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Behind the Curtains

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i. who kisses who first?

“It’s okay,” Sam says. “I know you got a slower timeline than other people. On account of how old you are, and everything.” He steps closer, shifting his weight so he’s pitched forward a little, on the tips of his toes. “And I was gonna keep quiet, let you get there on your own. Let you think you were bein’ smooth and maybe even let you make the first move.”

His hand falls on Steve’s shoulder, heavy with intent. “But Steve. Those shirts. They’re not fooling anyone.”

And then he’s tugging Steve closer, sliding the hand on his shoulder up and around so it’s cupping the back of his head, bringing him down so Sam can kiss the bemused, sheepish smile right off his face.

Steve’s lips part immediately over Sam’s, enthusiastically, even. He’s a good kisser, unafraid to get a little dirty, tongue stroking hot and wet into Sam’s mouth, teeth clacking in between cut off gasps and small huffs of breath that might be helpless laughter. His hands, hovering uncertainly over Sam’s waist, settle decisively on the curve of his ass, and Sam surges up even as he internally rolls his eyes good-naturedly.

Leave it to the boy scout types—total freaks on the inside.

They break away, chests heaving. “Couldn’t control yourself, huh?” Steve asks, giving a dazed look that somehow doesn’t take the smug edge from his bright grin.

Sam shrugs. “I got a thing for Nike gear that runs two sizes too small,” he deadpans. He’s about to tug Steve down for another kiss when a throat clears behind them.

They turn to see Bucky, standing in the doorway of the kitchen with a spooked look on his face. He’s wearing a pair of Sam’s basketball shorts and nothing else, and Sam’s eyes follow the line of his abdominal muscles, the thin thatch of hair that trails from his bellybutton and disappears beyond the low-slung waistband of the shorts.

“Oh,” Bucky says awkwardly. “Uh, I didn’t mean to interrupt. I’ll just—”

Steve’s bright red. “Bucky!” he says. “No, wait, you don’t have to go—” His eyes, too, seem to have trouble moving from that trail of hair, though they do flit up and fixate for a second on the powerful flex of Bucky’s pecs and arms.

Sam grins. “It’s your turn, man,” he says casually, and motions to Steve. Bucky makes a shushing motion. “I’m serious, Cap’s good for it.” The shushing motion turns into a glare. “You know you waaaaannaaa,” Sam sings, and to up the ante, lets his fingers graze the slope of Steve’s hip.

This time the glare turns smoky, and Bucky’s eyes drop to Sam’s hand on the denim. His expression turns speculative.

“…guys?” Steve asks. “What are you—”

“You really gotta catch up,” Sam sighs, shaking his head. “Bucky’s being wearing those damn shorts for the past month, and I think he burned all of his shirts, ‘cause I haven’t seen one on him for at least half as long.”

Steve looks even more confused for a minute. “You mean…” he trails off, then turns to look at Bucky, who’s cocking his hip but looking uncertain.

“Ya’ll think you’re subtle, is the problem," Sam muses. "I dunno what kind of flirting you did in the forties, but I’m pretty sure if I didn’t get him up against the wall two weeks ago, he’d have started walking around naked before he got the nerve to make a move.”

Bucky licks his lips, and Sam gives him a little wink. Steve’s eyes widen, then glaze over. After a second, he shakes his head roughly, blinking back into awareness.

“So now it’s my turn?” Steve says faintly, looking from Sam to Bucky. “You both—want each other, okay. But you both want me, too?”

Bucky’s face is the picture of incredulity. Sam can relate.

“Yeah,” he says. “We really, really do.” He motions his head to Bucky. “Com’n, man. Don’t we?”

Bucky gives a rough laugh, drags a hand over his face. “Steve,” he says. “I think I’ve wanted you before I even knew what it meant.”

Steve’s shoulders drop, like a great weight has fallen onto them. It takes Sam a second to recognize the sheer relief in his body language.

Sam pushes gently at Steve’s back. “Go on,” he advises. “You’ve got us, man. And we’ve got each other.”

When Steve steps forward, hooking his fingers into the waistband of Bucky’s shorts and meeting his hungry mouth halfway, Sam’s by his side. And both men slip their hands into his, squeezing tight even as they kiss slow and reverently, learning each other for the first time.

It’s the most connected to anyone that Sam’s ever felt, and it’s two incredible men at the same time. His heart feels very full. And his pants feel very tight.

