Bucky felt half frozen, but at least he’d gotten his pay. Ice delivery was seasonal, and he wouldn’t have the job much longer with winter coming on early, but – for now – it was something else to make their ends meet. Still, after so long in the cold, he was ready to get home and warm up, with help, if he could. Bucky unlocked the apartment door, the scent of a hot dinner slapping him in the face as soon as he got it open: Boiled potatoes and fried cabbage. Again. And Stevie had slipped in a piece of fatback. Again.
Bucky rolled his eyes with a smile as he lifted the pot lid. Fuck it. In word and deed, he was sinning enough already; G-d could shut his hole about Bucky eating bacon. He’d had far worse – or far better – things in his mouth this week. Speaking of. “Stevie? You up?”
“If I hadn’ta been, I would be with all your hollering.” Steve sounded raspy, though no more than expected, and his usual teasing snappishness seemed unaffected by the morning’s bout of hacking. “Hurry up and eat; the show’s broadcastin’ soon.”
Hearing Stevie’s backtalk was more than enough to ease Bucky’s mind, especially after spending all day mentally fretting over him. Knowing Steve was well enough to bitch was always a relief.
Bucky unlaced his work shoes, setting them to dry by the door. He peered into their room to see Steve sitting up in his pyjamas, leaning over the middle of Bucky’s bed. He’d pushed the curtains aside and was looking out the window. The old Packard Bell – the one they’d bought off Miss Evelyn, and that Bucky had fixed up – wasn’t even on.
“Stevie…” His boyfriend sat up at hearing his name sighed out, even having the decency to look a little guilty as Bucky sat beside him and leaned in for a kiss.
The firm press of Steve’s mouth was a welcome warmth, and nearly enough to distract Bucky from his worries. However, since they centred around the man trying to banish them with his tongue, well… “What are you doin’ over here? And how were ya planning to listen to the radio if it’s off, huh?”
“There was a scuffle out back; I wanted to see.”
“Yeah, well get away from the window.” Bucky punctuated his words with a last light brush of fingers across Steve’s cheek as he pulled the curtain with his left hand. “There’s a draught.”
“You’re not my mother.”
“Course not; and I hope you didn’t ever kiss her like that.” Bucky winked, watching his boyfriend’s ears redden. “But that don’t mean I want you to fall down dead, either.” Bucky laid another kiss atop Steve’s hair before heading back for the kitchen. “Move over to the other bed, doll.”
The echoes of Steve’s grousing followed him as he went back into the kitchen to eat, along with the squeak of the floorboards as the smaller man puttered across the room. Even through the wall, Bucky could hear the click of the dial and the rising keen of the tubes as the radio warmed up. It was already half past eight; he needed to hurry and finish his dinner.
Bucky dropped his work clothes into the hamper and closed the last button on his night shirt, fingers still tremulous with cold. Washing up would’ve been much nicer if the fucking boiler actually worked worth a damn. He opened the radiator valve as far as he could, anyway, before he left the bathroom; with any luck, some of the heat would make it to their beds tonight.
Steve was waiting for him when he came out – looking giddy as ever – listening intently even though it was just a commercial for washing powder. Bucky nudged his hip against Steve’s shoulder – “Make room.” – before gently pushing him closer to the wall.
“The bed’s too small!”
“You’re too small! Go on; we’ll fit.”
He might have stuck out his lip like a ninny, but Steve accommodated him, opening up enough space for Bucky to slip into bed beside him. It was tight, but there wasn’t much he liked better than coming home to curl up with his fellow and forget about their lives outside for an hour or two.
It was getting harder the older they got; at his age, Bucky could only fake going with the same girl so long before folks started asking questions. Steve being so damn ornery and pugnacious helped – kept people from thinking Stevie was a Nancy as often – but they were still getting to that point where one of them oughta be settling down. The world would only look the other way for so long, but… Bucky would figure something out; he always did.
With a sigh, he slid his arm behind Steve’s back, just getting comfortable when he felt feet – ice-cold and bony – press into his shin. “Fuckin’ hell, Stevie! Your toes are freezing. Where are your woolens?”
“I don’t need socks; just let me put ‘em on you.”
“You’re already sick. Now I’m gonna get frostbitten from your stupid feet.” Bucky pulled Steve in close along his side, tucked up under his arm. He might not’ve been the biggest guy, but he was plenty big enough to warm Steve’s tiny frame against his own. Bucky laid his cheek on top of Steve’s head, feeling a different warmth spreading from his chest. “At least lemme hold ya if you’re gonna make me be your fender.”
