Bucky likes to joke that Steve’s Russian is improving. Like the world’s most fucked up Rosetta Stone. If it had been in English Steve would only have had to read it once to commit the words to memory, but it was harder to grasp Russian, harder to make sense of the unfamiliar symbols. He’d had to read the journal a few times, had to keep it on the bedside table, a horrible reminder, a taunt. The world’s most horrible novel. Some heavy reading before bed.
But now Steve had a pretty good grasp on the words, even if his pronunciation was occasionally so horrible that it caused Bucky to break, to burst into laughter. He’s gotten good at judging the days and Bucky’s mood, the times when he can butcher the words without sending Bucky deeper into hell, the times when he’ll be rewarded with that laugh.
But the journal stays, ever present on the bedside table, next to the medication planner, three separate bottles of water, and Bucky’s tattered copy of The Hobbit. Steve would never dare to move it without checking with Bucky, and they never talk about it, not even on the nights when Steve would come home to find Bucky reading it, flipping through the pages with an almost bored expression, as if he were waiting at a doctor’s office and it had been the only thing available to read. Steve might have thought he was trying to distance himself from it, trying to see it as a thing that had happened to someone else, except. Except.
He hadn’t wanted to, at first, hadn’t wanted to ever speak those words, especially now that they had been removed from Bucky’s mind through Wakandan tech and Shuri’s genius. But Bucky had wanted it, and who was Steve to ever deny him anything?
And it was -- well. It was not bad. Steve was… he liked it. He definitely liked it.
Bucky would either leave the journal the way it was or he would flip it upside down. If the journal was upside down it meant he needed Steve and he needed the words. It was easier this way. Bucky didn’t always know how to ask for things. It was a Pavlovian response for Steve, now, whenever he saw that flipped over journal, the hunger and desire taking over so he could think of nothing else.
Sam always tells him that recovery isn’t linear. That there isn’t one right way to do it. Occasionally Steve wonders what he’d say if he knew.
The journal is flipped over tonight, which means that even though Bucky has a book in front of him he’s not reading it. His eyes are following Steve around the room, watching as he changes into his pyjamas, a pair decorated with kittens wearing Santa hats.
“Tis the season,” he says in response to Bucky’s raised eyebrow.
“Tis August 17th,” Bucky says back. His hand is shaking the tiniest bit where it holds the book; he’s bad tonight.
Steve takes the book out of Bucky’s hand. It’s some hefty thing about the goldrush. Bucky reads a lot of books like that now, huge tomes based on some subject that sounded heinously dull, but he hoards knowledge now, like he was trying to fill up the spots in his brain that had been carved out. Steve considers throwing it, wonders if Bucky will be more aroused at the pathetic attempt at dominance or annoyed that Steve might have damaged his book. Both, probably. Steve would probably get an earful later.
He drops the book gently on the floor and then takes Bucky’s shaking hand, holding it the slightest bit too tightly. It had been a hard line to find at first, hyper aware of his strength and unsure what exactly Bucky needed. But he’s well versed in Bucky; it had been the first language he had ever been fluent in. He pins Buck’s hand above his head, leans in close so his lips are pressed against Bucky’s ear, and he says, “I love you,” because he’d sworn if he ever got Bucky back he’d tell him that a hundred times a day, and then he says, “ желание .”
The effect on Bucky is instantaneous. He goes limp, pliant, ready to be put in any position Steve wants him in. He strokes Bucky’s hair and then rubs his thumb over Bucky’s lip. He looks up at Steve with wide, trusting eyes. It’s the face Bambi would make, if Bambi had been abducted by hunters and turned into a brainwashed deer assassin. He closes his lips around Steve’s thumb.
He grabs Bucky’s hair and drags him out of the bed. He kneels at Steve's feet and works on removing Steve's ridiculous pyjama pants. He is adept at working with only one hand, and he removes the Christmas kittens easily, working them down Steve's thighs before leaning in and licking up the length of Steve's cock. He tightens his grip on Bucky’s hair as he takes Steve into his mouth, flattening his tongue along the base as Steve pushes deeper into his throat. Bucky stays still and lets Steve set the pace he wants, his eyes trained on Steve's face. Steve uses Bucky's hair to pull him closer and push him away, not moving his hips. Bucky has always been remarkably good with his mouth, and even with Steve ostensibly using him as he wanted, Bucky is still putting his tongue to good use. Steve wants nothing more than to fuck his mouth, to use Bucky until Steve comes down his throat.
But today isn't about Steve, so he resists the urge to lose himself in the warmth of Bucky's mouth.
He pulls Bucky off his cock by the hair, yanking him up until he's standing. Steve tilts Bucky's head back, moving in close to say in his ear, “Ржавый.”
Steve makes quick work of removing Bucky's clothes. It had taken a few times for them to work it out, to figure out how to navigate without speaking. The trigger words had to be said in order with no interruptions, and even though they didn’t work on Bucky anymore -- Steve would never have said them if they did -- sometimes Bucky needed the illusion that they did. Sometimes he didn’t. Sometimes he only needed the words and not the baggage that came with them, but tonight he needed both. Steve could read him, had him memorized like his own tattered version of The Hobbit.
