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Steve doesn’t mean to have the orgasm. Not exactly. Not the first time, anyway.

He’s opening a box that he’s had for a while, notes and files and even some paraphernalia. Photos. Clippings. That Winter Soldier mask. Relics of Bucky’s past, Bucky’s pain. Turned over to Steve during and after the search: fragments and clues and puzzle-piece bread-crumbs.

Here in Wakanda they’re safe and sound. Here amid generous honey-hued sunshine and the whisper of tall grasses and the glitter of shiny new technology that’s laced gold into Bucky’s arm and brightened Bucky’s eyes, they’re finding a future. They’ve got a bed big enough for two supersoldiers and associated nightmares and indulgent fluffy blankets. Bucky likes texture; Steve loves Bucky.

They’ve got goat’s-milk cheese and Bucky’s lazy smile over coffee in the mornings. They’ve got hands and hearts and the million sweetest shocks of rediscovery. They fit together not like they used to but like they’ve fought to. Like they’ve earned it and chosen it and made it happen: a happy ending, deserved.

That happy ending comes with a nice big reinforced sofa. It can stand up to Steve launching himself at Bucky, and Bucky wrapping legs around Steve and toppling down into cushions. It can handle vigorous motion and flailing limbs and a hell of a lot of weight.

It can, in short, take all the sex they can throw at it. With sturdy approval.

That sofa’s in the other room. Not a witness to what Steve’s doing. Probably a good thing.

Bucky’s off doing yoga with Natasha. Steve’d been invited, but he’s been working on a secret project, a sketch, and it’s small and he’s out of practice, but it’s Bucky feeding a goat and laughing, and there’d been sunshine in his hair and Steve’s fingers’d sparkled with the need to draw him.

So Bucky isn’t here to see this. To see how much Steve’s staring.

Because he is. He’s staring. Can’t look away.

He’s standing there with that photo in his hand, one photo out of a sheaf of them, arrested by it. He’s slowly sinking down onto the bed, gazing at Bucky’s—the Winter Soldier’s—surveillance-camera-caught black leather and straps and cool competent darkly-outlined eyes.

He’s in their bedroom, where he’d caught sight of that box and been reminded and thought maybe he or they could go through it at last, go through it and put it away for good or burn it or whatever closure Bucky needs—

In their bedroom, where they have all the enthusiastic show me what you’ve got, show me we’re alive, show me how much you love me, punk sex—

Steve doesn’t mean to drop a hand to touch himself, where his dick’s abruptly hot and hard in his sweatpants; he doesn’t even know why he’s aching and breathless and wanting, but he is, he is—

And it’s Bucky’s eyes. It’s Bucky’s eyes, complicated rainwater blue and grey, slate and shimmer standing out against midnight: not emotionless but mission-focused, familiar and not, in a way that catches hold of Steve’s heart and grips hard, with claws. Glimpses of that focus resurface and flicker: Bucky behind a sniper’s rifle, picking off a man who’d been half a second from shooting Steve in the head. Bucky throwing Steve a scintillating grin in the wake of this rescue: got your back, yeah, sure, like always, what’d you do without me? Bucky quieter and more urgent and earnest in the ragged canvas haven of their shared tent, reaching for Steve as if reaching for an anchor, lying back and gazing up as Steve moved atop him, inside him, and Bucky’s hands clutched Steve’s arms tighter and tighter…

It’s the leather and the buckles and the capable stance. It’s the determination: the same, and not.

Steve doesn’t even know which mission this had been. Where this snapshot’d been captured, a splinter out of time. Too many to choose from. But that doesn’t matter.

And he still can’t look away. And his skin prickles, his heart races in supersoldier extra-double-time, with want.

Bucky, he thinks, Bucky—

And the emotions snarl and tangle and bite each other: the way his dick definitely likes the vision of Bucky in black leather, the way he knows he can never ask for that, the way his mind overlays this photograph with other more intimate memories. Skin to skin. Bodies pressed against bodies.

His hands on Bucky—on the Winter Soldier, when the Soldier’d looked back at Steve and there’d been such burning anguish in that gaze, recognition like the death of a star, an implosion of certainties and identities—and if Steve could’ve held him then, could’ve kissed him, could’ve moved against him the right way and brought those memories gasping and shuddering and spurting to the surface—

Someone groans, and it’s Steve himself.

Alone in their bedroom, awash with emotions, he presses his hand more firmly against his stiff dick, and he’d swear he doesn’t mean to come but the touch feels so good—he’s picturing Bucky, the Soldier, Bucky, and he’s—

He comes with another shocked low groan, bent over and spilling his release into his sweatpants, hand uselessly cupping himself.

He sits very still for a moment, shaking.

And then he gets up and tidily puts away the box, all those mementos and temptations buried in the closet under a duffel bag or three. He changes clothes, and does a load of laundry, and even does the dishes.

Bucky wanders in while Steve’s elbows-deep in suds, raises eyebrows, and props a hip against the counter, lounging. That smile, the one Steve loves, turns up and tugs at the edge of his mouth.

“So,” Steve says, guilty and in love and stupidly happy, “did you forget how dish soap works or something, because this bowl’s been here for a week, it’s claiming the sink as its rightful territory and starting wars with that fork.”

Bucky grins. “Fork’ll win. More pointy. You know we got a dishwasher, right?” His voice drifts between accents the way it does when he’s not bothered about it: ribbons of Brooklyn, threads of wintry precision, the quiet flexible present-day. His hair’s sliding loose from his bun, tilting over one ear like a drunken halo. His body’s taut and powerful in an old grey shirt of Steve’s and stretchy pink yoga pants with a kitten on one calf.

His thighs look spectacular in those pants, Steve observes.

“I know,” he says belatedly. “Just felt like cleaning up. Clearing my head.”

Bucky tips that head at him. The hair slides downward more. Definitely a halo. The messy disheveled kind, the sort that’d sit well on Bucky Barnes, who’s got a past and scars and healed-over wounds and the world’s biggest bravest heart.

“Secret project not going well?” Bucky lounges more, deliberately so. He’s clearly noticed Steve looking at his thighs. “The one you think I don’t know about?”

“You don’t. You’re trying to get me to tell you.”

“All part of the plan.” Bucky turns that limpid gaze, that transparent innocence, up to eleven. Complete with eyelash-batting. “Covert operative training and all. Deadly. Deadly charming. How’m I doing?”

“Hmm…eight out of ten.”

Eight?”

“Well,” Steve explains, perfectly reasonable, “you’re covered in soap,” and sends a tidal wave of bubbles at him.

Bucky yelps, laughs, and lunges over to retaliate by rubbing his now-wet self all over Steve. Steve has to kiss him, and then helpfully assists in the removal of soap-splashed clothing. They end up mostly naked and laughing.

They tangle together against a kitchen counter, bubbles in Steve’s hair. Bucky’s arms, both of them, loop around Steve’s neck. Steve presses forward, sinks home inside Bucky’s body—open and ready, prepared by fingertips and hasty grabbing of the lube they’d accidentally left out here last time—and catches breath.

