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Legs As White as Sugar, Candy on the Window Sill

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People come from all over town to see the main attraction at Tony Stark’s joint, The Marvel. Technically, its proper name is a “male entertainment facility”, and even more to the point than that, it’s known as the best male strip club in all of New York, but Mr. Stark has always seen his establishment as more of a jack of all trades than just a place to see some strippers. You want a lap dance? You can pay for that. You want some professional bartending with top quality liquor at affordable prices? You can pay for that. You want to play some pool, or air hockey, or darts? Or maybe go to the second floor, where there’s a separate dance floor for your own club-going experience? You can have all that, too. During the day on weekends, they even offer group and solo pole dancing lessons from their very best in that area, Sam Wilson. At The Marvel, there’s very little you can’t do, and a whole lot of fun to be had.

People come from out of state to see the main attraction at Tony Stark’s joint – and there’s a very good reason for that. Because while every dancer has their own flair and is good at what they do, there are also elements they all have that are very much the same. The men are all waxed smooth and “pornstar” sexy; strutting out onto the stage and wowing the crowd with impressive pole routines and over-the-top dance moves to the quick tempo beats of what could be called every club’s Top 40. They’re all entertaining to watch, and you’ll never get bored – but admittedly, by the fifth or sixth performer, you can anticipate the drill.

But no one ever does get bored – because they always know what they have to look forward to at the end of the night.

Stark always leaves him until the end of the rotation. It builds up the most anticipation and by the time his biggest asset takes the stage, the whole house is packed with men and women alike, fighting to get a good view because they’ve all heard the stories. The Marvel is not some sort of members-exclusive Gentleman’s Club, or some swanky joint that’s too expensive to afford. It lives up to its high standards and reviews, thanks to the overall experience of all those there to provide pleasure and entertainment. Whether that’s Lucas (call him Loki, or you’ll get snark all night), Mr. Stark’s catlike British husband, serving your drinks – or “Hawkeye Hot Guy” Clint Barton pumping out the beats and DJing the evening for you; there’s even a lot to be said about the place’s smallest but deadliest bouncer, Natasha. And Mr. Stark roams the joint every night too, making small talk with the crowd and even taking shots with them. If you go to The Marvel and don’t have one of the best nights of your life, it’s company policy that you get either a free lap dance on the house (with a dancer of your choice) or free admission for four consecutive Saturdays (their most profitable night of the week).

Sometimes, people will try to lie about having a bad time just so they can try and get their hands on that free lap dance – because everyone there has their eye on the main attraction.  

They call him The Winter Soldier. Not one person in that joint who doesn’t work there could tell you his real name; all everyone knows is that he’s been with The Marvel family for two years and is the only dancer not to get as touchy-feely with the clients after his set. Yeah, he strolls around and makes conversation, and he can flirt as effortlessly as he can dance, but there’s something also guarded about him. It’s in his eyes - as if he’ll offer the people exactly what they want, but he’ll never let them see 100% of who he is, not ever.

For all intents and purposes, it’s hard to pinpoint why exactly The Winter Soldier’s routine is considered so hypnotic and enticing. Perhaps it’s because, with him, there’s no flashy lights, or glittery costumes, or over the top dance routines. He breaks the status quo, with something gritty, down-and-dirty, about his performances. Every night, it never fails.

At the end of every rotation, the grand finale is The Winter Soldier. The lights cut out so the joint is filled with nothing but darkness, and then the first chords of an acoustic guitar fill the room. No matter how many times The Winter Soldier changes his other two songs in his set list – they all perform three – his opener always remains the same. Whereas all the others pick popular dubstep songs, or club music, or something with a fast beat that gets your heart pumping while you yourself could dance to it, The Winter Soldier’s music forces you to take a screeching halt. Everything he dances to is purely instrumental; he prefers slower beats, heavy on the guitars, always with something a little different about the sound.

No one knows how he finds the stage in pure blackness, especially without bumping into anyone, but every time the first light comes on – a single red light that flashes from above and illuminates the stage – he’s standing dead center, head down and shoulder-length brown hair hanging in his face. His sudden presence throws you off while also overwhelming you; it’s no surprise that one of the things that gets spread when word flies around town about The Marvel is how the main attraction “might as well be a ghost”.

Usually, strippers’ choice of costumes get somewhat explained in the act, whether it’s through their dancing or their song choices. With The Winter Soldier, there’s no way to tell for sure why he always comes out wearing his trademark military garments – heavy combat boots, black tactical fatigues, even (sometimes) a peaked cap. He only wears the peaked cap if he decides to wear his hair back in a low ponytail that night. Some nights, his eyes are streaked with war paint; others, his skin is smeared with different shades of green camouflage. Most of the time, he comes bared as himself – something that translates into his entire routine.

Perhaps this is why he’s the main attraction, night after night – and not a single other stripper minds. Because they’re all a family at The Marvel, and they get it. All they have to do is watch him; listen to the slow, drawn-out chords of his chosen music – that at first, always seem out of place with the overall vibe of the atmosphere before they suck you in and leave you breathless… Watch, the way The Winter Soldier never looks any of the viewers in the eye while he slowly gyrates his body and moves his hips in the most sensual dance you could ever witness in a strip club… How he becomes slowly misted with sweat as he works his clothes off on by one, eventually baring that fully tattooed left arm that drives everyone crazy; elongating his body this way and that as his hair falls in his face and the soft red and blue lights he chooses (rather than the bright, quick, flashy ones) make the stubble on his jaw shadow and darken with the right angle.

The Winter Soldier’s dances are so popular because you never really feel like he’s doing it for the crowd; he’s so good at what he does – such a professional – that you almost feel like a voyeur to his most intimate experience. Because no one knows if he’s just that good at faking it every night or if it’s entirely sincere, but the way The Winter Soldier’s eyes are always a little shielded when he roams the floor and socializes completely contradicts the naked vulnerability in them whenever he takes the stage. The way he’ll arch his back slowly off the ground… takes everything slow as if always exploring the very depths of his body and soul… runs his hands along his chest, his clavicles, through his hair while he sways his hips in a way no man as rugged-looking as him should be capable of doing… and he gets these looks when he moves, puts his hands on himself, always steering clear of anything below the waist but constantly teasing at it. He’ll cards his fingers through his long brunet tresses and close his eyes as top teeth sink into the flesh of his pouty bottom lip, and you feel as though he’s fucking you from where he stands.

But he never looks at the crowd. Everything he does up there is made to look like it’s all for him; like he’s revealing himself, stripping down in front of you in far more ways than just by removing the layers that keep him clothed and contained. When he finally finishes, you either have goosebumps, wet panties, or a hard-on.

There really is no in between.

On the first Saturday of the new month, Tony tells The Marvel family that they have a new addition coming on board for a sort of “trial period”. He’d been away from work a few nights that week, leaving Loki and one of his partners (award-winning burlesque dancer-turned-business woman, Pepper Potts) in charge while he’d been away. Turns out he’d been sent a rather impressive resume and set of headshots from a prospective new employee from over at another strip club on the Brooklyn side. So Tony had gone out there to check out the guy’s routines and see if he was someone worth considering. From what he tells them all, he was. 

Bucky hangs out between Natasha and Clint when they’re all told, sipping from a glass of whiskey lazily. Because they’re such a tight-knit group, everyone’s always a little weary whenever someone new comes on board; no one wants the vibe or atmosphere they’ve established to get disturbed. Even Loki, who rarely has a non-acidic comment to give anyone other than Tony, gets a little territorial on behalf of everyone else when it happens. But Tony assures them that, from what he’s seen, this guy will fit right in.

“Where’s he coming from?” Clint asks curiously. They’re all familiar with pretty much every strip club in the state, both the good and the bad.

S.H.I.E.L.D,” Tony replies, and even Bucky can’t help but be a little impressed (not that he lets it show). They’re considered The Marvel’s competition, except that everyone knows that theirs is the better joint. S.H.I.E.L.D (standing for Seduction & Handcuffs Included in Every Lap Dance, which Bucky had been told had started as a joking slogan for the club when it was first established), while providing tasteful and provocative services from their assortment of male dancers, was also a tightly-run ship. The club’s owner, Nick Fury, had a strange relationship with Tony Stark, namely in that the two respect each other as passionately as neither can stand one another. They disagree with the other’s personal policies; while Fury feels that The Marvel is run more like a fraternity party than a professional establishment, Tony believes the former needs to “sorely remove the stick up his ass before it stabs something important.”

Still, the talent at S.H.I.E.L.D is irrefutable. Sam asks Tony why the new guy left – was he being fired, or was the choice his own? Tony assures them all that the decision was 100% voluntary, chalking it up to he and Fury no longer seeing eye-to-eye on things.

“He’s a wee little thing – thought I was gonna have to ask him to show me some I.D. when I first met him,” Tony muses, pulling out his phone to check his texts when it vibrates. “We may have to break him in a bit, though; he didn’t laugh when I innocently called him Miley Cyrus. I trust you’ll all explain to him that I’m hilarious and if he wants to work for me, he should really be laughing at my jokes.”

Loki snorts under his breath. Bucky and Natasha exchange smirks while Clint whispers a comment to a few of the others about how perfecting his fake laugh was the only reason he ever survived the three-month probation. Tony rolls his eyes, still focused on his phone, but can’t help the little amused smile on his lips.

