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Bucky waited only long enough to shed his armor at the section house before heading to the pleasure district.

"Not even time to wash the blood from your beard?" Natasha teased as her own squire unfastened her breastplate.

Clint snorted, watching as Bucky tried to hurry his squire along. "You know Bucky's sweetheart will be waiting for him."

"I've spent the past month looking at a horse's ass and your ugly mug, Barton." Bucky leaned over the basin, splashing some water on his face to try to get rid of the worst of the grit. "I think I deserve this."

He left to a gratifying peal of laughter from Natasha and Clint's loud rebuttal, but he had no time for their ribbing tonight. Once he was free of armor and clad in only a simple tunic, he buckled his sword belt and headed off into the night.

The woman in the parlor of the pleasure house simply nodded to him as he passed; they knew him here, and he knew where to go. The door at the top of the long, curling spiral staircase was left just slightly ajar, and he pushed it open eagerly.

The room was simple, compared to most of its kind. There were still silken drapes over the windows, plush fabric and pillows on the bed, but there was none of the ornate frippery most courtesans favored. Just a table with clean lines and two chairs on the wall opposite the bed, an easel in the corner. Bucky liked knowing that the room reflected the owner, who was even now sprawled out in bed asleep.

Stretched out in bed, Steve could almost be mistaken for an innocent. His features were sweet and boyish with the slackness of sleep, his blond hair a near angelic halo. His lips were the first hint of sin, and anything below the jaw was irredeemable. He was nude but for the false modesty of a sheet pulled over his hip.

Bucky crossed to the bed, not bothering to remove his boots or his sword; Steve always happily did that for him. He leaned over and ran his finger along the curve of the golden ring that hung from Steve's nipple. That earned him a soft sigh and a little shift; a gentle tug had Steve's eyes opening, a slow smile spreading across his face.

"You're late."

"I nearly ran the company into the ground getting back to you." Bucky smirked down at him. "All the way across the desert, and I didn't even stop for a bath."

"Obviously." Steve made a face, but his eyes were still alight. "I guess first things first, then?"

He sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed, and in one fluid motion pushed himself off and to his knees. For such a big man, he moved with incredible grace. Steve had told him his story their first night together, after Bucky's first battle, the first time he swung his sword at a man and not a straw dummy. Steve had been small and frail as a boy, and by the time he'd grown into his strength it was too late - he'd already been dedicated to the pleasure caste, and it was there that he would live out his days. I'm glad you did, Bucky had whispered. He'd been so young, so open. He'd been shaken by the realities of war, and Steve's kisses, his clever hands made it so much better. After that night, he would never have anyone else as his reward after battle.

Steve unlaced his boots, not complaining about the dirt and blood and god knows what else encrusted on them. He coaxed Bucky to step out of them, then unbuckled his sword belt. Steve was careful, practiced, and laid the sword gently down on the floor, next to the bed. His sword was more than his livelihood; it was an extension of him, and the only people allowed to handle it were himself, his squire, and Steve.

Once he was undone, Steve rose and nudged his hip with a smile. "You reek."

"Do you remember the part about riding nonstop through the desert to get to you?" Bucky went easily, though. It was just another part of their routine. He padded across the plush rug on bare feet, onto the cool tile of the bath, separated from Steve's chamber by naught but a gauzy curtain. The entire suite was intimate and private, no reason for shyness here. He stripped off his tunic and breeches, both stiff with grime and sweat, and let them fall to the floor. Steve clucked about it, like he always did, gathering them and dropping them through a chute; in the morning, when it was time to leave, they would magically appear freshly laundered outside the door. Until then, he had no need of them.

The tub was, of course, huge. To Bucky, who was used to bathing in a metal basin or perhaps rubbing river water on the back of his neck after a long day on horseback, it was as much a luxury as fucking Steve was. It was already full, the water steaming slightly. Bucky looked over his bare shoulder at Steve.

"You tricky minx."

Steve grinned. "It was just a cat nap. I know how to prepare for my favorite client."

Bucky climbed in, hissing as the hot water touched his skin. He sunk into it as quickly as possible, submerging his limbs to more quickly adjust to the temperature. Almost immediately, it felt like every muscle in his body started to unwind, blooming under the heat. He groaned, head tipping back against the rim.

"That's right," Steve said. His voice echoed a little in the tiled room, making it seem like he was up close and far away at the same time. Of course, it was easy to place him once his hands slid into Bucky's hair, slick and smelling of fresh citrus. "Let it go."

Bucky closed his eyes, savoring Steve's fingers deftly massaging his scalp, working grease and dirt and blood free of his hair. He exhaled hard through his nose. "Am I?"

Steve's hands paused. "Are you what?"

