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Found God in a Lover

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CapBB057

 

How long you would wait for me?
And how long I've been away
The shape that I'm in now, your shape in the doorway
Make your good love known to me
Or just tell me 'bout your day
Hozier, 'As It Was'

 

Bucky Barnes was not freaking out.

He wasn’t. It wasn’t like he’d been in a compressed metal tube 30,000 feet in the air the last two hours, his body prickling with anxiety, his chest compressing, his stomach swooping low at the slightest bump of turbulence.

Sure, Barnes. You’re not freaking out at all.

This flight had been particularly rough; they got caught up in a storm somewhere over Maryland, and he’d spent the last half hour white-knuckled, reminding himself to just breathe, trying to tell himself it would all be worth it once he got home.

He sighed shakily in relief when the captain finally announced their descent. Landing made his ears hurt, but at least it meant he was almost out of this damn thing. 15 minutes later, he felt comfortable enough to open the window screen on his left, and his eyes immediately fell to the city stretched below. He could see the long line of Manhattan, concrete sprawled between the Hudson and East Rivers, save for the thin block of green that marked Central Park to the north. Brooklyn wasn’t visible from this angle, but he didn’t need to see it. He’d spent 20 years of his life there before everything happened with Becca, and he knew it like the back of his damn hand. It was home.

When the plane finally landed five minutes later, he switched his phone off airplane mode and two messages popped up.

Mom
Text me when you land. Love you!

Steve
Hey Bucky, looks like you’re at Baggage Claim 11. I’m here waiting for ya.

Of course Steve was already waiting. Steve was always early. Bucky used to have less-than-punctual habits when they were younger, making Steve grumpy and sour every time he showed up late. But years of doctor visits, chemo treatments, and anxiously worrying about the unknown had probably turned Bucky into an even bigger early bird than Steve at this point. He would miss Steve griping at him about it but had full confidence that he’d find something else to bug him about. He wouldn’t be Steve without something to gripe about, and he wouldn’t be Bucky without letting him.

He sent a quick reply to Steve and his mom as he stepped off the plane. It was a long walk from the gate to Baggage Claim (JFK was kind of a monstrous beast), but he finally spotted the blond of Steve’s hair, his body casually perched on the edge of the carousel like the little rebel he was. He was wearing a soft gray t-shirt with the arms rolled up, skinny jeans, and a pair of beat-up Doc Martens. Bucky had seen Steve a handful of times over the last few years whenever time or money permitted visits, and of course they followed each other on social media; but he still sometimes forgot how much Steve had transformed since Bucky left.

He was still a pretty skinny guy, though he’d probably put on 10 to 15 pounds since Bucky left sophomore year of college. But his body was lightyears away from what it used to be — hunched shoulders had smoothed themselves back and his hair was now swept away from his face, no longer a curtain to hide behind. The confidence that Steve would poorly feign in the face of a bully or a problem—puffed chest, jutting chin— was natural now, soft but present. At some point between college and today, he’d shaved an undercut into his hair and gotten a few tattoos and a septum piercing, which, sure, would give almost anyone a few extra cool points, but it was the change in the way he carried himself that finally projected an image of the amazing person Bucky always knew was inside.

“Bucky!” Steve suddenly yelled from across the whole damn terminal and ran to give him a giant, bone-crushing hug.

“Hiya, Steve,” Bucky responded, smiling, tightening his arms around him.

“Welcome home, pal.” Steve was still hugging him and his voice was soft, a little warbly, an attempt to rein in emotions. But it was okay. Bucky could handle it. Yeah, he was moving back to Brooklyn after all these years. Yeah, his sister had died eight months ago. But Steve being emotional about either of those things wasn’t going to break him. It selfishly made him feel a little warm inside to hear Steve getting all choked up, so Bucky stepped back and ruffled Steve’s hair like he knew Steve hated.

“Hey, fuck off,” he replied, smacking Bucky’s hand away. He flipped his hair back and ran his fingers through it in an attempt to repair what Bucky had messed up. The baggage carousel started moving and they walked over to wait for Bucky’s luggage. “Was the flight okay?”

Steve knew how much he hated flying. Bucky shrugged. “Best. Flight. Ever.”

“Right.”

“Whatever. I’m on solid ground again. Solid New York ground, for that matter, even if it’s Queens.”

Steve’s eyes crinkled with affection before he tugged on a strand of Bucky’s hair. “I still can’t believe how long your hair has gotten.” It was down to his shoulders now.

Bucky shrugged and gestured roundly to his hair and his perpetual five o’clock shadow. “I’ve just embraced it at this point. Went for the queer Jesus look to scandalize the locals during my time in the Bible Belt.”

Steve laughed. “Are you hungry? I didn’t book anything tonight, so I’m all yours. We could grab some pho or something.”

Right. Bookings. Bucky knew about that. He did. And he was fine with it, really. Steve had told him up front when Bucky had called to share the news about getting into grad school at NYU Tandon and to ask if Steve had space at his place for a roommate. Steve didn’t really have a room available until November but had offered to let Bucky sleep in his own room until then. But that was when Steve had laid it on him: yeah, he sold his paintings when he could, but he was also a sex worker.

A pro-dom, to be exact.

“Informed consent, and all that,” Steve had said. “So you know what you’re getting into. And my roommate Clint. He’s not a professional or anything but he’s also kinky. We’ll try to be respectful but if anything bothers you, just say the word and we’ll make changes as necessary.”

Sure, it had been a big ol’ surprise to think about Steve that way, doing all sorts of things to all sorts of people, but Bucky had been too happy about the prospect of returning to Brooklyn and living with his best friend and maybe, finally, moving on with his goddamn life to care about any of it. But now Steve was standing before him, talking about it like it was nothing, and a little knot of some unidentifiable weirdness clenched in his chest.

“Earth to Buck? Yes? No? Pho?”

Bucky suddenly saw both of his suitcases on the belt, and he ran to grab them, thankful for the reprieve from awkwardness. He called out behind himself. “Too hot for pho.” He pulled the suitcases off the carousel, and Steve was already grabbing one of them when he turned back around.

“Alright,” Steve replied as they headed toward the bus area. “What do you want then?”

Bucky followed him. “Well, considering I’ve been living in the goddamn south the last seven years, I could really go for some real pizza.”

Steve laughed and continued along, the suitcase wheeling behind him. “Sure.”

They hopped on the bus to Steve’s place—their place now— to drop off Bucky’s luggage before grabbing dinner. Steve still lived in the apartment where he’d grown up. There hadn’t been much left on the mortgage when Sarah died in an accident nine years ago, so Steve would’ve been an idiot to get rid of it, especially with gentrification skyrocketing the rent around Williamsburg. Bucky had moved in with him then, foregoing the freshman dorms and shorter commute for cheaper rent and the chance to help Steve during his grief. It had been two of the best years of his life until Becca was diagnosed with leukemia. Then the Barneses had packed up and moved in with Bucky’s grandparents in North Carolina so they could share caretaker responsibilities as a family.

Thinking of Becca made his chest seize suddenly in discomfort, so he pushed it down, plastered on a smile, and made a joke about a random billboard they were passing. It fell flat, but Steve still gave him a little half grin as their shoulders brushed together.