“What’s his name?” Natasha asks coolly.

“Uhhhh…” Tony swipes his thumb over the screen, drawing out the syllable while Bucky assumes he pulls up the new guy’s resume in his emails. “Steve Rogers.”

That night, when Bucky lays eyes on Steve Rogers for the first time, he completely understands why Tony had thought him to be underage. The kid stands no taller than 5’4” and probably weighs a hundred pounds soaking wet. He also looks like the exact opposite of what you’d expect from a stripper; he wears snuggly-fitting black jeans and a plaid red shirt, opened up to reveal a simple white tee. His golden hair is short everywhere but his bangs, which side-sweep across his forehead beneath a black beanie. He also wears thick-rimmed black glasses (and Bucky isn’t completely certain whether they’re for legitimate medical purposes or just to complete the “look”). He looks like a goddamn high schooler rather than a grown man – rather than an exotic dancer, a fucking stripper. 

Except for his voice. Bucky doesn’t get the chance to meet him properly at first, not with all the running around he’s expected to do to entertain the crowd when he’s not hitting the stage. He watches Sam show the kid around, and Steve’s all polite smiles and checking out every inch of the place with big eyes, as if dissecting it apart for a science experiment. Seriously, Bucky isn’t convinced yet that this guy isn’t really seventeen-fucking-years-old. But then he catches the end of Sam’s sentence and Steve laughs, and Bucky has to do a double-take.

His voice is deep – far too deep for the little body it’s coming out of. And then Steve’s talking, and Bucky can’t hear any of the specifics, but he can hear the tone, and it’s rich and full and surprisingly sexy. He realizes he’s been staring as he leans forward against the bar top, and he hopes that no one’s watching, but he still doesn’t tear his eyes away. Could those pants be any tighter? Bucky knows all about skinny jeans – he owns about seven pairs himself – but this is a little ridiculous. The strobe lights have kicked in, so it takes a bit of effort, but he manages to catch a quick glance at Steve’s ass. It looks tiny, but it could just be compressed in those painted-on pants of his. Bucky wonders what he looks like when he’s peeling them off. He wonders what the kid would look like if Bucky were peeling them off for him.

“You’re staring,” Natasha suddenly says, appearing as if from nowhere and leaning her back to the ledge with that knowing little smirk.

“And Stark’s positive this kid ain’t underage?” Bucky asks over the music that’s just started up. His eyes continue to follow Steve, who’s now being introduced to Clint; shaking the DJ’s hand.

“Apparently he’s twenty-four,” the redhead answers nonchalantly, glancing at her fingernails.

Bucky gives a small nod. “Good, ‘cause I don’t wanna go to jail for fuckin’ him into my mattress.”

Natasha snorts under her breath; knowing her friend and his late night endeavours way too well. “Have you even said one word to him yet?”

Bucky glances at her and gives her a charming little smirk. “All in good time, doll."

“Hey, what did I tell you about calling me that?” Natasha snaps, feigning a threatening demeanour. “You want me to break your other wrist?”

“That was one time, and I got distracted,” Bucky insists, thinking back to the night they’d all drank too much and he’d made the mistake of challenging the redhead (whom he’d drunkenly kept calling “doll” because it was hilarious watching her get so worked up about it) to an arm wrestling contest; boasting that he’d win simply because he underestimated her strength as a woman. She pushed his hand one way and he’d clumsily pushed to move it another, and the result had his wrist in a cast for three months.   

Natasha reaches out and messes up his hair with one hand, smirking with slightly pursed lips, and Bucky ducks away to fix it, unable to stop himself from glancing around to see if Steve noticed. He doesn’t know why he feels disappointed when Natasha casually mentions that the blond hadn’t even looked over; he’s still too busy still talking with Clint, now joined by a chattering Tony.

“Anyways, we don’t even know if he’s got a boyfriend or not,” Natasha says, eyes now sweeping around the club to make sure there’s nothing she needs to break up.

“So he’s for sure gay?” Bucky replies, shamelessly letting his eyes travel back to the new guy’s cute little ass while he images what that skinny body would look like flushed and naked on his bed. He usually doesn’t go for the twinks – they’re not his cup of tea – but this one has something about him that just makes Bucky want to sneak him into one of the back rooms and get his own private lap dance.

Natasha hums. “That’s just my guess, but I suppose he could be straight. He could have a girlfriend.”

“I don’t even care; I’ll fuck him anyway,” Bucky groans, forcing his eyes away to hold up two fingers to Loki, gesturing for his usual. The raven-haired bartender, true to his nature, pours the drink and slides it to Bucky, but other than that, they say nothing to each other. Bucky grabs the glass and pounds it back in one big gulp.

Natasha watches him and raises a brow. “Easy, soldier. Don’t get too sloshed before your grand finale.”

Bucky watches Tony lead Steve around the back of the main room and then into the back section; the one that’s off limits to the crowd, reserved and private rooms for the dancers to get ready before their acts. The possibility that Steve might be taking the stage soon fills him with a raw excitement he can’t remember feeling since he was a teenager. He holds up two more fingers and though Loki gives him a flat look, Bucky’s glass is refilled regardless. Before chugging it down, he shoots Natasha another quick look.

“Tell that to my dick after I’ve seen him naked.”

Steve’s a fucking little tease. The worst part is he knows it. 

The party gets warmed up with one of their newer guys, Grant (“The Warden”), before “Thor and his magic hammer, Mjölnir” singlehandedly makes every woman in the place pregnant. “It’s a motherfuckin’ immaculate conception, ladies and gentleman,” Bucky mutters under his breath and Sam barks out a laugh. But then Sam’s hitting the stage, and Bucky can’t stop the grin from spreading across his face whenever he watches the cocky prick strut his stuff. Sam’s a born natural – full of energy and charm, and an ease with which he takes his clothes off. Sam’s one of the few dancers there who’s completely straight, but even he makes his show just as much for the fellas as he does the ladies. He’s always a riot to behold.

When his third set is over, Sam waggles his eyebrows and shakes his ass, gaining another clamber of cheers from the crowd. Grabbing his costume, he heads off the stage and into the back rooms to put on something suitable to walk back around in. Bucky knows that Tony’s chosen the lineup carefully tonight; he’ll still be last, but it’s been a strategic ploy to work the audience up so that they’ll go easier on the new guy. Bucky isn’t so sure that’ll be a problem, but you still never know how good they’ll be until you see them perform for the first time.

After what feels like way too long and also not long enough, Clint quiets the music and drawls into the mic charismatically, “Okay, okay, okay! We got a newcomer for you all tonight, ladies and gentlemen, and I just know how much you all love fresh meat.” The crowd erupts into cheers and applause; Clint chuckles while Bucky stays by the bar, straightening with a tiny shiver of anticipation. “Alright guys, give it up for New York’s own American Golden Boy, Steve E.!”

Bucky frowns, brows coming together in confusion. Steve didn’t even think to use a stage name? Did this kid have any thought for self-preservation? Maybe a little regard for his own personal life? Of course, all those thoughts die the second he sees the sight before him.

‘Cause Steve’s still got those fucking black-rimmed glasses on, but the beanie’s gone and his hair is perfectly styled like one of those rich kids whose parents could afford to send them to prep school. Bucky’s zipper scrapes against his sudden and uncontrollable erection when Steve walks onto the stage wearing a motherfucking schoolboy uniform – white button-up tee shirt and tie and fucking crest and everything.

And then Bucky outright groans when the chords to his first song start up and it’s “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails – one of his favourite songs. The lyrics completely betray his pristine, cookie-cutter getup… And then Steve starts to move. Steve Rogers is a goddamn motherfucking cocktease who knows exactly how he looks to everyone else’s eyes. He plays up his shyness through every step; turning the routine into more of a burlesque dance than a pornographic strip show. His cheeks actually blush pink when he starts to undo the buttons of his shirt to the beat of the music, but even from across the room, Bucky can see the glint in his eyes, and there’s no bashfulness to what Steve’s doing right now. He’s in complete control.

Finding his spot at the bar way too far all of a sudden, Bucky finds himself approaching the stage slowly, unable to take his eyes off the skinny blond. Steve locks eyes with a random man in the audience – peering from over his shoulder as he slides the white shirt over his shoulder, exposing the skin. His baby blues are fucking doe-eyed, and his cheeks are rosy again, as if he’s silently asking the audience whether or not he should do it. Bucky stops a few feet away from the stage and swallows hard, his mouth suddenly dry. He wants to scrape his teeth over the skin of that shoulder; feel the knobby joint underneath.

Steve keeps up the act the entire way through the routine. When the shirt’s finally off and he’s in his slacks and tie, Bucky’s eyes trail along his smooth, scrawny abdomen. His back looks a little deformed – Bucky guesses the kid might have some form of scoliosis or something – but he’s no less attractive. And it definitely doesn’t stop him from moving his body exactly the way he needs to, to make the crowd get bigger.

Because by the time Steve’s practically naked, he’s rolling his hips and grinding his backside against the pole with closed eyes (and oh, God yes, everything about him is small except the appendage between his legs), and the place is almost as packed as it is for one of the Winter Soldier’s performances. Bucky couldn’t really care less how many people are there at the moment; all he wants is to make Steve hold onto that pole while he forces the schoolboy’s tight little asshole to stretch wide around his dick until he has Steve screaming.