Bucky bit the inside of his cheek; he wasn't sure how he let it slip out. In all the time that Steve had been tending to him after battle, they'd kept it light. He swallowed and tipped his head back so he could look up at Steve. "Your favorite client."

Steve took another decorative jar from the side of the tub and poured something that smelled like lavender onto his hands. He started rubbing that into Bucky's hair before he spoke. "A lot of the others do whatever they can to get out of soldier duty, did you know that?" Bucky shook his head. Steve hummed, thumbs stroking over Bucky's temples. "There's not a lot of money or glamour in it. Generals don't come in through these channels, so there's no chance at someone famous."

It wasn't what Bucky wanted to hear, though there was no reason to expect anything else. He had no illusions about their relationship; as a soldier in her majesty's army, he was entitled to the use of a courtesan. A reward for his service. Steve had never been anything other than that; he had never asked Steve to whisper words of love in his ear, to lie to him as he knew some men must. There was no reason for his stomach to go cold.

"But I think it's the greatest thing we can do," Steve continued. "We all have a role to play, and if the work I do can make a soldier's life better, I'm proud."

Bucky had to smile. Steve was, among other things, ceaselessly patriotic. But then Steve was wrapping his hand under Bucky's chin, forcing him to look up and meet Steve's serious blue eyes.

"Even if you were a farmhand, you would still be my favorite client."

"If I were a farmhand," Bucky said, fighting the spreading warmth in his chest, "I would never be able to afford you."

Steve hummed. "I think you'd be a very industrious farmhand."

"Perhaps." Bucky smiled up at him. "If I knew that such a prize awaited me if I could only work hard enough."

Steve bent to kiss him; despite the awkward angle, their lips fit together beautifully. One of the benefits of kissing a professional, Bucky had to admit.

Another was the sure ease in Steve's big hands as he started to wash Bucky's body. His big hands massaged every sore muscle, working groans from Bucky that felt as though they'd been trapped deep in his chest for days. He wasn't lying when he said he rode nonstop to be here. He was tired from the road, endless days in the saddle. At least in battle there was adrenaline, a rush that lent strength to the swing of your arm. The fighting had been thankfully brief, but that meant his days were filled with interminable riding instead. His eyes slipped shut as Steve took him apart piece by piece with his warm, clever hands, breathing in the fresh herbal scent of the soap, the soothing steam from the tub.

He was barely conscious when Steve guided him to his feet, knowing only enough to obediently step out of the tub, let Steve wrap him in a fluffy towel and walk him back into the bedroom. He was briefly aware of the soft silk under his cheek, silk that smelled of Steve, and then all was darkness.

When Bucky woke, he was disoriented. For a moment, he was confused as to why he wasn't sleeping on a thin bedroll on the hard ground; he remembered returning to the city without too much difficulty, but this bed was far softer than his cot in the station house. He shifted, inhaled the sweet scent of burning candles, and smiled before he even opened his eyes. Of course.

"Hello, soldier." Steve's voice was low, teasing, and Bucky opened his eyes slowly.

Steve stood near the foot of the bed. Gone was any hint of the angelic nature he'd had in sleep; a thin gold chain dangled between the rings in his nipples and his lips were painted red. He wore a lacy pair of silken undergarments, his cock bulging obscenely against the thin fabric, the strength of his thighs barely contained by sleek stockings. He smirked under Bucky's gaze, posing with a cocked hip that only served to pull the silk tighter across his groin.

"You'll hurt my feelings," Steve purred. It wasn't as though Bucky could ever forget that Steve was a courtesan, but before, during the bath, they had almost felt like equals, like they might be brothers in arms. This was the Steve that wealthy men and women fell over themselves to spill their purses for, the jewel of his house. The Steve he could never afford were it not for the privileges his service granted him. "Sleeping the night away."

"I'm awake now." Bucky shifted. His body was quickly starting to awaken too, cock filling. Steve was a more than inspiring sight.

"So I see." Steve's lush red lips parted slightly. "How may I please you tonight, soldier?" He punctuated the question with a slow roll of his hips; Bucky was sure these were all the tricks that Steve used on his regular clients, but they were exaggerated somehow. It was obviously a show, a performance, and maybe it was wishful thinking, but there was a twinkle in Steve's eyes that Bucky would have bet his sword was just for him.

"Well." Bucky swallowed and tipped his chin up, trying to follow Steve's lead and play the part of the rich client. "I bought you, didn't I? Every inch of you is mine for the night."

Bucky was sure he saw a flicker of mischief in Steve's eyes. Steve planted his hands on his hips, flexing ostentatiously. "That's right."

Bucky's mouth went dry; even if it was a game, Steve was beyond beautiful. He licked his own lips to moisten them. "Then every inch is what I'll have."

