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Let's Start Over (Maybe Twice)

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“Seems to be pretty quiet over there, for once...” Bucky mumbled under his breath, looking away from where he stood in his apartment’s living room, getting dressed quickly in his “work” clothes to the opposite wall in the living room, trying to listen for any obnoxiously loud and clumsy movement from his neighbour.

Buck barely even knew his name, but it seemed just sitting in this room with the thinnest walls known to man could help you figure out a lot about a person. The man on the other side liked to sing when doing almost anything. Cooking, showering, reading, there was always some sort of tune or sound coming from him. Now, don’t get him wrong, Bucky thought the man could sing really well, and he wasn’t very annoying either.

It was nice to listen to after a hard day at work or just waking up, still a bit groggy. Bucky needed that today for sure, but he awoke to a quiet atmosphere, no clanging, no banging, no singing. Just quiet.

~

When Bucky was all ready for work, he ventured to his front door, glancing around his smallish apartment with slight distaste. He never had guests over so he never found the point of cleaning up sometimes. It was just himself and he could handle his own filth till it became an issue.

Yep, this is why I don’t have a partner.’

Bucky never really cared for making friends when he moved more into the city, away from his mom and dad. He didn’t hate the path he chose, he went to a pretty decent college for the Arts and went on to be a freelance photographer. But it wasn’t the best payroll known to humankind, so Bucky was forced to live in a not-so-marvellous studio apartment with 1 bedroom and a kitchen/living room sort of area.

He grabbed his coat off the hooks next to the door, dragging that onto himself and bent down to reach for his laptop bag, slinging that over one shoulder. Buck did a onceover of the little jacket area in search for his camera equipment bags, finding them all the way on the other wall. He groaned and shuffled over to them, zipping his coat up at the slight temperature change that was happening outside.

“Okay, now I can leave…” He made sure one more time that he had everything, nodding at himself and venturing to the front door again. Bucky dug for his keys in his jeans pocket and opened the door, shutting it behind him and just as he put the key in the lock and was about to head off, there was a slightly panicked sound coming from the next door to his.

“Oh my god, please don’t look this way.” Bucky furrowed his brow, staring at his own door and following his neighbour’s orders, but he couldn’t help one little side glance…

“What the hell…?” Bucky breathed out, doing the fastest double take of his neighbour, leaning against their front door in just their underwear…?

“Told you not to look!” The man huffed out, covering his ‘area’ with his hands. Bucky looked beyond confused, raking his eyes over the man in front of him, seeing how red his bare chest and shoulders were. Most likely from the chill in the hallway due to an open window on either end of it and the fact this man was outside his apartment in nothing but his boxer briefs.

“Why are you out here in your underpants, if you don’t mind me asking?”

Bucky and the other man held eye contact for a concerning amount of time before the man sighed out, standing straight and removing his hands from their previous positions. Bucky tried his hardest to not look down, lifting his right arm to adjust the heavy bags that rested on his shoulder. Gosh, it is so hard to not look there. Come on Barnes, don’t do this…

“I was doing laundry down the hall and noticed that I needed to wash the pants I’d been wearing, so I took ‘em off… Then figured why just have one dirty shirt in my hamper after this so off that went. But when I finished my laundry and came back here, couldn’t find my keys anywhere and my door is a piece of work and the lock’s jammed…” The man explained, running a hand through his hair and Bucky’s eyes followed the movements reluctantly. This other man was so fucking toned it almost stressed Buck out, assuming he was a work-out buff and had like a home gym and had a forever membership to the gym down the block Bucky only ever went to once because this guy (the oh so wonderful Brock Rumlow, of course being sarcastic, though Bucky still saw him at work 98% of the time) he was dating liked to go.”

But Bucky refrained from saying it all out loud, just nodding his head along with the man’s words and thought for a moment while looking at his right wrist for the time. He cursed under his breath at the time, wondering if he really needed to go to work at this point, shrugging after some more thinking to himself and glanced back to the flustered and half-naked man.

“I assume you don’t have your phone on you, yeah?” Bucky asked, and the other nodded in agreement, “Okay, why don’t you come over and use my home phone to call a locksmith?”

The man perked up at the suggestion, nodding happily and moving to where his neighbour stood, looking at Bucky expectantly.

Buck shot him a reassuring smile, having not seen the man smile once since they started talking. He took a mental note of how bright his smile was as he fished for his keys once again, smiling secretly and unlocking his apartment entrance.

“Apologies for the mess, wasn’t expecting anyone over at 8 in the morning.” Bucky quipped to his guest, holding the door open as he walked in. Said man just chuckled under his breath, shaking his head and glanced around the room, taking in the living area and immediately walked over to the couch. He stopped mid-stride and looked back to Bucky, nervously laughing a little and rubbed the nape of his neck.

“I noticed that you let me into your house with nothing but underwear on and you don’t even know my name. What a great way to meet the neighbours…” He walked back over to where Bucky stood, who was putting his camera and laptop bags back near the hooks and putting his jacket up as well. He extended his left hand and grinned toothily.

“I’m Steve Rogers, the super loud boy next door who’s been aching to meet you, actually.” Buck raised an eyebrow, looking down at the extended hand and hesitated for a moment, having no way of not making this awkward or seeming cold. He went with the awkward way apparently, reaching his right hand out and taking hold of Steve’s, shaking it while his face heated up beyond no return.

“U-uh, I’m James Barnes… But you can call me Bucky. This is so fucking awkward, it’s just… You held your left hand out, and I sorta don’t… have a left arm to shake yours... I’m sorry.” Steve hummed in response, gripping at Bucky’s hand a tad tighter when he noticed it was shaking uncontrollably. Bucky cursed under his breath at just how nervous he sounded, his chest quickly filling with unneeded oxygen and he could feel his throat closing up at the sudden panic rising up inside him. He really did not want to have a panic attack in front of his super hot neighbour on their first meeting…

“I get it,” Steve stared, pausing for a moment before impulsively bringing Buck’s hand up, giving a little kiss to the back of it as his own strange way of comfort, “You don’t have to apologise for not having an arm, Buck.”

Bucky looked Steve straight in the eye, cheeks flushed bright pink and he took his lower lip between his top and bottom front teeth, chewing down gently. The anxiety and fear that had been building up in him was slowly disappearing with time, the kiss to his hand helped even more and he thought Steve understood, the latter placing butterfly kisses to each knuckle. Steve smiled between each peck, looking back to James when he got to the pinky.

