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Cake Walk

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This was possibly Steve Rogers’ favourite thing in the whole world to do – the tiny, intricate details, like hand-painting the fine shading on the fondant roses decorating the top of the wedding cake and cascading down over the four tiers. He must have rolled hundreds of these flowers by hand for this cake alone, all of varying size and shape, but each one completely perfect. They had to be perfect, because Steve expected no less from himself.

The cake was magnificent – four tiers of round sponge, filled with his speciality strawberry crème and iced with smooth rose-pink fondant and decorated with over one hundred hand rolled, hand finished white fondant roses. It had taken Steve two whole days to make, with a little help from his business partner, Peggy.

Peggy Carter was a gem. A lovely English Rose, Peggy had moved to New York and attended the School of Pastry and Baking Arts at the same time as Steve. She had been the toughest baker there and Steve had liked her instantly, admiring the way she out-baked everyone and took crap from nobody. These days, Peggy was living in the tiny apartment next to Steve’s above the Brooklyn Bakery and helping him run the business. Peggy’s speciality was pastry, and she made the most delicious Danish and the most spectacular choux that Steve had ever tasted.

Steve on the other hand had always been fond of cakes, which people always found bizarre with him being so skinny. Honestly though, the cake thing was the least that people found bizarre. Steve was…well, Steve was tiny as well as being skinny – he was barely five-feet-five-inches tall and was plagued with more than his fair share of health problems such as asthma, anaemia, a heart murmur and was easily fatigued. Sometimes he wondered if Peggy stuck around more to make sure that Steve didn’t work himself into an early grave than because she liked him. Steve would shrug when Peggy chided him for staying until two in the morning to finish a wedding cake and she would tell him that it was a good job that he was too stubborn to let it kill him.

He delicately dabbed a little blot of gold leaf into the middle of a white fondant rose and tried not to let his hand wobble in surprise as Peggy suddenly stuck her head out of the office and called to him.

“Ten minutes, Steve,” she said, glancing at the delicate watch on her slender wrist.

“Okay,” he replied, nodding slightly as he smoothed the gold leaf down with a tiny brush. He was almost finished anyway.

Besides the daily baking and the decorating of cakes, Steve also had to deal with customers. He wasn’t terrible with customers, but Peggy was better – they all expected the beautiful Englishwoman to be the creator of the many-tiered masterpieces that stood on display in the bakery window and were all taken aback when Steve appeared from the back room, usually dusting his hands off on his apron and neglecting to realise that he had fondant on his nose or something.

Today, he had a wedding planner dropping by to take a look and book a cake-tasting. Steve had only been informed of this earlier that morning by his other neighbour, Natasha.

Natasha and Sam had been his neighbours and friends for years, since Steve had opened his bakery and moved into the apartment above it. Natasha had already been living in the apartment to the right and she had immediately become one of Steve’s favourite people. She was smart and funny in the most dry and sarcastic way, and she had zero tolerance for bullshit.

Sam moved into the apartment on Steve’s left several months later after the old Jewish lady who had lived there for years was finally convinced to move in with her son’s family. Sam was an ex-soldier with an easy-going attitude and just the right amount of sass to counter Natasha’s snark. He had a huge heart, was generous and kind and had an infectious smile.

The two had started dating after a month and hadn’t made it to the end of the year before Sam had moved into Natasha’s apartment, and they were the most perfect match that Steve had ever encountered. He was gobsmacked but thrilled to hear of their engagement.

He had been over at their apartment for dinner with Peggy, just putting the finishing touches to dessert when Nat had announced it.

“Say that again…” Steve had said, shaking his head slightly because he was quite sure that he had misheard what Natasha had just told him.

“Sam and I are getting married,” she repeated.

Steve blinked slowly, his jaw dropping a little.

“Are you actually serious?”

Natasha turned to her fiancé and raised an eyebrow.

“Why is it so hard for people to believe that we’re getting married?”

“Probably because you’re a big tough cookie who don’t need no husband cramping her style,” Sam replied, grinning adoringly at her.

A grin of his own slowly spread over Steve’s face as it dawned on him that his friends were definitely not teasing him this time. Natasha had thrown a marshmallow at Sam and made Steve laugh.

“Oh my God, this is amazing! I’m so happy for you both!”

They had asked him that night if he would make their wedding cake and he had agreed immediately, What they had failed to mention until a few days later, was that they were wanting to get married quickly – no point in a long engagement, apparently. Steve had three months to come up with a concept and design that would suit them both.

Nat had also apparently hired an old friend as her wedding planner, and it was that friend who was supposed to be arriving in ten minutes time. Ten minutes was enough time to finish the gold leaf, right?

~

Bucky had not been in this part of Brooklyn for years. Truth, he was a Brooklyn boy born and bred, although these days he looked more Upper East Side with his Tom Ford suit and Gucci shoes and the only giveaway to his roots was his accent, evident the second he opened his mouth. He felt a little out of place walking the streets here these days, since most of his clientele were decidedly not Brooklyn-type people, but Natasha was an old friend and he had been more than enthusiastic when she’d asked for his help in planning her wedding.

However, he was now wandering past the tiniest bakery in the world and having serious doubts about Natasha’s taste. When he’d asked if she had any preferences about flowers or cake or bands or venue, she had left everything to Bucky’s own discretion, except for the cake which she insisted came from Brooklyn Bakery.

Bucky walked past it and pulled out his phone from the inside jacket pocket, dialling Nat’s number.

“Are you one hundred percent sure you want a cake from this bakery?” he asked as soon as she picked up.

“Yes,” Nat answered decisively.

“Because I know a couple of nice bakeries in Manhattan,” Bucky continued. “I’ve used them before, I can get a discount, they’re reliable…they’re not likely to give your guests food poisoning…”

“James,” Natasha said reproachfully. “The baker is my friend and we’ve already agreed that I’m getting my cake from here. All I need from you is to share some of your ideas about colour schemes and shit, and book a cake testing session.”

Bucky’s mouth twisted sulkily. Natasha was about the only friend who ever called him James. He was and always had been Bucky to everyone else, except in a professional setting. His clients always referred to him as James.

“Fine,” he answered. “It’s your funeral. I mean, wedding.”

He sighed as Natasha hung up on him and he walked back to the tiny, slightly ramshackle bakery. Some would call it quaint – Bucky thought it was a downright health hazard, from the flaking paint on the windowpanes to the weather-faded, hand-painted sign over the door. You could probably catch hepatitis from a place like this.

Bucky stopped to look in the window and view the goods on display. One window held freshly baked pastries and cakes that actually looked crisp and fluffy and shiny with glaze. In the other window sat a small selection of wedding cakes, and this was when Bucky finally started paying attention.

The first cake was wine-red - Bucky had never seen fondant in this colour before, so smooth and matte and rich like velvet, decorated with emerald green leaves and spatters of gold. Another cake was a rainbow of ruffles, all perfect pastel shades that melded so effortlessly into each other that you couldn’t pinpoint where one colour ended and another began. The final cake was more traditional, with glossy white fondant, but it was covered in beautiful iridescent butterflies that could have been made from spun sugar. They were all incredibly beautiful and creative, and suddenly Bucky was more than a little intrigued and excited to meet this mystery baker.

Straightening his tie, Bucky turned the door handle and stepped in to the Brooklyn Bakery. There was nobody at the counter, and a quick glance around convinced Bucky that, despite looking a little grubby on the outside, the place was completely spotless inside. It was looking more promising by the second.

“Hello?” he called.

There was a noise in the back, something like the scraping of a chair leg across the floor, a small bump, a loud curse being uttered and then somebody appeared. Bucky was not prepared for what he saw. The guy who hurried out of the room and into the main shop was small and stick-thin, collarbones very prominent beneath the collar of the plain sky-blue button-down he was wearing, sleeves rolled up to reveal delicate wrists and long, slim fingers that were covered in gold leaf. The face was angular and there was a splodge of rose-pink fondant on his sharp cheekbone. His hair was straw-blond, sweeping over his forehead and dusted with confectioner’s sugar, but it was the eyes that made the breath catch in Bucky’s throat – light blue and framed with the longest dark eyelashes that he’d ever seen on man or dame. Bucky would be damned if the guy wasn’t the cutest darn thing.

“I’m sorry about that,” the guy muttered, trying to wipe his hands clean on his apron and failing miserably. Bucky had expected his voice to be higher, not anywhere near as deep as it actually was. “I was just finishing a cake…I lost track of time….”

“Its fine,” Bucky replied, the corners of his mouth beginning to quirk upwards. The little guy’s beautiful blue eyes lifted sharply from where they had been fixed on his apron and narrowed slightly as he looked at Bucky standing in the middle of the shop floor.

“I…er…I’m sorry, I was expecting somebody else,” he said, confused. “Can I help you?”

Bucky grinned and held out his hand.

“James Buchanan Barnes. I’m Natasha and Sam’s wedding planner.”

The little guy’s jaw dropped slightly for a split second, before he caught himself and shook the proffered hand.

“Steve Rogers,” he replied, a little taken aback. “I’m sorry, I was expecting…”

“A dame?” Bucky finished the sentence with a grin. “Yeah, I get that a lot. That’s what happens when you don’t conform to traditional gender roles.”

A smile slowly spread across Steve Rogers’ face and it was like the sun peeping out from behind a cloud, all bright and warm and beautiful.

“Well, I think I know a bit about that,” he replied.

Bucky’s grin widened. After a few more seconds, he realised that he still hand Steve’s hand clasped firmly in his own. He remembered to breathe and let go, reaching for the leather bound folder that he hand tucked under his right arm.

“Uhm…yeah, well…” he said haltingly as he unzipped the folder and took out a couple of cuttings. “Nat asked me to drop by and exchange some ideas. I don’t really have much yet – she kinda sprung it upon me.”

“I know the feeling,” Steve replied with a small smile as he took the cuttings gently between his long fingers.

“Has she given you any ideas about what she wants?”

“Not really,” Steve answered with a shrug. “I think she’s happy to just leave it up to us, to be quite honest.”

“Okay,” Bucky replied, glancing back at his folder. “Well, Nat’s always been kinda tough to decipher. I was thinking to just keep everything simple. Like, not really traditional as such, just…not fussy. Elegant, but…”

“Not ostentatious,” Steve finished for him.

“Exactly!” Bucky smiled.

“I’ll see what I can come up with,” Steve replied, looking down at the cuttings in his hand. They were just photographs of varying cake shapes and styles. Steve knew instantly that he could do so much better.

“Thanks,” Bucky answered with a grin. “I really love the one in the window with the butterflies. They’re beautiful – so intricate.”

Steve looked up at him and smiled his sunshine smile again.

“Thank you,” he replied softly.

Bucky reminded himself once more to breathe.

“Anyway,” Bucky said, “can I leave you my number? In case you have anything you need to run past me? We can arrange a cake tasting for sometime next week, maybe.”

“Yeah, sounds good to me.”

Five minutes later, Bucky left the Brooklyn Bakery feeling like he was walking on air.

God damn it Natasha, he thought. You didn’t tell me that the baker was totally adorable.

Chapter Text

“Steve?”

Peggy’s head popped out from behind the office door again, her brown eyes taking in the sight of Steve standing stock-still in the middle of the shop and staring at the door.

“Steve?” she repeated. “Is everything okay?”

Steve blinked slowly as if coming out of a trance. That had been real, hadn’t it? The man who had just been in the bakery – the one in the sharp suit with the dazzling smile and the gorgeous eyes and hair that Steve could happily bury his hands in – he had been real, yes?

“I’m fine…” he managed, glancing down at the cuttings in his hand. Well, those were real at least.

“Has the wedding planner been yet?”

“Been and gone, I guess,” Steve replied, finally turning to look at her. Peggy’s face fell.

“Oh, Steve!” she exclaimed. “There is a reason I give you a ten minute warning! You’re supposed to stop what you’re doing and wash up – make yourself look relatively presentable for meeting the people seeking your custom.”

Steve looked at his flour-specked shoes and ran a hand over his hair ashamedly, white confectioner’s sugar falling to the ground in a flurry.

“I lost track of time,” he shrugged. “I just wanted to finish the last couple of flowers.”

In truth, Steve had been so carried away with dabbing gold leaf in the middle of the fondant roses that he’d failed to hear the door open, getting the shock of his life when he’d heard somebody calling out and falling off the stool he’d been standing on. He’d cracked his elbow and hoped his swearing hadn’t been audible from the shop floor.

But Steve had not expected, when he finally got his act together and looked up, to find that the wedding planner he’d been expecting was, first of all male, and second, possibly the most gorgeous male he’d ever set eyes on. James Barnes was tall with broad shoulders, dark hair and gray-blue eyes that crinkled at the corners when he smiled, and the broadest Brooklyn accent that rivalled Steve’s own. He’d made a mental note to yell at Natasha later for not giving him fair warning.

“Well, did they at least book a date to come in and try some cake?” Peggy asked, reaching over to wipe the smudge of fondant from Steve’s cheek.

Steve gave her a small smile and waved a small business card.

“I got his number,” he replied. “He said to call and arrange something for next week.”

Peggy took the card, read the name, eyed Steve closely, and then handed it back.

“Well,” she said lightly. “Just make sure you do. We don’t want to let him get away, do we?”

Steve raised an eyebrow and inwardly cursed the flush he felt creeping up his neck.

“And what the hell do you mean by that?” he called as Peggy turned and breezed away.

“Nothing at all Steve. Nothing at all.”

~

Sam was cooking as usual, being the perfect Domestic God that he was, and Steve was sitting at their dining room table, nursing a very large glass of wine and trying very hard not to think about certain wedding planners with great hair and gorgeous eyes. Sam was deliberately trying not to say anything, glancing at him occasionally over the enormous pan full of chilli on the stove, and Steve silently thanked him for that. He didn’t really want to tell the story twice.

There was a sound of a key in the door that heralded Natasha’s return.

“Hey fellas,” she called, stripping off her jacket and dropping her keys in the dish on the table by the door. “How are my two favourite boys tonight?”

“Oh I’m just peachy,” replied Sam cheerfully. “But I think Steve has a bee in his bonnet about something.”

Steve glanced up at the mention of his name.

“Oh?” asked Nat, her eyebrows arching as she moved into the room. She gave Sam a kiss on the cheek and then reached for the wine bottle and a glass. “What’s bothering you, Stevie?”

Steve inhaled deeply through his nose and sat back in his chair, looking from Nat to Sam, and then back again.

“I met your wedding planner today.”

“Oh, how did that go?” Nat replied brightly.

“Fine, fine,” Steve said casually, “Except for the couple of things you forgot to mention.”

“I’m guessing this bit is that part that’s been bugging him all evening,” Sam said as he looked at his fiancée.

Natasha’s mouth quirked up at the corner briefly.

“What’s that, Steve?”

Steve took a large gulp of wine and swallowed it before taking a deep breath.

"You didn’t warn me that, a) your wedding planner was a guy, and b) that guy was…"

”A tall, dark and delicious cut of prime Brooklyn beefcake?” Sam finished for him.

"Exactly," Steve replied, holding his glass up to Sam in a salute. “I was in no way near prepared for the amount of high class gorgeous that was standing in the middle of my bakery today, and I looked like a goddamn mess. I had sugar in my hair, I had frosting on my face and I had gold leaf on my fingers – I don’t even want to know what he thought of me!”

Sam and Nat exchanged glances and grinned at each other.

“He probably thought you were damned adorable!” Sam replied, his smile wide and toothy, and Steve just knew he was picturing the hot mess that had been Steve Rogers, walking out, covered in crap.

“He probably thought I was trash!” Steve countered. “No fucking thanks to you two assholes, not giving me fair warning!”

Natasha was laughing by this point, leaning heavily on Sam who had a hand covering his mouth and desperately trying to keep in his giggles.

“Oh my God!” Nat gasped. “Next time, wash your damn face, Rogers! Unless you want him to suck the fondant off!”

Sam snorted.

“That might not be all you’d want him to suck off…” he said, which caused Natasha to double over as a fresh gale of laughter hit her, and that was when Sam caved and dissolved into giggles next to her.

“I hate you both,” Steve grumbled, raising his wine glass to his lips again and feeling his cheeks heat up, but he was smiling by the time it was lowered again.

~

“You are an awful person. Why am I even your friend?” Bucky said into his phone as he walked to his apartment the next day.

“Because I’m amazing and you love me,” Natasha replied smugly.

“You’re damn right I do Duchess, or I swear I would drop your ass for not warning me about Steve the Baker.”

Bucky could almost hear Natasha grinning on the other end of the line.

“I totally knew you’d like him.”

“Ah, and I totally know you sent me there on purpose because you also know that I have the biggest thing for blue-eyed blonds.”

“He’s cute though, right?”

Bucky huffed.

“Yeah, Nat. He was adorable, all covered in sugar and frosting, but Nat? Bad plan.”

“Why is it a bad plan?” she asked.

“Because,” Bucky sighed, “I have to maintain a professional relationship, and I can’t do that if I’m thinking of being on my knees in front of that lil’ frosted cupcake and him gazing down at me with those big baby blues. I’ll never get anything done!”

Natasha snorted.

“You don’t have to co-ordinate much with him James. You’ll see him for maybe like an hour every couple of weeks for ‘business’. Just ask him out.”

“Maybe after your wedding,” Bucky said firmly as he reached the door of his apartment and fished in his pocket for the door key.

“James…”

“I can’t, Nat! Seriously, if I need to work with him, I can’t be trying to date him at the same time.”

“I’m so disappointed in you,” Natasha replied sullenly.

“Yeah, well,” Bucky replied as he turned the key in the lock and opened the door. “Life’s full of disappointments, Princess. Get used to it.”

~

Bucky had no idea how difficult it was going to get to NOT think about Steve Rogers in that way.

He had received a phone call from a girl called Peggy who was apparently Steve’s business partner and he had booked a time slot to go back to the Brooklyn Bakery and try out some cake samples. Bucky hadn’t managed to convince Natasha or Sam to join him, both claiming that they were too busy and that they trusted Bucky and Steve to make the right choice between them.

So Bucky found himself back at the bakery the following week, smoothing his hair down by his reflection in the window before he walked in, the little bell tinkling merrily above the door. Steve Rogers appeared instantly and Bucky couldn’t stop the grin that appeared on his face. This time, Steve had made himself look presentable, which was slightly disappointing because Bucky had thought Steve’s messy artist look had been the cutest thing, but at the same time Steve was looking mighty adorable with his freshly scrubbed face and clean, combed hair.

“Hey!” Steve greeted him, sunshine smile spreading across his face.

“Hi,” Bucky replied cheerfully. “I hear you have some cake or me to try?”

“Yeah. It’s in the back here, all set out for you.”

Steve turned on his heel and walked back behind the counter, Bucky following him automatically into the little work room. It was pretty much like every other bakery workshop he’d ever set foot in, but somehow so much neater. Everything seemed to be tidy and ordered which surprised him, because Steve himself seemed to be the opposite.

The cakes were on small plates, each with a fork sticking in the top and lying on the top of the table that had obviously just been scrubbed clean. Bucky slid into the chair at the table and set down his binder gently, surveying the goods.

“These all look good,” he mused as his eyes passed over the selection. It wasn’t extensive, but that was probably best, because it meant less to narrow down. Steve obviously already had an idea of what his friends liked. “So…what should I try first?”

Steve had been leaning against the counter, skinny arms folded over his chest. His shirt today and a white and blue plaid that brought out the colour of his eyes and the sleeves were rolled to the elbows again, showing off his delicate wrists and long fingers. Bucky tried very hard not to think about those fingers and their dexterity.

“I’d start with the peanut butter fudge,” Steve replied, indicating the plate on the right, nearest to Bucky. “And then maybe the chocolate peppermint.”

Bucky raised his eyebrows and reached for the fork, digging in to the gooey cake. The second it hit his tongue, Bucky was overwhelmed by sweet stickiness, not too sickly with just the perfect amount of nuttiness on his palette. His eyes flickered shut involuntarily.

“Oh my god….that is delicious,” he muttered around the mouthful.

Steve beamed at him.

“You think?” he replied. “That’s one of Sam’s favourites. I don’t usually include it in a wedding cake selection, but I made an exception this time.”

“I can see why,” Bucky replied, swallowing the cake and taking a sip of water from the glass that sat next to the plates. The chocolate peppermint was also spectacular – moist chocolatey sponge with a smooth peppermint crème filling that just melted on his tongue.

The other selections included lemon (which was Bucky’s personal favourite wedding cake flavour of all time), a plain vanilla with the most deliciously smooth whipped cream centre, and the Brooklyn Bakery’s speciality cake which was a light pink strawberry sponge with a soft strawberry crème filling – it tasted like summer and love.

“These are all just….so amazing,” he said around his second mouthful of lemon cake. “How have you done this? I usually always have a clear favourite, but I just can’t pick one here.”

Steve looked down at his feet bashfully, his cheeks turning the same colour as the strawberry sponge as he squirmed with pride.

“Well…there is one you haven’t tried,” he murmured, blue eyes raising slowly to fix on Bucky’s face. Bucky swallowed his cake hastily.

“Yeah?”

Steve grinned and pushed himself up from the counter and held up a single slender finger.

“Just give me one second.”

Bucky’s eyes followed Steve as he crossed to the large refrigerator and opened it, taking out yet another small plate.

“What’s that?” Bucky enquired.

“Something new I’ve been working on,” Steve replied, carrying the plate to the table and taking off the plastic wrap that had covered it. Taking a clean fork from a drawer, Steve stabbed the unassuming cake and shuffled a piece onto it before leaning forward across the table and holding the fork out in front of Bucky’s lips.

The earth slowed down for a moment. Steve with his flushed cheeks and proud smile, perched on the edge of the table and leaning over it. Bucky could see his collarbones under the open neck of his shirt, so fragile under his creamy skin. His eyes flickered back up to Steve’s face, the blue eyes looking at him with a slightly mischievous glint as he held the cake-laden fork out. Slowly, Bucky leaned forward and opened his mouth, allowing Steve to pop the cake delicately between his lips.

The taste as it hit his tongue was almost orgasmic – it was passion fruit, sharp and tangy against the smooth vanilla sponge and the soft crème. Bucky groaned loudly and closed his eyes, savouring the explosion of flavours in his mouth as he ate.

“Oh fuck, that’s good…” he breathed.

“You like that?” Steve replied softly.

“Mmm…” Bucky confirmed, opening his eyes slowly.

Steve was looking at him with slightly parted lips, closer to him than he had been before. He was beautiful, delicate like porcelain and Bucky might have stopped breathing for a second or two, because it would have been so easy to lean forward just a little bit more, close the gap and kiss those sharp collarbones peeking out from under that shirt…

“Is it hard?”

Bucky started, his thoughts interrupted by a cool voice with a clipped English accent. Steve sat up abruptly and his flush began to extend down his neck and over the small visible patch of chest as he swiftly slid from the table and retreated to the corner. Bucky’s eyes snapped to the woman standing in the doorway. Peggy Carter, he presumed.

“I beg your pardon?” he managed to croak, hoping to God that he had misheard, because shit, he might just have been a little too turned on than he should have been by the tiny blond baker and his beautiful features.

“The cake,” the woman clarified. “Is it hard to make a decision?”

“Oh!” Bucky exclaimed. Slightly flustered, he sat back in the chair and tugged at his collar. “Uh…well, it was until I tasted the passion fruit crème. I think we’ve hit on a winner with that one.”

Peggy beamed at him.

“Excellent!” she exclaimed happily. “Steve has been working hard developing that one. I think you’re the first to try it.”

“Great,” Bucky managed, his composure returning quickly. Steve was occupied with something on the workbench, back to him. “Sam and Nat will love that. We’ll go for it.”

Steve turned back to face him, slightly less flushed than a few minutes before. He gave Bucky a small smile.

“Okay,” he said. “Are you any further forward with colour schemes or ideas?”

“Er…no. Not yet. I mean, I think we’re going to go with green because it’ll best suit Natasha’s colouring, but I’m not much closer with shades yet.”

“That’s fine,” Steve replied mildly, shrugging his skinny shoulders. “Just let me know when you have something.”

“I will,” Bucky grinned.

Exiting the Brooklyn Bakery a short time later, Bucky allowed himself to swear loudly, startling a small old lady who was passing him at the time. The last thing he needed was to develop a strong sexual attraction to this cute little baker guy. It was so fucking unprofessional. He was fighting a losing battle.

Chapter Text

Steve looked decidedly unimpressed as aggressively measured out butter and sugar for an entirely new wedding cake while Peggy just grinned at him from the doorway.

“That really wasn’t funny,” he said tightly.

“Oh come on, Steve!” Peggy replied with a small laugh. “It was hilarious. I’d bet my super-secret flaky pastry recipe that he was rock solid under that table. I mean, did you fail to notice the way he was looking at you?”

Steve frowned – he had most certainly not failed to notice the way James Barnes had looked at him. That’s the reason why he was so annoyed.

He had been determined to make a good second impression on Natasha and Sam’s drop dead gorgeous wedding planner and had spent a decent amount of time getting ready for their appointment. He had washed his face and combed his hair and changed his flour-covered shirt to a clean one and had determinedly set aside all baking equipment so that he wouldn’t be tempted to tinker while he waited.

James Barnes had arrived right on time in yet another pristine suit and immediately Steve’s stomach had turned to butterflies at the strong jaw and the disarmingly charming grin. The butterflies had just got more agitated from then on out, because Steve could not tear his eyes away from James’ mouth and the way those full lips closed around each fork had he tasted the cake samples Steve had set out. He had to remind himself to keep breathing more than a couple of times.

Steve had never received such enthusiastic praise for his baking either – everyone agreed that his cakes were pretty good, but nothing made his heart glow like the way James beamed at him when he told Steve how delicious he found each mouthful, the way he had eagerly went back for seconds. Steve’s self esteem had been boosted significantly and he knew that he’d flushed with pride.

But the reason that he was so upset with Peggy, is that, after all this, she had completely ruined a moment.

Steve had felt bold enough to let James try his newest cake creation, and had seized the moment with both hands as he personally placed a forkful of cake between those sinful lips. It had possibly been the most erotic moment of Steve Rogers’ life so far – James’ eyes fluttering closed, long lashes dark against his skin, the soft groan from the back of his throat, the way his breath caught in his chest. Steve had felt his body moving forward, drinking in every movement until James had opened his eyes and looked right at him, gaze dropping to Steve’s mouth, his throat, his neck. There was a tiny dot of passion fruit crème on his top lip and all Steve wanted to do was close the gap between them and lick it off. James probably would have let him do that too, because he was looking at Steve as though he was the tastiest confectionary in the place, tongue darting out to wet his bottom lip…

And then Peggy Carter, in all her wisdom, had come out with that line. The moment had been well and truly ruined and Steve had skulked away, his pants feeling a little too tight and his body far too hot.

“Yeah, I might actually have had a chance at getting laid for once if you hadn’t said it,” he groused, turning the mixer on at the wall.

“Oh, don’t be so melodramatic, Steve!” Peggy cried in exasperation. “It’s unhygienic to shag in the kitchen anyway. Besides, he was absolutely in to you – it’s not like you won’t get another chance to jump his bones.”

“I hope not,” he grumbled as Peggy turned on her heel and walked out. He flipped the switch on the mixer and it whirred noisily as it worked to bind the butter and sugar together.

“And wear a damn mask when you measure out the flour,” she shouted over her shoulder. “I am not taking you to the E.R again because you accidentally inhaled it like a twat!”

“Yes, Boss!” Steve yelled back, practically punching the off switch on the mixer.

He adored Peggy Carter, but sometimes she drove him up the wall.

~

Bucky was about to beat somebody’s brain in.

He’d been here for an hour with the bride arguing with her mother about their preferences on the colours of the bridesmaids’ dresses, whilst two carrot-topped teenage girls stared on in horror. This was probably the only part of wedding planning that Bucky hated. Some women turned into Bridezilla, some of them were poor meek little wallflowers who just stared at the floor whilst their mother dictated everything, but sometimes you ended up with both – the controlling bride AND the controlling mother. Right now they were fighting over which colour would look best on the two teenagers, and Bucky thought both colours were very wrong on the girls, but everyone had their hearts set on pink.

Bucky rubbed the bridge of his nose and stood up, forcing his way between the two warring women.

“How about,” he said loudly, talking over both, “we go for the rose over the fuchsia? Both are beautiful, but I think that the rose might compliment the girls’ complexions better, yeah?”

The twins both gave him eternally grateful looks whilst the bride ‘hmph’d triumphantly and her mother glared at him. He didn’t give a crap anymore. Bucky sent the store assistants off for the correct sizes and herded the girls into the dressing room just as his phone rang in his inside jacket pocket. He sighed as he read the display and moved away from the bridal party as he picked up the call.

“Hey Duchess, what can I do for you?”

“Not much, just catching up. Whatcha up to?”

“Well,” he said, casting a glance in the direction of the still-bickering women. “I’ve just broken up an hour long fight over whether the bridesmaids’ dresses should be fuchsia or rose. Now personally I think they should have gone for pistachio, but since that’s never going to happen I’ve managed to convince them to go with the rose. Fuchsia should be reserved for women with beautiful dark, almost ebony skin…not pale-ass white girls with orange hair.”

“Yeuch!” Nat answered. “Sounds fun.”

“Totally.”

“You pick my cake yet?”

“You know I have,” he replied with a grin. “You definitely have great taste in bakers – those samples were delicious.”

“The question is James, do YOU have great taste in bakers?” Natasha drawled.

Bucky groaned and ran a hand through his hair.

“We’ve been through this already, Nat!”

“Oh come on!” Natasha replied. “You like him! I know you like him, you’ve admitted as much! What harm will one teeny tiny date do?”

He sighed gently. Honestly, one date with Steve Rogers wouldn’t do any harm, except that Bucky wouldn’t just want one date. He’d want several dates and then he’d want to bring Steve home with him, and he’d want to wake up the next morning with his arms around that skinny little body and make Steve breakfast in the morning. Which would all be fine, except for the fact that Bucky knew he’d be thinking about doing all of those things whilst trying to work, and past experience has taught him that it was a bad idea to mix business with pleasure.

Bucky paced the waiting area and absently leafed through some flyers on the coffee table. One of them caught his eye and he fished it out of the pile, peering at it closely.

“Natasha, I’m gonna have to call you back,” he said.

“James, stop avoiding…”

“I’m not avoiding anything,” Bucky replied cheerfully. “I just, y’know, have wedding planning to do. Bye, Princess!”

He cut off the call along with Natasha’s protests and stared down at the flyer in his hand. Suddenly, he had the most wonderful idea for Natasha and Sam’s wedding cake.

~

Steve was lost in his own world, covered head to toe in confectioner’s sugar once again as he rolled out a large round of fondant to cover the large bottom tier of cake. It was soothing, the repetitive action of rolling, turning, rolling, flipping, rolling again, pausing only to dust the workbench down with fine white sugar powder every so often. He liked it – it gave his mind a rest from all the crap that usually went through it.

The bell of the shop door tinkled cheerfully and Steve frowned, putting down his rolling pin and moving to the door of the workroom.

“Hey…”

James Barnes was standing at the counter, looking every bit as gorgeous as he had the previous day and grinning widely at him. Steve’s breath caught in his chest in surprise.

“Hi…” he managed. “I wasn’t expecting you.”

“Sorry about that,” James said apologetically. “It’s just that I was with another client earlier and I found something that gave me some serious cake inspiration. Mind if I come in?”

“Sure,” Steve replied, stepping back to allow James to walk past him. “I’m afraid it’s a bit of a mess – there’s fondant everywhere…”

“It’s fine.”

James smiled at him warmly as he found a spot on the workbench that wasn’t covered in sugar and put down his ever-present binder, opening it up and removing a slightly crumpled flyer. He turned to Steve excitedly.

“Okay, so you know that Natasha is Russian and her last name, when it’s not anglicised is Romanova? Well, it’s a long standing joke that she’s really Russian royalty, and then earlier today I spotted this and thought ‘what could be more perfect for our Russian Princess, huh?”

Steve took the flyer from James and peered at it closely – it was advertising the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, which was a peculiar thing to find in New York, but that wasn’t the interesting thing about the flyer. The interesting thing, was the photograph on the front showing one of the prize exhibits. Steve looked up at James, a smile slowly spreading across his face.

“A Faberge egg.”

James’s bottom lip snagged delicately against his teeth as he grinned back.

“Perfect, yes?”

Steve nodded, his brain suddenly filling with a million ideas. He swiftly handed back the flyer and dug his hands into the deep pocket of his apron front, digging out the small sketchbook and pencil that he kept there. He hastily wiped down a space and opened the book on the bench.

“We said elegant, but not ostentatious, right?”

“Right,” James replied, moving to stand at Steve’s shoulder, looking down as Steve started to sketch out a couple of ideas.

“We’re gonna need a couple of tiers…” Steve murmured, pencil dancing lightly over the page, “…maybe three…and on the top we’ll put…a little stand…and sit the egg in there…”

“I know I said green, but…now I was thinking perhaps blue?” James said. “Not anything too bright or too deep. More like a duck-egg blue?”

Steve nodded and made a note on the page next to the sketch.

“Can I keep that flyer for reference?”

“Sure you can, Steve.”

Steve put his pencil down and looked at him, grinning,

“James, this was just the best idea. It’s perfect for Natasha and Sam is gonna love it too.”

James looked at him for a second, head slightly tilted to the side.

“Bucky,” he said finally.

“Pardon?”

“Call me Bucky,” he repeated. “Only clients and Nat ever call me James.”

“Oh,” Steve said softly. Bucky actually suited him better than James. “Okay.”

They looked at each other, still grinning and Steve could feel his heart beating too fast once again. It really wasn’t good for a guy with a heart murmur to have his pulse race – his heart could literally skip a beat and it already felt like it skipped several of them when Bucky was close by.

It almost stopped altogether when Bucky’s hand reached out and smoothed an errant strand of Steve’s hair back with his index finger. A flurry of white powdered sugar fell to the floor.

“You had something in your hair,” Bucky said quietly, hand lingering just a second longer than it should have before he lowered it to his side.

“Thanks,” Steve breathed. At least he was still breathing, but only just.

The air in the room seemed too close, too warm, and Bucky was looking at him again, grey-blue eyes darting all over Steve’s face. Bucky opened his mouth as if to say something and then clamped it shut again, like he’d thought better of it and changed his mind. He took a step back from Steve instead.

“I should let you get on,” Bucky said, picking up his binder from the bench and throwing Steve a charming, easy smile. “It was real nice seeing you again, Stevie.”

Steve felt himself glow at the use of the pet name.

“You too, Bucky,” he replied with a small smile. “I’ll let you know when I have some better designs to show you.”

Bucky stopped in the doorway and turned, his eyes giving Steve’s whole body the once-over.

“I really hope so,” he murmured before smirking and carrying on his way.

Steve was left clinging to the bench for support and breathing heavily. That one had definitely happened – Bucky Barnes had most definitely been checking Steve out.

It took a moment for him to gather his wits before he could scoop up his sketch book and reference material and move them away from the sugar. He was going to need Peggy’s help with this as usual.

Chapter Text

Steve might not have made it through baking school if he hadn’t met Peggy. He had never been a healthy person, born with several physical disabilities as well as developing a lot of ailments on the way. One of the things that made his life kinda difficult on a day-to-day basis was the fact that Steve was colour blind and suffered from Deuteranopia - part of the red-green spectrum. It was one of those things he hadn’t really wanted many people to know, a thing he tried to hide, but it really stopped him from doing a lot of things that others take for granted. Steve’s world was many shades of white, brown and blue and he’d never know any different.

One of the worst things about it, at least for Steve, was that he’d been artistically talented from childhood, and although his pencil and chalk drawings had always been highly praised, he had been told that all of his colour choices were better suited to surrealism. He didn’t realise that skin wasn’t supposed to be sepia-toned, and that the paint he had used was blood-red and not flesh-coloured. It had made Steve miserable not to be able to branch beyond graphite, so after accepting that he’d never make it as a regular artist, he had tried his hand with his second love.

As a child, Steve had spent many afternoons, home sick from school and bored out of his mind, baking with his grandmother whilst his mom worked her shifts at the hospital. Granny had taught him her best recipes and Steve’s favourite part had always been piping the icing on the top of the cakes. Baking quickly became Steve Rogers’ newest obsession and he would practice as often as possible – being colour blind didn’t seem to matter so much in this discipline. Except, when Steve had gone to baking school, he’d found that colours were actually integral.

Peggy had first realised Steve’s disability in their second week of baking school when they had been sharing the same workspace, cracking eggs to make custard. Steve had turned to her and asked if one of the yolks was a different colour brown to the others - Peggy had raised an eyebrow and answered that it was orange whilst the others had been yellow. Steve had looked at his shoes, embarrassed, but Peggy had never made fun of him.

Instead, she helped him devise a method of telling one colour from another using the tones that he could see. Together, they had clearly marked and labelled all of his food dyes and categorised them so that he could easily find the shade he needed. Peggy had spent many long nights with Steve and colour charts and mixing bowls and reference pictures so that Steve could learn to tell the difference between leaf-green and grass-green without actually being able to discern the colour green at all. These days, Steve was an expert at seeing everything in varying shades of blue and brown and recognising that something was supposed to be red or green or pink.

However, Steve wasn’t too sure on what ‘duck-egg blue’ was - the colour Bucky had suggested for Natasha’s wedding cake - and so he once again had to rely on Peggy Carter’s excellent colour vision to help him recognise and mix the exact shade that he needed. She was in the office as usual, being the better of the two of them at administration, and Steve knocked gently on the open door, cuttings in hand.

“Do you have a minute?”

Peggy smiled at him beautifully.

“For you Steve? Always.”

He smiled back.

“Bucky Barnes just stopped by again…”

“Oh did he?” Peggy interrupted, grinning mischievously. “Was he after more of your passion fruit crème?”

Steve snorted and shook his head.

“No, but he did have some ideas about Nat and Sam’s wedding cake.”

“Oh!” she replied, suddenly all business as she rolled her chair back slightly and held her hand out for the notebook that Steve was clutching.

He explained to her the idea of the Romanov Faberge egg sitting on the top of three tiers of duck-egg blue cake, and Peggy printed out several palettes that incorporated every blue described as ‘duck-egg’, and they both poured over them, Steve’s finely tuned tonal ability picking out the minute shade differences in each of them until they both agreed on the perfect shade.

Steve had to admit that he was excited for the whole venture, and that Bucky’s idea had been nothing sort of genius. He wondered how a guy like that got into wedding planning of all things. Bucky Barnes was the epitome of masculinity – strong jaw, dimpled chin, broad shoulders, and what Steve could only guess was a body to kill for under the perfectly tailored suits that probably cost more than Steve made in a month. He seemed to be very smart and successful, and not at all the type of person who would willingly spend their days up to the elbows in fabric samples and menus and table linen choices and name-place cards and wedding dresses.

He wanted to know more about him. Steve didn’t want to just be content with trying not to drool every time the guy stopped by the bakery – he wanted to get to know him, learn more than just his name and his occupation. And then Steve remembered who he was – a skinny baker who spent his days covered in flour and frosting, and was plagued with about a million health problems. Despite the fleeting moments they kept having together, he was sure that Bucky Barnes would never be genuinely interested in Steve Rogers.

~

Bucky’s workout sessions with Clint were more a force of habit than something he particularly enjoyed. They had been going to the gym together for years now and Bucky usually used it as the opportunity to burn off all the extra calories from the sheer amount of wedding cake he sampled on a weekly basis, and to annoy Clint with details about his chaotic love life.

