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A Mutually Beneficial Relationship

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Steve Rogers, to anyone who knows him, is the cream of the crop. He's tall, he's handsome, and he's so ripped there was a rumour going around that he once bench-pressed a helicopter. He's a successful artist who owns a gallery in the middle of Brooklyn and rents an apartment from Tony Stark, his billionaire friend. He could have any woman he wants, and people hail him as one of the most eligible bachelors in the city. But there is one thing that people don't know about Steve Rogers.

"Wait - hold up." Sam holds a hand up, shaking his head in disbelief. "You're telling me that you, Steven Grant Rogers, our college heartthrob, one of the most eligible bachelors in Brooklyn, is bisexual?"

"I don't know, Sam!" Steve hisses. "I was just at work the other day, and this random dude walked in and we had a conversation, and all I could think of was how his lips would look around my-"

"Okay, I don't need to hear the rest of that sentence," Sam says abruptly, clapping his hands over his ears.

"Am I too old to be having a gay crisis? Is this a gay crisis? Sam, what if I'm having a gay crisis?"

"Dude, chill. You're only twenty-nine, you're not too old to have a gay crisis." Sam pauses. "And yeah. This is definitely a gay crisis."

Steve groans and puts his head on the table.

"Aw man, I get it." Sam pats his back sympathetically. "I remember Riley's gay crisis. It was our first day of classes at college, and we were sitting in Mr Pierce's economy class, and in walks this big, beefy, blonde Adonis with, and I quote, 'the best shoulders I've ever seen'."

Steve lifts his head off the table suspiciously. "Sam. Was I Riley's gay crisis?"

"Uh-huh. And now you're telling me you're bi, which makes me the boring straight best friend. You're a cruel man, Rogers."

"Why aren't I talking to Riley about this?" Steve mutters.

"Anyway, when Riley started to realise he was gay, he went to a gay bar," Sam continues.

"Sam, I'm not going to a gay bar. I don't even like normal bars."

"Steve, I'm telling you, it's a great experience. You get to meet people who've been in your position, and it's the perfect time to experiment."

"What do you mean, 'experiment'?"

Sam rolls his eyes. "You say you don't know if you're bi or straight. That's totally fine, but this isn't the kind of thing that you can just solve with theory. You gotta get into the field and test it out. Fuck a few guys. Go on some dates. If it doesn't pan out, it doesn't pan out. No pun intended."

Steve puts his head back on the table.

"Okay, fine. How about this: you, me and Riley are going out to Fury's Saturday night. We'll drink, we'll dance, and maybe one of us will get lucky."

"Why would you go to a gay bar?" Steve asks, frowning. Sam rolls his eyes again.

"Steve, gay bars aren't exclusively for queer folks. It's not like a straight person would be thrown out. It's just a safe place to have fun, where people won't be discriminated against for being themselves." Sam pauses. "Okay, you white folks won't be discriminated against. You never know where the racists are hiding."

"I don't know, Sam," Steve mumbles. "I'm pretty busy at the moment, and I don't know if I'll be able to get away from work."

"Please," Sam scoffs. "Natasha can cover for you easily - that woman's a powerhouse. And she's got Clint with her."

"Clint's a walking disaster."

"Clint's the best damn security guard in the business and you know it." Sam's gaze softens. "Come on, Steve. You never do anything for yourself anymore."

Steve lets out a long, drawn-out sigh. "Fine. But don't expect me to figure everything out as soon as we get there."

"Of course not," Sam grins and slapped Steve's shoulder. "That's not your style."

 

-----

 

Steve doesn't know what he was expecting when he walks into the bar. Maybe rainbow banners everywhere and leather harnesses. But the place just looks like a normal bar - maybe with more men making out with each other, but a normal bar nonetheless.

Sam almost immediately excuses himself to dance, so Riley grabs Steve by the elbow and pulls him towards the bar as if Steve would run at the first chance he got. Which he would, but Riley shouldn't have known that.

"You need to lighten up, man," Riley says, signalling the bartender, a tall dark-skinned woman with blue hair, over. She leans forward on her elbows, her breasts pushing out against the thin material of her tank.

"Hey, Riley. What can I get you boys?" she asks. Her voice is quite a bit deeper than Steve expects, but he isn't complaining.

"Something strong please, Leila," Riley says, clapping Steve on the back. "It's my boy's first time at one of these things."

Leila raises her eyebrows, grinning. "Questioning?"

Steve doesn't know what that means, but Riley sighs dramatically and nods. "First it was me, and now Stevie. Lei, I can't begin to tell you how exhausting it is to help people through their gay crises."

"Hey, have some respect for my boyfriend," Leila retorts, grabbing one of the bottles from behind the bar. "He's the one who had to suffer through my trans crisis."

Steve doesn't know what that means either. "What does that mean?"

Leila gives Riley a disbelieving look. "You call yourself good at education? C'mon, Riley." She turns back to Steve. "Trans means transgender, honey. I was born male, but I live my life as a female."

Steve leans forward slightly, and couldn't help but be intrigued. "What's that like?"

Leila looks slightly pleased, as if she hadn't expected Steve to want to know more. "Well, at first I was only female mentally. Then I started having oestrogen injections, which made my body more feminine - less body hair, more breast tissue, reduced muscle mass. Then I got breast implants, and I haven't looked back."

"So you still have a..." Steve couldn't help but blush. Leila laughs, setting down a tray of six shots in front of them.

"If you want to ask if I still have a penis, but are too embarrassed to, the answer is yes," she says teasingly. "I gotta get back to work, but holler if you need me."

"Thanks, Lei!" Riley calls after her, then turns to Steve, beaming. "See? This has already been a success!"

"I guess," Steve mumbles, taking a sip from one of the shot glasses. Riley slaps him on the back again.

An hour later, and Steve is pleasantly buzzed and grinding up against a short brunette wearing a dress so sheer Steve can see the lacy pattern on her bra. She'd directed Steve's hands to her breasts, and he's swallowing her moans as he rubs her nipples to hardness. She reaches down to cup his dick, and Steve groans into her mouth. He's about to ask if she'd want to come home with him before the crowd shifts, and he loses her. Steve huffs disappointedly but allows himself to get lost in the flow of bodies around him.

After a few more minutes, Steve's dick has calmed down enough that he can sit back at the bar without awkwardly sporting a stiffy. Riley and Sam are somewhere in the crowd, but Steve remembers seeing Sam pressed between two women (one of whom had her hand down his pants), and Riley chatting with a group of drag queens. He signals Leila's colleague, a person whose gender Steve can't identify with fae-like makeup on whose nametag reads Alex, and orders a beer. Steve scans the room, idly looking for the brunette he'd danced with earlier when his eyes catch on someone on the other end of the bar.

He's male, judging by his shape. His body is long and lean, not as muscular as Steve or some of the other gym rats he knows, but not slim, either. The dark hair that falls across his face and brushes his shoulders looks soft and silky, and his hands are long and dainty like a pianist's. His jeans are so tight it should have been illegal, the denim stretching over corded muscle and thick thighs, threatening to tear. His shirt's fitted and deep red; stretching over his biceps and shoulders, hugging his pecs and showing off what is clearly a piercing in each nipple, and narrowing down to slim hips. There's a stud in his eyebrow, and more decorating his ears. As Steve watches, he brings the bottle he'd been nursing up to his lips, which wrap around the head so erotically that Steve has to choke back a moan. As if sensing he's being watched, the man looks over, making eye contact with Steve. His eyes are piercing, even from so far away, and as his full lips quirked into a smirk, Steve feels as if he might faint. The man rises from his seat and prowls over, each movement graceful and dangerous. It makes Steve feel like prey.

The man slides into the seat next to Steve with practised ease, and fuck he's wearing eyeliner. Steve is actually going to die.

"Hey." Jesus, even his voice is sexy.

"Hi," Steve croaks, then swallows. The man watches him with amusement, an eyebrow raised. Steve clears his throat, then tries again. He's good with women - why should men be any different? "What's a guy like you doing here all by yourself?"

"I could ask you the same thing," the man replies, his lips quirking into a smile.

"My friends ditched me," Steve says honestly, and the man laughs. It's a rich, deep sound, and Steve immediately wants to hear it again. "Although, I think I'd prefer your company over theirs at the moment."

"Oh yeah?" The man's eyes glittered. "Why's that?"

"For one, they're not nearly as attractive."

The man laughs again. "Maybe if you buy me a drink, I'll stick around a while."

Steve grins and waves down one of the bartenders, and Alex saunters over.

"Hey there, stranger," they say to the man, smiling brightly. "What'll it be?"

"I'll have the usual, Al," he replies, giving them a grin. "And another beer for my friend, here." Steve hadn't even noticed he'd finished. Alex winks and turns back around to make their drinks.

"What's your name?" Steve asks.

"Bucky." At Steve's raised eyebrow, he chuckles. "What about you then, wise guy?"

"Steve." Bucky sighs dramatically.

"And you don't have a fun nickname to counter the dullness. Shame."

Alex returns with their drinks; a beer for Steve, and something clear in a cocktail glass with a lemon rind on the edge for Bucky.

"Vodka martini," Bucky clarifies at Steve's curious look. "My friend got me hooked."

Steve hums and takes a sip of his beer. "You never answered my question, y'know."

Bucky raises an eyebrow and leans forward slightly, his head tilted almost coquettishly. "And what question was that?"

"What's a guy like you doing here all by yourself?"

Bucky smiles, then; he looks up at Steve through his eyelashes and slowly places his hand on Steve's knee, their feet knocking together. He darts his tongue out to lick his lips, and Steve helplessly follows the movement with his eyes.

"I'm not alone now," Bucky purrs. Steve feels his face heat up, and his cock twitches eagerly in his pants. "Now, Steve -" and hearing his name on Bucky's lips was sinful "- I know you're here with friends. But why did you come?"

Steve's eyes dart from Bucky's eyes to his lips to the tattoo peeking out from his shirt, not sure where to look. "I'm... experimenting."

Bucky's hand slides further up his thigh. "Experimenting with what?"

"Men," Steve says honestly. "I think I'm bi."

Bucky hums, his fingers now tracing patterns in the rough denim of Steve's jeans. "So, what - you're looking for a guy to fuck and see if it's your thing?"

"I don't think I'm ready for full-on fucking at the moment," Steve mumbles, his face heating up more. "I'm thinking of starting slow, and making my way up to it."

"So you're just gonna pick up a different guy each time you feel like it?" Bucky doesn't sound accusing - just curious.

"I guess so."

"And what if you could just call up the same guy?"

Steve looks up, his pulse quickening at Bucky's gaze. His eyes are so focused, so piercing - it feels like he's staring through Steve's soul.

"That would be... a lot easier."

"And if that guy was me?"

Steve licks his lips subconsciously and watches the way Bucky follows the movement with his eyes. "What's in it for you?"

Bucky chuckles at that. "You kidding? Steve, I'm not sure if you know this, but you're hot as hell. If you wanted to fuck me once, I'd be satisfied. But meeting up with you numerous times for sex? Pal, I think half my dreams just came true."

Steve takes a deep breath. "So that's a yes?"

Bucky's eyes sparkle. "Yes, Steve. That's a yes."

 

------

 

They decided on going to Bucky's apartment since it was closer and Bucky has the supplies they needed. It's in a relatively nice neighbourhood, and while being on the small size, is cozy instead of claustrophobic. Steve has done hook-ups before, of course, but never with men. Is there a certain etiquette that was different than with women?

"How about you sit down, I'll get you a drink," Bucky offers. Steve smiles gratefully and nods, taking a seat on the old leather couch that had definitely seen better days, but is comfortable all the same. Bucky comes over with a glass of water, and Steve takes it with a murmured thanks. Bucky sits down next to him, close enough that Steve could feel the heat from his body. Steve is actually quite thirsty, and it isn't long before he's finished the drink. Without a word Bucky takes the glass and sets it on the coffee table, then swings a leg over Steve's thighs to settle in his lap, his arms draped loosely around Steve's neck. Steve groans softly, and his hands find purchase on Bucky's hips. Bucky cocks his head and smirks, baring his neck just enough to let Steve get a glimpse of a small tattoo of a wing on the underside of his jaw.

Steve leans in to fasten his lips on the tattoo, groaning at the taste of sweat and something that was unmistakeably Bucky, and Bucky's hands slide into his hair, tugging gently. Steve sucks his way down the column of Bucky's neck, leaving a trail of red and purple marks, and Bucky hums, his throat vibrating under Steve's mouth. Bucky's skin has the faint tang of sweat, and also something sweet and fruity that must be his body wash, and Steve can't get enough. Slowly, he sinks his teeth into the meat of Bucky's shoulder, making the smaller man moan quietly and rock his hips down.

Bucky's hands grasp Steve's hair hard enough to pull him off, and he finally unlatches his mouth, albeit reluctantly. Bucky's pupils are blown out so much that Steve can barely see the ring of silver that's usually so striking, and he's breathing heavily. His lips aren't nearly red enough, Steve thinks, and closes the distance between them to kiss Bucky firmly, sliding his tongue inside Bucky's mouth and swallowing his moans. Bucky even tastes good, like vodka and berries and something that Steve realises is probably just Bucky.

