1) "It's just a few weeks," Bucky says, facing away from Steve as he checks his satchel. "You won't even know I'm gone."
"Of course." Steve watches the long line of Bucky's back as he reaches up to a high shelf for his parents' wedding picture, turns it over in his hand, and puts it down again. "Just a few weeks," he echoes dumbly, trying not to let himself imagine the emptiness of endless days without Bucky, trying not to remember that in twenty years they've never been apart longer than the nights Steve's spent in the hospital. And after Bucky's basic training, if Steve doesn't manage to enlist...
"Take care of the place, willya?" Bucky checks his satchel again, like it could've broken in the last half minute. "Don't forget to feed the fish."
"We don't have any fish," Steve blurts, and Bucky turns round and grins at him.
"Just checking," he says, smile so bright it almost distracts from how doesn't reach his eyes. "Anyway, I gotta go. I'll call when they spring me?" Wide blue eyes, which flick from Steve to the door and back again, before Bucky picks up his satchel and sets his jaw.
"You better, I'll need to make space in my busy social schedule." As Bucky turns away, puffing a little laugh, Steve takes three quick strides and grabs his collar. "Hey." Bucky glances back, eyebrows rising, and Steve hauls himself up, tightening both fists on Bucky's collar to drag him in.
Bucky gasps over Steve's mouth, wraps both strong arms around his waist, and hoists him off the floor, the kiss sliding openmouthed, deep and hot and eloquent with everything unsaid. Buck holds Steve there against his broad chest, kissing him down to his tonsils, making him shake down to his toes for an endless, fleeting moment as they try to climb inside each other.
They reel back gasping, Steve sliding down Bucky's jacket front, his knees shuddering beneath him, Bucky's chest heaving under his arms as he pries his fingers off Bucky's collar. "Steve," Bucky murmurs, resting his knuckles on Steve's cheek like he's touching a soap bubble, and Steve falls upwards into the blue-ringed black of his eyes.
For just a moment, until Bucky takes a stumbling step backwards and Steve stays put, as Bucky opens the door behind him and all but falls through the doorway, his eyes on Steve right up until the door shuts.
2) "Steve?" Peggy's lovely lilt in his ear makes Steve jump, whirling around to find her smiling behind him, and he takes a steadying breath and gives her the grin she deserves.
"You snuck up on me," he tells her, and she glances sideways, trying not to look rightfully pleased with herself. "Good job, Agent Carter."
"Mind those corners, Captain Rogers." Peggy steps up, the swaying light overhead glinting off her gleaming hair and lipstick, her shining eyes. Steve swallows hard around the lump her beauty always raises in his throat. "How long are you here?"
"0830 tomorrow we head for Brittany." Her hands are so close, her cheeks, her shoulders; he has to fold his fingers around his wrist to keep his hands to himself. "I've got my compass," he continues, and watches her eyes crinkle. "How about you? Can you say?"
"1400 Tuesday, Genoa." The door behind her creaks, Steve lifts his heel, and Peggy's already pushing him backwards out of the lamplight. Laughter and music spill out, but the door falls shut again without anyone coming through.
Peggy's hands still rest on his shoulders, long and warm; her eyes glint in the dimness, she smells fresh and skin-sweet, better than perfume. "Steve," she murmurs, "give me your hands?" He obeys, of course, and she curls her fingers around his wrists and tugs his arms around her waist, settling her chest soft against his, her sharp-cornered mouth pulling sideways into a dimple. "We'll be missed soon," she says, and he nods, his mouth stuck shut as she slides those clever lovely hands behind his neck. "Come here."
He obeys, and finds her lips tender and lipstick-sweet, just a flicker of hot slick tongue before she pulls away, her lips parted so invitingly all Steve wants to do is lift her off her feet and back up to his mouth. He should let go and resume their careful distance, but he doesn't manage that either, Peggy's waist under his hands and her fingers in his hair twin poles of irresistible warmth.
Peggy's smile broadens sadly, and when she steps back, her fingers trailing under his chin and away, Steve lets her go. "Stay safe," she tells him as she rubs two fingers across his bottom lip, wiping away a smudge.