Buck smiled as well, looking behind Steve for a moment and he hummed, walking forward a couple steps and gestured at a pair of sweatpants on the couch armrest. He inspected it for any dirt and sighed in relief at the fact they were actually clean. “Here you go, keep warm at least.”

The two of them smiled, Steve taking the sweatpants and, against his own will, letting go of the slightly shorter man’s hand, proceeding to put on the pair of pants. Bucky sauntered to the couch again, flopping down and grabbing the home phone from the table in front of him to call the locksmith. Steve followed his actions, sitting down beside him and making sure there wasn’t much leisure space between him and Bucky, a sly grin staying on his face at all times.


~~~

“But really, who would win? Superman or Batman?” Steve asked, leaning back in his seat and looking towards Bucky, who sat beside him with a beer in his hand and legs criss crossed over one another.

Bucky hummed in thought, taking a swig from his bottle and shrugging, “Honestly? Superman would, and Bruce knows that. If you’ve read the Batman comic Hush, he even says that he knows Clark could kill him in a snap. But he doesn’t because he’s too nice of a guy to do it and Bruce is, like, the complete opposite.”

Steve laughed out lightly, taking a couple sips from his own drink and lounging back some more. It couldn’t be anything earlier than 6 PM, the sun already beginning to descend over the frosty horizon of Brooklyn yet he didn’t feel the need to go home anytime soon. The locksmith had come earlier in the day, maybe noon, and had changed Steve’s locks already. But he decided to just stay over at Buck’s for a little longer, not thinking it would end up being till night and they were just talking about all the geeky things they liked so much.

“You’re right for sure, but in one issue of the Batman: The Dark Knight comics, I think the last one, he had the mechanical suit and was like kinda close to being at power level with Clark. And it did help when Superman was shot with the Kryponite by the Green Arrow.” Steve quipped all matter-of-factly, finger raised to emphasise his point, “Plus Bruce’s the world’s best detective and super freaking smart, he could probably just shower Superman in all the Kyptonite he can find, team up with fellow Team Kill Clark member and super-genius maniac Lex Luthor, and bam!” James jumped slightly at the sudden outburst from Steve, soon laughing it off at how passionate he was on proving his stance on Team Bat.

“Alright, alrightttt. You may just be right; they could be potential equal opponents. But, imagine this: We have like a crossover little universe for DC and Marvel and have like a showdown with all the similar characters? Like Batman versus Ironman, Superman and Captain America, or…. Aquaman and Nemor! No one gives them the right amount of credits, man.” There was a drunken slur to Bucky’s words, he noticed how light-headed he was beginning to feel when he sat forward for another beer bottle, nearly tipping over. Steve quickly moved to help his newfound geek buddy find his balance again, both laughing hysterically at pretty much nothing.

This is how he spent his day, Bucky began to think. With a shirtless nerd who also happened to be a movie and gym buff, just as Buck thought. It was nice to get to know the man, actually. He didn’t even care to think about the shit he’ll be in when he goes back to work on Monday, he was just glad he spent his Friday with the extremely fun and interesting Steve Rogers.

“Sounds like maybe the best thing to ever happen to the world, well, besides the time in The Empire Strikes Back, Vader tells Luke he’s his father and everyone exploded.” Steve stated, sounding a little less drunk than James, who just nodded along and began sliding down the couch. His head finally reached its destination of Steve’s broad right shoulder and he grinned at the extreme comfort he felt in contrast to the near anxiety overload he’d been having earlier that day.

“Yeah, I surely did explode that faithful time… Hey, can I tell you something?” Bucky sounded like he was about to fall asleep, but the words left his lips before he could stop them and Steve perked up under his head, a strong and hearty laugh escaping him.

“Sure, Buck. What is it?”

Bucky hummed in delight at the nickname, no one having called him that since high school, but he tried his best to conjure some sort of sentence in return to the handsome man beside him. “I h-hope I don’t spill too much; I get affectionate when I’m hammered. Anyway…” Bucky drawled out, shifting so he could stare up at Steve’s defined features, illuminated by the lamp they had turned on near the end of the couch. He had the sudden urge to reach for a camera and snapshot this exact moment.

“It’s been a while since I’ve made any friends, really. And I been wantin’ to meet you, having lived here for a while now and the walls aren’t very thick. So finding out you’re pretty hot and pretty fuckin’ awesome as well was a bonus.”

Steve cracked a smile for a moment but soon put on a straight face, directing his gaze down to the man leaning against him. He then remembered all the unfinished paintings he had to do, projects that were meant to be due long ago, but this small part in time; this day right here, was much more interesting.

Steve took a minute to think, giving Bucky some movement leeway to scoot to the other side of the couch a bit, cracking open the side table that held up an oldish lamp and started rummaging away. He returned back to Steve’s side with a digital camera, smaller in size to the one’s Bucky usually worked with but it was his favourite personal camera to use. It wasn’t too complicated to handle but there was a lot of memories behind the older make.

“I’ve had this since my sophomore year in high school, we used it in our Photography class. Free camera, why not keep it?” Bucky grinned goofily at the blonde male, who returned the gesture in the form of a warm smile and a tip of his bottle, soon taking a big gulp from it as well.

“It’s pretty old-looking for sure.”

James held back the drunk giggle he felt in the back of his throat, turning on the jet black Canon camera, surprised that it even still turns on. He brings it up to his face and looked through the little viewfinder, pointing it in Steve’s direction with a cheeky smile.

“Say cheese, Rogers.” He mumbled, adjusting the focus on the camera and when he saw Steve pull a silly face, teeth shining bright and eyes squeezed tight from the comical grin he had on his face, he snapped a couple pictures. They both exchanged a soft expression, Bucky lowering the camera from eyelevel to gaze at the other man with pure fondness. The ocean blue eyes were sparkling with something Bucky couldn’t figure out and the pink flush to his cheeks made them pop even more.

“Y-you have really nice eyes, James…” Steve sputtered out, inching closer and closer till there was barely any space between him and Buck, a smirk on his face and he took the beers out of both their hands to place them on the coffee table.

Bucky flushed brightly, glancing down in embarrassment for a second but Steve took quick action, tilting his head back up by the chin, shaking his head gently.

“Shut up, your eyes are nicer.”

“Nope, not gonna argue with you, but your eyes trump all others. I could look at them all day, wouldn’t mind drowning in them for sure.” Steve shot back, leaning in impossibly close, and if Bucky hadn’t been tipsy still he’d have pushed away and hidden. But the alcohol made him so confident that he just moved the rest of the way, brushing his lips against the soft tiers that belonged to Steve Rogers. The latter hummed out at the contact, placing both hands on Bucky’s shoulders, rubbing up and down his upper arms soothingly.

Steve hesitated to do much more then kiss at first, afraid that he’d be taking advantage of the wasted male, but with Bucky slowly wrapping his arm around the taller of the two and tilting his head to the side in an attempt to get what he craved, it was getting harder and harder for Steve to stay strong.

He finally caved, pulling back breathlessly and eyes grazing over the wrecked wonder that was James Barnes. His face had gone flushed even more than before, lips an angry shade of red and flowing dark hair out of place. Bucky was panting hard, staring at Steven with lust blown eyes that seemed to be soberer.

“Why’d you stop...?” Buck breathed out, features shifting to look rejected slightly. Steve immediately felt a pang of guilt in his chest from stopping their actions, though he still stood behind his point firmly.

“You’re drunk, James… You wouldn’t do this if you were sober, surely.”

It came out harsher than Steve had planned for and he wished, willed, and prayed that he could go back in time and stop himself from saying it. His words were empty and Bucky could figure that out, but the first shock he felt sobered him up really well, clearing all cloudy thoughts in the blink of an eye. He sat up straight, swallowing deeply and he knew he’d crossed some sort of line, maybe Steve didn’t even like him that way. Maybe he was just trying to tease Bucky in a friendly way, but he didn’t want to hurt Buck.

It did hurt, though. As Bucky was rising off the couch, he ignored the other’s soft words, “Hey, I didn’t mean it that way,” they stung his already damaged self-esteem even more.

Bucky gave up on listening to Steve, moving to the front door and unlocking, swinging it open and holding it there.

“I’m sorry for imposing myself on you today, Steve. Don’t forget anything on your way out, please.” The polite undertone to James’ words made it even harder on Steve, who was gathering some things and walking over to the wide open door meant for him. He chewed down on his lower lip and stopped right in front of Bucky.

“I really am sorry, Bucky. I swear you weren’t imposing anything on me, just… Forgive me, I have good reasons.” Steve pleaded with him, trying to reason with him without revealing much. Bucky just shook his head and began to close the door, forcing Steve further out.

“Sleep well, Steve.” Was all Bucky said before shutting the door completely, locking it with struggle and turning his back on it. He cursed at himself and doubted any and all possible outcomes of that night while downing one more last beer, finally passing the hell out on the couch that had been occupied with a potential friend for the already quite friendless Bucky Barnes.

