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It was cold. One would think that only his flesh hand would need to be wrapped around the cup of coffee in front of him, but chalk it up to phantom pain. Anxiety. Whatever the fuck was wrong with him at any given moment. He wasn’t even sure why he’d agreed to this in the first place - Sam had become a good friend over the years, but he’d never suggested something like this.

“Look, man, he just broke up with his boyfriend,” Sam sighed. “And I know good goddamn well that you’re single.”

Bucky looked down at his hands folded in his lap, metal fingers twitching. “Maybe I’m not single. M-maybe I found someone. We’ve been fucking like crazy for weeks,” he muttered sulkily, hating the tremor that had crept into his voice. They both knew he hadn’t been on a date since he’d gotten back. He didn’t need to see the smug look in Sam’s eyes. “Fine. One date. And if — when — it doesn’t work, you go back to writing bad anime fanfiction and get your romantic kick that way.”

“...that mean you’re not gonna read ‘em for me anymore?” Sam asked dryly, causing Bucky to sigh again.

 

Bucky slipped his metal fingers around the cup to warm them, checking his phone. This Steve guy was supposed to be there at 10:30. It was 10:28. Bucky was going to give him exactly two minutes to —

“Excuse me. James, right?”

Fuck.

Bucky tugged the glove back onto his prosthetic hastily and stood, catching himself mid-salute before extending a hand for Steve to shake.

Fuuuuuuuuck. Pull yourself together, Barnes. This isn’t the first date you’ve ever been on. Just get through it and you can go home.

“Nice to meet you, Steve.” He forced a nervous smile, looking back at the chair across from him and wondering if he should have pulled it out Finally, he shook it off and sat back down. “So, uh.. Sam’s told me a lot about you.”

“Has he?” Seemingly unbothered by the fact that his chair wasn’t pulled out for him, Steve managed to take such a massive task on by himself before sitting down across from his date.

Flustered, Bucky looked down at his coffee. “Well, not a lot. I’m not sure I could write a piece on you for the New Yorker, but enough.” He laughed nervously and took a sip of his coffee. “To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure that Sam didn’t try and play matchmaker for the first two gay soldiers he met.”

Steve’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. “...you’re gay?” Bucky’s jaw dropped and he seemed to lose the colour in his face. Luckily for him, Steve put him out of his misery. He laughed, reaching across the table to squeeze Bucky’s flesh hand. “I’m teasing. Relax.”

Bucky hated the way his pulse picked up at the simple touch. He didn’t let himself have much physical contact. He didn’t take his shirt off. He didn’t —

“You want to order some food?”

He raised his gaze to meet Steve’s. “Uh, yeah. Food. Sure. Sorry, I’m.. this is.. the first date I’ve been on since I got back. Didn’t want to date anyone while I was all messed up.” He took the menu, sure that Steve was staring at the prosthetic, but when he looked up again, Steve was just watching him. Bucky felt the heat rising up the back of his neck.

“Believe me, I know exactly how you feel. And I’m flattered that I’m your first stateside date. Though, if I know Sam, you didn’t have a choice,” Steve laughed. “This is just a date, James. We’re just gonna get to know each other. We’re just — ah, excellent. Could I get one of your Whole Nine Yard breakfasts, whole grain toast, and eggs cooked…sunny side up. And a coffee.”

Bucky still hadn’t looked at the menu enough to make a decision, but seeing how easily Steve ordered, and feeling the server’s eyes on him, waiting.. Waiting for a grown ass man to order goddamn breakfast… He cleared his throat and put on what he hoped was a charming smile, pushing down the anxiety that was bubbling up in his chest. “That sounds good. I’ll have that.”

“A couple boys with big appetites,” she laughed, causing Bucky to wonder what the hell he’d ordered.

Steve returned the smile and looked back to his date. “I gotta ask. Sam called you Bucky. You don’t look like a teenage sidekick or a crime fighting dog. What’s with the nickname?”

He was still anxious, but couldn’t help laughing. “I got saddled with a pretentious middle name because my mom promised my grandfather. My sister found out he used to go by ‘Bucky’ instead of ‘Buchanan’ when he was in the navy, and.. yeah, it was all downhill from there.” Bucky was starting to relax, and flashed Steve a grin. “I could be a crime fighting dog, pal. You don’t know me.”

“Fair enough.” Steve took his coffee and took a slow sip. “I don’t have a great nickname. Just.. Steve, I guess.” He snorted. “Guys in my unit used to call me Cap all the time, but.. considering that was my rank..”

Before he could stop himself, Bucky interjected. “Did you have a lot of guys in your unit?” His grin widened. Steve choked on his coffee, shocked.

“Prick,” he laughed, pleased that James wasn’t quite as anxious. Steve prided himself on being easy to talk to, but jesus, James had looked scared as hell when he sat down. He’d been worried that there wouldn’t be any chemistry and he’d have to go back to Sam and tell him his matchmaking skills were wrong. Sam had been so damn sure that they’d hit it off. Now, seeing that glint in James’ eye, Steve could see it. It was a glimmer, but it was there. All he had to do was steer the conversation from the army, and the prosthetic. He had a feeling that any mention of it would set James on edge, and really, it wasn’t his place to ask.

Bucky drained the last of his coffee and thanked the server who seemed to appear next to him to refill it. “So, uh.. “ Fuck. “See any new movies lately?”

“I’m a sucker for the classics. I used to watch them with my mom when I was a kid. She figured out I liked boys when I told her I wanted to marry Jimmy Stewart.” Steve chuckled. “In hindsight, most twelve year old boys probably don’t say shit like that if they want people to think they’re straight.” He looked up at James with a sheepish smile. “So, I guess ‘no’ is the answer you’re looking for.”

“W-well, if you want to see a movie sometime, I .. I mean, I’m sure there’s a place here that shows old movies-“

“Why not this afternoon? The IFC shows old movies and on the weekend, they have matinees. It’s just in Greenwich Village. I’m in Brooklyn, so it’s not far from where I live.”

He was surprised. He expected to have the date crash and burn, not … continue. Bucky opened his mouth to speak, but they were interrupted by the food. He looked at his plate, stunned by the size of his breakfast. “Brooklyn,” he said, picking up a piece of toast. “Yeah. I— me too. I live with my sister. Grandpa left me his old place and she just moved in to help me out.” He stabbed at his eggs with the toast and bit a corner of it. “A movie sounds nice.”

Steve hesitantly put his hand on top of Bucky’s and squeezed. “Hey. I just want you to know that I’m not looking for something quick and easy. My ex and I broke up because he wasn’t ready to commit. If you need to take time to be ready, that’s okay. I know how much being over there can fuck with your head.”

“You gonna ask about the arm?” Bucky asked quietly, averting his eyes.

“Not unless you want to talk about it,” Steve replied, giving his flesh hand another squeeze. “I know how hard it can be to talk about that sort of thing. A lot of guys in my company came home missing parts. Or not at all. I was born with a four leaf clover firmly inserted in my ass, so somehow, I made it home.” He ate a piece of bacon, removing his hand from Bucky’s. “Tell me about you.”

“I’m really not all that interesting,” Bucky muttered.

“Bullshit.”

He sighed, spreading jam onto his toast and thinking. “I’m a good cook. Decent. I was shitty in school, I’m good with my hand..” Bucky paused to let the joke land, and earned an eye roll and a groan from Steve. Satisfied, he carried on. “I do a lot of handyman stuff around the house, uh.. don’t really go on dates or anything, just hang out at home. Play a lot of xbox. My sister tried to get me to play Just Dance with her, and I.. have about as much rhythm as you’d suspect,” he said with a self conscious laugh. “What about you?”

“I’m useless when it comes to fixing things or cooking. If it wasn’t for ready-meals and delivery, I’d starve. Uh, let’s see. I draw. A lot. I’m pretty good at it. ” He ate the last piece of his toast. “No family to speak of. My grandma raised me after my mom died, and she passed a few years ago.”

“Sorry.” Bucky said softly. It was a reflex, and one he wished he didn’t have. Years of Irish Catholic guilt were ingrained in him, and Steve must have understood, because he just smiled and nodded once.

He was quiet for a moment and sighed. “It feels weird being on a date.”

“How long were you and your ex together?”

“Year, year and a half. We were just friends with benefits for a while, and in the end, I wanted more than he could give me.” Steve took a long sip of his coffee, and for a moment, Bucky could see how hurt Steve was over it, and how good he was at pretending he was fine with it. That moment told Bucky a lot about Steve that words couldn’t. “We’re still friends. I wanted to hate him, but.. I couldn’t. I don’t have that in me.”

“I do,” he grinned weakly. “My grandfather never forgave someone who wronged him when he was twenty. Took it to his death bed. We Barnes men can hold a grudge like no one else. It’s a gift.”

The two of them finished their breakfast with a sort of easy conversation that neither of them remembered having with anyone else for a long time. Bucky didn’t get anxious when there was a lull in the conversation, and Steve didn’t feel guilty when he took a topic and ran with it. There was a sense of an understanding between them. When the server dropped the bill off and told them to take as much time as they needed, Bucky finally looked at the clock.

“Jesus. It’s almost 11:30.”

“I’d make some stupid joke about how I could lose track of time looking into your eyes, but it’s our first date.” Steve fluttered his lashes, trying to keep a straight face.

Bucky laughed so loudly that the only other people in the cafe turned to shoot him a dirty look. “Fuck, how long have you been wanting to make a crack like that?”

“So long. You don’t even know. “ He put money down on the table and when Bucky protested, Steve held up one hand. “You can get the movie. I got breakfast.” He grabbed his coat and waited for Bucky to do the same. “Are we at hand holding stage yet?”

“We’re not.”

“You’ll tell me when we are?”

He felt his lips quirking in a smile despite himself. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d smiled so much. “You’ll be the first to know, pal.”

Bucky followed him out onto the street and zipped his coat up, walking close to Steve, who seemed to radiate heat like a furnace. It was nice. Just being out and talking with someone when it wasn’t for therapy or work was nice. He didn’t want to get too much into it with Sam later - less out of a sense of privacy and more because Sam would be so goddamn smug about his success at matchmaking.

“So what movie are we seeing?”

Steve shrugged. “Not sure. But I’ve never been disappointed in their choices, and if nothing else, I get to sit next to a ridiculously good looking man for a couple hours.” He smirked.

Bucky felt the heat rise in his face, all the way to the tips of his ears. “Pffttt,” he managed, averting his gaze. He really wasn’t used to people flirting with him, but then again, he didn’t usually give them the opportunity. It was hard to let people flirt with you when you wrapped yourself in a couple hoodies and blocked out the world with headphones. Safer, to be sure, but lonelier. “You ever see yourself in the mirror, Steve? I’m a mess. You look like you walked out of a magazine.”

It was Steve’s turn to blush. “I was a really scrawny nothing of a kid. I guess I still see that in the mirror. Thank god for puberty,” he added with a laugh.

He stayed close to Steve as they walked, curious about how scrawny he could have been, but decided to wait. Looking at family photos was more of a third date activity anyway.

Assuming there’s even a second date, he thought. Don’t get ahead of yourself, Barnes.

Things were actually going great until they had to get on the subway and Bucky was reminded why he hated riding the subway. He swallowed, holding onto the handle and trying desperately to get his hand to stop shaking. It was so crowded and noisy, and he didn’t have his headphones and—

“You okay?” Steve asked, leaning down to murmur into his ear.

“Just.. a lot of people,” he replied through clenched teeth.

“Close your eyes.”

“...what?”

“Trust me.”

“I just met you,” Bucky pointed out. Steve gave him a ‘fair enough’ look, and Bucky sighed. “Fine. I’ll try anything to make this st-“

Before he could finish his sentence, Steve had his arm around Bucky’s waist, holding him firmly. Bucky went tense, his metal hand curling into Steve’s jacket. Slowly, his breathing steadied, and he realized how strong Steve was. Stable. Safe. He let out a shaky sigh and released Steve’s jacket.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“No, it’s my fault. Just ‘cause I don’t have a problem with big groups doesn’t mean you don’t. I should have asked.” He didn’t loosen his grip on the shorter man, and Bucky was infinitely grateful for it. He knew he should be even more anxious about being held by someone he barely knew, but it was vastly overwhelmed by the noise in the train car. “I got you,” Steve promised, his hand splayed across the small of Bucky’s back.

He tried to remember the things he’d learned in therapy to calm himself down when he was anxious, but those were always easier to do when you were in a safe space with someone you trusted and not… with a stranger on a first date in a metal tube currently rocketing through an underground tunnel. It was sort of like being in a wartime situation - all the training and the simulations just couldn’t prepare you for actually being there.

He knew they were getting some looks, but he really didn’t care. He was following Steve’s slow, steady breathing and managing to get himself under control. By the time they got off their stop, he was over the worst of it. “Sorry,” he said again, feeling the anxiety drift away and the embarrassment set in.

“It’s okay. Honestly. I’m a little relieved, actually,” he said, chuckling. “Means if I’m ever feeling anxious or anything, I know you’re gonna understand. I’m just glad I could be there for you.”

“You ever get nightmares?”

“Not as bad anymore, but I used to.”

Bucky nodded, finally pulling away from him and exhaling slowly. He wasn’t sure why he’d asked - maybe for a sense of solidarity? - but he was glad he did. “I hope it’s a chill movie we’re going to see after that.” He laughed to try and prove he was okay, even if he wasn’t sure, and climbed the stairs leading to the street.

He was still exhausted from the anxiety attack, but being out would do him good, and if it was a calm movie, he could zone out. Bucky was jerked out of his thoughts when he heard Steve gasp.

“Oh! It Happened One Night!”

“...is that good?” Bucky asked him awkwardly.

Steve’s whole face lit up and he grinned, nodding. “It was my mom’s favourite. I saw it a lot. It’s like.. the original romantic comedy. Oh, you’re gonna love it!”

He hoped so. It was rare that Bucky saw anyone that jazzed about a movie, let alone a movie that came out eighty-some years ago. Really, it was kind of cute. He paid for the tickets and followed him inside the cinema, noting that beyond a couple of people, they were the youngest ones there by a few decades. “You’re sort of an old man in an Abercrombie and Fitch body, huh?” He whispered, hearing Steve laugh next to him. Bucky felt a little rush of pride at making him laugh but tried not to think about it. He used to make people laugh. He used to do a lot of things, but… things change.

Surprisingly, he did like the movie. It was sweet, and funny, and the perfect easy watch for a first date. Halfway through the movie, he felt Steve’s hand squeeze his, but he didn’t complain. He just tried to hide a smile, relieved that Steve couldn’t see him blushing in the darkness of the theatre.

Steve treated him like he was normal. Like he wasn’t broken. People tended to walk on eggshells around him; acted like the wrong word or gesture would cause him to crumble to dust right there before their eyes. He knew they meant well, but goddamnit, he didn’t want to be treated like a fragile fucking doll. He was Bucky Fucking Barnes, scourge of every teacher in his high school. Brother, son, friend. Veteran was one thing to describe him, but he was tired of letting it define him.

“...Bucky?”

He blinked and looked over, his eyes widening. “Jesus. I.. sorry. Lost in thought. I do that sometimes.”

“It’s okay.” Steve seemed relieved. “I thought you were mad at me for holding your hand.”

“What? No. No, it was..”