By the second song, Julien K’s“Systeme de Sexe”, the crowd is in an excited uproar as Steve arches and moves his body sensually along the floor in between impressive acrobatics on the pole. None of his movements are overly rushed or over the top, and somehow, even when he runs his hands over his body and bites his lip as his eyes scan everyone in the crowd, he wills another motherfucking blush to his cheeks as though he were a goddamn innocent virgin. He never even takes off the glasses.

And Bucky gets it; gets exactly why Steve was popular back at his old workplace. And he curses the day Tony Stark ever hired this kid because Bucky’s cock is aching in his pants and the only thing he wants to do right now is the only thing he can’t have at the moment. But Bucky always gets what he wants eventually, so he also thinks he’ll never be able to thank his boss enough.

When the third song finally ends, the place goes nuts. Steve rubs the back of his head and chuckles under his breath before grabbing his clothes and heading out of the room. Bucky tries to run back to the bar to get a few more drinks in him because fuck, he’s so horny he can barely see straight, but then Tony cuts him off with an incredulous look.

“Are you still fucking out here?” he asks with blatant surprise. “You’re on next, Barnes; get the fuck backstage!”

“Shit, sorry,” Bucky mutters, not having realized he’d lost track. Tony says it’s alright and slaps him on the back and Bucky really wishes he could bring the bottle of whiskey with him but duty calls.

He takes out his frustrations in his routine, making it raunchier and grittier than ever. As usual, he’s the night’s greatest hit. No one bothers to even clap or cheer between his songs because they’re all so enthralled by The Winter Soldier’s presence, dripping of sex appeal. He never usually looks around when he’s on stage but this time he can’t help it; sneaking peeks to see if the new guy is getting to enjoy his show. But he can’t seem to catch a glimpse of Steve.

It turns out that that’s because the new guy spends most of the night fulfilling order after order of private lap dances. Bucky can’t say he’s surprised; Clint wasn’t lying, the crowd always did love new meat. And Steve’s probably the most scandalous stripper they’ve ever had at The Marvel. That night, Steve brings in the most money in lap dances. Clearly there are a lot of men there who get off on the idea of having some underage-looking twink grinding up against their crotches.

Bucky should know.

Bucky never expected his first real interaction with Steve to end in disaster – by his standards – but it does. When the night’s coming to a close and it’s substantially less full in the joint, Bucky gets five minutes to relax back at the bar ledge and take his time nursing a drink. Steve walks up, wearing only his underwear and tie, and politely asks for a beer. Loki just looks up at him over the top of the book he’s reading and then back down, ignoring him. 

Steve frowns, and when Bucky glances at him, they exchange a small, awkward smile. Steve doesn’t really look like he knows what he’s supposed to do, so Bucky rolls his eyes at Loki and says, “C’mon, dude, don’t be such a dick; get the new guy his beer.”

Loki snaps the book shut at that and mutters something under his breath, but he grabs a bottle of Corona and hands it to Steve. “Barnes, you watch the bar for a minute, I’m taking my five.”

“Then that’s not really a minute, is it?” Bucky pokes.

Loki glares at him. “Just watch the damn bar,” he snaps. Bucky throws up his hands in surrender, pretending to be scared, and replies, “Fine.”

It isn’t until he leaves that Bucky realizes he’s now alone with Steve. Now, Bucky has moves; Bucky has a whole plethora of moves. He could write a goddamn book about how to read a stranger in under five minutes; how to charm your way into someone’s pants. For reasons he never talks about, Bucky’s not the type to do relationships – it had been that way since long before he started working for Stark. He’s not good with sentiment – never really felt he’s all that good at being an ear, or a shoulder to cry on – and he really has no desire get to know anyone beyond a certain point unless they’re his friends. He’s not good at relationships.

What he is good at is sex; was fucking made for it. He lives for the feeling of someone else’s body wrapped around him – for that carnal desire and animalistic chase that ends in screaming, sweating, and writhing. Men or women, Bucky doesn’t limit himself. He can find any body beautiful, and if he finds it beautiful, he can make it his for the night.

And he’s a professional, but he’s also still there to have fun – it’s not like he has one of those “no sleeping with a co-worker” policies. Hell, he fucked Clint the first night the two met. And though it took him a few weeks to work the guy up to it, was finally able to seduce Thor into plowing Bucky into the floor of his apartment; so rough and so hard that his back had pretty impressive carpet burn for days. Bucky usually preferred to top whenever he had some fun with someone of the same sex, but there’s a reason Thor’s act highlights his “magic hammer, Mjölnir”. The guy’s hung like a horse, and Bucky would’ve had to have been crazy not to want to impale himself on that thing and ride it until all hours of the night.

The sex never made anything weird or awkward with Clint or Thor, because one thing Bucky isn’t is a liar. He can tell within five minutes of meeting someone whether they’ll reject him, or throw themselves at him, or if he’ll have to work for it. But if he feels he’s got the green light, he never gives anyone false hope. And luckily for him, a lot of those he’d messed around with in the past had been looking for the same simplicity, too. He’s even made a lot of friends over the years that had only begun as one night stands. It’s just sex, just freeing ourselves to have a little fun.

And fuck, Bucky wants to have some fun with Steve. All night long and maybe into the morning and afternoon, if he can make the kid get it up that many times.

Steve doesn’t give him the chance. He’s casually leaned forward, resting his elbows on the bar top and taking a swig from his beer when he says, “So how did I do?”

Bucky clears his throat and looks to the empty stage, remembering every detail. “You looked great,” he replies. “You certainly know what you’re doing.” He holds out one hand. “James Barnes, The Winter Soldier.” As much as he wants to make Steve come so hard he cries, they’re still complete strangers – meaning that Steve doesn’t get the right to Bucky’s nickname, not yet.

Steve smiles and shakes his hand. “Steve Rogers, America’s Golden Boy, I guess.”

“Didn’t you come up with your own stage name?”

“Nah; got it at my old job. It was alright, I guess, so I stuck with it.”

“Good, ‘cause I was gonna say – Steve E. is a terrible stage name.”

Steve doesn’t blink quickly or get offended; he just keeps his gaze on Bucky’s face and gets a small smirk. “Oh yeah? Why’s that?”

“'Cause the point of a stage name is so no one knows your real name, genius. Go by your real name and you kinda defeat the point of it.”  

Steve seems to consider that. But his smirk only grows bigger. He tilts the mouth of his bottle at the brunet. “Your stage name is The Winter Soldier, right?”


“And Grant, he’s The Warden. What’s Sam’s again?”

“Wham Bam Cam,” Bucky replies.

“And Thor – what’s his real name?”

“I don’t know,” Bucky admits, and they both chuckle. “He just goes by Thor; that’s how he was introduced to me when I started here.”

“Even the DJ has a stage name,” Steve says. “My point is, everyone here goes by a fake name and the entire crowd knows it. So if I go up and call myself Steve E., do you really think they’re gonna believe that’s the name my ma gave me, bless her soul?”

Bucky lets out a thoughtful “huh”; he hadn’t actually thought about it that way. “That’s actually sort of brilliant,” he says with a grin, holding up his glass for Steve to cheers. “Are you sure you’re not really a schoolboy? Because you may just be a little too smart to be here.”

Steve chuckles and clinks the neck of his beer bottle to Bucky’s glass. “More than just a pretty face, I guess,” he says, but his voice falls flat, as if talking that way about himself makes him uncomfortable. Bucky watches the way the blond’s throat works to swallow down the bitter booze, and shit, he’s staring again. He can’t help it; he wants to see what those lips would look like wrapped around a nice hard cock.

Preferably his, but at this point, he’s not really picky. He clears his throat.

“You live around here?” he asks smoothly.

“Enhh, so-so. It’s about a ten minute bike ride.”

Bucky laughs. “A bike? K, starting to believe less and less that you’re not actually a schoolboy.”

Steve rolls his eyes, but one corner of his mouth is tugged up in a lopsided grin. “A motorcycle, Barnes. I ride a Harley.”

And that’s the story of how Bucky’s brain short-circuited.

Because this little scrawny thing, riding a big – vibrating – Harley? Yeah, Bucky needs to get this kid to his apartment now. Or Steve’s place. Or around the fucking building on top of a trashcan, he really doesn’t care anymore.

“Y’know, if you’re not doin’ anything after this, maybe--”

“I’m not gonna sleep with you, Barnes.”

Simple as that. Weirdly, no revulsion or offense taken on Steve’s part; mainly just a public statement. Bucky’s thrown back by it; stares at Steve, who’s looking ahead now at one of the TV’s above the bar, playing a baseball game. He takes another sip from his bottle. Bucky tries to pull the reigns back in a bit, save face.

“I didn’t even--”

Steve gives him a polite little smile. “You slept with six separate coworkers of mine in the first eight months I worked there. You’re kind of a legend around town. People sure do love to talk.” Bucky doesn’t understand why Steve seems to give him an almost apologetic look at that – as if Steve feels bad for the things that have been gossiped about him, even if they both know they’re true. The worst part is, this hasn’t really happened in a long time – this whole rejection thing – so Bucky doesn’t even know what to say.