~~~


A couple days following the events, on a relatively warm Monday morning, Bucky awoke to a loud crash and an equally loud groan. He sat up on the couch he’d once again fallen asleep on, his laptop almost sliding off his lap but he saved it quickly, groaning himself at the rude awakening.

Buck already knew it was that clumsy Steve again, having been quiet enough through the whole weekend since their last encounter, leaving the house just a few times here and there to Bucky’s knowledge. But the latter stayed home for all of it so hearing the familiar noises put his agitated thoughts to ease. Maybe they’d bump into each other once more, Bucky definitely wanted against seeing him again, afraid he’ll say or do something stupid and cause even more of a rift between the two neighbours.

Bucky didn’t really bother on showering or eating a proper breakfast on most days, dressing up in whatever clean clothes he could find on his bedroom floor and spraying on a generous layer of Axe to hide any other smells. There was a grand part in Buck’s daily routine where he’d second guess his every single move, caused by the multiple anxiety issues he had developed over the years and refused to take any medications for, wondering if he needed a coat or if the jumper he was wearing was thick enough, or which shoes were best, and if he was bringing the right lens he needed for that day’s shoot. All these thoughts and double checking were interrupted when a few loud bangs resonated from his door, startling him straight.

He blinked and wondered who in God’s name would be at his door at 7 AM but he didn’t think much of it as he turned the door handle and stuck his head out to see who it was. To his surprise, it was that hunky neighbour of his Steve Rogers, who had recently rejected him. Bucky may have been a bit sour on that part still.

Steve looked at Bucky, concern quickly settling on his features from noticing just how tired the man looked. The bags under his eyes were darker than ever, he was this kind of sickly white in skin complexion, and there was no denying that Bucky hadn’t put much thought into his clothing choices from the faded navy skinny jeans to the graphic T-shirt of the Flash logo he had under his oversized red sweater, so it definitely seemed like he’d just woken up.

“Hey, uh… Good morning, thought I’d return the sweats you let me borrow on Friday. Been busy over the weekend with work so I couldn’t really drop by. Wish I could, though…” Steve rambled on for a little minute’s time, eyes never leaving Bucky’s confused facial features and he couldn’t stop the little chuckle he let out at the end of his statement. He held out the pair of grey sweatpants over to Bucky, who accepted them with a blank expression and proceeded to turn his head over his shoulder to make sure they landed right when he tossed them into the apartment.

“Thanks for that, man.” There wasn’t much emotion to Bucky’s groggy voice, Steve picked up. The atmosphere was definitely different around them and Steve felt like it was his own fault. Like he should be on one knee begging for forgiveness, and maybe his hand in a slow paced relationship, because this had been the closest he’s gotten to finding someone who he really genuinely liked, he just didn’t want to rush it on their first day meeting.

“Oh, and I also wanted to ask you if you’re free later on tonight? I’m home pretty much all afternoon so loneliness will get the best of me, and I also want to make it up to you for leaving you like that on Friday. I really didn’t mean to seem so crude about it…”

Bucky’s eyebrows knitted together in distaste, not at the fact that Steve was pretty much asking him out, but that it was kinda like a pity date. And he didn’t want that.

“I appreciate the offer, but I can’t accept.”

Steve felt a twang of panic arise in him as he shifted over a bit to lean on the doorframe, moving closer to James. “W-what? Why not?”

Bucky sighed out in exasperation and rubbed his hand over his face, now he was seeming like the bad guy and it just pushed him a little closer to the edge.

“I don’t want to go out with you if it’s just your way of saying sorry to me, really. I wasn’t that drunk, I remember what you said… I’d like to get to know you better, Steve. Not just go on this pity makeup thing so that we could go back to just neighbours. I want to be friends, good friends. I don’t have many of those.” Steve’s face softened at the words, a small smile finding it’s way onto his face and he nodded in agreement.

