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All Bucky wanted was his bed, but his muscles ached and he smelled something rotten. Steve would just about kill him if he even tried to collapse on his bed like he wanted. Instead, when he blissfully made it back home, Bucky kept right on moving. "Hey, Steve," he said tiredly as he passed by his best friend. He gathered up his bathroom kit and grabbed a mostly clean looking towel.

"Bucky, you alright?" Steve asked. He held a wooden spoon in one thin hand.

"Tired," Bucky mumbled. "Gonna wash up. You cooking?" Bucky paused a moment to look at Steve. The other man didn't look anymore bruised than usual, and he wasn't holding himself funny. "What'd you do?"

Steve got that funny little furrow between his brow and pouted. "Nothing. Can't a fella just cook for his best pal without doing something wrong first?"

Bucky raised his eyebrows. "Sure," he said easily. "You don't though." Bucky readjusted his grip on the towel, trying to keep it away from his dirty body.

Steve's scowl deepened. "Nothing. I just wanted some decent food for once." He held the scowl for another moment while Bucky kept his eyebrows up. Then Steve's posture eased and he smirked. "Alright, maybe something. Nothing bad though. Go wash up and I'll tell you when you don't smell like a dumpster."

"Can't fool me, Stevie," Bucky said around a laugh. "I'll be back soon."

He didn't feel tired anymore, Bucky noticed as he washed himself. A couple minutes talking to Steve and his whole body thrummed with energy. A smile crept onto his face. Moving in with Steve was the best decision he ever made.

Feeling decidedly more chipper than he'd been not twenty minutes before, Bucky reentered his apartment and put his bathroom kit away. Then he wandered over to Steve who stood before their crappy stovetop coaxing something into an edible meal.

He sat at their off-balanced table and watched in silence as Steve hovered over his pot, poking at it every so often with his wooden spoon. Steam rolled out and stuck to Steve's forehead in a fine mist that puffed up the blond's hair. Bucky's smile stayed put.

Finally, Steve was satisfied with his product and started rooting around for flatware. Bucky watched him curse under his breath when he discovered one of their two bowls was dirty and set about to clean it quick. "You could help you know," Steve said when he was drying.

"Where's the fun in that?" Bucky answered and made a show of leaning back in his seat like a lazy husband. He even kicked his feet up on the table just to make Steve's eyebrows furrow.

"If I didn't know your mama, I'd think you was raised in a barn." Steve huffed delightfully, but it didn't stop him from ladling stew into the bowls and bringing it over. He placed a steaming bowl on the table and then forcefully pushed Bucky's legs off without managing to spill a drop. "Don't make me regret feeding you."

"Aw, Stevie, you'd shrivel up and die of boredom without me." Bucky winked and then pulled his bowl closer for inspection. "Steve, there's about four kinds of vegetables in here, and that looks like real meat." He held back a gasp but couldn't stop himself from blinking dumbly at his friend.

Steve grinned like a well feed cat and ate some stew before answering. "I sold a painting." Then he smiled in earnest.

For a moment, the stew was forgotten, the fading light of the summer sun casting odd looking shadows everywhere was irrelevant, and all that mattered to Bucky was the tilt of Steve Rogers' lips. "Really?" he asked. "Steve, that's great. Who bought it? For how much? Do you think they'll buy anything else? Which one?"

Maddeningly, Steve ate more before answering. "Some old man, kind of a strange one, but..." Steve shrugged. "He saw some of my drawings for art class and that one painting the teacher had me do and he liked my stuff. Technically, he just bought a commission, I haven't painted it yet, but he gave me half the money already. He said he was looking for some art that was good without the huge price tags." Steve fished some money out of his pocket and placed it on the table. Bucky picked it up to start counting.

"He said he might buy one or two more if he likes this one," Steve was just about bursting with pride.

Bucky finished counting. "Steve, this is half? This is almost a month's rent." Bucky's face was starting to hurt from smiling so much. Another couple muscles that would ache.

Steve nodded. "And that's what's left over from me buying dinner. I figure its about time I pull my weight a bit more. I'm tired of you earning most of the rent."

Bucky's stomach turned for a moment, and he almost opened his mouth to start the age old argument, but Steve just looked too pleased. Instead, Bucky just pushed the money back to Steve and finally picked up his spoon. The stew was good.

(.)

"Stop moving," Steve ordered.

Bucky willed his arms to still and prayed that his nose would stop itching. "Sorry," he said softly. Steve didn't even muster up the concentration to glare at him and instead returned his full focus to his artwork. The guy, Mr. Harris or Harley or something, had liked Steve's first painting (an imitation of some famous one or other, Bucky hadn't been paying attention) and ordered another, which meant Bucky had to model again.

His nose itched something fierce and Bucky gave in to temptation and scratched. Steve huffed angrily but said nothing.

A yawn threatened to overtake him, so Bucky cast his eyes about looking for something to occupy himself. Steve was angry enough about his itching, he didn't want to add yawning to his list of sins. The coat rack was boring. The couch was equally dull, though the stain on the bottom did hold his attention for a few seconds. Bucky'd never noticed that particular stain before. The table and chairs were mismatched and the paint was peeling. The kitchen needed a scrubbing, but neither of them really knew how to do that. For a moment Bucky entertained the idea of getting his Ma over to clean, but she'd probably just box his ears. It seemed wrong to get a girl just to clean too, so that was out. Begrudgingly, Bucky admitted to himself that he and Steve might just have to learn to do that sort of thing. They'd already had to figure out cooking and laundry, adding deep cleaning felt a lot like too much.

Another yawn threatened. Clearly cleaning did not hold enough of his attention. The only thing left was Steve. Bucky hesitated. He didn't really like to think about the other man when Steve was right there, but - Bucky chanced another subtle scratch to which Steve didn't actually react - Steve's attention wasn't really on Bucky, just his body and the lighting.

That furrow between Steve's brow was making an appearance, yet he looked otherwise relaxed. There wasn't much tension around his mouth and his shoulder weren't hunched more than usual. Bucky stared for a full minute before he was satisfied that Steve wasn't really paying attention to him. Like it understood that permission had been granted, his stomach sent out a flare of heat that traveled well worn paths through his limbs. Steve was looking at lighting, and Bucky couldn't help but notice how the afternoon light reached the artist. It shone on his blond hair and brought some color to his otherwise too pale skin.

He was perfect. Bucky couldn't ever forget how actually fragile Steve's body was; he even looked a bit delicate, but that wasn't everything. Sometimes, Bucky walked around Steve like the blond was a much bigger man because he misjudged how much space Steve actually took up. As the light lit him up like one of the angels in church paintings, Bucky couldn't help how fully the blond captured his attention. He listened to the uneven pulls of breath, a slight wheeze that had been knocking around in Steve's lungs since he last got sick in March but was getting better every day. Bucky took in the definition of Steve's cheekbones, finally filling out again. The pure focus and determination in Steve's eyes as he flicked his gaze between Bucky and the canvas was addictive. The way his slender hands held the paintbrush was beautiful.

Bucky resisted the urge to shift. Calm down, he thought, else he won't need to be paying attention to know you're interested. The heat was beginning to pool uncomfortably in his groin. "How much longer?" he asked.

Steve was silent for a several minutes before he blinked and his focus shattered. He looked at Bucky with bright eyes and it was infinitely better than the determined gaze of before. Bucky tensed his thighs to keep them still. "Oh, um, I'm almost done for the day. The light's going."

That halted Bucky's thoughts. He looked around the apartment, completely baffled by the orange glow everything had begun to take. How long, exactly, had he lost staring at Steve?

"If you need to move, you can. I can be done." Steve rolled his shoulders and stretched his arms out.

"Um," Bucky said, captivated by Steve's wrists. "Yeah," he finished. I need to go out. He moved for the first time in hours and stretched. "Hey, Steve, I think I'm gonna go out tonight, wanna come?" Please say yes.