This, this: this is everything. This is what he wants. Bucky’s eyes wide and shining and eager, Bucky saying Steve’s name and laughing with giddy pleasure, the scents of lemon and water and a sun-drenched afternoon.

Steve’s heart nearly cracks, or maybe it does crack, then. Too much emotion. Overflowing. But the overflowing pools into the cracks and mends them, making pieces whole.

He’s not worried about being able to come again—superserum aside, he’s got Bucky fucking Barnes in his arms, and how could anyone not rise to the occasion? But something tender and nameless swells and fades, poignant as a bruise, as he thrusts harder and makes Bucky shout his name.

Steve comes at the sight of Bucky lost to unguarded rapture: the shuddering bow of his body, the release of his cock coating Steve’s hand, that open mouth and those wide long-lashed eyes. Steve comes and comes and buries his face in Bucky’s neck, kisses Bucky’s skin, tastes salt and sweat and heat, and wants to melt into the space where he’s given Bucky joy, as Bucky’s hand twines into his hair.

This time he does mean to come. To fill Bucky up with it; to fill all the empty places. Not like earlier. When he hadn’t meant to. He just…

…had. Swept away by the image. The photo. The fantasy. The Winter Soldier, Bucky, responding to him. Steve’s care, Steve’s love, Steve’s hands pinning down those wrists and showing those fierce bewildered eyes nothing but overwhelming pleasure, over and over and over again…

And he can’t not have done it. He can’t not think of it in this moment, now, today, as Bucky practically purrs with afterglow and wraps himself around Steve, feline and flexible and shameless about liking touch. He can’t not think of it while carrying Bucky off to bed for round two, drawn-out and decadent and designed to wring out every drop of ecstasy that Bucky should get to feel.

And he absolutely does not mean to do it a second time, the following week. Or a third.

 

That second time happens while Bucky’s getting coffee with Shuri and bonding over science-geek shared thrills regarding the possibility of levitating sneakers. Steve, back from a few sparring rounds with some enthusiastic volunteers from the Dora Milaje, comes home buzzing with the adrenaline and elation of a good workout. Every atom of his body’s cheerful and humming and weary but awake and alive, remembering sheer delight in its own capabilities, throwing kicks and punches not in deadly earnest but for fun.

He grins at the refrigerator. He grabs water and ambles through the living room, barefoot, having kicked off shoes.

Bucky won’t be home for a while, and Steve won’t disturb him if he’s happy. They’ve got the rest of their lives. Because they have that, now.

Still: he kind of wants to tackle Bucky into bed right this second. All that happiness. Lit up and thrumming.

He heads toward the bathroom and the shower, peeling off his shirt; he runs a hand down to his dick, which is happy too, and he contemplates sending Bucky a picture, but it’s probably not the best timing, so he doesn’t. He’ll just have to tease Bucky with the thought of this later: missing the show.

He’s thinking about Bucky and about getting off in the shower, and he’s got a hand on his dick, pants shoved out of the way, and all at once images slam into his brain—

His hand, yeah, but on Bucky’s dick. Or…

The Winter Soldier’s. Pinned down and kept in place by Steve’s weight, Steve’s hand on those dangerous wrists. Maybe on a helicarrier, fighting transmuted to something else, paradoxically firm and gentle—maybe if they’d had more time, more space—

Steve’s imagination runs ahead. Painting scenes. Vivid and vibrant.

A fantasy, yeah, and in the fantasy the Winter Soldier’s a little injured, a little confused, not enough to be seriously hurt but enough that Steve can hold him down, can take care of him; Steve’s hand slides along clinging black leather and opens up buckles and straps just enough, finding his arousal, undeniable and matching Steve’s own…

Steve, in the fantasy, promises to make him feel wonderful. Tells him that this is them, this is real, this is love. Asks him softly whether this feels good, whether he wants more. The Soldier, hesitant but capable of deciding, gazes at Steve’s hand fondling his hardening cock. Nods.

Steve, standing in their bedroom in the present, inadvertently speeds up his strokes, pumping into his own fist.

He shouldn’t, he shouldn’t, it’s not fair to Bucky, but holy fuck it’s so good and so wrong and so right and he’s so close—

Panting, he makes himself stop, except what he does immediately after is stumble over to the closet and open up that box and drop to both knees there on the bedroom floor, hand back on his dick and working himself hard.

His other hand clutches photos, a knife with a broken tip—the one the Winter Soldier’d tried to put into him on a freeway—and black plastic. Molded. Mute.

Christ. The Winter Soldier’s mask. Under his fingertips.

Steve comes shocked and horrified and unstoppable as a thunderclap, curling in around the shuddering release of it, spurting over his own hand and stomach. He’s picturing Bucky’s wide eyes above that mask, symbol of control and command still in place while Steve lavishes attention upon him, while Steve shows him how good he can feel, what his body can do, surrendered to love and healing, recovering and annealed.

Steve, plastic mask-edges digging into his hand, nearly comes again on the spot.

So maybe it’s not just one time. So maybe he’s definitely into this.

Maybe it’s just a fantasy. Harmless. Part of Steve’s own processing, coming to terms—and Jesus Christ coming’s a hell of an accurate word—with who Bucky’s been. That’s healthy, right?

He’s obviously not about to tell Bucky. No need for those pale happy eyes to carry that weight. No potentially traumatic reminders of the past, and no perceived inadequacies about the present, either. It’s not as if there’s anything inadequate about their sex life. The first cracked bedframe and many sets of thoroughly despoiled sheets can testify to that. At length. With detail.

The image, the fantasy, the rush of headspinning climax: those linger, even as Steve hauls himself to unsteady feet and finally heads to the shower.

He wants this. God, he wants this. He doesn’t know what to do about that, but he knows, he absolutely knows, that even if he never jerks off while clutching the Soldier’s mask again, the dream of it’s not going away.

 

The second Bucky walks through their door, Steve pounces on him. Pins him right back up against that long-suffering door, and kisses him long and deep while getting hands all over him, under fabric, along warm skin and strong thighs, pushing Bucky’s legs wide and finding his cock to rub at and play with.

Bucky, who would’ve instinctively tossed anyone else who’d startled him across the room, just leans back and softens and lets Steve devour him. He murmurs Steve’s name, low and affectionate; he spreads those legs for Steve’s caresses, rough and hasty as they are. Steve tucks his face into the line of Bucky’s throat, and leaves marks like sunrise roses, assertive enough to flower pink across supersoldier skin.

Bucky moans, cock fat and hot and heavy in Steve’s hand; Steve’s barely undressed him, just enough to pull out vulnerable flesh and demand that he feel everything. Bucky moans again, and wetness beads up at the tip; Steve swipes a thumb over it, smearing it around, making Bucky’s whole length slick and shiny as more follows. Bucky’s body always used to be eager, and is again, and Steve wraps the hand around him more firmly, tighter, incontrovertible.