“That’s what I want too, Bucky. If we’re being honest, I’d want to be more than just friends. If that’s okay with you, though!” Buck cracked a grin of his own, but only for a split second. He may have been all fun and games when he was drunk, but, to his own dismay, he was a tad more awkward and way more reserved sober.

“Tonight, around 6 in the evening?”

Steve beamed brightly, nodding his head and tilting off the doorframe. “I’ll pick you up then, yeah.”

They both exchanged friendly goodbyes, but Steve couldn’t just leave it at that, oh no. He slyly leaned down to meet Bucky part way, placing a chaste kiss to unsuspecting lips. There was a sound that escaped Buck’s lips, something between a squeal and a hum, and they parted after some gentle lip lock.

“I’ll see you later, James. Have a nice day.” Steve whispered against Bucky’s supple lips and reluctantly started to walk back to his apartment to finish his work.

Bucky, on the other hand, was a blushing mess by the time he closed the door. He’d finally worked up the courage to say the truth to his… crush, sure. And they were going on a date later on.

That whole work day was a knock out of the ballpark for Bucky, he hadn’t been this happy in…well, years.

~~~

Shit, shit, shit... Was that the door? He's already here and I haven't even gotten dressed. Fuck.

Bucky paced back and forth in front of his bed, staring down at the arrangement of clothing he somehow recovered in his messy and forgotten closet, broken out of deep anxious thoughts by a couple more knocks to his door.

He built up the courage to jog to the door, glancing down once more at his half naked body with just an above-the-knee length towel covering his most intimate of body parts.The one time I decide to shower for longer than 5 minutes and this happen. Fucking fuck fucks. One pause for breath, another, and... He reached for the door knob and pulled it open just a crack to make sure it was Steve.

Said male stood at the door, one single rose in hand and dressed in a dark blue button-up shirt, matching coloured jeans, with a blazer jacket to top it off. Bucky barely had the will power to not groan from how hot Steve looked, smiling widely as he was offered to come in but soon realising his date was dressed in a white bath towel.

"Uh, is this bad timing? Cuz I can always go and wait at home, since I live right there..."

"N-no!" Bucky exclaimed a bit too quick, mentally slapping himself and cursing his body for suddenly feeling the urge to itch just everywhere. It was times like these where he really did hate his body and he reluctantly scratched his chest, noticing Steve's eyes following his every movement and the smug and hardly there smirk resting on his face.

"I mean... Have a seat, I'll be ready in a jiffy." Buck sputtered out, not even waiting for an answer before dashing back to his bedroom and nearly collapsing in general anguish.

"Holy mother of everything pure, not even startedt the first date and I'm kinda horny…" He once again cursed at his body for reacting the way it did from being ogled at that way.

Bucky grabbed whatever shirt seemed right and threw it on, shuffling to his mirror that sat against the far corner of his bedroom, acting as a shirt hanger and rarely used.

He looked at the white button-up shirt he had on, adjusting the black tie that was hanging off the collar from the last time he wore the shirt the best he could with one hand. Deciding it was a bit too formal, Bucky pulled a navy blue long sleeved sweater over his head and hummed, for once admiring his style choices. He yanked on a pair of boxer-briefs, black straight jeans following soon after and in no time whatsoever, he was walking down the hall while putting on some shoes at the same time.

"Okay, now we can go. Sorry for making you wait..." Bucky declared, remerging into the living to find Steve laying on the couch, eyes closed and chest heaving in slow, calm movements.

James chuckled softly, walking over to the couch and checking that Steve was fast asleep, dropping to one knee and placing a wandering kiss to his cheek.

"How cute." Buck said to himself, quiet enough to not wake Steve as he slipped a jacket onto his shoulders, grabbing his keys from the hook they lay on near the door, which he opened and locked behind him and began his adventure to perfect this date.

~~

"Bucky...? Is that you?" Steve mumbled, eyes blinking open and taking a little bit to adjust to the light of the living room. He gazed upon Bucky in confusion before realising where he was and what he'd just done for an hour.

"Holy shit," Steve sputtered out, sitting up immediately with regret lacing his voice, "I fell asleep, I'm so sorry. I didn't sleep all weekend and I got like 3 hours last night…"

Bucky listened intently, sinking down to the floor with a couple white plastic bags and two white and red pizza boxes, placing them on the coffee table with a grin.

"Don't worry, Steve. You should rest if you're still tired, it's okay." Steve raised a questioning eyebrow, not sure if he should believe the understanding ways of the male. When Buck stood up and shook off his jacket, Steve followed suit, unsure of what he was doing himself.

"You get the plates and I'll get some cups, okay?" Steve spoke, already making a beeline for the kitchen so he wouldn't hear the protests from Bucky.

After some searching, Steve uncovered two glass champagne glasses, smiling at Buck, who seemed to be struggling to reach for an extra plate off the top shelf. This caused the smile on Steve's face to grow to a maximum shit-eating grin.

"Need some help?" There was a different, very teasing, undertone to Steve's deep voice and James shuddered, half out of sheer arousal and the other half was just humiliation.

"Yeah... I only ever use this one plate, so I threw the rest up there. Well, I didn’t, my last boyfriend did, that piece of shit…" Steve chuckled under his breath and reached an arm up, having just a bit of trouble and he needed to stretch a little higher but to his avail, he got the plate and put it on top of Bucky's, walking ahead of him with a wide smirk on his face.

"Holding back sooooo many short jokes right now, pardon my laughter." They both laughed in unison when they reached the coffee table, dropping down side-by-side and almost immediately opening the pizza boxes and cracking open the cold beers that rested on the table.

"Hey, I'm not that short! In my defense, a lot of really cool people are on the shorter side. Like...uh, well, you get the point." Buck trailed off, a scowl resided on his face as he attacked his pizza slice, pouring some beer into the fancy little champagne glass Steve had found.

It was pretty cute; the dimly lit room with the sun setting slowly over the horizon, what was left of the sunlight peeking through the window's shutters, the still audible hustle and bustle of the evening rush hour, and the calm atmosphere that lay all around Bucky and Steve in this comfortable and, almost, enticing manner. Very, very different to the previous time they hung out and Bucky just wished it'd stay this way forever.

~~~

After they decided the pizza had been eaten enough and a bottle of beer done for the two males, Steve suggested they played a game.