Bucky looked down then and saw the BROOKLYN tattoo scrawled across Steve’s knuckles. He saw the paintbrush on his right forearm and the roses and vines peeking out from the shirt sleeve of his left arm, which he knew belonged to one of his tattoos honoring Sarah. The flowers trailed upward and surrounded the emblem that had been painted on her beloved motorcycle, a star surrounded by two circles, shaded in her favorite color, purple. He knew about the other tattoos as well: the clover on the right side of his neck, the triquetra knot centered between his shoulder blades, the motorcycle engine and roses right above his heart— 1968 - 2009. Sarah.

Bucky had never met anyone like Sarah Rogers. She’d been huge in the punk scene before Steve had come along, and when Bucky thought back on her now, he remembered her stark blue eyes lined in kohl, purple streaks in her long, curly hair, and the best goddamn hugs — second only to his own mom. She’d had three tattoos herself; one for each of her parents and one for Steve, and he knew it would’ve delighted her beyond belief to know that Steve had carried on her tradition. Especially since Steve had really looked like such a normie when they were kids and not at all like he’d had the coolest mom on the planet.

When they finally got to the building, Steve grabbed the second suitcase and started to climb the three flights of stairs to the apartment.

“Hey, Steve. Let me get that. I can carry both of them.” Bucky didn’t know what lugging luggage (ha) up all those stairs would do to Steve’s asthma, and he didn’t want to find out.

Steve just raised an eyebrow at him before turning back around and continuing his ascent. “I’m stronger than I look, ya know.”

Bucky sighed. “That’s not what I mea—”

“The longer you stand there, the longer until pizza!” Steve interrupted loudly. Bucky rolled his eyes and followed after him.

Steve was a little bit wheezy when they reached the right floor but didn’t seem at all distressed, so Bucky told himself not to worry about it, to ignore the slight feeling of panic he got whenever Steve’s body failed him, even the smallest bit. Then Steve unlocked the door, stepped inside, and gasped.

“Clint. What the fuck, dude?”

Bucky peered inside from the doorway and there was, presumably, Steve’s roommate, shirtless, suspended mid-air, tied to some sort of wooden beam contraption. He was sitting in a hip harness made of rope, like a mountain climber might use, with one ankle tied upward and the other dangling toward the ground.

“What?” he asked, turning around, his hands still fiddling with a knot, when his eyes moved past Steve to land on Bucky behind him. “Aw, fuck. I thought he was coming the eighteenth.”

“It is the eighteenth!”

“Shit. Well, uh,” he looked downward. “I guess this looks bad.” Then he turned and gave a half-cocked smile to Bucky. “But, um, I’m Clint. Welcome to the abode. I’d come say hi, but—”

“But you’re all tied up?” Bucky said, his eyes flitting over to Steve, Hater of Puns, to gauge his reaction.

Steve rolled his eyes, mumbling “Jesus,” while Clint barked in laughter.

“Yeah. Sorry about that. I promised Steve I’d be super vanilla and normal while you were around and now I’ve fucked that to hell and back.” He reached upward and started loosening one of the lines. “I’ll be down and done in just a sec.”

“It’s alright,” Steve replied. “We’re just dropping off Bucky’s stuff and then grabbing pizza. You want us to bring you some?”

“I’m grabbing dinner with Tash, but Lucky would not say no to a slice of pepperoni.”

“Your dog eats better than you, Barton.”

“Well,” Clint said, tying rope around his other ankle, obviously giving up the pretense of non-kinky normalcy. “He’s a better person than I am.”

“You have a dog?” Bucky asked.

“Yeah! The one-eyed wonder. He’s in my room. He thinks rope is a toy.”

“We’ll meet him when we get back,” Steve said. He turned to Bucky. “We can put your stuff in my room.”

Bucky followed him into the apartment, which had changed dramatically since Bucky had last been here a few years ago. The kitchen had been remodeled with soft gray cabinetry, a pale contrast to the colorful backsplash and vibrant dishes on the open shelving. The living room, which had been a murky tan belonging to the era of disco and bad decisions, was now a bright mint green with stylish charcoal furniture and Steve’s own art on the walls, including a portrait he’d painted of Sarah when they were in college.

The bedroom was different too; brighter walls, new furniture, and a much nicer drafting desk had replaced the one Steve had gotten as a kid. Bucky was surprised Steve could afford all of this in such a short period of time. Of course, the room was a complete disaster, but that was par for the course with Steve.

“You ready?” Steve asked.

“Yeah,” Bucky replied, then followed Steve out the door and back downstairs to the street. The August air was sticky and hot, stifling. He pulled the hair tie off his wrist and tied his hair back. He’d almost forgotten what summers in New York were like. Almost. Nothing like summer in the city. Everything is smelly and everything is sticky.

“I’m really sorry about that, Bucky,” Steve said suddenly as they turned the corner, pulling Bucky from his Hamilton rewrite. “That wasn’t cool, and I really hope it doesn’t happen again.”

Bucky shrugged. “I feel like in the grand scheme of things, that was a pretty tame thing to walk in on.” Really. Because after the call where Steve had thrown down the pro-dom gauntlet, he’d done some Google Image research. He’d seen some things, and that run-in with Clint had really been a whole lot of nothing. “He could’ve been practicing his rock climbing skills or something. So it’s fine. I think my—what’d he call it— ‘vanilla’ brain can handle it.”

Steve rolled his eyes, but gave a faint shrug. “Alright. I don’t think you’ll see anything worse than that. The problem is that the rig is too big to fit in either of the bedrooms, so any suspension has gotta happen in the living room. I thought we could just work around your schedule or whatever.”

“I’m sure I can handle suspension. If it’s not too, ya know, extreme,” Bucky replied, his ears burning as he remembered some of the photos he’d found while researching, but if Steve noticed he didn’t say anything about it.

They got to the pizzeria and ordered a large pizza with extra cheese and pepperoni (for Lucky!), and Bucky ascended to a greasy cloud nine as soon as he folded and bit into the first slice.

“Oh my god, I’m never leaving New York again,” he moaned before shoveling in another bite.

Steve smiled at him softly. “Good.” He opened his mouth to speak again but then closed it.

“What?”

“Well, it’s selfish to say, and I don’t mean anything by it because of course you had to go, but I’ve missed you, Buck. I’m…” he took a deep breath, “I’m really fucking glad you’re back.”

A strange brew of sadness and relief and hope and grief bubbled within Bucky, and fuck, he was not about to cry in the middle of this pizza place. So he took a swig of beer.

“Me too, pal,” he whispered around the lump in his throat.

 

*

Steve Rogers was a lot of things, and some of those things were frankly annoying as hell, but Steve Rogers was not a liar. So Bucky believed him 100 percent when Steve said he’d missed him during their years apart.

And Bucky knew deep down that he had. Except, well, the next week showed another kind of picture all together. Steve had friends now, a lot of friends, it seemed. His phone was constantly buzzing with texts, and folks would just drop by for a beer on their way home from work. They’d call him Steve-o and Cap (what?) and would touch him so openly and affectionately that it made Bucky’s skin prickle.