Don’t say ‘nice’, Barnes. Don’t you fucking do it.

“...really nice.”

For fuck’s sake.

“Really nice, huh? That mean I could get a second date out of you?” Steve gave him a smile that made Bucky forget how anxious he was for a moment. “I haven’t done the normal dating thing in a while. I don’t know what to suggest.”

Bucky couldn’t believe what he said next. “...I could make you dinner.”

He blinked, surprised. “Yeah?”

“Y-yeah. I mean, it won’t be fancy. I.. I can make spaghetti.”

“I love spaghetti.”

That fucking smile again. God, he was cute.

Steve extended a hand to him as he stood, and Bucky took it, standing with him and grabbing his coat. They left the cinema and got onto the sidewalk, and before Bucky could say anything, Steve was already hailing a cab.

“Why don’t we just take the train?” Bucky asked him, frowning.

“It’s gonna be just as busy as it was before. I’m not gonna risk you panicking again. One anxiety attack is more than enough for a first date,” Steve said firmly. “Besides, if I’m gonna come over for dinner, I should know where you live.” He paused. “...if that’s okay.”

He nodded, swallowing back his nerves. “Yeah. That’s … that’s okay.”

When they were in the cab, and he’d given the driver his address, Bucky looked over at Steve, trying not to let himself get too deep. Steve was nice now, but… who knew how long he’d stick around if things got difficult. But dear god, he was sweet, and he was a dork, and he was cute as hell and he didn’t seem bothered by the initial showings of Bucky’s anxiety. Bucky reached over with his prosthetic and slipped his gloved hand into Steve’s, squeezing briefly. The smile he got in response made his heart thump in his chest. He almost didn’t notice the car slowing down a few minutes later.

Steve paid and got out to get Bucky’s door for him. “I’ll walk you to your door.”

“It’s like.. Two in the afternoon. I’m not gonna get mugged in front of my house, Steve,” he laughed, but Steve simply waited until Bucky rolled his eyes and got out of the cab. “So, uh. This is me.” He gestured to the brownstone, moving to the sidewalk. Bucky could swear he saw the curtains move, but ultimately decided he was imagining things.

“I have a really important question to ask you. And feel free to say no,” Steve told him, looking more nervous than Bucky had seen him so far on their date. When Bucky nodded, Steve wet his lips. “Are you the kind of guy to kiss on the first date? ‘Cause I .. really want to kiss you, but if you’re not … y’know, ready, I’ll wait.” He ran his fingers along Bucky’s jawline and through his hair.

“Normally, no.. but.. I..could give it a shot. “

He wasn’t sure what kind of kiss to expect - a chaste peck on the lips or cheek, or a long, sexy french kiss, or a sloppy awkward one, but what he got was so much better than he remembered kissing being before. He leaned up to meet Steve halfway, and his eyes fluttered shut on their own. Bucky moaned softly, moving closer to Steve and parting his lips. He hadn’t been expecting the romantic movie kiss, but god, he’d gotten it. When Steve broke the kiss, Bucky heard himself let out a little whine.

“I should get going,” Steve said quietly, kissing him on the forehead. “But, uh.. Sam never gave me your number, and I’m probably going to get lost tomorrow. “ He pulled his phone out and unlocked it, handing it to Bucky to put his number in. “I’ll text you tonight, and we’ll work out the details.” He put his phone back in his pocket and headed off towards the nearest subway station, not caring that it was still pretty chilly out. What a first date.

Bucky was sure he saw the curtains move again and he sighed heavily, unlocking the front door and walking inside. “Were you spying on me?” He called.

“It’s not my fault you decided to go all gay romantic comedy in front of our house. I was waiting for a pizza and spotted you insidead. He’s cuuuuute, Jamie. You owe Sam a fruit basket or something.” Rebecca laughed, leaning against the counter. Bucky sank into the couch and let his head fall back.

“Fuck, he’s so cute,” he groaned. “And he’s sweet, and he calmed me down when I had an anxiety attack on the subway, and.. Jesus, what a kiss.”

She moved to flop next to him, resting her head on his shoulder. “How long into the date were you thinking about just .. getting into his lap and riding him like a stud pony?”

“That’s a terrible thing to say to your big brother.” His jaw dropped. “I deserve my privacy just like everyone else, Becks.”

“So, like… twenty minutes?” She pressed, grinning wider.

“...give or take.” He sighed. “I invited him for dinner tomorrow. I’m gonna make spaghetti. Maybe we can watch a movie or something. I don’t know. “

“You want me gone?”

“Up to you. If you’re here, I might have the sense to not make out on the couch like a drunk teenager on prom night.” Bucky put his arm around her shoulder and kissed the top of her head. “Plus you can get a read on him. I… think he’s a good guy. I don’t get a bad feeling from him, but a second opinion might be a good idea.”

She grabbed his metal hand and squeezed it. “You know he’s not gonna give a shit about this. Or anything bad going on in your head. Sam wouldn’t have set you up with someone he didn’t think was good for you. And you need this, Jamie. You need someone else to tell you how amazing you are. Cause your stubborn ass sure as hell isn’t listening to me or Mom and Dad or Sam. “

Bucky felt his throat muscles tighten. He knew she was right about it all. They’d been thick as thieves since they were kids, and she knew him better than anyone. Of course, as her big brother, he replied “Maybe.”

“Fuck off,” she replied, kissing him on the cheek. “I’ll make dinner tonight. In honor of you having a date with a sexy guy, I’m making hot dogs.”

He snorted, checking his phone.

‘Wasn’t sure how long I should wait to text you. But honestly, I really like you, and I had a great time with you today.’

Bucky’s cheeks turned pink and he was about to type when the next text came in, causing him to laugh.

‘Fml. It’s Steve, by the way.’

‘It’s okay. I figured.’

He hesitated on the emoji button and scrolled through them. Did people normally send emojis? He and Sam sent them, but they were friends already. This was new. “Hey, Beck!” he called. “Should I use a smiley face or a winky face when Steve does something dorky?”

Rebecca re-entered the room. “Fuck, he texted you already? I wish I could date a gay guy. Lemme see. “ she took his phone and grinned. “Smiley face.”

Bucky took it back and added ‘:) I had a really good time too. Except for the subway part.’

‘I’m glad I was there. I’ve been through that alone, and it’s hard. On a lighter note, has anyone ever told you that you’re gorgeous?’ A pause, then another text. ‘Coming on too strong? Sorry. I’m kind of giddy.’

‘I like it. I haven’t had anyone flirt with me in a long time.’

‘That’s a shame.’

He was very aware of Rebecca leaning over his shoulder and put his phone against his chest. “Yes?”

“Just nice to see you smile like that again.” She nudged him and went back to the kitchen. “Plus, I never knew you were the kind of guy to kiss on the first date.”

“Me either.”

He had a feeling there were all kinds of things he was going to learn about himself the longer he was Steve. Really, he just couldn’t believe it was actually happening. They were going to have to take things slow, and it was going to take some patience on Steve’s part while Bucky continued to heal, but … god, he was happy.

They texted back and forth throughout the evening, and wished each other a good night when Bucky felt himself starting to fall asleep. Just before he nodded, off, he heard his phone vibrate again. This time, a text from Sam.

‘You’re welcome.’

Chapter Text

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“What the fuck am I supposed to wear?”

 

“The way he was texting you yesterday, I don’t think he’d care if you answered the door dressed like Mickey Mouse,” Rebecca sighed. “Just wear whatever you’re gonna be comfortable in. If you’re worried about your arm, wear a long sleeved shirt.” She saw the look on her brother’s face and tapped him on the shoulder to let him know she was there before hugging him from behind. “You don’t need to worry about the arm. We both know that, Bucky. He knows you have a prosthetic. He’s gonna have to see it eventually.”

 

Bucky frowned and looked away. “I know.”

 

“You gotta give him a chance. He was a soldier too. I’m sure he has his battle scars. And he’s seen plenty. Sam doesn’t care about your arm, does he?”

 

“No.”

 

“Steve won’t either. Now get dressed, and get your ass in that kitchen. I already have the salad done, and the garlic bread is in the oven.” She gave him another squeeze and he nodded, sighing.

 

After she left, he got dressed, feeling a little better after her pep talk, but still worried. He put on a t-shirt, but it bothered him too much to see so much of the metal arm visible, so he put on a long sleeved shirt instead. He could still hear the sound of the explosion sometimes; the sound of screaming and the blood pulsing in his ears, drowning it all out. When he’d woken up in the hospital, he’d been drugged out of his mind, but still couldn’t make sense of the fact that part of him was gone. Just… gone . It’d been there the day before, and now he was going home without it.

 

He’d been lucky to get in with Stark Industries. It’d been a crap shoot, but his arm had been amputated at the right spot that they needed to make that particular kind of prosthetic. He was lucky. That’s what they’d said to him in the hospital. At Stark Industries. In therapy.  He never felt lucky.. Just.. guilty. Why was he the one to survive when three men in his company didn’t get to go home to their families? Why did he get to see his parents and his sister again when there were children who were growing up without a father? And what the hell was he doing with this second chance? Hiding away at home and working at a damn grocery store because it was easy .   Bucky felt a cold hand curl around his gut and squeeze and he winced, forcing himself to take deep breaths.

 

“Stop,” he whispered, closing his eyes. “You deserve to be here just like anyone. You deserve to be here. Healing takes time. There’s nothing wrong with being broken for a little while longer. You’re doing your best.”

 

He repeated that until the fog cleared from his mind, and he could focus again. Finally, he left his room and joined his sister in the kitchen, trying to put those thoughts out of his mind. He had dinner to make.  Bucky stirred the sauce and stepped away to set the table, humming along with whatever his sister had playing on her phone. At least this was an easy meal to make. Steve was due any minute, and as long as he had everything mostly done, they could relax and spend time with each oth--

 

There was a knock at the door. Bucky almost dropped his spoon. Rebecca squeezed his arm. “I’ll get it,” she told him, walking out of the kitchen and to the front door.

 

Steve blinked, and checked the number on the front of the house. He hadn’t expected to have a woman answer, but -- “Oh. Are.. are you James’ sister?” He asked, and Rebecca nodded. He breathed a sigh of relief. “I thought I had the wrong place.”

 

“C’mon in. Bucky’s just finishing dinner. I hope you don’t mind, I’m gonna hang around for the food, but then I’m going to a movie with some friends, so you guys’ll have the house to yourselves.” She winked. “Buck, your date’s here!” She called, motioning for Steve to follow her.

 

Bucky walked out, setting the pot on the table and smiling weakly. “Hey, I … you brought me flowers?”

 

“Should I not have?” Steve hesitantly held the little bouquet out to him, wondering if it was too much. “I mean, I asked the girl and she said red roses were a bit overboard for a second date, but.. Gerbera daisies were nice, and.. I just.. “ He shrugged helplessly. “I ..like you, and I wanted to bring you flowers. And, uh.. Wine. I wasn’t sure if you could drink it or not. Cause of .. y’know, medications.”

 

He took the flowers and ran his fingers over the petals, barely processing what Steve was saying. “Wh-- oh. Uh, yeah. I can. A little bit. And … thank you. For the flowers.”

 

Rebecca took them and patted Bucky on the arm. “Go sit down. I’ll put these in water and get some wine glasses.”

 

“You look great,” Steve told him, closing the distance to kiss him on the cheek. “Thank you for having me over. I really appreciate the invite.”

 

Bucky swore he saw Steve staring at his metal hand, but said nothing. He was probably just being paranoid. “It’s fine. I’m glad you could make it. C’mon. Let’s sit. There’s salad, and spaghetti and meatballs. Rebecca’ll bring the garlic bread out.” He almost opened the wine, but worried about his hand crushing the bottle. “If you want to do the honors?”

 

Confused, Steve took the bottle, but seemed to realize why Bucky was doing what he did. He nodded and twisted the top off of the wine, setting it down. “It smells great, by the way.” His eyes drifted to Bucky’s prosthetic. “I hope it’s not rude of me to ask, but.. is that a Stark Industries prosthetic?”

 

“...how the hell did you know?” He lifted his hand, wondering if there was a logo he’d never noticed.

 

“He has a few certain things he likes to put in his designs,” Steve explained. “I saw enough of them.”

 

“Did you work for him or something?”

 

Steve cleared his throat. “He’s my ex-boyfriend.”

 

Bucky’s jaw dropped. “Really?” How the hell was he supposed to compete with some perfectly dressed billionaire genius? “Christ. You’re slumming it now, huh?”

 

“Are you kidding?” He quirked a brow. “Dating someone who wants to be seen with me in public, tells me how he’s feeling, and introduces me to his family? I’m taking a big step up, James.” Steve squeezed Bucky’s metal hand, causing the other man to smile just a little.

 

Really, he was pleased as hell. He’d met Tony Stark a couple times - usually a whirlwind of tech talk and expensive cologne - and was always in awe of how well he seemed to be put together. To think that he was in any way a step up from that was hard to wrap his mind around. Bucky wasn’t even sure he owned a suit that fit him anymore. He’d lost a lot of weight since he got discharged, but.. maybe things would change. He never thought he’d feel motivated to do anything , but then again, he never thought anyone would look at him the way Steve was doing at that moment.

 

‘Don’t get ahead of yourself’, his mind warned him. ‘He hasn’t seen the worst of it yet. He could still run.’

 

Rebecca returned to the table with the wine glasses and set down the plate of garlic bread. “So! Steve, what do you do?”

 

“I’m an artist.”

 

“What do you do for work ?” She asked, staring him down.

 

He laughed. “I teach art at the community college. I like it. I get set hours, and between that and my military benefits, I do okay, if that’s what you’re asking.”

 

Rebecca nodded, serving herself and moving the bowl to her brother first. “And you’re clean?”

 

“* Rebecca *.” Bucky stared at her, but Steve just seemed amused.

 

“I am. You want to see my paperwork, Colonel?”

 

She shook her head, sipping her wine. “I just want to check. I told Mom that you were dating someone and she wanted me to ask him a few questions.”

 

Bucky groaned. “I’m so sorry, Steve.”

 

He laughed. “It’s fine. Really. I sorta like it. I miss having a family like this. I’m sure if my mom were still around, she would have grilled you too. But to answer any of your future questions, I’m illness-free, I don’t have any kids but I’d like to adopt someday, I prefer cats over dogs, don’t have a preference for any sports teams, and I hate eggplant.”

 

“That’s about all of them,” Rebecca said, texting her mother. “As you were.”

 

Bucky sighed heavily. “I’m sorry,” he said again. “Irish catholic mom, and the first time I’ve dated since I got back. She worries. So does Rebecca.” He took a bite of garlic bed and sipped the wine. He hadn’t had wine for a while - usually, he just stayed away, but his doctor had told him that he could drink a little alcohol here and there without it interfering with his medication, but highly advised him against getting drunk. He’d stick with his half glass and make sure if Steve got a little tipsy, he’d have someone to take care of him.

 

Halfway through dinner, Rebecca got a text and stood up from the table, kissing her brother on the cheek. “That’s my ride. I’ll text you when I’m on my way back. Be good.” She was gone in a blur, and Steve shook his head, amused.

 

“Always wondered what it’d be like to have a little sister. Guess now I know.” He licked tomato sauce off his lips and finished his first glass of wine. “Thanks again for having me over, James.” Steve thought for a moment. “James doesn’t suit you. At all. Can I call you Bucky? Is it okay?”