“Good thing I don’t like waiting,” he says cheerfully when Steve and Bucky finally part, hair mussed and lips swollen. They give twin expressions of low-lidded satisfaction, and Sam feels a jolt of desire go through him.

“Yeah,” Steve says, smiling slowly.

Bucky adds, “Good thing.”



ii. who steals the blankets?

"Jesus," Sam says, amused. "He's like a little burrito. All wrapped up, snug as a bug."

Bucky narrows his eyes. "More like a goddamned huge burrito," he grouses. "So big he needs his own duvet, apparently."

Which wouldn't be a problem, except that leaves Bucky and Sam without any blankets of their own, and it's winter and it's cold. Bucky peeks over Steve's head to trade a commiserating glare with Sam.

"He's lucky he's so cute," Sam sighs.

"He's lucky I'm used to this," Bucky says. Then, with a grunt and a sigh, Bucky's shifting so he's on his side, leg slung low across Steve's hip. His arm drapes casually over Steve's waist, bringing his back flush against Bucky's chest. "This was a lot easier when he was a skinny little thing," he says to no one in particular.

Sam raises an eyebrow. "Adorable," he says. "'Cept now's not the time for cuddling. I'm tired." 

Bucky grins. "Look, he wants to be a burrito," he says, "Let's make him into a burrito." 

It takes a minute, but then Sam understands. With a smile, he sinks back down onto the bed and winds his own arm around Steve's waist, tucking his head under Steve's chin. He wedges his leg under the heavy weight of the blanket and Steve's legs, and sighs as the warmth begins to seep through him.

"He still dreams of the cold," Bucky says softly, into the stillness of the night.

Sam knows. Can feel it in the minute shivers that vibrate even through the blanket. He cuddles closer.

"That doesn't ever go away," he says quietly. "The loneliness and people we lost and the cold, the way it shook us to our bones. Those things never go away."

Sam hates that it's a reality that all three of them deal with, in their own ways. But a part of him is glad, to not be alone. That Steve and that Bucky are not alone.

Bucky gives no response. Steve's a beacon of heat between them, solid and real and there, and Sam finds Bucky's hand, taps the metal till Bucky's fingers entwine with his.

"Let's go somewhere warm this winter," Bucky says suddenly. 

Sam grins sleepily, squeezes Bucky's hand. "Okay," he says. "Sweet dreams. Of Hawaii. Or Florida."

"No one wants to go to Florida," Bucky says sternly. But he squeezes back, and the last thing Sam hears before he drifts off to sleep is an echoing, "Sweet dreams."



iii: who cusses more?

“Shit,” Bucky gasps. “Fuck, yeah, fuck, come on—”

“Come on, what?” Sam teases, voice in Bucky’s ear. His hand smoothes down Bucky’s back, resting on his flank lightly. “Sweetheart. What’dyou want?”

“Fuck, Sam—Sam, I want—fuck, I wanna come, I wanna come, please—” He’s whining it now, arms quaking as they hold his weight, voice almost anguished.

“Bucky, of course, hey. Hey, shhh,” and now Sam is rubbing the tight muscles in Bucky’s lower back, keeping him steadily in place as he tries to push up against Sam’s cock, sweat slicking his skin and making it shine in the low lamplight.

“Steve,” Sam says, “You wanna help him?” Steve looks up from where he’s sitting, lazily stroking his own cock. Bucky’s attention diverts, and he groans low, the sound catching in his chest.

“Yes,” Bucky hisses, as Sam’s fingers gently circle his hole. “Fuck, yes, Steve. Sam. Steve—Steve—keep touchin’ yourself, yeah, I wanna see you, make yourself—c-c—oh, fuck, Sam, yeah—”

There’s a dip on the bed, and the breathless quality of Bucky’s chants fade as he gets ahold of Steve’s cock, mouthing the underside and sucking with a sloppy, hungry fervency that has Steve hissing his name, eyes closed and blush staining his chest pink. His hips rock up, hands clenched in Bucky’s hair, and the sight is enough to make Sam’s dick ache even more.

He focuses on Bucky, the sounds he is making, the way he pushes in little thrusts back onto Sam’s lube-slicked fingers, how he has one hand hovering over his hard, jutting cock now, like he needs the promise of touch but doesn’t want the satisfaction yet.

“Fuck,” Steve breathes, when Bucky swirls his tongue around the head of his cock and pulls off with an audible pop.