“Hey, I’m not judging,” Steve says with a small smile and a shrug. “You’re a grown man; you’re allowed to do the whole ‘sow all your wild oats’ thing if that’s what makes you happy. I’m just not into that, sorry. When I finally sleep with someone, it ain’t gonna be a one night stand.”

For a second, the words don’t sink in. Then his eyes widen and his mouth falls open. “You’ve never had sex?”

“Nope,” Steve replies easily, looking back up at the TV. This conversation doesn’t seem to phase him at all; as if he’s had it a million times before.

“You’re a virgin?”

“That’s usually what you are if you’ve never had sex, yes,” Steve laughs.

Bucky doesn’t get it. “But you’re a stripper.”

Steve shrugs. “So? I’m a stripper, not a porn star. S’not like they’re paying me to have sex around here.” He pauses and shoots Bucky a side look. “…They don’t make us do that, right?”

Bucky shakes his head quickly. “No, not that kinda joint, don’t worry. So… wow, you’re actually serious, aren’t ya? A virgin?”

Steve gives him a weird look, but he’s still smiling. “You’re lookin’ at me like I have two heads – not having had sex before ain’t exactly uncommon. Don’t forget, we all start off as one. Technically, that makes virginity the norm more than it’s not. You might even say it’s the ‘cool’ thing to be.” He snorts at his own joke and swallows another large mouthful of beer – yet Bucky gulps when he watches that Adam’s apple in the blond’s throat bob again.

Because Bucky’s awful; he’s a real rotten prick because knowing that Steve’s a virgin only makes Bucky want to fuck him more. He also despises himself for getting so riled up over the fact that Steve’s turning him down. Saying no – like Steve doesn’t need him – and Bucky’s not used to feeling like that. He’s used to getting what he wants. He’s an asshole and real fucked up, he thinks, because he never knew how badly he craved being made to feel worthless like this until just this moment.

Steve doesn’t need him. So Bucky naturally wants to prove to Steve just how badly that isn’t true that much more.

“Any particular reason?” he asks, trying to keep his tone light; innocent.

Steve shrugs. “I mean, I’ve thought about it. And it’s not like I haven’t done stuff before. I’m just holding off.”

“For what?”

Steve finishes his beer and puts the bottle down on the ledge. He smiles at Bucky, getting up from off his stool. “The right partner,” he says. “Nice to meet you, James Barnes. I guess I’ll be seeing you a lot more now.”

And as he watches Steve go, Bucky thinks, Oh God, I hope so.

They see each other practically every night. Over the course of Steve’s probation period, they develop a friendship. Everyone loves Steve, and even though he still doesn’t laugh at all of Tony’s jokes, it’s clear that their boss has a fondness for the kid, despite his awful jokes and usual jabs. Bucky even catches Steve able to get a few solid sentences of conversation out of Loki one night. Of course, Loki pretends he hates everybody, but that evening, he’d grabbed Bucky’s arm when the latter was reaching out to grab a drink, and said under his breath, “Stop trying to pursue him. Don’t fuck this up for him or I’ll make sure my husband fires you." 

It’s an empty threat and they both know it, because there’s no way Tony would fire The Marvel’s greatest money-maker. Furthermore, Bucky knows that even Loki wouldn’t want to see him go; that he’s just being weirdly protective. Because that’s the thing – while they’ve been developing a friendship and getting to know each other, Bucky hasn’t cooled down on trying to win Steve over and convince him that getting into bed with him would be one of the best choices he ever made. He flirts wherever possible and makes no attempt to hide the hungry look on his face whenever Steve takes the stage each night and works it like a pro.

It’s not fair, really, because Steve’s up there, naked and rolling his body every night, looking as fucking delicious as he ever could, and it’s a constant reminder that he seems to be just about the one person Bucky can’t have - which, of course, only makes him want the kid more and more as the days pass. Steve still won’t put out, but he doesn’t get frustrated with Bucky’s persistence either. Just laughs and always calls out, “The answer’s still no, Buck” (because not only does he know the nickname by now, but then took to calling him by a nickname of the nickname).

And here’s the problem: little things like that that Steve does makes Bucky’s heart flutter. Natasha starts teasing him that he seems like the schoolboy with a schoolboy crush as his hungry and lusty stares start to become something a bit more moon-eyed and adoring more often than not. Bucky denies it for the longest time because he doesn’t do emotions. The last time he did, he got nothing but hurt.

It all comes to a boil when Stark throws a private little party for The Marvel family upon the completion of Steve’s trial period. It’s not like anyone had any doubts that Steve would be brought on board for good – they pretty much all knew it by the end of his first week – but Tony had insisted the trial period was just a formality anyways.

There’s a lot of drinking involved, and Bucky likes to think that drunk actions are sober thoughts, because somehow near the end of the night, he’s got Steve in one of the back rooms meant for private dances. It’d started with a litany of suggestive comments about how Bucky wanted to see what all the fuss was about; why so many customers always wanted lap dances from Steve. By the time they were both plied with a good amount of Jack Daniels, Steve couldn’t stop laughing, and Bucky couldn’t stop laughing, and then Steve had grabbed his hand and suddenly Bucky was sitting in a solitary chair in a small cube no bigger than a shoe closet, watching Steve strip off his shirt and pants to the beat of the music bleeding in from the other room.

It’s sloppy and they’re both wasted, and there’s a no touching rule when they’re working, but they’re not working, so Bucky lets his hands roam along Steve’s sides and then clutch his hips when the blond expertly circles his ass against Bucky’s crotch. They’re breathing loudly and Bucky’s at full mast, and he doesn’t think it’s all in his head that Steve grinds himself down harder. Bucky breathes out expletives as he watches that cute little backside move in all the right ways against him, and then he’s moaning and letting his head fall back.

As most stories like that tend to go, what starts off as a lap dance turns into Steve straddling Bucky, which turns into them drunkenly making out. Steve may be a virgin, but he’s definitely had his fair share of experience with kissing, because he does that just about as perfectly as he does anything else Bucky’s seen him do with his body. Their hands fly everywhere. Steve feels amazing under Bucky’s fingers – all smooth skin and boney dips and angles – and Bucky’s sure that they’re about to fuck right there on the chair with Steve sitting on him, when the blond suddenly shoves Bucky back with a worried look on his face. Bucky hadn’t realized Steve’s breathing had grown so erratic.

“Shit, Steve, you okay?” Bucky slurs, instantly feeling panicked.

“My inhaler,” Steve gasps, pointing to his pants on the ground. “I need – I need, that.”

It’s a close call, but Steve doesn’t succumb to an asthma attack. Everyone who works there knows that Steve suffers from pretty intense asthma, but he’s never actually had an attack at work before. If he has, Bucky’s certainly never seen it. He watches Steve, now sitting on the ground in a little ball in the corner, playing with the inhaler in his hands while chewing his lip in thought… And somehow, all it had taken was for Bucky to see Steve sucking from that inhaler like the little dork he is for him to realize, fucking fuck, he has a goddamn crush on this guy. A big crush; a monster crush – because how else can an inhaler suddenly be the most adorable thing Bucky’s ever seen?

Apparently, Steve doesn’t pick up on it in the slightest.

“It’s probably a good thing we stopped,” he says quietly. He sighs. “Buck, you know I like you; you gotta know that by now. But…” His face looks momentarily pained and then he abruptly stands to his feet. Bucky’s eyes follow him. “I think we need to stay away from each other for a little while, okay?”

Bucky’s pulse immediately quickens. His brows knit in confusion as he tries to hide the panic from his face. This is why he doesn’t do the emotional shit; because the truth is, underneath all of his facades, the blasé attitude, and the sarcastic, witty quips, Bucky feels far too intensely. He’s a complete and utter sap for the people he cares about.

“Wait, what? Why?” he asks, standing now too.

“Because I like you, Buck,” Steve says impatiently, tugging his shirt back over his head before sticking his glasses back on. He looks around for his beanie; lost somewhere in the frenzy when Bucky had yanked it off his head as their tongues had beat together. “I –” Steve stops with surprise when he turns back to see Bucky holding it out gently for him to take. “Thank you,” Steve says softly, taking it and then putting it on his head.

“I don’t trust myself around you; I can’t,” he admits, face desperate. “I know who I am and I’ve always been secure in my beliefs and decisions. But when I’m with you… You make me want to turn my back on my morals. I can’t do that.” He gives Bucky a sad shrug. “This doesn’t mean the same thing to me as it does to you. I don’t want,” he waves his hand around in a useless gesture, “that. I don’t want meaningless sex and one night stands, and you only being interested in me until I put out. I associate sex with emotion – I always have. That’s why I’ve waited. It’s totally cool that you don’t do that whole thing, but I’m sorry, that’s not me.”

“I…” Bucky starts, and then realizes he doesn’t know how to finish that sentence. Frowning, his eyes trail down and he stares down at the floor. He can’t make sense of the things he’s feeling at the moment.

Steve forces a rueful smile. “We’re still cool; we’ll be fine. I just need some time to get over… whatever this is. We’ll still be friends. In the meantime though, it’d make things easier on me if you stopped hittin’ on me all the time, okay? Please?”

His tone is almost pleading, and Bucky’s heart sinks. He must’ve come off like a real dick this whole time if Steve’s really convinced that Bucky still only sees him as something to fuck; another notch in his bedpost. He guesses he owes it to Steve to give him what he’s asking for.