Steve grips the hem of Bucky's shirt, tugging it up just enough to get his hands on bare skin. God, Bucky's skin is so smooth, so soft, and so different from Steve's calloused hands that it's like caressing silk. Bucky groans into Steve's mouth, grinding his ass down against Steve's dick and wow if he keeps doing that Steve is going to come in his pants like a teenager. Steve moves his hands to Bucky's nipples, tweaking the piercing in the left and moving his mouth down to suck at the right. Bucky's hands fly up with a gasp and grip the back of Steve's head tightly, so Steve pinches the left nipple hard and bites down on the right. Bucky jerks in his lap, letting out a cry, and Steve almost thinks he's in pain if not for the almost frantic way he keeps rubbing his ass against Steve's cock.

Suddenly Bucky pulls away and slides off his lap, leaving Steve feeling slightly dazed and quite put out. Those feelings are quickly thrown out the window when Bucky drops to his knees between Steve's spread legs, running his hands up the length of Steve's thighs.

"I'm thinking this is a good place to start," Bucky purrs, his fingers trailing over the bulge at the front of Steve's pants and making him whine. "I mean, this can't feel too different from a girl sucking your dick, can it, Stevie?"

Bucky's fingers slowly pull down the zipper of Steve's pants, his eyes on Steve's the entire time. Steve can do nothing but watch helplessly, his breathing quickening as Bucky noses at his boxers. He has no control, something that's never happened to him with a sexual partner before. He's completely at Bucky's mercy, and it's the hottest thing that has ever happened to him.

Bucky doesn't bother pulling Steve's boxers down the whole way, and instead tucks them under his balls, the light drag of his fingers against the sensitive skin making Steve jolt. Meeting his gaze, Bucky grins, then, without breaking eye contact, licks a long stripe up the side of Steve's cock.

"Shit," Steve swears, and Bucky chuckles softly before taking the head in his mouth, suckling gently. He starts bobbing his head, slowly enough that every swipe of his tongue was pure torture, going further down every time. Steve lifts a shaking hand to cup Bucky's face and moans when he feels the outline of his dick pressing against Bucky's cheek. Bucky's eyes are locked on Steve's, and with his pupils blown out, lips swollen, hair a mess and eyeliner smudged, and hickeys running up and down his neck, he looks completely debauched. Pulling off with a wet slurp, Bucky licks his lips and grabs Steve's hands, guiding them to his hair.

"Fuck my face," Bucky says seriously, his voice raspy. Steve lets out a full-body shudder, at both the words and Bucky's voice.

"Are you sure?" he croaks out. Bucky looks unimpressed. "Won't it hurt?"

"While you are certainly up there, yours is not the biggest cock I've ever sucked, Stevie. And lemme tell you, I'm pretty experienced." Then Bucky's eyelids lower, and he smiles in a way that will probably never leave Steve's mind. "Besides, sometimes I enjoy a little bit of pain."

"Fuck," Steve says emphatically, and grips Bucky's hair tightly, almost slamming his mouth onto his dick. Bucky moans appreciatively as Steve sets up a brutal rhythm, hands coming up to fondle Steve's balls. Steve can see how hard Bucky is through his skinny jeans, and he's trying to grind against the floor, just to get some friction. Tears are leaking down Bucky's face, but he isn't choking or anything - he has literally no gag reflex. He seems to be enjoying it just as much as Steve.

It was that thought that sends Steve over the edge, and he cries out as he comes, his vision almost whiting out. Bucky diligently swallows every drop of Steve's come and keeps sucking gently until Steve is completely boneless, sinking back on the couch and panting heavily.

"So, how was that for your first time with a man?" Bucky rasps, his cheeks flushed and eyes still dark.

"Probably some of the best sex I've ever had," Steve croaks out, and Bucky chuckles.

"Wait until you get inside me." Steve moans softly, and grips Bucky by the arms, pulling him up. Bucky goes willingly, settling himself back on Steve's lap to kiss him again, and Steve feels his erection digging into his hip.

"You haven't come yet," he mumbles, but Bucky shakes his head.

"This wasn't about me."

Steve rubs the front of Bucky's pants, making him whine softly and push his groin into Steve's hand. "I want to. Please?"

Bucky's head drops to his shoulder, his breath hot against Steve's neck, and Steve feels him nod. Slowly, Steve unfastens the button and pulls the zipper down, nearly swallowing his tongue when he sees what Bucky is wearing.

"Jesus, Buck..."

"Y'like them?" Bucky slurs, his lips on Steve's skin. "They arrived a couple days ago."

'They' are a pair of silky black underwear, cut high enough to show off the curve of Bucky's ass, and cupping his dick in a way that was absolutely obscene.

"You have more of these?" Steve squeaks, and he feels Bucky chuckle softly.

"I got more than just panties, Stevie." Seriously, if Steve could get hard again, he would have shot off.

Carefully, so as not to damage the panties (they were so delicate, so beautiful... Steve feels like he'd rip them just by touching them) Steve pulls them down enough to take Bucky's dick out. It's a bit strange to hold a dick in his hand that isn't his own; it's a different angle, and Bucky isn't as long or thick, and Steve's hand almost completely envelopes it. Not really knowing what to do, Steve starts stroking the way he'd do to himself if he wants to get off quickly, twisting his wrist and rubbing his palm over the head. Bucky keens, his breath hot against Steve's neck and his hips bucking wildly. The hand that isn't on Bucky's dick is rubbing his back with slow circles, and Steve slides his hand down to the cleft of Bucky's ass. He rubs at Bucky's hole once, twice, then Bucky is coming with a shout and spilling over his hand.

Watching Bucky come feels like a religious experience. His eyes squeeze shut, his mouth falls open, and his face twists with pleasure so intensely that Steve wonders if it's bordering on painful. His body jerks and shudders, his thighs trembling from their tight grip around Steve, and when he finally comes down he sinks into Steve, completely boneless.

"Okay, you were right," Bucky slurs. "That was fucking fantastic sex, and I can't wait to have you inside me."

Steve huffs out a laugh, stroking Bucky's sweat-slicked hair back from his face. Now that he's gotten off, Bucky looks a little bit like a kitten that had just been woken up. It's fucking adorable.

"As much as I would love to stay for another round, I have work in the morning," Steve murmurs and Bucky groans, his head thumping into Steve's collarbone.

"At least stay to be my pillow," Bucky grumbles.

"I would, but I'd bet you'd just get annoyed when I inevitably leave very early in the morning," Steve says. Bucky's resulting scoff confirms his statement. "How about this: gimme your phone number. We'll do this again some night I don't have to leave early." Steve takes his phone out of his pocket (which is quite difficult considering his pants are still around his thighs) and gives it to Bucky.

Bucky hums, sounding appeased, and sleepily keys in his number before sending a text to himself. "You enjoy your work, Stevie. I'm going to enjoy my sleep."

Steve chuckles and kisses the top of Bucky's head. It feels intimate - more intimate than his dick in Bucky's mouth, more intimate than their tongues tied together - so Steve pulls away quickly, lifting Bucky off him and gently resting him down on the couch.

"Wow, you're strong," Bucky purrs, watching through half-lidded eyes as Steve grabs some tissues from the coffee table and wipes off the stray come. "You gonna carry me to bed, big boy?"

"Maybe next time, doll," Steve says, zipping his fly up and leaning in to kiss Bucky one more time. Bucky hums happily, and when Steve pulls away, his eyes are unfocused.

"Oh, yeah. I'm really looking forward to seeing you again."

Steve rolls his eyes, but makes sure to throw a blanket over Bucky before he leaves.

 

-------

 

As soon as Steve had walked into his gallery, Natasha's eyes lit up like Christmas had come early. He has no idea how she could possibly know he'd had awesome sex the night before - his clothes are freshly ironed, he'd showered, and he got into work at the same time he does every day. But somehow, Natasha knows.

Natasha is the best damn receptionist slash secretary Steve has ever had, and the constant nagging about his love life is just the universe showing him that nothing was perfect. Along with her incredible interrogation skills that make Steve think she is secretly a spy, Natasha is very good at lurking. And finding people. And a lot of things that point in the direction of her being a spy. Because of this, Steve can only avoid her until his lunch break, where she corners him while he's waiting for his sandwich to cook.

"So, how was last night?"

Steve sighs, internally braces himself, and turns around. Natasha has her hip cocked and her arms crossed, and is leaning against the fridge with such a self-satisfied smirk that Steve is surprised there aren't canary feathers around her mouth.

"What makes you think anything happened last night?"

"Sam told me you went out to a club with him and Riley," she says bluntly.

"Did he say anything else?" Steve asks warily.

"Nothing I can't figure out on my own," she preens. "It'll be easier for both of us if you talk now. But I will find out."

Steve groans - no point in avoiding it. If Natasha is going to know, it should be from him. "I told Sam that I might be bisexual, and so he took me to a gay bar and I hooked up with a hot guy."

Natasha blinks. The split-second pause she takes before speaking tells Steve that she hadn't expected it, and it makes him feel slightly smug. "Thoughts?"

"Would recommend," Steve replies, and grabs his sandwich and flees.

 

-----

Steve hasn't heard from or reached out to Bucky since their hook-up almost two weeks before. Steve tries not to feel disappointed about that, since feeling disappointed is ridiculous - it isn't like he has to wait for Bucky to text first. This isn't high school - Steve is an adult, damn it.

It's a Friday night, and Steve has gotten home just to order pizza and sit on the couch, watching Master Chef and silently contemplate texting Bucky. The other man has not left his mind at all since their night together, which is stupid, because Steve doesn't even know him that well. The things he knows about Bucky he could count on one hand - he's polite to guests even when he's about to fuck them, he likes vodka martinis, and he sucks cock like an absolute god. God, Steve doesn't even know Bucky's real name, because he doubts his parents had put 'Bucky' on his birth certificate.

It's while he's contemplating whether Bucky was a nickname or just made up when his phone buzzes, and he reaches for it without much thought. Then all of his thoughts fly out the window when he sees who the text is from.

Bucky: You busy?

Steve looks at the message, and absentmindedly licks his lips. His heart starts beating just a little bit faster, and he can feel a blush making its way up his neck.

Steve: Not at the moment.

He barely has to wait a minute before another text comes through.

Bucky: Would you like to be?

Steve doesn't even have time to respond before Bucky is typing again, and he sits back and waits. And promptly chokes on his tongue.

Bucky had sent him a picture. It's obviously taken in his bedroom, even though Steve hasn't been in there. Bucky is on his back on a bed, his hair fanning out on the pillow and one of his arms thrown over his head. His chest is bare, and the picture cuts off just where a strip of dark lace is visible on his pale skin. Bucky's eyes are lidded, his mouth curved into a smirk and teeth digging into his bottom lip. The piercings in his nipples and eyebrow gleam in the dim light.

Steve is turning off the TV and jumping off the couch before he even realises what he's doing, shoving shoes onto his feet and grabbing the first coat he could find, not bothering to change out of his sweatpants. As soon as he's out on the street, Steve shoots off a text to Bucky and hails the closest taxi. God, he is not going to survive this man.

Steve: Give me 15 minutes.

 

-----

 

"Is Bucky your real name?" Steve asks curiously. After rounds one through three (as many as they both could go in a short-ish period) he feels exhausted and slightly sore, but he guesses it was nothing to what Bucky felt, who'd had Steve's cock down his throat for a good hour. Bucky's bed is warm and soft, and Bucky himself is the perfect size to be cuddled, so Steve doesn't even bother trying to leave as soon as they were done, much to Bucky's delight. Bucky's head lifts from his shoulder to look up at Steve, his hand not pausing in tracing circles on Steve's chest.

"What makes you ask that?" he asks sleepily, and Steve shrugs.

"I've never met a Bucky before, for one," he admits. "Also, I find it hard to believe that 'Bucky' is what's written on your birth certificate."

Bucky snorts and buries his face in Steve's neck again. Steve adjusts his grip slightly, pulling Bucky closer in the process. "My real name's James. Bucky comes from my middle name."

"Why not stay James?"

"Do you have any idea how annoying it is for there to be five people called James in your class the whole way through school?" Bucky complains, his voice slightly muffled. "Bucky's much better, and it was either that or Buchanan, so I chose the nickname."

"Wait, your middle name's Buchanan?" Steve asks, trying very hard not to laugh. Bucky doesn't raise his head, but Steve is pretty sure he was scowling.

"Yes, my parents named me after a president. Hilarious. What's your middle name then, if you're so smart?"

"Grant."

"That's boring," Bucky complains, lifting his head for optimal glaring. He looks like a disgruntled kitten. "Lemme guess, your last name's super boring too?"

"Rogers?"

Bucky groans loudly and flops back onto Steve's chest. "I hate you."

"What about your last name, huh? It doesn't seem fair that you know mine and I know yours," Steve challenges.

"Is this a 'you show me yours, I'll show you mine' scenario?"

"I've already seen all of you, doll, I don't think there's much else."

Bucky sighs, mutters something unflattering into Steve's shoulder, then says, "Barnes."