“Jesus, Stevie—” Bucky drops his head back against the door. He’s quivering with want, taut with it, strung tight by Steve’s hands. “Gonna have to leave you alone more often, if this’s what happens—that, do that again, fuck, I’m—”

“You are,” Steve says, “you’re gonna come for me, all over my hand, right here, me makin’ you get off, makin’ you feel so good you just can’t control yourself, you’re gonna come because I want you to and I want to see you feeling good—”

“Jesus fucking—Steve,” Bucky gasps, and does come: helplessly surrendered to it, back arching, orgasm pouring itself out into Steve’s hand in pulse after pulse of euphoric heat. His eyes are huge and a little dazed after, the way he gets sometimes when it’s been really good and he’s lost in sex-drunk rainbows. His cock rests thick and messy in Steve’s grip.

Steve strokes him again. Bucky whimpers.

And then blinks, gaze sharpening a little, though not all the way. “So… ’m I doing something for you? Or did you just feel like being nice to me?”

“I’m not done with you. And you’re doing enough for me.” He leans in to underscore the point, letting Bucky feel his own desire, the rigid weight of his cock. “And that’s a pretty damn blasphemous mouth on you, Buck.”

“Huh? Oh. In my defense, I was kinda distracted.” Bucky smirks, held up by their very patient door and Steve’s hands: one on his wrists, one continuously remorselessly fondling his spent and sensitive cock, which has begun perking up again. “Good distraction. I’d say…eight out of ten.”

“Eight’s a good number,” Steve informs him. “Like the number of times I’m gonna make you come for me, tonight.”

“Now I’m expecting you to live up to that.”

“You know,” Steve says, “how I feel about a challenge.”

 

Bucky ends up not leaving the bed all evening and all night. He comes and comes again, with Steve’s hands and mouth and dick on him, in him, in multiple combinations, teasing radiant overwhelming peaks one after another from his body. He ends up covered in both their releases, sticky and moaning and trembling at Steve’s touch.

Steve holds him, after. Strokes his hair, soothes him, feeds him bites of a sandwich by hand. Kisses the top of Bucky’s head, lips brushing tangled hair, when Bucky nestles into him, trusting and pliant as molten gold.

Steve’s heart feels like gold too. Pooling aureate as the sun.

He traces Bucky’s spine with a fingertip, and gazes at the glint of Bucky’s shoulder: where metal meets flesh. Real and present and tangible. Here with him.

Bucky murmurs something indistinct and holds onto Steve more tightly. Not letting go.

“Yeah,” Steve says softly. “Yeah, I love you too,” and picks up another bite of sandwich to feed him.

 

The hand-feeding gets worked into the next fantasy, of course.

The one after that involves repurposing some of those straps and buckles, transforming them from torture to treasure, looping leather around the Soldier’s wrists and throat as the Soldier whispers, “Yes, Steve, show me,” and Steve does, keeping him lovingly safely restrained, held close and secure.

This way the bondage becomes a promise, shared between them: the Soldier can struggle if he needs to, could fight his way free if he chose to, but while he remains in place he’s Steve’s. And Steve will oh-so-carefully, with single-minded ceaseless devotion, show him everything. Steve can be exactly what he needs.

 

The fantasies can’t last. Steve knows too well how damn fleeting joy can be, and this’s more ephemeral than most: something he shouldn’t’ve had in the first place. He does know.

He doesn’t object when Bucky says that the technicians want him for a few more scans, tests, possible upgrades to the arm and more finely-tuned sensors, and it’ll take all afternoon, most likely.

Bucky gives him a slightly suspicious look. “Normally you get all overprotective and ask if I’m okay having people poke and prod at me in a lab.”

“I’m trying to be better,” Steve says, which is true. “And I figured you’d tell me if you weren’t okay.” This is also true, after some time and some therapy and some practice expressing needs and wants. Bucky’s pretty good about that about ninety-eight percent of the time. The tendency to downplay more important desires—the ones that’d matter, if noticed and wiped away—remains, but at least it’s only a tendency and Bucky does try to work on it.

“I would, yeah,” Bucky says, “but are you okay? Not exactly sounding like the stubborn-ass punk I used to know.”

“I’m trying to be nice,” Steve says. “Not interfering.”

“Yeah?” Bucky raises eyebrows, finishes putting bacon on both their sandwiches, pauses to toss a piece into his mouth and crunch it in Steve’s direction: amused and loving. “How’s that working out for you?”

“Work in progress. If any of your tech guys hurt you I’ll show up and punch a hole in something expensive.” He catches the piece of bacon that Bucky tosses his way and eats it.

He doesn’t say I’d get you out of there first and fast, you know I would, so tell me if you’re hurt, let me be there, let there be something I can do. He doesn’t say please let me save you this time, when I couldn’t and I can’t fix it, when you save me over and over, when this whole goddamn new body isn’t enough and being stubborn isn’t enough and being angry as hell isn’t enough, but in the fantasies, in the dreams of it, I can be, I can rescue you.

He doesn’t say any of it. Bucky doesn’t need a rescuer. Bucky’s done a damn good job of rescuing himself, and if Steve’s helped it’s because Bucky’s wanted that. No taking that away.

He stares at his sandwich. Which Bucky made. For him.

“Hey, Steve,” Bucky says. All solemn, too.

“What?”

“Think they can make it vibrate?” Fingertips wiggle at him. Metal plates gleam and grin. They don’t really grin, of course, being inanimate vibranium. But they do anyway, because it’s Bucky and Bucky’s arm. “Or heat up? Could be fun.”

“Just gonna have to experiment,” Steve manages. “See what you can do. What I can do with you.”

“Steve Rogers and challenges,” Bucky says, and kisses him quick and weightless and easy, leaning in over bread and tomatoes and lettuce and sun-striped countertops. “Sounds about right.”

 

So Bucky leaves for the afternoon. And Steve, the minute he does, heads to that closet and that box.

He shouldn’t. He shouldn’t. But the knife twists and stabs, blade made out of longing and confusion and the heat of Bucky’s kiss. The need scratches along his bones, and draws his balls tighter and ready, and makes his cock swell and throb.

He’s in bed, though he feels indistinctly guilty about that too—as if he’s cheating, though he isn’t—and he’s shoved sheets down and stripped clothes off and spread his legs, and he’s got a photo or two, his favorites, beside him: the Winter Soldier like sharp lethal obsidian in one, all angles and implacable relentless aim at a target, but softer and shirtless in another, a picture that’d been with one of the files. This version of the Winter Soldier looks younger and more vulnerable; not scared and not fragile, not with that visible strength, but gazing at someone out of sight as if trusting them to tell him what to do.

Steve could’ve told him what to do. Steve could’ve taken his hand and taken out every last fucking sadistic bastard in that room, and then tenderly led the Winter Soldier someplace private and secure, a fortress and a haven where he could bar the doors and turn himself into a shield against evildoers.

Someplace where he could lift the Soldier’s chin, and those enormous eyes—Bucky’s eyes, and not—would gaze at him that way, believing in him, allowing Steve to touch him and care for him.