He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Steve Rogers, the pint-sized baker who was commissioned to make Natasha’s wedding cake. When Bucky had first seen him, he had thought that Steve had been adorable, all covered in sugar and frosting – a bright, blue-eyed mess. And then he’d gone to the cake sampling and his tiny little crush had turned all the way up to maximum.

The kid was a baking genius – seriously, the samples that Steve had given him were possibly the best he’d ever tasted, especially the final concoction of vanilla and passion fruit that Steve had personally fed to him, those long slender fingers wrapped beautifully around the fork. The amount of times that Bucky had thought about slowly sucking passion fruit crème from those fingers, to watch Steve’s beautiful blue eyes flutter closed and see the hollow at the bottom of his throat bob delicately as he swallowed…well, let’s just say that the daydream was starting to really affect his work days.

He was pummelling one of the punch bags in the gym, trying to work out a little bit of his sexual frustration as he talked to Clint, who was lifting dumbbells next to him. Or, more like, he was talking at Clint, because Clint wasn’t really talking back. In fact, in didn’t even seem like he was paying attention to Bucky at all…

“Hey Barton?”

Clint didn’t look up. He didn’t stop, or blink, or even give an indication that he had heard Bucky speak at all. The bastard had turned down his hearing aids. Scowling, Bucky picked up is water bottle and threw it at his gym partner.

“HEY!” Clint yelled indignantly as it bounced off his chest. He dropped his weights and his hands flew to his ears, turning the volume back up and grimacing as the noise came flooding back. “What the hell was that for?”

“Because I’ve been standing here for ten minutes, pouring my heart out to you like a total imbecile and you’ve had your hearing aids turned down!”

Clint rolled his eyes and picked up Bucky’s water, taking a draw from the bottle before handing it back.

“That’s because we go through this so often, Barnes,” he replied. “You find a guy, the guy is cute, you like the guy, you get overly attached to the guy, and then the guy breaks your heart. Every. Single. Time. I can’t sit here anymore and listen to you harping on about it, only to have you crying on my shoulder in two weeks’ time.”

Bucky made a face and slammed his left fist hard into the punch bag.

“Gee, thanks a lot, pal,” he muttered.

“Any time!” Barton replied cheerfully. “You’re a good guy Barnes – you just tend to wear your heart on your sleeve and you get fucked over because of it.”

“Well that’s not really my fault,” Bucky protested. “I can’t help being a hopeless romantic.”

Clint sighed and shook his head, leaning over to pick his dumbbells up again.

“Alright then – who is it this time.”

“Just a skinny little baker dude from Brooklyn.”

“Did you say ‘baker’ or ‘biker’?” Clint asked with a frown.

“The former. Why?”

“Because neither sounds like your usual type, but I could see you going for a biker. A baker though?”

Bucky shrugged and squared up to the punch bag again.

“He’s a friend of Nat’s – he’s making her cake.”

“Oh,” said Clint, as if that explained everything. “A skinny guy who makes wedding cakes…definitely not your usual type.”

Bucky grinned as he resumed his boxing.

“He’s kind of adorable – he’s got these big blue eyes and long lashes and this really sweet little smile. And his hands…oh my god, Barton…the things I want those hands to do to me…”

“Please, Barnes! No details!”

“I wasn’t gonna,” Bucky insisted. “But he’s also this little tiny Cake God – his cakes are delicious, seriously…and the decoration is just perfect. He’s just so cute.”

Clint raised an eyebrow at him.

“Steve, the tiny God of Cake. Right. And you’re not dating him because…?”

“I’m a wimp,” Bucky confirmed.

“I thought as much,” replied Clint. “Seriously Barnes, do everybody a favour – ask him out for drinks and then suck his dick.”

Of course, Clint had said this last part just as a rather gigantic weightlifter walked past them. The guy’s eyes went wide as he looked from Bucky to Clint, and back again, not quite sure who the comment was directed at.

“Not yours, sweetheart,” Bucky reassured him. “You’re not my type.”

The giant weightlifter gave a slow, confused nod and went on his way again, leaving Clint to try to smother his giggles by biting the inside of his wrist.

Bucky grinned and signed “you’re an asshole”, and Clint just laughed harder, nodding his head in agreement. He had learned to cuss quite well in sign language over the years – a surprisingly refreshing side effect to his friend losing 80% of his hearing.

Clint had a point though. Bucky was making the excuse of work to not ask out Steve the Baker, but he was honestly just a little scared to put himself out there for who might be the one decent guy left in New York. He really should just try it – just go to the bakery in the morning and ask him out.

Yes. Definitely.

Chapter Text

Bucky did show up at the Brooklyn Bakery the next morning, but he did spend about thirty minutes pacing back and forth on the pavement just to the side of it, trying to talk himself out of just running away.

He very much wanted to ask Steve out on a date. The problem was that Bucky wasn’t sure he was good enough to ask Steve out on a date. There was a reason that he kept going for the wrong type of guy time after time – he just didn’t think he deserved anyone better. Steve Rogers was the cutest thing Bucky had ever seen, and he seemed sweet and Bucky was already in way deeper that he should have been after that cake sampling session. He really had to just put himself out there and ask him.

After a while, he took a deep breath and walked in through the open door. There were customers this time – quite a number of them actually, buying the fresh bread loaves that were set out of the shelves at the back, snapping up pastries and choux buns, and small kids were salivating over the tiny, beautifully decorated cupcakes that could only have been Steve’s work. Bucky perched himself on the windowsill and watched Steve and Peggy work.

Steve was so good with the kids. When they asked for a cake, he would look at them directly and smile and let them pick the exact cake they wanted before putting it in a little paper bag and drawing a little picture on it for them. It gave Bucky butterflies to watch him, especially when he slipped two cakes into the paper bag of a woman who had sadly told her three year old that she didn’t have enough money for a cupcake. He noticed that Steve also slipped half a dozen bagels into her bag. The kid had a heart of gold.

Finally, the morning rush dwindled and Peggy was left dealing with the last customer whilst Steve was sorting out the display cases at the counter. Bucky finally approached him, his heart hammering in his chest.

“Hey Steve!”

Bucky’s legs turned to jelly as Steve looked up, his face registering first surprise, then splitting into the happiest, most beautiful smile.

“Bucky!” he exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”

“I was just in the neighbourhood,” Bucky replied, which was all lies, “And I thought I’d drop in and say hi.”

Steve’s eyes flickered down for a second before looking back up at him through his eyelashes, smile widening happily. Bucky reminded himself to breathe.

“Hi…”

“Hi…”

Bucky felt his grin widen, because maybe asking Steve out was going to be easier than he’d thought. He opened his mouth to ask the question that he’d came here to ask, when he was distracted by yelling outside. Bucky paused and turned to look over his shoulder just in time to see a terrified-looking girl in high heels teeter past the bakery, casting glances behind her. A few seconds later, two guys sauntered past, shouting lewd remarks that were obviously meant for her. The girl had only looked to be about sixteen and Bucky bristled – she had looked so frightened, and that just wasn’t right to chase a kid down the street yelling sexual remarks at her. He took a step towards the door but stumbled as a Steve-shaped blur rushed past him and out into the street. By the time Bucky had made it to the door, Steve was squaring off against the two guys who had both stopped harassing the teenager and had turned to regard the small, skinny baker as though they were about to eat him alive.

Bucky could only watch, feet hammering on the pavement as he ran, as Steve dodged the first swing and managed to get an elbow in somebody’s gut, and then a sharp little knee before a heavy fist caught him right in the face and split his lip, knocking him to the floor.

By the time that Bucky actually caught up with Steve, he was seeing red. He was already mad at the guys for harassing a terrified teenage girl, but now that he saw little Stevie on the ground with a bloody face, Bucky was furious.

“Hey!” he called out. “Why don’t you pick on somebody your own size?”

The guys looked up from Steve’s prone form as Bucky walked up and they smirked, taking in his smart, expensive suit and perfectly styled hair – Bucky knew they saw him as easy pickings. They had no idea how wrong they were with that assumption.

The first to swing a punch got his wrist broken when Bucky caught his fist and twisted it savagely – he could hear the bones snap. The guy howled in pain but Bucky never gave him a chance to recover as the move was quickly followed by a knee to the groin. The guy dropped to the ground like a stone.

He turned to the second guy who came at him with a growl. Bucky avoided the punch and swung his right elbow around to crack the guy in the side of the jaw, and then his brought up left elbow to strike the guy on the chin before wrapping his hand around the back of the guy’s skull and dragging him forward, hitting him right between the shoulder blades with the flat of his free hand.

“Are you done?” Bucky asked dangerously, looming over the pair. “Or do you want some more?”

Wordlessly, and eyeing Bucky with terror, they managed to pick themselves up off the ground and run for their lives.

Bucky was barely out of breath, calm and cool as a cucumber until he turned to find Steve back on his feet, fists clenched, mouth bleeding and swaying unsteadily on his feet, eyes slightly unfocussed. His cool demeanour cracked and Bucky surged forward, suddenly feeling a little panicked and concerned as he dipped his shoulder under Steve’s arm and wrapped a hand around his waist to support him upright.

“You alright, Steve?”

The little baker turned his head slowly and blinked at him.

“I had ‘em on the ropes…” he replied weakly, a tiny smile ghosting his lips.

Bucky let out a short breathy laugh. He couldn’t believe this kid – he’d ran past Bucky and took on two guys bigger than him without even stopping to wonder if he was going to get any back up, and he got to his feet again after taking a seriously hard knock. He’d stuck out his neck for a teenage girl that he didn’t even know.

"I know you did,” Bucky replied softly. “But two against one is an unfair fight - I just wanted to even the odds."

Steve gave him a lopsided smile as much as his bleeding lip would allow him.

“Thanks,” he said.

“Any time,” Bucky replied honestly. Was this kid even for real?

He looked up and realised that Peggy Carter and come out after them both and was currently wrapping her arm around the teenager’s shoulders, herding her into the bakery and he decided that it was high time he got Steve inside too.

Bucky felt awful – it had been years since he had moves like that, years since he had felt so ice cold and void of emotion, even if it had been only for a few moments. He hated doing that, but there had also been no way Bucky would have let skinny little Steve Rogers try to beat away two guys all by himself.

The baker was wheezing by the time Bucky got him inside and sat down, and Bucky frowned in concern.

“You asthmatic?” He asked, holding the tops of Steve’s arms firmly. Steve nodded. “Where’s your inhaler?”

“Kitchen…” Steve wheezed.

Peggy was coming out of there with a plate balanced on top of a cup as Bucky straightened. She looked furious as she threw something towards him and Bucky caught it. It was Steve’s inhaler. Bucky shook it and handed it over.

“I can’t believe you, Steve,” Peggy muttered as she passed. “Can’t you ever just stay out of a fight for once?”

Bucky’s eyebrows raised in surprise.

“Does he do this a lot?”

“More than you’d believe,” she replied, handing the cup to the still-shaking girl and moving to get a pastry from the display to put on the plate.

Bucky turned to Steve again, and watched him breathe in the steroid powder from the inhaler, hold his breath for what seemed like an impossibly long time, and then let it out. He went to the kitchen and grabbed a clean dish towel, soaking it under the tap for a couple of seconds before squeezing it out and walking back to Steve who was breathing more normally. Bucky dropped to his knees in front of Steve and looked up into his face.

"Those guys were so much bigger than you, Stevie,” Bucky murmured, dabbing delicately at the cut on Steve’s mouth. “What possessed you to take them on? They could have had knives - they could have had guns, for fuck’s sake Steve."

Steve looked at him through his eyelashes and shrugged

"I don’t like bullies,” he replied. “Somebody has to stand up to them."

“Yes,” said Peggy, more softly that she had spoken earlier, “but why does it always have to be you?”

And just like that, Bucky realised he wasn’t going to ask out Steve Rogers, because he, James Buchanan Barnes, was not worthy. He didn’t deserve somebody who was this brave, this selfless – Bucky just wasn’t good enough for him.

~

Bucky had paid a cab driver to take the girl home and then had left to meet a client, leaving a slightly battered Steve in Peggy’s capable hands. He’d spent the rest of the day being completely miserable and conflicted, and had ended up back in Brooklyn that evening, slumped on Sam and Natasha’s couch and nursing a sizable glass of wine as he told them the story.

Sam handed him a large slice of peanut butter fudge cake which Bucky picked at mournfully as Natasha curled up next to him on the couch and pulled him down onto her shoulder, stroking a hand gently through his hair.

Nat and Bucky went way back – seven years to when they served in Special Forces together with Clint. None of them spoke about their time serving. It was something they all preferred to pretend hadn’t existed, but his old self had resurfaced for a moment earlier that day and he hated himself for it.

“But you saved Steve from getting his ass handed to him,” Nat said soothingly.

“Again,” added Sam. “The boy just can’t stay down.”

Bucky gave Sam a weak smile.

“Yeah, Peggy said he gets into a lot of fights.”

“He’s too damn noble for his own good,” Sam replied.

Bucky looked down into his glass of wine and sighed.

“I was going to ask him out. I was there today to ask him out.”

“Why didn’t you?” Natasha asked.

“Because he’s too good for me,” Bucky mumbled.

Sam and Natasha exchanged glances.

“Stop it,” Sam said firmly. “I know you guys went through some awful shit in Special Forces, and I also know that it’s Fight Club. But don’t let what you did in the past dictate your future and how you feel about yourself now. You’re not the same person now – none of you are.”

“He’s right, James,” Natasha murmured. “You’re a good guy – you are,” she emphasised as Bucky scoffed lightly. “You’re loyal and sweet and funny and charming, and a big teddy bear. Anybody should feel damn lucky to have you, except you always fall for losers who will never appreciate what you have. We accept the love we think we deserve James, and you don’t think you deserve much, but we know different. You deserve somebody like Steve.”

Bucky blinked slowly at them both and gave a small smile.

“Thanks guys. But I don’t know if Steve would even say yes…”

“So you won’t even try?” Sam said with a raised eyebrow.

“I did try!” Bucky protested.

“Yeah, and you chickened out when you had your little crisis of character.”

Bucky made a face. Sam was right of course. He had deemed himself unworthy and given up.

“Alright,” Nat said, taking the glass of wine from his hands and standing, pulling Bucky to his feet. “Steve lives right next door – you’ve had some Dutch courage, now go knock.”

“What?”

“Knock on his door. Ask him out. Right now.”

Bucky looked wildly from Natasha to Sam and back again.

“I don’t…know if I can do that…”

“James,” Nat replied, grasping the lapels of his jacket firmly. “Stop with the excuses. You’re a Bu’can’an, not a Bu’can’t.”

He raised his eyebrow.

“Exactly how long have you been sitting on that one?”

“A couple of years,” she said with a grin. “Now get your ass over there and ask that skinny little baker on a date!”

~

Peggy had forced Steve to stop working and to leave the bakery early, to which he reluctantly agreed. He’d had a shower, dressed in comfy old pyjama pants and a t-shirt, and had curled up on the couch with his sketchbook to work on some designs for Sam and Natasha’s wedding cake.

It had been a weird day. It had started well, with the bakery being nice and busy first thing and then the gorgeous Bucky Barnes had shown up unexpectedly. He could have said that it had all gone downhill from there, but honestly, Steve didn’t feel it had.

Sure, he’d been punched square in the face by a guy twice his size, but it had been fantastic to watch Bucky knock the same guy to the ground before giving the friend the exact same treatment. Steve had loved the feel of Bucky’s strong arm around him as he’d helped him back to the bakery, and he’d got to study Bucky’s face right up close as he’d cleaned the cut on Steve’s lip. Those eyes were definitely blue – he knew that for certain. He loved them.

A sharp knock on his front door made Steve jump and for a moment he was confused, because he was pretty sure he hadn’t ordered pizza and his neighbours never bothered to knock before they barged into his apartment. Putting his sketchbook aside, Steve scrambled to his feet, crossed the floor at pulled the door open.

Bucky Barnes was standing on the other side, his normally neatly styled hair sticking out at angles, his tie loose and askew, top shirt button undone, and his lips swollen from where he was still biting at them.

“Hi!” Bucky said, his voice sounding tight. Steve blinked.

“Hi…”

“I was…uh…just next door, visiting Nat and Sam and I…uh…how are you? You okay?”

Steve blinked again.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he replied, confused.

“Great!” Bucky enthused, running a hand through his hair and causing it to stick out even more. It was so very endearing. “Uh…okay…so, I was just wondering…I mean, you totally don’t have to…It’s just an idea, but….uh…I was wondering if maybe you’d like to go out…sometime…like, with me…on a date?”

Steve’s jaw dropped. Bucky Barnes was at his apartment, and asking Steve out on a date. Things like this didn’t happen to him. Ever.

He couldn’t seem to find his voice, the silence hanging in the air between them and getting tenser by the second. Steve saw the hope slowly fade from Bucky’s eyes as Steve desperately fought himself internally.

“It’s okay,” Bucky said eventually, flashing Steve a strained smile. “It was dumb of me to ask, I’m sorry. I’ll just let you get on…”

“No!” Steve almost yelled finally, reaching out and grasping hold of Bucky’s wrist as he turned. “I mean…no, it’s not dumb. I would love to.”

Bucky’s eyebrows raised slowly and a genuine smile spread across his face.

“Really?”

“Uh huh,” Steve replied with a nod, easing his fingers free of Bucky’s arm.

“Okay,” Bucky grinned. “Are you free Friday night?”

“Sure.”

“Great,” he replied, beaming happily. “I’ll call you.”

“Okay,” Steve breathed, unable to hide his own grin.

He closed the door and let out a deep breath as he leaned against it and slid to the floor. Then he started to laugh. He was actually going on a date. For real.

Chapter Text

Steve didn’t have much of a reason to venture outside of Brooklyn these days, what with his entire life revolving around the bakery, so it was a nice change to be sitting in a 1950s diner in Manhattan opposite Bucky, eating a cheeseburger that was almost the same size as his head and drinking a milkshake that contained amaretto.

It had been a really hot day and Steve had felt like he’d been the one being baked instead of the bread and cakes and pastries. His hair had been plastered to his head with sweat and he’d spent a good long while under a cool shower before getting ready for his date. Steve felt good – he felt like he LOOKED good.

Peggy had helped him pick a shirt, which she assured him was mid blue and complimented his eyes, and Steve even had a little product in his hair to keep it out of his eyes. Bucky looked gorgeous as ever, sitting opposite him in the booth wearing jeans and a dark polo shirt and the most dazzling smile. Steve was loving every second.

“So,” Steve said as he casually dipped a curly fry into the ketchup on his plate, “You never said how you know Natasha.”

Bucky’s eyebrows rose as he took a slurp of his own alcoholic milkshake and he hummed softly.

“Er…” he said, biting his lip for a second before giving him a small grin. “Special Forces.”

“Ah,” replied Steve. “That explains a lot actually.”

Steve didn’t know much about his friend’s life before she moved in to the apartment next door to him, but he knew that she’d spent some time in Special Forces. She referred to it as Fight Club – you weren’t supposed to talk about it. And then a few days ago, Steve had watched Bucky effortlessly take down two guys in the street outside the bakery with a military accuracy that he hadn’t known many wedding planners to possess.

“Yeah?” Bucky grinned at him.

“Yep,” Steve replied. “How’d you go from that into wedding planning? I mean, that’s kind of a big career change!”

Bucky laughed and reached over to steal one of Steve’s curly fries, taking a delicate nibble of the end before answering.

“Now that actually is an interesting story,” he said. “I actually planned my first wedding about a week after I left the forces. My sister Rebecca was getting married and I was literally sitting around on her couch watching M*A*S*H re-runs in my sweatpants and her wedding planner was a total bitch, so she dragged me out for moral support to her dress fitting. This wedding planner was trying to stuff Becca into these awful poofy things with no straps and my poor sister looks like she’s about to cry. So I ask this woman what the hell she thinks she’s playing at – Becca is five-feet-two-inches and curvy – those poofy skirts are going to drown her and she’s going to spill out over those strapless bustiers. This woman just gives me a look of death, yeah, and she says ‘darling I have years of experience in this, but if you think you can do any better, please be my guest’. So I get up and I stroll over to the racks and within five minutes I see the perfect gown – its ivory lace with a ‘v’ neck and the skirt is swept up at the side to reveal this waterfall of soft tulle, and I turn around and my sister’s face just lights up like the Fourth of July. Becca looks gorgeous in the dress and she fires the woman on the spot and begs me to help her re-do everything. I really enjoyed it. After the wedding, I went to school and did some event planning courses and went into business for myself. I don’t think I’ve had an unsatisfied customer yet.”

Steve finished off his milkshake with a loud slurp and smiled.

“How long have you been doing it?”

“Uh, about four years,” Bucky replied. “Can I get you another milkshake?”

“Sure,” Steve grinned.

He selected a cookies’n’cream milkshake this time, with Bailey’s Irish Cream and Bucky went for a mint chocolate shake with crème de menthe.

“How did you get into wedding cakes anyway?” Bucky asked as he polished off the last of his food and pushed his plate to the side. “Was that something you always wanted to do, or…?”

Steve smiled at him.

“Actually, I originally wanted to be an artist,” he admitted.

Bucky raised his eyebrows.

“You are an artist!”

“No,” Steve smiled, casting his eyes down slightly. “I mean I wanted to draw and paint. My graphite work was all fine, but I my colour work left something to be desired.”

He stuck as close to the truth as possible without revealing that he was colour blind. That wasn’t really something he wanted to get into on a first date.

“So you did baking instead?”

“Yeah,” Steve replied. “I was sick a lot as a kid, ended staying home from school quite a bit. I used to stay with my Granny when my mom was at work and she was always baking. She’d always let me help and I loved it. I went to baking school and I discovered cake decorating and instantly fell in love with fondant. I met Peggy there and she fast became my best friend in the whole world, and when we graduated we opened the bakery together. We both have different specialities, so it works really well for us.”

Bucky beamed at him as their fresh milkshakes arrived.

“And then you got Nat and Sam as neighbours. I bet they both scrounge the baked goods from you.”

“Yeah, they do,” Steve chuckled, “but they help me out a lot, so it’s fine really.”

Steve was starting to realise that he liked Bucky a lot. He was funny and sweet, he used his hands when he talked and his face was beautifully expressive when he told little anecdotes about time spent around Natasha, and little adventures from planning weddings.

They talked for hours and went through several more of the alcoholic milkshakes until Steve’s vision was slightly blurred and his body buzzed from head to toe.

“Oh man,” he murmured. “I don’t think I should have had that last milkshake?”

‘You alright?” Bucky asked with a raised brow.

“Yeah, just…not really used to drinking. I’ll be fine.”

But Steve’s body had other ideas, and when he stood up, his legs wobbled slightly and he stumbled into Bucky. His hands seemed to burn through Steve’s shirt they were so warm, and Steve swallowed hard at the touch.

“Shit, did I feed you too much alcohol?”

Steve grinned.

“You might have. I think I’m going to have a little trouble getting the metro home like this.”

Bucky looked at him and blinked.

“Listen, my apartment is just a few blocks away,” he said to Steve. “Why don’t you come back for a bit, we’ll get a couple of glasses of water down you and you can go home later?”

It sounded like the best idea in the world to Steve, and he grinned and nodded.

“Yeah, okay.”

He fell into step next to Bucky as they walked out into the late evening. It was still hot outside, the air heavy and sizzling and Steve could feel his shirt starting to cling to his back before they were ten steps out of he air conditioned diner.

Steve didn’t know if it was the heat or the alcohol or just the fact that he was with Bucky and Bucky was beautiful, but the way that Bucky’s skin shimmered with perspiration as they walked and the way the damp tendrils of dark hair stuck to the back of his neck was making Steve salivate. His arms were mostly bare in his dark polo shirt and Steve was really starting to want to know what they would feel like wrapped around his body, picking him up to maybe pin him against a wall as those soft-looking lips grazed his skin.

His head swam, his body felt too hot, his skin prickling beneath his clothes. He watched Bucky as he talked, watched beads of sweat roll from his hairline down behind his ear and desperately wanted to press his tongue to Bucky’s skin, to taste the salt, to lick and suck at the pulse point.

Steve was glad that he was going to Bucky’s apartment, because even if it was just the heat or the alcohol, Steve Rogers was determined to climb that man like a tree.

~

Bucky felt ridiculously happy. He’d had a great time just talking to Steve about everything and nothing as they ate dinner and slurped on their milkshakes like a couple of teenagers. Bucky didn’t remember having such a casual date before, at least not as an adult. He had the warm glow of alcohol in his blood stream and he felt mellow as he walked Steve to his apartment. The little guy could almost hold his own in boozy milkshakes, but apparently the last one had tipped him over just a little and Steve had claimed to be too drunk to make it to the subway. Bucky didn’t mind that at all, because it just meant that he had a little more time to spend with Steve before they had to say goodbye for the night.

“It’s just in here,” he said as they reached the building, holding the door open for Steve as they went inside to the gentle cool of the air conditioning. “The elevators take forever. Can you manage the stairs?”

“Yep,” Steve replied, giving him a lopsided grin.

The kid was wobbling all over the place and bumping into the wall, but he was grinning and giggling, and it was just the cutest thing ever. They had almost made it to Bucky’s floor when Steve stumbled over the step. Bucky reached out to catch him by the waist.

“Jeez, Steve! You okay?” he chuckled.

“Yeah…” Steve replied, twisting slightly in his grasp to try to get a hold on his feet.

Steve’s face was suddenly too close, all flushed and dewy and happy and perfectly gorgeous. The ends of his hair were slightly damp and clinging to his forehead and his blue eyes seemed brighter than normal, darting from Bucky’s eyes to his hair to his nose and then his mouth. Steve’s gaze seemed very fixed on his mouth. Bucky bit his lip and gently released his hold on Steve’s waist.

“It’s just the second door,” he replied, breathing shallowly.

Steve nodded and he followed without a word, his fingertips lightly brushing against Bucky’s as they walked. Bucky fumbled in his pocket for the key and finally managed to get the door open.

“Can I get you anything?” he asked as he pushed open the door and stood aside to let Steve in before him. “Glass of water? Coff…”

The last word was cut off as Bucky felt himself be grabbed by the shirt and dragged back as Steve pushed him up against the door. He almost overbalanced as his weight swung the door closed again with a loud bang, and suddenly Steve was pressed flush against him, slim-fingered hands finding their way under the hem of Bucky’s shirt.

“Just you,” Steve replied in a low voice, blue eyes roaming hungrily over Bucky’s face.

Bucky’s eyes widened as he looked down at the tiny baker who was looking at him hotly through dark eyelashes. He felt an all-too familiar heat begin to coil its way inside the pit of his belly and then a sudden jolt of it as Steve’s gorgeous fingers slipped into the waist band of Bucky’s jeans and moved down, roughly raking through the coarse hair around his base.

His head slammed back into the door and he let out a sharp breath, hands coming up to lightly squeeze at Steve’s shoulders.

“Oh fuck yes,” Bucky managed to gasp, before Steve’s free hand cupped the back of his neck and dragged him down into a rough kiss.

There was absolutely nothing romantic about it. Their kissing was fast, messy, Steve’s tongue pushing against his forcefully, sucking at Bucky’s bottom lip, biting at his jaw, only to kiss him again ever harder than before. Bucky was surprised at Steve’s ferocity but it felt so damn good to have that hot mouth on him, those beautiful delicate hands treating him with nothing close to gentleness as Steve tugged at Bucky’s clothes and scraped his fingernails against Bucky’s skin, making him gasp into Steve’s rough kisses.

Bucky’s polo shirt was all but ripped over his head and he barely had time to drop it to the ground before Steve’s hands gripped his hips firmly and pulled him away from the door. He was spun and then felt a hand on his chest giving him a hard shove. Bucky hit the floor winded, but had no time to recover as Steve dropped down and straddled Bucky’s hips, pulling his own shirt off swiftly.

Steve was all ribs and sharp angles and Bucky ran his hands up Steve’s sides, pulling a slight shiver from him as he watched the beautiful blue eyes flutter closed. Steve’s whole torso was flushed pale rose, heat radiating from him as he grabbed Bucky’s hands again and pinned them on the rug beside his head, mouth attacking Bucky’s neck once again.

“Fuck…” Bucky gasped happily as sharp teeth grazed the underside of his chin, pulling at the skin. He loved this, and the thing that just made it one hundred times hotter was that Steve was half his size and about ninety pounds soaking wet, and he was just dominating him. Bucky would happily let this little firecracker do anything he wanted.

He gasped and sighed as Steve worked down his neck, sucking marks onto his skin roughly. When Steve let go of his hands Bucky kept them there by his head, content to just lie still as Steve had his way. Teeth clamped down hard onto his right nipple and Bucky yelped loudly, back arching up off the floor and into the small body above him.

“Fuck, Steve!” he groaned as he settled back down into the soft pile rug. “Where the hell have you been all my life?”

He heard Steve growl in reply, mouth still occupied in nipping and licking down Bucky’s body until it reached the waistband of his jeans. Steve rid Bucky of those in no time, nimble fingers easily popping the buttons and shuffling the heavy denim and soft cotton briefs down over Bucky’s hips and thighs and off over his feet, together with shoes and socks.

Bucky’s cock was hard and leaking, and he felt the colour rise to his face as Steve’s eyes drank in every inch of him, breathing heavily. Bucky was burning for him. Slender fingers scraped up the inside of his thighs and Bucky couldn’t help but make the space between his legs wider so the Steve could crawl between them as his hands inched higher, short nails scratching lightly over his balls. A knuckle pressed sharply into the space just behind them and Bucky cried out, hips raising involuntarily as he dug his own fingers into the carpet.

“Yes,” he heard himself moan. “Oh God, yes please!”

Steve’s head dipped and sank his teeth into the top of Bucky’s thigh for a second before drawing back.

“Do you have any…?”

Bucky caught his meaning immediately and nodded towards his discarded jeans.

“Wallet,” he gasped. “Back pocket.”

Steve bit his lip and sat back, tapping lightly at Bucky’s foot. It was an indication to move and Bucky did so immediately, rolling over onto his belly and easing himself up onto his knees. He felt his breath ghost back over his skin as he pressed his face into the carpet, coming in short quick bursts. His body was warm, burning slowly with a heady mixture of lust and alcohol and excitement. Bucky’s hips wiggled impatiently as he listened to the sounds of Steve digging around in his jeans, taking out his wallet. Bucky whined softly, fingers tugging at the rug as he waited, desperately wanting more.

A slick finger breached him without warning and Bucky felt like the air had been punched out of his body. Steve worked at him fast and rough and had Bucky writhing and drooling into the carpet in moments, the burn of being unceremoniously stretched blurred around the edges with the alcohol in his system.

He felt Steve’s free hand stroke over his back, as grounding and soothing as the other hand was relentless and forceful. Steve didn’t keep at it for long and Bucky didn’t mind that one bit. He wanted Steve so bad, wanted to be filled up right that second and he was babbling, begging.

When it came, the burn was magnificent and Bucky couldn’t even make a noise. He was stretched fast, but he was so slick that it didn’t matter, his body accommodating swiftly to the intrusion as Steve buried himself to the hilt inside of him, lying flush against Bucky’s back and pressing one single kiss between his shoulder blades.

And then Steve was moving, setting a pace that was immediately fast and punishing and it was all Bucky could do to just remember to breathe through the marvellous pleasure/pain margin that he was riding. Steve’s fingernails raked over his back, hard enough that Bucky could feel the welts rising on his skin almost instantly. He bit Bucky’s shoulder so hard it made him cry out, and buried his fingers in Bucky’s hair, firmly pushing his cheek flat against the rug as he pounded into him relentlessly and with surprising strength.

Bucky loved it. He loved how rough Steve was, how raw, how completely unromantic the situation was, and how much he burned for the beautiful, skinny little man that wasn’t at all afraid to give Bucky everything he had.

His cock ached and his thighs shook as the bright white heat in his belly coiled tighter in light of his impending orgasm and Steve’s pace wasn’t letting up in the slightest. He shouted Steve’s name as it hit him, the warmth inside of him breaking and rushing through his body, stomach muscles taught as he spilled all over the rug, his toes curling and his fingers going numb as they dug into the pile.

Steve still drove hard into him, his movements becoming erratic and his breathing sharp, fingers digging painfully into Bucky’s hips. Bucky bit his lip and groaned at the sensitivity, Steve’s movement sending aftershocks through him and it was all he could do to hang on to the rug beneath him until Steve’s hips stuttered and stopped. Bucky felt him shudder and let out the quietest cry before falling forward onto Bucky’s back and becoming still.

Bucky’s knees buckled and he slumped bonelessly to the floor, exhausted and blissed out, hot and sticky and immensely satisfied, and ever so slightly sore. He felt Steve slide off him and roll to the side. Bucky lifted his face out of the rug and looked over.

“You good?” he murmured lazily.

Steve was laying on his back, flushed all over, blond hair stuck to his forehead and his chest rising and falling fast as he fought to get oxygen into his lungs. It was a wonder he wasn’t wheezing. He turned his head and gave Bucky a beautiful smile.

“Yeah. You?”

Bucky grinned and squirmed happily.

“Fucking amazing,” he admitted. Steve let out a short laugh and ran a hand over his face. Bucky watched him strip off the Emergency Wallet Condom and toss it away before he wriggled closer and Buried his face in Steve’s bony shoulder, wrapping arm across the tiny waist and drawing him close.

Bucky was happily exhausted, feeling the rise and fall of Steve’s chest against his side as he breathing normalised. He pressed his lips against the soft skin and closed his eyes, sleep claiming him an instant later.

Chapter Text

Steve awoke with a jolt, his eyes snapping open as he realised instant that, not only was he not in bed, but also not even in his own apartment. His mouth was dry, tongue sticking to the roof of it, and his brain was pounding out a beat inside of his head. Steve eased up onto his elbows slowly and looked at Bucky who was lying on his belly on the rug, facing him, eyes closed and mouth slightly open as he slept. And then Steve’s eyes widened in shock.

The lamps were on in the living room and Steve could clearly see the damage he’d inflicted. Bucky’s back was red-raw with long lines of scratches left by Steve’s fingernails. He had dug so deep on some of them that the skin had actually broken and were spotted with re-brown specks where blood had welled up in the cuts and dried. On Bucky’s right shoulder was an evident red bite-mark in what was definitely the indent of Steve’s teeth, and he could just see a purpleish bruise in the space behind Bucky’s right ear.

Steve was horrified. In his slightly drunken haze, he had quite literally ravaged the man, and now Steve was awash with guilt and shame. What the fuck had he done? Bucky was likely to never speak to him again after this.

He got up quietly, feeling sticky and still too hot. He found a clock that told him it was just after four in the morning and Steve hurriedly got dressed. He didn’t know what to do – if he left Bucky’s apartment now, he could get back to Brooklyn before Peggy got up to start on the bread. Should he wake up Bucky and apologise for the state he was in? Bucky looked so beautiful when he was asleep, so peaceful, and Steve could feel his face burning with embarrassment over what he’d done.

Steve then did something that he’d never done before in his whole life – he backed down from doing the right thing. He opened the apartment door and silently walked out without waking Bucky, telling himself that he’d explain later, he’d apologise later, and that he was leaving because he needed to get things started at the bakery, when in reality Steve just didn’t think he could bear it if Bucky woke up at looked at him as though he were some kind of freak.

~

Bucky felt the vibrations through the floor before he heard his phone actually ring, cutting through the dark layers of sleep. He groaned, suddenly aware of a pounding in his head and the way his body ached all over as he pushed himself up from the hard floor and cast his sleep-encrusted eyes around for the source of the noise. Bucky found his pants and fished out his phone.

“Hello?” he mumbled, collapsing back onto the rug and running a hand over his face.

“James, where the fuck are you?”

“Nat?”

“I am standing here at the wedding dress store like a lemon and you are nowhere to be seen. Where are you?”

Bucky groaned again – nine am, Saturday, wedding dress shopping with Natasha.

“Shit, Nat I’m sorry. I overslept. I’ll be there in twenty minutes, okay?” He sat up and immediately felt the skin on his stomach pull taut and then something cracked. Bucky looked down and realised that he had collapsed and fallen asleep in the large wet patch of his own bodily fluid the night before. “Actually, better make it thirty.”

He hung up the call and grimaced before looking around the room – it was empty.

“Steve?” he called and received no reply.

The only clothes on the floor belonged to Bucky, and as he wandered through his apartment he realised with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, that he was completely alone. Steve had gone and Bucky didn’t think he’d ever felt more disappointed in his life.

~

He was mixing cake batter when Peggy arrived, mulling the previous night over and over in his mind. Steve gave a start when he heard the bakery door open and didn’t miss the look in Peggy’s eyes as she grabbed her apron and walked to the sink to wash her hands.

“I didn’t expect to see you here this morning,” she said lightly.

Steve bit his lip and shrugged, trying to keep his back to her so that she wouldn’t be able to see how guilty he looked.

“I wanted to get a head start,” he mumbled. Peggy made a noise of acknowledgement and crossed to the night pantry to take out the bread dough that was now ready for baking. Steve kept his head down until Peggy sighed impatiently.

“So, are you going to tell me how your date went, or do I have to guess the details myself?”

Steve cracked immediately, let the mixing bowl drop onto the bench with a clatter and his hands flew to cover his face, which was starting to burn again with shame.

“Oh god, Peggy. I think I fucked up,” Steve groaned.

Peggy left the trays of dough by the oven and was immediately at Steve’s side, trying to prise his hands from his face.

“What do you mean? What happened?” she asked and Steve shook his head. “Steve,” Peggy said firmly. “What did you do?”

Steve finally dropped his hands and looked Peggy in the eye.

“I had sex with him.”

Peggy Carter raised an eyebrow.

“Is that it? You’re getting upset because you put out on the first date? Christ Steve, I wouldn’t be too bothered about that – lots of people have sex on the first date.”

“No Peggy, it’s not that,” Steve replied, pushing his hair away from his forehead. “I was…kinda rough with him.”

Peggy Carter’s second eyebrow rose to meet the first.

“Rough? As in…?”

“Bite marks, hickeys, scratches on his back that were so deep they drew blood.”

“Jesus!” Peggy exclaimed, her voice halfway between surprise and amusement. “Well done, Steven Rogers.”

“It’s not funny, Peggy,” Steve said mournfully. “Unfortunately that’s not really even the worst of it.”

“What’s the worst of it?” she asked. Steve gave her a meaningful glare. “Oh. Ohhhhh…you mean you were…?” Peggy held her hand up flat, “and he was…?” her other hand slid beneath it.

“Yeah.”

“Wow.” she mused. “Double well done, Steven Rogers.”

“Peggy!”

“What? What do you think is so terrible about it, Steve? Do you think he didn’t like it? Was he complaining at the time?”

Steve’s mind went immediately back to the night before – ‘Oh yes please’ were the words he remembered Bucky saying.

“No,” he muttered.

“And he made no moves to stop you?”

Steve sighed.

“No, but that doesn’t make it right Peggy,” he replied. “I don’t know what the hell got into me!”

Peggy stepped back and crossed her arms over her chest, leaning back against the counter top as she studied him.

“So what happened? How did you even get to that point?”

Steve collapsed onto the stool that was usually tucked under the workbench and sighed again.

“We went for dinner – we talked about our jobs and general stuff, we had alcoholic milkshakes. I might have had too many of those, because I almost fell a couple of times before we even got out of the diner. Bucky suggested that we go back to his place until I’d sobered up enough to go home. I don’t know if it was just because I was drunk, or if it was the heat but he was just so gorgeous, Peggy – I like everything about him, and I just wanted to push him up against the nearest hard surface. I tripped over in the stair well and…he was really close to me…and it was like, once I’d started I just couldn’t stop.”

