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Dumb Questions

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Steve’s phone buzzed while he was stretching his calves, leaning against a tree. He switched sides, held the stretch until the pull stopped, then fished his phone out of his pocket. 

Bucky: hey be a doll pick me up 1/2 gal whole milk on yr way home

Steve smiled to himself, and texted back, u got it bb. 

His phone buzzed again as he pushed through the bodega door, and he pulled it out. 

Bucky: u are a menace don’t call me that

Steve texted back, innocently, it’s yr name, and slipped his phone back into his pocket. Half a gallon of milk— well, he got a gallon, because they’d been going through the stuff. And he bought himself a candy bar, and one for Bucky, while he was at it. And a Gatorade, for the walk back. 

“How’s things?” the counter guy asked. On the occasions Bucky came this far, he always spoke to the man in whatever his native language was, which Steve didn’t know. 

“Pretty good,” Steve said, opening the Gatorade. “Weather’s holdin’ up nice, don’t you think?”

“Ah, yeah, we’re lucky,” the counter guy said. “How’s your family?”

Steve laughed at that; they were, weren’t they. “You know, they’re pretty well,” he said. “Bucky’s babysitting for a couple of the PR girls today even though there’s a perfectly good daycare on the fourth floor, so I look forward to the disaster that our apartment will be when I get back.”

“He good with kids?” the counter guy asked, eyebrows going up.

“Oh yeah,” Steve said, pocketing his change. “Anyway, see you later!”

“Have a good one,” the counter guy said, grinning, and Steve gave him a jaunty wave. 

Steve swigged from the Gatorade, enjoying the warm looseness of post-workout endorphins. He was about half-expecting the ambush when he came into the common floor lounge; Jimmy leapt at him from the back of a chair. Steve caught him in the crook of an elbow, and braced himself as Dorothea’s daughter Magdalena flung her arms around the back of his knee, both children screaming like, perhaps, dinosaurs. 

“Hey,” Bucky said, stepping backwards out of the kitchen to shoot them disapproving looks, “watch it, don’t make him drop the milk or I won’t be able to finish the mac and cheese.”

“Oh no!” Jimmy shouted, and let go, sliding down Steve’s torso. “Ew, you’re sweaty and gross.”

“Yes,” Steve said, “I am,” and grabbed at his waistband as Magdalena nearly pulled his pants down. “Hey there, kid.”

Magdalena let go and tore off, screaming, with Jimmy in pursuit. Bucky gave Steve a crooked smile. He had Dorothea’s baby Sidney tucked into the crook of his metal arm, the infant fast asleep with her head on Bucky’s metal shoulder. He was wearing a black tank top and slim-fit dark-wash jeans and no shoes, and Steve gave him an admiring once-over as he put the milk away. 

“What,” Bucky said warily, catching his look. 

“Nothin’,” Steve said. He put the milk away. “I got a gallon, I figured we’ll go through it.” He pulled out the candy bar. “And sweets for the sweet.”

Bucky laughed, and kissed him, which was what he’d been hoping for, and let him put his arm around his waist and kiss him a little more thoroughly. But when Steve groped his ass, Bucky pulled away. 

“Hey now,” he said. “None of that.” 

“I can’t help it,” Steve said. “Those jeans.” It wasn’t that Bucky’s ass was so spectacular in those jeans (it was, but Sam had kind of cornered the market on truly spectacular asses in this relationship), but his thighs— long, lean, but sturdy, and Steve just wanted to bite his way up from the insides of Bucky’s knees. 

“Later,” Bucky said, “maybe, we can discuss that, but I got a cream sauce to make.” He already had the onions softening in the butter. It smelled delicious, and what was more, the oven was obviously already on and something was in there, something that smelled of some kind of meat, roasting. He was making a big dinner. 

“You want me to take the baby while you do that?” Steve asked. 

Bucky gave him a look, and Steve’s gut twisted with sudden awkward worry that Bucky might think he was making a crack about one-handedness. “Not before you clean up,” Bucky said instead. “I can smell you from here.”

“You know you love it,” Steve said, reassured.

“Psshh,” Bucky said. “I ain’t a savage. I like how your sweatshirts smell when you wear them on your clean body, not how your gross old socks smell when you’ve just worn out another pair of sneaks runnin’ through New York street garbage.”

Steve crowded close behind him, sliding a hand around his waist. “You find me irresistible,” he said, and was playing dirty enough to breathe just so across the back of Bucky’s neck, which predictably made him shiver. 

“I got a mind to hit you with this spoon,” Bucky said. “Steven Grant Rogers, you ain’t a gentleman. Mags, if a man ever treats you like this don’t you stand for it.”

“Mah mah mah!” Magdalena shouted from the doorway. She was talking plenty, at two, but almost none of it was words, or anything anyone but her mother could understand. 