"A game? Like what?" Bucky hummed out, leaning back against the couch behind him and tilted his head in his direction. Steve just shrugged and took his place beside Buck.

"I dunno, how about... Truth or Dare?"

Steve chuckled softly after his words, eyes following the features of James' face for a moment, taking note of the unsure look in his eyes and the gentle but still prominent flush of his cheeks from maybe the alcohol.

"Is this like some teenagers' sleepover? Are we gonna braid each others hair after? Actually, wouldn't mind that last one, hair gets pretty outta control..." Bucky went on for a minute, taken aback by his rant and quickly burying it away, nodding his answer to the question asked by Steve, who just grinned widely.

"Lucky me, I still remember how to braid hair! Anyway... Truth or dare?"

Bucky blinked, thinking his choices over as he stared at Steve with uncertainty. "Uh, truth."

"Hmm..." Steve pondered momentarily, leaning closer to James to lighten the nervous mood, "If you don't mind me asking, how'd you... Y'know, um..."

Steve trailed off, gesturing to Bucky's left arm, or rather lack of one. He looked genuinely intrigued but stayed cautious, not wanting to cross any lines too soon. The other man just smiled, a sadder smile but it just made Steve lean closer, arm drapping down on Buck's shoulders and rubbing his thumb along the broad left shoulder.

"Don't worry, I get asked this anytime I meet someone. People generally tend to wonder if I was born like this, well, I wasn't... Sometimes wish it was like that." James paused to interject a quiet laugh, leaning against the strong embrace being offered,

"Happened my last year of junior high, so like 20 years ago, and we went skiing for our grad trip. One thing led to another, I took the wrong trail by accident in an attempt to impress some girl and it led to some cliff. Flew right off it, felt like I was flying for a split second. That's until I noticed it's most likely my last moment of being that same person. But eh, that's in the past! I now settle for a prosthetic-free life, so, truth or dare?"

Steve was listening intently to the story, picking up on just how casual Bucky seemed to be about this whole ordeal. But that was decades ago, so he had had time to adjust to the new lifestyle he needed to adopt and it didn't bother Buck that much anymore.

"Dare." Steve piped up confidently, glancing down at the boy in his arms who perked up at the word. His eyes shined with excitement and Steve could so easily tell he had made a mistake.

"Ooh, brave choice, Rogers. I dare you to...clean up all our trash and then proceed to carry me to the bedroom afterwards. Or the TLDR version, be my maid for the moment."

Bucky beamed the brightest smile he'd ever had as Steve grunted, standing up from his place on the floor and began to gather the two plates, glasses, and pizza boxes, expertly handling them all at the same time and took them to the kitchen.

He remerged a couple minutes later, quickly gesturing for Bucky to stand up. The latter followed, popping up happily and accepting the arm cupping around his waist. Easily lifting Bucky up off the ground, Steve took a minute to adjust them, hands securely around James' back and under his knees and when he confirmed they were good to go, he ventured down the short and dimly-lit hallway.

"Open the door, would ya? Can barely see ‘round here." Steve grumbled out jokingly when he reached the bedroom door, Buck laughing as he reached out and swung open the door.

Steve let out a short chuckle as well, walking into the slightly messy bedroom and glanced around a bit. He decided to place Bucky on the bed, picking up some of the clothes that were on them and he put them aside.

When Steve deemed the bed clean, he flopped down on it beside his date, who was already laying down in the most comfortable position he could find in his clothes.

"Truth or dare, Mr. Barnes?" Steve spoke with a calm manner, laying on his back and staring at the ceiling with wonder. James, on the other hand, was nervous beyond return. Here they were, casually laying on his bed and playing truth or dare. Bucky tried his hardest to have his mind not wander to all the things they could do.

"Dare."

"I dare you...to venture from the other side of the world and come closer to me. Damn, you're far away."

Bucky blinked a couple times, shuffling cautiously to Steve’s side. He smiled happily, tugging Buck the rest of the way so his head lay against the strong chest of Steve's.

Steve agreed on a looser grip, lazily drapping his arms near the curve of Bucky's back. He exhaled a soft breath he hadn't noticed he'd been holding, enjoying the peaceful air that rested between them.

"Truth or dare, Steve?" Bucky mumbled, right arm securing itself around broad shoulders and he allowed Steve to tangle their legs together, chuckling softly at the kind of ticklish feeling of Steve rubbing small little circles on his back.

"Truth, dear Bucky." They laughed in unison, Steve smiling widely at hearing Bucky's melodic voice, the smallest hint of shyness and he just started to imagine waking up next to him like this, in his arms and protecting him from the world, having the chance to hear Buck's laugh everyday, maybe even be the one who causes it.

"Huh... Do you like anyone at the moment? Asking for a friend, of course." Bucky knew his face was glowing red, quickly burying away into Steve’s chest. It soothed him down though, the slight drumming of Steve's heartbeat and the rise and fall with each breath the man took.

"Well, yeah. I do, actually. They're funny and shy and so freaking adorable, sometimes it gets hard to stay calm and collected around them. They also don't seem to know I like them so much, which is a bummer since I can tell they like me too." Steve could feel Bucky get tense against him, wondering if he picked up on what he was saying or not.

"So, what are you saying...? There’s someone I gotta add on my hit-list?" Buck quickly figured how dumb the question sounded, he was pretty sure Steve was talking about him... Was he? No, Bucky. This isn't time to doubt your every thought and action, gosh.

"Ah, one question at a time! Truth or dare?"

"Dare."

Steve tapped his fingers along the outline of Bucky's spine, his hands dangerously close to touching his friend's ass but the dress shirt Buck had been wearing was bunching up around where it had been tucked in messily, riding up his side just enough for some skin to show.

"I dare you to kiss me." There wasn't a doubt or hesitation in Steve's voice as the words tumbled away from him but he soon wanted to take it back. He opted against it, realising he did that last time and that didn't end up well. If he stopped it this time, he was sure that'd be the last chance he’d ever get.

Bucky lifted his head up from where it'd been hidden away, becoming level with Steve's and he just gazed into the oceanic blue eyes in search of some nervousness, anything. He hoped Steve actually meant it this time, hoped that Bucky wasn't rushing things again and hoped this would make things right again.

His right hand drifted to rest on Steve's bare face, in contrast to the small beard he had been adorning the last couple of days. James let his thumb trace along the smile lines at the corner of his eyes and the frown lines that followed, the dark circles that were still visible, the bridge of Steve's nose till the tip, and finally letting his thumb pressed along Steven's lips, reluctantly moving it aside to grip the back of his neck to tug him closer, pressing a quick test kiss to expectant lips.