Bucky had been Steve’s one and only friend before he’d moved away. Steve had been a skinny little punk with a target on his back, annoying and self-righteous. Half the school would pick on him and the other half would find him to be Too Much To Deal With on any given day. Most teenagers didn’t want to hear lectures about Bush invading Iraq or the cruelty of the war on drugs or the gentrification of Williamsburg. Bucky hadn’t cared much about those sorts of things back then either, but he’d listened good-naturedly because it was Steve, because they’d been inseparable since second grade, and because who would have listened if Bucky hadn’t? He’d always figured that Steve had needed him on some granular level, and that had been just fine with him.

Except that clearly wasn’t true; at least not anymore.

Steve came home the following Thursday, shirt sticking to his back from the sweltering sun. Occasionally he’d come home from a client in a suit, but most of the time he’d wear what Bucky thought of as his uniform — black v-neck, black jeans that looked soft to the touch, and the Docs he wore almost everywhere. Except this time, his boots looks shiny and polished, with only the creases at the toes signaling that they weren’t brand new.

“What happened to your boots?” Bucky asked. He was sitting in the living room doing pre-work for the professor he would be working with as a TA that semester, with Lucky at his feet. He had another week until school started, and he was a little nervous about going back, especially as a grad student in Mechatronics and Robotics. Not only was it his first semester as a TA, it was his first time back as a full-time student since Becca’s diagnosis.

“Uh. Well. If you want to know?” Steve replied, obviously giving Bucky an out if he didn’t want specifics.

Sure. “It’s fine.” He could handle it.

“My last client is very into service and she’s been learning about bootblacking.”

“Wait, wait,” Bucky said, closing his laptop. “People pay you to serve you?”

Steve gave him an adorable grin. “Sometimes. The beauty of power exchange.” But then his face sobered after a few seconds. “It isn’t always fun and games though, depending on the person or the scene. Sometimes it’s great but it can still take a lot out of me emotionally. And I’m pretty much in charge of the person’s wellbeing the whole time, so...” He trailed off.

“Ah, hell, Steve,” Bucky responded. “I didn’t mean to make light of your work. Honest.”

“Nah, it’s alright.” Steve quickly whipped the neck of his shirt back and forth to try to cool himself off before he gave up, took it off, and headed to stand in front of the window unit. “Christ, it’s hot out.” Bucky suddenly realized that he hadn’t seen Steve without his shirt yet because there was a new tattoo he didn’t recognize on the left side of his torso near his hip - two hands together in prayer, wrapped in rope instead of the traditional rosary.

Steve’s phone must’ve buzzed suddenly in his pocket because he grabbed for it and opened the screen to read a message. “Hey, pal, you mind if my friend Sam comes over for dinner tonight?”

He wanted to say, how many fucking friends do you have now; instead he just smiled and nodded. “Sure, why not?”

So that was how he met Sam, with his thick biceps and charming smile and warm-honey voice. He was really, really good looking. Really. Swipe the fuck right, if Sam weren’t already gazing at Steve like he hung the goddamn moon.

And that was how almost all of these friends looked at Steve, even Clint. Like he was special. Like he was important. Like he was loved and cared for and appreciated and respected. And fuck, yeah, Steve was special and deserved all of those things, but he wasn’t used to the entire rest of the world finally seeing it.

“Your friend always this quiet, Cap?” Sam asked, and there was that fucking nickname again. They were sitting around the small dining table tucked under the suspension rig, digging into chicken tinga tacos.

“Not usually, no,” Steve replied with a frown. “You alright, Buck?”

“Peachy.” He fiddled with the label on his beer and grinned the best he could.

“Well, how does it feel to be back in Brooklyn?” Sam asked before taking another bite of his taco. “Steve’s been talking about you coming back nonstop.”

Oh. That elicited a real smile. “I think I’m still getting readjusted to city life. But it’s good to live with Steve again. We were roommates in college.” He realized that made it sound like they only knew each other from college, so—“But we’ve known each other our whole lives, of course.”

Sam laughed. “Yeah, I’ve heard all about your adventures. Is Steve the only old friend you still keep in touch with?”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

“Well, fuck. You should come to The Vic on Saturday! It’s the second anniversary party, so there’ll be lots of people for you to meet. You can make yourself some new friends!” The Vic — short for The Victorian — was an old, nineteenth-century music hall in Bed Stuy that was now an LGBTQ+/BDSM community center and dungeon. You could play board games with your queer friends on Wednesday night and get whipped by your kinky friends the following Saturday. Steve helped run the place with about 20 other volunteers, as if he didn’t have enough to do between art work and sex work.

“Uh,” Steve said, clearing his throat. “Bucky’s pretty vanilla. So.”

And that was true (probably), but it almost sounded like a challenge, even if his throat wanted to close up at the thought. “Well, it’s not like I have anything else better to do.”

Steve blinked in surprise. “Really? You want to go?”

He shrugged. “Why not?”

“Ha ha! Yes!” Sam exclaimed. “That’s what I’m talking about, man.” He clapped him on the shoulder. Bucky tried not to scowl at him. “My corruptive powers are limitless.”

Steve rolled his eyes and shoved Sam playfully. But when he turned back to Bucky, he gave a slight frown of confusion.

And ooo, boy, what exactly had he gotten himself into?

*

Bucky was already on his side of the bed, resting against the wall with an e-book on his phone when Steve came in to go to sleep. Clint was planning on moving in with his partner, Tash, on November 1, so Bucky was just grateful that Steve didn’t mind sharing his space with him in the meantime.

Steve plugged in his phone, placed it on the nightstand, and looked at him before sitting down. “Bucky, are you sure you want to go to The Vic?”

His brows furrowed. “Do you not want me to go?”

“No, no. That’s not— that’s not it at all. It’s just… it’s going to be more than Clint suspending himself. You might see things that make you uncomfortable.”

“What, like people fucking?” he asked, almost as a joke, his voice going a little higher than he’d like.

“Among other things,” Steve said so nonchalantly that Bucky’s eyes widened before he could school a poker face.

He laughed shakily. “I have had sex before.”

Steve rolled his eyes. “No shit, dumbass. There will just be a lot going on. It can be overwhelming the first time, even if you’re already into all this stuff.”

Something in Bucky prickled at Steve’s assumption. He wanted to joke—ha, who says I’m not?— but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. “I’ll head home if it’s too much,” he replied instead. “It’s just Bed Stuy.”

“Alright, well, I don’t actually have much planned because I just wanted it to be a chill night. So we’ll be able to stick together for most of it. But Clint and I are doing a performance with his other partner Kate. I’ll make Tash or Sam babysit you then.”

Babysit? This little punk.

*

Bucky worked himself into a little bit of a tizzy on Friday because he was going to a sex dungeon and he didn’t know what to wear or what to expect or how to act. He was slightly panicked, but he couldn’t bring himself to talk to Steve about it because he was totally cool with going, of course, and didn’t want Steve to think otherwise.

So he asked Clint.

“Uh, well, you can really wear whatever you want.” He was sprawled on the couch in gym shorts, watching dumb YouTube videos with Lucky lying on his chest.

Bucky sighed. “That’s not helpful.”

“Well, you’ll find that the kink world is very much like the real world. Cis dudes tend to make very little effort. So there will be lots of women and trans and nonbinary hotties walking around, lookin’ like a million bucks, and their boyfriends will just throw on a wrinkled shirt from the floor before walking out the door.” Bucky narrowed his eyes because that sounded exactly like something Clint would do. “What? Don’t look at me like that. I know what you’re thinking.”