“See, this is what happens when you don’t have sex for a couple of years,” Peggy mused. “What did he say this morning?”

“Nothing. I left without waking him up.”

“Oh, Steve.”

He buried his face in his hands again and groaned.

“I know. I just couldn’t bear the thought of how he might look at me.”

Peggy pushed herself up from the counter and walked over to him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders as she drew him in. Steve rested his head against her stomach miserably.

“Come on,” she murmured after a while. “Let’s get some baking done, otherwise we’re going to have a lot of upset customers this morning.”

~

Showered and dressed and thirty minutes late, Bucky finally turned up to the wedding dress boutique to find Natasha glaring at him from the waiting area, the staff fussing around her with various dresses on hangers.

“Where the fuck have you been?” she hissed.

“It’s a long story,” he muttered, running a hand nervously over his hair.

Natasha’s eyes narrowed as she looked him, and then suddenly widened as she spotted the purplish bruise on Bucky’s neck just behind his right ear, visible over the open collar of his white shirt.

“Hold on,” she said, darting forward too fast for Bucky to counter and pulling the collar of his shirt aside. “What is that?”

Bucky bit his lip as he squirmed away.

“I’ll explain later,” he said, looking beyond her to the selection of gowns that had been picked out for her. Bucky made a face. “Right now, we need to do something about these dresses. Who chose this one? No, definitely not. Look at this woman, ladies – she’s a Russian Princess and this dress is more pavlova than Romanova. We don’t want any meringues here today ladies!”

It didn’t take him long to pick out a different set of more suitable dressed and, after a short disagreement with the female staff, followed Natasha into the fitting room. Bucky quite often got suspicious looks when he turned up to places like these, as though people assumed that because the wedding planner was a relatively attractive guy, that he was going to seduce the bride and run away with her. The truth was, he was more likely to run off with the groom than the bride, although admittedly he had only ever done that once and the guy had been a total closet case anyway. He’d practically done the bride a favour.

Bucky unfastened the lacing on the first dress whilst Natasha stripped off.

“So,” she said lightly. “Did Steve give you that hickey?”

He sighed and lay the dress over a chair while he picked up the ivory undergarments and bagan to unfasten them for her.

“I think I fucked up, Nat,” he replied.

“How so?”

“We ended up having sex on the rug in my living room.”

Natasha’s eyes met his in the mirror and she raised her eyebrows.

“Seriously? Wow. That’s surprising. Not from you – I expect that sort of thing from you, but I never pegged Steve for the sex-on-the-first-date type.”

Bucky laughed softly as he held the bustier out for Natasha to put on.

“Yeah, Steve was definitely a surprise.”

“Come on then,” she said, turning around so he could fasten her underwear up. “Details.”

“Oh man, Nat,” Bucky sighed. “He’s amazing. I mean, apart from being all little and cute and gorgeous, he’s just so sweet and he’s interesting. We got a little drunk and suggested that he sober up at my apartment for an hour or so…”

“Yeah, right.”

“No, really. I was planning on being the perfect gentleman here, Natasha. I wasn’t about to let him take the subway all the way back to Brooklyn on his own with too much alcohol in his system. I honestly was just gonna sit him on the couch and give him a couple of glasses of water until he could make it home okay. But, like, the second we were through the door he had me pinned up against it.”

Natasha turned around to look at him, mouth dropping open slightly.

“He pinned you against the door?”

“With his hand down my pants,” Bucky confirmed.

“Steve? Little tiny baker Steve who lives next door to me? Pinned you up against the door and put his hand down your pants?”

“Yes,” he said, picking up the first dress and holding it out for her to step into. “I’m not gonna lie Nat – that boy is a firecracker. I mean, we’re talking rough – I have bite marks on my shoulder, my back is scratched to hell, you’ve seen the hickey. And as for the actual sex…my god, he had me pushed face down into that rug and I swear I have never taken a pounding like that before in my entire life! It was fucking amazing…”

A small cough interrupted him from the other side of the curtain.

“Excuse me sir,” one of the store assistants said in a clipped tone. “There are other customers in this store, would you mind lowering the volume of your conversation?”

Bucky flushed deep red as Natasha snorted with laughter, loosening all the lacing that Bucky had just done up as she doubled over.

“Oh god,” he said, embarrassed, sticking his head out of the curtain and giving the woman an apologetic look. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t realise I was being so loud.”

“Were you that loud last night, honey?” a voice called from behind a curtain on the other side of the dressing room.

“Yeah,” another piped up from Bucky’s left. “Don’t tell him to stop – I wanna hear more about this tiny little baking firecracker!”

Bucky cast Natasha a dark look as she snickered loudly. The store assistant shrugged and walked away as he herded Nat out into the middle of the room to the circular mirrors.”

“Okay,” Natasha said, still grinning. “So Steve is an amazing little topper, but I don’t understand how you fucked up.”

“Well I must have done,” Bucky sighed, finishing her lacing and holding the skirt up as she stepped up onto the pedestal. “Because when I woke up this morning, he was gone. No note, no text…if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m aching all over and my expensive long-pile living room rug needs professional cleaning, I would seriously believe it was a dream. I don’t understand why he wouldn’t wake me up unless I’d done something wrong.”

“Well, maybe it was a bit of a surprise for him too?” Natasha suggested, turning slowly to study the dress from a different angle. “Actually James, I think the lacing needs to be tighter. Can you…?”

Bucky stepped up next to her and unfastened the ribbon.

“I don’t think it’s going to go tighter, Nat.”

“Yes it is, just give it a tug!”

“I’m trying! It’s so fucking hard…”

And then the voice from the opposite side of the dressing room piped up again.

“Yeah honey, I bet that’s what you told that little hottie last night!”

He sighed as he re-tied Natasha’s dress, but he was smiling slightly.

“Thank you for that,” he called back before turning back to Nat. “I just don’t know what to do.”

“Well why don’t you call in at the bakery after we’re done here?” she replied. “You know, just talk to him, and make sure everything is okay. He probably just had to leave early to get stuff done and didn’t want to wake you up. It’s highly likely that you’re over reacting.”

Bucky sighed again as he stepped back to look at Natasha from a distance. She was probably right – bakers had to get up pretty early to get things made before everybody else even thought about waking up. Steve probably just didn’t want to disturb him, but all the same he could have left a note or sent a text so that Bucky didn’t panic. He seriously liked Steve Rogers – he didn’t want to mess this up before they even got off the ground.

~

“Hi.”

The sound of Bucky’s voice made Steve glance up sharply from the cake he was working on and immediately he felt his face heat up.

Steve hadn’t been able to stop thinking about what had happened with Bucky the night before. Peggy had tried to assure him that it hadn’t been as bad as he thought, but Steve couldn’t rid his head of the images of Bucky lying stark naked on his belly in the living room, his back a raw red matrix of scratch marks and a prominent bite mark on his shoulder.

Standing in front of him now, Steve could clearly see the mark that he had sucked onto Bucky’s neck and he felt just awful, especially since Bucky was looking at him with a concerned smile.

“Hi,” Steve replied quietly.

“I just wanted to stop by and see if you were okay,” Bucky said softly, standing on the other side of the counter with his hands in the pockets of his dark jeans. “You left kind early this morning.”

Steve bit his lip and sighed.

“I’m sorry. I feel like a total dick.”

“For leaving?”

“No,” Steve said, “Well, yes, but no. I feel a bad about what I did last night.”

Bucky raised an eyebrow.

“You feel bad for having sex with me?”

Steve grimaced, knowing how bad this was sounding.

“More like the manner of which I went about it.”

A slow smile spread across Bucky’s face, his beautiful eyes crinkling at the corners.

“Do you think you did something wrong?” he asked.

Steve looked deliberately at the counter top.

“I don’t know what possessed me,” Steve admitted. “I don’t know why I was so rough. I just woke up this morning and I was horrified that I might have…”

“Damaged my delicate masculinity?” Bucky said, amused. “Steve,” he lowered his voice slightly. “I liked it.”

Steve glanced up sharply to find Bucky biting his lip bashfully, a small smile tugging at his lips.

“Really?” he asked, genuinely surprised.

“Really,” Bucky grinned. “I mean, maybe a little heavier for a first date than I’m used to, but yeah.”

Steve couldn’t stop the smile of relief that started to spread across this face.

“I really thought I’d fucked up,” he murmured.

“I thought I had. As far as I was concerned, you did nothing wrong, so it had to have been me.”

“It was definitely not you.”

They were both grinning like idiots now, realising that that had both been worried over nothing. Bucky removed his hands from his jeans and walked around to Steve’s side of the counter, reaching out for his hand and linking their fingers together.

“I think,” he said with a smile, “that maybe the alcohol and the heat made us go a little too fast.”

“Agreed,” Steve replied.

“So what do you say to a couple more dates, take things a bit slower, and see how we go?”

Steve let out a slow breath, suddenly very much more at ease than he had been all day. He smiled back, flexing his fingers in Bucky’s grasp.

“I think that sounds great.”

Chapter Text

Steve and Bucky were both pretty busy over the next few days but they had sent each other texts in the evenings – nothing in depth – just keeping in contact. Seeing Steve’s name flash up on his phone screen had made him smile, setting butterflies off in his stomach. Clint had called him pathetic.

Bucky hadn’t expected the phone call from the client early that Thursday morning. The day ahead was supposed to have been busy – Bucky had been due to visit caterers and florists and needed to finalise the colours of the table linens for a wedding next week before he met with a new bride that afternoon. However she had called in tears to tell him that the wedding was no longer going ahead and that his services were no longer needed. Bucky had the afternoon off.

He had done his chores for the morning and had been about to head back to his apartment to sit and twiddle his thumbs when he was struck by the idea of going to Brooklyn instead and dropping by the bakery to see Steve. He had the time and he hadn’t had the chance to sample any of the baked goods that were not wedding cake yet. Feeling like it was an excellent plan and excited to see Steve’s face again, he headed for the subway.

Bucky hadn’t planned on running into Sam though, just a block from the bakery. Sam was wearing shorts and his old squadron t-shirt and Bucky smiled at him as they walked towards each other.

“Hey man!” Sam called, grinning.

“Mr Romanoff!” Bucky replied. “How’s it going?”

“Not bad,” said Sam cheerfully. “Just off to get in the groceries. You off to see Steve?”

“Yeah, I unexpectedly have the afternoon off, so I thought I’d swing by and say hello.”

Sam nodded and was silent for a beat before his eyes took on a sharpness.

“Do you have a second to talk about Steve?”

Bucky’s eyebrows rose.

“Yeah, I guess. What’s up?”

Sam shifted his weight to his back foot and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Nat told me about what happened between you and Steve on Friday night.”

Bucky bit his lip and looked at the ground, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Yeah, I think half of New York knows about that right now.”

“He doesn’t usually do that you know,” Sam said seriously. “In fact, he doesn’t do that at all.”

“What? Sleep with people on the first date?”

“Or at all.”

Bucky looked up and frowned.

“What do you mean?”

Sam looked at him steadily, arms still folded across his chest.

“Well, I’m not saying the Steve was pure as the driven snow or anything. Far from it. It’s just that he doesn’t do that kind of thing. Peggy has known him since they were nineteen and she says that Steve has only been on a handful of dates and none of them had involved anything more than dinner or a movie. I know he had a six-month relationship a couple of years back, but the kid went back to Paraguay about a week after I moved into the building and Steve never heard from him again.”

Bucky raised his eyebrows.

“So,” he said slowly, “You’re saying I’m anomaly?”

“I’m saying that Steve Rogers must think you’re something damned special to break the habit of a lifetime, so don’t you dare break his heart.”

Sam was looking at him firmly but his voice was kind. Bucky smiled.

“I’m far from a heartbreaker, Sam,” he replied.

“So I hear.”

Sam went on his way and Bucky walked the rest of the block to the bakery, mulling the conversation over in his head. Clint had always told him that he worse his heart on his sleeve and it was true – Bucky had a tendency to put himself out there and always got his heart stomped on. He would never do to Steve what countless guys had done to Bucky over the years – he liked Steve too much, and after talking to Sam he felt like Steve might feel the same about him.

Bucky grinned, feeling pretty good about himself until he turned the corner and found a long line of people waiting outside the bakery door in the hot summer sun. A couple of ladies yelled at him as he squeezed into the building until he told them the he wasn’t cutting the line and lifted his head over the sea of bodies.

“Peggy?” he called, seeing the top of her head at last, chestnut hair piled on top of it to keep it off the back of her neck in the heat. She looked up and frowned at him.

“Oh no you don’t,” she said. “We’re far too bloody busy for you to be distracting Steve right now.”

She handed a paper bag of goods over to a customer and went immediately on to the next. Bucky couldn’t understand why people were waiting outside in the heat. Was the produce really so good from here that people would rather stand in line than go elsewhere?

“Can I help with anything?” he asked and Peggy raised an eyebrow.

“Go see if you can help Steve with the cakes,” she replied.

Bucky squeezed past the people and ducked behind the counter. He could already feel the sweat drip down his back from the closeness and the heat from the ovens.

Steve was just finishing up a tray of beautifully iced French Fancies in pastel colours – rose pink, lemon yellow, lilac and baby blue, each with a tiny design piped on in white icing. He looked hot, fair skin flushed pink and hair damp, sticking up where he had pushed it back out of his face.

“Peggy said I might be able to help,” he said as way of announcement.

Steve looked up, surprised but smiling and Bucky was pretty sure his heart skipped a beat – he adored Steve when he was all messed up like this. Steve didn’t bother with the pleasantries today either.

“I have a tray of shortbread rounds you could ice while I go help Peggy?”

“What do I do?” Bucky asked, hurrying to the sink to wash his hands quickly before standing next to Steve at the workbench.

“It’s really simple,” Steve told him, picking up a piping bag with a wide nozzle filled with white icing. “Big blob of white into the middle…it’s runny, so not too much, and it should slow and settle before it reaches the edges. Then move on to the next. When you’ve done them all, pick up the black and just put a little squiggle in the middle.”

“Gotcha,” Bucky replied with a grin, taking the bag from Steve carefully.

“My hero,” Steve said, reaching up to give him a swift kiss on the cheek before sweeping the tray of Fancies into his hands and hurrying out into the shop.

Piping icing was actually somewhat therapeutic, the repetitive action of squeezing the bag and watching the shiny gloop spread out onto the shortbread, all smooth and silky. The only thing he didn’t enjoy about the whole experience was the heat, even though the back door was open, leading onto the alley behind the building. There wasn’t really a breeze.

Bucky finished with the white icing and moved onto the black, but after he’d done two squiggles, he was already bored with the pattern. On the third round he tried a heart, and then a cartoon flower, and then a smiley face – this was much more fun and he alternated between them until all of the shortbread was covered.

Pleased with himself, Bucky stood back and licked the icing from his fingers thoughtfully. He’d only had the stuff on top of a cake before, had never actually tasted piping icing in its purest form – straight from the bag. Curiously, he picked up the bag of smooth white and tipped his head back, holding the bag directly over his mouth and squeezed gently.

"Now usually, that would be totally disgusting,” Steve’s voice sounded from the doorway and Bucky’s eyes darted in his direction, “but for some reason, seeing you with a mouthful of sticky white stuff is kind of arousing right now."

Steve was casually leaning on the doorframe, hands in the front pocket of his apron as he grinned. Bucky lowered the icing bag and tilted his head forwards again before slowly, and very deliberately closing his mouth and swallowing. A small bead escaped his lips and collected in the corner as he smiled innocently back.

"There’s nothing sweeter!" he replied.

Bucky watched as Steve ducked his head, glancing away as he grinned before pushing off the doorframe and walking towards him. Bucky’s breathing sped up, because Steve was actually stalking, each step deliberate and confident until he reached Bucky and slipped a slender hand around Bucky’s waist. Blue eyes closing slowly, Steve reached up and pressed the flat of his tongue against the corner of Bucky’s mouth.

His breath hitched as Steve’s tongue dragged across the delicate skin, rough and wet, his plump bottom lip soft as it followed to suck the icing away gently.

“Tease…” Bucky groaned softly and he felt Steve smile against his cheek before pulling away. The hand at Bucky’s waist dropped too, and Bucky was suddenly aware of feeling hotter than he had before.

“Thanks for doing the shortbread,” Steve said gratefully, as though he hadn’t just licked icing from Bucky’s mouth in an overtly sexual manner. “It’s a bit less hectic out there now. We’re still busy – I don’t know what the mad rush for baked goods is all about today – but you can hang out in the shop for a bit if you like?”

Bucky let out a shaky breath as he watched Steve turn around and leave, carrying the tray of freshly iced shortbread with him. That boy was definitely a firecracker and Bucky loved it.

He stayed for the rest of the afternoon, sitting on the windowsill beside the open door, answering emails and making phone calls when it was busy and chatting with Steve and Peggy when it got quieter. He hadn’t had the chance to speak much to Peggy Carter since this whole thing began and he was thrilled to find that she was just as interesting as Steve. She talked about growing up in England and that her family had wanted her to go to Cambridge but she had run away with her inheritance money and gone to baking school in New York instead.

Bucky loved the way Steve smiled as she told her stories. Peggy Carter was obviously to Steve what Natasha was to Bucky – the one person who you could count on if your life ever went tits up, the person who’d shared terrible moments with you, but also the best ones in the world. Peggy was Steve’s best friend and one look told Bucky that Steve adored her.

He stayed until they closed up, Peggy packing up whatever was left in the display (minus half a large apple and cinnamon cake that Steve nabbed for dessert later), and loading it into the van to take to the homeless shelter. Bucky was left alone with Steve who was washing down all the surfaces with a cloth.

“So I was wondering,” Steve said, wiping his brow with the back of his hand. “Since you’ve been here all afternoon and you’ve helped out and it’s been all hot and disgustingly sweaty here today, do you maybe want to stay for a while? I could order pizza, you could maybe take a shower and we could crash on the couch for a while?”

Bucky grinned from his perch on the windowsill.

“You saying I’m disgustingly sweaty?”

“No,” Steve laughed, “But I am, and things are always cooler after a shower. Plus, I have some better sketches of Sam and Natasha’s cake if you want to look.”

Bucky’s grin widened.

“I’d love to.”

~

Bucky’s sweaty clothes were being laundered and he was currently sitting on Steve’s couch in just his underwear, hair still damp from the shower and Steve did not mind one darn bit. He had winced slightly at seeing the faint bruise on Bucky’s shoulder from the bite mark he had left, but surprisingly hadn’t felt guilty about it since discovering that Bucky had rather liked being treated roughly. This wasn’t to say that Steve hadn’t surprised himself – he wasn’t the kind of guy to just jump into bed with somebody who was practically a stranger, never mind ravage them. But Bucky was magnetic and Steve loved everything about him. Being around him, being with him, felt right and he didn’t get that feeling about people very often in his life.

Steve had his own shower and put on clean underwear and a t-shirt, not being entirely comfortable as Bucky seemed to be with being mostly naked. The pizza had taken a delightfully short time to arrive and they were contentedly sitting side by side on the couch, a slice in hand and Steve’s sketchbook balanced between them.

“So we’re going for the passion fruit crème,” he said to Bucky who hummed in confirmation. “And I’ve got three variations on the blue you wanted. Now, we don’t want to over-do it, but keeping with the whole Russian theme I thought accent colours of white and gold? Very fine piping.”

“Yeah, that sounds nice,” Bucky replied, pointing to the colour in the middle. “I like this one, it matches the Gatchina Palace egg on the flyer I gave you. And the shape – do you think you can do three tiers of oval? Staggered, kinda like steps?”

“Sure, that would look great. I can make a little marzipan replica of the Gatchina Palace egg to go on the top. You know, instead of your regular cake topper.”

“You can do that?” Bucky asked with a smile.

“Of course!” Steve replied. “And maybe the scalloped wreath design around the circumference in the gold and white, and the sugar pearls?”

“Sounds beautiful,” Bucky said. “You are actually a cake genius, did you know that?”

Steve grinned as he closed his sketchbook and put it on the table, finishing off his slice of pizza.

“I’m really not, I’m just…doing what I enjoy doing.”

“Which is making some of the most perfect cakes I have ever seen,” Bucky replied, nudging his shoulder lightly.

Steve allowed himself to sway under the gentle pressure and smiled.

“Thank you,” he replied quietly.

“You’re welcome,” Bucky murmured in response.

They looked at each other for a moment, both smiling, bare knees touching from how close they were sitting.

Steve remembered how he had boldly licked icing from the corner of Bucky’s mouth earlier that afternoon, tasting the sweet stickiness mingled with the salt of fresh perspiration on Bucky’s skin. It had been like heaven on his tongue and Steve had wanted to kiss Bucky properly ever since. Despite their rather steamy session almost a week ago, they still hadn’t properly kissed.

He leaned in gently, watching as Bucky’s eyes followed his movements sharply. Steve dropped his gaze to Bucky’s mouth, lips slightly parted and soft.

“Can I kiss you?” Steve asked softly.

Bucky smiled and bit his bottom lip at the corner.

“Yeah,” he replied, his voice barely above a whisper.

Steve closed the gap swiftly, his hand coming up to cradle Bucky’s cheek as he pressed his lips against those soft ones. His stomach did a backflip, heart hammering against his ribcage as Bucky’s lips parted to give him access, hands finding Steve’s waist and pulling him in.

They kissed slowly, tongues grazing lightly, Steve’s hands finding their way into Bucky’s soft, damp hair and Bucky’s fingers slipping under the hem of Steve’s t-shirt to stroke over the soft skin and the prominent bumps of his spine. Bucky steadily reclined on the couch, mouth never breaking from Steve’s as he drew him down, Steve nestling easily in the space between Bucky’s thighs.

It had been so long since Steve had done this and it felt amazing. He lost track of time with a solid, warm body under his, confident hands on his skin and a gorgeously talented tongue brushing against his own. Steve was in heaven, a warm glow throughout his entire body as he was surrounded by Bucky and nothing else in the world mattered.

A long while later they broke apart, Steve leaving a trail of tiny kisses across Bucky’s jaw before snuggling into the space on his chest, tucking his head neatly under Bucky’s chin. He sighed happily as one of Bucky’s hands thread lightly through his hair while the other one slowly and firmly stroked up and down his back.

“I like kissing you,” Bucky murmured into his hair and Steve smiled.

“Good,” he replied. “Because I plan on doing it a lot more.”

“Oh do you, now?”

“Yes,” Steve replied confidently, lifting his head from Bucky’s chest. Bucky grinned at him and Steve grinned back, reaching up to kiss him again, once, soft and lingering. “Will you stay with me tonight?” he whispered.

Bucky’s eyebrows rose.

“What happened to taking it slow?” he murmured.

Steve’s lips quirked at the corner.

“We don’t have to do anything,” he replied. “Just…stay with me? Please?”

Bucky’s smile was beautiful as he shifted forward and caught Steve’s mouth in another kiss.

“Of course I will.”

~

Bucky was vaguely aware of a wake-up alarm, but it wasn’t his wake-up alarm, so he went back to sleep. A little while later, he was vaguely aware of a soft kiss being pressed against his temple – he smiled in his sleep and knew nothing more until his own wake-up alarm went off at 7am. He sighed as he reached out for his phone, turned the noise off and rolled onto his back, head lolling to the side. The bed space next to his was empty, but there was a note left on the pillow. Bucky smiled as he read the small, neat handwriting.

Had to open the bakery. Didn’t want to wake you.

- Steve x

They had spent the night curled around each other. At some point Steve had lost his t-shirt and Bucky had pulled the skinny little body close, feeling the cool skin against his own. He had followed Steve’s lead, kissing when Steve had wanted to kiss, stroking when he wanted to touch. They had drifted off to sleep in each other’s arms, only to wake up after a couple of hours and start kissing again.

Bucky didn’t remember the last time he’d just lain entwined with somebody with no expectations of doing anything more than kissing. In fact, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever done it before in his life, but Bucky did know that if he had to pick one person to kiss for the rest of his life, it would be Steve Rogers.

He got out of bed to find that Steve had taken his clothes out of the dryer and lain them out for him, and he couldn’t help the smile that rose to his face as he thought about Steve, getting up early to work but still making sure that Bucky knew where to find his clean clothes.

Bucky dressed quickly and made his way downstairs and outside, opening the door to the bakery.

“We’re not open ye…oh! Hello,” Peggy said, surprised as she looked up from setting out neat rows of bread on the back shelf.

“Hi,” he replied with a grin. “Steve around?”

As if on cue, Steve appeared with a tray of pastries fresh from the oven, a smear of powdered sugar already across his forehead. Bucky’s heart skipped a beat again, now standard practice around Steve Rogers.

“Hey,” Steve said, beaming. “You’re awake.”

“Awake?” repeated Peggy. “You stayed the night?”

“With pants on,” Bucky replied defensively. “I didn’t take advantage, I swear!”

Peggy rolled her eyes good-naturedly and went back to the bread as Steve crossed over to him, wrapped his arms around Bucky’s waist and reached up to kiss him. Bucky grinned happily into it as he stroked his hands over Steve’s hair and down his neck to rest them on his shoulders, squeezing lightly. Steve chuckled and broke away.

“I left a note this time,” he murmured.

“I saw,” said Bucky, grinning. “Thank you for that.”

They held each other for a moment, smiling and happy until Peggy’s light cough disturbed them. Steve sighed.

“And that’s my cue to get back to work,” he groaned.

“Speaking of work, I have to get back to Manhattan. Text you later?”

“Okay,” Steve murmured and kissed him once more.

Bucky felt like he was walking on air as he walked the few blocks to the subway. No bitchy bride was going to bring him down from his high today.

Chapter Text

The 4th of July was, as blissfully expected, hotter than the fires of hell as Bucky made his way over to Brooklyn with a pack of beer, six t-bone steaks and Clint Barton in tow. Natasha had called the night before and asked if they had any plans for the day, which they hadn’t –Bucky had only planned on hanging around Clint’s apartment and drinking all his booze – so she had invited them over for a barbeque on the roof of their building. Clint actually seemed pretty excited about it, which made a change, because Clint rarely got excited about anything these days.

Everyone was already on the roof, all the doors propped open to give the guys easy access. Steve, Sam, Nat and Peggy were the building’s only tenants, living above the bakery so they at least didn’t have to share the roof with anyone else. The smell of chargrilled meat met them as they climbed the stairs and made it back outside.

“Happy Independence Day!” Bucky called cheerfully, holding up his holiday offerings and everyone stopped talking to turn and stare at him.

“Happy what?” Peggy asked innocently.

Bucky grinned and rolled his eyes.

“Okay, English lady, I get it. You don’t celebrate it.”

“Celebrate what?” Sam asked just as innocently.

“Yeah, we don’t know what Independence Day is,” said Natasha sweetly. “I don’t know what you think it is today, but we’re all here celebrating Steve’s birthday.”

Bucky’s eyes slid to Steve. Despite his confusion, he felt the familiar fluttering in his stomach at Steve’s wickedly innocent smile. He’d never seen Steve look so casual, dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, one bare foot resting in front of him on the bench he was sitting on and the other swinging just above the floor. Bucky raised an eyebrow.

“You guys are shitting me. Nobody is really born on the 4th of July.”

“I was,” Steve replied mildly.

They all blinked at him, each one trying hard not to laugh, except for Clint who was just as clueless as Bucky was and shrugged. Eventually, Steve pulled his wallet from his pocket, opened it, and handed over his ID.

“Steven Grant Rogers, date of birth…July 4th 1988. Fuck all of you! You did this on purpose!”

Bucky grinned as they all burst out laughing and allowed himself to be pulled down to the space on the ground between Steve’s feet.

“Don’t worry,” Steve murmured in his ear. “I’ll make up for it later.”

Bucky bit his lip to stop any verbal response that might have sounded like an appreciative moan and he handed over the steaks to Sam. Clint, who had been watching the whole exchange, shrugged.

“Why the fuck do I even hang around with you crazy people?”

“Because we’re awesome,” Natasha replied. “By the way, Steve and Peggy, this is Clint Barton. He was in Fight Club with James and I.”

Peggy said hello and smiled, but Steve…Steve signed hello.

Bucky’s knowledge of sign language was mostly limited to curse words and insults – Clint’s lip-reading was perfect and he could hear well enough with his hearing aids, so he rarely signed despite having become fluent in a very short space of time.

Clint’s face lit up as he signed back, and then before Bucky knew it, both men were having a full conversation with their hands. His jaw dropped as he stared at Steve.

“What the fuck? You know sign language too?”

The silent conversation stopped and Steve looked at him, cheeks starting to turn slightly pink.

“Er…yes,” he replied hesitantly. His eyes flickered to Natasha and then back to Bucky before he said. “I learned as a kid – I’m actually forty percent deaf in my left ear.”

Bucky stared at him for a moment.

“You get more amazing every time I see you,” he murmured.

Steve blushed fully and smiled, looking away bashfully.

“Aaaaaaaaand now you’re getting sappy, Barnes,” Clint cut in. “Shut up and give me a beer.”

It was a great afternoon. They drank beer and covered themselves in sun lotion to prevent scorching in the hot July sun. Bucky spent most of his time on the floor between Steve’s legs, cheek resting against a bare, skinny knee whilst those long, slender fingers carded through his hair. He didn’t care if it ended up looking a mess – he was with Steve and he was with his friends, and he didn’t remember ever having such a great holiday in his life.

He was also shocked at how much Steve could eat – the kid had practically inhaled the largest of the t-bone steaks that Bucky had brought with him, plus two hot dogs, several sticky honey barbecue ribs, a slice of New York vanilla cheesecake and a large helping of Peggy’s speciality apple pie with cream.

“Where the hell are you putting all of this?” Bucky asked in awe. “You’re like, ninety pounds soaking wet – you can’t possibly have eaten it all!”

Bucky had even checked under all the plates to see if Steve had hidden it, but there was nothing there.

“I have a fast metabolism,” Steve laughed as Bucky shook his head in disbelief.

“It’s true,” said Peggy. “He eats a shit-ton.”

“But HOW?” he had asked seriously, but everyone had just laughed at him as Natasha handed Bucky a small slice of cake.

Steve had gently dragged him back between his legs and kissed the top of his head gently. He’d also eaten half of Bucky’s cake.

~

Steve was genuinely happy.

His past few birthdays had been spent with Peggy and Nat and Sam, and they had all been sure to make a big deal over the fact that it was his birthday as well as a national holiday. They put up birthday streamers instead of red, white and blue, and when the sun went down and the fireworks went off, they would sing happy birthday.

This year he had Bucky. At least, Steve felt like he had Bucky. They were officially dating, but one official date ending with the hottest and wildest sex that Steve had ever experienced, and one unofficial date, half naked on his sofa eating pizza and then kissing for hours and falling asleep together didn’t actually constitute a relationship, did it? Either way, he was happy that Bucky was here, sitting passively at his feet like a large, overgrown puppy whilst Steve petted him.

He was glad that Bucky hadn’t been too upset about the prank they had all played about not informing him of Steve’s birthday. Steve had promised to make it up to him later, once he could get Bucky alone, but Bucky had managed to get his own back.

At some point during the day Natasha and Sam and mentioned that Steve had set their ringtones in his phone to ‘Killer Queen’ and ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, respectively. It was only an hour or so later, when Steve’s phone rang very loudly to the tune of ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ that he realised Bucky had stolen his phone and programmed it to his number before slipping it back beside Steve. Everyone had fallen about laughing while Bucky just smiled innocently at him. Steve loved it.

He had also had the opportunity to finally meet Clint Barton, who had served in Special Forces with both Nat and Bucky. Steve had been thrilled when he’d noticed the tiny hearing aid in Clint’s ear as he had turned, and the two of them had spent a good deal of time talking in sign language. Most of it had been about Bucky.

“He’s a good kid, you know,” Barton had told him.

“I know,” Steve signed back before giving Bucky’s scalp a gentle scritch. Bucky tilted his head back and gave him such an adoring look that Steve felt his insides melt.

“Look at him,” Clint said once Steve’s attention was on him. “He wears his heart on his sleeve for fuck’s sake. People think he’s all big and tough, but he’s not.”

“He’s like a puppy,” Steve replied jokingly.

“Why do you think I keep him around?” Clint had signed back with a grin. “He annoys the hell out of me, but he’s still one of the most loyal people I’ve ever met, who will always have my back no matter what. You be good to him, Rogers.”

He smiled and nodded just as Bucky looked back up at him again with a raised brow.

“What’s he telling you about me?”

“Only good stuff,” Steve replied with a grin.

“Likely story,” he said, but he was smiling as he took a sip of his beer.

Clint snorted with amusement.

“Don’t let him know I’ve been saying nice things about him,” he signed. “We exist on a plane of antagonistic teasing. I’d hate for things to change.”

Steve burst out laughing and Bucky looked at him again with confusion, but Steve just leaned forward and kissed him softly on the nose.

He did very much like Bucky Barnes. He loved the way the guy looked, how he talked, how much his friends loved him, the way he kissed. Steve was dying to get Bucky alone again so he could experience more of the kissing. In fact, as it started to get dark, that’s all Steve could think about.

~

The fireworks had been amazing. Bucky had watched them with Steve’s small arms wrapped around his shoulders, loving the way his face lit up with Bucky whispered happy birthday.

“Come on,” Natasha had said as soon as they were finished, pulling Sam to his feet. “Independence Day starts in ten minutes and I have a craving for popcorn.”

“Excellent,” replied Peggy cheerfully. “There’s nothing I love to watch more than Aliens blowing up New York.”

Bucky had laughed and had moved to follow them, but found himself being pulled back by Steve who immediately wrapped his arms around Bucky’s middle.

“Not you,” Steve murmured with a smile. “I still have to make it up to you about not telling you it was my birthday.”

A delightful warmth began to curl its way around in the pit of Bucky’s belly and he grinned down at Steve, pushing the straw-blond hair back gently with both hands.

“Oh?” he replied innocently as the others left the roof, leaving them alone. “What, do I get a cupcake or something?”

“No,” Steve said with a smile, blue eyes big in the darkness. “You get me.”

Bucky’s heart was beating too fast as Steve kissed him, lips soft against his, tongue coaxing Bucky’s mouth open. He felt Steve’s hands on his hips and gentle pressure that forced him to take several steps back until the back of his knees hit the metal frame of the sun lounger Clint had been occupying for most of the afternoon. Bucky sat down heavily, the slow, steady kiss breaking too fast and leaving him mourning the loss of Steve’s mouth.

He shuffled back on the reclined lounger and Steve climbed into his lap, one skinny knee each side of Bucky’s thighs, balancing on the flimsy cloth-and-wire frame that supported them. Bucky wrapped his arms around the small back and drew Steve close, but this time Steve’s mouth didn’t land on his. The little baker ducked his head and pressed a kiss to the underside of Bucky’s jaw, drawing from him a hard, shuddering breath. Steve’s teeth nipped gently, lips slowly sucking at the skin on Bucky’s neck for a second, just over the pulse point before releasing, kissing, and moving on. When Steve’s teeth bit sharply into his earlobe, released, and were followed by those soft lips sucking wetly at it, the sensation shot straight down to Bucky’s groin and he moaned loudly.

“Steve,” he murmured breathlessly. “If you’re wanting to keep with the whole ‘going slow’ thing, you might not want to keep doing that.”

Steve’s breath was warm on his ear as he huffed in amusement.

“Good?”

“A little too good,” Bucky admitted, his hands slipping up under Steve’s t-shirt. “Congratulations, you’ve found the one thing that turns me on super fast.”

“I’ll make sure to catalogue that for later,” Steve replied softly.

Bucky was pretty sure that his jeans were getting tighter at the thought of Steve saving that information for a later date – the fact that there was actually going to be a later date.

He was starting to breathe hard and one of Steve’s hands found itself in Bucky’s hair, just tight enough for Steve to guide Bucky’s head easily into position as he paid very thorough attention to his neck. As Steve licked and kissed and sucked, his free hand snaked under Bucky’s shirt, thumbnail scratching lightly over Bucky’s right nipple until it was a hard, sensitive little nub and Bucky was rocking his hips involuntarily up against Steve’s body.

The light rocking built up gradually in intensity until they were grinding hard against each other, Bucky’s head thrown back against the lounger, gasping and moaning into the still night air. Steve never let up on his neck and throat, and Bucky’s lust-fogged brain could only guess the state his skin would be in by the end of the night. His hands roamed all over Steve’s back, stroking over the prominent bumps of his spine, brushing over the outline of ribs under the skin, up over sharp shoulder blades, and then all the way down again, fingers dipping under the waistband of Steve’s shorts.

Steve was making soft appreciative noises against Bucky’s neck, the soft vibrations of his mouth sending shivers straight down Bucky’s spine. He was hot and ridiculously turned on by Steve’s gorgeous mouth and the way he was rutting against Bucky, a hardness that matched Bucky’s own bumping against his hip with every undulation. One brush against his cock and Bucky would probably have come in his pants right there.

But as usual, all good things come to an end, and they were interrupted abruptly by Clint calling to Bucky from just inside the door to the roof.

“Alright lovebirds, your time is up for the night. I have to get a cab back to Brooklyn and I’ll be damned if I can afford one on my own at this time of night on the 4th of July, so get your ass in gear Barnes!”

Bucky groaned aloud in frustration as Steve’s kisses stopped and their slow, steady rutting ground t a halt.

“Gimme a minute Barton,” he called back, his voice embarrassingly strained.

Steve sat up in his lap and sighed gently. He was gorgeously flushed from his cheeks, all the way down his neck to his chest, his lips red and swollen.

“Damn,” Steve murmured.

“You’re tellin’ me,” Bucky replied, raising himself up off the recliner with a sigh and smiled, rubbing his hands down Steve’s arms. “I was very much enjoying myself.”

Steve grinned at him.

“Well, maybe we can pick up where we left off sometime soon?”

“I really hope so,” Bucky chuckled, and he leaned forward to kiss Steve again.

“BARNES, WILL YOU QUIT FUCKING AROUND AND GET YOUR ASS DOWN HERE?” Clint yelled fro the bottom of the stairs.

Bucky rolled his eyes.

“The Asshole summons me,” he said, making Steve laugh.

Bucky kissed him once more before they untangled for good and he made his way back down to Clint, trying desperately to adjust his jeans over his evident erection with one hand and smooth his hair down with the other. The moment Clint saw his he sighed heavily and rolled his eyes.

“Oh my god, you’re like a fucking teenager,” he muttered.

“Considering you’ve actually known me since I was a teenager, I’m not sure how to take that statement,” Bucky replied with a grin as they made their way out of the building.

“No, I don’t mean eighteen-year-old sniper, I mean fourteen-year-old horny school kid.”

Bucky snorted as they jumped into the waiting taxi and gave the driver directions.

“Can’t you ever just be happy for me, Barton?” he asked, smiling.

Clint turned to look at him and sighed heavily.

“I am happy for you. As long as you don’t give me every intimate detail of your sex life this time!”

A wicked grin spread across Bucky’s face and he watched Barton’s face fall – he was absolutely going to regret saying that.

Chapter Text

Bucky was in the middle of making breakfast when his phone rang and he dived for it, almost sending it flying off the counter top instead.

“Hello?”

“James Barnes?” answered an unfamiliar female voice.

“Speaking.”

“This is the Blue House Hotel in New York State,” the female voice replied. “I was informed that you’d left a message regarding availability on the first weekend of September.”

“Oh!” Bucky replied.