Steve hums and strokes his fingers through Bucky's hair. It's surprisingly hard to get out of that bed and go back to his empty apartment.

 

-----

 

After that, it seems like Steve is seeing Bucky every other day. First, it was a midnight visit to Bucky's apartment, because neither of them could sleep and Steve had been stuck in a meeting with his least favourite associate for three hours earlier that day, and he'd pressed Bucky against the wall and they'd grinded against each other like horny teenagers until they came in their pants. Then it was a visit to Steve's work in his lunch break, where Bucky gave him a blowjob in his office and rubbed himself off on Steve's calf. The most recent one had Steve between Bucky's legs as they laid on Bucky's bed, with the other man coaching him through his first blowjob. From the way Bucky had whimpered and wrapped his legs around Steve's head before coming down his throat, Steve would say he did pretty well.

They'd talked about doing other things, of course - 'other things' being code for penetration. Steve isn't all that comfortable with the idea of someone being inside him, but he definitely wouldn't say no if Bucky was the one bottoming (he's never tried anal, but being inside a woman is probably one of the best feelings ever). When he'd brought it up one day when they were both in bed, still recovering from (fucking amazing) orgasms, Bucky had laughed quietly and looked up at him.

"Stevie, the only reason I haven't begged for you to stick your dick inside me is that I didn't think you were ready," he'd said, a smile playing on his lips. "But if you want to try receiving, you'll have to go to another person - I pretty much exclusively bottom."

Steve had hummed and reached below the covers to grab a handful of Bucky's ass. "That certainly won't be a problem." Bucky had grinned at him and slid down his body, and Steve had pretty much stopped thinking after that.

It all changes when Steve comes home after a particularly hard week at work, trying hard not to completely break down. He knows that Bucky works at the register of a bookstore in Brooklyn from nine to five every day except Sunday, but that he'd sometimes take on extra shifts to gain some extra cash. If he hasn't taken someone else's shift, he'd probably be home right about now.

Steve: I want to see you.

Steve sets the phone down on the kitchen table, tapping his fingers against his thigh. When Bucky hasn't replied after a few minutes he flies out of his seat and into the kitchen, desperate to do something to pass the time until Bucky responds. Steve is halfway through making a Bolognese sauce as pasta boils next to him when the phone chimes, and he almost knocks over the saucepan in his haste to get to the phone.

Bucky: I can be there in 20. Everything okay?

Steve: Bad week. I'm making spaghetti if you want any.

Bucky: Sounds good. See you soon <3

By the time that Steve had ladled out two servings of the pasta and poured two glasses of wine - he'd gotten a pinot noir after Bucky had confessed that it was his favourite, and he always made sure to have a bottle in the house in case Bucky came over - he'd calmed down enough to not feel like he's on the edge of a breakdown, and when the knock on the door comes he lets out a breath, automatically relaxing as he went to open it. Bucky has his hair in a loose braid and no makeup on, and he's wearing a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie that Steve remembers leaving at Bucky's place the week before. He looks soft and young and so, so beautiful.

"Hey," Bucky says, stepping forward to kiss Steve's cheek as he closes the door behind him. "It smells good in here."

When he tries to step past Steve grabs his waist, pulling him in to bury his face in Bucky's neck and breathing in his scent. Bucky's hands immediately cradle Steve's head, his long fingers stroking Steve's hair and the back of his neck.

"Hey," Bucky murmurs again, and his throat vibrates against Steve's cheek. "What's going on?"

"'M just happy to see you," Steve mumbles, and pulls away. Bucky is looking at him softly, and Steve doesn't stop him when he leans forward and brushes their lips together gently. Steve lets himself bathe in Bucky's light for a few more moments before grasping his hand and leading him to the kitchen.

They eat in silence, ankles hooked together under the table and sharing small smiles over their spaghetti. When they finish, Steve pulls Bucky away when he tries to wash their dishes and links their fingers together, leading him into the bedroom.

"You wining and dining and bedding me, Stevie?" Bucky murmurs as he lies down on the bed, pulling off the hoodie and throwing it to the side before undoing his pants. "That's pretty romantic for you." His pants join the hoodie on Steve's floor, and Steve smiles fondly when he sees that Bucky isn't wearing underwear.

"I can be romantic," Steve replies, discarding his clothes and pressing himself down onto Bucky's body. "You just haven't seen it yet,"

"No," Bucky agrees, looping his arms over Steve's shoulders and spreading his legs, making a perfect little space for Steve's body. "I've just seen the sexy-as-all-hell, take-what-you-want dominant side of you." Steve's hands trail down Bucky's sides, marvelling in the soft skin, and stop at his thighs. God, but Steve loves Bucky's thighs - they're thick and strong, holding enough power to crush bones between them, but they always part so sweetly for Steve, all that power trembling beneath the surface of the skin.

"You want me to be sweet on you, Buck?" Steve murmurs, moving his mouth down to Bucky's throat and sucking gently, and Bucky lets out a shaky breath.

"I want whatever you're willing to give to me."

Steve's mouth leaves the quickly-reddening patch of skin and he meets Bucky's eyes, surprised at the sincerity he sees there. He lets go of Bucky's thigh with one hand to press his palm against Bucky's cheek, surprised to find his hand shaking. Without breaking eye contact, Steve reaches to the chest of drawers next to his bed and opens the first drawer, pulling out a bottle of lube and a condom. Bucky never takes his eyes off Steve's face, not when Steve slides down his body, pressing kisses to every available patch of skin until Bucky is arching up into his mouth and gasping. Steve doesn't stop until his head is between Bucky's legs, those muscular thighs wrapped around his neck.

Steve has no idea how he's managed to stay away from Bucky's ass for so long. It's a thing of beauty - big and thick and the perfect shape, acres of tanned, flawless skin stretched across hard muscle, that perfect little pink furl with the fine layer of dark hair trailing down to his balls. Steve can't resist leaning in and biting a cheek, and Bucky gasps, his hands going to Steve's hair. Steve leans back, watching smugly as a mark in the shape of his teeth appears on the delicate flesh.

"I wanna lick you," he rasps out. Bucky's eyes widen and his pupils blow out as he moans loudly at the statement, and it sends a thrill through Steve, knowing that he made Bucky react like that with just his words.

"Yes," Bucky gasps out. His chest is heaving, his face red, and his hands clench at his sides as if he's holding himself back. Steve takes his hands and guided them to his hair, and Bucky's fingers curl into the soft blonde strands, before Steve ducks his head and pushes his tongue inside.

Steve had eaten women out before, and he loves it - the slick that runs down his chin, the softness of their folds against his face, the taste and feel that's unique to a woman's sex as they howl and grasp at his hair. This is completely different. Bucky's hole is dry, and his hair tickles Steve's bottom lip as he laps at the puckered skin. He tastes of sweat and something musky that Steve just can't get enough of, and his ass is so damn tight it feels as if Steve's tongue is about to be ripped right off. Bucky is writhing above him, his hands clenching in Steve's hair and gripping at his shoulders as he tries to grind onto Steve's tongue.

Slicking up his fingers, Steve slides two in up to the knuckle and Bucky inhales sharply, his back arching and eyes widening in pleasure. Steve crooks his fingers and starts rubbing at the little bundle of nerves inside Bucky's body, kissing his way back up until he can capture Bucky's lips in his again. Bucky's legs are back around his hips as he slides his tongue into Bucky's mouth and another finger into his asshole, feeling every little gasp and moan that Bucky lets out and swallowing them down. Steve pulls away, his free hand coming up to cup Bucky's cheek as Bucky looks at him with blown-out eyes, his mouth red and swollen and hair sticking to his forehead. Steve strokes his thumb under Bucky's eye, and Bucky's hands shakily run up Steve's chest to settle on his jaw. His hands are so soft as they hold Steve's jawline almost reverently, long pianist fingers stroking across his cheeks and lips.

"Come on, Stevie," Bucky whispers. Steve whines softly, burying his face in Bucky's neck, and slides his fingers out of Bucky's hole. Bucky's hands are stroking his shoulders, his neck, his scalp, and it's so distracting that it takes Steve an embarrassingly long time to get the condom out of its packaging and onto his dick. Steve lines himself up, feeling Bucky shiver when the head of his cock presses at the furl of muscle.

"Just relax," Steve murmurs, running a hand through Bucky's soft hair and undoing the braid. Bucky's arms wrap around his shoulders and pull him down, closer, so their noses are touching and Steve almost has to go cross-eyed to see Bucky's face.

"Kiss me," Bucky breathes, and Steve presses his lips to Bucky's as he pushes inside his body.

God, but it's nothing like anything Steve has ever done. Bucky's tight around him, so tight, and he has to stop when he's halfway in just to catch his breath, looking down at Bucky's face in wonder. Bucky has his mouth open, eyes glazed, and his hair fans out over the pillow like a Renaissance painting, and Christ, Steve's in so much trouble with this man. Then Bucky rolls his hips downward, and Steve slips completely inside his body.

It's overwhelming. Bucky's muscles contract and flutter around his cock, and he's so much tighter than a woman, so much nicer, and Steve has to press his cheek to Bucky's and squeeze his eyes shut so he doesn't come all over himself. Bucky's panting and whining underneath him, hands pawing at Steve's shoulders and fluttering over his face, and Steve kisses him as he starts to move in short, slow thrusts.

His mind is filled with cotton buds. Nothing exists but Bucky around him, underneath him, his tongue inside Steve's mouth and his ass clenching around Steve's cock as Steve rolls his hips almost languidly, working his cock deeper and deeper. Suddenly Bucky's crying out, his back arching off the bed and into Steve's body, and Steve fists a hand in his soft brown hair and licks into his mouth ferociously, his hips snapping forward faster and faster. Bucky clings to him, his nails scorching marks down Steve's back and heels digging into his ass hard enough to leave bruises, and they're both sobbing now, completely lost in their pleasure. Steve finds himself hoisting Bucky's thighs higher, almost folding him in half in an attempt to get even deeper. Bucky's howling with pleasure, and there's sweat trickling down both their bodies but Steve doesn't care, just leans down to lick a long stripe up Bucky's neck and bites down, and Bucky throws his head back and comes, completely untouched, all over their stomachs. His ass spasms around Steve's cock, and it's just so much that Steve clenches his jaw, his teeth digging deeper into Bucky's skin, and shoots off into the condom.

His orgasm is shattering - his muscles clench, blood fills his mouth as he breaks the skin of Bucky's collar, and his vision completely whites out. It's the most intense thing he's felt in years, and as he lifts his head, he realises his face is wet with tears. Steve pulls off the condom with shaking hands, knotting the end and throwing it in the general direction of the bin.

Bucky's laying underneath him completely slack, panting heavily. There's blood on his collar, slowly seeping from the mark Steve left, there's a blush going halfway down his chest, his skin is glistening with sweat, and there are tear tracks on his face. He opens his eyes, still red, and looks up at Steve with wide eyes.

"How was that for your first time?" he asks breathlessly, and Steve whines, deep in his throat, and grabs the back of Bucky's neck to drag him into a kiss. Bucky goes willingly, looping his arms around Steve's neck and rolling them over, his body heavy and warm on top of Steve's.

"You're bleeding," Steve rasps out. "And we're both covered in jizz."

Bucky laughs hoarsely and kisses Steve again. "I guess you'll need to run us a bath then, big guy."

Steve chuckles and wraps his arms around Bucky to pull him close to his chest, and Bucky snuggles into the embrace, his breath warm on Steve's neck.

"That would require getting up, sweetheart," Steve murmurs.

"Then I guess we're going to sleep covered in jizz," Bucky responds sleepily. Steve rolls his eyes and, with some effort, sits up, Bucky still on top of him. Bucky groans, but follows him to the bathroom, where he sits on the counter and watches Steve start the shower. When they're under the steaming water, Bucky tucks himself into Steve's side and leans into him, pressing kisses to his neck and letting Steve wash him. By the time they're both dried off and crawling back into bed, he's already half asleep.

"Did I really wear you out that much?" Steve teases, and Bucky hums, curling into Steve's side.

"Can I stay here tonight?" Bucky asks sleepily. There's no way he'd be able to get home in this state, Steve thinks idly, and wraps his arms around the smaller man's body.

"Course," Steve murmurs, and kisses the top of Bucky's head. "You can stay over whenever you want, Buck."

Bucky purrs happily and snuggles further into Steve. His hair tickles Steve's chin, and Steve absently runs his hand through the damp strands, making Bucky sigh in contentment.

"G'night, Stevie," Bucky mumbles, and is promptly asleep within the minute. Steve smiles down at him, his hand not pausing in twirling the strands of hair around his fingers. Bucky's so beautiful like this, fuck-drunk and snuggly, his red, plush mouth hanging open slightly as he breathes through his nose. His eyelashes fan out across his cheeks, casting shadows down his face, and there's a rosy glow to his cheeks. Steve's eyes slip shut as he watches Bucky, and just before he falls asleep, a single thought goes through his mind.

I love him.

 

--------

 

Surprisingly, not much changes after Steve's revelation. Bucky, bless him, doesn't seem to notice that Steve is suddenly a lot more affectionate than usual, and seems to enjoy it almost as much as Steve. They started seeing each other out of booty calls, to catch up over coffee or at a bar. Sam and Natasha both tease Steve mercilessly about it, but Riley seems to be a lot more worried.