Someplace where Steve’s hands would bring back memories of sensation, and Steve’s mouth and body and, yeah, even dick, would make the Soldier gasp and shiver with delight—always with delight, always with wanting, always with consent, because Steve would be so good at that, so careful, letting him dictate the yes or no—

Steve’s got a hand on the Soldier’s mask. Not the goggles, he’d want to watch those eyes, but the mask—

If they played with that, even that—

The fantasy spins and weaves itself. Steve’s shaking with it, stroking himself, hand moving faster along the shaft, the head, the leaking coiling need that redoubles and sings gut-deep.

He’s picturing a bed. Not this bed, but one like it, an overlap that swirls vertiginously in his soul. The Winter Soldier spread out and waiting for him, masked and quiet, naked otherwise but for black leather at wrists and throat, cuffs and a collar that could break easily but won’t because the Soldier’s wanting this too, wanting Steve, wanting to feel good.

Steve, in the fantasy, comes to him, runs hands over him, chest to stomach to hip. With exquisite care, takes the Soldier’s cock in one hand, kneeling between spread legs. The Soldier’s granite-hard and wide-eyed and silent behind the mask, though his breathing speeds up.

Steve murmurs words of praise, of explanation—this is something that feels good, this is me touching your dick, you see how hard you’re getting for me? Nod if you want more—and the Soldier nods, and Steve touches him more, strokes him more firmly, and suddenly the Soldier’s shaking and spasming in his bonds and coming all over himself, overcome by unfamiliar sweetness. Steve strokes him more and tells him it’s perfect, he’s beautiful, that must’ve felt so good, would he like more?

He knows the Soldier can come again; there’s data on that capacity, though he doesn’t like to think about how it was obtained. But the nod comes promptly, even if those eyelashes’re a bit wet, so that’s a yes; Steve opens the lube that’s in his other hand—doesn’t matter where it came from, it’s a fantasy—and slips his hand back and finds that tempting luscious rosebud opening, just beginning to tease and play and rub at that hole, and the Soldier moans, muffled by the mask—

Steve, in the bed, spills lube across his own hand, across his stomach, in his haste for slipperiness, for the fantasy playing out.

He’s slipping fingers inside, he’s feeling the hot clamp of the Soldier’s body around him, he’s imagining his cock sinking home there too as those huge eyes focus only on him and the Soldier opens up and yields for Steve, for the person who’s given him this pleasure, who’s saved him—

And Steve’s so fucking close, he’s going to—

The front door opens. He hears it.

He freezes. Heart catapulting into his ribs.

He hasn’t even shut the bedroom door. Not expecting anyone.

It’s someone who has the access code, so not an intruder, but someone who might come in unannounced as a surprise or just to fuck with him—could be Sam, Natasha, hell, even T’Challa, but he can’t think of a reason why any of them’d show up this second—

His shield’s out of reach. He’s naked and covered in lube and frustrated as hell and he’ll damn well drop-kick an interrupting villain in the fucking face if he needs to.

“Steve?” Bucky. That’s Bucky’s voice. “So, funny story, they hit something that did make the whole thing vibrate, some leftover connector or whatever crap Hydra hid in there, and it didn’t hurt, I’m fine, but it felt weird as fuck and the feedback blew out one of the monitors and they said to come back in a day or two—Steve? I know you’re here, those’re your boots by the door and I can hear you breathing hard.”

Steve slams a hand across his mouth. Tries not to whimper. Hand off his dick, scrabbling to shove photos away—but Bucky’ll hear that too, enhanced senses and all—

Bucky appears in the doorway. He’s wearing the same jeans and grey t-shirt and cozy dark blue hoodie he’d thrown on to head down to the lab; he’s holding his arm a bit gingerly, as if annoyed by it.

He’s beautiful. Steve wants to run over there and kiss him, to take some of that weight, to knead muscles that’re likely sore from involuntary spasms no matter what Bucky says.

Steve’s currently naked and half-hard in bed with a hand clutching the forgotten Winter Soldier mask, with photos tumbled across the sheets around him.

Bucky’s mouth drops open. Bucky’s eyes get huge: blank with shock, then stormy with too many emotions, rampaging in too fast to follow.

“Buck,” Steve scrapes out, a snapped thread trying to span a sudden chasm, “I—”

Bucky holds up a flesh-and-blood hand.

Steve, for maybe the first time in his life, shuts up when he should.

“Okay,” Bucky breathes, more to himself than to Steve. “So that’s…a thing.”

Steve scrambles up: onto knees, off the bed, a step in Bucky’s direction—

“No,” Bucky says. “No. I—I just—I’ll come back. I swear. But, Steve, I have to—I can’t think about this here, now, I don’t know—I can’t—” and he’s taking a step back, and his face is pale, and the look in his eyes is—

“Bucky,” Steve chokes, pleads, stumbles over. Hands held out. Lube on them. Christ. He yanks them back. “I didn’t—it wasn’t—it’s about you, it’s saving you, it’s—”

“I’m not leaving you,” Bucky whispers, “I’ll come back—” and runs.

Literally. Boots almost noiseless, the way the Soldier can move, the way trained sniper Sergeant Barnes can move. Out the door before Steve can eke out another syllable.

Running from Steve.

Of course he is. Of course.

Steve takes a step back. Then another. Then he sits down on the bed. He can’t think, either.

He can’t grab onto anything solid. Concept and syllables whirl like snowflakes in a blizzard, and they melt when he tries to catch them, one by one.

No plan. No strategy. Nothing to fight or punch or lead a team against. Only his own selfishness.

After a while he cleans himself up, mechanically, because he knows he should. He shoves everything back into the box, also mechanically, and leaves it sitting near the closet but in the open. He doesn’t know what to do with it. It should be Bucky’s to decide.

He sits back down on the bed.

 

Some time after this, well into the evening, the door opens again. “Hey,” says Sam’s voice, followed by Natasha’s “Steve?”

Steve doesn’t have the energy to answer. So they come into the bedroom anyway, and consider him. The head-tilts are eerily similar, and mildly exasperated.

“Go away,” Steve says.

“Not gonna happen.” Sam waves at the living room. “We brought pizza.”

“Why?”

“Because you’d sit here all night if we didn’t feed you.” Nat comes over to his side. “Up, Rogers, or I’ll make you move.”

“Why,” Steve says again, but lets this threat work, and gets to his feet. “What’re you two doing here, anyway?”

“Bucky,” Natasha says, which is not entirely helpful, and glares at him until he takes steps toward the smell of pizza.

“What she means is,” Sam clarifies, “your murder-kitten other half texted us both and told us to come check on you. He also says it’s not your fault that you have a thing for shirtless pics of him, which, I don’t want to know, but he thinks you need to hear it.” His eyes find Steve’s; they’re calm and gently questioning but not pushing, in the way of someone who knows about gallows humor and high-wire balancing acts.

“It is my fault,” Steve exhales, fails, confesses. “I—I—you don’t fucking know what I did, Sam—”

“Whatever it is,” Natasha says, materializing at his shoulder again, “he thinks you’re worth taking care of. So we’re doing that.”

“Is he—he texted you—” Not Steve. The knife from earlier stabs deeper. Skewered on red-hot metal, Steve can’t shape the sentence. “He’s—he’s okay, right, I didn’t—”

“He says he’s fine. And yeah, we know where he is, he told us, he didn’t go far, just needed some space.” Sam shrugs. “You get that. We all do. And him more than most of us. Thought you’d ask where.”

