his eye and holds back a victorious smirk.

 

“Then perhaps a Müller Riesling with the tilapia piccata,” Pierre suggests.

 

Steve gives a considering hum. He tilts his head to the side, purses his lips just a little, then taps his chin. He sees Bucky’s frown increase in the corner of his eye, but keeps up the act.

 

“We’ll take the Riesling,” Bucky says, shutting his menu. “Thank you.”

 

Pierre bows, dismissed, and Bucky snaps his fingers. Luke shuts the curtain and Bucky turns to face Steve in the booth. Steve turns to face him in return, smiling sweetly.

 

“Alright,” Bucky says in a level but stern tone. “What was that?”

 

“I don’t know wines,” Steve says with a shrug.

 

Bucky scowls. “You were flirting.”

 

“Oh, was I?” Steve says with feigned innocence. “Aw, shoot, I didn’t mean to.”

 

“Shuddup,” Bucky growls, snatching him by the waist and yanking him flush against him. “You never do nothing by accident.”

 

“I never meant to flirt, honest,” Steve insists. He even flutters his lashes a few times.

 

Bucky scowls some more, then grabs the back of his neck and kisses him sharply. Steve shivers under his jealous attention.

 

“You’re mine,” Bucky murmurs against his lips. “Don’t forget it.”

 

“I’m not forgetting,” Steve answers. He grins, their lips still touching as their noses brush. “I’m just playing with you.”

 

“This is a game, is it?” Bucky asks.

 

“Yep,” Steve answers, popping the p and tilting his head back to smile with his lips parted and eyes on Bucky’s mouth. “And you just won.”

 

Bucky flicks an eyebrow up. Steve sweeps his tongue over his teeth, grins and pulls back. Bucky’s arm cinches down on his waist, however, and tugs him closer again.

 

“Is this the kind of game,” he starts in a low tone, “where you piss me off on purpose and I get to spank you after?”

 

Steve shivers and grins, as his heart skips a beat and his breath catches in his throat. “Isn’t that what I meant by winning?” he asks.

 

Bucky raises an eyebrow. He doesn’t smile, but that’s not his style anyway. His eyes take on the predatory gleam, and for all Steve’s teasing, he feels like he’s won.

 

“So you’re gonna spank me when we get home, right?” he prompts.

 

Bucky gives a considering hum. He brushes at Steve’s hair, which had fallen out of its upsweep from the petting in the car, then picks up his menu again.

 

“If you deserve it,” he says, and leaves it at that. Steve grins, smug.

 

The waiter returns with the wine. Steve is determined to deserve anything Bucky might want to give him, so he smiles and bats his lashes and leans forward when he talks, and their waiter looks mildly bemused while Bucky keeps clenching his jaw like he’s regretting practically giving Steve permission to flirt with the waiter. Steve is absolutely delighted with the turn of events. Bucky clearly has a jealous streak as wide as the Long Island Sound, which, again, Steve hadn’t even known he’d be into until it was happening.

 

When Pierre brings back the check and Bucky’s credit card at the end of the meal, Steve steals it for a brief second to put down a fifty dollar tip. Bucky looks at it, then at him and raises his eyebrows.

 

“I liked the service,” Steve says with a flick of his eyebrows.

 

Bucky works his jaw from side to side. He puts the receipt back and tucks away his card, then gets out of the booth on the other side and jerks his head at Luke and Hunter. Steve slides out and links his arm through Bucky’s, daydreaming already.

 

“Have a pleasant evening, Mr. Barnes,” the maitre de says as they leave. Bucky doesn’t even answer her.

 

The valet brings up the car, but Bucky doesn’t let Steve get in just yet. Hunter checks the back seat and the trunk while Luke looks over the engine and then the front seat. Steve files the information away to think about later; he’s back to fixating on the Benz’s tinted windows and Beyoncé’s Partition.

 

Hunter nods to Bucky and Luke turns the ignition. Bucky puts a hand on the small of his back and lightly pushes Steve towards the car. He gets in, sliding to the middle, and Bucky folds himself into the car next to him for Hunter to shut the door. Bucky doesn’t look at Steve. His jaw is tight and gaze focused on the partition. Steve hears Hunter’s door shut and feels the car begin to move, then Bucky grabs his wrist and tugs him in. Steve throws a leg over his lap and smiles innocently down at him.

 

“Yes, sir?” Steve asks with glee.

 

“You’re a brat,” Bucky answers. “You’re gonna have to make it up to me if you want to come tonight.”

 

“Aw,” Steve says with an exaggerated pout. “I’m sorry, Daddy.”

 

Bucky shuts his eyes and shakes his head, then he loosens and laughs. “You’re a real piece of work, Rogers,” he says with a chuckle.

 

“I’m your real piece of work, Daddy,” Steve says, making Bucky groan. “Aw, Daddy, don’t be mad at me.”

 

“Alright, alright,” Bucky grumbles, “you earned it.”

 

Steve grins. “I earned what?” he prompts.

 

“I’m thinking…” Bucky starts out, then reaches up and fists a hand in his hair. “Five spanks.”

 

“Just five?” Steve says, crooking a brow. “C’mon, Buck, you don’t gotta use kid gloves.”

 

Bucky simply raised both eyebrows at him in return. “I wasn’t intending to,” he says, and Steve finds his mouth going dry.

 

Bucky brushes through Steve’s hair once, then grips it again hard, forcing his head back. Steve swallows with difficulty, and Bucky nuzzles his neck. Bucky begins to mouth lazy kisses down his neck, and it would be generous to call it kissing, but Steve’s blood is still thrumming hot in his veins. He swallows with difficulty, feeling his throat dry, too. Bucky grips his hair, just tight enough to keep it taut but not hard enough to be painful, to keep his head pulled back.

 

Obviously, Steve bares his throat to Bucky often and is perfectly comfortable with it. But Bucky has never forced him to expose his throat to him before, and Steve’s reaction to it is greater than he would have expected. Bucky is just barely kissing him, but Steve has gone from the light thrum of anticipation to full arousal the second Bucky pulled back his head.

 

He’s way too into this. He’s supposed to be seducing James Barnes, not the other way around.

 

Bucky’s open lips lift to his ear; he nips at the cartilage before kissing it and Steve inhales sharply. “We’ll start with five,” he murmurs. His voice, God, his voice is low so that his words catch in his throat and cause vibrations that Steve can feel where he’s pressed to Bucky’s front and, God, Steve was supposed to be the one seducing him but he’s never felt more alive in his life than he does with James Barnes’s full attention on him. He licks his lips, then swallows again.

 

“We’ll start with five,” Bucky says a second time, and maybe he’s worried that Steve didn’t hear him because he grips his hair tighter and kisses his ear before biting it again and moving back down his neck. “And if you’re still not sorry for pissing off your sir, we’ll go from there.”

 

“I won’t be sorry,” Steve says with certainty.

 

Bucky clucks his tongue. “That’ll be a shame,” he says, “because you won’t get to come until you are.”

 

Steve sucks in another breath, feeling lightheaded because all his blood has succumbed to gravity and he rolls his hips against Bucky’s, then again because he can feel him getting hard and wants more of him. Bucky grabs his hips, though, and forces him to be still.

 

“Remember how I told you that little shits don’t get what they want?” Bucky says. Steve vaguely nods and Bucky smirks. “See, you’re learning.”

 

Bucky shoves him off his lap. Steve grabs his knees for balance, landing on the floor, and Bucky smirks while Steve gets his breath.

 

“What are your safe words?” he asks. Steve swallows through his dry throat.

 

“Brooklyn to stop,” he answers from memory. “Jersey to slow down. Tap my hand three times if I can’t talk. One tap means yes, two taps mean no.”

 

“Very good,” Bucky says, as his hand goes to the snap of his slacks. “Here’s what’s going to happen.”

 

Steve licks his lips, watching Bucky unzip his fly. Bucky grabs Steve by the jaw and forces him to look up.

 

“You’re gonna keep my cock warm,” Bucky says. “And that’s it. When we get home, you’re going to go upstairs and get naked. But leave your panties on. You’re gonna get on the bed, on your knees facing the headboard, and you’re going to wait for me. Clear?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve says. He licks his lips compulsively.

 

Bucky releases his jaw. Steve leans forward, for Bucky to put a hand on his face and hold him back.

 

“If you try to suck me off,” Bucky adds, “you will not come at all tonight.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve says again with sincerity.

 

Bucky lets him go and Steve leans forward, letting his mouth fall open. Bucky brushes a hand through Steve' hair, just smirking down at him, then gets a firm grip on his hair and holds him in place. Steve looks up, wondering why he's holding him back, and sticks his tongue out for good measure. Bucky flashes him a predatory smile, then pulls down the waistband of his boxers.

 

“Look at you,” he murmurs, “you’re just gonna keep my cock warm and you’re drooling for it still.”

 

“‘M thirsty, sir,” Steve answers.

 

Bucky smirks. Steve sticks his tongue out again, farther, and Bucky grips it instead of guiding him forward.

 

“I should just keep you around all the time if you’re always so thirsty,” he says. “Stash you under my desk and let you drool until I’m feelin’ generous. What’d’you think, baby boy? I could buy you a leash if you’re gonna stick your tongue out like a fucking dog.”

 

Steve, since he can’t talk with Bucky holding his tongue, raises his hands to frame Bucky’s hips and taps them once.

 

Bucky grins and gives a light tug on his tongue, pulling him forward. Steve looks down and feels his mouth watering, either from holding his tongue out or want or both.

 

“I could collar you, doll,” Bucky murmurs, like it had only just occurred to him. “If you're only mine. You wanna be collared? Wear a little tag that says property of James Barnes?

 

Steve taps his hand once. Bucky grins wider.

 

“‘Course you do,” he says, tugging on his tongue again. “You’re my harlot.”

 

Fuck, Steve thinks, his harlot. He’s drooling all over Bucky’s hand; he whines and a drop falls and hits the bench between Bucky’s thighs. Bucky clucks his tongue.

 

“You’re makin’ a mess, doll,” he says. “Ain’t the kind I like, neither.”

 

Steve nudges his head forward, but Bucky keeps his grip firm on his tongue.

 

“Swallow,” he orders.

 

Steve tries to tug his tongue back into his mouth and Bucky pinches it. “Nope,” he says. “This is mine now.”

 

Steve closes his lips on his tongue, then swallows what he can. It’s difficult, and there’s still saliva pooled under his tongue, but he opens his mouth again and tries to press forward. Bucky doesn’t let him yet.

 

“Look at you,” Bucky says again. He lifts his thumb and touches it to the barbell in Steve's tongue; Steve stretches his tongue out as far as he can in response. “Getting your face all a mess," Bucky murmurs. "Certainly look like a dog, baby boy.”

 

Steve whines again, pressing forward into Bucky’s hand, and he laughs.

 

“Now you sound like one,” Bucky says. He tugs Steve forward by the tongue, until his forehead presses into the silk of his waistcoat and Steve strains to get lower. “Remember, bad dogs don’t get to play with their masters, Stevie. You’re only keeping my cock warm until we get home.”

 

Then he lets go of his tongue. Steve ducks his head, relaxes his throat and presses his forehead into Bucky’s waistcoat again. He hums, his voice all but cut off, breathing through his nose now. Bucky sweeps a hand through Steve's hair.

 

“There,” he says, sounding pleased and Steve smiles as much as he can with his mouth stretched open. “Let’s talk about that collar.”

 

Steve hums faintly. Bucky sweeps a hand through his hair and grips it again.

 

“Nah,” Bucky adds, “ I’m gonna talk about your collar. I don’t wanna feel you make a sound, got it?”

 

Steve taps his hand once. Bucky relaxes his grip, sweeping his fingers through Steve’s hair.

 

“It’s gonna say Property of James Barnes, ” he says. Steve gives his hand an enthusiastic tap. “You look good in blue, doll. I’m thinking somethin’ pastel, somethin’ matching your eyes, but with them spikes you like so damn much. What’d’you think?”

 

Bucky thumbs at his ear while he speaks. Steve taps his hand once again.

 

“Gonna make you my bitch,” Bucky tells him; Steve shivers. “You’re gonna be the best damn new kid on the art scene, world’s gonna be asking for your muse and you’re gonna tell ‘em all it’s your sir, won’t you?”

 

Steve taps his hand once. It’s taking all his resolve to not even move his tongue.

 

“Look at you,” Bucky says softly, “gonna look so damn good with a collar ‘round your throat, doll. I’ll get you a necklace to match so you can wear it in public.”

 

Steve taps his hand again. He’ll say yes to anything Bucky wants. He presses his forehead into Bucky’s waistcoat, adjusts his weight on his knees and the bench of the car. His mouth is dry in places, but his throat is starting to relax without his making it. Bucky continues to pet his hair and Steve’s eyes are falling shut; if he weren’t so turned on, he’d be falling asleep. He loves Bucky petting his hair.

 

“You can wear it all the time,” Bucky tells him. “I’ll get you a whole set, you can pick just which one’ll match your outfit, wear ‘em every day, everywhere.”

 

Steve taps his fingers lightly. Then the car goes over a pothole and Steve chokes. He grabs Bucky’s hips to hold onto him while he gets his breath back, but Bucky yanks on Steve's hair to pull him off.

 

“Breathe,” he orders. Steve swallows gathered saliva, then inhales obediently. “You’re allowed to pull off, Steve,” Bucky says in a stern tone.

 

“Sorry,” Steve mumbles. Bucky’s lips turn down in a frown. There are lines in his forehead that remind Steve of his age.

 

“How are your knees?” Bucky demands. “Do you need to get off the floor?”

 

Steve shakes his head. He’s held still by Bucky’s hand in his hair, but he’s breathed now and he wants to get back to keeping Bucky’s cock warm.

 

“You need something, you get it,” Bucky snaps. “If something hurts, and I mean it hurts bad, you give me a safe word. You don’t like something, say so. If you’re choking, pull off! Anything, Steve, fuck, you need a fucking drink of water, fucking say something!”

 

“Sorry,” Steve mutters again. Bucky sighs. He lifts his other hand and cups Steve’s cheek.

 

“Fucking Fang,” Bucky growls. He relaxes his grip on Steve’s hair and runs his fingers through it to soothe the fading sting on his scalp. “You better remember that, punk.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve answers, feeling a little ashamed and not wanting to dwell on it, so he licks his lips and flicks his gaze down. Bucky sighs, as if it’s so much trouble, but pulls him down. Steve settles his face back in Bucky’s lap, letting his throat go lax and shutting his eyes.

 

“Can you breathe?” Bucky asks sharply.

 

Steve taps his hand. He can breathe through his nose just fine. He’s had plenty of practice breathing through his nose with his mouth filled. He isn’t even taking Bucky all the way down anyway, just holding him in his mouth, so it’s not like his throat is blocked off. Bucky combs through his hair again.

 

“You know I’m serious ‘bout that,” Bucky says, and this time his voice is soft. “This dynamic puts me in charge, but you got the final say, alright?”

 

Steve taps his hand once. He knows that. He has power over Barnes and he knows it. He doesn’t want to lose it by not pleasing him is the issue. One wrong move and Barnes might lose interest, leaving Steve back to his shit apartment in his shady neighborhood with nothing but cheap food to eat and cheap heels paying his rent.

 

“You’re gonna kill me one of these days,” Bucky grumbles. He runs his fingers through Steve’s hair, a disarming contrast to the hot thrum of his blood, and Steve nearly breaks to suckle lightly at him, just to grasp the edge of the headspace he’s teetering on and jump into it. Bucky might think him naive, but Steve knows what subspace is, and now he knows how it feels and like James Barnes’s attention, it’s addictive. But he keeps his resolve, remembering Bucky’s threat if he broke the rules, and after the day he’s had, Steve does not want to be edged without a payoff.

 

“Fucking hell,” Bucky continues to complain. Steve flicks his gaze upward, unimpressed. “Seriously, Steve.”

 

Steve taps his hand twice. Bucky’s expression switches to confusion and he tightens his grip on Steve’s hair, as if to pull him off, and Steve presses closer to his body, refusing to be moved.

 

“What, you’re mad at me now?”

 

Steve taps his hand once.

 

Bucky lets out a short breath. Steve flicks him in retaliation.

 

“I see,” Bucky says. “Only you get to complain. I get it.”

 

Steve raises his eyebrows. Bucky rolls his eyes, sweeps through his hair once more. “You’re lucky you’re fucking precious,” he says.

 

Steve grins as best he can, then leans his forehead against Bucky’s stomach and relaxes between his thick thighs, sprawled to accommodate Steve as he kneels on the floor of the Benz. He’s doing Beyoncé proud, he thinks vaguely.

 

Some time later, Bucky grips his hair again. “Get off,” he says. Steve pulls back, pouting. Saliva trails past his lips to drop in a line down his chin, and Bucky looks down at him with unconcerned eyes. “Clean yourself up, slut,” he orders. “We’re nearly home.”

 

Steve stretches out his tongue and licks his chin clean, leaving his face shiny and debauched, he’s sure. Bucky clucks his tongue at him.

 

“You still look a mess,” he scolds. Bucky adjusts his grip on Steve’s hair to lean forward and kiss him, hard and harsh, and Steve’s glad for his knees bracketing him because his body goes limp and he has something to hold onto. Bucky pulls back, and Steve’s sure his face is twice as messy as before. “You look like you been suckin’ dick all day, sweet thing,” Bucky remarks, sounding proud.

 

Steve flashes him a grin. “Haven’t I?” he whispers. His voice is hoarse.

 

Bucky flicks an eyebrow up. Then he looks off to the side and picks up Steve’s discarded shirt from earlier, shakes it out and wipes Steve’s face off it, a little roughly. Steve flutters shut his eyes for a moment, pressing his hips into the bench just a little. Bucky grips his hair.

 

“None of that,” he snaps. “You don’t get nothing ‘til I’ve spanked your ass cherry red, slut.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve exhales.

 

“What do you say?” Bucky demands. “Don’t be ungrateful, now.”

 

“Thank you, sir,” Steve adds obediently. Bucky waves a hand, demanding he go on. “I’m so happy, sir,” Steve says. He swallows and licks his lips, struggling for words, even as Bucky looks down on him with expectant eyes. “Thank you for letting me keep warm your cock, sir,” he continues. “I’ll do it anytime you’ll let me, sir.”

 

“Better,” Bucky says.

 

“Thank you for telling me you’ll get me a collar,” Steve goes on. “And for offering to let me sit under your desk. I wanna keep your cock warm all the time, sir.”

 

“You’re welcome,” Bucky tells him with a smirk.

 

“Will you?” Steve asks.

 

“Will I what?” Bucky questions.

 

“Stash me under your desk,” Steve says. He licks his lips again, compulsively. “Let me drool for your cock all day.”

 

Bucky’s smirk grows. “Maybe,” he says.

 

“I would be so good for you,” Steve promises. “You could plug me up in the morning, take me out during your lunch break and plug me back up when you’re done with me. Keep your come in me all day ‘til we get home so it's not wasted, watch it leak out, sir.”

 

“Fuck,” Bucky whispers softly.

 

Steve leans closer, lifting up until their noses touch and his lashes brush his cheeks as he looks at Bucky’s mouth, then Bucky tightens his grip and pulls his head back to expose his throat. Steve swallows, maintaining eye contact, and he murmurs, “I wanna be your bitch, sir.”

 

Bucky’s lips curl into a smile.

 

Steve feels the transmission go into park, his knees on the floor of the Benz and all. He lifts up and kisses Bucky, half desperate and sincere in it, and Bucky grips the hairs on the back of his neck. Then pulls him back off.

 

“Get up,” Bucky says shortly. The front doors of the car open and shut and Steve lifts off the floor to settle onto the bench. His knees feel numb, and he realizes that his legs fell asleep while he was kneeling. He winces as they seize up and pins and needles set in. Bucky glances at Steve's legs, then their door opens.

 

Bucky gets out and Steve shuffles as best he can out of the car. Bucky holds out a hand, Steve takes it, but Bucky doesn’t tuck it into his elbow. He pulls Steve into his chest and bends his knees to lift him into his arms. Steve lets his legs hang on either side of Bucky’s hips gratefully, letting the blood and feeling return to them. Hunter shuts the car door behind them and Steve sees him give Luke a look. Luke shrugs as he takes out Steve’s bags, but Bucky’s walking away and Steve tucks his head into his neck. Whatever. He doesn’t care what Bucky’s suits think. He likes Bucky carrying him. Like he’s fucking precious.

 

Steve peeks out a few times, and they’re taking a back hallway to the central elevator rather than going through the lobby. He expects Luke and Hunter to turn back at the elevator, but they just get in behind Bucky and stand at ease while the operator, who had looked briefly startled to have someone enter behind him instead of in front, presses the button for the 95th floor. Steve puts his head back in Bucky’s neck as the elevator rises.

 

It stops. Steve looks up again, and Luke and Hunter both exit the elevator into Bucky’s penthouse, leaving Steve’s bags in the foyer but continuing into the apartment. Steve pulls back, frowning in confusion at Bucky, but Bucky just stands there in the elevator, waiting for something. Steve glances over his shoulder a few times, as a minute goes by, then two, then three, and almost five before Luke and Hunter appear again.

 

“Clear,” Luke tells Bucky, who finally exits the elevator. The doors shut on the two bodyguards and Bucky lowers Steve to the floor, shifting his hands to his elbows as if to hold him upright.

 

“As we discussed,” Bucky says.

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve answers. Then stands up on his toes to kiss Bucky’s cheek, before stealing away and darting up the stairs. Steve glances back once and Bucky’s touching his cheek.

 

In Bucky’s room, Steve unbuttons his shirt, folds it and puts it on the dresser. Then he takes out his earrings, walking over to put them on the nightstand. He sits down to unlace his shoes before putting them by the dresser and taking off his pants to fold them next to the shirt. That leaves him naked but for his panties, as he’d been instructed.

 

Steve crawls onto the bed on his knees, then leans forward until his resting on his forearms and waits. He can only hope Bucky won’t make him wait long.

 

The palm spreading over his ass startles him. Steve gasps, but pushes back into it, then wonders how the hell Bucky got in the room without him noticing?

 

“D’aw,” Bucky murmurs mockingly above him, “lookit’chu, like a bitch in heat, you are. Horny little slut, ain’tcha?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve whimpers.

 

Bucky presses both hands to Steve's ass now, warm palms over the cheap lace that slide over his hips and upper thighs to come back and squeeze his asscheeks. Steve presses into Bucky's hands, his mouth dry even as saliva pools around his gums.

 

“How many did I say I’d give you?” Bucky asks.

 

“Five, sir,” Steve mutters.

 

“And is that all you’re getting?”

 

“Dunno, sir,” Steve answers, then has to swallow spit to keep from drooling again. Fuck, Bucky hasn’t even started. “Said you’d start with five.”

 

“That’s right,” Bucky says.

 

The first one takes Steve by surprise. Bucky pulls his hand away as if to run it down his back and fist it in his hair, or at least that’s what Steve thought he was going to do, but instead brings it down hard right over the center of his left asscheek. Steve gasps again; but he barely has time to react before Bucky’s palming his ass again and squeezing it lightly.

 

“Count ‘em,” Bucky tells him in an almost bored tone.

 

“One,” Steve answers immediately. “I thought you’d –”

 

Bucky cuts him off by smacking his other cheek, harder than the first time and Steve’s whole body rocks with the recoil as he sucks in a breath. A hot numbness spreads over the point of the slap, which then turns into a sensitive stinging that, when Steve shifts his legs, catches on the lace of his panties and makes him hiss.

 

“Thought I’d what?” Bucky asks, quite calm compared to Steve, who’s already writhing despite the sting of lace on his skin.

 

“Make me strip,” Steve answers in a mutter. “Fuck, two.”

 

“I did,” Bucky says. Then he slides both palms down Steve's thighs, Bucky's thumbs curl inward and his fingers push under the hem of Steve’s panties. Steve sucks in another breath as they slide right back up, under his panties this time. Bucky's thumbs follow the inside of Steve's thighs up to his ass. The lace, previously smooth, is itchy on Steve’s blood-flushed skin and Bucky’s hands are hot.

 

“I told you to strip but leave the panties on,” Bucky says. He bends and presses a kiss to the small of Steve’s back, near the bend in his spine. “Now why would I wanna make you take these off right away?" he asks in a slightly mocking tone, like Steve is dumb for not knowing. "You look so fuckable in ‘em.”

 

Then – and Steve groans at it – Bucky hooks his thumbs into the crack of Steve's ass and spreads his cheeks. Bucky gives a low whistle, he spreads Steve’s ass until the seat of the panties slip past his cheeks to smack against his skin. Steve almost whimpers at the whistle, but feeling his panties snap makes him jerk.

 

“Oh, look, you’re gettin’ ‘em all wet,” Bucky says, as though he’s disappointed by it. “Damn, by the time I’m done, you’ll have ruined these.”

 

“Take ‘em off,” Steve mutters.

 

Bucky withdraws his hands and Steve tenses, waiting for the slap, but Bucky just smooths out the panties so they’re resting between his cheeks tautly.

 

“Nah,” he says. “I’ll just buy you more.”

 

Then he slaps him hard across the upper thigh and Steve definitely whimpers as he mumbles: “Three.”

 

“Remind me what your safe words are,” Bucky says.

 

“Brooklyn to stop, Jersey to slow,” Steve recites. “Three taps of my hand.”

 

He hardly gets out the last word when Bucky slaps him hard across the ass. Steve makes a choked noise, half a gasp and half a moan, and tacks on a high-pitched: “Four!” to the end of his sentence.

 

“Already?” Bucky says, kneading at his ass now. “I feel like you can take more than five. Let’s try ten.”

 

Steve whimpers again. He presses back into Bucky’s hands, despite the itch of the lace. It’s rubbing up against his hole, and lace soaked in slick is a highly different sensation to dry lace. He rocks his hips back again, feeling friction against him and groaning on it.

 

“That’s it,” Bucky encourages softly, “just take it.”

 

He slaps Steve hard across the thigh again, then catches him by surprise by following it with an immediate pinch and Steve groans out: “Five,” while Bucky’s nails bite into his flesh.

 

“You should see yourself,” Bucky says conversationally as he smacks Steve across both cheeks this time. “Ass all red next to your lovely blue panties, gettin’ ‘em all wet with your greedy hole, sticking your ass in the air and just begging for more. I should take a picture, make you draw it so you know what you look like when you’re desperate.”

 

“Fuck, six, fuck –”

 

“What do you want, baby?” Bucky asks him before slapping him once again on a thigh, spreading a buzzing pain throughout Steve's skin to join the hot numbness on his ass. “Maybe if you beg pretty enough," Bucky adds, "I’ll make you hold your legs open and paint that greedy hole up, really ruin these panties.”

 

“Seven, sir; please, fuck me," Steve begs, "please fuck me, sir –”

 

“Oh, you want me to fuck you?” Bucky laughs.

 

His palms retract and Steve braces for the eighth hit, only for Bucky's hands to return softly, lightly caressing Steve's ass over his panties. Steve’s knees slip farther apart as he shifts, rocking back on the panties as they’re the only friction he’s getting.

 

“Y’know, I think I got some idea of how much you want that," Bucky comments. "You’re drooling again, doll.”

 

Steve licks his lips, and there’s spit on them, indeed. He doesn’t have time to answer before Bucky’s palm is landing hard in the center of his left asscheek and then the right in quick succession.

 

“Eight, nine!” Steve gasps out. “Fuck, fuck –”

 

“You sorry yet you pissed me off?” Bucky asks, kneading the flesh that he’d just slapped hard enough Steve felt it in his teeth. “Don’t think I don’t see you tryna fuck these panties, doll. You’re not gonna come ‘til you’re sorry.”

 

Steve presses his ass back into Bucky’s hands. “You’re gon’ make me come anyway,” he mumbles, “‘cause you like the faces I make.”

 

Bucky’s fingers abruptly bite into his skin, sharp spikes of sensation where the hot stinging numbness of his palms’ strikes had spread over Steve’s entire lower body and Steve lets out a choked noise, half of a moan and half of a whimper.

 

“I’ll do what I like with you,” Bucky snaps. “You belong to me.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve sighs quickly in answer.

 

“Say it,” Bucky demands. His fingers massage Steve’s ass, a gentle caress one second and digging in with his nails the next. “Say who you belong to, slut.”

 

“You, sir!” Steve answers immediately. “Always you, sir, never nobody else," he says, beginning to babble, "never nobody else I ever wanted to belong to sir, never wanted to be owned like this by anybody but you, sir –”

 

“Damn right,” Bucky growls. “How many did I say I’d give you?”

 

“Ten, sir,” Steve answers. He presses his ass into Bucky’s hands, drooling for that tenth hit, for the sharp thud followed but the buzzing numbness, and maybe after Bucky will shove a finger or four up his ass and stretch him out fast and rough and then fuck into him faster and rougher so he won’t be able to walk straight in the morning –

 

“I think you deserve fifteen for your smart mouth,” Bucky says.

 

Steve whimpers.

 

“And maybe after this, I’ll stuff up your ungrateful ass and leave you to ruin these panties,” Bucky tells him in a calm tone, then just tuts when Steve lets out a distressed whine. “What, if you’re just gonna flirt with everything on legs, you should be happy with a dildo to keep you company for the night, right?”

 

“No, no, sir,” Steve says hastily, pressing his whole body backwards into Bucky’s hands, “please, sir, please, wanna feel you, wanna be good for you, sir, please, I don’t need to come, I just need you to fuck me –”

 

Bucky’s palm lands hard on his ass and Steve breaks off to howl; he hits dead center of every other strike he’s landed on his ass and hits twice as hard as any other blow and Steve’s gasping mostly out of the shock. His ass feels like it’s on fire, every square inch of skin alive with a hot buzzing pain.

 

“That’s right,” Bucky says. Steve didn’t feel Bucky moving closer, but his voice is right in his ear and Steve shivers out of reflex. “You don’t need anything but to make me happy. That’s all you live for, isn’t it, Stevie?" Bucky asks in a soft murmur. "You’re just here for me to fuck you whenever I want, because you’re mine, aren’t you?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve whimpers. “Yessir, all yours, yours to fuck all the time, any time, yours, sir –”

 

“This is my ass,” Bucky croons in his ear, hands squeezing his stinging cheeks and Steve can feel slick dripping down his thighs. “Mine to make a mess of and to make you clean up. Your whole damn body belongs to me, Stevie. And that means your orgasms are mine, aren’t they? They’re mine for me to decide whether you deserve them or not, and right now, I don’t think you deserve one.”

 

“Don’t need one,” Steve mumbles, and it would surprise him if he were in his right mind, but he couldn’t care less about coming right now. “All I need is you in me, sir.”

 

“Is that so?” Bucky asks quietly. Steve feels him pull back and rub at his ass again and he doesn’t even brace himself for the next hit. “How many is that, slut?”

 

“Ten, sir,” he answers, his voice breathy and whiny.

 

“Are you sure? I think that was only nine.”

 

Then Bucky spanks Steve again, twice on each cheek in rapid succession, and Steve spits out a: “Twelve, twelve, sir,” between groans.

 

“No, I think that was only eleven,” Bucky says, then catches the fold of flesh where his ass meets his thigh and pinches; Steve sucks in a sharp, short breath. “They don’t count if you don’t count ‘em, baby boy.”

 

“Eleven,” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky rubs his palm over his stinging flesh and Steve imagines him grinning down on his red ass with the look of a hungry wolf about to feast.

 

“See,” Bucky prompts, “you’re learning.”

 

His palm strikes hard against the lower crest of Steve’s ass and Steve initially gasps before moaning, exhaling a wrecked: “Twelve.”

 

“You don’t need to come,” Bucky says, then spanks Steve across the other cheek. “You just need me to come. You don’t even need me to come in you, you just need my dick in you long enough to get you real wet and that’s it. Anything more, you’ve got to earn it.”

 

“Thirteen,” Steve mumbles when he’s finished.

 

“Do you think you’ve earned my cock?” Bucky asks him, though Steve is sure his response will mean nothing.

 

“Yessir,” he says, because he wants it so bad. “Wanna feel you come in me, sir, I don’t need you to prep me, I don’t need anything but to make you come, sir, please –”

 

“Doll,” Bucky cuts him off sternly, it’s startling how much like a scolding he can make the word doll sound, “‘course you need prep. Look at you, your little hole’s all tight from gettin’ spanked, you can’t take my cock with no prep, baby.”

 

“Please, I can –”

 

Bucky spanks him again and Steve cries out, jolting forward and then back. “Fourteen! Please, sir, please fuck me!”

 

“You sorry you turned your eyes on another man, baby?” Bucky growls. “You sorry you forgot who you belong to?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve pants out, “I belong to you, only to you, never nobody else, please, sir!”

 

Bucky’s palm hits his ass one last time and Steve nearly yells out: “Fifteen! Fifteen, sir!”

 

“There,” Bucky says, and his voice is drastically quiet compared to Steve openly panting. “You paid for your poor manners. Now you’re gonna make it up to me.”

 

Steve feels Bucky's fingers close on the hem of his panties and yank down finally. Steve makes a high-pitched keening sound, pressing back into Bucky's hands and letting his mouth fall open; he adjusts his arms and props up his forehead on them. He feels saliva on his lip drip and splash on the blanket.

 

“Come on now, don’t be ungrateful,” Bucky says. “What do you say?”

 

Steve’s whole body trembles, but it's a good strain. “Thank you, sir,” he says with difficulty. “Thank you for spanking me, sir.”

 

“Good boy,” Bucky says in a low purr.

 

Bucky’s hands splay on Steve's lower back, shift down and slide down his legs. Then he grabs Steve by the ankles and yanks his legs out from under him, making him hit the bed and Steve lets out a sharp gasp.

 

“You’ve made these poor things such a mess,” Bucky tuts as he plucks at the hem of the panties. The waistband now rests just under Steve's ass, but it still covers him in the front and Steve can feel the itch of the dry lace next to the hot friction of damp lace and it’s driving him crazy. “You might as well leave ‘em on, baby boy.”

 

“Whatever you want, sir,” Steve mumbles.

 

“Whatever I want is right,” Bucky murmurs.

 

Bucky spreads his hands over Steve's back again, then a finger trails down his spine; slow, the rough pad drawing out a long shiver as it goes down his back. Steve half lifts his hips back off the bed but Bucky catches him with his other hand and holds Steve still.

 

“You’ll get three of my fingers,” Bucky tells Steve. The finger slips between Steve's cheeks, is met by another and Steve whimpers as Bucky casually spreads his asscheeks apart. “No more, no less. Got it?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve answers.

 

Bucky grabs Steve by the waist, then flips him abruptly and Steve finds himself staring up into Bucky's eyes. His ass burns on the cool satin of the duvet, but the fabric sucks the heat out of the rest of him. His heart does a jumpkick in his chest and Bucky grabs him by the jaw, holding him in place even though Steve would never dare move. His heart is still doing the kick.

 

“And if you try tellin’ me you don’t need prep like that again, you won’t get nothing more than my fingers,” Bucky snaps. “Hear?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve says. “Sir…”

 

“What?” Bucky says. He squeezes Steve by the jaw, pushing his lips together and Steve lifts his chin to let him. “You got something to say, say it,” Bucky orders.

 

Steve licks his lips. Bucky looks at his mouth, his eyes hungry.

 

“Wanna feel it tomorrow,” Steve mumbles.

 

“Is that so?” Bucky murmurs. With his other hand, he grabs one of Steve’s calves and brings it up to throw over his shoulder, then runs his palm down the back of Steve's thigh and Steve shivers. “Is that why you don’t want prep?" Bucky asks. "You want to walk with a hitch to your step tomorrow, doll?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve whimpers. His heart hasn’t stopped kicking; it’s a harsh bass beat, a dark and rhythmic song thudding so hard he feels it in his ears, it hurts it beats so loud. Bucky’s eyes are still harsh and hard looking down on him, but they’re constant and hungry, like Steve is all Bucky can see. Like Steve is all he wants to see. Steve’s heartbeat isn’t calming down anytime soon.

 

“You wanna walk lookin’ like the slut you are?” Bucky asks of Steve roughly. “You want everybody to know you let your sir fuck you fast and hard?”

 

“Yessir," Steve promises, "‘course, sir, please –”

 

“You’re not gonna be able to sit down with what I done to your ass,” Bucky growls.

 

“Please,” Steve begs.

 

Bucky bends and kisses him roughly, almost as rough as Steve’s hoping he’ll fuck him. “Put your hands above your head,” he says into Steve's mouth.

 

Steve raises his arms until they’re stretched out above his head and clasps his hands together. Bucky sits up then, leaving Steve’s knee thrown over his shoulder and loosens his tie. Fuck, Steve hadn’t even noticed, but he’s still fully clothed, pressed slacks and shirt now wrinkled, while Steve’s almost entirely naked with his ass hanging out of his ruined panties and that’s definitely making his blood rise more than it should. Bucky tugs off his tie, then reaches up and loops it around Steve's wrists. Steve licks his lips.

 

Bucky knots the tie loosely, such that Steve would probably be able to pull his wrists free with little effort, and he doesn’t tie him to anything but his own self. He checks the knot with a tug of his finger and sits back on his heels to look down at Steve with a half-stern disinterest to the way he’s scowling.

 

“You pull free of that, you don’t get to come,” Bucky tells him. “‘Less you follow it up with one of your words. Got it?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve says. He takes care to lie his arms above him in a careful manner. The knot isn’t even a full knot, barely a loop, Steve might accidentally pull it free just by squirming.

 

“What words am I talking about?” Bucky snaps.

 

“Safeword,” Steve answers immediately. “Brooklyn means stop, Jersey means slow down,” he adds without needing prompting.

 

Bucky gives a firm nod and puts his hands at Steve’s waist. “Now then,” Bucky says in a quiet tone – dangerously quiet, the same damn tone he used to warn Rumlow not to make him mad right before he capped the bastard between the eyes – and Bucky spreads his palms over the sides of Steve’s ass, gripping his hips with fingers tight enough to bruise the bruises. “You’re not gonna say a word unless I ask you a question," Bucky tells Steve. "If that’s a problem, speak up.”

 

“Wha’ do I say?” Steve answers, slurring almost. “Hey, I can’t stay shut up?”

 

“Say I need to talk, sir ,” Bucky instructs, then slaps Steve's hip lightly in a way that's more jarring than anything else, making the buzzing on his ass light up. “I expect you to tell me if you’re upset, whore.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve answers dutifully.

 

“Good boy,” Bucky says a second time, and slowly slides his hands up and down Steve's ribs as he speaks. “There’s a good little cumslut. Your pretty ass is all red next to these panties, though you dulled the color some gettin’ ‘em wet the way you are. I’ll have to get you some better quality lace, baby boy, this shit’s gonna burn when you put it back on.”

 

Steve opens his mouth to ask if Bucky’s really going to make him wear these by-now filthy panties again tonight, then snaps it shut when Bucky raises his eyebrows. He didn’t ask a question.

 

At Steve closing his mouth, Bucky slowly grins.

 

“There,” he coos in a mocking tone. “Now you’re listening. And you know I ain’t gonna ignore it when my little slut listens, right?”

 

Bucky’s hands sweeps over Steve’s hips, then dip inside his thighs. Steve throws his head back and bites hard on his lip to keep back a moan as Bucky’s fingers begin to probe.

 

“Hey, I said you couldn’t talk,” Bucky snaps. He pushes hard in with one finger, rough just like Steve wants and a whimper slips past Steve's lips. “There. Show me how much you’re desperate for this, baby. Moan, bitch.”

 

He crooks the finger and Steve moans just like he wants. Usually, it would be a rehearsed and faked sound, but Bucky’s finger stretches him so perfectly it burns like the numb flesh of his ass and hits a sensitive spot on the first try. Steve keens, taking panting breaths that leave his chest heaving. He’s so hot the buzzing numbness Bucky spanked into his ass is spreading all over his body. He’s back teetering on the edge of subspace like in the car, so close he can feel the buzzing hanging in the edges of his vision, putting Bucky and his predatory eyes the only thing in focus.

 

“That’s it,” Bucky encourages. “Make all the noise you want, baby boy, just don’t talk.”

 

Steve nods feverishly. Bucky smiles at him, something certainly wicked, filled with plots that Steve can only guess to, then forces a second finger into him. He jolts off the bed with a wretched sob, pressing the back of his head into the mattress as he arches his back and Bucky just laughs at him.

 

“Aw, did you like that, little slut?” Bucky coos. “You better, I ain’t just doin’ this for my health, y’know.”

 

“Yessir!” Steve gasps, knowing that Barnes wants answers.

 

“Eh, you seem like you’re not having fun yet,” Bucky tells him. “I’m starting to doubt if you really want me to fuck you, Stevie. Be a good whore, spread your legs for me.”

 

Steve throws the thigh not draped over Bucky’s shoulder off to the side immediately, whining softly as it’s all he can say to protest Bucky’s words.

 

“See, that’s better,” Bucky says. “That’s what you're best at, doll, opening your legs.”

 

A thought occurs to him, and Steve stretches out his fingers until his hands lie flat against each other.

 

The he taps them together once.

 

“Aw, what’s that meant to mean?” Bucky asks, tone back to mockingly cute like Steve is some sweet thing he’s enamored but ultimately bored with. “You tryna say yes without talking, doll?”

 

Steve claps once, and Bucky lets out a low chuckle.

 

“I guess I didn’t say you couldn’t use hand signals,” he muses. “So you agree, then? You’re best at opening your legs for your sir, and that’s all you’re good for?”

 

Steve claps once again, but moans as he does because Bucky crooks his fingers and a jolt of pleasure fills his gut. His fingers curl together and his hips lift and roll in reflex.

 

“Here’s an idea,” Bucky says, then his fingers still and Steve makes a sharp noise of protest, “do what whores do best and fuck yourself on my fingers, baby boy. Show me how much you want my cock.”

 

Steve, at first, whimpers because that will require effort on his part and he just wanted Bucky to stretch him open ruthlessly and then fuck him with even less mercy. Then, because he can’t stand the lack of stimulation, he rolls his hips on Bucky’s fingers. He lets out a long sound, shifts his hips again and starts up a steady rhtythm.

 

Bucky whistles softly and despite himself, Steve blushes down his neck and in his ears.

 

“What a sight,” Bucky sighs. “Desperate little slut, so hungry for cock he’ll fuck himself on two fingers. You want three, baby boy?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve says quickly, “please, sir!”

 

Bucky hums like he’s considering it and Steve whimpers as he’s fucking himself back and forth on just two of his fingers, while the stretch burns but doesn’t nearly satisfy. Three fingers is all he would get, Bucky had said, so once he's taken three fingers, he should get Bucky’s cock. Steve doesn’t want to put any more brain power into logic than he has to.

 

“Gonna have to work harder than that to get what you want, little whore,” Bucky tells him. “I ain’t convinced you really want it yet. Looks to me like you’re just fine with what you got, doll.”

 

Steve bites off a whine of no! and presses into Bucky’s hand harder, trying to get his fingers deeper. He half struggles for breath now, starting to roll his whole body into it.

 

“Come on, now, Steve,” Bucky says with mocking in his voice “you’re a slut for my cock, baby, don’t you want more?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve keens out, “please, please, sir, I need it, sir –”

 

“Did I ask if you needed it?” Bucky snaps.

 

Then Bucky presses his free palm to Steve’s throat and while before he was teetering on the edge of subspace, now Steve falls in headfirst.

 

His vision tunnels and all he can see is Bucky, eyes sharp and hungry and dilated, his lip curled in a cruel smirk, his hands relaxed where he’s touching Steve. Steve whines low, follows it with a hitched breath and tries arching his back off the bed to get Bucky’s fingers in deeper. He needs them deeper, needs them filling him, needs to feel Bucky surrounding him and enveloping him and owning him like no one ever has before, like Steve has never even wanted to feel before.

 

“There,” Bucky whispers, now grinning so his gold canine shines. Steve imagines he can see the ropes of spit connecting his fangs where he’s salivating in hunger, imagines he’s the feast laid out for Bucky to devour, and his vision tunnels just a little bit more so even Bucky’s dark eyes are blurry and all he can see is that one gold tooth.

 

“There you are,” Bucky says again with obvious glee, obvious enough that Steve can see it even now and he lets out a sound akin to a purr in response to it. “A complete and utter wreck, dirty little cumslut hungry for my cock.”

 

“Please, sir,” Steve whispers, forgetting that he’s not supposed to talk.

 

“You want my cock, baby boy?” Bucky asks. A third finger traces down the line of his ass and Steve makes a loud, high-pitched keening sound as he nods furiously, rolling his hips as if he can get that third finger to slip lower and push in just like that. Bucky’s still grinning, the wolf’s hunger making his gold tooth gleam as his ring finger slips lower and lower and Steve continues to pant in want and need.

 

His finger is tantalizingly close now, so close Steve can feel himself clenching in anticipation, and Bucky whistles again. “Look at you,” he says. “What a mess. Look at what you’ve done, Stevie, there’s no saving these panties now, you’ve ruined ‘em good an’ proper jus’ like I told you to. You’re a wet mess and I only got two fingers in you. Fuck, look at you.”

 

The fingers pressed to his throat squeeze and Steve forgets to breathe for a second. Bucky grins down at him, looming to fill Steve's whole vision.

 

“Here,” Bucky says sweetly and condescendingly, “maybe this’ll help.”

 

Steve gasps as Bucky shoves a third finger to join the rest and wrenches his hand so that all three fingers hit that sensitive spot deep in his body all at once. Steve lets out a choked-off gasp as pleasure zings up his spine. Their combined girth feel almost as thick, but they’re fingers, and Steve knows the difference.

 

“Sir!” he sobs out. “Please, sir, please!”

 

“Please what?” Bucky snarls.

 

“Fuck me,” Steve begs, “fuck me, sir, please, come in me, make me a mess, sir, make me wetter, ruin me, own me, sir –”

 

Bucky’s fingers yank free. Steve chokes on an inhale and sobs, straining to keep his arms locked above his head so he doesn’t break the weak knot of the tie, then Bucky's fingers squeeze on his throat and Steve stills, sucking in a new breath and schooling himself into patience.

 

“This what you want, slut?” Bucky growls.

 

Steve can only see his gleaming teeth, but the sound of a foil packet ripping open sends his heart beating to a new drumbeat that’s twice as fast and might have been worrying if he was in his right mind. Right now, Steve can only frantically nod and his chin hits Bucky’s hand every time he does.

 

“You want it so hard you can’t walk right for a week?” Bucky demands of Steve.

 

“Please, yes, yessir –” Steve starts.

 

“Beg me for it,” Bucky snaps, cutting Steve off. Steve feels an added weight between his spread legs that isn’t Bucky’s hand and he groans long and low, pressing back into it. “Beg, slut,” Bucky says again, harder this time and he squeezes his fingertips as he says it so Steve nearly chokes on a sob.

 

“Please, please,” Steve begs again, “please, I need it, sir, need you so bad.”

 

“You need me to own you, don’t you?” Bucky says.

 

“Yessir,” Steve chokes out. “Own me, sir, please!”

 

Bucky’s thumb pushes up under his jaw, making him tilt his head back and Steve loses sight of his gleaming gold tooth. His eyes strain to stay open, but he can’t focus on the ceiling. Bucky’s thumb retracts then and Steve jerks his gaze back to find Bucky’s teeth. They shine white, the only beacon of light in the periwinkle haze of a sunset in Manhattan. In that moment, Steve is convinced he's never seen anything more beautiful.

 

“You’re mine,” Bucky growls.

 

“Yours, sir,” Steve pants.

 

Bucky’s fingertips squeeze, not properly choking Steve, then Bucky's other hand grabs and holds tight to Steve's hip. Steve lets out another sob, straining to lift his hips up in search of the filling weight he wants.

 

“You belong to me, bitch,” Bucky says. His tone is dangerously quiet. “Understand?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve exhales.

 

The weight nudges against him and Steve breaks off in a moan. Bucky’s gold tooth flashes at him as he grins, then Steve’s eyes are rolling back in his head as his mouth falls open in a silent scream. Bucky could fuck him a thousand times and he’d never be used to how filling it felt.

 

“This is what you’re best at,” Bucky hisses in his ear. “Taking my cock, baby boy. This is what you were fucking born for.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve slurs. Bucky’s hand is still held over his throat, not pressing but still pinning him down. All he can see is Bucky’s teeth.

 

“This is what you wanted,” Bucky says, then he draws back and slams back against him and Steve chokes on another sob. “You’re gonna feel this in a week , little slut. You’re gonna wince sitting down and you’re gonna think about who you belong to.”

 

“Belong t’ you,” Steve gasps out. “ Ah , sir!”

 

“That’s right,” Bucky murmurs in his ear. He’s giving Steve just what he wanted; an unforgiving, mercilessly rough pace that Steve is definitely going to be feeling in a few days. “I own you. You belong to me and me only. This –” he grunts it out as he slams into Steve’s sweet spot and sparks dance in his vision “– ass –” he hits it again and the sparks grow into fireflies “– belongs –” a third time, and the fireflies are taking up the full edges of his vision like a reverse vignette “– to me!”

 

“Yessir!” Steve sobs. “Yessir, sir, please –”

 

“You’re gonna come saying yessir ,” Bucky growls. “You’re gonna come on my cock callin’ out for more like the slut you are, and you’re gonna keep takin’ it until I’m done with you whether you’ve come or not.”