"I worry about you, man," Riley sighs, fiddling with his mug. He'd asked Steve to meet him at their favourite coffee shop, and when Steve had gotten there Riley had already claimed a table, his matcha latte in his hands. "I mean, I know you. You're not exactly the type for long-term casual."

"Who says I'm not?" Steve mumbles, and Riley raises an unimpressed eyebrow. "Hey, don't you remember Lorraine?"

"You and Lorraine were a trainwreck from start to finish," Riley replies wearily. "You fell in love with her, and she moved to a different continent. That is not a success story - that's a Hallmark movie gone wrong."

"Fine. But I'm not in love with Bucky."

"I never said you were. I'm just saying you need to be careful."

Steve sighs. "I know. But listen; the sex is amazing, the company is just as good. We can hang out and have sex and still be friends."

"Steve, you're literally dating the man," Riley reminds him. "You fuck, you go on dates, you brought him flowers last week, for Christ's sake. What will you do when he gets bored or finds someone else?"

Steve's hands tighten around his cup. Riley lets him stay silent.

"Maybe you should think of seeing other people," Riley says gently. "You two aren't exclusive. Go on some dates. Get back on Tinder. Find some cute guy or girl to get your mind off him."

Steve refuses to think of how that makes him feel slightly ill. "It wouldn't be cheating on him." It was more to reassure himself than Riley.

"Because you two aren't together," Riley reminds him, not unkindly. "It's just sex. And I know that you two are getting pretty close, but don't think that he feels the same way as you."

Steve's phone lights up on the table between them with a text from Bucky, asking if Steve wants to go out to the Italian place they'd both been wanting to go to for a while that night. Steve hesitates, before tapping out an excuse that he's not feeling well. Riley gives him a sad smile and pats him on the shoulder.

"You seem to know a lot about trying to get over someone," Steve mumbles, and Riley's smile turns strained.

"Steve, I don't know if you've noticed or not, but I've been in love with Sam since we were kids. And he's straight. I don't want to pine after him for the rest of my life."

 

-----

 

Steve goes to a club that night.

The lights are too technicolour, the music too loud, but it's easy to approach a table of women and soon get invited to sit with them. There are four of them, the youngest probably still in college and the oldest in her early thirties. Two of the girls - one with short-cropped blonde hair and the other with ebony skin and wavy hair - don't seem that interested in him for anything other than friendly conversation, which Steve is fine with - they look like they're together, anyway. The youngest, a perky blonde with a slim build, introduces herself as Tiffany, and it doesn't take long for her to migrate from opposite Steve to beside him, her long nails lightly scratching at the fabric on his thighs. The other girl, a curvy, gorgeous brunette, watches him from across the table, her fingers trailing around the edge of her martini glass and lips wrapped around the straw. Steve would be the first to admit he had a weakness for confident, beautiful brunettes (both Peggy and Bucky fit that description), and this woman was pushing all of his buttons. She hadn't given her name, either - which just made it feel more exhilarating to meet her gaze over the table and wrap an arm around Tiffany's shoulders.

The dark-skinned woman and her maybe-girlfriend leave early, with a kiss on the cheek for Tiffany and the dark-haired girl, and the blonde winks at Steve as she leaves.

"So, Steve..." Tiffany trails her fingers over his chest. "You still haven't told me what you're doing here all by yourself." She's acting coy. Steve can work with that.

He sighs, tipping his head back. "I don't really know, darlin'. I guess I just need to let loose. Forget about life for a bit."

The other woman rises from her chair, and the way she leans on the table pushes her breasts out. Steve doesn't hide the way his gaze lingers on them.

"You want some help with that?" she purrs, leaning across the table to smooth her hand over his shoulder. Steve leans into it unabashedly.

"Miranda!" Tiffany snaps. "This one's mine. Go away."

Miranda... Yeah, Steve could get behind that.

"Relax, sweetheart," Steve murmured, running his hand down Tiffany's back. "How about you and me go dance, huh?"

Tiffany shoots a glare at Miranda, then slides out of her seat, tugging Steve along with her. Miranda watches them, her dark eyes glittering in amusement.

"Am I invited?" she asks coyly, and tosses her hair over her shoulder. Steve can't help but watch the curve of her neck, the soft skin that seemed to shine in the bad lights. He notices a sliver of black lace peeking out from the neckline of her dress, and swallows, his pants feeling a lot tighter than earlier.

"You're invited wherever you want, doll."

Miranda's eyes sparkle, and she pushes her chair out and slinks towards them, her hips swaying with every step. Steve is barely aware of Tiffany's huff and quick departure, because then Miranda's right in front of him, her body so close that he can feel the heat radiating off her.

"And what if I wanted you to invite me back to your place?" she purrs, placing her hands lightly on Steve's chest. Her nails aren't nearly as long as the talons that Tiffany had, but they're well-manicured and painted burgundy to match her dress. Even in her heels, she's a good half a foot shorter than him.

"I'd be getting us the nearest taxi out of this shithole," Steve breathed. Miranda grinned and took his hand, leading him out of the club and to the street outside, where he hailed the first taxi he saw and thanked God that his place was only a five-minute drive away. Miranda didn't make the drive easier; she plastered herself against his side and rubbed at his crotch, mouthing at his neck and definitely leaving marks. Steve almost throws the money at the cab driver in his haste to get upstairs.

As soon as they get inside, Steve's slamming Miranda against the wall and licking into her mouth, one hand on her hip and the other curled in her hair. Miranda moans loudly into the kiss and clings to Steve's shoulders, her nails scratching at his skin through the fabric of his shirt. Her lips are soft, so soft, and her skin is like silk under Steve's hands. He's surprised by it, and almost put off - he's so used to the sting of stubble and the feel of hard muscle under his fingers that he forgot how soft and mouldable women were. Miranda runs her hands down his front and up the back of his shirt, and Steve lifts his arms to help her get it off. She eyes his naked chest hungrily, then leans forward and bites down on the swell of his pec. Steve shouts and arches his back, moaning as she laves over his nipple and sucks a mark just underneath it. He'll be covered in hickies by tomorrow, and he can't wait. He reaches behind her and feels for the zipper that he'd seen back in the bar, and Miranda arches her back until he can pull the zipper down. She steps out of the dress, guiding Steve's hands to her breasts, and kisses him again. Her bra and panties are lacy and black, and it reminds Steve of the pair that Bucky had worn their first time together.

"Bedroom," Miranda murmurs, pushing him back and slipping her shoes off. Steve grabs her by the back of her thighs and lifts her, and she immediately wraps her legs around his waist, grinding back onto his dick with small moans. Steve moans as she bites down on his neck again, and somehow makes it to the bedroom without dropping her or knocking into anything, and knee-walks his way up the bed so that he can deposit her on the pillows.

"You're strong," Miranda purrs, and Steve is thrown back to the couch in Bucky's apartment and the post-orgasmic haze that he'd been under as Bucky had said those exact words to him, his grey eyes lidded and lips curled into a smile. "Take off your pants."

Steve snaps out of the memory and unbuckles his jeans, leaving him in just his boxer briefs. Miranda looks him over hungrily, then stretches herself out on his bed.

"Let me," Steve murmurs, hands going to the clasp on her bra. Miranda arches her back dutifully, and Steve is able to slip the bra off her body. Her breasts are beautiful, and exactly Steve's type - large and round, with perfect little brown nipples that are pebbling from the exposure. Steve buries his face between her breasts and hums, cupping one in each hand and massaging gently. Miranda purrs happily and wraps her arms around his shoulders, keeping him in place with a hand on the back of his head.

"Prettiest fuckin' tits, baby," Steve murmurs, kissing her nipples. "Just wanna stay between 'em, feelin' 'em rubbin' against me."

"Shit, Steve," Miranda gasps, her nails digging into the hard muscle of his shoulders and leaving little crescent-shaped marks. "Want your mouth on me."

Steve dutifully leans down and sucks on her left breast, biting into the swell and licking over the nipple, making sure that it's covered in blooms of purple and glistening with spit, then moves to the other. Miranda's wriggling and moaning above him, and he slides a hand down to rub her through her panties, delighting in the dampness of the fabric. When her right breast is just as marked up as the left, Steve kisses his way down her body, leaving a trail of hickies as he goes, and slides her panties down her legs and settles between her thighs.

Miranda looks wrecked; her hair rumpled and strewn across the pillow, her chest heaving, her eyes wide and lust-blown. She's unshaved, but trimmed, and Steve takes the time to nuzzle into the bristly hair between her legs before pressing an open-mouthed kiss to her clit. Miranda shouts, one of her hands burying itself in Steve's hair, holding him in place.

"Shit, yeah," Miranda hisses as Steve sucks gently on her clit. "Yeah, lick me open, baby. Get my slick dripping down your chin."

Steve moans and releases her clit, laying an open-mouthed kiss against her entrance and sliding his tongue in. She's so tight, so velvety around him, her walls fluttering around his tongue as he laps up her slick, the slightly sweet taste enveloping his mouth. God, she tastes amazing.

It's not long before the lower half of Steve's face is drenched and his jaw is aching, but he keeps going at it, eating Miranda out like she's a five-course meal. She's so hot, so soft, so sweet, and Steve finds himself craving for the musky, clean taste of Bucky, of the way he presses back against Steve's tongue with high, breathy moans, of how much tighter he always felt around Steve's tongue, around his cock. Miranda shudders above him and her walls spasm around his tongue as she comes with a long moan. He pulls away, breathing heavily, and wipes his face on the sheets next to him. Miranda's still recovering, her chest heaving and Steve crawls back up her body to kiss her, his hands massaging her abused breasts.

Miranda gasps and grinds against Steve's leaking cock. He moans at the feeling and ruts against her for a couple of seconds, before pulling away and grabbing a condom from the bedside table. Miranda sits up, grabbing the condom out of his hands and pushing him back to sit against the headboard.

"My turn," she purrs, sliding the condom on in a matter of seconds and swallowing him down immediately, humming as he swears and bucks up into her mouth. Her mouth is a red ring around his cock, her lipstick leaving smears against the latex of the condom, and it's so damn hot that Steve had to concentrate not to blow his load immediately. She looks up at him through her lashes, and Steve thinks of how her eyes aren't the right colour, how her hair is far too long, her jawline isn't square enough, then pushes those thoughts out of his mind and focuses on the velvety warmth around his cock.

"Shit, Miranda, wait," he pants out, pulling her off. "Wanna come inside you."

Miranda leans up to press a bruising kiss to his mouth, her fingers tugging on his hair in a way that's just this side of painful, and straddles his hips. Miranda gives his cock a few jerks before she rises onto her knees and sinks down onto him in one smooth glide, moaning as her clit rubs against his abdomen. Steve grips her hips and buries his face in her chest again, and Miranda holds him in place as she starts to move on his cock. Her walls flutter and contract around him, and her breasts are hot and heavy in his hands, and her mouth is all over him, marking him up and leaving his neck black and blue. She's moaning and writhing above him, milking his cock and scratching up his back, and all he can think of is how she tastes wrong, she feels wrong in his arms, she feels wrong around his cock, but she's warm and beautiful so he buries his feelings and bites her breast and tries desperately to get the image of blue-grey eyes and bright smiles out of his head.

 

------

 

Miranda leaves as soon as it's over, zipping up her dress and kissing him goodbye before leaving. She doesn't offer her number, she doesn't give any false platitudes. They both knew what she was there for. Steve stays awake for hours, staring up at the ceiling and feeling like he'd just done something horribly wrong. He showers, scrubbing his skin raw to get her smell off him, feeling sick to his stomach despite assuring himself you didn't cheat, Bucky isn't your boyfriend. It never felt real.

He calls Bucky, then immediately hangs up. Then he calls him again and it goes straight to voicemail. Of course it did - it's two in the morning. Bucky's probably asleep. Instead, he jumps out of bed and pulls on the nearest clothes he could find, slipping his feet into sneakers and walking the three blocks to Sam and Riley's apartment that they still shared, even though they could both afford to live by themselves.

Riley opens the door looking like he hasn't slept a week, and ushers Steve in as soon as he sees his face.

"I took your advice," Steve croaks out. Riley hushes him and sits him down on the couch, pulling him into his arms. Steve goes willingly, melting against his friend.

"Steve, what happened?" Riley asks, his hands combing through Steve's still-damp hair.

"I went to a club. Took your advice," Steve repeats. "Her name was Miranda. I took her home."

He didn't have to say anything else; Riley's arms tightened around him.

"Steve, I'm so sorry. I didn't know how bad it was."

"I'm in love with him, Riles," Steve croaks, and starts crying. Riley croons and soothes him, kissing the crown of his head and stroking his hair and rubbing his shoulders. Steve buries his face in Riley's shoulder and holds on, trying not to let the grief consume him.

He didn't know how long it took for him to calm down, but by the time he pulled away, Riley's shirt is soaked through with snot and tears.

"Where's Sam?" Steve croaks out, wiping at his face. Riley's face crumples.