“Well!” Bucky gestured to Clint’s stained t-shirt.

“Tash is in charge, Buckeroo. They’d never let me get away with going to an event like that. Now, what I do in my own home is my own damn business.”

“Until you move in together.”

Clint shrugged. “Listen, just wear what you’d wear on a date or something. Wear your pretty hair down. Put on some hot boots if you got ‘em. And if you decide this whole scene is your scene, then you can figure out what that means for your wardrobe.”

Bucky nodded. “Alright. Thanks.” He turned to head back to the bedroom.

“Don’t worry. I won’t tell Steve you’re freaking out.”

Bucky flipped him the bird and shut the door behind him.

*

On Saturday, Bucky showered and dried his hair with an actual blow dryer, so it was silky and soft at his shoulders. He figured all-black was a safe choice, so he put on a tight black t-shirt, jeans, and boots.

Steve was still in the shower when he’d finished getting ready, so he sat on the couch with Lucky and resolutely did not act like the big’ ol ball of anxiety he felt on the inside. No, siree.

He was about 4.5 seconds from backing away from this very brave and very dumb decision he’d made just to show up Steve’s stupid friend, when Steve finally walked out of the bathroom. His hair was swept back, undercut freshly buzzed, and he was wearing a plum purple tank top that showed off the lithe muscles of his arms and the tattoos they held. Bucky’s eyes moved down to his very tight jeans and back up to his face, where he saw that Steve’s eyes were lined with black, making them even bluer. And prettier.

“Wow, you look good, Buck,” Steve said, grinning.

Steve looked better than good. He looked… hot. But Bucky just squeaked out a, “Yeah, you too.”

 

 

Steve went into the bedroom and came back out with a duffle bag on his shoulder. Then Lucky gave a sorrowful huff, his one eye still working just fine in the sad puppy dog eye department. “We’ll be back, buddy,” Bucky told him.

On the bus ride over, Steve nudged him with his shoulder. “Did you read the rules I sent you?”

“Yeah, of course,” Bucky replied. Honestly, going into this place without any ground rules sounded like the most terrifying way he could possibly handle it. Most of them were pretty much common sense, like don’t touch someone without their permission but there were other things like don’t interrupt someone’s scene that Bucky might not have inherently known was a bad thing.

He followed Steve once they got off the bus, and it was only a few minutes’ walk until they were standing across the street from a large red brick building with stained glass windows and dark green trim. There was no flashy neon sign like you’d see at a club, and the entrance wasn’t even on the main street. Steve crossed the road and turned the corner, where the only indication that they were in the right place was a mailbox on the door with The Victorian marked with sticky black and gold letters you’d buy at the hardware store.

There was a beautiful woman with a dazzling smile at the front desk who Steve introduced as Nakia. She checked Bucky in as Steve’s guest and then they climbed a wide, dark wooden staircase to the main floor. It was… well, it wasn’t at all what Bucky was expecting. He knew it was a Victorian, but he’d always pictured a dungeon to be in a grimy warehouse, with chains hanging from the ceiling and suspicious splatters on the floor. This place pretty much looked like his grandmother designed it, with floral wallpaper and cozy couches and a giant table filled with potluck wares.

But that was where the thoughts of good ol’ Granny Barnes stopped. Because then his eyes fell to crosses and spanking benches and suspension rigs. The people that were there were in all manners of dress: thigh-highs and heels, latex dresses, booty shorts and fishnets, leather harnesses, kilts, flower crowns, and several folks with nothing on at all. And yeah, Clint was right about the slovenly dudes, too.

His eyes finally fell to Steve next to him, and he was giving Bucky a warm, amused smile. “You’re kind of adorable taking it all in.”

Bucky pushed him playfully. “Fuck off, man.”

Steve laughed. “Welcome to The Vic. Let me introduce you to everyone.” He took Bucky up a spiral staircase that led to a balcony, which overlooked the entire floor. “This is officially called the mezzanine, but, heh, we call it the Perv Perch.” He led Bucky to the railing and he instantly saw how it got its name. You could easily see every play space and every scene from up here.

“Hey, Cap!” They turned around and saw Clint in a leather harness with a steel collar around his neck, sitting at the feet of a redhead whom Bucky could only assume to be Tash.

“Hiya, Tash,” Steve said, confirming Bucky’s suspicions and crossing the mezzanine to reach them. Tash stood up, and Bucky saw a they/them pronoun button pinned to their crop top. The shirt itself read Femme Daddy in a curvy script reminiscent of the Coca-Cola font. They were also wearing a checkered mini-skirt and Doc Martens identical to Steve’s. In fact, they basically had the same haircut too, though Tash’s was curly and fell across their forehead in a lovely sort of way. Steve gave them a hug and they looked back at him with a smile.

“May I kiss you?” they asked. Steve answered with a nod and a soft press of lips and then another. Oh, Bucky thought. Were they dating? Or maybe used to date? Or fucking? Or used to fuck? Tash suddenly pulled back and looked at Bucky, interrupting his internal inquiry.

“You must be Bucky. You’re a brave little vanilla bean. I’m Tash.”

“Uh, hi,” he replied, accepting their handshake.

“Steve’s told me so much about you. He’s so happy you’re back home.”

Bucky tried to smile as best as he could, but it stung a bit to keep hearing how everyone knew about Bucky when he didn’t know about any of them. Even despite the years and the distance, he and Steve had texted regularly and had talked on the phone every month or two. How had he been so completely unaware of this part of Steve’s life?

Steve grabbed his arm and told Tash and Clint that he was going to show Bucky around. He gave him a tour of the space and introduced him to another dozen people, and Bucky knew he wasn’t going to remember half their names. It didn’t help that he couldn’t pay attention because he was in a Steve-shaped funk that he couldn’t seem to snap out of it.

Steve’s brows dipped in concern, and he squeezed his shoulder gently. “You alright, pal?”

And Bucky wanted to play it cool, but Steve always had a way of working through his defenses. “Uh…”

Steve tilted his head and then nodded. “Hey, let’s go in here.” He led Bucky to a door and grabbed his keys from his pocket to unlock it. Inside was an office with a computer, a sound system, filing cabinets, and a random assortment of stuff spilling out of a lost and found bin (is that a blow up doll?).

“What’s up? Is it too much?”

“No, just…” Bucky sighed. “Why does everyone call you Cap?” That wasn’t what he was planning on asking, but okay, mouth.

“Ah,” Steve said, smiling. “When I first got into the scene, I had a play partner, a total brat, who would say ‘aye-aye, Captain’ to me. It kind of stuck. And now it’s my username on Fet—Captain Brooklyn. Oh, um, Fetlife is a kinky social media.”

“I know what it is,” Bucky said sharply.

“Oh?” Steve asked and then shook his head. “We’re getting off topic. A nickname can’t be what’s bothering you, is it?”

“I feel like… you’ve built an entirely new life. Which you should have, right? I’m not faulting you that. But I didn’t know about any of it. Everyone and their brother knows who I am, but you’ve never told me about any of your friends. It’s hard to come back after Becca, after all of these years, and feel... so cut off from you? I don’t know. I know it’s dumb.”