"Sure," Steve said as he began packing up his art supplies and separating what needed to be washed from what could go away right off. "You should probably make some dinner first though."

"Beans it is then." Steve laughed and Bucky soaked the sound up like a sponge. Definitely out.

(.)

The only problem with going out with Steve, Bucky knew, was that the other man was far more charming than he thought and, if he could untie his tongue a bit, girls would be throwing themselves at him. Finding some girls that were fast enough for Bucky's purposes but in the delicate range of too pretty to let Steve get comfortable to too plain to be mean was a bit of a challenge. Still, Bucky managed.

"Steve, this is Mary and this is Susan." Bucky beamed at his friend and tightened the arm he'd thrown over Steve's shoulders for a moment, relishing the solid feel of the other man. He subtly pushed Steve towards Mary. "They're cousins."

Steve was suitably tongue tied and managed a strangled hello. Mary's expression changed from one of almost interest to the beginnings of boredom. Bucky congratulated himself and pushed down the heavy guilt.

He brought the three of them dancing, swinging out onto the dance floor with Susan and leaving Mary to get more and more annoyed when Steve wouldn't dance. "What's wrong with him?" Susan asked after a few dances.

Bucky's jaw clenched and he held in the anger that boiled up. "Nothing," he said hotly.

"Why won't he dance then? Mary's bored. Some friend you got there, Barnes." She twirled like she wasn't insulting his Steve.

Rage wouldn't help him though; he still needed the hateful creature. "He just don't know how to dance is all. We're working on it, but he's shy."

Luckily for her, Susan lit up in understanding. "Aw, shucks, that's actually kinda cute then." She huffed out a little laugh and snuck a little look at Steve that was suitably appreciative. Pride filled Bucky then, and his opinion of her rose a lot. Susan turned those big eyes on him and smirked. "Wanna coax him out then. We can get them dancing." She leaned in much too close to be proper and whispered in his ear. "There's something in it for ya if ya do."

She pulled away and fluttered her eyelashes attractively. Bucky's insides quivered a bit and he smirked right back at her. "Well, can't refuse a lady what she wants, can I?"

They waited for the song to end before exiting the dance floor. Steve was sat in a corner, shoulder's hunched in apprehension. Mary was clearly a minute or two away from running off with the first person who asked.

Bucky took a deep breath and sat next to his friend, taking in the lines of worry on Steve's face. "Hey," he said softly near Steve's good ear. "You breathing alright?"

"Yeah, I'm good," Steve said, voice equally as soft. His arms were crossed and he was the picture of unhappiness. For a heady moment, Bucky pictured pulling those arms apart and scooping Steve up for the world's best hug. Those thin arms would clinch, surprisingly strong for such a little guy, around Bucky's waist and the little blond head would fall on his chest. Steve would relax and then maybe scoot back a bit, far enough to let Bucky lean down and press their foreheads together but not so far that his arms would leave Bucky's waist. Then they'd lock eyes and Steve would nod a little and suck in just a little breath and... Bucky shook the thought away.

"What d'ya say we all take a turn on the dance floor then? You can watch me for the steps if ya need to." He caught Steve's eyes and tilted his head a little towards the girls. Steve, the idiot, probably hadn't noticed how unhappy Mary'd been getting. He looked now.

"Um," Steve said uneasily. "Yeah, um - okay." He stood up then and looked at Mary, determination in every line of his body. Fuck, he's pretty, Bucky's traitorous mind thought. "I'm not all that good at dancing."

Mary didn't look any less annoyed, but she let Susan pull her onto the dance floor. Bucky and Steve followed.

Steve stuck close, paying much more attention to Bucky than Mary as he tried to dance; Bucky felt Steve's eyes on him the whole time and basked. He grinned, loose and easy, at the dame on his arm and she grinned back.

(.)

"Harder," Susan panted, arms braced against the bed and pushing herself back onto him. "C'mon, Barnes."

Bucky almost told her to shut up. Instead, he pushed into her harder and clenched his eyes tighter shut. Beneath him Susan moaned. Behind his eyelids, Steve writhed. Steve's small little body opened up for him. His pretty pale skin flushed with color and his breathing hitched almost too much. Bucky's fingers itched to reach down and around, to wrap around Steve's prick and just tug until Steve was nothing but a shaky, trembling mess below him. He tightened his hold on Susan's hips to keep them still.

She started making a huffing noise, almost like a honk, and the illusion began to break in earnest. Bucky slammed his hips into her and dropped down to brace his hands on the bed. It let him move faster but brought him closer to her face and the stupid noise she was making. He put his head down, resting it in the dip between her shoulders, and focused more fully on Steve. They wouldn't do this front to back much, Bucky decided. He'd like to look at Steve's face as they fucked. Bucky'd watch his checks flush and the way it trailed all the way down his little chest. Steve would be beautiful like that, taking everything Bucky gave him and smiling, no smirking. His lips would be pink and puffy from kissing and Bucky wanted to bite them.

Steve wouldn't just lie there though, he had too much fight for that. He'd pinch and wriggle, pull every dirty trick he knew because they never fought for real, and get himself on top. The image of Steve hovering over him filled Bucky's brain. That amazing confidence he got whenever he decided to be stubborn wouldn't let Steve be content to always take though. Steve would want to give. Bucky groaned deeply and the movement of his hips got away from him. Steve would fuck him. Oh god, please, Bucky begged internally and then shot like a bullet. His whole body clenched and another deep moan was ripped from him. It took him several moments to remember he needed to breathe.

He only realized he'd opened his eyes when his vision cleared. Beneath him was the girl, Susan, he thought. She wasn't making any noise or wriggling or anything, so he figured she was probably good. He slipped out of her and got rid of the condom in the trashcan by her bed, ignoring the few others he saw clumsily buried under some papers and make-up stained tissues.

"That was great," Susan said. She'd turned onto her side, body completely bare, and propped herself up on an elbow. "I almost want to do it again sometime."

Bucky gave her a thin lipped smile. They both knew that wasn't going to happen. He grabbed his clothes and started putting them back on. He was sweatier than he'd like, he'd have to wash when he got home probably.

"Whoever she is, I wish you luck." Susan rolled enough to get at her nightstand and pull out some cigarettes. She offered one to Bucky but he shook his head. The smoke bothered Steve's asthma.

"What?" He tucked his shirt in to avoid looking at her, uneasiness rolling through him.

"No man fucks like that that's not suffering from a little jilted love." She lit the thing and took a long drag. "You seem like a nice enough fella, so I wish you well with her."

Bucky didn't really know what to say to that, so he just tried to smile and bent to start lacing his shoes up.

(.)

"C'mon, please?" Steve begged, looking at Bucky with those big eyes that he knew Bucky couldn't say no to. "It'd just be for a bit."

Bucky rolled his eyes. "Like the last two times were 'just a bit'?" He waited for the furrow to appear between Steve's brows before grinning. "Alright then. How do you want me?"

Steve shook his head. "Not today, the light's not right. Maybe tomorrow." He rubbed at the back of his neck. He'd been doing that since Bucky got home, probably before.

"You alright there? You look like you've got a crick in the neck." Bucky's fingers itched.

Steve hummed a confused note and then noticed the hand on his neck. "Oh, yeah. Been hunching over drawing a lot, guess my neck ain't up to it." The pain was a bad thing, but a little thrill of pride went through Bucky. They'd been living so skimpy for so long it was nice to have enough to let Steve go to school without worrying so much. If all that came from it was a neck crick or two, Bucky couldn't be happier.

"C'mere," Bucky said and went to the couch. "Sit." He did so himself and opened his legs to make a spot for Steve between them on the floor. He ignored the little flop his belly did at the motion and kept his gaze on Steve level. Completely oblivious to Bucky's thoughts, Steve obeyed. He settled against the couch and let his head fall forward to bare the back of his neck. His hair was getting too long, but the ones in the back were still short enough that it didn't look bad.