"He went on a date. I'm guessing it went well."

Steve huffed out a laugh. "We're a couple of pathetic sons of bitches, aren't we?"

Riley choked out a wet-sounding laugh. "I got some M&Ms in the cupboard, and Nat left a few bottles of vodka last time she was over. Something about Sam and I need to drink proper alcohol."

"Turn on the TV," Steve says, getting up from the couch to grab the chocolate and alcohol. "Put on a sitcom or something."

"Way ahead of you." Riley had queued Golden Girls. Of course he had.

"This is pretty gay of us," Steve says, passing the vodka over. Riley unscrews the cap and takes a gulp, making a face as it went down. "Watching Golden Girls and getting drunk because the boys we're in love with don't love us back?"

"You're not gay."

"I like men."

Riley raises the bottle in salute before he takes another gulp.

 

------

 

Steve doesn't hear from Bucky for a month after that.

It's the longest time they've been apart in the time they've known each other, which is coming up on six months, and Steve is mildly concerned. Oh who was he kidding, he's worried out of his mind. He'd tried calling, he'd tried texting, but all the calls went to voicemail and none of the texts were answered. He'd even tried dropping over, but when he'd pressed the buzzer, nobody had answered.

So it's a bit of a shock when one night Steve is walking down the street towards his apartment building and sees Bucky huddled up by the side of the building. The rain's pelting down, and Steve'd had the foresight to grab an umbrella before he left that morning, but it seems Bucky hadn't been so lucky. He looks drenched to the core, and from the way he keeps shivering and shifting from foot to foot, it can't be comfortable.

"Bucky?" Steve doesn't even try to contain his surprise. Bucky looks up, his hair plastered to his face. He looks like a drowned kitten. "What are you doing here?"

"Can I come in?" Bucky asks meekly, ducking his head. He looks miserable and on the verge of tears, and Steve can't think of doing anything other than wrapping him up in a bundle of warm blankets and keeping him safe.

"Of course. Is everything okay?" Steve asks, wrapping an arm around Bucky's shoulders and guiding him towards the entrance of the building. Bucky leans into it with a shaky sigh, his skin freezing under Steve's hands.

"Can we just get upstairs?" he pleads, looking up at Steve with big, watery eyes. Steve kisses his forehead and pulls him just that little bit closer to his side.

"Yeah, sweetheart," Steve murmurs, digging around in his pocket for the keys. "Let's get you warmed up."

The first thing Steve does when they get into his apartment is strip Bucky of his wet clothes and bundle him up in dry blankets, sitting him down on the couch. Bucky looks slightly overwhelmed as Steve pats over his body gently, and Steve realises that Bucky's never seen him in Mother Hen mode.

"I'm gonna run you a bath, okay?" Steve says quietly, stroking Bucky's hair. "Then I'm gonna order food from that Italian place down the street that you like, and we can have a night in."

"Okay," Bucky whispers, and Steve bundles him up in his arms and takes him into the bathroom, blankets and all. He sets Bucky on the counter and kisses him on the forehead before turning to the bath, busying himself with running the water, adding the bubbles and scent until the water is almost to the brim of the tub and the room smells of jasmine and sandalwood. Bucky watches from his perch on the counter, his face only half-visible from where the blanket was pulled up to his nose.

"Come on, let's get you in," Steve says gently, holding out a hand. Bucky slides from the counter, the blankets slipping from his shoulders and onto the floor, and Steve's heart leaps into his throat.

"You could always join me," Bucky murmurs, his hand slipping into Steve's. God, it's hard to say no to that face.

"As soon as the food gets here," Steve promises, and leans down to press a kiss to Bucky's lips. It isn't a sexual kiss, or even a steamy one - it's close-mouthed and chaste, but it sends sparks down Steve's spine and leaves him feeling giddy with happiness.

"I've missed you," Steve whispers as they pull away. Bucky closes his eyes and rests his head on Steve's chest.

"I know, I'm sorry," Bucky murmurs. "I just needed... I just needed some time to myself."

"If you need any help, with anything at all, I'm here," Steve says, and Bucky smiles sadly.

"You should probably check to see how far away the delivery guy is," he says, and steps away, effectively ending the conversation.

"You get comfortable. I'll be back soon," Steve says, and leaves the room before he can do something stupid, like confess his undying love.

When Steve checks his app, the delivery person is five minutes away, so Steve busies himself with getting out clothes for Bucky to wear later and putting on a load of washing. When the food comes Steve puts it in the microwave to stay warm and goes back into the bathroom, pulling his shirt off as he goes. Bucky's got nothing but the top of his head and his toes sticking out of the water, and his hair floats around his face in ringlets.

"You took too long," he murmurs, sitting up when Steve comes into the room.

"I was five minutes, Buck," Steve replied, amused despite himself. Bucky huffed and motioned for him to hurry up, and it's not long before Steve's out of his clothes and settled down behind Bucky in the bath. Bucky hums happily and snuggles back into Steve's chest, his head resting on Steve's shoulder. Steve wraps his arms around Bucky's middle and hums contentedly when Bucky laces their fingers together.

"'M sorry I haven't been around," Bucky mumbles, tracing patterns on Steve's hand. "Things have just been so..."

"You don't have to explain anything, Buck," Steve said gently. "You're not obligated to see me every few days. It's not like-" He cuts himself off. It's not like we're dating.

"I know," Bucky sighs, seemingly oblivious to Steve's near slip-up. "But I like to think that we're more than just... fuck buddies, or whatever. You're my friend, Steve. And it was shitty for me to just ghost you like that."

"I was worried about you," Steve admits, leaning his cheek against Bucky's head. "You don't have to tell me what you were doing, but I need you to promise me you won't disappear like that again. I don't know if I could go through that again."

Bucky pulls away, just to turn around in the bath and kneel in front of Steve. His eyes are wide and confused. "You were worried about me?"

"Buck, of course I was." Steve reaches out to cup Bucky's cheek, stroking his thumb over the soft skin. "I care about you, so much, and I was terrified that something had happened, or I'd done something to hurt you."

Bucky's eyes were suspiciously bright. "Damnit Steve, you can't just say stuff like that." Before Steve could apologize, or even open his mouth, Bucky had flung his arms around Steve's neck and was kissing him for all he was worth. Steve, not expecting it, gets pushed back into the wall of the tub, and water sloshes over the sides, but that doesn't matter because Bucky's got tears running down his face and his kisses are needy and desperate, and all Steve can think of is wrapping him up in his arms and never letting go.

"Baby, baby, slow down," Steve manages to get out. "Sweetheart-"

Bucky sobs and collapses against his chest, shoulders shaking and breath uneven. "Please, Steve. Please just-" He doesn't finish his sentence, and instead buries his face in Steve's chest.

"What do you want me to do, sweetheart?" Steve asked, feeling almost desperate to help. "Anything, baby, I'll do whatever you want."

Bucky can't seem to say anything and just shakes his head, his eyes squeezed tightly shut. Steve holds him close, cooing gentle words and brushing soft kisses across Bucky's face, and it's not long before Bucky lets out a soft whine and tilts his head up to slot their lips together. It's not nearly as frenzied as the last kiss, and Steve nudges apart Bucky's lips and licks into his mouth slowly, his hand keeping Bucky's head steady. Bucky's still crying, but he calms down the longer Steve kisses him until he's letting out soft sighs and moans into Steve's mouth.

It's a long time before they separate; long enough that the water's lukewarm and Bucky's moved closer to try and keep warm. Steve breaks their kiss, holding Bucky back when he tries to chase it, and rests their foreheads together.

"There's food in the kitchen," he finally rasps out. "And I've got snacks. You wanna watch shitty rom coms and cuddle?"

Bucky smiles shyly, his cheeks red. "You're too sweet, Steve."

"I like bein' sweet on you." Steve presses a quick kiss to Bucky's forehead. "C'mon. I think I still have some of your clothes lying around."

It's not until they're curled up together on the couch, meals long finished and sharing a box of assorted chocolates as Ten Things I Hate About You plays in the background, that Bucky speaks again.

"I'm sorry for randomly showing up and falling to pieces," he murmurs. "I didn't mean to drop all that on you."

"Baby, no," Steve croons, running a hand through Bucky's hair. "I love seeing you, no matter what. The fact that you came to me, you trusted me enough to be in that state near me, that makes me so happy."

"But we haven't seen each other in a month," Bucky argues. "And it was shitty of me to drop everything and run as soon as-" He clamps his mouth shut, and buries his face back in Steve's chest.

"As soon as what, sweetheart?" Steve murmurs, running a hand through Bucky's hair. Bucky didn't answer for a few minutes, and Steve takes the time to run a hand up the back of his shirt, rubbing his skin softly.

"It doesn't matter." Then Bucky shifts, and pulls away, standing up. "I need to go."

"Oh. Okay. Do you need anything?" Steve says, rather dumbly. Bucky smiles, but it's strained.

"I'll be fine. I'll grab my clothes next time I'm over." He pauses, then leans down and kisses Steve softly. "I'll see you soon, Steve."

"Okay," Steve says, and manages to smile. "Stay safe."

Bucky's lip quivers, and he turns away and stuffs his feet into his still-wet shoes, grabbing Steve's jacket and slipping out the door. The apartment feels too empty when he's gone.

 

------

 

It's around two in the afternoon when Natasha knocks on the door of Steve's office, a pretty blonde woman behind her.

"Steve, this is Sharon Carter," she says without preamble, stepping into the room with the blonde woman on her heels. "She's the legal concerned with the Carter Private Gallery."

Sharon smiles at him and steps forward to hold out her hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr Rogers. Aunt Peggy's told me a lot about you."

"You're Peggy's niece?" Steve asks, taking the offered hand. "It's nice to finally put a face to the name, Miss Carter."

"Please, it's Sharon."

He smiles, more than a little charmed. Sharon's beautiful, no doubt about it, with nice brown eyes and a tall, slim figure accentuated by her pencil skirt and blouse. "Then you can call me Steve."

Natasha winks at him behind Sharon's back and slips out of the office, her high heels making a faint clicking sound on the wood floor.

"So, while it's always a pleasure to do business with Carter Galleries," Steve starts, gesturing for Sharon to take a seat opposite him. "I wasn't expecting a visit. And I usually see Peggy for business transactions."

Sharon gives him a small smile. "As you know, Steve, my aunt is getting on in years, and recently she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She's been organising her will, bank records and business agreements over the past few weeks before she progresses and moves to a home."

Steve sits back in his chair in shock. "Pegs has Alzheimer's?"

Sharon grimaces, and leans over the desk to rest her hand on top of Steve's. "I know that you two are close. I'm sorry we couldn't tell you earlier, but we wanted to keep it in the family for the first little while."

"No, I understand," Steve says, trying to wipe at his eyes as discreetly as he could. "I'm sorry."

"She means a lot to you, too," Sharon says, and squeezes his hand one last time before pulling away. Steve clears his suddenly too-tight throat and sits up a bit straighter, giving Sharon a small smile.

"So, what can I do to help?"

Sharon smiles and pulls a binder out of her bag. "Aunt Peggy wants you to be the sole beneficiary of her collection."

Steve blinks a couple of times as Sharon opens the binder. "Seriously?"

"She never had any children," Sharon says, flipping through the pages absently. "Uncle Daniel died back in '09. And I certainly can't take it - I'm a government agent who spends about a week in my apartment every six months."

"Natasha said you were Peggy's lawyer," Steve says in confusion, and Sharon laughs.

"I went to law school, sure, and I handle all of Aunt Peggy's legal stuff, but I'm not a lawyer. I'm a field agent with the CIA," she explains. "But since Aunt Peggy doesn't really have any relatives she trusts with her collection, or who want it, she's giving it to you."

Steve blinks back a few tears, head spinning. "And she trusts me with this?"

Sharon smiles a little sympathetically. "Steve, she loves you. If you weren't about sixty years younger than her she'd probably have married you by this point. There's no one she trusts more with this."

Steve wipes away the few tears that escaped, and leans forward on his elbows. "Alright. Hand over the paperwork."

They spend a good part of the afternoon working through legal files, NDAs, insurance policies, and transferrals of money, and by the end of it Steve wants to sleep for a week, but Sharon's smiling and asking if he wants to grab drinks when he gets off, and he can't possibly refuse.

That's how he ends up sitting in a bar in Hell's Kitchen far too late on a work night, pleasantly drunk and in the company of a very pretty woman. Usually, Steve would be trying to get her to go home with him, or at least give him her number. The fact that he wasn't even contemplating doing that was slightly unnerving. More unnerving was the fact that Steve just wanted to get home and text Bucky.

Eventually, Sharon leans forward, her hair falling into her face. Steve can't help but mirror her actions, putting them just a few inches apart.

"I actually have something I need to talk to you about," she admits, a sheepish smile on her face.

"I hope it's not work-related," Steve teased. "I'm off the clock."

Sharon smiled, but there was something detached about it, something not real. "It's about James. You know, the guy you've been fucking?"

That made the smile on Steve's face freeze. "Bucky?"

Sharon straightened up, her eyes a lot colder than they were a second before. "So you do know him."