“See,” Bucky said. He usually just pretended to understand her, which frustrated her a little less than Steve’s polite requests for her to repeat herself. She had started doing entertaining mime routines, though. A very emphatic child. “Mags thinks you’re being icky too.”

“Ew ew ew kissing,” Jimmy sang, prancing in one door of the kitchen and out the other. “Ew ew ew ew!”

“Tell Steve he’s stinky,” Bucky said, stirring the flour until it made a good paste with the butter and onions. Steve rested his chin on Bucky’s shoulder until Bucky said, “Buddy, I’m not even kiddin’. Grab me the milk and then get outta here.”

“Fine, fine,” Steve said. “The romance is gone.” He went and collected the milk from the fridge and set it down, watching as Bucky stretched to reach down the measuring cup from the cabinet. It tugged his shirt up and showed a little strip of the taut skin of his belly, and Steve bit his lip.

“What has gotten into you,” Bucky said, noticing the direction of his gaze. 

“Those jeans,” Steve said. They were new, or at least he hadn’t seen them before.

Bucky shook his head. “Natasha,” he said. “She swore they weren’t too tight.”

“She was not wrong,” Steve said. “Those are perfect.”

“But I ain’t gettin’ any work done in ‘em,” Bucky said. “Not with you around.”

“There’s a lot of work I want to do to you in ‘em,” Steve confessed. Bucky brandished the spoon, and Steve held up his hands. “All right, all right. I’ll go shower.”

He shaved, too, because sometimes Bucky liked it when someone’s stubble scraped up his thighs but Steve didn’t like seeing the reddened skin. Bucky liked it a lot rougher than Steve usually liked inflicting it. So it was just as well both of the others were a lot less sweet and tender than Steve was. It was kind of nice not to worry about not satisfying some need or other. 

He rubbed one out in the shower, planning out just what he was going to do if Bucky let him. It would involve a lot of kissing, a lot of sucking, a lot of teasing with lips and teeth. He did it quick, just to burn off excess energy; he had a feeling he’d have plenty of time to recover. Dorothea and Lakeisha wouldn’t be retrieving their kids for a couple of hours, yet, and Bucky hadn’t been making just one batch of mac and cheese. People must be coming by, or he’d’ve been making something a lot simpler in Steve’s apartment kitchenette, not the big industrial kitchen on the common floor.

Steve dressed in one of the outfits Natasha had pushed on him. She was out of town, so she wouldn’t catch him at it. He even styled his hair, a little. Just a little. Nothing fancy. But maybe enough to make Bucky look.

He got back and this time moved stealthily enough to surprise Jimmy, who was standing with his back to the doorway watching the distant TV, spaced out. Steve grabbed him, picked him up, and Jimmy shrieked with delight, punching and kicking and writhing with glee.  

“I got you,” Steve growled, rolling Jimmy’s flailing form up over his shoulder and around behind his head. Bucky appeared in the kitchen door, alarmed, and Steve repented immediately. “I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said. 

“I’m fine,” Bucky said, pale, and vanished back into the kitchen. Steve tickled Jimmy a little more, but his heart had gone out of it, and he shooed Jimmy off toward the TV and came and found Bucky in a moment. 

“I’m fine,” Bucky said again. He’d put Sidney down in the carrier, fast asleep, and was standing with his back to the room, in front of the sink, hands on his hips. 

“I’m sorry for it anyway,” Steve said, coming up behind him, close but not touching. 

Bucky shrugged. “Kids make noise,” he said, and turned to face Steve, backing up a little, tugging at Steve’s belt loop so Steve had him cornered against the counter. “Hmm. You smell better.” He tipped his face up, and Steve put his hands on Bucky’s hips to pull himself in and kiss him.

“Mm,” Steve said, exploring with his tongue; Bucky had definitely eaten the candy bar, from the taste in his mouth. 

“You are so goddamn sappy today,” Bucky murmured, but didn’t pull away, and kissed him again. 

“Worse things I could be,” Steve said. 

For some reason that made Bucky reach up and wrap his hand around the back of Steve’s neck, and kiss him really hungrily, merciless and seeking. Steve made an undignified little moan and braced himself against the counter, suddenly very glad he’d taken the extra time in the shower. 

“A lot worse,” Bucky agreed, and finally let go of him. Steve caught the edge of his jaw before he could pull away and examined his face for a moment, rubbing his thumb along the jut of his cheekbone. 

Bucky submitted to the inspection, quirking a smile at him, and brought his hand up to trace the edge of Steve’s jaw. “You think you’re gettin’ some later,” he observed, smoothing his fingers along Steve’s freshly-shaved skin. 

“I live in eternal hope,” Steve said. 

“Sam’s out of town until Saturday,” Bucky went on. “And Natasha won’t be back until tomorrow at the earliest. So you must think I’m a sure thing.”