Careful to keep his fingers steady, Bucky touched Steve's neck. In a minute he'd get into his task enough that he could stop thinking about how nice Steve's cool skin felt beneath his fingers and how soft the short hairs were, but until then Bucky had to focus to keep from just grabbing. He wanted to press his fingers against Steve's neck, leave mouth shaped bruises up and down the delicate column of it. Even just petting through Steve's soft hair would be enough sometimes he reckoned.

As Bucky really got to work, Steve let out a quiet moan. The other man probably didn't even hear himself do it. Bucky pushed his thumbs into a particularly tense part of Steve's neck and the other man groaned louder.

Red bloomed up the back of Steve's neck. "Sorry," he mumbled. "You're good at that."

Bucky let out a chuckle. "I can hear that." Steve's flush got darker and Bucky heard some mumbled curses. "Just relax, Stevie." He let his fingers wander down over Steve's shoulders, rubbing at some of the tenseness there.

Steve's head dropped further and Bucky didn't need to see his face to know the other man's eyes were closed. The fabric under Bucky's hands was thinner than it should be for the beginning of fall, but still too thick for what Bucky really wanted. He couldn't feel the cool, smooth skin of Steve's shoulders.

As Steve let out another small groan, Bucky thought it was probably for the best that he couldn't. Self-control wasn't his strongest area really, and Steve was a constant exercise in it. His fingers went lower, to Steve's shoulder blades, pushing Steve forward a bit so Bucky could reach better. Should of sat on the floor, he thought. Or put him on the couch. I could've had him lay down and then I could get at his whole back. I'd probably have to sit on him to reach everything right. The phantom feeling of Steve's thin body between his legs brought Bucky's thoughts up short. He gave himself an internal shake and tried to focus on the knots under his hands. He realized he'd sort of just been petting and went back to work.

He went just a bit lower, as much as he dared, and pressed against Steve's spine. "Ow!" Steve jumped. He flinched away pretty quick and turned around.

Bucky narrowed his eyes. "Take off your shirt," he said slowly, loud enough that Steve couldn't claim not to hear him.

Looking entirely too guilty, Steve did as bid. His stomach was riddled with bruises and a particularly nasty looking one reached behind his left side towards his back. Bucky had probably nicked it with his massage. "What happened this time?" Bucky asked through a sigh. He rubbed at his eyes, suddenly tired.

Steve got that stubborn look in his eye and shrugged back into his shirt. "These guys were harassing this little girl, couldn't a-been more than thirteen. I tried talking first."

Bucky sighed again. "Alright, good enough reason, I guess. Did the girl get away?" Steve nodded. "That's good then. She say thanks or run off?" Steve just shrugged, which meant the girl had run off. "I'll say it then, thanks."

"Bucky," Steve said exasperated, but he smirked a little. "It doesn't work like that."

He leaned back against the couch and watched Steve pick himself off the floor. He wasn't moving too stiff, so it probably just looked bad. Still, Bucky starting thinking about ice. "Sure it does."

Steve plopped down on the couch next to him. "Nah, I don't think so. You're not related and you ain't even a dame, you got no grounds to stand on."

Bucky fluttered his eye lashes at Steve and pouted a bit, tilting his head down so he could look up through his lashes. "What, I ain't pretty enough to pass for a dame?" Steve just laughed and pushed at his shoulder.

"The day you pass for a dame is the day I'm six feet tall." Steve yawned and stretched. He really wasn't all that hurt, Bucky noted. "I'm hungry."

"I'll fetch my skirt then, shouldn't have to wait too long." Bucky smiled wickedly as Steve laughed again.

After they ate, they laid about a bit before bed, happy for the free time. Bucky buried himself in a cheap book he'd picked up somewhere. When they'd judged they'd been awake long enough, Steve turned out the lights.

Bucky wished it was colder. When it got cold enough, he had an excuse to cross the room with his blanket, throw it over Steve, and climb into bed with him. This is ridiculous, Bucky thought. You're whining like a love sick girl.
He turned over in his bed, faced the wall and forced his eyes shut. He was just going through some stupid pangs of want. It'd go away eventually.

(.)

The weather turned colder, almost enough that Bucky could hop beds, and it didn't go away. Steve had him sit for another painting, one that wasn't for sale. When it was finished, stupid and drunk off Steve's concentrated stare, Bucky had dragged them out dancing. He'd picked a girl for Steve more recklessly than he should've and then had to sit through Steve's nervous fluttering as he got ready for his second date.

"I've never even gone on a date alone. I'm nineteen years old. That's pathetic." Steve paced across the room. He turned abruptly on one heel, a perfect about-face he'd learned from Bucky's dad. "Do I look alright?" Steve asked for the millionth time.

He did. He combed his hair special and put on his best clothes. His shoes were as shiny as they were gonna get and he'd borrowed some of the neighbor's cologne. "You look fine," Bucky said as he tracked Steve back and forth. "You know where you're going?"

Steve nodded. "Gonna go see a picture." He did another about-face. Bucky'd never wanted to hit a girl before, this one made his fists itch. He couldn't even remember her face. "Is that alright?" Steve was so nervous his face was pink. He'd finally lost the wheeze and gained about five pounds. He looked healthy for the first time in a long time, if still too skinny.

All of it was wasted on the stupid dame. "It's a good date." Bucky used to do that, when he still went on real dates. Steve's smile lit up the whole room. He checked his watch yet again and his posture changed. "Alright, it's time." He stood up straighter.

Bucky got off the couch and went to the coat rack. He grabbed his own coat and held it out to Steve. "It's newer," he said by way of explanation. Steve nodded and took it. He swam in it, but that just made Bucky's gut clench pleasantly. He roped Steve in for a hug. "Good luck, punk."

"Jerk," Steve said against his chest. Bucky held on a second longer than he should have before letting Steve go.

"Go on then, get." He made a shooing motion with his hands, ignoring the very real urge to wrap himself around Steve and keep the other man just where he was.

"Bye, Bucky." Steve waved and then he was gone. Bucky waited all of ten minutes before plucking out an outfit for himself and putting his shoes on. He took Steve's coat, which almost fit him and was too big on Steve, and locked up.

He found himself in a queer bar before he'd made any real decisions about the night. It wasn't the first time he'd found himself in one, there were a lot in the neighborhood. Part of the reason Steve and he could actually afford to live alone was how many queers there were about.

A large man approached him at the bar, sat next to him and gave Bucky the most obvious eye-over he'd ever received. It wasn't the first time he'd been in a queer bar, but it was the first time he'd stayed. "Wanna drink, honey?" the man said.

Bucky opened his mouth to say no. "Yes."

The man, a big blond brute of a guy, signaled the bartender and ordered something, Bucky couldn't quite hear what. "What brings you here? I don't think I've seen you here before."

Bucky's skin crawled. He shrugged. It wasn't disgust running up his veins. The man stepped closer, leaned over Bucky's arm a bit. He loomed. "I'm James."

Bucky laughed. "Me too." James smiled a predator's smile and pressed his chest against Bucky's arm.

"Really now? How convenient. I don't gotta remember nothing new." The bartender left their drinks and James paid. He pushed one, it looked like a whiskey, at Bucky. "Drink with me James.

His hand was completely still as he wrapped it around the drink. "This was quick," he said. "I wasn't even in here five minutes."

James lifted a hand and brushed back Bucky's hair. Bucky shivered. "You looked nervous, I thought I should come loosen you up." James took a sip of his drink, Bucky matched the movement. "How am I doing?"

Bucky's throat clogged a moment. The man kept touching his hair, and leaning against his arm. He took up so much space. "Good," was all Bucky could manage.

The man dipped his head and kissed Bucky's neck. "I have friends I think you'll like. Do you want to met them?"

Bucky took another drink. In a voice that sounded a lot like Steve, his brain told him not to go. Another voice, that also sounded like Steve, told him to do it. Bucky nodded. He threw back the rest of his drink and stood. "Yeah."

