Bucky’s hair had been allowed to grow freely during their time with Hydra. Once they were free and back with Steve, they left it long. From time to time, they thought about cutting it to be as short as it had been before the war. Bucky wondered if it might help them find their way back to who they had been then. Whoever that might have been.
The topic of a potential haircut came up in their conversations with Steve every now and again.
“Do you think I should cut my hair?” They would ask.
“Do you want to cut your hair?” Steve would ask in turn.
That was usually how Steve responded to that sort of question. Steve had figured out that Buck had a habit of putting the wants and opinions of others above their own. It wasn’t often that their first thought about anything was whether it was something they wanted to do of their own free will. Steve wanted them to start challenging that when they could, and start thinking about what it was they wanted out of life.
And they didn’t want to cut their hair. Not really.
So they didn’t.
And it kept growing.
When Bucky moved into the tower, they were immediately stripped of all their weapons. While they understood the reasons behind the weapon ban, it wasn’t long before they managed to quietly get their hands on more. Steve knew about the knife stash, of course, but he never said anything. Or seemed to ever tell anyone else about it.
Bucky liked their knives. Whenever the Asset felt particularly close to the surface, they would sit and polish their collection. The actions came to them without conscious thought, and they barely noticed the passage of time. Bucky could spend hours passing a cloth gently over their blades, silently working their way through their stash. It helped them clear their head, and the Soldier usually went back into the depths without issue.
Bucky liked their knives. Their knives were theirs. Theirs to use (or not use) as they wished. Hydra wasn’t exactly a big advocate for bodily autonomy, and they certainly weren’t the type to give the Asset any toys to play with, purely for the sake of having fun. It meant that Bucky was just that little bit more appreciative of finally having that autonomy back. Both over themselves and the items in their possession.
Bucky liked their knives. What they didn’t particularly like, however, was other people having knives. Or any sharp object of any sort. During the first few weeks of their recovery, they either couldn’t be around Steve while he was cooking, or they had to handle the chopping of ingredients themselves. They trusted Steve completely, but the sight of a knife in his hands made them nervous.
Bucky really wasn’t a fan of knives (or other sharp objects) on or anywhere near their person. A particular point of anxiety for them was their neck. And near their neck, but out of their immediate line of sight? No thank you, not today. As such, even if they had desperately wanted a haircut, it wasn’t exactly an option for them. They would rather avoid going Winter Soldier on the poor person just trying to do their job.
For related reasons, shaving wasn’t particularly high on their list of favourite things either. They had let their facial hair grow to the point where they had a beard to rival Steve’s. It didn’t bother them, and it didn’t bother Steve. So they kept it.
For a while at least.
As Bucky recovered, bits and pieces of their memories came back to them. A lot of them were about Steve, but every so often they learnt something about the old Bucky. The bucky that had existed before the war. The Bucky that they would never be again.
That Bucky had fallen into the ravine. Someone else had walked out.
Or, you know. Dragged.
The point was that hints of the old Bucky remained in them, but they were few and far between. Initially, Bucky was desperately worried about what would happen once Steve realised he wouldn’t be getting his Bucky back. When Steve realised that, although he physically had Bucky back, they would never be quite the same as Steve remembered them. Would that be the final straw for Steve?
After all, the Bucky of today was a thousand miles from the person Steve fell in love with. Steve had loved the bold, proud, perhaps slightly vain Bucky of their childhood. Not the tired, broken, mess of a person that made up who Bucky was now.
That worry had hit hard and fast pretty early on, and it had been squashed just as quickly.
“Do you miss him?” Bucky asked over breakfast. It had been a long night of nightmare after nightmare after nightmare, and they were exhausted. Even after Steve had been woken from their screaming, and had slipped into their bed to keep them company, their sleep was still fitful and broken.
But it helped, having someone to hold you through it all. It didn’t stop the nightmares, but it made them more bearable. Bucky liked waking up, wrapped in Steve’s warmth. Even if they were gasping and shuddering from the remnants of a nightmare.
“Do I miss who?”
“My Bucky is right here,” Steve said with a smile, reaching over the table to take Bucky’s hand. “My Bucky didn’t go anywhere.”