“I believe in preparedness,” Steve said, and let go, satisfied with his examination. He just needed to check in sometimes, to see if there was anything haunting Bucky. Those days, weeks even, when Zola had been running undetectably wild in Bucky’s skull still gave Steve nightmares. Probably Bucky too, but Steve didn’t ask, just held him through it when Bucky let him. 

“Good,” Bucky said. “Cuz I am a sure thing.” He twisted his hips rather excitingly to escape Steve’s hold, and bent to check in the oven, giving Steve a probably-purposeful excellent view of his backside as he did so. “First, though, there’s people coming over.” 

“Who?” Steve asked. 

“Lakeisha’s family— her mom, and her brother— and Dorothea’s husband, and Clint might stop by if he’s around, I texted him.” Bucky shrugged. 

“That sounds nice,” Steve said. “You got a roast in?”

“Yeah,” Bucky said, “just a plain old roast, I was gonna do some fancy thing but I figured it was better not to experiment, with the kids runnin’ wild around here.”

Steve moved up behind Bucky to push his face down into the crook of his neck, pulling him back by his hips and sliding a hand up under his shirt, across his belly. “Never figured you’d be such a good wife,” Steve said.

“Pshh,” Bucky said, and held up his metal left hand, “there’s no ring on here.”

Steve caught his hand and pulled it close, bestowing a lingering kiss between the third and fourth metal knuckles. Bucky habitually wore a fingerless glove on that hand for grip, but he had it off at the moment, probably for dishwashing purposes, so it was bare, unusually so. Steve put his tongue out just a little to taste the metal, tonguing lightly at the crease between the fingers. Bucky shivered; Steve didn’t understand how the nerves worked on that side but he knew there was a lot of feedback, carefully engineered. 

“If you want one, baby,” Steve murmured, “I can get you one.” 

Bucky was taut in his arms, but didn’t pull away, and made an oddly bitter laugh. “I don’t even know how that would work,” he said, turning his face away but leaning into Steve’s grip. “But you can keep talkin’, it’s awful sweet.” 

“Gold would be too soft,” Steve agreed, figuring that was probably what Bucky meant. “And you punch too many people for it to make any kind of sense. But maybe titanium or something. Adamantium?”

Bucky laughed, but again it was bitter, not happy. “Not what I meant, but you make a good point,” he said, and freed his hand, sliding it against Steve’s aftershave-smooth cheek to pull him in and kiss him briefly before moving away to the fridge. “You and I, we can’t exactly have nice things.” He retrieved a baby bottle, of all things, and plunked it into a small saucepan full of water sitting on the edge of the stove. 

“Well,” Steve said, leaning his hip on the counter, out of the way but close enough to be delegated a task if there was one going spare, “what did you mean, then?”

Bucky gave him a wry look, one eyebrow higher than the other, mouth equally crooked. “Don’t worry ‘bout it,” he said. 

Magdalena came in then, babbling urgently about something and holding her arms up, clearly wanting Bucky to pick her up. “Hey,” Steve said, “can I get a minute with you instead?”

Magdalena gave him a doubtful look, but when he put his hands around her waist she smiled at him and he picked her up, settling her on his hip. “Guggy,” she said, pointing at Bucky. 

“I got a lotta names,” Bucky said, “but that’s a good one.” He was testing the temperature in the saucepan with his right index finger, not looking, and the slant of his mouth was sad. “Johnny used to call me that.”

“Johnny,” Steve said. “Johnny Murphy?” Bucky’s mother’s brother Jack’s son; Steve’s brain mapped out the family tree with practiced ease. They’d babysat for Johnny a couple of times; he’d been an enthusiastic hero-worshipping little kid who’d thought his cousin Bucky had hung the moon.

“Yeah-ahh, they was all Murphys,” Bucky sighed, wiping his finger on his pants and throwing Steve a brief look that was so loaded down with pain Steve had to put a hand out and pull him in close. So many Murphys, a tribe of them, and almost all gone now. Everyone they’d known had been replaced by awestruck descendants, a collage of resemblances but no flash of recognition.

“Hey,” Steve said. Magdalena laughed, pleased to be sandwiched between them. Bucky put his forehead against Steve’s shoulder for just a moment. 

“Johnny’s got great-grandkids,” Bucky said, muffled and subdued. 

“Yeah,” Steve said, because what was there to say to that?

“Guggy,” Magdalena said, patting his hair with one hand. “Yi yuboo Guggy.”

Bucky pulled back a little to give her a genuinely-moved smile. “I love you too, Mags,” he said, and kissed her cheek. She squealed in delight. 

“Makin’ me jealous,” Steve said. Bucky was stunningly beautiful when he smiled like that, the real kind that crinkled his eyes and brightened his face. 

Bucky looked up at him, and his eyes went a little dark. “I dunno, Mags,” he said, not taking his eyes off Steve, “do we love Steve?”