 

Bucky cleared his throat. “Uh, y-yeah. Everyone does. It’s fine. “

 

“Thank you for having me over, Bucky.”

 

Steve gave him that smile again. He had to know the effect it had on Bucky, didn’t he? The little shit. Steve was doing it on purpose to flirt with him and drive him crazy. Bucky downed his half-glass of wine and regretted it instantly. Before yesterday, he hadn’t been touched or kissed in years - pre-Army, certainly - and if he got too tipsy, he’d lose his resolve. Wine was not his friend.

 

“Y-you’re welcome.” He stood. “I’m gonna get some more water. You need anything?”

 

Steve shook his head, pulling his phone out and sighing. “Hang on.” He stood from the table. “Tony, now’s not a good ti— I’m on a date .”

 

Bucky tried to be as quiet in the kitchen and pretended once he sat back down that he wasn’t listening to Steve, but of course he was. He was insecure as hell, and still thought Steve was out of his league.

 

“Yeah, I— he really, really is. Yeah. No, we haven’t—“ Steve pinched the bridge of his nose. “Tony, it’s our second date. Yes, I know you and I were in bed early on but we weren’t dating. Look, we’re just having dinner, can I.. “ he closed his eyes. “Absolutely not. I’m not letting my ex talk to my date. No. Tony. Tony, no. I—“ He sighed heavily. “Bucky, would you mind talking to Tony? I think he wants to play worried parent.” There was loud laughter from the speaker of the phone. Annoyed, Steve huffed. “It’s a nickname, Anthony .”

 

Bucky swallowed. “Yeah, I’ll talk to him. You put up with my sister, right?” He took the phone. “Hello, uh.. Mr. Stark.” Because what did you call someone who gave you a prosthetic that was beyond your wildest dreams - and oh, dated the guy who was now sitting across from you.

 

Bucky. ” came a slurred voice. “You know what my biggest regret is, Bucky?”

 

“....did you invest in Miramax?” Okay. So he could be a little snarky. Tony sounded drunk enough he wouldn’t remember anyway.

 

Tony chuckled. “My biggest regret is fucking up what I had with Steve. He’s gone. I get that. If you hurt him, I will find every way to hurt you that I can.”

 

“We’re on our second date, pal. You wanna save this speech for our wedding? I’m gonna hand the phone back.”

 

“He likes to talk dirty in bed. He looks sweet and innocent, but he talks like a porn star when he gets going.”

 

Bucky’s mouth went dry, and he found himself unable to form words for a second. “Wh..”

 

“Okay! Now you can hand the phone back, Bucky!” Tony said cheerfully. “Nice talking to you.”

 

Wordlessly, Bucky handed the phone to Steve, wondering if that was even true. The sheer mental image had his brain reeling, and left him with the beginnings of an unwanted erection. He heard the conversation continue for another minute, but he wasn’t listening. It wasn’t until Steve touched his arm that Bucky realized Steve was talking.

 

“You want me to give you this big cock?” He asked.  

 

Bucky’s jaw dropped. “Wh—what?”

 

Steve blinked a few times. “...I asked if you wanted to sit and talk. Are you okay, Bucky? What the hell did he say to you?”

 

“He, uh.. told me some of the stuff you liked in bed.”

 

“I’ll kill him.” Steve huffed, pouring himself more wine. “I should have known better. I’m sorry. He can be an asshole. He sounded drunk enough that he probably won’t remember. Still.” He sipped his wine. “Why don’t I help you with dishes, and we can watch tv or something? I— look, whatever he said, I meant it when I told you I wanted to take things slow. I like you, and I don’t want us to just.. flame out, for lack of a better term. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to get you into bed, but rushing into it hasn’t ended well for me in the past.”

 

“How about date six?” Bucky asked, clearing his throat. “We should.. have an idea of where we stand with each other by then.”

 

“Six?” Steve smiled. “Does that mean dates three through five are guaranteed?”

 

“Let’s not go crazy yet. I’m just setting a timeline.”

 

He leaned across the table to kiss Bucky gently on the lips. “The timeline sounds good to me. You tell me when you’re ready.”

 

Bucky groaned. “Fuck, you’re so nice .”

 

“I have my moments.” He winked, grabbing the dishes and heading into the kitchen. If he noticed Bucky checking out his ass, he didn’t say anything.

 

Bucky followed after him and pulled Steve to him from behind. “So, are you gonna ask what he said?”

 

Steve leaned back into him, amazed at how strong Bucky felt. He was much more solidly built than he appeared. “It could have been any number of things.”

 

“Were you guys that creative in bed?”

 

“Mn. Sometimes. He has a short attention span. Had to try and keep him interested.”

 

He felt like he should let go, but.. it was kind of good to be holding Steve like that, and Steve didn’t seem to mind. “Not me. I focus on details too much. It’s the joy of anxiety.”

 

Steve laughed, putting the dishes into the sink and resting his hands on top of Bucky’s. “Can you feel it when I touch your hand?”

 

“Sort of.” Bucky didn’t really want to talk about it, but it was gonna come up sooner or later. “I get sensations of hot and cold, and pressure. It’s hard to explain. I didn’t ask about the ...technical stuff. Figured I wouldn’t understand even if he told me. I barely understood how to set up my laptop.”

 

Steve turned so they were facing each other, draping his arms around Bucky’s shoulders. “We should dance.”

 

“We don’t have mus—“

 

“No. You said your sister had Just Dance.” He grinned widely. “C’mon. Let’s play.”

 

“No. No. No. It’s not going to end well,” Bucky protested weakly. “I’m gonna be awful.”

 

“We both are. It’ll be fun.” He was already feeling lightheaded from the wine. “I’m sure they have couple songs.”

 

He wanted to protest a little more but the look on Steve’s face - god, he was so cute - made him give in. “I’ll go set up the xbox,” he muttered, giving Steve a swat on the ass. “Captain, you finish dishes.”

 

“Yessir, Sarge.” Steve gave him a half salute.

 

Bucky rolled his eyes and went into the living room. His mind kept flashing back to what Tony said. What if he couldn’t keep up? He’d had sex before, but only a couple times. Shit. Should he be watching porn to research? Was that a thing? He could start reading Cosmo while he waited in line at the grocery store, they were always advertising new ways to please his man.

 

While the game loaded, Bucky googled ‘dirty talk to drive man crazy in bed’ and scanned through some of the results, pulse racing. “Jesus christ,” he muttered. There were some lines that he wouldn’t be able to say with a straight face.

 

“Ready?” Steve walked up beside him, wiping his hands on his jeans.

 

“Yeah. Ready.” He tossed his phone on the couch behind them and waved his hand at the screen to register it. “Okay. Pick a song.”

 

Steve scanned through the soundtrack, occasionally humming and finally settled on a song. “There. Sexy and I know it.” He smirked, hitting ‘play’.

 

Half a dozen songs later, when they were both out of breath, Bucky put a light movie on Netflix and sank into the couch with him, resting his head on Steve’s shoulder. “Fucking hell,” he panted. “I’m out of shape.”

 

“Well, if we make it til date six, we’ll have a whole new cardio workout,” Steve teased.

 

“...about that,” Bucky said quietly. “...I’m not.. I mean, I’ve only had sex a few times. I don’t want you to be.. disappointed. “

 

Steve turned and kissed his temple. “It’ll be fine. We’ll figure out what makes each other feel good, and we’ll go from there, okay? You’re not gonna like the same stuff Tony did. And experience isn’t everything.” He put his arm around Bucky and pulled him closer, cuddling into him.

 

Steve really was warm. It’d been so long since Bucky was that comfortable. His mind wasn’t screaming at him to move; to run. He was happy. He closed his eyes for a moment and breathed in the scent of Steve’s skin, and when he opened them again, he was looking at sand.

 

“Wh—“ Bucky jerked his head around. He could hear gunshots in the distance, and frantically, he reached down to grab his gun, but his arm wasn’t there. “No.. no no no,” he whispered, looking at the mangled remains of flesh below his elbow. “Fuck..” There was an explosion, and more screaming, but the sound was distorted, like he was under water.

 

The explosion was getting louder, and he forced himself behind a parked car, trying to cover his ears but he couldn’t. His heart was pounding.

 

Bucky .”

 

He looked around for the source of the voice, but he was alone. There was someone else screaming in pain and fear but they were far away.

 

“Sargeant!”

 

His head snapped over towards the scream, then gunshots silenced it. Bucky clenched his eyes shut, tears rolling down his cheeks.

 

Bucky.” There was the first voice again. “It’s okay. I’ve got you. C’mon. Wake up. Wake u—

 

He jerked awake, heart feeling like it was going to beat out of his chest. His arm tried to go for his gun, but he couldn’t move. Steve was holding him tightly, keeping him from falling off the couch. Bucky looked around frantically, his breath choking out in panicked little gasps.

 

“Bucky,” Steve said softly. “You were having a nightmare. It’s okay. You’re here. You’re safe. You’re home.”

 

It was almost a minute before his mind stopped racing enough for him to realize where he was and who was holding him. His hand clenched in Steve’s shirt. “..Steve?” He asked weakly.

 

Steve ran his fingers through Bucky’s hair, still holding him firmly. “I’m right here.”

 

He rested his head against Steve’s chest, afraid to close his eyes again. It hadn’t even been a particularly bad nightmare, on the grand scheme of things, but it felt worse because Steve had been there to witness it. “I’m sorry.”

 

“For?”

 

“I didn’t mean to fall asleep, or.. have you see that. Fuck, I’m sorry.”

 

Steve squeezed him. “Hey. I’ve had longer to recover than you have, and I didn’t go through the hell you did. It’s.. not how a second date goes with normal people, I guess, but the guy I see behind the anxiety and the nightmares? I like him. I want to get to know him more. Besides,” he added, clearing his throat. “I maaaay have punched Tony in the face when I was having a nightmare once. So me being on the comfort end of one is well deserved, even if you scared the hell out of me.”

 

He managed a weak laugh. “Thanks. Sorry again.”

 

“Do you want me to go so you can get some sleep?”

 

Bucky’s eyes closed, and he held onto Steve’s shirt a little tighter. “...stay? If.. if it’s no trouble.”

 

“I have nowhere else I gotta be.” He brushed Bucky’s hair out of his face. “Besides, I.. sorta hate sleeping alone. I got used to cuddling with someone.”

 

“You sure?”

 

“I’m sure,” Steve promised. “You don’t even have to take your shirt off. This is just a comfort thing. For both of us. Totally platonic.”

 

“Anyone ever tell you that you’re ridiculously nice?” Bucky asked, sitting up. He was still shaken from the nightmare, but he seemed to be calming down. His heart didn’t feel like it was going to explode anymore.

 

“Once or twice,” Steve replied with a little smile. “It’s a little selfish. My mind gets away from me when I’m in a dark room tryin’ to sleep on my own. I’ll sleep over, and in the morning, I’ll make breakfast.”

 

He raised an eyebrow. “I thought you were a shitty cook.”

 

“Do you have instant oatmeal?”

 

“I don’t.”

 

“...okay so I’ll run down to that deli I saw and buy bagels. That counts, right?”

 

“Close enough.”

 

Steve helped him up and followed Bucky to his bedroom, taking off his pants and shoes. “You want me to leave my shirt on?”

 

Bucky swallowed. “Your call, Cap.’

 

He was torn. The logical part of his mind told him that the more clothes, the better. However, other organs were reminding him how long it’d been since he’d even jerked off, let alone have sex. He wasn’t ready for sex. As much as he wanted to throw himself into it and try to get back to normal - God, he’d used to be normal ! - he knew that sex would end badly. Probably in a panic attack. Speaking of —

 

Bucky opened one of the pill bottles and swallowed one dry before stripping out of his pants. When he looked up, Steve had taken off his shirt, and Bucky could see that he wasn’t the only one with scars. “Those all from .. y’know, overseas?” He asked, practically hearing the blood rush from his brain.

 

Steve wasn’t nearly as scarred up as he was, but he hadn’t escaped unscathed. It was reassuring, in a fucked up way.

 

“Yeah. I don’t mind. I made it home. I can handle a few scars.” He climbed into the bed and patted the spot next to him. “You mind if I have music on? Helps me sleep.”

 

Bucky crawled in next to him, resting against Steve’s chest. “Fine by me.” He tried not to feel like an idiot for keeping his shirt on. Steve understood why. He sighed, hearing the music coming from Steve’s phone on the bedside table. It did help a little - gave his brain something to focus on. (Something other than the man holding him, anyway.)

 

“G’night, Buck. “

 

“Night, Steve.” His eyes were already drooping shut, and despite his worries, there were no more nightmares that night - for either of them. It was the best sleep he’d had in a very, very long time. He hoped that it could continue this way.


Being happy might be sort of.. nice

Chapter Text

“Can I get James in Grocery to the front for customer assistance, please?”

 

Bucky sighed. Two minutes left on his shift and they were calling him up to the front. Probably some lady who needed help getting something off a tall shelf. It figured. He pushed his cart to the side and walked to the front of the store, ready to plaster a fake smile on his face. Of course, when he saw the reason he’d been summoned, he didn’t have to fake it.

 

“Steve?”

 

“Hey. I was in the neighborhood. Figured I’d take you out for dinner.”

 

“You weren’t in the neighborhood,” Bucky told him with a knowing grin.

 

Steve’s cheeks turned pink. “I wasn’t in the neighborhood, but I missed my boyfriend and it’s our anniversary and I didn’t want to wait to see him,” he muttered. Two of the cashiers let out audible ‘aw’s.

 

He squeezed Steve’s hand. “I’m gonna clock out, and I’ll be right back.”

 

A month had gone by in the blink of an eye. They’d spent as much time together as they could. It wasn’t always possible, but god, he was happy . It still scared the hell out of him the more he got attached to Steve, but he desperately wanted to believe that this was it; that the terrible twist he was dreading didn’t exist. The more time he spent with Steve, the more he felt like himself. He was still anxious, but he was more confident in himself, and more willing to speak up. Hell, he was funny again. He and Steve made each other laugh, and it warmed him from the inside out.

 

Sam had given him a folded up note when they saw each other at group therapy the week before with specific instructions to open it only when he was home. Bucky had opened it on the train ride home and wished he could burn it. In thick black letters was ‘You’re welcome.’  He was, as Bucky predicted, painfully smug.

 

When he got back, he realized Steve had run and purchased a single red rose in the time it took Bucky to clock out and change out of his uniform. “Steve.. you didn’t have to.”

 

Steve kissed the top of his head. “Happy anniversary, Jamie.”

 

There were more squeals from the cashiers. He shot them a look.

 

“Do people usually celebrate the one month anniversary?”

 

“I don’t give a single sugary fuck.” He shrugged. “I’m happy. I want to celebrate.  Plus, you haven’t had an anxiety attack in like, two weeks. That’s another reason to celebrate.” Steve grabbed Bucky’s hand and left the store with him. “I thought maybe we could order in, watch a movie, maybe.. fool around a little.”

 

By the time their sixth date rolled around, Bucky still hadn’t felt comfortable, but Steve had taken it in stride. “I have no interest in having sex with someone who isn’t completely into it,” he’d promised Bucky, who had been determined to get over that fear by their anniversary.