“Fuck,” Bucky moans, when Sam’s got three fingers worked in, and he’s rocking his hips against the silk of the sheets, desperate for friction.

“Fuck,” Sam says, when Steve leans over and gives him a messy kiss, Bucky between them, coming apart in degrees.

Honestly, it’s no wonder that a week later, when Sam hears Steve and Bucky both swear quietly over the comm, he kind of pops a boner. At this point, it’s sort of Pavlovian.

Doesn’t stop Natasha from teasing him, though.



iv. who leaves their stuff around?

When Bucky's mad, he shows it by making really shitty scrambled eggs.

"Here you fellas go," he says, sliding two plates onto the table, voice sugar sweet though there's a mutinous cast to his expression. Sam and Steve look despondently at the colorless, bland mass of eggs and both of them stifle sighs.

"What is it this time, shnookums?" Sam asks, and ah! Victory. There's a twitch of a smile in the grumpy downturn of Bucky's mouth.

"Well, honey pie," Bucky drawls, "I tripped over your boots and Steve's sneakers last night, which would've been fine except then I fell face first into a pile of clothes on the floor, and that would've been fine except someone left one of their goddamned weapons in their pockets, and now—"

He turns his face, and there's a bruise on the edge of his jaw, blooming purple.

Sam feels his stomach sink. "Bucky," he says, and half-stands. His hand reaches out to cup Bucky's jaw. Bucky jerks away.

"'S not the point," he says, waving his hand. Steve makes a frustrated sound, a growl like of course it's the point, and Sam agrees whole-heartedly. There's no good to come of their boy getting hurt, even on accident.

"It's not, Steve," but Bucky's voice is more affectionate now, if weary. "I don't care that I got hurt, it'll heal, it's just—" he shakes his head. "I can't stand the clutter. I'm not—I'm not your maid. But I'm always cleaning up after you two, and it blows."

Steve nods. "I'm sorry, Buck." he says. "I'm still not used to living with someone. Well, two someones. I'll try and be better about it," he says sincerely. Being genuine usually takes the anger right out of Bucky's spine, and predictably, Bucky sags.

"Okay, yeah, it's not that, either," Bucky confesses, and avoids their eyes. Sam folds his hand into Steve's under the table, and reaches his other hand out to Bucky. After a second, Bucky takes it, and drops down into a seat across from them.

"What is it, then?" Sam asks.

Bucky looks at the plates of eggs. He says, flatly, "Seeing your stuff just reminds me that I don't have a lot to my name. People collect stuff as they go along, y'know? Little indications of a life lived. But I don't got much to scatter around. Not a lot to...leave a mark."

Sam curls his hand tighter around Bucky's, rubbing a thumb across his knuckle. Steve looks upset enough that Sam squeezes his hand, too.

"Hey," Sam says. "Our stuff is your stuff, doofus." He leans in, holds Bucky's gaze. "If you want more things, we can get you more things. But if you ever need a reminder that you've got something to call your own, you only have to take a look around you. Because this? Us? It's yours."

Steve nods and leans in, too. Cups Bucky's jaw in his hand. "Even when you were gone, I felt you," he says. "You left your mark, believe me."

Bucky closes his eyes. "Okay," he says faintly. "Alright, fine." There's a long moment where they're all connected, just breathing in the early morning light. "But I'm still not cleanin' up your shit."

Sam bats his eyelashes, grinning prettily. "That's okay, dearest," he says. "As long as you remake these eggs."



v. who remembers to buy the milk?

"Man, you baked the good cookies tonight!" Sam crows, leaning in to give Steve an appreciative kiss. Steve rolls his eyes but returns the kiss with a grin, mouth lingering on Sam's for a moment long enough to turn heated before Bucky coughs pointedly.

"Don't worry," Sam says, breaking away and grinning at the faraway expression on Steve's face. He pats Steve's cheek then reaches out to Bucky, who takes his hand with an imperious look.

Bringing Bucky's hand up to his mouth and brushing his knuckles against the bristly edge of his goatee, holding eye contact just the way he knows will turn the blue of Bucky's gaze a little darker, a little more mellow, Sam says: "You get cookies too."

Steve snorts. "Bucky hates sweets," he says. "He's strange like that."

Bucky mock-scowls, reaching around Sam to tug Steve in by the collar. "Not if they're cookies, pal," he informs Steve, before kissing him soundly over Sam's shoulder, teeth scraping Steve's bottom lip. "Especially yours."