James grinned a cat's smile and looped his arm over Bucky's shoulders. "Good choice, James."

James brought him through a throng of men, some in dresses, some in less, to a table in the corner. He sat them down before three other men. "James, meet Joey, Tim, and Harry." He gestured at the three men, two brunettes and a blond. "Boys, this here is James. He's new around here and looking for some fun."

Of the three, Joey was the least handsome. His hair was dark and his eyes were darker. He had a serious, long sort of face and was much too skinny and tall. Tim and Harry were bigger, like James. Harry was actually bigger, and the blond.

Harry looked at Bucky very critically. "I think we can help you out there, darlin'," he said. He slid out of his seat and took one closer to Bucky, draped an arm over Bucky's shoulders. "We look like fun to you?"

Bucky looked up into Harry's eyes, brown and sort of muddy, but pretty enough. On a dame, Bucky woulda been smitten by those eyes. On Harry he felt another kind of heat roll through him. "Yeah," he said weakly. "Lots of fun."

Harry smirked. The curve of his lips wasn't perfect, but looked well enough on him. Overall, he was a decent looking fella. In the light of day, Bucky probably wouldn't notice him, but up close and in the dark he made Bucky's insides stir.

Those voices in his head quieted. You've been chasing dames too much, Bucky thought. Just a little attention from a fella and you're getting woozy. Nothing else was in his brain. He let Harry pet and touch him, buy him another drink or two.

When Harry decided it'd been enough time, Bucky followed him out of the bar and to an apartment a block away. The door closed and Harry pushed him up against it, locking it as he stared into Bucky's eyes, all predator.

Bucky swallowed thickly and said nothing. He merely angled his face up a little, asking. Harry didn't disappoint. Slightly chapped lips covered Bucky's. Evening stubble scratched around their joined lips.

Harry did all the work, getting Bucky out of his clothes and onto the bed. Bucky couldn't think. All he could do was feel. Somewhere along Steve filled his thoughts again. Harry's muscles and general bigness should have been enough to break the illusion, but it wasn't somehow.

"You want me in you, darlin'?" Harry asked, pressed two fingers just below Bucky's balls. "You look like a good fuck'll do you good."

Bucky moaned and leaked pre-cum. "Please," he whined. Steve and Harry were merging in his head and he couldn't stop hearing Steve's voice in his ear. "Please."

Harry chuckled and it was Steve's voice. "Alright there, calm down."

Not soon enough, hot, slick fingers were probing at him and Bucky couldn't stop shivering. "Please," he begged weakly. The fingers went in. It wasn't anything like he'd thought it'd be, but that didn't stop the fire in his veins. In and out the fingers went and it was rougher than Bucky'd ever been with any dame so soon. He fell a little bit in love with the feeling.

Three fingers in and Bucky couldn't even keep his legs up anymore. "You're falling apart," Harry laughed. He hooked two large arms under Bucky's legs and pushed them up to his chest. "There you go." Harry leaned in close enough to kiss him, but Bucky didn't have the concentration to do it right. Finally, finally, Harry was pushing into him.

Bucky groaned, long and loud. He couldn't breathe, but he didn't want it to stop. "Please." Steve.

Movement, in and out again, but thicker and fuller. He was shifted on the bed, his knees a little closer to his chest, and Harry brushed against something inside him that made stars burst before his eyes. He screamed a little.

The man above him grunted, Steve's grunt sounded in Bucky's ears. Suddenly, he wanted nothing more than to hold the other man close to him. He reached up with noodle weak arms and wrapped them around Harry's neck. He pulled the other man in for a sloppy kiss. The angle change made Harry hit that wonderful star bursting spot again, more directly. Bucky groaned into Harry's mouth. With his eyes shut, everything was Steve.

Bucky saw stars three more times before he lost it, coming all over himself and biting his tongue to keep Steve's name from escaping. Harry kept going, thrusting a few more times before pulling out and jerking off over Bucky's stomach. He added to the mess there and then collapsed to the side.

Bucky limbs fell back to the bed and he couldn't move them, could barely feel them. I just had sex with a man, he thought giddily. I was sodomized.

"James," Harry said. Clearly, it wasn't the first time. Bucky wasn't really used to responding to that name, and he wasn't really able to hear much over the beat of his own heart. "Alright, got your attention. Was that your first time?"

"With a man," Bucky made his tongue say. Air was returning to his lungs and he could feel his legs again.

"I thought so." Harry got up and stretched a bit. He fetched a cloth and threw it at Bucky's messy stomach. "You did alright, but try to participate more next time." Harry yawned a little as Bucky struggled to coordinate his limbs long enough to clean himself. "I'm making some coffee, you want some?"

Bucky just blinked at the man for a moment before shaking his head. Harry left the room, leaving the door open, completely naked. Bucky watched the bouncing of his ass cheeks, fascinated.

After a while, Bucky was able to summon the strength to put his clothes on. His backside ached something fierce, but he didn't really care. Harry was still naked. Sitting on his couch, coffee cup in hand, and naked. Bucky couldn't tear his eyes off all the naked skin.

Harry saw him looking and smirked, spread his legs. "Enjoying the view?"

Bucky could only nod. Harry was the naked one, but Bucky felt exposed. This man knew more about his secret desires than anyone now. Not even Steve, especially not Steve, knew Bucky wanted what had just happened. Yet this man, this man did.

"You're getting twitchy." Harry sipped his drink. "Listen, kid. This neighborhood is probably the safest place for this sort of thing. Don't talk about it outside and only to other people like us. If you try to rat me out, you'll have to explain what we did tonight and it looks worse for you." Harry closed his legs and put his drink down. "If you need people to talk to, I can point you in the right direction."

Bucky swallowed and shook his head. "No, I, um. I'm good. I just..." He cleared his throat. "I didn't think this all would happen when I left the house tonight. I, um. I wasn't really thinking all that much at all." Bucky found Steve's coat, on the floor by the door and picked it up. "I'm just gonna go now."

Harry got up off the couch. "Wait a second." He pushed Bucky against the door with his mere presence. The press of his lips was soft and nothing at all like they'd been before. "Goodnight, James."

Bucky tried a smile but didn't quite manage it. Then he left.

The night was cool, cooler than he expected and he pulled Steve's coat as tight as he dared. It wouldn't do to break the thing. He sniffed at the collar, smelt Steve instead of smoke.

I had sex with a man. I had sex with a man and I liked it. A lot. The ache in his ass was distracting, but not too much. He might hurt a bit more later, but right then he was okay. He shoved his hands in Steve's jacket's pockets. Am I a queer? He'd thought it before. The thought was impossible to escape. He sniffed at Steve's collar again, pleased at how relaxed it made him. The thing was, he liked dames well enough. They were pretty and fascinating and their bodies were great. He liked what he did with them the same sort of way he liked what he'd just done.

Not Steve though. He sniffed the collar one more time and forced himself to think of other things. That line of thinking just made him confused and achy inside. It was better to not think about it as much as possible.

He made the trek home slowly, pulling in the cool night air to help keep his head clear. He licked his mouth every so often, tasting Harry even when the taste should have reasonably been gone. He was still licking his lips when he slipped the key out his pocket and unlocked the door.

The apartment was dark, but not empty. He heard Steve immediately. The other man had gone still, but he was breathing too heavy. For a second, Bucky thought the worst. He pictured Steve moving over a girl, kissing the corners of her mouth and pressing their hips together.

Then Steve coughed and it was wet and no other sound happened in the apartment. Bucky, slowly, entered and closed and locked the door. He hung Steve's coat and toed off his shoes. Silently, he crossed to the beds pressed against the far side of the room, separated only by a small nightstand. He sat on his own bed and shed his nice pants and shirt so he wore only his undershirt and shorts. He folded his clothes them and put them on his pillow.

