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Steve jerked up, automatically grabbing the intruder by the arms even before he opened his eyes: he registered that the body on top of him was weirdly small and then he was staring into the furious intent glare of a little girl’s face, maybe six years old, screwed up with rage. She was sitting on his chest. She leaned in and said, “He took my ball.”

Steve looked around wildly. He was in a bed, just a regular king-size with soft blue sheets, in what looked like a regular bedroom. He’d never seen the place before.

“Daddy!” The little girl thumped his chest with her tiny fists. He whipped around to stare at her even harder. “Jimmy TOOK MY BALL! My RED ball! My special red ball! It’s mine and he won’t give it back

“Okay!” Steve said, to head off the rising yowl. He sat up. Temporarily appeased, the little girl scrambled down off the bed, but she kept staring at him expectantly. Steve stared back at her. She had milky brown skin and brown eyes, and was wearing a vaguely familiar poufy green satin dress with enormous mud stains all over it. He looked around the room again helplessly. There was a large flat-screen TV on the wall, a couple of dressers, door to a bathroom, a single big window with curtains drawn and the faint sounds of yelling kids outside. He slowly pushed aside the sheets and got up. He was wearing loose pajama pants and nothing else.

He put his hands against his forehead and tried to piece together any kind of memory that made sense. His head hurt, a throb behind the right ear. He’d been in the Hydra base. Right. That had been real. He’d been in a Hydra base, one of the places they’d kept Bucky. He’d found a room — the floor had dropped out from under him. There had been people everywhere, on his back, grabbing him —

“Daaaaaaaaddyyyyyy!” the girl said again, jumping up and down. She grabbed his pants leg and started heading for the door, which meant he could either go along or have his pants yanked off. He grabbed the waistband and pried her hand off just as she opened the door —

Sam was on the other side. Steve straightened up with a swell of relief: Sam would help him — but Sam was frowning down at the girl. “I thought I told you to let your dad sleep,” he said, the same voice Steve had heard him use with his niece and nephew when they’d crossed the line.

“He’s going to make Jimmy give back my ball,” the girl said defiantly.

Sam’s eyebrow went up. “Oh, he is, is he?” He shot Steve a level, unamused look. He knelt down and looked the girl in the face. “The ball’s for everybody. You can’t share, you can’t play with it.”

“But it’s special for me,” she said.

“Nice try,” Sam said. “No. That’s a rule for Ms. Rabbit, not for any toy you want to play with that minute. Go on, go back outside, I think they’re getting ready to play tag.”

“I’m going to be IT!” she yelled and ran down the hall.

Sam stood up. “Dude. We’ve had this conversation. You know she’s still pushing the boundaries — ” Then he paused. “Hey, you okay?”

“No,” Steve said, staring at him.

Sam was instantly in close, putting a hand on his arm. It was warm and solid and familiar. “I’m here,” he said. “Talk to me. What’s going on?”

Steve put a hand on the wall: it felt real. Wind was stirring in through the window behind him, fresh air, the smell of grass. He remembered waking up in that SHIELD facility, the canned air and the canned radio, everything around him a false front; he’d known immediately something was wrong. This — this couldn’t be real, but it felt real. “Where — where are we?”

“That bad, huh?” Sam said, but he sounded calm and steady. Steve swallowed, the first panic ebbing; he couldn’t help but feel glad for Sam’s solid presence. “Okay, let’s go back to basics. What’s your name?”

“Steve Rogers.”

“How about me?”

“Sam Wilson.”

Sam nodded. “Okay. Track it back. What’s the last thing you remember?”

“I got jumped in a Hydra base,” Steve said.

“Hydra?” Sam said, frowning at him. “Dude, Hydra hasn’t been on the map for — what year is it?”

“2015,” Steve said, and Sam paused and looked taken aback himself.

“All right,” he said. “Wow.” He ran a hand down over his mouth. He looked around the hallway a little blankly, like he wasn’t sure what to do. “Yeah, well, I guess this would be kind of a shock then.”

Steve’s heart was pounding. “Sam. What’s going on?”

