Steve sighed as the slow melting keys of the next song began to sound in the small apartment. He closed his eyes as he took another sip of his beer and allowed the soothing piano to envelop him from where he sat, nestled into the worn cushions of his and Bucky’s shared couch. He stayed that way for the duration of the song, simply breathing and sipping and listening.
When the next song began to play from the beat up speaker connected to his equally beat up phone Steve couldn’t help but smile. He placed his drink down beside him on the coffee table and stood, only wobbling a little despite the few drinks he’d had that night. He began to sway softly to the music, again losing himself in the melody and allowing his mind to wander.
Whenever Steve missed his boyfriend too much he ended up surrounding himself with music. The constant sound served both as a distraction from the aching loneliness in his ribcage and an excuse to let his mind wander to Bucky. He was currently overseas, deployed in an unknown location for an unknown mission, and while Steve was fairly accustomed to not having any idea of what his boyfriend was doing, it didn’t actually make it any easier.
Not having Bucky at home, safe, with him was difficult enough. But the added anxiety of having no clue about what it is he’s actually doing, how dangerous it is or even a vague idea of his geographical location always put Steve on edge even more. This time round, however, was different. This time was Bucky’s last deployment.
Steve opened his eyes, having not even noticed he’d shut them while shuffling around, doing what could possibly, maybe, be called dancing in the loosest sense of the term. He reached for his beer just as the next song began, this time electing to keep it in hand as he resumed his absent movement. When he realised what song had began to play he couldn’t keep himself from chuckling. As Mr Loverman filled his living room Steve allowed his thoughts to return to Bucky once more.
“I’m Mr Loverman, and I miss my Lover, man.”
Bucky had been so excited for his last tour, had been so ready to leave for good and never have to fight again. When Steve had tentatively asked how long he would be gone Bucky had smiled sadly, “I dunno, Stevie.” It had almost been four months since he had kissed him goodbye at the airport, managing to hold his tears in until he locked his front door after him. Bucky didn’t need his last moments with him before he left to be sadder than they had to be, covered in his tears, snot and sniffles. No, Steve could keep that to himself, at least until Bucky came home and he knew he was ok.
They had been lucky enough to be able to have a few instances of fleeting and, Steve’s sure, heavily censored emails, and even a brief phone call. This deployment had already had more communication than Bucky’s last eight month deployment had in its entirety. So logically, Steve knew, this should be easier than the past one was. Unfortunately, Steve had seen enough tragic romances to get the idea of the hero never coming back from the Last One stuck in his head. Bucky had laughed and assured him that after this he wouldn’t ever go away again, and at the time it had been reassuring, and he had shook his head and kissed Bucky and curled up around him, but now? Now it seems an awful lot like tempting fate. Steve couldn’t even begin to think about what would happen if Bucky didn’t come home.
Steve had been by Bucky’s side, and vice versa, for just about as long as he could remember. Steve had never truly been alone, not as long as Bucky was beside him, always helping him through every hardship, knowing Steve would do the same in a heartbeat. The mere idea of existing in a world without Bucky had Steve’s chest aching so deeply and his eye’s welling with tears. Steve tried to shake that train of thought but knew it was no use. He’d been trying to avoid the idea of Bucky not coming back since his first deployment all those years ago, but even more so the past four months. The facts of the matter were simple:
Steve loved Bucky.
Steve needed Bucky.
Bucky was deployed in an active war zone.
Steve knew nothing about what Bucky was doing.
It had been three weeks since he had heard from him.
Steve may not survive without Bucky if he died.
Steve slumped back down onto the couch, taking a long pull from his beer and shivering, both at the idea of Bucky dying and that the thermostat was down too low. Steve pulled one of the blankets on the couch over to him. He snuggled himself into it and tried his hardest to push away any thoughts of Bucky being hurt. Steve only just remembered to put his beer back down on the table before he fell asleep, tired out from his worrying.
Steve blinked awake after what felt like only a second, but was in actuality three hours later. He was suddenly way too hot. Steve kicked off the heavy blanket he had on and sat up slowly, squinting against the slightly too bright light of the lamp in the corner. He wobbled to his feet and set off down the hallway to the thermostat so he could turn it down. Just as Steve rounded the corner he stopped dead.
Bucky stood before him, poking at the thermostat, and before even a second had passed Steve threw himself forward into him. The top of Steve’s head only barely brushed Bucky’s broad shoulders, which usually annoyed him, but at this moment all Steve could think was he was so glad he was small, because it amplified the feeling of security Bucky held with him. As he clung onto Bucky’s shirt he began to cry, overcome with feelings of absolute relief.
He could feel Bucky’s low chuckle reverberate through his chest. “I missed you too, Stevie.” Followed by a kiss placed carefully atop his hair.
Several long minutes later Steve finally relinquished his grip on the other man and stepped back ever so slightly. He hungrily took in his appearance, checking him over for obvious injury and harm. When he saw nothing out of the usual he surged forward again, though this time he pulled Bucky down and into a slow, deep kiss. He could feel himself crying as he kissed Bucky, but didn’t care in the slightest. Bucky was safe. Bucky was home. Bucky was kissing him. Everything was right in the world, just for a moment. Bucky returned the kiss with the same measured, gentle relief. He cupped Steve’s jaw and held his waist so tenderly Steve thought he might shatter if he ever let go. He pulled back reluctantly as he ran out of breath, but only pulled his face away a few inches.
Seeing Bucky’s brilliant eyes, and his kissed-red lips and how he has to stoop down to kiss Steve standing up and how his chest was moving with every breath he took and how Steve could feel them fanning over his face, drying his tears, was the most wonderful sight in the entire world to Steve. He said as much.
“Buck, you are the most beautiful thing this world has ever produced.”
Bucky’s eyes crinkled as he smiled, wide and genuine. He ducked back in to press a soft, chaste kiss to Steve’s lips.
“No, Stevie. I’m afraid to inform you that position is already filled by one Mr Rogers.” Bucky whispered, giving him a small but happy smile.
Steve rested his head back on Bucky’s chest, circling his arms around his waist and squeezing. “I love you. Welcome home.”
“I love you too, and there’s not a single place I’d rather be.”