The Blue House Hotel was situated in upstate New York and had been built by a wealthy Russian family who had fled the country just days before the Revolution kicked off. The building was beautiful – traditional Russian style, wooden, and painted a deep Imperial Blue with white accents. The grounds were extensive and it had a lake and rose gardens, and Bucky had never fallen in love with a potential wedding venue so fast in his life. It would be more than perfect for Natasha and Sam’s wedding, if only it was available on the right date.

He explained to the woman on the phone about his friend’s Russian heritage and about the Gatchina Palace Faberge Egg cake that was being made, and she seemed more than happy to help.

“We have that weekend available,” she confirmed. “We would be very happy to have you come and take a look – see if the hotel is suitable for your needs, maybe do a menu sampling?”

“That would be fantastic. When can I schedule?”

The woman was quiet for a moment, presumably looking through the calendar.

“Actually,” she said quietly. “If you could make it up today, I’m pretty sure we could accommodate you easily. That’s if you have the time, otherwise I’m sure we could make another date.”

“Today is fine,” Bucky replied swiftly. He really needed to book a venue fast so that Nat could send out invites and give him a guest list, and he had nothing going on today that couldn’t wait twenty-four hours. “Just give me a couple of hours to get up there.”

Bucky called the car rental company he often used and asked them to drop around with a very smart but unassuming black Mercedes. He got in the shower while he waited, and since the weather was still hot, dressed in his most lightweight suit pants and a plain white shirt. Then he called Steve.

“Are you desperately busy today?” Bucky asked when Steve answered his call.

“Uh…I guess not. Why?”

“Because the most perfect wedding venue in the world just called me up and asked if I could come up to look at it today. It’s an hour or so upstate and I wondered if you wanted to come look at it with me?”

“Oh, I dunno Bucky,” Steve replied, sounding disappointed. “If we have to travel upstate, I’m not sure if I can leave Peggy by herself here for a whole day…”

There were sounds of a tussle, and hushed whispering, and then Peggy had the phone.

“Peggy can manage just fine. Come and pick him up right now and whisk him away for the day.”

Bucky grinned, thanked her, and hung up. Thank you, Peggy Carter.

~

Steve rarely had the opportunity to take the day off when it didn’t involve being sick, so when Peggy had basically shoved him out of the bakery and told him to change his shirt and be ready to leave in ten minutes, he was grateful and overjoyed.

Now he was sitting beside Bucky in a really beautiful rental car, windows rolled down, wind in his hair, and laughing at the fact that Bucky knew every single word to Nicki Minaj’s ‘Super Bass’.

“How do you even know this?” he asked with a grin.

“I spend a lot of time at weddings!” Bucky replied. “You tend to hear the cheesy pop music a lot.”

“Dude, you are so gay,” Steve said, shaking his head with a smile as Bucky laughed uproariously. “Do you have anything other than Nicki Minaj on your iPod?”

“What’s wrong with Nicki?”

“Nothing in moderation,” replied Steve. “But this is like, a whole album.”

Bucky flashed a grin at him before leaning over to change the music.

“Is George Ezra more acceptable to your sensitive musical tastes?”

A folksy, acoustic track with a deep male voice started playing and Steve made a noise of approval. After three tracks, he took out his phone and purchased the album.

“Well, I’m glad to know your musical taste isn’t entirely terrible,” he said grinning.

“Stevie, I am determined to make you appreciate Nicki Minaj, even if it takes me years!”

Bucky was grinning, watching the road. Steve knew that Bucky hadn’t really even thought of the words before they left his mouth – it was a throwaway remark, but just the thought of the possibility of years with Bucky Barnes made his heart glow. It was something he really wouldn’t mind having a go at.

~

The Blue House Hotel was even more beautiful than Bucky had expected it to be from the online pictures. The paint was bright and regal, and the grounds were covered in lush green grass that swept down to a sizable private lake where ducks swam happily.

Inside, the floors were rustic wood, the staircases and support beams all beautifully carved, and everything was in shades of blue and cream and grey and dark red and gold. The lobby floor was covered in individually patterned ceramic tiles, there were open fireplaces, and the bedrooms were sumptuous. It was so perfect he could have cried.

“We’ll take it,” he told Tania, the woman he had spoken to on the phone. She was a smartly dressed woman in her early forties who had given them both the full tour and explained the building’s entire history to them as they went. “It’s absolutely perfect.”

“Wonderful,” she beamed. “I’ve asked the chef to prepare a sample menu for you. Would you like to eat on the terrace by the lake?”

“What do you think, Stevie?”

Steve had been pretty much silent through the whole thing, blue eyes wide as he took in the beautiful architecture and furnishings of the hotel, occasionally running his hand over the intricately detailed woodwork or the velvet upholstery. He turned to Bucky and gave his beautiful smile, reaching out to take Bucky’s hand in his.

“I think I’d like that,” he murmured.

His hand was cool despite the heat of the day and Bucky felt immensely happy as they followed Tania down to the lake terrace.

“So, you’re getting married on the first Saturday in September, yes?” she said, smiling at them both.

Steve and Bucky glanced at each other, looked down at their clasped hands and both started to laugh.

“Oh, it’s not our wedding,” Bucky replied cheerfully. “It’s our friends’. I’m their wedding planner and he’s baking their wedding cake.”

“Oh,” Tania responded, her cheeks colouring slightly. “I’m sorry. I just presumed…”

“Its fine,” Steve said kindly, smiling. “We are dating, but it hasn’t been long enough yet to start planning our wedding.”

Bucky grinned at him and gently bumped his shoulder into Steve’s. He didn’t know why, but it pleased him that Tania had mistaken him and Steve for the engaged couple. Steve’s choice of words didn’t escape Bucky’s attention either. One month and four dates, and Steve was saying ‘our wedding’ instead of ‘a wedding’- the implication that Steve could possibly see Bucky in his future made his head swim and his heart beat fast, and he had to tell himself not to read too much into it. Bucky already knew that he adored Steve, that he wanted to keep seeing him, keep learning about him, keep falling asleep with that small, fragile body pressed against his.

They had passed the drive up in a relative easy quiet, listening to the music on Bucky’s iPod and Steve had teased him about his music taste. It had almost been like the pair of them had been doing this for years – it was new, but it was comfortable. It didn’t seem impossible at all that they could actually be together for real.

The sample dishes were all delicious and Bucky had a difficult time choosing, something not helped by the fact that Steve kept feeding him morsels over the table, with that not-so innocent smile of his. This could have almost been a proper date – food and wine by a lake in the grounds of a very beautiful hotel on a sunny day in New York State.

Eventually, Bucky settled on the starters and mains, but left the dessert choices up to Steve who seemed happy to have his opinion valued. They gave their selections to Tania and sat back with a bottle of ice cold Pinot Grigiot in the afternoon sunshine.

“This place is so fucking beautiful,” Bucky sighed happily. “I mean, it was gorgeous on the pictures, but it’s even better in reality. Nat is gonna love it.”

Steve grinned.

“Is Sam actually getting anything for him in this wedding, or is it all Natasha?”

“Sam wants a swing band,” Bucky chuckled, “but apart from that, he’s happy to go with whatever Nat wants, and Nat told me to do what I want. So we’re doing this.”

He lifted his glass and took a sip, watching as Steve smiled at him.

“How long have you known Natasha?”

“Since I was eighteen,” Bucky replied.

“She doesn’t talk much about her life, you know, before moving in next door. I know you can’t talk about ‘Fight Club’, but she’s never mentioned her family or anything.”

“That’s because she doesn’t have any,” Bucky told him. “Her parents were, like, Russian Mafia or something. She got taken away and put into care real young. Most of the guests are going to be Sam’s family – he has more than enough.”

Steve smiled and took another sip of his wine.

“She’s my family,” he said quietly and Bucky grinned at him.

“Mine too.”

“Nat, Sam and Peggy are all my family. They kinda make sure I don’t end up killing myself by working too hard or forgetting to take my pills. They all look after me when I get sick…”

Bucky raised his eyebrows.

“You get sick a lot?”

“Yeah,” Steve said with a rueful smile. “I have a list of health problems as long as my arm!”

“There’s a list?” he replied dully.

Steve laughed before taking a larger sip of wine and putting his glass down.

“I have asthma, which you know about,” he ticked off a finger, “I also have pernicious anaemia which is a vitamin B12 deficiency. If I’d been born 70 years ago, that probably would have killed me because they hadn’t figured out how to replace the B12 outside of eating half a pound of raw liver a day. You know about my hearing problem. I have mild scoliosis, flat feet, a heart murmur, I suffer from high blood pressure…”

“Fuck!” Bucky exclaimed, shocked at the sheer amount.

“Yeah, that’s pretty much what everyone says,” Steve replied with a grin.

“You have to be superhuman to survive all of that!”

Steve burst out laughing at him. Bucky couldn’t believe that somebody could have that many things wrong with them and still be the most perfect human being on the planet. No wonder Steve was so small and fragile-looking.

“Nah,” Steve said finally. “I just have really good people taking care of me.”

“You’re actually amazing,” Bucky countered. “I don’t care if you don’t believe me. I think you’re amazing to have so many things that could hold you back, yet refuse to let them.”

Steve smiled at him again and drained his glass of wine before leaning over for the bottle.

“Do you want another glass?” he asked.

“Oh shit…” Bucky replied, suddenly stuck with the fact that he was drinking wine, and they had travelled here from New York City in a car. “How many of these have I had?”

“Er…three.”

“Shit!” he repeated. “We drove here! I’m over the limit now, I can’t get us home!”

Steve looked at him silently for a few seconds and then a coy smile spread across his face.

“So if you can’t drive us home, I guess we’re stuck here.”

Bucky raised his eyebrows.

“I guess we are.”

He watched as Steve set his empty glass back on the table and stood, moving around the table and holding out his hand.

“So…do you want to check out the rooms here? For research purposes, of course.”

Bucky felt himself grinning, his heart starting to beat just that little bit faster as he rose and linked his fingers through Steve’s.

“I think you may be on to something there, Stevie.”

~

Halfway up the stairs to the room, Steve stopped on the step above Bucky to kiss him, delighting in how Bucky’s arms immediately wrapped around him, the small contented sigh Bucky exhaled against his lips, and Steve would be damned if he hadn’t been waiting to do this all day. Bucky’s mouth tasted like fresh Pinot Grigio and the sweetness of the Crème Brulee that Steve had chosen for Sam and Nat’s menu.

He loved kissing Bucky, the way his bottom lip lingered for just a second longer than the top drove Steve out of his mind, and he reluctantly pulled away to drag him the rest of the way up the stairs so he could get Bucky alone and in the privacy of a bedroom.

Bucky was grinning at him as they finally got to their room and closed the door and Steve reached for him, pulling him in and running his hands up Bucky’s sides slowly.

“I have been dying to get you alone like this for two weeks,” he breathed, brushing his mouth gently against Bucky’s jaw. Steve could feel Bucky’s breathing falter.

“Have you now?” Bucky murmured.

“Mmhmm,” Steve replied. God, he smelled gorgeous – all New York State summer and faint undertones of cologne. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to get you naked and in bed with me, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.”

Bucky gasped as Steve nipped at his jaw and moved his hands around to rest on his stomach. Raising his head, Steve’s knees went weak when he saw the way Bucky was looking at him, lips slightly parted, breathing heavily, pupils so wide that his eyes looked almost black instead of blue.

“Are we still taking this slow?” Bucky asked softly.

“We could say that we’re building up?” Steve suggested, biting his lip apprehensively. He was being forward, putting himself out there and hoping to God that Bucky felt the same way about it.

Bucky’s arms wrapped around Steve’s waist again, hands gently, almost hesitantly moving down over the curve of Steve’s backside.

“Don’t be scared to touch me if you want to,” Steve said quietly. “I’m pretty tiny but I’m not gonna break over a little manhandling.”

Bucky chuckled and suddenly those strong hands were down on the back of his thighs, lifting Steve easily and making him gasp in pleasant surprise.

“I think building up is a great idea,” Bucky said as Steve wrapped his legs around Bucky’s waist, hands balling up in his soft dark hair.

His breathing was shallow as Bucky carried him over to the bed, put one knee on the mattress and gently lowered Steve down onto it. Bucky was above him, looking down on him like Steve was the best thing he’d ever had in his bed, and Steve could feel the heat creeping across his face, spreading slowly down his neck and his chest. One soft tug of Bucky’s hair brought him close enough to kiss, Steve’s tongue pushing deliberately between Bucky’s parted lips as he used his legs, still wrapped around Bucky’s hips, to bring their bodies closer together.

Their kissing was slow but heated, fingers working swiftly at shirt buttons to get them undone so they could push away the cool cotton and get their hands on hot skin instead. Bucky’s mouth moved down over his throat and sucked gently, causing Steve to moan loudly before Bucky moved back up to reclaim Steve’s mouth.

Bucky wasn’t making any moves to take the further and Steve suddenly realised that Bucky was following his lead – he was waiting for Steve to say that it was okay, to set the pace and dictate what they did next. Steve would have been lying if he’d said that it didn’t make him feel powerful to be in charge.

“I think we’re still overdressed,” he mumbled around a kiss and Bucky stopped to pull back and look down the length of their bodies. It was evident they were both hard and straining against their pants.

“What do you want me to do about that?” Bucky asked breathlessly.

Steve grinned.

“Well I did say I wanted to get you naked…”

Bucky grinned back as he sat up on knees, holding Steve’s gaze as he popped open Steve’s jeans with one hand and worked his own pants open with his other hand. Steve wormed his way out of his jeans awkwardly, too caught up in watching Bucky’s pants sliding over his hips and down his thighs, gorgeously curved cock bouncing up against is taut belly as it was freed.

Last time they had been naked together, Steve had been too hasty, too worked up and drunk to pay attention to how beautiful Bucky’s body was – all toned and taut with a dick that made Steve’s mouth water.

“Come. Here,” he commanded softly, moving up the bed and pulling aside the covers to climb underneath.

Bucky’s eyes followed his every movement and he slowly crawled in next to him. Steve wanted every inch of that body against his and he reached for Bucky the second they were both under the cool covers. He watched Bucky’s face carefully, listened to the sound of his breathing getting heavier as Steve’s hands trailed down over his stomach, hitching as Steve’s hand wrapped solidly around the base.

“Is this okay?” he whispered.

Bucky was almost panting as he nodded.

“Oh, it’s more than okay,” he breathed. “I think I’ve been fantasising about this for a while now.”

“Good,” Steve replied, reaching out for Bucky’s empty hand, pulling it towards him and placing it very low on his stomach invitingly. His other hand drew slowly up Bucky’s shaft, delighting in the feel of the hard, silky-smooth flesh under his palm and the sigh Bucky let out. “So have I.”

Steve moaned softly as Bucky’s hand finally wrapped around his cock, heat blazing in the pit of his belly at the touch. Their hands worked slowly in a steady rhythm, and their breathing grew heavier. Steve wanted Bucky so badly, wanted to hear him moan, wanted Bucky to get him so hot and worked up that he wouldn't be able to stand it. It was working really well, Bucky's hand warm and firm on his dick, sliding down to tug gently at his balls before stroking back up again as Steve worked Bucky just as good.

“I gotta admit, Rogers,” Bucky murmured, nuzzling against his neck as Steve’s wrist slowly twisted at the head and moved back down the shaft. “Knowing that you’ve been thinking about jerking me off is a serious turn on.”

“That’s not all I’ve been thinking about,” Steve admitted, sliding his free hand into Bucky’s hair as the other continued working steadily.

“No?”

“Honestly, I’ve been thinking about all the things I could do to you to make you scream my name, just like the first time.”

He gently squeezed at the base of Bucky’s shaft and Bucky groaned loudly into Steve’s neck, hand tightening around Steve’s own dick that he had been holding lightly until now.

“I’m not gonna lie, Stevie,” he replied. “The rougher you are with me the more I love it.”

“Yeah?” Steve breathed. “Tell me.”

Bucky gasped as Steve gripped a little tighter and picked up his pace, loving the sharpness of Bucky’s breath, the quiver in his voice.

“I love being tossed around a little, thrown down on the bed, pushed onto the couch. I like to be claimed, owned…oh fuck, Steve that feels good…”

“Did you like it when I rolled you over and pinned you down?” Steve asked breathlessly, twisting his wrist again as he reached the head of Bucky’s cock and sliding back down again.

“Yes,” Bucky gasped, his forehead bumping against Steve’s shoulder. “I fucking loved it Steve. I fucking came all over the floor totally untouched because you were fucking me so good and hard…”

Steve could probably have come right then just listening to Bucky talk, feeling his hips start to move, thrusting into Steve’s hand. He loved hearing it, loved how it set a fire in his veins, loved picturing it in his mind - all the things he could do, things that Bucky loved and would let him do, over and over again.

“You sounded so amazing,” Steve murmured. “Telling me to go harder, deeper, feeling how tight you were around me, Bucky I didn’t want to stop…”

“Di’nt want you to stop… oh god, I’m so fucking close…”

Steve’s hand moved faster, the dry friction making his hand burn and he had to loosen his grip to prevent causing Bucky pain.

“…watching myself disappear inside of you…”

“…fuck yes…”

“…and the way you cried out my name as you came all over the rug…”

“…Steve…fuck…”

“…just like you’re about to explode all over my hand right now…”

Bucky’s free hand tightened in Steve’s hair as he cried out, face buried in Steve’s shoulder and back bowing and his entire body shuddering violently as he came, shooting hot and wet into Steve’s hand, spilling between his fingers. Steve groaned aloud into Bucky’s hair, his hand ceasing its movement even as his own cock throbbed and leaked painfully with want, Bucky’s hand still holding him, unmoving. He hastily wiped his hand clean on the outside of the plain cotton sheet before stroking it softly over the defined muscles of Bucky’s back until the shuddering aftershocks of orgasm passed.

“What about you, Steve?” Bucky finally murmured, softly trailing a single finger up over Steve’s shaft. “Do you just give, or do you like being fucked too?”

White heat shot like lightning through his belly and he moaned into the softness of dark hair. Bucky’s hand wrapped steadily around him, beginning to tug sharply, knowing that it wouldn’t take too much to get Steve coming hard all over himself.

“Yeah,” he admitted breathily. “I’d love to have you inside me, Bucky. All nice and slow and deep…”

“I’d have you ride me,” Bucky murmured, lifting his head up from Steve’s shoulder to rest his lips just beside Steve’s earlobe. “After I work you open with my tongue, after you’re all wet and open and ready, I’ll let you sit on my cock, feel you sink down slowly, let you take me as deep as you like.”

“Fuck yes…” Steve panted, the pressure in his balls building fast.

“And it’s gonna feel so good Stevie, I promise. I’m gonna make you feel so fucking good, but I won’t fuck you until you come…”

Steve whined in reply, heat coiling tightly in his belly as Bucky worked him slowly, firmly, steadily.

“…when you’re almost there, when it would only take one more thrust, I’m gonna pull out…put my fingers inside you instead and just push hard against that spot deep inside so that you come so hard and so long that you blackout…”

“FUCK!”

Steve almost did black out as the tight coil of heat inside of him suddenly snapped and flooded through his body all at once. The air was forced out of his lungs as he came, pushing himself up into Bucky’s hand.

He lost time, only a few seconds, but he was suddenly aware of the blood pounding in his head, a tightness in his lungs, and the lack of a warm body next to him as something cold and plastic was pressed into his hand. Prising his eyes open, he glanced down and saw he was holding his inhaler.

Bucky was climbing back into bed beside him, a guilty grin across his face.

“I’m sorry sweetie,” he mumbled. “Did I cause you to stop breathing for a second there?”

“So totally worth it,” Steve wheezed, shaking the inhaler a couple of times before breathing in the steroid mist and holding it for a few seconds before doing it again.

Once his breathing began to level out, Steve settled back against the pillows and held his arm out across the bed, inviting Bucky to curl up next to him with his head resting gently on Steve’s shoulder.

“That was so fucking hot,” Bucky chuckled, pressing a soft kiss against the flushed skin of Steve’s chest.

“You’re telling me?”

“We do get to do all that, right?” Bucky asked, turning his face up to look at Steve hopefully. “Because I would really like to do all the things we just said to each other.”

Steve bit his lip and grinned at him, despite the flush starting on his cheeks.

“I definitely think we could work something out,” he replied softly.

“Good,” Bucky said, snuggling back into him as Steve gently ran his hand over Bucky’s soft brown hair. “Because I was hoping you’d let me stick around for a while.”

Steve smiled to the room.

“You can stick around as long as you want,” he replied softly. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Chapter Text

Steve kept nodding off in the passenger seat and Bucky was desperately trying to keep his attention focussed on the road and not on the long bare expanse of Steve’s neck visible because his head was resting at an awkward angle on the window.

They had opted to stay the night at the Blue House Hotel, letting the alcohol wear off before having to drive back home early the next morning so that Steve could help Peggy with the preparations. So here he was, driving them back at 4am and desperately wishing that he was still in that sumptuous bed, wrapped around Steve’s tiny body.

It had been a completely amazing afternoon for Bucky. He’d honestly intended for them to view the hotel, eat the free food samples and then drive home again before it was dark. When Steve had suggested they get a room, Bucky had been most pleasantly surprised. Steve was officially the hottest guy Bucky had ever dated.

When he’d first stepped into that bakery, Bucky Barnes would never have guessed that the quiet, shy baker would turn out to be so…well…NOT shy or quiet. Bucky’s pulse quickened just to think of what they had done the night before – not that they had done anything heavier than jerk each other off between the sheets, but GOD, the way Steve had talked to him as those talented little fingers had stroked and pulled Bucky into a writhing mess. Not only that, but Bucky had found himself saying things to Steve that he normally would have kept to his own private fantasies. Somehow, Steve had been fine with it, he’d been on board with it completely and Bucky was now just desperate for the day when they could work up to it all.

He was tired – they had spent half the night awake, kissing and touching and stroking, going slow and lazy and trying not to get each other too worked up, seeing as he’d given Steve an orgasm that made him black out and the kid did have asthma and a heart murmur. But whereas Bucky could afford to go back to bed and sleep as soon as he got home, Steve had to go straight to work. Bucky let him sleep all the way home until he pulled to a stop outside of the bakery. Steve jolted awake as the engine turned off.

“Well hi there, Sleeping Beauty,” Bucky murmured, smiling fondly as Steve’s blue eyes opened and slowly gained focus.

“Are we home?” he said groggily.

Bucky gave a light chuckle.

“Well, you are. I still have to get back to Manhattan.”

He watched as Steve stretched and yawned, hearing the fragile spine pop into place. It was still dark outside, the orange glow from the street lamps tinting Steve’s straw-gold hair a warm apricot. The baker smiled at him sleepily.

“I had a really nice day yesterday,” Steve murmured.

Bucky grinned back and reached across the car for Steve’s hand, linking their fingers together.

“Me too.”

“Do it again soon?”

“Which part?”

Steve’s smile widened and he sat up, turning his body to lean over in the car, bringing his face close to Bucky’s. Those blue eyes framed with beautiful dark lashes roamed over Bucky’s face, and Bucky felt his breath quicken again. It was insane, the effect this tiny gorgeous man had on him. Steve leaned in just a little more and their lips brushed lightly.

“All of it,” he whispered, and pressed a soft kiss to Bucky’s lips.

Bucky groaned softly into Steve’s mouth, his free hand finding its way into the soft blond hair as Steve moved closer. He could get lost in Steve’s kisses, in the way he kissed Bucky like he’d been doing it all his life, his tongue darting between Bucky’s lips, flicking for an instant just behind his teeth and then retreating. Steve used his mouth to tease and god, it drove Bucky crazy.

Before he knew it, Steve was climbing out of his seat and sliding into Bucky’s lap, sliding his hands down his stomach slowly as he settled his knees on either side of Bucky’s thighs.

“What are you up to?” Bucky murmured as Steve moved his gorgeous mouth down over Bucky’s jaw, pressing butterfly kisses into his skin and making him sigh.

Steve didn’t answer and it was all Bucky could do to hold on, one arm wrapped around Steve’s lower back and his other hand flexing in the soft blond hair. Bucky’s head fell back against the headrest and he gasped loudly when Steve’s lips closed over his earlobe, tongue lightly grazing it.

“S-Steve?”

“Hmm?”

“We talked about the ear thing, remember?”

Steve sucked hard and heat flashed through Bucky’s belly, his hips rising involuntarily. He cried out and tightened in Steve’s hair.

“Mmm…” Steve hummed appreciatively in Bucky’s ear, teeth nipping gently at the lobe instead.

Bucky was hard as a rock inside his pants.

“Steve, we’re in the car,” he said desperately.

“Yes.”

“Somebody might see.”

“Possibly,” Steve murmured, his warm breath ghosting over Bucky’s ear.

Those beautiful, slender fingers moved lower, down over the front of his pants and pressing against the hardness contained there. Bucky rocked up into the touch and groaned again as Steve went back to sucking on his earlobe, slowly and steadily, in perfect time with the movement on his hand.

“God, you’re a monster…” Bucky breathed as his brain slowly came to terms with the fact that this was happening – Steve in his lap, stroking Bucky’s cock through his pants in a hired car at five o’clock in the morning, and it was hot and dirty and perfect.

He felt Steve’s lips curve into a smile as he nipped at Bucky’s earlobe again before closing them around the soft flesh and sucking again. Bucky didn’t even try to contain the noises that worked their way out of his mouth from deep inside his chest, his hips rocking up to press against Steve’s palm as the delicious heat coiled and curled and moved through his belly.

It was building fast, too fast and Bucky groaned again into Steve’s shoulder as he realised that he was going to come in his pants like a thirteen year old boy and love every second of it. A moment later and he was there, thighs trembling as his orgasm hit and he tried to muffle his shout into Steve’s shirt, fingers tightening in the wisps of straw-gold hair.

He was panting hard as Steve’s mouth left his ear and kissed its way back around over his jaw. Steve drew back, looking immensely pleased with himself.

“I’m sorry,” he said innocently. “I think I got a little carried away with my goodbye kiss.”

“You think?” Bucky gasped. “You do realise that I have to make it all the way back to Manhattan with semen cooling inside my underwear, right?”

“I’m pretty sure you can make it,” Steve replied with a grin.

Bucky sighed happily and pulled Steve back in, foreheads touching.

“You are gorgeous.”

Steve snorted.

“Shut up.”

“You are,” Bucky insisted. “You are completely gorgeous. And sexy. And you made me come in my pants like a teenager.”

Steve threw his head back and laughed, loud and happy and it was the best thing Bucky had ever heard. He grinned.

“And that knowledge is going to get me through a very long day when I’m dead on my feet,” Steve replied.

“I’m sure Peggy will let you go to bed early if you’re a good boy.”

“I’m always a good boy.”

“Well, I know for a fact that statement is untrue.”

Steve’s mouth quirked up at the corner for a second before he surged forward and kissed Bucky hard, wrapping his arms around Bucky’s neck. Bucky was gasping for breath again when Steve pulled back.

“It’s all your fault,” he murmured against Bucky’s lips. “I was absolutely a good boy until you walked into my bakery.”

“In that case, I’m very glad I walked into your bakery and turned you bad.”

Steve kissed him again, slower this time, softer. He groaned when he pulled away again.

“I need to go take a shower and wake up before I start work,” he sighed.

“Okay,” murmured Bucky, stroking his hands up Steve’s bare forearms.

Steve stayed in his lap for a heartbeat longer before reaching over to open the driver’s side door and sliding out. The heat from Steve’s body dissipated rapidly and Bucky was left with a lap full of cooling, sticky semen sticking his underwear to his skin. It was disgusting and he grimaced, causing Steve to laugh again.

“Get home safe,” he said, giving Bucky a small kiss on the cheek, “and call me later.”

“Count on it,” Bucky replied with a smile as Steve closed the car door.

He watched as Steve walked towards the building, waved over his shoulder with a smile, and continued in. Bucky smiled and shook his head. He was falling very hard and fast for Steve Rogers, and that was absolutely fine with him. He was absolutely screwed.

~

Steve honestly had to jerk off in the shower the moment he got into his apartment, stripping off his clothes as soon as the door was closed behind him and turning the water on full. Between the hot water and soap and the memory of Bucky’s moans and whimpers still fresh in his mind it took him less than two minutes before he was coming all over the shower tiles.

He had meant it earlier when he had told Bucky that he was usually a good boy. He’d never acted this way with anybody before he’d met Bucky – something about the man just made Steve’s pulse race. And he liked it, this part of him that had been dormant for most of his life and woken up when that gorgeous wedding planner with his beautiful eyes that crinkled at the corners when he smiled and made Steve’s legs go weak.

Steve cleaned up and dressed quickly, taking his handful of medication with orange juice from the carton before hurrying downstairs to the bakery. Peggy was already there, the day’s first batch of bread in the ovens and pastry dough being rolled. Steve tied his apron and washed his hands before starting on cake batter.

“Good morning,” he said cheerfully.

“Morning,” Peggy countered, looking him over carefully. “You must have got home quite later last night. I didn’t hear you come home.”

Steve couldn’t help smiling as he weighed the butter.

“Uh…that’s because I only got home an hour ago.”

Peggy stopped rolling the pastry and turned to him with her mouth slightly open.

“I thought you two were going slow?” she said incredulously.

“We are!” Steve insisted. “We’re slowly building up to…that.”

“That?”

“Yes. That.”

“That thing that you did on your first date?”

“Yes.”

“The thing where you fucked him raw on the rug in his apartment?”

“Yes, I’m planning on doing that again at some point.”

Peggy snorted and dissolved into laughter before turning back to her pastry and resumed rolling.

“You know what, Steve? I have known you for seven years and yet you still have the capacity to surprise me.”

Steve smiled as he added sugar to the butter and turned on the mixer.

“The funny thing is, Peggy, I still have the capacity to surprise myself.”

“Well, that’s a good thing,” she replied, grinning.

Steve nodded as he turned the mixer off and weighed out the flour. He cracked in the eggs and turned it back on before whirling back around to face Peggy.

“I’m not being an idiot, am I?” he asked.

“For what?”

“Being so obnoxiously happy and possibly half crazy in love with a man I barely know?”

Peggy stopped rolling again and turned slowly, her eyes searching his face for a moment before a slow smile spread across her face.

“No, you’re not being an idiot,” she said.

“Good,” Steve replied with a sigh. “Because I was starting to worry.”

“Don’t ever worry about something that makes you happy, Steve.”

He smiled back and nodded. Peggy’s opinion was important to him and to know that he had her support in this was a weight off his shoulders. He’d also just admitted, for the first time, that he might be in love. That one was probably going to take into at least the second batch of cakes before it sank in.

Chapter Text

“Aw shit….no….fuck no! Christ, that’s horrible!” Bucky muttered as he buried his face into Steve’s skinny shoulder.

Sunday was the only full day off a week that Steve and Peggy ever got, and this week Steve was spending it with Bucky at the small independent cinema thirty minutes away from the bakery, watching noir horror. This week was the 1954 classic, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Bucky seemed actually terrified.

“Are you shitting me?” Steve hissed. “You’re an ex-Special Forces sniper for Christ’s sake – you’re actually telling me that the crappy monster scares you?”

He watched as Bucky lifted his head slightly to look at the screen again.

“I don’t like its eyes,” Bucky whispered. “It’s freaking me the fuck out! Steve, make it stop!”

Steve snorted with laughter as Bucky legitimately squeaked and practically jumped into Steve’s lap as the Creature appeared on screen again. His face was buried in Steve’s shoulder again and Steve grinned as he reached over to stroke the top of Bucky’s head.

“Don’t worry baby, I’ll protect you from the big scary beastie,” he murmured.

“I don’t know why I let you talk me into this,” Bucky mumbled into Steve’s shirt.

He held onto Steve just a little too tightly, and jumped out of his skin far too many times that was appropriate for a movie whose monster was pretty much a guy in a ghillie suit, but Steve loved it because he got to spend an hour in the dark with his arm around Bucky’s shoulders and pressing kisses into the soft dark hair that smelled like coconut.

Steve hugged him close and tried not to laugh every time Bucky squeaked like a mouse and hid his face from the screen. Bucky was relieved when it was all over and the lights went up.

“I can’t believe you were actually scared,” Steve laughed.

“Steve, that thing was like the creature from my nightmares when I was eight years old! That was fucking terrifying!”

He laughed even harder and he linked his hand with Bucky’s as they walked out of the cinema and headed towards the metro.

The sky had been an ominous grey all day, the atmosphere close and heavy, as though the clouds would break any moment and a full on thunderstorm would roll in. Steve did his best to ignore them as he stood waiting for the train, Bucky standing behind him with his arms wrapped around Steve’s middle and his chin resting on the top of Steve’s head. Steve snuggled back, grinning.

“So, what else is a big strong guy like you afraid of? Or is it just crappy monsters in old movies?”

Bucky rocked Steve from side to side, just on the gentler side of rough. Steve laughed, finding that he rather liked being jostled about by Bucky.

“Spiders,” Bucky replied. “Not all spiders – just the ones with the really fat bodies and the long spindly legs. They creep me the fuck out.”

“You’re scared of spiders?”

“Just the fat ones with skinny legs!”

Steve grinned and ran his hands along Bucky’s bare forearms.

“Anything else?”

“Stairs that creak in the middle of the night with no apparent reason,” Bucky said. “That shit is spooky.”

Steve laughed again and turned around, to find Bucky grinning widely. Steve wrapped his arms around the toned torso again and smiled back, not giving a damn if anyone at the station was looking at them or not.

“You have the weirdest irrational fears.”

“That’s why they’re irrational,” Bucky countered.

Steve chuckled lightly and leaned up to kiss him.

“What if I told you that I had an irrational fear of going home by myself?” he murmured playfully against Bucky’s lips.

Bucky’s eyebrows shot up.

“In that case, I would have to insist on escorting you.”

“Oh good,” Steve replied. “It seems like I’m dating a perfect gentleman.”

“Hmm…almost perfect.”

Steve laughed again and shoved Bucky away gently only to be enveloped in those strong arms once more.

“Besides,” Bucky continued, pressing a soft kiss to Steve’s temple as the metro pulled into the station, “I wouldn’t want you to get jumped by any of those big bad Brooklyn types.”

“You’re one of those big bad Brooklyn types,” Steve murmured happily.

“So I am,” replied Bucky, letting Steve go for the moment it took them to board the train before pulling him down into a row of empty seats and slinging his arm around Steve’s neck, drawing him back in. Steve rested his head against Bucky’s shoulder and smiled as Bucky whispered into his hair. “But I’m still a gentleman.”

Steve found that he loved how tactile Bucky was, how affectionate. He’d never seen the big deal with public displays of affection – in face they often made him damned uncomfortable most of the time, but Bucky wasn’t overboard with his attention. He wasn’t trying to French kiss Steve in front of the entire metro or grope him like Steve had seen plenty of other couples do. Bucky was just…casual, with his arm slung over Steve’s right shoulder, their fingers linking and Steve leaning on Bucky, it was just the right amount of ‘you’re mine’. He could really get used to this.

They had hoped the rain would hold off until they got back, but the heavens opened a minute before they got to their station. Steve stared out at the street as they alighted the metro and made their way down the stairs. It was already fast turning into a river as raindrops the size of baseballs hit the pavement.

“We’re gonna get drenched,” Steve muttered.

“Do you think you can run?” Bucky asked.

The station was only a couple of blocks away from the bakery – they could make it in a few minutes if they hurried. Steve ran as fast as he could, although it felt like he was being dragged along by Bucky as they splashed through the streets, water soaking through their clothing. The water seeped into his shoes and through his socks, making his feet slip around inside of them and by the time they made it to the building, Steve’s shirt was see-through and sticking to his skin. He fumbled in his pocket for the keys and they both raced up the flight of stairs to Steve’s apartment.

“Jesus fucking Christ!” Bucky said, pushing his sodden hair back from his face. “I’ve not been caught in a summer storm like that for years!”

“I know,” Steve mused.

Bucky was just as wet through as Steve was, although Steve was the one who looked more like a drowned rat. Despite the heavy warmth outside, his apartment was cold and Steve started to shiver almost immediately as his wet clothes started to cool against his skin. He wrapped his arms around himself and used his foot to close the door. Bucky turned to look at him.

“Oh sweetie, you’re shivering!” he exclaimed, stepping forward immediately to rub Steve’s forearms gently.

“I’m okay,” Steve replied with a weak smile, but Bucky shook his head.

“Come on. We need to get you out of those wet clothes.”

“You just want to get me naked,” Steve countered, allowing Bucky to take his hand and lead him through the apartment to the bathroom. Bucky grinned at him and he grabbed a handful of towels.

“Guilty as charged,” he replied.

Steve stood there passively, content to let Bucky unfasten his shirt buttons and peel the soaking garment from his body before draping a towel around Steve’s shoulders. He watched as Bucky took another towel and began to gently rub Steve’s hair dry, his face a mask of deep concentration and water dripping from the ends of his dark hair to roll down the side of his face. Steve would never admit it to anybody, but he was loving every minute of it, of Bucky taking care of him this way.

He dealt with his own pants as Bucky easily stripped off his own clothes in the close space of Steve’s bathroom. Steve couldn’t stop himself from staring at the well-defined muscles of Bucky’s back, and at those arms that he loved being wrapped in. Bucky caught him staring and grinned as he hung the clothes up to dry on the towel rail.

“Like what you see, Rogers?”

Steve felt the heat rise to his cheeks and gave Bucky a short but gentle shove before gathering the towel around his shoulders a little tighter. Bucky’s body was intimidatingly gorgeous and Steve was very aware of his own lack of definition.

“Shut up,” he mumbled, but grinned as Bucky stepped close and pushed Steve’s towel-dried hair back from his face, leaning down to kiss him softly.

“Come on sweetie. Let’s get you warmed up.”

Steve couldn’t contain his joyful smile as Bucky’s hands slid to the back of Steve’s thighs and pulled him up. Steve wrapped his arms around Bucky’s neck and his legs around Bucky’s hips and allowed himself to be carried the short distance back to the living room, where Bucky lowered himself down onto the couch and stretched out, pulling Steve flush against him as he dragged the quilt that sat on the back of the couch cushions over Steve and tucked it in around him.

Steve sighed happily, his head resting on Bucky’s chest, feeling the heat radiate from him as Bucky stroked his back soothingly and pressed soft kisses into Steve’s hair. He’d never enjoyed getting caught in the rain before now, but if he got to be wrapped up with Bucky afterwards, Steve would happily do it every day.

“You okay?” Bucky murmured, his fingers lightly running through Steve’s drying hair.

“Mmhmm,” Steve replied sleepily, wrapping his arms around Bucky’s middle. “I’m perfect.”

He sighed happily and closed his eyes, snuggling into the warmth of the blanket and Bucky’s body.

“Yes, you are,” Steve swore he heard Bucky reply before he nodded off to sleep.

~

Bucky had dozed off listening to Steve’s steady breathing. It had been a great date, even if the old horror movie had scared him half to death and they had been soaked by a torrential rain storm which was still thundering on outside into the small hours, which was incidentally the time Bucky woke up again.

He was still on the couch in Steve’s apartment, and Steve was still lying against his chest but something wasn’t quite the same. It took Bucky a full minute to realise that Steve’s body was trembling and his breathing was laboured.

“Steve?”

Steve didn’t reply. Bucky sat up and was hot with a wave of panic when Steve didn’t stir, but instead moved with him listlessly. Steve’s face was flushed and damp with sweat, and Bucky didn’t even have to feel his forehead to know that he was running a high fever.