Magdalena whipped her head dramatically around, fixing Steve with a wide-eyed look. “Eeeb,” she shrieked, and smacked her hands against Steve’s cheeks. “Ya yubba Eeeb!” And she bestowed a wet smacking kiss on his chin. 

“All right then,” Steve said, laughing, “I guess I can’t be that jealous then,” and gave Bucky a look. “How about that?”

“No shortage of people who love Steve,” Bucky said, moving back over to the stove and testing the water in the saucepan again. He shut the burner off and moved the pan to a hot dish mat, wiping his hand on his pants again and moving back to the fridge. “As it should be,” he added, and the curve of his mouth was happier, less bitter. “Not just for the Cap shit but for the rest of it.”

“Ah ah,” Steve scolded, “mouth,” and Bucky gave him a wickedly curving grin.

“You love my filthy mouth,” he said, looking up under his lashes, tongue pausing between his teeth invitingly. 

“That’s not all I love,” Steve said. 

Bucky laughed, and gave him a lingering once-over. “You are such a sap today,” he said. “You gonna be like that in front of all the nice visitors?”

“If you want,” Steve said. He was usually pretty reserved in front of people, but these were people Bucky liked, even if Steve didn’t really know them— he’d barely met Lakeisha’s brother, and didn’t really know her mother, and he didn’t know Dorothea’s husband at all. But Bucky did. 

“Naw,” Bucky said, “you’d just embarrass me, ya big goober.” But he shot Steve a shy smirk that made something click into certainty in Steve’s gut. 

 

~~

 

“Aw you didn’t gotta do the dishes,” Bucky said, coming up behind Steve and wrapping his arms around him. “I was gonna get ‘em. Shucks, am I just in time not to help?”

“You are just in time not to help,” Steve said, grinning over his shoulder. Bucky slid his metal hand up under Steve’s shirt and made him twitch at how cold it was. “Jerk.”

“Good to know I ain’t lost my edge,” Bucky said, and slid his other hand down a bit to toy with Steve’s jeans waistband. “Nat picked these jeans out for you, I can tell.”

“Shirt too,” Steve said. He pulled the plug and rinsed his hands, and turned around. “Hey there. Everybody gone?”

“Yeah,” Bucky said, and Steve slid his wet hands up Bucky’s back and made him squirm. “Ew. Cut it out, ya jerk.”

“Make me,” Steve said. 

“I could make ya sorry,” Bucky offered. 

“We should take this upstairs,” Steve said. “Cuz I got a lotta things I wanna do and I don’t want Stark to have the security footage of any of ‘em.”

“Like he doesn’t have the bedroom monitored? He totally watches us every time we fuck,” Bucky said, and leaned up to kiss Steve. “I don’t mind.” He pulled back slightly, eyes sliding unerringly to what Steve knew was the camera in the corner of the kitchen. “I like an audience. He totally jerks it watchin’ us and he’s welcome to it. He might even have a camera in the cyborg arm, maybe he watches that when I use it on you.”

“Well,” Steve said, a little hoarse thinking about the metal arm, “I’d rather do this someplace comfortable.”

“You got big plans?” Bucky murmured, sliding a hand around under Steve’s waistband, flesh and blood fingers working down under the fabric. 

“Yes,” Steve said, and pulled back a little, bending to grab Bucky in a fireman’s carry. 

“Oh no you don’t,” Bucky said, but he didn’t struggle; Steve knew he could easily use his weight to flip them both, but he didn’t. Steve weighed less than he did, even with the lighter arm. 

“Oh, apparently, yes I do,” Steve said. “Or you’d be fightin’ a lot harder.”

“I was never all that good at playin’ hard to get,” Bucky said reflectively, upside-down over Steve’s shoulder. “What, are you takin’ the elevator? Seriously? You can’t even cave-man my half-metal carcass up the stairs?”

Steve laughed. “If you insist, Buck,” he said, and doubled back to the stairwell. Bucky whistled cheerfully and spanked Steve’s ass playfully with both hands, the metal one gently but the flesh one hard enough to sting. “Hey there. I get hit enough in my line of work, you gonna beat me up too?”

Bucky sighed exaggeratedly, and wriggled in Steve’s grasp. “Your ass still doesn’t get spanked enough,” he said, and pinched him right at the crease of cheek and thigh. 

Steve was glad the apartment door only locked with a thumbprint, because it was easy enough to get it open; he was distracted enough that he definitely would have fumbled keys. He carried Bucky straight into his bedroom and threw him dramatically down onto the bed.

Bucky sprawled out on his back, shirt hiked up haphazardly and legs spread. “Right where I belong,” he said, licking his teeth lasciviously.

Steve stood next to the bed, looking down at him, but something about the words tugged at the underside of his breastbone. “You belong everywhere I am,” Steve said. 

“So serious,” Bucky chided, writhing excitingly to pull his shirt up. 