“Not if he doesn’t want to tell me…”

“Said we could if we both decided you needed that, but I think you can handle this.” Sam shrugs again. “So, pizza and a movie? We’ll even let you pick.”

“I have veto power,” Nat puts in.

“Yeah,” Steve says slowly. Bucky sent them; Bucky’s willing to see Steve if Steve needs that. Whatever’s happening, it’s maybe not as bad as he’s picturing. The knife retreats a fraction at this.

And right now he can do what Bucky wants. So he says again, “Yeah. Okay.”

 

Later that night, much later, Steve’s lying on the couch and staring at the ceiling. Sam and Nat have long since left; Steve had implied he’d go to bed soon also and rest and not stay up flaying his nerves to shreds with possibilities. Hadn’t been an outright lie.

He can’t go to bed. Not their bed, where he’d hurt Bucky—

Even more than that, he doesn’t want to lie down amid their pillows, their sheets, where they’ve laughed and come together and woken up together, and be alone.

He’s got a blanket and he’s shoved a pillow under his neck. He tries shutting his eyes. Morning’ll be stampeding in too soon. A morning without Bucky. He’d thought he’d lived through enough of those.

He’s trying not to think about that. He’s trying not to imagine.

He’s trying so hard that he only barely registers the feather-light motion at the window, the shape slipping inside.

He bolts upright, but Bucky’s hand’s already on his chest, catching him, arresting the reaction. They sit face to face for a second in shadows, night like gossamer and cobwebs around them.

“Hey,” Bucky says. He’s still wearing the same hoodie. “What’re you doing, Stevie, come on, come to bed with me.”

“Bucky,” Steve breathes.

“Told you I’d come back. I just needed to think about it. We’ve got a perfectly good bed, y’know. Don’t let it be lonely.”

“I can’t—how—how’s your arm? You said something went wrong, earlier—at the lab—”

“My—? Oh, right. Fine.” Bucky holds up that hand, waves it: a demonstration, absurdly paradoxical and perfect, vibranium under a cozy hoodie. “All back to normal, or whatever counts as normal for us these days. I was just over at the old goat-herder’s hut, out back in the grass, if you were wondering. Since you never asked. Steve—”

“I’m sorry,” Steve says, plain and simple and broken in the night. “I’m sorry.”

“For what? Come on.” Bucky grabs his hands. Tugs. “Gotta have you keeping me warm, right? Can’t sleep as well without you.”

“…you can’t?”

“Well, yeah.” Shapes surround them, indistinct and familiar as memories. That sofa, that table, a bookshelf. Stories, and stories. Bucky squeezes Steve’s hands. “But you know that. Or do I need to tell you again?”

“Maybe you do,” Steve says. “I’m still not getting it. Kinda slow over here.”

Bucky cocks an eyebrow at him. “Guess I always was the smart one.”

“Jerk.” It’s that or cry.

“Hey,” Bucky says again. One hand—the metal one, soft as healing—touches Steve’s cheek. Extra gleam catches a wayward scrap of moonlight, after. Water in the dark. “Love you, punk. Haven’t hit the end of that line yet.”

“I love you, Buck,” Steve says right back, “no end to that,” and holds Bucky’s hand, holds Bucky, as they strip off clothing—not for sex, maybe not ever again for sex, Steve doesn’t know, but Bucky wants to be naked and Steve won’t argue—and fold themselves into bed and into each other.

 

Steve wakes up in slow buttery morning sunshine to an absence of Bucky, and his heart shakes like a New York City jackhammer, but then it skips and settles. Bucky’s not gone, only not in bed, and Steve knows this because the closed bedroom door opens just enough for Bucky’s head to appear and admonish, “Quit worrying, Stevie.”

“I am not,” Steve says.

“Give me two minutes exactly,” Bucky says, “then come out here. Got it?”

“Pretty sure I can count to two. What—”

“Surprise.” Bucky’s head vanishes. Steve sighs, stares at the door, glances at the clock. Feels the anticipation start to rise. Hints of balloons and fireworks. Lifting some of the heartache out of the way.

Bucky loves him and Bucky’s here with him. They might still need to talk, but they’re doing fine. No end to that. Right.

Glancing around, he notices something else. That box has moved. The box.

His stomach twists.

But Bucky hasn’t said anything about it. So that means…

Steve doesn’t know what that means.

He gets up. He pulls on a loose pair of navy-blue pajama pants, not sure whether Bucky wants him dressed or undressed, not wanting to make assumptions. He counts seconds in his head.

He opens the door. He steps out to the living room.

The Winter Soldier, sleek and deadly as a knife carved from feral obsidian, turns toward him from the window.

Steve freezes.

That is the Soldier, that’s cool confident training in that body, that’s black leather and loose hair and black mask and tense posture, ready to fight—that’s not Bucky, who smiles at goats and settles his head into Steve’s lap for hair-petting—

Steve’s shifting into combat stance without thinking. Barefoot and shirtless and figuring out how best to start swinging. He can’t, won’t, hurt Bucky—but he can’t let the Soldier hurt anyone else, either—

Must be his fault. Somehow. Something he said, something he did. Some kind of trigger. He’s sick with that knowledge.

He manages, “Buck, it’s me, it’s Steve, do you know me…” and hopes like hell the answer’s yes, because he’s not sure he can survive another stab-wound to the heart.

And Bucky, combat boots bathed in sunshine, yanks off the mask and says, “Sorry, sorry, Steve, it’s me, I swear,” and they stare at each other for a minute.

Steve finally asks, weakly, “What?”

Bucky crosses the room. Right in front of him. Touchable. “Figured I’d do something nice for you.”

Really not getting it this time.”

“You want this,” Bucky explains, as if it’s crystal clear. “You want to save him. Me. And then fuck me. Him. This version of me. I get it, y’know. I mean, I do look pretty damn hot in the deadly assassin BDSM outfit.”

“Bucky,” Steve says. His legs’re shaky. His heart’s shaky. He’s back to being fifteen years old and feeling asthma claw at his lungs, unless that’s just his crush, the hopeless one he’s been nursing for years with regard to his drop-dead gorgeous and funny and intelligent and loyal only friend.

Hopeless is not a word he wants to think right now.

“I mean I do get it.” Bucky’s smiling, lopsided and rueful. His eyes are serious. True as stars. “I had to think about it for a while. Sorting out how I felt. But it makes sense.”

“What does?”

“You.” Bucky pokes him lightly with the hand holding the mask, then steps even closer; Steve automatically puts arms around him. Bucky finishes, “It’s you, Steve, of course you have damsel in distress rescue fantasies about the world’s deadliest ghost story. You would. Saving everybody. And, fuck it, I love you, and I love your goddamn stupid heart, so, okay. I’m in.”

“You don’t have to.” Steve’s aching and needing and hoping and wanting and scared and, fuck, getting rock-hard at the thought. Bucky. Bucky in that outfit. Bucky doing this for him. Bucky loving him. “You don’t—you shouldn’t have to put yourself through this, I—”

Bucky shrugs without moving much, encircled by Steve’s arms and the morning. “Not just doing it for you. Maybe I like the idea. Catharsis or whatever. Or I just like you taking care of me.”