“Steve? Wake up sweetie,” he said, shaking Steve’s shoulder gently. All he got was a soft noise in reply and nothing else, and now Bucky really was starting to panic. He’d never had to deal with this kind of thing before. He didn’t even know a fever this bad could come on so fast.

He got up as fast as he could, gently sliding Steve onto the couch before racing for the door. There was only one thing he could do – hope Natasha and Sam knew how to help. Bucky hammered on their door as loudly as possible. It didn’t take long before Sam, in t-shirt and boxers, angrily pulled it open and glared at him.

“What the fuck, Barnes? It’s three in the morning! You’d better not be hammering on my door unless somebody is dying…”

Sam stopped, suddenly taking in the fact that Bucky was literally at his door wearing nothing but underwear and an expression of sheer panic. Thankfully, it took him all of two seconds to realise what had happened. Sam yelled for Natasha over his shoulder, but Nat was already there, pushing past them both and running directly through the open door of Steve’s apartment.

Bucky watched helplessly at the scene unfolding before him.

Without even stopping to check Steve, Nat ran into the bathroom and turned the shower on full blast. Sam threw the quilt aside and scooped Steve’s limp body off the couch, carrying him into the bathroom and immediately sitting down on the floor of the shower, fully clothed, and pulling Steve onto his lap, facing him. Steve’s arms hung at his sides as Sam propped Steve’s head on his shoulder. Nat climbed onto the floor next to them, rubbing Steve’s back in long, smooth strokes and all three of them were saturated by the cool water spray.

Nobody looked at Bucky. Nobody asked him what had happened, what they had done for Steve to get this way. He realised with a horrible sinking feeling that they were both too efficient at this for it to be the first time. This had happened before, and several times judging by how quickly they had carried out their actions without so much as a word to each other.

Steve had told Bucky that he was sick. He’d sat there at the table in the gorgeous grounds of the Blue House Hotel and rattled off a whole list of health problems and still Bucky had forgotten about it. Steve didn’t look like a sick person, he didn’t act like it. Sure, he looked tiny and fragile but he was just so alive – Steve worked harder than most able-bodied people, he smiled and joked and got into fist fights with assholes who couldn’t leave teenage girls alone. He had very easily misled Bucky into forgetting he wasn’t all okay.

Bucky didn’t know what to do with himself. He put coffee on because it was better than standing there watching dumbly. He felt so hollow. What if Steve had got pneumonia? What if his heart gave out under the stress of the fever? What if Steve died and it was all Bucky’s fault because he’d made Steve run through the rain instead of calling a cab to take them the few blocks home?

The coffee went cold because they were still under the shower an hour later. Bucky threw it out and made a fresh pot. He also folded laundry and cleaned the kitchen sink and changed the sheets on Steve’s bed, just because he needed to do SOMETHING. He wasn’t used to the feeling of being completely useless and he hated it, hated that he could do nothing to help Steve at all.

Almost two hours after it had been turned on, the shower stopped and Bucky looked towards the bathroom hopefully. A few moments later, Sam emerged, carrying Steve who was bundled up in towels. Bucky stepped forward, desperate to do anything to help but Nat appeared in his path, palm flat on his chest and her copper-coloured hair hanging in sodden rat-tails around her face.

“Don’t,” she said simply and Bucky looked at her in confusion.

“But…”

“Don’t,” Natasha repeated softly. “His fever is down, he’s awake, he’s going to be fine. There is nothing else you can do for him right now, James. Go home.”

He stared at her, disbelieving.

“I can’t just leave him, Nat.”

“Well, you have to,” she replied quietly. “There is nothing you can do and he doesn’t need to to see him like this, alright? Not right now. Let him have a little dignity here, okay?”

Bucky let it sink in.

Steve tried so hard not to let his illnesses affect him on a daily basis. And then something like this happened that he had no control over and had to be bundled into the shower by your two friends in front of the person he’d only been dating for a couple of weeks…

Nat was right.

“Okay,” he mumbled. “But you need to keep me updated.”

“I will,” Natasha replied.

Bucky pulled on his still-damp clothes and called a cab to take him back to Manhattan. It was only just starting to get light and Bucky knew it was going to be a long and awful day to get through, worrying about Steve when he was trying to work.

~

Steve regained consciousness after the first hour, waking to the sensation of cool water bombarding his hot skin. He groaned when he realised why he was there but was glad he was resting against Sam’s shoulder and not Bucky’s.

“Is he still here?” he managed to ask.

“Yeah,” replied Sam softly. “Want us to get him?”

“No,” Steve said and closed his eyes again.

Nobody said anything for another hour, not until Natasha checked Steve’s temperature and given him the all-clear. He felt weak and dizzy and angry that he’d managed to get ill so fast. And worst of all, Bucky had been there to see it.

“Don’t let him see me like this,” he mumbled to Natasha as Sam wrapped him in towels and picked him up. Steve hated being picked up like he was a child, but he knew he didn’t have the strength to walk.

“I won’t,” Nat murmured.

Steve buried his face into Sam’s shoulder and refused to pay attention to Bucky’s voice as they passed him. He knew why Peggy wasn’t there – Bucky would have gone directly to Nat, and Nat would have let Peggy sleep because she’d have to open the bakery alone in the morning. She’d know about it soon enough.

He endured the humiliation of being clinically stripped of his wet underwear and gently helped into a clean, dry pair by Sam. Steve was grateful for the help, of the way Sam didn’t even try to talk to Steve because that would have just made it unbearable. He despised having to rely on other people to do what he should be quite capable of doing himself, but at this moment he was too exhausted to even try. Sam was helping him into bed when Natasha appeared at the doorway.

“Is he gone?”

“Yeah,” she replied, softly. “He’s gone.”

Steve nodded and squeezed his eyes shut as his head fell back against the pillow, trying to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall.

Chapter Text

The doctor was out by eight that morning, even though Steve insisted that he didn’t need to waste his insurance money on that. Nat and Sam ignored him as usual, and Steve had to sit sullenly as the doctor checked all of his vital statistics.

“They all seem to be fine, Steven,” she said, sitting on the edge of his bed and letting go of his wrist.

“I could have told you that,” Steve mumbled, folding his arms across his chest. He knew his heartbeat was ever so slightly elevated and it was making his chest feel tight, but it was nothing he couldn’t handle.

“Don’t be like that,” the doctor chided. “You know very well your friends did the right thing. You’d be in hospital now if they hadn’t acted fast to get your temperature down.”

Steve sighed. He knew that. He also knew that it had been Bucky who’d alerted Sam and Nat in the first place, and Steve had made Nat throw Bucky out just so that Steve could save face. Steve felt bad about that, but the whole thing had been humiliating enough without having Bucky stick around to pity him.

“Do you have people to stay with you today, Steven?”

“Yeah,” he replied miserably. “Peggy is downstairs and Sam is next door if I need either of them.”

“Good,” the doctor said, standing up. “You take the rest of the day to get as much sleep as possible. Make sure you eat and drink plenty – this chill will really have taken the energy out of you.”

Steve didn’t need her to tell him that – he already felt as weak as a kitten.

He ate the oatmeal that Sam brought him with nothing more than mumbled thanks, and also drank the supplied chamomile tea before burrowing back under the covers, which were clean and fresh. Steve felt another pang of guilt as he realised that Bucky must have changed them, and he’d sent Bucky away.

Peggy had stopped in before going down to the bakery, promising to bake him a cherry pie for later, but she hadn’t even managed to make Steve’s mouth lift marginally at the corners. He was well and truly miserable. He was incredibly grateful to his friends, for their support, for their quick thinking and actions, and for not passing comment on how they had to do things for him. Steve hated being taken care of, of losing his independence.

But this time, it hadn’t just been Natasha and Sam and Peggy who had seen him at his most vulnerable and pathetic, Bucky had seen it too. Steve just hadn’t been ready for that, for Bucky to see him so sick and broken and weak. God only knows what Bucky thought of him now.

~

Bucky had been dealing with a melodramatic bride, a snarky groom, and a florist who just wouldn’t admit he was wrong all morning, and quite frankly he’d had enough.

He must have sent Natasha a text every half hour asking after Steve and kept getting the same response: he’s fine. The only time she ever responded differently was to tell him that the doctor had been, and that Steve was still fine.

Bucky was tired, he’d forgotten to eat breakfast or have a cup of coffee because he was too busy worrying about Steve, and these idiotic people were driving him to contemplate triple homicide. He’d had enough.

“Look,” he said, raising his voice over the three arguing people. “There is nothing I can do for any of you right now, so I’ll tell you what – you figure it out and come to an agreement, and then get back to me, because my boyfriend was running a hundred and four degree fever just a few hours ago and I really should be with him. Excuse me.”

Bucky left them standing agape but he didn’t care. He didn’t even care if he lost the couple’s custom. He just cared about Steve. Bucky walked straight out and into a taxi, instructing the cabbie to make a stop at Ben’s Kosher Deli in Manhattan for chicken noodle soup with a matzo ball before going to Brooklyn. Ben’s made the best soup in the city and his boy deserved the best.

The cab pulled up in front of the bakery and Bucky spotted Peggy serving customers. He bit his lip guiltily and sighed as he paid his fare and went in, cradling the soup in his hand. Bucky felt bad about running straight to Natasha when Peggy was Steve’s oldest and best friend – he should have gone to her, and he was convinced that she’d be angry with him. When she looked up however, Peggy looked relieved to see him and the moment she was done serving, she came out from behind the counter and hugged him tightly.

“Thank you,” she said.

“What for?” Bucky replied, confused.

“For everything you did. For waking up Nat and Sam last night, for not choking up when Steve needed you. Just…thank you.”

Bucky managed a weak smile.

“I thought you’d be angry with me for not waking you instead.”

Peggy shook her head at him.

“Don’t be silly. You went to somebody who knew what to do and they got his fever down in time. Because of you, he’s fine and resting up and not in hospital.”

Bucky sighed and rubbed the back of his neck absently.

“I was shit scared, Peggy.”

“I know,” she said, rubbing his arm gently. “I was too the first time I saw him get sick.”

“He’s okay though?”

Peggy sighed.

“Well, he’s in a foul fucking mood as always when he gets ill. But apart from that, he’s fine. Are you sure you want to go up there?”

Bucky nodded. He could understand why Steve’s mood wouldn’t be the best right now, but he didn’t care – he’d brave it just to try and make Steve feel better.

~

Steve woke with a jolt at the sound of his front door opening, and he dragged himself into a sitting position. He presumed it was Sam coming to check on him and he sighed softly, preparing himself to dismiss his friend before he could offer any more help – Sam had done enough and Steve really wasn’t in the mood to do anything but sleep.

But the voice that called out wasn’t Sam’s. It was Bucky’s. Steve’s stomach plummeted.

“Steve?”

Bucky’s head appeared around the bedroom door, his eyes crinkling at the corners as he smiled.

“Bucky…”

“Hey.”

“What are you doing here?” Steve sighed, pulling his covers up to cover his bare chest, feeling another pang of guilt as he remembered that Bucky had changed his sheets for him.

“I came to see how you were doing?” Bucky replied cheerfully. He held up a round carton. “I brought soup.”

“Thanks,” Steve said mechanically. “But you didn’t have to do that.”

Bucky’s smile faltered.

“I wanted to…”

“Okay,” interrupted Steve. “Just leave it on the counter on your way out.”

Bucky looked like Steve had just slapped him, which made Steve feel even worse. He knew that Bucky meant well, but he really just wanted to be left alone today.

“Okay,” he replied quietly and turned away.

Steve slapped himself on the forehead and groaned. How could he be so damned ungrateful? Bucky had come all the way back from Manhattan in the middle of the day just to check that Steve was alright and Steve was just being rotten. It wasn’t Bucky’s fault that he didn’t know the sickness protocol yet.

He threw back the covers and swung his legs over the side, swaying significantly as he stood and having to support half of his weight on the wall as he moved to the door. Bucky was already halfway out of his apartment.

“Bucky!”

Bucky stopped, his hand resting on the doorknob, and turned.

“Yeah?”

“I’m sorry.”

Bucky’s hand dropped and he turned fully, walking back into the apartment. His face was serious.

“You don’t have to be sorry,” he said softly. “I get it, Steve.”

“Do you?” Steve shot back. “Do you really get it? Do you really get what it’s like to be twenty six years old and suffer from several serious health problems that can bring on attacks so suddenly and leave you so debilitated that you can’t do anything for yourself? Do you understand how humiliating it is to have to rely on other people to get you undressed and into clean clothing because you’ve soaked through your shirt with sweat or struggled so hard to breath that you vomited all over yourself and you’re too exhausted to be able to do it yourself? Do you understand how it feels to have to rely on somebody else carrying you to bed because your legs are too fucking weak to do it yourself?”

“No,” Bucky replied quietly. He was looking steadily at Steve, who swallowed hard.

“It’s pathetic, and it’s disgusting, and I hate it enough without having to deal with pity.”

Bucky frowned and stepped closer.

“Is that what you think this is, Steve? Pity?”

Steve shrugged and his legs almost buckled under him as the wall failed to support his weight for a second.

“Is it not?”

“No,” Bucky replied, crestfallen. “No, it’s not pity. Steve, did it ever occur to you that I might actually care? I was terrified when I woke up in the middle of the night to find you burning up and shaking and not responding. I felt so fucking useless and going out of my mind with worry that you might actually die. I’ve been texting Natasha every half hour to make sure you were okay and when I couldn’t stand the same two word response anymore, I blew off my clients and got soup to make you feel better and got a cab straight here. I didn’t do this out of pity Steve, it did it because I lo…because I care about you.”

Steve looked at the floor, suddenly feeling very stupid and very dizzy. Seconds later his legs gave out and he collapsed in a heap on the floor. Bucky was by his side in a second, eyes full of concern as his cool hand swept over Steve’s forehead.

“I’m fine…”

“I’m getting you back in bed,” Bucky replied firmly, throwing Steve’s arm around his neck and hauling him upright and walking Steve back into the bedroom. He was just really glad that Bucky didn’t carry him this time. Falling onto the mattress, Steve weakly ran his hand over his face and Bucky gently pulled the covers over him and sat on the bed.

Steve sighed heavily.

“I don’t do well with help,” he murmured.

Bucky smiled and reached for Steve’s hand, squeezing it lightly.

“Yeah, I noticed.”

Steve hated himself. He hated that he was sickly, he hated that he was small and skinny, he hated that he’d been so fucking harsh to Bucky when all the guy was trying to do was help.

“I didn’t want you to see me like this,” Steve whispered, turning his head away. “I didn’t want you to see me when I was sick.”

“What, were you planning on avoiding being ill forever?”

“I didn’t want you to see me how I really am.”

“And what’s that?”

Steve, squeezed his eyes shut.

“Weak and pathetic.”

He felt the weight shift on the bed and knew that Bucky had stood. Steve was fully prepared to hear the door close as Bucky left, but to his surprise the covers on the other side of the bed were drawn back and Bucky slid in beside him, fully clothed but without his shoes. Steve opened his eyes to find Bucky’s blue gaze fixed on his face.

“Steve Rogers, the only person throwing pity around today is you,” Bucky said seriously. “You are wallowing in self pity here and doing yourself no good. Weak and pathetic? Steve, you’re not either of those things!” Bucky reached out and stroked Steve’s hair back from his face softly. “I think you’re strong, and I think you’re beautiful and I think you’re perfect. Yes, you have health problems and you get sick, and I understand that it sucks to be you when this happens but sometimes even the strongest people need help. You live with these problems and you still get up every day and do your job because you refuse to let it keep you down. You are strong, Steve Rogers. You are so fucking strong, and so easy to love and I need to you know that I’m not going anywhere. No matter how much you try to push me away when you get sick, I’m still going to keep turning up with soup and you’re going to have to accept me doing it.”

Steve felt like his heart was about to burst and he could feel tears brimming his eyes. He’d heard these things before – from Peggy, from Nat, from Sam. He’d always just thought they were being nice because they were his friends. They were the best friends anyone could wish for but it was the job of friends to make you feel better about yourself.

But here was Bucky, this gorgeous, sweet guy who had known him all of five weeks, who could quite easily walk out of Steve’s apartment right then and never come back, telling him the same things his friends had been telling him all along. More than that, Bucky was telling Steve that he was here to stay, and Steve realised right then that he’d never been as hopelessly in love with anyone in his entire life the way he was in love with James Buchanan Barnes. Steve’s mouth curved into a ghost of a smile.

“Is it chicken noodle soup?” he murmured.

“Yeah.”

“From Ben’s?”

“How did you guess?”

“Recognised the carton,” Steve replied. “My mom used to bring soup from Ben’s when I was sick as a kid.”

“With a matzo ball?”

“What’s the point of Ben’s chicken noodle soup without a matzo ball?”

“That’s what I always thought!” Bucky replied with a grin.

Steve’s smile widened a little.

He ate the soup and it was amazing. Bucky stripped off and crawled back into bed with him, and Steve slept off and on for the next sixteen hours, curled up into Bucky who spent most of the time reading the book that had been on Steve’s nightstand for the past year. Each time Steve woke, even just for a few seconds, he was rewarded with a soft kiss on his forehead and it made him smile. He was glad Bucky had stayed.

~

It was very early in the morning when Steve woke properly, his eyes slowly opening to see Bucky lying on his stomach in the bed next to him, fast asleep and absolutely beautiful. Steve felt himself smile, properly, happily. He felt a lot better after all that sleep, no longer weak or sick but stronger, more energised, if not absolutely starving.

Steve slipped out of bed, his legs taking his weight this time and he padded through to the kitchen where Peggy had left a freshly baked cherry pie and a note hoping that he felt better soon. Steve ate half the pie, took his medication with a glass of orange juice, and crawled back into bed with Bucky.

He was definitely in love.

It wasn’t just the strong physical attraction that he felt – Steve knew that his heart beat faster when he even thought of Bucky, never mind saw him. He loved spending time with him, he’d loved finding out that Bucky was scared of spiders and terrible horror movies and that he saw no point in chicken noodle soup without a matzo ball. Bucky thought that Steve was strong and beautiful and perfect. Bucky Barnes was also a big fat liar, but Steve loved it all the same, and loved that Bucky was going nowhere just because Steve was sick.

He reached over and ran his fingers gently over Bucky’s exposed back and bit his lip as he felt the defined musculature move under his touch. Bucky stirred slightly and Steve smiled leaning over to kiss his shoulder. Bucky’s eyes fluttered open slowly and focussed on Steve’s face.

“Hey,” Bucky murmured, face breaking into a smile.

“Hi,” replied Steve softly.

“How are you feeling?”

“Better,” Steve said, smiling. “A lot better. Thank you for yesterday. For staying with me even though I was being a total ass.”

“You weren’t being a total ass,” Bucky murmured. “Maybe a bit of an ass, but not totally.”

Steve grinned and slapped Bucky’s arm playfully, which only made Bucky laugh and lean forward to kiss him.

“You might not want to do that,” Steve said, leaning back. “I’ve not brushed my teeth in two days and I really need a shower.”

Bucky only gave him a wicked smile and then moved with surprising speed, reaching out to pull Steve in and make a big show of sniffing his hair and neck and torso while Steve laughed and squirmed half-heartedly.

“You still smell pretty good to me,” Bucky replied, kissing him anyway, softly on the lips.

Steve sighed happily, enjoying the sensation of Bucky’s mouth on his for a few moments before pulling away.

“How about you get in the shower with me?”

Bucky raised his eyebrows.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

The water was good and hot, and Steve cleaned his teeth quickly before being pulled under the spray with Bucky. They resumed kissing, slow and lazy with water running in rivulets down their faces and in the space between their bodies. Bucky carefully soaped up Steve’s body, his hands sliding languidly over Steve’s shoulders and down his arms, over his chest and around his sides, sliding down his back. Steve groaned loudly, his head resting on Bucky’s chest, eyes closed and just enjoying having Bucky touch him.

“Are you okay?” Bucky whispered.

“Yeah,” Steve breathed, running his own hands up Bucky’s sides. “I was thinking…”

“What were you thinking?”

“Do you remember the night we spent in the hotel?”

Steve felt Bucky’s chest rise and fall faster as his breathing quickened.

“I’m not likely to forget that any time soon, Steve.”

Steve smiled.

“Do you remember what you said? What you said you wanted to do to me?”

“Yes…”

“I want that. I want that right now.”

Bucky’s hands stopped moving and he pulled back to look down at Steve. He looked unsure.

“Steve,” he murmured. “It’s not that I don’t want to. Because I really, really do. But you’ve just recovered from a pretty bad fever and…”

Steve cut him off with a kiss, firm and commanding, one hand on the back of Bucky’s neck and the other on his hip, pulling him close.

“I know what my body is capable of Bucky. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think I could take it.”

He watched Bucky’s face as he processed the information Steve had given him, biting his lip gently. Bucky’s hands started to move again, gently sliding up and down his back, and Steve could already feel Bucky was half hard. He reached up again and took Bucky’s bottom lip between his teeth, tugging gently. Bucky moaned.

“Please,” Steve whispered.

Bucky inhaled sharply, his eyes closing for a second before they opened again, dark and hot.

“Anything you want.”

~

Steve tasted amazing, all soap and musk as Bucky’s tongue licked slowly and steadily up between Steve’s spread cheeks. Steve was on his stomach on the bed, face buried in his pillow to stifle his moans and his fists were bunching up the covers as he pushed back onto Bucky’s tongue.

He remembered all too well what he had said to Steve that night at the Blue House Hotel – his promise to slowly work Steve open with his tongue, making sure that he was wet and trembling and more than ready before Bucky fucked him nice and slow. So far he was making damn good on his promise, tongue delving into that tight hot space, curling and pulling back, pushing in again. Bucky licked and sucked and tongued Steve open and delighted in taking him slowly apart.

Steve was gorgeous like this, and Bucky had more than one reason to take his time. He didn’t want to push him to far or too fast, understanding how delicate Steve was despite his insistence that he wasn’t going to break, that he knew where his limits were. But Steve wanted him, wanted Bucky to lick him open before he slid down onto Bucky’s cock and slowly rode him slow and deep until they both came, and God, Bucky was more than happy to let him do it.

He pushed his tongue in again, relishing Steve’s cry as Bucky lightly tugged at the two soft globes that hung between Steve’s thighs. He ran his thumb back over the short expanse of flesh and smiled to himself as Steve angled himself into the touch.

When they had climbed out of the shower and made it to the bed, Steve had reached into his nightstand drawer and pulled out a bottle of lubricating gel and a condom, his cheeks turning pink as he’d explained that he’d been planning it for a little while. The thought had made Bucky so damn hard and desperate to get his mouth on Steve, to make him feel so fucking good.

He reached for the bottle now, tongue still working tirelessly as he squeezed some onto his fingers and gently pressed against the tight ring of muscle, replacing his tongue with his finger. Steve gasped sharply as it breached him and panted into the pillow as Bucky pressed soft kisses on the base of his spine.

“Is that okay?” he murmured.

“Yes,” Steve gasped, lifting his head free. “More.”

Bucky smiled again and pushed his finger in a little further. He always had been good at following orders.

He kissed his way up Steve’s back softly, teeth nipping occasionally before his lips smoothed over the skin again. The fingers of one hand worked Steve open as the other hand wrapped around his cock, slowly stroking in a matching rhythm until Steve started to tremble beneath him.

“Oh my God,” Steve groaned. “You could make me come like this.”

Bucky mouthed at Steve’s shoulder gently.

“I can if you want,” he murmured.

“Not a chance,” Steve replied hotly.

Bucky’s fingers slid free as Steve rolled away from him and reached across the bed to grab the condom he’d taken out earlier. He allowed himself to be pushed back onto the bed as Steve straddled his thighs and ripped open the packet with his teeth before grasping the base of Bucky’s cock firmly. Bucky bit his bottom lip to stop a groan from escaping as his head fell back onto the covers. He didn’t know just how much experience Steve had with condoms, but he rolled it on like a pro, fast and efficient before sliding his way up Bucky’s body, kissing his way across his jaw.

Bucky couldn’t suppress the noises he made when Steve finally eased onto his cock, so hot and slick and tight, and it took everything he had not to push up and envelop himself fully in it. Instead, he gripped Steve’s hips firmly and allowed him the luxury of his own pace, knowing full well the sensation of being stretched and opened up this way.

Steve was beautiful above him, skin glistening with fresh perspiration, face, neck and chest flushed rose, blue eyes lightly closed and mouth open just slightly as he bottomed out. Small moans escaped Steve’s lips as he rocked his hips gently back and forward, getting used to the feeling of having Bucky inside him and all Bucky could do was hang on until Steve settled and felt comfortable enough to move,

It had been the plan to go slow, but after a moment of small movements, sliding up and down a little further each time, Steve started to quickly lose control and suddenly he was fucking down onto Bucky hard and too fast. It was good – so fucking good and Steve was moaning loudly as he moved, fingers gently raking across Bucky’s stomach.

“Shit,” Bucky gasped. “St-Steve…slow down a bit sweetie. Slow down…”

He tightened his grip on Steve’s hips and forced him to move slower. Steve fell forward, hand going behind Bucky’s neck as he rode him, grinding down hard to take Bucky as deep as possible. Slow only lasted for another minute before Steve was speeding up again, slamming himself down on Bucky who was already feeling the heat tighten in the pit of his belly.

“Steve, you have to slow down…” he groaned, trying desperately not to thrust upwards.

“Why?” Steve panted in his ear.

“Because,” Bucky replied, “if you don’t, I’m going to come in less than a minute.”

Steve groaned and sucked Bucky’s earlobe into his mouth, making him cry out.

“Don’t you dare,” Steve ordered him. “Don’t you dare come before I do.”

Bucky held on for dear life as Steve sat back up, fixing his gorgeous blue eyes on Bucky as he deliberately slowed the movement of his hips again.

Whenever his drill sergeant back in basic training had given him an order, Bucky had found himself getting a little hot under the collar. Just a little. Nothing compared to what Steve was doing to him. He felt compelled to obey, something in those blue eyes telling him that he’d be in so much trouble if he didn’t. But in that moment with Steve on top of him, chest heaving, hair falling forward into his eyes and feeling so damned amazing around him, Bucky wasn’t sure if this was an order he could follow, but fuck he was going to try.

He was so damn close, practically biting through his bottom lip as he felt his belly tighten and thighs tense. Steve was practically shouting his pleasure as he sped up again and this time there was no getting him to ease up as he rode Bucky hard, one hand in his hair and the other sliding down to take hold of his cock.

“Oh God,” Steve gasped. “Just a little more…right there, Bucky…fuck yes!”

Bucky’s toes were turning numb and his balls ached with the effort of holding back his impending orgasm. He couldn’t do it, he wasn’t going to make it. And then Steve slammed down at a slightly different angle and cried out, every muscle in his body tensing as he came, shooting white and hot all over Bucky’s stomach. Bucky followed seconds later, the white heat coil inside him snapping as he emptied himself inside of Steve’s body with a shuddering groan.

Steve slumped forward, shaking and panting hard into Bucky’s neck and Bucky wrapped his arms around the tiny, frail body and holding him until they came down from their high. Steve didn’t move for a long time, only stirring when Bucky began pressing soft kisses into his skinny shoulder.

“Hmmm,” he murmured softly, nuzzling against Bucky’s jaw.

“Just checking you’re still alive,” Bucky replied with a smile, rolling them gently to the side. He slid free of Steve and quickly stripped off the condom, dropping it onto the floor to be dealt with later before pulling Steve towards him again.

"You haven’t killed me yet,” Steve said sleepily, wrapping his ankle over Bucky’s calf. “Not that it wouldn’t have been a hell of a way to go…”

Bucky laughed softly.

“Oh my god,” he mused. “You are such a monster.”

“You like it,” Steve whispered back.

Bucky slid his finger under Steve’s chin and tilted his head up, capturing Steve’s mouth with his and kissing him gently.

He didn’t just like it – he loved it. More than that, he loved Steve. He definitely loved Steve. Funny how one guy could change his entire life around in five weeks. Bucky couldn’t back out now if he tried.

Chapter Text

Bucky had been picking out dresses for half an hour by the time Peggy arrived at the bridal boutique in Manhattan – the same one he’d been to with Natasha a few weeks earlier.

“Sorry I’m a bit late,” she told him as she breezed in, all long legs and big brown eyes. “We had a bit of a lunch time rush and I didn’t want to leave Steve to deal with it by himself. His blood pressure probably would have gone through the roof!”

Bucky grinned and gave her a quick peck on the cheek.

“It’s fine,” he replied. “I’ve been quite enjoying myself amongst the rows of satin and organza.”

Peggy shook her head slightly and smiled.

“You know, I have never met a man who liked dress shopping. Never in my entire life, in fact.”

“What’s not to like?”

“Well, that’s what I’ve always thought!”

Bucky beamed at her and ran his hand over a beautiful floaty chiffon gown, before taking it off the rain and adding it to the selection.

“I think that’s probably enough for us to be getting on with,” he said lightly. “Too much choice can often be counter-productive.”

He held Peggy at arm’s length and looked her over. Peggy was beautiful – tall and curvy, dark hair and dark eyes and clear mid-toned skin. She would look completely stunning in the pale blue-green colour that he had chosen.

Peggy was Natasha’s only bridesmaid and Bucky needed something simple and elegant to show off her figure to its best, but also not take the attention away from the bride. He had a few selections ready for her to try on and he gathered them up in order to follow her through to the dressing room. He didn’t go beyond the curtain with Peggy though. Natasha was more than comfortable with Bucky seeing her in next to nothing – they’d lived in very close quarters during their Special Forces days – but he wouldn’t dream of doing the same thing with Peggy. Instead, he sat beside the circular mirrors, waiting for her to come out with the first dress.

“Wow!” he said as she emerged with the first dress on – a pure satin gown with a v-neckline and low back.

“What do you think?” she asked cheerfully as she walked towards him.

“I think you make that dress look amazing,” Bucky replied with a smile, holding out his hand to help her up onto the pedestal so she could get a better view of the gown.

Peggy smiled.

“Are you this smooth around Steve?” she asked with a laugh.

“Actually, I’m more of a nervous wreck around Steve,” Bucky admitted mildly. “I honestly had the best part of a bottle of wine down me before I could ask him out the first time.”

Peggy grinned.

“Well, the first date seemed to go pretty well, so you must have got past that alright.”

Bucky smirked.

“Yeah, I was kind of expecting this sort-of quiet, bashful little guy and I got…”

“Steve.”

“Yes,” Bucky replied. “He’s certainly something else.”

Peggy smiled at him and then looked at her reflection in the circle of mirrors before making a face and extending her hand for Bucky to help her down. She obviously wasn’t a big fan of that particular gown.

“Thank you again, by the way,” she said as she closed the curtain behind her and left Bucky sitting by the mirrors as she tried on something else.

“What? For helping you pick a dress?”

“No,” Peggy replied, amused. “For helping Steve, last week when he was sick.”

“Oh Peggy, I told you, you don’t have to thank me for that.”

“I know,” she said as she drew back the curtain and stepped out in the next dress. “But he’s an absolute nightmare when he’s sick and you endured it with that patience of a saint.”

Bucky shrugged as he helped Peggy back up.

“That’s just what you do when you’re in love with someone,” he replied absently.

Peggy slowly turned and looked down at him, brown eyes wide. Only then did Bucky realise what he had said.

“Did you just…”

“Er…yeah…that colour really suits you, by the way.”

“No, don’t change the subject,” Peggy said with a grin. “You just said you love him.”

“Yes.”

“You love Steve.”

“Yes.”

Bucky rubbed the back of his neck, suddenly feeling a little too hot. He hadn’t meant to say that, especially not to Peggy Carter.

“I actually already knew that,” she replied smugly.

“I’m sorry?”

Peggy stepped down from the pedestal and sat on the chair next to him, smiling as she looked over his slightly pink face.

“You see him,” she explained. “From the moment you met him you knew he wasn’t how he looked. You didn’t see him as small and skinny and weak – you saw he was creative, beautiful, smart-mouthed and clever, and later you realised that he was also sweet, selfless and brave. And then just last week you saw him be stubborn and strong and now you’re saying you love him, and I already know because it’s impossible to see Steve Rogers for who he really is and not love him.”

Bucky stared. She was right – it was completely impossible not to love Steve. He only had to be around the whole group of them for five minutes to know that Peggy, Sam and Natasha all completely adored him. Even Clint had taken an immediate liking to Steve and they had bonded over their mutual knowledge of sign language, and Clint didn’t like anybody.

He rubbed the back of his neck again and huffed out a short laugh.

“I think he’s amazing, Peggy,” he said quietly.

“Of course you do,” she replied, nudging his shoulder gently. “And I don’t think this gown is quite right, do you?”

Bucky smiled.

“Try the silk off-shoulder one – I think it’ll look perfect on you.”

Peggy grinned and stood up, disappearing behind the curtain once more. Bucky smiled to himself, glad that Peggy was being incredibly sweet and supportive, but a little embarrassed that he had been so plainly obvious about his feelings for Steve. Bucky had always been the kind to fall in love quickly, but he’d be damned if he’d ever really admitted it to a single soul before.

It hadn’t taken him long to find himself falling. Steve had been the most adorable thing Bucky had ever laid eyes on – small and delicate with beautiful eyes and a gorgeous smile. Bucky had been instantly attracted, but everything he’d learned about Steve after that, every bit of his personality had made Bucky want to stick around. Even the stubbornness when he’d been sick.

“Peggy?”

“Yep?”

“Has Steve always been so unwilling to accept help?”

Peggy drew back the curtain and emerged. Bucky had been right – the silk dress was perfect on her figure.

“Oh yes,” she replied as he helped her up to the mirrors again. “The worst of it was a few months into baking school.”

“What happened?” Bucky asked.

“He was starting to come in late some mornings. Sometimes he would miss classes. He looked dead on his feet and one morning he accidentally set fire to his sleeve whilst making caramel, and I made him tell me what was wrong. It turns out that his mother had been in hospital with lung cancer, and Steve had been working two jobs to pay for medical care, as well as going to school. She had literally died two days before, and Steve hadn’t told a soul.”

“Shit…” Bucky muttered. “Why in the hell not?”

Peggy shrugged.

“Because he insisted that he could manage on his own.”

Bucky shook his head.

“Wow…that really was kinda dumb of him.”

“Yes, it was,” Peggy agreed. “I pretty much had to fight him to get him to let me help him.”

“Yeah, I had to do that too,” Bucky replied, smiling ruefully. “He let you help in the end though, right?”

“Yes, he did,” she said with a soft smile. “Eventually. He moved in with me and I made him quit one of his jobs so he could actually get some sleep.”

“And you’ve been doing that ever since, haven’t you?” Bucky replied with a grin. “Making sure he doesn’t work himself to death.”

“Exactly,” she said, grinning back. “Anyway – what do you think of this dress?”

Bucky took a step back and looked at her, eyes moving from her feet, upwards. It was the exact same colour as the Gatchina Palace Faberge egg – palest blue-green, silk, and it perfectly balanced her body by hugging it in all the right places.

“You look beautiful,” Bucky replied, smiling.

She beamed at him.

“Thank you.”

“I think that’s the one.”

“Me too,” she agreed. “And it compliments Natasha’s dress?”

“It’ll be perfect,” he assured her.

“Good,” she said as he helped her down again.

Bucky gathered all the gowns together as Peggy got dressed again and he gave them to the staff to sort out before heading to the counter to order the preferred dress in Peggy’s size. The girl at the counter smiled at him, her eyes lighting up with recognition.

“I remember you,” she said brightly. “You were in here a couple of weeks ago.”

“Er…yeah, I was,” he replied, rubbing the back of his neck again as he remembered completely embarrassing himself by telling Natasha, very loudly and in graphic detail, about his first date with Steve, not realising that every other customer in the place could hear him.

“How are things going with the cute little baker?” she asked.

A smile spread over Bucky’s face.

“It’s going really well actually,” he said.

“They’re fucking,” Peggy piped up, appearing suddenly behind him and grinning widely. “And I’m guessing it’s really good, from the noises I heard at six in the morning one day last week through the walls of my apartment.”

The girl at the counter looked positively delighted to hear this news, and Bucky just smiled and shook his head.

“Thank you for that Peggy,” he said cheerfully. “I’m pretty sure the entirety of New York will be thrilled to know the status of my relationship with Steve.”

She just grinned at him as he finished ordering and paying for her gown before linking arms with him as they left the boutique.

“So,” Peggy said. “Are you busy this evening, or would you like to come back for dinner with me and Steve?”

“I’m not busy, and I would absolutely love to come for dinner.”

“Is it the lure of my cooking, or the fact that you want to pin Steve down on the nearest flat surface that’s influencing this decision?”

“Actually,” Bucky replied lightly, “I’d much rather he pin me on the nearest flat surface. But the food thing sounds good too.”

Peggy raised her eyebrows.

“That was a little more information than I think I needed,” she mused.

Bucky laughed and wrapped his arm around her shoulder, giving her a quick squeeze before letting go and linking arms again. He did very much like Peggy Carter.

~

Steve had really enjoyed his afternoon alone in the bakery. He had recovered rather well from his fever and the day had been quiet enough for him to spend most of it working on a birthday cake for an eight year old girl who lived a few blocks away.

He had felt on top of the world the last few days, still floating on air after that amazing night with Bucky. Sam, Nat and Peggy had all teased him about it mercilessly at dinner the next day – he’d apparently woken everyone up by moaning so loudly at six in the morning, and he’d blushed furiously but the grin on his face had stayed.

Steve had felt a little guilty though. Bucky had been pretty damn specific in what he’d described that night at the Blue House hotel, and the other night Steve had asked for it. It had started out pretty perfectly, Bucky opening Steve up slowly with his tongue until Steve was shaking with want, desperate to have Bucky inside him. The plan had gone out of the window the second he had bottomed out – Bucky had tried to get Steve to slow down, but it had been too good and so long since Steve had felt anything like it. He’d ridden Bucky hard and too fast, and he’d never given Bucky the opportunity to slowly bring Steve to the brink before making him come with his fingers. That’s what Bucky had wanted, what he’d explicitly told Steve that night at the hotel and Steve had wanted him to do it, except he got carried away and Bucky hadn’t taken control.

He realised that it had been him controlling every sexual counter they’d had, and that Bucky probably wouldn’t ever take control unless Steve asked him to. He was determined to give Bucky that chance, and soon.

Steve finished the birthday cake and packed up the remaining baked goods for collection by the local soup kitchen, since Peggy was otherwise occupied and couldn’t take them like she normally would. He flipped the sign to closed and started the usual ritual of wiping down all the surfaces and making sure everything was clean and disinfected before making his way back into the kitchen and whipping up some chocolate frosting to decorate the small cake he’d made for after dinner.

He was just filling up the piping bag when the bakery door opened and he heard Bucky’s voice call out to him. Steve’s stomach flipped magnificently and he couldn’t stop the smile spreading across his face.

“I’m in the kitchen!” he called back.

A moment later, Bucky appeared in the doorway, just as gorgeous as ever in his semi-formal work attire of light open-necked button down short and dark pants. He grinned at Steve.

“Hey,” he said, walking straight up behind Steve and wrapping his arms around his thin waist.

“Hi,” Steve murmured back, heart hammering hard as Bucky nuzzled into his hair. “How was dress shopping?”

“It was great,” Bucky replied, face still buried in Steve’s hair, muffling his voice slightly. “She looks outstanding in the one we picked.”

“Peggy looks outstanding in everything.”

“I don’t doubt that,” Bucky mused.

Steve smiled as he slowly piped the chocolate frosting onto the cake expertly with one hand, turning the cake with the other. He chuckled when Bucky’s nuzzling migrated from Steve’s hair to his neck.