"I... Yeah. We've known each other for about six months now."

"So were you ever going to break things off with him, or just keep leading him on and sleeping with other people behind his back?" Sharon snaps.

Steve blanches, reeling back in his seat. The fact that Sharon had done a complete 180 on him was still being registered, and the fact that she apparently knows Bucky. "Hold on. Were you planning on springing this on me the whole time?"

"I'm a federal agent, Steve Rogers. I know how to lie. Now answer the question, and don't give me some bullshit excuse. He saw you with that woman. When you told him you were sick?"

"He saw that?" was all he could sputter out. Sharon looks deeply unimpressed.

"Yeah, Einstein. He took you soup and was planning to put on some shitty animated movie and snuggle with you to feel better."

"How do you even know all of this?" Steve finally asks.

"Because he's been telling me everything that happens in his life since we were nine years old and bonding over Pokémon cards." Sharon sighs and leans back, her anger drained out of her. "Look. That first night you two were together, he called me the next day to swoon over you. He said that you were really pretty and really nice, and James has a bit of a problem with big, sweet guys. And I told him it was a bad idea to keep seeing you, and he took my advice, at least for the first couple of weeks. But then he kept seeing you, and, just like I thought, he caught feelings. Which is what he always does."

Sharon leans forward, pinning Steve down with her gaze. "Listen. James means the world to me. And you mean the world to him. And it's obvious, from the fact that you have no issue with sleeping with other people, that you don't feel the same. So if you have an ounce of humanity in your body, you'll break it off now before it gets worse."

"Hold on," Steve finally says. "What do you mean, I mean the world to him?"

"James is in love with you, Steve!" Sharon says exasperatedly. "He's fallen hard, and it's going to end the same way that all the others have ended - with you leaving him for someone else, and me being left to pick up the pieces."

"What makes you think I'm going to leave him?" Steve asks heatedly.

"Because that's what you all do!" Sharon explodes. "I've seen your kind before, Steve Rogers, and I know exactly how you tick. You act all sweet and earnest, and then you leave as soon as you get bored. And I'm not letting my best friend get his heart broken by some asshole again."

"I'm in love with him!" Steve says, probably too loudly judging by the glare that the bartender shoots him. "I slept with that woman because I thought that it was just lust, that I could get over it, but after she left I drank myself into a stupor and called Bucky so many times I lost count. He means the goddamned world to me, so fuck you for thinking I don't care about him."

Sharon leans forward again, fire dancing behind her eyes. If Steve wasn't so angry, he'd be terrified. "Prove it."

Steve snatches his jacket from the back of his seat and stalks out of the bar, his phone already to his ear.

"Steve?" Bucky's voice is slurred with sleep, and Steve can just imagine that he's fallen asleep on the couch, watching a movie.

"Sorry, did I wake you?" Steve asks distractedly, making his way towards the subway as fast as he can.

"You probably did me a favour. I shouldn't be napping so often." Bucky yawns again. "What's up?"

"I need to see you."

Bucky pauses. Steve can hear his soft breathing down the line. "I don't think that's a good idea, Steve."

"Please. Just five minutes," Steve pleads, side-stepping to avoid other pedestrians as he makes his way down the stairs to the subway. "I'll leave as soon as you tell me to. I just need to speak with you. In-person."

Bucky sighs, and Steve can almost see him rubbing his eyes wearily. "Fine. I'll buzz you up."

"Five minutes, Buck," Steve promises, but Bucky's already hung up.

It takes Steve about fifteen minutes to get to Bucky's apartment complex, and, just like he said, Bucky lets him up without a word. Steve pauses for a few moments in front of Bucky's door, hand raised to knock. Maybe Sharon was lying. Maybe she just wanted to watch him fail. She certainly didn't seem all that fond of him when she showed her true colours. Before he could second-guess himself, Steve knocks.

The door swings open, and Steve's next breath catches in his throat. Bucky's wearing Steve's shirt. And nothing else. The shirt is far too big for him and hangs to his upper thighs, but certainly doesn't leave anything to the imagination. And it's Steve's shirt.

"That's my shirt," Steve says dumbly.

"You left it here a few months ago," Bucky replies coolly. "What do you want, Steve?"

His hair curls around his face like it's recently been wet, and Steve wonders if he'd been in the shower before Steve called.

"I was paid a visit today," Steve says finally. "By Sharon Carter."

Bucky curses and stalks back into the apartment, but he leaves the door open. Steve hesitantly steps inside, closing the door behind him. Bucky's walked over to the kitchenette, and he's standing with his back to Steve, his shoulders bunched up around his ears.

"What did she say to you?" Bucky asks, his voice frail. Steve can't stop himself from closing the distance between them and curling his arms around Bucky's waist. Almost reluctantly, Bucky leans back into his chest.

"Not much," Steve says quietly, breathing in Bucky's scent of apples and cinnamon. He'd definitely washed his hair in the last couple of hours, because it's damp when Steve rests his cheek on top of it. "She mainly yelled at me."

"She can be a bit protective," Bucky murmurs. "What was so important that you had to walk all the way over here?"

Steve pauses to rub his cheek gently across the top of Bucky's head, and the other man leans back into him a bit more, craning his neck back to rest it on Steve's shoulder. Steve presses a quick kiss to Bucky's collarbone, making him sigh.

"Why didn't you tell me you saw me with that woman?"

Almost like a switch had been flipped, Bucky went from relaxed and cuddly to stiff in about half a second. Steve kisses his neck again in reassurance.

"It's not my business, is it?" Bucky finally says, his voice cold. "You're not my boyfriend. We're not exclusive. You can fuck whoever you want."

"It hurt you," Steve says quietly. Bucky pulls away, and Steve's arms fall back to his sides. "I'm sorry I lied to you."

"I get it."

"No, I don't think you do," Steve replies softly. Bucky looks over his shoulder to glare, but he looks more tired than angry.

"Then enlighten me, Rogers," he says wearily. Steve leans back against the counter, crossing his hands behind his back to keep from reaching out.

"I was talking to my friend," he starts hesitantly. "He knew about our... arrangement. He told me that I was getting too close to you. That I'd get my heart broken. That I should stop before it's too late." Steve chuckles quietly, reaching up to rub his eyes. Bucky is silent. "So I cancelled on you, and went out, and slept with someone else. And a couple of hours later I was drunk off my ass, crying into my friend's arms and telling him how much I love you."

"Steve..." Bucky's voice is very small.

"And then you left. And I was terrified I'd done something wrong, or you'd realised that I had much deeper feelings for you than I'd thought. But then you showed up at my door in the pouring rain, broke down in my arms, then left, and I didn't know what to think."

"Sharon told you, didn't she?" Bucky asks meekly. "She told you how I feel."

Steve takes a deep breath, ignoring the lump in his throat. "Yeah. Yeah, she did. But I didn't know if she was lying or not."

"Of course she wasn't, Steve," Bucky murmurs, rubbing his eyes tiredly. "I'm head over fucking heels for you. And I haven't got a very good track record when it comes to being in love."

"Please, Buck," Steve says quietly, taking a small step forward. "Give me a chance. I'll - I'll prove to you how much I love you. I'll - fuck - anything you want, I'll do."

"Steve, please stop." Bucky's voice is very small. He's curled in on himself, eyes wide and tearful and bottom lip trembling. Steve stops.

"Bucky..." His voice cracks. Bucky ducks his head, wiping furiously at his eyes.

"Listen," Bucky finally says, his voice almost desperate. "This.. this thing we have going, I thought it'd be okay. I wouldn't get attached. It was sex, Steve, it was meant to just be sex."

"But it wasn't," Steve butts in. "We fell in love. And I know you're scared, I am too, but I promise, Bucky, we can -"

"Please leave."

Steve's heart feels like it's just shattered into a million pieces. "What?"

Bucky's crying now, fat tears rolling down his cheeks and teeth sunk into his bottom lip to keep it from trembling. "I can't do this. I... I just can't. I'm sorry, Steve. Please, just go."

Steve knows better than to argue.

"Call me? Please?" His voice is trembling. Bucky squeezes his eyes shut.

"I don't know."

Steve nods. Takes a step forward, then another. He tilts Bucky's head up just enough to press their lips together. There are tears on both their faces.

"I love you," Steve whispers against Bucky's lips. Bucky lets out a choked sob and grips Steve's hands, kissing the knuckles. He lets go. Steve walks away, turning as he opens the apartment door. Bucky's watching him, not trying to stop the flood of tears on his face. Steve's vision blurs, and he steps through the door. It closes behind him with a soft click.

 

------

 

It seems like every time Steve has a problem he finds himself here, he muses, curled up into Riley's side with a hot mug of tea in his hands. He stopped crying a couple of hours ago from sheer exhaustion and the fact that he probably doesn't have any tears left, and he's been sitting in a semi-comatose state on Sam and Riley's couch ever since. Sam is out for the night, again, and from Riley's morose expression Steve can only guess that he's on a date. The television's playing some random show that Steve thinks could be a drama, but it's so low budget he can't tell.

"So does he not feel the same way?" Riley asks quietly, not looking away from the television.

"He does," Steve sighs. His voice is slightly muffled from Riley's shirt. "He said it was just meant to be sex. That... he can't."

"Can't what?"

"Be with me? I dunno. He didn't exactly explain himself," Steve mumbles miserably.

"Maybe you just need to give him time," Riley suggests.

"Or I can just forget about him and we can never speak of this again," Steve retorts, his temper flaring. "Let's talk about something else, like, I don't know, Sam's newest girlfriend? I met her just the other week." He regrets the words as soon as they come out of his mouth as Riley immediately tenses up under him. "I... Shit, Riles, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."

"That was a low fucking blow, Rogers," Riley croaks.

"I know." Steve buries his face in Riley's chest.

"You're always more of an asshole when you're upset."

"I know."

They're quiet. Riley's hand comes up and sits on top of Steve's head, rubbing gently, and Steve leans into it, silently relieved.

"So what are you gonna do now?" Riley finally asks.

"Wait to see if he calls."

"And if he doesn't?"

Steve blinks back tears and sets his empty mug on the coffee table. "Let's not go into that."

Riley nods and pulls Steve closer, his hand now stroking through Steve's hair. It doesn't take long for Steve to fall asleep.

Steve wakes to loud arguing coming from literally three feet away. Silently, he contemplates why Sam and Riley couldn't have gone somewhere else to have their little domestic dispute and let him sleep, then immediately feels bad about it and sits up. Just to see Sam storm out of the apartment and slam the door. He slowly turns his head over to where Riley's standing, still facing the door, his face covered in shock.

"Riles?" Steve asks tentatively, and Riley jumps and looks over.

"Steve," he says faintly. "I forgot you were here."

"Are you okay?" Steve asks cautiously, standing up and pushing the blanket off. It's a stupid question; Riley's obviously not okay. His face is bright red and his eyes are filled with tears, and his hair is sticking up every which way, probably from the way he keeps running his hands through it.

"I'm fine," Riley says, his voice far too bright and his smile too brittle. "Sam's just gone out to spend the day with Maria."

"When will he be back?" Steve asks slowly, a pit in his stomach. He knew where this was going.

Riley's bright façade trembles slightly, but he manages to keep it up. "He packed a bag."

Steve's stomach drops. "Oh, Riley."

"It's fine," Riley insists, turning away quickly to go into the kitchen. "It's not the first time this has happened. Do you want something to eat? I can make eggs, we've got bacon in the fridge, and there are ingredients for pancakes if you want those."

Steve slowly walks towards his friend, who's bustling around the kitchen like his ass is on fire, and places a hand on Riley's shoulder as soon as he's close enough. Riley freezes, and Steve can feel his shoulders silently shaking under his grip.

"What's going on?" Steve asks softly. Riley lets out a breath, and it seems like his whole body deflates.

"Sam and I have been sleeping together."

Steve blinks. "Come again?"

Riley lets out a frustrated sigh and rakes his hand through his hair again. "I said that Sam and I sometimes fuck, and he refuses to admit that there's any reason behind it other than the need to scratch an itch."

"Sam's queer?" Steve asks dumbly.

"He doesn't seem to think so," Riley says sourly. "Like he hasn't been giving it to me up the ass for the past four months."

"So he's in denial?"

Riley groans loudly and wipes at his eyes. "I don't know, okay?! I don't fucking know because he got drunk last week and kissed me and told me he loved me, then the next day he's taking me to meet his girlfriend."

"What was that fight about?" Steve asks gently. Riley sniffs and wipes his nose on his sleeve.

"He came home maybe ten minutes ago. I'd just gotten up and I was gonna wake you when I'd made breakfast," he mumbles. "Sam walked in and he had this big hickey right there, and I was tired and upset and still a bit hung up on our little pity-fest last night and I blew up at him about never being around. And he got angry and said that if he's never around anyway, it won't make a difference if he leaves. And then he packed a bag and left."

"Yeah, well," Steve finally says after a minute of silence. "Sam's got a bit of a reputation as too intuitive with other people, but an idiot with his own problems."

Riley laughs wetly. "God, fuck him."

"He'll come around," Steve promises. "Now sit on the couch and turn on the Discovery channel. I was your problem last night, now you're mine."