Sam loops his fingers through Bucky's belt loops and leans back against Steve. "Captain America's very own recipe," he teases. "And since ya'll always forget the milk, I took care of it before I got home. So we get a nice, well-rounded dessert. That you will proceed to run off in about 2 minutes tomorrow morning while I want to die, but. At least you're both hot."

Bucky and Steve exchange glances.

"You ain't no slouch yourself," Bucky leers, nosing at Sam's jaw.

Steve leers, too. "Yeah," he says, sliding his arms around Sam's waist.

"Fellas," Sam sighs. "Let me put the milk away before you attack me for my body instead of my stunning wit and intelligence."

Bucky squints. "Stop talkin' about the damn milk, Wilson," he says, and cups the front of Sam's jeans. He nips at Sam's jaw, grins as Sam rolls his hips up with a bitten-off groan.

"But—didn't you want, y'know—dessert—" Sam breathes. Steve dips his hand under Sam's waistband and meets Bucky's eyes with a hooded look.

"We sure did," he agrees.



vi. who remembers anniversaries?

It begins with little drawings.

Posted around the house, doodles of smiling faces and random objects—a bird in flight, an anchor in the sea, a cup of tea with steam twining into the sky. They’re beautiful drawings, quick but finely rendered, so Sam knows instantly that they’re Steve’s.

Both he and Bucky get them, and sometimes they compare drawings over breakfast, digging into a plate of waffles and laughing at the impromptu comics strip that Steve’s sketched, or smiling fondly at the little messages communicated in the swooping, slashing lines.

Then the drawings are joined by gifts. Thoughtful items—a sweater in Bucky’s favorite color made of the finest wool, a watch engraved with Sam’s late father’s name, a new set of towels monogrammed with their initials.

Sam and Bucky are pleasantly surprised, and very touched, but mostly confused.

“Steve’s nice,” Bucky says suspiciously. “But he ain’t that nice. Something’s up.”

Something is up. They realize it around the time that Steve comes out after dinner one night, beaming ear to ear, holding a cake that says HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

Bucky and Sam exchange horrified looks. Steve plops the cake down and smiles expectantly.

“Hope you liked your gifts,” he says. “And the drawings. Thought it might be nice to do a little countdown.”

Bucky raises an eyebrow. “For two weeks?” he asks.

“It’s a big occasion!” Steve insists, not looking the least bit embarrassed. “But since you both opened your gifts early, that just leaves me. I wish you would’ve waited. So what'd you get me?”

Another round of horrified looks.

“Steve,” Sam says carefully. “Man, I…” He peers closer at the cake. “Wait. Steve. This says, in really tiny font, ‘…of our first run together.’”

Steve shrugs. “Yeah, so?” But the smile on his face is twitching, and Sam can make out the mischievous gleam in his eyes.

Bucky groans. “Christ,” he says. “I thought I forgot a real anniversary.” Steve gives a hurt look that’s so exaggerated it makes Sam erupt into laughter.

“Just keeping you on your toes,” Steve says primly. “Also, I like giving you guys stuff.” He leans in, dips a finger in the cake and licks frosting off. “Also, it was pretty hilarious looking at your faces just now.”

Sam can’t help it; Steve’s shit-eating grin does something to him. “Our boy does take his runs pretty seriously,” Sam says. “It’s only fair, Bucky. He got us gifts. We oughta repay him.” He makes his voice go low, dark with promise.

Bucky picks up the thread, gives a thoughtful nod. “You’re right,” he says. “Now, it ain’t a nice sweater or watch, but I do have something of some value that I can give ya.” He waggles his eyebrows and shoots a significant look down at his lap.

Sam swears, if Bucky and Steve weren’t so goddamn hot, they’d be in a world of trouble. Their lines, Jesus…

Still. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

“Me too,” Sam says. “And look! We even left the wrapping on…”

It’s a good anniversary indeed.



bonus: favorite non-sexual activity?

The little girl looks solemnly up at Sam, her braids swinging as she shakes her head.

“No,” she says. “I want to fly.”

Bucky frowns and folds his arms. “Super strength is a much cooler power,” he says loftily, and the little boy on his lap agrees, folding his own arms in a mirrored, mutinous protest.

Sam gives the little girl a hug. “Nadirah’s got her head on straight,” he tells Bucky. “I know you’re Wei’s favorite, so I can’t blame him for havin’ his opinion,” he gives the little boy a wink, “but it’s wrong.