Steve nodded into his chest, thin arms circling Bucky’s waist, cold fingers slipping up beneath his nightshirt. They waited through the end of the soap-romance; Bucky fighting not to gripe about the weak plot as Steve listened raptly. The announcer gave the time, and Bucky checked to make sure he’d wound his watch and the bed stand clock.
Steve curled back in against him as they resettled, soft query already edged with drowsiness. “You think he’ll get ‘em this time?”
“Stevie…” Now Bucky did roll his eyes, teasing his boyfriend with an indulgent smile. “He gets them every time. That’s why he’s the hero.” He ruffled Steve’s hair, then ran his fingers back through to smooth down the mussed blond strands. “Prob’ly gets boring, winning all the time.”
Steve tipped his head back, smile soft and relaxed. “He died from that pirate curse the one time, though.”
“Well, maybe…” As much shit as he gave his boyfriend for being drawn into the repetitive stories and plots, Bucky could admit he was a sucker for the damn shows, too. He might be more discerning in his tastes, but – even if Bucky did prefer the space adventure broadcast on Thursdays – he didn’t mind these lone hero type stories. And he did pay attention, which was how he knew Stevie was only half right. “But they still beat the guy, and then his sidekick just took over, remember? The kid that kept getting stuck in the rafters?”
“Yeah,” Steve nodded against him, and Bucky relaxed back against the bed frame. “But then he got cursed, anyway…”
They listened through the hourly station report, a brief comedy sketch, then another round of advertisements that Bucky couldn’t stop from yelling at. “Ah, shit, get to the show! Nobody needs your damn stupid tyres.”
“Shut up.” Steve’s elbow caught him in the side as the theme played. He sat up, excitedly leaning forward, as if it’d help him hear better. “It’s starting; it’s starting!”
With a laugh, Bucky pulled Steve back into his arms, ignoring his sputtered protestations to kiss him again as the narrator came on air.
“When last we left our intrepid heroes, they were venturing across the Alps in search of…”
Steve might have squirmed in his hold, but they missed a good five minutes of the show, anyway, before they pulled apart. With a last whisper across his lips – “After, Buck.” – Steve snuggled back beneath his arm, slowly warming fingers curling in Bucky’s nightshirt as they listened.
Bucky shifted Steve onto the pillow and slipped out of the bed as quietly as he could. Even through his socks, the floorboards were cold under his feet as he walked across the room and turned off the radio, cutting the soft band music. No dancing around the kitchen tonight; they were both nearly dead and dug up as it was.
A sleepy voice mumbled behind him as the whine of the tubes died down. “Did he beat ‘em?”
“Naw; not yet.” Bucky crossed back to Steve’s bedside, pulling the quilts higher around his thin shoulders. “They’re stuck on the ghost train, so we won’t find out until next week.”
“Fuck.” Steve yawned around the end of the word, and damn if that wasn’t the sweetest sight.
Still, that didn’t mean Bucky wasn’t going to tease him for it. “Steven Grant. First you’re sleepin’ in my bed; now you’re pickin’ up my bad habits?”
“Too tired to pick up much else.” Steve’s stretch was languorous, face unapologetic as he asked, “C’mere?”
“Ya sure the bed’s not too small?” Despite his words, Bucky was already pulling back the blankets, knee resting on the mattress as he leaned to press off the light button.
Steve loosed a petulant huff and reached up for him. “Shut your pretty mouth and get in here.”
There was enough of a glow coming in through the thin curtains that Bucky could make out the wicked little smirk on Steve’s face. He leaned into those insistent, tugging hands, letting himself be pulled closer, but still braced up on his palms. “I just sat all quiet-like for an hour, Stevie. Maybe I wanna keep jawing?”
“Maybe you could do something better with that mouth?” Steve wasn’t strong enough to force him down any further – he ended up lifting himself off the mattress when he pulled at Bucky’s shoulders – but it still brought Steve’s mouth temptingly near.
Bucky could’ve kissed him right then, but… “Got any ideas?”
“I might have.”
“Yea-?” He was cut off as Steve finally arched into him, lips pressing briefly to Bucky’s own. His boyfriend leaned back long enough to answer around his smirk – “Mm… yeah.” – before Bucky set to kissing him in earnest, letting Steve’s warm lips chase away every last trace of his chill.