“That tickles.”

“Sorry,” Bucky murmured, lips lightly grazing the side of Steve’s neck. “You just smell so good.”

Steve burst out laughing.

“Lies! I’ve been stuck in a hot bakery all day – there’s no way I smell good.”

“But you do,” Bucky insisted. “You smell like freshly baked bread…” he paused to breathe in and then said, “…and peanut butter.”

“Well I have just been making peanut butter fudge cake,” Steve replied, indicating the cake in front of him.

“That explains the peanut butter smell,” Bucky said, finally lifting his head and peering over Steve’s shoulder.

Steve smiled as he finished piping the chocolate frosting with a small flourish.

“Mmm…looks good…”

Bucky’s hand left Steve’s waist and reached out, finger aiming to dip into the newly piped frosting on top of the cake.

“Oh no you don’t,” Steve said, half-turning swiftly and raising his piping bag to squeeze a dollop onto Bucky’s nose. The hand halted in its tracks as Bucky went cross-eyed, looking at the chocolate on his nose in surprise.

“Aw man, Stevie! That’s just not fair. You totally missed my mouth!”

“Yeah, but it didn’t miss mine,” Steve replied playfully.

Bucky’s face registered confusion in the split second before Steve turned fully in his arms and reached up, his mouth closing gently over Bucky’s nose as he sucked off the frosting, lips scraping it from the delicate skin before releasing with a pop.

Bucky stared at him for a second before starting to laugh, his eyes crinkling at the corners.

“You’re such a punk,” he said.

Steve grinned.

“Frosting tastes good off your nose,” he mused. “I wonder if it tastes just as good from….here.”

He lifted the piping bag again and squeezed some chocolate frosting onto Bucky’s chin before licking that off too, very delicately.

“You’re a monster,” Bucky murmured as his eyes fluttered closed briefly.

“Hmm…yep, still tasted good,” Steve replied lightly, ignoring Bucky’s comment. “What about here?”

He squeezed the bag again and a blob of frosting appeared in the space on Bucky’s chest just above where his shirt was fastened. Steve licked that off too and Bucky started to laugh again.

“That tickles.”

“I’m getting you back,” Steve grinned. “And I’m not quite finished yet.”

Steve smirked, using one hand to prise the buttons open on Bucky’s shit while Bucky stood there passively, shoulders shaking from trying to contain his laughter. Steve took a moment to ponder, studying the smooth bare torso in front of him before giving a decisive nod and piping a smiley face onto Bucky’s body – a blob on each nipple and the curved line just above his navel.

Bucky cracked up, laughing loudly as Steve playfully closed his mouth around one of the chocolate frosted nubs and sucking gently, feeling it harden under his tongue before moving onto the other one. He could hear the laugh catch in Bucky’s chest and smiled to himself as he scraped his teeth softly over the second nipple before leaving it and moving down towards the chocolately smile.

He made Bucky laugh again as he lapped wetly across his stomach, delighting in the way those delicious stomach muscled twitched beneath his tongue. Bucky’s hand slid into Steve’s hair, tugging gently as he squirmed.

“Steve, that really tickles!”

Steve grinned and straightened, trailing his finger lazily through the last remaining line of frosting before raising it to Bucky’s mouth and slipping delicately between his lips. Bucky sucked at his finger greedily, tongue swirling around the tip, lips sliding down to the first knuckle and then the second before sliding up again, nipping the tip of Steve’s finger gently before letting go. Steve had just about stopped breathing.

“Now who’s a monster?” he muttered.

Bucky smiled at him innocently before wrapping an arm around Steve’s waist and pulling him close.

‘Well if you’re gonna put something in my mouth, I’m gonna suck it.”

“Is that a promise?” Steve replied quickly.

Bucky’s eyebrows shot up and his grin turned much less innocent. He opened his mouth to say something but then the front pocket of Steve’s apron began to vibrate and ‘Friends Will be Friends’ by Queen stared to play, muffled by fabric. It was Peggy’s ringtone and Steve backed away from Bucky in order to fish the phone out. He shot Bucky an apologetic look before picking up the call.

“Hey Peggy.”

“Dinner’s ready, stud muffin,” she replied cheerfully.

Steve grinned.

“Thank you, we’ll be right up.”

“And you’d better not be shagging in my kitchen!”

“Would I do a thing like that?” Steve replied.

Peggy snorted in response and hung up. Steve turned to Bucky who had found a dishcloth and was starting to wipe down his sticky skin.

“We’re being summoned,” he said.

Bucky smiled at him as he put the cloth down and started to re-fasten his shirt.

“Damn,” he replied. “And I was about to suggest another use for that frosting.”

Steve chuckled and stepped up to him, wrapping his arms around Bucky’s waist and reaching up to place a soft kiss on his mouth.

“Can you stay tonight?” Steve murmured softly.

Bucky sighed as he reached up to brush Steve’s hair back tenderly.

“I can’t,” he said regretfully. “I’ve got a really early start tomorrow.”

Steve tried not to let his disappointment show on his face.

“It’s okay.”

“I’m sorry, sweetie.”

“Bucky,” Steve said with a small smile. “It’s okay.”

“I’ll stay over next time,” Bucky promised, leaning down to run his nose, still slightly sticky from the frosting, across Steve’s cheek. Steve grinned and turned his head to capture Bucky’s mouth with his, kissing him gently for a moment before pulling away.

“I’ll hold you to that,” he replied. “Now lets go get dinner before it gets cold and Peggy yells at us.”

Chapter Text

The following Sunday was gorgeously hot again and Bucky was delighted when Steve agreed to go to Coney Island with him. Bucky loved Coney Island – he used to come here every summer with his sister Rebecca, and now that she was married, Bucky liked to bring her kids here on occasion – three little whirlwinds begging for ice cream and corn dogs and change for fairground rides. There was one thing he couldn’t take the kids on, though.

“Bucky, I am not going on the Cyclone,” Steve laughed, pulling back on Bucky’s hand with all of his strength when Bucky was barely even trying to drag him in the direction of the rollercoaster.

“Aw c’mon Stevie! It’ll be fun!”

“It’s not happening,” Steve insisted, stumbling a little bit as Bucky managed to pull him towards him just a little before he managed to dig his heels in again. “I went on it once and I threw up everywhere. It’s not an attractive look, seriously!”

Bucky grinned and gave Steve’s arm a sharp tug, pulling him off his feet entirely to stumble, laughing, straight into Bucky’s waiting arms.

“Okay, no Cyclone,” he agreed, hands resting on Steve’s tiny waist, thumbs dipping under the hem of his t-shirt to gently stroke the soft skin just above the waistband of Steve’s shorts.

They were both in shorts today, the heat of the last weekend in July just too much for anything else but the lightest cotton garments that the population of New York owned. Steve was wearing the exact same clothes that he’d worn on his birthday, and Bucky found that this casual Steve was his current favourite.

Steve smiled at him, palms flat on Bucky’s chest.

“I’m good with the bumper cars though,” he said.

“Bumper cars it is!”

Steve Rogers was a menace in a bumper car. He seems to make it his own personal goal to find Bucky’s car in the throng and smash into it at full speed every single time. Bucky was going to end up with bruises the way his body slammed into the side of the car on impact, but it was nothing compared to the way Steve’s whippet-thin body moved when he hit with so much force that Bucky was sure his spine might snap. All the same, Bucky loved the mischievous glint in Steve’s blue eyes and the way he threw back his head and cackled gleefully as he drove his bumper car forcefully into Bucky’s again and again. Bucky would be very surprised if they didn’t both wake up in pain the next day.

“I swear, Rogers,” Bucky said, wincing as he climbed out of his car and made his way to Steve who was standing, grinning at him. “Behind that adorable exterior, you’re honestly just the devil incarnate. That was painful.”

Steve chuckled.

“And there was me thinking that you could handle a little rough treatment,” he replied innocently.

Bucky’s jaw dropped.

“Oh, you did not!” Bucky countered.

For a small, asthmatic guy, Steve could actually move fast, darting out of the way as Bucky reached out to grab him again and taking off into the crowd. He was halfway to the boardwalk by the time Bucky caught up to him, wrapping his arms around the skinny shoulders of a laughing Steve and lifting him off his feet in a bear hug from behind.

“You’re a damn monster!” Bucky murmured into the soft straw-blond hair.

“And yet you’re still here,” Steve replied happily, fighting to put his feet on the ground again.

“Damn right, I am.”

Bucky set him down and rocked him from side to side gently before letting go and straightening up. Steve was beaming as he turned and wrapped his arms around Bucky’s waist and looking up at him in a way that made Bucky’s heart skip a beat. God damn, but he was completely in love with Steve Rogers.

“So,” Steve said. “What now?”

“I dunno,” replied Bucky, running his hand over Steve’s hair lightly.

He adored how okay Steve was with Bucky touching him in public like this. He’d never do more than this – hugging him, pressing an occasional kiss into his hair – but people always stopped to stare at two guys and it took a lot to be comfortable with doing it. Steve obviously was.

“How about,” Steve said with a smile, “we just take a walk on the beach?”

“Okay.”

~

“Get off.”

“Just a little bit?”

“You had the opportunity to get your own and you opted out!”

“That’s because I didn’t want one of my own, Stevie,” Bucky whined. “I just want a little lick of yours.”

“Is that a fact?” Steve snorted, holding his gelato out of reach.

“Please, Stevie! I swear, I won’t even make a dent, I just want a tiny tiny taste of your sweet sweet…”

“Bucky?” a voice behind them made Bucky grind to a halt, pulling Steve to a stop beside him as he turned. Steve’s eyebrows rose as he faced the speaker – a guy of about five-foot-eight, blond with tanned skin, his shirt hanging from his back pocket meaning his toned torso was on show. He was pretty good looking, and smirking at Bucky.

“Tyler,” Bucky replied tightly.

Steve glanced at Bucky’s face – all the happiness was gone, replaced by wariness. Steve reached for Bucky’s hand instinctively, an action that didn’t go unnoticed by the newcomer.

“So this is what you have fucking you now?” Tyler asked.

Steve bristled.

“Run along, Tyler,” Bucky replied briskly, squeezing Steve’s hand gently. “It’s none of your damn business anymore.”

Steve didn’t have any experience in this area – running into your new boyfriend’s ex. It was obvious now that’s what Tyler was, and Bucky was none too pleased to see him.

“Nah, but I can’t help being concerned for you,” Tyler continued, even as Bucky started to turn around again. “I mean, he has to be fucking you, right? Because he’d break otherwise…”

“Watch your damn mouth,” Bucky replied quietly, turning away again and giving Steve’s hand a gentle tug to get him to follow.

Steve was irritated now though. Just who hell did this guy think he was?

“…but you wouldn’t do that anyway, would you Barnes? Because everyone in the City knows just how much you like to take it. I mean, can your new guy even fuck you the way you like it…?”

That was the point where Steve lost it. His gelato hit the ground as he broke free of Bucky’s grasp, hands bunching into fists as he moved forward quickly. Not quickly enough though, because even as the guy stepped back in surprise, Bucky’s arms reached out and closed firmly around Steve’s shoulders, pinning his arms by his sides gently but with strength.

“Don’t, Steve,” Bucky said quietly in Steve’s ear. “He’s not worth it, sweetie.”

Steve snarled at Tyler, who gave a nervous laugh in response.

“Jeez, Barnes. Keep your Chihuahua on a leash.”

“Get lost,” Bucky replied over the top of Steve’s head. “Before I let him go and allow him to beat you to a pulp with his tiny ineffectual fists.”

Steve stilled in Bucky’s arms as Tyler shrugged and backed away, but Bucky didn’t release him until the guy had disappeared from view. Steve frowned as he turned to look at Bucky who was wearing the expression of someone who was expecting to be yelled at. Steve took in a deep breath and let it out slowly before saying anything.

“My God, Bucky,” Steve said, trying to keep his voice from shaking with residual anger. “Have you always dated such total assholes?”

The apprehensive look on Bucky’s face cracked as he smiled wryly.

“Honestly? Yeah.”

Steve’s frown deepened but he reached out to take Bucky’s hand and pulled him to the side of the boardwalk, out of the way of the throng of people passing back and forth.

“Why?” Steve asked quietly.

Bucky shrugged and stuffed his hands in the pockets of his shorts as he leaned back against the railing, letting out a long sigh.

“I dunno,” he replied, looking at his feet. “I guess I just always go for the same kind of guy and keep getting stuck in the same old cycle time after time because I’ve never really thought I deserved anything better.”

“What do you mean?” Steve asked, confused.

Bucky glanced up at him and gave a smile just this side of sad.

“Fight Club,” he murmured.

Steve looked at the ground, all his anger dissipating. Fight Club was the code word for Special Forces – he’d heard Natasha use it when there was something presumably deep and dark from her past that she didn’t want to talk about. The first rule of Fight Club, and all that.

Bucky was gorgeous, and he was sweet and funny and affectionate and smart and kind. Steve couldn’t for the life of him understand why he’d think he wasn’t worth more than assholes like Tyler. What the hell had happened to them all in Special Forces? What had happened to Bucky to make him think that he wasn’t good enough for anything more than total jackasses?

Well, Steve wasn’t a jackass, and he knew that Bucky Barnes was damned amazing.

He slipped his hand around Bucky’s middle and reached up to kiss his cheek tenderly.

“You wanna go to the aquarium?” he asked softly.

Bucky’s mouth spread into its usual trademark grin as he linked his fingers with Steve’s.

“Yeah, that would be nice.”

~

Bucky had felt a little on edge since bumping into Tyler on the boardwalk at Coney Island but that feeling was now almost gone as Steve moved on top of him, hot mouth softly sucking at the spot just behind Bucky’s ear as they lay on the recliner on the roof of Steve’s building under the warm afternoon sun.

Steve had been amazing – that little firecracker had been more than ready to punch Bucky’s ex right in the face and Bucky might have let him if he hadn’t have known that he’d get dragged into the fight too. He was still recovering from beating those two guys a few weeks ago – Bucky didn’t like who he turned into when he saw red, didn’t like the stone cold feeling inside. He’d already done so many horrible things in his life and he’d spend the rest of it atoning for them.

That was probably the reason why he’d dated so many awful guys. They all looked hot and were confident and flirtatious and amazing in bed, and Bucky was the kind to fall fast and hard but the second he did he got dumped because all those guys were looking for was an easy lay, and Bucky was most definitely that. Like Natasha had told him – we accept the love we think we deserve, and Bucky had never believed he deserved more.

But now here he was, hot and sweating on his back in the July sun, stripped of his shirt with the most beautiful creature on God’s green earth grinding down on him, marking Bucky’s skin with his mouth, nipping his flesh gently between his teeth, claiming Bucky for his own and Bucky didn’t know what he could possibly have done right in his life to deserve Steve Rogers but he was so terrified of fucking up and having him taken away.

His hands slid down Steve’s spine and his fingers delved below the waistband of his shorts, cupping the two perfectly small round buttocks and pulling Steve closer. Steve groaned softly in Bucky’s ear and buried his slender hands further into Bucky’s hair as his teeth clamped down on the fleshy earlobe.

“Fuck…” Bucky gasped, earning a soft pleased noise from Steve in return.

God, but he loved this kind of teasing – a slow burn of kissing and grinding, of feeling his hard cock brush against Steve’s through the cotton confines of pants, of Steve’s teeth biting down and his hands pulling Bucky’s hair and being just on the gentle side of rough. He wanted it so bad, wanted to be visibly marked so that everyone would know that he belonged to this gorgeous, tiny baker. He wanted Steve to own him in every way possible.

Bucky felt the tug on his hair and obediently tilted his head to the side, allowing Steve access to lick a long stripe up his throat. Bucky didn’t even try to hide the moan that bubbled up from his chest as his hands gently squeezed Steve’s rear.

“You are so beautiful,” Steve murmured in his ear.

Bucky huffed a single sound of amusement.

“Lies,” he replied.

“It’s true,” Steve said, placing tiny kisses up over Bucky’s jaw. One of Steve’s hands flexed in Bucky’s hair whilst the other slid down his torso, thumbnail scraping gently over the right nipple and making Bucky gasp and tilt his hips upwards. “You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how I got so lucky.”

Bucky groaned again as Steve’s lips pulled gently at his ear once more.

“More like bad luck,” he countered. “You must have broken a mirror…”

Suddenly, Steve’s hand had ceased playing with his nipple and was up, grasping his chin firmly and pulling Bucky’s face towards him. Steve’s gorgeous blue eyes were almost black, his mouth pink and swollen and wet, his expression fierce.

“Stop doing that,” Steve said softly. “Stop selling yourself short. I’m telling you that I think you’re amazing. Start believing it.”

Bucky looked at Steve, wide-eyed and earnest and for a second he did believe. Steve kissed him hard, tongue forcing its way past Bucky’s lips forcefully and pushing against his own, knocking the air out of Bucky’s lungs and making him light-headed and dizzy. He didn’t give a damn, because this was Steve and he was everything that Bucky never knew he’d needed. He had Bucky’s heart completely, and even if he didn’t quite think he was worth much, the fact that Steve thought it made his heart soar.

“Take me to bed,” he gasped through kisses. “Pin me down, kiss me, claim me, do whatever you want with me because I’m yours.”

Steve stopped and drew back just an inch, panting hard with his lips brushing against Bucky’s.

“That’s what you want?” he asked.

“Yes,” Bucky confirmed.

Steve slid from his lap smoothly and stood, skinny chest heaving and he held out his hand to pull Bucky to his feet. Bucky felt like he was in a dream as they left their shirts on the hot roof and made their way inside silently, Bucky allowing himself to be gently pulled along by Steve. His limbs tingled with excitement and arousal, erection straining against his pants and he didn’t think he’d ever wanted anything or anyone more in his life than he wanted Steve Rogers to be inside of him right now.

~

Steve’s mouth watered at the sight before him – Bucky, completely naked on Steve’s bed, face down and ass in the air with his hands clasped loosely behind his back, like an offering to a deity.

He kissed over every inch of that body, starting at Bucky’s right ankle and moving up over the tones calf and the solid muscular thigh to the crease before moving back down to start of the other ankle. He mouthed over those perfect fleshy mounds and up Bucky’s spine, his hands running smoothly up his sides, feeling the exact hitch in Bucky’s breathing when Steve’s cock brushed up against his cheeks. Steve kissed over his shoulders, hands running up into that soft dark hair again, pulling softly.

Heat coiled deliciously in Steve’s belly as Bucky softly groaned, his face pressed into the coverlet and muffling the sound slightly. Steve had never felt so powerful, so in control as right in this moment when his touch made Bucky elicit the most delightful sounds, made his breathing speed up and his body tremble. Steve was doing all of that to him and it felt wonderful.

He flattened himself against the strong back, his cock, slipping wetly between Bucky’s open thighs as Steve tugged on the soft dark hair again, tilting Bucky’s head further to the side so that he could get in to suck on his ear.

Oh god, the noise that Bucky made when Steve did that always went right to his dick and he could feel the heat rise in his face and spread down through his neck and chest. Steve fucking loved it.

“All mine,” he murmured hotly into Bucky’s ear.

“Yes…” Bucky whispered.

“What do you want me to do?” Steve asked, mouthing at the back of Bucky’s neck as he rocked his hips slowly, feeling himself slide across Bucky’s hot skin.

Nobody had ever had this effect on him before, never made him want to possess them so badly.

“Just slick yourself up and fuck me,” Bucky breathed, pressing back into him. “Don’t bother trying to open me, don’t be fucking gentle. I want to feel everything, every damn inch of you just fucking me raw.”

Steve’s eyes fluttered closed and he swallowed, the ache in the bit of his belly growing stronger.

“Are you sure you can take it?”

“Yeah, I’m sure,” Bucky murmured. “C’mon, Stevie.”

He didn’t need any more encouragement, reaching for the condoms and bottle of lubricating gel that were on the nightstand still from the last time. Steve ripped open the little square packet and wasted no time rolling the condom on before taking up the bottle and squeezing some gel out of the bottle across his whole length, making sure there was an excess. Bucky waited beneath him patiently, quietly as Steve slicked himself up and then, without ceremony, pushed forward and breached the tight ring of muscle.

Bucky was hot and tight around him and Steve’s breath came in short, sharp bursts and he pushed in slowly, bit by bit. Bucky hadn’t made a sound yet, his fists bunched up in the covers.

“You okay?” Steve managed to pant.

“Yes…” Bucky gasped in reply. “Just move…please…just…fucking move.”

God and it was just too amazing, the feeling of being inside Bucky like this. Steve could move him anyway he wanted, Bucky was just so pliable. He pulled on his hair, moved Bucky up onto his hands and knees as his hips snapped forward, smacking forcefully into Bucky’s ass as Steve pulled him back to meet the thrust.

The harder he went, the louder Bucky got, the more Bucky pleaded and begged Steve to go harder and faster, and the more Steve strived to comply. He wanted to give Bucky everything he asked for.

“You feel so good…” Steve gasped, leaning forward across Bucky’s back to mouth at his ear again.

“Oh fuck, Steve…” Bucky whimpered softly.

“You’re so tight and hot and slick…”

“Yeah? Oh God, I love this…”

“Love it hard?”

“Fuck yes…I need it, baby…just fuck me so hard.”

Steve bit his lip and drove himself harder into Bucky’s body, causing the loud moans to escalate almost to screams and a string of incoherent curses. He could feel his toes starting to go numb, feel his chest getting tight as he panted with exertion, sweat rolling down his forehead and clinging to the back of his neck. He was so damn close to coming and he didn’t think he’d be able to slow down, not now, not when it felt so good and Bucky was screaming at him for more.

Steve felt the body beneath him start to tremble uncontrollably and he flattened himself across Bucky’s back, hand sliding down and around to finally wrap around Bucky’s throbbing erection. Three long strokes and Bucky was coming hot over the covers and Steve’s hand, crying out wordlessly as he tensed and shook and tightened around Steve. He pulled out, rolling the condom off in one fluid motion, tossing it to the side before taking himself in hand. It took less than a minute for him to reach orgasm, his thighs burning with the effort it had taken to give Bucky what he’d wanted. He came on hot sticky streaks over Bucky’s back, drawing long, shuddering breaths before collapsing, spent.

His chest heaved but there was no rattle of an asthma attack, just his lungs fighting to get his breathing back under control. Bucky inched towards him, still on his stomach and curled up into Steve’s side, pressing small kisses onto his chest.

“Are you okay, sweetie?” Bucky asked.

Steve smiled and reached over to smooth Bucky’s hair back. He was so beautiful, looking at him hazily with those blue eyes. Steve was so glad that blue was a colour he’d always been able to see.

“Yes,” he replied. “You?”

“Outstanding,” Bucky murmured, a smile spreading across his face.

Steve laughed softly and turned on his side, running his hand softly over Bucky’s arm and closed his eyes. They should have got up and showered, washed away the sweat and the sticky body fluids and crawled into bed fresh, but they were both too exhausted, the post-coital haze taking them both over too quickly in the oppressive July heat. It would have to wait until morning.

Chapter Text

"You’re not doing it hard enough," Steve said.

Bucky grunted with exertion, his wrists already starting to ache. Steve rolled his eyes and sighed loudly.

"You call yourself a man, Barnes? That’s weak! Get in there!"

"I’m trying!" Bucky gritted.

"Not hard enough! Get your fingers in deep."

"But it’s all squelchy…"

"I do this all the time Barnes, quit complaining and put your back into it!"

Bucky dug in deep, leaning heavily into it but obviously not hard enough for Steve’s liking.

"You have to really pound it!"

"I’M GIVING HER ALL SHE’S GOT, CAPTAIN!!!" Bucky shouted back, using his best Scottish accent which admittedly was pretty poor.

Steve threw back his head and laughed, loud and happy, exposing his delicious throat and if Bucky hadn’t been wrist-deep in goo, he would have gently wrapped his hand around it and kissed Steve breathless for laughing at his pathetic attempts.

His reverie was broken when he heard footsteps in the doorway and he looked up from Steve’s throat to see Clint, wearing a look of apprehension until he realised what they were both doing and then his expression turned to relief.

“It’s alright,” Barton yelled back over his shoulder. “They are NOT fucking! They’re making…what is that?” he asked, turning back to Bucky and raising an eyebrow.

“Cookie dough,” Bucky grinned.

Steve was still sitting on the counter top, laughing his head off and Bucky could already hear the start of a wheeze in Steve’s chest.

“You’re going to give yourself a damned asthma attack,” he said, nudging Steve’s knee with his elbow, his hands still buried in the sticky cookie dough.

Steve nodded, still cackling, and slid off the counter to go hunt for his inhaler. Bucky shook his head fondly and attempted to scrape the stickiness from his fingers as Natasha’s head appeared from behind Clint.

“Oh thank god for that,” she mused lightly. “We heard yells of ‘harder’ and ‘deeper’ and I got seriously concerned about ever eating anything that came out of Steve’s kitchen ever again.”

Bucky smirked at her.

“It’s mid-afternoon on a Sunday, Nat,” he replied. “Bit early for that sort of thing, isn’t it?”

“Well, it didn’t stop you last weekend, did it?” Natasha countered, batting her eyelashes innocently.

Bucky’s mouth dropped open.

Last Sunday he had gone to Coney Island with Steve and it had been the most perfect day, aside from a small encounter with one of Bucky’s exes. They had ended up making out on the roof of the building before heading down to Steve’s apartment where Bucky had been royally fucked on Steve’s bed. He’d forgotten that the walls of this apartment would be thinner than the ones in his own.

Barton rolled his eyes.

“Oh God, I am so glad I don’t live next door,” Clint muttered and turned away just as Steve reappeared with his inhaler.

“Gimme the bowl,” Steve said, stuffing the medication into his pocket and pushing up his shirt sleeves. “I’d best take over or they’ve never going to get done.”

Bucky grinned at kissed the top of Steve’s head as she sandwiched his way between Bucky and the mixing bowl. Bucky pointedly ignored Natasha as she smirked and mouthed ‘bottom’ at him. He washed his hands and took the lasagne out of the oven, trying to hide his smile.

Ten minutes later and they were all in Steve’s living room, Clint, Peggy and Nat squeezed on the couch whilst Sam took the one armchair, all eating Bucky’s homemade lasagne from plates balanced on their knees. Bucky sat on the floor with his back against the wall and Steve between his legs, plate on the floor on his left hand side and a notebook open on his right.

“So,” Bucky mumbled around a mouthful of dinner, “Are you two actually going to give me a seating plan for your guests? Tania at the venue is asking for numbers.”

“I thought we had plenty of time for that?” replied Sam.

Bucky raised his eyebrows.

“You’re getting married in four weeks, Sam.”

“Seriously? Shit.”

“I hope that’s a good ‘shit’, Wilson,” Nat said sternly.

Her fiancé smiled charmingly.

“Shit, I have to wait four whole weeks to marry the most beautiful, smart and badass woman on the planet.”

“Good answer,” Barton replied in a mock whisper.

Bucky rolled his eyes.

“Seriously though, guys. You have a month left to get these details done. I mean, so far you’ve both had zero input into your own wedding – I’m starting to think it’s my wedding, not yours.”

“Sorry,” Natasha replied, delicately cutting a square of lasagne with her fork. “It’s just that neither of us really knew what we wanted…”

“Except for my swing band,” cut in Sam.

“…and weddings are, like, your life now James. We trust you know what you’re doing.”

Bucky sighed and put down his own fork. Steve gently squeezed his knee and Bucky was glad for it, because he was close to swearing at somebody.

“All the same, I can’t do your guest list for you. So write it down and give it to me before I go home so I can update the venue….which you guys haven’t even looked at yet.”

Natasha held her hand out for Bucky’s notepad and Steve passed it to her without a word, snuggling back into Bucky when he’d finished.

“Is your boss coming to the wedding?” Peggy asked casually, standing up to take her empty plate back to the kitchen.

“Which one?”

“You have more than one boss?” Clint asked, passing is plate to Peggy on her way past.

“Natasha worked for Tony Stark for, like, three weeks,” Steve piped up. He had finished his plate of lasagne and was now starting on what Bucky had left on his.

“Really?”

“Yeah,” replied Nat with a shrug. “Until he blew up his house on his birthday and I thought it might be safer for me to work for Pepper Potts instead.”

“Either way, she’s PA to the CEO of Stark Enterprises,” said Sam proudly.

“But no, I don’t think either of them are coming,” Natasha added. “But Ms Potts IS footing the bill for our choice of venue, which is how I’m able to throw money at James right now.”

Bucky snorted.

“You make me sound like a stripper.”

“Are you not?” Nat asked innocently.

“Not since Montenegro,” Bucky replied sweetly, causing Clint to almost choke on his drink and have to run to the kitchen, half laughing, half spluttering.

Steve half turned and looked at Bucky with a look of confusion.

“I’m guessing that’s a fight club thing?” he murmured.

Bucky smiled gently and nuzzled Steve’s temple.

“I’ll tell you all about it someday,” Bucky promised.

He had few good memories from his Special Forces days, but the ones that were good were hilarious. Bucky did want to share those with Steve. He didn’t mind sharing some of the bad ones too, one day, not soon.

Bucky grinned as Steve finally put aside his second plate of food and leaned back happily. He wrapped his arms around Steve’s shoulders and looked around the room – Sam and Nat hastily putting together a seating plan, Clint helping Peggy in the kitchen by washing the dishes while she got the cookies out of the oven. This was family was.

~

Steve stood nervously in front of the long mirror in one of Manhattan’s most prestigious tailors, wearing dark grey Tom Ford and feeling so wretchedly out of place as the Senior Tailor fussed about him with pins and chalk and a tape measure, huffing loudly at the fact that Steve was just so small and skinny.

He’d always hated looking in full-length mirrors for this exact reason – Steve felt like he disappeared when he turned sideways and that he looked like a stork, all stick-legs and neck. He sighed and looked over at Natasha who was sitting patiently a few feet away.

“There really isn’t any need to make a fuss over me you know,” he said meekly.

“What are you talking about?” Nat replied, crossing her arms over her chest. “It’s no fuss at all – you’re Sam’s best man and you deserve a decent damn suit. Besides, just imagine James’ face when he sees you in this. He’s not going to be able to stop drooling.”

That made Steve smile just a little. He was still standing there dressed in a ridiculously overpriced custom suit, hoping to God that he wouldn’t stuck with pins and bleed to death all over it. Natasha seemed to sense his unease and she shuffled her chair closer.

“Did I ever tell you the story about the messenger pigeons in Belarus?” she asked.

Steve shook his head.

“No,” he said. “It sounds like a Fight Club thing.”

“It is,” Natasha replied with a grin. “But it’s a good story about James.”

“Tell me,” Steve said, interested.

He could picture the story perfectly as Nat told it – a recon mission in Belarus, Bucky and Clint getting bored whilst waiting for Natasha to check the place out and getting into a competition over who was the best sharpshooter. Barton used a bow and Bucky used a rifle and between them they shot down fourteen birds until Nat arrived and had been horrified to find they had been shooting down US Armed Forces messenger pigeons carrying extraction orders for another team not too far away. She had dragged them both into the CO’s office the moment they returned and asked for special permission to beat them both into a pulp.

By the time she was finished, Steve was laughing and the Senior Tailor was very annoyed with him for moving around so much. Thankfully, the alterations were almost done and Steve only had to stand still for another five minutes before he was allowed to change out of the expensive suit and back into his own jeans and shirt.

It was late afternoon by this point and people were starting to finish work. Nat and Steve bought pretzels and ice-cold lemon tea and sat in the shade in Central Park, watching the people go by as they waited for the throng of city commuters to die down.

Steve was still smiling after hearing the messenger pigeon story, imagining very well the competition between Clint and Bucky that was still evident between them to this very day, but he couldn’t help thinking that funny moments like that one had been few and far between.

“Nat?”

“Hmm?”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” Natasha replied with a grin.

“The other weekend,” he began, “when Bucky and I were at Coney Island, we kinda ran into one of the guys he used to date.

“Which one?”

“Tyler.”

Natasha shrugged, as if the name meant nothing to her.

“What happened?” she asked.

“Well, I almost punched the guy out,” Steve replied with a rueful grin. Nat almost spat out her mouthful of tea.

“Oh my god, seriously?”

Steve nodded and Natasha cackled.

“He was a jackass,” Steve insisted.

“Oh, I have no doubt, judging by James’ track record,” she replied.

“Yeah…why does he do that?”

“What? Date jackasses?”

“Why does he feel that he’s not worthy of more than dating jackasses?”

Natasha looked at him carefully for a moment, taking a bite of her giant pretzel and taking a deliberate amount of time to chew it and swallow before answering.

“Fight Club.”

“That’s what Bucky said,” he replied immediately. “But that doesn’t explain it. It’s just an excuse not to talk about it.”

“It’s not an excuse,” sighed Nat. She sat for a second, chewing on her lower lip. “Okay, I’m going to break the first two rules of Fight Club, and just so you know, I was with Sam for a whole year before I told him any of this, so you have to give James some time before he’ll open up about it himself, okay?”

“Okay.”

Natasha took a long drink of her iced tea before speaking again.

“Do you know the difference between regular Armed Forces and Special Forces?”

“Not explicitly,” Steve replied quietly.

“In the Regulars, if you engage with the enemy, it’s usually in groups – a group of you against a group of them. You point your weapon, you shoot, you might kill somebody or your buddy might but there’s no definite way of telling half the time. In our Special, we engaged one-on-one. We’ve all killed people, Steve – me, James, Clint – and we’ve all seen their faces close up. James was a sniper with twenty six conformed kills. That means that he looked into his scope twenty six times and saw twenty six faces close up – he saw the colour of their eyes, he saw if they’d shaved that morning, he saw if they were laughing at some lame joke right before he put a bullet straight between their eyes.”

Steve looked at his feet, feeling slightly sick. He drew a shaky breath.

“That’s why he always went for assholes,” he said. “Because he thinks he’s a bad person, because…”

“He doesn’t think he should have good things because of all the bad he’s done,” Natasha confirmed. “Steve, he was eighteen when he went on his first mission, he was a kid. Barton and I tried to look after him as best we could and James was damn good at what he did, but he’s spent every day feeling guilty for doing his job. It was a horrible job, but we were all good at it and we served our country.”

“I thought you were Russian,” Steve joked feebly.

“I was nationalised as a kid,” she replied with a quirk of her lips. “What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that Barton and I came to terms with this years ago, but James is still struggling. He is a good person – he’s smart, he’s brave, he’s loyal, he’s compassionate. Unfortunately, he’s also under the impression that he has to redeem himself.”

Steve sighed heavily, part of him wishing that he’d never asked but at the same time, glad he had. Bucky was under the impression that he needed to be punished for taking twenty six lives in the service of the country. Maybe falling for and being rejected by guys like Tyler was his way of atoning for that.

Not any longer though, if Steve had his way.

He finished his tea in a long gulp and turned back to his friend who was still nibbling on her pretzel thoughtfully.

“If you don’t mind Nat,” he said quietly. “I’m going to go see Bucky. There’s something I really need to tell him.”

He stood up and dusted pretzel crumbs off himself, depositing the wrapper and the empty tea bottle in the trash. Natasha raised her eyebrows but if she was curious, she kept it to herself.

“Alright,” she replied simply. “I’ll see you later.”

~

Bucky hadn’t been home too long. August tended to be his busiest month with weddings – there was one every weekend and he spent the weekdays alternating between all the different bakeries and florists and caterers and venues and it was only his diligent note-taking and stuffed planner on his BlackBerry that stopped any disasters occurring.

He had stripped off his work attire the second the door had closed, slipping a t-shirt on with his boxers instead and headed to the fridge for a beer before he had to sit and go through some stuff for the next day. It was too hot to sit around the apartment, but there was nowhere else he could really go – it’s not like his apartment had a balcony.

Bucky was about to sit down when he heard a knock at the door and he frowned, leaving his beer on the counter before moving through the apartment to pull open the door.

Steve was standing on the other side, cheeks flushed from the heat, shirt-sleeves rolled up to his elbows, hair sticking up slightly with where he’d run his hand through it and he just looked damned gorgeous and the best darn surprise Bucky had ever had turn up on his doorstep in the middle of a working week.

“Hey!” Bucky said, his face splitting into a huge smile. “To what do I owe this absolute pleasure?”

Steve didn’t answer him, not verbally anyway. Instead, he stepped into Bucky’s apartment, his face serious and reached for him, hands going immediately to the back of Bucky’s neck to pull him down into the softest kiss Bucky had ever experienced, lips brushing gently against his as Steve’s fingers slid up and into his hair.

Bucky’s eyes widened in surprise but soon closed again as his hands settled on either side of Steve’s face, cupping it tenderly as he leaned in to the sweet kiss. Steve was here, in his apartment, unexpectedly and kissing him as though Bucky would break if he exerted more pressure. He forced himself back.

“Steve?” he whispered against those soft lips. “What is it? What’s the matter, sweetie?”

Steve looked up at him with his big blue eyes, framed with the most beautiful long eyelashes Bucky had ever seen.

“You’re a good person,” Steve murmured in reply.

Bucky’s heart began to beat fast.

“What?” he said, wondering what he’d done to bring this on himself.

“You’re a good person,” Steve repeated, pulling Bucky down so that their foreheads touched. “I know you don’t think it, and that you don’t think you deserve good things because of what went on in Special Forces, but you’re wrong. You are a good person James Buchanan Barnes, and I know that because I wouldn’t be in love with you if you were anything less than that.”

Bucky sucked in a breath. He felt light-headed and his legs felt weak, because he was pretty sure that he had correctly heard what Steve had just said, but some part of his brain was telling him he was wrong. This couldn’t be real.

“I’m sorry,” Bucky said softly. “Could you…maybe say that last bit again?

Steve closed his eyes lightly and smiled.

“I’m in love with you,” he repeated.

Bucky’s heart was hammering against his ribcage so loud that he was sure Steve could hear it. He stepped in as close as he could and slid his finger under Steve’s chin, raising his head to look into those gorgeous eyes.

“Can you say that just one more time?”

Steve’s smile grew as he stepped up on his toes and looked at Bucky through his eyelashes, fingertips lightly grazing over the back of Bucky’s neck.

“James Buchanan Barnes, I am in love with you.”

A tiny laugh escaped Bucky’s lips as he smiled.

“Oh that’s good,” he murmured. “Because I think I’ve been in love with you since the day you fed me that damn passion fruit crème wedding cake, and I’ve been feeling a little hopeless.”

Steve chuckled and kissed him again, more firmly than before.

“And you are a good person.”

“If you say so,” Bucky whispered in reply.

“You are,” Steve murmured, kissing him again.

“Okay…”

Bucky gathered Steve up in his arms, lifting him off his feet as he kissed him and Steve wrapped his legs around Bucky’s waist. He knocked the door closed with his foot and carried Steve to the couch, his hands supporting Steve’s weight by his thighs as Bucky lowered himself onto it.

They kissed through chuckles and sighs, slowly and sweetly, tongues touching on occasion. Bucky’s hands slid up and down Steve’s back over his shirt, just loving the fact that Steve was here and his and in love with him. Steve was in love with him. Bucky could hardly believe it was true, despite the fact that he’d got Steve to tell him three times.

Steve sighed happily in his arms and he stretched out over Bucky’s body, tucking his head under Bucky’s chin and hummed contentedly. Bucky smiled to himself as he wrapped an arm around Steve’s slight frame and ran his other hand softly through Steve’s straw-blond hair.

“You good?” Steve murmured.

“Are you kidding me?” Bucky replied, almost fit to burst with joy. “That’s the first time in my life somebody besides my sister has told me they love me. I’m fantastic.”