Clearing his throat, he says softly, “Uh, yeah. Yeah, that’s fine. For the record, I’m… I’m sorry, y’know?”

Steve nods, pressing his lips in a firm line. “Yeah, no, it’s cool,” he says too quickly. “Don’t worry about it. Okay, I’m, uh, I’m gonna head out, okay? I’ve sobered up I think,” he chuckles dryly to himself. “I just wanna head home.”

“But it’s your party,” Bucky says quickly, feeling like a true asshole.

“It’s fine, it’s late anyways,” Steve says, nodding and smiling a ghost of his usual smile before hastily saying goodnight and leaving the small room. For a while, Bucky can’t bring himself to follow. He just lets himself drop back into the seat, putting his head in his hands, and trying to figure out what just happened and re-evaluating what it is he wants.

By the time Bucky decides to be social again, Steve’s already long gone.

Steve doesn’t let what happened affect his performances each night, and he doesn’t let it sour his mood with everyone. What’s worse is that he’s still as friendly as ever to Bucky – as if nothing had even happened – and that makes Bucky feel strange because it’s been so long since he’s let himself feel this things for anyone and now Steve’s acting as if none of it matters. 

Bucky isn’t sure how many of them know about what happened between him and Steve; he told Natasha, because he tells Natasha everything, but he’s not sure about Steve. The guy doesn’t seem like the kind to kiss and tell – at least not tell the whole neighbourhood.

Natasha can see through Bucky better than anyone, so she realizes the way Bucky’s slowly changed over the time Steve’s been there; how laughs more, and smiles even more than that, and seems to come in to work every day with a renewed vigor and drive. She recognizes that being around Steve has made Bucky happier – but she’s also just a lousy as giving sympathetic advice as Bucky is. She tells him that he’ll figure out the right thing to do and everything will be alright, and Bucky snaps that he thought that having a female best friend was supposed to come with more perks than having a shitty pep talk. Natasha just shrugs and quips back that just because she’s a woman, no one’s ever made the mistake of thinking her a lady. Bucky gives her that one.

It turns out Steve must’ve spoken to Sam at some point – which makes sense, as the two get along and have grown quite close themselves – because Sam, who does not know the extent of Bucky’s feelings but is well aware of Bucky’s sexual prowess, wearily advises him to “listen to Steve about giving him some space; that they just don’t want the same things and Bucky needs to respect that.” Bucky just nods and says, “I know. I already gave my word.”

But the thing is… Bucky does want those things. He hadn’t thought he had at first – all he’d originally wanted was to get his dick warm and wet in Steve’s body so he could satiate that burning desire in him from the moment he’d laid eyes on that scrawny punk. But he realizes now that that’s what he wants. He wants to experience the cute little things with Steve that couples do, that he used to let himself experience; like hand-holding, or movie nights cuddled on one of their couches, or treating Steve to dinner. He can’t even remember the last time he’d cuddled, but he thinks Steve would be just the right fit in his tangle of arms, and he bets he’d feel real nice.

The problem is, he’s lost his touch when it comes to tapping into these emotions; he’s complete shit at being suave when it comes to the dating game. His charm is only effortless when there’s nothing more on the line than an eventual orgasm. The truth is: Bucky Barnes is completely awkward when it comes to dating, because he’s way too rusty. His rust has grown rust.

Which is why everyone’s thrown completely off guard – even Natasha, but seconds later her lips are pursing into a smirk – when they see Bucky approach Steve at the bar after the end of a shift one night, about three weeks later… and brings his hand out from behind his back to reveal one of the saddest looking bouquets any of them have ever seen. It’s not so much a bouquet as a handful of dying flowers that Bucky had clearly pulled from the ground. There were still roots and soil at the bottoms of the stems.

Steve stares at the flowers with a surprised expression, turning slightly to open himself up to Bucky.

“I talked myself out of this about ninety times throughout the night,” Bucky explains nervously. He’s trying not to let his hand shake or his anxiety show through. Steve starts to get a little smile. “Then by the time the shift ended, all the floral shops were closed. I’m sorry, I –” he sighs, shaking his head in disappointment. “I thought maybe if I got you a nice big thing of flowers, you’d be more willin’ to say yes.”

Steve narrows his eyes slightly. “Say yes to what?” he asks slowly.

“Do you think maybe you’d like to go out for dinner with me?” Bucky blurts out; a little too loud, because half of the staff can hear, and no one misses the way Tony does a little celebratory dance of his own in the background and Clint mutters, “Finally.”

“Dinner?” Steve asks, as if testing the word out. He looks at Bucky with mild confusion.

“I wanna take you on a date,” the brunet clarifies. “You told me once that you hadn’t been asked to dinner since your second year of college. I thought maybe you’d like to go with me.”

“You remembered that?”

Bucky nods. He’s still holding the “flowers” in his hand and he wishes Steve would take them because he’s starting to grow more and more convinced that he’s about to be shot down again. A sign would be nice, if it was actually pointing to the contrary.

Steve reaches out a hand and takes the flowers. He gives them a gentle smile, his eyes bright, and he even smells them. “I love ‘em,” he says quietly, and Bucky wonders how long it must have been since someone gave Steve flowers if he’s impressed by that crap display. He wonders suddenly if Steve’s ever been given flowers before.

Steve meets Bucky’s eyes and nods. “Dinner sounds nice.”

On their first mutual night off (which Bucky isn’t totally certain Tony didn’t intentionally plan in order to help play Matchmaker), Bucky picks up Steve in his beat up Honda Civic and takes him out to dinner. They make good money doing what they do, but they’re still by no means rich; still, Bucky takes him to the nicest place he can afford. He realizes that in order to show Steve that he actually cares about him as a person, he needs to make a deliberate effort to show even more of an interest in getting to know more about who Steve is. So he asks questions. 

He learns that Steve used to be a terrible dancer – always had two left feet, the blond insists – but his mother wanted him to get involved with an extracurricular activity that could give him some exercise. Sports were too strenuous, and most forms of dancing were too fast-paced; Steve’s lungs wouldn’t have been able to keep up. So he’d gotten into ballet, but he was awful at it. He kept up with it so his mom’s kind gesture wouldn’t go to waste until he was fourteen, and then he switched to belly dancing. Bucky laughs at that because he pictures Steve wearing a beading skirt and coconut bra, but Steve just smacks his arm playfully and tells him he clearly knows nothing about that style of dance.

“The point,” Steve chuckles, over Bucky who can’t stop cracking up, “is that it was slow enough that I still got a work out from it but it didn’t increase my heart too bad. Eventually I learned how to dance and decided to take some poll dance lessons for fun when I started college.”

Bucky finishes the bite in his mouth and then shakes his head a bit. “I still don’t really get it, though. I mean, why stripping?”

Because Steve’s mom had been incredibly sick, it turns out. She’d put all of her savings into her son’s school tuition and refused to let him drop out when their financial situation got tight. So Steve tried finding a second job on top of his first part-time one, but nothing paid more than minimum wage, and that hadn’t been enough to cover the medical bills. So, Steve banked on a talent that he knew could make him quick and easy cash and started getting work as a stripper. His mother wound up passing away anyways two years later, but Steve had been able to pay more of the bills, and he truly believes that the alleviated stress helped keep Sarah Rogers alive longer.

“Why do you keep doin’ it then?” Bucky asks curiously.

Steve gets a small, self-deprecating smile. “Helps with my confidence, I guess. I used to be real tough on myself; dancin’, making others look at me that way, made me start to accept my body for how it is. At first, it’d only be when I was up there – for as long as I danced, no one could touch me, or hurt me, or judge me. Everyone wanted me, so I started to feel good about myself. Then eventually, I realized that a lot of my insecurities were in my head. Yeah, do I wish I was taller sometimes? Of course. Do I wish I could put on muscle, or had a healthy spine, or a good set of lungs? You’re damn right I do. But this is the body I was given, and this is the body my ma helped give me, and so I’m happy.” He smiles warmly at Bucky. “I’m happy with who I am.”

Bucky reaches across the table and holds one of Steve’s hands. “You got nothin’ to be self-conscious about, Stevie,” he says sincerely. Steve’s smile grows. Bucky nods and looks down at his plate. “I know a little of what that’s like, though… That feeling of being impenetrable whenever you’re on stage.”

Steve narrows his eyes slightly, frowning. “I’ve wanted to ask,” he says slowly, carefully. “But I never knew if it’d be okay or not.”

“No, it’s alright, you can ask. What is it?”

“What happened before you came to The Marvel? I’ve heard some of the other guys reference it sometimes, but I never understood what they meant. All I know is that you used to work at Hydra.”

Bucky grimaces at his uneaten food. “Have you ever heard of Hydra before, or been to their club?” he asks. Steve shakes his head. “Well, you know how I told you when we first met that Stark is very adamant about there being no ‘sex for profit’ kind of shit? Basically, he made that a known rule after he hired me. It was the biggest reason I came to work for him and finally had the balls to leave my old place.”

Steve’s nostrils flare slightly, and Bucky realizes he looks pissed. “Your old bosses made you have sex for money?”