“Oh, Buck.” Steve reached for his hand and squeezed it. “I didn’t tell you about any of this because it felt so trivial and out of place with everything going on with Becca. I just tried to focus on you when we talked, help you out like you helped me when I lost Mom. That’s all.”

“Yeah?” Bucky asked, his voice wavering without his consent. Emotions were dumb.

“Of course, Bucky.” Steve pulled him into his arms and held him tightly. “I can give you a detailed timeline of everything that’s happened since you left if it’ll make you feel better.”

Bucky laughed. “Nah, that’s alright. Maybe… maybe just the important stuff?”

Steve pulled away and gave him a soft smile. “Sure, pal.”

*

The Vic filled up during the next hour. Pretty much all of the equipment was taken up by couples and moresomes engaging in play—spankings and floggings, hot wax dripping onto sensitive skin, bodies bound and lifted with rope. Steve had been right: it was a lot to take in.

Steve was talking to Sam and Okoye, who was the director of the club, about an art show he wanted to host at the Vic in December, and Bucky decided to explore a bit on his own while they talked shop. When he turned a corner, he saw Clint and Tash on floor mats, Clint tied up in rope with Tash’s boot pressed against his throat and their hand fisted in his hair. Bucky pressed himself against the wall, equal parts anxious and curious to see what would play out before him.

“Ask me nicely,” Tash said.

“Please.” Clint’s voice was strained from the pressure of their boot.

“Uh-uh,” they shook their head. Tash’s face was hard, stern. Kind of terrifying, actually. “Not nice enough.”

“Please, daddy, please. I’ll be good.”

Jesus. Bucky’s heart was suddenly pounding in his chest.

“You promise, baby?”

Clint nodded minutely.

Tash yanked on his hair and Clint howled. “Speak when I ask you a question.”

“Yes, daddy. I promise.”

It felt too intimate, like Bucky was watching something secret and private from 10 feet away like the biggest pervert alive, but here they were, doing their thing for the whole club to see.

Bucky was—let’s be honest—Bucky was maybe getting a little hard watching this whole thing go down, but then Tash removed their boot, pulled their panties to the side, and straddled Clint’s face, and holy fuck, he needed some fresh air immediately or he’d never get through this night.

He headed back downstairs and into the warm night, taking several deep breaths once his back hit the brick wall. He was resolutely trying not to think about what he just saw in order to will his erection away, but at the same time, it seemed like he just learned something about himself. Because that was the hottest fucking thing he’d ever seen.

He was out there for 15 to 20 minutes, lost in a litany of oh, god, what the fuck does this mean until his phone buzzed in his pocket with a text from Steve asking where he was. So Bucky took another deep, deep breath and then headed back inside to find him up on the mezzanine.

“Hey! I was scared you’d gone back home.” Steve was sitting next to a girl with pale skin and long black hair with bangs. She was in a lilac linen dress with bell sleeves, and her bare toes peeked out from under the hem. Steve was shirtless now, and the track lights overhead caught on the silver of his nipple rings. His entire chest and torso were now sparkly and shimmery, and he looked… pretty.

“Bucky?” Steve asked, and oops, he must’ve lost himself in his own head for a second.

“I’m, uh, I’m fine. I just needed some fresh air.”

Steve smiled. “Good. This is Kate, Clint’s other partner. We’re just waiting for him and Tash to finish and then we’ll do our performance.”

Bucky and Kate said hi and then he walked over to the railing. He probably shouldn’t have, but he couldn’t keep his eyes from searching for Clint and Tash. His gaze found them still on the mats, with Clint now untied and his head in Tash’s lap. They were brushing their fingers through his hair, and Clint had the biggest, dopiest grin on his face. Clint’s eyes were closed, but when he opened them, he looked up at Tash, and the smile they shared together was so soft and warm, a jarring juxtaposition to what he had just witnessed 30 minutes ago. It made Bucky’s chest flutter.

“They’re cute, aren’t they?” he heard Steve say behind him before joining Bucky at the railing.

“Now they are. Tash was fuckin’ terrifying half an hour ago.”

Steve laughed. “Yeah, they’re pretty scary. But someone’s got to keep Clint in line.” Then Steve turned his head to look at him. “Still doing okay?”

Bucky wanted to say well, I just watched a very intense scene between two people I barely know and it’s awakened some very strange feelings inside that I’m not sure how to deal with so I’m minutely freaking out, but he just nodded and gave the best grin he could muster.

Steve raised one eyebrow but didn’t push him any further.

“Well, this is the one part of the night I can’t help you out to take you home. But Tash has agreed to sit with you during the performance, so they’ll keep an eye on you if you need it.”

“Alright.”

A few minutes later, Clint and Tash meandered up to the mezzanine after cleaning up, and Clint’s face lit up when he saw Kate walking toward him.

“Hey, girly-girl,” Clint said, and then swooped her up into his arms and gave her a loud, and probably wet, kiss on the cheek. “You look gorgeous.”

“Ugh, put me down,” she said with mock disgust, but her grin gave her away.

“Nope,” he replied. “I’m in charge tonight.”

“If you kids are ready,” Steve interrupted.

“Hey,” Clint said to Steve, putting Kate down. “You got all shiny. I wanna be shiny.”

“Oh my god,” Kate said, rolling her eyes.

“What? He looks awesome!”

“Come on,” Steve said, and he, Clint, and Kate headed downstairs to get ready and Bucky was left alone with Tash. There was a suspension rig roped off in the middle of the room downstairs, where Bucky assumed the performance would take place. He could see it perfectly from where they were standing so he turned to ask Tash if they wanted to watch it up here.

“Nah, let’s get closer,” they responded. “Steve’s a little shit when he’s a top, and it’s fun to listen to.”

Okay. Bucky knew that Steve would be doing some sort of performance, but he didn’t really think about what that would mean. Would he be watching something akin to what he had just seen between Tash and Clint? Because he didn’t know if he’d be able to handle seeing Steven Grant Rogers, best friend since grade school, in that sort of situation. His mind started to whirl with a dozen uncomfortable scenarios, each of them worse than the previous in one way or another.

“Hey, you alright?” Tash asked with a frown once they found a seat near the rig.

“Yep,” Bucky said, cursing how panicked he sounded.

“Bucky,” Tash said. “Is it alright if I hold your hand?” Bucky nodded. They reached for his hand, entwining their fingers together. “You don’t have to do this, you know. I can take you home right now if you’d like. You don’t have to do or see anything you’re uncomfortable—”

“Bucky!” Sam interrupted suddenly, coming up behind them. “How are you holding up?”

And Bucky was just about to take Tash up on that offer to go home until this nuisance showed up, reminding him why he came here in the first place. He could do this. He could handle it. He could find a place for himself in Steve’s new life. “Fine. Having a great time.”

“Great!” Sam responded, white teeth gleaming behind his grin. Why was he so damn chipper all the time? The worst part was that it seemed completely genuine. Sam said hi to Tash and then sauntered off to find his own seat.

Tash squeezed his hand. “Bucky. I still stand by what I said. I can take you home.”

He shook his head. “No, I’m—I’m curious. I’m just. Nervous.” He tried to smile but it felt forced.

“Alright.” They looked upward, as if in thought. “Do you find physical touch comforting?”