“But I’m not... I’m not the same,” Bucky protested. When Steve just frowned, confused, Bucky kept trying to explain. “Your Bucky was brave and confident and good. I’m the result of years of torture and murder. I shouldn’t exist. I’m wrong. I’m a mistake.”
Bucky felt the tears welling up as they spoke. Partially out of frustration, partially out of fear. As much as they were afraid of Steve leaving, they had to make him understand. Bucky couldn’t lie to Steve about who they were. Steve had to know the truth.
“Bucky, look at me,” Steve said gently. Bucky exhaled heavily and then looked up at him. “Of course you’re not the same person that fell into the ravine. How could you be? You spent decades being tortured and used. No one would come out of that without changing.
“You’re different, but that doesn’t make you bad, or any less worthy of love. You’re still brave, you’re still good. You’re so, so good Bucky. You’re my Bucky, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“But I’m not the person you fell in love with,” Bucky protested.
“I’m not the person you fell in love with either. I’ve changed. I’m not the same man that went into the ice. Do you love me any less?” Steve asked. He reached up to brush a loose strand of hair out of Bucky’s face, caressing the skin gently.
“That’s different,” Bucky huffed. “You’re not broken. You’re different, but you’re still you.”
“And you’re still you, too. You’re not broken, Bucky. A little cracked maybe, but not broken.”
“So you’re okay with me? You’re okay that you’re never going to get your Bucky back?” Bucky asked, bitterness seeping into his voice.
“Buck, listen to me,” Steve said firmly. He let go of Bucky’s hand to cup their face in both his hands. “You will always, always, be my Bucky. No matter what happens to either of us, you’ll always be my Bucky, and I’ll always be your Steve. We aren’t the same now, compared to when we were kids, but then who is? That’s what happens when you grow up. You could grow another head and sprout pink hair all over your body, and you’d still be my Bucky.”
Bucky let out a wet laugh at that. As Steve had talked, so earnest and open, the tears had quickly built up again. They weren’t always super in touch with their emotions, but they always seemed to have a lot of them.
Some of it was sadness. Sadness that they’d never be able to get back their life from before the war. Sure, it hadn’t been easy, what with Steve’s poor health and their general lack of money. But it was infinitely easier than this — Bucky recovering from years of torture and Steve dealing with the weight of being Captain America. Dealing with the loss of their world, and everyone in it. Dealing with suddenly being catapulted into the future.
Some of it was anger. Anger at the people who had done this to Bucky, who had torn them apart and destroyed the person they used to be. Who had created the Asset and forced it to do their bidding. Who, after everything else, had left them as a broken shell, desperately clinging onto who they were supposed to be.
Some of it was relief. Relief that they were here, safe, and with Steve. That Steve wasn’t going to abandon them because they couldn’t be the person he had met and grown up with. That Steve still showed the same unbreakable devotion to the things that were important to him. Whether those things were his beliefs, or the people he loved.
And some of it was because they loved this big, blond softie way too much for their body to handle, and all that love had to go somewhere. But, rather than burst into tears, they burst out laughing. Steve was helpless to resist the infectious happiness and joined in too. And that was how they spent the next few minutes. Laughing hysterically over their bacon and eggs.
Of all the weird things that Tony would later walk in on them doing in the kitchen, this was, by far, the least traumatic for him. Even if it was slightly alarming.
Life went on, and so did Bucky’s recovery. Memories of the old Bucky began coming back to them, a lot faster than they had before. One morning, Bucky was hit with the sudden memory of spending hours getting ready before heading out on a date. They couldn’t remember who the date was with, but they remembered the enjoyment they got out of looking good for it.
Bucky remembered slicking pomade through their hair, and shaving to get rid of stubble. From what they could remember, they never had much of a beard back then, and preferred to keep clean-shaven. They remembered carefully gliding the blade of their razor over their skin. They remembered the way that Steve used to enjoy rubbing his face along their soft, freshly shaved skin. A bit like an overly affectionate cat, really.
Bucky stood and headed into the bathroom, stopping in front of the sink to stare at themselves in the mirror. They ran a hand over the scruffy hair that covered the lower half of their face. Their beard was nothing like Steve’s. Steve’s was carefully maintained and trimmed. Steve’s beard looked damn good.
Bucky’s beard made it look like they hadn’t seen a razor in six months.
Which, now that they thought about it, wasn’t wrong.
“Hey, Stevie?” They called.