“I…can do that.” He moves a hand, brushes hair out of Bucky’s left eye. Bucky doesn’t flinch, only smirks at him, though those eyes remain steady. Steve, buoyed up by that steadiness, says, “You’re sure.”

“About trusting you to save me? Yeah, Steve, I’m sure.” Bucky does a small eyebrow-wiggle at him, ridiculous and beautiful all at once. “If something doesn’t feel right I’ll yell, um, cabbage, probably, at you. Sound good?”

“You never did like it…yeah. Okay, yeah.” Steve straightens shoulders. “Okay. So what’d you have in mind?”

“I was thinking I’d just tracked you back here and snuck in through the window and you woke up and found me. And I want you—I do know what this body wants, or kind of, I don’t have a name for it and I don’t know exactly what to do about it, so orders help make it clear—and you’re gonna help. Y’know, whatever you were thinking about.” Bucky hoists the mask, doesn’t quite snap it on yet. “You can take it from there. I’ll follow your lead. Steve?”

“Yeah?”

“You know you can…y’know. Cabbage. That’s for you too.” Bucky’s grin’s still there, loving and fierce and committed, etched with knowledge of the wounds and dark spots they both might have to sidestep once in a while. “Just making sure you got that.”

Steve leans in and down and kisses him, then. Fast and deep and glorious. Full of everything that’s too much to say. Hands squeezing Bucky’s ass for good measure.

Bucky’s breathless and a little sparkly after, eyes and cheeks bright, lips parted and soft. Dick noticeably hard under all the leather. Good.

“Okay,” Steve says. The anticipation’s back. Gold-laced and giddy, it scampers along his veins. It stiffens his cock and laces his spine. His hands tingle with the feeling of Bucky’s ass. “We got this.”

 

In the liquid flowing gold of the morning, they do have this. Together.

Because the Winter Soldier’s slipped through Steve’s window and is standing there quiet as a blank love-letter, erased or not yet begun but full of unvoiced words. Because he turns to Steve, head lifting, mouth hidden behind that mask.

“Hey.” Steve keeps his voice low. Soothing. “You found me.”

The Soldier hesitates.

“You’re not here to hurt me,” Steve says. “If you were, you’d be trying to. You saved me in the water. You followed me here. Do you need help?”

The Soldier touches the mask, pauses; Bucky’s voice sneaks in to ask, “Do I?”

“Maybe a little? Not like you’re hurt. Cold, maybe. Hungry.”

Bucky nods; the Soldier says, “Condition…functional. Not optimal. I require…assistance.”

“I’d like to help.” Steve holds out both hands. “Get you warmed up. Fed. Taken care of. You’ll be safe here, I promise.”

“You wanted to save me,” the Winter Soldier says. “Steve Rogers.” He puts a hand into Steve’s, trustingly.

“Come on,” Steve says. “I, um. I think my bed’s a good place for you. Nice and warm.”

Bucky’s eyes glitter with suspicious laughter, but he doesn’t break character. Steve snorts, says, “It’s a fantasy, shut up,” and leads the Soldier back to their bedroom. “Here, let’s get you out of the outfit…it’ll help, it’ll mean we can warm you up, being naked in bed.”

Bucky kind of looks like he wants to laugh again, but then he gets quiet. Steve pauses, hands resting over buckles and straps, but Bucky doesn’t say anything else, so they’re okay.

He undoes a buckle, a fastener. Slides leather free. Glances up at Bucky’s face.

Oh. Huh. Good kind of quiet. Good to know.

And the thing is, that good kind of quiet’s echoed in Steve’s chest. In Steve’s gut. In Steve’s arousal, which if anything has gotten more insistent, stabbing upward in his pajama pants. But also in his hands. His hands, lovingly tenderly resting over Bucky’s—the Soldier’s—body. Undressing him, revealing him.

He says, “This is good, this is me taking care of you, you just stay still and let me help, understand?” The Soldier nods. Bucky’s definitely turned on, Steve observes; the evidence is visible and matching Steve’s own.

He makes sure to stroke a hand over it, deliberately non-sexual and faux-accidental, while undoing Bucky’s pants. Bucky makes a small bewildered sound and rocks hips forward.

“Oh,” Steve says. “Does that feel good? I want you to feel good, so you have to tell me. This’s about taking care of you.” He peels the Soldier’s layers away, piece by piece; the Soldier, naked and exposed, trembles. Steve’s left the mask on; he touches it now. “Here. I’ll take this off for you. I’m not going to hurt you, I’m helping you, all right, sweetheart?”

Bucky—and that is Bucky, suddenly—blinks and shivers, mouth free. His eyelashes are damp. Steve hadn’t expected that. “Bucky?”

“I—” Bucky shakes his head. “Nothing. Go on.”

“That’s not nothing, Buck.”

“It feels good,” Bucky whispers. His voice sounds younger, small but clear. “I—I like this. Jesus, Steve. You’re good at this.”

“Just taking care of you.” Steve sets the mask down on the closest bedside table. “The way I want to. The way you need it. Because you need me to help, to make you feel better.”

“I need—” The Soldier, back in the role, fumbles over words. “Something—I need to feel—my body requires something, it hurts, it feels conflicting sensation—”

“Conflicting?” Steve says.

Bucky wakes up enough to shrug. His eyes look a little extra-dark, a little hazy. “I knew how to use my dick, okay? Some missions needed seduction tactics. But they’d wipe a lot of that after. I couldn’t remember what I liked. And I was trained to ignore nonessential needs. So I’m going with confused and it kinda hurts but in a good way, y’know? Go back to what you were saying. I like that.”

“Who says you’re in charge? Okay, okay. Shh, you’re all right, I can help. I know how to make it better.” He coaxes the Soldier into the bed. Gets him nice and comfortable. Then hops up and fusses with the temperature, making it warmer. The Soldier watches him silently.

“Actually,” Steve decides, “you stay right there, for now. I’m going to get you tea. Something hot. And maybe some food.”

Bucky raises an eyebrow, but the Soldier nods. “But I—this feeling…”

“Hmm. You want to try something? Start feeling a little better? It won’t be enough, I’ll have to help, but you can get started.”

The Soldier nods again. Steve sits down beside him. Takes his closest hand, which is the right one, and guides it gradually to the Soldier’s dick, which is proudly upright and flushed and already leaking a little at the tip. “Here.”

He presses his own hand over Bucky’s, and strokes. Slow and firm, showing him how, because he doesn’t seem to know and is clumsy at first. Showing him that little rub under the head that Bucky likes, the pressure of a thumb, the finding of rhythm.

Bucky’s breath shudders. More wetness slicks the tip.

“Yeah,” Steve says, “just like that, keep doing that, okay? Does that feel better at all?”