Sam blew out a breath. “This is past my pay grade, man. I’m not sure whether it’s a good idea to tell you—”

“That girl says I’m her dad!” Steve said. “What is —” He looked down at his own hand: there was a plain gold wedding band around the fourth finger. “I’m — who — ?” His head supplied a sudden rewind: Sam’s hand, moving over his mouth. Sam was wearing a wedding ring, too. Steve jerked up and stared at him.

“Yeah,” Sam said, a little dryly.

Steve opened his mouth and shut it again. “We — we’re — you’re — but.”

“Hang on a minute,” Sam said. “Let’s go sit down in the kitchen, drink some water and take ten minutes to see if anything loosens up in there. If not, we’ll head to the med center. I’m going to call and get somebody to come over and watch the kids.”

“How — how many are there?” Steve said faintly.

#

There were five. They were running around in a small back yard tucked behind the house, a big old brownstone; and when Sam stuck his head out and called, “Sarah!” the oldest one came up, a girl of eleven or so. Steve stared from the corner of the kitchen. “Hey,” Sam said, “listen, dad’s a little sick, okay? Do me a favor and keep the posse outside for now. Aunt Darlene’s going to come over and watch you guys, I’m going to take him to the doctor.”

She peered uncertainly past Sam, trying to see him. “Is he going to be okay?”

“It’s going to be all right,” Sam said, and gently shooed her back outside. He came back in and handed Steve a glass of ice water. Steve took it. His hand didn’t shake, but he felt like it should have.

“How — how long?” Steve said.

“Can you try and tell me?” Sam said. “You have any sense of time gone?”

“No,” Steve said, his throat tight. He stared down at his hand spread out on the table, the gold band. It was like standing in the middle of a Times Square he didn’t recognize, a skip on the record player, the whole world jumped on ahead of him again. He shuddered all over, and then Sam’s hands were on him again, resting on his arm and shoulder, a solid anchor.

“Tell me if you need me to back off,” Sam said quietly.

“No,” Steve said. “No.”

“Okay,” Sam said. “You want to come here a minute?” and gently pulled Steve around into his arms. Steve went clumsily, awkward; it didn’t feel like something they did, except Sam was pulling him in, hugging him close, and it felt so good that Steve couldn’t care. He let himself sink against Sam’s body, his head tucking down onto his shoulder. He breathed in and out with the strokes of Sam’s hand down his back, calming. It wasn’t the same old nightmare after all. He wasn’t alone. He hadn’t lost everyone.

“Better?” Sam asked.

“Yeah,” Steve said softly, still resting against him. “But I still don’t remember — any of this.”

Sam kept holding him, stroking gently. “Okay. Soon as Darlene gets here for the kids, we’ll go to the center. Don’t worry, man, we’ll get through it,” and Steve believed that, suddenly and deep; that he and Sam would find a way to figure everything out. The warm smell of Sam’s skin was all around him; Sam’s hand was broad and strong on the back of his neck. A small shiver of pleasure ran down Steve’s spine, and abruptly he believed in the whole thing; believed that he could have married Sam, could have made a home and family.

He lifted his head up abruptly. Sam let him up, but they were still close together. Steve stared at him and said, “Uh, where did — the kids, how — ”

Sam blinked at him. Then he said, “Well, I guess you always said you wished you could forget the experience.”

Steve stared at him. “What?”

Sam shrugged. “Dude, I’m not the supersoldier. I wasn’t going to be popping them out.”

What?” Steve squeaked, and put a hand on his stomach, because wait a goddamn second and then Sam’s mouth twitched. Steve glared at him, speechless. “Oh, you asshole.”

Sam was almost choking with laughter, fallen back in his chair. “Come on, man. That was a once in a lifetime opportunity, there,” he said, strangled, between whoops.

Dick,” Steve said, trying not to laugh himself. “I can’t believe I married you.”