 

He’d bought lube and condoms (which had been horrifying) and read articles on dirty talk and ‘flirty and fresh things to do with your man’ but he was still nervous. “...I bought lube from a woman that looked like my grandma. We’re having sex tonight.”

 

Steve almost tripped on a crack in the sidewalk. “Wh— really?”

 

“Really.”

 

“...you want to just skip dinner tonight, then?”

 

Bucky laughed and shook his head, putting his hand back in Steve’s. “If I hadn’t had to work through my break, I might say yes, but.. I’m starved, and I still need to psych myself up. I’m ..nervous. It’s been a long time, and I’ve never done the dirty talk thing, so..”

 

“Wait.” Steve blinked at him, following Bucky inside his house. “Dirty talk?”

 

“...Tony said you liked it. When I talked to him on the phone. So I’ve been researching.”

 

“Have you?”

 

“I’ve read so much gay erotica. You have no idea.” Bucky sighed, setting his bag down and grabbing the stack of take out menus he and Rebecca kept. “It was a sacrifice I was willing to make for my boyfriend.”

 

Steve kissed him hard, pushing him against the wall. “And your boyfriend appreciates it and adores you for it.” He pressed their hips together, groaning against Bucky’s mouth. Bucky felt a little dizzy, but pressed his body back hungrily.

 

Shit. I bet he’s expecting me to take my shirt off .

 

He tried not to think too hard on it, but broke the kiss. “Stomach wins over dick for now, Rogers.”

 

“Right. Sorry. Got ahead of myself.” Steve cleared his throat. “Food first. Just.. thought of you talking dirty and my brain stopped working.”

 

“You’re a lady in the street and a freak in the bed, aren’t you, Cap?” He grinned, enjoying this more than he should. This felt normal. Like they were a normal couple just.. enjoying being with each other. There was a level of trust between them - Steve had seen him broken and terrified and he’d stayed. Steve had seen something in him that was worth sticking around for.

 

He was still ordering Chinese food when Steve smirked and knelt down in front of him, undoing Bucky’s jeans and sliding them down. Bucky was in shock, and the woman on the phone had to ask him three times if he wanted egg rolls.

 

“Uh, y-yeah. Sure. Egg rolls,” he said, staring at Steve, who was looking up at him with pure lust. “St—“ His boxer briefs were yanked down without ceremony, and before he could protest, Steve had his lips wrapped around the head of Bucky’s cock, groaning.

 

Bucky’s knees went weak and he gasped sharply, hand clenching in Steve’s blonde hair. “No, I’m fine,” he managed. “Just… stubbed my toe on the table. Yeah. Uh.. a-add the chow mein and the beef satay and that’s—“  He had to move the phone away for a second so he didn’t whimper into the mouthpiece. “That’ll be fine. Cash. Yes. Okay. Thank you so much.” He ended the call frantically and choked out a moan.

 

“Mmm?” Steve murmured sweetly, batting his lashes and sucking more of the other man’s cock into his mouth.

 

Bucky was pretty sure he’d never seen anything sexier in his life. “Not f-fucking fair!”

 

Steve’s hand drifted up under Bucky’s shirt, and as much as he was teasing, he was still watching Bucky’s face for any indication that he should stop. “Mm,” he agreed, very grateful that his ex had a very high sex drive. Steve had gotten damn good at giving head. He relaxed his throat and watched Bucky’s face as the last few inches disappeared.

 

“..ohmyfuckinggodsteve..” Bucky gasped, his toes curling in his socks. “Mn, c’mon, I don’t.. mn.. not yet..”

 

He pulled back with a vulgar slurping noise. “You want me to stop?”

 

“Well, not now ..  holy god.. “

 

Steve chuckled, wrapping his fingers around the base of Bucky’s cock and giving it a few strokes. He lowered his head, sucking slowly and flicking his tongue into the slit. He’d be lying if he said he hadn’t thought about this fairly often. Hell, if they’d talked about it before, he probably would have woken Bucky up like this once or twice.

 

“Fuck!” He gasped, hips jerking into Steve’s mouth. “Oh. Fuck. Steve..” Bucky wasn’t going to last long, and he hated himself for it, but rationally, it had been a long time, and he’d been thinking about it for a while. When he felt Steve’s hand drifting a little close to where his scars were, Bucky pushed it away but said nothing. He didn’t want to ruin the moment.

 

Steve mumbled something akin to an apology but didn’t stop sucking. He could tell from the noises that were coming out of Bucky’s mouth that he was close. Getting to see his boyfriend utterly fall apart (in a good way) was so worth the wait.

 

Moaning loudly, Bucky let his head fall back against the wall and the hand in Steve’s hair tighten as he came. A shudder ran through his entire body, and he whined, barely holding himself up.

 

Just another normal couple thing. Gettin’ blowjobs in the living room , he thought. Rebecca had made plans to be elsewhere for the evening as soon as she’d seen her brother’s special purchases, so they had the place to themselves.

 

Steve tucked Bucky’s cock back in his underwear, looking pleased with himself at the state he’d reduced his boyfriend to. Bucky looked utterly dazed, and even took a second to respond when Steve kissed him. “You okay?”

 

“That poor woman at the restaurant probably thought I was insane.”

 

“Shoulda told her the truth,” he grinned. “ ‘Sorry, but my boyfriend thinks I’m sexy, and couldn’t wait another second to get my dick in his mouth. Oh and could you put in extra plum sauce?’ “

 

Bucky snorted, pulling his pants back up and leaning into him, arms going around Steve’s shoulders. “Do.. uh, do you want me to..”

 

“Mm-mm. I’m fine. I just.. you look so good, and picturing you doing all that for me.. you’re the best, Bucky Bear.” He nuzzled Bucky’s hair. “I’ll be patient until after dinner.” Steve lowered his head to whisper in Bucky’s ear, his voice low and raspy. “Then I’m going to fuck that perfect ass until you run out of words to beg me for more.” He kissed him on the cheek and pulled away, humming and leaving his boyfriend an absolute mess behind him.

 

Bucky stared at him, utterly helpless and at a loss for words already. He’d never heard Steve’s voice do that little growly thing before, and it made him dizzy with need. “What the fuck was that ?!”

 

“Hm?” Steve smiled innocently at him.

 

“That thing you did with your voice what the fuck , Steven.”

 

He shrugged. “I have a very effective sex voice. It’s a skill.” He flopped onto the couch, still looking pleased with himself. “It’s nice to know that I’ve still got it. Just like riding a bicycle.”

 

Bucky shook his head and grabbed the rose he’d been given from his bag, placing it in water. “Are you gonna stay the night?”

 

“Are you gonna invite me to?”

 

He bit back a smirk. “That depends how good you are in bed. If it’s kind of short and sad and pathetic, it’ll be best that you walk of shame yourself back home after.”

 

“Naturally.” Steve laughed, turning on the television. “How long do we have for the food?”

 

“They said twenty minutes, so another ten?” Bucky shrugged, sitting next to him on the couch. It scared him how … comfortable he was with Steve. How much he looked forward to spending time with him, and how easy it was. They just sort of .. fit . Sam had referred to them as an old married couple - “Y’know, the kind that just knows how the other takes their coffee, and they can sit there in silence and be cool, ‘cause they’ve been together so long, they just sorta know . That’s you guys after a month. Not to sound insensitive, but is that a gay thing?”— and Bucky believed it. It was anxiety inducing.

 

What if they broke up suddenly, or Steve went back to Tony? Bucky would lose his new best friend and his boyfriend in one fell swoop. They talked every damn day, even if they weren’t going to see each other that day. Lately, he’d look at his phone and smile, and everyone knew it was Steve. Having that sort of connection with someone… what the hell was he supposed to do if he lost that?

 

Bucky realized that they’d been doing just what Sam had been talking about - they were just cuddling on the couch, not talking. He hadn’t realized that Steve put a movie on, he’d been so lost in his own head. Steve was just toying with Bucky’s hair as he watched, something Bucky never knew could be so relaxing.

 

“You drifted,” Steve commented lightly. “I thought I’d just let you come back when you were ready.”

 

“Do you get worried that things feel so.. good?” Bucky asked him, already feeling his foot start to jiggle like it did when he was anxious.

 

“Nn. Not really. I’m enjoying it, but I spent a year and a half with someone who wasn’t easy to be with. He couldn’t love me the way I needed him to. So, now I have someone who gets me, someone I like being around, who’s funny and sweet, and who doesn’t mind being seen as my boyfriend in public.” He twirled a strand of Bucky’s hair around his finger. “I feel like I hit the fucking lottery, frankly. And.. I’m letting things move at their own pace. Whatever happens, happens. I don’t see us getting married next week, but..” Steve shrugged. “I’m happy. You make me happy.”

 

Steve seemed so confident, and it made Bucky feel worse. “I guess I’m not used to trusting someone so fast. It makes me nervous.”

 

“Don’t be. I’m not going anywhere. If we have to keep moving slow, I’m willing to wait. And.. I know I haven’t told you, but I’m so fucking proud of you. As your boyfriend and your friend.”

 

He blinked, finally turning his head to look over. “For what?”

 

“Are you serious? You’ve been making so much progress. I’m sure everyone else has noticed too.” Steve put an arm around his shoulders and squeezed. “I know it’s still hard, but.. you’re doing really well.”

 

Bucky relaxed back into his arms and closed his eyes with a smile. “I should stop listening to that voice in my head that tells me to worry about everything. I—“ he heard the doorbell and stood up, answering it. “Hey. Thanks so much.” He smiled, handing the delivery guy the cash. “Look, your boyfriend has provided sustenance!”

 

“My hero.” Steve dragged himself off the couch. “What were you gonna say?”

 

“...oh. I.. just that.. you make me happy too.” He cleared his throat, putting the food on the table and busying himself getting plates. Steve moved behind him and hugged him tightly, nuzzling into his hair.

 

“I’m glad.”

 

“Our food’s gonna get cold.” He leaned back into Steve and closed his eyes. Steve was safe. Stable. Steve felt like home.

 

Steve felt like home.

 

Bucky swallowed back a fresh wave of panic and wrote it off as sentimentality, pulling away to get the plates.

 

Steve felt like home.

 

Fuck .

 

“You wanna set the table? I’ll be right back.” Bucky kissed him on the cheek and went into the bathroom, locking the door and sitting on the edge of the tub. “Pull yourself together,” he whispered, closing his eyes. “This is a good thing. This is progress.” Shakily, he pulled his phone out and texted Sam.

 

‘Code red.’

 

Almost immediately, his phone rang. “What the fuck? Are you okay? You want me to call Steve?” Sam sounded out of breath.

 

“No. No. He’s downstairs.”

 

There was a long pause. “...what’s the code red?” He asked. Bucky could practically hear Sam frowning on the other end of the call. “Dude, I’m on my run. I looked like a damn crazy person running onto the grass to call you. What’s going on?”

 

Bucky heard his voice quaver and he hated it. “I don’t know. I.. I really like him and I’m so goddamn happy with him, but I’m scared.”

 

“Of?”

 

“...what if we fall in love and he hurts me?

Or I hurt him? What if we fall apart and just drag each other down? What if he goes back to Tony because I’m a fucking mess?”

 

Sam sighed. “What if you get hit by a car on the way to work? What if he gets a rare kind of cancer and he dies in a month?” Bucky was silent, so Sam continued. “So what if you fall in love? What if you guys are that ninety year old couple at the pride parade, one of you pushing the other’s wheelchair?”

 

“It’s too soon,” Bucky whispered.

 

“Says who?”

 

He dropped his head. “We’ve only been dating a month. It’s just too soon.”

 

“Do you love him?” Sam asked, sighing again. “Buck, you gotta try and give yourself a fighting chance to be happy. Sabotaging yourself is just gonna make you miserable.”

 

“Yeah, but wha—“

 

“What if everyone gets one person and he’s yours?” Sam interrupted. “Do you love him?”

 

He felt ill, but nodded before remembering that Sam couldn’t hear him. “...I think so.”

 

“Let him in, Bucky. I wouldn’t have set you two up if I thought for a second you’d intentionally hurt each other. I knew you’d be good for each other. Trust me, okay? I’ve always had your back. You know that. Take a few good breaths, and go back on your date.”

 

“Thanks, Sam.”

 

“Anytime. If you start to panic again, you can call me, or.. hey. Talk to your boyfriend. He’s crazy about you. And hey. Bucky.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“You deserve the same happiness as everyone else. Don’t forget that.”

 

“Yeah. Thanks, man.” He hung up and stood, looking at himself in the mirror. Hair was a bit long, his eyes looked tired, could use a bit of a shave.. but Steve saw something that he didn’t. He couldn’t help but wonder if Steve ever looked in the mirror and hated what he saw.

 

He sighed, splashing cold water on his face and taking a few deep breaths. “Okay. It’s fine. You’re fine,” he whispered to his reflection. “Even if you love him, you don’t have to say it yet. And they’re just words anyway.” Another set of deep breathing, and he left the bathroom.

 

“...you okay?” Steve asked. “You rushed off. I worried I might have said something wrong.”

 

“Just realized I forgot one of my meds,” he lied, kissing him. “Late’s better than never. I’m sorry I worried you.” Bucky sat down at the table, reaching across to take Steve’s hand. “...happy anniversary, Stevie. I hope there’s more to come.”

 

Steve raised an eyebrow, a grin slowly spreading across his face. “Oh, there’s more to come,” he said with an overdramatic wink.

 

The anxiety that had been keeping his muscles tight and coiled seemed to wash away and he started to laugh, shaking his head. “Fucking dork,” he said affectionately.

 

Something in Bucky saw it. That look in Steve’s eyes. What if they fell in love? What if they were that old couple at the pride parade, celebrating many, many years together? What if—

 

“You’re drifting again,” Steve told him, brushing Bucky’s hair out of his face.

 

“...I’ve never had an anniversary before,” Bucky said finally, squirming in his chair. “I don’t even think I’ve made it a month with someone before. I never loved any of the guys I dated.”

 

“What makes me so special?” Steve teased, popping a piece of satay beef into his mouth.

 

“Everything.” He didn’t know where the word came from, and it was more emotionally vulnerable than he’d been wanting to be, but he couldn’t help himself. Steve blinked at him, obviously surprised. He got up from his seat and kissed him, one hand going to the back of Bucky’s neck to hold him there.

 

When Steve pulled away, he had tears in his eyes. “I love you.” He leaned in for another kiss, seeing the mild panic on Bucky’s face. “You don’t have to say it back yet. But I’m gonna go crazy if I don’t tell you.”

 

“It’s .. I mean.. we’ve only had a month, I—“

 

“I don’t care. I know what I feel, Bucky. I love you. You’re amazing, and you’re so, so special to me. Maybe I’m being impulsive, but I don’t care. I.. just needed to tell you.” Steve looked more anxious than usual, but.. Bucky understood.

 

“...I can’t yet. I’m sorry. I..”

 

Steve squeezed his hand. “It’s okay. Not everyone’s an impulsive idiot like I am.”

 

“How soon did you.. y’know, know ?”