Bucky sighs, rubbing his eyes and shrugging slightly. “There were a lot of grey areas at that shithole. It’s run by this asshole named Schmidt, who apparently used to be a bit of a pimp back in Germany, which is where he’s from. You gotta sign contracts when you work at Hydra; there are no ‘probation periods’ like at Stark’s – if you join the team, you’re obligated to serve there for a minimum of a year. I didn’t read the fine print in my contract, and Schmidt’s assistant, this little fuckin’ dweeb named Zola, conveniently left out the part about what exactly was expected of me. So when I signed it, I thought I was just joining another regular strip club as a dancer, but… well, you know how the story ends.” He smiles tiredly and shrugs.

“Is that why sex stopped meaning anything to you?” Steve asks.

Bucky blinks. “Oh, no, sex isn’t meaningless to me,” he explains, because somewhere along the line, things have clearly been misconstrued. “Never mattered who I slept with, the sex itself always mean something on some level. It’s the emotional aspect of it I stopped doing; the part where it stops bein’ about the physical intimacy and starts becoming more about the other person, that’s where things get messy. So I just avoided it, I guess.”

“Because of Hydra,” Steve presses.

“Yeah. And no, actually. It’s about 50/50.” He waves it off, looking away. “There was this guy there, another dancer, named Brock. We hit it off and had a thing for about a year and a half. We’d even moved in together – I dunno, I know it sounds stupid but I thought maybe that had been it, y’know? But then he turned out to be a real fuckin’ prick; true colours didn’t finally show until we’d been living together for a few months.”

“What’d he do?” Steve asks quietly, trying to mask the edge of anger to his voice.

Bucky gives him a weary smile. “I don’t wanna talk about it just yet, if that’s alright.”

Steve nods and apologizes. They order dessert and decide to split on something with “lots of chocolate”. Steve insists on Bucky letting him spoon feed a mouthful to him. Bucky rolls his eyes but finally lets him, and when Steve’s face breaks out into a grin, Bucky knows it was worth it.

The second they’re back at Steve’s place, the door’s only just shut behind them and they’re already fumbling to hastily take each other’s clothes off. Their mouths move fast and eager, lips parted and tongues twisting and beating between pants, as Steve impatiently helps tug Bucky’s jacket off his arms and then attack his belt. Bucky’s head is spinning as Steve leads him to his bedroom by the waistline of his jeans.

Within minutes, they’re both naked and though they’ve both seen the other like this a million times by now, they still take a moment to look and appreciate. This is different; this time their bodies are only on display for each other. Bucky makes sure to kiss everywhere he can on the blond’s skinny body and chase those breathless little sounds above him that he’s already grown completely addicted to. When he goes down on Steve, he feels ridiculous at how badly he just wants to impress Steve; to please him. He’s down there taking his time, licking and sucking and kissing, for almost twenty minutes before Steve’s hands fist in his hair and the blond comes with a ragged gasp. Bucky loves sucking dick, always has, but he’s never enjoyed the ending. The taste always makes him gag and the swallowing only ever gets done for show.

But when he swallows every drop of liquid Steve pours hot and heady into his mouth, Bucky outright moans at the bitter taste, surprising the both of them. He swallows because he wants every morsel of Steve inside of him – as if it could be proof in the morning that this actually happened, if he needed it.

Steve may be a virgin but he also reminds Bucky that he ain’t a prude, and whoever Steve was with in past relationships had clearly given him more than enough practice at suckjobs. He explains afterwards to a stunned Bucky that he’d had so many thermometers shoved in his mouth as a kid thanks to his ailments that he’d lost his gag reflex. Of course, Bucky doesn’t know this when Steve’s actually swallowing his cock into his throat, but he’s always loved surprises. Steve’s an enthusiastic little fucker, a real dirty fucking tease, because he moans and hums the entire time he moves his mouth up and down the length of Bucky’s erection. He uses any opportunity he can to look up at the brunet through those long lashes of his and burn holes into Bucky’s brain with that hungry look in his eyes. When Bucky comes, it’s with a quick whisper of Steve’s name followed by a drawn-out groan and an arch of the back.

He isn’t surprised when Steve kisses back up his body and then plasters their lips together in a kiss that leaves Bucky tasting himself. They roll around in Steve’s bed, a messy tangle of arms and legs; rubbing against each other and letting themselves feel around while they lick and nip at each other’s mouths. When Bucky’s growing hard again against Steve’s belly, the blond exhales between kisses, “Fuck me, Bucky.”

“Huh?” Bucky replies eloquently, eyes still closed as Steve continues to attack his mouth. One of his hands buries its fingers into Steve’s back between the shoulder blades, while the other is squeezing Steve’s cute little ass.

“I want you to fuck me,” Steve moans. Pausing his grinding against Bucky’s hips, he tightens his hold on the older man and then rolls them over so Bucky’s back on top, as if to accentuate his point. “Please. C’mon, Buck. I want you in me, please,” he chants desperately, clawing at Bucky’s back and arching himself against Bucky’s front. Bucky’s head is still spinning, so fast that he isn’t sure this isn’t all a dream. “Buck… Make me scream. Make me fuckin’ scream.”

Bucky groans, staring down at him. It should be illegal for someone to look as tempting and beautiful as Steve looks right now. But when those baby blues beneath him lock onto his own grey orbs, Bucky realizes he can’t do it. Because he doesn’t just want this with Steve; he wants those cute little moments. But he also realizes that he wants more than that – he wants the meaningless moments, too. The ones that are so simple they don’t mean anything, except they mean everything. Like… seeing Steve concentrate when he’s working on a drawing (since he’d recently learned that art is a favourite hobby of Steve’s), or seeing how peaceful he looks when he sleeps… Watching Steve cook a meal, or looking between Bluray cases as he tries to figure out which movie he wants to watch that night. Bucky wants to laugh with him and argue with him; wrap his arms around him when he cries and buy flowers for him every week.

Bucky thinks he might be in love with him. So it only makes sense to him when he leans in and forces a soft kiss to Steve’s lips and murmurs, “No… Not tonight. Let’s take this slow, k? I want to make sure this is what you want so you don’t do somethin’ you regret.”

Steve tries to argue at first but then finds himself sighing happily when Bucky busies his lips along Steve’s stretch of throat. “I’ll still make ya feel good,” Bucky promises, squeezing a hand between them and kneading the blond’s growing erection again as his tongue runs over one tiny nipple. “Couldn’t stop touchin’ ya if I tried.”

“You’re a goddamn jerk,” Steve breathes, but he’s grinning, eyes closed.

“And you’re a punk,” Bucky retorts, pinching the perky nipple with his teeth. “What else is new?”

True to Bucky’s word, they take things slow. They start properly dating, first in secret and then eventually tell everyone at work – which turns out to have been pointless, since they all had suspected it anyways. If Steve isn’t crashing at Bucky’s place, Bucky is sleeping at Steve’s. They spend their days off together and use their shifts as a sort of foreplay – watching each other’s routines and getting off on the way they feel territorial when everyone else stares and drools over what should only be theirs. Between lap dances for paying customers and chatting politely as they walk the floor, they’ll sneak off to one of the back rooms, or their dressing room, and pin each other to walls or furniture so they can get a few minutes in of touching and kissing. 

By the time they’ve been seeing each other for two months, Steve starts growing impatient. He ups his routines to be even more teasing, and deliberately locks eyes with Bucky whenever he looks particularly debauched onstage, hips circling seductively and lips swollen from biting them so much. He begs Bucky in the privacy of their own beds to fuck him, to the point where he’s actually whining, but Bucky always says no. Bucky doesn’t mean for it to be torturous for Steve, and he understands just how badly his boyfriend wants it because he’s dying for it, too – but this is also the happiest he’s been in years and he’s so scared that the second they finally have sex, it’ll all get fucked up.

Bucky constantly apologizes and makes it up to Steve in every other way – sucks him off, makes him come hard and breathlessly every time, even introduces Steve to the pleasure of being fingered – but he never goes as far as to put his dick into him. It frustrates Steve to high hell every time, but he gets it, he does, so he’s never angry about it.

The final straw, though, happens on another Saturday night at work, because all crazy shenanigans at The Marvel tend to occur on their busiest night. Bucky’s right in the middle of his routine when a ruckus can be heard from the back rooms, where he knows Steve’s off giving another lap dance. He pauses, frowning, but then carries on with his performance. Within seconds, the noises get louder, and the crowd starts to become distracted by them, turning their heads to try and see what’s going on. Bucky stops and straightens abruptly when Natasha walks out, scowling, directing a customer out of the back. He’s drunk and shouting curses, calling Natasha a cunt and saying awful things about the little blond fag who wouldn’t let him get just one touch.

Natasha’s got one of his arms twisted painfully behind his back – her other hand clutching the back of his neck – and even though the guy’s twice as big as she is, she makes it look effortless, the way she manhandles him through the crowd with the intention of throwing him out. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Steve walk into the room, Sam and Tony on either side. They’re all talking but Bucky can’t hear anything over the music. Steve looks just fine – more just annoyed than anything – but he keeps rubbing his neck and Bucky realizes that whatever happened, that son of a bitch grabbed Steve. Bucky’s eyes are wide and his breathing is quickening; chest growing hot and tight as rage starts to consume him. He was pretty early on in his routine, so he’s still got his army pants and combat boots on.