“Oh, you never had it this good,” Sam said, grinning at him, and Steve swallowed hard, because Jesus, he was married, to Sam; he had kids, he had a — a life

“Hey,” Sam said gently, reaching for him, and Steve clumsily caught his shoulders and tried to pull him in. Sam resisted a little. “You sure? If you don’t remember — I don’t want you to feel like — ”

“I don’t need to remember,” Steve said. “I know,” and kissed him: Sam’s mouth unfamiliar and strange, but sweet and hot, and then Sam cupped his head and kissed Steve firmly, thoroughly, taking charge. Steve shivered again. It was pretty much the same as kissing a girl, or, well, being kissed by one; except this was Sam, this was his husband.

Sam’s sister came to watch the kids: Steve had met her a few times in New York, when Sam had taken him along for lunch uptown, or she’d dropped off her kids for a day out with their uncle. “Hey, honey,” she said, kissing him on the cheek with easy familiarity, the closeness of family. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Steve said. “It’s going to be okay.”

#

The doctors at the med center were brusque and cold, running endless tests and asking endless questions. They wanted to know his last memories in excruciating detail: what the room had looked like, what he’d been looking for in the Hydra base and why, the plan of attack, how he’d learned about the location, all the names of the agents who had been involved in the assault. Steve’s head started aching again. “Hey,” Sam said finally, breaking in; he was frowning. “What good is this supposed to do? Have you guys found anything yet?”

“We still require more information,” one of the doctors began.

“Uh huh,” Sam said. “Later. We’re taking a break. Come on,” he caught Steve’s arm, and Steve gladly let Sam tow him up and out of the room, despite the doctors muttering urgent protests to each other behind his back. Sam navigated them out into the small generic courtyard in the middle of the center: a green lawn and trees and a few stone benches, hazy in the sunlight. Steve sat down heavily on one of them and rubbed his head. The throbbing ache behind his ear was worse. He gingerly felt around, but there wasn’t anything there, no lump.

“I’m not too thrilled with those guys,” Sam said. “How are you feeling?”

Steve stared down at the ground. “Worse,” he said. The strangeness of the world was creeping over him again. He reached out blindly and put his hand on Sam’s thigh, trying to remind himself not everything was changed. “This — is this really — how can this be real?”

Sam put a hand on his back. After a moment he said, “All right — try and prove it’s not.”

“What?” Steve said.

Sam shrugged. “If this isn’t real, there’s going to be something wrong. Lies don’t stand up all that well when you start asking questions. So ask them.”

Steve swallowed. He wasn’t sure he wanted to find out, if it wasn’t. “How — how did — this start?” he asked softly. “You and me?”

“You mean how did you get this lucky?” Sam said. His hand was rubbing comforting circles on Steve’s back. “It was after San Diego — shit, you don’t remember San Diego. Hydra pulled a last stand routine. Anyway, I took a pretty bad hit — easy, tiger, it was ten years ago. When I woke up I was pretty loopy on the drugs and I thought I was back in Afghanistan. You got in a little too close, I thought you were Riley, I planted one on you.” He spread out his arms. “What can I say, that was all it took to sell you.”

Steve laughed, helplessly. The ache receded. “Okay,” he said. “Tell me about the kids. Sarah — we named her for my mom?”

“Yeah,” Sam said.

#

The doctors were standing to one side of the exam table, arguing in low angry voices: Steve was stretched out on the table, eyes closed. Sam catfooted around the edge of the room balcony, gun held low, getting into position. “Yes, what a marvelous program you’ve developed,” one of them was snapping. “It allowed him to interrupt the interrogation!”

“Without my program, we wouldn’t even have a single name yet!” the other one fired back. “His resistance is immense, as is his perception. To extract anything, we must allow his mind to create a scenario in which he can yield the information in comfort. I told you not to press your questioning so aggressively! Did you suppose he would find it natural? That is why his mind acted to protect itself. If we had tried to interfere, if we had not permitted him to construct a believable relief, he would certainly have broken out of the program entirely.”

Now he was closer, Sam could see the long metal tube snaking all the way to a cable planted on Steve’s skull, just behind the right ear, gripped on with small silver teeth. Bastards. Sam checked his watch. Still about an hour before the rest of the Avengers could make it here, and there were at least a hundred agents in the base. He’d only planned on sneaking in, getting the lay of the land; maybe breaking Steve out on the quiet if he got lucky and they’d left him in a cell. This was the opposite of lucky: there were twelve hallways all leading into the room. The second he fired a shot in here, the whole base would light up like Christmas.