 

Steve opened a can of soda and sipped it. “I’m not sure. Not that long. Was just laying there at night and couldn’t sleep and watched you for a minute, and my heart went ‘...yep.’ “

 

“I.. I guess I don’t understand. I’m getting better, but I’m still sorta broken, and I ramble too much, and I make bad jokes, and I’m a terrible dancer.. I’ve got a damn reminder of how fucked up I am for the rest of my lif—“

 

“I love you,” Steve interrupted. “Did I stutter?” He put an egg roll in Bucky’s mouth. “And I’ll have you know, you’re insulting my boyfriend. Keep it up, I’ll have to kick your ass.”

 

Bucky smiled weakly, taking a bite of the egg roll. “Sorry. I’m just not used to this. I.. I’ve never … loved anyone in a non-family sort of way. Be patient with me?”

 

Steve lifted Bucky’s metal hand and kissed the palm of it. “Of course.”  He put a playlist on his phone while they ate, but ignored the few texts that came in. He was on a date. This was more important.

 

It wasn’t as awkward as Bucky thought it would be. They settled back into that comfortable feeling during dinner, and if either of them was nervous about their first time together, neither showed it. He put the leftovers in the fridge so he could have lunch at work the next day, and stretched. “Shall we fuck?” He asked with a little grin. Steve laughed, nodding and following him to the bedroom.

 

He grabbed the lube and condoms out of his drawer, watching as Steve undressed. “...guess I have to take my shirt off, huh?” Bucky asked awkwardly. He’d been pretty good at keeping himself mostly covered, but.. did he want to keep his shirt on the first time they had sex?

 

“It’s up to you,” Steve said, kicking off his socks and picking up the lube with a chuckle. “Cherry, huh? Appropriate.”

 

It was going to be the first time they were fully naked in front of each other, and Bucky’s heart was pounding. Nervously, he pulled his shirt off, fighting the urge to wrap his arms around himself. He still had scarring down his side from the explosion that had taken his arm, and some of the scar tissue where the arm attached at the shoulder was visible.

 

Steve’s only response was to pull him in for an embrace, and Bucky sank into him. He should have known that Steve wouldn’t think twice about some scar tissue. Steve pulled away and got into the bed, patting his lap. Pulse racing, Bucky straddled his lap, feeling like a total virgin. He wasn’t, but it’d been so damn long that he might well have been. “S-so,” he mumbled. “How do we do this?” Bucky asked him.

 

“I’m gonna get you ready, and then I’m going to fuck you slowly, over and over until you feel like you’re going to explode,” Steve purred into his ear. “Until you’re so consumed with pleasure that you forget how to speak.” His hands moved back and squeezed Bucky’s ass briefly, already flipping the top of the lube and coating two of his fingers. Bucky shuddered and rested his head on Steve’s shoulder. “Look how hard you are for me, baby.”   Steve slowly worked a finger inside him, shivering at how tight he was. “Relax. We’re gonna go slow until you’re ready.”

 

“Feels like we’re always going slow ‘til I’m ready,” Bucky grunted in discomfort, squirming. It was such a bizarre feeling, just suddenly having your body invaded like that, but Steve’s voice in his ear was driving him a little crazy, so he didn’t mind so much. He couldn’t help but remember what Tony said, and even drunk, Tony wasn’t exaggerating. Steve had a real mouth on him in bed.

 

Steve started to fuck him slowly with one finger and added another shortly after, scissoring them inside to stretch Bucky out. “We are, but that’s because I want to make sure you’re a willing participant instead of doing things to make me happy.”

 

Bucky started to roll his hips, pushing back into Steve’s fingers. It was still uncomfortable as hell, but he wanted so, so much more. Part of it was the anticipation making his body burn all over, and part of it was just wanting to get the worst over with. It was going to hurt a little no matter how careful Steve was - he wasn’t exactly small. “God… “ He groaned, spreading his legs and putting his arms around Steve’s shoulders. “Fuck me. I’ll be okay. Please.”

 

“Not yet,” Steve chided. “But I like your enthusiasm.”

 

It was possible that there were other positions that they could have used to start off with, but Steve wanted Bucky to be able to control as much as he could. He didn’t want Bucky to be stuck beneath him, anxious and worrying. If Bucky needed to stop, he could, and wouldn’t need to vocalize it. He tore the condom open with his teeth and pulled his fingers out, shuddering at the little moan that Bucky made when he did.

 

“Easy. I’ll just be a second. We’ll use condoms for now - better safe than sorry - and get tested soon.”

 

“ ‘Better safe than sorry’ isn’t really sexy talk, Rogers.” Bucky shuddered, hyper aware of how painfully hard he was.He sucked on the side of Steve’s neck, dragging his teeth across the wet flesh. “Fuck me..” Now was the time to show off what he’d learned. It was more difficult than he thought it would be - how the hell did people do it when they were so turned on that they could barely think? “I want to feel you inside me, Steve..  I want you to cum inside me.. I want every inch of your cock inside me over and over… so that everyone at work tomorrow knows how good you fucked me.”

 

Judging by the way Steve’s eyes glazed over a little, Bucky had done a decent job. He shuddered and kissed Bucky hard, rolling the condom on. It was awkward to do it without seeing, but he managed. “You’re so fucking sexy. You don’t even know… “ He lubed himself up and started to press himself inside Bucky. “If it hurts too much, say something, and we’ll take a break.”

 

Almost immediately, Bucky lost some of his nerve. It hurt far more than he remembered from before, and he gasped sharply, forcing himself to stay relaxed. Steve added more lube to his erection to make it easier.

 

“Breathe, baby. Just breathe. You want me to take a break?” he asked.

 

Bucky shook his head and shivered, pushing his hips back to try and take a little more in. He was nothing if not a stubborn bastard. It hurt, but he didn’t want to give up. “”I want you to fuck me, Steven .” He had to admit, once the head was in, it was a little easier. That initial stretch just about took his breath away, but now he was starting to adjust.

 

Steve chuckled, shaking his head in amusement, but did as he was told, fucking him slowly and encouraging Bucky to move his hips more. They started to get into a rhythm, and after a couple minutes, Bucky didn’t need to be encouraged to move his hips. He moaned, panting softly.

 

“Oh.. Oh f-fuck. Steve. Steve… “ He forced himself down to meet Steve’s thrusts, whining and resuming the little bite marks he’d been leaving on Steve’s neck. This part was better than he remembered. There was something so much more intense about having someone who cared about you and knew you as opposed to just.. Getting off. Maybe that didn’t matter for some people, but he was very glad they’d waited until there was some emotional connection.  “Don’t stop. Don’t stop oh my god. “ He really was feeling every single inch. “Oh my god. Steve.” His back arched and he groaned, low and hungry. Steve was dragging noises out of him that he didn’t know he could make.

 

“You gonna cum for me?” Steve asked, breathless and beyond aroused. Getting to see Bucky fall apart like this was beyond his wildest dreams. “Cum for me, Jamie. Let me hear you.”

 

Bucky gasped sharply, dragging his nails down Steve’s back. The pleasure was making it hard to think, let alone speak. He was fucking himself with a near desperate need, trying to get himself closer and closer to orgasm. “St—“ He cut himself off with a loud cry, tossing his head back. “Fuck. Fuck. Oh fuck!” When he came, he swore he saw stars, a shudder running through his body.

 

It was a sight to behold. Steve buried himself to the hilt just before Bucky came, groaning and clinging to him. All his energy drained out with his orgasm, and he sank against the headboard, panting and shuddering. “Love you,” he moaned, kissing him over and over. “God, Bucky.” Bucky half collapsed into him, trying to catch his breath.

 

He was going to be sore the next day but he didn’t care. He hadn’t been this relaxed in a long time. There was a sense of calm that had settled over him, and while he was sure it wouldn’t last, he was savouring it. Bucky nuzzled Steve’s cheek, still breathing hard.

 

“Mnn.. hey, Bucky. Can ask you something?” Steve asked, receiving a weak moan in return. “Did, uh.. it hurt..” he trailed off, trying to choose his words carefully.

 

Bucky opened one eye. “If you ask me if it hurt when I fell from heaven, your ass can sleep on the couch.”

 

Steve shook his head, laughing. “No. I.. does bottoming hurt? I .. always wanted to try it, but Tony wasn’t interested in being on top for me.”

 

“It hurts like a bastard, but then it’s great.” He gingerly pulled himself off Steve’s softening cock, shivering. “I’ll get something to clean up with.”

 

“Hey, one more question.” Steve grinned widely. “ Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” He got a towel thrown at his face for his question, but he could hear Bucky laughing from the bathroom, so he knew he wasn’t in too much trouble. He tossed the condom in the trash bin and cleaned himself up, moving the sheets out of the way. Bucky crawled right into his arms, barely remembering to set his alarm. Steve had class the next day, and Bucky had to have a diagnostic run on his arm, then go to work. As much as he wanted to stay in bed all day, it wasn’t gonna happen.

 

“Hey, Bucky bear?”

 

He opened one eye. “Yeah?”

 

“Happy anniversary.”

 

Bucky smiled and snuggled closer into his arms. “Happy anniversary, Stevie.”




Chapter Text

Bucky picked up one of the tablets from the table in front of him. He very distinctly remembered being in waiting rooms and having to find interest in a five year old copy of Reader’s Digest. He supposed that Stark Industries could buy and sell Readers Digest a few times over - were they even still putting out issues? Probably in Canada - and that it wouldn’t make sense for Stark to bother with paper. He idly scanned through the apps pre-installed on the tablet until the receptionist approached him.

 

“Sargeant Barnes?”

 

He looked up and flashed her a smile. “Just ‘Mister’ is fine. Really.” He stood up and followed her into the office. Everything was so sleek and new looking, it all looked expensive beyond what he could afford. As confident as he was with Steve, he still felt like he couldn’t measure up to Tony Stark. What had Steve said before? That Tony couldn’t ‘love him the way he needed’? Shit.

 

Bucky took a seat in the office chair but after a few minutes, he got up and looked around. No family photographs. Just fancy aerial scenery shots.

 

“You like those? Took them in my flight suit.”

 

He nearly jumped out of his skin, and turned around. If there was any question whether there was a God, and if he was playing a big fucking joke, it was answered as he stared at his boyfriend’s ex. Tony Stark.

 

Tony Fucking Stark.

 

“...I didn’t think you did the diagnostic checks. I usually see, uh.. old guy.”

 

“Stane. Yeah. He’s no longer with us, and since you have one of our older models, I wanted to see first hand how the tech holds up. How’s it working for you, Mr. Barnes?”

 

Bucky raised an eyebrow. “...it’s Mr. Barnes now?”

 

“...you asked my receptionist not to call you Sargeant,” Tony said, blinking. He waved his hand and a screen appeared next to him.

 

“Not calling me Bucky anymore?”

 

Tony stared at him for a few moments, obviously trying to figure out what was going on. “I feel like there was something that went on that I don’t remember. Did we hook up at some point and I never called you back?”

 

“You.. don’t remember calling Steve and threatening me?”

 

“Ste—“ Recognition crossed his face and he brightened. “Oh! Right! Steve told me I drunk called him and talked a bunch of shit to his new boyfriend.” Tony looked him up and down. “Hm.”

 

“What?”

 

“Oh. Nothing. Just.. different. He ever mention anything about a three way?”

 

“...no?”

 

“Shame. You’re cute.”

 

“.... thank you?”

 

Bucky felt like he was stoned. Was this what Steve had put up with for a year and a half? How had he not gone insane?  He noticed Tony watching him, but when he looked up, Tony cleared his throat and motioned for the prosthetic. Bucky raised his arm obediently, letting him do his scans.

 

“Is he happy?” Tony asked, flipping a panel on the inner arm and peering into it.

 

“Steve? Uh.. yeah. Yeah, he is. We are.” He was torn between trying to think about anything else - literally anything else - and looking at the inner workings of his shiny arm.

 

Tony looked up at the screen next to him and moved the scanner up, muttering adjustments and notes that were then added to his screen. “He’s an amazing guy. Tells the worst fucking jokes I’ve ever heard..” The annoyance on Tony’s face made Bucky snort and nod in agreement. “But fuck, he was good in bed. Have you guys..”

 

Bucky felt his cheeks burning. “That’s none of your business.”

 

“Talks like a porn star, doesn’t he?”

 

The blush got even worse. Bucky averted his eyes.

 

“In the end, I couldn’t be what he needed. It’s on me. I’m lucky he doesn’t hate me.” He flipped the panel back and took Bucky’s hand, bending the fingers. “Anything hurt?”

 

“No.”

 

“Not feeling any real resistance or.. lag when you try and do something?”

 

“No.”

 

“The weight’s okay?”

 

“You get used to it.”

 

Tony quirked a brow. “Let your arm go limp for a second.” He lifted the prosthetic and made a ‘hm’ noise. “I mean, if you want one of the newer models, I could swap this out. Could toss a flesh sleeve on this one, too. Make it look a little more realistic.” He hefted the weight of the arm in his hands, humming.

 

He’d actually gotten used to the arm for the most part. Trading it in for a newer model felt a little like… betrayal? It was silly, but if it wasn’t for the prosthetic, he would have been fucked. It let him live a mostly normal life. “I’ll think about it,” Bucky said finally.

 

“You decide you want to, ask Steve for my number. I’ll reply sooner than if you call the office.” Tony made a few more notes. “Everything’s working smoothly, according to the readings. Maybe another six months, unless you notice a change.”

 

Bucky nodded and stood up. Tony leaned back in his chair and cleared his throat.

 

“...take care of him, Barnes. Don’t fuck it up like I did.”

 

Now he had to ask. The question had been lingering on his mind since Tony had brought Steve up. “Did.. he tell you he loved you early?”

 

“Yeah.” Tony laughed. “I just about had a nervous breakdown, but.. Steve’s got the heart of a golden retriever. He just.. loves .” There was a bittersweet note to Tony’s voice, and it stung Bucky; made him feel guilty.

 

“If you.. ever want to grab a beer or something, hang out..just let me know. I’m off at six most days. “

 

He blinked back at Bucky, surprised. “You know you’re dating my ex, right?”

 

Bucky sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “You and Steve are friends. You’re still in his life. I want to make sure that if Steve and I are gonna go further, there’s no bad blood or awkwardness between us. We might never be best friends, but at least we can be okay around each other.”

 

“Do you love him?”

 

Why was everyone asking him that? Bucky frowned, not as willing to admit it and bare his soul in front of Tony as he was with Sam. “...he makes me feel like I’m home,” he said after a moment. “Beyond that, I’m still.. figuring it out.”

 

“Aw, Buuucky ,” Tony cooed, ruffling his hair. He stopped and leaned in. “Jesus, I’d kill for that jawline.”

 

Bucky batted his hand away, shaking his head and trying to smooth his hair. “Thanks. I think.” He grabbed the doorknob and cleared his throat. “Offer still stands. If you want to hang out.”

 

“I’ll keep that in mind, Barnes. Thanks.”

 

He felt like an idiot by the time he got to the elevator, but at least he’d extended an olive branch.  Bucky looked down to see he’d missed a text from Steve.

 

‘Hope it went well :) Sorry I was gone when you woke up. Dinner tonight?’

 

He smiled faintly and almost didn’t notice that the elevator had stopped. He exited and walked out of the building, putting his headphones in. There was a lot to think about. Steve was going to wait for him, and he was going to be patient, but for how long? And really, how long did he need? They were just words. It wasn’t like they were going to get married that weekend. Steve was his boyfriend. There was nothing wrong with loving him. In fact, it was encouraged.