 

“Yessir!”

 

“You’re mine to do with what I please!”

 

“Sir, yessir, please, sir!”

 

“There’s a good slut,” Bucky coos, and Steve is so far gone he can’t tell if he’s mocking or praising. “Such a good little cumdump, you’re my bitch to fuck and come on whenever I want, aren’t you?”

 

“Yessir!”

 

“Say it,” Bucky spits out. Steve’s vision is filled with the fireflies and Bucky’s bared teeth, all he can feel is the pleasure spiking in his gut every time Bucky slams into him or his hand on his throat, all he can hear is Bucky’s voice growling in his ear; all he knows is Bucky. “Tell me what you are.”

 

“I’m your bitch,” Steve gasps, “I’m your whore, I’m your harlot, sir, I’m yours, sir!”

 

“Mine,” Bucky growls. “Mine and mine alone.”

 

“Never wan’ned anybody else t’ own me, promise, sir, I promise!”

 

“That’s ‘cause you were made to be mine,” Bucky snaps. “You were made to take my cock. And you take it so well, baby boy, you take it so perfect, fucking hell, you were made for me to pop your cherry over and over and over again.”

 

“Yes, yes,” Steve sobs.

 

“You wanna come?” Bucky asks roughly. “You wanna come on your sir’s cock? Show me how much you want it?”

 

“Yessir –”

 

“You want me to paint that pretty hole of yours,” Bucky spits out, “add some white to this red and blue?”

 

“Yessir, please, sir!”

 

“What’re you gonna say when you come?” Bucky demands. Steve can’t see a damn thing but Bucky's teeth, the flash of a golden fang gleaming in the white grin. “Who're you gonna scream for?”

 

“You, sir,” Steve whines out, “please, please let me come, sir –”

 

“Come,” Bucky orders.

 

Sir! ” Steve cries out, just like he’d been told to. He hardly gets the word out, it’s cut out off by what’s practically a scream. The white of Bucky’s teeth fill Steve's vision totally and he loses track of all his other senses. All he can feel is Bucky’s hand at his throat.

 

Bucky’s hand at his throat brings Steve slowly back to awareness. Both of Bucky's hands are at Steve's throat now, gently stroking up and down with his thumbs like Bucky is following the current of air to and from Steve’s lungs.

 

“That’s it,” Bucky’s murmuring. “Look at you, you’re so fucking gorgeous.”

 

Steve is aware now that his eyes are closed and it’s why he can’t see. He’s also aware that they’re heavy and he doesn’t want to open them.

 

“You back with me yet, doll? You did so good; never came that hard in my life, sweet Omega.”

 

Steve smiles a little, purrs a little, too. He hears Bucky laugh and smiles a bit more.

 

“That’s it, sweetheart,” Bucky says softly. “You’re so fucking sweet, you know that, right? You’re gorgeous.”

 

“Said that already,” Steve mumbles. He raises a hand and reaches out, searching for something he’s not sure, and Bucky lifts one of his to catch it. Bucky raises it to his lips and kisses it and Steve smiles again vaguely.

 

“It’s true,” Bucky tells Steve. “It begs repeating.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve sighs and Bucky kisses his palm. Then, because he wants more praise, he mumbles, “I did good?”

 

“Fuck yeah,” Bucky says in answer, “you did so good, gorgeous. You took it so pretty, so pretty, sweetheart. Perfect, Stevie.”

 

Steve hums like a purr, melting into the pillows under Bucky’s praise. He loves it.

 

“Can you sit up a bit for me?”

 

Steve lifts his other arm to fold beside him, lifting onto his elbow because his abs are sore, then Bucky’s wrapping an arm around his back and Steve just collapses into it. Bucky lets out a huff, surprise or laughter Steve can’t tell, nor does he care, and Bucky then lowers Steve back onto what feels like pillows so he assumes that’s what they are. He drops his arms above his head and leans back into them, comfortably dead-tired as well as sore as shit, and smiles.

 

“Drink,” Bucky says.

 

A glass presses to his lips. Steve parts them and takes whatever liquid it is into his mouth, swallows and accepts another gulp. Belatedly, he realizes that it’s water. Bucky takes the glass away and kisses his cheek and Steve turns his head, seeking a kiss to the mouth. Bucky chuckles, and again Steve doesn’t know if it’s praise or mocking and again he doesn’t care as long as Bucky kisses him. He does, and Steve sighs into it.

 

“Legs up,” Bucky says, and Steve lifts his knees. He winces, feeling the sting of fabric on his still burning ass, then the tight pull of now-dried lace.

 

Bucky’s fingers close on the sides of the panties, though, and he finally tugs them off of Steve’s legs. Steve relaxes against the pillows again, until Bucky’s hands press to his thighs. They’re strangely warm, as well as moist. Steve half lifts his head.

 

“Aloe,” Bucky says, and Steve relaxes again. Bucky massages the aloe into his thighs, then his ass. With his legs lifted, Bucky is able to get to every part of Steve he’d spanked red earlier.

 

Steve, by now, has gained enough brain power to register that Bucky is putting aloe on him, but not bruise-relieving cream. The thought that Bucky is letting him bruise, and he most likely will, makes him smile yet again.

 

He’ll feel this more than a week from now. Bruises can take up to a month to heal on his body.

 

Bucky kisses the inside of his knee, then runs his hands up to stroke Steve’s ribs. “How are you feeling?” he asks gently. Much more gentle than earlier, at least.

 

“Good,” Steve mumbles. “Owned.”

 

Bucky drops a kiss onto his sternum. “Good,” he repeats. “You are owned.”

 

Steve nods vaguely, grins just as absently. Bucky kisses up Steve's sternum to his neck, then lightly nudges his nose against the line of his throat. Steve lets his head fall back, hoping Bucky will take it as an invitation.

 

He does. Bucky nuzzles into his neck, properly scent-marking him, and even his hands come up to drag over Steve’s ribs and stomach and chest.

 

“You’re mine,” Bucky murmurs into Steve's neck. “Remember that.”

 

Steve nods again. Bucky kisses just under Steve's ear and reaches up to brush at his hair. Steve melts into the pillows.

 

“You feeling hungry at all?” Bucky asks. Steve shakes his head. “Thirsty?” Bucky adds.

 

Steve shakes his head again. “Dirty,” he mumbles.

 

“You want a shower?”

 

Steve thinks about the sheets, how he’s probably covered in come and slick and the sheets didn’t do nothing to get all nasty like that. He pouts, though, because he doesn’t want to move.

 

“Yes or no?” Bucky asks.

 

“Both,” Steve mutters petulantly.

 

“Both?” Bucky repeats and laughs. “How is it both?”

 

“Don’t wanna move,” Steve says. “Feel kinda gross.”

 

“Easy answer,” Bucky laughs. His arms fold under Steve’s back and knees, and then Steve is being lifted into the air. “Don’t move.”

 

“Excellent idea,” Steve mumbles into Bucky’s neck. “My plan all along.”

 

Bucky chuckles and Steve smiles against the line of his throat. He nudges at Bucky with his nose, almost scent-marking him but too lazy and boneless to do it right.

 

When Bucky lowers him down, Steve expects the marble bench in the shower. When he opens his eyes, he’s lying in a shallow marble basin and it’s an entirely different bathroom.

 

“You’ve got two bathrooms?” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky is kneeling outside the basin, fiddling with the nobs at the other end. Now that Steve looks, the basin is a hot tub, and he’s lying in the shallow end. It’s not even a bathroom, it’s a spa.

 

“Holy shit,” Steve mumbles.

 

“We’re on the roof,” Bucky says, looking back to the knobs. “It’s heated, before you worry.”

 

Steve shrugs and lies back on the marble. There’s a step going down next to him, then another, and the deepest end looks like it would go up to his chest. He looks in the other direction, and sees a full swimming pool and what might be a greenhouse. Actually, looking around, the greenhouse covers all of the spa-like space, which must account for the warmth in the air.

 

“Fuck,” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky walks back over, then sits down next to Steve and pulls his head into his lap. Steve lets out a soft hum, noticing the sound of gushing water and not really caring. Bucky begins combing through his hair with gentle fingers.

 

“I’ll show you how to turn the tub on later,” Bucky says. “You can come up here any time you like, it’s part of my penthouse.”

 

“I’ve never had a pool,” Steve mumbles. He sees Bucky smile dryly. “Never even had an inflatable one. The Y had pools, then it got shut down.”

 

“I’ll restart it,” Bucky says, bending to kiss his forehead. Steve smiles.

 

“Philanthropist,” he says with difficulty.

 

“What?”

 

“You,” Steve mumbles tiredly. “Phil… Anthrop. Ist.”

 

Bucky snorts. “If you say so.”

 

“Omega’s always right,” Steve says, breaking halfway to yawn.

 

He can feel the approaching heat of the water now. He lets one hand fall to the side and it dips into the water, churning with what he expects is the pressure of the jets. It’s a hot tub, it must have jets.

 

“Wanna get in?” Bucky asks.

 

“Kinda dumbass question is that?” Steve mutters. “Duh.”

 

Bucky snorts again, then helps Steve to sit up and tugs him into his lap. There, Bucky stands up and carries Steve into the deep end of the hot tub before sitting down again, keeping him in his lap. Steve settles against his shoulder, warm and content and sleepy.

 

“You wanna talk about it?” Bucky murmurs.

 

“What?” Steve says, then yawns again.

 

“Scene,” Bucky answers. “Likes, dislikes?”

 

“Fucking excellent,” Steve says.

 

“I tied you up,” Bucky points out.

 

Steve snorts, then. “Hardly call it tying me up, didn’t even knot the tie.”

 

“Was it alright?” Bucky amends.

 

“Mhmm,” Steve mumbles. He'd loved it. “Liked… Control.”

 

“What, that I had it?”

 

Steve gives a nod and Bucky kisses his hair. “Got it,” he says. “You’re mine.”

 

Steve breaks into a smile and nods. “Yours,” he agrees vaguely. Bucky kisses his hair again. “Own me.”

 

“Damn right,” Bucky murmurs. “Mine to love on.”

 

Steve’s ears go hot, and it’s not the water. Bucky raises a hand to brush at his hair and the tip of his finger brushes the crest of Steve’s ear and he pauses to chuckle.

 

“Aw, Stevie, are you blushing?” Bucky coos. “Do you like me saying that you’re mine to adore?”

 

Steve ducks his head, grinning like a fool.

 

“You’re mine to have,” Bucky says. “Mine to have whenever I want and to please whenever I want. Don’t you forget it.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve mumbles into his neck.

 

Bucky kisses his hair, then adjusts Steve in his lap and kisses his bare shoulder. Steve lets out a happy hum as Bucky begins running his hands all over Steve's body, from his thighs to his ribs to his shoulders and back. Steve focuses on the smooth/rough contrast of Bucky's palms with his fingers, while the water slowly rises up to cover him. Bucky’s hands start to travel, not just petting his sides, to bring the water up over Steve's lap and inside his thighs. His fingers slip down the crack of his ass and Steve shivers.

 

“Shh,” Bucky coos in his ear. “Just water, sweetheart. Just getting you clean. That’s it, gorgeous.”

 

Steve shivers again anyway, the water’s hot but the hairs on his arms are rising. He stretches out his legs, unfolding them and leaning back on Bucky’s chest.

 

“What’chu doin’, doll?” Bucky chuckles.

 

“Nothin’,” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky chuckles, runs his hand up Steve’s thigh to cup his hip. “You’re not gettin’ nothing more than petting, baby boy. You’re all wore out just like I said you’d be. Look,” he adds, and his hands shifts back between his thighs, “your little dick’s not gonna come back to life now.”

 

Steve shudders and lets out a low whine, but lies pliant in Bucky’s embrace.

 

“Here,” Bucky coos in his ear, then kisses his neck and his fingers start to slowly move, “I can try to get you hard again but you’re gonna fall asleep any second now.”

 

“Hnng,” Steve says intelligently. Bucky laughs at him softly.

 

“No more tonight,” Bucky murmurs, kissing his ear, and his hands return to spooning water over Steve’s body. “It’s late.”

 

“Up all night,” Steve mumbles. Then thinks of something else and adds in a snort: “To get Bucky.”

 

Bucky half groans, half laughs, and pinches under Steve’s thigh and he yelps before giggling. “You’re not gonna be up all night,” Bucky tells him. “We’re gonna sleep after we’re all clean, got it?”

 

“Fine,” Steve sighs. Bucky’s probably right, anyway. Steve wouldn’t be able to get hard again so quick, he’d need at least an hour and even then it would be difficult to finish. Still, he’ll pout about it. He drops against Bucky’s shoulder, letting his head fall back and shuts his eyes. Bucky kisses the hollow of his throat.

 

“Relax,” he murmurs. His words vibrate down into Steve’s chest, bringing to life the something in the back of his head that just purrs. “Just do what I tell you.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve says quietly. Bucky pecks his throat once more, then tilts his temple against Steve’s forehead and just holds him for a while.

Chapter Text

drop before the fall

 

Bucky was right. Steve falls asleep like in the bath. He wakes next when Bucky lowers him into the bed and falls asleep again when he’s pulled flush against his firm chest and Bucky kisses his shoulder.

 

The next time Steve opens his eyes, there’s sunlight coming from one open curtain and the bed is cold. Steve tugs the blankets over his shoulder, then rolls over and buries his face in Bucky’s pillow. It’s stone cold and the Egyptian cotton has released almost all trace scent of Bucky it had collected during the night.

 

Steve sits up and rubs at his eyes, then swings the blankets off his legs and slips out of the bed. He doesn’t have pajamas on, but the faded Army shirt he’d been wearing the past few nights is on the dresser where his clothes from dinner had been. He pulls it on and since it falls halfway down his thighs, doesn’t bother looking for anything else. He pushes open the bedroom door and goes to Bucky’s office, expecting to see him sitting behind the mahogany desk with a cigar curling smoke hanging from his fingers.

 

The office is empty. Steve leans on the door a second, clenching his jaw while frustration and disappointment fight in his chest, then turns for the stairs and goes down them noisily.

 

The living room is empty. His bags sit in the foyer, the only figures beside the grand piano. Steve ducks into the kitchen and it’s empty. He stands in the sea of marble and gleaming steel for a second, looking around with an open mouth in disbelief.

 

Steve runs back up the stairs, snatches up his phone and checks it. Then he lets out a frustrated yell and throws it onto the bed.

 

Sir:

Left for work. Call me when you wake up.

[7:53a.m.]

 

Steve sucks in a trembling breath, then clutches to his temple and tries to inhale again without shuddering. He shakes his head, then flops onto the bed and picks up the phone again. It’s half past eleven. Steve glares at the time, then at Bucky’s text and his thumb hovers over the call button for a while.

 

He switches to Facetime. He dials Sir and waits for it to connect and ring.

 

A minute goes by, then – fucking finally – Bucky answers. He isn’t holding the phone, it’s clearly propped up on something and he’s typing on a computer.

 

“Morning,” he says.

 

“Why didn’t you wake me up before you left?” Steve demands.

 

“Tried,” Bucky says, still looking at the computer. Steve grits his teeth. “You told me to fuck off and let you sleep.”

 

“Asshole,” Steve grumbles.

 

Bucky barely glances at him, and Steve could strangle him if he were there. “Try harder next time!” he snaps at him.

 

Bucky turns away from the computer and frowns at Steve. “What’s the matter?” he asks.

 

Steve drops his chin into the blanket, glaring at the corner of the screen. “Nothin’,” he mumbles.

 

“Steve,” Bucky snaps. “Look at me.”

 

Steve glances up, then stubbornly looks at his thumb curled on the edge of his phone. He hears Bucky swear angrily under his breath and scowls at his thumb. “Don’t get mad at me,” Steve mutters. “I didn’t up and leave.”

 

“I’m not mad at you,” Bucky answers shortly. “We’re going to lunch.”

 

Steve flicks his gaze over, still scowling. “Don’t let me interrupt your work,” he says passive-aggressively. “You told me to call you.”

 

“Get dressed,” Bucky says anyway, snatching the phone and frowning at it, but not at Steve, like he had minimized the FaceTime window and was focusing on something else. “I’ll pick you up in half an hour.”

 

“Don’t you have work to do?” Steve retorts.

 

“Fuck, Steve, will you just listen to me!” Bucky snaps again. He gets up from his chair, grabbing his jacket and swinging it over his shoulder as he starts to walk and Steve whimpers just a little because he looks so damn good in a suit. “I’m coming to get you.”

 

“‘M fine,” Steve mutters.

 

“No, you’re fucking not,” Bucky growls. Steve ducks his head, hiding his face in the blanket with abrupt shame. “It’s subdrop, Stevie, alright, just get dressed and I’ll come get you.”

 

Steve sniffs into the blanket, then inhales again because if he breathes deep enough, he can smell sex and Bucky and it’s better than the tightness in his chest.

 

“Stay on the phone,” Bucky tells him.

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve mutters. He means to complain and snipe more, but it’s become automatic to answer anything Bucky says in that sharp, demanding tone with yes, sir.

 

“Your bags are in the foyer,” Bucky keeps talking, and the longer he talks, Steve does start to feel a bit better. “Wear something blue.”

 

Steve lifts his head from the blanket, props himself up on his elbows and pouts at the shaking image on his phone. Bucky’s not looking into it anymore, he’s holding it by his collar. Steve shakes his head, then pushes up off the bed and slips off it to leave the room again. He lets the phone hang by his side, knowing that if Bucky looks at it again, all he’ll see are Steve’s bare legs. He might even see up the long shirt Steve’s wearing. Steve angles the phone so he will.

 

But Bucky doesn’t say anything and Steve can’t know if he looked or not. In the foyer, Steve drops onto his ass on the marble and regrets it almost immediately; it’s fucking cold for one thing, for another, his ass feels like one giant bruise. He winces.

 

“What was the face for?” Bucky’s voice comes from his phone.

 

Sheepishly, Steve lifts it again to look into it and at Bucky’s frown. He opens his mouth but hesitates, then is struck dumb by the shy feeling. He’s shy. He hasn’t been shy about anything since he was 18 years old, and here he is, shy about how his ass is sore and bruised because his sir spanked him and fucked him without mercy last night.

 

Steve swallows.

 

“What?” Bucky demands.

 

Steve looks down at his bags, because somehow that’s easier than actually looking at Bucky.

 

“Steve!” Bucky barks.

 

“My ass hurts,” Steve snaps at him. “Alright, my ass is sore, happy?”

 

“There’s bruise cream in the bathroom,” Bucky answers.

 

Steve glares at his bags and drops the phone a little less gently than he really should onto the floor. He still doesn’t have a case for it. He doesn’t want bruise cream, he doesn’t want it to not hurt, he wants Bucky’s gun-grip calloused palms spreading over his ass and the heat of his hands soothing the ache.

 

“Steve, be careful with the phone,” Bucky’s voice comes sharply from beside him.

 

Steve makes a petulant face and starts digging through his bags. Wear something blue, Bucky had said. Steve grumbles under his breath about dumbass Alphas and tugs a pair of jeans and a blue sweater that actually belongs to Darcy from his bag. He gets out socks and underwear, figuring he’ll just wear his beat up Chucks once he finds them. He doesn’t know where Bucky is planning to take him to lunch and he doesn’t care. Then he stands up, pauses, and picks up the phone. Bucky meets his gaze and Steve looks away to set the phone on a pile of his clothes, propped up, and steps back.

 

He tugs the Army shirt, the only thing he’s wearing, over his head. He stands in plain view of the phone, but doesn’t look to see if Bucky is watching. Steve shakes out the boxers, then:

 

“Turn around,” Bucky says.

 

Steve stops, staring at the marble floor. His heart skips a beat in his chest and he shuffles in place to put his back to the phone.

 

“Good boy,” Bucky says, gentle, and Steve swallows despite his dry mouth. “Do you want the bruise cream? It’s just upstairs.”

 

“No,” Steve mutters.

 

“I didn’t hear that,” Bucky calls.

 

“No!” Steve repeats, louder, sharper.

 

“You sure?”

 

“Yes,” Steve snaps. He turns back around, bending to step into his boxers.

 

“Skip those,” Bucky says. Steve stops again. “Just the jeans.”

 

Steve inhales through his nose, swallows, then straightens up and tosses the boxers into his suitcase. He picks up the jeans instead. They hang loosely on his hips, the waist high on his stomach and they’re old, more cotton than denim, so they’re soft, and Steve wonders if Bucky could tell as he steps into them without any underwear. He wonders what Bucky’s agenda is here.

 

“Good,” Bucky offers gently, but Steve just rolls his eyes and snatches up his sweater. He tugs it over his head, grabs his phone and kicks his suitcase closed. Then he stalks over to the sofa and flops down onto it, wincing a little bit.

 

“Look at me,” Bucky orders, sounding somehow kind.

 

Steve rolls onto his front, holding the phone in front of him, and puts his face in his arms. He looks at the bottom corner of the phone.

 

“Go back upstairs,” Bucky says.

 

“Why?” Steve grumbles.

 

“Because I told you to,” Bucky says.

 

Steve shows him his middle finger, then drops the phone onto the carpet. He rolls over to face the couch, glaring at the leather.

 

“Steve,” Bucky’s voice reaches him.

 

“I’m going back upstairs,” Steve mutters.

 

“Go back upstairs and get back in bed,” Bucky tells him, kindly again. “Get back in my side of the bed.”

 

“Why?” Steve demands. He rolls over and peers over the edge of the sofa to glare at Bucky. “What good’ll that do?”

 

“It’s warm and it will smell like me,” Bucky explains slowly.

 

Steve glares at him for a while longer. Bucky has a point.

 

“Fine,” Steve snaps.

 

He grabs the phone and gets up from the couch, then stomps up the stairs and into Bucky’s bedroom. He bangs the door open so it hits the stop on the wall and bounces back behind him, strides up to the bed and flops down onto Bucky’s side of it. He curls up, instinctively pressing his face into Bucky’s pillow.

 

“Pull the blanket over you,” Bucky tells him.

 

Steve sits up to grab the hem of the sheets and duvet, then yanks them over his shoulders and flops back onto Bucky’s pillow. When he looks back at his phone, he notices that Bucky’s in a car.

 

“I’ll be there in twenty minutes,” Bucky says.

 

Steve blows out his breath and that’s all he does to respond. He shuts his eyes and curls his legs up toward his chest.

 

“We’re going to lunch and then we’re going to buy your collar,” Bucky tells Steve.

 

Steve jerks his eyes open and sits up.

 

“Lay down,” Bucky says quickly.

 

“What?” Steve says. He doesn’t lay down again.

 

“I’m going to buy you a collar,” Bucky says calmly. “And some chokers to wear out in public.”

 

Steve swallows, then rolls his tongue in his mouth to produce moisture and swallows again.

 

“There’s water on the nightstand,” Bucky says. “Drink it.”

 

Steve lowers the phone slowly, then turns and finds the glass of water on the night table. He picks it up and takes a long drink, draining it and putting it back down. He swallows spit again.

 

“Where do you want to go for lunch?” Bucky asks him.

 

“You’re seriously getting me a collar?” Steve mutters instead of answering him.

 

“Yeah, you wanted one,” Bucky says. Steve blinks, then shakes his head to clear it and lays down again, curling up to look into the phone. “Do you not want one?”

 

“I want one,” Steve mumbles quietly.

 

“Then you get one,” Bucky says, as if it’s as simple as that. Steve licks his lip, then bites it, looking more at the sheets than at his phone. “What’s worrying you?”

 

“Nothin’,” Steve says under his breath.

 

“Steve,” Bucky warns, “don’t lie to me.”

 

Steve shivers despite the blanket, burrows deeper into the warmth and faint scent of Bucky in the bed. “I don’t know,” he says instead of lying. He can’t look Bucky in the eye.

 

“How about those chokers, huh?” Bucky says gently. Steve shrugs a shoulder. “Your collar’s gonna say property of James Barnes, but how about I get you some chokers with just my initials on ‘em? How’s that sound?”

 

Steve nods absently.

 

“Steve, I need you to be honest with me,” Bucky says gently. “Do you want a collar or not?”

 

“I want it,” Steve says again, quiet again, then shrugs again. “I didn’t think you meant it.”

 

“Why wouldn’t I mean it?”

 

Steve just shrugs. “Dunno.”

 

Bucky sighs and Steve sees him raise a hand to rub his eyes.

 

“The chokers, I’ll have to get ‘em custom made,” Bucky continues anyway. Steve gives a vague nod. “But I can get you a collar today. I’m taking the day off, we’ll get your collar and spend the rest of the day at home, alright?”

 

Home. Steve buries himself deeper in the blankets, wondering when Bucky’s marble penthouse became home. Not just for him. He doesn’t think that Bucky really thought about the place he lived in as home before. It didn’t seem like it. Didn’t look like it. It was just a place to sleep. When did it become home for either of them?

 

“Movie marathon,” Bucky is saying. “Something with lots and lots of sequels. I’ll order pizza.”

 

“‘Kay,” Steve murmurs softly.

 

“Ten minutes, baby.”

 

Steve doesn’t respond. He puts the phone down on the mattress and hugs the blankets around his shoulders. He isn’t cold. He isn’t shivering or shaking or shocked. They smell like sex and Bucky.

 

“Hey, you like Star Trek or Star Wars better?”

 

“Lord of the Rings,” Steve answers faintly.

 

“Good answer, doll," Bucky praises. "Who’s your favorite character?”

 

“Aragorn,” Steve mutters.

 

“Not Boromir? Thought you were into scary motherfuckers.”

 

“Boromir’s brave,” Steve says. “Aragorn’s a good man.”

 

“I see.”

 

Steve picks up the phone again. “But Boromir’s prettier,” he says and Bucky smiles at him.

 

“They’d make a good pair,” Bucky offered. Steve nods vaguely again. “We’ll watch Lord of the Rings, honey. All of ‘em, extended version, and the Hobbit movies, too, if you want. And I’ll buy some ice cream or something.”

 

“Cheesecake,” Steve says immediately.

 

Bucky laughs and nods. “We’ll get anything you want,” he says. “I’ll be there soon, I promise.”

 

“You don’t have to take the day off for me,” Steve mumbles then. “I’m fine.”

 

“I call bullshit,” Bucky says simply. Steve rolls his eyes. “No, I call bullshit and it’s my fault, so, yeah, I have to do whatever’s necessary to take care of you. I shouldn’t have let you wake up alone. I’m sorry.”

 

Steve dropped his gaze back to the mattress again. “Whatever,” he mutters.

 

“I’m serious, Steve.”

 

“Whatever,” Steve repeats sharply.

 

“Steve.”

 

Steve lifts his face from the pillow, shuffles in the bed so he’s holding the phone over the pillow and can only look at Bucky with one eye.

 

“I’m serious,” Bucky insists. “I’m sorry I let you wake up alone. I knew better and I let work take priority over you. I’m sorry.”

 

Steve doesn’t answer at all this time. He shuts his eyes and hides his face from the phone camera, not wanting to look at Bucky anymore. He knows it’s not Bucky’s fucking fault if Steve feels shitty, but at the same time he wants to spit in Bucky’s face if you knew better, why did you do it?!

 

And still, he doesn’t want to risk the teeth at his throat turning angry instead of hungry. So he doesn’t answer.

 

“I’m sorry,” Bucky says yet again.

 

“I heard you,” Steve grumbles.

 

“I mean it,” Bucky says.

 

Steve wants to throw his phone across the room if it’ll make Bucky stop fucking apologizing. His thumb hovers over the end call button.

 

“I’ll be there in five minutes, Stevie,” Bucky says.

 

Steve drops the phone onto the pillow. He curls against the blankets, like the phone is Bucky’s body not just his voice.

 

“What do you want for lunch?” Bucky asks him.

 

“Nothing,” Steve mutters quietly. He doesn’t want to eat. He feels a bit nauseous.

 

“Nothing? C’mon, Steve, you gotta eat something.”

 

“No, I don’t,” Steve says under his breath.

 

Bucky goes silent. Darcy would probably flip if she had just heard him, and honestly, it should scare Steve how much he hates the idea of putting food in his mouth right now, but it doesn’t. He already feels shitty, what’s one more thing to add to the mess that is Steve Rogers?

 

“Steve?” Bucky asks gently.

 

“What?” Steve sighs out.

 

“Are you – Why don’t you want lunch?”

 

Steve, impulsively, picks up the phone and presses the end call button. He regrets it almost immediately, but shoves the phone onto the floor and rolls over to face the other side of the room. He hears it ringing. He hears it vibrating on the rug, he can almost feel the tremors it sends through the floor and into the bed. He ignores it.

 

Steve ignores the thoughts starting and stopping in his head. He pushes them away before they can get to more than one or two words. The phone stops ringing, then starts again. It starts and stops. Ringing to voicemail and ringing again. Steve ignores it.

 

The bedroom door bangs open. Steve jerks up, and Bucky drops onto the mattress without a greeting, grabbing him and hauling him up into his grip. Steve lets out an oof but Bucky squeezes him into his chest.

 

“Answer. Your. Fucking phone,” Bucky growls into his ear.

 

“Fuck off,” Steve grumbles.

 

Bucky falls onto his ass, pulling Steve and the blankets with him as he does. His arms are locked around Steve’s body, such that there would be no chance of Steve breaking free if he wanted to. Steve doesn’t want to. He starts out stiff, but slowly goes limp in Bucky's encompassing grip.

 

“Never hang up on me again,” Bucky hisses. “You hear me? Don’t you dare hang up on me like that, don’t you dare ignore me calling you. Understand?”

 

“Fine,” Steve snaps. “Whatever.”

 

“I’m fucking serious, Steve.”

 

“Fine!” Steve repeats sharply; he lashes out and pounds a fist into his chest, but Bucky only tightens his grip. “Don’t leave me alone like that again!” he spits.

 

He hadn’t meant to say that. It had slipped out. Steve hides his face in Bucky’s shirt, squeezing his eyes shut and berating himself silently.

 

“I’m sorry,” Bucky says again.

 

“Shut the fuck up,” Steve growls.

 

Bucky’s hands slip up Steve's sweater, gun-grip calluses press to his ribs. His hands search, or pet, or mark, Steve doesn’t know or care. He’ll find the unnatural crook in his spine. Bucky's fingers slip down Steve’s spine, curve and curve back with the bend. Steve inhales. He just inhales and exhales for a while. Bucky’s hands press all over his body.

 

“New rule,” Bucky says softly in his ear. “We eat breakfast together every day we can. And you never hang up on me. Deal?”

 

Steve wants to protest to eating but knows he shouldn’t. Now that Bucky’s there, it’s easier to lump all the blame on him for letting Steve wake up alone after falling asleep in subspace, it’s easier to blame whatever subdrop is and the bruises on his ass. But, dammit, wherever the blame lies, Steve’s gonna have to go back to see Dr. Madini.

 

Steve sucks a breath in, raises a hand and wipes at his nose. Bucky, going gentle again, kisses the top of his head and Steve squirms in his grip until his back is pressed to Bucky’s front.

 

Bucky’s palms splay over Steve's torso, one on his stomach and the other on his chest. He cradles Steve between his thighs, and cradle is the correct word; Steve abruptly finds his breath catching in his throat because Bucky is holding him like he’s precious to him and Steve doesn’t understand what’s happening. He isn’t precious. He’s no one special. He does not understand why Barnes would hold him like he is. He looks at their legs tangled together and his gaze slips to Bucky’s polished shoes.

 

“Get your shoes off our bed,” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky’s head tucks against Steve's temple, like he’s looking down at him. Steve stares at Bucky’s shoes. This is his bed, too, now. He doesn’t want Bucky’s shoes on it.

 

Bucky lifts his feet and toes off the shoes, then kicks them off their bed. It’s their bed. Steve has fallen into James Barnes’ bed and now it is his, too, whether it was his intention to think that way or not. This is where he belongs. Not just sitting in his shadow, but held, tucked in Barnes’s grip like a prized and treasured possession.

 

Steve looks now at Bucky’s socks, the way his toes are blunt and the middle one is longer than the first and the socks are a boring navy blue. He wonders how it got to this. He meant to wrap Barnes around his finger, and here he is wrapped in Bucky’s arms. He meant to insert himself in Barnes’s shadow, so he saw him every time he turned around and never got tired of seeing Steve bare his throat. He never meant for Bucky to worry that he doesn’t want to eat and leave work because he’s dropping from waking up alone after a scene. That’s dangerously close to something serious, the room for something more Steve implied that there could be, and this was just meant to be an opportunity, security.

 

This is dangerously close to legitimate care. To actual emotions. None of this resembles the realm of seduction Steve is used to and comfortable in. It’s a far different level on the hierarchy of needs and Steve finds himself catching his breath with the altitude. This is a slippery slope that can lead to falling in love, and it is much too soon for Steve to realize that.

 

“What foods are easier for you to eat?” Bucky asks quietly.

 

Steve stares at his toes. He never meant for Barnes to be concerned about making him comfortable.

 

“Stuff I can cut up small,” Steve mumbles. He never meant for Barnes to be concerned for him at all. “Nothing on bread. Pasta’s alright.”

 

“Okay,” Bucky murmurs. He kisses Steve’s cheek, with gentle affection that’s so far from the realm of lust Steve had meant to build the foundations of their symbiosis. “Does eating in public make it hard? Would you rather stay here?”

 

Steve shakes his head. Darcy once told him she couldn’t eat out for months, but being in restaurants didn’t bother him much as long as he could use a fork and knife to make the bites small. Eating alone was shit, when he could hear himself or others chewing, that made his stomach churn and his brain refused to let his jaw unclench, but restaurants were noisy, or there was always music playing, and that wasn’t so bad.

 

“Cheese is gross,” Steve mumbles. 

 

“No mac’n’cheese,” Bucky says. “I know just the place, alright?”

 

Steve gives a nod. Bucky kisses his cheek again, then shifts behind him to get up. Steve slips forward, then off the bed, and Bucky picks up his shoes again. Steve bends down to pick up his phone, then looks around the bedroom, looking at Bucky’s things and wondering at what point either of them began to think of this place as their home. The bedroom is sparse and undecorated. Steve realizes that he doesn’t know where his Chucks are. He took them off yesterday in the car, but he doesn’t think Bucky brought them in.

 

“Where’re my shoes?” Steve mumbles to Bucky.

 

“Which ones?” Bucky asks. He brushes out the creases in his suit, then takes Steve’s hand. Steve stares at their joined fingers for a minute.

 

“The ones I was wearing before dinner yesterday,” he says quietly.

 

“They’re still in the car,” Bucky tells him.

 

Steve nods. He’ll put on different ones.

 

“C’mon,” Bucky prompts, tugging on his hand. Steve follows him out of their bedroom. He looks at the walls and the empty corners, then glances once over his shoulder at their bedroom and thinks it’s hardly lived in yet. He has a string of lights that he put up over his bed for Christmas a few years ago and never took down.

 

“Can I put string lights on our headboard?” Steve asks.

 

“Sure,” Bucky answers easily.

 

Steve looks back at their hands, intertwined. His slots into Bucky’s palm perfectly. He hadn’t expected that.

 

They reach the foyer and Bucky pauses, then Steve remembers that he still needs shoes and lets go of Bucky’s hand to go digging through his bags. He finds a pair of slip-ons, knock-off Vans he bought at Wal-Mart years ago that hardly hold themselves together anymore, and tugs them on over his socks.

 

“We’re not going anywhere fancy, are we?” Steve asks gruffly, now giving a shit if he’ll stand out because he’s underdressed.

 

“Nah,” Bucky answers, stepping nearer. Steve looks up and Bucky takes his hand again. “Ma and Pop diner downtown. Ready?”

 

Steve nods. He’ll check with Dr. Madini’s office tomorrow, when Bucky’s back at work. He has to talk to her about more than his abrupt relapse into detesting eating again.

 

He’ll have to talk with her about this slippery slope. His palm sits perfectly in Bucky’s hand. That was never Steve’s intention.

 

In the elevator, Bucky gives the operator directions to take them to the ground floor and Steve stands there, frowning at their reflection rather than at their joined hands like he wants to. He wants to frown at them, he’s confused by the way they fit so easily, but he doesn’t want Bucky to let go.

 

Bucky squeezes his hand. Steve sucks in a breath, frowning at the polished brass doors. Bucky takes out his phone, and Steve blinks at their reflections. He takes a moment to look at himself; his hair needs washing, still.

 

And thinking of washing his hair, Steve thinks that Bucky would be willing to wash it for him. And he thinks about why it feels so wonderful to let Bucky wash or pet or brush his hair, when there’s nothing sexual about it. It doesn’t fit into Steve’s plan to seduce James Barnes until he can rest comfortably and seductive in his ease in Barnes’s shadow like he belongs there, when really it feels more like he belongs standing in the light with his hand held tenderly in Bucky’s.

 

When Bucky had mentioned buying him a collar, Steve thought he was just running his mouth off. Like the idea of taking Steve to work and keeping him under his desk to keep his cock warm, Steve assumed Bucky was all talk, looking to arouse them both, he hadn’t thought it was serious. But that he was, and the idea that Bucky wants to buy him a collar for sex and a collar for daily wear, one that isn’t so obviously sexual and is closer to a gift between lovers than sir and sub; that has blown Steve’s mind. He hadn’t dreamed Bucky might mean something like that. A necklace with his initials, Bucky may as well drape his old dog tags from the army over Steve’s neck and call him his boyfriend, not his bitch.

 

Steve isn’t used to casual human affection with no ulterior motive like this, and it scares him how much he wants it.

 

The elevator doors part. Bucky strides forward, putting his phone away and Steve follows just behind him, watching Bucky with a new fascination. What else that Steve didn’t plan for should he start to anticipate? What else should he brace himself for? Will Bucky insist Steve go back to school not because he’ll need a crutch to fall on when Bucky’s tired of him, but because he wants Steve to have a passion besides him? Will Bucky want to hear about his sessions with Dr. Madini, and actually listen to anything Steve is comfortable telling him? Will Bucky jump ahead of his plots and ask Steve to be truly his Omega before Steve can pseudo-shyly suggest marriage?

 

Will Bucky want to bond with him? No – and this scares him more –, will Steve find himself wishing for a bond?

 

The car is waiting. Bucky opens the door and looks to Steve, who crawls in first as always and sits in the middle while Bucky gets in beside him, shuts the door sharply and drapes an arm over Steve’s shoulders. Steve isn’t even sitting with an inviting posture, he’s hunched forward and his hands are shoved under his knees and he’s frowning at the floor, but Bucky throws an arm around him and draws him closer anyway.

 

“Adrianna’s,” Bucky tells the driver. Steve assumes it’s Luke, but doesn’t lift his gaze to find out.

 

The car pulls from the garage. Steve finds himself looking out the window, lost in a spiral of existential questions on the nature of love and the differences between it and lust, and Bucky never demands his attention. Bucky has never demanded his attention. Bucky has only ever taken what Steve has given him, and it’s then that Steve realizes that he unwittingly gave Bucky something more than lust the second he got upset with Bucky for working too much not because it distracted his attention from Steve, but because it was late and no one should ever work that much.

 

This is so much more than Steve planned for. And, sure, he’d admitted already that there was room for more than just lust between him and Bucky, but he meant a few years down the line; five, ten, no less! He meant a long time from right now, when Steve had only met Barnes hardly a month ago. He’s in over his head and it’s getting hard to breathe.

 

“Are you alright?” Bucky murmurs quietly in his ear.

 

“Sure,” Steve offers. No way he’s going to admit now that there’s room for more than just lust right now. This is one four-letter word he isn’t willing to use.

 

Bucky somehow manages to draw him nearer. His lips come to brush over the crest of Steve’s ear and he says in a soft voice: “You’re all spacey. What’s up?”

 

“Thinking,” Steve says.

 

“What about?”

 

Steve just shrugs. He can’t admit to Bucky that he’s rapidly and alarmingly falling for him or that it’s thrown his whole scheme out of whack or that he really loves Bucky holding his hand.

 

Bucky nudges him gently and Steve shrugs. He shuts his eyes, draws his legs up onto the bench and turns into Bucky’s side. He feigns tiredness and nuzzles his face against Bucky’s shoulder, exhaling deeply like it’s a content sigh when really he’s trying not to hyperventilate.

 

Barnes is, by no means, a fool. But Steve has been feigning all sorts of things from calm to honesty to orgasms since he was a kid and even if Bucky’s casual and non-sexual affection has slipped past Steve’s guard, it’s not enough to throw his acting skills out of order.

 

Besides, Bucky has barely known him three weeks. Even the best take time to learn tells. Steve feigns tiredness and Bucky kisses his hair, rubs his shoulder, and lets him.

 

“You’re alright,” Bucky murmurs into his hair. “You’re mine.”

 

Steve just nods, his jaw tight. He knows who he belongs to. He wanted this. It’s fucking terrifying.

 

“You’re mine,” Bucky repeats softly. “Mine to take care of, right, honey?”

 

Steve just nods. He wants this. It’s terrifying.

 

“Mine to lavish and praise,” Bucky says. Steve remembers asking for that. “Mine to ravish and adore.”

 

Ravish? Fine. But adore? It’s a word one uses for lovers, not harlots. It was intoxicating while Steve was floating on the high of subspace, but fucking terrifying now that he's sober.

 

“You’re beautiful,” Bucky tells him. “You’re gorgeous. I knew I had to make you mine the second I laid eyes on you, doll. You’re a spitfire, Stevie, the minute you talked back to me in that warehouse, knowin’ full well who I was and what I could do and not caring, baby, you had me hooked right there, right then.”

 

Fuck, Steve thinks vaguely. Bucky isn’t talking about lust.

 

“And, doll, when you sat on my lap like you did?” Bucky whispers. “When you sucked on my thumb like you was thirsting for my cock already, Stevie, you had me ready to throw you over my shoulder and just walk out with you.”

 

“I was just trying to piss off Rumlow,” Steve mutters.

 

Bucky laughs into his hair. “Even better,” he says. “Honey, your mouth is heaven half-assing the job.”

 

Steve curls a little tighter into Bucky’s side. Once, he was desperate to hear Bucky’s dripping chocolate voice calling him cockslut and now he’s anxious to hear Bucky murmuring honey into his hair.

 

“I knew I wanted you before I met you,” Bucky says. Steve’s breath catches in his throat, remembering Bucky casually saying I’ve heard of him. Where did Bucky hear of him, he wonders. When? Why him?

 

“I saw you on a street corner,” Bucky murmurs then. “You was having a screaming match with some skinhead and I knew I wanted you to be mine.”

 

“When?” Steve demands hoarsely. When! When did Barnes see him, and why did he want him?

 

Why would Barnes want him because he was fighting with someone? No one ever really wanted him, not the way Barnes is implying, and especially not after knowing how volatile his temper was. Men want his ass and his sharp collarbones, men want him because he’s new and different and a novelty fuck they can laugh about later in locker rooms, this isn’t why Barnes wants him? Why him?

 

“March,” Bucky says. Steve stuffs a fist in his mouth, trying to control his breathing. “Year ago.”

 

Steve yanks his fist free. “ 2016 March?” he repeats.

 

“Yeah,” Bucky admits, almost laughing as he kisses the top of his head again. “Took me a while to find you.”

 

This is so much more than what Steve had planned for and it’s equal parts thrilling and shocking. Steve presses his fist into his mouth so he can’t make noise. Bucky spent a whole year and more looking to find Steve because one glance at him standing on a street corner convinced him that Steve was worth not only his attention, but his affection, too.

 

Is he dreaming?

 

“I knew your reputation, but, doll, meeting you,” Bucky murmurs, either oblivious to Steve’s crisis or in spite of it, “you had me on lock, the second you refused to bow.”

 

Steve had thought perhaps it had been the way he dragged his tongue piercing over Barnes’s thumb or the way he relaxed on his lap or maybe even how he looked wearing his jacket; he had thought that it had been something he’d done on purpose, but it was his defiance to stand firm while everyone else cowered at James Barnes’ presence? His fucking stubbornness?

 

“How pretty you are with somethin’ in your mouth,” Bucky purrs, “that was the cherry on top, honey.”

 

“I don’t get you,” Steve admits.

 

“That’s okay,” Bucky says. “You’re still mine.”

 

“I don’t get it,” Steve insists. He sits up a little, but can’t bring himself to actually look at Bucky. “We – It’s been only a few weeks?”

 

“What’d’you mean?” Bucky prompts.

 

Steve stops, licking his lips while he thinks. He notices that the partition is closed, and at least that adds some privacy to the conversation.

 

“We’re doing things backwards,” he says quietly.

 

“Do you want to change how we do things?” Bucky suggests carefully.

 

“No!” Steve says hastily. He drops back against Bucky’s shoulder, shaking his head. “No, I like having sex with you too much.” He pauses to laugh a little, to flick his gaze up and see Bucky smiling at him. “But…”

 

“What?” Bucky asks.

 

Steve swallows. He shouldn’t say. It would only put him further down the dangerous slope.

 

“Nothing,” he murmurs.

 

“No, tell me,” Bucky says, and Steve sighs.

 

“I like you,” he mutters.

 

Bucky laughs, squeezing his shoulders. “Is that all?” he says, and Steve pretends to punch him in the ribs.

 

“I’m serious!” Steve confesses. “I’m – I actually like you and –”

 

He breaks off, looking down. Bucky smiles at him and tucks a hand under his jaw to lift his gaze back up.

 

“I like you, too, Stevie,” he says easily. Steve flushes and Bucky chuckles, he lets go of his jaw and reaches up to brush at his hair. “Kinda my point here.”

 

Steve makes a face at him. “I’m trying to be an adult here,” he says.

 

“Oh, okay,” Bucky laughs. “G’ahead, hon. Use your adulting skills on me.”

 

Steve punches him again, with only a little bit more force, and Bucky laughs. He grabs Steve’s hands with both of his and tugs him in to plant a kiss on his mouth.

 

“Fuck you,” Steve grumbles against his lips.

 

“Eh, if you really wanna try topping,” Bucky says with a shrug. Steve snorts and falls against his shoulder. “Look, I’m not makin’ small of you sayin’ you like me. I’m glad, Stevie, I just already knew. Wasn’t hard to tell, honey.”

 

Steve’s smile slips. This is the adult part of what he has to say, and it’s the dangerous thing that he really should keep to himself.

 

But something about Bucky has been dragging out the repressed parts of him that have been starved for love since his mother died, and she’d be rolling in her grave if she knew he was really taking advantage of a man falling for him like this. It’s worse than preying on a lonely man.

 

“I like you now,” Steve mumbles.

 

“Now?” Bucky repeats. He sounds confused.

 

“I like you now, ” Steve affirms. “But I wanted you to think that I was smitten earlier, even though I wasn’t.”

 

“Oh,” Bucky says. Steve can’t read his voice. “Like… how you knew I was lonely?”

 

Steve nods. “‘Cause I knew.”

 

“Alright,” Bucky murmurs. “So…”

 

“So I actually really like you, and I don’t know how to,” Steve says in a rushed confession. “And I know you said you wanted a real relationship with real communication and you wanted it to be with me – And at first I just wanted to make you want to keep me, but now –”

 

Steve breaks off a third time. Bucky’s hand slips under his sweater and curls around his hip.

 

“I don’t know how to be honest anymore,” Steve murmurs. “All I know is how to trick people.”

 

“So you’re saying you want to be honest with me?” Bucky asks gently.

 

“I do,” Steve mutters. “But… I don’t know how, and I’m afraid of it.”

 

“Of being honest?”

 

Bucky sounds confused. Steve shakes his head.

 

“Of being close,” he says. “To anyone. My best friend in the world is Darcy and she hardly knows anything about my past. The deepest secret I ever told her was that I dropped out of high school to work full time. I –” his voice speeds up, trying to get the words out faster before he can get wise and shut up “– I never even told anybody but my shrink about the foster system, but I didn’t even question telling you? Now you’ve wanted me for over a year and you want me for more than sex?”

 

Steve pauses, to inhale and swallow and look at his hands. Now he wants Bucky for more than sex. That’s why he feels like he can’t breathe. He’s falling in – He can’t even say it to himself. Bucky just waits for him to finish.

 

Steve shrugs slightly. “That’s what scares me.” He’s trying to be honest and he’s still only giving out partial truths. Love is the only four letter word he’s unwilling to say.

 

Bucky kisses his hair, and even though his affection is frightening in his head, Steve’s body relaxes for it.

 

“If I only wanted sex from you,” Bucky murmurs, “I would have stopped at that street corner and hired you over a year ago.”

 

Steve nods sharply. Of course. Of course Bucky always wanted what Steve didn’t know how to give. Of course Bucky wants it, and of course Steve wants to give it.

 

“I don’t know how to reciprocate that,” he says, because he doesn’t. “It’s been a long time since anyone has ever actually wanted me. In fact, I don’t think anyone ever has.”

 

“What about Darcy?” Bucky prompts. “You’re best friends, you know how to reciprocate that.”

 

Steve shakes his head. “That’s different.”

 

“Not that much,” Bucky says. Steve looks up, frowning. Bucky smiles at him and kisses his cheek, then squeezes his waist. “Hey, you hang out and have fun together. It’ll be the same with me, only I’ll randomly kiss you and fuck you.”

 

“I've had sex with Darcy,” Steve mutters. “But it was for a client.”

 

“Well, it'll only be a bit different then,” Bucky laughs.