Steve was still motionless. Bucky glanced at him quickly, hiding the look when he twisted to place his clothes. Steve's eyes were wet and his breathing was too heavy. Without a word, Bucky moved, climbing onto Steve's bed behind his friend. Steve still didn't move as Bucky got under the covers and was completely silent as Bucky wrapped his arms around Steve. When Bucky was comfortable, Steve still hadn't said anything.

"I went out tonight too," Bucky said into the nape of Steve's neck. "This big burly guy tried to fight me when his girl liked me better. The barkeep had to break it up. She still picked him though, even though he was a brute." Bucky squeezed Steve to himself. "Dames aren't all that smart are they?"

Steve huffed out what would have been a laugh if it wasn't so watery. "That's rude, Buck. Not all dames are like that."

"Nah," Bucky agreed. "But some are. Those girls don't deserve good guys like us." Bucky let himself nuzzle Steve's annoyingly soft hair.

Steve let out a long, shaky breath. "She laughed when I tried to kiss her," Steve said. "I thought it was going well. She seemed to like the movie well enough, and she let me hold her hand when I walked her home. Then she laughed."

Bucky sighed, used the motion to pull Steve closer. "Doesn't know what she's missing. She's a silly girl." Bucky then let go of Steve enough to turn the blond over. "Rebuffed on your first kiss, huh?" Steve rolled his eyes and huffed. "Alright, since grammar school, though I don't think Sally behind the library when you were seven really counts."

"That's just cause you didn't kiss anybody 'till you were twelve," Steve said with a weak smile. "You can't stand that I have you beat."

Bucky pretended to sigh. "Alright, you caught me." He propped himself up on an elbow. He couldn't really cuddle up to Steve now they were facing each other. Stupid. "You've been rejected before, why'd this one hurt so bad?"

Steve shrugged. "I think 'cause you weren't there. Also," he paused and Bucky waited, patient. "I'm nineteen and the last time I kissed somebody I was seven. But you, you go out and I know you're doing more than kissing with those girls. I kinda just... I feel left behind."

"Ah, Stevie." Bucky shook his head. "I'm fast. Don't compare yourself to me." Steve gave him the most unimpressed look. "Well, is it just that you don't have any experience? 'Cause that we can fix easy enough." He'd hate it, but he'd find or hire somebody for Steve if he had to.

"What, you want me to practice on you?" Steve said like a joke. Bucky's brain stopped entirely. "Listen, let's just go to sleep. If you don't snore, you can stay if ya like." Steve turned over and snuggled into his blanket.

Bucky could only stare at the back of Steve's head. He stared so long Steve fell asleep. Eventually, brain still not functioning fully, Bucky laid himself down behind Steve. He wanted to hold the other man, but he didn't trust himself at all. He couldn't touch him, but he couldn't leave Steve's bed either.

(.)

Bucky woke to a raging erection and an empty bed. He poked his head out of Steve's blanket to see Steve perched on Bucky's bed, sketchbook in hand. "Don't move," Steve said. "The blankets are..." He scrubbed out a line. "I'm practicing fabric."

Bucky stared at him for a moment, about six different kinds of uncomfortable. "I'm sleeping."

Steve completely ignored him and continued studying the blanket wrapped around Bucky's body. It took him several minutes of exhausted half-staring to wonder if Steve could see his erection. The thought made him twitch and set off one giant pulse of pain through his spine. He instantly became aware of his sore ass. That's gonna be awful.

A disappointed noise drew Bucky's attention outwards again. "Don't move."

"Sorry." Bucky held in a yawn and a few more twitches. If Steve had started drawing him, he probably couldn't see Bucky's problem. "What time is it?" he mumbled.

"Almost seven." Steve's hand jerked a few times on the page. Then he shaded one last area and put the sketchbook down. "I'm done now." He put the book on the nightstand and got up. The space between the beds wasn't very big, and the bed were the perfect height to put Steve's groin right in Bucky's face.

Bucky's mouth went dry and the now constant aches in his body were irrelevant. Steve moved before Bucky could do anything stupid. Carefully, and through years of practice, Bucky got out of bed, put on his pants, and left to the bathroom without making his erection obvious. It went down in the john, which was always nice, and he inspected himself for any semen he'd missed the night before. As clean as he was gonna get without a proper wash, Bucky went back to the apartment.

Steve was eating some toast and leftover watery soup from the day before last. Bucky knocked about until his own breakfast was ready and sat down across from his best friend. His ass hurt, he held in a wince.

Their silence was nice, comfortable. When Steve was done he stayed sitting, waited. It must have been a school day, otherwise Steve would already be getting ready for work. Bucky put his last bite of toast in his mouth and chewed. Steve was staring out the window, so Bucky watched him. Maybe it was a bit wrong, but Steve's failed date put him in a pretty decent mood. The pain in his body also helped. What, you want me to practice on you? played through Bucky's mind for a moment. He almost choked on his toast.

The noise pulled Steve's attention. "Oh, you're done. Good actually." Steve put on his stubborn face and Bucky groaned internally. That face had inspired way too many stupid things. "So, what you said last night. I've been thinking about it." He took a deep breath. "You're right, I need practice."

Once again, Bucky's brain shut down. It probably wasn't healthy how often that was happening. He could only stare for several seconds. Steve's determined look began to fall and that broke Bucky out of it. "Oh, yeah..." Bucky coughed. "Well, yes. You do." He tried a grin out.

Steve shifted, clearly uncomfortable, but fully determined once again. "So, what do I need to do?"

"Let me find you a good girl," was on the tip of Bucky's tongue, but the eternally selfish part of him wouldn't let it out. Instead, he said, "Kiss me." His heart beat started a race. "Like you tried on that girl last night," he added quickly. "Let's see what you did wrong."

"I didn't actually get to kiss her, you know." Steve turned pink.

It was time to turn back, but - he didn't want to. Steve's only objection was that he hadn't actually kissed the girl? "Details. Just do what you did last night. We'll see what you did wrong. Then I'll teach you what to actually do."

Steve, still pink as ever, nodded. "I can do that."

With a hammering heart and palms beginning to sweat, Bucky pushed back from the table. He subtly wiped his palms on his pants. "Okay, Stevie, I'm the dame. What'd you do?"

Steve stood too and got closer. "We were walking home and got to her house."

"You were holding hands, right? I remember you said that last night." Bucky held out a hand. Steve looked at it for a moment, almost like he was going to protest. Then he walked around Bucky's other side and grabbed his left hand.

"I was on this side." Steve pulled him forward a few steps. "We stopped on her stoop."

"Like this?" Bucky asked, turning to face Steve and not dropping their joined hands.

"Yeah. I told her I had a nice time and then..." Steve blushed.

"Come on, Rogers. Let's see what we're working with." Bucky's heart hadn't slowed yet, he hoped Steve couldn't feel it through his hand.

Steve hesitated another minute and then took a breath. He got into character like an actor and looked up at Bucky with such an earnest, nervous face Bucky had to stop himself from leaning forward. "I had a nice time. You're good company," Steve said softly. He moved too quick then, leaning in and up.

He stopped a few inches from Bucky's face. "This is where she pushed me back and laughed at me."

Bucky pulled his hand out of Steve's; it was sweating too much. His insides pooled to jelly. For a split second, he'd forgot Steve was acting.

Bucky cleared his throat. "Well. First thing is you gotta know if the girl wants to be kissed. What was this girl doing?" Steve looked at him blankly. "Did you just stop and go in for the kiss, Steve?" Another blush was his answer. Bucky sighed. "Next time, stop a second. See if she lingers. If a dame wants to be kissed she won't go inside right away. Give it a little bit."

Steve hummed. "That's good to know." He nodded to the floor and then looked back at Bucky. "What else?"

"In my experience, dames like it when you're confident but not all aggressive. So, if you figure out she wants a kiss, don't get shy about it, but don't be too demanding." Bucky shrugged. He really didn't have words for this part. "Make sure they know you want to kiss 'em, but don't get too close if they look skittish."