“Yeah, Buck?” Steve yelled back from the kitchen.
“Come here for a sec?” Bucky waited for a moment, then Steve came through the doorway.
“I think I want to shave my beard.”
“Oh. Do you think you—”
“I want to shave my beard,” Bucky rolled their eyes. It was mostly for show, they appreciated the fact that Steve always double checked what they wanted when they didn’t seem sure.
“We can do that. JARVIS can probably buy one online for you, and it’ll be here in a couple of days.”
“Oh,” Bucky said, slightly disappointed. Now that they had noticed just how scruffy their beard had become, it was going to bug them until they did something about it. They could probably wait a couple of days.
“But if you really want to do it today, you can just use mine,” Steve suggested.
“Is that okay?” Bucky asked, excited again. Scratch that, they wouldn’t have lasted a couple of days. When they decided they wanted something, it was pretty hard convincing them otherwise. And they were usually pretty impatient about it, too. Steve thought it was endearing. Most of the time. Some of the time.
“Yeah, go for it. Do you need any help?”
“Steve. I’m one of the deadliest assassins the world has ever seen. I think I can handle shaving my face.”
“No, that’s not what I meant, I just—”
“I know, Stevie, I was just teasing,” Bucky smirked.
Steve chuckled. “You’re a real jerk sometimes, you know that?”
“Yeah, I might’a heard that somewhere before,” Bucky said, sarcasm so heavy you could practically taste it.
“Just shout if you need any help. Or if you’ve severed a finger or something.”
“Thanks, Rogers, I appreciate the concern,” Bucky said with a laugh.
“Just doing my civic duty,” Steve gave an exaggerated salute. “I’m going to get started on breakfast, you want scrambled or poached eggs?”
“¿Porque no los dos?”
“I seriously regret ever introducing you to Peter Parker,” Steve laughed as he headed back to the kitchen.
Bucky stared fondly after him for a moment before they turned back to the sink. They bent down and dug around in the cabinet for a moment before they found Steve’s razor and shaving foam, placing them down in front of them.
They stared back up at themselves in the mirror. They could do this. This wasn’t anything they hadn’t done before. Even if it had been a while, and their memories of how to go about shaving were a bit fuzzy. They’d been a fucking assassin, they could figure out how to shave their own face. How difficult could it be?
They wet their face, squirted a blob of cream into their hand, and rubbed it over the lower half of their face.
So far so good.
They picked up the razor and looked at it. It was a bit complicated and confusing, but that about summed up their feelings about most things in the future. They lifted it to their face.
So far, suddenly not so good.
Sharp blade. Near throat.
High potential for injury. Injury will impair Asset’s performance. Must avoid injury to the Asset. Must not jeopardise the mission.
Bucky barely noticed the sudden resurgence of the Asset. They stood, staring at the razor in their hand, as their mind raced and their heart rate soared.
Sharp blade. Near throat.
Risk of injury to the Asset.
Self-inflicted injury not permitted.
“Bucky? Are you okay? Bucky!”
The Asset felt the bent razor being removed from its grip (that was odd, it didn’t remember the razor being bent when it picked it up), and a warm mass wrapping itself around the Asset.
“Bucky, you’re okay, you’re alright, you don’t have to do anything. You’re with me, you’re in the tower, it’s 2019, you’re safe.”
The Asset listened to the words swimming around it. They were calmly spoken. Kindly, even. Whoever was speaking had a nice voice. The Asset wanted to keep listening to them.
They held it tightly, but without causing pain. They smelt nice. They smelled safe. The Asset nuzzled its face into them, and wrapped its arms around them. The Asset had never been treated this kindly before, not by any of its handlers. Had it done well on a mission? It couldn’t remember. It didn’t really care, as long as it stayed wrapped in the warmth.
The Asset stood like that for some time, basking in the warm and kindness being so freely given to it. It expected it to be ripped away from it at any moment, so it held onto it with a desperate strength. It didn’t want to let go.
They were Bucky. Not the Asset. Bucky.
Bucky. They were Bucky.
Who the hell is Bucky?
It took them a minute to find their voice.
“Uh, Stevie?” They guessed. It certainly felt like Steve, and it wasn’t the first time they had come back from an episode to find themselves wrapped in him.
“Are you back?” Steve asked, pulling back to look at them.