 

Can you call me?’ He texted back.  His phone rang as he was leaving the subway.

 

“Hey, Bucky bear. Everything okay?”

 

He had to love Steve to let him get away with that nickname.

 

“Yeah. I was just thinking. The school’s closer to my place than yours, right?”

 

“A little, why?”

 

Bucky swallowed back his anxiety. “...you should move in with me.”

 

“....what?”

 

“You’re always over anyway, and this way, you don’t have to bring a suitcase with you when you’re gonna sleep over.” There was a nervous tremor in his voice but he steeled himself. “And I like waking up with you. And going to sleep with you. I.. want us to live together.”

 

There was silence on the other end of the line. Bucky could hear the smile in Steve’s voice when he spoke again. “Do I get my own key?”

 

“I’ll even get you a fancy one with a Disney princess on it,” Bucky promised.

 

“I’m in. I’ll be over tonight and we can talk things over, okay? I’ll meet you at work.”

 

Bucky felt warm all over, and he cleared his throat. “S-see you then.”

 

He texted his sister, feeling giddy.

 

‘Hey, uh, forgot to ask you before I did it, but.. Steve’s gonna move in.’

 

‘That was quick. You’re really in deep with this guy, huh?

 

‘I’m scared shitless, Becca.’

 

‘He’s already seen your particular brand of crazy, Jamie, and he’s still here.’

 

‘He told me he loved me last night.’

 

‘And what did you say?’

 

‘I panicked .’

 

‘Way to go. You know, Mom and Dad are gonna want to meet him.

 

‘...fuck.’

 

‘Have fun with that, big brother. xoxo’

 

He put his phone back in his pocket and sighed. The call with his mom could happen on his break, and hopefully he wouldn’t need to go into the gory details. Steve would be a gentleman in front of Bucky’s parents, but he worried. This would be the first time he’d brought a boy home.

 

What did he think he was doing, protecting himself from one vulnerability and leaving himself wide open in another? He was thinking of inviting Steve to meet his parents, and sharing his home with him, but couldn’t tell him he loved him. Was it admitting how he felt that would make it real? Becca brought boys home to their parents all the time growing up, and it wasn’t like any of them asked for George and Winifred Barnes’ blessing. After a month, six at the most, Rebecca was onto a new boy.

 

Normally, when Bucky had to call someone, the sound of the voicemail click on was a rush of relief and joy like nothing else. This time, he was happy to hear his mother’s voice.

 

Bucky sat on one of the abandoned picnic tables that his bosses had put behind the store to corral the smokers away from the entrance. Luckily, no smokers were on break, so he had a bit of privacy.

 

“Jamie! I was just thinking about you, sweetheart. Are you coming to Thanksgiving dinner? Your grandma’s flying in, and I know she’s dying to see you.”

 

Shit .

 

“When, uh.. when is it?”

 

“Three weeks. Don’t they have signs up at your store? Oh, and speaking of, can you and your sister bring desserts? A few different ones. You know how your father gets around the holidays.” She laughed. “And if you or your sister want to bring a friend.. I already messaged Sam on the Facebook.”

 

Bucky swallowed. “...I might bring my boyfriend if he’s free.”

 

His mother went silent and let out a near shriek of joy. “What?! Jamie! My sweet boy! Finally!”

 

“...honey, you’re scaring the dog,” her husband said from behind her.

 

“James has a boyfriend and he’s bringing him to Thanksgiving!” Winifred told him, and he sighed.

 

“Finally. I was starting to worry that he was just ashamed of us.” George kissed his wife on the cheek. “Looking forward to seeing him, kid!” He called into the phone.

 

She sipped her coffee. “Is this the boy I asked Rebecca about? The artist? I’m so happy for you! Is he cute? What’s his name?”

 

Bucky’s cheeks were burning. “His name’s Steve. He’s… really good to me. Good for me. I’m happy.”

 

“My baby finally found himself a good man. Well, no sense in waiting for Thanksgiving. Are you working this weekend?”

 

He sputtered. “ Mom .”

 

“Jamie, I have waited twenty eight years for you to bring a boyfriend home.”

 

“You were waiting for your infant son to bring a boyfriend home?” Bucky asked dryly.

 

She snorted. “You know what I mean. And I haven’t seen you happy since you got back. I was worried I’d never get to see you happy again. “ His mother’s voice softened a little. Your father and I were worried we were going to lose you.”

 

It hurt more than he wanted to admit. He thought he’d done better than he had at hiding things, but he supposed his sister mentioned things to them too.

 

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you worry.”

 

Sniffling, she still managed a little laugh. “But you sound so much better. So let’s look at the positives. You let me know if you’re working, and we’ll go out for dinner. Somewhere ni— he’s not a vegan, is he?”

 

“No, mom.”

 

“Thank god . I mean, do whatever makes you happy, but I’m not sure what the hell I would cook without dairy. Text me tonight and we’ll take you out to dinner this weekend. I want to meet the man who made my little boy happy again.”

 

Bucky smiled and leaned back, looking at the clouds moving in the sky. “I will. I love you, Mom.”

 

“I love you too, sweetheart.”  

 

He hung up, wishing it was that easy to tell Steve that. There was still the worry of getting too close; of getting hurt. He hoped that them taking the next step would be a good way to give him some time. If he couldn’t say the L word for a little while, at least he’d invited Steve to live with him; to meet his parents.

 

‘My parents want to take us to dinner this weekend. You free? Also, mom wants you to come to Thanksgiving dinner.

 

Bucky hit send and put his phone back in his pocket. Break time. He’d be seeing Steve that afternoon anyway.

 

It was amazing how much better work was when he had Steve to look forward to. Yes, customers could be a pain in the ass, and sometimes, his co-workers drove him crazy - Especially now, one of the women on the front end had started leaving him religious brochures in his locker telling him to find Jesus. He’d approached her in the break room, setting the papers in front of her. “You seem to have forgotten these in my locker.”

 

“I just think th-“

 

“Look. I’ve been going to church since I was born. No one in my parents’ church, including the priest had a thing to say about me being gay. I have a great boyfriend who treats me like I’m the best damn thing he’s got. If that’s not in God’s plan, then these ,” he gestured to the stack of paper in front of them, “don’t mean anything.”

 

“Oooh, burn,” one of the younger cashiers said, tossing a few snaps in for good measure. “Plus, his boyfriend’s way hotter than yours, Shannon.”

 

He’d been brought into the manager’s office, but once the situation was explained, Bucky had gotten an apology and the matter disappeared.

 

There were benefits to being a gay amputee veteran.

 

All the bullshit seemed to disappear when he saw Steve waiting by the entrance, and the way his whole mood visibly brightened at the sight of him. It was becoming a habit, and god, it gave him something to look forward to. “Hey.”

 

Steve kissed the top of his head. “Hey. So, Thanksgiving, huh?”

 

“Seems so. Sam might come too. Mom invited him already.” Bucky paused. “Did you talk to Tony today?”

 

He blinked. “Yeah. He said something about you guys going out for beers or something. Did I miss a development?”

 

Bucky pulled his jacket on and took Steve’s hand, walking out into the crisp fall air. “We just talked for a while when I went to get the diagnostics on my arm. He seemed … really lonely. Wasn’t expecting him to take me up on the offer, but..  if he’s your friend, I don’t want there to be bad blood. “

 

“You’re a good man, Bucky Barnes.”

 

“I’m selfishly trying to win brownie points with my boyfriend. Did it work?”

 

“Oh, are you kidding me? With everything that happened, you could kill a guy right here and you still have enough brownie points that I’d forgive you.”

 

“Or I could be elected President.”

 

Steve snorted. “Or that.”

 

Bucky squeezed his hand. “You up to meeting my parents this weekend?”

 

“I don’t see why not. Anything I should not say or not do?”

 

He shook his head. “Nope. They’re just excited to meet you.” Bucky sent a text to his mom to let her know they were on for the weekend and she texted him back excitedly.

 

“So, uh.. moving in together, meeting your parents. This is getting serious, right?”

 

“I guess so. Why? You sc—“ Bucky felt Steve pull away and when he turned, Steve was on one knee. Bucky’s heart stopped.

 

“Shoelace was untied.” He said innocently, tying his shoe and giving Bucky a sweet smile. “Sorry, you were saying something?”

 

“...you’re an asshole. Why would you do that?”

 

Steve laughed, standing up. “Sorry. It really was untied. I just wanted to see your face.”

 

“You punk! That’s not funny.”

 

“Please. I’m impulsive, not crazy.” He put an arm around Bucky’s waist. “You went fifty shades of pale,” he teased.

 

“Jesus christ, I thought you were proposing! I’m pretty sure I forgot how to breathe.”

 

“It was pretty funny, though. I have total faith that you’ll get me back someday, and I’ll deserve every bit of it.”

 

As angry as he was, Bucky laughed, leaning into Steve’s embrace as they walked. It was pretty funny.




Chapter Text

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The turkey coma had settled through the house, and it was quiet. They’d originally planned on driving back that night but it’d started to snow, and it was safer for them to just sleep there and leave in the morning.

 

“Hey, Kate Winslet. There’s still room for one more on the bed,” Tony sighed.

 

“I’m his best friend. Sit your ass down, Stark,” Sam muttered from the floor.

 

“I made his arm,” Tony shot back.

 

“Yeah? I got him laid.”

 

True to his word, Bucky had gone out for a beer with Tony, and in the last few weeks, his time had been split between work, Steve, Sam and Tony. When he heard that Tony would be alone on Thanksgiving, Bucky invited him without a second thought. His mother was delighted to have Tony Stark, the genius, tasting her apple pie.

 

It’d been a relatively drama-free Thanksgiving. Bucky’s aunt had put up a fuss to have four men sleeping in the same room, but Bucky’s grandmother had told her to grow up.

 

“James and his boyfriend are living together. Do you think they’re not having sex, Elizabeth?” She sighed, annoyed. “Besides, I seem to remember someone sneaking boys into her room after we were all in bed, so you don’t have a leg to stand on.” she patted Steve on the cheek. “So handsome.”

 

“Thank you, ma’am.” He tried to bite back his grin.

There wasn’t much of an argument after that. When Grandma Barnes put her foot down, people tended to listen. So, in Bucky’s old room were four grown men - two of whom were cuddled next to each other.

 

“You think teenage Bucky would be stoked to have one guy in his bed, and two more arguing to get in it?” Steve asked, arms draped around Bucky as he held him from behind.

 

“God, are you kidding? Teenage Bucky would be losing his goddamn mind right about now.” He laughed. “Just rock paper scissor it and stop your bitching, you two.” He was feeling a little self-conscious about having his arm currently sitting on the other side of the room, but it helped knowing that the three men in the room had all seen him without it. Hell, one of them had made the damn thing. He--

 

“HAH. SUCK IT, STARK.”

 

“I want a rematch.”

 

“You can rematch my dick.”

 

“...I’ll pay you.”

 

Steve groaned. “Tony, just sleep on the floor. Sam won fair and square.”

 

Sam climbed onto the bed, utterly smug, his back to Steve. After a moment, he sighed heavily and nudged the two men behind him. “If you guys move against the wall, we can all fit. But Stark still has to concede that I fucking won, and he has to not steal my damn blanket, AND donate to a veterans fund.”

 

“Deal.” Tony grabbed the blanket from the floor and waited for Steve and Bucky to move.

 

Sighing, Bucky inched himself as best he could, feeling Steve’s warmth disappear for a moment before those arms tightened around him again. The bed sank under Tony’s weight, and the room was quiet again. He lay there, trying to sleep in a bed that was no longer familiar to him. There was still soft noise coming from the rest of the house - his father likely just having a drink before bed and watching old sitcoms. It didn’t feel like home, but those strong arms around him; the scent of Steve’s skin, the slow steady rise and fall of his chest… That felt like home.

 

He closed his eyes and sank against him, just starting to relax when the nightmare hit. He could see Steve running. Some kind of explosion? There were gunshots, and dust and smoke everywhere. Steve was gone. He opened his mouth to scream, but he could only taste sand. Someone was shaking him. Bucky woke up with a soft cry, looking up through the dark at the worried face of his boyfriend.

 

“...Bucky? You okay?” Steve asked, rubbing his back. Sometime, Bucky must have rotated himself. Maybe Steve had turned him. He wasn’t sure.

 

“Just.. nightmare,” he mumbled, trying to catch his breath.

 

Tony’s half asleep voice from the other end of the bed made him jump. “Steve used to get ‘em too. Nailed me in the jaw when he woke up. Don’t feel so bad.”

 

Steve rolled his eyes and kissed the top of Bucky’s head. “I told him that already. Thanks, Tony. You okay, Buck?”

 

Bucky nodded weakly, his hand curling against Steve’s hip. “Dreamed that I lost you and I couldn’t get to you in time to save you. I .. it was just… “

 

“Shh.” Steve went back to rubbing around Bucky’s shoulders. “It was just a nightmare. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere. Breathe.”

 

He lay back down, sighing softly. Seeing Steve just… disappear had left him utterly shaken. After a month, they’d spent so much time together that he didn’t know what he’d do if he lost that support. He’d be losing his best friend and his boyfriend in one fell swoop. “Hey Steve,” he whispered after a few minutes.

 

“Mn?”

 

“You awake?”

 

“Sorta.”

 

“...I love you too.”

 

“Oh my god you guys are gay,” Sam mumbled. “And I say that to someone who’s spooning a dude right now.”

 

“It’s for warmth,” Tony added.

 

Steve ran his fingers through Bucky’s hair, his throat tightening. “...Yeah?”

 

“Yeah. I’m sorry it took me so long to say it. And I’m sorry that these two idiots are ruinin’ my moment. But I .. love you. You’re home for me.” Bucky smiled weakly. “It took having a nightmare about losing you to make me realize what an idiot I’ve been by not telling you.”

 

“It’s okay. I figured it out on my own without you saying a word.” He kissed Bucky’s forehead. “It’s pretty obvious when you know what to look for.” Steve pulled him a little closer. “I love you. Go to sleep. We still have to drive back to the city tomorrow.”

 

“Shotgun,” Sam mumbled from next to Steve.

 

“Fine by me. We’ll cuddle in the backseat,” Steve snorted.

 

“So gay,” came the sleepy reply.

 

Tony yawned. “You guys want to kick him out and have a threesome?”

 

“Good night, Tony.”

 

Bucky managed to fall asleep again, the weight off his shoulders for the time being. He wasn’t sure why he got away without a nightmare this time, but he was happy for it.

 

After a quick breakfast, they were on the road again. As much as he loved his family, it was overwhelming. This was the first time he’d brought a boyfriend home, and to go from quiet existence to being suddenly out of the closet… it was a little much for him to deal with. They all knew he was gay, but now? Now there was evidence of it. Bucky flexed his metal fingers and leaned into Steve as much as their seatbelts would let them.

 

Steve put his arm around Bucky’s shoulders, stroking his fingers through his boyfriend’s long dark hair. “You doing okay? Holidays are stressful. Especially for someone who’s …struggling. “ He squeezed Bucky’s shoulder and leaned back against him.

 

“I’ll be fine. Just … a little unnerving, being the one man Barnes family pride parade.”

 

“But you do it so well,” Sam said from the front seat.

