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Kissin' by the mistletoe (Love came to stay)

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New-fallen snow crunches underfoot as Steve walks along the path with Bucky by his side. Light from the lamps lining the path—Steve always thinks of them as the Narnia lamps—reflect off the surface of the snow with a soft warm glow that’s completely deceptive. At this time of the night, Central Park is mostly empty, and the new snow erased all sign of the people who passed through earlier. It’s like they’re the only two people in a hushed, white landscape.

“Did you remember to order your sweater, Steve?” Bucky asks, breath steaming in the cold, damp air.

“Of course I did.” Steve huddles deeper into his jacket and turtles his neck so the cold wind can’t slip in through the gap between his chin and his scarf. “We've only been doing it for the last five years.” Tony had declared, out of the blue, that everyone needed to wear an ugly Christmas sweater to the party he threw every year for their little group of friends. Steve’s still waiting for the whim to pass.

“What’d you get?”

“As though I'm telling you.”

“Aw, come on. Just this once?” Bucky tilts his head and bats his eyelashes. “I’ll show you mine…” he adds, in a low, seductive voice.

“Nope,” Steve says, amused. After years of watching Bucky flirt with everyone, Steve’s completely immune to the impact of those lashes and that voice. Especially when Bucky’s all bundled up against the cold, capped off with a thick, hand-knit beanie courtesy of Mrs. Barnes. At least some time in the last three years, he’d managed to convince her to leave off the pom-pom.

“Come on.” Bucky elbows him.

“No.”

“Just a hint?” Bucky elbows him harder.

“No.” Steve elbows Bucky.

Bucky shoves Steve with a cheeky grin on his face.

“Stop it, you asshole,” Steve says. “Quit pushing. I’m gonna fall.”

Bucky elbows him again. “For me?” he says, waggling his eyebrows in a lascivious manner.

“No.” Steve tries not to laugh as he shoves Bucky away. “Fuck you.” Between one step and the next, everything goes pear-shaped—his foot lands on a patch of ice just as Bucky pushes back. “Fuck!” Steve yells, as he feels himself start to fall. His hand latches onto Bucky’s sleeve and they both go down in a tangle of limbs. He manages to turn enough that Bucky’s the one who lands on top of him, because if it’s the other way around, he’ll end up crushing Bucky with his bulk. They land with a muted thwump on the snow-covered grass next to the path. Snow billows up around them and drifts gently to the ground again.

Of course Bucky, the fucking idiot, starts laughing.

“I told you,” Steve wheezes, as he tries to catch his breath. “Didn’t I fucking tell you to quit pushing?”

He’d laugh if he had any air left in his lungs. Instead, all he can do is stare up at Bucky as the sound of his carefree laugh winds its way around Steve’s heart. He barely even registers the cold seeping in through his jacket and jeans as he lies in the snow, attention catching instead on the snowflake clinging to Bucky’s lashes. Were Bucky’s eyes always that luminous? The crinkles around his eyes so endearing? Were his lips always that pink?

Bucky’s laugh dies away at Steve’s continued silence. A strange expression settles on his face, like he’s looking into the face of a stranger for the first time, studying and cataloging Steve’s features one by one—eyes, nose, mouth.

Steve’s mouth goes dry. Before he has time to process why, Bucky scrambles up.

“Ah, shit, Steve. Sorry.” He begins to pat snow off his clothes with single-minded determination, even though he’s not the one that’s really covered in the stuff.

Steve climbs slowly to his feet, not quite sure what just happened. He feels off kilter, like something shifted off balance while he wasn’t paying attention. “I told you we were gonna fall.” The words don’t come out sounding quite as salty as he intended.

“Yeah, yeah.” Bucky’s response is equally muted as he continues patting himself down.

Steve brushes snow off himself as he watches Bucky from under his lashes. He tries to slot that weird moment into place in the well-worn and comfortable dynamic between them. No matter which way he turns it, it doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. It’s strange to have something new spring up after nearly twenty years of friendship, but Bucky is endlessly surprising so maybe it’s to be expected.

“Let’s go,” Bucky says finally, face obscured by gloved hands as he adjusts his beanie.

Bucky is uncharacteristically quiet as they continue their walk through the park. Steve’s trying to think of something to say to break the silence when Bucky suddenly bends down. At Steve’s curious look, Bucky waves him on.

“I’ll catch up,” Bucky says. “Gotta tie my shoelaces.”