Yes. He shrugged. “Sure.”

“Okay. Then I’m going to hold your hand for the whole performance for as long as you want, alright? But you can let go at any time.”

Bucky softened at that, felt his insides unravel, even if only by the smallest increment. It was almost difficult to believe that the Tash he saw with a boot to Clint’s throat 30 minutes ago was the same person offering to hold hands with a stranger just to comfort him.

“Thank you,” he responded, giving their hand a squeeze, and they responded with a smile.

The music suddenly faded out and was replaced by a pounding base and catchy rhythm, and Steve, Kate, and a now sparkly Clint stepped forward together. Kate stepped to the middle of the rig and Steve and Clint each knelt in front of a pile of rope at opposite sides of the frame.

“Would you like commentary?” Tash asked.

“Uh, yeah actually,” Bucky replied.

Clint grabbed a length of rope that was coiled and bound together and put it in Kate’s hand. “That little bundle is a hank of rope,” Tash said. Clint stepped behind Kate and leaned to whisper something in her ear. She nodded to him, and he wrapped his arms around her before slowly moving his hands down the front of her body, pressing her solidly against him. She leaned into the touch, her head falling back to Clint’s shoulder. Then he placed one hand at her throat and used the other to tug down the top of her dress, freeing both of her breasts as he did so. She gasped, whether it was because of the cool air on her nipples or at being undressed in such a manner, Bucky didn’t know.

Clint grabbed the hank from Kate’s hand and unfurled it, keeping his fingers at the original loop so that the rope was doubled up. Then he started wrapping it under her breasts. As soon as he started, Steve came to the center and knelt down in front of Kate. He grabbed the bottom of her dress and ripped it open all the way to her hip, exposing the soft, pale flesh of her thigh. Then he loosened his own hank and began to wrap it at her hip.

Bucky’s eyes moved back to Clint, who now had horizontal lines of rope above and below Kate’s chest and was grabbing another hank to tie on to the back. He slung the rope over one shoulder, twisted it in the front between her breasts, and brought it back up the other shoulder, before tying it in the back. Then he roughly grabbed Kate by her hair, and she groaned as he bent her body forward.

“Clint is tying a cupcake harness,” Tash whispered. “He’s leaning her over because it’s the best way to wrap the rope around her breasts.” Clint grabbed a single strand of rope this time before taking one of her breasts in his hand and wrapping very, very tightly around one before doing the same to the other. He grabbed her hair and yanked her back to a standing position, and Bucky could see that her breasts were now taut in their circlings of rope, the skin stretched like a drum, already turning purple from the vice of the bindings.

“Does that hurt?” Bucky whispered.

“Not too badly on its own,” Tash replied. “It’s what you do afterwards that makes it fun.” He could hear the evil in their voice. Terrifying.

Steve had finished the rope at Kate’s hips and pulled the dress aside where he’d ripped it to run a line of rope snuggly against her crotch.

Oh. Bucky squirmed in his seat.

Steve bound her hands behind her back while Clint began to attach lines of rope to various ties on her body before linking them to the metal ring above her or to the sides of the rig itself. Steve dug his index finger under the tight lines binding one of Kate’s breasts before replacing it with rope, tying it off, and yanking on it tightly. Kate cried out as he did so, and he kept the tension before knotting the other end of the rope to the rig.

“Aww, does that hurt?” Steve asked with a pout. She groaned but didn’t say anything, and he pulled even harder on the rope before smacking her breast, eliciting a gasp. “How about now?”

“Ugh, yes,” she responded breathily.

Steve laughed and circled behind her while Clint tied one of her legs to the opposite side of the rig in what looked to be a pretty uncomfortable angle. “This is where things get interesting,” Tash said. “See, they’re creating a predicament.”

Steve grabbed the upline tied to Kate’s back, dropped to the ground on his back and pulled so that she was forced to stand on the tip toes of one foot. Then he grabbed the rope at her crotch and tied that to the ring as well, wrenching her hips backward. “She can relieve the foot she’s standing on by letting herself be fully suspended by the rope, but that’s going to create a whole bunch of fun-not-fun in her nether regions. She can relieve the tension on her breast, but that would mean an even more uncomfortable position for the leg that’s tied up.”

Now that she was in this position, Bucky could see the bigger picture, the beauty of it—a spider’s web of tension and pain and balance. There was an ingenuity to the fact that she was in charge of deciding which parts of her body would receive mercy at the expense of the others. And Kate herself was a vision, her soft purple gown draping gracefully against her body, a pretty picture in contrast to the stress and pain written on her face.

“How you doing, girly?” Clint asked. Her body was trembling, and even from here, Bucky could see the stress her toes were under to hold herself up.

But she smiled at him despite all of that, her eyes half-lidded, her face flushed. “I’m good.”

“So you’re ready for more?” Steve asked. She nodded. Steve picked up a riding crop from the ground. “Let’s see how much longer you can stand on those tippy toes, Hawkeye.” And then he raised the crop and hit the inside of her thigh with a loud thwack, which echoed around them. She cried out, but stayed steady. Steve hit her again, and again, her voice rising in pitch and volume each time. “Come on, sugar, you know you want to give in.”

Bucky’s stomach fluttered at the term of endearment. He’d never heard Steve say something like that to someone.

She shook her head. “No.”

“You sure?” Clint interjected, embracing her from behind.

Bucky realized that he was so enraptured, so on edge, that he was gripping Tash’s hand in a vice. He loosened his hold, but didn’t let go.

“You’re not making me, boss-man.”

“You hear that, Cap?” Clint asked.

“Mmm, a challenge,” Steve responded, and god, the smirk on his face was unreal. He reached over to the side for another hank of rope and tied it tightly right below her knee.

“Oh, fuck,” Kate whispered.

Clint laughed. “Yep, your favorite.”

Steve pulled the rope taut and then wrapped her calf like a vice, over and over down her leg in a spiral and then crossing back up. It looked perfectly innocent, really. It was tight, sure, but it didn’t look anything like the purple of her breasts.

“That’s a calf torture tie,” Tash said. “It hurts like a bitch.” Oh. So much for perfectly innocent.

She was already whimpering before Steve used the remaining length of rope for leverage, pulling it tightly and then digging the heel of his boot against her shin. She cried out, her knee almost buckling. Steve laughed. “Still feelin’ tough?”

She groaned. “Fuck off, Cap.”

Then Steve and Clint looked at each other over Kate’s shoulder.

“Oh, girly,” Clint said in mock concern, and Steve tsk’d, tying off the rope on her leg. Clint smacked both of her breasts simultaneously, and she yelled out in response. Bucky looked over to Steve, his heart damn near in his throat at this point, and saw that he was holding a thin stick made of light wood.

“Oh, Kate hates canes,” Tash whispered. Bucky swallowed. Then Steve rapped the cane against the top of her foot, his brows drawn together in focus. She jumped forward with a shriek, almost falling into suspension, but she stayed steady.

“She’s a fucking trooper,” Bucky whispered in awe. Her entire body was trembling with exertion.

“Yeah, Clint doesn’t like ‘em easy.”

Clint and Steve looked at each other again and nodded. And then two things happened simultaneously, Steve rapped her foot once more with a powerful blow, and Clint twisted both of her purpled nipples. She screamed and fell forward, caught only by the rope between her legs. She sobbed, tears streaking down her face. Steve stepped back and Clint fell to his knees in front of her pushing her hair back, hushing her softly.