If the look on Steve's face was anything to go by, Bucky wasn't really making sense. "How do I do that?"

"You..." Words failed him. He cast about for them. Looking down at Steve, he wanted nothing more than to just show him. "You moved in too fast. Most else of that part was alright, I guess. Just, be slower about it. Telegraph it."

"Slower?" Steve pursed his lips. "Like..." He picked up Bucky's hands again, didn't seem to notice the dampness there, and looked up like he'd been before. Slowly, too slowly honestly, he moved closer. Bucky's breath caught for a moment and he almost forgot to stop him before he got too close.

"Too much." Bucky forced his voice to come out normal. "Here," he said. "Like this." He adjusted his grip on Steve's hands and, looking Steve right in the eye, moved in like he was actually going to kiss him. He stopped, an inch or two from Steve's face, through sheer power of will. "Somewhere in the middle," he said and then pulled back.

He wiggled his hands out of Steve's grip. "Got it?"

"I think so." Steve nodded. "The eye contact thing helped." A grin spread across Steve's face. His beautiful, perfect face. Bucky almost wanted to punch it, it was so pretty.

Steve started to move off, like the lesson was over. Technically, it could be. He'd taught Steve a good way to move in for a kiss. His insides twisted and he felt cheated. Steve's pretty pink lips taunted him.

"Wait a second, where are you going?" Bucky heard himself say. "Get back here. You still haven't kissed anybody this decade. You really want to be awful at it?"

Steve froze, then lifted his gaze to met Bucky's. "'Sides, you need to practice the come in," Bucky finished lamely. His heart made a nice lovely home in his throat.

Bucky held out a hand, prayed Steve would take it.

It took him a bit, but Steve did, without a word. He came closer, wrapped his hand up in Bucky's and exhaled. "Okay, tell me how I do," Steve said. Then he was leaning up and in. Still too slow, but not by much. They held eye contact and that really did help. Then, Bucky had to either close his eyes or go cross-eyed because Steve was that close.

He'd deny it if Steve mentioned it, but Bucky made a small whine like noise when their lips met. Nothing dramatic happened, his breath didn't get punched from his lungs and his legs didn't go to jelly, but Bucky's entire focus did narrow to the two soft points of pressure pushing against his mouth inexpertly.

Steve rocked back onto his flat feet. "Well?"

"What am I, your grandma?" Bucky said. He shook his head. "Pay attention," was all he said before cradling Steve's face in his free hand and leaning in. He pressed their lips together again, chaste for a moment before moving. He kissed Steve's mouth open, kissed the other man into action. Steve's free hand came up to cup Bucky's neck.

The touch made him forget that it wasn't real. All thoughts of teaching left his head and he was kissing in earnest, like he'd always wanted to. His hand slid down Steve's shoulder, down and around his arm to wrap around a small waist. Bucky pulled Steve close, pressed long kisses into Steve's mouth and punctuated them with short ones. His fingers itched to go under Steve's shirt, to feel the skin there.

He was about to start pressing kisses down Steve's neck when he remembered. He let go of Steve entirely and moved away. He was breathing too hard and tried to hide it. "Maybe a bit too much for a first kiss, but there's a few tricks for ya." He forced his face to smile.

Other than a little too pink, Steve looked alright. He grinned, which didn't look fake at all, and wiped a bit at his mouth. "Yeah, probably too much. Thanks though, Buck."

He was down right cheery.

If it didn't make Bucky want to stand in front of him and do stupid things for smiles, Bucky would want to punch him for being so happy. Not an awkward twitch in his whole body. No hot gaze like he wanted more.

"Bucky," Steve said suddenly. "You have to go. You're going to be late for work."

"Shit."

(.)

When Bucky got home from work, Steve said nothing about their kiss. The next day he was also silent. By the time a week had passed, Bucky figured Steve had nothing to say on the subject. He tried not to let that hurt, but he felt the unwitting rejection down to his bones.

Bucky managed just shy of a month before his melancholy got the best of him. It was October and it was getting cold. He'd slept in Steve's bed the night before for the first time that season to warm the proud idiot up and stave off a cold. His skin was itching.

He'd meant to find a dame, but his feet had other plans and took him to the same queer bar. Neither James or Harry were about, but a tall, reedy fellow made eyes at him pretty quick. The guy, Rick, Bucky thought, brought him to the bathrooms and pushed him into a stall. Rick sucked him down in a clearly well practiced move.

The guy had nice thick hair, and it felt rough under Bucky's fingers. The shade was off by miles, but the bow of Rick's lips was perfect. Bucky's fingers clenched as Rick became Steve; his middle clenched and curved in. As the lips on him worked him over better than any girl ever had, Bucky remembered the press of lips against his own. Steve had been so small in his arms, unsure at first but gaining in confidence until he was huge behind Bucky's eyes. His face felt oddly delicate, almost like it shouldn't have been, and the contrast threw tingles up his spine.

"St..." Bucky bit his lip just in time to keep the name in. He'd only ever said it once, an accident, and the dame had been named Stella or Stephanie. Whatever her name was, it'd been close enough that a couple chants of the right name made her forget she ever heard it wrong. "Don't stop," Bucky said to make up for his stutter.

Rick sucked him down deeper, until Bucky was in the guy's throat, and it made Bucky's whole body seize. He barely got out a warning before his release rushed through him. He must have been a master cocksucker, because Rick was prepared, cupping a hand in just the right spot to catch all the mess without spilling anywhere. The reedy fella wiped his hand off and stood, tucking Bucky back into his clothes. Then he kissed at Bucky's mouth, pushing his tongue in and coaxing Bucky to suck on it.

"My turn," the guy said and pushed at Bucky's shoulders.

He found himself on his knees in front of a guy he'd met twenty minutes before. Kissing a guy, even sodomy, was one thing, this was a whole other kind of deal. Bucky's mouth watered. He'd never really thought about doing this for somebody before, but now all he could see was Steve's small frame pushed against a door or a wall. With that picture in mind, Bucky fished out Rick's cock and put his mouth on it.

His jaw ached soon enough, and the taste wasn't that great, but Rick made some nice noises so Bucky figured it was worth it. A few inches into his mouth, Bucky encountered the start of his gag reflex and backed off. He didn't think choking was the right idea for this. Rick grabbed his hair and guided him to the tip. "Just suck that if you can't do it right," Rick said and tugged on Bucky's hair.

That's rude, Bucky's internal Steve-like voice said. Still, Bucky did as instructed and suckled at the tip. The noises were better when Bucky licked at the slit and the underside, so he did that more. He put his hand on the base to keep the operation steady. When his jaw was really starting to hurt bad, Bucky started a little jacking motion with his hand in tandem with a slight bob he'd figured out that the guy liked. Finally, Rick started moaning in earnest. In a few minutes, he pushed Bucky off and came into his hand.

Bucky hadn't ever seen a fella get off so close up before. It was kind of fascinating. Bucky watched with a slightly open mouth, letting the tension in his jaw hang loose, and big eyes. The man noticed Bucky's stare and laughed a bit. "Wanna keep sucking, don't ya?" Rick wiped off his hand on some more paper and then fisted his slowly shirking cock. "Come on then, do it."

Bucky had his mouth back on the guy in seconds. He hissed but Bucky ignored it, sucking lightly as the thing shrank. He got more and more of his mouth on it, until curls tickled the very edge of his nose.

Rick pushed at his shoulders then. "I can't take anymore, kid." He tucked himself back in and pulled Bucky back up, kissed his mouth. "Keep practicing, you clearly like it." He groped at the front of Bucky's pants, found a bit of hardness there. Then the guy was leaving Bucky alone in the stall.

The hardness startled him. He was only twenty, he could go a couple times in a night if he had to, but he didn't usually get it up again so quick. However, there, in his pants, was his cock showing a vested interested in being touched again.