Since he doesn’t particularly want to stand around losing heat while the wind slices through his damp jeans, Steve keeps walking. He’s gone five paces when it hits him: Bucky's wearing his biker boots—he has no shoelaces to tie.

Before Steve can duck and scatter, a snowball explodes against the back of his head. “Fuck you, Barnes!” He turns around and gets a snowball in the face. Fuck Bucky and his fucking good aim. Steve scrapes up snow and starts packing it good and tight as Bucky cackles like a loon and runs for the trees.

“Yeah, you better run!” Steve yells. Bucky might have the better aim, but Steve can pack his snowballs hard enough to leave a mark.

Steve catches up to Bucky twenty yards from the tree line and slams him in the back with his snowball. Bucky yelps and keeps running until Steve nails him with another snowball.

“Okay! Okay!” Bucky raises his hands in surrender and turns around. His eyes are bright and his face flushed with exertion. “You're so fucking competitive, Rogers.”

“Don’t you forget it.” Steve watches Bucky trudge back to his side. He clasps the back of Bucky's neck when he pulls abreast of Steve. “Idiot.” Bucky's eyes laugh up at him, something that looks like relief flashing briefly, there and gone before Steve’s sure it was really there at all.

The strange tension between them is broken, but the mellow mood that settled over them after their dinner with Sam and Nat seems to have evaporated. Bucky talks a little faster than usual, laughs a little louder than usual as they make their way home to their apartment. And all the way, Steve finds himself almost transfixed by every expression that flits across Bucky’s mobile, expressive face.

 

*

 

“Are you ready?” Steve yells at Bucky’s closed door. “The car is here!” An invitation from Tony always includes a car. They may turn down a lot of gifts from Tony, but none of them are dumb enough to turn down free transportation through the Midtown crawl.

Bucky’s door opens and he steps out. Steve blinks and stares as he tries to process the image before him. “Bucky.” He opens and closes his mouth a few times. “What the fuck.”

“Nice, huh?” Bucky sounds very smug as he holds his arms out.

“Well…” Steve rubs his mouth. “It’s certainly an ugly ass sweater.”

Literally. As in there’s a naked ass stuck to the front of Bucky’s sweater, and it’s an ass made to really draw the eye. The pale beige, globular cheeks stand out against the black fabric of the sweater. It’s circled by a border of silver tinsel that catches the light with every breath Bucky takes. The words UGLY ASS SWEATER ring the ass like a champion’s wreath. Honestly, Steve’s surprised the makers didn’t just go whole hog and shove flashing LEDs inside the ass. He shakes his head to try to clear away the disturbing image of a softly glowing ass, cheeks lighting up in an alternating rhythm.

One good thing about the sweater, though, for the first time since that weird moment in the park two days ago, Steve’s thinking about something else besides Bucky’s lips, his eyes, the way his hair curls after his shower, how good he looks lounging around their apartment in ratty old clothes.

Steve swallows a sigh. That brief reprieve didn’t last very long after all.

Bucky sticks his chest out and does a weird kind of shimmying motion. “Wanna cop a feel?”

“That is… terrible.

“That’s right, Steve.” To Steve’s immense relief, Bucky stops shaking his fake ass at Steve. “Which is the whole point.” Bucky eyes him, gaze traveling from Steve’s face down to his feet. “I feel like you didn’t fully commit to the ugly sweater aesthetic, here.”

“Hey.” His sweater is plenty ugly. But Steve admits Bucky has a point. It hurts his sensibilities to even think of walking around in something as ugly as the sweater Bucky has on.

“You’re such a snob, Steve.” Bucky stares at him for a moment longer, then he starts to laugh. “I can’t look at you in that thing.” He turns away to get his jacket, saying over his shoulder, “Quit dawdling, Steve. We’re gonna be late.”

“That’s my line,” Steve grumbles automatically, even as a little glow of pleasure at Bucky’s reaction to his sweater warms him. “Good luck zipping up.”

Bucky pats the ass and flashes him a cheeky grin as they leave the apartment.

 

*

 

The first people that Steve sees when the elevator door opens onto Tony’s penthouse suite in Stark Tower are Sam, and his partner, Riley. They’re standing in front of the huge plate glass windows, whispering conspiratorially, probably plotting a BASE jump from the roof. Sooner or later, and Steve’s betting on sooner rather than later, they’ll convince Tony to let them do it. Hell, Tony will probably jump with them when the time comes.