Steve hummed out quietly, fingers gripping Buck's hips ever so slightly, making sure he wasn't too rough at first before returning the kiss. It was a nervous kiss, hesitating lips experimenting the boundaries and Steve quickly learned what made Bucky happy. A gentle nip to the bottom lip, the subtle way Steve let his fingers drift under Bucky's shirt to dance along the bare skin, it all made Buck yearn for more. He wanted it all and more and his skin burned at the slightest of Steve’s touches. They eventually had to separate for air, both men in fits of deep inhalation but the spark never got weaker, and just as fast as they stopped for air was how fast they reattached with the frantic need for the kisses like it was keeping them alive.

Buck took it to the next step, rolling Steve over softly onto his back and climbing on top of him, knees situated on either side of Steve’s hips. His hand flew down to the buttons of Steve’s shirt, grunting in displeasure at the struggle at doing it with his one arm, Steve quickly taking notice and helping his disabled friend. He also took note of what Bucky could and could not do, since it was in his best intentions to make him as comfortable as he can get. Buttons were a no, maybe they could try zippers or larger buttons or- Oh.

Steve’s thoughts were quickly interrupted at the loss of lip-to-lip action but he had no time to recover, groaning quietly when Bucky began leaving butterfly kisses to his neck and jawline. It wasn’t long till James found his way down the toned chest, making sure to subtly scootch his hips lower, not so subtly grinding against the already growing pain in Steve’s pants.

“Ah…what a tease, I see how this is gonna be.” Steve muttered out through gritted teeth, the grip he had on Bucky’s waist just tightening to the point he was sure it would leave handprints and he tugged Buck up a little rougher, the excitement and sudden wave of dominance pushing gentle Steve away for the time being. That was part one, show who was in control and try his best to keep it. Next step in Steve’s master plan was to get Bucky more riled up, get him just on the edge and practically putty in his hands.

Steve proceeded to flip them over once again, now Bucky lying rather helplessly under Steve and he exhaled a quick gasp, one ragged breath following the other. In a more “needy” attempt to get the other man to do more, Buck desperately arched his back, inhaling sharply when he felt the shock of electricity at the connection of skin to skin contact and he begged for more, annoyed as Steve responded with slowly unbuttoning James’ shirt, caressing the newly exposed skin happily and taking in all the little details of the wonderful body.

The dip of his strong chest, the slight definition in the lower torso, the slight scarring that went up his left shoulder that Steve only took mental notes of when Bucky shook off the shirt completely in an eager manner. He bent forward, his lips ghosting over this newfound discovery with uncertainty at first, wondering just how comfortable Bucky was with any of this but when he heard the male under him inhale then exhale deeply and the skin under Steve’s lips began to flush a bright pink, it just urged Steve along further. And lower.

Stray kisses here and there and the multiple gasps and jerks of Bucky’s body to certain stimuli, Steve was nipping lazily at the taut muscle that shaped out Bucky’s v-line, a rather gorgeous trail to what his main goal was. Just not at the moment, that is. Buck on the other hand, wasn’t too fond of this plan of pushing him closer and closer to the edge but never really giving him the full experience of falling off the cliff into the water below he so casually named the O-zone. But he complied anyways to Steve’s resilient teases, his thoughts quickly clouding over and an embarrassingly strangled moan escaped his lips, Steve immediately glancing up to raise an eyebrow.

“God fucking dammit, Rogers… I finally get you i-in bed and you do this? Just…please.” Bucky manages to get out, biting back the persistent moans that so sinfully rested on his tongue. He wasn’t much for begging, but the annoyingly tight heat that just grew hotter in his constricting jeans egged him on.

“You want more?” Steve whispered, raising himself up and situating himself between Bucky’s spread legs. Buck didn’t even bother trying to not wrap his legs tightly around Steven’s hips, bringing him down and shoving their hips together in a nonverbal agreement. “Gotta say it like you mean it.”

Steve smirked widely, sneakily letting his right hand dip between their close bodies, undoing the button and zipper to his partner’s pants, slipping a hand down it in a matter of seconds and before Bucky could even register what was happening, his hips pushed forward on their own, broken mewls coming from him. Any shame he had previously was thrown out the window in his time of need.

It didn’t take much longer for Bucky to pretty much melt, all Steve had to do was give a couple squeezes to the hardness that rested against his hand and the intensity and shockwaves that pulsed through Buck was enough for him to almost become undone.

“O-okay, fine! I want more, Steve… I want it all and more, so please. Please, please, please, for the love of God. I’m n-not a begger nor a chooser, give me what you want as well.” Bucky keened, assuring himself that he didn’t sound to pushy but he really wanted Steve. Who gave a sly smile, removing his hand from it previous position and using it to tug off the highly unneeded fabrics of pants and boxer-briefs.

More than audible huffs and groans spilled from Bucky’s lewd mouth as Steve worked his “member”, also discarding his remaining clothes and paused for a moment when he was bare. His eyes raked down Bucky’s vulnerable figure and he wondered what to do next, what the other wanted, what he should do to pleasure him in the best way possible. It’s all Steve really wanted, to have Bucky feel good before himself. He wondered if it was strange that he could, and may just, get off to the fact he was the reason for Bucky’s pleasure overdrives. No, here he was, completely hard and not having been touched even once. The legs hooked around his waist trembled, one of his hands pumping away at his…. Lover, why not, and the other gripping tight at the slim hip, thumb dragging along the marks he had bitten what seemed to be ages ago. It was all beyond perfect and he never wanted it to stop.

 

~

 

“Jesus, you are tight...”

A low moan was fighting to escape Bucky, the slight uncomfortable feeling slowly subsiding to the heat that coiled in the pit of his abdomen and he relaxed, allowing the hazy feeling of Steve’s pretty loving fingers working themselves in and out of him take over. His heart was ahead of him, racing at a dangerous speed and he thought it may just pop out of his chest the moment he felt Steve hit the special bundle of nerves that sent his body into a spasmatic point. It dazed Steve, groaning to himself at the simply euphoric expression Bucky was adorning and he couldn’t wait to continue.

“I-I think I’m good, Stevie. It’s been, like, 10 minutes.” Despite everything, Bucky found his sense of humour and chuckled, the lethargic feeling never once fully dissipating and the second their gazes met, Steve’s eyes blazed with so much heat, he thought he could drown in it for the rest of his life.