Steve presses his prickling palms to his thighs and puts all he can into pursing his lips in a last kiss to Peggy's fingertips. "Kick their asses," he replies, and her eyebrows arch above her surprised eyes and delighted grin, just before she turns and slips back inside.
3) "Hey, Cap?" Steve glances up to see Gabe in his cabin doorway. He nods, and Gabe smiles as he shuts the door behind him, wider as Steve bundles maps aside to make room on the cot. "I just came to check on you."
Steve blinks at that. "Uh, thanks. I'm just --"
"Not sleeping," Gabe points out: he sounds like Bucky did, and Steve's chest hurts. He looks down at his lap, the maps and his empty hands, as Gabe sits beside him, the burdened cot creaking in protest. For a little while they both just breathe, hushed and steady. Steve should make himself point out everything he needs to do before tomorrow's assault on the final Hydra base, should shoo Gabe out to his own well deserved rest, but it just feels good to sit beside someone for a moment, to have something other than empty air to his right.
"You know," Gabe says at length, "From the first day I met Bucky, he talked about you all the time." Steve should reply somehow, but the pain presses on his chest, a hollow weight, and all he can do is nod dully, closing his eyes. "And, I was thinking… a couple times he lent me something I think he got from you, and I'd like to give it back, if that's all right."
Steve looks up, at Gabe's steady smile and clear dark eyes, at the promise of some small memento of Bucky. "I'd like that," he manages to rasp out. "Thanks."
Gabe nods, and leans close, setting his broad hand on Steve's shoulder, pressing their lips gently together. It takes Steve a moment to get it and then he gasps, the ache melting away as heat shivers through him, as he shoves into the kiss before he can hold himself back, crushing their mouths together till his lips crackle.
Gabe gasps too, and chuckles low, and leans back, pulling away. "Goodnight, Cap," he says softly, and presses another kiss between Steve's eyes, soft and dry, before getting up. Steve blinks, lips still tingling, warmth spreading inside him; he glances up at the door Gabe just shut, and then back down at the maps and plans, and then sets them aside and switches off the lamplight.
4) Unmoored in midair, Steve tries to pull in his arms, to control his momentum, but Natasha shoves his biceps up with her heels, riding him to the mat. He thumps down on his shoulders, at least with his feet beneath him, and she's not heavy but she spins atop him, knocking his legs back out; a nerve-strike sears through his hip, not fair, and her arched feet pin his wrists as she crouches over him, planting her palms either side of his head with a smug little "Hi".
"A nerve strike?" Steve demands, numbness spreading behind the pins-and-needles tingling down his thigh. Natasha just smiles, shifting a little, and presses the unbearably plush curve of her ass to his belly, rocking like she's thinking of shifting back those few cruel inches. "I th-thought," he stammers, struggling towards outrage and getting stuck at flustered, as Natasha pins him down with her searching blue gaze even more than her body. "Thought this was a spar."
"Hm." Natasha cocks her head slightly, trapping him beneath her for another few frantic heartbeats as she digs pointed toes into his wrist; then she swivels a quarter turn, swinging her shapely calf over his face, plants her feet together and stands daintily. "You need to get laid more, Rogers," she says as she steps towards the wall rack.
Steve tries to shove himself up but the same pins-and-needles crackles up his forearm and his arm dumps him back to the floor. "What the Hell --" Steve stops and defiantly redirects. "Two of four's more than enough."
Well, he tried. "How about Jamie from Medical?" Natasha drapes a towel behind her neck, and Steve goes cold with sudden dread.
"You're not bringing her -- him -- whomever down here now?" He has plenty more to say about that, but Natasha turns back to him with such wide-eyed innocence he chokes on shock even though he knows her, as much as she allows.
"Of course not, just making a suggestion." She blinks the false face away in favor of that searching look again, scalpel-sharp, dissecting him. "I'm going to have to think this one over." She turns towards the door, as Steve starts struggling up on his still-functional arm. "Those were mild strikes," she adds breezily, "you'll be fine in five to ten." She palms the door open. "Thanks for the spar!" And locks it behind her.
Thank Providence for small mercies, at least. Steve drops back to the mats, stares at the white tiled ceiling, and wonders with awed terror just what he's gotten in for.