He shook his head. No help for it. He raised the gun and fired: three shots, two dead, and the one who’d been defending his program was down and screaming, clutching at the blood pouring out of his leg. Sam jumped down and grabbed him by the arm, dragged him up and over to Steve. He put the gun against the doctor’s head. “Get him out by the time I count to ten,” he said. “One. Two.”

The doctor sobbed as his hands trembled on the cable. “I need — I need — to stop the bleeding,” he gasped, looking down at his leg.

The shot had clipped the femoral artery, so he wasn’t going to have time. Sam swallowed the bile trying to rise up his throat. He hated this kind of shit more than anything. He’d gone for PJ because he’d wanted to save the good guys a lot more than kill the bad guys, and this — what he was doing now, this was like sticking your hands straight down into tar, the kind that didn’t come off even with scrubbing. But Steve was lying there with his eyes twitching horribly under his eyelids, Hydra tentacles deep in his brain, and this guy had done it to him; already had some names pulled out of Steve’s head, agents who were going to die if he got his way. “Three,” Sam said grimly, and didn’t lower the gun.

The cable fritzed, detaching, and Steve heaved up off the table with a huge gasping cry, eyes wide and shocked. He jerked around and stared at Sam.

“Hey, Steve,” Sam said. “Stay calm. They’ve been messing with your head. You okay?”

Steve was staring at him like he’d never seen him before. “Sam,” he said, almost inaudibly. “Oh, God,” and abruptly he turned aside and vomited, helplessly, all over the floor.

“Please,” the doctor said, prying at Sam’s fingers on his arm. “Please.” Sam let him go and went around to grab Steve’s shoulders and get him down off the table. The doctor crumpled to the floor, his legs giving out. He dragged himself away towards the wall and sank against it, eyes already clouding over. Sam didn’t look back at him.

“Easy, pal,” he said. “Listen, man, we’ve got to get out of here. The cavalry’s pretty far off. Can you walk?”

Steve had his arms wrapped around his waist, hunched over like somebody had kidney-punched him on both sides. There were tears standing in his eyes. “Yes,” he said. His voice shook.

The shield was sitting in the corner of the room. Sam scooped it up and took point, keeping Steve behind him. There were footsteps coming, running. Sam checked his mental map of the base. “This way,” he said, and took off down the third hallway. Steve stumbled along behind him.

#

Sam gave it a couple of weeks before he finally ran Steve to ground: sitting on the fire escape of an old tenement apartment with a sketchpad and a pencil, stripped down to tank and boxers in the sweltering heat. The hair had already grown mostly back in on the shaved patch behind his ear. Sam circled in to land on the roof and folded in his wings, and then he climbed down the fire escape and dropped in.

Steve closed the sketchbook and clenched his hands on it. “Hey,” he said.

“Yeah,” Sam said. “Hey.” He ducked through the wide-open window into Steve’s apartment and helped himself to a glass of ice water out of the fridge: he drank it without stopping as he shrugged out of the wingpack and set it against the wall, then poured a second one. He was dripping with sweat: it was hot even in the air.

Steve had climbed in after him. He stood in front of the window, silent. “Dude,” Sam said. “Avoiding the Tower is one thing, but no AC?”

Steve hesitated, but he didn’t deny it. “It’s just — a place to go.”

“And die of dehydration,” Sam said. He finished his second glass and put it down and turned to face Steve. “Look, man, I don’t want to push. But whatever Hydra stuck in your head, whatever they had me do to you — the longer you let it sit inside as the last thing you remember, the harder it’s going to be to get it out.”

Steve looked away, a muscle in his jaw jumping. He didn’t say anything.

The silence hurt. Once Sam had figured out Steve was avoiding him in particular, he’d known it had to be pretty damn bad, whatever they’d done. He’d had nightmares the last few nights about someone with his face hurting Steve, putting a bullet in Steve’s leg and watching him bleed out, plugging a cable into his skull — mix and match traumas. But even so he hadn’t really wanted to believe Steve would — let Hydra have that, let them take what they had.