“Yeah, I’m... I’m Bucky. I’m back. I’m okay.” Bucky could hear the tremor in their voice. They didn’t like sadness in Steve’s eyes.
“Yeah, you are. You’re okay, Bucky. I’m always going to make sure you’re okay.”
“I went back down again, huh?”
“Yeah, you did. I don’t know how long you were the Soldier, but you came back a lot easier than you normally do. So that’s... that’s better? I guess?” Steve lifted his hands to cup Bucky’s face, and that was when they noticed the shaving foam.
“Oh, it’s on your shirt,” they said. And it was, there was a big patch smeared all over Steve’s front. Normally, they would have found this endlessly amusing. They weren’t in much of a joking mood, for the moment at least.
“That’s okay, it’ll wash off,” Steve smiled.
“Is it okay?” Bucky asked sharply. Of course, it was all just fine. No problems here. Not at all.
“Buck, it’s fine, it was an accident—”
“Well, that’s alright then! It was just an accident, Bucky couldn’t control it. No big deal!” Bucky growled, pushing away from Steve. They reached out for the face towel and roughly wiped the rest of the shaving foam off.
“Bucky, it’s no big deal, really. In the grand scheme of things—”
“Oh, it’s not the worst thing they’ve ever done, so it’s fine! They didn’t murder anyone, so it’s fine that they can’t handle basic hygiene without having a complete meltdown!”
“Bucky wait!” Steve called, but Bucky was already storming out of the bathroom. “Buck, hold on—”
“I’m so fucking tired of this!” Bucky yelled, whirling back to face Steve as he followed them from the bathroom.
“Of what?” Steve stopped in front of them. He just looked sad, which only succeeded in making Bucky angrier.
“Of all of this! Of being a complete mess, all the goddamn time! I can’t do anything normal without freaking out. There’s always something that triggers the Soldier, or brings up a bad memory, and I can’t handle it. I want to be able to live my life without constantly being reminded of everything I hate about myself!” At the beginning of their rant, they were angry. But the further along they got, the more upset they became. By the time they finished, tears were steadily making their way down their cheeks. Bucky wondered idly when that had happened.
“There’s nothing wrong with—”
“Yes, there is!” Bucky wasn’t far away from shouting again. “There’s a really fucking long list of shit wrong with me, Steve. Even you can’t try and pretend there’s not. You can’t out-stubborn facts, as much as you might like to.”
“That wasn’t what I was going to say,” Steve said gently.
“You were definitely thinking it. Everyone always is.” Bucky sat down on the edge of the bed, then flopped onto their back. Steve came to lie on his side behind them, propping his head up on one hand and staring down at them. He kept a careful distance, making sure not to touch Bucky.
“I was going to say that it’s okay to not be okay. There’s nothing wrong with not being okay with what happened to you, Buck. A whole bunch of really awful stuff happened, and it would take anyone a while to recover from that.”
“Stop being so nice to me. You’re making me feel like a real asshole,” Bucky complained half-heartedly.
“Hey, that’s my sweetheart you’re talking about, don’t be so mean,” Steve smiled. He reached out and brushed his fingers along Bucky’s cheek gently. Touching, but not overwhelming.
“I just... I just wanted to be able to do something for myself,” Bucky said quietly. As quickly as their anger had appeared, it had vanished. It left them feeling drained, and in need of a very long nap. “I don’t want to be so useless all the time.”
“Can I touch you?” Steve asked, and Bucky nodded slightly. He shuffled closer and placed his head on Bucky’s chest, wrapping an arm around their middle. Bucky felt him swing a leg over and nestle it in between theirs. “I had been warned about something like this happening. Back when you first moved into the tower.”
“Oh,” Bucky said.
“I used to have a lot of meetings with therapists and doctors, or just anyone who knew anything about PTSD. They all told me that, for the first few months at least, I should make an effort to keep you away from things that you could use to hurt yourself. At least until someone had had time to figure out whether you were a danger to yourself.”
“Oh. I guess that’s why no one gave me a razor when I first moved in, huh.”
“Yeah. I’m sorry Buck, I should have told you. I felt really awful talking about you when you weren’t part of the conversation.”
“It’s okay. I know I haven’t exactly been easy to deal with. I’d have been mad if you tried to do it alone, without any advice.”