5) Steve's ears are still ringing but he's pretty sure he's stopped rolling. He cracks open an eye, daring a breath -- there's no smoke, which is a relief, but the air's full of ozone and weird sparkliness, or maybe that's his eyesight? Blinking shows jagged orange afterimages, already fading, distinct from the glittery air as Steve looks around.
Tony's flat on his back some ways away, gauntleted hand flung over his head, little fizzles of white smoke rising off his shredded tee, the arc reactor's light flashing blue off the falling sparks. As Steve shoves himself up and trots over all he can think of is the terrifying impossibility of explaining to Ms. Potts and Lt. Colonel Rhodes why he let Tony blow himself up, how he even got roped into this spar in the first place. Kneeling, he reaches to check Tony's pulse, and as his hand passes over Tony's face goes from slack to smiling.
"That was awesome." Tony's smile widens to a grin as he grabs Steve's wrist with his bare hand, as he opens his eyes, dark and round and bright. "Absolutely awesome, spectacular end to an amazing fight, go out with a bang and all that." He's speeding up, gabbling like he did in New York, and just like then Steve helplessly smiles. "Especially since I actually won."
"In what univ--" Tony pushes up and cuts Steve off with a kiss, warm panting mouth, raw-silk scratch of beard, shocking heat down to his toes. Tony presses Steve's hand to his cheek and lets go to palm Steve's side; Steve's blood surges under Tony's hand broad and bold on his flank, Tony's deep moan and insistent tug towards the mats, and he could give in, he could sink into this pleasure.
But Steve thinks he knows, as Tony slips him a sly wiggle of tongue, what this wouldn't mean, and he doesn't want his first time in a new century to be a meaningless bit of fun on a gym floor.
So he pulls away regretfully, closing his mouth to Tony's, sitting back on his heels, not laughing or leaning back in when Tony pouts with practiced adorability. Thinking of Pepper's cadences, Steve says, "No, Tony. Thanks, but no."
"Well, you're no fun." Tony lets go and flops prone again, but his eyes are soft and eyebrows relaxed even if he's still pushing his lower lip out, reddened and shiny wet. "Also, ow."
"Think you're concussed?" Tony rolls his eyes elaborately at the suggestion. Steve shrugs, gets his feet beneath him, and offers Tony a hand, and Tony takes it, lets Steve help him up, and doesn't try to pull him in again. Steve glances him over, taking in the dappled bruises and linear scrapes, and of course Tony can't resist puffing his chest out. "I don't know whether to hose off or find you some medical attention."
"Oh, the shower's set up for both," Tony assures him, which isn't reassuring at all.
6) "Steve!" he hears, light and piping, like a talking flute. "Steve!" He turns, but sees nobody, just an empty conference room, table and chairs and a dark blur whisking out of sight. "Hey, Steve!" A brush by his cheek, a ruffle through his hair, and the laughing face of a living doll appears upside-down before his.
"Janet?" Steve asks as she flips in midair, brushing his cheekbone with a gossamer wing, her black hair gleaming as she flies.
"Found you!" Steve offers a hand the way he might to a butterfly, and Janet van Dyne, aka the Wasp, settles her tiny feet on his forefinger and pats the tip of his nose. "I've been looking everywhere! I thought you snuck away all sneakily!"
"I was trying to avoid a whole to-do," Steve points out, wrinkling his nose under her ticklish touch.
Janet sets her other hand on her cocked hip and laughs at him, her wide-set eyes sparkling, her iridescent wings flashing changing colors. "I won't give you away, then," she says impishly, "but I want a kiss goodbye."
Steve pretends to think it over, mostly to spend another few moments looking over the curvy miniature woman poised on his finger. Then he shuts his eyes and obediently purses his lips, and Janet giggles triumphantly. At first it's a tiny press in the middle of his lower lip, but she holds position as she expands, and Steve quickly cups his other hand beneath her, not sure when she'll be too big to fly. He starts to open his eyes but she hums a scolding so he keeps them closed, feeling her weight fill his palm, then his whole hand, as her full lips swell against his. Her arms slide around his neck and he cradles her waist between his hands as she reaches her full size, barely five feet tall; he could set her down and lean over her, but he holds her up instead, enjoying the slight heft of her, the soft press of her mouth, the swing of her feet as she kicks them up and giggles again and pulls off with a loud smack.