“I mean it,” Steve said, and lay down on him, stopping him from undressing. He kissed him slow and gentle, teasing his way deeper.

“We gonna talk about feelings or do somethin’ about it?” Bucky asked.

“You know I ain’t much of a talker,” Steve said, “but Buck, I was serious about the ring. You know that’s legal now.” 

“You big lug,” Bucky said, flicking his ear with a finger— hard, too— “you don’t gotta sweet talk me, I’m already in your fuckin’ bed with my legs open. You want a written invitation or somethin’?”

“I’m not sweet talkin’,” Steve said, rubbing his sore ear with a little annoyance. 

“I don’t need shit like that,” Bucky said. “Save the sentimental shit for your boyfriend. You don’t gotta be sappy with me.”

“My boyfriend,” Steve said, a little taken aback.

“Sam,” Bucky said. “You want a white wedding, you put a ring on his finger. I’m no blushin’ bride.” He shook his head, his beautiful mouth curling. 

“He’s not more my boyfriend than you are,” Steve said. 

Bucky hooked his hand around the back of Steve’s neck and pulled him down to kiss him, hot and dirty, grinding his hips up against Steve’s. “It don’t matter to me none,” Bucky said, “I don’t need you to prove nothin’ to me. That’s Sam’s job, for you to do all the romantic shit to, and to be seen with, and all that. I’m just here to watch your back and have amazing sex with you. It suits me fine.”

“You’re more than that to me,” Steve said, indignant now. 

“Steve,” Bucky said, and pulled him down again. “Shut up.”

“No,” Steve said, “I mean it, Buck—“

Bucky flipped him, a lot more forceful than Steve had expected him to be, and settled astride his waist, pinning his arms over his head. “I said,” Bucky said, “shut up. I’m fuckin’ happy, Steve, don’t fuck with it.”

Steve stared up at him, well aware he was doing a shocked and betrayed innocent look. It had proven irresistible to Bucky on several occasions, but the trick was to not overdo it, because Bucky knew most of Steve’s tells and was merciless if he could detect melodrama. But Steve was utterly sincere on this, and knew that would come through. 

“I don’t want you to ever doubt me,” Steve said. “And I don’t want anyone else to have cause to think that way. I don’t want anyone to think you’re my dirty secret or something. I love you, Buck, and I’m proud of you, and I want people to know that. Sam doesn’t need that. Sam doesn’t take care of me like you do. Sam’s his own person and he’s beautiful and I love him but nobody would ever doubt that, least of all him.”

“But I’m a fuckin’ mess,” Bucky said, and his expression had gone stony, cold, “and I need the fuckin’ charity. I got my own fuckin’ PR department, and you still figure you gotta put a sign on me? Why not a collar instead, and it can have tags with your name on ‘em so people know who’s got my leash?”

It felt kind of like Bucky had rammed the metal hand through his ribs. Steve stared up at him, knowing he was gaping in shock. “Bucky,” he said, trying to take a breath. 

“Maybe a t-shirt,” Bucky said, “Property Of Steve Rogers. Or maybe, If Found, Return To. Tattoo it on my forehead. Yeah?” 

“No,” Steve said, heartbroken. “No, Bucky. Not— not like— not like that at all. I didn’t mean—“ 

“If you’re worryin’ about what people think—” Bucky sneered.

“I don’t care what people think,” Steve interrupted him, hurt, “I care what you think, and if you think I only fuck you so I can keep tabs on you—“

Bucky’s expression shifted, going completely blank. “Steve,” he said. 

Steve pulled his arms free, but the right one wouldn’t come loose; Bucky had the metal hand locked around it, not quite tight enough to bruise but tight enough to mark. Steve pried at it with his free hand. “Let go,” he said, “I’m not—“

Bucky was looking down and away, but didn’t let go, and not even Steve’s augmented fingers could get any leverage against the metal hand. “Steve,” he said, “I don’t, I’m sorry. I don’t got any call to take that kinda thing out on you.”

“You gotta tell me,” Steve said, voice ragged. “You gotta tell me if somethin’s hurtin’ you like that. Please, Buck, you gotta. I don’t want to make you feel like that. You’re everything to me, you gotta know that.”

“I can’t be everything to you,” Bucky said raggedly, almost pleading. “That’s the whole thing. You know that. I can’t take that kind of pressure. I don’t want us to be anybody’s business but Sam’s and maybe Natasha’s. I don’t want to be your everything. I don’t want people to know what I am to you. I just wanna take care of you and watch your back like I always done.”

Steve looked up at him for a long moment. “I just don’t want you to think I’m ashamed of you,” Steve said finally, calmly, levelly. “When I say I want people to know how I love you, I really mean, I want you to know it. I don’t want you to ever think I don’t want you as you are. Because I do.”