“Gentlemen!” Bucky announces in grandiose tones as they step out of the lift. “We have arrived!”

“Rogers and Barnes!” Sam yells, coming forward together with Riley in their matching sweaters.

Bucky waits till he has Sam’s full attention before unzipping his jacket. Steve has to admit the sweater is probably worth every cent Bucky paid for it when Sam recoils at the sight of it.

“I am not hugging that thing.”

“Coward.” Bucky radiates smugness out of every pore.

Bucky really did pick the perfect sweater, because he’s an asshole and Steve loves him for it. Steve exchanges a commiserating smile with Riley, one quiet guy to another, over the antics of their noisy friends, or in Riley’s case, partner.

“The only ass I wanna get up close and personal with,” Sam says, “is not that one.”

“That’s sweet,” Riley says, patting Sam’s ass as he walks past. “I have no such qualms.” He squeezes one foam butt cheek and pulls Bucky into a hug. “Merry Christmas, man.”

“Nice sweater,” Steve says, as he hugs Sam.

Sam’s smile is soft as he looks down at his sweater. “Riley found them.” It has an image of a very drunk Santa being stretchered out to a waiting ambulance printed on it. Trust EMTs to pick a sweater like that.

The elevator door opens behind them and Nat and Clint walk in. Steve raises his eyebrow at the thing sticking out of Clint’s chest. It’s supposed to be a reindeer’s snout, but in actuality looks like nothing so much as a boob. The fact that it’s positioned on Clint’s chest exactly where a boob would go seems to indicate this isn’t accidental. It also looks like it’s made from the same flesh-colored foam as Bucky’s sweater ass. “You bought that from the same place as Bucky, didn’t you,” he says to Clint.

Bucky gives Clint a high five before hugging him. The boob squishes against the ass and the two protuberances pancake with the faintest whiff sound while the two guys slap each other on the back. Steve blinks and looks over at Nat, like, are you seeing this? Nat shrugs, in her pea green sweater with Yoda’s face on it. Have a Merry Christmas, You Must, it exhorts. He pulls her into a hug. “Merry Christmas,” he says. He always forgets how tiny she is until moments like these, when her head fits underneath his chin.

“You look ridiculous,” Nat says.

Steve’s pretty pleased with his choice of sweater. It’s a deep forest green with a picture of a fat Santa wearing the traditional red costume and black belt. It doesn’t outrage his artistic sensibilities to walk around in it, but it still creates a fucking weird effect when viewed as a whole, because the image is just of Santa’s body up to the neck, and where the Santa’s head should be, is Steve’s.

Over the next fifteen minutes, the rest of the group drifts in: Mariah, Sharon, Thor, Rhodey, Pepper . Unsurprisingly, Tony is the very last one to show up.

By ten o’clock, they’re sitting around Tony’s giant living room yelling as Thor engages in an arm wrestling match with Tony and Rhodey. To no one’s surprise, they’re not winning. Steve’s gaze slides over to where Bucky’s coming back into the room with a bottle of beer. As he watches, Bucky puts the bottle to his lips, tips his head back and swallows. Steve’s mouth goes dry as the temperature in the room seems to climb by several degrees. He looks away, suddenly uncomfortable. His gaze collides with Nat’s. She smiles at him and turns away to continue talking to Mariah. He forces himself to relax. It’s probably his imagination that Nat’s been watching him all evening.

Bucky drops down on the couch next to him. “You should arm wrestle Thor.”

“Are you nuts? I like having an arm, Buck.”

“You could take him.”

They both watch Tony and Rhodey completely fail at moving Thor’s arm while he smiles at them benignly. Then, almost casually, to the accompaniment of much yelling from everyone, he pushes their arms down with a decisive thump that rattles the glasses on the table.

“Oh come on!Tony yells.

Thor holds out his arms. “Anyone else?”

Steve stands up.

Three minutes later, he regrets every decision that brought him to this moment.  He’s lost all feeling in his hand, his arm is one long burning ache, the blood pounds so hard in his temples it feels like his veins are going to explode. Thor, meanwhile, smiles as though he’s enjoying a little light exertion. A movement at the corner of his eye catches his attention. It’s Nat, Mariah, and Pepper leaving the room. His gaze wanders over to Bucky for the thousandth time that evening and he catches Bucky watching him with a strange expression on his face. When he realizes that Steve’s watching him back, his expression changes into supportive enthusiasm.

“Come on, Steve!” he yells. “I’ve got money on this!”