“That’s it,” Clint said. “You did so well, Katie-bird.” Her body was wracked with heaving sobs. She hung there for several moments, lost in the pain, before Clint finally untied the knot on her calf and Steve made quick work of the uplines. He slowly lowered her to her knees. Her arms were still tied behind her, but Clint enveloped her in his embrace.

Steve knelt in front of them and brushed the hair away from her face as her sobs quieted. “You okay, honey?” His voice was soft now, kind. She nodded. “Think you can stand up so we can give everyone a little bow?” She nodded again, and Steve stood and pulled her up gently before the three of them bowed.

Bucky heard clapping around him, but his hand was still clasped tightly with Tash’s, and he was too dazed to let go and join in. He was still watching them as they returned to the ground to untie Kate, her body soft and pliant against Clint as Steve’s fingers moved deftly to remove the bindings.

Tash squeezed his hand. “Are you alright?” they asked, pulling Bucky out of his thoughts.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry,” he let go of their hand and finally forced his eyes away to smile at Tash. “Um, thank you for the commentary, and the, uh, literal hand-holding.”

“Sure. You did great!”

“Thanks,” he responded.

A few minutes later found Bucky surrounded by most of Steve’s friends, all of whom wanted to go out to a diner for a late-night breakfast.

“You want to come along, Bucky?” Sam asked.

“Um, no. I’m actually pretty wiped. Just want to go home and crash.”

“Everything okay?” Steve asked, touching his arm.

“Yeah, perfect,” he responded with the best smile he could muster.

*

Bucky really did plan to go home and go to sleep but his mind wouldn’t shut off long enough for him to do so. He kept replaying the night over and over again, his chest squeezing tighter and tighter until it almost felt hard to breathe. Everything had all been so goddamn overwhelming, and he had no idea how to process it.

There was an uncomfortable pit in his chest that he couldn’t name, growing and gnawing as the minutes passed. At some point he realized that he was beginning to dread Steve coming home and crawling into their shared bed. Surely things between them hadn’t changed, right? He’d known that this was what Steve did, not only for a living but for fun too. But now his memories kept zeroing in on the deftness of his fingers against the rope, the devilishness of his smile while teasing Kate, the intensity of his gaze while causing her pain—and why wouldn’t his brain just shut up?!

He got up, went to the bathroom, and pulled out the bottle of sleeping pills the doctor had prescribed after Becca’s death, the result of countless restless nights filled with grief and sorrow and hopelessness. He swallowed one, dry, before turning out the light and heading back to the bedroom.

When Steve finally got home around 3 a.m., Bucky ignored his whispered, “you awake?” in favor of feigning sleep. Steve fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow, completely unaware of Bucky’s internal meltdown as they lay side-by-side in the same bed.

*

Despite the sleeping pill, he was still awake before Steve. Sunlight was peeking in through the curtain edge, falling over Steve’s hair, illuminating its soft, golden threads. Steve’s hair had always been beautiful, the color of sweet honey right off the comb. Bucky found himself with a sudden... yearning to reach out and touch it, to brush through the silky strands, to rub his fingertips over the freshly buzzed undercut, and—oh. Oh.

That was a new development.

He took a deep breath and looked toward the ceiling. Maybe last night’s panic was only 30 percent due to what he’d seen and 70 percent due to who he’d seen doing it. Did that mean… did that mean he wanted to do those things with Steve? Did he want even more from him? He sighed and turned back over to face him again.

Even in sleep Steve was a fighter. If he wasn’t kicking and flailing (Bucky had a lifetime of bruises to prove it), his brows would knit together, no doubt arguing some fool under the table in his dreams. Bucky’s eyes roamed over his tensed face, cataloguing its changes over the years — thicker brows, fuller cheeks — and he ached to trail the the tips of his fingers against the line of his jaw and along the cushion of his lips.

Yeah. It seemed he wanted a lot of things from Steve.

Steve’s eyes suddenly opened and caught him mid-realization. “You watchin’ me, weirdo?” he slurred sleepily, before closing his eyes again and flipping over to his stomach, his face still turned toward Bucky.

“Yup,” he said, feigning nonchalance. “A regular Edward Cullen.”

“Wha?”

Bucky shrugged. “Twilight.”

Steve cracked open one eye. “The fuck you know about Twilight?”

“Becca,” he said. Because she’d been as obsessed with Twilight as every other pre-teen girl and had still watched those blasted movies repeatedly years later during endless chemo sessions.

“Oh,” Steve whispered, and then the silence of grief and sympathy that happened when someone accidentally brought up the recently deceased expanded between them like a chasm, gaping and uncomfortable. But then Steve reached out and put a warm hand on his shoulder. “You were a good brother, Bucky. She was so lucky to have you.”

Bucky smiled around the lump in his throat, unable to say a word because then the waterworks would start.

“Hey, uh, how was last night?” Steve asked, turning back onto his side. He was probably trying to take Bucky’s mind off of Becca, but fuck, he didn’t want his mind going there either.

“It was—” terrifying, mind-altering, so goddamn hot “—a lot to take in.”

Steve nodded, his face growing serious. “Sam shouldn’t have pushed you.”

“No, it was…” he trailed off, unsure how to continue. Then, “I liked Tash a lot. They explained everything that was happening during your performance. Which, by the way, was—I mean—I’m guessing it was great. I have no idea what I’m talking about but I thought it was—” enrapturing “—good.”

Steve rolled his eyes and grinned. “High praise, I guess. And yeah, Tash means the world to me. They’re one of the people I got closest to when you left.”

Bucky took a deep breath. “Are you dating? Or used to?”

“Oh,” Steve huffed a laugh. “No. I mean, we’ve had sex a couple of times but that was years ago. They’re obviously gorgeous, but we don’t really” he brought his hands together, bridging his fingers, “mesh sexually.”

Bucky didn’t really know how to respond to that, but then Steve saved him from having to come up with something. “What are your plans for the day? I’m meeting a client at 6, but we could make pancakes and rewatch Cowboy Bebop like our high school days?”

Bucky grinned. “Aw, remember when I used to call you Ed?”

“Ah, fuck. How could I forget?”

“Skinny and weird, just like you were.” His eyes roamed up and down Steve’s body, narrowing in appraisal. “Are.”

Steve shoved him. “Fuck off, Barnes.”

*

Watching the performance had left him forever changed. Steve had no idea, treating Bucky exactly as he always had, going about his day-to-day life as if Bucky weren’t suddenly mad with lust for him. As if it were perfectly normal to crawl into bed next to his best friend and not want so deeply in his bones that it was hard to sleep. Steve still played video games with him, he still stole his beer, he still argued with him over shit that happened 15 years ago, all while Bucky simmered in his misery.

When he was on his own, his mind would fixate, a hungry dog sucking the marrow off a bone. He lasted three days until he opened up his laptop and fell down a rabbit hole of BDSM porn, coming so quickly once he finally touched himself that it was frankly embarrassing. Then Steve came home that night with mussed hair and kiss-swollen lips from whatever client he’d seen that day, and Bucky’s belly ached with deep-seated want, wishing so desperately for something he could never ask for.