He carefully pulled his fingers away, wiping any excess lube on the bedsheet and he reached over to the pile of condoms he had put on the table a little while ago. He glanced over to Buck for the heads up, taking the time to push aside the frenzy of his needs and assure this is what they wanted. James gave a small nod but he sat up a second later, eyes fixated on the other man with such an intoxicated gaze.

“Are you clean?”

Steve blinked, the question catching him off guard but he still nodded, “Yeah, got tested a month or so ago,” When he noticed that small smile finding itself onto Bucky’s features, he raised an eyebrow, “Why?”

Bucky just shrugged, snatching the condom out of Steve’s hand and twirling it between his fingers for a moment, “We don’t really need this then, do we? I mean, unless you want it? Because that’s completely fine, too…”

Seemed like the awkwardness would never leave Bucky fully, no matter how riled up he was. Which was quite impressive to Steve somehow? “Nah, I’d rather feel you around me properly, nothing between.”

Bucky couldn’t deny the little drop in his stomach, his arousal reaching it’s peak and he was so elated when he lay back down and Steve moved to hover over him, brushing gentle and comforting lips across Bucky’s prominent collarbone as he lined up and inched his way inside the tight heat. Bucky inhaled a shaky breath, shuddering at the unfamiliar feeling beginning to adjust in him, finding a way to calm himself down.

Think of all the nice things that could happen after this, James… Imagine you’re in a field, it doesn’t hurt, birds are chirping and it may just be bird talk for you to calm the fuck down. Jesus, this hurts. At least he’s all the way in. Now it’s your turn, so buck up, figuratively and literally.

Bucky quickly snapped out of his strange thoughts, not bothering to slow his breathing as he once again began to sit up, “H-here, it’ll feel better if you move onto your back, Steve. I c-can ride you, hurts less on my side too.” Bucky groaned out between shuddering breaths, following each of Steve’s movements to make sure they didn’t lose the momentum they had just gained.

After much trial and error, Steve was laying on his back, hands spayed out on Bucky’s hips to help balance the smaller of the two. Buck seated himself in Steve’s lap, muscles in his upper thighs shaking at the beautiful burning sensation that shot up and down them, and once he was calm, cool, and not really collected, he started to rock his hips back and forth experimentally, finding no words other than fuck and holy mother of Jesus to describe the pure and uncensored pleasure shooting up his spine.

Steve could tell this was definitely not Bucky’s first time, the sensual moving of his hips and just the way he conducted himself, taking charge when he didn’t feel just right yet. And Steve didn’t mind it at all, he let Buck set his own pace and refrained from moving at all, even though he could feel his climax nudging itself into the light. Once they figured out a nice rhythm, Steve begun his side of this, bucking his hips up to meet James half way, one hand trailing down to stroke his partner’s length in time with each of his thrusts. This drove Bucky up the wall, angling his hips to try and hit that spot again, broken cries escaping his bruised lips.

“Fucking Christ yes, right there- Shit.” The profanities rolled off his tongue with such ease, Bucky almost didn’t think it was him saying it, so he blamed the intense orgasm travelling through his veins. With every particle in his body, he continued to let Steve pull him down, let him take full control and it wasn’t long before he felt the pleasure dissolve into raging ecstasy, waves of fire rippling through his body and he threw the steady rhythm they had out the fucking window. Steve wasn’t far behind with his orgasm, pumping Bucky’s cock till white strips painted his abdomen and chest, the man on top of him going still and the gorgeous way every part of him seemed to pull Steven in. His insides were twitching and pulling Steve even deeper, milking his dick practically dry, gripping Steve’s forearms till they left handprints. It’s the strongest, unadulterated, and rawest emotional rollercoaster Steve had ever gone through and he wish it never stopped.

They eventually came down from the heavenly high reluctantly, Bucky unmounting Steve and flopping onto his side with a thud as he tried to catch his breath. Moving seemed impossible for the exhausted Steve but he somehow found the strength to roll over and bring James into his arms, the latter quickly finding a comfortable stance to fall into some much needed slumber. But just as he felt the world slowly dissipated, Steve kissed the top of his head softly.

“Thanks for tonight, Buck. Sleep well, okay?”

Bucky cracked a small smile, placing a lazy kiss to Steve’s neck. “You too. Goodnight, Steve.”

“Night Buck.”

 

~~

 

At first, Bucky refused to awaken. He could feel the shaking of his shoulders but he kept urging sleep back and slipping away from reality once more.

“Bucky, your phone’s going crazy. Wake the hell up.” And Steve’s still sleep-ridden voice filled his ears, causing Bucky to slowly start waking up for real. The sound of his phone ringing was what fully roused him from sleep, the ever-so-geeky Imperial March from The Empire Strikes Back ringtone meant the last person he wanted to talk to was calling him. He reached for it from his bed side table and answered, sitting up and leaning against the man who sat next to him.

“What is it, Brock? It’s like…” Bucky pulled the phone away from his ear to check the time, leaning off of Steve so he could get up and start dressing, “7 AM in the fucking morning, this better be a life or death situation.”

The hearty laughter that resonated from the other end of the line sounded much more awake then should be humanly possible, but his ex-boyfriend Brock Rumlow always woke up too early and it still annoyed Bucky to no extent.

“Sorry, James. Just needed to see if you were coming to work today, I could swing by after the gym to pick you up.”

Buck sighed, glancing to where Steve had stood up and was putting his boxers on, shooting a quick grin in Bucky’s direction. “Sure, why not? Grab me some coffee on your way over, pretty please? You know how I like it.”

“Could never forget, see you in like an hour.” Bucky could pick up on the background sounds of the busy streets of New York, meaning Brock had already started his crazy morning while Bucky was still in bed and naked.

“Thanks, sweets.” Buck hung up the phone after they shared their routinely goodbyes, usually filled with annoyed groans as the other used some annoying pet name and groggy yet genuine laughter.

Steve raised an eyebrow, having this be the first time to witness the two exes talk to each other, but he had to admit how much of a couple they sounded like. It was hard to notget jealous. Just keep it together, Rogers. Bucky obviously likes you, forget about that other guy…

“Hey, Earth to Steven. You just gonna stand there? Want something to eat?” Bucky asked the other man, who was standing in the middle of his room midway through putting his shirt on. Steve snapped out of the little trance he was in and fully finished dressing, letting out a couple nervous laughs.