A year now, fighting the good fight; it didn’t sound like a long time, but there were people you knew in five minutes, and some you couldn’t know after five years. Him and Steve, they’d known each other in about five seconds, and they hadn’t gotten each other wrong since then. Not until now, anyway. Except that wasn’t fucking fair, and Sam knew it, even if it made his chest hurt deep down.

“All right,” he said, keeping it calm and steady. “If you can’t, you can’t.” He’d be a while dealing with this himself, but Steve was the guy who’d been tortured; Sam wasn’t going to lay this on him. He went on, because there was no way out but through. “I’m going to head back to D.C. tomorrow. I talked to Hill about it; they could use me — ”

“What?” Steve said, jerking his head up.

“Steve,” Sam said. “What they did to you, that was some serious shit, and I know it plugged right into some issues you already had going. This,” he waved at the tiny apartment, the fire escape, “this is not cutting it. You need to be in the Tower, getting some help. And I know the reason you’re not there is me.”

Steve took a step towards him. “No! I don’t — that’s not — Sam, that’s not — don’t — ”

He stopped and just stood there looking stricken. Sam paused, a little confused. “Look, man, I’m flying blind here. I would’ve said there wasn’t anything we couldn’t work through. But if you’re not talking to me, I hear you saying there is. And if you need to say that, you get to say—”

“Can I take you out to dinner?” Steve blurted suddenly.

“What?” Sam said.

Steve’s skin was going flushed all over, and it wasn’t just the heat; he was staring at the floor like he was hoping a trap door was going to open up in it. “Would you go to — go out to — dinner with me?” he repeated, almost desperately.

Sam had a twilight zone feeling like he’d got off the elevator on the wrong floor of an apartment building, and his key wasn’t working in the door of the place he’d thought was his. “So, hang on,” he said warily, “this vision Hydra stuck in your — ”

“We were married,” Steve said.

“Huh,” Sam said blankly.

#

Steve had apparently spent all his social interaction points on asking him out to dinner, because he immediately went into contortions to avoid all eye contact and keep Sam from getting out a word, rummaging around the kitchen and darting around the apartment straightening up. Sam let him get away with it. He needed some time to process.

He knew the only reason Steve could flirt with him was because it was understood that they weren’t taking it anywhere. Sam had watched him crash and burn in truly spectacular fashion on enough occasions to know that there was some kind of circuit in Steve’s brain that got shorted out anytime he — or for that matter the other person — was actually interested. Like now, Sam realized, watching Steve rearranging books on a shelf and rambling desperately over his shoulder about how the ice cream on the trucks was terrible these days. He had no idea how Steve had even gotten onto that topic in the span of less than three minutes.

“Seriously, married?” Sam said, interrupting him.

“With five kids,” Steve said.

“Where the fuck did we get five kids from?” Sam demanded. “Wait, nevermind, I don’t think I want to know.”

Steve made a strangled noise, a laugh that choked off into something abruptly miserable, and he braced his hands on the shelf and leaned on it, head sagging down between his shoulders. Sam hurt for him; he wanted to go over to him. Except Steve was sad because he wasn’t living in a vision where the two of them were living some kind of happily ever after, and Sam didn’t really know what to do about that.

But apparently what Steve wanted to do about it was ask him out on a date. “Okay,” Sam said. “What the hell, you can buy me dinner.”

“Oh,” Steve said, sounding about as terrified as when he’d asked in the first place.

“Don’t expect me to put out on the first date, though, Rogers,” Sam said. “I’m not that kind of girl.”

“No! No, I won’t, I — we don’t — that is, you,” Steve squeaked, until Sam started laughing and he stopped, bright red.

“Dude, I’m not sure if you’ve really thought this through,” Sam said.

“I’ve been thinking it through for two damn weeks!” Steve said.

“Then maybe you’ve thought it through too much,” Sam said, and went over and pulled him into a hug. Steve groaned and let his head fall on Sam’s shoulder.

“Sam,” he said, muffled. “You don’t have to — ”

“It’s all right, man.” Sam patted his back. “Don’t chicken out now. Take your best shot.”