He lasted another two days before giving in and snooping around for Steve’s Fetlife account. He had to create his own account to do so (hello, curious_buck), and then he put Steve’s username into the search bar.

And there he was:
captain-brooklyn, M, Dom
New York City, NY

Bucky hesitated for two moments, wondering if this was some sort of invasion of privacy, before deciding that Steve was the one who put it on the internet. So he clicked.

 

 

I’m Steve. Or Cap if ya feeling nasty.

All Work
I’m a sadistic, and sometimes playful, pro-dom in this little town we call New York City. I’m well versed in bondage and a few hundred ways to cause pain but, for me, these are means to an end: the exchange of power between two human beings.

I book sessions with folks of all genders, sizes, ages, abilities, and sexual orientations. While I do book one-time sessions, it’s better for both of us to consider any arrangement to be a long-term venture. The deeper the level of trust and connection, the better the exchange will be.

And All Play
I help keep the gears running at The Victorian, my home away from home. There you’ll find me teaching or facilitating or just having fun on my own time. Right now, I’m keeping my private and professional lives separate and am only playing with friends during dungeon nights at The Vic.

Makes Cap a Happy Human
In the vanilla world, I’m an artist who’s into most of the nerdy shit you are: hobbits and wizards and dragons (oh, my!). Russian_Doll says I should tell you that I’m a Gryffindor. And a Cancer. The first one is true, but I have no idea what the second one means.

You can fuck right off if you’re a
SWERF, TERF, or Trump supporter.

There were photos, and Bucky bit his lip, his hand hovering hesitantly over the trackpad before ultimately giving in to click on them. He didn’t really know what to expect, but if he’d hoped for anything overtly pornographic, there wasn’t any at first. There were many rope images, most of which didn’t even picture Steve since he was the one who had tied the models. He went through dozens of these, and right when he was about to close out, he clicked next and suddenly felt his breath escape his body. The photo was of a man on his knees, naked and bound, his cock flushed and hard between his legs. Steve was standing over him, his index finger lifting up the man’s chin and his thumb digging into his bottom lip. Steve was shirtless, black leather pants slung low on his hips, and his skin was dewy with sweat. But the power he exuded with just that one thumb against this nameless man’s mouth while a soft smile tugged at his lips was overwhelming, even in a two-dimensional photograph.

Bucky took a shuddering breath and closed his laptop. He rubbed his hands briskly over his face, his gut twisting with what he had seen. What was he doing? What did he really want from this? This was Steve, his best friend; flesh and blood and not some dominant fantasy on a pedestal.

He had to get his shit together.

*

Steve texted that afternoon that he wouldn’t be home until late. Last-minute schedule change with a client. So Bucky and Clint ordered Chinese food and watched Blade Runner and smoked a bowl. There were only 10 minutes left in the movie when Steve came in and headed straight toward the shower. Bucky had already switched off the TV by the time Steve came back out in pajama pants and a threadbare t-shirt. Clint got up to take out Lucky, and Steve stole his spot on the couch before snatching his veggie lo mein.

“Hey,” Bucky said. “That’s mine.”

“Snooze, ya lose, Bucko,” Steve replied as he took a very large bite of noodles. Bucky giggled and Steve raised one eyebrow in response. “You’re high.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because I have a working nose,” he said, pointing to it, “and you’re giggling like an idiot.”

Bucky shrugged and smiled. “Touché.”

Steve got up to get a beer and Clint came back with Lucky, shuffling him into his bedroom before saying goodnight.

“I talked to Okoye today. We finally agreed to a date for the art show. December 14.” The Vic had never put on something like that before, so it was a huge testament of Okoye’s faith in Steve to take on such a venture. He’d been talking about it nonstop since the anniversary event.

“Dude, that’s great.”

Steve grinned. “I’m fucking pumped.”

“How’d your night go?” Bucky asked when Steve sat back down. He stretched out and put his feet in Bucky’s lap.

“Oh, fine,” Steve said and took a sip of his beer.

“Just fine?” He asked. “Was it fun?”

Steve’s eyes narrowed before he answered. “Yeah, it was fun. It’s always fun to play with this client, which is why I don’t mind if her schedule gets wonky at times.”

“What was it like? What did you do?” And what the fuck, James Barnes? His mouth was running away from him and he wanted it to stop immediately.

“Uh,” he rubbed the back of his neck, “well I don’t like to share specific information about my clients.”

Bucky nodded. “Right. Dom-patient privilege.”

Steve’s head kicked back in laughter. “They’re not patients, dumbass.” He dug his left heel into Bucky’s leg. “I just have to be discreet in this line of work.”

“Yeah, I get it.” Bucky said and then reached over to steal Steve’s beer from his hand and take a drink. “Can you, uh,” he swallowed, “describe things in general terms?”

Steve shrugged. “I guess. What do you wanna know?”

“What’s it like? What do you… get out of it?”

“Other than money?” Steve asked and Bucky nodded. “Well, if it’s good, if there’s a connection there… at the most basic level, it’s fun. It’s… a rush. Endorphins, adrenaline. If it’s deeper, if there’s trust,” he paused for a moment, looking upward in thought. “Someone is giving themselves to you completely. And in exchange, you give them what they need, what they crave. It’s… heady. There’s nothing else like it.” Steve’s voice turned wistfully soft at the end, almost a whisper, and Bucky felt his skin prickle with want, his gut aching to know more, to experience it himself.

“Steve,” Bucky whispered, almost inaudible.

“Yeah?”

He took a breath, trying to muster up the courage to ask Steve for what he wanted so goddamn badly. “What if—”

And then Clint yanked the door open and barged into the room. “Shit, I think something’s wrong with Lucky.”

Steve jumped up from the couch. “What’s wrong?”

“He’s throwing up and, Christ, I’m high as fuck right now, so I can’t really tell if it’s normal or if it’s serious.”

“Alright,” Steve replied, and walked over to Clint’s bedroom. “Bucky, will you get some stuff to clean up?”

Bucky nodded, his own head reeling, and walked to the kitchen to get paper towels and cleaning spray. When he entered Clint’s room, Steve was kneeling on the floor, petting Lucky, looking him over, all while his tail was wagging like no tomorrow.

“He doesn’t seem too sick, Clint,” Steve said. “Must’ve just had an upset stomach. I wouldn’t worry about it.”

Clint’s body sagged in relief, then he grabbed the cleaning stuff from Bucky. “Okay,” he whispered. “Okay. Alright. Thanks, Steve. I panicked for a sec there.”

“Of course,” Steve said. “You’re probably just feeding him too much human food again.”

“Uh, I don’t have any idea what you mean, Cap.”

Steve rolled his eyes. “Sure. Do you need help?”

“Nah, I got it,” Clint replied.

Steve nodded and left the room, so Bucky followed behind. Steve sat back down on the couch and picked up the carton of lo mein to resume eating. He looked at Bucky expectantly.

Bucky could join him, they could pick the conversation back up where they’d left off, he could ask Steve the question he really wanted to ask. But the moment felt over now, the bubble burst, faded into nothingness the moment Clint opened the door.

“I’m tired,” he said instead. “I think I’m going to turn in.”

“Oh, alright,” Steve said, smiling softly. “Good night, Buck.”