He palmed it a second just to feel it out. Not so hard it couldn't go away with time, but hard enough he kind of wanted to do something about it. The image of Steve came back to him, naked and on his back. His pink cock jutted up as proud as he was. The salty flavor of pre-cum filled Bucky's head. His jaw ached, but he stuck a few fingers in his mouth, pretended it was Steve's cock. Steve wouldn't know what to do with himself. He'd grab at the sheets first, then Bucky's hair when he forgot about being polite. He might tug if he forgot, push up his hips because he'd never learned better. The thought changed to Steve thrusting into Bucky's mouth, holding Bucky steady by the hair as he moved. Bucky didn't have a hand to spare to fake the pulling of his hair, but he remembered the way the Rick fella had done it.

Bucky's hand moved fast on himself, rubbing through fabric. He paused a second to get himself out of his pants and underthings and then picked right back up. He'd be on his knees for Steve in a second, sucking until his jaw couldn't move anymore. Steve would make the best noises. Bucky shoved his fingers into his mouth, dragged them across his lips. He came with a helpless whimper, splattering cum against the bathroom stall wall.

When he could breath again, he cleaned everything the best he could and straightened his clothes. He left quick, eager to be out of the bar now that he was done.

He found Steve asleep and starting to shiver. A quick check found Bucky smelling too much like sex, so he stalked off to the bathroom for a bit of a wash. Steve was still sleeping when Bucky came back in, so he climbed in behind the other man and carefully curled up behind him. "I wish I could tell you," Bucky whispered. "But you ain't like me." If it had done nothing else, finally kissing Steve had proved that. Bucky waited for Steve's unconscious body to register another person in the bed. Steve liked to burrow, stuck his whole body under Bucky whenever they slept next to each other. At first Steve was self-conscious about it and Bucky was terrified he'd break his friend, but they'd gotten over it all.

As predicted, Steve hummed in his sleep and rolled until he could burrow beneath Bucky's waiting arms. When Steve was sleeping, Bucky could hold him like he wanted, so Bucky tucked his nose into Steve's hair and let his eyes fall shut. In the morning they'd've moved around, Steve would never know just how Bucky cradled him.

(.)

 

"Just wear my damn jacket, Steve," Bucky said as menacingly as possible. He held the apparently offending thing out to Steve. "I'm not going to either way. Somebody might as well get some use out of it." He tried on his best stubborn face, learned from Steve, and stared the other man down.

Steve stared back, equally stubborn look in place. Then he sneezed and the whole thing was ruined. Begrudgingly, and somehow making every silent movement scream how much he hated the whole thing, Steve put the jacket on. He scowled, the furrow between his brow very deep. "At least let's get inside quick. I don't need you dying on me 'cause you're being stupid," Steve said and stalked forward.

Truthfully, Bucky was cold. Mid-November and it was starting to snow. He really should have kept his jacket, but he had three shirts on and they were just walking home from the dance hall. Bucky could make it, but Steve had started coughing the day before and Bucky didn't want the idiot to catch his death. "Punk."

"Jerk." Steve bumped him as they walked and Bucky let himself get thrown off balance a bit just for the smirk it brought to Steve's face. "You didn't find anybody nice enough tonight?"

Bucky shook his head. "Nah, too worried about your dumb self." Dames just didn't catch his eye all that much anymore. He kept looking at their dates.

Steve pouted, but it wasn't serious so Bucky didn't think on it too much. "You're an ass."

"What about you? Find anybody you're sweet on?" Almost instantly, he regretted the question, but he couldn't exactly take it back.

Steve just shook his head though. "Nah, I'm not much of a dancer." He meant no one would want to dance with him. Stupid idiot.

"I could always teach ya." Bucky punched Steve's arm lightly. "I'll even play the dame part for ya ta lead me around."

Steve pulled Bucky's jacket tighter around him. "That didn't work out so well last time we tried that. I kept stepping on your feet."

Bucky shrugged to hold in a shiver. "Maybe I'm just a better teacher now. Couldn't hurt anyway."

"Okay, but if I step on your feet too much again you gotta give up." He had his stubborn face on again, and Bucky didn't mind giving in to this request. He nodded agreement and stuffed his hands in his pocket. Steve sped up a bit and Bucky didn't say anything about the way he started breathing too heavy as a thank you.

When they got back Bucky did a couple jumps around the stove to get his heart up enough to warm himself. Steve laughed at him. "Shut up and shed your shoes. It won't hurt if you step on me in bare feet. Bucky shucked his own shoes too. "We got no music, you up to humming or should we just do without?"

Steve coughed a little. "Maybe just some water first."

Idiot. "Nah, on second thought it'd probably be easier without music. That way you don't have to worry too much about keeping any kind of time." He stepped away from his shoes and held his arms up like a dame.

Steve came closer and put a hand on Bucky's waist, the other in Bucky's palm. "Now what?"

"You really forgot everything I tried teaching you last time?" Bucky asked with raised eyebrows.

"I think I was sick?" Steve tried, a fair excuse most of the time. Bucky just sighed.

"Alright, box step. Right foot forward. Left up and to the side diagonal. Feet together. Then back with the left foot, right one back and off to the side diagonal, then feet together again." Steve stumbled through the steps. "That's mostly it." Bucky chuckled. "You won't really be dancing, but you'll be moving at least."

Bucky led even though he was following until Steve seemed to pick up the rhythm of it. He only got stepped on twice through the whole thing. "This is better than that shuffle thing you do, right?"

Steve nodded absently, studying their feet. his blond hair fell off his forehead gracefully. Bucky hummed quietly, happy to be touching. Steve's hand was cool in his and light on his waist, but it was enough for now. I can't have you except for moments like this.

(.)

Steve was coughing up a lung and Bucky didn't know what to do. There was a bit of phlegm, but no blood yet, so Steve probably wasn't as bad off as he could be. Still, worry ate at him. He curled behind his friend in bed, rubbing Steve's chest to maybe ease some of the pain there.

"I'll be fine, Buck. You really should go to work," Steve said between body rocking coughs.

"Nah," Bucky said as lightly as he could. "It's too cold for that. The boss'll understand." He probably wouldn't, but there was no way Bucky was leaving Steve's side. "Just relax, Stevie. I'm not going anywhere."

It'd been three days. By now they'd both lost their jobs, Bucky wouldn't hear a word of it though. He just held Steve close. He hadn't been this bad in years. There was probably still enough money from the looney guy anyway. He'd stopped at three paintings, but they'd saved the money from the last one as best they could. It should hold them for a bit.

Steve was shivering and sweating at the same time. "I'm cold," he said softly, all the complaint he would allow himself. Bucky pressed closer to the other man. He tucked the blankets more firmly around their bodies.

"Just you wait, you'll be throwing me off soon enough." Steve's laugh turned into another cough.

A few hours later, Steve fell into a fitful sleep. He burrowed quickly under Bucky's body, still shivering despite how much heat he was throwing off. Bucky was sweating himself, but he didn't dare let go. "Dummy," Bucky said to the top of Steve's head. "We should get you another coat."

Steve just snuffled and coughed weakly in response. "I woulda called the doctor already if I didn't think I was fired." He might still have to anyway. If Steve's fever didn't break soon, there'd be real trouble ahead.

Bucky rolled over Steve so he could lay on his other side, his left was aching. Steve hardly noticed the shift and just wiggled until he was under Bucky again. He ruffled Steve's hair fondly. "If you die on me, I'll kill you." Steve coughed.

At some point, Bucky fell asleep himself. He woke to Steve whining and wiggling under him. Opening groggy eyes found Steve still asleep and clawing at the blankets. Bucky swept them off and Steve breathed in as deep as he could manage. He panted for a few breaths before calming down again. He turned on his side and reached for Bucky.