Bucky never talked. He used to talk a lot, before. Before, before, before. Before the war, before the train, before he’d been unmade and then made into something else. Never used to shut up, really, always babbling on encouragements and praise and petnames, taking the Lord’s name in vain so many times it was a wonder he didn’t burst into flames each Sunday when he walked into church. Steve had joked that Bucky got off more to the sound of his own voice than to getting fucked.
Steve missed it, sometimes, but he tried not to. Tried not to compare Bucky now to the way he was. They were different and he was fine with that. There wasn’t a version of Bucky that he didn’t love, didn’t want.
Steve moves onto his back, lifting Bucky onto his lap. He grabs the lube from the side table -- easily accessible at all times, they had learned the importance of that early on -- and presses it into Bucky’s hand.
Bucky knows what he wants. Steve grips his hip tightly. Bucky’s balance was excellent, but it was still hard with only one arm, and Steve didn’t want him toppling off the bed, both for the sake of Bucky’s pride and because he wasn’t sure he’d be able to contain his laughter.
Steve helps him coat his fingers. Bucky never wore the arm T’Challa and Shuri had made him, not if he could avoid it. It stayed in the closet like the weirdest Halloween decoration. It was his way of saying he didn’t want to fight, not anymore. Steve respected that. Sometimes he wished he could do the same.
He holds his hip as Bucky reaches around to finger himself. God, he’s beautiful. The muscles in his thighs are flexed as he holds himself up and his hair is sticking to his face, in his eyes. Steve reaches up and tucks the loose strands behind Bucky’s ear, letting his hand trace down Bucky’s face, shoulders, chest, his powerful thighs, around to where he was fucking himself on his own fingers. Steve pushes one in alongside Bucky’s, watching with satisfaction the way Bucky’s legs shake and how hard he bites his lip. Steve wants to reach up and kiss him, wants to taste the blood.
He does. The muscles in his stomach tighten as he sits up to reach Bucky’s mouth, which opens obediently under Steve’s. The new position pushes his finger even deeper inside of Bucky, and Bucky kisses him sweetly. He is stretched on two of his fingers and one of Steve’s, and he is the most beautiful thing Steve has ever seen.
“ Печь .”
Steve pulls his finger out and spreads lube on his cock, but Bucky doesn’t move, keeps his fingers where they are until Steve decides he wants them elsewhere. He shifts Bucky until he is positioned over Steve’s cock, and Bucky takes his fingers out, feels the head pushing at the ring of muscle and sinks down.
It feels like a slap, a punch, a goddamn bullet, the tightness and the warmth and the feeling of Bucky around him. Bucky doesn’t go slowly, doesn’t ease into it, which is why Steve wanted him like this. Sometimes Bucky needed a bit of pain, something to clear his head, to keep him from falling too deep into pleasure. Steve didn’t understand it, but he didn’t need to. He let Bucky do what he needed. He’d be what Bucky needed.
Bucky’s eyes are closed. Steve wishes he could tell him to open them, wants to see them, the needy, hungry look Bucky always had when he was riding Steve, the brightness in his eyes like this was where he was supposed to be. He has his hand on Steve’s chest, fingernails making marks in the skin that fade almost immediately. Steve wishes they would stay longer, wishes Bucky could mark him, claim him. Wants to belong to Bucky forever. Half moons bloom under Bucky’s fingernails in his skin.
Bucky rides him slow, head thrown back. Steve grips his hips and arches up to meet him, driving even deeper into Bucky who finally, finally let the tiniest whimper escape.
Bucky’s cock is hard, curved against his stomach, craving attention, but he knew better than to touch himself. On nights like these he came on Steve's cock alone.
“ возвращение на родину .”
Bucky's rhythm is getting more and more erratic. Steve has two words left; he had to time them properly. Can't go too fast and leave Bucky unsatisfied, but can't draw it out too long either, past the point of good, past the line of what was too much. The whole point is this is giving Bucky what he needs.
Bucky’s breath is getting ragged and he is unable to stop a moan from escaping his lips each time Steve thrusts up to meet him. “ один ,” Steve says, and Bucky honest to God whimpers, fingers curling against Steve's chest. He opens his eyes and looks at Steve. They are desperate and pleading.
“ грузовой вагон .”
Bucky comes as if Steve had flipped a switch, nails digging into his skin, mouth falling open and eyes falling closed as he comes on Steve's chest.
Steve flips them, pushing Bucky into the mattress and hiking his legs up around Steve's hips. He fucks him hard, lifting Bucky up by the ass to get a better angle. Bucky lets out a strangled noise as Steve drives even deeper into him. It doesn't take long for him to come, and he buries his face in Bucky's neck as the orgasm hits.
He feels a hand in his hair and rolls off of Bucky, who tucks himself into Steve's chest.
“Are you okay?” Steve asks this every time. Bucky always does the same thing, nods and presses a kiss to Steve's chest. He knows Steve needs it, the reassurance that Bucky had needed it and is okay. Steve presses a kiss to Bucky's forehead. They won't fall asleep like this -- they can't, not with their nightmares, the thrashing limbs and Bucky's fear whenever he awoke to someone else's hands on him.
But for the moment it’s enough.