 

Steve gives him as much of an honest smile as he can manage, because that’s not quite true and they know it. Sure, Steve knows he loves Darcy, he loves her easily and honestly like a sister, but there’s plenty of room for secrets and lies between siblings. Not between lovers. Secrets and lies are too much water in a concrete foundation, as between lovers the relationship is a home, and a weak foundation makes for a relationship that will just fall apart. Siblings and friends may be tied together, but lovers are bound.

 

There’s room for bonding between lovers. Darcy is perfectly aware that there are things she doesn’t know and never will about him, just like Steve is perfectly aware that there are things he doesn’t know about Darcy. Steve has already told Bucky his worst secret, and by happenstance and a guess, he knows Bucky’s darkest secret.

 

Hell, Bucky might have even admitted to a secret darker than just a past relationship; Steve doesn’t know if Aleksei Seyrbakov Junior was an Alpha or a Beta, but he certainly wasn’t an Omega.

 

“You’ll figure it out,” Bucky says simply. He picks up Steve’s left hand and laces their fingers together, and Steve looks at their intertwined hands with hesitance. “Hey, I don’t mind,” Bucky insists. “You’re still mine.”

 

Maybe Bucky doesn’t quite understand. Steve exhales slowly. He doesn’t even fully understand. But his plot to seduce and continue seducing James Barnes for the rest of his miserable existence on this unforgiving Earth has been flipped on its head. This isn’t a game of lust anymore. He doesn’t know how to manipulate someone into falling in love with him, nor is he willing to.

 

That leaves his future full of questions. Unfortunately, whether Steve still wants his future to be James Barnes is not one of the uncertainties. That’s what frightens him.

 

Because now that he doesn’t know how to guarantee it, now he could lose it.

 

Bucky kisses his hair. He can’t understand fully what Steve is thinking, what he has been thinking, but he keeps holding onto him and being affectionate in ways that aren’t based in lust and smiling at him like he’s just cute, and Steve falls back on old habits. He feigns tiredness and hides his face, and Bucky doesn’t understand enough about him to stop it.

 

“Still mine,” Bucky murmurs into his hair. “We got time to figure stuff out.”

 

The car shifts into park. Steve lifts his head, sucks in a deep breath and pushes his fingers through his hair roughly. It needs washing. He doesn’t quite get how Bucky can continually kiss and murmur into it when it’s nasty like this. The brass of the elevator doors discolored his reflection, but he expects he looks tired and pale.

 

Bucky’s arm curls around his waist and tugs him back into him, then he plants a loud kiss on his cheek.

 

“C’mon,” he says, letting go and opening his door while Steve touches his cheek. “Pablo and Adrianna have the best spaghetti bolognese this side of Manhattan.”

 

Steve slips out of the car behind him. Bucky takes his hand even though Steve doesn’t reach for him. The usual armed suits, Hunter and Luke, stand on the curb.

 

“Go on, then,” Bucky snaps at them.

 

Now that he isn't talking to Steve, he's sharp again. Steve steps closer to him and curls his other arm, still holding his hand, around Bucky’s elbow and leans his temple against his shoulder. Maybe he’s being melodramatic. Maybe he’s still acting immature, questioning the maybe of a future that maybe he doesn’t deserve. Maybe he needs to learn how to live in the now more.

 

Bucky briefly squeezes his hand. Hunter and Luke raise their neighboring fists, shake them three times, and Hunter makes scissors with his fingers while Luke lays his hand flat. Luke hisses in defeat while Hunter smirks, and Luke strides up to the restaurant. Steve sees Bucky roll his eyes.

 

“Morons,” he complains under his breath. Hunter continues to smile.

 

Luke sticks his head back out and gives them an okay sign. Steve absently wonders at what point in time and who decided that making an O with the thumb and forefinger and holding up the other three fingers became a symbol for okay.

 

“Come on then,” Bucky says.

 

Steve stays attached to his arm and Bucky doesn’t seem about to protest as they walk up to the restaurant and Hunter follows behind them. They don’t wait for a hostess, Bucky walks towards a corner booth in the back, the suits framing his path front and back and Steve hanging off his arm like he’s dizzy or drunk. Steve, clinging pitifully to his arm like he’s already afraid of losing him. Steve, probably looking like the molested street kid he really is. Steve, acting like a child as he holds onto his Alpha.

 

It’s strange to think, but that’s what’s happening. James Barnes is becoming his Alpha. No, Bucky Barnes is becoming his Alpha. There’s a difference, and Steve is definitely being melodramatic.

 

Bucky drops into the corner booth first, then pulls on Steve’s hand until he slips in beside him and proceeds to wrap his arm around his shoulders. Under his arm, Steve slouches, leaning against his shoulder. He feels fairly pathetic still and it’s easier to indulge in it and cling to Bucky. Clearly, his patheticness or clinginess doesn’t deter Bucky, as he only kisses Steve's nasty hair again.

 

Hunter and Luke sit in the booth as well, one on each end. A waitress walks up and puts four cups of coffee on the table, smiles briefly, and walks away. Steve takes one and hugs it to leech off its warmth.

 

He ends up watching the coffees while they wait for someone to bring them menus or take their orders, whatever they’re waiting for. Luke dumps cream but not sugar into his coffee. Hunter puts one pack of Sweet’N’Low in his, and then drinks it black. Bucky puts three creams and four sugars in his. Steve sips his coffee and deems it acceptable the way it is. It’s bitter and bland and tastes like the coffee he always got out of his coffee maker at home.

 

A heavyset woman with flyaway gray hair tied into a bun approaches the table. “Yasha!” she says happily, and Steve wonders if all Bucky’s work contacts call him something different. “You miss supper Sunday,” the woman says. “Where you have been?”

 

“Busy,” Bucky answers with a tight smile. "Sorry."

 

The woman stops in front of their table, then she seems to notice Steve hugging Bucky’s arm for the first time, because her mouth splits in a wide grin and she looks at Bucky with something that is clearly impressed in her eyes. Steve, had he not been feeling like a complete tool and pathetic on top of that, would have been pleased.

 

“Yasha, cine este aceasta?” she says. “Foarte frumos băiat. Sunteți împreună?”

 

“This is Steve,” Bucky says, and now Steve wishes he knew Russian, or whatever language the woman is now speaking, because it doesn’t sound quite like Russian. “And yes.”

 

The woman beams at Steve, and he, having forgotten what it was like when his mother smiled at him, shrinks a little bit from her maternal gaze.

 

“Hi,” he says quietly.

 

Bucky must notice that Steve is not a shy person, but that he is being shy now, and, bless him, says nothing of it. He squeezes Steve’s hand under the table and does nothing more than that.

 

“Hello,” the woman says, her voice remarkably kind. “I am very pleased to meet you, Steve.” She says his name with heavy emphasis on the V, so it comes out as Stee-vuh. “Yasha has never brought a love to meet us before.”

 

“Boyfriend,” Bucky corrects her English even while Steve feels his ears turn bright red.

 

“Boyfriend,” the woman repeats, nodding and smiling. Steve glances at Bucky out of the corner of his eye, because he thought Bucky didn’t have parents?

 

“Steve, this is Adrianna,” Bucky says to him. “She and her husband, Pablo, own this place. They helped me get into the Army.”

 

Like he says little for Steve’s shyness, Bucky says little else for Adrianna and Pablo, though Steve can only guess the closeness between them. Adrianna looks at Bucky like Steve thinks his own mother might have looked at him once, a long time ago before her weak immune system turned on her. It’s not hard to tell, at least.

 

“Yasha is like son,” Adrianna says proudly. “We are very proud.”

 

Steve just nods. Is she proud of the Seyrbakov family, or just Bucky? He wonders if she knows, but then, she must.

 

“Where is Pablo?” Bucky asks her.

 

“He is with Maria,” Adrianna says. Bucky gives an understanding nod. “She is doing much better.”

 

Adrianna then smiles and bows a little toward Bucky, a grateful gesture. “She sends her thanks that you paid hospital bill.”

 

“Hey, it’s no big deal,” Bucky answers. Steve, to himself, thinks that hospital bills are always a big deal. “How’s Sasha holding up?”

 

Adrianna’s gaze turns scolding. “You would know if you visited him more often,” she says with a a wag of her finger.

 

“I saw him last Sunday!” Bucky says defensively. Steve turns his gaze to the side, abruptly wanting to know who Sasha is.

 

“You come to supper more, you see him then,” Adrianna continues to say sternly.

 

Steve looks fully at Bucky, eyebrows tight together, but Bucky is looking at Adrianna still and shrugging.

 

“I was with Steve,” he says, squeezing Steve’s shoulders as he says it. “He had a rough weekend.”

 

Adrianna’s expression turns sympathetic and she looks at Steve. “Oh, rățușcă, I hope you’re feeling better.”

 

Steve nods vaguely. His weekend was actually fairly average. He didn’t actually get raped, only came close. That happens all the time, to more Omegas than just him.

 

Right now, he wants to know who Maria and Sasha are. And what ratusca means.

 

“Pablo will be back later,” Adrianna says to Bucky after that. “I can ask if Sasha can come?”

 

Bucky flicks his gaze to Steve, and Steve is getting increasingly worried over who Sasha is.

 

“Uh,” Bucky says.

 

“Have you met Sasha, Steve?” Adrianna asks him.

 

“No,” Steve tells her, sounding much calmer than he really is.

 

“He is very sweet,” Adrianna smiles, “he is grandson.”

 

“Uh,” Bucky says again, but Adrianna keeps going.

 

“He is Yasha’s son,” she says happily.

 

Steve blinks at her. He can’t breathe. He looks at Bucky, whose expression has slipped into a tight smile which he’s directing at the table. Steve raises his eyebrows, feeling a lot like his guts just spilled out of his stomach and his diaphragm went with them because he can’t bring his lungs to expand or contract.

 

“You have a son?” he repeats. He sounds so much calmer than he feels.

 

“Did he not tell you?” Adrianna asks. She’s wringing her hands now, looking concerned.

 

“No,” Steve exhales.

 

“I was going to tell you,” Bucky mutters.

 

“Oh, you were?” Steve says. He’s found his breath now. He’s about ready to kill Bucky. “When? When it was your weekend to spend time with him and I woke up to find him wandering our apartment?”

 

He’s too stunned to be taken aback by how easily he lays claim to Bucky’s penthouse.

 

“I don’t get weekends,” Bucky says shortly under his breath.

 

“I wonder why,” Steve snaps.

 

Bucky turns his tight and sour smile on Steve. Steve doesn’t bother smiling at all.

 

“Don’t go there,” Bucky murmurs. “We can talk about this later.”

 

“Later,” Steve repeats mockingly. “Sure. Because you shouldn’t have this sort of conversation in front of your son’s grandmother, because you shouldn’t be talking about your son with your side ho in front of your baby momma’s ma?”

 

Bucky’s false smile drops entirely and he glares at Steve. Steve glares back, then abruptly, Bucky leans in closer and whispers in his ear.

 

“Don’t call yourself a side ho,” he murmurs. Steve drops his gaze and his glare. “That’s not what you are.”

 

Steve doesn’t answer. Adrianna looks incredibly uncomfortable. Bucky presses a soft kiss to Steve's temple, squeezing his shoulders again.

 

“I should not ask Sasha to come?” Adrianna says hesitantly.

 

“Sure,” Steve says before Bucky can answer. He still feels like his guts have been spilled, but he’s gathering them and his thoughts back into his body. “He should meet his dad’s boyfriend at some point, right?”

 

“Not today,” Bucky says, however. Steve glances at him and Bucky gives him a brief, warning look from the corner of his eyes. “Sasha’s still in school, Thanksgiving break doesn’t start until tomorrow.”

 

At least Bucky’s son is young enough to still be in school. Steve swallows nothing, looking at the table and wondering what he might have done if Bucky had a child that was as old as him.

 

“He’s in first grade,” Bucky says in Steve’s ear. Steve gives a short nod. That’s not so bad. Not a teenager. A little kid, but still…

 

“Okay,” Adrianna murmurs. “I thought he was with Maria, but okay.”

 

Bucky shakes his head. Steve glances at him again, trying to understand how he didn’t guess that Bucky was a father. Bucky is a father, and Steve’s been jokingly calling him daddy. Holy fuck.

 

Bucky has a son and a baby momma who he’s still close enough to to pay her hospital bills. James Barnes already has an heir, and there goes another of Steve’s bargaining chips. Steve looks at the table, his mouth dry. He doesn’t want to eat at all. He feels a lot like a side ho.

 

“I’ll bring you lunch,” Adrianna says. “Let you talk. Do you want boys to eat in the kitchen?”

 

She points to Luke and Hunter.

 

“Next table,” Bucky says. Luke gives a nod and Hunter is already standing up. “Usual for me, can you bring spaghetti for Steve?”

 

Steve won’t eat it. It’ll go to waste. But Adrianna nods and is already leaving. The suits move a table down, close enough that they could jump to action if needed, but far enough that anything Steve and Bucky might say quietly won’t reach their ears.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me you had a kid?” Steve demands in a hiss.

 

“Because I knew you’d freak out!” Bucky snaps. “Look, Maria and I –”

 

“I don’t give a shit about Maria, ” Steve cuts him off. “How could you hide the fact that you have a son? I asked you about your family and you said nothing!”

 

Steve hadn’t even guessed that Bucky might already have an heir. And if Bucky already has a child, but he’s with Steve now, then that proves just how much he’ll be loyal to Steve if by some freak accident he gets pregnant before his future is set in stone. And his future isn’t set in stone anymore, and Bucky fucking has a kid already and Steve doesn’t know how to be totally honest with anyone –

 

“Look at me!” Bucky snaps, grabbing Steve by the jaw and pulling his face up to make him look him in the eye. “Stop panicking about Sasha, alright? This doesn’t change anything.”

 

Steve jerks his jaw out of Bucky’s grip. “Doesn’t it?” he says quietly. “You lied.”

 

Bucky’s eyes go hard. Steve blinks at him, and thinks, yes, Bucky lied to him. Bucky lied to his face. And that hurts.

 

“You’ve been lying this whole damn time,” Bucky hisses.

 

Steve reels backward. He looks at Bucky with an open mouth, eyes wide, and somehow that hurts even more. Maybe because it’s just as true.

 

“I –” he starts. Bucky looks down, something vaguely guilty flickering over his expression. “I wasn’t –”

 

Bucky mutters something not in English under his breath. Steve looks at the table again, then, jolting him into stiffness, Bucky lifts his arm.

 

Bucky rubs at his eyes with both hands and Steve shrinks into the corner of the booth. He glares, hurt, at the tabletop. Bucky glances at him, then sighs heavily and holds out a hand to him.

 

“C’mere,” he says gruffly.

 

Steve shrinks into the corner of the booth. The future that he’d been determined to secure a few days ago is coming crashing around him, there’s a very real and concrete end to that future staring him in the face, its name is Sasha and its mother is, in his mind, kinder, more attractive, better in all ways. Maria can be honest. Maria knows how to love. Maria knows how to receive love, she knows how to return it, she knows how to be honest.

 

“Steve,” Bucky sighs, then holds out his hand, “come back here.”

 

“No,” Steve snaps.

 

“Come here,” Bucky retorts. “I’m not going to let you box yourself into a corner in your head and make yourself less than you are.”

 

“Is that what I’m doing?” Steve hisses. “I didn’t realize you were a mind reader, Barnes.”

 

“Come here!” Bucky says sharply. It’s almost jarring enough to make him go. “You’re still dropping, Steve!”

 

“I don’t even know what that means!” Steve answers. He shrinks into the corner, ignoring Bucky’s outstretched hand. “But you lied –”

 

He cuts off because his voice is shaking. He covers his face with both hands.

 

Bucky’s hand closes on his arm and tugs on him. Steve doesn’t resist him, but doesn’t curl into him. Bucky wraps an arm around him and Steve sits stiffly away from him.

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you,” Bucky says in his ear. “I’m sorry you had to find out like that and now.”

 

“Fucking –” Steve spits out, then smacks the back of his hand against Bucky’s chest. “You keep fucking apologizing!”

 

“Because it’s the right thing to do!” Bucky snaps back. “Look, just let me hold you, alright?”

 

“Fucking tactile…” Steve mutters and doesn’t finish. Bucky sighs, audibly frustrated.

 

“You’re going through subdrop,” Bucky says gently, like he’s explaining something to a child, and strangely, Steve finds that he doesn’t really mind. That makes him angrier at himself. “It happens when doms don’t let subs down from subspace properly; it’s basically withdrawal. Being tactile helps. It releases oxytocin, right? It’ll make you feel better.”

 

Steve doesn’t ask how he knows. He can guess. Fucking Maria probably never went through subdrop.

 

“I’m sorry,” Bucky apologizes again.

 

“Shut the fuck up,” Steve hisses under his breath.

 

“What do you want me to do?” Bucky asks, but it’s gentle, it’s kind, it’s soft and affectionate and Steve has no idea what he wants.

 

Yes, he does. He wants to go back to Friday night when Bucky wasn’t remotely affectionate and all Steve needed to do was sway his hips in a short skirt.

 

“Hey,” Bucky murmurs, “c’mon, Stevie, I promise that you don’t gotta worry about Maria or Sasha, alright? It was just one night and it was dumb luck that she got pregnant, and Sasha’s a sweet kid, he won’t be mean or anything to you, he’ll like you, I swear.”

 

“You don’t get it,” Steve snaps.

 

“What?” Bucky prompts. Fucking gently. “What don’t I get, honey?”

 

Steve sniffs, sucking in a breath as that one fucking word, fucking honey, just sends him from spitting mad to self-conscious and teary. He’s going to blame subdrop. Whatever the fuck subdrop is, he blames it. And it’s not like he can actually tell Bucky that Sasha changes everything because his existence means Steve has lost value.

 

Bucky doesn’t need an heir from him, and Steve can’t entice him with one. He had thought that in the future he could start by suggesting Bucky fuck him raw and then maybe he could skip a birth control shot or he could even tell Bucky that he wanted to have a baby, but that future is no longer guaranteed and Bucky doesn’t need him to produce an heir anymore. He has lost so much of his value as a novelty fuck.

 

And Steve can’t tell him that. He’s trying to be honest and he’s still lying.

 

“What is it, sweetheart?” Bucky murmurs.

 

Steve leaves his face hidden in his hands. He can’t just say nothing because so far Bucky has refused to take that as an answer. He has to say something, and it can’t be the truth.

 

Which means he has to keep lying.

 

“You can tell me.”

 

Steve scrambles to find something plausible as Bucky kisses his hair. His nasty, unwashed hair, and Bucky’s dropping kisses onto it with ease.

 

“What don’t I get?” Bucky murmurs.

 

You lied to me,” Steve says finally. That makes sense, and that does hurt. “You had to know I was – that I was faking a lot of what I did – I wasn’t that subtle, and it’s not like I lied about more than how much I liked you, but you said you didn’t have any family but your sister and I believed you.”

 

Bucky’s quiet. Steve sniffs again and rubs at his nose with his sleeve.

 

“I couldn’t tell you were faking it,” Bucky admits.

 

Steve screws up his eyes, hissing fuck under his breath.

 

“I’m not mad,” Bucky says hastily. “And – And I guess you’re right, this is a lot different. A kid’s pretty serious.”

 

Steve hisses fuck under his breath again.

 

“And you already apologized,” Bucky keeps going. “And you said why, and I get it, I do, you haven’t done this before.”

 

Steve shakes his head sharply. That wasn’t why he was lying.

 

“A kid changes things,” Bucky mutters.

 

Steve nods, because fucking yes a child changes things. He doesn’t even feel like he’s Bucky’s bitch anymore, he’s just his side bitch. Even less. He’s a side bitch.

 

“I get it if you’d rather not deal with that,” Bucky says slowly. “I do. I’ll still help you out.”

 

“What?” Steve splutters.

 

“You’re young,” Bucky says reluctantly, “you don’t want to have to deal with the pressure of a seven-year-old –”

 

“Shut the fuck up,” Steve interrupts. Bucky breaks off, frowning. Steve gapes at him for a second, then says: “Kiss me.”

 

Bucky does. Fucking tenderly. A hand at the back of Steve's neck and the other holding his waist, lips soft, and Steve feels a bit of the tension drain out of him. Bucky touches their foreheads together for a moment before pulling back and Steve gets a breath in that isn’t hyperventilating. Then Bucky starts to pull back and Steve snatches a fistfull of his shirt, digging his nails in and Bucky stops. He sweeps a finger over Steve’s cheek, to come to a stop at his chin and Steve shuts his eyes, taking another deep breath.

 

Bucky taps under his chin. “Look at me,” he murmurs.

 

Steve sucks in another breath and opens his eyes. Bucky is looking at him tenderly and Steve swallows spit and phlegm, sniffing to clear his nose and he takes another breath.

 

“Are we exclusive?” he demands.

 

Bucky looks at him darkly. “Yes,” he growls.

 

A bit more tension drains. “And you’re not with Maria at all anymore?” Steve asks hesitantly.

 

“Aw, Steve, ” Bucky sighs. He presses a palm to Steve's cheek and kisses him again. “No, no, honey, I was never even dating her, it was one time and we both swore never to do it again before we even knew she was pregnant with Sasha. And, really, I’m more like an uncle to him than a father, she’s got a man now, she’s married –”

 

Steve nods and Bucky breaks off, shaking his head. He kisses Steve’s forehead.

 

“I promise, I’m not seeing anybody but you right now,” Bucky tells him. “I haven’t been out with anyone in over a year, even. I hadn’t even had sex for a few months before we met, honey, it’s just you.”

 

Steve nods jerkily again. “Keep calling me that,” he mutters.

 

“Honey?” Bucky questions. Steve mutters an assent under his breath and Bucky kisses his hair again. “Alright, honey. You’re mine, Stevie, and only you, I promise.”

 

“I’m not a side bitch,” Steve whispers.

 

“Fuck, no,” Bucky swears. “No, honey, you’re not a side nothing, you’re my boyfriend, alright?”

 

Steve nods sharply again. He’s still terrified of that, a real relationship and not just sex, but it’s somehow reassuring right then. He’s not a side bitch. He’s not Bucky’s side anything. He’s just plain Bucky’s, and he can address his fear of being Bucky’s boyfriend later.

 

“You’re it for me right now,” Bucky murmurs into his hair. “I don’t two-time no one, I ain’t that much of a bastard. You’re it for me, honey.”

 

For right now. Steve is shaking, because he wants to be it for Bucky forever, it’s hardly been a month, and he actually wants that forever to be sincere.

 

“Was that what you were worried about?” Bucky asks.

 

Steve just nods jerkily. He’s trying to be honest and he’s still hiding things. He’s still lying by omission. It’s another drop in the ocean.

 

“Fuck, you had me scared,” Bucky says quietly. “Thought you were gonna bail on me – And that’d just be worse on you with you like this.”

 

“No,” Steve mumbles.

 

“We can talk about Sasha later,” Bucky tells him. “But you don’t gotta worry about nothin’, honey. Swear to God, you don’t gotta worry I’m messing with you like that. Never.”

 

Steve just nods. Bucky kisses his nasty, unwashed hair again, and Steve shrinks closer to him instead of away.

 

“This is gonna go away,” Bucky says into his hair. “What you’re feelin’ right now, it’s gonna go away and you’ll be alright. I’m gonna take care’a ya through it, okay?”

 

“I know,” Steve mutters. “I trust you.”

 

Bucky presses another kiss to his hair. “Thank you,” he murmurs.

 

“For trusting you?” Steve questions. 

 

Bucky nods and Steve squints at his collar, wondering what can be read into his trusting Barnes. Probably more than he’s seeing, and probably something that will just freak him out later.

 

“I promise not to abuse your trust,” Bucky says.

 

“I know,” Steve says again.

 

Bucky’s hand at Steve's waist slips up, then back down, rubbing his side. Steve shuts his eyes, biting his lip to keep from complaining out of principle at how tactile and gentle he’s being right now. It feels good. It feels nice. Steve likes being petted just as much as he likes being fucked, and it’s not Bucky he’s really mad at for that.

 

“You’re mine,” Bucky says. He’s repeating himself again. “You belong to me.”

 

“I know,” Steve repeats himself, too.

 

Bucky’s hand pets over his ribs, slips down over his hip and rises up again. Bucky sets his cheek against the top of his head, against his dirty hair.

 

“I need to shower when we get home,” Steve says under his breath.

 

When did he start thinking of Bucky’s marble penthouse as home?

 

“Okay,” Bucky says. “I’ll join you if you don’t mind.”

 

“I don’ mind,” Steve mutters.

 

“Good,” Bucky offers. His head lifts for a moment, then tucks back against him. Steve shuts his eyes again, breathing deeply now. “Not good for you to be alone like this.”

 

“‘S why you left work?” Steve guesses. It makes sense now. And even with the scare over Bucky’s heirs, he’s feeling a little bit better for Bucky being gentle and tactile.

 

Bucky murmurs a soft assent into his hair and Steve nods absently. He should probably thank him, and the longer he thinks about it, the guiltier he gets over how he tried telling Bucky to fuck off earlier. Bucky’s always working and he ran off the second he saw how Steve was feeling. Steve’s grateful. He doesn’t want to seem like he’s not.

 

“Thank you,” he mutters. “Y’didn’t have to.”

 

Bucky sighs long and Steve winces.

 

“Yes, I had to,” Bucky tells him. “It’s only right.”

 

“Sorry,” Steve answers quietly.

 

“Don’t be sorry,” Bucky sighs again. “Not your fault.”

 

Steve doesn’t respond. He doesn’t know what to say that won’t make Bucky sigh in disappointment again. He hides his face in Bucky’s shirt, reaching his arms around his waist to hug him and locking his grip even though he knows full well Bucky won’t make him let go.

 

“You’re mine,” Bucky says. It’s maybe the thousandth time he’s said it, Steve doesn’t know why he keeps repeating it but it’s nice to hear – Maybe that’s why. “All mine, gorgeous.”

 

Steve sniffs hard, clearing his nostrils so he can breathe better.

 

“Tell me who you belong to,” Bucky murmurs.

 

“You,” Steve mutters.

 

“What are you?” Bucky asks gently.

 

“Your slut,” Steve answers automatically, but he doesn’t know how that’s is supposed to help.

 

“Y’re more’n that,” Bucky tells him. Steve blinks at his collar. “What are you?”

 

“Your –” Steve breaks off, frowning. “What?”

 

“Boyfriend,” Bucky says kindly. “You’re my boyfriend. You’re my partner, Steve.”

 

“Oh,” Steve says. That – Thinking it jarred him, yet Bucky voicing it was… nice?

 

“And you’re my sweetheart,” Bucky offers.

 

Steve snorts. “Don’t be cheesy,” he grumbles, but Bucky breaks into a grin.

 

“You’re my sweetheart,” Bucky repeats in a coo. “You’re my baby, my honey.”

 

“God, that’s so hipster,” Steve sighs.

 

“You like it,” Bucky says, squeezing the back of his neck. Steve melts a little. “My doll, my sweet baby.”

 

Steve pushes closer to Bucky, trying to hide how his heartbeat is picking up at Bucky’s gentle, non-sexual affection.

 

“Say it,” Bucky tells him.

 

“I’m your sweetheart,” Steve answers quietly.

 

“Good,” Bucky praises softly and Steve smiles a little. Whatever Bucky’s doing, it’s working now. He feels better. “That’s my good baby," Bucky goes on, "my pretty boy. Sweet honey, you are.”

 

“Tryna make me preen, huh?” Steve mutters.

 

“Jus’ tellin’ you what you are,” Bucky coos. “My darlin’.”

 

Steve snorts again, smiling despite himself and hugging Bucky tighter. “Now you’re goin’ soft on me.”

 

“I’m allowed to be nice to you,” Bucky says. “You’re my honey.”

 

“Cheesy bastard,” Steve complains half-heartedly.

 

“You like it,” Bucky insists.

 

“‘S fucking dumb,” Steve giggles.

 

“What, you rather I tell you in Romanian?” Bucky says. Steve shrugs. “How ‘bout this, ești amantu meu.”

 

“The fuck does that mean?” Steve snorts.

 

“I’ll never tell, amant,” Bucky swears. “Esti pretiosul meu, esti comoara mea, Îmi place cum devii roșu cand te sărut și Îmi place cum te plânge despre asta. Ești atât de drăguț când te roșii.”

 

“Oh, my God,” Steve snorts. “What the hell are you even saying?”

 

“I’m complaining about how you whine,” Bucky says.

 

Steve thinks that he can hear Bucky’s smile in his voice, or feel it with his face pressed to Bucky’s chest, and he lifts his head just to see. Bucky’s grinning.

 

“You like me whining,” Steve counters.

 

“I like a lotta things you do,” Bucky agrees. His smile turns softer. “Cred ca ma indragostesc de tine.”

 

“You ever gonna repeat that in English?” Steve asks. He tries for a stern expression. “It’s not nice to tell somebody things in a language they don’t know.”

 

“I know,” Bucky laughs.

 

He touches a thumb and forefinger to Steve’s chin and leans in; Steve closes his eyes, expecting Bucky to kiss him, and he does, but he kisses his nose. Steve lets out a protesting nose and Bucky laughs, then kisses him properly. Bucky kisses him tenderly, and Steve’s not even inclined to complain about it anymore.

 

“You’re a dumb,” Steve declares when he pulls back.

 

“I’m sure,” Bucky muses. He brushes his fingers through Steve’s hair, smiling in a way that can only be interpreted as fond, and Steve drops his gaze. “Cred ca ma indragostesc de tine.”

 

“You said that once already, right?” Steve asks.

 

“Yep,” Bucky says. “It’s true.”

 

“I don’t even know what it means,” Steve says. He looks up and Bucky kisses his cheek, startling him. “Hey!”

 

“Esti dragut,” Bucky says with a grin.

 

“You’re dumb,” Steve insists, half-heartedly smacking his shoulder with the back of his hand.

 

“Well, esti prețios,” Bucky counters.

 

“I have no idea what you’re saying!” Steve laughs.

 

“I just said you’re precious,” Bucky says.

 

Steve’s grin stops its growth. He looks at the table, then he laughs again, but it lacks mirth. “I’m precious?” he repeats. He shakes his head. “I’m precious?” he whispers under his breath.

 

“Esti prețios pentru mine,” Bucky murmurs.

 

Steve may not speak Romanian, but it doesn’t take a linguist to guess Bucky’s meaning.

 

“I’m precious to you?” he says quietly.

 

“You are,” Bucky says. He brushes at Steve’s hair, pushing his fingers through his greasy roots. “Pretios means precious. Comora means treasure. Amant means lover.”

 

“I’m not a lover!” Steve laughs quietly.

 

“You’re my lover,” Bucky says. “Alright? That’s what I want from you, it’s all I want from you. For you to be my lover.”

 

“I –” Steve starts, then stops. He was about to say that he’s just a hooker, but he isn’t anymore, is he? He’s run away from Fang and is sheltered not by James Barnes’s shadow but by his arms. He isn’t a hooker anymore. He doesn’t know what he is.

 

“You’re my partner,” Bucky whispers in his ear. “If saying lover makes you uncomfortable.”

 

Steve’s about to open his mouth and say that even partner makes him uncomfortable but halfway through he stops. He balls Bucky’s shirt up in his fist, looking somewhere to the left of his shoulder.

 

“No,” Steve mumbles. “Lover is fine.”

 

Bucky kisses his forehead and Steve looks somewhere to his left. This is what he wanted. This is what he wants, isn’t it? To be Bucky's lover. And if he’s going to try to be honest with Bucky, he’s got to be honest with himself. He wants to be Bucky’s lover, and anything else to fall under that category. He can be Bucky’s harlot, his sweetheart, his pretty boy and his slut, but first and foremost, he is Bucky’s lover. He wants this.

 

“I’m trying,” Steve says quietly.

 

“It’s okay,” Bucky answers immediately. “I can wait.”

 

“You’re sure?” Steve says hastily. “You don’t mind?”

 

“Nah,” Bucky says. He gives Steve an easy and gentle smile. “You’re worth it.”

 

“I’ll try to believe that,” Steve says. He swallows again and raises the hand not fisted in Bucky’s shirt to rub at his eyes. “Um. Then, while I’m being honest? I should go back to see my shrink.”

 

“Okay,” Bucky answers. “That’s fine, that’s great.”

 

Steve just nods. He doesn’t have the energy to put into apprehension over telling Dr. Madini about the downward slope his life has slipped to, the abrupt relapse, or how he’s fallen into James Barnes’ bed. He’s not looking forward to it, at least. But he’s got a mental vision of Darcy glaring at him that keeps insisting that he needs to see her again.

 

“You want me to come?” Bucky asks then.

 

“No,” Steve says. “At least… I don’t think you need to come. I don’t know. Doc might want to talk to you.”

 

“I’ll pop in if you want,” Bucky says.

 

“Thank you,” Steve mutters. That’s a relief, at least. Dr. Madini can interrogate Barnes herself rather than Steve have to defend him endlessly. Dr. Madini has never been fond of Steve’s involvement with organized crime, and while she’s never judged him for it, she has never indicated any different. “At the very least, she should be happy I’m out of the business.”

 

“Yeah,” Bucky agrees, sighing. “You’re out.”

 

Steve puts his head on Bucky’s shoulder, shuts his eyes and pulls his legs up onto the bench. Bucky’s arm around Steve draws him closer and Steve hopes he can undo the damage he did by playing tricks.

 

He hears a plate clinking against the tabletop and lifts his head. Adrianna gives him a smile and puts a plate of spaghetti and meatballs in front of him.

 

“I hope you feel better, rățușcă,” she says kindly. “Welcome to the family.”

 

With that, she walks off. Steve sits up some, looking down at the plate of food and Bucky puts a rolled up set of utensils in front of him. Steve picks it up and picks at the tape, then looks at the bowl Bucky has and watches him take out a spoon.

 

“What is that?” he asks. He’s stalling.

 

“White beans and pork knuckle stew,” Bucky says. He dips his spoon into it, catches a few beans and a strip of meat, then lifts it up and holds it out. To Steve.

 

He looks at it, then steels his nerves and leans forward, parting his lips. Bucky slips the spoon into his mouth and Steve tries to focus on the flavor, how the meat is sweet and the broth is almost spicy. He chews, looking away from Bucky, swallows and exhales.

 

Bucky kisses his cheek. “Good boy,” he murmurs in his ear. Steve sucks in a breath. He looks back at him, at the table, then Bucky taps the plate in front of him with his spoon and gives him a stern but kind look. “Eat what you feel comfortable, but eat some of it. It’s okay if there’s leftovers, we can take them home. If you eat at least a third, I’ll buy you something nice when we go to get your collar, okay?”

 

Steve looks at the plate of spaghetti, lips parted as he blinks. “Are you… You’re –” He breaks off to laugh, stunned. “You’re going to reward me for eating?”

 

Bucky gives a nod, looking serious.

 

“This is…” Steve starts.

 

“I looked it up, rewards are great for breaking these things,” Bucky says.

 

“You looked it up?” Steve repeats. “You looked up anorexia?”

 

“I wanted to be informed,” Bucky answers.

 

Steve shakes his head, stunned. Then he tugs his fork out of the napkin roll and cuts open a meatball. Bucky squeezes his shoulders and kisses his cheek again.

 

“Good boy,” he says softly. “Adrianna makes the best meatballs, you’ll like ‘em, swear.”

 

Steve nods vaguely, cutting off a small part of the meatball. He sweeps it through the tomato sauce and plucks into his mouth. Bucky sets to eating his soup, but he leaves his arm around Steve’s shoulders. Steve takes a moment to look at the dish, chewing and swallowing slowly. It’s pretty good. It reminds him of the stuff his ma used to make. The meat is soft and moist, full of spices, and the sauce is hearty and tangy, and the noodles taste homemade. It’s great.

 

“What kinda something nice?” he asks, cutting another piece of the meatball.

 

“How about some drawing stuff?” Bucky says.

 

“You could just buy me panties,” Steve mutters to himself. He twists noodles around his fork and stabs a piece of meat.

 

“I’m already buying you panties,” Bucky says with a shrug. “You like graphite or charcoal?”

 

“Charcoal,” Steve answers.

 

“I’ll get you those,” Bucky says.

 

“And pastels,” Steve throws in, looking up. Bucky raises his eyebrows. “Oil pastels.”

 

Slowly, Bucky nods. He puts down his spoon and brushes at Steve’s cheek with a thumb. “You’ll get ‘em,” he promises.

 

Steve licks traces of tomato sauce from his lips, then looks down. He can eat a third of this. Maybe he could eat half, even. He can do this.

Chapter Text

everything

 

Steve eats all seven of the meatballs and almost a quarter of the spaghetti. By the time he gets there, he’s relieved to feel full but not sick for it. He puts his fork down and leans against Bucky’s shoulder, shutting his eyes and taking a deep breath.

 

Bucky brushes his cheek and Steve wrinkles his nose, opening one eye.

 

“Full?” Bucky asks.

 

Steve just nods. Bucky kisses his forehead. “Good,” he murmurs, “good job, baby. You liked them meatballs, huh?”

 

“They were great,” Steve mumbles.

 

He starts to add that they reminded him of his Ma’s, stops, then reconsiders. He’s being honest with Bucky. He wants to be honest.

 

Bucky scrapes up the last of his broth and beans and Steve, almost under his breath, mutters: “Tasted like my ma’s.”

 

Bucky pauses in his action, then looks at him. “Yeah?” he says.

 

Steve nods. “She used to make meatballs and onion soup, all the time. It was the first thing she’d make whenever I was sick.”

 

“You got sick a lot?” Bucky asks.

 

Steve shrugs a shoulder. “Something like that,” he says.

 

“Tell you what,” Bucky offers, “you find the recipe and give it to Adrianna, she can make it for you.”

 

Steve smiles just a little. “Maybe,” he says. He has the recipe. He’s tried to make it, but he’s never gotten it right.

 

“You want a box?” Bucky then asks.

 

Steve nods. It’s good food, it shouldn’t go to waste.

 

Bucky catches the attention of a waitress, who walks over holding the check.

 

“I need a box,” he tells her.

 

She just nods and holds out the check booklet. Bucky takes it, tugs out his wallet and tucks a card in the top, then hands it back and she leaves. Steve picks up his coffee, which has gotten cold, and sips it.

 

“Can we get more coffee on our way home?” he asks.

 

“We’re going to pick out your collar and get those charcoals first,” Bucky answers calmly. He pulls out his phone and opens his email while Steve settles against his shoulder again, thinking about wearing a collar.

 

“When would I wear it?” Steve says.

 

“Hmm?” Bucky says.

 

Steve shifts on the bench, turning to face him fully and curls his fingers around Bucky’s tie. Bucky turns his head, one eyebrow lifted.

 

“When would I wear the collar?” Steve asks quietly.

 

“Whenever you wanted to,” Bucky answers with a shrug.

 

“But I’d wear the chokers every day?” Steve says.

 

Bucky puts down his phone and lifts his hand to touch Steve’s cheek. Steve shuts his eyes and turns his face into Bucky's touch, breathing out slowly.

 

“Every time you leave the apartment,” Bucky answers.

 

Steve nods. He can do that. He would enjoy that. Bucky cups his chin and pulls him closer, then presses a lingering kiss to his cheek. Steve inhales slowly.

 

“How’s that?” Bucky murmurs in his ear.

 

“Yes,” Steve says.

 

He opens his eyes and looks Bucky in the eye, nods and thinks that he should look Bucky in the eye more. He has amazing eyes. At first, Steve had thought his eyes were steely and cold, like a harsh New York winter with all its cruelty and ruthlessness personified, but now that Bucky’s smiling gently at him, he sees the crows’ feet at the corner of his eyes. The wrinkles soften his face, make him look more human, less like winter’s unforgiving ice, more like a sheen of first frost over a deep lagoon. Something inviting and invigorating.

 

“Yes, I’d like that,” Steve says.

 

“Good,” Bucky answers. He touches a finger briefly to Steve’s chin and turns away to pick up his phone again. Steve puts his head back on Bucky’s shoulder, then turns so his back is pressed into Bucky’s side and slumps against him. He picks up Bucky’s arm by the wrist and pulls it around his body, until he’s hugging it, then finally puts his head in the crook of his shoulder and shuts his eyes. Bucky is a great pillow, Steve thinks absently.

 

“I have to pick something up from the office on our way home,” Bucky tells him.

 

“You know,” Steve observes, “for the leader of a crime syndicate, you seem a helluva lot like a CEO.”

 

“I am a CEO,” Bucky says. Steve snorts. “Hey, Seyrbakov Corporations is a legitimate company.”

 

“Sure,” Steve sniggers. “You import illegal goods.”

 

“Now, that’s smuggling, Stevie,” Bucky tells him in a faux-stern tone.

 

“Oh, excuse me,” Steve answers. He reaches back, tilting his head back to look, and touches Bucky’s cheek, brushing the back of his fingers against his stubble. Bucky breaks into a smile and Steve does, too. “You smuggle illegal goods.”

 

“Details,” Bucky answers. Steve snorts again and looks down, dropping his hand. “S. Corp. really is an import/exports company, I really am a CEO. Smuggling is just the underbelly.”

 

“If you say so,” Steve murmurs. “But you’re not famous because you’re CEO of an imports company.”

 

He imagines Bucky is rolling his eyes. That’s what Steve would do in his position.

 

“I’m not famous,” Bucky mutters then.

 

Steve laughs. He tugs out his phone and searches for James Barnes, then shoves it in Bucky’s face to show him the millions of results. “Not famous!” he says. “You may be the leader of a crime syndicate, but you still were on the cover of Forbes last year!”

 

“Well, if we’re believing the Internet,” Bucky says, plucking the phone from Steve’s fingers and he sits up to look at him, “you’re famous, too.”

 

“What do you mean?” Steve asks.

 

Bucky holds the phone out for Steve to see. “Cosmopolitan wants to know who you are,” Bucky says with a smirk.

 

Steve snatches it back, finding that all the recent news results are pictures of him under Bucky’s arm and the headlines all ask the same question.

 

“Oh,” he says.

 

Bucky flicks his eyebrows up.

 

“You should yell at the head of security for your building,” Steve says. He exits Google and blanks the screen.

 

“I already did,” Bucky says. Steve puts his phone on the table and drops back against his side, pulling his arm back snug against his torso. “What’s the matter?”

 

“Nothing,” Steve says. Then shakes his head and corrects himself before Bucky can fuss at him. “No, I just thought that would blow over.”

 

“What would? The picture?”

 

“Yeah,” Steve says. He frowns at the walls of the booth, then picks up his phone and goes back to Safari. “I mean, I knew it was there. But it’s been a few days.”

 

“It’s just Tuesday,” Bucky answers.

 

Steve taps a nail against the screen, frowning at Cosmopolitan and People and wondering why the gossip rags are suddenly so interested in Bucky and him. He was mostly kidding about Bucky being famous, he’s a well-known name, but it’s not like he’s a movie star. Steve tilts his head to the side, leaning against Bucky’s shoulder, and stares at his own repeated image. At least the picture’s decent.

 

The waitress approaches again, check and box in hand. Steve puts his phone away and swings his legs off the bench while Bucky takes the check from her and signs the receipt. He hands it back to her, then takes out his wallet, puts his card away and drops a fifty onto the table. Steve’s hardly impressed anymore.

 

“Let’s go,” Bucky says to him.

 

Bucky takes the takeout box and pulls his arm from Steve’s shoulders to pick up his plate. Steve tries not to shiver or feel cold for it. He watches Bucky scrap his leftovers into the box, blinking every time the fork hits the ceramic and clinks loudly. A table over, Bucky’s suits rise to their feet and put on their sunglasses. Bucky closes up the box, then brushes off his hands and shifts to the end of the bench with the box. He stands up, tugs straight his jacket, and holds his hand back out.

 

Steve slides out and takes his hand. Bucky closes his fingers on his wrist, then he tugs him in tightly and wraps his arm around him. Steve leans against him appreciatively.

 

Hunter walks out first, then waves Luke out and while Steve and Bucky linger in the entryway, the two bodyguards check each compartment of the car.

 

“Do they do this every time?” Steve asks.

 

“Yep,” Bucky says.

 

“Because you’re paranoid or…?” Steve says without finishing.

 

When Bucky doesn’t immediately answer, Steve looks up. “Because you have good reason?” he says slowly.

 

“Yep,” Bucky sighs. “Last driver I had before Luke, one time he didn’t check the chassis. There was a bomb. I wasn’t in the car, but he died.”

 

“Oh,” Steve says simply. Bucky thins his lips and says nothing else.

 

Steve looks back outside. Luke shuts the hood of the car, Hunter waves to them and Bucky starts walking, leaving Steve to hasten to follow. Hunter opens the rear door and Bucky withdraws his arm so Steve can get in.

 

When Bucky drops in next to him and Hunter slams the door, Steve asks: “So, you made me take a bodyguard up to my apartment the other day not just because my landlord was a creep?”

 

“Yep,” Bucky says.

 

“I’m not in any danger, right?” Steve asks.

 

Bucky works his jaw. Steve swallows nothing.

 

“You’re perfectly safe,” Bucky says eventually.

 

“Because you’ll give me bodyguards?” Steve says.

 

Bucky nods. “You’re fine, Steve.”

 

Steve shrugs and picks up his arm to pull it over his shoulders. Bucky glances down at him, then plants a kiss on his temple. Steve, pleased, leans on his shoulder.

 

“Where to, boss?” Luke asks.

 

“You know what,” Bucky says. Steve lifts his head. “Back to my building, I feel like driving.”

 

“If you say so, boss,” Luke answers, turning the key in the ignition.

 

Steve, for a brief second, imagines the front of the car exploding from some undetected bomb, but the engine sparks and purrs and nothing blows up. The partition raises and Steve puts his head back down.

 

Then he remembers where they’re going to go, and he can’t help but smile. Bucky’s buying him a collar. They’re going to a sex shop. Maybe he if he flutters his lashes and pouts enough, Bucky’ll buy him a few other things.

 

“I didn’t know you drove,” Steve says, ruminating in the back of his mind on what he might want that would darken Bucky’s gaze.

 

“Why wouldn’t I drive?” Bucky answers. Steve looks to his right, to Bucky still working on his phone.

 

“These guys always drive you around,” Steve says. He reaches out and pulls Bucky’s phone out of his hand.

 

“Hey!” Bucky protests.

 

“Shh!” Steve says. He swipes through Bucky’s apps until he finds the camera, opens it and switches to selfie mode. He shifts in his seat and holds it up, smiling at Bucky’s scowl on the screen. “C’mon, quit looking so dour.”

 

“Do we have to?” Bucky sighs.

 

 

Steve matches Bucky’s scowl but takes the picture. Then he shifts on the bench until he’s kneeling facing Bucky and, holding the phone so he can take another picture, he plants a smacking kiss on Bucky’s cheek. Bucky huffs out a laugh and Steve quickly snaps another, even though he’s probably grinning like a damn lovesick fool at Bucky.

 

“Come on,” Steve prompts, “smile for the camera, Buck.”

 

“Is this what kids these days call selfies?” Bucky sighs.

 

“Smile!” Steve says again, reaching up and tugging on his earlobe. “It won’t kill you!”

 

Bucky rolls his eyes. Steve tugs on his ear again, then takes his chin and pulls his face in to kiss him. He takes another picture as he does.

 

“You’re lucky you’re so damn cute,” Bucky grumbles.

 

“I’m fully aware of how damn cute I am,” Steve answers smugly.

 

Bucky gives him a look and Steve just smirks back. “Smile,” he says again.

 

Bucky works his jaw, then huffs and turns to face the phone Steve’s pointing at him. He gives the camera a very false smile.

 

“Aw, c’mon, Buck,” Steve says, “gimme a real smile! Please?”

 

Bucky drops the fake grin and raises an eyebrow at the camera. Steve purses his lips, then resettles his weight and leans in a bit closer.

 

“Please, sir?” he asks with an exaggerated pout.

 

“What’s in it for me?” Bucky asks, looking at him from the corner of his eye.

 

Steve tilts his head to the side and looks off to the left like he’s considering it. Then, he has a brilliant idea. He shifts his gaze to the phone, drops it a bit and subtly presses record. Just to have the memory. “Well,” he starts, “we are going to a sex shop.”

 

Bucky raises both eyebrows. “That sounds more like something for you, honey.”

 

Steve laughs and looks back at him, grinning happily. “But wouldn’t you like to shove a nice big vibrator up my ass, sir?”

 

“That does sound appealing,” Bucky answers musingly.

 

“You can tie me up,” Steve adds.

 

Bucky lifts a single eyebrow. “Is that so?”

 

“Yep,” Steve answers with a grin. “All you have to do is smile for the camera.”

 

Bucky runs his tongue over his teeth, like he’s considering it. “How about,” he begins, then starts to smile. “How about, first, I get you some new toys.”

 

“I’m listening,” Steve offers.

 

“I have a nice floor pillow,” Bucky goes on. He reaches up and brushes his fingers through Steve’s hair, and Steve almost drops his grip on the phone; he puts his hand, and the phone, on Bucky’s knee instead. “Some lovely silk rope.”

 

“If you want me kneeling,” Steve says, flicking up his eyebrows, “I don’t need much incentive.”

 

“I’m thinking something a little different,” Bucky says. He pushes his fingers back through his hair, then grips a handful of it at the crown of his head and Steve tips his head back happily. “You wanna know what I want to do to you, or you want me to surprise you?”

 

“No blindfolds,” Steve tells him.

 

“Never,” Bucky agrees instantly.