“Excuse me, out of my way,” he says loudly, striding across the stage and jumping off into the little part the crowd’s made for him. He pushes through the mass of people until he crosses paths with Natasha. “What happened?” he barks angrily.

“It’s fine, Soldier, I’ve got it,” Natasha says impatiently, never breaking her stride and still directing the guy through the club.

What happened!?” Bucky shouts. He interjects and plants himself in front of them. He lays his hands into the guy and shoves. Natasha has to brace her leg to the floor to keep from letting them both topple back.

The guy’s breath reeks and he starts shouting shit – insults towards Steve and The Marvel and how he was gonna sue the whole damn place.

“You touch him?” Bucky shouts over him. “Huh? You touch him? Huh!?” He throws his right fist forward and punches the prick in the nose.

Barnes!” Natasha shouts, struggling a little now as the guy’s head snaps back and blood starts to pour from his nose. Everything erupts from there. Everyone crowds around, getting in closer, to witness the brawl even though that was pretty much the most of it. Clint stops the music and Tony starts shoving through the crowd to get to Bucky, but it’s Steve who gets to him first.

Grabbing Bucky’s arm, he pulls and shouts over the deafening noise, “Bucky! C’mon, stop, let’s go now.” Bucky snarls at the guy, watching as Natasha tightens her grip on him and starts shoving him back towards the door. When Tony finally gets to them and grabs Bucky’s arm, the two men pull Bucky through the crowd and the brunet lets himself go without struggle.

They bring him to the employee’s room. The second they’re in there, Bucky throws his arms around Steve and crushes him in a hug. Pulling back, Bucky palms his shoulders and starts checking around for any signs of aggression or damage. “Are you okay? Fuck, Steve, what the fuck happened? Does it hurt anywhere?”

“Bucky, Bucky, I’m fine,” Steve insists. “He was just drunk and tried to cop a few feels.”

Tony’s arms are crossed as he watches them. He looks firm, but his tone comes out amused. “Rogers here is a lot tougher than he looks. He hit the guy before you even got the chance.”

“You hit him?” Bucky asks, surprised.

Steve gives a shrug. “I told him he’d be sorry if he tried to grab my ass one more time, then when he did, well… I mean, I warned him.”

Bucky notices the beginnings of small, blotchy bruises on the skin of Steve’s neck. Fire ignites back in his eyes as he looks it over. “What the fuck are these!”

“I’m fine,” Steve repeats insistently. “After I hit him, he grabbed me by the throat, but Natasha had heard the commotion by then and she got him off me the second he touched me.”

“Clearly not soon enough,” Bucky growls, running his thumb gingerly over a splotch already turning purple. “M’gonna fucking kill him, Stevie. He ever fuckin’ comes here again, I swear to god, I fuckin’ swear--”

“Bucky, stop it, no you won’t,” Steve says.

“You’re damn right you won’t,” Tony adds. He approaches them and gives Bucky a reproachful looks. “Barnes, he won’t be allowed back in here again. And because we have enough witnesses, it’d be stupid of him to try and press charges. But look,” he points a finger at him. “I get why you did it, and between us, you know I would’ve cheered right there in front of everyone – but we have policies for a reason and we’re still a professional business. Natasha had everything under control, so I’ll just tell you this once. You get involved again when you don’t have to and go throwing punches, I’m going to have to write up some bullshit report about suspending you, and you know I hate paperwork.”

Bucky blinks, not having expected that last part. “I – you mean--”

Tony gets a cool grin, clasping a hand onto Bucky’s shoulder. “You heard me. I’d never really punish you for that; that’s far too much effort. But I got to follow the law and shit, right? I know, it’s exhausting.” He looks from Bucky to Steve and his face grows serious again. “You know I don’t tolerate anyone hurting my team. Ever. All I’m telling you is, Natasha can handle it. If you ever feel she can’t, then by all means, jump in.”

He starts to turn to head out of the room before calling over his shoulder, “Just don’t get any blood on anything or you two will be the ones cleaning it out. It’s not like I have some sort of artificial intelligence who can get magical robots to clean this place for me. Oh,” he spins around and points between them. “And you’re both done for the night. Get the hell out of here, regroup, and have a fresh start tomorrow.”

They wait until Tony leaves for Bucky to slump into one of the chairs and rub his eyes. He’s still breathing roughly and his other hand is clenched into a fist. Steve approaches him and kneels in front of him, resting his chin on Bucky’s knee.

“Hey,” he says softly. He shakes Bucky’s thigh a bit. “Hey.” Bucky releases a tight breath and glances down at him. “Let’s get dressed and go home,” Steve murmurs. Bucky nods.

They spend the night at Bucky’s place. At Steve’s suggestion, Bucky runs them both a hot bath to try and calm Bucky down. It’s a tight squeeze, but they manage to fit in nicely with Steve sitting on Bucky’s lap, lying back against his chest. They mostly stay quiet, and the warm water soothes Steve to relaxation until his eyes are closed and he feels sluggish and sleepy. Bucky has his arms wrapped around the blond and absentmindedly runs his fingers back and forth in lazy patterns on Steve’s chest. Steve lets out a soft little hum every minute or so, both to let Bucky know he’s still awake and also because the light tickle against his skin feels so nice. Bucky’s cheek is resting against the side of Steve’s head, and he thinks about the bruises he can’t currently see on Steve’s neck but that he knows are still there. He thinks about how protective he is over Steve and how dangerously he doesn’t want anyone else touching him or hurting him. 

“Steve?” he whispers, frowning and staring off.

“Mm?” Steve hums, smiling with eyes still closed as the sound of his boyfriend’s voice.

“I think I love you,” Bucky says quietly into his ear.

Baby blues open and Steve stares at the ceiling, face unresponsive for a second. Making the water slosh a little around them, he readjusts so he can turn his face and get a good look at Bucky. They look into each other’s eyes and Steve feels his heart hammering away in his chest.

“Yeah?” he replies quietly, hope in his voice.

Bucky nods, face still serious. “Yeah,” he breathes. “I think I’m really fuckin’ in love with you.”

Steve smiles, small at first and then into a full-blown grin, and his eyes twinkle, and Bucky thinks, This might be it. Finally. I’d be happy if this were it.

“I’ve loved you since the moment you gave me those flowers,” Steve admits. Bucky grins now, too. “Yeah?” he asks.

Steve nods. “Yeah.” And then he grabs the back of Bucky’s neck, pulling him forward and catching his lips in a kiss. Bucky makes a small sound in his throat, the tiniest of low whimpers, and he’s quickly reminded of why Steve is such an eager little shit and exactly why Bucky loves him for it.

The younger man causes a bit of splashing around them as he turns himself over and they reposition so Bucky’s sitting more upright. Steve straddles him with one leg on either side of Bucky’s waist and dives back in, their lips parting the second they touch and their teeth clacking together lightly as their tongues meet. They make out until they’re feverish and breathless. When Steve breaks away in needs of air, and presses his forehead to Bucky’s, Bucky opens his eyes to watch his lover’s face as he wraps his hand around both their dicks and starts stroking slowly in the water.

Steve’s mouth falls open and he exhales a breathy moan. Bucky’s lips part at the sound, and he could fucking die happy watching Steve make the faces he does whenever Bucky takes him apart like this. But after a few seconds, Steve’s shaking his head and pulling Bucky’s hand off of them.

“No, no,” he manages through grit teeth. Opening his eyes, he leans back in and kisses Bucky again. “Bucky, please fuck me. I don’t wanna come unless you’re inside me. Please…”

And maybe it’s because they finally know out loud that they love each other, but Bucky can’t think of a single reason anymore why this isn’t a perfect idea. So he nods and runs his fingers through Steve’s golden strands. “You’ve been waiting so patiently,” he breathes.

Steve nods feverishly and whimpers at the soft, delicate way Bucky’s fingers feel combing along his scalp. “I want you so fucking much.”

“Fuck, baby,” Bucky groans softly. He holds onto the back of Steve’s head and gives him a rough kiss, inhaling sharply through his nose. “Bed, now.”

Fuck yeah,” Steve whispers before quickly climbing off of Bucky and practically leaping out of the bath. Bucky smiles to himself as he hears Steve’s footsteps disappear down the hall into his bedroom, and he purposely takes a few seconds to unplug the tub to let the water drain out. When he finally walks into his room, the sight he’s met with makes him have to lean against the wall as he groans in his throat. Steve’s already got the lube out. He’s sprawled on his back, legs spread wantonly and one hand fisting the blanket while his other has three fingers stuffed into his own body.

Bucky has to fight the urge to pounce on him and shove his dick in right then and there. He does though, and instead comes over and crawls onto the mattress, grabbing Steve’s swollen cock in his hand and stroking it as he presses Steve’s head into the bed with another kiss.

“Bucky,” Steve gasps, twisting this way and that uselessly. “C’mon, stop makin’ me wait.”

“You don’t want this to be slow and stuff?” Bucky asks, making a point to take his sweet time laving kisses along Steve’s neck – stopping to press a delicate kiss to every single bruise that fucking prick left on his boyfriend’s skin.

But Steve shakes his head. “Make love to me after – we got all night. I just need you in me, Bucky, unh, I just… I need you to fuck me.”