Steve reached up and kissed the underside of Bucky’s jaw softly.

“Me too,” he replied.

“Seriously?” Bucky asked, surprised. “Not even Peggy?”

“Peggy doesn’t count,” Steve chuckled, snuggling down again. “She’s family. Family doesn’t count.”

Bucky grinned and kissed the top of Steve’s head as he brushed back the soft hair. God, but he adored this boy, every single bit of him, and loved him even more for giving a screw up like Bucky a chance.

“I talked to Nat,” Steve said quietly after a few minutes. “About Fight Club.”

“Ah,” replied Bucky softly. “That explains quite a bit.”

“Please don’t be mad.”

Steve’s voice sounded so small and meek, so un-Steve-like that Bucky felt his heart ache and he pulled Steve a little closer.

“I’m not mad,” he replied. “How could I ever be mad at you? Or Natasha for that matter?”

“I dunno,” Steve sighed, running his hand over Bucky’s stomach. “I guess I understand now why it’s Fight Club.”

Bucky grinned and rubbed Steve’s back gently.

“Yeah well,” he replied. “I guess it explains Tyler as well, huh?”

Steve shifted in his arms and twisted around to look at him seriously.

“No more, okay?” he said. Bucky raised his eyebrows as Steve kissed him softly on the lips. “You’re a good person and you deserve somebody who’s gonna treat you right.”

“Are you volunteering?” Bucky murmured, his nose gently bumping into Steve’s cheek.

“I thought I already had,” Steve replied. “What with the whole admitting that I love you thing.”

Bucky laughed and kissed Steve again.

“I am absolutely yours,” he whispered.

“Yes, you are.”

"Do me a favour and remind me to smack Natasha over the head next time I see her," Bucky said.

Steve frowned.

"Why," he asked.

"Because," Bucky replied with a smile, "she’s known you for three years and it took her until now to introduce us. Unforgivable."

Chapter Text

“James, I’m not going to let you spend another Sunday snoozing on your couch. You have to get outside,” Natasha said over the phone, a couple of weeks into August.

Bucky had been ridiculously busy, seeing as everyone and their dog tended to get married in August, and he had worked six days a week, twelve hours a day except for the Saturdays which were more like eighteen hours because of the weddings he’d been overseeing. Steve had obviously told Natasha about the previous Sunday where he had taken the metro all the way to Manhattan only for Bucky to keep falling asleep on the couch while they watched old movies. Bucky had felt awful, because Sunday was the only day that they both had free, and he had spent most of it snoring instead of making the most of the time he had with his gorgeous new boyfriend.

Boyfriend.

Wow, but Bucky was still trying to get his head around that one two weeks later. The fact that Steve had unexpectedly turned up on Bucky’s doorstep and admitted that he was in love with him had honestly been the only thing getting Bucky through his Steve-less days.

However, he’d only managed to get six hours of sleep since getting home in the early hours from his second wedding that month when Natasha had called and told him to get his backside out of bed. Bucky hadn’t run on this little sleep since Special Forces.

“Fine,” he resigned. “Where are we going?”

He could almost hear Natasha grinning.

“The beach,” she replied. “Bring your fine ass, some beer, and a towel.”

Bucky rolled his eyes but found himself grabbing the beach essentials and heading to Coney Island anyway, picking up Clint on the way.

“So, you and Steve are like, official now?” Barton asked as he propped his feet up on the opposite seat on the metro.

Bucky smiled and ran his hand over his hair.

“Who told you?”

“Nat.”

“Of course.”

“So?” Clint pressed, nudging Bucky with his foot gently. “Are you?”

“Yeah, we are,” Bucky replied.

Clint made a small, indistinguishable noise and nodded slowly.

“What?”

“Nothin’” Barton replied.

Bucky raised an eyebrow.

“You’re not going to beat on me for this?”

“Why would I?” Clint replied, folding his arms across his chest and frowning.

“Er…because that’s what you usually do?”

Clint snorted.

“That’s because you keep dating the same assholes over and over again. Steve is the best thing to happen to you, possibly ever,” he said. “Don’t you dare fuck it up – it’s hard enough to find somebody to hold a decent sign language conversation without you scaring them away.”

Bucky grinned. Clint had almost ten years on him but he was still one of the best friends he’d ever had, despite his constant grousing and their antagonistic relationship. Barton was like his brother and it meant so much to Bucky to hear that Clint actually liked his boyfriend this time. Nobody could dislike Steve, as far as Bucky was concerned though. It was impossible.

~

Steve’s fair skin was completely covered in factor 50 as he sat on a beach towel in his t-shirt and shorts under a large parasol, sketchbook balanced on his knees as he watched the guys play a very aggressive game of Frisbee. That had asked if he’s wanted to join in, but honestly Steve was more than happy as an observer, seeing as he got to stay cool and unburned whilst watching Bucky, Sam and Clint – three very fine specimens of the male gender - running shirtless up and down on the beach.

Besides, Peggy would probably kill him if he accidentally got injured in what was possibly the roughest game of Frisbee ever played between three ex-armed forces guys.

Speaking of Peggy, she was lying on a beach towel with Natasha not too far away. Both were propped up on their elbows, chatting conspiratorially with their eyes hidden behind large dark sunglasses. They tended to do that a lot – nothing sinister of course, but Steve often got the feeling that the topic of their conversation was often him.

He turned back to his sketch book and continued with his study of Bucky’s torso until he was suddenly and rather rudely interrupted by Clint Barton dropping onto his beach towel.

“Bro!” Clint said loudly before quickly changing to sign language. “You have to help me with this plan I’ve got”

Barton explained his plan as quickly as he could and it set Steve chuckling.

“What are you two planning?” Peggy called to them.

“Nothing,” Steve replied. “We’re just going to go get some ice cream.”

Ice cream was the last thing the two were going to get. He followed Clint to one of the stalls selling beach essentials and they bought a couple of water pistols each, filling them up with water from where people washed the sand from their feet. They were exceptionally sneaky, walking back to the group with the pistols behind their backs, acting like nothing was happening. Nobody expected the attack.

Clint pulled his water pistols out and sprayed Peggy and Natasha with a deadly accurate aim, whereas Steve squirted water at Sam and Bucky. He got Bucky directly in the face.

“Hey, you little punk!” Bucky yelled, executing a perfect evasive manoeuvre and Steve’s next shot with the water pistol caught Sam directly in the belly button.

Steve laughed as Sam squealed, but he had to dodge out of Bucky’s way as he ran towards him, managing to knock a water pistol from Steve’s hand. And now it was even, Steve experiencing firsthand Bucky’s sharpshooting technique as a jet of water hit him right in his open mouth. Within minutes they were both drenched, Steve’s hair plastered to his head and water dripping into his eyes as Bucky caught up with him and scooped him up and dump-tackled him into the sand.

“You’re such a jerk!” Steve laughed, trying to wrestle his t-shirt back down where Bucky was pulling it up in order to blow raspberries on his exposed skin.

“You started it, you pay the price!” replied Bucky gleefully, chasing after a squirming Steve who was all elbows and sharp knees and surprisingly wriggly. Bucky only stopped when Steve was laughing so hard that he could barely breathe and had to be released in order to dig into his pocket for his inhaler. They both collapsed back on the sand just in time to watch Natasha catch up to Clint, who she’d been chasing after the whole time.

“YOU’LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE, ROMANOFF!” he screamed, right before Natasha brought him down with the kind of move that Steve had thought only existed in action movies – she flew through the air, legs wrapping around Barton’s shoulders before she twisted her body, taking him clean off his feet and face-first into the sand.

Bucky burst out laughing and Peggy started to applaud.

“And that was a classic Black Widow move,” he grinned, pushing his wet hair back from his face with both hands. “Not seen that one since Sarajevo!”

Steve chuckled as Clint begged for mercy, Natasha sitting on his back with his arms bent behind his back and a satisfied smile on her face.

“Damn,” said Sam, dropping onto the sand next to Steve and Bucky, looking definitely impressed. “That seriously should not turn me on as much as it does.”

Steve watched as Bucky clapped Sam heartily on the back.

“Pal, if you couldn’t handle a woman who could snap a guy’s neck using her thighs, you wouldn’t be marrying her in two weeks.”

“Damn right,” Sam replied, his face split into an enormous grin.

God, but Steve loved these people. They were more than his friends – they were his family and he was deeply grateful to have them, and absolutely honoured to be included, to be loved by every one of them.

~

A month of doing wedding cakes, was starting to take its toll on Steve. He’d made six in four weeks, and he’d done his usual thing of staying up until the early hours finishing the intricate piping on a couple of them. Overall, he’d had an easier month than Bucky, but still, he was starting to feel the tell-tale acid burn of an oncoming stomach ulcer and was taking all the medication he could to stave it off – he had to make it past Sam and Natasha’s wedding before he could slow down. He only had to last a couple more days.

He wanted their cake to be a masterpiece worthy of a Tsarevna and her consort, but Steve as usual wasn’t entirely sure he was getting it right. It was supposed to be three oval tiers of vanilla sponge, filled with sharp, tangy passion fruit crème. The icing was supposed to be the pale blue-green of a duck egg, with intricate piping around the edges – a scalloped wreath design in white, highlighted in gold and broken up with tiny ivory sugar pearls.

Steve’s vision of the cake had far surpassed what he had in front of him, and he had re-iced the cake twice because he was positive the colour wasn’t right. He still wasn’t sure about the third attempt but Peggy had threatened to cut off his fingers if he tried to re-ice it again. It still just didn’t look right though, and the burning sensation in Steve’s stomach was starting to get worse as the day went on.

~

Bucky was doing his absolute best not to kill somebody.

“For God’s sake, Mario,” he gritted to the hapless florist before him. “I asked for white azaleas, white roses and blue orchids. You’ve given me pink azaleas, white roses and lilac orchids. I can’t do anything with these, Mario! They are the wrong colours.”

The florist shrugged apologetically and began to reply when Bucky’s phone rang in his pocket. He sighed heavily and dug it out, hoping that it wasn’t anything else going wrong two days before Natasha and Sam’s big day. He motioned to Mario to give him a moment and answered the call.

“Hello?”

“I need you to come here immediately and drag Steve away from this bloody cake,” said Peggy on the other end, her voice positively dripping with anger, “before I stab him to death myself and save him from dying of exhaustion.”

Bucky pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger and sighed again.

“What has he done?”

“Well, he’s re-iced the cake twice today and wasted two perfectly decent lots of fondant because he was convinced the colour was off, when it’s absolutely perfect. He’s been popping antacids all day and I just know he’s about to give himself a stomach ulcer with the stress.”

“Okay,” Bucky replied, glancing at his sheepish florist. “Can you give me an hour? I’ll go home, collect my stuff for the weekend and I’ll come straight over after that. That way we can all just leave from yours in the morning and I can keep Steve pinned down if needs be.”

“Thank you,” Peggy said in relief. “I’d drag him away myself but I’m not quite strong enough, and Sam isn’t home to do it for me.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

He ended the call and took a deep breath, turning back to Mario.

“Alright, tell me straight – can you get me some white azaleas and blue orchids and have them delivered upstate by Saturday morning.”

The florist looked hunted but nodded slowly.

“I will do everything I can to make it happen.”

~

Just over an hour later, Bucky arrived at the bakery. Peggy looked furious.

“He’s not listening to me,” she said, the moment Bucky walked through the door, dropping his belongings to the ground. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with that cake at all, but he’s got it into his head that it’s not perfect and that’s apparently a great tragedy.”

Bucky gave her a small smile.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“Drag him away and carry him upstairs if you have to,” Peggy replied. “Just please get him to stop fussing and getting himself all stressed.”

She turned and headed back into the small office and Bucky ducked behind the counter to head into the kitchen. Steve was a sugary mess again, fussing with a piping bag full of rich white icing. Three separate oval tiers – large, medium and small – sat on the workbench in front of him and they were gorgeous. The colour of the icing exactly matched the colour of Peggy’s bridesmaid dress and the design, half piped icing, half hand-painted, was identical to the Gatchina Palace Faberge Egg that they had used for inspiration. In a very delicate stand next to the cakes, was an exact replica of the Egg made from marzipan.

“Wow,” he breathed. “That is amazing.”

Steve looked up from his piping bag and frowned.

“It’s not.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Bucky replied in disbelief. “That is the most perfect thing I’ve ever seen! That could be the actual Faberge Egg if I didn’t know any better.”

Steve frowned again.

“It’s just not right…” he muttered, narrowing his eyes at the cake.

Bucky sighed, suddenly understanding exactly why Peggy was frustrated with Steve.

“Look,” he said gently. “Maybe all you need is to take a break for a little while? Have a shower, something to eat, and then come back to it. You’ll see then that it’s amazing just as it is.”

“No,” Steve said shortly, still studying the cake with a frown.

“Alright,” Bucky replied with a heavy sigh. “I didn’t want to do this. I was hoping we could be reasonable, but obviously not. Just know you brought this on yourself.”

Steve glanced up at him sharply but had no time to react as Bucky effortlessly lifted him into the air and slung Steve over his right shoulder.

“Bucky, put me the fuck down!” he said angrily.

“No can do, Steve,” Bucky answered calmly, ignoring the sharp elbows digging into his back as Steve tried to worm his way back to his feet and failed spectacularly. “Peggy says that you’re about to make yourself ill and we can’t be having that.”

Steve protested all the way up the stairs, never ceasing his hammering on Bucky’s back until he was dumped unceremoniously on his couch. If looks could kill, Bucky would have been knocked stone dead by Steve’s glower.

“This isn’t fucking funny, Bucky,” he gritted. “I’m trying to sort this cake out…”

“There’s nothing to sort!” Bucky cut in. “Steve, that cake is perfect! It’s beautiful. It’s a god damned masterpiece and you’re the only person who can’t see it, and you’re going to give yourself a stomach ulcer just in time for Sam and Nat’s wedding, and then it won’t matter if the cake is perfect or not, because you’ll be too sick to be there and they are going to be heartbroken!”

He watched as Steve’s blue gaze slid from Bucky’s face to the floor at his feet. Bucky sighed again and knelt on the carpet before him, resting his hands gently on Steve’s bony knees.

“Trust me – they would much rather have you there with them, fit and healthy with an ever so slightly imperfect cake, than have a perfect cake and you not be there.”

Steve looked up at him, his face no longer holding anger, but tiredness instead.

“I guess you’re right,” he mumbled.

“Of course I’m right,” Bucky replied. “And you should have listened to Peggy an hour and a half ago when she told you to quit.”

Steve raised an eyebrow.

“What are you, my mom?”

“No,” Bucky grinned. “I’m your boyfriend – it’s my job to kick your ass when you’re being a punk.”

The corners of Steve’s mouth lifted slightly and he glanced away.

“My boyfriend, huh?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re a jerk,” Steve said, but he was really smiling now.

“You love me.”

“Yeah,” sighed Steve, slipping his hands into Bucky’s and squeezing the gently. “Unfortunately, I do.”

Bucky beamed at him and then lifted up on his knees, leaning forward to kiss Steve’s forehead.

“Come on,” he said. “You get in the shower and I’ll make you something to eat. And then we’ll go back and assemble that cake, because there is nothing else you can do to improve on perfection.”

Steve smiled.

“Okay,” he agreed quietly.

~

Steve really did hate to admit he was wrong. He’d been almost ready to drown both Peggy and Bucky in cake batter for trying to drag him away from the wedding cake, but standing under the warm spray of the shower, he realised they had been right – if he’d carried on any longer he would have made himself ill.

Clean and dried, he ate the cheese sandwich that Bucky had placed in front of him and took his pills like a good boy, chasing them with a good swig of antacid before going back down to the bakery. Peggy helped him assemble it – three tiers, one on top of the other, supported by gold columns in a step formation, the hand painted marzipan Faberge Egg balanced on the top in its little golden stand. Then all that was left to do was to pack it and store it until they travelled upstate the next day.

It took a couple of hours, but once it was done and he’d apologised to Peggy, Steve found himself mostly naked with Bucky curled up next to him, head resting lightly in the space between Steve’s chest and his shoulder whilst Steve ran his fingers through the soft coconut scented dark hair.

“I’m sorry I’m a stubborn ass at times,” he murmured.

“’s okay,” Bucky replied, running his hand gently across Steve’s slightly concave stomach. “I’m getting used to it.”

Steve grinned.

“I’m just a bit of a perfectionist that’s all,” Steve continued. “It’s like…when I meet people and get to know them, I start planning what kind of wedding cake I would make for them. I’ve been thinking about Natasha and Sam’s cake for a while and I just wanted it to be absolutely perfect.”

“You mentally plan your friends’ wedding cakes?” Bucky said, sounding amused.

“Don’t tell me you don’t mentally plan their weddings,” Steve replied.

“Busted!” Bucky chuckled.

Steve smiled and pressed a kiss into Bucky’s hair. He loved this – just lying with him, content and snugly. They were quiet for a minute before Steve spoke again.

“Can I ask a really weird question?”

“What’s that?” murmured Bucky.

“Do you ever mentally plan your own wedding?”

Bucky tilted his head so he could see Steve’s face, both his eyebrows.

“Not really,” he replied.

“Why not?”

Bucky smiled at him and settled back down against Steve’s shoulder, rubbing his hand gently over Steve’s exposed hip.

“Because I don’t want any of that,” he replied quietly. “I wouldn’t want a huge wedding with lots of people and flowers and cakes and expensive shit. I wanna wake up one morning and say ‘hey, let’s go and get married today’. No fuss, y’know. Just jump on a plane and head to Vegas and get married with my hair full of glitter and a pink flamingo under my arm - just me and the person I want to be with for the rest of my life.”

Steve chuckled.

“That sounds like fun.”

“Is that not what it’s meant to be?” Bucky asked happily, gently nuzzling into Steve’s shoulder.

“Yeah,” agreed Steve with a grin. “I’m really looking forward to the weekend. Nat and Sam are just perfect for each other – it’s going to be great.”

“Yes it is,” Bucky replied. “It’s all going to be amazing.”

"You do realise," Steve said lightly, "that I’m planning on having sex with you a lot over the weekend, right?"

"Oh really?"

Bucky sounded like he was grinning.

"Yes," Steve grinned back. "I have fond memories of that hotel already and I definitely want to make more."

"Well then in that case," said Bucky innocently, "who am I to stop you?"

Chapter Text

Bucky’s back hit the sumptuous hotel bed and he bounced lightly, grinning as Steve flopped down beside him.

“We finally made it,” Bucky sighed, stretching out luxuriously. “I thought we’d never get here.”

“Well that wasn’t my fault,” smirked Steve. “Peggy was the one driving.”

“Yeah, but you were supposed to be reading the map!”

Steve laughed and rolled over onto his side to kiss Bucky softly on the cheek and Bucky swiftly gathered Steve’s skinny little body up in his arms, pulling him in to kiss him properly, hands feathering through straw-blond hair.

Bucky was quickly getting used to this. That morning he had woken up to the smell of frying bacon and Steve in his t-shirt and boxers pottering quietly around the kitchen, making Bucky breakfast. Nobody had ever made him breakfast before, and it was wonderful.

Afterwards, they had packed up the bakery van with the cake and everybody’s wedding outfits and Bucky had climbed in with Steve and Peggy while Natasha, Sam and Clint followed behind them in the car. It had taken longer to get to the hotel because they had turned off onto the wrong road, which hadn’t happened when Bucky had driven up with Steve a few weeks earlier – they’d had a Sat Nav in their rental car.

They had all finally arrived, late, with ruffled feathers and decided to take their belongings to their rooms and recover for a few minutes before getting down to business. Although Bucky had to admit, he’d rather get down to a different kind of business with Steve than do wedding stuff.

Steve nipped Bucky’s bottom lip gently and smiled, nudging Bucky’s nose with his own.

“You know,” he murmured, lips barely grazing Bucky’s. “I really want to do all kinds of things to you in this bed.”

Bucky chuckled lightly.

“What is it about this hotel that turns you into such a tiger?”

“I dunno,” Steve replied with a grin. “I think it’s less the hotel and more the thought of you completely naked on this delightfully comfortable king-sized bed, moaning underneath me.”

Bucky’s breath hitched and a loud groan escaped his mouth.

“You’re killing me here, Stevie,” he grumbled, hand sliding firmly down Steve’s side.

Steve only chuckled in response, reaching in the extra millimetre to take Bucky’s bottom lip between his teeth again.

Bucky could feel the heat coiling in his belly already, his pants feeling tighter by the second. He wondered if they had the time to…

“Boys?” Peggy called from the other side of the door, knocking gently. “Natasha and Sam have arrived. Are you ready to go downstairs?”

Bucky groaned again as Steve rolled away from him easily and off the edge of the bed.

“To be continued,” he whispered, his expression anything but innocent as he walked backwards to the door.

“You’re a monster,” Bucky hissed in reply.

Steve grinned and pulled open the door to Peggy.

“Yep,” Steve said to her. “All ready to go here!”

Bucky rolled onto his back and took a couple of deep breaths, willing his half-hard dick back into softness, and rolled off the bed before Peggy could catch on.

God, he had no idea how Steve could get him so easily turned on but he loved it.

~

“What do you think, Duchess?”Bucky asked, beaming proudly as Natasha walked across the extensive lawn towards him.

“I think it’s beautiful,” she replied, running the last few steps and throwing her arms around his neck.

He smiled and hugged her tightly. Bucky had always adored Natasha, even when she had been his commanding officer. She was nothing short of a genius, snarky and beautiful and deadly, and quite frankly one of his favourite people ever. Bucky was thrilled that she loved the venue he had chosen for her wedding.

“Good,” he said. “I didn’t go too overboard on the Russian thing, did I?”

Natasha released him and grinned.

“No. I love the Russian thing. And the ducks! Were the ducks included?”

“No, I had to ship them in specially,” Bucky replied. “These specific ducks come all the way from the Urals – they had to have their own passports and everything!”

Natasha slapped him on the arm and he hissed before grinning at her.

“I’ve never said thank you,” Nat said softly. “I know we must have been nightmare clients, putting absolutely nothing into this and making you do all the work…”

“I had a little help,” Bucky interjected. “Steve helped me pick the menu for the reception.”

“And I’ll have to thank Steve for that,” she said, “but really James, you’ve done so much over the last three months and I know that Sam and I would never have found such an amazing place to hold our wedding, never mind do everything else. I meant it when I said we were clueless about this kind of thing.”

“Honestly Princess, it’s fine,” Bucky replied, grinning at her. “You’re my friend and you hired me to do this for you. It’s seriously been my pleasure.”

“Well, I guess you got a few perks,” Nat smirked at him.

He laughed and glanced over to where Steve was chatting to Sam on the terrace, pointing out all the beautiful woodwork on the outside of the building.

“Yeah, I don’t usually get a gorgeous boyfriend out of the deal.”

Natasha leaned in and lowered her voice.

“Just wait till you see him all dressed up tomorrow.”

Bucky raised an eyebrow as his eyes slid back to her.

“You know something I don’t?”

“Oh yeah,” she replied, linking her arm through his. “Now come on – we’ve got a wedding to rehearse.”

~

Steve had barely been able to tear his eyes away from Bucky all day. From the minute he’d rolled out of Steve’s bed that morning and eaten breakfast in his boxers, Steve had wanted nothing more than to jump him. Unfortunately, there just hadn’t been any time, which was a damn shame because Bucky looked damned cute still half-asleep with his hair all messed up and the biggest grin on his face as he’d walked up to Steve and wrapped his arms around his waist, laying his forehead gently against Steve’s hair for just a moment while breakfast was finishing up.

Then Steve had gone and had the brilliant idea of teasing Bucky when they had first arrived, biting at his bottom lip and telling Bucky how much he wanted to screw him on that hotel bed. Steve had been playful and cool up until the point where they had walked out of the room and then he’d been struck hard with just how sexually frustrated he actually was.

It had been a lean month for sex – Bucky had been working flat out for the whole of August and Steve’s schedule hadn’t been that much lighter. Whenever they had managed to find time alone together, one or both of them had just been too exhausted to exert energy for anything more strenuous than kissing.

Steve had spent a lot of time wondering what it was about Bucky that had changed his attitude towards sex – it had never seemed that important before, even though it had been nice with his two previous sexual partners. He just never missed it when he didn’t have it, and then Bucky had shown up out of nowhere and had Steve’s heart racing within moments of meeting – Bucky Barnes with his blue eyes and his gorgeous smile and his charm…and the way that he’d let Steve do whatever he’d wanted with him that first time.

Ever since then, Steve had wanted nothing more than to get Bucky naked and back into bed with him, to touch him, taste him, hear him moan and curse and shout Steve’s name as he came. Everything about the man was magnetic and Steve couldn’t get enough, no matter how hard he tried to suppress it. A whole month being able to have Bucky mostly naked in his bed and not being able to do anything about it had him wound up so tight that Steve felt he could snap at any moment and just shove Bucky up against a wall, push him to his knees and thrust his hands into that soft dark hair as he thrust his cock between those sinfully full lips in full view of everybody. At this point he wouldn’t have cared about the public indecency.

Bucky was just so unaware of what he did to Steve. He was in his element here on the vast expanse of lush green lawn, running through the whole wedding service with Natasha and Sam whilst Steve sat and watched with Peggy by his side. Bucky didn’t realise how Steve’s heart fluttered when he smiled and his blue eyes crinkled delightfully at the corners. Bucky didn’t realise that, when he rubbed the back of his neck when he was thinking, all Steve wanted to do was kiss it, and when Bucky talked using his hands, Steve wanted to pin those hands down over Bucky’s head as he stretched out over that gorgeously toned body.

Shifting uncomfortably in his seat, Steve tore his eyes away and fixed them on the cue cards that held his Best Man’s speech, gnawing at his bottom lip.

“Are you alright?” Peggy asked, leaning in on Steve’s hearing impaired side so that he could see her face.

He glanced up and gave a tight smile.

“I’m fine,” he murmured.

“You’ll do fine, you know,” she said, indicating the cue cards in his hand.

Steve nodded, glad that his best friend was reading his discomfort as anxiety instead of sexual frustration. He only lasted a few more minutes before he had to get up and move away, heading into the hotel’s kitchens to check on the cake which was in storage and waiting to be set up in the morning. Steve was just desperate to occupy his mind and hands with anything that didn’t involve his boyfriend. It worked for a while, pottering around, touching up the piping and using his emergency kit to add a few little hand-painted swirls and dots to the icing, but all too soon Peggy was summoning him back outside for dinner on the terrace.

Everyone else was in high spirits and the wine flowed freely as they ate and chatted, Steve playing absently with his napkin to stop his hands from wandering underneath the table and into Bucky’s lap.

“So could you technically use a bread roll as a ballistic missile?” Sam was asking jokingly.

“Oh sure you could,” replied Clint. “If you can calculate the weight and density of the object, then factor in wind strength and direction and the distance it needs to travel and apply a strong enough force, then you could quite easily kill somebody with a bread roll.”

“Trust you to know that,” Peggy said with a grin.

“Ah,” Bucky interjected, “but you can’t really do hand-to-hand with a bread roll.”

“No, you’d probably need a stale croissant to do some up-close and personal damage,” Nat agreed.

“Didn’t you do that once?” said Clint. “In Budapest?”

Bucky sat up in his seat.

“Oh, this one must have been before my time!”

“It was,” replied Natasha with a smirk. “And it was Clint that I almost killed with a croissant from one of the MREs.”

“Ewwwww!,” Sam declared, screwing his face up in disgust. “Those things are nasty.”

Peggy frowned slightly.

“MREs?” she asked.

“Military field rations,” Bucky clarified for her. “Individually packaged and totally disgusting. Only to be eaten if you’re actually starving to death.”

“You know,” Clint cut in, looking keenly at Natasha. “I seem to remember something involving crackers in Budapest…”

“Yeah, when the croissant didn’t kill you, I used the crackers as throwing stars!”

Everyone laughed except Steve who was too busy trying to concentrate on the napkin under his fingers to steer his mind away from how gorgeous Bucky smelled as he sat beside him. Unfortunately Bucky noticed and slip his hand gently over Steve’s.

“You alright, sweetie?”

Steve lifted his head and nodded. Everyone at the table was still talking about baked goods as weaponry, but Bucky was focussed on him now, eyes full of concern.

“I’m fine,” he murmured, leaning in to get as close to Bucky’s ear as possible. “I’ve just been trying all day not to think about you naked on that bed upstairs and I’m starting to lose the fight.”

He heard Bucky’s breath catch and Steve grinned to himself as he watched his boyfriend squirm slightly.

“Do you wanna go upstairs?” Bucky whispered back.

Steve stole a quick glance around the table – their hushed conversation was going largely unnoticed.

“Follow me upstairs in five minutes.”

He squeezed Bucky’s hand briefly before pushing back his chair and excusing himself to the others quietly. As he walked towards the hotel, he heard Peggy tell the others that Steve had been feeling a little stressed over his speech, and not to worry. He grinned – that would make it easier for Bucky to get away, under the pretence of checking that Steve was okay. Nobody would care if they didn’t come back to the table afterwards.

~

Five whole minutes was agonizing when you were waiting to get laid, and Bucky took all of that time to make his way from the dinner table to knock on the door to their room. The minute Steve opened the door, he reached out and grabbed the front of Bucky’s shirt, dragging him inside and pushing him roughly up against the wood as it slammed shut behind him. Steve pressed his body flush against Bucky’s, a bony knee pushing its way between his thighs as Steve looked at him hotly through his eyelashes.

“I remember the last time you slammed me up against a door,” Bucky said, his breathing too fast.

“Yeah?” Steve murmured, long delicate fingers sliding under the hem of Bucky’s shirt. “As I recall, you got royally fucked that night.”

“Am I going to get royally fucked again?” Bucky asked hopefully, blue eyes big and dark, his hands running firmly up Steve’s back.

Steve grinned wickedly.

“I should say so…”

Bucky moaned as Steve pulled him down into a kiss, all hard and demanding and reminiscent of the first time they did this, where Steve had fucked Bucky raw on the long pile rug in his living room. His tongue pushed insistently into Bucky’s mouth as his fingers made short work of Bucky’s shirt buttons.

It was a mad scramble to get naked, no grace or finesse as they all but tore the clothes from each other, shoes flying across the room as they kicked them off, elbows snagging in sleeves, toes catching in the legs of pants. Bucky laughed, stumbling forward into Steve’s smaller body as his underwear was pulled down and Steve outright giggled as he dragged Bucky up onto the bed with him, pushing him flat against the pillows.

Bucky groaned loudly, hands grasping large handfuls of Steve’s hair as he immediately went for Bucky’s neck, nipping softly at the skin there.

“Don’t leave any marks there, Stevie,” he muttered, still turning his head to let Steve get easier access as though it were second nature. “Nat will kill us if I turn up to her wedding sporting a visible hickey.”

“Then I’m gonna have to leave them where they don’t show,” Steve replied, mouthing his way down to Bucky’s collarbone, and starting to suck gently at it.

He loved the way Bucky softly whined, how his body arched off the bed and his fingers tightened in Steve’s hair.

“Fuck, Steve,” Bucky gasped. “I’m not complaining, but what’s got into you today?”

Steve let the skin of Bucky’s collarbone go, drawing back and delighting at the round purple mark he’d made, glistening with his saliva.

“Just the fact that I’ve not been able to get into YOU for the past month,” Steve replied.

Bucky bit his lip.

“Christ, if I’d realised you wanted to fuck me that badly…”

“Hmm…’s okay,” Steve murmured, moving down Bucky’s chest, nipping gently as he went. “It just means that I get to screw you today until you’re absolutely wrecked.”

He bit down hard over Bucky’s left pectoral and grinned as Bucky’s back arched again, eyes flying wide open as he hissed in pain.

“Shit…do that again…”

Steve chuckled, moving slowly down Bucky’s body, leaving bite marks everywhere before kissing over them softly, soothingly, working over Bucky’s stomach and across his thighs. He loved the noises that came out of Bucky’s mouth, soft whimpers and sharp gasps, and more so he loved the way that Bucky’s fingernails dug into his scalp. Steve could take a little rough handling – in fact he was beginning to love it. Everyone seemed to treat him like he was going to break, but not Bucky. Bucky wasn’t afraid to jostle him about or throw him down on a bed, and Steve was starting to wonder how much he’d like it if Bucky ever held his head down and choked Steve on his cock.

Just the thought of that made him groan and his mouth water, and Steve immediately felt the burning need to get his lips wrapped around that hard flesh as soon as possible. Shuffling up from Bucky’s thighs, Steve buried his nose into the coarse thatch of hair at the base and breathed in deeply, delighting in the heady musk scent before licking a wet stripe up the underside.

“Fuck yes…” Bucky gritted out, his fingers tightening further in Steve’s hair, making his eyes water.

Steve hissed, squeezing his eyes shut as he enjoyed the sting, heat pooling deliciously between his legs. Unfortunately, Bucky took the reaction the wrong way and his fingers unwound immediately.

“No…” Steve mumbled, grasping at Bucky’s wrists and pulling his hands back towards his hair. “Keep doing that.”

“I didn’t hurt you?” Bucky breathed, a margin of concern in his blue eyes as he looked down the length of his torso at Steve resting on his elbows and knees between Bucky’s thighs.

“Nuh uh,” he replied, closing his eyes lightly as he mouthed up the length of Bucky’s cock and slowly back down again. “I like it.”

That was thankfully all the encouragement Bucky needed, because the moment Steve wrapped his lips around the swollen head, Bucky’s fingers were back in Steve’s hair, flexing and pulling and making Steve moan.

He might not have had full penetrative sex very many times in his life, but Steve most definitely had experience with blow jobs. If he was going to be honest with himself, he absolutely loved having a dick in his mouth, feeling the swollen hot flesh heavy against his tongue as he swallowed it down. Bucky wasn’t exceptionally long, but he was deliciously thick and Steve’s lips had to stretch wide to fit Bucky in his mouth.

Bucky couldn’t seem to stop his hips from moving up, pushing into Steve’s mouth as he sucked, so Steve ceased moving his head and allowed Bucky to just fuck his mouth for a little while, saliva dripping down the sides of Bucky’s cock. Bucky’s fingers pulled hard on his hair and God, Steve loved it, loved when the tip hit the back of his throat at triggered his gag reflex for just a second, and he seriously loved how damned lost in the whole thing Bucky was. He looked gorgeous, head thrown back on the pillow, exposing the throat that Steve had nipped and kissed and licked on his way down here, hips canting upwards, chest heaving. Steve had waited a whole damn month to get him here like this, and it was just heaven.

~

If Bucky had thought that the feel of Steve’s mouth around his dick had felt amazing, the sensation doubled when Steve slicked up his index finger and pushed it slowly inside of him. Bucky heard himself cry out over the blood rushing in his ears and tried hard not to push up too far, too hard into Steve’s beautiful, hot, wet mouth.

He didn’t move slowly and Bucky wouldn’t have wanted him too, already so worked up with Steve’s biting and the frankly amazing blow job he was receiving. Steve could work him open as fast or as hard as he wanted and Bucky would love every second, begging for more. And he did beg – he couldn’t help it.

“Fuck me. Please Stevie, I need it now…” he said breathlessly, trying to pull Steve up and off him.

Steve’s lips left his flesh with an obscene pop, those beautiful blue eyes looking hotly at him as he crawled up the length of Bucky’s body. Slicked fingers slid out of him slowly as trailed up Bucky’s hip and chest and finally buried themselves in Bucky’s hair as Steve’s face levelled with his.

“What?” Steve rasped. “Right now?”

“Yes, right now.”

“You don’t want me to play with you a little more?”

“Steve…” Bucky groaned, clawing desperately at the backs of Steve’s thighs in an attempt to pull him closer.

Steve chuckled deep in his throat and the sound sent lightning through Bucky’s lower belly.

“Because you don’t really want to sound desperate, do you…?”

“Steven Grant Rogers, I swear to God, if you don’t slick yourself up and fuck me right now, I am getting up and walking out of here to find somebody who will.”

Steve growled and crushed his mouth against Bucky’s, kissing him possessively as he firmly grasped hold of Bucky’s wrists and pinned his arms up on the pillow by his head with the strength that surprised Bucky every time.

“Not a chance, Barnes,” he whispered against Bucky’s lips.

It took a painfully long minute for Steve to get the condom out of its packet and rolled on before he could slick himself up. Bucky’s entire body throbbed impatiently, fists bunching up in the pillow behind his head until Steve’s weight was back over him, beautiful long-fingered hands pushing Bucky’s thighs up to his chest as he slid in swiftly and easily.

“FUCK!”

Bucky adored being filled up fast, the shockwaves it sent through his body to from nothing to everything all at once. Steve’s mouth found his ear as his hips started to move, pushing forward and pulling back at a moderate pace that made Bucky start panting within seconds. He wrapped his ankles around the small, bony back which tilted his hips upwards to take Steve at a deeper angle and smiled when he heard Steve moan.

“God Bucky, you feel so fucking good,” Steve breathed in his ear.

Heat flashed through his belly again. Listening to Steve swear was like hearing an angel curse – beautiful and yet completely obscene. He loved it.

“You too,” he managed, burying his hands in Steve’s straw-blond hair. “I forgot just how amazing it feels to have you inside me.”

“Then I’m just going to have to remind you, aren’t I?” Steve replied, one hand leaving Bucky’s hair to grip his chin and pull his face around so that he was looking directly into Steve’s eyes.

Moans and cries spilled unchecked from Bucky’s lips as Steve pounded him, hips snapping against him hard and fast and loud. Their eyes were locked, Bucky unable and unwilling to tear his gaze away because Steve was beautiful like this – flushed a deep rose over his face and chest, blue eyes almost black, blond hair falling forward into his eyes and sticking to his temples with sweat, and faint groans escaping past that sinful mouth.

He could have stayed like that forever with Steve moving inside him so effortlessly, but he could feel Steve’s rhythm begin to falter, watched as he squeezed his eyes shut and dropped his head, breathing hard and Bucky knew that Steve was trying to fight off his need to come.

“You’re close, baby?” he murmured, reaching up to push Steve’s sweat-soaked hair back from his forehead.

“Yeah…”

Bucky bit his bottom lip and slid his other hand down his body, wrapping it tightly around his cock and starting to stroke it quickly from base to tip.

“Don’t fight it,” he gasped, sliding the hand it Steve’s hair down to the back of his neck and pulling him close.

Steve opened his eyes and they met Bucky’s again, and then suddenly Steve went rigid, mouth open in a perfect ‘o’ as he gasped and started to tremble, his fingers tightening so hard in Bucky’s hair that it made his eyes sting. He could feel Steve pulsing inside of him but it was the whispered ‘Bucky’ that sent him over the edge, Steve’s voice so small and wrecked in his ear as he fell forwards onto Bucky’s chest, back bowed and lips against Bucky’s ear.

His orgasm rushed through him, white and hot and long, painting his stomach with warm sticky streaks as he buried his cry into the space between Steve’s neck and shoulder.

It took a moment before they could move and disentangle, both of them still panting hard as Steve curled his body to the side, his legs sliding onto the mattress. Bucky shakily pushed his own hair back from his face, damp with sweat and hugged Steve’s small frame to him, hearing a slight wheeze in his chest.

“Sweetie…”

“I know,” Steve mumbled. “Gimme a minute.”

Bucky nodded, pressing a kiss to the top of Steve’s head and slowly rubbing his skinny back. Steve nuzzled into his neck gently and Bucky let him lie there, happy that the wheeze wasn’t getting any worse as the minutes ticked by. Eventually, as his own semen began to dry on his belly, Bucky slid out of bed to clean himself off and fetch Steve’s inhaler himself.