 

“You spooned another man last night,” Bucky shot back.

 

“It was for warmth!”

 

“It’ll be fine,” Steve promised him. “Your family seemed really nice, and I’m sure after the first few holidays, it won’t even be an issue. I’ll just be the boyfriend that comes over for dinner and charms your grandmother, and your mother will stop sighing ‘It’s about time’.”

 

Bucky lifted his head to look up at Steve, eyes wide. “She didn’t.”

 

“Only once or twice. It’s fine. It’s cute how happy she is that you found someone. I don’t really have family to introduce you to, so I’m glad that yours welcomed me so easily. I mean, I know Rebecca likes me because when I make terrible jokes, she just rolls her eyes instead of groaning ‘Oh my god why .’ “ He grinned. Bucky snorted and shook his head. “You don’t need to worry so much. Your family and your friends love you, and they just want you to be happy.”

 

“But do you have to be so blatant about the gay thing?” Sam teased. “I mean, some of us just want to have a gay friend to help them with fashion and to pick up girls by looking sensitive and open-minded.”

 

“If you want a gay friend to help you with fashion, you need to find a new gay friend, Sammy,” Bucky rolled his eyes, laughing.

 

“Why do you think I’ve been so unlucky when it comes to women? I need those Queer Eye guys.”

 

“...what the hell is a Queer Eye?” Tony asked, looking over at Sam, bewildered.

 

“....you’re a bad gay,” Sam replied.

 

“I’m bisexual.”

 

“Then you’re half of a bad gay. Take us to Bucky’s place. We’re gonna watch the whole goddamn season.”

 

Steve rubbed Bucky’s shoulder. “So it appears that we’re having guests.”

 

“Appears so.” Bucky didn’t mind that much. A small group was easier to handle than a big one, and he could zone out while everyone else watched television if he started to feel anxious. Besides, he would have sat through almost anything if he was snuggled into Steve.

 

Overall, it was a pretty relaxing post-Thanksgiving visit. The four of them watched most of a season of Queer Eye, with Sam promising he’d be back to watch the rest in a couple of days. Tony patted Bucky on the arm before he left. “Stop by my office tomorrow, and I’ll give you your Christmas present a little early.”

 

Finally, mercifully, Steve and Bucky were left alone in their house. Rebecca was gone for a couple days to go to dinner with her new boyfriend’s family, so Bucky didn’t feel awkward about climbing into Steve’s lap when they were on their own. He was emotionally exhausted from being around people for the last two days, and a night at home with Steve was just what he needed.

 

“You know, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were flirting with me.”

 

“You’re a quick one, Rogers.” He dipped his mouth to Steve’s to capture it in a kiss, his hips pressing against the other man’s. Bucky would have been lying if he said the little gasp he heard wasn’t satisfying as hell.

 

He was still getting more comfortable telling Steve what he wanted or needed during sex. It was getting easier, but there was still a little voice that told him ‘If he’s willing to fuck you, don’t be picky. Look at you’. Slowly, he was drowning it out. Steve didn’t care about his scars, or his prosthetic. “We have the whole place to ourselves. We don’t even have to go to the bedroom.”

 

Steve swallowed, reaching back to squeeze Bucky’s ass. “You want to do it right here?”

 

“Do you?”

 

“My list of places of where I would fuck you read like a Dr Seuss poem, Buck. I would fuck you on a train, I would fuck you in the rain. I would fuck you on the floor, I’d fuck you hard against the door..”

 

Bucky burst out laughing and leaned his head on Steve’s shoulder, shaking his head in disbelief. “Jesus christ, Steve..”

 

His hand went to the small of the other man’s spine. “I love making you laugh. You looked so broken when we met, I was afraid I wouldn’t get to see you laugh..”

 

“You can’t blame all that on me, Rogers.” Bucky sat back up and kissed him again, grinning wickedly. “Your jokes are fucking terrible .”

 

“Your dad likes them.”

 

“That’s not a good defence, Stevie.” He snorted, kissing him on the forehead and draping his arms around Steve’s shoulders. “We don’t even have kids and you’re already making dad jokes.”

 

Steve pulled back, blinking. “Do you want kids?”

 

“...I don’t know that this is the best time to ask me that.” He raised an eyebrow. “I mean, we’re five minutes away from getting naked with each other.” Bucky sat back onto Steve’s lap, head tilted slightly. “Why? Do you want kids?”

 

He swallowed, clearing his throat. “Yeah. I do. I … I don’t know, I sort of figured I’d adopt somewhere down the line. Give some kid a good home. I guess my brain just… went there when I saw you with your family, talking to your little cousins.” Steve didn’t usually look guilty when he was talking to Bucky, but now, bringing up such a possibly difficult subject was nervewracking. “I know you’re still recovering, and I wouldn’t expect us to rush, but it.. Could be something that we talk about in the future.”

 

Bucky was silent for a minute (which felt like an hour to Steve) while he went over his options, trying to word everything the best way he could. “I mean, I’m doing better, but I’m still a little shaky in situations. I just worry that I’d have a breakdown in front of our kid.” He wet his lips and looked down.

 

“Buck, I get it. I do. I’d never ask you to do anything you’re not comfortable with. If it’s not something you want, I--”

 

“I just think that a couple years to keep working on myself would be good. They’d never approve us for a kid while I was still dealing with everything. Why don’t we..  table this discussion for now, knowing that I’m not saying no, and we’ll pick it up in the future. This isn’t a no, okay? This is a conversation for Future Bucky and Future Steve. And one that I promise we’ll have.” He kissed Steve on the forehead. “But.. you’d make an amazing dad, Stevie.”

 

Steve touched their foreheads together, his hand going to the back of Bucky’s neck. “So will you. Sorry I sort of killed the sex mood.”

 

“Baby, you killed the sex mood when you started talking like Dr. Seuss.”

 

“That’s valid.” He laughed, free hand slipping down to Bucky’s hip. “C’mon. Why don’t we go to the room and I’ll rub your shoulders for you. You’ve had your arm on all day, let me take care of you.” Steve kissed at his jawline and down his neck, grinning when he felt Bucky shiver under his touch. He knew it’d been a big step for Bucky to allow himself to be seen without the prosthetic, let alone be touched without it, and Steve loved having that level of trust between them. He’d decided a long time ago to never do anything to damage that trust.

 

Besides, there were other intimate things they could do without having sex, and having Steve touch him made Bucky feel more comfortable in his own skin.

 

“Yeah. That… that sounds pretty goddamn nice. I’d like that. I’ll go take it off and charge it for tomorrow. It’ll be weird to have a different one.” He climbed off of Steve’s lap.

 

“Wait, what?”

 

“I’m assuming that’s what my present from Tony is gonna be. He was talking about getting me a newer model that’s a little lighter and sleeker. He mentioned Inspector Gadget, which was … troubling, but .. I’m gonna hope he was kidding.” Bucky shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s heavy and kind of bulky, but… fuck, I’m probably gonna cry a little. You think he’ll let me keep the old one?”

 

Steve chuckled. “I’m sure he will when he sees how sentimental you are.”

 

Bucky went up into the bedroom and took his arm off, plugging it into the charge cable. He frowned, looking at it on the dresser. It was time for an upgrade. “Fuck, I am sentimental,” he muttered, sighing and running his hand through his hair. He tugged his shirt off and went to the bathroom to brush his teeth, pausing to look at himself in the mirror. Steve had been good for him. He didn’t look quite so … haunted now. Sure, his hair was still a little too long - maybe he could get a haircut on the way back from visiting Tony - but he was starting to feel like himself. He was starting to be able to see himself through Steve’s eyes, and what he saw… wasn’t bad.

 

“Buck?”

 

He nearly jumped out of his skin. “Fucking hell , Steven.”

 

“You were a thousand miles away,” Steve draped his arm around Bucky’s shoulder and kissed the top of his head. “You okay?”

 

“Yeah. Yeah. All good. Just … I look better, don’t I?”

 

“Compared to…”

 

“How I did when we started going out.”

 

Steve leaned on him, thankfully having the sense to put one of his arms out to steady them both against the sink. “First time I saw you, you looked like a beaten animal that’d been backed into a corner. You looked like you were waiting for me to not show up so you could go home and say at least you’d tried.”

 

“Completely correct.”

 

“But the first time I saw you smile, I saw you for who you were. You could hide as much as you wanted, but I saw you. Now? I get to see you more and more.” He pulled Bucky to him from behind. “I know you’re probably sick of hearing it, but I’m proud of you for how hard you’ve been working. I love you so much.”

 

Bucky let himself lean back into Steve’s arms and he closed his eyes, just letting Steve support him. “I love you too. Thank you for being such a fucking dork that made me laugh and held me on the subway on our first date while I had a goddamn panic attack.”

 

“You’re so very welcome. Gave me a chance to show off my muscles.” Steve pulled back and tugged Bucky back with him. “Come on. I’m gonna give you such a good massage that you’re gonna forget any other massage you’ve ever had.”

 

“You vastly overestimate the sort of memories I hold onto when it comes to getting a massage.”

Steve laughed, pressing a kiss to Bucky’s cheek, leading him to the bed. “You really are ridiculously sexy, you know.”

 

“You’re full of shit.” Bucky felt his cheeks burning as he lowered himself onto the bed on his stomach, grabbing a pillow to prop himself up slightly. It was a pain to do it with one arm and it took some awkward wiggling, but he did it, settling down to relax again. He sighed, closing his eyes. “Okay, let’s get on with this memorable massa--” Bucky lifted his head when he heard music coming from Steve’s phone. “Is that Boyz II Men?”

 

“I have to set the mood somehow.”  Steve was already warming the oil in his hands, and he climbed onto the bed to straddle Bucky’s hips. Before Bucky could make a snarky comment about this just being a thinly veiled attempt at getting laid, he felt those strong hands on him and he melted. “Told you.”

 

“Shh stop talking keep doing whatever you’re doing.”

 

Every touch just dragged out more and more stress that he didn’t know he’d been holding. Bucky groaned, letting his head fall forward. Even though he still tensed when he felt Steve’s hands drifting towards the scar tissue, it was a much more mild reaction than it would have been for anyone else. By the time Steve climbed off of him, Bucky wasn’t sure he had any bones left. He felt like he’d been liquified.

 

Steve turned him over and moved on top of him again, settling in his lap to get comfortable. “Not done,” he murmured, starting to rub down his boyfriend’s chest. He was incredibly pleased with himself for getting Bucky this relaxed, and he was sure that the smug smile on his face spoke volumes. He leaned up, touching the shoulder of the arm that had been amputated and spotting the little flinch in Bucky’s face. “Hey. You okay? I can stop.”

 

Bucky hesitated, brow furrowed. “...No,” he said finally. “Keep going.” He’d trusted Steve with everything else; what was one more thing? He just had to remind himself that it was Steve. Steve wasn’t going to hurt him. “Sorry. Not used to being touched there like that. It’s good. It’s good.” He closed his eyes again and sighed, letting Steve have free reign all over again.  

 

Steve leaned down and kissed him, touching their foreheads together. “You’re stronger than you know, Bucky Barnes. Sexier, too.”

 

“Fuck, when you say my name like that, it really does sound like I’m a cartoon dog or something.”

 

“Now I feel weird for saying a cartoon dog was sexy.” Steve grinned, and Bucky snorted in amusement.

 

“I love you. You’re so, so weird, but I love you.” He reached up to cup Steve’s cheek. “Let’s adopt  a cat together. That’s a good start, right?”

 

“Very.” He sank on top of him, kissing Bucky’s exposed neck and letting his hips press just a little. “We’ll choose one together.”

 

Bucky shuddered, sinking back into the bed and closing his eyes. “Steve, what’re you..”

 

“I still really want to fuck you, but if you’re really not into it tonight..” he trailed off, sucking on the side of his boyfriend’s neck. “I’m not gonna force you.”

 

“You keep doin’ that, I’m gonna find it hard to say no,” he murmured, tilting his head to the side. “Not to mention, I can feel your hard-on pokin’ me in the hip.”

 

Steve cleared his throat and lifted his hips enough to put space between them both. “Sorry.”

 

“Wasn’t complaining. Get your clothes off, Rogers.”

 

“You sure?”

 

Steven .”

 

Steve laughed and climbed off of him, retrieving the lube from the bedside table. “Cherry or creamsicle?”

 

“Do you have to ask?”

 

He nodded once, putting the cherry back and tossing the other bottle onto the bed. Steve found himself staring, distracted at Bucky lying there, half naked and oiled up, but shook it off, undressing and undoing Bucky’s pants as soon as he could. “God, look at you,” he muttered, tugging Bucky’s pants and underwear off. “You’re so fucking beautiful and you have no idea.”

 

Bucky squirmed, still not entirely used to compliments like that, especially when he was naked. “I like the dirty talk better.”

 

“We’ll get there,” Steve promised, moving one of Bucky’s legs to his shoulder and slipping a lubed finger inside of him.

 

He gasped, but it was getting a little easier the more they did it. Knowing it was Steve helped. Even when Steve was being a bit rough (with Bucky’s vocal encouragement), he was still conscious of stepping over any lines. Bucky closed his eyes, squirming as he felt another finger inside of him. He was already warm all over, but the moment he felt Steve’s fingers brush across his prostate, it was like he was on fire. Bucky groaned, curling his toes. “Fuck.”

 

“Mm, you’re so hard already,” Steve murmured, running a hand over Bucky’s chest.

 

“Whose fault is that? Stop teasing me, Rogers.”

 

“Always so impatient,” he chided, spreading his fingers and leaning in for a kiss. “You want me to fuck you?”

 

He shuddered, closing his eyes. “I need you to fuck me. I’ve been so anxious all weekend, I need this. C’mon. Please.” Bucky reached up and curled his fingers into Steve’s hair, kissing him hungrily. “Fuck me, Captain.”

 

Steve wet his lips and pulled back, already lubing himself up. “I can’t possibly say no when you asked me so nicely.” He slipped his fingers out of Bucky and pressed the head of his erection slowly inside, letting out a moan when he felt the heat suddenly surrounding him. “God, Bucky..”

 

“Fuck…” he jerked slightly and closed his eyes, letting himself get used to it. No matter how often they had sex, it was still a little shock initially. Bucky moved his leg up to wrap around Steve’s waist to get better leverage.

 

“You good?”

 

“Mmn, so good.” He reached up to put his arm back around Steve’s shoulder, half wishing he had his prosthetic on, but.. it was too heavy. He always worried he’d smack Steve during sex, and that would just be awkward and ...well, terrible.

 

Steve responded by kissing him again, starting to thrust into him slowly to get him used to it. He reached between them, giving Bucky’s cock a few strokes just to help with the discomfort. “God, you feel amazing. I love you, Buck.”

 

“Love you,” he moaned, clinging to Steve’s broad shoulders and trying to roll his hips a little faster. “I love you, Steve. I—nn! Fff… fuck!”

 

Steve was sucking and biting at every spot on Bucky’s neck that he could, loving how quickly his boyfriend utterly fell apart beneath him. He had a feeling that when their roles were reversed, he would be in the same boat. “You’re so fucking sexy, Bucky. I love watching you get fucked. Love how you sound when I’m fucking you.”