 

“Then I trust you,” Steve says.

 

Bucky smiles, slowly. “That’s just what I want from you, baby boy,” he purrs. He closes in and presses a long, lingering kiss to Steve’s exposed neck and Steve shuts his eyes with a short exhale.

 

“Then I’ll smile for the camera,” Bucky murmurs into his neck.

 

“Oh yeah,” Steve laughs. He lifts the phone and Bucky lets go of his hair to look at it. “Smile.”

 

Bucky squints at his phone. “Is that recording?”

 

“Yes,” Steve sniggers.

 

Bucky turns to him with an incredulous look. “You recorded all that?”

 

“I like making memories,” Steve says. He ends the video and pulls the phone back, flipping into the gallery and hitting share on the video.

 

“What’re you doing now?” Bucky demands.

 

“Sending it to myself,” Steve answers. He scrolls through Bucky’s contacts, looking for his name. “Where am I?”

 

“Scroll up,” Bucky sighs.

 

Steve looks through S names again. “Where?”

 

“Farther,” Bucky says, then plucks the phone from his hand. He scrolls all the way up to B and stops. Steve looks at the screen and laughs.

 

“Really?” he says, raising his eyebrows at Bucky. “ Baby Boy? Really?”

 

“I’m sentimental,” Bucky says simply. He sends the video and Steve’s phone buzzes. “You’re lucky I like you, Steve, I don’t like people taking my picture let alone video.”

 

“I feel so special,” Steve answers happily.

 

“You are so special,” Bucky insists. Then he shakes his head, huffs at smiles at the phone in his hand. He switches back to the camera and holds it up, and Steve leans against his shoulder to grin at the phone’s small webcam.

 

Bucky snaps the photo and pauses to study it a moment, then drops his phone into the cupholder on the door and grabs a fistful of Steve’s hair. Steve sucks in a breath and Bucky tugs his head up and back. Steve inhales sharply again, digging his fingers into Bucky’s tie, and Bucky tips his head back a little bit more. His other hand sweeps up Steve’s torso until it reaches his neck, where his fingers come to a close on his throat.

 

“You are very special,” Bucky says quietly.

 

Steve swallows. Bucky’s index finger and thumb press to the corners of his jaw, his palm pressing lightly, and Steve swallows again just to feel his throat working against Bucky’s palm.

 

“I want to try something,” Bucky says.

 

Steve licks his lips and figures he can try something, too. He answers just with: “Sir?”

 

“Positive reinforcement,” Bucky tells him. His fingers slip a little lower on Steve’s throat, then his lips press just under his ear. “You are precious, Steve.”

 

“If you say so,” Steve mutters.

 

“Repeat it,” Bucky hisses.

 

“What?” Steve says. Bucky bits his earlobe and Steve squeezes his eyes shut, his breath catching in his throat.

 

“Tell me what you mean to me,” Bucky says in his ear. “Every time you get it right, I’ll reward you.”

 

“What do you mean by right?” Steve asks.

 

“Curious,” Bucky murmurs. “You don’t care what the reward is?”

 

“Can’t get it if I don’t answer right,” Steve tells him. “What do you mean by right?”

 

“How much do you mean to me?” Bucky asks him softly.

 

Steve swallows again. His mouth is dry and he’s getting lightheaded, but it’s not from Bucky’s hand closed on his throat. The heel of Bucky’s palm is resting on the dip of his clavicle now, so there is hardly the illusion of a chokehold to even quicken his breathing.

 

“A lot?” Steve suggests.

 

Bucky nips at his earlobe. Steve gulps down air.

 

“Try again,” Bucky says.

 

“A lot a lot?” Steve answers. Bucky’s fingers tighten and his grip tugs down, pulling Steve’s neck to a craning point so that it’s not even the fingers closed on his throat that constrict his airways. Steve is forced to drop his mouth open to accommodate the stretch of his neck and Bucky kisses the corner of his open mouth.

 

“Close,” he says. “Try again, baby.”

 

“What unit of measurement are we using?” Steve asks. Bucky laughs. “A million dollars,” Steve says.

 

Bucky laughs again. “Not even close, doll.”

 

“A whole mine of gold,” Steve says.

 

“Try again,” Bucky murmurs.

 

“All the diamonds on Earth,” Steve snorts.

 

Bucky bites at his jaw and Steve sucks in a breath. “Close,” Bucky says.

 

“You’re not serious,” Steve mutters.

 

“I’m very serious,” Bucky says. “That’s my whole thing, honey. I’m a serious man. I wouldn’t kid around with you.”

 

“This is ridiculous,” Steve laughs, and Bucky’s fingers tighten on his hair so quickly he gasps.

 

“You want your reward or nah?” Bucky purrs in his ear.

 

“I want it,” Steve mumbles back.

 

“Then take this seriously,” Bucky tells him, but his fingers relax a little, to a more comfortable point. “What do you mean to me?”

 

“I don’t know,” Steve sighs.

 

“You’re getting pretty close on the whole all the diamonds thing.”

Steve exhales shortly and shakes his head as much as he can with Bucky’s hand fisted in his hair. “All the diamonds and jewels in the world?” he says.

 

“I’ll give you a hint,” Bucky offers, mouth close to his ear and from the corner of his eye Steve can see him smiling predatorily. “I let you sleep in my bed.”

 

“Is that supposed to mean something?” Steve asks.

 

“I’ve had several serious relationships in my life,” Bucky continues. His lips come to brush Steve’s ear and he shivers. “But I’m very suspicious, naturally. Comes with the job. I haven’t slept with another person in my bed in ten years.”

 

Steve takes a long breath and lets it out. He thinks about how Barnes has rarely been photographed at all let alone with someone on his arm and how little he seemed to mind the break of security in his own building that resulted in their picture being spread all over the internet. Bucky kisses his hairline and Steve considers the ways Bucky has spoken to him and how patient he has been despite his infamous lack of the virtue. Bucky had thanked him for voicing his trust in him.

 

“So what do you mean to me?” Bucky murmurs.

 

“You trust me?” Steve answers in a quiet voice.

 

“Yes,” Bucky exhales. He pushes Steve’s head forward and grabs his lips in a rough kiss that has Steve’s spine turning to jelly. Bucky breaks the kiss and presses their foreheads together, slotting their noses side by side so they breathe the same air and Steve finds his mouth is hanging open. “I trust you. And that means everything.”

 

“I mean everything to you,” Steve whispers. He opens his eyes. Bucky’s lashes lie against his cheeks.

 

“Yes,” Bucky murmurs again.

 

“I mean everything to you,” Steve repeats.

 

Bucky kisses him again and Steve squeezes his eyes shut; he lifts up onto his knees and grabs Bucky’s face to kiss him back just as harshly, and both of Bucky’s hands fist in his hair. Bucky breaks the kiss to drag his lips down his jaw and Steve lifts his chin and his torso both, so his throat is level with Bucky’s face and he can present the line of his neck to him like an offering.

 

A lot has happened in so few days, Steve has found himself in way over his head on a totally different level of his hierarchy of needs, but the altitude and the thin oxygen no longer worry him. They make adrenaline run through his veins. Bucky’s fingers press to his throat again and Steve throws his head back until the stretch constricts his airways. He means everything to Bucky. He is Bucky’s lover, he feels precious to him and it isn’t just the way Bucky carries him. The threat of choking makes his heart beat quicker and meaning everything to someone is such a sweet feeling. Bucky’s attention is addictive but this is all so much more. Meaning everything to Bucky is the oxygen he’s gulping down. Meaning everything to Bucky means something to him.

 

Steve thinks Bucky means everything to him. He breaks into a grin as Bucky sucks faint marks into his neck and thinks, he gets to be honest. He can be honest with Bucky. Bucky has been honest with him, but Steve wants to be honest back and that means everything.

 

“You mean everything,” Steve whispers.

 

“Say it again.” Bucky kisses the words into his throat, but it’s the same tone as before and Steve guesses that Bucky heard him wrong.

 

“No, you mean everything,” Steve says. He drops his head forward and bends to kiss Bucky. “ You mean everything. To me,” he murmurs against his mouth.

 

Bucky catches one of his wrists and holds him close. Steve steals another kiss and Bucky bites at his lip.

 

“You don’t gotta say it back,” Bucky tells him in a soft voice.

 

“You mean everything to me,” Steve insists.

 

“I’m making your ego inflate here,” Bucky laughs.

 

“I’m not inflating your ego,” Steve laughs. He grins at Bucky, like a damn lovesick fool. “I’m being honest. And I’m never honest,” he adds with another laugh.

 

“That means everything,” Bucky guesses.

 

"Yeah," Steve admits.

 

Bucky releases his grip on Steve’s hair to cup his face, sweeping a thumb over the crest of his cheek. He squeezes Steve's wrist gently, tenderly. “Thank you,” Bucky murmurs.

 

“Me being honest means the same as you trusting me,” Steve tells him, and Bucky slowly comes to a grin.

 

“That’s what you mean to me, baby,” Bucky tells him. He kisses Steve yet again, hungrily and Steve finds his weight dropping back onto his heels and Bucky’s hands on him the only things holding him up. When Bucky breaks the kiss, Steve hangs in his grip, his eyes still shut and lips parted.

 

Bucky lets out a low whistle. Steve sucks in a breath through his open mouth and Bucky thumbs at his cheek.

 

“Oh, you sweet thing,” Bucky sighs appreciatively. “Look at you. A little bit of kissing and you’re struck dumb.”

 

Steve gives a faint nod, but doesn’t answer verbally. He’s struck dumb, after all.

 

“Have you heard of the stoplight system?” Bucky asks abruptly.

 

Steve nods again. “Green, yellow, red, right?”

 

“Yes, exactly,” Bucky says.

 

“I don’t like yellow,” Steve muses.

 

Bucky is quiet and Steve opens his eyes. Bucky has a single eyebrow raised.

 

“You don’t like having a slow down level?” he asks.

 

“No, I don’t like yellow, ” Steve clarifies. “As a color. It’s too bright.”

 

Bucky laughs and lets go of his wrist to pinch his chin between a thumb and forefinger. “Yellow is too bright?”

 

“They’ve done studies on yellow,” Steve insists, “it makes people angry.”

 

“I think that was orange,” Bucky chuckles.

 

“Same difference,” Steve answers with a shrug.

 

“Fine,” Bucky says, shaking his head. “How about a scale of one to five instead?”

 

“For what?” Steve says. Bucky doubles his grip on his chin and Steve realizes he’d been leaning in. “I wan’ a kiss, sir,” he complains.

 

“I’ll tell you what,” Bucky says with a smirk. “I’m going to ask you some questions and every time you answer them, I’ll kiss you.”

 

Steve sticks out his bottom lip. Bucky lets go of his chin and grips his lower lip instead and Steve sucks in a breath, shutting his eyes.

 

“Doesn’t matter what you answer, just that you do, but I want you to practice being honest with me,” Bucky tells him. “Understand?”

 

Steve nods. He likes being honest with Bucky, since it means so much.

 

“Answer out loud,” Bucky tells him.

 

Steve opens his eyes and raises his eyebrows. He gives a light tug at his lower lip pinched between Bucky’s fingers and Bucky grins back at him.

 

“This is mine, baby boy,” he says. He even tugs his lip farther out, forcing his jaw open. “Do you understand?”

 

Steve rolls his tongue over and bites down lightly on it since he can’t work his jaw and Bucky flicks his eyebrows up. “Yes, sir,” Steve says with a little bit of difficulty.

 

“Good,” Bucky offers.

 

Steve raises his eyebrows, then pointedly shuts his eyes. “That was a question,” he mumbles.

 

“I guess it was,” Bucky answers musingly. He doesn’t let go of Steve’s lower lip and Steve is about to open his eyes when Bucky’s mouth presses to his neck.

 

“Hey!” Steve protests, snapping his eyes open.

 

“I didn’t say where I’d kiss you,” Bucky laughs.

 

“That’s cheating,” Steve decides.

 

“I didn’t say where,” Bucky chuckles. “Now. Scale of one to five, honey.”

 

“One to five,” Steve repeats with a nod.

 

“I want to know how you’re feeling,” Bucky says, the traces of playfulness slipping from his voice and manner. He still doesn’t let go of Steve’s lip, though. “That’s going to determine what I do to you later.”

 

Steve feels a shiver go down his spine at what I do to you. “Okay,” he says. He wants Bucky to do whatever he wants to him.

 

“How tired are you?” Bucky asks him. “Five is real energetic and one is bone-dead exhausted.”

 

Steve takes a second to think about it. He woke up around 11:30 and he’d felt pretty rested up until he saw that Bucky wasn’t there. But by now he’s been awake a few hours and he’s had a little bit of coffee.

 

“Four,” he says.

 

“Good boy,” Bucky praises with a grin, then he lets go of his lower lip and Steve shuts his eyes so Bucky can kiss his mouth. Steve chases his lips for a second when Bucky pulls back, until Bucky grabs him by the jaw and holds him still. “One kiss for one answer, doll.”

 

“Fine,” Steve grumbles.

 

Bucky raises his eyebrows. “You talkin’ back to me, honey?”

 

Steve wrinkles his nose. “Maybe?”

 

Bucky tuts at him and lets go of his jaw. “Stick your tongue out,” he says.

 

Steve drops his tongue out of his mouth and Bucky pinches it between his fingers, tugging on it.

 

“You’ll answer my next three questions like this,” Bucky tells him.

 

“Yethir,” Steve mumbles. Bucky tugs on his tongue again and Steve breaks into a smile.

 

“Get that look off your face,” Bucky orders. Steve grins wider for a second, then drops it and looks up at Bucky with big eyes. “Better,” he says with a nod. “Do you know what touch starvation is?”

 

Steve shrugs a shoulder. Bucky raises his eyebrows.

 

“Nah weally,” Steve sighs. He can’t make R sounds with his tongue sticking out, apparently. Bucky kisses his cheek and Steve briefly shuts his eyes.

 

“People crave physical contact,” Bucky says. “When they don’t get enough, they get antsy, emotional, it can worsen anxiety, depression, insomnia. Enough is relative to each person, not everybody gets touch starved. Make sense?”

 

“Yeth,” Steve answers.

 

Bucky tugs on his tongue, then without letting go he leans in and kisses Steve’s tongue. Steve makes a choked off sound and curls his toes up.

 

“Good baby,” Bucky murmurs. Steve makes another involuntary, strangled noise and Bucky smirks at him briefly before going serious again. “On a scale of one to five, one being you don’t want me to stop touching you at any point the rest of today and five being you’d be alright with us not touching much at all, how touch starved do you feel?”

 

Steve starts to think about it, then wrinkles his nose and Bucky tacks on: “Now, I don’t mean you want us to not touch, I mean you wouldn’t feel bad after a few minutes if we weren’t touching.”

 

“Kay,” Steve mutters. He closes his lips and teeth on his tongue so he can swallow the saliva pooled in his mouth.

 

“Think about it,” Bucky tells him firmly and Steve nods.

 

Touch starved. How touch starved is Steve? This morning when Bucky snatched him up and nearly squeezed the air out of him with how hard he’d hugged him, Steve had felt relieved. And in the car, Bucky petting his hair calmed his wild thoughts. In the diner, Steve had been angry with himself not Bucky when Bucky was being tactile, and he was upset because he was so affected by it. He thinks about Bucky letting go of him, trying to predict how he might react to it, and his vision of Bucky releasing his grip turns into Bucky stepping back and walking away and Steve grabs a fistful of Bucky’s shirt without meaning to.

 

“You’re okay,” Bucky interrupts his thoughts; he lets go of Steve’s tongue and grabs him by the waist to haul him in. “I’m right here.”

 

“Maybe a one,” Steve mutters under his breath.

 

“That’s fine,” Bucky tells him, “that just means I’m gonna be petting you all day, okay?”

 

Steve gives a jerky nod. Bucky cups his cheek and kisses him, softly this time. Steve appreciates it. Bucky grabs one of his thighs under the knee and tugs; Steve follows the motion and throws his leg over Bucky’s lap, then leans his arms on his chest and closes his eyes.

 

“You’re fine, sweetheart,” Bucky murmurs to him, then cups his jaw and looks at him with sternness in his eyes. “While we’re shopping, you’re to hold my hand at all times, hear?”

 

“Okay,” Steve mutters. Shouldn’t be too hard. Not clinging to Bucky the way he did in the diner, that would probably be the hard part. “‘S fine.”

 

“You’re not allowed to let go unless I say you can,” Bucky goes on. Steve nods vaguely to confirm he understands so Bucky can continue. “If I’ve got my arm around your waist or shoulders, you may let go, and if I have to let go of your hand, you’re to stand right next to me and keep a hand on my arm. While we’re in the car, you’re to keep your hand on my knee if I have to have both hands on the wheel, but not do nothing funny, alright?”

 

“Okay,” Steve repeats, a little startled.

 

“You may not walk out of reach from me,” Bucky says and Steve blinks at him. “If I have to take even half a step to touch you, you’re too far. Is that clear?”

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve answers.

 

“Will that be a problem?” Bucky asks, raising his eyebrows.

 

Steve figures he’s asking if he’s okay with being ordered around like this, outside of the bedroom and for non-sexual purposes. He shakes his head, adding: “No, sir.” He’s fine with it. Bucky ordering him not to let go will prevent him from being self-conscious that maybe he’s being too clingy after all. Bucky gives a nod and brushes a touch to his cheek.

 

“I think I owe you three kisses,” he says in a gentler tone.

 

“Oh, yeah,” Steve mumbles. Problem and clear and alright, those were all questions. Hear, too. “Actually, four.”

 

“Four,” Bucky agrees.

 

Bucky cups Steve's cheek and pulls him closer. Steve closes his eyes and Bucky presses their lips together softly again. Bucky pulls back for a moment, then returns and kisses him with vigor. Steve pushes his arms around Bucky’s neck, opening his lips for Bucky’s tongue to intrude and lets his mouth hang open even when Bucky breaks the kiss. Bucky then kisses his both of his cheeks and Steve finds his eyes blinking open.

 

“Good baby,” Bucky murmurs and Steve shivers again at the phrase. “Scale of one to five again, one is not at all and five is totally okay. How do you feel about being in public right now?”

 

“In public?” Steve repeats. “Like, crowds and stuff?”

 

“Having to interact with people you don’t know well,” Bucky clarifies. “One to five.”

 

Steve exhales through his mouth heavily and shrugs. “Uh, a five, I guess?”

 

Bucky raises his eyebrows. “You guess?”

 

Steve bites his lip and drops his gaze. “I’ve never really had an issue with strangers,” he muses under his breath.

 

“You were shy with Adrianna,” Bucky points out.

 

Steve opens his mouth, but then stops. He lets out a quiet huh. “I was,” he mutters in assent. He thinks back, remembering the moment that Adrianna turned her motherly smile on him and he shrank from it, then looks down at the knot of Bucky’s tie and drops a hand to fiddle with it. “I think that was because…" he starts. "I don’ know.”

 

“What?” Bucky prompts.

 

“Well, she –” Steve starts, then breaks off. He’s gone shy again. He closes his hand around Bucky’s tie, then lets go and smooths it out, just to curl a finger into his collar. “I don’t know, she was… kind.”

 

“You’re unused to that kinda attention,” Bucky says gently. Steve nods. “That’s alright, baby. How do you think you’ll deal while we’re shopping? One to five.”

 

“Four,” Steve says. He’s never had problems with strangers or crowds, but Bucky has a point, he was shy with Adrianna. He can give himself a little breathing room with a four.

 

Bucky kisses his nose and Steve smiles just a little. “You owe me two more,” he says when Bucky opens his mouth.

 

Bucky raises his eyebrows again, then huffs out a breath. “I guess I do,” he says. Steve settles his weight on his assbones and shuts his eyes, chin tilted up, and Bucky’s lips press to his neck. Steve rolls his eyes under his lids and tips his head farther back, to let Bucky kiss the knot of his throat.

 

“Very good, baby,” Bucky tells him. Steve smiles, his face aimed at the ceiling and his eyes shut. “We’re almost back home. We’re gonna take a different car and go buy your charcoals and your oil pastels, and then we’ll go get you your collar and your new toys. One last question.”

 

“Shoot,” Steve mumbles.

 

“Scale of one to five, one is you’re not that thrilled, five is you can’t wait,” Bucky says, and his fingers close on Steve’s jaw and pull his face down; Steve opens his eyes and meets his gaze. His eyes really are gorgeous. Maybe he’ll draw them once he’s got the stuff to do them justice. “How much do you want me to tie you up?”

 

Steve breaks into a grin. “Five,” he says happily.

 

Bucky’s lips slowly curl up at the corners. He sweeps a finger down Steve’s face and tucks it under his chin. “Alright,” he murmurs. “I know what I’m gonna do to you.”

 

“Surprise me,” Steve says.

 

Bucky grips his chin and tugs him in for a firm kiss. “I’ll do that,” he says when he’s done.

 

Someone knocks on the partition; Steve, having somehow forgotten that the bodyguards were just on the other side of it, jumps and Bucky’s arms jerk to lock around his waist.

 

“We’re pulling up to the garage, boss,” Hunter’s muffled voice comes.

 

“Alright!” Bucky calls back. Steve blinks at his abrupt volume and raises a hand to poke at his ear canal pointedly. “Aw, shuddup,” Bucky grumbles to him, “that thing’s nearly soundproof.”

 

“That why you’re fine messing around back here?” Steve mutters. Bucky raises his eyebrows. “What, you said you don’t like audiences.”

 

“I did say that,” Bucky says musingly. He smiles at Steve and reaches up to flick a finger under his chin. “I guess you deserve somethin’ nice for listening, huh?”

 

“If you’re gonna shower me with gifts every time I listen to you I’m gonna want hearing aids,” Steve tells him.

 

Bucky frowns speculatively at him. “Are you hearing impaired?”

 

“Eh,” Steve says with a shrug. “Just a little bit. Not really enough to need hearing aids, I was kidding.”

 

“You want a checkup?” Bucky asks.

 

Steve shakes his head. “Not anytime soon. Doctors said I’d need ‘em by thirty.”

 

“When’s the last time you had a physical?” Bucky asked.

 

“Uh…” Steve answers.

 

Bucky raises his eyebrows. “I’ll set one up,” he says dryly.

 

“I don’t have insurance,” Steve says hastily. “I usually just go to a free clinic.”

 

“I’ll put you on mine,” Bucky replies easily. Steve’s jaw slips open. “What?”

 

“Can you even do that?” Steve asks disbelievingly. “We’re not – We’re just dating –”

 

“We live together,” Bucky interrupts. “And I can do whatever I want, I own the company.”

 

Steve lifts his eyebrows. “I guess that’d do it,” he mutters. “I guess that also takes care of the fact that I have about a thousand pre-existing conditions.”

 

“My plan covers everything,” Bucky says dryly. “As of right now. Because I said so.”

 

Steve gives him a look. Bucky flicks his ear and Steve snorts, dropping the expression and his gaze.

 

“No back-talk,” Bucky tells him, “not even non-verbal.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve chuckles.

 

“What kinda pre-existing conditions we talkin’, anyway?” Bucky asks. “Other than being a brat.”

 

“Rude,” Steve says, but he's laughing because Bucky isn't wrong. Bucky huffs and flicks Steve's ear again and Steve ducks his head to avoid his hand. "Okay, I get it!" Steve laughs.

 

The car stops. Steve lifts his head, then picks himself up off Bucky’s lap and drops onto the bench next to him. Bucky snatches Steve's hand off the seat and raises it to his lips. He kisses the back of his hand and Steve smiles softly.

 

The door opens and Bucky slips out, picking up his phone and dropping it into a pocket, but doesn’t drop Steve’s hand in the process. Steve’s forced to shuffle quickly to the door and step out of the car with Bucky’s hand locked on his. He figures that this is the start of the hold my hand rule.

 

"Mr. Rogers and I will be going back out on our own," Bucky tells the bodyguards; Steve almost sniggers at being called Mr. Rogers, because seriously, Bucky, what the hell? "You two can take it easy the rest of the day."

 

"Sure thing, boss," Luke says.

 

Steve looks down the line of cars, seeing in the shadows at the end of the garage the stretch limo they used on Saturday morning, as the two bodyguards walk to the end of the Benz. Bucky gives a tug on Steve’s hand he starts walking, only for Bucky to stop at the end of the car with the bodyguards.

 

Steve raises an eyebrow, but before he can ask what they’re doing Luke opens the trunk of the car. It’s empty, or at least it appears that way, as Luke reaches into the far depths of the trunk and fumbles for something until the bottom of the trunk pops up. Bucky reaches down and lifts it, revealing an impressive array of guns.

 

“Whoa,” Steve mutters.

 

Bucky lets go of Steve's hand to pull off his jacket, then takes a holster from the trunk and pulls it over his shoulders. Steve takes a shuffling step closer to him, remembering his rules, while Bucky buckles the harness and shoves the lower straps under the waistband of his slacks to hide them. He takes out a revolver, checks the chambers, and shoves it into the holster before picking up an extra bag of bullets and tucking it into his pocket. Bucky then withdraws a significantly smaller pistol and looks at Steve.

 

“You know how to shoot?” Bucky asks.

 

“Kinda?” Steve answers. He takes the gun from Bucky with a distasteful look, though. “I mean, if it’s not a peashooter.”

 

Bucky plucks the gun out of his fingers with a disapproving scowl, puts it back and takes out a slightly larger handgun. “How’s this one, your majesty?”

 

“Better,” Steve says, taking it. “Uh. Why am I taking this?”

 

“Because these two clowns are staying here,” Bucky says with a jerk of his thumb toward Hunter and Luke. Neither of them look amused or impressed. “And in the event we get separated, you need something to defend yourself with.”

 

“I do have Mace upstairs,” Steve tells him self-importantly.

 

“Something effective,” Bucky answers blithely. “Ever used a switchblade?”

 

“No,” Steve says. Bucky pushes a heavy knife into his palm anyway. “Do you do this every time you go out?”

 

“Yes,” Bucky says calmly. He holds out a holster and straps and Steve looks between his two occupied hands until Bucky sighs and lifts the hem of his overlarge sweater. “Arms up.”

 

Steve raises his eyebrows but lifts his elbows. Bucky wraps the straps of the holster around Steve's waist, buckling them and taking the gun from Steve to push it into the holster. Bucky takes the knife, too, and puts it in the front pocket of Steve’s jeans, hooking the clip on the hem. Bucky drops his sweater and Steve lowers his arms.

 

“There,” Bucky says in satisfaction. He shuts the false bottom of the trunk shut, then the lid of it, and takes Steve’s hand again. "Thanks, boys."

 

Luke and Hunter walk around and ahead of them, as Bucky strides down the line of cars and Steve hastens his steps to keep up with him. Bucky stops abruptly, Steve stumbles into him, and the two bodyguards begin inspecting a sleek but dimly lit vehicle. Luke lifts the hood and Hunter sticks his head in the trunk, and after five minutes they retreat with nods to Bucky. Steve glances over his shoulder as they walk towards the exit into the apartment building and Bucky tugs on his hand.

 

Steve redirects his gaze and Bucky pulls him toward the passenger seat of the car. He opens the door and offers a slight bow to Steve, a corner of his lip curled.

 

“Dragă mea,” Bucky says in a soft tone.

 

“I have no idea what you just said,” Steve answers.

 

He gets into the car, though. Bucky catches his hand when he reaches for the seatbelt, then does it himself. Bucky meets his gaze and Steve licks his lips, and in answer, Bucky grasps Steve's chin and kisses him gently.

 

“It sounds nice,” Steve mumbles.

 

“It is nice,” Bucky tells him. He pecks another kiss to Steve’s lips and withdraws, shutting the door of the car. Steve looks around the interior while Bucky walks around to the driver’s side; everything is black leather, and in the low light, he can’t see much else.

 

Bucky gets into the car, clips his seatbelt into place and presses a button rather than inserting a key. The dashboard lights switch on while the engine lets out a loud purr as it starts and Steve immediately is entranced by the digital display in the center of the dashboard.

 

“Wait, don’t put it in gear,” Steve says hastily. Bucky’s hand hovers over the gear shift and he frowns at him while Steve tugs out his phone and opens his BlueTooth settings.

 

“What are you doing?” Bucky asks. Steve presses a button on the display.

 

“Playing music,” Steve answers. His phone pairs and he grins as he opens Spotify.

 

The car’s speakers come to life and Steve turns his grin on Bucky. Bucky rolls his eyes, puts the car in gear and looks over his shoulder to reverse despite the fact that there’s a backup camera. Steve happily adjusts his queue on Spotify, then turns up the volume and fiddles with some of the settings.

 

Bucky puts the car in drive and the engine continues to purr in the way only top of the line muscle cars do. Steve leans back in his seat and puts his knock-off Vans on the dashboard, raising his hands to rest them under his head and grin at nothing.

 

“What’d I say earlier?” Bucky says.

 

Steve looks over at him. Bucky, without looking, reaches over and takes one of his hands. Steve sits up straighter and squeezes Bucky’s hand.

 

“Sorry,” he mumbles.

 

“Nah, not a thing you’re allowed to be sorry for,” Bucky says. He puts Steve’s hand on his leg and takes the wheel again, pulling onto another level of the garage. “It’s fine if you forget as long as touch me as soon as you notice.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve answers. Bucky picks up his hand then and presses a kiss to the back of it, putting it back down even as Steve smiles reflexively.

 

He shifts in his seat to face him, then curls his fingers into Bucky’s pant leg. He picks up his phone with his other hand, then opens his messages and smiles wider at the video from Sir.

 

“I have to stop at my office first,” Bucky says. Steve downloads the video, then opens his own camera and takes a picture of Bucky just because he can. “Then we’re going to the grocery store.”

 

“Grocery store?” Steve repeats, looking up.

 

“I got plans,” Bucky answers. Steve opens his mouth, then just blinks. Bucky glances at him and smiles. “You still want to be surprised?”

 

“What kinda surprise is coming from the grocery store?” Steve asks him suspiciously.

 

“Dinner,” Bucky says with a snort. “Get your mind outta the gutter, Steve.”

 

Steve rolls his eyes. “My bad,” he drawls mockingly. “Are we going to buy sex toys after we go to the grocery store?”

 

“We’re going to buy charcoals,” Bucky tells him. “And oil pastels, and whatever else you want.”

 

“What if I want one of everything?” Steve counters.

 

“Within reason,” Bucky says with raised eyebrows. Steve snorts and looks back at his phone. “After that, we’ll buy sex toys,” Bucky adds.

 

Steve grins and squeezes Bucky’s thigh. “Thank you, sir.”

 

Bucky smiles out the windshield, then drops it when he pulls up to a guard tower. He lowers the tinted window, but doesn’t even have to say anything before the gate shudders and lifts. Bucky puts his window back up and Steve shakes his head as they pull out of the garage. He looks over his shoulder to watch the gate shut. He thinks he sees the guard making the sign of the cross and he snorts.

 

“Steve,” Bucky says. Steve looks back at him; his face is serious again. “I want you to know that I’m not doing anything intense to you. We’re just gonna have a quiet evening.”

 

Steve frowns at him, confused. “But you said you’d tie me up?”

 

“And I will,” Bucky promises. He drops his hand from the steering wheel to take Steve’s again, squeezing it. “But you’re still recovering from dropping, let alone…” Bucky lets out a long sigh and Steve just continues frowning. “I don’t know, I just don’t want to put you through that again. I probably shouldn’t have even spanked you like that last night –”

 

“Why?” Steve demands.

 

“‘Cause –” Bucky starts, then breaks off to exhale sharply again. “You sure you’re feeling alright? After Sunday?”

 

Steve shrugs a shoulder. “Probably not,” he says. Bucky’s face turns sour. “But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want you to spank me,” Steve adds hastily. “I asked for it, didn’t I?”

 

“You did,” Bucky muttered.

 

“And you gave me what I wanted,” Steve insists. “And – and yeah, this morning ended up shitty, but you came back, and last night was still incredible. Who says a good fucking is bad coping mechanism?”

 

“That’s pretty shitty coping mechanism,” Bucky grumbles. “Sex won’t fix everything.”

 

“A good fucking from someone I trust,” Steve restates. Bucky’s expression loses some of its sour qualities. “You said it yourself, oxytocin’s good for you. They call it the love drug for a reason, Buck.”

 

Bucky lifts his hand and kisses the back of it again before letting it fall back to his leg. His expression is still tight, though. Steve lifts his hand from his thigh and brushes his cheek. “Stop beating yourself up over this morning. I forgive you.”

 

Bucky sighs heavily. “I knew better,” he says.

 

“But I forgive you,” Steve insists. “And we’re gonna eat breakfast together every morning now, so you won’t let me wake up alone and it won’t happen again.”

 

Bucky clenches his jaw. Steve pokes at the muscle. “I forgive you,” he says a third time. “I mean it. You won’t let it happen again.”

 

“I’m not perfect,” Bucky grumbles.

 

Steve rolls his eyes. “Alright, sure, but it’s not like you let me drop on purpose. You didn’t know that it would happen if you went to work.” When Bucky’s jaw doesn’t unclench, Steve drops his hand onto his arm and squeezes his bicep. “You didn’t know it would happen.”

 

“I still knew better,” Bucky says.

 

“Buck,” Steve groans, “I say I forgive you, you say thank you and we let it go. I’m okay, I swear, and I forgive you, so stop being a jerk to yourself for it.”

 

Bucky exhales heavily again. Steve leans a little toward him, then reaches out with his right hand, too, to touch his shoulder. “I forgive you,” he says emphatically. “Seriously.”

 

“Alright,” Bucky finally admits. “Thank you. I’ll do my best to deserve.”

 

“Buy me something pretty,” Steve answers easily with a smile and Bucky snorts, shaking his head, but then he goes on. “I’m kidding. Forgive yourself, jerk.”

 

“Forgive myself?” Bucky repeats with a laugh.

 

“Forgive yourself!” Steve insists. “Because I said so.”

 

“You’re a punk,” Bucky chuckles.

 

“Forgive yourself,” Steve tells him. “Or I’ll tell your cronies you like being called Daddy.”

 

Bucky rolls his eyes. “If you say so,” he laughs.

 

“I mean it!” Steve snorts, shaking Bucky’s hand. “I’m serious, Buck. I forgive you, so you should, too.”

 

Bucky pulls his hand up and kisses it. “Okay,” he agrees. “I’ll try.”

 

Steve smiles a little and drops his temple against the seat. That’s good enough for now.

 

“When are you going to schedule that shrink appointment?” Bucky asks abruptly.

 

“I was gonna call tomorrow,” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky glances at him, then squeezes his hand. “You can call now,” he suggests.

 

Steve wrinkles his nose. “Tomorrow,” he says.

 

“I can call,” Bucky offers. Steve lifts his head and Bucky shoots him a smile. “Don’t like phone calls, do you?”

 

“No,” Steve says under his breath. He glances at his phone, then unlocks it and pulls up Dr. Madini’s office. He dials, the music cuts off and he turns BlueTooth off on the call and holds the phone out to Bucky.

 

Bucky lets go of Steve's hand to take the phone and Steve puts his hand back on Bucky's thigh. Then he shifts again and puts his other hand on Bucky’s thigh, shifting his left hand to tuck his fingers into Bucky’s pocket. Bucky holds the phone to his ear and Steve can almost hear it ringing.

 

“Hey,” Bucky answers the distant greeting. “I need to schedule an appointment for Steve Rogers with –”

 

He pauses to glance at Steve who hisses: “Madini, Dr. Larah Madini,” at him.

 

“Dr. Madini,” Bucky repeats into the phone. “As soon as possible.” Steve hears the faint voice of the receptionist and Bucky tilts his head towards him. “Monday at 1:45?”

 

“Sure,” Steve answers.

 

“That’ll do,” Bucky says into the phone. “Thank you.”

 

There’s a reply, and Bucky drops the phone from his ear; he hangs up without looking and holds it back out to Steve. Steve takes it, plays the music again, then puts his hands back on Bucky’s leg. Today is Tuesday. Monday gives him almost a week to think about what he needs to say.

 

“How’d you get appointments there without insurance?” Bucky asks.

 

“Got an in,” Steve answers. “‘Member, I told you about my friend?”

 

Bucky makes a quiet noise of understanding.

 

“They keep me off the books,” Steve says.

 

“You wanna stay off the books or what?” Bucky asks. “You’re on my insurance now.”

 

Steve shrugs. “I don’t know. Probably not. Ask me again later.”

 

Bucky looks at the road with serious eyes, his brows drawn together and his lips in a thin line. Steve reaches up and lightly tugs on Bucky's earlobe.

 

“You keep makin’ that face, it might stick that way,” Steve warns softly. “Stop overthinking. I’m fine.”

 

“I’m not overthinking,” Bucky mutters.

 

“Then what’s with the face?” Steve demands. He pokes Bucky’s cheek, making him break into a scornful look and snatch his hand.

 

“I’m driving here, brat,” Bucky says. He squeezes Steve’s fingers and drops his hand, and Steve puts it back on his thigh obediently.

 

“I’m fine,” Steve insists, though. “You’re not going to scar me for life by smacking my ass a few times.”

 

“Honest?” Bucky asks abruptly. “And I’m serious, Steve, if you ‘n’ me isn’t helping you and you don’t tell me –”

 

“I promise,” Steve interrupts. “I’ll tell you if I need a break.”

 

Bucky gives the steering wheel a firm nod. He grips it with white knuckles and Steve lifts a hand to touch his elbow.

 

“Same goes for you,” he says softly.

 

“I know,” Bucky mutters.

 

“You told me you didn’t have the time or patience to work on a relationship,” Steve says and Bucky’s frown tightens. “Hey, quit makin’ that ugly face, it ain’t becoming.”

 

“What’s your point?” Bucky sighs.

 

“You’re being pretty patient now,” Steve answers calmly. He squeezes Bucky’s arm. “Thank you. That means a lot.”

 

Bucky exhales heavily again and he relaxes his grip somewhat on the wheel, then lets go with his right hand to take Steve’s and bring it back to his lips. He kisses the back of Steve’s hand twice, then flips it and kisses his palm. Bucky holds his hand against his mouth for a second, then kisses his knuckles and puts it on his leg.

 

“Make sure you ask your shrink about us,” Bucky murmurs. “Until then, nothing more heavy than talk.”

 

“And tying me up,” Steve repeats. He pinches Bucky’s thigh lightly. “Because you said you would.”

 

“And tying you up,” Bucky sighs. Then he breaks into a light smile and shakes his head. “I swear, you’re somethin’ else, Stevie.”

 

“Good thing you caught me,” Steve agrees. He turns to face forward in his seat again, taking away his right hand and curling his left over Bucky’s thigh. Bucky smiles again and Steve’s lips curl in a similar grin as he looks out the windshield.

 

“What do you want for dinner?” Bucky then asks.

 

“Depends on what you’re planning to do to me,” Steve says, raising his eyebrows.

 

“Fair point,” Bucky agrees. Steve taps a finger against his leg. “I have an idea.”

 

“What?” Steve asks.

 

“Would you want to try hand-feeding?”

 

Steve blinks once, then looks at Bucky with his eyebrows as far up his forehead as possible. “Do I want to what?”

 

“Hand-feeding,” Bucky repeats. “Y’know, I feed you by hand?”

 

“Um,” Steve answers.

 

“Think about it,” Bucky says. “Don’t answer me now. Hell, talk about that with your shrink. But maybe it would help.”

 

“To make me associate food with sex?” Steve asks with an arched eyebrow.

 

“No, no, with me,” Bucky corrects. He lets go of the wheel to gesture and Steve finds himself watching his fingers move as he speaks. “With how I make you feel.”

 

“You make me feel horny,” Steve says. Bucky breaks into a brief smile and Steve does, too, laughing. “What would you do?”

 

“Well,” Bucky starts. “I got that floor pillow I was talkin’ about. What if I had you kneel for me and fed you, like, fruit and stuff, start small. Kept up that cheesy shit you hate so much so when you feel shitty, you can remember me feeding you and calling you sweet names. You don’t even have to be kneeling, you could sit in my lap or lay down or whatever you wanted. Most submissives like being on the floor over anything else, is all.”

 

Steve opens his mouth and pauses. Bucky did feed him Sunday night when he’d been in shock; it hadn’t been hand to mouth the way Steve thinks Bucky is implying now, but… Perhaps…

 

“I’ll talk about it with Dr. Madini,” Steve says slowly.

 

“It’s just a suggestion,” Bucky says. He reaches over, smiling, and brushes Steve’s cheek with a knuckle. “I just like sweet talkin’ you.”

 

“Shuddup,” Steve grumbles, batting his hand away. Bucky laughs at him, then ruffles his hair and Steve protests half-heartedly, waving at his hand.

 

“I can sweet talk my baby if I want,” Bucky insists to him and Steve grumbles vague threats under his breath, feeling his ears go hot. “I got another idea. You’re my babydoll today.”

 

“What makes that any different from most days?” Steve mutters, blushing furiously.

 

“Because that way I can be sweet to you all I like,” Bucky says happily. He pinches Steve’s cheek and Steve shoves his hand away despite his grin. “You’re gonna be my dolly tonight, sweetheart.”

 

“Cheesy bastard,” Steve quietly protests on principle.

 

“Shush, dolly,” Bucky laughs. “That blush tells me you like this.”

 

Steve ducks his head, wishing he could cover his red ears with his hands but his left hand isn’t allowed to be removed from Bucky’s leg.

 

“What does my babydoll want for dinner?” Bucky asks smugly.

 

“The hearts of my enemies,” Steve grumbles.

 

“Did you say chicken nuggets?” Bucky says, cupping a hand to his ear. “You want dinosaur shaped or penguin shaped, dolly?”

 

Steve rolls his eyes. “If you’re buying me kids’ food, I want pizza rolls.”

 

“Pizza rolls it is,” Bucky declares. “Whatever the fuck those are.”

 

“God, you’re so old,” Steve sighs.

 

“I’m thirty-eight,” Bucky reiterates. Steve uses his right hand to flip him the bird. “Ah, ah, no back-talk, dolly.”

 

Steve sticks his tongue out at him. “You’re driving,” he says smugly, “you can’t pinch my tongue.”

 

Bucky holds out his hand. Steve looks at him, then at the road, then at him again and says: “You’re crazy.”

 

“I like makin’ your face a mess,” Bucky tells him happily. He snaps his fingers. “Tongue.”

 

Steve huffs out a laugh, then shifts in his seat and sticks his tongue out. Bucky grasps it between his thumb and forefinger and gives a light tug.

 

“Ya clazy,” Steve says with difficulty.

 

“I’ll let go if I need both hands,” Bucky answers simply. “Besides –”

 

He turns right into a parking garage and stops at a gate. “We’re at my office,” he finishes.

 

“Clazy,” Steve repeats.

 

Bucky shoots him a smile, then puts down his window and pulls a badge from his jacket. He scans it and the gate lifts with a clang. The person in the booth doesn’t even look up. Bucky puts the badge away before taking the wheel again and starting to cruise through the levels of the garage, holding Steve’s tongue the entire time. They go up all eight levels and Steve has drool pooling on his tongue before Bucky pulls into a parking spot.

 

Bucky unclips his seatbelt, then shifts in his seat and raises his eyebrows at Steve. Steve raises his eyebrows back and Bucky just smirks.

 

“Made a real mess there, doll,” he says. He tugs Steve forward by his tongue and kisses him, tongue sticking out and all. Steve grabs Bucky's lapel and tie and digs his nails in, until Bucky lets go of his tongue and curls a fist into his hair to pull Steve back.

 

“What are you going to do with your hands while we’re inside?” Bucky demands.

 

“Hold yours,” Steve answers. Bucky nods and pecks his lips, then opens the center console and takes out a napkin.

 

“Hold still,” Bucky says, though Steve wouldn’t dare move even without Bucky's hand fisted in his hair. Bucky raises the napkin and wipes his mouth and chin off, and Steve leans in again. “You want something, baby boy?” Bucky asks.

 

Steve just nods, shutting his eyes.

 

“Use your words, honey,” Bucky tells him. “What do you want?”

 

“A kiss,” Steve mumbles, his ears heating.

 

“Then you can have one,” Bucky answers. Steve presses forward again and Bucky’s fingers tighten. “I said hold still, dolly.”

 

Steve stills, like he wants, and Bucky kisses his cheek. Steve waits while Bucky trails kisses down his jaw, pulls his head back with his grip on his hair, and just waits. He’s intent on being patient; Bucky will give him what he wants. Bucky always gives him what he wants.

 

Bucky bites at a spot under his jaw, then kisses his chin. Steve parts his lips before Bucky even reaches his mouth, but is rewarded for his patience with a long, open-mouthed kiss.

 

Bucky pulls back and Steve opens his eyes, blinking a few times. Bucky then laughs and Steve makes a face at him.

 

“That undid all the cleaning up I put in,” Bucky says. With his other hand, he taps a spot on Steve’s neck. “That’s gonna bruise.”

 

“Good,” Steve answers.

 

Bucky smiles widely at him. Then he holds up the napkin again. “Hold still,” he chuckles.

 

Steve sticks his chin out and shuts his eyes while Bucky wipes off his face and neck, drying off his kisses. His hand drops a minute later and Steve opens his eyes to find Bucky smiling fondly at him.

 

“You’re so sweet,” Bucky murmurs. He drops the napkin and instead presses his palm to Steve’s cheek. “So pretty.”

 

“‘M not pretty, ” Steve mumbles petulantly.

 

“You’re pretty if I say you are,” Bucky insists gently, then kisses the tip of his nose. “My pretty doll, hmm?”

 

Steve swallows, his heartbeat skipping like a record. Bucky kisses his cheek, the one not held by his palm.

 

“What are you, dragă mea?” Bucky says in his ear.

 

“Your pretty doll,” Steve echoes quietly.

 

“Very good,” Bucky tells him. He kisses his ear. “Good baby,” he says, and Steve shivers in his grip. Then Bucky relaxes his hold on his hair and leaves him with one last peck to his lips. “Wait for me,” he says, and gets out of the car.

 

Steve slumps back against his seat and takes the opportunity to take a deep breath. Then he grins like a lovesick fool and shakes his head at the ceiling. How quickly this game of seduction flipped on his head. Bucky opens his door and Steve takes his offered hand, letting Bucky put a steadying hand on his waist as Steve gets out and steps into Bucky's chest.

 

Steve hugs him tightly and Bucky kisses his hair.

 

“You alright, baby?” Bucky prompts.

 

Steve nods. “Thank you,” he mumbles.

 

Bucky kisses his hair again, letting his hands massage up and down Steve’s back. “No need to thank me, dolly.”

 

“How about I do it anyway?” Steve says. He lifts his face and stands up on his toes to kiss Bucky’s cheek. “Thank you, sir.”

 

Bucky gives him a soft smile. “You’re welcome, honey.”

 

Steve echoes his smile and Bucky reaches up to take one of his hands. He laces their fingers together, then squeezes Steve’s waist before letting go. Steve falls into step beside him as Bucky begins walking toward an elevator, then curls his other hand around Bucky’s elbow and drops his temple onto his shoulder. Bucky turns his head to the side and kisses the top of his hair once, and Steve smiles at the ground. He’s grateful Bucky told him in no uncertain terms that he was not only allowed but encouraged to cling to him. Steve, now that he’s no longer worried about weirding Bucky out, finds clinging to Bucky comforting.

 

Bucky takes his badge back out and swipes it at the elevator. The call button lights up green and Bucky presses it, and almost immediately the doors part. Fortunately, there’s no one in it, and Steve follows Bucky’s lead inside.

 

Of the vast display of floor choices, Bucky presses the button for the 47th floor and leans on one of the handrails. Steve leans on him, and after a second Bucky extracts his arm from Steve’s grip to wrap it around his shoulders. He kisses Steve's hair again.

 

Steve watches the counter above the doors. They were already adjacent to the 8th floor, and the counter rises a floor for every second or two. Eventually, the elevator comes to a halt and the doors chime before parting. Bucky withdraws his arm from Steve’s shoulders and takes his hand before exiting the elevator, and Steve follows a step or two behind him.

 

Steve, looking around, thinks that Bucky’s office is strangely… boring. There are cubicles and men and women in business casual dress working on computers or using phones. Bucky strides down the center of the sea of cubicles to where Steve can see a bank of closed offices. A few familiar looking suits patrol the cubicles, some stationed outside the offices, and Bucky heads for one flanked by two intimidating bodyguards standing at parade rest. Steve looks around, and many of the cubicle occupants are watching them with confusion in their eyes.

 

Bucky scans his badge on the door’s lock, and it beeps and turns green for Bucky to grasp the handle and open the door. He pushes the door open and guides Steve inside before shutting it tightly.

 

“Let’s get this over with,” Bucky says in a tired tone. Steve schools his expression, so as not to be startled by the frightened-looking man – smooth, bald head shining with sweat and heavy bags under his eyes and nails white against his dark skin as he grips the desk – behind the desk or the two bodyguards holding guns to his head. Obviously, this isn't actually Bucky's office.

 

Romanoff is also in the room. She looks at Steve, then raises her eyebrows at Bucky. Bucky ignores her totally and steers Steve to an armchair.

 

“Sit,” Bucky says.

 

Steve raises his eyebrows, too, but drops into the armchair. Bucky squeezes his hand and gives him a look that says be patient before letting go of him. Steve props his chin up on a fist while Bucky pulls the gun from under his jacket.