“Better…yes…”

“I’ll need to help you more, you’re going to need a lot of taking care of, but you can keep doing that for me, for now, sweetheart.” He cups Bucky’s balls briefly before getting up. Bucky’s eyes are huge and getting more distant, clouded by pleasure. His mouth’s fallen open. He looks absolutely wonderful, lost in the discovery of sensation.

Steve smiles, feels the sight lance through his heart like a knight’s jousting tip, and carries it with him as he goes to make tea.

He’s quick about it, and comes back with some blueberries and some dark chocolate truffles as well. Bucky’s right where Steve left him, propped up against pillows, knees bent, hand moving continuously between his legs. His cock’s fat and shiny and dark with need; he’s whimpering quietly, stroking himself. He looks up at Steve dazedly.

“Oh, you’re doing so well,” Steve tells him, praises him, promises him. “So good. Are you feeling good?”

“Yes,” the Soldier whispers. “But I…I think…I need more help. Can you help me?”

“Of course,” Steve says. “That’s what I’m here for.”

He gets the Soldier to sit up a little more, cradled in his arm. He gives the Soldier a sip of tea, and then another. “That’s good for you, too. Getting you warm inside. Do you want more?” It’s a calming lemongrass and spearmint blend that Bucky likes.

The Soldier nods and opens his mouth for more sips. Steve gives them to him, holding the mug to his lips. Not too fast. Measured. Taking care.

He feeds the Soldier a few blueberries, a few bites of chocolate. He lets his fingers linger: brushing Bucky’s mouth. The Soldier trembles; his hand tightens on his poor unrelieved cock.

“You trust me,” Steve says softly. “You came to me. You know I’ll take care of you, keep you safe, make you feel everything nice, the way you deserve. You know that, don’t you?”

“I know that,” the Soldier repeats. His voice is getting closer to Bucky’s, but also not: somewhere in between, shaped by the role-play and the past and the present and the submission. Steve knows Bucky likes being claimed and made love to and belonging to Steve in general; this is getting further than that, though. It’s pretty impressive, and Steve’s kind of wanting to just shove him into the bed and plunge into him and fuck him while he’s like this, soft and malleable and sweet, but Steve also should probably check in.

He taps an index finger over Bucky’s lips. “Buck? Still not anywhere near the vegetables?”

Bucky makes a confused noise, then surfaces from rainbows enough to figure it out. “So far away. What’s the opposite? Chocolate? Fuck, Steve. My head’s all…feels like I’m floating.”

“That’s good, right?”

“Hell yes. Might not be able to talk much more. Really fuzzy in here. But in a good way, I swear. Like you’re everywhere, and all I’ve got to do is just listen to you and you’ll take care of everything, and it all feels weird and soft and bright inside…like flying, maybe. I don’t know.” His voice sounds half tipsy now. Soft and bright there too, blurred with rapture.

“Sounds good to me,” Steve says. “You’re so good. And that’s all you need to do. Just let me take care of you. Let me help you. And you’ll be safe, and you’ll feel so good, and I’ll love you so much—” His own voice cracks, then. Unexpected. A fracture. A fault-line surfacing.

He breathes, “I do love you, and you’re worth saving,” and touches fingers to the Soldier’s mouth again, pressing inside, as the Soldier gets what’s expected and licks and suckles at them, lips and tongue caressing Steve’s skin.

“That feels nice, doesn’t it? Having your mouth full?” He kisses the top of that head. The Soldier moans, mumbles, mouths at Steve’s fingers. “I like you being full and warm. Tea, good chocolate, a nice soft bed…nothing that’ll hurt you, not with me here. I won’t let you be hurt.” Never again. Not ever. He’ll throw himself between this man and the death of the universe.

Bucky whines raggedly, mouth occupied, hand twitching on his cock. He’s leaking so much now that it’s smearing his hand, his stomach, everywhere.

“Did you want to say something, sweetheart?” Steve moves the fingers. “Go on. Talk to me.”

The Soldier whines more, squirms in Steve’s hold, sobs, finds words. “I don’t—I don’t know—you can help with the—not hurting—but this does, I am hurting, please—”

Steve considers this. “You want me to help you out right now? Make it better? I’m still going to have to do more. Show you how the other places can feel. When part of me fits inside you.”

Bucky sniffles a bit, nods, requests, “Please help me.”

“Okay,” Steve says. “Here, I’ll show you how to do this. You’ll feel better when it happens, I promise.” He sets his hand on Bucky’s cock; he pauses, grabs Bucky’s sticky hand, pulls it lower, gets Bucky to fondle his own balls, discovering them as well. “You can play with those. That’ll feel good too.”

Bucky moans. Steve begins to stroke him harder, faster, jerking him right to the edge and making it a bit rougher; Bucky’s always liked being manhandled, too, even back when Steve was tiny and sassy and assertive. Always worked for them. Still does.

He checks Bucky’s face, assesses closeness—damn close—and speeds up and does that little flick of thumb over the head, and Bucky just about screams; Steve suggests, “You’re feeling it, aren’t you? You can have it, just let it happen, let it go, let it out for me, it’ll feel so good, you’re so good, sweetheart…”

And the Soldier wails, a wordless desperate cry of bewildered ecstasy and submission, and his back arches, and he’s coming.

He comes in hot white pulses that stream and stripe them both: Steve’s hand, his own stomach, his chest. He’s shaking and dazed and sobbing with bliss; his hand’s still caressing his balls because Steve never told him to stop, and he collapses into the bed as the aftershocks roll through his body.

“Shh,” Steve says, “shh, you’re all right, you’re feeling so good, aren’t you?” and bends down to lick at one of the white splashes on Bucky’s chest, fascinated. Bucky twitches in place, panting, so Steve licks his cock too, to taste him and to make him writhe blindly under this attention.

Bucky’s delicious. As usual. Heat and maleness and ocean-salt and a hint of sweet; Bucky’s always been on the sweeter side, and Steve’s always loved the taste and feel of him. Bucky’s cock’s thick and heavy against his tongue, against his mouth, when he kisses it.

He sits up. He gathers up both of Bucky’s slack hands, kisses them too—lips over skin, over metal, and he loves them both—and guides them to the mattress above Bucky’s head. Bucky’s pretty out of it, letting out tiny dazed sounds, head lolling to one side. Steve stops to tap him on the cheek. “Tell me how you’re feeling. It’s an order if you want.” Bucky’d said that made things more clear.

“I…am…” Bucky’s someplace between cotton-candy clouds and the role-play, and has to struggle for words. Oddly, he seems to relax into the Soldier’s response when he finds it, as if the order’s an anchor. “I am feeling better. It is…I want…this feeling is pleasurable. I would like more…help.”

“Told you we weren’t done.” He does ask, lips nuzzling Bucky’s jawline, “You still up for that, Buck?”

“Help me more,” Bucky says drowsily. “Please. I feel safe with you.”

“Okay, then.” He kicks off his own sweatpants, not without getting briefly stuck. He tosses them someplace. He’ll clean up later. “You know how you just felt? You can do that another way, from inside. It’ll feel very good. It’ll feel good for me, too. You want to try that?”

“Yes.” The Soldier watches him, watches Steve’s dick bob free, watches Steve notice the watching and give himself one leisurely pump into a fist, putting on a show. “You are…experiencing the same feelings…and I can assist you.”