“Y-yeah, breakfast sounds real nice now,” Steve said with a wide smile, following after Bucky down the hallway. He knew it was stupid to be jealous, but he couldn’t help it. Couldn’t help the light bubbling in his core and the instinct to, in some way, show that Bucky was in fact his and no one else’s. Which was quite primal and not Steve at all… Wow, what jealousy and morning after cuddles could do to a man.

“Anything specific you’d like? I can make you a quick bowl of cereal, I kinda have to get going soon.” When Steve nodded at the food suggestion, Bucky began to put together two bowls of Frosted Flakes, that he argued were the best and only tolerable kind of cereal to date.

They leaned their backs against the kitchen table, sharing a quiet breakfast with the occasional hum of sleep deprived thoughts and Steve eventually interjecting what his mind had been avoiding.

“So… Who is Brock again?” He knew the answer, heard Bucky say his name in passing before and could just guess, but he wanted confirmation from the best source, who was just laughing around his spoonful of cereal and shrugging like it was the most casual question ever.

“My ex-boyfriend, we work in the same modelling agency. I’m the main photographer and he’s my assistant in a way, kind of hard to put into words really. But he’s pretty much my caretaker, picking up after my dumb ass and making sure I wake up and get my morning coffee and not fall asleep in the middle of the interstates.” Bucky spoke with a light tone, laughing at some parts and glancing over at Steve with a wide grin, turning around so he could rinse out his bowl in the sink.

Hearing the story should’ve made Steve less jealous, confirming that Brock was indeed an ex-boyfriend but hearing him speak so highly of this man and smiling made that uneasy feeling bubble around again. And Steve almost hated the possessive thoughts he was having, just giving in and coming up behind Bucky, placing his bowl down in the sink but also wrapping his arms tightly around the man’s torso.

Bucky gave a small smile to no one in particular as he leaned back against the firm chest behind him, letting out a calm sigh and he had to admit he felt very mellow. Usually, Buck’s mornings persisted of waking up too late, eating an apple, dressing up in the same outfit he’d sported the whole week, and just being in a genuinely horrible mood. It’d been like that since high school, he hated waking up and having to face the world all over again. It was never really in his favour to start with, getting the weird looks at school because of the arm and he so desperately hoped it would’ve stopped when he started working, but that feeling of being the odd one out continued.

But in this moment, wrapped up in Steve’s arms and the quiet atmosphere that mingled in the air, he felt any real worries melt away and it felt good for once. Not that he wasn’t happy in any other relationships he’s had, his most previous one being the better side but this was different. Steve cared for him and it was obvious, he cared enough to stay the whole night, to show affection easily, and even when there were knocks at the door to signal Brock’s arrival, Steve didn’t let go for a moment.

“Come on, Rogers. I gotta answer the dooooor.” His protests towards Steve were weak and Bucky tipped his head back to kiss along his jawline, causing the arms around him to tighten and bring him in closer. Bucky chuckled softly, playfully nipping at Steve’s earlobe when the man finally let go.

James rushed over to the door, impatient rapping getting louder, “Okay okay, calm your balls, Rumlow.” He expressed, swinging the door open as he began to gather his work equipment. Brock let himself in, rambling on about the disgusting traffic around this building and how the cab refused to wait so they’ll have to hail another, but he stopped short as he noticed the tall and built man round the corner from the kitchen on his journey through the living room back to the room. Steve stopped as well, looking the other up and down quickly before putting on a showy smile.

“And who are you, tall and mysterious stranger?” Brock said jokingly, eyes crinkling at the sides when he showed a toothy yet laid back kind of smile. Steve held out a hand towards him and shrugged. “Steve, Steve Rogers. Nice to meet ya.”

Brock nodded in acknowledgement, shaking the offered hand happily while handing Bucky the coffee that was in his other, “Brock Rumlow at your service. Hope little ol’ Bucko here hasn’t driven you up the walls yet.”

This caused Bucky to intervene, poking Brock in the side with a tripod he was previously trying to put in a carrying bag for Brock to take. “Shut up and go get us a cab, please. And don’t listen to him, Steve… I’m not that annoying.”

Before anyone could respond to that with more than a laugh, Bucky was shooing Brock out the door while taking languid sips of his coffee in a desperate attempt to kick the sleepiness out as well. He smiled in Steve’s general direction, adjusting the camera bags he had slung over both shoulders, and Steve could tell that his left shoulder was a bit sore.

“Need help with that?” Steve offered, holding out a hand and just as Buck was going to decline, Steve snatched the heavy equip. bags and darting out the door after forcing his shoes on. He hurried down the hall, stopping to let Bucky catch up and proceeded to walk him to the front door of the building.

“Have a nice day at work, sweetpea. And don’t forget to eat your lunch…” Steve spoke in a chipper tone, leaning close to place a happy and exaggerated smooch to the top of Bucky’s head, assisting him in placing the bags in a comfortable position. Buck laughed under his breath, quickly moving up to steal a kiss from the blonde’s lips. They stayed like that, enjoying the simple yet intoxicating gesture with the limited time they had. James was the first to pull back, hearing the exasperated yells from Brock to hurry his slow ass up, but not before he could sneak in a couple more playful pecks.

“I’ll see you later, you still owe me a proper date, Mr. Rogers.”

Steve chuckled, nuzzling his nose in the space next to Bucky’s and shook his head in disbelief. How could he have gotten so lucky? To find such a perfect and out of this world person who fit so well and… Steve just couldn’t imagine spending his week with anyone else, hoping in the back of his mind that it would be much, much, much longer than a measly week.

“Don’t you worry, just go and make your paycheck and come home, I’ll whip up something extra nice for you.” There was one last shared kiss, Bucky finally giving in to the beyond annoyed taunts that he’ll be late and he scurried out the front door, but not before calling one last clapback to 'Mister Steve Rogers’.

“And you don’t worry, I’ll come back to you. There’s no getting rid of me just yet!” He pondered for a moment, Is it too early to say… No, I don’t think he’ll mind it. I really am genuine about it too… “Love you.”

Steve was pulled back for a second there, not knowing how to respond to that. Though it clicked that he couldn’t leave Bucky hanging after such a stressful thing to say first and his insides suddenly warmed up with that fuzzy feeling.Wow, way to teenage girlify it, Rogers.

“I love you, too. Glad you let me start over, even if it was twice.”