 

“I don’t even know who you are,” Bucky says to the man behind the desk. “Yet I’m told you’ve been providing access to our books to somebody. I don’t care who you are, I only care who you’re working for.”

 

“Don’t bother denying it,” Romanoff sighs when the man opens his mouth.

 

Bucky picks up a placard on the desk. “Your name is Binter?”

 

The man nods fearfully.

 

Bucky nods and drops the placard back onto the desk. He then reaches across and grabs Binter by the tie, yanking him forward.

 

“I’m a very busy man so you really should be counting yourself lucky that I even had time to attend this meeting,” Bucky tells Binter, slowly beginning to tighten the tie. “Do you got family, Binter?”

 

Binter shakes his head rapidly. Bucky yanks the tail of the tie and Binter chokes somewhat. This is not the first interrogation Steve has sat in on and the sight of Binter's fearful eyes doesn't phase him. The man should've known better.

 

“Shame,” Bucky says. “I might have let you live if you had kids. You didn’t even give important information, you’re a very bad rat, y’know? As it is, you’ve got two choices. You tell me now who you were working for, or I let Natalia take you downtown. Natalia worked for the KGB, did you know that?”

 

“No, sir,” Binter squeaks.

 

Steve stuffs a fist in his mouth to avoid snorting; Bucky doesn’t react at all. He yanks down on Binter’s tie and Binter slams into the desk with a yelp and a crack from his skull.

 

“You should also count yourself lucky that I don’t have time to take you downtown myself,” Bucky tells him. “But I promised my Omega I’d take him shopping, and honestly I’d much rather visit every shop on Fifth Avenue than get my shoes dirty.”

 

Steve smiles behind his fist at that. He likes Bucky calling Steve his Omega. He likes the affirmation that it's true.

 

“You got an Omega, Binter?” Bucky asks.

 

“I do,” Binter whimpers.

 

“Then you know what I mean,” Bucky says. He twists Binter’s tie around and cinches it even further; Binter makes a gurgling noise deep in his throat. “So let’s make this quick and I’ll make sure you’re still decent looking enough for an open casket, spare your Omega a bloody body.”

 

Binter lets out a choked sob and Steve drops his hand and his smile.

 

“Who did you sell those numbers to?” Bucky growls.

 

“A PI!” Binter sobs. “Some ex-cop from the 80’s, I swear, he said he’d get me deported if I didn’t help him!”

 

“I want his name,” Bucky demands and cinches the tie tighter.

 

“Roberts,” Binter chokes. Steve can hear his airway collapsing as he struggles to breath. “Thomas.”

 

“I don’t suppose you have a business card,” Bucky asks.

 

Binter’s hand slaps weakly against the desk. “No,” he rasps.

 

“Where’s he located?” Bucky demands. Binter makes several more gurgling noises. His face is turning darker, blackening. “Where?”

 

“Ravens…” Binter’s voice is getting very faint. “Square…”

 

“Ravensquare?” Bucky repeats. Binter nods his head jerkily. “Is that the street or the practice?”

 

“Practice,” Binter chokes out.

 

Bucky cinches the tie tighter. Binter makes a disgusting noise and Steve jerks to his feet.

 

“Let him live,” he blurts out.

 

Binter chokes on the desk and Bucky lifts his gaze, wholly calm, to Steve’s. “What would you suggest I do to him instead?” he asks. He doesn’t release the tie and Steve grabs Bucky's wrist.

 

“Deport him,” he answers.

 

Binter heaves a wretched gasp as Bucky lets go of the tie, then coughs and slumps on the desk. Bucky looks at him distastefully, then puts a hand on Steve’s chest and pushes him backward. He meets Steve's gaze and raises his eyebrows and Steve crosses his arms under Bucky’s’ palm.

 

“You said he didn’t even give out anything important,” Steve tells him in a hiss. “Clearly, the fool was more afraid of being deported than he was of the family. Where’s he from, Sierra Leone, Cameroon? It’s probably worse there than here.”

 

Binter lifts himself up onto his elbows and gives Steve a long look, panting still.

 

“It would be kinder to kill him,” Steve insists quietly. Probably. Binter doesn’t have much of an accent, only enough that he sounds almost foreign, but the sound of him choking to death was too much for Steve to stand. Interrogations are one thing. This is another.

 

Bucky clenches his jaw briefly, then turns around and flicks his fingers at the bodyguards. They grab Binter by the shoulders and slam his torso into the back of his office chair and Bucky trails his gun on Binter. The man glances between Barnes and Steve, looking twice as terrified as before.

 

“You believe in a god, pal?” Bucky asks.

 

Binter’s gaze focuses on Bucky. Slowly, he shakes his head. Bucky cocks the gun, then uncocks it and spins it on his finger before leveling it on Binter again.

 

“Never a bad time to start,” Bucky says. “Where are you from?”

 

“Haiti,” Binter mumbles.

 

Bucky looks over his shoulder at Steve, then sighs and looks back at Binter. “My fella says it would be kinder to kill you,” he says. He steps back and takes the silenced pistol that Romanoff is holding, weighs it with his revolver and puts the revolver away. “And since I’m such a nice guy, I’ll give you two choices. Your Omega gets a sad visit from the local PD, we regret to inform you Mr. Binter was found dead in an alley downtown, it appears to have been a mugging gone wrong, or the two of you take an extended vacation to Haiti starting yesterday.”

 

Bucky gestures with the gun. “And like I said, I got shit to do. I’m gonna count to thirty and if you don’t tell me you wanna live before then, it’s a mugging gone wrong for you.”

 

Binter swallows visibly.

 

“One,” Bucky says. He levels the silenced pistol at Binter’s head.

 

Several expressions flash over Binter’s face in the next few seconds. Steve steps back against the wall, looking at Binter with hard eyes and hoping he’ll pick Haiti over death.

 

Ten seconds pass. Bucky raises his eyebrows. Binter covers his face with his hands and takes a few wheezing breaths. Another five seconds, and Steve looks away, bracing himself.

 

“Ten seconds,” Bucky says.

 

“Okay!” Binter gasps. “Haiti! We’ll go back to Haiti!”

 

Steve turns back. Bucky gives a nod and lifts the gun, training it on the ceiling to release the clip. He hands both to Romanoff before turning away and grabbing Steve by the arm.

 

“See they’re on a plane by tonight,” Bucky announces in a clear dismissal, yanking open the door of the office.

 

Steve gives a last glance over his shoulder at Binter and wonders if he’ll really be on a plane to Haiti by the end of the day, or if the cops will be going to his Omega with regretful information, anyway. Romanoff looks pissed and the bodyguards look shocked. Bucky pulls Steve from the office and yanks the door closed behind them.

Chapter Text

dragă mea

 

Romanoff catches the door before Bucky can slam it, yet Bucky ignores her, his hand closed on Steve’s forearm as he strides forward. Steve glances at Romanoff and she’s staring right at him; he looks away and shrinks closer to Bucky. He ignores the cubicles as Bucky crosses to the elevator, scans his badge and pulls Steve in when the doors open. Romanoff follows still and Bucky jabs the button for the 8th floor of the parking garage with a finger.

 

As soon as the doors shut, Romanoff rounds on Bucky.

 

“What was that?” she asks neutrally.

 

“I’m not in the mood,” Bucky says sharply.

 

Romanoff glares. Bucky lets go of Steve’s arm and instead pulls him against his side. Steve drops his temple against Bucky’s chest, letting himself be pinned under Bucky's arm. Bucky is incredibly tense and Steve, wanting to be helpful, loops his arms around Bucky's waist and grabs his wrists, locking his arms. Being tactile, like Bucky had done not even a few hours previous.

 

“The hell with your mood, ” Romanoff spits out, all neutrality gone from her body language and tone as she squares up in front of Bucky. “What," she hisses, "was that?”

 

“I changed my mind," Bucky says. "Do you have a problem with that, Natasha?” he adds snappishly.

 

“You have never changed your mind like that before,” Romanoff insists.

 

Steve looks over his shoulder and raises his eyebrows at her. She drops her gaze to his briefly before fixing it back on Bucky. Steve doesn't look away.

 

“It’s a day of surprises,” Bucky tells her dryly. “What’s your problem, Natasha?”

 

Romanoff tightens her jaw. The elevator doors open and a pair of office-goers freeze.

 

“Get the next one,” Romanoff snaps at them. Bucky slaps the close door button and the office-goers step back quickly as the doors shut again. The tension in the elevator is unchanged.

 

“Spit it out,” Bucky tells Romanoff.

 

“You don’t change your mind,” Romanoff hisses.

 

“He does now,” Steve mutters under his breath.

 

Romanoff's eight eyes flash angrily at Steve, and Steve remains where he is, leaning calmly on Bucky and returning her gaze levelly. Romanoff narrows her eyes but Steve does not react. He's not afraid of her.

 

“Should you have brought him?” Romanoff asks coldly.

 

“Probably not,” Bucky answers, just as sharp. “But I wasn’t willing to leave him in the car, no more than I’m willing to have this conversation right now.”

 

Steve pats his clavicle. “Don’t worry about me, Buck, I’ve seen worse.”

 

He feels Bucky exhale at that point. A great deal of the tension in Bucky's body flees and Steve squeezes his arms a little, glad to have relieved Bucky of whatever worry he'd had. 

 

“When are you going to have this conversation?” Romanoff demands, however.

 

The elevator doors open again, this time onto the garage. Bucky pushes off from the wall and Steve puts his weight back on his own heels, withdrawing his arms from around Bucky's torso.

 

“Not today,” Bucky tells Romanoff. He pushes Steve out of the elevator and snatches up his hand.

 

“Yasha,” Romanoff calls out angrily.

 

Bucky whips around in his tracks and rounds on her. Steve has to snatch a fistful of his jacket to keep close to him.

 

“Let it go,” Bucky snaps at Romanoff. “Believe it or not, I’ve finally found something that’s more important to me than the family. You of all people should understand that!”

 

Steve tugs on Bucky’s jacket. Romanoff doesn’t say anything, and Bucky withdraws from his accusatory stance facing Romanoff to take his hand and start back toward the car. Steve looks once over his shoulder, and she’s still standing there with a scowl on her face.

 

Bucky yanks open the passenger door. Steve slips into the car and reaches for his seatbelt, but Bucky stops him. Steve looks up and Bucky presses a brief kiss to his knuckles before doing his seatbelt for him. Steve doesn’t protest.

 

“Are you okay?” Bucky asks him quietly.

 

“Fine,” Steve says.

 

Bucky takes a moment to sweep a hand through his hair, then pulls back and shuts the door. Steve cranes his neck to keep an eye on Bucky as he walks around the car, and when he opens the driver door and drops into his seat, Steve reaches out to grasp Bucky's sleeve.

 

“Are you okay?” he asks.

 

Bucky looks contemplatively at the steering wheel, then pushes the ignition and puts the car in reverse. He looks over his shoulder, again ignoring the backup camera, until they’re in the driveway and he drops his hand and gaze to change gears.

 

Steve puts his left hand on Bucky’s thigh. Then he changes his mind, puts his elbow on the center console and leans over to rest his temple on Bucky’s arm.

 

“I’m trying to put an end to the underbelly,” Bucky announces.

 

Steve lifts his head. He wasn't expecting that.

 

“The shell company’s completely self-sufficient,” Bucky goes on. “We don’t need to keep running illegal goods. I’ve been trying to root out ties with other organized crime families for the past five years. Of course, I can’t do it openly, because the mafia’s the mafia, even if you’re the one in charge. And until I can get all the pieces in place, we have a no rat policy.”

 

“I shouldn’t have spoken up,” Steve mutters.

 

“Nah,” Bucky sighs, “you were fine. Hell, me sparing that kid doesn’t even reflect bad on me, he’ll still vanish by the end of the day with no explanation.”

 

“So why was Romanoff mad at you?” Steve asks.

 

Bucky lifts his eyebrows. “She thinks I’m going soft.”

 

“Does she know you’re trying to legitimize the business?” Steve counters.

 

“She’s always known,” Bucky answers with a shrug.

 

“So what’s different?” Steve presses.

 

Bucky lifts his brows higher. He glances briefly at Steve, then says: “Hand.”

 

Steve puts his right hand on Bucky’s leg, then drops his temple against his shoulder again. “It’s because of me, isn’t it?” he says quietly.

 

“I once told her love was for children,” Bucky says softly.

 

A beat passes.

 

“Well,” Steve exhales. “I do act like a teenager.”

 

Bucky breaks into a brief smile, shakes his head, and Steve considers it an accomplishment.

 

“I look like I'm still 18, too,” Steve adds. “So, if teenagers count… What’s the problem?”

 

Bucky shakes his head. “There isn’t one,” he says. He picks up Steve’s hand and kisses it. “Not a problem in the world, amant.”

 

Steve tips his head onto Bucky’s shoulder and pulls out his phone. He connects with the car again and opens Spotify. He scrolls through his songs for a minute, then hits play on one.

 

“I can see what’s happening,” comes from the speakers. “What? – They don’t have a clue!”

 

“Oh, no,” Bucky groans. Steve laughs at him. “No, no, you don’t understand, Stevie, Sasha is obsessed with this movie, I can’t take any more of it!”

 

“Sasha has good taste,” Steve insists.

 

“Our trio’s down to two!”

 

Bucky exhales heavily. “You’re fucking lucky you’re so fucking cute, Steve.”

 

“I know,” Steve answers happily. He makes sure that the queue doesn’t have any more songs from The Lion King in it, though. “Has Sasha seen Moana yet?” he adds.

 

“That’s his second favorite,” Bucky sighs. Steve grins and drags You’re Welcome up the queue to begin next. “And it’s your favorite, isn’t it?”

 

“Hands down,” Steve says. “You kiddin’ me, you seen the effort the animators put into the hair?”

 

“The hair? ” Bucky mutters.

 

“It’s so real!” Steve insists. “And poufy!”

 

“If you say so, doll,” Bucky sighs again.

 

Bucky makes his way through the mid-afternoon traffic out of the bustling business district. Steve looks out the window and occasionally fiddles with Spotify, then a minute before Bucky pulls into the parking lot of the grocery store he remembers that he has unlimited data and spends the time he has left in the car scrolling down Instagram.

 

Bucky puts the car in park and disengages the engine. Steve blanks his phone screen and sits back while Bucky gets out of the car, waiting for him to come around to his side. He pops his seatbelt as Bucky opens his door and holds out his hand. Steve takes it, then as Bucky shuts the car door and locks it, he puts his phone into his back pocket.

 

Bucky tucks his hand into his elbow and Steve laces his own fingers together as they begin to walk. Bucky presents an impressive figure in his sleek suit and Steve, in his ratty jeans and baggy sweater, leaning on his arm probably looks confusing, but this is New York. No one has a reason to look either of them in the face, so nobody gives a shit. Bucky grabs a cart and Steve purposefully holds onto his sleeve. Bucky drops a kiss onto Steve's hair just past the sliding doors of the store.

 

“Good boy,” Bucky murmurs. “Hold on, alright?”

 

Steve curls his arms around Bucky’s elbow and puts his head on his shoulder. “Yessir,” he says quietly.

 

Bucky shops slowly, but Steve doesn’t mind. Normally, he’d be wandering around and with Bucky’s credit card he’d be looking for things to add to the cart, but he keeps his rules in mind and holds onto Bucky’s arm the entire time. Bucky ends up getting pretty basic, boring things; milk, eggs, a package of sliced cheddar, yogurt. Steve eventually takes out his phone and resumes his scrolling on Instagram, keeping a firm grip on Bucky’s sleeve and just following him. By the time Bucky gets to the frozen section, Steve feels rather relaxed for having just followed Bucky around the whole time.

 

“You want ice cream?” Bucky asks.

 

For a second, Steve doesn’t process the question. Then Bucky looks at him and Steve realizes that he even spoke and he gets his bearings back with him.

 

“Sorry,” he mutters, “what?”

 

Bucky takes his arm and pulls him closer. “Ice cream,” he says, then kisses Steve’s forehead. “Want any?”

 

“Um,” Steve answers. “Lemme look?”

 

Bucky nods, then kisses Steve's cheek and changes his grip on Steve's arm to holding his wrist. Steve examines the selection of ice cream from a distance, however, preferring to stand close to Bucky still.

 

“The raspberry sherbert,” he says eventually. “And mint chip.”

 

Bucky kisses his temple before pulling back to get the ice cream. Steve lets his hand follow Bucky’s arm when he moves away, taking a step closer when his reach stretches. Bucky turns back, finding him right behind him, and gives him a smile before side-stepping around him to put the ice cream in the car. Steve just follows him, curling a hand over his elbow and letting his gaze drop. All he has to do is follow Bucky.

 

Bucky goes through the self-checkout and Steve comes back to his senses in time to help him bag the items. Bucky offers him a smile and kisses his cheek when Steve’s put the last bag in the cart, and Steve just grins at nothing before hugging Bucky’s arm. He watches him using the keypad, then gets confused, because he’s holding on to Bucky’s right arm, which means Bucky is using the keypad with his left, but Bucky holds his phone in his right? But he also aimed the gun at Binter with his left hand?

 

“Are you left-handed?” Steve asks.

 

“I am ambidextrous, thank you,” Bucky tells him. He pulls his card out of the chip reader and Steve relaxes his hold on Bucky's arm so he can put it and his wallet way.

 

“That’s really cool,” Steve notes.

 

“Thank you, baby,” Bucky answers. He takes the receipt and folds it up before stuffing it into his pocket. “Let’s go.”

 

Bucky takes the cart and starts pushing it. Steve curls around his right arm, conundrum over and back to the simple mindset of holding on to Bucky. At the car, Bucky uses the key fob to open the trunk and Steve lets go of him to help load the groceries.

 

“I’m gonna put the cart away,” Bucky tells him when they’ve finished, but takes his hand and guides him toward the passenger seat. “Will you be alright on your own for a minute?”

 

“Sure,” Steve says. Bucky raises his eyebrows and Steve wrinkles up his nose before considering it fully. “Hang on,” he mutters and pushes his arms around Bucky’s waist.

 

Steve hugs him tightly, and after a second, Bucky’s hands come to rest on his back and hair.

 

“I’ll be right back,” Bucky says into his hair.

 

“Jus’ gimme a second,” Steve replies. Bucky begins petting his hair and Steve takes a deep breath, then two. He pulls back and Bucky catches his chin.

 

“Thirty seconds,” he promises. “In fact, you can time me.”

 

Bucky reaches around him and opens the car door. Steve folds his body into the car, and Bucky lingers for a second just outside.

 

“Start counting,” he says.

 

“Why am I counting?” Steve counters before Bucky can shut the door.

 

“It gives you something to focus on,” Bucky explains. He reaches inside and taps Steve's chin with a knuckle, then straightens up and shuts the door.

 

“One,” Steve says under his breath. He cranes his neck to watch Bucky push the car away, counting under his breath.

 

He gets to twenty-one just as Bucky pushes the car under an awning and starts walking back at a fast pace. Steve keeps going until Bucky yanks open his door.

 

“Thirty-six,” Steve says.

 

“I was a little off, then,” Bucky answers. He leans across the console and kisses Steve’s cheek before taking his hand and placing it on his knee. “Sorry.”

 

“It’s okay,” Steve says. He leans on the center console again, putting his head on Bucky’s shoulder and curling his right hand over his thigh instead of his left.

 

“Art store’s five minutes away,” Bucky tells him as he pulls out of the parking space.

 

“When did you have time to find it?” Steve asks him.

 

“This morning,” Bucky answers. “Before I left for work.”

 

“You’re sweet,” Steve says. He swirls his index over the inseam of Bucky’s slacks.

 

“Now you don’t mind,” Bucky chuckles. He turns right out of the grocery store lot, taking a left a block down. “I don’t want your ice cream melting, so let’s not take ages here, yeah? We can always come back.”

“No problem,” Steve says. “I already know exactly what I want.”

 

Bucky laughs. “Good,” he says in reply. “I like a man who knows what he wants.”

 

Steve lets out a snort and whacks Bucky’s thigh lightly. Bucky sniggers smugly, then drops a hand from the wheel to snatch up Steve’s and squeeze it.

 

“You’re cute when you laugh, dolly,” he says.

 

“You weren’t even looking at me,” Steve grumbles.

 

“I still know you’re cute,” Bucky chuckles. “Damn cute, honey.”

 

“Shuddup,” Steve protests half-heartedly.

 

“Aw, you don’t mean that, Stevie,” Bucky answers. He’s grinning broadly, like a lovesick fool. Steve thinks it’s a good look on him. Bucky lets go of Steve's hand and reaches over to touch his knuckles to Steve’s cheek and Steve snorts before waving at his hand. “See, this blush here tells me you’re swooning, dolly,” Bucky remarks.

 

“Shuddup!” Steve repeats, laughing.

 

“Never,” Bucky says happily. He pinches Steve’s cheek and Steve snaps at his fingers with his teeth. “Ah, ah, you wan’ somethin’ in your mouth, you ask nicely, doll.”

 

Steve sticks his tongue out, knowing perfectly well that Bucky will just snap his fingers at him. Bucky glances at him and shakes his head before holding out his hand.

 

“You know what happens when you do that,” Bucky says.

 

Steve puts his tongue back out. Bucky grasps it and gives it a light tug with a smile curling his lip, and Steve shifts in his seat to clench his thighs together.

 

He’s perfectly happy to not linger in the art supply store. He wants to get to the toy store and get home so Bucky can tie him up and shove a vibrator up his ass.

 

Bucky parallel parks at the end of a block and he releases Steve’s tongue. Steve stays leaning on the center console while Bucky cuts the engine, then Bucky turns to him and grasps Steve's chin.

 

“You really gotta learn some manners if you don’t wanna make your face such a mess all the time,” Bucky tells him casually.

 

Steve just grins at him. Bucky lets go of his chin and wipes off his chin with his rough fingers, then runs his hand through Steve’s hair to wipe it clean.

 

“You’re cute,” Bucky remarks, then releases his seatbelt and gets out.

 

Steve leans back in his seat and looks out his window until Bucky opens his door. Bucky holds out his hand and Steve gives him a smile before plucking the shoulder strap of his seatbelt. Bucky arches an eyebrow, then shakes his head with a small smile and leans into the car. As he unclips his seatbelt, Steve presses in and kisses Bucky's neck.

 

“Don’t be playin’ games with me, honey,” Bucky scolds him lightly. He tugs the belt away and takes Steve’s hand, nearly pulling him from the car. Steve smirks, pleased, and puts his arms around Bucky’s neck to lean up and kiss his collar.

 

“No games,” Steve murmurs. “I just can’t wait until you take me home, sir.”

 

Bucky pecks Steve's cheek. “You know what you want,” he says. He shuts the door of the car, locks it, and pulls Steve’s hands from the back of his neck to lace their fingers together. “This way.”

 

Steve, again, curls around his arm as they walk. The art supply store is a minute’s walk from their parking spot. Light foot-traffic mills around them as they walk; Bucky pulls a pair of sunglasses from an inner pocket of his jacket and pushes them on, and Steve looks up at Bucky as a corner of his lip curls up. He puts his temple back on Bucky’s shoulder, then sweeps his fingers up Bucky’s arm from his elbow to curl around his bicep. He gives it an appreciative squeeze and looks up in time to see the corner of Bucky’s eyebrow flick up.

 

Bucky opens the door of the shop and a bell rings above them. A college-age woman behind a register looks up and offers them a smile before looking back at the magazine in her hand.

 

Steve makes a beeline for the drawing section, tugging Bucky by the hand behind him. He finds the oil pastels he wants immediately, then picks out a couple of sketch pads and spiral bound notebooks while he looks for the charcoals he wants. He hands them to Bucky, since he’s not allowed to let go of his hand, and Bucky takes them without complaint.

 

“You can get a couple other things,” Bucky tells him, looking at a set of watercolor markers.

 

“I don’t like markers,” Steve says. He picks up a set of graphite pencils, though. He lets out a quiet a-ha! as he finds the charcoals he wants and puts them in the stack Bucky’s holding. “Done.”

 

“That was fast,” Bucky remarks, raising his eyebrows and a corner of his lip. “You sure you don’t want nothing else?”

 

“Not right now,” Steve answers.

 

“I think they’ve got a nice selection of oil paints,” Bucky tells him.

 

“Buck!” Steve groans.

 

“Oh, my bad, I forgot you got shit to do,” Bucky laughs at him. He jerks his head back toward the front of the shop and turns to go. Steve trails behind him this time, a bounce in his step.

 

Bucky puts the pencils, charcoals, pastels, and sketchbooks on the counter. The shop assistant puts down her magazine and takes the first item in the stack.

 

“Did you find everything you were looking for?” she asks.

 

“Yep,” Steve says.

 

Her name tag says Demeter and Steve wonders if that’s just a hipster nickname or she’s actually named after a Greek goddess. Either way, Demeter scans their things and starts bagging them without really looking at them.

 

“Sixty-two, twenty-five,” she says a second later. “Would you be interested in rounding up to donate to St. Jude’s Children’s Cancer Research fund?”

 

“Sure,” Bucky answers. Steve props his temple on Bucky’s shoulder. Demeter enters a command into her computer and points to a chip reader.

 

“You can go ahead and insert your card,” she recites.

 

Bucky releases Steve’s hand to pull out his wallet. Steve remains leaning on his shoulder, though. Bucky goes through the motions of paying, entering his pin and removing his card when the machine beeps angrily at him, and Demeter drops her hand onto a receipt machine and waits without expression while the receipt prints.

 

“Have a great day,” she says, handing it to him.

 

Bucky pockets his receipt and wallet while Steve takes the bag Demeter pushes toward them. Bucky takes his hand again and heads for the door. Steve aims a wave over his shoulder at Demeter, who gives him a smile and returns to her magazine. Steve turns away again, smiling to himself. He’s gonna have a great rest of his day.

 

Bucky takes the bag from him and puts it in the trunk of the car before opening the passenger door for Steve.

 

“How far is the store?” Steve asks as he gets in.

 

“Halfway between here and home,” Bucky answers. He ducks in and does Steve’s seatbelt for him, then shuts the door sharply and walks around. Steve rests his left arm on the center console until Bucky gets in, then sets his hand on Bucky’s thigh.

 

“Now, I really don’t want that ice cream melting,” Bucky tells him as they pull back into traffic. “So, be thinking about what you want.”

 

Steve tips his head to one side and traces an upper molar with his tongue while he thinks. He has a few toys at his old apartment still, certainly, but nothing fancy. A set of plugs and a vibrator he bought at Spencer’s, since it was cheaper. They get the job done, nothing more. Steve taps his finger against Bucky’s leg, then drops his head against the seat and wonders what sort of selection will be available to him.

 

Perhaps he could branch out from the rubber lined plastic that is his vibrator. And all his plugs are silicon. Steve shifts in his seat to cross his legs and taps his finger against Bucky’s thigh while he’s thinking. He’s always wanted to try glass…

 

Bucky’s nostrils flare and he slowly grins. Steve shifts in his seat again, and abruptly he remembers that Bucky told him to skip the underwear that morning. The fabric of his jeans rub against his ass and a certain warmth shifts between his cheeks as Steve moves.

 

“You alright there, dolly?” Bucky asks smugly.

 

“Uh-huh,” Steve mumbles.

 

“Y’know, maybe we should just go straight home,” Bucky offers in a musing tone. “It is kinda warm for November, after all.”

 

“No, no, I’m okay,” Steve insists. He uncrosses his legs and sits up straighter. Bucky’s lips curl and he lets of of the wheel, but not to take his hand.

 

Bucky sets his palm high up on Steve’s thigh. Steve inhales sharply and slouches in his seat, but his knees separate on their own. Bucky chuckles and curls his hand into the curve of his thigh and Steve swallows, his mouth dry. Bucky’s hand is warm even through his jeans.

 

“Can’t have you staining these jeans,” Bucky says conversationally.

 

“‘M not staining nothing,” Steve mutters.

 

“Sure,” Bucky answers. He brakes for a stoplight and turns to face him. He lifts his hand from his thigh and grips his chin and Steve licks his lips. “You’re all horny, baby. I can smell it.”

 

Steve squeezes his thighs together and shifts in his chair. Bucky smirks at him, his eyes hidden behind the sunglasses but Steve imagines that his pupils are dilating.

 

“And I don’t want a bunch of strangers knowin’ my babydoll’s wet,” Bucky says. Steve swallows again. “That’s only for me, honey. You’re gonna have to take care’a yourself before we get there.”

 

“What do you suggest I do?” Steve half laughs.

 

The light turns green. Bucky lets go of his chin to grip the steering wheel again, and Steve is left both baffled and incredibly aroused. Bucky takes a turn, then reaches down and pops open the center console.

 

He takes out a stack of paper napkins. Steve looks at them and swallows heavily.

 

“Clean yourself up,” Bucky says.

 

Steve laughs, his mouth hanging open. “Is that even hygienic?” he mutters.

 

“There’s a trash bag on the back of your seat,” Bucky says. “It’s just slick, baby. Worse it’ll do is make my car smell like sex.”

 

Steve hesitantly takes the napkins from Bucky. He looks at them for a second, then snorts and presses a hand to his mouth, looking around the car. The windows are all tinted except the windshield. No one would be able to see him, but still…

 

“I’m not sharing my doll, Stevie,” Bucky says.

 

Steve takes a deep breath. He shuffles forward in his seat until he’s slouching, then pulls up the hem of his sweater. He pulls the gun holster strapped to his waist a little higher up, then pops the button of his jeans.

 

Bucky reaches over and curls a hand over his thigh again. Steve is trembling, and perhaps this isn’t helping him any.

 

“It is a shame, though,” Bucky sighs. “I hate to have to waste your slick, Stevie.”

 

“You can make it up to me later,” Steve murmurs as he separates the napkins. He glances to his left and finds Bucky smirking, then looks away again and lifts his hips off the seat.

 

It feels particularly lewd to be reaching down the back of his pants with a stack of napkins, while he’s sitting in a luxury car driving through afternoon Manhattan traffic. Steve licks his lips, shutting his eyes tightly, and pushes the napkins between his cheeks. It’s scratchy and rough on his skin, which is tender from the blood rising to the surface and the stretch of the bruising. The napkins soaks through quickly and he pulls his hand out, balling the paper up.

 

The soiled napkin in his hand is pungent, smelling sharp and sweet. Steve takes a glance at Bucky, enough to see that he’s gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles and he’s breathing deeply. Steve, his heart pounding, twists around and shoves the wad of napkins into a bag hanging off the back of his chair.

 

“Good baby,” Bucky murmurs.

 

“Fuck,” Steve says under his breath.

 

He twists around again, and his hole still feels wet. Steve glances at Bucky again, then grabs another stack of napkins and lifts his ass off the seat. He’s quicker this time, the napkin scrapes against his skin and he lets out a soft hiss before tugging his hand back out. He shoves it into the bag hanging off his seat, then collapses against the chair and takes several deep breaths.

 

His left hand feels almost uncomfortably warm and slightly moist. Steve takes a few of the remaining napkins and wipes his hand off, tossing it away when he’s done.

 

Steve glances at Bucky again, then surreptitiously raises his hand to give it a cautious sniff. It’s not nearly as pungent as the napkins, but there’s traces of scent on it. Then Bucky lets go of the steering wheel and holds his hand out.

 

Steve looks between his hand and his own, somewhat confused and still turned on, then places his left hand in Bucky’s palm. Bucky tugs his hand closer and – Steve’s whole throat goes dry and he has to resettle himself in his seat – Bucky presses Steve's fingers against his nose and inhales deeply.

 

“Fuck,” Bucky exhales, “you smell good, baby.”

 

Steve makes a very intelligent noise resembling a faint squawk. “Not helping,” he mutters. “Fuck… Not helpful.”

 

“I wasn’t trying to be,” Bucky murmurs. He keeps his grip on Steve’s hand and continues to breathe deeply, inhaling the trace scent of slick on Steve’s fingers.

 

Steve swallows and leans forward to peer under Bucky’s elbow at his crotch, then just swallows again and drops back against his seat when he sees the swelling at the front of Bucky’s slacks. “Fuck me,” he hisses under his breath.

 

“I plan to,” Bucky says darkly. Then he lowers Steve’s hand, putting it on his knee. “But remember, I ain’t sharing you. Cool off.”

 

Steve presses the back of his head against the seat and takes several deep breaths. “How far?” he asks, trying to sound calm.

 

“Five minutes,” Bucky says. Steve takes another deep breath.

 

“Five minutes,” he repeats quietly. He clenches his right hand into a fist and blows his breath out through his mouth hard.

 

A phone rings. Steve looks around, then realizes it’s his and picks it up. Darcy’s calling.

 

“You mind if I answer this?” Steve asks Bucky.

 

“Who is it?” Bucky counters.

 

“Just Darcy,” Steve says.

 

Bucky gives a nod. Steve swipes to answer the call and puts the phone to his ear. “Hey.”

 

“Bruh,” Darcy greets him. “I forgot your number changed and whoever has your old one just got some very weird texts from me.”

 

Steve lets out a laugh and rests his head against the seat. “What’s up, Darce?”

 

“The usual,” she says. “Come get ready with me?”

 

Steve glances at the display to check the time; it’s half past four. For a second, he panics, thinking that he’s two steps away from being tied up and needs to get ready to work, until he remembers that he doesn’t work for Fang anymore.

 

“Can you keep a secret?” Steve says.

 

“Uh, yes?" Darcy says. "What kind?”

 

“I quit,” Steve tells her. “My apartment was robbed Sunday night, my landlord –” he breaks off, then adjusts his story, “– my landlord vanished Monday morning, Rollins kept letting himself in to my apartment.”

 

Bucky gives him a look out of the corner of his eye. Steve ignores it.

 

“Bucky’s asked me to move in with him,” he says. “But that means no more Fang. Ain't too difficult to pick.”

 

Darcy is quiet for a second.

 

“Already?”

 

“Yeah,” Steve says. “I’m going back to school and everything.”

 

Bucky gives him another look, eyebrows raised. Steve ignores it, too. He’s just saying this to keep Darcy from getting worried.

 

“I – Wow, Steve. That’s great! Congratulations!”

 

“Thanks,” Steve answers. “But don’t tell anyone yet. I have to clear out my apartment still, what’s left.”

 

“What do I say when Rollins asks?” Darcy asks cautiously. “You know he’ll ask me.”

 

“I got sick and went to visit family,” Steve says. “And if Rollins says I have no family, then I’m visiting a friend of my mother’s and I don’t know when I’ll be back.”

 

“Okay,” Darcy says, sounding frazzled. “Okay. Sorry, I just – This is really sudden.”

 

“Sort of,” Steve agrees. “I mean, that was the plan from the start. Bucky asked me to live with him the first night.”

 

“Yeah,” Darcy mutters across the phone. “I guess.”

 

“Hey, don’t worry about me,” Steve tells her. “It was Bucky’s idea that I go back to school, y’know? And he even wants to help me with my recovery from Ana, he wants to try hand-feeding,” he adds with a snort.

 

Darcy laughs, the sound replicated perfectly by the phone. It was tinny and distant sounding whenever she laughed on Steve’s old phone. In the corner of his eye, Steve sees Bucky shaking his head as he smiles fondly.

 

“Like, food kink?”

 

“Ish,” Steve says. “He says that I can associate eating with him sweet-talking me and then maybe it won’t be so bad.”

 

“It could work,” Darcy chuckles. “Is he sweet-talking you?”

 

“All the time,” Steve says firmly. “I swear, he calls me cute names more than my own name.”

 

“‘Cause he likes it!” Bucky cuts in loudly.

 

Darcy laughs again. “Is he there?" she asks. "Should I give him the shovel talk or what?”

 

“No, he’s driving,” Steve laughs. “Plus, I doubt it would be effective. Mafia king, and all.”

 

“I got friends in high places, Steve Rogers, you never know.”

 

“It’s okay,” Steve says, then grins at Bucky. “I’m sure if he ever does need murdering, I can just stab him in his sleep.”

 

Bucky rolls his eyes. Darcy bursts into laughter again.

 

“You dumbass,” she says fondly. “I wish you the best, sweetie.”

 

“Thank you,” Steve answers.

 

Darcy blows a kiss across the phone and Steve pretends to catch it, smiling out the window.

 

“And you’d better take care of yourself,” Darcy adds. “If I hear you haven’t, I’ll gladly blame it on your mafia king.”

 

“Yes, yes,” Steve answers. “I’ll still be showing up for movie night.”

 

“Oh, you’d better,” Darcy answers.

 

Steve has a sudden idea and adds: “And Friday night, could you do my makeup?”

 

“Friday?” Darcy repeats. “What’s happening Friday?”

 

“Bucky’s taking me to a gala,” Steve says. “Something for Stark Industries.”

 

“Stark Industries? You mean the anniversary gala?”

 

Steve pulls the phone from his ear. “Darcy wants to know if the thing on Friday is Stark Industries’ anniversary gala.”

 

“Something like that,” Bucky answers.

 

“Something like that,” Steve echoes. “I’m getting a tailored suit made and everything.”

 

“Fancy,” Darcy laughs. “Sure, I’ll make you look decent.”

 

“Thanks,” Steve repeats. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

 

“Probably wither and die,” Darcy says.

 

Bucky taps Steve’s arm to catch his attention, then points out the windshield. Steve leans forward and sees a few flashing neon signs, the figure of a pinup woman and advertisements for X-rated films.

 

“I gotta go,” Steve says to Darcy. “I’ll talk to you later.”

 

“Ciao,” Darcy answers.

 

Steve drops the phone from his ear and hangs up, just as Bucky pulls into a parking spot. Steve looks out the window while Bucky gets out; there’s a meter, and the shop is half a block away. Steve waits while Bucky feeds the meter, then walks around to Steve's side of the car.

 

Bucky opens his door. “Dragă mea,” he says with a smile.

 

“What does that mean?” Steve asks as he unclips his seatbelt.

 

“I don’t think I’ll tell you, dragă,” Bucky answers. He takes Steve’s hand and tucks it into his elbow while Steve closes his door behind him.

 

“I can just translate it,” Steve points out.

 

“You could,” Bucky agrees. “But that would take the fun out of it.”

 

Steve makes a face at him. Bucky smiles and pinches his cheek, laughing when Steve jerks his head away.

 

“You know I’m right,” Bucky says smugly.

 

“I know you’re stupid,” Steve counters.

 

"C'mere," Bucky says. He throws an arm over Steve's shoulders and drags Steve closer, just to pinch his cheek. Steve snorts and tries to shove him off, but Bucky keeps his grip firm on him.

 

“What happened to your good manners, dolly?” Bucky asks him with a smirk. “You was all nice for me earlier. Now you’re acting like a brat again. What happened?”

 

“Aw, shuddup,” Steve grumbles. Bucky laughs at him and just pinches his cheek a third time. Steve quits trying to fight him.

 

“You’re cute,” Bucky says for perhaps the thousandth time. Steve tries to pretend that he isn’t blushing, but Bucky touches his cheek with a knuckle and his finger is particularly cool. “I’m glad I get to keep you, dolly.”

 

Steve ducks his head, though he’s smiling, and Bucky squeezes his shoulders. They reach the shop and Bucky opens the door for him, guiding him through with a hand on the small of his back. Steve lingers in the doorway as Bucky enters behind him, and his eyes slowly widen as he looks around.

 

“Welcome to Dear John’s,” a shop assistant calls out. Steve takes a step forward, taking in the store. “Mr. Barnes.”

 

Steve jerks his gaze away from a display of tentacle dildos to the speaking shop assistant. A tall, pale, and incredibly thin man steps out from behind a counter and bows.

 

“What can I do for you today?” he greets.

 

“Afternoon, Pence,” Bucky says. His hand comes to rest on Steve’s shoulder and gives a squeeze. “We can manage.”

 

Pence bows again. “Please call if you need assistance.”

 

Bucky gently pushes Steve forward as Pence returns to standing behind the front counter. Steve walks where Bucky guides him, toward the back of the store and what he can only guess is the leather section.

 

There’s a whole aisle full of floggers, whips, paddles, crops and more, another with what looks like maybe a hundred different kinds of rope, and even a shelf filled with different gags, but Bucky steers Steve past these to a back wall. Part of it is taken up by costumes, but half is taken up by an array of collars and restraints.

 

Bucky grips Steve’s shoulder, tugging back and Steve stops in his tracks. Bucky steps close behind him, then leans down and puts his mouth near his ear.

 

“I think you should have two,” he says quietly. “One for times like these, when you’re my dolly and I get to be sweet on you all I like. One for when you’re my slut. What do you think, baby boy?”

 

“I’m on board with that,” Steve agrees.

 

Bucky squeezes his shoulder. “Good.”

 

Bucky straightens up and side-steps around him; his hand drops back down to the small of Steve's back and Steve hastens to follow as Bucky approaches a selection of collars.

 

“Let’s see,” Bucky muses. “What does my doll want, hmm?”

 

Steve slips an arm around his waist and leans on him. “Whatever my sir wants,” he answers softly.

 

Bucky’s lips curl up in a smile. He lifts a slim collar from the wall, thumbs at the stitching, and puts it back. Bucky takes a step to the right and Steve follows him.

 

“You need something pretty, I’m thinkin’,” Bucky tells him. He lifts a pink collar with a single finger and lets it drop back against the wall. “I said it’d be blue to match your eyes, didn’t I?”

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve answers.

 

“This one looks comfortable,” Bucky says.

 

Bucky picks up a black leather collar studded with purple rhinestones. He weighs it on a finger, then puts it back and snaps his fingers. He bends at the waist and selects a light blue collar, hardly an inch tall and with rounded silver studs, a heavy O-ring mounted in the centermost stud. Bucky lets go of Steve’s waist to release the buckle and hold it in both hands.

 

“What do you think, dolly?” he asks

 

Steve nods and Bucky buckles it again. He takes a step away from the wall, looking around, then takes Steve’s hand and walks toward the other wall. Steve’s confused, until he sees the stack of shopping baskets and Bucky pulls one from it.

 

“We’ll get the tag there,” Bucky adds, pointing to a machine that Steve hadn’t noticed until then. It looks out of place surrounded by the fetish gear, like the owners of Dear John had simply bought the same custom tag maker sold at Petsmart and stuck it in the corner.

 

Bucky wraps a hand around Steve’s upper arm and guides him back to the wall of collars, pulling him to a stop and smoothing a hand over his shoulders almost as if an afterthought. Steve snatches his hand and Bucky pauses, turning back. He puts down the basket and frames Steve’s face with his hands.

 

“Are you alright?” he asks softly.

 

“Yeah,” Steve says, then shakes himself. “Fine, sorry.”

 

Bucky kisses his forehead. “I told you that you aren’t allowed to apologize for this,” he says. “It’s not your fault.”

 

“Sorry,” Steve repeats. Bucky brushes at his cheekbone with a thumb, then drops his hands to take Steve’s and kisses both of them.

 

“Shh,” he murmurs. “Just hold onto my arm, alright?”

 

Steve gives a nod and Bucky squeezes his hands before guiding one to his elbow and letting go of the other. Steve curls his hand around the crook of Bucky's arm and Bucky touches his cheek again briefly before picking up the basket again. Steve reaches out and takes it.

 

Bucky gives him a glance, then a smile and kisses his cheek. “You wanna be helpful, huh?” Steve just nods. Bucky reaches up and squeezes Steve's fingers, then turns to face the selection of collars once more.

 

He spends a few minutes looking, and Steve ends up leaning on his shoulder again and just standing there. Finally, Bucky holds up a thicker collar, deep maroon satin overlaid by black lace and framed by leather with spiked studs and a thick O-ring.

 

“There,” he says. “What do you think?”

 

Steve reaches out and runs his fingers over the satin detail. “It’s pretty,” he says. “I like it.”

 

Bucky places it in the basket, then reaches up and taps Steve’s chin. “Now we just need those tags,” he tells him. “And your new toys.”

 

Steve breaks into a grin and ducks his head. Bucky taps a knuckle under his chin.

 

“Look at me, pretios,” Bucky murmurs. “Let me see those pretty eyes.”

 

Steve blushes down to his roots, but lifts his gaze to Bucky’s. Bucky taps his chin again, a corner of his lip curled.

 

“Let’s see,” Bucky begins, “how long it takes you to learn that this –” he taps Steve’s chin a third time “– means make eye contact every time.”

 

“Consider it learned,” Steve answers. Bucky’s smirk grows, then he grasps his chin and pulls his face up. Steve shuts his eyes, but Bucky only kisses his cheek.

 

“Let’s get those tags, shall we?” Bucky says in his ear.

 

He releases Steve’s chin and instead takes his elbow. Bucky walks him back over to the corner, to the custom tag machine, and plants him firmly at his side with an arm around his shoulders. Steve leans into him, putting a hand on his chest and the other in his pocket, and Bucky wakes the machine.

 

“Definitely a heart for my dolly,” he starts. “But what tag for my little slut, Stevie?”

 

“Heart,” Steve answers.

 

Bucky chuckles, but swipes through the screen until he finds a heart he’s satisfied with. He changes the color, then the quantity, then the text and Steve curls a little closer to him as Bucky types in Property of James Barnes.

 

“Bucky,” Steve says abruptly.

 

“What?” Bucky answers, still typing.

 

“No,” Steve interrupts, reaching up and taking his hand to stop him, “property of Bucky Barnes.”

 

Bucky looks at him, eyebrows drawn together, and Steve shrugs a shoulder.

 

“James is who you are for everybody else,” he says. Then smiles a little and squeezes his hand. “Bucky is who you don’t share.”

 

For a second, Bucky does nothing. Then he lets out a soft laugh, smiles as he shakes his head, and changes the text to Bucky Barnes instead of James.

 

Bucky has to release Steve's shoulders to take out his wallet and pay for the tags while the machine creates them, and a minute later two shiny silver hearts pop out of the machine, with sturdy O-rings to secure them and still warm. Bucky takes them both and holds them up for Steve’s viewing. Steve grins and hugs him, delighted.

 

“You happy, dragă?” Bucky laughs.

 

“Thrilled, sir,” Steve promises. “I can’t wait to wear them.”

 

Bucky kisses his hair, then tucks the two tags into his pocket and turns Steve around with a hand. “First, you wanted some new toys.”

 

Steve gives a grin and tugs on Bucky’s arm. Bucky laughs as Steve pulls him away from the tag maker, back toward the middle of the store where the sex toys are. Steve peers down the other aisles as he goes, pausing at the row of floggers and whips.

 

Bucky crowds in behind him. “I have plenty of those, dolly.”

 

“Oh,” Steve says. He’s still a second longer, then a padded black paddle hanging from a hook catches his eye and his jaw drops as he moves forward to pick it up. “Wow,” he says.

 

Bucky curls an arm around his waist. “I thought you didn’t want me using paddles on you,” he says with a smirk.

 

“Well, maybe I was just being conscientious about my safety,” Steve answers, lifting his eyebrows. “Now I know you’re legit. And maybe this one wouldn’t be so bad.”

 

Bucky raises an eyebrow. He takes the paddle from Steve and holds it up. Etched in blocky reverse letters on the flat surface of the paddle, such that it would leave a mark from being slammed into skin, is the word SLUT.

 

“I think you just want to try it because it’s pretty,” Bucky remarks.

 

“That may be influencing my opinion,” Steve agrees.

 

Bucky palms the handle and releases Steve’s waist to feel the weight of it. He gives it a few light swings into his palm, then flips it and studies the leather.

 

“This is a nice beginner piece,” he muses. “Sturdy, nice and balanced. I think we can try it.”

 

Steve gives another grin and lifts onto his toes to kiss Bucky’s cheek. Bucky chuckles and places the paddle into the basket hanging off of Steve’s arm, then takes him by the waist again and leads him back down the aisle. Steve gets distracted by a display of sensation play kits on the end of the ropes aisle and Bucky takes a step away from him.

 

Steve puts down a peacock feather wand and follows Bucky. Bucky catches his gaze and smiles, then lifts a length of dark blue rope. Then he holds out his empty hand.

 

“Give me your wrist,” Bucky says.

 

Steve shifts the basket into his right hand and holds out his left arm, the inside of his wrist up. He doesn’t even think about it. Bucky takes his arm, pushes back his sleeve and curls a length of the rope around it, then pauses.

 

He drops the rope and turns to face Steve squarely, lifting his wrist up as his fingers smooth over his skin and Steve forgets about both the peacock feather and the rope and the everything. Bucky’s expression is darkly concerned as his fingers run along a thin white line on Steve’s skin, as it finds the next and the next. They are not obvious, and Bucky has to seek each one out, and the more he finds the greater the concern in his face grows. Steve’s breath catches in his throat, but not in a good way. He should have thought about that.

 

“Is this what I think it is?” Bucky asks softly.

 

“Depends on what you think it is,” Steve mutters. He looks at his feet, not at the faded scars lining his forearm.

 

Bucky takes the basket from him and puts it on the floor. He lifts Steve’s other arm and pushes back his sleeve, but his right arm doesn’t have the same lines.

 

“I’m not ambidextrous,” Steve says under his breath.

 

Bucky drops right arm and takes his left in both hands. He pulls Steve’s wrist up, then kisses the inside of it. Not on the scent gland framed by the veins in his wrist, but on a faded scar just beyond it.

 

“When?” Bucky asks.

 

“Years ago,” Steve sighs. “And I mean years, it was when I was in the foster system. I quit years ago.”