“Yeah, that sounds like something I’d try to do,” Steve chuckled.
“And I know you didn’t listen to the advice entirely anyway.”
“You never told anyone else about my knife collection.”
Steve sat up to look at them. “You knew that I knew about them?”
“Steve,” Bucky gave him a look. “I’m an assassin. I might be a bit fragile, but I’m not an idiot.”
“Yeah, okay, that’s fair. I don’t know why I try to keep anything from you,” Steve said with a smile, laying his head back on Bucky’s chest.
“Good luck trying to hide my birthday presents from me, Rogers,” Bucky joked.
“Yeah yeah, don’t try me, Barnes,” Steve chuckled. “You feeling okay, now?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have gotten angry like that.” Bucky sighed.
“It’s okay, we’re getting there. I wish I could do more for you.”
“What do you mean?” Bucky looked down at the top of Steve’s head. They reached out to smooth his slightly ruffled hair.
“I just feel like I should be doing more for you, somehow. After all the bullshit you’ve been through, all I can do is hold your hand or give you a hug. I can’t actually do anything.”
“You can’t save everyone from their demons, Steve. You’re here, and you’ve put up with everything I’ve thrown at you. Even the whole... not being a man thing. You’ve been through it all, right by my side.” Bucky pressed a kiss to the top of Steve’s head.
“It’s what any decent human would do. Besides, you’re the love of my life, of course I’m going to stick around. Man or not. I’d be an idiot not to.”
“You don’t ever need to thank me, Buck,” Steve looked up at them and smiled. “You’re not getting rid of me, even if you tried.”
Bucky laughed and leant forward to kiss him. They exchanged lazy kisses for a few minutes, Steve reaching up to comb his fingers through Bucky’s hair, gently pulling their face closer to him.
Steve pulled back suddenly and gasped.
“I could help you!”
“Uh, didn’t we just establish you already do that?” Bucky asked, confused.
“No, I meant with shaving!” Steve looked thrilled with his realisation.
“Like, do it for me, you mean?”
“If you don’t have to look at the blade, or do anything else other than sitting back and holding still for me, do you think you’d be okay?”
“Maybe,” Bucky said tentatively.
“I don’t make you feel unsafe, even when the Soldier is close to the surface, right?”
“Huh, I guess not.” And Steve had a point. He was one of the few things on the list of “Makes Bucky Barnes Feel Safe At All Times”. If anyone would be able to do something as potentially threatening as shaving their face, and live to tell the tale, it would be Steve.
“Is that okay? You don’t sound so sure.”
“I’m just worried, I guess. If the Asset comes back up, I’m not sure how I’m going to react to you. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I am literally the least breakable person you know, Buck. Except maybe the Hulk, but I doubt shaving is one of his secret talents.” Steve chuckled at that.
“Yeah. Okay. You know what? You’re right. Let’s do it.” Bucky said, determined.
“And you’re doing this because you want to, right?” Steve asked.
“Steve, have you seen me? I’m starting to look like I’ve got a bird’s nest growing out of my chin. If we let it get any longer I’m going to start screaming.”
“Oh, but I love it when I can get you to scream,” Steve smirked.
“Ha ha, you’re hilarious.”
“You love it.”
“Yeah, I really do,” Bucky said, tightening their arms around him. “I really, really do.”
“You sap, love you too.”
They were distracted by a few more minutes of languid kisses and wandering hands before Bucky pushed themselves upright.
“Okay, let’s get this over and done with.”
“Do you want to take a break first? Have something to eat?” Steve asked.
“Nope, I want to do this now while we’re here and while I’m still in a good mood. I trust you, Steve. Ready to stick a razor against my throat in the name of love and good personal grooming?” Bucky grinned.
Steve just rolled his eyes at that, but there was a fondness even he couldn’t hide. “You say the darndest things, Barnes.”
“When I retire, I could become a poet. One of those ones that people pay to go around and serenade people.”
“I don’t think they exist, Bucky.”
“Watch me pioneer the dating industry,” Bucky joked. Steve just laughed and climbed off the bed. Bucky followed closely after and they made their way back into the bathroom.
The moment they passed through the doorway, Bucky felt their heart rate increase. Steve must have heard it too (damn supersoldier hearing), and reached out to take their hand. They took a deep breath when they noticed the razor, still lying in the sink.