“You want your first time to be fast and hard, baby?” Bucky asks innocently, kissing down Steve’s body and nipping playfully as his ticklish sides. Steve jolts and then relaxes with an exhale of a shaky laugh. It morphs into a loud moan when Bucky circles his tongue around the head of his dick and then suckles on the tip.

“Yeah, yes,” Steve gasps again.

Bucky swallows Steve down, making the smaller man arch, and bobs his head quick and fast as he hollows his cheeks out. Teasing, Bucky can be a dirty fucking tease too, he pulls away with an obscene pop after a few seconds and then sucks on Steve’s balls. The blond grunts and then groans deep in his throat. Bucky smiles when he backs off.

“My neighbours downstairs always have real loud sex in the middle of the night,” he husks before tonguing at Steve’s perineum. Steve shudders and gasps, eyes squeezed shut.

‘I know,” the blond replies. “I’ve heard.”

“Time for a little payback,” Bucky mutters, pulling Steve’s slick fingers out of his hole. “Be as loud as you want, baby. I wanna hear you scream.”

He’s answered with a languid, enthusiastic moan from Steve. He’s met with a whimper – fuck, Bucky falls apart whenever Steve makes that sound – when he spreads Steve with his thumbs and licks a stripe over his asshole. He get lube on his tongue and he’s glad it’s flavoured so it isn’t entirely unpleasant. Still, watching Steve’s body react and that cute little hole tremble in the aftershock makes it all worth it.

“Aww, you’re already a little puffy down here, Stevie,” Bucky purrs. “If you can’t take your fingers, how can you expect to take me?”

“I can take anythin’ you dish out to me,” Steve insists, clutching onto Bucky’s hair and tugging by the roots. Bucky hisses at the delicious sting, smiling as his eyes close. He exhales heavily and leans in, sealing his lips over Steve’s opening and going to town on it. He listens to Steve cry out and curse as his tongue licks into him, over him, around him; he groans himself when he sucks on him or licks around his hole, biting into the sensitive skin of his inner thighs. Within minutes, Steve’s skin around his ass is starting to look red and aggravated from the chaffing of Bucky’s stubble, but Steve keeps tugging Bucky’s face closer until it’s buried against his ass and Bucky can barely breathe. He eats Steve out for minutes upon minutes, loosening him and softening the muscles with nothing but his tongue.

When he pulls back to hungrily suck marks into his inner thighs some more, his entire mouth and chin are shiny with spit and lubricant. Steve stares down at him with glossy eyes and moans helplessly.

“Next time I eat you out, you’re gonna sit your pretty little ass on my face,” Bucky says, and then nip, pinch of teeth, and Steve cries out, tossing his head back. Steve knows Bucky’s a talker during this kind of thing and Bucky knows how much Steve loves it.

Bucky spreads him again and then gives a few more little licks to the opening. Steve shivers and tugs lightly on Bucky’s long hair. “M’gonna come if you don’t stop,” he chokes.

Bucky grins to himself. “Entirely from me lickin’ your asshole? Don’t even gotta touch you first?”

Steve grits his teeth, brows knit together. “I said I didn’t wanna come unless you were inside me. I don’t wanna just yet.”

“Hmm, I dunnoooo,” Bucky murmurs like the real fucker he is, flicking the tip of his tongue around the small puckered entrance. It flutters to his touch and Bucky thinks, Fucking gorgeous. Steve keens desperately, bucking his hips and then trying to grind his rear harder against Bucky’s lips. The brunet smiles against the pressure and then nips his inner thigh again before straightening up and grabbing a condom from his bedside drawer. He tears the package with his teeth, rolling it on and then popping open the bottle of lubricant. He strokes an ample amount onto himself, knowing Steve is watching him; he lets his head fall back as he releases an open-mouth moan, hand now pumping faster - putting on a show.

“Jesus Christ, Bucky,” Steve whispers; pupils blown and licking his lips hungrily as he watches Bucky’s glistening dick redden from the stimulation, a bead of precome at the slit.

“You taste so fuckin’ sweet, Stevie,” Bucky pants, choking on a groan when he rubs his thumb over the tip. “Bet you’re gonna open up nice and perfect for my cock, aren’t you?”

Steve whines, face and chest flushed. “I will if you put it in me some time today, jerk!”

Bucky looks down at him and stops stroking. He blinks a few times and then rubs Steve’s thigh with his free hand. “You sure this is what you want?” he asks quietly. For a split second, he thinks he can see a flash of nervousness in Steve’s baby blues, but then Steve’s nodding confidently and covering Bucky’s hand with his. They entwine their fingers.

“I waited twenty-four years for you, James Barnes,” Steve says with a soft smile. “I want you more than anythin’.”

Bucky leans down between the blond’s legs and kisses his mouth. “I love you so much, kid,” Bucky murmurs with a small shake of the head. Steve smiles and wraps his legs around Bucky’s waist.

“I love you,” Steve echoes. He presses against Bucky’s tailbone to try and get him closer. “Want you so bad…”

Bucky reaches down and guides himself to Steve’s entrance, feeling the dip and then pushing the head of his dick inside of him just the tiniest bit. “Like that?” Bucky asks.

Steve’s already tensing, mouth hanging open and eyes closed. Again, he nods. “More…”

“Relax yourself, baby,” Bucky whispers, brushing Steve’s sweaty bangs of his forehead and then stroking his temple soothingly with his thumb. He outlines Steve’s jaw with his tongue and then bites softly on his earlobe. “The sooner you stop tensin’, the more I can give your hungry little hole what it wants.”

Steve bites his lip and whimpers before releasing the air in his lungs and slumping against the bed. Opening his eyes, he looks into Bucky’s and takes a slow inhale. When he breathes out, Bucky pushes a little more inside. He keeps doing this – forcing himself to still, no matter how much it hurts – until he’s seated all the way inside of Steve.

“God, Steve, you… You’re so fuckin’ tight,” Bucky groans, squeezing his own eyes shut now and trying to think of someone unsexy to stop him from blowing his load too soon.

“Yep,” Steve answers, voice strained as he gets used to the large intrusion in his ass. “Comes with being a virgin and all.”

“Not a virgin anymore,” Bucky exhales a laugh.

“God, Buck, you gotta move in me or somethin’.”

Bucky tries, but the suction around his dick is too much. He makes an embarrassed face and then chuckles quietly. “If I move now, m’gonna come before you even get to enjoy it.”

Steve shakes his head vehemently, circling his hips against Bucky and makes the older man hiss out a curse. “I don’t care,” Steve insists breathily. “Fuck me into the mattress and then when you get hard for me again, m’gonna ride you and I ain’t gonna stop until you make me shoot all over your chest.”

Holy fuck, Steve.” Bucky crushes their lips back together and starts thrusting quick and fast. Steve cries out loudly and his nails rake into Bucky’s back, and it burns, it hurts, but it’s so fucking sweet and Steve’s completely filled by his lover’s thick cock, and this is it – this is the closest you can ever feel to another human being, Steve’s sure, and it was worth every second he both chose and was forced to wait.

Bucky’s already grunting low and uncontrollably with every exhale as his hips piston in and out of Steve’s ass; he feels exactly as incredible as he fantasized he would the first moment he’d laid eyes on Steve – but so much more incredible because he loves this kid, he fucking loves him, and this could never just be a fuck between them. Not in a million years.

“It’s okay, Buck,” Steve pants, hugging the bigger man to him. “Come for me… God, I want you to come. Harder… Unh, oh God, just like that!”

He whines loudly, the sound broken up and jarred in time with Bucky pounding into him, and Bucky tries to hold off, he tries so hard, but it’s only another minutes before he’s crying out hoarsely and stringing together expletives and nonsense as he spills into the condom. He continues thrusting through his orgasm until he loses the energy, going soft and pulling out carefully. He collapses next to Steve and then gives him an apologetic smile as he tries to catch his breath.

“Sorry,” he mutters.

Steve shakes his head in disagreement, still looking delirious. “Don’t be; I’m glad to know I turn you on that much.”

“You kidding? You drive me fuckin’ crazy. M’gonna make it up to you; just gimme a few minutes.”

Steve grins and leans in. They kiss heatedly until Steve’s climbed on top of him, moaning softly as Bucky passes the time by fingering Steve slow and deep, making sure to curl the pads of his digits against his prostate every few thrusts.

“We should choreograph a routine together,” Bucky jokes with bated breath, revelling in the feel of Steve’s sweaty skin sliding off of his. “The bad boy Winter Soldier corrupting America’s precious little Golden Boy.”

“Or the other way around,” Steve chuckles before groaning loudly.

“I don’t think there’s much left in me to corrupt,” the brunet shoots back.

Steve helps Bucky roll a new condom on his renewed erection and they both exhale shakily when Steve slides himself down on it. Placing his hands on Bucky’s chest to steady himself, Steve gives him a stubborn smirk, eyelids drooped, and challenges, “We’ll see about that.”

And then he reminds Bucky why he’s so goddamn perfect at rolling his hips when he’s onstage, and almost forty-five minutes later, when Bucky’s shouting the word fuck as though it were a prayer, they both come hard – and as Steve coats Bucky’s chest just like he promised he would, he’s screaming.

Bucky can’t tell who exactly won that challenge, and honestly, he doesn’t give a fuck.

They do choreograph a routine together. It quickly becomes The Marvel’s newest, most popular attraction.