“Fuck you,” Steve grunts. He makes one last desperate push and manages to move their gripped hands two inches. A worried look crosses Thor’s face. Then he clenches his jaw and narrows his eyes. That’s it, Steve thinks, it’s over. Two seconds later, his arm is slammed down onto the table.

Jesus Christ, but the guy’s strong. Steve shakes out his hand and slumps back in the chair while he tries to bring his arm back from the dead. A huge hand appears in front of his face.

“Good fight, Steven.” Thor beams at him. “Perhaps one day soon you’ll present a challenge for me.”

It’s said with such sincere earnestness that Steve can only huff a laugh as he shakes Thor’s hand.

“Time for the traditional eggnog.” Thor claps his hands together and wanders off to the bar in search of the eggnog which has three times the normal amount of alcohol in it.

Bucky holds his hand out to Steve. Steve accepts it and lets Bucky pull him off the couch.

“I can take him, huh.”

“You needed a little encouragement. We needed a little entertainment.”

“Fuck you.”

“But at least his hand moved.” Bucky pats Steve reassuringly on the shoulder. “That’s something.”

“Gee, thanks,” Steve says, as they get to the bar.

By the second glass of eggnog, Steve’s feeling a very pleasant buzz. Bucky’s listing slightly and leaning against him as they stand around the bar with their drinks. The rest of the evening passes in a warm haze of hilarity and trash talking.

It’s nearly one in the morning when everyone starts making noises about going home. Steve and Bucky are standing in the entry way waiting their turn to collect their jackets when Nat calls out to them.

“Look up.”

Steve looks up and swallows as his heart turns over in his chest. Mistletoe. There's a tiny sprig of mistletoe hanging on the ceiling. Anyone getting into Tony’s private elevator is going to pass under it. He’s almost a hundred percent certain that wasn’t there when they arrived.

“Alright!” Sam grabs Riley, dips him, and gives him a long kiss while everyone cheers.

“Pepper,” Tony wheedles.

“We live here,” Pepper says, with a sly smile. “We’re not walking under it.”

“Aww, Pep.” Tony pouts like a little kid denied his favorite toy. Then he brightens. “I can put some in the bedroom.”

“How do you know there isn't some in there already?”

“I knew I married you for a reason.”

“My brains?”

“Yes.” Tony waggles his finger at Pepper. “Exactly that.”

“Get a room, guys.” Mariah rolls her eyes at them, but her eyes glimmer with warm amusement.

“Come on, honey buns,” Clint says to Nat. “Our turn.”

Their kiss is warm and sweet and then it's Mariah and Sharon’s turn. They’ve been good friends since college, so they shrug and give each other an affectionate peck on the lips.

All eyes turn to Steve and Bucky. Like Mariah and Sharon, they’re just good friends. So there’s no excuse there. Steve turns towards Bucky, who’s unusually quiet as they face each other under the mistletoe.

Steve looks into Bucky’s clear gray eyes. “Um.” His heart rate has been steadily climbing since he saw the mistletoe, if he waits any longer, he might actually have a heart attack. He clears his throat. “Merry Christmas, I guess?” He leans down and presses a quick kiss to Bucky’s lips just as Bucky tilts his head up. Steve ends up sort of kissing Bucky’s lower lip and part of his chin. Steve’s left with a brief impression of part of warm, soft lip, and a stubbled chin. Way to go, Rogers. He can’t help the disappointment seeping through him as he straightens.

Jeers and catcalls erupt around them. “Call that a kiss?” Sam yells.

Steve holds up his middle finger and turns around in a slow circle to let everyone have a good look at it while hoping his face isn’t as red as he thinks it is. Bucky yells “Kiss my ass!” while pointing to his chest. Steve’s not sure if the blush staining Bucky’s cheeks is from the yelling or from something else. 

They stumble into the elevator together with the rest of their friends while Pepper waves them off. Tony has already disappeared off somewhere since he’s never good with goodbyes. In the car ride home, silence descends between them. Not awkward, not the silence of strangers, but not quite their usual comfortable and familiar silence. A new thread of awareness weaves through it, pulsing in time with his heart.

Steve’s not sure if he’s the only one feeling it, but then again, he’s not sure that he’s not. He’s caught Bucky staring at him a few times, that same odd look on his face, almost disbelieving, as he studies Steve when he thinks he can’t be seen. Steve can’t help wondering if Bucky is also feeling that same dawning revelation that something in their relationship shifted that night, as they lay on the snow in Central Park.