Bucky was looking down and away again. “Sometimes,” he said, with a laugh that was somewhere between bitter and fond, “sometimes you’re so good it hurts me, Steve.”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Steve said, shoving himself up and catching Bucky around the back of the neck with his free hand, holding him still to kiss him. “I don’t want to ever hurt you. I want to take care of you like you take care of me.”

Bucky kissed him gently, then sat with their foreheads pressed together for a long moment. Finally he sat back a little and laughed much more brightly. “Then learn to cook, jerk.”

“I can cook,” Steve said. “But, well. Not as good as I can suck cock.”

Bucky gave him a glazed look. “Okay, yeah, you are really good at that.”

“Get off me and I’ll prove it,” Steve said. 

Bucky’s metal hand unclamped itself, and Steve rolled them both back over, working Bucky’s mouth open and sliding his tongue in, hooking behind Bucky’s teeth, grinding down against him until Bucky had to pull away to drag in a shaky, deep breath. “Jesus,” he gasped. 

“I’m gonna suck you so good the only word you remember is my name,” Steve said, pulling back with a grin to mouth teasingly at Bucky’s neck. 

“Big talk,” Bucky said unevenly, shivering as Steve sucked at his collarbone. Steve worked at him with tongue and teeth, working his way across and down. When he nipped lightly at Bucky’s nipple, Bucky gave a little moan and arched up against him. “Ah, Steve,” he gasped, as Steve kept working at his chest. “God! You tease. All those times you were checkin’ out my ass today and you just wanna bite me?”

Steve raised his head to look at him, gave him a cheerful grin, and moved down to unfasten his jeans. “Naw,” he said, “but I’m in no hurry.”

Bucky wasn’t wearing any underwear, and Steve groaned in appreciation, peeling the tight jeans off him. “I mighta been plannin’ to do this,” Bucky said, biting his lip innocently. 

“Thought I was a sure thing, huh?” Steve asked, still working the jeans down off Bucky’s calves. 

“Yeah,” Bucky said. “I mean, not that you’re a slut or anything, but I’m kind of good at getting you into bed.”

“That’s why it took you so many years,” Steve said. 

“Naw,” Bucky said. “I’ve always had you wrapped around my little finger, don’t lie.”

Steve finally defeated the skinny jeans, and dumped them off the edge of the bed, then came back to look Bucky up and down, biting his lip in anticipation. 

Bucky looked good, he looked so good; he’d put some weight back on, filling out from stringy muscle and sharp bone into the lithe, smooth lines he should have, long and lean and solidly muscled. “God,” Steve said, “I could eat you up.”

“Fuckin’,” Bucky said, “please.”

“You look so good, Bucky.” Steve leaned in, breathing him in, tasting his skin in little nips down across his shoulder to his chest, his ribs; Bucky slid his hand into Steve’s hair and sighed, arching up into every part of Steve that was touching him. “Mmm,” Steve went on, and nuzzled his way down the taut line of Bucky’s belly. 

Those thighs, those glorious thighs— lean and curving and powerful— Steve remembered his earlier resolve to bite them. He set his teeth gently but firmly into the flesh about 3/4 of the way up from Bucky’s right knee, and slowly, lavishly sucked little bruises into the skin there, laving kisses as the skin grew softer farther up. Bucky squirmed ticklishly, pulled Steve’s hair, and complained a bit, but he was pretty clearly into it, and went quiet, breathing hard, as Steve lightly scraped his teeth across the lower ridge of the crest of his hip. 

Bucky moaned, a quiet but profound little noise, as Steve took him in hand and teased at the head of his cock with his lips. He opened his mouth, taking him shallowly in and stroking him. Bucky didn’t make any louder sounds than his hard breathing, but the motion of his body, the tilt of his head, the soft pull of his hands in Steve’s hair, made it plain how much he enjoyed Steve’s attentions. 

Steve would probably never stop feeling guilty for never really doing this for Bucky back before the war. He’d just assumed Bucky didn’t particularly want him to, had figured whatever they were doing was fine. He’d never guessed Bucky’d thought he wouldn’t want to. But he couldn’t fault Bucky for not asking, not when Steve had said such careless things. 

Second chances like this were such a rare thing, so precious, and he set to work on Bucky in earnest, caressing those magnificent thighs and working Bucky’s cock into his mouth, swallowing him down a little more on each downstroke. Second chances were rare enough, and third chances unheard of, so there was too much at stake to waste any opportunities. 

“Steve,” Bucky said, eyes glazed and mouth gorgeously slack, “God, you—“

“Don’t complain,” Steve teased, pulling off for a second and teasing with his tongue at the tip of Bucky’s cock. It was gloriously heavy on his tongue, filling his mouth as he moved his head back down, and he moaned at how satisfyingly it slid against the back of his tongue, the roof of his mouth. The vibrations made Bucky shiver and gasp. 