Riley smiles, but it looks like it could shatter at any second. "You gonna cook or something?"

"Chocolate chip pancakes - I know they're your favourite. Now sit." Steve points to the couch menacingly, and Riley goes, patting Steve on the cheek on the way through.

 

-----

 

It's a week of non-stop worrying and zoning off before Steve's phone rings in the middle of his lunch break on Tuesday. He'd stopped lunging for it every time it chimed a few days ago, too sick of the overwhelming disappointment when he sees it isn't who he was hoping for, and he doesn't even look at the caller ID when he answers.

"Rogers."

There's a couple of seconds of silence. "Hey, Steve."

Steve drops the sandwich he was holding. "Buck?"

"Are you busy?" Bucky sounds nervous, hesitant, and Steve can see him in his mind's eye, chewing on his lip and fiddling with a loose strand of hair.

"I'm not busy," Steve says quickly, avoiding the stack of papers on the end of his desk. Bucky's more important.

"Can you meet me at Angie's in fifteen minutes?" He still sounds so tentative, and Steve wants to wrap him up in a hug and never let go.

"Of course, Buck." Steve immediately opens his emails and starts typing out a message to Natasha, saying he's leaving early. "Is everything okay? Are you alright?"

Bucky's quiet for a couple of seconds. "I'm fine. I'll see you soon." He hangs up before Steve can say anything else.

Steve rushes through the email, not waiting for Natasha's reply before he slams his laptop shut and rushes out of the office, pulling on his coat on the way. Thankfully, he doesn't run into Natasha or Clint on the way out of the gallery, and it takes barely any time until he's opening the door of Angie's diner five minutes early, face bright red from the chill outside. He scans the diner and catches a familiar glimpse of dark hair.

Bucky's sitting near the back of the shop, his hands curled around a steaming mug. His hair's in a French braid that goes down the right side of his face, and there's a bright red beanie pulled down over his ears. He's got a jacket slung over the back of his seat, leaving him in a black turtleneck, and there's a chunky scarf hanging loose around his neck.

Steve wants nothing more than to run over there and wrap him up tight in his arms, but instead, he walks over slowly and sits in the empty chair. Bucky looks up from his mug, and Steve realizes his eyes are red-rimmed.

"You gotta know this isn't about you," Bucky says quietly.

"If you give me the 'it's not you, it's me' line I might actually flip this table," Steve replies evenly. Bucky frowns and leans forward.

"This isn't a joke, Steve."

"I never said it was."

"I don't have the best history with relationships."

"And you're worried we might turn out the same way?"

Bucky's quiet. A waitress walks over and Steve orders a latte. It's only when she's gone that Bucky looks up again. "I'm worried I might get hurt again."

Steve reaches out over the table, and Bucky doesn't pull away when he rests his hand on top of Buckys. "Everyone gets hurt in relationships. But the good things outweigh the cons."

Bucky smiles hollowly. "That's not what I meant."

It takes Steve a second to understand. "What do you mean?"

"Old boyfriend." Bucky shrugs self-deprecatingly. "Last one I had. It was a few years ago. He was a big fan of making me feel like shit and leaving bruises."

Steve unconsciously tightened his grip on Bucky's hand, taking a few slow breaths to keep from screaming. The idea that someone had hurt the beautiful boy in front of him, that they had hit him and told him he wasn't good enough, makes Steve want to find that good-for-nothing ex and make him regret ever setting eyes on Bucky. When he opens his eyes, he sees Bucky looking at him like he knows exactly what's going on in Steve's head.

"You haven't dated anyone since?" Steve finally asks.

"I haven't been able to trust anyone since," Bucky corrects. "I just have sex. They can't hurt me if I don't know who they are."

Steve hesitates. "Then why did you keep seeing me?"

Bucky smiles resignedly. "How could I not? You were cute and sweet, then I got to know you and you were even better than I thought. I thought I could stop myself from falling for you."

The waitress comes back with Steve's coffee, looking between the two of them and biding a hasty retreat as soon as she sets the mug on the table. Steve slips his hand under Bucky's, and feels a small thrill when Bucky intertwines their fingers. "You know that I'd never hurt you. Not like that."

Bucky's eyes soften. "I know."

They're quiet for a few minutes, Steve occasionally taking sips of his coffee and Bucky looking out the window vacantly. It's only when Steve finishes the coffee, setting the mug down on the table with a soft thunk, that Bucky meets his eyes again.

"After you told me… how you feel," Bucky begins hesitantly. "I… I needed time to think. After I saw you with that woman, I'd planned to just stop seeing you. I was gonna tell you when I went over to your place the last time, but that didn't exactly work out." He smiles self-deprecatingly. "I thought I was just a fuck to you. Sure, we were friends - ish - but I didn't think you'd miss me too much if I left. But then you told me how you felt, and - well, I didn't know what to do.

"I needed time," Bucky repeats, and squeezes Steve's hand. "To process. To think. And you said that you… that you wanted me to give you a chance." Bucky pauses and ducks his head, and Steve leans forward to catch his eye again.

"It still stands," Steve says quietly. "If you'll have me."

Bucky huffs out a laugh and quickly wipes at his eyes, and when he looks back up at Steve his lip is trembling slightly. "You're serious?"

"Course I am," Steve brings their joined hands to his lips and kisses Bucky's knuckles. "I'm crazy for you, Buck."

Bucky wipes at his eyes with his remaining hand, but there's a grin on his face. "I can't believe you're making me cry in public."

"We can go somewhere quieter," Steve offers. "I got the rest of the day off. We can grab a cab if you don't wanna go on the subway."

"Already inviting me home, Rogers?" Bucky asks, but he's smiling as he stands and grabs his coat, pulling Steve out of his seat. He lets go of Steve's hand to shrug on the coat, and Steve takes the opportunity to wind an arm around Bucky's waist. Bucky looks over at him with a raised eyebrow, but the redness of his eyes and the grin on his face undermine the scold a bit. Steve huffs out a laugh and pulls Bucky as close as he can while still being able to walk, and presses a kiss to the side of Bucky's head.

"Cab or subway, Buck?"

"Cab," Bucky says, and leans into Steve's side as they leave the diner. "Don't really wanna be around other people right now. I'm a mess."

"I think you look incredible," Steve says honestly, and Bucky looks up at him with both fondness and exasperation.

"Steve. I haven't slept properly in a week, my hair is a greasy mess, and I've been crying," he points out.

"Like I said," Steve pecks Bucky's nose. "Incredible."

Bucky's expression softens, and he leans up to press a soft, chaste kiss to Steve's lips. "You'd better call that taxi."

It didn't take long for Steve to hail a taxi, and when they got into the backseat Bucky curled up beside him, his head on Steve's shoulder. Steve kisses the top of his head and tightens the grip he has around Bucky's waist.

"What do you wanna do when we get there?" Steve murmurs into Bucky's hair.

"Shower first," Bucky says sleepily. "You can wash my hair. Then... movies? We can cuddle on the sofa and kiss a bit."

"Just kissing?" Steve asks teasingly, and he can feel Bucky chuckle.

"Yes, you perv. Just kissing." He pauses, and when he speaks again his voice is much softer. "And... it'd prove to me that it's real, y'know? It's not just about the sex anymore."

"Buck, it was never really about the sex."

Bucky leans into him more. "I know."

 

------

 

True to his word, as soon as they got to Steve's apartment Bucky drags Steve into the bathroom, stripping down and turning on the shower. Steve undresses as quickly as possible and follows Bucky into the shower, pulling him back against his chest. Bucky relaxes against him, his hands coming up to rest on Steve's where they're wrapped around his waist, and leans his head back against Steve's shoulder.

"I missed you," Bucky mumbles, and Steve kisses his neck, slides his hand down to rest against Bucky's hip, turning him around to face him. Bucky rests his hands on Steve's cheeks and pulls him down to press their lips together, and Steve's grip involuntarily tightens on Bucky's waist.

"I missed you too," Steve breathes into Bucky's mouth, kissing him one last time before pulling away. "I thought you wanted me to wash your hair?"

Bucky chuckles and turns back around, and Steve starts to take Bucky's hair out of its braid. It's a bit harder than it would be if they were both dry, but after a little bit of struggling Steve manages to get the hair tie out and starts undoing the braid. Maybe he spends a bit of time just rubbing Bucky's scalp, but the other man doesn't seem to mind.

"Can you pass me the shampoo?" Steve murmurs, and Bucky fumbles around for the bottle, then pauses.

"You still have my shampoo?"

"I wasn't going to get rid of a half-full bottle," Steve mumbles, feeling almost embarrassed. "And I guess I still hoped you'd come back to me."

Bucky sniffles, and it takes a second for Steve to realise he's started crying. "Damnit, Rogers. You should know not to say those kinds of things when I'm already emotional." He hands Steve the shampoo bottle, still sniffing. Steve can't help but laugh softly, and he kisses the skin behind Bucky's ear as an apology.

It takes them a little longer than they expected to get out of the shower, get dry, and go into the living room. Bucky doesn't even bother sitting down, and instead pushes Steve down to lie lengthways across the couch, and crawls on top of him. Steve grabs the blanket that's hanging over the back of the couch and drapes it over Bucky's body.

"What do you wanna watch?" Steve asks, grabbing the remote and switching Netflix on.

"Nothing I'll get invested in," Bucky replies. "Something dumb."

Steve clicks on the first thing that comes up in the comedy section, and almost as soon as he hits play Bucky is taking the remote out of his hands, placing it on the coffee table, and kissing him within an inch of his life.

 

------

 

Steve wakes the next morning with a bird's nest of brown hair in his face and Bucky wrapped around him like a koala. Bucky's snoring lightly and also drooling on Steve's shirt, and Steve almost cries at how pretty he is even when he looks like an idiot.

Gently extricating himself from Bucky's strangle-hold, Steve goes to the bathroom to relieve himself, then makes his way into the kitchen, grabbing his phone on the way.

Riley picks up on the third ring. "What's wrong?"

"Why would you assume that something's wrong?" Steve asks, grabbing a mixing bowl and setting it on the bench. "I could be calling with great news."

"Because the likelihood of you getting in trouble is much higher than you having something good happen."

"I do have good news, though," Steve admits, grabbing flour and sugar from the cupboards and measuring them out into the bowl. "But I'll tell you later. How's it going with Sam?"

Riley sighs. "He came over when I was at work to get the rest of his stuff. I only noticed when I got home and everything of his was gone."

"Shit," Steve curses. "Riley, I'm so sorry."

"Was gonna happen sooner or later," Riley mumbles. "We've been fighting a lot recently." Then he laughs a little wetly, and Steve can imagine him wiping away his tears. "God, it sounds like we broke up or something."

"You wanna come over? I'm making pancakes," Steve offers, grabbing the milk from the fridge. "Might do you some good to get outta that apartment."

"I might take you up on that," Riley sighs. "Tell me that good news now - I need some serotonin."

Steve ducks his head, feeling a grin split his face. "Bucky called me yesterday asking to meet up."

"No shit? When are you doing it?" Riley asks, sounding impressed. Steve laughs a little nervously.

"Actually, we met up already. Yesterday."

"Jesus Rogers, don't keep me waiting, how'd it go?"

"Well, he's in my bed right now, so I'd say it went pretty well."

Riley gives a little squeal, making Steve laugh. "So you guys kissed and made up? You're all good?"

"Yeah. We're gonna give this dating thing a shot."

"Shit, Steve," Riley says emphatically. "I'm so fucking proud of you. You sure you still want me to come over?"

"Of course!" Steve has to put the phone on speaker and place it on the bench, starting to mix the batter. "Buck and I won't be able to get through all the pancakes ourselves. I made a bit too much batter."

"Alright. I'll be there in about half an hour. Gotta make myself look like a human."

As per usual, Riley doesn't bother with goodbyes and instead hangs up as soon as he knows Steve doesn't have anything else to say. Steve sighs fondly and continues mixing the batter, jumping slightly when warm arms encircle his middle.

"Why are you out of bed?" Bucky mumbles. It's a little muffled, since Bucky's buried his face in Steve's back. Steve puts the mixing bowl down and turns around in Bucky's arms, unable to help the probably besotted smile that takes over his face.

"I'm making you pancakes." Steve leans down and kisses Bucky's cheek, making the other man scowl. "I wanted to do something nice for you."

"You didn't have to do that," Bucky slurs, making Steve chuckle. He's still half-asleep, his eyes lidded and hair fluffy. "Put the batter in the fridge, baby. We can make it later." His hand trails down Steve's chest, feather-light, and Steve can't help but shiver.

"No we can't, you tease," he says, batting Bucky's hand away. "Riley's coming for breakfast. He'll be here in about twenty minutes."

Bucky immediately looks a lot more awake. "You want me to meet your best friend now? Look at me!"

"I think you look adorable," Steve replies, giving Bucky a quick peck on the lips. "And besides, Riley's having a tough time at the moment. He needs some company."

Bucky purses his lips. "Don't you guilt-trip me, Rogers. I'm going to change - you'd better have my coffee on by then."