 

*

 

Steve looks at his phone and groans. Nearly three in the morning and he’s done nothing but toss and turn since he climbed into bed. He can’t stop thinking of the kiss.

Soft. Warm. Fucking botched.

He rips back the covers before he can second-guess himself. He has to know, that’s all there is to it. Worry, uncertainty, doubt; they all fall away as he focuses on that one goal. He has to know.

There’s a strip of light showing under the door when he knocks on it, so at least he’s not the only one having trouble sleeping. Bucky opens the door, looking soft and rumpled in an old T-shirt and sweats.

“What the hell, Steve?”

“I want a do-over.”

Bucky tilts his head and gives him a befuddled look. “Do-over?”

“On the kiss,” Steve says. It’s ridiculous how adorable Bucky looks with his head tilted at an angle and his hair all fluffy and ruffled. Steve feels an almost overpowering urge to wrap Bucky in his arms and squeeze him till he squeaks. “I want a do-over. I messed it up.”

Bucky gives him an odd look, like he’s trying to figure Steve out. Then he shakes his head and rolls his eyes, a brief flash of disappointment there and gone. “Fucking perfectionist.”

Steve lets that stand even though Bucky’s got it all wrong. Well. Mostly wrong.

Bucky heaves a put-upon sigh. “Okay. Go for it. Hit me with your best shot.” He closes his eyes, tilts his head up, and puckers his lips in an exaggerated fashion.

“Asshole,” Steve mutters. He brushes his lips against Bucky’s. This time, he doesn’t miss.

Bucky opens his eyes, something unreadable in them. “Is that it?”

“No. I’ll tell you when I'm done.” He brushes his lips against Bucky’s again. And again. And again, and again until Bucky’s lips relax out of the pucker as his breath quickens and he leans forward into the kiss. Almost without conscious thought, Steve closes the distance between them. He strokes his tongue over the seam of Bucky’s lips and hopes…

Bucky pulls back, his eyes searching Steve’s. After a moment, he smiles, eyes going hooded and knowing, and presses himself flush against Steve.

Yes, Steve thinks, and dips his head. He groans when Bucky parts his lips, letting Steve learn his taste. They kiss slow, and deep, and unhurried. They kiss until Steve’s lips throb, and he can feel Bucky’s cock pressing against his own. He trails his lips down to the column of Bucky’s neck, to that little tendon that tempts him every time Bucky laughs. He licks it and gives an experimental nip. Bucky groans, a sound that goes straight to Steve’s cock.

“Come on,” Bucky whispers, as he tries to tug Steve into his room.

“My room,” Steve says. “I’ve got cleaner sheets.”

Bucky gives him an unimpressed look. “Really? We’re skipping the honeymoon period totally?”

“I don’t think it’s possible to have a honeymoon period after we’ve known each other nearly twenty years.”

“I feel like I’m getting cheated of an important phase of a relationship here, Steve. You know, that short period of time where you put some effort into being nice before revealing you’re actually an asshole?”

Warmth bubbles up inside Steve at the sour look Bucky gives him. Bucky already knowing he’s an asshole is so freeing. People expect him to be a certain way because of his build and his all-American looks, but Bucky remembers when he was scrawny and short and prickly as fuck because he got made fun of all the time for being a shrimp, for caring too much about issues. Slipping into this new phase of their relationship feels like the most natural thing in the world, and he can't hold back the stupid grin on his face.

“God. Don’t look at me like that. Those puppy dog eyes should be illegal.” Bucky rolls his eyes when Steve takes his hand and leads him out of the room. “Okay, fine. But when we do get to fifth base, we’re using my stuff.”

“I’ve got stuff,” Steve says, indignantly.

“My stuff’s better. Admit it. You’re a cheapskate.”

“I’m frugal.Steve kicks his bedroom door shut as he pulls Bucky’s T-shirt off. Whatever he’s about to say next is lost when he takes in the view in front of him. In the low light from Steve’s bedside lamp, Bucky looks lean and lithe and golden, with long muscles wrapped up in silky smooth skin. A scattering of chest hairs merge into a trail that disappears into the waistband of his sweats. “God, Buck.” Steve trails his hands up Bucky’s naked sides, savoring the sound of Bucky’s soft gasp.

He’s seen Bucky shirtless countless times over the years, but it’s never affected him like this before. He wants to taste, touch, lick, bite. “How did we never—?” His words get cut off when his shirt is unceremoniously yanked over his head.