“If you want.”

“I would like that,” the Soldier sighs, earnest and come-splashed and so good at heart, here in their bed. “Show me how.”

“That’s the plan.” They really do keep lube everyplace, especially on the bedside tables. This one’s expensive and slick and clear as glass, painting Steve’s fingers. He kneels between the Soldier’s thighs, strokes himself with it, strokes a hand along one leg. The Soldier spreads them wider for him.

“Have you ever made yourself feel good here?” He moves the hand, finds that luscious pink hole, rubs fingers over the furl of muscle. “Do you know how this feels?”

“I…do not recall.” The Soldier’s eyelashes flutter: down and up. His cock’s stirring feebly; he’ll be getting off at least one more time, before Steve’s done. “Familiar…but I have no data…”

“But you’re pretty sure you’ve done it.” He pushes in. One finger. Then two, because Bucky’s body’s lax and pliant and accepting. “So I’ll show you how this feels with me. It might be strange, but it’s just another way of taking care of you, understand? Taking care of both of us.”

“Yes,” Bucky murmurs. That may or may not be in character; he’s visibly drifting. Caught up in command and control and dissolving of self into pure sensation.

Steve crooks the fingers inside him. Right there—

Bucky groans, shudders all over—a delicious rippling and clenching of muscle—and curls fingers and toes. “That—feels—”

“See? Taking such good care of you. The way you deserve, sweetheart.” He does it some more. Bucky quivers in place, hips rocking helplessly as Steve’s hand teases that spot inside him, cock firming up more.

“There you are,” Steve tells him, “all ready for me,” and slips fingers out and himself in. All the way. One long plunge. Buried to the hilt.

He can’t move for a second, overwhelmed. Bucky’s body grips him, hot and slick; Bucky’s spread out before him, beneath him, his Soldier and his fantasy and all the matching pieces of Steve’s jigsaw-toothed stubborn spiky-edged soul. Bucky’s given him this.

Bucky’s making incoherent sounds, not words, hands remaining obediently in place. His whole body clenches, tightens, clings to Steve inside him. His face is wet.

“Bucky,” Steve whispers, “I love you, and I’m going to make you feel so good,” and moves.

The bed holds them both. The morning’s luminous as a sunrise, the wild riotous kind, outlined in fuchsia and marigold and summer sapphire. Bucky moans and the world sings and Steve slams harder into him, getting closer to him, atop him, bodies entwined.

Steve’s not gentle. He’s forgotten to be. But the Soldier doesn’t mind, and they’re moving together and Bucky’s cock’s up again and hot and eager between their bodies, and Bucky’s leg loops around Steve’s back; Steve demands, “You’re gonna—feel that—again—gonna let it go, let it come—from this, just like this, getting filled up like this, filled up and taken care of—” and pounds into him, finding that place again, knowing Bucky’s body the way he’s learned it, with such love.

Bucky cries out, high and shattered. His cock jumps; his body tenses. And he’s coming again, spilling himself untouched, eyes wide and faraway among coruscation.

Steve groans as the sight hits him. The great diamond wave of it crests and breaks and floods, and he empties his release into Bucky, spurt after spurt of it.

He falls down atop Bucky, after, too wobbly to stay up. He kisses Bucky’s tear-streaked cheeks, closed eyes, soft parted lips. They’re both messy and sticky. He doesn’t care.

He disentangles himself eventually. Bucky’s in no shape to contribute to clean-up; Steve laughs, sighs, lets the emotion shape itself like stained glass: a cathedral window, maybe. A place of worship.

He cleans them both up as best he can with a warm towel and water and gentle nudging into less sticky places in bed. Bucky exhales, mumbles something that’s still not words, and then, “Steve…”

“Right here.” Steve doesn’t mind having a hip in a lube-splashed spot. They’ll shower anyway, and better him than Bucky. “I’ve got you.”

Bucky makes a vague satisfied sound and settles, not asleep but floating in that worn-out euphoric space. Steve holds him.

The morning unwinds, gold and clear.

 

Bucky stirs after a while. Steve stops guiltily napping and shoots to vigilant attention. “Buck? Hey. How’re you feeling?”

“Jesus Christ,” Bucky says, which isn’t an answer. “Ten different kinds of wrung out and spun back together. What the fuck, Steve.”

Okay, that’s an answer. Sort of. “Is that…good?”

“Fuck yes.” Bucky actually puts both hands over his face, laughs into them, drops them. He’s been lying on his side, tucked into Steve’s arms; they’re face to face. “Your fantasies are…a hell of a lot, punk.”

“Wasn’t sure you’d be into it,” Steve admits, because he’s truthful here; he can’t be anything else in this moment with the man he loves. “Thought I’d fucked us up kinda bad. Maybe for good.”

“Told you I wasn’t going anywhere.” Bucky tilts a tired happy eyebrow at him. “Stuck with me and my brainwashed assassin head. Which you like, ’cause you’re a dumbass martyr, so we’re awesome. Seriously, though. Was that what you had in mind?”

“Even better.” He moves a leg, discovers that Bucky has chilly toes, plops a calf over them. “How do your toes still get that cold? They always have. Even when we were kids.”

“What even,” Bucky says. “I totally have normal person temperature toes. And I can kill you with them if I want to.”

“Bet you could. Death by icicle.”

“Shut up and warm me up, then.”

“Seriously…it was incredible for me.” He’s nose to nose with Bucky; their eyes meet. “Thanks.”

“Thank you, I think. ’M still all…” Bucky wriggles against him. “Fizzy. Soda pop. Tired soda pop. Holy fucking fuck, Steve. I love you.”

“So it was good.”

“So good. Might need you to help me out again sometime.”

 “Huh,” Steve says. “Really? I mean…yeah, sure, whatever you need, Buck.”

“You can tell me about some of the other versions. I know you got a few in that artist’s head. Setting up scenes, telling stories.” Bucky waits a beat, ends with, “Saving me.” The words are warm, a zephyr, and they rest comfortably in the unfolding day.

“I do have a present for you.” Bucky’s toes are getting less frozen, under Steve’s leg. Success, then. “Might’ve been sketching you. Being happy. With goats. I’ll get it for you in a minute. How’s your arm?”

“Fantastic, like the rest of me. When were you drawing me and Steven Goat Rogers?”

“Seriously? Come on, Buck—”

“Stubborn like you, too. I like you drawing me. I always did. Always do. Didn’t think you did it much, anymore.”

“I felt like it.” Steve holds on a little tighter. Draws a heart, lopsided because of the angle, over Bucky’s bare back. “Watching you. Next time…maybe I was thinking about all that leather. Finding a new purpose for it. Something good. Around your wrists, maybe. Your throat. Like…making it about us. You. Mine, so I can take care of you.”

“Knew you had more.” Bucky wiggles the toes under Steve’s leg, not trying to get away, evidently just to feel the weight. A stripe of sun’s escaped their closed bedroom shades. It lands across his shoulder, and multiplies out to decorate the world. “Looking forward to seeing what else you’ve got planned.”