“Ahh Steve,” Bucky said, “I want— c’mon— gimme—“

“Use your words,” Steve said innocently, pausing on an upstroke to give Bucky a mock-scolding glare. Bucky writhed in his grip. 

“Fuck,” Bucky said, “Steve, fuck.”

“Is that what you want?” Steve asked, twisting his spit-slick hand mercilessly on the upstroke. 

Bucky made an inarticulate noise. “Yes,” he said, “God, Steve, yes, fuck me.”

“Well then,” Steve said, and lowered his head, sliding one of Bucky’s legs over his shoulder so he could lick down the underside of Bucky’s shaft, down to his balls, down behind them. Bucky made a beautifully broken noise as Steve set to work with his tongue. 

Steve wasn’t as good at this as Bucky was, but he’d wager nobody was— Bucky had a gifted mouth, a silver tongue, a deep passion for wringing pleasure out of his partners. Steve was no slouch, though, and he had good hands, always had, nimble fingers, and an unerring sense of what Bucky liked. 

“Steve,” Bucky gasped, “agh, Steve!” as Steve licked into him, breached him with tongue and fingers, opened him and teased him. Steve could claim that as making good on his promise to deprive Bucky of the power of speech, he supposed, especially as the only thing that followed it up was a series of inarticulate, wordless gasps and half-swallowed groans. 

It said only good things about their lifestyle that Steve was now the kind of guy who just straight-up kept lube on the nightstand. It hadn’t initially been his choice, Natasha had just sort of presented him with the enormous easy-dispense pump bottle (having apparently purchased a four-pack that she seemed to think she wouldn’t go through; she might have been trying to encourage him to put out for Sam more), but he’d set it there sort of defiantly (and had, indeed, made a point of putting out more for Sam). While his bed didn’t see all that much action, it was handy having it there. And putting out for Sam more wasn’t really a decision Steve could see ever having any cause to regret. 

Bucky’s vocabulary grew exponentially, and he said, “Yes, Steve, yes— God— fuck me— yes!” with increasing urgency as Steve worked at him. 

“So many different words, Buck,” Steve said, pretending to be proud.

“Fuck you,” Bucky managed, with a fragment of a laugh, before Steve’s wickedly accurate fingers deprived him of speech altogether for a moment. 

“Aw,” Steve said, “I thought you wanted me to fuck you. I mean, gosh, I guess—“

Steve,” Bucky said, almost a whine, and it was so adorable and sweet that Steve put his mouth back on Bucky’s cock and groped with his free hand for the condoms. He found them, but the one-handed logistics of them defeated him (and that was another thing Bucky was really good at— doing things with one hand, which now that he had two again, was highly convenient) so he had to pull his fingers out. Which made Bucky really whine, and writhe distractingly, and Steve had to pause and suck a hot line of kisses across that gorgeous torso. This was as much damage as he’d do, sucking bruises into Bucky’s skin, because they’d disappear within a couple of hours. Bucky cried out, put his hands in Steve’s hair, wrapped his thighs around Steve’s chest. 

“Okay okay,” Steve said after a little of this, “God, I really— I need to—“ 

“That’s what I’ve been saying.” Bucky actually rolled his eyes. 

“You are such a jerk,” Steve said, and put the condom on. 

“Maybe,” Bucky said, “but I’m also a—“ Whatever else he was, it was lost in the noise he made as Steve started to push into him. “Ohhhhhh— yeah, Steve!”

“An oh yeah Steve,” Steve mused, biting his lip as he worked himself into Bucky’s body, helped by some eager and fairly gymnastic squirming on the part of the body beneath him, and those long legs wrapping around his waist this time. “Does that make you my number one fan?”

Bucky cried out, eyes glazed, as he shoved himself up, bringing their bodies completely together. “Ahh,” he gasped, “yes,” and blinked at Steve, a little more collected. “Steven Grant Rogers,” he said, mouth curling in self-possessed challenge, “if you don’t think after all this time that I deserve that title, I don’t even know what to say to you.”

It hit Steve right in the ribcage, and he took Bucky’s face between his hands and lowered his head and kissed him, tender and sweet and gentle like they were kids and not like he had his entire cock inside the guy’s body. “You deserve anything you want,” Steve said, utterly sincere, “anything I can give you is yours.”

“This again,” Bucky said, rolling his eyes, but Steve was an expert on the curve of his mouth and knew he was touched. Bucky shoved up under him, thighs trembling a little and eyelashes fluttering as he found a good angle. “Steve, all I want is your cock just now, but you know if you get me off hard enough I’ll lose enough brainpower that I’ll be happy to snuggle you after and hold your hand and let you talk about feelings.”

“I’ll get you off so hard,” Steve promised, and got to work, Bucky’s heels in his back urging him on. 

“How hard, though,” Bucky said unevenly, breathless, and the thing was, even when he was being a deliberate wiseass, his face was radiantly gorgeous, bright with pleasure, and he was beautiful enough like this that he could have stopped Steve’s old defective heart. The new superhuman one was laboring hard enough as it was. “Like hard enough that I forget words?”