#

Steve’s best shot was pretty damn pitiful. He showed up on Sam’s floor on the dot at seven-thirty in an over-starched shirt and a panicked expression, completely failed to appreciate the seriously awesome suit Sam was wearing, took him to a restaurant so fancy the waiters were on top of them every five minutes, and stared at his plate the entire meal, failing to start any conversation other than asking Sam whether he liked his food. It was kind of fascinating to watch, like having a grandstand ticket for a train wreck. Except Sam was on board this particular train.

“Okay,” he said, after dessert. “I’ve got the picture now.”

“You do?” Steve said morosely to his chocolate cake.

“Yeah,” Sam said. “It’s no wonder you’re having fantasies about going straight to married with kids, because based on your dating skills, you’re going to die alone.”

“Oh, thanks a lot,” Steve said, glaring up at him, which was as much life as he’d shown all night.

“Yeah, you should thank me,” Sam said. “I’m taking over.” He raised a hand to one of the wolf pack of waiters, made the universal sign, and got the check and paid it while Steve stared a little helplessly at the whole process.

Outside, Sam flagged down a cab and took Steve uptown to a jazz club he knew: a great bartender and a good band that didn’t blow out the speakers. They got a table outside and sat in the warm air drinking cocktails and watching Harlem go by: every so often somebody Sam knew came by to shake hands. Sam kept an arm behind Steve’s chair and stayed focused on him, made introductions, nudged the conversation along nice and easy: same way he’d treat any date. Steve unstiffened by slow degrees, less tight around the eyes, and started talking like a person again; even managed to give it back a little if Sam teased him. Around eleven the band took a break and the music switched over to old standards, low and smoky and mellow. The buses and the taxis kept flowing by, and Steve finally relaxed all the way into his chair, his back warm against Sam’s arm.

They got a third round, finished it. Steve’s shirt had softened up in the humid air, tie loosened and hanging open. Sam had a slow warm buzz running under his skin, and he didn’t feel any need for the night to be over. “How do you feel about walking home?” he said.

He bought them ice cream at the northern edge of Central Park, and they walked slowly all the way down, following the rambling paths; last few fireflies winking and the streetlamps lit, talking about music. The park was pretty empty at this hour of the night: a few people walking big dogs, a pair of cops yawning in a car parked on the drive. They finished their ice cream cones, and Sam reached out and slid his hand around Steve’s.

He was kind of curious what it would be like, if it would be different. Not really, turned out. Steve’s hand was warm and firm and strong. Their fingers laced together, brushing over each other. Steve glanced over and even met his eyes for once, and then he smiled: a slow shy curve, his eyes shining with street lights, and oh, yeah. That was trouble right there, because Sam could see himself doing a whole lot of crazy things to make Steve Rogers smile like that.

Sam walked him to his floor in the Tower, and they stood in the elevator bank talking for another half hour. “We should probably get to bed,” Steve said finally, softly. He hesitated and said, going pink, “That — this was — really nice. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” Sam said, and it just felt right to slide his hands up, cup Steve’s face, and draw him in for that goodnight kiss.

Steve shivered all over under his hands, and yeah, that was sexy, feeling him lose it like that from one little kiss; and his mouth was just a thing of beauty, warm and sweet and hot. At first it was just one hell of a relief: knowing that yeah, this could work, this was going to work. Sam was pretty sure he could kiss Steve all day long. And then Steve clutched him by the shoulders and leaned into it, and oh, Sam was going to have a lot better things to do all day long. He slid a hand up behind Steve’s back and pulled him in close, and abruptly they were all over each other, kissing harder, going for it.

They thumped against the wall together; Steve’s broad shoulders absorbing the impact, his arms going around Sam’s body. Sam yanked Steve’s tie the rest of the way loose, because it was in the damn way, and Steve was clutching fistfuls of Sam’s shirt, his hands up under Sam’s jacket. Then Steve reached one hand back, blindly groping behind him, and when the door swung open, they staggered into the apartment without even breaking apart.