Wei pushes his glasses up his nose and blinks owlishly at Bucky. “You are my favorite,” he says earnestly. “And opinions can’t be wrong, Mr. Wilson.” He yawns. “My moms say so.”

Nadirah blows a raspberry at Wei. “If you could fly, you could zoom outta the window and leave school forever,” she says.

Wei snuggles into Bucky’s chest, and Bucky circles his arms around the boy’s slight frame. “If I had super strength, I could beat up all the jerks who tease you.”

Nadirah scowls. “They tease you,” she corrects. “They don’t even talk to me.

Bucky raises an eyebrow. “That’s because you’re too cool,” he says. “You intimidate them. You and I have that in common.” He puts his metal hand out in a fist.

Nadirah gives him an assessing look. Then, mollified, she meets his fist with her own.

“Also,” Sam feels the need to say. “Violence isn’t the answer. Super strength shouldn’t be a way for you to crush bullies just because they’re tryin’ to crush you.”

Bucky’s voice is dry when he says, “Speak of the devil.” Right on cue, Steve enters the classroom, his broad shoulders filling the frame of the doorway. There are two children, a girl and a boy, clinging from his legs.

Wei grins. “Captain America’s got super strength,” he says, as if that decides everything. Bucky adopts a wounded look. “But I still like you better! Your arm’s the best.”

Sam jiggles Nadirah in his lap. “I think Cap’s super power is his super heart, what do you think?”

The two little children—Tanisha and Tyree, if Sam remembers correctly—giggle uproariously as Steve takes comically large steps around the room, pretending to look for them as they clutch his thighs and hold on for dear life.

Nadirah gives a shrug. “He’s bein’ nice to the terror twins, so I guess,” she says dubiously. “Still think flying’s the coolest.”

Sam catches Steve’s eyes from across the room, feeling the press of Bucky’s knee against his own. Surrounded by the men he loves and the kids they are trying to help mentor into good people, he feels really and truly content.

“Tell you what,” he says to Nadirah, “It’s better when you got all three.”


bonus redux: who uses all the hot water?

They get that Bucky needs time to unwind. And they understand that he likes the quiet and privacy of long showers. But the thing is, he spends ages in the bathroom and by the time he’s out, all the water’s run cold and they don’t know how.

After the fifth cold shower in a row, Steve towels off his hair and suggests: “Put in a bathtub, maybe?”

Which is a great idea. It’s a home improvement project that takes an entire weekend, but by the conclusion of the effort, there’s a gorgeous, big bathtub in Sam’s bathroom.

A week later, there’s also a pile of romance novels in the basket next to the toilet, and Bucky’s adamant that they’re not his.

The most well-thumbed volume is a book about a brooding anti-hero who courts a cheerful, popular debutante who is too good for him and keeps getting into comical scrapes and needing the anti-hero to bail her out. All the dirty scenes are folded over.

“Look, just because I read them doesn’t mean they’re mine!” Bucky squawks, then holes up in the bathroom, a six pack of beer and The Soldier’s Lover in hand.

“They’re mine,” Steve confesses, propping his chin on Sam’s shoulder as they look at the closed door in resigned amusement. His arms wind around Sam’s waist. “I think he needs something to distract himself when he broods. Those books’re always a fun read, and he makes little comments in the margins. Plus, I dunno, he liked writing the dirtiest limericks when we were in school.” He gives a nostalgic smile. “But he also wrote real nice stories. Happy endings, and all. He’s a romantic at heart, did you know?”

Sam cocks his head. “No,” he says slowly, gears whirring in his head. “But I do now.”

Later, Sam slips a journal on top of the pile of romance novels, and a pack of writing pens, the kind that are expensive but worth it.

Bucky starts spending his time in bed instead of the bathroom, book propped on the curve of Sam’s upper back, pen scratching away as Steve sits next to him, a copy of Duchess of His Heart flipped open on Sam’s ass. Sam smiles sleepily, careful not to shift, and drifts off to dreamland, content that his own love story is playing out in reality.

Turns out, Bucky’s writing a novel. It’s not exactly publishable, but to be fair, that’s not a quality issue. Mostly, Sam’s pretty sure no one would buy something that reads quite so explicit and sappy at the same time.

“Actually,” Steve says, “I bet people would love this. Weirdos.”

“Well, it’s based on a true story,” Bucky says, and burrows in deep between them both.