“Do you want to go get me a towel and the desk chair?” Steve asked, running the tap.
“Yeah, okay.” Bucky left the bathroom without protest. They knew what Steve was doing. He was trying to get them out of the room while he got things ready, so they couldn’t spend any more time staring at the razor and working themselves up. Normally, they’d kick up a fuss at Steve trying to coddle them, but for the moment, they appreciated the kindness.
They dragged the chair back in and dropped the towel onto the edge of the basin. They took a seat facing away from the mirror and looked up at Steve.
“Okay, we’re going to take this nice and slow. I need you to tell me right away if something is wrong, or if you need me to stop. That okay?” Steve asked.
“Yeah. That’s good,” Bucky nodded.
“Okay. I’m going to wet your face and then re-apply the shaving foam.”
Bucky just nodded, closed their eyes and leaned their head back. They felt a jolt of apprehension at how vulnerable that left their throat, but they shoved it down. This was Steve. Steve wasn’t going to hurt them. Steve was going to keep them safe.
They kept repeating that in their head as Steve wiped a wet cloth over their face, then started smearing a new layer of shaving cream over them. It was a strange sensation, and as Bucky puzzled over whether they liked it or not, they could feel their heart rate start to speed up again.
“We still good?” Steve paused.
“Yeah. Still a bit nervous, but okay.” Bucky said. “You can keep going.”
“Okay, I’m going to start shaving. I’m going to start on my left side, so your right.”
“Sure. Yep. Sounds good.” Bucky said, but even they could tell that they sounded apprehensive.
“You know, it’s okay if you don’t want to do this right now. You don’t even have to do it at all if you’ve changed your mind.” Steve said gently.
Bucky opened their eyes again and looked up at Steve. He looked concerned.
Why was Steve worried? They wanted this. They wanted to get rid of their beard.
This was a thing they did before. This was something the Bucky from their past would have wanted. This was something the old Bucky would have done all the time.
But this Bucky wasn’t the Bucky of their past. They didn’t have to do what they thought he wanted. They could do what they wanted.
And they didn’t want to shave.
“Actually, I need a second,” Bucky admitted. They took a deep breath. “I don’t know if I can do this right now. Or at all, if I’m being honest.”
“Okay, you’re okay, that’s absolutely fine, Buck,” Steve said, looking relieved.
“I’m sick of it being a mess like this, but I don’t know if I want to get rid of all of it.” Bucky sighed. “I’m sorry, I’m being a real pain.”
“You know, I’ve got an electric trimmer. We could just give the whole thing a quick once over, so it’s all the same length. It’s not like a razor blade at all, it’s designed not to cut skin, even when it’s turned on.” Steve suggested.
“Oh. That could be good. I think I can handle that.”
“And uh, then you’d get to keep your beard.”
“We’d stay matching.”
“Which would be good. I, uh. I really like it. The beard.” Steve had always been a blusher, and now was no exception. His cheeks and ears blazed a bright red, and Bucky could see the colour continuing down his throat.
Bucky wondered just how much further down it went this time.
“You do, huh?” Bucky teased.
“It’s a good look on you, Buck.” Steve smiled shyly, ducking his head.
“Well then, I guess I have to keep it if you like it so much.”
“No, that’s not—I didn’t mean—”
“I know what you meant, Stevie, I was just messing with you.” Bucky chuckled.
Steve leant down to press a kiss to Bucky’s forehead. He kept his lips pressed to the skin there, grinning widely against him. “I love you, Bucky. I don’t know what I’d have done if we hadn’t been able to get you back.”
“Yeah well I’m here, and I’m here to stay. Good luck getting rid of me any time soon.”
“You couldn’t pay me enough to get rid of you,” Steve said earnestly. He kept his lips pressed to Bucky’s forehead as he spoke, pausing to press soft kisses into the skin every so often. He brought his hands up to rest on the back of Bucky’s head, smoothing over the hair there. Bucky reached up to run their hands along the sides of Steve’s waist and hips.
“As much as I’d love to sit here, being sentimental with you, I’m still covered in shaving foam. And I’d kind of like not to be.” Bucky leant back reluctantly.
“Yeah, okay. Wash it all off, and then we can dry you off. I’ll grab the trimmer. We are going to make you hot, sweetheart.”