The city skyline was a billion stars coming in through the plate glass windows. They didn’t need to turn on the light. They backed up to the couch, losing clothes on the way. “Thought you weren’t that kind of girl,” Steve gasped, sprawled back on the couch and lifting up his hips to unbutton his pants, hurrying.

“I guess maybe you are,” Sam said, grinning down at him as he stripped his own shirt off and got his belt open.

“Well, we have to start on the five kids sometime,” Steve said, hooking an arm around his neck, and they weren’t talking for a while after that, just kissing, moving together, learning each other’s naked bodies. It was good, all good: the salt of Steve’s sweat on his tongue and the heave of his goddamn ridiculous chest. Sam couldn’t help but run his hands all over, like getting to touch a statue that was usually kept behind velvet ropes: all the way down to those perfect thighs, his thumbs sliding over the inner skin.

He hadn’t planned to push things anywhere near this fast, but Steve’s small gasped “oh —” made him keep going. Sam slid a hand between Steve’s legs and gave him a little taste, palm pressing gently against his balls, fingers stroking over his hole, and Steve shuddered under him. His whole body suddenly gave way, went soft and relaxed, all the shakes running out of him.

“Huh,” he said almost blankly, and stared up at Sam startled but heavy-lidded too, like his body had gotten the picture and liked it a whole lot. Sam couldn’t help leaning in over him. His dick slid in between Steve’s legs, nudged up against him. Steve was panting, open-mouthed; he licked his pink lips and shifted, letting Sam settle deeper into him, tilting his hips up.

Sam groaned. “Steve, you keep that up — ”

“Yes,” Steve said, rocking up against him; he looked dazed, unfocused. “Yes. Jesus, do me already. Please?” he added, politely, and Sam started laughing, helpless with affection, with love; he bent down and kissed Steve’s flushed mouth some more.

“Okay, baby,” he said. “I won’t leave you hanging.”

Steve Rogers turned out to be the easiest lay Sam had ever had, for the first two rounds; then he turned into a Olympic-level challenge, because after a glass of water and a quick wipe-down, he was one hundred percent fresh, bright-eyed, and ready to keep on going. They had moved to the bedroom by then. Sam was lying back with an arm flung over his eyes, thinking seriously about going to sleep. Then Steve came back from the bathroom and landed on the bed next to him, literally bouncing, wearing a hopeful smile like a good kid on Christmas who wasn’t going to say anything, because he’d gotten a bunch of toys and a sweater already, but secretly he was still crossing his fingers there was a bicycle about to come out of the closet.

Sam groaned faintly. “Yeah, I knew you were going to be trouble,” he said. He rolled over and smacked his own ass. “Come on, you’re going to have to do some of the damn work this time.”

“Oh,” Steve said, strangled. “Are — you’re sure?”

Sam peered around at him. That didn’t really sound anything like Steve not being interested. “Is there something in the last — hour and a half that’s made you think maybe I’m not sure?”

“Well, I just, I thought, uh, maybe,” Steve said, blushing and losing the thread again, and Sam snorted.

“I won’t claim I’ve been to this club before, but I knew what the scene was,” he said. “If I had any reservations, you would’ve heard about them before I walked in. And if you really want to be the girl in this relationship full-time, you’ll have to learn a lot more patience.”

“Well, to be honest, I’m not really all that great at patience,” Steve said, sliding his way up onto Sam’s back, nosing along the curve of his spine. He kissed the back of Sam’s neck, put a little teeth into it even, and Sam groaned and shivered all over underneath him.

“Patience is kind of overrated,” he said. Then reconsidered: “Up to a point. I’ve seen what you’re working with; don’t be in any rush back there.”

“I’ll take my time,” Steve said, smiling against his shoulder.

They went three times more before even Steve gave out and snuggled in deep against Sam’s chest, breath levelling out. Already half-under, Sam rested a hand on his golden head. “I had better be getting pancakes in the morning, dude, seriously,” he mumbled.

“I can do that,” Steve said.

Sam was drifting off and then he squinted at the ceiling, something occurring to him. “Hey,” he said.

“Mm?” Steve was sleepy.

“Where did they come from?”

Steve paused, then he said, “Well. I guess maybe there’s something I should tell you about the supersoldier serum — ”

# End