“I have no fucking clue. I mean…” Bucky traces his hands down Steve’s shoulders, over his pecs, down his arms. “Look at you. You’re a fucking work of art, Steve. I should've been drooling. How could I not have been drooling?”

“Are you drooling now?”

“Fuck, yeah.”

“As long as I'm not drooling alone.”

“Can you imagine that.” Bucky’s eyes twinkle with laughter. “Steve Rogers has game.”

“I’ll show you game,” Steve growls, as he pulls Bucky close. He can't resist kissing those smirking lips a moment longer. Bucky's skin is warm against his own, sliding against his with a delicious friction that sends heat wending through his veins.

“Show me what you want, Steve,” Bucky whispers against his lips, voice low and seductive.

Jesus. Bucky’s sex voice goes right to his dick. Bucky hums in his throat as Steve pushes him back until he bumps into the wall.

“Fuck,” Bucky whispers, head tipping back as Steve presses his hips into Bucky’s.

Steve can’t hold back his own groan as their cocks slide together. The sensation is muted by the layers of fabric in the way, but Steve likes it, wants to drag the whole thing out for as long as he can—kissing Bucky, grinding against him. Bucky lets him set the pace, his generosity and ability to cede control so gracefully sets Steve alight and makes him feel blessed at the same time.

Bucky’s hands rove over his back and up into his hair as they exchange kiss after kiss. Steve can feel his orgasm building, slow and inexorable, like a tide coming in. “Bucky,” he whispers, “Bucky.”

“That’s it, baby.”

Fuck.” Steve’s hips stutter at the endearment, and his orgasm crashes through him with a suddenness that leaves him gasping.

“You like that, huh? Me calling you ‘baby’?”

“Christ, Buck.” Steve drops clumsily to his knees and pulls down Bucky’s sweats and underwear. He’s going to have bruises tomorrow but he doesn’t care. He needs to take Bucky apart like Bucky just took him apart.

“Steve… you don’t have to—” Bucky’s head thunks back against the wall. “Fuuuuuuck…”

Steve savors the fullness and weight of Bucky’s cock in his mouth as he breathes in the clean, musky scent of Bucky’s skin. He swirls his tongue around the tip, drawing a ragged curse from Bucky as he learns the shape and taste of it. There’s a weird moment of disconnect when he looks up. He knows that face better than his own and yet he’s never seen Bucky quite like this—with kiss-swollen lips, with eyes dark and hungry and lust-hazed. He has Bucky’s dick in his mouth and that’s so strange and also so right.

“Steve,” Bucky whispers, as he cups a hand around Steve’s jaw. “Steve, baby, I’m gonna…”

The warning is appreciated, but Steve’s not one to do things in half measures. He tightens his grip on Bucky’s hips and takes him in as far as he can go, which, thanks to Steve’s competitive nature, is pretty damn far. Bucky chokes out Steve’s name as his hips jerk and his back arches. Steve swallows down every drop as Bucky comes in hot, wet pulses, and he keeps on sucking until Bucky pushes weakly at his shoulder.

Steve sits back on his heels and looks up to find Bucky watching him with something like wonder in his eyes.

“Steve.” Bucky shakes his head, sounding dazed. His chest heaves as he tries to catch his breath. “We just…”

“Yeah.”

Bucky pulls Steve up with shaking hands and kisses him, a sweet press of lips and an exchange of breaths. “So…” Bucky says, when he pulls back. “What does this mean?”

Steve swallows. He’s pretty sure they’re on the same page, but his heart is suddenly pounding now that it’s time to actually confirm it. “That we’re dating?” He bites his lip as he waits for Bucky’s reaction. When Bucky smiles, soft and satisfied and almost smug, Steve’s breath escapes him in a rush as the tightness in his chest eases.

“Merry Christmas to me,” Bucky says.

“To us.” 

“To us,” Bucky agrees. He smiles up at Steve, and Steve can only stare back, surprised anew by what just happened between them. He’s still trying to memorize the exact expression on Bucky’s face when Bucky slaps his ass and shoves him away.

“Come on,” Bucky says. “Shower. Then we go lie on those clean sheets of yours. Don’t think I didn’t notice you managed to have sex and not mess them up.” He steps out of his sweats and strides off to the bathroom, bare-assed naked.

“What was that about the honeymoon period?” Steve yells after him, his ass still stinging. But he dutifully follows after Bucky, enjoying the view as he goes.