 

“Did anyone ever do it to you?” Bucky presses. Steve shakes his head. Bucky kisses another scar, then smooths his fingers down Steve’s forearm. In a gentler voice, he asks: “What did you use?”

 

Steve looks up and away, then blows out his breath and thinks that he really should have thought more about which wrist he showed Bucky. He hadn’t really been ready to explain this to Bucky, even with everything he’d said. This is something a little more personal, maybe. He’s more ashamed of being the one to take a blade to his skin than he is of starving himself, or not reporting that his foster father used to touch him, or that his mother died because of him.

 

“Same thing everyone uses,” Steve says eventually.

 

Bucky kisses a grouping of scars. He doesn’t look like he pities Steve, which is a miracle. Usually, people notice the scars and go aw, poor kid with their words or their eyes and reduce him to just that, his sob story. Bucky’s not pitying him, at least.

 

“I’m glad it’s been years,” Bucky says. “You’ll tell me, or somebody, your shrink, your friend, if you get the urge to relapse, right?”

 

Steve gives a nod. His gaze drifts up, to focus on a white line right over where the scent gland is. It’s thicker than most of the others, more distinct. It had taken a deeper cut to get into the gland. Even now, the gland is damaged. The nerves are dead and it hardly produces scent. Bucky runs his fingers over it and Steve hardly feels it. He had meant to do the same to his right wrist, but had been caught mid-act. After that, his razors had been taken away from him. There were more blood vessels in the gland, and his former foster father had preferred stimulating the glands in his wrists to the one in his neck.

 

“I’m sorry it happened at all,” Bucky offers.

 

Steve shrugs a shoulder. Bucky raises a hand and palms his cheek.

 

“I’ll never ask you to try knife play,” he says, smiling just a little. Steve breaks into a smile and blows his breath out through his nose, almost laughing. Bucky kisses his forehead and thumbs at the crest of his face. “Thank you for being honest.”

 

Steve drops his gaze and gives a nod. Bucky isn’t asking why he did it, and for that he’s grateful. He’s sure he’ll tell him one day, Dr. Madini has been encouraging him to open up about his trauma and Steve certainly has done more opening up the past three days than he’d done in the past six years.

 

Bucky’s hand slips down and curls under Steve's chin, and Steve looks up on cue. Bucky offers Steve a smile, then kisses the tip of his nose and gives his chin a tap. Bucky looks down to Steve’s wrist again, again reaching back for a length of rope. Steve looks at the rope while Bucky measures it in his hands; it’s on a large wheel, clearly meant to be cut by the length. 

 

Bucky loops the rope around a thumb, then wraps the folded pieces around Steve’s wrist. He takes the loop and wraps it around the two pieces, drawing it back around to create a bind, and pulls the length through the loop on the other side of Steve’s wrist. He pulls it taut and cocks his head to the side, looking at the knot and loop he’d made on Steve’s wrist. The rope is soft and smooth, and when Steve looks for a description, he sees that its silk. It’s also nearly four dollars per foot of rope.

 

“I only have black and red rope at home,” Bucky says. “But you look so gorgeous in blue, honey.”

 

Bucky pulls the loop, and the knot unravels. Steve swallows as Bucky examines the rope itself, the ends and the braid of it. Bucky takes half a step back, looking at the other ropes, then looks up over the height of the shelf and waves.

 

Steve steps around Bucky to stand on his other side as Pence walks over to them.

 

“Fine choice,” Pence says with a slight bow. “This particular rope is hand-spun and every inch of it is guaranteed to be free of frays or scratchiness to allow for the ideal comfort and safety of your submissive.”

 

Steve edges slightly closer to Bucky, unable to help the smile he gets at the simple yet blunt descriptor Pence uses. Particularly, he likes the possessive pronoun. Bucky just holds up the rope.

 

“I’ll need a few bundles,” he says. “Let’s go with a ten, a fifteen, two thirties, and a fifty.”

 

Pence inclines his head. “We have pre-cut bundles of those lengths in the back of the store. I will bring them to the front register for you.”

 

“Thank you,” Bucky says. He hooks the length of rope he’d pulled back on its wheel, then picks up their basket and turns around to put a hand on Steve’s waist. Steve lets himself be pushed down the aisle, then reaches back to take the basket and Bucky’s hand on the other end.

 

“How many things can I get?” he asks.

 

“However many you want,” Bucky answers.

 

Steve snorts and rolls his eyes. “Rich people,” he complains under his breath.

 

Bucky rolls his eyes, too. “We can always come back,” he reminds Steve.

 

Steve gives a nod and starts wandering toward a For Him section. “They should add a non-gendered section,” he notes as he starts looking at butt plugs. “ For him and for her is so outdated.

 

“I’ll say something to Robards,” Bucky says.

 

Steve assumes that that’s the owner of the store, then picks up a bulbed silicone plug. He gives the end a flick before putting it back, deeming the rubber too springy for him. Bucky nears his back, putting a hand on his shoulder, and while Steve lifts a jeweled metal plug, he picks up a slim but lengthy plug.

 

“This one vibrates,” he says.

 

Steve puts down the jeweled one to take it from him. He gives it a once-over, then Bucky hands him a remote. Steve takes it, then presses the plus button and the plug hums to life in his palm.

 

“They have quite a few of these,” Bucky offers.

 

Steve follows his pointing finger and looks at the selection of vibrating plugs. They range in size and shape, from firm plastic to jelly. The one Bucky gave him is flexible, soft, silky even. Steve thinks it’s a little small.

 

He picks up a flared plug, about six inches in length, thin at the tip and widening at the thickest point so that when Steve wraps a thumb and forefinger around it, his fingertips hardly touch. There’s a plastic ring for easy handling, broad at its end to keep the plug seated firmly. Like most of the vibrating plugs, it has a wireless remote.

 

Steve picks up a sealed package of it and drops it into the basket. Bucky smiles at him and Steve shrugs a shoulder before moving on, careful to keep a hand on Bucky’s, though.

 

He’s looking at glass plugs when Bucky adds something to the basket. Steve looks down, and sees a fairly basic plug, barely three inches long and maybe an inch around at its widest.

 

Before he can open his mouth to complain that it’s too small, Bucky presses a finger briefly to Steve’s lips. “I have plans, amant,” he offers with a smirk.

 

Steve looks at the plug again, then shrugs. “If you say so,” he says, and goes back to looking at the glass plugs.

 

Of plugs alone, he picks out five, not including the small one Bucky added. The long vibrating one, two glass kinds – one bulbed and massive, the other twisted and long –, a black bulb six inches long that will inflate to nearly four inches across and Steve can’t wait to have Bucky use on him, and a smooth metal conical plug with a heart shaped handle and a bright red jewel set in it. Then come the dildos, and of the four he gets, he’s looking forward to the “realistic” knotting toy that’s about seven inches long and bright red that the package calls the Devil’s Barb the most. It’s thicker than Bucky is, with an angular head and broad knot that the package promises will feel like a real rutting Alpha. And, just because he hasn’t tried them before, a set of anal beads.

 

Just as Steve thinks he’s gone wild enough, Bucky drops one more thing into their basket. Steve looks down and his eyebrows shoot up.

 

“A cock ring?” he questions.

 

“Just to start you off,” Bucky says. “I have cages at home.”

 

Steve’s eyebrows lift higher. Bucky takes Steve's waist and kisses his temple.

 

“Not for today, though,” he adds. “I plan on being nice to you today.”

 

Steve nods vaguely. He can think about trying chastity devices later. Bucky gives Steve's waist a tug, starts walking toward the front counter and Steve matches his stride. Pence is waiting, with four heavy looking bundles of dark blue silk rope. He bows his head as they near and Bucky takes the basket from Steve to put on the counter.

 

“Did you find everything you needed today, Mr. Barnes?” Pence asks, calmly taking out the pile of anal toys from the basket.

 

“I believe we did,” Bucky answers. His grip on Steve’s waist cinches down and Steve finds himself having to take a step sideways to stay upright. “Though you might tell John that a gender-neutral section to complement the his and hers parts of the store wouldn’t go amiss.”

 

“I shall inform Mr. Robards of this,” Pence answers.

 

Steve leans on Bucky’s chest and notices for the first time the thin leather choker around Pence’s neck, as well as the small padlock securing it. He tips his head onto Bucky’s pec and idly wonders if Pence’s choker is a fashion statement or a true collar. Bucky wants him to wear chokers like that daily. Maybe they’ll have locks on them like Pence’s. Steve likes the look of the lock, he thinks.

 

Pence maintains a neutral expression as he scans and bags the items in their basket. He gives the sex toys nor the paddle any deference, but pauses to raise his eyebrows at the collars.

 

“Excellent choice,” he offers for the satin and leather collar. “You may find that the height and stiffness of this collar requires your submissive to maintain better posture.”

 

Bucky looks out of the corner of his eye at Steve, and Steve slumps a little closer to him and smiles. Bucky raises an eyebrow and looks away, a corner of his lip curling.

 

“This one is a particular favorite,” Pence says for the pastel blue collar. “For future play, I would recommend pairing it with our kitten tail plug and ears.”

 

“Maybe next time,” Bucky says. Pence inclines his head and puts the collars in nondescript paper bags.

 

“Your total this afternoon comes up to eight hundred twenty-five and thirty-three cents,” Pence announces.

 

For a second, Steve doesn’t react. His brain assumes the decimal is in a different place, and only as Bucky takes out his wallet to pay does the decimal correct itself. Steve’s jaw drops as he looks at the bags with eight hundred dollars worth of sex toys and fetish gear, but Bucky just pushes his card into the chip reader without even a twitch of the eye.

 

Steve’s tempted to put some of it back, but Bucky’s already paid. Pence plucks the receipt from its printer and holds it out to Bucky, then hands him a pen and waits for a second receipt to print while Bucky signs the first copy. Pence hands him his copy, Bucky pushes over the merchant copy and takes the paper bags, and Pence inclines his head once more while Bucky hands one bag to Steve and tucks the other in his elbow.

 

“Have a lovely evening, Mr. Barnes,” Pence says as Steve and Bucky leave.

 

“Thank you,” Bucky answers without turning back.

 

Outside the store, Steve snatches the receipt from Bucky before he can shove it in a pocket. He gapes down at it.

 

“You spent nearly five hundred dollars on rope!” Steve gasps.

 

“It’s good quality rope,” Bucky defends. He plucks the receipt from Steve’s fingers, snatching it away when Steve tries to grab it back. “Ah, no complaining from you, dolly, this is a gift for me.”

 

“But…” Steve mutters. Bucky lifts a hand and tugs on his earlobe briefly before grabbing his waist again. Steve resettles the bag in his hands, looking down into it with wide eyes. Did they really just spend eight hundred dollars on sex toys and fetish gear?

 

If Bucky noticing Steve's self-harm scars hadn’t been a boner killer, the absolute ludicrousness of spending eight hundred dollars on sex toys is completely mood ruining. Steve cannot believe it.

 

“Cut it out,” Bucky says.

 

“You don’t even know what I’m doing!” Steve protests in a hiss.

 

Bucky pushes Steve toward the car, stopping him with a hand on his shoulder and unlocking the car before opening his door. Bucky puts the bag he’s holding behind Steve’s seat, then takes Steve’s bag and puts it away as well. Then he takes Steve’s elbow and steers him into getting in. Bucky leans on the car to look down at him and Steve blinks a couple times.

 

“I am fucking rich,” Bucky says simply. “I make that much money in an hour. So cut out the freaking out you’re doing.”

 

Steve wrinkles his nose, looking down. “I make eight fifty in half an hour,” he mutters under his breath. Sex is expensive, now that he’s thinking about it.

 

“See, it’s not that big of a deal.” Bucky leans in and kisses his cheek before doing his seatbelt for him, patting his knee before he pulls back and shuts the door.

 

Steve raises his eyebrows at the floor, thinking that he only makes eight fifty in half an hour because he’s the only male Omega for sale in New York.

 

Or he was. His time had been for sale, in the past tense, as he’s been bought now.

 

Bucky pulls open his door and gets in, shutting the door again sharply and buckling his seatbelt. Steve reaches over and curls a hand over Bucky's thigh as Bucky ignites the engine.

 

“How much is the rent on your apartment?” Steve asks abruptly.

 

Bucky laughs. He picks up Steve’s hand and raises it to press a kiss to his knuckles and Steve frowns at him in confusion. "What?" he asks.

 

“I own the building, honey,” Bucky says with a grin. “The mortgage was about twenty grand a month until I paid it off, though.”

 

“Oh, my God,” Steve says under his breath. Bucky laughs at him again.

 

“Eight hundred’s nothing to me, baby,” Bucky promises. “You just enjoy your new toys and I’ll be happy.”

 

Steve looks with wide eyes over his shoulder at the bags behind his seat. “I’ll enjoy the shit out of them,” he says. “For fuckin’ eight hundred dollars, hell yeah I will.”

 

Bucky laughs again, kisses his knuckles and squeezes his hand. He has to put his hand back on his thigh and grip the steering wheel again as traffic abruptly speeds up, and Steve finds he dislikes the silence. He pulls out his phone, connects it to the car and scrolls through his songs for a while. He picks a feel-good playlist and just hits shuffle, then slumps to the left to lean on Bucky’s shoulder and shut his eyes.

 

And falls asleep.

Chapter Text

fuck me and love me

 

Bucky squeezes Steve's hand what feels like a minute later and Steve lifts his head, blinking. Then he grimaces and rolls his neck, feeling stiff from slumping to one side.

 

“We’re home,” Bucky offers.

 

Steve gives a nod. Home. He wants to be home just now.

 

“I told Luke and Hunter to help carry the groceries upstairs,” Bucky tells him. “You’re gonna take your new toys upstairs and think about what you’re in the mood for.”

 

Steve nods again, then yawns and twists around to take the paper bags from the back. Bucky gets out of the car as Steve unclips his seatbelt, walks around to open his door and take the bags from him to help him out. Steve adjusts his sweater, tugging down the sleeves, before taking the bags back from him. He hears footsteps and turns, seeing Luke and Hunter already approaching.

 

“Have a good afternoon out, boss?” Hunter asks.

 

“Great,” Bucky answers shortly. “Stuff’s in the trunk.”

 

He pops the trunk with a press of a button and Hunter and Luke walk forward with mildly dejected shoulders to load up on groceries. Bucky helps Steve settle the two bags from Dear John’s in his arms, then pushes him forward to join Luke and Hunter at the trunk in taking out the groceries. Steve ends up just standing there, within arms’ reach of Bucky with the paper bags in his hands, while Bucky and his suits empty the trunk. Hunter slams the lid of the trunk and Bucky jostles bags to lock the car.

 

“Let’s go,” Bucky says to Steve.

 

Both of their hands are full, so Steve walks close to his side as the two bodyguards head for the elevators. Bucky glances at him a couple times, and Steve bumps their shoulders together, offering him a smile. At the elevator, the operator presses the button for the 95th floor and Bucky gives Steve a slight nudge towards the corner. Steve puts his back to it, and Bucky comes to stand beside him, framing him by the walls and effectively shielding him from the other Alphas in the elevator. Steve drops his head onto Bucky’s shoulder and shuts his eyes.

 

When the elevator stops, Hunter and Luke file out and aim for the kitchen. Last night, Bucky had waited there for their return, but this time he simply follows them. Steve trails behind him, and when Bucky reaches the doorway of the kitchen, he pauses to turn around and look at Steve.

 

“Upstairs,” Bucky reminds him.

 

Steve hesitates. Bucky raises his eyebrows, but not in a stern manner, as though asking a gentle question. Steve bites his lip, then turns his face to the side and sticks his cheek out. Bucky’s lips press to his cheek, and Steve takes a step back, smiling lightly.

 

“Go on,” Bucky says. He’s smiling fondly again.

 

Steve gives a nod and makes for the stairs. Bucky vanishes into the kitchen, as Steve heads for the second level and their bedroom. This morning, he had slipped into an existential slump wondering when their bedroom had become their bedroom, and now, Steve simply kicks the door open and drops the two paper bags onto the dresser. He takes a minute to use the bathroom, using nearby baby wipes to make sure he’s thoroughly clean, then wanders back into the bedroom.

 

Steve sits down on the bed, then, wondering what he’s meant to do next. Bucky had told him to think about what kind of mood he was in and what he was in the mood for and Steve isn’t sure what the answer to that question is. He isn’t sure what Bucky means by mood.

 

In the end, Steve ends up standing up and walking over to the dresser to empty the bags. He places the bundles of rope neatly on the end of the dresser, then lines up the toys and places the collars next to each other. He crumples up the bags and sets them aside to be recycled later, then goes back to standing in front of the dresser, just looking at the sex toys.

 

Steve’s gaze drifts to the collars. One for Bucky’s slut, one for Bucky’s doll. Did Bucky mean for Steve to pick a collar, and from there indicate what kind of sex he wanted? Rough and hard and merciless, or gentle and sweet, like Bucky had been acting all day? Steve tilts his head as he looks at the collars, then picks up the slim blue collar and rubs a thumb over the leather. It’s smooth and shiny, and if he looks carefully he can see himself reflected in the leather, let alone the silver studs. He rotates the collar to look at the ring attached to the front of the collar and remembers that the tags are in Bucky’s pocket still.

 

Steve holds the collar against his chest and looks at the other toys. What mood is he in? As much as he wants to try the SLUT paddle, he doesn’t think it would help his headspace right now. And Bucky said that he wouldn’t use the cock ring on him today, for which Steve thinks he’s grateful. He’s not sure he wants to be even edged tonight, something he usually likes. He looks at the dildos and the plugs, picks up a package or two and puts them back down, and ends up lifting a strand of the silk rope. He rubs it between his fingers, feeling the smoothness and coolness.

 

Bucky had tied his wrists last night and Steve had loved it. He thinks deeper into the idea, imagines Bucky tying down his limbs to the four corners of the bed, or restrained on his knees with his ass in the air, or even suspended, and thinks that he’d love to try each of those things. As a hooker, Steve was usually the one tying people up, but being bound last night had left him feeling secured. He vaguely recalled telling Bucky that it had made him feel controlled, that he had liked the fact that Bucky was the one controlling him, and now he thinks that that’s what it means to him. He’s Bucky’s, to have and own.

 

But right now? Steve feels out of his skin, displaced and disconcerted, and he just wants Bucky to keep being gentle and sweet.

 

He hears a knock and turns around. Bucky shuts the door behind him and smiles, and as Steve starts walking toward him, he crosses to the bed and sits down on the end.

 

“C’mere,” Bucky tells him softly and points to the floor in front of him.

 

Steve walks over and carefully kneels down, shuffling forward when Bucky parts his knees to put his hands on Bucky’s thighs. He’s still holding the collar, which Bucky takes from his fingers.

 

Bucky reaches into his pocket and takes out the two tags. He puts one aside, and the second, he strings onto the ring at the front. Steve watches him work open the link with a thumb, thread it onto the collar and the bands of metal snap as Bucky attaches it. Bucky unbuckles the collar, then holds it up and pauses.

 

“Tell me you want this,” Bucky says with a quiet firmness.

 

Steve lifts his chin to him. Bucky gives him a smile and a nod, and reaches around his neck to buckle the collar around his throat. Steve shuts his eyes, feeling the bite of the leather as Bucky adjusts the buckle, the roughness of his finger as he pushes it between the collar and his skin to check the tightness, and when Bucky stops touching his neck, Steve lets his breath out slowly.

 

“The nice thing about this one,” Bucky begins, a gentle murmur as his hands cup Steve’s face and tilt it back down, “is that it’s water resistant.”

 

Steve nods once.

 

“So here’s my plan, pretty,” Bucky says. Steve nods again, pressing closer to him even as his ears heat up at being called pretty as a name and not an adjective. “We’re gonna take a shower. I’m going to wash my doll, and you ain’t gonna complain that I’m bein’ too sweet on you, honey, y’hear?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve answers quietly.

 

“I want you to just do what I tell you,” Bucky continues. He reaches up with a hand to pet through his hair as he speaks and Steve lets his eyes fall shut. “You don’t need to be talking, not unless I ask you a question and then I want you to answer with just yes, sir or no, sir or the first thing that comes to your mind. If you need something different than what I’m givin’ you, I want you to use the one to five scale, one is good to go and five is stop unless I say different. I’ll ask you now and then where you are and I want you to answer honestly, honey.”

 

Bucky taps his chin and Steve opens his eyes. “Do you understand?” Bucky asks

 

Steve nods again. Bucky raises his eyebrows and Steve adds a clear: “Yes, sir.”

 

Bucky gives him an approving nod and pushes his fingers through Steve’s hair. “If at any point you need a full stop, what do you say?”

 

“Brooklyn,” Steve answers.

 

“And if you need me to stop and check in with you?”

 

“Jersey?” Steve says. He frames it like a question because he thought Jersey just meant slow down. Maybe that’s the same thing.

 

Bucky nods once more and leans in. Steve shuts his eyes, and Bucky’s lips connect with his forehead. Steve lets out a soft, disappointed sound and Bucky laughs gently.

 

“You’ll get all the kisses you need, dolly,” Bucky says. Steve sticks his chin out, and Bucky’s lips meet his. Just for a moment, a gentle press, then Bucky’s pulling back. “There you go. I’m gonna carry you, baby boy.”

 

Steve nods. Bucky’s hands slip from his head and hair down his back, following the curve of his spine, before sweeping around to cup his waist.

 

“Dolls don’t walk, y’know?” Bucky murmurs in his ear. His hands shift up to Steve’s armpits and he lifts up, lifting Steve off his knees and into the air. Steve grabs Bucky’s shoulders and throws his legs around his waist, and Bucky changes his grip to cradle Steve against his body. “Shh,” he coos, “I got you, honey, I got you.”

 

Steve nods into his neck. Bucky puts one hand under his ass and the other at the back of his neck, squeezing briefly. Steve sighs. The pressure blanks his mind effectively.

 

“I’m gonna get you nice and clean,” Bucky says to him as he begins to walk. “I know it’s gonna feel good, but we’re just showering right now.”

 

Steve nods again. Bucky smooths a hand down his neck.

 

“I’ll tell you what’s happening next in the shower,” he says. His face is turned in, so his lips brush Steve’s ear as he talks and Steve finds himself hugging him tighter for it. “All you gotta do is be good for me, dolly.”

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve murmurs, even though it wasn’t a question. Bucky just kisses his ear.

 

Bucky’s hand shifts to the small of his back, then he’s lowering him gently. Steve goes to put his feet on the floor and get his weight under him, but the hand under his ass sweeps down to lift his thighs and Steve picks his feet back up.

 

“Putting you on the bench, baby,” Bucky says. Steve gives a nod and Bucky places him on cool marble, inside the shower even though he’s still dressed. Bucky straightens up, then pauses to cup his face and kiss his hair before stepping back. “I’ll be right back,” he says.

 

Steve nods again and Bucky turns away. Steve scoots back on the bench and leans against the wall, watching Bucky walk away. He opens a cupboard and riffles through it for a moment, then pulls back with something in his hand. Bucky walks back into the shower, into the center, and unfolds a chair. Steve raises his eyebrows, wondering why Bucky would have a shower chair, but doesn’t ask. Bucky walks back over to him and brushes through his hair a moment.

 

Then he kneels down and puts his hands at Steve’s hips.

 

“Arms up,” he says gently.

 

Steve obeys. He raises his arms above his head and Bucky lifts the hem of his sweater, standing up to get it over his head. Bucky shakes it out and walks away to drop it into the laundry hamper, and just walks back. He unbuckles the gun holster strapped to Steve's waist, takes it away and sets it on the counter, popping out the clip of the gun and clearing the chamber with a yank on the barrel as he does. Again he walks back, and this time sits down next to him.

 

Bucky lifts his knees off the bench, and at the same time puts a hand on his shoulder and pushes. Steve swings his legs over Bucky’s lap and lies back, placing his arms under his head as a cushion. Bucky slips the switchblade from his pocket and puts it in his jacket, then undoes the button of his jeans. Steve lifts his hips for Bucky to slip the jeans down his ass, and relaxes again as Bucky pulls them off his ankles.

 

Bucky lifts his knees again, stands up and lays his legs down on the bench. Steve lets his heels slip forward until he’s laying flat with his feet hanging off the end of the bench, and Bucky again drops Steve's clothes into the hamper.

 

Steve is left naked but for the collar around his neck declaring him the property of Bucky Barnes. A light hum starts up in the back of his head. He loves this feeling.

 

Bucky returns a third time and bends to kiss his forehead. Steve gives him a smile as he straightens back, then raises a hand to loosen his tie.

 

“You’re bein’ a good doll for me, baby boy,” Bucky tells him matter-of-factly. “You keep this up and I’ll give you somethin’ special.”

 

Steve nods. He relaxes on the bench, feeling light and pliable under Bucky’s soft gaze. With nothing expected of him but to obey, to listen, he feels free.

 

Bucky pulls his tie free and reaches down to brush at Steve’s cheek with his knuckles. Steve tilts his head up and to the side slightly, exposing his cheek to him and his soft touches. He sees Bucky’s smile in the corner of his eye and copies it. When Bucky pulls back, he looks to the left and watches Bucky step out of the shower and take off his jacket. He puts his phone and wallet on the sink, sets his jacket over the toilet lid and takes off the holster from his shoulders. Steve watches him pull his shirt free of his trousers, watches him take off his cufflinks and undo the buttons of his shirt. Bucky glances over at Steve and smiles at him as he drops his shirt into the hamper and pulling off his singlet.

 

“How you doin’, baby boy?” Bucky asks him.

 

“Good,” Steve murmurs.

 

Bucky raises his eyebrows as he unloops his belt. “Scale of one to five, remember?” he says.

 

“One,” Steve corrects.

 

Bucky gives a satisfied nod and looks down to pull his belt free. Steve licks his lips while Bucky puts his belt aside.

 

He watches Bucky’s fingers move, the way he pops open the button of his slacks with a twist of his thumb and forefinger, as he grips the waistband to tug down the zipper. Steve loves Bucky’s hands. His fingers are thick and knuckles knobbly, his thumbs stick out, almost too long, the backs of his hands are broad with the bones and veins prominent, and the calluses on his hands are visible even from a distance. Bucky lets his trousers hang open as he tugs off the rings on his hands, unstraps his watch and sets it down, and Steve watches Bucky's fingers moving. The first thing he’ll draw with his new charcoals will be Bucky’s knobbly hands.

 

Then Bucky pushes down both his slacks and his boxers, and Steve thinks a vague amendment; the first thing he’ll draw is Bucky as a whole. As Bucky separates the two items and folds them over an arm, Steve traces the lines of his muscles down his body with his eyes. His knees are as knobbly as his knuckles, his ankles are sharp and his toes poke up at the middle joint. Bucky puts his pants and underwear in the hamper and Steve takes in the soft hairs lining Bucky's body. Steve had gotten to feel Bucky’s skin under his palms the first night, when Bucky had let him blow him in the shower, but his skin had been wet then. Steve wonders if the light layering of hair over his thighs and calves is soft; the curls at his groin are coarse, but the trail down his stomach and smattering over his pecs is soft. Steve's gaze slips back to his hands and wonders what his bare forearms feel like.

 

Bucky takes a jar down from the rack over the toilet and pulls a hair elastic from it. He puts the jar down and then pushes back his hair and Steve watches in awe as Bucky ties back his hair. He doesn’t pull the tail through the last loop of the elastic and it hangs in a sloppy bun at the top of his head, and already slight strands are escaping to lie over his temples and the back of his neck. The gray in his hair shines as Bucky walks toward the shower under the white fluorescent lights.

 

Bucky reaches him and Steve tells himself that he’s entranced with what would normally be flaws because he misses drawing so much, but as Bucky takes his hands, he knows he’s only lying to himself.

 

Well. He only promised to be honest to Bucky.

 

Bucky pulls on his hands and Steve sits up, swinging his legs off the bench. He goes to stand up and Bucky puts a hand on his shoulder, stopping him.

 

“Now, honey,” he says, then smiles, “dolls can’t walk, can they?”

 

Steve opens his mouth with the intention to say possessed ones do and shuts it again. Instead, he says: “No, sir.”

 

He's no demon doll, he's Bucky’s pretty babydoll.

 

Bucky lifts the hand from his shoulder to touch his cheek. “Good baby,” he praises softly, and Steve grins. He presses his cheek into Bucky’s hand. “There’s my sweet dolly,” Bucky murmurs and Steve’s cheeks heat. “You blush so pretty, Stevie.”

 

“Thank you, sir,” Steve mumbles.

 

“I’m jus’ makin’ an honest-to-God observation,” Bucky tells him with a flick of his eyebrow and a smile. “No need to thank me for pointing out the obvious.”

 

Steve drops his gaze as he blushes harder. Bucky’s hand drops again, and he knocks a knuckle under Steve’s chin.

 

“Look up, honey,” Bucky says, but Steve is already lifting his gaze. Bucky smiles at him with his eyes, crows’ feet growing and Steve reaches up without thinking to touch his face.

 

Bucky puts a hand on his wrist and squeezes, then lets go to put his hands under Steve’s arms. This time Steve is prepared for it and Bucky lifts him off the bench like a doll. Bucky lays him against his shoulder and circles his arms around his body to cradle him like a doll. Steve hugs his neck and wraps his legs around Bucky’s hips, then shivers and clings to him harder at the hot press of skin against skin.

 

“Shh,” Bucky murmurs, sweeping a hand down his back. “We’re only showering right now, baby.”

 

Steve lets out his breath but doesn’t complain about it. Bucky turns, then lowers Steve into the shower chair. Steve looks down at it as Bucky takes a step back to turn on the shower, flinches at the backsplash of cold water when the rainfall showerheads come to life. Bucky walks to a metal shelf in the corner and Steve watches him walk, even as the water heats up and steam fogs up the glass. Bucky’s muscles are taut under his skin, his back ripples as he bends and his glutes tighten up while he moves and the tendons in his knees stick out when he crouches down.

 

Bucky straightens up and walks over, soap bottles in hand, and Steve tips his head to the side, wondering if Bucky will tell him why he’s in a mobility assistance chair. Bucky puts the soaps on the marble bench, out of reach of the water, and takes the arms of the shower chair in hand.

 

“Hold on,” Bucky says, then drags the chair under the water. Steve grabs the metal arms of the chair, but Bucky is nearly picking it up and the chair doesn’t skid as it moves. The water warmed quickly, and Bucky positions the chair in the center of it.

 

Steve tips his head back, letting the water quickly soak his hair. The water runs down his face, and at his neck, curves in rivulets over and under his collar. The metal tag hangs over the dip of his clavicle, almost a sharp point, and the water parts around it.

 

Bucky’s hands come to rest on his shoulders and Steve lifts his head, opening his eyes.

 

“I’m going to wash you now,” Bucky tells him. “You, sweet boy, are just gonna sit here and be a good doll for me.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve answers. Bucky picks up his left hand and turns it over to drop a kiss onto his palm. Steve tips his head to the side as he smiles at Bucky, then Bucky pulls his arm out further and kisses the nerve-dead scent gland in his wrist.

 

Anyone calling attention to the scars on his arm usually has Steve closing off, pulling back and withdrawing from them in general. Bucky kisses each scar down Steve’s left arm and Steve loses his ability to breathe.

 

“How are you, baby?” Bucky murmurs, his lips still touching Steve’s forearm.

 

“One,” Steve exhales.

 

Bucky sets his arm down and reaches up to cup and kiss his face. He steps away, and Steve slumps in the chair. He doesn’t have to do anything at all.

 

Bucky returns with shampoo. He pours it into a palm, lathers it into Steve’s hair and Steve simply melts into the chair. Bucky’s nails scrape gently against his scalp, his fingers massage the shampoo into his hair. His hands work over every bit of Steve’s scalp, from hairline to nape, and Steve’s eyes fall shut. The soap runs off eventually, since Steve is still under the water, and Bucky keeps massaging his scalp long after.

 

“Here’s my plan, dolly,” Bucky says. He pulls the chair out from under the water, and the shower is so steamed up that Steve hardly feels the change in temperature. “I’m gonna get you all clean, then I’m gonna plug up your ass with your new vibrator and turn it on low.”

 

Steve shifts in the chair, squeezing his thighs together. Bucky’s hands grasp his knees and force him to still.

 

“I’ll only turn it on low,” Bucky tells him. “And then I’m gonna use some of that nice silk rope that I bought and bind your wrists. You’re gonna kneel on that floor cushion and I, my pretty baby, am gonna give you a massage.”

 

Steve opens one eye to squint at him. Bucky gives him a grin and picks up conditioner.

 

“Now, you won’t get to come until you’re nice and relaxed,” he says as he squirts conditioner into his palm. “It’s not a good idea for you to go back into subspace so soon after dropping, but I can get your head and body nice and quiet. And after I’ve massaged you, we’ll see what happens next.”

 

Steve squints at Bucky. Bucky only smirks, because he clearly has a plan for what happens after massaging Steve. Steve feels the urge to complain, and Bucky raises his eyebrows when Steve opens his mouth as if to ask him what he thinks he’s doing. Steve shuts his mouth again. Pretty dolls don't talk.

 

Bucky gives an approving nod. He starts working the conditioner into Steve’s hair, and at the return of his touch Steve melts once again, Bucky’s hidden plan forgotten.

 

Steve sits slumped in the chair. Bucky takes body wash to his skin with bare palms, gentle even with his rough skin. He washes Steve’s hands, his wrists, up his arms to his neck and shoulders, over his chest and the sides of his ribs back up to his armpits, and Bucky moves him every time he needs him to, so that Steve hardly has to budge. Steve watches his intense concentration with lidded eyes and just smiles to himself while he’s under Bucky’s gaze. His attention is gratifying, better now that Steve knows that he earned it. It’s more satisfying now that he knows Bucky became fixated on him before he lusted for him. Bucky washes down his chest, pulling him forward from the chair to wash his back, and runs his soaped up hands over the tops of his thighs. He kneels down on the marble floor.

 

Bucky looks up, making eye contact, then pulls apart his knees and runs his palm inside Steve’s thigh. Steve inhales sharply, then slouches forward to push his hips up and out. Bucky’s gaze is fixed firmly on Steve’s body, he looks enchanted and transfixed, and even while his fingers are gentle there’s a predatory spark in his first frost of winter eyes.

 

Bucky’s fingers push farther up his thigh and Steve spreads his legs, his tongue slipping out to sweep across his lower lip, and Bucky retracts his hand to wash the back of his knee. Steve lets out his breath in disappointment and Bucky shoots him a smile.

 

“Patience, dolly,” he murmurs. He massages almost down Steve’s calf to his ankle, then sweeps around to wash his foot. “One thing at a time.”

 

Steve nods once, swallowing hard. Bucky washes his toes with a devoted reverence, then reaches down to pour more soap into his palm. Bucky takes his other foot and gives it the same careful treatment, then goes up at his ankle with gentle-yet-rough fingers. As his hands near his thighs again, Steve’s breathing picks up.

 

Bucky lifts his knee to wash down the back of his thigh, then sweeps his palm in and up. Steve lets out a quiet noise, shifting forward in the chair. Bucky shoots out a hand to press down on his stomach and Steve stills.

 

“Patience,” Bucky repeats. “I’ll give you what you need, baby boy, don’t worry.”

 

Steve nods again. Bucky pulls the hand away from his stomach and palms his knee. He simply continues with his task, lifting his other thigh and washing the back of it, dragging him back under the water to rinse off the soap and putting him back just past the water’s edge even with the same intense concentration that makes Steve think – or hope – that the wolf is plotting his chance to pounce.

 

Bucky stands up and places the body wash aside. He puts his hands under the water to rinse them, then turns around and comes to stand in front of Steve. He takes Steve's jaw and rubs a thumb along his face, eyes calculating. Steve swallows hard.

 

“There’s only one thing left to do to you,” Bucky says. “I think you know what it is.”

 

Steve shifts in the chair and nods. Bucky sweeps his thumb over his cheek again.

 

“I’m gonna need a little more patience from you, dolly,” Bucky tells him calmly. “Then you can have a treat. Clear?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve says through his dry mouth.

 

Bucky bends at the waist and kisses his cheek with gentle lips, and Steve turns his head to the side, his mouth hanging open and his eyes shut. But instead of Bucky’s lips, he gets two fingers pressed to his lower lip.

 

“Suck,” Bucky murmurs in his ear.

 

Steve ducks his head to get the fingers on his mouth. They taste sharp, bitter and almost metallic, probably traces of the soap, but Steve pulls them into his mouth anyway. He runs his tongue over both of them to get them wet, then presses it flat underneath them and slots the metal stud in his tongue between Bucky’s fingers and pulls back. He nearly pulls off but stops at the first joint to close his lips over them and curl the tip of his tongue under their rough pads and suckle on them rhythmically. Steve turns his head to the side and mouths down the length of Bucky’s index finger, licks at his hand and finds the taste of his skin growing salty.

 

Steve can smell Bucky, his growing arousal and it makes his toes flex on the lower rung of the chair. He grips the arms of his chair and resettles his weight, feeling a wetness that isn’t water smoothing between the cheeks of his ass. He mouths back up Bucky’s fingers with a thirsty tongue like it’s actually his cock, and just as he parts his lips to suck his ring finger into his mouth, Bucky grips a fist in his hair and pulls his hand away.

 

“You gorgeous thing,” Bucky exhales in his ear. “Look at you, baby boy, them lips are fucking sinful.”

 

Steve tips his head back in Bucky’s grip, nodding quickly, and Bucky bends to bite a spot on his neck before kissing it.

 

“Such a pretty doll,” Bucky coos into his neck. “Now, if you can just be patient a little longer, there’s more where that came from.”

 

Steve lets out a whimper and Bucky kisses his neck. He releases his hair and pulls back, and Steve forces his eyes open as Bucky steps away from him.

 

“How you doing, sweet thing?” Bucky asks him calmly. He’s picking up the body wash again and ducking under the water's spray. “Scale of one to five.”

 

“Two,” Steve mutters. Bucky puts down the bottle of soap immediately and walks back to him. He takes the arms of the chair and drags him to the water, and Steve straightens his posture to present his cheek to him. Bucky kisses his cheek tenderly, and when he pulls away, Steve slouches again.

 

“Now?” Bucky asks softly.

 

“One,” Steve says.

 

Bucky kisses his cheek a second time, straightens up and picks up the body wash. Steve watches him pour it into his palm and begin to lather it over his skin. On a whim, Steve reaches out and catches his hand.

 

Bucky gives pause to step into his space and Steve asks: “Can I?”

 

Bucky tips his head to the side. Then he bends to pick up the body wash and takes Steve’s hand with careful fingers. He pours the soap into his palm and Steve takes a second to watch the water put dents in the gel before pressing his palms together and working it into a lather. Bucky puts his hands on the rails of the chair and leans in, so when Steve looks up, he’s nose-to-skin with Bucky’s chest.

 

“Go ahead, dolly,” Bucky murmurs.

 

Steve takes the soap to Bucky’s pecs. He's slow, using his fingers as much as his palms, and begins to map out Bucky’s skin under the barely concealed pretense of washing him. Bucky’s arms frame him in place, his head tilted down to watch, and Steve runs the soap over Bucky’s torso. His fingers find the subtle changes between his ribs. They slip between the crevices of his abdominal muscles.

 

There’s a long, jagged scar just under his sternum; clearly old and reduced to a thick line. Steve’s surprised that he didn’t notice it before, but it then again, it lies almost within a line of muscle, nearly camouflaged in the natural topography of Bucky’s body. Steve wonders where it came from. He looks closer, with intent, and finds other, old scars. A knot of a scar just above Bucky’s hip on the right side. A short, crooked line on his left shoulder. A raised scar on his ribs just under his arm, that feels like it would be easily visible if Steve had ever taken the time to look at Bucky’s underarms. He wonders if there are others, and again, what their stories are.

 

Steve slides his hands around to Bucky’s back, feeling for more scars, and he looks up as his hands follow the line of his spine. Bucky’s eyes fix on his instantly. His pupils are blown.

 

Steve swallows and Bucky tips his head to the side. Steve looks down, knowing that he has to be patient, and sweeps his hands over Bucky’s shoulders. The soap is nearly run out and as his hands fall back to his chest, Bucky reaches up and takes his wrists.

 

“Sweet boy,” Bucky murmurs. Steve flushes even with the hot water cascading down his body, and Bucky lets the soap run off his palms before kissing both. “Thank you for that, babydoll.”

 

Steve’s mouth is dry as he nods. Bucky releases his hands to take the soap bottle again and finish washing himself. Steve’s gaze eventually follows the lines of hair trailing down Bucky’s torso. He wants his treat now.

 

Bucky puts the body wash away. Steve sits up straighter, waiting, yet Bucky picks up another bottle before turning back.

 

“You know what this is?” Bucky asks him.

 

“Baby shampoo, sir,” Steve says. Bucky cups his face and kisses his cheek and Steve relaxes a little.

 

“What am I going to do with it?” Bucky murmurs in his ear.

 

Steve blinks. Then, amazingly, he flushes. “You’re – You’re gonna –”

 

“You can say it,” Bucky tells him. “I’m getting my babydoll clean, honey.”

 

Steve laughs nervously and shakes his head. “You’re gonna clean me,” he says awkwardly. “Down… There.”

 

“Yep,” Bucky answers.

 

“Shouldn’t I do it?” Steve mutters.

 

“Nah,” Bucky says. He kisses Steve's cheek again and leans back. “Scale of one to five, dolly.”

 

Steve swallows once more. This is awkward; it’s something that’s usually arousing but where cleaning is concerned, Steve has never had anybody else soap up his ass. He's already incredibly articulate about his own anal hygiene, it came with his job, but the farthest he's gone to enlist an outside party’s assistance is for waxing and that was only because he kept hurting himself doing it by himself. Even then, he only gets Darcy’s help. This is a different level of intimate.

 

But… They are on a different level of intimate. As in, legitimately intimate. Bucky’s not his client.

 

“One,” Steve says finally. “Maybe one and a half.”

 

Bucky offers him a smile and holds out a hand.

 

“Up, dolly,” he says. Steve slips off the chair and Bucky takes his waist to steady him even though Steve isn't swaying. “Turn around.”

 

Steve shuffles around. Bucky takes one of his hands and puts it on the seat of the chair and Steve follows with his other hand. He grips the seat with both hands and is already widening his stance when Bucky’s foot taps his ankle.

 

“Good baby,” Bucky praises him gently. A palm presses to his ass and Steve puts his forearms on the chair, bending over more for him. Bucky drops a kiss onto his spine and Steve looks over his shoulder in time to see Bucky kneeling down.

 

Steve looks away again, swallowing. Bucky’s hands cup his ass and spread his cheeks, then one pulls away and a second later a cold finger presses between his cheeks.

 

“Speak up if your number changes,” Bucky tells him.

 

Steve hangs his head, blowing out his breath as the soap starts to tingle, but it still feels like lube and Steve's heartbeat is doing its harsh bass beat again. Bucky spreads the soap around, then lightly presses with a fingertip to his hole and Steve shuffles his feet. He tries not to think that Bucky is on eye-level with his ass, that he could easily move forward and start tonguing his rim, and the hand on his ass shifts to stroke his hip.

 

“Easy now, babydoll. Relax.”

 

Steve gives a nod, but that’s the thing, he’s great at relaxing. His ass can go from virgin tight to loose and wet in five minutes, but it’s all an act and involves more yoga than arousal. Steve is great at relaxing. This, though, this is just plain arousing.

 

Bucky’s fingertip swirls over his hole and probes gently into it. It’s fucking soap, Bucky is washing out his ass, the soap tingles even mild as it is and Steve keeps telling himself that, yet he’s reacting nonetheless. Bucky has to release him and pull his hand away to add more soap and already Steve can feel his body’s own natural fluids pushing the soap out.

 

“Shh,” Bucky murmurs. “What’s your number?”

 

“One,” Steve says under his breath.

 

Bucky’s finger slips out and then back in, deeper, and Steve lets out a quiet sound.

 

“I’ve got a douche,” Bucky tells him as his finger gently probes farther and farther. “I’ll get you nice ’n’ clean, honey. When we’re done here, I’m gonna dry you off and plug up your pretty little hole.”

 

Steve shifts on his heels, pressing his forehead into his arms. Bucky’s grip tightens on his hip as his finger sweeps deeper.

 

“Shh,” he coos again, “not long now, honey, just gotta be patient a minute more.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve mutters. He can be patient. He resettles his weight and lifts his head up to swallow, then Bucky’s finger swirls slowly, spiraling deeper and he breaks off to suck in a breath. “Sir,” Steve mumbles, “sir, please –”

 

“Shh, shh,” Bucky answers, and his finger slips free. Steve only whines. “I’ve got you, babydoll, just a minute.”

 

Bucky strokes up his hip, then with both hands as he stands up and drops a kiss onto his spine. “I’ll be right back,” he promises. “Just stay still.”

 

“Yessir,” Steve says. Bucky kisses his shoulder, then withdraws from him. Steve adjusts his stance a little, folding and unfolding his fingers, then Bucky’s hand spreads over the small of his back and sweeps down to cup his hip.

 

“Good boy,” Bucky tells him sweetly, “such a pretty boy, Stevie.”

 

Steve loses tension from his shoulders he didn’t know he’d gathered. Bucky kisses the back of his neck, then does it again and Steve shudders as he starts to suck a mark into his skin. The soap, even though it’s baby shampoo, still bites in his ass; then Bucky shifts to stand behind and over him, body blanketing his as he sucks marks new into his neck and Steve can forget about the soap tingling on his skin. He whimpers and pushes back against him, and Bucky just crowds in closer.

 

Steve feels enveloped, absolutely delighted to be covered so fully, and the weight of Bucky’s body makes him forget that this isn’t even sex yet.

 

“Fucking hell, babydoll,” Bucky murmurs into his ear, “this neck so pretty, I don’t get why I ain’t on you like a dog every fuckin’ second of the fuckin’ day, sweetheart.”

 

Steve just pushes back against him, soaped up ass and all.

 

“I’m gonna leave this pretty neck a mosaic a’color, honey,” Bucky promises him sweetly. “Gonna leave so many damn marks you can’t see what color it was s’posed to be.”

 

“Please,” Steve murmurs.

 

Bucky makes a low, gravelly sound deep in his throat – Steve can feel it vibrating in his chest where Bucky’s body blankets his – but pulls back and runs his hands down Steve’s sides to his hips. Steve looks over his shoulder again, and watches as he picks up a silicon douche and palms his asscheek in the other hand.

 

“You ready, dolly?” Bucky asks him. Steve gives a nod and looks away, letting his head hang over his arms.

 

Still, he winces at the cold nozzle of the douche. The soap doesn’t allow much lubrication and with it dissolving any slick his body is making, the nozzle bites into tender skin as Bucky gently works it in. Steve shifts his heels, trying to relax, and Bucky shushes him softly, rubbing his hip. At least the water is warm. Steve is, by now, accustomed to the feeling of douching, and it’s a relief when Bucky retracts it.

 

“Good boy,” Bucky tells him, “just stay relaxed, it’s just water.”

 

Steve, though, pushes himself up a little. “Lemme stand under the water,” he says, and Bucky takes his hands when he lifts off the chair.

 

“Hold onto me, dolly,” Bucky says and Steve wraps an arm around his waist.  

 

He’s a little bit lightheaded, both from the heat of the air and bending over and the fact that his blood is shitty; he’s iron deficient. Bucky shuffles them around until they’re standing in the spray of water again, and Steve leans on his chest while the water drains from his body.

 

“I dunno why you didn’t want me to do it,” Steve mumbles, his lips brushing Bucky’s skin as he speaks. “‘S not very sexy.”

 

“I wanna take care of my baby,” Bucky answers quietly. Steve shivers and hugs him tighter. “You like hearin’ that, don’tcha, honey?” he adds in a purr and Steve nods against his chest. “You’re my pretty baby, aren’t you, Stevie?”

 

Steve shifts to press his forehead into Bucky’s chest, hiding his face, until Bucky’s fingers slip under his chin and lift his face up. Bucky smiles down at him, first frost eyes with crows’ feet at the corners, and Steve reaches up just to press a hand against his cheek.

 

“You’re my pretty baby, Stevie,” Bucky says happily and holds Steve’s chin firmly when he gets the urge to duck and hide his face. “Aw, don’t be shy, baby, lemme see them gorgeous eyes, huh?”

 

“They’re just eyes,” Steve mutters.

 

“Don’t talk back at me, baby,” Bucky scolds him lightly, tapping his chin with a thumb and still smiling. “I say your eyes are gorgeous, so they’re gorgeous. Took me ages to decide what kinda blue they are, honey, they’re so pretty.”

 

Steve’s ears are red again and Bucky’s grip is firm on his chin, otherwise he’d avoid eye contact by hiding his face.

 

“They’re like starlight,” Bucky says softly. He releases Steve’s chin, to reach up and brush his cheek with his knuckles. “Guiding me home, sweetheart.”

 

“Now you’re jus’ bein’ sappy,” Steve says hoarsely.

 

“Nah,” Bucky murmurs. “Just pointing out the obvious.”

 

He cups Steve’s cheek and ducks down to press their lips together sweetly, and even if it’s soft, Steve finds that he can’t quite breathe. Bucky pulls back and caresses his cheek again, looking down at him – Steve is sure that he can’t breathe right – with a spark of something loving in his eyes.

 

It’s been so long since anybody looked at him and saw him, and didn’t find him wanting. Breathtaking and terrifying as its implications are, Steve is instantly and wholeheartedly addicted to that spark more than any predatory gleam in Bucky’s wolf’s eyes.