 

Bucky whined Steve’s name, arching his back. He could already feel his orgasm building, and started to claw weakly at Steve’s skin. Not needing any more encouragement than that, Steve picked up the pace, fucking steadily into him, a little breathless. After a few more minutes at that pace, Bucky came, letting out a choked cry. Steve buried his face in Bucky’s hair, hips jerking inside him. He didn’t last much longer, groaning and sinking on top of his boyfriend, panting.

 

They lay there trying to catch their breath, still moaning weakly. Finally, Steve pulled out and managed to drag himself to the bathroom to grab something to clean up with. “You know who we have to thank for the great sex?”

 

“Mn?” Bucky opened one eye.

 

“Boyz II Men. For setting the mood.”

 

“....Fuck, you’re my boyfriend, ” he groaned, laughing.

 

“I am, and you love me. You’re stuck with me ‘til the end of the line, Bucky bear.” Steve cleaned them up and flopped next to him, kissing him on the cheek. He pulled Bucky into his arms with a little sigh.

 

Bucky snuggled close and closed his eyes. “If Thanksgiving sex was this good, I can’t wait to see what Christmas brings.”

 

“It’s basically the same but I’m wearing a Santa hat and my dick has a bow on it.”

 

“Well, Merry Christmas to me, then.”

 

He laughed, kissing Bucky on the forehead. “C’mon. We’ll have a nap and then figure out dinner.” Bucky murmured his agreement, utterly exhausted. Steve held him for a little longer and just listened to him drift off, making sure that he didn’t seem to be having any nightmares before he let himself follow his boyfriend off to dreamland.

Chapter Text

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Steve sighed as he set his sketchbook down. He got a feeling Bucky was hiding something from him, and it was upsetting. It wasn’t like Bucky to shut him out. Maybe he was just feeling anxious and didn’t want to bother Steve with it - he’d been doing so, so good, and he was so sensitive about any setbacks to do with his mental health. Steve understood, but it still hurt. They were coming up on six months, and they’d been living together for five of those. There was a level of trust between them that he’d thought was rock solid.

 

He’d even called Sam and Tony, both of whom denied knowing anything. (The friendship between Bucky and Tony was still mindboggling. He didn’t understand it, but he was glad it had grown.)

 

Students started to file in, and he moved his sketchbook onto the easel facing the class, flipping the cover back and turning to write on the white board. “Okay, guys. We’re going to be working on the human form this week, and next week, we have a model coming in for a couple days.”

 

“...uh. Mr. Rogers?” A young woman sitting at the far end of the classroom raised her hand.

 

“I’m not going to be the model, Trina.” He laughed. “But I’m flattered.” Steve winked at her.

 

“...no. I think you grabbed the wrong book.” She gestured at the sketchbook. Written on the page in Bucky’s writing was

 

Hey, Stevie .’

 

Steve blinked and picked it up. “...the hell?”

 

“Oh my god. Is that from your boyfriend? This is just like Love Actually but not creepy. Let us see!” Another student said giddily.

 

Stunned, Steve started to flip through the pages. This was probably inappropriate but he couldn’t think clearly.

 

I have your other book. It’s safe, I promise .’ (This page was accompanied by a doodle of Bucky holding a white square with ‘Steve’s Book’ written on the front.)

 

But I’m tired of you being the romantic one. I wanted to do something special.

 

‘I was broken when we met. I was scared, and hurting and not ready to trust anyone, let alone love anyone .’

 

‘I was broken when we met because I hadn’t found my missing pieces .’

 

When I woke up terrified and crying, you held me. When I hated myself, you loved me enough for both of us .’

 

You have been my best friend, my cheerleader, my partner, my lover, my everything, and I keep worrying that I don’t measure up . ‘

 

Steve continued flipping pages, his fingers trembling. What the hell was going on? He was crying, and he didn’t care.

 

Even before you told me you loved me, I knew. I looked at you and I knew I was home. Wherever you were, I was home .

 

Suddenly, all those love songs made sense.

 

I couldn’t put it in words, but now I can.

 

‘I love you. I look at you and my heart just says ‘Yep. That’s him. That’s your missing piece.’ And I will do whatever it takes to make you happy for the rest of my life .’

 

‘I swear to you, you will never have to wonder if you’re loved. I will tell you every day, in every touch, every kiss, every —‘ The rest of the page had thick black marker drawn through the words with ‘censored! written through it. The class laughed. Some of them were tearing up already.

 

The last page read ‘ Turn around, bright eyes .’

 

Steve turned around to see Bucky walking out of the supply closet. His jaw dropped, and any chance he had of not crying was long gone. “Bucky, what’s going —“

 

Bucky got down on one knee to audible gasps from the class. A couple of them were recording it on their phones. Steve’s hands flew to his mouth to muffle the sob that came out of him.

 

“I love you, Stevie. I know I’m still sort of broken but you make me feel whole. I’d never loved before I met you, and now I don’t want to love anyone else as long as I’m alive. I’ll never be a millionaire, and I can’t give you everything but I can give you all of me, and then some.“

 

He pulled a small silverish looking ring out of his pocket. “Tony made it for me. Same metal that he made my arm from, so if we’re ever apart, I’ll still be there to hold your hand.” Bucky’s voice choked and he held out the ring. “Steven Grant Rogers. You wanna marry me?”

 

“Holy shit, I’m straight and I’d marry him after that,” one of the students muttered.

 

Steve stared. None of this made sense. Was he dreaming? Was he dead? This was beyond anything he could have thought could happen. He hadn’t thought Bucky was capable of a grand romantic gesture like this. He—

 

“Oh my god Mr. Rogers. Say something!”  Trina gasped, eyes wide.

 

Still at a loss for words, Steve just nodded, holding out his hand to Bucky so he could slide the ring on. There was cheering from the students. “You fucking jerk,” he managed after a moment, pulling Bucky into a tight hug. “I was worried something had happened to you. No one knew where you were.”

 

“Oh, they knew.” Bucky laughed. “I told them exactly what I was doing and not to say a word to you. I wanted to surprise you.”

 

“You sure fucking managed that.” He wiped his eyes. “You came out of the closet for me.”

 

Bucky snorted and brushed away Steve’s tears. “I did.”

 

“How the hell did you swap my book?”

 

“Rebecca was talking to you while you made breakfast. I swapped books while you weren’t looking.”

 

“What would you have done if I said no?”

 

“Was there ever a possibility?”

 

“...no. No, there wasn’t.” Steve sniffled, holding onto him a little tighter. “I love you so much. You’re an asshole and now you’ve completely taken my class off the rails, but I love you.” He kissed the top of Bucky’s head. “I’m gonna go back to work.”

 

Bucky held onto him for another minute, grinning sheepishly at the class. “Sorry I sorta took over for a bit.” He went back to the supply closet to retrieve Steve’s real book. “As promised, safe and sound. Sam and Tony are gonna come over for dinner tonight to celebrate. I’ll see you at home, okay?” He kissed Steve’s cheek and opened the classroom door just in time for Rebecca to burst through and give Steve a hug.

 

“Congratulations!” She squealed, hopping up to put her arms around his shoulders. “I’m gonna need to get video from someone.” She spotted someone in the class raising their hand and went off to give them her cell number so she could get the video of the proposal.

 

“Becca, c’mon, we’ve already interrupted his class enough,” Bucky laughed. His sister rolled her eyes, but once she had what she needed, she followed him out of the classroom.  There was silence after the door closed. Steve stood there, stunned, staring at the ring on his finger with a little grin.

 

Finally, one of his students broke the silence. “Mister Rogers?”

 

His head snapped up. “Uh. Yeah. Yeah, what is it?”

 

“...that was fucking awesome .”

Steve’s grin widened. “It was, wasn’t it?” He shook it off with a laugh. “Okay! So after all that, we still have work to do.”

 

Somehow, he made it through the day, though he wasn’t sure how, and he returned home to find a table full of food that looked like a caterer had shown up, balloons, and a few wrapped boxes sitting on their coffee table. “Congratulations!” Sam greeted him while Bucky was chatting with Tony. “Did you cry? Did he cry? Fuck, I cried when I read what he did.” He pulled Steve into a hug and handed him a glass of champagne. “I’m so happy for you two dorks. “

 

“Thanks,” he laughed, taking the glass. “We both cried a little. Some of my class cried. It .. was pretty amazing. I didn’t think he had it in him.”

 

“He needed a push.” Sam grinned, winking, and led Steve further into the house. “Look who’s here. The future Mr Steven Barnes.” He paused. “...uh, so how’s it work when it’s two guys? Who’s taking whose name?”

 

“We haven’t talked about it.” Bucky stepped between them to kiss Steve properly, arms around his fiance’s neck. “Hey, you.” Steve put an arm around Bucky’s back, still a little overwhelmed.

 

Tony walked up to them, beaming. “Did you like the ring? He told you I made the ring, right?”

 

“I did, and he did.” Steve hugged him. “Thanks, Tony. “

 

“I catered the whole thing, too. Not every day that I get to throw my ex an engagement party and be happy about it. I am, too. Happy for you, I mean.” He sipped his champagne. “Also, my gift is nicer than Sam’s.”

 

“It isn’t a goddamned competition, Stark.”

 

Tony just winked and headed back to talk to Rebecca, who was still a little bit in awe that her brother was friends with someone famous, even if he was weird and sort of a pervert. (She assumed that most famous people were, and didn’t let it get to her.)

 

After dinner, they sat around the living room listening to music, most of them pleasantly tipsy. “So I was thinking. I’m not gonna be able to choose, so, Rebecca and Sam… would you be my best men?”

 

“And.. Tony, if you wouldn’t mind being mine..” Steve added with a smile. “You’re my best friend besides Bucky. I’d like you to be a part of this too. “ He held up his hand. “Nothing big. Just something with friends and family.”

 

“I’ll take care of it.”

 

Bucky arched a brow. “You sure?”

 

“You two are my friends. Consider it done. I’ll find an appropriate venue, make sure the catering’s taken care of, flowers, whatever. I’m not gonna get married anytime soon, so I want to plan someone’s wedding. Don’t worry about a thing.”

 

“Thank you.” He squeezed Tony’s hand with his prosthetic. Ultimately, they’d decided not to paint it flesh coloured. To Bucky, it had felt like he was lying, and the arm looked so sleek and cool that he didn’t want to cover it up. (Tony had played it off but Bucky could tell he was happy his work was appreciated)

 

Sam stayed late to help them clean up after Tony fell asleep on the couch, and once Rebecca went to bed, Bucky cuddled up to Steve in their bedroom. “We’ve got good friends, huh?” Steve asked, running his fingers through Bucky’s hair. “And I’ve got a pretty amazing husband-to-be.”

 

“You do.”

 

“How many anxiety attacks did you have in that supply closet waiting for me?”

 

“Just a little one,” he admitted. “Sam texted me through it. Did I look cool?”

 

“You did,” Steve promised. “Most of my class is absolutely smitten with you.” He kissed Bucky lightly. “I was thinking - why don’t we hyphenate? James Buchanan Barnes-Rogers?”

 

Bucky returned the kiss. “I would love that, Steven Grant Rogers-Barnes.” He felt downright giddy hearing it out loud, not to mention seeing the ring on Steve’s finger. “God, I’ve been holding this in for a week.”

 

“What would you have done if I said no?”

 

“Probably run out of the classroom, eat an entire pepperoni pizza and not get out of bed for a week.”

 

Steve kissed his forehead. “It’s a good thing I was tryin’ to get the nerve to ask you, huh?” He grinned. “I hadn’t even gotten a damn ring.”

 

“It lights up when you blow on it.”

 

He blinked, lowering his mouth to his hand and blowing on his ring. Nothing happened except for Bucky giggling in the darkness. “Asshole.”

 

“I’m the asshole you’re marrying.”

 

“You are.” Steve sighed dramatically. “What have I done?”

























Chapter Text

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“Honey, I’m home!” Steve called, closing the door behind him.

 

“Never gonna get tired of that, huh?” Bucky asked dryly, wiping his hands on his apron and greeting him with a kiss. “Dinner’s almost ready.”

 

There was a blur of red hair that Steve barely managed to catch. “Oof. Hey, you,” he grinned, scooping the little girl in his arms.

 

“Did I surprise you with my stealth attack?” She asked, beaming at him.

 

“You sure did! Let me guess, your brother is hiding somewhere waiting for the signal, huh?”

 

“No?” came a voice from behind the couch.

 

Steve laughed, setting her down. “Did you two get all your homework done?”

 

“We did! Dad checked it already and he said we could have time to play before dinner.” Natasha ran to the couch and peered over. “Mission’s over, Clint.”

 

He sighed and stood up, brushing himself off. “Did we win?”

 

“Yup! Surprised him.”

 

Clint nodded and hopped over the couch. “Hi, Steve.”

 

“Hey, buddy.” Steve crouched down. “How’re your new hearing aids?”  

 

“I like ‘em. Thanks.” Clint watched his foster sister run off towards the kitchen and he lowered his voice. “....sometimes I turn ‘em down and pretend they aren’t working.”

 

“What? Why w—“

 

It was at that moment Natasha surprise attacked Bucky and shrieked with laughter when he caught her. Steve looked back at Clint, who nodded solemnly and walked away, leaving Steve to desperately try and keep a straight face.

 

They’d only been planning to foster one child, but a foster home for Clint had fallen through at the last minute and their social worker had called to see if they’d be willing to take in a child that was hard of hearing.

 

It was a pretty easy decision.

 

Now, they were in the process of adopting both. As much work as the kids were - Natasha especially could be a handful - and the toll it had taken on Steve and Bucky’s sex life, they were all happy.

 

He went into the kitchen and pulled Bucky close to him, kissing his neck. “You know, you’d look good in just an apron.”

 

“I’m pretty sure child services would take our kids away,” Bucky replied dryly. “But I appreciate the compliment. Go set the table? I’ll bring dinner out.” He turned and kissed Steve, putting his arms around his husband’s shoulders. “Mm. Tonight.”

 

“Yeah?” Steve grinned widely at him. Bucky’s cheeks turned a little pink and he nodded, stealing another kiss. “Mmn. Okay. Table. Got it.” He squeezed Bucky’s ass before heading to the table.  Natasha was sitting there waiting.

 

“Dad 2, can I ask you a question?”

 

“Of course.”

 

“When we get adopted, that’s forever, right? You’re gonna be my dads and Clint’ll be my brother?”

 

“That’s how it goes.”

 

“Cool.” She nodded and took the plate in front of her. “I’m glad. I like you. You guys kiss a lot and you’re always makin’ faces at each other but I like you as my dads.”

 

Steve snorted. “Thanks, Tash. We like having you two around, too.”

 

“So even if I do bad in school, once you adopt me, you still have to be my dads.”

 

He finished setting the plates and sat down next to her. “Kid, you’re stuck with us.”

 

“Forever?”

 

“Til the end of the line,” Steve promised.

 

Bucky set the dish of lasagna down on the table. “And then some. Go get your brother. And you don’t have to ye—“

 

“Cliiiint! Dinner’s ready!” Natasha yelled, running off to get him. Bucky laughed, shaking his head.

 

“Wouldn’t change a thing.”

 

“Me either.” Steve tugged him down for a kiss and got out the spatula so he could serve dinner. It had taken a long time, but he finally had the family he’d been wanting since he was a kid.

 

It made the yearly ‘You’re welcome ’ texts from Sam totally and completely worth it.