“Like,” Steve said, “hard enough that you don’t ask dumb questions while I’m fuckin’ you,” and drove in ruthlessly so Bucky’s eyes rolled back. 

“Jesus fuck,” Bucky said, “Steve, yes— oh— I can always— ungh— manage dumb questions.”

“Is that a challenge?” Steve asked, sliding one hand around the back of Bucky’s hip to tilt his pelvis a little, and bringing the other up to his mouth to lick it. 

“Everything’s a fuckin’ challen—jeeaaaaahh,” Bucky said, dissolving into incoherence as Steve wrapped his spit-wet palm around Bucky’s cock and started stroking it in coordination with his hips’ motions. “Fuck— fuck— ahh Steve— oh fuck that’s good.” He tossed his head back, eyes glazing over and mouth falling open. 

“Yeah, Buck,” Steve said, starting to lose his own vocabulary. God, Bucky was so gorgeous like this, so hot, so tight and slick and eager, a feast for the senses, and Steve fucked into him hard and fast and precise, and even as Bucky lost composure he was directing it all with his hips, angling Steve right where he wanted him. His hands wrapped around the slats of the headboard, arms bending in a gorgeous display of twinned muscle and metal, power and restraint as they kept Steve’s strength from slamming Bucky’s head into the wall. His legs were wrapped around Steve’s waist, the rough slide of hair on his calves brushing against Steve’s thighs, the smooth skin of his inner thighs firm around Steve’s hips. His cock strained hard and hot in Steve’s hand, skin slick with sweat everywhere they touched. He was so much, he was everything, he was so beautiful, his lissome sturdy body and his sharp, broad jaw, his lush mouth and dark hair and pale eyes, the beautiful column of his neck and the intricate slide of scar tissue and layers of metal, a blending of the intimately familiar and the disconcertingly alien— and the scent of him, God, the scent, the way his skin smelled and tasted was the foundation of Steve’s world, his earliest understanding of sex and comfort and home and safety, the support upon which he had learned confidence. 

“Steve,” Bucky gasped, “yeah,” and Steve was too far gone himself to tease him about his verbal fluency. Instead of speaking he bit Bucky’s jaw, scraped his teeth across the join of ear and throat, over to the cheekbone, too breathless to kiss. Bucky shuddered, crying out, fingers scrabbling down Steve’s back. “Fuck— yes— Steve—“

This last tightened and slid up in pitch almost plaintively, and Bucky was coming, helpless and perfect and powerful and selfish and generous all at once, taking and offering and giving. Steve wasn’t far behind at all, and it felt like he was spilling his guts, combining his body with Bucky’s, opening their hearts together. Like sex was supposed to be, in the movies, and not at all like it, all at once, and Steve didn’t know where or when or who he was, he only knew it was Bucky he was with. 

Orgasm was such an intensely personal thing, and was both the closest and farthest away you could be from another person, all in one; he was inside Bucky and Bucky was spread out for him and hiding nothing— but they were still two bodies, and he could no more see into Bucky’s thoughts than he could see inside Bucky’s veins. But he could feel, he could feel everything, they could feel everything of one another.

Steve wasn’t a sweet-talker, not like Bucky. He had no real control of his mouth, no self-possession to come up with extemporaneous speeches at times like this. So he kissed Bucky instead, tender and lingering, and Bucky was breathing hard, moaning a little on the exhale, muffling himself enough to press his lips to Steve’s, to seal against them in brief presses, open and wet and barrierless. Their bodies were liquid, skins permeable and thin membranes that barely separated them, throbbing with their own separate but similar pulses, their temperatures at equilibrium but Bucky cooling faster. 

“Steve,” Bucky murmured, stubbled cheek pressed against Steve’s smooth one. “Stevie, baby, I love you.”

Steve had collapsed heavily onto Bucky, limbs uncooperative. He extricated a hand and brought it up to— shoulder, there was a shoulder, a neck, a jaw, Bucky’s face. He raised his head, caressing Bucky’s face. “You know I—“ he said, incoherent. “Bucky. Everything. You.”

“I get it,” Bucky said, mouth curving a little, metal fingers around the back of Steve’s neck steadying him. “I do. I get it, Steve.”

“I always,” Steve said, “always, you, Bucky, always.”

Bucky pulled him down and kissed him. “Yeah,” he said. His body had cooled, now, his heart slowed, but he was still sweat-slick, still touching Steve everywhere. 

“Whatever else,” Steve said, forehead pressed against Bucky’s, their breath mingling in the scant inches between their mouths, “never doubt that I love you.”

“You might have to remind me,” Bucky answered, barely any voice in his breath, “but that’s all I need.”

Steve kissed him again, for that. “Okay,” he said.