 

“Turn around,” Bucky tells him. Steve rotates on the spot, Bucky’s hands slide down his body as he kneels down, and Steve shuts his eyes as Bucky palms and spreads his ass. “How’s it feel up there, babydoll? You need another rinse?”

 

“No,” Steve says. Bucky squeezes his ass before standing up and sliding his hands around to hug Steve from the back, pulling him against his chest.

 

“You remember I said I was gonna give you a treat if you were patient?” Bucky whispers in his ear. Steve nods quickly. “I hope you’re ready, sweet thing. I don’t do this a whole lot.”

 

Steve lets Bucky turn him around, but he’s confused when Bucky puts a hand on his arm, stopping him from kneeling even before he can process what he’d just said. Bucky bends to kiss his cheek, then he kneels instead and Steve’s eyes widen, understanding.

 

“When’s the last time somebody gave this sweet lil’ cock a good sucking?” Bucky asks him as one hand takes his hip and the other closes around him, stroking gently.

 

Steve just shrugs absently; not many people pay to give blowjobs rather than receive them.

 

Bucky huffs, smiling dryly, and drops a kiss onto his navel ring. “Well, I promise to fix that, sweet thing.”

 

Steve’s breath jerks out of his lungs in a gasp as Bucky ducks his head. Steve shuts his eyes and drops his head back, only to pull it back as the water gets in his mouth and nose and he grabs a hold of Bucky’s hair, just to steady himself. Bucky just hums into his work; his mouth feels like a pinprick, impossibly tight and warm. His left hand sweeps inside Steve’s thighs and the right presses between his cheeks and Steve lets out a long moan, gripping tighter to Bucky’s hair to stay upright.

 

Then Bucky pops off – and it is a pop, an obscene and wet pop! that Steve thought only happened in porn – and smiles up at him with red lips.

 

“Anytime you got an itch, babydoll,” Bucky tells him, then bends to press a wet kiss to him and Steve digs his toes into the shower floor, “you just sit yourself in my lap, and you say Sir –” Bucky nuzzles his face into his groin and kisses back up and Steve’s short of breath “– sir, would you please kiss my pretty cock?

 

Steve whimpers as Bucky kisses him again as though to prove his point.

 

“And it is such a pretty cock, Stevie,” Bucky tells him calmly, then ducks his head again and Steve gasps as Bucky’s mouth swallows him down completely; it’s not like he has an impressive length, but the mouth is only so deep and without experience, taking a cock into the throat like this is a difficult task. Yet Bucky does it effortlessly, despite having said that he didn’t go to his knees for many people. Steve is horribly aware of how long it takes to train away a gag reflex.

 

Bucky pops back off, then raises an eyebrow up at him and abruptly a finger pushes into him while at the same time lifting his left hand to stroke him and Steve curls in on himself, gasping. He’s almost reminded of childhood asthma attacks, but no asthma attack ever left him feeling so wonderful.

 

“What do you say, dolly?” Bucky asks him. “What’d’you say if you want your sir to suck your cock?”

 

“Please,” Steve gasps out.

 

“Close, but not quite,” Bucky says. A second finger joins the first and Steve is shaking where he stands, pushing back on the fingers and forward into the fist. “What did I tell you to say?”

 

“Please kiss my cock, sir,” Steve says, “please, sir, please –”

 

“One more word there, babydoll, one more word,” Bucky prompts him, as his hands work magic and Steve is left whining for his mouth. “C’mon, sweet thing, you can say it.”

 

“Please kiss my pretty cock,” Steve mumbles bashfully. Bucky grins at him.

 

“Of course I will, baby boy.”

 

Steve’s ears are burning and the water striking his shoulders and back feels like it’s hammering at his body. He’s nearly slumped over, leaning on Bucky’s shoulders with his hands fisted in that dummied-up bun. Bucky is making purely obscene sounds, slurping and humming and his fingers are faintly squelching, and Steve’s blood is roaring louder than the water pounding down on them.

 

Bucky pops off of him again and Steve fairly gasps at the abrupt loss of his mouth, but his left hand closes around Steve and begins to smoothly stroke, almost petting him.

 

“There’s a good boy,” Bucky says in a rough voice. Steve whimpers. “Did ya like your treat, sweet thing?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve mumbles; his voice is strung out and raspy, almost like he’d been the one sucking dick, not Bucky.

 

“Tell me how much you liked it, baby boy,” Bucky tells him, and his thumb swirls as he says it and Steve crumples forward just a little more, Bucky’s arm around his hips bracing him.

 

“I –” Steve starts, then stops, flushing again. “I really liked it, sir. Thank you.”

 

“Go on, baby, tell me exactly what you liked,” Bucky insists.

 

Then he pushes a third finger into Steve and he’s left gasping, rocking forward into his fist and back onto his fingers again.

 

“Ah, ah,” Bucky says, “just tell me what you liked, pretty doll.”

 

Steve whimpers again; he likes being called a pretty doll, that’s for sure. “I liked – I liked –”

 

“You can tell me, babydoll,” Bucky encourages lightly; he’s smiling, and Steve is blinking rapidly to keep his eyes open.

 

“I liked having your tongue on me,” Steve forces out. He’s embarrassed, and it’s shocking him just how bashful he’s gotten when all Bucky wants him to do is describe just what about having his dick sucked he enjoyed. “I liked having your fingers in me, sir.”

 

Now, Steve knows what Bucky’s doing, it’s something Steve does often with shy clients; get them talking about what they enjoyed and once they get relaxed, they can ask for what they really want, but Steve’s not shy. Not usually, anyway. He’s perfectly fine asking for what he wants.

 

“You like this?” Bucky questions, then crooks his fingers and Steve gasps out again, clenching his fists. His knees are shaking. “Do you like it when your sir makes you feel good, babydoll?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve mumbles with a high flush to his face.

 

“Now, you know what to ask if you want your sir to make you feel this way, don’t you?” Bucky asks. “You just walk up and tell me you need me to make you feel pretty, don’t you?”

 

Steve nods jerkily. Bucky smiles at him again.

 

“Go on and ask me, dolly,” Bucky says. “Practice once for me, then we’ll get out of the shower and I’ll fill up this lovely hole with somethin’ nice.”

 

“I need you to make me feel good, sir,” Steve says hesitantly.

 

“Now, that’s not what I told you to say,” Bucky says in a soft, but stern tone. “Try again, sweet boy.”

 

Steve licks his lips. Now he gets it.

 

“I need you to make me feel pretty,” Steve whispers. Bucky beams at him.

 

“Good boy,” he purrs. He presses a wet kiss to Steve and Steve rocks forward onto his toes, being caught by Bucky’s steadying hand at his hip. “Now you say that anytime you need to, dolly, I’ll always be right here to oblige.”

 

Steve’s ears are hot and he’s legitimately bashful, and it seems that Bucky has found the one part of him that hadn’t matured and grown bitter in his old age at a skyrocketing rate years ago. Steve’s knees are shaking, he’s trembling, but it’s hardly Bucky’s fingers massaging his prostate or curling around the head of his dick. It’s simply being told that he’s pretty, and Bucky wanting him to believe it.

 

He doesn’t know what’s different about being called pretty rather than sexy, or hot, or just plain attractive. Maybe it’s that pretty isn’t inherently sexual. Steve has, for so long, found his value as a sexual object, with a literal monetary value attached to how alluring he can look when he looks up through his lashes or the way lace lays on his skin. Bucky is not attaching any monetary value to him. Bucky trusts him, which means everything to him, and he thinks Steve is pretty both when he’s on his knees and when he’s smiling. Maybe that’s it.

 

Bucky releases him and sweeps a hand up his hip, cupping his waist. Steve leans on his shoulders as Bucky drops one last kiss on his navel, then pulls out his fingers and stands up. Steve nearly whines at the loss of sensation, but Bucky took him down slowly from the stimulation and it’s just being empty that leaves him shaking. Bucky’s hands sweep across his body, petting his flanks and murmuring quiet hushing noises into his hair.

 

“Lean on me, dragă,” Bucky tells him softly.

 

Steve drops his hands to Bucky’s chest, then circles his ribcage and puts his weight on him, shutting his eyes and blowing out his breath. His ankles and knees steady themselves as he leans on Bucky.

 

“Are you ready to get out, amantu meu?” Bucky asks.

 

Steve hums vaguely. It’s warm in the shower, but outside, he has the promise of Bucky’s hands on him again.

 

“I think we’ll sit in the living room for your massage,” Bucky says in his ear. “I’ll put on Planet Earth or something like that, how’s that sound, amantu meu?”

 

“Remind me what that means,” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky kisses his hair. “My lover.”

 

Steve hugs him tighter. He nods, and Bucky’s hands sweep around to his thighs. “Hold on,” he says, and Steve puts his arms around Bucky’s neck so Bucky can pick him up. Steve hangs off his torso, legs dangling on either side of his waist, and in his muddled mind, the places where their bodies touch are just warm.

 

Bucky turns off the shower and opens the door. Steve shivers at the rush of cold air and Bucky runs a hand down his spine, murmuring gently to him. Bucky puts him on his feet, but even though Steve gets his balance under him, keeps a firm grip on his upper arm as he goes in search of towels. Steve hugs himself, shivering, until Bucky drapes a towel around his shoulders and starts drying him off. He kneels, rubbing gently with the soft cotton, and Steve just stands there, remembering the first night he stayed with Bucky and he complained when Bucky tried to dry his hair for him.

 

Steve doesn’t complain now. Bucky told him not to fuss about him being sweet on him, and pretty dolls don’t disobey their sirs.

 

Bucky rises, taking the towel with him, and wraps it around Steve’s shoulders instead of his waist. Steve takes the tails and hugs it tightly around himself, feeling grateful as it’s warm. Bucky takes another towel and dries his hair, then presses a kiss to his cheek before stepping back to dry himself off.

 

Steve tips his head to the side as Bucky runs the towel over his body. He’s not as gentle with himself as he had been with him, he works quicker, too. He puts a foot on the lid of the toilet to towel off his shin and under his thigh, and Steve trails his gaze up the curves of his body. He wants to draw Bucky, in a thousand different poses and states of undress, just to capture the beauty of his lean muscles, the hard lines under his skin in contrast with the soft edges.

 

Bucky glances at him, and Steve’s not embarrassed to be caught looking.

 

“What’re you gawking at, honey?” Bucky laughs. He drops his foot off the toilet and moves in closer, infiltrating Steve’s personal space.

 

Steve closes the gap. He lifts a hand from under his towel and presses it to Bucky’s chest, smoothing his fingers over the scant layer of faintly damp hair. Wet, it lies flat. Dry, it lies flat, too. It’s just hair, but Steve finds it fascinating, the little details that contradict the marble carving he had assumed Bucky would be a month ago. The flaws of Greek art in Bucky’s body are beautiful to Steve.

 

“Would you pose for me?” Steve asks quietly.

 

“Anytime,” Bucky agrees easily. Steve grins, then lifts his chin and shifts his weight onto his toes to look up at him. Bucky puts his hands on Steve’s elbows and kisses him with sweet lips.

 

“Thank you,” Steve mumbles. Bucky presses another kiss to his lips and wraps his arms around Steve’s waist.

 

“Of course,” he says, and picks him up. Steve pushes an arm around his neck, but lets his legs hang as Bucky carries him out of the bathroom and back into the bedroom. He sets him down on the bed, then puts a hand on his shoulder and pushes. Steve lies back, dropping the arm not in the towel above his head, and Bucky bends to kiss his shoulder and neck before walking away.

 

“I’m going to wash your toy,” Bucky tells him. “You fine on your own for a minute?”

 

Steve bites his lip, and Bucky walks back over to the bed, holding the packaged anal plug in his hands.

 

“I’m just gonna use the bathroom sink,” Bucky says. “You can come if you need to.”

 

Steve shakes his head. He can lie on the bed by himself for a minute. Bucky puts a hand on the bed and leans down, his shadow covering Steve’s body wholly, and kisses his forehead. Steve shuts his eyes, breathing deeply for a second, then raises his chin to him. Bucky kisses his lips, then his jaw, then ducks to kiss his neck and Steve lets his head fall back, exposing his throat, so Bucky can part his lips and start sucking a mark into his skin.

 

“Good boy,” Bucky murmurs against his neck. “I’ll be right back.”

 

Steve nods, and Bucky pulls back. Steve shifts onto his side, tucking his hand under his ear, to watch Bucky walk back into the bathroom. Bucky’s got a great ass, he thinks absently. Magnificent, really. Tanned and smooth, with round, firm cheeks, square hips and a thick waist that tapers up to his broad shoulders. And his thighs, Steve thinks those might be his favorite part of Bucky, they’re a work of art of their own. He’s not even sure he can do them justice.

 

The water runs in the bathroom for a minute, Bucky gathers up the discarded clothes and tossing them into a laundry hamper before drying off the new silicon toy and walking back out. Steve corrects his earlier thought, his gaze shamelessly fixed on Bucky’s groin as he enters the room again. Even half-filled, Bucky’s cock is gorgeous, and it takes the top of Steve’s favorite parts of Bucky’s body. He shifts under the towel, squeezing his thighs together briefly.

 

Bucky comes to stand by the bed and smiles down at him. Steve rolls onto his back, then pulls his other arm out from the towel and lays back, unfolding his legs to let them hang off the edge of the bed with a clear gap between them. He doesn’t move the towel, yet.

 

“This is quite the nice toy you picked out, baby boy,” Bucky says casually. He moves around to stand in front of Steve, then puts a knee on the bed, between his spread thighs to lean over him. He puts one hand by Steve’s head, and in the other, he holds up the plug. Steve licks his lips, shifting his weight on the bed. “It’s got ten levels, did you see that?”

 

Steve shakes his head. He had just picked it for its size.

 

“This won’t be comfortable for you to walk around in, now,” Bucky tells him. “Not like that skinny one you were wearing Friday night. You’ll just have to use it for me, alright?”

 

Steve nods. He doesn’t know what else he’d use it for, anyway.

 

Bucky ducks his head and Steve tips his head to the side, letting him kiss his neck. Steve curls his hands into fists and pulls his heels up to plant into the mattress, while Bucky finds a spot just under his jaw and starts sucking.

 

He pulls off and kisses Steve’s ear. “You ready, baby boy?”

 

Steve nods again. Bucky bites his earlobe, then kisses down his neck to his clavicle. He pauses to nip gently at the skin, then sucks on the spot before moving down again; he takes the towel wrapped around his shoulders and gives it a tug, pulling it open to expose his chest. Bucky flicks his gaze up at him, then sucks one of his nipples into his mouth and Steve jolts off the bed with a gasp.

 

Bucky puts the plug down and lays a hand over his chest, holding him down. Steve squirms, and Bucky’s thigh bumps against his hips so he squirms again to fit his crotch against Bucky’s knee.

 

Bucky sucks on his nipple a second longer, while Steve grinds back on his thigh and lets out breathy moans. He feels so high-strung he might come from just this, from Bucky’s tongue laving at his nipple and his knee pressed firmly into the V of his legs, until Bucky lifts off and squeezes his chest briefly before sitting up.

 

“There’s time for that later, honey,” Bucky tells him with a smirk when Steve whines. He picks up the plug again and settles his weight on the bed, sitting between Steve’s spread thighs with one leg curled under him and the other draped over Steve’s knee.

 

Steve licks his lips again, looking at the open sprawl of his lap. Bucky puts a palm on his knee, then looks down with intense concentration in his eyes as he pushes his hand up Steve’s thigh, to where the towel lays over his body. Bucky pushes his hand under it, lifting the towel as it goes, and the towel falls to the bed as his hand stops at Steve’s hip. He reaches to the side and picks up the remote, then takes the plug and lays it against Steve’s inner thigh.

 

Bucky meets his gaze, then presses a button on the remote. Steve jerks as the plug bursts into life, laying against the quadriceps but vibrating so powerfully he feels it in his pelvis already. Steve’s breathing picks up and he shifts his hips almost unconsciously, trying to get closer.

 

“That’s level four,” Bucky says calmly. Steve swallows hard. “I think I’m gonna put you on level one for now, and we’ll see where it goes.”

 

Steve nods once. Bucky smiles at him fondly, then presses another button. The plug’s vibration changes; now it pulses, twice as strong.

 

“Level six,” Bucky tells him. “I’m wondering, once I start kickin’ up the power, how many levels you can last before you’ll come.”

 

“Only one way to find out,” Steve answers. Bucky chuckles softly, and the vibrations lessen. Steve shifts again, pressing the toes of his left foot into the blanket and his right heel into the edge of the mattress.

 

Bucky lets the plug drift up his leg. Steve watches him move it, panting lightly. The vibrations are soft now, stretching into his skin and reaching the first layers of muscle, leaving a tingling feeling as it passes up his body. At the line of his hip and his torso, Bucky curves it away, following the line around to his stomach before bringing it to touch his navel ring. Steve watches his stomach heave, rising and falling as his lungs expand and contract, and Bucky turns up the vibrations so that the ring in his navel sings for a moment. Then he pulls it away and lets it drift down.

 

“I’m certainly likin’ this toy, sweetness,” Bucky remarks while Steve arches off the bed with a gasp. “It looks real nice up against your pretty cock.”

 

Steve can only breathe out: “Sir, sir, please…”

 

The vibrating drops again and Bucky drags it down again. Steve falls back against the bed, panting, and Bucky trails it between his legs.

 

“Oh, look,” Bucky says, sounding pleased with himself, “you’re already nice ‘n’ wet for me, dolly.”

 

Steve just nods as Bucky puts down the remote and puts the heel of his palm inside Steve’s thighs. Bucky lets out a soft sound and even puts down the plug, laying it pointed toward Steve on the bed so he can almost feel it vibrating still, and cups both his thighs to spread him open. Steve presses his head back on the bed, trying to catch his breath. The air is cold, his hole hot.

 

“I wasn’t meaning to do this,” Bucky says, then bends down and licks a stripe up his ass and Steve jolts again. Bucky lets out a sigh and sweeps his tongue across his lips. “But, damn, dolly. Your little hole’s so gorgeous, and your slick smells so good.”

 

Steve’s too busy having his brain explode to answer. Bucky smiles at him and stoops down again. It doesn’t take long for Steve to start writhing, Bucky’s hands gripping his thighs to keep him spread open doing nothing to pin him down, while Bucky’s back to making those obscene sounds Steve was sure only happened in porn. Every time he swallows, he feels the collar’s weight on his throat and it feels like Bucky’s got a hand closed around it even with his fingers digging into Steve’s thighs. Bucky licks him clean, and his body just makes more slick for him to lick up.

 

“I’m letting myself get distracted,” Bucky says finally. Steve just groans, lifting his hips off the bed like it’ll get Bucky’s tongue back in him. Bucky flashes him a smile and wipes off his mouth and chin with the back of his hand, then says as he dries it with the towel, “I got plans, honey, just trust me.”

 

“I trust you,” Steve mumbles. Bucky drops a kiss onto his thigh, then sits back up and resettles his weight on the mattress. Steve’s gaze jerks back to his open thighs, and he whines softly without meaning to.

 

“Patience, dolly,” Bucky reminds him in a gentle voice. He picks up the plug again, then fiddles with the remote until the vibrations cease entirely. “You’ll get my cock soon enough.”

 

The promise is enough. Steve nods and Bucky lays a hand on his hip, hooking his thumb inside his thighs as  he lifts the plug and drags it up his ass. Steve is still spread open from Bucky licking him out, and the tip of the plug finds his hole easily. Steve pushes back on it, and Bucky pulls it away.

 

“Relax, sweet thing,” Bucky tells him, like he’s warning Steve before delivering something unpleasant. “I gotta take this slow.”

 

Steve nods for him and Bucky looks down at his work with a furrowed brow. Steve feels abruptly so much more exposed while Bucky frowns in his concentration, his breath hitches in his throat and he turns his head to the side away from Bucky. His fingers clench. His body tenses.

 

“Stevie?” Bucky calls softly. “Sweetheart, gimme a number.”

 

Steve lifts his head again. He swallows and shakes his head, then reaches out for him. Bucky takes his hand and laces their fingers together, then leans over him and kisses his neck.

 

“Gimme a number, honey,” Bucky murmurs. “I can’t keep going until you check in.”

 

“Three,” Steve mutters reluctantly.

 

Bucky kisses his neck again, then his ear and his cheek, and Steve turns his face towards his so Bucky can capture his mouth in a long kiss. Bucky runs a hand up his stomach, then over his chest and down his arm to take his hand and squeeze it.

 

“‘S the matter, honey?” Bucky coos softly. “Wha’s makin’ my dolly feel upset, huh?”

 

Steve sucks in a breath and throws an arm around Bucky’s neck, holding onto his hair with tight fingers. “I don’ know,” he says. “Hold me?”

 

“Of course, sweetheart,” Bucky says sweetly. He shifts his weight and puts both knees on either side of Steve’s body, then scoops him up and falls onto his side, holding Steve between his arms and legs tightly. He smooths a hand over Steve’s back, the other pushes into his damp hair. “You’re alright, baby,” he promises, “I’ve got you. You’re mine, dragă, you’re all mine, my sweet boy. What’s the matter?”

 

Steve swallows and tries to get his head screwed on straight so he can use logic and reasoning properly. Bucky keeps petting him, waiting for an answer, and Steve tries to distance himself from the cold and the abrupt feeling of being exposed. He doesn’t mind being exposed normally, he likes Bucky splaying him out and using him, it’s a mark of how he belongs to Bucky.

 

“Hold me,” Steve mumbles again, because it’s all he can think of to say. Bucky holds him tighter.

 

“It’s alright, pretios,” Bucky murmurs.

 

Steve fists his hands behind Bucky’s neck. Pretios. That’s it.

 

“Tell me I’m precious,” Steve says hastily. “I’m yours, I‘m precious to you, Buck, please –”

 

“Shh, shh, sweetheart, of course you’re precious,” Bucky says softly and sweetly. “You’re my baby, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me, honey, I treasure you, my sweet.”

 

Steve presses his face into Bucky’s chest, while Bucky’s hands clutch him against his body and he presses kisses into his hair.

 

“Don’t frown at me,” Steve says.

 

“I’m sorry,” Bucky answers softly. “I didn’t mean to. I wasn’t upset with you or nothing, honey, I didn’t mean to frown.”

 

Steve has newfound revelations and he feels like he ought to tell Bucky; he feels vulnerable and fragile, but he wants to feel precious and pretty, and Bucky frowning at him like he does when Steve is merely his slut didn’t help matters. On a good day, he is perfectly fine spreading his legs on command for Bucky to look at him appraisingly and stick his cock wherever he wants to, but today is not a good day. Steve wants to – no, he needs to know that his value doesn’t lie in being a hole for Bucky to fuck when he feels bored.

 

“Just be sweet,” Steve mumbles. “I don’ – I don’t wanna be a slut today, Buck, please just be sweet on me –”

 

“Of course, honey, of course,” Bucky says. “I’ll always be sweet on my dolly, yeah?”

 

Steve nods once. He’s already relaxed. His value isn’t the eight hundred dollars he gets in half an hour of fucking. Bucky kisses his hair and smooths a hand over his spine.

 

“Thank you for telling me right away, pretty,” Bucky says. “You’re doing just what I asked you, you’re doin’ so good, baby. You wanna keep on or you wanna stop, sweetheart? What’d’you want?”

 

“I wan’ you to tie me up,” Steve mumbles.

 

“You wanna have that massage?” Bucky asks. “Or you just want me to fuck you nice ‘n’ slow now?”

 

“Massage,” Steve says. Bucky kisses his forehead.

 

“Okay, baby,” he murmurs. “Can you lie on your side for me, put your back against my chest?”

 

Steve shifts, rolling onto his other side. Bucky runs a hand down Steve’s side to his leg, then takes his knee and hooks it between his own knees; he holds him so that Steve is braced on his side against Bucky’s chest, his legs spread open and Bucky’s arms locking him in place.

 

“Let’s just take a breath,” Bucky says gently. “I’ll just hold you a minute, sweetheart.”

 

“Okay,” Steve answers in a breath.

 

Bucky kisses his hair. “Just a minute,” he repeats gently.

Chapter Text

it’s the very thought of you, my –

 

A minute passes. Steve catches his breath and soaks up the oxytocin and dopamine that being wrapped in Bucky’s arms produces.

 

The moment is quiet and kind and sweet, there’s something almost loving in the way Bucky rests his nose in Steve’s hair and there’s something almost loving in the way Steve holds Bucky’s hands against his chest. The air between them is warm and soft. Steve thinks, somewhere in the deep, timid parts of his mind, that if this is what falling in love would feel like, maybe it wouldn’t be so scary.

 

“How’s this?” Bucky says softly in his ear. His hand sweeps back up Steve’s leg, curling inside his thigh. He pulls Steve’s leg from between his and drapes it over his hip, so that Steve's legs are spread open again.

 

Steve nods, then squirms a little until his ass is pressed against Bucky’s groin. Bucky chuckles lightly, Steve shivers at the sound, and Bucky reaches between Steve’s legs to adjust himself, until Steve can feel the hot weight of him between his thighs.

 

“Is that better?” Bucky coos. Steve nods again quickly. “Does my baby like feeling how hot he’s makin’ his sir feel?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve mumbles.

 

“You wan’ me to loosen up that lovely hole with my fingers?” Bucky says in his ear. “Or you want me to just work that fat plug into your pretty ass and turn it on?”

 

A shudder runs through his body and Steve sucks in a breath hard so he can answer. “‘M loose enough. Put it in me, sir.”

 

“Aw, honey, where’s your manners?” Bucky says, even as he picks up the plug and trails it up his inner thigh. “Pretty dolls say please, sweet thing. You’re a pretty doll for me, ain’t you?”

 

“Please,” Steve says hastily; he is a pretty doll for Bucky.

 

“Very good, baby boy,” Bucky praises sweetly. He touches the tip of the plug to the crack of his ass, shifts it up and swirls it a little over his hole. Steve presses the back of his head into Bucky’s shoulder. “Y’know,” Bucky remarks, “I think this’ll be easier if you’re on your back, sweet thing.”

 

Then Bucky drops to the side, flipping Steve fully onto his chest and holding him securely there. Steve’s legs fall apart on the bed and heat flashes through his body from the points that Bucky’s touching him.

 

“How about that?” Bucky whispers. “Better?”

“Thank you, sir,” Steve murmurs. Bucky kisses his neck.

 

“Good boy,” he offers gently. “Now, let’s see about filling this little hole, hmm?”

 

Bucky gives the plug another twist, and Steve drops the back of his head over Bucky’s shoulder, leaving his throat bared and Bucky kisses it like it’s a reflex. He presses the tip of the plug in, then pulls it almost away and shifts it so its broad side lies flush with the line of his ass.

 

Slowly, he twists it again. Getting it covered in slick. Steve is vibrating even with the plug turned off.

 

“You’re dripping,” Bucky says in his ear. “You’re gettin’ my cock wet, babydoll.”

 

“Good,” Steve exhales.

 

Bucky presses his lips firmly to a spot under his ear, then shifts to cradle Steve’s head with an arm and starts sucking on the spot he’d kissed. With his other hand, he twists the plug around to press the tip into his hole again. He pushes it in and pulls it back, slowly working it in, and his mouth on Steve’s neck continues to suck marks into his skin. Steve clenches and unclenches his fists, plants his heels into the bed and curls his toes, swallows just to feel the collar around his throat. Bucky moves his mouth down in a line, systematically making the skin of his neck just one large bruise as he slowly teases the plug into him; he even parts his lips over the collar and runs his tongue on either side of it.

 

“Look at you,” Bucky murmurs. “You look good blushin’, pretty baby.”

`

Steve feels his whole body shiver.

 

“You look good with my collar on you, pretty boy,” Bucky goes on in a quiet voice. Steve pushes his heels into the bed, breathing harder, and Bucky gives a soft laugh. “You look so damn good writhin’ for me, my pretty doll.”

 

“Sir,” Steve mumbles, with nothing else to say.

 

“Pretty,” Bucky answers. He bites his earlobe and sucks on it, then puts his mouth right over his ear and purrs: “Such a pretty doll for me, aren’t you?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve exhales.

 

“Tell me,” Bucky purrs, “do you feel pretty, sweetheart? Do you feel pretty with my hard cock between your legs?”

 

Steve nods quickly.

 

“Why don’t you say it?” Bucky coos. “I think you’re nice ‘n’ relaxed, babydoll. I think I can get you to come again later. Why don’t you tell me how my cock against your thigh’s makin’ you feel?”

 

Heat flashes through his body and Steve tenses to roll his hips into the plug. He digs in his heels, grabbing fistfuls of the blanket and letting his nails bite into it.

 

“It makes me feel hot,” Steve mutters.

 

“Go on,” Bucky murmurs.

 

“It makes me feel –” Steve starts, then breaks off to moan, gasping in a long breath as Bucky pushes the plug nearly all the way in. “I feel – I feel –”

 

“You feel good, pretty doll?” Bucky asks him happily. “You feel like your sir wants you?”

 

“Yessir,” Steve whines out, “sir, are you gonna make me come? Sir, please?”

 

“When you ask so nicely, dolly,” Bucky chuckles. “Why don’t you tell me how you feel with my cock between your legs, and we’ll see if you’re ready to come?”

 

Even as he says it, Steve is rolling his hips against the plug and pressing his thighs into Bucky’s. “Can I –” Steve starts, breaks off to find better English. “Will you let me make you feel good, too? Will you rub off between my legs, sir?”

 

“You want me to do that, dolly?” Bucky asks in a purr. “You wanna feel my cock between your legs, baby boy?”

 

“Yeah,” Steve sighs. “Can I, sir?”

 

“When you ask so nicely,” Bucky laughs again. “You ready for this whole thing, sweet boy?”

 

He pushes the plug a little further in. Steve gasps and nods frantically, digging his toes into the mattress.

 

“You want me to turn it on?” Bucky coos.

 

“Please,” Steve begs. “Please, sir?”

 

“Anything for my babydoll,” Bucky murmurs.

 

The plug pushes in the last inch and hits a deep spot on its way. Steve arches his back, pressing his hips down into Bucky’s and baring his neck as far as he can, and Bucky releases him with one arm to fumble around for the remote.

 

“‘S not comin’ out until after your massage,” Bucky warns him.

 

“‘S fine, sir,” Steve gets out between panting breaths. “Can I – Can –”

 

“Fuck,” Bucky exhales. He seems to find the remote, as the plug hums to life and Steve cries out as his legs snap together.

 

Bucky grabs his hips with one hand and starts rocking into his closed thighs, with the other he grasps him firmly and Steve moans whorishly at the feeling of the thick length between his thighs. The plug fills him completely and vibrates enough that he feels it in his balls. His body is one taut E-string, shaking out a reedy note and ready to burst.

 

“You close, pretty?” Bucky growls in his ear as his hand works Steve toward oblivion. “You moan so pretty, you writhe so sweet for me, gorgeous boy. You gonna come with my big dick trapped between your legs, sweet thing?”

 

“Yes,” Steve gasps, “sir, oh, sir, yes –”

 

“I’m gonna come all over you,” Bucky pants, “get your sweet cock and your lovely nipples all dirty, pretty baby.”

 

“Please, sir,” Steve cries.

 

“My pretty boy,” Bucky grunts out. “You got me ruttin’ like you in heat, dragă, got me ready to knot your damn legs, dragoste, baby –”

 

Steve is left letting loud, long uh! sounds punch out of his chest while Bucky’s fingers dig into his hips. His thighs tremble from clenching them together and his core is shaking; he feels the plug’s buzzing in his ears and the tips of his fingers.

 

“You come whenever you want, sweet thing,” Bucky says, finally gasping. “You come when you’re ready, dragoste, throw your head back and fuckin’ scream for me, baby boy.”

 

“Ah!” is all Steve can say. “Ah, sir, sir – oh –”

 

“Baby,” Bucky is saying in a shaking voice, “sweet dolly, pretty baby, you gonna come? You gonna come for me, babydoll?”

 

“Yessir, yes,” Steve pants, “‘m gonna – ‘m gonna come, sir –”

 

“Then come,” Bucky growls.

 

Steve throws his head back and screams as he climaxes. Bucky’s fingers dig in harder to his hips and his rocking doubles, then he’s grunting and stilling beneath him and Steve collapses on top of him, exhausted.

 

The plug is still vibrating, shaking tremors out of him. Steve is shaking, then Bucky finds the remote and turns it down slowly, until it’s completely off.

 

“Bucky,” Steve whispers breathlessly.

 

Bucky noses at his neck, then hugs him around the waist and shifts into a sitting position. Steve lies boneless in his grip, and Bucky gently scents his neck.

 

“My pretty boy,” he murmurs. “How do you feel, dolly?”

 

Steve just nods, a grin slowly spreading across his face. Bucky kisses his neck sweetly.

 

“That’s my doll,” he says in a pleased tone. “That’s my pretty baby. You did so good, babydoll, you’re amazing.”

 

“Y’re amazin’,” Steve mumbles absently.

 

“You’re breathtaking,” Bucky answers, nuzzling his neck.

 

“Michelangelo,” Steve says vaguely. “But better.”

 

Bucky chuckles and sweeps him closer in his arms. Steve lets his head rest on Bucky’s shoulder with a smile and shuts his eyes.

 

“You wanna have a nap before supper?” Bucky asks him.

 

“Was promised a massage,” Steve says, then holds up his hands, wrists touching. “And silk rope.”

 

“Well, as long as you still want it,” Bucky murmurs. Steve nods and Bucky kisses his shoulder. “How tired are you, scale of one to five?”

 

“Which’s tired?” Steve mutters.

 

“Five’s exhausted.”

 

Steve hums as he thinks, letting a hand slip to Bucky’s chest and brushing a thumb over a nipple. “Three,” he says after a minute.

 

“How anxious do you feel?” Bucky then asks.

 

“One,” Steve scoffs. “I feel fine.”

 

“What about touch? Hmm?”

 

Steve presses closer to him. “Still want you,” he says quietly.

 

“I didn’t say I’d let go at any point,” Bucky promises.

 

He sweeps his wrist up Steve’s spine and the gesture deflates tension in his whole body. Steve likes it when Bucky scents him. It’s a taboo gesture these days, people think it’s a symbol of possession, reducing Omegas to mere property of their Alphas. Which is why Steve likes it. He belongs to Bucky, heart and soul and body.

 

“Four,” Steve says finally.

 

“And you still want me to tie you up?”

 

Steve nods.

 

“I can’t let you go back into subspace so quick after dropping, honey,” Bucky murmurs.

 

“I know,” Steve answers. “But ‘s nice. Not having to think.”

 

Bucky kisses his shoulder and pulls a wrist up his thigh to his hip. “Alright,” he says. “Then let’s go downstairs, huh?”

 

Steve nods and Bucky repositions him in his lap until he’s lying astride him, then lifts him up and lays him back down, over the towel and Steve stretches out. Bucky takes his hands, kisses both of his palms, then walks over to the dresser and takes a bundle of rope. Steve turns his head to watch him, then back as Bucky returns.

 

“I know you’re gonna look damn good with this on you,” Bucky says with a smirk. “We’ll get plenty of use outta these ropes, honey.”

 

Steve lifts his arms and holds them out to Bucky in offering. Bucky takes both hands in one, then crawls onto the mattress and drops down to his left.

 

“You don’t have much experience with shibari, do you?” Bucky asks. “Y’know, Japanese bondage.”

 

Steve’s eyes widen and he shakes his head. Bucky squeezes his hand.

 

“Gimme a number, sweetheart,” he asks. “You want something simpler?”

 

“Five’s still bad?” Steve mutters. Bucky nods.

 

“Be honest,” he says, “I won’t be mad.”

 

“Two,” Steve says. Bucky lifts his hand and kisses his palm.

 

“I’m gonna start you small,” he says into his palm. “Just a lil’ cuff, alright?”

 

Steve nods. He’s seen shibari on Tumblr, it always looks so amazing, even though incredibly complex. Bucky starts unraveling the rope and Steve watches in fascination.

 

“I didn’t know you’d be able to do shibari,” he says.

 

“I prefer ropes to cuffs and chains,” Bucky answers. “Shibari was the natural progression.”

 

“Can you do those suspension harnesses?” Steve asks.

 

“Not today,” Bucky laughs.

 

“Well, no,” Steve mutters.

 

Bucky looks down at him with a smile, then leans in and drops a kiss onto his forehead. “We can work our way up to those if you want,” he says.

 

Steve nods quickly. Bucky smiles wider and kisses his cheek, then sits up again and shakes out the rope. He takes the two ends together and folds them, then starts wrapping it around his elbow and hand to gather it.

 

“This is one of my favorite cuffs,” Bucky says.

 

He takes the ending loop and measures out a foot or so, then takes Steve’s hands and pulls them out so he’s holding them over his stomach in the air. He wraps the loop around Steve’s wrists, twines the two ends together and wraps the loop back around his wrists. Steve watches Bucky pass the gathered rope through the loop, then he neatly cinches it down into a knot.

 

“It gives you a nice, sturdy bind,” Bucky tells him, “and there’s room to do more with the end.”

 

Bucky takes the gathered rope around Steve’s hands, then tucks it under itself and pulls it tight back. He pauses to stick a finger under the rope and check its tightness, then does the same thing in the other direction. Every few knots, he pushes a finger, then two, under the ropes and sweeps them around his wrists. Steve watches with wide eyes as Bucky artfully crafts a binding cuff, the deep blue making his skin look a creamier peach and the knots looking like they had been woven by a loom, not mere hands. The way Steve holds his arms keeps the rope taut and in turn, the ropes keep his hands in place, even as Bucky continues the cuff and Steve’s arms are no longer touching.

 

At halfway down his forearm, Bucky stops looping the rope and instead pulls the tail around the final knot to secure it. He takes the remaining two feet or so and ties intermittent knots down its length, keeping it together.

 

“Now how’s that?” Bucky asks him with a proud gleam to his eye.

 

“I see why people love it so much,” Steve murmurs. “It’s beautiful.”

 

Bucky leans over him and presses a kiss to his chest, then his shoulder and then his neck. “You’re what makes it beautiful,” he says.

 

“That’s the cheesiest shit I ever heard,” Steve announces.

 

“What’d I say about complainin’?” Bucky scolds him.

 

“I wasn’t complaining!” Steve insists quickly. “I was pointing out the obvious!”

 

Bucky gives him a look and Steve starts laughing. Then Bucky ducks his head and blows a raspberry on Steve’s chest and his laughter doubles. He kicks his feet and tries to squirm away, but Bucky grabs the end of the rope and yanks him back, just to blow another raspberry on his stomach.

 

“That’s what you get for bein’ a smart-ass!” Bucky says firmly, then starts tickling.

 

“I’m sorry!” Steve shrieks. “Aw, c’mon, I was kidding!”

 

Bucky pulls on the rope until Steve’s hands are over his head, then starts tickling his underarms. Steve laughs and writhes, twisting away only to be brought firmly back into place. Bucky’s beaming as he tortures Steve, and Steve’s eyes are watering he’s laughing so hard.

 

“Uncle!” Steve wheezes. “Jersey, Brooklyn, something!”

 

Bucky lets up on Jersey and Steve takes the reprieve to catch his breath. Bucky smirks at him.

 

“You make the damn ropes damn beautiful,” he says firmly.

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve breathes out.

 

Bucky bends and kisses just under his collar. Steve swallows hard so he’ll feel it, and Bucky stops to suck a hickey into his skin. Steve shivers.

 

“Next time,” Bucky murmurs, “I’ll tie your wrists to your ankles. Face down, put your hands between your legs so your ass is in the air.”

 

“Promises, promises,” Steve answers faintly. He feels Bucky smile and tries to reach out to him, to touch him, and forgets that his hands are bound. Bucky tightens his grip on the rope, then sits up and swings Steve’s arms back to lie on his stomach.

 

“Hold still,” Bucky tells him. He takes the tail of the rope and settles onto his elbow next to Steve’s head.

 

He loops the end of the rope through the ring on Steve’s collar. Steve swallows again while Bucky wraps the rope around itself.

 

“Just for a minute,” Bucky says. He shortens the slack until Steve’s knuckles are level with his chin. “So your hands aren’t in my way.”

 

“What are you going to do?” Steve asks, breathing hard in excitement. He lets his elbows hang by his ribcage, the rope pulled taut by its securing to his collar.

 

Bucky kisses his cheek. “Patience, dolly,” he tells him. Then he sits up and swings a leg over Steve’s hips. He doesn’t straddle him, but spreads his hands over his waist and bends over. He kisses Steve’s stomach, then gets up completely and walks over to a closet.

 

Steve watches as best he can, but remains lying on his back on the bed. Bucky opens the closet and steps into it, rummaging for a minute. Steve looks over at the wardrobe in the corner, then back at the closet. Bucky doesn’t keep suits in there, he can guess that much.

 

Bucky returns a minute later, holding a stack of items that are blurry in the edges of his vision. He crosses to the bed and drops the stack behind Steve and pauses to drop a kiss onto his forehead before walking away again. Steve cranes to look over his shoulder as Bucky disappears into the bathroom, then he hears the water running and assumes he’s getting a wet washcloth to wipe the come off his thighs and stomach.

 

Sure enough, Bucky returns a minute later with a faintly steaming cloth in hand. He puts a knee on the bed to lean over Steve.

 

“What kinda scented candles do you like, dolly?” he asks as he takes the cloth to Steve’s stomach.

 

“Trees,” Steve answers. “Forest-y things.”

 

Bucky nods as though this information is vital and wipes carefully around Steve’s groin. Then he lifts one of Steve’s knees and wipes inside his thighs, taking the cloth between the cheeks of his ass gently. His hand bumps the plug and Steve rocks back into it lightly.

 

“Shh,” Bucky tells him, “you gotta wait, sweetheart.”

 

Steve nods, knowing his own refractory period. “Just feels nice,” he says.

 

Bucky offers him a smile and drags the washcloth back over his stomach. He bends again to kiss his shoulder, then walks away again. Steve lets his body go slack, shutting his eyes and taking a deep breath.

 

The mattress dips and Steve opens his eyes again, blinking a few times. Bucky brushes at his hair with a hand, then begins unraveling the rope from the taut line between his cuff and collar. Steve lets his arms fall against his stomach as Bucky releases the tail of the rope, then sits up when Bucky pull on it.

 

“I’m gonna take some stuff downstairs,” Bucky tells him, then kisses his bound hands. “You mind waiting up here for a little bit?”

 

“I’ll be fine,” Steve says. Bucky meets his gaze and raises his eyebrows. “Really,” Steve insists. “Just for a minute?”

 

“Just for a minute,” Bucky affirms. He kisses his hands again, then gives the rope slack and pushes on Steve’s shoulder until he lies down again. “You can time me.”

 

Steve gives a nod. Bucky brushes at his hair, then picks up the blanket and drapes it over his body from the shoulders down. Steve relaxes into the mattress; the blanket is soft and smells like Bucky.

 

“I’ll be right back,” Bucky assures him.

 

Steve nods, letting his eyes shut again. Bucky’s weight lifts from the mattress, and Steve begins to count under his breath. One, two, three… He hears Bucky’s footsteps, leaving the room and thudding down the stairs. Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight… Thudding footsteps back on the stairs, walking fast back into the bedroom. The mattress dips at forty-four and Steve opens his eyes to Bucky’s face.

 

“Hi,” Steve says quietly.

 

Bucky’s face splits into a grin. “Hi, baby,” he says. He leans down and Steve turns his cheek out so Bucky will kiss it, and smiles as Bucky pets through his hair.

 

“You ready to go downstairs?”

 

“Mhmm,” Steve answers.

 

Bucky’s weight on the mattress changes, then his arms push under Steve’s body and lift him up, the blanket as well. Steve curls into Bucky’s neck as he is shifted in his grip, Bucky lightly tossing him to get a better hold on him, then exhales, closing his eyes. The blanket flutters in the breeze of Bucky’s movement, but Steve is still warm under it.

 

“Here you are,” Bucky murmurs at the same time as he lowers Steve. Steve lifts his head and opens his eyes, then settles himself on his knees on the floor pillow and puts his back against the sofa. “Little nest for my dolly, hmm?”

 

Steve smiles, thinking of nesting and how easy it would be to do with all the pillows and blankets Bucky has scattering the apartment.

 

Bucky pulls the blanket around his lower half and Steve leans his head on his shoulder while Bucky is kneeling next to him. He might demand cuddles later. Well, might is a mild word. More like definitely will. Bucky kisses his hair and stands up, and Steve just flops against his knee, nuzzling his face into his thigh.

 

Bucky takes the tail of the rope and pulls lightly on it. “Sit up, dolly.”

 

Steve straightens his spine, letting Bucky pull him up by the ropes around his wrists.

 

“Good boy,” Bucky tells him.

 

He pulls the blanket around Steve’s waist more securely, then pushes it off his shoulders and pulls his hands from under it. Steve leaves his gaze down, until Bucky taps the underside of his chin and he lifts his head on the cue.

 

“Good baby,” Bucky says with a smile, then kisses his cheek sweetly and Steve smiles.

 

Bucky lowers himself to a knee and nuzzles the side of his face, then Steve lifts his chin further and Bucky scent-marks his neck. Steve tips his head farther back and Bucky kisses his neck, then raises his empty hand to rub his wrist along the collar around his throat.

 

“Such a pretty boy,” he murmurs and Steve clenches his fingers.

 

He rocks his ass downward, against nothing but the air, yet the plug in his ass shifts and he lets out a fluttering sigh. Bucky’s grip tightens on the rope.

 

“Did I tell you you could do that?” he asks quietly.

 

Steve reluctantly stills. “No, sir.”

 

Bucky kisses under his jaw. “Then don’t do it,” he says simply. Steve first sucks in a breath, then lets it out hard and nods. Bucky kisses another spot, before pulling away and sitting back on his heel.

 

Bucky cups his jaw with one hand and holds the end of the rope like a leash in the other. Steve flicks his gaze up, then looks at the ground, his ears hot, at Bucky’s lidded eyes and soft smile.

 

“Look at me, honey,” Bucky murmurs. Steve flicks his gaze back up. “You know, you got such bright eyes, Steve. I wasn’t kidding about that starlight thing, your eyes are beautiful.”

 

Steve drops his gaze, but jerks it back up before Bucky can even grip his chin tighter. Bucky then reaches up and brushes his fingers through Steve’s hair, before tapping his fingers under his chin and standing up. Steve follows his gaze with his own.

 

“You relax there, sweet thing,” Bucky tells him. “Go on, sit comfortably.”

 

Steve flicks his gaze down, then looks back up at Bucky. “This is comfortable.”

 

“You can’t kneel for as long as you’re gonna be there,” Bucky says with a cluck of his tongue. “Why don’t you sit on your cute little bottom, honey? That won’t put so much strain on your knees.”

 

Steve compulsively licks his lips and Bucky smiles at him.

 

“Go on,” he says.

 

Steve shifts off his knees. The plug shifts too and his ears heat up while he bites his lip and Steve gingerly puts his weight on his ass. The plug shifts again, pleasure flaring up his spine, and Bucky’s smile is predatory again.

 

A different kind of predatory. Not quite a wolf licking his fangs. Steve’s neck heats up as Bucky reaches down to run a hand through his hair, looking down on him with pure, unadulterated and human want in his eyes.

 

“Good baby,” Bucky praises him softly, and Steve shivers. “I know I keep sayin’ it, but you’re such a pretty boy, Steve.”

 

“Thank you, sir,” Steve murmurs. Bucky cups his chin, thumbing at his jaw. Steve thinks his refractory period might be shortening; he feels a buzzing in his blood, as Bucky looks down on him with the pure want of a virile Alpha before a young and pretty Omega.

 

Maybe that’s why Steve likes being called pretty. With the gray at his temples and the lines around his eyes, Bucky’s predatory gaze reminds him that he really is young. He’s only 23, by all rights he’s hardly an adult, a genuine boy under Bucky’s gaze. The thought makes Steve shiver.

 

Bucky walks around Steve, still holding onto the end of the rope, to sit behind him on the sofa. Steve sits upright on the cushion, though every movement makes the plug shift in his ass and it’s taking every ounce of his concentration not to grind back against it, and Bucky pulls the rope around Steve’s shoulder until his hands are clasped just beneath his chin. Bucky bends over him from behind, pulls the rope through the link on his collar and loops it loosely, enough that it pulls free right away when Bucky demonstrates, but keeps Steve’s hands in position under his chin with little effort on his part.

 

Bucky kisses the back of his neck, then, still leaning over him, lifts the TV remote and switches on the flatscreen.

 

“Now,” he says in Steve’s ear, and clearly Steve has a thing for Bucky’s voice in his ear because even that makes him shiver, “what’d I say we’d watch, sweet thing?”

 

“Planet Earth?” Steve mutters.

 

Bucky kisses under his ear. “That's right,” he says.

 

Bucky almost absently brings up the program, only glancing at the screen once or twice as necessary. His attention is fixed on Steve, as he carries on with his promise of making his neck a mosaic. Steve tilts his head away wherever Bucky puts his mouth, wanting to encourage his every kiss. His neck is very sensitive, especially the closer Bucky gets to the cervical scent gland. Steve's heartbeat kicks like a bass beat in his ear.

 

The TV comes to life, but Steve isn't paying attention. He misses Bucky putting down the TV remote and picking up a different one.