That startled a soft smile out of Steve, and Bucky knew that he was right about it all. Not even a moment later, though, Steve was back in character, sliding his thumb along the waistband of his undergarments, tugging them down to reveal the cut of his hipbone. "Will you undress me, sir?"

Though he was meant to be taking charge, Bucky obediently rose from the bed, coming to stand in front of Steve. He was not a small man, but Steve was easily half a head taller than him and just as broad. Not for the first time, Bucky wondered at the world that had consigned Steve in his weak youth to the life of a house boy for brothels. They had never spoken of it, but he knew Steve was strong. He imagined Steve riding beside him into battle, the good that he could do with a sword in hand.

But such things were useless dreams, and if Steve was truly a member of his company, he could never have him like this. Could never curl his fingers around the delicate chain between his nipples and tug, hear the needy sounds Steve made. For his own selfishness, Bucky was grateful that the fates had seen to give Steve to the service of pleasure instead of war.

After tugging on the chain, he leaned in to close his mouth over each nipple, sucking on it gently before catching the ring in his teeth for a quick pull. Steve was always easy for this, pert pink nipples getting so hard on his chest. He was appreciative, too, moaning and whining with each pull. Sometimes Bucky didn't even want to strip him, just wanted to see how far they could go just like this. But he'd demanded every inch of Steve, and he intended to claim it.

"Take them off," he growled, because it seemed like the sort of thing a man who was used to giving orders and not getting his hands dirty would do. He sat down on the foot of the bed to watch while Steve wriggled himself free. He peeled his stockings off first before turning to his pretty silk. It took rather longer than one would think to divest himself of that one, tiny garment, but he made a show of it: flashing his ass, the base of his cock, before he finally let it fall to the ground.

Bucky had seen Steve nude countless times - even earlier this evening - but it never failed to send a rush of lust through him. He watched Steve with hungry eyes, holding out his greedy hands to collect his prize. Steve came to him without hesitation, climbing into Bucky's lap. Somehow, he made it delicious instead of ridiculous, a man of his size straddling Bucky's thighs.

"You wanted every inch," Steve murmured, leaning down to deliver his words directly to Bucky's ear. His breath was hot, the tip of his tongue flicking out to tease the shell of his ear. "It's yours. What will you do with me now?"

Bucky needed a moment to swallow, clear his mind of the fog that had settled between his ears, but there had been only one thing on his mind since he awoke, and he intended to collect.

Carefully, he guided Steve off his lap, coaxing him to stretch out in bed. And Bucky proceeded to claim what was, for the night, his; he tasted whatever skin he could reach, kissing every inch from the soles of Steve's feet (making him twitch and stifle a giggle) to his heavy balls. He nuzzled there for a while; Steve was pristinely clean, always and everywhere, but there was a faint sweaty musk that even a pleasure house's stringent hygiene couldn't remove entirely. That was the scent Bucky yearned for the, the taste he craved the most. He nipped the insides of Steve's thighs, sucked his balls into his mouth, traced his tongue along the length of Steve's cock until he was slick and trembling.

"Bucky, please." Steve didn't sound like he was playing any longer. His toes curled against the bed, and Bucky watched how his calves flexed. "Let me, please."

Bucky squeezed his eyes shut, pressing his cheek to Steve's thigh, tensed under him from the effort of holding back. "Whatever you want, Steve. You don't need my permission."

He was startled by a hand at the base of his neck, and at Steve's strength as he hauled him in for a kiss. The reminder of how much unused power lay coiled in this body, practically a work of art, made Bucky's cock twitch unexpectedly. He gave himself wholeheartedly to the kiss, letting Steve steal that elusive muskiness from his lips and tongue.

They rocked together like boys, artless and needy. Bucky had never seen Steve so undone. It was as though his training, years of experience, had melted away and left only a man behind. A man who came with a filthy grunt, spilling over Bucky's hip in a way he never had. He was always painfully careful to contain his own mess, but now his seed was hot on Bucky's skin, a primal brand that he wished he could keep forever.

It was that thought that brought him to his own release, practically untouched. All evening, he had done nothing but grind against the bed, never feeling Steve's hand or mouth on his cock, just the hollow of his hip at the very end. It should have been embarrassing at best, to waste his time with the city's most celebrated courtesan on an act youths across the empire participated in freely. But it was the second best orgasm of Bucky's life; following only the first time Steve allowed him to come inside him.

He slumped against the hard muscle and comforting strength of Steve's body. Even as the come on his hip grew tacky and cool, he made no move to wipe himself clean. He could feel Steve's breathing slow and even out as they both came down from the sexual high.

"This," Steve mumbled into Bucky's sweaty hair, so quietly that Bucky almost missed it, "is why you're my favorite."

Bucky closed his eyes and smiled.