"Ooh!" she breathes over his lips, wiggling as he sets her on her feet; she grins up at him, squeezing his wrists in her little hands, and skips back. "See you soon!" Janet calls, waving with both hands, and spins like a dancer, and Steve grins, his cheeks warm, as he watches her bouncing away.
7) "Cap!" Steve turns to find Clint Barton limping towards him at breakneck speed, shoving himself along on one leg and one crutch, the other swinging stiffly in its full-length black cast. "Hey!"
"Hey yourself, Barton!" Steve grins to see his teammate safe and alive despite the destruction of SHIELD out from under him mid-mission. He holds out a welcoming hand, and Clint grips it as he hobbles another step or three, crashes deliberately into Steve's chest and kisses the gasp out of his mouth. Throwing all his weight on Steve, Clint wraps a muscular arm behind his neck and kisses him with heated enthusiasm and a bossy push of tongue, and Steve hears his own startled not-a-no as he stumbles back a step, wrapping his arm around Clint's solid waist, and kisses back.
Steve's warm all over by the time Clint pulls back to smile at him with crinkle-cornered eyes. "Thanks for keeping Nat alive."
The undeserved gratitude crashes icy against the heat Clint kissed into him, and Steve blushes, looking down at Clint's T-shirted chest, at nothing. "I don't -- if anything I almost got her killed."
"Don't let her hear you say that." Steve peeks up and sees Clint grinning, and Clint's arm's still warm and solid around his neck. "Seriously, I know you did your damnedest to keep her safe. I know you, Steve." Clint pushes off his chest, pulling his arm away, and Steve takes a deep cooling breath and lets him go. "So thank you," Clint continues, squeezing Steve's hand.
"Okay." Steve returns the squeeze, and the smile. "You're welcome."
8) Steve's awake when Sam gets home. Earlier he stumbled straight from the shower into bed, because missions are missions are exhausting, but some hours later he rolls over into Sam's pillow and inhales, and the sheer burst of happiness wakes him up. He's in Sam's bed, in Sam's life, alive and warm and well in the Twenty-first Century, and he's lucky enough to be delightedly stuck on that idea when he hears the front door open.
He could get up, with or preferably without pulling on some sweatpants, but he lies there in bed, motionless for the moment, and just listens to Sam move through the house, sighing as his keys jingle on the hook, the floors creaking beneath his footsteps. Still as if on a stakeout and infinitely more relaxed, Steve waits for Sam in his bed, in theirs, his heart fluttering at the thought.
The bedroom door opens and Sam steps in, drooping a little but smiling. "How'd it go?" Steve asks as he holds out a hand, and Sam hauls his undershirt over his head and reaches for him.
"The usual bullshit." Sam shrugs, holding Steve's hand with his left, unbuckling his belt with his right. Steve tugs on him and Sam's smile blooms to a grin as he steps within reach; Steve pushes his pants down his hips, he steps out of them and toes off his socks as he sits down on the bed. "The more people in a meeting, the less seems to get done, you know?"
"Yeah." Steve tips onto his back and keeps tugging Sam's hand, and Sam turns to him, leaning down for a sweet kiss full of familiarity and warmth, of Sam's plush lips and tingling mustache and rich scent. Steve thinks he could live in this moment as he cradles Sam's cheek in his hand; he remembers he can, that he does live here, and sighs gladly.
Sam chuckles in answer, pulling his full lips just far enough away to meet Steve's eyes like he could keep looking forever. "You know, I was gonna bitch some more, but…" Pulling the sheet across his lap, Sam slides all the way into bed, and Steve wraps the other arm around him, pressing his palm to the warm skin over Sam's broad shoulderblade. "Think I'd rather not bother."
"Better things to do with your mouth?" Steve murmurs, pressing forward to meet him, watching his sparkling brown eyes darken to bottomlessness. Sam nods, tilting his chin up to meet Steve's lips, and Steve sinks into this kiss, filling his senses with Sam, filling his heart.