 

Steve gasps when the plug turns on, faint vibrations that do hardly anything but startle arousal from him anyway. Bucky chuckles in his ear and Steve sits up as straight as he can to avoid fucking himself with the plug without permission.

 

“Good boy,” Bucky murmurs to him. His warm palm presses to the back of Steve neck and sweeps to the side. “Just sit there and relax, yeah?”

 

Steve nods once. Bucky presses a kiss to his ear. His hands, warm and rough and large, settle on his shoulders and sweep up the back of his neck once, then lift away.

 

“I’m gonna use lotion,” Bucky tells him.

 

Steve just nods.

 

A wide, left-panning shot of a rainforest takes up the TV screen. The narrator’s voice is the kind of droning and deep that makes listeners at ease and sleepy. Behind him, Steve hears the cap of a bottle opening, and immediately can smell something sharp and crisp that makes him think of peppermint or eucalyptus. Steve takes a deep breath, and the scent gets into his sinuses and relaxes them. He breathes deep again, letting it settle into his lungs.

 

When he was younger, he would get bronchitis like other kids scraped their knees, and it got so frequent that his mother, just to make it easier for his shitty lungs to inhale, put Vicks on his chest every night until he was old enough to do it himself. The lotion smells more like peppermint than Vick’s, but Steve is still reminded, and it’s one of few memories he has from his childhood or about his mother that isn’t painful. So he takes deep breaths and lets the scent ease the expanding and contracting of his lungs.

 

“What rules did I give you earlier, sweetheart?” Bucky asks; Steve can hear him putting the lotion on his hands, rubbing them together and warming it.

 

“Don’t complain,” Steve answers. “Don’t talk.”

 

“Unless?” Bucky prompts.

 

“I need to tell you something or you ask me a question,” Steve tells him simply.

 

Steve can feel Bucky leaning over him; he drops a kiss onto Steve’s hair and murmurs: “Good boy.” Then his hands, slick with lotion, press to his shoulder blades and sweep up to his neck.

 

Steve’s shoulders droop, the peppermint aspect of the lotion getting into his skin and working on his muscles the same way it relaxes his breathing. Bucky’s calluses grit into his skin, but in a way that feels nice. Steve leans his elbows onto his calves and lets his posture slump forward, holding up his chin with his clasped and bound hands, so Bucky can get to his whole back. Planet Earth fills the room with background noise, giving his brain something to focus on, and Bucky’s fingers begin to dig into his muscles.

 

Gentle at first, and Steve can hardly feel it, but Bucky slowly starts to press harder. He spread the lotion all over Steve’s back and shoulders, even on his neck over and under his collar and the tops of his arms, but after he’d done that, he focuses on Steve’s shoulders. He pinches with his fingers and his thumbs, rolls the heels of his palms, pebbles pressure with the tips of his fingers and digs in. Steve’s eyes slip shut. The plug vibrating in his ass is so low powered, after a while it just becomes a background hum along with Planet Earth’s quiet narration.

 

“Though the waters of the Amazon River are murky, many creatures have evolved to call the river their home…”

 

Bucky’s fingers move to his neck above the collar. Steve lets a sigh slip past his lips as Bucky puts pressure on his traps, an instinctual response. Bucky lifts his hands a moment, adding more lotion, and returns again to push two fingers up either side of his neck and drag them back down hard. Steve lets his head tip forward, until his chin rests on his chest and Bucky uses his thumbs to dig into his traps again.

 

“The boto, or river dolphin, is one of the larger mammals inhabiting the Amazon river. Adult males can reach up to 185 kilograms and 2.5 meters in length…”

 

Bucky drops another kiss onto the top of his hair. Steve sighs again softly, and Bucky nuzzles lightly into his hair, before placing a kiss on his ear and leaning back again. His fingers shift below the collar, then push under it and roll into his muscles. He works on the lower part of Steve’s neck for a few minutes, then pulls his fingers with increasing pressure down over his shoulders and he squeezes the sockets of his shoulders briefly before moving his hands back to Steve’s spine. Bucky lifts his hands again, and they come back with more lotion. Steve’s skin is beginning to tingle from the peppermint.

 

“Another large inhabitant of the Amazon river and its tributaries are the freshwater stingray. Freshwater stingrays are found in tropical and subtropical rivers across the globe. Like their ocean cousins, freshwater stingrays have venomous barbs on their tails, however, these tails are significantly shorter…”

 

“How you feelin’, gorgeous?” Bucky asks softly.

 

Steve almost doesn’t hear him. He sits up a little, then blinks his eyes open and nods once to indicate that he heard while he gathers his thoughts to answer.

 

“Don’t think too hard, honey,” Bucky murmurs. He kisses his ear again. “Jus’ answer me.”

 

“‘M good, then,” Steve says in a mumble.

 

Bucky leans a little closer and kisses once along his jaw, before pulling back and Steve slumps forward again. He lets his thoughts drift back away.

 

Bucky’s hands push down his spine. Steve puts his elbows between his knees and leans down, letting his head drop, until he’s slumped over his own lap. The stretch will get uncomfortable eventually, but for now, it gives better access to his lower back and stretches out his hips and knees a little. Bucky chuckles above him, then Steve hears the couch creak and Bucky’s weight comes down between him and the sofa. His groin presses into Steve’s ass and Steve sucks in a breath, but manages not to grind back on him. It’s difficult, Bucky’s body is hot and firm behind him, and even if Steve couldn’t feel it, he can smell the subtle changes to Bucky’s scent that mean he’s turned on.

 

Steve, though? He’s content to sit there and let Bucky treasure him.

 

Bucky kisses the top of his spine as his hands spread over Steve’s lower back. His fingers work at the muscles under his ribs for a minute, then find the unnatural curve of his spine near the base.

 

“Tell me about this,” Bucky says.

 

“‘S scoliosis,” Steve mumbles.

 

“I know that, brat,” Bucky laughs. “Tell me how it affects you. Does it hurt? Do you see a doctor for it?”

 

“Doesn’t hurt usually,” Steve answers. “It’s hardly a bend, anyway. Tried doing PT for it when I was in high school, but then we couldn’t afford it with my ma’s cancer.”

 

“When was the last time you had it checked?” Bucky asks.

 

Steve shrugs lightly. “Physical therapist said it probably wouldn’t make much difference on my life until I was older.”

 

“You are older, baby,” Bucky reminds him. “When’s the last time you had it checked?”

 

“Don’t remember,” Steve tells him. “I have a brace in a closet somewhere, drugstore one, that I use when it hurts. I put a heating pad on it sometimes, too.”

 

“You’ll need to find that brace,” Bucky says gently. “I’ll schedule a physical for you soon, find you a specialist.”

 

“Mmkay,” Steve answers. “Thank you.”

 

“You’re welcome, dragă,” Bucky says, kissing his spine. Steve smiles to himself.

 

Bucky is gentle around his scoliosis, using greater pressure higher up his spine. “What’s your head feel like right now, honey?”

 

“Quiet,” Steve answers.

 

For a minute, Bucky’s silent. The only noise is the TV, and the program is following a riverbed with quiet music. Steve relaxes into the quiet.

 

“I keep askin’ you about your ills,” Bucky says abruptly. Steve tips his head to the side, putting his right ear toward Bucky with a slight frown. “Your past, all that. And you’ve been answering, even when you weren’t being upfront with me about your intentions, you didn’t lie about your past. I haven’t told you those things in return.”

 

“Y’told me about Aleksei,” Steve mumbles.

 

“But I lied about my family,” Bucky says. His hands smooth over Steve’s back, keeping him in place when he starts to lift his head. “I didn’t want to get into this while you were in a bad headspace, but you deserve to know as much about me as I know about you. It’s not fair that I ask things of you that I don’t return. So, anything you wanna ask me, I’ll answer.”

 

“Okay,” Steve says faintly, relaxing again.

 

“You don’t have to do it now, ‘course,” Bucky goes on. “I just want you to know you have that option.”

 

“Alright,” Steve answers softly.

 

Bucky starts working between his shoulder blades and Steve settles back into his chest, back into his warmth, back into the quiet. The TV is still playing river sounds, birds calling out, and still, it’s quiet.

 

“You deserve better than me, Steve.”

 

Bucky’s words are faint, distant, and maybe Bucky didn’t mean for him to hear it or to say it at all, but they shatter the quiet and Steve sits up. Immediately, Bucky’s hands fly around his waist and grip him tight, grabbing the rope looped through his collar and releasing it. Steve’s hands drop into his lap and Bucky hooks a finger into the cuff, saying, “You need this off?” before Steve can even open his mouth.

 

“Shut up,” Steve says.

 

Bucky’s grip on the ropes slackens. “What?”

 

“Shh,” Steve insists. “Kiss me.”

 

Bucky’s lips press to his cheek, and Steve turns his head so Bucky can kiss his mouth. When their lips part, Steve leans on his shoulder.

 

“So, you’re a dumbass,” Steve starts. Bucky laughs dryly. “I mean it. I deserve better than you? What kind of bullshit is in your head, Barnes?”

 

Bucky nuzzles his face into Steve’s neck. Steve lets his head tip back.

 

“Tha’s a serious question,” Steve mutters. “Complete bullshit.”

 

“I shouldn’t have said it,” Bucky says into his neck.

 

“But you did,” Steve answers. “And now we’re talking about it. There’s this thing called communication, someone told me it’s what people do in real relationships?”

 

Bucky laughs once into his neck and Steve takes a second to adjust his position so there’s less pressure on his plugged up ass, though he’d nearly forgotten about it in the quiet. Bucky’s hands circle his waist and he shoves his legs on either side of Steve’s folded knees.

 

“Why do you think I deserve better?” Steve asks him.

 

“You deserve somebody good for you,” Bucky murmurs.

 

“You’re good for me,” Steve insists.

 

“You deserve somebody good for you who isn’t a fuck up,” Bucky corrects, and Steve turns his head to glare at him. “What?”

 

“Do you think I’m a fuck up?” Steve demands. “I’m pretty sure I qualify, I was bullied my entire life, my ma died a bitter woman who regretted having me, I got molested in the foster system, I gave away my rights to become a child prostitute; does that make me a fuck up?”

 

“No,” Bucky answers quickly, and Steve knocks their foreheads together lightly.

 

“Then don’t call yourself a fuck up.”

 

“Steve,” Bucky sighs.

 

“Bucky,” Steve answers.

 

Bucky reaches onto the couch and mutes the TV. Then he picks up the plug’s remote and switches it off. Steve hardly feels it. Bucky returns to hugging him and kisses his shoulder.

 

“If anything,” Steve starts, “I don’t deserve you.”

 

“Aw, honey,” Bucky exhales. “Honey, no –”

 

“Look, we can sit here all day and argue who deserves better more,” Steve says.

 

His nose is tingling and his eyes have started to burn, and when he sniffs, Bucky hugs him tighter. He doesn’t want to think about this, the quiet has made his emotions rise to the surface and he’s turned maudlin quickly.

 

“But – But maybe we can just deserve each other,” Steve starts. “And forget about who’s more fucked up. So let’s just – just forget about it all, just focus on right now, ‘cause we’re here now and we have each other and – and –”

 

“Steve, Stevie,” Bucky cuts him off when Steve trails off into repetitions of the word and. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. We’re here, we got each other.”

 

“Right now,” Steve mutters. For now.

 

Bucky kisses his shoulder. “It’s not changing anytime soon,” he murmurs.

 

He’s been emotional all day, but even that doesn’t explain why Steve keeps sniffing, trying not to cry. Bucky kisses his neck, then hooks a finger into the ropes around his wrists.

 

“I’m gonna take these off, sweetheart,” he tells him. Steve can’t bring himself to argue as he begins to unravel the cuff. “It’s okay to cry, alright? I’ll get these off and we’ll put the toys away and just have dinner –”

 

“I wanna keep on the collar,” Steve says quickly. He wants to belong to Bucky as long as he can.

 

Bucky kisses it and Steve hiccups. “That’s alright,” Bucky says gently. “I’m sorry I ruined the mood.”

 

“No, ‘s not your fault,” Steve mumbles. Bucky pulls the last loop loose and slips the cuff off his wrists, tossing the ropes aside, and Steve reaches up to swipe at his eyes. “We – We tried – ‘S my fault. ‘M sorry.”

 

“No, no, I got you crying, it’s not your fault,” Bucky insists. “Lemme get your plug out, okay?”

 

Steve shakes his head. He shifts onto his hip and reaches back to take it out himself. It comes out wet and slightly sticky, and Bucky hands him a cloth for Steve to wrap it in so it doesn’t make a mess. It leaves him feeling cold and open; he shivers, and Bucky pulls the blanket pooled around his hips up over his shoulders.

 

“You can cry, sweetheart,” Bucky says to him. “I’m sorry, baby, I’m sorry.”

 

Steve curls into Bucky’s chest and folded his arms between them, giving in to the urge to hide in Bucky’s embrace. He hates crying, it always makes him feel like a child, immature and hopeless and weak for not being able to keep a lid on his emotions.

 

“Shh, shh,” Bucky murmurs, “it’s alright, let it out. I’m here, I got you, sweetheart.”

 

“I know,” Steve mumbles. He reaches up and swipes angrily at his cheeks, then Bucky catches his hand, stopping him. Steve sniffs hard, and Bucky kisses his fingers once before letting go and brushing away Steve’s tears with a knuckle himself.

 

“It’s alright,” Bucky says gently.

 

“I don’t wanna lose you,” Steve admits quietly.

 

“Aw, honey,” Bucky sighs. He presses his palm to Steve’s cheek and kisses him tenderly, then caresses his cheek when he pulls back. “I’m so sorry I brought this up, baby, you’re not gonna lose me, I’m not gonna leave you, I promise.”

 

Steve sucks in a breath hard and squirms until his legs are folded underneath him and he’s balled up between Bucky’s legs. He lets out a choked sob, then stutters on his exhale and gasps on the inhale. Bucky puts a hand on his back and rubs slow circles into his skin. Steve goes to grab him, forgetting that he’s actually naked for once, and accidentally digs his nails into Bucky’s skin.

 

“Shit, shit, I’m sorry,” Steve gasps when Bucky gasps in pain. He lays his palm flat over the red marks and ducks his head. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, ‘m sorry –”

 

“Hey, hey, it’s okay, baby, it was an accident –”

 

“I’m sorry,” Steve hisses under his breath. He curls in on himself, he half expects to feel the still air of the room pressing in on the back of his neck.

 

However, the collar around his throat is warm.

 

“It’s fine, baby,” Bucky is saying, “calm down, you’re gonna hyperventilate, honey, slow down.”

 

Steve reaches for Bucky’s hand and pulls it around to the back of his neck. He presses closer to Bucky’s warmth, the reassuring smell of his body, even the faint aroma of peppermint from the lotion. He stops apologizing and sucks in a long, stuttering breath, before letting it out in a shaking exhale.

 

Bucky rubs his fingers and thumb into the back of his neck. “That’s it,” he murmurs, “deep breaths, Stevie.”

 

Steve sucks in another breath. Bucky’s warmth feels more like home than his shitty apartment ever did; hiding in Bucky’s embrace feels more like home than the crumbling brownstone Steve had been raised in. He feels safe here. Not a damn soul can touch him while he belongs to Bucky.

 

When his breathing evens out, Bucky kisses his hair. “Let’s get you some clothes and water, alright?”

 

Steve nods once. Bucky changes his grip on him, putting an arm under his knees and an arm at the small of his back, and slowly rises to his feet. Steve lays his head on Bucky’s clavicle. He feels tired now.

 

“Can we just go to bed?” Steve mumbles as Bucky takes the stairs.

 

“We gotta have dinner, honey,” Bucky tells him. Steve presses a hand over his mouth, feeling disgusted, and turns his face into Bucky’s neck. “It’s lil’ finger food, sweetheart, nothing bad, I promise.”

 

Steve doesn’t want to open his mouth, afraid he might vomit.

 

“If you eat it, I’ll get you a set of watercolor paints,” Bucky says.

 

“I don’ wan’ watercolor,” Steve whispers. Which isn’t true.

 

“How about a new laptop? And a nice tablet to draw with?”

 

Steve doesn’t say anything. Slowly, he’s able to beat down the abrupt nausea and the feelings that came with it, and he lowers his hand.

 

“‘M sorry,” he says under his breath.

 

Bucky pushes open the bedroom door with his foot and says: “What for, honey?”

 

“I do want watercolor paints,” Steve admits. “I lied, I’m sorry.”

 

“I forgive you, sweetheart,” Bucky tells him. He even tips his head to the side and kisses his forehead. “I’ll buy you watercolor paints anyway.”

 

Bucky puts him down on the bed and bends to kiss his cheek. “Lie here and I’ll get you clothes.”

 

“I can dress myself,” Steve mutters.

 

Bucky pauses, leaning over him. “Let me do it,” he says after a second. “Let me be sweet on you a little while longer, baby.”

 

Steve looks somewhere over his shoulder, then nods. Bucky presses a kiss to his other cheek and straightens up, walking away. He watches Bucky’s ass with unfocused eyes. Whatever they’d been doing, Steve thinks it was a scene but for how gentle Bucky had been, it was over; they’d tried and failed to carry on as if everything was fine. He doesn’t understand why Bucky wants to keep babying Steve when they aren’t going to have sex now.

 

“You’re not still mad at yourself, are you?” Steve asks.

 

At the dresser, Bucky’s shoulders tense. Steve props himself up on his elbows and stares at his back, until Bucky sighs and his shoulders deflate.

 

“Yeah,” Bucky admits. He sounds tired, too.

 

Bucky pulls boxers and then sweats on, lastly a sleeveless white undershirt. He turns around, holding another one of his shirts and a pair of boxers, and Steve lies back so Bucky can pull the boxers over his ankles and he can lift his hips. He sits up and raises his arms so Bucky can pull the same faded Army shirt over his head, and lets his arms drop when he’s done.

 

“Why?” Steve asks.

 

Bucky shrugs. “I thought I was pretty good at this. Guess I’m not.”

 

“At what?” Steve presses further. “Sex?”

 

“Well, for one thing,” Bucky says with a wry smile. “But, more at domming. And… And keeping my head on straight.”

 

Steve shifts onto his knees, kneeling on the bed in front of Bucky and he puts his arms around his neck. Bucky sets his hands at Steve’s waist, looking down instead of at him.

 

“Hey,” Steve says softly. “Y’know, you keep asking what I need and how I’m feeling and all, but you haven’t stopped to ask yourself. And I haven’t asked either, for that I’m sorry. Are you okay? Are – Are you dropping?”

 

Bucky shrugs. “Honestly? I – I don’t know.”

 

Steve touches Bucky’s face with both hands. “It’s okay,” he says gently. “You’re human, too.”

 

Bucky’s arms jerk around his waist and cinch down. Steve drops his arms around his neck and tucks his head under his jaw; Bucky hugs him hard, a hand at the back of his head and the other over his ribs, and after a second he drags in a heavy breath.

 

Steve doesn’t want to ask but he does anyway.

 

“Do you need to take a break?”

 

He says it quietly, and at first, Bucky doesn’t answer.

 

“I can stay with Darcy until my apartment can get fixed,” Steve says. His voice is surprisingly steady, only deepening with emotion. “We can – We can slow down, back off, anything you need. Just say something.”

 

Bucky’s arms tighten around him. “No,” he says hoarsely. “No, honey, I – I can’t explain it, but I don’t want to lose you, either.”

 

Steve pulls his face from Bucky’s neck and kisses him firmly. Bucky’s fingers dig into the back of his head and his ribs; over his ribs, his grip is harder. It might bruise. Steve wants it to. He wants to be reminded this is real wherever possible.

 

They break apart, panting. Bucky moves his hand from the back of his head to his cheek, sweeping at his face with a thumb, and Steve lets their foreheads touch so they breathe the same air.

 

“I don’t ever want to lose you,” Bucky says quietly.

 

“The feeling’s mutual,” Steve whispers.

 

Bucky pulls him into another kiss, a softer one that still leaves Steve’s spine losing tension and air escape his lungs. Steve can’t explain it either, it’s only been three weeks since he met Bucky, but he already feels like he’s falling in love with him.

 

When Bucky pulls back again to kiss his nose and cheek and rest their foreheads together, Steve says nothing. He hardly wants to admit it to himself, and love is still the only four-letter word he’s not willing to say.

 

Then Bucky murmurs something softly in Romanian, something that Steve thinks he’s heard him say before but still doesn’t understand.

 

“What does that mean?” he asks quietly.

 

Bucky kisses him briefly. “I’ll tell you eventually,” he answers and lifts Steve off the bed. “Come on, I’ll put the pizza rolls in the oven and we can watch TV while it cooks.”

 

Steve nods reluctantly and Bucky scoops him up into a bridal carry. Steve grabs his neck and shoulders, then laughs and relaxes in his arms. If Bucky wants to keep carrying him around the rest of the day, Steve isn’t going to complain.

 

Bucky carries him back downstairs, but puts him on the sofa instead of on the floor cushion this time. He picks up the blanket from the ground and drapes it over his lap, and Steve pulls it up over his shoulders, slumping into a corner of the sectional couch.

 

Bucky leans over him, his shadow covering his body, and kisses his cheek. “I’ll get dinner in the oven,” he says, before walking away. Steve finds the TV remote and unmutes the TV; the narrator of Planet Earth is talking about piranhas. He switches to cable, then flicks through the guide for a while, trying to find something to watch.

 

He ends up picking Cartoon Network; there’s a re-run of the original Pokemon on, and Steve feels like the nostalgia would do him good.

 

Bucky returns from the kitchen and glances briefly at the TV before plopping down beside him. Steve automatically curls into him, and Bucky drapes his arm around his shoulders, squeezing once.

 

“Let’s go see a movie tomorrow,” Bucky says abruptly.

 

Steve looks up at him, frowning.

 

“Like a date,” Bucky explains. “Like normal people. We can go out for ice cream after and tell each other our favorite colors.”

 

“Okay,” Steve agrees, though confused.

 

“You were right when you said we were doing stuff backwards,” Bucky says. He shrugs a little, shaking his head. “I thought that if we were just open about what we were doing, we didn’t need to have a relationship with strings, we could just fuck and I could complain about shit to you and you could have nice things – We could do without having to go through all the awkward beginning moments.”

 

He pauses, frowning, and Steve waits for him to finish. “I thought we could do without,” Bucky says. He sounds ashamed. “But I was wrong, and you deserve better than that. I want to treat you right now.”

 

“Are we slowing down?” Steve asks. He doesn’t want to think about not sleeping next to Bucky, not now.

 

“Only a little bit,” Bucky says with a smile. “I don’t wanna pretend that I’d be able to see you every day and not get a hard-on when you bend over, so I’m not taking sex off the table entirely unless you want to.”

 

“No,” Steve says. “What do you mean entirely?”

 

Bucky reaches up and lifts the tag of his collar. “Maybe we should stop exploring kinks for now. Just… Just explore each other.”

 

“I like being kinky,” Steve mutters peevishly. Bucky breaks into a smile but shakes his head. “Besides, you said no hard stuff until I talk with my shrink.”

 

“I did say that,” Bucky sighs.

 

“You can keep being sweet to me,” Steve suggests shyly. He reaches up, too, and touches his collar. “I can just be your dolly for now.”

 

“Alright,” Bucky agrees, exhaling the word. “If you’re sure, honey.”

 

“Are you sure?” Steve asks quickly.

 

Bucky nods and kisses his cheek. “As long as I got you,” he says.

 

Steve catches his lips and reaches up to carefully curl a fist into his shirt. He doesn’t want to dig his nails into Bucky’s skin again.

 

He settles against Bucky’s shoulder, pulling his legs up on the sofa and curling under the blanket, while Bucky’s arms wrap around him and lock together. Steve puts his head in the crook of his neck and wraps one arm around his body and the other he folds between them.

 

“While we’re being normal people,” Steve starts and he feels Bucky looking down on him. “I really like you cuddling me.”

 

“I will do so at any opportunity,” Bucky promises gravely. Steve snorts and drops against his shoulder.

 

He faces the TV again, smiling as Team Rocket blast off again, and Bucky prods him. “What is this, anyway?”

“It’s Pokemon,” Steve says.

 

“Really?” Bucky says, laughing. “Stevie, I think Sasha watches this show.”

 

“Then he has good taste,” Steve affirms and Bucky laughs again. “This came out when I was a teenager. For the longest time, cartoons were my escape. I even thought about becoming an animator when I grew up.”

 

“Why not do it?” Bucky says. Steve looks at him, raising his eyebrows. “You can, I’ll pay your tuition, you can go to NYU, you can fulfill your dream, Steve.”

“I can’t ask you to do that,” Steve starts.

 

“Don’t ask,” Bucky says, catching Steve’s shoulder and grinning. “What else do I got all this money for? Take it, no strings, I’ll pay the whole four years upfront.”

 

“No, that’s – that’s too much,” Steve insists. Bucky drops his gaze, nodding. “Well –” he adds, thinking, and Bucky lights up.

 

“What?” he says. “Anything, you name it.”

 

“You could set up a scholarship,” Steve says. Bucky nods for him to go on. “If I’m good enough –”

 

“Of course you’re good enough,” Bucky interrupts and Steve presses a hand over his lips. “Mphm?” Bucky says.

 

“I am not finished,” Steve says firmly.

 

“Mphm,” Bucky agrees.

 

“You can create a scholarship,” Steve repeats, “and I’ll apply to get it, and the school can decide if I deserve it.”

 

“Mmm,” Bucky says. Steve removes his hand. “Only if I can make a scholarship big enough to guarantee there’s enough room for you to be picked.”

 

“Like, how big?” Steve asks suspiciously.

 

“A few million?” Bucky suggests.

 

“Oh, just a few million?” Steve asks. Bucky shrugs and Steve shakes his head, smiling. “For, what, a full ride for ten people?”

 

“I think that sounds fair,” Bucky agrees. “For people with GED’s.”

 

“That means I have to get a GED first,” Steve answers, narrowing his eyes even as his smile grows. “Which, you’ll pay for, too?”

 

“Only if you want me, too,” Bucky says with a grin.

 

“You’re awful,” Steve tells him and Bucky just laughs. “No, you’re legitimately awful. Who gave you the right to be so kind? I wanna talk to your supervisor.”

 

“Hold on,” Bucky says, leaning to one side. He picks up his phone, fiddles with it, then holds it up. With the camera open. Facing forward. “There you go.”

 

Steve tries to look sternly at his own face, then at Bucky, but his resolve cracks. “Really?”

“Hey, closest thing I got to a supervisor,” Bucky defends himself, then drops the phone and pulls him down into a short kiss. “Heads of the family don’t answer to nobody but their partners.”

 

Steve leans back, looking at him. Bucky keeps smiling, now petting through his hair.

 

“Yeah,” Steve says quietly. “I guess that’s what we are. Partners.”

 

Bucky smiled brighter. “Partners,” he agrees.

Chapter Text

you be the dragon, I’ll be the gold

 

Steve leans in and kisses Bucky again. Bucky curls a hand in his hair, the other at his back. Steve lifts onto his knees to lace his fingers behind Bucky’s neck, slanting his mouth on Bucky’s and distantly, the oven timer goes off.

 

“No,” Steve complains when Bucky sighs and pulls back. “Let it beep, Buck –”

 

“And one of us or both will get a headache,” Bucky insists, getting up. “Then dinner will burn, and it’ll catch fire, and the smoke alarm will go off and we’ll have to evacuate the building, and you’ll be half naked and I’ll have to share with the whole damn street and I don’t share, Stevie.”

 

Steve groans and flops onto the sofa. “You worry too much,” he says, pouting.

 

“I worry just enough,” Bucky assures him, bending to peck his cheek.

 

Steve continues to pout, then half-heartedly smacks Bucky’s ass as he passes. Bucky spins as he walks and wags a finger scoldingly at him, but Steve just laughs. Bucky grins, too, shaking his head as he disappears into the kitchen.

 

“Hurry back,” Steve calls after him.

 

“Yeah, yeah!”

 

Steve let his temple fall onto the cushions, looking back at the TV. The episode of Pokemon has by then ended and been replaced with the new Teen Titans. Out of principle, Steve wrinkles his nose and goes fishing for the remote. He flips channels for a while, until lands on the channel previously known as ABC Family and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s near the end, and unfortunately, Chamber of Secrets is not to follow. Beetlejuice is, and Steve’s not really in the mood for that. He leaves Sorcerer’s Stone on while he scrolls through the guide, looking for something better.

 

Bucky re-enters, carrying a couple of plates. Steve pauses to lift onto an elbow, looking at them, and spots the expected pizza rolls, but also a bowl of fruit.

 

“Is that your attempt at a complete breakfast?” Steve asks, grinning.

 

“Shuddup,” Bucky says as he chuckles and shakes his head again. “It’s to counteract all the chemicals that are probably in these things,” he adds as he sets the plate and bowl on the coffee table.

 

Steve leans forward and takes one, popping it in his mouth quickly before his head can catch up with the action. “Taste good,” he says with his mouth full.

 

“You’ve earned the watercolors, doll,” Bucky tells him, tossing his legs off the sofa to sit down.

 

Steve flushes and shows him his middle finger, and Bucky rolls his eyes at him.

 

“What’re we watching now?” Bucky asks, pulling Steve’s legs into his lap instead.

 

“I’m trying to figure that out,” Steve answers. “Beetlejuice is on after this.”

 

“I like Beetlejuice,” Bucky protests lightly.

 

“It’s too much effort,” Steve groans. “I wanna watch, like, the Great British Bake-off. Something chill.”

 

“Chill?” Bucky echoes. “Like, Netflix and chill?”

 

Steve stops flicking through the channels, blinks at the TV, and looks at Bucky. “Oh,” he exhales. “My. God.”

 

“What?” Bucky asks.

 

Steve starts kicking him half-heartedly, bursting into laughter. “You old man! You don’t even know what that means!”

 

“I’m thirty-eight years old!” Bucky laughs, trying to block Steve’s feet and catching him by the ankle briefly before he wrenches it away and kicks him again. “What’s it mean?”

 

“It means come over to watch TV for five minutes and then let’s have sex while the TV keeps playing in the background!” Steve yells.

 

“I didn’t know that!” Bucky tries to defend himself.

 

“It does not take a genius to work it out!”

 

“I’m not versed in memes!” Bucky keeps laughing.

 

Steve stops kicking him. “I’m dating a caveman,” he says. “My god, I’m dating a caveman.”

 

“Well, if you say so,” Bucky chuckles, then pounces on him.

 

Steve shrieks with laughter and pretends to try and fight him off, but Bucky growls playfully and pins his hands above his head.

 

“You did say you were dating a caveman,” Bucky points out, then bites the meat of his shoulder.

 

“Okay, okay, it’s not a bad thing!” Steve squeals. “I yield, I yield!”

 

“Rah, me no understand your funny words,” Bucky says in an exaggerated voice, then starts kissing his neck sloppily. “Me caveman, me want Omega.”

 

“Fuck off,” Steve giggles.

 

“Me no understand,” Bucky tries to say, but breaks off into laughter halfway through and the effect is lost. Well, the dramatic effect is lost, but the result leaves Steve laughing twice as hard. Bucky kisses his ear and sits back, still holding Steve’s hands, and grins down at him. “Me want my Omega,” Bucky adds, chuckling.

 

“You’ve got me,” Steve answers. “Here, I won’t even fake-resist you anymore.”

 

To prove his point, Steve goes lax under him. Bucky ducks and kisses the other side of his neck gently.

 

“Atta boy,” he purrs, and Steve smiles a bit. Then Bucky lifts off of him again, pulling him up by a hand, and tucks him into his side. “Now, eat at least ten of those and you’ll get watercolor and oil paints.”

 

“You’re turned into my sugar daddy at this point,” Steve tells him, but takes another pizza roll and pops it into his mouth.

 

“I’m fine with that,” Bucky says, squeezing him by the waist.

 

“I’m not actually calling you daddy, though,” Steve adds. Bucky shrugs.

 

“Honestly, you could call me whatever you wanted and I’d be happy with it,” he says. “Even if you really did want to call me daddy. The fact that you’re trusting me with your submission is what would matter to me.”

 

“God, you’re such a sap,” Steve chuckles.

 

Bucky beams at him, then pecks him on the cheek. “I enjoy being sweet with you, is that so wrong, dragă mea?”

 

“Maybe not,” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky grins wider, if that was possible, and kisses his cheek again. Several times.

 

“Omg, seriously, fuck off,” Steve groans, trying to wave him off. “I’m trying to eat!”

 

“And you will be rewarded for your efforts,” Bucky promises.

 

“Flattery might get you somewhere,” Steve says vaguely.

 

“Like where?” Bucky asks with a laugh.

 

“Play your cards right and you might get to go to bed with me,” Steve tells him and Bucky throws his head back to laugh.

 

“Baby,” Bucky wheezes out, then grabs Steve by the waist and hauls him closer; Steve grins and lets himself be manhandled into Bucky’s lap. “Baby,” Bucky laughs again, “your bed is my bed, honey.”

 

“Exactly!” Steve laughs, and Bucky squeezes him as his body shakes from laughter. “You get into it anyway, it’s a guarantee.”

 

“Ah, oh Doamne,” Bucky murmurs, wiping a tear from his eye. “Dragă, I wanna keep you.”

 

“Keep me, then,” Steve answers easily; he drops his head onto Bucky’s shoulder and looks up at him. “You can be a dragon instead of a caveman if I’m your gold.”

 

Bucky smiles down at him; he slips a finger over his cheek to cup his jaw, then leans down and kisses him tenderly. Steve presses a hand to his cheek, smiling into the kiss.

 

“You’ll be my most prized treasure,” Bucky says as he pulls back. “I’ll guard you jealously.”

 

“I’d like that,” Steve tells him softly.

 

Bucky presses their foreheads together and Steve lets his eyes fall shut as they breathe the same air.

 

Steve thinks – maybe, just maybe – that he’s got nothing to worry about. There’s a four-letter word floating around in the shared air between them, and right now, it doesn’t feel like it would be very one-sided.

 

Dragons never relinquish their gold. And wolves mate for life. Bucky sweeps a finger across his jaw, looking at him like he’s precious and not just a pretty boy with a tight ass, and Steve is not worried a bit any longer.

 

The rest of their evening is quiet. It’s not the same quiet that Bucky could bring over Steve’s mind by tying him up, it’s a different but still pleasant quiet. It’s Steve flicking grapes at Bucky during Cupcake Wars until he’s distracted from Kelly’s fondant disaster and pins Steve to the couch again. It’s them laughing every time Bucky fakes the caveman voice. It’s how they wind up sprawled on the couch; Bucky slumped against the arm of the sofa and Steve lying on his chest, their legs tangled together and one of Bucky’s hands shoved down the back of his shorts from lazy making out that turned into lazy snuggling.

 

Steve falls asleep like that; his head pillowed on Bucky’s shoulder, Cupcake Wars still playing and the last bits of fruit and pizza rolls abandoned on the coffee table. When his eyelids begin to droop, Bucky starts rubbing up and down his spine with the hand not pushed down his boxers. He begins to softly hum, too quiet to hear over the TV but deep enough in his chest that Steve feels its tremors.

 

Steve thinks Bucky may have begun to sing, too, but he falls asleep before he can really pick up the words.

 

The incessant beep of an alarm clock wakes him. Steve groans and rolls over to bury his face in a pillow, then it cuts off and he sighs, determined to go back to sleep. He almost does, too.

 

But then lips press to the back of his neck.

 

“Time to get up, dragă,” Bucky murmurs.

 

“No,” Steve moans.

 

“Nope, s’time for breakfast.”

 

“Fuck you,” Steve mutters. Behind him, Bucky laughs.

 

“C’mon, honey, you can go back to sleep when I leave for work.”

 

Steve groans again and rolls over to squint at Bucky. He’s propped up on an elbow and smiling down at him, and slowly, Steve blinks his eyes until he’s more awake, just to look at him. Bucky’s eyes are squinting somewhat, his stubble a bit more wild than elegant, and his hair is a curly mess.

 

Steve reaches up and touches it, then runs his fingers through it, thinking that he looks just as lovely rumpled from sleep as he does put-together. The knots and curls dislodge easily, and Bucky chuckles softly at him.

 

“You wanna play with my hair, baby?” he asks gently. Steve just yawns, then nods and Bucky smiles down at him fondly. “Alright, c’mon.”

 

Bucky pushes his arms under Steve’s knees and back and lifts him up. Steve flops onto his shoulder and reaches up with both hands to comb through Bucky’s hair. It’s soft and cool and smells clean where the ends tickle his nose. Steve is finding more and more things to fall in love with in this man by the minute.

 

“First order of the day,” Bucky announces as they enter the kitchen, “coffee.”

 

“Good,” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky doesn’t put him in a chair or on a stool. He sets Steve on the marble counter and frames his hips with his hands to kiss him. Steve wrinkles his nose.

 

“Morning breath,” he says. Bucky rolls his eyes and pulls away. “Did I brush my teeth last night?” Steve adds while Bucky starts making coffee.

 

“Nope,” Bucky says, “you passed out and I wasn’t about to wake you up.”

 

“Gross,” Steve whispers. “Next time, wake me up.”

 

Bucky shoots a smile over his shoulder. Steve finds himself blushing for no reason and looks down at his feet. He’s wearing socks, which he doesn’t recall having put on before bed. He tips his head to the side, wiggling his toes, while in the background, Bucky makes a pot of coffee.

 

“Did you put socks on me?” Steve asks.

 

“You said your toes were cold,” Bucky answers.

 

Steve smiles. Bucky passes him and brushes a hand over his knees as he moves to the fridge. Steve’s smile grows and he looks up at Bucky’s back as he digs around in the fridge. Looking properly and a bit more awake, he sees that Bucky is wearing loose sleep pants and slippers, his torso bare. Steve watches him pause to scratch a spot on his lower back and thinks that, yes, it was worth getting out of bed to see this.

 

Who else would have ever been given the privilege of early morning Bucky Barnes? Bucky had said he didn’t trust anyone enough to sleep in the same bed, so who else would have been given the sight of Bucky’s bedhead and bleary eyes and relaxed shoulders? Steve doubts Bucky would have shared breakfast at home like this with anyone in a long time. Bucky yawns as he takes a jug of orange juice from the fridge and goes to shut it and Steve smiles, feeling blessed.

 

Bucky notices him staring and raises an eyebrow. He sets the orange juice on the counter and walks over, setting his hands on the counter either side of Steve’s hips and leaning in.

 

“What’chu lookin’ at, doll?” he murmurs.

 

Steve reaches up and tangles his hands in Bucky’s unkempt hair. “You,” he says simply.

 

Bucky smiles and gives a soft laugh, then cups his jaw and pecks his cheek. “You’re adorable,” Bucky says fondly and Steve grins at him.

 

“What’s for breakfast?” Steve asks as Bucky pulls away.

 

“What’d’ya want?” Bucky counters, taking glasses from cupboard. “I got eggs, cereal, bacon, toaster waffles.”

 

“Toaster waffles,” Steve sniggers.

 

“I like toaster waffles,” Bucky defends. He puts the glasses down next to where Steve’s sitting and pours juice. Steve looks down his torso, shaking his head. “I got microwave egg sandwiches in the freezer,” Bucky adds.

 

“Your fridge is a bachelor’s fridge,” Steve says.

 

Bucky shrugs. “Probably because I’m a bachelor.”

 

“Was a bachelor,” Steve corrects absently.

 

Bucky smiles at the orange juice. “You’re right, dragă,” he says. He screws the cap back on the bottle and puts it away, then hands Steve a glass and holds his up. “To the end of my bachelorness,” he says.

 

“Bachelorhood?” Steve says questioningly.

 

“Bachelorhood,” Bucky agrees. Steve nods and they clink their glasses. Steve giggles into his juice as Bucky smacks his lips and sighs. Steve keeps giggling and Bucky raises his eyebrows. “What?”

 

“Nothing,” Steve wheezes. “I’m barely awake, I’m just giggly like that.” He pushes a hand around Bucky’s neck and pulls him into a kiss, orange juice/morning breath taste be damned.

 

Bucky puts a hand on his hip and steps between his knees. He doesn’t take control of the kiss, isn’t passive, either. Steve breaks into a grin and Bucky pecks his stretched lips, then just stays there, leaning their foreheads together with his eyes shut.

 

“I know what I want for breakfast,” Steve declares.

 

“What?” Bucky says softly.

 

“Cock,” Steve says, grinning.

 

Bucky’s eyes snap open and dilate rapidly. “You cannot just spring that on me,” he mutters, then ducks in to kiss him harder.

 

Steve giggles again under him. He puts down his glass and twines his other hand into Bucky’s hair, slipping closer to the edge of the counter so Bucky can grind into his body. Bucky’s hands grip his ass, then lift him off the counter and he walks away. Steve gets his feet under him as Bucky lowers him, then holds onto him for stability as Bucky breaks the kiss.

 

“You gonna be a good doll for me?” Bucky murmurs.

 

“Yes, sir,” Steve answers happily.

 

“Wait here,” Bucky says. He pulls away and Steve holds onto the table next to him as Bucky steps out of the kitchen.

 

He returns with the floor pillow Steve had been sitting on last night. Bucky drops it onto the floor by the table, adjusts it, then steps back.

 

“Kneel,” Bucky says.

 

Steve settles himself onto the pillow on his knees, pulling his shirt out from under his ass and resting on his heels, then sets his hands on his thighs and looks up.

 

“Good boy,” Bucky says gently.

 

He steps closer and sets a hand at Steve’s jaw, then sweeps his thumb around to touch his lower lip. Steve is reminded of the night they met, when he first reclined in Bucky’s lap and Bucky set a thumb on his lip to appraise him. Steve had then simply sucked it into his mouth, just to see what would happen. This time, Steve parts his lips, and then he just waits.

 

Bucky smirks and pushes his thumb between his lips. Steve closes his lips and his eyes and sucks lightly on his thumb. He runs his tongue up its length on either side, pushes at the tip with the flat of his tongue, then lays his tongue underneath Bucky’s thumb and rolls it, using his piercing to press up under the pad of it.

 

“Such a good boy,” Bucky purrs, pushing through Steve’s hair with his other hand. “I want you to wait here while I get our actual breakfast ready. You can have my cock for dessert, honey.”

 

Steve nods and lets Bucky pull his thumb from his mouth. Bucky lets it over in front of his lips for a second, holding his chin to tilt his face up, and Steve takes that moment to press a quick, wet kiss to the tip of Bucky’s thumb.

 

“You’re so sweet, baby boy,” Bucky praises him, a grin splitting his lips. “Happy to wait patiently to have my cock, hmm? What a treat you are.”

 

Steve’s ears heat up and he drops his eyelids, embarrassed by how much he obviously loves this. Bucky chuckles and taps the underside of his chin once. Steve sucks in a breath, but looks back up on the cue and meets his gaze.

 

“Good boy,” Bucky tells him. “Thank you for showing me those pretty eyes, dolly. If you do well, I’ll let you touch yourself while you suck my dick.”

 

“Thank you, sir,” Steve answers quietly.

 

Bucky gives a light nod and taps his wet thumb against Steve’s chin once. Then he takes a step back and walks back to the fridge.

 

Steve bites his lip and curls his hands into fists, resettling his weight on his cushion. He blinks slowly, still only partly awake as he yawns while Bucky starts cooking, and holds his head up purely in anticipation of getting Bucky’s member on his tongue. He sways back and forth a little to an inaudible song, the faint beating of his heart, and Bucky clattering around making breakfast.

 

Steve licks his lips whenever Bucky looks back at him, just to remind him. Bucky always smirks and carries on with what he’s doing. Steve is running low on patience, but he wants desperately to be a good doll for Bucky.

 

Finally, Bucky carries two plates over to the table. He sets them down, steps off to get forks and their orange glasses, then pours coffee for both of them and takes the time to add cream and sugar to his. Steve’s cushion is right next to the table. Bucky pulls back his chair and drops into it, and Steve makes a sudden decision.

 

“You gonna sit down?” Bucky asks.

 

Steve shifts on his cushion instead, so now he faces Bucky’s chair. He shakes his head.

 

“You wanna eat down there?” Bucky adds, raising an eyebrow.

 

Steve shakes his head again. Bucky’s brows tighten in the center, creating a thick line that creases his forehead. His hand comes to rest on Steve’s hair, sweeping down over the back of his head.

 

“What’s the matter?” Bucky says gently.

 

“You could feed me,” Steve mumbles.

 

Bucky‘s eyebrows lift and Steve drops his gaze. Bucky taps his chin and he looks up, feeling his cheeks going hot.

 

“What are your words?” Bucky asks him carefully.

 

“Brooklyn to stop and Jersey to slow down or check-in,” Steve answers.

 

Bucky reaches down and grips his chin. “Are you sure?” he asks.

 

“I wanna try it,” Steve says, feeling shy but keeping his gaze level.

 

Bucky thumbs at his lip. Steve parts his lips, but Bucky doesn’t push his thumb in this time. He looks away and picks up a fork with his other hand, picks at something on his plate, then turns and, still holding his jaw, holds the fork before Steve’s lips.

 

Steve opens his mouth fully. Bucky pushes the fork in and Steve pulls the piece of scrambled egg off of it, chews, and swallows while Bucky watches carefully. Bucky smiles at him and brushes his fingers through his hair. Steve, feeling a little self-conscious, drops his gaze briefly, until Bucky taps his chin and he looks up again obediently.

 

“Very good, honey,” he praises. He takes another forkful of egg and holds it out to him. Steve pulls the food off the fork and chews slowly. “I’ll ask what your number is now and then,” Bucky tells him. “Five’ll be you want to stop and one is you’re fine to keep going. Anything more than three and we’re gonna take a breather. Got it?”

 

Steve nods. “Thank you.”

 

“Of course,” Bucky says.

 

He pets through Steve’s hair as he continues to feed him the egg. Occasionally, he pauses to take bites himself, using the same fork. On every bite Steve swallows, Bucky smiles and tells him good boy, honey.

 

Steve is surprised to find himself slipping towards the quiet place in his head. Bucky keeps petting him and maybe that’s it, Steve always becomes a bit of a limp noodle once someone gets really into petting him, but any apprehension he had thought he’d have is completely absent. When Bucky isn’t holding forkfuls of egg out to him, Steve lets his face rest on his thigh and shuts his eyes, enjoying Bucky coming through his hair with his fingers.

 

“What’s your number, babydoll?”

 

“One,” Steve answers easily.

 

“Are you getting floaty?”

 

Steve shakes his head. It’s not subspace, it’s just calm.

 

“Let me know if you are.”

 

Steve lets out a quiet hum and Bucky nudges the fork against his lips. He parts them without even opening his eyes, chewing and swallowing the small bite before humming again lightly.

 

“You getting full, honey?”

 

“A bit,” Steve says.

 

“You want some toast?”

 

Steve shakes his head. Bucky scratches his nails gently against his scalp and Steve lets out a soft sigh.

 

“Drink some juice for me, baby.”

 

Steve lets Bucky hold the glass to his lips and takes small mouthfuls, shaking his head when he’s done. Bucky bends over and kisses the top of his head and Steve smiles.

 

“That’s all, sweetheart,” Bucky says. “How’re you feeling?”

 

Steve smiles. “Good,” he says. “Better than I thought.”

 

“That’s great,” Bucky tells him. “You wanna go back upstairs and sit in the bathroom while I take a shower?”

 

Steve reaches up and tugs on his thigh. “No,” he says, “I want my dessert.”

 

“You don’t have to, baby,” Bucky tells him gently

 

“I want to,” Steve says, tugging on his thigh again. “Please, sir?”

 

“Damn,” Bucky murmurs. “When you ask so sweetly, dolly…”

 

Bucky shifts around in his chair and Steve sits up so he can turn around. Bucky leaves the hand in his hair as he turns to face him, then parts his knees and pulls Steve in. Steve noses at the waistband of his pants, letting his parted lips rub over the fabric as Bucky strokes his hair.

 

“You did real good for me, baby boy,” Bucky says quietly. “If you’d like to reach down your shorts and play with your pretty cock while you suck me off, I’d enjoy the show.”

 

Steve’s heart rate picks up at Bucky’s phrasing. The calmness in his head hasn’t left a lot of room for arousal, but Steve wants to please Bucky, he wants to make his Alpha’s blood heat up. He rubs his nose along the outline in Bucky’s pants, then brushes his lips against it, his eyes shut and blood rising in his cheeks. He slips a hand under his shirt.

 

“There now,” Bucky murmurs. “That’s a good boy. Would you like to come while you suck me off, dolly?”

 

Steve shakes his head. “Later?”

 

“That’s alright,” Bucky says. “You don’t need to touch yourself if you don’t want to.”

 

Steve shakes his head again. “Want you to watch,” he says.

 

Bucky’s fingers tighten in his hair. “Is that so?” he asks carefully. Steve nods. “Alright then,” Bucky says. “Go on and touch yourself, baby.”

 

Steve shivers and pushes down the waistband of his boxers. He parts his lips and breaths through his mouth so his breath will warm the front of Bucky’s pants and lets his fingers close. Bucky pulls his face away from his groin and pulls down his own waistband. Steve licks his lips, looking first straight ahead, then flicking his gaze up to Bucky’s.

 

“Kiss it,” Bucky orders gently. Steve, shivering, does. “Give it a lick, dolly. Get your tongue wet.”