“Come on,” he said, fishing the inhaler out of Steve’s pants and tossing it onto the bed. “Take your medicine before you have a full-blown asthma attack.

Steve groaned, but Bucky saw his hand reach out for the small plastic device and he grinned as he wandered into the bathroom to wipe himself down with a damp cloth. Steve was sitting up when he came back into the room, no longer wheezing and tying off the condom they had used. Bucky tossed him the damp cloth and crawled back onto the bed, collapsing onto his belly next to his boyfriend.

“Got all that pent up frustration out of your system now, Rogers?”

Steve grinned, dropping the cloth on the floor before curling up onto his side, and pressing a soft kiss onto Bucky’s bicep.

“For now,” Steve murmured in reply. “Do you think the others will have figured out what we’re up to by now?”

Bucky started to laugh.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Natasha would have figured it out the moment I left the table.”

Steve groaned and shuffled closer, draping his leg over the back of Bucky’s calf.

“That’s a shame. I’m still starving, but I don’t think I could put up with their teasing if I went back down to dinner.”

“Do you want me to get the staff to bring you up a sandwich?”

“Yeah,” Steve replied, pulling Bucky in to kiss him. “Get me a sammich, boyfriend!”

Bucky laughed loudly and turned onto his side, wrapping both of his arms tightly around Steve and nuzzling into his neck.

“You’re a monster.”

“Yeah, but you love me.” Steve retorted, happily snuggling against his chest.

“Yeah,” Bucky said, smiling to himself. “I do love you.”

Chapter Text

Steve was surprised at himself for not waking up when Bucky’s alarm went off. He was vaguely aware of the sound, and also of a hand running over his hair and a soft kiss on his cheek, but he could quite easily have dreamed it. However, what was definitely real, was Bucky gently shaking him awake by the shoulder.

“Stevie?” Bucky murmured. “Baby?”

“Hmm…?” Steve groaned, turning his head towards Bucky’s voice and forcing his eyes open a tiny bit.

Bucky was leaning over him wearing t-shirt and underwear and balancing a tray on the edge of the bed.

“Mornin’. I brought you breakfast.”

Steve smiled as he forced himself into a sitting position on the bed. He was still completely naked from the night before, only the sheet covering him up as Bucky slid the tray onto Steve’s lap.

“What’s this for?” he asked, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

“Because I love you,” Bucky replied, leaning over to give Steve the smallest kiss on the lips.

Steve felt his heart soar and knew that his face was displaying the most embarrassingly sappy smile. He didn’t care.

Bucky smiled at him.

“Eat up. I’m gonna go get ready.”

He disappeared into the bathroom and Steve watched him before turning to the tray – it was packed with toast and meat and cheese and eggs, with a cup of really strong coffee and a glass of orange juice so that Steve could take his daily concoction of medication.

God, but Steve Rogers was completely in love with Bucky Barnes. The man was damn near perfect and so fucking sweet to have got up early just to fetch Steve breakfast and bring it to him in bed.

By the time he had finished eating, Bucky had showered and shaved and was back to put on one of his expensive, beautifully tailored suits. Steve sat on the edge of the bed and watched him.

“I’m sorry I’m having to bail on you so early,” Bucky said, fastening his tie.

“It’s okay,” Steve replied with a smile.

“I mean,” Bucky continued as though he’d never heard Steve, “It’s just that I have to go make sure everything is ready and that people know what they’re doing and…”

“Bucky!” Steve interrupted, laughing. “I said it’s fine. I understand.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Steve slipped off the bed and walked over, still nude, and wrapped his arms around his boyfriend’s waist.

“You okay with your speech?” Bucky asked, running both of his hands through Steve’s hair as he looked down on him.

Steve loved it when he did that.

“Yeah,” he replied. “I’ve got my cue cards, I’ll be fine. If I get nervous, I’ll just look at your pretty face.”

Bucky grinned before leaning down to kiss Steve thoroughly, hands sliding down his bare sides and pulling Steve flush against him. Steve could honestly have just dragged Bucky back to bed, but he couldn’t. It was Natasha and Sam’s wedding day and Bucky had a job to do, so after a few minutes, Steve had to pull away.

“I’ll see you later,” he told Bucky as he left Steve to get ready.

At first he just slipped on jeans and a shirt and went down to get the cake out of storage. Steve knew Peggy wouldn’t be able to help him that morning, so he asked one of the chefs to help him to carefully move the boxes of cake tiers into the ballroom so that he could assemble it.

Steve was glad that Bucky and Peggy had forced him to stop working on it when they did – if he’d tried to perfect it any more, he knew he would have just ruined it. Right now, it was wonderful the way it was and his only regret was not being able to see the green tint to the pale blue fondant, or the gold of the hand-painted swirls and dots that he had spent so much time doing.

It didn’t take him too long to erect the tiers onto their little gold pillars, and to balance the perfect marzipan replica of the Gatchina Palace Faberge Egg on its little stand atop of the first layer. Steve was exceptionally proud of that little egg.

He couldn’t wait for Natasha and Sam to see it.

~

Bucky’s morning had been hectic.

The first thing he’d had to do was meet the girl he’d hired to do Nat and Peggy’s hair and makeup. He’d hired Connie several times in the past and knew her well – she was great at her job and a seriously sweet girl to boot. He barely had time to knock on the door to Natasha’s room and say hi before his phone was ringing and he had to leave to see Mario who had turned up with the flowers.

The staff of the Blue House were excellent, following Bucky’s direction without attitude as they put out chairs on the lawn by the lake for the wedding service and set out the tables for the wedding breakfast.

Mario had thankfully acquired the iridescent blue orchids Bucky had requested earlier in the week and they made a beautiful show with the white roses and azaleas against the Imperial Blue backdrop of the hotel.

The service was at midday and before Bucky could even guess where the time had gone, guests were beginning to show up and take their seats and Bucky had to go and collect Nat.

“Wow,” he said, letting out a low whistle as Peggy opened the door and let him in.

“Good?” Natasha asked, doing a small twirl in the middle of the bedroom floor.

The dress she had chosen was ivory lace over chiffon, v-necked with capped sleeves, mermaid tail bottom and an ivory sash at the waist with a rhinestone buckle. Her copper hair had been curled and pinned loosely on her head, secured with rhinestone pins and her makeup brought out the fierce green of her eyes.

“You look absolutely stunning,” he replied, wrapping his arms around her tightly. “I’ve never seen a more beautiful bride in my whole life.”

Bucky could feel his eyes starting to well up. Natasha – his Natasha – was about to get married and this was about the biggest, best thing that could ever happen. He adored Nat. He always had and they’d been through so much together. Natasha Romanoff deserved every happiness in the world, and he would kill Sam Wilson with his bare hands if he fucked this up for her. Not that Sam ever would – you’d have to be an imbecile not to notice that he worshipped the ground Natasha walked on.

A sharp rap on the door signalled Clint’s arrival and as Peggy opened the door for him, Bucky squeezed his friend’s hands tightly.

“You ready for this, Duchess?”

“As I’ll ever be,” Nat replied.

~

Steve slid his hand into his suit jacket pocket for the tenth time in two minutes to make sure he definitely had the rings. They were definitely there.

Beside him, Sam was taking several deep breaths with his eyes shut and Steve had to give his arm a comforting squeeze.

“You’ll do fine,’ Steve murmured as his friend opened his eyes and looked down at him.

Sam nodded.

“Yeah,” he replied. “I’m just kinda marrying the love of my life, y’know.”

“Yeah…” Steve said as he spotted Bucky heading out of the open French doors to the ballroom and start across the lawns towards them and the seated guests. “I know.”

He could only imagine that Sam’s heart was beating even faster than his, because the love of Steve’s damn life was coming down that aisle, looking damn stunning and staring at Steve in wonder…and they weren’t even getting married.

As much as Steve had made a fuss over Natasha buying him an expensive tailored suit, the minute he had put it on, Steve had felt like a million bucks. He’d never had anything fit him so perfectly in his life, and the tailoring was so perfect that, instead of looking painfully skinny as usual, Steve’s body actually looked lean instead. It was a marvel and one that did not go unnoticed by his boyfriend.

“Holy cow…” breathed Bucky as he reached them, looking Steve over from head to toe and back again.

Steve smiled and looked at the ground, feeling the colour rise to his cheeks.

“Will I do?”

“Are you kidding?” Bucky replied, sliding a hand around Steve’s waist and leaning in to kiss his cheek. “You look completely gorgeous.”

“Hey, hey!” Sam interrupted with a grin. “No hanky panky at my wedding, alright? At least not until I’m actually married, then you can knock yourselves out.”

Steve grinned as Bucky laughed and shook Sam’s hand before moving away to sit down.

Seconds later, a beautiful classical piece that Steve would later learn was ‘White Night’ by Ludovico Einaudi, began to play and the congregation stood as Peggy appeared on the terrace, her dark hair pinned up in loose curls and her shoulders bare in a pale silk dress that hugged every curve, carrying a small bouquet as she walked just ahead of Natasha who was being escorted down the aisle by Clint Barton.

She was a beautiful bride, and she looked so happy as Clint kissed her tenderly on the cheek and went to sit down, leaving Sam to look like the happiest and luckiest man alive.

It was only when the guests sat down again for the service that Steve realised that Bucky hadn’t once taken his eyes off him.

~

The service was short but incredibly sweet, full of giggles and bits that made Steve tear up a little, but at least he didn’t mess up and drop the rings. The second it was over, a huge cheer erupted over the crowd that was mostly made up of Sam’s family with a few of Natasha’s people from work and everyone laughed as Natasha allowed Sam to pick her up and carry her to the terrace where a champagne reception was being served.

“So, what are you going to do with your last names?” Steve asked as Nat hugged him tightly before accepting a glass of champagne from a waiter.

“I don’t know,” she replied, blinking innocently up at her husband. “What do you think, Airman?”

“Princess, I will happily be a full Romanoff if that’s what you want,” Sam replied, hand over his heart.

Steve smiled, knowing damn well that Sam would do it too. Natasha beamed at him.

“Good answer, hubby,” she said. “I think Wilson-Romanoff is good though.”

He laughed and took a sip of his champagne before looking over the throng of people on the terrace, searching for his boyfriend.

“He’s inside,” Peggy said, coming up behind his right shoulder. “Making sure that everything is set up for the wedding breakfast.”

“Ah,” Steve replied, feeling a little disappointed.

He’d seen Bucky for the grand total of five minutes that day and he was seriously missing him. Steve hadn’t quite realised just how involved Bucky would have to be in this wedding, and that it would take up most of his time.

“Don’t worry,” Peggy told him kindly. “Once the dinner is sorted, he’ll be all yours again.”

~

Bucky had set the tables up so that Sam and Natasha had their own at the front of the ballroom, whilst Sam’s parents had the table to the right, and he had the table on the left with Steve, Clint and Peggy, while everyone else filtered down from there.

He’d made sure that the tables with kids sitting at them had little jars of candies and colouring books and crayons to keep them all occupied, and he was very proud of himself as he finally sat down next to Steve who reached for his hand immediately and squeezed it.

God, but Steve looked fucking gorgeous in that suit of his.

Bucky’s tongue had almost fallen out of his mouth when he’d walked outside and saw his boyfriend standing at the front beside Sam, his blond hair perfectly styled and the dark grey (was that Tom Ford?) suit that looked like it was sculpted onto him. Bucky looked at him and smiled, his heart fluttering in his chest as Steve smiled back. Bucky could hardly believe that this fella was all his.

~

Traditionally, the Bride’s father would have made the first speech, but since Natasha’s father had been in federal prison since was five years old, Sam stood and launched straight into his.

“A lot of you don’t know that the first time I met Natasha was not actually when I moved to Brooklyn,” Sam started, grinning. “I really met her several years before during a rescue op, where Riley and I were ordered to go in and airlift three Special Forces idiots who had managed to blow up something big and all got themselves injured at the same time.”

At Steve’s table, Clint started to chuckle and Bucky shook his head with a smile.

“So we went in,” Sam continued. “And there they were – one total dickhead who had set off the explosion and permanently deafened himself…”

“What? What was that?” Clint piped up, loudly. “You’ll have to speak up bro, I can’t hear you!”

Steve snorted loudly and covered his mouth with his hand as Sam grinned and carried on.

“…one punk ass kid with a sniper rifle as big as he was and his left arm practically hanging off…”

“Yo!” Bucky piped up, taking his cue as the guests began to chuckle around them.

“…and then I saw her – the most beautiful woman I had ever laid eyes on, stumbling towards me with a hole clean through her damn side. Well, I did what any gentleman would do and ran to the lady, meaning to pick her up and carry her to the chopper. And what did she do?”

“PUNCHED YOU IN THE FACE!” Bucky and Clint yelled at the same time, causing the room full of guests to burst out laughing.

“She punched me in the damn face!” Sam repeated. “Well of course, that was it – I was smitten! I spent half the journey back trying to stem the blood gushing from my nose whilst Riley packed up Natasha’s gunshot wound and she glared at me from the other end of the chopper. I spent years trying to track that redhead down for her phone number and I failed miserably. So you can just imagine the shock I got when, several years later, I moved to that apartment in Brooklyn only to find the same goddess walking down the stairs towards me when I was carrying up my TV. Needless to say I dropped my TV in surprise and the damn thing broke! But lady luck smiled on me that day, because Natasha told me to come over and watch her TV whenever I felt like it and I never left!”

The rest of his speech was mostly just thanking his family for being supportive, his friends for being fantastic and Natasha for marrying him.

All too soon, he was drawing to a close and the guests were applauding, and Steve felt his hands start to shake as he sucked in a few deep breaths. He was going to have a panic attack if he didn’t calm down. It was only a speech – he could do it.

Next to him, Bucky noticed his jumpiness and leaned over just as Steve was about to stand, kissing him softly on the lips.

“You can do this, sweetie,” he whispered.

Steve’s eyes closed for a second and he nodded, straightening as the guests quietened down. He started pretty hesitantly as he introduced himself to the mass of Sam’s family members that he’d never met, thanked them all for coming and congratulating the happy couple because damn, it took them long enough.

He was encouraged by the soft chuckle that got from the crowd and a quick glance towards Bucky confirmed that his boyfriend was staring up at him adoringly. Steve took a deep breath and carried on.

He talked about how much he adored the pair of them, how much they had both done for him over the years with all of his illnesses and how they put up with his pity parties and never let him sink too low. Steve told the story of the time that he attempted to teach Sam how to make a birthday cake and that his friend had set the thing alight twice before Steve had just told him to never ever bake again and made it himself. He also told them of the time that Natasha had imported the strongest Russian vodka in existence and had drunk them all under the table. Steve didn’t remember most of that night, but definitely remembered the hangover.

The guests were chuckling at his speech by the time he came to wrap up, glancing at Sam with all seriousness.

“Before I call for a toast to Sam and Nat, I just want to say something,” Steve said, putting down his cue cards. “I’m absolutely honoured that Sam asked me to be his best man, but I can’t help thinking that I’m a poor substitute for the man who should be here giving this speech. I never knew Jake Riley, but from everything I’ve heard about him, he was an outstanding Airman, valiant Pararescueman, and a wonderful friend. So, I hope I’m not asking too much of you to please toast to a man who gave his life so that others could live – to Jake Riley.”

Steve raised his glass but halted as Sam slowly stood up, back ram-rod straight and saluted. Next to him, Bucky also stood, and then Clint, and then Natasha, each of them serious, heels clicking together as they all executed perfect military salutes.

He turned the speech light hearted again and everyone was smiling by the time they toasted to Sam and Natasha’s wedding. Bucky’s arms enveloped him the second he sat back down, face nuzzling into the side of Steve’s neck as he hugged him.

“That was real good of you Stevie,” he murmured. “I’m so damn proud of you, baby. So damn proud.”

~

The meal was gorgeous – Bucky especially enjoyed the crème brulee that Steve had chosen from the menu. As for Steve himself, Bucky couldn’t have ever loved him more than in the instant he had called for a toast to Sam’s old partner Riley who had been killed in combat a few years before. Bucky had just wanted to grab him and kiss him passionately right in front of every soul in that room to tell them that this here was his man – this good, sweet, beautiful little baker. He resisted though, because Steve might never have forgiven him if Bucky had put on such an embarrassing display of affection.

People milled about between courses and Bucky had never seen Natasha hug so many people in his entire life. When it came to cut the cake, she was overwhelmed when she saw the masterpiece that Steve had created. All the guests crowded around to admire it.

“Okay, so I know that the bride doesn’t usually so speeches, but screw tradition for today, right?” Natasha said, cuddling up to Sam’s side as the crowd hushed to listen to her.

Bucky had a fresh glass of champagne in one hand and his arm casually slung around Steve’s shoulders as they listened.

“I just want to take this opportunity to thank two of our very best friends, without whom you’d probably having burgers and beer on the street in Brooklyn,” Natasha continued to a laugh from the guests. “First of all, to James Barnes who did everything for us – from booking this venue, helping me choose my dress, getting frantic about the flower arrangements, harassing us over guest lists – we owe you everything.”

“I’d do anything for you, Duchess – you know that,” Bucky replied with a smile, raising his glass to her as she beamed happily at him.

“And secondly to Steve Rogers, our neighbour, our best man, and our friend who worked so hard to make the most spectacular wedding cake I have ever seen. I can’t wait to taste this, and I swear if anyone tries to eat the Faberge Egg on the top, I will kill you!”

“She means that!” Sam said seriously.

Beside Bucky, Steve smiled bashfully and Bucky gently jostled him.

“Seriously though boys,” Natasha carried on. “You both mean so damn much to me and to Sam, and I can’t tell you how delighted I am that you two are together, and totally crazy about each other. We’re all kinda hoping that the next wedding we’re invited to will be yours!”

Clint hooted with laughter, earning a slap on the arm from Peggy as the guests ‘aww’ed and applauded.

The tips of Steve’s ears were pink as he turned and buried his face into Bucky’s shoulder, but Bucky knew he was smiling. Tenderly, he pressed a kiss to the top of Steve’s perfectly styled blond head and folded his arm tightly around his slight shoulders.

“Give us some time, Nat,” he replied with a grin. “Don’t wanna rush things.”

He felt Steve’s arms wrap around his waist and when he glanced down, Steve was smiling up at him.

Damn, but if they had been dating for a little more than three months, Bucky Barnes would have married that beautiful little guy in a heartbeat.

Chapter Text

God only knew what Sam’s extensive family thought of them all. Parties had always tended to veer on the wild side whenever Bucky, Natasha and Clint got together, and since it hadn’t happened in a while, they seemed to be making up for lost time.

Bucky didn’t care if people thought they were uncouth or wild or even crazy – it was a wedding, a happy occasion and everyone deserved to let their hair down and just go for it, and if that meant doing body shots and licking salt from the bride’s cleavage at seven in the evening then so be it.

It had started sedate enough – the swing band that Sam had chosen were excellent, their female singer versatile enough to sing everything from Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald to Bill Haley. Sam and Natasha’s first dance was Ben E. King’s ‘Stand by Me’ and Bucky grinned so wide when it started. The song was perfect for them.

Bucky danced with Peggy, and Sam’s mother who thanked him over and over again for putting together such a beautiful wedding, and then he danced with one of Sam’s many little nieces who was definitely under the age of ten. She was adorable and giggly and reminded Bucky a lot of his own niece who liked to dress him up and play tea parties.

His eyes kept drifting to Steve who wasn’t dancing. Instead, he was sat in the middle of a whole bunch of kids who were shoving colouring books and crayons under his nose, asking him to draw pictures for them. He was so good with the kids, just like with the little ones that came into the bakery where Steve would draw tiny pictures on their cupcake bags. Steve was just so patient with them, so sweet, and Bucky felt like his heart would explode just watching him.

At the end of the song, he escorted the little girl back to the table where Steve was and grinned at them all. Steve was engrossed in drawing a green elephant for a little boy.

“Hey kids, do you mind if I borrow my guy for a little bit?”

Steve looked up sharply from his doodle as the children giggled.

“What for?” he asked.

“Well, it’s a wedding,” Bucky replied, extending his hand. “And you’re my fella – I kinda wanna dance with you.”

Steve looked slightly panicked.

“Oh Bucky…I can’t dance.”

“Sure you can.”

“No, really,” Steve protested as Bucky grasped his hand and pulled him up. “I got two left feet, I’ll just end up standing on you and hurting you.”

“It’s worth it,” Bucky said with a smile, pulling him close.

A couple of little girls giggled and ‘aww’ed and Steve began to turn his beautiful shade of pale rose on his cheeks.

“Bucky…”

“C’mon,” Bucky said softly. “We can just shuffle. Nothin’ energetic.”

A small smile appeared on Steve’s face as he looked up at Bucky and he nodded.

“Okay,” he replied.

Bucky could never have chosen a better song than the one that started up as they made their way onto the dance floor – Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’. If there was ever a song that could sum up exactly how he felt about Steve, this one would be it. He glanced over at the band only to find Natasha and Sam standing next to the singer, both with the biggest shit-eating grins on their faces and giving him double-thumbs-up. Bucky laughed and shook his head at them and he turned and wrapped his boyfriend up in his arms.

Steve’s head fit perfectly just under Bucky’s chin and he nuzzled at the soft straw-blond hair, eyes closed and a smile on his face as Steve’s hand came up to lie gently over Bucky’s heart. Steve stepped on his toes a couple of times, but Bucky didn’t care one bit because holding him close like this was just shy of heaven.

They continued to shuffle slowly even when the tempo kicked up a notch with Dean Martin’s ‘Aint That a Kick in the Head?’

“I love this,” he heard Steve murmur happily against his chest.

Bucky grinned and pressed a kiss into Steve’s hair.

“Me too,” he replied. “And you said you couldn’t dance!”

Steve laughed and wrapped both arms around Bucky’s waist, tilting his head back to look at him with those gorgeous sky-blue eyes that made Bucky go weak at the knees.

“I can’t,” Steve said. “But at least I now know I can shuffle.”

An hour later and Steve was no longer shuffling slowly with him. Jackets had been lost, ties were loose and a couple of shirt buttons were undone, Bucky’s sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and Steve’s hair, which had been perfectly styled all day, was now flopping forward into his eyes as he allowed Bucky to spin him around in the middle of the dance floor.

It didn’t matter that Steve couldn’t dance by this point, because he was laughing and his blue eyes were sparkling as Bucky pushed him out, reeled him back in, hugged him tightly and kissed him until they were both breathless.

But the thing that really took the reception to new heights, was the food fight that Natasha started when she wandered over to them both with a slice of wedding cake in each hand and smeared it on Steve and Bucky’s cheeks. Within five minutes, half of the wedding cake was gone, covering skin and hair and clothing as Bucky, Steve, Natasha, Clint, Peggy and Sam collapsed in a laughing heap in the middle of the dance floor to the horrified stares of the elder guests.

It had to be the best wedding Bucky had ever been to.

~

Steve didn’t remember a time when he’d laughed so much in his life.

He had no idea where his shoes were or his jacket, and his shirt was covered in passion fruit crème. He’d used his inhaler four times through the evening because he’d laughed so hard that his lungs had protested soundly and still he wasn’t about to stop.

The reception had dwindled – the older guests and the kids having gone to bed or home hours ago, with only a few stragglers still up. The gang had spilled out into the hotel grounds and were dancing barefoot on the grass to the cheesiest pop music imaginable playing from Bucky’s iPhone, as the band had packed up and left.

Steve lay on the cool grass, shirt pulled up to his chest and giggling as Clint’s tongue laved over his belly button before sucking out the shot of tequila that had been sitting there. Everyone cheered loudly and Clint sat back up and fist-pumped the air, salt on his nose and his eyes crinkled in mirth as he bit the wedge of lime that he had popped in his mouth.

His skin developed light goosebumps on the wet stripe along his belly and he rubbed the dampness away before pulling down his shirt again.

“I can’t believe I’ve never done body shots before,” he chuckled as Bucky pulled him back up into a sitting position.

“Neither can I – you’ve never lived until you’ve licked salt from Natasha’s right boob!”

“HEY!” Natasha yelled indignantly before proceeding to do a body shot from Peggy.

Steve laughed until Bucky silenced him with a kiss, slow and lingering and sweet.

They were all drunk, but not so bad as to be unable to remember everything in the morning. Steve’s body was warm and glowing and he’d never felt happier in his entire life than right now, surrounded by friends that were more like his family and the sweetest, most beautiful boyfriend on the planet.

His kiss was however disrupted by Clint Barton, who appeared from nowhere and pinned Bucky’s arms by his sides and lift him up from the grass.

“WHAT THE FUCK, BARTON?” Bucky yelled as he was hauled up and off his feet.

“Sorry, Barnes,” Clint replied jovially as he headed, legs bowed under the extra weight, towards the lake. “Looked like you were getting a bit hot there and I thought you might wanna cool down.”

“Don’t you fucking dare. Barton, don’t you fucking dare or I swear to God, I will murder you while you sleep.”

“I’ll risk it – your aim aint shit these days anyway!”

And with that, Clint arrived at the edge of the lake and made to toss Bucky in, except he overbalanced at the last moment and they both promptly tumbled into the water. They both came up, soaking and cursing, pushing water from their eyes and noses.

“Fuck you, Barton!” Bucky yelled as Clint laughed his head off. “Fuck you right in your fucking ass!”

“Oh, you wish…”

“CANNONBALL!” yelled Natasha as she ran and jumped in with them, still in her wedding dress with Sam following behind her.

Peggy stood and grinned as she looked at them all in the lake and then glanced at Steve who was still sitting on the grass, shaking his head in amusement.

“What a bunch of idiots we’ve managed to get ourselves involved with,” she murmured.

“Yep,” Steve replied with a grin as Bucky jumped on Clint and dragged him back under the water. “But we love them all.”

“Stevie!” Bucky called from the water, grinning as he waved. “Come on in!”

“Not a chance,” he replied. “Remember what happened last time I got unexpectedly soaked?”

Bucky’s grin slipped for a second, but then it was back and he was climbing out of the lake, striding across the grass to Steve and dropping to his knees at his feet. Bucky’s hair was plastered to his head and his expensive suit was ruined with cake and tequila and lake water but it didn’t matter one bit when he looked at Steve as though he was the best thing in the whole world. Steve didn’t even care that his own shirt and pants were getting soaked through as Bucky leaned in and kissed him again, gently pushing Steve back down into the soft, cool grass as his tongue licked its way past Steve’s lips.

“Hey, that’s public indecency,” yelled Clint. “You two should get a fucking room!”

A snort of mirth escaped Steve and the kiss broke as his head fell back against the grass as he laughed, hands resting on Bucky’s chest. Bucky stuck a middle finger up at Clint but he was grinning when he turned back to Steve.

“What do you say, Stevie? Wanna go up?”

“Oh yeah,” Steve replied, fingers wrapping around Bucky’s tie and pulling him close again. “I think I’d like that a lot.”

~

The bath water was deliciously hot and the vapours of the rose absolut oil that Bucky had added were strong and heady, curling into his nostrils and wrapping around his brain. Steve was in his lap, head pillowed on Bucky’s chest and knees either side of his thighs, sighing contentedly as Bucky traced soft patterns on his bony back.

They had arrived at their room, and immediately stripped off their clothes, dumping them in a pile on the bathroom floor as Steve ducked under the shower to wash cake from his hair and salt-encrusted saliva from his skin, and Bucky ran them a bath. They had all night to do whatever they wanted.

Bucky closed his eyes and hummed contentedly as Steve pressed a small kiss to the centre of his chest and he ran a hand through his boyfriend’s wet hair.

“You were amazing today, Stevie,” he murmured softly.

“Shut up,” Steve muttered, but his arms tightened around Bucky’s waist anyway.

“I mean it,” Bucky replied. “You looked stunning – that suit fit you like a glove…”

“Yeah well, it’s ruined now.”

“That’s why dry cleaners were invented,” chuckled Bucky.

He felt Steve’s mouth curve into a smile against his chest. God, but he really adored this boy. Steve Rogers was the best thing that Bucky Barnes had ever had in his life and he didn’t ever want to let him go.

“You know I love you, right?” he whispered against Steve’s hair.

Slowly, Steve sat up, sky blue eyes roaming over Bucky’s face before a smile began to spread, softly and slowly across his face.

“I love you too,” Steve murmured, leaning forward to kiss him.

A small groan escaped Bucky’s lips as Steve wrapped his skinny arms around his neck and slid his hands into Bucky’s hair. That wicked little tongue teased him as it darted between his parted lips for just a second and then retreated, over and over as they kissed, deeply, passionately.

He always loved it when Steve’s mouth moved away from his own and began to press kisses across his jaw and down to his neck, and he eagerly anticipated the moment when those lips would clamp down over Bucky’s earlobe and suck…so he was surprised when Steve pulled back to look at him seriously.

“Can I ask something?” Steve said quietly.

“Of course.”

Steve glanced down for a second, taking a breath before looking at him again.

“That time when I was recovering from being sick, and I asked you to do all the stuff that you’d said you wanted to do the last time we were in this hotel…?”

Bucky nodded. Both of those nights were ingrained in his memory.

“Yeah,” he replied softly, running his hands down Steve’s wet sides.

“Well, I kinda took control over that situation as usual and you didn’t really get to do what you wanted…”

“Oh sweetie,” Bucky said quietly. “Don’t worry about that. You know I love it when you take control.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t want to,” Steve all but whispered, his brow creased. “I wanted so badly for you to do everything that you wanted, but I got carried away and you didn’t stop me.”

Bucky felt his heart beat faster, his breath speed up.

“What are you saying?”

Steve leaned forward again, leaning his forehead against Bucky’s and looking directly into his eyes.

“I’m saying that I want you to take me into the bedroom, lay me down on the bed and use your tongue on me until I’m wet and open. Then I’m going to ride you slowly, nice and soft until I’m right on the edge, and then you’re going to use your fingers on me until I come so hard that I black out. Okay?”

God, but Bucky could have blacked out himself right then. It was taking everything he had just to remember to keep breathing.

“Okay,” he replied shakily. “Anything you want.”

~

Steve was shaking in Bucky’s arms, panting hard as he slowly sank down on his thick hard cock, bottoming out with a soft whine. He loved this, this feeling of being so full, so stretched and held fast by Bucky’s strong hands.

Bucky had spent a long time eating Steve out, his tongue licking long, wet stripes between Steve’s cheeks, lapping gently and probing and sucking until Steve’s thighs were trembling and he was quietly begging Bucky for more.

He had been lifted effortlessly, Bucky laying butterfly kisses on his neck as he had shifted to the edge of the bed, feet on the floor and pulled Steve onto his lap, back against Bucky’s chest. Steve couldn’t go fast like this if he tried, his toes barely touching the floor enough for balance never mind leverage.

Bucky was so deep inside of him, his hips rolling slowly as Steve’s head fell back against his shoulder, eyes fluttering closed as he reached back and tangled his fingers in Bucky’s hair. It was almost torturously slow, teasing, and Steve could feel sweat beading on his upper lip and his hairline as Bucky’s hand slid up his body to lie lightly at his throat.

“God, Stevie, you’re so beautiful,” Bucky murmured in his ear, lips brushing the lobe delicately. “So damn perfect.”

Steve groaned softly, fingers flexing slightly in Bucky’s hair as hand other hand frantically scrambled for Bucky’s.

“I knew it from the first minute I saw you – knew how special you were,” Bucky continued, linking his fingers with Steve’s and placing them on his stomach. “You deserve to be treated like a Prince, Steve. You need to be worshipped, to be adored, and I do fucking adore you, Steve…”

“Bucky…” Steve gasped.

“You’re a gorgeous, perfect little thing and I love you so much…”

Steve heard the whimper that left his throat, felt his toes curling as the heat in his stomach pooled and built. It was too much, Bucky inside of him and behind him and his voice resounding inside Steve’s head, breath ghosting on his ear. Every nerve in Steve’s body felt like it was on fire, burning up steadily and reducing him to putty, soft and pliant in Bucky’s hands.

And those hands…God, those hands were heavenly on his skin, stroking across his stomach and up his sides as Bucky’s lips grazed his shoulders, his tongue tracing patterns at the top of Steve’s spine.

“Oh Christ…” he gasped.

Steve was overwhelmed with sensation, with Bucky so thick and heavy inside of him, stretching him wide as his lips moved up to suckle gently at Steve’s ear. Those hands moved again, one teasing Steve’s left nipple gently, pulling and scratching at it while Bucky’s right hand moved down and his fingers encircled Steve’s cock, stroking firmly from base to tip.

“Oh God, Bucky…”

“I’m here, baby,” Bucky whispered back. “Just tell me when you’re ready.”

Steve felt dizzy, his lungs burning with the effort it took to breathe through the intense pleasure he felt. He could only hang on as he rode the building wave, feeling his thighs start to tremble and his stomach begin to tense.

“Buck…Bucky, now…right now….please…”

He almost cried at the immense loss as Bucky moved, pulling out of Steve as he swiftly moved him onto the bed, flat on his back. And then suddenly he was full again, Bucky’s fingers thrust deep inside him, pressing up in just the right place to make Steve see stars as he wrapped his sinful lips around the head of Steve’s dick and sucked.

He cried out as he came, longer and harder than he had ever experienced before, shooting his load into Bucky’s mouth with his fingers buried in that soft dark hair as his back arched and his head slammed back against the mattress. Steve was only vaguely aware of Bucky’s quiet groan, of something warm and wet against his inner thigh before he was pulled up the bed and into Bucky’s arms, held gently against the solid warmth of his chest.

It was a long while before the white edges of his vision faded and the stars disappeared, before his breathing normalised and his heart stopped threatening to burst from his ribcage.

Bucky was holding him, arms wrapped around his body that was only just starting to cease shaking, pressing kisses into Steve’s hair and rubbing soothing circles onto his back.

“I’m okay,” Steve murmured into Bucky’s shoulder.

“Yeah?” Bucky replied quietly.

“That was amazing.”

Bucky chuckled softly.

“I’m glad.”

“I love you, Buck.”

“I love you too, Stevie,” Bucky whispered back.

Chapter Text

ONE YEAR LATER

~

Saturday mornings, somewhere around nine thirty, were possibly the busiest times that the bakery had. Come rain or shine, warm weather or cold, the Brooklyn Bakery was packed out with regular customers who often milled around after purchasing their goods to stand and chat with each other for a little while.

Steve always allowed himself a smug smile, because he knew exactly why they were there, and why they kept coming back every single Saturday without fail. And it wasn’t just the fact that he and Peggy ran the best bakery in town.

Six months ago, Bucky had given up his large, expensive apartment in Manhattan and moved in with Steve. If he was going to be honest, Bucky had been pretty much living with him since Natasha and Sam’s wedding, spending most nights at Steve’s apartment, sleeping in Steve’s bed, eating Steve’s food. He had loved it, but as always, Bucky Barnes never pushed for anything and Steve finally had to ask him to move in permanently, since he wasn’t taking the hints.

Ever since then, Bucky tended to have a Saturday morning ritual. He would wake up, roll out of bed, and potter down to the bakery to give his boyfriend a kiss on the cheek and to steal a custard Danish to go with his coffee before making his way back upstairs again.

This Saturday morning was no different.

The conversation in the bakery hushed slightly as they all heard the creak of the stairs as Bucky walked down them, footsteps heavy on the old wood boards. Steve glanced up as Bucky walked in, hair still messed up from having Steve’s hands tug at it the night before, and dressed as usual, in only his boxers.

“Mornin’ sweetie,” Bucky mumbled, coming up behind Steve and wrapping his arms around Steve’s middle, nuzzling gently into his hair.

Steve smiled as he continued to serve his customer, catching their eye and feeling his cheeks grow warm. Bucky did this every week, and Steve loved it even if it did make him the tiniest bit embarrassed.

“Morning,” he replied.

Bucky kissed him on the cheek , hummed contentedly and then unwound himself from his baker boyfriend, padding barefoot over to the pastry display case to nab a Danish and to kiss Peggy on the cheek too before pottering back up the stairs.

Every single pair of eyes in the place followed Bucky’s every move until he disappeared from sight, and then the volume was turned back up again. Steve shook his head fondly – his boyfriend had turned out to be one of the customers’ favourite things.

“God damn,” said Mrs Jenkins, an elderly lady who had been a loyal patron since the bakery had started up. “I wouldn’t mind one of those myself, son.”

Steve grinned as he handed her a bag containing fruit cake and a fresh poppy seed loaf.

“Now now, Mrs Jenkins,” he replied. “You can look but you can’t touch. That one is mine.”

She smiled at him mischievously.

“I’ll fight you for him,” she joked, and Steve burst out laughing.

“I’m pretty tiny Mrs Jenkins, but I’m still pretty sure I can take you.”

The elderly lady chuckled and patted his cheek fondly.

“I’m sure you could. Enjoy him son – a nice boy like you deserves to be happy.”

~

The other best thing about Saturdays was that they didn’t stay open for the whole day, which meant that Steve got to knock off work early and go spend the rest of it with Bucky.

As usual, he found his boyfriend on his knees in the middle of the floor, changing the diaper of the most gorgeous baby boy to ever have been born. Theo Wilson-Romanoff had his mother’s piercing green eyes and his father’s nose, and the thickest batch of tightly curled black hair ever seen on a three month old.

Steve leaned against the door frame and smiled as he watched.

“I’m tellin you something man,” Bucky was saying to the baby, unaware of Steve’s presence. “It’s a good job you’re seriously cute, because those diapers stink.”

Theo kicked his chubby little legs and blew out a bubble of spit.

“Yeah, well, how would you like to clean up somebody else’s poop?” he continued, passing a wipe over the delectable little bottom before depositing it into the scented sac with the dirty diaper and reaching for the powder. “I mean, it’s not a nice job, pal. Somebody has to do it until you’re toilet trained, I guess, but I’ll be glad when you’re on solids because then this stuff won’t leak all over the place. You know what I’m sayin’?”

The baby kicked his legs again and made a small noise.

“Yeah, I know we shoulda made your daddy do it, but you had him up all night with your wailing. Cut the guy some slack little man, he works hard looking after you all day while your ma brings home the bacon. He’s sleepin’ it off for a bit and you have to stay with Uncle Bucky for a while. Then Uncle Stevie’s gonna come home and we can put you in your bouncy chair and play some music…”

“Oh, is it bouncy chair time already?” Steve asked, grinning as Bucky turned to look at him, baby powder smudged across his nose.

“Yeah, you missed the cleaning of the royal behind,” Bucky replied. “It’s now time for his Highness to sit on his musical throne and maybe take a little nap.”

Steve smiled and held his hands out for a deposit of chubby baby while Bucky went and washed up. Bucky had two nephews and a niece so he was a dab hand at this, whereas Theo was the first infant Steve had ever encountered and he was still a little nervous about holding him. He was the most gorgeous baby though.

“Bucky?”

“Yeah, sweetie?”

Steve bit his lip. God knows he loved Bucky with all his heart and every time Steve saw him with Theo or with his sisters kids, couldn’t help but marvel at how amazing a parent his boyfriend would be. Steve would love to start a family with him one day. He just never really knew how to bring it up.

“Nothing,” he said eventually, smiling as Bucky dried his hands on a towel and walked back through to the living room to kiss Steve softly.

“Okay,” Bucky grinned. “Let’s get this little guy in the bouncy chair!”

Steve laughed.

One day. Not today. But one day. After all, Steve was one hundred percent sure that this was the person he wanted to be with for the rest of his life. They had all the time in the world.