"Punk," Bucky mumbled sleepily and pulled the frail thing under his body. Steve started huffing again so he pushed him onto his back. Steve's breath evened out again, into an odd, hitching sort of wheeze. It sounded better than it had earlier in the day at least. Bucky slipped down the bed enough to rest an ear on Steve's chest. His heart was decently strong and his lungs sounded wet, but he was noticeably cooler than he'd been when they fell asleep. Bucky hugged Steve's waist and left his ear on Steve's chest. He pulled the blankets back up enough to reach his chin and closed his eyes again. "Once you get better, we'll get some weight back on you. You lost too much again."

Steve breathed wetly, completely out. Bucky chanced pressing a kiss to Steve's chest through his shirt. I love you, you're not allowed to die.

He fell back asleep like that. Steve was still bad when they woke, but his fever had broken a little. "Go to work," were the first words out of his mouth. Then he fell back out and Bucky rolled his eyes.

"I got nowhere to go to by now." He did get up though. He made some food and took a trip to the bathroom to clean up and get a few pots for boiling. Steve would have to go by now. He'd been sweating enough to avoid it, but he needed a wash. When he'd finished eating and the water was hot, Bucky brought some food, an easy broth with nothing too chewy in it, to Steve. He put the bowl on the nightstand and got to work propping the other man up.

"Welcome back," he said when Steve woke up as Bucky moved him. "Think you can stomach some soup?"

Steve looked vaguely queasy but agreed anyway. Bucky watched him eat, ready to help if Steve's strength through sheer stubbornness failed him and he needed assistance getting the spoon to his mouth. Steve clearly wanted to snap at him for it, but didn't have the energy to eat and bitch.

Bucky took the bowl when it was empty and put it back on the nightstand. He stripped the blankets off Steve, who protested weakly, and then picked the other man up.

This time, Steve complained loudly. "I can walk, Bucky, put me down." He wriggled and wheezed, fighting as much as his weak limbs would let him.

"Just stop it," Bucky ordered. "I'm just getting you to the bath so I don't have to wash you again. You know you hated that more than the carrying."

"I can do both," Steve said hotly, but he stopped fighting.

"You can't even bitch at me properly." Bucky opened the door to the apartment and left. he kicked the door closed and walked down the hall to the bathroom. It was still free. Bucky sat Steve down on the edge of the tub. "Can you handle the clothes? Don't get all tough on me, either."

Steve looked down, frustration in every line of his tired body. "I can do the shirt, but I can't stand."

Bucky nodded. He started the cold water and waited for Steve to pull off his shirt. Once that was done, Bucky wrapped an arm around Steve's waist and lifted. He and Steve pushed his bottoms down over his hips and butt and Bucky put Steve back down. He knelt to pull the pants the rest of the way off Steve one leg at a time, careful not to upset Steve's balance. He folded everything and put it on the sink. A quick trip back to the apartment brought the hot water in. He'd get some fresh clothes for Steve once he was settled.

They waited for the tub in silence. Bucky stared at the water to avoid looking at Steve's naked self. It was vaguely torture to be allowed to see but not touch. His fingers itched.

"How's the temperature?" Bucky asked after it was full and he'd added the hot water. Steve dipped a hand down into the tub and shrugged. "Can you get in alright?" Bucky asked.

"Yeah," Steve said. He coughed. "I, uh, I might not be able to get back out though."

So, don't go anywhere, Bucky translated. "I'll just get you some fresh clothes and a towel then. I'll be right back."

Bucky took longer fishing around for clothes than he needed, wasted a few minutes pulling the sheets off Steve's bed and exchanging them for the ones on his own bed. The less he had to see all of Steve's naked skin. He sat down on the floor hard and just buried his face in the shirt he'd gotten. If he were queer too, this would be so much better, Bucky thought as he took long pulls of the lingering scent of Steve on the shirt. Or maybe if I wasn't queer. You're the dirty cocksucker. You're the one who thinks about sucking Steve off all the time. You're the one that wants him to fuck you. He cut off his thoughts before they started hurting more. Now, you're just being dramatic again. Just take the man his damn clothes and nurse him so he can get back to being his too good self.

Bucky picked himself up off the floor and brought Steve his clothes. When he had to pull Steve out of the drained tub, Bucky kept his hands decent and focused hard on anything but the thin body he held. They got Steve's pants on together and Bucky left Steve to do the shirt. Steve tried to stand and failed, so Bucky carried him back to bed.

"Drink," Bucky ordered and put a glass of water down on the nightstand. He picked up the bowl from before and brought it to the kitchen. He nabbed the pots out of the bathroom too. Steve was dutifully drinking when Bucky came back. Without a word, Bucky put his wrist on Steve's forehead. He was hotter than normal, but not too bad. They'd have to wait and see if the fever reared up again.

"Bucky?' Steve asked and coughed. "Can I have my sketchbook?"

"Sure, what you got in mind?" Bucky asked as he fetched it from Steve's school bag.

"Nothing really, I just want to draw something." Steve held out his hands for it. "Any requests?" Steve inspected his pencil for sharpness or something and then started flipping to a fresh page.

"What's the topic in class?"

Steve made a funny face. "Statues and Greek myths." He sighed. "It's horrible, everyone's naked and out of proportion. Did you know they used to think the perfect man had huge hands? They're always way too big for the bodies. I don't like it."

Bucky laughed at the disgust on Steve's face. "It can't be all bad."

Steve relaxed, coughed less violently than he had in days, and shook his head. "No, most of it's alright actually. I just really don't like David and my teacher loves it." He started doodling. "The mythology behind everything is kind of interesting though. Did you know the thunder god Zeus had a daughter that popped right out of his head? And he was constantly cheating on his wife. You know Hercules. He wasn't the son of Zeus' wife Hera."

Bucky settled himself on his bed. "Really? What else?"

"Another affair brought about the twins Apollo and Artemis. Apollo was the sun god and Artemis was the goddess of the hunt. Picture that, a dame hunting. She must have been really good to be the goddess of it." Steve put a few more lines on the page.

"I bet." Bucky watched Steve take another gulp of water. "I know a few girls that would probably like that sort of thing. Better'n me anyway. I don't know the first thing about guns."

"She mainly used arrows, I think." Steve struggled to take too deep a breath. "The Greeks had funny thoughts about girls. That daughter that popped out of Zeus' head was a war goddess. I think her name was Athena."

"I don't know. I think you're being too quick about girls." Steve drank the rest of his water and Bucky contemplated whether he should get more.

"No," Steve said. "I mean, I don't doubt girls could." He shrugged. "I just mean it's funny they thought all that stuff so long ago. Girls couldn't even vote till a few years after we were born and Greeks were thinking up war goddesses."

Steve reached for the empty water glass. Bucky got up to refill it. A smile was his thanks, it melted him. Bucky settled back on his bed and watched Steve sketch, listening when Steve wanted to talk more about the Greeks.

A few days later Steve was left with only a drying cough and the occasional shiver. Bucky went out to find a new job.

(.)

"I think I seen you before," said the big man who loomed over him. He licked pale lips and stared through thick eyelashes. His eyes were a nice shade of green, almost gray. "You're pretty." He trailed his fingers over Bucky's ear and up through his hair.

"Not bad yourself," Bucky said, braver than he felt. His middle fluttered nervously; he pushed that down. "What's your name?"

"Steve," the guy said.

Bucky gaped. "Bucky," he said, breathless.

Steve-but-not-really-Steve stepped closer, pressed Bucky against the bar wall through sheer presence. "Well, Bucky. What are you up for tonight?"

Steve, the wrong Steve, gave him an obvious once over, staring at his groin for seconds too long. Bucky felt his cock twitch in his pants. He looked more closely at the man. Broad shoulders, probably a heavy lifter like Bucky, thick neck. His hair was dark and curly, thin in patches. Still, he was handsome, his face struck a nice balance between square and pretty. And his name was Steve.

"Do you have a place?" Bucky asked daringly.

Wrong-Steve smirked and brushed Bucky's hair back again. He leaned down and kissed Bucky's neck. "Yeah, I do."

"Then let's go." Bucky bit his lip. "Steve." It was the closest he'd ever get.