“Well, hotter than I am already,” Bucky laughed as they splashed water over their face. The shaving foam swirled down the drain, and they felt their anxiety going with it.
“Steve, there isn’t anything straight about us. We’re gayer than a treeful of monkeys on nitrous oxide.”
Steve looked back at Bucky with narrowed eyes. “I can’t tell if you’re messing with me or quoting something. Or both.”
“I guess you’ll have to do your homework and find out,” Bucky grinned and took a seat again. They smirked up at Steve.
“Ugh, don’t you start. I’m getting there, there’s a lot that’s happened since the war. It’s not like I’ve got time to sit around watching old TV shows.” Steve griped.
“Yeah yeah, you’re starting to really sound your age there, Stevie.”
“Shut up and hold still,” Steve said, rolling his eyes. “Okay, I’m turning it on. You still okay with this?”
“Yep, we’re all good here. Trim away, Captain.” Bucky closed their eyes and exhaled.
All in all, it was actually pretty pleasant. Steve was slow and careful with his movements, pressing the trimmer carefully over Bucky’s skin. He never put too much pressure anywhere, or nicked any skin. Every so often he stopped to brush the stray hair off their face, and Bucky scrunched up their face at the scratch of it. Steve laughed every time.
“Still doing okay?” Steve asked.
“Yeah, just feels weird.”
Steve hummed in agreement and kept working. It felt like no time had passed at all when he switched the trimmer off.
“Okay, I think I’m done. Normally I’d go and sharpen the lines up some more with a normal razor, but I think we can worry about that further down the track. You look good, Buck.”
Buck opened their eyes and spun the chair around. They stared into the mirror.
They did look good.
They were still covered in a fine layer of what could only be described as hair sprinkles, but their beard looked really good. Really good.
“You look surprised. I do know how to shave, Bucky. How do you think I look so good all the time?”
Bucky ignored the sarcastic teasing. “Huh. You know, if the whole Captain America thing doesn’t work out, I think we might have found your back-up career.” Bucky ran their fingers along their jaw, enjoying the feeling of the shorter hair.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Steve said. “How do you feel?”
“Good. Real good. I uh... I remembered getting ready for an old date earlier. It’s why I wanted to shave, I felt like it would make me feel like him again. But I keep forgetting that’s not going to happen, no matter what I do. And that doesn’t bother me so much, anymore.”
“I’m glad,” Steve said, and Bucky smiled back at him in the mirror.
“I’ve uh... I haven’t really had much to do with other people like... well, like me, but lots of them tend to go for a really androgynous look. Like they don’t want to be masculine or feminine at all. But this... this feels good. I’m glad we didn’t shave it all off. I don’t like people assuming I’m a man, but the beard feels more like me. I’m not pretending to be someone I’m not anymore.”
“I’m so proud of you, Bucky.” Steve leaned down to wrap his arms around Bucky, and press a kiss to the side of their head.
“Thanks, Stevie. This all really means a lot to me.” Bucky turned to face Steve for a kiss. They spun the chair around and stood up, wrapping their arms around one another and closing the distance between them.
“Ugh, now I’m covered in your hair too,” Steve complained, pulling back to make a face.
“Well, we can’t have that. Better get you in the shower, right away.” Bucky pressed a kiss to Steve’s neck, nuzzling along the skin there. Covering more of him in a fine layer of hair trimmings.
“Only if you join me.”
“You drive a hard bargain, Captain.”
“That’s not the only hard thing around here.” Bucky couldn’t see Steve’s face, but they could imagine the goofy eyebrow waggle he was doing.
“Steven Grant Rogers!” Bucky burst out, pretending to be scandalised. “What on earth would the public say if they knew their favourite hero had a mouth like that on him?”
“Yeah, yeah, don’t lie, you love it.”
“I most certainly do,” Bucky said. They moved back to press a kiss to Steve’s lips again, swallowing his laugh.
They took their time getting into the shower.
They took their time in the shower.
They took their time getting out of the shower.
They took their time getting dressed again after the shower.
It was a very long, very involved, and very thorough process. The half-cooked eggs lay abandoned in the kitchen for quite some time. They’d found something a lot more entertaining than breakfast.
Steve found he quite liked the slightly more prickly texture of Bucky’s shorter facial hair.