"Yes, dear," Steve teases, and pulls Bucky in for another, less chaste kiss. Bucky hums happily and curls his fingers around Steve's biceps, looking a little dazed when Steve finally pulls away. "Grab a shirt for me when you're coming back."

"Sure," Bucky says a little faintly, turning towards the bedroom door. Steve grins to himself as he starts greasing up the pan.

Bucky comes out of the bedroom a couple of minutes later wearing his jeans from the day before and one of Steve's shirts. It's far too big for him, and Steve can't help the rush of possessiveness he gets from seeing Bucky in his clothes.

"Here's your shirt," Bucky says, tossing a lump of fabric at Steve's face. Steve yelps and only barely manages to catch it, making Bucky cackle as he starts pouring his coffee. "You want some?"

"God, you're a jerk," Steve grumbles, pulling on the shirt. "Sure."

Bucky sets a cup next to the stove and jumps onto the bench next to Steve, kicking his legs absently as he sips the coffee. Steve tries very hard to concentrate on not burning the pancakes instead of watching the way Bucky's hair curls around his ear.

"Want me to help with anything?" Bucky asks, and Steve turns to look at him. Bucky's looking at him with soft fondness, his shirt slipping off one of his shoulders and his eyes still droopy from sleep. The piercing in his eyebrow catches the light, and his hair's falling out of its bun and shining with gold highlights.

"You can kiss me," Steve blurts out, and Bucky raises an amused eyebrow.

"I think you should concentrate on not burning those," he replies, leaning in to kiss Steve's cheek. "I'll set the table."

Steve turns back to the pan and swears, quickly flipping the now-burned pancake onto a plate. He can hear Bucky giggle from behind him.

Riley arrives about ten minutes later, wearing dirty sweatpants and a sweater that Steve's pretty sure used to belong to Sam, and his hair's sticking up everywhere and his eyes are bloodshot. But he's smiling and as soon as Steve opens the door for him he's yanking Steve down into a hug.

"I am so. Fucking. Proud," Riley announces, holding Steve tight enough that he's having trouble breathing.

"Okay, Mom, let go," Steve groans. "There are pancakes on the table, and Buck's getting the coffee ready."

Almost as if on cue, Bucky comes out of the kitchen carrying three mugs of steaming coffee towards the table. Riley manages to hold back until Bucky's put down the mugs before he squeals and crushes Bucky in a hug. Steve holds back a laugh at the look on Bucky's face.

"God bless you, man," Riley's saying, holding Bucky at arm's length with a giant grin on his face. Bucky looks confused and a little dazed, but Steve can't blame him - Riley is 200+ pounds of pure Southern charm and Steve hasn't forgotten what it's like being on the receiving end of that charm for the first time.

"Buck, this is Riley," Steve manages to say without bursting into giggles.

"Hi," Bucky manages to say. "Do you want some pancakes?"

"I would love some pancakes," Riley says emphatically. Bucky blinks a couple of times, then gives a jerky nod and turns back to the table. As soon as his back is turned, Riley leans towards Steve to stage-whisper, "He's so cute!" From the way Bucky's ears turn bright red, Steve guesses he heard.

After getting over his initial confusion slash terror, Bucky seems to get along with Riley like a house on fire. Steve watches with mild bemusement, happy his boyfriend (holy shit he has a boyfriend) and one of his best friends get along so well, and by the time Riley's leaving for work he and Bucky have already made plans to get coffee sometime. On his way out, Riley hugs Steve and squeezes Bucky's cheek before turning to leave, and Steve doesn't mention the way his friend's shoulders tense up as soon as he steps into the hallway.

"I like him," Bucky declares as soon as the door's closed. "I almost forgive you for making me meet a new person when my hair's a mess."

"Your hair looks amazing," Steve replies, pressing his face into it to prove his point.

"You'd say that even if it looked like a bird's nest," Bucky points out. Steve hums in agreement.

"You got work today?" he asks, his arms sneaking around Bucky's waist. Bucky gives him an unimpressed look but allows himself to be reeled in.

"Not until later," Bucky hums. "I've swapped shifts with Darcy - I don't need to be in until one."

"What do you wanna do until then?" Steve murmurs, tucking a strand of Bucky's hair out of the way so he can nip the top of Bucky's ear.

"You keep your hands above the belt, you can do whatever you want," Bucky whispers breathlessly. Steve grins and hoists Bucky into his arms, carrying him over to the couch as Bucky lets out a joyful laugh.

 

------

 

The next month or so goes by in sheer bliss. He and Bucky unanimously agree to not have sex again right away, so they spend their time together either out in the city, eating in hole-in-the-wall coffee shops and restaurants, or curled up on one of their couches, kissing lazily as a movie plays. Steve almost floats into work every day, and Natasha gleefully takes advantage of this to make as much fun of him as possible. Bucky even convinces him to go out for drinks with him and Sharon, which starts with Steve shifting nervously in his seat with Sharon glaring balefully at him out of the corner of his eye and ends with the two of them shitfaced and crying on each other as Bucky cackles and takes pictures to use as blackmail later.

Saturday nights become movie nights at Riley's place, with Steve, Bucky and Riley piling onto the couch and watching whatever they're in the mood for that week. Steve didn't bother to lie to himself - he's worried about Riley. Sam hasn't been back to the apartment since he took his stuff, and he won't talk to Steve about it when he asks. And going by Riley's morose appearance every time they see each other, Steve bets that Sam hasn't been in contact with him either.

This Saturday night, they're watching The Mummy, which Bucky swears up and down is the best 90s movie ever made. Steve isn't so sure; he's not good with gore. Just as the mummy has killed the American travellers in their hotel (and Steve hides his face in Bucky's neck because he's not so proud as to give himself nightmares) there's a knock on the door that almost makes Steve jump out of his skin.

"You expecting anyone?" Bucky asks curiously, pausing the movie.

"I don't think so," Riley frowns, moving the popcorn bowl from his lap onto the coffee table so he can get up. "Might just be the guy from across the hall. He might have locked himself out again."

"I'll get it," Steve assures him, untangling himself from a sleepy Bucky to move towards the door. As soon as he opens it, Steve realises that it is certainly not the guy from across the hall.

"Steve?" Sam looks just as surprised to see him as Steve is. "What are you doing here?"

"In case you've forgotten, Riley's my friend," Steve points out, his voice much colder than he'd anticipated. "I love you, Sam, but if you're here to hurt him more I'm not letting you in."

"Jesus, I never wanted to hurt him," Sam sighs, his voice resigned. Steve looks him over; Sam's clothes are rumpled, his beard's gone from stylishly cut to shaggy, and there are dark circles under his eyes.

"You look like shit," Steve says, a little more gently. "You okay?"

"Definitely not," Sam chuckles wryly.

"Why are you here, Sam?" Steve asks quietly.

Sam bites his lip, his gaze darting to the side. "I... I wanna see Riley. I wanna talk to him."

"About what?"

Sam sighs again and sets his jaw, looking up at Steve pleadingly. "Can I come in?"

"That's not up to me." Steve steps away from the door. "Stay here."

When he gets back within eyesight of the couch, Bucky and Riley are watching him curiously.

"Who was it?" Riley asks curiously, and Steve winces.

"It's Sam."

Riley stiffens at that, and Bucky straightens up a bit. Bucky hadn't met Sam yet, but he doesn't exactly have a good impression of him.

"Why's he here?"

"Says he wants to talk to you," Steve replies, then pauses. "I can send him away."

Riley shifts, then sighs. "Don't bother. I need to get this out of the way."

"You want us to leave?" Bucky asks softly.

"That'd probably be best." Riley smiles tremulously. "Sorry for ruining movie night."

"We'll pick up where we left off next week." Bucky kisses Riley's cheek and stands up, holding his hand out for Steve. "I'm tired anyway."

"I know," Steve chuckles, taking Bucky's hand and pulling him towards the door. "You were falling asleep on me."

"You have no proof," Bucky says haughtily.

Sam's standing right where Steve left him, and Bucky immediately straightens up to glare at him as they walk past. Sam just looks at him in bewilderment, and Steve has to remind himself that Sam doesn't know who Bucky is.

"He's on the couch," Steve says instead, and Sam's face breaks into relief. "Please don't hurt him any more. You're still his best friend."

Without waiting for an answer, Steve tightens his grip on Bucky's hand and leads him towards the elevator before Bucky can say anything. Behind them, he hears the apartment door click shut.

"You should've let me talk to him," Bucky grumbles.

"You can threaten him some other time," Steve says pacifyingly, reeling Bucky closer to kiss his temple. "Wanna come home with me?"

"Course I do. Your bed's comfy and I like waking up to your dick pressed against my ass," Bucky grins, and Steve feels his face go bright red.

"You're a complete menace," he huffs, trying to stop his blush. Bucky obviously sees anyway, because he's grinning like a maniac.

"Maybe. Let's go."

The next morning, Steve wakes up to a text from Sam.

Sam: Thank you.

 

------

 

It takes another few weeks before Bucky sits him down at Steve's kitchen table after dinner.

"I'm scared to have sex," Bucky blurts out before Steve can even open his mouth. Steve blinks a couple of times; of all the things he was expecting, it certainly wasn't that.

"I thought you liked sex," he finds himself saying.

"I do," Bucky sighs, raking a hand through his hair. "I fucking love sex. And I love sex with you."

"I don't understand," Steve admits. "Why are you scared to have sex?"

Bucky bites his lip, looking up at Steve through his eyelashes. "Can you... can you hold me? As I tell you?"

Steve's already reaching out to pull Bucky into his lap, ignoring the creak of the chair that certainly isn't mean to hold two fully-grown men. Bucky burrows into Steve's chest, letting out a relieved breath. He's tense, so Steve slides a hand up the back of his shirt and rubs circles on his back.

"I'm scared to have sex, because the last time we had sex I thought you didn't love me," Bucky finally whispers. "And I'm scared that... that as soon as we have sex, this... this little bubble of happiness we're in, it'll shatter, and it'll turn out that you don't love me."

"Baby, that's crazy," Steve murmurs, kissing the shell of Bucky's ear. "There's nothing that could make me stop loving you. You know that."

"I do," Bucky agreed, tilting his head up to look Steve in the eye. "But I'm still scared."

"We don't need to have sex at all if that's what makes you happy," Steve says, and Bucky looks at him dubiously. "I'm serious, Buck. If I had the choice between being with you and no sex, and not being with you and lots of sex, I'd choose you every time."

"But it's not that I don't want to have sex," Bucky sighs. "I'm just scared."

"I won't pressure you into anything," Steve hums. "Tell me when you're ready, if you're ever ready, and I'll be right there with you."

Bucky takes a deep breath, then slides off Steve's lap and holds out his hand. Steve looks at it for a couple of seconds, before Bucky rolls his eyes and says, "Take my hand, dumbass."

Steve gingerly reaches up to curl his fingers between Bucky's and gets hauled out of his seat and led gently out of the room. Steve only realises what's happening as they're walking into his bedroom, the door closing softly behind them. "Buck. You're sure?"

Bucky turns around, his eyes wide and vulnerable. "I'm sure."

Steve closes the gap between them slowly, tilting Bucky's face up to kiss him softly, slowly. Bucky melts into him, his arms coming up to wrap around Steve's neck, and he moans as Steve slips his tongue into Bucky's mouth. It's been ages since they'd done this, and Steve could already feel the beginnings of arousal deep in his gut as Bucky's body melded against his.

"I love you," Steve murmurs, and Bucky sighs happily into the kiss. Bucky starts to walk backwards, Steve following as if he's a dog on a leash, and he allows Bucky to pull him down onto the bed. Bucky's body is a line of heat on Steve's front, his legs spread to allow Steve to nestle between them, and Steve is almost swept away by the love he feels for this man.

"Get your shirt off," Bucky mumbles, and Steve laughs as he yanks his shirt up over his head. Bucky's grinning, and he's still grinning as Steve takes off the rest of their clothes and turns him over, and he laughs as Steve presses a kiss to his tailbone. His breathless laughs and giggles quickly turn into panted breaths and moans as Steve slicks his fingers up and slides them into Bucky's body, leaving kisses all over his thighs and ass. And as Steve slides the condom on and slips into Bucky's body, Bucky's moans turn to sobs and he holds Steve's hands in his like they're the only things grounding him to the Earth.

"Turn around, baby," Steve whispers. He helps Bucky turn onto his back, and almost cries himself at the pretty picture Bucky makes, spread out on his bed, his hair on Steve's pillows, his eyes red and cheeks stained with tears and lips bitten red and swollen.

"God, I love you," Bucky chokes out, and Steve leans down to kiss him as he slides back into Bucky's body. It barely takes any time for Steve to tighten his grip on Bucky and slide over the edge with a sob, Bucky's lips on his forehead. As soon as he's come down, Steve grips Bucky's cock and strokes him until Bucky's shuddering in his arms, coming in thick stripes across their bellies.

"You should know by now I'd never leave you, Bucky Barnes," Steve whispers, and Bucky captures his lips in an exhausted kiss. They don't manage to clean up before they're drifting off, something Steve regrets deeply in the morning when he wakes to dried come and lube all over his stomach and dick. But he really can't complain, not when Bucky's looking at him like that.